Here ’tis – my list of the top 20 albums of 2016. It was a solid year for new releases, but these are the ones that in particular perked up my ears, set my toes a-tappin’ and caused me to sing along (horribly, of course).
- Erik Voeks – So the Wind Won’t Blow it All Away (Hanky Panky)
“She Loved Her Jangle Pop” and “GML2C” are two of the best songs I heard in 2016. The rest of the album doesn’t quite reach that level of perfection, but it’s still pretty damned great. Welcome back, Erik!
- The Weeklings – Studio 2 (Jem)
The sound of rampant Beatleism is always welcome when it’s performed with taste and imagination, as is the case here.
- Arvidson and Butterflies – Arvidson and Butterflies (Kool Kat)
That sweet sound of jangle…
- Wesley Fuller – Melvista (1965)
You want to know how cool this stompin’ glam extravaganza from Australia is? It’s only a five-song EP and it still ranked this high on my top albums of the year list.
- Rocket Bureau – Phantoms Ringing 67- 73 (Overdue Miracle)
Taking cues from the Beatles, Beach Boys, and bubblegum without aping them. Even the Lynyrd Skynyrd-sounding thing is fine.
- Diamond Hands – Diamond Hands (You are the Cosmos)
I’m not sure why I didn’t know about these LA-based garage-popsters until they released their album on a Spanish label, but I’m certainly pleased to make their acquaintance.
- Seth Swirsky – Circles and Squares (self-released)
If you like your melodic pop on the softer, breezier end of the spectrum, Seth’s your man. Ace songwriter.
- Joey Sykes – Classic New Rock (Purple Virgo)
He’s a current member of The Babys and his solo record features distinct pop sensibilities tossed with a dash of AOR muscle. Nicely done.
- The Jetz – Cracked Up (Queen Mum)
UK punk-popsters reform after a long time away and come up with a cracking album brimming with energy and hooks.
- Trolley – Caught in the Darkness (Easter)
A simply splendid, varied pop-rock record that delivers the goods, song after song.
- Cotton Mather – Death of the Cool (Star Apple Kingdom)
A new Cotton Mather record is always welcomed with open arms (and ears).
- The Jangle Band – Edge of a Dream (Off the Hip)
Pretty self-explanatory band name, eh? Sweet.
- Legal Matters – Conrad (Omnivore)
Endless harmony. And some pretty swell songs, too.
- Tuns – Tuns (Royal Mountain)
Any Canadian supergroup that doesn’t include Anne Murray, Paul Anka or any of the guys from Nickelback is probably pretty good, right? Right.
- Ken Sharp – New Mourning (Jet Fighter)
Recorded with talented producer/multi-instrumentalist/man about town Fernando Perdomo, New Mourning finds Sharp channeling his longstanding love of power pop and coming up with a consistently entertaining record.
- Coke Belda – Nummer Zwei (Rock Indiana)
Recommended for fans of David Myhr and/or The Merrymakers. Great songs, lovely vocals.
- Gleeson – Curse My Lucky Stars (Almost There)
Austin’s coolest band that too few people know. At turns gorgeous, heartbreaking, challenging and, ultimately, quite stimulating.
- Eytan Mirsky – Funny Money (self-released)
The finest album to date from this NYC-based singer/songwriter. “Watching Dawson’s Creek” is a lovely, uncharacteristically tender number.
- Swedish Polarbears – The Great Northern (Sound Asleep Records)
Joyously reminiscent of old-school Teenage Fanclub. Pristine.
- Tommy & the Rockets – Beer and Fun and Rock ‘n’ Roll (Ghost Highway)
Ten blasts of melodic sunshine that seamlessly meld the Beach Boys, Ramones, and bubblegum. Turn it up!
Top Five Reissues
1. Bill Lloyd – Lloydering (SpyderPop)
2. Game Theory – The Big Shot Chronicles (Omnivore)
3. Jack Lee – Bigger Than Life (Alive)
4. The Beatles – Live at the Hollywood Bowl (Apple/Capitol)
5. The Anderson Council – Assorted Colours (Jem)
Best Various Artist Compilations
1. Twelve String High (You are the Cosmos)
2. International Pop Overthrow, Volume 19 (Pop Geek Heaven)
3. Big Stir: Power Pop & More at CIA – The First Year (Minco)