Here are my top 9 records for 2016 if you’re interested in publishing them. I tried to find a 10th, and nothing stuck out to me. Maybe I need to listen to more new music next year! Thanks for asking.
Savage Master – With Whips and Chains
Savage Master are a female fronted heavy metal band from Lousiville, KY in the vein of Manila Road, who know their way around some serious hooks, and trade in an image heavily indebted to 80s schlock. It’s campy heavy metal fun of the highest order.
Mean Jeans – Tight New Dime
The Ramones are the best punk band of all time, and a lot of bands that emulate their sound get the song structure and speed right, but miss the frenetic energy, ear worm worthy vocal hooks, and stupidity behind some of the best Ramones songs like 53rd and 3rd, Teenage Lobotomy, and I Wanna Be Sedated. Mean Jeans nail all of it. I’ve been humming this record involuntarily since it came out.
Natural Child – Okey Dokey
Groovy, southern rock with a few country leanings that tip off the bands’s Nashville roots. I’m not well versed in the nuances of this sort of thing, but it’s what my parents would have called “driving music”. When I need to clear my head, I’ll go for a drive and this is a staple.
Bob Mould – Patch The Sky
Husker Du is one of my all time favorite bands, and Bob Mould is, in my opinion, one of the greatest American songwriters. Starting with Silver Age in 2012 he’s been on a tear releasing some of the finest guitar pop committed to record.
Mike Adams At His Honest Weight – Casino Drone
“Underneath The Door” is my favorite song from 2016, it’s near perfect power pop. The riff could be from an early Cheap Trick record, or maybe something from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers? The track has this great Midwestern earnestness that made me fall in love with songwriters like Bob Mould and there is a guitar lead around the 2:40 mark that gets stuck in my head for days. The songs around it are nearly as good. Mike Adams is Indiana’s best songwriter and he hasn’t made a bad record yet.
Tenement – Bruised Music Vol. 2
I read a lot about how Beach Slang are the second coming of The Replacements, but to me their earnestness feels kind of put-on. Tenement are the real deal, playing pop-punk injected with a strong pop-sensibility with a healthy dose of classic rock all being torn apart at the seams by noise. It sounds to me like exactly the sort of thing the Mats would be doing if they were a contemporary band.
Dinosaur JR – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
The riff that opens this record on “Goin Down” is what I would show anyone who wanted to understand why I love this band so much. It’s thick and heavy, but hummable, and J. Mascis understated voice acts as the perfect counterpoint for the big riffs.
Mikey Erg – Tentative Decisions
After writing out this list, I realized I spent most of 2016 listening to guitar pop of some sort, and Mikey Erg is in my opinion the current heavyweight champ of the genre. It’s remiss to call this a pop-punk record, which might be easy since Mikey has written some of the best pop-punk songs of the last two decades. This is the best kind of pop, like Elvis Costello on My Aim is True or Joe Jackson on Look Sharp!, filtered through the last 40 years of grit and noise that’s been introduced to the genre. I’ll be listening to this one well into 2017.
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailors Guide to Earth
This record is beautiful. It’s just as much a soul record as it is country, the inclusion of The Dap Kings and the liberal use of Hammond organ, make this sound like a long-lost Memphis classic. Sturgill Simpson also has one of the best voices in modern Country, it’s deep and rich kind of like Johnny Cash’s, but with even more soul. I can’t recommend this enough.