Sunday, December 11, 2016

Top 30 Records of 2016: 20-11

Here is part two of my favorite records of 2016.

30-21, Honorable Mentions, 10-1

20.  Love and Other Crimes by Masked Intruder
MerchNOW, Pure Noise Records, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Interpunk
From my review --
Masked Intruder return with a six-song EP of pure pop punk perfection in Love and Other Crimes.  From the opening chords of "Take What I Want" to the closing melody of "If Only," Love and Other Crimes highlight exactly why Masked Intruder is the absolute best pop punk band in the world today.  These songs are ridiculously infectious and catchy as all hell, driven by hooks that are to die for, melodies that are guaranteed to get stuck in your head, and harmonies that would put even then best barbershop quartets to shame.  You can't listen to this record and not have a great time.

19.  Move Like a Ghost by toyGuitar
BandCamp, Fat Wreck Chords, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Interpunk
From my review --
toyGuitar's follow-up to last year's excellent In This Mess is the equally brilliant EP Move Like a Ghost.  Over the course of three releases the band has created and perfected a sound that mixes elements of power pop, garage rock, punk, and surf resulting in music that is high energy, catchy as hell, and unique and familiar all at the same time.  [...]  This is the kind of record that should appeal to a wide range of fans from punks to indie rockers to garage rockers to everyone in-between.  Hell this should even appeal to the hipster kids that are into all of those bands with the fuzzy guitars that the cool music websites talk about, only this band is actually really good.

18.  Developing A Theory Of Integrity by MakeWar
Red Scare Industries, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
From my review --
MakeWar's sophomore full-length Developing A Theory Of Integrity picks up where the Brooklyn trio's self-titled debut left off but adds new depths and nuances to the band's punk/alt country sound.  Gritty and gruff anthems with big hooks and sing-along choruses dominate Developing... resulting in a sound that is mix of sub-genres and scenes or as the fine folks at Red Scare Industries so perfectly describe it -- "their sound blends Gainesville/Chicago drinking anthems with Long Island emo-punk like Taking Back Sunday and Brand New."  [...]  What's great about Developing A Theory Of Integrity is that it actually surpasses its predecessor and thus shows the world that the best from this band is yet to come and I for one can't wait to see what they come up with next.

17.  Mint by Worship This!
BandCamp, A-F Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
From my review --
Worship This! is one of those bands that just perfectly encapsulates everything that is good about punk rock.  They play songs that are passionate and raucous driven by big hooks, tight melodies, and expertly measured aggression.  In other words they have taken all of the best parts of pop punk, melodic hardcore, Midwest punk, and post hardcore and fused them into a coherent and joyous sound that brings to mind acts like Iron Chic, Red City Radio, Timeshares, and Latterman.  The band's sophomore full-length Mint is nothing short of fantastic.  From top to bottom this album kills and it amazes me that this band isn't one of the biggest acts in the genre.  [...]  Here's the bottom line, Mint is an excellent record by a woefully underrated and under-appreciated band.  Fans of great melodic punk rock (in it many various forms) should do themselves a favor and get this record right now.

16.  Amateur Hour by The Rentiers
Red Executive, Death to False Hope RecordsSpotify
The Rentiers in general and this EP in particular will always hold a special place in my heart.  Oklahoma Lefty was lucky enough to host the premiere of this EP back in February, something I'd never even considered doing prior to corresponding with The Rentiers' Joel Tannenbaum.  In 2015 The Rentiers released two EPs and two singles, all of which were excellent, so when the chance came to host the premiere of the band's next release, I jumped at it.  The Rentiers released two additional singles in 2016 in "Don't Go to College" and "Brooklyn's Been Good to Me" both of which are fantastic.  There are plans for a CD release in 2017 that will collect all of the band's material up to this point and needless to say, I am so there!
From my review --
Listening to this EP is an absolute joy.  Tannenbaum has a way with words and hooks that sucks you in and pulls on your heart.  These songs will not only bring a smile to your face and make you dance but they'll also make you think and feel, even if you're not exactly sure why.  And that is the mark of a great songwriter; the ability to craft meaning and soul and narrative into music that can touch different people in different and unique ways.  Needs to say, Joel Tannenbaum has this talent and ability in spades.  [...]  Simply put, Amateur Hour is pop music perfection.

15.  What a Time to Be Barely Alive by Arms Aloft
Red Scare Industries, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
From my review --
Arms Aloft sophomore full-length record, What a Time to Be Barely Alive, is a poignant high energy blast of earnest frustration and anger put to music.  The band's music is most often described as Midwestern punk, which typically evokes thoughts of acts like Dillinger Four and Banner Pilot, and while there are elements of that style present, there's a gruff edge and slight twang that adds deeper layers to this record.  [...]  The record includes powerfully uplifting anthems, angst dripping rockers, thundering melodies, big hooks and bigger choruses, and lyrics that are as clever as they are passionate. What a Time... is my first proper introduction to Arms Aloft and needs to say, I'm hooked (especially when the record immediately reminds me of acts like Two Cow Garage and Nothington).  What a Time to Be Barely Alive is an outstanding record that is a triumph for not only the band but Red Scare Industries (which continues to be one of the best independent record labels going)...

14.  Empty Beach Town by Shallow Cuts
No Idea Records, BandCamp [Shallow Cuts], BandCamp [No Idea], Amazon, iTunesSpotify
From my review --
Shallow Cuts' full-length debut Empty Beach Town is 12 songs of outstanding power pop punk rock 'n' roll.  Picking up where 2014's excellent Storm Watch left off, Empty Beach Town absolutely knocks it out of the park proving that Shallow Cuts are a band to be reckoned with.  Mixing elements of melodic punk rock, classic rock 'n' roll, and power pop, Shallow Cuts have created a sound that is unbelievably catchy, fresh, and familiar all at the same time.

13.  Moving Out by Old Fox Road
BandCamp, Spotify
From my review --
Old Fox Road's latest EP Moving Out is nothing short of pop punk perfection.  The four-song collection is painfully catchy and scarily infectious to the point of daring you to not sing and dance along.  What's great about Old Fox Road, aside from the killer hooks and top notch songs, is the slightly gruff edge in the vocals.  Far too often pop punk singing is pristine, clean, and spotless completely lacking any edge or sense of danger.  That is not the case with Old Fox Road and it is an absolute breath of fresh air.

12.  Hypercaffium Spazzinate [Deluxe Edition] by Descendents
Kings Road Merch, Epitaph Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Interpunk
From my review --
The Descendents have been a band in various forms for nearly 40 years.  They have gone from misfit teenager kids in southern California playing songs about girls and food to middle-aged adults living in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Delaware playing songs about girls and food.  At least that's the story on the surface.  Yes the band members are all in their 50s and yes Hypercaffium Spazzinate is an album of buzz-saw pop songs played through the lens of early '80s punk including the obligatory silly song about food, but if that is all you are getting from this record, then you are truly missing the point.  [...]  ...this band is made up of four of the greatest songwriters alive today; songwriters that deserve to be known for more than short, silly, fast songs about coffee, food, and girls.  And those that dare to look beneath that outer layer, those that pull back the shell of preconceived notions about this band and really listen to this album will find a record of incredible pop hooks with deep emotional connections that tackle serious topics like growing up (and older), parenthood, adulthood, friendship, and family, while still holding on to the energy and attitude of bring a teenage misfit.

11.  Pronounced Nirvana by The Gomes
BandCamp, CD Baby, Spotify
From my review --
The Gomes debut Pronounced Nirvana is a fascinating mix of power pop, shoegaze-y indie rock, garage rock, and punk resulting in a substantial wall of sound that belies the fact that this band is made up of only two people.  Guitarist/vocalist Klint Vance and drummer Korben Neftzger have created a spectacular record that effortlessly moves from the fast to the slow, the loud to the soft, and the dark to the thoughtful with precision, power, and purpose.  [...]  From top to bottom, Pronounced Nirvana is a complex and thoroughly satisfying record, especially once the listener has taken the time to let these songs sink in and breathe.

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