Saturday, December 16, 2017

Top 40 Records of 2017: 30-21

40-31, 20-11, Honorable Mentions, 10-1

30.  Bring Me the Finest World Map Shower Curtain in All the Land by The Rentiers
BandCamp, Red Executive, Jigsaw Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
Generally speaking I only cover proper EP and album releases on my year end lists, but I had to make an exception for The Rentiers' collection Bring Me the Finest World Map Shower Curtain in All the Land.  From my review --
In just two short years, The Rentiers appeared, knocked out a series of stellar EPs and singles, broke down genre stereotypes and walls, and called it a day.  The brainchild of Plow United and Ex Friend's Joel Tannenbaum, The Rentiers was a "band" that always defied definition by simply being great.  Hosting a revolving set of members (often a slightly different lineup for each release) the band mixed elements of power pop, indie rock, synth pop, and indie pop, with pure punk ethos resulting in a sound that was invigorating, melodic, and unbelievably catchy.  And that's just the music.  Lyrically Tannenbaum is an utter genius.  These songs are clever, poetic stories that are at times literal and at times metaphoric with their sophistication, heart, and nuance.
If this really is the end of The Rentiers, then it is a fitting, complementary, and satisfying way to go out.  I have been a fan of this group since the beginning and have eagerly awaited and anticipated each release.  It makes me sad to know that this is the end.  Joel Tannenbaum is a tremendously talented musician and an extremely nice guy whose career I will follow wherever it takes me,  For those who have never heard The Rentiers, Bring Me the Finest World Map Shower Curtain in All the Land is the perfect introduction and conclusion presenting everything that this amazing act had to offer.  This is a band that I am truly going to miss.
And miss them I do.

29.  Cowgirl Blues by Katie Ellen
BandCamp, Lauren Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
Born out of the ashes of the excellent, albeit short-lived, Brooklyn pop punk band Chumped, Katie Ellen plays a timeless blend of power pop and indie rock with some hints of '60s pop (a la The Beach Boys).  Cowgirl Blues is filled with hooks, fuzz tinged guitar, harmonies, and great pop sensibilities.  Singer/guitarist Anika Pyle is on fire with wit, intelligence, and passion driving this record home.

28.  New Air by Fire In The Radio
BandCamp, Wednesday RecordsAmazon, iTunes, Spotify
Fire In The Radio is a band that checks off all of the right boxes.  They have songs that are catchy with choruses that are big and boisterous, mix elements from all the right genres including '90s punk and indie rock, '80s college rock, and early emo while sounding completely modern and fresh.  New Noise hit the nail on the head in their review of New Air stating --
"The sophomore album from these Philly natives highlights the best melodic punk from the ’90s, adds a smattering of New Wave, shoegaze and even grunge to the driving guitars, soaring harmonies and arsenal of hooks resulting in a quality of song craft akin to Banner Pilot or The Menzingers. For the older crowd, imagine late period Hüsker Dü growing up on early Merge albums and a copy of 24 Hour Revenge Therapy..."
This is great stuff.

27.  Tonight! by The Warning Shots
BandCamp, State Line Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
The Warning Shots full-length debut Tonight! is a blast of pure punk rock 'n' roll greatness.  This band's mix of high energy punk (with an emphasis on the '77 style variety), power pop hooks, and classic rock anthems results in a sound and a record that are fun, satisfying, and powerful.  This is a must for fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Hudson Falcons, The Clash, and The Ducky Boys.

26.  Lucky Seven by The Scandals
BandCamp, Panic State Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
The Scandals play gritty and gruff, Bruce Springsteen influenced, catchy and hooky punk rock.  Hailing from New Jersey, the band often gets compared to fellow Garden State heroes The Gaslight Anthem (heck Brian Fallon produced this EP) and while the comparison is fair, The Scandals fall more on the punk side of things.  Lucky Seven is a five song EP of that showcases what this band is all about and what they are capable of.  I can't wait to hear what they do next.

25.  Camp Cope by Camp Cope
BandCamp, Run For Cover Records, AmazonSpotify
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Camp Cope was born out of a solo project by singer/guitarist Georgia McDonald and has since grown into a full band.  Their eight song full-length debut mixes impassioned vocals with searing lyrics that range from deeply personal to poignantly political and catchy mid-tempo indie rock.  There is fire and heart and angst throughout Camp Cope making for a powerful record.  Originally released in 2016 by the band, Camp Cope was given a stateside physical release this year by Run For Cover Records.

24.  Fresh by Fresh
BandCamp, Specialist Subject Records, Spotify
Fresh's self-titled full-length debut is nothing but indie poppy punky goodness.  The songs are short and to the point, dripping with urgency and teenage angst (many were literally written when the band members were in high school), and filled with hooks galore.  Fresh fits as perfectly next to Specialist Subject label-mates Shit Present and Muncie Girls as would with classic indie and punk bands like Blake Babies and Bratmobile.  I can't wait to hear what this band does next.

23.  I Don't Live Here Anymore by Dizzy Bats
BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
NYC's Dizzy Bats find new depth and darkness on their latest EP I Don't Live Here Anymore.  Written during the insanity of the 2016 presidential election, the three song release deals with mental illness, anguish, fear of falling into complete darkness.  What keeps the EP from being a total downer are the hooks and big choruses on "I'm Listening" and "Scared."  The record also finds singer/guitarist Connor Frost channeling Billie Joe Armstrong giving the vocals a smooth texture that brings out the melodies and harmonies.

22.  Floating Now by Hard Girls
Asian Man Records, Specialist Subject Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
Hard Girls bring their special brand of post punk indie rock to a new level on their third full-length Floating Now.  The band's sound is like a mix of Sebadoh and Naked Raygun or maybe Superchunk and Fugazi, but then takes things to the next level.  This is a tight band that has unleashed another in a series of excellent records.

21.  High on 95 by Tim Barry
BandCamp, Big CartelChunksaah RecordsAmazon, iTunes, Spotify
Tim Barry is probably the best punk turned pure folk troubadour out there.  Sure lots of punks have traded in their electric guitars and leather jackets for acoustic guitars and flannels but few, if any, have done it with the purity of Tim Barry.  His seventh solo album High on 95 is another prime example of perfect songwriting through heart and honest simplicity.  This record is outstanding.

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