Sunday, January 7, 2018

Top 20 of 2017

TOP 20 of 2017 - Ed

I could have easily done a top 30 this year. In fact, I should have. 2017 had a lot of good releases this year, which made this year even tougher than normal. Again, I choose off the records we get sent for review to the abandoned house of mystery known as Audio Ammunition. Enjoy!

Accidente – Pulso LP (Dirt Cult)
It’s great when you get to hear a band for the first time because you don’t get the baggage or expectations of previous releases. Yes, Accidente had a couple of releases before that I missed, it happens. Guns N’ Wankers/Snuff and Soviettes sing in Spanish instead of English. Accidente, another reason to be bilingual, mixes socio-political lyrics with fast, energetic, catchy punk-pop. Yes, it’s sung in Spanish, but don’t let that deter you. Accidente even doesn’t do the one criminal mistake most political bands do, which is lecture/bark at the listener. Instead, on Pulso, the singer sings every song.  – Ed Stuart

Basketball Shorts – This Summer 7” (Jarama)
Jarama released some cool singles this year, but This Summer was the best. Basketball Shorts are Texas pizza punks who have a knack for writing pop hooks. “This Summer” sounds like it’s from ’79 UK while “Hot and Ready” is their pizza punk anthem. It’s like mixing Undertones/Descendents/Mean Jeans/Queers/Ramones all together. – Ed Stuart

Black Mambas – Moderation LP (Disconnected)
Moderation is the closest this generation will get to teddy boy rock ‘n roll bands like Dr. Feelgood. A lot of punk bands will try for this style and get it wrong. That’s doesn’t sound fair, but it’s the truth. Sometimes you either have it or you don’t and Black Mambas have it. Most bands need ten to twelve songs for their LP, Mambas needed only eight for this barn burner. Imagine Chuck Berry played lead guitar for The Kids or early Saints. If Buddy Holly carried a switchblade and drove a hot rod these are the songs he would have written. – Ed Stuart

Booji Boys – S/T LP (Drunken Sailor)
Booji Boys – Weekend Rocker LP (Drunken Sailor)
Most bands live off of one LP’s reputation forever. Hello, Sex Pistols, but not Booji Boys. This is a first for the Top 20 list that I have two LP’s from the same band. Here’s why, both LP’s were so good that they tied. Booji Boys, self-proclaimed weekend rockers, sound like a Rip Off records version of ’77 influenced blown-out punk-pop like Marked Men meets Undertones. They pack hooks into songs like McDonalds packs nuggets into boxes. Both S/T and Weekend Rocker are essential. Either thank or blame Booji Boys or Drunken Sailor for releasing o much music this year. – Ed Stuart

Cheap Whine – S/T LP – (Drunken Sailor)
So Steve Adamyk, the guitar player from Feral Trash and the drummer from Crusades get together, and guess what, they create a killer band. Now the question is Cheap Whine going to be a side project or another band that releases music on a regular basis. Cheap Whine fits right into Steve Adamyk Band/Feral Trash territory. It’s catchy punk-pop with those dark-tinged T.S.O.L. melodies that give Cheap Whine some edge. – Ed Stuart

The Chinchees – S/T LP (Dirt Cult)
On their cover, Chinchees look like a group of lost painters running from an increasing happy purple circle. While the Chinchees are running on the cover, they didn’t run to take the traditional Ramones route to punk-pop glory that others bands do. Instead, Chinchees take a Superchunk/‘80’s alternative route, speed it up and play it without losing the hooks. Originally, S/T was a self-released by the band, but it was so good that Dirt Cult decided to give it a proper release and you’ll understand why after listening. – Ed Stuart

Corner Boys – Just Don’t Care 7” (Drunken Sailor)
Corner Boys nail the sound of ’77 era Northern Ireland that they could have dropped off their demo at Good Vibrations record shop. The sound is so dialed you might believe this is a re-issue. Corner Boys follow up their fabulous Demo with Just Don’t Care. While both releases had the monster hit “Joke Of The Neighborhood,” Corner Boys don’t rest on the press and laurels of their demo. Instead, Corner Boys listened to their cache of Northern Ireland power-pop records and Powerpearls comps to write two more catchy ’77 influenced songs to go with the monster hit.  – Ed Stuart

The Crazy Squeeze – Savior Of the Streets LP (Wanda/Disconnected)
Super groups are super for a reason. When ordinary bands record they get ordinary records. When Squeeze records they produce Savior Of The Streets. It would have been enough for Crazy Squeeze do replicate their S/T debut, but these Stitches/Teenage Frames/Gaggers guys decide to not just stop at ’77, but go back to ’72 and ’75. What? That’s right Crazy Squeeze takes the ingredients of NY Dolls, Slade, T. Rex, The Boys and Eddie and The Rods to make a one hell of an audio meal.   – Ed Stuart

Dirty Fences – Goodbye Love LP (Greenway)
Dirty Fences knew what a lot of the ‘70’s NYC bands did. You can look and act tough on the outside all you want, but on the inside there is a pop heart that hooks the listeners. Heartbreakers, Ramones, Dictators all had it in their songs and so does Dirty Fences. Goodbye Love dials back the tough, a little bit, to let the hooks rise to the top. Dirty Fences, who gladly play the part of reckless party punk rock n’ rollers, show off their musical chops and education in their songs.  – Ed Stuart

First Base – Not That Bad LP (Drunken Sailor)
If you’re worried about getting gum on your shoes then don’t listen to Not That Bad. This LP is so full of bubblegum that your friend will have to cut it out of your hair. First Base takes Beach Boys, Ramones, Undertones and 1910 Fruitgum Company to make the power-pop LP of the year. First Base has the feel of a band that takes their woody and surfboards to the beach until you realize Toronto, where First Base lives, borders a lake. Power-pop this good should be criminal, but thankfully it’s not.  – Ed Stuart

Gorilla – It’s All Pop EP (Hidden Volume)
Who knew it would take a band from Japan to nail the sound of ‘70’s/’80’s American power-pop. Gorilla, on It’s All Pop, really goes for it too with their dedication to Flamin’ Groovies, Raspberries, Big Star, The Beat, Romantics, Nerves, and Plimsouls forefathers sound of yesteryear. Gorilla plays a shimmering pop influenced rock n’ roll that doesn’t bother with distortion or playing with power like their UK brothers. Instead, Gorilla lives and dies on the melody.  – Ed Stuart

Lost Balloons – Hey Summer LP (Dirtnap)
In some movies, the main character must leave his/her home to find out what he needs to become a better version of himself. In 2011, Jeff Burke (marked Men/Radioactivity) left Texas, headed to Japan and met Yusuke Okada (Suspicious Beasts). Together this East West duo formed Lost Balloons. Hey Summer takes what this East West duo does best and takes them a little out of their comfort zone of punk and garage. Instead, Lost Balloons create a slice of indie Americana with ‘80’s college rock thrown in. What you realize when listening to Hey Summer is these guys are pop songwriters that dress up their songs with rock dressing, but when exposed can stand on their own.  – Ed Stuart

MAMA/Private Interests – Split 7” (Pinata)
There were splits that got far more attention and hype then this Split from MAMA and Private Interests. The split 7-inch format is rarely used much anymore, but this release could bring it back off life support. MAMA play a Detroit style of wildman rock n’ roll with MC5 proto-punk riffs and power-pop hooks so effortlessly they could compete with any band from those genres. On the flip side are Private Interests, Minneapolis’s answer to The Plimsouls and Nerves. Private Interests, on a 7-inch of pop hooks, might have the written the most memorable one on “Finest Hour,” which in a pre-auto-tuned world would own the radio.  – Ed Stuart

Moral Panic – S/T LP (Slovenly)
Sometimes you want a punk band to be just a punk band, enter Moral Panic. Moral Panic picks up where the Livids left off and torch everything in sight. It’s like the Consumers and The Saints are playing a wild backyard that has gotten way out of hand before someone even thinks of calling the cops. This S/T LP is full of slash and burn riffs and high energy that gladly will leave scorched ears.  – Ed Stuart

Radioactivity  Infected 7” (Wild Honey)
I keep seeing these Masterclass ads when I watch YouTube. It made think why haven’t they offered Jeff Burke a Masterclass yet? He could run the class on writing punk-pop classics that take equally from ’77 UK and The Ramones. Infected feature songs that Burke had sitting in the can just waiting for the right time to release. Bands would kill for this to be their debut single while Radioactivity has the luxury of picking and choosing which songs to use because of their master class worthy songs.  – Ed Stuart

Role Models – Dance Moves LP (Glunk)
Wow, three for three! Role Models have released their third good LP in three years! Role Models Dance Moves, doesn’t stray from what they do best. Role Models play a glammy NYC influenced punk that is tough and tender. Take the best of NY Dolls, Heartbreakers, Replacements, Hanoi Rocks and D Generation wrapped into one. These London Boys are definitely on a hot streak. I wonder if 2018 will be four for four?  – Ed Stuart

The Safes – Tasty Waves LP (Hidden Volume)
The Safes are the modern day Kinks meets The Beach Boys. It’s like the O’Malley brothers are the new Davies or Wilson brothers. Tasty Waves is full of simple, classic ‘60’s pop melodies and songs that focus on craft. What’s interesting about Tasty Waves is that The Safes had a record already recorded and kept coming back to these songs. After further listening, they opted to make these songs the LP and Tasty Waves was born. Great choice!   – Ed Stuart

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs – S/T LP (Dine Alone/Burger)
Four years is a long time between records. In that time Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs turned their open chords into crunchy power chords, bought jean jackets and Marshall amps. What happened Coffey channeled his inner rock lover combined Thin Lizzy, ‘80’s pop-metal, Cheap Trick guitar-pop and arena guitar rock anthems on this S/T LP which never takes itself too seriously.  – Ed Stuart

Suspect Parts – S/T LP (Taken By Surprise/Oops Baby)
Suspect Parts is like a Bond movie with all the international cast of characters and exalted resumes. The band consists of two German, an American, a Brit and members of Clorox Girls, Briefs, Red Dons and Radio Dead Ones. Their Bond is Justin Maurer, who only seems to be in all-star groups these days, has got the crew back together with the mission of making an LP at an undisclosed German location. What makes this S/T LP works is that Suspect Parts don’t rely solely on ’77 punk-power-pop they incorporate ‘60’s California pop and ‘70’s/80’s Plimsouls melodies.  – Ed Stuart

Wyldlife – Out On Your Block LP (Wicked Cool)
I usually don’t pick a number one, but if I did this would be it. Song for song, Wyldlife’s Out On Your Block is a killer. If Underground Garage had the listeners KROQ did, Wyldlife would be a household name. Third LP’s aren’t traditionally this good, but someone forgot to tell Wyldlife. These NYC boys have always had a great knack for writing Beat style power-pop hooks over gritty NY Dolls/Dictators/Hanoi Rocks 1970’s style punk. Out On Your Block, has Wyldlife writing their strongest songs ever without losing what rock n’ roll hearts.  – Ed Stuart

Honorable Mentions:
Dr. Boogie – She’s So Tuff 7” (Spaghetty Town)
Fashionism – Back In The Day 7” (Neon Taste)
Gee Tee – Thugs In Cars 7” (Goodbye Boozy)
Hollerado – Born Yesterday LP (Royal Mountain)
Kuken – S/T LP (Drunken Sailor) 
Pale Kids – Holy Mess 7” (Drunken Sailor) 
RMBLR – Territory 7” (Fat Possum) 
The Rubs – Impossible Dream LP (Hozac)
Sore Points – Don’t Want To 7” (Hosehead)
The Stanleys – S/T LP (Off the Hip/Rock Indiana/Pop Detective)
TV Crime – Clocking In 7” (Drunken Sailor)