The year draws to a close, seen musically it was a stunning year (in other areas, it was surely not).
So - here is the Top 10 of PowerPopSquare for 2017:
1. Chris Price - Stop Talking
Price is a man of many talents - producer for Emitt Rhodes and Linda Perhacs, writing with artists like Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish) and Taylor Locke (Rooney) or recording a complete album with an iPhone 4 (his first record Homesick).
Chris Price was joined in the studio by a variety of top musicians, including Kyle Fredrickson, Ben Lecourt, Fernando Perdomo, Joe Seiders and many others.
Price explains: “I spent the five years since my first album Homesick working on albums for two heroes of mine, Emitt Rhodes and Linda Perhacs. But I never stopped writing and recording material of my own, and both of those incredibly inspiring and fulfilling projects ended up deeply informing my work, pushing me to think harder about my lyrics, become more adventurous in my production and never take the safe route musically. Nearly 50 songs were recorded for this project, and I went through an arduous and at times painful process whittling it all down to the form it is now in. I’m very proud of this work, which has been brewing for quite some time. But I should really stop talking and let the music speak for itself.”
And he has every right to be proud of this record. It is my number one record of 2017. And it left me deeply impressed.
Stop Talking is available on CDand (very limited) Vinyl. Listen to it here:
2. Pugwash - Silverlake Thomas Walsh recorded his latest record Silverlake mainly on its own - with producer Jason Falkner (yes, THE Jason Falkner of Jellyfish!).
Thomas wrote all the
songs, arranged them, and played acoustic guitar. Jason played
everything else (except the strings), sang backing vocals and
Thomas says: "I’ve known Jason for twenty years, so I rang him last Christmas and
asked him what his next year was looking like. He
said, ‘It’s fuckin’ full up, but if you’re saying to me we can make a
record, I’ll make time'. That was an amazing thing to hear. The minute I
heard that I was hooked. I got excited again. Within a week I’d written
all the songs.”
The opener and lead single (The Perfect Summer) is nothing less than perfect pop music.
I admire Sunshine True, Everyone Knows That You're Mine and Such a Shame for their tremendous melodies and lyrics. All of the twelve songs are growing the more often you listen to them. And that's what you should do right now!
You can get the download, CD, LP, a limited 7" single and a T-shirt (bundles available) directly from Lojinx.
3. Neil Finn - Out of Silence
Out Of Silence - the new record of Neil Finn - was recorded in four intimate 2-hour-sessions, broadcasted live on the internet.
The result is a minimalistic and just beautiful album. "More Than One Of You" should convince everyone within its first seconds:
4. Jeremy Messersmith - 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro-Folk Record For the 21st Century And Beyond
jeremy messersmith describes his new record (11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro-Folk Record For the 21st Century And Beyond)as "jam-packed
with ridiculous songs about kittens, world peace, flying cars and the
transformative power of love. Why? Because we all need a ray of sunshine
every now and again. Because it's important to not lose sight of how
good things could be. Because the first step to a better world is to
imagine a better world. (...) I don't know if a song can change
the world, but singing sure can. Trust me. You'll feel better and that's
a start, right?"
The record is just Jeremy Messersmith and his Ukulele. 10 songs, lyrics of pure optimism and gorgeous melodies.
5. Bill DeMain -Transatlantic Romantic
With his first full length album Bill DeMain created nothing less than an instant classic.
This gem will grow on you with every listen!
6. Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest Charlotte Gainsbourg is not only an actress, also she's a singer. She recorded songs with artists like Jarvis Cocker (from Pulp), Jean-Benoît Dunckel (from AIR), Nicolas Godin, Beck and Neil Hannon (from Divine Comedy).
Listen to two songs from it here:
7. Nic Cester - Sugar Rush Nic Cester, the lead singer of JET has returned with a solo record.
"Sugar Rush" has become an amazing rock record - listen to the lead singles here:
8. Seth MacFarlane - In Full Swing Seth MacFarlane is widely known as the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, the movies Ted and A Million Ways to Die in the West and recently the reinvention of Star Trek in The Orville.
While his kind of humor is a matter of taste he has another talent that is less known: MacFarlane is a musician with a keen sense of reinterpretations of The Great American Songbook. His fourth album is out now: In Full Swing.
If you have at least a minimal interest in this genre, listen to it NOW.
9. Aimee Mann - Mental Illness Aimee Mann’s Mental Illness, her first album in five years, is a return to a more musically soft-spoken but still lyrically barbed approach.
The Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning singer remains a student of human behavior, drawing not just on her own experiences to form the characters in the songs but tales told by friends. “I assume the brief on me is that people think that I write these really depressing songs,” Mann says. “I don’t know—people may have a different viewpoint—but that’s my own interpretation of the cliché about me. So if they thought that my songs were very down-tempo, very depressing, very sad, and very acoustic, I thought I’d just give myself permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re- all-waltzes- so-be- it record I could… I mean, calling it "Mental Illness" makes me laugh, because it is true, but it’s so blunt that it’s funny.”
10. Goldfrapp - Silver Eye
Silver Eye is Goldfrapp in its best form. They continue their dark, electronic and melodic songwriting and bring it to perfection.
Special Award: Owsley - Feel No Pain
Almost two years ago I made a serious attempt to get everything together for a project: a Third Record of Will Owsley. There are a couple of stunning songs (demos, unreleased songs, collaborations) out there and as far as I know many more are in the vaults. So I asked at Facebook if there is Interest in such a project (and man - there is!) and started a poll to look for a possible success of a crowdfunding campaign. So all signs looked good.
A lot of other musicians, friends of Will Owsley and his family showed interest, too. Sadly the project wasn't realized. To cut a long story short: I created a third record myself. And I think it's a good one. It's called Feel No Pain.