There is substantial overlap between the artists on this list, and the artists on my Top 30 songs list, which you can find here. That is to be expected. The best songs of the year typically are not “one-offs.” Most appeared on albums to which I found myself returning many times during the year.
The Legal Matters’ self-titled “debut” grabs the top spot on my list. Its combination of incisive songwriting, beautiful production, memorable melodies and the best vocals of the year (particularly, of course, those sublime harmonies) propelled it to the top of the class. My original review can be found here. Aerial’s Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School? came in at a close second with its clever and sometimes witty writing, and its brilliant melding of classic Power Pop and West Coast Pop sensibilities. My original review can be found here.
Each of these long-players on my list deserve a spot in any serious music collection. They fall squarely in the “indie pop” realm, but are nevertheless varied in approach and intent. The list includes the driving and fast-paced rocking pop of The Sugar Stems, the exquisitely crafted and personal melodic pop from Dave Caruso, the classic jangle pop of The Britannicas and The Carousels, the bright and shiny updated Power Pop of Ransom and the Subset and The Jellybricks, a walk through the Nuggets compilation with The Above, some early-80s-styled melodic rock from Edward O’Connell, and the quiet, almost chamber pop of Fauna Flora, among its mix.
Click on the links to listen and purchase — which you should. Quite happily.
1. The Legal Matters — The Legal Matters
2. Aerial — Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School?
3. phonograph — phonograph Vol. 1
4. Linus Of Hollywood — Something Good
5. The Paul & John — Inner Sunset
6. Dave Caruso — Cardboard Vegas Roundabout
7. Mothboxer — Sand And The Rain
8. Dropkick — Homeward
9. Ransom and the Subset — No Time To Lose
10. The Britannicas — High Tea
11. The Well Wishers — A Shattering Sky
12. Edward O’Connell — Vanishing Act
13. The Carousels — Love Changes Like The Seasons
14. The Above — Waterbury Street
15. The New Mendicants — Into The Lime
16. Rick Hromadka — Trippin’ Dinosaurs
17. Sugar Stems — Only Come Out At Night
18. The Jellybricks — Youngstown Tune-Up
19. Joe Sullivan — Schlock Star
20. Fauna Flora — Fauna Flora
You can here tracks from these great albums, and many others, at the streaming Pop That Goes Crunch radio station, which you can reach right here.