Sometimes I don't know if I should be proud or embarrassed that the UHM year's best lists are always so far removed from our pop culture status quo. All I can say in my defense is that these lists aren't mere obstinate contrarianism; they honestly represent the albums I listened to and enjoyed the most over the past year. That is my only criteria (although, in the interest of full disclosure, this year I actually found myself enjoying Lady Gaga's Joanne (which by itself should be bad news for her, at least economically speaking) but disqualified it on the basis of not quite fitting in the Un-Herd purview, so there is a certain conscious avoidance of the mainstream at work). Next up: the '16 Orphans mix that compiles everything I missed over the year - so let me know if I missed one of your faves!
The Un-Herd Music Top 40 of 2016
1. Hunters Dead End
Shaggy pack of garage punks from Finland summon the typical scuzz lineage from the Stooges to the Dead Boys, but also have the style and sense to throw in a classic pop sense of melody, with the end result sounding a lot like what you'd get if Rancid's Tim Armstrong fronted the New York Dolls while mangling a cover of "Suffragette City."
2. Public Access T.V. Never Enough
Comparisons to a certain NYC nu-garage band seem to accompany every review of Never Enough, but a) the Strokes haven't managed this amount of ear candy hooks since Is This It, and b) Public Access T.V. is less a summation of 70s Noo Yawk and more a party hearty compendium of every cool sound since.
3. Twin Peaks Down in Heaven
Continuing their trajectory towards a growing command of pop song perfection, this time out Twin Peaks opted for a cleaner, clearer production style that allowed their seemingly effortless melodicism to stand on its own.
4. Slick! Slick!
The songs mostly clock in under the two minute mark and yet they still manage to touch on 50s rock 'n' roll, 60s bubblegum, 70s glam, and classic punk.
5. The PrettysSoirée
Vancouver band came out of next to nowhere with this one. What could have been standard indie punk bamalama gets rudely goosed by an ultra-melodic guitarist, an advanced sense of dynamics, and a honking, squealing saxophone. More please!
6. Elijah Ford & the Bloom As You Were
Extremely satisfying album that hues closely to conventional classic rock - think Tom Petty for the old school, James Younger for the new - without sacrificing energy or hooks.
7. Pat Todd & the RankOutsiders Blood & Treasure
Madman rock 'n' roll alchemist continues his noble life pursuit of mixing equal parts Johnny Cash and the New York Dolls, which might be slightly less impressive if the songs weren't so damn good.
8. Pale Lips Wanna Be Bad Slammin' Montreal sirens play girl group melodies at Mach III speed with lyrics (sample title: "Mary Lou Sniffin' Glue") that refuse to give a single inch of ground to the patriarchy. All hail.
9. Nick Waterhouse Never Twice The cover image perfectly places Waterhouse in a classy black & white past, out of time with current trends but no less hip for it. This is sleek old time rhythm 'n' blues that moves and grooves without the need for over-bearing volume or hysterics.
10. Telephone Lovers Telephone Lovers
Twelve great proofs that rock 'n' roll is most effectively delivered in a three minute single. Somewhere, Paul Collins must be smiling with an "I told ya so" glint in his eye.
11. Role Models Forest Lawn
12. The Fleshtones The Band Drinks For Free
13. Javier Escovedo Kicked Out of Eden
14. Sheer Mag III (ep)
15. Ronnie Spector English Heart
16. Tim Easton American Fork
17. The New Frustrations Dee-Bacle (ep)
18. Somerdale Shake It Maggie
19. The I Don't Cares Wild Stab
20. The Connection Just For Fun
21. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms Basement Punk
22. Hey! Hello! Hey! Hello! Too!
23. The Seratones Get Gone
24. Dot Dash Searchlights
25. The Excitements Breaking the Rule
26. Farewell Milwaukee FM
27. Propeller Fall Off The World
28. Margaret Glaspy Emotions and Math
29. Steve Conte International Cover Up
30. Ulysses Law and Order
31. Izzy Bizu A Moment of Madness
32. Belleville Turn the Medicine Down
33. Watts The Black Heart of Rock & Roll
34. Lydia Loveless Longer
35. Kurt Baker In Orbit
36. Ian Hunter Fingers Crossed
37. Papernut Cambridge Love the Things Your Lover Loves
38. Car Seat Headrest Teen Denial
39. Earth Girls Wanderlust
40. D Generation Nothing is Anywhere
1. Hunters Before You
2. S1ick! Coming Down
3. Pub1ic Access T.V. Evil Disco
4. E1ijah Ford The Way We Were
5. Farewell Mi1waukee Figure You Out
6. Twin Peaks Wanted You
7. Ronnie Spector Because
8. The New Frustrations Right as Rain
9. The Prettys Uneasy
10. Te1ephone Lovers Take You Home
11. Pa1e Lips Jangaroo
12. Ro1e Models Bullshit Corner
13. Pat Todd & the RankOutsiders Ole Fortune and Fame
14. Prope11er It's Kinda Why I Like You
15. The Seratones Chandelier
16. Javier Escovedo It's So Easy
17. Hey! He11o! A History of Lovers
18. Sheer Mag Worth The Tears
19. Dot Dash Dumb Entertainment
20. The Connection Stay With Me
21. Somerdale Waiting For You
22. Nick Waterhouse L.A. Turnaround
23. The 1 Don't Cares King of America
24. Watts Bye & Bye
25. The F1eshtones Before I go
Power pop, garage, R&B, Americana, soul, glam, and punk all mixed, matched, masticated, and otherwise mulched.
Everything on this blog is an attempt to support bands and artists that I feel deserve more attention. If you have a problem with my use of a song or a link, please contact me directly and I'll simply remove it. T'ain't no big thang.