Power Pop

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Singles And EPs of 2020

Last week, I published my Top 50 Albums of 2020. The week before, Dennis published his. Time for the final AtW list of 2020: my Top 40 Singles and EP’s of year. There was a lot to choose from, and I am sure I overlooked and forgot several releases that would otherwise be included on this list. I opted out of the painstaking process of ranking these singles and EPs, so the bands are in alphabetical order. If I had to choose though, Romero probably would be my #1 pick, followed by Hard Action, Civic. Click below on read more to go to the list. I’ve included short explanations and my favorite song of each single/EP, either with a bandcamp embed or a video. If you like what you hear, just click on the title and AddToWantlist. There is an almost complete Spotify playlist of the releases at the bottom of this post – six are currently not on that platform.

New songs: Jakob Mind || Rock’n’Roll’s Got Me All Messed Up/Watch The City Burn

With 2020 stumbling to the finish line, let’s focus on something to look forward to in 2021: In April, Jakob Mind will release his debut The One That Got Away on Lövely Records. Jakob Mind is a new solo project by Jakob Arvidsson from Sweden, who you may know from garagepunks Rotten Mind, or the pretty awesome Undertonesque poppunk band Real Tears. Currently, Jakob has leaked two songs of the album, watch and listen below. These songs are fast, melodic, and insanely catchy. Hope they make you as curious about the rest of the record as I am.

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Albums of 2020

I am a sucker for year-end lists. They help uncover releases I missed, artists I overlooked, and curators worth following. I equally love the process of creating my own lists. There is an instrinsic value and joy in revisiting and reflecting on the records that come out each year. It offers a reminder that some records take time to appreciate, while others’ immediate appeal ultimately proved to be short-lived. One noticable trend in this streaming age is that artists release a crazy amount of great songs, whereas their albums often fail to live up to that promise. Quite a lot of my favorite songs of the year were on releases I left out my top 50. This top 50 celebrates the art of great collections of songs, records I own, records that are on my wantlist,records I’ve played and enjoyed front to back. What about those great individual songs? I will share my favorites in a playlist before the year is over (Update: I made two). I will also publish a list of my favorite singles (7″, digital) and EP’s of 2020 next week (Update: it’s here). And, of course, don’t forget to check out Dennis’ favorite records of 2020.

Ok, less talk, more rock. Below you’ll find my favorite records of the year. Mostly punk, garage, powerpop, rock-‘n’-roll, indiepop and indierock releases.  I’ve added short descriptions of what I love about each record, and sample songs and video’s. If you like what you hear, just click on the album title and AddToWantlist. Oh yeah, and for you streamers out there, there’s a playlist with my favorite song of each record at the bottom of this post. Let’s go!

Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Albums of 2020

OK, let’s start with the obligatory cliché intro text. The only good thing about 2020 was that by being at home more often you could listen to even more music and for those who want to hear it, enough good music has been made. Since January I have checked out 1,100+ new albums. Sometimes after half a minute I knew it wasn’t for me, sometimes I just couldn’t get enough. No doubt I missed a few things that I should not have missed, but right now this is what it is. And it doesn’t really matter either. Music lists are by definition debatable, because they say something about taste and taste is personal. What follows does not really say anything about quality, but simply reflects what I have played and enjoyed the most. In my list guitars and distinctive voices predominate, it’s mostly rock orientated (alternative, garage, jangle, roots, post-punk, …) plus a little bit of soul, with both debuting bands and old rockers with renewed energy who could have been their grandfather. It turns out that 2020 was not that bad at all!

New Single: Jiffy Marx || She’s My Witch/Warning Sign

Jiffy Marx knows his way around a tune. He plays in Autogramm, who released a bunch of great singles (this is my favorite). He just released his first solo 7″. It’s a classic double A-sided power pop single. Here is She’s my Witch, a song about his wife, who I am sure he loves very dearly. The video, another solo effort by Jiffy, is build around a classic optical illusion that smartly complements the lyrics. Well played, Jiffy. Well played!

Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Radio Days || I Got a Love

Back in the day, the Italian power pop band Radio Days has already made some very catchy music (they represent the pop side of rock’n’roll, as they call it themselves). Four years after their latest work, they are now back with a great new  7″ EP with three songs and cool art work I Got a Love is out on December 11 via Snap!! Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Reissue: The Last || Look Again

The Last released their debut L.A. Explosion in 1979 on the legendary Bomp! Records. I only discovered the record when my all-time favorite bands, Descendents, cited them as their primary inspiration. I fell in love instantly. L.A. Explosion sounds like a beachy mashup of Nerves and the Clash. Despite their pop sensibilities, great harmonies, and sheer variety in songwriting, the Last never made it out of their L.A. scene. To add insult to injury, their DIY attempt to record their sophomore album ended in a warped sound, and zero label offers. Fast forward 40 years (!), modern technology fixed the original tapes and the record is out at last. It’s a bittersweet release that I can’t wait to have in my collection. Fingers crossed that they will do a deluxe remastered reissue of L.A. Explosion next.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Heavy Lag || Demo

New band alert! Brooklyn based Heavy Lag say they play dirt pop, which is an apt description of their fuzzy and punky take on powerpop. The A-side has the second best use of an intro sample of the year (#1 here). It is short, and so catchy I played it thrice before moving to the B-side. That offers another killer track, reminiscent of Marked Men. Curious to hear what these guys will cook up next.


Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp

New song: Romero || Troublemaker

Early this year, Romero released a two song single which is still one of my highlights of 2020. Today, they released their latest recording, a self-described “golden old soul that smoothes out the bumps of at-home frustrations and reassures you on the existential path ahead.” Slightly lower paced, but with the same swagger of their previous work, it is another showcase of the sheer vocal power of singer Alanna Oliver.

Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New compilation: Various Artists || Strum  & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983–1987

If there is one thing this compilation of obscure mid-eighties US bands shows, it’s that great jangle pop is not exclusive to the UK, AU and NZL. That’s not to say that the bands on display are mere copycats of the C86 or the Flying Nun sound. They incorporate American influences to create their own version of jangle. Slightly more production, a bit more powerpop, a lot of catchiness. All in all, this is a very strong start of Captured Tracks‘ new Excavations series – inspired by the infamous Pebbles, Killed by Death, and Numero Group compilations. It is not cheap, but you get four sides of melodic guitar catchiness as well as an 80+ page booklet with an oral history of this particular music scene. Musthave.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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