From Agony Aunts to Big Boy Pete, from Merrell Fankhauser to Richard Heyman, from Jeremy to Gary Ritchie, it’s been a terrific year for often overlooked rock and pop.
Here’s my list of fun faves, listed as always in alphabetical order. Click through the album titles for more …
AGONY AUNTS – BIG CINNAMON: A grand and dazzling demonstration of colorful and experimental pop motions that neatly bring the past into both the present and the future.
BIG BOY PETE AND THE SQUIRE – HITMEN: Take a pinch of rockabilly, a spoonful of garage rock, a dash of psychedelic frills and blend these ingredients with witty and silly lyrics, and there you have it – an album that makes you remember why you love rock and roll.
THE BOTTLE KIDS – SUCH A THRILL: Eric Blakely is actually the face behind the Bottle Kids, and boy oh boy, does he sure have a flair for writing, singing and playing hook happy guitar pop!
THE EDDIES – GONNA SING ABOUT THIS: Durable Mod-influenced pop rock from everyone’s favorite Southern California threesome! Get off your fanny, snap your fingers and wiggle your toes!
MERRELL FANKHAUSER – RAINBOW BRIDGE REVISTED: A splendid tribute to Jimi Hendrix brought to you by veteran guitar god Merrell Fankhauser that combines covers with original material. Spacey, trippy, intense and oozing with beauty and strength, Rainbow Bridge Revisited evokes positive feelings galore.
RICHARD HEYMAN – X: Big melodies, brightened by rushes of ringing guitars and catchy instrumentation all the way around steers this disc to victory. But then again, you wouldn’t expect anything less from Richard X. Heyman!
VARIOUS ARTISTS – THE INITIATIVE: An adventurous mix of power pop, soul, country, crooner balladry and good old fashioned rock and roll, The Initiative may be musically promiscuous, yet it all comes together in total tandem. The record of the year!
JEREMY – SEARCHING FOR THE SON: Psychedelic progressive rock, topped with pop sensibilities, herd the point home on Searching For The Son, leaving the listener simply breathless. Another spirited masterpiece from the prolific Jeremy Morris!
GARY RITCHIE – DRAKE, NEAR THE ALLEY: Stocked tight with harmonious ditties, Drake, Through The Alley injects healthy shots of British Invasion flavorings into power popping new wave stylings. Plucky guitars, edgy rhythms and excitable vocals equal timeless music!
TONY LOW – TONE WAH: Brimming with energy and honesty, “Tone-Wah” smacks of garage pop greatness. Looking to the 60s for ideas, with the West Coast mood of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Beau Brummels, as well as the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Kinks particularly lurching to the fore, Tony adds his own affable personality to the board, resulting in a collection of super groovy sights and sounds.
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