Aaron Lee Tasjan, Bill Lloyd, Car City, Daisy House, Extra Arms, Freedom Fry, Henry Chadwick, Jeremy Messersmith, Nick Piunti, Oberon Rose, Paul Collins, Richard Turgeon, Ruler, Starbelly, Summer Magic, The Smittens, The Spindles, The Spook School, The Tearaways, Vegas with Randolph
I’m not really an album guy. Particularly now in our ‘download-any-song-you-want-era’. I grew up on compilation albums and AM radio. It was all singles, singles singles: a new sound every three minutes. A whole album is just a vinyl horizon for my needle dropping. But I have to say this year I got hooked on more than a few long players. What grabbed me? I could say it was the songwriting, a coherent sonic palette, the performative ingenuity, etc. But hey, who am I kidding? It was mostly the hooks. Fair warning: there is considerable overlap of artists here with my should-be hit singles list (duh) but not entirely. Bottom line: you won’t go wrong putting your cash down on these LPs in toto.
So, here are Poprock Record’s 20 must-have LPs for 2018:
- Aaron Lee Tasjan Karma for Cheap
- Daisy House Bon Voyage
- Ruler Winning Star Champion
- The Spindles Past and Present
- Starbelly Four
- Nick Piunti Temporary High
- Jeremy Messersmith Late Stage Capitalism
- Henry Chadwick Marlin Fisher
- Car City Car City
- Bill Lloyd Working the Long Game
- Freedom Fry Classic
- The Spook School Could It Be Different?
- Oberon Rose Tell Me About It
- Richard Turgeon Lost Angeles
- Extra Arms Headacher
- Vegas with Randolph Legs and Luggage
- The Tearaways Anthems and Lullabies
- Paul Collins Out of My Head
- The Smittens City Rock Dove
- Summer Magic Sharks and Other Dangers
Best ‘best of’ compilation: KC Bowman Important with a Capital I; Best covers album: Tommy and Rockets I Wanna Be Covered; Special merit award: Super 8 T-T-Technicolour Melodies, Turn Around Or …, HI LO
Edging out Daisy House’s fantastic Bon Voyage by a hair, my number one album for 2018 is Aaron Lee Tasjan’s Karma for Cheap. The more I listened to this record, the more I loved the songs and the performances. There is something extraordinary in just how Tasjan combines his elements. He’s got rumbly guitar, he’s got jangly guitar. His vocals run the gamut from Tom Petty-solid to Roy Orbison-aching tenderness. There’s not a weak cut here, but pay special attention to subtle hooky vocal interplay on “Heart Slows Down,” or the driving guitar hook behind “End of the Day,” or the touching “Dream Dreamer.” You won’t steer wrong with his back catalogue either, particularly 2016’s Silver Tears! There is so much I could say about all 20 albums but frankly the music speaks for itself. Click the links to go directly to the band’s bandcamp, Facebook or webpages.
One final word: I had to single out Super 8’s stupendous triple album accomplishment this year for special attention. After a two-decade career in rock and roll that can only be described as cinematic in its litany of seeming breakthroughs, bad luck, record company shenanigans and some bandmate’s bad faith, these albums are a vindication of his resolve to stick with music. Each record is finely crafted portrait of late 1960s summertime sunshine poprock. Your time machine back to 1968 is ready for boarding! Just hit play.
Let’s make 2019 another great year for poprock – buy these albums, get out to some concerts, and tell your friends about these great finds.