Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Paul Silver’s Top Twenty Records for 2017

It seems everyone is doing their top ten or top twenty records list these days. The rise of social media means everyone can have their say as to what the best records of the year were. I think that means that the lists that we so-called “music journalists” write have less meaning than they used to. Or maybe they mean more. The Internet has changed the music distribution model to the point where more bands can get more exposure than ever before. And in the face of overwhelming choices it’s our “job” to listen to as many of these as possible.

The following list is not in any particular order, but these are the records I liked the best out of the many I’ve listed to this year. You probably have your own list. But I’ll bet my list has some records you haven’t even heard of, but you should definitely check out.
- Paul Silver

ODD ROBOT – A Late Night Panic
Southern California’s Odd Robot play some of the best pop punk/power pop since The Smoking Popes or Alkaline Trio, and are one of the most exciting new bands of the year.

Made up of members of PUP, The Roman Line, and Plan 37, Deforesters describe themselves as “honest to goodness no bullshit punk rock.” The songs are incredibly infectious. Upon the second play-through, the songs already sound so familiar, so ingrained in my mind. Listening to these songs is like putting on your favorite worn flannel shirt.

TACO HELL – Retainer
Taco Hell, from the north of England, play gorgeous indie-pop with a punk edge and dark lyrics. Jangle and dreaminess intertwine, immersing the listener in the ethereal while at the same time jostling with danceable sounds.

HICCUP – Imaginary Enemies
Hiccup blends the best of pop punk edginess with indie pop’s prettiness to produce lo-fi guitar driven music that gets me. The guitars growl with their buzziness, contrasting with the gorgeous, lush vocals.

GRAND-POP – Eight Nights
Imagine blending the upbeat positive sound of RVIVR with the rock’n’roll of The Dirty Nil, then mix in the powerful melodies and solid work ethic of Success, and you have the start of an idea of what Grand-Pop sounds like. The Bristol, UK band’s songs are tight and uplifting, melodic and powerful, and Warren Mallia’s vocals are strong and confident,

EMPEROR X – Oversleepers International
Emperor X has a nerd-pop sound, in the vein of They Might Be Giants crossed with the melodic sensibility of New Jersey’s own Tris McCall. The lyrics are primarily political in nature, verging on virtual guerilla tactics, and the music varies from raucous pop punk to delicate acoustic to ambient trance and poppy indie-rock.

Jim Jones & the Righteous Mind aren’t fucking around. Right from the start they’re in your face, loud and oozing confidence. The tracks are pure rock’n’roll with a strong blues and soul influence. The term “buzzsaw guitar” has been pure hyperbole until this record – those guitars sound like they could cut through a giant redwood tree in seconds.

BAD COP/BAD COP – Warriors
Aggressive punk music, sweet harmonies, meaningful lyrics – Bad Cop / Bad Cop are still delivering. Songs range from personal to political, and the album contains a diversity of sounds.

THE FUR COATS – Gumballs in the Meritocracy
This latest Fur Coats LP features ten tracks of The Fur Coats’ bouncy poppy punky music, loaded with Marc Ruvolo’s biting lyrics. One of the things I love best about The Fur Coats is that, while it’s got a great modern pop punk sensibility, Ruvolo is true to his roots as a Chicago punk musician. The sound always is a little harder than most pop punk, and it’s got that tough guitar sound that Chicago is famous for.

The sound is huge, full, distorted wall of guitar fuzz with a dreamy quality to it. Where last year’s EP was primarily up-tempo tracks, packing as much punch as they could into the limited time, there’s more room on the LP to stretch their musical legs and try out some new things. There are fast tracks, slow tracks, noisy tracks, eerie tracks, quiet tracks, yet they’re all incredibly good, musically and lyrically.

MICAH SCHNABEL – Your New Normal Rockwell
Micah Schnabel, front man of punk band Two Cow Garage, isn’t just a musician. He’s not just a songwriter. Schnabel is our generation’s beat poet. These songs contain the hopes and dreams, the despair and nightmares, the unnerving uncertainty we all feel. They’re stream of consciousness, baring of the soul.

HOLIDAY – California Steamin’
The music on this UK band’s debut full-length LP is universally bouncy and poppy. The tempos of the songs are mid-tempo to brisk, the fuzzed out guitars jangle like mad, the melodies are laden with hooks, and the lyrics focus on social commentary.

I love the fast and loud songs, and the melodies and intricate guitar jangle are just gorgeous. That it’s on top of otherwise fast and crunchy punk music is genius.

CHOKE UP – Stormy Blue
This record is gorgeous indie, way more melodic than anything Say-10 has done before, to my knowledge. It may be the best record they’ve ever released.

OH! GUNQUIT – Lightning Likes Me
This London, UK band is sort of halfway between classic noisy garage and soulful sounds. The sound here is a bit cleaner than many modern garage rock bands, eschewing overdone distortion for a brighter sound. It’s a little slicker than other garage records, but it’s got super high energy, insistent vocals, and saxophone!

A debut LP chock full of great melodic poppy music, laden with hooks and harmonies. The band is right at that point where indie rock and pop punk intersect, with huge guitars, gorgeous vocals, and beautiful melodies.

DIRECT HIT! / PEARS – Human Movement
Usually bands use their discarded tracks that didn’t make the LP cut for compilations or split releases. But each band turns in their best work to date on this split LP, and it’s one of the absolute best records of the year.

HIGH – Evil Gene
The band is hard to quite pin down into a genre, but they’ve got elements of power pop and pop punk, mixed with a flair for the theatrical, great harmonies, and a hint of melodic emo.

OH MY SNARE! – Murk Matinel
The eleven tracks on this album are glorious to listen to. The hard edge that I noted on their debut is still there, but there’s maybe a bit more pop mixed in on this sophomore release.

WORRIERS – Survival Pop
Lauren Denitzio is one of the best songwriters around today. They write beautiful pop melodies with lyrics that border on darkness.

 is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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