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Saturday 30 December 2017

The IDHAS KOR Radio Top 10 Songs Of The Year

Just over six months, I branched out into Radio. I'd always wanted to, but hated the sound of my own voice. I'd been asked in the past and refused, but KOR Radio convinced me to give it a go. I explained my doubts and these were catered for. I could do an hour long show that would be no talking apart from an intro and outro and had complete freedom to choose what I wanted to play.

No playlist, all the songs come from me, not a computer generated list. The success of the show has been heartwarming and opened up 2018 opportunities to do something talky with sessions and interviews which is currently in Pilot stage.

The show has currently broadcast 28 Episodes and two Christmas Specials. I was asked to compile a Top 10 songs of 2017 by KOR and so I have. This Top 10 is different to what I would choose for I Don't Hear A Single's year and I'll explain why.

Firstly, I set myself the restriction that the artist had to have had the song played on the Radio Show. Secondly, things evolve via feedback etc and the IDHAS show has primarily developed a Power Pop / Pop Rock theme. Not always the case, but the majority has.

So this Top 10 Songs Of The Year for KOR would vary from my own. My favourites do change daily, but the show buts my Psych, Prog and Indie adventures on the backburner. So this piece is intended to tell you why I chose these songs for the show and in My Top 10.

I'd also note that there have been songs played that have not yet been released. Daisy House have previewed not one but two songs that could appear in this Top 10 if they had been unveiled to the public yet.

Sparks - Missionary Position

I reveal my age when I tell you that the first album that I bought under my own steam was Propaganda. I love that album as much now as I did then, I still know all the words. That developed a love of the Mael Brothers which is now into it's fifth decade.

There was a ropey decade after the Angst In My Pants album, but largely this has been one of the most interesting rides for me musically. I'd compare it to the career of XTC, although that only lasted half of the Sparks duration.

Sparks have always carried the fans along, but as time has developed. new fans have joined the gang, people who wouldn't have heard a lot of the Island stuff, loved the multi layered vocal albums of the Noughties.

FFS, the collaboration with Franz Ferdinand, hinted that Sparks were back in the band mix and those songs hinted at the wit and sheer joy of those earlier albums and Hippopotamus confirmed that with balls on. There will still hints at what had gone on in the decade before, but the lyrical with came back to the fore.

No song underlines that more than Missionary Position. It's lyrics are risque and underline what a songwriting genius Ron Mael is. It's a testament to Sparks to note that the song sounds so fresh and different, but it could also easily have appeared on Propaganda and not been out of place.

The Sunset Spirit - To Have It All

Last year the Pop Rock revelation was Somerdale and they've enhanced that reputation this year. This year it is The Sunset Spirit, who I'm delighted to tell you are currently recording the follow up to From The Top.

As I Don't Hear A Single has developed, I still bemoan the barrenness of the UK Pop Rock scene. The Indie and Psych scene is currently fantastic, but great Pop songs are hard to find. The Sunset Spirit are a big exception.

Hailing from Fife in Scotland. there's a real energy in their chorus heavy songs. They come across as a popped up Crowded House or perhaps the nearest example are Squeeze, they certainly have the same strength in creating a hook.

To Have It All enforces that Squeeze comparison. The swirling Farfisa like solo could be Jools Holland in those early Deptford Adventures. The Sunset Spirit feel like my very own secret, I'm convinced that's about to change.

Ian Person - Whatever It Takes

Ian Person is a constant revelation to these ears. It's infuriating that he remains unknown to the masses. Some may remember him from The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, but his solo work should aid a break out from Sweden.

Exit : Highway Of Light is a fantastic album. It's influences take in Psych, Pop, Power Pop, New Wave and Pop Rock. But all of it is from left field. Guitar Runs and Riffs that re unexpected, songs that twist and turn.

Whatever It Takes is a great example of what Person does. The guitar hook absolutely grips you. I defy you to listen to the song and not want to put it on again. There is so much contained within it's three minutes, so many ideas fighting to get out.

A lot of what I cover is obviously also covered elsewhere, I don't see as much about Ian Person, that should change. He is one of the great unrecognised talents and deserves to be listened to by a much wider audience.

Nick Heyward - Perfect Sunday Sun

Nick Heyward is beloved in the UK and I've only recently realised how far that expands elsewhere. The Haircut 100 days and the Woolen Jumpers are remembered and he lit up Brit Pop providing a Jangle that tempered down the pomposity of a lot of that genre.

So after waiting so long for his return, it's pleasing to say that he released what could be his best album ever. Woodland Echoes is very pastoral and beautifully low key, but there are also glimpses of that Jangle Pop that lit up Brit Pop.

Both Baby Blue Sky and Perfect Sunday Sun are great examples of this. The latter trumps it for me. It's 60's film references and visions of lazy sunday afternoons are enhanced by the sheer wonder of the song. Heywood is on as top form as ever.

Mothboxer - Get It Right

If you were to ask me which bands I get frustrated with because far far more should know about them two spring to mind. Spygenius, who I have a big feature planned for at the start of next year and Mothboxer.

Maidenhead's Mothboxer is essentially Dave Ody and they have a stellar back catalogue now dating back to 2010. There were signs that the deserved success would come when they blitzed IPO Liverpool's 2013 Extravaganza, but sadly, the delights still remain in the shadows.

Kent seems to be the centre of some fantastic Psych at present, but Mothboxer are of a different template. The Psych Pop feel is there, but the songs are far more hook led. Big Choruses arrive unexpectedly.

This Year's The Secret Art Of Nothing is a fantastic album, cementing the band's reputation. No greater example of the songcraft can be found away from the album's opener. Get It Right has two choruses and is an absolute joy.

GospelbeacH - Hanging On

In those halcyon Anything Should Happen Days we were all Beachwood Sparks fans and nodded thankfully for Brent Rademaker. That band were a sort of Country Rock, Gram Parsons inspired calmness that was a pleasant change from all the noise around at the time.

The Beachwood Sparks songs always seemed a bit sad though, melancholic, so the GospelbeacH albums are a marked change, particularly this year's Another Summer Of Love. There's a more Power Pop or AOR feel to the songs, very much like UK Mid 70's Pop Rock.

It's also great that so many in the UK are getting them, because this is music that deserves a wider audience. Rademaker also comes over as one of the nicest guys ever, a lover of music and appreciative of any attention.

Hanging On is as good an example as any of what the band are about. Catchy, concise, melodic, harmonic, say what you want to in two and a half minutes then move on. A great Summer Guitar solo is included too.

Pink Beam - Wrote Me A Letter

I see a lot of Bloggers and DJ's who put out requests for band Tags or videos etc and I always think that's a bit of a cop out. I suppose now that I'm more fortunate in that people know what I do, what I like and so I get sent a lot. I listen to everything, but don't review the vast majority of it. I also spend a lot of time discovering stuff for myself.

There are exceptions, Music Submit is one. This is an Internet thing that sends you songs you may like, very much like an Indie Play MPE. The vast majority of stuff that I get from them doesn't appeal.mainly formulaic, but in 18 months or so there has been about half a dozen exceptions.

Pink Beam are one and it was after delighting in their submission that I discovered that my good Ice Cream Pop Friend, Wayne Lundqvist Ford was a big supporter. Pink beam are far from Rockford, home of Cheap Trick.

There's a lot of similarities with Da Trick, the band focus on the meatier end of Power Pop, the songs are ratcheted up rather than jangle. It's incredibly appealing. Wrote Me A Letter is still one of my most favourite songs of the year.

The song rocks and has been an earworm for the past six months. If there's one band that I can't wait to hear more from it's this lot.

Pugwash - What Are You Like

I'm a massive Thomas Walsh fan. That likeability started well before rejoicing about Pugwash. We knew each other as big fans of The Move and ELO and Thomas happened to mention that he was in a band and would I like to hear some stuff. I was hooked.

Pugwash as a live act were probably my favourite live band, it was the mix of the Walsh's songs coming to life, but also the humour and camaraderie of the four piece. I don't get out and about as much these days, but I rarely missed a Pugwash show.

Silverlake is Thomas solo with Jason Falkner, but you wouldn't know. As a long time admirer of Falkner, I was bursting to hear that album, a sort of marriage made in heaven. It doesn't disappoint, it's full of hooks and although you'd expect to have Jeff Lynne comparisons, I hear more Jon Auer and Posies comparisons.

Silverlake is a bit more understated than previous Pugwash albums which allows the songs to breathe, The best example is the killer second single, What Are You Like, great Summer Pop that showcases Walsh's superb voice.

The Stanleys - Amy

I'd been waiting for The Stanleys album to appear for quite some time. It doesn't disappoint. Australia's contribution to Power Pop has been much less so in recent years, The Stanleys rectify that at a stroke. This is as fine an example of the genre as there as ever been.

The self titled album is a chorus heavy, high riff count affair that will underline to all Power Pop fans the reasons why they love the field. It just doesn't let up from start to finish. This is Guitar Pop at it's finest.

The lead off single, Amy, tells you all you need to know about the band. Very reminiscent of the best of UK New Wave. A time when these sorts of songs were all over the charts.  A two and a half minute joyful romp.

Felix Hagan And The Family - Attention Seeker

Although I'd love to claim I Don't Hear A Single's success as being all down to me, it's not the case. Just as Mick Dillingham was a big part of Anything Should Happen, Nick Fletcher plays a similar role on I Don't Hear A Single.

Mick and Nick's taste is impeccable and Nick's part in the 18 months of IDHAS shouldn't be underestimated. As well as being an expert on the Scandinavian scene, he feeds a lot into here. Our tastes meet in the middle. I veer off into Psych and Prog, he into Country and AOR, but it's the middle ground that hits the ink.

Nick has been praising Felix Hagan for quite a time and with the new album I see what he's been on about. It's such an accomplished debut, a real treat. I compare their impact to that of The Killers debut and on my first hearing, Foxy Shazam.

This is Theatrical Rock, but it doesn't rely on the dressing up, the song quality is high, high enough to make them the next big thing. They also have an incredible Live reputation. If Deaf School were starting out now, they'd be this lot.

Attention Seeker opens the album and reveals all you want to know about the band. Lyrically adept, constant changes and a splendid romp that previews all that they do, encapsulating it in the one song. It's a corker of a song.

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