1. "Sweet Marie" - The Anniversary - I owe a lot of my musical maturity to The Anniversary; I remember waiting for this album to come out, checking in at the local store again and again. The Anniversary (as well as bands like Built To Spill and The Promise Ring) really broadened my tastes past the punk-rock and pop-punk of my youth. I still feel like Your Majesty is an overlooked record - total pop bliss.
2. "How Much More" - The Go-Go's - The Go-Go's, what needs to be said? I know they can't be called overlooked or underrated, but this album is top-to-bottom, song-for-song perfection.
3. "Dreamphone" - Peach Kelli Pop - If you don't like Peach Kelli Pop then I don't know what to think of you - this song is so damn addictive and catchy.
4. "There Was a Door" - Crying - It's my hope that Crying's album Beyond The Fleeting Gales is remembered as an important record; not only do they stand out in the current musical landscape as a thoroughly inventive and creative group who are plucking through musical references that others may think less of (and screw those people! TOTO are fucking awesome,) they're also unbelievably talented and have put together a phenomenal piece of songwriting and pop-prowess. "There Was A Door" was easily one of my favourite songs last year, it's unbelievable. I love this band and can't wait for them to release more music.
5. "Don't Want To" - Cende - Cende's new album #1 Hit Single is a really cool mix of styles, and I love that their name is based off a really obtuse inside joke (someone was wearing a Descendents shirt and the only thing showing through a button-up was "Cende.")
6. "Dance This Mess Around" - The B-52's - The first two B-52s records are all-timers; will never forget the first time I heard a live-cut of Rock Lobster and realized it wasn't just some novelty song but was actually this really amazing song that happened to have funny/weird lyrics. Ricky Wilson is one of the best guitarists of all time, if you ask me.
7. "Equal and Opposite" - High Dive - High Dive features members of Good Luck, and both bands have had a huge impact on me, lyrically. I think both bands have some of the best lyrics of all time, an their ability to cut to the heart of their subject matter while still being poetic is unparalleled.
8. "Now and Then" - NONA - I had to include a song by NONA off Through The Head because I spent an entire year listening to this album on repeat, andI would just walk around Toronto air-drumming along to all the great fills and breakdowns on the album. I have fond memories of that.
9. "Lucinda" - A Certain Ratio - A Certain Ratio's Sextet melds funk/dance/new wave in such an atmospheric and distant way, it sounds almost like no other album from the era. Slap-bass haters need not apply, this is the artistic and angular funk you need, and with Martha Tilson's vocals and lyrics it is really something special.
10. "Deeper than Love" - Colleen Green - When I Want To Grow Up came out, I must have listened to Deeper Than Love a hundred thousand times in a row; this is a stunning track at six-minutes long and extremely personal, with simple melodies that repeat until they are buried into your brain.
11. " Go Fish" - CUB - If you don't know CUB you should, they're Canadian and they are wonderful and you should go get everything they ever put out right now.
12. "Never Say Never" - That Dog - That Dog. have a new album coming out and I don't think I've been this excited about a reunion album in a loooong time. I absolutely love Totally Crushed Out and Retreat From The Sun. What a great band.
13. "Hum" - Tigers Jaw - I was thinking of picking the opening track off the new Tigers Jaw LP, but had to go with Hum off their last record Charmer. Both albums are just stacked with wonderful, melancholic indie-rock/pop.
14. "No Guilt" - The Waitresses - Readers probably know I Know What Boys Want or Christmas Wrapping, but The Waitresses' Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? deserves your attention if you want a super-catchy, new-wave/pop album with uncompromising feminist lyricism from Patty Donahue.
15. "Powerful Man" - Hop Along - Hop Along's Powerful Man is such a brilliant song, because it takes a very scary and sad story (about watching a parent strike their child from the perspective of a teenager struggling to help but unable to figure out how) and wraps it in an immediate and hook-filled song that has the listener singing along before realizing and confronting the content. Few writers today have the ability to craft songs as powerful as Francis Quinlan.
16. "Mind Your Own Business" - Delta 5 - Delta 5 combined post-punk groove-based intensity with feminist politics to great effect, and certainly out-shine most bands from this era; their Singles & Sessions 1979-1981 release on Kill Rock Stars is absolutely essential.
17. "Heaven" - Girls at Our Best! - Girls At Our Best!'s sole studio album Pleasure is a hidden gem waiting to be unearthed for fans of early-eighties new-wave/post-punk. A spiked album of pop-melodies, it features a stone-cold classic single with "Going Nowhere Fast." Cherry Red Records re-released the record, and bonus track "Heaven" is just so so so great. If this song comes on, you'll have to hold me back to stop me from singing along with the chorus or the backing melodies - it's just fantastic.
18. "I Will Make Lasagna for You" - B.A. Johnston - B.A. Johnston is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has been going at it for years - when I was in High School, my friend Greg showed up to school having seen B.A. Johnston live the night before; he told me of his songs about the Legend of Zelda and eating Humpty Dumpty potato chips alone. Less than a year later, B.A. gave my (terrible) band one of our first shows ever - he even claimed to “like” our awful album once! Anyway, this song is so relatable and I literally cook the dinner described within all the time for my girlfriend Emma, because I am a terrible cook. So obviously I have to include it.
19. "Going Away to College" - Blink 182 - OK, I'm going to lose so many cool-points for this but I really don't care, Blink-182's Going Away To College is one of my favourite love songs. It's really their only song that reminds me of what Descendents could do so well with their ooey-gooey cheesy dopey love songs like Good Good Things or Get The Time.
20. "Love Song" - Au Pairs - Gotta counter that last one, so here's a great "Love Song" track by Au Pairs - another feminist post-punk group who I am obsessed with.
21. "Molly" - Palehound - Palehound is going to take over the world, I just know it. Dry Food was an amazing record and I cannot wait to hear what Ellen Kempner has cooked up on the next record. So far the singles have been really great so I have no worries about it disappointing.
22. "Twelve" - Tancred - Now, Now's Threads was a really strong record, so of course I have been following Jess Abbott's Tancred project since she released Capes in 2011. I was stoked when Out Of The Garden got such a great reception last year, and I hope new listeners make time to skip back to the self-titled record as well because it is a really solid record as well.
23. "I Say Nothing" - Voice of the Beehive - Voice of the Beehive's Let It Bee may be a slightly uneven record (it suffers by pacing a lot of the slow and fast tracks alternatively) but the songs that land are just stunning. "I Say Nothing" is as blunt and confrontational a pop-tune as you're likely to ever hear. If you're into the Go-Go's and The Bangles you gotta get Let It Bee.
24. "Former Performance Artist" - Fishboy -Fishboy's album Art Guards is the concept album of the year for people who don't like concept albums. Each song represents a character - former performance artists, ex-pitchers, actor/doctors etc. - and tracks their stories as they interweave into a full arc. It never feels pretentious or overreaching though, partly because the power-pop tunes are so effective on their own legs. I love this record.
25. "Scene of the Crime" - Crimes! - Crime's Good Hope is a great mope-rock album; this is a grey-day record if you've ever heard one, and I feel like it often gets overlooked. If you're into mid-tempo and melencholic indie-rock you should check out Good Hope.
26. "I Believe" - Football, Etc. - The new Football Etc. album (produced by Jawbox's J. Robbins) stands out of the 90s-throwback-pack on sheer songwriting ability; you've heard these sounds before (and recently, I'm sure) but they are executed so well, with palpable emotions and honesty. Lindsay Minton and co. have been around for a while, but the new record is surely going to gain them a whole new audience and level of popularity and I am so pumped about that.
27. "Skin" - All Dogs - The All Dogs record Kicking Every Day is so cathartic; all of the songs build to such wonderful releases that I couldn't create this mix without including at least one track from them here. I love love love this record and I think it's such an emotional journey from top to bottom - a beautiful record.