Tags: Bäddat För Trubbel, Boomgates, Bored Nothing, Cate Le Bon, Cate On Fire, Chain and the Gang, Crushed Stars, Deep Time, Eternal Summers, exlovers, Frankie Rose, Gap Dream, Grass Widow, Hospitality, Lawrence Arabia, Literature, Mac Demarco, Parquet Courts, People's Temple, Pop Singles, Prissy Clerks, Sea Pinks, Strategy, Super Vacations, Terry Malts, The Intelligence, The See See, The Tough Shits, This Many Boyfriends, Tyvek
Here’s the list of my favorite albums outside of Seattle for 2012. You may think it’s late, but you should know I got it done before the Russian New Year. Kevin Shields, you still have a few more days.
1. Exlovers – exlovers (Young And Lost Club)
Exlovers had my favorite single of 2011 and now my favorite record of 2012. Their debut album is a dreampop masterpiece that was a long time coming from this London band. I didn’t think I would ever hear a record this accomplished after the shoegaze/dreampop heyday of the 90′s. I hope that this album being criminally ignored by nearly everyone does not deter this amazing band from persevering and making another one.
You’re So Quiet:
2. Tyvek – On Triple Beams (In the Red)
This is an off the rails punk rock concept album about Tyvek’s hometown of Detroit and its urban blight slowly being turned back into an agrarian based metropolis. On Triple Beams sees Tyvek living up to the promise of their early singles and then exceeding it.
Wayne County Roads:
3. Boomgates – Double Natural (Bedroom Suck)
The half sung half spoken delivery of Eddy Current Suppression Ring frontman Brendan Huntly may be an acquired taste for some, but combined with Steph Hughes’ sweet croon and songs that bring to mind the brilliance of the Go-Betweens Double Natural is a sure winner.
4. Hospitality – Hospitality (Merge)
Hospitality effortlessly do cocktail jazz, indiepop and smooth pop, but you get the feeling that they are pulling their ideas from a larger pallet that includes some things that you wouldn’t expect like Steely Dan, Randy Newman and Todd Rundgren to name a few and that is what makes this record sound so familiar but different at once.
5. Frankie Rose – Interstellar (Slumberland)
Frankie Rose sloughed off the distortion and kicked it into hyperdrive on her second album. Slick space-age pop that I imagine if we still had a Space Shuttle program, would be playing in the cockpit on every lift off.
6. Cate Le Bon – Cyrk (The Control Group)
The Welsh chanteuse melded Velvet Underground with Kevin Ayers to come up with the best psychedelic record I heard all year.
7. Cats on Fire – All Black Shirts to Me (Matinée)
Pop music rarely sounds this elegant and regal. All Black Shirts To Me is an assured jewel in the Cats On Fire crown.
It’s Clear Your Former Lover:
8. Bored Nothing – Bored Nothing (Spunk)
Seems like anything coming out of Melbourne in 2012 was worthy. Fergus Miller’s (aka Bored Nothing) take on bedroom pop went from sad and introspective to blissed out dreampop. More than just another bedroom pop record and more than worthy.
9. Sea Pinks – Freak Waves (CF)
Girls Names drummer Neil Brogan is not only prolific, but talented as well. Sea Pinks third album is their best yet. Freak Waves is a jangly take on the classic Beach Boys model.
10. Lawrence Arabia – The Sparrow (Bella Union)
New Zealand’s James Milne knows how to do orchestral pop. The Sparrow is his third album as Lawrence Arabia and it’s a moody, pensive and playful feast of the ears.
11. Terry Malts – Killing Time (Slumberland)
San Francisco punks delivered a debut record full of blitzkrieg pop. Every song is no holds barred sing-along sweaty mosh pit.
12. Bäddat För Trubbel – Värdighet (Punks Only)
Not speaking a word of Swedish did not stop me from loving Bäddat För Trubbel’s second album. They employ influences like Eddy Current Supression Ring and Blumfeld and they aren’t afraid to have a guy who plays saxophone the band. True punks!
Det här jobbet:
13. The Intelligence – Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me (In the Red)
Mad thinker Lars Finberg upped and moved his band from Seattle to LA. The only thing I can complain about is that they don’t play Seattle as much any more. Otherwise, the Intelligence deliver another fractured masterpiece.
14. Deep Time – Deep Time (Hardly Art)
Formerly known as Yellow Fever, Austin, Texas duo Deep Time’s self-titled first album after their rechristening is a pure minimalist’s delight.
15. Gap Dream – Gap Dream (Burger)
Gabe Fulvimar’s Gap Dream is a wonderful debut. Kind of a psychedelic droner’s pop paradise.
Feast of the First Morning:
16. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (Dull Tools)
Parquet Courts deliver a taut cow punk record out of seemingly nowhere. The proverbial new kid in town Andrew Savage formerly of Fergus & Geronimo moved to Brooklyn, started a new band and came up gold.
Yonder is Closer to the Heart:
17. Eternal Summers – Correct Behavior (Kanine)
Eternal Summers seem to grow leaps and bounds with each release and Correct Behavior continues their upward trajectory. Nicol Yun’s songs get better and bigger sounding and when she lets the drummer have some like on Girls In the City it’s like the frosting on the cake.
18. The See See – Fountayne Mountain (The Great Pop Supplement)
The See See go on a wondrous psychedelic tour de force on their second album. Fountayne Mountain is the sound of a band peaking. Drug reference intended.
19. Super Vacations – Heater Pt. II (Funny Not Funny)
I love how after I listen to this album I feel like I have to wash the filth from body. Richmond, Virginia’s Super Vacations know the ins and outs of getting down and dirty and this record is an expressway to those dirty depths.
Faded Leather Jacket:
20. Pop Singles – All Gone (Vacant Valley)
More Melbourne goodness in this year’s list. Pop Singles’s debut record was an unexpected surprise and the best heart-on-the-sleeve-jangle-pop record of the year.
21. The Tough Shits – The Tough Shits (Burger)
Don’t let Philadelphia’s Tough Shits fool you. They want you to think that they’re a bunch of irreverent slackers, but their mothers know that their tender pop loving hombres and this record is all the proof you need.
Cats and Dogs:
22. This Many Boyfriends – This Many Boyfriends (Angular)
The debut album from Leeds’ This Many Boyfriends is love song to records, love songs and misfits. Sometimes songs that are meant to be funny wear off quickly, but this album isn’t too funny for its own good. It’s merely poignant.
23. Strategy – Strategy (Peak Oil)
Portland, Oregon resident Paul Dickow has many personas. His album using the Strategy moniker was a playful take on electronic music that took notes from Ultramarine and Yello in the way it incorporated pop songs with dub, kraut and weird.
24. Grass Widow – Internal Logic (HLR)
San Francisco trio Grass Widow finally embraced their full pop-selves on album number three. Internal Logic was brilliant for the way it juxtaposed minimalist instrumentation with lush harmonies.
25. Peoples Temple – More for the Masses (Hozac)
Either I’m still drinking the Kool-Aid or Lansing, Michigan’s Peoples Temple are. Their second album ups the dose and rattles the psyche. The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request was a good psychedelic record. Peoples Temple start with that blueprint and out psych the Stones and everyone else for that matter.
26. Chain and the Gang – In Cool Blood (K)
On Chain and the Gang’s third album leader Ian Svenonius gets a little more playful. He shares vocals with new member Katie Alice Greer and records the entire thing in mono. Kind of throwback but these ears, timeless.
27. Crushed Stars – In the Bright Rain (Simulacra)
In the Bright Rain lives under gray skies and rains down melancholia and cascades of guitars to beautiful effect. Being lonely, sad and out of sorts hasn’t sounded this good since the At Swim Two Birds album back in 2009.
28. Prissy Clerks – Bruise Or Be Bruised (Forged Artifacts)
The debut album from this Minneapolis was a sweet bite of 90′s indierock slathered with twee and powerpop condiments. Sweet, sour and definitely hot!
Former Austin and now Philadelphia band Literature are well read in the details of adrenaline fueled jangle pop. They deliver a wide eyed beauty in their debut album Arab Spring.
Push Up Bra:
30. Mac DeMarco – Mac DeMarco 2 (Captured Tracks)
On his second album, Montreal’s Mac DeMarco delivers a batch of skewed guitar pop gold. He seems be to posses the songwriting sensibilities of Nilsson, Lennon, Ayers and T Rex and he may be just as eccentric as them too.
Cooking Up Something Good:
Tags: Allah-Las, Dizzy Eyes, Grass Widow, Hausu, Ketamines, Terry Malts, The British Public, The Silver Factory, Wax Idols, Whirr
The 7-inch single has been around since 1949. That’s 62 years and counting! In my humble opinion the 7-inch single is still the essence, pinnacle and acme of pop perfection. Optimally, it’s one song, one side (Some try to squeeze on more). That’s no room for screwing up. You always hear that releasing a 7-inch is a money losing proposition, but that thankfully, doesn’t keep pop geeks from doing it. In honor of true blue pop geek vinyl junkies out there, here is the third installment of the annual Finest Kiss top 40 7-inch singles countdown.
11. Wax Idols – All Too Human (Hozac)
All Too Human exudes attitude, which doesn’t mean shit if you don’t have a song to back it up. No problem in that category either. Wax Idol’s debut single with it’s knifing guitars and big hooks immediately made me a fan. Yes I can get sucked in that easily.
mp3: Wax Idols – All Too Human
12. The Silver Factory – The Sun Shines Over You (Elefant)
Part classic Scottish pop like early Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub and the Pastels, part Stone Roses and all Byrds (and a little Monkees too), the Silver Factory’s debut single was four songs of near pop perfection.
mp3: The Silver Factory – The Sun Shines Over You
13. Terry Malts – I’m Neurotic (Slumberland)
Terry Malts are punks. They’re also pop geeks. This single came out of nowhere and cut to the quick. No filler. I’m Neurotic, Distracted and Where Is the Weekend? all kick sand in your face. I don’t remember sand in the face feeling this good.
mp3: Terry Malts – I’m Neurotic
14. Hausu – She’s a Babe (LebenStrasse)
I kind of think of Portland’s Hausu as contemporaries of Seattle bands like Craft Spells, Sea Pony and Stephanie. Kids inspired by obscure bands (Orange Juice is an obvious reference here) that happened long before they were born. Who says kids don’t know any history these days?
mp3: Hausu – She’s a Babe
15. Grass Widow – Milo Minute (HLR)
Grass Widow demonstrate their uncanny ability to simultaneously sound laid back and tightly wound. Milo Minute is their own, but it fits perfectly with their covers of two punk classics the well known (Wire’s Mannequin) and the not so well known but equally good Neo Boys’ Time Keeps Up.
mp3: Grass Widow – Milo Minute
17. Dizzy Eyes – Let’s Break Up the Band (Hardly Art)
I love a good mystery. Vancouver, BC’s Dizzy Eyes released a single single and then there were rumors of the singer being deported. Could it all have been an elaborate scheme? Release a single live it out and then disappear, it’s been known to happen.
mp3: Dizzy Eyes – Let’s Break Up the Band
18. The British Public – Bears (Tip Top)
There were a ton of bands that were aping the 90′s in some form or other this year. At first it was like candy and then it was like too much candy. Not the case with the British Public. I still can’t get enough of Ba Ba Ba Ba Bears!
mp3: The British Public – Bears
19. Allah-Las – Catamaran (Pres)
On first listen you might file this one away as garage rock, but it’s just too damn hi-fi to be garage. Recorded by Nick Waterhouse (who we’ll be hearing from again on this list I suspect), no record sounded better than Catamaran blasting from my stereo this year.
mp3: Allah-Las – Catamaran
20. Ketamines – Line By Line (Hozac)
This song is like a drug, oh wait, I think it’s about drugs. Line By Line sounds like a twee version of the Intelligence (on drugs). I can’t really think of a better compliment than that.
mp3: Ketamines – Line By Line
Tags: Blanch Hudson Weekend, Caged Animals, Caucus, Cloudberry, Devon Williams, Famous Class, Give It Ups, Grass Widow, HLR, Horowitz, Humms, Knock Yr Socks Off, Lucky Numbers, McDonalds, Motifs, Odd Box, One Fathom Down, Persian Rugs, Santa Monica Swim and Dive Club, Slumberland, State Capital, Tony Castles, Zebras
It’s been a busy few weeks out here in the upper left-hand corner of the United States. The singles have been coming in at a relentless pace. It was a long holiday weekend, so what better thing to do than to get caught up on listening to them. Here’s the low-down on the batch that were burning up my turntable this weekend.
Persian Rugs – Always All (Cloudberry)
Toronto’s Persian Rugs make up one of two singles from Cloudberry in this round-up. The A-side Always All has been swimming around the internet for a while. It has a seafaring keyboard intro that gives way to a simple guitar rif and a catchy chorus which of course, all singles should have. Though they don’t exactly sound like Ivy, that New York band does comes to mind here. The B-side is a slightly more country tinged affair but good as well. Buying the single gets you a download containing a total of five songs, three more than on the record itself.
Caucus – Wondering Ones (Cloudberry)
Caucus come from Japan, but you wouldn’t know it from hearing them as there is no detectable accent and they sound a little like early Pains of Being Pure at Heart or if you’re old like me, Poole who were on SpinArt back in the 90′s. Wondering Ones has breathy vocals and fuzzy guitars. Proving their appreciation and knowledge of their lineage, they choose to cover Rocketship‘s Love You Like the Way That I Used To Do on the B-side.
Odd Box Singles Club (Odd Box)
The first three singles from the Odd Box Singles Club arrived a couple weeks ago and they were worth the wait. Each single is a split between two bands. Blanche HudsonWeekend and Horowitz share the first one with their noisier, guitar drenched sounds. Single number two gives us the bratpunk sounds of the Give It Ups. The first song is shouted versus traded with sung choruses. The second asks the question, what kind of guy dates a girl named Knives? The Santa Monica Swim and Dive Club on the flip is a spin-off project of Saturday Looks Good To Me. False Start, My Heart is ok, but maybe a little to middle of the road indiepop for my tastes. My favorite of the first three goes to the Humms/One Fathom Down split. One Fathom Down do rowdy-surf inspired instrumentals. Nothing new, but both their songs shred. The Humms’ Jupiter is a perfect slice of acoustic British invasion pop. I believe that you can still subscribe to the singles club, just click on the link above.
Zebras/Motifs Split (Knock Yr Socks Off)
Speaking of the Rocketship, the Zebras evoke the Sacramento band’s sound a little on their split with the Motifs. The Zebras are from Australia and have released a couple albums on Lost and Lonesome. Desert Island shows them to be in fine form and making me hope for album number three from them. Sharing this tiny slab of wax is fellow Melbourne band, the Motifs. Words is a sugared up two minute hyper swirling pop song. No caffeine needed here. Can’t decide which side is better…
Devon Williams – Your Sympathy (Slumberland)
Los Angeles songsmith Devon Williams is about to release his second album, but before that he’s got this 7″ single for you. Your Sympathy starts out with a big sounding Icicle Works Whisper To a Scream sounding intro. Williams doesn’t let it get out of hand though as he has a way of putting you at ease with his heart-aching voice which has this tendency to remind me of East River Pipe.
Caged Animals – Girls On Medication (Lucky Numbers)
Another Brooklyn band? Shrug. Caged Animals‘ song Girls on Medication made me sit up instead of shrug. Lazy, druggy dreampop with a killer hook. The B-side and the other songs they have on bandcamp are more electronic and less enticing, leading me to believe that this is either a fluke or a new direction for them. Hoping it’s the later.
Grass Widow – Milo Minute (HLR)
Grass Widow have been quiet for a little while. The silence is ended with this self-released single. First off, I love the art on the sleeve. It looks like a the doodles of a clothing designer who likes guitars. The songs live up to the cover. Milo Minute may be the catchiest song Grass Widow have written to date and it benefits from having its volume turned way up. The flip side serves up two covers, one from the Neo Boys and the other being Wire‘s Mannequin. Mannequin is probably the second most covered Wire song (the first has to be Outdoor Miner). It’s no reinvention, but it differs with it’s harmonies and echoed vocals. Worthwhile!
Tony Castles – Juice (Famous Class)
Bill over at Sound Bites had the Tony Castles EP on one of his year end lists last year, describing it as Prefab Sprout-esque. Those two words are all I needed. This new single from the Brooklyn band has more of a post-rock sound to it evoking Field Music a little. Juice has a funky 80′s vibe and is quite good, but I think I like the pillowy downbeat B-side Heart In the Pipes better.
McDonalds – Name Names (State Capital)
The last time at the drive-thru we were sorted for e’s and wiz listening to McDonalds‘s debut single. Single number two is upon us and without he help of Factory or Martin Hannett. Amazing. This nderachiever, ramshackle rock is for fans of German Measles who like to dance.
Tags: Drums, Frankie and the Outs, Grass Widow, Harlem, Hex Dispensers, Japandroids, Standard Fare, Summer Cats, Twin Sister, White Wires, Woo-Man and the Banana
Friday started at Club DeVille at another Brooklyn Vegan event. Greenpoint, Brooklyn band Twin Sister were playing an early set at noon. A Lunch time gig, or breakfast rather, for the late risers in Austin is a toughone . The band sounded ok, maybe a little sleepy. I really like their freely downloadable ep Vampires with Dreaming Kids, but they didn’t play my favoirte song from it, the Cocteau Twins-like Ginger.
Up to this point corporate America had been hidden from SxSW experience. Arriving at the Fader Fort that was no longer the case. Walking through a clothing store to get into the the free booze fest was like the walk of shame. Once through with no purchases, we headed for the stage to catch local band Harlem. Their short set was fun, but the huge festival like stage was a little too big for this garage band. They hopped around, switched instruments and seemed to have a good time anyway.
Vancouver’s Japandroids were next and what was a mostly empty space for Harlem quickly became a packed one for this guitar and drums duo. One thing I will say about Japandroids, they have some really big amps.
We stayed put for Drums, who were a bit over the top. I think that’s the point though. They looked like they could have been on Factory records circa 1985 with they eye make up and styled hair. The band appeared to be barely playing, leading me to believe that most of the music was pre-recorded. Drums seem to be a vehicle for front man Jonathan Pierce, who pranced and posed around the stage and at times sounded more than a little like Martin Fry of ABC.
On our way over to catch the last part of the Trouble In Mind show at the Longbranch, we hit up a taco wagon for some grub and got to the Longbranch just as Ottawa’s White Wires were launching into the a-side of their Trouble In Mind single, Pretty Girl. Their set was easily the best of the day, a rollicking good time filled with gigantic hook after gigantic hook, powerpop in the vein of such classics as the Nerves and the Breakaways. I’m really looking forward to album number two from these guys due out on Dirtnap later this year.
Austin’s Hex Dispensers were next, and they let us have it with their hi-octane, slightly sinister punk rock. Bill mentioned they sounded more like the Damned than the Fall for which they seem to be named.
Women’s restroom signage. The Longbranch restrooms, won the Trainspotting award for worst restrooms of the week. Wish I would taken a photo, but I was trying to get out as fast as I could.
As we left the Longbranch, across the street on a patch of grass in front of car wash, the zany Woo-man and the Banana launched into a set of catchy garage rock. At first it seemed like a joke, the drummer in a banana suit and the singer in a chartreuse wig and dress, but the Chicago band seemed to have their shit together. They said they’d be there all night or at least until someone made them leave.
We didn’t stay to see if they were gonna get booted, instead we headed over to Cheer-up Charlies to see the Mantles, but that turned out to be a boondogle, as they were running behind and we were forced to endure Sun Arwas. Not wanting to miss Standard Fare at the Slumberland/Cake Shop show we bailed before the Mantles made their appearance. On our way, we ran into Mark Manone, former bassist of the Lucksmiths, he was here playing with Still Flyin’ and gave us an update on what the rest of the Lucksmiths are up to (not much musically).
Arriving at the Mohawk we saw a line down the block, but splurging for a wristband does have some advantages. We walked right past everyone in line straight into the Mohawk. Standard Fare did not disappoint with their sweet, smart pop. The Sheffield band’s album is getting a release here in the states on Bar None so hopefully they’ll be back.
I missed Reading Rainbow to run over to Beerland to see what time Wounded Lion were going to be playing at the In The Red show. Found out it wasn’t in cards tonight if I wanted to see Frankie Rose and the Outs, so I headed back over to the Mohawk in time for Australia’s Summer Cats. They played all the hits including Let’s Go, Lonely Planet,In June and threw in a Left Bank cover for good measure. I am a Summer Cats fan, and even with the hits, the set seemed a bit lackluster. They seemed to be having fun though, mentioning how their set was sponsored by some kind of spray-on pancake product. Must be an Australian thing.
By this time the Mohawk was filling up. Frankie & the Outs were up next, and the rest of her other band Dum Dum Girls were in the house to see her. Frankie was sporting a hat with a wide brim, a flowing large sleeved shirt and a ton of reverb. Too much reverb. A lot of the songs had a surf, Link Ray feel to them but you couldn’t make out a single lyric, nor could you make out a single word she uttered between songs. The 7 inch on Slumberland and the new songs up on her myspace are all quality, but she needs to dial the reverb down for gigs.
Next up were San Francisco’s Grass Widow who currently have a two ep’s to their name, one on Make a Mess and the other on Captured Tracks, and an album due sometime soon on Kill Rock Stars. The trio were charming, noisy and a little bit twangy. I thought they were a neat combination of Tiger Trap and Freakwater, something you certainly don’t hear every day. Pains of Being Pure at Heart were the headliners, but I decided to take a rain check and head home in hopes of making it through one more day shows. On our way back we stopped for a late night bite at Taco Cabana. There were surprisingly no bands playing there, but Ty Segall was in line behind us with same idea.