Midyear Notables or Oh Yeah I Almost Forgot About This Blog

Hopefully your RSS reader still works and this popped up. My excuse for lack of content here at the Finest Kiss is that I’ve been too busy listening to records. To catch everyone up on my life, here are 30 or so records that are at the top of my pile so far for 2018. Seems like a lot, but I still feel like I left a lot of good stuff out.

annaburch
Anna Burch – Quit the Curse (Polyvinyl)
Burch was in the Sarah Records influenced Failed Flowers with Fred Thomas of Saturday Looks Good to Me. Here debut solo album has a nod or to towards K Records, specifically Lois Maffeo, with its 90’s style indiepop and understated sardonic pop.

beachhouse
Beach House – 7 (Sub Pop)
Baltimore’s Beach House are a prolific duo and their many records seem to have building up to their seventh appropriately titled album. If you recall late period Cocteau Twins when they were at the height of their ethereal powers, then yuo will no doubt already own this.

blueslawyer
Blues Lawyer – Guess Work (Emotional Response)
With their tendrils firmly wrapped around the Oakland, California indie scene, Blues Lawyer do lo-fi wiry punk ditties that bring to mind contemporaries the Rays and early influencers like Television Personalities and the Tronics.

cavern
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Hormone Lemonade (Duophonic)
Tim Gane’s post-Stereolab groop puts it all together on their third album. It’s full of experimental Kraut excursions and just enough song structure to keep it from going off the rails.

cutworms
Cut Worms – Hollow Ground (Jagjaguwar)
Tons of Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly in Hollow Ground, which flies in the face of present day music. What’s wrong with this one man band Max Clark and his compulsion of a bygone era? Who cares, when it sounds this good.

datenight
Datenight (US) – Comin Atcha’ 100MPH (Drop Medium)
Anyone remember that Box Elders record from a ways back? If not, you probably are familiar with the Clean. This Nashville band reminds me of both.

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Dumb – Seeing Green (Mint)
Most would file Dumb under Pavement/Parquet Courts, but I dig way these Vancouver rockers’ punky songs evoke Big Boys, sport an offbeat sense of the absurd and (probably) make an unintentional nod to Stewart Copeland’s alter ego Klark Kent.

flasher
Flasher – Constant Angel (Domino)
I love how this DC band blend Hometown influences like Unrest and Holland with Three O’clock style paisley underground into a brilliant record that goes against the current grain. If this came out 25 years ago it woulda been on Teenbeat fer sure!

freakgenes
Freak Genes – Qwak Qwak (Drunken Sailor)
Sparse lo-fi punky songs from a guy from Proto Idiot and another guy from the Red Cords. On LP number the duo add some synths to their garage arsenal of sound. I’m not sure why they’re dressed as ducks on the cover, maybe it’s a result of some gene splicing experiment gone awry where they tried to genetically modify the DNA of Buzzcocks, Syd Barret and Howard the Duck.

girlsnames
Girls Names – Stains on Silence (Tough Love)
On their fourth album, Northern Ireland’s Girls Names plunge themselves down into a dark, dark place. It’s not as immediate as previous efforts, but I think I like this new one more than anything they’ve done so far. It brings to mind the moody “difficult” post punk the Sound’s All Fall Down and Comsat Angels’ Sleep No More.

goatgirl
Goat Girl – Goat Girl (Rough Trade)
London’s Goat Girl sound like a 1980’s 4AD band from the United States. Translated, that means think Throwing Muses and Pixies. Throw in a little PJ Harvey and Gallon Drunk and you’re only missing Steve Albini, who apparently was too busy playing poker to records their debut LP.

greensea
Green Seagull – Scarlet Fever (Mega Dodo)
From the If it ain’t baroque then surely its psychedelic school of 60’s rock revivalism, comes Green Seagull’s debut LP. Both of last year’s excellent singles reappear here to re-mezmerize, but there are many new songs drenched in kaleidoscopic harmonies and 12 string guitars that are just as worthy.

gwenno
Gwenno – Le Kov (Heavenly)
For her sophomore album Gwenno has switched from singing in Welsh to singing in Cornish, a minor detail probably for most of us who speak neither. Whatever language she sings in, Gwenno excels at the lingua franca of krautrock-psychedelic-soundtrack strain of rock.

holliecook
Hollie Cook – Vessel of Love (Merge)
Swapping out Prince Fatty with Youth to produce her third album of tropical reggae vibes, Hollie Cook doesn’t miss a step. There are fewer string arrangements, but one half of Public Image Limited (Jah Wobble and Keith Levene) and a top batch of songs make barely noticeable.

hookworms
Hookworms – Microshift (Domino)
Hookworms started out as a screaming maelstroem inspired by Thirteenth Floor Elevators, but with each album they have sanded down the roughness of their sound little by little and now Microshift sees them morphing into Depeche Mode. Not quite, but they do employ some fast fashion into this record to thrilling effect while still keeping their slightly unhinged attitude.

insecure
Insecure Men – Insecure Men (Fat Possum)
The new band from Saul Ademczewski formerly of Fat White Family is light, playful and unassuming, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. With a name like Insecure Men and sounding like it they were influenced by Harry Nilson, the Lightening Seeds, Love & Rockets and Captain Sensible, Ademczewski an his collaborator Ben Romans-Hopcraft stay on the pop rails just barely.

itchy
Itchy Bugger – Done One (Low Company)
This record appears to bit of an anomaly, a dude from bands that sound nothing like the Clean, Television Personalities, and the Art Museums makes an album that makes a record that sounds like it was directly influenced by those bands. What a crazy wonderful world.

espaces
Jonathan Fitoussi / Clemens Hourrière – Espaces Timbrés (Versatile)
This duo employ vintage modular synthesizers to create ambient landscapes that share topographical similarities with Kraftwork’s Radioactivity and Eno’s ambient stuff. Rarely does ambient music feel so powerful, but this record is juiced with the ability to make one feel they are floating into other realms.

laluz
La Luz – Floating Features (Hardly Art)
I suppose it isn’t all that surprising that a surf band from Seattle would move to Los Angeles. Who wants to surf (or play beach parties for that matter) the frigid waters of the Pacific Northwest when sunny SoCal is just down the I-5? With some production help from Dan Auerbach and sporting a slightly more muscular tone, these former Seattle ladies seem to have adjusted to their new locale quite nicely.

laylamas
Lay Llamas – Thuban (Rocket)
Lay Llamas essentially is Italy’s Nicola Giunta creating multi-textured psychedelic rock. On Thuban he has a few guest to help him out including Goat and Clinic, but this is his show of rhythmic dalliances into north Africa, Thailand and the Beta Band’s Edinburgh.

lithics
Lithics – Mating Surfaces (Kill Rock Stars)
I recommend Lithics second album and first for Kill Rock Stars knowing that their sparse, mechanical clang is not for everyone, but for those who like cold hard surface on which to reproduce…Hell even if you don’t and want something cold, sharp and hard to jar you from your comfort zone then this is it.

mapc
Math & Physics Club – Lived Here Before (Fika)
Math & Physics Club have been known to cover REM, I remember them doing an excellent version of Shaking Through from Murmur, so it not surprising to hear them dropping REM references throughout Lived Here Before. Don’t worry, if you are a fan of their subtle understated pop, they haven’t gone all End of the World as We Know it. They have this great ability to subtly incorporate influences without them overpowering their own of delicate pop.

melodys
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage (Fat Possum)
The second effort from Melody Prochet was a long time coming, but well worth the wait. Instead of the focused pop of her debut, she teams up with members of Dungen to make a psyche rock amoeba built on improvisation and fear of being fenced in. It has a random kitchen sink feel at times, but it sounds adventurous and exciting.

olkenyolk
Olden Yolk – Olden Yolk (Trouble In Mind)
I always wonder when a member of a band, say Shane Butler of Quilt, starts another band, what does that mean for the other band? Are they kaputt, or just taking a break? Bultler is joined by Caity Shaffer and they come off sounding like a long lost 60’s California folk group that has a thing for the German motorik beat. A near perfect combination of the two and my new chocolate & peanut butter.

orielles
The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment (Heavenly)
I’ve seen the Orielles described as being, baggy, shoegaze and C-86. They’ve been compared also to the Pastels, Pink Floyd, Belly and Orange Juice. For the record I’m not going to add to that confusing list of comparisons. I will say that this trio’s debut album is strong in the pop department and has something for nearly everyone.

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Parquet Courts – Wide Awake (Rough Trade)
The new PC’s album was produced by Danger Mouse, reminds me of the Beastie Boys Check Your Head era funk and Spoon’s sparse percussive pop. Wide Awake might be their best since their debut Light Up Gold.

patois
Patois Counselors – Proper Release (Ever Never)
Charlotte, North Carolina’s first impressed with 2015’s Clean Skits single on Negative Jazz. The seven piece band are a kin to Protomartyr, with a seriously lower profile. Their debut album is full of post punk, art school ditties reminiscent of Pere Ubu, the Fall and Fugazi and every bit as worthy of your hard earned money.

Horology
Red Red Eyes – Horology (Where It’s At Is Where You Are)
This year I’ve felt a strong Broadcast influence in the rock continuum and UK duo Red Red Eyes are another piece of anecdotal evidence for my case. It’s not a Broadcast tribute mind, Horology is moody, mysterious, trippy and not afraid to borrow from Massive Attack and Serge Gainsbourg either.

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The Roves – The Roves (One Man Movement)
This London band’s debut album is a jangly throwback to classic 60’s pop records that were packed with two and tree minutes pop songs and not a dud to be found in the bunch.

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Say Sue Me – Where We Were Together (Damnably)
The undeniably catchy Old Town is a slice of classic indiepop, but it’s sort of a red herring too. Say Sue Me hail from South Korea and it’s obvious they are fans of the UK indiepop style, but they paint from a bigger pallet of surf inspired guitars and effects laden dreampop.

shannon
Shannon Shaw – Shannon in Nashville (Easy Eye Sound)
Is it ok to say that I like this better than any Shannon & the Clams albums? The Shaw – Auerbach collaboration reminds me a little of accomplished pop-psych that came out of the Del Shannon – Andrew Loog Oldham collaboration.

shopping
Shopping – The Official Body (Fatcat)
For album number three (why does nobody call the third album their junior effort) Shopping rip it up and start again. Not exactly, but they employed Edwyn Collins to produce the record. Their brand of dancy post-punk benefits from an infusion of Orange Juice to make it their most accessible record yet.

sonsofkemet
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen Is a Reptile (Impulse!)
I didn’t even know that the Impulse label still existed as a label that put out new stuff. This is the group’s  third album and its tuba, trombone, sax, clarinet attack spans Mingus, Jamaican ska/reggae, Coltrane and Sun Ra. Remarkable, even for non-jazz aficionados like myself.

virginiawing
Virginia Wing – Ecstatic Arrow (Fire)
This is the first Viginia Wing I’ve bought since EP on Faux Discx. I love it. Touches of Taken by Trees, Hector Zazou, and Broadcast, the latter which (as you can probably tell) seems to be so prevalent in my listening tastes lately.

Living in the Past or I’m Still In Love With 2017

Those pesky end of year best of lists should really not come out until March, but that’s not likely considering that internet lives in future tense. It’s the end of February, 2018 but I’m still discovering records from last year that could have easily been included on my best of 2017 list. In my futile attempt to not be ruled by the hurry up what’s next mantra, here are a handful of releases from last year that I’ve discovered on the wrong side of the calendar for the internet.

Paul Messis

Paul Messis is a busy guy. He runs the Market Square record label and fronts the punk rock Suburban Homes. In his free time, he squeezed in some time to released his third solo record at the end of last year on Austin’s 13 O’clock record label.  Songs of Our Times is a 12 string drenched , late 60’s tour of folk-y protest rock. The songs have a raw feel with lyrics inspired by these upside down times of the current day

The Tahitian Sons

While your friends are spending over thirty bucks a pop to reaffirm their love of Felt, you can go the cheaper route and download the two latest EP’s from Manchester’s Tahitian Sons. I hope that is all I need to say about this band to pique your interest. The seven song Blackpool Peppers and six track Dice Dance slipped out in December as download only EP’s on Bandcamp.  Both are name your price on bandcamp so there’s no excuse!



Forever Pavot

Fifty Years from now I can see a label like Finders Keepers reissuing Forever Pavot’s records. The second album by Emile Sornin’s ensemble features a move soundtrack feel than the previous Rhapsode. Nevertheless, it still features a 60’s sci-fi feel that bands like Broadcast and Stereolab borrowed from Peter Thomas. I

Joshua Abrams

One of my favorite Stereolab songs is Soop Groove #1, a b-side on the Fluorescences single. It is 13 minutes of a hypnotic groove that doesn’t really go anywhere but is capable of placing you into another state of conscious. Chicago jazz guy Joshua Abrams has taken that 13 minutes and expanded it into an entire album. It’s absolutely brilliant. But you shouldn’t take my word for it, because I’ve been under hypnosis since hearing it.

Helta Skelta

I really hadn’t paid too much attention to Australia’s Helta Skelta’s hardcore act up to now. Their Nightclubbing single (no association with Iggy Pop song) which came out in October has a very Eddy Current Suppression Ring feel to it, and since I doubt that we’ll ever hear another ECSR record, this record deserves a posthumous single of the year award.

Total Control

Speaking of ECSR, guitarist Mikey Young’s other band Total Control released their third album at the tail end of last year. The hard core set found it disappointing because it had too much melody and not enough aggression. Not being a real punk, I found it delightful. They’ve obviously been listening to Microdisney and Fatima Mansions and have bent their songs into subversive melody while keeping the tension at a high level, just a little differently than before.

Telepathic

I should pay closer attention to the Third Uncle label, also home of Honey Radar. From the ashes of Bleeding Rainbow, Telepathic have emerged with a stronger sense of being and set of really tight set of fuzzy lo-fi songs that sound best when they bleed into the red.

Les Filles de Illighadad

If you dig the hypnotic effects of Joshua Abrams, take a trip to the Sahara. Named for their village Illighadad, in the Tahoua region of Niger, Lilles de Illighadad’s second album Eghass Malan is just the thing. The humming rhythm combines with lullaby-like vocals and sublime guitar to create higher states of being.

Swim Team – Lazeritis split 7-inch

This split single between two Melbourne bands is an all girl win-win. Swim Team’s Positively Hopeless reminds me of a Marine Research – Tiger Trap combination that will make the 90’s feel like yesterday. Lazeritis’ Little Sister is more punk, but not of the riot grrl style. The chorus of ‘We’ll shake shit up till they all turn blue” is a real fist-raiser.

Albums of 2017

The year 2017 will go on record as the first year I bought more downloads of albums than CD’s. I guess I’ve finally succumbed to the idea that a digital download is just as good as the compact disc. All things being equal, I prefer a complimentary copy of the vinyl with my purchase of the download. So, without any further digressions, here are my top 40 albums of 2017 with streaming links if I could find one.

rvg
1. RVG – A Quality of Mercy (Our Golden Friend)
This Australian band’s debut album grew slowly on me. It’s initial pressing sold out before anyone outside their circle even heard about them. Rooted in some of the best Australian bands like the Triffids and the Go-Betweens. Soaring guitars and lyrics filled with the bleakness of real life fueled songs that got better and better with each listen.

fazerdaze
2. Fazerdaze – Morningside (Flying Nun)
I was surprised not to see this album on more year end lists. Blissed out bedroom pop that is in the same realm as the better-known Jay Som. For my money though, Fazerdaze has a better hit ratio.

bedouine
3. Bedouine – S/T (Spacebomb)
This record came out of nowhere and sounded like nothing else this year. Part Carpenters, Jim Sullivan and Leonard Cohen. Syrian-born Azniv Korkejian who goes by Bedouine posses a smooth and soothing voice and made the comfort record of the year.

cableties
4. Cable Ties – S/T (Poison City)
The debut LP from this Australian trio was full of piss and vinegar. The songs were based on great grooves the reminded me of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and the angst-ridden vocals of Jenny McKechnie flashed with hints of Sleater Kinney. A band to be reckoned with!

melenas
5. Malenas – S/T (El Nébula)
Melenas from Pamplona, Spain take their Flying Nun records and translate them into toe tapping Spanish jangle. Who new that Jangle pop was a lingua franca? If world peace ever happens, expect Melenas to be featured on the soundtrack.

baxter-dury
6. Baxter Dury – Prince of Tears (Heavenly)
On his fourth album, Ian Dury’s kid delivers a brilliant set of songs. From the sleaze of the opener Miami to the filth laden vocals of guest Rose Elinor Dougall to the surprisingly clean cameo of Sleaford Mod’s Jason Williamson this record keeps you on your toes.

UVTV
7. UV-TV – Glass (Deranged)
The debut record from this Florida trio had the sugar-coated blitzkrieg pop reminiscent of the Primitives combined with Spacemen 3 druggy drone. The louder you turned it up the better it gets on this brilliant record.

girlray
8. Girl Ray – Earl Grey (Moshi Moshi)
This trio of teens from Wales deliver bouncy, breathless pop that sounds like part bucolic beauty and part wild overgrown garden. Elements of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Kevin Ayres lend excitement to Earl Grey and make them a band I’m excited to see what comes next for them.

lars
9. Lars Finberg – Moonlight Over Bakersfield (In the Red)
Striking out on his own, or retreating back to his hometown of Bakersfield, California? A little bit of both as the Intelligence front man and founder teams up with Ty Segall to make a solo record that sounds like an Intelligence record. I love the circuitousness of it all and truth be told, Lars could make a record of him blowing into beer bottles and I’d probably love it.

zebra
10. Zebra Hunt – In Phrases (Tenorio Cotobade)
I chose not to make a separate list of Seattle albums this year due to the issue of the seemingly disappearing Seattle scene. Thankfully the city still has these fellows who make Feelies-Flying Nun styled jangly pop that is second to none. Album number two from Zebra Hunt sees the band maintaining the insanely high level of quality of their debut.

groupd
11. Group Doueh & Cheveu – Dakhla Sahara Session (Born Bad)
This seemed to be an odd team-up, but it worked. The two bands, one from the Sahara, the other from France met in the desert to meld their styles and come up with avant desert grooves that shake rattle and roll like rock and roll is supposed to do.

feature
12. Feature – Banishing Ritual (Upset! the Rhythm
Make a record. Break up. Release the record. This trio of women seemed to have it somewhat backwards, but their Wire inspired pop that scratches, rubs and soothes sometimes all at once makes for a winning record.

star
13. Star Tropics – Lost World (Shelflife)
Chicago’s Star Tropics blend of indiepop jangle, Sarah records, For Against and New Order won’t win them any awards for originality, but the quality of their songs and the atmosphere they create is no rip-off either.

owens
14. Kelly Lee Owens – S/T (Smalltown Supersound)
For fans of Kate Bush, Bjork and the Cocteau Twins Kelly Lee Owens is a godsend. You hear elements of all the aforementioned, but nothing obvious due to Owens skipping off down her own path of ethereal pop bliss.

blacksprings
15. Black Springs – When We Were Great (Oven Material)
Instead of calling this an album, Black Springs chose to call When We Were Great a compilation of songs from their past giving you the idea that the band are no longer together. Mystery aside, this record has elements of dreampop, shoegaze and jangle and a confidence that has me pulling for them to make another record.

alvvays
16. Alvvays – Antisocialites (Polyvinyl)
I nearly wrote this Canadian band’s sophomore effort off, until Lollipop came up on shuffle one day. That song reminded me how effortlessly easy this band makes great pop songs. After Lollipop, Plimsoull Punks hit me, and after that Not My Baby and I was a believer again.

destroyer
17. Destroyer – Ken (Merge)
With Ken, Dan Bejar has fully stepped into the Scottish rain soaked landscapes of the Blue Nile. The sound is majestic and the outlook is dreary and sad, but with Bejar you get laughs with your tears. It was unfortunate that he decided to forgo appearing on the latest New Pornographers LP this year, but that means this album is all top shelf stuff.

bboys
18. B Boys – Dada (Captured Tracks)
I loved how Dada seemed to be both punk and post-punk at once. Or maybe it was the goth sound made me think of Christian Death and the Chameleons. Who knows, but it was loud and fun. I also loved how there ain’t a clunker in the bunch.

clap
19. Clap! Clap! – A Thousand Skies (Black Acre)
After teaming up with Paul Simon last year, Cristiano Crisci returns with album number two of dark world inspired rhythms. A Thousand Skies is cut from the same cloth of tribal rhythms and slithering melodies that veer towards drum and bass, but he adds some guest vocalists this time around.

Priests
20. Priests – Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon)
Washington, DC’s Priests ably carry on the politically informed pop/punk that was championed by a litany of bands from the nation’s capital. Nothing Feels Natural Feels urgent and agitated and under attack. Priests kick back and write songs worth rallying around, which is much needed in this day and age of moral drift.


21. Flat Worms – S/T (Castle Face)
Flat Worms which features former members of Dream Boys, Sic Alps and Thee Oh Sees hit the ground running on this pummelingly great record. Lead off song Motorbike sets the scene of this menacing record. They’re sound like a biker gang that digs Suicide, but thinks synths are for poseurs. Big and bad!

shabazz2
shabazz1
22. Shabazz Palaces – Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star &
Quazarz Vs. The Jealous Machines(Sub Pop)

I guess the two Shabazz Palaces LP’s from this year are considered a rap album, but it’s so out there in terms of mainstream rap that I don’t consider it as such. This is sci-fi fantasy that transcends musical boundaries. You like the Peter Thomas Orchestra? How about Can? That Clap! Clap! record? And a thousand other things. You can probably come at these two records from a hundred different directions and still dig them both.

motroper
23. Mo Troper – Exposure & Response (Good Cheer)
Mo Troper’s second album may not change the world, but it’s pristine orchestral pop will restore your faith in it. This is wide-eyed, wide-screen beautiful stuff likely influenced by albums by Jellyfish, Jeremy Egnik and Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground.

holiday
24. Holiday Ghosts – S/T (PNKSLM)
Manchester’s Holiday Ghosts self-titled debut is a bouillabaisse of low-key, unpolished pop. The group have a lot in common with bands like the Pastels, Comet Gain and the Envelopes. The vocals are shared between band members giving the album the feel of a vaudeville variety, but they keep the plot tight and the songs sweet.

sleaford
25. Sleaford Mods – English Tapas (Rough Trade)
You would think that after high rate of release this duo keeps up that they’d run out of ideas, but English Tapas sees no let up and in fact may their best one since Austerity Dogs. Mop Top even sees them introduce a melody and chorus, and gasp, no swearing. Are they aiming for the charts?

world
26. The World – First World Record (Upset! The Rhythm)
Take a tiny bit of Banarama, and add in some Specials and Selector and you get a sort of idea of what the Bay Area’s the World are going after. Steeped in 80’s punk and ska and sporting pop an astute pop sensibility First World Record is a sax laden tour de fun.

novella
27. Novella – Change of State (Sinderlyn)
Change of State sees Novella continuing on the same trajectory of their debut from 2015. Motorik beats, icy, layered vocals and clean sounding guitar riffs. This batch of songs is stronger and they approach the same quality that Broadcast reached on Tender Buttons.

proto
28. Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent (Domino)
Protomartyr’s fourth album is a towering achievement. It simultaneously comments on the sorry state of society, shares its rage and does so with songs that make you want to raise your fist and shout the chorus. Up the Tower, Don’t Go To Anacita and Male Plague are among the band’s best. My only complaint about this album is that the best stuff is hidden on side two, but that is minor.

slowdive
29. Slowdive – S/T (Dead Oceans)
It’s weird to think that Slowdive were scoffed at by the British press during their first incarnation in the 1990’s. That press is long gone, out of business. Slowdive are still with us and making brilliant music. Their self-titled comeback is packed full of dreampop featuring both Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell’s ethereal vocals. Slowdive can still conjure it.

business
30. Business of Dreams – S/T (Kocliko Records)
Corey Cunningham of the Terry Malts strikes out on his own into the world of 80’s inspired synth-pop. Inspired by the death of his father, Cunningham made a record that is personal in nature but its pop hooks combination of synthesizers and guitar riffs make it more than palatable to general populous.

spinning
31. Spinning Coin – Permo (Domino)
After a handful of singles, Glasgow’s Spinning Coin finally deliver the goods in their debut long player. As you might expect it’s a combination of ramshackle Pastels like pop and good natured Teenage Fanclub guitar pop.
https://spinningcoin.bandcamp.com/

jana
32. Juana Molina – Halo (Crammed Discs)
Juana Molina has been making records for a while now. Halo is her seventh album. Her formula hasn’t changed too much over the years, creating loops and building them up into a bricolage. In the past it could get busy, but Halo sees her cleaning things up a bit and delivering more straightforward earworms.


33. Oh Sees – Orc (Castle Face)
At this point, a jaded listener might think Oh Sees records are delivered off a conveyor belt, one that changes its name after each new model. Dropping the Thee, John Dwyer’s group sees no creative letdown despite fewer letters. In fact, Orc delivers classic sounding rippers interspersed with Eno style ambience.

stevens
34. The Stevens – Good (Chapter Music)
Album number two from the center of the Melbourne indie scene, didn’t seem to get the attention of their debut. Too bad, because this batch of songs is high quality. At 18 tracks, Good has that uncanny quality that Guided by Voices had in that run in the Bee Thousand to Under the Bushes era.

last
35. Last Leaves – Other Towns Than Ours (Lost & Lonesome/Matinee)
Marty Donald, who was the chief songwriter in the Lucksmiths took a long break after that band called it quits. It’s great to hear him again, this time doing the singing as well as playing guitar. He’s got most of his former band along with him as well. Last Leaves of course will remind you of the Lucksmiths, but this band is something different in that they look more to classic rock than indiepop or at least infuse their pop with some sharper edges and more serious topics. They call it older and wiser.

faith
36. Faith Healer – Try ;-) (Mint)
Jessica Jalbert was a member of the Edmonton punks Tee-Tahs .That is in the past and this is her second album as Faith Healer. Try ;-) lives on the same planet of the Brewis brother’s Field Music. Combine Jallbert’s croon and her ability to write a good pop hook you have something special.


37. Kelley Stoltz – Que Aura (Castle Face)
Kelley Stoltz may have peaked commercially on his Sub Pop debut Below the Branches when his song Birdies Singing was being used in commercials. I haven’t heard him in any commercials since, but honestly the guy keeps releasing great albums. Solid through and through and Que Aura is no different from the previous four in that regard.

corridor
38. Corridor – Supermercado (Requiem Pour Un Twister)
Supermercado is Spanish for grocery store. Corridor is French for angular pop. Supermercado is the second album from Montreal’s Corridor and it is a brilliant melange of pop and sharp jabs and lots of hooks.

rays
39. Rays – S/T (Trouble In Mind)
Rays do great Modern Lovers style rock. The songs feel like they could fall apart at any moment, but they end up making it through each one without the doors flying off the speeding dilapidated vehicle.

trementina
40. Trementina – 810 (Burger)
On their second album, Chile’s Trementina forego the obvious shoegaze effects and travel down a far more interesting path of warped dream pop that only the Swirlies have dared to go before.

2017 Singles of the Year 20 – 1

Welcome back to part two of the year end singles countdown, which was delayed slightly by a bought of holiday festivities. Now that that’s taken care of, here are my top 20 singles of 2017.

shifters
20. The Shifters – A Believer (Market Square)
Melbourne’s Shifters finally follow up their cassette from a couple years back with this slightly more melodic but no less urgent single. They still sound steeped in early Fall dashed with bits of psychedelia.

prescorpse
19. Presentable Corpse – Don’t End Up Alone (Grey Matter)
Jorge Elbrecht, who you might know from his former outfits Lansing-Dreiden and Violens, released Don’t End Up Alone as Presentable Corpse earlier this year. It’s an hallucination inducing wash of psych-pop that had me checking the credits to see he had resurrected Arther Lee.

posse
18. Posse – Kismet (Saddle Creek)
2017 was a good and a bad year for Seattle’s Posse. They released this wonderful Galaxy 500 inspired single as well as new LP. They also decided to stop being a band. Kismet’s slow burn is perfect for a ride off into the sunset.

thighmaster
17. Thigh Master – B.B.C. (12XU)
Hailing from Brisbane and featuring jangly guitars and pithy lyrics is Thigh Master. The a-side is a corker, while the b-side is a little more plodding but is maybe more intriguing for it.

wepigs
16. We. The Pigs – EP 2 (Discos De Kerlian)
This Swedish band with a name that contains a punctuation mark is big on atmospherics that some call shoegaze and others dreampop.  I’m leaning towards dreampop here, with some nods to indiepop which if you hang around this blog at all, know is a favorite combination.

swift
15. Swiftumz – Game Six (Fruits & Flowers)
I love the cover of this single. After gazing at it a while I noticed that the two players’ legs are cut off a the knee. Game Six is a sublime peach of a song that could waft into a room and hypnotize it. I don’t know what that has to do with basketball players with missing legs, but I like the mystery.

snails
14. Snails – Starting With Mine EP (Undergrowth)
This was an unofficial record store day release lathe cut seven inch single, so don’t expect to find one your local shop. But who buys single anymore anyway? Thanks to technology you can still enjoy the Ladybug Transistor meets Kevin Ayers bucolic beauty a the tap of a screen.

lovebirds
13. The Lovebirds – Filled With Hate (Empty Cellar)
The first single from The Lovebirds is an accomplished bit of Teenage Fanclub inspired pop. The four laid-back sounding songs with a great sense of melody make it hard to not listen to this single again and again.

beatniks
12. Beatnicks – Beatnicks (Neck Chop)
This Oakland group features folks from other bands that are big around here like the World, Andy Human and Life Stinks. Together they make a great snarling, clanging,  racket.

patsysrats
11. Patsy’s Rats – Is It Alright? (Wink & Spit)
This Portland Duo write great hooks that are part Cheap Trick and part Fastbacks. Is It Alright is a blast when played at full blast!

luxsig
10. The Luxembourg Signal – Laura Palmer (Shelflife)
The Luxembourg Signal’s ode to Twin Peaks has just the right amount of sad and mysterious. Laura Palmer just sort of drifts into the room and lingers. Their cover of the Close Lobsters’ Let’s Make Some Plans on the flip side is nice added insurance.

flyingstars
9. The Flying Stars Of Brooklyn NY – My God Has A Telephone (Colemine)
Aaron Frazer’s angelic croon will make you stop in your tracks. My God Has a Telephone with its gospel groove will do the same. The combination is as you might have guessed, top flight stuff.

gseagul
greeseagull

8. Green Seagull – Scarlet & (I Used To Dream In) Black and White (Mega Dodo)
Green Seagull see to it that the psychedelic 60’s never went a way. Both of their singles sound like stone cold classics. I Used To Dream In Black and White has a Left Banke & Mamas and Papas melancholy to it while Scarlet and They Just Don’t Know reminds me of Crosby Stills & Nash and Kaleidoscope.

micktrouble
7. Mick Trouble – It’s the Mick Trouble EP (Emotional Response)
This Television Personalities inspired single wants you to believe it was unearthed from dusty closet in England, carefully preserved since 1981.  In actuality, it’s Jed Smith of New York City’s My Teenage Stride.  Even after wiping away its veneer it still sounds undeniably grand.

flasher
6. Flasher – Winnie (Sister Polygon)
Rooted in Washington, D.C.’s punk scene, Flasher remind me a little of Manifesto who also came from that same punk scene, yet veered more towards slicker pop. This single follows up their EP from last year and sees the trio on the upward trajectory.

arctic
5. The Arctic Flow – January Stars (Kingfisher Bluez)
The two songs on this single are culled from an EP that came out in 2014, so technically this a reissue of sorts. Whatever. The wonderful St. Christopher style pop is timeless, at least to a Sarah Records loving fellow.

uvtv
4. UVTV – Go Away EP (Emotional Response)
Florida’s UV-TV continued their winning ways with this single that is clearly influenced by the Primitives. Oh, and wouldn’t you know there’s a cover of Really Stupid here.

charlotte
3. Charlotte Adigery – Charlotte Adigery (Deewee)
Produced by Soulwax brothers, this four song EP is slithery and seductive. Icy beats form the backdrop for Adigery’s English and French vocals and provide a widescreen feel that stretches from sci-fi to farmhouse.

patience
2. Patience – White of an Eye (Night School)
The third single from Roxanne Clifford’s Patience sees her moving further into New Order territory in her post Veronica Falls songwriting. If John Hughes were still making high school dramas this song would surely be playing as the protagonists walked into the gymnasium for prom.

display homes
1. Display Homes – Climate Change (Tough Love)
Band releases debut single, takes world by storm, gets single of the year honors. The first one is true and the third one is kinda true depending on your perspective and number two is true if you insert the word my before world. Australia’s Display Homes are half a world away from Athens, Georgia, but they can certainly be considered inheritors of Pylon’s post punk angular dance grooves. Climate Change has a brilliant riff juxtaposed with falsetto vocals that descend to a growl on the chorus. Bonus points for taking on weighty topics like misogyny and climate change and still make you want to dance as the boat goes down.

2017 Singles of the Year 40-21

Hello, and welcome to this year’s singles countdown. You will likely notice that there are few non-7-inch singles in the list this year – 12″ EP’s and Cassettes. This is either due to fewer 7-inch singles getting made or a drop off in my vigilance. I don’t want to speculate on my anecdotal evidence. Broadening the scope of format lets me add some things that normally would be ignored in my year end list making. Hope you find something you love.

omni
40. Omni – Fever Bass (Chunklet)
There must be Joseph K records in Atlanta record stores, or these kids have an internet connection. These two slices of sharp pointed pop will provide a great soundtrack for your version of the herky jerky.

realno
39. Real Numbers – Frank Infatuation (Market Square)
Minneapolis’s Real Numbers follow up last year’s LP on Slumberland with this rerecorded version of Frank Infatuation and a brand new b-side and show us again why we loved their brand of jangly Television Personalities meets Art Museums pop in the first place.

marbled
38. Marbled Eye – EP II (Melters/Digital Regress)
Marbled Eye’s austere post punk features clanging guitars and disaffected vocals. Very good if you like a little bit of A-Frames with some Total Control.

lastleaves
37. Last Leaves – Hinterland (Matinee/Lost & Lonesome)
Marty Donald and most of his former band the Lucksmiths evoke a sense of place starting in the Hinerland and then heading to the beaches of South Australia.

jayvons
36. The Jay Vons – Want You Tomorrow (Wick)
An excellent R&B soul record that could mistaken for a lost classic. Not surprising considering Wick is a spin off label from Daptone.

creation
35. The Creation Factory – Let Me Go (Market Square)
Not on Creation or Factory records, but maybe sounding a little like the Creation. This Los Angeles band slips in from their city’s underbelly with this blast of 60’s infused swirl.

barringtone
34. Barringtone – Dream Boys (Onomatopia)
Former Clor frontman Barry Dobin surfaces every once in a while with a new single. Dream Boys is a slice of avant pop that feels like it’s five songs in one. I like all five.

fireworks
33. Fireworks – Dream About You (Shelflife)
Even with a new singer (Emma Hall is out and Beth Arzy of Trembling Blue Stars & Luxembourg Signal in) the Fireworks still dial up just the right of jangly, fuzzy-buzzy pop.

seize
32. Seize the Chair – Knew You’d Never Been There (Too Pure)
Seize the Chair have a similar aesthetic to Menace Beach, Traams and Hookworms. Lots of guitars, nods to motorik beats and 90’s indie rock.

luxury
31. Luxury Death – Glue EP (PNKSLM)
Glue compiles this Manchester duo’s previous internet singles onto a 10″. Great buzzy guitars and keyboard fueled songs that use the space in between to create drama the way the Pixies used to do.

air-sea
30. Air Sea Dolphin / Honey Radar – Split Single (Chunklet)
I can’t believe this is the only recorded output of Air Sea Dolphin. Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo and James Huggins of Elf Power team up for the sugar crush elephant 6 throwback Exploding that sounds like it could have been on Fun Trick Noisemaker. Honey Radar handle the flip side and more than capable with Spillman Was a Motorhead.

bobby&gene
29. Bob & Gene – It’s Not What You Know (It’s Who You Know) (Daptone)
Bob & Gene first recorded it in 1971. New Fast Automatic Daffodils did it in 1992 (kidding) and then the Inversions re-recorded in 2017 keeping the vocal track. Old, new, whatever. Great!

deathrays
28. Death Rays – The Shape of the Night (Market Square)
Based in Germany and the UK which I suppose used to be the EU, this duo do Suicide influenced drone very nicely.

teleman
27. Teleman – Funf EP (Moshi Moshi)
Teleman have an icy feel that is somewhere between Blur, Bowie and La Düsseldorf. This EP is just the right dosage.

neutrals
26. Neutrals – Promotional Cassette #2 (Self-released)
As the title says, this was released as a cassette. When I first heard Motorcycle Cop I was reminded of the Pastels which given that the singer of this Oakland band is from Glasgow validates my intuition in some random sense.

cover
25. Terry – 8 Girls (Upset the Rhythm)
Terry’s 8 Girls came out down under last year, but was hard to get. Upset the Rhythm saw fit to release it this year. Eight Girls is a dissonant ode to female politicians, while the flip Tippy Toppy Terry is as good a theme song as I could think of for the group.

fieldroute
24. Field Route – Dreaming EP (Box Bedroom Rebels)
Field Route’s single came out way back in January but I still remember it. Parts Ultra Vivid Scene and early Creation records this Manchester band has got it down.

parsnip
23. Parsnip – Health (Anti Fade)
This Australian girl group features members of Chook Race and the Heirophants. This four song single has a Clean vibe given their use of keyboards and laid back feel.

vacantsmile
22. The Vacant Smiles – Messin’ Around (Self-released)
This is a blast of big guitars in the down under scruffy, surf style similar to what the Hoodoo Gurus used to peel off with ease. It appears that a song this good does not warrant getting your record released since the band did it themselves and I for one am grateful.

rbocf
21. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – The French Press (Sub Pop)

This Melbourne quintet could be described as jangly, but they include elements of classic rock to come up with something more interesting than your run of the mill indie jangle pop band. If you’ve heard the Close Lobster’s cover of Neil Young Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black) then you have and idea of where Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are coming from.

November Roundup

Item number one in the November roundup  is a complaint about how bands and labels sell their records on bandcamp. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love bandcamp. Who wouldn’t? You buy the record and you immediately get to download it. Hell, you can even listen to the entire thing before you buy it. The problem arises in the business model when you decide you actually want to buy the vinyl version of a record. More often than not it’s a pre-order with a release date that’s off in the not too distant future, but you figure it’s ok, because you get the immediate download, so waiting for the actual record to arrive in a few weeks is no sweat. Fast forward six weeks and you’re brushing your teeth in the morning and the record comes up on shuffle and you suddenly realize you never actually got the record you ordered. You give the band the benefit of the doubt and decide to wait another week. Still nothing. You contact them through their bandcamp page asking them if the record was ever sent. Usually you get a response saying the record was delayed or there was some problem with coordinating the vinyl with the sleeves or some other logistical problem. Fine, you say. You’re an understanding kind of person. At least you know that your order wasn’t forgotten or lost in the mail.

My complaint is that why didn’t the band email the good people that bought their record and are anxiously waiting to see it in their mailbox to let them know that there was delay? Especially since there’s an explicit date your bandcamp page that said the record would be sent at a specific date. How hard is it to send a mass email to the 50, 100 or 500 people that bought the record letting them know there’s been a delay? Is the band or label embarrassed? Does the band or label not know how to use BCC when sending emails? the band/lable set up a bandcamp page, uploaded the album and made a record so they must be somewhat literate with communication and the internet. Send an email to the fine folks who are giving you money to hear your music. It’s not hard.  People will like your band if you write great songs, but they’ll love you even more for your great customer service!

Now, on with the November round up.

Patsy’s Rats are a Portland band. Their Is It Alright single is pure pop to the jugular. Reminds me of Let’s Active with the boy-girl choruses and jangly nature. If you don’t like singles, this is also on the compilation of singles the band just released on Bachelor records.

Faux-Discx-SAD-1100
November saw the end of UK label Faux Discx. A sad thing. The label was run by Dan Reeves. His two bands, Soft Walls and Cold Pumas I assume are still going.  Faux Discx put out some great records.  Reeves had great taste, and records like Omi Palone, Vison Fortune, Cold Pumas and Rips regularly appeared on this blog and many others with discerning taste. The label is having a huge sale, so if you’ve been eying something now’s the time to pull the trigger.

Sad news from Seattle as the city slowly disintegrates into a shell of its former being, Posse decided add to the ash pile and call it quits.  The trio gifted to the world their final album Horse Blanket and leave the city to contemplate what life will be like when all that’s left for bands in the city are high school jazz combos. You can get a free download of the Horse Blanket from their Bandcamp, and be sure to head over to their web site to grab the accompanying comic book.

Lars Finberg got out of Seattle a long time ago. Escaped down to LA and then back to his hometown of Bakersfield. His first solo album could easily have been released under the moniker of his band the Intelligence. Since it really always was him. Now, I guess he’s hanging out with Ty Segall and entertaining fantasies of being Dean Martin. Instead of serenading PBR guzzling kids down at local hole int he wall, he’s moved up to the seedy red pleather booths of the forlorn diner at the edge of town near the freeway exit. If you are in or around Seattle, he plays the Highline on Capitol Hill this Friday, December 8th.

In keeping with the downer mood of this month’s round up. The Too Pure singles club has decided to call it a day. Not surprising, since the 7-inch single seems to be dying a slow agonizing death. I subscribed to it a couple years, but when they began to allow you to order individual singles I let my subscription lapse. This year’s batch has some gems worth hearing including Family Scraps, Bruising and Seize the Chair.

You should know about this album by Pamplona’s Melenas. Snooping the Bandcamp blog posted about them a few days ago and their excellent debut album has been on repeat for days since. Jangly goodness that answers the question, what if Look Blue Go Purple had been Spanish.

I find myself getting more excited about bands from Portland than those from Seattle these days. Probably because there are more of them to be excited about. Mo Tropper apparently is both a person and a band. His/Their new album combines psychedelia and power pop in a similar way that jellyfish did. I am also reminded of the Return of the Frog Queen by Jeremy Enigk, Cardinal, Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground and the Beach Boys. This album is in technicolor.

Just last month I was reminiscing about speeding motorcycles and the Pastels because of the Neutrals’ song Motorcycle Cop. Now I’m reminiscing about motorcycle cops and the Neutrals because of Flat Worms’s song Motorbike. If you haven’t figured it out yet, things don’t change very much around here. Flat Worms’ debut which rocks out like old Wire and A-Frames records is out on Castle Face,  and features members of Thee Oh Sees, Dream Boys and the Babies.

It wouldn’t be a post if we didn’t include something about an Australian band. Vacant Smiles’ new single brings on heavy Hoodoo Gurus like vibrations. Anyone remember classics like Bittersweet, I Was a Kamikaze Pilot and Good Times? Messin’ Around fits nicely in that breadbasket of surfy goodness.

October Round Up

October was a long month, but to the best of my ability I’ve recollected what happened in the last 31 days. Since this blog has been neglected for many more than the last 31 days, a few things may have slipped in that took place 61, 91, or even 121 days ago.

Display Homes
This single is a great example of a Pylon influenced groove combined with current climate change dilemma that the world is now in. Who says you can’t dance to the apocalypse?

Savak
Album number two from this New York band is no let down. The record is full of
urgent, politically astute, post-punk songs. My favorite is buried near the end. Keys to the City is an hallucination inducing slice of Byrdsian psychedelic haze.

RVG
This Australian band who likely count the Triffids and U2 and maybe even the Go-Betweens as influences, self-released their debut album earlier this year and it instantly sold out of the first vinyl pressing. The excitement has not died down, and it’s been repressed. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Neutrals
When I first heard Motorcycle Cop from this Bay Area band I thought it might have been a direct decedent of the Pastel’s Speeding Motorcycle. On second thought, it might just be an ode to Larry Baker and Frank Poncherello. Whatever it is, it’s brilliant!

Last Leaves
The Lucksmiths broke up some years back and chief songwriter Marty Donald went into semi-retirement. I’m glad it wasn’t permanent, and now he’s got the boys back together minus drummer and lead singer Tali White. Mr. Donald can still turn a phrase and his voice reminds me a little of Max Eider of the Jazz Butcher. The only song I remember Marty singing in the Lucksmiths was their cover of the Magnetic Fields Deep Sea Diving Suit. Maybe they could do a cover of Partytime or D.R.I.N.K.

Holiday Ghosts
Maybe I just have the Pastels on the brain (or the Clean, Coconut Coolouts or Modern Lovers for that matter), but Falmouth, England’s Holiday Ghosts have a similar ramshackle approach to pop music as that Scottish institution. Their debut album is lots of fun, with songs that make you want to wiggle your extremities.

A Certain Smile

Portland’s A Certain Smile played in Seattle last weekend opening for Zebra Hunt and Math & Physics Club. I won’t go into how Portland is beating Seattle right now in great new bands to get excited about, but I will say that this band’s debut is an understated janglepop beauty!

Deadbeat Beat
Detroit, Michigan band Deadbeat Beat released When I Talk To You on cassette way back in 2011. Six years later it get’s a vinyl treatment. Make no mistake this record is an early 10’s surfy-garage rock classic that is has elements of Buddy Holly, Beach Boys, and Agent Orange.

Protomartyr

Another Detroit band, this one with a new record on a new label. Formerly signed to Seattle’s Hardly Art, these Motor city post punks moved on to Domino for album number four and it’s nearly as good as their high point (in my opinion) Under Color of Official Right. Live, they’re like going 10 rounds in a heavy weight fight. They’re set a Chop Suey here in Seattle was an Olympia beer fueled pummeling. I left feeling battered and bruised, and woke up swollen and sore the next morning. It was great.

Landlines
Portland’s Landlines remind me of Sloan around their Twice Removed and One Chord to Another era. Their songs are catchy, classic sounding pop. This is their second album and it would seem that their well of great songs is very deep.

The World
This Bay Area band has a white hot sound that will get you on the floor skanking. Great saxophone bits juxtaposed with angular guitar bits. I feel like the World is what the Specials would have evolved into if they would have gotten King Tubby to produce a third album. Anxiously awaiting on the dub version of this record!

Dead Leaf Echo
The cover of New York shoegaze outfit Dead Leaf Echo new album looks like it came out on 4AD in the 80’s, and sounds like it was made in the shoegaze heyday of 90’s. Funny because Guy Fixen (Moose, My Bloody Valentine) helped record it and the cover was designed by 4AD alumna Timothy O’Donnell.

Slowdive

The last time I saw Slowdive play was at CMJ in 1991. I have vague recollections of that show where they were on a bill with Blur and Levitation. Last week in Seattle their show at the Neptune Theatre was mesmerizing and imprinted (hopefully) long-term memories in my cerebral cortex. The reformed band’s new LP is top notch, but it was Catch the Breeze, Avalyn and their cover of Syd Barrett’s Golden Hair that were massive sounding and downright otherworldly!