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!

Catching Up With 2017 or What’s Happened So Far

Looking at these 28 albums and then looking at my meager postings for this year I’ve come to the realization that if I could just bring myself to post 1.07 times per week I could have dispensed with doing this mid-year round up. The one thing I have going for my lack of weekly motivation is that at least I have a little bit of perspective. At least that’s what I tell myself. And on the bright side of things, if I would have generated 1.07 posts per week then this post probably wouldn’t exist because that would have put me up around 1.11 post per week, which is virtually unattainable. That would be like, hall of fame blogging.

b boys
B Boys – Dada
I could be easily convinced that Brooklyn band B Boys are really Parquet Courts in disguise. I’m gullible, but I’m also a sucker for this kind of Devo meets Wire meets Tubway Army stuff and Dada rocks it like it’s 1979.

beach

Beach Fossils – Somersalt
I actually wasn’t expecting to like the third Beach Fossils album after the lull of their second one, but they sound reinvigorated on their new label for their third album. The album features a guest appearances from Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, rapper Cities Aviv, and gauzy pop influenced by High Llamas, the Bee Gees and Burt Bacharach.

blacksprings
Black Springs – When We Were Great
I keep expecting the Australian well of goodness to dry up any day now, but this year has featured so many quality releases from down under that the well is deeper than most. This Sydney band makes mellow jangly goodness that has much in common with Teenage Fanclub, the Earthmen and Dick Diver. Back in the 90’s something of like this would likely have come out on Summershine records.

bonniedoon
Bonnie Doon – Dooner Nooner
These Canadian female punk rockers don’t seem to adhere to any conventions and that is a good thing. You could describe Dooner Nooner as a punk record, but it’s a scattershot of so many influences that it may not adhere to your notion of punk rock. It’s a record with a day-glow, Rocky Horror Picture vibe steeped in surf-horror-goth greatness.

cableties

Cable Ties – Cable Ties
More Australians infiltrating the mid year run-down of notable records. Cable Ties are three piece Melbourne band who deliver a blistering punk vibes on their debut album and answer the question of what an Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Sleater Kinney team-up would sound like.

clap
Clap! Clap! – A Thousand Skies
Fresh off of last year’s collaboration with Paul Simon, Italian maestro Cristiano Crisci unleashes his second album as Clap! Clap!. Only two of the 15 tracks top 3 minutes, so it’s a delightful collage of West African rhythms and Mediterranean sounds both sampled and live for the short attention spanned.

dag

Dag – Benefits of Solitude
When an Australian band makes an album of songs that are slightly melancholy, a little bit jangly, and tinged with some violin and acoustic guitar it’s hard not to compare them to the Go-Betweens. So I won’t. Ha!

fazerdaze
Fazerdaze – Morningside
Do artists still make songs that are intended to be heard from loud speakers or do they assume their songs will be heard through a cheap pair of earbuds? I don’t know if that thought ever crossed New Zealand’s Amelia Murray, but her bedroom pop from half a world away buzzes your brain in both scenarios. Songs like Misread and Lucky Girl would have been staples on 90’s alternative radio, but also sound great on your home made playlist.

feature

Feature – Banishing Ritual
If Wire had been three girls instead of four boys I imagine they would have called themselves Feature. Featuring members of Slow Coaches and Sauna Youth this band are lightening hot and exude loads of attitude on the ten songs on their debut. Too bad they’ve apparently already broken up.

glaciers
Glaciers – Living Right
Melbourne’s Glaciers excel at making shimmering janlgy pop. Their debut is full understated, autumnal songs that evoke memories of the Railway Children and early Church.

groupd

Group Doueh & Cheveu – Dakhla – Sahara – Session
An unlikely combination of French weirdo’s Cheveu and the Western Saraha’s ultimate wedding band Group Doueh makes for one of the most compelling and interesting albums of the year so far. It’s quite a juxtaposition and provides a full spectrum of gothic progginess to swirling vocal chants to guitar noise freakouts.

jaysom
Jay Som – Everybody Works
Jay Som is really Melina Duterte. She is a mastermind of bedroom pop and is a kindered spirit of Amelia Murray’s Fazerdaze. Duterte, likes chunky guitar riffs and floating vocals. It’s an tried and true combination that in the right hands really pays off, like on Everybody Works.

hater

Hater – You Tried
On their debut album, Sweden’s Hater hit the sweet spot of chiming guitars and emotive vocals. I use to think that the Swedes had a lock on this sort of thing with the likes of the Wannadies, Ida Maria and Fine Arts Showcase, but it’s been a while since I’ve heard something this good from above the 55 parallel.

lake
Lake – Forever or Never
Lake are masters at creating lush sounding songs that sound like they are from another world, one where the sun always shines, folks say hello when they pass you on the street and everyone owns at least one Free Design album. This is their eighth and most accomplished album yet.

manuela

Manuela – Manuela
Manuela Gernedel and former Franz Ferdinand guitarist Nick McCarthy are a couple and a band. Their first album is a low key affair that has elements of 80’s synth bands and 70’s prog rock. A weird combination, but that’s sort of the point.

megabog
Mega Bog – Happy Together
Formerly based in Seattle, Erin Birgy has taken her Mega Bog to LA for record number two. It’s a cornucopia of goodness. Each time I listen to it I heard something new. Hector Zazou, Kate Bush, Cate Le Bon and Kevin Ayers all get mixed in to the broth.

novella

Novella – Change of State
I love a band that improves on their debut because so often it is the opposite. Recorded by James Hoare in his studio, Change of State takes its cues from bands like Moonshake, Broadcast and Unrest yet make a wonderful hypnotic sound that is uniquely their own.

Priests
Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
Washington, DC’s Priests have made a record that has two personalities. Side one is the angry, bluesy punk persona that will get you riled up. Side two veers into the post punk lane with more melodic songs to sooth the post meltdown blues. For those of us listening on electronic devices, the band provide an interlude to separate the two sides of themselves.

properorn

Proper Ornaments – Foxhole
Former Veronica Falls guy James Hoare is a busy guy. Between Proper Ornaments, Ultimate Painting and various and a sundry recording efforts, I doubt we’ll see a Veronica Falls reunion anytime soon. This record has a downbeat vibe, heavily influenced by Velvet Underground and the Chills. This record is like your favorite sweater, well worn, but comfortable.

rays
Rays – Rays
It seems that about five or so years ago half the bands I liked were from the San Francisco bay area. Now a band from the bay area is a rarity. Rays make up for the population collapse with a ramshackle beauty that brings to mind Comet Gain.

rose

Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular
It took seven years for this former Pippett follow up her debut album. The time off allowed her to refine the pop hooks of this batch of songs. It’s a meld of dance music but has enough guitars and a nod or two to Klaus Dinger’s motorik beat. A stellar second album and worth the wait.

sacredpaws
Sacred Paws – Strike a Match
Glaswegian duo make hyper, tightly wound, horn-tinged pop with more energy than ten cups of coffee. You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that they are related to bands like Shopping, Trash Kit and Golden Grrrls and if you are a fan of any of those bands, Sacred Paws are likely already in your record collection.

sleaford

Sleaford Mods – English Tapas
You might think that Sleaford Mods would have hit the bottom of the barrel by now with their rapid fire social commentary over sparse beats, but of course you’d be wrong. Their first LP for Rough Trade may be the dynamic duo’s best yet.

slowdive
Slowdive – Slowdive
As a rule, reunion albums are a bust. There’s always an exception to a rule, and of course Slowdive, smart-asses that they are make that point. Shoegaze of course, never went out of style and 20 years after breaking up they return with a record not quite as good as Souvlaki, but better than Just for a Day.

summer fiction

Summer Fiction – Himalaya
Sometimes I feel like I’m still catching up with last year, or the year before for that matter. This album originally came out in 2015, but thanks to Pretty Olivia’s vinyl reissue this beautiful album came to my attention. Himalaya is full of exquisite, ornate pop influenced by Roy Orbison, the Beach Boys, the Left Banke and Jellyfish. Worthy of more attention in any year.

UVTV
Trementina – 810
On their sophomore album, Chilean shoegazers Trementina move more into a dreampop sound but are no less successful. On side two, A Place Up In the Sky hits the heights of the Swirlies’ Pancake Cleaner, which is no small feat.

UVTV

UVTV – Glass
This Florida band has unleashed a ripping record for their debut. Side one has the fire of the Shop Assistants and the Primitives, while side two goes for more of a Spacemen 3 vibe. Both are equally great.

UVTV
Zebra Hunt – In Phases
I have a weakness for bands who carry a torch for the Go-Betweens, the Clean and the Feelies. Seattle band Zebra Hunt continue their torch carrying on their sophomore album which features better production and the same high quality song writing. Most folks look to Australia these days for their jangly rock fix, but I don’t need travel any further than Ballard to get my fill.

Zebra Hunt Phasing Into the Sunset

Zebra Hunt, Unlikely Friends & Seacats at the Sunset Tavern, Seattle | 2 June 2017

Over the last five years it seems like many of my favorite Seattle bands have either broken up or left town. A few new ones have come up to replace them, but it seems like we’re in a slight lean period compared to the previous bounties we’ve experienced. Friday night at the Sunset in Ballard three Seattle bands provided some much needed rain on the parched fields of the Seattle music scene. Zebra Hunt, keepers of the Seattle pop flame, were celebrating their second album seeing the light of day courtesy of Spanish record label Tenorio Cotobade.

If you haven’t heard, Zebra Hunt are Seattle’s answer to the classic Flying Nun jangle of the 80’s and the current day jangling explosion of bands from Australia. If you’re old and dig the Clean and the Chills or young and love the Twerps and Chook Race, then Zebra Hunt will fit nicely into your wheelhouse. Having employed Jack Endino to record it, their sophomore effort improves on sound quality and sees no let up in song quality.

Focusing mostly on the new record the band played a great set for the home crowd and provided after show cupcakes decorated with their album cover. Since the last record Zebra Hunt have added a fourth member to the band to help flesh out their sound. The additional guitar and keyboard combined with their already stellar rhythm section increases the impact of the Zebra Hunt experience.

Singer and songwriter Robert Mercer writes about ordinary life but supplies an element of mystery to to his songs by being economical with the details. He is of the Raymond Carver school of writing. You get stories of house hunting, evening walks, listening to records in the kitchen and Foxhill Drive in 2005 with clues to what happened but no answers. I Wont’ Blame You house hunting backdrop sounds partly inspired by Courtney Barnett’s Depreston which was inspired by Paul Kelly’s To Her Door, which was inspired by Carver’s short stories. The lineage is impeccable.  With the release of In Phases, the band now have a larger trove of treasures to pull from for their live shows with a virtual guarantee never to disappoint.

Unlikely Friends were coerced out of their sabbatical to provide support. A BOAT and Math and Physics Club team-up, the group features the um, unlikely combination of both band’s singers, except on this night D. Crane had lost his voice . Probably due to the previous weekend’s BOAT reunion show or some rogue virus, the voiceless Crane  replaced his voice with a message he wrote on a series of notebook pages that littered the stage. The band was in triage mode with Charles Bert of MAPC taking over most of the vocals but letting the drummer Chris have some leads as well. They persevered and kept their sense of humor about them. Look for a second album and hopefully more shows from these underdogs when they’re restored to full power sometime in the not too distant future.

Opening the night were Seacats. Formerly of Kelso-Longview, but now apparently based in Seattle. The two singles I have of theirs give the impression that their a silly, happy-go-lucky sort of band, but as I walked in it was in the middle of their heavy stuff. I think it was their nuclear bomb song. Then they switched singers and pulled off a sublime psych-pop number and I was thoroughly confused. I wasn’t sure what to make of it all, but at least it was interesting!