Part 2 of 4: Last year in my year end round up of my favorite singles I wrote how the 7 inch single seemed to be coming back into favor. This year it went over the top. There seemed to be labels popping out of the woodwork who’s main mission was to gather up the best songs and put them out on little pieces of vinyl. To reflect the bumper crop of singles I’ve expanded the year end singles count down to 40. Like Casey Kasem use to do, we’re gonna count them down. I don’t think we’ll be doing any long distance dedications, but keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Here are numbers 21 through 30.
Seeing Camera Obscura live is kind of a yawn, but get them on your record player and it’s a totally different story. This single was a Record Store day exclusive or some such thing. French Navy maybe isn’t as perfect as perfect as Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken, but it’s pretty damn close. The Lush string arrangements are courtesy of the adept ear of Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn & John, making you think that he’s been listening to a little Burt Bacharach.
mp3: French Navy
The Ganglians released a hell of a lotta stuff this year but this was by far the most immediate and catchy. Blood on the Sand makes you think that these guys might not really smoke too much pot. It has a manic feel that reminds me of the best Jefferson Airplane songs (okay, they probably still smoke a lot of weed), leaving everything else they’ve released so far in the dust.
mp3: Blood On the Sand
Ex-Vivian Girl and Ex-Crystal Stilt, Frankie Rose has finally run out of bands to leave. The writer of my two favorite Vivian Girls songs has struck out her own and these are the first fruits. The A-side definitely has a Crystal Stilts feel to it, probably because JB from the Stilts plays on it, while the B-side is for my four dollars, the more interesting song of the two. An organ only ballad that goes all Twin Peaks on you.
mp3: Hollow Life
This single sees the Nodzzz getting all art school geeky on us. Wait you say, they were already kind of geeky. Yeah, but now they’re hanging out with the art school crowd. Don’t worry, the songs are still microscopic in length, but catchy in a pocket protector, shirt buttoned to the top button kind of way. A shambolic good time, for those of you who like to wear your trousers well above your hips.
mp3: True To Life
Since they’re from Norway, we’ll give them a pass on the name. I can’t imagine what I’d call my band if I had to give a name in Norwegian. Everyone knows that the Scandinavians have a penchant for English style indie and Sally Suicide make a great racket just as if they were the next House of Love.
mp3: Black Pop
Remember the 90’s when bands with with 20 effects pedals were a dime a dozen? I do and this brings me back to those days. Dream About Me is not this Pains of Being Pure at Heart offshoot’s first release, but it may be their best yet. The Depreciation Guild answer the question, if there ever was one, what if Blueboy’s Keith Girdler had fronted a shoegaze band.
mp3: Dream About Me
Jeffry Novak is probably better known for fronting the garage/power pop trio Cheap Time. His solo songs are bit more eccentric and judging from his solo songs, Novak is a fan of Kevin Ayers. His faux Ray Davies accent puts some people off, but I’m not one of those people and Home Sweet Home will have you either reaching to put the needle back at the start or for your Kinks or Ayers records. Whichever, it’s a win.
mp3: Home Sweet Home
Not sure why they’re singing about a figure skating couple, but Help Stamp Out Loneliness make it sound so good you soon forget it’s about a figure skating. The B-side, Record Shop covers more familiar lyrical territory, at least for me. Torville & Dean kind of reminds me of a more lush Long Blondes. Trainspotters like myself will note that this was produced by four very capable hands Yves Altana of the Bardots and Martin Coogan of Mock Turtles fame.
mp3:Torvill & Dean
Of all the bands this year that were tripping on girl groups and Phil Spector, the Stole Hearts sounded the most authentic. The record is simple and not overdone with distortion and reverb. Heart Collector will make you feel like your listening to AM radio while parked at a drive in burger joint waiting for the girl on skates to come and take your order.
mp3: Heart Collector
Both of these songs showed up on the Smith Western’s album on HoZac, but sometimes small doses are better. I know everyone’s ga-ga for the A-side, but the B-side is where it’s at for me. Girl In Love with its T-Rex/Gary Glitter is the song that made me like these teenage punks. It’s got a sexy, slow sidewinder kind of vibe that provides a bit of funk that seems to escape most of their other stuff.
mp3: Girl In Love