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 – 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 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.
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.
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.
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! – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.
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.
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 – 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 – 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 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.
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 – 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 – 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.
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
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 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.
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 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
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 – 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.
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 – 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.
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.