The EP is Back!

So far this year, the best, or at least the most interesting stuff seems to be coming out in the extended play format, also known as the EP. Perhaps this is the best length for a release in 2019? A single is so fleeting, and who has time to sit through a 10 song LP?  The three to six song EP just might be the future. The EP takes many forms: the download, a cassette, a CD and even sometimes vinyl.  There’s something on each of those formats in this roundup of  2019’s EP highlights. Endeavoring to be format agnostic blog, I revel in the diversity of formats and make no claims of the superiority of one over another. Just make sure you have a computer :-/
displayhomes
Sydney’s Display Homes have been teasing a new EP for a month or two now. E.T.A. sees its release date keep getting pushed out. It was February, now it’s March 22. The band have made two songs from the four song available on their bandcamp. This cassette release follows up 2017 hit single Climate Change and has some high expectations to live up to, at least for me. Even if it’s 50% as good, it’ll be more than good enough.

seeds
Most bands giving away their music on the internet do it because no one will buy it. Seeds of Doubt are clearly doing it wrong. I would pay for this sort of thing and I bet a few others would too. the Band is moniker in which Chris Hopkins records under. He’s sort of like a modern day Cleaners from Venus in that he seems to just want to get his music out there. No complaints here as this four song EP is great and features Lerryn Whitfield as guest lead vocal on one song Big Boss which may be the high point of this EP of many highs.

Beauty Parlor are from Fort Worth, Texas and sound like they could have been on  February’s Mojo magazine cd which featured the likes of Prefab Sprout, Marine Girls, Orange Juice, Felt, and Microdisney. Fall In Love is a four song EP that is steeped in 80’s indiepop magic minus the horrible reverb heavy drums that were so prevalent.

corduroy
The first thing that Baltimore’s Corduroy bring to mind is the way the singer sings slightly off key in an endearing way similar to some of those classic Pastels records. Comparing them a little to Tullycraft wouldn’t be unheard of. They also aren’t afraid to employ a little REM jangle to this six song EP that comes in download and cassette. A quick skip across the country over to Seattle and the Regrets and their energetic Endless Desire EP. The singer has powerful delivery that sounds a little like D. Crane of Boat and the playing is tight in a kind of fey-powerpop tilt, which in my opinion is a genre that needs to be created if it hasn’t been already. Sensitive powerpop for socially awkward types who like to rock. there’s a ton of us out there and we could really get behind a band like this.


Charlotte-Adigéry

You may remember Charlotte Adigéry‘s EP from a couple years ago. She’s back with another one called Zandoli. Its five songs see the Belgian-Caribbean singer giving us a better idea of her individuality. It’s less synthetic and icy sounding and more organically funky sounding as if she’s melting a glacier right into the Orinoco. I hope and LP is in the future after this pair of promising EP’s

coolgreenhouse2
Over in England, there’s a great label, Market Square Records that released the first single from the Cool Greenhouse. I love the Quietus review where they ask, “How much irony and repetition can we take? Really quite a lot, when it’s as good as this”. Part Yummy Fur, a good dose of Mark E Smith and enough repetition to send you into and endless loop of endless loops.

aberdeen
It’s curious how the internet treats geography sometimes. The Vapour Trails, purveyors of 60’s inspired jangle rock seem to be from Aberdeen. Aberdeen, where? Washington, Kurt Cobain’s hometown? I doubt it and am assuming it’s Scotland, but a cursory look on the old internet and your guess is as good as mine. Regardless of a sense of place, there is a strong sense of the Byrds and the Church and a healthy dose of good songs. Ok, it’s an EP so it’s only three songs, but there’s not a clunker in the bunch.

Notable Albums of 2018

Beating my Chinese New Year deadline by nearly two months, here is my list of favorite records of the past 12 months. Was it this year that the music blog officially died? It seems like more are going dark, and fewer are starting up. I shall endeavor to do better this year. This year also saw the really bad idea of labels not including downloads with copies of vinyl records. If you are one of those labels, please reconsider. I love the download card! My record player does not travel well and I hate buying stuff twice.

limecrush
1. Lime Crush – Sub Divide (Fettkakao)
Finally, an LP to follow up this Austrian band’s ace 2015 7”. Sharp, punky numbers full of spite, humor and a little sax. All three songs from that single smartly resurface here and a surprise vocal from Calvin Johnson at the end ties the it all together.

sotbh
2. Spirit of the Beehive – Hypnic Jerks (Tiny Engines)
Hypnic Jerks (I love that title) is the third LP from this Philly band. It has elements of Deerhunter, Lilys, Brainiac, Swirlies and many other unsung, underground darlings in my record collection.

umb
3. Dumb – Seeing Green (Mint)
Most would file Dumb under Pavement/Parquet Courts, but I dig way these Vancouver underground 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.

shopping
4. 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.

espaces
5. Jonathan Fitoussi & Clemens Hourriere – Espaces Timbres (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.

freelove
6. Free Love – Luxury Hits (Full Ashram)
The Glasgow duo formerly known as Happy Meals smartly change their name to Free Love for their debut LP. Luxury Hits is 80’s style synthpop made with updated tech and the song Playing as Punks may be my favorite song of both 1988 and 2018.

sonsofkemet
7. 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.

shannon
8. Shannon Shaw- 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.

flasher
9. Flasher – Constant Image (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!

gwenno
10. 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.

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2018 Singles of the Year

The last few years, I have thought that there wouldn’t be enough singles to do top singles of the year list, but each year I look at the stack of singles that I’ve accumulated and realize that the 7-inch (and 10-inch) single still lives. Thank god there are still a few of us out there!

1. Wesley Bright & the Honeytones – Happiness (Colemine)
Step back and make some room for this floor filler. Soul in this sort of throwback style seems to have a core audience but little critical acclaim. That seems to matter less in this time of algorithmic recommendations. So I hope you have smart music playing device that slipped this hot little number by this Rubber City Beekeeper in between some Ottis Redding and Al Green.

2. False Tracks – Down There (Self-released)
When I saw that this Baltimore Philly band featured former Ropers Greg Pavlovcak and Mike Hammel I was interested. I was really hooked by the power chord blasts that were part glam swagger and part post punk urgency.

3. The Orielles – Bobbi’s Second World (Heavenly)
Two brand new songs not found on the debut LP also from this year. One is a cover of Peggy Gou’s It Makes You Forget and the other an original, Bobbi’s Second World. Both up the infectious energy of their LP and sparkle with Bananarama 80’s fun.

4. Mikah Wilson – Sunshine Grooves (Burger)
Sunshine Grooves is bright, shiny and sunshine drenched pop that many will associate with the Beach Boys, Zombies and Emmitt Rhodes from the late 60’s and early 70’s heyday of that style. So nice to hear it alive and well in the dark days of 2018.

5. Husbands – Karlstad EP (Box Bedroom Rebels)
The Box Bedroom Rebels label has perfected the art of fitting an album onto a seven inch record. Oklahoma City’s Husbands fill it up with tons of Weezer like power pop with a devil may care attitude straddles the tightrope of rock gods and geekdome.

6. Honey Radar – Psychic Cruise (Chunklet)
The elusive Honey Radar love to put out singles of severely limited quantity, often on lathe cut vinyl. Psychic Cruise was no different in its being limited and certainly no different from the band’s high quality output of short, psychedelic bursts of distorted, hazy pop.

7. Girl Ray – The Way We Came Back (Moshi Moshi)
Recorded after last year’s debut, The Way We Get By was written by singer Poppy Hankin when she was sixteen. The band describe it as a plump cow that needed to be milked. It does go down smoothly and leaves a nice mustache.

8. Beachtape – Fix It Up (PNKSLM)
Brighton’s Beachtape continue the long line of beach named bands not sounding like the beach. No Frankie and Annette or Beach Boys here. This is straight up 90’s inspired indie rock pop.

9. Datenight – My Car (Goodbye Boozy)
Meaty jangle from Memphis that sounds influenced by the jangly Flying Nun bands or yore. I was kind of surprised at how these guys flew under the radar given their style and the usual fervid fandom that ensues. Either it’s going out of style or my ear for it is waning. Someone should invent a music blog to bring attention to this sort greatness.

10. Art Sick – Going Down (Yr First Crush Records!)
Quality indiepop in the vein of Tiger Trap and Small Factory from this Oakland trio with a strong pedigree. The band includes former members of Burnt Palms, Lunchbox and Kids on a Crime Spree. Going Down keeps the 90’s indiepop flame alive.

11. Parsnip – Feeling Small (Anti Fade)
Parsnip’s second single ups the quirkiness factor a touch, but the band continue their endearing ways on Feeling Small. It’s a little bit of cartoon bubblegum, some oompa circa the Kinks Face to Face and then topped off with a modern day lo-fi sensibility.

12. EggS – I Fell In Love (Hellzapoppin)
The EggS of Paris, not to be confused with the Eggs of Arlington, Virginia, bust out quite convincingly on their debut single. The aloof vocal reminds me a bit of Steve Kilby of the Church and the droney pop that the band seems to excel at has a certain Clean quality to it.

13. Child’s Pose – Feral (Nervous Energy)
Sauna Youth spin-off band sound like their relationship would suggest. Wired songs, Intelligently and tightly wound so that they pop themselves into your consciousness for immediate satisfaction.

14. The Harlem Gospel Travelers – He’s On Time (Colemine)
Apparently the Harlem Gospel Travelers were literally students of Eli Paperboy Reed in a gospel class the singer was teaching. It must have been a very hands-on class, because Reed brought them into a studio to record this single. Based on He’s On Time, Reed is a very good teacher.

15. The BV’s – Every Story is a Ghost Story (Cloudberry)
The BV’s remind me of a more masculine sounding Field Mice. The band excels at creating moods with the chiming guitars and plaintive vocals. No one can afford a vinyl copy of Emma’s House these days and my guess is that you won’t be able to afford this one in 30 years either.

16. Blushing – The Truth (The Nothing Song Records)
If you are aching for a dreampop fix, look no further than Austin’s Blushing. The Truth may be their best song yet. The way they weave their tremolo guitars into webs of dewy goo evokes those early Lush EP’s.

17. Terry Vs Tori – Larusso (Box Bedroom Rebels)
Spain’s Terry Vs Tori in 2018 remind me of France’s Les Molies in 1994. Which means nothing to no one, unless you remember that gentle, understated pop from 24 years ago. No matter, you should snatch up this single if you dig indiepop of the Sarah variety.

18. The Shifters – Just Sat Down (Digital Regress)
Every time I listen to the Shifters I marvel at how much they remind me of early Fall, but at the same time are foraging off on their own unbeaten track. Sure, if MES were still alive today he would slag them off songs like the killer Melbourne & Monash Youth League as ripping off the Fall. I can’t think of a higher compliment.

19. Cool Flowers – Pig Charade / Angry (Self-released)
Portlands’s Cool Flowers fly so far under the radar they didn’t even bother to put their single on soundcloud or bandcamp. “So what” you say, I use Spotify. Good luck brother. Dub inspired glory on both sides inspired by the Public Image Limited and Scientist. A great reason to buy a record player.

20. Okama Flannel Boy – Carolina St. (Cloudberry)
Mexico city indiepawpers peddle some excellent rockabilly/Smiths/Orange Juice riffs on this single. Fernando Torres apparently is the man behind the flannel and his delicate voice and knack for a hook make this record sparkle atop the pile of all to self-aware also-rans.

21. Tiny Fireflies – Nothing (Self-released)
Nothing sees Tiny Fireflies relocating from Chicago to Portland, Oregon, though they traipsed across the country to record it with Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor) in Brooklyn. Nothing was then mixed by Ian Catt. Makes sense, as this is a fine example of some top shelf dreampop combining sad longing of the Trembling Blue Stars and atmospheric weight conjured by Slowdive.

22. Jackson Politik – Psycho-mania (Market Square)
Andy Jordan has a number of music persona’s and Jackson Politik is the latest. Psycho-mania sounds as its title advertises. The b-side Well-adjusted Australians is my favorite here. It sounds like a companion song to the Jazz Butcher’s Southern Mark Smith in both sound, topic, and even the tiny Max Eider guitar solo. More of this sort of thing please!

23. Amyl & the Sniffers – Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled) (Flightless)
Australian punks Amyl & the Sniffers put out a white hot compilation of their EPs earlier in the year and then followed it up with this worthy companion to the Stooges’s I Wanna Be Your Dog. It was a good year for this band, and can’t wait for what they have in store for us.

24. Lithics – Photograph of You (Thrilling Living)
Lithics deal in such sharp edged rock that it’s downright dangerous. Pack away your balloons and beach balls while listening to Photograph of You because the the icy cold shards of shrapnel coming off of this record is sure to puncture the most staunchly optimistic soul and make them stagger and question their rosy disposition.

25. Peach Kelli Pop – Which Witch (Mint)
Inspired by Red Cross’ Posh Boy EP, this six song seven inch contains short, sharp pop that leaves you wanting more and wishing each song was twice as long.

26. Stiff Love – Attitudes (Feel It)
Olympia, Washington’s Stiff Love, who formed in 2017, fit perfectly into that town’s punk-riot-do-it-yourself aesthetic. Attitudes combines 70’s guitar riffs with punk rock in your face flamboyance. This is white hot glammy goodness.

27. Mush – Gig Economy (Dipped In Gold Recordings)
From the ashes of the Too Pure Singles Club, comes Dipped in Gold Recordings and their first release from Leeds band Mush and it’s a spazzy symphony. A permanent job with benefits could be going the way of the Dodo, and rocking out to the next global economic meltdown never sounded so wonderfully unsettling!

28. The Stroppies – Maddest Moments (Tough Love)
The Stroppies tick all the boxes on the indie cred check list. Members for the Twerps, Dick Diver and the Stevens. Check, check, check. Compared to the Flying Nun bands like the Clean and the Bats. Check and check. Maddest Moments isn’t drop dead immediate, but it worms its way into you’re consciousness with off kilter melody and workman like playing. It’s comfortable like a favorite sweater.

29. Jay Som – Pirouette (Polyvinyl)
Melina Duterte’s (aka Jay Som) single from early in the year was fuzzy sounding, sleepy eyed follow up to her album the previous year. Pirouette is as lively as anything she’s done previously and moves her from bedroom into the kitchen, slicing up a nice chunk of powerish pop.

30. Skiftande Enheter – Mördande Rutin (Market Square)
Further north than Scotland, straight outta Sweden and out-yumming the Yummy Fur are Skiftande Enheter. I have no idea what they’re singing about but count me in on this DIY punk on cross country skis.

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.

umb
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.

cover
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.

roves
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.

saysue
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.