Tags: Animals That Swim, Cheveu, Creation Factory, Field Route, Group Doeh, Gurr, Hollie Cook, Priests, Proper Ornaments, Rose Elinor Dougall, Uranium Club
I must admit, I’ve been distracted of late. I’m sure you all have been as well to some extent. Sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to write about this great new song you’ve heard, because you realize how unimportant it is in the grand scheme of things. That doesn’t mean I don’t save them up, and it doesn’t mean that I have stopped listening to music. If anything I’ve listened to more music lately. It’s a distraction and provides escape, hope and pleasure. So here are a couple handfuls of records that have gotten me through the first month of 2017.
In the it came out in December, who releases a record in December category.
Minneapolis smart ass punks released album number two at the end of 2016. Minutemen/Firehose genius combined with Devo hyperactive geekiness. Too weird to be cool for some but right up my alley.
In the I totally missed it category
Quantic & Flowering Inferno ft Hollie Cook
Hollie Cook has album number three on the docket for this year, but at the tail end of last year the brogues hipped me to this little number she did with Quantic & Flowering Inferno. So good!
The album In My Head by this Berlin duo was on a few best of lists and for good reason. Great indie pop that reminds me a little of the Blake Babies and the Breeders.
In the 7-inch single is not dead and they even sell out category
We are only one month in and Field Route have already released one of the best 7″ singles. Bring it on!
Another classic sounding 7″. Yeah I know the 45 is on its deathbed, but quality over quantity is the rule of the day. I think both of these records are sold out, but each can be purchased as a download.
In the who releases a record this good in January category
Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular
Former Pipette took six years to follow up her solo debut, but it is worth the wait. It’s swirling blend of the Horrors, Goldfrapp and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Rose doesn’t look very goth, but she certainly leans in that direction ever so slightly.
Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
This record has two personas. The A-side is funk-punk that is a cross of Pylon and the Big Boys, the B-side is the post punk cool down that gets moody and melodic. Thankfully the band put an Interlude to divide things up for those of us who can’t always be in front of our turntables.
Proper Ornaments – Foxhole
Album number two from this trippy Velvet/Chills loving band. Not sure they’ve ever surpassed that first EP, but I love to hear them keep trying.
In the genre bending category
Group Doeh & Cheveu – Dakhla Sahara Session
French punk weirdos Cheveu team up with Western Sahara guitarslingers Group Doueh in an unlikely match. It’s crazy and out there and one of the best records I’ve heard this year.
In the buried treasure gets reissued category
Animals that Swim
Back in the day when you had to read about records and decode whether or not it was something you might want to spend money, I read a review of Animals That Swim debut album and decided to take a leap. I instantly fell in love with their quirky little songs that painted imaculate pictures in my head about the downtrodden, mundane and odd things in life. Pink Carnations, Madam Yvonde, How to Make a Chandalier are all essential. With this reissue you get the original album as well as genius b-sides and unreleased tracks to boot.
I think they might have finally broken the US as you can buy a copy of this reissue from Target, though I’m not sure I’d recommend it.
Tags: Crater, Erik Bood, Gazebos, Hotels, Lisa Prank, Soucher, Tacocat, The Exquisits, Vats, Versing
Is it too late for a list of my favorite hometown albums from last year? Probably, so go ahead and send a letter to the editor if you are feeling list fatigue. Otherwise continue reading and I promise this is the last one till next year.
1. Erik Blood – Lost In Slow Motion (Home Skillet)
Blood was involved in a lot of records this year, including recording two others on this list (Tacocat & Hotels). For his third album Erik Blood is still a solo act, but it’s mostly in name alone. Irene Barber provides additional guitar and singing throughout while it is book-ended by guest vocal appearances from Ismael Butler and OCnotes. He transcends any shoegaze pigeonhole he may have had and broadens his horizons to wide screen cinematic pop.
2. The Exquisits – Home (Asian Man)
The Exquisits have a sweaty punk sound that brings to mind Van Morrisson, the Hold Steady and Buffalo Tom. I also love the way they deftly incorporate horns into their powerful pop making it even more exciting.
3. Tacocat – Lost Time (Hardly Art)
Album number three finds Tacocat with no shortage of inspiration, Seattle, working on the weekend, X-Files and dealing with idiots on the internet. It is immediate and bright and speaks to you whether you are 14 or 40.
4. Versing – Nude Descending (Youth Riot)
Reason number 99 for why I don’t own a record label: When I first saw Versing they played with the then unsigned So Pitted. A few months later So Pitted signed to Sub Pop and released record. Versing put their dissonant Pavement meets Swell Maps record out about a year later on the tiny Tacoma label Youth Riot.
5. Vats – Green Glass Room (End of Time)
On the radio station that plays in my head, any song from this record would be played in a set that included Gang of Four, Lithics, A Frames and the Pheromoans. With its bony elbows, Green Glass Room makes its own space in the dissonant,/angular/punk room.
8. Hotels – Night Showers (Self-released)
Hotels have been knocking around Seattle for years, and have released a number of albums and singles but none as good as their latest. Enhancing their atmospheric guitar based songs with luscious doses of horns and strings makes Night Showers really pop!
10. Gazebos – Die Alone (Hardly Art)
Recorded by former Fastbacks guitarist Kurt Bloch and fronted by a couple Seattle indierock linchpins – T.V. Coahran who runs Gorgonzola Records and Shannon Perry formerly of Butts and Katharine Hepburn’s Voice. This record feels like it was made by a band of roving minstrels who found some wagons full of amplifiers. It’s loud with a slightly unhinged feel that keeps you on your toes .
Sorry about the wait, numbers one to twenty have been stewing all week. I’m sure there were ample lists on other blogs to satiate you list-craving folk in the meantime. Here are my top 20 seven inch singles of the year. If you missed numbers 21-40 you can catch up here.
1. The World – Managerial Material (Upset the Rhythm)
This was the debut from this Oakland, California band that was formed from members of Pang and Andy Human. Sounding like some long lost post punk band that was left off of one of those Akron/Cleveland Soul Jazz comps from a few years ago, the four songs on this single were lightening hot. You can skank, slam, shimmy or just plain old freak out to this.
2. CC Dust – Shinkansen No. 1 (Night School)
CC Dust is the side project of Mary Jane Dunphe from Olympia punk band Vexx. Here, she takes a slightly goth sounding approach to DIY synth and hits pay dirt on both sides.
3. Hate Week – Nights By the Lake (WIAIWYA)
A couple former Faintest Ideas guys form a new hyper jangle band and take my world by storm. Part Wedding Present and part Smiths and informed by innate Swedish pop sensibilities, this single has no weak parts.
4. Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta – ¡Cafeteando! (Electric cowbell)
Chicago anti-beatniks take the blueprint of weird latin funk originated by Esquivel and bring it into the present adding some dub and lo-fi elements. Couldn’t get enough of this single and had to reach for my Esquivel records.
5. Uranium Club – Who Made The Man? (Static Shock)
Minneapolis punks who’s snotty attitude is akin to the Replacements while their off kilter take on punk reminds me of the Minutemen, but that doesn’t even come close to describing how great this record is.
6. Soft Candy – Bizarre Luv Pyramids (Hozac)
Soft Candy are from Chicago, but their hazy psychedelia sounds like it came from the L.A. Paisley Underground.
7. Cut Worms – Don’t Wanna Say Good-Bye (Randy)
Too few bands these days sound like the Everly Brothers or Buddy Holly. Probably because kids want to hear the soothing sounds of autotuned pop. I’ll take this classic old-timey sounding pop any day.
8. Chupa Cabra – My Girl (Too Pure)
I love records from bands that sound unhinged. Chupa Cabra sound like they’re going to explode on this single.
9. Mercury Girls – Ariana (Slumberland)
Ariana is wonderfully stylized, lush pop with lots of guitars and soaring vocals to give it some teeth.
10. Honey Radar – Ignore the Bells (Chunklet)
As evidenced from their LP also from this year, Philadelphia’s Honey Radar seem to have piles of these killer lo-fi jams. A huge hit in my alternate universe.
11. Peaness – I’m Not Your Problem (Kingfisher Bluez)
This UK trio delivers a sprightly and cheerful brand of indiepop that is now at a premium with the demise of Allo Darlin’.
12. Primetime – Going Places (La Vida es in Mus)
Primetime take their time as single number two from the band comes two years after their debut. They again deliver top shelf, cocky Wire influenced punk rock.
13. Seafang – Motorcycle Song (Elephant Stone)
This single is an undeniable combination of the Bangles, Shop Assistants and Primitives. Pop that goes straight to the pleasure center of the brain.
14. Vital Idles – My Sentiments (Not Unloved)
Glasgow’s Vital Idles give us a hot and cool side on their debut single. My Sentiments rollicks like the Fall while In the Garden soothes the burns inflicted from the A-side.
15. The Beginner’s Mynd – Singing Man (Hidden Volume)
DC psych rockers continue to mine gold to seemingly little recognition. Similar in style to Young Sinclairs, this record will have you seeing many colours.
16. Lake Ruth – The Inconsolable Jean-Claude (The Great Pop Supplement)
Pulsing with baroque-kraut vibes, The Inconsolable Jean-Claude sounds is a rich combination of Left Banke meets Stereolab that makes its mark.
17. Boys Forever – Poisonous (Fooone)
Another Veronica Falls spin-off band, Boys Forever is lead drummer Patrick Doyle (he was also in Sexy Kids and the Royal We). Poisonous has a familiar indie pop Veronica Falls sound that is super immediate and sticks to your insides. Extra points for the b-side which is a cover of Kirsty MacColl’s They Don’t Know.
18. The Shifters – Creggan Shops (It Takes Two)
Creggan Shops was on the Shifters debut cassette from last year, but the astute folks at It Takes Two recognized its Fall-like genius and saw fit to release it as a 7-inch single.
19. Dreamin’ Wild – Doncaster Shadow (Moontown)
Best mellow single of the year, Melbourne’s Dreamin’ Wild deliver a cocktail jazzy ditty that is part Harry Nilsson and part Clientele. Lovely!
20. Sloucher – Certainty (Turntable Kitchen)
Seattle’s Sloucher cooked up a great single which is taken from their debut LP that also came out this year. Very Elliot Smith like, or maybe Heatmiser, anyway you get the picture.
It’s the end of the year and the Finest Kiss top 40 seven inch singles count down is back bigger better than ever in spite of there being fewer and fewer of these records getting released. Admittedly, it’s a dying genre, especially when you often have streamed a single 10-20 times and killed it by the time if finally arrives in the post. Nobody likes to wait these days, so without further ado, here is the first part, numbers 21-40.
21. Close Lobsters – Under London Skies (Shelflife)
Scotland’s OG jangle popsters are still at it. This is their second single since reforming and they haven’t lost a step. This high quality justifies an LP.
22. The Jeanies – Amilee (Hozac)
Take a trip back to the 70’s when the hair was frizzy and wild and power pop was on the airwaves.
23. Stephen’s Shore – Ocean Blue (Cloudberry)
Swedish pop makes a come back with this Mary Onettes inspired beauty.
24. Perapertú – Palmas bajas (Discos Walden)
This bouncy single answers the question, what if Orange Juice were Spanish?
25. Patience – The Church (Night School)
It appears that Veronica Falls are no more, but I cannot be to downtrodden since we get this first single from Roxanne Clifford’s new synth based project.
26. Couteau Latex – Hostile Environment (Goner)
Seth Sutton still has his Useless Eaters, but takes a step into minimalist synthetics with Lise Sutter.
27. My Favorite – Christine Zero (Death Party)
My Favorite write a beautiful tribute to Prefab Sprout. So good, I think Paddy McAloon was in the studio when they recorded this.
28. Jessica & the Fletchers – Marble Fountain (Market Square)
Noisy, blissed out songs in the vein of the Shop Assistants and Strawberry Switchblade.
29. Heavy Times – Dancer (Randy)
Chicago’s Heavy Times add some synth to their guitar attack and sound just as menacingly great.
30. Oslo House – Plateau (Trendy Feelings)
I loved that Omi Paloni record from a few years ago. Singer Philip Serfaty is now in Oslo House which is more subdued, but no less vibrant.
31. Posse – Perfect H (Wharf Cat)
Seattle’s Posse kept a fairly low profile this year, this being their lone release. They continue their Galaxy 500 influenced vibe here and it’s more than good enough to keep me anxiously awaiting what is next for them.
32. The World – Loser (Play Pinball)
Hot stuff from this bay area band that sounds a little ska, a little post-punk and a whole lotta goodness. This record probably would have charted higher if it wasn’t a flexi.
33. Exploded View – No More Parties In the Attic (Sacred Bones)
Formerly a solo act, Anika has a full time band now. Not sounding very different from her solo LP, this single pins the cold and disaffected meter in the red to sound even bleaker. Perfect for these times.
34. Spinning Coin – Albany (Domino)
Spinning Coin have a little bit of everything. A ramshackle feel akin to their countrymen the Pastels, a bit of the Tyde’s chilled out version of felt and some big old power chords recalling Slade. A lot to like here.
35. The Sha La Das – Those Years Are Over (Daptone)
The falsetto and backing vocals on this single will remind you of the Beach Boys. When someone tells you they don’t make them like they used to, hand them a copy of this beauty.
36. Tangible Excitement! – Muddled Whine (Emotional Response)
Undeniable sunny sided indie pop courtesy of Stewart Anderson, Scott Stevens, and Mark Monnone who collectively have more years of experience in the genre than just about anyone.
37. Patience – The Pressure (Night School)
Single number two from former Veronica Falls front woman Roxanne Clifford. Depeche Mode would be proud.
38. UV-TV / Shark Toys – Only When It Matters (Emotional Response)
As a rule I generally despise split singles, but Florida’s UV-TV are so good they have me making an exception this year. Killer Shop Assistants style of buzzing pop!
39. Romantic States – Take My Hand and Run (Nebraskan Coast)
Slightly grungy guitars juxtapose with Jim Triplett’s sensitive vocals to make a sprightly single from this Baltimore band that kind of reminds me of the Sprites.
40. Catholic Action – Rita Orca (Luv Luv Luv)
Crunchy second single from these Glaswegians is 100% fun. Their combination of Art Brut and Ash is one that could go wrong, but hasn’t yet.
Tags: Monomyth, Sloan, Superfriendz, Teenage Fanclub, The Weather Prophets, Thrush Hermit, Velvet Underground
With climate change you gotta wonder if there some Laurel Canyons blooming with succulents and bougainvillea up there in the formerly great whit north. For record number two Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Monomyth swap out their rhythm section, keep the psychedelic pop hooks and come up sporting their best paisley. The songwriting duo of Seamus Dalton and Josh Saltzer continue to split the vocal duties and their admiration of local heroes like Sloan, Superfriendz and Thrush Hermit while adding from Teenage Fanclub harmonies and the erudite pop sensibilities of the Weather Prophets.
Happy Pop Family is a wonderful tour de force and one of the best pure pop records of the year. The cool and beautiful Palpitations features a pristine melody interrupted by grungy heart attack chords. Aloha with its airy Teenage Fanclub harmony that kicks off the record isn’t even the best song here. That honor goes to the infinitely catchy Re:lease life (Place 2 Go) which plays like a travel log and has an off the cuff feel to it that reminds me of the Go-Betweens’ Darlinghurst Nights. Did I overdo it there? No, it’s that good!
I suppose you could call this a basementcast without talking. Some might just call it a mix. Going with liner notes instead keeps it short, to the point and provides something to read while you listen. Whatever it is, I hope it’s not boring.
1. Shinkansen No.1 by CC Dust – Olympia’s Mary Jane Dunphe takes a detour from her punk band Vexx and dons the persona of CC Dust that keeps the DIY feel but deals in the post punk synth sound of the 80’s to chilling effect.
2. Redondo Beach by Patti Smith – I doubt I could add anything that’s not already been written about Patti Smith, so I’ll keep it short and just say this is comes from her debut album Horses and was later covered my Morrissey which is ironic considering Morrissey once said reggae was vile.
3. Reco’s Torpedo by Joe’s All Stars – This song was Recorded in 1969 and featuring an excellent trombone lead by Emmanual Rodriquez which is also where this track gets it’s name. Rodriquez died last year at the age of 80.
4. Queen of the Minstrels by The Eternals – The first time I heard this song was the dub version (The Immortal Dub) done by King Tubby. The next time I heard it was the Eternals’ original version featuring Cornell Campbell’s soulful falsetto.
5. Out This Way by Erik Blood featuring OC Notes – The final song on Erik Blood’s latest solo album takes his up to this point shoegaze pop sensibilities into a totally different direction combining Dead Can Dance with A.R. Kane and making the arguent that he should be making records for 4AD.
6. Shadow Kissing by Hollie Cook – Hollie Cook’s first album came out five years ago, but still is breath of fresh air and regular makes appearances on my turntable to brighten the gray days.
7. EarthEE by THEESatisfaction – The duo called it quits earlier this year after making two albums for Sub Pop. You can hear half of the duo Stasia Irons every Sunday hosting KEXP’s Street Sounds.
8. Skinhead Moonstomp by Symarip – This is cover of Derrick Morgan’s Moon Hop done by this UK group. Morgan’s is more chill while this takes the original and infuses it with a punk feel before punk was even a thing.
9. Tip To Tail by Tyvek – It 2016 and punk is still a thing and nobody does it better than Detroit’s Tyvek who employ influences like Wire and the Swell Maps and the current day landscape of their city to make excitingly hot records like this new one.
10. Don’t Turn Me Away by Rexy – This slightly left field record from 1981 was reissued this year and sounds like it could have come out this year. The duo surely have fans in the Blow, Ariel Pink and Metronomy
11. Morti Sta Bidjàcu by José Casimiro – One label I have no problem buying a record from having not heard a song from it is the reissue label Analog Africa. When I saw Space Echo – The Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed! in the new bin at my local shop I snatched it up.
12. Wristband by Paul Simon – The man’s voice just doesn’t seem to age. Apparently Simon’s son turned him on to Clap! Clap! and Simon dug it and then asked him to provide some beats for his new record, one of which is featured on this track.
13. Us Amazonians by Kirsty MacColl – Tropical Brainstorm was the last record Kirsty MacColl recorded before her untimely death in 2000. She never made a bad record, but for my money this one was her best. It has wit and songs in spades. As fun as the record sounds I still get sad listening to it.
14. Morning Light by Woods – I had been suffering from Woods fatigue, but I’m back in their camp after the genre stretching featured on their new one from this year, City Sun Eater In The River Of Light.
15. Judge Dread by Prince Buster – Prince Buster passed a away in September. You would be amazed how many of your favorite UK ska songs by Madness, the Specials & the English Beat were actually Prince Buster covers. He had a lasting influence on many and his songs sound as hot today as they did 50 years ago.
16. Police On My Back by The Equals – If you grew up on MTV in the 80’s like I did then you likely remember Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant. As a kid after hearing the Clash’s version of Police On My Back, I could never figure out why I couldn’t find the Eddy Grant album with the original version. Later I learned about the Grant’s former band the Equals and their small clutch of hits like Baby Come Back and Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys.
17. Launderette by Vivien Goldman – Vivien Goldman only recorded a handful of solo songs. Her main gig was writing for UK music periodicals like NME, Melody Maker and Sounds. Her solo recordings were reissued this year on Staubgold. Her songs infusing punk, dub and art school sensibilities still sound vital.
18. One Too Many by Exploded View – Anika teamed up with Geoff Barrow of Portishead and BEAK> to stark results six years ago. Now the former journalist has a new band, though her haunting voice backed by icy austerity are similar to her self-titled LP. This could be considered her sophomore effort.
19. A Lake by Lawrence Arabia – Jason Milne is still making records as Lawrence Arabia and this one may get a wider audience since he’s now on Flying Nun and it’s his most consistent yet. If you have a a hankering for Harry Nillson highly stylized pop then this will do nicely.
20. We Need Love by Johnny Osbourne – Jamaican born Johnny Osborne migrated to Toronto and then back to Jamaica and his vocal on this record definitely has a northern soul feel to it.
Tags: Chook Race, Close Lobsters, Seattle, Tenorio Cotobade, Tenth Court, The Bats, The Feelies, Trouble In Mind, Victory Lounge, Zebra Hunt
Taking on America with an extensive 25 date tour is ambitious for any band, but when you’re Chook Race, a little known three piece jangle pop band from Melbourne, Australia it’s downright impressive (and maybe a little insane). The band made its way into Seattle Wednesday night to play the Victory Lounge, a bar with no stage in East Lake. This is one band I thought I would never see in Seattle, but after self-releasing their first album, Chicago label Trouble in Mind signed them making their second LP widely available in the United States as well as this tour a reality.
Singer and guitarist Matthew Liveriadis has a slight monotone delivery, but drummer Carolyn Hawkins provides a beautiful juxtaposition with her backing harmonies. The trio played an energized and jangly set inspired by the Bats and Close Lobsters mixing soon to be jangle pop classics from their first LP with ones of a slightly more classic pop sound from their new second album Around the House. In their short existence the band already have a stash of A-list songs and they didn’t leave any of them out including jangly diamonds like Dentist, Time, Sometimes and Hard to Clean and Older. The band’s tight sound and laid back attitude easily won over the likely already won over folks in attendance and made us all appreciate the long trip they had made to get here.
Like minded Seattlites Zebra Hunt opened for Chook Race with a set that consisted almost entirely of new songs (Half Right was the only old one). Apparently the new album is nearly ready and based on this evidence I would agree. One song really stood out with its Feelies-like crazy rhythm, even slowing down and then rebuilding itself into something quite raucous. Zebra Hunt has still got it!
Tags: Lazy Octopus, Neil Armstrong, The Intelligence, Wimps
I never thought I would hear a band that combined the spazzy pop bliss of Neil Armstrong with the primal pop eccentricities of the Intelligence. Where would I actually look for something like this? The internet of course. Sweden’s Lion’s Den could more succinctly be described as garage pop but that’s too easy. The songs on the trio’s self-titled debut LP seem to have a dry take on the mundane and acidic world (“Waking up is the bitter side of life” and “Denial is my therapy”), but they’re so darn catchy that they still make you feel like a 100 bucks.
It’s got some surfy sounding bits, some rockin’ ones, a few eccentricities and lots of adrenaline. And at ten songs in about 20 minutes it’s a perfect record for these anxiety laden and distraction filled times. Put it on and let it take you for a spin. You’ll be back in 20 minutes, in time for whatever is you didn’t really need to do.
The album is out on Lazy Ocotopus.
Tags: Cate Le Bon, Feral Child, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Kevin Ayers, Ladybug Transistor, Nick Drake, Snails, The Great Pop Supplement, The Kinks
Snails, a band from Bristol, can neatly be filed in the category where you keep your Kevin Ayers, Cate Le Bon, Belle & Sebastian, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, the Kinks and Ladybug Transistor albums. You keep those records close to each other I hope. This band’s first album Safe in Silence hit the digital landscape a couple weeks ago and its bucolic psychedelia I have discovered to be a perfect autumnal soundtrack.
The songs have an easy wistful sound that bounce along with flourishes of strings and horns economically interspersed. It’s a classic sounding record packed with classic sounding pop songs that deserves some recognition and some space on your shelves.
Right now this is a digital only release, but I saw yesterday that it will be getting a limited vinyl issue soon on Feral Child (who just put out a Peter Astor single). In the meantime, you can listen to and buy Safe In Silence from Snails’ bandcamp page.