Hello, and welcome to this year’s singles countdown. You will likely notice that there are few non-7-inch singles in the list this year – 12″ EP’s and Cassettes. This is either due to fewer 7-inch singles getting made or a drop off in my vigilance. I don’t want to speculate on my anecdotal evidence. Broadening the scope of format lets me add some things that normally would be ignored in my year end list making. Hope you find something you love.
40. Omni – Fever Bass (Chunklet)
There must be Joseph K records in Atlanta record stores, or these kids have an internet connection. These two slices of sharp pointed pop will provide a great soundtrack for your version of the herky jerky.
39. Real Numbers – Frank Infatuation (Market Square)
Minneapolis’s Real Numbers follow up last year’s LP on Slumberland with this rerecorded version of Frank Infatuation and a brand new b-side and show us again why we loved their brand of jangly Television Personalities meets Art Museums pop in the first place.
38. Marbled Eye – EP II (Melters/Digital Regress)
Marbled Eye’s austere post punk features clanging guitars and disaffected vocals. Very good if you like a little bit of A-Frames with some Total Control.
37. Last Leaves – Hinterland (Matinee/Lost & Lonesome)
Marty Donald and most of his former band the Lucksmiths evoke a sense of place starting in the Hinerland and then heading to the beaches of South Australia.
36. The Jay Vons – Want You Tomorrow (Wick)
An excellent R&B soul record that could mistaken for a lost classic. Not surprising considering Wick is a spin off label from Daptone.
35. The Creation Factory – Let Me Go (Market Square)
Not on Creation or Factory records, but maybe sounding a little like the Creation. This Los Angeles band slips in from their city’s underbelly with this blast of 60’s infused swirl.
34. Barringtone – Dream Boys (Onomatopia)
Former Clor frontman Barry Dobin surfaces every once in a while with a new single. Dream Boys is a slice of avant pop that feels like it’s five songs in one. I like all five.
33. Fireworks – Dream About You (Shelflife)
Even with a new singer (Emma Hall is out and Beth Arzy of Trembling Blue Stars & Luxembourg Signal in) the Fireworks still dial up just the right of jangly, fuzzy-buzzy pop.
32. Seize the Chair – Knew You’d Never Been There (Too Pure)
Seize the Chair have a similar aesthetic to Menace Beach, Traams and Hookworms. Lots of guitars, nods to motorik beats and 90’s indie rock.
31. Luxury Death – Glue EP (PNKSLM)
Glue compiles this Manchester duo’s previous internet singles onto a 10″. Great buzzy guitars and keyboard fueled songs that use the space in between to create drama the way the Pixies used to do.
30. Air Sea Dolphin / Honey Radar – Split Single (Chunklet)
I can’t believe this is the only recorded output of Air Sea Dolphin. Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo and James Huggins of Elf Power team up for the sugar crush elephant 6 throwback Exploding that sounds like it could have been on Fun Trick Noisemaker. Honey Radar handle the flip side and more than capable with Spillman Was a Motorhead.
29. Bob & Gene – It’s Not What You Know (It’s Who You Know) (Daptone)
Bob & Gene first recorded it in 1971. New Fast Automatic Daffodils did it in 1992 (kidding) and then the Inversions re-recorded in 2017 keeping the vocal track. Old, new, whatever. Great!
28. Death Rays – The Shape of the Night (Market Square)
Based in Germany and the UK which I suppose used to be the EU, this duo do Suicide influenced drone very nicely.
27. Teleman – Funf EP (Moshi Moshi)
Teleman have an icy feel that is somewhere between Blur, Bowie and La Düsseldorf. This EP is just the right dosage.
26. Neutrals – Promotional Cassette #2 (Self-released)
As the title says, this was released as a cassette. When I first heard Motorcycle Cop I was reminded of the Pastels which given that the singer of this Oakland band is from Glasgow validates my intuition in some random sense.
25. Terry – 8 Girls (Upset the Rhythm)
Terry’s 8 Girls came out down under last year, but was hard to get. Upset the Rhythm saw fit to release it this year. Eight Girls is a dissonant ode to female politicians, while the flip Tippy Toppy Terry is as good a theme song as I could think of for the group.
24. Field Route – Dreaming EP (Box Bedroom Rebels)
Field Route’s single came out way back in January but I still remember it. Parts Ultra Vivid Scene and early Creation records this Manchester band has got it down.
23. Parsnip – Health (Anti Fade)
This Australian girl group features members of Chook Race and the Heirophants. This four song single has a Clean vibe given their use of keyboards and laid back feel.
22. The Vacant Smiles – Messin’ Around (Self-released)
This is a blast of big guitars in the down under scruffy, surf style similar to what the Hoodoo Gurus used to peel off with ease. It appears that a song this good does not warrant getting your record released since the band did it themselves and I for one am grateful.
21. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – The French Press (Sub Pop)
This Melbourne quintet could be described as jangly, but they include elements of classic rock to come up with something more interesting than your run of the mill indie jangle pop band. If you’ve heard the Close Lobster’s cover of Neil Young Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black) then you have and idea of where Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are coming from.
When you tell someone that you’re really into Peaness, it’s all about the accent. Otherwise you could be easily misunderstood. UK indiepop trio Peaness have been bubbling up with a self-released cassette called No Fun and then an internet single Oh George that is so undeniable that it could have you lining up to buy it if it existed in some form where you actually had to line up to buy it.
Take heart patient pop fans, the band now have a 7-inch single out now on Vancouver, Canada’s Kingfisher Bluez. If you are a fan of Standard Fare/Mammoth Penguins or Allo Darlin’ then this record will be one you want to add to your collection. Even if the single contains two songs that were on the cassette and leaves off their best song to date (Oh George), you the erudite pop fan won’t sweat the details because you will want to own one of the best singles of the year and be ready for what these ladies have in store next.
It was a three day holiday weekend here in the U.S. and that means one more day of doing whatever it is you prefer occupying your time with on a regular weekend. In my case you might be surprised to hear that it wasn’t listening to records, because frankly who has the time to sit and listen to vinyl during the waning days of summer? I was listening to music though. Being an American raised in the rural hinterlands of the Midwest my preferred method of listening to music is in the car with the windows down and the sun shining if possible. So here is my past weekend of highlights in the car. Admittedly this post would have been much better if I would have thought to snap photos at random points from the driver’s side, but that kind of thing is illegal and a might bit dangerous. So better off safe and boring from the photo perspective. It’s all I can do to remember a turn signal sometimes when a good song is turned up loud on the car stereo.
I had listened to the new Tyde record (nice Scott Walker reference on the cover!) a few times sitting at a desk doing work and it didn’t really connect except for the single The Curse In Reverse in which Tyde main guy Darren Rademaker is aided by former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler to startling good results. But as I crossed the Ballard Bridge with the sun hitting me through the windshield Nice To Know You blasted out of my windows and I immediately got it. This record is not supposed be listened to in an office or a basement. It needs sunshine, wind and at least 35 miles per hour. I was doing an errand, but I passed my turn on purpose to keep listening. Luckily the record only has seven songs on it so I didn’t waste too much petrol.
Later that night I had to run to grocery store to gather some food for the grill. It takes about two songs to get to the store which is just about perfect for a 7-inch single. Often when I’m heading to the store I’ll pick something that I’ve just put onto my phone. In this instance it was the new Hozac single from Soft Candy. The Chicago band sound like LA Paisley Underground and must be fans of the Rain Parade. The rolling psychedelia of Bixarre Luv Pyramids had me in such a daze that I almost rolled through a red light. I screeched to a halt (I was only going about 10 mph) in time to allow an elderly couple to cross Market Street. I Waited for the light to turn green and as it did the wonderful Kinks like piano of Song for Ellie Mae percolated from the speakers and carried me into the parking lot of the store. Damn I forgot my shopping list!
Late morning on our way to a trail head for a hike in the Cascades we are driving east on the I-90. It’s turning into a good day as the sun begins to burn off the clouds. Of course I’m starting to feel guilty about all of this driving. If I lived on a ranch, I’d take a horse and a Bluetooth speaker, but Seattle doesn’t have any ranches so here I am behind the wheel again listening to Portland’s Verner Pantons who continue the Paisley Underground theme of the prior evening’s trip to the grocery store only they subscribe more to the Long Ryders’ slant of psychedelia. It’s sort of dusty sounding and it makes me wonder if cowboys carry Bluetooth speakers with them on their horses these days, because I can’t think of a better way to listen to this record than on a horse somewhere around Winchester, Washington. As it is, songs like Little Boat, Melancholy Girl and Sarah Saturday get us to the hike much faster than NPR’s Weekend Edition could ever hope to.
A long weekend always has a comedown and needs a soundtrack and by this time I had been in the car way too much but it’s the last hurrah of summer and who wants to be inside? Not me. Earlier in the spring I had trimmed the apple tree in my back yard and there was a pile of wood waiting for just the right night. As I said earlier I don’t own a horse, but I do own a Bluetooth speaker and it was in my back yard as the cool nigh air was kept at bay by the snap and crack of the fire pit. What better soundtrack to fire, stars and general serenity than the new Mild High Club LP Skiptracing? This group of Los Angeles followers of Steely Dan and High Llamas know how to relax, or at least put their listeners into a state of relaxation. How good? So good I could barely bring myself to put another log on the fire as the soothing sounds of Chapel Perilous floated through the air. Luckily I have a kid or two to do the heavy labor and the repeat button close at hand.
photo by mike rosati
If you are familiar with Andy Human who’s records are an Ohio elixir of Devo and Pere Ubu and and Pang who’s two 7″ singles pulled in influences like Kleenex and Long Blondes then you probably have a pretty good idea of what the World sound like. To get a better idea , throw in a couple of saxophones into that thought. Now put on the debut single by the Bay area band, close your eyes and you are quickly transported back to the late 1970’s into the world of the Specials, Clash and X-Ray Specs. Your legs begin to twitch and suddenly you’re skanking across the floor to this four song single. Killer!
The single is out on Upset the Rhythm. Watch out for the band’s upcoming US tour and their green flexi too.
SmartGuy records, the ones who brought you singles by Total Control, the Boomgates and Rat Columns have a new single. Leon Stackpole of Ooga Booga‘s fame using just plain old Leon has just released a four song 7-inch.
The Ooga Booga’s were some weird combination of garage, kraut and disco, but here Leon strikes out down a more pastoral introspective road. Where the Ooga Booga’s sounded like a party band, Leon’s new four song EP is like the comedown. He gets some help on guitar from Ooga Booga’s cohort Mickey Young. All four songs have a Velvet Underground feel to them. Angry Again is dissonant VU, Sentimental Stranger is the sleepy Sunday morning country VU and Eat Sleep and Spy is the pop single buried in the rough. Quality stuff!
Melbourne, Australia’s Dreamin’ Wild take some of the bohemian elegance of Jim Sullivan, the mysterious delight of Hopkirk and Lee, the shimmering lugubriousness of the Clientele and the playful beauty of Moose and combine it into one of this year’s great seven inch singles. Doncaster Shadow has a timeless quality about it that you don’t hear too often anymore. They could break up and disappear tomorrow and would have accomplished more than most bands do in a lifetime. Such is the wonder of making just one brilliant single.
1. No Ditching – Inseparable (Art For Blind)
This five piece have attitude and hooks in spades. Their Inseparabel single is a DIY pop – punk masterpiece in the mold of Bratmobile, Siddeleys, The Razorcuts and Talulah Gosh.
2. Lime Crush – Graveyard (Fettkakao)
Vienna, Austria’s Lime Crush’s debut single was raw punk brilliance.
3. Gooch Palms – Trackside Daze (Urinal Cake)
Australia’s Gooch Palms channel the Ramones and Beach Boys into the number three single of the year.
4. Diet Cig – Sleep Talk (Father/Daughter)
If Small Factory’s Alex Kemp is not the Diet Cig’s spiritual guide then I’m getting senile.
Sidewalk was a swirling hypnotic slice of perfection.
6. Slum of Legs – Doll Like (Tuff Enuff)
The violin riff evoked the Velvet Underground without aping the VU on this excellent second single from Brighton’s Slum of Legs.
7. Ras G – Other Worlds (iNSect)
Brilliant dub madness from Los Angeles’ Ras G.
Former Clor front man Barry Dobbin took his time after Clor ended, but Feverhead was worth the wait.
9. Terry – Talk About Terry (Upset the Rhythm)
Tally ho to this excellent single!
10. Moon Types – Know the Reason (Jigsaw)
Sweden’s Moon Types employ some country, some psych and some pop which are the basic ingredients of many great singles.
11. Cathys – Hysterical Monument (Self-Released)
Sydney band the Cathy’s employing late period Felt to brilliant pop effect.
The Suburban Homes – Conformity In the U.K. (Total Punk)
Lowtide – Julia (Lost & Lonesome)
Bruising – Emo Friends (Beech Coma)
First Base – You’ve Got a Hold On Me (Hosehead)
Foam On The Daydream – Cloe’s Lung (FreakScene)
The Noble Krell – The Velvet You (13 O’clock)
The Death of Pop – Gardens (Too Pure)
Patois Counselors – Clean Skits (Negative Jazz)
Dear Tracks – Wildflower (Track & Field)
The Fallen Leaves – Out In a Forest (Market Square)
The Ghost Ease – Quit Yer Job (Cabin Games)
Les Chausettes – Kate (Punk Fox)
Destiny 3000 – Go Away (RIP Society)
The Young Sinclairs – Change Your Mind (13 O’clock)
Night Flowers – Slee (Dirty Bingo)