25 7″ Singles for 2022

So that monthly wrap up thing didn’t last very long, did it? The internet is still here and so is this blog, sort of, so why not create some year end lists of my favorite records. Here are my top seven inch singles of the last 12 months. Yep, 25 seven inch singles actually came out this year.

umbrellas
1. The Umbrellas – Write It In the Sky (Slumberland)

SF’s Umbrellas have really done it. They’ve set the bar really high for themselves with this single. Write it in the Sky has it all: Sunny Sundae Smile era MBV, a dash of the noisier side of Sarah Records and some long lost paisley underground group. The guitars are buzzing, the vocals are breathless and the backing vocals are from the heavens. Songs like this are the reason seven inch singles still exist.

lewsberg
2. Lewsberg – Six Hills (Speedy Wunderground)
Speedy Wunderground singles are apparently recorded in a single day with no lunch break according to the SW web site. They are also pressed in limited quantities. There are a number of other rules they adhere to and they break a few too. Like splitting a song onto two sides of a 7 inch single. That’s what they’ve done for this Lewsberg stormer of a song Six Hills. Lucky for us, it’s also streaming so you don’t have to buy two copies to hear the entire thing uninterrupted. Six Hills sounds like a Velvet Underground song with a Dutch accent and a dry sense of humor. “You’re driving without a license. I’m driving uninsured. Why don’t we crash into each other? I got the feeling that we should.”

dummy
3. Dummy – Mono Retriever (Sub Pop)

To get this one, you needed to subscribe to the Sub Pop singles club or scour discogs. Mono Retriever is worth getting even if if you need to buy nine other records you don’t want. It’s a perfect piece of monochromatic drone pop that ebbs and flows from sounding mildly disinterested to passively aggressively emphatic. Numbingly good.

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4. Skiftande Enheter – Oppna Landskap (Happiest Place)

If you hadn’t noticed, magic is happening at Happiest Place records. They’ve put out great singles by Friendly Boyfriend and Typical Girls and cross pollinate with Mamma’s Mysterious Jukebox (JJ ulius & Loopsel). Their 2019 LP was good, but wasn’t nearly as exciting as this new single. They don’t sing in English the way so many Swedish post punk and pop bands have in the past, but these songs with their great guitar riffs are so immediate and catchy that you won’t be looking for a translation app.

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5. Communicant – La Roue (Six Tonnes De Chair)

If you missed last year’s album by Los Angeles’ Communicant like I did this single will have you remedying that pretty quickly if you are fan of psychedelic cinematic pop. The Wheel was on last year’s LP, but this new French version featuring Natasha Recoder. Recoder adds her chic-cool vocals and turns the song into mysterious floating beauty that is is orders of magnitude better than the original.

mattb
6. Matt Berry featuring Emma Noble – Beatmaker (Acid Jazz)

Beatmaker was featured on Berry’s BBC TV show Toast of Tinseltown. He smartly put it on a single. It’s a cover of the Doris 1970 song and stays pretty close to the funky, horn drenched original, but it’s still super fun. Also, worth checking out is the Doris album from which this song was on – Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby.

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7. The Soul Chance featuring Wesley Bright (Colemine)

Remember Wesley Bright and the Honeytones’ number one hit Happiness back in 2018? The sweet soul beekeeper is back, only this time with a rock steady beat. This single is a collaboration with the Soul Chance and it’s a near perfect melding of Bright’s sweet vocals and reggae backing. Even in the depths of winter this record will heat up your turntable and put you in a vacationing mood.

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8. Nick & the Nod – Den Besten EP (Chicken Shack)

Trudging away in a bit of obscurity somewhere in the middle of the country. I think they call it Indiana. The Midwestern bible belt loves conformity and has likely tried to push Nick and the Nod into the gutter which likely exactly where they want to be. Like Australia’s Shifters, and the UK’s Cool Greenhouse,  Nick and the Nod obviously worship at the alter of the Fall and I’m a little surprised some coastal label hasn’t salvaged and exposed this brilliant stuff for rest of us subcultural misfits. R. Santos drips with sarcasm as it chugs along a loose rail riffing off of the chemical company responsible for DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange. This lathe cut single features five edgy dissonant cuts, all more than worthy of your attention.

pachyman
9. Pachyman – All Night Long (ATO)

Pachy García’s alter ego, the King Tubby inspired Pachyman normally deals in dub instrumentals, but here he gets some help from Brazilian singer Winter and delves into the lovers rock reggae sub-genre to winning effect. If you dig the Holy Cook records, then this one should be a must have.

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10. Billy Tibbals – Onwards and Upwards (Curation)

Curation Records continue to mine the SoCal pop underground and have dug up some gold with Billy Tibbals debut single. At first I thought he had a pretty good fake accent, but turns out he’s London ex-pat. Makes sense, Onwards and Upwards sounds a bit glam rock, a little LA powerpop with some DIY Cleaners from Venus aesthetic to keep it sounding urgent and edgy.

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11. 7ebra – I Have a Lot to Say (PNKSLM)

The debut of these Malmo, Sweden twins has a little in common with Wet Leg in the deadpan vocal delivery and dry sense of humor. Both songs feature bare bones arrangements, and with melodies and riffs like these, why clutter up good these perfect tunes. Nothing to hide here.

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12. The Hazmats – Empty Rooms (Static Shock)

The Hazmats are some dudes from hard core groups Chubby and the Gang, Game and Big Cheese. Surprise! They’re also Wedding Present and Stone Roses fans. This two song single jangles with indie charm that might surprise you. If Fucked Up can cover the Shop Assistants and Another Sunny day then big tough guys showing a penchant for more melodic fare shouldn’t come as such a surprise.

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13. Fleur – Le Capharnaum (Sound Flat)

The Danish Francophile Fleur was back with a new album and two singles this year and this was my favorite. Le Capharnaum is a northern soul-styled groover that’s a guaranteed dance floor filler.

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14. Love Dance – Parallel Lines (Too Good To Be True)

Norway’s Love Dance give us a fantastic slice of moody indiepop on this single which is part of Too Good To Be True’s singles club that started up in the second half of 2022. Parallel has a definite 80’s bent to it with little Railway Children and Icicle Works to give it northern wintry feel.

martha
15. Martha – Please Don’t Take Me Back (Specialist Subject)

It’s hard to believe that Martha have been banging out powerpop winners like this since 2014. Please Don’t Take Me Back features an undeniable riff that will tug your nostalgia for classics like the Freed Pig and On the Mouth even though it says it doesn’t want to. This one also gets bonus points for putting one of Allo Darlin’s greatest hits, My Heart Is a Drummer on the b-side.

quivers
16. Quivers – If Only (Ba Da Bing/Pink Lake)

The Quivers get an awful lot of airplay around here. Their Golden Doubt LP from last year was a favorite and their show US tour and Seattle was a definite 2022 highlight. This new single features two song sung by bassist Bella Quinlan. If Only is pretty and pensive and the flip, a cover of Lucinda Williams’ I Just Wanted To See You So Bad is a real barn burner. The Quivers have a knack for songs that a dusty Americana tinge and this fits their M.O. perfectly.

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17. Delivery – Personal Effects (Feel It)

Melbourne’s Delivery return with their second single (and debut album) this year. The group smartly give Personal Effects the single treatment. Its slithery hook jabs you in the side and sounds like a 90’s cocktail of Lucious Jackson, Cibo Matto and the Breeders mixed in with some modern day bitters like Vintage Crop and the Stroppies is a winning elixir.

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18. Lande Hekt – Romantic (Emotional Response)

Romantic is a great sleepy bedroom pop song. Think Fazerdaze, Snail Mail, Jay Som or Alvvays. The flip has a beautiful cover of the Wedding Present’s Octopussy, practically making it her own. Hekt has combined an inspiration with a result of an inspiration to great effect.

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19. Holiday Crowd – Party Favors (Shelflife)

Canada certainly has a leg up on indiepop these days. Ducks Ltd of course come to mind when you mention Toronto indie bands and the latest Holiday Crowd single jangles its way right into the conversation with its guitars that jangle and post-Smiths flamboyant melody. Holiday Crowd aren’t exactly prolific but with quality like this I’m happy to let them take their time and get it just right. Party Favours is some top shelf indiepop that shouldn’t be missed.

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20. Neutrals – Bus Stop Nights EP (Static Shock)

Oakland’s Neutrals slip back into our collective consciousness with this four song seven inch single. These DIY jangly songs are sure to connect with fans of Television Personalities and Emotional Response labelmates Mick Trouble. The stand-out song Gary Borthwick Says is an ode(?) to that friend or relative that everyone has probably experienced at some point in their lives who stretches the truth and exaggerates their connections, qualities and achievements. I appreciate how good they are at identifying everyday scenarios and making memorable songs about them. A gift for certain.

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21. Model Zero – Little Crystal (Sweet Time)

This single from this Memphis group channels rubber city rockers Devo along with some Idiot era Iggy Pop. Both songs channel good-time vibes and feature just the right amount of electronic sounds and guitars peppered with super catchy choruses. Totally fun single!

zombi
22. Zombierella – Rush Hour (Mosaique Records)

If you are old enough to remember, the saxophone in Rush Hour will take you back to some place in the 80’s when MTV played music videos and people still bought 7″ singles. Zombierella, aka Svetlana Nagaeva of Petersburgh, Russia has a cool almost robotic delivery and Rush Hour sounds as good as Kraftwerk being fronted by Grace Jones with an eastern European accent.

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23. Horsegirl – Billy (Matador)

The 90’s are in full effect on the second Horsegirl single. Billy features a murky a guitar swirl that was inspired by that decade, but this group is nothing if not earnest and they deliver a great hook that may not get you the first time, but will definitely pay off after a couple more listens. Flip it over for a history lesson, or at least a cover of the Minutemen’s History Lesson Pt II. These kids make you really appreciate their diligence for the oldies.

jeanines
24. Jeanines – Latest Light (Market Square)

Have the Jeanines written a song that extends beyond a minute and thirty seconds? I appreciate economy, because there are way too many songs floating out there these days. The two songs on this single quickly give off great vibes in the same autumnal, strummy, melancholy way that we’ve come to expect. And while they may not reach the highs of the two albums, they are certainly worth you time however limited it may be.

royal
25. Royal Arch – La Nuit/Road to Light (Jigsaw/Make Me Happy/Fastcut)

Royal Arch from Athens, Greece really impress on their debut single. La Nuit features big guitars a solid rhythm section (the unsung secret ingredient of shoegaze) to create an impressionistic dreamy atmosphere and they have a predilection for a good complimentary vocal melody. Royal Arch’s sound fits nicely into that early 90’s UK shoegazer genre that still has legs after all these years.

21 for 21 – 7″ Singles of the Year

You likely noticed there ain’t much music blogging going on around here lately. Life moves pretty fast and finding time and motivation to write about music has been a challenge. I find that sitting in front of a screen after sitting in front of screen for a full work day is less exciting than it used to be. I still love listening to records every chance I get though, so I’ve brushed off the cobwebs that have been collecting in this space for a year end list or two. First up, are 21 of my favorite 7″ singles of the past 12 months.

wetleg
1. Wet Leg – Chaise Longue (Domino)
Single of the year that seemed to pop up in random places in my somewhat isolated 2021. On the radio, in a grocery store, on my phone and finally on my turntable. Chaise Longue was so catchy and its quippiy lyrics so funny and its ability to percolate into multiple strata of society isn’t that surprising. Like Blur’s Song 2 in its immediacy (and hopefully soon a stadium staple like that one) but far sharper. Chaise Longue’s dry sense of humor didn’t so much drip, but evaporate into you. It was exciting to hear it every time I heard it and after 100 listens I’m still not sick of it.

bugclub
2. The Bug Club – Checkmate (Bingo)

Wales band that seems to be flying under the radar for now, but this single along with their LP this year should hopefully change that. Sharp lyrics and manic riffs on Checkmate make this white hot. You get three more songs with this tiny piece of wax and all are great. It’s what I imagine a garage band would sound like if Kevin Ayres had been born in 2000 and met a bunch of ex-Johanna Gruesome kids and started a band.

cdg
3. CDG – Unconditional EP (Domestic Departure)

Coming out of Portland, Oregon, CDG aka Conditioner Disco Group revel in early the early 80’s post punk sound. J. Nickel who is the main conditioner also has allegiances with other Portland post punk notables Collate and the Bedrooms. CDB lean heavily towards the Fall, PIL, and Gang of Four. The best of this five song lot is Remove Officer with its funky groove and effeminate accent is difficult to ignore and bound to get stuck into a repeat listening loop on your device.

horsegirl
4. Horsegirl – Ballroom Dance (Sonic Cathedral)
These Chicago youngsters seemingly appeared out nowhere this summer. Fully formed and moody, Ballroom Dance sounds like it was written by a group that has been worn down by the world and nostalgic for a better time. I guess we all are these days no matter how old we are. A brilliant shooting star of a song. Here’s hoping there’s more where this came from.

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5. The Smog – Set In Stone (Going Underground)

The Smog are from Japan. This is their third single (the first two are OOP but free downloads). I can’t tell you if it’s their best, but I can tell you its raw punk energy is infectous. Both Set In Stone and Lost My Mind are top notch punk songs, injecting full doses of bands like Wire, early Cure, Minor Threat and the Damned. Lost My Mind may be slightly better with it’s riff and great chorus. I can only hope that they won’t stop after only three singles.

friendlybfriend
6. Friendly Boyfriend – Pick Up! (Happiest Place)

I remember hearing Gone for a Time, the lead track here, for the first time and getting swept up with its weirdly warped guitars and prominent bass riff. It was odd, but good. Sorta reminding me of the lo-fi Swirlies trying to do MBV but with a weird Swedish pop sensibility. I bought the single right away. Record arrives a few weeks later, I put it on and track two is a cover of the Clean’s Beatnik. I think this could be start of a beautiful relationship.

paleblueeyes
7. Pale Blue Eyes – Motionless (Broadcast)
The first single from this trio from the UK hinterlands blends two of my favorite styles of rock n’ roll – hypnotic motorik grooves and waves of brilliant shoegaze guitar. Motionless floats with the ease of a group that are firing on all cylinders or maybe a fully charged battery as I’d like try to make more carbon neutral analogies. No matter your preferred mode of motorized transport, this soundtrack will do nicely as the mile markers fly by.

delivery
8. Delivery – Floored (Spoilsport)

Another Australian band in the countdown, Delivery slot themselves in closer to the rowdier post punk Australian crowd like Ausmuteants and Eddy Current Suppression Ring. There isn’t a bad move in any of the four songs on this single. Floored is a caffeine fueled beauty, the Explainer sounds like they borrowed an Intelligence riff from Icky Baby and Rubber sounds like they may have been listening to some Sauna Youth. Delivery’s tasteful influences and inspirations keep the arty post punk flame burning in my record collection.

harelem
9. The Harlem Gospel Travelers – Nothing But His Love (Colemine)

The Harlem Gospel Travelers followed up their 2019 LP with two singles in 2021. The group started and mentored by Eli Paperboy Reid continues its singles winning streak with the spirited Nothing But his Love. It’s got an innate sweetness that takes hold and carries you with it.

oftropique
10. Of Tropique – Woo (Electric Cowbell)

The second Japanese group in this year’s list, Of Tropique’s Woooo is an energetic instrumental that blends The Beat’s March of the Swivleheads with Esquivel eccentricities. Endlessly fun, and I can only imagine that the clarinet player needs a break after playing this one.

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11. The Catenary Wires – Mirrorball (Shelflife)
The single from Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey’s follow a long line female-male duos like Lee and Nancy, Sonny and Cher, Kenny and Dolly, and erm…Jason and Kylie who’s electric chemistry combine to ignite a great pop song. Under the Mirrorball is a nostalgic trip to the disco and discovered appreciation for music discounted in past. Accompanied by a great horn part, this indie song about disco is pretty darn great.

stephen
12. Stephen’s Shore – Brisbane Radio (Meritorio)

A Swedish group with a penchant for jangly pop influenced by the Byrds singing about Australian radio pulls together some seemingly disparate threads. All of that aside, the twangy pop of Brisbane Radio is so well done and infectious you’ll be checking the back of this to see if it really isn’t a reissue from the summer of love or the paisley underground.

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13. Partner Look – Geelong (I Heard a Whisper)

This Australian group features two German sisters based in Melbourne and their partners (hence the name I suppose). Geelong nestled on the water southwest of the much larger Melbourne seems to have been a satellite base for many recent bands in the Melbourne scene. Partner Look’s song of the same name is an obvious ode to this small town on the bay. “Close to Melbourne, close to the sea close to you, close to me. Everybody moves… ” A little like a post card from Geelong. Makes me want to book a trip and soak up the sun and sounds.

habibi
14. Habibi – Somewhere They Cant Find Us (Kill Rock Stars)

These Brooklyn based ladies haven’t exactly been prolific with only two albums in the past seven years, but this single follows last year’s Anywhere But Here LP, so it could be the start of a quicker pace for the band. Both songs have a little bit of Luscious Jackson/Breeders spin-off group Kostars and ESG style funky post punk dance groove. Loads of with style, attitude and a low key sense of humor make this a very solid effort.

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15. Uni Boys – Long Time No See (Curation)

This Orange County, California band started in their teens and has already released two download only albums. This is their first single for Curation (sounds like Creation) the label started by the the Beachwood Sparks Brent Rademaker. Uni Boys have and old school power pop rock and roll sound. Both side of this single are worthy of comparisons with late 70’s groups like the Nerves, the Shoe and the Low Numbers.

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16. The Tubs – Names EP (Trouble In Mind)

More goodness from the Tubs (last year at this same #16 with I Don’t Know How It Works. Uncanny!). This four song single sees the group expanding their sound with better production and better songs. Singer Owen Williams, formerly of Joanna Gruesome, sounds like a cool mesh of Dave Wakeling and Lou Barlow. There isn’t a clunker in the bunch, all sporting fun, catchy guitar riffs and memorable melodies. Crystal Ball, the final song is sort of fun curve ball too, going for an obvious Felt sound and succeeding there as well.

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17. The Intelligence – Celebration Ratio (Leisure World)

You might think that the seven inch vinyl single is an outmoded format. Well, the Intelligence and the Leisure World records have one for ya. How about a record that bends? Fold it up and put it in your pocket. Nearly as light as an mp3 or a stream, but you can hold it in your hands. Celebration Ratio seems to find inspiration in the fidelity and recording style of older Intelligence LP’s like Deuteronomy and Fake Surfers while still keeping it fresh and smart. The Intelligence keep going, consistently putting out great records, even one’s that bend.

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18. Lady Wray – Through It All (Big Crown)

The beginning of Through It All threatens to go off the rails right from the start. Nicole Wray’s, aka Lady Wray voice gets synthesized into some high pitched ear worm that at first feels like a fly buzzing around your ear. Almost like a minor annoyance to get your attention. Then you hear the rock steady beat, backing singers and the warm, sweet unsynthesized croon of Wray. Pretty soon you can’t get Through It All out of your head.

typicalgirls
19. Typical Girls – Miata (Kanine)

Another repeat from last year and at the same spot too. I swear I didn’t intend it. Typical Girls’ follow up single to last year’s debut 7-inch is a double A side. The flip Nice Boys is my favorite here, combining some of the Radio Dept’s more melancholy synth tendencies with Taken by Trees own brand of melancholy. They throw in a dance beat to brighten it up a tad and voila, something their own that is worthy of its inspirations.

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20. Youth Valley – Young Sad Lovers (Make Me Happy)
Youth Valley’s Young Sad Lovers with its subtle motorik groove, guitars that evoke big wide open wintry landscapes and slightly fey vocals could be mistaken for a Swedish guitar group from the early 00’s like the Mary Onettes or even 80’s UK indie band like the Field Mice. This Greek duo pack two winners onto the vinyl version of this single and slip in a bonus track into the digital version. All three cut from the same cloth and all three increasing my hopes that an LP or another single is on the way in 2022.

shopwindoe
21. The Shop Window – Out of Reach (Spinout Nuggets)
Out of Reach has the ring of classic UK indie guitar pop. Ringing guitars and a driving beat topped off with an anthemic melody and chorus. The song is seemingly inspired by the isolation and lost days of the global pandemic. I imagine it would be great to hear live with its Mighty Lemon Drops meets Chameleons sound. Here’s to better days ahead and maybe a chance from folks to hear it live.

22. Eggs – Greatest Hits Ep (Perfect)
23. Floating Room – Shima (Famous Class)
24. Sundae Painters – Aversion (Leather Jacket)
25. Collate – Medicine (Domestic Departure)
26. The Smashing Times – Dreams on Union (Painter Man)
27. BOAT – My Haunted Friend (Magic Marker)
28. Swansea Sound – Indies of the World (HHBTM)
29. Lavender Blush – Sundays (Blue Aurora Audio)
30. Ghost Woman – Lost Echo’s (Full Time Hobby)
31. Telephone Numbers – Leviathan (Fruits & Flowers)
32. Tough Age/Dumb – Pizza Punks (Mint)
33. Mandarinaduck – Super Long Life (Box Bedroom Rebels)
34. The Harlem Gospel Travelers – Fight On! (Colemine)
35. Chubby & the Gang – Lightning Don’t Strike Twice (Partisan)

7″ Singles of 2020

Welcome to the annual singles countdown here at the Finest Kiss music blog (is blog still the right term?). If you’re new here, we’ve been doing these singles countdowns since 2008. The basic rule is that it had to be released on a 7″ single to qualify, which as the years go by really limits the field. Also, it’s gotta be something I like, which narrows the field even more. Here are 30 records that I bought and loved in 2020.

quivers
1. Quivers – You’re Not Always On My Mind (Turntable Kitchen)
This song was bubbling around last year, got played a bunch on local Seattle radio station KEXP and finally got a 7″ release at the very tail end of 2019. So technically it’s a 2019 single, but this is my blog and my countdown and shipping from Australia during Covid takes longer than usual so You’re Not Always On My Mind didn’t arrive at Finest Kiss headquarters until early 2020. Quivers style of pop is close to the Catchers and the Go-Betweens with their gangling guitars, swell bass, and a contradictory chorus that is hard to forget. You’re Not Always On My Mind could have been single of the year in most years but thankfully it found me in a year when great pop songs were constant lifesavers and this one brought up my spirits on many occasions. Note, the band just released an album that covers REM’s 1991 Out of Time LP on Seattle label Turntable Kitchen that is well worth hearing as well.

vickyT
2. Vicky Tafoya – Forever (Penrose)

I would like to thank Vicky Tafoya for bring back full circle in my love of girl group pop. I remember going through a phase of digging noisy feedback drenched lo-fi indie rock influenced by the Crystals and Shangri-Las. The Vivian Girls song Where Do You Run To is a prime example of this. Now that I’m older and wis…well I’m just older, I don’t necessarily need the difficult feedback to appreciate 60’s girl group pop. A perfect example of my evolution is this Vicky Tafoya single. Tafoya has been around a while, but hasn’t recorded much so I hope Forever isn’t a one-off single and that she’s just getting re-started.

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3. The Cool Greenhouse – Alexa! (Melodic)
The Cool Greenhouse know comedy gold when they see it. Alexa! very humorously mocks those smart spearkers that folks can’t seem to live without. Alexa, email my credit card details to my contacts list. Alexa, open the pod bay doors. You get the idea. Cortana makes a guest appearance and the Cool Greenhouse continue to employ repetition (They are repeatedly making great records) to their advantage.

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4. Romero – Honey (Cool Death)

Powerpop never made anyone rich except for maybe Cheap Trick, but don’t tell Melbourne’s Romero. Honey is a brilliant debut single. A threadbare song that sounds like it was made in 70’s with a riff written with a four neck guitar in mind. It’s about something that mysteriously went down at the discotheque with killer chorus featuring vocals that bleed just a little into the red giving it a mysterious hazy urgency.

shifters
5. The Shifters – Left Bereft (Captured Tracks)
Left Bereft sounds like it could be set in a post apocalyptic world or today. According to the band it’s “an overly simplified rabble-rouser that people who maybe use English as a second or third language can understand and maybe feel a bit of solidarity. I like to imagine drunk students in France listening to it whilst wrestling on the kitchen table.” Their Fall-ism’s abound here, but it’s so good (and Mark’s gone) that I’m just happy there’s band doing similar stuff at such a top level quality while putting their own stamp on it.

RadioDept
6. The Radio Dept. – You’re Lookin’ At My Guy (Just So!)

By now, the Radio Dept. can do whatever they want and I’ll probably buy without even listening first. The A-side is a cover of the Tri-Lites 1964 single. The cover brings to light a 60’s soul influence that I hadn’t really noticed before now. It’s done in their own unique style. They seem to reach deep and go for throwback to Lesser Matters with more blown out guitars that gives it a more raw and lo-fi feeling. Even when they decide to pull a deep cut from the 60’s, this group continues to keep it fresh

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7. The Umbrellas – Maritime E.P. (Syncro System)

This is what I always hope for when a band releases killer songs as download only or a cassette…that someone will see fit press it to vinyl. That is what happened with the Umbrella’s Maritime EP. Released as a cassette in 2019 and then straight to vinyl in 2020! The SF band push the right indiepop buttons, taking some raw Beat Happening and adding some Small Factory and Versus. And it ain’t just the right influences they’ve got songs too, four of ’em that’ll have you wishing for more.

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8. Jeanines – Things Change (Where It’s At Is Where You Are)

Last year’s Slumberland debut LP was quite something and the band didn’t waste anytime following it up with this single. It continues their brilliant Siddeleys (they covered that band’s Falling Off My Feet Again) and Mama’s & the Papas (no cover yet) inspired pop. These four songs are a little more acoustic based, but still autumnal and jangle filled to the brim.

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9. Ribbon Stage – My Favorite Shrine (K)

It’s easy to forget about stuff that’s up here in the Pacific Northwest. K Records down in Olympia have been keeping the International Pop Underground going since the 1980’s. Their release schedule has slowed, but quality singles like this Ribbon Stage 7″ continue to validate their importance. My Favorite Shrine easily falls into the Dolly Mixture – Vivian Girls – Black Tambourine category of lo-fi guitar pop with melancoly vocals buried in the mix to perfect effect.

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10. The Altons – When You Go (Penrose)

Daptone started up their Penrose offshoot label this year to showcase the new soul in So-Cal (Soul-Cal?) and they didn’t hold back. Vicky Tafoya is up there at number two and here are the Altons at a solid number 10. The sweet soul falsetto will slow your life down and put you in an enviable state of mind where the rat race fades away, the sun is setting, the waves are lightly massaging the sand and you are reclined with your favorite drink taking it all in. This record really will take you there.

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11. Fleur – Petit Homme De Papier (Bickerton)

Cool submarine bass-line, skronky horns (or are they kazoos), and a riff that transports you into a pair of flares strutting down a sunny Marseille boulevard circa 1967. It’s amazing what a analog record can still do in digital age. Fleur isn’t French and isn’t old enough to remember the 60’s (neither am I) but it’s so good that being fooled is half the pleasure.

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12. Capitol – Weathered (Kingfisher Bluez)

Ontario, Canada’s Capitol (is Toronto) take a big step forward with this single. It’s moody, soaring, hopeful and blistering. It reminds me when I heard Interpol which reminded me of when I first heard the Chameleons which reminded me of how much I love sort of thing. Weathered has a great guitar lead, a circular melody and backing vocals courtesy of Charlotte Grace Victoria(ELIO) that takes this single to the next level.

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13. Doug Shorts – Money (Daptone)

Chicago’s Doug Shorts has been flying under my radar for years. Daptone smartly snapped him up and has put out a handful of his singles over the past few years. This one is steeped in 80’s Rockwell vibes. The electronic flourished beats akin to Space Invaders fuels the greatness here because Shorts has a sincere delivery with no detectable note of irony. How good is Money? I have been known to be in the kitchen belting out “I’m about that money” on repeat while flipping pancakes on the griddle.

loveburns
14. Love, Burns – Gate and the Ghost (Kleine Untergrund Schallplatte)

Pale Lights’ Phil Sutton steps out and starts another band with some of the usual suspects (Kyle Forester & Gary Olson) for this breezy single. Gate and the Ghost is pretty and brilliant with a Belle & Sebastian acoustic strum and Bluebells pop sensibility.

neuroticfiction
15. Neurotic Fiction – Romance (Specialist Subject)

This four song single has lots going for it. Manic pop thrills along with slightly askew vibes that recall Pylon, Gang of Four and the Talking Heads. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they’re all great, but Mi Mi Mi Mascota with its twangy angular jabs applies its post-punk acupuncture to my tender spots.

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16. The Tubs – I Don’t Know How It Works (Perfect)

Ex-Joana Gruesome folks go all in on the strummy jangle popularized by the Chills and the Bats in the early Flying Nun days. Both sides of this single are top notch. I Don’t Know How It Works is a plaintive strummy number while the flip Silver Moon with its keyboard bit has a strong Chills pedigree.

shadowshow
17. Shadow Show – What Again Is Real? (Hypnotic Bridge)
This Detroit trio released their debut album on the now defunct Burger Records. It was pretty solid but not flashy. This follow up heavy psychedelic single is great. It drips with garage cavewoman vibes and creates a green haze that fills your mind with weird hallucinations. B-side is a cover of the Feminine Complex song Is This a Dream? replacing the organ with dense guitars and essentially making it their own.

astrelk
18. Astrel K – You Could If You Can (Duophonic)
Astrel K is Rhys Edwards of Ulrika Spacek. Where Ulrika Spacek do prog-psycchelic rock, Astrel K is more playful and terrestrial, exhibiting some Gorky’s Zygotic Mnyci-like eccentrics that make it a fun three minute and thirty second ride.

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19. Typical Girls – Typical Girls EP (Happiest Place)

This Gothenburg, Sweden trio continue the long line of great indie pop from that country that seemed to peak at the end of the previous decade with that whistling song. The standout song on this three song single is Girl Like You which definitely has some similarities in its approach with the Concretes and Peter Bjorn and John. I for one am glad pop like this is still a thing.

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20. Neutrals – Personal Computing (Slumberland)
The bay area band with a Scottish accent have a similar sense of humor to the Cool Greenhouse (see Alexa above). Personal Computing is Neutrals’ ode to old tech. The song is full of funny one liners for the over 40 crowd and 20 something computer geeks about the bad old days of personal computer when programs were delivered to memory from a cassette tape. The only thing missing here is the dial up modem sound.

21. The Reds, Pinks and Purples – I Should Have Helped You (I Dischi Del Barone)
22. Archers of Loaf – Raleigh Days (Merge)
23. CB Radio Gorgeous – Mid Fit (Thrilling Living)
24. Mt. Mountain – Tassels (Six Tonnes De Chair)
25. Vanishing Twin – In Piscina! (Fire)
26. Native Cats – Two Creation Myths (Rough Skies)
27. Ghost Power – Asteroid Witch (Duophonic)
28. Tommy and the Commies – Hurtin’ 4 Certain (Slovenly)
29. Tomorrow Syndicate – Populous (Polytechnic Youth)
30. The Nix – The Highest (Moshi Moshi)

Everyday I Get Up and Pray to Jah

quivers
Working from home the past few weeks has allowed me the luxury of lying awake in bed after the clock radio goes off listening to whatever KEXP is playing that day. This morning I awoke from a deep slumber to the last 30 seconds of You’re Not Always On My Mind by Hobart, Australia’s Quivers. I didn’t realize I liked it at first as it was only 30 seconds of chiming guitars. The next song was Camper Van Beethoven’s Take the Skinheads Bowling so I actually started my day with “have big lanes, have big lanes” in my head. Later in the morning I pulled up the Quivers off the internet and discovered that this band had been missing from my life and if not for the virus enforced slowdown of my life I could have gone days, months years without them.

You’re Not Always on My Mind probably isn’t a dig at Willie Nelson’s You Were Always On My Mind, but it made me think of old Willie too. Quivers offer pop that is closer to the Catchers and the Go-Betweens. Jangling guitars, swell bass, and a contradictory chorus that is hard to forget. The song came out as single on Seattle’s Turntable Kitchen at the end of last year and is promised to be on an upcoming sophomore album. The single also contains a cover of REM’s Me In Honey which is also a preview of the band’s rendition of REM’s 1991 Out of Time LP due sometime soon as well.

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.

2017 Singles of the Year 40-21

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.

omni
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.

realno
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.

marbled
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.

lastleaves
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.

jayvons
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.

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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.

barringtone
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.

fireworks
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.

seize
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.

luxury
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.

air-sea
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.

bobby&gene
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!

deathrays
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.

teleman
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.

neutrals
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.

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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.

fieldroute
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.

parsnip
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.

vacantsmile
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.

rbocf
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.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

peaness
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.

A Weekend of Driving Langorously

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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.

Tomorrow the World!

the world
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.

Leon

leon

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!