December Top 10

1. Hookworms


The Hookworms have gone upwards at 45 degrees into double vegetation on their new album Hum. Smart move including last year’s excellent single Radio Tokyo on the album. The Leeds band keep on keeping on with their brand or crazy psych rants, only this time it’s crazier, psycier and rantier.

2. Dreamsalon

Seattle’s Dreamsalon recently unleashed their second album on the populous and as far as I can tell the world is all the more gloomier and paranoid for it. From the northern England by way of Seattle school post punk, their mix of the Fall, Bunnymen and Gang of Four is a concoction few have gotten right, but this band excels at.

3. Weak Boys

Sydney Australia’s Weak Boys do something that I wasn’t sure was possible. They’ve successfully combined the garage aesthetics of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, the pop smarts of Smudge and the clever lyrical bent of the Lucksmiths into their debut album Weekdays/Weekens. Not weak at all!

4. Fat Creeps

Must Be Nice the debut album from Fat Creeps came out this summer, but I didn’t finally discovered it until last month. A kid today would probably say they are similar to Bleached, No Joy and the Vivian Girls. An older fellow might compare them to Throwing muses, Breeders and Scrawl. All of those bands work as a jumping off point, but Fat Creeps take their influences and weave their own narrative.

5. Small Reactions

Atlanta’s Small Reactions write motorik pop songs without the use of computers or other futuristic machines. They use the classic guitar, bass and drums combination to create their propelling rhythmic pop. Their self-released debut album could be the brother of the Hookworms’ Hum, and deserves more attention than it’s received so far. Damn it’s a crowded world!

6. Unlikely Friends

The first fruits of  Unlikely Friends the collaboration between BOAT’s D. Drane and Math & Physics Club’s Charles Bert has finally arrived and it’s a 10 pound 3 ounce bundle of joy. Can’t wait to hear the siblings!

7. Ariel Pink


I’m not sure about Ariel Pink, not because of his alleged misogynistic comments related to Madonna, but because of his kitchen sink approach. His new album is all over the place. Put You Number In My Phone is brilliant understated pop, but don’t think for a moment that the album is full more of them. There are goth numbers, industrial numbers, circus numbers, commercial jingles, you name it. I get that it’s his act, but it makes for a disconcerted record, but at least it’s not boring. If you missed the 90’s and Denim then Pom Pom is Denim on Ice for your generation.

8. Be Forest at the Josephine, Seattle
be forest at the Josephine
The show that nearly didn’t happen. Italian dreampoppers Be Forest were in Seattle without a show to play, but the fine folks at the Josephine accommodated them and their tour mates Tennis System on late notice. A quartet on record, Be Forest were touring as a trio. They overcame a few sound problems to play an ethereal set that featured some nice guitar playing reminiscent of the style Julian Swales of the Kitchens of Distinction used to do, making it sound like there were two or three guitarists instead of just his one.

9. Thigh Master

Hailing from Brisbane, Thigh Master must have some knowledge of a certain band from that same city because there are similarities they have that certain band that are hard to ignore. The band’s first 7″ is three songs of bouncy, jangly, and slightly garagey pop that are bound to not just to excite fans of Suzanne Somers but of the Go-Betweens as well.

10. Lists
cobain
Tis the season for lists. Best records, worst records, most mediocre records, best album covers, worst album covers, best reviews, best comments, best shows, you name it there is a list for it. Does anyone do a list of the best lists? Probably not, that would be kinda excruciating, not to mention redundant.

November Top 10

1. Tam Vantage
Pop Singles’ 2012 album All Gone was an understated jangle-pop pleasure. Though it’s too bad it looks like that band has called it a day, it is exciting to see that Tam Vantage the singer and guitarist in the band returning with a solo album that is scheduled to get a release early next year. The perfect pop of the first single the Boy Who Always Wins picks up right where Pop Singles left off.

2. Day Ravies
Australian shoegazers Day Ravies aren’t so shoegazy on their new 7″ for French label Beko, but that really isn’t a problem here. This scuzzy pop side is fine with me!

3. Kyle Orton is the new Lee Hazlewood
I bet you didn’t know that Lee Hazlewood had been reincarnated as Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton. When I saw this photo tweeted by Light in the Attic I assumed it had been doctored. It’s uncanny. I thought that mustache could only exist in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Orton’s new nickname if he needs one should be a Cowboy in Buffalo.
hazlewood

4. Paperhead
Nashville’s Paperhead release their third album this week and it’s full of late 60’s influenced psychedelic pop. It has a definite Kinks glow to it and of course you can’t talk about a record like this and not reference the Beatles. These paperback writers know how to write page-turners.

5. The Rainyard
I’m sorry I didn’t write about this while it was still in print. The Spanish label Pretty Olivia put out A Thousand Days on a short run of vinyl earlier this year. It collected all of the Australian band’s 80’s output and it is a wonderful record of paisley psych jangle. As a consolation, you can still purchase a download of the record.

6. Perry Mason
I’ve got a stack of Mojo CD’s ten feet high that I’ve never listened to, but every once in a while there is one that piques my interest. The November one compiled by Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin is full of soundtrack music and TV themes from the 50’s and 60’s. I had forgotten about the Perry Mason theme and how much it sounds like Peter Thomas playing the James Bond theme.
Perry Mason

7. Vic Godard
1979 was a very good year. It’s hard to believe that it took 25 years to properly record this batch of northern soul inspired songs and get them released. Perseverance pays off for Godard.

8. Primtime
Primetime’s single came out in the summer but I had’t heard it until Still Single reviewed it. If you dig Oakland’s Pang then this London quartet’s debut single will be your thing.

9. Gwenno
Gwenno joins Rose Elinor Dougall as a former Pippette with a solo career. Gwenno’s debut album Y Dydd Olaf is sung in Welsh but that shouldn’t matter to non-welsh speakers. The title comes from a sci-fi novel by Welsh scientist Owain Owain, and the music sounds like it was inspired by the likes of Broadcast and Stereolab.

10. Ex Hex
Mary Timony’s latest band is inspired by Cheap Trick and the Buzzcocks and chock full of adrenaline fueled songs. Ex Hex’s debut album was produced by Mitch Easter who knows his way around power pop hooks and this record has got ’em to spare.

The Inaugural Monthly Top Ten List

You may have noticed that I’ve been struggling to keep up around here: fewer and fewer posts, overflowing in box, long beard and unclipped nails. In an effort to get back on track and clean myself up I’m going to try and start doing a top ten list for each month of things that I’ve neglected to post about in the past month. Well, I’m already behind seeing as it’s October and I’m doing a top ten for September. Before it gets any later, here are ten things from the last month that merit some recognition.

1. The Aislers Set at Neumos

Aislers Set at Neumo's, Seattle

The Aislers Set breifly reunited for the Chickfactor 20th anniversary shows back in 2012. I saw that show and it was good, but seeing them a couple weeks ago in Seattle was even better. This was a brief West coast tour celebrating the reissue of all three of their LP’s from the 90’s (Slumberland & Suicide Squeeze). Linton and company were in top form this night performing their glistening pop that never got old.

2. The Intelligence at Lo-Fi

The Intelligence at the Lo-Fi, Seattle
Sadly the Intelligence are no longer based in Seattle, so the opportunities to see them live have greatly decreased since Lars Finberg’s migration to L.A. Other things have changed as well, This is not your kid brother’s Intelligence. Although this was a release party for reissue of their first LP Boredom and Terror (In the Red), they played a bunch of new songs that featured a powerful rhythm section and meaty jam sections to them. A far cry from the bedroom tape hiss of that first record. No, they haven’t turned into Phish, but they’ve evolved into something even more formidable than before. Can’t wait to hear the new album!

3. Fresh Hop Beer

hops
It’s harvest time and up here in the pacific NW, and that means hops. Fresh hop beer is made with hops just picked off the vine and when it’s done right, it’s a fruity mouthful of flavorful beer. You have to be quick though, because it’s made in limited quantities and it goes fast. Recommended ones that I’ve tasted this year include Fremont’s Cowiche Canyon, Fort George Fresh IPA and Schooner Exact’s Amarillo Fresh Hop. Still hoping to get a taste of Bale Breaker’s Piled High!

4. Erik Blood – Cannons Vol. 1 
Erik Blood, the guy that made a shoegaze record about porn has switched gears slightly into electronics and motorik beats. His new four song EP (free to download at his bandcamp) features Mahogany’s Andrew Prinz and Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler.

5. Fat White Family – I Am Mark E Smith 
I was nonplussed over Fat White Family’s debut album last year, but this new single has got my attention. They may be claiming to be the Fall front man, but they sound like they’ve been hanging out with David J and Daniel Ash.

6. Primitives – Spin-o-Rama 7″ 
The Primitives have a perfect pop single in Spin-o-Rama. It’s Bright and sunny. It’s got hand claps. It’s under three minutes and leaves you wanting more. You hear it once and you can immediately sing it. I defy you to to find a more immediately infectious song that’s come out this year.

7. Go-Betweens Box Set – G Stands for Go-Betweens (Domino)

gobetweens
Just the other day I was pining for someone to reissue the Go-Betweens catalog on vinyl, since I never see them in the used bins. I should have been more specific in my wishing and added that they be individually released and affordable. Domino announced last week that they are planning a box set containing the first four Go-Be’s LP’s and four CD’s of rare stuff. It’s due to be released in January of 2015 and it’s only $160. Looks like I’ll still be scouring the used bins. Oh well.

8. Tacocat – Bridge To Hawaii (Hardly Art)
In between listening to and singing songs from Frozen my daughter will sing or play Tacocat’s Bridge to Hawaii. The first time this happened I did a double take and couldn’t figure out where she heard it. I like to think she heard it from me, but with kids these day’s you don’t want to ruin it for them by letting them know you like it too.

9. Butter the Children – True Crime 
When Brooklyn’s Sweet Bulbs split up after releasing one stellar self-titled LP, two bands immediately emerged from their ashes. The Butter the Children sect (Heaven’s Gate is the other sect) continue the warbly, spazzed-out guitar attack of Sweet Bulbs and feature Sweet Bulbs singer Inna but she’s more forward in the mix which I think makes for a unique and better combination. The band put up their album on bandcamp as a free download. I don’t know if this means they gave up trying to get it released by a label, broke up, or are simply a benevolent noise pop band.

10. Flowers – Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do (Kanine)
I wasn’t sure after the first few listens to Flowers debut album. They seemed to have toned down the noise for something more subtle. Recording with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler the London trio won me over with their minimalist approach that evokes the sparseness of Young Marble Giants, the smart intensity of the Spinnanes and the melancholy melodies of Everything But the Girl.