Singles of the year, part 1: 21-40

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.
close

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.
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23. Stephen’s Shore – Ocean Blue (Cloudberry)

Swedish pop makes a come back with this Mary Onettes inspired beauty.
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24. Perapertú – Palmas bajas (Discos Walden)

This bouncy single answers the question, what if Orange Juice were Spanish?
perapertu

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.
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26. Couteau Latex – Hostile Environment (Goner)

Seth Sutton still has his Useless Eaters, but takes a step into minimalist synthetics with Lise Sutter.
couteau

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.
myfav

28. Jessica & the Fletchers – Marble Fountain (Market Square)

Noisy, blissed out songs in the vein of the Shop Assistants and Strawberry Switchblade.
jessica

29. Heavy Times – Dancer (Randy)

Chicago’s Heavy Times add some synth to their guitar attack and sound just as menacingly great.
heavy

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.
oslo

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.
posse

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.
worldloser1

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.
expview

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.
spinning

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.
shaladas

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.
tangexcit

37. Patience – The Pressure (Night School)

Single number two from former Veronica Falls front woman Roxanne Clifford. Depeche Mode would be proud.
patpress

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!
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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.
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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.
catact_rita

Monomyth Go 2 the Pop Place

monomyth

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!

Stream and buy the record at Mint Records Bandcamp page or get the vinyl from Mint Records directly.

Tired of Talking: Basementcast #23

Screen shot from Tunnel Talk's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMIorr7DJ7cI 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.

Catching Chook Race While They’re Around the USA

chookrace

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.

zebrahunt

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!

Life is a Lion’s Den

lions-den

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.

Inching Into Autumn with Snails

snails

Snailsa band from Bristol, can neatly be filed in the category where you keep your Kevin Ayers, Cate Le Bon, Belle & SebastianGorky’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.

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.