Tags: Barrington, Cathys, Contrast, Diet Cig, Gooch Palms, Lime Crush, Moon Types, No Ditching, Ras G, Slum of Legs, Terry
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)
Tags: Best Friends, Cold Beat, Courtney Barnett, Day Ravies, Die Verboten, Downtown Boys, Eternal Summers, Expert Alterations, Finnmark!, Frankie & the Witch Fingers, Girls Names, Grubs, Helen, Hierophants, Hooton Tennis Club, Jessica Pratt, Joanna Gruesome, Kelley Stoltz, King Cyst, Kitchen's Floor, Knife Pleats, Mammoth Penguins, Nic Hessler, Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators, Outfit, Places To Hide, Primitive Parts, Protomartyr, Robert Forster, Saun & Starr, Sauna Youth, Sheer Agony, Shopping, Tam Vantage, Terrible Truths, The Chills, The Fireworks, The Intelligence, The Shifters, Thee Oh Sees, Traams, Twerps, Valet, Viet Cong, Wildhoney, Willie Weird, Woolen Men
I hope you looking for a few more records to buy before the wave of 2016 releases hits I didn’t count them and they’re in no particular order but each album won in its own unique category. I don’t have any small statuettes to hand out, but I gave each of my favorite albums an award.
Places To Hide – Strange Lyfe (Irrelevant)
Best Posthumous Album: This Atlanta band broke up before releasing their second album. Great punk and post punk anthems in the vein of X, Versus and Seam.
The Intelligence – Vintage Future (In the Red)
Best Album by an Ex-Seattle Band: I say this about every Intelligence album, but it was their best record yet.
King Cyst – King of New York (Underwater Peoples)
Best Canterbury Scene Influenced Album: The Brooklyn group’s second album had me checking the release date on this whimsical beauty.
Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect (Hardly Art)
Best Post-Punk Rust Belt Album: The third LP by this Detroit band continues the upward trajectory initialized by last year’s Under Color of Official Right.
Wildhoney – Sleep Through It (Topshelf)
Best Shoegaze Album: Shoegaze has officially become a genre of music, but so few bands in the genre understand that you still need to write great songs to accompany the tremelo bar and effects pedals. That’s not a problem for Wildhoney.
The Chills – Silver Bullets (Fire)
Best Comeback Album: After years of personal struggles, Martin Phillips finally reinitialized the Chills and created masterpiece that sounds like he hadn’t been out of the game over 20 years.
Helen – The Original Faces (Kranky)
Best Album That Sounds Like It Was Mastered from a Cassette: Liz Harris aka Grouper goes down the Black Tambourine / Vivian Girls rabbit hole and emerges from a mountain top.
Shopping – Why Choose (FatCat)
Best ESG-Gang of Four Inspired Album: The London band’s second album is not vastly different from their debut except that the songs are bigger, better more tightly wound.
Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek (Fortuna Pop!)
Best Album by Large Flightless Birds: Standard Fare’s Emma Kupa switched from bass to guitar in her new band and comes up with a more rawkus but no less poignant record.
Cold Beat – Into the Air (Crime On the Moon)
Best Polar Ice Cap Melting Album: Former Grass Widow bassist Hannah Lew immerses her band into an 1980’s inspired synth pop sound that on the surface sounds cold, but has a warmth and playfullness on its underbelly that could be blamed for contributing to global warming.
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop)
Best Stream of Conscious Album: I was surprised at how polarizing this record was, it seemed like you either loved it or hated it. I was a fan of how Courtney Barnett innately was able to make her stream of conscious lyrics make sense over some incredible hooks.
Die Verboten – Die Verboten 2007 (Deewee)
Best Album from 2007: Recorded eight years ago, the Belgian Krautrock influenced collective finally got around to releasing their debut this year. As you might have guessed it sounds timeless.
Downtown Boys – Full Communism (Don Giovanni)
Best Timely Punk Album: It seemed like this Providence, Rhode Island band hit on all the top issues in America (Police Killings, Black Lives, and the 1% to name a few) on Full Communism. Add in a twin saxophone bed of chaos and you have the best pure punk record I’ve heard in a long time.
Finnmark! – Things Always Change (Beko)
Best Indiepop Album by English People Masquerading as Scandinavians: Part Cats on Fire and part Lucksmiths this erudite record caught my indiepop fancy.
Girls Names – Arms Around a Vision (Tough Love)
Best Album by a Former Slumberland and Captured Tracks Band: Girls Names slightly reinvent themselves on their third LP. It’s darker, colder bleaker and better than anything they’ve ever done.
Hooton Tennis Club – Highest Point In Cliff Town (Heavenly)
Best Album of Shambolic Anthems: Hooton Tennis Club sound like they’ve got a Pavement attitude and the pop licks of Teenage Fanclub. Formidable attributes that they employ to precise effect.
Eternal Summers – Gold and Stone (Kanine)
Best Comeback Album by a Band the Never Went Away: Roanoke, Virginia’s Eternal Summers never went away, in fact they’ve been consistently putting out records. Gold and Stone sees them taking a great leap in consistency and quality to make their best album since their debut.
Grubs – It Must Be Grubs (Tuff Enuff)
Best Album by a Joanna Gruesome Spin-off: Grubs also get an award for the shortest album of the year. These 11 songs fly by in about 20 minutes but leave a lasting impression thanks to singer Roxy Brennan sweet voice.
Hierophants – Parallax Error (Goner)
Best Devo Inspired Album: Australia’s Hierophants debut channels Chuck Berry, Beach Boys but mostly Devo to jarring effect. Disconcerting, discombobulated and disgreat.
Robert Forster – Songs to Play (Tapete)
Best Album that References Twitter: When artists incorporate references to the internet I usually cringe, but Robert Forster does it in smile inducing way on Let Me Imagine You. It was good to have one of the masters back.
Nick Hessler – Soft Connections (Captured Tracks)
Best Album by a Yay! Records Alumni: Formerly playing under the Catwalk moniker Nick Hessler decided to ‘solo’ on his debut LP. Soft Connections is a brilliant slice of Aztec Camera inspired pop.
Best Friends – Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane. (FatCat)
Best Garage Rock Inspired by Orange Juice: Best Friends’ debut isn’t groundbreaking, earth shattering or revolutionary. It’s just plain fun.
Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Happiness In Every Style (Timmion)
Best Helsinki Soul Album: Brooklyn born Willis and her Finish Soul Investigators made one of my favorite soul revival records of the year.
Day Ravies – Liminal Zones (Sonic Masala)
Best Album by a Fake Kinks Revival Band: On their second LP, Sydny’s Day Ravies shed any hint of shoegaze and go for a raw psychedelic sound and prove that they’re good at that too.
Expert Alterations – You Can’t Always Be Right (Kanine)
Best Jangle Pop Album: You can’t always be right, but at least you can sound good even if you favor sonically dissonant pop. If this is album is wrong, I don’t want to be right
Outfit – Slowness (Memphis Industries)
Best Mark Hollis Revival Album: The sophomore album from Liverpool’s Outfit was entrancing. It contained no obvious hits, but it was a record that easily commanded my interest listen after listen.
Knife Pleats – Hat Bark Beach (Lost Sound)
Best West Coast 90’s Indiepop Album: Rose Melberg finally decides to revisit her Tiger Trap and Go Sailor roots with her new band and proceeds to satisfy the soul.
The Fireworks – Switch Me On (Shelflife)
Best Buzzy Noise Pop Album: An intensely energetic debut based on a Jesus & Mary Chain, Shop Assistants and the Razorcuts. This one was right in my wheelhouse!
Sauna Youth – Distractions (Upset the Rhythm)
Best Album by a band With an Alter Ego: No their not Sonic Youth’s alter ego, Sauna Youth moonlight as Monotony. Distractions was tour de force of frantic noisy anthems influenced by the Fall and Wire.
Primitive Parts – Primitive Parts (Trouble In Mind)
Best Blur Album This Year: Male Bounding and Sauna Youth members team up for a straightforward maelstrom of sharp guitar focused punkish pop.
Valet – Nature (Kranky)
Best Cocteau Twins Impersonation: This Portland group start anew on Nature and thanks to Honey Owens ethereal voice aim for the stars.
Traams – Modern Dancing (FatCat)
Best Krauty-Shouty Album: I really liked Traams’ debut album, but Traams fine tuned their sound into controlled chaos to take Modern Dancing to the next level.
Kitchen’s Floor – Battle of Brisbane (Bruit Direct)
Best Dissonant Brutalist Album: Battle of Brisbane has topical similarities with Woolen Men’s Temporary Monument, but Matt Kennedy’s Kitchen’s Floor sounds angrier and ready for a fight.
Terrible Truths – Terrible Truths (Bedroom Suck)
Best Intensely Laid-back Album: This album had some similarities with the Shopping LP, but Terrible Truths somehow accomplish the trick of sounding tightly wound and laid back at once.
Woolen Men – Temporary Monument (Woodsist)
Best Monument to the Have Nots: Portland’s Woolen Men combine elements of Wire, the Wipers and REM to create a passionate document berating the new rich and lingering recession.
Saun & Starr – Look Closer (Daptone)
Best Surprise Album by Back-up Singers: Starr Duncan Lowe and Saundra Williams were backup singers for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. I think they will have their own permanent gig after this stellar debut.
Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again (Drag City)
Best Album to Listen to Under a Pink Moon: If you didn’t know better, you would assume that this album is 50 years old and was produced by Joe Boyd. Out of time and otherworldly.
Twerps – Range Anxiety (Merge)
Best Australian Album to Sound like It’s from New Zealand: No sophomore slump problems from this Melbourne band, in fact they appear to be a bottomless well of pop goodness.
Viet Cong – Viet Cong (JagJaguwar)
Best Ballsy album by a band with no Balls: This Canadian band take their sound from many brave sounding bans like Gang of Four, the Comsat Angels and the Chameleons. Too bad they’re waffling under pressure to change their name.
Frankie & the Witch Fingers – Frankie & the Witch Fingers (Permanent)
Best Garage Rock Album: This album made me appreciate the saturated garage rock genre again.
Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last (Castle Face)
Best John Dwyer Album of the Year: The most varied and consistent album yet from this perennial favorite.
Sheer Agony – Masterpiece (Couple Skate)
Smartest Canadian Rock Album With an Old Guy on the Cover: How smart? How about combining mod era Lilys with the skewed pop of the Shins to come up with an endlessly interesting and engaging LP. This Montreal group seem to already have mastered everything on their debut.
Willie Weird – The Scuzzy Inputs Of Willie Weird (Stroll On)
Best Album to Go Off the Deep End: Kelley Stolz’s alter ego comes up with a fractured pop gem
Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter (Slumberland)
Best Album to Supply a Vegetarian Source of Protein: The second album of jarring pop from this Cardiff group really sticks to your ribs.
Tam Vantage – Life in High Definition (Lost and Lonesome)
Best Album by a Pop Single: The debut solo album from former Pop Singles front man is a complex and accomplished record.
The Shifters – The Shifters (Comfort 35)
Best Hex Enduction Album: This was the first time I can ever remember not buying the new Fall album. I smartly spent my money on the Shifters’ cassette instead.
Tags: Car Seat Headrest, Chastity Belt, Childbirth, Detective Agency, Grace Love and the True Loves, La Luz, Pony Time, Telekinesis!, TheeSatisfaction, Unlikely Friends, Wimps, Zebra Hunt
The moss has grown another layer over the past year here in the upper left corner of the U.S. and my stack of records from this Pacific Northwest outpost has grown as well. Luckily I have a cool dry place to store them. Here are my favorite records from Seattle for 2015, center justified for your reading comfort.
My favorite album of the year from Seattle or anywhere. If you’ve been reading along this year you probably could have easily guessed that.
Unclassifiable soul, hip hop, space age record that is part throwback, part social commentary and part bravely looking into the dark distant future.
The best feminist punk rock manifesto with a since of humor since forever.
With the rise of Unlikely Friends, fans of Boat and Math and Physics Club can’t be too sad that neither of those bands released a record this year. I wasn’t.
Michael Lerner eschewed his guitars and started collecting vintage synths to create a record inspired by OMD, Postal Service and Blue Nile.
Enlisting Ty Segall to record their sophomore record La Luz continue to shoot the curl with another great set of surf rock.
Wimps dial up another batch of killer slacker punk rock anthems (if there is such a thing). Their sophomore LP Suitcase sees them getting higher marks in all categories which, given their M.O. is probably exactly the opposite of what they were going for.
The great soul revival of 2015 even reached such remote outposts as Seattle and Grace Love and the True Loves debut album was one of the best soul records of the year from any city.
I’m not sure if Detective Agency would appreciate being called indiepop, but I call ’em like I see ’em and this is some very fine indiepop!
The career of Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest reminds me of Steven Jones of Babybird. Make a bunch of songs in your bedroom and release them and then find a band to re-record the best ones and voila, instant good record rooted in lo-fi but with some new bright corners.
Apparently Fleetwood Mac has permeated the garage rock scene of Seattle. I doubt there are any complicated love quadrangles in this band since they’re a duo. They’re more focused on just delivering a bunch of killer jams.
Chastity Belt got serious on album album number two. Their first LP No Regerts was middle school lo-brow humor compared to Time To Go Home’s more mature and measured sound that is a unique combination of drone and some of that heavier rock from the 90’s for which Seattle is well known.
Tags: Seattle, Shoegaze, The Ladybug Transistor, Velocity Girl, Wildhoney
Wildhoney at the Neptune Theatre, Seattle | 17 November 2015
I always wonder if a band that makes great records can deliver them live, especially today in today’s world full of bands making albums in their bedroom on their laptop. Wildhoney proved that they are the real deal opening for a couple hard core bands La Dispute and Envy at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle’s University District. The audience was predominately young hardcore fans, but the Baltimore band seemed to win them over with their infectious blend of ethereal noisepop and shoegaze.
Singer Lauren Shusterich’s voice easily danced over the tremolo laden wall of guitars. Mid-set a girl behind me yelled out to the band “You’re sooo cute!” I think they may have momentarily blushed, but then they tore into another one of their seemingly endless supply of killer songs. The night before OG shoegazers Ride had played the same stage. I didn’t go and after seeing Wildhoney I don’t think I missed anything.
Don’t miss their latest EP Your Face Sideways (recorded by Gary Olson of the Ladybug Transistor) which evokes some serious Velocity Girl vibes.
Tags: Frye Art Museum, In the Red, Seattle, The Intelligence
The Intelligence at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle | 15 November 2015
Why are rock shows always at night and in some beer soaked hall filled with annoying inebriated people? Why can’t they be on sunny Sunday afternoons in a friendly warm room with works of art hanging on the walls and children running around instead? The fine folks at the Frye Art Museum must have wondered this as well and they decided to do something about it by inviting the Intelligence to play their Museum. The Frye is one of the few museums in Seattle to allow free admittance and they extended their gratis support of the arts by putting on this free afternoon show as part of their ongoing Genius / 21 Century / Seattle exhibition. Apparently quite a few other folks are down with this idea too, because the show’s pre-registration was full and there was quite a lengthy stand-by line of people hoping to get in. I was one of them on line and luckily I think we all made it in.
If you haven’t heard, the Intelligence have a new album called Vintage Future. It’s their eighth LP and is easily their best sounding and best recorded one. The band have been increasing their sonic fidelity with each release, though they seem to maintain the same bent humor and attitude that front-man Lars Finberg exhibited since the very first Intelligence 7-inch Boyfriends and Girlfriends back in 2000. Fifteen years is a long time to try and hold your interest, but the intelligence have continued to metamorphosize into a better and better band. As they state on the new record, they refuse to pay the dues, but they also refuse to stay the same which makes a new Intelligence album something I always look forward to.
You may also know that the band no longer call Seattle home since front man Lars Finberg moved down to Los Angeles so this show was something of a homecoming for the band. In their best museum attire (Finberg was sporting some leopard print shades and smart blue blazer that gave him the air of a Hollywood mogul), the Intelligence ripped through about 15 songs that featured many highlights from the new album as well as few classics like Dating Cops, Estate Sales and Back of the Galaxy. The set started with the moody Cleaning Lady that allowed the band to warm up the room with it’s obsessive compulsive refrain of “It’s clean, but it’s not that clean to me.” Parents immediately grabbed their kids to insert earplugs into their little ears.
The new album has a sort of morbid jauntiness to it that is interspersed with aggressive forays of punk rock. Finberg continues his deliver from his deep well of sharp self-deprecating one liners and observations of the absurd (“I’m tired of people who like me”, “I want true love that I can step out on and that I can still count on while she waits with a warm plate”, “Shitty guitars, touring in cars”). Closing the set with Romans another song from the new album, the song’s sinewy guitar rif and patience was the Intelligence at full power. It’s one of those songs that could double in length and continue to please, but they kept to its abridged form. I wonder what the people who were at he Frye to take in the art on the walls thought while the cacophony of the Intelligence bounced into them from around an unseen corner? At least the the band and its audience enjoyed this afternoon dalliance in the museum.
Vintage Future is out now on In the Red Records.
I always wondered what you do with one of those giant pumpkins. I think people wonder the same thing about vinyl records today. What do you actually do with those cylinders of petrol? After I’ve listened to them a few times I’ve found they make great dinnerware, especially the fancy colored ones. This fellow has given me an idea though. Next, I think I’m gonna save some up and try and make a vinyl boat out of them to make it through Seattle’s rainy season. Need a little something to ease you into the wetter fall weather? Here is the new basementcast. It doesn’t float and won’t keep you dry, but it does sound pretty good.
Moose – Theme From “Ace Conroy” (Hut)
Cruising – You Made Me Do That (Tough Love)
Helen – Covered In Shade (Kranky)
The Shangri-Las Leader Of The Pack (RPM)
Billy Green – Stone In A Trip (Finders Keepers)
The Suburban Homes – Conformity In The U.K. (Total Punk)
Ras G & The Afrikan Space Program – Uno Riddim (Insect)
Buck Biloxi and The Fucks – I’m Not A Whiner (HoZac)
Childbirth – Siri, Open Tinder (Suicide Squeeze)
Zaleha Hamid & The Black Cats – Nelayan Bersampan (Sublime Frequencies)
Cold Beat – Am I Dust (Crime on the Moon)
Sleuth – The Honey Is In The Hive (Jigsaw/Kingfisher Bluez)
The Chills – Warm Waveform (Fire)
The Smoking Trees – Victoria’s Garden (Ample Play)
July – My Clown (Rev-Ola)
Mild High Club – Rollercoaster Baby (Circle Star/Stones Throw)
Hooton Tennis Club – Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair (Heavenly)
Expert Alterations – You Can’t Always Be Liked (Kanine)
Woolen Men – Life In Hell (Kanine)
Places To Hide – B. Murphy (Irrelevant)
Clap! Clap! – (L) Liberty (Black Acre)
The Intelligence – Vintage Future (In the Red)
The Shortwave Set – Slingshot (Independiente)
Pugwash – Clouds (Omnivore)
Tags: Husker Du, King Kong, Minutemen, Seam, Squirrel Bait, Superchunck, The Cure, The Smiths, Versus
It’s always intriguing to hear how kids today interpret influences like the Cure, the Smiths, and the Minutemen. I like it best when it comes out sounding like something unexpected. One of the surprise records of this year has been the second album from Atlanta’s Places To Hide. The band name check all three of those bands mentioned, and synthesize it into punk-pop-emo-something that has elements of Versus, King Kong, Seam, and Squirrel Bait, but really it just Places To Hide sounding like something brand new.
The singing is shared by Kyle Swick and Deborah Hudson and I prefer Hudson’s lazy stoned delivery, but Swick is no slouch either. His Spooky Molder and Mullholland are excellent critiques on urban culture and the racist south. Hudson’s songs are more esoteric, but she has such a cool voice you spend the extra time to figure it out. Her B. Murphy is akin to Robyn Hitchcock‘s Raymond Chandler Evening, a murder mystery that you’ll never figure out.
The only bad thing I can say about this band is that I can’t believe that they had the audacity to break up before this record was even released. This album probably won’t get much attention because of their premature disassemble, but it shouldn’t stop you from being a fan of one of the best records this year.
Tags: Blur, Male Bonding, Omi Palone, Primitive Parts, Sauna Youth, The Kinks, Trouble In Mind
Much ado was made about the return of Blur earlier this year, and then after everyone heard the new record it quickly flamed out. Not surprising since it featured little of Graham Coxon’s sharp, jabbing guitar playing. If you like were hoping for something along the lines of Modern Life is Rubbish then Primitive Parts‘ debut album should do the trick.
Kevin Hendrick and Robin Christian of Male Bonding and Lindsay Corstorphine of Sauna Youth combine to create minor maelstroms of sharp guitar focused punkish pop. Sometimes a band shoots their wad on one or two singles and then releases a disappointing album. This is not the case with Primitive Parts. They deliver on the promise of last year’s two very good 7-inch singles on Sexbeat and Faux Discx, and then some!
Primitive Parts LP Parts Primitive is out now on Trouble In Mind Records
Tags: Felt, My Bloody Valentine, Shoegaze, Sinis Recordings, Slowdive, Tender Age, Wildhoney
The first Tender Age single reminded me of Felt’s Ignite the Seven Cannons. it was methodically austere and moody. The Portland band are back with their second single that shows them tweaking things just a little to deliver a warmer and more ethereal sounding record. In other words they’ve turned up the shoegaze dials on the guitars. It’s still good, but different from their first single and veers into the same sonic territory as the Wildhoney album from earlier this year. It also begs the question, how many more records do I need to buy that sound like My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse and Slowdive? I guess one more wouldn’t hurt.
You get the vinyl or download from SINIS Recordings bandcamp page.