Singles of the Year Countdown: 30-21

The 7-inch single has been around since 1949. That’s 62 years and counting! In my humble opinion the 7-inch single is still the essence, pinnacle and acme of pop perfection. Optimally, it’s one song, one side (Some try to squeeze on more). That’s no room for screwing up. You always hear that releasing a 7-inch is a money losing proposition, but that thankfully, doesn’t keep pop geeks from doing it. In honor of true blue pop geek vinyl junkies out there, here is the second installment of the annual Finest Kiss top 40 7-inch singles countdown.

21. Basemint – No Retro (K)
A huge sounding garage stomp from the depths of a damp Tacoma, Washington basemint, I mean basement. I bet the Sonics probably use to practice in the same depths.
mp3: Basemint – No Retro

22. Electricity In Our Homes – Aching, Breaking, Shaking For You (OGenesis)
Fractured and angular pop that is stripped down to the bone. Aching rattles you with its off kilter and quivering chorus like the singer has been hit in the gut and kicked in the head.
mp3Electricity In Our Homes – Aching, Breaking, Shaking For You

23. Art Museums – S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G (dulc-i-tone)
The Art Museums broke up this year but left us with two great singles to remember them by. The song S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G has been hanging around the internet for over a year, but things always sound better when they spin at 45 RPM. This song should be on repeat while you wait in the return line, “It’s too late to change your mind, so be happy with what you find.”  It would be at my store.
mp3Art Museums – S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G

24. BOAT – (I’ll Beat My Chest Like) King Kong (Magic Marker)
BOAT write hooks as big as King Kong. ‘Nuff said! They also know that the single version of a song should be slightly different than the album version. Here, you get a slightly longer King Kong sample. It’s the little things. You know?
mp3: BOAT – (I’ll Beat My Chest Like) King Kong

25. Bleached – Searching Through the Past (Suicide Squeeze)
Bleached are sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin. Jennifer was in Mia Miko, but that doesn’t prepare you for the straight ahead pop that goes for jugular the way the Nerves did 40 years ago.  It is very, very difficult to not get this one stuck in your head.
mp3Bleached – Searching Through the Past

26. Monnone Alone – Pink Earings (Lost & Lonesome)
It was kind of surprising that the first Lucksmith to release a record after their breakup was bassist Mark Mannone. I figured it would Marty or Tali, but when you’re sitting on song like Pink Earings then you gotta go first. Sublimely understated pop that will make you grin.
mp3Monnone Alone – Pink Earings

27. Afternoon Naps – Summer Gang (HHBTM)
This record get’s best sleeve of the year (The water folds out in 3D). They don’t make them like this anymore and I don’t just mean the sleeve. The Afternoon Naps may be from dreary Cleveland, but they make sunny pop that some might call twee. I just call it good.
mp3:  Afternoon Naps – Summer Gang

28. The Mantles – Raspberry Thighs (SDZ)
The Mantles have yet surpassed their amazing song Lily Never Married, but Raspberry Thighs comes close. In fact it probably could be considered Lily’s kid sister of a song, and that is no slight.
mp3The Mantles – Raspberry Thighs

29. Dunes – Tied Together (Teenage Teardrops)
Another Mika Miko related band, Dunes mine the gothic and ethereal vein of pop that Siouxsie and the Banshees are well known for. Tied Together paints wide swaths and is much, much bigger than the tiny 7-inch that it comes on.
mp3Dunes – Tied Together

30. Trailer Trash Tracys – You Wish You Were Red (Domino)
This one is kind of a repeat as You Wish You Were Red was the B-side to the Trailer Trash Tracys’ first single Candy Girl which was #40 in the 2009 countdown. No matter, as this is an entirely re-recorded version of that song that keeps the eerie David Lynch parts but smooths out the edges to make it just right.
mp3Trailer Trash Tracys – You Wish You Were Red

Painting the World in Analog

Athens, Georgia’s Happy Happy Birthday To Me seems to keep quietly releasing stellar music and the latest batch of singles is no different. Here’s the evidence:

Cleveland’s Afternoon Naps will get you ready for summer with a double A-side (there’s no B-side on this record, both songs are on one side so you don’t have to flip). Jangling guitars, swirling organ and pastoral melodies abound. The sounds are so smooth and sugary sweet you forget that this is coming from the rust belt. I think I’m partial to Short Sleeves and it’s nod to the Free Design and its mysterious refrain of ‘short sleeves they are mocking me.’ Are her arms so undeniable, or is it because she can wear them in the winter sun?
mp3: Afternoon Naps – Short Sleeves (get the single from HHBTM)

Orca Team are from Portland, Oregon, but play Seattle more than most Seattle bands. Their self-released album from last year had many highlights but my favorite was Vancouver, BC a song where they scoff at Seattle for being not that great. Go figure. Pacific Northwest rivalries aside, they’ve plucked Vancouver, BC and slapped it onto a 7-inch giving it  rightful single status. The two b-sides were recorded live, Take My Hand being a new one. One of my favorite bands in Pacific NW right now.
mp3: Orca Team – Vancouver, BC (get the single from HHBTM)

Eureka California hail from Athens, Georgia, but have named themselves after a town in California. This trio look to the currently popular 90’s indie rock scene for inspiration and sprinkle their hooks with a little supergrass and pixie dust. I kind of wasn’t sure about this record at first but its nerdy grittiness has endeared it to me.
mp3: Eureka California – Modern Times (get the single from HHBTM)

Psych Pop Week: Afternoon Naps

The Bennefits of Afternoon Naps
Image by Daniele Young taken from the Afternoon Naps MySpace

Welcome to day three of psych pop week here at the Finest Kiss. No we won’t be going down memory lane talking about bands like the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Love, Left Bank, the Elephant 6 Collective, or Witch Hazel. Instead we’ll be covering some new records that dip their feet into the psychedelic ink jar.

Day three takes us to Cleveland, Ohio and the Afternoon Naps.  Their second album is called Parade, and has just been released by Happy Happy Birthday to Me on limited edition CD and LP (their 2007  album Sunbeam was self-released).  You may not equate Northeast Ohio with psychedelic pop, but there is some precedence in bands like Youngstown’s Human Beinz and the afore mentioned Witch Hazel who were from Kent. Parade  is a study in sublime pastoral sunbeams, and just the thing to help you get through the gray cloudy days of winter.  It’s bright pop hooks and production are along the same lines of the Essex Green and Ladybug Transistor.  In the indiepop universe studies have shown that listening to the Afternoon Naps is more effective than light treatment in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, so go ahead put it on an brighten not only your day but your outlook on life.

mp3: Afternoon Naps –  Bubblegum 45 (from Parade, buy from HHBTM)