Wild Nothing‘s Nowhere single from last year was an obvious tribute to the Go-Betweens. Australia’s Dick Diver have done one better. An entire album that could be construed as a tribute to that great band. The Melbourne quartet is the primary band of Rupert Edwards and Al McKay. They get help from the moonlighting Steph Hughs (Boomgates) and Al Montfort (Lower Plenty, The UV Race, Total Control and Straightjacket Nation). All four members contribute songs to the record which provides some variety, but for the most part they are all on the same chapter in the same book. Calendar Days their second album, came out in March to a quiet reception over hear in the US mostly because they don’t have a record label here.
They have been described by some as Australian strummy music. I’m not sure if it was meant as a compliment or not but it captures their sound in a nutshell. Doesn’t everyone love a good strum once in a while? What does strummy actually mean? In the case of Dick Diver: blue, laid-back, playful and breezy. They will make your heart ache. In fact, they could have put a sticker on the cover stating: Warning. May cause slight bouts of melancholia. There is nothing wrong with being blue though. Sometimes you need a little dose of the blues to make you appreciate the better times and this record seems to tug you into reflection with its easy melodies. Many bands worry about a sophomore slump, but Dick Diver sound like they really know what they’re doing the second time around.
stream: Dick Diver – Lime Green Shirt (from Calendar Days out on Chapter Music in Australia)
Here’s the list of my favorite albums outside of Seattle for 2012. You may think it’s late, but you should know I got it done before the Russian New Year. Kevin Shields, you still have a few more days.
Exlovers had my favorite single of 2011 and now my favorite record of 2012. Their debut album is a dreampop masterpiece that was a long time coming from this London band. I didn’t think I would ever hear a record this accomplished after the shoegaze/dreampop heyday of the 90’s. I hope that this album being criminally ignored by nearly everyone does not deter this amazing band from persevering and making another one.
This is an off the rails punk rock concept album about Tyvek’s hometown of Detroit and its urban blight slowly being turned back into an agrarian based metropolis. On Triple Beams sees Tyvek living up to the promise of their early singles and then exceeding it.
The half sung half spoken delivery of Eddy Current Suppression Ring frontman Brendan Huntly may be an acquired taste for some, but combined with Steph Hughes’ sweet croon and songs that bring to mind the brilliance of the Go-Betweens Double Natural is a sure winner.
Hospitality effortlessly do cocktail jazz, indiepop and smooth pop, but you get the feeling that they are pulling their ideas from a larger pallet that includes some things that you wouldn’t expect like Steely Dan, Randy Newman and Todd Rundgren to name a few and that is what makes this record sound so familiar but different at once.
Frankie Rose sloughed off the distortion and kicked it into hyperdrive on her second album. Slick space-age pop that I imagine if we still had a Space Shuttle program, would be playing in the cockpit on every lift off.
Seems like anything coming out of Melbourne in 2012 was worthy. Fergus Miller’s (aka Bored Nothing) take on bedroom pop went from sad and introspective to blissed out dreampop. More than just another bedroom pop record and more than worthy.
Not speaking a word of Swedish did not stop me from loving Bäddat För Trubbel’s second album. They employ influences like Eddy Current Supression Ring and Blumfeld and they aren’t afraid to have a guy who plays saxophone the band. True punks!
Det här jobbet:
13. The Intelligence – Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me (In the Red)
Mad thinker Lars Finberg upped and moved his band from Seattle to LA. The only thing I can complain about is that they don’t play Seattle as much any more. Otherwise, the Intelligence deliver another fractured masterpiece.
Parquet Courts deliver a taut cow punk record out of seemingly nowhere. The proverbial new kid in town Andrew Savage formerly of Fergus & Geronimo moved to Brooklyn, started a new band and came up gold.
Eternal Summers seem to grow leaps and bounds with each release and Correct Behavior continues their upward trajectory. Nicol Yun’s songs get better and bigger sounding and when she lets the drummer have some like on Girls In the City it’s like the frosting on the cake.
I love how after I listen to this album I feel like I have to wash the filth from body. Richmond, Virginia’s Super Vacations know the ins and outs of getting down and dirty and this record is an expressway to those dirty depths.
Don’t let Philadelphia’s Tough Shits fool you. They want you to think that they’re a bunch of irreverent slackers, but their mothers know that their tender pop loving hombres and this record is all the proof you need.
Cats and Dogs:
22. This Many Boyfriends – This Many Boyfriends (Angular)
The debut album from Leeds’ This Many Boyfriends is love song to records, love songs and misfits. Sometimes songs that are meant to be funny wear off quickly, but this album isn’t too funny for its own good. It’s merely poignant.
Portland, Oregon resident Paul Dickow has many personas. His album using the Strategy moniker was a playful take on electronic music that took notes from Ultramarine and Yello in the way it incorporated pop songs with dub, kraut and weird.
Either I’m still drinking the Kool-Aid or Lansing, Michigan’s Peoples Temple are. Their second album ups the dose and rattles the psyche. The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request was a good psychedelic record. Peoples Temple start with that blueprint and out psych the Stones and everyone else for that matter.
On Chain and the Gang’s third album leader Ian Svenonius gets a little more playful. He shares vocals with new member Katie Alice Greer and records the entire thing in mono. Kind of throwback but these ears, timeless.
27. Crushed Stars – In the Bright Rain (Simulacra)
In the Bright Rain lives under gray skies and rains down melancholia and cascades of guitars to beautiful effect. Being lonely, sad and out of sorts hasn’t sounded this good since the At Swim Two Birds album back in 2009.
On his second album, Montreal’s Mac DeMarco delivers a batch of skewed guitar pop gold. He seems be to posses the songwriting sensibilities of Nilsson, Lennon, Ayers and T Rex and he may be just as eccentric as them too.
Holy cow! There’s a crazy amount of great music happening in Australia at the moment. The epicenter seems to be the city of Melbourne. It’s like a rat colony down there, where the band population seems to be multiplying exponentially. You have likely already heard about the Twerps, Boomgates, Woolen Kits possibly Dick Diver and a few others, but that is only the tip of the old iceberg. If you live in that city and love janglepop it must be a veritable treasure trove just waiting to be pillaged. If you don’t live there prepare to bust out your credit card because the exchange rate along with shipping costs will make you a lot lighter in the wallet.
Mess and Noise an excellent Melbourne based site had a feature on the Melboure scene back in September that covered 17 bands and pretty much covered it all. So really all I’m doing here is reiterating what they’ve already said, but if you’re like me, sometimes it takes hearing the same thing from more than one place to make you sit up and pay attention and what is going on in Melbourne is well worth paying attention to.
Chook Race remind me of the La’s, only more rough around the edges. Probably what Lee Mavers originally had in mind since he has often disparaged his lone album as being over-produced.
Bored Nothing were only an honorable mention in the Mess and Noise article, but that was before the their self-titled album on Spunk records had come out. Fergus Miller is a one man band that has made quite and album that is part dreampop, part moody Elliot Smith. mp3: Bored Nothing – Popcorn (Bored Nothing’s album came out last week on Spunk records.)
Bitch Prefect aren’t Melbourne natives, they migrated from Adelaide, but that lends all the more legitimacy to the scene when bands what to move to a City where everything’s happening. Bitch Prefect’s album Big Time came out earlier this year on Bedroom Suck. It has a ramshackle vibe that is part Wreckless Eric and part Clean.
Bitch Prefect’s debut LP came out earlier this year on Bedroom Suck.
The Stevensmay be Melbourne’s worst kept secret. I’ve heard from multiple places that this band is the best band in town. Their ramshackle melodies have some Clean, Pavement and some Lemonheads (or Smudge if you roll that way) in them. mp3: The Stevens – Alone
The Stevens have and EP you can download for free from their facebook page.
Cat Catare another transplant, this time from the capitol Canberra via Chicago. They sound like they could have been on the Summershine label back in the day. A little bit of Ripe mixed in the with the Earthmen and some Sea and Cake?
Cat Cat’s most recent album came out last year on Dream Damage and is available from their bandcamp site.
Pop Singles often get compared to the Go-betweens. That was enough for my ears to prick up. Their album All Gone out on Vacant Valley sounds like a very young Go-Betweens, all wide-eyed, head of full steam and obsessed with Dylan, Jonathan Richman and Velvet Underground.
Debut album is out on the Vacant Valley label which is run by bassist Pop Singles’ bassist Peter Bramley.
There is something about certain Australian bands and records: The Go-Betweens‘ 16 Lovers Lane, Paul Kelly and Coloured Girls‘ Gossip, the Triffids’ Born Sandy Devotional, the Church‘s Of Skins and Heart, the Lucksmiths‘ Warmer Corners, the Saints‘ I’m Stranded, Twerps‘ debut, Eddy Current Suppression Ring‘s Rush to Relax. A diverse set of albums, but all them have something about them that sets them apart and makes them distinctly Australian. They have a sense of urgency and isolation, a poetry about them and a way of sounding laid-back while singing about intense and decidedly unlaid-back topics in their songs. Yes, you could argue that the Saints and ECR don’t sound laid back, but the Saints brand of punk had a sense of space and playfulness about it (especially on their second album) that set it apart from your typical punk band of the day.
The Boomgates debut album released earlier this month on Bedroom Suck deserves to be included in this list of great Australian records.It’s a ray of sunshine, a faded photo, a favorite tattered shirt, a perfect companion and a kick in the pants. So good, I had to go track by track to review it.
Flood Plain – could be about a relationship, the downfall of our civilization or simply about how some people inexplicably build their houses in flood plains. The take-away of course is don’t think it can’t happen to you because the next 100 year flood is right around the corner.
Layman’s Terms – This gets a dust off from last year’s 7-inch, but even I, who listened to this song way too many times on a 7-inch have not grown tired of this beauty that harkens back to the Go-Betweens beauty.
Cows Come Home – This one reminds me a little of a Bats or Magic Heads song (“Hold all the butter till the cows come home” anyone?). Steph Hughes voice is so sweet on this, Huntly’s spoken word part lends some gravity, and the line “Because I’m a hundred years old” lends a sense that this was written by an old soul
Natural Progression – The guitar riff sounds like a super slowed down ECR song. “I got stuck in a lift went down”. Huntly and Hughes sing the entire song together and there are parts where it sounds like he’s dominating and parts where she does. There are some great harmonies that remind me a little of Free Design and Veronica Falls. Self-doubt ensues, “I’m making mountains out of mole hills”
Cartons and Cans – A song about recycling? No, of course not. “There are so many things I should do that should have already done.” The whistling is flawlessly done. Any band that can incorporate a whistling part and not make you cringe is operating at higher level.
Whispering and Singing – Side two kicks off with a freight train through the bedroom. Huntly sing’s “Don’t know when you’re leaving” and it sounds like a train whistle while the rhythm section chugs along. Firehose wrote a song called Whisperin’ and Hollerin’. Whispering and Singing probably has nothing to do with Firehose, but it reminds me of them and this is a good thing. Boomgates are ragin’ full-on here.
Hold Me Now – Not the Thompson Twins song. This is a nice one, but it’s kind of a break from the full-on, no let up that this record has been to this point. Even a lesser song by the Boomgates sounds pretty good. Expertly sequenced to allow for a rest, and quite a nice siesta it is.
Hanging Rock – Jangly into. “I gave it all with my genuine leather, you gave me more with your 100% cotton blend.” Friends become lovers, pull their socks up to picknick at a Hanging Rock and then fall apart. Infatuation and those first moments. Newness and the constant search for that initial feeling. Fleeting. That’s why it’s so great. Anything that good and intense will never last. Well maybe it will if you pull your socks up and keep listening.
Everything – “All the dishes keep piling in the sink”, reminds me of my college days. Living with five other guys and no one would do their dishes. Man, it made me feel like dying old. The drums keep building and building while the guitars get more intense. Finally either someone dies or does the dishes. I’d like to think that he did the dishes before he died.
Any Excuse – Every album needs a great closing song. Actually does it? Does anyone listen to a record all the way through in a sitting. I do, and I appreciate it when a band has the sense to put a song at the end that sounds like it should go at the end. The guitar sounds like it was directly lifted from the Velvet Underground which is no bad thing. It also has a little bit of a honky-tonk feel to it. Huntly ends up in a two minute refrain about turning the soil, watering your garden, giving it love, and watching it grow. Amen!
The Boomgates album is out in Australia. If you live there hit up Bedroom Suck. In the States head to Goner or Amazon if you’re looking for mp3’s.
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 fourth and final installment of the annual Finest Kiss top 40 7-inch singles countdown.
Exlovers have been around since 2007 and have a couple singles and an EP under their belt, but nothing that reaches the heights of this amazing single. Blowing Kisses breathes the rarefied air that Chapterhouse was imbibing around the time of Whirlpool. Flip it over and the B-side Moth-eaten Memories is just as good but shows that they can do more than just write a go-for- the-jugular pop song. They do epic well too.
Brendan Huntly gets his punk rock barbaric yawp kicks in his other band Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Boomgates showcase sensitive side. There’s a little Go-Betweens, a little Mekons and some Comet Gain in their songs. Layman’s Terms has this plaintive yearning sound with just enough muscle to carry it through.
Nick Waterhouse is maybe a kid genius, or just an old soul in a 24 year old’s body. He’s obsessed with old obscure 45 singles and hangs out with Ty Segall and isn’t afraid to use the Saxophone. Is That Clear is an intense, crisp and surprising single from someone his age. He adeptly uses horns, piano, and back up singers to killer effect. A cover of Them’s I Can Only Give You Everything is a good indicator of where he’s coming from. He’s got an album in the can due out in April. Can’t wait.
The jangly guitar intro of Miracle makes me wonder if Chicago has some kind of Paisley Underground. Probably not, paisleys don’t grow in the frozen tundra, or maybe they do. They’re kind of like magic mushrooms, you just have to know where to look. Look no further than Miracle, it’s euphoria inducing.
Glasgow’s Golden Grrrls released two high quality singles this year. New Pop just edged out their first single Beaches in my book. Why? Because its hyper guitars and girl-boy vocals easily induced wild dancing and general craziness in my house whenever it was played, that’s why.
Blistering guitars and the cool killer voice Katherine Whitaker make for an undeniable combination. It’s hard to believe that this was Evans the Death’s first ever single. They sound like they must have known what they were doing at inception. This record pulls from so many great bands that have gone before to create something fresh sounding. I want to know what documentary it is that Whitaker sings about that she should not have watched. My guess is Faces of Death.
This was a tour only single which is a pity. It’s like preaching to the converted. Anyone showing up at a Limiñanas gig already knows this French band can cut a groove plus large que La Manche, and this record does exactly that. It also gives their label the perfect theme song. Bonus!
The idea behind Puberty was for Intelligence duo Lars Finberg and Susanna Welbourne to shed their instruments and front a band of ringers. Haskins, Ash and J weren’t available so they got Hernandez, James, Church and Jaworski (sounds like a law firm) for their band. Invitations sounds spacey and remote, and it slithers around just enough to be freaky. In a year where there were no releases from the Intelligence, this will more than do.
Boomgates, the Australian supergroup for trainspotters are back with their second single, this time on the San Francisco label SmartGuy Records. Last year’s Bright Idea was a beauty and their second single is like it’s better looking sister. Boomgates are Brendan Huntly who you will undoubtedly be familiar with as the singer of Eddy Current Suppression Ring teaming up with Steph Hughes of Dick Diver as well as member of the Twerps, Teen Archer, and Trial Kennedy.
Layman’s Terms is my favorite of the two songs. The combination of Huntly and Hughes reminds me of the Mekons and Comet Gain, and the song itself is firmly rooted in a lineage that can be traced back to Brisbane’s Go-Betweens. With a song like Layman’s Terms, the other side could be crap and it would still be a great single, but instead it’s the driving more Eddy Current like Nothing which works itself up into quite a maelstrom and leaves you with no other option than flipping the record over for another go. I hope these guys have a stash of songs that they’re sitting on just waiting to unleash on us, because these two singles have really got me wanting a lot more from the Boomgates. mp3: Boomgates – Layman’s Terms (Order up a copy of the record from SmartGuy Records)
I bought way too many seven inch singles this year. I’m not trying to brag. It’s a problem really. The seven inch is like crack to the record geek, a fleeting moment of pop perfection and then it’s off to either flip the record or put on another one. This was a daunting task this year and I feel like I left out a lot of stuff, but a top 60 would have been too much and limiting it to 40 makes you have to really decide, what were your favorite singles of the year. Here are numbers 30-21.
Sadly this will be the last time the Cave Wedding appear in the countdown. Prior to releasing this single they called it quits and wiped their MySpace page from existence. Fortunately we have this single and last year’s Hozac one to remember them. Powerpop is rarely done this well and Never Never Know ranks up there with Nerves and the Beat.
I’m not sure why this Dum Dum Girls single won out over Bang Bang I’m a Burnout or Jail La La, because surely both of those singles are worthy. Maybe I’m capricious. Maybe I just like being a contrarian. Maybe it was because the melody cut like ice. Maybe it was the overt reference to the Stiff Little Fingers…
Those Eddy Current guys are busy dudes and side projects seem to pop up from the Supression Ring like dandelions in green grass. If not for the like-minded blog the Creative Intersection I would have most certainly missed this record. Bright Idea doesn’t tread too far from ECSR, but on the B-Side the Boomgates get their Comet Gain on. Jeez, they had me at the A-side.
Everyone has their guilty pleasures and the Knocks’ Make It Better is mine. Otherwise known as the rump shaker in this year’s list. Yes, my ears have been ruined over the years with too much shoegaze and garage, but they’re not totally gone and this song makes them prick up whenever it comes up on shuffle or on some playlist I’ve made. Bust out the disco ball.
As I kid I always was sending off for stuff from the advertisements in the backs of comic books. I got a pair of x-ray specs that didn’t work, and some invisible ointment that was a bust. If the Fresh and Onlys would provide an address I would send off for this Vanishing Cream of which they speak, as it is I just send them money for records.
So it finally happened, Times New Viking turned down the distortion and let us hear the melody. Did they get tired of their bleeding in the red sound? Is this just a dalliance? Will they be playing their drums with brushes and using a ukulele in the future? Only time will tell, but for now there is this tender Beth sung A-side.
I love how the cover of this single evokes some kind of nerdy rockabilly goth image in my head. Worlds Destroyed with its watery Morricone intro quickly transitions to a punk rock ballad for punks that wear eyeliner and go to rodeos. I’m not in that category, but could easily be swayed.
No countdown is worth its salt without a Spacemen 3 inspired single on it. Lucky for us the Electric Bunnies chose that style for their only outing this year. Buzzing, hissing guitars plunge the depths of the earth. These guys may not be from Caerbannog, but they are killer bunnies nonetheless.
So this is what it’s come to, eh? Bands naming themselves after the internet. I haven’t looked lately, is there a band named Hootie and the Wikis yet? Internet Forever’s Break Bones is good enough to overcome their unfortunate band name. This song has been floating around on the afore mentioned internet since sometime last year, and fortunately Art Fag saw fit to put it on a slab of wax. I said back in August of 2009 that they evoke the beauty of the much underrated It’s Jo and Danny. I hope they don’t wallow in obscurity like Jo and Danny. A few more singles of this quality and maybe they won’t.