Santa Barbara’s Matinée records has a double feature of 7-inch singles for your summer listening pleasure. First up is Seattle’s very own Math and Physics Club returning with one of their more upbeat tunes in recent memory and a very eye-catching Tae Won Yu cover to boot. I think I like it when singer Charles Bert sounds a little pissed off. In fact I prefer it. Long Drag is still definitely indiepop, but it veers off the twee highway when Bert sings I’m not the one who shut you I’m not the one let you down. He sounds hurt, let down, and vengeful and he even swears! This is not the Math and Physics Club your parents knew and they are all the better for it! More like this please.
stream: Math & Physics Club – Long Drag (7-inch/download out on Matinée Recordings)
Scotland’s Bubblegum Lemonade offer up the second feature. This one is full of 12 string jangling goodness. It’s not a huge departure from previous efforts, but when you excel at honey sweet pop goodness why depart. Have You Seen Faith has the Byrds jangle and adds a little of the Stone Roses more melancholy side to the equation. Bonus points for writing the answer to Heavenly‘s Cool Guitar Boy in the obviously titled Cool Guitar Girl on the b-side.
It’s another Saturday morning, so time for another dose of jangle-pop. Last week it was Austin’s Literature. This week we go a few thousand miles to the upper right for the new single from Glasgow’s Strawberry Whiplash. It comes in the form of a 7-inch single for better aural absorption. The A-side Stop, Look and Listen is another slice of sugar coated jangle from the band, harvested from the same cane fields as early Primitives and Darling Buds records. The single serves as a preview of their upcoming album Hits In the Car and comes with two exclusive B-sides,the gentler In the Blink of an Eye and the chugging Luck Is The Residue Of Design, to further tempt you to part with your hard earned cash.
My big complaint about bubblegum as a kid was that Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba and Bubblelicious all tasted great at first but they never had any staying power. After five minutes in your mouth all the sugary sweetness was gone and rubber bands had taken its place. Scottland’s Bubblegum Lemonade have no such problem on their second album intuitively called Sophomore Release. Somehow they’ve come up with a recipe where the sugary sweetness that initially hits your pallet lasts and lasts.
Called modern pop revivalists, Bubblegum Lemonade revive Biff Bang Pow, Teenage Fanclub, touches of Darklands era Mary Chain, and even humorously reference Aztec Camera in the song We Could Send Emails. The single Caroline’s Radio made my top 40 of the year and it shows up as track one to pull you into the album, and then one man band Laz McClusky goes onto beguile your ears for eleven more songs with generous use of his 12 string Rickenbacker that rings, buzzes and jangles through these 12 songs. He knows about pacing and mixing things up though, varying the instrumentation with glockenspiel, acoustic guitar, wood blocks and harmonies. As I’ve listened to this quite a lot over the last couple weeks, the subtleties have slowly made themselves apparent like the beautiful watery Moose-like guitars on Autumn Sky and the way You Only Leave Twice sneaks itself into your head with it’s melody and flamenco guitar solo. Bubblegum Lemonade’s Sophomore Release has long lasting flavor, so much that I bet if I stick it on my bedpost it won’t lose it’s flavor overnight.
The tension builds…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 20-11.
I think we all knew how good Crystal Stilts were, but Shake the Shackles ups the ante. It lets tiny rays of brightness peak into their dark gloomy sound without any integrity compromise. The addition of the organ provides a new dimension and Brad Hargett almost sounds like he hasn’t lost all hope for mankind.
mp3: Shake the Shackles
There’s just something about a Rickenbacker and the way it hum and buzzes, and when you add into the mix a killer song, the combination is undeniable. Caroline’s Radio takes you back to another time when all three Kennedys were still alive and when you lived for the radio, and would lie in bed with the transistor to your head and of course Roger McGinn’s 12 string Rickenbacker. Of course it’s not 1964 anymore and the Jesus and Mary Chain came along at some point, and then there was Bubblegum Lemonade.
mp3: Caroline’s Radio
Found Love In a Graveyard has been floating around since 2009, but didn’t get slapped onto a seven inch until this year. That it’s still in this year’s top 40 is a testament to its longevity. Judging by its title you might think it’s good old fashioned goth stomp, but instead it’s a classic bone rattler with jangling guitars and boy-girl vocals that I’m always a sucker for. It’s 2010 now and Veronica Falls have a song Right Side of My Brain floating around, look for it in next year’s top 40.
Sometimes you find the best things in your own back yard. That was the case with Seapony who started as a Trasmittens side project, but with all the attention that Seapony are getting I bet it’s no longer a side project. Dreaming is decidedly Twee, with a sugar vein so deep and wide that it is pretty much guaranteed to induce a rush, or at least a smile.
Sometimes the sum is more than the parts, and that is the case with the Babies. Cassie from Vivian Girls and Kevin from Woods combine to form babies (not real ones, a band) and their two singles from this year were easy favorites. Meet Me in the City is a rollicking good time that sounds like it was recorded down in some remote holler in Queens.
mp3: Meet Me In the City
Another Eddy Current Suppression Ring related band (they’re hard to avoid around here), this one featuring guitarist Mikey Young and quite a departure from what you might expect from ECSR. Paranoid races down the autobahn, darting in and out of lanes, cutting you off, and flashing it’s high beams at you to get out of the way. Motorik!
The Weed Hounds present another case of the B-side usurping the single’s A-side. Beach Bummed is pleasant enough, but the band start scaling great heights on Skating Away From the Cops. I’m talking heights not reached since the Pale Saints.
18. The Tartans – West of La Brea (Yay!)
What’s west of La Bbrea? West Hollywood? Beverly Hills? The 405? The Pacific Ocean? A job? The Tartans turn all suave and sophisticated for their third single and come up smelling like roses. I’d go West of La Brea for this, not even knowing what is there.
mp3: West of La Brea
19. Wounded Lion – Pointed Sticks (Trouble In Mind)
Wounded Lion doctorin up their best Gary Glitter impersonation. Scuzzy guitars, handclaps and muppet babies on the b-side? There are far too many ‘serious’ bands around these days and Wounded Lion are definitely not one of them.
mp3: Pointed Sticks
20. Comet Gain – I Never Happened (What’s Your Rupture)
Comet Gain seem to ebb and flow. their hasn’t been an album since 2005′ s City of Fallen Leaves, but singles compilations and side projects seem to appear from nowhere at unpredictable times to lighten up my turntable. I Never happened is a sad introspective song that sees David Feck’s love unrequited and rendering him nonexistent. Heavy.
mp3: I Never Happened
It’s been a crazy week over here at Finest Kiss central. The fiber has been clogged with ace songs piping from various points of dissemination. Keeping up is a pain and a blast at the same time. To quote one of those 80’s teen movies: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So in a futile attempt to keep up, let’s stop and look around.
This has been out since sometime in March, but it just showed up in my mailbox this week. Ireland’s Girls Names do something that only Irish bands can do, and that is make gritty, anthemic indie rock. They just sold out of the second pressing of their EP that’s out on Tough Love, but you can still get the superior Captured Tracks four song 12″. They’re a little bit of A House some Power of Dreams and a whole lot of bombastic, reverbed goodness.
Joining the PENS in the post post riot grrrl UK are Trash Kit. Like the PENS they are a trio that bring to mind Huggy Bear, Skinned Teen and looking even further back the Raincoats and the Slits. Fame is a minimalist, hand clapping umm, riot.
Moving back over the US of A, Frisco to be exact. Wet Illustrated were born stoked. California-speak for indie-rock surfers. Their debut 7″ was recorded by Fresh & Onlys‘ Tim Cohen (where does he find the time?). Wet Illustrated use to be a Television Personalities cover band. I bet they know the Art Museums.
This Many Boyfriends‘ single I Don’t Like You (‘Cos You Don’t Like The Pastels) could be the trainspotters’ single of the year. Sounding like a meld of the Pooh Sticks and Art Brute and reinforcing the notion that in today’s society it’s not what you’re like, it’s what you like!
mp3: Boyfriends – I Don’t Like You (‘Cos You Don’t Like The Pastels) (pre-order from Thee SPC and be the first on you block to own it.)
I inadvertently saw Cloud Nothings at this year’s SXSW and was kinda smitten. The Cleveland band’s first album Turning On came out earlier this year and already the band is moving on. A super limited 7″ came out on Group Tightener a few months ago and now Old Flame is about to unleash the Cloud Nothings next super jangly affair.
After three singles, former Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall is ready to release a full length album. Going against the grain of her first three upbeat dancy singles she’s opted for a paranoid ballad. Will her beau find her out as a uninteresting fake or figure out that Rose is the best thing to happen to him since, well, since forever? We all know the answer to that, no?
Shark Toys are from SoCal but remind me of the Intelligence albeit a much less blown-out Intelligence and one that grew up on Shrimper Records instead of Wire the Urinals and Cabaret Voltaire. Their first single came out earlier this year on Felter Skelter and it contains a song to live your life by…Stayed up all night and I listened to records…Yeah, I kinda know about that.
Oh man, is it good to hear the Vaselines again! Last year when they played Seattle they did a couple brand new songs which gave us hope that a new album would eventually appear. Prayers have been answered, Sex With an X comes out in September on Sup Pop. Amazingly this is their first new record in 20 years. Now don’t get me wrong, I liked Eugenius and Suckle, but this new Vaselines’ song confirms the fact that they should have never broken up. Yeah the 80’s were shit, but at least they had the Vaselines.
Oh my (Talula) Gosh, The new single from Amelia Fletcher’s Tender Trap is Heavenly. Not only that, Do You Want a Boyfriend? is smart, cute(does he have to like the Jesus & Mary Chain? Yeah, that would be heaven!), packed full of harmonies and sees the band swinging back towards a more guitar oriented blast of sound reminiscent of Fletcher’s two earlier bands. The single comes on white vinyl and is out now, with a full album entitled Dansette, Dansette to follow soon.
Aias answer the question: What happens when a C-86, lo-fi, girl group goes to Spain? Answer, nothing really new, except it’s sung in Catalan. That’s not really a gripe because these three chicas from Barcelona not only have the sound down but know how to write a song too. It’s not really ground-breaking, that’s fine by me though, pushing the envelope is overrated. Their debut 7″ recently came out on Captured Tracks 7″. This song ain’t on it (but is still bueno). It’ll be on their forthcoming album due any day now on Captured Tracks.
We have Bubblegum Lemonade to thank for making this post go to eleven. Their new single on Matinée is buzzing barrel of hooks and reminds me of a young Teenage Fanclub. The A-side is a preview of the Scottish band’s upcoming second album. It’s an ode to pirate radio, that uses the Beach Boys’ Caroline Knows for some kind of double entendre. The single comes on red vinyl with two b-sides one of them Stalling and Laughing, alludes to hometown heroes Orange Juice, and is limited to 500 copies.
Back in February I got all excited about A Sad Day for Puppets. Eight months is enough time to cool off and regain my bearings, but I’m still smitten with this Swedish band. If you haven’t heard their Just Like a Ghost ep yet then you may not know what I’m talking about, but the band are giving you another chance because they’re about to release an album. It’s beautiful, fragile music that will leave you wanting to move to Sweden, if not only for the chance to see them live and in the flesh.
mp3: A Sad Day for Puppets – Little Light (buy Unknown Colors)
Back in May I was all full of vitamin C and Bricolage was just one of many Orange Juice influenced bands that I was digging. Well it seems that these Scots have gotten around to putting together an album. It’s set for release this week on Creeping Bent. In case you have missed out on their sporadic singles to date, all of them are contained on their self titled album. I hear rumors that it may even get released in the USA on Slumberland! In the meantime check out a song that isn’t on the album. If this is an outtake, the album must be pretty damn good!
mp3: Bricolage – Lucinda Said (pre-order their self title debut album)
With all the excitement and bits being spilled over the Vivian Girls you would think that they were the only all girl band carrying a torch for 60’s girl groups, the Flatmates, or the Shop Assistants. Well, Liechtenstien are here to tell you that is not the case. Not only can they play their instruments better, there is less feedback and more Spanish horns! These Goethenburg ladies have only released two singles to date, but these five songs are enough to get quite a few people excited, myself included. You can read an interview with the band over at the excellent bog All That Ever Mattered.
mp3: Liechtenstein – Security by Design (by their singles)
Okay, I know you can only take in so much new stuff at one time, but I must include the new Bubblegum Lemonade album that has just been released by the history in the making Matinee record label. Bubblegum Lemonade are a one man band consisting of Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey who also fronts another band Strawberry Whiplash. Both bands are certified C-86 with credentials like McCluskey playing a 12 string and his adoration of Tallulah Gosh, Teenage Fanclub and the Razorcuts. After putting out two 4 song eps, he’s just unleashed Doubleplusgood on Matinee records. It’s a study in the pop rush with hooks and pop goodness washing over you like a California coastal break.
mp3: Bubblegum Lemonade – Penny Fountain (buy Doubleplusgood)
I was going to stop here, but I can’t. I’m obsessed with the three minute rush of a classic pop song and the Hi-Life Companion have produced one that is essentially undeniable. This came out on Cloudberry a little while ago so it’s not really that new but it’s since sold out, so it’s rare (or something). Fear not this Bristol, England band are just about to unleash an album upon the world. They’re harmonies can recall the Beach Boys at times, but they take it a bit further, latching onto an atonal groove and combining it with a catchy melody at the same time. They may have stumbled upon the perfect prescription to write their songs into your brain waves, permanently!