Singles of the Year Countdown: 30-21

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.

21. Cave Weddings – Never Never Know (Bachelor)

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.

mp3: Never Never Know

22. Dum Dum Girls – Stiff Little Fingers (Hell Yes!)

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…

mp3: Stiff Little Fingers

23. Boomgates – Bright Idea (RIP Society)

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.

mp3: Bright Idea

24. The Knocks – Make It Better (Neon Golden)

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.

mp3: Make It Better

25. Fresh & Onlys – Vanishing Cream (Plastic Spoons)

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.

mp3: Vanishing Cream

26. Magic Bullets – Lying Around (Mon Amie)

San Francisco’s Magic Bullets know their 80’s as in General Public, Haircut 100 and Orange Juice.  I said it before and I’ll say it again Lying Around is like a button and I can’t stop pushing it.

mp3: Lying Around

27. Times New Viking – No Room to Live (Self-Released)

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.

mp3: No Room To Live

28. Mind Spiders – Worlds Destroyed (Dirtnap)

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.

mp3: Worlds Destroyed

29. Electric Bunnies – Pretty Joanna (Sacred Bones)

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.

mp3: Pretty Joanna

30. Internet Forever – Break Bones (Art Fag)

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.

mp3: Break Bones

[40-31] [30-21] [20-11] [10-1]

Last Time For the Cave Weddings

So this is it, the second and final single from Albany, New York’s Cave Weddings.  How gone are they, well, they’ve deleted their myspace page, effectively draping a shroud of mystery around themselves.  Last summer they came into my world with their single on HoZac and now this spring they leave it with their second single on Bachelor.  I’m not exactly sure why the band has split, though I gather that it’s because they no longer live in the same city.  You can read and interview with Erin Dorbin at Kind Turkey for clues about their demise.

Both songs on the new Bachelor single are two minute 50’s inspired rock n’ roll. The A-side is appropriately titled Last Time and is sung by Eric LaGrange and in similar of the Bring Your Love/ Let’s Drive 7″ from last year.  The flip side features Erin on lead vocals.  Both songs will have you wishing for this band to have lasted longer than the couple years and few records they did. Oh well, at least they didn’t go down in a plane crash like Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, meaning keep your eye out for what Eric La Grange and Erin Dorbin do next.

mp3: Cave Weddings – Never Never Know

Order up your copy over at Bachelor, if you’re lucky they may still have it on the beautiful lime green vinyl.

Singles Of the Year, the Top 40 Countdown (10-1)

Part 4 of 4: Here’s the mother load, numbers 10 through 1. An excellent year for the 7-inch single. I don’t think it’s been this good since sometime back in the 90’s. To me the 7″ is the perfect pop medium.  It’s immediate and somewhat inexpensive to procure one, though prices are increasing especially compared to the 99 cent mp3. Every label I ever hear discuss singles says that they’re money losers, but they keep releasing them. Obviously this kind of music has relied on the obsession of the very few since it began, and the labels putting out singles these days are doing it because they love the medium. Being an old schooler, I much prefer holding onto the record sleeve as the record spins.  I’m not sure how many kids these days are buying actual singles, I know albums are back in fashion, but the single, not so much.  If it happens, once your bitten by the bug of the 7 inch single it’s hard to find a cure. If you haven’t been bitten, check out my favorite 10 singles from this year and odds are you will be.  Here’s to deep pockets and a love of the pop rush!

1. Sea Lions – Let’s Groove (Yay!)

The Sea Lions remind me of two things: I had a cassette of Surf Classics when I was a kid that got endless play through many snowy Ohio winters on my walkman. I vaguely remember what songs were on it, but more than anything I remember the sunny-warm vibe I would get from listening to it.  The second thing they remind me of is 7 Seconds, well, more like the mellow younger brothers of 7 Seconds, a band that got me through my high school years.  The Sea Lions aren’t quite surf, not quite punk, and not quite twee.  What they are is ballsy to make the A-side of their first single an instrumental, but the Sea Lions seem to know what they’re doing. In a year where sun, surf and sand were recurring themes around the indieverse the Sea Lions did it the best. No trendy reverb or washed out vocals, just straight up pop. The instrumental Let’s Groove is punk informed version of the Ventures while the two B-sides shoot the curl of pop perfection.

mp3: Good Feelings

2. Crystal Stilts – Love Is a Wave (Slumberland)

I thought the Crystal Stilts were all gloom and doom, but this song has to be the most upbeat thing the band have ever done.  They almost sound happy, but surely not complacent. This single literally will set off sparks from your record player, or maybe it’s just JB’s guitar.  Last year the Crystal Stilts were riding high after just releasing their first album, and this single shows that record was no fluke.  In fact Love Is a Wave pretty much lays down the gauntlet for what other bands must surpass to become great.  It’s that good.

mp3: Love Is a Wave

3. Magic Kids – Hey Boy (Goner)

Hey Boy starts off with a chorus of  angelic girls singing, “Hey boy where’s your girlfriend, she needs your attention, hey boy where’s your little girl tonight?” I know I throw around Phil Spector’s name quite a bit, but this song will make you believe  he’s either out of jail or the Magic Kids went to prison to record this.  This was their first and only single, but it was so good that it had people thinking that they were contrived to fool the indieverse (We later found out that the Magic Kids are a Barbara’s spin-off band.)  How else do you explain two songs that excel so well in doing that trippy, melody laden Brian Wilson thing.

mp3: Hey Boy

4. Fergus & Geronimo – Blind Muslim Girl (Tic Tac Totally)

Fergus & Geronimo have the dubious honor of being the only band to appear twice in this year’s countdown. For being a part time band Jason Kelly and Andrew Savage (of Wax Museums and Teenage Cool Kids) have easily surpassed both of their other bands. This single, like so many other songs here, is 2 minutes 45 seconds of undeniable pop. Blind Muslim Girl is the pop side and Powerful Lovin’ is the soulful b-side. If these guys would turn up the production a bit, they could go gold.

mp3: Blind Muslim Girl

5. France Has the Bomb – Invisible Angle (Hozac)

Wow! Invisible Angle is like lightning in a jar. The riff on the A-side just slices through the air straight to my brain. I love the scratchy in your face  guitars and the big fat chunky bass solo right in the middle.  France has the Bomb were a much needed jolt of electricity in this sludgy, hazy, distortion heavy year of music.
mp3: Invisible Angle

6. Rose Elinor Dougall – Stop/Start/Synchro (Elefant)

A Former Pippette, now out on her own and all the better for it. It starts out sounding like the Divine Comedy, then morphs into sweet dancy pop that St. Etienne use to make. This was my favorite of the three single she released this year. Album due next year, absolutely can’t wait.

mp3: Start/Stop/Synchro

7. Best Coast – Sun Was High (Art Fag)

Last year the Vivian Girls seemed to set off the imaginations of a whole bunch of girls in their bedrooms who up until that point were content with listening to the Ronnettes, Shangri-La’s Crystals, Shirelles and Black Tambourine by themselves. That is no longer the case and Best Coast are one of the finest examples of the post Vivian Girls girl groups sweeping the nation. Three songs drenched in minimalist girly reverb. I’m wondering if I’ll ever tire of this stuff.

mp3: Sun Was High (So Was I)

8. Emil & Friends – Downed Economy (Transparent)

This is easily the best single that Hot Chip never released. It’s funky, so funky it’ll have you dragging your friends onto the dance floor. The b-side is nearly as good, but not in such an obvious way, more 70’s disco than 80’s sythn. Emil & Friends could be the most fun you’ll have from two sides of vinyl all year.
mp3: Downed Economy

9. The Cave Weddings – Bring Your Love (HoZac)

Cave Weddings is an appropriate name for this Albany, New York band. They’re a little rockabilly, a little Flying Nun and a little a umm, wedding in a cave. It’s a bit damp and dark, but mostly it’s a blast because you you can smash stuff up and get wild because after all, it’s a cave and you don’t have to worry about keeping the place tidy.

mp3: Bring Your Love

10. tUnE-YaRdS – Hatari (4AD)

The Tun-Yards album came out last year, but the record got picked up by 4AD and was reissued this year with bonus songs. 4AD also put out this single of one of the best songs on the album with a herky-jerky remix of Hatari on the b-side. I love the way Tune-Yards effortlessly meld African style chant into a pop song while throwing in the kitchen sing for good measure.

mp3: Hatari (Karn Remix)

[40-31] [30-21] [20-11] [10-1]