Tags: Eat Lights Become Lights, Fear of Men, Gold-Bears, Haunted Hearts, Pheromoans, Protomartyr, Rat Columns, Tacocat, Tunabunny, Univers
I did a mid-year round up of my favorite records last year, so I guess I started precedent. Suffering from lazyitis, there are many records this year that I really like that I’ve somehow neglected tor write about on this blog. So without further ado, here is part one of the second annual Finest Kiss mid-year round-up. Hee-haw!
Pheromoans – Hearts Of Gold (Upset the Rhythm)
Hearts of Gold is the Pheromoans sixth album and oddly enough the first time I’ve really taken notice of this UK band. This is certainly not straightforward rock. It’s more like maze rock. They combine the eccentricities of Syd Barrett, Chris Knox, and the Fall to come up with their own weird blend of greatness.
stream: Pheromoans – Hearts of Gold
Tacocat – NVM (Hardly Art)
Sadly all of the original Ramones are now in the CBGB’s in the sky, but don’t be too sad. The original punk aesthetic is alive in well in Seattle. Tacocat’s second album is all basic riffs and simple melodies that are immediate and unforgettable.
stream: Tacocat – Crimson Wave
Gold-Bears – Dalliance (Slumberland)
Atlanta’s Gold-Bears write big crunchy emotional indierock and on their second album they’ve perfected the formula that puts them at the same level of their forebearers like the Wedding Present, Boyracer and Superchunk.
stream: Gold-Bears – Yeah, Tonight
Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Light (Hardly Art)
Endlessly inventive guitars combined with Joe Casey’s half spoken half sung narratives give this record pretty good odds of being my favorite record of the year come December. These Detroit dudes make big sounding anthems that sound like they salvaged from the gutter.
stream: Protomartyr – Tarpeian Rock
Fear of Men – Loom (Kanine)
Fear of Men debut has an aloofness to it that might strike some as too cold and studied, but singer Jessica Weiss has a effortlessly cool delivery that is like a lifeline into another world. Loom is a dreampop record that more often uses space instead of guitars for chilling effect.
stream: Fear of Men – Waterfall
Eat Lights Become Lights – Into Forever (Great Pop Supplement)
This is in the more of the same but slightly different category. Last years Modular Living was excellent krautrock inspired electronics that could easily hypnotise you. Into Forever continues this feat and is even more consistent filling out the peaks and troughs from Modular Living.
stream: Eat Lights Become Lights – Time Enough
Haunted Hearts – Initiation (Zoo)
It strange how Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles don’t really do it for me, but when Dee Dee and Brandon who are husband and wife in real life get together on record they surpass both of their primary bands. This is a concept album about S&M, but you don’t have to go through any pain to get this pleasure.
stream: Haunted Hearts – Johnny Jupiter
Tunnabunny – Kingdom Technology (HHBTM)
As Elvis Costello once and, “accidents will happen” Athens, Georgia’s Tunabunny found a synthesizer in the garbage heap and infused their indierock with some art school blips and bleeps and came up with one of the catchiest, funnest sounding records of the year.
stream: Tunabunny – Save It Up
Univers – L’estat Natural (Famèlic)
I may not know what Catalan crooners Univers are singing about, but their brand of fuzzy, cascading guitars and moody vocals is so infectious I’ve found myself singing write along. I have know idea what I’m singing, but then I never know what the Crystal Stilts are singing about either.
stream: Univers – Estàtua En Moviment
Rat Columns – Leaf (RIP Society)
Nothing really prepared me for how bright and shimmering Rat Columns second album would be. The Australian by way of San Francisco band. Leaf is part Wire 154 and part Of Skins and Heart by the Church which in my book is a delicious recipe.
stream: Rat Columns – Another Day
Tags: Alpaca Sports, Chook Race, Diät, Fear of Men, Field Mouse, King Tuff, On the Spot Trio, Pale Lights, Teacher Teacher, Teledrome
Same introduction as yesterday, but the songs are different: We all know that the pop 45 is meant to be experienced as a fleeting moment, an adrenaline rush or an emotional gush. If you love it you buy it. If you really love it you buy the album. A ton of 45′s came out this year, but it seemed like many of them were insanely limited. Downloads and streams have overtaken the popularity and utility of the 45 single for most, but some stubborn folk remain, still out there in the physical world tracking down the physical objects. I hope you had as good a year as I did. These are the top 40 singles that I dug up either in stores or from mail order over the the last 12 months.
21. Chook Race – Medicine (Self-Released)
Chook Race’s first single was a brilliant demonstration of frayed edges, wet behind the ears pop from the Melbourne band. I imagine that this is the sound Lee Mavers had in his head when he conceived the La’s. Chook Race’s Medicine seems to effortlessly jangle its way to perfection.
22. Field Mouse – You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom (Small Plates)
You might remember Frederick the field mouse who sat around and daydreamed while his buddies collected food for the winter. In the depths of winter Frederick ends up saving the mouse colony with his poetic imagery. Field Mouse dish out two very fine slices of dreampop full of great big soaring guitars and angelic vocals that quite possibly could spirit you through dark times.
23. Pale Lights – Boy Of Your Dreams (Calico Cat)
The Pale Lights have an excellent pedigree: Comet Gain, Crystal Stilts, Ladybug Transistor and the Soft City. Boy of Your Dreams cascades into your conscious with such ease and confidence you will be wondering why they are not on the tips of everyone’s tongues. Turn up your stereo and let your neighbors know!
24. On the Spot Trio – Suction (Colemine)
Even indiepop kids need some funk every once in a while. This hot little 45 by the On the Spot Trio will heat up any maudlin abode. Put it on and you’re cookin’ with gas!
25. Teacher Teacher – Campamento De Verano (Elefant)
Spanish boy-girl punk rock courtesy of the fine Elefant label. I’m a sucker for sweet and spazzy and tons of rolled R’s.
26. Alpaca Sports – Just For Fun (Dufflecoat)
Sweden’s Alpaca Sports probably have the honor of being the twee-est band on this year’s countdown, but it’s twee done right (at least by me). When Andreas Jonsson sings “I use to kiss her just for fun” it’s so saccharine sweet that you get a cavity every time you hear it.
27. King Tuff – Wild Desire (Suicide Squeeze)
King Tuff put out an album on Sub Pop packed with fractured powerpop nuggets, but this single on Suicide Squeeze was the one that I could not get out of my head for most of the year.
28. Diät – No Accent (Iron Lung)
Apparently Diät came into being when Total Control needed an opening band for their Berlin show. Made up of two Australians and one German, their pummeling debut single put out by Seattle label Iron Lung was packed full of punch. If the shocking cover doesn’t get your attention then the jet fueled No Accent which takes Devo and Wire influences into oblivion will.
29. Fear of Men – Mosaic (Too Pure)
To my constant delight there seemed to be a number of bands who were influenced by Dolly Mixture, the Raincoats and the Chills. Fear of Men appeared on the countdown last year and they return with another gem. Look for a compilation of their singles on Kanine early next year.
30. Teledrome – Double Vision (Hozac)
Calgary, Alberta’s Teledrome sound like they could have been handpicked by Daniel Miller for his Mute label. Tight guitar riffs with weird buzzy synths splattered all over the place. It’s been done before, but it’s been a while since I’ve heard it done so well.
Tags: Caucus, Fear of Men, Fidlar, Games, Ice Choir, Lenz, McDonalds, Seacats, Tunabunny, UV Race
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 first installment of the annual Finest Kiss top 40 7-inch singles countdown.
31. Games – Don’t Look For Her (Robs House)
At first I thought this sounded like the Super Fury Animals, but then I got to thinking that they both just have a thing for the acid tinged side of the Kinks and a Rasperries fetish.
mp3: Games – Don’t Look For Her
32. Tunabunny – (Song For My) Solar Sister (HHBTM)
Lo-fi to the core, but writing songs that transcend any recording fidelity. Half of me thinks they should get Steve Albini to record their next record, but the other half thinks they don’t need Albini. Albini needs them.
mp3: Tunnabunny – (Song For My) Solar Sister
33. Lenz – Leaving (The 21st Century) (SS Records)
The Bay area’s Lenz is just one of Andy Jordan’s bands that looks to the 80’s for inspiration. Leaving sounds like it could have been on The Sound’s From the Lion’s Mouth. It’s that good.
mp3: Lenz – Leaving (the 21st Century)
34. Fidlar – Wake Bake Skate (White Iris)
Whenever I have a day off this song is the soundtrack to my day. You can find me at one of a number Seattle’s skate parks with this on a cassette blasting out of my boombox. Is it 1985 again? Damn!
mp3: Fidlar – Wake Bake Skate
35. Fear of Men – Ritual Confession (Italian Beach Babes)
Fear of Men first caught my attention with their cover of the Chills’ Pink Frost, but this, their debut single kept it. Their dreampop reminds me of Lovelife era Lush after they had shed their shoegaze origins.
mp3: Fear of Men Ritural Confession
36. Seacats – We Don’t Sleep (Fin)
There’s a bridge in Longview, Washington called the Nutty Narrows Squirrel Bridge. Apparently it’s there to help squirrels cross a busy downtown street. Kelso is just across the Cowitz River from Longview which is where the Seacats are from. No songs about quirky squirrel bridges here, just saccharine power pop. The band pluck two of the finest tracks from their internet album Metal Music and quickly join the ranks of Northwest’s top tier power pop bands.
mp3: Seacats – We Don’t Sleep
37. McDonalds – Name Names (State Capital)
Does Brooklyn have drive-thru’s? You know, to get your e’s. If they do McDonalds can probably give you directions. This one’s for all the 24 Hour Party People that were born 20 years too late.
mp3: McDonalds – Name Names
38. Ice Choir – Two Rings ( Shelflife)
Pains of Being Pure at Heart drummer Kurt Feldman’s latest band are one big ode to the 80’s. Scritti Politti and Prefab Sprout to be exact. Destoyer should get them for their opening band.
mp3: Ice Choir – Two Rings
39. Caucus – Wandering Ones (Cloudberry)
This kind of sounds like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but Japan’s Caucus aren’t aping them, they just have the same set of influences as that more well known band and implement them in slightly different way (The B-side is a cover of Rocketship’s I Love You Like the Way That I Used To Do).
mp3: Caucus – Wandering Ones
40. UV Race – Acid Trip / Speed Freak (Sweet Rot)
Australia’s UV Race sound like Brix era Fall on this druggy single. Both Acid Trip and Speed Freak sound exactly as you would expect, that is trippy and freaky. Wonderful and frightening.
mp3: UV Race – Speed Freak