Albums of 2016

December 27, 2016 at 7:00 am | Posted in Albums, Lists, Music | 2 Comments
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bentcousin2016
1. Bentcousin – Bentcousin (Team Love)
I was genuinely surprised this record did not get more recognition, but maybe the world no longer pines for wonderful pop records? The Orange Juice meets St. Etienne album had it all, including a dynamite Dino Jr cover.

chook
2. Chook Race – Around the House (Tenth Court/Trouble In Mind)
A lot of people still worship at the alter of Flying Nun. If you are one of those folk then I’m sure you were bowing down to this record all year. Best jangle pop album since the Bats’ Fear of God.

whyteh
3. Whyte Horses – Pop Or Not (CRC)
Another record that seems to have flown under the mass media radar. Shame, because it is classic sounding stuff that shares a love of Stone Roses, Broadcast and Free Design.

cityy
4. The City Yelps – Half Hour (Odd Box / Emotional Response)
A noisy little thing full of piss and vinegar that had the lo-fi sensibilities of a Boyracer album and great story telling of Animials that Swim.

fieldmusic
5. Field Music – Commontime (Memphis Industries)
The Brewis brothers released their best record yet, heck even Prince liked it.

terrymalt
6. Terry Malts – Lost at the Party (Slumberland)
The Bay area’s Terry Malts struck pop-punk gold on album number three where they combine old school punk like 7 Seconds with post punk wonder of the Chameleons. Every song is a killer sing-along anthem.

woods
7. Woods – City Sun Eater In the River of Light (Woodsist)
Sometimes you lose track of a band after they release LP after LP of similar sounding music. On Sun City Eater the band incorporate African influences to brighten their sound and make a stand out record.

goon
8. The Goon Sax – Up To Anything (Chapter)
Brisbane teen band who count Louis Forster the son of the Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster as a member got a lot of attention for that mere fact. Due to the album contained top quality indie pop akin to Beat Happening and the Pastels the attention kept coming all year.

coldp
9. Cold Pumas – The Hanging Valley (Faux Discx)
Moody post-punk that was a perfect soundtrack to this year of the winter of our lives.

monomyth
10. Monomyth – Happy Pop Family (Mint)
Velvet Underground, the Byrds and fellow countrymen Sloan all figure into the recipe for this sublime and understated album.

kikagaku
11. Kikagaku Moyo – House in the Tall Grass (Guruguru Brain)
These Japanese renaissance men paint from a pallet of folk, psych and prog that meanders into dark fantastic places and then blasts out them into dry canyons on the California coast.

lithics
12. Lithics – Borrowed Floors (Water Wing)
This Portland band’s tightly wound, minimalist songs on Borrowed Floors always find their groove and then shatter floor.

witching
13. Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe (Soft Power/HHBTM)
The sophomore album is chock full of swirling, jagged songs with ambient interludes. A perfect combination of rough and smooch.

pooches
14. The Pooches – The Pooches (Lame-O)
I love bands that write songs about obsessing about records and the Pooches Heart Attack is perfect in that regard. Combine that with a lazy southern jangle that reminded me of REM and you have a great album.

finks
15. The Finks – Middling (Milk)
If you combine the easy going erudite nature of the Lucksmiths with the down home comfort of label mate Courtney Barnett you have this wonderful record from Melbourne’s Minks.

realnumbers
16. Real Numbers – Wordless Wonder (Slumberland)
Minneapolis’ Real Numbers finally release a full length album and their Television Personalities meets Buddy Holly inspired DIY pop is more then enough to fill two sides.

terry
17. Terry – Terry HQ (Upset the Rhythm)
Terry and the Shifters (they shared a split cassette release a few years ago) carry the Fall torch down under. Terry are the hippy-Pavement side of the coin and dial up just the right amount of dissonant yawp on their debut LP.

lionsden
18. Lion’s Den – Lion’s Den (Lazy Octopus)
Lion’s Den take their innate Swedish pop sensibilities and dirty them up with their brand of idiosyncratic garage rock, sounding sort of like the Intelligence meets Neil Armstrong.

asondas
19. As Ondas – Mares (Jigsaw)
Shopping spin off band mine some early New Order veins and insert some Young Marble Giants to create a beautifully understated record.

snails
20. Snails – Safe in Silence (Self-Released)
I’m not going out on a limb by drawing a family tree that shows Snails at the tip of the Beatles, Kinks, Kevin Ayers, Kate Le Bon family tree.

radiodept
21. Radio Dept. – Running Out of Love (Labrador)
These guys work at a slow pace so every record feels like an event. With barely a guitar in the mix this event was their mellowest outing to date, but no less arousing or compelling.

protoidio
22. Proto Idiot – For Dummies (Bad Paintings)
I’m a sucker for any Television Personalities influenced band and these guys had me plunking down some cash for their smart UK garage punk.

omni
23. Omni – Delux (Trouble In Mind)
Delux caught me off guard with its tightly wound and spiraling guitars that reminded me of Joseph K and Magazine, yet there is a slick 80’s quality to their sound that also evokes mainstream bands like Flock of Seagulls and Thomas Dolby.

hisclancy
24. His Clancyness – Isolation Culture (Maple Death)
A Classic Education’s Jonathan Clancy other band is a tour into a darker side of things. Book-ended by two excellent motorik tracks and stuffed with exquisite downtrodden pop reminiscent of East River Pipe and the Shins.

tyvek
25. Tyvek – Origin of What (In the Red)
Origin of What is not quite the tour de force that 2012’s On Tripple Beams was, but Kevin Boyer and crew still deliver. The scope is broader and their social consious punk rock addresses wider topics beyond their native Detroit. Extra points for including Tyvek Chant because every band should have their own chant.

rebelkind
26. Rebel Kind – Just For Fools (Urinal Cake)
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti group excels at jangly harmony filled wonder on their second album, combining influences like the Softies and Look Blue Go Purple.

verner
27. Verner Pantons – First Album (Curly)
The Paisely Underground is long gone, but its influence is lasting as evidenced in Portland’s Verner Pantons. Dusty psychedlia with a slight country tinge will remind many of the Syd Griffin and the Long Ryders.

katejack
28. Kate Jackson – British Road Movie (Hoo Ha)
Former singer of the Long Blonds, Kate Jackson made this album years ago with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler and there it sat until this year. Lucky for us that Kate decided to finish it. Jackson has a great voice and Butler’s guitar is a perfect compliment.

savak
29. Savak – Best of Luck In Future Endeavors (Comedy Minus One)
Once a punk always a punk and these punk veterans made one of the best politically aware records of the year. A soundtrack for taking to the streets!

lawarab
30. Lawrence Arabia – Absolute Truth (Flying Nun)
James Milne infuses his Harry Nilsson highly stylized pop with some dance beats and makes his best album yet.

ural
31. Ural Thomas & the Pain – Ural Thomas & the Pain (Mississippi)
Ural Thomas has been a fixture in the underground PNW soul scene going back to the 1950’s. This record hasn’t received the attention that Charles Bradley’s Changes has but it’s just as good if not better.

martha
32. Martha – Blisters In the Pit of Your Heart (Dirtnap)
UK sucre popsters deal in high fructose pop like Joanna Gruesome and Los Campesinos! It sounds better the louder you make it with power chords slapping you to attention and choruses that will make your head explode.

honeyradar
33. Honey Radar – Blank Cartoon (What’s Your Rupture)
If you prefer your pristine pop savaged by distortion and difficulty then Blank Cartoon will put the cobwebs into your clarity.

puberty
34. Puberty – Puberty (Born Bad)
Intelligence side project that sat in moth balls for a couple years. More tongue and cheek than the Intelligence with a decided nod to Tones on Tail, it may never have been said before, but this Puberty is fun.

hooton
35. Hooton Tennis Club – Big Box of Chocolates (Heavenly)
Produced by Edwyn Collins, the sophomore LP from Hooton Tennis Club takes the good parts of Britpop and adds their laid back style for a winning volley that sustains itself into extra sets.

quilt
36. Quilt – Plaza (Mexican Summer)
Quilt continue to hone their psych-pop on their third album and come up with their most consistent and satisfying record yet.

flyying
37. Flyying Colours – Mindfullness (AC30)
Australian shoegazerrs who like extra letters also like extra tremelo. A classic sounding record that sits comfortably next to MBV, Chapterhouse and Slowdive.

jangle
38. The Jangle Band – Edge of a Dream (Pretty Olivia)
Appropriately named Australians descending from the Rainyard and the Palisades, Edge of a Dream is a record you immediately feel comfortable with. Like an old friend you haven’t seen in years, but the conversation picks up like you saw each other yesterday.

prophet
39. The Prophet Hens – the Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys (Fishrider)
Wonderful Shapes was not as immediate as the Prophet Hens’ debut, but it has a lasting power to it. More complex and varied, it continued to delight and surprise me throughout the year.

lakeruth
40. Lake Ruth – Actual Entity (The Great Pop Supplement)
New York City’s Lake Ruth have an elegant baroque sound that feels a little bit like Broadcast meets Left Banke. Actual Entity was their debut album, yet it sounds like they’ve been at since the 60’s. A timeless sounding record with memorable songs.

Some Good EPs from 2015

December 12, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Posted in EP's, Lists, Music | Leave a comment
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The extended play record never seems to get enough credit. Few do a year end list of EP’s, and if they do it gets ignored. So what better reason to do one, right? Does it get ignored? Check. Does nobody do one? Check. Does anyone even listen to EP’s? There must be a couple of you out there, right? So here’s a grouping of my favorite ones from the past 12 months. If it came out on 10″, 12″, cassette, or was a download only of 8 songs or less then it qualified for this list.

cruising
Cruising – Cruising (Tough Love)
Buy | Listen

Cruising come from Ireland and are made up of members of Girls Names, September Girls, Sea Pinks and Logikparty. Singer Benni Johnston has a piercingly cool voice that reminds me of Siouxsie and it fits perfectly with these dark, grimy punk songs.  This EP left me in the dust.

wildhoney
Wildhoney – Your Face Sideways (Top Shelf)
Buy | Listen

As if releasing one really good album this year wasn’t enough, Baltimore’s Wildhoney follow it up with an EP that goes for the shoegaze – noise pop jugular. This EP reminds me of the 90’s UK indie scene when bands like the Boo Radleys, Ride and the Pale Saints with a seemingly endless supplies of great songs would knock off amazing EP after EP.

clapclap
Clap! Clap! – Simple (Black Acre)
Buy | Listen

Italy’s Cristiano Crisci is back with the follow up to last year’s epic Taya Bebba LP. Simple is more of the same if not a better mix of jazz, tribal beats and experimental techno dots and loops.

tufflove
Tuff Love – Dross (Lost Map)
Buy | Listen

Tuff Love duo Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear seem to effortlessly make crunchingly good guitar rock. With a nod to 90’s greats like the Breeders, Elastica and Sebadoh their Dross EP is a head bopping delight.

tahitiansons
Tahitian Sons – Manchester Based Band (Self-released)
Buy | Listen

Confusingly Tahitian Sons are from Manchester. To clear things up they called their second EP Manchester Based Band. The singer kind of sounds like someone’s granddad, but in a cool way. Their low-fi pop recalls Felt and the Fall on Quaaludes. Lullabies for old punks and indie kids who thought the world passed them by.

colorworks
Colorworks – Joyla Red (Self-released)
Buy | Listen

This is the first release for Seattle’s Colorworks, but their form of 60’s psychedelic pop is so accomplished that you might think it’s some long lost Elephant 6 band. Joyla Red evokes the sounds of Elephant 6 influences like the Zombies, Byrds, and the Kinks in its sound, but it’s not just a hollow homage. They’ve got the songs to match the sound.

redspencer
Red Spencer – Red Spencer (Deaf Ambitions)
Buy | Listen

Red Spencer’s self-titled debut is one jangle filled mellow vibe. I could probably throw out the Flying Nun descriptor and not be too far off, but they have an element of the Brewis Brothers’ Field Music to them as well. Melbourne brothers Dave and Aiden McMillian deal in timeless pop no matter what you hear as their influences.

friedaandale
Frida & Ale – I Don’t Like to See Others Having Fun (WNBB)
Buy | Listen

It was so good to hear Frida from Rough Bunnies back making a record. On this EP she teamed up with Ale of Italy’s Le Man Avec Les Lunette. Together they made a wonderful understated acoustic record about self-destructive girl friends and Bryan Adams songs.

flyyingcolours
Flyying Colours – ROYGBIV (Shelflife)
Buy | Listen

Even in the internet age releasing EP’s doesn’t merit the same attention a full length album does. Case in point is Australia’s Flyying Colours who have two masterful EP’s beautiful shoegaze noise under their belts, but seemingly few accolades. Well, here’s one. Go get this amazing record, or better yet they’ve released a CD version containing both EP’s which ends up equaling one super amazing record.

dietcig
Diet Cig – Over Easy (Father/Daughter)
Buy | Listen

New Paltz, New York boy girl duo Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman make a cute little ruckus that has it’s roots in 90’s US indiepop bands like Courtney Love, Small Factory and Tiger Trap. They’re like a breath of fresh air in this present day overwraught indie world.

dayravies
Day Ravies – Under the Lamp (Strange Pursuits)
Buy | Listen

Sydney, Australia’s Day Ravies continue their streak with this four song EP. They seemed to shed some of the shoegaze leanings of their debut for a more straightforward approach to their songs. It was no less affecting, with songs like Sleepwalk and Perennial that kept the flames alight until LP number two which followed later in the year.

alpacasports
Alpaca Sports – When You Need Me Most (Elefant)
Buy | Listen

Swedish indiepop duo follow up last year’s debut LP with more catchy light sounding pop with nary a dark or ill thought. This is innocent, virgin, pristine pop.

Bitchin-Bajas
Bitchin Bajas – Transporteur (Hands in the Dark)
Buy | Listen

Chicago instrumental outfit Bitchin Bajas deliver a great set of music that veers from motorik zone-outs to Eno inspired ambiance to ethereal Oldfield-seque ditties.

mommylonglegs
Mommy Long Legs – Assholes (Self-released)
Buy | Listen

Seattle punks on the same team as Childbirth, Tacocat and Wimps put out two EP’s this year. I picked this one because I think it contains two of their best songs. Assholes decry’s the establishment as well as anything has in the last 20 years and Weird Girl celebrates shoplifting at JC Penny and watching TV. Mommy Long Legs are the right combination of weird and pissed and funny.

Kaleidoscope of Flyying Colours

February 5, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Australia, Music, Shoegaze | 1 Comment
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flyyingcolours

One of the best EP’s to come out last year belonged to Australia’s Flyying Colours and now thanks to Shelflife Records here in the US (and Club ac30 in UK) we can hear this euphoria inducing record on vinyl. The EP contains five songs and not one of ’em could be considered filler. I remember back in the 90’s you would pick up the Melody Maker or NME and barely a week would go by when there was not some brand new blissed out guitar pop band that had just put out an amazing single. Later on they called it shoegaze (funny how we call it shoegaze today without a hint that it was originally coined as an insult.) but at the time it was My Bloody Valentine inspired hazy noise-pop.

Flyying Colours EP is destined to be grouped in with some of the classic EP’s of that golden shoegaze era. Like I said every song is killer, but WavyGravy is especially sure to please with its adrenalin shot of blistering guitars and Ride-like drony harmonizing vocals, but my favorite on the EP has to be Feathers. It jangles its way to my heart, and then bursts out of its downbeat cocoon near the end with a chorus that soars up to the tops of the trees. Along with Day Ravies, Flyying Colours are making Australia start to look like the new mecca for those in love with guitar drenched psychedelic pleasures.

Snap up this limited edition vinyl before it’s gone. You can order the Flyying Colours EP from Shelflife Records.

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