I’m usually not a fan of split singles or split releases due to the strong possibility of having to pay twice as much for half of what I want, but if ever there was a split release that shoots a that theory to shit it is this Ginnels & Tangible Excitement! split 12″. Tangible Excitement! is Scott Stevens of Summer Cats, Stew Anderson of Boyracer and Mark Monnone of the Lucksmiths along with some help by the likes of Gary Olsen (Ladybug Transistor), James Hoare (Ultimate Painting/Veronica Falls) and Jeremy Underwood (Gold-Bears). It’s an all-star lineup with a performance to back up their stats. Opener Northland Food Court has a Love Forever Changes vibe to it courtesy of its Mexican tinged acoustic guitar riff and Olsen’s trumpet. It’s a stunner and worth the price of admission, but there’s more. Baby’s Seen This Scene Before has the sound of an indiepop classic and Effectively Wild is the almost Boyracer-like with it’s buzzy guitars knocking another one out of the park.
There’s no time to catch your breath unless your’re slow to the turntable to flip the record because the Ginnels side ain’t no minor league fare. Mark Chester is a prolific fellow who has a number of releases on cassette and recently a few on vinyl via Tenorio Cotobade. Here we get three great new Ginnels songs. Easier When I’m Gone has a chorus that is part Teenage Fanclub and part Superchunk and easily get’s stuck in your head. Whew! Reason To Be Helpful might just be my favorite Ginnels song yet with its thumping soulful bass, cool lazy guitar riff and super furry vibes. This is one split release you need to buy two of so you can file one under Ginnels and the other under Tangible Excitement!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
About a week ago Atlanta’s Gold-Bears let it be known via their Twitter feed that people should check out fellow Atlantans Small Reactions. I follow Gold Bears for a reason, so I clicked the link. Cue cracking songs with buzzing guitars and big hooks (I’m such a sucker for this kind of thing). I’m hooked and a nascent super-fan after one song.
Small Reactions have been around for a few years but only released their first single (self-released) late last year which you can download for free over at their Bandcamp. Single number two is set to be unleashed in August and it’s another corker. The A-side, Nerve Pop starts surfy and then gives way to jangle and then to a big payoff chorus. There’s no mistake, this is pop done right. On the B-side they let loose, starting out in a noisy maelstrom that morphs into a groove that would make the Eddy Current Suppression Ring sweat. Wow these guys can bring it. Line up at you local record shop (if you still have one) for this one.
Atlanta’s Gold-Bears are back with another 7-inch slab of pop. This time it’s a four song ep on Cloudberry. Their pop still pops and comparisons to Boyracer, Wedding Present and bands that recorded in Mitch Easter’s Drive-In Studio still apply. Gold-bears have this knack for jamming their size 10 guitars into a size five widget which gives them an endearing warped crunchy tone that jars and soothes at the same time. So Natural is the best of the lot here with a good chorus and ringing guitar solo. I also dig the slower meandering b-side Yeah, Tonight. Look for their debut long player Are You Falling In Love? due in May Slumberland. In the meantime head on over to Clourdberry to get this.
A couple excellent singles have recently hit the street courtesy of the fine folks at Magic Marker down in Portland. Gold-Bears are from the South. Atlanta, Georgia to be exact. They have a kind of manic energy that the Judybats seemed to posses in abundance, and singer Jeremy Underwood has certain similarity to John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. With that said, you might assume they subscribe to the REM and Let’s Active school of thought. What did your mother tell you about assuming? Drop the needle on the record and you quickly realize they are firmly in the Wedding Present/Boyracer camp of blistering guitar sonics and feedback. At first I thought they had figured out the secret to the patented Boyracer feedback, but then I saw that they had enlisted Stewart Boyracer Anderson on the b-side Jezzer. Nothing like having a secret weapon. Their debut Magic Marker single is three songs, over in a little over five minutes. Gold-Bears don’t dilly-dally with their short songs that draw you in, knock you over then leave you with little birdies and stars in a halo around your head. Look for their next single on Cloudberry.
For Ex-Lovers Only hale from a strange place, Orlando, Florida. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that geography doesn’t matter. Kids in Topeka have the same access to (once) obscure indie music as those in New York or Chicago. First thing’s first, yes they’re named after a Black Tambourine song and yes they kind of sound like it, especially the a-side Coffin which is a everything an a-side should be: short, scorching and catchy. The two b-sides are a little more restrained. Scraps is an acoustic song displaying the band’s strong sense of melody and restraint, defying the their rookie status. If they’ve got 5 or 6 more like the these then they’ll be making kids swoon and breaking hearts real soon.