In the Middle of It – Part I

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

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
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

GoldBears
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
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
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

EatLights
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

hauntedhearts
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

tbunsBAREBONES
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

universe
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

ratcolumns
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

2013 Singles of the Year Countdown: 50-26

Will the 7-inch single ever go away? Probably not anytime soon, but it seems to be getting pressed up in smaller and smaller batches. This year I saw many single being released in editions of as little as 100 copies. Are there really only about 100 of us left out there that buy these things? As painful as it is to think about it, I know the answer is probably yes. A combination of high postage costs and pressing these things in such tiny quantities makes the price of the average 45 about $10. That’s pretty crazy when you can buy the mp3 version for about $2. There were more than a couple records that I didn’t buy this year because the cost of the record plus postage put the price at or above $2o. Sadly, vinyl has quickly become something for people with a large amount of disposable income. I’m hoping I can make a profit on these things when it’s time for my kids to go to college.

joannagruesome
50. Joanna Gruesome – Sugarcrush (Fortuna Pop!)

Sugarcrush was thee standout track from the Gruesome’s debut record. So how do you get people to buy the single of a song they may already have? You put a cover of Galaxy 500’s Tugboat captain on the B-side of course. It’s the gentle comedown from the candy head explosion of the A-side.

cosines
49. Cosines – Hey Sailor Boy! (Fika)

I love a good split personality between the A and B sides of a single and the Cosines are like the Batman villain Two-Face. One side is sweet and swooning like the Essex Green and the other chugs and drones sorta like Stereolab. A fine debut from this London band.

EatingOut
48. Eating Out – Burn (Suicide Squeeze)

I wonder if Nü Sensae drummer Daniel Pitout is a fan of the Family Cat, because Come Around could be a direct descendant of River of Diamonds. He probably doesn’t have PJ Harvey penciled in, but perhaps he has one of the Courtneys lined up for backing vocals on his next single.

diat
47. Diät – Everyday (Iron Lung)

Dark post apocalyptic wallop from this Berlin group who made an appearance on last year’s countdown. This is only their second single. They like to take their time and for good reason. It takes time to feed angst to this degree.

HauntedHearts
46. Haunted Hearts – House of Lords (Zoo)

Weird how I think that I may like this single better than anything that Dee Dee has done in Dum Dum Girls or her hubby Brandon has in Crocodiles. Maybe they should ditch their respective bands and tie the knot musically as well.

Cassolette
45. Cassolette – Return to Sender (Manic Pop!)

Florida’s Cassolette sound like they’re from Boston circa 1991. Combining the Blake Babies and Belly to great effect. Return to Sender will send you to the right address and B-side Ricki Lake gets points for combining mainstream with indiepop culture.

Kids
44. Kids on a Crime Spree – Creep the Creeps (Slumberland)

I’m a sucker for songs with hand claps and whistling. This song probably would have charted higher if it had some whistling in it. As it is, Creep the Creeps is a solid 44 with killer hand claps and gigantic riff that should get you clapping along.

Verma
43. Verma – Ragnaraak (Hozac)

I think Verma holds the honor of longest single in this year’s countdown. Stuffing six and a half minutes onto one side of a 45 is a feat in itself, add to it a mean psychedelic maelstrom of a song and you’ve got something that rivals the Hookworms in damaged heavy psych intensity. Watch out for these guys.

caligiraffes
42. Cali Giraffes – All My Life (Fin)

The Cali Giraffes have had an album in the can for ages but the stars have not aligned when it comes to actually getting it released. If this single is any indicator (it is) it will be a doozy. We already knew that Kim Warnick was highly gifted in the skills of the pop song and All My Life is simply confirmation. The B-side is just as good with her buddy Mikey Davis on vocals. Somebody release this album!

menacebeach
41. Menace Beach – Drop Outs (Too Pure)

You know, you subscribe to a 7-inch singles club and you get a bunch of recyclable plastic. You forgo subscribing and the singles club and it starts putting out the good stuff. Luckily Too Pure allows you to buy individual records from their singles club because this Menace Beach record with it’s lazy slacker riff and chorus will have you reaching for your wallet.

TeardropFactory
40. Teardrop Factory – Topshop (Faux Discx)

Faux Discx has been putting out heavy blissed-out jams for some time now. In fact I’ll pretty much buy whatever they put their name on. Brighton’s Teardrop Factory have got a thing for downer drenched songs and so do I.

Corey3-outlines
39. Corey – Is It Really Real? (Permanent)

Corey is Corey Cunningham of the Terry Malts in case you didn’t know. This record takes Love & Rockets Motorbike and goes off on some fuzzy dovetail tangent from which you will not want to return. Hope your state doesn’t have a helmet law.

DavidKilgour
38. David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights – Christopher Columbus (Merge)

David Kilgour keeps putting out stellar records. This year the only thing I think he released was this, a glassy ode to the guy who ‘discovered’ America. This strangely sounds like Under the Milkyway by the Church, but with less heroin, which is a good thing.

ketamines
37. Ketamines – All the Colours of Your Heart (Pleasence)

The Ketamines were on a roll this year, striking a pop vein and mining it to its fullest. This was number one of four singles that you were supposed to collect all of to create a collage from the covers. I only got two of the four, but even though my collage is incomplete All the Colours of Your Heart eases my pain of not having a complete set.

toxie
36. Toxie – Newgate (Goner)

Ah yes, some things go together like Memphis and C-86. Maybe it’s not C-86, but it’s definitely peanut butter and chocolate. Some might call it accidental genius, but the EP that they’ve subsequently released is evidence that that this is no accident.

lovers-without-borders
35. Lovers Without Borders – Detective (K)

One of two records on the countdown that contains saxophone. What’s happening here? Karl Blau teams up with Jessica Bonin and Alex Parrish for lo-fi indiepop bliss, that’s what’s happening. Throw in a cover of Lois’s The Second Most Beautiful Girl in the World and you’ve got a hit record (in my mind).

LaLuz
34. La Luz – Brainwash (Suicide Squeeze)

Earlier this year I heard two people in a record store here in Seattle talking about La Luz. The general gist of the conversation was that La Luz were OK but not worthy of the hype they were receiving in town because they were third, fourth, fifth or sixth generation surf pop. No one complains when the next ‘Michael Jordan’ is romping through the NBA do they? La Luz are the next Dick Dale and you should rejoice.

BirthdayKiss
33. Birthday Kiss – Can You Keep a Secret? (Death Party)

This is a classic pop single, precisely winnowing into you conscious whether you want it to or not. It’s not overtly dance oriented like St. Etienne, but it reminds me of them in the way that it slyly hooks you in with it’s chorus. Undeniable.

RainbowGunShow
32. Rainbow Gun Show – Cinderella Sizzle (Hozac)

Hozac are like the record kings of Chicago, fishing bands out of the music meat grinder for the rest of us to enjoy. Rainbow Gun Show are just one more example in a long line of records held together by animal intestines. Actually this fuzzy synth single is sort of a-typical for the label with very little blood noticeable on the surface of this buzzy pop record, but then there is no accounting for taste.

SeaPinks

31. Sea Pinks – Exploded View (CF)

Sea Pinks front man Neil Brogan left his other band Girls Names for which he was the drummer to concentrate full time on the Pinks. So the question is, can they get better? Indeed. This record as limited to 100 copies because you weirdo millennials don’t think you need to buy records anymore. You can own it digitally. Yeah, right. That’s like saying you own the air you breath. Sea Pinks are nearly as precious.

Heathers
30. Heathers – Teenage Clothes (Death Party)

Heathers are from LA so it’s no surprise they effortlessly combine a bit of sparkly jangle of another sunny day (they keep coming), some dusty sadness from being lost in a canyon and unsure of which direction to go, and some androgynous lyrics about your mother’s teenage clothes that keep you on your toes. All the ingredients for a great single and Heathers assemble these rummaged items perfectly.

Vacations
29. Vacations – Purple Slumber (Play Pinball)

Vacations are the project of Fungi Girls’ Jacob Bruce and it seems he had a few special songs saved up for this single. This record is like an indie kid’s little helper as it bounces and jangles along in violet inducing languor. Better than Valium.

Schonwald
28. Schonwald – Mercurial (Hozac)

This record blazes along some futuristic highway the way Xmal Deutschland and Clan of Xymox used to do. If 4AD was half the label that it was, Italy’s Schonwald would be signed to them, but luckily Hozac aren’t beneath donning a little black eyeliner to release this record.

slowcoaches
27. Slowcoaches – Thinkers E.P (Icecapades)

Slowcoaches are obviously influenced by the 90’s indierock aesthetic of Urusei Yatsura , Pavement and Dinosaur Jr and I can’t really claim that they’re breaking any new ground but Thinkers rages into your head with its rumbling bass, fingers on the chalk board guitar squall and singer Heather Perkins’ vitriolic delivery taking me back to a time of unbridled enthusiasm for this kind of thing. Nothing has changed and maybe that’s a good thing.

laughingleaves
26. Laughing Leaves – Everyday (Self-released)

This was another great year for music coming out of Australia. It’s like Sweden a few years ago, where every week seemed to yield a new band bubbling up with a drop dead good record. Laughing Leaves from Geelong create great 60’s inspired raw garage rock in the vein of early Kinks and Them. Four songs on this 7-inch and they all could’ve been singles.