Take a little bit of Ladybug Transistor and some Pelle Carlberg and the Bee Gees and you get an idea of what Stockholm, Sweden’s Moon Types are up to on their debut single. Moon Types remind me of a time not long ago when every week featured a new band from Sweden. It’s cooled down a little since those days, I suppose all of those bands like Park Hotell, Popundret, Boolteans, Carpet People, Liechtenstein, Wannadies, Rough Bunnies and Shout Out Louds have all hung up the rock and roll spandex to settle into lives out of the indiepop spotlight.
Know the Reason features a wonderful trumpet and a jangly riff that could thaw the iciest of hearts. Nothing’s Holy and Do It All Over Again have a slight country tinge to them, but it’s Swedish country so they kick up a different sort of dust. It’s nice to see there’s a new band from Sweden pick up the indiepop torch again.
You can stream and buy Moon Types’ single from their record label Jigsaw Records.
We’ve made it to the fat on top, or the fruit at the bottom, in other words the top ten…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. Without any further ado, here are numbers 10-1.
Here’s what I said back in April when this record came out: I can state unequivocally that the A-side Sunshine / Pretty Girls is the best Unnatural Helpers song I’ve heard, and it could very well be the anti-summer jam of the erm, summer, though it’s a bit early to predict those kinds of things.
Back to present, it turns out it was the anti-summer jam of the summer and the year for that matter at least for me. At a minute and 55 seconds, Sunshine/Pretty Girls is over before you know what hit you, and it has you jumping up from the chair to pick up the needle and put it back down again in a futile attempt to keep the euphoric endorphins induced by this song flowing. This is everything a great pop record should be, a pummeling guitar riff, second guitar diving in, strained words through gritted teeth, girl singing backing harmonies, lyrics about smoking and drinking till you die and a killer sleeve by CMRTYZ.
I said it succinctly back in June and don’t think I can improve on my description of this near perfect single: Oh my (Talula) Gosh, The new single from Amelia Fletcher’s Tender Trap is Heavenly. Not only that, Do You Want a Boyfriend? is smart, cute (does he have to like the Jesus & Mary Chain? Yeah, that would be heaven!), packed full of harmonies and sees the band swinging back towards a more guitar oriented blast of sound reminiscent of Fletcher’s two earlier bands.
The Liminnanas suddenly appeared on the scene with singles on both Trouble In Mind and Hozac, a posthumous release of their former band Les Bellas and then an album on TIM all within a few months. It was like they had been stockpiling songs getting ready for a barrage. I’m Dead was the opening salvo and turned heads with its Spectoresque garage coupled a hint of Morricone. It rode a sparse echo filled groove and penetrated the dark side for three minutes of eerie pop bliss that was hard to forget.
With slicing angular guitars and lazy slacker vocals Edmunton, Alberta’s Outdoor Miners on their debut single evoke a time not too long ago when it took way too long to download a web page so an entire album was out of the question. You still went to the record store on Tuesday’s to pick up the new releases, and seeing Pavement on daytime MTV was an amazing thing. In other words 90’s indie guitar rock is back!
Brought to my attention by Fire Escape Talking, I was unsure if this was not some lost soul record that he normally posts. No, Myron and E hale from California and they get together somehow with Finland’s Soul Investigators to make records that don’t sound of this time. It’s a Shame is a stone cold classic, right down to its Shoo bee-doo-wah’s.
Edwyn Collins tweeted at some point this year that he’d seen the future and it was Frankie and the Heartstrings. If the future is big sounding heart on the sleeve pop then Frankie and the Heartstrings are it. Fragile with its quiet versus and bombastic chorus is everything an A-side could ever hope to be in the past, present or future.
Will 2011 be the year that indiepop broke? With likes of Wild Nothing, Sea Pony and now Catwalk getting so much positive attention this year, anything is possible. Catwalk’s previous two singles on Yay! were beauties and the streak continues onto Captured Tracks. This sunny yet sad 60’s inspired pop song could have fit on the Bus Stop Label’s Peppermint Stick Parade from 1995. As it is, it stands on its own quite nicely at the number seven spot.
Sweden’s Liechtenstein besides having a Passion For Water, have an evident passion for Dolly Mixture, bouncy bass lines, wonderful horns and angelic oohh’s. The band have put out some excellent singles to date, but I think this may be the best one yet.
German Measles are the epitome of ramshackle, their songs seem like they hang from within an inch of collapse. Live, even more so. Color Vibration is an ode to getting high off one’s sense of vision. It rumbles along threatening to collapse at any moment, only to see our heroes preserver almost to very end when the song ends with an explosion.
With 600,000 Bands Felt Letters summarize with pinpoint accuracy and humor the craziness that is today’s music landscape. Former Nation of Ulysses singer Ian Svenonius delivers his spot on observations over a musty gin joint backing provided by Brendan Canty of Fugazi and Tom Bunnell. “Everybody wants you to listen to theirs, but you can’t right now because you’re listening to this.”
For a band that released a few singles, a posthumous EP and only 1000 copies of their only album, a three disc box set might seem like overkill for an obscure all girl band from the UK. Dolly Mixture may have been better known at the time of their existence as Captain Sensible‘s back up singers. Captain Sensible of the Damned had two hit singles in the early 80’s away from the Damned. Both (Happy Talk & Wot) were campy, nudging in on Ian Dury territory and of course over the top, but more importantly employed the backing vocals of the Dolly Mixture.
Dolly Mixture were a force to be rekoned with in their own right, mixing the pure pop of 60’s girls groups with a bit of glam, mod and punk. They were a precursor to indiepop and can claim a direct influence on the Riot Grrrl movement. They were an all girl band who stuck to their guns, not caving to major label males’ demands that they let men play the music on their records leaving them to just be pretty faces. It’s sad to think that this is one of the reasons they were forced to self-release their debut album the double record Demonstration Tapes which actually only contained demos. Listening to it today, it sounds perfect as ‘just’ demos though maybe a little warbled because of less then pristine storing of the masters. Their voices still shine through and are pure as the driven snow, the guitars, strings and percussion evoke a Tamala/Motown sound that probably would have been lost if they had been produced. One of the three discs in the box set contains the Demonstration Tapes double LP (the album was also reissued on vinyl as an extremely limited edition of 300 copies as well). The second disc compiles their singles and the third disc contains a few covers, some demos and tracks that fell between the cracks.
The liner notes were written by Bob Stanley of St. Etienne. Stanley is a long-time fan and even counted Debsey Wykes at one time as a member of the St. Etienne’s touring band. There Wykes met Paul Kelly who compiled the songs for this box set restored them from crusty old tapes and did the layout for the release. You may remember Wykes and Kelly were in Birdie together in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Birdie put out two rather nice records that kind of continued along the Dolly Mixture path but added in a little Free Design and not surprisingly some of the mellow dance vibe of St. Etienne.
So you may ask, what kind of influence does a band that existed for a few fleeting moments 30 years ago have on today’s bands. You need look no further than Sweden’s Liechtenstein. Yeah, there are quite a few bands out there today that you could tag with a Dolly Mixture influence, but Liechtenstein, besides being a trio of women who play their own instruments, harmonize and make pop songs that can sound sweet and innocent on one side and then on the next cop a punk attitude. Their debut CD Survival Strategies in a Modern World came out last year on Slumberland, but not ones to rest, have just released a new 7″ single on Swedish label Fraction Discs.
Here ya go, something for the weekend. It’s the March installment of the the Finest Kiss Basementcast. If this is going to become a regular thing, I guess I should get a theme song and some back ground music for the talking parts. A real microphone might be nice too, one of those big foamy ones would be perfect. Maybe I should get some advertisers too. Naah, I kind of like the furnace as my background noise, at least until I sell out.
Obits – Two Headed Coin
France Has the Bomb – Invisible Angle
Coconut Coolouts – The Spinaround
Lime spiders – Just one Solution
Vic Godard – Vertical Integration
Wake the President – Professor
Comet Gain – You Can Hide Your Love Forever
Rakes – Muller’s Ratchet
Intelligence – 16&17
A Frames – Death Train
Dead Mellotron – Dress Rehearsal
Crocodiles – Neon Jesus
Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground – Diggin
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
Pale Sunday – The White Tambourine
Mayfair Set – Desert Fun
Liechtenstein – Everything’s for Sale
Jane Wiedlin – Cool Places
Smittens – the Interstate
Blue Jungle – I’m a Ninja
Rose Eleanor Dougall – Another Version of a Pop Song
Crystals – Then He Kissed Me
Richard Hawley – Rockabilly Radio
Johnny Kidd and the Pirates – Shakin All Over
Pete & the Pirates – Blood Gets Thin
This year seemed to be the year in which the 7″ single returned to prominence. It’s not like it ever really went away, but this year bands and labels were putting them out left a right. Vinyl in general, is making a resurgence with the prevalence of file downloading a cd is just a lousy digital copy that takes up too much space, whereas a slab of vinyl is more like a work of art with it being big enough to actually appreciate the cover art. It also comes in many shades, with colored vinyl showing up almost as much as the standard black even though its sound quality is supposedly inferior to good old black. Records these days have a one of kind feel to them or at least one of limited run, making you feel like you really buying something besides just the music. I probably haven’t bought this many records since the indie heyday of the early 90’s. It was fun again to hang out by the record player and change the record every three minutes, and I did this quite a bit, nearly spending all my listening time at home doing just that. In celebration of it’s return, I’m compiling my favorite 7″ singles of the year, my only requirements are that it had to be put out this year on a 7″ and I had to actually buy it. So here is what got the most spins in my house, you will have to take my word for it since my turntable doesn’t keep track of play counts. Now go out and buy some records!
1. Summer Cats – Lonely Planet (Cloudberry)
This number one was a no-brainer for me. With it’s pulsing keyboards and killer guitar riff, this was on my turntable nearly every evening for a good month. I’ve heard through the grapevine that Australia’s Summer Cats are working on a full length. It will easily one of my most anticipated records of next year. Or instead they could just put out singles like this all next year and I would completely happy.
2. Catwalk – Past Afar (Yay!)
Apparently Oxnard, California has a killer scene at the moment and Yay! records has signed every single band in the scene. Catwalk’s second single for the label is a sad, energetic beauty that has elements of the Close Lobsters as well as Blueboy. How can you get any closer to heaven than that?
3. Liechtenstein – Apathy/Security by Design (Fraction)
Ennio Morricon moved to Sweden and got a sex change? No Liechtentein, three women from Goteborg, Sweden put out an amazing record. Their second single had everyone excited who heard it, and how could you not be excited? That’s the beauty of the single, you put your best foot forward. It’s like Security by Design, two killer songs and a whole lotta mystery just like all those great girl groups from yesteryear, they need not release anything more to be cemented into music history.
4. Nodzzz – I Don’t Wanna (Make a Mess)
The Nodzzz couldn’t keep this record in print and it’s easy to see why, when you hear its raw bass line and punk rock chorus. It’s only a minute and a half, so you’ll be picking up the needle and putting it back at the start to play it again quite frequently.
5. Muslims – Parasites (I Hate Rock n Roll)
San Diego’s Muslims are no more, they’ve gone and changed their name to the Soft Pack for reasons only they know. Listening to this harks back to the day when the band were irreverent, in your face, snot nosed punks. I’m not sure what they are now, but this single will have you on your knees praying that the name is the only thing they’re changing. Killer cover of Spacemen 3’s Walking With Jesus gets best cover of the year without a doubt.
6. The Tartans – Cats of Camerford (Yay!)
Horns, horns, horns! It’s easy to forget how much a great horn line in a song can just put it over the top. This ranks up there with Brideshead’s Real Art as a killer pop song with a more killer horn hook.
7. Je Suis Animal – Painted In my Face (Cloudberry)
French name, Norwegian band, singing in English, swirling Broadcast/Stereolab sound, and an a-side to die for. The Scandinavians never cease to amaze me with their uncanny ability to arrive fully formed with style and songs that seems like they should take years to develop.
8. Boat – Topps (Magic Marker)
Boat are one of my favorite bands in Seattle and they really outdid themselves with this record. It was named after the baseball card company and came with a deck of hand drawn trading cards that included the band’s favorite baseball players as well themselves sporting baseball caps, cool badges with the band in their baesball getup and of course a stick of gum. Topps is just that, with it’s shakey keyboards, economical guitar riff and hyper Boat-esque chorus, it’s got it all, a wife, a job, a record store that knows it’s name and friend in every town.
9. Wake the President – You Can’t Change that Boy/Kingfishers – Make Me Sad (Electric Honey/Aufgeladen Und Bereit)
First of all the Kingfishers doing a cover of Vic Godard’s Make Me Sad would for some, be worth the price of admission, but Glassgow’s Wake the President are more than happy to steal the show with their original slice of Godard/Orange Juice pop. It’s one of those songs that make you want to bounce around on the furniture. I’ve been reprimanded a couple times for doing just that while listening to this.
10. Black Mountain – Lucy Brown (Sub Pop)
For its 20th anniversary this past summer Sub Pop started its third incarnation of its singles club. I joined figuring it would be kinda cool getting a surprise in the mailbox every month. November’s edition was the best surprise yet. I have kinda ignored Black Mountain up until this single, but Lucy Brown has bitten me with it’s scuzzy bass and bluesy vibe. This rocks so hard it was more than worth the price of joining this club.
11. Sexy Kids – Sisters are Forever (Slumberland)
Jeeze, with Slumberland putting out a slew of killer albums and singles this year, I was both surprised and amazed when a few weeks ago that the label announced it was putting out a couple more singles. Sisters are Forever, one of those singles, is a perfect pop rush. Tie a double knot and don’t forget to buy this.
13. Bears – Making Something(Impose)
A record player, a sunny summer afternoon and a Bears record go along way to a blissful existence. I don’t think I need to really say anything else about this sublime record, I really can’t think of a better way to spend two minutes.
14. Twig – Ciao Ciao Bomb (Cloudberry)
Earlier in the year I wrote about how there seemed to be this Orange Juice resurgence happening. Twig singer Henrik Linden could be Edwynn Collins’ long lost cousin and Ciao Ciao Bomb could be an unearthed OJ song. Twig are no cover band though, their originals are classics in their own rite and this single as well as their album Life After Ridge on Plastilina is proof positive.
15. Vivian Girls – Wild Eyes/My Baby Wants Me Dead(Plays With Dolls)
It wasn’t the a-side that did if for me it was the rocking jam of a b-side that got me. Crashing guitars and then silence followed by the eerie singing of ‘My baby wants me dead, he wants to put a knife in my head’. It’s downright spooky.
17. Moscow Olympics – Still (Fraction)
This was the first official release from the mysterious Phillipeans’ Moscow Olympics and what an introduction. Dreampop at its most dreamy.
18. Box Elders – Hole in my Head(Grotto)
Omaha, Nebraska’s Box Elders are like a diamond in the rough, there surely cannot be a kiwi scene in the nation’s midsection can there? This record just does not get old with me, it even sounds like it was recorded 20 years ago with a decidedly lo-fi feel that you just can’t fake.
19. Surefire Broadcast – When I Need Someone/Some Seek While Some Find (self-released)
This is kind of a cheat, since I don’t actually own this 7″, only a cd-r of it. But it exists and it was recorded by Dustin Reske of Rocketship. Surefire Broadcast are easily one of my favorite bands of the moment and this record is the perfect evidence, with it’s almost grungy guitar juxtaposed with boy-girl vocals that swirl around each other into undeniable pop sunshine.
20. Times New Viking – Stay Awake (Matador)
If you’ve made it this far, you may need to be jarred out of your complicity and Times New Viking are the perfect thing for that. Discordant noise has never sounded better, at least to these ears.