2018 Singles of the Year

The last few years, I have thought that there wouldn’t be enough singles to do top singles of the year list, but each year I look at the stack of singles that I’ve accumulated and realize that the 7-inch (and 10-inch) single still lives. Thank god there are still a few of us out there!

1. Wesley Bright & the Honeytones – Happiness (Colemine)
Step back and make some room for this floor filler. Soul in this sort of throwback style seems to have a core audience but little critical acclaim. That seems to matter less in this time of algorithmic recommendations. So I hope you have smart music playing device that slipped this hot little number by this Rubber City Beekeeper in between some Ottis Redding and Al Green.

2. False Tracks – Down There (Self-released)
When I saw that this Baltimore Philly band featured former Ropers Greg Pavlovcak and Mike Hammel I was interested. I was really hooked by the power chord blasts that were part glam swagger and part post punk urgency.

3. The Orielles – Bobbi’s Second World (Heavenly)
Two brand new songs not found on the debut LP also from this year. One is a cover of Peggy Gou’s It Makes You Forget and the other an original, Bobbi’s Second World. Both up the infectious energy of their LP and sparkle with Bananarama 80’s fun.

4. Mikah Wilson – Sunshine Grooves (Burger)
Sunshine Grooves is bright, shiny and sunshine drenched pop that many will associate with the Beach Boys, Zombies and Emmitt Rhodes from the late 60’s and early 70’s heyday of that style. So nice to hear it alive and well in the dark days of 2018.

5. Husbands – Karlstad EP (Box Bedroom Rebels)
The Box Bedroom Rebels label has perfected the art of fitting an album onto a seven inch record. Oklahoma City’s Husbands fill it up with tons of Weezer like power pop with a devil may care attitude straddles the tightrope of rock gods and geekdome.

6. Honey Radar – Psychic Cruise (Chunklet)
The elusive Honey Radar love to put out singles of severely limited quantity, often on lathe cut vinyl. Psychic Cruise was no different in its being limited and certainly no different from the band’s high quality output of short, psychedelic bursts of distorted, hazy pop.

7. Girl Ray – The Way We Came Back (Moshi Moshi)
Recorded after last year’s debut, The Way We Get By was written by singer Poppy Hankin when she was sixteen. The band describe it as a plump cow that needed to be milked. It does go down smoothly and leaves a nice mustache.

8. Beachtape – Fix It Up (PNKSLM)
Brighton’s Beachtape continue the long line of beach named bands not sounding like the beach. No Frankie and Annette or Beach Boys here. This is straight up 90’s inspired indie rock pop.

9. Datenight – My Car (Goodbye Boozy)
Meaty jangle from Memphis that sounds influenced by the jangly Flying Nun bands or yore. I was kind of surprised at how these guys flew under the radar given their style and the usual fervid fandom that ensues. Either it’s going out of style or my ear for it is waning. Someone should invent a music blog to bring attention to this sort greatness.

10. Art Sick – Going Down (Yr First Crush Records!)
Quality indiepop in the vein of Tiger Trap and Small Factory from this Oakland trio with a strong pedigree. The band includes former members of Burnt Palms, Lunchbox and Kids on a Crime Spree. Going Down keeps the 90’s indiepop flame alive.

11. Parsnip – Feeling Small (Anti Fade)
Parsnip’s second single ups the quirkiness factor a touch, but the band continue their endearing ways on Feeling Small. It’s a little bit of cartoon bubblegum, some oompa circa the Kinks Face to Face and then topped off with a modern day lo-fi sensibility.

12. EggS – I Fell In Love (Hellzapoppin)
The EggS of Paris, not to be confused with the Eggs of Arlington, Virginia, bust out quite convincingly on their debut single. The aloof vocal reminds me a bit of Steve Kilby of the Church and the droney pop that the band seems to excel at has a certain Clean quality to it.

13. Child’s Pose – Feral (Nervous Energy)
Sauna Youth spin-off band sound like their relationship would suggest. Wired songs, Intelligently and tightly wound so that they pop themselves into your consciousness for immediate satisfaction.

14. The Harlem Gospel Travelers – He’s On Time (Colemine)
Apparently the Harlem Gospel Travelers were literally students of Eli Paperboy Reed in a gospel class the singer was teaching. It must have been a very hands-on class, because Reed brought them into a studio to record this single. Based on He’s On Time, Reed is a very good teacher.

15. The BV’s – Every Story is a Ghost Story (Cloudberry)
The BV’s remind me of a more masculine sounding Field Mice. The band excels at creating moods with the chiming guitars and plaintive vocals. No one can afford a vinyl copy of Emma’s House these days and my guess is that you won’t be able to afford this one in 30 years either.

16. Blushing – The Truth (The Nothing Song Records)
If you are aching for a dreampop fix, look no further than Austin’s Blushing. The Truth may be their best song yet. The way they weave their tremolo guitars into webs of dewy goo evokes those early Lush EP’s.

17. Terry Vs Tori – Larusso (Box Bedroom Rebels)
Spain’s Terry Vs Tori in 2018 remind me of France’s Les Molies in 1994. Which means nothing to no one, unless you remember that gentle, understated pop from 24 years ago. No matter, you should snatch up this single if you dig indiepop of the Sarah variety.

18. The Shifters – Just Sat Down (Digital Regress)
Every time I listen to the Shifters I marvel at how much they remind me of early Fall, but at the same time are foraging off on their own unbeaten track. Sure, if MES were still alive today he would slag them off songs like the killer Melbourne & Monash Youth League as ripping off the Fall. I can’t think of a higher compliment.

19. Cool Flowers – Pig Charade / Angry (Self-released)
Portlands’s Cool Flowers fly so far under the radar they didn’t even bother to put their single on soundcloud or bandcamp. “So what” you say, I use Spotify. Good luck brother. Dub inspired glory on both sides inspired by the Public Image Limited and Scientist. A great reason to buy a record player.

20. Okama Flannel Boy – Carolina St. (Cloudberry)
Mexico city indiepawpers peddle some excellent rockabilly/Smiths/Orange Juice riffs on this single. Fernando Torres apparently is the man behind the flannel and his delicate voice and knack for a hook make this record sparkle atop the pile of all to self-aware also-rans.

21. Tiny Fireflies – Nothing (Self-released)
Nothing sees Tiny Fireflies relocating from Chicago to Portland, Oregon, though they traipsed across the country to record it with Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor) in Brooklyn. Nothing was then mixed by Ian Catt. Makes sense, as this is a fine example of some top shelf dreampop combining sad longing of the Trembling Blue Stars and atmospheric weight conjured by Slowdive.

22. Jackson Politik – Psycho-mania (Market Square)
Andy Jordan has a number of music persona’s and Jackson Politik is the latest. Psycho-mania sounds as its title advertises. The b-side Well-adjusted Australians is my favorite here. It sounds like a companion song to the Jazz Butcher’s Southern Mark Smith in both sound, topic, and even the tiny Max Eider guitar solo. More of this sort of thing please!

23. Amyl & the Sniffers – Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled) (Flightless)
Australian punks Amyl & the Sniffers put out a white hot compilation of their EPs earlier in the year and then followed it up with this worthy companion to the Stooges’s I Wanna Be Your Dog. It was a good year for this band, and can’t wait for what they have in store for us.

24. Lithics – Photograph of You (Thrilling Living)
Lithics deal in such sharp edged rock that it’s downright dangerous. Pack away your balloons and beach balls while listening to Photograph of You because the the icy cold shards of shrapnel coming off of this record is sure to puncture the most staunchly optimistic soul and make them stagger and question their rosy disposition.

25. Peach Kelli Pop – Which Witch (Mint)
Inspired by Red Cross’ Posh Boy EP, this six song seven inch contains short, sharp pop that leaves you wanting more and wishing each song was twice as long.

26. Stiff Love – Attitudes (Feel It)
Olympia, Washington’s Stiff Love, who formed in 2017, fit perfectly into that town’s punk-riot-do-it-yourself aesthetic. Attitudes combines 70’s guitar riffs with punk rock in your face flamboyance. This is white hot glammy goodness.

27. Mush – Gig Economy (Dipped In Gold Recordings)
From the ashes of the Too Pure Singles Club, comes Dipped in Gold Recordings and their first release from Leeds band Mush and it’s a spazzy symphony. A permanent job with benefits could be going the way of the Dodo, and rocking out to the next global economic meltdown never sounded so wonderfully unsettling!

28. The Stroppies – Maddest Moments (Tough Love)
The Stroppies tick all the boxes on the indie cred check list. Members for the Twerps, Dick Diver and the Stevens. Check, check, check. Compared to the Flying Nun bands like the Clean and the Bats. Check and check. Maddest Moments isn’t drop dead immediate, but it worms its way into you’re consciousness with off kilter melody and workman like playing. It’s comfortable like a favorite sweater.

29. Jay Som – Pirouette (Polyvinyl)
Melina Duterte’s (aka Jay Som) single from early in the year was fuzzy sounding, sleepy eyed follow up to her album the previous year. Pirouette is as lively as anything she’s done previously and moves her from bedroom into the kitchen, slicing up a nice chunk of powerish pop.

30. Skiftande Enheter – Mördande Rutin (Market Square)
Further north than Scotland, straight outta Sweden and out-yumming the Yummy Fur are Skiftande Enheter. I have no idea what they’re singing about but count me in on this DIY punk on cross country skis.

Midyear Notables or Oh Yeah I Almost Forgot About This Blog

Hopefully your RSS reader still works and this popped up. My excuse for lack of content here at the Finest Kiss is that I’ve been too busy listening to records. To catch everyone up on my life, here are 30 or so records that are at the top of my pile so far for 2018. Seems like a lot, but I still feel like I left a lot of good stuff out.

annaburch
Anna Burch – Quit the Curse (Polyvinyl)
Burch was in the Sarah Records influenced Failed Flowers with Fred Thomas of Saturday Looks Good to Me. Here debut solo album has a nod or to towards K Records, specifically Lois Maffeo, with its 90’s style indiepop and understated sardonic pop.

beachhouse
Beach House – 7 (Sub Pop)
Baltimore’s Beach House are a prolific duo and their many records seem to have building up to their seventh appropriately titled album. If you recall late period Cocteau Twins when they were at the height of their ethereal powers, then yuo will no doubt already own this.

blueslawyer
Blues Lawyer – Guess Work (Emotional Response)
With their tendrils firmly wrapped around the Oakland, California indie scene, Blues Lawyer do lo-fi wiry punk ditties that bring to mind contemporaries the Rays and early influencers like Television Personalities and the Tronics.

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Cavern of Anti-Matter – Hormone Lemonade (Duophonic)
Tim Gane’s post-Stereolab groop puts it all together on their third album. It’s full of experimental Kraut excursions and just enough song structure to keep it from going off the rails.

cutworms
Cut Worms – Hollow Ground (Jagjaguwar)
Tons of Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly in Hollow Ground, which flies in the face of present day music. What’s wrong with this one man band Max Clark and his compulsion of a bygone era? Who cares, when it sounds this good.

datenight
Datenight (US) – Comin Atcha’ 100MPH (Drop Medium)
Anyone remember that Box Elders record from a ways back? If not, you probably are familiar with the Clean. This Nashville band reminds me of both.

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Dumb – Seeing Green (Mint)
Most would file Dumb under Pavement/Parquet Courts, but I dig way these Vancouver rockers’ punky songs evoke Big Boys, sport an offbeat sense of the absurd and (probably) make an unintentional nod to Stewart Copeland’s alter ego Klark Kent.

flasher
Flasher – Constant Angel (Domino)
I love how this DC band blend Hometown influences like Unrest and Holland with Three O’clock style paisley underground into a brilliant record that goes against the current grain. If this came out 25 years ago it woulda been on Teenbeat fer sure!

freakgenes
Freak Genes – Qwak Qwak (Drunken Sailor)
Sparse lo-fi punky songs from a guy from Proto Idiot and another guy from the Red Cords. On LP number the duo add some synths to their garage arsenal of sound. I’m not sure why they’re dressed as ducks on the cover, maybe it’s a result of some gene splicing experiment gone awry where they tried to genetically modify the DNA of Buzzcocks, Syd Barret and Howard the Duck.

girlsnames
Girls Names – Stains on Silence (Tough Love)
On their fourth album, Northern Ireland’s Girls Names plunge themselves down into a dark, dark place. It’s not as immediate as previous efforts, but I think I like this new one more than anything they’ve done so far. It brings to mind the moody “difficult” post punk the Sound’s All Fall Down and Comsat Angels’ Sleep No More.

goatgirl
Goat Girl – Goat Girl (Rough Trade)
London’s Goat Girl sound like a 1980’s 4AD band from the United States. Translated, that means think Throwing Muses and Pixies. Throw in a little PJ Harvey and Gallon Drunk and you’re only missing Steve Albini, who apparently was too busy playing poker to records their debut LP.

greensea
Green Seagull – Scarlet Fever (Mega Dodo)
From the If it ain’t baroque then surely its psychedelic school of 60’s rock revivalism, comes Green Seagull’s debut LP. Both of last year’s excellent singles reappear here to re-mezmerize, but there are many new songs drenched in kaleidoscopic harmonies and 12 string guitars that are just as worthy.

gwenno
Gwenno – Le Kov (Heavenly)
For her sophomore album Gwenno has switched from singing in Welsh to singing in Cornish, a minor detail probably for most of us who speak neither. Whatever language she sings in, Gwenno excels at the lingua franca of krautrock-psychedelic-soundtrack strain of rock.

holliecook
Hollie Cook – Vessel of Love (Merge)
Swapping out Prince Fatty with Youth to produce her third album of tropical reggae vibes, Hollie Cook doesn’t miss a step. There are fewer string arrangements, but one half of Public Image Limited (Jah Wobble and Keith Levene) and a top batch of songs make barely noticeable.

hookworms
Hookworms – Microshift (Domino)
Hookworms started out as a screaming maelstroem inspired by Thirteenth Floor Elevators, but with each album they have sanded down the roughness of their sound little by little and now Microshift sees them morphing into Depeche Mode. Not quite, but they do employ some fast fashion into this record to thrilling effect while still keeping their slightly unhinged attitude.

insecure
Insecure Men – Insecure Men (Fat Possum)
The new band from Saul Ademczewski formerly of Fat White Family is light, playful and unassuming, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. With a name like Insecure Men and sounding like it they were influenced by Harry Nilson, the Lightening Seeds, Love & Rockets and Captain Sensible, Ademczewski an his collaborator Ben Romans-Hopcraft stay on the pop rails just barely.

itchy
Itchy Bugger – Done One (Low Company)
This record appears to bit of an anomaly, a dude from bands that sound nothing like the Clean, Television Personalities, and the Art Museums makes an album that makes a record that sounds like it was directly influenced by those bands. What a crazy wonderful world.

espaces
Jonathan Fitoussi / Clemens Hourrière – Espaces Timbrés (Versatile)
This duo employ vintage modular synthesizers to create ambient landscapes that share topographical similarities with Kraftwork’s Radioactivity and Eno’s ambient stuff. Rarely does ambient music feel so powerful, but this record is juiced with the ability to make one feel they are floating into other realms.

laluz
La Luz – Floating Features (Hardly Art)
I suppose it isn’t all that surprising that a surf band from Seattle would move to Los Angeles. Who wants to surf (or play beach parties for that matter) the frigid waters of the Pacific Northwest when sunny SoCal is just down the I-5? With some production help from Dan Auerbach and sporting a slightly more muscular tone, these former Seattle ladies seem to have adjusted to their new locale quite nicely.

laylamas
Lay Llamas – Thuban (Rocket)
Lay Llamas essentially is Italy’s Nicola Giunta creating multi-textured psychedelic rock. On Thuban he has a few guest to help him out including Goat and Clinic, but this is his show of rhythmic dalliances into north Africa, Thailand and the Beta Band’s Edinburgh.

lithics
Lithics – Mating Surfaces (Kill Rock Stars)
I recommend Lithics second album and first for Kill Rock Stars knowing that their sparse, mechanical clang is not for everyone, but for those who like cold hard surface on which to reproduce…Hell even if you don’t and want something cold, sharp and hard to jar you from your comfort zone then this is it.

mapc
Math & Physics Club – Lived Here Before (Fika)
Math & Physics Club have been known to cover REM, I remember them doing an excellent version of Shaking Through from Murmur, so it not surprising to hear them dropping REM references throughout Lived Here Before. Don’t worry, if you are a fan of their subtle understated pop, they haven’t gone all End of the World as We Know it. They have this great ability to subtly incorporate influences without them overpowering their own of delicate pop.

melodys
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage (Fat Possum)
The second effort from Melody Prochet was a long time coming, but well worth the wait. Instead of the focused pop of her debut, she teams up with members of Dungen to make a psyche rock amoeba built on improvisation and fear of being fenced in. It has a random kitchen sink feel at times, but it sounds adventurous and exciting.

olkenyolk
Olden Yolk – Olden Yolk (Trouble In Mind)
I always wonder when a member of a band, say Shane Butler of Quilt, starts another band, what does that mean for the other band? Are they kaputt, or just taking a break? Bultler is joined by Caity Shaffer and they come off sounding like a long lost 60’s California folk group that has a thing for the German motorik beat. A near perfect combination of the two and my new chocolate & peanut butter.

orielles
The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment (Heavenly)
I’ve seen the Orielles described as being, baggy, shoegaze and C-86. They’ve been compared also to the Pastels, Pink Floyd, Belly and Orange Juice. For the record I’m not going to add to that confusing list of comparisons. I will say that this trio’s debut album is strong in the pop department and has something for nearly everyone.

cover
Parquet Courts – Wide Awake (Rough Trade)
The new PC’s album was produced by Danger Mouse, reminds me of the Beastie Boys Check Your Head era funk and Spoon’s sparse percussive pop. Wide Awake might be their best since their debut Light Up Gold.

patois
Patois Counselors – Proper Release (Ever Never)
Charlotte, North Carolina’s first impressed with 2015’s Clean Skits single on Negative Jazz. The seven piece band are a kin to Protomartyr, with a seriously lower profile. Their debut album is full of post punk, art school ditties reminiscent of Pere Ubu, the Fall and Fugazi and every bit as worthy of your hard earned money.

Horology
Red Red Eyes – Horology (Where It’s At Is Where You Are)
This year I’ve felt a strong Broadcast influence in the rock continuum and UK duo Red Red Eyes are another piece of anecdotal evidence for my case. It’s not a Broadcast tribute mind, Horology is moody, mysterious, trippy and not afraid to borrow from Massive Attack and Serge Gainsbourg either.

roves
The Roves – The Roves (One Man Movement)
This London band’s debut album is a jangly throwback to classic 60’s pop records that were packed with two and tree minutes pop songs and not a dud to be found in the bunch.

saysue
Say Sue Me – Where We Were Together (Damnably)
The undeniably catchy Old Town is a slice of classic indiepop, but it’s sort of a red herring too. Say Sue Me hail from South Korea and it’s obvious they are fans of the UK indiepop style, but they paint from a bigger pallet of surf inspired guitars and effects laden dreampop.

shannon
Shannon Shaw – Shannon in Nashville (Easy Eye Sound)
Is it ok to say that I like this better than any Shannon & the Clams albums? The Shaw – Auerbach collaboration reminds me a little of accomplished pop-psych that came out of the Del Shannon – Andrew Loog Oldham collaboration.

shopping
Shopping – The Official Body (Fatcat)
For album number three (why does nobody call the third album their junior effort) Shopping rip it up and start again. Not exactly, but they employed Edwyn Collins to produce the record. Their brand of dancy post-punk benefits from an infusion of Orange Juice to make it their most accessible record yet.

sonsofkemet
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen Is a Reptile (Impulse!)
I didn’t even know that the Impulse label still existed as a label that put out new stuff. This is the group’s  third album and its tuba, trombone, sax, clarinet attack spans Mingus, Jamaican ska/reggae, Coltrane and Sun Ra. Remarkable, even for non-jazz aficionados like myself.

virginiawing
Virginia Wing – Ecstatic Arrow (Fire)
This is the first Viginia Wing I’ve bought since EP on Faux Discx. I love it. Touches of Taken by Trees, Hector Zazou, and Broadcast, the latter which (as you can probably tell) seems to be so prevalent in my listening tastes lately.

Albums of 2016

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

P R O – L I T H I C S

Lithics

Portland, Oregon post punkers Lithics have just released a scorcher of a debut album. Fans of Pylon, Gang of Four and the Au Pairs should take note of this record. Borrowed Floors is chock full of rolling bass, jagged guitars and androgynous vocals. The songs sound like they’ve pulled in from the wild hinterlands of the Rose city. It appears as though someone tried to domesticate them, but failed. Careful entering the cage, this one will pin you down and make you buy a copy.

Downloads available from bandcamp and vinyl at Water Wing Records.