So that monthly wrap up thing didn’t last very long, did it? The internet is still here and so is this blog, sort of, so why not create some year end lists of my favorite records. Here are my top seven inch singles of the last 12 months. Yep, 25 seven inch singles actually came out this year.
1. The Umbrellas – Write It In the Sky (Slumberland)
SF’s Umbrellas have really done it. They’ve set the bar really high for themselves with this single. Write it in the Sky has it all: Sunny Sundae Smile era MBV, a dash of the noisier side of Sarah Records and some long lost paisley underground group. The guitars are buzzing, the vocals are breathless and the backing vocals are from the heavens. Songs like this are the reason seven inch singles still exist.
2. Lewsberg – Six Hills (Speedy Wunderground)
Speedy Wunderground singles are apparently recorded in a single day with no lunch break according to the SW web site. They are also pressed in limited quantities. There are a number of other rules they adhere to and they break a few too. Like splitting a song onto two sides of a 7 inch single. That’s what they’ve done for this Lewsberg stormer of a song Six Hills. Lucky for us, it’s also streaming so you don’t have to buy two copies to hear the entire thing uninterrupted. Six Hills sounds like a Velvet Underground song with a Dutch accent and a dry sense of humor. “You’re driving without a license. I’m driving uninsured. Why don’t we crash into each other? I got the feeling that we should.”
3. Dummy – Mono Retriever (Sub Pop)
To get this one, you needed to subscribe to the Sub Pop singles club or scour discogs. Mono Retriever is worth getting even if if you need to buy nine other records you don’t want. It’s a perfect piece of monochromatic drone pop that ebbs and flows from sounding mildly disinterested to passively aggressively emphatic. Numbingly good.
4. Skiftande Enheter – Oppna Landskap (Happiest Place)
If you hadn’t noticed, magic is happening at Happiest Place records. They’ve put out great singles by Friendly Boyfriend and Typical Girls and cross pollinate with Mamma’s Mysterious Jukebox (JJ ulius & Loopsel). Their 2019 LP was good, but wasn’t nearly as exciting as this new single. They don’t sing in English the way so many Swedish post punk and pop bands have in the past, but these songs with their great guitar riffs are so immediate and catchy that you won’t be looking for a translation app.
5. Communicant – La Roue (Six Tonnes De Chair)
If you missed last year’s album by Los Angeles’ Communicant like I did this single will have you remedying that pretty quickly if you are fan of psychedelic cinematic pop. The Wheel was on last year’s LP, but this new French version featuring Natasha Recoder. Recoder adds her chic-cool vocals and turns the song into mysterious floating beauty that is is orders of magnitude better than the original.
6. Matt Berry featuring Emma Noble – Beatmaker (Acid Jazz)
Beatmaker was featured on Berry’s BBC TV show Toast of Tinseltown. He smartly put it on a single. It’s a cover of the Doris 1970 song and stays pretty close to the funky, horn drenched original, but it’s still super fun. Also, worth checking out is the Doris album from which this song was on – Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby.
7. The Soul Chance featuring Wesley Bright (Colemine)
Remember Wesley Bright and the Honeytones’ number one hit Happiness back in 2018? The sweet soul beekeeper is back, only this time with a rock steady beat. This single is a collaboration with the Soul Chance and it’s a near perfect melding of Bright’s sweet vocals and reggae backing. Even in the depths of winter this record will heat up your turntable and put you in a vacationing mood.
8. Nick & the Nod – Den Besten EP (Chicken Shack)
Trudging away in a bit of obscurity somewhere in the middle of the country. I think they call it Indiana. The Midwestern bible belt loves conformity and has likely tried to push Nick and the Nod into the gutter which likely exactly where they want to be. Like Australia’s Shifters, and the UK’s Cool Greenhouse, Nick and the Nod obviously worship at the alter of the Fall and I’m a little surprised some coastal label hasn’t salvaged and exposed this brilliant stuff for rest of us subcultural misfits. R. Santos drips with sarcasm as it chugs along a loose rail riffing off of the chemical company responsible for DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange. This lathe cut single features five edgy dissonant cuts, all more than worthy of your attention.
9. Pachyman – All Night Long (ATO)
Pachy García’s alter ego, the King Tubby inspired Pachyman normally deals in dub instrumentals, but here he gets some help from Brazilian singer Winter and delves into the lovers rock reggae sub-genre to winning effect. If you dig the Holy Cook records, then this one should be a must have.
10. Billy Tibbals – Onwards and Upwards (Curation)
Curation Records continue to mine the SoCal pop underground and have dug up some gold with Billy Tibbals debut single. At first I thought he had a pretty good fake accent, but turns out he’s London ex-pat. Makes sense, Onwards and Upwards sounds a bit glam rock, a little LA powerpop with some DIY Cleaners from Venus aesthetic to keep it sounding urgent and edgy.
11. 7ebra – I Have a Lot to Say (PNKSLM)
The debut of these Malmo, Sweden twins has a little in common with Wet Leg in the deadpan vocal delivery and dry sense of humor. Both songs feature bare bones arrangements, and with melodies and riffs like these, why clutter up good these perfect tunes. Nothing to hide here.
12. The Hazmats – Empty Rooms (Static Shock)
The Hazmats are some dudes from hard core groups Chubby and the Gang, Game and Big Cheese. Surprise! They’re also Wedding Present and Stone Roses fans. This two song single jangles with indie charm that might surprise you. If Fucked Up can cover the Shop Assistants and Another Sunny day then big tough guys showing a penchant for more melodic fare shouldn’t come as such a surprise.
13. Fleur – Le Capharnaum (Sound Flat)
The Danish Francophile Fleur was back with a new album and two singles this year and this was my favorite. Le Capharnaum is a northern soul-styled groover that’s a guaranteed dance floor filler.
14. Love Dance – Parallel Lines (Too Good To Be True)
Norway’s Love Dance give us a fantastic slice of moody indiepop on this single which is part of Too Good To Be True’s singles club that started up in the second half of 2022. Parallel has a definite 80’s bent to it with little Railway Children and Icicle Works to give it northern wintry feel.
15. Martha – Please Don’t Take Me Back (Specialist Subject)
It’s hard to believe that Martha have been banging out powerpop winners like this since 2014. Please Don’t Take Me Back features an undeniable riff that will tug your nostalgia for classics like the Freed Pig and On the Mouth even though it says it doesn’t want to. This one also gets bonus points for putting one of Allo Darlin’s greatest hits, My Heart Is a Drummer on the b-side.
16. Quivers – If Only (Ba Da Bing/Pink Lake)
The Quivers get an awful lot of airplay around here. Their Golden Doubt LP from last year was a favorite and their show US tour and Seattle was a definite 2022 highlight. This new single features two song sung by bassist Bella Quinlan. If Only is pretty and pensive and the flip, a cover of Lucinda Williams’ I Just Wanted To See You So Bad is a real barn burner. The Quivers have a knack for songs that a dusty Americana tinge and this fits their M.O. perfectly.
17. Delivery – Personal Effects (Feel It)
Melbourne’s Delivery return with their second single (and debut album) this year. The group smartly give Personal Effects the single treatment. Its slithery hook jabs you in the side and sounds like a 90’s cocktail of Lucious Jackson, Cibo Matto and the Breeders mixed in with some modern day bitters like Vintage Crop and the Stroppies is a winning elixir.
18. Lande Hekt – Romantic (Emotional Response)
Romantic is a great sleepy bedroom pop song. Think Fazerdaze, Snail Mail, Jay Som or Alvvays. The flip has a beautiful cover of the Wedding Present’s Octopussy, practically making it her own. Hekt has combined an inspiration with a result of an inspiration to great effect.
19. Holiday Crowd – Party Favors (Shelflife)
Canada certainly has a leg up on indiepop these days. Ducks Ltd of course come to mind when you mention Toronto indie bands and the latest Holiday Crowd single jangles its way right into the conversation with its guitars that jangle and post-Smiths flamboyant melody. Holiday Crowd aren’t exactly prolific but with quality like this I’m happy to let them take their time and get it just right. Party Favours is some top shelf indiepop that shouldn’t be missed.
20. Neutrals – Bus Stop Nights EP (Static Shock)
Oakland’s Neutrals slip back into our collective consciousness with this four song seven inch single. These DIY jangly songs are sure to connect with fans of Television Personalities and Emotional Response labelmates Mick Trouble. The stand-out song Gary Borthwick Says is an ode(?) to that friend or relative that everyone has probably experienced at some point in their lives who stretches the truth and exaggerates their connections, qualities and achievements. I appreciate how good they are at identifying everyday scenarios and making memorable songs about them. A gift for certain.
21. Model Zero – Little Crystal (Sweet Time)
This single from this Memphis group channels rubber city rockers Devo along with some Idiot era Iggy Pop. Both songs channel good-time vibes and feature just the right amount of electronic sounds and guitars peppered with super catchy choruses. Totally fun single!
22. Zombierella – Rush Hour (Mosaique Records)
If you are old enough to remember, the saxophone in Rush Hour will take you back to some place in the 80’s when MTV played music videos and people still bought 7″ singles. Zombierella, aka Svetlana Nagaeva of Petersburgh, Russia has a cool almost robotic delivery and Rush Hour sounds as good as Kraftwerk being fronted by Grace Jones with an eastern European accent.
23. Horsegirl – Billy (Matador)
The 90’s are in full effect on the second Horsegirl single. Billy features a murky a guitar swirl that was inspired by that decade, but this group is nothing if not earnest and they deliver a great hook that may not get you the first time, but will definitely pay off after a couple more listens. Flip it over for a history lesson, or at least a cover of the Minutemen’s History Lesson Pt II. These kids make you really appreciate their diligence for the oldies.
24. Jeanines – Latest Light (Market Square)
Have the Jeanines written a song that extends beyond a minute and thirty seconds? I appreciate economy, because there are way too many songs floating out there these days. The two songs on this single quickly give off great vibes in the same autumnal, strummy, melancholy way that we’ve come to expect. And while they may not reach the highs of the two albums, they are certainly worth you time however limited it may be.
25. Royal Arch – La Nuit/Road to Light (Jigsaw/Make Me Happy/Fastcut)
Royal Arch from Athens, Greece really impress on their debut single. La Nuit features big guitars a solid rhythm section (the unsung secret ingredient of shoegaze) to create an impressionistic dreamy atmosphere and they have a predilection for a good complimentary vocal melody. Royal Arch’s sound fits nicely into that early 90’s UK shoegazer genre that still has legs after all these years.