Belated List of 2016 Seattle LP’s

Is it too late for a list of my favorite hometown albums from last year? Probably, so go ahead and send a letter to the editor if you are feeling list fatigue. Otherwise continue reading and I promise this is the last one till next year.

erikblood
1. Erik Blood – Lost In Slow Motion (Home Skillet)
Blood was involved in a lot of records this year, including recording two others on this list (Tacocat & Hotels). For his third album Erik Blood is still a solo act, but it’s mostly in name alone. Irene Barber provides additional guitar and singing throughout while it is book-ended by guest vocal appearances from Ismael Butler and OCnotes. He transcends any shoegaze pigeonhole he may have had and broadens his horizons to wide screen cinematic pop.

exquisites
2. The Exquisits – Home (Asian Man)
The Exquisits have a sweaty punk sound that brings to mind Van Morrisson, the Hold Steady and Buffalo Tom. I also love the way they deftly incorporate horns into their powerful pop making it even more exciting.

tacocat
3. Tacocat – Lost Time (Hardly Art)
Album number three finds Tacocat with no shortage of inspiration, Seattle, working on the weekend, X-Files and dealing with idiots on the internet. It is immediate and bright and speaks to you whether you are 14 or 40.

versing
4. Versing – Nude Descending (Youth Riot)
Reason number 99 for why I don’t own a record label: When I first saw Versing they played with the then unsigned So Pitted. A few months later So Pitted signed to Sub Pop and released record. Versing put their dissonant Pavement meets Swell Maps record out about a year later on the tiny Tacoma label Youth Riot.

vats
5. Vats – Green Glass Room (End of Time)
On the radio station that plays in my head, any song from this record would be played in a set that included Gang of Four, Lithics, A Frames and the Pheromoans. With its bony elbows, Green Glass Room  makes its own space in the dissonant,/angular/punk  room.

sloucher
6. Sloucher – Certainty (Swoon)
Sloucher’s Heatmiser meets Sebadoh takes you back to the 90’s heyday of Seattle rock history.

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7. Crater – Talk To Me So I Can Fall Asleep (Help Yourself)
This electronic duo due make dark and moody songs that are just light and breezy enough to dance too.

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8. Hotels – Night Showers (Self-released)
Hotels have been knocking around Seattle for years, and have released a number of albums and singles but none as good as their latest. Enhancing their atmospheric guitar based songs with luscious doses of horns and strings makes Night Showers really pop!

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9. Lisa Prank – Adult Teen (Father/Daughter)
Colorado transplant Lisa Prank writes bedroom punk rock similar to Colleen Green, like if the Ramones were in your bedroom and preferred a drum machine.

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10. Gazebos – Die Alone (Hardly Art)
Recorded by former Fastbacks guitarist Kurt Bloch and fronted by a couple Seattle indierock linchpins – T.V. Coahran who runs Gorgonzola  Records and Shannon Perry formerly of Butts and Katharine Hepburn’s Voice. This record  feels like it was made by a band of roving minstrels who found some wagons full of amplifiers. It’s loud with a slightly unhinged feel that keeps you on your toes .

The Inaugural Monthly Top Ten List

You may have noticed that I’ve been struggling to keep up around here: fewer and fewer posts, overflowing in box, long beard and unclipped nails. In an effort to get back on track and clean myself up I’m going to try and start doing a top ten list for each month of things that I’ve neglected to post about in the past month. Well, I’m already behind seeing as it’s October and I’m doing a top ten for September. Before it gets any later, here are ten things from the last month that merit some recognition.

1. The Aislers Set at Neumos

Aislers Set at Neumo's, Seattle

The Aislers Set breifly reunited for the Chickfactor 20th anniversary shows back in 2012. I saw that show and it was good, but seeing them a couple weeks ago in Seattle was even better. This was a brief West coast tour celebrating the reissue of all three of their LP’s from the 90’s (Slumberland & Suicide Squeeze). Linton and company were in top form this night performing their glistening pop that never got old.

2. The Intelligence at Lo-Fi

The Intelligence at the Lo-Fi, Seattle
Sadly the Intelligence are no longer based in Seattle, so the opportunities to see them live have greatly decreased since Lars Finberg’s migration to L.A. Other things have changed as well, This is not your kid brother’s Intelligence. Although this was a release party for reissue of their first LP Boredom and Terror (In the Red), they played a bunch of new songs that featured a powerful rhythm section and meaty jam sections to them. A far cry from the bedroom tape hiss of that first record. No, they haven’t turned into Phish, but they’ve evolved into something even more formidable than before. Can’t wait to hear the new album!

3. Fresh Hop Beer

hops
It’s harvest time and up here in the pacific NW, and that means hops. Fresh hop beer is made with hops just picked off the vine and when it’s done right, it’s a fruity mouthful of flavorful beer. You have to be quick though, because it’s made in limited quantities and it goes fast. Recommended ones that I’ve tasted this year include Fremont’s Cowiche Canyon, Fort George Fresh IPA and Schooner Exact’s Amarillo Fresh Hop. Still hoping to get a taste of Bale Breaker’s Piled High!

4. Erik Blood – Cannons Vol. 1 
Erik Blood, the guy that made a shoegaze record about porn has switched gears slightly into electronics and motorik beats. His new four song EP (free to download at his bandcamp) features Mahogany’s Andrew Prinz and Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler.

5. Fat White Family – I Am Mark E Smith 
I was nonplussed over Fat White Family’s debut album last year, but this new single has got my attention. They may be claiming to be the Fall front man, but they sound like they’ve been hanging out with David J and Daniel Ash.

6. Primitives – Spin-o-Rama 7″ 
The Primitives have a perfect pop single in Spin-o-Rama. It’s Bright and sunny. It’s got hand claps. It’s under three minutes and leaves you wanting more. You hear it once and you can immediately sing it. I defy you to to find a more immediately infectious song that’s come out this year.

7. Go-Betweens Box Set – G Stands for Go-Betweens (Domino)

gobetweens
Just the other day I was pining for someone to reissue the Go-Betweens catalog on vinyl, since I never see them in the used bins. I should have been more specific in my wishing and added that they be individually released and affordable. Domino announced last week that they are planning a box set containing the first four Go-Be’s LP’s and four CD’s of rare stuff. It’s due to be released in January of 2015 and it’s only $160. Looks like I’ll still be scouring the used bins. Oh well.

8. Tacocat – Bridge To Hawaii (Hardly Art)
In between listening to and singing songs from Frozen my daughter will sing or play Tacocat’s Bridge to Hawaii. The first time this happened I did a double take and couldn’t figure out where she heard it. I like to think she heard it from me, but with kids these day’s you don’t want to ruin it for them by letting them know you like it too.

9. Butter the Children – True Crime 
When Brooklyn’s Sweet Bulbs split up after releasing one stellar self-titled LP, two bands immediately emerged from their ashes. The Butter the Children sect (Heaven’s Gate is the other sect) continue the warbly, spazzed-out guitar attack of Sweet Bulbs and feature Sweet Bulbs singer Inna but she’s more forward in the mix which I think makes for a unique and better combination. The band put up their album on bandcamp as a free download. I don’t know if this means they gave up trying to get it released by a label, broke up, or are simply a benevolent noise pop band.

10. Flowers – Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do (Kanine)
I wasn’t sure after the first few listens to Flowers debut album. They seemed to have toned down the noise for something more subtle. Recording with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler the London trio won me over with their minimalist approach that evokes the sparseness of Young Marble Giants, the smart intensity of the Spinnanes and the melancholy melodies of Everything But the Girl.

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

Tacocat Vs. Communists, College Football and Algae Blooms

Tacocat

The new Tacocat song is called Crimson Wave. It sounds like a surfing song fer sure, but I’m not sure it’s really about surfing. Dissecting the lyrics I think I might have a couple ideas to what it’s about. It could be about algae blooms caused by dinoflagellates that give the ocean a red hue and make it dangerous to eat shellfish during certain months of the year. They do mention surfing these waves, so maybe they like living on the edge surfing with dinoflagellates and algae. It could also be they are fans of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. They do mention calling in sick to work because of the Crimson Wave. Is that code for being too bummed out about their team losing the Iron Bowl and the Sugar Bowls this year? Of course it could about that Tom Clancy nuclear submarine movie. There are communists mentioned in the song and sharks in hot pursuit. Hmmm.

Whatever this song is about, it sounds like good clean fun. I like it.

Tacocat’s second album NVM is out February 25th on Hardly Art.

stream: Tacocat – Crimson Wave

I Am Your Density

Cold Beat and Childbirth at Cairo, Seattle | 9 November 2013

coldbeat

Everything about the neighborhood in Capitol Hill where Cairo the tiny clothing store, art space and music venue is nestled screams density. Try to park a your car near the place and you will likely be driving in circles for a while. Try to get a good spot in the back room of the of the space in the shop where bands play and you’ll either be on your tip toes trying to sneak a peak of the band or resign yourself to just hearing them play.
Cold Beat packed them in like sardines to the back room at Cairo last night. Lucky for me I’m tall, so I was able to sneak peaks of the San Francisco band while doing ballet moves.

Cold Beat are led by Grass Widow bassist Hannah Lew. Lew, taking a respite from Grass Widow, is exploring the darker regions of post punk that Grass Widow seems to be veering  more on the trajectory of their last album and the Milo Minute single where they covered both Wire and Portland’s Neo Boys. With Cold Beat she takes a slightly more colder synth approach, employing influences like Fad Gadget and the Normal with some current day Blank Dogs and Total Control.

The set included both Worms and Year 5772 from band’s debut EP just out now on Lew’s own Crime on the Moon label as well as bunch more similar sounding speed induced and harmony drenched rushes or adrenaline. Sitting on top of one of the amps behind Cold Beat there was a box that was labeled goth. I don’t think they let the goth out of the box, but the speedy dark harmony laced songs threatened it at every turn.
stream: Cold Beat – Worms (from the Cold Beat 12″)

Seattle’s self-described super-group Childbirth capped off the evening. Childbirth are the illegitimate offspring of Chastity Belt, Tacocat and Pony Time. They’re sort of a punky joke band. Actually that’s exactly what they are. Looking like they just snuck out of Swedish Hospital, they played with hospital gowns on and had songs like I only fucked you as a joke and Breast Coast.

stream: Childbirth – I Only Fucked You as Joke

I missed the first band of the night Display because I was driving around looking for parking. You can read an interview that Hannah Lew did with the SF Bay Guardian about Cold Beat here.

The Courtneys in the 206 Tonight

courtneys

The Courtneys are from Vancouver, BC and currently making their way down the west coast of North America in support of their self-titled debut album. It’s snotty, adolescent fun that reminds me of Tuscadero, Tacocat and Bratmobile. The record is full of super melodic and slightly shambolic songs. Sure some of the rhymes are obvious and the topics daft (90210, Keanu Reeves) but their enthusiasm and innate ability to deliver pop hooks make it easy to overlook a few shortcomings from this promising young band.

The Courtneys play Seattle tonight at Heartland along with Chastity Belt, Bingo and Mega Bog.

courtneys_cover
stream: The Courtneys – Delivery Boy

The initial pressing of their album is sold or from their label Hockey Dad Records, but you can still get a copy from Revolver. A second pressing is in the works.

Catch the Courtneys in California:
Jun 26 – The Knockout, San Francisco, CA
Jun 27 – Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco, CA
Jun 29 – Pehrspace, Los Angeles, CA

Save Yourself For Chastity Belt

Walla Walla, Washington is known for its onions and wines, not so much for all girl punk bands. Come to think of it I don’t know of any all boy punk bands from there either. Being stuck in the southeast corner of the state subsisting on onions and wine can do funny things to a person. To prove it Chastity Belt have moved to Seattle with tall tales of dudes with ponytails, alien abductions, giant vaginas, big pick-up trucks and sleeping with the dead.

Their latest EP called Dude is three short sharp jabs of melody and hilarity.  Ponytail is a raucous minute and half that totally disses a dude for his ponytail comparing him to Steven Seagal, Thomas Jefferson and a Barbie doll. Aliens is about lusting after the apparent many aliens that land in less populous places, and Cadaver is, um, well a love song that doesn’t really contain a laugh, but instead shows that they can be not funny too. Chastity Belt are parts Young Fresh Fellows, Wimps and Tacocat. Funny on the outside, but yearning on the inside .

mp3: Chastity Belt – Ponytail (from the Dude EP available from Chastity Belt’s bandcamp)