Singles of the Year Countdown: 10-1

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.

1. Unnatural Helpers – Sunshine/Pretty Girls (Hardly Art)

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.

mp3: Sunshine / Pretty Girls


2. Tender Trap – Do You Want a Boyfriend? (Slumberland)

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.

mp3: Do You Want a Boyfriend?


3. The Limiñanas – I’m Dead (Hozac)

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.

mp3: I’m Dead


4. Outdoor Miners – Twelve Hundred Dollars (Pop Echo)

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!

mp3: Twelve Hundred Dollars


5. Myron and E with the Soul Investigators – It’s A Shame (Now Again)

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.

mp3: It’s a Shame


6. Frankie & The Heartstrings – Fragile (Pop Sex Ltd.)

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.

mp3: Fragile


7. Catwalk – (Please) Don’t Break Me (Captured Tracks)

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.

mp3: (Please) Don’t Break Me


8. Liechtenstein – Passion For Water (Fraction)

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.

mp3: Passion For Water


9. German Measles – Color Vibration (Wild World)

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.

mp3: Color Vibration


10. Felt Letters – 600,000 Bands (M’lady)

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.”

mp3: 600,000 Bands

[40-31] [30-21] [20-11] [10-1]

Another Pop Overload (This One Goes to 11)

It’s been a crazy week over here at Finest Kiss central.  The fiber has been clogged with ace songs piping from various points of dissemination.  Keeping up is a pain and a blast at the same time.  To quote one of those 80’s teen movies: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So in a futile attempt to keep up, let’s stop and look around.


This has been out since sometime in March, but it just showed up in my mailbox this week.  Ireland’s Girls Names do something that only Irish bands can do, and that is make gritty, anthemic indie rock.  They just sold out of the second pressing of their EP that’s out on Tough Love, but you can still get the superior Captured Tracks four song 12″.  They’re a little bit of A House some Power of Dreams and a whole lot of bombastic, reverbed goodness.

mp3: Girls Names – Graveyard (grab the EP from Captured Tracks)


Joining the PENS in the post post riot grrrl UK are Trash Kit.  Like the PENS they are a trio that bring to mind Huggy Bear, Skinned Teen and looking even further back the Raincoats and the Slits. Fame is a minimalist, hand clapping umm, riot.

mp3: Trash Kit – Fame (grab the album from Upset the Rhythm)


Moving back over the US of A, Frisco to be exact.  Wet Illustrated were born stoked.  California-speak for indie-rock surfers.  Their debut 7″ was recorded by Fresh & Onlys‘ Tim Cohen (where does he find the time?).  Wet Illustrated use to be a Television Personalities cover band.  I bet they know the Art Museums.

mp3: Wet Illustrated – Born Stoked (click here to buy their record from Corvette City Records)


This Many Boyfriends single I Don’t Like You (‘Cos You Don’t Like The Pastels) could be the trainspotters’ single of the year.  Sounding like a meld of the Pooh Sticks and Art Brute and reinforcing the notion that in today’s society it’s not what you’re like, it’s what you like!

mp3: Boyfriends – I Don’t Like You (‘Cos You Don’t Like The Pastels) (pre-order from Thee SPC and be the first on you block to own it.)


I inadvertently saw Cloud Nothings at this year’s SXSW and was kinda smitten.   The Cleveland band’s  first album Turning On came out earlier this year and already the band is moving on.  A super limited 7″ came out on Group Tightener a few months ago and now Old Flame is about to unleash the Cloud Nothings next super jangly affair.

mp3: Cloud Nothings – Even If It Worked Out (per-order this from Old Flame, but hurry it’s limited to 300)


After three singles, former Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall is ready to release a full length album.  Going against the grain of her first three upbeat dancy singles she’s opted for a paranoid ballad.  Will her beau find her out as a uninteresting fake or figure out that Rose is the best thing to happen to him since, well, since forever?  We all know the answer to that, no?

mp3: Rose Elinor Dougall – Find Me Out (the single is up for order)


Shark Toys are from SoCal but remind me of the Intelligence albeit a much less blown-out Intelligence and one that grew up on Shrimper Records instead of  Wire the Urinals and Cabaret Voltaire.  Their first single came out earlier this year on Felter Skelter and it contains a song to live your life by…Stayed up all night and I listened to records…Yeah, I kinda know about that.

mp3: Shark Toys – Stayed Up (this 7″ is orderable from the venerable S-S records)


Oh man, is it good to hear the Vaselines again!  Last year when they played Seattle they did a couple brand new songs which gave us hope that a new album would eventually appear. Prayers have been answered, Sex With an X comes out in September on Sup Pop.  Amazingly this is their first new record in 20 years.  Now don’t get me wrong, I liked Eugenius and Suckle, but this new Vaselines’ song confirms the fact that they should have never broken up. Yeah the 80’s were shit, but at least they had the Vaselines.

mp3: The Vaselines – I Hate the 80’s (eventually buy-able from Sub Pop)


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 single comes on white vinyl and is out now, with a full album entitled Dansette, Dansette to follow soon.

mp3: Tender Trap – Do You Want a Boyfriend? (get your copy direct from Slumberland)


Aias answer the question: What happens when a C-86, lo-fi, girl group goes to Spain?  Answer, nothing really new, except it’s sung in Catalan.  That’s not really a gripe because these three chicas from Barcelona not only have the sound down but know how to write a song too.  It’s not really ground-breaking, that’s fine by me though, pushing the envelope is overrated.  Their debut 7″ recently came out on Captured Tracks 7″.  This song ain’t on it (but is still bueno).  It’ll be on their forthcoming album due any day now on Captured Tracks.

mp3: Aias – La Truita (take a leap and get the 7″ from Captured Tracks)


We have Bubblegum Lemonade to thank for making this post go to eleven. Their new single on Matinée is buzzing barrel of hooks and reminds me of a young Teenage Fanclub.    The A-side is a preview of the Scottish band’s upcoming second album.  It’s an ode to pirate radio, that uses the Beach Boys’ Caroline Knows for some kind of double entendre.  The single comes on red vinyl with two b-sides one of them Stalling and Laughing, alludes to hometown heroes Orange Juice, and is limited to 500 copies.

mp3: Bubblegum Lemonade – Caroline’s Radio (get some from Matinée)