Living in the Past or I’m Still In Love With 2017

Those pesky end of year best of lists should really not come out until March, but that’s not likely considering that internet lives in future tense. It’s the end of February, 2018 but I’m still discovering records from last year that could have easily been included on my best of 2017 list. In my futile attempt to not be ruled by the hurry up what’s next mantra, here are a handful of releases from last year that I’ve discovered on the wrong side of the calendar for the internet.

Paul Messis

Paul Messis is a busy guy. He runs the Market Square record label and fronts the punk rock Suburban Homes. In his free time, he squeezed in some time to released his third solo record at the end of last year on Austin’s 13 O’clock record label.  Songs of Our Times is a 12 string drenched , late 60’s tour of folk-y protest rock. The songs have a raw feel with lyrics inspired by these upside down times of the current day

The Tahitian Sons

While your friends are spending over thirty bucks a pop to reaffirm their love of Felt, you can go the cheaper route and download the two latest EP’s from Manchester’s Tahitian Sons. I hope that is all I need to say about this band to pique your interest. The seven song Blackpool Peppers and six track Dice Dance slipped out in December as download only EP’s on Bandcamp.  Both are name your price on bandcamp so there’s no excuse!



Forever Pavot

Fifty Years from now I can see a label like Finders Keepers reissuing Forever Pavot’s records. The second album by Emile Sornin’s ensemble features a move soundtrack feel than the previous Rhapsode. Nevertheless, it still features a 60’s sci-fi feel that bands like Broadcast and Stereolab borrowed from Peter Thomas. I

Joshua Abrams

One of my favorite Stereolab songs is Soop Groove #1, a b-side on the Fluorescences single. It is 13 minutes of a hypnotic groove that doesn’t really go anywhere but is capable of placing you into another state of conscious. Chicago jazz guy Joshua Abrams has taken that 13 minutes and expanded it into an entire album. It’s absolutely brilliant. But you shouldn’t take my word for it, because I’ve been under hypnosis since hearing it.

Helta Skelta

I really hadn’t paid too much attention to Australia’s Helta Skelta’s hardcore act up to now. Their Nightclubbing single (no association with Iggy Pop song) which came out in October has a very Eddy Current Suppression Ring feel to it, and since I doubt that we’ll ever hear another ECSR record, this record deserves a posthumous single of the year award.

Total Control

Speaking of ECSR, guitarist Mikey Young’s other band Total Control released their third album at the tail end of last year. The hard core set found it disappointing because it had too much melody and not enough aggression. Not being a real punk, I found it delightful. They’ve obviously been listening to Microdisney and Fatima Mansions and have bent their songs into subversive melody while keeping the tension at a high level, just a little differently than before.

Telepathic

I should pay closer attention to the Third Uncle label, also home of Honey Radar. From the ashes of Bleeding Rainbow, Telepathic have emerged with a stronger sense of being and set of really tight set of fuzzy lo-fi songs that sound best when they bleed into the red.

Les Filles de Illighadad

If you dig the hypnotic effects of Joshua Abrams, take a trip to the Sahara. Named for their village Illighadad, in the Tahoua region of Niger, Lilles de Illighadad’s second album Eghass Malan is just the thing. The humming rhythm combines with lullaby-like vocals and sublime guitar to create higher states of being.

Swim Team – Lazeritis split 7-inch

This split single between two Melbourne bands is an all girl win-win. Swim Team’s Positively Hopeless reminds me of a Marine Research – Tiger Trap combination that will make the 90’s feel like yesterday. Lazeritis’ Little Sister is more punk, but not of the riot grrl style. The chorus of ‘We’ll shake shit up till they all turn blue” is a real fist-raiser.

Leon

leon

SmartGuy records, the ones who brought you singles by Total Control, the Boomgates and Rat Columns have a new single. Leon Stackpole of Ooga Booga‘s fame using just plain old Leon has just released a four song 7-inch.

The Ooga Booga’s were some weird combination of garage, kraut and disco, but here Leon strikes out down a more pastoral introspective road. Where the Ooga Booga’s sounded like a party band, Leon’s new four song EP is like the comedown. He gets some help on guitar from Ooga Booga’s cohort Mickey Young. All four songs have a Velvet Underground feel to them. Angry Again is dissonant VU, Sentimental Stranger is the sleepy Sunday morning country VU and Eat Sleep and Spy is the pop single buried in the rough. Quality stuff!

 

Oddities

rsb

So you’re perusing the internet and you come across something about a band that is made up of members of Total Control, UV Race, East Link and Dick Diver. What do you do? Try not to get too excited, right? Why haven’t you heard of this band before? Have you had your coffee yet today? Do you take sugar?

Well the the first thing I would tell you is that there is nothing obvious about Russell St. Bombings. If you’re looking for the next great unheard pop record from down under then you are looking under the wrong rock. This is an intentionally difficult record. It’s something that probably started as jam between friends and then because it had a few elements that were intriguing it continued.

Hey lets go get some beer and noodle around. A studio costs too much, so lets record ourselves with our phones. What’s the flight time from Perth to Manila?  Let’s use odd tunings and make the songs run together. Have you ever recorded a guitar solo in an airplane toilet?

The Clean were known to go off on tangents like this and they called those records Oddities. Today I was scraping moss from the steps in the back when out popped a somewhat large wormlike creature. Pop songs squirm out of the cracks unexpectedly, and then they burrow back down into the dirt just as quickly.  If Syd Barret would have conducted symphonies I think this is what it may have sounded like on the even days.

Oddly I find myself listening to this a lot more than I ever would have thought. Sometimes it feels good to listen to music that isn’t obvious. It’s exciting because you don’t know where it’s going and it’s exciting because you get the feeling that the band don’t exactly know where it’s going either. Where are you going?

Russel Street Bombings is out now on SmartGuy Records

Another Year, Another List: Best of Albums 2014

Here are the non-Seattle albums that spun the most in my rabbit hole over the past 12 months. The countdown starts with number 40, so you will have to scroll all the way down to find number one. For the first time I think, it contains some albums that did not see a physical release. With more and more music being exclusively released to air conditioned server farms I wonder if we’ll see a day when the minority of the list is made of records that had the privilege of getting a physical release? Most folks with all of their fancy means of consuming streams of music call that progress. Me, I just try to roll with it.

cold-beat-over-me
40. Cold Beat – Over Me (Crime On the Moon)
Truth be told, I like Cold Beat more than Hanna Lew’s previous band Grass Widow. The post-punk vibes on Over Me are just the right mix of early Dum Dum and Vivian Girls melodies and the spiky, jangly playfulness of Wire and Tubeway Army. High points like the stellar Mirror hit the ungodly sweet spot of driving beat, dissonance, and melody.

Hookworms_the_Hum_cover
39. Hookworms – The Hum (Domino)
My main complaint with the Hum is that it’s nearly a carbon copy of last year’s number one album Pearl Mystic. The same interludes that have roman numerals for titles and it even contains last year’s number one single Radio Tokyo. That complaint is also why I still love this album. It’s nothing new, but it’s totally solid.

SGL
38. Skygreen Leopards – Family Crimes (Woodsist)
It’s hard to believe that Skygreen Leopards have been a band since 2001 and that this is their eighth album. The band have been quietly churning out wonderful psychedelic beauties inspired by Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds and the Television Personalities for quite a long whild. This may be their most accomplished record to date, and if you like this, there is a treasure trove of Skygreen Leopards to discover.

smallreactions
37. Small Reactions – Similar Phantoms (Self-released)
Another self-released record in this year’s count down. I have a feeling in another year of two the list will be a majority of self-releases. Atlanta’s Small Reactions conjure krautrock from the below the Mason Dixon line. Influenced by Can, Stereolab and probably the Wedding Present, which makes them strangers in a strange land. Similar Phantoms is the real deal with some amazing bass playing (I’m still in awe that it’s not machine). Tons of pulses and killer grooves that will vibrate and rattle your too comfortable existence.

pheromoans
36. Pheromoans – Hearts of Gold (Upset the Rhythm)
If you were to judge this album by its cover you might think that Pheromoans are an odd lot who are into druids, fantasy game-play and general weirdness. You would be mostly right.  This equally prolific and obscure band have released their most consistently entertaining album yet, knowing how to keep things interesting with just the right amount of weirdness and melody.

ramonalisa
35. Ramona Lisa – Arcadia (Terrible)
Ramona Lisa is solo nom de guerre of Caroline Polachek of Chairlift. Obviously influenced by Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins and Goldfrappe, but still able to make esoteric synthetic sounds in a mold all of her own. This record seemed to get written off as just a minor solo excursion by most, but it delighted me throughout the year and I have a feeling it will continue to do so for a long time to come.

verticalscratchers
34. Vertical Scratchers – Daughter of Everything (Merge)
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen this record in the used bins around time. Every time I see it I fight the urge to buy it again and gift it to someone. John Schmersal was in Brainac and Enon and you can hear those bands in Vertical Scratchers, but it’s the organic feel to it that harks back to the Elephant Six collective of the 90’s that really makes it endearing.

ratcolumns
33. Rat Columns – Leaf (RIP Society)
Rat columns achieve a zen like balance of murky depths and pristine shimmery pop. Guitars glisten with rays of light over a cold dark expanse. Rat king David West likes to straddle the extremes the way that the Church and the Cure always did. Recorded with the help of Kelley Stoltz, Leaf is just the right elixir of light and dark.

alpacasports
32. Alpaca Sports – Sealed With a Kiss (Luxury)
Sweden’s Alpaca Sports is most definitely twee, but their brand of twee is almost subversive. So cute and cuddly that you know that they have a dark side. They probably hide their death metal records when friends come over. Sealed With a Kiss is a record that could melt a cold dark heart with its sweet sugar charms. You can always hide it when your metal friends come over to visit.

Lauras
31. The Lauras – The Lauras (Self-released)
There’s something both so right and so wrong about giving away an album this good for free. Wrong, because there was a time when bands this good could sell records. Right, because well, music this good for free is like free beer. You can’t believe your luck. Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Laura’s would not have been out of place on the One Last Kiss compilation that came out on SpinArt in 1992. Their swirling guitars and ethereal vocals remind me of the Lilys and the Swirlies with a bit of bossa nova thrown in for good measure.

TySegal
30. Ty Segall – Manipulator (Drag City)
My main complaint about der wunderkind Ty Segall has been his inability to be consistent. He seems to have conquered this weakness on his double LP Manipulator. Taking a T-Rex blueprint and running with it he strings together 17 songs that maintain consistency throughout. The kid may have finally done it.

pow
29. Pow! – High Tech Boom (Castle Face)
Hi Tech Boom is a commentary on the current state of affairs in certain desirable cities. Techie nerds with their high salaries and bad taste are infiltrating the system and making it nearly impossible to eke out a living. No one knows that better than Pow! who come from the San Francisco bay area. Their post-apocalyptic vibes are akin of Devo the A-Frames and the Intelligence. And you thought Logan’s Run was just a movie.

flowers
28. Flowers – Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do (Kanine)
Recorded with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler this 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.

talbotadams
27. Talbot Adams – Talbot Adams (Spacecase)
For all intents and purposes, this was Talbot Adams’ debut album. Last year’s download only album was made up mostly of acoustic self-produced home recordings was a self released download only record. Now he has a proper band and has delivered an electric powerpop record with a psychedelic streak to it.

univers
26. Univers – L’estat Natural (Famelic)
Barcelona based moody rockers Univers live in the sun, but  sound like the moody cellar dwelling southern cousins of Girls Names, early Cure and Big Country. L’estate Natural is sung in their native Catalan, adding a bit of mystery to its onslaught of soaring and darting guitars.

exhex
25. Ex Hex – Rips (Merge)
Mary Timony has been in her share of good bands. She could proudly retire with her resume of Autoclave, Helium, the Spells, and Wild Flag. Thankfully she’s not ready to hang up her axe. Ex Hex is in different league from all of those bands. Slick pop inspired by Cheap Trick and the Pretenders that is all killer and absolutely no filler.

sugarstems
24. Sugarstems – Only Come Out at Night (Dirtnap)
Sugar Stems singer Betsy Heibler has an amazingly strong voice. It easily cuts through her band’s twin guitar powerpop attack. Containing a great mix of Cheap Trick, the Bangles, the Nerves, this is easily one of the best powerpop records of the past few years.

vicgpdard
23. Vic Goddard – 1979 Now! (AED)
Somehow Vic Goddard has been hoarding this treasure trove of northern soul since 1979. The guy can really keep a secret. A few have leaked out here and there like Holiday Hymn, but the majority are brand new to nearly everyone. Classic stuff 35 years later from the postman who thankfully rings twice!

TIM083.Paperhead.Africa-Avenue-LP.jkt
22. Paperhead – Africa Avenue (Trouble In Mind)
The third album from Nashville’s Paperhead has a definite antique glow to it. Africa sees the band maturing quickly and features their best songs yet. In the garage-psych realm of things (Face to Face era Kinks and Rubber Soul Beatles) it don’t get much better than this.

butterthechildren
21. Butter the Children – True Crime (Self-released)
Former members of Brooklyn’s Sweet Bulbs follow up their 2012  self-titled EP with a stormy noisepop beauty that features the siren-like vocals of Inna Mkrtycheva. This album is too good to be a free download, but that’s what it is. Everyone count your chickens!

seapinks
20. Sea Pinks – Dreaming Tracks (CF)
On the fourth Sea Pinks album former Girls Names drummer Neil Brogan continues his west coast jangling affectations only this time he adds a cello into the mix with superb results. The cello adds a melancholy element to his airy songs making for the best Sea Pinks album yet.

The_Proper_Ornaments_-_Wooden_Head UltimatePainting_CoverArt-608x608
19. Proper Ornaments – Wooden Head (Slumberland) / Ultimate Painting – Ultimate Painting (Trouble In Mind)
Veronica Falls guitarist James Hoare was a busy guy this year and there wasn’t even a new Veronica Falls album. He was at the center of two excellent records this year nonetheless, both of which shared an affinity with the Velvet Underground. For the first act, he teamed up with the Argentinian Max Claps in Proper Ornaments for a haunting set of songs that added in some Left Banke for good measure. Act two was Ultimate Painting, his collaboration with the Mazes’ Jack Cooper. This one was more straightforward Velvets stuff, but great songwriting refurbished a tried and true model.

quilt
18. Quilt – Held In Splendor (Mexican Summer)
The Boston band’s second album surpasses their good debut with a batch of psychedelic circle dances that sparkle and shimmer, effortlessly creating their own brand of psych with one foot in the past and other in the next star system.

omipalone
17. Omi Palone – Ome Palone (Faux Discx)
The singer of Omi Palone has a baritone voice that makes you wonder what Calvin Johnson is up to these days. It’s a little more polished than that Olympia band’s oeuvre, but contains many of the same unique melodic twists and turns. This London band have quietly released a concise and economical (it’s only 8 songs) of blistering jangle reminiscent of Beat Happening, Butterglory and the Clean.

nun
16. Nun – Nun (Aarght!/Avanti)
Melbourne’s Nun play dark, piercing, icy coldwave inspired music. Their debut album sounds so cold and detached that you’ll need to bundle up and experience it with friends to withstand its isolation inducing aura.

soundcarriers
15. Soundcarriers – Entropicalia (Ghost Box)
I love how Nottingham’s Soundcarriers use their Free Design influence as inspiration. At times sounding as innocent as that late 60’s / early 70’s cult band  and others they can sound sinister and mysterious. They even enlist the help of Elijah Wood on a 12 minute trippy soliloquy to add to the surrealism of the entire endeavor.

chookrace
14. Chook Race – About Time (Self-released)
About Time was only released in December, but the debut record from this Melbourne trio is so immediate it easily climbed into the upper reaches of my top 40. The album is filled with boy-girl harmonies and jangling guitars that have similarities with the Bats and early REM.

sleaford
13. Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit (Harbinger Sound)
This was the year that Sleaford Mods blew up. Well, at least in certain internet circles. They are certainly better known than they’ve ever been. Their distinctly British style of rap is not for the faint of heart, as this duo rages against the ruling class machine and mainstream bullshit over spare and ragged beats. No one else this year sounded this angry nor delivered their angst in such a manic and entertaining way.

asunnydayinglasgow
12. A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent (Lefse)
A Sunny Day in Glasgow turned a major page on Sea When Absent. Previously they were a mild mannered shoegaze band that kind of floated through you with little effect. They’ve kept their shoegaze roots, but morphed into a bigger life affirming pop band that demands attention with their new form of shoegaze gospel.

PeterEscott
11. Peter Escott – The Long O (Bedroom Suck)
Peter Escott is also the singer of the Native Cats from Tasmania. On the Long Glow Escott wrote, played and rececorded everything. He sticks to piano and other keyboard oriented sounds that evoke an understated psychedelic tone that warms the sole and fits comfortably next to Frank Tovey, the Cleaners from Venus and Robyn Hitchcock.

woodentops
10. Woodentops – Granular Tales (Cherry Red)
After reuniting to play some shows the Woodentops finally decided to record a follow up to their 1988 album Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway. You know it’s the Woodentops as soon as you hit play, though the band don’t come off as hyper as they did 25 years ago which wouldn’t make sense since it’s been so long. It’s decidedly darker but still danceable and utterly delightful.

Gwenno
8. Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf (Peski)
Former Pippette Gwenno’s first solo album is a strictly Welsh affair. Inspired by Welsh sci-fi writer Owain Owain and sung in Welsh, Y Dydd Olaf is a sublime affair with rubbery beats, ethereal vocals and spacey vibes in the vein of Broadcast and Stereolab.
totalcontrol

7. Total Control – Typical System (Iron Lung)
On the follow-up to 2011’s Henge Beat Total Control dial up a slightly more sedate and accomplished collage of synth-based pop. Lead by Australian garage rock luminary Mickey Young, the band delve into Ideal Copy era Wire, New Order and Depeche Mode territory while keeping their punk rock urgency and attitude intact which is truly a feat.

alvvays-self-titled
9. Alvvays – Alvvays (Polyvinyl)
This year’s countdown contains five self-released albums. There’s a ton of great records out there, only there aren’t enough labels to release them. Apparently this record came out as a self-released cassette over a year ago because they couldn’t find a label to release it. Polyvinyl finally came through to make this dreampop beauty available to the world at large.

tayi bebba cover
6. Clap! Clap! – Tayi Bebba (Black Acre)
Tayi Bebba is something of a concept album where Italian maestro Cristiano Crisci takes you on a megatransecto of an island’s micro climates, villages, pastures and other not so physical planes. He uses a palette of sounds culled from field recordings, tribal rhythms, creek crossings, big beats, jungle vibes and trade winds to paint quite an adventure of a record.

GOtoobeeds
5. Gotobeds – Poor People Are Revolting (12xU)
Pittsburgh’s Gotobeds like a good double entendre peppered with a tight jagged riff. Their debut album, is an elixir inspired by Pavement, the Fall and Wire (obviously) and packed full of adolescent energy, anger, spite and most importantly fun.

Primitives
4. Primitives – Spin-O-Rama (elefant)
A couple years ago Coventry’s Primitives reunited and released a covers album to mixed reviews. It turns out that it was just a warm up to the real goods. Spin-O-Rama surpasses all of their early work. It’s slightly more understated, but more long-lasting. They still deal in autumnal and sprightly 60’s inspired pop but the production is more sedated and the hooks are longer lasting this time.

HollieCook_cover
3. Hollie Cook – Twice (Mr. Bongo)
Hollie Cook’s second album is more tropical pop from the daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. Her collaboration with Prince Fatty continues to produce sensual reggae infused pop, filled with strings and Cook’s easy croon. Twice is great batch of songs including her ode to her former bandmate Slits singer Ari Up.

Tee-Tahs
2. Tee-Tahs – Buzzkill (self-released)
I don’t know what the legal limit of fun is in Edmunton, Alberta is, but Tee-Tahs have undoubtedly exceeded it on their debut album. This band doles out kinetic, irreverent fun. They’ve got an ear for a good chorus and can role phrases that are guaranteed to rile certain segments of the population. On Fun Forever they sing, “Kicking cans and breaking stuff, Fucking guys in parking lots, I don’t really give a fuck, I just wanna have fun forever.” It’s the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks updated by a bunch of Rat Babes for the millennial bunch.

Protomartyr
1. Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right (Hardly Art)
Earlier this year Protomartyr frontman Joe Casey wrote a review of the latest Interpol album because apparently a lot of people think his band sound like them. For the record, Casey doesn’t think they sound like Interpol and neither do I. They definitely have some post-punk roots, though more along the lines of the Chameleons (think Return of the Roughnecks), but there’s more, so much more here! Casey is one of today’s best lyricists who talks more than sings over his always solid and inventive band. They cook their Detroit roots into each of the tracks on Under Color of Official Right. The name of the album, the legal term for extortion, was inspired by the corruption trial of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. There are few albums these days that make you actually think. Protomartyr do what the best punk and and postpunk records from the past have done, grab you with their hooks and then send you to the library to do some research.

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.

Ooga Boogas Doing It for the Kid’s Kids

oogaboogas

The first Ooga Boogas album Romance and Adventure was sort of a spray paint by numbers garage rock record. Nothing to prepare you for how good and varied the band’s follow up album would be. Self-titled and brimming with ideas and confidence Melbourne’s Ooga Boogas finally return after a three year stretch of not much activity with album number two. The long wait isn’t surprising considering that guitarist Mikey Young seems to involved at some level with every single great record coming out of Australia at the moment. Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but being in Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control recording tons of other bands and mastering the records of tons more, these days if you flip an Australian record over and look at the credits his name is likely to be there somewhere.

Ooga Boogas have not left their garage roots, but the garage has been remodeled or converted rather. The record walks a line between ECSR and Total Control and sidesteps into Velvet Underground, Tubeway Army, Modern Lovers and the Soft Boys territories. The centerpiece of the record is an eight minute Fall meets Parliament Funkadelic funk work out called Sex In the Chillzone. The album is filled with a varied style and substance.  Oftentimes records like this get disparaged for not sticking to one specific style, but Ooga Boogas benefit from freedom of movement.

stream: Ooga Boogas – Sex In the Chillzone (from Ooga Boogas out on Aarght! Records)

Top 40 Singles of 2012: 10 – 1

No introduction needed really. Here are my top 10 favorite 7-inch records for 2012. Hope you like ’em too.

Intelligence

1. The Intelligence – (They Found Me In The Back Of) The Galaxy (In the Red)

First time I heard this song my jaw dropped. It was at the Crocodile in Seattle and Lars introduced it as an old song. At first I believed him, thinking it must have been on some obscure split 7-inch that came out in Moldova. Why did Finburg decide to relegate one of his best songs ever to a release in Moldova?  Of course he didn’t. The guy’s not an idiot. Maybe a little nuts.  Galaxy was in fact a new song that he initially recorded with another pop genius Kelley Stoltz. It’s the Intelligence at their best which is off their rocker (Why is he in the back of the Vatican with a manikin, and how do you exactly get to the back of the Galaxy? ). The single version is bit more lo-fi than the album version, but I could hear this song over short wave radio and it would still floor me.

Felines
2. Felines – Daddy Walk (Hey Girl!)

I love records that surprise the hell out of me and that is exactly what Daddy Walk did. The Felines somehow were either able to bottle lightening or sold their souls to some evil Norse god for this record. What is the Daddy Walk? Who the hell cares when it’s as crazy and wild as the Felines make it sound.

Scrapes
3. Scraps – Secret Paradise (Disembraining)

What if you got a computer girlfriend or boyfriend back in 1982 and it never got updated? That’s gotta be a movie, well at least it’s a song thanks to Laura Hill who records as the Scraps. Her bedroom synth compositions are part early Magnetic Fields and part Blow. Weird and abstract and dazzling, Scrapes make you feel like your floating in an electric ocean in 1982. Consequently that was the year Tron was released.

SprayPaint
4. Spray Paint – Pro Knife (S.S.)

Austin’s Spray Paint fly under the radar but make so much noise that they have been detected. Warped, angular, bizarre, off kilter, and bashing their way into existence. When I first heard this I didn’t believe my ears because I didn’t think there ever would be another band that could mix pop and weirdness to such detrimental effects. Nothing this year has sounded this good and fucked up at once.

Odd033 Sleeve
5. Blanche Hudson Weekend – Just Like Susan George (Odd Box)

Blanch Hudson Weekend blow the roof off the house with their ode to English actress Susan George. This reaches the heights that the Jesus and Mary Chain scraped back in the 80’s. That good. ‘Nuff said!

TerribleTruths
6. Terrible Truths- Lift Weights (Mexican Summer)

Kindred souls of Aggi Doom and Fear of Men, Adelaide, Australia’s Terrible Truths made their US debut with this icy cool single. Big fluid bass sounds that make you want to wiggle, while the jabbing guitar keeps you on edge.  If ever there was a case for a double A-side this is it. This is post-punk bossa nova. Quick, see if you can change that Ipanema ticket to Adelaide.

ChipsForthePoor
7. Chips For the Poor – Fistula (Parlour)

A chincy sounding drum machine, guitar riff that sounds like it came from an Analogue Africa compilation, and a singer that sounds part Shaun Ryder and part Mark E Smith: Chips for the Poor sounded like they may have invented themselves in some strange vacuum. If it means more singles like this I hope they become hermits.

Cuffs
8. Cuffs – Private View (Self-released)

Pant’s Yell called it a day rolled up their pants and called themselves the Cuffs. The new name fits. Pants Yell tended towards the move docile end of rock n’ roll. The Cuffs don’t want to snuggle they want to rock and that they most certainly do on their debut single. Powerpop with just a tinge of tenderness.

Paperhead
9. The Paperhead – Pictures of Her Demise (Trouble In Mind)

There seemed to be a lot of quality 60’s inspired psychedelia seeping into the collective conscious this year. The best of it all was the Paperhead’s Pictures of Here Demise. The Nashville band took Piper era Pink Floyd and Face to Face era Kinks and molded it into a hallucinogenic masterpiece.

TotalControl
10. Total Control – Scene From a Marriage (Sub Pop)

A classic case of putting the B-side on the A-side and the A-side on the B-side. Contract is the Charlie Brown side, getting the football pulled away by Lucy and the A-side Scene From a Marriage. The guys were probably afraid of scaring off their core audience or something, but Contract is so good it could  hypnotize even the most ardent tatt’d hard core dude onto the slippery slope of synth rock. Nah, not really this is Kraut influenced to the max so it’s got cred. La Düsseldorf in full effect and ya don’t stop. Pick up the needle and put it on again…and it keeps on ringing…