2019 Singles of the Year
There hasn’t been much music blogging going on around here lately, but that doesn’t mean that music fandom has gone to bed. I guess this blog is part of a seemingly larger trend of the slow disappearance of the music blog. I guess a person can only sustain rabid fandom for so long. Nonetheless, the 7-inch single is still a thing and so is TFK year end singles list.
1. Melenas – Ya No Me Importa (Elsa/El Nebula)
This Spanish group who just signed with Trouble In Mind in the US follow up their ace debut LP from a couple years back with this 7-inch. It has a manic jangle that evoke the Dum Dum Girls and Shop Assistants. Spain lately has been carrying the indiepop flame for the rest of the world and these ladies are lead torchbearers.
2. Ducks Unlimited – Get Bleak (Bobo Integral)
Per capita, Canada have better quality indie bands than its wayward neighbor to the south. Toronto’s Ducks Unlimited are a fine example of a band taking 80′ UK jangle of the like of Azetec Camera and the Bluebelles adding their own twist and making it sound fresh and new.
3. Constant Mongrel – Experts In Skin (Upset! the Rhythm)
Australian post-punkers come up with a Chameleons – Comsat Angels inspired dark raging beauty of a song. In the post punk hey-day of the early 80’s the fear was of nuclear holocaust. Fast forward to today where we not only have that worry, but add to it global warming, and general anarchy. Experts in Skin’s dark dour groove will at least get you on the dance floor as the world burns.
4. Den Baron – Bonving (Cloudberry)
Apparently there is a little-known sport called Bonving where you throw shoes across a field into an opponent’s waste bin. It was invented by the Swedish band Eggstone and never really took off, except in certain circles in Germany. That’s where Den Baron come in singing this ode to the sport. Judging by the jangly sprightliness of this song they really love Bonving.
5. Automatic – Calling It (Stones Throw)
You won’t find a single guitar in songs by this LA band, just sharp Tubeway Army synths, slithery grooves and icy cool vocals. Calling it packs an intense wallop while the b-side synthesizes the Delta 5 classic Mind Your own Business.
6. Bananagun – Do Yeah (Anti Fade)
Bananagun’s Do Yeah channels some sunny Donovan into the garage and comes up with a trippy garage rock number that evokes daisies and Cameros. Not bad for a first single from a bunch of Melbourne youngsters.
7. Failed Flowers – Faces (Slumberland)
This single sees Fred Thomas and Anna Burch getting the band back together. Side A is Anna and the B-side is Fred. Can’t decide which is better, but I have definitely decided I need to hear more of this!
8. A Certain Smile – Cherry Bomb (Jigsaw)
Portland’s A Certain Smile return with a blistering single that buzzes from the turntable vibrating the room with warm poppy vibes. B-side Original Replacement sounds like an ode to the Replacements in not only name, but also its similarity to Hear Comes a Regular.
9. All We Are & Alex Kapranos – Heart Attack (Speedy Wunderground)
The arch duke Alex Kapranos turns in an impressive impression of Ian Dury on This single. Heart Attack gets you moving with a funky disco groove and provides many reasons to be cheerful despite singing about a life threatening situation.
10. Makthaverskan – Demands (Run for Cover)
It’s been a few years since it seemed like there was a new great Swedish band every other week. Gothenburg’s Mathavershakan jangle and rock sounding like a band that grew up in 80’s Los Angeles and moved to UK in the 90’s and then ended up in Sweden in the 00’s. Classic sounding pop that cuts straight to the chase.
11. Mr Ben & the Bens – Nova Scotia (Bingo)
Great Gorky’s! A UK band with a delightfully disarming ode to the Pop Explosion music festival that took place back in the 90’s in Halifax. Great big guitars blast out and give way to meandering synths to make this quirky hit.
12. The Proctors – Letters To the Girl (Shelflife)
The Procotors have been around since the mid-90’s. Letters to the Girl may be the pinnacle of their existence. It’s a soaring song with jangling guitars an airy melody and a earworm of a chorus.
13. Ex-Void – Only One (Prefect)
Former Joanna Gruesome members form a new band that sort of sounds like their old one,but also nods at 90’s indie trio Small Factory. Only One sounds like they caught lightening in a jar. Hope there’s more where that came from.
14. Current Affairs – Buckle Up (dotx3)
Buzzing Wire like guitars and possibly some Chameleons dark urgency ringing In there along with plucky vocals reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux make for quite a ride back to the 80’s and some riding through territory as the Constant Mongrel single above.
15. Eggy – Billy (Spoilsport)
More slightly askew, garage-y Melbourne goodness courtesy of Eggy. Four songs here, the highlight being Bar Fred which drives itself into your personal comfort bubble and makes it more comfortable.
16. Tiña – I Feel Fine (Speedy Wunderground)
The Speedy Wunderground label has a strong 7-inch singles game. They don’t adhere to a narrow aesthetic except quality pop. Tiña provide a Camper Van Beethoven style riff and mix in some Wonder Stuff to come up with a slice of pop magic.
17. eGGS – A Certain Smile (Howlin Banana)
(Not the DC/Northern Virginia/TeenBeat Eggs) Parisian eGGSindie rockers follow up their 10″ from last year with two more jangly numbers inspired by Flying Nun bands like the Clean and the Bats. A Certain Smile blends in some early Church sounds as well for winning combination, and the b-side Picture Book lays down some drone-y driving vibes to complete a darn good single.
18. Tight Knit – Too Hot (Not Unloved)
Tight Knit’s lo-fi pop will have you guessing 90’s Olympia, Washington. Nope. Melbourne, Australia 2019. Too Hot has an endearing demo sound quality that makes it sound like you’re in the same room as the band. Add in some jangling guitar and catchy melody and you’ve got indiepop gold.
19. Wild Honey – Naive Castle (Slumberland)
Wild Honey’s contribution to the Slumberland singles club sees them pulling inspiration from Heaven or Las Vegas era Cocteau Twins. They’ve shed some of their shoegaze haze and replaced it with chiming pop hooks. It feels like a logical progression to the bands evolving sound and west coast relocation.
20. Le SuperHomard – Domino (Elefant)
Le Superhomard could have take the rest of the year off after releasing their excellent LP Meadow Lane Park, but instead chose to team-up with Tahiti 80’s Xavier Boyer. Both songs feature Boyer on vocals and effortlessly mesh Le Superhomard’s swirling synth pop with Tahiti 80’s lounge pop.
21. Penelope Isles – Chlorine (Bella Union)
Chlorine is a slice of UK guitar pop wormed its way into my favorite songs despite the inane lyrics and no actual chorus. “Chlorine you itch my feet,
You make me clean, Or so it seems, You make me smell a certain way sings Jack Wolter. Ah, the joys of learning how to do your own wash.
22. Vital Idles – Break (Upset! the Rhythm)
Break A as well as the other three songs here are exercises in restrain and patience. I keep expecting each song to explode into a giant freak out, but Glasgow’s Vital Idles are experts in holding back and yet somehow make each song compelling and interesting.
23. Cabin Essence – For Your Love (Good Land)
With a name like Cabin Essence you’ve gotta assume a heavy Beach Boys vibe, right? Landlocked in Milwaukee, they must store up the sunshine in barrels and funnel it into songs like For Your Love which they can play through the cold winter months to keep themselves going.
24. Tyvek – Changing Patters of Protective Coating (Self-released)
Detroit punks still going after all these years. This four song single keeps to the band’s pointy pop punk formula sandwiching two instrumentals with two of Kevin Boyer’s better songs.
25. Sex Sucks – Safe Pain (Croq/Mac)
French band seemingly inspired by Australian group the Triffids offer up this wide screen dramatic pop platter. All three songs conjure up vibrant drama painted with bits of organ, guitar and memorable choruses.
26. Group Photos – Safety (Box Bedroom Rebels)
Hailing from the inland empire down in southern California, this dreampop band effortlessly create atmospheric pop that glides off the turntable. This being a Box Bedroom Rebels release, you get seven songs on the vinyl and additional 3 on the download and still it’s not enough.
27. Rubber Blanket – New Garbage Truck (Space Case)
Wounded Lion’s Brad Eberhart and Lars Finberg of the Intelligence team up to make this slightly silly little ditty. An ode to the cleanest garbage truck in town may not be for everyone, but then if it was you wouldn’t be here.
28. Working Mens Club – Bad Blood (Melodic)
Bad Blood is a bit of Franz Ferdinand inspired pop from this young group withthe potential to get young folks off their phones and onto the dance floor. The b-side is a more in the Joseph K – Orange Juice vein and slightly more interesting because of it.
29. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – In the Capital (Sub Pop)
In the Capital features a chorus that evokes classic stuff written by Grant McClennan. It breezes over you, and at first you don’t quite notice it, but then it faintly tugs at you and soon you want to hear it again and again.
30. Cozy Slippers – A Million Pieces (Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten)
This cozy Seattle group channel early 10,000 Maniacs on the guitar driven a-side and the Bangles on the b-side. A perfect match.
31. Carla Dal Forno – So Much Better (Kallista)
So Much Better sort of reminds me of Robyn Hitchcock’s Raymond Chandler Evening with its noir-ish and eerie feel. “The Pavement is beneath me and a sense of pending doom” sings Dal Frono and you know it ain’t good. Is it a murder that hasn’t happened yet?
32. Lake Ruth – Extended Leave (Slumberland)
New York City’s Lake Ruth subscribe to the same channels as Stereolab, Broadcast, Vanishing Twin and Le Superhommard of swirling synths, icy vocals and looping rhythms. Extended Leave is a autumnal tune that whooshes by in a huff, and pulls you along towards the light.
33. RVG – Alexandra (Our Golden Friend)
RVG finally follow up their jaw-dropping debut with this single. It’s good, but doesn’t quite reach the highs of A Quality of Mercy. Still, Alexandra is good, mostly due to band leader Rommy Vager dramatic singing and her ability to just about any old thing to life.
34. Euromilliard – Élève Modèle (Polly Maggoo)
Euromilliard are like a French version of Australia’s Eddy Current Supression Ring. They make a groove based post punk racket with a singer that has a delivery somewhere between singing, talking and yelling. Élève modèle is a ragging song and nearly worth the €666.66 it costs to download it.
35. The Cool Greenhouse – Landlords (Drunken Sailor)
The Cool Greenhouse are like an absurdist version of the Fall. With Landlords you know it was inspired by that Manchester band, but they take it to such an extreme that it goes beyond the influence into something that is entirely itself which is minimalist programmed beats and blips with a guy talking about seemingly random stuff. I can’t get enough of it.