Monday, December 22, 2008

A Year of Sound Pt. 3

These are all singles compilations or other records that don't really conform to the album format. There have also been some essential reissues this year, as always. Cherry Red have stepped in and re-released Shop Assistants' only album as well as the Mo-Dettes compilation The Story So Far, with added bonus tracks (for some reason "White Mice" and a few other singles were not included on the original release!). A German label has finally put together a legitimate and remastered compilation of The Factory's output and Edition 59 have inexplicably put out one of The Laughing Apple's three eps again, apparently with McGee's consent which makes it even more unfathomable. There's a Friends singles comp on Summerhouse and retrospectives of indiepop obscurities Bluetrain and The Men of Westenesse. And of course there's the 10" vinyl version of Brittle Stars' masterpiece of an album.

1. caUSE co-MOTION! - It's Time! (Slumberland)
I almost wish Popmatters' description "a singles comp with no single" was correct so I could've put it at the top of my albums list. They couldn't be more wrong of course! Each one of the band's singles deserves a place on the list of that year's best singles. I would've put "I Lie Awake" and "Who's Gonna Care?" on mine but I'm trying not to include the same songs twice anywhere...

2. The Motifs - Cross Paths (Knock Yr. Socks Off)
Described as a new album, but really only includes three new songs. The other 20 are all from previous releases, most of which are now sold out or have never been available in Australia, where the label is based. So fair enough, and Melbourne's The Motifs have been one of my favourite bands this year.

3. The Manhattan Love Suicides - Burnt Out Landscapes (Squirrel)
Totally essential if you haven't picked up each and every one of the band's singles and eps! Mildly essential if you have, since it includes a few exclusive tracks and their Woxy session. All 27 tracks are mind-blowing, and they've already been at it again with two more 7"s on Squirrel, and there's more to follow next year!

4. Comet Gain - Broken Record Prayers (Milou Studios)
Another 'new record' which is almost a singles compilation, but also includes a few unreleased Peel Session tracks and one new song - a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Hard Times". Songs from most of their singles after 1998, including both sides of this year's "Love Without Lies". Not exhaustive in other words, but certainly exhausting.

5. Belle & Sebastian - The BBC Sessions (Jeepster)
Finally we're able to hear all those songs ripped from old tape recordings with decent sound quality. Mostly versions of songs that have already been released, but also the priceless quartet of songs from the 2001 Peel Session that never saw the light of day on record. The 'special edition' comes with a second cd with a live performance from Belfast in 2001 (from which some tracks were included on the The Boys Are Back In Town bootleg).

6. Jay Reatard - Matador Singles '08 (Matador) / Singles 06-07 (In the Red)
I couldn't very well have two entries with Jay Reatard, now could I? I don't even know which one I like best! Singles 06-07 at least has more songs on it... But really, pretty much everything one these two cds is cracking stuff.

7. The Summer Suns - Greatest (House of Wax)
There haven't been any reissues of The Summer Suns' jangly folk-rock until now. Kim has now put this together himself and released it on his old label House of Wax that was mostly active in the 80s. The cd includes seven tracks from the classic 1991 lp Calpurnia and fifteen songs from singles/eps/compilations. The last we heard from the band was the Bedbugs ep from 1996, but Kim is looking to release a double-album full of new Summer Suns and Love Letters stuff. Don't think they've found a label yet though.

8. Sic Alps - A Long Way Around to a Shortcut (Animal Disguise)
Sic Alps' second album, which also came out this year, has got nothing on this 26-track compilation of their singles from 2006 to 2008. It includes some more experimental outings like the title-track of the Description of the Harbour ep, but essentially this is no-frills garage pop. The crunching "Strawberry Guillotine" is a clear favourite!

9. Second-Hand Furniture - Game, Set, Match... (Plastilina)
Came out in January and already forgotten. That I couldn't find a bigger picture of the sleeve online probably says a lot about how many people have heard this, unfortunately. It's a big deal for old Swedish indiepop fans of course, but should be for everyone else too as the original eps and cdrs are impossible to find. Pristine janglepop that manages to turn its influences into influentuality!

10. Various Artists - Country Music. Songs For Keith Girdler (Siesta)
About a year after Girdler's tragic passing, Siesta put out this compilation of unreleased songs from some of his favourite bands, on the initiative of Richard Preece who was a close friend and a member of The Snowdrops, the lastest and unfortunately the last band Girdler formed. As if amazing contributions from Hal (not that Hal), The Clientele, Would-Be-Goods, Louis Philippe, Love Dance, The Orchids and many others wasn't enough there's also an unreleased song by Blueboy. Blueboy being of course one of Girdler's first bands.