Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Year of Sound Pt. 4

Here's the final list, and also the hardest one to finish due to the preposterous number of quality single and ep releases this year. A handful of records I wish would have made it on the list are the Crystal Stilts singles, the new Vivian Girls 7" that I've yet to recieve, the amazing new Catalysts ep, either of Northern Potrait's Matinée eps, plus releases from Strawberry Fair, Still Corners, and all the YAY! and Cloudberry 7"s.

1. Days - Downhill (Shelflife EP)
The most anticipated release of the year came out in January, I think. Just as I had hoped, it's the best record ever released by a Swedish band.

2. The School - Let It Slip (Elefant EP)
Ehm... the second most anticipated release. It beats the in itself wonderful single "All I Wanna Do" by about 1.3 miles. Each song is an a-side hit, with "I Want You Back" standing out as the best pop song of the year.

3. The First Division - On the City (Cloudberry EP)
Unlike its companion ep from Brooker's other project The Arc Lamps, the 100 copies of this ep sold out relatively fast. Might have something to do with ex-Visitor Tim Hopkins involvement with this release. Or perhaps that the songs are simply as good as The Pines at their best. Did you get yours?

4. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Everything With You (Slumberland 7")
The band's first proper release, after two split-7"s and a self-released ep. It's the best 45 of the year, with a fantastic new version of "The Pains of Being Pure At Heart" on the other side, a cool sleeve, and put out by the label of the year!

5. The Lorimer Sound - Greenstreets (WeePOP! EP)
Definitely the most promising new indiepop act. Beautifully recorded, with the best instrumentation since 1966. The Aislers Set and The Essex Green have met their match.

6. Pocketbooks - Waking Up (Make Do and Mend EP)
Self-released on CDR, in a case that was bound to crack in the mail - nothing could spoil the joy of finally hearing Pocketbooks at the top of their game. Not much can beat Andy Hudson's insightful compositions when they're properly recorded and accompanied by jangly guitars. But still it's only a taster of the magnificence of the forthcoming full-length!

7. All My Friends - Up and Down the River (Slender Means EP)
The swansong release from this overlooked Glasgow band. Both Garry and Alison used to be in Butcher Boy, and just like them All My Friends make pop that stands above most of their contemporaries, swathed in timeless beauty and dusty memories. I saw their only two gigs this year and heartbreaking as it is, Alison is still with Butcher Boy and Garry has promised to keep writing songs on his own.

8. The Mai 68s - Froth on the Daydream (Cloudberry EP)
As one of the old-timers at Indietracks could confirm, seeing the 68s live was like being transported back in time about 20 years. Shambolic rhythms, all-permeating feedback and what I remember as a Rickenbacker 350/12. This ep gives you all that plus audible vocals at a listenable volume.

9. The Motifs - Memory's Gone (Edition 59 EP)
I had to scan this myself as the online pics are as tiny as the label's web presence. Luckily, I found it in time to grab one of the last four copies! Three brand new songs from the best Australian band at the moment.

10. The Manhattan Love Suicides - Kessler Syndrome (Squirrel 7")
One of two new singles from MHLS on Squirrel. I don't think they can get any louder than this, and thus any better. This is fuzz pop at its very best then. They can keep on doing this thing as long as they want to for my part!

11. Sexy Kids - Sisters Are Forever (Slumblerland 7")
Second entry from Slumberland already? Of course. I'm not sure what the kids are up to just now but this single was definitely worth the wait. A notch better than The Royal We and hopefully with longevity a notch better. But being down with fun usually means not being down with practising and recording.

12. The Clientele - That Night, A Forest Grew (Acuarela EP)
The Clientele stick to their habit of playing in Sweden once a year, and their gig at Rip It Up was as magical as ever. As is their new experimental (as in 'disco') ep on Spanish label Aquarela. And as always it seems impossible that the band can surpass the quality of these songs. They probably will, mind you.

13. Forbidden Tigers - Colonial Freakout (Savage EP)
I just noticed that these Nebraska garage punks have another 7" out on A Fistful of Records based in the Netherlands. But like the Magnetic Problems LP, I haven't had the pleasure of hearing this yet. I don't see how they can be better than this unbelievably raucous 7" though. Especially the 100 copies pressed on transparent orange vinyl courtesy of the to me previously unknown Swedish label.

14. Liechtenstein - Apathy (Fraction 7")
The second Swedish release on here, as well a the second Swedish band. An amazing follow-up to the wonder that was Stalking Skills, from the now only three-piece outfit from Gothenburg. Rising popularity in the UK especially, promises to get them lots of frequent-flyer points next year!

15. Moscow Olympics - Cut the World (Lavender EP)
Easily overlooked release on the humble-as-ever Lavender label. Clocking in almost 30 minutes, this is a filled-to-the-brim follow-up to the debut 7" on Fraction from December last year. Look out for more icy guitar soundscapes on the planned split-release with The Morning Paper on Lostmusic next year!

1 comment:

brogues said...

I completely agree...2008 was one of the best years for single in aaaaaages! So many classics and loads of them have found their way into your list. Good stuff!