All in all it's been a pretty good year - for singles. I had trouble narrowing my list of favourites down to 20 even! And here it is.
1. Spectrals - Leave Me Be b/w Suit Yourself (Captured Tracks)
I knew this was going to be the single of the year, soon as I found it on Myspace through the CT profile in the spring. I've played it pretty much everywhere I've been and finally getting it on 7" vinyl only makes me like it more.
2. Christmas Island - Nineteen b/w Twenty Nine (Captured Tracks)
CT nails the two first positions, Christmas Island coming second with their brilliant 'conceptual' single about life a decade apart. The a-side is the normal "growing up in a small town, nothing ever happens" story while the latter is quite a heartfelt look at aging, both sides in the form of breakneck pop riding on rollercoaster melodies. The two sides of the sleeve seem to picture the band's two main members as nerdy school kids - I like it!
3. The Cave Weddings - Bring Your Love b/w Let's Drive (HoZac)
Brogues tipped me about this one. A perfect garage-pop single with two stunning tracks. I was too late to get the limited coloured vinyl, but that hasn't stopped me from constantly flipping this over to decide which track is the best.
4. Best Coast - When I'm With You b/w This Is Real (Black Iris)
Apparently you can get this as a vinyl 7" - by winning some sort of competition that involves signing up to Lala. No way Black Iris! Well miss Best Coast is already recording the full length, and the singles will probably be on there too. This is by far the best of her three offerings in the 7" racks this year.
5. The Magic Kids - Hey Boy b/w Good to Be (Goner)
The Magic Kids came from nowhere and made the best indiepop single in ages. Call them Beach Boys ripoffs, but Bryan Wilson himself would tear his hair (if he still has any) to write songs as good as this again. I want more!
6. The Sea Lions - Let's Groove EP (YAY!)
Adorned with what is probably the best sleeve of this bunch, The Sea Lions debut disc is an instrumental pop monster. The b-sides prove they know their way around a vocal as well - these are three perfect This Poison!esque stormers. A new split with Watercolor Paintings is already out, but I haven't got it yet.
7. Very Truy Yours - Reminders CDEP (self-released)
This hand-crafted beauty holds five polished numbers that sound more like Camera Obscura than they do themselves these days. Quite a mellow bunch of tunes, but perfect for the late autumn.
8. The Garlands/The Sugarplums - split EP (Atomic Beat)
This should be available on the Atomic Beat website as soon as they've got some inserts printed. You can't say no to two new tracks from Roger Gunnarsson's The Garlands, but The Sugarplums prove their worth too on their first proper release. Get their CDR ep if you crave more.
9. German Measles - Wild 12" (Captured Tracks)
German Measles promised unbelievably much with the CT demo cassette, and Gary Olson has done a good job getting this party mayhem down on tape (analog I should hope). GM would be nothing without their enigmatic frontman, who lands just the right side of luny on "Totally Wild". Desperate Bicycles if they recorded for Brent (or pick your own obscure 60s garage label).
10. The Girls At Dawn - s/t 12" (Captured Tracks)
A big step up from the first 7" on HoZac, these four songs so good I can't wait for their album coming out next, and all the other upcoming goodies listed on their Myspace. "Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday" would have been one of the classiest tracks on Girls In the Garage if the girls had been their mothers.
11. The Specific Heats - Back Through Tyme EP (Hugpatch)
Coming home from Indietracks and SH's literally smoking performance I couldn't wait to play this lavender-coloured 7", which had arrived in the post while I was in New Zealand. No songs about icecream here! This is moody, twangy garage. Now we want Cursed!, if a truly cursed album can ever really be released that is.
12. Crystal Stilts - Love Is a Wave b/w Sugar Baby (Slumberland)
CS's only release this year (not counting the UK single with two album cuts) is a brilliant pop tune, which I like more than most of the songs on their album. Have they got a new drummer yet? Let's hope they haven't lost any momentum.
13. Brilliant Colors - s/t EP (Make a Mess)
I still prefer these version to the ones on the recent lp on Slumberland - a lot more dynamic and unique. Sold out, but available on a CT 12" including the two sides of the "Highly Evolved" single.
14. Standard Fare/Slow Down Tallahassee - split-EP (Thee SPC)
Mostly for the Standard Fare side, "Dancing", which is one of the biggest hits of 2009. Apparently got them signed to Bar/None! The new single on SPC is available in January next year.
15. Liechtenstein - Everything's For Sale CDEP (Drill Building)
Preceding the album by a few months, this Swedish CDR release is a more humble (and more humbly produced) ep with three exclusive and brilliant tracks. Good cover too!
16. Fergus & Geronimo - Blind Muslim Girl b/w Powerful Lovin' (Tic Tac Totally)
Having to pick a favourite among this year's three F&G singles, I'd have to settle for this one. The two sides here are equally great, even though "Harder Than It's Ever Been" from their Woodsist 7" would give them a run for their money.
17. The Cavalcade - Meet You In the Rain CDEP (self-released)
The Cavalcalde is one the year's best new pop groups. The Edition 59 ep was good, but nowhere near as interesting as this 5-track ep. Maybe with a drummer they could even challenge The Clientele at their own game?
18. God Help the Girl - Stills 10" (Rough Trade)
I still love the GHTG album, and this ep made up of 'outtakes' features the best song graced by Stuart's voice in a long time, "He's a Loving Kind of Boy". The other tracks definitely maintain the same standard as the album. But when will we get to see the actual musical?
19. Grass Widow - s/t 12" (Captured Tracks)
Their first album, put out by Make a Mess, was brilliant, but on this ep they've really outdone themselves. "Lulu's Lips" is even better than the best of Neo Boys.
20. The Depreciation Guild - Dream About Me b/w Listless (Kanine)
While the POBPAH did not make the list ("Come Saturday" would have, but since it's merely a new version of the Searching For the Now split-single, I skipped it), Kurt's own band just made it with the brilliant Bank of England-era-Blueboy guitar squalls of "Dream About Me". Available on white vinyl from Kanine Records, who have also given their first album a proper release. New material coming in 2010!