It’s transfer deadline day in England which means it’s nearly autumn. 2010 is nearly a race that has been run. I don’t know why it is around Autumn time that I start thinking about records that have come out this year and the ones that might make up my own personal ‘Smash Hits’ end of year polls. My love affair with LPs has been on the wane the past few years but I think 2010 has seen something of a revival for me with LPs galore grappling for my attention. I’ve even managed to release a few on my label this year that rank very highly for me. With a few months to go this list is not definitive, and I doubt I will come to update it come year end. But as of now, these beauties are jostling to be Top Of My Pops:
Betty and The Werewolves – Teatime Favourites (Damaged Goods). This LP has been near the top of the played pile since I got my grubby mitts on it. It’s brash. It’s poppy. It’s got a swagger about it, too. I’ll admit that I was slow to fall for Betty and her Werewolves. Early shows I saw left me wanting something more. Just goes to prove how wrong headed first impressions can sometimes be. This LP is great pop music that effortlessly marries the worlds of the 60s girl groups, the fiesty punk of the 70s and the janglepop of the 80s into something that makes me smile. A lot. Yep, it’s a contender.
Standard Fare – The Noyelle Beat (Thee SPC). My pop crush of 2009 didn’t disappoint in 2010. Delivering an LP of heartbreaking beauty. Emma Kupa, Andy Bez and Danny How have made a record that I described back in April as ‘essential, life affirming pop music’ and the passage of time has taken none of the shine away from this superb LP. It’s been the soundtrack to my year so far. And it’s nice to see a wider audience starting to take notice too. I really think 2011 could be the year that Standard Fare break out and pick up some big notices. At least I hope so, music this damn good deserves a bigger audience.
The European – In A Very Real Sense (Stolen Recordings). This has been a slow burner. I first heard and loved this record back in April and it has seen a lot less action than some contenders on this list. But this might be a blessing because when I decide to give ‘In A Very Real Sense’ a spin it really does connect. Originally I described this LP as ‘Sparse electronic pop with a warm heartbeat’. And although that part way describes the record there is more going on here than I first heard. This is one of those big records. If that makes sense.
Kid Canaveral – Shouting At Wildlife (Straight To Video). This was one of my most wanted records of 2010. I’d be aching to hear this since first stumbling into the wonderful world of Kid Canaveral via their debut single ‘Smash Hits’ (2008?). All that wanting. All that waiting. All that hoping. Was it justified? You bet. This is perfect pop music, with big brash choruses and dumb pop hooks moments. But the LP is not a one trick pony as the band have their moments of introspection too. I loved this LP back in June. I still love it now.
Trash Kit – Trash Kit (Upset The Rhythm). Easily my favourite live band of 2010 – with their boundless energy and jerky rhythms. Amazingly they manage to capture the essence of their live energy rather superbly on this record. When reviewing the record back in April I said: “This tribal near funk punk is anything but dated. Songs come and go often in short rapid bursts of noise with little obvious pop structure – but it is the incessant rhythms that pull you in from the off and then some writhing guitars take hold and before you know you are hooked”. Not a lot has changed. Apart from the fact that I love this record even more now, than I did then.
Now for the awkward ones. Odd Box Records has released two (well, three if you count the EP that is an LP by Ace Bushy Striptease, more on this later) LPs in 2010. Both debut LPs too. And they are both going to feature very highly in my end of year polls. That’s fair, isn’t it? Giving that I only release records that I love.
One Happy Island – One Happy Island (Odd Box). What can I say? This record has picked up rave reviews aplenty. And I am justifiably proud of the fact that this record came out on my Label. It’s a cracking indiepop record. It has moments where it is a careering along at a million miles an hour with some daft pop hooks making you dizzy, then it hops onto the other foot and you’re struck by some raw emotion. The band know exactly when to let go and when to rein it in.
The Humms – Lemonland (Odd Box). The debut LP from The Humms is an 18 song genre hopping beast. It’s an urgent record that gains a strength from it’s diversity. There are garage stompers, a twang of old fashioned rebel rousing country, not to mention to sure fire indie hits. ‘Lemonland’ takes a few listens to really work. But it is with repeated listens that comes the greatest rewarded. I think this is a stunning record.
Other records that could well sneak into contention in the last three months are:
Shrag – Life! Death! Prizes! (Where It’s At Is Where You Are). One of the best live bands currently kicking around this isle. They delivered their debut LP proper (the earlier one being a collection of singles) and it doesn’t disappoint. Urgent. Compelling. Frantic. It’s all these things and more. And with a few more listens it could well be staging a late run for the top spot, too.
The Specific Heats – CURSED! (Fun With Asbestos). Another record I’ve only heard recently and it is damn catchy mix of 60s psychpop. I’ve only had the LP a few weeks and in that short time it’s made a very favourable impression with it’s swirling psychedelia meets 60s R&B goodness.
Best Coast – Crazy For You (Mexican Summer). Yet another recent arrival. 2010 seems to the year of the cracking LP. I’ve only played this 5 or 6 times. It sounds like a dizzy summer love affair. It sounds magnificent. More attention requried from me for sure. But if this record continues to enchant me with it’s 60s tinged dream pop I am sure to be smitten by years end.
And the final mention goes to an EP. Which is really an LP. It again came out on Odd Box. ‘A Litte More Suspicion In Our Fairytales Plz’ by Ace Bushy Striptease is what happens when you ask some young upstarts to record a 4 song EP. After listening to the 12 songs (in a little over 25 minutes) you don’t know where to begin. This is a fuck off great record. With big guitars, shouty bits, singing bits and some cracking songs. This band should be HUGE. They will be this time next year. If the world was right in the head, that is.
So they are my runners and riders for LPs of the year and I am sure some records might get released between now and years end. And some already released could even force themselves into contention too. But for now, these are the records that have made 2010 a little bit special for me.