Completing our best of list for 2013, here are the 10 best albums overall–that means no filler, and all great stuff for the whole album. Tune in to the Happyoblivion show every Saturday 12-3pm for the very best in indie pop music!
10) Beach Vacation: Maritime [EP]. What a nice surprise this was, a band named Beach Vacation sneaking in with summery sounds from Oak Harbor, Washington. Their 4-song EP release was superb and does a great job of conjuring up a wonderful flowing sound that is perfect for any sort of vacation near the ocean. The band proclaims to be influenced by Craft Spells and the Radio Dept. and it definitely shows in their sound, though they sound most like Wild Nothing on the poppier side of things. “Escape” is a wonderfully jangly tune with lots of hummable riffs and melodies, while the standout track “Washington Weather” is just a wonderfully perfect carefree gem. http://beachvacation.bandcamp.com/album/maritime-ep
9) Club 8: Above the City [LP]. At first glance of the CD in my hands, austere cover art underneath the jewel case reflecting the lights above. I had fallen in love many years ago with their album “The Friend I Once Had,” which had many repeated spins in my CD player back then. Club 8 had morphed and changed some from that first love, but I still had high hopes with each new release. So, with trepidation, I placed this CD into the player, and listened… At first, I was not sure if I was again enamored. But then I listened again, and again, and again. And there it was, that self-same spark that had been there with our first love, and still burning warmly through the Swedish winters. Best played with the lights dimmed and cool breeze in the air, “Above the City” is another wonderfully layered album from Club 8. Yes, it takes a gradual crescendo through the first half of the album to get to the standout tracks “A Small Piece of Heaven” and “I’m Not Gonna Grow Old,” but you are rewarded for your patience, as you should be on a fully imagined cohesive album. https://soundcloud.com/labrador-records/sets/club-8-above-the-city-1
8) Tullycraft: Lost In Light Rotation [LP]. Unabashedly twee and back as good as ever, Tullycraft is one of my favorite bands and they definitely do not disappoint with their latest LP release. From beginning to end, it is everything we’ve come to expect from Tullycraft, so no surprises, but no one else does it as well as Tullycraft in being themselves. Highlights include their title track “Lost in Light Rotation,” “Westchester Turnabouts,” and “Agincourt,” but really, every single tune on the album is a singable, danceable (in the hop-around head-bobbing way), short (2-3 minute) gem of pure indie pop goodness! https://soundcloud.com/fortuna-pop/tullycraft-lost-in-light
7) The fin. Glowing Red On The Shore [EP]. This 4 piece band from Kobe, Japan, don’t sound at all like they are from Japan. Instead they channel that electronic new wave sound with layered vocals that would fit alongside Joy Division and New Order, though ultimately more positive-leaning and hopeful in mood and lyrics. Maybe mixed in with some Pains of Being Pure at Heart would round out their sound. This EP release features songs that I have played on repeat many times over and never tired of, such as “Circle on the Snows,” “Float Away,” and ‘Misty Forest,” are my favorites, but they are all so excellent. The information on this new band is rather limited, but check them out! http://70.xmbs.jp/fin/?in=ok
6) When Nalda Became Punk – A Farewell to Youth [LP]. A very cute band from Spain, initially started by Elena Sestelo as just “Nalda” in 2006 and really gathering momentum when Roberto Cibeira joined the band and they recorded tracks for this debut LP “A Farewell to Youth.” My favorites are “When It’ll Come,” and “Summer, You And Me.” Unabashedly true indie pop with melodic guitars, happy synthesizers, cheerful drums, and the wonderful vocals from Elena with maybe just a hint of edginess (ala the Muffs), When Nalda Became Punk’s album is a high-energy party with no let down at all. http://www.shelflife.com/catalogue/LIFE097.html
5) The Very Most—Just a Pup [EP]. Everyone’s favorite indie pop band from Idaho is at it again! This prolific band led by Jeremy Jensen has been pumping out all kinds of great songs, and this most recent EP includes the special collaborative gem between the Very Most and singer Liz Hunt from the School. Not only is it two of my favorite bands coming together as one, but to heap up the goodness even more, they decide to cover one of the most singable songs of all time, Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.” This Welsh-Idahoan combination is just too superb to miss. Could we just have Liz Hunt sing every song known to mankind? And the rest of the EP is just as wonderful, covering the breadth and strength of this band in just 4 songs. “We Don’t Have Any Cuts to Waste” is one of my other favorite tracks and lyrically twisting and linear at the same time, while driving things along with a catchy hooks and melodies—this is the Very Most at it’s very best! http://theverymost.bandcamp.com/album/just-a-pup
4) Camera Obscura: Desire Lines [LP]. As I’ve mentioned on my show, I’ve been accused of blindly liking anything that Camera Obscura produces. Well, we all have our favorite things in life, and yes, Camera Obscura appeals to me in just the right way. Another one of those albums that gets better with each listen, “Desire Lines” meets all expectations of upbeat indie pop songs with the yearning vocals of Tracyanne Campbell along with the more melancholy and contemplative tunes for just the right balance. I won’t tell you my favorite tracks, because it changes all the time since they are all so good. Our Glaswegian friends have indeed done it again. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/desire-lines/id632666540?ign-mpt=uo%3D4
3) Slow Beach – Lover, Lover [EP]. This 6-song EP release is from a new Japanese indie-pop group that comprises Dai Ogasawara, the founder Ano(t)raks (who brought you such great Japanese bands as Post Modern Team and the Paellas) and producer Kai Takahashi, Yuriko Ohno (keyboard), and Keito Taguchi (bass). I highlighted this group in November and they have not disappointed at all. The title track “Lover,Lover” is an awesome catchy song by Slow Beach. Various parts catch snippets from the 60s evoke images of early Beach Boys. They are not really slow, but there is a nice relaxed feeling to their songs, and definitely the beach tropical feel that they are trying to evoke. “Lover, Lover” is a singable, hummable delight! http://anotraks.bandcamp.com/album/lover-lover
2) Lost tapes—War in the Netherlands [EP]. Lost Tapes are a Spanish duo that plays perfect indie-pop with those always desirable jangly guitars. Pau Rocao (of La Habitación Roja) and RJ Sinclair (lead singer of Tokyo Sex Destruction) have gotten together to produce this 4-song EP. The title track, “War in the Netherlands” is the standout and has a Teenage Fanclub feel to it, while “Come With Me” slides over to a Jesus & Mary Chain vibe. Hoping we hear more from them! http://www.eardrumspop.com/2013/05/14/epop035-lost-tapes/
1) Silver Screen – When You and I Were Very Young [LP]. This is my favorite album of 2013! Silver Screen is a project of Cris Miller from Los Angeles. He has collaborated with Sunny Summer Day (Indonesia) and Some Gorgeous Accident (Philippines) in the past couple years. This album from Plastilina Records (based in Peru) is just perfect indie pop at its best! This is the sweet sun-soaked soundtrack to your cheerful summer day cruising around the island. Jangly guitars, handclaps, layered vocals, it’s all the pinnacle of indie pop perfection. The first track that had me singing and tapping along was “Really No Wonder,” and other highlights include “Mercy” and “A Little More Each Day.” You might have missed this treasure of indie pop goodness released in April 2013, but give it a listen and you won’t be disappointed!
Thanks so much for listening and reading! More information and playlists can be found at mildmanneredDJ.blogspot.com