The No Badger Required End of Year Countdown – #2 – Best Tracks Numbers 35 – 31

I’ll just quickly recap for those at the back who might have been late back from the shops.  This is the second part of a rundown of what I consider to be the best 40 tracks that I have heard this year.  They are a mixture of tracks that I have heard on the radio, via other blogs, word of mouth or some other medium.

This week we are starting here.

35. Bad Love – Dehd (2022, Fat Possum Records, Taken from ‘Blue Skies’)

Dehd are a three piece from Chicago that make excellent indie rock that blissfully recalls lost love, youth and all the things in between.  Like so many other bands, in 2020, Dehd looked set for big things, they had an excellent debut album which spun a lovely sense of adventure and looked to be a thrilling road trip.  Then we got a continuous cough and had to shut the doors in peoples faces.

In 2022, they released the follow up the terrific, ‘Blue Skies’ and from which the lead single and album highlight was ‘Bad Love’.  A colossal anthem of swaggering despair which turns into about half through the indie rock version of a confessional session with your local priest.  It’s held together marvellously by the raspy emotional holler of singer Emily Kempf.

34. Dancing is Not A Crime – Afflecks Palace (2022, Spirit of Spike Island Records, Taken from ‘The Only Light In This Tunnel is the Oncoming Train’)

Afflecks Palace are a band from Manchester that are named after a legendary Manchester nightclub.  They are also signed to a record label that recalls the Stone Roses love in at Spike Island and they make music that takes all the best bits from the old Manchester scene that we know and love and somehow make them sound brand new and modern.  

I mean what’s not to love.  ‘Dancing is not a Crime’ is a baggy, psychedelic triumph from start to finish.

33. Have It Your Own Way – L’Objectif (2021, Chess Club Records, Taken from ‘Have It Your Own Way EP’)

I have mentioned Leeds combo L’Objectif before, but again for the latecomers at the back.  They formed at school and used to skive off drama classes to make music in music room rather than pretend to be trees with the rest of the kids.   They make a rollicking form of indie rock that sounds way more mature than teenagers making indie punk rock should.  If that’s not too patronising.  ‘Have It Your Own Way’ is probably the most accessible track that the band have recorded, seamlessly adding an hypnotic disco-ish beat to the music and the snotty lyrics.

32. Look the Other Way – Sour Widows (2021, Exploding in Sound Records, Taken from ‘Crossing Over’)

Sour Widows were a band I first stumbled across whilst I was researching bands for the Previously Unheard of….section of Major League Music.  They hail from Oakland and their ‘Crossing Over’ EP was one of this years most pleasant surprises. ‘Look the Other Way’ is one of those tracks, slow burning guitars that eventually wind up into a brilliant solo, cymbals that tinkle rather than crash and lyrics that are just downright beautiful “Someday I’ll be as dead as a star”.  Lovely.

31. Angelica – Wet Leg (2022, Domino Records, Taken from ‘Wet Leg’)

After nearly taking over the world last year, Wet Leg have sort of owned 2022.  I mean they were pretty much always going to do that.  They have spent most of the year playing to sold out crowds across the UK, Europe and in the States, wherever they go seem to be a massive success.  ‘Angelica’ sees the band adopt a similar stance to ‘Chaise Longue’, its full of spiky melody, layered vocals which hints at the type of New Wave style first adopted by Elastica all those years ago.  Wet Leg are a lot of fun and I hope they stick around for ever.

It’s Monday, Let’s Swear – #15

Agent Bla – Rote Learning (2017, Kanine Records)

A while ago a friend introduced by to an app which allowed you to listen to radio stations from across the world.  It’s called Radio Garden and its amazing.  I’ve literally lost hours down Internet radio rabbit holes, listening in to incredible live jazz sessions on French speaking Caribbean stations, or finding myself blown away by songs that features instruments I’ve never heard of on a Malian station that only appears to broadcast on Wednesday nights. 

One morning I was busy scrolling through the thousands of stations and I stumbled across the terribly named ‘Indie X FM’, a station dedicated to playing alternative music that is based in Los Angeles.  It was about 3 in the morning in Los Angeles and despite the terrible name their input at that time is extraordinarily good.  Old 80s indie records sit comfortably alongside new releases from the likes of Wet Leg and The Clockworks.

Pretty In Pink – Psychedelic Furs (1981, Columbia Records)

Angelica – Wet Leg (2022, Domino Records)

But regardless of that it was the stations carefree attitude to songs that are potty mouthed that hooked me in. Take ‘Rote Learning’ by Swedish ‘death pop’ sextet Agent Bla.  If the UK equivalent of Indie X FM (which would be the really awful Radio X) played ‘Rote Learning’ at any time of the day it would be kicked off the radio for good.

For those in the dark (which included me until about 20 minutes ago) Agent Bla are from Gothenburg who formed a band after discovering a shared loved of Joy Division and Slowdive.  They are signed to LA based Kanine Records and combine (it says here at least) goth, dream pop and post punk to make something they called ‘death pop’.  Folks they sound like Beach House with fuzzed up guitars and they might just be my new favourite band.

The Best Stuff I Have Heard This Year #5

I know that I said that these were in no order, and that it doesn’t matter if one thing was better than another and I stand by that. But…these four tracks here are I think my favourite four tracks of the year. They are certainly the ones I have played and enjoyed the most.

Let’s start on the Isle of Wight with Wet Leg, who if the hype is to be believed might just be the best new guitar to have emerged since, well, ever. Certainly ‘Chaise Longue’ is probably the most addictively catchy debut single since ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ with its downright suggestively filthy talk of buttered muffins and worrying mothers.

1.Wet Leg – Chaise Longue (2021, Single, Domino Records)

Talking of addictively catchy, before ‘Chaise Longue’ dropped, there was ‘Rhythm Is Our Business’ by bonkers London group Snapped Ankles. A song which pretty much soundtracked my summer, with wonky keyboards and its mutant sounding guitars.

2. Snapped Ankles – Rhythm Is Our Business (2021, The Leaf Label)

Next up over to South Wales and a band called The Vela Incident, who at the start of the year released a huge sweeping record full of crashing drums, and swooping soundscapes which to me sounded like all the best bits of an early Verve record (i.e when they were brilliant, rather than just very good). I know very little about The Vela Incident but if any of their other records are anywhere near as good as ‘For All Lost Souls then world domination surely beckons.

3. For All Lost Souls – The Vela Incident (2021, Single)

and finally over to Japanese Breakfast – whose third album ‘Jubilee’ is probably the best record of the year (although Little Simz, Bicep, Dry Cleaning, Kacey Musgraves might all have something to say about that). The lead single to it was ‘Be Sweet’ which turned out to be ace as well, a mishmash of 80s synth pop and shoegaze-y vibes that just rattles away with positive energy. Plus it has persimmons on the cover of it, and they are coolest fruits around.

4. Be Sweet – Japanese Breakfast (2021, Dead Ocean Records)

And Today Christmas Song is this piece of (lovely) old cheese – but only because Songwhip didn’t have the Andrew WK version of ‘Do They Know Its Christmas?’. Sort it Songwhip.

White Christmas – Frank Sinatra

Merry Christmas – back in a few days,