Best Singles/EPs of 2010

The Dreams – Negativ Streets Digital Single (Beko Box Volume 2)
Although A.H. Kraken and The Anals are great bands for gnarly, ugly grunt rock ala Brainbombs and Drunks With Guns, both tend to be hard to listen to on account of their noisy, repetitive, tension-filled aural endurance sessions. I know that’s antithetical to this blog, which happily embraces noise, but The Dreams are the best band yet from the French duo who are the common thread among these groups. The Dreams remove some of the clashing guitar tones and replace it with chilly keyboards and minimalistic songs that give their sound enough air to really keep things interesting.

Ex-Fag Cop
– Gimme Fag Agenda 7″ EP (Batshit Records)
After an appearance on The World’s Lousy With Ideas Vol. 4 comp and a couple raging shit-fi 7″ hate bombs, this Lawrence outfit changes their name to from Fag Cop to Ex-Fag Cop, seemingly just to fuck with everyone. While not quite as blown out as their other recordings, Gimme Fag Agenda does add some sinister tones to the mix, bringing to mind the warble of The Necessary Evils. Another notable difference is female vocals on ‘Remembered Future of A Dark Psychic History’, adding even more dimension to the mega-fucked Fag Cop/Ex-Fag Cop sound.

The Role Of The Dogcatcher In African-American Urban Folklore 7″ (Fan Death Records)
Finally had a chance to see this band live and my understanding of their blunt-force caveman stomp upped my fandom a couple notches. This song in particular is one of the best in their catalog with a killer loud-to-quiet maneuver that contrasts their trademark abrasive squall with clean and snappy verses supported by a burly, bouncing bass line. It’s good enough to completely make up for the weak B-side.

Moon Duo
– Escape 12″ EP (Woodsist)
This might be a cheat since it’s considered an LP-length release by some, but 4 songs, even if they sprawl to the 6-8 minute mark, equal an EP in my book. Regardless, this release definitely earns “best of” status as it’s the ultimate culmination of everything Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo have done thus far, that being blissfully tranced out krautrock with atmosphere so thick and enveloping that you simply can’t turn it off. From the the second ‘Motorcycle, I Love You’ starts until the last title track, this extended EP has established itself as a high water mark of the genre.

Rot Shit
– You’re Welcome 7″ (Columbus Discount)
Ugly, plodding heavy punk rock that skewers the state of punk rock with bursts of saxophone skronk and giant Stooges riffs. Songs like ‘Hipster Grandma’ aim to offend and distance this band from growing a fanbase, which I reckon they’d be fine with anyway. Pure vitriolic fun! Maybe punk isn’t dead after all…

Sex Church
– 6 Songs by Sex Church 12″ EP (Compulsive)
Snotty but subdued Velvet Underground-style psych with the repetition and volume of Spacemen 3 and just enough punk edge to distinguish it from bands travelling similar avenues like The Black Angels or Royal Baths, or even Echo and the Bunnymen. There may be a lot of bands doing this sort of thing, but this band’s guitar tone and layers of echoey haze make them one of the most interesting of the bunch.

The Soft Moon
Parallels 7″ (Captured Tracks)
This is what I’d always imagined Blank Dogs should sound like. Atmospheric, cool, synth-driven darkwave that completely envelops you without getting into cheesy goth gimmicks. The title track is one of the coolest downbeat tracks ever, with pitchshifting bass rumbling underneath a hypnotic, motorik beat — the epitome of cool. There are a number of artists mining 1980s darkwave for inspiration, but The Soft Moon have actually brought something new into the mix.

The U.V. Race
– I Hate You 7″ EP (Fashionable Idiots)
There’s a quality to this band’s sound that’s simultaneously tense and loose, resulting in a warped catchiness that’s reminiscent of feral postpunk from the early ’80s or maybe Flipper pushing out some pop tunes. The four songs on this record get out-of-tune and ugly, but ultimately they’re fun in a demented way. The final track ‘Garbage in My Heart’ is a grade-A warbling dirge in the vein of The Butthole Surfers in a heavy quaaludes fog.

Charles Albright – I’m Happy, I’m a Genius 7″ EP (Permanent Records)
Like fellow Californian Ty Segall, Charles Albright has a knack for overamped, blown out garage punk. And where Ty Segall’s sound veers into ’60 psych territory, Albright’s focuses more on the ass-stomping guitar crunch. The guitar sound on this 7-song buzz saw is so ridiculously loud that only a true songsmith could craft catchy hooks within the din of this in-the-red recording space.

Vermillion Sands
– 20 Hours / The Last Day 7″ (Trouble In Mind)
Their Mary 7″ made the list in 2008 and since then I’d kinda written them off after some of their more countryfied releases. But this single could not be any better — both tracks are absolute gold A-sides with a slight country twang played with the songsmithing on par with the greatest of The Minutemen catalog. Totally fun Italian party punk with thickly-accented vocals.

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