Thursday, January 31, 2008

best of 2007: singles + eps









it became clear that limiting this list to 10, 20 or even, in the end, 50 singles would have done the year a disservice. because these - gulp - hundred singles, plus many others, continue to reassure us that music *can* be brilliant, no matter how the existence of so much rubbish out there sometimes makes you think that ain't so. indeed, we were on the verge of doing a top 250 (not unaided by the existence of cloudberry) but you'll be pleased to hear that cooler heads eventually prevailed.

1. beatnik filmstars "curious role model" (the international lo-fi underground, cd-ep)

"infectious... raucous... fizzing... breakneck... clattering...the sound of thrilled skinny riding their infamous shopping trolley gleefully off a ravine and landing on top of razorlight... like 'lie dream and the casino soul' boxing 'new boyfriend and black suit' for a place in the world hummability final... in-yer-face and should be in-the-charts... sizzlingly cynical angry pop, raining acid barbs on your parade but only delight into our hearts... as good as anything they've done in the last 15 yrs or so ...and, fwiw, it sounds nothing like guided by voices."

this is also, fact fans, technically the oldest single in this list, as its official release date was jan 1, 2007: but we never got close to tiring of it. 'tis a real shame the hoped-for london gig this yr never came about, and that their new year shows - so far - only appear to be in germany...

2. pocketbooks "cross the line" (atomic beat, 7")

"great little single, with clever lyrical flourishes, lovely vocal interplay and a fizzingly unforgettable hook played out between organ and piano... yes the ambition perhaps outstrips the recording quality, but in our book music should always be that way round."

when we were younger we were lucky enough to see blueboy, many times. and seeing the pocketbooks last night, when it hung together, there really was a germ of that kind of greatness: not least, something of gemma and the much-missed keith in emma and andy's vocal duelling. but more than that, like blueboy, you can really feel this band, and their songcraft, growing. anyway, this is a blazin' song. someone should probably do a ringtone for it.

3. horowitz "tracyanne" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

"the latest and perhaps brightest example of this band's unrepentantly unblinking indie-pop... the sort of song that would have nestled with supreme snugness on the better late-80s compilation tapes... churningly gets*you*right*there from the moment that the drum machine and the happy shambling bass launch and then ian, from deep within a by-now recognisable morass of vocal distortion, sings sthg like "oh it gets me down but i'm so nervy / these social situations make me giddy" (or maybe he says dizzy). anyway, it makes us giddy (or dizzy) too... there are pavement vs. pastels stylings, there is a bouncing baby drum machine, there is some cracking plinkly-plonk bontempi, there are guitar lines that meander artfully around with extra amplifier oomph for the chorus... supreme mid90s beatniks / boyracer lo-finess... above and beyond all that though, there are golden, catchy as hell melodies..."

all true, y'know. the clincher, though, is the bit where it goes from the first chorus to the second verse. can't explain why but it's just joyous. and, in 2008, this is getting a re-release on a spangly yellowish vinyl 7", "i need a blanket" is now out as a download on thee spc (with v. sparkly video) and there are two great tunes that are going to appear as one side of a split 7" on filthy little angels. so there's more than just the african nations cup to delight us!

4. ed 209 "the stay ex-static ep" (vrd, 12")

basically the "a" of this is 4 stone cold fabulous tracks featuring 3 great artists on the mic: on the "b" you get instrumental versions that give mr 209 the chance to show off without outside interference.

""the majestic"and "inside your mind" are exhilarating fare, as cappo, hardly pausing for breath, manages to wrest control of 209's hectic candi staton and public enemy-sampling accompaniment... [plus] well-worthwhile contributions from manchester's konny kon and notts' own c-mone, whose "the great godz" sees her whisper set - to grand effect - to some very sparse backing from 209... a powerful contrast from the claustrophobic frenzy of the cappo tunes and rounds off what is, overall, a big big single."

ha can't believe we said "big big single". but this is, to coin a similarly lame and dated phrase, well lush.

5. durrty goodz "axiom ep" (durrty goodz / awkward, cd ep)

now, technically you could argue that 10 tracks over the best part of three quarters of an hour isn't really an ep, especially when our best album award has gone, effectively, to 5 tunes lasting 8 minutes. but goodz calls it an ep, so that's good enough for us, and in a world where mixtapes tend to have about 25 tracks, it seems like an ep, especially as it flows by all too fast. "axiom" deserves much better to be lost in the sludge of all things grimey, because it effortlessly covers so many bases (especially on perfect musical history lesson "switching songs 2" or the necessary anti-major label "take back the scene" ("they got lemar singing like frank sinatra / so we forget about afrika bambaata"). several tracks here would have been top ten a-sides in their own right: and the bare, raw and disturbing emotion of closing hidden track "letter to titch" - a reference to the murder in which goodz was implicated and spent a year on remand and for which his colleague crazy titch went down for 30 years - is, however uncomfortable, better than several thousand singles released this year.

6. dubblestandart vs ari up "island girl" (collision records, 12")

tucked away on an import "triple" a-side also featuring the venerable and dulcet tones of ken boothe, this breath of fresh roots-reggae air later turned up in remixed form on dubblestandart's rather neat "immigration dub" long-player. would that ex-pistols were using their time as profitably as the ex-slits.

7. pete green "everything i do is gonna be sparkly" (atomic beat, 7")

while we elected the jevons tune on the flip to our promotion celebration package (this was before he sunk us with a winning goal for huddersfield vs. rovers not too long ago), the a-side is the best of all - even before the added delights of the chorus drum clatter, the strange radio noise in the background and the extra guitar overdub, all of which enhance things further. reassuring proof that you can have "feelgood" music that actually makes you well, feel good.

8. the bug featuring flowdan "jah war" (ninja tune)

ooh, a fantastic discovery. despite having no relationship with the ruts classic, this sees flowdan rhyming on cruise control whilst the bug provides super and superminimal instrumental backing. a decent remix by loefah on the other side, too.

9. robot boy "robot boy" (boot, 12")

"as you'd expect from the diversion tactics stable (zygote produces and arch turntablist jazz-t provides all the cuts) the beats are big and sparse, the scratching is mighty, and the robot boy [aka the divine chubby alcoholic mc] takes about 0.001 seconds to confirm himself, via "virgin galactic", as surely colliers wood's favourite son."

10. sarandon "joe's record" (slumberland, 7")

"a charismatic *splurge* of energy, a stop-start post-peel tour de force of spikiness... completely storming"

11. mark ankh "4th dimension" (hydraulix 13, 12")

"slovene producer mark ankh's eerie "fourth dimension" is remixed by d.a.v.e. the drummer for january's 12" a-side on hydraulix 13... with the original on the flip sounding correspondingly more minimal. tempo warning: the two sides play at different speeds, a bit like slovenia with and without zahovic".

probably a review that didn't recognise how we'd still be listening to "4th d" (especially the original) for pretty much the whole year. or that slovenia would end up finishing below belarus and albania in 2008 qualifying.

12. wiley "50/50 / bow e3" (big dada, 12")

"two terrific uptempo signature tunes, the former celebrating his factory-records style deal with big dada ("it's not 2% after recoupment"), while the latter, courtesy of some fantastic production by maniac, hammers home his devotion to the 'hood."

13. d.a.v.e. the drummer vs the anxious "hydraulix 37" (hyrdaulix)

doesn't look like we reviewed this. anyway, d.a.v.e's solo tune on the "a" consists of two sublime techno adagios linked by a gently simmering interlude, is quite enchanting, and should probably be bought by you. the anxious (who despite the name are a techno duo and not one of those post-britpop haircut bands currently ruling the lowest common denominator indie-roost) furnish a coupla decent numbers on the other side, too.

14. shrag "hopelessly wasted" (where it's at is where you are, 7")

"disconcertingly powerful alt-pop". so there. actually, "hopelessly wasted" really is diamante stuff, an unnerving, carefully-paced, slightly echoey, sparklingly delivered construction. the other side, "talk to the left" is pretty wack, mind.

15. coki "spongebob" (dmz, 12")

"spongebob" is beautiful madness from digital mystik coki, pirouetting on the turntable with all the unhinged ungainliness of an elephant swivelling on a cement mixer: "the end" on the other side is sparse, accidental, experimental, turning into a dark soundtrack for an as yet-unrealised downbeat brit flick.

16. the bug featuring warrior queen "poison dart" (ninja tune, 12")

having been introduced to the bug and warrior queen separately by the recordings at numbers 8 above and 22 below respectively, this is as fine as you'd expect, coming out just in time to warm our christmas. even better, on the second 12" - both with special limited editions on heavy vinyl - flowdan rejoins the bug for "stampin' (poison rhythm)", which is equally tasty.

17. team shadetek "reign" (sound ink, 12")

"i don't know what you got your hands in your trousers for / you ain't got a gun / i saw you get searched at the door". yep, on this mighty tune skepta (who else) turns up and reprises some of his "fuckin widda team" rhymes, as well as a few nods to the transatlantic nature of the collaboration.

18. the faintest ideas "there's no captain on this cruise and we don't serve orange juice" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

probably the best of the (many) bands who we have discovered solely as a result of the stakhanovite endeavours of miami's cloudberry records this year: imagine the combined insolence and joy of the bright lights, boyracer, sportique, buzzcocks, sportsguitar, and former k records band gravel - even, for some of the vocals on "if i could write spiteful lyrics", (v.) early cure - and you're probably there or thereabouts. all three songs blatantly rule.

19. the pains of being pure at heart "the pains of being pure at heart" (painbow ep)

"the best thing from new york since team shadetek... the press releases have picked out the reference points (for once correctly) of early mbv, black tambourine et al, although there's something about the wavering vox on "orchard of your eye" that gives us a church grims glow too, and there's a hint of the close lobsters' trebly guitar sunshine to "right!"... all 3+2 songs, are well worth a listen..."

see also the pains of being pure at heart "this love is fucking right!" on
cloudberry!

20. manhattan love suicides "kick it back ep" (magic marker, 7")

"hinge-breaking, door-kicking-in noise-pop thrills... that follow on from the equally impressive re-recorded title track that manages to improve even on the album version, largely through increased feedback (yay). notwithstanding this, there is still an uncomfortable question out there as to how much better mls really are than pop threat, but there is at least no doubting that they are fairly amazing".

21. boyracer / beatnik filmstars split single (555, 7")

matt skelton might have messed up his title fight, but here was some more heavyweight sparring as these two giants of our world happily collide, contributing 3 songs each to this 7". there was initially, we think, talk of bogshed cover versions, but that may have been pub talk and / or our imagination. the catchy "exs + zeros", a rumination on superstition and yet another lost hit from the filmstars, makes a driving start, while boyracer's "a rockabilly ruse" is an equally, er, punchy beginning to the second side, but it's boyracer's last tune, "sentiment" that nails things most perfectly, as stewart anderson describes "a beautiful dance between / what is expected and realised" over a punctured heartbeat and weaving guitar and bass. fantastic.

22. skream "skreamizm volume 3" (tempa, 2x12")

the second disc is the eye of the storm, as the massive "make me", which was later remixed by distance, is backed by a vocal cut, "check it", on which warrior queen joins the dots. "losing control" and festive 50 hit "chest boxing" on the first disc nicely complete the quartet.

23. bearsuit "more soul than wigan casino" (fantastic plastic)

contrary to popular belief, bearsuit do actually divide opinion at le palais d'ilwttisott quite a lot, but i think they're ace and i've got control of the keyboard right now: bearsuit 'put the others in the shade'.

24. wiley "no qualms (revox)" (big dada, 12")

wiley has nothing to do with this at all for the first 2 1/2 minutes - skepta provides the beats, and chipmunk (self-styled "harry potter of grime" and another sound, so youthful '07 discovery), jme and skepta the vocals, until the eskiboy finally turns up for his verse and slays it. lyrically, it's just another advertisement for the boy better know clothing line, but musically it's a worthwhile, skittering remake of the "playtime is over" album cut.

25. motorhead "overkill (exclusive version)" (cleopatra)

i personally voted this visceral re-recording very high indeed, in a vain attempt to shake the brittle foundations of indie-pop: other ilwttsters sadly failed to, leading to this upsettingly low ranking for something so vital, youthful (even without taking into account being sung by someone in their sixties) and head-crankingly entertaining. should have been top five at least. pah.

26. a-bomb and mindzeye "middle east" promo ep (yard 26 recordings, download ep)

in retrospect, "thoughtful, religiose leicester ukhh" sounds a touch like
damning with faint praise but that was not the intention: this 5-tracker with
rayzabeek and other yard 26 / speech ferapy bods is well rippling and best of all it can still be yours in a few clicks should you just venture here. "sons of adam" turned up on a recent suspect packages comp too, "the suspect files" volume 4, which is worth getting for that and appearances by the likes of (youthful taskforce associate) remus and (all round diversion tactics-stable genius) chubby alcoholic.

27. skepta / jme 4-track ep (adamantium, 12")

"a dark, scabrous instrumental void aching with dusty hints of dubstep"

yay, and as good as that sounds. "missin'" and "autopsy" are the pick.

28. the bodines "shrinkwrapped" (firestation records, cd-ep)

"a lyrically spiky, tuneful 2 1/2 minutes of glistening, highest-notch indie" and we know it was recorded nearly 20 years ago. but it was a single, for the first time, in 2007, and it deserves to be in here. incidentally, it's still
sickening us that we can't call the FST boys "firestation tower" any more. lawyers are idiots.

29. the fall "reformation!" (slogan, 12" and cd)

"comes as close as a song can to packaging the chimera that is ESSENCE OF FALL into one place. as we've hinted before, it is a hulking, bristling monster which basically consists of taking a two-note bassline, and then running with it uninterrupted for the next seven minutes or so. during that period, while guitars twang and crash in and out a little, and mark e. smith esquire interjects the usual series of largely random words. you know the sort of thing - "POST!" "CHEESE STEAKS!" - although our favourites are "ACH!" (an old chestnut, which starred on "hit the north" amongst others), "FALL MOTEL!" (which he seems particularly fond of on this song) and "GOLDFISH BOWL!" (any attempt at explanation would surely just pale)...a riveting, relentless song"

30. milanese "barry dub 2007" (planet mu, 12")

yes, throughout this list there does appear to be an idle smattering of (instrumental) dubstep-type stuff, despite its fairly glaring lack of coverage on these pages generally. the official line is that the scarcity and sparseness of dubstep reviews in this fanzine merely reflects the bare texture of the aching void so vividly reflected in the music. or something.

31. the deirdres "dinosaurs that can swim ep" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

you will have heard much about the deirdres from other sources - this is where we clamber aboard the bandwagon. "claire are we safe to be on our own ?" rings with all kinds of skewed pop goodness, but the ep as a whole has an almost magical feel to it - as if the helter-skelter hecticness of bearsuit was melded with the slow beauty of those slow-fi folk bands that the indie scene is subtly co-opting right now. also, the songs kind of feign to wind down before springing back into life for a glorious reprise. heady, and extremely rewarding, stuff, especially when listened to on the northern line after having escaped from an office party.

32. tinchy stryder "breakaway" (total entertainment, 12")

"it's the a-side of which we are increasingly fond: davinche produces, rather more lushly, while tinchy's beau laments that they can't "break away", because the streets are all he knows, and tinchy readily agrees in his instantly-recognisable, ever-warming way: "it's a standard ting / that i keep it ghetto"."

33. pinch "underwater dancehall" sampler (tectonic, 12")

possibly aka the "one blood, one source" ep. places here for the rather fetching "trauma", featuring juakali

34. boyracer / mytty archer split single (555 / brittle records, 7")

mytty archer is jen turrell's new project, and their four pint-sized popnuggets will do just nicely thank you, especially sprightly opener "saturn". of the two boyracer tunes, it's the able "katharine" that keeps them the usual distance from much of the chasing pack, a racer 100-ish slab of spinning chords and vocal barbs.

35. manhattan love suicides "keep it coming" (lost music, 7")

more from mls and a great record label debut from the lostmusic posse. the four tracks of the ep are a sequence of knowing steals, although the new version of "thinking is killing me" (the "happy when it rains" tribute") plays the blinder, a reminder that not only do MLS *evoke* the greatest fuzz-bands of the mid-to-late 80s, but gosh, yes, they actually are just as good.

36. burial "ghost machine" ep (hyperdub, 12")

over the course of a whole album, you worry that you can almost feel a laser searing the words "omg i am listening to coffee table music" into your forehead. yet taken in bite-sized (i.e. song length) chunks, everything suddenly comes together and it is much easier to appreciate that there can be few better soundtracks to this our city. let's just hope (to god) that that fool boris johnson never gets his hands on it.

37. n-type "street justice" (3.5 records, 12")

"street justice" has a nuanced, loungey pulse on which it then sweetly overlays a dubstep heart. but "blind fury", the first b-side, almost eclipses it with its looping, determinedly offbeat stride.

38. wiley "my mistakes" (big dada, 7/12")

more selfless collaboration from the big man, little dee and manga assisting this time, while violins kind of swoosh around feverishly in the background. the b-side, on the 7" at least, is the quality rascal-baiter "sorry sorry pardon what".

39. roll deep "celebrate" (white label 12")

"one of roll deep's best for ages, thankfully abt 93 million miles from the feeble "heartache avenue": the ever-vital skepta features, berating those of us who had no idea that he was in roll deep at all and explaining that he's just often a bit too busy to hang out with them, because he's north and they're east, or something. anyway, all the mc spots are as tight as the pirates' back four all season: and the jme remix on the b-side, with super-bouncey garage styling and a slightly more politically correct chorus lyric, just outpunches the original."

nb the flattering reference to the pirates' back four does not apply to its less sterling 2007/08 season performances.

40. von sudenfed "fledermaus can't get it" (domino, 12")

obv ace. from "tromatic reflexxions", of which a little more elsewhere.

41. the nightingales "what's not to love ?" (caroline true, cd-ep)

a 7-track ep of "fabulous artfulness... a swaggering fusion of the shrubs and the fall, the nightingales benefit from doing all the things that you can't get the youngsters to do any more - archly narrated and marginally surreal mini-plots, off-the-wall song structures and beguilingly random guitars that errantly fight amongst themselves..."

42. darqwan "m/a... ximum reespek" b/w "ghost not memory" (planet mu, 12")
43. beatnik filmstars "wild eyed restless and free" (the international lo-fi underground, cd-ep)


another great single from the unstoppable bristolians: the two-minute optimism of the a-side is good enough, but the aa "popular nazis" was our pick: "a jagged, uncompromising kinda "curious role model" part 2".

44. strawberry story "sci-fi guy" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

i went to a wedding a few years ago and ended up briefly stood next to an ageing long-haired bloke with a leather waistcoat on, whose appearance i put down to the usual mid-life crisis stuff, especially as his female companion was considerably younger. neither of us were particularly interested in, or had anything much to say, to each other and managed to mumble our excuses and go off & mingle elsewhere.

it later turned out that this bloke, the bride's family's next-door neighbour, was one robert plant. it didn't really matter, as i still wouldn't have thought of anything to say to him anyway... zeppelin were never really on my radar - not good, not bad, just not quite my generation, not quite my parents', not someone i had any "in" to. so it's hard for me to understand the excitement that so many feel about their reappearance.

unless, of course, you transpose for "the return of led zep" "the return of strawberry story". for strawberry story definitely are of my generation, my area of (limited) expertise, my memory recall. and their return is probably the indie-pop equivalent of led zep's. er, in a way.

anyway, this ep does of course demonstrate no detectable advancement from their earlier work, and nor should it. it is an attempt to reconnect with an idea of *fun*, it sounds exactly as you would expect it to (even down to the middle track being one of their prescription slowies, in between the two burning fuzzpop ones) and the package works, especially with it being on the phenomenal cloudberry er, "imprint". mind, you do end up thinking how they could probably have rattled an ep like this off every few months for the last decade or so, rather than us having to be subjected to the rubbishness of the indie scene for so much of that period. ah well - they're back now and that's all that matters.

45. android and victor stroganov "my house" (maximum minimum, 12")

"reaffirms what we already know, namely that muscovites are uniquely at ease with chaos. spidery, clinical, clean, clanging and great, it is backed by liberator and mcaffer's textbook, military-drum n'drum min-side "my techno", which represents our city somewhat more capably than fulham, charlton, brentford and west ham are managing at the moment."

well, muscovites certainly proved capable of causing chaos to england's unremittingly overrated serial lumberers. and you can probably now replace west ham in that list with millwall and dagenham.

46. math and physics club "baby i'm yours" (matinee recordings cd-ep)

"math and physics are BACK and they haven't lost it either, with their tender marriage of smithsian tales of youthful indiscretion and delicate, spinning guitars. the a-side of this cd-ep on matinee recordings, "baby i'm yours", pushes all the right buttons, but "nothing really happened" is even better: the smiths-isms combine most happily with the sort of spiralling, echoing guitars that made st. christopher's "cathedral high" soar so."

47. darkthrone "the new wave of black heavy metal ep" (peaceville)

like the "f.o.a.d." album that followed it, this is beautifully arrayed on the outside with sleeve shots of the rolling norwegian countryside: yet on the inside "new wave of black metal" is not a bad description, as darkthrone 'motorhead things up' a little by rolling out their punk influences, to complement the excellent riffage showcased on their "the cult is alive" set from 2006.

48. k.n. "technique on monday" (cluster, 12")

"headspringingly fine tokyo techno, a-side of 12" on the ever-reliable cluster. can't really describe why it's so good, but basically it has that kind of air-raid siren sound, and then that kind of lorry-reversing sound, and then plays them across each other. actually, that's probably why it's so good."

49. sunny intervals "call and response" (weepop, 3" cdr)

"hidden treats don't come much more hidden (or as much of a treat)... with lyrics that entertain and actually reflect on london reality in doing so, while keyboards and guitars dance around them attempting unsuccessfully to rein in the singer's endless pop enthusiasm, this is the kind of thing that could give twee-pop a good name."

appreciate in retrospect that not all of that quote quite makes sense, but we guess you got the gist.

50. bedroom eyes "hand-in-hand grenade" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

"sublimely confident, tiptop, well-executed scando pop thrills". in one. see also the "valentine vacancy" download ep, available here, which also features the lead cloudberry track.

51. the manhattan love suicides "sycamore peripheral" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

a very pop threat-ish title! a little lower-fi than their two fine 7"s this year, "sycamore" is still a decent, scuzz-loaded indie-lolloper, while "last stand" is even better, a fired-up ballad boasting a delectable little melody, arrayed in the usually tantalising feedback-flecked way.

52. butcher boy "girls make me sick" (how does it feel ?, download)

we have a dim memory that this was released as some kind of limited download. and that's enough for us, because we wanted an excuse to get BB in both our lists!

53. blak twang "help dem lord" (rotton products, 12")

ah, welcome back mate. a song first previewed on the silent soundz compilation mixed by the last skeptik that came out with hip-hop connection last year, "an excellent, and much more grown-up twang... "help dem lord" is not the cheeky, blokey, ducking and diving tony rotton: instead, he steps back with an incredibly widely-targeted rant, full of the consciousness that fired our past favourites like "fearless"."

54. jamie bissmire presents... "jack trax vol. 1" (50hz)

"a phono-treat which also features friend-of-the-site (in our dreams) paul langley of "sexual predator" (the song) fame. sonico's "alamma" is all layered up with plenty of DOOSHes and bleeps and noises and bass. in other words, pretty fantastic." there's also a great tunes from bissmire / dj bam bam and aaron the pimp, jack fans.

55. the airfields "yr so wonderful" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

a cracking canadian combo who show off over these 3 tracks the ease with which they can diversify into both melody and noise, finishing with the sweet, pounding title tune and its honey drizzle of light feedback. the combination of tunes and amplifier fog makes this cloudberry records' "come get me".

56. liechtenstein "stalking skills" (fraction discs, 7")

"starts with a blissful thud of just shop assists drum n' bass fuzz which the rest of it can't quite live up to, but while it's lighter and frothier than the shoppies or the frenchmen, say, it still stalks prettily and (with some skill) talulah gosh, early aventuras de kirlian and free loan investments..."

57. sway "one for the journey ep" (dcypha, cdep)

"he's def more than capable of outlasting mike skinner and co, although at some point it is probably worth him releasing a record that doesn't feature a version of "up your speed""

58. public enemy "harder than you think" (slamjamz, 12")

this is the best track from their "how do you sell soul to a soulless people who sold their soul ?" and it's backed with possibly the second best, "amerikan gangster". only released as a single in the u.s., although at time of writing both rough trade west and rough trade west certainly have copies in stock...

59. e.j. featuring elephant man "haters" / "temperature" (more2da floor, 12")
60. skream / cluekid "sandsnake" (disfigured dubz, 12")
61. distance "feel me" (chestplate, 12")
62. hoodz underground "pass the mic" / "history" (trackshicker, 12")


"the savvy "pass the mic" shows that musically, they've picked up neatly where they left off. "history" seems to suggest that the extended absence owed something to their disillusionment with mainstream rap - one shared by all of us - but then that's why we need the likes of the erudite menace, joni atcha & co to fight it."

63. gravenhurst "trust" (warp, 7")

"combines jangly guitar atmospherics with curving, gently rasping bass to positive effect... a 7", well a 7" a-side, of some class..."

the ever-dependable fire escape pointed out the kvatch-era sea urchins parallels as well, which has gotta help.

64. camera obscura "if looks could kill" (elefant)

"one of our favourite camera obscura records since the blast of fresh air that was "eighties fan"... a coming-up-on-the-rails footstomper that would happily have fitted on the fortuna pop! "more soul than wigan casino" ep - recalling kicker, or "strength"-era comet gain, with its walloping goodtime, fuzzing sixtiesish melodies."

=65. cluekid "crazy legs" (bullfrog beats, 12")
=65. gallhammer "beyond the hatred ep" (peaceville)


the pinnacle here is lead track "crucifixion", in which the japanese girls mix proto-punk crust with kinda two-chord slowed-down grindcore. "insane beautiful sunnyday slaughter" has the best song title though, almost cloudberry (in a parallel universe), don't you think ?

67. fireworkz "hold it down (remix)" (w10, 12")

"as you'd expect from a record billing bruza, tiny tempa, hypa & marcie, kelle le roc, scorcher & wretch 32 and wariko - this is something of a channel-u friendly "club banger". in our more sedate world this means another opportunity to pogo around the bedroom smashing imaginary crockery, the same adrenalin rush we got off the exploited 20 years ago... but springtime wouldn't be the same with a bit of blazing garage."

=68. kelman "is this how it ends ?" (liner, download)

"taut, shimmering, dreamy velvets vs. weddoes single from another seemingly perpetually underrated outfit..."

=68. bearsuit "foxy boxer" (fantastic plastic, 7")

Again, can't quite live up to the promise of its opening line, "throw your library cards in the air / like you just don't care", but has a commendable stab at doing so. you get a free badge, too, which should happen more often.

70. chester p "from the ashes" (rawdog, 12"): particularly for the "chessmonster" side

71. my sad captains "bad decisions" (fortuna pop!)

"it's fair to say that camera obscura and butcher boy have laid down some markers this year for marginally polished indie-pop jangle, but my sad captains go for the jugular in ba-ba-ba terms and profit accordingly. any sarah comparisons are, on this occasion, justified - this is fortuna pop!'s "if it kills me and it will"."

72. obituary "evil ways" (candlelight)

"it's true that "evil ways" would be twice as good if it was half as long and didn't have the guitar solo, but then if it was half as long and didn't have the guitar solo, then it wouldn't be obituary." obituary are, of course, in london this weekend - see y'all there.

73. boyracer / the faintest ideas split single (happy happy birthday to me, 7")

it's not often that boyracer are outpunched on a double-header, but we reckoned it was the faintest ideas' marvellous "i felt my soul" that stood out most of the five tracks on this pink vinyl 7". very appetising.

74. lapidus featuring skepta, stanna g and wiley "stop snitchin'" (mcs, 12")
75. the april skies "a picnic in heaven" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)
=76. parson "throw some Ds" / "big killaz" (planet mu, 12")
=76. the hi-life companion "times table" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)
=76. ice pack and rob tryptomene "freeloaders of society" / "247" (cluster, 12")


247: "b-side (but superior side) of ice pack and rob tryptomene's "freeloaders of society" 12" on cluster as liberator and mcaffer collaborate again, with one of their sparsest (and hence best) productions so far this year"

79. saxon "if i was you" (steamhammer, cd-ep)

while "need for speed" could have been recorded any time in the last 30 years, "if i was you", with looping bass and a raw percussion sound, has a surprisingly modern production: not quite their "st. anger", but you get the picture. so if your children or your children's children continue to insist on listening to shoddy faux-rebel stuff like my chemical romance, foist this on them.

80. faintest ideas "your imaginary bullets really hurt" (happy happy birthday to me)
81. jme and trigz "berr quick" ep (white label, 12")


a boy better know thing which stars jme's "african zulu warrior" instrumental.

82. sunny summer day "you're the one for me" (cloudberry, 3" cdr)

from indonesia, it seems (we were a smidgeon confused as the indonesian flag is the same as the monaco flag or, if you hold the sleeve upside down, the flag of poland). sunny summer day are - song titles like "happy in the summer" and "something in your eyes" would suggest - either amazingly idealistic or amazingly cynical. money's on the former, but there's something attractive, if still a little rough, about them - "you're the one for me" itself, coming on like we would imagine some early sarah band demos would have, is typical of sunny summer day's charm.

83. municipal waste "the art of partying (headbanger face rip)" (earache, download single)
84. slow down tallahassee "so much for love" (thee sheffield phonographic corporation, 7")


"take some solace from the sweetness of all three tracks on this the first (we think) slow down tallahassee single. [re "u r grace u r":] the darling buds did not die in vain." "so much for love" also turned up on cloudberry, who you will have noticed have made real inroads into 2007's best singles.

85. the bug featuring killa p and flowdan "skeng" (hyperdub, 12")

yes for a while, everywhere we looked, it seemed that the bug and flowdan were there. and we had no desire whatsoever to shake them. kode 9's remix of this on the b-side better unleashes flowdan's primal, occasionally m.e.s.-like utterings, as he and roll deep's killa p proffer disembodied ragga vocals, broadly to the effect that they pack a skeng and that we don't wanna see them get evil, over a backing of low-end rumble lightly spotted with electronic pulses. edgy stuff.

86. celestial "fragile heart" (skipping stones, 7")
87. syer barz "badboy ep" (label unremembered, 12")
88. celestial "last day of summer ep " (music is my girlfriend, download ep)
89. verb-t and the last skeptik "satisfied" (silent soundz, 12")
90. skream "skreamizm volume 4" (tempa, 2x12")
91. chris liberator and sterling moss "head start" (yolk, 12")
92. tinchy stryder "something about your smile" (total entertainment, 12")
93. zion train featuring dubdadda "life that i choose" (deep root, 7")
94. organised grime "it's gonna be ok" / "next level" (white label 12")
95. lapidus featuring jme, vader, envy and shifty "smugglers walk ep" (smile & cry / tunecore, 12")
96. taskforce "jacked" (white label 12")
97. club 8 "heaven"" (labrador, possibly, download)


"seems veritably to spring out of the blocks, in a manner rarely seen since pine forest crunch did "cup noodle song" (and then fell off really badly, even worse than superrhymes)."

98. helen love "it's my club" (elefant, cd single)
99. iron maiden "different world" (sanctuary)
100. saxon featuring lemmy kilmister, angry anderson and andi deris "you've got to rock (to stay alive)" (steamhammer)


not really a patch on the other saxon single and so mainly here thanks to the ilwttisott motorhead block vote: to my mind whenever lemmy's voice comes in, it's like what people of our generation are pleased to call "the liz fraser moment" in felt's "primitive painters" - blushingly beauteous.

bubbling under: bloody loads. ed 209 featuring earl 16, julian liberator, malcolm middleton, the television personalities, the magnetic fields, the acoustic stories, frisco, e.j. featuring b liive, riko, syer, faction and royal, benny benassi vs public enemy, watoo watoo, von sudenfed's "the rhinohead", tippa irie, d.a.v.e the drummer and dj redmond, a.p. vs. zoid, armed response unit / black eye riot split, dirty diggers, lethal bizzle, tinie tempah, ant vs dj urban, dubbledge, heartyeah, guy mcaffer and alex ferreira...

btw as our year-ends lists only cover 45s and 33s, they still merely really scratch the year's surface, so the tracklisting for our epic new year ilwtt domino all-nighter (as close as we are likely to get to a club night) is here: an attempt to cram more of the best of 2007's music into er, 12 hours (after an attempt at six hours failed).

our fervent but likely to be unrealised hope for 2008 is, of course, that people just slow down releasing music a bit and that our next end-of-year list can be restricted to a top five or something...