Singles of the year: 21-30

Welcome back to in love with these times, in spite of these times, the fanzine which prefers all our favourite bands to all your favourite bands (though to be clear, we’re always willing to be persuaded otherwise and pore through your own top 100 singles of the year lists…)

21. Lamont ft. Grim Sickers & Nico Lindsay “Missed Calls” (Keysound)
22. The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy “The Clock On The Wall EP” (Breaking Down)
23. The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy “Shutters Down EP” (Breaking Down)

The side of the cargo ship-turned cabaret ship Thekla was a murky canvas for Banksy’s Grim Reaper, but an apposite metaphor for Bristol art: creative, but grimy and slightly underwater. “Missed Calls”, a fine themed 12” from Lamont is similarly somehow bright and murky in turn, its pristine beats and drops refracted through the dirt of canal water or the muddy Avon at low tide. 

Fellow Bristolians the CTC have a slightly different approach to the thematic schizophrenia of their city: they tend to corral fine tunes with downbeat lyrics, but charmant horn-led lead song here “Let That Feeling Go” is actually rather cheering all round, a nice counterpoint to last year’s resplendently doleful “You Made Me Homeless”. The last 30 seconds, as Forest Giants influences casually intrude to join the party, are quite possibly my fave half-minute of music of the whole year.

The “Shutters Down” EP, which hit around Halloween, reinforces the CTC’s credentials: “Drowning” is outstanding, an air-raid siren heralding a nicely clattering verse with staccato horns which unpeels into a catchy chorus and some tremendously lithe guitar lines. And “No Going Back” is not far behind, with more wonderful guitar breaks that, together with a shimmering organ sound, recall the sun-dappling glow of the Sea Urchins or Tramway. ROVERRRRZ.

24. Zomby ft. Burial “Sweetz” (Hyperdub)

You don’t often get singles that are so bleak, so uncompromising, so frankly wtf? as this one-sided 10” collabo – oddly enough, the 45 it most reminds us of is Television Personalities’ “All The Young Children On Crack” (#2, 2006), which pretty much dealt with the same subject matter.

Some of you reading this will regard Zomby & Burial as a bit obvious or ‘mainstream’, but all we’d say is that if a record like this can be considered in any way mainstream, then things have to be looking up. Mind you, this another example of a one-sided record that costs at least as much as a two-sided one… as always, only Sarah knew the real score, which is that the only truly acceptable one-sided disc is a FLEXI.

25. Aiken “Inductive” (Timeline)

Four excellent tracks on this artist EP from Spanish producer Aiken (Joan? Drum? Roy?), all of which merit repeat play. “Inductive”, perhaps the most minimalist, combines the casual shimmer of early Spiros Kaloumenos sorties with the clipped electrical pulses of Aiken’s compatriot Oscar Mulero. The seriously ace “Curfew” ups the ante further, co-opting a glitzy acid house line: both tracks making a pitch to snuggle up alongside DJ Hi-Shock’s “The Travelers” in your favourite DJ’s next live set.

On the other side of the vinyl, “Distant System” ripples with the reflective pulse of chilled-out D&B comedowns before “Sanity” belies its title and sees Aiken toy with a little more acid (slight return). The 12” comes coquettishly clad in v. stylish artwork by Kike Besada, which is quite a coup given his client list.

26. Obituary “Loathe” (Relapse)

Mmmmmm. Six MIGHTY minutes of textbook Floridian death metal to trail Obituary’s “Ten Thousand Ways To Die” live comp: “Loathe” is glorious sludge-chug-sludge-chug-mosh, with riffs hewn out of granite: it may be utterly devoid of originality, but it sounds not unlike a stretched-out version of “Inked In Blood” and as such we could simper and swoon and listen to it from dawn to nightfall.

Obituary are like the Lucksmiths (no, bear with us) in that if you like one of their songs, you’re basically going to like all of them. Also, Malcolm Eden’s late period ‘helium chipmunk’ style aside, has there ever been a more distinctive male vocal than John Tardy’s genre-defining growl?

27. Jeff Rushin “Obsolete” (Mote Evolver)

One of two absolute pearlers from Mr Rushin on the AA of Mote Evolver’s “Parallel Series 5” 12”: it’s fair to say that its chaperone “Solex” is no slouch, nor the A-side brace from super Swede Sev Dah (of whom more later, perhaps), but “Obsolete” blasts them all out of the North Sea with its slam-dunk synth stylings, despite a slightly disconcerting oompah rhythm.

28. Dexplicit ft. Chip, Durrty Goodz, Swiss, Black The Ripper, Flowdan & Rocks FOE “Link Up Season” (DXP Music)

There was a Brum-repping take on this club monster too, but this was the original London versh and it’s Dex’s old-skool flavoured triumph: a non-stop, no holds-barred maximum-entertainment nod to his role in early-‘00s white label smashes like “Pow!”, “Forwards” and “Backwards” that also generated some tidily sprightly performances out of an already decent-looking array of guest MCs.

29. Durrty Goodz "BMP" / “Organise” (TruThoughts)

Some artists can effortlessly evolve from one genre to another, as we saw from Foreign Beggars earlier on, but it's not often you get an artist single with two new songs split across two completely different styles. “Organise” was a laid-back introduction to the ‘new’ DG and his conscious hip-hop “Not Been Televised” set, while “BMP” was a taster for his “Hungry Belly” album, a febrile demonstration that the man still slays all things grime, and can flow like nobody else over giddily helter-skelter beats.

30. Nothing Clean / Higgs Boson split (MMXVI FHED Records / Glass To The Face Records / Samizdat Records / SuperFi Records)

NC’s first split 7” of the year, which thrilled us suitably at the time, not least for being on four labels again. But will it be their only entry in the 2016 singles of the year countdown? Ooh, the tension: you’ll just have to hold on tight, wait and find out.