Best albums of 2022: #4 Wet Leg “Wet Leg”

I generally feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the comings and goings and new releases of music, especially when it comes to the alternative and indie realm, but I’m obvious not omniscient. Every once in a while, something slips through on first pass and “Wet Leg” is a perfect example of one of those parties to which I arrived unfashionably late. Indeed, I hadn’t heard of them at all until the week of their self-titled debut’s release and I started seeing tons of hype all over the music sites and pictures of the album’s cover and vinyl pressing on the various vinyl-loving pages I follow on Instagram.

Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers are long-time friends who decided to form as a duo in 2019 after years of miring in relative solo musician obscurity on the Isle of Wight. They’ve given a handful of differing reasons as to why they settled on Wet Leg as a moniker but the version I believe or want to believe the most was as a constant reminder to not take themselves too seriously. They signed with Domino Records in late 2020 and recorded the aforementioned debut in the spring of 2021.

A couple of months after the album was finished, Wet Leg released the first advance single and really, their first ever single. And yeah, it went viral, racking up millions of streams in its first year. With the second single almost as successful, it was unsurprising that the music machine started to take notice. “Wet Leg” was finally released a year after it was recorded and was preceded by five singles in total. It debuted at #1 on the UK and Australian record charts and performed well in pretty much every major market. It was nominated for the UK’s Mercury Prize and for a handful of Grammys in the US.

The first time I streamed it, I did so with a dubious ear, but one that quickly melted to the glee that many other music fans have obviously experienced. There’s something universal in their sound, which is probably why I’ve seen them classified as everything from punk to post-punk, from garage rock to britpop, and from new wave to slacker rock. The duo is original and exciting, but given their quick ascent in popularity, they are already treading the fine line of darling and derision. All eyes and ears will be on whether they can properly follow this up but for now, we can appreciate the debut as pure fun and folly.

Indeed, there’s plenty to like here but there’s no arguing with the three singles I’ve picked for you to peruse, just in case you (as I almost did) have missed out on Wet Leg thus far.

“Too late now“: The third single and last track on the album has a rumbling bass line and chiming guitars that keep time with Teasdale’s shifty vocals. It feels at first like it’s got it all together, albeit insular and atmospheric, but little by little, its insecurity shows and by the end it’s a shambolic mess. “Down we go while holding hands. If I fuck this up, I’m taking you down with me.” It’s feedback and hammering drums and chaos and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Wet dream”: Working backward through their singles, track five reminds me a bit of Goat Girl, who were a surprise entry on my end of the year list last year. It’s a bass groove that flirts with Blondie and The Go-Go’s but is perhaps more overt in its sexuality and its refusal to play and accept its role. “What makes you think you’re good enough to think about me when you’re touching yourself?” But in spite of its knowing side glances and sly winks, it is at its heart, a great pop song and has the potential to fill dance floors everywhere.

“Chaise longue”: Here’s the big one. The ear worm. The song you want to hate but can’t help but love. You listen to it over and over and find yourself singing along to that damned repetitive chorus. “On the chaise longue, on the chaise longue, on the chaise longue. All day long, on the chaise longue.” Fast and frenetic and hyperventilating. One could almost imagine Justine Frischmann singing it with her band Elastica back in the mid 90s. It’s no wonder it’s gotten so much play.

We’ll be back after the holiday with album #3. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:

10. Blushing “Possessions”
9. Just Mustard “Heart under”
8. Jeanines “Don’t wait for a sign”
7. The Reds, Pinks and Purples “Summer at land’s end”
6. Tallies “Patina”
5. Suede “Autofiction”

You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.

And finally, for those who celebrate, best wishes to you, your friends, and your families for a very merry Christmas.


Vinyl love: The Exbats “Kicks, hits, and fits”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Exbats
Album Title: Kicks, hits, and fits
Year released: 2020
Details: standard black vinyl

The skinny: Like the subject of last week’s ‘Vinyl love’ post, this record is an album that finished just outside of my top ten favourite 2020 albums list*. There aren’t many photos in this gallery, given that the release is pretty bare bones, but it’s still pretty special in that it’s the first studio album the band has pressed to vinyl. Its simple aesthetic also falls in line with The Exbats’ no-nonsense sound. The trio, led by Inez McLain (drums/vocals) and her father Ken (guitars), flip between garage rock and punk, all brightened by 60’s sunshine/bubblegum pop, name-checking The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, The Stooges, and The Monkees.”Kicks, hits, and fits” is angry and fun at the same time. Yeah, The Exbats might just be a band worth watching out for.

Standout track: “I got the hots for Charlie Watts”

*I am still putting the finishing touches on said list in the hopes of beginning its roll-out in just under one week’s time.


Best tunes of 1992: #28 The Stairs “Weed bus”

<< #29    |    #27 >>

My memory of this particular evening is even foggier than most of the ones from around that time. It could be that it’s from at least twenty five years ago now and that some of those nights out with friends and music sometimes blend together and I would hazard that perhaps there was some alcohol involved.* To be honest, I’m not even sure what year it was exactly (I am guessing ‘93 or ‘94) or even what season of the year, though I am thinking winter because I am remembering wearing cold sneakers and winter jackets piled high on chairs.

My friend Andrew Rodriguez was there because it was surely him that dragged us to that spot that night, and perhaps so was Tim or John, someone with wheels to bring us in to the big city. As to the where, that might be the foggiest of all because I haven’t a clue of the destination that night. Indeed, it was a ‘night’ that had migrated to a few places, the DJ bringing his dancers to wherever he landed. I think it might’ve been ‘Blow up’ or a precursor to it, one of those ‘dos that started late, say 11, and went even later. The venue for this particular event, though it goes nameless to me to this day, I remember as being off for a dance party, lots of tables and very little dance space, like it was a restaurant by day, lots of windows to look out at the city streets beyond.

At some point that night, I heard the shaking of the maracas (or what sounds to me like maracas) and placed this song from wherever I was and ended whatever conversation with whomever it was with and joined Rodriguez, who was already out on the tiny raised platform that served as a dancing space. I had to be quick because the song is a short one, clocking in at just over two minutes. Rodriguez and I jumped and jostled all over the place, matching the bass line and the arpeggiating and repetitive guitar hook, always being careful not to spill our beers. And at the same time, using said bottle to join the lead vocalist in channeling Mick Jagger in our minds. Of course, to everyone else it probably sounded more like yelling and screaming.

It was with this night in mind that I went back to the internets a decade or so ago to track down “The weed bus” by The Stairs. It was a song that I loved but had never, ever heard anything else by the group. With further digging, I learned that The Stairs were the trio of Edgar John, Ged Lynn, and Paul Maguire that held cult status in many circles and of course, I also unearthed the group’s lone album, 1992’s “Mexican R’n’B”.** And this whole album is wonderful stuff to me. The production is purposely lo-fi and recorded in Mono to capture the feel of all that 60s garage and psych rock that influenced them. And yeah, yeah, yeah, some might say that the virtual name-checking is too in-your-face but to that I say balderdash! The energy is just so great, how can you not but love it?

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.

* Before you start making some connections that aren’t there, the fuzzy memory had nothing to do with another stimulant not so subtly referred to in this song’s title.

** Those select few who are familiar with the group will already know that “Weed bus” was actually released on an EP of the same name in 1991 but I’m still including it here for 1992 because well, it’s my rules.