Still Single, Vol. 7
Yours must be a single pressed on any size of vinyl. CD-Rs of singles will not be reviewed; they will be destroyed. We need the artifact here with original artwork, not some duplicate/digital copy. Only records released within the past six months will qualify for a review.
Singles must be postmarked by the 15th of each month to qualify for the next installment of this column.
ANY genre of music will do – don’t hesitate to send punk, hardcore, metal, goth, pop, rock, country, hip hop, electronic, experimental, dub and reggae … all genres accepted and welcome.
Information on your pressing (quantity pressed, color vinyl, etc.) should be included if at all possible.
Submissions can be sent to:
Records need to be shipped securely in sturdy mailing materials and marked FRAGILE because the post office will destroy them otherwise
This column runs the last week of every month on Dusted (give or take). Its success depends on you sending in singles for review.
Here’s a fascinating one: these kids (and they are kids, they’re like 19 year olds or something) come up out of Sheffield with the worst name ever, get the Internet goin’ nutz, and power their way into the #1 position on the UK pop charts, almost entirely via word of mouth and unfettered public excitement and good will for the band. The rock press then gets behind them, aware that they’ve been steamrolled by the people who would otherwise support them, and then things get really insane. This time, the people got what they wanted, and there seemed to be little grooming involved; not much careful strategizing involved, and no fishing members out of rehab and the tabloids either. They’re kids; too young for that stuff. In NYC, one show at the Mercury Lounge quickly sold out and a second was upstreamed to larger sister venue the Bowery Ballroom, where supposedly all the kids in the crowd knew the lyrics to the songs – most of which haven’t even been formally released yet. Surprises happen every day, but rarely so in this business of record, and even then ones with a positive spin. So it’s fair to say that the Arctic Monkeys will be around for a couple of years, and on the strength of their A-side, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” they better keep chugging those Red Bulls. This is not pretty or polished pop; it’s restless and off-the-hinges pop-punk crashing down on every beat and breathless batting its eyelashes at all the girls coast to coast. If anything, it’s more reminiscent of Nation of Ulysses or Refused than the Britpop crowd eating out of their hands. Singer Alex Turner has a ways to go before he successfully melds his hometown hero Jarvis Cocker’s way with a metaphor to finks-‘e’s-funny Mike Skinner-isms, but so far he’s in control of the common touch, both on the A-side and on poppier, more dour flip “Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts.” A third track, added for length perhaps, is a completely useless “funky” instrumental that tarnishes the good that’s here, so skip that – fucking kids, always messing something up. But for these newcomers to step forth with such a promising and energetic single may mean that all us old folks might have to step aside and let the youth run wild in the streets.
Hands up for damp, moody minimal electronic laptop drone. Clicks, pulses, experiments with tone clusters and samples of bellows-powered instruments can only mean one thing: somewhere, a computer is sad. Now that the joke is out of the way, this is really sweet mood music out of a genre which I had thought had escaped relevance long ago. Though minimally arranged, it’s not quiet, which helps. Quite lovely. White vinyl packaged in a clear sleeve.
Pre-LP recordings from Atlanta’s Deerhunter from 2003 here, all lo-fi and in rock/machine mode (away from the technoid aneurysm I understand them to produce as of late). Sounds like the kind of rock that would have ended up on a label like GSL; it has an impenetrable insider feel, like they’d be hard pressed to tell you why they make this sort of beat-heavy noise rock if you asked them. Not bad, but not exactly indicative of where they are these days. Alphabets, on the flip, offer posthumous, all-girl trio recordings that skirt the line between innocence and breakdown, like Magik Markers pulling it somewhat together to cover Liliput. Barely any information on this release, but I think I got the label name right. Maybe. It’s not even on the record. Think about this if you ever release a single – someone might want to know where it came from.
Starting out with a sample from a symphonic (or operatic) work whose title is on the tip of my tongue, “Habibi” sounds like a feeble attempt to bleach out some Eastern Turandot-style class with some Fruity Loops booty bass bounce. The results are horrendous, one of the worst and most lazily assembled tracks I’ve heard in a while. This slothfulness is only reinforced on the flipside, a “remix” that basically sounds like someone took the pieces of the track and reorganized them in a handful of spots. One for target practice.
This import 12” represents the vinyl version of the bonus disc featured in the Kemado reissue of Ta det Lugnt. Aside from the title track, all the songs here are instrumental and showcase the studio wizardry of Dungen leader Gustav Ejstes, getting even deeper into a florid folk-meets-psych rock collision. These songs seem to be sketches for new material or most likely just studio jams and odds ‘n’ ends, so don’t expect the cohesiveness of the album that broke them through or the live show that made you wanna quit playing music altogether. Whether Ejstes and company can truly break through to an increasingly fickle world audience remains to be seen, but the journey is well worth them documenting and us following. Edition of 500 copies.
You might recall “Popozuda” as one of the standout tracks from the Rio Baile Funk compilation – it was the one with the “90210” theme song style guitar riff, the one that wasn’t too far off from Tone Loc. It’s back here, in original, instrumental and acapella mixes. Also included is a mix by Diplo (best one on this 12”) that mixes up the original with a synth line cribbed from the Cure’s version of “Let’s Go To Bed.” Holla! DJ Sandrhino did something to the track; who knows what, it’s not all that evident. Edu K also provides a mix, a largely forgettable reggaeton version of the track that removes most of its appeal.
On its own, Electroserge’s “In a Disco” is a fun slice of Euro electropop sleaze, with chilly vocals, live bass and quavering synth leads. These remixes do as they should – they take the strongest elements out of each track and through them are given new life through another artist’s musical personality. Andreas Heiszenberger pulls out the funk and syncopated elements and relies on the bassline to create a footstomper that’s more straight ahead and somewhat more fulfilling than the original. Landesvatter creates a smooth, painted-circuit robofunk workout out of it, and Strassmann strips away even more, leaving just the original vocal to echo in an emptying reservoir of minimal techno.
Miserable, pissed off, and furious, this debut EP by Pittsburgh’s F.L.A.K. comes on like a blinding tornado of soot and pollution. The suitably shitty radio station recording they got sounds perfect for the sort of thrashy, grinding, d-beat machine hardcore found on these seven tracks. Screamed/shouted vocals, non-stop breathless drumming, extremely fast bass playing and a thoroughly disgusting guitar tone really punch these songs in. Lyrically, F.L.A.K. is as solipsistic and hopeless as you could imagine, with songs about war (duh) as a metaphor for the environment, society, organized religion and scapegoating. Totally necessary piece of modern Scando-loving punk right here for you or the person who wears the most black in your life. Edition of 500 (first 78 as a numbered, extended thanks-list edition.
The evolution of young Kieran Hebden as a solo artist seems to be progressing (if this single off of Everything Ecstatic is any indication) from the blurred lines of whatever amounts to “post-rock” and “electronica” in the past few years – away from dancefloors and into headphones – into full-fledged production. Percee P lays down fast-rap battle rhymes all over the track, in an edit that seems to draw cleaner lines from start to finish than the album version, as well as rolling back in style to what in 1992 would have been the most screwball, left-field hip-hop out there. New Stones Throw protégé Koushik throws down with a 90 second “quick mix” in a similar yet no less engaging jazzbo style. I hope Can gets a royalty check for a near-perfect nick of the break from “Vitamin C” and from the sound of things, I hope that Battles is never asked to remix a record again, if their elementary bullshit at the end of this eight-song 12” means anything.
A six-pack of velveteen gypsy gothlings from Philly follow in the footsteps of a rag doll dance, but lose the trance – they deserve credit for not going down on one genre. Dark rock with overt new wave and subtle lysergic underpinnings is the statement made on “Signature Abstract,” running through the forest at night alongside Siouxsie, R.E.M., the first Xiu Xiu album, and Big Country (no, really), coalescing into something not unlike the sultry eyeliner bands of the Paisley Underground and … well, Los Angeles circa 1989. The track is engaging, light-footed and deserving of its length. Alas, on the flipside they play that waltz you wish they wouldn’t have; “Blank” is far less ambitious, its human drama far less subtle, its purple prose far too trite. If these folks can learn to retain their uniqueness, Golden Ball (heh heh … ball) may just produce more substantial returns to catch up with their style. Edition of 300, gold vinyl, comes with a CDR.
This 12” arrived with a press release which all but painted Heads Will Roll in some sort of Odyssean struggle with the world of complacent musics around them, but I gotta say, those are pretty lofty words for a band that basically sounds like At the Drive-In with “Runnin’ with the Devil”-esque power moves. It’s post-hardcore with some contemplative instrumental anthems, a handful of “screamo” moments, a drummer who’s a bit too wobbly and predictable, and a useless cover of the Misfits’ “Bullet.” I don’t know, guys. Get working on a manifesto you can live with. Edition of 500 numbered copies (first 100 on gold vinyl).
Ziggy Kinder makes bouncy, rotund, somewhat old-school techno with heavy bass and a lot of the corners filed down. This is professional shit, organized and steadily building poppy dance tracks that sound great loud. In the club is a different environment than the home, however, and it’s not entirely fulfilling to listen to these tracks off the dancefloor. They seem really calculated and smooth, and though props given from mix nods by Richie Hawtin and John Tejada might add up to excitement from DJs, the only cut that breaks stride is the chilly and dark “Genussmaterial” which closes the 12” on a somewhat minimal note.
Picture-perfect pop Swedes rip it up hard on this latest offering, once again blasting forth with reckless, overloaded 4-track distorted glee. The chilly disco of “Used Goods” benefits from this raw approach to production, as it brings the rough DIY playfulness out in what could have been fairly pat music, and forces the melody to carry it home. But the flip, “Motorboat Fowley,” (a cover of Kim Fowley’s “Motorboat”) is the champ here; cramming the same sound into a jumpy ‘60s dance anthem, complete with saxophone bleats and persistent “outboard” synth. As is the case with their other records, Love is All gets by largely on talent, which is the way it really ought to be; there’s subtle pop genius in these songs, and as the band gets older, that genius gets more confident with itself. It’s not the unabashed classic their last single (also on What’s Your Rupture) was, but it’s still completely worth your time and money, as is everything else on this label. Limited edition sleeves on 78 copies, and spraypainted stencils on 220 more, but there’s enough copies to go around, so you’ve no excuse not to have one of your very own.
Experimental drone supergroup consisting of Christoph Heeman, Andreas Martin, Jim O’Rourke and Legendary Pink Dots members Edward Ka-Spel and Phil Knight. Surprisingly, you wouldn’t notice from the sound of this as side 1 kicks off with heavy, organic, satisfying yet faceless drone. Some string vibrations close out the side, as things start developing character. On the flip, the super session coalesces into deep firelight folk-trance with rhythmic vagabond caravan overtones. Edition of 500 on clear vinyl. Select copies come with a DVD-R of a rare live Mimir performance (sans O’Rourke). Probably the best Brainwashed release I’ve heard yet.
I feel nauseous! No Doctors are going to make me throw up the drinks I had at Otis’s house last night, but not in a bad way, like in a cleansing way. They’re back in boogie mode here, replete with honkin’ sax and druggy leer. Mid-tempo Truxian choogle that just gets more and more warped as it speeds to the core. Greasy and unsettling. I just barfed on my computer. How unfortunate. Vegans will be pissed off at the sleeve, but that steak looks mighty tasty to me.
I always thought that Stephen McBean’s output with the Pink Mountaintops was eclipsed by the sheer heaviosity and kitchen-sink approach taken by the band he’s better known for, Black Mountain. Hell, I thought Jerk with a Bomb was better too. But he’s coming back with a new Pink Mountaintops LP in early 2006, and these songs are a largely successful teaser. “The Ones I Love” is a solo acoustic rouser, perhaps unwittingly borrowing the hook from the Northern Soul classic “Diced Tomatoes” by the Just Brothers (so notably sampled by Fatboy Slim). “Yeah, I like fuckin’ the ones I love,” McBean croons in this simple, catchy anthem; in presentation and in the gimmick, a comparison to early Beck wouldn’t be too far off. The full band appears on the flipside, “Erected,” which starts the car but never gets out of the garage, bearing a nervous tension that doesn’t break because the song feels like the introduction to a Black Mountain jam. Pretty good all the same, though.
Hey, this one is a puncher. Two-guitar, bassless, shit-fi garage punk from three kids who sound a good bit like the Reatards, and like them, get by on fixing the levels of scuzz and saturation. Three-chord rippers that the band just pounds the living shit out of. Really great grot. Comes with a thanks and a “no thanks” list, which is often the mark of a good band that’s living its life the right way for its chosen field. Edition of 300 in hand-colored sleeves.
Throw the horns. Keep them up. This new Oakland, CA band finds three members of Yaphet Kotto teaming up with the bassist of Drunk Horse and one other guy to level the playing field for bands attempting to be “metal” or “stoner” or “Satanic”. Three-guitar crunch with screamed vocals that sounds like the guys in Cleveland knuckledragger metal outfit Boulder attempting to write and play in a NWOBHM style. I just saw this band live and they set up nearly five full stacks into the back dining room of a Polish bar. The place was barely left standing upon the end of their set. With attitude, chops and seemingly effortless metallic abilities, these guys are at the top of the pile of bands in their weight class. 12” version of this EP comes with a super-sweet pentagram etching on the B-side; first 150 copies are on red and black camo vinyl. Saviours are currently making their way across the US on tour; you would do well to see them.
Got a single from these LA squat-warriors that sounded a bit off (Silver Daggers/Blue Silk Sutures split 7”, reviewed in the last Still Single), then a lengthy letter and a CD-R by the band explaining that said release was mastered at an indeterminate speed. This record here rights all of those wrongs and then some. Here’s a group that delivers largely on the promise that their words, image, and hangout (The Smell, right off of Skid Row) foretell. Attack skronk no-wavey prog jazz agitprop indictments on society, corporations, the environment and capitalism, set to grinding, atonal music you can’t dance to so much as seize up over. Vocals are either laid down by a woman or a kid who hasn’t reached puberty yet. Sax, bass, keyboards and drums lock in on each other in a struggle to sand off each other’s fingerprints. Blue marble vinyl, packaged in a hand-stitched silkscreened booklet.
Four cuts from said ‘80s Brazilian post punk compilation, remixed and re-edited by names such as Munk, Tim “Love” Lee, the Glimmers, and Marco. Out of all of them, only the Glimmers’ version of “Agentes” by Agentss (way to confuse names!) seems to make a stab at modernizing the sound of the collection’s offerings, with their deep liquid chill remix, incorporating the vocals and some percussion from the original and seemingly little else. The remaining three tracks leave the intriguing, Factory Benelux dark new wave freeze intact, with the Munk and Tim “Love” Lee offerings being reminiscent of some lost early Crispy Ambulance or Section 25 recordings. Quite nice indeed.
Minimal packaging for this track reveals little more than a question mark, the title (sans mix demarcation) and two URLs in the runout grooves that all but tell you who you’ll be listening to. It’s one track in two parts, interrupted by brief spoken introductions. The track is pretty much as advertised; it’s meant to be a club anthem (of what I have no idea) but it’s loaded from nose to nuts with incipient and crashy breaks from Mr. Raczynski’s long-suffering PC beatbox, and Ms. Gudmundsdottir-Barney’s vocals doing what you’d expect. This track sounds like it should have come out in 1997, and that might be the case – seems that Rephlex had to wait a while for the rights to be able to release this one. It’s nice, but unless you’re a diehard Bjork fan or have all of Raczynski’s tracks already, it’s hardly essential. It does come on some cool black/clear split vinyl, though.
Haven’t caught up with Windsor for the Derby in some time, so consider this virgin terrain for me. If you took the dope out of Sonic Boom’s Spectrum LP and laid some production down in there, you’d have something as pleasing as this mix of “Empathy for People Unknown,” helped significantly by Odd Nosdam’s slow but very suitable beats and hanging haze of organ and slide guitar mixing. It’s a nice track and the more I listen to it, the more I find value in folks who, though inadvertently, are taking the Postal Service formula of fragile boy lyrics and depressed G4’s and making them work to not pull on your little emo heartstrings so obviously. way. The cover of the Swell Maps’ “Gunboats” included here is miles away from the original (perhaps influenced as some sort of tie-in with Secretly Canadian’s reissues of all things Nikki Sudden, to the effect that was had when characters from “Empty Nest” made guest appearances on “The Golden Girls”). Still, there’s value here in his extended, floating, positively haunted workout of the track, disappearing in portamento drone and dirge.
By Doug Mosurock