Still Single Vol. 2 No. 3
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 20th 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 first week of every month on Dusted (give or take). Its success depends on you sending in singles for review.
Please continue to send awesome records to Still Single, regardless of the genre. If it’s good, we can recognize it.
We got an all-time-low number of submissions this month. People, step it up. I can only buy so many singles.
Mopey, fey NYC jangle twofer from Arbor Day, who can manage a decent Teenage Fanclub riff in “This Misery” and a decent, countrified lope in “Drive into the Fire.” Hard to say anything mean about this, though; the songs are pleasant enough, though maybe not as immediate as to have pressed them onto a medium where they will be all but lost in a sea of genre bands and limited pressings. Too nice for vinyl, maybe!
Army of Jesus - “By the Deed” + 4 7” EP
Texan hardcore inspired by Agent Orange, with some throaty vocals, clean breakdowns, and some really fluxy, mid-range digital mixing/mastering that kind of diminishes its power. Since they’ve broken up, I’m pretty sure at least one band member would agree with me, though I gotta hand it to the singer for his blistering yell.
Bird by Snow - Industrial Collapse 7”
Bird by Snow's debut album was a wacky freak-folk affair, with too much genteel James Taylor posturepedia for my liking.. But this single finds our man by the sea drifting out into weird waves of lost, waterlogged, Muppety nights of the soul. “No Beard Now” shakes itself to pieces on an aggro electro-blues noise sesh, while “Chew Your Fucking Leg Off (If You Have To)” channels Alastair Galbraith by way of a hemp bracelet and a votive candle; frigidly warming slow folk-psych tumble. The only thing still a barrier of entry is dude’s voice, which is milky and comes from the back of the throat, where only shame can reside. Numbered edition of 300, in a handmade sleeve.
Black Lips - Party at Rob’s House 7” EP
Live three-tracker from everybody’s favorite Atlanta destroyer of venues and such. Haven’t checked in with these kids since their first few singles, which did not impress too terribly hard, but the stompin’ early ‘64 vibe at play here is both surprisingly surfy and subsequently atonal, and quite a welcome respite from the strictures of lo-fi garage noise. “Oh Katrina” builds into a tsunami of torment and regretful moaning, atop stiff white peaks of distorto guitar crunch. A cover of Link Wray’s “Five and Ten” is the best thing here, and the finest example of frat-rock I’ve heard this side of re-watching “Animal House” last weekend. Besides, real frat boys suck. No distortion, a princely jangle about, and what sounds like a great time being had at said house party. Outta print already, so check your last resort spots.
Brutal Knights - Terrible Evenings 7” EP
First single by these craaaazy Canadians (on Deranged) was suitable enough, but didn’t prepare me – or anyone else, apparently – for the throatpunch of these five new tracks, bursting at the seams with saturated, spaceless fast rock/metal slashings. What could have sounded like a decent Motorhead jag instead comes off at beyond-and-back speed-garage insanity. Songs here are about bad times, pizza, stealing rides, and a fucking GG Allin cover. Ex-members of Hacksaw and Rammer; the album is just around the corner, and this thing burnt off my epidermis. Goddammit. So good. Pressing info at the link below.
caUSE co-MOTION! - “Which Way is Up?” b/w “Falling Again”
One of the most consistently well-reviewed bands/labels of this endeavor thus far, What’s Your Rupture’s local flagship, the caUSE co-MOTION!, bring you nearly four minutes more music. These songs are indeed interchangeable with most causeCO, which is to say it’s a bobbysoxxed Josef K, spindizzy with joy and hope for love. Teen dance music in full colour, despite a lack of low-end sonics; both are prime examples of wonderously cute ‘n’ cuddly bedroom pop with bite. This one comes wrapped in a six-panel, comic-book bespeckled poster sleeve and it’s all the more reason to want your own. Ker-smash my eye, will an album never surface?
Chandeliers - Circulation 7” EP
Chicago electronix quintet makes the mistake of substituting artifice and technology for innovation, as several others have. It takes them about two tracks of jumbled runs through goopy analog (or at least well-maintained soft synths) to take enough of a breather that their Bell Labs test record can settle into a respectable, albeit twerpy, nite rhythm disko. That happens on the B-side, “Body Double,” swapping out Patrick Bateman for Craig Wasson inna dorktronica stylee. It’s hard to come to grips with the confusion on the A-side, but if settling into a known quantity is gonna be what it takes to help this group through, then maybe they oughta stay out of international waters until they can swim the channel. Sounds like their next one might be pretty dece, though. They have the parts, and just need to organize them more cogently.
The Dan Bensons Project - So Lovely 12” EP
Hopped up Caucasian techno-fonk, the product of two legitimately down but very pale-sounding dudes, Boston’s Dan Paluska and Ben Recht (both patron saints of that city’s electronic scene). All three tracks hustle the way you’d need them to, even the more mellow “People Tell Me.” In a post-LCD universe, these guys present the sort of thing you’d expect to hear: something a bit housier, with obvious production flourishes, sheltering a wild-haired Jon Spencer type howlin’ on vocals, mostly about women. These tracks will get you there, and are to be dropped right before the dance floor peaks. Fun stuff.
Danava - “Quiet Babies Astray in a Manger” one-sided 12”
Early efforts from this Portland space/doom/metal hybrid quartet – especially given an association with Glass Candy – had this reporter shaking his head, until live documentation brought out the beast behind the dreamcatchers and bad hair: an exceedingly strong, spine-draining set of loud, dramatic, hard rock that builds a bomb where Hawkwind is the fuse, Iron Maiden is the flame, Black Sabbath the powder, and old sci-fi rockets the casing. Add some mournful touches of Italian synth soundtrackery and you end up with this one-sided monster, over 12 minutes in length but bowing out of the rock quotient about halfway through to keyboard elegies. Rest assured, these boys know how to rock with a fierceness and a precision usually reserved for dudes who might spend less time in front of the mirror, but their super-fast chromatic scale ascents and descents are duly noted and well appreciated. Tour-only edition of 500 copies on etched gold vinyl in a disco sleeve. Jeff from Kemado promises the album will be five songs in 65 minutes. I am so there.
The Dicks - Hog 7”
Here’s two 1980 demos of “Pigs Run Wild” and “Hate the Police” by the recently-reunited Dicks. Just as Gary Floyd and co. couldn’t be more vital than ever, the times call on them to come back, and they did not disappoint live. Took this single home as a souvenir and I can’t stop jammin’ it: “Pigs” is a tinny dirge that is Texas’ answer to Wire’s “Reuters,” angrily debating the value of life against those who won’t be punished for their crimes. “Hate the Police” most of you know from Mudhoney’s cover; its seething fury here makes it feel like a protest song, which I suppose it is, but its blatant telling of hypocrisy as bitter irony marked a cutting high in punk rock in its own day, and even more so now. Glad to have them back, don’t hide your hate but show them some love. Various colors of pressing; mine is a numbered tour edition of 100 on blue, clear, and red splatter vinyl, and no, you can’t have it
Government Warning - No Way Out 7” EP
New-ish Richmond punx who are tearin’ up the scene (this jammy is now in its 5th pressing or something, and the LP is just out on Feral Ward). I close my eyes with this on and I see the scene of the Adolescents playing “Word Attack” in the American Hardcore movie in my head. Shouty, blazing, stop-on-a-dime, tongue somewhat-in-cheek, and extremely pissed off, these guys got every detail of 1982 down, cold – even the monochrome, hand-designed sleeve with the Letraset saved up for a rainy day. Incredibly fun, frantic HC; stop pissing around and get your hands on it. Just toured w/ Career Suicide and Wasted Time. Yeah, I missed it.
Holy Shit! - Jazz Phase 7” EP
Not the Ariel Pink Holy Shit – I think this one came first, hence the ! – so all you outie rock panty bunchers can breathe easily. No, this band is worth listening to: they’re from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and that jazz phase ain’t much of a joke either, as the dudes cram in 10 songs of shook, panicked, all-over-the-place core with precision and utter rage. Sounds like Sam McPheeters down in the basement forcing latter-day Flag and Burrega!-era Fat Day to have puppies, by any means necessary. Fairly gritty recording takes the edge off the instrumentals, but puts a red-lining emphasis on the shuddering, shaking projection of the vocals. Heavy, thrashy, full of ideas, and running on fart fumes. You love it. Me too! Buy one soon, there can’t be many left.
Honor Role - 1982 7” EP
Richmond punks in Government Warning take the time to reissue the first recordings of hometown anti-heroes Honor Role’s first tape. Yeah, that Honor Role, pre-Bob Schick compression/depression rock, with breadwinning gay metal warrior Pen Rollings rushing the vocals and riffing hard. Nine tracks in all, from their ‘82 split cassette with Graven Image, even predating the It Bled Like a Stuck Pig EP. Racing hardcore, rolling out at FU’s speed and with all the teenage zit-poppin’ angst you could ever hope for. Fast like Void but about half as threatening; more fun and pissed off than nihilistic (“I’m a Nerd,” “Bowling for Bibles”). Keep the reissue train rolling, dudes.
Los Iniciados - La Marca de Anubis 7” EP
Minimal synth aficionados, lookayonder: here are some cassette-only tracks culled from this Spanish music/theater troupe, circa 1981. A side project from the group El Aviador Dro, this falls in line with the somewhat humorous, yet deadly serious, pinched, primitive vibe of many of their sonic brethren; music that could have survived in the 2-D piece of the Phantom Zone that once contained General Zod. Monophonic in delivery, each synthesizer squeals and is pounded to its limit as its performers look down in stark seriousness. How can you not love this genre? One of its followers paid over $500 for my Cardboards 12”! I could kiss you! Then I’d get makeup all over me. Anyway, side B wins out for its blazing “Peter Pan” and its sinuous “Soy El Vacio,” both examples of excitement within the genre. This reissue is numbered edition on lavender marbled vinyl. Pressing unknown, but it’s probably 500 or less. Costly, too.
Insect Warfare - Endless Execution Thru Violent Restitution 7” EP
This one came up in the review pile right after the caUSE co-MOTION! single, and no two records this month could have been any different; Houston’s Insect Warfare pulling its engine and throttle to start and letting for a Texas chainsaw massacre put to wax, endlessly brutal, precise, room-filling and gut-churning. Sick, disgusting, mechanical grind where the death metal vocals actually get excited instead of just keeping time. The musicianship here is so ridiculously fast and technical, and with so much raggedy low-end, you won’t believe there’s no bass player. Great comic book cover art features thousands of dickheads lining up to get sawed in half by a big monster wielding a chainsaw (including R2D2 wearing a “Vinyl Sucks” bumper sticker, dude in a Locust shirt, dude in a Relapse shirt, Pac-Man, and other nameless victims). Like if you crossed Gorguts with Iron Lung; relentless and extremely satisfying, the heaviest thrash I’ve heard in forever. This is their second single. Both are only available to non-poseurs who mosh hard and cut the sleeves off of every shirt they own.
Look Back and Laugh - Street Terrorism 7” EP
Ex-Talk is Poison folks Look Back and Laugh, with a couple records already out on Lengua Armada, are poised to become the American underground’s most significant political hardcore band. Bracingly fast, pissed off as all get-out, but with some satisfying, near-AOR ‘80s metal breakdowns (such as at the end of “Step Forward”) to temper the anger and velocity trapped within. Ready to fight and tear down the system that punishes the powerless, LBAL play it like they mean it, which is just about all one can ask for in a country that smells as much like pork as it must to them.
Jack Oblivian - “Black Boots” b/w “John Holmes Blues” 7”
Jack O. brings it back, glam-via-soul searchin’ with “Black Boots” – a killer single in every right. Backed by Mark Sultan (BBQ) on drums, the two chug through this majestically melodic proto-garage number that would have also felt at home in the hands of the Cars, the Raspberries, T. Rex, and so many other luminaries. “John Holmes Blues” verges back into the swampy, sloshy territory you’d expect, and as such is a bit less memorable, but man, “Black Boots” – killer tune, worth price of admission and then some.
Russian Circles - “Upper Ninety” b/w “Re-Enter” 7”
Chicago post-rock instrumental power trio hands off to Sue Squeeze (send us records, I’m not buying any more! – dm) with two exclusive tracks, lacking some of the gloss of their Flameshovel album but making up for it with road-hardened strength. There’s enough narrative structure within the pathos pouring of these songs like sweat to distance them from the onslaught of parts ‘n’ parts instrumental men who can’t express their feelings with words. Actually “Re-Enter” is a total tease, but “Upper Ninety” is decent enough to lift weights to, for respect. Edition of 2000 on marbled puke-colored vinyl.
Sharp Like Knives - “We All Lie for a Living” b/w “Take Notes!” 7”
Dance-punk (their words, not mine … ugh … that word!) from Canadian kids doing disco bids. I’m ready to break just about anyone’s hi-hat who attempts that beat one more time, but there’s a bit of breaking-ball, left-bent punk action here that reminds me of the better parts of the (International) Noise Conspiracy more than any thing like, say, Q and Not U or Radio 4. “We All Lie” is an exciting enough choon, and screams along with energy if not much direction. “Take Notes!” snaps off more brittle guitar and ugh, that churning beat, buyt OK, they get a pass. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, anyone who wants us to dance, leave the fucking hi-hat alone. You’ve got a very tired man at his rope’s end. Find a new beat, go listen to some techno and work some of that shit out. Edition of 300, marbled orange vinyl, and another nice silkscreened sleeve lead me to believe that the folks at Black Mountain Music at least care about what they’re doing.
Sianspheric - I Wouldn’t Expect You to Understand 7” EP
Out of retirement and currently backing Swervedriver’s Adam Franklin, Toronto’s SIANspheric is still the post-shoegazer’s shoegazer band of choice, blowing in with a short, thick stain of a title track on this, their first-ever piece of vinyl. Also included are a tossed-off snippet called “Every Night” and an acoustic B-side, the gently rolling and atmospheric “Knowing Where You Are.” No faults here, though these all feel like parts of songs rather than songs themselves; if anything, this is the mark of a group just getting back on its feet after some apparently bumpy road, and it’d be chill to welcome them back. Edition of 300 on white vinyl in a very beautiful, psychedelic silkscreened sleeve (tho’ I wouldn’t exect anyone to understand why there’s an inky va-jay-jay on there).
Viva l’American Death Ray Music - Bombs 7” EP
First release in quite some time by Mssr. Nicholas Ray, seemingly now of NYC and the First Twilight Congress. V’lADRM crashed some shows up here a few years back, and they were so good I bought the records without hesitation; showing a sophistication and a love of the grease-and-grit that makes rock and roll real, the kind of band that could have made the original Strokes pull their junk inside like turtles, afraid of the male threat nearby. No idea if the Death Ray still shakes, but these songs sound like they’d fit in somewhere in between Roxy Music, Television, and Dramarama. “Bombs” is clearly the big hit here, all repeating, shredding, howling chords of mayhem, marching out of glam and into pomp by way of Southern crawdaddy rock. What a magnificent bastard of a song. Jesus, I’m floored. Not as concerned with the B-side’s “Zero Panik” (a tepidly muzzy Mark E. Smith ripoff), nor “Dub” (dub, a bad call), but sometimes that’s what B-sides are for.
Voice of the Seven Woods - “The Firefly Dusk” b/w “Winter’s Temper” 7”
Second single from Rick Tomlinson and co. (here being ex-Broadcast drummer Chris Walmsley and bassist Paul Blakesley), earning a welcome stay at the Votel motel. “The Firefly Dusk” adds somewhat brooding vocals to the acoustic, well-balanced mix of Eastern twinge and Western lament, sounding like Radiohead lost in the woods, but with more desperation behind it. Vocals are gone for the superior “Winter’s Temper,” with Walmsley really just adding copper color to Tomlinson’s adept, finger-picked, all-over-the-fretboard style, as clusters of notes roll forth and echo out like some lost Flying Saucer Attack-with-lessons type screed. Beautiful, beautiful straight-up folk rock by a guy who can play circles around Wooden Wand and many others. Edition of 500 and it’s an import. The label’s run out. Search wisely.
Wolf Eyes - “The Driller” b/w “Psychogeist” 12”
Under the auspices of ominous electronic drones (think Zombi in its first 30 seconds), Wolf Eyes takes another big juicy sonic dump all over the floor on “The Driller,” inviting mom, dad, the brother and sister, grandma and the dog to go rolling around in it. Dad takes a mouthful of his son’s shit and spits it into his wife’s mouth, who then frenches Grandma, who has her whole bony hand up the son’s ass. She’s massaging his prostate vigorously when one of her knuckles breaks free of her wrinkled skin and pierces her grandson through the rectal wall. He shoots blood all over his sister, who is busy fellating the dog and rubbing herself out, then the whole family ejaculates at once (including the women), then they all stand up and take a bow. Seriously, what the fuck do you expect me to write about Wolf Eyes? There’s no reasonable ways left to say “bludgeoning” so they might as well rename themselves The Aristocrats and go inform their booking agent. “Psychogeist” is a minimal synth/ominous drone piece that sounds like Fabio Frizzi driving a tugboat aground. There, was that any better?
Wooden Shjips - “Dance, California” b/w “Clouds Over Earthquake” 7”
These guys gave away the best free record of last year, so you should probably pay for this, its rightful followup. Very much of a piece with their 10”, right down to the minimal/no packaging vibe (just a clear vinyl record in a clear plastic sleeve). “Dance, California” locks onto a three-note, twangy, nuclear beach groove and hangs out there for the duration, guitar slashery (in the single-note sweepstakes for a good long while) shooting over the top like artillery fire. On the other side, an atmospheric, slow drone and steady pulse frame blistery lead and – what’s that, vocals? Oh, so nice, and sounding more like the new incarnation of F/i with each listen. Edition of 500, and it sure won’t last.
Various Artists - Musick 10 12” EP
Selektion nummer zehn in the DJ-curated Musick series is a clearinghouse of three tracks, each of separate yet equal worth. Elastic Heads (a duo of Andreas Stobernack and Trike) own the A-side with the minimal beater “Heat,” staying within an octave’s range and gets nicely rebound-ish towards the end, with the bass line bouncing off of itself and vague public service announcements rolling atop. Some nice squelchy loops follow in the dead wax. The flipside is home to DJ Fenin’s “Baila Redux,” part Ibiza crowd mover and part experimentally violent synth/vocoded bleep whiplash, and Fenin’s “Batteria,” which isn’t as percussive as one might think but rather occupies a watery headspace into subdub bass space and wavering synth leads. Quite alright, this, but maybe a bit too basic.
By Doug Mosurock