Sill Single: Vol. 2, No. 10
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.
OK, so there are some obvious omissions here, mainly the LPs. They will run next month. I’m leaving for tour in a few days and just ran out of time. They’re good, you can wait. But go get the Der TPK (Teenage Panzerkorps) album on Siltbreeze right now. That one won’t wait.
Click.Pause.Nothing 7” EP
A jarring electronic outfit sent back from the ‘90s to get in your face today. Clearly Aphex Twin is a milestone for this music, all buzzing/crashing/stressful electro breaks, with jungle’s energy and all the focus of an autistic child with ADHD. “The Flickering Torch” sounds like some sort of simple deep house track that Chris Morris made a spastic parody out of, while “Break Failure” is a bit more satisfying, slow electro crunch that’s a bit off-kilter and industrial-rooted. It’s not too terribly complex to follow, nor is it all that interesting, but there’s a couple of ideas in here worth pursuing, though not on such an elementary level that they’re represented with here. IDM died, nobody told these folks, joke’s on all of us. 500 copies.
“Axiologue” b/w “Thermidor One Five” 7” picture disk
Only discovered Aufgehoben recently but they have become one of the only bands in my personal universe that truly intrigues. I went through my noise phase and my free jazz phase and I carried away remnants of them all – still enjoy both to some degree – but always wondered how a band could ably take elements of both and play them against somewhat of a free rock background; an outfit that was very sonically conscious in that they knew how to achieve the sounds they heard in their own heads, with the technology and the means to employ it that would allow the artists to process these elements into distinct, organic pieces. One listen to Aufgehoben’s album Messidor confirmed what I had long hoped for, and this new single elaborates on those ideas. Electric guitar, electronics and two drum kits are assembled, ripped apart, layered, timecoded, and reconstituted so that instrumental passages surge into noise breaks and run out on a cymbal crash, that guitar strings are amplified until they play like wet towels being wrung out, where volume is just as hey to the whole package as performance (and don’t be fooled, Aufgehoben can be mannered but are also LOUD). Pierces the mind and twists. Don’t miss it. Edition of 524 copies, on an abstract-looking picture disk, housed in an all-black jacket with vinyl sticker. Best thing I’ve heard this year.
Awesome Cool Dudes
Disco Trees in the Breeze 7”
This came along with my subscription tape for the Sheets of Easter cassette box, along with a CD by these guys. I was nonplussed by the disc, but this later single shows some leaps and bounds in quality control and songwriting. Very complex melodies and harmonies for what essentially comes off as indie pop disco, which is really the most frustrating thing here – irony looms large and insincere, and threatens to curb these two tracks. “Larry Bird Highlight Reel” is the breezy, New Romantic A-side, talkin’ some trash about how rock and roll will save your life while remaining completely out of the genre’s charms. Sentiments aside, there are some promising moments in here, with strong synth-string arrangements. The flip side, “Dorm Room Disco Fantasy,” is even worse on the lyrical front and has one of those terrible syncopated post-punk bass lines in the chorus … but seriously one of the BEST hooks in anything I’ve heard in a while. It’s so good I have to wonder if it’s stolen. It’s the flute/glockenspiel part and when you hear it you will understand. Straight out of “Sesame Street” and pretty much hard rulin’ but the rest of the song is undeniably a product of kids born in the ‘80s who want to play dress-up. I’m torn. I haven’t had to deal with a band whose songs could be so great and so corny at the same time. I’m hoping that what’s going on here is a progression towards awesome and cool music, sans the irritating, non-humorous “dude”-isms (leave ‘em to Ween, guys) that otherwise flush these notions away. Anyway, this comes in a silkscreened cloth sleeve which looks kind of nice.
“Stuck on Blue” b/w “Boys Talk” 7”
Single #2 from this hot NYC power pop outfit. Guys drool, girls get jealous. I saw it go down last night when they opened for Fucked Up. Pitch-perfect, very cool tracks here, ready for the Sunset Strip in 1979 but present-day Brooklyn will have to do. Pro vibes here, not amateur hour – which will surely bum out some looking for the Brentwoods instead of the Donnas, but what are you gonna do. A fun time.
… So I Must Take From the Earth 2x7” EP
Bone Awl are a few dudes from Dirt Road, California and they have record collectors donating blood and sperm in order to have cash at the ready whenever another micro-edition of their product becomes available. Cassettes, picture disk LPs, and singles come and go in ridiculously small quantities to the kind of guys who sell before they buy. I walked out on them at No Fun Fest for some brief respite from the clutch of pudgy, pimply, sweaty dudes trying to get a taste. What did I miss? Since this record was available, I went for it out of sheer curiosity. People describe them as black metal but aside from the whole vocal-mic-plugged-into-the-video-jack sort of obfuscation of any sort of recognizable timbre, they sound to me like really primitive, low-skill punk rock chug, able to keep a beat and hammer one riff out over and over, which in their case is sort of entertaining. It sounds like angry dockworker music and the songs bleed together out of some simplistic need to belong to one another, if not to anyone or anything else. Some respite on side C when the guitars drop out and vocals cut down to a whisper, but for the most part it’s all the same, all the time. Only side D breaks rank with a true BM drum pummel, and an oily, tar-like visage creeps through. I get why this is the new band for men, but it’s going to take a lot longer for me to accept why, and I’m not at this point very willing to make the investment. Enjoy paying $14-16 for this (if you can find it).
s/t 7” EP
Vinyl pressing of a demo cassette by this Boston-area powerviolence outfit. Supposedly this release is meant to tide us over until the band reconvenes, which can’t come soon enough. This is a very promising debut, laying out My War side two riffs that start with a blast and get slower, leaving barely any room for breath. Vocals growl and torment, drums thud with dulled, restless vigor as riffs grind to a halt, then snap back to life. Great for weightlifting, hard labor, or watching buildings get demolished. Outdoes the Scapegoat 7” that Painkiller put out by a slight margin. Surprising Circle Jerks cover, done in their style, points towards a melodic direction that their oppressive sound could leverage. Truly evil-sounding and a must-have. Edition of 544 and dwindling.
Jar 7” EP
Daniel DiMaggio (Home Blitz) comes back with another project, this one a more personal, fragmented sounding lo-fi breakdown, the kind of thing that might have lived on Shrimper or Imp Records back in the day. Equates “personal” with “damaged” – only the mere suggestion of songs leaks out of the sides here, an otherwise congested outpouring of barely intelligible vocalizing, triumphantly bare guitar, shambling percussion, microphonic feedback and handbrakes on the tape. Like a one-way conversation with Nell (hay hay chicka pay) if she’d learned how to talk from listening to the second Pavement EP. So emo that it eats the crayons used to write the lyrics, and cries big salty tears, raw umber stuck in its teeth. A strange one, for the few. Edition of 300.
They Are the Enemy 12” EP
Expanded edition of Cider’s 7” EP from 2004, pressed here on a 45 RPM 12” for maximum power, and including one live track and three demos from 1996. It’s angry, buzzsaw punk rock, white-knuckled and approximating an amusing Cockney feel to it. Someone else will be more qualified to tell the whole story of Cleveland hardcore from the last ten to fifteen years, but suffice to say it’s pissed off down to its platelets, violent, aggressive, and a bracing antidote to all the dipshits I’ve ever known from that particular town. And I know enough not to talk any more about it, because I wasn’t there. If you weren’t I’d suggest you follow suit. If you want to feel like you’re on the outside looking in, might I recommend this one and the Inmates LP, anything by 9 Shocks Terror, the H-100’s or Upstab. Pressing info at the URL below.
split 7” EP
(Sarah Mason’s Medical)
Cococoma continues on their muddy, raucous trajectory with one more track of heavy garage pound, with organ in place of the bass. “Turn That Volume Down” seems more like a throwaway than their earlier releases; not much to be done about that, really. Probably the last of the tracks they recorded initially, and it feels that way, a set ender with a big tempo drop and adequate “Shout” buildup back to the beat. If you wanna start with these guys, I’d suggest their Shit Sandwich single or their split w/ Mans. Turpentine brothers are from Boston, feature a member of Mr. Airplane Man, and pretty much do what you’d expect, kind of a mid-tempo stab at some pretty average garage rock. Nothing really standing out here, outside of a decent recording and sufficiently dirty sound. Blue vinyl.
Crabapples for Change 7” EP
Crabapples came and went through the Bay Area pop scene with polite vocals, stinging guitars, and rampant energy, all qualities not lost on this reviewer. Their take on a sunny day’s play is a fun, pleasant and often rambunctious spin into a history of indie pop that’s more often than not overlooked in favor of music perceived as being more “real.” There’s quite a bit in common here with the Submarine Races single (reviewed below) and though this band is no more, they are certainly worth the time of those whose innocence hasn’t totally burned out. Blue vinyl in a stamped sleeve.
“Neutron Dracula” b/w “Black Beam Dub” 7”
(Black Velvet Fuckere)
Wacky, old-timey jazz-spook-cabaret action with improvisational tendencies. It carries a sledgehammer, and wields it with as much grace as you’d expect. Music this organized and calculated, coming from punk roots as this does (members of Sapat, Evergreen and many others) needs that sledgehammer to remind itself that it is not locked inside of some airless, staunch conservatory, and once you hear this you’ll likely agree with that remark. “Neutron Dracula” falls loose from the Danny Elfman songbook, mayhaps, jaunting about darkly with a nice whomp in the bridge. “Black Beam Dub” is a much freer affair, a sinister, reverberating feeling of dread oozing beneath much percussive clatter and reed-based antagonism before finally succumbing to that which lies beneath. As amusing free-jazz efforts go, it ain’t particularly lacking. First release in 13 years for this outfit and perhaps the time to ferment was in their favor. Edition of 350.
Blackout at Sunrise 7” picture disk EP
Fronted by Chris Colohan (the Swarm/Left for Dead), Cursed is so architecturally loud, so loaded with death metal tricks applied to a more primal but no less sinister brand of crunch, that they leave so many metal/hardcore crossovers mewling in their own moist, cupped hands. It's a wonder why others even bother, and a definite signifier that so many have grown beards and gone "stoner" after seeing Mastodon move thousands in cash off their merch table each night. I have to applaud Cursed's gumption; as the competition falls away, they only get stronger. The first time I saw them, they played until they knocked out the power in the basement of Northsix a good three or four times during their set before giving up altogether. Not that they weren't trying – three full stacks and a 8x10 bass cabinet running through two wall outlets loaded down with power strips will do that – but it was the gesture, the simple notion that they could, and therefore should be as loud as anyone could tolerate in 400 square feet of low-ceilinged, moldy misery. These are new recordings, at least one of which is destined for the band's third album. Title track is a mid-tempo lacerator, the kind of soundtrack to brutality that makes sense in the times before you became sensitized to actual death and its impact, as opposed to its solipsistic, slasher film counterpart, like a slo-mo plume of gore flying into the blue sky. Its droning, dense base rhythm surges and recedes with a menacing ardor that matches all of the band's previous feats. The EP finishes with a cover of "Hawaii" by the Kittens, an extremely heavy and abrasive '90s outfit that sounds like telephone poles being sawed in half; they step up an already heavy song to Integrity-esque levels of punishment. If you have to start somewhere with these guys, here's a cold and unforgiving place to do so. I've put up with some truly awful bands to see these guys play, and each time it's been worth it for me and the handful of stalwarts who stick it out for them. Recognition is required. Edition of 500 in a handsome picture disk.
Tall Tales I 7” EP
Mashing velocity with busy riffage and harsh vocals, Dustheads call to mind the sort of bands that followed hardcore with something both more metallic and melodic. It’s hard not to listen to this and think of the first Bullet Lavolta EP, but there you have it. Fierce, avid and promising noise, with a solid recording and volume that made the needle jump out of the grooves on first listen. I was all set to go see these Brooklyn kids play a loft show this afternoon, but duty (to you) prevailed. I’m starting to regret it and wish to see them as soon as I can. Exciting stuff. Edition of 500 on white vinyl; part II coming really soon.
Sonic Prayer Jam 10” EP
Stopgap release in between Earthless’s Gravity LP and their forthcoming Tee Pee release Rhythms from a Country Sky, recorded live in San Diego. Held firmly in place by swinging mofo drummer Mario Rubalcaba (ex-Clikatat/Sea of Tombs/Hot Snakes), Sonic Prayer Jam fills out two sides of a big ten inch rec and definitely projects a hot, high, out of control vibe that’s not entirely present on their studio works – riding out a reductive riff with panache and grit that wasn’t entirely present in past efforts, and also thankfully sidesteps any sort of “Whipping Post” tendencies that they’ve born out. Cyclical, saturated hard rock jamming with a noticeable blues undercurrent, but nothing that detracts from the overall excessive, immersive experience. It’s their best release out of the three, could have been made in 1969 and nobody would know the wiser. Give it up for Isaiah Mitchell on guitar. Green vinyl on my copy. Mind = blown.
Fear of Flying
“Three’s a Crowd” b/w “Forget-Me-Nots” 7”
(Young and Lost Club)
Fast, glossy dance rock owing a pretty sizeable debt to Bloc Party and other yobs of their ilk. I have to applaud the speed at play here, as I do with said band, the Futureheads, or Arctic Monkeys; it’s a crapshoot musically, though, nothing you haven’t heard before if you know any of these bands. I have to wonder if they get embarrassed at what they’re doing. They’re like those impostor fragrances that get sold at K-Mart. Green vinyl, mine is warped almost to unplayable levels, but I got the picture. Hope you guys are getting it wet at least, because I see no other reason for you to exist as a band.
Off Sides 7”
Sleater-Kinney rips without the songs to really back up such a claim. You’d think they’d wait until that band’s corpse was maybe cold for a few years. 500 copies on clear vinyl, with an album forthcoming (whew).
Four Days to Burn
“Lieutenant” b/w “Casino Bitch” 7”
Heavy sludge with dominating riffs from this Fort Worth, TX combo with a congealed, overpowering stance and a recording with enough headroom to scrape all of the elements within and spackle them across your turntable. Two vocalists, one of which has that cat-being-crushed-under-a-tire timbre that I favor when it comes to slow, pressurized fare such as this. Somewhat like Eyehategod dipped in BBQ sauce. You wouldn’t want to eat it, but you wouldn’t be able to stop staring at it and you’d probably drag people away from whatever it was they were doing to come take a look at it. 500 black, 500 clear. A very solid debut effort.
Gastr del Sol
20 Songs Less 7”
Reissue of Gastr del Sol’s farewell early ‘90s recording for Teenbeat, before they began a sharp ascent into avant-garde quality with their Drag City material. A transitional release then and now, the two nameless sides toy with broken-beat/musique concrete notions that would later become commonplace all throughout electronic music, cut-up percussion and field recordings amidst avid acoustic strum. Assisted by Bundy Brown and John McEntire, the duo of Grubbs and O’Rourke close in on some brief but noteworthy ideas here, intellectualizing Swell Maps’ early home recordings with bespectacled seriousness. Not quite certain that we’re far enough away from the times to look back at this music with anything more than nostalgia on our minds, but here’s a repress anyway, edition of 500 on clear vinyl in a transparent sleeve. Will give you pause, if nothing more.
Gentleman Jesse & His Men
s/t 7” EP
Bright, full-sounding power-pop jangle, perfectly in tune with an underground skein obsessed with all things Nerves and the projects that followed, particularly Paul Collins’ Beat. Has that ‘50s, early rock starry-eyed heart-on-sleeve quality revered by everyone from Roky Erickson to the Strokes, and pretty much nails the sound, songs, and earnest demeanor, and like all great power-pop records, pretty much nails its own coffin shut with similarity to the best of the genre. To its credit, though, this is just about as good as it gets in 2007, Jesse Smith revealing himself to be a very adept, effective songwriter and magnetic frontman, his burnished, longing voice convincing himself he’s not in love. Band is tight as they can get without veering into punk rock terrain. My pick is the A-side, “I Don’t Wanna Know (Where You Been Tonight),” jukebox ready and oozing sincerity. An excellent example of an always enjoyable genre, forever frozen in a moment it can never live out on its own.
“Happy Matt” b/w “I Was a Boy” 7”
Such a slavish impression of the Who is not recommended, but the How from San Francisco attempt it anyway, with the whole falsetto vocal thing and riffs only slightly altered from Who records. Sounds like the kind of band that would play a mod night that is less than successful. I get the sense that this is just for fun (members play in Sic Alps and Boyracer, among others in a fairly storied history), and their energy is as sincere as their dingy little recording, but it is sort of frustrating to take the 6 or 7 minutes away from life to pay this too much attention. Wow, another label sending me their bad records first. This happens a bit too often. Guess I can say so long to Slumberland, huh. Red vinyl in a clear, silkscreened sleeve. Looks nice, at least.
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
“War” b/w “Mercury” 10”
Second single from this Chicago jazz outfit, favored by Gilles Peterson, performing at Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Academy of Music with Mos Def, blowing up Fashion Week … you get it. The eight-piece group are all brothers by blood, the sons of Phil Cohran, AACM founder, Arkestra member … you get it? Both cuts here shine with the overarching motivation of Archie Shepp’s big-band pieces for Impulse (think Things Have Got to Change, minus the clatter and with nothing but the sweet jazz-soul backbone intact), a deep and melancholy soul, and a sound of embattlement, power and struggle pulling through underneath. They have an innate sense of arrangement that keeps these songs in line with R&B from the ‘60s up through today, speaking in a language all their own but easily translatable outside the realm of jazz. It’s hard not to feel what they’re going for here. 2007 seems like their year to take off, so grab this one while you can; it’s righteous and strong in a way that no other record in this column can even touch.
“Portable Freak Factory” b/w “Can You See Me?” 7”
This group’s biggest fan came up to me the other week, ecstatic about the new single. I enjoyed the revamped Major Stars’ last two releases quite a bit, but I doubt even said fan would disagree with me that their earlier releases as a sextet were a bit sloppy, too concerned with dissonance rather than the sort of song-and-sound overhaul such a lineup change would have allowed them to accomplish. Waiting for this moment to come to fruition took some patience, but this new single heralds it with the sort of excessive, manic episode it truly deserves. Three world-class psychedelic guitarists (Wayne Rogers, Kate Biggar and Tom Leonard, all proven in their own right throughout the past 25 years) play together and it’s a joy to be able to hear them clearly in the mix, surging with a forthright intensity that gives each a clear moment in the blistering sun, avoiding any toe-stepping that might have otherwise dragged this back down into the murk. Vocalist Sandra Barrett belts with a hustling soul presence, imbued with a confidence missing from earlier efforts, and the rhythm section keeps everything down with a suggestion of gravity and the requisite chops, no further force required. “Portable Freak Factory” is Major Stars’ “Space Station #5,” the anthem we deserved from this incarnation, promises fulfilled. On the flip they cover Hendrix’s “Can You See Me?” – a suggestion that most stoneriffic bands have been wise to leave alone. But the Stars can play with dead Jimi’s dice; they pretty much own them here, all unruly triple-soloing and such a righteous, heavy, authoritative presence all throughout that you’ll likely never hear this one the same way again. Their best record yet – a teaser for their next album, which has the potential to end the now somewhat embarrassing trend of “heavy rock” once and for all. Edition of 500, of which 100 are on white vinyl.
Off With Their Heads
Hi Five for the Rapture 7” EP
Minneapolispunk rock trio, featuring Paddy from Dillinger Four. Three songs and you pretty much know how it goes down: gruff teddybear vocals, some cement-solid riffs, gang-style choruses. Gets anthemic on “The Beijing Cocktail’ just because it can. A fun if not crucial record made by people who like one another. No harm, no foul, but not of too much consequence, either. Sometimes fun is all it takes, even when it sounds a little bit tired. Perhaps the live venue is the more appropriate place for this band, or maybe a better recording.
“Is It Good? (Or Is It Bad?)” b/w “A Grand Vitesse” 7”
French femme garage rock with some fun, fruity synth presets warbling atop two well-presented tracks. Not entirely sold on this one, very much in line with the Baby Shakes single reviewed above but, well, French. The French seem to understand garage, and this is no different, but it’s sitting on the cusp between punk’s energy and new wave, which in this case sort of works as a crutch rather than a style. Didn’t Kickboy teach his people anything? Anyway, I’m more into the B-side for a nice descending chord progression at the end. First 100 on red/black splatter vinyl.
Out With a Bang
I’m Against It 7” EP
Reissue of an Italian band’s debut one-sided 12”, minus the Groucho Marx samples that originally held it together. Frantic, screaming-its-head-off poppy punk rock is what’s going down here, saturated and distorted to panic-stricken effect. It’s a fun, breakneck time, the band sounding like they’re about to push somebody down a flight of stairs, then accidentally falling themselves. Would probably be a great time live, with garish song titles and lyrical content (“Do What My Cock Says” and “Hurt Yourself” being two standouts).
split 12” EP
That new Panda Bear album Person Pitch really is something else, on a level a bit too easy to describe to those in the know (reminds me of the Jane records he made with Scott Mou, but on a more realized level rather than live practice space recordings). His side comes from the album, and I think there may be some additional beats added in, but he’s reclaiming this year as the Era of the Loop, and provides enough great material to begin and end this era on his own (watch the imitators come and go, it’ll be funny). The Brian Wilson influence is sort of a copout; that’s just how the guy’s voice sounds. There’s a LOT more going on in here than that, and depending on where your head’s at, you’ll hear it. I want to go to the islands and live like Robinson Crusoe after diving into this “Carrots” track. Excepter are Kings of the Splits lately; a sidelong live cough syrup collage is what you’re getting here. So much material. By the end I felt transfixed by the bass pulses. Edition of 1000, already sold out so hit the stores and get the last of them.
Beats of Mind 10” EP
The mind in question is lit up, the beats ranging from straight up noise to chilled out late ‘90s Mos Def ballcap-and-eyeglasses wearing steez to drowsy Moog waves and batucada action. I can tell you’re stoked but keep it in your pants for a moment. Deep and familiar all at once. Very familiar. We want new beats.
Kicking Against the Micks 7” EP
Irish no-wavery with loads of drums, trebly guitars and a charmed synthesizer lay temporary waste to an odd, unsettling bas-relief of noise and atmosphere. Skilled drumming is offset by heavy klingklang vibes (courtesy of a beaten milk churn) and sheets of wavering guitar, feedback and electronics pulsate underneath. One loud track called “Michael Caine” comes straight from the Japanese school of heavy groove-grunge (a la Captain Condoms or early Hanadensha, complete w/ affected noise underlays) and another lifts heavily from Crash Worship, but these guys are young and seemingly just learning how to deconstruct themselves into something that may or may not become their own. I applaud the effort and think that you’ll get your kicks out of this varied and uncompromised release. That their one-sheet claims their best moment as a band was opening for Les Georges Leningrad worries me, but they’ll likely snap out of it. Edition of 300.
Glimpse 7” EP
Six short, blissed-out hip-hop beats on one tiny single. Doesn’t have the sophistication or presence of the last lot to get away with this sort of thing (thinking of Mo’Wax in particular), but then again the technology to make such a record possible is now completely removed from the studio environment. Meaning anyone can get into the grind, and given that, this is pretty decent. Two of them come off with some fire underneath, while the other four plod onwards. This sort of thing, you have to be in the mood for it. I’m sitting here in my boxers eating Lucky Charms out of a huge bowl with a wooden spoon, and “The Price is Right” is on TV. Guess I’m in the mood, right?
Tania 7” EP
Better recording, tighter songs, less room for error. The new Sex Vid EP is here and after a few conflicted listens, it’s starting to make a lot more sense – chaotic hardcore that somehow distances itself from most modern comparisons. They have the speed, the rage, and the intensity required, but there’s something cold and rotting beneath the surface, giving these songs more depth and a clutching, evil feeling that many of their contemporaries lack. “Firm Grasp” is my favorite thing here, ridiculously fast and nearly falling over on itself, while “Misprint” has one of those two-chord Antioch Arrow-style spazzcore breakdowns that threatens to loose the entire record from its moorings. Title anthem “Tania” is very much ready to tear loose in the pit. Edition of 1000. First single is long gone, don’t be a fool and miss out on this one.
“O” 7” EP
I am pretty sure that my voice sounds different to me coming out of my head than it does to anyone who can hear it. I think I can do a pretty good Michael McDonald impression but others have told me otherwise. It’s strange, how the sound projected through one’s mouth is processed in between the ears. I am now curious how the artist known as Son (one Christopher Francis Schiel, remixer of Xiu Xiu and Grizzly Bear) perceives his own voice. He plays one-man electro-box jams that sound like the sort of repetitive, halting measures that form in one’s mind after sparking up, a music that may not have required escape from the circadian mantras locked inside the marijuanaut’s skull. Presented as they are in a hot, overdriven mix, these songs resonate (hah, resin) with the stutter of the altered, and make about as much sense, but work on their own lopsided logic. Too early to tell, but this single shows a promise, and an attendant difficulty that the artist needs to overcome. As it stands, these jams are nervous, paranoid, fried into the circuits, and easy to annoy yet hard to ignore. Much as I am repulsed, I’m curious to see where this is gonna lead. Edition of 500, as part of Tomlab’s Alphabet series in die-cut full-color stock sleeves.
D. Charles Speer
“Past or Beyond” b/w “Canaanite Builder” 7”
NYC country singer-songwriter here, with a deep, Hersheyfied quality about his voice, and a nice loping wander from his backing band, the Helix. He’s backed by some No Neck and Sunburned Hand of the Man men, and they forsake their inherent musical insanity streaks for a traditional walkabout through some of country’s deeper, darker recesses, with “Canaanite Builder” projecting some really dedicated 5 A.M. stumble by its second half. The songs seem to get more powerful towards their respective ends, Speer having built up enough steam to get these tracks pushed over the top. Play spot the influences with your musically educated friends, and you both win. Edition of 500 in a simple silkscreened sleeve.
Harry Smith one-sided 12”
Astral clatter, sweeping tones, rattling bells and chains, bowed metal and volume pedal wash get ectoplasm all over the inside of a room for a good 20 minute ghost sesh. Can’t tell you much about them, other than this sounds lost in the finest of ways, and was a real palate cleanser after writing up some 30 odd 7” singles. Definitely something I’m gonna keep on hand to get in “the zone.” One-sided 12” w/ artwork pasted to the back. 300 copies in a clear sleeve.
As I recently turned the odometer over on 30 years, I started to think back on my substance-free existence, one which ended with a six pack to the head freshman year of college. That night indeed became a bacchanal the likes of which never came so easily before, and though I’ve forgotten thousands of episodes between then and now, that first time, on the porch of an abandoned building on the campus of a nearby women’s college, stumbling through a hallway, watching eight classmates file out of a girl’s dorm room and then being pinned down by the lady in charge. I want those moments back, so I can reverse them and maintain control, a control which I gave up long ago. Can I go edge now and forget the mistakes of the ‘90s ever happened? Should I resign myself to a life of lifting weights and arching an eyebrow in judgment of those around me? Is it even a resignation at all? Can I get air like the singer of Step Forward? I’m stunned at the ability of people to cut things out of their life. I have spent the past 12 years doing exactly what I want. Is there harm in that sort of freedom? This is getting out of hand but there is clear vinyl for the first 100 or so copies of this one, and a riff slightly changed from a Minor Threat song. But the vocals have a lot of presence and the band is tight. I’m not. I feel like a bag of guts that just became sentient all of a sudden, with more questions than answers. Clarity is a real bitch sometimes. Pressing info at the URL below.
“Nighttime” b/w “Hotstepper” 7”
(Young and Lost Club)
Pretty longhairs from Brooklyn, mining the late ‘70s and early ‘80s AOR scene, starting with later Thin Lizzy/early Tom Petty, and cutting off around Billy Squier or Tommy Tutone (pre-synth, or at least manly and mysterious about their use). Raspy vocals and the sort of beer-bottle-clinking swagger you might find at a Hold Steady, Diamond Nights or Constantines show is in full swing here, with “Nighttime” coming out oddly satisfying and “Hotstepper” with a glam chorus and the sort of pro attitude that goes against most of the records in this column. I admire them for the swagger and because these are very well-constructed tracks, but you’ll understand why I hold them at arm’s length, and I got pretty long arms.
Wire Taps 7” EP
Chicago trio (ex-Ponys/Happy Supply) but did you hear their album on In the Red? No? Somebody’s gotta get on the ball with these guys. They’re too good to be stuck in the garage ghetto, bringing back some of the wide-eyed innocence of ‘90s indie pop and applying it to surfy, twangy, jangly rock that’s not afraid to get mean when it needs to. Three songs here, all a pretty great and surprising time in that they’re not out to rattle your cage too hard, but they will make you think, and these songs stick in your ears longer than most. A fairly unique sound, well-played and mannered without being polite. Nice, loud cover of the Minutemen’s “Party With Me Punker” up in here too. 100 copies on brown vinyl are pretty much gone, but get hold of this all the same.
Times New Viking/Psychedelic Horseshit
split 7” EP
Split tour-only EP by these Columbus buddies, purveying the latent frontier of lo-fi rock and roll damage. TNV are getting shit from people left and right, it seems, but why? It took a bit of convincing but I am sure they are not coming from the land of bullshit. You think you may have heard what it is that they’re offering and you really haven’t. Three songs here, some redone for their new LP Present the Paisley Reich (actually they might turn up on the CD version; my vinyl copy of the album is one-sided) and one that definitely isn’t. Sounds more like the ideas for songs than the finished LP and previous single products, and even still they attack the material with all six hands, busily buzzing through it all and hurdling them past obvious influences. You can’t rightly say they don’t own their sound at this point, or at the very least have a big ol’ stake in its un/doing. Psychedelic Horseshit presents three acoustic bathroom recordings here, all in a simple post-punk singer-songwriter framework that calls to mind the Country Teasers or early Grifters. Unlike their first single, this one connected with me right away. Will force the ‘90s to repeat themselves, one way or another – at least in spirit. You may see me behind TNV’s merch table on their upcoming tour w/ Clockcleaner; dates begin this week. Speak your mind. Edition of 500.
By Doug Mosurock