Still Single: Vol. 3, No. 2
Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) 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.
Still Single now runs bi-monthly, so there is no deadline for submission. I will do my best to make sure that records are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
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.
Keep sending in submissions, please!
Mysteries aren't always tough to figure out. Maybe viewing the Blank Dogs as some sort of long-lost minimal garage synth project would have helped these records gain cred points, but I think they've got enough of those already. Through some quick investigation, it was revealed that someone who works at Academy in Brooklyn put out the 12”, and that the identity behind the group is Mike Sniper (DC Snipers). Makes sense, I guess, and sounds like it could have come out of a dare, but all the same, here it is - busted-up synth, guitar, drum machine and vocals all derived from Cab Volt covering “No Escape” in a way. Serious wavo pop chops are at play here, despite the grot that smothers the proceedings. Better songs on the 7” make that the preferred release to get if you can only choose one, but there's a couple of really decent tracks on the 12” - “Dismorphobia” and “Everyone Is” can hold their own against most current entrants in this daylight-starved scene. 12” is 490 numbered copies in a silkscreened sleeve, and the 7” is 500 (400 black, 100 color). Gets more catchy and nicely worn-in with repeat listens.
“My Answer Is Yes! (But What's The Question?)” b/w “Lola Langusta” 7”
Cheveu can tour with a guitar and a suitcase, so their music sounds about what you'd expect out of that lineup - jambox, old Casio, strummin' and yellin'. Earlier singles came at a sound steeped in a decidedly post-punk/minimal synth direction akin to late '70s harsh times (Metal Urbain, Chrome), but this record's two tracks approach things from a pop perspective, the trio fully trading in aggression for cash 'n' carry slide blues licks on “Lola Langusta.” Cheveu's intents past a wild and drunken live show/moshpit are starting to make themselves evident, and it's moving forward a bit, the group perhaps realizing the limits of their setup, and trying to find new ways to make it work. Edition of 500, with 100 of those on white.
Silver-Tongued Sisyphus 12” EP
(Meu Dia De Morte)
The unlikely combination of German multi-instrumentalist Simon Wojan and former Panthers/Red Scare guitarist Kip Uhlhorn returns with a sublime, two-sided trip into cavernous studio meditations and impatient drone, the duo milking the fruits of tape-sharing and intercontinental collaboration to a pronounced and wondrous new place. All the gravity of Popol Vuh is intact in these two sidelong offerings – no mean feat given the lack of foresight seen in a lot of Kraut/drone tributes, which these guys and their carefully prepped onslaught cleverly avoid. Side one is the droner, side two is the rocker, and with these gigantic tracks they may have surpassed the expectations set on their debut album from last year. You really have no idea how good this is, do you. Silkscreened sleeves, in a German import edition of 96 numbered copies. Not a misprint; it’s ridiculous that something this great would come out in a press run that small. Hope you can find one!
“This Is a Forest” b/w “Lumber Yard” 7”
“This Is a Forest” adds up to movie credits lounge-ease wander, as a bloopy sine wave gets jiggled around on top. Unsung lyrics printed on the back promise suicide for a young, confused waif. “Lumber Yard” plays a bongcrushin' powerviolence riff and layers organ, pitch-shifted vocals, and electronics over it until the riff starts to sound more like an anthem than a menace. Its “lyrics” indicate that trees will rise up and use humans for furniture. In the spirit, but not the sound, of a band with an upcoming release on Painkiller, Dry-Rot would get points for even trying to subvert any dirge-like hardcore references, but the music within gently wields heavy hammers in an enthralling manner. Edition of 300. Part of a singles series.
El Jesus de Magico
Funeral Home Sessions 7” EP
Pretty solid session of lost solo homebody rantings, which alternate between the murky/austere Ohio undie rock of yore and some slightly altered perceptions via synth and delay. Coincidentally sits between a lot of the records in this column - it wouldn't sound out of place next to Blank Dogs, Religious Knives, or Heavy Winged, even though these bands don't have a lot to do with each other. That's right - they get by on the moods they create. Anyway, this is some pretty high-quality material from a guy with a couple of releases out, in particular the psychedelic mindmeld going on in “Indian Giver.” Columbus Discount: acknowledge your redemption!
The Party Bag 7” EP
(P.Trash/Wicked Singles Records)
Another OK record by the Ghetto Ways here. Scuzzy recording and a decent mastering job really make “Steal the Peel” and “Do It Blind” pop in ways they otherwise might not; whoever's on drums is really working that crash cymbal, giving things a more primal feel. The other two songs are just '70s glam/punk rave-ups. It comes on white vinyl in a clear Ziploc bag, and looks kind of like a big bag of blow. Again, just OK; the Mendoza Line of this genre, really. I try to think about the 600 people who can own this record. Do we have anything in common with each other?
“Message of Love” b/w “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat” 7”
Haven't delved deeply enough into the margins of recent Northwestern punk recluses to figure out who's in the Intelligence anymore, save A Frame Lars Finberg, but here's evidence of new activity in this double-shot of covers by the Pretenders and Dylan. “Message of Love” benefits from the typical Intelligent sounds, like drums scuzzed out to gutshot dynamics and a thick, mealy low-end. It's loud enough to be heard over the noise of a crowded bar, so it'll do for me. “Leopard Skin” is a country tease, slung out over-the-shoulder style in one of the most out-of-place tracks in this outfit's many releases. Pretty great, but not the first Intelligence record I'd reach for either. Italian import, limited to 300 copies.
The Theatre of the Macabre 7” EP
Some of you have written in, asking what happened to the horror-core movement that hip hop was holding down back in the mid-‘90s. From the sounds on this EP, it went to France, where it moonlights as black metal. No foolin’ – this one is split right down the middle, one side all Baron Samedi in a ghetto gown, the other busy gluing carpentry spikes to a wristband, then the two sides meeting together at the end of the record for a Judgment Night of its own. Your skepticism is expected, but this thing actually delivers, at least on the grim side of the streets – I always felt that the first Gravediggaz album left some questions unanswered, and yeah I know there was a second, but I mean real questions. This begs to answer them in a very real and threatening manner. Edition of 300 copies.
F-44 one-sided 12”
One track of industrial synth reverberations, atonal and rumbling. Can be turned up quite loud, as its frequencies hover in the low and dingy range. Sounds like a parachute caught in a ventilation duct and flapping uselessly in the forceful wind of exhaust. Long, gray, and stern, just like E.T. Edition of 200 numbered copies in a silkscreened, handsomely letterpressed sleeve.
“Stumpf” b/w “Van v. Art” 7”
Much better than their first single. Something happened to Necropolis amidst the drubbing and the requisite threats of action, at least to the point where they have generated the musical stiffness required to play this post-punk basement thing into the artisan phase of songwriting development. Surprisingly, these two are crashers, in and out within two minutes of frantic, scissoring, uptight jitters hotwired throughout. Nothing up the sleeve with these terrific hooks or the powdery residue they leave. From worst to pretty great, pretty fast.
Night of Pleasure
“Godard vs. Truffeau” + 2 7” EP
No matter what a band is doing, if they're rockin', the rockin' can't be denied. Night of Pleasure rocks out hard under cover of reductive 4-track production, making for a pretty blown-out time. The barking vocals lend themselves to this format, maybe a little bit better than the songs do, as without the nuance of zero-dollar production, their amped-up material might sound like a stunt of some kind. Yet they do know how to rock, with big riffs and some out of control guitar histrionics. I think we have a winner here! Oversized sleeve may bum some folks out, though.
The Notorious Hi-Fi Killers
s/t 7” EP
Loud, saturated psychedelic rock from England, doing a good and pretty novel job of crossing up the kind of throttling, manic psychedelia of Oneida with nodding-off blooz riffage and weighty, ponderous tempos. Quite a weird combination, but it works, if only on the strength and force applied in getting it out. The songs just hang there, filling up all the space in the room, and it's a big room. More or less a cross-section of Heavy London, with requisite grebo tendencies (check the 13th Floor Elevators cover) and the painful, violent qualities of Part Chimp. Skirts the fence between loud indie and legitimate psychedelia quite nicely, and its runtime is long enough for you to get a good feeling for this lot. Limited edition of 300 copies, on thick black vinyl.
Jump for Joy 7” EP
You like Leatherface? So do these guys. They also like pretty basic punk rock you’ve more or less heard before – and better – enough to play it. Vocals sound like vomit gargle, which is the coolest thing going on here. I could listen to that singer read the shitty phone book. Hmm. Can I change my mind? This thing is rough like pub rock, putting the Oscars ahead of the curve on the grillfat revival. A guy can dream, can’t he? Two cans of PBR and a burger from Krystal, you think?
House Arrest 7” EP
Pretty good thrash from Pittsburgh, with some anthemic moments in between the bludgeoning. Sounds young, frantic and pissed-off, just like you hoped it would. This is their second EP and they just finished up a US tour, so congrats and keep going. Self-released in an edition of 500, with 100 of those on grey swirl.
“I Know a Place” b/w “Don't Let Him Come Back” 7”
After the herky-jerky new wave of Blood Visions, Jay Reatard is marching back to the pomp of junkshop glam, “I Know a Place” playing both triumphant and confrontational (lyrics involve getting away from someone … hmm) and framing those sentiments into a pretty spot-on Go-Betweens cover on the flipside. Both tracks feature acoustic guitar, but aside from that there's a somewhat calming influence apparent on both tracks that give the impression Reatard is starting to make some sort of logical attempt to rein in his spastic, scattered style and figure out just where he wants his obvious talents to take him.
“Luck” b/w “In Back” 12”
Just catching up with this Brooklyn group, comprised of Double Leopards and Mouthus members, among others. “Luck” is a brooding and ominous drone meditation for organ, synth, melodica, bass and drums, plodding along with the sternness of pre-Catholic mass organ workouts, and finally shambling into a stern, mantra-esque vocal passage. If it sounds like a prayer, it certainly doesn't carry itself as such, pointing instead towards the solemn modes of Tangerine Dream or This Heat's “The Fall of Saigon.” “In the Back” works off of the same logic that propelled early Swans and Sonic Youth - serious, heavy drone-rock marching into the sea, with Eastern aspirations and a rigorous reading that's definitely not vegan. Edition of 500 in silkscreened sleeves, and worth the scratch.
11 Songs 12” EP
Like it says, eleven songs. Reckless hardcore from Texas which somehow loses the gruff vocals a bit amidst some hot, flashy playing. Their power doesn't fully translate on record, though it comes pretty close – I'll bet these guys fuck shit up live. Sharing some members with Signal Lost, if that interests you, but the bands sound nothing alike. Edition of 500 and quickly dwindling.
Robedoor + Haunted Castle
“Nameless Race” one-sided 12”
Two drone outfits get together and produce one long train-of-thought, moaning ghost popper, shackles of the afterlife sorta clattering against drums, peals of feedback, delay, and monastic vocalisms. Couldn't tell you which part of the band is doing what, but Robedoor features Britt who runs the excellent Not Not Fun label. Suitable attack takes its time building into something worthwhile, then pulls back its composite elements into the aether. 300 numbered copies.
Paint the Walls 12” EP
Formed in Providence, RI but now split between coasts, Snake Apartment sounds like a really bad day in the early evening hours. Busting through the hole that Pissed Jeans and Clockcleaner both helped to kick open in the last few years, this sounds like a bleary, tangled bundle of nerves, borne by the force of weird, late period noise rock (think Skin Graft and Trance Syndicate bands) and carried through with the loose force of Flag and the nagging feeling you get from listening to the Circle Jerks or “Institutionalized.” These guys play like they don't care about anyone or anything, and it holds up well as a modern example of the apathy we all experience mid-to-late decade. “Sad Orgasm” and “Pigs is Pigs” sum it all up pretty nicely, not only in name but when you actually listen to this thing. They're playing two East Coast shows in June (in NYC and Providence, June 15th and 16th), and have a West Coast tour lined up for July. There you can pick up a copy of this in a brutal silkscreened poster sleeve. Artwork on this one is killer. Really crazy. 500 copies, green marbled vinyl.
The Ski Instructors
“Kids on the Street” b/w “Horoscope” 7”
Sacramento indie pop outfit which is essentially the band Nar (including the Scott Miller who I had erroneously confused with the guy from Game Theory), plus Tristan Tozer of Lyme Regis. At this point it's safe to call the DIY/punk/pop thing happening in this town for the past 15 years a movement, with most of the bands having a loose, ramschackle aesthetic that spills over into their music, whether it be the FM Knives or !!!. This one's got the same charm, stuck to a bouncy, innocuous jangle-pop frame. Can't decide whioch one I like more, but today it's “Horoscope.” Sweet times from guys who have been at this whole thing for a while. 200 copies in silkscreened sleeves.
“Dark Hollow” b/w “Agave Blues” 7”
Here's some sun-faded, leathery, fairly sinister country from some folks from North Carolina who used to play with a fantastic loud rock trio called the Labiators. It's a large lineup here, with slide guitar, organ, and banjo filling out standard instrumentation. Greg Cartwright's production on a “7-track” (two four-tracks plugged into one another?) unfortunately loses some of the arrangements due to a crowded mix, and these songs would definitely benefit from a real studio recording, but they have a sound that's both lost and authentic to the times that spawned them, with “Dark Hollow” looking down the barrel of a mean country swagger and “Agave Blues” dragging along in sorrow, but punctuated by a beautiful framing, shot through by Paisley Underground leanings and a haunting, female-sung chorus. Far from perfect, but I'd like to hear some more ASAP. Edition of 450 in screened, letterpressed sleeves.
(Lost Treasures of the Underworld)
Sword Heaven more than make up for that cumstain “Piles” 7” with their side on this split, which sounds alive and bright. Heavy with the sort of rectilinear mindset that comes into play while listening to really chaotic, soul/fire free jazz, Sword Heaven sounds as much like a war here as they do two guys banging on a bunch of treated objects and hotrodded electronic devices. But it's that they can approach noise with the ferocity that others have brought, and make it sound martial and prescient, is a small miracle. They pull it off like it was theirs all along. Lambsbread'soffering on the flip follows a rough start with a healthy portion of Dead C. drone/shred (must hear to understand) befor e toppling into feedback and molten blues deathgrip. Like most of their offerings, it is what it is, and you can't really judge it unless you've heard more than a few of them. But it is here, now, charged atavistically with the frustrations of life. I think there were 500 pressed, all in silkscreened sleeves. This one is a little old and sorry to the dudes who sent it that it slipped out of reach for a minute, but grip it if you can - Sword Heaven here is not to be missed.
We the People
Time to Operate 7” EP
(Stop Whining, Start Winning)
Strong, catchy punk with both pop and gruff street elements. This band shares a vocalist with Black SS, but come at things from angles overtly youth crew and predominately melodic. It’s a fun time, these guys grinding away at something a bit more catchy, but with the ragged vocals and rough energy required to legitimize it all. Good stuff. White vinyl, pressing stats unavailable.
s/t 7” EP
Solo minimal synth/electro sounds here from one Arthur Bates. Numanoid in declension but approaching the serial-killer sensibilities of coldwave, Wicked Poseur holds its own as both a novelty and a fairly good interpretation of the real thing as it was in the early '80s. Songs about art school (“Drugs and Drawing”) and cocaine are the message he's trying to bring across, which aren't really hard things to talk about. Not really sure what the motivation is behind this. Musically it seems to have this self-mocking quality that pushes the songs headlong into hipster parody, but it clearly took some time and talent to put this together, som maybe this is one mystery we shouldn't try to solve yet.
Yoke & Yohs
s/t 7” EP
Danish label continues to impress with this single, two guys on sax and drums who figured out how to do the Lightning bolt with that setup. The sax runs some back and forth rudiments through enough distortion to make it sound like a guitar, and both players push themselves to the limit. It's loud, blasted-out, and not anywhere close to free jazz … maybe Klezmer, though (“Shadow of the Bahamut”) and possibly Ministry-derived club industrial (“Satan's Choice”). Excellent/disgusting full-color poster sleeve is loaded with food-based cover art that's as creative as it is gross-looking. Another title on a label that continues to surprise and delight.
“Observing the Armies in the Battlefield” + 2 7” picture disk EP
Precise, innovative future space-funk, like if Voivod rocked the fretless bass and the mannerisms of those who play it, all the way through to its logical conclusion – musicianship so exacting and progressive that it sparks obsession into the ponytailed and stained of shirt, intense study from the bespectacled, and occasionally a couple guys with dreadlocks, on acid, with a hacky sack, peering into the gravity well of creation. Stu Hamm marked for death. Contains hot sax, if that sort of thing puts you off.
Yes! Early ‘80s style hardcore mockup from Raleigh, NC, featuring some of the guys who made up that illustrious tier in the first place (drummer Brian Walsby’s been in bands ranging from Snake Nation to Polvo). They’re wound tight and pretty self-contained, not much for lashing at the outside of the box their music tapes itself shut into. Pretty decent up until “The Jacket,” at which point they try emulating Die Kreuzen’s first album and they become INCREDIBLE. The last two songs ride off the rails in all the ways the rest of the record can’t or won’t, but all in all, if you were looking for something that plays by a pretty strict yet exciting set of revivalist rules, this one would be the one. Edition of 1000, first 200 on red and long gone.
We Grow L
(Not Not Fun)
Basement stoner riffing is the meat in a growing-out-of-Growing drone sandwich from this trio. A record like this has to coast by on style, since its substance is pretty much what I just described. Some might point towards the collapsing in of ideas onto themselves, stemming from the online deluge of most music of history being made available all at once. We used to call this “lazy” but now it's post-modern. It's almost as if they made two records and went wild with the overdubbing. I mean, it's pretty decent guitar slay, the drumming is ever so wobbly as to add character, and the bass does what it needs to, and they do have a good idea about how much space is needed to lift off and return within a comfortable span of time. Just don't look too hard for meaning into this one, as it is what it is, a loud, murky guitar product from and for these uncertain times. Edition of 450 on handsome blue marbled vinyl, in a stickered sleeve.
Plays the Book of Revelations LP
Would be pretty funny indeed if some Arthur-reading peacenik into Comets on Fire took this one home, put it on, and his skull ignited like the head of a match. Ben Chasny and Noel von Harmonson from that outfit unite to futz around with guitar and electronics in a magnified, overpowering display of manhood. Noel’s suitcase noise tour only hinted at the punches being thrown all over this record, a blackened battle between forces too baked to sit up straight, yet aware enough of their instrumental powers to cause a little damage here and there. Hearkens back to the good old days of power electronics in intent and execution. Edition of 666 copies in black-on-black silkscreened upside-down crucifix foldout sleeves.
Shit & Shine
Cunts with Roses LP
Live recording of a rehearsal for this tooth-loosening UK outfit warming up for a performance with Laibach. Guitars, bass and drums force the issue of one martial, fast riff in waltz time pushed to its breaking point, a boot jammed repeatedly into your face and ears. Run through enough filters and effects in spots to relieve the monotony, you can actually hear these guys warming into this merciless groove around the middle of side 1, and stay there for the duration. So pummeling and relentless, “Cunts with Roses” the song it actually folds into a meditative foil of itself, and creative enough in its presentation that you get to hear every part of this riff from a variety of perspectives. Throw this on at your next get-together and watch all the glasses in your house get smashed. Edition of 300 in a foil-stamped sleeve. An essential purchase.
Speedy Delivery LP
Retrospective LP of all the recordings and a live track by the Speedies, a Brooklyn power-pop/wavo band alive in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, most of which were in or just recently graduated from high school at the time. For some reason they never went beyond this, disbanding in 1981 after two singles and a list of accomplishments that most bands would have never achieved. Both singles, including “Let Me Take Your Photo” (recently featured in some sort of commercial) and “Time,” produced with flair by Clem Burke, are back here in all their glory – big, friendly, bright, viable pop with a pronounced British flair. It’s a pretty harmless but engaging time, the band conducting themselves with a professionalism and songcrafting talents well beyond their years.
By Doug Mosurock