Still Single: Vol. 4, No. 13
Short column this month for a few reasons, chief among them being a lack of submissions. Come on. Send in those records.
Vancouver punks getting their act together on this new single. They had a really good showing on that Emergency Room comp on the same label, and here start to define two possible paths for their lifespan: angsty, uptight punk a la the Observers or Agent Orange on “Secret Trials,” and jangling rock(abilly?) nerve on “Doomsday Girl,” which leverages Ian Curtis braying with some Billy Zoom/Dave Alvin-style flash leads. They pretty much succeed at both, so it’ll be interesting to see how far they can take these. 322 pressed, red vinyl.
Tour-precipitated split between two acts on the Zs/Dirty Projectors axis. Extra Life breaks out three acoustic folk numbers, performed with the care and somnambulant caution of Catholic hymns, made all the more notable by the somewhat cantering vocals. Gastr del fear of Christianity? I’ll take it. Nat Baldwin tries a similar approach, but with cello. Arthur Russell-isms abound, naturally, but the instrument also contours to Baldwin’s wavering voice and sense of spontaneous composition (lots of samples dropped into “Lifted”). Didn’t know what to expect from this group of musicians, but there’s a stern, unwavering sense of duty to their work which I find appealing.
Coming out of that whole sounds-like-everything approach to dark, modern alt-rock (a la Deerhunter), Hotchacha throws a lot of ideas at each of their four songs on this EP. Hoping to get by on the tension at the heart of repetition, the all-female Cleveland outfit pretty much succeeds – sounds like people from different types of bands trying to claim ownership on a Gothic stance; those who would find pieces of garage rock and possibly heavier bands in their closets. Either way, it’s pretty good, with beguiling vocals. Contains download code.
Gareth Hardwick/Taiga Remains
Split 10” of drone from a label that last hit us with Strategy downtempo tracks. I got chewed out for dissing Taiga Remains on the Heavy Winged split, so here’s maybe a chance for redemption – this side is much more together than what I’d heard previously, a ghostly slab of dissonant tones with a mechanical underpinning, like 12 motors humming at their own frequencies with some bowed metal clatter strewn within. Substantive and ominous, I’m ready to check out more. Hardwick drones on one note from an airy, layered start into a powerful, but not overblown, finale. Packaged like an old 78 in a dust sleeve.
Song after song of moderately-skilled, low-wattage punk rock annoyance. Six on the single, considerably more on the LP. The vocals really ruin things. Can’t recommend that you find out why.
The latest hype from the UK, poised to make a dent wherever there’s any room left. Magistrates cross slight, uptight funk with a TV on the Radio-esque vocalese. Kinda sounds like a serious, not-fun retread of the Make Up; it’s got “soul” but not soul, if you follow me. White vinyl.
Emil Amos (Grails) makes his recorded debut as the new drummer of Om, replacing Chris Hakius and bringing an innate flashiness to a once-workmanlike position. He’s doing as much to stoke Al Cisneros’ fire as he can, and provides more dimension to a role that had gotten kind of stale. He can do slower, jazzier fills that help to flesh out the bass, and brings a bit more balance to the equation than the lumbering, long-form sides of the past. So we get a new one, “Gebel Barkal” (slow burner) and a slightly dubbed-out version on the back, but moreover, we get a new Om, one which hasn’t yet proven itself but provides a good deal of excitement all the same. If this development doesn’t make it a little easier to move copies of Amos’ solo records (under the name Holy Sons), then something’s wrong. 1500 copies, sand/tan marbled vinyl, first release in the reactivated Sub Pop Singles Club. One just went on eBay for $101, a figure I assume will be corrected by the market.
Meticulously spacey guitar pop from the DC area, borrowing at best a rhythmic imperative from that city’s musical heritage, if not the blare behind it. Both tracks here are cooled off, bass-heavy moves, jazzy and detached, but somehow conveying a sound and approach that isn’t being done this well by anyone. Blue line swingers, for sure. Formerly known as Pagoda, probably until Michael Pitt swung the sword of band-naming justice at ‘em. Swank silkscreen sleeves, 300 copies (includes CD).
DC-area kids working hard at figuring out who they are and what they want to do, and learning some hard lessons. Long songs in a bouncy Hot Snakes cul-de-sac, just spinning their tires – when it would be a great time for a couple of minutes, it spins off into another set of changed that could be its own song. They also elected to cram as much as they could onto the vinyl, which could only be reflected in a quiet, muddy mastering job. Sorry, guys. Edition of 500.
I like Titmachine because their approach – create music that’s both aggressive and unruly in practice, yet disciplined in its delivery – stands off any johnny-come-lately no wave simulations that have troubled to “get crazy” in recent years. In their hands, a song like Palais Schaumburg’s “We Build a New City” becomes a dare, belted out in German with edges more ragged with each verse, something or someone going out of tune, and a sloppy digital edit or two. By the end they sound like one of the most determined bands around. Remember how God Is My Co-Pilot did something similar, but forced attention on themselves for doing so? Consider Titmachine a humanitarian effort then, proof that letting go and doing will always prove a tempting option to waiting around and being careful. Way more substantial than their first 7”, and goes a long way in proving that this is a band to be considered as a mirthful, albeit very real presence in a barren art-punk landscape. Not too many of these, and there’s a bit of variation in the pressing.
Swedish punkers who take Hot Snakes-style super unison-taming post-HC bounce and apply gruff, Fucked Up-style vocals with some particularly angsty 90s lady crust screaming in back. That this could be boiled down to such a formula should tell you that fans of any of the above will get it, while people outside of that circle will either ignore it or pick it apart. It’s OK, though there are a lot of records like this, and have been for a while. 500 copies.
Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) pressed on any size of vinyl. I will not review CD-R copies of a vinyl release – you need to send the vinyl itself, even if it includes a CD. 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 is accepted for review. Do not be afraid.
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!
By Doug Mosurock