Dusted Features

Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 5

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Dusted Features

Check out the latest roundup of vinyl offerings from around the world, including trusted opinions on Dum Dum Girls, Gang Gang Dance and Big (BIG) Freedia.

Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 5

( )
“False Xmas” b/w “What Shall You Say Tonight?” 12”
(Katorga Works)

David Vassalotti, of haze-machines Merchandise, offers up whatever’s in the parentheses as the name for his solo project, plying away the more British aspect from that other project’s body into something a bit more deliberate. Vocal treatments sound as if they were mic’d underwater, backwards guitar leads rip through shimmery glam pop that takes big cues from classy groups like Pulp, fidelity is right on the edge, leaning towards “none” instead of “some.” ( ) and Merchandise are records as of now, not quite a proper band, it seems, but for once that’s fine. Anyone who can push these sorts of grand statements into the realm of Doggin’ can do whatever they please. (http://katorgaworks.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Here We Are Tomorrow 7” EP
(Tiny Engines)

Here we have a beautifully packaged 7” EP from this Kent, OH band. The 7” cover is beautiful photographs of beach scenes, and the outer bag is silkscreened with the band, song title, and label info. Looks great. Annabel’s press sheet calls them an indie pop band, but what they sound like is mid-’90s Midwestern emo that could have been released on the Polyvinyl label. It’s very similar in feel to Braid and the Promise Ring or any band in that circle. They play well and the songs are well put together. It’s not particularly my thing, but if it sounds like something you would like, go for it! (http://www.tinyengines.net)
(Chris Strunk)

Applehead de Applehead LP

Cinematic drone/dubstep purveyor Anworth Kirk teams with one Tony DuVal for some authentic collage/instrumental work, mitigating the presence of real progressive rock features and tones with the found-sound/mood-setting material it’s up against. Either these are borrowed ideas from the media source they keep hinting at (VHS tapes scavenged throughout Europe), or outright samples arranged with live instrumentation, but it’s a pretty seamless blend on that front. It’s also more successful in building the sort of tension you might find in the soundtrack corner from the “kombucha noise” (sorry Chris, couldn’t resist) of Not Not Fun artists like Umberto or Xander Harris, which are more slavish, simple-minded impressions of the full-on synth/funk/creep going on here. Analog vs. digital, S-VHS vs. Betamax, PAL vs. NTSC (or SECAM); one dominant format leads the way. I didn’t care for this much at first but the record has grown on me a bit, sorta extending that Roller-era Goblin direction to a smaller but just as vibrant palate. These guys have Demdike Stare connections and thus a relationship with Andy Votel, whose fingerprints are all over this work, right down to the logo, but there’s a lot more recognizable action here than in DS. Where Votel might find the records that capture these ruminations, Applehead injects them with interesting, or at minimum appropriate concepts and helps them to see a second light. 500 copies or so, UK import, happy hunting.
(Doug Mosurock)

Big Freedia
Azz Everywhere 12” EP

New Orleans bounce rap has found an ally in punk/HC promoter Timmy Hefner, who breaks rank from the blistering thrash and Australian punk 7” reissue plan of his 540 Records label for Big Freedia. Along with her producer and DJ Rusty Lazer, Freedia easily packs as much power and energy into her music than any bands whose credo is “short fast loud” – Freedia is definitely all of those things, maybe not so much on the short, but you get me. Or you will. Containing two songs from a few years back and two new ones, Azz Everywhere marks Freedia’s debut vinyl, with music that dares to jump right off the record and surround you with a world of shaking, glorious rump. The beats are more simplistic and body-moving than most everything else in contemporary dance music, heading instead back to the junglist era for inspiration on how to go this hard. There is really no room to breathe here as the tracks are up in your face from the moment they begin. Freedia taunts and hollers into a circadian rhythm of anthemic, immediate call/response vocals, which are treated in spots like something out of Philip Glass; laid against the pumping, carefree rhythms and occasional samples, it’s one of the most exhilarating things I’ve heard in a very, very long time. Unbelievable. (Update: tonight’s episode of “Treme” made me realize I was listening to this at the wrong speed. Down in 33, where it belongs, this is still every bit as crushing, though not nearly as fast, and understandably, a lot more believable as something that exists in contemporary music. The Philip Glass thing still stands though. Play it at 45 too, it’s nuts.) (http://www.chaosintejas.com/540)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 12” EP

Spazzy, suburban-sounding punk from the Vancouver foundries, a bright and silly offering that places somewhere in the Dickies/Descendents/Didjits lineage, maybe down the line alongside Action Patrol, or Popular Shapes. You know, bands of the persuasion that would have the jumpsuited/monkeysuited-hulk-on-vocals with speedy, aggressive punk musicians behind him behind him. They don’t let up across the 10 minutes or so it takes for you to finish it, but it’s brash and melodic, with both qualities fighting for all the attention. Fun times! (http://recordsnominal.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Evan Caminiti
When California Falls Into the Sea LP
(Handmade Birds)

Well, that would be one way to solve a fiscal crisis. But since the California is still only underwater in a monetary sense, you can say whatever you want about the matter, and Evan Caminiti says … nothing. He doesn’t even do any of the wordless intonations that he offers up with Barn Owl. He does, however, work with a newfound spirit of austerity that suits the subject at hand; his last album West Winds took 38 minutes to get through seven tracks, but this one glides through 11 in half an hour. He’s also reined in the distortion and layering that made West Winds feel as enveloping as an oncoming storm front; each tune has just a couple electric guitar tracks dipped (rather than soaked) in echo. The combination of brief, contrapuntal melodies and a tone that’s sturdy on the bottom, quivering and just out of reach on top makes this sound like a cross between Loren Connors circa Moonyean and Scenes from the South Island-era Roy Montgomery. Since those guys never got closer to performing together outside of sharing opposite sides of a single, and neither is particularly prolific in his own right nowadays, this exercise in what-ifness made material is a welcome thing. The professionally printed, mostly black and white sleeve and 12”x12” insert are both gorgeous. 100 copies on white vinyl, 400 on black. (http://www.handmadebirds.com)
(Bill Meyer)

Antoine Chessex
Fools LP

Masterful and supremely evil-sounding improvisations from a tenor sax, a noise rig, and the demented fiend who put it all together. Antoine Chessex employs circular breathing and an variety of effects to completely obscure the fat tone of his instrument, but leave the intense pressure of the wind being blown through it intact. Both of the sidelong tracks here mutate into snarling white noise monsters and intense industrial drone, often at the same time, with all the catharsis of noise but set to the human furnace underneath. When the cyborgs come, you will hear something like this again. 200 copies. (http://www.touretterecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t LP

Reissued from a Burger Records cassette release, the Cosmonauts are the kind of band that sorta gets it, sorta doesn’t, and leaves it to you to decide. There are some very atonal, wild vocals somewhere in Cheater Slicks territory, there’s skiffle drums on a few tracks, there’s logy and lazy psych along the lines of what the Brian Jonestown Massacre pumps out, though without a lot of the class or the majesty. And when you don’t even have that … look out. While often loud and occasionally interesting, this album is not much more than an odd mix of the appropriate and the grossly unappealing, I’m at a loss to find much worth recommending here. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Horse Heaven LP
Any more bands mining the “fake psych/sensitive singer-songwriter” territory and we’re going to have to hold yearly telethons to raise money against their progress. I vote that this event takes place on Presidents’ Day Weekend and at some point we do some “celebrity haircuts” where Prince Rama gets strapped to chairs and have their heads shaved into proper businessman/lady coifs. Creepoid can cower in the corner during this event. None of these songs sound like anything I’d remember after they ended. Friend rock to the extreme. (http://ianrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Deathly Fighter
Completely Dusted LP
“14 Year Old Void” b/w “Contacters” 7”
(Columbus Discount)

Deathly Fighter provides some much-needed relief to the whole “VHS soundtrack” identity picked up by more than a few acts right now. Like them, they work from the same ozone-smelling array of synths and bass guitar and drum loops, but instead of trying to mimic something they heard somewhere else, they mostly go out on some truly blazed, late-late night trip, aiming somewhere between a shroomin’ and thoroughly wasted Wooden Shjips and a batch of RZA instrumentals that nobody was really thinking about. Granted there are a few Tangerine Dream-esque passages of tone float and “electronische-organisation” in here, they’re not the rule. And anyway, when you’re up that late in that state, you’re going to find something just as formless floating around in your peripheral vision. Their secret seems to be a big, busted Prophet-600 synth that’s playable but beyond repair, and the random sounds it emits are part of the chaos necessary to push things forward a bit. Not too much out there that sounds like this right now, and these songs may well deposit you someplace you’ve never been before. Give Columbus Discount a hand and buy the rest of these. Single was part of their Year 2 Singles Club but I’ll bet you can find one if you look hard enough. (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dog Leather
Greezy Man and Stinky Man Meets Smutty Ranks on Tarantula Hill LP

Meeting of the minds: DJ Dog Dick and the Sewn Leather guy get together to make “demented” hip-hop beats, blunted out and caked with noise and feedback. Horror-core at its most fetal and farty, a sweaty stew of analog synths, stoopid beats, and stupid lyrics (“goblin massacres” and the like). Must be cool to not care. Silkscreened sleeve, low grade. (http://ehserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dum Dum Girls
He Gets Me High 12” EP
(Sub Pop)

Wow, this is great. Seriously excellent post-everything follow-up to what we all knew as the Dum Dum Girls until now (good songs, alluring sound, lo-fi crutchery) – the four songs here have a brightness and depth instilled within their pop ambitions, but still enough texture and attention to put the music. Apart from the Smiths cover, pristine and worthy in its own right, Dee Dee exhibits some of the same talents and ambiance as Morrissey, and I like it a lot, and I never really thought I’d ever write those words, but there you go. These are big, big songs – I might love the opener “Wrong Feels Right” the best, but all should be blasting from every Mini Cooper in the country. Unimpeachable sound and great hit-style songwriting, just so lush and detailed and gorgeous. Wow. (http://www.subpop.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Estrogen Highs
Cycles 12” EP
(Safety Meeting)

Hot on the heels of a fine LP comes six newer ones from Estrogen Highs, a garage-turned-quality pop band that continues to push a little further away from their noisy roots. Seriously heartfelt talent here from some folks who made sure to listen to and trust themselves – the sentiments that bubble up on an otherwise dry, contemplative song like “I Remember Everything” call to mind the wonder of the Go-Betweens without necessarily quoting that group, something that a lot of bands in their position hope to achieve. Very much entering themselves into the canon (the wiki?) on their own, and really none of us should be challenging this. We need more bands who can play rock ‘n’ roll with their own voices. 300 numbered copies, silkscreened disco sleeve, looks primitive but very nice. (http://www.safetymeeting.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Gang Gang Dance
“Glass Jar” b/w “MindKilla” 12”

4AD continues to step to the cerebral class of modern bands, the ones that have spent a good long time doing their thing on a smaller scale until the gold-plated door is opened for them. This is understandable, even good; it’s nice that bands like Deerhunter, Ariel Pink and I guess tUnE-yArDs (cough), who’ve proven themselves as dynamic and wonderful performers of some reknown, who have all learned how to weave the cotton candy mind-fibers just so, have an opportunity to show the world what they can do with a push, some money, and some proper planning. Enter Gang Gang Dance to the fold, a band I’ve always stayed on the edge of due to the generally unpredictable, fusion-minded work that they do. Hard to say what I could have seen in these guys that everyone else saw, but with this new single, and that new Eye Contact LP, it’s beginning to come into greater focus. “Glass Jar” is the album opener, 11 minutes of airy exposition and breakbeat-driven denouement, the band getting psychically tuned up to carry on what follows. On this particular record, though, I need to give it up for “MindKilla,” a punchy, upbeat Moroccan blend jammer that fits somewhere between Kate Bush and the desert chase music from Ishtar, the Atoyot taxi driving off into the dunes in a swirl of clipped, bendy synthesizers and street merchant CD-R/incense salesman conventioneer hustle. Music like this keeps the world moving, and that’s OK by me. They even have a HYPE MAN who keeps the VIBES RIGHT. Positive energy to you. (http://www.4ad.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Gibson Bros.
Build a Raft 2xLP
(Columbus Discount)

Missing-link early recordings from their pre-Homestead period. This is pretty wild – side A is early studio recordings, reaching back into country and folk traditions moreso than their orientation towards early rock ‘n’ roll; these bridge the gap handily. Side B is a collection of live tracks, including some from what would be a tremendous challenge for any band: to play in front of children. Somehow the Gibson Bros. got connected with a Columbus-area elementary school and played an assembly for the students there, as part of principal Essie Richardson’s agenda to culturally broaden these young minds. She mentions that they’re “rock ‘n’ roll” and there’s some screams from the kiddies, then she interjects with “… but probably not the kind of rock ‘n’ roll you’re used to.” What a ballsy move. I wonder what these kids must have thought, and you’ll be mighty impressed at how much passion these guys put into the standards selected in this set (“My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It,” “Hot Dog”). Rock’s very essence bleeds out of the take of “Mississippi Bo Weevil” found here. Outtakes and the tracks from their “Keepers” single round out the second album. At this stage the group was like the Cramps without a television, and they go far beyond the thin prospects of revivalism, placing themselves at the end of the continuum for this type of music, and extending its drawl for future generations to swoon over. Outta print, look around. (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Hands and Knees
Wholesome LP

Boston-area outfit of talented performers looking to unify a bunch of sounds for the purposes of creating their own. When you do this sort of thing, you really need to think about your presentation, and covering up your seams. Hands and Knees don’t do too well in this regard, working from a smeary palette of rootsy country/Americana, alt-rock, rockabilly and that sort of Arcade Fire-esque swollen ambition mission that might be fun for a local crowd but which doesn’t necessarily warrant an American response band. We already had Oakley Hall, and their preternatural sense of drunken, beatific countrified ramble blows this one away. I like some of the songs a lot but nothing sounds like it necessarily had to come from the same band, so I dunno. Best of luck, not quite for me, but I get it. Would much rather hear bassist Carina Kelly make her own record; the songs she sings on are the best here by far. (http://handsandknees.bandcamp.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Simon Henneman
Black Magic & Moustache LP

Soundtrack-ish noir from Seattle musician Henneman, last heard on the Diminished Men LP that Abduction released. Despite the treatments presented here, which move things closer to the familiar signposts of jazzy music meant to coexist with visuals, Henneman takes a very Zen-like approach to the sax playing that appears throughout, at times moving into the late Bill Dixon’s domain of connectivity. Mostly though, you’re just glad that Henneman can do it, rather than overdo it. Pretty cool instrumentals for your inner detective. 300 copies, paste-on sleeves. (http://assophonrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Horrid Red
Pink Flowers 7” EP
(Soft Abuse)

More language-barrier garage-goth recorded with a strict “dynamics-free” rule in place. Dig that prominent New Order nod in the first track on side one. Oh, I’m sorry, I meant to choose an influence from my “Minimal Synth: Aesthetic Hoodwink, Inept New Wave, or Made-Up Genre?” brochure. Nope, can’t lie for the sake of obscurity, but I can branch out and rest on O.M.D. as the inspiration for the side-long “Foehn Winds” (make that O.M.D. mired in ultra-seriousness). Fucking “Foehn Winds” … that title will give me the hives if I spend another second thinking about it. The vocals are a speedy spoken or mumbled dialect that originate from Eastern Europe or are a Japanese impersonation of Eastern European stoicism. If “minimal synth” isn’t a “seminal” genre created out of thin air to justify a cred-injection into what usually amounts to little more than garage-mediocrity getting into bed with The Faint, then I’m sure-as-shit going to start that rumor. You’ve heard this before: Public domain new-wave or PG-13 industrial after garage-rock has taken a big analogue dump all over everything. Usually when you hear this sort of thing in mid-2011, the souls responsible could easily be found enjoying themselves in a disparate genre waaaaaay back in 2009. As for this? What does it matter when it sounds exactly like all-of-the-above? And to think; all of this could have been avoided if someone knew how to write a hook. (http://softabuse.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Selected Songs from Cassettes 2005-2009 LP

Drone-like, rule-breaking songs with an improvised element, from a known quantity in the tape and CD-R field. Belgian musician Ignatz strums away in a small room with lots of loose noodling all over the place, holding onto the folk/loner traditions trapped inside with his teeth, preventing them from merging with its chaotic shell and spoiling in open air. Discomforting and weird, but understandably so. Perfect for your next manic episode. Might calm you down, but what if it doesn’t? (http://www.kraak.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Philip Jeck & Marcus Davidson
Spliced 7”

I’m not sure that the 7” single is the best format for experimental/drone music, but if you are going to buy some drone singles you might as well go with some of the Touch Seven series. They are beautifully packaged, with striking full-color photographs on thick card stock covers, and so far have made the format work for this kind of music. This is the tenth installment in the series (other volumes are by notable artists like Lawrence English, People Like Us, Chris Watson, Mika Vainio, and Fennesz) and features long-running UK turntablist Philip Jeck, who has made a number of great full-lengths of shimmering drones, and keyboardist Marcus Davidson, who I was not previously familiar with. This 7” was recorded live at London’s Museum of Garden History Museum in May of 2009 and features two tracks that alternate between barely there drone and giant swells of sound that sometimes resemble the Italian horror movie soundtrack work of Goblin. What is most notable about the playing is that it is pretty much impossible to tell what sounds are coming from keyboards and what sounds are coming from Jeck’s turntables. Very impressive stuff. (http://www.touchmusic.org.uk)
(Chris Strunk)

Dull Thicket LP
(Ozark Level Full View)

… then we come around to the other side of the coin, the bands that probably won’t make it to the 4AD promised land, not due to their lack of ambition or ideas, but in their inability to form them into something the world might want. No, this is that sort of strummy, trainhopper brand of folk autism, with the annoying vocals and the Modest Mouse-like lisp, bashing away at acoustic guitars and cardboard box like some sort of PSP-owning Henry Flynt. Cover art is a drawing of some giant God hands trying to goatse the world, and I wouldn’t be shocked if someone listened to this then jumped off a building. Canny, ironic “childlike wonder” that will drive you nuts. WHAT A STINKER in these uncertain times amirite? (http://www.ozarklevelfullview.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Duncan Malashock
“Let’s Make Sure Everything is a Thing” b/w “Girls Collide” 7”
(Monofonus Press)

This 7” contains two tracks of detached and numb-sounding coldwave pop, most likely inspired by Blank Dogs, Cold Cave, and maybe the endless stream of minimal synth reissues from the past few years. There are some things to like about this record, such as the bouncy bass line on the A side, and the use of real drums on one side of the record, which is unusual for this sub genre. However, while Malashock is far from the worst of these acts to wash up over the past two years, these songs aren’t strong enough to make it really stand out from the pack either. Like, 90% of records being made today, it’s just barely OK. If you are wondering who the worst cold wave minimal synth pop act of the past two years is, I’d say it’s a toss-up between CCCandy or Ghoul Poon. (http://monofonuspress.com)
(Chris Strunk)

“Good Parts” b/w “By Halves” 7”
(Oh Wow)

Part of a growing “don’t give a fuck” pop renaissance going on in NYC right now, bands that will happily slop it up in pursuit of a good time. Liam from Cause Co-Motion and Dan from Oxford Collapse team up with a guy named Chuk, and the three of them, all deciding to play instruments they weren’t proficient at for this band, put their spin on the sort of off-the-rails-yet-matter-of-fact swirling sound that the Happy Mondays once captured. They’re doing it within their own skill set (for now) but that whistle blowing in “Good Parts,” the falling asleep vocals on “By Halves,” and the big E on the cover tell me that McDonalds – wow, that name; hope it’s a tribute to the brothers Steve and Jeff – is about six months away from some serious binky gnawing. Good luck getting a copy of this record! (http://ohwwohww.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Medicine and Duty
Sunken Carnival LP
(Foolproof Projects)

British trio of drums, synths, and samples that provides a stern and vivid counterpoint to the G-funk/stoner electro music I was exposed to earlier. The drummer lays down an engaging, sometimes treated, sometimes syncopated beat, while the synth players jump all around the beat with staccato fuzz bursts, ring mod abuse, sharp and forceful execution, and the sort of breathless, anxious vibe that This Heat so carefully perfected. Some tracks work better than others (the dub-facing “Dredging Eastwards” seems to have great potential in the comedown part of a DJ set before things get really strange) but there’s enough solid ideas and believability in what they do to bolster their musically ambitious agenda. Bright and immediate, and worthy of greater attention. (http://www.foolproofprojects.co.uk)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mauser O.K. 7” EP

German project Metabolismus has quietly released a string of mind-melters on and off since the ‘90s, both here and abroad, but if you weren’t looking for them actively, they would have easily slipped by. The product of large ensemble improvisation and playing, they were one of the first outfits to recognize and recontextualize the new age/new wave pioneers in German music, and attempt to force those sounds into the decade using the same tools of reason and interplay as a group like Faust might have. To put it another way, we get a lot of drone records in over here, but to receive one with a fraction of the care, beauty, skill and taste as their “Les Automates Spirituels” off their Blackjack LP Terra Incognita would be highly unlikely, because said musicians would probably have to cross the table into jazz, discipline, physical dexterity … while I can get away without shaming the present any further, it’s safe to say, these folks thought of it before you, and the flag they planted will never be uprooted from the minds of those who got to experience them. And that’s just on one facet of their sound. Mauser O.K. comes after a long dormancy period (there was a single on The Social Registry released in late ‘07 or early ‘08, but not much else), and offers four tracks spanning fifteen years of activity. “Carousel” offers some casual approach demo button accompaniment, drifting away from the Casio backbeat into its own alternate orbits. They cover “Do They Owe Us a Living” by Crass, in the lounge/French chanteur-chanteuse style that Nouvelle Vague up and ran with, but keep more of a mystery about their approach and the read itself. “Asthma Game” ups the tension of their reed-driven Krautrock throbber into a weird, taut space, the open-range bassline providing a jump-off point for all sorts of vocal arrangements, surprise percussion and swarming elements – sometimes I wish a band like the Ex could roll back this deep and see what effect it might have, only I realize that means I’d want more Metabolismus. Closer “Supergenug” sounds like a cross between a bearded German Carl Sagan special on space and the theme to “TJ Hooker,” and takes you roughly to the intersection of both. The jumpoff point for this band is pretty far from here, so if you are interested enough, get in the water and start investigating their back catalog, most of which is still readily available from the places that would stock such forward-thinking product. It’s time to figure out why a few thousand people think this band is special enough to champion. 500 copies. (http://www.amishrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Derek Monypeny
Don’t Bring Me Down, Bruce LP

Meditations for oud, an instrument tuned to Eastern sounds, to the point where it sounds easier and more fun to just go with it rather than push it into a Western songwriting context. Derek Monypeny, who named a previous project Derek Monypeny Parties Hard, is in more of a contemplative mode here, with some spare, folk-inspired compositions on the acoustic side of this LP. These tracks are fine, but when he plugs in an applies some reverb/wah effects to the longer pieces on side B, the record’s eternal gaze widens, a serene and cosmic sea of placidity and tension in their battle for the psyche. Late late night burner here, be sure to blow out the candles before you achieve total consciousness. (http://raheemrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Old Time Relijun
Sabretooth Tyger 7” EP
(Northern Spy)

Notable for not just irritating the right people, but for gratingly insufferable childrens’ behavior that separates the honest from the pretentious. OTR cherry-pick the most obnoxious elements from sources unified by their uncanny ability to turn a listener who should know better into a pretentious, dishonest horse’s arse, like Tom Waits, or the gospel music that has driven the most recent infiltration of slumming. Then those elements are terminally poisoned by a persistent drive to hit many of the for-the-sake-of-it buttons. The finished product is one of the more venerable, quizzically-enjoyed, and ultimate examples of the most severe offense in any form of art: trying too hard. (http://northern-spy.com)
(Andrew Earles)

The Part Five
Tightener LP
(Cardboard Sangria)

Part of me thinks that by now, there are probably enough people who’ve taken in and enjoyed the screenprinting efforts of Midwestern artisans, particularly in their relation for designing posters/setting the aesthetic level for indie rock, that they have an idea of what their record/gig flyers should look like first, and a sound second. The Part Five, from Chicago itself, has this written all over them – a handsome, cartoony, personal silkscreened jacket houses the sort of average faceless enthusiastic meaningless rock that’s been opening for other bands for YEARS. What do you do during the set of a band like this? Watch them? 200 numbered copies, oof. (http://cardboardsangria.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rake Kash
Herr Tambourine Mann one-sided 12” EP
(Chthonic/Gertrude Tapes)

Singer-songwriter Lonnie Eugene Methe (we covered a 7” some time back) returns with a different project, very much in line with the Simon Henneman LP reviewed here, only much more rough-hewn and cobbled together. That’s not necessarily bad, and I suppose I’d rather take a bunch of musicians trying to make music for movies instead of commercials, which seems to be a strong narrative theme right now. Mostly keyboard-based, there’s some real feeling going on in here, and some decent arrangements to boot. There’s also some too-quirky crap like the title track, and altogether this plays like a demo reel for someone looking to break into the creative side of straight-to-Netflix endeavors, but there can be good things in that path. 100 numbered copies, paste-on sleeve. (http://chthonicrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rape Faction
Gone Forever LP
(Skrot Up)

No amount of mansplaining is going to dig men who deign to name their musical outlet “Rape Faction” out of the karmic hole they’ve fracked themselves down. That the three Montreal residents who look up at us from all the way down there can make really dark rock with shoegaze and death-folk relevance, saturated with noise and suffocatingly narcotic atmosphere is all the more troubling. What were they expecting to accomplish, other than triggering and offending people who want to discover new music? Their sound is impressive but please have a good long think, with your big brain, about how little thought has gone into the more obvious aspects of the band. (http://skrotup.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sands Hollow
“Watch Yourself” b/w “The River’s Ridge” 7”
(Monofonus Press)

Sands Hollow is an Austin folk/indie-pop duo who have put together a very nice single. “Watch Yourself” has nervous new wave energy to it akin to the Feelies or Before Hollywood-era Go-Betweens, with a great keyboard hook on the chorus. “The River’s Ridge” has more of a laid back and rolling feel to it, and makes great use of some psychedelic backwards guitar effects. It sounds like sitting in the park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Both songs are of high quality, and I look forward to this band’s LP. Glancing at their website it looks like the Monofonus Press label/publisher is doing some great work in Austin. I tip my hat. (http://monofonuspress.com)
(Chris Strunk)

The Shapers
“Virginia Reel” b/w “Happy Birthday Pollywog” 7”

This is a frustrating record to review because the Shapers are almost there, but not quite. This Chicago band plays bass heavy post punk verging on noise rock and have the “sound” down pat, but there is too much going on in their songs. Their arrangements are very busy and the different parts of their songs feel awkward sitting next to each other. “Happy Birthday Pollywog” chugs along at mid-tempo until it falls into a really long build up that just doesn’t work. “Virginia Reel” starts with just a bass and drum rhythm and then adds too many layers and what sounds like a siren in the second half of the song. With some working over of their songwriting process, the Shapers could make good records, but unfortunately, this isn’t a good record. Better luck next time. (http://www.whistlerchicago.com)
(Chris Strunk)

Sharp Ends
Broadview Pressure Test 7” EP
(Mammoth Cave)

Please think about the approximate number of worthless “is-what-it-is” bands choking the demographic playground where I have been sticking my ears and nose since the world was without responsibility. By virtue of the fact that you are simply reading this, there should be no question as to what demographic playground I toss copious reference towards. Are you thinking about it? That’s some “Nurse, please fetch my musket and position it under my chin” shit there, buddy-boy, so I always hate to see an inspired, on-the-level band break-up, namely when five or more groups of unapologetic flip-flop enthusiasts or T.A.O.A.O.-sufferers are waiting to overflow the tiny cultural pockmark left by the ones with potential. Sharp Ends had potential. Perhaps it was not the sort of prescient mind-shattering as delivered by The Young or Dimples, but it was potential nonetheless. Sure, this final release compiles some below-the-cutting-room-floor recordings, with all four somehow bled of any and all dynamics by the nature of origin (practice tapes, live performances recorded from the next block). But the goods will be recognized by anyone privy to the rest of this band’s tiny discography. Sharp Ends was proof that source material, especially concerns about its over-usage, means very little if the band hits that intangible sweet spot between “great” and “untouchable” while in the act of appropriation. In truth, a garage-mucked Fugazi doesn’t really have a discernable precedent, but that element is just subtle enough to allow hypothetical confusion re: this band’s agenda and any of the duh-zillion male models who used the first half of the ‘00s to apply rock to the aesthetic menu while initiating a soon-to-fail plan of pie-in-the-sky world domination minus those troubling “hard work” or “several shit-eating years” obstructions flattened by more relevant forbearers. Then again, this band was just good enough to create a distraction from such cynical nit-pickery. White vinyl, 300 copies. (http://mammothcave.tumblr.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Michigan Haters LP

For most of 2002 I worked retail in New York City with the guitarist of Sightings, Mark Morgan, as my manager. Michigan Haters came out that year on CD, courtesy of Igor, another co-worker of ours. It’s an accurate representation of what the typical work day felt like for me after 9/11; unreasonable demands, suffocating atmosphere, no sympathy, cheap highs, toxic fumes, high volume, low pay, social life winnowing away in a cyclone of gossip and desperation. These were some of the most uncertain and troubled days of my life, so listening to a record like Michigan Haters sort of rips off the Band-Aid before it gives me a chance to evaluate what’s going on inside. Sightings had not yet put the drum pads and noise triggers to use, nor had they determined how to obliterate the dynamics of a rock trio down to the dot matrix wasps’ nest found on last year’s City of Straw. There is somewhat of a system here but the music sounds like one huge, uncontrollable tantrum, flashed at points with man-2 man syncopated rumble (“Chili Dog,” an apt name to describe the grossness of the aesthetic on offer here) but mostly focused on pain and pain alone. Later efforts would find the group much more skilled at applying the tension they’re known for, but at this point they play like they were woodshedding in the harshest conditions they could make for themselves, trying to find songs underneath metric tons of process and scrap metal. It borders industrial music at points, noise at others, but it is alive second, unpredictable first, and unlike any of the NYC records of its time or place – even their own. Different times, I suppose. A vinyl pressing of this back then would have been akin to lighting $4000 on fire. Maybe it still is, but it’s good that it happened. (http://www.s-srecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
“Must Be Blind” b/w “Life in Muscle” 10”
(Drag City)

Two new ones from the Superwolf, doing tit-for-tat on music and lyrics. “Must Be Blind” opens in as much of an “aw shucks” country mode as Palace could ever extend to, but develops into something simple and elegant, framing the doubts our narrator croons about with compassion and grace. “Life in Muscle” kinda blows it away on all fronts, though, Sweeney’s songwriting chops focused into a wrenching austerity with soulful flourish and a truly exciting build-up in the chorus. Despite being highly structured, these guys and their band have figured out how to make people forget about that, masking the complexity in the throes of emotional release. I don’t really listen to Palace that often, but I really liked what these two did together on Superwolf and I’m thrilled that it’s continuing. Not sure why this is a 10” as both songs are under four minutes long, but there you go. It’ll stand out. (http://www.dragcity.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Trophy Wife
s/t 7” EP
(Private Leisure Industries)

I’d like to schedule a clandestine meeting with the divorced garage (the thing attached to your house, not the expired genre term) tinkerer responsible for the time machine that only travels back to the precise points in time when bands form and when other bands breakup. The latter is for more advanced program coordinators and persuasive communicators, as it’s much harder to keep a band from breaking up than it is to keep one from forming in the first place. I’m losing the plot … so I’d find this tinkerer-genius, and we’d program the machine to take me back to the exact time and place in which the ladies of CocoRosie were think-tanking their musical creation. So what do I do? Leave every season of “Law and Order” on their doorstep so they become useless? Cut the water to the apartment so they can’t draw that fucking bath? I’ll just have to figure out a way to sabotage their relationship so they can’t stand being in the same room long before the first unfortunate forest nymph impersonations are anywhere close to being recorded. I would return to present day a grassroots folk hero, reviewing another record instead of Trophy Wife’s awful debut single on this very day … what? You mean I have to go all the way back in time to Dame Darcy? I will once again reference my two-word review of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto: “No thank-o.” (http://www.privateleisure.org)
(Andrew Earles)

Violent Students
Party Addiction LP

Churning nausea from the basements of Philly. People got pretty stoked on the improv/Drunks with Guns activity that came out of earlier releases, but this one takes it a bit further and murkier than it had been. Lea Cho from Blues Control sits in for Max Milgram, joining Father John Sharkey III and funnyman Richard Charles in an attempt to lower property values across an entire part of town. The live side (recorded at their final performance from somewhere in the room) ends with a take on the Cro-Mags’ “Seekers of the Truth” and the B-side lumbers along like a washing machine full of wet cement on spin cycle. If you’ve ever taken a dump so big that it wouldn’t flush, you know what this record is about. A real brownout from some first-class passengers – with mileage upgrades of course. (http://testostertunes.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Samuel Locke Ward and the Boo Hoos/Mumford’s
split 7” EP

Yeesh. Kind of a rough record here. Two Iowa acts share a 7” with an ugly photocopied cover with art that looks like it was clipped out of children’s picture books. Samuel Locke Ward and the Boo Hoos play silly somewhat melodic lo fi slop rock that is sort of along the lines of R. Stevie Moore, if you removed his knack for odd hooks. Mumford’s (with an apostrophe) are an acoustic duo who fare a bit better the Boo Hoos but are unremarkable and have no hooks at all. This music is much more suited to Bandcamp and Myspace pages than vinyl. (http://samuellockeward.blogspot.com)
(Chris Strunk)

White Lung
It’s the Evil LP

First highlighted in these pages by Talya Cooper in her 2010 roundup. Three women and one man from Vancouver, BC tear back into the confrontational, maximalist space of ‘90s political punk, like some bizarre and appealing combination of the Party of Helicopters with Spitboy. Guitarist Kenny has the sort of style on guitar where he’s tying his fretboard fingers into square knots, running quick patterns to stunning effect, while vocalist Mish makes Anglophilic pronouncements over top, authoritative and clear, cutting through the aggressive din behind her. Drummer Anne-Marie and bassist Grady keep the speed high and balance the tension in the guitar playing. Sorry for such a clinical description – very MRR-like, I know – but we’re dealing with a band that plays in one mode only, and that mode happens to be in/around punk. Safe to say that if you like any of the ideas mentioned here, you’ll like this album as well. I really enjoy it; they sound like they are reclaiming the heart of the ‘90s youth, sixteen or seventeen years after. Thoroughly great. (http://www.derangedrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
Portable Shrines Magic Sound Theater Vol. I 2xLP
(Translinguistic Other)

So as not to misrepresent them, Portable Shrines is “a small group of musicians and artists in Seattle, Washington, USA dedicated to the advancement of psychedelic causes in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.” Let me stop you right there and mention that, if you’re the type of person who needs to have everything ever recorded by the band Kinski, there’s one of their songs on here. Likewise with AFCGT, that A Frames/Climax Golden Twins superunit, or Master Musicians of Bukkake. It is hard to fathom that groups like these have much in common with the garden variety fake psych that pollutes about half of this collection, obscuring worthy acts like noiseniks A Story of Rats with manicured, insincere pageantry. Aside from the mentions above, the rest falls into supremo YBN terrain, so dig out those jester shoes and get weird, man. I’m really not sure how anyone listens to that Prince Rama band unless they are held hostage by a psychic back spasm or something, and there are enough examples of how not to do it (blind allegiance to only one band or sound, overcompensation by trying way too hard to play something that should just come out naturally). Saw a bunch of these clogging up a local Record Store Day bin, which is doubly unfortunate, as non-returnable, bulky double LPs are going to drag down the futures of independent record stores all over the country, because someone thought putting together a non-returnable, semi-regional rock compilation LP with a bunch of unknowns on it was ever a great idea. Still, everything on here is more psychedelic than the Black Angels, so there you go. 1000 copies (ouch), thick gatefold, heavyweight vinyl. (http://records.translinguisticother.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
Proximity One (Narrative of a City) LP

DaM-Funk, TOKiMONSTA, Daedalus, Teebs and a host of other producer types pay tribute to Los Angeles with a collection of tracks that sound like Adult Swim bumper music. That’s just how it go, I guess. If you love the sound of aquarium splashing, finger snaps and large, formless bass with vocal samples distended behind it, have I got a record for you. (http://proximalrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
Said I Had a Vision: Songs & Labels of David Lee LP
(Paradise of Bachelors)

Applying a Numero Group-like presentation onto the regional music of North Carolina, the Paradise of Bachelors label gives us a collection of records made possible, in one form or another, by David Lee. Lee spent most of his life as a songwriter, label owner, guitarist, arranger, record store owner and musical equipment renter-outer, making possible the proliferation of urban and regional sounds in Shelby, NC. The collection focuses on works that he wrote, produced, and/or played on; all of which were released on one of his labels (Impel, Washington Sound, and SCOP) between the early ‘60s and the late ‘80s, so genre be damned. There are R&B instrumentals, gospel, funk, vocal groups, soul ballads, even country, most of it of decent quality and memorable tune (particularly the Ann Sexton tracks, likely the most familiar to anyone hunting this thing down). Lee’s story might be a tad bit more interesting than some of the selections on hand – there seems to be a sort of “regional response” to whatever was going on at the time, and few of the songs seem out of joint with their year of release, for better or worse. But the story is enough, in this case, to win me over. Nice job. 2nd pressing of 500 copies, with a lengthy booklet and MP3 download code. (http://www.paradiseofbachelors.com)
(Doug Mosurock)


Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) pressed on any size of vinyl. We 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.

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:

Doug Mosurock
PO Box 3087
New York, NY 10185-3087

Records need to be shipped securely in sturdy mailing materials and marked FRAGILE because the post office will destroy them otherwise.

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