Still Single Vol. 1, No. 11
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 15th of each month to qualify for the next installment of this column.
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This column runs the last week of every month on Dusted (give or take). Its success depends on you sending in singles for review.
Please continue to send awesome records to Still Single, regardless of the genre. If it’s good, we can recognize it.
Air Conditioning returns FRESH FOR ’06 YOU SUCKAZ with two new tracks. “Blue Star Death” is the harsh one, continuing with their streak of rock-trio-as-stadium-sized-noise-scrape band, falling in step with an almost motorik pulse and simply cutting out at the end. Like a Test Dept performance inside your reproductive organs, hammering away at your genetic future like so many rusty cars. Beat that retreat for a while. “Unborn Widow” pulls the mics back and shows the band as a fiercely gut-rhythm noise rock trio akin to Sightings or Arab on Radar in the approach, all huge bass wrangling, cyclic drumming, blown-out screaming and guitar jags dripping with life. Karate champ. Watch out for the ending because they move into WWE arcade mode. Meanwhile, Providence’s Landed reconvenes for the first time in five years with a full side of mutation entitled “Fuck Seat Belts, Fuck Ralph Nader.” Back before some of you were really cognizant of this crazy noise/chaos music thing as it exists now, there was the ‘90s, and there was Landed. I saw them twice “in the day” as it were. The first time was completely alien of an experience, and frontman Dan St. Jacques did a header down three flights of stairs, got up, did the worm, and talked to people outside drinking coffee as his band played upstairs without him. The second time was a fuller lineup, with both St. Jacques and John Dwyer on vocals, some sort of gas-powered instrument of destruction fired up, and activities too numerous and damning to repeat (here’s a hint: someone came); all of us in the room with them pinned ourselves to the walls, terrified to step forward and get in their way. It was so awesome. One of those reality TV shows was going to do a feature on the band, where St. Jacques set himself on fire and pulled a stack of amps on top of him to put it out. That’s danger, and yet we made our way through it because these guys know how to control the chaos. The track here builds from a four-note ascending plod into gamma-Lightning Bolt sweepstake pound, but does so in so much of a hypnotic, mantra-like way that none of it seems obvious, unless you wanna be the kind of asshole who nitpicks this sort of thing. It plays out like engaging, constructive free jazz in a way. Great fuckin’ release, dudes. Edition of 225 in a silkscreened chipboard sleeve.
Copy Cat 12” EP
Man, is it Back in the Day month over at Bpitch or something? Andersson comes off with a simple, solid tech-house offering with “The Other Day,” with an unwavering three-note bassline and some portamento scale slides, and then … nothing. Just cuts off. Hm. Sounds ‘90s, and in a really pedestrian way. B-side wins again, though … “Plan Delux” gets queasy on the acid-house, all rubbery bass, bendy synths and tweezy harmonic stabs. Sounds ‘90s, and in a really hot, let’s screw kinda way. Again, the track … just … stops. Trainwreckers beware. Title track is fatter acid, not quite as satisfying as the former until about the halfway mark, where it gets completely mental with the bassline and jumps all over the place. A massive joint to get the party rollin’ stupid. Fun times from Andersson, who rarely disappoints, and who’s the most versatile artist on the Bpitch roster next to Kiki and Ms. Allien herself.
Berlin, Montreal, Tel Aviv 12” EP
Three live recordings here, done in the cities as specified on the label. How many live techno recordings can you say you’ve heard? Tough to say if these were composed live or just pumped out that way in the club, but “Berlin” is a monster of angst and ennui, rapidly racing through an off-kilter beat under a persistent arpeggiated bass line that becomes reflex blue and streaked with tears. Technoweltschmerz. Dig it, this is great; the emotion of the track is counterbalanced by its relentless drive. “Montreal” is heavy on the syncopation and squelch, a more straightahead stainless steel rager, catching itself up on 1/64th beats at the end of every fourth measure in the cheekiest way imaginable. “Tel Aviv” is the loosest track here, with a repetitive melody in structure and usage, and fairly banging beats to carry it along. Yet another triumph for Apparat, who’s proven his worth in both avid and reticent electronic scenarios, with great results throughout.
From London with Love 12” EP
New Bpitch signing from London, following the label’s great EP by the MFA last year. “Twenty Nine” is a classic, almost atypical Bpitch track, one that hasn’t forgotten the rave but isn’t afraid of new developments in non-douchebag dance technologies, either. It’s cold, pulsing, and immense, pushing the Berlin agenda of hard and fast with simple, emotive melodies, but when the dub/stutter bomb drops in the break, look out. All this thing needs is an air raid siren! Pleasing end to this too, with three buzing planes of synth tones falling onto one another. “Together” is more restrained, with a two-note poppy bass line and careful melodic sashaying atop. “Rock N Roller” is almost EBM gone schaeffel-beat; totalitarian dark pound that dates itself a bit more than it needs to. This record sounds four years old, and that’s kind of a shame, because back then it would have been revolutionary.
The Bug feat. Warrior Queen
“Dem a Bomb We” b/w “Dem Version” 7”
Is The Bug softening up? “Dem a Bomb We” would surely indicate that, dialed down significantly from that Pressure album from a few years back. Warrior Queen talks about “some motherfuckers” before things kick in on a heavy contra digital dancehall kick, but not the speaker shredder one would anticipate. But it’s redeemed on the flip, the version carrying a hail of air raid sirens, bigger bass, alarm synths, Bush “WMD” samples, and a more pronounced stomp on the rhythm. Fuckin’ hard as hell. Righteous.
“Dog” b/w “Make My Day” 7”
Great budget DIY punk/twang outfit from France, coming somewhere in between traditional French pop a la Dutronc or Nino Ferrer, the electro-leanings of countrymates Volt or Metal Urbain, and the give-a-fuck swagger of the Country Teasers or the Fall. “Dog” is a bad seeded gem, total claustrophobic madness as the Crampsian riff rises and falls, and restless vocals spit out something about dogs, love and “taking you to my mum’s.” No reason to question this one, because what would one ask other than “why?” It’s great pop and it doesn’t need a reason to work; it just does. “Make My Day” is calmer, more repetitive, gets its money’s worth out of three chords even though it’ll probably wear you out in the process. Whatever, I can’t get over how “Dog” is now completely lodged inside my head and refuses to come out. Big winner here.
“Gimme Cigarette” b/w “Oh! Oh! Oh!” 7”
Reissue of a brilliant 1978 new wave/glam single from this L.A. project, coming off like a punked-up, pomped-out Sparks. Vocals are sung in falsetto and really threw me off the first time I heard it, but I’m getting used to it. It’s tough to believe, but those vocals belonged to Philo Cramer, who would later join Fear. If you heard this, you’d know why that seems so hard to believe. “Gimme Cigarette” has some Germanic synth drama happening before the song turns neatly anthemic. Quite memorable, fun, goofy and distinctly of its time. “Oh! Oh! Oh!” is even stranger, a girl group sound with bubbly hook and a fairly discomforting vibe that sounds like it could have come off any mid-70s Sparks effort. The band was actually believed to be Sparks recording under a different name for a while. Fun stuff.
”Missing Dick” b/w “By the Door” 7”
“Missing Dick” appears here in a different version than on this band’s Nevermind album, and it’s appreciably different enough to warrant its appearance on a single. It’s a side of Clockcleaner that you probably won’t see anymore: clear, rickety, more direct, less dominated by Sharkey’s delay pedal abuse and splintery guitar sound (though it’s still here, it’s not in abundance). The song? Fucking great! With almost a garagey sort of treble-shake to it, it’s like the “Back from the Grave” take on the band’s dirgey, bleary-eyed punk/noise sound. They tear into the Crucifucks’ circus stomp “By the Door” on the flip, and as expected, any band that would cover the Crucifucks in 2006 is going at it like they mean it. The edges are all torn, shredded and bleeding, and the distastefulness of it all is put on a pedestal, like shit on the floor. Clockcleaner, as you should know, are from Philly, and one of the most caustic, fucked up sounding bands around right now; less an embrace of ‘90s noise rock and directionless ‘80s drug-punk and more a revitalization of said scenes. Too much for the indie rocker asshole, it seems like garage punk fans and labels (the next EP’s on Big Neck) are embracing them now. If they start wearing pompadours and getting 8-ball tattoos, though, I’ll kick their teeth in. Edition of 500, 100 with handmade sleeves, and a spray-painted, numbered test pressing run of 21 for real scumbags to covet.
Beautiful Despair 12” EP
(What’s Your Rupture?)
Over the last decade, London’s Comet Gain have proven themselves to be an outfit of brilliant flashes; if not an entirely consistent one, in the rediscovery of ‘60s Brill building pop kidnapped by ‘90s DIY kids in love with that they could not have. “Mainlining Mystery (Finchley Road),” written in part as an ode to resurfaced Television Personality hero Dan Treacy and the lost bodies and efforts of those like him, reminds us all that they’re not lost so long as we remember. It also works as an exegesis of the band’s career in and of itself, and many others like them. “The song we wrote today existed yesterday/And will always sound the same,” guest vocalist Jon Slade intones over a hypnotic, hushed 3 A.M. “Sister Ray” vibe. Everything Comet Gain has done up to now is owned up for here, in one extended elegy to our peppermint scene. For anyone who’s ever gotten lost in underground music, this one’s for you, a dour “History Lesson, Part II” for a different but equally monumental time, keeping mixtapes and shy, defiant first kisses alive for the next generation as it collapses into detuned synth heartstoppage. “Beautiful Despair” gets serious and despondent over slashing “King and Country”/Swell Maps-ian pouty determination, raggedly telling the same tale lyrically and dimensionally. It’s one of the best singles they’ve had in a long time. The short, positive “Never Die” follows, warmly reassuring that everything will be OK. Probably the most serious and determined Comet Gain release, ever, and a high water mark for their career – higher than Realistes, even, in terms of song success ratio. This may not come as a shock to you, but here is yet another completely brilliant and unstoppable What’s Your Rupture release, and Kev’s winning streak shows no signs of being over. This one might actually be the best yet. TELL ME ABOUT IT. Comes wrapped in a two-color poster sleeve. Absolutely positively a must-own.
New Animal Collective-approved three girl rhomboid; a very cautious, meticulous, clean sound of dreams and the abstract turned organized, with a thousand surfaces glistening in the light. “Antelope Attack” rolls from organized, seated strictures into yowling down dissonant roads, to a crystalline, almost hymnal approach, never sitting still for too long in one place. The twin guitar playing here never allows for leads or solos but is completely engrossing to listen to, as it wraps around itself into twin Gordian knots. Adding chamber music aspects to the haunted beauty of LiliPUT circa Some Songs, it’ll appeal to a lot of folks and confuse the rest, but it’s never anything less than engaging. B-side “Braided Metal” is more deliberate, working in forms not unlike Sonic Youth’s mid-‘80s output but more fluid and mannered, as the guitars needle all around one another and the piano that chimes in mellifluous melodic passages of despair and hope. So beautiful.
“Wait” + 3 7” EP
S-S has somehow become America’s home for below-ground French punk rock, which is cool. Frustration follows up last year’s 12” with another take on a Joy Division fixation and a simple, rigid style of colder punk/new wave sound, which they build into something maddeningly strict. Their namesake is what I’m feeling; I hate that this guy has to sing like Ian Curtis, and that these songs start out so ill-conceived and lopsided, with really pedestrian drum breaks and not the best sense of arrangement. Only “Faster” breaks rank, with a good bit of screamin’ and a synth backbone to offset how they walk in line. “Premises” is a good one as well, as it speeds things up and gets them into a frenzy that overtakes the stiffness of the A-side.
(Kick n Punch)
“Long Island” b/w “Supersyn” 7”
Words have been written in this column and elsewhere about the state of punk rock in today’s world; its merits and shortcomings, what rates versus what rots. Across the board, the enlightened understand that to exist as a band in such a genre, or any other, is pretty far removed from ruling it, from defining it. Intangible as it may look at the outset, really all you need is the positive outlook, the passion, the skill – and most importantly, the taste – to make it happen. This is nothing you’d need to explain to Gorilla Angreb, a Danish quartet stripped down into the basic roles of a band (singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer) and have the chemistry to rock with wild abandon in a very specific mode. On the “Long Island” single, that mode is melodically frumpy ‘80s US college rock, with two songs that need only an English lyrical transfusion to place them squarely in the camp of bands like Scrawl, Great Plains, or a handful of other Midwestern hopefuls. On Bedre Tider, however, they kick into a world left by the hotwired rockabilly punk of X, the angry authority of the Avengers, and the proper paranoia of Penetration. Tall orders, all, to be sure, but the band remains fervently true to the cause, bashing out extremely hectic, close, and memorable punk rock in styles totally removed from modern influence. Bands from Tilt to Discount have attempted this in the ‘90s, and fell under the wake of too much sun, sand, and surf, but Gorilla Angreb locks into what made the originals so vital for their respective times and places, and brings that vitality to the present day. Hearing the racing, bar-chorded hook to “Timen Er Kommet” nearly flying off the tracks amidst Mai and Peter’s co-ed yowling, or the stiff little chorus of the title track barreling in, are just the kind of thrills that music like theirs has been sorely lacking for so long. Exciting, entertaining and important music, because their passion makes us feel like we’re discovering something new every time we hear it. Gorilla Angreb is about to embark on an East Coast US tour, playing all sorts of basements and all-ages venues. You would be a dope to miss them. “Long Island” 7” has sold through two pressings of 500; check distros in this country and elsewhere. Bedre Tider is still in print, though probably not for too much longer. You’ll have to do some searching for these records, but they are so worth it.
Shit, J Church is still around? This must be their 179th record, and not much has changed -- still pop-punk, still capable, still somewhat memorable. We have a eulogy for Pier Paolo Pasolini called, unsurprisingly, “Who Killed Pasolini?” – the Yummy Fur did it better on “Republic of Salo” but that’s neither here nor there. Oh, they also cover “Psycho Mafia” by the Fall. Lance Hahn is not the man who should be singing this song. They Americanize it, they J Church it up … what, that’s what this band does. Hopefully some kid gets hold of this and discovers the original. Stepping stones, one at a time. Plungers are Japanese/American punk rock, nothing but three chords and some pop to along with it. “Lost City Lover” is kind of monotonous, but their cover of Irma Thomas’ “Breakaway” is inspired and fun-loving, giving all that buzzsaw guitar something worthwhile to hang off of.
Twinewheel 12” EP
Winningly gentle, adventurous experiments in scape and shift, apparently cobbled from previous releases and outtakes from the past decade of recording (and releases on Thalassa, Room Tone and most recently, Ghostly International). Kiln’s music, made by a trio of multi-instrumentalists working with digital and tangible tools, is new to me, but it doesn’t feel that way: it supercedes labels like “post-rock” or “Tortoise-esque” or “bespectacled” by virtue of how much ground these tracks cover, genre-wise and within the listener’s imagination. Elements of field recording, shoegaze, experimental composition and jazz ebb and flow throughout these eight clear instrumental selections. The best selections here spread out organically, with full, brushed drum washes and the vastness of the night sky collapsed into the space of one’s bedroom ceiling, much in the same way that Talk Talk accomplished the feat on Laughing Stock. The guy who runs this label got sour over a harsh review I dealt out earlier, but sent this along anyway. I’m very happy he did. Numbered edition of 500 (100 on ginger-ale clear vinyl).
Hello Mom! The Remixes 12” EP
They may be Bpitch’s party crew, but Modeselektor has had quite a bit to answer for as of late, what with the lack of focus on Hello Mom! And now these dry, dated remixes. Sleeparchive cross the 10 minute mark with their take on “Dancing Box,” obliterating the elastic funk and TTC’s rhymes of the original in favor of stormtrooper mosh, dark and overwhelming, and fairly overdone. “Silkion” gets two remixes here, one by Siriusmo, who unfortunately untangles the fuzzy, Middle Eastern M.I.A. vibe of the original, and a more redeeming grime remix by somebody that couldn’t be contractually represented here. (I’m guessing it’s Kano). Dabrye takes a crack at “Fake Emotion” and adds stronger bass and more dub elements to the already dubbed-out track. This one’s about 50/50. Hmm.
Ready to Shake! 12” EP
Three kids from Pittsburgh fuggin’ wreck the joint. 12 songs, 45 RPMs, total Devil Dogs worship – breakneck garage-punk recorded super in-the-red scuzz mode for maximum ugh; ‘50s rock on crank, with gruff vocals and enough energy to pull it all off. Crazy, dumb fun that demands you pay attention. Good shit! 200 on yellow vinyl, and the rest on black. Sweet cover of “Lights Out” by the Angry Samoans, too.
The Ratchets/The Pervz
(Pirates Press Records)
The Ratchets are working in a nostalgic, polished punk mode with the breathy vocals of a Blake Schwartzenbach, and the clean stylings of the Clash circa Give ‘Em Enough Rope or even Rancid. It’s that sorta thing; Brit-styled punk rock that’s good for what it is. At no point did I want to turn this off, and while I may not come back to their two tracks here, it’s not without its charms. The Pervz kick into super high gear, sounding like Gaunt or the New Bomb Turks in their punk rock phase, a laissez-faire stare between its give-a-fuck lyrics and its impassioned delivery. The faux-Brit intonation is the only thing really holding it back. But whatever, this is fine, no complaints here. My copy came on super-cool three-color vinyl (black, orange and clear red, cut like a pizza).
Redux 12” EP
Such a divisive music, breakcore is. It’s where the energy of the rave went, along with all the plusses and minuses of such a statement might evoke. It’s also where that movement’s sense of humor went, the one that said gabber was too slow, and also not hard enough. That said, those hung up on self-image and peer impression loathe this music and those who support it. That really bristles me. It’s not like breakcore has a pacifier attached to a glowstick up its ass. It’s an exaggeration of terms, to be sure, and it all but obliterates the ability to think, talk, or exist. If you’re not going to dance to it, this is the kind of sound that you either have to let win or turn off. Such totality of sound and purpose wins my respect alone, and that the music is diversified with the roughness of dancehall and the spray paint smell of hip-hop only sweetens the pot. Rotator’s from France and been at the breaks for some time. This 12” comprises his 2001 single for Broklyn Beats plus three new tracks, all skillfully built around familiar samples and logical, pleasing shifts in tempo and intensity. Of these selections, I was partial to “Meloko Dolomo,” suffused with Bernard Hermann-esque cinemas of strings and loaded down with soundbites and blistering rhythmic intensity.
Gleich Heilt Gleich 7” EP
Vinyl reissue of this Pink Skulls CDR, recorded in 2001 and long since unavailable. It’s Glenn Donaldson and a handful of other Jewelled Antler collective members (Thuja, Skygreen Leopards, Mirza, etc.), all playing lo-fi fake early ‘80s German DIY punk/noise/pop under pseudonyms and fronted by a German guy by the name of “Bunker Wolf.” Seven fractious, frenzied bursts here, dolled up in exactly the right way to emulate the past. To me it sounds like the Dead C. circa Vs. Sebadoh, a band at the snapping point, all trashed out and trying to tear the skies down. Pretty awesome, and gets better with repeat listens. Numbered edition of 300.
By Doug Mosurock