Still Single: Vol. 2, No. 7.5
Yours must be a single pressed on any size of vinyl. CD-Rs of singles will not be reviewed; they will be destroyed. We need the artifact here with original artwork, not some duplicate/digital copy. Only records released within the past six months will qualify for a review.
Singles must be postmarked by the 20th of each month to qualify for the next installment of this column.
ANY genre of music will do – don’t hesitate to send punk, hardcore, metal, goth, pop, rock, country, hip hop, electronic, experimental, dub and reggae … all genres accepted and welcome.
Information on your pressing (quantity pressed, color vinyl, etc.) should be included if at all possible.
Submissions can be sent to:
Records need to be shipped securely in sturdy mailing materials and marked FRAGILE because the post office will destroy them otherwise.
Diverse, somewhat overwhelming four-song offering from Mr. Brokaw, late of a solo career following long stints in Come, Consonant, et al. “Doleful O” pushes down hard on discomforting organ tones in a simplistic, melancholy melody. “No More” juxtaposes a male cantor over a loping drum beat. “Sap,” the most arranged piece here, barely breaks a minute in length, its bittersweet melody smacking of incidental music (these are related to a soundtrack he’s working on, I’m told). “Angry O” lets us out with the same punishing organ, even more driven and distorted. I’m at a loss to determine what’s been accomplished here, other than Brokaw moving in yet another musical direction. I’m partial to 2005's Incredible Love but that’s just me. 500 copies, green vinyl.
Life’s a Dead End 7” EP
(Grave Mistake/No Way)
Six songs of tight, confident hardcore from St. Louis, MO. Cardiac Arrest sound as if it’s 1982 all over again, right down to the crisp, condensed production and the barking, militaristic vocals. They sound clean cut and like they could beat your ass, though that really remains to be seen. I’m digging it. I just did a flying jump off my bed into a pile of unfolded laundry to this record. Into its second pressing and going fast.
Pinata 7” EP
Mid-to-fast meaty hardcore from Virginia, just signed to Jade Tree. Lots of crooked/”incorrect” guitar leads, satisfyingly shouty vocals, pounding rhythm section. Strong DC influence, like a more jock-like Swiz. Is it OK to not be crazy about this? Because I’m not crazy about this. Seriously it sounds like any number of late 80s/early 90s records and such interchangeability is not my style. Shouldn’t be yours either. This one’s on white vinyl, I’m sure they’ve sold a whole bunch already.
“Alala” b/w “Odio, Odio, Odio, Sorry C.” 7”
“Alala” is one of the better CSS jams, not leaning too hard on the ironic gestures and youthful platitudes, just a nice lil rager with a catchy digital hook and lyrics which keep them at arm’s length from any would-be wolves in the audience. The flip sounds like it coulda been a demo, mostly simple guitar chords and a one-note synth line, not entirely up to snuff from what I’ve been taught to expect from this lot. It’s like L7 on album #6 and who ever wanted them to get there? Import pressing. I’m shot.
Friday Bridge/Kelly Slusher
Loner ethereal indie pop for introverts and the creeps who stalk them. Friday Bridge hails from Sweden and makes electronic pop with a groovebox and that sort of frigid self-control you’d expect from such an icy clime, bopping along with chilly New Romantic tendencies. Kelly Slusher’s on the same sort of axis, trading in the computers for guitar and simple keyboard and making a simple melody and stream of thought flourish in pink cotton candy greenhouse conditions. I haven’t heard enough of these artists to form an opinion, and this single might not be enough to go on, but if you enjoy femme twee sparklings, this will no doubt suit you.
“Too Fat Pig” b/w “Visiting Day at San Quentin” 7”
Whoa. More archival recordings at the turn of a tumultuous decade (’79 into ’80) by Sacramento’s the Geeks (another 7”, long out of print, was issued by S-S some time ago). They lived in Marin County, CA and gravitated to SF over time, growing out of a teenage garage group in 1965 through the years, embracing jazz, art, and weirdness with eight arms apiece, finally disbanding in 1983. Hearing this sort of thing now, where there’s little challenge left in music without the requisite irony to help cathode zombies “Too Fat Pig” has the distinction of being in line with box set-era Destroy All Monsters and, by proxy, about 15 years ahead of Sonic Youth ca. Experimental Jet Set. A 15-yer-old girl whispers the lyrics, strangling death, consumerist abuse, and the oft-mentioned “Twinkie Defense” (thanks for reminding me, Karl Ikola; we’ll be using this one later, too) into a milky, unsettled death ballad. Reeds flutter around the sides as the band and girl saunter around the tale-as-spiral of greed and death. “Visiting Day at San Quentin” recounts how the band lived near the gates of the prison, and would watch families line up outside to visit their incarcerated. A martial thump drags along through more lounge-like burble as a narrator recounts the stress and agony of waiting in line to be cleared to talk to someone that people more or less feel obligated to see at some point, and the slow, hot resentment is barely contained in the song’s three-minute runtime. No jokes here. Seriously different music that just cleaned my head out. I will return. 500 copies, buy two and give one to a friend.
“Trust in You” b/w “Don’t Walk Away” 7”
What is this, indie pop month? Gingersnap works out of the early Slumberland bin, piecing out a timid little ballad on “Trust in You” and some simple, punchy alt-rock charge in “Don’t Walk Away,” sounding like electric Sebadoh with a punk rock fetish that says “don’t smash your head on me, please just hang out with me or something non-violent.” Fine, fun examples of what these songs are, and though there’s nothing particularly special or wonderful happening here, it’ll do. One more for the middle.
Florian Hecker’s side of this split single follows the lifespan of a waveform, clipped and chewed down to toothy, clicking nubs, as its tempo varies slightly. It sounds like spokes in the wheel of a digital bike. Voafose offers up some liquid reverb tank experiments, sounding like an outboard motor in a toilet that’s been given “the business” by a “sound artist.” After that, the chimes of Big Ben are manipulated with regards to pitch, tone, and duration. Probably the most useless piece of vinyl pressed this year, so of course I’m into it. Get angry, America – put this on and realize that a couple of grown men are laughing their asses off at you.
Monkey Beat City 7” EP
Two-man garage swill from Virginia with a case of the Cramps. Was there ever a reason to argue about that? Thought not. So many groups end up sending in these records of inept garage punk, and admittedly a lot of it makes it just on noise and some vague charms, but who’s actually putting on the costumes and bashing out the punkabilly at the record and horror conventions? Guys like THESE. And you best be thankful for it, because they don’t lay the vibe on unbearably thick; they just get in there for three songs – “Monkey Beat City,” “Crackhead Boogie,” and “King Kong,” all of which are exactly about what you think they’d be – and jump off unscathed. Short, sweet, raging. I dig. Great cover art that appears nowhere online, so just enjoy it when it shows up at your home. Edition of 500, with the first 100 on white.
Colour 7” EP
(The Broadway to Boundary)
“Weird,” interchangeable noisy punktangle jawns from Vancouver. Two songs on colored vinyl and in a sleeve which hurts the eyes to look at. Sounds like it was recorded at home with not too much experience; nothings too hot up in the mix, despite what sounds like ferocious levels of playing in a big, dead room. Which is a shame, beause they pick up by the B-side (a title I’m too burned out to type out in full), slamming on organ and punching the bass like it’s Marvin Hagler. Affected male vocals and scraping guitar fill out the mix, going for some sub-Contortions/Arab on Radar type deal and falling somewhat short. Next time, please get in a real studio and make this thing sound hot. Edition of 320, numbered, some on blue, others on green. Go nuts.
“Summer Loans” b/w “True South” 7”
Were you ever curious what might have happened if Cake collaborated with Interpol? Thought not. Purple vinyl.
Can’t Tape Forever 10” EP
Debut release from Sabrina Milena, an art student living in Berlin with a knack for presenting a layered, muddled approach to the typical singer-songwriter actions of the day. The production on Can’t Tape Forever really adds to these five songs, with snippets of field recordings and her own playing rolling back and forth underneath her assured playing and surprisingly wide vocal range, like a bed of dried leaves in the autumn. Pulling inspiration from folk, pop, and even Sonic Youth, this works on levels far beyond the suggested trendy troubadors of the past, perhaps humanizing the Books’ laptop clatter even further, or leveling out Cat Power’s or Mecca Normal’s more irritating properties into something you can listen to and stare at for hours without collapsing into tears. I’m intrigued; somebody over here would do well to license this one, right away.
“House Ties” b/w “Continental Divide” 7”
I don’t’ know if Navies is still a band, or just a project picked up when its members are all back in DC, but here’s two new songs of strenuous, thoughtfully tense post-hardcore. “House Ties” gives me the same feelings I used to have when listening to the Great Unraveling or Sleepy Time Trio back when they were around: guys who knew how to play, how to focus their energies and project it outwards in controlled bursts of chaos. Saying it sounds like Fugazi is just too easy, as there’s a whole different mindset at play here; the song wraps around itself, skeletal bass rhythms snaking through huge, chest-collapsing drums, needling guitars and clean-cut vocal shouts, going in all the directions you’d think it wouldn’t. Like the bands these guys emulate, they’ve found different ways to say the same thing but are still long on excitement and impact. And the instrumental B-side, “Continental Divide,” sounds like goddamn Mission of Burma just marched through. All in all, a genre I thought I’d outgrown, but when done correctly, it works just as it always has. 500 copies, clear vinyl.
s/t 7” EP
What’s in Orland, CA? The town’s website – hilariously unfinished, I might add, lest the graduates of the local high school are really just an incomplete HTML code – denotes little but farms, agriculture, proximity to Interstate 5 (100 miles north of Sacramento), some soft food at the Berry Patch Restaurant, and a night’s rest at the adequate Orland Inn (senior discounts welcome). Surprisingly, Soriano dug up some band activity there, in the form of Nothing People. Three guys – 0r, 0s, and 0d – playing neatly into a pocket once lived in by the Twinkeyz, Chrome, Crime, Monoshock, and followers along that axis. Less concerned with buying a ranch or ranchette than blowing a mind or two along the way, I’ll bet these guys can practice with nary a complaint from their elderly neighbors. Damaged, slightly errant rock with a good sense of control over any overtly punk or garage elements. It’s satisfying, esp. opener “Twinkie Defense” (it’s coming back, just watch as society tries to hang its ills on full grown babies, and the jurisdiction’s too tired and soft to see otherwise) and closer “I Can’t Find a Monkey.” Hot and immediate noise for better minds. 500 copies, hand-stamped sleeves. Good score.
Get Gassed-Up 12” EP
Clean cut butter years emulation from Atlanta, coming off just like J5 or Foreign Legion did: safe like the cap on a prescription bottle. Smoothed out, good production, but playing off the sort of rhymes that make you think “dude, take a break for a minute.” Also pulls out some sympathy vote lyrics on the second track, “The Standard,” that is endemic of that “we worked hard to get here” vibe that the industry views as a crutch first, then a bargaining chip second. I’m sort of glad it’s not 1993 again, but I don’t know if they are, right down to the Urge Overkill namedrop (whaaaaaaat?) If you hate the way Common dresses, steer away. Forget Sage Francis – this is the real emo rap.
s/t 7” EP
Pure powerviolence revival from Boston kids barely out of high school. The brutality continues! Big riffs, bigger breakdowns, brawny and pissed off vocals. Dystopia and Manpig nods. One word verses. Military photos of the destroyed and bleeding. Drumming is not up to sustainable blastbeat (or even blastcheat) capability, but that’s a minor complaint as it makes these guys work harder to rely less on that as a crutch, and in effect reinforces the slower, more punishing elements at play here. All targets hit (war, Christianity, consumer culture, oppression) as the screws turn in tighter and flesh gives way.
“When I Arrive” b/w “Fight Song” 7”
(True Panther Sounds)
NYC indie rockers showing two sides here: a charmingly self-conscious pop style, timidly sticking its head out all Shrimper Records-style on “When I Arrive,” and a shitty, sultry, “sexy” 12-bar blooze waste on “Fight Song.” Clearly, I love one and hate the other. Make up your minds as to where to go, band. It’s important. Now is the time to decide which path you will take … Mercury Lounge or Arlene Grocery. Your choice. They’re not that far apart but it’s a world of difference. Please make the right moves. Edition of 300 that’s apparently almost gone.
The Strate Coats
s/t 7” EP
(Hook or Crook)
Greg Ashley (The Gris Gris, The Mirrors) was 15 when his first band, the Strate Coats, cut this demo in 1998. Sounds like it. Someone older was giving these kids pointers, as most youth aren’t immediately aware enough to cover Freestone’s KBD classic “Bummer Bitch.” Eight lo-fi cassette-worn garage-punk beaters here, nothing that will probably blow your mind, but more of an artifact of where Ashley got his starts. What would have been more entertaining would be a nice big booklet of anecdotes of how these kids probably got snuck into shows, got into trouble, and the like. Edition of 500.
Surrounded By Disco 12” EP
There’s a certain maturity to the tracks on this three song EP – a cut from Swimmingpool’s album Good Old Music, a Supermax remix in trite digital reggae style, and a Lowtec remix that’s about as predictable as a roll of Charmin – that really works against what’s happening here. I don’t wanna know about an artist’s “deep connection to Jamaica” unless I’m riding a Fender Twin down a flight of stairs, or if the artist himself is not passing me a joint rolled out of one of those Cheech & Chong Big Bambu papers that’s as thick as my arm. Nor do I want to be lulled into submission by basic house with a few decent production tricks. Dozing off…
“Syd’s Eyes” b/w “Silver Freight Train” 7”
(Black Mountain Music)
Post-Swerveriver action from that band’s former frontman Adam Franklin, which proves that he had the songs and the other guys were mostly there to provide energy. Rich, complex, yet supremely hazy psych-pop, closing in on the latter half of Swervedriver’s careeer, sounding lazed up but actually quite active and fulfilling. Dude has a way with a solo. This really takes me back. Not horrible Seripop sleeve silkscreened up; 300 copies on gold vinyl. Go get. Make the Swervedriver reunion a reality.
Prosa 12” EP
Excited to cap off this year with new Touane, just as we started it. Four tracks here, but my interest really didn’t pick up until side B’s “Poesia,” growing out of some hazy enveloped waves with a tight, funky counter-rhythm that provides the backbone for this track to get busy. Curiously, he never fully lets go of the ambience that the track begins with, and as the tones intertwine in and out of the rhythm at the end, the title track fades in ever so discreetly. Nice fade. “Prosa” is less busy but more commanding, with bass, several layers of beats around a main pulse, and guitar ching holding down a droning, anxious, progressive melody. I’m quite impressed – Touane’s got little left to prove to me and others in making dance music that will work in the club or at home; he’s got a fine understanding of pop, of patterns, and of a flexible, building suspense in his craft. Just gets the fuck down, running the rhythmatic chunks right into the more measured, controlled parts, and somehow it all works. This guy’s got my number.
More G.D.M. Volume 6 12”
Surprise! It’s the Weatherall mix of My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon.” Tigersushi changed everything about the title of this, right down to the name of the label and the catalog numbering scheme. If it were legit, why bother, right? Did the cover art not give it away? It pretty much contextualizes the track into the 1991 it was released into; a translation, if you will, into baggy pants, pills, a nation melting emotionally under the repression of 100 years sliding downhill on the rubble of crumbling empire. A musical airbag, deployed on impact. So great. If you can’t understand why such a remix needs to exist, like you’re so much better than feeling the utter glorious corruption of a classic, please get the fuck out of my face right now. I would not squat to piss on you if you somehow became freeze-dried and my golden trickle would hydrate you back into the realm of the living. Krikor has the unenviable task of filling out the B-side, and while it’s somewhat usable machine funk, I wouldn’t wish this fate on anyone. Most lopsided split since Void/Faith (or maybe Still Life/Resin).
By Doug Mosurock