Still Single: Vol. 3, No. 4
Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) pressed on any size of vinyl. CD-Rs of singles will not be reviewed; they will be destroyed. We need the artifact here with original artwork, not some duplicate/digital copy. Only records released within the past six months will qualify for a review.
Still Single now runs bi-monthly, so there is no deadline for submission. I will do my best to make sure that records are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
ANY genre of music will do - don't hesitate to send punk, hardcore, metal, goth, pop, rock, country, hip hop, electronic, experimental, dub and reggae … all genres accepted and welcome.
Information on your pressing (quantity pressed, color vinyl, etc.) should be included if at all possible.
Submissions can be sent to:
Records need to be shipped securely in sturdy mailing materials and marked FRAGILE because the post office will destroy them otherwise.
Keep sending in submissions, please!
Slimewave Vol. 3 split 7”
Antigama's tech-grind with progressive leanings meshes pretty well with Rot's quick, spastic take on blast beat grindcore, including synthesizers and vocal modulators, a la the Locust. An oppressive, formidable-sounding wall of non-funk. Numbered edition of 1000 on splatter vinyl.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed/Kill the Client
split 7” EP
One of about 964 Agoraphobic Nosebleed releases but you know what, I'm into pretty much all of them. Scott Hull is an incredibly smart, creative, capable guy who moves things around often enough that AN rarely sounds stale or played out, and in J. Randall, he's found an articulate and threatening presence on vocals. There may be no more prominent of a studio-based two-man grind/blast action, and if there is, they have some big shoes to fill. Kill the Client come forth with some of the most obliterating extreme metal I've heard in some time. Beyond power, death, chaos, it almost sounds like a solid chunk of rhythmless noise in parts, and it's not too difficult to lose the script. Highly recommended. Edition of 1000 copies.
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone/Foot Foot
CTFPA is still sad-sackin' it. Brown baggin' it. Hot lunchin' it. Sack draggin' it. The sincerity of initial releases is starting to fade, both as he makes more and more records that veer off the helpless tangle of power packs and keyboards that make up his live show. He's cold schleppin' it, mourning the loss of a girl to his insecure, indirect ways. You'll need a hot shower after listening to this one. The entitlement in “It's a Crime” is astonishingly arrogant. Foot Foot was good on their Bored Fortress single from 2006, and here they remain pleasant and quaint, a mandolin straining behind some in-tune lady vocals. They have that patient, knowing sensibility, like they figured out what that secret is that girls who go to Bryn Mawr get told. Hey, whatever, man. Edition of 500, with 150 of those on white.
Dead Ball 7” EP
Oh man. These guys sound like Halo of Flies! And a cover of Love's “7 & 7 Is” for psychedelic extra credit. Shit, this rules! Great to hear this sort of stuff coming out of … wait, Milwaukee? Goddamn. Catholic Boys. Tight, paranoid tin can punk that nearly squeezes itself to pieces. Incredible record. Made my evening just now.
“Wired for the Last Move” b/w “Basement Star” 7”
(Slow Gold Zebra)
Seven years slugging it out on the local track in NYC finally took its toll on Crimson Sweet, who have just broken up. I hadn't willingly checked in on them since 2000, but it sounds like they could have done just fine for themselves in the whole late '70s power pop revival circuit, should that scene have actually existed outside of like 500 people scattered across the country. Nice just-post-punk power moves on both sides, set off by some pretty bizarre (autotuned?) vocals on the A side. Clear vinyl.
Deserter 10” EP
Cold, mechanical synth-pop from Dear, who really should know better. Four Tet's remix of “Deserter” is worth seeking out, Kieran Hebden extracting restless energy out of the somber, defeated melody. It's a builder that doesn't satisfyingly peak, but could easily allow you get the crowd's attention at a lull and drop a bomb on them after.
“Twenty-Seven” one-sided 7”
One side of 2-track banjo stumble, steeped in a confessional post-hardcore vein a la Karl Hendricks or Jeff Humphrey. Lyrics are sort of ball-withering, and this sentiment is born out of a zine clipping tucked away inside, but this guy knows what this thing he made really is, and it's pretty obvious to me that he means it. This was given away to me in a mailorder to Corleone. There are 300 or so, I think, in a silk-screened sleeve and an etching on the B-side.
DJ C feat. Zulu
“Body Work” b/w “Version” 10”
“Body Work” is some killer dancehall/electro action, percolating with lively vocals and bass-fueled syncopation. Tempos are somewhat fast for this sort of thing, but on the bracing, minimal electro version on the flip, you'll have no trouble understanding why. A banger inside and out. Hotness for a hot summer.
“Year of the Pig” b/w “The Black Hats” 12”
(What's Your Rupture?)
They made big strides away from simply being able to play fast, tuneful hardcore with the “Looking for Gold” 12” and a statement of revisionist intent with their lengthy Hidden World album, but with “Year of the Pig,” Fucked Up truly turns a corner, an 18-minute, hollowed-out juggernaut of a track, running from a 5/4 blues vamp into a wall of frantic punk, along for a brief stroll through some Teutonic drum patterns before merging all three styles into a climactic finish. Hand percussion, organ, piano, and lead female vocals liken this extended outing to Black Mountain smoking Pig Champion's ashes, then setting down to Dark Side of the Moon. It's a monster, straight up, and plays as more aggressive than all but the most extreme music by the end, a display of force I didn't think these guys would have mustered. “The Black hats” rides out one Hawkwind-esque riff across hostile terrain, launching into the Neu! rhythm as Father Damian launches into some manner of intense screed. If hardcore purist are getting tired of these guys by now, that's chill, because at this rate they're about to find a whole new class of fan. See them on Saturday, July 21st here in Brooklyn, as Still Single brings you Fucked Up with Pissed Jeans, Tyvek, Brain Handle, Ludlow, and the Hecklers at Southpaw.
Nova II12” EP
Sci-fi thrash slimed with alien and parasite invasion paranoia. Funerot has a great early '80s demo quality sound about them, their musicianship is well up to par, and their riffs trace through both West Coast hardcore and the flash of NWOBHM to a satisfying end. Excellent b/w cover art and layout keeps it real. Great, solid examples of how to conduct oneself in this musical realm. Edition of 500.
“Lemonade Folly” b/w “I Remember You From That Party in Long Beach” 7”
There seems to be a snippet of real music at the beginning of this Gang Wizard single, something commercial and poppy, as if the band needed to show that being whisked away in order for their depleted babble to commence. Their cacophonous pound is punishment enough for any sins you may have committed in the past week. Edition of 500 in a blue plastic thing.
Japanische Kamphorspiele/Bathtub Shitter
I passed up what might have been my only chance to see Bathtub Shitter to go to a Hold Steady show. Sometimes we don't make the right choices. They're the rightful winner of this Slimewave split, even if it isn't A-game material from them. Japanische Kamphorspiele are from Denmark and play somewhat cartoony grind - weighty and sharp, but none too harmful. Edition of 1000.
Magic City/The Patsys
Columbus garage/soul split. Magic City is a female fronted trio with a really dreamy vocal presence and a pronounced fuzz element. They actually remind me a little bit of groups like the Raveonettes, preoccupied with style in a way that pushes down on the music. The Patsys is some 5 o'clock whistle action, featuring some old New Bomb Turks and Gaunt folks. Blue-eyed soul gets flopped out behind a capable band. Pro-sounding Jim Diamond production on both tracks. Not too shabby!
“Rock and Roll” b/w “Woke the Devil Up” 7”
Uncomfortably sterile balding lonely man rock. They might not look it or think so, but they are. I dare you to check this out. Really, really bad production flattens the whole thing out. Why bother to press up vinyl when CD-Rs are readily available?
Mariachi Azteca Principal
Performs the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland National Anthem #2 7” EP
CM Von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren defined an autonomous limbic territory? Of which they proclaimed themselves to be Kings and Barons? Figure it out here, but take my advice; it's like Ian Svenonius for the n+1 magazine set. These songs were performed on the country's inauguration day in Mexico City, 2002. Like it says, four mariachis. Last one “D” is my favorite. Numbered edition of 500 in a thick acid-free cardstock sleeve.
By a Thread 7” EP
Fairly removed from the decaying folk and alien textures of his previous releases, this is Pink Reason at an earlier stage of existence, with two long songs of simple, gothic gloom-strum and one folk clomper. “By a Thread” sounds like Peter and Graeme Jefferies attacking the first Dinosaur record, with stiff, chilly results. “Down on Me” moves even further down the hair dye aisle, chunks of two-chord shoegaze stomper stripped down to nothing, bridged by a pleasant melody. Might not appeal to anyone looking for the apocalypse of his first two records, but when I saw the band at SXSW, they were in a full-bore noise mode that would suit these songs well. A new facet in an already interesting puzzle.
s/t 10” EP
Neo-classical avant-folk duo from Italy, goin' through the requisite changes that would otherwise grind out such engaging music of conflict. Imbuing the “okay, what's next” ethic of an end-of-the-millennium band like Town & Country with the knowing jaunt of a Jon Brion soundtrack, Polvere maintain grassy plain pleasantries and launch skyward in joyous, synchronized lurches to decorate their skies. More importantly, they manage to shape such a bipartite identity with their music that the schism between the two becomes as exciting to listen to as the parts themselves. Surprising sound violence ends this six-song session with a glorious, thunderous shake, the last song dissipating as coda. Quality find from this studious Czech Republic label.
Natural Snacks 10” EP
Bizarro progressive funk/jazz/electronic antics from a Baltimore outfit featuring a member of Leprechaun Catering. Amidst the scattered noise elements, stonky junkyard moves straight out of Miles' On the Corner mingle with nicely syncopated bass and drums, video game effects squeezed out of analog synths, and elliptical snippets of vocalese. Quite exciting, reminiscent of basement scientist funk a la Money Mark, as well as extreme stench punk abstraction. If the group found a way to incorporate these two axes of sounds more effectively, it would be incredible. Uneven but strong release, supremely presented on a beautiful picture disk in an edition of 500, in a die-cut silk-screened sleeve. As with all EHSE's releases, MP3s of the entire record are available for free from their website.
Chaos Midnight 10” EP
(Strain Theory/Scatological Liberation Front)
Moving in a tank of wet cement, this solo electronic punishment project drags feedback, crunching drum programs, tarpit vocals and a lethargic, violent shove through to the drying process. Within its decrepit walls lies a pulse once belonging to dance music but now sacrificed over to the dark side, instruments tortured to within the limits of their function, the living embodiment of the grim guilt that lies beneath. Really strong outing here, appealing to fans of Swans and most Load Records acts. Just wait 'til the power drill kicks in on “Half Man Half Sandwich.” Edition of 334 numbered copies with foldover sleeve.
Two weighty slugfests here, with all the charm of a sweaty, smelly butthole. Snake Apartment leave the riffs of their 12” behind and lay into a dirty dirge, getting more blown out and malformed as it rolls slowly along. Landed smashes a cockroach-nerve-stem warning rhythm, the fight or flight, between two slabs of greasy, lethargic sludge. Sounds like what the man on the killing floor's thinking. A real toilet clogger. Thumbs up!
6 Song EP 7”
Vintage-sounding hardcore from Australia, coming across really harsh and on top of the beat, like it was 1983 or something. Think Government Warning but with a much more manic vocalist. Six songs, pretty crazy times inside. This is their second single and it's already sold out. Edition of 1000. Rumors of a US tour next year have been heard.
Strings of Consciousness
“Sonic Glimpses” b/w “Sirenade 'Round Midnight” 7” picture disk
Two statements of intent from a large and quite expansive ensemble of veteran European musicians, journalists, and tastemakers. Their very high-concept website outlines a multi-member ensemble, including Andy Diagram and Hugh Hopper and the guy who runs Pandemonium Records. Strange, then, that what transpires is a mix of jazzist post-rock search, a la Tortoise, over the lushly martial surge of late-period Talk Talk and some vague we-are-at-war elements to darken things. Collective momentum is what's holding these two offerings together, as the style of composition seems too complex in its democracy to yield the groundbreaking results hoped for. An album is forthcoming, with guest vocalists like Barry Adamson and Oxbow's Eugene Robinson, though, so we'll see how it transpires. Edition of 400 copies.
Summer Burns 2x7” EP
(What's Your Rupture?)
Tyvek's first single “Mary Ellen Claims” was an instant classic, completely of another time (say, Leeds 1980) but original enough to screw itself into the best singles of last year. I'm still listening to it. Not surprisingly, the Detroit group fits pretty perfectly into What's Your Rupture?'s coldwater ethos. Four great songs across two singles, with side B's agitated “Frustration Rock” and side D's low, mean “Air Conditioner,” swinging on the same tattered vine as the TVP's “King and Country,” coming off as unforgettable right off the bat. They find a way to tame the abrasiveness of acts like the Electric Eels with the patient, stern hand of twee, yet evoke strong memories of both scenes as if they could exist in harmony. See them on Saturday, July 21st here in Brooklyn, as Still Single brings you Tyvek with Fucked Up, Pissed Jeans, Brain Handle, Ludlow, and the Hecklers at Southpaw (www.spsounds.com).
Uske Orchestra/Gorge Trio
Div/orce Series 6 split 7”
Gorge Trio, the band that couldn't fly, attempts to take off once more with some jazzy, halted rockish scatter, guitars running on their own Maple-shellacked logic as the drums sputter behind. Uske Orchestra's Belgian tard-beat falls asleep on Ween's Pure Guava and burns plastic indoors to keep warm. Supremely weird, busy sounds set against a gently warped European sensibility. 1500 pressed. That's a lot.
The Wailing Wall
“For My Baby Brother” b/w “Nails & Wood” 7”
Bronxville, NY singer-songwriter here, inspired by indie rock's effete few (Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire, B&S) but determined to be the focal point of whatever band he's in, it seems. The Wailing Wall can be anything from just Jesse to a big band, and this 7” captures the latter, with contributions by the Wolf Colonel guy and Thanksgiving's Adrian Orange. This is a side of music that I admit to ignoring, and my instincts were, for me, correct, but I can see how more sensitive folk would have no trouble getting down with this winsome back porch jamboree. Joel Phelps' billygoat scruff can be heard all over “Nails & Wood,” the slower and more striking of the two cuts here. Wrenched emotions for you to believe. Edition of 300, gold vinyl and a nicely silk-screened sleeve.
s/t 7” EP
Some garage rock from southeast Ohio that strives to be something more, whether it the combed-back styles of Rocket from the Crypt or the high energy novelty of NOFX. What they're never gonna be good at, though, is playing the mystery badass that creeps out of this record. Any extreme stance laid out here towards these directions seems like a put-on. I've been tricked before. I don't like it. Nobody does. 300 copies.
War Hero: 1983 Demo 7” EP
Unearthing ancient demo tapes might be fun for some, but I don't really see the big deal about a rediscovery of Zero Defex, a Youngstown, OH hardcore act. Aside from a throat-scouring singer and a few singular ideas they try and discard (making them an obvious precursor to arty metallic chaos like BL'AST!) this isn't such a special thing. There are only 200 copies, though, so the hype will overpower actual availability.
Zombie Ritual/Spring Break!
split 7” EP
Zombie Ritual is Japanese hardcore that leans close to grind and death metal elements, much like some of that country's finest. But they swing resolutely in metal's direction, and though both their songs sound somewhat alike and are about pretty much the same thing (zombies, fighting), and though they themselves are made up to look like the very same zombies we're supposed to battle in order to stay alive. Zombies are, by their very nature, inconsistent, but this band is certainly no slouch, and pretty awesome if you like Death Side or Bastard or that sort of thing. Spring Break! aim to be the Crucial Unit of deathgrind - staying true to the music but adding a comedic element - which works about as well as you want it to. It's actually pretty cleverly developed in the lyrics, but these guys take like 36-bar breaks in between singing anything, so the effect sort of underwhelms in execution, despite its obvious potential. Fuck it, though, this is a split 7”. How many awesome ones do you own, let alone ones where both sides are worth listening to?
Close Your Eyes 7” EP
I opened a door here with that Anthony Reynolds single review, I'm afraid. Here's a four-song singer-songwriter showcase of current British and U.S. talent. The Stevenson Ranch Davidians get all warm and brandied on some James style shit. James William Hindle and Calvin Halliday cover Jackson Browne's “The Birds of St. Marks” in suitable fireside coffeehouse fashion. Rich Amino does “Molly May” and sounds like a non-comic version of Flight of the Conchords. Only Sancho's “You're My Lemonade,” with its understanding of hip hop's butter years in the beats and the refreshing decision to not sing, and let the music speak for itself, redeems this set with odd, endearing eccentricities and a solid, if bookish, funk.
Ascoltare has moved on from the “sad computer” realm into a self-described “minimal body jack” music. Deep, sparse, mid-tempo and slower Basic Channel-esque techno with incredible low end is what transpires, and when it works as it should, it will make an excellent addition to your next trance or non-maximal set. All of the danceable meat is on side A; side B gets a bit too slow and abstract to have much effect out there. Edition of 250 copies. Part 2 consists of three tracks available exclusively at the Myspace page below.
A short-lived Greek folk/light pop outfit, Poll cut two LPs and two singles for their local Polydor imprint in the early '70s, sought-after titles which are reflected in the unbelievable asking price for these two exact reissues. Anthrope… is packaged in a screen-printed burlap carrying bag with rope handle, and includes a poster, two cards, two librettos (one Greek, one English) and the group's first 7” single. The following self-titled effort is in a painstakingly recreated uni-pak sleeve, with a full-color 12” x 12” comic book stapled into the front cover, as well as a repro of the group's second single and more printed matter. These records don't have immediacy in mind; the slow, unfolding songcraft takes patience and concentration to appreciate, so anyone looking for a psychedelic blowout will have to gaze elsewhere. However, within lies the gentle power of European songwriters like Lucio Battisti, and the sunburnt California baroque of Buckingham Nicks. These are highly polished studio efforts with sterling arrangements, which give them a bit of a Eurovision feel at times, but when the moments of pure melodic beauty - and there are many - swell in, you'll feel the same way as you did the first time you “got” Crosby, Stills and Nash. If forced to choose I'm gonna go with Anthrope… as the one to check out first, less adorned as it is with commercial elements, though they are subtle. Poll's Kostas Tournas made a solo album in '73 following the band's demise, while ex-member Stavros Logarides formed the occasionally brilliant prog ensemble Akritas. A wonderful rediscovery.
Behold Secret Kingdom LP
(Night People/Not Not Fun)
Mythos Folkways Vol. III: Divination Night LP
Behold, two new albums from the band you love to hate. Raccoo-oo-oon are pretty important for us right now, though, as they draw the musical line towards a convergence between '90s hardcore/screamo and avant/noise/experimental-leaning ideas. What we're witnessing here is a paradigm shift where people like me and older see nothing but “feelings as vomit” in the more PC-realized realms of post-Nirvana DIY bands. What you on the other side of that point see, I'll never know, but there stands here a spirited yet mixed bag of slop, like a slowed-down Cap'n Jazz fronted by Eli from “Freaks & Geeks.” Within that non-negotiable formula lies some genius, some barbarically heavy presence, and a lot of the reminder that intensity can bring focus as much as it can embarrassment. It's like when Forced Exposure, then a distributor long free from editorial obligations, tore the first A Minor Forest album to ribbons, endangering their sales of the title outright. Raccoo-oo-oon will get an even more violent response, not so much as lots of us think that their influences are bullshit, but because their frequent flashes of inspiration blast so much more brightly in contrast. Behold Secret Kingdom is the genuine studio moment; Divination Night is some Boy Scout camp jamboree with mid-period Cerberus Shoal. Both are getting scarce, if not completely gone on vinyl by now.
By Doug Mosurock