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Still Single: Vol. 3, No. 10

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In the latest installment of 'Still Single,' Doug Mosurak and associates check out Singles and LPs of various sizes by Mannequin Men, Octis, Chris Watson, Wooden Shjips, and many more.

Still Single: Vol. 3, No. 10


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:

Doug Mosurak
PO Box 1552
Long Island City, NY 11101

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!

Bad Bus/Tempera
split 7”
(L'Animaux Tryst Field Recordings)

So a tape and CD-R label out of Portland, ME has embarked on a new subscription singles series, this being the first record of the four seasonal installments of three singles apiece. (The Cursillistas and Lightning Strike Lightning singles reviewed below are also part of this batch.) Releases are on the Etsy-ish, packaging-intensive side, and it’s reflected in the price of each release – roughly breaking down to $8 retail per copy, which is expected but still kind of nuts. GHQ, the North Sea, White Light and several others are scheduled for future installments. As for this one, Bad Bus kicks up a pretty groovy, Krautish trance on bass and drums, while other folks moan all over it. Spiritually linked to Bardo Pond but also Raccoo-oo-oon or that Shepherds single from the last installment. Tempera sounds kind of lost, some loops intersecting over one another and a layer or two of lo-fi murk to obscure finer details. It’s cool, though, and the other records in the series are promising as well. Edition of 300 numbered copies, in a stitched patchwork bag.

Broken Letters
I one-sided 12” EP
(Burning Alphabet)

Big-hearted blue sky downers from a guitar/drums duo out of Birmingham, AL. It’s one of those kinds of records that sounds a bit ordinary described, but turns out to be a pretty captivating exercise, one where lyrics that would have sounded pretentious coming out of anyone else resonate with decades-old authenticity, where the drums fire off like rifles (is this an Albini job, or something reasonably close?), and where the more maudlin notions therein instead play off as weathered and world-beaten. Townes van Zandt is a good point of departure, and maybe Lucero. 500 copies. Worth it.

split 7” EP
(Tic Tac Totally)

Split single sold on a tour that took place earlier this year. Chicago’s Cococoma have been lauded in these pages before, as have England’s Hipshakes. This is no different; Cococoma’s organ-led garage punk fight songs still rattle with the same pissed-off fervor, and the Hipshakes still manage to get in and out with 90 second bursts of slash-and-burn punk. White vinyl, nice lookin’ record.

Coconut Coolouts
“The Spinaround” b/w “Swim” 7”
(Heads Up)

Full-on party budz from out in Seattle. Seven members in all, including two drummers who both sing, and a guy in a banana suit playing bass – a crowded stage is the place for maximum contact, something their music inspires. The dance craze number “The Spinaround” rips hard, with a fuzzed-out bottom and ragged beat, while “Swim” races around a little faster, chasing punk from an uncluttered early rock approach. Both songs are short and fun, guaranteed to inspire singalongs in your head for a week or more.

“Taste Teeth” b/w “You Float, No Evens” 7”
(L'Animaux Tryst Field Recordings)

Moanklang from Portland, Maine, Curillistas split up this single with one mopey psych-folk song (“Taste Teeth,” the kind of track that shows you how close the line was from old Shrimper bands to early Death Cab for Cutie), and one outstanding, well-designed drone meditiation, spiced with hand percussion and a generally shook vibe that recalls Popol Vuh’s more intense moments. The group (or person, can’t tell who’s in this thing) is part of a second wave of the unhinged, hallucinatory psych/folk/improv thing that returned in the late ‘90s and continues, unabated, today. 300 copies in a craft stock sleeve that’s been printed, written on and embossed.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring
“You Let Me Be Honest With You” b/w “We'll Be Turned On” 7”
(White Denim/Metropolitan Recluse)

It’s n too much of surprise why Eddy Current Suppression Ring have been talked up so much in garage and punk circles over the past year. This Australian band has virtually no problem with playing hard, sparse, fast, simple ‘77 punk from the pub as if they were the first to do so, and it’s that ownership over their sound that makes it all work. Fans of the Saints, Pink Flag, the Australian X, and the Hives will likely be down with “You Let Me Be Honest With You,” but the organ-led B-side “We’ll be Turned On” proves that the band can step away from those masks and detune into dronebeat bedroom athletics as well. Edition of 351 copies, and going fast.

Finally Punk
Primary Colors 7” EP

Young ladies out of Austin, TX who’ve done a commendable job at rolling up so much of British DIY female post-punk and Riot Grrrl that your Excuse 17 records are probably irrelevant now. I thought they sounded flat and uninteresting live, but this eight-song EP reveals a great deal of control in what was probably a home studio environment, and additional depth to the songs and their content. A fun time. White vinyl, silkscreened sleeves, and a CD-R copy inside.

Yoko Kikuchi/Casey Holford
This Song/That Song 7” EP
(Recommended If You Like)

Polished, quirky singer-songwriter pop – I think these two are backing each other up here, with Yoko singing on the A-side, and Casey on the flip. Either way, this is pretty, fast, simple rhythmic strum, Westerburgian in the attack, but crushed by that sort of coffeehouse pop that rose up in the last decade. All the symptoms are here: obvious Small Factory worship, sung-spoken vocals (though Holford has a decent, if warbly, falsetto register), and the manufactured innocence that will forever keep this sort of sound in the background.

Lightning Strike Lightning
“The Moon” b/w “No You Won't” 7”
(L'Animaux Tryst Field Recordings)

Intellectual kommune kids raise the ghosts of bowls since cashed. “The Moon” proves stunning in its natural fluidity of sound, a pulsing beat building landmarks in the echo chamber. “No You Won’t” is some manner of novelty tune, a spoken-word chant set to loft-apartment sea shanty sway. Singles aren’t the best place to catch a vibe off of a band like this, but “The Moon” will do at the beginning of your next séance, before things get really deep. 300 numbered copies in a glued-together chipboard sleeve that’s been silkscreened. Mine’s already starting to fall apart so be careful.

Mannequin Men
“Private School” b/w “Sewers” 7”
(Criminal IQ)

Chicago kids mixing and matching a few highly recommended modes of operation, namely Nirvana-esque symbolic ranting crossed up with a loose, garagey-psych backbeat. It really works for them, because they have a shambling, easygoing pace that could have suited a lot of the post-Strokes failures quite well. “Private School” is the pick hit, somehow reminding me of the same sort of wobble that Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “He’s a Keeper of the Fire” does, while “Sewers” rolls around in balladic murk for a bit too long. “Private School” is so good, however, that you won’t miss the flip. Actually played this one twice, and I’m on a deadline. Good stuff, wanna hear more.

The Mantles
s/t 7” EP

The cool thing about having a throwback band in this day in age is that we’re far out enough to absorb both the primary influence and any sort of tangential outcroppings that could have happened in between then and now. So when the Mantles play trebly, manicured garage-psych downers, they’re able to pay indirect but recognizable homage to dour British goth and darker rock bands. The combination of these styles is really killer, too, as the reverb-soaked, mannered songs drip with acid-tainted distress. I like them when they’re stiffer (“Burden”) but I can’t complain about the rest. Great band, great sound, great single. Silkscreened sleeves.

“Navlt” b/w “Twelon” 7”
(The Social Registry)

Solo Mick Barr? Vertiginous guitar! But as “Twelon” posits, Barr is starting to drift away from using metal as a guidepost for his ultra-fast, fluid style of play, and twiddles off into some manic Westworld country-folk motif instead. It’s a great surprise after all these years of wheedlin’ wackadoo, leaning into the direction of Orthrelm’s OV album. “Navlt” is a bit of a head-nodder, tarnished metal at least, where it’s just as interesting to listen to the distortion between the notes rather than the notes themselves. Edition of 750 numbered copies, part of the Social Registry’s singles club.

The Pharmacy
“Abominable” 7”
(Tic Tac Totally)

Abominable is a bit harsh, but this Pharmacy band certainly isn’t anything you’re going to want around long-term. Self-infatuated, cloyingly clever pop with lots of synthesizers and some braying, Isaac Brock-style vocals try to string together three or four interesting parts into one inadvisable sound, bright and welcoming yet unfocused. If you need it spelled out: Hot Hot Heat. OK Go. Rentals. You may have needed those bands at one point, but do you really want them again? White vinyl.

Joe's Record 7” EP

Smart, grown-up white pfunk, alliterative with the jazz threat approach of the Minutemen or Big Flame. Curiously enough, Sarandon’s new bass player is Alan Brown of Big Flame; I suppose those left in this world band together; regardless, this continues in the quality and chutzpah this band has become known for – issue songs, position-taking, tightly wound interplay. And that’s just fine. Pink vinyl.

Vee Dee
Glimpses of Another World 7” EP
(Criminal IQ)

“Glimpses” is six minutes of a straight-up annihilating acid-punk vibe, bass chugging along like Lemmy on the spaceways, fragmenting into a phased-out, lumbering chorus two tabs deep. The two on the flip are so good, you’d swear this band came from Ohio and not Chicago. Think old Minneapolis band Vertigo, crosscut with a less schizo/workshoppy approach and a reverence to Spacemen 3, Mudhoney and Gravel, and you’re pretty much right where you wanna be. Which is here, with this single in tow. Loud, distorted downers from the past-present. Buy two! 150 on white, all gone. Sell me one.

Chris Watson
Oceanus Pacificus 7”

That’s Chris Watson, formerly of Cabaret Voltaire and the Hafler Trio, who’s been doing field recordings with a remarkable ear for subtlety as of the past decade. Here we find two samples of the sounds of the Humboldt current, which surrounds the Galapagos islands, from three meters and ten meters deep, respectively. “3m” is busy, active sloshing of water, powered by a steady attack courtesy of the current’s pull. But “10m” is much darker, and actually sort of terrifying, the voice of the current imbued with a bassier, more claustrophobic presence that may as well be the sound of the weight of water. A remarkable piece of short, affecting natural sound, mercurially presented. Pro-printed cardstock sleeve with spine writing.

Various Artists
Thrash Sabbatical box set
(Deathbomb Arc)

Thurston Moore shares the sides of a 12" and two 7"s with Kevin Shields, Men Who Can't Love (groups of solo noise/exp. musicians such as Moth Drakula crammed onto one side of the 12"), and Barrabarracuda (some sort of Not Not Fun-related supergroup). Thurston coughs up two sides of processed noise guitar and one little acoustic ditty that would have fit alongside Trees Outside the Academy. Kevin Shields proves they are still in some semblance of control; noise ova-lords for the dying planet, and manage to remain interesting throughout their two brief offerings. Barrabarracuda plays rickety, cacophonous DIY post-punk with lots of frantic ladycalls and a stomping, messy backbeat. Aside from the first acoustic ditty on the MWCL side (credited to Solitary Hunter), their offerings are fairly pat mixer abuse, flushed-cheeked and blubbering harshness that's a little past its sell date. Comes in a big silkscreened pizza box that you won't be able to store anywhere. A worthwhile yet fractured listen.

Wooden Shjips
“Loose Lips” b/w “Start to Dreaming” 7”
(Sub Pop)

You’re all on board now. eBay has told me that. Wooden Shjips follow up their recent, kinda dozy LP with this blast, presumably from the same session. I have to give them credit for “Start to Dreaming,” which just might be their first recorded song built around a note progression on bass, instead of one that simply hammers away on a single riff for a set amount of time. You’d expect it from most other bands, but with the Shjips, it’s as if they’ve entered a new phase of songwriting, reaching through the same sort of foggy despair inhaled by Greg Sage, or the Flamin’ Groovies ca. “Slow Death.” Best recording and mastering of any of their records to date make this every reason you need to keep an eye on this band.

By Doug Mosurock

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