Still Single: Vol. 4, No. 5
Back from Texas, and glad of that fact. Austin gravel messed up my feet something terrible. Glad to say my panel was a success, and a big vote of thanks to everyone that showed up and participated (there were quite a few of you). But the big news is that this marks three years of Still Single, and for that I’m truly grateful to everyone who sends in vinyl, good or bad – you’re all helping to keep the dialogue of something happening in music at this level (versus nothing happening) active and continuous. Lay off of the micropressings, though. If you can move 300 copies of a record, you can certainly move 500. The market can take it at this point, and you won’t be acting as if the world owes you something. Plus you keep the speculators at 'Bay off their feed for a while. Hopefully they go back to comic books or baseball cards and leave the music for people who want to listen and appreciate what’s going on. Tuff turkeys with words to the contrary can cram it. To the rest of you, let’s keep making it happen.
Mr. Dog at most alienated here on record #6 in the past twelve months. Hey, I’d be feeling inhuman by that point, too. Vocals almost completely obscured by waveform processing, with pensive, clipped arrangements that could have easily fallen out of some obscurant Vinyl-On-Demand reissue of recent years. Not feeling this one as much as some of the other recent efforts, but in his case I know there’ll be another record popping up in a month or so to make up for it. 500 copies, 100 on red.
Haven’t heard these guys in a while, but they’ve tightened things up considerably. Blown out vocal track, skuzzy recording and loud, direct arrangements throw this into a ‘70s punk motif, with great success – “Want me Dead” in particular lifts enough of the Pistols/Dead Boys sorta vibes with the bravado required for ownership, or at least a month-to-month lease. Great, dirty sounds. 300 copies, black vinyl.
Well, I’m glad that it took at least a great record to mark the breaking point of this whole micropressing conundrum, that the sad fact of the “$40 single” – which this one probably will be in a matter of weeks, even after the promised repress – might be something that’s recognized and combated by bands and labels alike. Because, really, this is the kind of record that shouldn’t be hoarded, but played for friends over and over, propping up mixtapes and reminding us why we’re looking for new records in the first place. It’s not a bargaining chip. It’s Eat Skull’s second single, and a full-length plus a bunch of splits are soon to follow. Can they get here soon enough? “Dead Families” is a call to arms, turning Phil Spector’s wall into a ferric oxide crud and chewed gum. Organ blasts zamboni the palate before reminiscences of early Pavement, Supercharger, the Electric Eels and New Bad Things are blasted off into one another. Incredible replication of the recording ensures that the guitar bites, that each line of the vocal rises out of the din and that by the time the song tires itself out, you’ll be putting the needle back at the start. On the flip they roar through Psycho Sin’s “If I’m Not Insane” and a rousing campfire ballad called “No Intelligence” that could have come straight off of a K or Shrimper tape comp circa 1993. Saw them down in Texas and they were clearly very into playing and making this whole thing work for them, and their set ended up being one of the best I caught at SXSW. I wish them the best, and hope that everyone who wants this single can get a copy. 300 pressed, best single of an early but promising 2008 thus far.
Drone is gone – say hello to Chirping Sampler Experiments in the sub-strata of Black Dice, who have gotten a lot better now that you can dance to them. Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Falling Asleep. 750 numbered copies.
I’ll back Kurt Vile. Dude writes great songs with a personality that mitigates every facet of his sound, without drowning things in drama or self-absorbed excess. All of his songs pile on the layers of analog synth, reverbed guitar, and Joe Cool vocals for something that’s often pretty straightforward and conventional sounding, but never unmemorable. “Freeway in Mind” comes from his Constant Hitmaker CD (getting a lot of spins in this household) and is almost commercial in its can’t miss melodic shuffle. Kurt’s got a common touch, something that you normally don’t hear or expect out of home recordings, and putting him closer to Bob Pollard or Anton Newcombe than most. Beat Jams’ ladies and gentleman come up on the flip side with some punky rock and clean, ESG-style dance grooves. Edition of 500.
Hot, tangled, primal noise scrape rock action with tons of moaning, drum triggers and full-on Greco-Roman scrambler guitar/FX box grapple. France’s answer to Sightings has produced a swift, saturated blow of old-school industrial terror and classic hive attack/defense tones for maximum discomfort. Some more peaceful, tribal motifs on “Sang” and “Minogue” on the B-side act as a cooling off from the hammer attack of the first two songs. Anti-music, pro-knuckledrag, and just what a lot of you yobbos out there want. Actually reminds me of the washing machine churn score of the movie “The Entity,” which Thurston realized the potential of on the Male Slut single. 500 copies.
Slow, sentimental dribblepop balladry from outside of Youngstown, OH – Rustbelt and Sebastian, if you will. Kind of a striking lack of vision that actually brought me back to this, as if the principal songwriters aimed beyond high and hit here instead. Just an odd, bizarre time, and something so borrowed-sounding and out of joint with anything that’s going on outside of, like, Myspace that it’s oddly fascinating. Competent musicianship belies stock sounds and sentiments that never hatched beyond the gentle side of screamo (Ordination of Aaron, Owltian Mia, etc., but without the proto-beardo ambiance). A member of this band is doing time for armed robbery, so says the press release. Amazing. Sometimes you really gotta wonder what it’s like to be stuck beyond your will. Here is a sound of hope and escape. Here’s hoping it gets better all around.
Hey, another garage band sorting out the melodic Rip Off Records thing, probably wearing sunglasses while they’re doing it. Pizza deserves better than this. I just had some to work my way up to this record, but I wasn’t really counting on the social networking element of these songs to have it repeat on me. “Bad Ass Youth” actually rages pretty hard, but “Hideous Fashion” and “Too Popular”? Man, there’s more to life than this. My benchmark for all of this stuff post-2000 is the DC Snipers and the Marked Men, and this doesn’t approach either. 500 copies.
Quite the half-slab here, as historically deep artists dive into the endless expanse (Vuh to yuh) with mixed results. Mika Vainio tackles “Nachts: Schnee” from Herzog’s Cobra Verde with a relaxing, rule-free approach, one that follows the sentiments of the original piece aside from short, sharp shocks of rewind clatter. Vainio expertly modulates chunks of the FM-synth original, building a sonic raft that leaves the night horizon behind until there is nothing around at all. Haswell & Hecker’s take on “Aguirre I” is a bit more disruptive, with some chunky video game sounds burrowing beneath the original’s pores, not necessarily for the best. When it settles down, you’ll really remember the steely cool of Vainio saving this one. Red vinyl; not cheap due to our shitty economy, either.
Loud snot garage punk with one guitar mixed comically above the rest of the track. I blame Orville, who plays one of the guitars in this group and also recorded these three tracks. Songs rage pretty hard, but when you hear this thing barreling in, you’ll probably laugh. It might have been a legit way for them to do things, but it sounds like a total punch-in not-even-there sort of way of going about it. Then again, you might totally be into it, as it ultimately makes the record a little more over-the-top than it could have been.
There was a flyer for a recent Savage Republic gig tucked away in this single, which was a pretty good indicator of where these outfits are coming from. We’re looking at tribal drumming, shamanistic vocals, a heavy burnout blues vibe scented with myrrh and sticky with warm peyote buttons. The groups aren’t necessarily interchangeable – San Kazakgascar clearly has the better of the two tracks here, but The Master Musicians of Hop-Frog show them up in percussive intensity – but they fulfill a small yet dutiful role in the spiritual enhancement of man via rituals of the ,
Sex Vid continues to work their reductive, anti-logical ways on our understanding of hardcore, and by process begins to eliminate the influences that seemed to stand out from their earlier singles. Here they get toothy enough to lift the riff straight out of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” and sell it with such off-hand conviction that you won’t care – it’s a great riff, and about time somebody else did something worthwhile with it. Judd’s vocals are mixed lower, but on this one he’s kind of given up on clean enunciation and is just screaming himself raw. Tempo changes weren’t Sex Vid’s bag on the last few records here, but “Nests” and “Exorcism” jam them hard enough in the choruses to tear out the clutch. This is the first record on which this band truly sounds dirty and regressive, as if they’ve taken the lessons learned and boiled their sound and stance down to gristle and bone. The result will probably piss off a handful of people who came for the hype, but Nests steers closer to basement/black metal/thrash danger than anything from the current trends of early ‘80s hardcore revival. No pose, shit’s real. Time to go. 2000 copies. Bistro Distro is sold out, find it in your local store or some Web label/distro like Painkiller, Grave Mistake, or No Way.
It’s been more than a little difficult to get a bead on $&$ stateside, but I got to check them out live recently, and here’s how it went: guy on bass, guy on guitar/vocals/electronics, and five drummers – two with full kits and a three-person circle front of house, sharing an assembly of floor toms and cymbals. One of the women in the circle was making the most fierce drummer faces I’ve seen in a while, which brought some tongue-in-cheek levity to the whole exercise … and it was an exercise, nearly 40 minutes of the same beat quarter-pounded into the dust around a two-note bass line and a variety of scrapes and squawks. It’s Test Dept. after the gender revolution; industrial pound with a feminist slant and all of the seriousness piss-taken out of it. “Friends Forever” seems like a toss-off, just a quiet loop of melancholy cycled to the finish, but “Cigarette Sequence” is a belter, with sizzling drum pads working their way around a jungle gym being beaten to life, then running off while the children cry and get thrown from its frame. Straight up concusser for the thinking burnout. 300 numbered copies.
Excellent sunrise burnoff quiet psych jams, kind of in line with Valet-style double vision candlelight headbone reverberations, but also with a more bluesy, ground-based attack, with big booming basslines akin to Opal at their roadhousiest. Cool mists rise off of these two offerings, quietly seductive and begging for “freshies” in the chamber. Extremely listenable and gets better with repeat spins. Apparently the CDR comes with an extra track, but the Malt Duck lady swapped it out over some pretzel logic with a snarky, borderline hostile note included with my copy. That’s not the way to my heart. Seriously, we can talk this out. You’ll feel better. 300 copies, goin’ fast.
After a handful of increasingly awesome singles, here’s a full-length by French trio Cheveu … featuring most of the tracks from those singles, and likely the same material from the CDRs they’ve sold on tour (Tyvek syndrome, comin’ atcha).But if that doesn’t bother you, and really it shouldn’t, given that this is a Cheveu record and not some jerk-off garage band or fey blog-rock turd, then settle in and enjoy. I’ve always had the feeling, especially after seeing them live, that Cheveu is on their own shit, even when borrowed, and as much a cultural stripmining of post-punk as it is an example of three guys who understand the concept of the other in punk and rock crossroads better than any European outfit since Thee Milkshakes. They get weird, too, whether to Ween-style pothead flutter and remembrances of Todd Solondz’s bashful sexual predator (“Happiness”) or strobing lockdowns in the rave cave as in the whistle stop of “Hot,” but getting weird is part of the program when you’ve got a lineup that’s purposefully stripped down to the musical skivvies of guitar, drum machine and vocals with the occasional synth line or trumpet, just to see how far you can push in any one direction before the walls break. Cheveu’s best songs to date are all on here, and I keep coming back to the trashy “Dog,” even more so than I did for the 7”, but man, the whole thing is a real pisser of a smartbomb punk record, made by guys who think for a living and live like sexual philosopher kings. Brace yourself. 600 copies, white vinyl; be sure you get one of your very own.
I think my attentions were elsewhere when I caught this band at their label showcase down in Austin, my mind having just been turned into a paste by Eat Skull, and the virtual threat of some scene big shot who kept glaring at me any chance he got. Next time, dude, make a move, because you missed your shot at the title. Anyway, talked to Lax afterwards and NOTV was the band he had the most to say about; kept on going off on how they make music that fits in with the old Australian label M-Squared, that they were true to the roots of new wave, in that brief window before we were able to classify it. I like to stick to my guns, but I also have an outsized amount of respect for Siltbreeze and almost all of its works, and I knew this wasn’t some barbecue hoax from nowhere. I’m glad I’ve gotten the chance to spend some quiet time with this motherfucker of an album in the meantime. Co-ed duo wanderings of a decidedly dark and altogether chilling nature, either bending in a beautifully ebbing continuous tone meander, or thumping chest with steel-eyed intensity a la the better days of Lydia Lunch, all drum machine and black dye and squealing synthesizer, deathrockin’ and boppin’ along like … well, like a band that hasn’t yet been informed of “the rules” and went off on their own gut instincts. It’s often so hard to separate goth action from a teenage-level sense of propriety, that thing that makes all but the memories of youthful exposure to such stagey bleakness and sexualized danger so hard to stomach as the years go on. Naked on the Vague pull this off pretty effortlessly, and that’s a feat worth checking out. Very highly recommended. 500 copies.
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!
By Doug Mosurock