Still Single: Vol. 4, No. 10
Ugh. Angst-ridden, wiry, tense punk rock with explosive hardcore tendencies. Sounds like they took the impassioned detachment from the Observers and grafted it onto that ‘90s hardcore clown persona – singer comes of like a fucking circus barker meets Jello Biafra; such a bummer. Plus this “Pessimism” song just won’t fucking end. Some really fast, technical-sounding stuff on the flip, like Dillinger Escape Plan on Fat Wreck Chords or something. Nobody’s really inventing anything in the practice of playing hardcore or punk anymore, so bands like this are stuck trying to cram different chunks of the histories of both genres and make something new out of it. Fans of Against Me! will likely understand this group; everybody else, scram.
Two new pieces by one of the few artists who seems intent on expanding the notions of ambient music to new heights, with “Highway of Diamonds” rising quickly from the bass-heavy depths of more recent works like In the Pendulum’s Embrace to a bright, present high-pitched tone, while “Bleeding Shadow” puts some of his folkier, more traditional aspects on display. Both cuts feature that milky, omniscient manner of which his drones connect to the listener and showcase an artist who understands how to control his surroundings, and in kind our own.
Synth panic and a leveling punk rock beat flesh out “Commando of Love” from French tonguebathers The Anals – all the earmarks of a classic right here, with a catchy premise and a large, simple sound. Synth, vocals, and drums, nothing else. Sweet Rot doesn’t usually work out for me so well but this an exception that hopefully will change that around a bit. Really, this is all you need – intrigue and danger somewhere in the sound, and a language that implies ownership. Even the trendy minimal synth B-side works, because the Anals, rough as they are, never forget that mood sometimes trumps riffs, and that great things can happen when they’re applied in the proper balance. Great single!
French garage punk that I remember being a lot more brute than this balding example, but it’s still pretty good as far as modern power pop is concerned. Ragged, punchy sound and high-pitched male vocals. Nice cover of “Let’s Get Back Together” by the Kick, who sound like a band I’d be into. Clear vinyl.
Wow, I used to kind of like this band, in a silly teenage Arab on Radar way. These are the songs that got cut from the labia majora release of their latest album Get Awkward due to “content,” but really, they sound like B-sides, and smack of effort, especially considering that they were all homeschoolers who dropped out to be in a band. Really do not get it, but I’m not 14 (or 19) and know how to behave myself around strangers, so I’m just gonna chalk it up as “not for me” and “not for you” either. One-sided, etched B-side, gatefold sleeve. Yeah, a gatefold for a 7”. Wow.
Short, restless, saturated sound from a one-man operation out of Seattle. Full comprehension of how to write this sort of thing and make it seem real and isolated instead of trendy and gauche. Dude just nails it, really hard, with the same drum machine and guitar and sunglasses that probably failed you and plenty of others. Really happy to be inspired by all these youngins out there, making it happen for themselves instead of living someone else’s dream. Hozac-approved, so naturally it’s outta print. Comes packaged in an oversized bag with a faux-Pettibon style poster. Numbered out of 500 copies, and worth owning.
Ex-Functional Blackouts band laying it out pretty hard on a recent EP. “Man/Machine” is as its name implies; slow, iron-fisted garage rock drone that rises up into furious guitar scribbling and signal fluctuations by the end. B-sides are fast and frantic, kinda going for a Screamers-style attack. Probably could have probably been on Amrep in another time.
Twee pop’s response to Sarah Silverman, and it comes with its own garbage bag. Capable, overly cutesy pop otherwise, all banged out on chord organ synth, sounding like an Atari. Ms. David displays an understanding of pop arrangements but not necessarily a respect for her audience. Nilsson cover redeems it for novelty’s sake (it’s “One,” by the way). Pretty odd, so all you weirdos will likely dig it. White vinyl.
Thirteen French musicians, all young and caught up in everything “indie,” too overwhelming and hard to take. Seems like nobody told these kids what you can and can’t do in a band that people who think for themselves will like, and Animal Collective records have done nothing to stem the tide. Imagine the piano line at the beginning of the Go-Go’s “Head Over Heels” rammed into a modern French pop song, complete with choir, jaunty rhythm, synth, guitar, and handclaps. Don’t want to? Wait until the flipside, where they try to become their own go-go Go! Team, mindlessly recycling moods and styles for little gain. This is one way to make music, and yeah, Os Mutantes did it too, but they were innovators and not copycats, so I wouldn’t recommend it, no matter how many left turns it takes. White vinyl, and some faux zebra print upholstering is glued onto the back. Leave this one to the soft among you.
Bunch of people from a bunch of LA bands (the ESP strands for Espeleta-Shafer Project – the two principal songwriters are guitarist Jessica Espeleta and keyboardist Nathan Lee Shafer; both sing) in a pretty familiar Sunset Strip style, always welcome if done correctly. “Rarebit Fiend” comes off like Siouxsie’s cover of “Dear Prudence,” and achieves a similar sense of rusting utopia; all it needs is a slide guitar at the end to send it into overkill, which they thankfully avoid. “Teller’s Line” sounds like Urge Overkill at play, circa Americruiser, with a catchy teenline bass line and inveterate energy that recalls the Plimsouls. Pretty cool time. 300 copies.
There’s little mistaking C. Fennesz against any other glitch-ambient artists, even with a relatively untrained ear – his ability to find beauty in the interruptions, and the manner in which he shapes these sounds, are done with a fine point and a sturdy hand, and are able to stand up to repeated use, and occasional abuse. “On a Desolate Shore” drifts peacefully into the ether of a locked groove, while “A Shadow Passes by” showcases his skill on acoustic guitar, pensively carving out a melody.
Some manner of edit of WYR?’s epic 18-minute 12” version of “Year of the Pig” makes its way onto this single, concurrently released in different versions for the US, UK, and Japan. Leave it to Fucked Up to make things confusing; “Dangerous Fumes” part 2. Completists will fall for the boombox skank of “For My Friends,” unavailable elsewhere. Others will say that the band has sold out, Matador is a major label, and businessmen are responsible. You’ve probably already made your mind up, no matter how hard these earnest Canadians will try to convince you otherwise. Live, lately, they are a sonic clothesline, ready to door you. If you ignore them, ten more newly-converted fans will replace you, and you’ll scowl to yourself when you’ve sold their early singles off to them in order to help you make rent. This is not an autobiography.
Heavy, nihilistic pound from Austin. TX based project of one Alex Hughes, with vocalist Faiza Kracheni screaming up front. “Servant” features guest noise by Breathing Problem, tangling itself within the track’s opening blows and creating tension in a dead space, surrounded by mildly progressive bass riffs and a mantra of screaming. “Bestial” sounds better to me, nothing but a spacious, drum-led dirge of pain and misfortune. 500 copies, gone from the source so look elsewhere.
More scrawny brutality from the Homostupids. Ideologically off mark for the somewhat garage-borne illness of their overall stance, in that these are big, bright riffs played with a muscular intensity, providing a newly realized mania in their sound. “Beneath the Blackman” (ugh, that name) could just as easily have belonged to the Pale Saints or Bailter Space with a cleaner, more pronounced treatment a decade ago. In this case it almost becomes a “which riff will we rewarm” scenario, but I think that taste, of all things, is on their side. “Fang vs. Keyman” ends with a segue into a brass band, and it’s hard to tell if this was merely pulled from somewhere or actually orchestrated for the song itself; either way, its presence adds dimension to the frantic thrash that preceded, despite itself. Acute engineering of a genre-busting sound. Maybe not though. Who cares, you bought all the other ones already.
Two terrifying sides of dark ambient thrills from a recently-reawakened Illusion of Safety. “Sedation” lulls you to sleep aside the faint glare of electronic fuse cracklin’, while “Quell” goes all out in a Grand Guignol stretch of noise leading out of a maddeningly chilling drone. Scarier than most direct-to-DVD horror films; images providing this sort of sound would probably tear society apart. Or not. Either way, a welcome return to the fold. Gold vinyl.
Inca Ore/Secret Abuse
Inca Ore, you have got to be fucking kidding me. Is this what I’ve been missing out on? What does it take to get into and remain in the mental state that goes into creating something like this – moaning, singing of scales, four-tracking with felt-tipped everything? Secret Abuse, you’re alright. Heavily delayed/distorted/hall of mirror heat blasts of pop stretch and ambient search, a real line drive to the loins. Like black metal levels of distortion, an absolute wreckage and reconstitution of tone in a spiky, uncontrollable exterior.
Wig out at mud hut Denko’s. Forceful displacement of energy and air. Hardcore and improv are at play, sounding like someone redacted the source tape with Sharpie ink, as there is no high or low end – everything gets pushed to the low mids, and molders there. Artist is a mystery and the pressing is low (200 copies), so if you are into Harry Pussy, here is one more thing for you to worry about. “It’s true.”
Off to college you go – Leper Print is a youngin named Kyle, also in that somewhat dreadful Meth Teeth band, who had a really weird single drop a year or so ago, before the whole bedroom nu-wave genius thing a la Blank Dogs really took hold. He’s out of that mindset for the most part here – “Coma” runs a drum kit, guitars, synth, and treated vocals through the little 4-track that could, punking it up pretty hard along with the other two here. Ringing, paranoid meter pinning, Electric Eels-style. Kid knows his way around a song, and guess what – he also won the Sub Pop “Loser” scholarship! Have fun in college, man, it’ll be a pisser.
So the record calls the band Pyramids, but the sleeve and everything else say otherwise. Catchy scrawlings by a two-piece gtr/drm duo (one MF and one CC, not that CC though, or even the other CC). Reminds me of Times New Viking circa now, with less anthems and more wander, Fall/C. Teasers style. Uptight melodies and a good amount of guitar torture. Six songs really spell it out for you, possibly too specific for you, but I’m finding something to like about each one here. A good idea sometimes, at least for one release, is to pick a style and stick with it. Love Tan are smart enough to know how to mix it up within those constraints to keep themselves (and us) entertained. Nice one.
Solo traxxx from one member of rap/squelch outfit Food for Animals, both basking in simple, weighty gestures as applied to neo-funk instrumentals. “Outrageous Soulz” exists as a dexterous lunch-table beat colored by fuzzy synth pads to give it some depth – sounds like Adult Swim bumper music, pretty chill. I’m more into “Dreamerzzz,” a slow percolating meditation on a singsongy melodic lead reminiscent of Arthur Russell. Nice, understated times – excited to hear more. 300 copies, magenta marbled vinyl in dust sleeves.
L.A. electroclash act (they of the joystick-as-phallus promo trick) shows us what the post-electroclash world is like. Surprise! It’s in a goth club, and Jackson (of And His Computer Band fame, never really figured out how Warp didn’t make that guy a superstar) is on the decks. All over the place, but uniformly dark: “Melting the Ice” rides an insistent, spindly guitar lead over some rough industrial terrain, “Grave” and “Lost in the Dark” work in the post-punk/Bauhaus/Sisters of Mercy/The Mission area, expertly applying makeup and black velvet where necessary, and “Unwound” is firmly planted in Wierd/mnml synth. Well-done, but really for fans of these genres only.
Another blurry-sounding one-man band, part of that universe that encompasses Blank Dogs, early Echo & the Bunnymen, maybe even Jeremy Jay – riffs are here, and that’s the most important thing if all you have to cruise on is a style. Both tracks get going by the end and terminate in way catchy hooks. Get in on the ground floor, before bands that sound like this absorb some name like “shitgaze” so you can register your disdain.
Typical for Slumberland as well, this split is the far more satisfying of the two profiled here. Pains, as evidenced on their last single, are pitch-perfect noise pop, sounding like it’s 1991 all over again. Impenetrable fuzz and fey mannerisms? Check. Superchunk-like melody? You got it. Can’t miss. Summer Cats are from Australia and are more or less as good, coming across as a more daring Velocity Girl, with powerful vocals and a knack for throwing in off-kilter chord changes. Their track rides along a hypnotic organ lead that the guitar plays off of brilliantly. Two winners. Gray vinyl. Get one immediately.
A-side reminds me why I hate going out anymore. There’s always something or someone trying to get your attention and they’re always doing something you’ve seen or heard before. In this case, it’s Xiu Xiu style conniption fittery, something which I’ve never had much use for in recent years. Yet I’m completely behind their choice of cover for the flip side, OMD’s “Joan of Arc,” working its way into a sincere tribute of the original, its percussive locomotion terminating in a locked groove. Alongside Oxford Collapse’s cover of “Genetic Engineering” on their new 12”, and the whole
Said to be the first recordings under the Pink Reason name, here are three long, boilerplate examples of their moody, chemically altered shenanigans – ones which, of course, sound different than any other Pink Reason record in both performance and nuance. Slow, mashing chords bang away in “Winona,” oppressed under winter skies; “Give Yrself Away” has kind of a Sonic Youth chord change in the chorus that dominates the rest of the track, and “Letting Go” finishes up with some gentle piano bar shuffle. You need each record to understand each side of Pink Reason, so if understanding’s your goal, off you go to the store.
Rootsy, affected singer-songwriter stabs from Skygreen Leopards member Quinn. Easygoing, but instinctively seeking profundity, he sort of hits somewhere in between, two summer bummer rambles of yawning effort. Wondering how the album will play out; “Sister Alchemy” is from it, while the more traditional “The Rabbit Tracks” is exclusive to this single. Not blowing of mind. Just kinda there, really.
Ratatat is BACK and if you like “Hotel California,” then “Shiller” is for you – look deep inside yourself and ask if you think some Morricone-esque flourishes and the trademark bendy Ratatat guitar/synth thing could spice up that old windbag. No? OK. “Mahalo” says goodbye from Hawaii, dripping with poi and corn syrup, an overstylized mash of studio crud (glissando, strings, slide) – so rough to think about two guys actually making something this corny, then trying to license it for a commercial. Bummer.
Third release and it’s the best one to date. Reatard, right where you want him – somewhere between those earlier singles (particularly the one with the Go-Betweens cover) and Blood Visions – short, clipped, effortless power pop, with “Always Wanting More” fitting right in with his best works of the past few years. Gone, albeit you can scoop up a digital download from the label. Some choad managed to sell one for $50+ days after its release. Come on. Clear vinyl, screenprinted B-side. Looks great, nicest package of any of them so far. Also, is Matador the first label to successfully master a record outside of the Czech Republic and have it pressed there? Maybe that’s the answer; this doesn’t sound bad like most other GZ product.
Unlikely but effective indie rock pollination here, as a rule that I never thought would be written: mature, serious rock like Joel Phelps-era Silkworm as pushed through a computer. On New Steam, imagine that computer is filtering all that earnestness through the Portishead/Broadcast/Nino Rota lens, and fighting for dominance while making both sides look good. They do get that lush and that emotive at the same time, and it’s thrilling to listen to these tracks unfold in such a positively charged space. Possibly over-arranged, but that’s for you to decide – all of these satisfying sounds are put to use, enhancing the turbulent songs beneath them. On the album, all sorts of styles are put into play, from Shearwater-esque Talk Talk worship to Jon Brion-esque big ideas. Definite Manilow fetish. You know you’re down. Assured and evocative stylists of sound. 500 copies on each, heavy vinyl, nice sleeves, you get it.
Close-sounding, decent hardcore from Austin, TX – ex-members of Army of Jesus with Alex Hughes (Hatred Surge) on vocals. Pretty straightforward, with cool rhythmic structure here and there. Angry, yeah, you know the drill. I’m more angry that the copy I got is way noisy and has an audible flaw in both sides. Hopefully the rest of the pressing didn’t turn out that way.
New shit from one of the worst. I can’t think of another band that brings the rage out in me – self-appointed “scenesters” of a London pop scene, hyper-obsessed with making ugly-looking records and fondling Big Flame’s legacy, down to getting Alan Brown in to play bass. Big diff between Sarandon and the bands that they ape, however, in that there’s something undeniably logy about these self-important little scrapers, in that no matter how muscular the rhythm section gets, or how skitterish the guitar, the songs stay idling in the garage, with no ideas of their own or natural inclination to get out. Hideously self-important lyrics underscore how little this group has going for it. An excitable bore, but if I was from England and the only bands in the country worth much of a shit were Todd or Shit & Shine, I’d be upset enough to cough out a green snot like this one. Blue vinyl, many not-really-famous people namechecked on the thank you list.
Finally, new music from this underrated Chicago pop group (a second CD entitled Goodnight Magic Fingers has also materialized, but these two songs are exclusive to this single). Sounds to me like they’re trying to move away from the traditional hazy pop stance of their debut work and into material a bit more confident and advanced; “Rabid Wolves” stomping along with some excellently realized results, all boxy and punchy and with a winning chorus, and “System of Control” riding it out on the flip with a strong melody and a jaunty beat. Another flawless side by these guys, and no it’s not too late to catch on to what they’re doing. Blue vinyl.
Tinny practice recording by Shepherds, kind of sounding like a newer Meneguar track on a loose instrumental tear, building up anxiety and some mild psychedelic dust. Missed out on their album and would really like to hear it. This is a nice one but the compressed dynamics of the track make it less than essential. Ignatz goes out on a bent folk binge then starts playing with the levels. Bedroom (or perhaps hostel) loneliness made public, on the abstract, clinical side. Last in the series and I’m wondering if I have the same ears as I used to, because hardly anything stuck in this year’s subscription. Of course it might not be me.
The Shining Path
Island miscegenation strikes again, but curiously, Shining Path rights many of the wrongs present in that Pocahaunted abortion from the last column – outsider luminarias Ilya Monosov and Preston Swirnoff have operating musical chops outside of “stoned,” and the presence of mind to respect their assorted influences and the people who made them. There’s a heavy dub quality here, but that’s not the only thing going; there’s no strict adhesion to the chief stylistic points of dub reggae, meaning the talent can go running off in any direction, without there having to be some awful “first take” quality to the proceedings. Title track is a shining (ha!) example – thick hand percussion and a rude bass line pulse in time with persistent synth and a countermelody that raises the stakes from lazy Suicide-style groove into a legit chase instrumental, running on its own weird powers. Pretty exciting record, especially on side B, where the outfit’s disparate ideas come together in a somewhat new and exciting way. Hazy, spread-out sonics that attenuate into complete thoughts. Aces.
Rarely do any rock records come in that are so fucked sounding that they could play as significantly rad entities on both 33 and 45 rpm, but this Shit Eagle record did it. Play it slow and it sounds like an authentic cro-magnon glueball a la Monster Truck Five or Drunks with Guns. Play it fast and it’s totally mad, spun-out noise punk that’s so claustrophobic and amorphous-sounding it could be some lost French KBD bonzer. Accented highly by some varispeed percussion (any human under this canopy of dead caterpillars and topsoil could play at either tempo without incident), here’s the cyclone, holding down the keys and trying to break your skull. Really cool.
First American edition of the most recent Sin Ropas album, cut in 2005. Curiously issued as a picture disc with two of the songs excised to meet run time, in an elaborate die-cut sleeve. Why this went down as such, instead of the entire album being issued outside of these novelty circumstances, is anyone’s guess (and no, I don’t really care why), but be thankful for what you’re left with – a stunning, shambling slice of Americana, trading in anger and loss, recorded as flood waters rose around the session. Married couple Tim Hurley (ex-Red Red Meat) and Danni Iosello know the power in bedraggled voices and how to effectively beat their curse with guitars and feedback that stand at attention while drums march solemnly behind. Quite a fine record, wish the whole thing was presented here but what can you do. 500 copies.
Another bad weather report from Skullflower, and a particularly grating, feedbacking drone bumout by Axolotl. Goes in circles, I suppose.
Almost too-typical Slumberland split, pairing lush, albeit samey ethereal pop blur from A Sunny Day in Glasgow, with a mild ballad of twittering reverberations and gentle breeze by The Sunny Street. Please do not store directly in sunlight. White vinyl.
Unassuming, lightweight acoustic pop, traversing a narrow path between early rock and twee pop. Not really catchy enough for the latter or swingin’ enough for the former. Eh.
Freewheelin’ folk-garage strum with strong, multi-tracked female vocals. They’re from Italy, I think, gauging from singer Anna’s accent, but their grasp on this particularly American style of music is full, and the results are very satisfying. “Mary” is the strongest cut here, kind of bringing the same sort of reckless, playful vibes that the RTFO Bandwagon single did – big barnstorming riff, and a swinging, lackadaisical gait about the rhythm section. “Wake Me When I Die” inches towards another tradition – the girl group, as realized by thee Headcoatees, and Holly Golightly manages to shadow all three tracks here in the same instinctive ways. Excellent work, can’t stop listening to it. Red vinyl.
Everybody’s favorite new band from Brooklyn, and it was never hard to see why: pop music with an instructive bent, a show of force and fun by three young women bashing away at pristine girl group pop with the tools of history at hand: noise and rhythm updating the form the same way that the Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine did, as the Shop Assistants and Fuzzbox did, as Henry’s Dress and Black Tambourine did too. It’s just nice to hear it done right, and that’s what’s at stake in the pert ten-song stretch of their LP (pressed at 45, it can’t be more than 20-25 minutes long). Tell the World is apparently culled from the demos that preceded the LP, and shows those roots firmly intact, a rambling, jangling wall of guitar, banging snare drum, and reverbed vocals. 500 of the LP are all gone, but it’s being reissued on In the Red this fall; 1000 of the single, and going fast.
Dense, swarming, well-planned session from three of non-monied extreme music’s most ferocious participants, locking in on one another’s circular styles of riffing, and stays completely on top of itself without sounding mechanical. Squalling, lurching metallic/prog/jazz for the cultural Juggalo in your network. “The Art of Collecting Royalties,” ha. Always nice to check in with Weasel and company today and be treated with another brash slab of hatred. 500 copies, white vinyl.
Twangy guitar, drum machine, and braying country-folk crooning in the shack by the edge of the ravine. Jon Read is the Wiggins and before this one sinks into the blues (but don’t worry, it’s pretty good), tries to slam the Country Teasers against the Raveonettes, kicking up an ungodly squall. “Dog” is the result, ardent in the face of the sleaze it’s surrounded in, and man it’s great. Vocals might detract for some, but for those of us who understand life on the right side of the Cramps-ian divide, that’s not going to be an issue. An unlikely but effective pairing of ideas several generations apart from one another that works. Pretty well. 300 numbered copies. Dull Knife is winning.
More solo bedroom introspection! Please come up with a better name for it than “shitgaze” though. Dictaphone-quality recordings from Wisconsin synth pin-up, awash in open space and half-voiced sentiments. Fits nicely against the first Pink Reason single, I’d say, but more confident, less intentionally obscure, and kind of average. Goth cabaret for the few. White vinyl.
Compilation of four bands hailing from Alaska, certainly one of the last things I expected to receive for review. Representing are Stubby’s Crack Company (drawn-out beer gut punk sleaze with sax), Los Gran Torinos (instrumental guitar/surf-tinged roundabout, also featuring plenty of honkin’ sax), Fats Tunamelt (short, aggressive, somewhat goofy punk) and G.F.Y. (muddy-sounding West Coast punk/HC). It’s a good signifier of how far punk culture has permeated the veritable end of the earth (Stubby’s hail from Anchorage; unsure about the others) – from the sounds these groups produce, OC hardcore, SST releases, perhaps D.O.A. and the Dead Kennedys are about as far as anything with respect to this kind of music has seeped within the local permafrost. Which is perfectly fine – I’ll bet a show with any of these bands, on a good night, are among the best ways you could spend a night up there. Silkscreened sleeves.
Groovin’ lounge/space age instrumental bops, and the requisite interstitials, for a documentary about the Russian space program. Players include Colleen Burke (ex-We Ragazzi) and drummer Jim White (Dirty Three, Cat Power) amongst others less known, like co-composer Jim Becker, who handles a lot of the studio details here. Soundtracks to movies I haven’t seen always lose me a little bit, as it’s so hard to tell why certain music was created without the visuals that inspired it, but for the most part Interkosmos is a raging success, hanging onto a strict yet joyous notion of Japanese group sounds, Kraut drumming, dubular bass and a lively horn section: Gamera vs. Jaki Liebezeit, if you will. Great job; can a Shrug get a hug? 500 copies, pink heavyweight vinyl, in a meticulously letterpressed matchbook sleeve.
Spacing out on their first single, though I recall enjoying it – straight up hated the last one on S-S, and summarily missed all the ones that followed. But this LP is making up for it, big time. It includes the offending track (“In the City”) but also a number of dirgey, dark, fuzzed-out rock numbers that frame it as a spaced-out downer in a neon city of nowhere. Middle-aged alienation in 100,000 pt. typeface, buzzing mercilessly in the face of a sci-fi/UHF late nite punk dystopia (Twinkeyz, Chrome, Flesh Eaters, Toiling Midgets, and the Gun Club all come to mind). So many winners on this thing. Really glad I reconsidered. Clear vinyl, going into its third pressing as well. Make it so, Scott.
Here it is, the cause of several financially rooted arguments in a number of record-buying households across the world last month. Arresting live portraits of the Australian guerrilla industrial act S.P.K., in its feral prime, playing live all over the world and captured on bad quality cassettes, and STILL there’s no shutting down the ferocity and power of these steel-tipped exercises. Missed out on the limited edition with repressed of their first three singles tucked into the box, but what are you gonna do. Six full albums, a shirt, a handsome B/W booklet featuring some intense photos of the artists in action and at arrest, and a lacquered wooden box that’d probably take out any intruder foolhardy enough to break into your living space while you have it handy. Slogun ‘em. 800 copies, pretty much all at stores by now. Cool if you got an extra $200+ handy.
Much as I was stoked on the S.P.K. box, this collection is far more near and dear to my own heart. Early Severed Heads ranged between restless tape-splice compositions, sabotaged sound clips from TV and radio, and an early predilection for synth pop that played out like it was as new and interesting to listen to as it was to make. Here’s five LPs of that stuff, and you get a very clear picture of how the group’s future would shape up, an unstoppably curious tableau of infectiously ironic cultureslam. “Funky Jonestown” (yeah, you guessed it, Lipps Inc. and Jonestown astronauts mashed up) isn’t worth $150 but the surrounding material will make you happy you bit. 600 numbered copies, limited edition w/ T-shirt is gone. Like you were gonna wear a Severed Heads shirt anyway.
Long, condensed sides from these “now wave” acts (Locust on Skin Graft’s payroll, holla). True Primes distort a clear signal of rhythmic vocal loops with all manner of obstacles, be they electronic or merely just feedback. Covers a lot of ground, like some college-educated take on generating headspace rather than groove, which would put them somewhere south of Blues Control, perhaps, but in a similar refrain – plenty of ideas colliding into one another here, not all of which were generated logically, and it works when it needs to. Black Vatican moans in the bedroom, one-man style like so many other lonesome types of late, but with a little more sonic interruption than others, and a refreshing lack of chops – a stumbling guitar line is just that, not some Cure song that the dude was sitting on for his entire adult life. Hard not to recommend, especially the Black Vatican side, but has all the markings of a record that most people will listen to then file.
Venue-centric collection of Vancouver bands that played at/have a stake in a raw industrial space called the Emergency Room. Looks like a blast – big booklet included with the album features a lot of great photos of YOUTH ACTION, the sort of progressive, anti-normative expression that’s great when it includes, say, Sex Vid or Vapid, and a bummer when it comes down to, like, AIDS Wolf, but that’s neither here nor there. What is here – and there’s a lot of it – is grrrl-powered punk, ranging from the traditional (Petroleum By-Products, White Lung) to the very stressed, leveling force thrown off by Mutators. The two Vapid songs here don’t touch their 7” but are cool to have. Defektors kick out two songs that recall both the Observers and the more hostile moments of My Dad Is Dead, something I didn’t expect. Twin Crystals keep it topical, a positive force of DC proportions. Nu Sensae sounds raw as hell, segueing into the obligatory noise track by Sick Buildings (it is 2008 after all). Cover art juxtaposes Neil Burke/Sam McPheeters with John Waters at a punker party. All in all, despite the limits of musical expression imposed upon these bands (and let’s face it – if we haven’t heard it yet, it’s probably not gonna come from here), it’s an eye-opening effort with some good jams and its heart in the right place – in the basement. 924 copies.
Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) pressed on any size of vinyl. I will not review CD-R copies of a vinyl release – you need to send the vinyl itself, even if it includes a CD. 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 is accepted for review. Do not be afraid.
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