Still Single: Vol. 5, No. 5
Here’s the latest roundup from part of the new Still Single team. Keep sendin’ the records in, we’ll keep covering them. Reviews are sorted alphabetically and credited to the authors stated. Keep checking the blog (for now, it’s http://still-single.tumblr.com) and sign up for the Twitter feed (@stillsingle) for new release announcements, reviews, and other news.
A warning to the “it’s about the music” types that find everything under the presentation umbrella an unimportant factor when judging an artist’s creative strengths: Dismissal, or even downright disdain, is in the cards when “Bipolar Bear” wins a band-naming conundrum … sound unheard. Even with the Avant 101 title of Abstract Distractions, all jaded and grouchy preconceptions are washed clean by Bipolar Bear’s wonderful microwaving of some mid-90s bent-all-to-hell noise-pop leftovers. It will be a sad day if this is passed up by the A&R rep scenesters working for Fat Possum, Woodsist, and In the Red, but that’s the thing about reality; it is often a sad thing. Bipolar Bear gives the world five blasts of alternately fuzzy/jagged dissonance; a suitable stepping stone towards more adventurous fare like Wildildlife. It’d be off to bed happy and fed if Talbot Tagora’s side didn’t manage to measure up, but TT’s side is what really saves Abstract Distractions from the “records that could appreciate” pile. They put together late-80s Sonic Youth (the best aspects of the same’s subsequent yet worthy imitators) plus 1st-gen NYC No Wave from minds that have more than simply read about 1st-gen NYC No-Wave, like an engine for about half of the story, happily stopping short of an easier assessment. Talbot Tagora is a band to look out for because we won’t know what’s coming. During this era when bands desire homogeneity, unpredictability of any stripe is welcome.
New vinyl, and not an easy piece to obtain, from one of my favorite bands. The Breeders’ unfortunate dip in cohesion long past them, this is a self-released EP, silkscreened and hand-numbered by the Deals, and cast to the breeze at a peak of self-confidence I’m not sure this band ever crested to on record. This wasn’t easy for me to find, and it seems like the first 100 copies have unique sleeve variants, so the market has been a little too inflated for this particular release. Probably missed Record Store Day by a week or two but the hordes descended all the same. Anyway, idols. But having Mark Lanegan guest on lead vocals for one of these four tracks (sounds like either Kim or Kelley on distorted backup yelps), and having that song be a ballad, is sort of bummer city. The acoustic campfire version of Bob Marley’s “Chances Are” is the sort of thing that screams B-side. But there are two legit great new Breeders tracks on here in “Fate to Fatal,” the sort of rockingly langorous, infuriated call-out they do so well, four crashing chords and vocal belts at the top of the sisters’ vocal range; and in “Pinnacle Hollow,” a long, muted, drumless guitar exploration mounted on two or three very sturdy pop/country ideas. It’s a perfect balance, and I suppose EPs being what they are, this one ranks just below Safari, and somewhere around Head to Toe in terms of how important it is to your life. 1000 copies, and now available for download from all major services.
Nerds and outcasts play like they know the score. Look at a Chicago band called Bundle of Fags, who try to toughen up but can’t hide the strum-happy, breathless exhilaration of playing in a band designed to repel. Hey hey, sticks in ties may chafe your thighs and all, but names can only be repeated throughout the A-side, which tries to balance out a slightly tricky rhythm guitar line over boilerplate garage dude yellin’ and accusin’. This could be a Tyvek song – actually either of these could be – if you removed the big chip sitting on this band’s shoulder. 300 copies or so.
Detroit’s last rock and roll band soldiers on, going in the direction you might have anticipated – a big, rousing singalong and a well-known cover, probably the closest this side of music has come since Bullet Lavolta covered “Hello There.” John Brannon’s trademark rotted howl elevates Easy Action above the battered bar-band ranks. He’s also pictured on the back sleeve with a big bag of frosted Keebler animal crackers. The lighter side of intense frontmen, I guess. These guys are lifers and deserve the lifetime pass; regardless of what you might think about this one, not to mention that it’s been four years since their last new record, we need music like theirs to be around.
If there is one thing Fonzies love, it’s girls shaking it, and The Eegos manage to stress the importance of shaking on both of the tracks on the A side of this single. Initially, they posit that if you aren’t shaking it, you ought to get out of here (“If You Ain’t Shaking”); soon after, they consider that, even though your daddy might be rich, your lack of shaking it is a deal breaker (“Daddy’s Money”). Later they threaten to stab a girl (“Going Dead”), which isn’t explicitly shake related, but probably a safe bet. The Eegos bring some stripped down snotty mid tempo “Orgasm Addict” garage punk, basement style. The guitars have a clean but overdriven ring. They could benefit from trying to play about 20% faster, but really who couldn’t? It might give them better luck with the ladies.
KBD nug from 1982, dug up in a limited edition repress by the advanced humans at Drag City. This Buffalo, NY band (half of which have adopted a sleeveless outlook on life) cut this single with little know-how, it would seem; they jam seven to eight minutes per side on a seven-inch, and almost all of the guitar tone is rolled off so that the music would fit at all. One has to wonder if retention of the artist’s original manufacturing mishap would be necessary in a reissue, where such rights might be wrong, but the badge of ineptitude remains. You’re essentially left with a dull drum thud, roomy bass, and a snotty singer with lyrics from the outside-looking-in perspective. It’s pretty fun at times, though, especially the title track, very reminiscent of No Trend, four muffled minutes of bile for anyone who “acts like an asshole.”
Jesus! Unreal punk/noise from a Philadelphia outfit that’s splintered somewhat to the West Coast, but are maintaining a level of activity, and what a level! Reissuing a difficult-to-obtain CD/cassette release from Denmark, this EP pounds you senseless with ideas and nuance. Three tracks of skull music (and I’m sure the originators of that term would agree), a combination of rowdy futuristic street punk crossed up with signal-jamming electronics, crowd-dispersing synth patches, heavily processed vocals and a mechanical, totalitarian bent; really leaves a stain. Like Chrome, they find an alternate route around hybrid music that’s based on disorientation, but as the lengthy middle track “Golemsmoke” proves, the Ronnies have a bit more of an attention span, roasting a two-chord dirge far beyond a reasonable level, until it becomes mantra. It took these guys a while to get it together between releases (their first single came out via Richie well over a year ago) but it seems like the time was put to good use, as this record raises the bar for bands of their kind. Beautiful silkscreened flat, clear vinyl, and silkscreened B-side in one of those thick vinyl pouches, a really nice job. 400 copies pressed.
Jerk stupid two chord Headcoats stompers about America’s favorite pastime: puttin’ it in and gettin’ fucked up. Pink side (GET IT!?) is “Krystina” (“they can hear her callin’ their name”?), about ballin’ and cummin’. Black side is about getting fucked up, and a bonus one about needing to put it in. The Fuck Knights know what side of their bread is buttered. Sir Getsalottapuss provides Konks’ style floor tom, snare, & crash drumming and vocals. Lord Ballbag and Sir Fuxalot grind along, but never quite swing, musically. The only problem is they’re all so worn out from pounding it that it doesn’t sound as depraved or clever as its presentation wants you to believe.
Gary War is a good example of the bedroom psychedelia aesthetic successfully transformed into pretty good songs. Sounding like a more lucid and focused Ariel Pink, this Massachusetts fellow runs through two sides of murky, heavily-affected keyboard-driven pop that predate his LP by a couple years, yet are the newest vinyl offering. While this material is not as immediate, it has an adhesive quality with bits and pieces of these songs running in and out of my head at various points in the weeks since I first heard them. That insidiousness is definitely remarkable in the hyper-stimulated world of easily accessible music and constant sonic barrage in which many of us voluntarily engage.
The tail end of the screamo generation’s meds kicked in, and whipped them into neons. Instead of hurting themselves (or their girlfriends) I guess it’s my turn to suffer. “Die Slow” starts off with some looping microsampled synth tone, pitch shifted around, loop rate adjusted. An industrial pulse thuds in, and a brief glimpse of guitar grinds overpowers, before fading off to the synth loops. The singer is drenched in reverb and doing his best Kevin Shields impression, but not quite hitting the post. The loops and beat fall into a tight lockstep, and it becomes easy to tune out. Do kids still do E? Maybe that’s the point. It’s not quite minimal enough to require scrutiny, or maximal enough to be fun. The flip is a remix of the A side, and much more successful. Pictureplane goes with some fatter analog synth tones, and Latin style timbale beats bump it up. He tosses another layer of synth on the kid’s voice and pushes it around, which give it a Crystal Castles quality.
Hailing from Milwaukee, Jail’s apparently inaugural release is a 12-song LP (with accompanying CD-R of the same material) of highly competent, well-composed and well-played rock. The lyrical witticisms and rosy sound call to mind the less fragile moments of the Shins, intersecting with something a bit grittier, but no more dangerous than Ted Leo. The simple presentation of this record belies the contents, in that we are offered a plain white sleeve with paste-on, xeroxed artwork, and hand-written labels on the record itself. The bouncy, upbeat and verbose indie pop-rock is among the last things I expected from a band called Jail, and behind that package, yet here we are. I would not be surprised to see Jail’s name in great abundance in the near future, perhaps associated with a larger label, as they are surely accessible, and skilled at their chosen craft. However, I take about as much interest in them as I do most innocuous, pillow-soft, blog-ready modern indie rock bands: zero.
Astonishing. Absolutely astonishing. This is an ideal future for noise and experimental releases. Let’s just hope the rest of the wide, unfocused and less convincing pack take notice. In “Physical Changes”, accomplished percussionist Mueller (primarily of Collections of Colonies of Bees, as well as stints with Swans, Rhys Chatham, and others, his Myspace tells me) has assembled a quality cast of cohorts to achieve a multi-format survey of mechanical desolation, as told through metallic sound layers of unknown origin. Co-conspirator James Plotkin helps craft the two sides of the LP into the soundtrack for the Machines as they crush the bones of vanished humanity. Dense apocalypse drones for a dismal future, mastered flawlessly loud and clear. The DVD (with visuals by David Dinelli) drapes a funereal haze over common landscape scenes, appropriating imagery that would not be out of place in a black metal record, but here it is almost the perfect partner for the post-industrial soundscapes by Mueller and company. The CD offers the most song-like (and almost out of place) compositions, if only for using identifiable instruments in its two half-hour offerings, which play off one another in a synergy, as is common to each format. The collaborators include members of Wilco, Collections of Colonies of Bees and others, and without delving into the histories of each person it suffices to say they all contribute to the big picture of this release. I do not dabble in noise too frequently, so I would expect some to be let down by this, but the clear and thematic vision, replete with stark black-and-white art, is 100% convincing for me.
This inoffensive garage/hard-rock two-piece, with a full-length on a tiny label and released in a hand-numbered edition of 500, could be any number of innocuous “Rock is Back” hands played by the majors over the past ten years. There’s something honest about The Loners gleeful disregard for a decade’s worth of faux-garage boardroom creations found on X-station radio or 561-sponsor festival stages (in early-afternoon slots). Sadly, the hooks, imagination, and presentation are all deficient in that special way that almost exclusively warns of a terminally-local band. Revolution! is the obligatory yet ill-advised first and last jump over the city limits, bringing along a condensing and neutering of ‘90s and ‘00s hard/garage rock so complete, it’s practically an artistic achievement in and of itself. Songs like “Soul Shaker” (as in “I wanna be your…”) and “Crank it Up” are rare cases of mediocrity so acute it transcends the common idea of the term. Is this a weird new super-mediocrity that has yet to be discovered? Possibly. As for the cover art, even the members’ respective moms might find it impossible to get past an armed cartoon bunny bursting from “tripped-out” circa-Windows 95 clip art and the public domain trash-rock font.
It is a difficult thing to sound totally bored with what you are doing and still be engaging. While Naked on the Vague seems to have pulled this off on their debut LP, the subsequent releases, including this most recent EP, have been far less convincing. This Australian duo does their best to translate detached apathy into simple songs with a slightly ominous quality, and they always seem to successfully evoke that Halloween-party-with-a-red-sheet-thrown-over-the-lamp mood. However, there really isn’t much beyond that initial spookiness to invite repeat listening. Plaintive, semi-annoyed female vocals slither atop danceable percussion, with minor-key bass and synth accompaniment, and a bit of the Oceanic sound informing its noisy clatter. Unfortunately, it’s nothing too out of the ordinary for the twenty-first century.
Album number two for Nothing People, some older gentlemen from rural California who killed it the first time out and kill it again, subdued but sharp action from a darkened ranch-style home with astrological charts on the wall and some “Blue Sunshine” chillin’ in the freezer. The title really defines it all; underlit anthems that zoom past last call, using both rock and synthed-out means to strain towards psychedelic activation. Great for parties where things get weird, and there’s one particularly bad trip called “Janet” that’ll send even those who have found God lunging for the Thorazine. It’s the most thematically consistent record I’ve heard in a long time, hovering spectral song forms and dog-tired expanses that make up your mindset during sleep. This record is dark and droll, referencing Tuxedomoon and Suicide and possibly Mercury Rev, and could have believably existed in some form since about 1975, definitely on some classic, album-of-this-half-of-the-year shit. S-S possibly aims to become the SST of this era, and so far it’s working. Ex-Monoshock too, now, in case you needed further encouragement.
Obits are such a meat-and-potatoes band that it’s getting hard, even after a single and a full-length, to find new and interesting things to say about them. That’s fine, though, as there’s certainly nothing wrong (and a whole lot right) about “I Can’t Lose,” a ringing, stinging anthem which pits Rick Froberg’s voice – just on the verge of rancor – against a bright, confident rock jangle, somewhere in between Froberg’s last band Hot Snakes and the timeless choogle of CCR. Flipside is a cover by Graham Nash that might have been a bit more prescient when it was recorded, as we’re thankfully living in a new day, albeit one where the worst is far from over. Record Store Day release, red vinyl in handsome stock chipboard sleeve, with sticker and digital download coupon.
One Hundred Dollars
There’s no reason why the ‘Nucks shouldn’t be allowed to take on country and western music; who knows, they might produce something as fractured and beautiful as mid-80s Mekons records. But these Torontonians play it straight, though they benefit from having a distinct direction rather than being confined by it. This single, the first in a “regional” series designed to be released on a different label for every Canadian provence, has sweet twangy vocals from co-songwriter Simone Schmidt that are the exceptional element of both songs. Though she may lean a bit heavy on the conventional delivery/affect that goes with the genre, she performs with honesty and passion. This is country music with a social conscience, so leave your whiskey and shotguns at the border. “Fourteenth Floor” is dedicated to hospital staff and you can guess what the flipside is about. The band keeps things fluid, with piano and organ employed sparingly, balanced by an uptempo beat. If there’s pain in these songs, it’s subdued by the precision by which One Hundred Dollars outlines their stories. I could see this being a pretty nice series: the countrified musical panorama of contemporary Canada you never expected.
Our Love Will Destroy the World
The Lil Wayne of giant noisy New Zealand drones, Campbell Kneale recently retired his Birchville Cat Motel moniker in favor of the slate cleaning Our Love Will Destroy The World, which happened to be the name of a B.C.M. album, a bit like those guys in Hoover starting a band called Regulator Watts, but much less emo. Or maybe not. A Zen master at (among other things) taking the metal out of black metal and shaping planet-busting drones that you might actually want to listen to instead of just collect, Kneale’s been so good for so long that it’s easy to miss how skilled a composer he is, stacking ambient synth fuzz, deep focus rhythms and guitar howl like the pro he’s become. These four songs never wander into either “boring” or “Make it stop, you friendless nerd” because he builds around hypnotic riffs, ebbing and flowing the sound in ever shifting shapes. Mind you, it’s still the perfect soundtrack to that Skipp and Spector paperback you found for a quarter – dude knows from sheer hellish miasma. But his work has always had this almost devotional element to it. Which makes sense, because in every tradition, the only thing with love strong enough to destroy the world is God. LP only, no idea on the copy count, assume it is “rush-worthy.”
I want to acknowledge Kevin F. for making sure I heard this one, going so far as to give me his personal copy. “It’s being repressed,” he told me. “Nobody’s written about it anywhere,” he added, presenting another challenge that I have taken at his word. We both agreed that a lot of splits don’t work, and you don’t really even have to ask why. But he seemed convinced that this one did, and it’s my job to understand that, beyond both bands originated in Wisconsin, with HB’s JOs still calling Green Bay home. My guess is that those of you playing at home are more likely to have records by one of these artists than the other. One night I caught Hue Blanc playing to three people (me being the third). I could tell they were coming from a truthful, deafening place, and they even grossed me out a bit on their last album Arriere Garde (S-S). Without necessarily trying to understand either artists’ approaches to playing, there are a handful of similarities in between how both groups tend to be recalled after the songs end. They speak the same dialect, Hue Blanc’s cranky and scornful, Pink Reason’s agitated but somewhat mournful, both vehemently dissatisfied with the way things are. Pink Reason side is a solo set, a harrowing stumble to a car in the cold night, while the Joyless Ones bash the hell out of PR’s By a Thread single. Hue Blanc’s eternal underdog status or Pink Reason’s fluid, anything goes approach to capturing the moment haven’t changed at all, and this split provides further insight into what makes these two outfits who they are. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably made your choice, but you’d be missing out on yet another piece of a very tricky puzzle.
One of the two big winners from Portland’s local label Felony Fidelity, and it’s the soundtrack to the “Animal House” caliber blowout that I always wanted to be at, but never was. The Pity Fucks tear through four filthy, buzzing anthems held together by a gravelly, soulful howl, and propelled by the sweetest Hammond organ bounce. They manage to walk the line between the time to dance and the time to fight, and the glass shards stop raining down only long enough for the skirts to go up.
First new reports from Reports in a good long while, and it’s welcome whenever they’re ready to offer more songs. Centered around songwriter and ringleader Martin, they seem to operate at a hobbyist’s pace, rarely leaving the Boston area and reportedly playing with different lineups. Whoever’s backing Martin up on this one has put a fire under his ass; these are the fastest and most catchy songs they’ve released to date. “Bill Wyman” busts along at a breakneck pace, the crap-fi recording offset with reverb in a charming way that would recall the Wedding Present meets Blondie ca. “Dreaming” if neither party had the backing to make the records they did. It’s a great song that overcomes its rendering, one which is more suited to the bashing flipside “Attleboro Trailers,” all understatedly sassy single-minded riffage, the kind that the Fall or the Velvets would rely on. This is a big step forward from their already fantastic Mosquito Nets album, and I hope they continue to surprise. Two for two on records by Ride the Snake; eager for that Dead At 24 album, too.
I love these kinds of records. A sensibility-free cover (naked lady with a “Don’t Tread On Me” snake head wears bunny slippers and walks a schnauzer) belies some surprisingly great songs. “Dog Factory” kicks in like an anthem, their singer’s swinging drawl driven by some dingy bare bones guitar with a hint of twang, leading into a middle-finger solo. The band sounds perfectly ramshackle, but the songwriting is strong, and it all adds up to something brilliant. The closer “247-6911” finds them a fuzz pedal and some bellowing practice. Highly recommended.
‘90s imitation from Austin, TX, originally released in 2007 but making its vinyl debut here. Thinking about how much impact a few years would have on a shoegaze revival act the further out you go on into history is kind of boring and a waste of time. If the record is good, really that’s what matters. They’ve already come a lot farther than many of the bands currently rocking the JAMC/Ride/Swervedriver/early Moose pageboy pedal-hoppin’ mope, at least in terms of being able to emulate several shoegaze benchmarks (the transformed guitar samples of My Bloody Valentine, the too-cool posture of a Bobby Gillespie, and more). What I appreciate about these folks is their love for this kind of music, coupled with their ability to make that love evident to the trained ear. These kids cover a whole lot of ground, and their ambition keeps things interesting. 500 copies, pink vinyl.
A sizeable step ahead from their debut single, the new Slices EP (the Kasunic brothers, also seen in Rot Shit and Tusk Lord, former MRR columnist Greg Mantooth on vocals and Brain Handle’s Mike Ovens on drums) finds the band aware of its heft and throwing it around with little regard to safety or reason. This is a Pittsburgh band much like the ones I grew up on; past hardcore, into thick, ugly midtempo disembowelments, dripping with the viscera of an Unsane album cover. That’s a good point of reference to the three most memorable tracks of the five here, along with Kittens, early Blunderbuss, maybe even Walls; churning, torrid, teeth-grindingly heavy. Heard from Drunkdriver that this was the best band they played with on their tour last year, and can’t wait to see them myself. Silkscreened sleeve.
Or “Death and Love” might be a more sequentially correct title, since the A-side is “Death Cream,” a slightly macabre pop song. The vocal melody is a melting update of the Stones’ “Factory Girl,” but injected with its own vibe of ocean breeze and fragility. There’s a bit of bounce to this band, suggesting sunrise rather than sunset, and it undercuts the whole death trip in the lyrics. Flip it over and you get “Strange Love,” with indistinct harmonies, a yearning piano line, and super thick handclaps. It has the feel of ‘50s doo-wop, yet avoids being a retro/novelty act. There’s a genuine enthusiasm in these songs that makes this record very likeable. Also, it comes with a Xeroxed comic book detailing Sonny’s struggle with addiction and hitting rock bottom, which casts such a pallor over the record that I’d advise saving it ‘til after you’ve listened to the tunes.
It’s all in how the source material is handled. The bedraggled, near-ruined sonic punching bag known and tolerated as 80’s synth pop is one of those full-circle influences now requiring a musical practitioner possess serious goods or risk immediate irrelevence. Therefore, it makes comforting sense that T.A.S.K. is a mysterious Berlin-based group brought into the world (over to the states) by the only other creative entity capable of doing something exciting with the aforementioned source material: Wes Eisold of Cold Cave fame. According to Eisold’s Heartworm Press site, Relaxing Time is Over was recorded in a Berlin living room during the separate winters of 2005 and 2006 (rather than successive December-into-January style), altogether avoiding the summer months for the purpose of creativity. Fair enough. From that innocent display of quirkiness and onto allegations that members have collaborated with one-half of The Velvet Underground, Eugene Chadbourne, Jad Fair, and Flipper; as former band, Metabolismus, they saved Kim Fowley from being killed in the streets when the tall and skinny one arrived from the States, performed in a squatter’s loft, and christened the residents as “white negroes” (probably not the n-word used at the time). At the risk of falling for a band-bio prank, or if the information is correct, taking the reader further into the abyss of unrelated topics, Relaxing Time is Over is actually a VERY relaxing album. It lacks the density and noisenik draw of Cold Cave, instead dialing up the pop and plucked/strummed guitar of an imaginary twee-pop version of Adult. The vocals are monotone but avoid the robotic silliness of some bands as well as the sexy breathiness of, say, Fischerspooner. Cold Cave fans are going to snatch up the limited edition of 500 because of the association, and it’s hoped that they embrace the pop-savvy electro-bubblegum of Relaxing Time is Over and understand that Eisold’s not the type of short-sighted tastemaker to paint his world with facsimiles of his own work.
Detouring Natural Snow Building’s blues drone into mournful, emotionally collapsed folk, sound sculpter Mehdi Ameziane parlays a fragile hand with back-from-the-dead determination on both of these releases. Joined in places by Solange Gularte, also of Natural Snow Buildings, on cello and flute, keep things light and almost martial in spaces like “Bride of the Spirits” (appearing on both of these releases) and the celestial expanse of “Maps of Dreams.” This is mystical music, flowering and sublime on the 7”, but several shades darker throughout most of the full-length. Chilling, and only a tiny bit overdone; the abilities at hand here outweigh a couple of maudlin missteps. C93, Ennio Morricone, the sound of teenage seafoam ghosts come back from the dead to tell you the horror of the other side. You get it. Whoops, no you don’t: 7” was pressed in a numbered run of 300 in a 24-page, full-color booklet on a color of vinyl that adequately captures the music within; the LP is in a micropressing of 105, in a beautifully silkscreened chipboard jacket and an eight-page oversize booklet. A bounty of music and art, the kind of thing Pocahaunted or CocoRosie should be able to make, but can’t.
Minimal, rhythm heavy garage pop from three Olympia girls with a dose of ‘50s inspired melodies and a great groove. The jangled guitars get a little loose on the B-side, but it’s all buried under the haunted vocals and a mile of reverb. It’s stripped down, but brings a big sound like a basement version of The Raveonettes, minus the guitar tone-project, distortion, and production.
Something to do for Philadelphians Richard Charles, Max Milgram, and Meg Baird between Phillies games, Watery Love bats around a handful of fight-ready, bad mood riffs in a small, grotty space. There’s a lot of spillover and a perceived lack of control that gives way to something more lasting. Mr. Charles helped to invent skull music as we now understand it, so it’s fitting that this release falls squarely into the pantheon of blunt, simplistic punk rock designed to stick to the surface, and even more simply, that their first song would be called “(I’m a) Skull,” and that lengthy B-side marathon “All Night Long” would exemplify this micro-genre. Loud, boxy, aggressive punk rock (no roll), with no need for grace. 330 numbered copies.
Fuck, can we stop with these bedroom projects already? How much blankdoggin’ can one man take?! You are reading my words here, on the Internet, so you probably already know exactly what this sounds like. Lo-fi and blown out (within reason of course) in the exact same way as everyone else’s lo-fi blown out bedroom project. It’s pop, but it’s noisy too! This is born entirely out of a generation of kids whose primary socialization comes from reading what everyone else is thinking on blogs and message boards. The whole scene is built on some artifice of non-fidelity, but everyone repeats the tricks in the same pitch perfect way. They’re tirelessly cranking out interchangeable singles built on a single, grinded theme. Before Boost Mobile snaps this dude up for sponsorship I hope he has time to write “Ouroboros Goths.”
I feel like something has to be said about these compilations, which have been going on at a steady clip for the past couple of years (“Since 2007”). Drumroll, please … uh, they’re pretty good? At least the ones I’ve heard have been compiled with a careful ear, and have done a good job of uniting newer artists into the fold alongside the more established. Compilations, traditionally the worst-selling records around, need to be handled more like this kind of modern document, much like those Dope-Guns-N-Fucking in the Streets comps or, as TJ Laxx recalled, those Life is ———— So Why Not —————- LPs from the early ‘80s, chronicling every skid row corner of punk and avant-garde cabaret music being made in southern California. Now that records have gone completely boutique (yes, maybe we can admit this now) and are allowed to thrive under standards not necessarily applicable to the style in which we communicated 20-30 years ago, it’s nice to have a trustworthy ear collecting bands old and new, pushing another pin in the map to mark a place we should remember, as it were.
These latest missives are some of the first in the series to follow themes. Vol. 7 features four bands from Australia, all part of that whole AUS scene revival you no doubt picked up on vis a vis Eddy Current Suppression Ring (who offers up a throwaway here). They’re joined by acolytes the UV Race, who are quickly stepping into the role of simple, slightly comical punk rock that ECSR continues to occupy. There’s some energetic, talentless bash from Super Wild Horses, a couple of girls who can’t even be bothered to tune, much less play a chord on the guitar, and there’s the garage-psych haunt of the Straight Arrows. None of these bands make much of a dent but surprisingly this one has a shelf life beyond one listen, though not too many more.
Vol. 8 is like a senior class yearbook, featuring nine songs from bands that span the beginning of this new lo-fi revival (Times New Viking, the Intelligence) to the end of its first phase (Vivian Girls, Mike Sniper & Tubesteak Army; Wavves seems to be the real wall separating grown-ass men from jittery children, and as such are not included here), mixed through with kids and actual, card-carrying ‘90s (and quite possibly late ‘80s) participants. It’s interesting to see this United Nations-esque approach played out so successfully, so many once-disparate ideas crashing into one another … even a shout out to eBay in the Guinea Worms’ “Soiled Sender.” Fuck, the entire second side (“side R”) of this thing – Sic Alps, Thee Oh Sees, Tyvek and Pink Reason – just lays it all out there, really great, signature examples of what those bands can do, all breaking rank a bit from previous excursions but not far enough that we’ll all lose the script. I still can’t quite figure out what Thee Oh Sees is all about; Clinic by way of the Stray Cats, maybe? Thing is though that it’s FUN, and that trumps all these days. A good time is had by all here, and everyone sent in a piece of A-game, right down to Pink Reason’s most masculine effort to date, switching the first twenty Twisted Village releases with a strong remnant of S.E. Hinton jean jacket lone wolf boogie. What’s obvious here is that it’s time to start taking two-thirds of these bands very seriously, your choice as to which. Plenty of cover variants, because “why be normaL”?
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 Dusted Magazine