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Still Single: Vol. 5, No. 9

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Doug Mosurock and his band of Single men let it all hang out after a six-week absence.

Still Single: Vol. 5, No. 9

Hey gang. For those of you who weren’t following along on the blog, there may have been cause for concern that Still Single might have left you. Why would you think that? Here we are, with somewhere around 100 reviews to hold you over for a couple of weeks.

Sometimes you might notice that I have a tendency to show vitriol towards certain records. Let me assure you, some of that was definitely me channeling my rage against the byzantine and wholly improvised chaos that goes down at the home of my post office box. I’m one for being proactive, so I am saying goodbye to Long Island City -- forever -- and have gotten myself a new mailbox in NYC.


Doug Mosurock
PO Box 3087
New York, NY 10185-3087

All Still Single mail should go to this address from here on out. PLEASE address the mail to Doug Mosurock and NOT to Still Single, or else I won’t receive it.

Thanks to everyone who helped out. Here goes…

Sam Amidon and Aaron Siegel
Fiddle and Drum LP
(Peacock Recordings)

Improv fumblings on … guess what, fiddle and drums. Starts off searching for some sort of square dance with some down homey violin textures, but eventually busts some porkpie beatnik Knitting Factory moves. Because this record does not go for the jugular from the get-go, and it’s got “academia” written all over it, my bet is it was funded with grants. I’m glad all that “yes we can” money went to some jams. Interesting flight from Henry Flynt-styled fluxus nu-bluegrass to low-energy pass-or-fail drum dumb. Side 2 gets a good head of steam going before it sputters out with “Kentucky Melodies”. Works about 20% of the time for me, though there are some wincing moments with thumb bells. Both of these dudes seem to have extensive discographies so plow in if this sounds like it’s your scene. I hope these dudes get laid all the time. (http://www.peacock-recordings.com)
(Ben McOsker)

The Anals
Total Anal LP

Was I disappointed when I learned that most of the French punk/noise records I’d been enjoying over the past few years were actually made by the same group of people under different names? Hell no, that’s nothing to get disappointed over. As I continue to write these reviews, I feel compelled to know less about these people. I rarely venture to their shows, don’t have much contact with them, and my interest basically ends with whatever records I can grab onto. All I know about the Anals is that it’s the same people responsible for A.H. Kraken, the Feeling of Love, and a couple of others, and that one member is dead. I don’t even want to know how the death occurred. It would distract from my task, as I’d lump that death in with everyone else I know who died that way (and if I hadn’t met anyone who’d passed on like that, it’d be even more distracting). All I really need to tell you about is the music. Two of these songs were released on a Sweet Rot 7”, possibly the best release that imprint has mounted to date. Here they are again, along with ten other tracks from the same session. It’s a nutbuster, agonized male vocals echoing out over primitive mnml synth/sample and caveman tom pound. It’s noisy as hell, nihilistic and black-blooded, and sounds like something Vinyl-on-Demand will resurface in twenty years’ time, despite its insistence on grabbing ideas from the cassette/art chasm of decades past and channels it into their own needs. If there’s a little bit of monkeying around with a formula, it doesn’t come at the cost of entertainment, as this is definitely a fun record, even torture sessions like “I Married a Slut.” Much of it sounds made up on the spot, and likely sequenced in the order it was recorded. A great heat is generated in “Vaginal Death Tunnel,” along with one of the more intriguing song titles to come up this year. The “cover” of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” breaks down some borders (“Pretend that you’re a girl”) and provides some yux. And best of all, the last three tracks here simply collapse into a kinetic splotch, Dead C. style; their makers spent of all ideas and running off biorhythmic feedback and amphetamine spikes. Somebody died for this entertainment, and that’s why I don’t want to look any further into it. But I do love it – a lot, in fact – and think that if you too have seen it all, this Brainbombs-inspired mess will tickle your taint, and you’ll let it. 500 copies, nearly gone. Hats off to the Permanent Records crew in Chicago, for running one of that city’s finest stores. I bought this directly from the source, and they threw in a Poppy Family 45 free of charge. How thoughtful. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Beets
Spit in the Face of People Who Don’t Want to Be Cool LP
“Don’t Fit In My Head” b/w “It’s Okay to Lose” 7”
(Captured Tracks)

One of NYC’s best bands as of late is called the Beets. People get mad because there’s a band from the Nickelodeon cartoon called “Doug” named the Beets as well. You’d think a guy named Doug would know about that, but I prefer to live in the now when it comes to bands I would actually leave the house to see these days (and you know there ain’t too many). They’re three South American kids who live in Jackson Heights, all young dudes and livin’ it up as the case may be. In this world of Blank Doggin’ and Vivian Girlin’ walkin’ on stilts of crystal, they fit in through a most presumptuous, childlike demeanor, and still manage to grab my attention every time. Acoustic amplified shamble, riding the reverb tank as it swells and ebbs on the poop deck of the Sloop John B. Gang vocals, mostly, very simple melodies and tin can telephone recording quality, but man, they got the songs. Basic is better most of the time, and these guys know it. Nothing much changes between their LP and the single; though the single has more intense artwork, including a full-color insert of some WWF action figures, both feature hand-drawn artwork by one Matthew Volz, whose colored-pencil and straight line style calls to mind a thoroughly unglued, high school prodigy take on somebody like Richard Sala. Big Andy Kaufman fixation in the drawings of both records, which comes into clear focus on the single (which preceded the LP by about six months). If you like one song you will like them all, but some are clearly more memorable than others. There’s very few points of failure – if you can appreciate a Beat Happening record, or a Melody Dog single, you will no doubt find something to love here. For me, that moment hits on side two of the LP, with a song called “Go Away.” It’s two minutes of righteous anger cast off of one’s shoulders to a warm and sunny day. I play this one over and over and eventually I’m gonna wear it out, or find another song of theirs to enjoy this much. Music like this takes away a part of you. Last time I saw the Beets I waited until after they were done to cut my leg open on some errant piece of metal I brushed past in the dark, and that’s good, because I probably would have lost a lot more blood than I was ready for. I wasn’t going to go to the ER or anything, so I just came home and dressed it myself. When I was urged to see a doctor as this gash was turning the color of rotted fruit, she told me, “yeah, I woulda put eight stitches in that.” I still have the scar and I look down at it, peeling and itching, and am reminded of the Beets, in that glorious moment before it happened, back when I was whole. Ascend into greatness, Beets. (http://capturedtracks.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP

Most people obsessed with music have specific memories of bands that opened the DIY door for them. In that regard, I can see Vancouver’s B-Lines making great scene fertilizer for some impressionable kids. Their debut 7” crams in six bursts of snottily-voiced hardcore punk with some insidiously infectious hooks, though it shares a common border with pop punk on the tasteful side. The recording is a bit raw but balanced, which is a refreshing break from all the four-track racket going around. The guitars are overdriven, but not heavily distorted, and the singer’s voice sounds unaffected, with real squeaks and cracks, drums are loud and have an energetic punch. Imagine Canada’s other great snot factory, Career Suicide, lightened with some of High Tension Wires’ energy, writing Creep Records style punk. Along those lines, it looks like Nominal Records is doing for Vancouver what Creep did for Pennsylvania, documenting an interesting thriving scene. 445 copies on marble white. (http://www.recordsnominal.com)

Black Lips
“Disconnection” b/w “99 Victs” 7”
(Sub Pop)

Sacrilege to some, I know, but I gave up on the Black Lips after their first two 7”s, and only picked up that Live at Rob’s House single on a whim. There were a lot of bands in my life, and there wasn’t room for any more. I’m not terribly interested in what I missed right now, but someday I may be – I find that it’s a great joy to discover a band I realize I am way into years after the fact. But the Black Lips will probably never split up, so who knows when that chance will come. This probably isn’t the best place to start, and the drunken slur of “Disconnection” doesn’t do it for me, but “99 Victs” is the best punk song I’ve heard in a week. Alright, this week. Think of all the words spilled on this band by others, and how little there is left for me to say about one more garage band. Hey, at least this one has two or three good songs in ‘em, and maybe more. Guess I’ll have to find out later. Sub Pop Singles Club release, split clear blue/pink vinyl, 1500 copies present and accounted for. (http://www.subpop.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Blank Dogs – “Slow Room!” b/w “Anywhere” 7” (Captured Tracks)

Blank Skins, Scam Dogs, Mikey “You Bet I’ve Got Something Personal Against You!” (Wesley) Snipes, Mr. Personality, The Most Overextended Man in Brooklyn … call this rough rider what you will. Personally I’d be into having one of those Still Single vs. Blank Dogs radio call-in shows like Born Against held with Sick of It All back in the early ‘90s, if only to see if this dude would look me in the eye. It really seems like I’m the only person dealing with these sort of records that hasn’t fallen for whatever it is that this guy is selling. And it’s commendable to have extricated these tracks from the fraudulent pre-order schemes of one drug-addled man who still roams free, the ass-beating to end all ass-beatings yet to reach him. That said, it’s nice to hear “Slow Room!,” a break of sorts from the mundane, introspective bedroom shit he’s been shoveling onto each release, if only because it detours into polite, somewhat fuzzy indie pop of the Slumberland variety. I like this song a little bit, but “Anywhere” is more of the same drowning drivel he’s pooped out in the past, and I’ve had about twelve records too many of that. My guess is that a lot of other people have as well, and he must be having one of those Julius Caesar/Big Pussy moments just before the knives come out. Mr. Dogs, I don’t wish you any ill – you’re an ambitious guy, you seem to balance out all these projects in your life with a shred of dignity, and DC Snipers were a phenomenal band. You, just like everybody else, have to learn how to separate who you are from what you make as your art, because when the tide turns – and trust me, it will – you’re going to find yourself very, very alone. And I’ll still be here, ready to squash whatever perceived beef we might have and have a drink wit’cha. (http://capturedtracks.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer/Dried Up Corpse
split 10” EP
(Gnarled Forest Recordings)

BSBC: contact mic’ed sounds of a fat guy walking up the stairs on a cheap cassette recorder. Really scary cover with black and white “metal” look, so it makes the huffin’ and puffin’ sound pretty intense. I wonder what these dudes were dressed like when they recorded this. I’m guessing like Count Chocula. Dried Up Corpse side is a little scarier, sounding like those Abruptum “I-cut-myself-and-am-yelping” demos. Kinda fucked up intersection of metal and droney drift. Eventually the foghorn gets going. In any case this is not the first record for either project, and it continues the creepscapes from some of their past recordings. Not sure if this is gonna be played again, but it didn’t suck, and didn’t scare me much. I’m sure most metalheads would be pissed if they were listening to this. 300 copies, up from a cassette edition of 50. (http://www.myspace.com/bluesabbathblackcheer)
(Ben McOsker)

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer/Penetration Camp
Bleak Village/Mob Rules split 12” EP
(Drug-Front Productions)

Half 45 half 33 rpm LP attempt at confusion that is just another slo-mo fumble at black metal atmospheres. This is sure to scare off every jean jacket in town. Not sure if this is a genre-dusted-buster coming from the pedal stomping crowd over to the other side of the parking lot occupied by grimy, face-painted metalheads. Or maybe this is vice-versa attempt to get noisy but still recycling classic rolling paper runways like “Mob Rules”. In any case it ends up coming off like a less fierce Sword Heaven. (Nice plug, Mr. Dover. –Ed.) (http://www.myspace.com/bluesabbathblackcheer)
(Ben McOsker)

Bone Rattle
Which Toy LP
(Trd W/d)

Another serious crime has been committed against my intelligence, but unlike that harmless man-wafer in Ponytail, it’s time for some restorative justice by way of levying stiff fines against whichever regional art college is found to be root stimulus behind both this “band” and “album.” Funny this should come from Turned Word, who, by extension of also releasing Impractical Cockpit material, should know better. Throwing facts to the wind, I’m going to venture an inch or two out on a limb here and place Bone Rattle as two art-insty sophomores who have amassed a body-odor alert level of def-con: “hot garbage,” achieved through daily Adderall sweats underneath short-sleeve button-downs … underneath bright-ass swishy-swish nylon windbreakers. They harbor a knack for gluing together whatever’s found after an indiscriminant arm-scoop through any thrift shop’s “worst Christmas ever” section, and considering the parent-funded hours a success when a skull can be made out of the day’s pull. Then, digi-pics are taken so that their reason for making a record can have presentation. Rest assured, oh harpers of the “you’re too old and out of touch and bitter to be writing about what you don’t get,” apple sauce, I GET IT. Remember, being a dinner time or two on the “introspective” side of 30 only means that I’ve witnessed identical endeavors clutter up record bins for 15+ years. Bone Rattle’s ADD-yelps, clattering away on trashed drums, keytars/80’s video game noises, and stabbed guitar combine to make something so devoid of drive, creativity, charisma, sonic interest, and general worth … that I can’t even insult the noise genre with a suggested association. That last sentiment means a lot. Trust me. (http://turnedword.com)
(Andrew Earles)

“I’m a Kid Again” b/w “I’m Sorry Mom” 7”
(Edible Onion)

Here we have an intense musical arts n’ crafts project: the painted inner & outer sleeves, cut windows with vellum screens, and sleeve/label text are all hand made. People had to wait MONTHS to get Thingmakers do stuff a quarter as intricate in the ‘90s. I feel bad saying anything negative about a project that took so much effort to create, but oh well, here goes. Br’er is melancholy manchild Elliott Smith or Neutral Milk Hotel-style soft rock for the “Juno” crowd. In creating their audio diary, the group takes a kitchen sink approach to recording, employing all the non-standard instruments (guitars and bass can be so Plebian) in a way that comes full circle to typical again, and the voice is but a gentle trill. Both songs are alternate takes from their unfortunately titled Of Shemales and Kissaboos lp. “I’m a Kid Again” is a weepy little plucked tune with bells and chimes about how big daddy’s dong is, or maybe mom finding him high on her birth control, before cascading in a wash of noise. “I’m Sorry Mom” is a more robustly arranged waltz, with what sounds like mandolin & harpsichord. The perfect song to make sure you have five bars of cell service before running into the arms of your Internet girlfriend. 300 painstakingly-rendered copies. (www.edibleonion.com)

Bobb Bruno
s/t CS

Very repetitive synth noodling at first with no sign of any build or concept and keeps this going for most of the release. Not to say this tape doesn’t have moments of great rhythmic layering as the tape goes on, but all in all it was a bit boring, like one of those Klaus Schultze-inspired “fan favorite” attempts in which all the basic ideas were down, but not very well executed. The moments where it gets interesting make it worthwhile in the department of early TG Giftgas-era sounding jams, but hardly holds up to such comparison for more than a few moments. Limited to 79 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com/home.html)
(Ryan Martin)

16-Bit Ensemble 7” EP
(Harmony Society)

I used to sit around a big old college house (slept 12, comfortably) with a guy who likely had a hand (or the hand) in putting this record out, me drunk and him sober, listening to screamo records and playing Super Nintendo in the mid-90s, talkin’ shit like we used to do and trying to freak each other out with our new records and discoveries. That was a good time, and so is this record, four fresh-picked, Mooged-out tracks by a young Pittsburgh area producer and DJ going the FlyLo/Dilla route with some bustlin’, honeyed instrumentals that go BIG on the bass and the melody. Groovin’, sunny day electronic R&B from someone who has obviously listened to a bunch of records and isn’t hesitant of letting you know the impact that music has laid on him. “Broken Pencils” in particular works that syncopated bass/drum line with a slippery P-Funk synth lead, directing the Star Wars figures as they march all around your room. A fine debut, and going fast – 350 numbered copies in die-cut sleeves ain’t gonna last much longer. (http://www.720records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Get a Brain one-sided 12” LP/CD

Anya Davidson and Carrie Vinarsky, formerly of terrifying Chicago agitpunk combo Coughs, meet up with two dudes, one of which was in a band called Slut Barf, and let their collective hair (scalp, armpit, etc.), down a bit, in the process taking a step back into that city’s storied tool-and-die noise rock circuit. Cacaw is certainly a harsher example than most, with the dude factor dialed way down, ending up somewhere between the second Antioch Arrow record, the Scissor Girls’ punker moments, and, I dunno, a Spitboy record? Picture Peppermint Patty ripping out Marcy’s throat and screaming in vengeful victory, and you’ve essentially got the idea; rolling bomb rhythm section with aggressive, one-chord rips and vocals shouted just above the melee, no chance of melodies being formed in this fracas. Somehow it’s way heavier than Coughs, but less of a threat, as this sort of thing has happened before and will happen again. They’re off to a nail-lifting start, though, all aggression and diving blast rolls with no room for breath. Limited to 300 copies – clear vinyl with a silkscreened back looks good, but after one listen I understood why the CD was thrown in. Vinyl mastering in a digital world comes with compromises, and I guess it was more important to Cacaw to make an ornament out of their vinyl than a product that actually has any depth or volume to it. At 23 full minutes, this thing is quiet as hell, and I feel the middle-of-the-road recording would have greatly benefitted from a generous two-sided 45RPM cut than trying to squash everything down to fit on one side. That’s my only complaint, though it’s a big one. Second press now available. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Champagne Socialists
“Blue Genes” b/w “Young Runaways” 7”

Indie pop dance party time, with ex-members of The Royal We, Sexy Kids and Bricolage powdering the floor and taking off their shoes. They’ve since changed their name to Neverever, which lacks the shared decadence of their moniker here. Husband and wife duo Jihae and Wallace Meek bounce and bop their band through the same pre-rock territory that glam resurrected in the ‘70s, like Sandie Shaw or Petula Clark revving up a motorcycle in the garage. Dirty-sounding without pushing it, the production is crisp and burnt on the edges, giving these songs the necessary weathering they need to not sound too precious. “Young Runaways” is my pick, if only because it’s not as single-minded as the stompier “Blue Genes” on the A-side. This band has some good sounds in it and it’s likely to get better. Liked it more with repeat spins, a real rarity around these parts. Seafoam green vinyl in a pocket sleeve. Slumberland IS BACK. (http://www.slumberlandrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Child Bite/This Moment in Black History
split 7”
(Forge Again)

Some of the last remnants of the late ‘90s post-hardcore sound huddle together in this split 7”, resisting the call of the singer-noisewriter, the Brainbombs-esque pretend-sociopath dirge, or the Orange Amplification Sponsorship Rock. Saxophones and punk music are really hard to mix, especially if you aren’t shooting for a Black Randy sound, but nobody told Detroit’s Child Bite. “Mammal’s Manners” has an opening riff that builds a dark, heavy groove, with chanting vocals that seems like they might pull it off, but then herky-jerky spazz vocals meet up with some syncopated drumming, and I can’t help but think “screamo gone ska,” or maybe “disco circus.” Sass. I have an impossibly low tolerance for sass that isn’t grounded in some modern cool or strutting Jagger, and that isn’t helping either side of this record. On the flip we have This Moment in Black History, a band for which the Refused really was the shape of punk to come (I was hoping we’d dodge that bullet), though they mixed in some of Jehu’s driving racket, and tossed some square wave synth crud on it. I’d be remiss not to mention the cover, which is a nice two-color screen depicting a pale rider, except the horse has an arm for a unicorn horn and it’s holding a slice of PIZZA! Oh ho, how irreverent. Let’s all grow huge beards and wear a funny shirt. 500 copies on blue vinyl. (http://www.forgeagainrecords.com)

Circuit Des Yeux
Sirenum LP
Fruition 7" EP
(Dull Knife)

Tough ones to cover here, as I saw CDY hunched over on a floor over some effects pedals, throwing this tantrum of frightened empowerment at a show I’m not sure I wanted to be at back around the beginning of this year (Drunkdriver + Mattin, complete with blood and audience assault, that awful fucking Twin Stumps band, a competent Pink Reason set, and a headlining Homostupids I had to miss). I was nonplussed, to say the very least; I think I spent the entirety of the 10 minutes or so engrossed in some iPhone game. And I don’t want to come off too harsh, as such conditions are less than ideal to evaluate an artist, and believe it or not, I like to be fair. I also trust Mr. Dull Knife, and was suitably impressed by this Indiana teen’s work on the Cro Magnon 7” from the spring. Still, an album – though the current crop of under-underground artists may not agree – is meant to be somewhat of a sacred experience … definitely not something to release several times a year … but when your live set all but proves the irrelevance and didactic nature of what is meant to be expression, not parroting, it’s hard not to have negative thoughts going into these releases. And yet I’m pleased to say that Ms. Haley Fohr of Lafayette is on her way to developing something of value here, though you will need patience to get through it. Solo recordings both, the songs bring up unfortunate images of all-girls’ school singalongs, but there’s pain here, and it’s a pain that makes itself known through circuit-bent electronics, overmodulated digital recording, moan-delay, taunting piano, and occasionally, something resembling a traditional song, or at least a sketch of something that most other artists would deem “unfinished” and work on later. The crudeness of how this music was fashioned is undeniably part of the experience – it’s practically the entire experience, in and of itself – meant to express a mood, be it frustration, emotional torpor, an aural representation of Flowers in the Attic for someone’s freshman music seminar. You get it. Hints of repression seep from the song titles: “Indian Orphan” on the single; “A Siren,” “Paranoid,” “Shedevil,” “Binding Feet” on the album. And yet, somehow, there is a shared experience through listening to these records, like finding the artist’s diary and realizing you may have seen too much. In that sense, these are unquestionably successes, part of the modern canon with Grouper and the like. They certainly work a fuck of a lot better than that witch cauldron crud like Angelblood, made by legitimized artists a decade ago. The dream kids die, or move onto something else, and the dreams they spin rot and crumble. Fohr stands beneath the cascade of subconscious detritus, dialing away the distractions of everyday life and becoming the id. For pure expressiveness, you couldn’t hope for much more. I’d hesitate to experience this live again, but at home, alone, she lays the creep on so hard you won’t be getting to sleep anytime soon. 300 copies of the single (green vinyl, vellum sleeve, another ace Dull Knifer) as well as the LP. Think of it this way: most kids Fohr’s age are too busy aping others in their musical pursuits that it’s almost become some sort of nihilistic exercise in repetition, designed to make guys like me, who’ve seen more than enough, wish they’d never listened to music. That she could create something that defies categorization, sounds so intimate, and commands your attention, away from your Mountain Dew auto-tuned cumstain Warped Tour banality (formerly emo kids trying to imitate Dashboard Confessional), makes it worth your attention alone. You may not get it now, or ever, and she’s not gonna wait for you to catch up. The generation gap widens; best to try to understand now before you’re totally lost and turn into your parents or something. (http://www.dullkniferecords.com) (http://www.destijlrecs.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Coach Fingers
One Jack Shy of a Cycle LP
(Black Dirt)

Once again, a band’s name or cover art erects an impenetrable barrier, forever separating listeners with good taste from whatever constitutes the music, good or bad. I always stop to give serious consideration to the following: If a band settles on a wildly unsavory presentation – moniker, art, or both – it’s a safe wager that the music is going to follow suit. This time, it’s cover art. Spoofing a swinger/exotica/retro-robot cocktail menu with song titles in place of the actual drink names, this was the collective conclusion reached amongst the members of Coach Fingers. More than one literate adult that, more than likely, lives outside of the prison system pushed for the album art described above. Think about it: I had to review this; therefore I’m going to be the only person in the world that has actually heard this record. Wow, that’s a lot of unneeded pressure, because this band, when they’re not stroking hemp necklaces with back-hatter’s delight jam-tastic wacky-pop or hopping in bed with some Nu-Grass or dirtied-up Nickel Creek bullshit, can knock out a nice piece of mood-pop…and exactly ONE excellent piece of instrumental ambience (not minimal at all…a head-sticker). That’s not all, really, as they are quite adept at college-quirkiness. Roll everything into one confused release, and we get the future house band for all Bonnaroo promotional gimmicks. So the “cover art has nothing to do with the music” types get a point on the surface with this one, though terminally misguided when all is said and done (as always). 500 copies, silkscreened sleeve. (http://www.blackdirtmusic.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Scotty Coats & Wes The Mes
“Double Fisted” b/w Prins Thomas remixes 12”
(Rong Music/DFA)

Funky, well constructed electro-influenced nu disco from two names I am not familiar with. Coats and The Mes throw some heavy ‘80s boogie drums under a variety of synth licks including the tune’s trademark dirty bassline which dancers will pick out of a mix with ease. This is both a grower and a shower, as the drums will catch your attention right away, even before the synths swell and develop into a frenzied and almost tribal break. Well done, gents. Modern day disco don Prins Thomas manages to lull us to sleep by producing the same remix he’s been doing for the last 8 or so years. Endless, unchanging bass loop? Check. Bongos? Check…. And so on. Love you, Prins, but tired of the same production on every record. (http://www.dfarecords.com)
(Billy Werner)

Chris Connelly
Pentland Firth Howl LP

A journeyman musician, Chris Connelly’s post-punk collaborations reads like a cultural theory index of the history of late 20th century industrial-disco post-punk (Ministry, Pigface, Revolting Cocks, Fini Tribe, Murder Inc., Damage Manual). On Pentland Firth Howl it is fascinating to hear a solo voice ring true of singer songwriter emerge from a past history in much the opposite direction. Connelly’s playing and singing stand victorious throughout both sides like a helmsman navigating the choppy sea. Billed as "a song cycle about my native Scotland," the album’s name comes from the Gaelic name of a remote strait separating the Orkney Islands from the Northern coast of Scotland. This is a dark and briny collection, each tale of lust, spirits, disaster, shamans and Scotch whiskey bleeding into the next. Connelly’s vocals stretch thinner and thinner over a striding thrum of a doubled guitar out of phase narrating the tale of Death warmed easy, ushering listeners to the grave, then rebirthing them on the other side. Connelly has mentioned wanting to create an album similar to a Joe Boyd production; surely a tall expectation to measure oneself against, but it’s noted that, upon John Martyn’s passing, he was quoted as saying that the late folk guitarist was one of his favorite musicians. Connelly, like Martyn, exists within a similar and unlikely tradition, willing to look backwards but pushing forward with his songwriting. Pentland Firth Howl accords repeated listening to infer the darkness and secure the depth of the scope of the full cycle. Is it an ending? The final track, "Ailsa Coming," mentions "the stare that doesn’t question your belief" and that "they rust and go insane." Hard to know, but considering his body of work and production credits (Current 93, etc.), this personal excavation seems a familiar stance to the artist, where to most it might have lapsed into exile. Limited edition of 300, paste-on sleeves. (http://addendarecords.com)
(Steve Knezevich)

COUM Transmissions
The Sound of Porridge Bubbling LP

Here it is, something even the authors of Throbbing Gristle’s biographies couldn’t get hold of, and available to the public in a blink-and-it’s-gone edition of 500 copies. It’s the first-ever studio recordings of Genesis P-Orridge, and certainly the first time any COUM ideas have been heard outside of live performances in the early ‘70s. It’s been said that the band never released any of this material, because by the time a record could have been manufactured, the group were already off doing something new. Like the earlier release by Early Worm, this sort of has “for completists only” stamped all over it, but they’ll be the ones who get to hear some thoughtfully strange poetry, odd tape manipulations, free-form improvisational scratch, and most of all, the title track, featuring singularity Ray Harvey (apparently the only black person in Hull, and at that, covered head to toe in tattoos) screaming to register his existence, joking about race, and having it on with a bunch of art students who, unlike a lot of other art students, had set out to create something. Great liner notes by Gen explain the conditions under which this music was created, and they’re as much of a hoot as the recordings themselves. I’ve been informed that the hidden track (“The Stripper”) was found on the flipside of the COUM reels, as Cosey Fanni Tutti would use them to practice her routine, as it was one of the only ways this lot could keep food on the table. History in the making from, at the time, the most unlikely of places. Edition of 500, and pretty much vanished… (http://www.daisrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Cross Stitched Eyes
Coranach LP
(Alternative Tentacles)

Members of Amebix and Zygote make up this new band, which from that lineage had me expecting something more raw and unnerving. Instead we have here is something that commonly happens when old hardcore bands start to do their “mature” work and get it wrong altogether. Coranach starts off on the wrong foot, doing all the things a hardcore band shouldn’t: overwrought production, “sung yet yelled” vocals and the ever dreadful showing off how good one’s gotten at playing the guitar since the early years. Not to say the record is all bad, songs such as “Suffer,” “Eyes,” and “Birth of Night” resurrect a dark, metallic hardcore sound likened to later-era Slapshot. It’s just when they decide to go more to the realm of hokey dark rock that send up numerous red flags. Songs like “Cross” and “Age of Consumption” are prime examples of what not to put onto a hardcore record. These guys helped write a pretty amazing formula years back but somehow lost sight of what they did best, and it shows on this record. Vinyl edition comes with a CD version of the record. ( http://www.alternativetentacles.com)
(Ryan Martin)

Cult Ritual
(Youth Attack)

It could only happen in the late ‘00s! A hot-on-a-weekly-basis band releases an album with variants that command top dollar almost instantly, yet can be ordered for regular price with a minimal amount of investigative work. In the case of Tampa’s Cult Ritual, though, does it really matter? The latest do-no-wrong ‘er in hardcore, or so goes every single thing ever written about them, it should come as no surprise that when an entity generates enough writer/band reach-arounds – the music-writer equivalent of loud-mouthed back-patting in a live setting – mediocrity spreads even further/deeper with regards to a demographic in which the “individuals” make a regular habit of hijacking other people’s favorite music lists on Facebook. Cult Ritual is hardcore for college-aged beautiful people …with penises. This isn’t the best extension of a musical peace-pipe when one gets into an argument with the more beautiful better-half…that’s what Sunn O))) is for. Boil it down to the working parts and this is Sex/Vid exchanging dumb looks with Eyehategod. Sure, the vocals are different. How? Like it matters. You’ve already made the decision to track this down after visiting a cash-for-title outlet. Recommended for nest-eggers with a lot of trolling time. So many colorways. 1000 copies. (http://www.ihateyouthattack.com)
(Andrew Earles)

James Curd
“We Just Won’t Stop” 12”

James Curd, part of the much lauded house music unit Greens Keepers, tries his hand at disco by looping Sylvester, adding a couple of synth flares and a really bad rap track. Our man is obviously going for the innocent naiveté of early Debbie Harry-style hip hop incompetence, but it’s just not working here. There’s also no reason to try and breathe new life into “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” as proven by master DJ Timmy Regisford who had 1,000+ frenzied dancers singing along to the original at this year’s Shelter party at Winter Music Conference. Not feeling this one at all. (http://www.dfarecords.com)
(Billy Werner)

The Cysts
Public Record 7” EP

A colleague recommended this one to me, saying they reminded him of Sex/Vid. I must respectfully disagree. One of the things I like the most about Sex/Vid – a top-down quality about them which I appreciate – is that great attention to detail is paid to how they present themselves to the outside world. Without necessarily having a logo to fall back on, they present striking images and a very specific sound, matched by their intensity. It would appear that Portland’s Cysts would like to follow in that path, based on the hardcore-informed attack of their five-song debut. They miss the mark almost completely. Unbalanced, practice-room recording, been-there-done-that collage cover art, and the ultimate no-no – juxtaposition of the face of our president, Barack Obama, into some sort of shitty, sophomore seminar art project in which the President fills in the outline of a dragon’s face, with a snake in the middle – are what’s offered up here. Man, you guys really blew my fucking mind with this one. Nothing stuck with me after two listens, other than there were four short tracks on side A, and one slow, go-nowhere piece on the flip. Trash-can recording dynamics scream Crate and Peavey, a capable rhythm section backing up nonsense songs with no traction. Lyrics prove these guys to be the real mysterious guys, flailing in the mud while dropping refs to federal bailouts and text messaging. It’s a different generation; it’s not for me; it’s a regional variant on things much more powerful and vibrant. I won’t believe anything these guys do until they sack up and figure out how to make a really threatening-sounding noise, and not this limp, lazy drubbing. (http://www.eolianrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Davila 666 – “Pingorocha y la Diva Rockera” b/w “Casi Las 3” /“Me Va Muy Mal” 7” EP (Douchemaster)

The rockin’ side of Davila 666, which I was fortunate enough to catch live earlier this year – six Puerto Rican firebrands whose brash, bold mix of the Ramones and the Equals held its own with headliners the Reigning Sound – is toned down ever so slightly on this new single, but I’ll take what I can get. Poppy, put-together examples of early-to-mid-70s AM radio power, gritty and unvarnished, sung in Spanish, and best taken in small doses. Curious about their full-length on In the Red, but this one will have to do for now. (http://www.douchemasterrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Deerhunter – “Vox Celeste 5” b/w “Microcastle Mellow 3” 7” (Sub Pop)

Not sure how some of these newer releases in the Singles Club (looking Thee Oh Sees, and Tyvek, specifically) managed to get away with providing barrel-scraping outtakes for their release. One would expect the same of Deerhunter, who here offer alternate mixes from the Microcastle/Weird Era Continued sessions, but I gotta say, even though this isn’t a band I listen to a lot, they have a knack for writing a really catchy melody, and that talent is very much on display here. This take of “Vox Celeste” buries Bradford Cox’s vocals into a multi-tracked haze, itself becoming another instrument in this sumptuous, plangent pop song. The acoustic take of “Microcastle” is fittingly B-side material, but is as pleasant a comedown as you could hope for on such a release. 1500 copies, yellow marbled vinyl. I like this band alright, pretty sure Andy Earles hates ‘em. Maybe someday we’ll get a Siskel & Ebert type show to do this sort of thing in real time. You’d like that, wouldn’t you. (http://www.subpop.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Diza Star
Blues Reason to Live 7” EP

First thing I’ve heard from this possible Acid Mothers Temple extension from some time; quality psychedelic soul rattling cage treatises on X-ray vision from an exceptional pair of guitarists. Opening up with the elegiac “Howlin’ Tsuchy (Wolf Prayer),” a blistering, tremeloed duo to the sunrise, things kick into some bad politics with “The Soul of a Mountain Wolf (High Rise),” boppin’ along to minimal drumming and a steadily mounting guitar assault that runs a blistering lead up into the atmosphere, payloaded with geltabs meant to pierce a cloud and rain lysergic tempests into the slackjawed mouths of us onlookers below. “Moanin’ After Eight (Underground Speed Blues)” closes this thing out with the sorta Afflicted Man punk-through-psych guitar lead sojourn that makes everything alright. The artist offers up a Buñuel quote, dedicates the record to Howlin’ Wolf – more records should be – and thanks High Rise’s Nanjo Asahito, who quite frankly is not thanked enough. Another Fractal heater, sorry it took so long to cover it. (http://www.fractal-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Drama for Yamaha/Inquiet
split 7”
(Brother Sister)

Drama for Yamaha is pretty, zonked pop in a Here Comes the Warm Jets kinda mood. Arrangement on the song is on the progressive side of things, but it’s totally winning me over. Vocal stylings are baritone all the way. Maybe I should get over myself and admit it could sound like Stephen Merritt, but no matter. Overcomes a shitty lathe pressing to win repeat plays. Parts of it remind me of the Tall Dwarfs in its murky pop stylings. The flip is an entirely different affair, with Inquiet busting out a calypso-tinged tune. While it’s got some nice drum thud, the cheap keyboard sound and nasally whine really drag this song into the bottom of the pop poop pile. I hope the bands are great friends or there was some compelling reason for this split 7”. (http://brothersisterrecords.org)
(Ben McOsker)

DJ Kaos
“Love The Nite Away” b/w Tiedye remix 12”
(Rong Music/DFA)

“Love The Nite Away” is consistent with Rong’s affection for disco-influenced dancey rock, and will appeal to the Cut Copy /MGMT loving brand of hip kid that supposedly digs ‘disco’, but doesn’t know what Salsoul is. Fair enough, it is 2009 and most of these kids were raised in the suburbs by a generation of people who were largely taught to repeat the “Disco Sucks” mantra throughout the early 1980’s. The Rinder & Lewis-influenced bassline and guitar accents are catchy enough, but neither does much for the harmless, but annoyingly predictable ‘slacker dude with a crush’ vocal arrangements. Flip over for a killer rework of the track by Swedish producer and Italians Do It Better darling, Tiedye, who turns the generic rock of the original mix into a dreamy Ibiza-circa-1986 lovefest. The beardos will eat the remix up and I would not be surprised to hear it during hour 8 of a DJ Harvey set. (http://www.dfarecords.com)
(Billy Werner)

“Fire Sale” b/w “It Never Happened” 7”
(Fashionable Idiots)

Drunkdriver set the bar unattainably high on their first few releases, so think of this one as a breather: single-minded riffage mixed to oblivion, the kind of pocket mayhem a band like Unholy Two might mix up, but come on, these guys have done and will do better. I saw these tracks performed at an underattended set at Chaos in Tejas, joined onstage by Mattin, and was pretty sure Berdan was having a heart attack after it was all over. Mattin’s not involved in this one, but it definitely ranks a notch or two lower than I’d like. “Fire Sale” beats a stormin’ ground iniative riff to death, while “It Never Happened” flips over its corpse for some lowly night moves. I’m not worried, but I know what this band is capable of, and it makes efforts like these seem like a bit of a copout. Altogether it’s way better than most records that come through here, and I’m sure you’ll like it. But I want my little campers to scamper, not brood in past-visited directions. (http://www.fashionableidiots.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ducktails /Mudboy
Summer of Saucers CS

Very odd pairing here, but it’s the unexpected that you come to expect from DNT. Mudboy does his typical best to confuse his listeners, starting off what sounds to be field recordings of perhaps himself lost in some sort of swamp (though it’s understood that this environment is indeed his “collaborator”), setting up the backdrop for what later develops on this tape, of which I can only call “swamp ambient.” Chattering, chirping, electronic frog drone and pulsing hum load up his side. On the flip, we have some fairly worthwhile composition from Ducktails, more of the dreamy electro-drone-pop with the hypnotic effects that they have come to popularize amongst contemporaries like Emeralds and Pocahaunted. No new ground is broken here, but some good jams no less. Limited to 100 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com)
(Ryan Martin)

Fresh Air 7”
(A Soundesign Recording)

Bought this at the Throbbing Gristle show where they opened, and promptly forgot about it. Oh well, here we are now. Not clearly labeled, this one. Side A is some of the most melodic material I’ve heard from this celebrated drone ensemble, with actual discrete tones on top of the drones. It’s pretty, and you can tell that Emeralds is the sort of band that has put a decent amount of thought in how they conduct themselves. Flipside is more of what we’ve come to expect from Emeralds – plangent, nature-oriented drone bliss that should replace the soundtrack of most of the programming on Animal Planet. Clear vinyl, only a few hundred copies. This label is on “indefinite hiatus” so have fun tracking this one down. (http://www.polarenvy.com/asr.html)
(Doug Mosurock)

Expo 70
Night Flights LP
(Fedora Corpse)

Always thought this was both a ballsy band name and one so on the nose as to point a little too directly at the sounds being made (or is it that the music drifts towards the name like iron filings to a magnet?). Expo ‘70 was the first world’s fair held in Japan and to cop the title for your own is to evoke the decade of Krautrock, Japan, the intersection of both, Fela’s revolutionary steez, the silver age of the space program and a whole lot of baggage from the 20th century’s bonghit decade. Bold, kinda. Indeed, Expo 70s produce spacey drift of a very rayon vintage. Four tracks in all, with an A-side of cloud sounds, large and warm and ambient. Concentrating on it too hard is like biting with purpose into cotton candy – you just end up hurting your teeth and, besides, you’re consuming it wrong. “Cognac Smoke,” first track on the flip - with pulsing syths and a distant drum machine shuffle cut with high frequency beeps and guitar chordings hinting at a melodic theme – is some of the best fake “In Search Of” music you’re likely to hear this year. Somewhere, a film student is making a murder mystery set in a planetarium and this is gonna show up on the soundtrack and (s)he will get a B+. “Seismic Nuances” is also pretty much correct: wide loops of ovoid guitar hum lock and load cross-cut with blue-cloud solos that sort of stagger around a bit. On blue, grey flecked vinyl, nice black on cardboard sleeves, limited to 300, very possibly because they forgot to print more. (http://fedoracorpse.com)
(Joe Gross)

s/t 7” EP

Multi-city, pseudo-celeb hardcore SALT talks here: Mark McCoy (Charles Bronson, Das Oath, Ancestors, Hallow, Youth Attack label, Virgin Mega Whore) on vocals, Will Killingsworth (Orchid, Laceration, Bucket Full of Teeth, producer/engineer of scores of heavy/HC/punk/metal records) on guitar, Andrew Jackmauh (Cut the Shit, Confines, Boston Strangler, Poison Control, David Spade lookalike contest) on bass, and Matt Milga (Stoned Ambassadors, Cancer Kids) on drums … wait, he’s since been replaced by this guy named Ryan, who’s also in Confines, Bloody Gears, Social Circkle, and Blank Stare. Our own Killedbyjeff coined a term for this sort of behavior, which I’ll present to you now: “shit cutting.” Horrid image of a turd being divvied up with a cheap plastic knife notwithstanding, this is a great way to keep your scene insular, not to mention fill up every free moment of one’s day with thoughts and actions of HC/punk. Hey, I was young once, and had things gone differently I might have been out there cutting the shit with guys like these myself. One could also view this sort of action as intent on keeping non-hustler/false guys (like me) out, which is fine. I don’t have the time to participate outside of records and the random show. When I saw Failures back in June, though, they impressed me quite a bit. McCoy shrieks at the very high end of the male vocal register, narrowly avoiding pubescent voice crack with a mucus-curdling wail, and lyrics eschewing procreative sex and the dating scene (best one here is probably the last, “Dovetail,” in which our narrator ponders moving back in with a partner from a stalled relationship because “my lease is up in a month”). Killingsworth is the band’s real strength, following McCoy’s lead on the high strings, churning out rapid-fire, thoroughly broken chord progressions that are nearly impossible to follow, given the speed at which Jackmauh and Milga take to the backbeat. There’s barely three minutes of music here, but that’s fine; it’s a record that’s gotten repeat spins here at SS HQ, partly because I get off on the energy unleashed here – there’s at least enough here to jumpstart a van – and partly because I can’t find a way to untangle what it is they’ve done. Another incremental step for hardcore’s slow progression, and one of the best examples I’ve heard this year; really makes a case for the lifestyle. Excellent packaging as well, the pocket sleeve and diecut inner having been printed on art paper, making for a classy presentation. Stats: 106 test pressings done up for June tour w/Sex Vid, Iron Age, and Mind Eraser, 229 white/gray vinyl variants, 810 black regular first pressing. Invest in the best. (http://www.painkillerrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

James Ferraro
Clear LP
Discovery LP
(Holy Mountain)

Two LPs worth of grainy synth, guitar, and Casio drumbox drone from James Ferraro, who is a member of Skaters, and who’s also recorded under a host of other monikers (Lamborghini Crystal, Edward Flex, 90120). These reissues of self released CD-Rs were pieced together using crude boom box overdubs, and it shows in the underwater fidelity on display here. Both records have a washed-out and distant sound that is not unlike looking at a faded photograph where the viewer can only really guess at what the objects in the photo are. According to an article by Volcanic Tongues records proprietor David Keenan in this month’s issue of The Wire, Ferraro is the leading exponent of an emerging post-noise movement called “Hypnagogic Pop,” in which ‘80s radio pop production techniques are re-routed into abstract noise as a faded “memory of a memory” intended to invoke a sense of nostalgia in the listener. Once I had theory in mind, some of the guitar swells started to remind me of “Miami Vice” background music, but I’m really not sure how much bearing this theory has on what these records actually sound like. Clear is much more rhythmic and heavy on Casio keyboard drum beats, while Discovery focuses on long form drones; both of these records have their moments. Some of the synth note clusters that Ferraro settles into can by hypnotizing, and some of the intentionally-crude tape splice jump cuts can be thrilling to listen to, but these records are too incidental to be called essential listening for most people. If two LPs of this sounds like something you need, then these records are there for you; if not the last Eclipse records e-mail update listed at least a dozen other James Ferraro CD-R and cassette releases for you to choose from. Ferraro is capable of truly great work, such as the monstrous and imposing drones on the Skaters’ Dark Rye Bread lp, which is one of the few records of the explosion of drone/noise recordings from the past five years that has held up past a handful of months. Perhaps if Ferraro held back a bit, and only released his very best material instead of everything he records, all of his releases would meet that impossibly high standard. We’ll probably never know. (http://www.holymountain.com)
(Chris Strunk)

Frank & the Can I Speaklys /Soul of Condemned Ape – split 7” EP (Farmer Frontier /Rivulet of Spores

New projects debut in this cross-continental split. SF’s Frank & the Can I Speaklys is a hometaper duo, employing all the aspects of the modern hometaper/release everything we record set, down to the watery vocals, preponderance of synths, and drum machine. So how come their take sounds better to me than most of this junk that floats my way? A certain restlessness in their songwriting and performance helps – their first song, “You Shout Minus Blood,” has the same sort of frantic energy employed by one of my favorite bands ever, the Party of Helicopters, and though the volume and force of that band is rolled back to that of their first single, it works well enough. Closer “Three Legs” rides a killer, cylindrical bass riff and lifts its weary singer up onto the next wave. One of these guys is in promising new SF band Rank/Xerox, and it’ll be a hoot to see how far this one can go. Perth, Australia’s Soul of Condemned Ape (seriously a lot of bands coming out of Perth these days, which is great, because geographically it’s so far removed from anything) goes at some polite, strummy pop, somewhat reminiscent of fellow countrymates of yore, Ninetynine. “Holiday” features atonal, shouted vocals and a tool chest full of the stock moves you expect to hear on an indie pop record these days, but for some reason it squeaks by on charm. The instrumental “Symmetrical” is even better, laying a broody mood against strident post-punk disco drumming, and it hangs together very well. Excellent first attempts here, and I’m eager to hear more – such novice attempts, when they have heart, never wear me out. Only 150 copies were pressed, so if you’re interested, hurry up. (http://www.etherichymns.bigcartel.com) (frankatcis@gmail.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Free Choice/Mental Powers
split 7”
(Fifth Column)

Two Australian artists (one from Perth, one from Melbourne … Jarrod from Fabulous Diamonds, to be exact) that appear to harbor an equal disregard for how any cool points Neu!, Kraftwerk, and late-70’s/early-80’s OST (not disco) Giorgio Moroder finished out today with. Good stuff is good stuff no matter how many years ago an inaugural resurgence stole its name-drop-ability in some circles; something Mental Powers and Free Choice lovingly embrace with bedroom/isolationist warmth and we’re all the better for it. Mental Powers come closest to electronic pop, a la Fog or even particular Portastatic moments in history, sans vocals, ‘natch. Conversely, Free Choice’s side fills the head with the lucid vision of a woman being chased through an oddly-deserted parking garage at an unsavory hour, or, more specifically, the horribly awry foot-pursuit scenes in the final third of “American Gigolo” (or does it just seem like those exist?) (http://www.myspace.com/fifthcolumnrecs)
(Andrew Earles)

The Friendly Skies
s/t 7” EP

This instrumental duo captures the brooding Portland raincloud sound that so many tragic youngsters have otherwise sold their soul to (re)locate near. The Friendly Skies aren’t trying to elevate their levels of Frippery, but guitar triumphs over keyboard and the energy of the room bleeds out with some several well articulated well played refrains. We can only hope the skies remain friendly for these guys. Swirl “putty” vinyl, only a few hundred copies pressed. (http://www.myspace.com/friendlyskiesmusic)
(Steve Knezevich)

Gary War
Opens CS
(Captured Tracks)

Overnight pop-psych rock outfit Gary War complement their highly lauded LPs on Sacred Bones and SHDWPLY with a nice low-key offering on Captured Tracks. Starts off with catchy hooks, driving riffs and signature effects-laden drown out vocals and continues on that route until the end. Mostly more of the same that you’ve come to expect from this band … well written pop-rock songs with vocal effects which can get to be a bit much, but in the right place & time really sets up for being some interesting rock. (http://capturedtracks.com)
(Ryan Martin)

“Requiem for Bhopal” 7”
(L’animaux Tryst Field Recordings)

Long and extended 33 rpm seven-inch records are such a bizarre idea. This drone super group (well, Pete Nolan and Marcia Basset) drone really gets higher key, but by the time you’ve made it back to the couch to get your slippers and hot toddy set up, it’s time to flip it over. While it’s definitely in line with past recordings, its brevity is a little bit of a tease. That said, it’s pretty long for a 7” record, though it doesn’t need a lot in the way of dynamics. Sounds ooze along with bass moan and guitar scratch just right. This outfit seems to understand whatever elements are needed to move slo-motion dirge. Great silk screened sleeve. I guess it’s also great that the song celebrates Union Carbide’s last attempt at working zero days since the last accident. (http://www.lanimauxtryst.com)
(Ben McOsker)

Glen Iris
“Horseless” b/w “Big Hatchet” 7”
(Dirty Slacks)

Aimless, dirt-floor rock y roll from this Atlanta combo, featuring former or past members of the Rock*a*Teens and Brass Castle. Not a lot in the way of production, but “Horseless” has a nice break that busts up the white-guy-in-A-frame party, and shows these folks have a little dimension to their ways (and that they know when to aim for the ditch when overstaying their welcome seems possible). “Big Hatchet” jumps up and down on the back porch, blowing out a nylon-string jam with large muff and a serviceable beat. Dingy and doesn’t look like much – really, the front cover art looks like a prison tattoo of two chicks making out on the roof of a Chevy pickup – but there’s small joys inside, which hopefully will be revisited later on to greater effect. 300 copies. (http://www.myspace.com/glenirisaction)
(Doug Mosurock)

Harvey Milk
s/t 2xLP
(Hydra Head)

Jumping the gun is what I do. Harvey Milk’s never-released debut LP, bought and paid for by an unnamed man who absconded with the master tapes, is now out, and already out of print. Hydra Head is pressing this thing up for the masses momentarily, but for now, 300 copies were blown out on the band’s recent tour at $30 a pop. That’s a lot of Whoppers. Recorded by Bob Weston in 1994, it has that “Chicago bang” missing from their other records, but a band this heavy could do without such characteristics, and did so successfully for the rest of its sporadic career. Aside from one track (“Dating Pressures,” a mid-tempo metallic chugger that wouldn’t be out of place on the Fucking Champs’ debut), all of the material here was re-recorded for their first three albums and singles, though you won’t find an “Anthem” of this length on The Pleaser. You also won’t find the hideous, high-pitched whistling sound that extends across all four sides, no doubt a by-product of having sourced this release from a surviving cassette dub of the masters, on any of the legit albums. And for me, that sound detracts from the album as a whole. A person close to the proceedings called this one “gross,” and I’m inclined to agree. Minimal cover art sports the likeness of Patrick from the patently unfunny comic strip “Drabble” on the front. We will never understand Patrick, nor will we ever really understand Harvey Milk the band. You might have some idea, though, as recent activity and a slew of reissues have hammered this point homeward. Still, if six double LPs – the Singles set from Relapse inclusive – aren’t enough to satisfy you, then by all means, become the highest bidder. I have bills to pay. (http://www.ebay.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Kam Hassah
This Forest one-sided 12”

Stark and delirious are what come to mind when playing the lonely single side of this relatively obscure 12”. Slowly building into variant drones as this piece evolves, the listener wonders what exactly is being performed on such a unique record. I wouldn’t just toss this aside into the drone-noise monotony bin as this piece has real architecture, nothing being too much and no sound overwhelming the other. Hits just the right pitch and frequency that most drone noise albums seem to go way overboard with. Limited to 100 copies. (http://www.dokuro.it)
(Ryan Martin)

Husband and Knife
An End LP

Good label/band name match! K.C. Spidle is of Canadian extract and, like his countrymen the Constantines, he’s exceptionally good at couching a large bummer vibe in songs whose acoustic riff-logic hangs together like Spider-Man’s webbing without ever a) wandering into, I dunno, something Jack Johnson might try to cover, or b) the “I’m deep!” amorphous unplugged meander that seems to curse so many well-meaning young men these days. Doesn’t hurt that the bummer vibe finds our man down a very deep well that he can articulate better than most. “You took the keys from me/because I laugh too loud,” nails a tense moment in any evening out as well or better than anyone. Assuming this jobless (“Job”), boozing (pick one) depressive is alive to make it, I await the next record. 500 mopey copies. (http://www.divorcerecords.ca)
(Joe Gross)

Impractical Cockpit
Freedom Types LP
(Trd W/d)

It’s tough to say if the anagrammed moniker is symptomatic of Impractical Cockpit’s chosen sub-genre (not uncommon in noise/free-improv) or some nudge-nudge one-off prop to a Faygo-swilling entity so far gone it’s come full circle as an ironic target. No beef is had with either direction, so long as the answer is the least confusing of the two, as no more confusion needs to be piled on top of this band. Hurricane Ultimate Clusterfuck 2006 scattered the members of this once NOLA-based unit, but they’ve managed to get in the good graces of Load for a proper that’s worth checking out, and still stay relatively prolific with releases like this, a reissue of a tape that was sent out for free to anyone that signed the band’s on-tour mailing list … during the 2006 tour in question (which may or may not have been impacted by the aforementioned weather-centric catastrophe). The band’s relation to H-Kat is important when it hits that this is SUPPOSED to sound like it was recorded underwater (and three blocks over). IP’s a looser Lightning Bolt on some occasions and can be full-on noise-skree if the temperature is right, yet this rarely deviates from the band of your dreams….literally. This is indeed the weird shit you’re grooving to with tons of other people during the twenty seconds before the snooze button gets hit for the fourth time. (http://turnedword.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Kites /Earth Crown
split LP
(Arbor /Night-People)

Two of the most thoughtful projects of the modern noise scene split this full-length. Kites, now virtually extinct, pulls no punches on his side, delivering an onslaught of freeform noise electronics that borders on the absurd, loose and schizophrenic sounds stacked on top of each other like a pile of dirty, bedbug-ridden mattresses – bordering on improvisation and more often than not crossing that line. Earth Crown goes in a far different direction, sounding more like early Con-Dom or something out of the Tesco back catalog. Simple power electronics structure is twisted around ever so slightly, contorting electronic hums, pulses and sparse phased-out vocals so that any fan of the genre will instantly take notice. Anyone else would probably run in the other direction. (http://www.night-people.org) (http://www.arborinfinity.com)
(Ryan Martin)

We Need More Space in the Cosmos LP

Kohn is the pseudonym of Belgian musician Jurgen De Blonde, who is also a member of the band De Portables and, judging by his Myspace page, works in a variety of styles of music. This record is De Blonde’s tribute to the cosmic synth music of Klaus Schultz and Jean-Michel Jarre, and the results are mixed. What emerges is a slicker and more cleanly recorded take on those aforementioned heavy hitters of synth and new age sounds. Side A contains three longer symphonic synthesizer pieces, which are nice enough, but never come close to capturing the majesty of the sounds that Kohn is trying to emulate. The first three tracks on side B are more of the same, but with a really unpleasant, gated drum machine pulsing underneath. These are followed by a totally out of place instrumental metallic rock song, and then we are off into the cosmos again on the closing track. Interesting, but not much more than that. What is probably a really interesting is De Blonde’s earlier record (listed on the K-RAA-K website) which is a tribute to Bruce Willis. What would that sound like? A track for track cover of The Return of Bruno? (http://www.kraak.net)
(Chris Strunk)

Exhuming The Carnival /Burying The Carnival CS

Doom & gloom seem to be a familiar sound with Locrian. Hailing from Chicago, a city seething with an underbelly of power electronics and noise, Locrian seem to take things a step further by taking nods from the likes of Morton Feldman or even John Cage, and using said licks to well-orchestrated drone guitar over various hushed effects. I look forward to hearing more by these guys, who seem to be pumping out releases with lightning speed. Limited to 200 copies. (http://www.myspace.com/thelocrian)
(Ryan Martin)

Making /Remaking LP

Two equally beautiful parts make up this album by San Francisco’s experimental unit Maleficia. Minimal in the purest sense, their sound consists of nothing more than basic drone electronics overlaid with operatic and haunting vocals which remind me more of a primitive Diamanda Galas than that of a modern, run-of-the-mill noise outfit. Strongly arranged and strangely atmospheric, these pieces give into a sense of quiet while falling apart on their own devices. ()
(Ryan Martin)

Maniacs Dream
Zanzibar CS
(Lal Lal Lal)

Free-form tribal rockers Maniacs Dream really outdid themselves here. Side A consists of a solid heavy jam sounding as if someone grabbed any art freak noise outfit out of the Providence/Load Records scene and dropped them feet first into the hills of Morocco. Side B goes on a bizarre psychedelic head trip starting off with inconsistent noise monikers, found object silliness and all out insanity. Later part of that side slows down into some heavy acid-laden monotonous keyboard space-outs which then go into some sort of guitar drone feeding back on who knows what, all of which seem to fall apart as quickly as they were put together. Great psychedelic marker art for cover design which adds even more charm to this solid release. (In case you were wondering, yes, we get tapes sometimes. This one has been around since the last time I moved. If you can dig out the Paavi or Javelin reviews from the Dusted column dating back several years, well, this one came in at the same time. Ryan is the only mofo crazy enough to tackle the pile, so you get tape reviews now as well, so long as he feels like writing them. Coincidentally, this came in at the same time as I was able to cover that Fricara Pacchu single. Jake Alrich would call it “kismet.” –Ed.) (http://www.haamu.com/lallallal)
(Ryan Martin)

The Mantles
“Don’t Lie” b/w “Secret Heart” 7”

Pouty-lipped but resilient, SF’s Mantles are working classic cars, Everly Brothers-style pleasantness, and syrup-sticky guitar lines back into the modern vernacular. Following a rough-hewn debut single comes these two pleasant little numbers, “Don’t Lie” gently scolding over sweet Silvertone strum while “Secret Heart” gets a little stormier, with some crumbling fuzz guitar and a slightly more difficult path to follow. Nothing new here, but what’s done is done well. 300 copies, silkscreened sleeves. (http://mtstmtn.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mosquito Bandito
Hello from Haiti 7” EP
(Milk ‘n’ Herpes)

This record is a collection of garage rock clichés. Mosquito Bandito is a one man band from Wisconsin and all signs point to the fact that he is “rocking’” (organ, “wild” vocals, rockabilly riffs), but he doesn’t really do anything interesting or have songs with hooks. For the most part the record superficially sounds kind of like a mash up of the Real Losers with the forgotten bands in the ‘90s Rip Off records roster but without whatever good points you could find in that crowd. Rough times. (http://www.myspace.com/milknherpes)
(Chris Strunk)

Divisionals LP
(Ecstatic Peace!)

While my own personal experience with Mouthus has strictly been their live performances with little to no exposure to their recorded output, this record really threw me for a loop. The Mouthus I would see performing angular lo-fi art rock seem to be a whole different beast when recorded, producing quality noise industrial albums that most experimental groups would dream of offloading onto listeners. From the very beginning this albums has all the hallmarks of a great noise album … solid composition, pulsating industrial tones and stellar loops make it far more accessible than their contemporaries. From what I gather this is not the first impressive feat of industrial output by Mouthus, but it’s a far cry from their more regular projects (Religious Knives, Death Unit, White Rock). If Mouthus live isn’t really your bag, I suggest this album is the one to convert you. Limited to 400 copies. (http://www.ecstaticpeace.com)
(Ryan Martin)

Ornate Shroud LP
(Tipped Bowler)

Apologies in advance for what will be one of at least two recent Dead C. references, but it was only a matter of time before one of these selfish, silly, and nihilistic wanna-be sociopaths operating under the banner of one-man BM released something that owed a little more than a drone or two to the NZ kings of abstract heart/mood. Ornate Shroud is the work of a Finnish BM gentleman who prefers that “The Un-Named One” do the same job that “Richard” or “Stephanie” does for the rest of us, and prefers that anything he didn’t directly create on said album be credited to “the Mrtyu Fellowship.” It’s not so much a point arrived at on the Progression Line-Graph in the Adventurous Metal boardroom (answering/disputing an otherwise dead-on blogger’s question as to whether or not we’ve traveled “from Ozzy to this in 38 years”) as it is metal falling apart all over itself in a rather moving manner, just so long as the listener can keep remembering that it’s all about the mood. Put something on top of the sleeve/cover while it’s playing. (http://tippedbowler.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Music for Any Speed 7”
(Disques Lexi)

There’s something about download cards inside of 7”s that makes me want to gripe about various aches and pains while fearing that the vet just put a tracking chip inside of my cat. Not that either “Thaw” or “Freeze” will have iTunes hitting up the nearest temp agency to help with an explosion of single-track orders; it’s just that no one can be blamed for a hint of sour stomach after dutifully chewing up and swallowing the “nothing is sacred” reality re: the basic idea of the 7” (combined with the boys-from-men line of demarcation when hitting on the album-as-artistic-statement vs. song-as-bite-sized-artistic-statement/car-commercial-fodder debate). Mudboy can’t be faulted for making music for a particular R.P.M., as “Thaw” pleasantly passes by as something one could imagine languishing unused on a hard drive belonging to any artist who last received a royalty check from Warp Records in 2002. “Freeze” is of much greater interest (and length at over six minutes), not only as something that should have seen proper release on Warp “back in the day” (a good thing), but as what might have happened if Boards of Canada decided to cover the six-minute chunk of righteousness found smack in the middle of the Dead C.’s “Air.”. That, dear readers, is an endorsement. (http://www.lexidisques.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Needle Gun
Afternoon Computer Umbrage LP

OK, here’s a joke for the ladies: What type of Harry Pussy album does Needle Gun’s s/t LP resemble? Give up? Well, that would be the one they kept sitting around for years in the event they had to initiate the three-pronged whammy of terminating a contractual agreement, getting sued, or cleaning the cobwebs out of their unwieldy fan-base! In case you didn’t understand the word-count advancement coupon just used as an opening, it means that Needle Guns take the free/spazz-noise rock to the harsh lands on the other side of the most challenging of Harry Pussy albums. The racket made by Miami’s favorite whatever-the-hell-they-were trio isn’t the only thing going on here, as it’s a tighter attack than most who toil in these thankless waters. Hey, if only they could travel back in time to when SPIN did that spread on noise?!? Uh, no, this may be too crazy! In closing: Thumbs up on the cover art! Two sentient trees arguing, but it’s obviously the type of arms-crossed and nose-in-the-air argument that bickering, elderly couples are traditionally supposed to have. (http://www.ehserecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Fricara Pacchu
Lucy 7” EP

Finnish four-track madness from Maniacs Dream member Fricara Pacchu, all the way from Finland (and on a label, run by members of Kemialliset Ystävät, that hasn’t released anything in six years). Miles away from what we commonly dismiss as low fidelity here, Pacchu revels in crunchy, martial, lo-res beatwork, synth basslines, electronic squigglery, galvanized klang, and folk twiddling on stylophone, dark and monolithic but driven and determined to make you break a sweat. It has that warbling, overclocked quality of that SID synth comp from some years back called Input 64, a collection of songs cribbed from Commodore 64 games. All instrumental, and better for it – these are b-boy anthems from a parallel 1983, pulled inside out and soaked in battery acid for extra crunch. I really missed receiving genuinely oddball records like this that run on their own logic, instead of trying to play someone else’s game, and hope that things of similar quality keep coming in. Really cool. (http://www.myspace.com/vauvalautasella) (http://www.kemiallisetystavat.com/vauva)
(Doug Mosurock)

Pipeline Alpha
Darking Lights Of Mazil CS

Just when I thought DNT had released some of the weirdest and most diverse recording this planet had to offer, they go ahead and slip out a nice gem by the moniker of Pipeline Alpha. PA seems to have crawled from the cutting room floor of The Conet Project and threw itself through enough effects processors and gristleizers to make one wonder what planet this is from. Spare keyboard drones overlaying countless drones, creepy samples, musique concrete inspired field recordings and freaky vocal experiments. Limited to 55 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com/home.html)
(Ryan Martin)

Nasty DNA CS
(C6 Recordings)

Judging by the cover, you don’t know what to expect from this recent cassette by Brooklyn band Pollution, but this tape is pretty hard hitting from beginning to end. Perfect blend of later-era Gravity Records back catalog sounds meets the power of Jesus Lizard. Experienced band with an equally fitting & intense vocalist. Can only imagine how powerful these guys can be live. Limited to 100 copies; look for a forthcoming vinyl reissue on Feast of Tentacles. (http://www.myspace.com/pollutionpollutionpollution)
(Ryan Martin)

Radioactive Prostitute
King Maris Day 12” EP

Jokey noise rock with improv aspirations, mixed with some one-fingered riff rockers. First song really goes off on some rock-block-ready radio rant before launching into feedback blasts. Apparently the project has been around for seven years and played with likely East Coast noise Mafiosos. This record goes for more noise than rock, however. The feedback is mixed up with some marble-mouthed craziness that just goes on and on, with no real point or direction. While the recordings are weird, they lack menace. Only one song goes for the “riff” and it’s definitely the keeper in a sub-Butthole Surfers kinda way. I am sure they are not trying to be the most popular band on the block, and it’s got a timeless annoying quality. You have probably talked with friends outside of one of their sets, waiting for someone else to go on. (http://www.radiopros.org)
(Ben McOsker)

Random Touch
Turbulent Flesh LP
(Token Boy)

A bizarrely mic’ed percussion jam featuring every bongo, chime, steel drum and cymbal in the closet. “Who else uses bowed drums but academic dweebs?” I was starting to ask. This record goes a bit further and really pushes the momentum against seemingly steep odds. While it frequently sounds like a new take on an old Nonesuch modern classical record, it has a drive that keeps interest. Genuinely worth checking out if you are looking for some non-linear and interesting head music. Past releases of this group have been as a trio with keyboards and guitar present alongside the drums. While it’s tough to say who is making what sound on this record, it does stand as a particularly inventive take on free range roving sound fuckery. (http://www.randomtouch.com)
(Ben McOsker)

Real Estate
“Fake Blues” b/w “Pool Swimmers” 7”

I was waiting for this band to open up a little bit, based on some vague promise found in their debut 7”. With this release – in the interim, Pitchfork has become a fan, somehow grafting an association with Woodsist and Captured Tracks, labels that I really have no opinion of, unless they release bad records – they sound more and more like a band that just formed with a primary influence of that “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” movie (not having read the book). Soft and softer renditions of quiet, cuddly indie rock cutesy-poo. It’s pop music, it’s not terribly original, but pleasantries abound. Sometimes pleasant doesn’t cut it, though. One of these kids is that Ducktails guy. Forget it. I dunno. This is one of those things where the good song doesn’t grab you immediately – hell, “Fake Blues” is the best I’ve heard out of this group yet – but it leaves me wondering if I’m being overly compensatory to youth making such conciliatory moves towards a safe and secure sound. (http://www.fuckittapes.com/woodsist.htm)
(Doug Mosurock)

Religious to Damn – “Falls Down Again” b/w “Mayflies” 7” (M’Ladys)

Pretty much all there mix of ethereal gauze and early ‘60s girl pop gone bad balladry, cut through with the requisite Gothic underpinnings of the M’Lady’s dark lady 2fer (matching up well with the Tamaryn record, listed below, though singer Zohra Atash poses more modestly than her buddy does). The storm doesn’t kick into “Falls Down Again” until it’s time to say goodbye, but the metered build-up to the explosion of multi-tracked vocals and the most energy this track can muster is done admirably. Atash sounds like the counterpart to Tamaryn’s brooding warble; her higher vocal registers are flaunted with purpose and control; she’s got the heights while Tamaryn’s got the depths. “Mayflies” is the track to go with here, and once it gets going (with assistance from breathy crooner and musical partner Peter Mavrogeorgis, along with Jim Sclavunos on drums) into its repetitive, confessional chorus, it’s got real cinematic appeal. Curious to see where this project ends up, as it’s got a lot of promise. Red vinyl on this copy; seems to be sold out from the label. It’s the New York City dream, lit on fire once again. (http://www.mladysrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mike Rep
Donovan’s Brain 7” EP
(Columbus Discount)

Been crowin’ about Ohio rock and its restorative properties for so long that if you’re not on board now, you never were. Columbus Discount continues the singles club the right way, respecting the true legacy of that state’s finest export: music from people smart enough to put the world in its place. These 1997 recordings were designed to sting, busting up rock legends and Nancy Reagan as if they were one and the same. “Donovan’s Place” twists up the 3am sci-fi classic with the life of the folksinger, as he prepared to do time with Rick Rubin. Sayeth Rep, “The man who brought us ‘Epistle to Dippy’ is in saaaaad shape!” Couldn’t agree more, and don’t forget, his son Nancy Boy got dissolved by the Blob, and beat up his girlfriend in an after school special I had to watch in health class. A rightful skewering, recorded on a Dictaphone with all bass frequencies extruded. Tommy Jay rattles along in the back on drums. Thanks are given to Nancy, Roky and another Ohio genius, Boys from Nowhere’s Mick Divvens (find their old singles, and give away the rest of your records; you probably don’t need ‘em). Whether you can have this or not depends on your station in life. Where were your priorities last summer? Shouldn’t you have thought about that now (even if it meant having to suffer a Little Claw 7” that’s so steamy it made the heliotrope in my room spin of its own accord)? Things end up with a short ditty proclaiming the death of Jim Croce to one of his songs. The balls on this guy! Ay plus work, as always. Heroes and idols will break your heart. 250 copies, half on yellow vinyl and half on green, none for you, dear. (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t CS
(Captured Tracks)

A very unexpected and nice surprise from the back seat of the Captured Tracks catalog. An Australian post-industrial oddity, Repairs sound as if they jumped fast-forward from the archives of Ladd-Frith, Sound Of Pig or even Staalplaat and shuffled themselves into a world in which our only understanding is that of MP3 blogs and Vinyl-on-Demand box sets. Minimal, sparse and cold is exactly what this tape is, nothing more, and exactly how it should be left. (http://capturedtracks.com)
(Ryan Martin)

Richard Ramirez & MSBR
Negative/Offensive (A Tribute to the New Blockaders) LP
(Ecstatic Peace!)

Last in a four part series of joint collaborations between these two prolific noise artists, each artist providing source material to the other. Very raw and strategically composed, sounding like a harsh noise version of Morton Feldman or John Cage. For anyone looking for looking for such unrelenting reliability to form, here you go. Ramirez, as an artist, really shines through on this much in the same way he blew everyone away with his more recent Werewolf Jerusalem recordings, while MSBR does exactly what he did best… pure volume. These two keep true to each other’s contributions in the end product. Limited to 400 copies. (http://www.ecstaticpeace.com)
(Ryan Martin)

Sand Cats/Car Clutch
split 7” EP
(Wildfire Wildfire)

The label behind this heavier-than-thou 7” (70 grams!) based in Baltimore proffers campus anarchy and exemplary public condemnation in the struggle of class warfare. Wildfire Wildfire assumes the stance of the Revolution, writes manifestos, make t-shirts, posters all with the intent of creating a parallel social structure. They also like to work with their friends. Sandcats is husband Rjyan Kidwell (Cex) and wife Roby Newton (ex-Milemarker), trance dark lords who “live in the dark, lighting the way for passers by with Newton’s handmade kaleidoscopes and enveloping the wild city with her captivating voice and Kidwell’s electronic mastery.” There is certainly a lot of electronics at play into “Bikewrider,” an echo-y jam which, if pressed on even a slightly less grade of vinyl, probably wouldn’t nearly have the impact that it does. Wildfire deserves credit knowing quality and sticking to it. This is a good performance; the electronic change dropping from the sky electronic sounds reminded me of Pink Floyd, but if that’s cool with Roger Waters that’s cool with me. There’s nothing mythological here, but the heaviness is dialed in. Car Clutch is Brendan Fowler and Ethan Swan, who explore deep bass together and then get funky with some mellow keyboard chords. The whole affair is electronic to the core, dodging pretension. Some strange bells and hand crank sounds linger in the background of this minimalist techno project and make this worth riding the fader out here and there. If Wildfire needs a worksong, “Ringu, I’m on the Edge of My Seat” would probably pass the muster for la Revolucion. 500 copies. (http://www.wildfirewildfire.com)
(Steve Knezevich)

Sasqrotch/Puko Chino
split CS

Sasqrotch side delivers punished doom ridden black metal, but don’t expect any easy BM riffs in this band. Extremely complex and nightmarish with a twist of Morricone-like epic style influence with nods to sounds like Sunn O))). But while other doom metal imitators feel the need to do “more of the same”, Sasqrotch took it to the more atmospheric and esoteric route. Other side contains new works by Puko Chino, being the solo moniker for Sasqrotch bassist/guitarist, Danny. Much different that his main endeavor, it still draws on basic noise/black metal influences in the form of what one could figure to be a basic rehearsal jam captured to tape. Limited to 100 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com/home.html)
(Ryan Martin)

Emily Scott/Hélène Renaut
Seasonal Sevens: Summer split 7”
(Autumn Ferment)

First in a series of four singles from this Scottish label, showcasing material best suited to the season on the label. Emily Scott sticks to the traditions of British parlor folk on her number “Pond Dipping,” doing those Ditty Bops multi-tracked vocals and generally expressing pleasantry, if not innovation. One-time Incredible String Band member (guessing this isn’t necessarily an exclusive club) Malcolm Le Maistre sits in on banjo. Hélène Renaut sets this one on fire with “Bumblebee,” providing all the intangibles that make French chanteuse-age so righteous when it works. She’s backed by Skygreen Leopard Jasmyn Wong and set up by Papercuts’ Jason Quever for maximum results – a clean, full recording, simple and effective arrangements, and a voice to die for. 300 copies, yellow vinyl in a clear plastic sleeve. ( http://www.autumnfermentrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dylan Shearer
Planted/Plans LP
(Yik Yak)

Dylan Shearer simply lacks the goods needed to properly navigate the freak-folk ruins. That sub-genre, like all now-forgotten, phased-out, or bulldozed-over developments in underground pop culture, was born of dominating chapters that can themselves be traced back to one governing genre of the past twenty years: indie rock. You can pile on as many forgotten Xian obscurities and 70’s "outsiders" as you like, but the engine is indie rock, and as with, say, post-rock, the strong weather the trend period that devours the weak. That’s why we still have a band like Mogwai, and within freak-folk or weird & bearded America or whatever you want to call it, Devendra is going to continue to do what he does, and he might even spit out a great album or two before old age. Planted/Plans is like a freak-folk karaoke machine, a seemingly perfect mixture of Espers, Feathers, Devendra, J. Newsom, and extra-orbital untouchables like Ghost, but excepting the last example, people seem to forget how grossly mediocre the movement was in the first place, and records like this happen. 100 copies. ( http://www.yikyak.net)
(Andrew Earles)

Sic Alps
A Long Way Around to a Shortcut 2xLP
(Drag City)
“L Mansion” b/w “Superlungs My Supergirl” 7”

This one should send my Tumblarity back up into the low double digits … I still wait to find out if Sic Alps can deliver on their promise, one which is held by thousands as Thee Reel Deel Haight-Ashbury Time Machine and Secret Guardians of the Omniverse, and still can’t determine if their promise is entirely based on novelty or if they will ever coalesce into something a bit more tenable. Unlike most sic psych-o-phants, I couldn’t get away from their full-lengths quickly enough (some say there were songs in there, even!) but still had a good ear and fond memories towards the early EPs, and their general message of peace-n-luv goodwill. I know invention is hard, and I don’t expect it from everyone, even those as lauded and capable as these guys. It just may be that I don’t understand California. I never lived there, and the time I spent there a decade ago (in the company of a shoplifter with a borderline personality, unreasonable/stressed folks in Downey, members of the Locust, the skin-melting farts of Kent McClard and a sweet brodude from Uphill Battle, among others) didn’t convince me too hard. I would love to drop out and live by some tidal pool in Santa Barbara. Maybe one of you can show me the way. A Long Way Around was a good enough idea for sure, if only to get it off CD and to put an exact repro of that ridiculously limited Descriptions of the Harbor 12” back in print (remember it, for it is the one that truly kicked of the bidding war for under-quantity vinyl, and those who missed out went on to gladly pay $40+ for records available from artists and labels at list price, months before the market corrected itself). Even that’s kind of a bummer now, as listening to the majestic scatter of its nine B-sides only brings to mind the fact that Thee Oh Sees are a band with a fan base and sticky fingers, Creeque Alley flowing falsely from J. Dwyer’s spread buttcheeks. The second L-pee, covering tapes, singles and tour offerings, fares much better, and it’s nice to have the graceful waste of “Strawberry Guillotine” and “Semi Streets” in one place. The duo has since been filled out with third member Ty Segall (a guy who really needs to take a fucking rest; guess he wasn’t in enough bands, or maybe finished all six albums he was fittin’ to release this year). The new stuff really puts the “slum” in Slumberland, bending nylon strings and playing cute on their original, and misinterpreting Terry Reid’s initial/righteous misinterpretation of Donovan on the flip. When Sic Alps are on, I have no beef, but I also know where we are, and where this all came from – dead center of the second term in the Bush administration, when all the fight was sapped out of us for good. I can’t help but think our lowered expectations are a direct result of this unfortunate time for culture and the arts, and hastened the distance between current generations. We can’t really trust each other anymore – why bother sharing when somebody’s just gonna take it from you anyway? Both are limited in some such way, likely because of that very same logic. Anyway, one of these is pretty good and nice-to-have, but all the time you spend in fake 1966 means less life you can dedicate to listening to Jellyfish over and over. Your call. (http://www.dragcity.com) (http://www.slumberlandrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Static Static
Psychic Eyes LP
(Tic Tac Totally)

Los Angeles Static Static offers up a space age take on a classic LA synthpunk sound with this full-length. If there is one thing that never gets old for me, it’s that dry monosynth ring, probably from an ARP Odyssey (or a reasonable simulator), the one which the Screamers used so well. Static Static mounts this appealing element on a sturdy Memphis garage frame, like Spider, but hyper-focused on a driving rhythm. Much of Psychic Eyes is propelled by drummer Lesley Ishino’s monomaniacal pounding stomp, and the synth weaves into a hypnotic wall of distortion. Taking a minimal tack like this can sometimes drag, but the band effectively employs brief guitar flourishes (“Frantic”) and counter-melodic keyboard slides (“Mattresses”) to keep things from becoming monotonous. John Henry’s barked vocals deal in inter-dimensional issues and while not quite sung, manage to strike a Wipers-esque quality. My one complaint is that the LP is mastered way too quietly for the pulsing racket their throwing out. This one needs to be heard loud. (http://www.tictactotally.com)

Tamaryn – “Return to Surrender” b/w “Ashore” 7” (M’Lady’s)

I remember Tamaryn Brown as this friendly, funny, slightly aloof young lady, traipsing about New York City in the early ‘00s. I know she always wanted to start a band, but it seemed like personnel, timing and just plain bad luck had put a stop to those plans. I’m glad she’s pulled it together, as this two-song single evidences a burgeoning talent in an otherwise stagnant and forgotten genre. Not to say that there’s nobody working in Goth with this much talent, but Brown and co-conspirator Rex Shelverton (Portraits of Past, Das Audience, Vue) understand that to make beautiful records in that field, there have to be concessions made to balance the personal and the mysterious, to hold very little back but sound completely in control. It sounds like a good bit of time was spent getting this sound just right, and the pair are far better off for it. There’s more than a fair bit of self-obsession at play here, but it’s countered with talent and an adherence to traditions that don’t seem stale or grasping at any available straws. If there have to be hundreds of photos of the artist in various poses of resale Roma imagery, a tempest in a flash card, at least the music can back it up. Both songs are dark, yet rich in their composition, never trading away the power of the statement for shock value. Granted, I’ve been going through a heavy Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees kick this summer, likely owing to the doom ‘n’ gloom of NYC’s rapidly changing climate, but these tracks hit the spot, instantly memorable and rewarding. M’Ladys offers a CD version for a few more dollars, tacking on the tracks from the Led Astray, Washed Ashore EP. Since I like to keep my money out of the hands of Bayonne’s hungriest man, this was a no-brainer. Excellent work. (http://www.mladysrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Teenage Cool Kids
Foreign Lands LP
(Protagonist Music)

Foreign Lands has a could-be-anyone-this-late-in-the-game feel; consummately inoffensive most of the time, nudging up to the low end of “good” in spots, and on a debt consolidation plan to repay the first run of bands from earlier in the decade that neutered the Y2K version of the Flaming Lips. Let’s go over that again with the gift of clarification: Singer sounds identical to Wayne Coyne, the song structure is rocked-up and traditional, the instrumentation standard and bereft of heavy-handed fake psych effects, the drums providing the occasional attention-getter next to the usually-forgettable, at times decent, and quite infrequently-great hooks. But you, dear listener, can fix all of the above by imagining how bad this band SHOULD be based solely on the three words they chose as a name. (http://www.teenagecoolkids.blogspot.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Teenage Panzerkorps
Arc de Triomphe 7” EP
(Captured Tracks)

Captured Tracks once again covers the ass and taint of fraud label Down in the Ground (see also the new Blank Dogs 7”, and for a character reference, the Blessure Grave 12”, though for the latter I would not recommend it). This record was a pre-order scam finally made good, and represents the cleanest Der TPK recording to date, but also some half-assery that leaves you feeling cheated. The motorik overtones from the two LPs and Skulltones 7”/self-released CD-R drive one of Jewelled Antler’s most wayward factions, but when you tidy up the deliberately murky production, the violence of those earlier efforts dissipates into Nerf-like nu wave with some guy yelling harsh diktats in German over it. Thankfully, they come through with the melody. The two pop songs on side A are really good, but the B side’s haphazard structure and abrupt ending are the last things you hear off this one, and sadly those are the memories that stick. (http://www.myspace.com/capturedtracks)
(Doug Mosurock)

Thee Oh Sees – “In the Shadow of the Giant” b/w “She Said to Me (demo”) /“Where People Do Drugs” 7” (Sub Pop)

I will be one happy man when the moment for this clowny, amateurish bullshit dies off. Lazy even by their standards (they can’t even bother to stay in rhythm on the A-side), tossed-off acoustico for the low expectations set. Bad, even by their standards. Red vinyl, 1500 copies. (http://www.subpop.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bobby Ubangi
Inside the Mind of Bobby Ubangi LP
(Rob’s House)

“Everybody’s watching me drown.” Coming out of anyone else’s mouth, it’s a metaphor. Coming from the late Benjamin Jay Womack, it was simply the truth. It’s a line delivered in the snotty sneer common to garage rock steez but there’s also something non-judgemental about it. Yeah, everyone is watching me drown. What else is new? Womack, known as Bobby Ubangi, died this summer of cancer. He was 34 years old. Womack has been eulogized elsewhere and better than I possibly could. I didn’t know the man personally. But piece after piece has noted his status as a well-liked fixture in the Atlanta scene, the embodiment of a certain strain of fuck-it that made him a tiny icon. But Inside the Mind of Bobby Ubangi was recorded after he received his diagnosis. According to reports, he dropped the drugs and booze and hammered down on what would be his final musical statement. Spinning at 45 and relayed in glorious mono, the songs fly by, thin, buzzing hunks of primitive muzz aided and abetted by various pals here and there (King Khan and Gentleman Jesse Smith, for examples). Spit and bailing wire tunes, clattering along via four-track, just a dude leaving it all on tape as he thinks about the end of his life much more than most of us have to. This is exactly how you do this sort of thing. Nice job, man. Rest in peace. (http://www.robshouserecords.com)
(Joe Gross)

Uneven Universe
Nightcrawler Walls CS

This tape seems to start off pretty slow and confused as to what direction this could possibly take, but that mystery soon reveals itself after a good minute into this release. Echoed sax drone perfectly layered on top of minimal soundscapes, very reminiscent of early Nurse With Wound with a strain of John Olsen/Wolf Eyes free drone jazz rhythms. It ebbs and flows into sparse and creepy structures which could only feel right in the dark, wet basement of last night’s taco-induced bad dream. Highly recommended. Limited to 100 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com/home.html)
(Ryan Martin)

Matt Wellins/Zac Wallace
split one-sided 12”
(What the...?)

Two fairly long experimental pieces by two distinct artists (no collaborations here) comprise this one-sided LP. Dusted contributor Matt Wellins plays soprano sax, which is then processed through his computer, sounding almost exactly like Terry Riley playing soprano saxophone and processing it through his time delay system on 1968’s Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band: All Night Flight recording. This is possibly a self-conscious tribute since the track’s title is “Dedicated to Lovely Music, Ltd.,” namedropping a label which has released some of Riley’s recordings. Sun Circle member and Lichen Records proprietor Zac Wallace lays down a very pretty static viola drone, draping harmonica and singing saw over top. Both of the tracks on this record are engaging listening, with Wallace’s piece an especially strong example for this kind of thing, so if you are a fan of this style of music and have the budget for it, go ahead and buy this record. Limited to 111 copies, with a nice silk screened sleeve by Paul Coors, and still available from some distributors. (no contact, sorry)
(Chris Strunk)

“Oh Missy” b/w In Flagranti remixes 12”
(Rong Music/DFA)

Over the last five years, Simon James, the mastermind behind LA’s Woolfy project, has had the valuable ability to cater to picky dancefloors as well as the more ‘with it’ segments of the indie rock world. James’ compositions are catchy, but also don’t ignore the demands of a club system. Recently turning Woolfy into a full-fledged live band will undoubtedly attract more listeners to the fold and open up new doors moving into 2009 and beyond. “Oh Missy” is easily classified as a pop-rock song, as opposed to typical DJ fodder. That’s not to say you can’t use it in the club, it just has to be used carefully as the rock certainly outweighs the bounce here. The ever-prolific In Flagranti remixes the tune into two dirtier, noisier and more club-oriented tracks, but neither really hits the level of funkiness that many of their other mixes do. Recommended, but approach with caution. (http://www.dfarecords.com)
(Billy Werner)

The Illuminated LP

Proper vinyl treatment by Dekorder to this avant-garde influenced work, originally released as a limited edition cassette on Digitalis Industries. A real throw back to early United Diaries, unknown sources of sound blended with textured fumbling of clanging objects, bells and chimes, lightly tossed around to grumbling voice manipulation and esoteric moans. The scary world of which Xela exists seems to open up even more strangely on this record, the tracks here slowly evolving into epic, raw black metal rhythm. Haunting yet subtle arrangements make this a truly interesting work, ripe for rediscovery. Essential listening. (http://www.dekorder.com)

Don’t Put Out 7”

I’ve ignored YACHT for a long time, and was planning to do so, even with their DFA affiliation (hey I trust those guys most of the time). Anything born out of K Records nerf idealism low self esteem cuddle usually gets the Heisman as I run away back to my hairy hovel of red meat and skin mags. I just don’t have time for it and, besides, they perfected that shit between Lois and Tiger Trap and Heavenly and of course Beat Hap. I don’t need any more. I’m not an undergrad, not anymore. Not to say that, you know, my music is more valid than that of a new generation’s, as I’m gladly proven wrong on that point a lot of the time. But not this time, arts-n-crafts hour extended to the bedroom beat lab, taking a cult cultural landmark – songs from the feminist punk film anthem Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains – and treating the source material with flagrant disrespect. There are two songs performed in the film by the fictitious bands: the Stains (teen Shaggs soundalikes, exploited by the media) do “Waste of Time,” and the Looters (a working-class punk belter performed by members of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, and fronted by a young Ray Winstone) with their anti-conscription anthem “The Professionals.” YACHT covers them both, adding basic beats and fleshing this skeleton of a song out with unwanted dorm room dance party bounce to the former, and draining the energy from the latter with one of the most listless and creatively bankrupt reads imaginable. Dance music for people who can’t dance. What’s done with these songs is a fucking shame. Don’t be surprised if somebody sugars up this band’s gas tank on the road this fall. 500 miserable copies; don’t buy it, don’t even steal it. (http://www.marriagerecs.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

C.S. Yeh
Songs 2002 one-sided 12” EP
(What the…?)

Cruddily-pressed one sider with some oddly singer songwriter styling savant super hero C. Spencer Yeh, best known for his solo outfit Burning Star Core. First song is a break up song featuring someone on a ventilator in the studio during the recording. I hope that person pulled through. Further developments feature some real unhinged wigging out sounds … not sure if its violin, but it goes from move over rover to Godspeed you Black Umpires within minutes. This is definitely a change of pace from Burning Star Core. The last song has an Elliot Smith vibe even. Although all these songs are old, and not in Mr. Yeh’s better-known style, they are all totally worthwhile slices of creepy dark pop. (http://www.discogs.com/artist/C.+Spencer+Yeh)
(Ben McOsker)

Various Artists
Psyched Punch: DNT 3 Year Anniversary 2xCS

Seems like DNT has been around a lot longer than just three short years; by looking at their impressive back catalog, you’d think they were around for ten or more. This two-tape set is the perfect introduction to anyone wanting to dabble in far-out experimental chromium culture. With such a bizarre and diverse roster of releases, these tapes take you through the “best of” DNT without going overboard, ranging from drone noise by the likes of Jazzfinger, Robedoor and Yellow Swans all the way down to obscure freeform oddities such as German, Acre, and Forbici, First three sides dish up tracks from the label past three years while side D offers brand new and exclusive tracks by Blank Realm, Super Minerals, Birdcatcher and Plankton Wat, recorded especially for this special 3-year anniversary. Limited to 100 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com/home.html)
(Ryan Martin)

Various Artists
Tarantismo Summit Vol. #1 LP
(Rampage Records)

A very strange collection of groups thrown together on this record to which I still am a bit clueless what links them all together (even after reading the long-winded and unnecessary liner notes affixed to the front cover). First side goes right into Smegma and does not disappoint; typical freeform weirdness at its finest, abraded by wild ethnic horns, improvised percussion, broken transmissions and on/off organ pitching mixed up in a blender of unknown sounds. K.K. Rampage seems almost instantly out of place on this record, delivering a very odd hybrid of no wave/post-punk sound structure blended with almost borderline metal breakdowns. A tad sloppy in parts, channeling a brief period of time in which bands like Arab On Radar and labels like Three One G roamed free on the turntables, these guys might have showed up a little too late to the party. Insect Joy’s three cuts make it clear that you’re witnessing a band who is simply throwing together sloppy grooves and poor sound structure and slapping the experimental sticker on it. Nothing impressive or very thought out ever comes out of their music. As counter-balance, Brooklyn-based free jazz/noise crossover ensemble Ghost Moth shows up with two part solid jams which stitch together harsh oscillated noise with superb improvisations by jazz legend Daniel Carter. (http://www.myspace.com/rampagerecordings)
(Ryan Martin)


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:

Doug Mosurock
PO Box 3087
New York, NY 10185-3087

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!

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