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Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 18

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In the last Still Single round-up of 2010, Mosurock and crew hype Factory Floor, Purling Hiss and Sleetmute Nightmute.

Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 18

Thanks to all the readers, musicians, labels, filmmakers and I guess publicists for yet another year of support. With all likelihood this will be the last Still Single update running on Dusted in 2010, but don’t worry. Reviews – a LOT of them – will continue to be published at http://still-single.tumblr.com throughout this month, December and January, and updates on Dusted will pick up again in the new year. You … you do understand that the blog runs all these reviews, only earlier, right? And that you should keep sending in your records and tapes regardless?

Just to clarify, if the address you have for me isn’t in New York, NY, you’re sending it to the wrong place. NYC is not Brooklyn, not Long Island City. Sorry to have to be so blunt but this is a mistake that keeps getting made and I don’t have the means to update you all one at a time. Go to the blog, or scroll to the bottom of this column for my address. Take care, and enjoy learning more about new music.

Articles of Faith
New Normal Catastrophe 12” EP
(Alternative Tentacles)

Vic Bondi rides again. Like getting five angry emails in your inbox, here’s some middle-aged hardcore that retains a lot of the speed and aggression of their earlier days, but informed by Bondi’s current take on politics – still left-leaning, smash the system, and the like, but a bit hackneyed in its attempts to proselytize. Really one of those things no human was ever meant to hear. This guy still wants to beat up Steve Albini, which is almost as hilarious as the music is stringent and unwilling to take risks. Should have been phased out with the motor voter bill! (http://www.alternativetentacles.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Begraven Mot Norr LP
(Release the Bats)

There are black metal concerns that deviate so far from metal that the riff disappears, the atmosphere gets dialed up until the knob is ripped off, and if you exclude the reliance on synthetic percussion, the world gets yet another worshipper at the folding chair of Current 93, Coil, Nurse w/ Wound, “darkwave,” Psychic TV, Chris and Cosey, and the list could (and does) go on. Then there are the noisenik outfits that start out on the other side of the fence from Whitehouse antagonism or the largely American trend of affixing 80 effects boxes to a picnic table and just being brutish about the whole thing. It’s the latter that always wants to align with black metal imagery, packaging, and attitude, despite the vicinity boasting an absence of any actual metal people. It’s this latter group in which Sweden’s Ättestupa falls, and one need only a glance at who they’ve shared tours and shows with for proof (Sudden Infant, Fabulous Diamonds, The Skull Defekts, Deathroes, etc).

But this isn’t a noise record. It’s noisy funeral drone with rhythm courtesy of drums, pulsating keys, bass, and piano, and at first, the “‘70s German prog” comparison in the promo material seemed laughable, though this was before I noticed I was listening to a full-length record with one song per side. Meaning, each of the tracks contains several movements, even if the tempo remains below “spirited plod” at all times. And the recording quality is calculatedly poor, not only in the sense that the thick layer of audio-shit caked across each side is used as an additional instrument, but also in the sense that dynamic recordings are the aesthetic antithesis of this mindset. Yawn. If you could see me right now, I’d be looking at my watch and tapping my foot impatiently. How tedious is the M.O, of the overtly elite, willfully obscure human-haters? Don’t answer that; it’s a trick question. One gets the impression that the only thing scarcer than a guitar riff is a sense of humor, an approach that works when the music is appropriately intense. Another band; another album. Can I get Fenriz’s opinion on this, please? I need a hearty guffaw. 512 copies. (http://releasethebats.com)
(Andrew Earles)

s/t LP

More tuneful and exciting than most Wierd acts, Montreal’s Automelodi shares in common the one alienating factor it seems to take to get picked up on that label. The Wierd Compilation releases were exhaustingly lengthy, Xeno & Oaklander too frigid, Led Er Est too monochromatic … Automelodi sings in French. Actually, they do so in every song except the second, “Airline,” which positions the trio of synths, guitar and drum/computer into the sort of sashaying, catty mindset and well-considered approaches of Pulp or the Pet Shop Boys. They don’t disappoint, and this is a pretty long record – yet they find a way to make every song snap, with a totally approachable hook or three to each, and work every angle of polished synth-pop you could imagine – Italo-disco, fashion runway, ‘81 style rudiments, racing rhythms, Winter Olympics, “Electric Dreams,” you name it, they cover it, and nigh on perfect to boot. The language barrier thing is bound to snag against some listener’s personal tolerance, but people put up with Dungen singing in Swedish (and truth be told, if you ever heard the version of their big record where they re-recorded the lyrics in English, you’ll understand why they stick to their mother tongue). I seriously cannot keep myself from listening to this album over and over. It’s my new commute jammer, and though sometimes I have to check out other things for review on the way to and from work, Automelodi is the music I keep returning to. A favorite of the year for sure, infectious and debonair computer pop that will improve your state of mind. (http://www.wierdrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

split 7”

Biko is an Oakland-based rapper who has a sunny, wistful delivery – his track is called “Sunday (A Song for Canon)” and deals with existential issues and life where he grew up, outside of the church. It’s propped up by a great turn-of-the-millenium production by Izznyce, on that whole sped-up R&B single sorta gambit, and it works well here. Izznyce also gets the B-side, an instrumental called “Sweet Grind of Mine” that sorta plays off the same dynamics, with a Parliament-style vocal hook and bouncy beat that might overpower all but the most deft on the mic. Probably best to leave this one sit on its own. Both tracks roll in at over four minutes, which is a bit of a patience-tryer when there’s no rhymes to go with it, but it’s not like hip hop on a 7” single is the most promising way to present the music anyway, so in that regard, this is a success! (http://www.myspace.com/cotterrecords)
(Doug Mosurock)

Brain Idea
The Survival Scrolls LP

I don’t want to seem like Mr. Old Timey Man, or lord knowledge/life experience over the readership, but I’m fairly certain people were aware of great bands from New Zealand before the last few years. I mean, it sucks that things like Bats LPs will run you around $60-80 now, and that none of that money is going to the band (Flying Nun just embarked on a CD back catalog campaign, but surely it couldn’t hurt them to press up some vinyl stateside and fight resale with retail), but I think we can all agree that the world’s a better place with that kind of music in it. Some locals might complain over there; I remember seeing that Kiwi spazz band The Mint Chicks over here, and talking with their manager, who informed me that the Jefferies Bros. and all the Xpressway bands were “rubbish” (thanks guy, I’m pretty sure they weren’t), so maybe there was some real national distaste for that sort of thing. But can the rest of the world be wrong? Is talking to some 22-year-old who’s just had his world ripped open by the beautiful pop of the Verlaines or the 3Ds about how you saw some of those bands, and staring back, incredulous, like knowing these records were in the cheap bin for a good long while, that much of an affront? Is knowing something about something something to be embarrassed of?

Chicago’s Brain Idea is a band that seems like they might get offended by that. They’re also the first of the modern lo-fi bands that I’ve seen to actually acknowledge the attempts to crib NZ pop into their whole mindset with a sticker on the cover. That’s more than the Mantles would do, but the Mantles also don’t take such blatant stabs at it – in two songs that come before Brain Idea’s wait-for-it cover of the Clean’s “Getting Older,” you can actually hear someone in the band working in that song’s telltale ascending chord progression, like they can’t wait to show you this great song, and odds are you’re just looking back with a knowing glance, waiting for that other shoe to drop. What’s more confusing is that, apart from that cover, they don’t sound much like the Clean at all, or for that matter, part of the scene that spawned them or their compatriots. There’s definitely not enough inventiveness or energy in these nine songs, no attempts to do something great with work-with-whatcha-got vocals. For what they deliver, it’s pretty good, if non-essential lo-fi fuzz pop, reminiscent of the first Polvo double 7”, minus the killer guitar interplay. That sorta slacked-out, uncertain vibe from the first Dinosaur record is here, but the tunes lean against the wall when they should be standing straight up. Maybe it was a bad idea (and not a brain idea, if by brain they mean “smart” or “of sound thought”) to hold themselves against a standard they can’t possibly attain – every song pushes the same mid-tempo millstone around and around, and even the cover you’ve all been waiting for sounds a bit slow and too affected, missing the wonder and awe of the original and replacing it with unenthused moan vox and way too much keyboard and fuzz swirl. There’s a dumb sample that was made famous by Howard Stern at the end of closer “Popped Tops” (from which the album takes its name) that really pissed me off, too. I’d even go as far as to consider that, had they not tried to compare themselves to what they are not, I might be more into this. I like the songs and hope they do better next time around, but let’s be realistic about things. 500 copies, comes with a nice silkscreened insert/poster. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
“Get it Together” b/w “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” 7”
(Rabbit Factory)

Call me a negative ninny, but I’m just going to write what many of you are thinking anyway: I find the idea of a soul revivalist cover of a Wilco song to be infinitely irritating. Any guess as to what might be worse? Listening to a soul revivalist cover of a Wilco song. 100% of this is a safe and predictable made-for-NPR circle jerk. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to soul, R&B, funk, and the blues, I have about as much soul as a former kid from the proto-sprawl of a mid-sized American city should have. None. My roots are in a bedroom, poring over zines and losing my shit to Mercury Rev and TFUL282. My “blues” was listening to the first Dinosaur album on factory-made cassette over and over the day after my father died, and still failing to conjure a great deal of emotion over a man I really didn’t know that well. And get this: The mid-sized city of which I write is none other than Memphis, TN, and I’ve never felt the need to dive into its Stax/Hi/Volt or Sun history, even when I worked at a local record store for over half a decade (I was the token go-to person for “indie” or “out there” inquiries). Watching French and Japanese record-geeks file out of cabs in the parking lot of said record store was enough to make my stomach turn at the thought of spending the next three hours pulling $100 records down from the safe spots near the ceiling, or giving directions to eateries where one can have their meal served to them through a hole in the wall. I’ll also admit to deriving an ounce or two of pleasure when a Yank or a foreigner realized that “authentic” could be another word for “very, very fucking dangerous.” Serves their asses right, the goddamn slummers. So am I really the right person to review a record of mirror-image soul-funk made by Second City funnymen-via-theater-geeks? Yes, because the music that I love is music that makes me feel something, and slummers like this claim to feel something from a form when that type of art-to-heart communication is completely impossible. And yes, I am writing all of this with an accurate understanding of the band’s racial make-up, a fact that means nothing in this context. Here’s a challenge for all of you: Make or get into something interesting for a change. Trust me, I understand the appeal of the ‘90s – I lived the times that I miss – but the minstrel show/omnipresent slumming aspect of that decade is one tradition meant to be left in the past. (http://www.therabbitfactory.net)
(Andrew Earles)

s/t LP

A divine marbled slice of tuneful strobe-drone polyhedrons from a Chicago duo determined to do something more within the genre. Across the board, these guys succeed; this collection of tracks from tape and CDR releases is bursting with strong ideas, melodic collisions strengthened by a layered, vascular approach that allows them to bring in a wide variety of noises and treatments, while keeping it all balanced and natural sounding, the excessive nature of their music coming across as joyful and celebratory rather than overwhelming. Think of it as a more ecstatic take on the earlier Emeralds releases, or Eno’s Discreet Music – or better yet, just enjoy this on its own merits. Great stuff. (http://www.dntrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t LP

Chicago noise-rock outfit Cacaw makes good on the promise made on their one-sided 12” from a little while back with this debut long player. They’re one of only a handful of bands around that understands how to do it right, the way it was done by the bands that originated this type of hostility: by finding a sound, but not letting their songs be dictated by it. You know how you can remember Unsane songs but not Twin Stumps ones? Same idea. Cacaw’s dual-bass lineup gives their music more room to maneuver, far from gimmickry – here it actually allows frontwoman Anya Davidson’s guitar and bloodcurdling Peppermint Patty vocals do a lot of the work in generating strong riffs that make sense. These songs are pretty weird, but the band isn’t so into repeating itself, so the listener gets the sense that they’re evolving, working through their specific brand of anger, rather than for it. The record is heavy as hell but benefits from a somewhat plain home recording, where Davidson is far enough out in the mix that she’s not competing with the drummer or whichever bass isn’t playing the lead at the time. It’s got layers of heaviness, yet isn’t so dense that the main riffs get lost. Someone thought about this beforehand, and it was a good idea, pushing Cacaw far in front of the pack of today’s best throat rippers. Forget the “work of art” angle they’re pitching this one as: it’s got a silkscreened, hand-numbered sleeve and is pressed on gold/green splatter vinyl. Lessons were learned and they’re coming for you with extreme prejudice. 500 copies (100 on cassette as well, which seems to be sold out). (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Chen Santa Maria
“Jefferson Chopper” b/w “Great Society” 7”

More like “Churn Santa Maria” from the sound of “Jefferson Chopper,” a 50-yard-dash of guitar textures, live manipulation of sound, and electric razor abuse. “Great Society” opens up a bit more to the night sky, and posits the sort of looped-out, hopheaded demeanor that Spacemen 3 might’ve accomplished, had that group decided to play a breaking-down refrigerator and flickering fluorescent light instead of guitars. Actually that’s not fair, there’s plenty of guitar here, and it’s having the smallest staring contest with an industrial performance miles away. Sounds slight at first, but you’ll come back to dissect these sounds, satisfying in their combination and in how this long-running Bay Area duo chose to manipulate them. Smart work that steps over the line of rock staples and into something a bit more introspective and thoughtful. 250 copies. (http://zumonline.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Clear Band
s/t 12” EP
(New Editions)

Three new offerings from Harris Klahr, late of Q and Not U and manning the bass in the latest iteration of the Rapture. The Clear Band material here is pretty far from either, the A side’s “Good Fortune” and “History is Paradise” brimming with progressive folk pleasantries, revealing the sort of caution you might have heard once before on a Gastr del Sol record before the algebra of that group kicks off. On the flipside’s “Open Society Now,” we get a little closer to the cosmic pulse, with a lengthy intro of sitar-styled guitar drone n effects, and a closing brace of organ pump and imperfect Krautrock rhythm, on top of which Klahr rips some tasteful yellow psych soloing. It’s a nice effort, if a bit anonymous, and bodes well for the next seven innings coming forth. 300 copies, clear vinyl, paste-on sleeve. (http://harrisk.tumblr.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Colossal Yes/The Good Fear
split 7”
(Gold Robot)

History is important, and the history of HOW WE GOT HERE is especially important. To clarify: How did we arrive at a musical landscape littered with bands like Colossal Yes and The Good Fear? Well, the first offender/step in this direction is a little something we used to call “alt-country”, or when indie and punk rockers woke up one day and decided to slum because whatever previous genre they were toiling in, well, it had too many constraints or it was boring or they grew out of it. All of those excuses can be translated into: “I sucked at it.” So, hordes of mediocre bands and musicians simply migrated to where mediocrity was the order of the day (yet shrouded by the toning-down that comes along with getting “back to one’s roots”) … alt-country. So while these lemmings were “feeling a connection” to “you know, GOOD country music,” the actual sounds they made were little more than Americana-flavored indie rock with all of indie-rock’s interesting bits removed. Enter NPR. Enter Wilco and Radiohead. Enter Letterboxed Indie-Rock (vocals up front, more than 5 members, boring as watching dragonflies fuck). Enter bands like these two.

The tempo is slow. The chords are minor but devoid of any emotional pull. The instruments are many and most are “quirky” or “adult” (pianos, mandolins, etc). Colossal Yes (side project of Utrillo Kushner from Comets on Fire) turn in the lesser of evils here. The production doesn’t sound like Butch Vig circa ‘91 and the tune is catchy enough to make it. The Good Fear, by virtue of name alone, should be a forgotten 7”-in-a-paper-lunch-sack screamo band from 1995. Featuring a former member of Lucero (who long-ago ditched the alt-country thing for their own thing and who should be respected for an intense work ethic and total disregard of trend-saturation), The Good Fear does that despicable, neutering beast of boredom with a yawn-inducing professionalism. If people still give a shit about Arcade Fire and getting culturally disgraced at giant summer festivals, then The Good Fear will do just fine. Oh, and by the way…there’s no such thing as a “good” fear. (http://gold-robot.com)
(Andrew Earles)

s/t 7” EP
(Sweet Rot)

Four songs of slow, sad-eyed, agreeable acoustic sobbers from one of the guys in Meth Teeth, chugging a mug of his own tears. Nothing new here, but it’s nice to be a witness someone using a lo-fi setting in the traditional manner befitting of the ‘90s and such, when this sort of sentiment flourished. One of these songs is going to catch a few hundred people off guard and it’s going to end up on a mixtape to someone they want. For their sake, I hope it works. (http://www.myspace.com/sweetrotrecords)
(Doug Mosurock)

Conspiracy of Owls
s/t LP

From the remnants of Detroit retro-also-rans The Go comes Conspiracy of Owls, still mining the past but on a significantly mellower tack. With a scant few exceptions, this is straight up ‘70s AM Quaalude pop of no small effort – while some will obviously balk at the change of wardrobe these musicians have gone through, it’s kind of hard to argue with the three-part vocal harmonies and pitch-perfect recreation of avocado/burnt orange West Coast daze circa ‘72 or so, or the wishful thoughts of its London counterpart. There’s fuzz and some power moves on a few tracks, but when you have a record with a song like “Tower of Diamonds,” with its Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods impression coming on this strong, the arguments fade away. Comparable to certain eras of Sloan, the one good Midlake album, and most of the Bobsled Records roster, this is really only gonna appeal to the fans of this kind of pop, but those people are gonna love it. When my ladyfriend gets home, I’m gonna drop this on the turntable and see if she melts. I’ll bet it works! Nice-looking silkscreened/printed cover combo, with artwork by Robert Pollard. (http://www.burgerrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

CSC Funk Band/Superhuman Happiness
split 7”
(Electric Cowbell)

“CSC brings the horns, the rhythm and the swagger like it’s 1972” … so goes the first line of proam-splooge included with this 7”. I’m really trying for a subtle way to put this … OK, here goes: That’s a lie. I’m tired of the lies. That last sentence makes no sense, but I love saying it to people (Raymond and Peter fans will understand). So back we go to questionable statements about questionable indie-dance-funk that features “many of the finest from the Brooklyn underground…Colin Langenus (USA is a Monster) and Matt Motel (Talibam!) and Dave Kadden (Invisible Circle) playing an effected obow that will send your brain into opium-drenched wanderings through your wildest Ethiopique dreams!!!” This “sentence,” appearing a few words after the opening untruth, has more problems than a single mom with four fuckbuddies. Opium smoker, huh? My white ass you are. I can assure you, dear readers, that the effected oboe on said song will NOT produce any opium-drenched anything; that would only comes to these jokers and their target audience through Lortab addiction or stepped-on dope, and when enough girlfriends catch their respective boo’s secretly chain-smoking at 5 A.M. and mysteriously catching the flu eight times in four months, we’ll see how fertile such pharmaceutical vacations remain for promo-sheet glorification. And as for the Ethiopian psych-funk that receives the closing nod … it has about as much to do with this music as Terminal Boredom has to do with Terminal fucking Cheesecake. We can blame reissue labels for this, as they need to get their hands out of co-opted boogie and reissue Eggs’ Exploder or the Swirlies’ Blonder Tongue Audio Baton. Yeah, USA is a Monster is the first band I think of when pining for some third-rate Y2K indie-groove. I will say that as much as I love the Ethiopian buffet in my neighborhood, the “round two” that reliably confines me to a bathroom for at least forty-five minutes can indeed be psychedelic at times. See SHH review below for further details. (http://www.electric-cowbell.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Cultus Sabbati
The Garden of Forking Ways 12” EP

We are both the beneficiaries and victims of a media that screens war’s horrors. Though available as pacification, this state also renders frank outrage impotent. And so we, too, mediate. We mediate by appealing to the darkness of sacred systems, so rare now, that might treat the discontentment dysfunction so common in our age of glowing rectangles. Cultus Sabbati exhumes the fresh corpse of occultist Andrew Chumbley, and remains anonymous, as indices of a thoughtful effort to resurrect the humility of mystery. The oracle the group offers is a string of inhuman screams, labeled in structural language (corridor, ritual, path, way) but presented in stubbornly non-linear fashion. Strata of processed effects resolve less than fade away after many minutes, dying without meaning, having howled from the cradle. There is a drony nexus toward which folk, metal, and electronic composition each sometimes wander, a space of justified frustration and fear for the wandering ghosts of war. This is it. 333 copies on viscera-colored vinyl. (http://rococorecords.com)
(Benjamin Tausig)

Cum Stain
s/t 7” EP
(Florida’s Dying)

I’m writing this on Election Night, and if Marco Rubio isn’t a signal that Florida has died (at least from the neck up), maybe Cum Stain will finish off the state once and for all. Moderately catchy, NoBunny-style nasal garage pop where the central conceit seems to be Mr. Stain, pictured on back, smiling with a big mustache and sunglasses as his bandmates prop him up, his cock and balls pitched to the side. He looks like a big fella, but I’m not too intimidated by music this uninspired. Points added for putting big triangles next to a giant phallus on the front cover, then deducted for a needless and annoying cover of “Tonight You Belong to Me,” which you may know from “The Jerk,” rewritten as “Tonight You Can Cum Inside Me.” Really not a lot you can do with this sort of music, other than nod your head or scratch it. In a field of music where there is no room for reinvention, and where a guy needs to pull out his dick to make an impression, we’re pretty much running on fumes. My alt-weekly hack crib for the night: “It’ll leave you limp!” Huzzah! My real complaint: for the near future I won’t be able to think about one of Chevy Chase’s best deliveries in “Caddyshack” without reminding myself of this mediocrity. (http://www.floridasdying.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Druid Perfume
Tin Boat to Tuna Town LP

Might’ve been a little too rough on Druid Perfume’s last single, in light of this full-length, but hey, that record fucking sucked! This is a little more like it: crazyman Detroit art/sludge, sort of a demented carnival atmosphere (don’t read into that, especially given the group’s proximity to Juggalo Ground Zero) applied to a sort of jazzy take on Scratch Acid/U-Men style derangement. The presence of sax and trumpet will put some off, the Bluto-style vocals may lose even more, but I know that there is a small segment of the populace that’ll find this soupy, aggro run on Beefheart-esque lunacy exactly to their liking. Warn Defever’s relatively clean recording gives their sound some much-needed muscle, and spreads the burden across all the members, instead of leaning too hard on the vocalist (dude’s name is Jimbo Easter … yeah). Look, I don’t wanna think too hard about this one, and I’m surprised I like it as much as I do. Chances are you’ll get something out of this as well. Capisci? (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Druid-Perfume/102042316505200)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dynamic Truths
Understanding is Overrated LP/CDR
(Little Black Cloud)

As I sit at this desk, I can count on one hand the people who were ever excited for the eventual release of these recordings: myself, Jordan N. Mamone, and Randy Costanza. Add Dave Martin for an even four. Dan Allen, too, that makes five. Existing in the dead years for indie rock, the Dynamic Truths were a Richmond, VA band with a long and storied pedigree. World-weary, reedy vocalist Bob Schick was the frontman in Honor Role, an influential and sorrowful coda from hardcore and metal into the roots of emo, and Coral, which turned the ingrained misery of Honor Role’s output into a bitter, cynical pill that eats its listeners from the inside out. Guitarist David Jones got a lick or two of fame during the alt-rock boom in the noisy pop band Fudge, who released a promising spate of singles that led up to an incubator deal on Caroline and two albums that only the dwellers of the dustiest used CD stores can recall. As their respective projects ground to a halt, they formed the Dynamic Truths with a round robin of rhythm sections, and released one single on Merge (“You Take It All” b/w “Profit From Loss,” which is still in print, and available on the CD version of this release, which coincidentally comes with the vinyl edition). That record remains my favorite Merge release of all time, and definitely one of the best compact moments of backwards-looking, forward-thinking rock of the ‘90s. That their moment was a time when hardly anyone wanted to think about any more rock music was part of the band’s downfall; its icy blast of big, Lillywhite-honed guitars and even bigger riffs, the ones that pointed to the clean, handsome new wave revival that bands like Interpol would ride to fame a few years later, fell on deaf ears. Rumors of a full-length circulated, but the band found no label interest, and its tenuous lineups and stay-at-home demeanor eventually ground efforts to a halt around 1999.

Understanding is Overrated
collects the various recordings made throughout their history. The drive in these songs cries out just a bit too early for an audience that was waiting for these guys to come out and knock ‘em down. The stress of Schick’s earlier projects is still present, as is the solemnity of his lyrical content, but energized by Jones’ impeccable sense of timing and thoughtful, speedy ways with a hook, the sour notions are turned longingly sweet, the acrimony into anthems, wrapped up in springloaded post-punk fervor.

Dynamic Truths had great songs, and a full decade after the fact, deserve to be discovered. According to the label’s website, at this time, there are precious little copies of this release left, and there weren’t many to begin with: 100 copies, colored vinyl, including the CDR version of the release, with two inserts and a tastefully rendered sleeve. It’d be a shame if these records were to sit under someone’s bed, as this year winds down and we probably won’t see a better band unearthed. (http://littleblackcloudrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Brock Enright & Kirsten Dierup
Torben LP/”Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same” DVD
(Factory 25)

The gatefold LP/DVD enchilada in which Factory 25 delivers Jody Lee Lipes’ documentary is an idealistic future vision in packaging that may end up as little more than a hopeful gesture. Two thumbs and two toes up re: the packaging, even if it does include a congestion of blurb hype on the back cover. Now, upon first digestion, I had to beat back impulses to map out how “Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same” reminded me why the contemporary, art-school idea of “the artist” (or the artist’s idea of himself/herself) meshes perfectly with this era of underwhelming-to-whelming returns. The following bit of dialogue is an unwittingly telling one: “But I’m the girlfriend, and I’m the one that’s going to have to explain to our roommates the reason why we don’t have our part of the rent when we get back. I know you don’t think about that, but I do…I think about it.

I suppose a brief synopsis is in order, lest everything I write fail to make further sense. Brock Enright is an artist in what appears to be his mid-to-late 20s. Unexpectedly, he’s a pretty likeable, self-effacing guy with the pretention level dialed down to “stomachable,” which, relative to his demographic, will be way too pretentious for a lot of potential viewers. Lipes documents Enright and his longtime (long-suffering) girlfriend, Kirsten Dierup, as they travel across the country to her family’s cabin in the Redwood forest outside of Mendocina, CA. The cabin is the destination where Brock is to work on an installment commissioned by Perry Rubenstein Gallery in NYC – his first solo show in the city.

The film starts out as a visual look at the most boring road trip ever, with night after night staying and filming in built-yesterday, pre-fab comfort-cubes presumably owned by Middle Easterners. This makes sense, in a way, as off-the-beaten path motels with personality can lead to scary road situations for robbery-inviting parties like this one. Before long, this backdrop is livened up with uncomfortable Misunderstood Artist vs. Responsible-Therefore-Embattled Girlfriend drama. Then we’re at the cabin, where Dierup’s family steps in as the source of discomfort for the participants, and later, the viewer. Hard to watch.

Enright lacks almost everything that makes today’s version of a visual artist such an insufferable personality. He is not a quasi-intellectual. He is not an asshole. He could be struggling at any form, be it writing, music, or what-have-you, and the basic conflicts would be the same, namely in terms of his relationship with Dierup, who with a very gendered brush, paints her own work of jealousy over his work. Throw her passive-aggressive (disguised as laid-back) family (dad, mom, and fireman brother) into the mix, and viewers might have to stop every five minutes for a breather.

All in all, this movie was a pleasant surprise, but not a pleasant watch. The LP that provides the soundtrack was a surprise as well. Composed by Enright and Dierup (it would be interesting to know WHEN it was composed … relative to the filming), it shows the former to be an occasional genius in the songwriting dept. It’s very contemporary and shows up Animal Collective big-time in the context of memorable one-man psych weirdness, though the omnipresent influence predictable. Each of the two core participants has a respective side, and I gotta say, Enright’s shames his little lady, erasing her sonic diddle-daddle with real talent. Top to bottom, this is a fairly fascinating project that’s worth SOME of the hype. (http://www.factorytwentyfive.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Esben and the Witch
Marching Song 12” EP

The transition of Matador Records, once an exclusive home for indie/slacker royalty, into an organization more accepting of Goths, has been a long, slow process. Their sublimation into the Beggars Group put the office gang in direct contact with employees of the 4AD label, and forced their back catalog to commingle with stacks of Bauhaus and Dif Juz CDs in their NYC warehouse. Sure, it took the interns (and probably at least one member of Interpol) to teach Patrick Amory how to correctly apply eyeliner, but he’s getting it. The changes seem to have taken hold for good, though. Gerard Cosloy has started an outreach program to keep jocks like the newly-unemployed Jeff Reed from beating up pasty death rockers. Staff karaoke outings have even been replaced by private screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” – in costume, though it’s been mentioned they’re looking for new recruits to devirginize. Dave Martin even wears a black velvet cape on his bike ride to and from work each day. But the signing of Brighton, England’s Esben and the Witch shows Matador’s true commitment to Goth and all it represents: fun, fashion, acceptance and self-styled beauty through a prism of soul-crushing pain and despair. This trio’s atmospheric, tense, deliciously frigid approach suffuses the listener with dread, from the pulse of “Marching Song” to the defeated, ethereal ache of “Song Because We Are Too Menny,” a showcase of electronic wash and icy winds, Rachel Davies’ vocals cutting through the fray with wounded insistence. It’s so dark, it could have been released on Projekt and no one would have been surprised. And that’s just fine. Let’s give Matador the credit they deserve for showing bullies like Unsane the door, and embracing the fragile and defenseless beauty of Esben and the Witch. (http://www.matadorrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dylan Ettinger
New Age Outlaws LP
(Not Not Fun)

The perfect accessory to go with your vaporizer, for those times when you just don’t wanna do anything … Ettinger has a good sense of authenticity in terms of ‘80s science special on TV sorta soundtrack, or a score for perusing the back pages of an old issue of Omni or Popular Mechanics whilst on the crapper. I mean, the guy made a DIY, low-rent new age record, just like it says. Lots of cyclical melodies, all synth, nothing much else going on. He also put a triangle on the cover of the record, so you know where he stands. Honestly can’t see much value in this, aside from ironic appreciation from stoned youngsters. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Factory Floor
A Wooden Box 10” EP/DVD
(Blast First Petite)

Didn’t find out about this one until recently, because keeping tabs on the promo submissions comes first, but this one couldn’t be contained by import tariffs or a general ignorance of British indie labels towards these efforts to document what’s happening in modern music. Can’t tell you much about Factory Floor, other that they’re from England, but the four cuts on this 10” sting with well-organized, biomechanical malice, a cold blast of electronics against guitars and live drums, pop against industry, in the tradition of Throbbing Gristle or Liars. The songs don’t progress so much as mutate, adding instruments and tones as the intensity builds to the breaking point. “Lying” and “A Wooden Box” are full band offerings, with strict beds of quickly-oscillating synths leading the charge for locked-in rhythms, manipulated vocals, and abrasive effects, the line between a no-wave attack and the robotic overlords that follow the event erased completely in stern, terrifying measure. The latter track is positively menacing, holding down the metal beat until it breaks, leaving sheets of ground glass in the feedback/noise coda. “16-16-9-20-1-14-9-7” strips down even further to drum machine and pulsing synth, rarely shifting from its assigned task, over nine minutes of frigid sexbeat. “A Solid Sound” is where I depart, a sparse yet endless field of muted guitar manipulations that meanders on for a quarter of an hour. Nevertheless, the promise given by the three tracks which precede it is worth tracking this one down, the fully formed other that is poised to define the lives of a few thousand alienated young people for the yearlong journey this record’s been on. 2000 copies, clear vinyl, and comes with a DVD that I have hesitated to watch. Definitely track this one down – the first British act outside of the jazz/improv spectrum that’s made me take notice in quite a long time. (http://www.blastfirstpetite.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Family Underground
Demon Parade LP

Danish farm machinery comes alive and waits outside the shed to murder you and yours on the A-side, and for me that’s been a fairly typical response to most Family Underground product that’s come through here – some funny words to something that doesn’t mean much of anything. The good stuff everyone keeps referring to, the drivers behind how this group managed to bag so many releases in years past, never really materialized when and where I needed it. And truthfully there’s one side of this record with two long pieces of straight pain, either via amp abuse or violin torture. But the sidelong trip on the flip, “Singly Lost, Eternally Gained (Part One and Two)” is the moment where the Fam finally clicked with me, aggressively plowing drone fields to start and finishing off with a thumping, pagan howl of guitar and wordless panic, a dense/intense rattle that shifts into greater malevolence with each passing minute. If this was what I was missing, please, give me more. 500 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Why I’d Try LP

These guys got a mention in GQ by Steve Albini in the not-quite-infamous interview he gave at what may well be the last American All Tomorrow’s Parties earlier this year, the one where he calls out Sonic Youth for lackeying to a major label. So Grandfather gets points from their engineer for using Kickstarter to pay for their album, for being well-prepared enough to finish their record in a marathon three-day session, and for generally pointing the way as to how an independent band should operate in the post-label age. These are all good qualities, these guys should be proud, etc.; it’s a pity about their music, though. This NYC trio plays a mopey brand of slow torture attack/release rock, emotional to the core and with a preening vocalist who writes dumbfoundingly simple lyrics (try this one: “If you go down there/You can’t come back,” but with “come” enunciated like “comb”). They’re good looking guys and fit the definition of “friend rock” to a tight, deep-V tee, but there’s not a single new idea here, and the ones they carry with them are stiff with rigor mortis, the only life brought to them by Albini’s sterling touch behind the board and forward-thinking ideas about mic placement. Unless the concept of how this band exists blows you away so hard that you can overlook this bland, tired retread of all the Slint acolytes of the ‘90s, stay clear of Grandfather. 300 copies, in barely adorned, hand-stamped, numbered sleeves. (http://www.grandfathermusic.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Grave Babies
“Gouge Your Eyes Out” b/w “Traumatic Visions” 7”
(Skrot Up)

Noisy as all hell and clearly not from these parts, the B-side is Sisters of Mercy-style goth-pop hooks suffocated by tons of aural garbage. A-side is less sludgy with discernable lyrics; something that had me leaning towards its opposing side as the favorite, but the melody used in the only-so-slightly-less sparse “Gouge Your Eyes Out” is a killer, so both win. Too messy for the common rube’s idea of “minimal synth” or “coldwave” … and too catchy, for that matter, Grave Babies (one dude) will nonetheless be lumped in with the aforementioned future landfill content. That is, until this guy tries to distance this project from that brief party when the world stops caring, and that should have happened about nine months ago. (http://skrotup.blogspot.com)
(Andrew Earles)

David Grubbs & F.S. Blumm
Back to the Plants 7” EP/book

Each attempt to process a work that exists in the world of visual art always manages to steal another tiny chunk of my soul, so I will avoid commenting on the booklet that accompanies this 7”, as one flip-through reveals a near-future with the same outcome in store. F.S. Blumm joins Grubbs on this soundtrack to the booklet; a disjointed ride through fractured versions of David Grubbs circa-early ‘90s, acoustic-only Gastr Del Sol. I’ve consistently enjoyed Grubbs’ humanizing of a usually-alienating form, but this is too heavy with what I’m assuming (the booklet helps) are the avant-tendencies of his favor-receiver, who is here on 12-string acoustic to Grubbs’ 6-string. Nice packaging and good to see long-form print media coming with records, but these days, my acoustic tastes run towards something like Bill Orcutt’s living-room/cathedral run-from-the-devil sessions. (http://www.ahornfelder.de)
(Andrew Earles)

Slow Waves LP

Same old shit, guys – loud, semi-tough indie/alt-rock that’s about a step or two away in either direction from flaming dice or surfing with the alien. Almost embarrassingly out of touch. Not much else to say, except that somehow the whole thing got funded by Kickstarter, meaning that two of the worst records that have come through in this cycle are proof that people are willing to pay for the same old warmed-over bullshit after all. If the major labels aren’t around to provide it, the audience requests it on its own! It’ll be a good time when this decaying mindset dies out. (http://meltfacerecords.bandcamp.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Heavy Water Experiments
“Hermes Told Me So” b/w “The Plunge” 7”
(Intrepid Sound)

“Hermes Told Me So” combines falsetto male pop vocals with a fuzzy, busy pop backing, mildly heavy guitar/bass, electric piano and a stuttering drum beat that produces a vague, loungey sort of sound that’s fundamentally at odds with itself in an attempt to try something new. “The Plunge” takes those same sounds and irons them out a bit, coming across as something Sebadoh might have written later in their career. Half of the music wants to be on AM radio, while the other half has acknowledged a toughness of sound that can’t rightly be addressed by the former. Basically it sounds OK, but with a few elements that are a bit too “off” to make it work as anything but a pleasant, muddy time in front of the record player. It’s a lush but undefined direction they’re pointing towards, and the unctuous “industry hopeful” image they project here (lotsa buzzwords that don’t quite make sense, at least in the context of these songs; someone really oughta levy fines against misuse of terms like “deep hook-laden psych prog rock”) isn’t helping the cause too much. It seems like they’re up to something that might be worthwhile, but are forcing sonic dissimilarities and branding it as innovation, which never works. 500 copies, light blue clear vinyl. (http://heavywaterexperiments.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ichi Ni San Shi
Everything 7” EP
(Super Secret)

There are six people in this Austin, TX band and not one of them is a decent drummer? Putting a drum machine behind their combination of wide-screen pop and shambling late-’80s C86 cutesy-strum is not a decision based on “wanting to do something different” or “digging the retro beats we can get out of this $20 box” … it’s a decision based on laziness. Ultra-upfront squeaky-clean vocals and quirky instrumentation are someone’s idea of fascinating party conversation (“Hey, we found this crazy little kid’s organ on the side of the road!”) for painfully boring people. If there was a decent hook within four miles of this record, I’d be whistling an altogether different tune, but I’m so so so so so so so so sick of melody being mistaken for catchiness/hooks and records that beat my ears purple with their pointlessness. Seriously, so much energy is wasted. Do something else. Open a cat rescue or head up the development of a local greenway. A certain number of pointless records are needed to maintain balance, but we haven’t enjoyed that balance in a few years. This record is part of the problem. Make a life-shift or make a much better record next time around. 300 copies (200 black, 100 color). (http://www.supersecretrecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Pekko Käppi
Vuonna ‘86 LP
(Singing Knives)

Finnish musician Pekko Käppi plays the jouhikko, an ancient bowed lute given to a rough, deep tone somewhere below the viola but above the cello in terms of range. His recent recordings haven’t necessarily showcased the instrument so much as made attempts to work it into the context of noisy, planned-out harsh folk improv/astral projections of strange and indeterminate shape. Vuonna ‘86 continues in this path, as Käppi, a member of better-known acts Kiila and Lau Nau, reaches towards a sound that is more deeply relational, and gets there most of the time. It’s easy to get lost in the ugly textures and oddities that populate Käppi’s work, even as it begins to contradict itself (a rambling mother-tongue monologue on the final track is interrupted by the artist scolding himself, for instance). Hella bizarre and often beautiful record, though its appeal will be limited to freak/noise folk heads. (http://www.singingknivesrecords.co.uk)
(Doug Mosurock)

Kito-Mizukumi Rouber
Midori Mishi San Connichiwa 7” EP

This is how things work: Tom Lax champions a record no one would ever think to own, then puts out a single by the band that made it which is qualitatively better than the album that drove many a man mad, both from their failed attempts at ownership, and from the work they had to do to unpack what came out of the stereos if they did actually find it. Truth be told, this one flew out the door as well, and if you listen closely, you can hear the last few strands of meaningful scalp hair fall out of about three dozen maniacs’ heads. Having heard both records, I think the stress is more justified this time around; the cash outlay is less, the domestic availability should be stronger, and the end result more satisfying. Touchstones of a good Siltbreeze release: murkiness, dischord and tension are all present, these Japanese men even making some vague guitar-based concessions towards an Ohio basement sound, even if only as an acknowledgement. If you were to get some buddies and pull these songs from both sides to stretch them taut, you might even have something close to Times New Viking or Psychedelic Horseshit in terms of attack and melodic payoff, and if you were to cut a cross-section of any of these songs, you’d most certainly see a biological makeup not dissimilar to the Dead C. at their finest. Presented in their moldy, warped style, however, the weirdness factor and abrasion across tracks like “Anta No Kai” and “Nin Pi Nin Blues” sets this bizarre offering apart, transmissions from the tent cities of near outer space. And just when the record is reaching its apogee of apoplexy in the last song, it has the good sense to terminate itself mid-stroke. What a time you’ll have tracking this one down, and what a reward you’ll find inside. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

“Make-Out with Violence” DVD/The Non-Commissioned Officers
Make-Out with Violence OST LP
(Factory 25)

From Hendersonville, TN comes a group of visually/musically minded friends known as the Deagol Brothers, a collective of friends from high school and before, who use this banner as a way to bring along their friends in case any of them happen to make it in the world of indie cinema. Their ambition has been tested out through a number of short films and exercises, and with the group’s first feature film, “Make-Out with Violence,” it serves them well enough, putting this coterie first in line for the next “zombies with a twist” kind of movie, and making something more out of it by avoiding most of the traps the genre affords.

Fraternal twin brothers Patrick and Carol Darling (played, respectively, by Eric Lehning and Cody DeVos) mourn the loss of Wendy Hearst (Shellie Marie Shartzer), a classmate of theirs as well as a romantic fixation that neither of them can/will act upon. On the way home from Wendy’s memorial service, Carol and tow-headed younger brother Beetle (Brett Miller) stumble across Wendy, now very much undead and tied between two trees. They cut her down, put her in the trunk of the car, and hide her in the house they’re watching, in proxy, for happy-go-lucky friend Rody (Jordan Lehning). Over the course of the lush, hot summer, the boys run around, pretty much unsupervised, trying to put their lives back together in the wake of the tragedy and horrific discovery, and find the love they’ve put together in their heads but have yet to make a reality. Carol’s happy to provide “sleaze comfort” to Addy (Leah High), Wendy’s best friend and his unrequited, but Patrick’s amour proves to be a much more difficult connection; she lives in the bathtub, eats live rats, and moves in a state of lurching, lurid reanimation.

“Make-Out” is a touching, well-crafted success. The Deagols capture the suburban malaise of friends stuck between graduation and what comes next with a palette of green outdoors, “magic hour” luminescence, and transitions which support the action on screen. All of the actors have shown up, particularly DeVos as Carol, and Tia Shearer as next-door nebbish Anne, and the writing (fleshed out by both the leads) is sharp and elliptical, humorous in a natural way, and oddly moving despite how misguided and disgusting the roles of the two male leads are portrayed by the end. It’s a much more sensitive movie than the title or plot device implies, dealing with the childishness of young adult men, thrusting themselves into relationships and emotions which they have little control over, and using their last desperate attempts to get what they want, at the cost of those around them. It holds up to the point that the zombie aspect of the movie seems one of the least important; as we get to know the other characters, particularly through the Carol-Addy dynamic, it’s almost easier to forget about Patrick’s relationship with the corpse, as odd and unusually beautiful as the Deagols choose to render it. Factory 25 has done yet another wonderful job with the presentation of the film, the DVD loaded with extras and the sleeve design and packaging holding up a high standard of excellence. Removed from the film, the soundtrack LP by the Non-Commissioned Officers (a/k/a Eric and Jordan Lehning) has less of a chance to stand on its own, their music – originally made to help raise funds for the completion of the movie – a tepid mash of Southern alt-rock and modern panoramic indie sounds. Elements of early R.E.M. or the dB’s smash aground with Arcade Fire/Modest Mouse style angst, which is a tough sell, particularly as the group vacillates between different recognizable tropes from song to song. It’s hard to say whether it’d be anywhere near as intriguing if it weren’t attached to such an interesting film, but it’s here if you want it, and tastefully pared down from the 44 or so songs that give the movie a bit of its charm. (http://www.factorytewntyfive.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries
In the Pond one-sided 12”
(Sick Room)

Didn’t know anything about this band until maybe the day before I saw Denton’s excellent Tre Orsi, and found out this band was opening. Bob Weston (Shellac) and Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine, excellent solo career) are the rhythm section, backing guitarist Elisha Wiesner (Kahoots) in short, dashed-off, fun-to-play rock and punk songs. That’s pretty heavy talent, and for what is ostensibly a band with SIDE PROJECT stenciled on their road cases, they took it as seriously as possible, even wearing some manner of uniform when they played. The record isn’t as ornery as the band was live, but it’s still pretty great, Boston-bred noise, feelin’ it out on this record – methinks they didn’t play much or at all before making it, and as such some of the zanier moments may have to wait for the next one. Still, I like the loud, workmanlike chug of opener “Get Them Young” and the wacky zinger of “Monochrome” at the end, though one has to wonder why a band like this would stick a long, slow ballad in the middle of a short release. Small etching of a weird cartoon dog on the B-side, and the dog should be wearing sunglasses and it should say “DEAL WITH IT” underneath. Better still, get out your compass point and make it happen. (http://www.sickroomrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

(Strange Songs) In the Dark LP
(Katorga Works/Drugged Conscience)

A Brooklyn label teams up with some folks who are part of the two dozen or so people under the age of 30 in Naples, Florida – seriously if I am ever stuck down there again I am going to the address listed on this LP with some party favors in hand – to release this project, part of the post-Cult Ritual universe from how I understand it. On record, it’s a duo, moping around with great success in a fidelity-challenged, melancholy noise pop headspace, squallin’ away within reason on the guitars (which add a lot of character for what the music is trying to achieve) and writing songs that sound like they were born out of jamming, but have been given a good bit of thought as to their smeared, surface-sloppy construction. There’s a bit of “intro” and “outro” action near the beginning and end of the record that takes away some of the power that could have been channeled into stronger statements, but what lies in the middle is foolproof teen crooning a la Morrissey/Merritt in the shower, and a heavy wash of distorted guitar, synths, and drums that actually add character to the sort of longing, heartbroken mall goth in practice here. At first I wasn’t sure of how I felt about this, but as steady ideas and some quite exceptional hooks flooded each song, my mind was made up – then, by the drumless churn-curtain of riffs that pushes “What Was Left Behind” into its later minutes, I was completely sold on this Merchandise (WAKA WAKA WAKA!) It’s easy to see how something this messy-sounding and forceful with its emotional push would have its detractors, but trust me when I say that a lot of records come through here with like a tenth of the smarts and energy put into this one, and few if any have figured out how to harness that mess into something worthwhile. On those merits alone, the Merchandise album stands out – “king of the dipshits,” to quote John Hughes, and from what happened to Farmer Ted back there, that’s not the worst place to be. Great work from a band to watch, and if you’re on the fence, you can download the whole album for free from the following URL. (http://katorgaworks.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Peripherique Est
Demos, Vol. 2 7” EP
(Rob’s House)

Speedy, tinny sounding punk from Belgium. Handles well in the flats, but with a completely utilitarian design that emphasizes velocity above all, which doesn’t always make for the most exciting music. Clean, matte finish, no surprises here. Kinda wondering how desperate one would have to be for French punk to get bombed on Peripherique Est, when there are so many great examples (literally) being foisted upon this mouthpiece every month. Average, right on the line. Also broken up, it would seem. (http://www.robshouserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Summer Bummer LP
(Feeding Tube)

Distorted solo guitar banging from a guy in Pittsburgh, or maybe Ohio, with a return address in Richmond, Virginia (guess Pittsburgh got too expensive for him?) A really fine thing here, two sides of overdriven klang with melody and dried blood all over the pickguard. The guy’s name is Keith J. Varadi and I hope he didn’t have to sell his guitar and pedals to get out of town, as the late-night loner sesh trip, coming home to a dirty, cold apartment after shaving months off one’s life in one night at Gooski’s (or from the Moose or the 31st Street Pub or wherever), is nailed pretty fuggin’ well here – the shit life, as seen from just slightly above. Varadi attempts to sing at points, and while he’s certainly better at playing, the effort adds to the abstraction. Only a plodding final track seems to drag on too long and head towards formlessness. Otherwise, this is quite a find, and the artist finds a good balance between violent musicianship and a personal dissection of songcraft. Went to look this up at the label’s site, and some wiseguy from Decibel magazine, of all places, took an opportunity to jab at both Dusted and Tom Lax in his review. I don’t wanna go too much further as I have a feeling I know the guy, and if you wanna make this thing a competition, knock yourself out. I just want to give people the straight shit on these records in case they ever wanna hear them on their own. I’m not the enemy, nor the grad student level ponce you make me and my colleagues at Dusted out to be. (http://www.feedingtuberecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Regional Music LP
(Life’s Blood)

One Daniel Trudeau, of Placerville, CA, lets us know what’s up in his mind on this, apparently the fourth full-length as Pregnant. Don’t get it confused with the Brooklyn punk band of the same name we reviewed a few months back – this is a solo project of sample-based, oddball pop, where hyphy meets GarageBand, presumably. Loops of decadent world music collide with pop guitar hooks, hip-hop flavored beats, reedy, high-register male vocals and a good enough sense of arrangement to bring the proceedings above mere collage work into something personal and sincere. Not gonna appeal to everyone, but those who are attuned to the way kids have been operating lately (think Ponytail, early Animal Collective and that sort of exuberance) should be delighted to find what lies inside. 500 copies, “big bird” yellow marble vinyl, and side A plays from the inside out. (http://www.lifesblood.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

Purling Hiss
Hissteria LP

One of two new albums on deck for Mike “Scrizzi” Polizze, guitarist in Philly basement smoke monsters Birds of Maya. I enjoyed the last Purling Hiss far more than the Birds’ double LP, and Hissteria continues nicely in that path of 4-track rock scuzz destruction. Moreso than on his stellar Permanent Records debut, Polizze has gotten a good handle on several forms of rock and psychedelia – budget glam, hoarse whiskey howl, space flash guitar, carpal tunnel inducing bar room prog moves, hair metal, PCP strobing, and the common sense to extend these concepts way the fuck out. If there’s any gripe here, it’s that one vinyl LP doesn’t fully convey the massiveness instilled in these tunes, and in that sense, it’s probably time for our dude to step out of the clogged HEPA filter of sound and into a proper studio to get these sentiments down with a little more clarity. That said, the ideas expressed at the outset of this project are realized more fully here, with better songs and a much more firm sense of what to do and how to do it. It doesn’t make much sense to me that a guy with a heavy psych rock band has a side project that does almost exactly the same thing but better, and I’m sure his Birds of Maya bandmates are scratching their heads over that too. He’s gotten a heavy rep from one of the Wooden Shjips guys, and this is WAY better than their recent output or any of that Moon Duo bullshit. He’s also going out on the road with Kurt Vile all over the US next month, and the two of them together might knock you on your ass, and go through your pockets while you’re down. Get this record immediately. Verdict is still out on the Woodsist LP (well … not anymore, review coming soon at http://still-single.tumblr.com), but it has 12 songs, and apparently is even more lo-fi than this. I guess the verdict is still out on Woodsist in general, though it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to monetize musical freedom and anonymity. “Whipple Dam” is like 10 lemon drop shots followed by a big plate of nachos, a/k/a awesome times you may not remember, but will feel in your bones. Vote Richie for comptroller. (http://testostertunes.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Rebel
The Race Against Time Hots Up LP
(Junior Aspirin)

So it’s only the third Rebel LP to come past our way this year. Kinda slowing down, if you ask me … I expected way more material in 2010. Hopefully the slowdown can be attributed to “the recession” and we can expect eight full albums in the coming year. As it stands, this is a finer take on Ben Wallers’ internal monologue than the last two LPs from this outlet, which, perhaps sardonically, refers to this album as a “return to songwriting.” Is it, now? That’s explains the last two albums. Maybe it’s this race against time, but this is the best since Northern Rocks – maybe because he’s at least trying, maybe because he’s got something to write about again. Inspiration is surely missing now and again when you’re in a match with yourself to release so much material. Includes extended paeans to opiates (“J-Lo Green A1/J-Lo Green B” ties up Lopez, the color of methadone, gyros, and contempt into the sort of rant only this guy can do well anymore), a triptych of songs about mor/p/h/ine (an original instrumental, bookended by covers of Gillian Welch and Sade), and a general level of interest in the songs that’s been absent as of late. Consider yourselves fortunate to catch Wallers when he’s on. Don’t know what to expect? Think of a ricky-ticky closet studio, with guitar and Casio as the weapons and a very acerbic wit at the center, heavily influenced by the Fall and C&W muzik. To give away any more would ruin the surprise. 500 copies. (http://www.junioraspirin.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t LP

Junior varsity squad from Chicago, laying into the caked-on distorted aggression and regional polka/oompah-band rhythms, coming off like a first-thought, reverent imitation of bands like Clockcleaner or Arab on Radar. It’s one of those situations where a band tries to switch out substance with noise, and even across a short (45rpm) record it gets tiring, the endless beltsander assault blending the songs into one another with very little sticking to the wall. Running is even compared to Clockcleaner on the dust sleeve sticker, a strategy that I think is going to bite Permanent Records in the ass if they keep doing it. It’s also lazy for me to comment on it, but if a band needs to market itself as sounding like “[another band] on speed,” (only not really – at least they got the “on speed” part right), they’re getting exactly what they’re asking for. Last I checked, I can remember a bunch of Clockcleaner’s songs. 500 copies. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Secret Prostitutes
Never Mind the KBD, This is ADD LP
(Bad Hair Life)

I have a single by this band and didn’t know what the fuck to do with it. A full LP explains it all, though it’s going to seem like a joke to all but the 400 people who actually go out and buy this record. Those people are fucking badass, by the way. Anyway, here goes: Scando-style punk band located in Houston, TX, playing in the clipped, abrupt/inept style of late ‘70s bands like Rude Kids or Lost Kids. Also, all the lyrics are in an Indonesian dialect. This thing totally rips though, and it’s clear that the band (who I believe I am assuming are all Americans) have a good handle on what it is they’re doing. The simplicity and sheer headscratch of the whole enterprise makes for a fun listen, and it’s pretty great that these folks are going to confuse so many people by adding layer upon layer of abstraction onto a really basic sound, but I don’t think true punx are gonna give much of a shit, because you take a good record where you can find one these days. There’s even volume drops throughout, as some of the songs were clearly transferred over from cassette, adding to the mystery. One of these guys is in No Talk and Homopolice, so naturally the records aren’t made in quantity. Each album cover was hand-spray stenciled in different colors, and there are a few designs going around out there. Eventually the Internet is going to forget all about this band, and they will become a perplexing mystery to anyone who discovers them. Of course, those are the people who will be pulling out all their teeth and sending them to China in order to get enough cash to score copies of their records. (http://badhairliferecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Simple Circuit
“Boarded Up Houses” b/w “Moon Druggies” 7”
(Super Secret)

Fun, loose indie rock from an Austin band that probably gets a lot of opening slots, due to their sprightly, confident sound. “Boarded Up Houses” has a synth squawking all the way through it, and “Moon Druggies” provides some high-reaching chorus and a self-assured momentum required to keep this kind of effort on the right side of the line. Somewhat close to a reincarnation of Oxford Collapse’s cut-offs, flip-flops and Polos jangle, which due to its economy and casual fashion, will never go out of style. 300 copies, 100 white, 200 black. (http://www.supersecretrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sleetmute Nightmute
Night of the Long Knives LP
(Fast Weapons)

No wave’s third wave represented a sharply-rendered, combative music and art movement that originated in NYC in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, moved west to Chicago in the ‘90s, and ultimately drifted to the West Coast in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. By now it has likely drowned itself in the Pacific, but the care it was given by the proponents of its last uprising deserves attention. Portland’s Sleetmute Nightmute was a much-talked about band and a part of the last generation of kids who could learn from the ‘90s by experience rather than lecture or YouTube evidence – because, let’s face it, if you’re watching a live show from the other side of a computer, you lose all the experience of what it was like to be there, in the community of the crowd, the organizers, the kids standing outside, and all you can do is hope to emulate the document. With so many young people giving up on guitars these days, it seems like the guitars-only Sleetmute gets the last laugh, especially since this album was delayed release for over five years, the band having broken up soon after its completion, leaving behind a single and a contribution to the Kill Rock Stars’ Nightschool 7” comp. In 2003, this LP might have been one among many, but in 2010 Night of the Long Knives stands out, steamrolling the listener with the dissonance of three heavily-distorted guitars performing order and field maneuvers on the battle grid in front of blastbeat-prone drummer Charlie Mumma (now of Sissy Spacek). There’s a great deal of coordination in their general approach, an antagonism colluding with an asexual violence, the dual vocals of Alder Suttles and Lanie Fletcher shouted out in the same high register, often joining one another to strengthen their anger. There’s no soloing, no melodies here; the mathiness of their assault is balanced out by the selection of chords that crash against one another, new rhythmic patterns attacked in unison and shifting almost at random. Swans springs to mind, as does early Sonic Youth, but with the spontaneity and explosive fury of a Teenage Jesus or Theoretical Girls. As far as no wave of any generation is concerned, Sleetmue Nightmute rank among the most brutal practitioners and their lost LP is an impressive, intimidating feat. Edition of 1000 copies. (http://www.fastweapons.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Spider Bags
“Take It Easy Tonite” b/w “Shaunda (I Don’t Know My Sign)” 7”

They’re not really taking it easy by the time A-side “Take It Easy Tonite” barrels towards the run-out groove, this North Carolina garage/roots s-sw outfit bashing away at a distorted snarl of lead guitar and rambling across a two-note bassline and hollowed out drumbeat, like the Country Teasers got hold of some Hooters or Outfield and tried to weird up the latter without forsaking the central pop core of it all. More parts than most garage pop of its like are afforded, and it comes at the cost of catchiness, but the song justifies itself in the same good time sorta way as all their other singles have done so well. “Shaunda” is the ballad, a nearing last-call bar propper-upper with three guitars pulling every which way around a mournful hook and a voice of despair. It’s not hard to tell why it’s on the B-side, but I actually like that even better, when a band knows what to put on the flip. Another winner for the Spider Bags. 500 numbered copies. (http://www.churchkeyrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Smoke of My Will LP
(Modern Radio)

Minneapolitans STNNNG come from the attention-starved, post-Jesus Lizard ghetto that spawned such bands as Les Savy Fav and the Murder City Devils, bands with outsized frontmen whose crazy talkin’ delivery and/or wacky antics would’ve been better served in the career of carnival barker than in front of a band not even worthy to carry Rye Coalition’s shaving scum or the Monorchid’s tour-soiled unders. Their last album Fake Fake just made me angry, its pinball rhythm section twirling pubes behind this goofball Chris Besinger, who’s yapping about getting launched into space and his atoms disassociating, while the country falls apart under the Bush regime. As his fellow townsfolk might be heard to say to the outsiders they distrust so completely, “well, that’s one way to do it…” Surely The Smoke of My Will is another, and while a few more listens I don’t have the time to commit are probably in order, this is a band who, after years of doing the math rock knuckleshuffle, is heading back to reality with something mostly worthwhile. Besinger still sounds paranoid, and by all marks is good at what he is doing; it’s just that what he’s doing makes him the last guy at the party you’d want to be stuck talking to (wouldn’t blame you for turning it off once he starts yelling “boom-shakalaka-boom”), but for once STNNNG doesn’t play as a band that’s all about him, and their work is better off for it. This is decent guitar product for this day or any other, and the time between releases has helped them to refactor their approach and write songs worth listening to, with an unforced tension and a good divide between mechanics and virtuosity. Going through the Still Single submissions box teaches me that not everyone has tired of this line of boys’ club mentality, but I don’t feel as embarrassed by this bunch and this batch this time around. “Two Sick Friends” and “In the Hate Field” lead these guys into the sort of pressure-release formula they should have copped a long time ago. While nobody’s going to mistake these guys for the Laughing Hyenas, there’s a focus on the guitar that pulls away from the gas pains and boring sentiments they’ve chucked at us in the past. Not out of the woods yet, but the worthwhile moments are getting a little more worthwhile. (http://www.modern-radio.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Superhuman Happiness
“GMYL” b/w “The Hounds” 7”
(Electric Cowbell)

A-side is electro-pop with tons of instruments piled on top of a groove that vanishes from my mind five minutes after hearing this song eight times in a row. Oh, there’s a funk thing going on with this, too, but it’s 99 Records post-punk “funk” … not Meters or Undisputed Truth funk. The B-side is a little more memorable, and hits you upside the head with the TV on the Radio-style vocals/vocal-phrasing. Maybe SHH can find the modern-day Brill Building where TVOTR buys its songs. Maybe it’s 2005 all over again. To wrap: This 7” is for people who are so enamored with Outhud and !!! that an $4-a-day version will do (in the hook-creating dept). Comes in a plain paper sleeve that’s been stamped with the label name, plus coz’s phone # and e-mail address. Either he runs the label or is looking to jump ship… (http://www.electric-cowbell.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Times Neue Roman/Kids on TV
split 7”
(Art Metronome)

What should that spelling of “new” say to readers? It should say “WARNING: CONTAINS UNDERGROUND CANADIAN HIP-HOP!” Bragging of meeting a girl with a “Moleskin bulge in her back pocket” and name-dropping PJ Harvey, Jack Keuroac, plus numerous topically-cool “indie” entities is all too much. Can people still listen to this crap without convulsing with spiteful laughter? Is this a spoof of something that should have died out but clearly thrives in unfortunate pockets? Why is this 7” $10 retail? The sleeve is one fold-over job … it’s not a short novella. The lyrics are graciously absent. As for Kids on TV, this is a “high-disco” remix of some previously-released track by a band “so steeped in edgy audio anarchy” as the promo one-sheet states. The song’s name doesn’t matter. Expect shitty St. Etienne or any number of femme-led dance-pop outfits that have ambled down the pike into the world of terminal irrelevance. 300 copies with special “art” on the inside of the fold-over…and #1 in a vinyl-only series titled “Art Metronome.” Utterly unremarkable on all counts. (We now have four copies of this record at Still Single HQ, so that should tell you how things have gone. – Ed.) (http://artmetropole.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Total Control
“Paranoid Video” b/w “Real Estate” 7”

Third single out of this electronic arm of the Eddy Current Suppression Ring fam, and though I haven’t heard their first single, I’ll wager on this one being the best so far, if only because of the A-side. “Paranoid Video” fits right in with the frigid climes of the minimal synth revival, but does so with an ear for the music, eschewing outboard gear fetish in favor of laying down a memorable track, with bass pads that are both pillowy and sinister, and which support the entire endeavor. Skeletal in its arrangement, it does everything a good min-synth banger should. “Real Estate” slows things down to a crawl, and layers metalling clang percussion samples over a piercing lead, the same sort of deadpan vocals contributing to the dead-machine atmosphere it belches forth. For me, and many others, this genre either works or it doesn’t; Total Control has a good grasp of where to take this type of music, and the baby steps they walk, single by single, tells us that they’re willing to take the time to get it right. (http://www.smartguyrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

“Gut Reaction” b/w “Mallard” 7”

This one might have gotten lost on the way over to Alter’d P’zones, as it speaks to the sort of chILLness that they like to push over there. Regardless, I’m on board with Trailblazer, a one-man band (gtr, zynth, drum machine, vocals), single-minded in purpose and theory (two-note structure, v. repetitive), but executed with a good ear and way more interesting than such a description would imply. “Gut Reaction” starts layering the guitar early on, creating a busy haze of textures and exciting, additive chaos, until it’s turned into cataclysmic storms of feedback and distortion. The drum machine is turned up to a nice gallop, which keeps things boppin’ along in a nice goth/shoegaze pace – imagine the Cure’s “A Forest,” but maximal where that song might have crept around in the shadows. “Mallard” adds a little rinkadink organ but essentially repeats itself in the same way. Still good. It’s nice to hear this sort of thing when it’s got a little bit more energy than the average bedroom Adderall enthusiast can muster. Great record, possibly out of Lexington, KY, and one of the Hair Police fellows did the artwork, so an association with that camp seems logical. There are a lot of chances for you to take these days, in music, as always, but this one’s worth it. (http://www.moniker-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Two Bit Dezperados
Macumba para Exù 7” EP
(Shit Music for Shit People)

Kids from Brazil, Portugal and Sardinia (so sayeth their Myspace page, though I’m led to believe they all live in Brazil) step into the ring with four songs in a Euro-rootsy sort of bag, recalling a few other current acts – Movie Star Junkies and Vermillion Sands among them – in their spaghetti twang and scrappy demeanor. The similarities start to fall apart as the record goes on, as the band proves they’ve got a little more in the tank, particularly on “Eu Digo Nao,” a longer, moodier track that recalls Roky Erickson/the 13th Floor Elevators in deed and spirit. Interesting starts, and well-executed for what the band seems to want to accomplish. As with the other releases on this Portuguese/Italian label, the record comes packaged in a handsomely printed sealed envelope. Good stuff for those inclined to the world garage market. 300 copies. (http://shitmusicforshitpeople.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Blunt Instrumental one-sided 12” EP

Kudos to these jokers for somehow evoking classic Ohio-based goofing off, the Fall’s fuzzier urges and, somehow, the Minutemen without any of the latter’s precision crackle. Or maybe it’s just that you dump those ideas together and hit frappe you come out with something like this, five tracks of sub-dermal fidelity (is that racket coming from the basement or inside my own head?) that is exhibit Q or something that these guys are not, as they first seem, to be diminishing-return over-producers in the Blank Dogs mode but folks rather adept at generating an ongoing commentary on a sound they really like. This was once a tour-only tape and is now a one sider with a neato drawing on the other side. The short songs are just ducky, but my heart is with the nine-minute collapse of civilization that closes it out, one of the most clamorous Really Long Garage Songs since the Cheater Slicks’ immortal “Thinkin’ Some More.” OK, it’s not quite that, but what is? (http://www.raccoo-oo-oon.org/np)
(Joe Gross)

Prophecy of the Black Widow LP
(Not Not Fun)

Second album of Italian horror soundtrack homage from former Expo 70 bassist Matt Hill, here doing business as Umberto. This latest batch of Not Not Fun releases certainly has a real clamshell VHS bootleg feel about it, which is what tends to happen when one lifts the queasy design aesthetic off some Argento PAL tape and makes the music to follow suit. Steering away from the florid prog dexterity of early Goblin, Umberto instead opts for the synth-driven part of that group’s history (think Tenebrae or Buio Omega, not Profondo Rosso), with lots of common synth sounds and the expected atmosphere of dread, punctuated by “serious” phrasing. This review doesn’t sound too positive, but I like the record, and think many of you will find something in here to like as well. Umberto might be a few steps below Zombi, a group that quickly grew out of imitation of a Fabio Frizzi or a Jay Chattaway into taking the spirit of ‘80s horror soundtrack work and using it as a jumping off point for their own music. Those guys are also stunning musicians, and Hill’s solo outlet has no need to prove itself on that level. In that sense, this plays as much of a tribute as it does a knockoff, and barring that, it’s a fun listen, particularly the last few tracks – the suspenseful “Black Candles” leads into the aptly-titled “Someone Chasing Someone Through a House” and the pleasant coda of “Everything is Going to Be Fine” make for a strong outing, all foreboding and dread undercut by tense rhythms. Good times for all. 485 copies, out of print from the label but certainly still available in stores, and a repress is on the way. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Vampire Hands/Daughters of the Sun
Skull Judge split LP
(Modern Radio)

Vampire Hands: they’re no Vampire Belt, nor are they a Vampire Weekend, though they’re leaning hard in that direction. Jangly indie rock bereft of good ideas or finer tastes. They put up six songs to Daughters of the Sun’s one, a sidelong gamble of well-worn moods, from droney awakening to warpath drums and fuzz-wah stun abuse. Not much going for either of these groups, so unless you work with them or are family members of someone involved, this will probably pass you by with little concern. (http://www.modern-radio.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Vomit Squad
Amon Ra Bless America 12” EP
(Psychic Handshake)

King Khan, Choyce (Red Mass), Danny Marks (Spaceshits/CPC Gangbangs) and outsider singer Rich Ritalin convene to celebrate the life of Jay Reatard, the death of restaurants, and the welcoming of a cannibal age. Bordering on hilarious, this record kicks out six tracks of wild-minded, buttoned-up garage punk, Ritalin’s vocals providing the strangest touches of all. Imagine an accountant with mild manners getting in front of this train and explaining himself. It kinda rules, actually, and I hope they continue to get even more ridiculous with future releases. 1000 copies on vomit marbled vinyl, definitely warrants further investigation. (http://www.myspace.com/psychichandshake)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Wiggins
“Walk” b/w “Sick” 7”

Haven’t heard from this Houston-area songwriter since his last single on Dull Knife, and from the sound of things, he’s right back into the groove: twangy, abrasive Texan guitar ballads, laid against the cold steel of a drum machine and a dutiful reverb tank. A year or so out from the debut, these songs might not seem as special in the wake of all the similar projects that have fallen out of this side of the mailorder club/T-Bro underground, but John Read is a strong enough songwriter and stylist to point these tracks towards Hasil Adkins or Charlie Feathers rather than Woven Bones or Dum Dum Girls. And for now, that’ll do. This copy right here is the limited edition, on blue vinyl and with a full-color, two-sided foldout poster and a pocket sleeve. (http://www.needlessrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

She Walks the Night 7” EP

It looks like a one-man USBM 7”, alright, but the elitist fans of that terminally limited boys club will be giving this one the cold shoulder in no time. Sure, some of those records are pretty challenged when it comes to dynamics, but there’s usually a drum-kit nearby and an egomaniacal cobweb-crotch to sit behind it, who will likely fail at delivering what the chosen genre demands. This … this is a drone record, and not the type of drone that happens when drums are barely played and mixed super-low into the sub-cardboard box realm. Yep, befitting the cover art and, I guess, the band’s logo, it’s a pretty dark strain of drone, but drone nonetheless, especially the A-side’r, “She Walks the Night.” Percussion-less, and with instrumentation of unknown type (probably some kind of keys), the Goth-literate tone is suitably creepy and not at all cheapened by the cheapest chill-tactic of them all: Wilt greets listeners within a few seconds is a public-domain recording of a wolf howling. Thankfully, it only happens once. Assisting the creep-out factor is the regular sound of what could be a woman walking, with heels on, over a concrete floor. Whether or not this is occurring at night is anyone’s guess. Or it could be the sound of someone disassembling and reassembling a rifle……or rummaging through the family’s token “junk” drawer in the kitchen. On the flip we get two more tracks, and both work a lot better than the A-side. It should be mentioned that this is in fact a single-person affair (James P. Keeler), and considering I’ve heard much less and much more mediocre crap credited to full bands, Mr. Keeler deserves the attention of those who gobble up Coil, Current 93, Mortiis, and jailhouse-era Burzum. He is joined by a guest on “Cold Grave,” and I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that those noises came from a human’s mouth. On “Haunting the Chapel” (if this is the Slayer song, someone needs to win 2010’s Best Deconstructionist award), an ominous bass-line moves the guitar and Wolf Eyes-ish “folding table of noise” along at a crawl, and I’m left patting myself on the back for scrapping the habit of hitting the diggity-dank right before bedtime. Husk Records hails from middle-of-nowhere Kentucky and this is its 28th release. Kudos. (http://huskrecords.blogspot.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Woodsy Pride
s/t 12” EP
(All Hands Electric)

Five songs of kinda drowsy, noble, stern, slightly depressive roots/country rock. So straight-laced and by-the-book that it’s not going to provide much enjoyment beyond the No Depression crowd, if such a thing still exists. I mean, it’s gotta exist, right? Well-played, somewhat stormy, just not much to hold onto for people not enamored with the genre. (http://www.allhandselectric.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Young Governor
“Call Me When the Cat Dies” b/w “Fade Away” 7”
(Criminal IQ)

This gentleman’s current day job (in the not-so-witty parlance of music journalism when profiling side projects) is that of Fucked Up’s third guitarist and back-up vocalist. I’m naturally adverse to the practice of backlash, as it showcases an individual’s ignorance towards the target of criticism, not to mention a tendency towards predictable behavior. I know way too many people that dislike musical entities based on some really fucking flimsy reasoning. An unwitting byproduct of Fucked Up’s larger-than-life reputation, one that precedes the band by an insurmountable distance (making thematic defense very hard for the creative minds behind the band), is that it nurtures the type of mouthy, do-nothing, talentless, low-rent human irritant that talks shit on bands that he or she hasn’t even heard. These types should be thrown in a great big ditch and dispatched via a variety of painful methods. I take great pains to know what I’m criticizing when it comes time to lay down some caustic slice ‘n’ dice, but I am certainly not here to do anything like that to Fucked Up, who I tardily came to realize are a special and important band for our times, or the outings of Young Governor, which have mostly ripped nicely. “Call Me When the Cat Dies” made me immediately think of the late Jay Reatard circa Blood Visions, when the pop and fury were in perfect balance. Not only that, but there’s a certain poignancy in basing a song’s thematic content on that one unfortunate event that unanimously results in contact between two bitter exes. Having just recently watched one of my own felines (the 15-year-old part-Ragdoll that I raised from a kitten) return from looking the eternal dirt nap right in the face, it took me a while before I could even look at the cover of this single, featuring young Mr. Cook holding what I believe is a full-blooded Ragdoll. There’s that intangible audio feel of someone who has conquered the art of home-recording, as well as the playing of all of the instruments and sounding like a band rather than a guitar player who has a barely-workable grasp of the other instruments. My only complaint is that the reverb-happy agenda and particular use of distortion (on everything) both serve to historically-stamp this 7” with a great big “2010”. B-side is solid but a little less perfect than the pet sentiment that precedes it. Can’t see there being a ton of these pressed up, so … (http://criminaliq.bigcartel.com)
(Andrew Earles)

s/t 7” EP

Recent sounds from a very strong NYC duo. Guitar and drums, heavy effects on both when prudent, which pushes some kinda of the moment rote-n-beachy moments into the traffic of serious, locked-down industrial pummel and well-organized noise/scrape guitar. I guess for the Brooklyn hood which they rep, they probably need some sort of familiar element to rope in the kids, but once they get them, it’s nothing but aggravated assault all the way. Four songs, and the record gets better as it goes on, YVETTE effectively letting loose of comfort early on and plunging into danger. They do that contact mic on the drums thing that This Heat worked out in “24 Track Loop” and it only adds to the general ‘tude of buttoned up psychotic churn they work out on tracks like “With Fangs.” They can only get better with this sort of mindset powering them, but this audacious debut deserves attention. 350 handsome, numbered copies in silkscreened sleeves. (http://www.myspace.com/yvetteyvetteyvette)
(Doug Mosurock)

Zombie Dogs
s/t LP
(Strength in Numbers)

Eleven blasts of lady-built feminist skatecore for women and supportive dudes who like to thrash and respect the world around them and one other. I am so happy that bands like this exist: happy that they have both a message and fun to deliver, happy that they kinda remind me of an awesome old Ohio band called Pet UFO, happy that they have songs about being smart (“Three point one four/Nerd in the pit/It’s you!”), growing up weird, dealing with life’s obstacles and fighting back, happy that they embrace hardcore as a valid tool of expression and not a stylized, elitist tool of historical re-enactment. I’m even happier that they’re based out of Brooklyn, who could use more bands like them. There’s real anger in these songs, but they’re also catchy and enjoyable, and neither side cedes their power to each other. The record flies past at 45rpm and beckons you to play it again and again. I think I shall! 350 copies, silkscreened sleeves, what are you waiting for? (http://www.strengthin123.com)
(Doug Mosurock)


Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) pressed on any size of vinyl. We 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.

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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