Dusted Features

Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 2

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This week, Mosurock and Co. evaluate sides from Sore Eros, Lords of Falconry and Clockcleaner.

Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 2

Memories in Widescreen 2xLP picture disk

Pretty cool tense/rainy/techno-melancholic ambient drone record from a guy in the UK. Kinda like that Bieber time-extended thing occasionally cross-pollinated with vocal house … kidding, this is a fine effort of tasteful, beautiful sunrise meditations for your chemical comedown, definitely with a more than large nod to club electronic music as it existed in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Melodies repeat on looooooong loops and the whole thing is stretched out to Stars of the Lid levels of slow-motion bliss. It’s refreshing and feelings-provoking, like what that “wet room” at Love would have been like without the ravages of time and the fight against water-borne bacteria, or the indoor-outdoor carpeting. Images of colored fluids splashing grace all four sides of this monster, and while one wouldn’t usually think to put something quiet and susceptible to surface noise on a picture disk, these don’t sound half bad. A great record, if not necessarily groundbreaking; it’s got character, and when your primary goal is to elicit an emotion within someone who is immobile on a sofa, that’s more than enough. 250 numbered copies, the first 50 of which (now gone) came with a CD-R called Bass Communion, which I for one would really like to hear. (http://www.3six.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Art Abscons
Der Verborgene Gott LP
(Blind Prophet)

German neo-folk that’s absolutely crazy in its pursuit of earth-bound paradise on its own terms. Total Ren Faire/Medieval Times parking lot status achieved at several points throughout this LP, against gentler pagan folk-goth, all with breathy Deutsche lyrics and the sort of synth-“Wicker Man”/Kate Bush mindset that is hard to take seriously at points, but very hard to shake at others. The band sounds dead serious, even in moments of melodic whimsy, and that’s really all you can hope for: that the musicians believe in this craft. Beautiful gatefold sleeve with embossed lettering completes the twisted package. Numbered edition of 500. (http://www.blindprophetrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

James Arthur’s Manhunt
s/t LP

Scummy, leering garage/noise rock from Austin, TX that’s found a home on the Australian label run by members of Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Don’t those guys have bands like this back home? James Arthur’s Manhunt kicks up noise in spades, evoking the NYC garage contingent (Pussy Galore, Chrome Cranks, Honeymoon Killers) … which is fine, if they had much to add to it on their own, which really they don’t. For certain foul moods, this might be all you want, but for everyone else, this is more of a soundtrack for getting BBQ sauce mashed and matted into your mutton chops. Somehow there’s a Simply Saucer cover in here. Yeah, I couldn’t tell either. (http://aarghtrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The End of Things 12” EP
(Drag City)

One of two earlier efforts by New Zealander Annabel Alpers, before her quasi-breakthrough My Electric Family for Drag City. She clearly comes from the Xpressway tradition and has a background in the ‘90s scene, as a member of Space Dust, just before the lights went out down there. This is some of the earliest Bachelorette music, and though it still contains more electronics and vocal treatments than just about all of her sonic/countryperson forebearers combined, there is still a good, strong heart of downer folk and loner misery on hand that keeps this music connected to history. I was especially moved by the death march of “Pebbles and Dirt,” guitar tracks moving forwards and backwards among lightly auto-tuned vocals, and the sad computer shutdown of the Cat Power-esque “On the Four.” If Bachelorette’s later material was too technologically alien for you, and you were looking for something with the same murk as, say, Sandra Bell, snap this one up. (http://www.dragcity.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

I Feel Like Sleeping 12” EP
(Columbus Discount)

You gotta respect the Bassholes no matter what. Two fine covers (Mickey Jupp’s “I Feel Like Sleeping” being the nicest thing here original or otherwise, some of the edge taken off and the appropriate amount of studio help, like backing vocals, make it work), and two stompin’ originals on the flip. Raw rock ‘n’ roll from Don Howland and company. Part of the CDR singles club so I don’t know how available it is, but if you’re a fan, you gotta get it. (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Root LP

Already scarce reissue of some brawny neo-folk/noise from Australian madmen Beastianity. Originally released in 1999, the group’s Root album draws its lines with a scalpel, a mean, parched, and maniacal demeanor to hasten the apocalypse, by way of chanting slow torturous phrases across all manners of static and interference, finding beauty in the many dirges that cut through their material and reveling in some near-metallic sentiments in the title track. My experience with this genre tells me that there are more and less interesting paths to take, and Beastianity is definitely with the former, never fully committing to one sound but content to cause disturbances across a number of approaches. Nothing wrong here, just some realistically dark approximations of tomorrow, set to praiseworthy sounds that tune into the frequency of the destruction. I’ll bet hearing this while Y2K was still a hot issue would have been terrifying, but since then we’ve lived through eight years of GW Bush, wars we’ll never win (or end), an unbelievable amount of sea ice lost for good, and hundreds of thousands of tiny little collapses in the order of our lives all over the world, so, like, pass the salt, fill that pelican’s beak with cement and see if it says “it’s a living!” 300 numbered copies. (http://www.daisrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Cairo Gang
Holy Clover 7” EP
(Tin Angel/Empty Cellar)

I am terminally averse to unicorn imagery. Same goes for zombies, pirates, ninjas, Chuck Norris, future-kitsch, synthesizers, beach-bum nu-gaze soft-rock appropriations, and the photo-collage movement. This EP sports a crude watercolor of a bearded centaur – with arms (they don’t have arms, my dawgs) – holding the freshly-severed head of a Viking or a minotaur … can’t tell. Unicorns are mentioned because the first 20 or 30 time this 7” was shuffled over or past, I’ve thought to myself (or out loud) “this record better shape-shift into $1000, contain a map to a buried $1000, or contain photos of my girlfriend’s boss having his kneecaps shattered by ex-cons … cuz NO ONE can get away with unicorn imagery … NO ONE” as another record was chosen for review. Apparently my medication has done nothing to offset my ADHD.

Well, this record is nothing less than transporting genius wrapped up in a shell that is at once familiar on two levels and foreign on another. I’ll get the gripe out of the way: Only one track (the second one on an unknown side…half-point deducted for carrying over one of the ‘90s worst trends … no information on the labels) sounds like it was created by four people, and four people are credited as The Cairo Gang. But each of the four songs occupies that very special, very exclusive place that is growing smaller by the year. I refer to the world of fidelity-challenged psych-damaged folk/singer-songwriter/pop-lite that just so happens to be devastatingly perfect. There’s a direct injection of ‘70s Afternoon Rock (acoustic-based… America, Bread, Poco, etc) and The Numero Group’s Wayfaring Strangers comp as well as everything that made Ariel Pink’s Doldrums so effective minus everything that didn’t (forced obtuseness, calculatedly shitty recording techniques). Though my 80-year-old aunt might fail the blindfolded taste-test, this feels nothing like what’s emanating from the latest Slumericana movement. Now, it should be stated that this is indeed what some would consider piss-poor production, and there’s too much reverb (yaaaaaaaaawn), but the songwriting is otherworldly. At the end of the day, do I really need to clarify what matters? (http://www.endlessnest.com/empty_cellar)
(Andrew Earles)

Nevermind LP
(Fan Death)

For reference I’ll point you to this review, as my opinion on Nevermind hasn’t really changed. Some have said that the main reason Clockcleaner broke up was that they were tired of their fans, the people who were inspired by this competent, interesting record of theirs and had to come out to see them play, in their new pair of O.G. WildMans, the guys who spilled your drink and needed to be forcibly ejected from the bar.

It’s acceptable to do a “j.o. hand motion” in time to “Blood Driver” during the sax solo.

Richard Charles is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and perhaps was this band’s greatest asset after all.

The vinyl edition sounds way better than the CD did. It’s like the ceiling’s been cut off and there’s a lot more presence in the bass.

I still like it better than the records that followed, though the Gothcleaner 12” nearly edges it out. I don’t have any more thoughts about this record, but maybe some comments. After Nevermind people tried to take it over the top with their own bands. They’re all louder and noisier and more “sick” but really, are you gonna take Francis Harold & the Holograms over this? (http://www.fandeathrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ami Dang
Hukam LP

Sitarist and vocalist Ami Dang harnesses the power of Wham City with actual musical ability and thoughts on proper presentation, with a Loopstation or some such gear and a heightened awareness of how to write and play off oneself. The basis of these tracks is predominantly Indian in origin, but Ms. Dang strings these sounds together into the flux of the present, swirling around and building off of themselves into the rare space between Kate Bush and Zola Jesus. Impressive and powerful work. (http://ehserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dangerous Boys Club
Vril LP
(Fast Weapons)

Check the lineup here: Mac Mann (Antioch Arrow, Get Hustle), Aaron Montaigne (Antioch Arrow, Tarot Bolero), Mark Burden (Silentist, Miracles Club), Sam Ott (Year Future, Fucking Angels) and Kaetlin Kennedy (cymbal hitter, also someone who took a “Which Twin Peaks Character Are You?” quiz on Facebook). Four out of five oughta tell you where we’re going, and the Anger-inspired artwork should hint as to how we’re getting there. From the very first cut “Future Sex,” the DBC sorta sounds identical to the band Babel, who did the song – yeah, just the one – from the film “Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf,” this sort of slinking, overly-dramatic goth-synth processional that blew up around the mid ‘80s and stayed put there. Lots of synths, maybe a bass, plenty of makeup and drums courtesy of a machine. This music is pure, the intention sincere, but its maudlin, cosplay-ish demeanor threatens to shut out all but the most devoted to the night. Also I wish some of the songs got to where they are going a bit faster. Not bad, though, and a logical continuation to a good number of projects that always felt out of joint with the times they were born in. (http://www.fastweapons.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Daylight Robbery
Through the Confusion LP

Listening to a band like Daylight Robbery makes me weary of the task at hand, and also think of what something like their band, throwbackish and thin, could be, versus what it actually is. Their twangy John and Exene hopscotching around a jangly/downwardly-mobile last gasp LA punk sound has merit, and is probably fun in the live setting, but the doldrums lingering over this LP only serve to remind that the punk scenes of lots of cities aren’t necessarily being restocked on this go-round with the youth of today, many of whom have found solace within their own generation’s sounds. So you have a punk band that is turning its sociopolitical gaze on the issues of outwardly responsible, 30/40somethings (songs about how the poor construction of the building you live in gives you unfettered access to the equally poor conditions of how your neighbors raise their baby, the public’s indifference towards murder, the waste of nights spent at the bar). Which is fine, and valid, except … I dunno, you get to a certain age and these songs sound like your parents telling you to straighten up, and you’ve heard it already. There’s no apathy here, except in the presentation – another flat Chicago recording – but there’s not much excitement either. The sound of Chicago sputtering away, its often punishing environment, the overgrown corn-fed fratboy/i-banker/Mercantile Exchange employee stereotype, the lack of options (career and otherwise), the stagnation of influence, and the unease of its sprawl wearing down on those who just want to live and love and enjoy what the world has to offer. (http://www.residue-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Detective Instinct
“Repeat Please” b/w “More Miles” 7”
“Cat Eye Light” b/w “Healthy Eyes” 7”
“2-2-3 Fridges” b/w “Rid” 7”
“Last Tango in Aberystwyth” b/w “Beachy Head” 7”
(Sick Room)

Detective Instinct is a gentleman from the UK who has been dabbling in field recordings, found sounds, tape loops and general ambient detritus on his 4-track for so long that he has been a guest of some pretty established names (in the world I occupy, and likely you as well). This is #1 of an ongoing series of tape-trading exercises with some of his heroes and colleagues, and it happens to be of Country Teasers origin. The tables are turned on these first four singles, with each guest contributing vocals over D.I.’s sound collages, and this first outing in particular sounds like Billy Childish in a blackout, trying to cop a Burroughs feel over audible garbage that has at least been arranged in some cohesive fashion.

Mike Watt brings the thunderstick, ‘natch, to this party on the second single, though his gruff and grizzled chit-chat is unmistakable. That’s the thing about Watt these days … he’s as accommodating as ever (I interviewed him countless times over the last three years for a personal project) yet he has to get warmed up first. He arrived to this already warmed up. Mike … stayin’ busy.

Does anyone remember that (real or crank?) phone call that showed up on a Turbonegro record from about ten years back … when someone in the band impersonates the head dawg in Crass? Well, single #3 sounds nothing like it, though the call did come to mind and as unfunny as it is in reality, I couldn’t help but giggle to myself for a split second. When I giggle to myself, it is not an invitation for another party to ask, “What’s so funny?” If I wanted you to know, I’d tell you. The audible evidence of my brain at work is not an automatic cue to interrupt my moment with mirth. If you are at all familiar with G.W. Sok’s work with the Ex, slow it down and image something of interest that only one gender of human will be digging on.

Single #4, and I’m in Oli Hefferman’s corner. None of these 7”s are particularly musical, yet none of them give me that “All I need is one afternoon and I could make this record” feel, either. The only two things I know about the Bobby McGee’s, the band from which this gentleman guest originates, is that they are a GWAR or G.G. Allin for the twee set and they appear to be ukulele enthusiasts. The uke trend is one that needs to die. It’s like the scooter trend. Keep your fucking toys in the yard. Get a real guitar/motorcycle. That being said, this 7” is pretty funny. I’ll leave it at that. A closing word about Mr. Hefferman: These four 7”s have since been followed by collaborations with Trumans Water and The Radar Bros, so Oli is firmly ON THE LEVEL and worth your attention. (http://www.sickroomrecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Before the March 7” EP
(Tona Serenad)

Understated fairground melancholy, not unlike some of the more drug-smashed passages on The Thinking Fellers’ Mother of All Saints – the stuff that wasn’t “Feller Filler” but wasn’t quite fully realized, either. That’s not entirely fair to this record, actually, as this is very beautiful and organic instrumental … pop? Could be skiffle, with its lack of modern reference points, but I don’t normally take to anything resembling skiffle, or any pre-Vietnam War music at all, truthfully. This is a chunk out of Two Years Today, the latest full length by multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Palmer, who last popped up seven years ago on Geographic/Domino with Redemptive Strikes. It’s a very human-sounding effort, very catchy if not altogether beautiful, and quite scarce at 300 hand-numbered copies, so if you’re interested, hop to it! (http://www.tonaserenad.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Electric Crush
Dropouts in a Drug Haze 12” EP
(Black Gladiator/Slovenly)

Weird release here from a sub-label of the garage/punk based Slovenly imprint. This was a one-man band around in Vegas circa 1999-2000. One of his demo tapes is reissued here (first side only, guess side 2 was S.O.L. huh) and we find a guy who’s got some weird breakbeat/Black Keys of Smut vibe going on the first and last songs, with only “Clock Stands Still” coming close to the spaced-out, acid fried blues of the record from which it shamelessly borrows a cover. Mr. Crush’s rapping at the end of this (yeah he raps) sounds like Joaquin Phoenix, and is definitely a selling point. But New Kingdom it’s not. The other one, opener “I Couldn’t Hear It,” reminds me too much of MC 900 Ft. Jesus for me to hang. The rest are pretty loaded, trebly punk, with Mr. Crush screaming hoarse, like Lemmy getting a colonoscopy. I’d hazard a guess that all the gear used to make this record was pawned long ago, so, like, no reunion possible man. I can see why Bazooka Joe reissued this, and it’s occasionally pretty cool, but probably way, way too much for most people to deal with. If you’re a garage maniac, have flames embroidered on your shirt, etc., I don’t know, you folk will probably enjoy it more. Best of luck to this guy, wherever he is. (http://www.slovenly.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ensemble Economique
Psychical LP
(Not Not Fun)

Sharply off from his Amish Records effort from last year, this new Ensemble Economique shares a release date and audio/visual spirit with the Umberto record on Not Not Fun. Though there is a bit more theory going on in the world of E.E., you may want to consider both of these works as two sides of the same coin, as they explore the seedier side of straight-to-video horror soundtracks, where creepy synth drone meets Andy Garcia-style bongo hits and chanting voices delayed in the background. Close enough in spirit to the score of Mike Figgis’ Internal Affairs that I had to check myself for a bit. Tom Carter of Charalambides guest stars. Great artwork. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Estrogen Highs
Friends & Relatives LP

Took a break from these guys for a while due to their shriller-not-thriller take on practice space garage rock, high on piercing noise but short on worthwhile songs. Friends & Relatives shows a considerable amount of development in however long it’s been, an affable and strummy collection that flirts with thoughtful improvisation and a warmth I didn’t think this group could summon. My colleague Andrew Earles bemoans the creeping influence of New Zealand pop in modern music, particularly on the garage-rock axis, which is where Estrogen Highs is known to reside. I can’t really fault this development – it sounds like these guys really got into the Chills, the Bats, the Clean and the Verlaines in the ensuing time between releases, and it’s made a mark on their stance and songwriting, but I cannot find fault in such a development; if you’re going to learn from something, why not some of the most humane and inspiring pop music of our times? Furthermore, the work accomplished here shows a band that’s truly digested said influences and worked them into their vernacular. The one wonderful thing about Kiwi pop on that axis is that it’s incredibly hard to duplicate verbatim, even intentionally. Hell, the Clean doesn’t even sound like the Clean until halfway into the set. Besides, anything taken too literally is usually off the mark as well. What a band like Estrogen Highs does is the product of a state of mind, and it’s a good one at that. Great turnaround from this Connecticut crew. Paste-on sleeve. (http://grameryrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dylan Ettinger & the Heat
“Smokin’” b/w “Miami Heat (The Stakeout)” 7”
(Not Not Fun)

Sleeve has clipart pics of a Strat and in the foreground, a Keytar-type of strap-on synth. The background is very “Tron”-ish. The band is a duo of drums and effects-buried saxophone. The visuals on the back are of an ‘80s-looking rack stereo system, a faded-in image of an ‘80s-looking lady that one might find adorning the walls of an old-lady salon, and the background is a vague appropriation of the ocean. Check out those song titles. This shit is not funny, and it is beyond played-out, putting it in an untouchable zone (forever, hopefully). What’s this got to do with how the record sounds? Well, a lack of imagination this dire is bound to bleed into the music, or subtract from the music, to be correct. Right? Hard to say when the music is form-challenged, ambient half-skronk indistinguishable from bales of ‘90s noise records made by 400-lb vagina-repellents who have probably killed another human by this point. Hey, someone had to fill the weeping void. NOT! (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Fergus & Geronimo
“Never Satisfied” b/w “Turning Blue” 7”
(Hardly Art)

So two cool breezes named Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly (“Fergus” and “Geronimo” respectively) come home from the thrift shop one day with the 1982 children’s record known as The Amazing Adventures of Pac-Man. They brief their roommates (not to mention everyone that came over later that night for an impromptu party) on the boundless hilarity of this $0.25 find, eventually finding the song “Turning Blue” … hidden deep within the part of the album no one was ever supposed to hear. But see, I made all of that up. “Turning Blue” isn’t even on The Amazing Adventures of Pac-Man, unless they fat-fingered the title of “I Hate Fruit Blues” or the 31-year-old novelty album has an incorrect track listing. Thing is, “Never Satisfied” is indistinguishable from childrens’ music made by a probably unmarried couple who probably used to host a show that probably ran on a local PBS-affiliate over the summer and holidays. Lucky for someone else, Fergus and Geronimo also have a full-length out, too. Look for it in the Just Cuz or Why Not? sections, or just follow those two guys wearing flip-flops and talking way too loud about what they’re into. (http://www.hardlyart.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth
The Seed of Contempt LP
(Feeding Tube)

Danny Cruz is wheelchair-bound, and his pictured drummer is afflicted with Down’s Syndrome. This is about as outsider as music gets, a passion that will simply not die – shattering practice-space rock, piano balladry, and utter freakouts are all you get here. One of the more in-your-face type records ever to walk through these doors, for sure. I hope you can handle it, because this is some of the purest musical expression you or I will ever experience. (http://www.feedingtuberecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 12” EP
(Sacred Bones)

Do you like “Mother Sky” by Can? SO DO THESE GUYS AMIRITE?! Part of a Chilean import program by Sacred Bones, who provide me with not so many of their releases anymore, or maybe just the wrong ones … I’m just not so sure what people saw in this one to warrant licensing it for American release. One side is a straight paean to Can, the other side starts off like the music from “The Doors” movie where they’re in the desert and Drama is talking about how he hates his father and then all of a sudden they’re at the Whiskey performing “The End.” Föllakzoid (hold your tongue and say “Fall Out Boy”) saves us the pain of the “Father, I want to kill you” part, or any Apocalypse Now imagery, but replaces them with the concept of musicians who have gotten good enough to learn how to jam together and make it work in known, repeatable ways. It’s long, it’s repetitive, it’s music very similar to something you probably have in your possession. And like Clockcleaner’s Nevermind, it too ends with a nod to Tuxedomoon. How thoughtful. Look, I want to love every record that comes in here, but bands/labels have gotta start meeting us halfway – maybe not do something so familiar that’s been done (and better) by hundreds of bands, though really only two of those hundreds matter. Which is the problem. It’s probably pretty cool to meet Chileans though. I can’t fault the Bonz Brigade. I just can’t support this. (http://www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Followed By Static
“Smiles” b/w “Bones”
Followed By Static/Bonni Bonita
split 7”
(Bombay Cove)

Damn, it’s like Austin, TX sat back and thought, “You know, there was all that talk in the ‘90s about us becoming the next whatever-city, but did we ever actually BECOME it? Hard to say…well, just in case, let’s go ahead and do that shit. Better late than never!” Perhaps there’s something down there that prevents the dipshit-threshold from being reached (I’m sure the locals would disagree with me), but I don’t leave the fucking house anymore and I’m going to Austin TWICE in the next six months. Followed By Static were awarded a spot at the bottom of the pile due to their name, though I have no idea what exactly bugs me about it. Remember when mid-period Sonic Youth came up behind you with something so great it sounded like some new, inspired gaggle of geniuses who wouldn’t be around for more than one LP? Think “Waist” or the entirety of Thurston’s Psychic Hearts album. That’s “Smiles” … side A. Side B is rave-up until it’s a freak-out and sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before … not in a bad way, but not so amazing I’m thinking about it while other music plays. The A side is a keeper, though, in case I need to spell it out.

FBS’s side of the split is excellent pub rock for the Comments Section Generation, with the swagger and confidence of three people who are together for a reason, maybe even a, hold it, VISION. Everyone’s going to be falling all over themselves for this band within a year or two, if they stay the course. It’s fairly accessible, therefore susceptible to sucking if taken a few degrees in the wrong direction, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen, either. They don’t do it for me like Dimples, The Young, Tre Orsi, 2, Gold Bears, or Lay Down Mains do (to name some recent rock examples that don’t skirt the noise threshold), but the potential here is upside-the-head slapping. The other side is about cookies or the cookie monster, literally, via three girls and one guy who are named after a racehorse and seem to have a cleavage agenda. “A cleavage agenda” I just wrote … anyway, expect this to sound like more good-times garage-pop that the one-sheet tags as “Garage Doo-Wop” and that validates a fear I’ve had for a year, maybe two … the fear of that term becoming a reality. (http://www.sundaerecords.com) (http://www.bombaycove.com)
(Andrew Earles)

French Quarter
It’s Not Just Kissing LP
(Gilgongo/Life’s Blood)

The first French Quarter LP has been my favorite release on the wild-pitch Gilgongo label since it began. I think I get where the guy is coming from, though, and it’s always good to see the work of a guy who’s doing exactly what he wants and thinks is right. This one is all over the place, with lots more treatment and embellishment than his stark debut, but focusing on the capture of the right mood. Opener “You Are Dead” is the best use of the Woods falsetto-and-no-more-tears sound I’ve heard yet, bringing it down to a humble, high-neck guitar melody and just enough barely-there, sensitive performance to rank in line with the late Elliott Smith. The addition of drum machine, bass and effects to many of these songs aim directly at an AM gold mindset, mostly to strong effect – there might be a bit too much actually going on in some of these tracks for a person with a lot of natural songwriting ability to require, but when it works, on the Christine McVie-like “I Really Want To Be Your Friend,” is utterly sublime, and the highlight on a record that displays a real talent in a mode of development. What comes out of the other side of this one should be astounding. This one is “Dedicated to Arthur Russell, Joel Hodgson and Jessica Tyler” – interesting company indeed. (http://www.gilgongorecords.com) (http://www.lifesblood.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

Futura Black LP
(We Made Records)

Originally a CD-R scattered around in tiny numbers during the last decade’s earlier years, Future Black is the ultimate latter-wave shoegaze interpretation and must be heard by more people. We Made Records is a brand new label run by a fellow named Vince who used to do Manifold Records (K.K. Null, Final, D.J. Spooky, etc) in the ‘90s and up through Y2K. Even in this privacy-is-golden era, you try doing all of this out of Memphis, TN, and you’ll staring at the void whether you want to or not. Guitaro is/was essentially a Canadian studio wizard named Mark Weibe and his buddies, and the difference between this and 98% of “Comments Section” Shoegaze is substantial. For one, this doesn’t exist in contrast to logic. New, young bands should not sound identical to Ride, MBV, etc, but they do. New, young bands even sink lower by sounding identical to Spacemen 3 and JAMC, implying a 100% lack of topically adding signature elements within their respective soundspaces. Most are seemingly unaware they are peddling warmed-up leftovers long past the toss-date. Guitaro could have gotten away with this in 2001, but we’re not dealing with idiotic art-college assholes, so there was a natural instinct to be wary of history and shoot for furthering the style rather than picking it clean. The first track sounds like Hidden Hand doing shoegaze with a guest vocalist. Thick, heavy, riff-oriented and pushed by a hooky groove, that one is clearly sequenced first for a reason. So is the first track on side 2 (there is no CD release of this), a mannered take on Slowdive, if Slowdive was ever all it was cracked up to be (it wasn’t). Lots of acoustic-to-noise-and-back-to-acoustic action on here, just like golden-era Boo Radleys. If this doesn’t sell out of its first pressing of 600 (on 180 gr w/ DL card) within a year, I should just give the fuck up. (http://wemaderecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Gala Drop
Overcoat Heat 12” EP
(Golf Channel)

Dance music/jazz fusion sounds from Portugal, the likes of which bring back all the good and not-so-good memories of groups like Tortoise all at once. The level of musicianship on display here is quite impressive, the group expertly navigating bass, guitar, synth and drums in complex, polyrhythmic patterns that come across as natural and unforced. Some of the songs don’t develop beyond the establishment of these patterns, like the opening track “Drop,” a scurry up the kalimba tree that ultimately affords a better view of, like, the roof of a Best Buy. It’s when the electronic element is better incorporated, such as on the house-oriented “Rauze” and the title track, that Gala Drop picks up the requisite heat needed to get things moving past an ornately-curated, early evening Harvey dancefloor sorta ambiance. This EP follows a self-released full-length, as well as a one-stop US appearance last fall opening for Panda Bear in Brooklyn, and hopefully will see the group’s formidable talents applied to uncharted grounds. New on the Golf Channel label, founded by Phil South of the incomparable No Ordinary Monkey party in NYC. (http://golfchannelrecordings.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Harold Honey
s/t LP

Hard luck Nick Cave/Tom Waits acolyte who at least has the good sense to aim towards loud rock, even if it is done through completely over-dramatic sensibilities. Harold Honey seems like one among many in Los Angeles, and is a far better guitarist than a vocalist – at least his band can get its fur up on most of this record, slamming it out in tried/true bar-rock/three-chord fashion. That alone gives this one a pass. If it were just Mr. Honey alone with a guitar I’d advise that you run far away. Right now, though, we have a quality, opening-strength band working through some OK original material. Nothing wrong with that. (http://www.haroldhoney.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Heaven’s Jail/The Living
split 7”
(Heart Break Beat)

Heaven’s Jail is named after a song by the Italian institution known as Bulldozer, or at least the single from Bulldozer’s 1987 album is called “Heaven’s Jail” and there’s a great video for it. But the music on this record, and this goes for both bands, has nothing to do with metal of any type. (Now d/b/a The Heaven’s Jail Band. -Ed.) No, this exists clear on the other end of both the sonic and sublime-to-suck spectrums. Did you know there’s yet another Americana movement at hand? This time, the emphasis is on stringed instruments of the very short-scale species and, of course, an extra 5 – 10 large, male band members to play the surplus mandolins, ukuleles, fiddles, and banjos. Put on this single and you can almost see and smell the coal mines, hearty country breakfasts, lush hillsides, abject rural poverty, weekend flea markets, paper mills, farm foreclosures, low crop yields, beer-only clapboard bars, farmer’s markets, fishing rodeos, and freshly-cut fields of ……… Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I don’t care where you grew up or where the band or former band might have cut their teeth, I am still working on a curse that suddenly fills each of the nation’s mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, and fiddles with a full-blown bedbug epidemic. (Andrew Earles)

The Holydrug Couple
Ancient Land 12” EP
(Sacred Bones)

Some people involved with the BYM studio/label universe (and that band Föllakzoid) reconvene as a duo to form The Holydrug Couple. They’re quick studies of the Venusian blues, and play a lush, languorous jangle trance, picking up halfway through from the airy blues of a Come or Codeine record to the kind of endless two-chord bliss out that Sonic Youth might’ve pulled in the mid ‘90s. Pretty cool, and gets cooler with “Now” on side two, another two-three chord desert sesh that actually gets enough space to move, and decides to stay still in a big room and let the sound move as it will. “Mountaintop” closes off the EP with a bit of sleepy sing-songy victory. Lotta style in this one too, but they didn’t completely forget the substance, even if it’s not their own to have. Good record. (http://www.sacredbonesrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Horse Marriage
Mr. Tower’s Dead Trophy LP/CD/DVD
(Roll Over Rover/Dog Family)

Lazy, pretty, countrified stretches from a couple of guys hailing from Goleta, CA, joined by ambient wizard Sean McCann on drums. The obvious reaches towards Red House Painters-esque drift and the hazy climes of Mazzy Star are evident throughout, though they play it straight – the psychedelic elements are nowhere in sight. Good singing, good playing, a bit slow and melancholy for my tastes but there’s definitely an audience for this. CD/DVD captures live performances; silkscreened sleeve with booklet and ephemera (mine came with a page from an ancient math textbook, and a bill of lading from 1913 … no shit.) (http://www.rolloverrover.org) (http://dogfamilyrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Hunter Gracchus/Kommissar Hjuler und Frau
split LP
(Blackest Rainbow)

The Hunter Gracchus plays with an instrument chord, a sax, and bangs on the ground in torment. More of that Euro-improvisational free music clatter, with an actual two-note guitar line creeping in near the end, no matter how slight. KH and wife are German freakazoids, clad in plastic bags, who moan and writhe all over the same floor in an attempt to shock, I guess. They have dozens of releases out. You lost me, Yoko. (http://www.blackest-rainbow.moonfruit.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

It Sound
Hard Pop for Blue Trees LP
(End Up)

Monochromatic, slightly mealy, one man, four tracks, little waiting, meager reward. Jesse Damm plays around with existing pop tropes, ignores grounding hum, and chugs away with guitar and drum machine, mostly in an unremarkable and claustrophobic style. Seems like the kind of thing that either needs a full band, or should be relegated to tapes or CDRs. If there’s a thing I like the least about this, it’s Damm’s vocals, all hushed and bunged up so as not to disturb his neighbors. (http://endup.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

“Swamp Fire” b/w “Werewolf with a Tan” 7”
(11th Hour)

For the home-schooled or those recently emerging from 25+ years in a coma, a “K-Hole” is what one experiences when recreational ingestion of the veterinary tranquilizer Ketamine causes a sort of holding pattern in the brain, or at least I think it does. Though there was no “K-Hole” during the 30 – 45 minute stretch that constitutes my only Ketamine high, it remains a sole experience in my personal drug-intake history. I can compare it to nothing, before or since. However, I cannot say the same about this 7” by The K-Holes, yet another reverb orgy obscuring a distinct, yet done-to-mediocrity style, which in this case happens to be psycho/swamp-billy. The Cramps, The Birthday Party, and The Scientists are distant (and I mean Green Jello to Napalm Death distant) forefathers of what the K-Holes are all about. More accurately, this is dual-gender Brooklyn area transplants making sloppy, lumbering psycho/swamp-billy drenched in … you guessed it … an onslaught of distracting reverb. Not that the K-Holes are all that obtuse … they are the Black Lips’ party bros and follow a retro script that wouldn’t alienate the garden variety Horror Pops, Tiger Army, or Heavy Trash fan. Before I wrap this up and go looking for any remaining faith I might have in the existence of inspired, interesting, forward-thinking music, here are the pseudonyms elected to represent the members of The K-Holes: Bam Bam, Creepy D, Sax 5th Ave, Cha Cha Khan, and Jungalaya. Fetch me a mop; my sides have split and caused a real mess … (http://thek-holes.blogspot.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Andrew King & Brown Sierra
The Kraken 12” EP

Another nutter from the Dais stables, this features King on self-proclaimed “19th Century Actor-Manager Vocals” and musician Brown Sierra on electronic treatments, and was recorded by Sol Invictus’ Tony Wakeford, putting this somewhere in the steam/pagan/neo-folk camp. Evocations of the Kraken can be found within, obviously. I can’t help but think that neither Ryan nor the performers themselves didn’t have a laugh when recording this. On the verge of preposterousness, but if you want seafaring tales and brutal dark ambience/electro-blitter, HERE YOU GO. (http://www.daisrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

La Sera
“Never Come Around” b/w “Behind Your Eyes” 7”
(Hardly Art)

The sound of Summer 2010. When a band makes a perfect facsimile of Best Coast, it in turn adds great difficulty to the task of reviewing their record. It makes me listen REALLY HARD for any discernable differences, as I have nothing left to comment re: the aural building blocks that make up Best Coast. La Sera does sound like an entire band with a serviceable knowledge of their instruments as opposed to one former-co-worker/next-door-neighbor-turned-puppet-master who playing one Jazzmaster with his ponytail and another with his hands as another woman plays a muted Jaguar and her BFF thumps out sub-Mo Tucker beats. Still, Best Coast has hooks, and this has public-domain melodies on the A-side and a half-hook on the flip, though the latter does have some barely-refreshing thickness and teeth to it. No musically-obsessed and inspired individual, in this 2010/2011 segment we find ourselves in, hears the current Best Coast/Vivian Girls template and says to themselves, “I want to make something like that.” Sorry. (http://www.hardlyart.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Jinx Lennon
National Cancer Strategy LP
(Septic Tiger)

Ireland’s answer to MC 900 Ft. Jesus. Electro-rappin’ from a self-described “observer of people around me and [writer] about the dark underbelly I live in mostly.” The Suicide and Burroughs reference he lays out there make sense, building up to become one pf the most head-scratching, no budget spoken word/serious vibes sorta creeper that’s come through in a while. Production is pretty out there, not sure most people I know could sit through the whole thing but eh, give it a shot. (http://www.jinxlennon.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Lords of Falconry
s/t LP
(Holy Mountain)

Attempting to get the blown-out scorch-psych thing right has become the hobby of far too many cred enthusiasts. Sure, Monoshock was amazing and that first Comets on Fire LP was the tits, and no, I’d never heard anything recorded THAT hot … ten odd years ago. Wish I could say the same today. What I can say is that Lords of Falconry provide a needed vacation away from all of that dumbass “face-melting” nonsense. They take the aforementioned blueprint but are far too restless and therefore mix it up just right. Bombastic pop, Motorhead, authentic-sounding late-’60s prog, and the usually-absent attribute of songwriting when it comes to the distorto-wah, pin-the-meters, full-attack stuff … if you indulge in one more example of this approach, make it these guys. (http://www.holymountain.com)
(Andrew Earles)

M Ax Noi Mach
In the Shadows LP
(White Denim)

Simple, acid-etched machine beats and mixer treatments from one Rob Francisco, of Philadelphia, and quite possibly the finest release on White Denim to date. As M Ax Noi Mach, he pushes the rhythms into feedback-inducing headspace, generating tones of power and forceful contact and vocal anger from an overdriven source into an array of effects and loops, somewhere around the vicinity of Mammal, Dread-era Wolf Eyes, Deviation Social and what you might expect to hear during rush hour at the kind of dimly-lit venue where patrons are suspended from the ceiling of their own volition; it’s sex club industrial noise that works great on the dance floor, particularly in its more beat driven moments like “Creeper” and “Creeper Sits.” The second side of this thing comes together in a way that’s quite magical, getting noisier and bleaker as it goes on to tell stories of voyeurism and reports of suicide. The heat and clarity of the mastering, done at Dubplates & Mastering, separates this product from less clearly-defined works, pushing the limit on whatever stereo it comes out of. Whatever world Francisco occupies, you might be better off as a visitor, but with In the Shadows, he professes himself to be one of the most dangerous people on his block, which I’m not going to challenge. This ripped up the floor at the goth night I DJed over the weekend, and I plan to use it again. (http://whitedenim.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The May Day Orchestra
Ola Benga 2xLP

Sheesh. Double vinyl, pressed at 45, HUGE UPC label on the back … this has Kickstarter written all over it. Passion project from a bunch of St. Louis musicians who proclaim lefty/Commie leanings, and one big-ass hardon for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Pogues, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, and other hayseed-gothic practitioners. It’s definitely the only Red C&W record I’ve gotten in the history of writing Still Single, and it’s better than this description makes it out to be, with a big and balanced recording. All the same, the target audience for such dramatic shenanigans is not here. Take that however you will. (http://www.myspace.com/maydayorchestra)
(Doug Mosurock)

Tetra LP
(Estuary Ltd.)

Ice-cold drone rumble from a duo of Mark Cetilia on synth and partner Laura Cetilia on cello, both using electronics to achieve these means. This is how you do underwater drone: you lay it on thick, in waves the listener can’t anticipate, and push all of the air out of the space in an attempt at sonic totality. All three tracks on this LP reverberate with a lifeforce too large to be seen. A beautiful, carefully designed product in form and construction. 350 copies, clear vinyl. (http://www.estuary-ltd.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Mountain Movers
Apple Mountain 2xLP
(Car Crash Avoiders)

Yet another grand statement made by some people, just because they could. Working out of a granola-headed, post-communal state of mind, the three men of the Mountain Movers have assembled an enormous concept album, ostensibly about a man and woman who die together, full of long, quiet, folk-based tunes. Whoever’s singing sounds like David Lowery first thing in the morning, or maybe a drawling, rudimentary Ray Davies, and truthfully, some of the music takes on a rarefied air of back porch hippies jammin’ gently in search of a transcendent groove. The Mountain Movers are also somewhat blessed with a timeless feel to their music, as this is the kind of effort that anyone with a four-track would/could have made, even alone, at any point in the past 30 years. But there’s so much music here of such little consequence that their overall gumption to make three sides of it leads one to wonder exactly what these guys think of their own material that they couldn’t sort out anything to be cut. As it stands, Apple Mountain is in dire need of editing. No one I know, and likely no one you know, either, has the time to sit through this. (http://www.myspace.com/themountainmovers)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Boat-Maker’s Daughter 12” EP

Sometimes I think that it’s important for a younger generation to eschew, or at least be mistrustful of those older and more experienced than them. Sometimes mistakes are best experienced first-hand; other times an entirely new perspective on creative pursuits is required in order to transcend. Sadly, the latter is almost never the case, and when applied to a group like Brooklyn’s wispy, fragile folk outfit Mountainhood, it makes a good case for censure altogether by a committee of elders. Playing acoustic, droning folk without traditionally “good” vocalizing or (for that matter, ideas), it sounds as if the musicians’ relative inspiration reaches as far back as the last Woods album, and made to fill the gaps for when Woods are on tour and not in your area that night. Dumpy and inconsequential, and comes with a poster that has a bunch of triangles drawn on it. Only “A Chyld of the Bible” breaks rank from the monotony within, by adding some recognizable melody and getting the tempos up; still, it’s nothing you wouldn’t be able to hear at a teen lock-in at any insane conservative Christian church in America or Canada. Older folks than these remember the errors of such empty-headed beliefs (The Way, anyone?) Please avoid. (http://www.blackburnrecordings.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Munly & the Lupercalians
Petr & the Wulf LP
(Alternative Tentacles)

I’ve heard praise of this record, spearheaded by Jay Munly of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, from all vectors imaginable, even from those who don’t much care for Munly’s parent band (my parents, for example). To be fair, these sources are dead-on here, as Munly spins an arresting neo-Gothic folk tale of a faraway land, a surviving descendent of a dying people, and his own will being bent by his obligations to his heritage, what’s left of his family, and tentative alliances towards the creatures that now take their place. It’s steamy, of course, but there is an alluring darkness within, wrapped around exciting music and intense musicianship, the kind of thing that you know isn’t going to find its proper audience but you hope for anyway. Definitely a sleeper of 2010 and should be investigated by anyone into Nick Cave, Death in June, and points in between. (http://www.alternativetentacles.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Normals
“Almost Ready” b/w “Hard Core” 7”
(Last Laugh)

Standing directly atop the fracture between punk, power pop and metal, the Normals convened in late ‘70s New Orleans to play between the cracks, and somehow come out sounding better than like any comparable record of the time. Seriously cool songs here that are as well-written as they are out of control. The Ramones would play a pretty significant part in the Normals’ sound, but these guys play like they had good taste in records, as both “Almost Ready” and “Hard Core” are sterling examples of the most memorable sounds of the era, rolled up into original songs that rock like fuck. Somehow these guys struck out once they moved to NYC, but those were weird times for rock ‘n’ roll. Exact reissue of this long-gone gem, evidently pressed from the same stampers as the original. (http://www.lastlaughrecords.us)
(Doug Mosurock)

Oscillating Fan Club
George Washington’s Teeth LP

Funny, as I have a bellyache from going through most of a bag of “Fizzy Cola” gummies during today’s review sesh. Oscillating Fan Club hails from Detroit, and tries to cover every inch of a confined space. There’s college rock jangle akin to R.E.M. or Oxford Collapse, there’s some rough surf-like stomp, some ‘60s inspired sunshine pop, some countrified twang with sights set to reasonable goals like satellite radio … even some heavy noise-rock freakouts. All of it sounds like the product of the same band, more or less, and some of these changes even come through within the same song. Song quality and the attitudes towards recording and mastering this thing to vinyl are kind of varied, but they do have a handful of moments that transcend subpar audio output or the band’s placating of the surf rock guy in the group, coming up with an offering that really shouldn’t be as strange as it plays out. They’ve been going for a bit and releasing albums for some time, and I hope they can stick to a path and give it their best in the future. (http://store.bellyachecandyshoppe.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 12” EP

Remastered reissue of the good side of the Ottawa/Jihad split LP, stretched out across its own record now with bonus compilation tracks. The Still Life-style artwork has been replaced with a photo of foreboding corporate America from the sidewalk, these then-teenagers-or-just-past from Detroit exchanging one era’s standards for another. Balance runs about 75-80% powerviolence, 20-25% screamo, and 100% nostalgia, not all of which is memorable, but most of which is pretty brutal and fantastic, which all went down as planned and is presented for you, today, warts ‘n’ all – even the Coven “Satanic Mass” soundbite remains, in defiance of copyright or good taste. The group utilized two vocalists (one with bleached hair, the other twisted into dreads) and wailed away at some intense-for-the-times/still-pretty-intense chaos, raging against the patriarchy while subtly enforcing it. Don’t worry, they made a little room for Tolkien before black metal/fantasy exploration was recognized. What’s also cool about the Ottawa record is how precisely it’s been frozen in time; how we might laugh at a band attempting this style today does not necessarily correlate into how this was received in 1994-95, and how it is received now. Though the sounds could be present today, it feels like the moment has left us forever. No more youthful indiscretions, no more double standards, right? For all the power this record still has (and the tweaking of the original mix helps quite a bit), it remains a solemn reminder of everything bad, hurtful, clique-ish and otherwise questionable you did back then, and nothing can strip that away, from dialer/soda machine salting/Kinko’s scammage to the denigration of women who spurned you. Listen as penance and think about how you can make today’s world a better place, even as that white collar strangles away. 750 copies. (http://www.residue-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Phantom Family Halo
Music from Italian T.V. LP
(Sophomore Lounge)

Fringe-dwellers from Louisville, formerly of a space-rock/heavy psych persuasion, here take the experimental route, with punched-in found sounds, and oddly creepy digital rock ampoules. Break-n-huff for a Butthole Surfers-style journey through the inner mind of a bunch of folks too weird to fit in any one particular category. Features great drumming and OK ideas. I don’t know. This is confusing but intriguing, a percussion-slanted work that will take numerous listens to crack. If you’re up for the challenge, have at it. (http://sophomoreloungerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dave Phillips/Cornelia Hesse-Honegger
Mutations LP

HEAVY field recording/manipulation of Thai and Vietnamese sound sources by Fear of God’s Dave Phillips, augmented by scientific illustrations of mutated insects by artist Cornelia Hesse-Honegger. Her work graces the cover art, labels, and full-color plate within, and gives a striking but a bit too obvious of a meaning behind Phillips’ sound collage, which is why you probably stepped up in the first place. Sounds of insects, nature, voices and machinery are slowed down, phased heavily, and stretched into ominous tones that somewhat remind of Basil Kirchin’s groundbreaking Worlds Within Worlds albums from the early ‘70s, though the passage of time and accrual of experience within the horrors of society/the world/popular culture has brought the dread down hard. Phillips takes this experience and places it, boot-like, directly upon the listener’s throat, the menace within these sounds growing steadily as the sides grind on. Outstanding, oppressive, hot work from both science and creation. Edition of 250 numbered copies. (http://www.iniitu.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Raw Nerves
s/t LP

Not to be confused with Raw Nerve, part of the Youth Attack fam, this is a really pissed off hardcore band from Portland, working out of the Deathreat vein with snotty, aggressive, politically charged vocals. Guys who’ve paid plenty of dues, Raw Nerves as a band blazes along, with songs a bit longer and with bulkier arrangements that break down into suitable mosh parts. This didn’t grab me too hard at first, but it is really hard to deny something played with this much focus and aggression. I like Matt Svendsen’s scream/shout style, and the mixing on this record packs a real punch, particularly in the drums – it sounds like a basement punk show where the band and crowd is giving it everything they’ve got. (http://www.inimical.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rhonda is a Dead Bitch
Laos 12” EP

Aimless sound from a too-big, too-baked band with a really dumb name and button-pushing agenda. I doubt my friend Rhonda would like this much. But why bother alienating people with your band’s name when the music alone would do just fine? They’re not doing Des Moines any favors for its boasts as a rock mecca – these are way tired ideas that would have been cut off a Butthole Surfers record (the spooky synth march of the title track), the Carl Sagan-esque electronic hum of “Surveillance Video”), and nothing here gives any indication of wht it is these guys want to do, what they’d like to be known for, other than making a confusing and unenjoyable record which probably cost a fortune. The sidelong “Jennifer” just sounds like mud, and does a dB drop that the pressing plant should have slapped these guys in the face over. Looks like they spent a lot of money on this crap too. C’est la guerre. 300 copies, 180g vinyl. Ha. (http://www.myspace.com/rhondaisadeadbitch)
(Doug Mosurock)

RV Paintings
Samoa Highway LP
(Helen Scarsdale Agency)

Slab-constructed drone from brothers Brian and Jon Pyle, coming close to Brian’s work as Ensemble Economique (moreso the LP he did for Amish than the new one on Not Not Fun). Breathy and diffuse, this passes more of a desert vibe than anything underwater. Sandblown drone gets a pass, and the occasional jet flies overhead, completing the imagery. The duo steps out of the frame at moments, adding percussion and actual notes/chord changes, creating tension in their living diorama of Sedona, AZ with all the moisture sucked out of the people, places and things within. Inhale! 500 copies. (http://www.helenscarsdale.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Scorpion Violente
Uberschleiss LP

Ah, the French. Minimal electro/noise/drone performed by two “sickos” who are amused by themselves, by prurient lyrics and song titles, and who actually had the guts to put pictures of themselves with children on the back cover. SV’s first 12” was a pretty demented, disoriented romp through such simple but effective puddles; this debut album doesn’t do a lot to build off of that formula, other than to offer “more.” I can’t rightly support the imagery and intent here, even as a joke, but the lyrics are barely audible, leaving behind filthy-dirty electronics and machine beats that won’t wash away. Passable, though my favorite thing about this record is the full-color Kenneth Anger still on the insert. Can he sue? (http://avantrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Tear in the Sun LP

Harmonium-dronium tedium in the vinyl medium. Five tracks, four of which feature sustained strings, stretching out to the infinite horizon, latitudes of platitudes delivered in an unoriginal intonation that matches directly with the music beneath. You’d think that someone who spent this much time stringing together drone-pop – and this is pop, make no mistake; there are chord changes and the like – would think to allow the vocals to play a harmony role, instead of following along with the lead hummmmmmmm. The fifth track is mostly silent, which we can all celebrate. Red vinyl, clear plastic sleeve. No mas. (http://www.home-tapes.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Shirks
s/t 7” EP

This is an ex-Problematic and someone who works for Dischord making slightly harsh pop-punk that sounds exactly like the catchier end of the Rip Off Records roster, which makes sense, seeing as how the aforementioned band called said label home. The back-of-the-throat singing (just thing “back of the throat” then say an everyday phrase with a musical cadence and you’ll know what I’m referring to) and its default faux-British/genuine-knuckle-dragger sound is hard to take at this point on the rock timeline, but it’s not like The Shirks front as something they’re not. This (along with a gazillion other identical bands from approximately 1999 until 2004) knows what it is and so do you. The B-side, “No Way St.”, has probably been done 48 times a year since 1980, but somehow it’s still hooky and the band has palpable energy coming off of its 7”, so who am I to knock The Shirks? At the same time, I find it hard to use a term as flattering as “timeless” when certain shortsighted ‘tudes towards other forms of music are so palpable so close to the soure … meaning, I can easily envision some mouth-breather extolling the greatness of this 7” while using “gay” to describe an inordinate number of other bands. 600 on black vinyl. (http://windianrecords.blogspot.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Slow Animal
“The Fun Sun” b/w “Saturday Mourning” 7”
(Jax Art)

“The Fun Sun” is true to what its title may evoke; sound unheard, in more cynical listeners. Don’t think too hard. If you landed upon “more neo-girl-group, reverb-reliant warmed-over faux shoegaze by way of the Hozac circa 2009 mindset” you’d be dead-on. But the B-side ranks among the top five strongest Firstiesgaze songs I’ve heard in a year. Fast, loud, and every single sound going for the hook: Guitars, bass, all vocalists … in a hook pile-up that gets more cumbersome in the second half. Sometimes things are that much more catchy when they are about to fall apart. Somebody get each one of these guys a Scion and a job at whatever constitutes the Brill Building these days. Positive review? Yes. That’s all I got in me today. (http://jaxart.net)
(Andrew Earles)

Sore Eros
Know Touching LP

And here’s the other side of the problems from the Mountainhood record reviewed above, more or less solved by clear thinking, the right inspiration, and the ability to judge between the two. Sore Eros is another lo-fi pop/folk duo featuring gentle dudes with delicate falsettos, very much in the template of Woods and the like, but with better skills in the studio than their contemporaries, and a far firmer and lovingly traditional grasp on songwriting which puts this somewhere in between the Shrimper/Fuck It Tapes mentality, Ariel Pink, and AM gold radio hits. The soft rock vibe proffered by Robert Robinson and Adam Langellotti on Know Touching (hope that’s an “Arrested Development” reference) feature musical ability, taste, and a backbone that’s made from little more than wanting to do it. Our time is not wasted by these guys. That is very fortunate. Still probably not for everyone, but if anything I covered in this review is up your strasse, you’d be wise to seek out what this band pushes. A note that came with the Mountainhood record promised a Sore Eros record from the same label as well, so let’s hope we can all get on track to do more, and do better, in 2011. (http://www.shdwplyrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Straight Arrows
It’s Happening LP
(Juvenile/Rice is Nice)

More missives from Australia, sent with care to me in oversized packages by one Easter Bilby of Memphis, TN, arrived last week. This individual has been batting well above the Mendoza line with a flow of independent releases from tiny labels down under. I don’t know who it is, but thanks. Now onto the Straight Arrows, who step up with a full-length that’s as much ‘60s psych/amateur as it is informed by garage rock of today. Here, their lo-fi approach and canned-sounding vocals register as dreamlike, as does their refusal to rush tempos and grind us all into the dirt. Angela Bermuda of Circle Pit is on bass, and belies the rehash of that group’s overall approach to loving tribute, something far more pop and, at least on record, more palatable and enjoyable. For fans of believable, tasteful fun, melody, and of drawings of mushrooms. Opening song “Bad Temper” is a new fave for sure. (http://www.myspace.com/juvenilerecord) (http://www.myspace.com/riceisnicerecords)
(Doug Mosurock)

New Zealand Eels LP
(Emerald Cocoon)

Here’s yet another less-than-successful attempt by me to get into a Stefan Neville project that’s not called Pumice. Sunken finds Neville with Glory Fckn Sun’s Antony Milton, trying to work a Lovecraftian deep sea evil angle vis a vis barren drone and the occasional gurgle from the depths, and some nautical folk stumble-flop. I made a judgment on dark drone last year that I am sticking to here: if you are making music about the sea, particularly about its evils, and you can’t touch the works of Maurizio Bianchi, I’m not sure if it’s worth bothering. 300 copies, nice looking sleeves as well. (http://emeraldcocoon.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Super Vacations
Thicker Milk LP

21 short songs, completely crammed from one end to the other with hooks, riffs, and teenage wonder. The Super Vacations mine the entirety of the early-to-mid ‘80s disaffected high schooler sounds (Psych Furs, Cramps, U2, Joy Division, a multitude of VHS-era original soundtrack LPs) in a similar sound and structure across. This is a very psych-flavored endeavor, obviously recorded at home with lots of effects, reverb, druggy notions and unwavering identity throughout, so in that sense the too-much-music approach puts them closer to Refrigerator than Guided by Voices. If anything, there’s too much record here; they may have benefitted by releasing about half of what’s here, and the other half would have worked as singles. All the same, if you are willing to dig and face the fatigue of an overstuffed ordeal, Thicker Milk will definitely have something you want. (http://www.shdwplyrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

An When CS
(Choose Your Own Adventure Tapes)

39 minutes of tape goop loops from this Montreal psych/noise rock band, in a playfully experimental mode that serves some of the more warmed-over moments of their stance quite well. Mastered at the breaking point for the medium, about half of this thing is loud, rude cave-rock, with natural echo and a flair for the bombastic, while the other half farts around with vocal experiments, drum machine, and a present but maybe unnecessary cover of “Walkin’ With Jesus.” All the same, there’s a good bit of presence here that lingers after the cassette has run to an end, the sort of garage-rock sensibility that borders on wall-staring mania from the likes of a Blues Control or Peaking Lights or Shahs. It never crosses that line, but that’s OK. It’s just nice to hear a band trying to break rank from convention, and with this as well as their last single in tow, the confusingly named Tonstartssbandht (say it “TONN-starts-band-it”) are well on their way to making a really striking album of their own. 55 copies, and apparently it’s a reissue of a record that Dusted covered in 2009. Say what? (http://uneasytrucerecords.wordpress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Lo Speechio Circolare LP
(Sick Room)

Nothing but rhythm guitar and vocals by Sick Room label runner Ryan Duncan, and it makes for one of the most affecting releases in a catalog made up primarily of post-rock and mathy elements. Slow, aching untreated songs that will make you sad because they’re supposed to and you need to feel that way sometimes, so might as well do it with this instead of letting life take its course and surprise us all. There’s a clear line between these songs, recorded in Italy with an able hand, and with works of Codeine’s or Andre Ethier’s or Mark Kozelek’s, occupying that same lonely place. Beautiful packaging, including letterpressed sleeves and striking color photos, complete this personal and touching experience. CD version included. (http://www.sickroomrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Robert Turman
Way Down LP

Co-founding member of Non and current collaborator with Wolf Eyes, Robert Turman is a name few likely recognize at this stage, the majority of his works languishing in shoeboxes filled with cassettes or in the hands of tape-culture collectors. His 1987 release Way Down makes for a really great record that exemplifies the sounds of the industrial/loner ethos from that period – primitive drum loop bash, synth funnels, and the indelible appeal of the modern primitive rivethead are all over this one, with engaging and even danceable results; cold, but not too dark, with a reliance on melody not expected from this area of music. Quite a work here, and once again, Dais comes to the rescue, plucking from the annals of magnetic history another lost winner. (http://www.daisrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

We Repel Each Other
s/t 2xCS
(no label)

Here we go, one of the least inspired pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Chicago-based rock trio, rudimentally sound, without a single idea to back it up. Sounds like three guys on gtr/bs/drums meandering about to a steady beat, one simple part each (except for the song that has two), played over and over until they arbitrarily come to a stop. Imagine the canned goods and products in “Repo Man” only take away the 90 minutes where that is funny. “You like music?” I am not one to reference the promo materials that come with any submissions, but this one specifically mentions both Can and Rapeman as influences, and not only is that one of the grossest and least-compatible pairings of bands one could hope for – seriously I don’t even want to think about it, but I wouldn’t have thought it at all if I didn’t read their blurb in the first place. To hear what We Repel Each Other believes that might sound like misses the point of comparing bands to other bands altogether. Seven songs across two short cassettes in a handmade cassingle sleeve that is certain to fall apart after a few plays, but this is only getting one because I’m done. Songs consist of what sounds at first like Midwestern noise/post rock, reaching back about 20 years or so, but hemming themselves into one octave, piling on effects, and passively trying to negate each others’ sounds – it’s like they got a good recording of an early practice, before a band can really have a sound, and said fuck it. No titles on the cassette – seriously, two cassettes that look identical to one another and have nothing written on them to differentiate whatsoever – but there are like six songs altogether, two instrumentals that literally never get anywhere, and then one of them starts slobbering all over the mic in an attempt to “perform” vocally a la David Yow and you’ll regret ever listening to music in the first place. Impractical and unattractive. Also, why name your band after a Reigning Sound song if you don’t want some finger-lickin’ BBQ sauce smeared all over your face? This is way too much to deal with. (http://www.myspace.com/werepeleachother)
(Doug Mosurock)

Wet Hair/Naked on the Vague
split LP

Four songs apiece from two outfits that have developed and/or fully changed from release to release as a matter of course. Wet Hair have been looked upon less than favorably here, but not anymore – their side of this clear, split LP is the most cohesive and coherent sounding music this ex-Racc-oo-oon duo have released yet. The mode, while leaning towards psychedelic weedfeelings drift, is very pretty, clean, reverbed ‘50s/’60s pop. I never expected the whole Everly Brothers treatment out of this band, but they do it quite well, and bend it to their needs without losing the plot. Naked on the Vague, from Australia, hews closer to the traditional Velvet Underground/Kiwi National sound of droning, drugged pop/rock than the dour, dominating sounds of their last two LPs and singles. Heard tell that they financed a film project through Kickstarter, so it’ll be really cool to see what they’ve come up with. NOTV tours the US with Zola Jesus, in decent sized venues, this spring – it’s all happening, totally great. For now, this might be your best introduction to these bands as traditionalists. (http://www.raccoo-oo-oon.org/np/)

White Cop
Smack Based CS
(Negative Guest List)

More shit from Australia. This one’s good. Four songs, and boy, do zey play zese guitars like jackhammas. A good half or more of the band’s sound is dedicated to this mechanically intense wall of guitars, which is the reason to tune in. This is where it’s at, an imposing presence in the driver’s side that most bands couldn’t muster. The other half – frantic primal garage boppin’ in time with the churn and some ranting bogan who’s intent on making this sound like the Reatards – might interest some of you a little more, others a bit less. You get them both in every song, together, pushing each other to get crazier in what amounts to a hail of bug guts on your windshield, a very full sound, and a proper realization of the spectrum of the 4-track and the cassette deck; this recording is piss raw but keeps a tight, though close, separation of the key elements throughout. Shoulda been a record. Hope there’s not too many errors in this? Thanxxx. (http://www.myspace.com/whitecopunofficial)
(Doug Mosurock)

White Orange
“…And This Is Why I Speak To You In Parables” b/w “Middle of the Middle” 12” picture disk
(Made in China)

And that is why no one will remain in your presence. Pardon, couldn’t resist. It means very little that “Middle of the Middle” is in fact a five minute edit of the 13-minute “…And This Is Why…” because the piece of work in question is a fucking piece of work, if you will. There’s a chance that the mindset behind all of this is one similar to that of the untouchable Wildildlife (if there were more great bands, I wouldn’t have to reference them every couple of months), or more than a mere chance, actually. Heavy, pounding, beautifully produced, a ruling rhythm with a hint of tribal drive (non-Burning Man), and a ton of things happening in very small ways, and I’m a sucker for subtle. This is the sort of “fucked up” that flies in the vast airspace over the heads of Mike Patton fans, but fans of Priest Driven or Hit To The Death-era Flaming Lips have a new favorite 18 minutes. Highly rec’d. (http://www.madeinchinarecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

White Suns
Waking in the Reservoir LP

This year’s Brooklyn noise-rock combatant, in the wake of Twin Stumps’ demise, is White Suns, a highly aggressive trio that seems to disagree with most of the records sitting in this here pile in a number of ways, all of which are pretty important and potentially world-wrecking. Eschewing the whole “we need a bass player” mentality usually stops me cold, with bad memories of goof-offs like Oxes chewing up the scenery; however, in White Suns’ defense, they actually accomplish something that a lot of rock bands have embarrassed themselves trying to attempt: seamless incorporation of noise/experimental elements into the fabric of their seven-song set. In the case of their music, it works ridiculously well, particularly given to the bone-dry, focused recording of this material. Violence grows out of guitar and smeared blood, pounding and precise drums, and the surges of electronic rig corrosion and restless analog hellbox churn give the set the sort of character a lot of these rehash acts are forgetting. Over the course of the record, one loses the sense that there was ever anything one-note or tiring about the conventions and limits of the genre, and altogether White Suns come off not as a band attempting to learn its own language (the caustic screaming and jagged edges of their sound will bring comparisons far and wide), but to improve on the language that currently exists, with a fervor and a furor that approaches Dazzlingkillmen-style totality, minus the older-brother progressive rock sentiments. Those of you who like the idea of music making your ears bleed, but who aren’t usually willing to sit through some academic’s idea of what might be a good use of time – when you can actually be out there experiencing something vital and terrifying – should be elated by the good work done here. (http://www.ugexplode.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

At Home + 5 CS

Scrappy l’il cassette EP from this Oakland-based pop band, dingy-sounding but with a very promising stance in between a punk/DIY ethos and the skinny-tie dreams of the Sunset Strip in the mid-to-late ‘70s. Rough-and-ready recording and some hoarse vocals can’t really take much away from the charms of their instrumental passages, which display some real depth in terms of where they are vs. where they’re reaching, a resurgence of the Rodney on the ROQ-meets-The Embarrassment, brains and nerves colliding in a way I haven’t heard since the first time I saw Oxford Collapse lo these many years ago. Further refinements will only help to clarify what’s at stake with Yi, and these songs are going on a 12” due out pretty soon. A great start all around. Cassette is gone but you can download the tracks for free at the following URL. (http://yipunx.tumblr.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Demonstration 12” EP
(Blind Prophet)

Seven songs from a forlorn-sounding duo, nothing but mournful vocals against crisp, direct beats and moody synth. Has that whole black leather and chrome sorta ambiance, definitely Wierd if you know what I mean (and why wouldn’t you). It’s not like Zwei Dunkel Jugend or anything but you’ll get it. Minimal, hard, and sensitive all at once … holding back the joke therein on that one, gang. Those of you who appreciate the qualities herein, check it out. 500 numbered copies. (http://www.blindprophetrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Young Identities
s/t 7” EP

This fine label, run by Timmy Hefner of Chaos in Tejas fame, is reissuing the entire Shake/Savage catalog of singles from Australia’s punk era, with this one and the related Bodysnatchers the first out of the gate. “Positive Thinking (Negative Reaction)” punched its way out of late ‘70s Brisbane, dripping with mud and scum – somehow singer Clay figures out the Darby Crash-meets-Wimpy style of vocals at the same moments as they did, and they’re so obnoxious and huge sounding that they become a far more distinct part of their whole thing than most “lead guitarists” who have ever existed. Really late for this sort of rawness by US standards – 1979 – and yet these three songs drag the knuckle Roto-Tiller deep into the earth below. Fuckin’ gross and awesome shit, especially when they nearly fall apart on “Mass Appeal.” This record could have greatly improved my past couple days, which is a shame as I’m just putting it on now. 540 has no web presence but this one (and the Just Urbain and Bodysnatchers) should be available at most of the usual suspects for just a little while longer.
(Doug Mosurock)

Aaron Zarutski & Nick Hoffman
Psychophagi LP
(Pilgrim Talk)

A tour through a cement mixer by two noise artists, specializing in bowed metal, hum, and sputtering mechanics. The patience to get through both sides is not within the realm of human understanding. Comes with a bunch of paper in a bag. (http://www.pilgrimtalk.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
A Fundamental Experiment LP
(no label)

Benefit compilation assembled, anonymously, by a San Francisco community that’s rallied around one of their own (a guy reffered to as J.M.W.), who is recovering from a really bad accident and is snowed under with medical debt. The result is a collection of Neil Young covers by some of “Da ‘Zonez” greatest – Julian Lynch, Sun Araw, Ducktails’ Matt Mondanile, Metal Rouge and more. Since they’re Neil covers, everyone involved puts their foot into it, because … well, have you heard Crazy Horse? Metal Rouge detonates “Helpless” under epic sheets of noise, Sun Araw mutates something into the kaleidoscope acid wing of the cultural memory of Brian Wilson, and a group called Stag Haze does a beautiful, aching version of “Cortez the Killer” with appropriately gone halos of guitar and vocals. Avocet’s music box take on “Expecting to Fly” puts this one in must-own territory, definitely superior to The Bridge from years back, where cover comps are concerned. See if there’s any left and do what you can to help at (http://fundamentalexperiment.blogspot.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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