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Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 3

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Dusted Features

Mosurock, Earles and the rest of the Still Single crew round up an even 100 records, including new stuff from Wild Flag, The Young and Dan Melchior.

Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 3

Jason Ajemian & the Highlife
"TV/Animals” b/w “Monsters” 7”

These pompous assholes go for some jazzy skronk with a hint of no wave, but they sound more like the combo that backed Mike Myers in So I Married An Axe Murderer than James Chance. The first side sucks more than you can possibly imagine - even one hair on the ponytail of the sax player in the SNL band has more dignity. I’ve heard better music coming spilling out of the Line 6 amp section at Guitar Center. The flip doesn’t start out nearly as horrible, the kick drum has a nice pound and the snare a pleasing snap for these crummy vocalist to lay down his indecipherable shitbag patter over lounge jazz, but once the godawful chorus starts I wanted to go back in time and murder my own mother before she gave birth to me so I didn’t have to listen to the song in the future. The cover has each of the members of the band holding cutesy kid-scribble drawings covering what I can only imagine to be smug, smirking faces. Do yourself a favor and avoid this record, this band’s performances, and any of the members personally. Western Civilization doesn’t need this bullshit. (http://sundmagi.com)
(Bob Claymore)

"Butcher” b/w “Fish 7”
(Telephone Explosion)

Sometimes if you pound the same riff loud enough and long enough, it can be a song. Anagram has managed to do this pretty effectively, despite the riff for each song on this record being nothing incredibly groundbreaking; rather it’s sloppy and loud, but direct and to the point would probably be a better summation of what’s happening here. “Butcher” seems to borrow a Wire riff from Chairs Missing, and the B side “Fish” is just a pretty typical 16th note surf riff over and over again. The vocals have a sarcastic and snotty delivery to them, similar to Beehive and the Barracudas, but not in the same league. (http://www.telephoneexplosion.com)
(Ben Smartnick)

Animal City
You Win Some, You Loser LP
(Sophomore Lounge)

This record has gotten an inordinate amount of attention over here, and the delay in a review has more to do with the reaction I have each time I listen. Animal City is from Chicago and jumping in on an emo-pop/indie slop tradition started by Cap’n Jazz, carried on by Joan of Arc (yes), the Get Up Kids, the Promise Ring and so many other formerly clean-cut, now-bearded/shaggy young men would do in the ’90s. There’s definitely some reservations I have about this record – the band’s lyrics and presentation are almost uncomfortably silly and trite, and their shameless digs into back catalog stars like Archers of Loaf (“Redder/Blonder”) reveals an irritating side to music that is best left alone. While that’s happening, all four of the guys are harmonizing vocals, and playing the shit out of this flavor of pop music. They kind of remind me of Lifter Puller in their earnestness, vivid stories, and laidback Friday night appeal, even with all the cutesy affectations such a casual and important vibe has to go up against. Start with side B, trust me. While I can’t really abide by the Too Much Joy-isms all over this thing, I do appreciate the skill on display here, and the heart in these songs, too big and earnest to deny. (http://sophomoreloungerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Apache Dropout
s/t LP
(Family Vineyard)

WOW. Indiana-based trio, claiming past actions in John Wilkes Booze and Lord Fyre, wastes no time in creating a monster of drug-fueled ’60s psych and hambone R&B, a living tribute to the thousands of teenage ghosts and dead dreams which were born and quickly faded in the split level garages of suburban homes in the Vietnam era. Whatever these guys were working up to in previous endeavors, they let loose of it here – really hard – and come up from the dirt with the best example I’ve heard in years of this sort of red-eyed, blaring rock ’n’ roll: better than the Reigning Sound or other Cartwright projects excepting the Oblivians, better than Thee Oh Sees (obvies), better than Pierced Arrows, as good as the Cheater Slicks. Years and years of alien subcutaneous seedlings come busting out of every crevice here, like the Stephen King segment in Creepshow, and cover this truthful, soul-bound material with obscene, green fuzz, connecting Dead Moon to Roky to the New York Dolls to “Cream Puff War.” By the time they reach the stomper “God Bless You Johan Kugelberg,” you begin to realize that maybe you’ve been on this trip with these guys for however many years you’ve been in the game. Sorry I have to quantify it for you like this – it doesn’t have an In the Red logo on the back – so I’m spelling it out for you: this is the real shit, undiluted and strange and bleeding raw. (http://www.family-vineyard.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Art Lessing
Lectures 2xLP
(KDVS Recordings)

A decade’s worth of selections from the career of hometaper/visual artist Dan Quillen. Based out of Sacramento, this release qualifies some 24 releases Quillen’s performed on in the past decade, and a symbiotic relationship having formed between him and local freeform college radio station KDVS. Certainly the world wasn’t getting access to Art Lessing’s dozen or so full-lengths and collaborations, and the case could be made that he was making all of this music specifically for airplay on the radio, with an ulterior motive of casting any listeners within his grasp within a very specific moodspace of his own creation. The project shifts between lo-fi basement riff rockin’ and more placid escapes, headtrips blaring back from the history of weird/out there music being reflected onto pockets of Northern California in some sort of perpetual motion device of media influence and … my god this guy is a supervillain (and he draws like Vaughn Bode but with a much thinner point). Get lost in the psychedelic marshes of one sinister man’s mind. It’s a pretty mellow trip, orange sunshine all around. 500 copies, comes with a hand-stitched lyric booklet and sketchpad, containing loads of Quillen’s alternate universe scribbles. (http://www.kdvs.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ambien I CS
(Tanaka Heavy Industries)

Very vaguely-labeled one here – cover art is some abstract line drawings in squares, replicated on the tape label along with some Braille printing (translation is the artist and title above, the only indication of any sort of name on this release), and there’s a list of nine numbered song titles on the short side of the J-card. This came from Tanaka Heavy Industries, the same place that supplied us with the Clive Tanaka y su Orquestra cassette, and subsequent vinyl reissue, from last year. While that release was a full-on dance pop synth jammer in line with retro ’80s hedonism, this one aims for more simple ends, an attempt at "soul ambient" via polyphonic synth that likely aims at other faves of the day, like Emeralds’ earlier material, but ends up somewhere due south of that point. Pleasant but lightweight drones ’n’ tones, consumed by yours truly on today’s commute to midtown Manhattan. As I read my copy of Preston Sturges’ memoirs, the music sort of faded into the background, and when this super-tall knockout of a woman walked past me as she boarded at Delancey St., its cause was all but lost. This tape is new but there’s really no evidence of it being referenced anywhere online, so I couldn’t really suggest where interested parties might want to look for their own copy. Maybe here at some point in the future: (http://clivetanaka.jp)
(Doug Mosurock)

Eternal Sphere 12" EP
(Mexican Summer)

Thank the great decision-maker in the sky, for the last thing the world needs is what this band’s name might imply: Some art-college co-ed and whatever neo-hippie is in her drawers trying to glue My Bloody Valentine to Pablo Cruise or any of the other pathetically unoriginal peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter car wrecks that Generation Photo-Collage has praised for 13 minutes before moving on to the next filler of future cutout bins. Nope, this is a LOUD, DRIVING, and CATCHY lady-fronted take on the Hawkwind-dabblers of the late ’80s like Loop. It’s sort of like the first Comets on Fire LP minus the velocity and caked-in-cat-shit production technique, but with Bardo Pond-ish skyward-coo vocals on top and bass-lines that carry the hook. Are you buying this yet? Has it made the “want” list? The correct answers are: “Stop rushing me! I have to check my balance/put on my shoes/find my keys/transfer some money/warm up the car!” And it is a driving record. No bikes allowed. #’d edition of 500. (http://www.mexicansummer.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Belle & Sebastian
"Last Trip” b/w “Suicide Girl” 7”

Perhaps my least-favorite personality type is “The Talker” – those center-of-attention blowhards who speak a lot, but speak not of what they know. That’s the type of folk who dismiss and disparage this band based on their lack of hetero/masculine wiles, and that’s the type of folk who is suddenly talking to my back in mid-conversation. Belle & Sebastian can out-write M.O.T.O. and most of that new, fresh shit coming out of NZ on the Flying Nun label (please take this seriously … I dare you). These two tracks are available on 7” with the purchase of the Write About Love album, though the single is apparently being circulated in a promotional capacity as well. Makes sense. “Suicide Girl” is so catchy that I was convinced it was a cover, but ’tis not the case. It’s catchy enough that they get a pass when it comes to the blatantly ’80s synth-pop that sandwiches the hook. “Last Trip” isn’t as strong but makes up for this (slightly) by avoiding sonic association with a past era, other than the early B&S surroundings (the ’90s). (http://www.matadorrecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

The BiPolar Express
"Mineola Turnaround” b/w “Mexican Fuzz” 7”
(Hairy Eyeball)

So the “Bad Band Name = Bad Music” equation returns from serving 3 to 5 for irony abuse and gets back to work … big time. There is nothing bipolar about that which is directly related to, or even circumnavigating The BiPolar Express – this is one shade of awful and one shade only: Tepid blues boogie (with its origins in bad garage, I’m imagining), painfully cliché theme/lyrics, all in the name of getting smashed off of diarrhea beer and going home with the absolute nastiest barfly that the depths of desperation could serve up. This is half a meal away from the soundtrack to a neighborhood bar ’n’ grill’s dart-tossin’ “Tuesday Night Is Local Band Night!” outing with co-workers, followed by next-morning regret that knows no boundaries, and a hangover so bad you end up chasing some idea of relief by jerking off in the men’s room around 11 that morning. (http://www.myspace.com/thebipolarexpresstexas)
(Andrew Earles)

s/t LP
(Dead Beat)

Measured improvements from the Chicago depression, a gaggle of guys sinking teeth and nails into the beached whale of dark rock/punk in the frame of Clockcleaner, Pissed Jeans, Slices and the like (and actually features former Brain Handle bassist Barbara All Juice sneering up front). The kind of band that plays one or two chords with more menace than they’d have otherwise, leaving the internal stew of contempt within to color the space with thick, black strokes. Tough-sounding, not afraid of loud bluesy riffs or heavy equipment. They quickly do away with most of the nagging, incessant crud that’s been flooding the Second City for too long. Good band, let’s see them take on all comers with the next one. (http://www.dead-beat-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Black Ryder
Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride 2xLP
(Mexican Summer)

This one takes a few listens before I shook the “later Lush album with black dude peepin’ around the logo at me” feeling, or before it revealed itself to be something other than microwavable shoegaze leftovers from all fourteen of the revivals. Because it’s presented on two 12”s at 45 RPM, fidelity is not an issue, and that helps when the song wasn’t taking me all the way there. Most of these didn’t until I paid REALLY close attention to everything that was going on sonically, then it stood out from the negative outcome of current over-hiring in the femme-fronted department of this stuff. This is a man-lady duo, by the way, and it sounds like a duo like Band of Susans sounded like a duo, which is to say (for the historically illiterate), not at all. Full use of every FX box and trick in the hat works out in this band’s favor, giving the whole burrito some teeth by default. You’d better be whacking the listener with some noise if your unapologetic blueprint is OG stuff like Cranes, Bowery Electric, Pale Saints, Slowdive, etc., and the plans don’t entail updating things all that much. “Gone Without Feeling” is a standout, with some nice dawg/dawgette vocal trade-offs and a big hook. “All That We See” is another, possibly due to their placing of a cowboy hat on top a la Mojave 3, something I might normally cross the street to avoid (and something that causes immediate dismissal when described in a one-sheet). If you’re a head re: this stuff, this record won’t disappoint. If not, give it the grower-not-a-show’er treatment and enjoy the subtleties. #’d ed of 2K. (http://www.mexicansummer.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Bleak Race
Communication Breakdown CS
(Robert & Leopold)

Excessive, epochal noise skree-dom courtesy of Theresa Smith (Home Blitz, Lemon Dots, York Factory Complaint). Violin/mixer/mic abuse par excellence, with excellent shifts in the action which crank up the intensity, making what could have been a flat, grey landscape come apart with violent determination. The violin carries with it such memories of stress and rigidity in some of our childhoods that it’s only right the instrument could raise the kind of horror that Smith puts it through. Tracks co-opt the names of classic rock songs (“Calling Dr. Love,” “Stranglehold”) but the real meat of this thing is on the A-side; the flip sounds like some poorly-rendered, quiet, almost mistaken re-interpretations of the motherlode of intensity and aggression that kicks this one off. If you seek out one noise release from 2010, yadda yadda yah. 100 copies. (http://robertandleopold.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Blue Sabbath Black Fiji
Mistake of a Small Bird LP
(Feeding Tube)

Please don’t confuse them with Blue Sabbath Black Cheer; BSBF indeed sounds like the musicians who sucked all the color out of the former, turning them into the deadless hulks of noise that they are now. No, this is something different entirely – heavily processed guitar and vocals over a drum machine beat and synths gunking up the corners, from dorm room funk to intense, prismatic noise-throb blasters. Hyper-nerdy and kind of up its own ass, but I can understand … SO AM I. (http://www.feedingtuberecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

"Frantic” b/w “Mystery (Solve It…)” 7”

Said to have been recorded and written in a few hours by members of the band Young Identities, this reissue of the Shake/Savage single by Bodysnatchers fits right in with your workaday noise garage/“weird punk” tenor that’s still somewhat in thrall amongst today’s young drug abusers. Big difference here is that this is from 1978, and it’s actually good, the sound of raw discovery and blind ineptitude crashing together at a point in time where such things were not necessarily welcome ideas. Unlike the dozens (hundreds?) of ne’er-do-wells at this game today, there’s no leaning on readymade influences and imagery to get by on. Hideously uncool and undeniably raging punk rock – will stain any visible surface with its ugly presence. Absolutely recommended. Looking forward to the Just Urbain 7” reissue and the rest of the titles in this series.
(Doug Mosurock)

Brick Mower
Under the Sink LP

New Jersey pop-punk trio pushes the ’90s revival into its next phase, namely the Superchunk/college rock spectrum that’s been heralded by a number of bands in what I’m presuming to be the Rutgers Zone – anywhere from Home Blitz to Screaming Females, a dynamism brought on by local province and most likely a proximity to WPRB-FM. Harmless, exuberant sounds here, reaching for the plate and somewhat past it, young things flailing away in a basement for one night only. Bands like this used to be everywhere, and maybe they still are, but in the moment, these songs are quite a treat – can’t be beat, especially when they veer into a slightly more mature and versatile sound for about half of the record. Hell, this thing even LOOKS like it could have come out on Grass Records in 1993, and that’s ultimately the decision you have to make: candy-colored pop music or something more weighty. There’s no wrong choice to make, is what I’m trying to say, and if you wanna veg out a bit to a simple indulgence, Brick Mower’s got you covered. 300 copies. (http://stumparumper.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Brosby Kills and Kash
Lonely is the Night 7" EP
(Eastern Watts)

This single, or more specifically this band name, would be great bait to place in one of those beartraps meant for angry record reviewers. But the jokey ironic name turns out be a set-up itself, as the music tries to astrally project you into the “If I Could Only Remember My Name” sunset with earnest hippie folk strumming and LARPing. Pretty sure this is out of St. Louis so not sure where they’re making their beach campfires, drinking Boone’s Farm and singing about San Fran, but the mellow-harsher in me wants to kick sand all over it while my more patient side could compare the title track to something like Akron/Family. There’s a song called “Joy to the World” on the B side that is thankfully not a Three Dog Night cover and the vocals are inexplicably at a slower speed than the band. Overall I really wish this was the “Dylan Version” of Rebecca Black “Friday” instead. (http://www.easternwattsrecords.com)
(Andy Tefft)

Brutal Knights
Blown 2 Completion LP

More comedy punk/metal from these Canuck yuk-yuks. A song dedicated to “The Best Show on WFMU” should let you know where this stands. No target is safe! People with “Too Many Tattoos,” shopping at “Sky Mall” or “Food Shopping,” suggestions to “Take Breaks,” fucking with Vietnam Vets, and praising Tom Scharpling’s work on WFMU. I don’t know. I had some more rockin’ records from this bunch in the past, and I think they successfully stepped around the Fat Wreck Chords goofball pop-punk content back then too. Those days are over. Enjoy. (http://www.derangedrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Burning Sensations
s/t 12” EP

Excellent, self-hating hardcore from Perth (“the guitars that killed Perth”), with a touch of Reatard-style pop reflection and a slug at Agent Orange/Wipers style paranoia in between. This comes from guitarist David West, who also sent in the Rat Columns cassette and who plays guitar in Rank/Xerox, or whatever they’re gonna be called now that they’ve been stripped of their name. But to the matter at hand: this record is a fuckin’ ripper for sure, lifting fingernails from their beds with first-person lunacy (opener “I Hate Erections” is met after not too long with one called “I Chopped It Off” – both automatic winners of Song Titles of the Year, with runners up being “I Feel Disgust” and of course “Brainfucker”). and the attention to dingy, period-appropriate sound – probably a rush job, but it sounds GREAT – throws a lot of heat from their direction. I put this on twice in a row with little hesitation. Everyone should have a copy for the day when you will really want something this angry around for sympathy. I’m lending this to my friend who can’t seem to let go of his last relationship in the hopes that he’ll snap out of it. (http://www.vertexrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Charlie and the Skunks
Take an Ice Cream Scoop Out of My Brain 7” EP

These records are the penance of reviewing records; bland garage, the original sin of underground music. Totally unremarkable, hook free garage bullshit, non-valiantly retreading for the umpteenth time the utterly stomped into dust bubblegum & ice cream 60s vibe. Bland, flat recording, both wimpy and annoying with no specific characteristics, except maybe for the squeaky toy keyboard’s faux psych effect on “Red Hot Cinnamon” and “Pay No Attention to Time” helping me to tune this out. Who, besides Little Steven, likes this crap? Stop it stop it stop it stop it. (http://eradicatorrecords.bigcartel.com)

Songs for Scaffolding LP

Got something from this band long ago, just had to check back in on that. I mentioned “food court sensibilities,” haha. End of 2007, what the heck was going on in my head. Anyway, Chauchat appears to be some sort of project from some Eastern PA guys who’ve tried their luck in Philly and now NYC, but who came back home to record this album in a big, unoccupied factory. The sound of the room they chose is pretty expansive, and the bigger of their songs (like the Silkworm/Comsats-esque “At the Trough”) benefit from the approach. Far more brooding and darker than I had any reason to suspect, and the longer it goes, the more impressed I am at their ability to restrain themselves in service of large ideas and imposing songcraft that just sweeps you up. Anyone giving a hoot about Interpol at any point, or even Godspeed, might do well to take a look at this band. They’ve grown a lot and could contend with much of what’s going on today. Really hung up on this “Estate Two” song as well. Intermittently great, but when it’s on, this is a shocking and surprising development. 550 copies, silkscreened sleeves. (http://www.unread-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Chubby Behemoth
Global Dicks 7" EP
(Infinite Limbs)

Too-busy jazz raveups by people that were too busy getting good at their instruments to realize that combining bad jazz with show-offy proficiency is a lousy idea. Imagine the theme from Benny Hill faster and with occasional distorted guitar, along that feeling you get when you’re punched in the stomach or read about a horrible atrocity and you’re in the neighborhood. Think the most pretentious person you ever met trying to skronk up the theme to ThirtySomething and you’re closer. Lousy, to put it mildly. I hope everyone in this band is dead. (http://infinitelimbs.wordpress.com)
(Bob Claymore)

Clear Leader
Sewerwell CS
(no label)

Supremely irritating noise/rock/no wave spudge from Providence, RI, complete with a local specialty, the hyperactive screen-printed artwork. Unambitious, barely together drums collide with a bass or a guitar and a Casio played with all the determination of a hyperactive kid let loose in Service Merchandise’s electronics aisle back in the mid-’80s. "Songs" are interspersed with a treated loop of the drums from surf classic "Wipeout," and I might just surf this down the pisswater that flows down the subway tracks on St. Paddy’s Day to keep with that theme. Just awful all around. (http://www.dogchirp.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Danava/Earthless/Lecherous Gaze
three-way one-sided split 12”

The physical label on this record parodies early Chrysalis Records (think green w/ orange butterfly), and according to what filled the air when I played this one-sided 3-way split, all parties involved have gone all Indian-med-student on their Atomic Rooster/Groundhogs/Sabs/1st Grand Funk LP homework. Danava is not the semi-gentle nudge of prog-noodle shred they were on that first LP, for they have learned how to channel the last days of mk. 1 Black Sabbath better than the other 4,591 bands doing the same thing right now. Earthless belies its cutting-of-teeth by covering certain sections of their six-minute Hawkwind impersonation with the type of noise that would have been impossible in the mid ’70s, and that’s why they are the best band on here. Lecherous Gaze may whine until the sun goes up or down that they are not spoofing the source material, and they’d be right. They’re spoofing an unfortunately accepted idea of the source material. Start with the band name, then read the song title (“Get You Some”), and if you want to bother listening to what could be the music behind an SNL biker rock send-up video, that’s your right. Or you could always listen to the Beaches 12”, because it’s simply a great record of non-biker rock. #’d edition of 750. (http://www.kemado.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Dead Ghosts
s/t LP
(Florida’s Dying)

Reverbed-out, energetic sockhop garage noise pop from Vancouver, with cover art from a Vivian Girl, which in this case outlines what you might expect here – a noisome, lo-fi, exuberant but kinda haunted (given their name) slow dances and hard stompers. The band certainly has it together and none of their motives can be called into question for that reason alone. Nobody here is trying to outweird or upset anything, it’s just a solid, catchy, winning set of slightly sad-sack rock ’n’ roll. Really well done, would listen to again, though I’ll probably be looking over my shoulder for the Ducky Boys (or “The Cat with the P.T. Cruiser”) the entire time… (http://floridasdying.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dead Leaf Echo
"Half-Truth” b/w “Babyeyes” 7”
(Custom Made Music)

A single that could have been released in 1992 without a bat of a heavily-mascara’d eyelash, Dead Leaf Echo have a real hard-on for the 4AD/ethereal template, particularly the flanged Rick and chord progressions of Lush. That there’s a guy singing instead of Miki Berenyi’s shattering high alto takes away some of the steam powering this dirigible, but what really knocks it out is the slavish affection for the sound the group has chosen to ape. No thought is given to either of these tracks as to where they might be able to change direction or offer a new idea. It’s pleasant (B-side “Babyeyes” very much so) but for innovation, you’ll have to look elsewhere. (http://deadleafechonyc.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Deaf Wish
Mercy LP
(Radio Records Melbourne)

Second full-length by a Melbourne band which plays to the ’90s back-of-the-room, cutting the wide swaths of burlap that connect the sultry yet guttural dervish style alt-rock (Cha-Cha Cohen, Th’ Faith Healers, some of the less pretty moments of Yo La Tengo) with the history of post-Sonic Youth noise-as-liberation steez. It makes for a very off-kilter, occasionally brilliant listen that takes the dynamic of whoever in the band is singing, be it the cooing, drunken sounding woman or the gut-busting male growler. Sounds like it has more in common with New Zealand music than anything from Australia, with the heavier and more riff-engaged songs landing on side two – I could see this appealing to McLusky fans (why not), but I also think there’s a pretty big divide between their two generalized modes of expression, and therefore can’t think of too many people who are going to be predisposed to both sides of their approach. I mean, I am, but you know what I’m talking about. It makes for a disjointed listen that doesn’t quite coalesce until the last few tracks, but there’s a lot of charm within that could potentially make this one a grower as much as it is a shower. (http://www.myspace.com/deafwishstyle)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rivages Sur L’Antipode. LP

Laptop IDM/step reconstructions of sound sources recorded in Indonesia (gamelan and otherwise) for some occasionally gripping, deep results. A lot of the record is crazy quiet and sort of defeats the purpose of having one’s label loft comparisons to Burial or Akufen, but there are enough moments of blissful jitter on the B-side to carry the entire work. Nice sounds from someone who’s paid quite a bit of attention to them. 250 numbered copies, a handful of which come with a serigraph from the artist himself. (http://www.iniitu.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Diarrhea Planet
Aloha 7" EP
(Evil Weevil)

Goddammit. Web resolution sleeve, with an oversatured picture of a mid-’90s convertible in front of a palm tree wall mural, by a band called DIARRHEA PLANET, on a label called Evil Weevil Records. Talk about a bad first impression, I’m predisposed to put this shit on blast, and yet to my humiliation, it’s infectiously charming, poppy garage from what I’ll assume are Fix My Brain fans, bursting with energy. Recorded in a tin shed, the punchy rawness works with everyone singing all at once, the summertime emo a capella chorus on “Ghost With A Boner” (yeahh) probably pushes it over the line into pop punk territory. It’s an aesthetic nightmare, practically hostile to the non-Internet raised joker party bros, but yet shamefully fun. (http://evilweevilrecords.blogspot.com)

Dolphins into the Future
Ke Ala Ke Kua LP

Treated and manipulated field recordings of jungle and ocean sounds are accompanied by synths. Peaceful and doesn’t seem like much effort, until you read the double-sided artist’s statement that comes with the LP – one side was assembled under conditions of intense meditation, and the other side talks about Hawaii and swimming with a pod of dolphins, absorbing their sonar waves through the skull. This is one dude named Lieven Martens and he seems like the most lucid, stoned guy on the planet based on his music. Not trying to be a narc or anything, and yeah I’d go to Hawaii and record swimming with dolphins too. Good for this guy, he is living his dream. But is it your dream? How badly do you need to zone out? Do you have any roommates who would think oddly if you listened to something like this? You’ve got an image to maintain, and Dolphins into the Future could be a part of it. WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON, I SAY. (http://www.kraak.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Lawrence English
Incongruous Harmonies 7"

Close to a year before the city of Brisbane and large swaths of the eastern Australian coast were devastated by flooding, an antiquated industrial structure known as The Gasometer in the Newstead district of Brisbane was the site of a performance by avant-circus group Circa accompanied by a sound installation by Lawrence English. It helps to have a picture of The Gasometer, and a trapeze artist precariously navigating its towering skeletal frame, when approaching this condensed version of such a large-scale spectacle. English (an Aussie scene mainstay who runs the label Room40) not surprisingly but fittingly deployed sustained tones and textures that suggest wind, rust, decay and, in light of The Gasometer soon to be razed and the city soon to be washed out, an ominous sense of transformation both slow and sudden. (http://www.touchmusic.org.uk)
(Andy Tefft)

Fat Worm of Error
Broods LP
(Ecstatic Peace!/Open Mouth)

Detuned rock with blastbeats and spasms of human-geek interaction not heard out of New England since bands like Fat Day and Arab on Radar went on hiatus, but this is much much more strange, almost in a Caroliner-meets-Sha-Na-Na sorta way. Art rockers, take heed: the bending tones, randomized note clusters, jazzbo leanings and general lack of upright structure will penetrate the heart of the Zappa/Beefheart fan with the grossest, dirtiest hair imaginable, so it’s best to imagine what it will do for you. (http://www.ecstaticpeace.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

FAWN/Brand Labs
split 7”
(Brand Labs)

A refreshing headfuck, the likes of which I haven’t experienced post-Y2K, so let’s hope this is a sign that our fledgling decade is preparing to blanket the last ten years with a massive steaming coil of not-giving-a-fuck. The record’s packaging is really confusing, forcing the recipient to pay attention, and it’s pressed in an addition of 1000 (hand-numbered … something that seems hilarious in these inspiration-allergic times), insuring a $2 copy will be waiting in most used bins well into the next decade. Moreover, the edition # is a nice middle-finger to the prevailing trend of ultra-limited mediocrity punctuating current trips to the record store … creating “rarities” and eBait out of crap that shouldn’t exist in the first place. Some of my most rewarding listens have been $1 to $2 7”s from the ’90s that I ignored or missed the first time around, and happened upon because an enterprising label commander pressed up 1K, 2K, or even 3K of the gem because, and I’m not pulling your chain here … THEY WANTED A LOT OF PEOPLE TO HEAR IT!

So what do we have here? Check this out: Side A is, for all intents and purposes, a slightly uptempo (or “rocking”) version of the Margo & The Nuclear Precious ’N’ Quirkies road to killing a little bit of my soul. You know what sonic detritus to which I refer: the vocals-front-and-center, trad instruments mixed with the loathsome mandolin/ukulele/fiddle-fuck trend (small instruments for small goals), massive production/a surgical clarity to the recording, male/female background chorus, and about as daring as doubling up on the unsalted rice cakes once a month. The band is called FAWN, but I’d like to think it’s really a mock-up of this one well-traveled route to neutering the shit out of what may have held an ounce or two of promise fifteen years ago. But knowing my luck, smart money is on it being a real band made up of good guys and beautiful girls that I’d kick it with if they lived in my town (and I remembered how to leave the house and have a two-person conversation that made a bit of sense).

"But you started off with claims of a ’headfuck’…you had no idea where to take this review, did you?” Shut up! Flip this record over and guess what happens? Instead of a barely-altered copycat agenda on the B-side, the listener is treated to 3 – 4 minutes of blown-out electronic glitch-noise that NEVER morphs into a song and has absolutely nothing to do with melody. I mean Merzbow-level skree here, folks…the entire side. Enough noise to knock the fake mustaches off every walking, breathing Facebook-pic-cleavage-presentation that unknowingly flips the record in hopes of enjoying another widescreen-but-narrow-minded bastardization that falls about 128 degrees south of what used to matter. (http://www.wearefawn.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Repetition 7" EP

Imagine if you will, an evening out, possible a Friday night, where a few guys from some more notable crust bands (Cop On Fire, Whorehouse of Representatives) are out at that pinball bar in Seattle, having beers. One of them plays Motörhead on the jukebox. They begin discussing the finer points of “No Class” and begin to realize they all appreciate the gravelly delivery of Sir Lemmy Kilmeister. Further discussion proves an affinity for other things in life- black clothes, dreadlocks, anarchy, and Japanese hardcore. At the end of the night, three of them decide to start a band based on that discussion, and you have Frustration. This record brings us four songs of said combined influences, paced properly and recorded well. Having said all that, and understanding where they’re coming from, this just sounds like the band Leatherface. The first song “Repetition” has a pretty ill Bastard-style intro and main riff, but the rest of the record drops into a melodic punk thing that at times works and other times doesn’t. “Under The Grass” is the highlight of this record, well written and the most memorable. As far as debut releases go, this is a great start. (http://www.inimical.com)
(Ben Smartnick)

Georgiana Starlington/Wild Choir
split 7”
(Rob’s House)

As far as split releases go, these bands complement each other pretty well. Both seem to be drawing from the same reverbed-out, pre-Nuggets car rock of the ’50s and ’60s. Georgiana Starlington wins this battle however with the more interesting and stronger song, almost touching upon Thee Oh Sees for a minute with really roomy sounding vocals and just enough twang without it getting dumb. Wild Choir doesn’t do such a great job, putting their foot a little bit over the line of good taste and wandering into schmatlzy, retro territory. I’m sure the dudes in this band have pompadours. I wish it was OK to give records grades, because I would still give this a C+ despite kinda bagging on Wild Choir. (http://www.robshouserecords.com)
(Ben Smartnick)

German Measles
A German Joke Is No Laughing Matter 12" EP
(Krazy Punx)

Word is born that German Measles are all the Cause Co-Motion guys except the singer, who refused to play songs like these. This band seems to annoy a lot of people I know, but I really can’t figure out why. They’re sloppy but far from inept, and nobody complains too hard about early Television Personalities, of which this bears a bit of resemblance. Silly songs, kind of in line with where the Beets are, but a good bit more joke-like. If you have any interest in how you get from the Modern Lovers to the Dead Milkmen, this “1” is “4” you. (http://krazypunx.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Gestapo Khazi
"Escalators” b/w “The Atomic Kind” 7”

The intersection pile-up of The Feelies, Minutemen, and ’90s spazz-pop makes “The Atomic Kind” a terminal keeper with golden staying power, but the same can’t be said for “Escalators” (though it’s not a “bad” track in any sense of the word). The b-side is more than enough to make me curious about the rest of Gestapo Khazi’s output (unheard as of this writing), and curious in a money-liberated-from-person manner. I almost hate that I’m vexed by a couple of mediocrity-wagon participants found elsewhere on this label … or rather I should claim that this record and the Moscow Moscow Moscow single belong in the same sentence like Destruction and Warrior Soul belong in the same sentence. (http://eradicatorrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Andrew Earles)

The Girls at Dawn
"Back To You” b/w “WCK” 7”
(Tic Tac Totally)

The Girls at Dawn are a Brooklyn trio who are the absolute bottom of the barrel of bands doing the Vivian Girls derived 60s girl group meets 80s C-86 jangly guitar sound. They have zero songwriting skills, can’t sing, can’t play, and their records sound like reverb soaked mush. They wouldn’t know a pop hook if it hit them in the head with a hammer. The only things I can remember about this record after having just listened to it twice is that they swiped the drum intro to “Be My Baby”/”Just Like Honey” on the beginning of side B and there were some laser gun noises at some point. All of this raises a lot of questions. For example, who could possibly enjoy this band’s music enough to purchase one of their records, let alone finance one? Could there possibly be such a thing as as a Girls at Dawn fan? The Girls at Dawn’s LP is on Norton Records. Why would a great label like Norton take time out from putting out Hasil Adkins and Sun Ra reissues to put out an album of this bland mulch? Did the members of Girls at Dawn blackmail Norton Records? These are the issues that keep me up late into the night, tossing and turning. (http://www.tictactotally.com)
(Chris Strunk)

El Gusano
Fantasia del Barrio LP
(Heavy Light)

CHILL times inside – this is a reissue of an LP from a Tex-Mex bordertown band circa the mid-’70s, its makers of Hispanic descent and looking to extend beyond traditions in both conjunto and bar band modes of thought in a successful attempt at capturing the local state of mind and post-Vietnam War hangover of the time. Few if any concessions are made towards popular music of the day, El Gusano instead heading right for the blotter acid, next to the Modelo Especial and one-hitter for a free-flowing mix of tight psychedelic funk, progressive rock, and rural country folk expression. The only thing that comes directly to mind when listening is the sounds of Mexican rock band Toncho Pilatos, combining the same levels of grooves and sonic oddity so as to rule really hard without sounding like it was intentional. This thing is a fuckin’ TRIP, bud, with breaks galore and an excellent late night club vibe, its multiple layers revealing themselves to you as something very special after only a couple spins. 1000 copies, up from the 300 originally pressed and basically lost to history. (http://heavylightrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Hanging Coffins
s/t CS
(Malt Duck)

Dirgey, bi-polar rock smog outta Eugene, OR, showcasing limited potential and a preternatural need to mimic and repeat that which happens around such lo-fi dry sponges of talent. Only one of the tracks here, the long and somewhat harrowing downer “These Little Creatures” features anything one might call artifice, and that’s because the tremelo pedal got plugged into the vocal mic instead of the guitar. Competent without qualifying as skilled in any sense, these songs float by with little in the way of a lasting impression. Five songs, 100 numbered copies. (http://www.maltduckrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Heart Land
s/t LP

s/t LP
(Cream of Turner/Tequila Sunrise)

These two records come out of New Hope, PA and represent a small coterie of musicians heading off into improvised and non-structured dimensions. Responsible for both releases is a core of four musicians, playing just as Sunlore and adding a fifth for Heart Land. Couldn’t tell you much about history or anything like that, and these ones are best suited for jumping right in anyway. Of the two, Heart Land is the more perplexing/reward-bearing, a dice roll of free/mildly structured rock-based thrum, largely quiet and disconcerting, guitars, organ, and bass appearing, detuning and aligning into complex and algebraic patterns amidst scattered samples of field recordings, old records, percussive bursts both predictable and jarring. By the end of side B, things are coming together in a very real and special way. The Sunlore album is a bit more of the same – more activity on this slab, more songs, and shorter ones as well, but somehow things get a bit lost in the translation. My guess is that I may have liked more whichever of these I happened to put on first, being that they are so close in style and content, but if forced to choose, you know … Anyway, kudos to what was obviously a very labor-intensive time for these tiny releases: Heart Land comes packaged in an old-time accounting binder with a sealed strap closing it together; Sunlore sleeve is heavily spray-stenciled, the inner sleeve and labels are screened, and it looks as if someone actually set the front of the jackets on fire (controlled blaze). 200 copies each w/ obi strips. (http://creamofturner.com) (http://www.tequilasunriserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Horaflora/Secret Boyfriend
split LP
(Hot Releases)

Horaflora: Field recordings buffet what sounds like someone rubbing a microphone across one of those ribbed plastic bottles which once contained spring water and some synthesizer nubblins + game calls … Gets kinda violent at moments, and is a bit presumptuous, but they have a pretty cool logo, so do with that what you will. Secret Boyfriend: sounds kinda personal. Songs of melody and individualism played through sampling keyboards and mixers, a sound of intense discovery and quite beautiful. Some tracks stop at random points, giving off the sense that they’re being snatched away from you by the artist. The last track reminds me of Unrest! Thoughtful, striking work. (http://hot-releases.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

Jaki Jakizawa
Can You Feel the Juices? LP
(Milvia Son)

Two unappealing names vie for position with the title of a confusing platter. Side A is called “Period Fart” and it is abominable, like 13 minutes of jackhammering drum machine and farty synth improvisation. This is like dying your dreadlocks green and wearing a purple hat sort of shit. This is looking like a member of the band Jellyfish level of YBN torture, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jakizawa has attended multiple Burning Mans. Side B, entitled “Eros in Neon,” fares so much better that it’s actually worth hearing, a quickly pulsing synth solo chopped up into a dotted line by oscillators that obscures the improvised melodies by a good bit, and gives off an Ash Ra via Speak-n-Spell impression, made expressly for the 8am comedown, when the acid is still flashing. So we have one half of an interesting record. What will you write on the side with “Period Fart” using your keys? (http://www.milviason.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ryan Jewell
Eschew Obfuscation; Espouse Elucidation LP
(Hot Releases)

"Eschew Obfuscation” is a collage/cassette/noise piece, nine years of material stuffed onto one side of this LP. It will be too much for most to take, a tape smash/live recording/tantrum-filled puzzle that could have come from Japan in the ’90s, except now it’s from Ohio. “Espouse Elucidation” is a drone piece that displays a surprisingly full sound for not being all that loud. It has qualities that would make it appropriate for the sounds a flying saucer might make, and that is awesome. More of a natural sound than some other drone units currently bobbing around out there. (http://hot-releases.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

Allen Karpinski
VDSQ – Solo Acoustic Volume Six LP
(Vin du Select Qualitaire)

Allen Karpinski offers up a solo affair, playing a tenor guitar with a single coil pickup, much the same way as Jason Molina did in Songs:Ohia. Having gotten his start alongside bands like theirs in Ohio postrock/Americana ensemble The Six Parts Seven, he’s now stationed in Seattle, and returns to independent music to craft a thoughtful sonic diorama through playing in a style that equates method with expression. This is quite the beautiful effort, and even bucks the acoustic frame in spots, care of the instrument’s wildly buzzing, vibrant construction when fed through distortion pedals. Gets better as it rolls along, with the last two tracks (one of which is a sidelong suite) really showing a wonderful progression of structured folk. Discovery has its pawprints all over this work, and the end result is a bit of a revelation. Beautiful record, 200 copies, letterpressed sleeve. (http://www.vdsqrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Leslie Keffer
"Give It Up” b/w “Dormant Torment” 12”
(Ecstatic Peace!)

Two sides of cushy drum machine loops slicked with distorted rhythmic melodies and Leslie Keffer’s oxy queen vocals over top. “Give It Up” pairs her with a live drummer and synth player, and works into the outer space foam party state of mind almost instantly. “Dormant Torment” focuses more on electronics, with more synths and denser stretches of tunefulness. Perfect for that 3 A.M. sleepover you’ve been meaning to have. (http://www.ecstaticpeace.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t LP

Dark, dirgey rock from a bunch of more NYC residents a bit newer than myself. They happily lift up the mantle of noisy sleaze like the Chrome Cranks with little disagreement from either end. Downtuned, bluesy throb and scrape, with crazed male vocals, stoic Goth female vocals (courtesy of Georgiana Starlington, I presume), and a saxophone. New York is said to be alright for fans of that instrument, and it works out here in the same fortuitous way that it did on that first Balaclavas EP. Think of that band (and you should) as a very organized, focused, mysterious, mannered, controlled, more powerful version of the K-Holes, but if one or more of those elements isn’t something you’d want in music all the time, you will definitely find a similar, rabidly scuzzed out take on it here. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Faster Than the Speed of Time LP
(Dilletante Courtoisie / Bimbo Tower)

Kraus is a New Zealand musician who has some sort of dotted-line connection to Witcyst (remember that group? It’s been reduced to pictures on a blog!), and joined Stefan Neville of Pumice in last year’s ponderous Olympus LP, Bold Mould. On his first solo vinyl, Kraus bends a variety of wily Spanish guitar around a mess of synthesizers and comes up with a half-translucent/half-mutant rockin’ blend of drone, rock, and electronic abuse. Some of the fourteen tracks here literally vanish from the audio field without every atom of your attention, others bounce along like a ’70s sedan with hydraulics (“Royal Princess” in particular sounds like a dopplered, Zaireeka’d electro static burnout take on “Two Headed Dog”), others command a solemn, bullfighting presence, undermined by warbly synth and tape loops. It sounds daunting but I can assure you this is very much of the moment, in line with acts like Pumice, Blues Control and Peaking Lights in its endeavor to confuse and thrill. The label it’s on has opted for the art & music approach, hiring some art world brothers to paint the cover image, and tacking the music together as a total package. Personally I’m a bit more interested in the music, a longtime hometaper stepping out into the world with idiosyncratic flair. 300 copies. (http://www.kraus.co.nz) (http://www.dilettantecourtoisie.com) (http://bimbo.tower.free.fr)
(Doug Mosurock)

Uku Kuut
"I Don’t Have to Cry” b/w “Visions of Estonia” 7”

This single is just one example of the efforts of the PPU crew to make available some of the most whispered about, unheard, unreleased, demo-only rare funk, disco, boogie and R&B and bring a million DJ wet dreams to life. Seriously, if you don’t know, now you know, but lest that sound intimidating to funk civilians, you don’t have to be an obsessive to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Uku Kuut was a Soviet-born producer who worked his way through Sweden to the L.A studio scene, and in 1985 cut the A-side with his wife (now famous Estonian jazz singer) Marju Kuut on lead vocals. It’s simply a great, feel-good, Sunday morning smooth funk single that you’ll want to leave on repeat. Decades later, PPU tracked down Uku in Estonia and he contributed the instrumental b-side of this 45. Impossible to play this and not imagine DâM-FunK or Max Dunbar letting out a good “Unnnnnnnnnh!” So tight; have a listen or just proceed directly to grip-mode. (http://ppu.bigcartel.com)
(Andy Tefft)

Licorice Roots
"Strangers in Marshmallow Boots” b/w “Pixilated Pixie” 7” (Daisi)

The sleeve and titles send up some dull red flags, but don’t be fooled, it’s not some ’90s pabulum rehash. It’s a real band FROM the ’90s! In fact, Delaware’s Licorice Roots are former Shimmy Disc recording artists, and recipient of Sassy Magazine’s “Cute Band Alert” in 1993 (seriously). They’ve kept a capital ’L’ low profile, quietly releasing 4 albums over almost 20 years. “Strangers,” the single and lead song from the band’s last full length, could be a warbling, lost Morricone score from a Sergio Leone samurai western (eastern western?), transferred from ancient unearthed reels and run through a cheapo fuzz. Synth strings swell and embellish the lead melody just right – they’ve clearly had time to develop their sound – and everything sounds old, warm, and very familiar. “Pixilated Pixie” should satisfy any Kurt Vile fans looking for more Violators material. Another warm mellow cyclical jam of fuzzed up guitar wailing, this time with a single vocal line repeated over a cooing synth organ. This is fantastic, all heart. Do yourself a favor and find a copy. (http://licoriceroots.net)

Lion Sized/Accordion Crimes
split 7”
(Cash Cow)

I can safely say that this is the second time I’ve processed a post-Y2K band that clearly loves them some Tar … as in, AmRep-to-Touch-and-Go-to-callin’-it-a-day Tar as opposed to a stupid drug reference that I would never make to begin with. And to note: The first band I heard rocking an overt Tar influence was Black Helicopter – way ahead of the game on that one, but before I start lavishing praise on that band’s Invisible Jet album and send readers into a state of mid-’00s depression, let’s process two bands that do something with noise-rock. All the Tar-dropping is in reference to Lion Sized, all down-stroked riffs and disconnected, distorted sing-shouting that breaks down in the final stretch then ends with a few seconds of attempted intensity. Promising, but not over the hump. Accordion Crimes repeats the line “I would kill for an original thought” and their Cop Shoot Cop and Unsane hybrid gets really fucking noisy at the same point that Lion Sized get really quiet, negating the need for some closing anger-boost (it’s nonetheless delivered with the guitar shoved into our faces and overtaking the bass’s dominant role). I will hear both bands’ full-lengths without their presence in a review pile necessitating the venture. (http://www.myspace.com/cashcowproduction)
(Andrew Earles)

Liquor Store
"Free Pizza” b/w “Trash Sandwich (Parts 2 & 3)” 7”
(Almost Ready)

As of press-time New Jersey’s Liquor Store boasts six guitarists (at least five of whom definitely cannot be heard on these two songs) and a front man who looks like he should be working at one of those chop shops outside of Shea Stadium in 1986. Stoopid with a capital “O,” the Store is a non-stop fire sale/boner party for those of us who felt “Surfin’ Bird” was a little too deep. I know “trash” gets thrown around these parts regularly as a descriptor, but man, Oscar the Grouch meet your new favorite band. The A-side, “Free Pizza” is exactly that; there’s no one who doesn’t like free pizza, but there’s only one band who decided to write a song about it (and you know what they say, even the worst ’za is pretty good). Snooze you lose, Peter Bjorn and John. The flip, “Trash Sandwich (Parts 2 & 3)” sams and shams and more than lives up to its title. The white sleeve and generic label are perfect, as these guys give you exactly what you need (songs about food) and not a drip more. Liquor Store just might be the worst band in the world, but they’re the best worst band I’ve ever heard. (http://www.almostreadyrecords.com)
(Mike Pace)

Thomas Patrick Maguire
"Divorce Man” b/w “Corporation Town”
(Wemayk Music)

Get it? They make records. This gentleman does acoustic pop with some hinting-at-roots interest without going all out with that bullshit. “Divorce Man” takes sonic and aesthetic parts (aforementioned) that I am predestined to dislike and comes off with one of the maybe 30 to 40 lifelong examples of such that truly moves me. For clarification, said song features absolutely no Americana/No Depression nods and is straight acousti-college-rock (w/ drums and bass) with flawless craftsmanship (albeit with successful use of humor AND melancholy) and a sturdy velocity … all of which bring to mind the best moments of Dumptruck. “Corporation Town” is serviceable but moves along without the repeat-player/free-admission-to-the-keeper-pile quality of its neighbor. On green vinyl. (http://www.thomaspatrickmaguire.com)
(Andrew Earles)

The Mark Sparkles
"Uppers and Downers” b/w “Black Snowflakes” 7”
(Artificial Limb Co./Abandon Hope)

I know the ’90s revival is in full swing, but some scenes don’t need revisiting. The Mark Sparkles could have been Punk Uprisings also-rans for the green haired, big pantsed, Ritalin popping mall punk set of yesteryear. The first 20 seconds of “Uppers and Downers” seem promising in power pop way but the syncopated ska-punk riff and walking bassline snap me back to Sugar Smacks fueled Johnen Vasqez reality, and I feel like I’m picking on the slow kid even reviewing this. “Black Snowflakes” does the gruff voiced thing so you get both traditional flavors, with Alycen chiming in on both tracks. Rebuild the band around her singing, and work on the taste level. It’s got heart, but just ... no. Based on everything I’ve seen I would have guessed that lathe cuts and skankin’ friendly pop punk would have been mutually exclusive? Numbered out of 50. (http://www.myspace.com/themarksparkles)

Martiens Go Home
MGH Plays Ulver 10" EP
(Kalinka Vichy)

You probably don’t have the backstory down, either: Martiens Go Home operates as a radio program on a college radio station in Brussels. The group apparently does a weekly program, but it remains to be seen whether they use all of that archival performance material – primarily field recordings and treatments, ambient drift that falls off far ends of the FM dial – for their releases, as these folks just issued a 10-album set on a USB stick last year. Coming down into the realm of the penetrable, the outfit here interprets black metal band Ulver, which they admit to having come to as a joke. I’m no black metal fan but fine, why not. On the two sides here, we get one effective, ominous creeper that keeps receding and reappearing in and out of the murk, low bass tones and creepy-crawly echo tank noises from beyond taking this from a run-of-the-mill drone exercise into something more. The flip side features a lot of static and low, crowded noise that isn’t as effective. Nice effort on the one track though, definitely a standout in the realm of far too many ambient/drone records that don’t really do much. Sounds better on 45. (http://mgh.constantvzw.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

Charlie McAllister
Country Crème/Victorian Fog LP
(Feeding Tube)

The affected, folksy stylings of Mr. McAllister have been hiding in the backs of record collections for some time now, he of the Calvin Johnson cinderblock man profile, an upfront and almost emotionless singing voice pressed against the back porch ramblers, and the whole goddamn thing recorded through a four-track with treble that is occasionally painful. I couldn’t take it then, and as for these late ’90s recordings, I definitely can’t take it now. Steam as fuck. (http://www.feedingtuberecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 12” EP
(Tic Tac Totally)

Space rock jammers recorded through the living room floor. Why so muffled? Odd mixing makes this definitely sound like a home studio job, with the guitars and vocals coming out a lot cleaner than the grubby rhythm section. Hollers pretty loud, but doesn’t necessarily endear itself to any modern trends, which maybe is why it works. Don’t get me wrong; this sounds pretty bad, but Meercaz has been so consistently on their own path this whole time that the outsiderness of these four songs makes for a key factor in their own battle for originality and strong choices in their field. (http://www.tictactotally.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Dan Melchior
Assemblage Blues LP

More like “Afflicted Dan” from the sound of these recordings, Melchior staring down a pile of tape, a loop pedal, and certainly the most disorienting tracks he’s yet to have on a record. Where Dan Melchior’s solo performance mode has been somewhat restricted to the solo acoustic zone, here he bends to break a subsistence to rock ’n’ roll, instead layering unsettling distortion patterns, synth gurgling, arcs of tape shooting through the studio, and truly wild-flash electric guitar on top of the sort of songs and distinctive voice you’d expect. Without being too showy about it, Melchior casually delivers the strangest of his career, and one of the most alluring thus far, with Assemblage Blues. 500 copies; direct sales from Siltblog will be partially donated to Dan’s partner Letha, who is undergoing cancer treatments. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mi Ami
Dolphins 12" EP
(Thrill Jockey)

The onslaught of rock-trio Mi Ami has now receded, with the departure of bassist Jacob Long, into a new sound. Vocalist (and Dusted staffer) Daniel Martin-McCormick has dropped the guitar in turn, and the group now freestyle-esque pop and house music played on synths, drums and a sample trigger, in the duo formation in which they began. Somehow the electronic version still sounds like the integral part of Mi Ami’s earlier efforts, namely the long arcs of noise stretched out over an air-tight rhythm section which have survived the transition from bloodied guitar strings into komputerwelt. The rhythm has just changed a bit. With the instrumental “Sunrise” they take a nod towards DC compatriots in the Future Times crew (Max Dunnie, Protect-U, Beautiful Swimmers, Steve Summers), stretching out AM prayer praise synth across a vibrating, well-paced bed of tuned drum beats and 4/4 kick. Somehow the last track, the New Order-influenced “Echo,” was my favorite here. Long for an EP, and well-worth your time and money; we hear a great band beginning their third chapter with good ideas and a need to make you dance. (http://www.thrilljockey.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mirrors and Wires
Mercitron 7" EP

This is weird. Headcount Records typically puts out straight forward hc records like Coke Bust (illest band) and Sea Sick. This time around, they jump genres and give us a record from the band Mirrors and Wires. Regardless of who’s serving it up, Mirrors and Wires offer up three songs of surf inspired psychedelia on this record, two without vocals and the title track "Mercitron." The vocals are reminiscent of maybe a less direct Black Lips, high pitched and low in the mix. Everything sounds great on the record, but the music just meanders around touching into some easily forgettable droning surf thing that probably should have never been pressed to vinyl. I can see the target audience of this stuff being acid casualties and people that like things just to be contrary. (http://headcountrecords.com)
(Ben Smartnick)

Goes Canoeing LP
(Tiny Engines)

Late ’90s emo just keeps on going, giving (especially in second-tier markets like DC, where Monument calls home) bands like Monument, whose musical dreams I now crush under the weight of reality. Someone actually compares this band to Meneguar, which is so ridiculous I can’t even believe it. What a reach! Clean cut pop millstone, gleefully pushed by four dreamy-eyed guys who I doubt even believe in the dream anymore, but don’t have the chops or the smarts to take this past the friend-rock boundary. Absolutely no strides are made to advance the agenda of this kind of music, not even an inch. Sloppy but calculated, trying to hit a vague familiarity than run with any real discernible elements; like 45 of these bands boiled and mashed together into mostly lump-free mashed potatoes. Orange vinyl, maybe you can make a bowl out of it and pour some Ruffles in there. (http://www.tinyengines.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Thurston Moore
VDSQ – Solo Acoustic Volume Five LP
(Vin du Select Qualitaire/Thin Wrist)

Discordant ballads that dip into folk aesthetics but mostly stay Thurston-quality acoustic guitar –way chordy, lots of key changes, lots of the sort of bewitched, melancholy journey structure he’s been known to take (think the last song on Psychic Hearts). These are all written in tribute to the late Jack Rose, and the songs are all named after ales enjoyed by the departed folk guitar visionary. There’s no way Thurston could play like Jack Rose, but that’s not the point. There’s real discordant beauty here that goes a long way to capturing the larger-than-life spirit of Rose than any faithful, trepidatious soundalike ever would. Last two tracks “De Ryck and Dubbel” and “Lord Chesterfield II” are my favorites, I need to check out those beers (unless Lord Chesterfield is referring to Yuengling’s side brand, because I’ve had that and am not running back) 1000 copies, from a series that just gets better and better. (http://www.vdsqrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Movie Star Junkies
In a Night Like This 10" EP
(Kill Shaman/Ghost)

Junkyard rockers from the Boot go half on a Birthday Party-esque wild electric stalker vibe, the other half on Roma-induced static caravan ripoff/roof patching scam/throwing-mustard-on-you-then-cleaning-it-up-while-lifting-your-wallet style dishonesty. Unsurprisingly, both approaches work for the desired effect: garage eeriness and swingin’ sledge from some Euro dudes who try to recreate others’ pasts in their own present. Fun record, for sure, but most of this band’s output is. Four songs. (http://www.killshaman.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mueran Humanos
s/t LP
(Blind Prophet)

Sean Ragon, of Cult of Youth and the Blind Prophet label, sent a really nice note exclaiming his love for this newest release of his. I can’t blame him for the gushing – this one is something special, a co-ed, Berlin-via-Buenos Aires duo that distills a fairly wide set of inspiration (minimal synth, Goth, electro-cabaret, post-punk, rock ’n’ roll) into a seamless, seductive whole. Part of my problem with the whole throwback/min synth revival is the limited palette by which many of the artists who fly the flag find themselves obligated to carry. In less-experienced hands, this sort of mindset can produce great boredom. NONE of that is on display here – Carmen and Tomas play with synths, guitars, basses, and drum programs to novel and passionate ends, employing familiar and even tongue-in-cheek sounds (check the faux theremin tuning up the sex pulse in the slow rocker “Corazon Doble”) to a dark and beautiful end. There’s a lot to uncover in this one, and even the most jaded electro fans will likely be surprised at the level of craft and creeping filth seeping out from around the edges. Don’t let the garish cover art set you off; maybe turn this record around when guests are coming over. But definitely turn it on, and let it turn you on. That unexpected orgy with your closest friends is right around the corner. Next to the new Silk Flowers album, 2011 will be very hard pressed to repeat this kind of quality in electronic-based music. 1000 numbered copies. (http://www.blindprophetrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Matthew Mullane
VDSQ Solo Acoustic Volume Four LP
(Vin du Select Qualitaire/Thin Wrist)

Representing the village of Hiram, OH, a Northeastern hamlet between Cleveland and Youngstown, by way of Chicago (where he also performs as Mego recording artist Fabric) Matthew Mullane presents two sides of elegant, fluid acoustic guitar instrumentals, a longform suite with gentle buildups that are distinguished without being overdone or meandering. When he finally does break into a pattern, the grace in which the melodies flow is very worth noticing. Mullane seems more polished and a bit more stoic than the wild, rambling folk that’s come of age in recent years, but that’s fine; he plays an ever-so-slight counterpart role with dignity and reserve. Beautiful music. 200 copies, letterpressed sleeve. (http://www.vdsqrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

My Mind
"Fed Up With My Self” one-sided 12”

First 12” vinyl out of this intriguing Philadelphia band, and first vinyl release from Asheville, NC’s local record store, Harvest Records. Before whatever’s left of EMI files suit, grab this crazy l’il record, limited to some insane quantity like 100 copies. My Mind kicks off one giant composition here, a shaky, constantly-developing tear down through a proggy pop-punk mindset, enough riffs for about two albums’ worth of quirky Pixies-esque rock jammed together in a seamless, utterly inspiring run. Vocals and in particular harmonies play a big part of the action here, bridging together the disparate parts of the piece and providing much-needed balance against the roaring shifts of the instrumental track. Reminiscent of Heavy Vegetable in their casual attitude and rigorous structure, but don’t let names from the ’90s scare you. Quite a nice piece of work here, pressed onto clear vinyl with an ouroboros screened through the other side. (http://www.harvest-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

No Class
Keine Klasse LP

Silly speed-punk from some edgy people who like to yell “fucking bitch” in the middle of a song. One ear out the other type execution from some really tough customers. MANFEELINGS. You know ’em, they sing ’em. Mysterious guy HC … how about anonymous guy HC? Article comments HC? Here we go … to nowhere. White vinyl. (http://www.derangedrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mind Control CS
(Dub Ditch Picnic)

One side of this sounds like a three or four second snippet of every piece of music this artist has attempted in the past year (and probably a lot that were borrowed), played in sequence. If there’s a good idea in there, it’s almost instantly discarded in favor of the next one, and so on and so forth. Might be good for an art gallery but I couldn’t wait for it to end. The other side is your standard beachy three-chord warbly VHS synth/guitar progression. I bought a Walkman recently to cover the guilt of receiving so many cassettes that don’t get reviewed in a timely fashion, and I’ve decided to make my commutes to and from the office a little more productive by listening to a tape or two off the pile each day. This one wasn’t good walking around music, to be certain. It was also short enough that the tape was finished before the train pulled into my station. Floaty and stoney farts from Canada, couldn’t knock the white cap off Russ Waterhouse’s head. Won’t be listening to this again. (http://dubditchpicnicrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Notes from the Acheron one-sided 12” EP

Fastest of the four Deranged releases to hit the inbox in recent weeks, the Nomos hail from some dingy part of Brooklyn but absolutely floor it with burly, riff-oriented, occasionally metallic hardcore. Storming and immediate, these six songs are on top of you before you know what the deal is, racing through each song, jumping off one mosh part to another breakdown with single-minded purpose and insane volume. Cro-Mags style breakdowns complete this crazy little package. Etched B-side and large poster included. (http://www.derangedrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Nude Beach
s/t LP

Heart-on-sleeve power pop meets a near pop-punk jump around sensibility, courtesy of a Brooklyn band that’s got a heart in the right place, and music to match. I get a real Jersey/Springsteen feel to these songs, sort of where that Titus Andronicus band has headed, only without the spam program “ipsum lorum” style word dump of a vocalist or any sort of concepts more complex than “I want you, let’s smoke up” or “the night” or “conjoin with my groin.” It’s cool when a band like this finds its high points in the ballads and slower songs – “No One But You” and “The Mountain or the Moon” could easily end up on a latter-day Powerpearls comp, such is the quality of their tough, lonesome sound and killer hooks. Hands up! Great times. (http://www.mandiblerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP
(Tic Tac Totally)

"That’s No Way to Rock ’n’ Roll” b/w “Got More Love” 7”
(Super Secret)

Austin’s OBN IIIs (named after singer Orville Bateman Neeley) get it right once on their pair of 7”s. The lesser: “That’s No Way to Rock n Roll” is boilerplate garage rock for sweaty, beer hurling Fonzarellis, with a nondescript “rock n roll ooh baby” quality and two shred sessions. The flip plods along chanting “it gets so hiiiiigh,” and because they are high on drugs, it’s a slower song before it speeds up. They don’t actually say “ooh baby,” but it’s strongly implied. But the Tic Tac Totally single finds the band hitting that “City Slang” proto-punk pocket, lithe and tough the way a really skinny guy with no chest hair could be tough in the ’70s. It’s got the right mix of guts, thick guitars, memorable songs, and a dingy recording that gives it all a sense of urgency. This all gets tied together between Neeley’s wailing and founding Strange Boys drummer Matt Hammer’s metronome beats. Tic Tac Totally 7” easily wins the shootout. (http://www.tictactotally.com) (http://www.supersecretrecords.com)

Pink Reason
Desperate Living 7" EP
(Almost Ready)

After the dust settles and the music historians of the future sit down to assess the indie music of the first decade of the 2000s, Pink Reason will most likely be remembered for three things: 1.) The majestic Cleaning the Mirror LP from 2007. Released by Siltbreeze, it sounds like a claustrophobic American-ized version of ’80s New Zealand home taper bands like This Kind of Punishment and is one of the best records of the century so far. 2.) Turning in some of the absolute worst live performances of all time, and 3). Turning the western world on to the great existential Siberian folk punk of Yanka and Gradhzdanskya Oborona via interviews and guest spots on Brian Turner’s WFMU radio shows. Two out of three isn’t bad. However, this 7” seems like a misstep and will also probably fall the wayside of the Pink Reason story. This doesn’t sound like any other Pink Reason record and is a foray into forgettable mid tempo Amphetamine Reptile style noise rock, heavy on the wah-wah pedal. The V-3 cover on the B side fares better than the originals on the A side, but this 7” is best forgotten. Let’s hope Pink Reason doesn’t continue in this direction. (http://www.almostreadyrecords.com)
(Chris Strunk)

Followed by a Wraith LP
(Amethyst Sunset)

Ominous, overloaded bass/noise/rhythm/processed vocal duo that understands the lingering effects of shock, and plays close to the naphtha in a beyond-industrial context. That Sword Heaven’s Mark Van Fleet is part of this project comes as little surprise, but the jaw-busting pound of that project’s dark undoings is traded off here for a close-talking, guttural, altogether ugly and miserable sound. It would do Boy Dirt Car proud, maybe, jagged rituals that indicates the section of Bands Inspired By Wolf Eyes has softened, and the chunks that are falling off the back are mutating into their own notions of how to put the creep on. They also cover enough ground that when a spaghetti western-themed guitar instrumental (in “Keep Searching”) closes the record, we’re not really that surprised, and are kind of into it. Good reach, good record. 200 copies, paste-on sleeve. (http://www.amethystsunset.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Different Thinking People LP

From my college radio days I remember this lot, as well as their label Ladd-Frith, as residents of the cassette bin, these U.S. Mail crates filled with experimental and noise tapes we had wedged under the LP shelves. Psyclones recorded these tracks in the first half of the ’80s, performing as a duo (Brian Ladd and Julie Frith, still in operation today in other capacities) in a space created entirely by them; an arty, detached, yet maniacal conduit for a mix of tape destruction, synth waves and 5 A.M. flu dream reality. At their most normal (“What Goes On”), they sound a bit like a DEVO that was truly free from all corporate influence, but they’re never really that normal, so the steaming murk, deconstructed compositions and skeletal rhythms (“Weak As a Sheep,” nothing more than bass and drums to Frith’s hissing takedown, a fractured dub speedball that drapes over the night like an amoebic film (and the whole second side of this record) shifts from a product of simply weird minds into fully confrontational, almost obscene flights through the ether. Not every track is a winner, what you might expect from a group that changed its approach between songs, but the best stuff hits in a way that none of the latter-day witch house or collage-strewn children can muster. A collection of flyers on the inner sleeve frames an open letter to the public from the band, in which they declare themselves appalled at their positive response opening for X in an Arcata, CA club, and vow to quit performing as a result. That sort of double-edged publicity puts a finer point on a very interesting collection of material. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rabid Rabbit
C Section one-sided 12"
(Still a Secret)

This Chicago quartet (bass, guitar, sax and drums) lays out a looooooooooooong, sustained, droning intro to this acrid-smelling slab, a teaser that leads into a two-chord purple kush ball crusher that’s heavier than a post-Kuma’s bowel movement, and about as firm. For as heavy as this thing lets on, the Guitar Center-quality guitar metal solo that wanders around in the 12 minute mark lets you see the suburban roots and the glass ceiling of this sort of music all at once, it being heavy and all but not a hair on “Charmicarmicat,” “Dopesmoker,” or a comparable predecessor. 250 copies, wax-sealed inside a thick, kinda sticky silkscreened/craft paper sleeve. This is three years old, and copies are “sold out” I suppose. Hmmmm. (http://rabidrabbitmusic.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rat Columns
s/t CS
(Grave New World/ROS)

Mostly solo recordings from San Fran-via-Perth musician David West, late of the great band Rank/Xerox (who are undergoing a legally-mandated name change, but have otherwise been far too quiet) and Aussie HC outfit Burning Sensations. This cross-continental enfant terrible fits in quite well in the cassette netherworlds, a clearinghouse of styles and noises too disparate to warrant wider release but working quite nicely here. West plays a mix of noisy melodic pop that doesn’t skimp on the hooks, some post-punk influenced rock, and noise/loop experiments in a manner that sounds quite modern for how dated the references are; for those following along with our tally, it’s a nice aside to the Merchandise LP (which is still getting lots of play at my place), not afraid to draw things out or experiment but keeping on the pulse of accessibility, at least for the most part – tracks like “Looking At You” will surely try the patience of those who showed up for songs. Still, pretty good, and a nice aside from someone worth watching. (http://www.gravenewworld.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Raw Blow
"Purple Haze” b/w “Bawlin” 7”
(no label)

I’d heard a bunch about Raw Blow before this single ever arrived in my hands, and everyone was using “hip-hop” to describe it. Aside from popular songs being sampled as the backbone for these two tracks, I see no comparison, nor need to link this work to anything in the genre. Raw Blow is three members of Pittsburgh’s long-gone favorites the Johnsons Big Band, including vocalist T. Glitter (also of forevzz faves the Dirty Faces) along with Dreadnots member Eric Yeschke on sampler and electronics. Drums and upright bass mixing with the wise old sass of Glitter’s ranting – here extolling the benefits of a certain strain of cannabis to the jaunty riff of the Rascals’ “Good Lovin” on “Purple Haze,” and raunchy nursery rhymes to the stomp of some off-brand ? and the Mysterians cut – wanna say “96 Tears” but it might be the other one that sounds just like it – on the flip “Bawlin.” Swanky, repetitive rock/roll dance party, proof that maybe Girl Talk doesn’t hold down every inch of the reappropriation battle at Fort Pitt, and that the grown-ups like to have fun too. Excellent work by some fine folks, pressed up under cover of night. Good times, great oldies. Buy now before it’s sued out of existence. 300 copies, purple vinyl, spray-stenciled sleeves. (http://www.myspace.com/rawblowpgh)
(Doug Mosurock)

Jeff Rehnlund
Smoke from the Mirror LP
(Hot Releases)

Emo-noise, vaguely singer-songwriter style effort from brutalist Rehnlund, hiding behind a curtain of guitar/mixer distortion, and bashing out some big, heartachin’ chords before decimating them with feedback and overdrive. When this works, it’s totally on fire, the same way it was with Xiu Xiu early on. But there are points (like overlong, unmanageable tape piece “Mirror” that take away from the best approach this guy has. At least we get one last taste of it with closing dirge “Zom.” Interesting approach which I hope will be developed further along in future efforts. (http://hot-releases.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

Strange Behavior 12" EP
(Paper + Plastick)

Philadelphia-based turd polishers Restorations seem to think you can borrow moves from a bunch of other bands and make something meaningful. These guys linger in the lonely econ major sort of territory, bordered by the Hold Steady, Jawbreaker and even Pavement on the last track, and they really don’t do much other than arrange those pieces – the triumphant riff with the solemn, gruff lead vocal, gets wheeled out over and over, reminds you of better bands with more distinct presence, and allows you to move on, unaffected and free for the evening. Nothing to remember here, please move on. Blue vinyl. (http://paperandplastick.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

"Guilty Pleasure Blues” b/w “Let’s Go Chromin’” 7”

Another Australian garage/pop band, this one with two distinct sides that are well captured on record. “Guilty Pleasure Blues” traverses a ’60s psych-into-’70s soft rock sort of breeziness at heart, but mostly sounds like the well-tanned, healthy spirit of rock ’n’ roll bands from that country. The way those songs play out, like “77 Sunset Strip” by the Riptides, is this mutation of the Beach Boys, a Coke commercial, soccer hooliganism, scorched-earth hard rock and Iggy into this really exciting sound, and when this one hits the chorus, you feel those same vibes. “Let’s Go Chromin’” on the flip is another beast entirely, hard-stompin’ teen garage, the singer now deciding to scream and bark the nature of the activities when one happens to go chromin’. They kick the tires of this genre pretty hard and wind up with a winner, vaguely reminiscent of Boys From Nowhere. Nice. (http://aarghtrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sex Church
"209” b/w “Paralyze” 7”

I can’t decide if the Hookup Klub is really the proper place for Sex Church. On one finger, and against the good of the band, I don’t want the whole world getting into Sex Church. On another digit, Sex Church should be heard by as many people (the dears AND the dipshits) as possible. And on the third (middle) finger, not everyone will “get” where this band is coming from. So what to do? Beats me. I will state that an eyebrow is always raised when I see ’33 1/3 RPM’ on a Hozac single, but after my 25th spin of what might, if any justice remained in the giant litter-box of life, this band would be a serious game-changer.

Sex Church utilizes several big no-no’s with Generation Comments Section: 1. Buried, mostly-unintelligible vocals used as another layer or hook-supporter. See, vocals have come up to the front in recent years for a very simple reason: Dipshits need to have everything spelled out for them. The underlying cause is at the back of the bus, where you’ll find general imagination and individual meaning in the song + listener relationship. 2. Actual noise. If you’ve even flirted with the idea of paying attention, then you’ve noticed that a large section of what’s understood as the “underground” (Bitchgaze, BlankStareCore, ClollageCore, Post-Good, etc) has a debilitating noise/loudness allergy. Sex Church pile on the noise and bury the vocals back far enough to require a little imagination on the part of the listener. The sound has that perfect Hugeness-Confined feel of great ’90s records that HAD to settle for shit recordings but brought it live … the potential can be heard here, and unless Sex Church star (or cameo) in Honey, I Shrunk The Best Band On Hozac and are made to play inside of a toaster oven, there’s no way this band could replicate THIS sound in a live setting.

Point is, they require some more imagination and true processing power … some skills many lack these days. I will lay down hard or easily-earned scratch for everything with this band’s name on it. I suggest you do … no, I COMMAND you to do the same. (http://hozacrecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

s/t LP
(Sorry State)

New nasty/nihilistic punk rock refurbishment band from North Carolina, featuring three guys from Whatever Brains (great band, kinda wish this was their LP instead…) and a big ginger beardo who runs out into the crowd and knocks into people. Musically they take cues from the snottier side and do a pretty admirable job of not making it a boring listen; these guys have already proven elsewhere that they can play, and they write catchy riffs and put them in songs that go somewhere. The prevailing notion is that all the hate-porn sentiments in here (“Breeder Scum,” several pro-suicide songs … at least they’re on the same page with this, a misguided step called “Watersports Olympics” where the singer is asking for someone to piss blood down his throat) is slightly tongue-in-cheek, or possibly rooted in historical perversions, as the image of Edgar Allen Poe on the cover might reflect. I saw these guys play last night and none of the content really came through, though they did have a sign up on their merch box saying that they would trade records/shirts for pills. Essentially you’re not going to get anything but the beer knocked out of your hand if you see them live, and you’ll probably end up with more than you bargained for with the actual record. On the plus side, the picture on the inner gatefold is kind of funny, there’s another joke in two of the band members being named Evan Williams and William Evans (ha), and the extended outro/prank was unexpected and kinda fun. All told, though, I really don’t know what to do with a band like this, and listening to their record again isn’t something I’m probably gonna do. Reminds me of really early Blood Brothers but more punk, and I’ll bet these guys have been hard up on failed-parenting cases like Total Abuse in the past. Do with that what you may. (http://www.sorrystaterecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Singleman Affair
Silhouettes at Dawn LP
(Cardboard Sangria)

Singer-songwriter affair is more like it (featuring Chicago notables like Joshua Abrams in the ensemble backing band), though if a band is actually marketing itself as a place where single men can congregate in their singleness, that’s kind of a great idea. There’s sort of a URL dropcard silent chuckle/mild joke here, in that the albums title is taxonomized down to simply “sad” – that’s about right, given the approximations of isolation and remembrance, as rendered through a crack studio group, through robust arrangements that borrow from classics of the genre without imitating them. Dan Schneider’s very believable, passionate delivery pushes what could have been a pretty ordinary affair into one that’s quite special in its own ways. (http://www.cardboardsangria.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Soft Encounters
s/t one-sided 10”
(Monofonus Press)

Not an Austin thing at all, which is strange for an ATX label – almost all of them seem largely committed to documenting what’s going on in that town alone. Certainly there’s enough bands to go around and then some. Still, a nice find here from ex-Ex Models Luke Fasano and Zach Lehrhoff (maybe they moved there? Have not seen either in NYC for a while), in a crunching, tribal mode, a whole squadron of heavy, flanged drumming with spare, somewhat harsh high-pitched electronic loops and treated, stuttered vocals on top. Adjective-comma-adjective music for sure, but it won’t take much for most people into a wilder, freer notion of rock-based experiments to get into. There’s a brief coda of some sort, mostly some half-riffs and a slightly neon, off-kilter drum beat pumping menacingly in the back. Cool. Silkscreened back sleeve, a far cry from the 10” appliqués Monofonus was slapping on the backs of these last year.(http://www.monofonuspress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Soft Healer
s/t one-sided 10”
(Monofonus Press)

Two softies from spotty Austin imprint (Soft Healer and Soft Encounters) bring about a classier, all around better side to the story than was hoped for or expected. Captured Tracks artist Soft Healer pushes off with style and grace on their original “Grand Isle,” a long, slow burner that leverages the stockings-on-the-lava-lamp feel of most any David Roback project (Opal, Mazzy Star, etc.) with loungey, saxified trappings and some powerful female vocals that really rise to the occasion in the chorus. Like statemates Balaclavas, the group does quite well at rolling in the corners and swelling with near-furious intent at the choruses when called upon to do so. Sounds like a great backyard sorta band, at a party where everyone is gonna hook up. As an afterthought they do a similarly relaxed cover of the Zero Boys’ “Civilization’s Dying” – methinks I’d like to perish along with these folks if that had to be the case. Quite a nice little record here, with an eye-searing silver silkscreen on the flipside. Good job. (http://www.monofonuspress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ramon Speed
Effulgence and Alacrity 7” EP

Wimpy mushmouthed snorewads that perused a dictionary before they named their EP and fancied themselves literate enough to include a lyric sheet with their 7”. Guy sings like he has a dirty sock in his yap (which if he doesn’t, he deserves) and the band takes one four five and runs with it like they are being chased by the Wolf Man. They try to switch it up sometimes and go for a more morose dramatic tone which works out like trying to fix a broken leg by setting your arm on fire. (http://www.unread-records.com)
(Bob Claymore)

s/t 10” EP

From the quickly evaporating pool of Euro-stoner rock bands with vaguely unrealistic career ambitions comes Spiders, with a guitarist from Witchcraft (and his wife) and a drummer from Graveyard working in a tuff/flash late ’60s hard rock vein, complete with a female vocalist/sexpot in Ann-Sofie Hoyles – compared by her record label to ultra-specific examples like the Shocking Blue’s Mariska Veres and Coven’s Jinx Dawson – who’s working harder than this music deserves. I’m a fan of this stuff when it sounds a little earthier and less compressed than the four songs here, which mine an indeterminate psych/garage sound as it gets steamrolled by early metal and progressive rock, but like so many other bands playing the history game, Spiders don’t bring anything new to the conversation. The few moments of inspiration, as in the warlike guitar break in “Gracious Man,” come from a place where all the surface ideas are out and shining, but the heart and soul of the music they’re aping is nowhere to be found. Much like Witchcraft, if you think about it. You’re honestly better off digging for copies of the Rattles’ “The Witch” 45 than going after this bloodless imitation. (http://www.crusherrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Tin Horn Prayer
Get Busy Dying LP
(Bermuda-Mohawk Production)

Ahem. “Ever wonder what it would sound like if the Lawrence Arms and Uncle Tupelo got into a bar fight?” What? No! (http://www.myspace.com/tinhornprayer)
(Doug Mosurock)

Topaz Rags
"Crown Center” b/w “You Go On” 7”
(Not Not Fun)

This rec barely has a cover, just genero lo-rez photocopy and halfassed scrawl, the vinyl is bright pink w. black label and no obvious way to discern the different songs. The mystery adds to it, two droney numbers with echoed whatnots ping ponging around a catchy bassline. The hypnotic vibe might work better with an LP, giving your prefrontal cortex a little time to take its shoes off and relax instead of the too-brief snippet. Not gonna listen to this all the time, but looking forward to more. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Bob Claymore)

Tortured Tongues
Let Me Down 7" EP

The problem with playing self loathing, drugged out and sloppy punk is that if you don’t actually want to die, your music sucks. That kinda happens here, but there’s always hope, or in Tortured Tongues case, no hope left. The title track is a tough one to get through, with the vocalist either drugged to the point of no longer making words, or he is just retarded. Either way, it’s one of those situations where it makes the listener uncomfortable and pushes away instead of drawing you in. The B side seems like a mess, but is a little more energetic and direct, with the song “Feed the Flys” but then devolves into the song “To Death” without a break, just hurling itself from one song to the next. This is one of those bands that is probably best seen live, as I’m sure the effect is better received. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Ben Smartnick)

Unholy Two
$kum of the Earth LP
(Columbus Discount)

Ohio gtr/drums duo, back at it after a couple of singles. Thee Unholy Two dive straight into the trash, at times piling the noise on so thick that the rhythms of the songs simply disappear, only to come back out of the torrents of shit spewed out from reverb and delay units running through the vocal mic and the layers of shit distortion and electronics encrusting the guitar. There’s form here, in the 2/4 percussive stomp which gives the proceedings a distinctive NYC 1985 feel (drummer plays like Bob Bert without the gas tank, or maybe Russell Simins in prime Bluesxplosive mode). Gets wilder the longer it gets on, and dances around losing its shape altogether, which is daring and somehow works despite itself – if you were looking for riffs, search around your feet because these guys melted ’em into the asphalt a ways back. Overdriven just to the point of caricature, but mercifully the Unholy Two stops short of a total abandon of substance, having created the appropriate soundtrack to that jar of raw chicken and milk you so carefully sealed into the crawlspace of your enemy’s home. Band name appears nowhere on this one, so you’ll have to identify it by look. (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP
(Youth Attack)

I would strongly suggest you read the next few lines of this review sitting down, because I’m about to drop some seriously world shattering information for you. Ready? Mark McCoy is in another band- and it’s another super group. Yes, I know. Sit down, on the couch. Put your feet up. Think about what has just happened. The hardcore equivalent to Hailey’s Comet has happened upon us. Hug your loved ones. Call in the children. This time McCoy has enlisted some former band mates from The Oath as well as welcoming in some new blood with singer Michael Berdan. Once inspecting the lineup, all preconceived notions are mostly correct. Veins play noisey, lo-fi, loose hardcore punk, very much like the Oath’s first two releases, drawing a heavy influence from all the obvious bands: Void, Neos, Negative Approach. What sets this record apart from the rest of the scummy, self indulgent lo-fi drivel that has been passing for hardcore these days is that this record would be good with or without the layers of feedback and hiss. Veins manages to keep it short and sweet with solid riffs in each song, a few well executed breakdowns, recorded with just enough fidelity to do the songs justice, all the while staying raw as fuck to keep it dangerous. (http://www.ihateyouthattack.com)
(Ben Smartnick)

Virgin Forest
Joy Atrophy LP
(Heart Break Beat)

Soft countrified rock, expertly played by most of the band Phosphorescent. Pleasant enough, but gives very little hope for a follow-up; this is the kind of contemporary blue-state adult music that is 12 for 10 cents (“maybe where you come from…”), anonymously sad and feeling of the variety of record that would get shopped to random indie labels like the one I used to run back in the ’90s and ’00s. Wouldn’t consider it then, nor now, but expect to hear this one in an indie film at some point, something less exciting than, say, reading even a decent book. (http://heartbreakbeatrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Than On Eother And You Have Answers LP
(Hot Releases)

Electro-cabaret postpunk, by way of duct-tape masks and spam email verbiage, a weirdness that has been curated rather than grown into. The music of VVAQRT, at least at this point, leads to art school conceptualizing and critical thought about consumerism and the economy, jammed up with binary melodies and flopping around in the digital music box of a female lifeform that is the only kind of its species – highly aware and intelligent, humanoid in nature, but odd and different enough to scare the punters. Further down the rabbit hole than Lene Lovich, the Scissor Girls, maybe even Mens Recovery Project. Strangely listenable though – Ms. VVAQRT definitely has a good grasp on melodies and arrangements. Compelling hi-NRG, lo-tech synth pop. (http://hot-releases.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

White Whale
s/t 7” EP
(no label)

Trashy melodic punk from Buffalo that would have bowled me over in “1995,” (second best song on here, right behind “We’re Dead”), but I’ll still give it a pass sixteen years later, because c’mon, you and I will always have a place in our hearts for shit like this. You can smell the piss n’ vinegar from Duff’s wings in these tracks. “We’re Dead” is the winner here, a thorny blast of catchy barbed vitriol that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the ol’ Viva La Vinyl comp that had the best J. Church song on it. There’s a lyric in it that either goes “you wanna fuck my life,” or “you wanna fuck my wife” and if it’s the later, it’s proof that at some point, the punks grow old and get married and all dogs go to heaven. Four songs, over in about five minutes. (http://www.thepalewhale.com)
(Mike Pace)

Wild Flag
"Glass Tambourine” b/w “Future Crimes” 7”

Given the bench depth of talent, the overall notion that a band like theirs brings to the fairly tired ideas at play in modern rock ’n’ roll, and the promise within both of these, people were proclaiming their love for Wild Flag before hearing a single note. As they play their first 30 shows, they prove all of these people right, that we can find something lost in the past and bring it back to sound like it never went away. I’m referring of course to the overall power that was present in Sleater-Kinney, the songwriting and tone library of Mary Timony, who inadvertently called the whole neon hippie unicorn notions in indie rock that blossomed over the last decade, and the power and confidence present in a meeting of the two. Everyone involved in Wild Flag – Timony, Carrie Brownstein, Rebecca Hall and Janet Weiss – has a storied past in rock and pop music to pull back from, but together they are defying expectations, making music that builds off of their individual personalities, sidesteps into hazy ’60s psych (“Glass Tambourine”) and picks up the fight (“Future Crimes”), both with the strongest melodies and deceptively challenging structures. I believe in this band, and it feels great to know they will make more music. When I saw them at Radio City a few weeks ago they were performing at a level far beyond what’s represented on this 7”. I cannot wait to see them play again, or for their full-length. (http://www.mergerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Death Drive 10" EP

It may not be fair to call Wrnlrd black metal, because at that point where does the line stop? Not that it has to. All I keep thinking about is the narrow field of play, and how a group like Arlington, VA’s Wrnlrd – who, like fellow thinkalikes Locrian, push (though not always forward) the tailored definition of blackened misery with lots of non-traditional instruments and intentional weirdness grounding as a means for putting that fine arts degree to use – manage to end up taking the listener out of the moment at times. Bring Dwid in for some guest vocal test? That’s good. Putting slide guitar and yakety sax beneath him? Ruined the moment. Heavy doom riffs are forced to complete with wacky synthesizer squiggles; they lose out, but why have it mucking up the tarpit brutality of the title track in the first place? While this publication is all for people trying something new musically, it helps to have an idea or destination in mind other than “scrambled” when you’re out executing those goals in a studio, for release to the public. Some truly dark and harrowing moments compete with some “Quorthon Shreds”-level material for one guaranteed weird time, on the weirdest format, tuned into WYBN-FM. (http://www.flingcosound.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Young
"Sweet” b/w “Swollen” 7”
(Mexican Summer)

I’d wager that everyone reading this has heard, or even used, the term “game-changer” in regards to an example of especially effective innovation or inspiration, artistic or otherwise. If you want to hear a “game-changer” in the world of potentially decent-to-great rock music, look no further than “Swollen,” hiding on the b-side of a 7” when it should be the opening track when album #2 is brainstormed (maybe this already happened? … the brainstorming, that is). It evokes that wordless frame of mind focusing mainly a daydream based around chasing some purely fantastical, real but unattainable or real AND attainable (have some confidence, people!) future romantic casualty for which you have three words (“all afternoon long”). Or, if you are a music writer, therefore a frustrated or failed musician, the daydream simply consists of playing this song with a roomful of similar romantic casualties in attendance. It’s a fantasy as old as your masturbation timeline, and if you are a music geek, that shit always has a soundtrack. Remember the song “Porno” by Clinic? Probably not. Remember Clinic? Surely you remember how great Internal Wrangler felt upon first listen, only to be blown clear out of the park by one track (I already mentioned it) from a previous EP? You know, if I could properly articulate the greatness of this single, I’d be writing my fifth book, not my 5,824th record review. Recommended for those of you with working ears. #’d edition of 500. (http://www.mexicansummer.com)
(Andrew Earles)

The Zoltars
s/t 7” EP

Do you like simplistic, goofy punk played by a couple of weird dudes that sounds like The Urinals while pulling off the quiet-loud-quiet-loud that The Pixies managed to master? Of course you do. Do you like Daniel Johnston? Yes, you do. You now also like The Zoltars. This is 4 tracks of the type of punk that math majors make, songs about batman, voodoo, killing people and not caring. Cool stuff. Pretty refreshing to hear someone tackle these topics finally. The songs are so simple and direct that the obvious home recording does not hold the music back one bit. Buy this. (http://www.sundaerecords.com)
(Ben Smartnick)

Various Artists
Casual Victim Pile II LP

We get a lot of records in at Still Single, but if asked to narrow it down by region, we get the most music from Australia, Olympia, WA, and Austin, TX – in fact I’d say Austin is tied with an entire continent in terms of how many bands and labels operating down there are more than happy to send in their products for a full and stringent evaluation. Maybe the small press theory is enough to sustain any band in the Live Music Capital, along with the various pockets of interest that foment outside that city’s limits. You can move 300 copies of a 7” after all. Maybe. Point is, Austin could probably shut its doors entirely for a while, if need be, and would have a nearly self-sustaining family of bands that could keep things growing twisted and inward for the next few generations. Last year’s Casual Victim Pile comp took a big chance on exposing some of the better/not-quite-careerist acts in the city, as many of them made the push for greater recognition (The Young, Woven Bones, Harlem among others). This time, curator Gerard Cosloy shoulders the responsibility of a new volume on his own with 18 songs by 18 bands, and like the last one, it works really well as a scene document as it would the memories of a very fortunate night at Beerland. First side is nearly all punk or some flavor of it, the best examples coming from the GG-meets-Feederz shitpunk of Women in Prison, the gruff, ugly rambunctiousness of Naw Dude, and the atonal post-punk dorm sling of Hatchet Wound. The flipside moves more into the nightmeat, with some challenging ideas by Coma in Algiers, big Walkmen-style pop from A Giant Dog, and shredding melodic noise from Serious Tracers and the French Inhalers. With the styles at play here and general attitude, this could have come out in 1985, a testament to the overall purity of purpose within Austin’s feral, fuck-you gentry. White vinyl, 500 copies, silkscreened sleeves. (http://www.12xu.net)
(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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