El Jesus de Magico – Scalping the Guru LP

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Label: Columbus Discount Records
Listen: Myspace (the songs on tthis LP aren’t on their player but still, if you haven’t heard them, get an idea…)
Buy: Scratch

Here’s what I was going to do: I was going to write a big, long post detailing the latest batch of releases from Columbus Discount Records. Then, I realized that despite me enjoying the Pillow Talk 7″ a LOT, I didn’t have much different to say than what CDR’s website has to say about it, that I didn’t have much at all to say about the Outer Spacist 7″ (it’s good), and that the Dan Melchior is…Dan Melchior (note: not a bad thing).

However, as you might have guessed, the El Jesus de Magico LP that was released with the above is the one that really caught me off-guard. Up until now, what I’ve heard of these guys (namely the Funeral Home Sessions and Unclean Ghost 7-inches) gave no indication that they were about to put something like Scalping the Guru out. Until now, they’ve been putting out some pretty exceptional lo-fi psych-punk jams and if they continued in this direction, I doubt many would have complained.

Their new LP, Scalping the Guru, is something else. El Jesus de Magico decided to go all kraut rock on us, creating 2009’s first possible best-of-the-year contender. What does it sound like? Imagine these guys trying to cover Amon Duul II’s longer, heavier dirges, somewhat failing to recreate the former’s sound (El Jesus is a little less on the proggy side) but succeeding completely in creating a new sound for themselves. These songs strike a perfect balance between abstract/jammy and a psych sound that is completely focused.

My only complaint is that the whole record is barely longer than half an hour and when you’ve got a kraut-y sound like that of Scalping the Guru, that’s barely enough.

While this record is sold out almost everywhere, Scratch apparently still has it on sale. Don’t blow it.

Death – …For the Whole World To See LP

Previously on Seven Ten Twelve…

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Label: Drag City
Listen: Myspace or Chunklet (for mp3s)

Today, February 17th, marks the release date of Drag City’s newest reissue, Death’s …For the Whole World To See.

The backstory of this record is admittedly less fascinating than Drag City’s other recent reissue icon, J.T. IV. For the sake of not telling a story again word for word, let’s make it short. Basically, three guys from Detroit formed a band. In 1974, they recorded a full-length for Columbia Records. Said label wanted them to change their band name to something more marketable. They said no and instead, self-released the Politicians In My Eyes 7″ in 1976. Since then, that 7″ has become a highly sought-after collector’s item.

However, like J.T. IV, the story has resulted in a fantastic record. The seven tracks on …For the Whole World To See have been called a literal predecessor to the Bad Brains. While I can hear it, Death sound a lot more like a traditional rock’n’roll band than the Bad Brains’ punk style. Not that I’m complaining, I just think Thin Lizzy would be a more suitable comparison to make, if you’re into that kind of thing (and the recording date of this predates the release of Jailbreak by two years!). I really want to single out tracks to highlight on here but hell, with only seven tracks, all of them are worthy of classic rock anthem status. These should be played on classic rock radio, and it would be, if said radio stations had a farther reach.

As far as I know, Drag City has sold out of the LPs on pre-orders but check the distros listed at the side. Soon enough, they should have some in. Better yet, check your local record store if they have it in. Copies of this, I hear, are not as scarce as the J.T. IV LP (which has just been repressed, as a matter of fact).

The Marked Men – Ghosts LP

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Label: Dirtnap
Listen: Punknews (Stream the whole record! Even in super-low quality!)
Buy: Goner

One of the reasons I love the Marked Men is that they are succinct. They come in, make their point, and leave as quickly as they came. Leaves you wanting more, which I guess is ultimately what every good band should achieve. On their new record, Ghosts, their songs are shorter than ever, and yet, their musical ideas are still fully formed. In honor of their succinctness, I would like to sum up the Marked Men’s new record in haiku form:

As great as ever
Killer, rock-out choruses
Atrocious cover

The Weakends – S/T LP

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Label/Buy: Rob’s House
Listen: Myspace

First things first, bad news. The Weakends are from France. Uhh, no, that’s not the bad news. The bad news is that I thought these guys were from North America. Along with my last post, where I admitted that I thought Le Face was from France, it spells it out quite clearly that I need to learn the difference between bands from North America and bands from France. Is there some rule? A formula perhaps? Help me out.

Anyway, the Weakends plays the kind of blues-inspired rock’n’roll that everyone should be tired of by now. God knows I am. This time around, it works because they don’t take themselves too seriously – inserting a garage number like “Arty Party” that breaks up the momentum and clearly does not belong is a pretty ballsy move. It works also because these guys aren’t trying to be Blues Hammer. It’s like this: I get the feeling that these guys aren’t trying so much to ape their influences as so much as just play what they know and have fun while doing so. It’s a feeling that I don’t often get with this type of music.

When you’re in a band like the Weakends and you’re having fun playing your music, more often than not, it translates to what you release. When you’re in a band and you’re concerned with authenticity rather than just playing what you know, more often than not, it’ll probably be a chore for anyone and everyone to listen to.

Thankfully, the Weakends sound like they’re having fun.

Le Face – Isolation LP

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Label/Buy: Dead Beat
Listen: Myspace

The description of Le Face’s full-length debut on Dead Beat Records’ website mentions the Urinals more than once. I don’t really hear it. Those Urinals are way more melodic than these guys are capable of.

Not like I’m saying it’s a negative point for Le Face.

What I hear is a toned-down, less dense version of labelmates the Daily Void. Or maybe, at times, a less poppy, more thrashy version of the Intelligence. These guys stand on their own though. Great, thrashed-up garage punk.

And I totally thought these guys were French because of their name and the vocalist’s delivery. Turns out they’re from LA.

The Hunches – Exit Dreams LP

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Label: In The Red
Listen: Myspace (no songs are up but maybe keep checking back…?)
Buy: Midheaven

After the longest wait, The Hunches have finally put out their anticipated third and final LP, Exit Dreams. Not content to leave us with their effort from 2004, Hobo Sunrise, this Portland band has decided to go out with a fuzzed-out bang. Like most bands of their ilk, they are most effective at a maxed-out tempo. Tracks like “Ate My Wheel” and “Pinwheel Spins” are some of the best music they’ve released (and barring a comeback, that they will ever release). Although the record drags a bit when they decide to drag (“Not Invented”), there are more than enough highlights here to make Exit Dreams a solid final LP from one of the best bands so far this century.

Love Tan – Miscellaneous Night Feelings LP

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Label/Buy: Kill Shaman
Listen: Myspace

Up next in my never-ending “recent LPs you may have missed” series is Love Tan’s Miscellaneous Night Feelings LP. Maybe because of the late October/November release date, I didn’t see this on many year-end lists. Admittedly, this didn’t come to my attention until recently either, so maybe we’re all at fault here.

Previously known as Pyramids, this duo (one half, Matthew Ford, is in Factums and was at one time a member of The Intelligence) released a 7″ on Sweet Rot prior to this most recent LP. For some, the Factums and Intelligence connections may be more than enough to sell you on this record but personally, they cancel each other out. The Intelligence may be one of my favorite bands of the past few years (I like them even more than the A Frames, sue me) but Factums’ post-Alien Native output has more or less scared me away from this band.

The thing that’s great about Love Tan is that you get the best of both worlds. They sound like The Intelligence on downers some of the time while the Factums’ more abstract tendencies come into play at times as well. No song on Miscellaneous Night Feelings exemplifies what these two guys are capable more than “Dissolve”. The first 40 seconds sounds like the guys farting with their instruments. Then, the barely-intelligible vocals (natch) kick in, lending some structure to the song, a structure that slowly emerges as the song progresses. Check the song out on their Myspace page.

Then order the record.