Magic Arm – Outdoor Games 10″

a1. Outdoor Games
a2. People Need Order
a3. I Want You You Want Me
b1. D.A.Q
b2. You Should Know
b3. Move Out

Out of all of the formats that I am covering here, it is the 10″ that captures my heart like none other. There is something so clever looking about them… Yet it is so hard to find 10″ records, let alone any that are worth purchasing. Here is one worth your time and money.

I picked up this EP after hearing the band Grizzly Bear rave about it a few months ago, and I flipped out after hearing the first song “Outdoor Games.” In fact, I am going to do the same for you before we go any further – go to their Myspace page – listen to the first song that is going to load, then come back.

Ok?

You can see why Grizzly Bear is all about this guy, one Marc Rigelsford out of Manchester. Some of these songs have that same lush, organic feel to it that Grizzly Bear dish out, complete with that same sense of longing and heartsick dread. In other parts of this EP, the sound is somewhat akin to something you might hear on a Chad VanGaalen record – playful, yet simple electronic beats, the use of toy keys (I definitely hear a Casio SK-1 in the song D.A.Q. (Don’t Ask Questions).

You can get this right from the Switchflicker’s ordering page (it will be coming from the UK, so be prepared).

Of Montreal – Gender Mutany Tour 7″

a: Back to School (Royal Trux cover)

b: Subtext Read, Nothing New

So I pick up a copy of “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer” at a particularly dark point of my year, and guess what – it is perfect. A concept album about having a nervous breakdown after a nasty breakup turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. So, as I do with every new discovery, I frantically search through the back catalog to find more of the same, and turns out I was right to ignore them up to now. The two album previous to this are decent, but everything before that is fairly weak.

This 7″ is from their “Gender Mutany” tour (limited to 1000), and you can buy it directly from Polyvinyl. The A-side is a Royal Trux cover, and the B-Side is a previously unreleased original. I’ve listened to this a few times, and the only thing that really excites me here is the artwork. The songs are decent, but they both take the same meandering psychedelics approach that, while pretty enough, isn’t very compelling.

Pitchfork ran an interview yesterday with Kevin Barnes which is worth reading.

The Ostrich – S/T 7″

a1: Medication
a2: Seedy Eye
b1: Fire Drill
b2: Dead Horse

Listen to some of these at their Myspace page.

Calgary is going through another boom cycle (thank you, oh holy oil!), and this is the perfect soundtrack to the increasingly claustrophobic feelings that many long time Calgarians are harbouring right now. The cover art depicts the cranes that litter the skyline of the city, working tirelessly to build new skyscrapers and condos as fast as possible. The cranes are manipulated to look somewhat demonic, and I see this is as fitting statement.

With all the built up tensions of a small city turning into a metropolis seemingly overnight, The Ostrich make perfect sense. Musically, I am reminded of early B-52’s or Talking Heads, mixed up with some Joy Division (at least in tone), and also the darker side of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. The production is just perfect, really doing a nice job of capturing the energy of the music with the dark, garage-like production.

This 7″ is limited to 300, and you can try contacting the band directly at thee_ostrich@yahoo.ca to get one of these, which I would of course recommend.

This is the best Canadian 7″ I have heard this year.

Times New Viking – 7″ Pre-Order

This is just an excuse to give you this Mp3 containing two songs from TNV’s upcoming 7″ for Matador. I’ve listened to this a dozen times or so this fine morning, and it just presses all of the right buttons for me; lo-fi, short, noisy, messy – check, check, double check.

“I need more money / ’cause I need more drugs”

These Ohio kids recently signed to Matador records, and of course all of the indie-rock reference points are covered here – early Pavement, Vampire on Titus era GBV, Sebadoh – but if Times New Viking sound like anything, it is the SoCal crap-core act FYP. This is a good thing.

Don’t hesitate to pre-order this shit.

No Age – Singles Series

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1. Get Hurt 12″ (Upset the Rythm) (Ebay Store in North America)

a1. Everybody’s Down
a2. Switches
a3. Get Hurt
b1. Neck Escapah
b2. Great Faces
b3. I Wanna Sleep

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2. Sick People Are Safe 12″ (Deleted Art)

a1. Boy Void
a2. Sick People Are Safe
b1. Vacation Pay
b2. Semi-sorted

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3. Dead Plane 12″ (Teenage Teardrops – SOLD OUT)

a1: Dead Plane
a2: Goat Hurt
b1: Never Not Beaten
b2: You is My Hot Rabbit

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4. Youth Attack 7″ (Youth Attack Records – Sold Out)

a1: Neck Escaper
a2: My Life’s Alright Without You
b1: Escarpment

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5. Post Present Medium 7″ (PPM)

a: Every Artist Needs a Tragedy
b: Loosen This Job

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5 singles put out by five labels in one month (March 2007) from three different countries (USA, UK, Sweden). When you collect all 5, they spell “NO AGE.” Limited edition coloured vinyl (i.e. I got one of the 100 “beige swirl” copies of the “Dead Plane” ep). You don’t even need to know anything about the music before you are ready to spend the next week tracking down one of each – this is a record collector’s wet dream.

As a strategy for getting a relatively unknown band from LA some action, this is a perfect way to do it. I remember pulling my hair out the day I heard about this series, trying to figure out where to find all of these. The band didn’t even have a proper website (only myspace) and all it said was “five eps out on five labels!” I had to HUNT.

In the age of eBay, with its saved search functionality, the hunt is mechanized for me. I don’t have to do any work – I just have to be patient. Honestly, this has killed some of my passion for record collecting, as it is just too easy. When something like this series comes along, it go my heart racing (would I get one of the coloured vinyl editions, or would I be too late?!!?). I had fun searching for clues, working my contacts… amazing.

The music is another story – NO AGE are one of my primo musical discoveries of 2007. So fresh sounding, so inventive; the recordings are all messy and lofi enough to suit my taste (I love lofi). I just haven’t heard anything by them that I dislike – it really just doesn’t get any better than this.

#3 and #4 are both sold out, but they don’t say “out of print” which is promising. If you want these, just try emailing the respective labels. This has worked for me (even if they point you towards a distro or record store that might have copies).

The Thermals – Pillar of Salt 7″

a1: A Pillar of Salt (Mp3)
a2: Product Placement
b1: A Pillar of Salt (demo)
b2: Saint Rosa and the Swallows

Available on the cheap from Sub Pop directly.

Taken from 2006’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine, “A Pillar of Salt” is a song that I have heard a hundred times yet still manages to excite me. I suppose the “pop punk” classification works here, but more Ted Leo and less Fat Mike. This single has two versions of “Pillar of Salt,” as well as some worthy b-side material.

As much as I love this music, I have to say it: this cover is TERRIBLE! The headless suits – fine. Why are they putting the bar code front and centre? Oh, I get that it is some kind of “statement” on how this band hates the “commodification” of punk music; you would have to be pretty fucking dense to miss that. Yet, this kind of commentary is ham-fisted to an embarrassing level.

Shocking Pinks – Singles Series

Listen to the Shocking Pinks Singles Series Player

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Blue: (Rough Trade Shops)
a:This Aching Deal (think The Bats meets My Bloody Valentine)
b: August 3rd (Arkitype remix)

Green: (Rough Trade Shop)
a: Victims (“it’s like a garage band raised on a diet of just Sebadoh or a classic Flying Nun band that you heard on John Peel once”)
b: April May

Red: (Rough Trade Shop)
a: The Narrator
b: Dressed to Please

Pink (7″) (Norman records)
a: End of the World
b: Go to Sleep

Pink (12″) (Norman records)
a1: End of the World
a2: Go to Sleep (Deerhunter Remix)
b1: Go to Sleep
b2: Go to Sleep (Eluvium Remix)

(set on my own shocking pink kitchen table)

I will let the music here speak for itself: kind of like like My Bloody Valentine, New Order, Hood, The Clean, Liquid Liquid, Pavement (also: every free thinking band known to man). Layered, atmospheric, otherworldly, manic pop hooks, wistful psychedelics, frantic basement percussion & breathless energy. Any of these singles in isolation would make my year end list, but the combination is just value added, double plus good. Kind of like Voltron or something.

This series was supposed to ramp up to the LP (out on DFA in September), but I only got the End of the World singles on Friday. Each of these puppies is limited to 500 copies, and from what I can tell, they are only available overseas (I put links to the webstores that these are still available at, as they are already sold out in other places).

This is the song/video (End of the World) that started my obsession with this band: