The Singles Club Report

This fall, I broke my bank account by signing up for two different singles clubs from two different labels: the skewing towards mainstream-alt Sub Pop Singles Club and the “limited to 250” Columbus Discount Recordings Singles Club. I’ve recieved five from each club so far, so I figured it would be a good time to assess what has come.

Sub Pop Singles Club 3.0

Received So Far:

ommikamiko

unnatural1blackmountain

bluescontrol

OM
a: Gebel Barkal
b: (Version)

Mika Miko
a: Sex Jazz (Extended)
b: Bastard in Love

Unnatural Helpers
a1: Dirty, Drunk and Comical
a2: Connecting
b1: Break that Horse
b2: Easy Way

Black Mountain
a: Lucy Brown
b: Shelter

Blues Control
a: Snow Day
b: Paul’s Winter Solstice

Of this batch, I like the Unnatural Helpers single the most and OM single the least. Unnatural Helpers play a Mudhoney-eque brand of sludge, but are also at home on a bill with current bands like Hank IV or Eddy Current Suppression Ring – definitely the most “Sub Pop” sounding record of this batch. Mika Miko‘s “Sex Jazz” is awesome, but I really dislike their reworking of the classic Black Flag song “Bastard in Love”.  One the Black Mountain single, “Lucy Brown” is as good of a Black Mountain song that I have heard, though I’ve always been more of a Pink Mountaintops as far as Stephen McBean is concerned. Actually, “Shelter” is pretty good too – decent single overall, but nothing too exciting. The Blues Control single contains post-rock instrumentals with the reverb turned up with songs about Winter (fitting for the December issue date), probably my second favourite of this batch, though that isn’t saying a lot.

I haven’t received any of the singles that convinced me to sign up for the club, and there hasn’t been anything that I have been too excited about thus far, so I give the first five Sub Pop Singles Club 3.0 singles a cumulative grade of B-.

Columbus Discount Recordings Singles Club Year One

Received So Far:

pinkreasoneljesus

harrisburg_termbosandwitch

uh2-cdrscy1

Pink Reason
a: 3:16
b: Sweet Sinister

El Jesus De Magico
a: Unclean Ghost
b: Pirate Utopia

The Harrisburg Players
a1: Tommy Jay “No Place”
a2: The General “I Did It”
b1: Nudge Squidfish “Jess”
b2: T.A. Lafferty “Take it to the Father”

Sandwich
a: Assisted Living
aa: I’ve Had a Few

The Unholy Two
a: Altamont 1969
b: Beirut 1983″

This is more like it – right out of the gate with the Pink Reason single, I knew I was in for something great – amazing liner notes, excellent selections from the Pink Reason‘s archives, bubblegum pink vinyl – yes. “Sweet Sinister” is (for me) up there with my favourite Pink Reason songs. El Jesus De Magico‘s single came next – featuring a hand silk-screened covers (and glow-in-the-dark paint?). This single features one of my favourite songs of 2k8, “Unclean Ghosts”, a slow build with a burbling analogue synth that snakes throughout the song, this single spent a great deal of time on the turntable.

The first surprise came in the form of the third single, “The Harrisburg Players Vol. 1“, a four song compilation of songs recorded “somewhere between 1798 and yesterday”, which makes absolute sense because it is otherwise impossible to hear any certain era (other than “post-1970’s”). I’m no scholar of the Ohio music scene, other than my previous obsession with all thing Robert Pollard/Guided by Voices (and the bands associated in various ways). Seems Mike Rep had his own lo-fi cabal doing something in a similar vein (throwaway songs recorded in a grungy basement on bargain-store recording equipment). Everything here is gold, and is making me want to start tracking down more music from all involved (aka: mission accomplished). What a treat! Sandwich was another pleasant surprise, a Ron House fronted “supergroup”, this single contains two awesome psychadelic rock songs that have warranted repeat listens sincel. I just got the Unholy Two single (featuring Tom Shannon of Cheater Slicks) and Will Foster of Guinea Worms), and haven’t much to say other than it is a sludgy affair that will take some more listening.
Singles Clubs are mysterious things – they cost a lot of money up-front, and often yield weak results (see last years “Bored Fortress” collection, which left me wanting). The first five singles in Columbus Discount Recording’s singles club have been an exception to the rule – a few bands I knew already mixed in with a few pleasant surprises, lots of great songs, innovative packaging, a tight schedule – Columbus Discount Recording’s singles club gets a solid A.

Pink Reason – Seven Inches

By a Thread – Trick Knee Productions (Try Bistro-Distro)
a: By A Thread
b1: The Devil Always Wins
b2: Down on Me
Pink Reason - By A Thread

Self Titled – Criminal IQ (purchase here)
a: Throw it Away
b1: Slate Train
b2: New Violence
Pink Reason - Criminal IQ

This is an attempt to make up for that last Pink Reason post I did back in December. I kind of got caught up in a “holy shit I love this band” and didn’t really pay much attention to anything else.

The one good thing that came out of it was the dude from Trick-Knee leaving the following comment:

“By a Thread” was a 500 press and sold out. The first one was 300 (Kevin) and then several represses through CIQ (I think it eventually sold around 1,000 total). These 2 45s and the debut LP are all from the same “source tapes” or time period. The upcoming Siltbreeze LP is all newer stuff, and is as good or better (to me) than the old stuff. Lots of stuffs.

So there you have it.

The two singles here are both as good as it gets, best-case-scenario basement recordings.  It makes a lot of sense that they come from the same source tapes, as they do sound very similar (actually, the CIQ one sounds a little “darker” in its recording style, so maybe they are coming from a similar period instead of the same source tape.)

The By a Thread single is my favourite of the two – possibly because the recording is slightly less muddy, and possibly because the songs are a little more immediate. Going from “By A Thread” – a brooding (yet melodic) turn through the American underbelly. “The Devil Always Wins” is a surprising southern-gothic stomper, and “Down on Me” takes it back to the areas “By A Thread” was exploring. Really good music here, highly listenable.

The S/T release is a little more… challenging. “Throw it Away” returns to the stuff that you find on the By a Thread single, but the b-sides – “Slate Train” and “New Violence” are pretty far out of left field, in that they are a hell of a lot noisier and grating (especially the terrifiyng. “New Violence”)

In sum, track down this shit. Also, check out this interview he did with Smashin’ Transistors. Dude is HC, and goes off about being in Prison, living in Russia and becoming a meth addict.

Pink Reason – S/T 7″

a: Throw it away
b1: Slate Train
b2: New Violence
Purchase re-press directly from Criminal IQ

French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has a bit in one of his books where he talks about “selection/evaluation” – in that, with so much coming at us, it is impossible to account for all of it, so we end up tuning out large chunks of information. Pink Reason is a great example of this. Times New Viking, a band I have been really going crazy over in the last couple of months are one of the four or five bands that have put out LP’s on Siltbreeze, alongside Psychedelic Horseshit (who I have also been getting into) and… Pink Reason. Then for some reason I am on Myspace (looking for the impossible to find Times New Viking/Psychadelic Horseshit tour only 7″), and both band’s “top ten friends” (or whatever) contain Pink Reason. I was just not seeing them for whatever reason. My selection/evaluation device was selecting and evaluating this out of my world.

Finally, someone off of the message board of people who used to be into Guided by Voices (don’t ask) posted a sendspace link to some Pink Reason mp3’s, and all it took for me to check it out was the following description: “a more traditionally musical version of Jandek’s atonal folk-blues” – and suddenly I have a new favorite band this week. I’ve spent a lot of time in the interim tracking down everything I could find (I like it when it isn’t easy, more fun that way – I just got word from trickknee that I just paid for their last copy of the “By a Thread” 7″). This 7″ especially – originally released in 2006 (but reissued this fall) is, if nothing, one of the most haunting, removed and compelling pieces of vinyl that I have heard in a long time.

Finally, last night, the Pink Reason myspace page had a bit about how the band was finished, but that blog post has been removed with a post about how one should “avoid winding up the sole member of your band. The in-fighting is much more trenchant and fierce when you’re alone.”

_______________________________

Thanks to all who entered in the Times New Viking contest; I am keeping all of the entries for an upcoming “Fuck Buttons” picture 7″ contest, so stay tuned for that.

Also, look for my “Top 7″ releases to waste your days tracking down” list on Friday.