The Laureates – S/T 7″

The Laureates

a1: I Want to Miss You
a2: Witching Boots
b1: Hello, Hello
b2: The Warm Son

Label: Funambulist Recording Company
Buy: From the Band
Listen: Mp3’s from the single

Weird how I listened to this, and was going to write a review that said (among other things) “Interpol produced by Phil Spector.” Then, doing some background research into the band, I discover that Seven Inches (Everyday) said essentially the exact same thing.

The Laureates remind me when Uncle Bob took GBV down the hi-fi route, having pulled everything he could out of his basement recordings. As you may recall, many GBV loyalists rebelled against the slickness; if you go back to “Do the Collapse” eight years later, the songs hold up (though, what you need from that era is the Hold on Hope ep, which is the best hi-fi thing Bob ever released).

That is to say, this single is about the songs, the hooks and the production. For a band of this genre, this sounds slick as snails, and these guys fall all over themselves to pile hook after hook into every song.

The Electric Bunnies – singles

Eskimo 7″
a1: Eskimo
a2: Eat Worms
b: Counting Sheep
electric Bunnies Eskimo

Chewing Gum 7″
a1: Chewing Gum
a2: Love Radiation
b1: Super Flourexcent Hippo Flashback
b2: The Stranger
Electric Bunnies

Buy: Florida’s Dying
Listen: Myspace

Both of these singles have been entrenched on my stereo more or less all afternoon. I kind of think I am in love with this band, but you know how I worry about saying those things after one date. Yet, whenever “Chewing Gums” comes on, I get that “tingly” feeling. Sometimes you just know, ok?

Anyone reading this blog knows that my weak spot is describing music. I don’t think I am the only one with that problem, so I don’t feel too badly about it. I am good at saying shit like “my new obsession” and “favourite singles I have heard since ____.” All warranted here. Every song on these two singles are fucking essential, and Electric Bunnies are exactly the kind of band I can get behind – experimental, lo-fi with keeping one foot planted firmly into pop music. Makes a strange beast at times (“The Stranger” which you need to hear), but also makes it all come together in really exciting ways. Add the Electric Bunnies to my “buy everything from” list.

TV Ghost – Atomic Rain 7″ (reissue)

a: Atomic Rain
b: Bird Flu
Listen at Myspace
Purchase (soon) from Die Stassi

TV Ghost Atomic Rain 7″

Here is another increasingly popular 7″ that sold out shortly after its release, making it very hard to come by, save for eBay (which I have been unsuccessfully bidding on and losing time and time again – I am tired of these auctions going $30+ for singles that aren’t even a year old). Making things worse, I got a copy of the 12″ that Die Stassi released last month, and now I am even more excited about this band. When this one is reissued next week, don’t sleep on it. Also, make sure you pick up the (limited) LP from Die Stassi while you are at it,as it comes with my highest recommendation.

I am running out of ways to talk about bands like TV Ghost. Music like this this does a really good job of avoiding easy comparison (forcing people to come up with long lists of “Sounds like” and “possibly influenced by”). With TV Ghost, this is an even bigger problem, with the whole thing being rooted in sounding like a million different things at once. I can’t remember where I read it now, but someone mentioned bands like TV Ghost being the first generation of music lovers with unlimited access to music via things like SoulSeek and Torrent sites, and I have to wholeheartedly agree with that. More than that, the songs are great – mostly skewing to the weird and outsider-y type songs. I am really excited to hear more from this group.

Nothing People – Army of Ideal b/w What A Waste 7″

a: Army of Ideal
b: What a Waste
Listen at Myspace
Purchase from BistroDistro
Nothing People - Army of Ideal b/w What A Waste 7″

This came out late last year on the increasingly popular/collectible Hozac Records, and has been on my heavy rotation pile since I got it. Part of the new outsider punk scene that is happening right now (Blank Dogs, Daily Void et al.), Nothing People are at the forefront. Yet, unlike some bands in this genre, Nothing People are unique while retaining a highly listenable sound at the same time. Especially “Army of Ideal,” which is my favorite Nothing People song, driven by a no-wave/post punk  guitar hook.  Check it out. r

Across the Pond: 2 Hot 2 Sweat – Your Space or Mine 7″

I am going to make this a regular Wednesday feature from now on, whereby I take a look at some hot vinyl singles being sold exclusively in the UK, and deciding whether or not it is worth it to pay to ship one to North America, factoring the shipping cost and the exchange rate. Often, I will be unable to hear the full single, and will go on the songs that I can hear to help me decide weather I can take the financial hit. This is par for the course anyways – often deciding to pick up or ignore a 7″ based on limited information (one or two songs at maximum).

2 Hot 2 Sweat

Listen at Myspace
Purchase from Norman Records
2hot2sweat

Song listened to: a-side “Your Space or Mine”
Converted Price: $9.60
Worth it?: No

This came to my attention from it being the Norman Records “Single of the Week,” but I have to wonder about those crazy brits sometimes. Another reviewer has suggested that the b-side is actually better of the two, but I am not getting behind this a-side at all. Musically this is pretty standard punk-tinged indie rock (at times reminding me a little of Le Tigre), and musical aspect of this is ok, if nothing special. It is the vocals/lyrics that just don’t sit well with me, especially the chorus which I just flat out find to be really annoying. I also dislike the cover art. And the band name.

Nodzzz – I Don’t Wanna (Smoke Marijuana) 7″

a: I Don’t Wanna (Smoke Marijuana)
b: We are the Only Animals
Buy from Rocket Reducer
Listen at Myspace

Nodzzz

This is one of the best things to hit my ear this year (2008 for those of you “unstuck in time”) comes out of nowhere with San Fran power trio Nodzzz. Their first run of these is already sold out – but hey, it takes a long time to get things up to Canada (though apparently, Rocket Reducer still has a handful of copies, so act now or forever hold your repress, which are apparently in the works).  This band has some buzz going for it right now in certain circles, and after finally getting my hands on a copy, I can understand why. This is really bouncy and “fun” (not the mandated kind, mind you), with a loose style reminiscent of Dead Milkmen meets The Modern Lovers. I think I am digging the b-side a bit more “We are the Only Animals”which is a little less novelty driven as “I Don’t Wanna (Smoke Marijuana),” which I am totally not buying. Highly reccomended.

Dead Luke – Box Set Preview

a: I Want You
b: Waste of Spaces
Available Mid-March from Sacred Bones
Sacred Bones LOGO

Coming in Mid-March is the first of two Dead Luke singles that Sacred Bones is releasing (the second single is due in April). When the first 7″ is released, Sacred Bones will also be taking reservations for a box set which will pset you back around $15; included will be both singles, a four song CDR from the single, buttons, stickers, inserts, etc. Both singles will be pressed in an edition of 500, but there will only be 100 box sets available, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

I have only discovered Dead Luke recently, but I am coming back to his MySpace page and listening on a regular basis – I really like it a great deal (you can actually hear both songs from this single right now – “I Want You” is streaming at Sacred Bones and Waste of Spaces is on Dead Luke‘s Myspace). There is definitely a dark edge to these songs – almost goth in tone (though think old skool goth and not the crap they call goth rock today) – especially listening to “I Want You” and it’s refrain, repeated in this low voice and with its blown out electronics, the whole affair is fairly sinister. Nice. Really looking forward to this one.

While we are at it, Sacred Bones is also releasing a single in March from Nice Face (Thing In My Head b/w Hidden Automatic) who totally kick ass – more blown out goodness that will appeal to fans of weirdo garage rock. Looks good to me. The first 100 Nice Face singles will be on white vinyl, and will likely have unique covers.

Lovvers – Laughing Man / Search for Gold 7″

a: Laughing Man
b: Search for Gold
Listen at Myspace
Purchase from Jonson Family Records (UK)
Lovvers

Its  been a while since we looked overseas for good records, and here is a band whom I have been following over their last two singles (this is the third), and I think I have a handle on it. Lovvers are, for lack of a better comparison, an early 90’s American Grunge revivalist band; listen to the Lovvers brings me back to my flannel-clad youth when I used to rock out with my Melvins tapes in my shitty van. That said, I think that I might be being bit unfair to paint them as simple revivalists (who isn’t), as there is certainly enough of a current stream in this music that it doesn’t feel dated in any way. They can be sludgy and punishing (see: The Laughing man) or they can be straight forward, balls to the wall (see: Search for Gold), and either way, they are killer. Check this out.

ATP Records CONTEST (win some free Seven Inches!!)

Up for grabs:

1. (1) Copy of Fuck Buttons “Bright Tomorrow” Picture Disc 7″ (ltd. to 1000)

Fuck Buttons

2. (1) Copy of The Drones double 7″ (ltd. to 1000)

The Drones

Of the two of these, I was most excited for this single from UK duo Fuck Buttons , due in large part to the fact that it was recorded by John Cummings of Mogwai, and after putting this on, you can see exactly why. Fuck Buttons, for the uninitiated, sound like an electro-Mogwai, and for those of you who have been gradually becoming disinterested in Mogwai’s increasingly watered down sound (i.e. me), Fuck Buttons are the perfect remedy. This shit sounds like it could have been on Young Team. Really fucking good. They are on tour in North America with Caribou all throughout March and April, and this single convinced me that I really need to see that show.

The Drones are a different beast all together. I think I was initially turned off by this band because a while ago I went to their MySpace to check them out, and in their influences section they write:

Van Morrison or Dylan or Suicide or Bad Brains or Nina Simone or Black Flag or the Scientists or Ornette Coleman or Thelonius Monk or (australian)X or Townes Van Zandt or John Lee Hooker or Karen Dalton or Neil Young or Bela Bartok or Mingus or Al Green or http://www.ubu.com or blah blah blah

Influences are always a tricky beast, and I think people often get confused between “Influences” and “A list of bands that we like.” So using their list, here is what I hear as I listen to this single (again, based only on what I am hearing):

Van Morrison Yes
Dylan NO
Suicide NO

Bad Brains NO
Nina Simone NO
Black Flag NO
the Scientists NO
Ornette Coleman NO
Thelonius Monk NO
(australian)X NOT ENOUGH INFO
Townes Van Zandt YES
John Lee Hooker YES
Karen Dalton NO
Neil Young YES
Bela Bartok NO
Mingus NO
Al Green NO
http://www.ubu.com YES
blah blah blah YES

That said, I do enjoy Neil Young quite a bit, and this reminds me (sometimes) of Neil going off with Crazy Horse. so this gets a pass from me (plus: AMAZING artwork – gatefold sleeve… a beautiful artifact here).

Send me an email to quartermass AT gmail DOT com before SUNDAY at MIDNIGHT and I will randomly select a winner.

Meth Teeth – Sweet Rot 7″ Preview

Bus Rides (?)
Unemployment Forever (?)
Listen at Myspace
Purchase (soon) from Sweet Rot Records
Meth Teeth Sweet Rot Single

One of the singles I am most looking forward to. I found out about Meth Teeth when I went on my Blank Dogs trip a month ago, namely that Sweet Rot records, who put out the Blank Dogs Doorbell Fire single is also putting out a 7″ any day now from Meth Teeth. In fact, I keep going back every other day to check if it is available or not. It isn’t… yet.

Which doesn’t stop me from listening to the songs they have up on their Myspace, two of which are going to be on the upcoming single. Trading on the same oddities and obscurro production that I have been really keen on lately (see: Blank Dogs obsession), Meth Teeth add just the right amount of melody to keep shit interesting – there are songs here, but not the kind of songs you want to listen to alone in your apartment in the middle of the night after watching that movie “Fire in the Sky.” Something completely unnerving about these tunes.

Hunchbacks – Werse Sounds 7″

a: Werse Sounds
b: Beautiful (Christina Aguilera cover)
Purchase from Sacred Bones

hunchbacks.jpg

Hot damn – picked this up, not knowing what to expect other than it was on Sacred Bones and I am loose with my money. Accidentally put this on the b-side first, to discover a Christina Aguilera cover, with Michael Gerald (the Killdozer guy) trading vocals with a child. At first, I was kind of annoyed (I have a hate on for ironic covers), but this was actually pretty funny. It is hard to hate on little kids, right?  The A-Side, “Werse Sounds” is pretty fucking rad, perfect for this years Halloween party.

Keep your eyes peeled to the Sacred Bones MySpace page, as there is a note there today that hints at a special pre-order scenario-type-deal-thingy for the new Pink Noise and Factum’s full lenghts (looking like a free-seven inch). Nice!

The Coathangers – S/T 7″

a1: Never Wanted You
a2: Spider Hands
b1: Tripod Machine
b2: Don’t Touch My Shit
Purchase from Die Slaughterhaus

The Coathangers First Seven Inch

Continuing on with my “Seven Inches that I Overlooked in 2007” list (they are still slowly making their way to me) comes this great record that made the year end list over at Seven Inches (Everyday).

Each of these songs provoke a unique reaction, though I am not sure what. Each of the songs are simple in structure, but delivered with such ferocity that you can’t help but get sucked in to the mess. Favourite song is the last one “Don’t Touch My Shit” – which has some amazing lyrics and a melody driven by the “telephone”setting on some shitty synth, and devolves into some cookie monster vocals – “Oh hey Jessica… FUUUUCK YOOOOUUU.” So good.

They have a single coming out on Suicide Squeeze on March 18th, which I am going to be anticipating.

Lost Sounds – Motorcycle Leather Boy 7″

a: Motorcycle Leather Boy
b: Love Killed My Brain
Available from Tic Tac Totally
Lost Sounds Tic Tac Totally

In what may be the first amazing 7″ to be released in 2008, Tic Tac Totally! drops this posthumous release from Lost Sounds, aka Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout’s old band that broke up back in 2005. Pioneers of the “Black Wave” sound that combined Metal and New Wave, this seven finds Lost Sounds knee deep in their own brand of shit – abrasive and noisy as ever, but also providing a extremely enjoyable listen.

Did I mention that both of these are Oblivions covers? Jay tackles “Motorcycle Leather Boy” and knocks it out of the park with a spiked baseball bat, while Alicja kicks “Love Killed My Brain” in the ass. This makes me want to listen to their old stuff all day on full volume (to compete with my neighbor, who is currently listening to “Foolish Games” by Jewel – AGAIN! – in what seems to be her morning AND evening routine while contemplating suicide).

Another fine release by what is quickly becoming my favourite micro-label.

Mannequin Men – s/t 7″

a: Private School
b: Sewers
Available from Criminal IQ

Mannequin Men 7″

This came with a huge order I did with Criminal IQ a while back (Vee Dee, Canadian Rifle, Pink Reasons and this), but for some reason it got lost in the pile and ended up getting filed away before I even listened to it once.  Shit, after those three other records did me so right, maybe I thought I would be jinxing it or something. Yet, with new records being so sparse this month (seriously), I decided to throw this on.

What a nice surprise – especially the first side, Private School – which sounds like the Strokes if they listened to Nirvana instead of Television. Maybe that is a lazy comparison, but Private School sounds so great that I am meaning it in a totally complementary way (I picked up a copy of Nirvana Unplugged on LP at the local vinyl store last week, and forgot how much I used to love Nirvana when I was a kid). This song has some swing, and makes me realize that, in comparison, most of the music I have been listening to lately is so buttoned up, so regimented etc. I think that if you gave this to some kid in middle school, this would totally become their new favourite band.

Blank Dogs – 2007 Releases

1. “First Two Weeks” 12″ EP-Freedom School Records-Sold Out. Repress soon.

First Two Weeks 12″

2. 7″-Hozac Records-1st Press Sold Out, 2nd Press still available (try Tic Tac Totally Mailorder)

blankdogs2.jpg

3. 7″-Sweet Rot Records-1st Press Sold Out, 2nd Press soon available. (Try Black Mountain Distro)

Black Dogs Sweet Rot Single

4. “Diana (The Herald)” 12″ EP-Sacred Bones Records-Sold Out. Repress soon (Try Tic Tac Totally Mailorder)

Blank Dogs Diana the Herald

5. 7″ EP-Florida’s Dying Records-Sold Out (Try Bistro-Distro)

Blank Dogs Florida is Dying.

So there is this guy working under the name of Blank Dogs that was uber prolific last year, and I had managed to avoid hearing anything from him, or reading any thing about him, until he started popping up on all of these year end best-of lists. And by “all these” I am referring to one or two, though one top ten of 2007 included four of these releases. So by the time I catch the scent – it is too late, and all of these are sold out. This causes great concern for me (I’m slipping!), but I managed to track down all of these via various distro’s (linked where still available). It just takes a long time.

What someone who knows how to code or whatnot needs to do is set up some kind of Amazon-style website of “If you liked this, try this!”, but with links to all of these various boutique labels. Kind of like a dumping ground of links to various small scale labels (as opposed to another Insound or something). Or not. I’ve just spent so much time searching google for short run seven inches and the like, and keep thinking that there has to be a better way.

For example, this came to my attention today – HoZac records just released a new Blank Dogs 7″ (ltd to 200 green), which you can get that right from their MySpace page. Crazy, I am eager to hear this one (though it says US only, so maybe I am going to have to ask someone in the US to order it for me).

If you like Blank Dogs, keep your eyes peeled in 2008 as they are putting out 12 – yes 12 (!!) releases this year…

1. 7″ EP-Daggerman Records-Coming Soon

2. “Mirror Lights” Cassette-Coming Soon

3. Blank Box (all 2007 Releases+inserts+1&2 from 2008, SOLD OUT, Coming Soon)*

4. “On Two Sides” LP-Troubleman Records (February?), cassette version on Fuck it Tapes-Coming Soon

5. Ltd. 7″ on Troubleman

6. 7″ on 4:2:2 Records (Denmark)

7. Untitled LP/CD-In The Red Records

8. Singles Anthology Cassette on Heavy Tapes-Coming Soon

9. Singles Anthology CD on Sacred Bones-March(?)

10. 7″ on Woodsist

11. Cassette on Bum Tapes

12. 7″ on Slowboy (Germany)

Marvelous Darlings – I Don’t Wanna Go to the Party

a: I Don’t Wanna Go to the Party
b: Careerist
Stream on CBC Radio 3
Purchase direct from Deranged

Part of me really loves this – really tight, glam-rock inspired rock, hooks falling all over themselves. Both songs are winners here, but the title track clearly stands tall. Another part of me is pushing back – at one point I thought to myself “this kind of sounds like Poison”- and now I can’t get past that.  Can we live with Poison mets The Ramones? I don’t know if we can.

Constantines – Hard Feelings / Easy Money 7″

a: Hard Feelings
b: Easy Money
Stream on Myspace
Purchase from Arts and Crafts

Growing up in the Canadian prairies, I feel like I have been surrounded by this kind of music my entire life. Gruff, no-bullshit, straight up “rawk.” Yet, the bands that Prairie boys and girls dig the most are generally very, erm… Canadian. For example, The Tragically Hip – gruff, no-bullshit, but with tonnes of heart and some decent lyrics.

For whatever reason, this Constantines record is making me feel very patriotic, very Canadian. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it is the weather here today (very Canadian), or perhaps it is something else all together. Either way, this is kicking my ass. This single is finding the Constantines in a bad mood (giant chip and all that), with some amazing, face-melting soloing. I actually like the B-side better on this one, “Easy Money” (I’ve made some), so many great lyrics…

Anyway, chalk this one up for the win.

Devon Williams – A Truce | Elevator 7″

a: A Truce
b: Elevator
Purchase from LA Record
Stream on MySpace

devon-williams.jpg

Oh man, I’m kind of freaking out over this.

I ordered it based on the fact that one of the guys from No Age put it in his 2007 top ten – I like No Age, hadn’t heard of this Devon Williams character. Magic. Since then, I’ve seen it on a few more top ten lists, including SevenTenTwelve favourite Dan Bejar (did I mention here how I FINALLY won a copy of Streethawk: A Seduction on vinyl? This thing has been my White Whale for a few years now, and I even managed to get it for a pretty sweet price – $120, which makes it the single highest dollar amount that I have ever paid for vinyl). So yeah, Dan Bejar likes it, Randy from No Age likes it – but, the Mp3 blogger’s remain silent? Isn’t this your job, Mp3 bloggers, to find the good shit and put it under people’s noses?

Oh well.

Generally, I only write about records that I dig (you dig?) – I have a pretty sizable collection, growing every week, and there is lots there that I could be writing about, but don’t – because, as I see it, just because I hate something doesn’t mean that it isn’t good (and vice versa). Too many factors to account for with taste. Plus, the last thing struggling musicians need is another asshole blogger saying that they suck. Which may be the case, but what’s the point? I’ve been in bands long enough to know how much it can feel like banging your head against the wall (my new band, Light Years, is gonna be different though – we’re gonna light it up!).

Which is a really long-winded way for me to emphasize the following – this 7″ is REALLY fucking good. I know I say that lots (there is, after all, a lot of really fucking good 7″ records out there), but this 7″ would be the one I would pick if my house was burning down. Fuck the rest of them. Since the No Age singles arrived at my doorstep, I can’t think of any other 7″ that I have just played over and over and over and over again. Like now – I just got up and played it again. What more can I say to hype this out of proportion?

Prediction time – I am going to say about Devon Williams (which I think I also said about Abe Vigoda a few months ago): this guy is going to blow up. Big time. I’ll eat my hat if he doesn’t. From these two songs, I know it in my heart. This music is just too transcending, too universal not to catch on. When he gets around to releasing a full length, Pitchfork is gonna give it a 10.0 (at which point the backlash will start, so now is the time to get on board). Even if these are the two best songs this guy ever writes, he will have made his mark on the world.

Think a more accessible Magnetic Fields, the best Belle and Sebastian song, the pop-sensibilities of Elliott Smith (Figure 8 era), Morrissey with a cold, a less annoying Jens Leckman, the 70’s quirk of Harry Nilsson… on and on I go. Hyperbole aside, this is why I do this. Fuck me.

Canadian Rifle – S/T 7″

a1: Cinder Block
a2: Creep
b1: Loved by Weaklings
b2: Hug my Blood
Purchase from Criminal IQ.
Stream on MySpace

canadian-rifle-cover.jpg

I’ve listened to this 7″ at least a dozen times in an attempt to sort out my feelings about it. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked what I was hearing, and then gradually, I get sucked into whatever seedy underbelly Canadian Rifle are trying to hold their own in.

These are four punk-as-fuck songs, each with its own special brand of hook power. What makes these hooks work so well is that they are pressed up against definite non-hooks, or parts that are a little more chunky or grinding. Does that even make sense? Either way, this is good shit.

The Pharmacy – Abdominable 7″

a: Tropical Yeti Song
b: Plastic Bugs
Available at Tic Tac Totally
Streaming at MySpace

Still catching on the 7″ records that slipped through my hands in ’07, finding weird end of year lists that mention 45’s, etc. etc. Yesterday it was Bat For Lashes, whom I didn’t check out because I figured I would hate it (I don’t); today it is The Pharmacy, whom entirely flew under my radar, even though I spent some time on Tic Tac Totally’s website (I even reviewed the Hipshakes/Cococoma split – which is one of their nine releases).

I got this today, and I am loving it to pieces – quirky-pop meltdowns, with great vocal hooks and melodies to spare. Think They Might Be Giants meets The Unicorns (R.I.P.), and add some youthful exuberance that will get your ass moving. Looking forward to the full length coming out in Feb. Highly recommended.