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.

Too Pure Singles Club

As someone dedicated to collecting 7″ singles, you can get no better bang for your buck than by joining a singles club. Yet, one of the things I like about this hobby is that it is generally really cheap – four bucks here, six there. So when you have these clubs come up, it kind of takes its toll on the ‘ol pocketbook. The Too Pure series which I only found out about today via Pitchfork will set you back around $60… yikes. Still recovering from Christmas and the Bored Fortress subscription I got this month, so I’ll sit this one out.

Here’s P-Forks rundown:

The January face of the Too Pure Singles Club is chamber popper Anni Rossi, while February brings a split offering between French-born Frànçois (a sometime member of Camera Obscura’s live band) and Ray Rumours, aka Electrelane’s Ros Murray. (If the Rossi and Rumours singles sound familiar, they were previously mentioned here.) Finally, for now at least, March heralds the arrival of an entry from Austin’s the Octopus Project, the crew’s first release outside of North America.

As usual, these singles contain two exclusive, previously unreleased tracks and are limited to an international run of 500 copies. Apart from a few select record stores, the only way to get your hands on one of them is through an annual subscription obtained here.