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.

No Age – Eraser 7″ Preorder

No Age - Nouns

Top of my 2007 year end list was the amazing No Age series, whereby when you collected all 5, the covers spell “NO Age,” and so it is no surprise that one of my most anticipated releases of 2008 is the new No Age LP “Nouns,” which Sub Pop is releasing in May. I just caught wind of this pre-order for the album track “Eraser,” alongside three b-sides covers of Nerves (“Hangin’ On The Telephone”), Nate Denver, and Urinals songs. This 7″ isn’t going to be ready until April, but I can see this one selling quickly.

Also, the initial lineup for this year’s Sled Island Festival in Calgary was released… and No Age are on the bill. I’ve been wanting to check them out live for a while now, and here is my chance. Awesome.

Wire
Of Montreal
Jonathan Richman
The Gutter Twins (Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan)
Jose Gonzales, RZA (Bobby Digital)
Mogwai
Scott Kannberg aka Spiral Stairs
No Age
Deerhunter
Dodos
Drive By Truckers
Extra Golden
Miss Murgatroid and Petra Hayden
Woodpigeon
Beans
Hot Little Rocket
The Broken West
Cave Singers
Wet Secrets
Pride Tiger
Portastatic
Headlights
Ramblin’ Ambassadors
Bison
Mother Mother
Elizabeth
Modern Man
Luther Wright
Whitsundays
Elliot Brood
Carolyn Mark and many more.

Full line up to be announced MAY 1st.

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.