STILL SINGLE
promo: DM @ BK Flea this Saturday Oct 25

Gonna bring a few boxes of records to sell at the Brooklyn Flea this Saturday Oct 25th. 10am-5pm, 176 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene. Please come over and buy stuff.

The Cats – Relax On Everyone LP (Manondor)

RECOMMENDED

This GREAT record out of Philadelphia showed up with little fanfare: record w/ paste-on sleeve, fake Matador logo, an invoice claiming I owe them $49.99 upon receipt of this promo. They deserve at least half of that (and are charging far less, like a reasonable $10 per LP) for this fine effort, steeped in the kind of splintered ‘90s indie rock filigree that comes with triangulation between Philly college radio/WPRB saturation, a sideline in Jersey Shore pop punk regionalism, with some great, and the low pressure of affordable living, with raspy female vocals in the Peppermint Patty vein. The lack of polish across all tracks here works to their advantage, veritable breathing holes inside their basement jar life as this five-piece crawls and scrapes their way through two sides of hooky, tire-kicking material, jumping carelessly between budget studio and noisy four-track. There’s been at least one comparison in my peer group to where the Crutchfield sisters are coming from, but at this late date, it’s not like anyone can really claim ownership to the music of two generations past, and lyrically (“Club M”) it would appear that The Cats have been around the block a few more times with regards to their location, and have a lot more to say about it. Locality at its finest. Strong work and I hope there’s more to follow. 225 numbered copies. (http://thecatsusa.bandcamp.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Death Wish – s/t one-sided 12” EP (Disclaim)

RECOMMENDED

Legendary in its rarity, the Death Wish demo is prime cut Boston HxC, direct, brutal and real. Few people had copies back in the ‘83-’84 era, when three of the seven songs recorded made their way to Boston college radio stations and received substantial airplay. Those three songs were bootlegged by two fellas from Matador Records sometime in ’89, and then once more by Lost & Found, so while I’m glad I never paid the $300 going rate for one of those Amory Arms 7”s, a similar predicament faces the modern consumer: in the USA, owning this record will cost you $25 shipped, and it will include a bonus CD of glam-metal tracks recorded by a later lineup, then trading as The Loved Ones, even though you came for the ‘core and nothing more. We’re looking at a one-sided 12”, pressed at 45, no liner notes or historical framing, packed in a black printed dust sleeve. That’s it. Just about eight minutes’ worth of music too, so that’s roughly something like $3+ per minute. Fortunately, in every other aspect, you can see exactly where that money’s gone: to a peerless mixdown at DC’s Inner Ear studios, a high-res mastering job by John Golden himself, and a quality RTI pressing. The music contained therein holds the real value, however; intensely focused hardcore that will stretch those minutes into an eternity of sick riffage, athletic drumming which achieves several feats of dizzying dexterity but never collapses under slop or cheatbeats, and nasty, anti-heroic vocals, all pushed to brooding breakdowns and then to the limits of human endurance. There are FAR more pointless things you’ve spent this kind of cash on in the past month: food you shat out, drinks you pissed away, gasoline that’s destroying the Earth. Why don’t you fucking go home and listen to this until you regress enough to remember what really matters? (http://www.disclaimrecordings.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Flexibles – Cities of the Narrow Universe 7” EP (Nyali)

Richard Youngs is so prolific and ready to collaborate that it was probably never a matter of if he would make a record with his son Sorley, but when. That day came about a year ago, when the kid turned up on his pop’s so-called country record for Ba-Da-Bing! But here he’s a full-fledged member of the band, not a guest. Kids lucky enough to grow up around record players know that one of the best things you can do with a record is put your find down while it’s playing and laugh at the monster voices, and the two Youngses (plus Andrew Paine, the third Flexible) put that impulse to work throughout these three songs. On the A side, low, rubbery vocals descend into a randomly programmed rhythm maelstrom, matching mutter for thump; Papa Youngs’ untreated lead voice slings one repeated line over the fray. The two songs on the other side are fairly similar. Like so many Youngs records, it’s about as essential as a diary page. It might be barely remarkable, but if it’s yours you won’t want to tear it out. For what? The day will come when recollection will put a smile on your face. (http://nyalirecordings.com)
(Bill Meyer)

Ipps – Everything Is Real LP (Superdreamer)

Let’s stick with this theme of regionalism for a bit, because it seems to be an unspoken force in driving bands from the state of Ohio to continue on. In the case of Ipps, it’s as raison d’etre as reasons get: four scene veterans (Bo and Emily Davis from Necropolis, Mat Bisaro from Guinea Worms, Michael O’Shaugnessy from El Jesus De Magico), all ex-members of bands that served as the fitted sheets for more outwardly mobile/lower thread-count Columbus bands of the past decade, configured to pay tribute to their peers and predecessors, in particular Times New Viking. The one-sheet that accompanies promo copies of Everything Is Real, their debut album, all but confirms this: lots of talk about people putting the time into their own scenes, and referencing a bunch of more memorable Columbus outfits to which Ipps are indebted.

Scene participation and boosterism has a range that ends at the county line of wherever you’re from on a good day, and often well before there; it might get you a buyback at the bar, but other cities have their own scenes to worry about, and in essence it makes this angle pursued by Ipps feel far more diminished than it might actually be. Their name even sounds too similar to The Yips, a wonderful Columbus duo from the ‘90s featuring the talented Gilmore Tamny. I can’t remember another Ohio band so determined to define themselves by the bent yardsticks of years and ensembles of their hometown prior, especially as so many of those bands were content to find a sound on their own; they worked out of necessity, and their cumulative efforts spoke for themselves.

Local pride isn’t a bad thing to celebrate by any means, but Ipps make it feel unbalanced and beyond the product at hand in a way that, for me at least, overshadows the music. That’s another story: the lineup is the Davises on vocals/guitar/sickly chord organ-keyboard thing, and two drummers who more often than not, sound like one. Adam Smith has given Ipps a very thin recording, the sort of thing that suits a band like Connections but occasionally misses the mark here. Sounds like the distorted hellscape synth that opens and closes “Dig Yr. Brain” take precedence over the guitar and the drums themselves, while the suspicious open air gap that hovers above “Never Sleep” pushes down on an already cloying melody, the feel of a Jeni’s ice cream binge that ends with a trip to the ER. Also, apart from guitar apocalypse tracks like closer “Goawa,” you can hear where the bass guitars should go, and the absence of some manner of thickening agent (another guitar? Guar gum? Carrageenan?) is too conspicuous not to notice. Bo Davis has to carry too much of these songs himself, and could use the support of additional instrumentation and some more ideas a little further away from this core retread.

Yet there is hope here. Quite a bit, actually: After three somewhat false starts, Ipps find their groove, be they in motormouthed punk (“Bring It All Down, Bury The Devil”), countrified electric fence nerve jangle (“H8 Yrself”), and a number of strong tracks elsewhere that fill in the potholes left by the three openers, all reflecting the strengths of whole TNV albums and occasionally bringing up their own. There’s definitely heaps of talent and sincerity in Ipps’ music, and a lot of promise within, and on future releases they should be made more evident. (http://www.superdreamerrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Melkbelly – Pennsylvania 12” EP (Automatic Recordings)

This Chicago-based quartet has been around barely a year, and they’re still figuring out what they’ll be when they grow up. Founding members Miranda and Bart Winters (married to each other, both play guitar, she sings) previously had a quiet duo, but recruited the rhythm section of Liam Winters (bass, brother of Bart) and James Wetzel (drums) to enable their impulse to rock. The effort to reconcile contradictory impulses (and, most likely, incompatible record listening habits) has yielded a handful of songs that aspire to energy and coherence, but can’t help but be a bit messy too. Side one’s three tracks, which bounce sprightly vocal melodies off of a shifting surface of bright, buzzy guitars and drumming that doesn’t want to stay in one place too long, work pretty consistently. Side two is an erratic mess, but maybe more interesting. There’s a 54 second fragment that could have earned them a single on Teen Beat in 1992, followed by a fairly awful wallow in semi-metallic heaviosity that one hopes they won’t repeat. Then comes an eight-minute, multi-part that builds to rave-up that answers the question, what if Katrina and the Waves had decided to turn into a Nirvana-inspired jam band? Miscegenation like that can’t last for long, but a more on-message expression might be a lot easier to ignore. Automatic is a fairly new label, until now involved with cassettes that you can buy from a dispenser machine inside a late night bar called The Owl. This record bodes well for their ability to execute where it counts; while only a mother could love the pasted-on cover illustration, the blue marble vinyl (45 RPM, 500 pressed) sounds decent. (http://automaticrecordings.bandcamp.com/releases)
(Bill Meyer)

Multicult – Variable Impulse LP (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia)

RECOMMENDED

Time to stop casting this band as some sort of remnant of the ‘90s that never washed out. Baltimore trio Multicult works hard to revitalize their tough American manufacturing sector tribute noise rock, muscled up and making moves in the correct directions. Nick Skrobisz is finding a lot more room to move as a guitarist jammed in between the confines of Rebecca Burchette’s punctuated bass and drummer Jake Cregger’s increasing moves towards the sort of inhuman, gapless/swingless style of play perfected by Jeff Mooridian of Hammerhead and Vaz. As a band, Multicult finally moves beyond influence into dialect (that little riff squig towards the end that Skrobisz fires off in the ever-shifting box-out of “Expressionless,” and the way he keeps on pulling out subtle jabs like that instead of committing to one riff per song; the gladiatorial stance taken on “Particle Shower” and “Jaws,” bass connecting on every snare hit and kick as the hi-hat knuckles the groove into place), and they cap it off with the sort of restrained, buried vocals that sound like the cyborg guy in the bike gang from “Weird Science” sitting alone at a bar, complaining to anyone who’ll listen. These ten songs reveal a lot of tricks, a great deal of growth, and closes in on the next rank in their arcane meritocracy. This is music that you can quantify, music that could exist on graph paper, and I’m ready to admit that it’s Always Been My Thing to enjoy this sort of stutter-step precision in my rock music, particularly when played with this much panache. (http://www.sleepinggiantglossolalia.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Pen Test – Biology 7” EP (Moniker)

If taxonomy is your thing, you could divide all of instrumental music into two categories – music that represents something, and music that simply is. While Pen Test’s online bio is full of big words suggesting big ideas, they’re merely vain red herrings. These tracks, whose label asks that they be spun at 45 but sound just fine at 33, aren’t about anything. One consists of a few passes of Dopplering sequencer tracks over table-knocking beats, the other some fluttering tones orbiting a four-note bass arpeggio. Their content does not invite reverie or fantasy, but it does demand that you deal with the heft and grain of their tones. Sometimes a solid sound is more than enough. (http://www.moniker-records.com)
(Bill Meyer)

Snob – s/t 7” EP (self-released)

RECOMMENDED

Part of the unholy smear of feminist punk rock currently haunting London, Snob set up with fake names and (I’m told) a connection to Good Throb, but the skeletal swing of that group is reconfigured, where the vocals carry the weight and pain, but the guitars, hardcore drumming and slamming bass unload all of the aggression, for a more balanced and traditional ranking-out of the various walking pieces of shit that infect the members’ lives. Topics include street harassment (“Harassed”), Boris Johnson (“Send In The Mayor,” which features a new classic lyric to close: “Now here’s a picture of your mayor caught on a zipwire”), a brilliant takedown of MRA types in “Mother” (“My mother’s a woman/Wah wah wah wah wah”), and the eschewing of irony/jokes in the service of denigrating others (“Sick Of it”). Guitar on this thing in particular is gnarly in a way followed by the few, and many of those RudiPeni comparisons leveled against this one really hold up. Pressing sounds like Snake ‘n’ Bacon but the songs are so killer it doesn’t matter. Essential slams from the rightfully fed up; eight middle fingers extended to the world. (http://snoblondon.bandcamp.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

JPMorgan Chase is gross/leaky and so is Facebook.

But Dan Selzer is a tremendous guy, a friend for the past 15 years, responsible for some of the most memorable nights of my early 20s at Plant Bar (and they were all Mondays, and some of them involved the Happy Mondays), who singlehandedly turned me and many other onto the music of the Desperate Bicycles, the Homosexuals, Gene Clark and countless others.

Dan is in the running to win a grant thanks to these gross organizations to fund his letterpress and design business. You can help him out by voting for him at the link below. I trust you’ll do it?

danselzer:

TUMBLR friends (strangers) I need (want) your help. Go here and click VOTE so that I can have a (tiny) chance and winning a (huge) grant to help my letterpress printing and graphic design business (life) Sheffield Product. Thank you in advance, because I know you’ll do it for me.

The Bats – Demo 5:26:84 12” EP (Mind Cure)

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RECOMMENDED

Many Pittsburghers with a stake in local music had heard about The Bats for years on end, got them confused with the New Zealand group that activated right around the same time, and since most of us weren’t there, we couldn’t rightly say what the deal was until now. From the memoirs of those who participated in this band, it almost seems like some of them were tricked or even drafted into its service, the product of some productive musicians trying something out in a different configuration, exhausting all other options, and bringing in a bunch of non-musicians, refusing to take “no” for an answer. They went on for a few years but the version we’re looking at now focuses on the spring of 1984, where for their first few months of existence, they conscripted Carnegie Mellon English Lit student and beloved bookseller Michael Chabon as their vocalist. Chabon was still a great many years removed from his Pulitzer, likely nursing a severe case of senioritis, and was about to traipse around Europe for a summer before heading off to UC Irvine. Certainly from this spirited, wholly atonal performance – likened to a really patience-testing impersonation of the god Ron House – he wasn’t going to be fronting too many more rock groups as a career choice. Musically, his bandmates (guitarists Sam Matthews and Ruth Ann Schmidt, bassist Lee Skirboll and drummer Mark Magee Miller) held it down admirably, playing loud, mid-‘80s apropos rockers with one foot in whatever happened after punk, another in Joy Division b/w a flange pedal, and both hands and head buried in the fertile jumble of the American underground. I really don’t want to put an asterisk near this one, as it’s fun/good/worthwhile (and kinda close enough to Ron House’s pre-Great Plains groups Moses Carryout and The Twisted Shouts that I have to wonder how much time these folks spent in Columbus, and vice versa), but your take might waver, depending on your interest in underheard Reagan-era (post-)collegiate Rust Belt bands fronted by eventually-celebrated novelists. Mind Cure’s labor-of-love release of the Bats’ four-song demo extends the recently-revived imprint as the undisputed caretakers of Pittsburgh’s punk past (and probably the last hope anywhere that the unreleased Swob LP Persis Hussey might ever see the light of day) turn out a product that, once again, features a great backstory, looks wonderful, and sounds the best it can, though you might wanna start with a song that’s not “Jet Away,” as Chabon’s vocal irritant against the mid-range qualities of the recording might scare a few off. Best to dip your toes in with the included digital download, particularly the 50-minute bonus live set, recorded three days before the studio session at venerable local punk dive The Electric Banana. Chabon really lets loose on some of these, and the band as well, overcoming the limits of cassette technology to make something enjoyable happen, if only for that month or two, and now for good. (http://www.mindcurerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Deaf Wish – St. Vincent’s 7” EP (Sub Pop)

RECOMMENDED

Beneficiaries of Sub Pop’s “Two or Three Cool Singles Per Annum” plan, here come four new bashers from Melbourne’s Deaf Wish (mems. Lower Plenty, Exhaustion), working out the sort of tense, droning-cum-violent guitar noise draped over skeletal rhythmic structures, architects all in the making and undoing of their own environments. As with them before, I’m reminded of Bailter Space, but with a bit more air to breathe, an approach more inviting and chaotic than totalitarian, one with more danger about it and one which really, really makes me hope to be able to see them play in Brooklyn this week, as I’ll bet these songs totally open up even further in the live setting. What a band, for real. Title track and “Radjik Beach” are my picks 2 click, and “Cool Comment” is nice as well. Blue vinyl. (http://www.subpop.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Jerry David DeCicca – Understanding Land LP (self-released)

RECOMMENDED

Stunning, stark, well-orchestrated solo debut from singer-songwriter Jerry DeCicca, formerly of the Black Swans, and hanging that name up (likely in deference to the tragic passing of his collaborator in that group, Noel Sayre) in order to let out a record of stilled sadness. Sketched out in London onto tapes that were sent off to his collaborators, though you’d never know this to be an assemblage of home recordings, so full and deep and resonant, you’d think the performers – among them Will Oldham, Kelley Deal and Spooner Oldham – are all right in the room with him, and with you. DeCicca’s got a really wide range, in case you’ve never heard the Black Swans before, and here he applies that experience into a very personal affair, walled on one side by Leonard Cohen and the other by Townes Van Zandt (indicative of DeCicca’s latter-day move to Texas from Ohio), within which a lonely valley rests and glitters in the light of the moon above. Side two opens up a bit, leaning on slightly brighter traditions (“I Want Nothing” and “Bloom Again” being the highlights here), trading on hope where so much darkness has come before. There are a lot of guys playing in this form, but within seconds of Understanding Land’s intro, you’ll know why and how DeCicca has run laps around nearly all of them. (http://www.jerrydaviddecicca.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Eastlink – s/t LP (In The Red)

RECOMMENDED

Like most Australian bands of note of late, the core membership of Eastlink features a bunch of people also involved in other bands (in this case, mems. Total Control, Lakes, Repairs, UV Race, Dick Diver, Lower Plenty, Straightjacket Nation, and on and on). Unlike most Australian bands, Eastlink explores the connections between a band with a fluid instrumental base, in this case being a five-piece band where the drummer is the only constant, leaving the other four to wield guitars, basses, saxophones, synths and the like. When directed as you might expect, four guitars together sound like a weapon, ably demonstrated on Eastlink’s storming demo tape (from which two essential 7” singles were pulled). Any band playing with such a saturated, monomaniacal sound as they did there could be satisfied with that being enough as their “thing” per se, but on Eastlink’s first full-length, the palette is opened up even further, locating that exact point where punk rock becomes a mantra, where protest fuses into meditation. You hear evidence of both these spheres as they collide across these nine tracks, some taking the shape of long Eastern ruminations (“Dinnerchat” doesn’t seem too far off from what you might’ve found on a Sun City Girls record in the early ‘90s), some of downtown NYC (“Thatcher’s Dead” drones on as an instrumental in the Branca/SY vein), some of countryside barns and London squats (overall there’s a strong sense of the same chanting experimentalism and sprawl that you’d have found out of the Swell Maps). There’s a certain loss of power here when compared to the totality of their earlier recording, but the space provided in between the instruments allows this band to grow and change, to become more than they’ve already proven. You still get your punk slams – frontman/ex-pat Johann Rashid is happy to remind you of this on the discontented slam of opener “What A Silly Day (Australia Day)” – but Eastlink is more than happy to pound in the “post” descriptor and use it to become any kind of band they feel like, which I’ll happily take over most anyone’s genre exercise or flat-soled retreads. (http://www.intheredrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Golden Pelicans – s/t LP (Total Punk)

RECOMMENDED

Oftentimes I want nothing more than what this record delivers: straight up hard rock ‘n’ roll, strong riffs and a whiff of “othering” standoffishness that borders between obscenity and storytelling/legend, with a singer who sounds like a. he really means it, no matter what the lyrics read like, and b. he could at least place in, if not outright win, a Kevin DuBrow soundalike competition. Look, I HAVE SPECIFIC NEEDS and Florida’s Golden Pelicans accomplish exactly what I require, waste no time in getting there, and do their flagging state/economy/morally debilitated populace proud. Songs straddle the line between real issues (the rich kid slummers of “Chad + Stacie,” mustering civic pride in “Pissing in a Puddle of Puke”) and fantasy/spectacle (the hallucinogenic “Turquoise & Silver,” witchcraft in killer closer “Hard to Swallow”), but neither song type loses anything in the switch. A far lesser writer pegged this one in a brief, pointless review as “eight stomping tracks, for nearly 16 minutes of the rawest and meanest punk rock around,” and while it’s hard to argue with facts – the record is also a reliable 12 inches in diameter, and Total Punk was courteous enough to provide a paper inner sleeve for each copy to keep it from getting scratched up – just a little explanation of what might be in store for the listener would help. Vocabulary is everything, as is experience, and it seems like Golden Pelicans take both of these well over the line; I’m thinking of a band like the Murder City Devils or Tight Bros From Way Back When actually fuckin’ givin’ ‘er, and my wait time for such a thought to be actualized is about as brief as my distance between this record and the turntable. (http://floridasdying.com)
(Doug Mosurock)