New Reviews at Still Single, June 18th

A new batch of reviews I’ve written for Doug Mosurock’s Still Single column have been added to the tumblr site. Check ‘em out here:

City Center – Spring St. one-sided 12” EP (Quite Scientific Records)

Playing perfectly nice acoustic guitar-based pastoral pop from with occasional electronic flourishes, Fred Thomas’ City Center project makes some nice music that wouldn’t be out-of-place alongside similar artists such as Greg Davis, Mountains, and, hell, perhaps even Fennesz. Pretty decent, though not outstandingly great. Limited to 500, one-sided, screen-printed copies on clear vinyl. (http://www.quitescientific.com)

Steve Gunn – Boerum Palace LP (Three Lobed Recordings)


There’s been a lot of guitar players down the pike since the New Weird America became the same old shit, but Steve Gunn’s no joke. Former member of GHQ with Marcia Bassett (Hototogisu, Zaimph, Double Leopards, etc.), and occasional guest guitar grumbler with Magik Markers, Gunn doesn’t necessarily seem like the kinda guy to willfully approach the American Songwriter Tradition (with or without capitalization), but he does so with aplomb on Boerum Palace, his second full-length. The first song, “Mr. Franklin,” perfectly showcases Gunn’s approach, with its jaunty finger-picked guitar, slightly mumble-fied lyrics, and sweet pedal steel guitar that shows up towards the end (courtesy of D. Charles Speer & the Helix member Marc Orleans). Thankfully, Gunn’s got more than just one idea, and fills the album with lots of triumphant sounds. Though Gunn’s songs include flourishes of electric guitar and vocal melodies along with his acoustic figures, he in some ways is closer to the spirit, dare I say it, of John Fahey and Jack Rose due to the sheer joy his music provides. Edition of 823. (http://www.threelobed.com)

Hey Colossus and the Van Halen Time Capsule – Eurogrumble Vol. 1 LP (Riot Season) / Hey Colossus/Dethscalator – Vs. split LP (Black Labs)

The six-member UK-based outfit Hey Colossus brings a whole mess of noisy rub n’ tugging on Eurogrumble Vol. 1. While the opening number “The Question” plows through the same post-Flipper fields that a number of their American cousins do, Hey Colossus manages, on their fifth full-length, to throw in a couple of substantial riffs, with some strange atmospherics, totally indecipherable vocals on top, and what sounds like samples here and there (so ‘90s, fellas!). Hell, some moments such as the riff-tastic “Shithouse” might described as downright metal, in a gloom way (nothing here approaches Van Halen whatsoever, despite the name). The title track starts off side two much more quietly, with some banjo scraping and synth-work which gives in to more metallic pummeling. Over the course of the side, pounding gives way to more formlessness, but returns now and again in varying degrees of intensity without any break. The eleven-minute long side-ender “Wait Your Turn” turns up the aggravation a notch, capping what feels like a side-long suite. On the split with Dethscalator, released on Riot Season’s “sister” label Black Labs, Hey Colossus present about the same sound as the full-length, while Dethscalator take a much more straight-forward approach, if aping the Jesus Lizard counts as straight-forward. Not really my kinda thing, but not unenjoyable either. Both releases limited to 500 copies. (http://www.riotseason.com) (http://www.myspace.com/blacklabsinc)

Giuseppe Ielasi – (Another) Stunt LP (Schoolmap/Taiga)

Part of the fun (for me, not necessarily for you, the reader) of reviewing records for Still Single is receiving new releases about which I have no earthly idea. Such is the case with (Another) Stunt, the new LP by Giuseppe Ielasi, who apparently is some sort of Euro turntable guy. And by turntable guy, I don’t mean just another hip-hop “turntablist” out to wow the crowd with his behind-the-back scratch skills, as Ielasi is rooted in what used to be called “glitch” music, of intentional skips, scrapes, and wheezes, micro-popularized at the turn of the century, by a group of almost-always-European artists such as Fennesz and Thomas Brinkmann. The impressive feat – that these acts managed to break into new audiences, impressing even more than just dudes with tiny glasses and receding hairlines – brings us to this Ielasi disc: there’s nothing happening here musically that wasn’t going on a decade ago. While it’s a completely pleasant listen, I’m not sure that it’s possible for anyone to be nostalgic for glitch just yet. Edition of 500. (http://www.schoolmap-records.com) (http://www.taigarecords.com)

Magik Markers/Sic Alps – split 12” EP (Yik Yak)

For most people, Magik Markers are an either/or proposition: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. I’ve never been anything but an unabashed fan, even through their more recent “melodic” period while recording for Drag City. However, it definitely took me a while to warm up to Sic Alps, despite their music being theoretically the sorta thing all thirty-something record nerds would go for. By the time of last year’s West Coast tour with Magik Markers, for which this split 12” was released, I’d put the skepticism aside and jumped on board the Alps train, which of course moves in fits and starts, is incredibly noisy and occasionally off-putting, but nonetheless is quite the thrill ride. On the Markers side of the split, things mellow out even more, but that’s not a bad thing. If you’re a fan of both bands, and you don’t have this yet, go ahead and spring for it. (http://www.yikyak.net)

Gil San Marcos – Domes LP (Bombay Cove)

Domes is touted as “the definitive recordings from Gil San Marcos, who spent a few years performing, touring, and cultivating the sound” heard within, which ranges from spare glitch, to sweet drones, to noisy assaults. As if to prove that no sound present was made with an actual instrument, the sleeve lists the devices used for each track – it’s almost as long as the thank-you list! Stand-outs include “Every Clock and Wristwatch,” which includes both angry clouds of noise and a subtle background drone, and “Mass Grave (Live in Nashville),” recorded live at Grimey’s in Music City, U.S.A. If you listen closely, you can hear Conway Twitty rolling over in his grave. Colored vinyl. http://www.bombaycove.com)

Various Artists — Does Your Cat Know My Dog? (Three Four)

On this compilation, curated by the staff at a restaurant/venue somewhere in Switzerland that apparently hosts music fests, there’s a pretty wide range of styles, and names both familiar and unknown. Bonnie “Prince” Billy starts off the proceedings with a live version of “Love Comes to Me” which starts things off on a somber, sober note. The rest of the side features a bunch of similar sounding no-names, along with a collaboration between Carla Bozulich and Ches Smith, the former being a vocalist whose music I’ve never, ever been able to enjoy. Sorry. On the flipside, Sunn O))) and Sonic Youth are the only other marquee names, and aside from their tracks (neither of which are that essential), nothing much sticks out here, either. Edition of 650. (http://www.three-four.net)

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