Tag Archives: Still Single

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)

New Reviews at Still Single, December 14th

Still more reviews I’ve written for Still Single have been added to the tumblr site. And here they are:

Jen Paul/Jeans Wilder — s/t split LP (La Station Radar)

Jen Paul dials in some heavy reverb guitar, with occasional singing and percussion – that is whenever he/they bother to write a song that lasts longer than 30 seconds. Nothing special, at least nothing that you haven’t heard tried in the past decade or two since Loveless. The Jeans Wilder side is some poorly played, out-of-tune, lower-than-lo-fi grit that even Kurt Vile wouldn’t release as a b-side on some sub-sub-sub-“hip” label. Wait, did I write that? Limited edition of 300. (http://lastationradar.com)

Oneohtrix Point Never — Zones Without People LP (Arbor)

Oneohtrix Point Never is a project by Daniel Lopatin, who seems to be upping the ante in the retro-synth sweepstakes. Zones Without People begins as a pretty fantastic set of deceptively-simple melodic pieces set somewhere between the futurism of early ‘70s Cluster or Tangerine Dream, the pastoralism of Boards of Canada (without the beats), and the looking-backwards-yet-forward sensibilities of current peers such as Emeralds. On the second side, Oneohtrix Point Never shifts further into overdrive, as the melodies are occasionally dispersed with shrill stabs and ominous minor-key rumblings. Whether you’re into music as blatant about its influences is up to you, but personally I can’t get enough of well-done synthesizer music, which Zones Without People most certainly is. Limited to 500, first edition already out of print. (http://www.arborinfinity.com)

James Ferraro — CITRAC 2xLP (Arbor)

Some pretty strange stuff on this mishmash of a double album from James Ferraro, who you may also know as one-half of Skaters. The first album, subtitled Left Behind: Postremo Mundus Techno-Symposium (and previously released elsewhere), is some sort of meditation on the creepy Christian Left Behind series of books and movies, Kirk Cameron, tribal tattoos, homoeroticism, one-world order conspiracy theories, and some other nonsense. Music-wise, the first LP is filled with the sort of warped noisy kling-klang you’d expect (unfortunately beset with some strange moans and groans), oblivious to whatever the underlying concept may be. The second album of the set, subtitled Wired Tribe/Liquid Metal Excerpt I, is musically more straightforward, but less satisfying, as Side C begins with some throbbing industrial noise, quickly giving way to what sounds like bleed-through from someone listening to a 1980s porn soundtrack in another room. As the side progresses the cheese continues, as some very 1980s electro-ish sounds filtered through cheap equipment dominate the proceedings, occasionally interspersed with jarring edits, and then rounded out at the end by some more moaning. Finally, the last side is made up of two recordings Ferraro previously released under his Liquid Metal moniker, and these are also filled with some twisted ‘80s cheese, much like the side before them. Frankly, it’s a bit of a mystery why these pretty disparate projects were lumped together in one release. (http://www.arborinfinity.com)

Eleh/Nana April Jun — Observations & Momentum split LP (Touch)

For the first three, maybe four years of this decade, the Touch label couldn’t really do wrong when it came to releasing some spare-ass music. From the first non-Mego Fennesz releases, to Ryoji Ikeda’s primary forays outside of Japan, to a million other fantastic yet stereotypically dry recordings, Touch seemingly had the finger on the pulse of post-academic, post-minimalist electronic music. However, there are only so many austere-yet-expensive imports of relatively minimalist stuff one can own. Catching back up with the label, this release, one of a series of split LPs, renews faith that Touch, while not really releasing records that are that different from each other, might still be worth investigating. Though the liners namedrop La Monte Young, Pauline Oliveros, and Charlemagne Palestine, what the Eleh side really seems like is homage to an important ‘90s contribution to the minimalist oeuvre, Thomas Koner’s Permafrost. The Nana April Jun side is more of the same bleak winter sounds, but instead of being stuck under ice, you’re stuck on the side of a mountain, enveloped in a blizzard. Either way, it’s hopeless, so just give in. (http://www.touchmusic.org.uk)

Dialing In — The Islamic Bomb LP (Music Fellowship)

There’s something about this release by Dialing In, the solo moniker of one Reita Piecuch of Seattle, which rubs me the wrong way, and it’s not just the semi-offensive title. Basically, the album is a collage consisting of street sounds from a trip Piecuch took to Pakistan, cut up and made into her own brutally tough music. However, the methodology isn’t the problem: it’s the end result, which ultimately isn’t that pleasant to listen to. It’s not unpleasant in the sense that most noise music strives to be (and usually isn’t), but rather it’s unpleasant in that Piecuch’s finished compositions don’t seem to add very much to the found material. Instead of illuminating that material by extrapolating, say, a strange melody out of some anonymous voice, Piecuch instead adds layers of expressive, yet empty sonic murk on top of what otherwise might be pretty interesting field recordings. Jade green vinyl, limited to 500 copies. (http://www.musicfellowship.com)

Big Nurse — American Waste LP (High-Density Headache Records)

It may not be obvious to you lucky people who live on either coast and can walk/run/take public transportation to whatever good record store you happen to live by, but living in a flyover state, much less a red state, can be rough, music-wise. For every gem-in-the-rough such as Big Nurse one might uncover, one still has to endure a fair amount of friends who still want to express how “cutting edge” Vampire Weekend is. Whatever. Anyway, Big Nurse is the real deal. They’re a four-piece, underground rock racket from Nashville, and from what I hear on American Waste, they might probably be the pick of the current lo-fi litter. Seriously, this record smokes in a way that only twentysomethings with no hope of ever being heard can smoke. Humorless record nerds all across the Midwest will want to figure out how they can get a copy, once they figure out years from now that the shambolic retard-rock bordering on Kraut-style bliss in these grooves is pure genius. Did I mention that the ridiculously over-the-top super-long first side is entitled “Runnin’ With the Devil”? Well now I did. Limited edition of 200. (http://highdensityheadache.blogspot.com) (http://www.myspace.com/bignurse)

New Reviews at Still Single, December 9th

I’ve been asked, nay commanded, to contribute to Doug Mosurock’s infamous Still Singles column, both at the tumblr site, and on Dusted. It’s an absolute pleasure to once again be part of the reviewing team (my last review for Still Single was written over two years ago), and I thought I’d share with you the fruits of my labors (in reverse order than on the site):

1069, s/t 3×7″ EP (self released)

This box mysteriously showed up at the record store I used to work at, a nice purple thing with a sticker reading “Limited Edition of 100” over the opening. Upon further review after purchase, it turns out to be a new project by Louisville punk rock pioneers Steve “Chili” Rigot (of the legendary Endtables) and Michael O’Bannon (of Blinders and Antman, among many other projects), aided and abetted by young whippersnappers Sandy and Van Campbell (the latter the drummer of the Black Diamond Heavies). However, if you’re expecting some fast, futuristic tunes, 1069 (named after the address of Louisville’s first “punk house” – whose lot is now occupied by a Taco Bell) will bound to disappoint: laconic, slow-chooglin’ yet tender country rock (with more emphasis on country than rock) is the order of the day here, which immediately brings to mind the first couple of Palace Brothers recordings – back when nobody outside of Louisville knew who Will Oldham was. Unfortunately, though the tunes are fine, it seems like every single old dude from the punk scene in Louisville has already “gone country.” While Rigot and O’Bannon’s take is more tolerable than some of their peers, at this point I’m a little over it. Still, if you like finding out where-they-are-now (as I certainly do), you’ll enjoy 1069. Just not sure where the hell you’ll be able to find this, since it’s self-released. Maybe try calling Ear X-tacy in Louisville to see if they have any copies left? Limited to 100.

Stillbirth/Prurient — The Mirror of Purification split 7″ (Semata Productions)

It’s been quite some time since I’ve checked out what Prurient’s Dominick Fernow’s been up to, whether that’s a function as now living in a flyover red state whose major city eschews noise (but they love it in Lexington, apparently), or being fully domesticated, I’m not sure. However, I’m glad I did, if only to hear something completely different from what I’m used to. The Stillbirth track, “The View Untangled,” has some nice mysterious computer sounds, almost akin to a chance meeting between Pita (the laptopper), the Caretaker (the V/VM-related weirdo), and pita (the bread) on a delicatessen tray. Fernow’s side isn’t much different, aesthetically, from Stillbirth, as processed synth and percussion sounds meld with some surprisingly suppressed spoken phrases I can’t quite make out, with a moan here and there. If anything, both tracks are too short, because by the time they’ve finished I’m still stuck wondering what’s going on. That’s not a bad thing. Grey marble vinyl, limited to 500. (http://semataproductions.com)

Smokers Please — “Flensing” b/w “Grey Christmas” 7″ (Yoko Ono Tribute Weekend)

Noisy one-man-band squall over viola drone and guitar fuckery on the A-side, which may or may not excite you. Having heard plenty of records by A Handful of Dust, I wasn’t particularly excited, frankly. The label says to play at 33, but 45 sorta sounded better. B-side goes into “quiet, please” territory, and I’m not sure that’s much more of a thrill, either. This single left not much of an impression at all, and if the label didn’t have such a goofy name, I’d probably forget it in the middle of writing this review. Further research reveals that it’s a product of a New Zealander (Ben Spiers, of Glory Fckn Sun – Ed.) 250 copies. (http://www.yokoonotributeweekend.com)

Pigeons — Lunette 7″ EP (Soft Abuse)

More post-Vivian Girls jingle-jangle and cooey female vocals smothered in layers of fuzz and reverb. Somehow, it’s surprising to me that this style is so in vogue these days. If you had a time machine, you could go back twenty-five years, play someone this record, throw a paisley shirt on, suddenly you’d be transformed into a 50 year-old dude from Los Angeles that nobody cares about. But I suppose if I could predict when musical trends would crop up decades later, I’d be running a record label. Not sure why this sort of skilled-yet-not ineptitude is so prevalent, or why this band with NNCK connections (as I discovered from Google just now) exists, but there you have it. (http://www.softabuse.com)

Dean McPhee — Brown Bear 12″ EP (Hood Faire)

Despite my initial skepticism towards Young Britons doing their take on Americana (though truth be told, some UK residents such as Ben Reynolds do it quite well), Dean McPhee’s solo 12” is a fairly decent take on late, reverb-soaked Fahey, or perhaps Loren Mazzacane Connors. That is, it’s certainly pleasant, though not particularly aggressive; perhaps polite in that oh-so-peculiar manner we Colonials expect. No rough guitar instrumentals akin to Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack, instead we get two short pieces on the first side, and a side-long piece on the second. And it’s over there where the politeness melds into a bit of sobering boredom, wherein McPhee smothers his once-again decent ability in typical guy-with-a-Line6 territory. However, if you like post-Fahey instrumental guitar, there’s enough here to at least point to some promising future releases. (http://www.hoodfaire.co.uk)

Dark Lingo — Little Black Glasses 7″ EP (Dear Skull)

Dark Lingo is a duo of Sandy Patton, of Memphis, Tennessee’s Wet Labia (who I’m not familiar with) and Nick Patton of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Centipede Eest (who I am), and what we have here is the rare single which actually sounds kinda fun. An art product germinated in the much-ballyhooed creative class crater that is Braddock, PA, they market themselves as some manner of “ESG meets Hawkwind” blather, but what I hear is more early-1990s quirkiness (Thinking Fellers, Trumans Water, etc.) stripped down to bass, drums, and vocal basics. Lo-fi, no frills, no frivolous attempts to mask the fact that it’s a duo playing, and hardly much treble or midrange at all, which is fine with me. Lyrics on the A-side, “Little Black Glasses,” even made me chuckle once or twice. (http://www.myspace.com/dearskullrecords)

More reviews are on the way!