Friday, October 31, 2014

Harpoon Forever The American Flag EP on Sweaters & Pearls Records


A while back I covered a release on Bleeding Gold Records from Harpoon Forever. Immediately it reminded me of my formative years of seven inch single purchases from Pavement, The Strapping Fieldhands and Silver Jews among others. It's not that I want to compare Harpoon Forever to any of these guys and set the bar impossibly high, I just got the sense that Alex Goldstein wasn't chasing any current trend, just playing a laid back thoughtful indie rock that I didn't hear much of anymore. We ended up talking after that post about a lot of things including this idea for a seven inch EP of four songs called "American Flag" that Alex had felt always belonged together on vinyl. Alex had thought out every detail of the package and I agreed to put it out on my own Sweaters & Pearls label.

Once we put together the sleeve, a portrait of Alex by Derrick Kpeli I contacted Albany artist Travis Kostell to get started on alternate silkscreened matchbook covers for the first 50 and you can see photos of his process here.

The project has finally come together and I hope the rest of the stuff that goes along with the music carries some of that perfect 7" forever sound that I fell for.

Listen to a conversation Alex and I had about the record:


You can also stream the entire release below:



Thanks.

Jason

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Wrong Man "Keep Face" EP on Swashbuckling Hobo Records


I'll admit I'm completely jealous of this sound. If I could go back knowing what I think I know now I'd cut right to the chase and play as a duo in the same post punk weird rhythmic style that's part math but mostly charging ahead with the kind of direction only two people can have. The Wrong Man out of Brisbane, Australia is doing just that kind of stripped down perfection. Forced to make a lot of noise out of very little is always a recipe for this kind of sound and these five tracks don't ever feel short or crammed in just to make a point. Just exactly right.

The A-Side starts with "Atomic" and it's massive fast sound with two chords see sawing over anther rhythm plowing away ending in cymbal crashes. It's a real off kilter strut, a manic scuzzy sound with low register vocals that are barely audible in the middle of this stress. Like Peter Murphy filling in for The Famines. It's a crushing, pushy sound that's going to take up all the space and some of it that wasn't even offered. Frantic and quick vocals keep this evenly paced while the messy solos try to launch this right off the cliff. Post punk to a hardcore extreme. "Lay for me" has the immediacy of a stripped down and raw configuration, the rhythms they're working through are the best part, blown out and creating a huge tension with this toppling over sound and bellowing talky vocal from Fred. The sense of timing is what makes these tracks, keeping it simple with a cruel sense of timing. Everything is made out of great moments with no room for filler. "Victimized" has a rough guitar part raking through strings and high distortions in metallic tin playing above the fretboard. An impressive sound of scraping strings in a textural way with no regard for melody or fret position or chords - none of that matters - just the physicality of pushing the strings, having their way with the instrument.

B-Side's "Red Tag" opens on a crazy hum tone and the guitar rips this open with gritty distortion. A creepy riff that at first has tones of the Cramps, easy to compare to Fred's menacing baritone, but the chorus section is ridiculously great. Repeating the title of the track when they break for a moment it opens up on big swinging riffs and jangle directly opposed to the delivery and tone of the lyric. "Bell" has an even slower almost Shellac style riff in microscopic crunch. The baritone comes out even stronger with a different tone from the rest of the record, bigger and thicker. The odd timing seems to wind around itself losing a measure each time ending up with massive chords in a slow tension with hypnotizing straight ahead rhythm. Simple chords but they make this so full of attitude, style and volume that it's amazing.

Get this in Australia from Swashbuckling Hobo Records or locally from Easter Bilby?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Motormouth Mabel on Tick Tock Records


Motormouth Mabel is a four piece out of Charleston, NC who don't get a chance to get together much these days but when they do they're known for some pretty epic live shows and recording singles with Charlie McAlister in an evening.

A-Side "Permanent Vacation" has the great sound of a tape winding up to speed and the feedback from four guys just getting ready to scuzz rock out together in the same damn room. It says Charlie recorded this onto 8 track and 1/4" tape and definitely used some of his own cruddy techniques to make capturing this the number one concern. Whatever they're doing it's coming on thick with the crunchy static and attitude of Buck Biloxi or Life Stinks in the basement under the basement. The vocals from CJ are bouncing off the walls but not peaking out, just right on the edge of those levels. They really get into the chaos with a wall of solo's that transitions into a slow drone with some introspective lyrics. Don't discount this as a drunken night, even if they did write that on the back of the grocery bag. Real dirty punk that's been at this for years and isn't losing it anytime soon.

"Stop and Chats" counts in on a messed up amp sound but this one has more of a rock jangle and CJ is way up there in a high register with manic vibrato. The chords chug away sounding like a those post punks The Embarrassment on this one. CJ makes it all about the vocal melody here while the band works through the three chords, completely different feel from that rough A-Side, thin sounding and clean but with that energy from attacking this as one unit. The track ends with some behind the scenes chatting and feels like listening back to rehearsal tapes and makes me want to get the band back together.

On yellow baby poo vinyl (I know), screen printed on the back of a piggly wiggly grocery bag with a "PROK" sticker....all scuzzy and awesome. Not much info about where to pick this up, contact the guys on their facebook maybe?

Also just found this screencap from The Walking Dead:


That's a shirt from these guys. Whoa.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones on Certified PR Records


Damn. Hue Blanc and his Joyless Ones have been around for just over ten years. Think about all the bands that have started and broken up, makes you think you just have to outlast all the bands that had a trendy idea or sound and put out a record or two. Those flashes in the pan are nice but only end up reminding you of a specific time and place. Those weird footnotes that came out of nowhere and immediately sound dated. Then there's Hue who isn't wide eye'd and naive anymore, after a split with Pink Reason and releases on Columbus Discount and SS Records they have just kept on doing what they want to do which is laying on a scuzzy psych with a measure of garage blues here and there.

A-Side's "Bearing On The Moor" opens on a hammond organ falling down the fretboard into a jangly psych in the fuzzy style of The Super Vacations or The Jacuzzi Boys. It's a dense ramshackle pop that has a mind of it's own, Hue on vocals has a buried reverb tough delivery sticking to the shadows to be that menacing presence. Talking to the kids about walking alone at night in his concrete garage smashing and stumbling around at night. Keeping this track laid back and spooky sounding, because the moor is no place for anyone and definitely not this time of year. Howling at the joyless ones, these guys take the scowling seriously and the hooks are part of the show.

B-Side's "Pant and Heave" has a higher thin treble guitar that opens up with a smear of distortion. Hue seems in better spirits here getting into a Replacements style rock sound, not sticking to closely to the script and getting fast and easy with this melody. A couple of drinks should do it, cymbals and solos, the drawl and hoots turning this into a private party, putting this together all in the same room no overdubs, live sounding and calling this the last take.

Pick this up from Certified PR Records on grey marble vinyl.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Eohippus 'Getting Your Hair Wet With Pee' single sided 7" from Velocity of Sound Records


I got word from Velocity of Sound this weekend about their latest single from the band Eohippus. They've put out some amazing pressings in the past, smoke color color clear vinyl, split black and white... but what do you think they would do for a track called "Getting Your Hair Wet With Pee?" Why fill those piss soaked tiny records with human hair of course. I don't want to know where they got human hair but I can tell you that yes, they actually play on a turntable. VOS went and pressed these up anyway without a care if they would skip like hell. Darren personally tested every copy and the only thing stopping them from spinning is your own needles fragile sensibilities.
I remember when Darren told me this idea a while back and his insane conversations with the pressing plant. The fact this even exists is because Darren is completely bonkers and just had to see if it would work. His crazy imagination and curiosity put this out into the world and as hard as it is to believe - this may not be the last hair filled single you see in your lifetime. It's too good of an idea not to steal.

But we should talk about the track after all. This is a single sided single and that made my job that much easier, so right away I'm on the bands side. But who are these guys? No website, no info on the mysterious duo? Three piece? I don't even know where they're from. I have a sneaking suspicion it's the VOS house band but he's not talking.
The track itself starts with the messy plinks of a heavily reverb'd electric and some maniac screaming about trusting him - because he's going to get your hair wet with pee. Darren introduced me to the Froggs and I can definitely hear that influence from those lack of tastemakers and is more evidence that Eohippus was listening to those records too. It's an epic Beefheart psych jam, with all guitars swirling in hurricane's and into black holes. The vocals focus on that title and what's going to happen to your hair. Now that I think about it, this kind of song would appropriately mark the occassion. It's not something that happens everyday. I know there are people on the internet that even like it. The song does inply that it's not your own pee though. I feel dirty but at least I don't have to flip this over.

Get it from Velocity of Sound Records who are going to have a lot of questions to answer when the post office asks him if he's shipping anythign hazardous, perishable or potentially dangerous. This single is kind of a federal crime. Don't even ask to ship this internationally. That's boderline terrorism.

VOS says:

Strictly limited to 100 "hair filled, piss soaked vinyl"

Cover art available in black or red hand stamped ink

Friday, October 24, 2014

Red Red Krovvy on R.I.P. Society Records


I really can't chalk up the great stuff coming out of Australia to just being bombarded by releases lately. Send enough in and the sheer numbers will take care of the rest? I think it has more to do with some of the labels that keep being behind exceptional releases; Dick Diver on Chapter Music, Kitchen's Floor on Bedroom Suck or Woollen Kits, Royal Headache and Cured Pink on R.I.P. Society. Red Red Krovvy are also on the R.I.P. so the bar is already set pretty high. What you get it frantic post punk punk an entire EP that reminds you why the format exists and how exciting tiny vinyl can be.

A-Side's "Dreams" has four notes in that broken down gutter distortion set the pace of this fast and spastic Yips style busted punk. Those rising scale chords rev this up to speed and they're finished. Ash on vocals is making this loud and loose while Adam and Ben give it just enough bass-less structure that isn't weighed down sounding stripped down and sharp. Another version of a perfect three piece the way it should be. "Ratking" buzzing guitars on this one, back and forth of a kick and snare with Ash belting out "You are the rat king!" The exact reason that seven inch singles became the choice of punk rock - here's an entire album in a convenient size. On "ICU" the guitars provide that numbing rusty can of thin strums that gives Ash room to chant vocals like the ugly baby of Divorce and the Coathangers. There's nothing funny or approachable about these guys, the tone is perfect, recorded in a basement, mattresses propped up against the wall, an authentic level of fidelity here. Tin guitar through metallic amps and those vocals are like the scrappy smart punk of Kitten Forever, struggling to keep above the static hiss of practice amps On "People of Cairns" I'm having trouble following Ash's rapid fire delivery, the metallic chords and slappy drums have now taken over their sound and rush it along with these lyrics. It should work alongside hardcore but retains it's laid back feel if that makes any sense. Putting just enough effort into this art punk to keep that edge.
B-Side's "EZ Video" is pure caveman punk, instead of a brutal hardcore they spit this up into clever pieces with sonic youth style inside tunings and timings at speed. Like a rough slap in the face there's nothing delicate for miles, bash the drums and repeat the chords. Strings scraping minus any low end letting loose on "Desire" the open high hat blending into the harsh string vibration. No sense in making this any longer, short attention spans are getting shorter and this is the only thing that makes sense anymore. "Centrelink King" Actually slows down into a drone-y cutting rhythm and Ash even pauses between her vocals getting more unhinged the slower they dare to make this.

Get this from R.I.P. Society Records who give some good advice on the B-side center label for retaining sound quality for years to come.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Kidnappers on Secret Mission Records


Germany's Kidnappers are led by twin brothers who first picked up the guitar and bass in the High School Rockers a scuzzy blown out pop punk which is exactly like this project The Kidnappers. After a brief hiatus since 2010's Will Protect You they're back with this EP on Secret Mission Records.

On A-Side "Pills" strange little bass line starts the groove for these guitars to clang feedback out then to follow, going from that weird see saw to a thicker open groove and blown out distorted vocals revisiting that stunted, stumbly punk sound. There's a lot of the free roam garage sound from the early days of the stuff, the straight forward desires of the Dictators or The Dolls. Using blunt instruments with no finese to carve a path of classic punk. "I got a pain in my head / take pills until I'm dead" "East Berlin/Ost-Berlin" all the rough distortion comes in from the right side, splitting the channels up like the country used to be...fast and ripping tight chords like the german equivalent of 53rd and 3rd, the stutter bursts of Joey style lyrics and guitars. They seem to stick to this raw stripped down stuff that makes them lose their mind. A brief stop in the buzz always makes the return that much louder and frantic. Power pop punk that we should be hearing more of from that part of the world.

B-Side "Diamonds" blasts away with sweet glam chords with lyrics about wanting to get into fights. The bass line running groovy scales behind this fuzzy distortion like '70s flashier stuff. I'm starting to think they're The Cheap Time of Germany or The Hunx of Hamburg. Complete chaos over a screamy solo doesn't hurt things either, blasting away all of the candy coating for a minute. Essentially a real bad ass song about his diamond steel and what that's going to do in said fight but delivered the only way someone who's really looking forward to the best night of their lives would be.

Get this single from Secret Mission Records, plenty more full lengths from these guys once you get a taste.