7″ Highlights

Cross-posted on isotria blaring

Reviving my effort to highlight particularly good new 7″ releases, today I want to bring your attention to the Manhattan Love Suicides newish single on Odd Box Records in January. This single starts out with a bang on Side A with “Bikini Party / Birthday Kill”. First the industrial sounding drum beat. Second the repetitive tilting guitar riff. Third the spoken haunting vocals.

I don’t know what’s up with the slashes, they clearly aren’t separate songs so I gather they are just compound concepts. I think this is true for the B side too which is titled “Deserted Coastal Town / Action & Memory / What Am I Supposed to Do?”

The B-side is much less aggressive at first. Soft and haunting to start. From there it builds to some Joan Jett-esque rock ‘n roll. In the last minute the song really climaxes with more aggressive guitar and reverb effects on the vocals. In this way it becomes more affecting. It’s well worth the listen as the pay off is great.

Ah, Kim Phuc. Pittsburgh’s own somewhere-between-punk-and-hardcore export that decided to call it a day in 2012 after a handful of singles and one unfuckwithable LP. “Wormwood Star” b/w “Freak Out the Squares” is one of those singles and, for what it’s worth, it’s my favorite of the bunch.

The A-side is built around a bizarro-world Stooges riff before stomping on the breaks for a sludgy bridge, slowly building momentum back up all the way through the end. It’s a great song, and an extended version of it would eventually close out the band’s Copsucker LP. But the real highlight here is “Freak Out the Squares”.

The short intro that leads off the B-side isn’t too far removed from “Wormwood Star”. At 1:15, though, things come to an abrupt halt and, “Hoo-ah!”, we’re off. The next two minutes are a sprint to the finish line. It seems like everybody on record is competing to see who can burn through their parts the fastest. I’d argue it’s one of the best entries into Kim Phuc’s short albeit efficiently fantastic catalog.
You might be hard pressed to actually find a physical copy of “Wormwood Star”, or any other KP singles for that matter. I’d recommend hitting up Mind Cure and crossing your fingers. The band is long gone now, so no more wandering into Gooskis to watch them tear through a dozen songs in under a half hour. If you do get your hands on anything Phuc-related, be glad that you’ve got an artifact from one of the better groups to come out of Pittsburgh in the past decade.

Last week Matt posted a track from the band New Fries. They not only taste better than old fries, they sound better too. So I was intrigued and listened to more and they had this great new 7″ split with Old & Weird. So good, worth highlighting.

The A Side features two tracks from New Fries. Jazz is great. Nice weird start. Tiltilating, God is My Co-pilot-esque song structure. Adequately weird and catchy. Hard not to love this song completely through to it’s, “damn my needle is spinning on the center of the record rough” closing. Jasz may be spelled almost the same, but it’s quite unique. It is a little more Liliput in sound. It’s grating in a good way and makes me want to shake my hips.

Old & Weird is an interesting band name. Their music is great. Yes I care reminds me of something that m’lady records would release like the Ruby Pins or something. It’s a bit high pitched on the guitar and slanting female vocals. Kirkobain does not sound like Nirvana of course. This is the most straight forward indie rock tune on the single. And it’s really good.

So, if you are looking for something really, really good and a little bit weird at times, this is a fantastic 7″ record. Pick it up. Put it underwater. And play it. Oh yeah, you can buy the record here.

I was originally going to profile this single last week. But for some reason I bumped it. The Chorusgirl single I profiled last week was certainly worthy.

Moon By You is a sort of psychedelic doo-wop band out of Portland, Oregon. So it’s something different than much of what we post here. The single was released by K Records earlier this year and even features an appearance from Calvin Johnson (as if this is a rare thing).

The A-side features Got My People, which carries more of a classic soul sound. It’s very straight up with a strong chorus. This song is short and sweet. It’s a good catchy ditty and can carry a single on it’s own.

But I’m a B-side kind of guy so it’s not surprising that I really, really like the flip side song Let You Down. This is classic doo-wop style. The vocals from Sarah Q. on this are just fantastic. I could listen to her all day. Her voice has a similar power to Aly Spaltro of Lady Lamb semi-fame. And it sure sounds like Calvin Johnson in the background towards the end.

I played Let You Down on the radio show on Sunday and sitting in the studio with the speakers turned up a bit I realized just how much I loved this song. Matt completely reinforced this when he walked out of the record library to see what I was playing. That’s generally a good sign when we achieve collective enjoyment of a tune.

This record is available from K Records. Or you can but a digital copy via the bandcamp link below.

I had a little trouble deciding on this week’s pick. There are plentiful good 7″s coming out on a regular basis but i’d lost track a little of what was released when. And the summer does seem at least a little quiet.

This week’s highlight was released in July as part of the 100 Club Series featuring London indie pop artists Chorusgirl. The 100 Club Series is a series of singles released by Odd Box Records. Sadly, actual physical records are sold out, but you can still get this single digitally.

This standard single features No Moon on the A side. This catchy, light twee song is quite delightful. It’s a great relaxing song to sit back and enjoy. The B side track Dream On, Baby Blue is also well executed. I actually prefer it. On both sides, the single has an almost shoe gaze backing. It’s a great single and well worth a listen.

Melkbelly’s BATB (aka Bathroom at the Beach) is awesome. The 7″ was released on vinyl on July 31 by Chicago outfit Automatic Recordings. This straight up single, available on a limited edition run of vinyl, really rocks.

This is sharp edged noisy pop reminds me a lot of Speedy Ortiz which I coincidentally posted this morning. The short A-side Bathroom at the Beach is quick, catchy and loud. The B-side is a long track with the braggable title Piss Wizard. This song fluctuates from driving and noisy to slow and catchy.

This band does recall Th’ Faith Healers some. I think this music speaks for itself.

Heading back stateside this week. Today we highlight the Ghost Ease’s “Quit Yer Job.” This is a 4 track 7″ EP that was released on April 24.

The Ghost Ease are a self-labeled grunge band out of Portland, Oregon. The EP starts out with Canine which begins with tilting high end guitar notes that dive into grunge land shortly thereafter. It has that up and down, tilting to loud, thing that I like a lot.

Qwi Mai Yab reminds me a lot of some of the great indie rock from the 1990s. Sound bites and buried, affected vocals. It actually reminds me a lot of Zonic Shockum, an old Philly band from those days. It even has a random pause near the end to fool DJs everywhere into thinking it’s over (hoping that typing this helps me remember that it isn’t over).

XV is very much in the same vein as Qwi Mai Yab but without the vocal effects. I was trying to pinpoint who it reminds me of and I think it’s Th’ Faith Healers. Which is probably the best comparison for this band. And I really love Th’ Faith Healers so this makes a lot of sense.

Bad Girls, which rounds out the EP, brings a different tone with the instrument light intro for this cover of M.I.A.

Overall, this is a great ep with some strong noisy guitar. Each track has a full, tight sound and the tunes are good. Really can’t ask for much more than that.

OK, so i’m guilty of not anticipating that we’d add this feature. So both today’s 7″ Highlight and Thursday’s LP Highlight will be related to songs i’ve posted on the blog before. But they are both releases worth highlighting so I shall proceed. Both Highlights this week are from the UK so there is that too.

I was going to post the recently released 7″ from China’s Snapline on Tenzenmen Records but they sold out and i’d rather highlight something that folks can buy. I’m not sure if it’s available digitally somewhere else but Tenzenmen isn’t selling it digitally that I can see.

So, today we will talk about the 7″ release from Brighton’s Slum of Legs. The 7″ was released by Tuff Enuff Records on May 4th. This is a straight up single. Doll like on the A-side and Half Day Closing, which I posted a month ago, on the b-side. I’ve always had a predilection for b-sides.

But don’t let that fool you. Doll Like is a kick ass song. I’m not sure how to describe it. It isn’t heavy, but it’s distinctly punk or maybe post-punk. It’s catchy and anthemic, but also discordant and also a bit experimental.

And of course, Half Day Closing is just great. It actually has quite a Dresden Dolls-esque sound. It’s very different from Doll Like in style, but is distinctly British since her vocals play a prominent role and the accent really comes out in this type of song. And the violin is an extremely lovely touch. This song is quite like stage pop to me. I love it and, just as the third song on last week’s highlight LVP UP 7″ completes that EP, this song counter balances Doll Like quite nicely.

OK, so here is a new feature. Once a week i’m going to highlight a new 7″ release that catches my interest. My tentative plan was to do this on Tuesdays but reality took over so it’s a window post this week.

LVL-UP is a band that caught my interest I think two years ago. I’ve always liked them. Not always totally in love with them. But this is a fantastic 7″ release that went on sale today. The release is called Three Songs and it’s a literal title. So let’s delve into the heart of the matter – the music.

This is a 7″ highlight. Not a review so much because i’m terrible at reviews. So keep that in mind.

The Closing Door is the opener and it’s a great fucking song. It rocks. It’s anthemic. It’s got some good mildish noise. And strong vocal direction.

Blur is also a good song. More classic rock ‘n roll. But i’m really impressed with how LVL-UP has matured with their sound. It’s so complete now.

Proven Water Rites is a nice change of pace and makes this a complete release. It’s a slower paced song. Again, the sound is very full. This is definitely a chill and wait it out song. You might even prefer an additive here.

You can pre-order the 7″ Three Songs here at Double Double Whammy Records. But even better. They are coming to town next Tuesday and playing at The Slit on the north side. And they are playing with Big Ups so that’s a double win. And we can call it an Ups UP show if we ignore the first words in their band names. How convenient.

In another note, one of the members of LVL-UP started making guitar pedals. I have a couple of their pedals and oscillators and really like them. It’s worth checking them out at Totally Ruined Circuits.