Browsing Category Singles (7″, 10″, 12″)

Civic

Not long after their last crackling EP, Civic returns with a follow-up that hits even harder. Where their debut boiled down porto-punk into its grit and grease components, there’s a cleanliness and clarity to Those Who No. The three originals here are scooped out of the ‘80s alt-pummel that birthed Hüsker Dü and The Wipers, but also indebted to an earlier strain of hard workin’ but melodic rock from the ‘70s. Both issuing labels (Anti-Fade and Famous Class) are billing it as power pop, but that’s just a touch off. There’s far more sneer here than any power pop band worth their salt ever inflicted. The closest they get to that camp might be “Heat,” but even on that one there’s a touch of pub sweat and punk brashness that makes Civic hard to get a beat on.

Once they throw in an Eno cover, there’s some sense that they’re toying with the slight wrap of glam they’re invoking here, but they take a savvy approach in which they nether sound like glam revivalists or power pop acolytes. With two such short and admittedly disparate releases under their belts I’m putting the jury still out on what to expect from Civic. Are they equally undecided, trying on hats or just having a laugh at it all? I’d love to see a full album from these guys that pulls that glam swagger permanently into this ‘80s pummel they’re working. I want to see where they’d go with a full length’s scope and some cohesive planning. However this and its predecessor are well worth the time and pick up.



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Comet Gain – “If Not Tomorrow” b/w “I Was More of a Mess Then”

If there’s one thing that can be counted on from Comet Gain, the long running UK jangle-pop hearthrobs, its that any release will be rife with earworms. Furthermore those earworms will burrow their way into your life until they become new favorites. Membership changes, labels change, even styles change – from the upbeat clatter of Réalistes to the polished punk hijinks of catalog highlight Howl of the Lonely Crowd and on down to the bittersweet bliss of Paperback Ghosts – the band always jangles, but they’re willing ping-pong between camps that employ the sound. They’re post-punks with a pop heart, indie rockers with a ’77 punk sneer in their back pockets, and this new single-sized offering is the latest bit of pop-strummin’ goodness from their ranks.

The band’s working up a potpourri of an album for Tapete and “If Not Tomorrow” marks the first peek under the hood. The A-side’s not wholly out of line with their aforementioned 2014 heartbreaker Paperback Ghosts, and its definitely showcasing the band’s autumnal sweet side. The guitar line’s bouncing gently, lapping against the swells of organ and a promise of change from David Feck’s earnest croon. While I prefer my Comet Gain with a bit of the bite, I can’t say no to a hummably good jangler that feels like a lost Go-Betweens outtake. The b-side pops the tempo up and dirties the mix with a bit of fuzz and Sarah Bleach running down the regrets. Its a fine pairing and only whets the appetite for more. If you’re already on board the Comet, this won’t knock you loose. If you’re new to the ride, then maybe take this as inspiration to parse back through one of indie pop’s greatest catalogs.


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The Oilies – “Anywhere With You”

More jangled goodness out of the Bay Area comes arrives with the first single from The Oilies, the new band from Carly Putnam (The Mantles, Art Museums, Reds, Pinks & Purples). The two-shot of understated pop displays Putnam’s knack for intimate, bittersweet melodies. “Anywhere With You” snakes through the psyche with nods to The Verlaines and early Chills. The song’s a darker shade of jangle-pop, with spiky stabs of guitar that displays the other side of love’s embrace. Putnam turns her back on her object of affection, asserting that she’s “better off nowhere, than anywhere with you.” It’s a great intro to the band that picks up several SF players and nabs a production credit from Skygreen Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson.

On the flip she’ gets a bit spritelier, cutting back some of the dark shading that elevates “Anywhere,” but still holding down court on some great jangle-pop. Seems the members of The Mantles are a busy bunch this Fall, with Michael O. also on the verge of a new album. Hopefully Carly’s got more in the works as well, as this is a great start.


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Monnone Alone – “Cut Knuckle”

Lost and Lonesome cut through the fray yet again with another great band that’s winning my heart. Monnone Alone, is not, as the name would imply, a solo venture from songwriter Mark Monnone (Lucksmiths) but rather a full band featuring members of Architecture in Helsinki and Mid-State Orange. The first single from the group’s upcoming LP, Summer of the Mosquito, is the absolutely swimming “Cut Knuckle,” a gorgeously catchy jangler filled with 12-string strums and a chorus that seems ready to poke through the sky. The song stands alongside new cuts from The Chills and The Bats as an extension of the Aus/NZ jangle-pop prominence that bubbled over between ’86 and ’90. While the song will appear on the band’s upcoming sophomore outing, they’re issuing it as a standalone as well with the decidedly more reserved “Difficult Boy” on the flip.

The b-side is still besot with jangles, but this time they’re set to saunter and Monnone keeps the hook subtle, though no less affecting. The pair of tracks makes a strong case for the upcoming LP, out next year. There are plenty of good vibes rising out of Melbourne these days, but few are as arresting as the charms on “Cut Knuckle.” The band is making all the right moves here and I can’t wait to see where they go next.




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Midnite Snaxxx – “Let Me Do What I Want”

Since their 2017 record, Chew On This, Oakland’s Midnite Snaxxx have been spitting singles in fits and starts, but the short forms remain their forte. No disrespect to the full length lovers, but the band’s whiplash spirt is best captured between two sides of short attention span snotty punk built for sunshine hijinx. The A-side, “Let Me Do What I Want,” is a denim-vested world beater that’s not content to take no for an answer and isn’t afraid to lob the first volley in food fight fisticuffs. The song might as well stand as a credo for the California combo – loud, fast and brash – it’s a femme punk fuck you to the ruling class, or at the very least, a middle finger to the store manager on the way out of the sliding doors.

They swap to swooning on the flip side, with a tale of love lost that’s captured by only a handful of pictures left to remember the good times. Both halves serve as shades on the band’s West Coast garage punk that feels perfect as a soundtrack to Mod Podge a vision board of your ideal John Waters future. Here’s hoping the band continues their crusade to add up 7”s of plastic pogo punk for the disenchanted and heartbroken.



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Moody Beaches – “Weird Friends”

Following up their inclusion in the excellent Poison City / Our Golden Friend split singles series, Moody Beaches stretch out into two sides with their new single “Weird Friends”. While the flip snags “Guns,” from their debut split, the a-side sees them take a tough rumble through muscular punk, pinned to a menacing bass line but softening the corners with their swooning harmonies. Like labelmates Mod Con they aren’t glossing up their hooks, but rather burrowing deep into the grind of menace, snapping off tension like The Breeders, Green River or L7 before them.

Its the b-side that still steals the show here, though – built on rusted springs and smashing its hooks into the walls with gleeful abandon and gnashed teeth. That first taste is still the most addictive but it pairs well with the slower burn of “Weird Friends.” Its a tease of single – a two shot from a band that feels like its more suited to the long play slow burn than the flash paper dazzle of the short format. Hopefully they’ll build off of these two and dig their heels in for an album that seethes with a full measure of rat trap tension and explosive catharsis.



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Purling Hiss – “Out Tonight”

Seems fitting that Purling Hiss are taking a whack at Spacemen 3, the legends’ squall molded psych is an apt precursor to Mike Polizze’s own fuzz-caked face-melters. Though it seems they’re almost doing a twofer here. While the flip of this single is a cover of S3’s classic, “Walkin’ With Jesus,” the Purling original sounds like it came straight off of a day spent flipping Recurring over until the grooves got gooey. The song is sparking with that same ozone bliss that’s been a longtime Spacemen hallmark and the kind of hook that ducks its head under the horizon to let the repetition and guitar splatter do the heavy lifting. Personally, I’m a fan of the “best song a band never wrote” approach to homage, and while the world cries derivative, I just see a love letter blown thirty feet tall and electrified for visibility. It’s a fun curio that keeps the band’s fuzz pop banner aloft until the next album comes creeping in.

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Simply Saucer – “Lo-Fi Garage Symphonette”

As reissues begin to mount interest in bands the next stage brings the inevitable rumblings of reformation. For fans that missed out on the live shows of ‘blink and you miss ‘em’ bands this is sometimes a godsend, though it also holds the possibility of besmirching a tight catalog with an experience that can’t hope to live up to the originals’ weight. Its with such weight that bands also embark on the endeavor to extend the catalog. It’s a hard rope to cross without leaning too far into imitating one’s prime or updating it into something that’s well out of the scope of what fans came to hear. Canadian psych obscurities Simply Saucer have been having a year full of reissues and they now come to the precipice of adding to the conversation with new works.

Their first single in 40 years ropes in two original members along with studio friends and Jesse Locke (Century Palm, Tough Age) who has been instrumental in getting the band’s work back out to the public. The songs are sown from their same well of weirdness, though it’s clear in their present state they’re working with much better equipment than the machines that wrought Cyborgs Revisited. With the technical upgrade comes some wish fulfillment in fleshing out their sound with a battery of keys and backup vocals. They don’t push too hard into making it a recording “of its current time,” so it sits well with their back catalog, but it loses a bit of the immediacy and electricity of something like “Bullet Proof Nothing” and neither captures the off the rails quality inherit in “Instant Pleasure.”

That said the single’s not without its charms and indeed its not an addition that falls into the besmirch category. 40 years is a lifetime and that the band still have some of the same tinfoil wobble that blew through their amplifiers when they stood on the edges of punk is a testament to their core. “Alien Cornfield,” taken without expectations and stripped of associations is a prime slice of sci-fi garage, though “Lo-Fi Garage Symphonette” gets a bit grandiose for my taste. Regardless, its good to have the band back in the public eye. As I mentioned with the reissue, they’re an essential piece of the psych-punk lineage.



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Baby Blue – Do What You Like

Melbourne’s Baby Blue tap into a mournful ‘60s pop that swings between grey-skied girl group melancholy and a tough-kneed brand of garage pop. The band’s Rhea Caldwell packs a sharper punch on their sophomore outing, a five-song EP that employs some nice gloss touches that distance them from the bulk of their Aussie indie compatriots. Do What You Like finds more in common with West Coast US stompers like Bleached, though they share a great deal of crossover with fellow Aussie RSTB faves Bloods as well, putting them in good company.

While the breezy pop of opener “I Like You” feels pleasant, but overly familiar, the EP works its into darker dens as it wears on – adding a dark, caustic bite to “Dream Life” and a touch of progressive propulsion to closer “Fire and Ice.” Caldwell’s got her head ‘round the hooks but its when she adds power and darkness to her bag of tricks that the songs begin to stand out. If the standouts here are an indication of where the band is headed, then we should all keep an ear perked for Baby Blue’s next move.



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Goat – “Let It Burn”

Music from Goat, recorded and intended for use in a film about burning a giant straw goat? Seems like a perfect excuse to feature the Swedish psych collective to me. “Let It Burn” was recorded for use in the film Killing Gävle, a documentary about the custodians of a straw goat placed in the town square of the titular town of Gävle at Christmastime. The goat is in constant peril of being burned by mischievous pagans which, sure, makes perfect sense. Don’t erect a giant symbol of the old world gods without expecting true believers to get all effigy on it. The track in question is pure Goat, roiling on polyrhythmic drums flanked by flutes and doused in both fuzz and folk guitars. Essentially, if you’ve found joy in Goat’s catalog up to this point then a somewhat meta song about pagans going full Burning Man on a giant wicker likeness of the band’s namesake seems right in order.

The b-side here is a mellow comedown, buzzing with drones and buttered with sax, it’s a different side of the psych warriors that shows them reveling in cosmic jazz without the hectic sweat of their usual rhythmic pummel. The song is a portion of a freeform studio jam, so it almost seems given there’s bound to be a “Friday Pt. 2” at some point down the pike. Unfortunately, the physicals were scant on this one, so either battle the Discogs goblins for a copy or be happy with the digital drop on this. Either way, it’s a prime slice of one of Sweden’s most excellent exports.



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