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

Velveteen Rabbit – “Mind Numbing Entertainment”

Rising out of the ashes of longstanding NYC power pop band The Jeanies comes a new band of glam-popped punchers holding onto a lot of what made their former band sizzle. Velveteen Rabbit are, however, doing it with quite a bit more refinement than The Jeanies ever mustered. Glam pop revivalists often get a bad rap for mining a movement that many see as a passing fad – the soon sullied toy found in the cereal box of punk, power pop and proto-metal at the end of the ‘70s. However, when done right there are fewer genres that can crack a smile so wide. Sure, the affectations are preposterous, the fashion was downright criminal and there was bubblegum stuck all in the hair of everyone involved, but as far as frivolous genre experiments go I’ll take it any day.

Velveteen Rabbit dip their paws into the great crossover between glam’s fuzz-tumbled crunch and the fey end of power pop. The bands that were able to hit this stride found a bit of a golden hour sound that rocks like the punks but shies away from the pit to pine over girls at the bar. Think The Quick, Brett Smiley, Milk n’ Cookies or Phil Seymour and you’re on the right track here. The double shot of flippant fun leaves ya wanting more, which always marks a good single. This is prime ‘70s jukebox fodder following in the footsteps of plenty before them but absolutely a good time with each spin it takes around the platter.



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Alex MacFarlane – “Planetarium Nights”

While there are plenty of great Aussie indies to keep on radar Hobbies Galore seems to be kicking up the dust quite nicely this year. With releases by Stroppies, Blank Realm and a tape issue of the debut Green Child album, there’s quite a bit of talent to be had. A cornerstone of the label, however, has been solo releases from Alex MacFarlane a fixture in Twerps, The Stevens and Teen Archer. The latest 7″ sees MacFarlane working through jangle-pop structures with prog-blocked overtones. There’s a slight dissonance that doesn’t always pop up in his other works, but at the core this is still prime Aussie jangle that’s a testament to MacFarlane’s prowess.

Standouts “Good With Little Numbers” and “Starter People” push this way beyond solo sketchbook fodder, proving that MacFarlane has plenty of hooks in his back pocket and a warped sense of pop that burrows under the skin. He fleshed it out with instrumentals that writhe and twist with synths and curls of noise. While I’d never balk and new Twerps or Stevens material, this release in particular begs for more from the artist solo. This one’s slipping out quietly but that’s no excuse to let it slip by completely.

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Lay Llamas – “Holy Worms / Silver Sun (Red Sun – Negra Branca Remix)”

On the first single from his global psychedelic stewpot of an album, “Silver Sun,” Nicola Giunta draped the German Progressive paradigm in shades of late ‘90s electronic psych, dredging up allusions to The Beta Band and Clinic. On the album’s second point of entry, “Holy Worms,” he embraces a multicultural funk that puts him in leagues with his labelmates in Goat, pinning a tangle of polyrhythms to a ‘70s afrofunk guitar line and a vocal workout that stretches through Talking Heads territory, but gets caught short in a haze of narcotic bliss.

This second single, in its most digital of forms, also happens to come with a standout flip side that digests the original version of “Silver Sun” and mangles it into a completely different animal. Remixed by Gnod’s Marlene Ribiero masquerading as Negra Branca, the “Red Sun Remix” shaves off Giunta’s psych-pop romp appeal and delves darker, amping up the rhythms until they pound at the eardrum. Ribiero also brings in a chorus of female vocals to replace Giunta’s originals. They breathe the mantra “Red Sun, Green Sun” in calming contrast to the panic attack psych bubbling throughout her version and it becomes an oracle of calm inside a virtual storm of a track.

She shaves down the acidic sax solo that adorned Lay Llamas original, saving only a few panicked bleats to whinny away over the chaotic atmosphere brewing below. The reconfiguration slides Giunta into a much more lysergic territory gnashing Krautrock’s teeth on a mash of dub and gospel with a free jazz storm threatening in the distance. Great remixes can often lay the original to waste, but here Negra Blanca simply prove that while the pop sheen adorning Lay Llamas new album is welcome, sometimes you gotta go deep into the cave to find the psychedelic heart.




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Omni – “Sunset Preacher / Confessional”

If anything’s been consistent over the last couple of years it’s been the high-quality output by Atlanta’s Omni. The band’s been chiseling their craggy ‘n cutting vision of post-punk in the shape of Television, Pere Ubu and Magazine over two solid records and they continue that tradition on a double shot for Chunklet. The two tracks sound stamped right out of the sessions for Multi-Task, top shelf bent shakers and not some castoff, b-side fodder – both tracks bend and contort themselves into brilliant foil balls small enough to fit in your speakers.

Hard to pick a favorite here, “Sunset Preacher” launches out of the gate torn and tattered before settling down on a nodder of a bass line and getting itself into a groove punctuated by rat trap explosions of guitar. The flip is knotty in the best ways Omni has proven to be, riding that rubber band bass to the wall and jerking themselves into uncomfortable shapes like the sons of James Chance. If the band is pumping out gems this quality on the singles, I can’t wait to see how the next LP is shaping up.




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Honey Radar – Psychic Cruise

Chunklet and Honey Radar are always a winning combination and the release of yet another single by the lo-fi Philly pop unit is cause for celebration. Five tracks of shambolic Syd Barrett burial rites that exhume the shaggy spirit of clang-clobbered pop, echoplexed to perfection and smeared with enough hooks to keep ya diggin’ for the long haul. The lights are low, the smoke is high and the room is choked with sweat and stink and life when these songs are on. Jason Henn has a penchant for pop songs that feel like they jumped out of his guitar two minutes before the listener sat down, but they stick with the permanence of Guided by Voices deep cuts. Of course, the fidelity means that most Honey Radar songs sound like a scratch take, but I suppose overworking them might just take away the magic. It makes each one of their singles and EPs feel like a secret release slipped amongs friends at a house show. Recommended as usual.




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Mikah Wilson – “Sunshine Grooves”

Every once in a while and artist comes along that ticks all the boxes on some of my personal musical obsessions. For me, I have a deep love for bubblegum, sunshine psych, power pop and the bittersweet side of the ’60s that somehow leaves you sighing and smiling at the same time. Mikah Wilson has found a way to pack all of those things into one song that’s shimmering like a cloudless afternoon, but also leaves a pang of loneliness hanging in the air. The track echoes traces of collector bait songwriting team Gary Usher (Sagittarius) and Curt Boettcher (The Millennium, The Association) as filtered through the cartoon catchy workings of Rick Springfield during his tenure at Mission: Magic. Throw in a dash of Emmitt Rhodes’ buttery pop soul and I’m all but sold on this song. For fans of this type of glowing sunshine psych, Wilson has resurrected a sound with such precision that this already feels like it could slip right in between the stacks of old singles and fool the most ardent crate digger into thinking they’d stumbled onto a lost gem. I

Despite his label associations with Lollipop and Burger, Wilson works at a much more measured pace than many of his contemporaries, marking this as his third track in just about a year. It follows up on the sorely overlooked cassingle from last April that saw Wilson drop double power pop perfection with “Sweet Jules” b/w “Look At The Way”. Frankly I’m overjoyed for just this little bit added to the catalog, but the single track drop does leave one wanting much more. Though, if the quality of songs continue on this caliber, I’m willing to wait as long as it takes for an album from Wilson. They may be time-shifted works of sugary pop, but this, along with Wilson’s other two tracks are some of the strongest I’ve heard in a long time.




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Swiftumz – Game Six

You’d be forgiven for having missed Swiftumz’ two LPs over the years. Despite crafting consecutive albums of homespun pop that shimmers brightly, Chris McVicker’s output has slipped all too quietly out into the world via the Holy Mountain and Melters labels. Its a shame though, because both records captured an artist who is at ease with his corner of the world – tumbling through a muted brand of power pop, glimmering jangle-pop and slicing through the bleary-eyed glories of American Indie with a rather precise knife. So, it’s with the release of McVicker’s latest single that SF’s Fruits & Flowers posts their second essential release of the year.

“Game Six” is pure jangled glory, spillin’ sunshine out of its pockets like quarters on laundry day. Like most of MicVicker’s songs it sounds so effortlessly intuitive you’d almost swear you’ve heard it before. He’s a student of the late ’80s and early ’90s and given a good time shift would most certainly have been pulling down some zine ink. This track alone is worth the price of admission, but he backs it up with a b-side that’s also tipping the gold standard. Shifting into melted-amber Indie-pop mode here and threading his way through Galaxie 500 and Yo La Tango vibes as felt through the soul of the late great Brightblack Morning Light, he’s letting things fade into a sherbet sunset – glowing an orange aura around the track to the very end. Both songs are on endless repeat around here and you’d do well to snag one too.

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The Real Numbers – “Frank Infatuation” 7″

Sweeping up a few of the great entries to the small format world today, starting with this new single from Minneapolis’ Real Numbers. The band have captured full tilt the UK jangle-pop prime, feeling every bit like they stepped out of a Field Mice or Razorcuts show fully enamored and ready to join the ranks. The A-side here is a re-work of their album track “Frank Infatuation,” given a looser recording that actually pulls it closer to their influences, scratching a ramshackle DIY feeling into the track’s frantic strums. The track was already a standout on their album, Wordless Wonder from last year, but here they’ve given even more reason to fall in love with the song all over again.

On the flip, the label pulls in a Pastels comparison that’s pretty spot on. “Leave It Behind” is dreamy and smudged with all the downpour romance that the ’80s underground had to offer. The whole single is wrapped up like a love letter to the C86 set, and while they’re obviously gushing, we all get a win for their sincere homage. More solid senders from Slumberland.


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Otoboke Beaver – Love Is Short EP

Kyoto foursom Otoboke Beaver taps into the kind of heavy, frantic Japanese punk that bore out bands like Ni-Hao and Afrirampo a few years back. Their whirlwind triple shot of a single “Love Is Short” blasts through the walls fists up and swinging. The band might adopt all the visual aesthetics of a ’60s girl group, but when it comes to an aural assault, the niceties drop away and they’re more than ready to topple any challengers off the mountain. The title track, stripped of its barbed vocals actually tips harder into speed metal territory, but the slight pop bent gives it all the best touches of Japanese punk.

There’s a certain humor to the all out attack of a song called “Introduce Me To Your Family.” Just as tightly wound as the title track, its a spun gold gauntlet of punk that’s got a bounce in the guitar line and some borderline funk in its bones. This track skews more experimental than the first and leads nicely into the hateful spit of capper, “Mean,” a 19 second aperitif that’s perfect for breaking off a breathless single.




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Mikah Wilson – “Cassingle”

L.A. songwriter Mikah Wilson indulges in a brand of earnest ’70s pop that’s not removed from some prevailing winds (see Tennis, Weyes Blood, The Lemon Twigs, Tobias Jesso Jr.) but while he’s captured the crystal shimmer in the production, he’s also found a breezy simplicity that pushes him further from the Harry Nilson / Randy Newman / Joni Mitchell crossroads of ’70s FM. Perhaps that’s why the label is selling this as power pop and while there’s certainly a plainspoken appeal that hearkens to Big Star or Shake Some Action-era Flaming Groovies, it’s not saddled with the same lusty ambitions or tough/tender tension that either of those embody.

Instead Wilson is working from a sunshine soul that creeps into ’70s mainstream pop rock. Taking early Rick Springfield (talkin’ Mission Magic years here) on a lovelorn wander through the transistor wires, Wilson has created a vision of honest pop that’s echoing The Raspberries and Badfinger in the best ways. In every sense of the phrase, “they don’t make ’em like this anymore.” Wilson has wrestled mining the ’70s from the hands of hipsterdom, he’s gone feral in his wide-eyed sincerity. Both sides of this cassette are a genuine love-letter not only to those artists that laid their saccharine souls down all those years before, but to pop as a statement of purpose. On every level, I just want to hear more of this and soon.




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