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

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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Air-Sea Dolphin / Honey Radar – “Split”

Chunklet has been a favored well for singles the past couple of years and their dedication to pairing with Third Uncle for blink-and-you-miss-em lathe cuts makes it both exciting and elusive to get your hands on them. However, this double shot from solid steamers Honey Radar and new(ish)-comers Air-Sea Dolphin is worth capturing physically, or at the very least, digitally. Honey Radar do what Honey Radar do best, gnarled pop nuggets laced in a post-Pollard hangover of fuzzed glory. The track is on par with the best bits that Jason Henn has kicked out of the cracked speakers lately and if you’re a fan of his habitually dusty screeds then this will appeal no doubt.

The flip, which acts as the debut proper from Air-Sea Dolphin, is headed up by none other than Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo. Now the thing about idiosyncratic voices is that no matter where they roam, all bands tend to sound a bit like a singer’s highest marquee moment. Which, since it’s no Death Metal indulgence, means the glossy power pop that Air-Sea Dolphin explode from the wires has a distinctly Apples slant to it, but who cares when Schneider’s pop acumen is footing the bill? This track is dosed in Velocity Of Sound level buzz-pop energy and it’s completely addictive. This is a joyous summer jam that should be packing playlists for months. Given Chunklet’s connection to the E6 archival efforts, its no huge jump of reason that Schneider would put something out here, but its received with open arms for sure and I hope this winds up with more material to come.




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White Bleaches – “Mystery Child”

Melbourne’s Mystery Child come with a crack team behind the boards (King Gizz’ Stu McKenzine recording/Mikey Young mastering) and they deliver on the hopes of those that have taken them in. Their latest single has a loose-slung garage-surf feel to it that’s just the right combination of shaggy and catchy. The a-side drops a fuzzed out groove with sun in its hair and a dark ripple snaking through the bass. You can feel the Gizzard influence, but they’re definitely keeping things restrained, no J Dwyer howls blistering the paint, just smoke ring cool with a dash of psych sneer. They actually find a lot of common ground with Black Lips during their Ronson days to drop a point of reference. The flip is a bit lighter in tone, with a pop top beat that shakes the shutters and makes for a beachside highlight when paired with the tanned to distraction vocals that fleck the track. Not a bad showing. Hopefully they keep the tech team in tact and turn this momentum into a full length for Flightless. Aussie garage psych that’s bone-dried and best here.




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Rank / Xerox

Circling the complete opposite side of the spectrum from David West’s latest Rat Columns LP, which appeared here earlier in the month, Rank/Xerox dives into the claustrophobic chest pains of post-punk. This EP is a scant four songs but each of them are packed with a sense of paranoia and pain that paints a bleak picture of an artist running from some form of truth, be it internal or external. Rank/Xerox have, in the past, facilitated some of the darkest moments in West’s catalog, barring maybe his work with Total Control. After a rather long hiatus since the band’s 2011 LP, it’s good to see them storming back without any thoughts on softening their approach.

From the title-track opener to the lingering grind of “Deletion” the trio bends bone bitten anxiety into a nervy dance with plenty of threats hidden behind it’s teeth. Jangles to popped veins, West is one of the masters of what makes the underground of the ’80s still vital and worthwhile today. M.Y.T.H. is proof that small packages with no room for error can level just as hard as any full length out there.




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Meat Candy – Pursuit of Sounds

London’s Meat Candy don’t exactly exude Englishness. In fact their debut 12″ feels every bit like it should be coming out of L.A. at this particular moment in time. They’ve adopted the fuzzed delivery; psych nuances and classic touchstones that Wand, Mind Meld, Ty Segall, Meatbodies and the like have been digging their nails into over the past few years and they’ve done their homework well. They trend towards the spacier end of the spectrum, embracing a good keyboard breakdown amidst the rumble and froth, setting them floating into the sunstreaked ether. The two shot of a 12″ that they volley out on Dirty Melody is as polished a gem of psych smeared vision as you’re likely to hear this week, though part of me feels a good producer on their side could push their sound into an even higher plateau. However, this is entirely promising and poised to make me think a full album could elevate their game. I could easily see them embracing concept and drive like a young Secret Machines. They earn themselves a spot on the radar if nothing else.



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The Dogs – “Slash Your Face”

Not to be confused with French punks Dogs, this Motor City three piece conjured up hard-nailed proto-punk of the MC5/Stooges variety. The title track is a burner, wrestling with tempos and fueled by the energy of the room. The tracks were all recorded live at Mabuahy Gardens in San Francisco and it’s easy to see that the band felt at home on stage. This is one of those pieces of punk lore that’s been run in illegitimate circles more often than legitimate, but it’s nice to have a solid, official version circulating again. It’s full of sludge and shot from the hip, the way the best bits that crested into punk’s true age often were. NYC, London and San Francisco always get their due in punk circles but Detroit had its own brand of leather-burnt fury and it’s on full display in these three tracks.




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Cakefight – Cakefight 7″

Melbourne duo Cakefight let out a fun garage pop yelp on their debut EP. The single was recorded by Matthew Melton in Austin and it captures a certain economical, yet catchy aesthetic that’s not too far off from Melton’s own works, but without the quite-so-creamy center that permeates something like Warm Soda. The band knows their way around a catchy hook and a summertime chorus that feels like boardwalk nights spent sweating it out in leather jackets in July. Just a four shot pumper of fun tracks, not breaking down the walls, but good garage is never about refining the riff, just harnessing it to let the hijinx flow freely. In that respect, this is doing the job perfectly. Of the fiver of tracks offered up on this short-order platter, the best are the the gnarled beach party of “Sucks Under This Sun” and the pop punk fist shaker, “Who You Are.” Though, the rest of the batch is certainly not without merit. A nice debut from these Aussies, under the watchful eye of one of American power pop’s best.



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