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

Sheer Mag – III

Over the course of three EPs Sheer Mag have built a solid reputation, largely on their ability to squeeze 70’s arena rock and sweaty 60’s soul into the same busted bucket while heaping on the politics in a way that makes them go down easy, despite their songs’ dark centers. The recordings have a tinny quality, but that’s a part of the charm. Christina Halladay sounds like she’s being broadcast over an AM wavelength right into your best memories. There’s a bit of Shannon & The Clams, a bit of Ariel Pink and they split the seams between Royal Headache and Thin Lizzy nicely. But underneath the aesthetics beats a passionate howl and lyrics that deal with the grim realities of working class women in Ciudad Juarez, the machinations of hate and the implications of emotional manipulation. There’s a lot at play here, but at their heart the songs have enough catchy bits to make that combination work swimmingly. Sure lo-fi has had its day and its probably time to crawl back to clarity but the core of Sheer Mag is stacked like Tootsie-pop perfection in its sweetness and jawcracking fun and if you listen close enough, you just might learn something.





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Smiles – EP

San Francisco’s Melters label has an impeccable ear for pop with all the gooey charm, power chord explosions and healthy-sized crushes on our favorite childhood bands. Turning out records from Tony Molina, Ovens, and Swiftumz, they now present the debut 7″ from Smiles; a band that snuggles up equally to Teenage Fanclub and early Primal Scream (before they got better pills). Like labelmate Molina, they’ve got a knack for brevity, though they don’t leave you hanging on wanting just one more verse of pop crushed perfection as he would. But they do smear the speakers with moody maneuvers and chunky riffs and then bring things down in perfect precision with a strummer that chokes up the dreamers on its way out the door. Its a pretty good showing for a first release and one that does what a good first EP should, leaves me wanting way more from this band.




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Honey Radar

So this one is one of those reviews that feels like an exercise in frustration. First, the music on Instant Replay in an excellent shadowbox of 60’s psych and tissue screened jangle that feels like its got lots of room to grow wings. Sadly and secondly, its also exceedingly scarce, which I suppose makes it a bit more desirable in its own right. Jason Henn’s own Third Uncle, along with BK mischief makers What’s Your Rupture? have released this in a scant run of 50 lathe cut copies and the digital seems to be looking hard to come by to boot. Good news seems to be that there’s talk of an album that should make fans of White Fence and Jacco Gardner happy campers in the long run, but for now these streamers will have to hold ya over. The tracks flicker pop-sike through a 16mm lens coated in sepia oils and gently burning away at the edges. There’s a homespun charm that drives the three tracks along and a warmth that feels so real you could heat you hands on it. I’ll definitely be interested to see where Henn takes Honey Radar next (aside from that Chunklet single, which is almost, but not quite as captivating as this.) Keep this one primed and on radar.

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Odd Hope

Bay Area musician Tim Tinderholt serves up a debut single for Fruits & Flowers, currently one of our favorite destinations for band’s you should be checking into. The a-side is a chilled piece of folk, all grey skies and winter reserve. Then the flip takes a step out into the sunshine. The label’s assessment that this could have popped up on Creation is well deserved (though Sarah Records is an equal contender). Banging around through Razorcuts b-sides or Sneetches EPs, it seems likely that you might run aground on a copy of Odd Hope’s “I’ll Follow You Soon”. This is definitely a gem in an already stellar catalog for the SF label.

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Pleasers

Matthew Melton hops the rail from SF to Austin and in the process hooks up with locals Ben Tipton and Julian Young for a meatier take on his usual formula, born of garage grease and the most powerful of pop. Definitely beat into a shape more fitting of his legacy in Bare Wires than the dreamier cuts of Warm Soda, Pleasers are still and unmistakable product of Melton’s leather tough swoon. The A-side is, as I’ve mentioned, cut from a very similar cloth to Bare Wires and that’s never a bad thing. They were taken from us too soon. The flip is edging a bit closer to Soda territory but there’s still a bit more bite and snag in the guitar than would befit that band. Best not to think too deeply on it, that’s never the point here. Melton speaks in tongues of rock n’ roll and that’s what’s on deck here. Naturally, I’m hoping that this will branch out into a larger lifespan and a possible full length, but lets not look a gift single in the mouth.

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Century Palm

Ok its been far too long since I’ve done a singles post, so its good to be back in the cut with a double shot from Century Palm. The band features members of RSTB faves Ketamines and Dirty Beaches. The title track burns with a kind of garage / glam swagger reaching back to some ’77 vibes that only thicken and darken on the flip side where they wander into the noisy alleys of post-punk with nods to Bauhaus covers of bands like T. Rex and Bowie or The Sound at their more desperate and vicious. “Valley Cyan’s” insistent beat makes for a perfect pick-me-up coupled with woozy keys and guitars that are probably screaming for a windmill strum. Both tracks hint at (hopefully) more to come from this Canadian outfit, and to be honest this is hitting me right in the sweet spot, as I’ve been running down a welcome look back through some post-punk nostalgia of late. This follows well on last year’s Century Palm EP, a grip of tracks in similar vein that work as more than just playlist fodder. Hell the band even roped in Mikey Young on mastering. Seems like a whole lot of reasons to pick this up and that EP if you missed it last year.


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XAM

Hookworms certainly have an element or two of Krautrock coursing through their veins, and if there are Cluster and Tangerine Dream LPs pumping on their stereo, it’s probably courtesy of member MB. He’s recently struck out for a solo outing as Xam, with a 12″ of burbled, swirling eddies of Kosmiche hypnotism out now on The Great Pop Supplement / Deep Systems. The A-side here starts a bit rigid, robo-grind that’s less human than anything in Hookworms stable, but MB picks up some serious steam on the next cut, a lush dive down the whirlpool by the name of “Coke Float”. The flip goes for epic length, a 22+ minute track that floats with the best analog stew. There are plenty of new age white boys tripping through this same aural valley but as with Daniel Lopatin and Cooper Crane, a few of them are getting it right.

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