The Expatriates "Bedroom Games" Beehive
A-side recalls the twangy guitar runs found on the Sights self-titled album tracks "Everything" and "Backseat" and I'm not necessarily against this. The drum beat is almost identical to that of the verses of "Be(e?) Like Normal" from the Sights' Got What We Want album. Funny that the only guy in the Expatriates who wasn't in the Sights is the one who wrote "Bedroom Games". Osmosis? More like bros-mosis.
"The New Dylan" is a Baranek-penned tune that has potential, but ultimately the choruses run all over the place with unbalanced tempo changes and strained vocals. You feel a missed opportunity (or teasing perhaps) when Eddie throws the line "it ain't absolute like heroes and villains" and doesn't use it to rhyme with Dylan. Come on! It was sitting right there in front of you!
Also, it's Doug Coombe (not Coombes) for photo credit. Still waiting for the Beehive to deliver some sting.
Lee Marvin Computer Arm (no idea of the song titles) self-released
This band is relentless. Full-throttle all the time with no apologies. The thick cluster of guitar/bass/guitar is overpowering in the most delightful of ways. A-side label says "We C n fuck forever" while b-side says " ut you will never get my soul" and while a Gun Club reference from these guys is unexpected, I think it's pretty damn clever to signify the A and B designations by specifically NOT printing those letters.
When I think of a rock band in the old 1960's gang-mentality "us against the world" terms Lee Marvin Computer Arm totally harkens back to that feel. And I don't know why…maybe it's the shared blood running through their veins, maybe it's because they don't play ballads, maybe it's the freak on the trumpet blowing like crazy but whatever it is, they seem to contain a certain intangible that is wholly exhilarating and endearing and exciting all at the same time.
Limited release show sleeves limited to 40 copies (available on green or yellow paper) and 15 of those came with a hand-numbered CD-r containing the three songs from the 7" plus the five tracks from their self-titled CD. Oh yeah, I'm flattered to say this single might end up as a Cass release.
Titus Andronicus "s/t" Shake Appeal
For an act who've chosen Shakespeare's bloodiest play for their band name, there's hardly any gore involved in their tunes. Which is cool, you know, if you don't like Slayer. A-side is actually titled "Titus Andronicus" and feels elementary and British. Meanwhile, I'm hard pressed to think of another band who've named a song after themselves besides "Dead Moon Night". Correct me in the comments section. The flip of "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ" is splendidly epic with its overdriven bass, propelling drums and stately piano. At times the drums lose their place, but that merely establishes ponderable loose/structured juxtaposition. And when the Angus Young "weedly-weedly-weedly" guitar comes in you think it's gone delightfully over the top. That is until the martial drums come in with the horn section. Could very well act as the score to the final scene in a film. I'm imagining something a la the John Hughes oeuvre.
Honestly though, in researching the topic I've become caught up in the Shakespeare Authorship Question on Wikipedia. Both are terribly interesting and while I can't actually see myself reading Titus Andronicus I will most certainly buy more of their records. I recommend this simply for the weird and hard-to-pigeonhole aspect of it.
Old Time Relijun "Tightest Cage" K Records
I gave up on this band a long time ago. Seeing them live certainly helped. But the allure of a 7" single dragged me back into this mess. Lead singer Arrington de Dionyso is still giving his strange approximation of throat-singing on the A-side matched with ping-pongy guitar, bleating sax and womb-like upright bass. They've never been as good as when they had Phil Elvrum (now the brains behind Microphones) on drums. B-side is instrumental version of "The Indestructible Life" and I'm slowly beginning to see why Old Time Relijun and the Danielson Family were the only things I ever played in the White Stripes tour van that were unanimously overruled and had to be taken out of the CD player.
Neon Maniacs "Nothing's Safe" Puke'N'Vomit
Could this come from anywhere besides Southern California? Don't think so. From the Le Shok school of song titles and song length, it all recalls a younger, sped-up and less classic version of the early Damned. Tour edition limited to 300 copies.
Arctic Monkeys "Brianstorm" Domino
This is meant to be heard on the 10" format. Starting with a lush and intriguing string arrangement "If You Found This It's Probably Too Late" then erupts into fiery Arctic bashing groove that is from the same ilk as the title cut. And "Brianstorm" is essential Monkeys. Alex Turner's turn-of-phrase is as deft as ever and I'm not exaggerating when I say I get a faint resemblance to the Bard's iambic pentameter when I hear him spit. The delivery behind lyrics like "bless us with your effortlessness" is painfully dazzling. Matt Helders' hammering assault on his toms and distinct behind-the-beat accents throughout are the glue that holds this masterpiece together.
Flip it over and "Temptation Greets You Like A Naughty Friend" banks on an infectious downtempo groove that feels oh so fresh. Lyrically Turner fascinates with his comparison of sexual temptation to the bad influence of an old friend. The intertwined themes play off each other with adroit skill. Dizzee Rascal with his grimey flow would be ruinous in other theaters, but it comes off with precision and adds a necessary opposing voice.
If that all weren't enough to swallow, "What If You Were Right the First Time" recalls "Trompe Le Monde" Pixies with its spacey guitar amble before leaning on an enticing instrumental passage more Pixie-ish with "Velouria"-like atmospheres and a synth that's the crushed up crackers in your chicken noodle soup.
I've not heard a single that's hit me this hard in quite some time. All four songs are killing me. As I look through the 10" section of my record collection not one thing can hold a flame to this. A shame that three of these songs did not make the "Favourite Worst Nightmare" full-length, but a shame that's easily remedied by hearing these songs. ESSENTIAL.
The White Stripes "Icky Thump" Warner Brothers
Little Known Fact: This song can cure asthma.
The Tall Birds "Action" Shake Appeal
Well-read without being retread, melodic without being sugary and rough without being abrasive, the Tall Birds are, in two words, the shit. I can babble on here but it still won't do their righteousness justice. So just do yourself a favor and just get this single. The label touted this as smoking their single on Sub Pop and even though I fell in love with that one I think it's still a toss up.
BUG HOUSE SINGLES CLUB ROUND-UP
I signed up for the Bug House singles club to support the entrepreneurial spirit. First single was a Dan Melchior one I reviewed a few columns back. All of them come in white paper sleeves hand-screened with a rubber-like ink. Some have etched b-sides. Most have rubber-stamped labels. They all reek of a homemade "so what if the ink smears?" abandon and that is to be commended. And who can argue 14 singles, a patch, a pin and other yet-to-be-announced goodies for the low, low price of $35. No matter how you size it up, that's a bargain. Here's quick words in order of release, omitting Melchior because I already did that one before I knew it'd be part of this…
The Burning Hatreds "Hit the Road"
Breakneck and abrasive and over before you know it, "Hit the Road" is like the Germs but with a way-more advanced use of feedback. "Black Dress" is kinda honky-tonk in that Black Lips way but bathed in reverb.
The Wire Hangers "Nocturnal Heart"
Depressing in a Mark Lanegan solo record kind of way, "Nocturnal Heart" plods on the same two chords for what feels like forever. When a previously-unheard chord change pops in toward the end, it totally makes the song. "Jawbone Jagged" is down-home front porch foot-tappin sip of lemonade bathed in sunshine delight. Wonderful.
Ape City R'n'B "45"
Ugh. "Girl you got me spinning like a 45" is the first lyric you're going to let this listener make a judgement on? Come on. Could've been on Crypt Records 15 years ago but today it just seems pathetic and embarrassing. There's a fine line between paying homage to a genre and time past and just raping a dead horse. This single is far worse than dead horse raping.
Lurch "Gonna Bawl"
Primitive drop-tuned slide blues slop. Not particularly inspiring or ire-inducing, it's just sort of there.