Tags: Sea Lions, Yay!
For some unexplained reason the indie scene in Oxnard,California is an embarrassment of riches. How good is it you ask? It’s so good it has people in Los Angeles begging the bands to move down the coast to LA. Southern California has never really been known as a hotbed of indie pop activity but with the Matinee label in Santa Barbara and now the burgeoning scene in Oxnard, things are quickly changing. At the center of the Oxnard scene is Yay! a label that is devoutly DIY. They only put out records on old school 7″ vinyl, no mp3′s, no cd’s and no 8-tracks! Last year Yay! put out only two records one by the Tartans and one by Catwalk, but both were amazing and made my list of best singles of the year.
Coming out of the gates early and strong, Yay! are just about to release their first single of 2009. It’s the debut slab of wax by another Oxnard band the Sea Lions and from what I’ve heard it will very likely appear on my 2009 list of singles. The Sea Lions have a sound that is part surf, part garage and part indiepop. Adrian Pillado’s voice has deepness to it that reminds me a little of Calvin Johnson, but his phrasing sometimes makes me think of Kevin Seconds. The music is revved up garage rock that jangles and twangs in all the right places. It’s got elements of Heavenly, and the Clean, but also contemporaries the Crystal Stilts. This single is so good, I find it hard to believe it’s their first! You can listen to a couple songs from it, one is posted on Yay!’s MySpace and another is up on Yay!’s website, both will have you plunking down your hard earned cash for this slab of wax.
Pre-order the single from Yay!
Tags: Bears, Black Mountain, Boat, Box Elders, Catwalk, Je Suis Animal, Jonathan Richman, Liechtenstein, Moscow Olympics, Muslims, Nodzzz, Sexy Kids, Summer Cats, Surefire Broadcast, Tartans, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Times New Viking, Twig, Vivian Girls, Wake the President
This year seemed to be the year in which the 7″ single returned to prominence. It’s not like it ever really went away, but this year bands and labels were putting them out left a right. Vinyl in general, is making a resurgence with the prevalence of file downloading a cd is just a lousy digital copy that takes up too much space, whereas a slab of vinyl is more like a work of art with it being big enough to actually appreciate the cover art. It also comes in many shades, with colored vinyl showing up almost as much as the standard black even though its sound quality is supposedly inferior to good old black. Records these days have a one of kind feel to them or at least one of limited run, making you feel like you really buying something besides just the music. I probably haven’t bought this many records since the indie heyday of the early 90′s. It was fun again to hang out by the record player and change the record every three minutes, and I did this quite a bit, nearly spending all my listening time at home doing just that. In celebration of it’s return, I’m compiling my favorite 7″ singles of the year, my only requirements are that it had to be put out this year on a 7″ and I had to actually buy it. So here is what got the most spins in my house, you will have to take my word for it since my turntable doesn’t keep track of play counts. Now go out and buy some records!
1. Summer Cats – Lonely Planet (Cloudberry)
2. Catwalk – Past Afar (Yay!)
3. Liechtenstein – Apathy/Security by Design (Fraction)
4. Nodzzz – I Don’t Wanna (Make a Mess)
5. Muslims – Parasites (I Hate Rock n Roll)
6. The Tartans – Cats of Camerford (Yay!)
7. Je Suis Animal – Painted In my Face (Cloudberry)
8. Boat – Topps (Magic Marker)
9. Wake the President – You Can’t Change that Boy/Kingfishers – Make Me Sad (Electric Honey/Aufgeladen Und Bereit)
10. Black Mountain – Lucy Brown (Sub Pop)
11. Sexy Kids – Sisters are Forever (Slumberland)
12. Jonathan Richman – You Can Have a Cell Phone That’s Ok But Not Me (Vapor)
13. Bears – Making Something(Impose)
14. Twig - Ciao Ciao Bomb (Cloudberry)
15. Vivian Girls – Wild Eyes/My Baby Wants Me Dead(Plays With Dolls)
16. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Everything With You (Slumberland)
18. Box Elders – Hole in my Head(Grotto)
19. Surefire Broadcast – When I Need Someone/Some Seek While Some Find (self-released)
20. Times New Viking – Stay Awake (Matador)
Tags: Piper Cub, SP20, Tindersticks, Tsunami, Velocity Girl
Photo from Laura Mussleman’s flickr.
If you live in Seattle, and even if you don’t, this week has been Sub Pop overload. It seems like everywhere you turn there’s something being written about the label in the newspaper, magazine, blogs, or something on the radio, or TV. Hell, they’ve even taken over the Space Needle with a Sub Pop flag and had it painted like a record. Will they not stop? Probably they will, but it won’t be at least until this weekend is over. The grand finale to Sub Pop’s 20th birthday party is a two day music fest extravaganza over in Redmond at Marymoor Park. If you haven’t heard, (you haven’t heard?!?) it’s two days of music with a lineup that includes the reunited Vaselines, Beachwood Sparks, Green River Les Thugs and Eric’s Trip as well as current label powerhouses Fleet Foxes, Foals, Wolf Parade and No Age.
I was not one that really started off loving a lot of the music Sub Pop put out, but I always had respect for the label. They put out records of bands they liked, and as the label grew, the diversity of it’s roster also grew. Both Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt were rabid music fans and it definitely shows through in their label’s catalog with everything from Combustible Edison to the Fastbacks to Mudhoney to Iron and Wine to Foals. It seems like I was more of a fan of their more left field releases, at least early on. Some of my favorites include:
Pernice Brothers – Overcome by Happiness
Eric Mathews – It’s Heavy in Here
The Spinanes – Manos
Velocity Girl – Simpatico
Zumpano – Look What the Rookie Did
Fastbacks – Zucker
One of the coolest things the label ever did was start a singles club where you paid up front and got records mailed to you each month. They just recently announced they were starting up the club again. Records start shipping in August, you can sign up here, but better do it quickly, each release is limited to 1500. To tempt you into signing up and to celebrate the label’s 20 years, here are few singles from the Sub Pop catalog that are now out of print. Happy birthday, and see ya at SP20!
mp3: Tindersticks – Here (Pavement cover)
mp3: Tindersticks – Harry’s Dilemma
mp3: Velocity Girl – Warm/Crawl
mp3: Tsunami – Left Behind
mp3: Piper Cub – Chance
mp3: Piper Cub – Number One Sound
Tags: McTells, Vinyl Japan
My singles collection, Vol. 14
McTells – Break Up 7″ (Vinyl Japan)
The McTells were a UK band that released most of their music on slabs of 7″ vinyl. Vinyl Japan compiled a whole bunch of those records onto a CD called What Happens Next and the band actually did release two alums titled Cut Up and Smash Up. This single came out at, or near the end or the bands career back in 1994. Of all their records, I think that this was my favorite. It was just the right amount of McTells, four songs, 2 on each side. They were as catchy as the band had every wrote and it did what a single is supposed to do, leave you wanting more. The needle on my record player usually stayed on side A of this single with the one two of Clearly and C without I ringing out in my bedroom as long as I had the energy to get up and put the needle back to the beginning.
Half the stuff in my collection I can barely remember where I got it, but this single was purchased on a trip to Boston at Newbury Comics in Cambridge. It got a lot of play from me and a few others on my grad school college radio station, WCDB, Albany. Sorry about the scratches, but that’s the way it goes. It seems like most of the singles that came out on back in the 90′s were on low grade wax, plus when you try to fit two songs on a side, the sound quality tends to go down as well. This was also released on cd single, so someone out there likely has a better copy of this stuff.
My Singles Collection, vol. 13
There’s a bit more info about the new Lucksmiths record, which is a compilation of non-album tracks that will fill the holes in your Lucksmiths collection. It contains no less than 45 songs and totally raids the vaults. It has everything including the kitchen sink on it, check out the track list over at their new Australian label, Lost and Lonesome. There are tracks from out of print 7″ singles, excellent cover songs, some unreleased stuff, radio sessions, remixes…my god what doesn’t it have? Here are a couple songs that will be making their first appearance on cd. These were ripped from my 7″ collection, so the sound is a bit crackly but I like to think that it was the way they were meant to be heard. They both are from the Macintyre 7″ that was limited to 500 copies and was a co-release by Candle Records and Thirsty Arab Records back in 1996. Are Are You Having A Good Time?!?! is a riot of a song that you have to check out, and I bet will make you want to buy this double cd! Both songs will be on Spring A Leak which is out in September on Lost & Lonesome in Australia and Matinee in the US.
…And if you live in the States, the band will be over touring the country. They’re not here that often so if they’re close, go see ‘em. Here are the dates:
Fri Sept 21 — Los Angeles, CA – Venue TBC #
Sat Sept 22 — Santa Barbara, CA – Red’s Espresso Cafe #
Sun Sept 23 — San Francisco, CA -12 Galaxies
Mon Sept 24 — Seattle, WA – Crocodile Café #
Tues Sept 25— Portland, OR – Holocene
Wed Sept 26 — Chicago, IL – Venue TBC
Thurs Sept 27 — Cambridge, MA – TT The Bear’s ^
Fri Sept 28 — New York, NY – Knitting Factory ^
Sat Sept 29 — Brooklyn, NY – Europa ^
Sun Sept 30 — Washington, DC – DC9 ^
Mon Oct 1 — Durham, NC – Duke Coffeehouse ^
Tues Oct 2 — Athens, GA – Caledonia Lounge ^
Wed Oct 3 — New Orleans, LA – Venue TBC
Thurs Oct 4 — Austin, TX – Emo’s
# with The Math & Physics Club
^ with The Ladybug Transistor
My singles collection, vol.12
It’s always with a lot of shock that I read the news about pop stars dying, especially those whose music has made a lasting impression on me. Late this afternoon I read how Keith Girdler of Blueboy died of cancer on 15 May. It immediately brought back the feelings of exasperation and disbelief, that I remember feeling when I heard that Grant McClennan of the Go-Betweens had died last year at this time. People this young are not supposed to die, well maybe they are, but it makes me realize what a tenuous hold we have on this mortal coil.
Blueboy was the band Gridler was best known for, he was the singer and wrote the songs along with Paul Stewart. He and Stewart released three full length albums and a number of singles on the now defunct Sarah and dormant Shinkansen labels. Their first record, If Wishes Were Horses has long been out of print but is, in my opinion, their best record. Girdler shared vocal duties with Gemma Townlet on Horses. Although it has been derided by some as twee, it did a masterful job at melding indie pop, chamber music and bossa nova.
They turned up their guitars a bit a shed some of their preciousness for the Dirty Mags single and their final album Bank of England. In fact the Dirty Mags single is a bit of an anomaly in their catalog, sounding a little like the Wedding Present with it’s pounding bass line and feedback.
After that Girdler continued to work with Stewart in Beaumont, Arabesque, and Lovejoy. He also collaborated with Pam Berry in the Snowdrops. I still can’t believe that he’s gone.
The Dirty Mags ep:
My 7″ collection, vol.11
Coming out of Sacramento by way of Iowa and the excellent Bus Stop label, Rocketship put out a string of singles and the excellent full length A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness. The one constant throughout was Dustin Reske, who wrote and sang most of the songs. The first Rocketship single came with the super catchy Hey Hey Girl as well as an ode to Galaxy 500. It was a slice of pop in the vein of Stereolab, but also had a lot in common with the Apples in Stereo and the Lilys from around that time. As good of debut single as any band could ask for.
The next 7″ Honey I Need You, came out on Bus Stop after A Certain Smile was released on Slumberland, it wasn’t as immediate, but was made from the same ingredients as their earlier stuff. It was the next single that appeared on the Jigsaw label that was somewhat of a departure. The a-side, Get on the Floor (and move it) was a bit more funky, a bit more nerdy, and then it all just dissolved into one big drone, which continued on to the b-side All the Pleasures.
My 7″ collection, vol.10
Imagine that you have four perfect pop songs in your back pocket…no more, no less. What do you do with them? Well you put them on a slab of vinyl of course, but you don’t tell anyone where they came from, or anything about who made them. If you did something like this, then you might be Hopkirk & Lee. Honestly, I’ve yet to find anything substantial about these guys except that they are Alex Hopkirk and Ronnie Lee and they are a cross of Jesus & Mary Chain (post feedback) and Moose (God love ‘em). Sure they’re more than just that, it’s the mystery to the record that makes it so much more than the sum of it’s four excellent songs. I like to think they had a whole album of songs, and the master tape got lost like that collaboration between Johnny Marr and Ian McColloch. You know it didn’t get lost, it’s in somebody’s closet just waiting to be discovered and released. Well I can dream, can’t I?
These four songs are taken from the American release of the ep that came out in 1998 on Yakamashi!. I believe that it was put out on CD in UK by For Us, though I’m not sure.
So what happened to these guys? Who knows…there’s a cryptic website with the sleeve and an email address here. For kicks I sent them an email begging the question. Of course I haven’t heard back…but you never know! In the meantime we have these pop gems.
My 7″ collection, vol.8
Air Miami – Airplane Rider b/w Stop Sign (Teenbeat 147)
From the ashes of Unrest came Mark Robinson and Bridget Cross sans Phil Krauth with a sound similar to their former band, maybe a bit more quirky and a bit more new wave. Airplane Rider was an excellent first single for the band, two minutes of catchy as hell pop, that could have been on the last Unrest album if it weren’t for the nonsensical lyrics. The b-side, Stop Sign is all Bridget, though not as immediate as the a-side, Bridget’s voice makes this song worth hearing.
This gold slab of vinyl came out on Teenbeat back in 1994 (my copy still has the Go! records price tag of $2.99 on it) after a couple songs on compilations. Neither of the the songs on the Airplane Rider 7″ appeared on the band’s only album Me, Me, Me. After Me, Me, Me the band put out a couple singles from the record with remixes and some b-sides. Air Miami seemed to kind of dissolve into thin air. Mark went off and formed Flin Flon and continues with his Teenbeat label. As for Bridget Cross, she put out a single with Kathi Wilcox on Teenbeat back in 1999, but has not released anything that I know of since.
My 7″ collection, vol. 7
When you think of Kent, OH, you may think of Kent State and the National Guard shooting into a crowd of Vietnam War protesters in 1970, or you may draw a complete blank. I bet you don’t think of a band that brings to mind the Beach Boys, My Bloody Valentine or the High Llamas. Well that’s exactly what Kevin Coral’s Witch Hazel (now known as Witch Hazel Sound) do. Their first single was put out on Bubblegum Smile. The A-side was played to death by me, both in my bedroom and on the radio. It had a bit of the MBV thing going on mostly in the vocals and the drums (think Soon) as well as some heavey Swirlies influence. The B-side was a bit more sedate and reminds me a little of the Boo Radleys.
Here’s hoping that someone will collect this 7″ as well as their split with the Mommyheads and the Beeswax ep onto a handy-dandy cd.