Singles Going Steady

It’s been a busy few weeks out here in the upper left-hand corner of the United States. The singles have been coming in at a relentless pace. It was a long holiday weekend, so what better thing to do than to get caught up on listening to them. Here’s the low-down on the batch that were burning up my turntable this weekend.

Persian Rugs – Always All (Cloudberry)

Toronto’s Persian Rugs make up one of two singles from Cloudberry in this round-up. The A-side Always All has been swimming around the internet for a while. It has a seafaring keyboard intro that gives way to a simple guitar rif and a catchy chorus which of course, all singles should have. Though they don’t exactly sound like Ivy, that New York band does comes to mind here. The B-side is a slightly more country tinged affair but good as well. Buying the single gets you a download containing a total of five songs, three more than on the record itself.

mp3: Persian Rugs – Always All

Caucus – Wondering Ones (Cloudberry)

Caucus come from Japan, but you wouldn’t know it from hearing them as there is no detectable accent and they sound a little like early Pains of Being Pure at Heart or if you’re old like me, Poole who were on SpinArt back in the 90’s. Wondering Ones has breathy vocals and fuzzy guitars. Proving their appreciation and knowledge of their lineage, they choose to cover Rocketship‘s Love You Like the Way That I Used To Do on the B-side.

mp3: Caucus Wondering Ones

Odd Box Singles Club (Odd Box)

The first three singles from the Odd Box Singles Club arrived a couple weeks ago and they were worth the wait. Each single is a split between two bands. Blanche HudsonWeekend and Horowitz share the first one with their noisier, guitar drenched sounds.  Single number two gives us the bratpunk sounds of the Give It Ups. The first song is shouted versus traded with sung choruses. The second asks the question, what kind of guy dates a girl named Knives? The Santa Monica Swim and Dive Club on the flip is a spin-off project of Saturday Looks Good To Me. False Start, My Heart is ok, but maybe a little to middle of the road indiepop for my tastes. My favorite of the first three goes to the Humms/One Fathom Down split. One Fathom Down do rowdy-surf inspired instrumentals. Nothing new, but both their songs shred. The Humms’ Jupiter is a perfect slice of acoustic British invasion pop. I believe that you can still subscribe to the singles club, just click on the link above.

Zebras/Motifs Split (Knock Yr Socks Off)

Speaking of the Rocketship, the Zebras evoke the Sacramento band’s sound a little on their split with the Motifs. The Zebras are from Australia and have released a couple albums on Lost and Lonesome. Desert Island shows them to be in fine form and making me hope for album number three from them. Sharing this tiny slab of wax is fellow Melbourne band, the Motifs.  Words is a sugared up two minute hyper swirling pop song. No caffeine needed here. Can’t decide which side is better…

Devon Williams – Your Sympathy (Slumberland)

Los Angeles songsmith Devon Williams is about to release his second album, but before that he’s got this 7″ single for you. Your Sympathy starts out with a big sounding Icicle Works Whisper To a Scream sounding intro. Williams doesn’t let it get out of hand though as he has a way of putting you at ease with his heart-aching voice which has this tendency to remind me of East River Pipe.

mp3: Devon Williams – Your Sympathy

Caged Animals – Girls On Medication (Lucky Numbers)

Another Brooklyn band? Shrug. Caged Animals‘ song Girls on Medication made me sit up instead of shrug. Lazy, druggy dreampop with a killer hook. The B-side and the other songs they have on bandcamp are more electronic and less enticing, leading me to believe that this is either a fluke or a new direction for them. Hoping it’s the later.

mp3: Caged Animals – Girls On Medication

Grass Widow – Milo Minute (HLR)

Grass Widow have been quiet for a little while. The silence is ended with this self-released single. First off, I love the art on the sleeve. It looks like a the doodles of a clothing designer who likes guitars. The songs live up to the cover. Milo Minute may be the catchiest song Grass Widow have written to date and it benefits from having its volume turned way up. The flip side serves up two covers, one from the Neo Boys and the other being Wire‘s Mannequin. Mannequin is probably the second most covered Wire song (the first has to be Outdoor Miner). It’s no reinvention, but it differs with it’s harmonies and echoed vocals. Worthwhile!

mp3: Grass Widow – Milo Minutes

Tony Castles – Juice (Famous Class)

Bill over at Sound Bites had the Tony Castles EP on one of his year end lists last year, describing it as Prefab Sprout-esque. Those two words are all I needed. This new single from the Brooklyn band has more of a post-rock sound to it evoking Field Music a little. Juice has a funky 80’s vibe and is quite good, but I think I like the pillowy downbeat B-side Heart In the Pipes better.

mp3: Tony Castles – Heart In the Pipes

McDonalds – Name Names (State Capital)

The last time at the drive-thru we were sorted for e’s and wiz listening to McDonalds‘s debut single. Single number two is upon us and without he help of Factory or Martin Hannett. Amazing. This nderachiever, ramshackle rock is for fans of German Measles who like to dance.

mp3: McDonalds – Name Names

Pop Overload

photo from Consumer Reports

I can’t remember a previous January where there has been this much new music coming out, but I’m old and my synapses don’t connect they way the use to.  I do remember maybe a few releases trickling out at the end of January and then not much happening until March or April. Well, it’s a new decade and we’ve hit the ground running, out with the old, etc. The last few weeks have been total pop overload, and to give you an idea of the crazy amounts of good to great music that has made itself known in this very short year, I’m attempting this schizophrenic post. If any of you follow my wild and crazy finest kiss twitter feed some of this may be redundant. Twitter being what it is, you most likely forgot whatever it was I tweeted six seconds after you read it, so a rehash is in order to burn this stuff into your long term memories and to possibly give you same feeling of being overwhelmed by way too much good music.

I’ll start of this laundry list with the perfect song to start off a list of bands.  The Felt Letters are a three piece form from DC with Brendan Canty of Fugazi on drums.  They sound like another DC band, Girls Against Boys.  The way Ian Svenonius slithers his dilivery makes you think at first your are hearing some long lost GvsB single. The  similarities to Scott McCloud are uncanny, but Svenonius is a hell of a lot funnier: 600,000 bands: 50,000 sound like Can, 50,000 sound like Manfred Man.  I’m startin’ one like Cool and the Gang…The bass sound gotta be fixed.  It sounds a little like Robert Fripp.

mp3: Felt Letters – 600,000 Bands (from M’Lady 7″)

The Radio Dept. have been teasing us with EP’s every 11 months or so, but they’re finally threatening to release their 3rd album.  The album is called Clinging To A Scheme and will be out in March.  This teaser was posted on the Radio Dept. site last week.  Cue salivation.

mp3: Radio Dept. – Heaven’s On Fire (from forthcoming Clinging To A Scheme)

Portland’s Eat Skull, besides putting out the formidable Wilde and Inside last year on Siltbreez, have just unleashed a 7″ single on the venerable Woodsist.  From what I’ve read they’ve actually signed to Woodsist, whatever that means these days.

mp3: Eat Skull – Don’t Leave Me On the Speaker (from the Woodsist 7″)

Speaking of Woodsist, the Fresh & Onlys have a new 7″ out on the label as well.  To this point I’ve been luke-warm about the band.  Each release, and there have been many, has a few good songs but they get drowned out by the other ones.  I have to say that this new Woodsist single may be their best release yet. Yeah, I know these songs come from a previously released tape.

mp3: Fresh & Onlys – Second One to Know (from the Woodsist 7″)

I know nothing about French Kissing except what I read on the Weekly Tape Deck, which is very little except to say they have a very limited single upcoming on Sleep All Day Records.  Oh, and they’re from London and the A-Side to the single totally rules.

mp3: French Kissing – Oh Suzanne (from Sleep All Day 7″)

Has it really been five years since the last Lali Puna album?  No, Faking the books came out back in 2004 so it’s been six.  Wow, I missed them, and this song emphasizes that.  I remember Faking the Books was kind of a let-down after the near-brilliance of Scary World Theory.  What will the new album Our Inventions be like?  If Remember is any indication, quite good.

mp3: Lali Puna – Remember (from forthcoming Our Inventions)

Along a similar trajectory as Lali Puna, Pikelet‘s Weakest Link has me looking forward to this Austraian’s second album.  Pikelet is Evelyn Morris, and she seems to have good grasp of what sounds good.  Album number two is entitled Stem and it’s due in February on Chapter Music, home of the Crayon Fields and the Twerps.  Thanks to Rose Quartz for the heads up.

mp3: Pikelet – Weakest Link (from forthcoming Stem)

Last week I got friended on mySpace by London-based Yuck.  At first I thought eww, but then I listened to their Lily’s / Medicine song Georgia, and then I listened to the moody Automatic and I was smitten.  No hard copy releases yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

mp3: Yuck – Georgia (from Yuck’s blog)

It’s been a few years since the watershed Andorra was released by Caribou.  And a few more since they had their run-in with Handsome Dick Manitoba and had to change their name from Manitoba to Caribou.  Dan Snaith (leader of the pack) is back after a couple years absence with the first fruits of his forthcoming album Swim.  This has to be the most overtly dancy thing Caribou has ever attempted, and it’s pretty much a full on success.

mp3: Caribou – Odessa (from forthcoming Swim)

I have to admit that I haven’t really paid much attention to Horowitz, but the song that Cloudberry has made available from their upcoming single has me wondering why that is the case.  Two and a half minutes of fuzzed out pop bliss never goes out of style.

mp3: Horowitz – How To Look Imploring (from the Cloudberry 7″)

One more from Cloudberry, the latest from Sweden’s Sad Day For Puppets.  If you haven’t heard their album Unknown Colors or the preceding EP Just Like a Ghost, then this just might be the perfect introduction.

mp3: Sad Day for Puppets – Again (from the Cloudberry 7″)