SINGLES AGAIN / Chuck Eddy

 

 

 

Chuck
Eddy dusts off his old vinyl and scratches his head. We all win
.

 

Greetings,
BLURT readers. This column’s theme is fairly simple: Basically, I sort
alphabetically through my shelves for dusty old 7-inch vinyl indie singles from
acts that aren’t household names, and try to figure out why I wound up keeping
them in the first place. This is the 12th installment (first two
appeared at Idolator.)

 

***

 

 

THE MT. ST. HELENS “North By Northwest”/”Unlucky”/”Dialtone”
(MOC, 1998)

 

Midwestern foursome repeats surfish riff, um, repeatedly;
hoarse singer gets excited; rhythms turn staccato. Lots of stops and starts,
twists and turns. Structure feels precise but ultimately cold – Fugazi probably
deserves some blame for inspiring such stuff, but it’s also very Chicago (where
the band’s from), which is to say it keeps its top button buttoned like such
‘80s bands as the Effigies and Naked Raygun used to, though less efficiently.
Somewhere, there’s a line about “the western surburbs.”  Sleeve has pictures of a city and a mountain
(why not a volcano?) that look as blurry as the music sounds. (http://www.myspace.com/mtsthelens)

 

 

 

 

 

THE MUSIC TAPES “Why Is The President Crying?”/ DAD “Untitled”
(Cosmic Debris Ltd., 2000.)

 

Split
single, apparently released with an issue of Stop Smiling magazine, whatever that was. Hand-numbered release
from the Cosmic Singles Club, which I never joined, yet I somehow got # 980 out
of 1000 anyway.  Picture disc – bottom
half of a simple robot made out of wood on one side, black and white photo of a
bespectacled man and unbespectacled boy on the other. Song titles nowhere to be
found, but at least the A-side’s is discoverable on line; B-side goes nameless
even there. Guy from Music Tapes (New Yorkers with some sort of Elephant Six
connection) sings in a little-boy voice, precious to the point of extreme annoyance,
kinda like that man-boy Stuart on Mad TV. Sound ridiculously piddly and twee: Maybe the president is crying because
somebody forced him to sit through this awful crap, who knows. I know nothing
about Dad; if you google “myspace Dad,” the great Copenhagen hair-metal band D-A-D wind up in
the top spot, and this is definitely not them. Music is some sort of generic
guitar instrumental, flamenco or Segovia
or whatever. Hard to imagine 1000 people would want this thing. (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=69564406)

 

 

NECROPOLIS “Stalking Mark E. Smith Around NYC”/”I Love
Cinnamon” (Columbia
Discount, 2005) 

 

You read its title and want the A-side to sound like a
northern Ohio
version of the Fall, and actually, the hard clattering jangle of a groove
underneath almost pulls it off; marching-band drums at the start don’t hurt,
either. But the singing is a cutesy little-girl voice, with occasional “hey!
woo!” interjections from a dude; and yeah, sadly, these are probably the kind of
kids who would stalk Mark E. Smith,
when you think about it. B-side crosses the cutesy line – she likes cinnamon on her head, see — and so do the little
puppies and kitties and dollies strung up on the clothes line on the sleeve,
and so definitely does the computer robot-reading voice ending each song. But
the B-side’s rhythm clatters below too, and Mark E. and cinnamon are two of my
favorite things, and this song introduced some sort of aesthetic that fellow
Columbus kids Times New Viking would take the bank (or at least take to Pitchfork)
a few years later. So I’ll cut it slack. (http://www.myspace.com/necropolisrocks)

 

 

THE NECROS “Tangled Up”/”The Nile
Song” (Gasatanka, 1986)

 

Northern Ohio (Maumee
to be exact) version of early (“Free For All”-era) Ted Nugent, and one of the
best (and most rock) indie rock singles of the past quarter century. (Maybe the best.)  Definitely the only time (tempo-wise,
rhythm-wise, riff-wise, song-wise, singing-wise, catchiness-wise) that an indie
band has ever pulled off the Nuge thing – Even the very good Necros themselves never again came anywhere near this
close, and I should know if anybody should seeing as how I was at least a
passing acquaintance with dammit-doll-like frontguy Barry Hennsler at the time
(even saw a couple shows with him – White Zombie and Guns N Roses before they
achieved stardom for instance, if I remember right. Letting his red hair grow ‘70s
long, he’d shout “get a Mohawk!” out the window at Ann Arbor punk rockers back
in those days — unless I just dreamed that up in my head since, but pretty
sure I didn’t. Later, he wound up on Sub Pop, in the band Big Chief.) Anyhow,
absolutely world-class song: “There’s a noose around my life that strangles
every day/Tangled up in a web of lies, mistakes I never made.” One of the best
hard rock/punk/metal singles of the ‘80s, on any label level. B-side’s a
quality cover of a 1969 Pink Floyd song also covered seven years later by the
great Quebec
cyber-thrash band Voivod. Record label Gasatanka is a parody of Casablanca, maybe because
Redd Kross had covered Kiss’s “Deuce” on Teen
Babes From Monsanto
two years before. After this music, punks could never
again honestly pretend ‘70s rock wasn’t cooler than they were. Which means it
was partly responsible for grunge. But some sins are worth forgiving. (http://www.necroscentral.com/)

 

 

THE NEIN “Auto-Destructive Dance Routine”/CANTWELL GOMEZ
& JORDAN “To Love The Unlovely” (Sit-N-Spin, 2005)

 

Another split single. The Nein from North Carolina put
extravagant whining (about “Palestine” at one point I think) over
post-punk-revival stiffened funk beats and alleged (I read on the web
somewhere) “found sounds”; toward the finish line, the guitars thicken and
vocals overlap and whips and spanks substitute for basslines. Somehow,
especially given the icky era that this was released in, it all basically adds
up to “electroclash” — which might be justified if the Nein sounded as German
as their name, but they don’t. The also-North Carolinian Cantwell and Co. do
more hands-in-pockets pogo-funk, fronted by a gal yelping like she wishes she
was old enough to have been in the Delta 5 or Essential Logic. But she wasn’t,
which makes this a lot less interesting than if she was. She turns dirgey
toward the end, and I still slightly prefer her to the Nein guy, I guess. Both
sides of the pic sleeve present quaint and kitschy depictions of a man and a
woman – dancing and necking with heads and limbs falling off and teeth falling
out, framed by footprints on the dancing side and lipstick smears on the
necking side. If that’s somehow supposed to be amusing or transgressive, I
don’t get it. (http://www.myspace.com/thenein;
http://www.myspace.com/cantwellgomezandjordan)

 

 

Chuck Eddy is the
former music editor of the
Village Voice and the author of several books, including the greatest book on heavy
metal ever written,
Stairway To Hell.
He won’t admit it, but he knows more about rock ‘n’ roll than the entire
accumulated BLURT brain trust.

 

 

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