THE SINGLES SCENE

It’s indie going
steady time at Blurt! Guarantee: all sales are vinyl.

 

BY TIM HINELY

 

Ahh… the 7″ single – you remember those, right? Of course you do. They
(whoever “they” is) say vinyl is making a comeback but as far as I’m concerned
it never went away.

 

Also, I’m sorry folks, but it has to be said: When someone posts a new
single at iTunes it’s not really a single. Oh sure, it may be a new song, but
to truly be a single it has to be a
7′ piece of vinyl (preferably colored) with a sleeve (preferably a
picture). 

 

The ten singles listed below are more of the pop persuasion, some
bands you may have heard of and some you may have not, and while some are
better than others, all are worthy of your time. So you can keep your iPods
running and I won’t flip you any – no iPod for this writer – as long as you
don’t flip me any for keeping my turntable all lubed up and ready to spin… here
goes!

 

***

 

Rating: 7 (out of 10)

Apple Orchard

“A Month of Spring” b/w “The Rainbow’s End” and “She Knows”

(Haymarket Recordings) www.appleorchardpop.com

This Bay Area band is actually brother Ryan and Dale Marquez who have
been creating their hazy pop nuggets for a few years now. Ryan sings and plays
guitar while Dale plays bass and keys (and some guitars, too). The a-side is
noisier than what they usually offer while the two songs on the flip slip back
into a Sarah records-esque groove (especially on “The Rainbow’s End”). Nice.

 

8

Boat

“(I’ll Beat Me Chest Like) King Kong” b/w Le Grande Opening” and
“Forever in Armitron”

(Magic Marker) www.magicmarkerrecords.com

One of the hardest-working (yet most underrated) bands in indie rock
land is Seattle’s
Boat. On this swirly-colored vinyl single they drop a groovy mid-tempo nugget
on the a-side while in the flip offer two more cuts that coulda been AM radio
hits back in 1968 (which was probably before these guys were born), especially
the snappy “Forever in Armitron.” Righteous.

 

8

Bubblegum
Lemonade

“Caroline’s Dream” b/w “Stalling and Laughing” and Looking to the Sun”

(Matinee) www.matineerecordings.com

The Matinee label never seems to slow down in its quest for pop
perfection. The a-side was on their latest record, Sophomore Release and it’s yet another song in the long line of
Scottish pop royalty. The b-side offers 
up two songs; “Stalling and Laughing ” clocks in at just over a minute
and a half and sounds easily tossed off while “Looking to the Sun” cranks up
the fuzz and points more to the Jesus & Mary Chain than Orange Juice (which
is a-ok). Lovely red vinyl.

 

6

Derby

Madeline EP

(Timber Carnival Records) www.timbercarnival.com

Portland quartet Derby seems to have
undergone a change here. The band was once known for its sweet pop but I’d
heard a few years back that there was some sort of upheaval. That is probably
old news by now. Main guy Nat Johnson is still at the helm but these two songs
are darker, moodier. “Don’t Believe in You” slowly unfold and then build with a
solid drumbeat throughout while the flip begins as a dreamy acoustic number
that, quite frankly, should have been the a-side. Just sayin’.

 

6

Dirty Mittens

“Row” b/w “This Here Year”

(Magic Marker records) www.magicmarkerrecords.com

This Portland
bunch, led by vocalist Courtney Morrissey, has been spreading their
good-natured cheer for a few years now and this 2-song single, while not their
best, is still solid pop music. They add horns and keys to the basic
guitar/bass/drums set up but then you have Morrissey’s helium-voiced squeal
which will appeal to some while putting off others. It takes some getting used
to on record but in a live setting she’ll have you eating out of her hand
within minutes.

 

9

Northern Portrait

“Life Returns to Normal”
b/a “Some People”

(Matinee) www.matineerecordings.com

The word on the street on this Danish band is that they love The
Smiths and sound quite a bit like them – and you know what? It’s all true, but
who cares; the songs are superb! The a-side is from their excellent debut
record, Criminal Art Lovers, while
the flip, a Cliff Richard cover, might be even better with a groovier beat and
vocalist Stefan Larsen stretching his pipes out a bit more. Not sold yet? How
about the perfect clear vinyl?

 

6

Paper Fleet

“Baby, We Love Each Other” EP

(Ottomen) www.ottomen.com

This band hails from NYC and got Sex Robots maestro Mario Viele to
produce a 4-song 7″, but while I had not heard the band before they are not
newcomers. Go to their webpage and see they have a previous full-length, an EP
and a few other singles too. This is upbeat, poppy garage rock. The guitar
leads are short and fun while the rhythm section is happily bashing away and
the vocalist sounds like a smart-ass motormouth (in the best way possible).
“The Beach” is my pick to click but all 4 of these cuts are pretty fun.

 

8

Soda Shop

“Farewell” b/w “When You’re Lonely”

(Shelflife) www.shelflife.com

It’s nice to see the Shelflife label back in the swing of releasing 7″
records (and who doesn’t love white vinyl?). This NYC duo is Drew Diver (from
another Shelflife band, Horse Shoes) and Maria Usbeck (from Selebrities) and
here they offer up two terrific pop nuggets. The a-side is pure ‘60s AM radio
stuff (a la She & Him) while the
flip slows it down and saddens it up (if just a bit).  The public demands more.

 

6

Sunshine Factory

“Lower Away” b/w “Tidal Waves”

(Culdesac Kids) www.culdesackidsrecords.com

Had never heard of this Palmdale, Calif.,  quartet previously, and it’s probably because
they’re a fairly new band (never heard of the label before, either). “Lower
Away” is a real laid-back, warm pop tune with lots of silky piano and smooth
vocals. The b-side get a bit folkier and wasn’t as inviting (or as catchy) but
still not a bad song.  Apparently they
have big plans for the future, so have at it, boys.

 

8

Various Artists

Adalita Srsen + Robert Scott – “That’s What I Heard” b/w The Puddle –
“Average Sensual Man”

(Fishrider) www.indiepages.com/fishrider

This split single offers up 2 terrific songs from some New Zealand
legends. The a-side is Robert Scott (of The Bats, of course) and a female
friend laying down the beautiful “That’s What I Heard” with a strummed guitar
and both of them singing. Not unlike what he was doing with The Magick Heads.
The b-side is New Zealand’s
long-running band The Puddle (who have a few full-lengths out on the Fishrider
label) led by Mr. George Henderson, but with a full-band. This tune cuts a warm
groove with viola, accordion and some simmering backing vocals. Nice.

 

 Tim “45 Adapter” Hinely publishes the Portland-based Dagger zine. Visit him on the web at the Dagger website.

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