THE SINGLES SCENE II

It’s indie going steady time once again! Guarantee: all
sales are vinyl.

 

BY TIM HINELY

 

Okay, so the
previous BLURT singles column ran back in March
. I had such a good time doing
it (and with plenty more 7″ers rolling in during the interim) that I really
wanted to do it again. Voila, here it is. As I stated last time, you guys can keep your iPods, downloads, MP3s and the
like. Meanwhile, I will make sure that my record player keeps working –  in truth, I’d repair it before I’d fix, say,
my car, fridge, or oven.  I’d say
something goofy (or completely wrong) like, these
damn kids these days don’t know what vinyl is all about…
, but you know
what? They do. Labels still press it, and folks both young and old still buy
it. 

 

Long live vinyl!
Here are a dozen recent platters – one of them submitted by a fellow BLURT-er, the rest reviewed by me –
you need.

 

***

 

Rating: 7 (out
of 10)

Bunnygrunt

Lady, You Just
Got Von Damaged! EP

(Pancake
Productions) www.pancakeproductions.net

And crashing out
of the gate is St. Louie’s long-lived punky power indie poppers Bunnygrunt. The
core of the band, Matt Harnish on guitar and vocals and Karen Reid on bass and
vocals, is still around and share vocals duties. Opening cut “Just like “ol Times”
is a classic, all fuzzy guitars and gobs of sugary melody while “Young Abe
Lincoln” slows it down a bit and was just average. The song on the flip, their
Karen-sung “He’s About a Leaver,” sounds like the best of Rizzo, All Girl
Summer Fun Band and, yes, Bunnygrunt, all rolled into one!

 

7

The Ice Choir

“Two Rings” b/w
“The Ice Choir”

(Shelflife) www.shelflife.com

This is the
debut release from a Brooklyn, NY band who you’d swear were from England.
It’s the work of one, Kurt Feldman, you may know him as the drummer for the
Pains of Being Pure at Heart (and the Depreciation Guild) but here he shows his
icier side (sorry) with two synth pop classic. “Two Rings” is darker and more
romantic while the flip, “The Ice Choir” 
is bouncier and a bit looser. A perfect mix of classic and contemporary.
Expect a debut full-length sometime in 2012.

 

8

Monnone Alone

“Pink Earrings”
b/w “When We Hit the Ground”

(The Lost and
Lonesome Recording Co.)  www.lostandlonesome.com.au

This is the new
project from, of course, Mark Monnone. As you know, Mark was the bassist in The
Lucksmiths, Australia’s
purveyors of perfect pop, but when that band called it a day a few years back
Mark needed someone to occupy his time. Though based back in his homeland,
these songs were recorded by Drew Cramer in San Francisco (Mark is always traveling the
world). “Pink Earrings” is a warm groove with a warm low end while the flip,
“When We Hit the Ground,” cranks it up a notch with  hint of fuzz on the guitars and Mark’s
heartfelt, Jonathan Richman-esque vocals.

 

6

Orca Team

“Take My Hand”
+2

(HHBTM) www.hhbtm.com

Well, I kept hearing about Portland’s Orca Team but had never heard
them. Pals swore they were worthy and well, my pals were right. This is
swingin’ pop for well-dressed folks with cocktails in their hands (though I
don’t drink and rarely get dressed up and I like it so that shoots my theory to
hell).  “Take My Hand” is a real finger
snapper while the two songs on the flip (“Me & my Lonesome” and “Fight
Song”) added more reverb. Though both are good, “Fight Song” is the pick to
click on this side.  Huzzah!

 

8

Chloroform Days

“Landings” b/w
“Evelyn”

(CulDeSac Kids) www.culdesackidsrecords.com

Chloroform Days
– a/k/a Cali
guitarist/vocalist and sampler-laptop
whiz Cory Milano – follows up his extraordinary No Traffic EP with an earworm platter of shiver-inducing,
ambient-laced pop. The icy intro motif of “Landings” gradually thaws into an
indiefilm soundtrack-worthy anthem (Sundance, are you listening?), while the
B-side’s kinetic beats ‘n’ Rhodes, courtesy Erik Kertes, leavened by Milano’s
yearning, sighing vox will melt your heart.
Guaranteed. (Fred Mills reporting.)

 

6

Paper Fleet

Prairie Fires of
the Great West ep

(Ottomen
Records) www.ottomen.com

I reviewed the
band’s last 7″ in this column last time (having never heard of the band before)
– and here is another worthy single. Only two songs on here (I want more) but
they both kick up a fine amount of dust with gritty/gnashy guitar, a solid
backbeat  and on top, Jim Campbell’s
deliciously smart vocals (Campbell used to be in The Ottomen with P.F. member
Josh Inman, if I have my facts straight). The 45 comes with a cool comic, too.

 

7

Jeremy Porters & the Tucos

Night on the
Town ep

(Mag Wheel)   www.magwheel.com

Hey, finally a
7″ with a big hole (and the blue vinyl is purty, too).  I’ve reviewed records in the past by Mr.
Porter and he always delivers; the two songs on here do not disappoint. Imagine
if Cheap Trick had been born on the Motor
City about 20 years later
and you’ll be in the ballpark. “Night on the Town” is a nice, chunky pop tune
with gobs of melody while the rootsier “Ain’t My House Anymore” adds some much
needed twang to the proceedings, all proving one thing, that Porter can master
either of these finicky genres.

 

7

Ross and the Wrongens

Evil Life in the
Loo’s EP

(self released) www.rossanddthewrongens.com

Never heard of
these UK
popsters before but they seem to be getting a push, and hey, the vinyl on this
one is extra thick so that has to count for something, right? They seem like
they’re influenced by all that’s good about UK pop but with none of the
annoying bombast.  “That Magic Feeling”
is a snappy pop song that I’ll now be singing all day, while “Through with U
(ballad of an alcoholic)” was decent but not great. The two songs on the flip
were both righteous: “Reason 2 Live” adds some cool organ while “Summer Sun,”
despite its title, is moodier and a bit darker. Rookies of the year?

 

9

Strawberry Whiplash

Stop Look and
Listen EP

(Matinee) www.indiepages.com/matinee

Three more songs
from the Scottish hit-making machine. The band is a collaboration between main
songwriter Lawrence
“Laz” McCluskey and vocalist Sandra. This is their 3rd ep (the
previous ones were both on the Matinee label as well) and these three songs are
his best.  The title track is a
near-perfect mid-tempo pop tune that comes crashing out of the gate with
conviction and Sandra cooing love beads in the air while “In the Blink of an
Eye” slows it down, if just a bit, but keeps the melody chugging; and “Luck is
the Residue of Design” is more goodness. The Matinee track record continues.
 

8

Tunabunny

“(Song for my)
Solar Sister” b/w “Airport”

(HHBTM) www.hhbtm.com

I wasn’t sure
what to think of a band with a name like Tunabunny, but what’s in a name,
right? They have a previous split 7″ out and a full-length as well, and the two
songs on here prove they belong in this article.  The a-side, “(Song for my) Solar Sister,”
sounds like a Spector wall o’ sound, if Spector was born in Athens, GA, about
30 years later, while the flip is a bit more out there with whirring,
pulsing  synths and vocals that sound
like they’re a million miles away.

 

9

White Wishes

“Come and Say
Hello” b/w “Jimmy”

(Shelflife) www.shelflife.com

This band hails
from St. Petersburg – as in Russia, the cold, bleak place half a world away, not
the sunny American place in Florida.
The Shelflife page nails the A-side as sounding like a lost Golden Dawn track
(old Sarah Records band) and I could not have said it any better, while the
A-side is more Pastels-sounding with scratchy yet jangly guitars, a thumping
drumbeat and vocals that sound more Scottish than Russian. I can’t wait to hear
more from this band.

 

10

The Motifs and The Zebras (split single)

“Words” b/w
“Desert Island”

(Knock Yr Socks
Off Records) www.knockyrsocksoff.com

All-around good
guy Michael Zakes got this single for me featuring two terrific Aussie pop
bands. The Motifs, who I caught at the San Francisco pop fest earlier this
year, offer up “Words” which features 
warm (yet totally melodic) keys with handclaps and near perfect
harmonies, while the Zebras have recorded a song so good here that I could play
it over and over on a desert island. Split single of the year, no doubt!

 

***

 

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

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