Tag Archives: indie

Tim Hinely: 15 Questions For… Chunklet’s Henry Owings

Untitled-9_400x400

And… here’s the latest installment in the BLURT series in which we profile cool independent record labels. What are the criteria for inclusion in the “cool” category? Hey, ’cos we say they are cool, that’s what! We’re making the rules around here, kids. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment, coming soon, and meanwhile, go HERE for entry #1 (Slumberland Records), HERE for #2 (12XU), HERE for #3 (Saint Marie), HERE for #4 (Trouble In Mind), and HERE for #5 (Fort Lowell).

BY TIM HINELY

I think it was about 1995 when I saw my first issue of Chunklet and I believe it was issue 11. Wait, how did this ultra-cool zine exist for 10 previous issues and me not knowing about it?! The mag got better and better and it was obvious that editor/publisher Henry Owings was some kind of mad genius graphics whiz (self taught, I believe). The empire of Chunklet Industries then began expanding as Owings began selling Chunklet t-shirts (I’ve got a few) and then came the record label. While the releases seemed pretty sporadic early on the past few years have seen a blast activity with a bunch of excellent releases by old favorites Tar as well as (more old favorites) Man or Astroman?, Don Caballero, Obnox, Olivia Tremor Control and, a forthcoming release from Athens’ favorites, Pylon, a live recording of the band in ’83 (along with a limited edition 45). In between one of his 587 projects that he’s currently working on, Owings took some time out to answer some questions about his very active label.

When did the label form/ what was your original inspiration?
It was inspired exclusively by my inability to sit passively back during the first Clinton administration. My interest in money and/or success has been secondary to just getting a few things out that, without my assistance, would never see the light of day. Simple as that.

What was your first release?
My first “real” release was back in’ 93 with The Oblivians and the “Go! Pill Popper!” 7”. However, the label was called Drug Racer and that feels like an eternity ago. The first release on “Chunklet” per se was Les Savy Fav’s “Let’s Stay Friends” LP forever ago.

chunklet4

If there is one band, current or present, you could release a record by who would it be?
This answer could go one of two ways…

The first answer would be that I’ve been incredibly lucky to have put out records by some of my all time favorite bands: The Jesus Lizard, The Olivia Tremor Control, Tar, Man…or Astro-Man?, Thee Speaking Canaries, and that’s just the bands that I can muster off the top of my head without sounding full of myself. The fact that I’m putting out a 2xLP with Athens band Pylon this year is still something I think of with utter disbelief, so, yeah, I’m absolutely humbled by the company I keep.

Pylon 45

The second version of this answer is a bit more nuanced…

1) I’d love to be at the helm to release an authoratative MC5 box set. Not like the unimaginative garbage that has been put out, but rather, done by fans and meant for fans, but also intended to suck in new fans and preserve their legacy. As much of a fan as I am, everything other than their three ‘proper’ albums all seem pretty warmed over garbage.

2) I have been sniffing around the Atlanta band Smoke for the better part of five years to have their legacy championed. Trying to find a “real” label to springboard it to, but that’s another dream.

3) Another that I’ve been pursuing is the band Synthetic Flying Machine, which preceded both The Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel and was probably one of my FAVORITE bands from back in the early days of living in Athens in ’92 and ’93.

4) I’d also want to release as much of the Camberwell band Part Chimp as I possibly could. One of the truly outstanding noise bands that refuse to break up.

5) There’s a local band that just started called Mutual Jerk that I’d love to be involved with somehow.

6) There’s Endless Boogie. God, I absolutely love them and would do anything they asked me to do.

7) And, of course, the band The Bar-B-Q Killers is another that I just would love to see presented to a modern audience. But as you might be able to surmise, the pace is glacial on this stuff.

chunklet5

What has been your best seller to date?
Probably “Dusk at Cubist Castle” by the Olivia Tremor Control. But saying “Best seller” makes it seem like I’m doing this for the money which, let’s be honest, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Does your label use and/or have a presence on any of the social media sites?
Not really. Just an occasional tweet or Facebook post. Bandcamp. Mailing list.

Is the Atlanta/ Athens music community supportive of the label?
I’ve never given it any thought. Perhaps?

Have digital sales been significant or nominal?
They’ve been significant-ish. Thanks for asking.

Vinyl is Killing the MP3 Industry" - Henry Owings (www.chunklet.com)

Vinyl is Killing the MP3 Industry” – Henry Owings (www.chunklet.com)

Has there actually been a vinyl resurgence the past few years?
Google it. I hear it’s happening.

What is your personal favorite format to release music?
I’d love to put something out on human skin, but I’m sure that Jack White guy has already done it. Bastard.

What new(er) labels these days have captured your attention?
I still think Siltbreeze is one of the most consistent labels of the past 25 years. Gerard [Cosloy’s] ear over at 12XU is absolutely sterling. Bill and Lisa Roe’s Trouble In Mind is hitting home run after home run. Ever/Never out of NYC is doing a great job. Mostly “smaller” labels always pique my interest. Homeless out of Australia is cranking out the best jams. Goner, of course, is killing it. Deranged, Ektro and Blackest Ever Black’s catalog are really inspired. However, I’ve never been motivated/interested in a label’s commercial success. To me, it’s all about finding new jams and celebrating them.

Do you accept unsolicited demos?
Sure. But other than a polite “thank you,” it’s usually followed up by hitting the delete button.

41LISsTADbL

Please tell us the story behind the Tar 2x LP. How did it come about.
I’ve known Tar since ’91. They were probably the first band that I became actual friends with when I was in my early 20s. We always remained friends over the subsequent years since their break up in ’95. When the band emailed me about doing a 7” for their PRF BBQ reuinion gig in ‘12, I jumped at the chance. It started a dialogue about uncovering all the tapes from their AmRep and T&G 7”s and comp tracks, their ’91 Peel session and the bits and bobs that make up the 2xLP “1988-1995.”

As a super fan, I was also shocked by how many other super fans (or for them, friends that are super fans as well) that offered up to help get this release done. Without their help, it never would’ve come out. Those people are, specifically, Steve Albini (who went back into the studio and remixed some mixdowns that had gone MIA) and Bob Weston (who did a superior job of mastering and cutting the lacquers). In addition, and it can’t be stressed enough, Drew Crumbaugh was a great digital sleuth and editor to get the live digital component together. His contribution wasn’t necessarily celebrated on the vinyl portion, but the audio he polished/mastered really pushed the release over the top. But to back up for a second, this release took well over a year, but would’ve been impossible without all of the goodwill that Tar generated during their career. So for that, I’m indebted to Mike Greenless and John Mohr (specifically) but the band (entirely) for their interest and time. To have my name on one of their records is a true badge of honor.

chunklet1

Contact points:
www.chunklet.com / @chunklet

1694 May Ave SE
Atlanta GA 30316

——————————

Artists on label:

Pylon
Man…or Astro-Man?
Mugstar
Salad Boys
Les Savy Fav
Harvey Milk
Torche
Part Chimp
Floor
Honey Radar
Tar
Cuntz
The Jesus Lizard
The Corporate Office
Thee Speaking Canaries
Don Caballero
The Olivia Tremor Control
Obnox
Survival Knife
The Rock*A*Teens

 

John B. Moore: Shovels & Rope

SR-Cycle-1-by-Molly-Hayes

“It’s your job just to go out there and throw your punches”: the sonically pugilistic Americana duo shows its moves to the BLURT braintrust.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Americana duo Shovels & Rope is an anomaly in music these days: a critically-hyped band that actually manages to live up to all of the effusive praise.

Charleston-based husband and wife team Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst originally had no intention of combining forces, both seemingly content as separate solo acts. But a couple of fortuitous gigs in which each act served as the other’s sideman, years ago at a North Carolina club, got the pair thinking about the benefits of combining forces. Three albums (including their latest, 2014’s frankly amazing Swimmin’ Time, released on the Dualtone label), a handful of awards, and millions of fans later, Trent and Hearst are still living up to the hype.

The two took some time recently to talk to BLURT about the band’s beginnings, making a documentary and holding their own at festivals.

BLURT: I’m sure you’ve heard this question a lot over the years, so I apologize for you having to hear it again: You both started out as solo musicians; how did you decide to come together as a band?

TRENT: We had made a record while we were still very much doing things on our own and that record ended up being titled Shovels & Rope, so it was already like we had a toe in already. We hadn’t planned on every being a touring act or anything, but people would respond to that in a way that was different to the way they responded to the other things we were doing. At some point, there was one specific weekend when I had a gig in Charlotte at a club called the Evening Muse and Cary was my back up for that gig, and the very next weekend she had a gig at the same place and I was her sideman. It just seemed ridiculous at that point – we could probably put on one pretty good show between the two of us. We could actually stay out on the road for a while if it was both of us doing it together.

How much did that change the way you go about writing your music? Obviously when you’re solo you don’t have to run a song by anyone else to get their buy in.

HEARST: It doesn’t change the way we write together, but sometimes Michael will write by himself and sometimes with other band members; I, 99% of the time, wrote by myself and so before we started touring really hard we co-wrote the first Shovels & Rope record together – he brought in some songs and I brought in some songs… When we started touring together, we’d spend all of our time together and realized it was fun to write together. We still write separately and together for records.

Do you ever feel you have to stand up for a song that the other one doesn’t like?

TRENT: Usually one of us is standing up for a song that the other person wrote, that they don’t really like,

HEARST: That’s exactly right.

TRENT: We’ll have a very honest conversation with each other: “You have to show me all of them, even the ones you may not think are any good.” A lot of times, it’s those (songs) that end up striking a real chord with the other person and end up turning into special songs.

I love my wife dearly, but could never imagine working a job with her every single day. Being married and in a band together, did you ever have a discussion up front on how to make it work?

TRENT: We thought the exact same thing, so don’t count yourself out.

HEARST: Yeah, it wasn’t either of our ideas as the ideal thing to do, spending that much time together.

TRENT: But it has actually worked out and we give each other space when we need it. At this point, I can’t really imagine doing it any other way. But at first, we were both like “no, we shouldn’t do this.” It took a minute before we both came around to the idea, primarily because we’d both been doing our own thing for so long that it would be weird to go in with someone else, especially your spouse… It’s been great.

HEARST: Ever since we got married, and we’d been together a real long time before that, we’ve been traveling ever since our honeymoon. We’ve been on the road ever since, so we honestly don’t know any different.

Can you talk a little bit about the documentary, The Ballad of Shovels & Rope?

HEARST: The documentary is a super precious, awesome experience that we cherish. We’re also humbled by watching ourselves. I think some people really love to see themselves on camera and neither of us, even someone who is as big a ham as I tend to be, neither of us really love to watch ourselves when that deep dark mirror is shining back on you. You say stupid things and don’t realize it until afterward.

TRENT: The way it all came about in the first place, when we first decided we were going to do this, that we were going to be a band called Shovels & Rope, we heard about these guys and did some live videos with them, so that we would have something to put on our website so that we could get gigs. We spent a day with them and just made all kinds of videos. A couple of weeks later they called us back and had this idea that they wanted to do a documentary about us. We didn’t have anything going on at the time. Nothing.

They just sort of wanted to document the way a family band was just working, how we did our thing. It was supposed to a couple of months and then it ended up lasting a year and then two years. Things just kept popping up. They ended up following us around for about three years when all was said and done.

HEARST: Yeah, we really became great friends with them… the fella that produced it ended up becoming our manager during the course of making the documentary. Those guys are great artists and we had a really great time working with them… We’ll be so gratefully to have this looking back 40 or 50 years. We’ll be able to prove to our grandchildren what we did.

So is this just the first step on your path to a reality show?

HEARST: Oh yeah (sarcastically). It’ll be called Take My Eyes Out with a Dull Spoon.

You guys have a very packed summer, based on your tour schedule. You’re also playing a lot of festivals. Do you enjoy those are or they kind of a necessary evil at this point?

TRENT: It’s just different and every festival is different from each other. The smaller ones definitely feel a little more special. The big ones can be such a spectacle, there’s so much going on and so many people, I sort of feel like it’s harder to connect than if you’re playing in a club. You’re also playing to all these other bands’ audiences as well as your own. Whereas headlining show all of those people are there to see you.

It’s a neat opportunity, it’s just a little different.

HEARST: It’s trial by fire. You’re standing before the gun line and you give everything you have and you only have half the time to do it. Thank you Cleveland!

Have you ever had the situation where you’re playing to a crowd and you guys just don’t fit it?

HEARST: Oh yeah! But I will say that we’ve also played in front of crowds that we don’t necessary get into, but I will argue that we hang pretty tough. We’ve never gotten the idea that anybody is like “I hate this band. Get them off the stage.” People will let you know that they like you and they’ll also let you know that they’re just waiting for the band you’re opening for. That’s ok. That’s just part of the game. It’s your job just to go out there and throw your punches.

TRENT: We’ve got to go all 12 rounds.

Photo Credit: Molly Hayes

Tim Hinely: The Singles Scene X

blurt singles 8

File under “rock with guitars.” LOTS of guitars. Oh, and lots of colored wax, to boot. Vinyl? Yeah, we’ve had a few… Above: Hulaboy

BY TIM HINELY

You did it…you people dared me. You never thought I’d turn it up to 11, did you (on the 10th singles column, no less)? Every other column I’d reviewed 10 singles and this time I upped it to 11. And then the editor upped it even more with a couple of picks of his own. You people know better than to dare me. (Or us.) If you say I can’t or won’t do it, trust me, I will. This column is for every one of you (and you all owe me dinner, by the way).

***

blurt single 1

Arts & Leisure

“Weekend” b/w “Over You” (9 out of 10 stars)

(Test Pattern Records) www.testpatternrecords.com

I loved this band’s full-length (former members of Baby Grand, woot woot!) and now here’s two more songs to scratch that pop itch that rarely gets scratched these days. “Weekend” is damn near perfect, all cooing and sighing while “Over You” adds a little bit more grit to the proceedings, but not too much. Buy, Buy BUY.

 

blurt singles 7

Boyracer

“Pete Shelley” plus 3 (8 out of 10 stars)

(Emotional Response) www.emotional-response-recs.bandcamp.com

Just when you think that Stew and Jen have retired Boyracer for good they come roaring back with 4 more songs that were recorded in locales such as Arizona, Sweden and the UK. This 7” starts off with a song called “Pete Shelley” (you can never go wrong with that name) and ends with the Jen-written “Jump” (not a Van Halen cover, you freaks) and two more cuts that are worthy of your time. Don’t pull a hamstring listening.

 

Feedtime 45

feedtime

“Flatiron” b/w “Stick Up Jack” (10)

Sub Pop (www.subpop.com)

I’m not trying to trump any of Dr. Hinely’s “8” and “9” star ratings by deploying an unheard-of “10” here—the record’s genuinely that awesome. It’s everything a classic single should be: blazingly powerful and straight to the point, boasting irresistible hooks and both sides clocking in at under 2 ½ minutes. Indeed, the legendary Australian skronk/blues trio is unleashing its first new studio material in two decades, having gotten back together in 2012 to promote their Aberrant Years retrospective. With a slide-guit-powered A-side that is pure f-time blooze-punk (like they walked out the door and then walked right back), and a 1-chord locomotive raveup for the B-side, the single’s a no-brainer to be on year-end best-of lists. And it’s only friggin’ February! Time for an album, lads. Download code included. —Fred Mills

 

Print

Deaf Wish

“St. Vincents” plus 3 (8)

(Sub Pop) www.subpop.com

Apparently this Australian quartet’s first album (they have three) was recorded in one day, and released three days later in a vomit bag (and you thought you were punk rawk). I hadn’t heard a note of their music but the four songs are like a punch in the face that you keep asking for. My pick to click is the first tune, ‘St. Vincent’s” but all four are righteous. File under: rock with guitars. Lots of guitars.

 

blurt singles 6

Hard Left

“Skinheads Home for Christmas” b/w “Yesterdays Hero” (8)

(Future Perfect Records)

This seems to be that perfect melding of The Ramones, Skrewdriver (minus the racist lyrics), Sham, 69 and the Bay City Rollers. Gravelly-voiced doesn’t even being to describe the singer while the guitars are whispering sweet nothings in my ears. Both songs are ace. Yeah, ace so the red vinyl isn’t the only reason to get this….DAMMIT, IT’S GOOD.

 

Hulaboy

“Kids Under Stars” plus 2 (7)

(Emotional Response) www.emotional-response-recs.bandcamp.com

Back before Stew Boyracer became a husband, dad and a ranch hand he used to record every waking second (no, really). In addition to Boyracer he had another project going, Hulaboy (with his pal Eric from the band Hula Hoop), that had some singles and comp tracks. Good to see he’s revived that band with three more tunes. “Kids Under Stars” is roaring and ferocious while the two songs on the flip were slower, darker and had some cool keyboards. Purrrrrfect purple vinyl. (photo is at the top of the page)

 

blurt singles 3

The Improbables

“Bad Vibrations” b/w “Giving You a Key” (9)

(Hidden Volume (www.hiddenvolume.com

Had not heard of the label before but with this release and others, seems like it’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Anywho, these two songs would be requested over and over again if this trio played your next frat party. Or house party. Or whatever. Vocalist/bassist Dave makes all the girls swoon (but drummer Jeremy gets ’em in the door in the first place). I/we need a full-length from this band. Terrific stuff and yes, boo boo blue vinyl.

 

blurt singles 5

P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.

“Hit and Run” b/w “45 Minutes” (7)

(Doomtown Sounds) www.problemspdx.com

When you look like these guys do and hang out in graveyards you’re inevitably going to get Black Sabbath comparisons. These guys do sound a little like Ozzy’s old band, being played at 45, that is. “Hit and Run” is what these guys do for a living so you’d better stay on the sidewalk while the flipside, “45 Minutes”, kicks it up a notch. And forget Sabbath, this is more Dead Boys/Electric Frankenstein kinda rawk. Red vinyl.

 

Quitty & the Don’ts

“Running out of Time” b/w “(She’s Gonna) Break Your Heart” (8)

(Hidden Volume) www.hiddenvolume.com

I dunno a dern thing about this band but I like the name and after playing it I wanna hear more. Two near-perfect slices of pure ‘60s garage pop from the Hidden Volume label (see Improbables review above) complete with tambourine and melodies to die for. Think Dave Clark 5 here people and for those of us who are colored-vinyl freaks the red on here looked righteous. These guys need to record again and again.

 

Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse

“Lampshades On Fire” b/w “Coyotes” (6)

Epic (www.epicrecords.com)

Given that MM has delayed their new Strangers to Ourselves album again—as of this writing it was slated for March 17—this single will have to do for hungry fans. It’s technically a freebie that indie record stores received to use as giveaways for customers who purchased the full length (or, now, who preorder it). But it’s probably easy to find for sale, and the two tracks, along with teaser tune “The Best Room,” are also already available at iTunes. Whattaya get? A weird kind of polka-fueled punk rock ditty on one side, a luminous waltz-time pop nugget on the other, neither of which is exactly essential listening but still hold up to repeated spins. We’ll have to wait for the full album to see if Isaac Brock’s mojo is still intact, though. —Fred Mills

 

The Safe Distance

“A Bigger Splash” plus 3 (5)

(Emotional Response) www.emotional-response-recs.bandcamp.com

The Safe Distance is Stew (as if this guy wasn’t in enough bands, see Boyracer, Hulaboy and Hard Left on this page) plus Crayola and David. Like the latest Boyracer 7”, record in the US of A, Australia and England (they’re got lots of frequent flyer miles). This is all over the map and reminded me of someone switching between AM radio stations (plus some college radio throw in there, too). Like if “Boris the Spider’ was written by the guy from the Monochrome Set. Rude red vinyl.

 

blurt singles 4

Sick Thoughts

“Beat on Beat” b/w “Fun While It Lasts” (7)

(Goner Records) www.goner-records.com

This band hails from Baltimore and its members were probably extras on The Wire. Only two songs on this here big-hole, black vinyl 7” but both are winners, that is if you think The Germs “Forming” 7” is one of the greatest pieces of wax ever. I do. Lyrics to “Beat on Beat” go like this, “Eyes together, hands together, heads together beat on beat.” Yeah!

 

Hard Left/ Bad Daddies (SPLIT)

Hard Left Side- “Stay True’ and “It’s Not You” b/w Bad Daddies side- “War,” “Festering Brine” and “We Never Will” (9)

(Emotional Response) www.emotional-response-recs.bandcamp.com

Hard Left are making an impression and taking a stand. You read my review up above and these two songs, “Stay True” and “It’s Not You” are no different. Join the Hard Left Barmy Army or be lonely forever. Bad Daddies, who I’d never heard of before, crank out three gold-plated nuggets of sped-up punk complete with Poly Styrene-ish vocals and a layer of some of the sweetest fuzz around. This particular blue vinyl looked almost good enough to eat (I’m hungry).

***

Tim “45 Adapter” Hinely spins backwards when he reviews Australian records, but don’t let that throw you off balance. Check out his most excellent rock mag Dagger at www.daggerzine as well as his 9th installment of The Singles Scene (here at BLURT), or the 8th (here ) or the 7th (here), the 6th (here) and the 5th (here).

Tim Hinely: The Singles Scene IX

THE SINGLES SCENE IX - Blurt's Indie 45 Roundup

“You’ve come a long way baby”: while we rightfully applaud Title IX and all the advances that the fairer sex has made, when you’re talking the IX installment of our indie singles column, those six words are what come to mind…

BY TIM HINELY

You people have given me a new lease on life. Yes, YOU. I asked and you people spoke. You let me know you were tired, tired of all of the hype bands. Flaming Lips (saw ‘em in ’87), Arcade Fire (saw them when they were good), Miley Cyrus (who?). You said you wanted the real deal and that with my column, you got it. The folks with their Charles Dickens clothing riding tall bicycles while growing their beards and eating chutney, they can stay on the other side of the room. We’ll be over here living our lives (and playing records). Seem like a plan? [Yep! -Strategy Ed.]

 

chills 7

The Chills

“Molten Gold” b/w “Pink Frost” (9 out of 10 stars)

(Fire Records) www.firerecords.com

Ok, so I’m a little biased as I think Chills’ leader Martin Phillipps is one of the world’s greatest living songwriters (you know I’m right). He’s been laying low these past several years but with these new recordings and some recent gigs in the U) it seems like the volcano is ready to blow (in the best way possible). “Molten Gold” is a lovely, bouncy tune while the flip redoes one of the band’s greatest moments. As good as the original? Nah but still pretty damn good.

 

Close Lobstes

Close Lobsters

Kunstwerk in Spacetime EP (8)

(Shelflife) www.shelflife.com

Wait, the Close Lobsters are back? Oh hell yes! I loved this UK band back in the day (one of the original C86 bands) and here they are, back with two new songs, their first new ones since ’89. The A-side, “Now Time”, is dreamy, even a bit spacey, but the magic continues. Meanwhile, the flip, “New York City in Space” is mid-tempo and janglier. All this and very thick, reddish vinyl. I’m all in. Shelflife’s winning streak continues.

 

Deniz Tek 45

Deniz Tek

“Crossroads” b/w “Oh Well” (9)

(Career) www.careerrecords.com

No, not that “Crossroads,” although l’il Robby Johnson would still approve; instead, it’s an original from the Radio Birdman geetarzan, and a smokin’ slab of straight up garage slop it be. But yes, that “Oh Well”—specifically, the hi-nrg raveup Pt. 1 of the Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac classic, and I’d reckon that it puts to shame pretty much every other version of you’ve heard over the years with the exception of the original. Pressed on lurid purple wax, and hats off to the Career label (co-helmed by Tek and his buddy Ron Sanchez, of Donovan’s Brain) for their subtle appropriation of the old Atlantic Records promo logo for their label art. (—Fred Mills)

ghetto ghouls 7

Ghetto Ghouls

“Plastic Violence” b/w “Things” (9)

(12XU) www.12xu.net

Look, everyone’s busy these day and no one has a lot of time. The Ghetto Ghouls understand that, which is why they offer up two short cuts on their latest 7”. “Plastic Violence” rumbles and grumbles for a few minutes (maybe) while “Things” has a drummer who’s breaking cymbals all over the place. I normally compare a band like this to a more famous band but I got nothin’: these guys are pretty damn unique.

gingerlys 7

Gingerlys

“Jumprope” +3 (8)

(Shelflife) www.shelf.ife.com

In this column am I reviewing either the fairest of pop of the most slogged-out, gut-bucket noise? Pretty much… but hey, it’s my column and I can do what I want. This fairly new NYC bunch might remind you initially of Pains of Being Pure at Heart which is fine by me. The songs are all “pure ear candy” (as President Obama said). If they were around in the 90’s they’d been the cream of the crop of indie pop and even now, in 2014, I’d say the same. Four songs, no filler.

 

Peter Buck 45

Peter Buck

Opium Drivel EP (8)

(Mississippi) www.mississippirecords.com

Following up his latest solo album (as well as last year’s Planet Of The Apes single, which we reviewed back in Dr. Hinely’s “Singles Scene VI” report), that-guy-who-useta-be-in-some-famous-band teams up, once again, with Scott McCaughey and several partners-in-crime for a 4-songer. Just the pounding Charlie Pickett & the Eggs cover alone (“If This Is Love…”) is worth the price of admission, but you also don’t wanna miss the fuzz-garagey “Portrait Of A Sorry Man” for the series of inside-joke lyrical bon mots (among them: “I’m sorry I invented indie rock… the whole thing started out so well, how was I to know?”). A pair of uncharacteristic acoustic aces on the flip, notably the strummy/jangly “Welcome to the Party,” join the aforementioned joker and king, giving Mr. Buck a pretty strong hand in this game. (—FM)

moles 7

The Moles

“Beauty Queen of Watts” b/w “Chills” (8)

(Fire Records) www.firerecords.com

First new Moles material in over two decades has Australian Richard Davies (though he’s been living in Massachusetts for several years now) joining forces with a band called Free Time (w/members of Real Estate and Scott & Charlene’s Wedding). The a-side is a 2-minute-plus gem, all pristine jangle, while the flip, “Chills,” is a tribute to legendary New Zealand band The Chills (see above) and is nearly as good. And a new album due out later this year. Huzzah!

 

scupper 7

Scupper!

“Scene of the Crime” +3 (9)

(Blue Cheese Toothpaste) www.scupper.bandcamp.com

This is Mr. Mike Janson who was formerly in Matador Records heroes the Lynnfield Pioneers. I thought he fell off the face of the earth. OK, so maybe he did, but he re-emerged in Brooklyn (where all indie rockers go to eat pie) and has this new terrific combo. “Scene of the Crime” spits n’ snarls (whistles, too) while “Barf in the Tube” upchucks enough melody for all of us. On the flip both “No Dime” and “Beehive” get to the finish line before you. Fans of Connections (or simply good music) will dig this.

 

Timmy Vulgar

Timmy Vulgar

Easter EP (6)

(Terror Trash Records) www.timmyvulgar.blogspot.com

Is that a drawing of Will Oldham on the cover? This is a few guys in the bedroom (Vulgar of Human Eye/Clone Defects/Timmy’s Organism fame), playing the banjo, drunk off their asses. No song titles, magic marker scrawl on the label (it just says Timmy 45). I tried to play the flip but no songs on there; great, so Timmy is fuckin’ with us! I know one thing from all of this, Timmy wants whiskey and well, I’ll bring him some damn whiskey—you crazy, I’m not saying no to that lunatic. Hiccup.

 

xetas 7

Xetas

“The Silence” b/w “The Knife” (8)

(12XU) www.12xu.net

There’s a couple of things you’ll learn from this record. The band is a trio from Austin, TX (and Little Steven thinks trios are worthless… dumbass) and no synthesizers were used in the making of the record—and I’ve gotta put another mouse trap out tonight ‘cos we’ve got them in the house. “The Silence” uses drill-bit guitar to drive the point home while “The Knife” reminded me of the best Marked Men songs. I’ll be waiting on the front steps of the 12XU office for their forthcoming LP (can someone bring me some saltines, please?)

Sellwoods 45

The Sellwoods

“Palm Reader” b/w “Devil’s Dagger” (7)

(self-released) www.facebook.com/TheSellwoods

Following up last year’s stylin’ EP, this Portland, OR, ‘60s garage-worshiping trio—Blind Baron, Viking and The Baroness on guitar, bass and drums respectively—goes all-instro for a change, serving up a pair of primal-gunk tunes so lunkheadedly perfect you’d swear the bandmembers were the unholy spawn of the Sonics, the Kingsmen and Link Wray. “Palm Reader” in particular is a sprawling melange of fuzz/tremolo and busted-cone bass, and that Keith Moon-worthy drumming isn’t necessarily gonna save anybody in the group from a life sentence breaking rocks. (—FM)

 

Freak Motif 45

Freak Motif

“Killin’ Me” b/w “Killin’ Me (instrumental)” (6)

(Kept) www.kept-records.com

The latest in Kept’s so-far-unblemished series of funk-centric wax finds eight-piece Canadian combo Freak Motif getting’ gritty with a slice of JB’s-inspired fonk, heavy on the trancelike groove while a blazing horn section takes everything to the bank. Or the bridge, if you insist. The instro version of “Killin’ Me” has swagger a-plenty, but when guest vocalist Lady C takes the mic on the A-side things get saucier and sexier by the bar. Hell yeah. (—FM)

***

Tim “45 Adapter” Hinely spins backwards when he reviews Australian records, but don’t let that throw you off balance. Check out his most excellent rock mag Dagger at www.daggerzine as well as his 8th installment of The Singles Scene (here at BLURT, or the 7th (here), the 6th (here) and the 5th (here).