Showing posts with label 7inch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 7inch. Show all posts

Monday, December 15, 2014

Skylar Gudasz - Car Song 7inch

Skylar Gudasz's 7inch single for her original track "Car Song," backed with a dynamic performance of Big Star's "Dream Lover" is definitely our favorite 7inch of 2014.  I'll never forget being in School Kids Records in Raleigh NC with my friend Eric Swedlund, oo'ing and ah'ing over the simplistic beauty of the cover artwork.  He grabbed a copy of the record just because of its excellent documentation of great North Carolina musicianship; as a reminder of his visit to our wonderfully talented state.

Rich, deep red ink - one color - laid upon a stark white cardboard jacket; proper with spine and all.  Impressive for a 7inch, especially in that it includes an insert for liner notes.  This release was quite possibly an expensive project for Daniel 13 Records to manufacture, but well worth the scratch, considering the heavy hitters Gudasz invites to join her on these tracks: Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey, and Josh Moore, just to name a few.

William Schaff's iconic monotone illustration of two cockatiel parakeets calls to you immediately.  If you buy this 7inch in a record store, be sure to wash your hands when you get home; I promise you everyone that walked by Gudasz's record picked it up to admire Schaff's work a bit closer - it is stunning.  The delicate, yet deliberately unadulterated cover art truly compliments Gudasz's own musical delivery to perfection.

And as much as I am a sucker for colored vinyl and I did anticipate pulling out a beautiful opaque red vinyl for this release, I was so happy to see that Skylar Gudasz and Daniel 13 Records held their restraint and pressed these tracks on black wax; staying true to the refined packaging.  With credits printed on the side-a label, and our parakeets reappearing on side-b, the design overall simply could not be more sublime.

Skylar Gudasz's "Car Song" 7inch is a must have for any vinyl collector. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Electroscopes - Made a Mistake 7inch

I love this little record, I love everything about it.  I love the way it came to me.  I love the cover.  I love that it is on black wax.  I love the music that comes out of the speakers.  I love the bands being promoted on the promotional flyers that were included.  I love the handwriting used to label side-a. I love the 4-millimeter (not the less expensive 2-millimeter) polyethylene bag used to hold everything together.  (Wait, haven't I done that already, where I start the review with "I love..., I love... I love...?")

Okay, not that we got that over with, let's begin.

The Electroscopes "Made a Mistake" 7inch was released by German label, Firestation Records, limited to 200 copies.  It is the sole project of Paul Mansell, from Northampton, Britian; a fine young gentleman I may add.  When Paul himself heard our original copy of his record was lost somewhere in that great big pond that divides our countries, he without hesitation sent a second copy (again, limited to only 200 pressings) to ensure we were still able to get our groove on.  I have got to say, sending out promo copies of a limited release vinyl records is one thing.  Sending promos internationally is another.  But sending a replacement copy... hats off to you Paul, and superthanks for making sure this one landed safely.

I remember pulling this 7inch out for a first spin late one night.  I believe I had just returned from being out at the clubs (or you could say, "in da' clurb" if you like), and me and Mrs. Blogger were feeling pretty chill as is.  "Made a Mistake" was no mistake at all, rather cool and nostalgic; reminiscent of early Trembling Blue Stars.  I immediately dimmed the lighting to a faint glow, savored a nip of American Kentucky bourbon, and repositioned the black Ray-Ban Wayfarers I once wore only to shade the sun.  

"First Into Space, Last Down to Breakfast" on the flipside kept the party going.  It is the soundtrack for a contempo Asian bar, where conversations are comfortable, the beat keeps you feeling right, and everyone looks good.  If this song were released earlier than 2003, Sofia Coppola would have included it in Lost In Translation.  Another example of the b-side track potentially outshining it's (what's meant to be) better half.

I think Firestation Records could have gone with DJ-style white (no label) center labels for this one, perhaps lending further to the downbeat discotheque elements of the release.  However, the fact that someone literally hand wrote information on side-a only gave a cordial hit of twee / C86.  The black and white photocopied j-fold sleeve is simple, and gives all you need; done right.  The heavier polyethylene bag makes the record proud; I always appreciate it when that detailed is given attention.

The cover art is a photograph of a skyscraper; perhaps one with businesses below and a handful of condominiums on the upper floors.  There is a texture to the photograph that dates back to the 1970's, but the many television satellite dishes (or are they electroscopes) affixed to the porches greets the modern age.  Iconic, nonetheless, and well positioned, it's an appropriate image for a single.  

As for the promotional material included, I think someone knew how big of a Sarah Records fan I am.  It did not take too long for my eyes to detect the mentions of The Orchids and St. Christopher.  Thanks for the additional swag!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fumaça Preta - Vou-me Libertar

Ready to make it's home in a ol' Wurly jukebox beside some classic funk, Fumaça Preta deliver a stellar no-need-for-artwork 7inch single with "Vou-me Libertar" on lado-a and "Eu Era Um Cão" on lado-b. This is a dead-on example of my favorite kind of single: (again) no artwork (needed), standard record company center labels, large cut hole for a jukebox, black wax, and bad ass music that makes you get up off your tush to keep flipping lado-a to lado-b, back to lado-a, and so on.

I remember being quite intrigued by receiving an envelope from Portugal; I just started this blog, so news must have traveled far, and fast. There was no literature for the release included to learn about what was pressed, and other than obviously being able read the record label's name, Music With Soul, the fact that it was easy to translate "lado" to "side," "Fumaça Preta" being printed on both sides in a way suggesting it may be the bands name, and "Alex Figueira" being credited as the (I am guessing) producer, (breathe, we're almost there) ...I really knew nothing about this record (seriously, that's it - what I just wrote). But I loved it; I couldn't help but play it over and over again (hell, I might have even danced ...I cannot confirm or deny). I didn't care what language the credits were written in or what language the enthusiastic vocalist was singing in, Fumaça Preta was (is) delivering the goods, and those goods were doing me just that.

Their report is absolute vintage. Fumaça Preta is not that horrid funk group made up of some old dudes from that lame 70's high school band that won 3rd place in the town battle of the bands only because the bass player was dating the captain of the cheerleading squad and now owns the used car lot where your uncle Harry picked up his sweet El Camino with original rims he drove you in to go see his old friends from high school get their 'funkadelic review' back together because they were really going through a mid-life-crisis; no, Fumaça Preta is the real McCoy. I honestly did not want to know anything more about these guys, I just wanted to keep playing their record more and more. It wasn't until I began writing this review and needed to check a couple of facts that I ran across Music With Soul's own website and was able to learn a little more about Fumaça Preta and this 7inch. Pretty interesting stuff; in fact, I'm not going to re-write / re-post anything that was already said, but I do encourage you to go to their site and read more for yourself.

These songs are packed with spicy hot Hammond organs dancing around the night club in a way that makes you proud to say this is your hood, wah-wah pedals pumping blood to the pulse of the ever-infectious-non-stop beat the DJ keeps drumming, lead guitars as sharp and sexy as the CFM heels your lady stepped out of the limo with and intends to wear all night long (all, night, long), fuzzy-ass bass lines that you can curl up with as the night grows on and everything begins to feel aaaalllrright, and explosive keyboards that light up the sky while we all celebrate yet another year. As the host of the party welcomes you with open arms, he introduces you to all his friends and immediately makes you feel comfortable (even in another language that is still unclear to me); there are no wallflowers on this record / this is the kind of record that makes a white boy (me) dance. This is also the kind of record that makes me say "To hell with grammatical rules!" and write a lot of (more than normal) run-on sentences to express my excitement. "Here-here!" to freedom of speech (and grammar)! "Chin-Chin!" to Fumaça Preta and Music With Soul!

Concrete Blonde - Rosalee + I See the Ghost 7inch

The last I had heard of or thought about Concrete Blonde, I was sixteen-years-old, had just joined the employed population, and my newly befriended co-worker was proudly boasting about his own personally-titled theme song that was all the rave on MTV and the radio airwaves. Out of (great) respect for Concrete Blonde and the (possible) reality that every piece written about them since 1990 has desperately mentioned the one widely known fact about their existence, I'll refrain from disclosing my friend's identity, and instead focus on what impressed me with this little piece of white wax that randomly showed up in the mail from Conqueroo.

The black paper record sleeve, which for the sake of (what I am assuming is) the promotional copy that was sent to my attention, framed in the center labels for this 7inch, making them take the lead on this project and stand at attention as the proper cover art. Basic information is provide on one side of the record, accompanied by a pixelated starry illustration presented in monotone, seen on both sides. The UK center hole cut into the 45 is only symbolic of the many reasons why one may not recognize that this alternative band's punk heritage is in fact LA-based.

"Rosalee" is the soundtrack to remembrance. As the night grows bitter and you move in closer to the fire, "Rosalee" is the blanket that warms you. Johnette Napolitano's raw, yet compassionate, delivery is fitting for this story. With only a lightly-crunched electric guitar and drums embraced by mallets, this side to the 7inch serves as a great re-introduction (at least for me) to Concrete Blonde.

Neither side is labeled as "Side-A," which (by industry standards, and the fact that the accompanying paperwork said so) makes this a "double-sided" 7inch, meaning that both songs are being promoted as 'the hits,' and rightfully so. "I See the Ghost" could not be more opposite from "Rosalee," which proves to be great for the Gemini-like format. Similar to its subdued partner, "I See the Ghost" is very simplistic in design, yet not only puts the pedal to the metal, it burns rubber as it immediately turns a 180 and yells "Screw you, pigs!" to the policemen coming out of the local bakery downtown on Main Street. The speed of this track is so damn fast, I honestly shifted my turntable down to 33rpm until the vocals kicked in and I suddenly knew Concrete Blonde had greased up the ol' V8 and was taking this baby on a ride truly meant for 45-sweet-rpm. Only an established band with a deserving confidence could pull off such a brilliantly anxious punk treasure that (I could swear) is made up of two (not three, but two) root notes... for the entire song... including the chorus. ((Brilliant!))

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Friends of Cesar Romero - Red Headed Strangler 7inch

7inch records serve a purpose as a quick way for record labels and bands to get two songs out to their audience. In Jamaica, bands use this snappy (pun intended) method to get their music to DJs at the dancehalls and radio, while the wax is later recycled once the song has finished receiving airplay (so much for collecting). For these promptly produced petite platters, record labels often skip the step of custom artwork for the band and use standard issued sleeves that show off their company pride. Bands without this representation might choose to simply utilize a white paper sleeve, commonly used as the inner sleeve with a standard jacket.

I simply love it when record labels like Friends of Cesar Romero's label, Snappy Little Numbers, or Trouble In Mind, or the almighty Sub Pop Records use these company sleeves for their 7inch singles. It's almost as if they are saying, "Trust us, these songs are so freaking amazing, screw the artwork; all you need is the music!" What ends up happening is the label itself develops a style (a look), which becomes part of the visual charm for all of the bands they represent.

In the case of Snappy Little Numbers, there is an innocent throw back to their design that is reminiscent of Jukebox Diners, Greasers and Socs, and dance styles such as the stroll, the bunny hop, the boogie-woogie and the hully-gully. Somehow, this put me in the mood for some good ol' fashioned garage rock, which I was happy to hear when the needle hit the marbled grey wax. Friends of Cesar Romero could easily join the rosters of craggy combo craving cartels like Trouble In Mind, HoZac, or Burger Records. Snappy Little Numbers looks to be feeding the same frenzy of gritty adolescent pop, and Friends of Cesar Romero are welcomed to the party.

Both tracks, "Red Headed Strangler" and "Tammys of Tomorrow," are crammed with zing and zest; I can't tell the a-side from the b-side. The hooks keep you flipping the vinyl back and forth. Both tracks are exciting; they are electric. Records like this are what give b-side tracks their a-side reputation, and bands like Friends of Cesar Romero are what keep the party going all night long. Clearly focused without any compromise, Friends of Cesar Romero and Snappy Little Numbers deliver a solid, classic 7inch single worth seeking out.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Ghosts of Sailors at Sea - Sheldon Taylor 7inch

I love how, to this day, artists and musicians from or touched by New England continue to tie in a nautical theme to their work. Ghosts of Sailors at Sea, starting with their name and moving all the way through the packaging of their "Sheldon Taylor" 7inch, do just that. The record insert includes a quote from Sheldon Taylor himself, leaving you to wonder that if Taylor was an American explorer over a century ago, then Boston's Ghosts of Sailors at Sea would be the soundtrack to his adventures being told on the silver screen in the modern age.

Personally, I love everything "maps," so they had me at pulling the purple vinyl out of the v-fold jacket and seeing the well drafted center labels of the record itself. With the exception of the font type used (I am never a fan of computerized fonts that are made to look like handwriting; robots will never replace humans), the design of this record takes me back to fellow New Englanders like Victory At Sea or The One AM Radio (but in color for the latter).

Musically: I would have to ask Andrew and Patrick from Ghosts of Sailors at Sea if either of them were kin of Sean McCarthy, singer / guitarist of Helms. Their musical structure, derived from Bostonians like Helms (post-rock / math-rock), explores the various tributaries and creeks of the Charles River their founders left pure. There is still an innocence, but Andrew and Patrick have been studying their maps and charting the course for their music to forge ahead.

"Geoffrey Pope," was my favorite of the two instrumental tracks. It's more mature and forthright, and its on side-b; inevitably going to be preferred. The more challenging guitar work on "Sheldon Taylor" (side-a) reminded me of Ed Crawford (fIREHOSE); a bit more complicated and perplexed from its cohort. I could easily see this single sitting within the catalog of Kimchee Records (Victory At Sea, Helms, 27, Tiger Saw, Chris Brokaw).

Colored vinyl is always a win for me, otherwise the packaging gets a B+ for its well placed maritime imagery. However, my favorite element was the 'Christmas Crab' found on the outside of the mailer for this co-released Gatehouse Anchor / Faded Maps Records 7inch. I may just have to employ the Christmas Crab to continue spreading Holiday Cheer (and mailing information) throughout the New Year.