Showing posts with label single. Show all posts
Showing posts with label single. 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. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gospel Claws + Roar Split 7inch

Gospel Claws' track is called "I Want It All." Roar's track is called "Dream."  If you read my previous post about the split 7inch from Beached Out and The Reference Desk, you will understand why I would say Gospel Claws and Roar are lucky I like the artwork for both sides of their split release.  But it is not for me to pass along judgment or opinion, it is simply a truthful statement about my own personal attractiveness as to why I would (or possibly not) pick up their 7inch from a stack of hundreds of others.  Again, read the other post (my intro will make sense).

The theme is dogs.  The sub theme is duets (or pairs); perhaps a nod to the pairing of bands for this record.  Gospel Claws are more regal (like a beagle?) in their approach with the artwork on their side.  A dated photograph of two Dobermanns.  Roar's black and white hand drawn Siamese-Twin guard dog may have been taken from a 5th grader's Trapper Keeper or brown bag book cover; aside additional customized graffiti that included words like "Gotcha!" and "Awesome," and images of lightning bolts and that funky diamond-like "S" that was never really an icon for anything, but more of a mathematical puzzle of varying lengths.  I like it.

Regardless of whether I first encountered Gospel Claws' Pinchers, or the vicious two-headed Roar, I know I would have been drawn in enough to crack open the envelope and see the stunning baby blue opaque vinyl within.  With the respectfully simple white label (black text), complimented by the jukebox-ready center hole, the vinyl itself is truly the physical gem of this release.  I would have bought this record simply for the wax alone, even if it was only packaged with a white sleeve and no artwork.

Fans of indie pop bands like Black Kids, The Shins, and Built To Spill will enjoy this split release of reverberation from President Gator Records; second for their catalog.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beached Out / The Reference Desk - You're Getting Close Split 7inch

I am first trying to figure out why this split 7inch between bands Beached Out and The Reference Desk has a title.  Unusual, but intriguing. It's the first thing I noticed.  I may be wrong, but I believe I heard Beached Out use the words "you're getting close" in their track "Tiny War."  Perhaps it's a theme.  The Reference Desk's track "When You Drown" seems that it should (?) or could include the phrase.

Their traditionally punk 7inch v-fold jacket was the second thing to catch my attention.  The unmistakeable waxy film from a black and white photocopy machine is always so pleasing to the touch.  It's the sort of thing I will buy a record for.  It shares the level of commitment a band has toward getting their record out: at all costs.  And in most cases, possibly a direction to keep costs down; but in the end, a demonstration of pure character.  Beached Out and The Reference Desk used a standard pastel yellow photocopier paper, 11"x17" in size for print, and then cut-to-bleed to keep it cool; purposely designed with images that run well.  (I think I have an Ariel Pink 7inch of the same mind set.) Simple, classic sans-serif fonts; clean layout, with just the facts required.  They get a 10/10 for design.

I'm dying to find out if the vinyl itself was pressed with Rainbo Records in Canoga Park, California (bands: feel free to email directly to let me know).  I've always been a fan of their product, and this 7inch is in line with Rainbo's standards.  The opaque lemon chiffon yellow vinyl is naturally heavy in weight, and holds well.  Centered with a red / black contrasting label, the 7inch immediately becomes a through-back to the Chapel Hill NC college music scene, circa 1990.

The final note-worthy feature (perhaps a lesson for others, so take note): the respect Beached Out and The Reference Desk give to each other and their single release.  Perhaps this is their point of having a title.  While I do understand when two bands release a "split" release why they often think to give each other their own side of the packaging, making it appears as if there is a unique cover for each band, I don't think those bands understand that if I am digging for vinyl, there is now less of a chance that I am going to buy their record if I am only exposed to one of the two bands. 

With a normal record (not a split), there is a pure 50/50 chance that you (the customer) might be interested in picking it up when stumbling across the record for the first time.  If you don't know the band or the release, fate is now left in the hands of the design - the art work, and whether or not it compels you to pull the record out of the stack.

When you have a split release, you are either doubling yours odds to attract a new listener, or you are actually cutting them in half.  If you promote both bands on the cover and make it look like a shared release, like Beached Out and The Reference Desk did, the customer may be interested in either band, and in a sense... doubling the chances of the customer picking up the record.  However, if only Beached Out were on the cover, and I happen to not know the band or like the design they gave their side, I am not going to pick it up. And if I would have actually known or was interested in The Reference Desk, whom would have been on the other side that I never saw as I was flipping through hundreds of vinyl, then both bands would have missed out on me buying their record; cutting the odds in half and making it harder to sell their split release.

That all being said, I am happy to see Beached Out and The Reference Desk did not make this mistake.  In fact, I know for sure that their 7inch would have been an immediate grab amongst many others if I just so happened to stumble upon it on Digging Day.  And, (I am happy to report) after a first listen at home, I would not have been disappointed.

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!))