The Singles Collection - Eric & The Happy Thoughts, A.H. Kraken

The Singles Collection is contributor Jason Jackowiak’s weekly column focusing on rare and essential 7″ releases.

Hello once again gals and germs, believe it or not, it's time once again for another (slightly abbreviated) round of the singles collection. Some travelin' and snowy conditions have limited our time this week, but rest assured that the two 45s reviewed this week are absolute humdingers. Anyway, on with the picks...

Kicking things off this week we have the first single from Indiana's Eric & The Happy Thoughts on Bubbledumb Records. Some of you might know Bubbledumb as the label that originally released Nobunny's Love Visions, or at least attempted it -- the full story involves spotty distro and warped vinyl. Well, they've got things down now, and "Never Gonna Do It", "Ride Ride Ride" b/w "Indiana Girls" is a lovely slab of jangly, '60s pop a la The 1910 Fruitgum Co. and The Box Tops. There's even a certain Chilton-esqe lilt to B-Side "Indiana Girls", albeit one that's firmly rooted in sweet-as-sugar Midwestern soil. If this were 1969 rather than 2009 there's no doubt you'd hear the band performing "Never Gonna Do It" on American Bandstand, wearing matching suits with skinny ties having perfected their synchronized bob and weave moves. Second A-Side "Ride Ride Ride" is equally as memorable; its quick, insistent chord-progressions and ooey gooey chorus -- "ride, ride, ride around" -- make it the perfect summertime anthem, born solely to blast out of backyard boomboxes and convertibles on the cruise. The label itself is sold out, but if you act quick, you might be able to grab one of these from one of the distros listed on their MySpace page.

At the opposite end of the spectrum we've got French nutbags A.H. Kraken following up their In The Red debut LP with a two-song skuzz blast -- "Gianna Michaels" b/w "Je Suis Ton Marecage" on the mighty Sweet Rot Records. Now, as far as we can tell, a musical tribute to a porn star is pretty far to the left of squeaky-clean jangle pop, but no matter, because "Gianna Michaels" is a squirrely barn-burner built upon a foundation of flailing, floundering guitars and a rhythm that sounds like nothing so much as a caveman smashing garbage can lids together in a vaguely repetitive pattern. It's as ace a piece of scum-punk as you are likely to find, as is B-Side "Je Suis Ton Marecage" (roughly translates to "I Am Your Marsh"), a walloping chug-a-lug that's vaguely reminiscent of everyone from Johnny Thunders to Whitehouse at one point or another as it careens down a path of unholy carnage and lewd gestures. This is another platter that's sold out from the label proper, but with a bit of digging, you should be able to unearth.

That's all we've got for you this time, a bit shorter than usual we know, but not to fret, we'll be back to our regular hijinks next week.

The Singles Collection - Eric & The Happy Thoughts, A.H. Kraken