The Singles Collection is contributor Jason Jackowiak’s weekly column focusing on rare and essential 7″ releases. We gladly accept all types of 7″ for consideration.
This week's Singles Collection is awash in the boozy afterglow of South by Southwest, a festival we survived for the 10th year running... but just barely. If you are a true music fan and have never been, you really owe it to yourself to get down to Austin at least once and experience the mayhem and hysteria for yourself, because a slew of blog/twitter posts really can't capture the sun-baked surreality that is SxSW. Soap-boxing aside, all of the bands featured this week were part of SxSW in one way or another (ie - lots of unofficial shows) and are well-deserving of your listening time and hard-earned stimulus cash.
First up this week we've got the debut offering from The Mayfair Set, "Already Warm" b/w "Desert Fun" on the Captured Tracks imprint. To be fair, they themselves didn't play SXSW, but one-half of the group, Mr. Blank Dogs himself, Mike Sniper, did, and since nobody knows if the goddamn Blank Dogs 7" on DITG will ever get released, we figured we'd give this a whirl. A collaboration with Dum Dum Girls, this two track taster for the duo's forthcoming 12" EP is both deliciously dour and infectiously joyous, mining fragile Comsat Angels territory as the songs waft towards the sun on gossamer wings and loads of FX. Not sure if it's being billed as such or not, but it's truly a double A-Side affair, with the lo-fi Cocteau Twins-like incantations of "Desert Fun" just edging out the slightly more rough-hewn shoegazer bliss of "Already Warm" for top honors. These were just recently released and are available on Sniper's own Captured Tracks, but probably won't stick around for too long, so best get to steppin' if this sounds like your cup of tea.
Following that up this week we've got The Box Elders' Hole In My Head 7" on Grotto Records out of Nebraska. A fantastic 4-song platter from one of the most impressive bands of this year's festival, this little slab o' wax crackles with a kind of rambunctious, infectious pop energy you just can't fake; either you've got it, or you don't. The A-Side alone is worth the price of admission, featuring two crackling tunes, the jangle-licious pop romp "Hole In My Head" and the staggering proto-punk stomp of "One Foot in Front of the Other". The hits continue on the flip, with the racing "2012" pushing all the right buttons before their surprisingly stellar cover of Redd Kross' "S&M Party", a damn-near perfect song in its original form, swoops in and delivers the knockout blow. Absolutely one of the most consistently thrilling EPs of recent memory. It looks like these are still available on the label's MySpace page, but if they're not, the band definitely has copies and are on tour now. Go see them, you most assuredly won't be disappointed.
Last, but certainly not least, this week we've got Kim Phuc's "Wormwood Star" b/w "Freak Out the Squares" on Chicago's mighty Criminal IQ Records. Definitely one of the Top 5 bands we saw at this year's SxSW, this PGH quintet thrilled in a sweat-and-glitter-splattered set that left band and audience bleary-eyed and thirsty for more. A-Side "Wormwood Star" is a snarling, riff-ready death ride down a mountain of blood, with Rob spouting off about Babylonian malfeasances and fornicating witches (we think), all before exploding into a furious, piano-laced proto-punk coda that'll make you weep like you just got socked in the jaw. The flipside, "Freak Out the Squares" is greasier and nastier still; a lyrical tribute to Dawn Davenport (look her up) set to a rhythm that sounds dredged from the bottom of lake Haze and a never-ending barrage of acid-laced riffs that send the whole thing careening into complete and utter meltdown. Somehow still available from Criminal IQ and a host of distros, so get out there and get you some.
As we continue to flush out all the toxins we've ingested in the past week, we do want to tell you that we've got a really special video edition of The Singles Collection coming your way, courtesy of one of our absolute favorite labels. You definitely won't want to miss it.