This Week’s Best Single: Trash Talk’s Awake

Trash Talk: AwakeTrash Talk: Awake (True Panther, 10/11/11)

Trash Talk: “Awake”

Most bands are content to squeeze a couple of songs onto a seven-inch slab of vinyl. With its new release, Awake, Sacramento-based hardcore band Trash Talk manages to pack five tracks into that same space. Its raw, aggressive sound lends itself to shorter songs; the four-piece gets in your face and then hightails it like a seasoned stick-up gang.

In our feature story on Trash Talk (ALARM 34), the band had just cut a new record with Steve Albini, established its own label and added a new drummer, Rashod Jackson. Now, two years later, the drummer is different (Sam Bosson), but the thrash-heavy vision remains the same.

Initially, the Awake seven-inch was available in three varieties: 100 black-and-white flip-flop, 400 white, and 916 solid black. With the flip-flop version sold out, we recommend either white or black; both are guaranteed to rip.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Colin Stetson’s Those Who Didn’t Run

Colin Stetson: Those Who Didn't RunColin Stetson: Those Who Didn’t Run (Constellation, 10/4/11)

Colin Stetson: “Those Who Didn’t Run” (excerpt)

Saxophonist Colin Stetson‘s distinctive reed work can be found in the music of Tom Waits, TV on the Radio, and Arcade Fire, among many others. His latest full-length solo album, New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, was released in February of this year, and now he’s back with a 10-inch EP, Those Who Didn’t Run. Armed with bass and alto saxes and some advanced breathing techniques, Stetson creates heavy, droning horn sounds that are as post-rock as they are avant-garde jazz.

The two tracks on Those Who Didn’t Run were recorded in a single take and run just over 10 minutes apiece. Whereas the title track (excerpted above) is drawn in pulsating minimalist strokes, “The End of Your Suffering” rides an off-kilter, high-pitched riff throughout, with occasional aberrant flourishes. With such breadth of texture and pitch, it’s hard to believe that you’re hearing horns.

Following this release, Stetson will embark on a year-long tour as part of Bon Iver‘s live band.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Nick Waterhouse’s Is That Clear

Nick Waterhouse: Is That ClearNick Waterhouse: Is That Clear (Innovative Leisure / Stones Throw, 9/27/11)

Nick Waterhouse: “Is That Clear”

[audio:|titles=Nick Waterhouse: “Is That Clear”]

Despite what your ears and eyes are telling you, the seven-inch single Is That Clear, from San Francisco-based rock-‘n’-roll artist Nick Waterhouse, is brand new. Fully committed to the horn-rimmed and fuzzed-out retro aesthetic, Waterhouse is a mere 25 years old, and somehow not the long-lost progeny of Buddy Holly.

Though it’s tempting to lump him into the recent crop of soul revival led by artists like Mayer Hawthorne and Jamie Lidell, Waterhouse isn’t interested in coating a vintage sound with the modern sheen of synths and vocoders. Recorded in analog and sporting hand-letter-pressed labels, his self-produced debut, Some Place, was released on his own label (Pres) with a backing band known as The Turn-Keys.

Now, as he readies a full-length for Innovative Leisure, Waterhouse drops Is This Clear, a horn-heavy two-track throwback that clocks in at just five minutes. Throw it on the record player and dust off that rusty Mashed Potato of yours.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: MonstrO’s Anchors Up!

MonstrO: Anchors Up!MonstrO: Anchors Up! (Limited|Fanfare, 9/20/11)

MonstrO is a newly formed hard-rock quartet featuring a melange of experienced heavyweights: drummer Bevan Davies, bassist Kyle Sanders, guitarist Juan Montoya, and guitarist/vocalist Charlie Suarez. If none of those names rings a bell, perhaps some of their former bands will: Bloodsimple, Skrew, Danzig, and Torche. On September 6, MonstrO released its debut album, a self-titled record produced by Alice in Chains guitarist William DuVall. Hot on its heels comes this new seven-inch, Anchors Up!.

Currently on tour with Kyuss and The Sword, MonstrO makes a groove-heavy racket that touches on grunge, post-rock, metal, and straight-up classic rock. Suarez’s voice is closer to Ted Leo than Ozzy Osbourne, lending clean, vaguely theatrical overtones to the hard-driving low end of bass and chunky riffs.

Released today to the tune of just 575 total copies, Anchors Up! is available in three different colorways: 75 copies on black vinyl, 250 copies on blue marble, and 250 copies on pink marble. You can buy individually, or you can buy a three-record bundle for just 18 bucks. Buy here.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: BK-One’s Tema Do Canibal EP

BK-One: Tema Do CanibalBK-One: Tema Do Canibal EP (Rhymesayers, 8/29/11)

BK-One: “Tema Do Canibal” (Video Edit)

[audio:|titles=BK-One: “Tema Do Canibal” (Video Edit)]

As Brother Ali‘s longtime partner in crime on the turntables, Minneapolis-based DJ/producer BK-One knows how to make the bass hit and the drums kick. He also knows a thing or two about world and jazz music, as evidenced by his debut LP in 2009, Radio Do Canibal. BK composed that record entirely from vinyl purchased on a trip to Brazil. And for his new remix EP, Tema Do Canibal, he uses the standout track, “Tema Do Canibal,” as the centerpiece.

Like previous work, the EP draws upon hip hop, funk, Afrobeat, and more. This time, BK enlists the collaborative help of Exile, Doom, DJ Nuts, Mike 2600, Tom Noble, and Brazilian musicians Helcio Milito and Arthur Verocai. If there were ever a riff worthy of reprisal, it’s the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble‘s robust, nimble horns. In the video above, BK and the crew demonstrate how a concert video should look: slick edits, gleaming instruments, and an irrepressible party vibe.

Tema Do Canibal is out now, available only on iTunes and limited-edition transparent, green vinyl.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Battles’ My Machines

Battles: My MachinesBattles: My Machines (Warp, 8/16/11)

Battles: “My Machines” (feat. Gary Numan)

[audio:|titles=Battles: “My Machines” (feat. Gary Numan)]

This week, experimental electronic trio Battles releases yet another single from its latest full-length, Gloss Drop. After previously releasing Ice Cream, a three-song single featuring Mathias Aguayo, the band follows a similar template with the Gary Numan-ized My Machines. In addition to the title track and its instrumental version, there’s a brand-new track entitled “A.M. Gestalt” that bursts with the band’s signature chugging percussion. It reaches a creepy carnival-esque crescendo and then begins rapidly deteriorating, shedding its nuts and bolts like an old, wooden roller coaster.

The pile of rubble on the single’s cover took on a new meaning after the recent riots in London; Warp’s UK stock was almost entirely destroyed by the PIAS / Sony DADC warehouse fire. As a result, the supply of Battles’ limited-edition, silver-colored vinyl took a hit. The label had planned to release five random copies, each with a handwritten lyric sheet signed by Gary Numan. It’s no longer known how many are in circulation, so if you happen to find one in your copy, you’re encouraged to E-mail

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Jono McCleery’s Wonderful Life / Garden

Jono McCleery: Wonderful Life / GardenJono McCleery: Wonderful Life / Garden (Counter, 6/27/11)

Jono McCleery: “Garden”

[audio:|titles=Jono McCleery: “Garden”]

Wonderful Life / Garden, the new single from London-based electro-folk artist Jono McCleery, leads off with a cover of “Wonderful Life” from ’80s British pop band Black. Singing over the minor-key melody, McCleery’s voice is not so dissimilar from vocalist Colin Vearncombe‘s even-keeled, cooly detached crooning. Fybe, the track’s producer, buried the upbeat synth stabs deeper into the mix, bringing a darker dubstep beat to the fore, thereby downplaying the lyrical/instrumental dissonance present in the original. It’s full of hazy soul, reminiscent of Nina Simone‘s indelible vocals, or more recently, James Blake‘s understated delivery.

As its title indicates, the single also contains an original, a new track entitled “Garden.” McCleery goes full-on Radiohead, mixing plucked acoustic guitar with sweeping ambience and skittering drums. The comparisons flow easily — not because McCleery’s sound is an imitation, but because it’s vaguely timeless, culling and presenting various musical touchstones with a distinctly futuristic polish.

Two more tracks — a remix of “Garden” by Seiji and a remix of “Raise Me” by Fybe — round out the release. McCleery’s upcoming full-length, There Is, is due in September.


j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s There Is No God 10″

Bonnie "Prince" Billy: There Is No God 10" EPBonnie “Prince” Billy: There is No God 10″ EP (Drag City, 6/21/11)

Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “There is No God”

[audio:|titles=Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “There Is No God”]

This much is obvious: folk singer/songwriter Will Oldham (you might know him as Bonnie “Prince” Billy or any of his former Palace offshoots) is consistent. He’s released one or two albums per year for close to 20 years, collaborating with a staggering number of musicians, including Johnny Cash, Mark Lanegan, Nico Muhly, and Rob Mazurek.

Now, with the release of the new two-track 10-inch, There is No God, he can add philanthropy to his growing list of accomplishments. Proceeds from record sales will benefit two aquatic charities: Save Our Gulf and The Turtle Hospital. Oldham took a trip down a murky bayou for the “There is No God” video (watch here) — a quintessentially American landscape for his classically Americana tune. The release is rounded out by a track called “God is Love” and a free ringtone download of the title track.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Niki & The Dove’s The Fox

Niki & the Dove: The FoxNiki & The Dove: The Fox (Sub Pop, 6/14/11)

Niki & The Dove: “The Fox”

[audio:|titles=Niki & the Dove: “The Fox”]

Since forming in early 2010, Swedish electro-pop band Niki & The Dove — vocalist/songwriter Malin Dahlstöm and multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Karlöf — has moved swiftly, scoring a record deal with American indie label Sub Pop. Its first release on the imprint, a 12-inch single entitled The Fox, builds on the momentum of the band’s first two singles, DJ, Ease My Mind and Mother Protect.

The chugging, twinkling title track is accompanied by two other tunes: a dance-floor-ready Mylo remix of “Gentle Roar” and the ’80s throwback “Somebody (Drum Machine Version).” So if you like densely layered synth, bright pop melodies, and a vague undercurrent of disquietude befitting a land of dragon tattoos, vampire movies, and limited sunlight, you’ll dig The Fox.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Antibalas’ Rat Race / Se Chifló 12″

Antibalas: Rat Race / Se Chifló 12"Antibalas: Rat Race / Se Chifló 12″ (Exactamundo, 6/7/11)

Antibalas: “Rat Race”

Brooklyn-based Afro-funk collective Antibalas is back with its first new material since Security in 2007. The band took a recording hiatus over the last few years to work on other projects such as the off-Broadway musical Fela! and TV on the Radio‘s 2008 album, Dear Science.

Its new 12-inch record, out today, features two fresh tracks, one of which is a rearranged cover of the Bob Marley classic, “Rat Race.” The other featured track is the swinging “Se Chifló,” an Afrocuban-Afrobeat mash-up with Spanish vocals by guitarist Marcos García. Flip the record over, and you’ll find dub mixes of each song, plus bonus breakbeats.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: Battles’ Ice Cream

Battles: Ice CreamBattles: Ice Cream (Warp, 5/24/11)

Battles: “Ice Cream”

[audio:|titles=Battles: “Ice Cream”]

With its new album, Gloss Drop, due out on June 7 via Warp, electronic math-rock trio Battles drops this teaser single today. Leading off with the single “Ice Cream,” which features guest vocals from Matias Aguayo, the limited-edition 12-inch also contains a new song, “Black Sundome,” and an instrumental version of “Ice Cream.”

On the title track, Aguayo rides a nimble synth riff that picks up steam in hurry and never lets up. And in typical Battles fashion, there’s consistently ferocious percussion throughout and guitar-based mayhem coming in near the end.

Limited to just 1,000 copies per flavor — strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate — you’ll have to act quickly if you want to get your hands on this delicious vinyl.

j j j

This Week’s Best Single: My Morning Jacket’s Holdin on to Black Metal

My Morning Jacket: Holdin on to Black MetalMy Morning Jacket: Holdin on to Black Metal (ATO, 5/17/11)

My Morning Jacket: “Holdin on to Black Metal”

[audio:|titles=My Morning Jacket: “Holdin on to Black Metal”]

Over the course of five albums, My Morning Jacket has emerged as indie-rock darlings thanks to its infectious blend and assimilation of psychedelic and country elements.  In advance of the band’s next effort, Circuital — which is out May 31 on ATO Records in the States — here is the album’s first single, “Holdin on to Black Metal.”  The four-minute jam is packed with echoing “whoa-oh” vocals, horn jabs, strutting bass grooves, and retro fuzz guitars.

j j j