Now that 2006 is here and January is almost over, it seems like no better time than any to jump into the winter edition of Treble’s Singles Spectacular. Though the year has only begun, the last quarter of 2005 yielded some last minute EPs and singles worthy of note. And a handful of brand new short players have emerged in recent weeks. Some remarkable debut EPs, tour-only releases and album previews crossed our desks lately and we couldn’t help but give them their due space on our pages. With this strong of a showing after so little time passing in the new year, one can only assume that there’s a horde of great albums to come in 2006.
Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor (Domino)
So we’ve seen the garage rock thing come and go, and it appears we’ve seen the second wave of new wave do the same thing. With the way that the tide is turning, it would seem that some new NME approved musical trend should be taking over any day now. However, the band that that seems to be gaining the most ground in the “next big thing” category is The Arctic Monkeys, a band toes the line between garage rock and new wave. Judging by this description, it would appear that they really aren’t doing something “new” so to speak, just taking existing genres and making them a little bit better.
On the ten minutes of their new single, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” they start out big, charging through a fists-in-the-air anthem, more apt for pub play than on a dancefloor. Then comes along “Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts,” a peppy, but slightly slower tune, sounding something like The Libertines with a little more Costello influence. But the real surprise on here is instrumental b-side “Chun Li’s Spinning Bird Kick” (dig the Street Fighter 2 reference). Though it, in no way, eclipses the A-side, it is a funky and fun little number, and closes out the EP splendidly. I went into this listen thinking that the band was all hype, but hell, I guess there’s something pretty nifty about these blokes after all.
Similar Releases: Rakes – Retreat, Libertines – Up the Bracket, We Are Scientists – With Love and Squalor – Jeff Terich
Film School – On & On (Beggars Banquet)
Remember how excited we all were when we started to hear singles from the still at that time obscure band Bloc Party? We marveled at the wedding of angular post-punk and eighties keyboard remix mastery. We realized that we were witnessing the emergence of what would no doubt be a musical force to be reckoned with in 2005, and we were right. So, who could take that mantle in 2006? If you ask me, my money’s on San Francisco’s Film School. Their single “On & On” is a preview of their upcoming self-titled album from Beggars Banquet.
The three songs that appear on the single release vary from 80’s new romantic meets post-punk to atmospheric soundscape. “Plus One” and “February,” respectively, are like rodeo bulls penned up, waiting for the gate to be released before they buck and careen out of control, yet the gate is never opened. There is a restraint in the songs that keep massive amounts of potential energy from escaping, much like Blonde Redhead if fronted by a sedated Trent Reznor. But the real highlight is the main single track “On & On.” Resembling various eighties and nineties heavyweights, mixing vocal styles of the Cure, Peter Murphy, and Echo & the Bunnymen with the buzzing guitars of Jesus & Mary Chain, the Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine, Film School bring the past into the wave of the future.
After a tour of the UK with the National, Film School is ready to take on their home country. A lot of bands seem to be doing the opposite of the British Invasion, gaining support on the Isles before heading back home to a massive hype machine. Is it because anything we hear from England seems cool? I don’t know, but it worked for the Killers and the Strokes. Either way, the buzz is starting, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Film School has graduated to repeated airplay and indie cult status.
Similar Albums: The Church- Starfish, Stone Roses- Stone Roses, Jesus & Mary Chain- Automatic – Terrance Terich
Of Montreal – Deflated Chime, Foals Slightly Flower Sibylline Responses (Polyvinyl)
One of the things I missed out on a lot before I turned 21 were tour-only releases—the rare, hard-to-find singles that band’s would sell at their merch booths but were nowhere to be found in retail outlets. And now that I’m well past that pivotal age, well, I still don’t really have much in the way of tour EPs. They seem to be less common today, save for every third Stereolab release, which will inevitably become part of their Switched On series. Thankfully, Of Montreal are keeping the tradition alive with this new EP. Beginning with “Wraith Pinned to the Mist” from The Sunlandic Twins, Deflated Chime also includes previous single “Disconnect the Dots” and two new, unreleased tracks, “Psychotic Feeling” and “Noir Blues to Tinnatus.” The former is anthemic, Bowie-esque rock `n’ roll, which finds Kevin Barnes’ voice soaring in harmony with itself over wobbly synthesizers and bouncy organ. “Noir Blues” is a little slower and dreamier, more noir, but not so much blues. Sounding less like Bowie and more like Air, this song is an exciting diversion, making it the true gem on this EP. For those who aren’t able to make it to Of Montreal’s live show, this disc will be available via Polyvinyl mailorder for five bones while copies are still available.
Similar Recordings: The Flaming Lips – Fight Test EP, Lilys – Selected, Summer Hymns – Value Series, Vol. 1: Fools Gold – Jeff Terich
Sabrosa Purr – Music from the Violet Room (Dangerbird)
Remember when music from Los Angeles was, like, the hottest thing around? Lines were blurred between punk, glam, metal and indie rock resulting in bands like Jane’s Addiction and Guns n’ Roses. Rock music flourished in the city of angels…that is until some kid from Aberdeen, WA went and stole all of the attention. The cycle of L.A. music goes on, rising and falling, ebbing and flowing as time progresses. With Sabrosa Purr, it looks like L.A. has hit an updraft, those crazy El Niño winds bringing the rock in with it.
Will Love, Jeff Mendel and Jacob Thompson make up Sabrosa Purr, who have been scorching L.A. clubs with their hybrid mix of rock styles that recall that late ’80s heyday of the changing tide of rock and roll. Sounding like a mix between Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson at times, Sabrosa Purr have released their first EP, Music from the Violet Room. As opposed to the Spanish language opening of Ritual de lo Habitual, MFTVR begins with a French speaking woman in “Nous sommes….” First single, “The Lovely People” recalls Manson not only in song title but in sound as well. Love’s screaming vocals are a hearkening back to that past that we didn’t realize we missed so much. The Purr let their glam flag fly freely throughout their debut EP and it is a welcome herald of things to come for them and for us.
Sabrosa Purr has a softer side as well, seen in songs “All the Leaves…” and “Liars, Petty Thieves and Pets.” Each song has meditatively plucked guitars like the best slower numbers from the Smashing Pumpkins and Modest Mouse. But what they do best is rock and rock hard and loud as in the perfectly glammy “God Damn You.” This EP could have easily been cut in half using just the rockers and been a powerful kick in the teeth of modern rock radio. So, all of you who didn’t throw out your black clothes and eyeliner, go ahead and unpack it, you’re comin’ home!
Similar Albums: Smashing Pumpkins- Gish, Plexi- Cheer Up, Marilyn Manson- Antichrist Superstar — Terrance Terich
Catfish Haven – Please Come Back (Secretly Canadian)
I’m not sure I’ve ever really understood Southern rock. I’m not from the South, for one. I’ve found the endless pummeling by Lynyrd Skynyrd songs to be more than a little annoying. And Kings of Leon just fucking suck. But, you know, there’s always one artist in every genre that can rise above the stereotypes and clichés, and don’t even think that I’m suggesting My Morning Jacket, because that’s like calling Wilco “alt-country” or Radiohead “Britpop.” But Catfish Haven, see, they’re Southern rock, and they’re really damn good.
Their press release may suggest that they sound like Zwan (insert blank stare here), but they’re more like a collaboration between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Al Green. See, now doesn’t it sound awesome already? Frontman George Hunter wails like an American Joe Cocker on “You Can Have Me,” as his bandmates back him up with Motown-worthy backing vocals. “Crying Shame” is a slow and slinky torch song, albeit with ragged, rugged vocals and spare instrumentation. “Madelin” is a more quickly paced, yet simple and bouncy pop song, and the fantastic climax of “Still Hungover” has its share of awesome guitar riffs and the quotable group sung line “Slow this freight train down.” I’m not saying I’ve been converted to Southern rock or anything, but I’m willing to make an exception for Catfish Haven. It’s short and its simple, but that’s all it has to be.
Similar Albums: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River, Ryan Adams – Gold, Otis Redding – Otis Blue – Jeff Terich
Mother Hips – Red Tandy EP (Camera)
The Mother Hips long for a time long forgotten: the ’60s. They take more than a few cues from legends like Cream and Neil Young, as well as old standbys The Beatles and The Beach Boys. But even their artwork suggests an acid-tripping summer of love, complete with CD art that makes it appear to be a vinyl LP. All of the psychedelic past mastering may not be such a new thing, particularly for the 15-year-old Hips, but they do it so damn well, the nostalgic trip comes as a welcome diversion. Their new EP, Red Tandy, isn’t all ’60s worship, mind you. There’s some ’70s style album rock a la Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, as well. In fact, singer Tim Bluhm even has a little Petty in his voice to match.
Red Tandy contains only four tracks, but they’re each extremely catchy and riff-tastic. The title character in the title track “likes it hot,” which leads me to believe that the song is meant to be some sort of sexual come-on, though the pace of the song is not necessarily one that moves the hips. It’s no matter, though, because the song is fun anyway, as is the Cheap Trick-ish “Colonized” and the trippy “Blue Tomorrow.” The Mother Hips sound as grand as they ever did, and this release, short as it is, is long on good old fashioned rock `n’ roll.
Similar Albums: Cream – Disraeli Gears, Badfinger – No Dice, Raspberries – Fresh – Jeff Terich
Honeyhander – Woolly Mannerisms (S.A.F.)
Like a three-legged mutant, Rhode Island’s Honeyhander has its feet planted firmly in the roots of industrial, electronic keyboard pop, and post-punk guitar noise. Chances are, upon listening to Honeyhander’s EP, Woolly Mannerisms, you’d guess that they might have the following CD’s on their racks: Marilyn Manson, Depeche Mode, and Fugazi. Honeyhander stunningly dabble in all of their sounds, with distorted vocals, early `80s keyboards, and thrashing guitars. All of this is jarring at first, but upon further listens, the EP becomes a stirring cacophony of genres, all mixed to seamless perfection.
The EP starts with “Wear Out Your Muscles Mary,” beginning with Erasure or DM-like keys before taking a dark turn with fuzz guitar licks and industrial vocal effects. Remarkably, the song is both menacing and danceable at the same time. In a way, Honeyhander takes the concepts presented by the band Suicide and give it depth, breadth and a pop sensibility. The vocals in “Professional Poise” are the most Marilyn Manson like, complete with affectation and Iggy Pop like growl. The guitars of Honeyhander are most evident in the third song, “Our Connoisseurs are Feeders,” resembling the DC scene in a big way. The multilayered guitars and Sisters of Mercy-like vocals make for one of the best tracks on the EP.
If Woolly Mannerisms is the warning shot before a full-length release, then we better all take cover. Honeyhander is one of those acts that could take rock into a whole new direction. Every once in a while, a band comes along that mixes influences and sounds in a way that makes you think it is entirely original. You might have heard the pieces before, but you’ve never heard anything like Honeyhander.
Similar Albums: The Sisters of Mercy- Floodland, Nitzer Ebb- Showtime, Marilyn Manson- Mechanical Animals – Terrance Terich
Kill Me Tomorrow/Dance Disaster Movement – Beautiful Guns, etc. (Art Fag)
Typically, when two bands split a single, each artist takes one of two opposing sides, allowing the compositions their own space, uninterrupted by external musical sources. However, when two artists are playing at the same time, it becomes less of a split as it does a messy orgy of sound, as in the case of the new collaboration between Kill Me Tomorrow and Dance Disaster Movement, released by upstart label Art Fag, just up the street from Treble(!). Seeing as how both bands make their own brand of clattering din, combined they make an even more fucked-up junk heap of noise rock. Both “Beautiful Guns” and “European Son” are chaos within a loose pop structure, though rocking nonetheless. If you listen to either band, you should expect, by now, that you’re never going to get a straightforward rock song. Not completely straightforward anyway. But here, it’s amplified and exaggerated, and for that, we’re blessed with one of the weirdest, but coolest, singles of early ’05. And as an added bonus, it comes with wacky, porno-collage art, co-designed by KMT bassist K8 Wince.
Why? – Rubber Traits (Anticon)
As Yoni Wolf trudges deeper into the dark heart of pop music, it becomes clear that his releases as Why? have so much more to offer in the way of innovative indie pop ditties than most guitar-slinging artists today. And to think, it all started out as experimental hip-hop. Wolf’s recent full-length Elephant Eyelash has yielded two singles (sort of): the extended play joys of Sanddollars and now the psychedelic Elephant Six-isms of “Rubber Traits.” The B-sides included here are nothing less than wonderful, from the Technicolor journey “Dumb Hummer” (with million dollar line “If you’ve ever sipped Guinness through a cigarette“) to the nigh spoken-word piano ballad “Pick Fights” to the G-funk of “Decieved” (sic). “Decieved” in particular is noteworthy, as it’s the most straightforward hip-hop song Wolf has recorded in a while. It is, however, extremely short, as is “Pick Fights,” and thus the single ends around two minutes after “Dumb Hummer” is over. Even with brief throwaway tracks that fade out too soon, Why? has practically enough ideas for twice the amount of songs here. But with an EP, an album and a single released in the course of one year, maybe Wolf and his bandmates should pace themselves.
Similar Recordings: Why? – Sanddollars, Of Montreal – Archibald of the Balding Sparrows, cLOUDDEAD – Dead Dogs Two – Jeff Terich
Goons of Doom – Bikey Zomby (Volcom Entertainment)
Goons of Doom formed in a seemingly unorthodox way. A bloke named Ozzy Wright, a surfer by trade, made a movie about surfers who play in a band. Ozzy, in need of a band to portray, gathered his wife, a few friends and some instruments, and made the movie. Even more interesting is that all of them did not know how to play their instruments. They figured it out somehow, and created the songs along the way. After the movie was finished, however, the band continued to play live shows, local and abroad. By doing so, they have acquired a large fan base in both Hollywood and Tokyo.
Goons of Doom’s 5 song debut EP is about 20 minutes in length, and is one of the best debuts I have listened to in a while. While sounding a lot like Sonic Youth and Crass mixed together, they still produce a sound that is entirely their own. One of the standouts of this set is called “That One,” the only song sung by Ozzy’s wife, who’s name, if you would like to know, is Bang Bang Bunny Fang. Due to the fact that this song has über cool breaks between verses, and a melody that entrances the brain and the ears, I can’t get enough of it. The rest of the EP maintains a raw sound, and each of the songs are full of punch. Whatever the future holds for this happenstance band, Bikey Zomby is a worthwhile find.
Similar Albums: The Stooges – The Stooges, Crass – Penis Envy, Sonic Youth – Evol – Ayn Averett