Small Doses #1
Small Doses #1
by Jake Haselman, Amanda Spadaccini, Simon Thibaudeau, Terrence Wedin
Small Doses is an article series that will be venturing into the world of short format releases. We all love the EP's, but they seem to get overlooked when it comes to publishing time. So once a month we will run down some of our favorites, and in the process hopefully tip you off to some great music that you can pick up for cheap.
They And The Children/Daniel Striped Tiger Split 7" (Shock Value)
They And The Children start things off with thick sludge influenced riffs that meld together with the wandering licks of a Majortiy Rule-esque guitar part. The majority of the song is driving, only slowing down near the end; to go into more snail-paced riffs that are lead by the deep screamed vocals that run through the entire song. Daniel Striped Tiger bring a more spastic approach to the rock song. Largely influenced by Nation of Ulysses (Check out the saxophone on track 2), they go in and out of sleepily picked guitar parts, and vocals that range from yelping to crooning. Daniel Striped Tiger keeps up the intensity during both songs, and provided the more impressive material of the two sides. (TW)
My Morning Jacket - Off the Record – 7" (ATO/RCA)
There was a lot of hype around the full length album, Z, from the artwork to the apparent shock of their long time fans that they would consider experimenting with their musical formula and try something new. This 7" is a great example of the new MMJ, or more so, the direction which they were willing to go to see how far they could push their music. I love both the cover art of the full length and this 7", which consists of a giant pile of what seems to be Styrofoam containers stacked well over a hardhat sporting guy's head who is standing nearby. I'm not going to try to read into the sleeve image, but what I will read into is the decision to have "Off The Record" and "How Could I Know" on a 7" opposite one another considering all the other songs in the album.
While "Off the Record" feels more comfortable and old-rock style (with a reggae rhythm) that we are used to from MMJ, How could I know is a big step in the direction of experimental. It's a nice exploration of new sounds but still contains the reverberation heaviness that I've always really liked about this band. You know, a lot of people have said that the newest songs from MMJ remind them somehow of Radiohead during their OK computer period and beyond. While I think that's a really flattering comparison because I happen to really love Radiohead, I don't feel like it meets the mark entirely. I think maybe what people are feeling is that his voice is so adaptable like Yorke's, so that when the music changes it's like taking an old instrument used in another era and reworking it completely to a perfect fit. It's so memorable because there's a sea of one trick ponies out there. This is something that a lot (read, A LOT) of bands completely blow it trying to do, and MMJ has pulled off really beautifully here. Also much like Radiohead, they have simple lyrics that are just plain beautiful and well structured (again, something some people take for granted, but doesn't happen often in a shift like this), like in Off the Record, with "In a crowded room near the box of book, to an artificial tune, I see you swoon".
Every time I did something weird or out of character and got dissed for it, my parents always gave me the very strange and simple advice that not everyone is going to like me or love me all the time. And I feel like this fits the move that MMJ has made here, I'm sure they knew some people would balk at this major change, but they did what they felt was their next step regardless of what kind of hell they would catch and I think it was beautifully done. This 7" is a great consolidation of what MMJ really is. – (AS)
Cease Upon The Capitol- 7" (Escucha/Endless/I've Come For Your Children)
With a blazing minute long track on the Emo Apocalypse 7", Nashville's Cease Upon The Capitol follow it up with a very solid debut 7". They play a style of hardcore reminiscent of European bands like La Quiete and June Paik that waver between abrasive and pretty parts. Not doing anything too daringly original, Cease Upon The Capitol manages to keep the four tracks on the record interesting, with exceptionally well-written guitar lines and inventive drumming. They also seem to be bridging the language barrier as they translate their lyrics into both Spanish and Japanese. Overall the 7" is a very solid and very recommended release. (TW)
Ships at Night Records Sampler – 3" CDR (Ships at Night/Distroboto)
With 3 as of yet unreleased songs from the Field Register, Plants and Animals and Katie Moore along with a older song from Timber, this little sampler is great to get into this label that consistently puts out very interesting records. The four bands presented here rank amongst the best Montreal has to offer and should all be on your watch list. Especially angel-voiced Katie Moore that lights up the sampler with her country tinged song. – (ST)
Lavender Diamond/ The Queens of Sheba - split 7" (Cold Sweat Records)
What a cute 7" record this is. I really love the artwork which is very lush and green, sort of cartoony. Lavender Diamond is from LA, and honestly I'd never listened to them before this 7". This is really a great sit-down-and-listen-to-them-and-do-nothing-else kind of band. The singer, Becky Stark, has this fantastic, wonderful voice that goes from sounding very folkish to strongly reminding me of Patsy Cline (a little less country of course). A few people mentioned to me that this band sounds like something they'd hear at their mom's house on the oldies or soft rock station… but I think what they're mistaking here is something that is sedate and easy to hear with something that is so easily and well done that it feels comfortable the first time you hear it. This isn't a song that grows on you, from the first listen, actually the first few seconds, I though "wow I like this band", googled them and ordered their CD. It feels like a beautiful lullaby kind of music, the kind you can't talk while you're listening to. I'd highly recommend finding out more about this group if you haven't already because I think they're wonderful in many different ways, foremost: it's choir like and well balanced with the music only barely catching up to and accenting the perfect vocals. I can't honestly find one negative thing to say about this song, I absolutely love it and I can't wait to hear more by them.
The Queens of Sheba, with much talked about Devendra Barnhart and Andy Cabic really didn't do it for me. The song "Christmas Time Celebration" is, to my knowledge of old Blues, an R&B song. What they did to it was melt it down into a slow moving rock sort of song with a complete musical meltdown in the middle which clears itself up again to bring you back to the same repeated lyrics lacking the soul of the original song and almost mocking it in some way (at least I felt that way, but then again I'm sensitive so I hear). Ok, you know the only way I can put it is this, the entire time this song was playing I kept thinking 'which Velvet Underground song is this? Why does Lou Reed sound so weird?'. It's good enough to be a song, but it's just not my thing and I don't feel like it did justice to the really awesome Lavender Diamond song. – (AS)
Woods – Ram – 7" (Gilgongo Records)
Made up of half of the foursome that make up Meneguar, Woods is a project that brings together the good point of free folk and marries it with typical song structure. Side A, "Ram", starts of innocently enough. A nice heartfelt diddy that naturally flows into an atmospheric, improv jam session. A great introduction to the band if you didn't get a chance to grab their tape on the famous Fuck It Tapes. The B side starts of with "Woods Children", and it's like some early GY!BE track… on acid… with children talking instead of crazy street prophets. Then they close out the 7" with "Do They Smoke Cigarettes in Heaven", an upbeat, toe-taper that will easily get stuck in your head for a few hours. It's a great song, and a great way to leave the people salivating for more. Good stuff, I recommend it for anyone who digs the more coherent moments of WW/VV. – (JH)
Alden and Brendan - 7" (Take This Hammer & White Wave White Wave Recrrd Labels)
Alden, of the aforementioned Alden and Brendan, was one of the members of Vancouver/Montreal trio Unicorns. While the two members of that seminal group are forging ahead with the pop-oriented the Islands (http://www.myspace.com/islandsareforever) Alden apparently was the source of all those quirky and experimental notes of the band as they are displayed on this 7". As those two largely pop songs show, the inclusion of noisy electronics and Radio Shack sounding organs can cohabitate wonderfully. One of the songs is a more subdued pop numbers, with those idiosyncrasies more evidenced while the other is a straight rocker that is as catchy as you are likely to hear this year.
Life At These Speeds/Sinaloa Split 7" (Waking)
From New York City's Waking Records comes another slab of exceptional emotional hardcore. Oregon's Life At These Speeds start things off with their trademark sing-song vocals which lead us into a driving rock song, guided by their distinct bass playing, reminiscent of early Fugazi. On the B-side, Sinaloa brings a mellower song then most of the material on their latest full-length LP. The guitars are still abrasive and the drums are still pounding, but the vocals are talked with a chorus of voices backing up the song. As the song picks up though we are brought back to the quick stabs and breathless yelling that is more in form with the Sinaloa we are familiar with. Adam Juresko (of Stop It!! Fame) also provides wonderful artwork for the record. (TW)
Hot Cross/The Holy Shroud Split 7" (Level-Plane)
Level Plane's darling, Hot Cross provides it's first material since their 2004 Fair Trades EP on this 7" slab. The song is fast paced and the pull-off guitar riff is both epic sounding and driving at the same time. The vocals are mainly a combination of talking and singing, sometimes bordering on a yell, but never reaching the scream that most bands seem to be including in their records. The track is a good one and definitely makes you anticipate more from Hot Cross. On the B-side, The Holy Shroud plays a similar style of hardcore influenced rock that is shriller at times then their 7-inch counterparts. The chorus goes into pull-off guitar riffs and scream/sung vocals that give the song much of its depth. Overall, this record provides us with a quick glance at what is in the future for both bands. (TW)
Luther All-Stars – 3" CDR (Distroboto/Turtle Farm Islands)
This is 8 pieces of vaguely related music that sound more like an art-school project than anything cohesive, not that cohesiveness was ever something they thought about in the first place, I am sure. From soul, blues, jazz, house, rock and metal this thing is all over the place and all of it is joyously bipolar and funny. Fortunately it is only a 3" because the novelty would wear off in a hurry otherwise.(ST)
Yukon – Gough (starter home) – 7" (Human Conduct)
Who doesn't need more mid 90's indie rock angst? I love me some Shellac, and so does Yukon. There is nothing wrong with paying tribute to your idols/influences if you can do it without sound like a cover band… Yukon doesn't sound like a cover band (for the most part). These four guys pump out a sound that has plenty of reference points if you really want to dissect it but it's better just to put it on and let the rock wash over you. The A side ("Gough") is a much stronger song than it's B side counterpart ("Flushed"), but these tracks show plenty of potential and I'd love to hear more of these dudes. (JH)
Amanda Mabro & the Cabaret Band – 3 song + Video – 3" CDR (Distroboto)
Here is 3 Songs in the Cabaret standards style by Amanda Mabro. I normally would not like this as I hate most Cabaret and Musical music but because of Amanda's soulful voice that certainly is not as theatrical as one would expect and the interesting arrangements taken upon by the band, it just sounds good. More importantly is that those songs, despite their cabaret-style structure are mostly very catchy in a very pop way. Definitely a woman to keep an eye on, and it shouldn't be too hard on your eyes to do so. – (ST)
If you have a release that you'd like to see in future installments of Small Doses send them into us, but be sure to mark "Small Doses" on your package.
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- Jake Haselman / IW Staff | 2006-02-17
|OTHER ARTICLES BY JAKE HASELMAN / IW STAFF|