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While Lost At Sea endeavors to write about a great deal of the music it receives, there are hundreds of releases that slip through the cracks - things too strange, too transient or (yes) too bad to earn a full review. EPs and CD singles are particularly hard to deal with because there are so many of them - and they are so small - that they often get lost in the shuffle, literally and figuratively. This sometimes means that deserving music in non-album form is not reaching the people who might enjoy it most.
In an attempt to save some of this music from obscurity, Lost At Sea has dredged through recently received EPs and singles to weed out a select few and recommend them to readers.
Demons, You Are the Stars in Cars 'Til I Die EP
Pitty Sing's debut EP is packed with some wonderfully glossy new wave. No one can deny a song that features a gorgeously sung chorus of "We'll fuck on the radio" followed by a big flowery batch of Bono-ese "Oooh-oh-oh." The delicious "We're On Drugs," with echoing mouth clicks for chorus commas, is possibly even better. If the band, which supposedly has several albums worth of material ready, can deliver on what's here, they could be the next Tears For Fears, or at least the next Comsat Angels.
Pro Forma EP
Most famous and successful bands leave a trail of dead-end side projects and oddball detours in their wake, and 2004's great indie hope Franz Ferdinand was no exception. Before he was providing the hip-moving beats for the Franz, Paul Thomson and two Glasgow friends recorded this five-song EP of warm baselines and treated vocals over icy drum machine beats. If Franz is most frequently likened to jaunty jump-punk group Gang of Four, Pro Forma is more in line with weirder, more chaotically rhythmic groups from the same time, like 23 Skidoo and A Certain Ratio. The band has released the EP to build interest in their music as they prepare to release new material with a new lineup. If the music here is any indication they'll provide a welcome addition to Glasgow's new No Wave.
Sugar In Our Blood EP
This short player includes tight, propulsive, insistent songs with a certain singer-songwriter sheen on the vocals but the muscle of a three-man band to back it up. The rapid hi-hat hits and burbling guitar on the dusky "Parallax" demonstrate closely-knitarrangements reminiscent of groups like Giant Sand or even Slint. Recommended.
These grating, monstrous Relapse Records-style bands are certainly an acquired taste, but Mare is a good choice for those who enjoy the musical equivalent of slow motion spontaneous combustions. The band mixes it up with some eerie quiet moments and pushes for some of the same moodiness that Isis displays on its records.
Ethan Daniel Davidson
Better Living Through Creative Selling EP
Anarchist Ethan David Danielson drops some political science that thankfully transcends the average political artist's Noam Chomsky aping. The clear highlight is "Terrorist," a well-considered meditation on the hypocrisy sometimes employed by those who try to differentiate between terrorists and freedom fighters. Appropriately he busts it over a sandstorm Eastern Cabaret Voltaire riff. The criticisms of consumer culture and "Grapes of Wrath"-quoting are sometimes a bit obvious, but Danielson nonetheless shows a fluid ability to bend a Beck-ian combination of folksy protest and mechanical beats to express pointed political positions. One to watch.
There they are, the duo that is Ringside, lookin' tuff and Ratatat-ish against the white background of the cover. A guitar, a big-ass amp and a drum machine (one wonders if they pawned the kit to buy it - a bit like selling the family horse to buy that new car). The programmed beats are sorta extraneous, but the songs are fairly well written so perhaps someone can forgive that. One guy is hitting high notes, the other is desperately cranking some sort of bellows-powered machine that is beginning to smoke and emit strange odors, and still the engrossed executive says "Wait, wait - let's give it a chance. I want to see where they're going with this."
Fast Forward / T Cells
The two 3" CDs were horribly jumbled in transit and I'm not sure which is which, as they are not labeled. Suffice to say one sounds like shoe-building gnomes who got tired of building shoes and instead broke into a Radio Shack to make music to scare cats with, while the other sounds more like UK grime producer Wiley trying to make a garage rock record while drunk. These are both products of the Three One G noise scene (The Locust, Le Shok, etc.) but are a far cry from the grind style associated with that camp. It's almost more like the op-concrete of the Books or Animal Collective. Welcome to the 21st Century, California.
Slow Motion Rabbit Kick
Hortatory Examinations EP
Washington indie band Slow Motion Rabbit Kick sounds a bit like Belle and Sebastian, if Belle and Sebastian wrote lines like "All dogs like to stand when they pee." The thin, trebly production, squeaky electronic flourishes and woozy girl-boy duets will appeal to lo-fi pop fans.
A Whole New City EP
It's a six song EP - the first three songs are decently typical pop-emo numbers, the last three are bass-ed up dance-punk numbers. The music is rather average, but it's curious to see a band strung so evenly between two popular sub-genres. The instrumental "The Club," which even sounds a bit like rock-groove group Tussle, is the band's best effort and suggests the best direction for the group.
Erick Bieritz lives in Chicago, where is usually either very hot or very cold. He was the brainchild behind EPMD, where he wrote about EPs and singles for LAS, looking for overlooked or underappreciated non-album releases.
See other articles by Erick Bieritz.
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