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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, CD singles and 7" records 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. 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 give some of this music its due, Lost At Sea has dredged through recently received EPs and singles to weed out a select few and recommend them to readers. Each review below includes a link to an artist or label site, most of which include samples of the artist's music and information about tours and buying the albums.
One For Jude - Hélice EP
One For Jude's French gothic music swirls around dark, looming piano and keyboards, muddy guitars and bilingually creepy singing. The fearless synthesis of dark-folk acoustic sounds and new wave-inflected rock is as surprising as it is successful. If Interpol covered the Legendary Pink Dots, it might sound a bit like this.
Headlights - The Enemies EP
The Enemies includes four songs of verdant boy-girl vocals and thick rock with strings and keys arrangement. The shy, curious mood of the songs most directly recalls Yo La Tengo. Universal statements of sadness like "we'll all die someday" and "everyone's got their enemies" are so much easier to swallow when drenched in sympathetic orch-pop.
Pony Up! / Ben Lee - "I Heard You Got Action" / "Float On" 7" single
Pony Up!'s "I Heard You Got Action" is shamelessly cute day-after girl-talk analyzing a romantic hook-up. Lyrically, it's baseball metaphors and colloquialisms are a bit more knowing than twee's innocent days of yore, but this is 2005 and the simple indie-pop arrangement is as true to the form created by bands like Beat Happening as anyone can be 15 years down the road. The group is the first signing to Ben Lee's new imprint, and he contributes the song on the flip side, a tender, acoustic cover of Modest Mouse's 2004 hit "Float On." It isn't likely to thrill anyone coming in to it blind, and it's not a particular improvement on the original, but it's a worthwhile listen for fans of either Ben or Brock.
Jesse Kates - Sleight of Hand
Jesse plays some odd songs with delayed and distorted guitars, letting rolling fields of the stuff fade in and out of view while he plays gentler melodies over the surface. Each song is a mix of planning and improvisation, which is artfully subtle in the sounds themselves. A helpful diagram is included in the press material: The music goes from Jesse (a largish circle) to the guitar (rectangle) and either straight to the amplifiers or through a looper on the way. The end result is a frequently interesting and occasionally enlightening field of overlapping grayscales.
The Brazilian Girls - Lazy Lover EP
The Brazilian Girls (not actually Brazilian and only one girl) have started building hype for their new album, and this EP is a small sample of that. Electronica and house have forayed into tropicalia and dub repeatedly over the past 15 years, but the attention the Girls have received suggests the rock-based approach has listeners and writers charmed (singer Sabina Sciubba may have a similar effect).
Dig Shovel Dig - "Recent Works From the Most Important Composers in the Universe" 7" single
Dig Shovel Dig play guitars and drums and a cheap keyboard which the guitar player allegedly controls with his right big toe. The end result here is either stop-start rock 'n' roll on a Birthday Party tip or bedroom-demo quality electronic noise. It's fun.
Nathaniel Carroll - "Midwestern Blues"/"Reunion Rag"/"Sometimes" 7" single
Nathan is a genuinely good piano player and a rather bad singer (who possibly jokes about the latter "when he croons "I hope that we'll sing on keeeeeeeeeey"). He drives home a Ben Folds vibe here with his piano-powered pop. He's clearly talented, and it would be great to hear him partner up with a singer who is not Nathaniel Carroll for some of these songs.
The New Flesh - "Nowhere"/"Weight"/"Scapegoat 7" single
And this is nothing but a screaming mass of poorly-recorded noise, which is a good thing. I'm not sure why anyone would record thin sine waves of hardcore in what sounds like a six-inch water main pipe and then go to the trouble of putting it out on stylish colored vinyl; but the decision was a sound one.
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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