Radar Eyes - Miracle b/w Me & My Dogs
HoZac Records (2011)
This is Radar Eyes second HoZac 7” (their first was part of the second round of the HoZac 7” singles club, probably the best in that set), preceding their debut LP coming early this year (also on HoZac). Actually surprised that these guys aren’t more hyped right now, they’ve got all the right moves, better songs, and are holding their own amongst their contemporaries who are also working in this similar as-yet-unnamed emerging genre that HoZac is doing a great job stitching together and making cohesive with bands like Woven Bones, Wax Idols, X Ray Eyeballs and probably even Jacuzzi Boys. “Miracle” on this 7” is really nice, super laid back and hooky, worth seeking out.
Apache Dropout - Radiation 7”
Mexican Summer (2011)
Hold my nose and grip another “must have” “limited” single on Mexican Summer, the label I hate the most. How do they keep landing all the good bands, and why do bands continue to work with these guys? Why can’t I stop myself from buying records with their imprint? I had a brief love affair with the Apache Dropout LP that came out early 2011, but for whatever reason I haven’t listened to it since, something rubbing me the wrong way. The two songs on this 7” are fine, but also slightly rubbing me the wrong way. All things considered, I would pass on this one.
Apache Dropout - Shot Down b/w Sister Burnout
Trouble in Mind (2011)
On the other hand, here is Apache Dropout on Trouble in Mind, one of the best small labels going right now, who are everything Mexican Summer wishes they were. Also, here is Apache Dropout with two songs that reminded me of why I liked them in the first place. Whereas the Mexican Summer 7” screamed “half assed”, this 7” comes alive with two great songs that sound fully realized. I think the key to future success for Apache Dropout is abandoning the Velvets and exploring their Bowie side the way they do on “Shot Down.” Absolutely killer.
Von Zippers - Nothing Can Bring Me Down b/w I’m Blue
Lemon Session (2011)
Yes, yes, yes! I was really excited to see a new 7” from The Von Zippers, who are the answer to the question “who do you want to be when you grow up.” Calgary has had a lot of great bands come and go, but the continued presence (and influence) of The Von Zippers is something of a miracle. They just get it, they have always had it, and I hope they will always have it. The two songs on this 7” are as raw and vital as anything they’ve released, and this record is essential, well worth your time and money.
Unnatural Helpers - Blackmarks 7”
Lemon Session (2011)
Lemon Session really knocked it out of the park with this new batch, maybe just in terms of bands that I already love, but all the same. Unnatural Helpers are all over the place on this new 7”, from straight up rockers in the vein of The Intelligence - “Blackmarks” and “Nuclear Boots” to other-wordly GBV-esq experiments like “Crying Jug”. All in all, another band like The Von Zippers with grey haired members who are proving that rock and roll is not necessarily a “young mans game.” If more young men had bands this good, the world would be a better place.
The Throwaways - Friday Date 7” EP
Remember that Sled Island when Yo La Tengo, Broken Social Scene, Mogwai and Wire bored you to tears in a mosquito-infested park? I don’t ‘cause I was at Tubby Dog watching the uber-charming debut of The Throwaways. I really do love this band a great deal - I recorded their first 7” (split 7” with Spastic Panthers) and once skipped out on visiting my dad, who was recovering from heart surgery, so I wouldn’t miss a Throwaways set at Broken City. The five songs on their new self-released single are everything that is good on this earth, and when it hits Calgary late February, it is essential that you go find a copy. I mean it.
Long Weekends - Don’t Reach Out b/w Show Your Face
Noyes Records (2012)
So I joined the Noyes Singles Club sometime last summer, and I really had no idea what I was getting into at the time, other than I would sporadically get a 7” by some Halifax bands who I knew nothing about… and that’s about it. I’ve been 100% on board with everything so far, and the Long Weekends continue the winning streak! Jangly garage pop mixed with a heavy dose of “East Coast” sound. You know the one. In the 90’s, all my Alberta pals were obsessed with all those East Coast bands, to an extent, many of us still are because sometimes it seems like EVERY SINGLE BAND IN HALIFAX IS GOOD.
The Ballantynes - The Message b/w The Railtown Abbey
La Ti Da Records (2012)
In my imagination (and maybe there only), Vancouver bands like Chains of Love and The Ballantynes come are coming as a direct counterpoint harsh, nihilistic Emergency Room scene (that I still enjoy, for the most part). I am sure that this is a gross oversimplification, but this new wave of bands seems so far removed that it can’t just be pure chance. To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. This debut 7” from the highly stylish The Ballantynes (check out that sleeve!) contains two note perfect Motown styled rave-ups that are full of energy, soul and sunshine. You just cannot help but get pulled into the gravitational pull of good vibrations that this record emits. Already a contender for 7” of the year one month into 2012!
Guided By Voices - We Won’t Apologize for the Human Race b/w The Unsinkable Fats Domino 7”
Matador Records (2011)
I own more Robert Pollard-related albums than any other musician. I think the total for my Pollard vinyl has to be around 100, a crazy number for sure. Though you’ve heard that the new LP “Let’s Eat the Factory” from Guided By Voices is a “return to form” and Pollard’s “best in years”, that isn’t exactly true. See, the highly prolific Robert Pollard is really smart, in that he doles out a few “classics” on every album and fills the rest with filler, and the new GBV is no exception. In fact, is new 7” has two of the best songs from the new LP, an advanced teaser to get the fanboys (i.e. me) salivating. Too bad the rest of the LP wasn’t this good, really.