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Matthew Berlyant: February 10, 2013

  1. Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold (What’s Your Rupture)

    Here’s a record that’s gotten a lot of attention lately from other blogs and what not, but this one’s worth the hype. One part early R.E.M. (circa Chronic Town), a big chunk Crazy Rhythms-era Feelies and parts that remind me of Camper Van Beethoven circa Telephone Free Landslide Victory combine with an off-the-cuff vocal quality heavily reminiscent of Jonathan Richman, but all set in modern day Brooklyn. This reissue of the Brooklyn via Texas band’s debut Lp (originally released on cassette last year!) on the bigger What’s Your Rupture? label will mean that more people will hear this and that’s a very good thing.

  2. Arctic Flowers – “Procession” EP (self-released)

    Holy moly! They’ve been described as goth-punk, death-rock and anarcho-punk and none of those are wrong. This young, female-fronted band from Portland echoes the best, melodically-driven anarcho-punk (i.e. the Crass Records variety) of the early to mid ’80s ala Zounds, The Mob (the UK one) and Honey Bane, but with a guitar attack at times highly redolent of Rikk Agnew circa Christian Death‘s Only Theatre of Pain Lp or the more post-punk tinged early Adolescents tunes like “Kids of the Black Hole” and a vocal delivery similar to Dinah Cancer of 45 Grave (but less campy and more like their early material like “Black Cross”). Wow!

  3. Cheatahs – “The Swan”

    I’ve yet to hear the entirety of their just-released Extended Plays collection, but based on this 2012 single, it should be terrific as that’s an apt description of this trick. There’s absolutely nothing new going on here, just the best Swervedriver tribute since Doves released the brilliant “Catch the Sun” back in 2000. Thanks to Chip Midnight for turning me on to this.

  4. Sonic YouthLive at Smart Bar 1985 (self -released)

    I passed on listening to this when it was first released a few months ago because I thought that a Sonic Youth live tape from right before the era where they got really good (starting with EVOL) would be a curiosity at best. Boy was I wrong! There are absolutely feral versions of Confusion is Sex and Bad Moon Rising material on display here which frequently better the studio versions (it being an early show with incredible drummer Steve Shelley, then just hired, definitely helps here) and this set also showcases a few early versions of tunes that would end up on the aforementioned EVOL (including “Expressway to Yr Skull”). While I would still say that casual fans can skip this, this set is essential for the more serious Sonic Youth fan. I can’t wait to hear what else is in their vaults.

  5. My Bloody Valentinem b v (self -released)

    Well 22 years after Loveless, here is the album none of us thought we would ever see completed. Was it worth it? In a word, yes. My favorite track here is the absolutely gorgeous, Bilinda Butcher-sung “Is This and Yes” (reminiscent of “Apples for the Sun” from last year’s similarly gorgeous Interstellar from Frankie Rose) and I also really enjoy the noisier, more propulsive final three songs on the album, but I suspect that like Loveless, this will take years to unravel and fully appreciate.

  6. Kevin Seconds – “Masterpiece, Unfinished” EP (Truly Shambolic)

    I picked up this now long out-of-print, four-song EP at a very sparsely attended show of his back in 2009 at the First Unitarian Church, but for whatever reason never gave it a chance until a few days ago. Anyway, this is a fantastic release that proves that Seconds’ parallel career as an indie-pop solo singer-songwriter can be just as rewarding as his much more appreciated and well-known role as vocalist of his long-running hardcore act 7 Seconds. The rest of this seems to have disappeared into the ether, but you can listen to the title track here.

  7. The Lucy ShowMania (Words on Music)

    Though I already had this great 1986 album (their second, which was originally released on the Big Time label) on vinyl, I picked up the CD version (as well as their other Lucy Show reissues) recently as this great Minneapolis label was having their annual $5 CD sale. What an acquisition as the sound is excellent, bonus tracks worthwhile (demo and live stuff) and liner notes (by our own Jack Rabid) a pleasure to read as well!

  8. Honeychurch – Johnny Brenda’s (Philadelphia) – February 6, 2013

    While we missed headliners Cheers Elephant and middle band Explorers Club, we came primarily for this great Bucks County band. Though their slot as openers meant some in the bar area talked over their sparse, hushed, achingly beautiful, so good it hurts folk-rock, my second time seeing them in less than two months proved just as pleasurable as the first. We got great original material from last year’s excellent Will You Be There with Me as well as covers of Dolly Parton, The Softies and Magnetic Fields. I love this band.

  9. Those DarlinsScrews Get Loose (Oh Wow Dang)

    Well what can I say? Though it’s been out for almost two years and I’ve had it since last summer, I can’t stop listening to this absolutely great second Lp from one of Nashville’s finest.

  10. Chris Stamey – _Lovesick Blues _ (Yep Roc)

    Hot on the heels of last year’s great Falling Off the Sky by his band the dB’s (the first album he’s done with them since 1982’s career-peak Repercussion), Stamey releases what is his best solo album ever. Yes, ever. Instead of quirky sonic experiments or twee psychedelia (not that those are bad things!) or references ranging from topical and political to Kierkegaard, we got hushed, straightforward, direct pleas for tenderness, love and warmth. I didn’t expect this, but this is his third great album in the last three years (2009’s annoyingly-titled _hERE aND nOw_album with dB’s band mate Peter Holsapple is the third one)!