Since the last 7-inch roundup from the Cave featuring local and regional vinyl singles, there's been a bit more action on the new release front. I've also been getting caught up on a few past releases, as well as scarfing up singles by bands I've caught on tour.
While it seems the pace of local 7-inch releases may be picking up a bit, it's been fueled by an interconnected group of true believers in the format, both members of the bands who are releasing records and various underground labels popping up to release them. I'll do what I can to notate all the crossover between the various releases. Here's the first batch of what's been on the turntable!
Sticks N Stones: "Red Light"/"Time Change" (Dusty Medical Records, 2010)
Sticks N Stones is a trio of Wisconsin garage punk scene veterans who gradually moved south from the Fox Valley to the Milwaukee area. Its members include former Teenage Rejects/Catholic Boys guitarist Paul Kalfahs (a.k.a. Reject) and drummer Jon Heibler (a.k.a. ... Reject), along with Natalie Clark of The Tears (a band that included the Catholic Boys' other guitar player). The topside's spiky guitar punker flies by at less than two minutes, and the more Cheap Trick-esque flip also leaves the listener wanting more. Looking forward, their next 7-inch release is planned for release by Trouble in Mind later this summer; even better, Sticks N Stones will perform perform at the Frequency on Saturday, May 29. Sticks N Stones is sort of an abbreviated version of Milwaukee bubblegum punkers Tuff Bananas ... and one of their singles is next on the 'table, followed by The Hussy.
Tuff Bananas: Dance to Rock N Roll EP (Three Dimensional Records, 2007)
When comparing this single to Sticks N Stones, it's easy to draw a line between the earlier five-piece lineup and the current band. Tuff Bananas is bouncier and just a tad more fleshed out musically, though, with the addition of some cheesy keyboard and extra sing-along vocals. I somehow missed out on seeing this band at the time they were together, and it took some work to finally track down this out of print 2007 EP. It was worth the wait, and fans of high energy power pop music should pick it up on the rare chance that one turns up used, along with their other single on Dusty Medical -- just don't beat me to it).
The Hussy and The Zygoteens: split EP (Big Action Records, 2010)
Madison duo The Hussy continued unleashing singles with this disc, which had its release show back in January. "Round and Round" is a very appropriate song for 45 rpm, and "Social Critique of Madison" features a hilariously impromptu ending that's as close to the band's occasional between-song concert antics as has been committed to disc so far. Milwaukee garage punk-pop trio The Zygoteens is a natural pairing with The Hussy, offering a pair of tracks that make the grade on sing-along energy and fuzzed-out noise more than precision. This EP comes in a snazzy hand-screened sleeve featuring art by Christopher Capelle of The Midwest Beat and the recently retired Gut Reactions.
"'Round and Round' is a track Heather wrote," explains Hussy guitarist Bobby Wegner, "and Zabby [of Big Action] liked the quickness/punk edge of it. We decided to put 'Social Critique of Madison' -- a total tongue-in-cheek self-bashing/loving sorta track-- on the single because we all love and hate certain aspects of Madison, so why not poke fun at that, right? And Zabby really wanted that track from the get-go too."
Wegner says this 7-inch had been in the works for awhile, and when the time came doing a split worked out great. "At the time we also had been playing with the Zygoteens and talking with Jake from the Zygoteens a lot, so it just sorta turned into a 'Hey, let's do this split 7-inch, it'll be fun!' And we were correct. We did a few release shows for the record with the Zygoteens and we had a ton of fun with them. Jake's one of my best buds in Milwaukee and I always welcome his musical skills. I'm really sad that the Gut Reactions broke up after a string of stellar 7-inches -- Jake was the bass player -- so now it looks like he'll have more time to front his own band, which is really rad!"
The Zygoteens also had a cassette release available at the show, as does The Hussy -- but the band hasn't seen it yet, Wegner says. "Cassette is a split with Nashville's Bad Cop. It was supposed to be put out by Spat! records, but then the guy who runs that died a couple of weeks after he said we were going to be the last Spat! release. So now it's on Jeffrey Drag and apparently it's available down south. I think it was a run of 200, but who knows how many were actually made. It can be like Hussy folklore or something."
Coming up, Wegner says The Hussy will also finally make the move to a 12-inch platter (13 songs at 45 rpm), planned for late in 2010 on a new label called Slow Fizz. And in addition to the May 29 show, they'll be hosting the return to town of Athens, Ohio's Wheels on Fire for a show at the High Noon Saloon on Monday, June 7.
Psychedelic Horseshit: Who Let the Dogs Out EP (Columbus Discount Records, 2006)
The first 7-inch by these Columbus crusaders, with relatively structured songs and even some sorta high fidelity on "Phony Detectives," plus a cathartically noisy flipside. This originally came out sometime after the early CD-Rs, which were compiled on last year's Golden Oldies (reviewed here); both this EP and that LP are currently available again through Columbus Discount, and discerning listeners should own both. They're certainly psychedelic, but not necessarily in the generally accepted sense.
The Midwest Beat: Bring the Water EP (Tax Return Records, 2009)
The Midwest Beat's releases on CD have gradually been appearing on vinyl. First, there was a double 7-inch of their debut EP, then this three-tracker released last summer, pressed on a sort of purple-gray marbled vinyl and with a somewhat dodgy-looking screen-printed sleeve. Since I've been known to crash the stage on occasion with the band, I can't say much in a critical sense about the music; suffice it to say that this release finds the Beat moving away from their country-tinged side into garage-pop territory, and includes a pair of songs from their At the Gates release. The orphan track, was recorded in the spring of 2009 and features the addition of guitarist Justin Aten, who also plays with the Beat's Matt Joyce and Logan Kayne (and The Hussy's Heather Sawyer) in The Honey Slides. "Not to Worry" has since actually ended up in The Honey Slides setlist rather than the Beat's, and here represents a teaser until the Slides' elusive debut disc is finally released.
The band is kicking off June with a short tour to the East Coast and back, before the re-release of At the Gates on LP (with a couple extra tracks) from Dusty Medical. They will play a release show at the Frequency on Friday, June 18. The Midwest Beat will also play the second Isthmus Block Party on Thursday, July 8; the party gets underway at 5 p.m. at the Capitol Square end of State Street.
Red Mass: "To All the Good People"/"The Truth About Baby Jane" (Dusty Medical, 2010)
Wrapping things up, here's another new release from Dusty Medical: A single by Red Mass, a band/artists collective spearheaded by the prolific Roy Vucino (a.k.a. Choyce and other noms de rock) of Les Sexareenos, CPC Gangbangs and various other projects. Their bio at MySpace includes the following statement of purpose: "The mass was created by Choyce in 2008 with the help of CPC Gangbangs member the Roller as part of the 'Free Creative Entreprise' arts collective. Its goal is simple ... a positive atmosphere for creating, allowing social networking for its members as well as pursuing the ideals of free thinking and liberation through art. This 'Rock 'n' Roll' organisation touches on a wide array of mediums from animation, illustration, improvisation, art films to music." Pretty cool. Since Red Mass coalesced there's already been a slew of released music. The topside here features a distorted, Dictators-y tribute to past times and people. Touring with Mark Sultan over the years must have rubbed off on Vucino, as the flip features Choyce & Roller doing a sort of spacier version of the King Khan & BBQ doo-wop/garage sound.