Quick Review (EP): Glenn by Slint

slint glenn rhoda 10" Slint
Glenn EP
Touch & Go; 1994

My Rating: A+

Best Tracks: both tracks

Spiderland gets all the recognition, but when it comes down to it, this is the record that truly DOCUMENTS the reality of this band of bands. First of all, the recording is amazing, the sound of Albini completely redeeming himself after sabotaging Tweez. Second, the band never sounded better, more Slint-ish, than this. “Glenn” is perhaps the essential Slint track, immediate and mysterious, sprawling and meticulous, an epic crafted to precision that proceeds to blow your mind. “Rhoda” refurbishes the poorest track on Tweez, thrusting it forward as perhaps the best. When Walford crashes in near the end of the track (“One two three four!!!!!”) and the band goes insane, you get a sense of what this band was capable of live. Doubters, beware. This EP just might convert you.

AMG review
Wikipedia article
Hardcore For Nerds review

Quick Review (EP): Jawbox EP by Jawbox

jawbox ep Jawbox
Jawbox EP
Dischord/Desoto/Slamdek; 1990

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “Tools & Chrome”, “Bullet Park”

Jawbox didn’t really hit their stride until Novelty, and this, their earliest release, suffers a bit from a meat-and-potatoes aesthetic blandness. That’s not really a major complaint though, because the performances are energetic and full of conviction. Everything here rocks with a truly youthful abandon, and Robbins’ guitar work is already beginning to shine with that razor’s edge manic grace that he would perfect later on. “Tools & Chrome” hits hardest, but don’t miss “Bullet Park”, which was released as an extra track on the Slamdek-released cassette. “Twister” also begins to hint at the frantic melodicism they would embrace on later releases. Worth a pitstop for devotees.

Allmusic review
Slamdek write-up (very in-depth, don’t miss it)

Quick Review (EP): Margin Walker by Fugazi

Margin Walker EP
Dischord; 1989

My Rating: B-

Best Tracks: “Margin Walker”, “Burning Too”, “Promises”

It’s always puzzled me that so many folks cite Margin Walker as one of Fugazi’s best releases. I’ll admit it’s okay, especially the first and last tracks, but it’s an afterthought compared to the first EP. Nothing here is nearly as iconic or tuneful as “Waiting Room”, or even “Bulldog Front.” The tracks all feel a bit rigid, as if it is too obvious they are studio recordings. Furthermore, the band seems increasingly doctrinaire, more obsessed with the message than the music. The result is that this is the only mediocre record the band ever produced. The songs lack the poppy punch of the 7 Songs set, and for that reason it is a less than memorable release.

Wikipedia article
Allmusic review
My review of Fugazi’s 7 Songs EP
Mark Prindle’s review of Margin Walker

Quick Review (EP): 7 Songs by Fugazi

7 Songs EP
Dischord; 1988

My Rating: A+

Best Tracks: “Waiting Room”, “Burning”, “Suggestion”

Yes, it is THAT good, good enough to warrant us forgiving them for inaugurating the punk/funk/hardcore fusion that would be mimicked ad nauseam in the late 90’s by all the Korn Bizkit’s of the world. From every conceivable standpoint, this debut is a masterpiece, with “Waiting Room”/”Bulldog Front”/”Bad Mouth” standing as one of the greatest opening salvos in rock history. Elsewhere, “Burning” is nearly as strong, featuring an incredibly memorable intro, and “Suggestion” achieves the sort of epic arc that was and still is quite unusual for hardcore. There’s really no other record that brims with as much conviction, passion, and ferocious melodicism as this here extended player, and every track is simply iconic. Furthermore, this is a landmark record, because it’s the point that hardcore punk made the case that it could be, like, capable of the Top 40. The fact is, “Waiting Room” is one helluva pop song, and it might be argued that every track that made it into the buzz bin on MTV in the 90’s somehow directly descended from it. You should probably own two copies of this one: one to listen to, and one to salute on your way out the door every morning. So much more than a hardcore or punk record, the 7 Songs EP is without a doubt one of the finest musical moments of the 1980’s.

AMG review of the 13 Songs compilation
AMG review of “Waiting Room”
Wikipedia article
Confessions of a Cultural Whore review


Quick Review (EP): The Seance EP by Stars

stars_band_photo Stars
The Seance EP

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “Opinions vs. The Sun”, “The Five Ghosts”

This feels a lot like the hardcore desolation electro-pop of Depeche Mode. I’m not sure what the “V. Album Leaf” and “v. Montag” means here, but the best track is probably “The Five Ghosts” anyway. Like any good EP, this has the complete and impactful feel of a solid short story. Perhaps these tracks were considered afterthoughts to The Five Ghosts LP-proper, but I think they measure up just as well to anything on that record, except perhaps “Fixed” and “Wasted Daylight.” As far as EP’s go, this is everything a good one should be.

Snob’s Music review
The Seance appreciation thread

Quick Review (EP): My Neighbor/My Creator by Wye Oak

wye-oak-neighbor-creator-cover-art Wye Oak
My Neighbor/My Creator EP
Merge; 2010

My Rating: A-

Best Tracks: “I Hope You Die”, “My Neighbor”

Very nice. “I Hope You Die” was already one of my favorite tracks of the year, and the first three songs are all done really well. Jenn Wasner has a great voice, and the band comes off like a Beach House/Tiny Vipers hybrid, a good thing all around. Again, I’m impressed by the strength of these four songs. I will plan on exploring the rest of their releases after hearing this. My one complaint is that I could have done without the last track, “That I Do”, an indie-rap-folk hybrid of sorts. They just don’t make it work, and it comes off a little silly. Thankfully, it is situated at the end of the playlist, which means that it can be safely ignored. That being said, My Neighbor/My Creator is one of the best EP’s of the year. Highly recommended.

Band Myspace site
Pitchfork review

Quick Review (EP): Reality by Real Estate

Print Real Estate
Reality EP
Mexican Summer; 2010

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “Younger Than Yesterday”, “Saturday”

Here’s what I like about Real Estate: vision. There’s a lot of bands out there trying to take part in the post-MBV hazy beach rock sound, but no one is doing it nearly as well as Real Estate. Opening track “Motorbikes” is our case in point. This band knows when to slow it down and take its time, when to throw in a little bit of ambient noise, and mostly, how to evoke the genuine nostalgia of a lazy summer day. Or take “Saturday Morning”, which I can entirely see one of these guys penning on a lazy Saturday morning. There’s an earthiness to what they are doing, the feel of genuine garage and/or basement rock. How appealling in an age when that sort of thing is manufactured on a mass scale.

Pitchfork review
Band Myspace page
My review of the Real Estate s/t LP

Quick Review (EP): The Years by Memoryhouse

The Years
Arcade Sound Ltd.; 2010

My Rating: A

Best Track: “Sleep Patterns”

Debut EP’s have a long and storied history. I count among my favorites REM’s Chronic Town, Voxtrot’s Raised By Wolves, and Fugazi’s self-titled debut. I think it’s perhaps the best way for a new band to introduce its sound to the world, because the EP length leaves us well-informed but thirsting for more. Additionally, most bands, in their first year or two, have not really achieved what can be called a fully-formed sound. Arcade Fire is a good example. Their first EP, while decent in its own right, comes nowhere near the epic glory of their debut LP. All of this is to say that I think Memoryhouse has released one of the best EP’s of the year with their debut, The Years. It’s short even for an EP, only 4 songs in all, but we have here a reasonable introduction to what can be expected from the band in the future. “Sleep Patterns” is the obvious standout, a lo-fi pop noir hybrid of Beach House and Joy Division, and “The Waves” is a quick interlude of New Age electronica. The other two tracks are solid as well, and given the fact that the EP is free, I expect the band to gain a significant following from it. I question whether they can pull off a really solid LP though. Bands with this sort of sleepy sound generally approach terminal attention around track 8 (witness: Boards of Canada), so I for one am hoping for a long career of lengthy EP’s. Still, if Tortoise can do LPs, why can’t Memoryhouse? We’ll see what they come up with.

Download it for FREE here
Pitchfork review
Band Myspace page

Quick Review (EP): All Delighted People by Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens
All Delighted People EP
Asthmatic Kitty; 2010

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “All Delighted People”, “Djohariah”, “Heirloom”, “From the Mouth of Gabriel”

“My EP’s are longer than your double LP’s.” Just who does this Sufjan character think he is? Following on the heels of one of the most productive “non-productive” runs in rock and roll history, the man who made the best record of the last decade makes a grand return, opening this hour-long affair with one of the best tracks of the year. The title track sounds just fine coming out of speakers, but it should be listened to with big Leia-style headphones at an appropriately high volume for maximum effect. “You Are The Blood”, his offering on last year’s Dark Night of the Soul compilation, showed we should expect something different yet epic and great in the future. Here we have it, with more where that came from. Yeah, I could have done without the alternate version of “All Delighted People” and the track that follows it, but those are minor complaints and there really ain’t a stinker to be found. I can only think of a few other artists that make such consistently inspired and transcendent music, and most of those names are so iconic that it would be silly to list them here. If All Delighted People is any indication, Sufjan is going to own this decade like he owned the last.

Listen to it and buy it here
Pitchfork Review
Metacritic Review

Quick Review (EP): Something About the Chaparrals by Pearl Harbour (now Puro Instinct)

Something About the ChaparralsPearl Harbor (aka Puro Instinct)
Something About the Chaparrals EP
Mexican Summer; 2009

My Rating: B

I like these gals; they’ve got a great sense of humor and a funny blog. They use incredibly awesome hyper-slang like “Wuz gawn,” and say that they have things “4 U.” This was their first EP-length release, and it’s halfway superlative. “Sunburn” and “Luv Goon” are phenomenal, but the last two drown in a sunny monsoon of sound. The guitar player is like 14 years old and comes up with great licks now, which means that she has plenty of radical ahead of her. Hope they do something magical on their first full-length still to come. For now, stick with the first half of this record. RiYL: Best Coast, Beach House, Asobi Seksu, leotards and sweatbands.

Listen to “Luv Goon” and buy here
Sample all tracks here
Blog here
Myspace here