The Mailbox Giveth: Sweaters & Pearls

A little over a month ago, I received a package in the mail from Jason Deagan of Sweaters and Pearls Records, a label that specializes mostly in 7" single and EPs.  This specific area of interest connects directly to Deagan's other passion, which is his 7 Inches [Every Day] blog that reviews new 7" releases daily.  

The contents of the package were as follows with a few words regarding each release:

Harpoon Forever
American Flag EP

There's a resigned tone to much of Harpoon Fever's 4-song EP American Flag, itself packed with Malkmus-laden slack rock that fully embraces the melodic persuasion of its 90s jump off.  While I wouldn't call the music lackadaisical, there's a charm or preciousness to it that enables my college flashbacks to surface with every strum of a guitar, especially true with the somber stride of "Slag Away" that's occasionally interrupted by a shift in tempo.  It's like a mild slap to the face, the recipient awake long enough to skip a little before going back to a more sober strut.  The track "Chickens" finds some common ground with the tangential rock jams that allowed Sonic Youth's Murray Street to shine, enlivening the track a tad just before it ends.

While I found American Flag mostly emulative, this release is a couple years old and it's very possible that Harpoon Forever's grown creatively.  I haven't yet heard the band's newest LP, A Prince For All Seasons, which just came out in February.

Black vinyl 7;" 4 tracks.

Soccer Mom
You Are Not Going to Heaven

"Shoegazery" and post-hardcore guitar textures abound, Soccer Mom's You Are Not Going to Heaven is an alt-rock 10" owing much to the sort of 90s-era sonic evocation that's since regained some relevance over the last couple of years, college-ready, left-of-the-dial fuzz and tone that reeks of ring tees and Half-Cabs.  This album was released in 2011.   

Though structurally there's not much new to hear, Soccer Mom works in some ethereal melodies that are distinct enough to latch onto and the band manages to attach some of its own signature to the idiom, songs like "(A) Natural History" and "American Flag (Eagle Flag 911)" reason enough to keep the record on rotation.  I found myself putting this on a lot, actually.  I'm not naive enough to think that some part of the brain engaged by nostalgia wasn't partly to blame, but You Are Not Going to Heaven is a well-crafted pop-fueled listen.

White vinyl 10;" 6 tracks.

R. Stevie Moore
I Missed July 7"

Millennial laptop maestros invoke the name of R. Stevie Moore with a reverence comparable to how Keith Richards may have talked about Muddy Waters back when he was a younger Stone. Being the guy that long ago planted the do-it-yourself seed by pursuing his art through home recording before easily acquired tech enabled the intolerably sour to sound so very sweet, it's understandable that an artist like Ariel Pink, whose own career was grown out of bedroom recordings, would be so indebted to Moore's work. Moore is an indie icon with a catalogue that spans decades. Plucked from this catalogue are the two songs the comprise the I Missed July 7:" The title track, taken from the 1978 LP, Games And Groceries, and "Traded My Heart For Your Parts," from the 1994 release, Unpopular Singer Vol. 1 & 2.

With a considerable leap in time from the A-side to the flip side, Moore's humorous disposition remains consistent. Since recording methodology had time to evolve, the less refined and shaky psych-pop of "I Missed July" sounds more lo-fi than the much later composed "Traded My Heart For Your Parts," though it's more of a complete entity, certainly indicative of the era but also hook-driven. "Traded My Hearts For Your Parts" is more of a folky goof, amusing content put into motion by acoustic chords that bounce from ear to ear and a bass tone that yearns to lounge. It's an interesting selection of tracks and it could possibly be a good introduction to Moore's music, two artful approaches certainly inspired and enabled by time, place and the means with which to create.

Red vinyl 7;" 2 tracks.

Fat History Month
A Gorilla 7"

Fat History Month's four-song A Gorilla is a melancholic collection of lose art rock and math-informed chord churn.  I hear a lot of Slint, but not so much that I feel Fat History Month simply plugged in and followed Spiderland like a map.

The band works in nuance, engaging in sonic tangents that resemble jams at points ("B") or falling hard on the notes generating a post-hardcore haze ("Heart Takes A Beating").  The opening track, "Gorilla," narrates death at the hands of its namesake, hard luck addressed in an almost joking manner till the outro seems to communicate some spiritual ascendency.  They go out on a lonely instrumental called "()," a picked guitar melody strolling over top a percussive skip.

I liked this one a lot.

Yellow vinyl 7;" 4-tracks.

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