Playing Singles Club Catch-Up Again
by Kevin J. Elliott

We here at the Agit Reader are certainly guilty of fawning incessantly over our favorite hometown label, that being Columbus Discount Records. Perhaps it’s because they tend to do everything right. In addition to last weekend’s excellent annual BBQ and the surprise pressing of a new, hand-screened (and I must say scorching) Bassholes record, they decided to slip in the fact that they’ll be continuing their wildly successful singles club for a second year. Looking over the proposed list of inductees (Tyvek, Electric Bunnies, Cheveu) there will be no shortage of great singles to keep track of next year. Likely, by the time you’re reading this (and though they’ve doubled the number of subscriptions offered), you’ve already missed the boat. Still it’s worth the try, the groveling, the begging, that might get you into this exclusive gang.

As for the Sub Pop singles club continuing, we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s been nice seeing Thee Oh Sees and Tyvek, Blues Control and (reportedly) Deerhunter, be included, but the way they’ve handled the club has been a nightmare. I was going to do my usual compare and contrast for July and August, but alas, I haven’t received either from Sub Pop. Are they reading the insults spewing from my mind? Leave it to the locals to teach the pioneers a thing or two about a singles club. Apologies to those wanting the blow-by-blow, but alas, this installment will only include the Columbus Discount Records submissions, starting with...

Cheater Slicks, “Erotic Woman” b/w “Can’t You Hear (My Heartbeat)”: What a year it’s been for the Slicks. I’m not talking ’bout a comeback, because this is a “power” trio that never actually left. Maybe it’s more of a renaissance and the realization that they’ve been a guiding light for scuzz-rock fanatics the world over, particularly for the locals who have carefully tread in their giant footsteps. Not so much a departure, but a rare bird for sure, their Bats in Dead Trees LP offered up a document of what it’s like to be stuck in a Slicks-hole, amped on Black Label and staggering in the darkness. Everyone needs a glimpse of what it is to be among the stench and grime of a live Slicks show, this was the gnarly experience some of those more drunken sets can become.

This single, however, is a return to roots. I’d even suggest starting with the B-side, which is an honorary cover of obscure band the Outcry. “Can’t You Hear (My Heartbeat)” is Tom Shannon’s lament or nostalgia for where the Slicks began, back in Boston, trading singles with other enthusiasts/scumbags, reveling in old blues and outlaw country, proto-punk and the like. It’s good to remember and recreate “back then,” and the Slicks do it with class, even holing up in Mus-i-col’s tiny studio, filled to the ceiling with vintage mics and tubes. Of course this isn’t “Rock Around the Clock”—this is the Slicks after all—so they keep the malt-shop, greaser sheen at a minimum. If anything, it attaches more to that minimally gritty garage sonics.

The A-side is what the Slicks have evolved into (after a case of beer perhaps). “Erotic Woman” is quintessentially what you would want to collect should bards from the future want an encapsulation of Columbus dive bars circa 2009. Dana, the drummer, scowls and howls his way through another (yet very welcomed) stomp about the evil woman, the frisky woman, the exotic woman, complete with flames shooting off the text. This is a scorcher of the highest order, this day and age, created by the Slicks in the way that they scuffle with the primary riffs. Perfect for the dwindling summer daze.

Little Claw, “Prickly Pear” b/w “Crawl Around Inside”: It would be hard to establish a hierarchy for all the wonderful artifacts CDR has produced over the course of this year, but this one by Little Claw might actually surface somewhere towards the bottom rung. Not a dud per se, just a tinge of disappointment if you’ve seen the latest and greatest incantation of the band roar through your town. For proof pick up their latest album, Human Taste (and be warned of its power). Technically this should be billed as Luxury Prevention, Kilynn’s primal one-woman destructionist folk project, previously heard on Die Stasi’s XXperiments compilation. There were certainly good intentions with this one. The fortified Little Claw, now with Damon and Heath (previously of Tyvek), were scheduled to record this specific slab with Mike Rep on a tour stop in Columbus. An unfortunate storm made this not to be. It was not a complete lost; “Prickly Pear” arrives just long enough after the world’s been exposed to Zola Jesus, Circuit de Yeux and Karen O. It’s more shooting towards diva stature, had a diva been backed by a box of Sun City Girls’ broken instruments, and gets completely under the skin. Taking it as a spiritual from the dawn of lo-fi, I can get behind her vamping and treat it as soul music, plus the atmospherics at work in the background are slyly mind altering.

“Crawl Around Inside” is what I’d rather be getting from Luxury Prevention. In contrast to the A-side, it’s a palette cleanser, or a lullaby for demon spawn. Luxurious is an apt name for what she does here, scrappy, but tempered, layers of strummed drone fluctuating in and out from a distant shore. There’s a future in her abstract soundscapes, but I’d leave the screeching of the first side as an icing to the atonal noise punk Little Claw concocts after midnight. Well kids, in year one, if we cross through the list of potentials, that only leaves Psychedelic Horseshit. In mere days we might just have our grubby paws on the best of the bunch. Then again, these have been like children, and you can’t regard one child over another, can you?