I suppose we’ll start with the label that’s currently dominating the singles club sweepstakes. With this October treat El Jesus de Magico have a new calling card on wax that goes above and beyond the excellent Funeral Home Sessions 7-inch, and Columbus Discount Records are batting two for two. In the past it may have been hard to call EJDM a traditional rock band, as most of their output often devolved into shambles, and you may as well have been taking acid during the lurid live shows because besides the careening rhythms, not much made sense. It’s like they’re constantly pushing for that breakthrough. I’m sure the guys and girl would not call this one the holy mountain light they’ve been searching for, but it certainly cuts a sharp line down the template that shares space for both Pavement and Amon Duul II, and any psych-enthusiast who came-on in the ‘90s would probably salivate over such a descriptor.
“Unclean Ghost” is the Malkmus specter. Let’s be clear, it does not sound like some left-over Slanted and Enchanted B-side, but it does burrow that same slack melody in the song’s creases when the guitars chime in. Underneath the robot groans and sighs that emanate from Tony Allman’s organ grinder control center, there’s a clear sign that melancholy pop is the order of the day. “Unclean Ghost,” however, is distinctly of the Jeezy, and in their short span on the shores of Columbus, it’s also their best work so far.
Consider the A-side the present exception to the flip. “Pirate Utopia” finds the group chugging back into their ramshackle Midwest version of post-punk that has made them a household name in Washington Beach. Only now guitarist Dave Capaldi is mining through Sun City Girls territory, the steely line that snakes throughout is sinister exotica. The vocal here is as reverb-stretched as shaman John Whitzky can get, imagining those kinetic trails found in the best Butthole Surfer rituals. In fine form “Pirate Utopia” ends in the deconstruction of what was just built, the band picking up their instruments and crashing into the walls, dissolving into a pile of cacophony and melted blotter. Rinse and repeat. This one comes on clear vinyl and each cover is silkscreened and different in color and form from the next.
In other singles club updates, the fanfare for the limited Sub Pop version 3.0 is dwindling with each release. Case in point, Mika Miko’s completely uninspired entry with “Sex Jazz (Extended)” and the near fatal N-side cover of Black Flag’s “Bastard in Love,” a shame because I’ve heard good vibes in the past and solid endorsements from the Smell scenesters. Don’t get me wrong, I understand wholeheartedly this girl-group’s attempts at skeletal post-punk. Eeking out comparisons to Kleenex, Delta 5 and the Contortions is just, but it’s just not what anyone needs to hear these days, especially when it’s executed with such anti-enthusiasm, limply clinging to their strings vying for outsider status. Girls, you’re definitely not the Shaggs. This type of dancefloor skittle scrawl is dead, and “Sex Jazz (Extended)” is a fairly stiff nail in that coffin. Add a saxophone and the wretch begins. If you’re looking for similar superior girly antics, I highly suggest the recent Nixe reissue, compiling the complete recordings of the Netherland’s first all-girl punk band. If you want to hear the opposite of that, flip Mika Miko over and listen to them desecrate the corpse of Gregg Ginn—for the sake of brevity let’s not even get into “Bastard in Love.” I’m waiting patiently for my Blues Control edition.
Kevin J. Elliott