Imaginary Icons’ Identity Crisis

Daggerman Records has had a good track record this year, thanks to releases by Blank Dogs, Dan Melchior and the Pizzas. Their model of modest quality doesn’t confuse Imaginary Icons, whose debut 12-inch EP (following a well received first single for the label) shows a band sure of their flex, but still sharpening their hooks even when you’re looking right at them. They find no shame in trying too hard for the microphone, whether they’re a post-Lynnfield Pioneers offshoot or fresh, young gentlemen, itchy and bored. There’s never a moment when it’s sure if Imaginary Icons are quite green irking out uncharted Wire angle-punk or a bumbling slacker-pop unit unaware and afraid to get un-stiffed.

“Mirror Panics” and “CCTV” introduce the band with two unfortunate flounders. Here’s where they try much too hard, with a forced Brit bark and perfectly steely riffs hanging from the wall at a slant. I’m of the imagination (and hope) that “Economics is Everything” is the real guise of the band. Despite it being a note-for-note of Pavement’s “You’re Killing Me,” it stumbles around a different space, forgetting the ‘90s as there’s no cutesy pity in it, just bright punchy obstacles the band revolves around with smirking glee. Even amid the identity crisis that somehow balances the record, even with the horns that thorn up “New Face of France” or the creepy cover art, a song like “Trace Yourself,” (a quirky attempt of the Knack doing Josef K) delights in knowing you’re hearing a promising group tinkering in the loft. Great packaging, thick vinyl, very limited—go forth.

Titmachine and Timewarps

Speaking of track records, with greyhounds, or cock fights or caviar, it’s hard to believe that Siltbreeze just now decided to make their “first foray back into the beguiling world of 7-inch vinyl since Sunshine Superscum’s Two Reactions EP back in ‘97. ” That it’s with a band from Amsterdam called Titmachine, a femme-filled trio who could easily exist in ‘97, ‘87 or ‘77, makes it even more beguiling. It’s quintessential Silt. The underbelly post-punk skronk of “We Build a New City” is the measure of Mr. Lax’s refined taste for Euro-junk, sub-messthetic singles you’d have never known existed. Titmachine scores a Scrabble touchdown cross-wording Shaggs, Crass and Stooges, pushing to win with that K and Kleenex. “1989” is Germanic/Dutch/English chant and bludgeon, obtuse to the point of causing the record to skip. Not as cheeky as the Flying Lizards, but with just as much clatter to reel it into cold-war exotica. I’d love video of when Siltbreeze ran into this sea-level cult—even if the first encounter was an e-mail in morse code.

More Vivian Girls for the Fix

Not to trumpet the Vivian Girls week after week, but with the slew of releases they’ve unleashed, it’s hard not to be smitten. About a month before the official re-release of their self-titled debut, In the Red has pressed “I Can’t Stay,” a tiny teaser that was obviously recorded around the same sessions. But these two songs (the B-side a cover of Daisy Chain’s girl-wop “Blind Spot”) are welcome additions, sugary sweet racket that is hard to quit these days, especially the title track which nearly becomes dismembered by the end, still retaining that crystalline sheen.
Kevin J. Elliott