June Singles Round-Up, Part 1
by Kevin J. Elliott

There’s no better way to attack my ever-growing pile of records than to dive right in, with no pretense to guide my opinion. For the next two weeks, Primitive Futures will step back from the labels that consistently feed our mailboxes with quality work, and focus on the outliers who only throw a single out every few months. I’ve come to find this a productive way to spend a Monday night, and an opportunity to find some truly diverse acts (and intriguing singles) from the world’s fringes.

Grace Basement, “Broke-Up Man” (Eastern Watts)
It’s not exactly clear where Eastern Watts is operating from, but they do claim offices in Columbus, New Orleans and St. Louis. The finest release the label has brought so far is Grace Basement, helmed by Eastern Watts CEO Kevin Buckley. Were you to listen to this, starting with the B-side, you’d likely shuffle Grace Basement away with the wide sea of My Morning Jacket/Sweetheart of the Rodeo clones that have survived the demise of No Depression-era rackets. Flip it, and you’ve got the title track, a shimmering slice of pop over Casio beats. Buckley and crew (apparently now defunct) sound fond of the Beck who made Mutations, only their slapdash is more refined and with less shtick. I’d mention an underrated outfit from the ’90s like Creeper Lagoon, but it would be lost on many. Still, it’s better to imagine Buckley more influenced by Lindsay Buckingham rather than a $3-bin compact disc collecting dust. Eastern Watts is also associated with another underrated band, the Sun, who had a huge penchant for those types of quirky and deviated pop gems, so Grace Basement makes sense. I could soak up “Broke-Up Man” all summer if you let me. Once you know where Buckley is coming from, then it’s easier to accept the folkie blues of the finale, “I’ve Got Some Good News,” where even in that darkness, it gets as grand as Grace Basement’s anthem.

Terrible Feelings, “Impending Doom” (Sabotage)
Sweden in a post-Hives, post-Hellacopters void hasn’t been able to replicate those glory days. Terrible Feelings look and portend like they’re stomping in that middle ground somewhere, but aside from volume and speed, they sound nothing close. You’ll either love or hate these two songs. On one side of your conscious, you can convince yourself “Impending Doom” is a relic of proto-metal recently discovered. On the other, it’s an odd blend of proto-prog, manning epics like Rush in a garage band, though influenced by everything from hardcore to the Futureheads. It’s a mix that’s a bit overwhelming to swallow. Amplify matters with a dual-vocal attack from Anton and Manuela, and things get even more confusing. As I write this, I’m torn as to if this will ever get played again. It’s certainly not terrible, but am I too old to enjoy this? Whatever the feelings, by the end of the even more frenetic (and operatic) “Death to Everyone,” there’s at least a sense that the group’s ramshackle doomsday punk is something along the lines of similar Scandinavian all-or-nothing explosions like Iceage and the Cola Freaks. Terrible Feelings are a band you need to hear at least once.

Lo-Fi Jerkheads, In Your Stereo EP (Slovenly/Black Gladiator)
With a little research, I’ve come to find out that the Lo-Fi Jerkheads (worst name ever) are the project of one-man band Vex Ruffin. It’s hard to tell if Ruffin thinks this is purely a joke or that he can churn out lo-fi goo-goo muck “better than you.” Whichever, this is pure garbage. It’s infinitely amateur and obvious, and while that may be the case, there’s not even a chance to snicker at this trio of slop. Ruffin assembles his half-assed punk with Garageband and broken down samplers and even that does little to help. I’m under the impression the Lo-Fi Jerkheads are more influenced by the Primitive Radio Gods’ “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth,” than any real slab of punk rock. There’s a truly unsettling generic alley of goth grind that makes one wonder why Wax Trax ever existed (the label, not the store). It might be better if the guy imagined himself as South American rebels way into Nirvana, but it’s really a guy with no good sense in California. Please kids, go listen to Los Llamarada if you want the real thing.