All the News That Didn't Fit

On the Record

The Olympia Connection, Or Lack Thereof


The Numbness Is Just a Bonus

Hiphop City


Soul by the Pound


Incest is Best

The Rise and Fall of the N-Word


If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Tell the Truth Anyway

You Don't Own Me

Summer Lovin'

Stagger Lee

Music to Lose Your Job By

Boy, You Sure Can Take the Fun Out of Music


Stuart Braithwaite From Mogwai

Going to New York City?


A Whole N'other Level

Who Says Morrissey Fans Don't Get Laid?


Not Modest Enough

THOUGH THE NATURE OF THIS COLUMN might indicate otherwise, I'm no vinyl fetishist -- but writing about it every month may very well turn me into one.

Think of me instead as an explorer in the still-twinkling seven-inch hinterlands. And let me warn you in advance: I'm nobody's idea of a purist, of any sort. I also plan to keep my eyes open; although indie and punk pretty much own the format, a number of techno guys experiment with oddball collectible seven-inches, and "Greensleeves" still presses plenty of jukebox 45s.

At some point this column may expand to include circumferentially larger and/or technologically niftier formats. But for right now, we'll stick with the old tenet that less is more.

Beachwood Sparks "Midsummer Daydream"/ "Windows 65" (Sub Pop Singles Club, April '99)The only thing missing from the back cover -- six square-bubbled photographs of long-haired young men earnestly singing and playing their instruments, laid out like an old-fashioned, wall-hung, matted photo album -- is a paragraph by the band's manager about how the Beachwood Sparks are "the Now Scene, baby -- the youth are taking over the world, can you dig it?" (I sure can, man -- can you pass that joint over here please?)

Meanwhile, the purple vinyl inside the package contains, on the A-side, a likable early-psych pastiche that ends with weird orchestration and lots of backwards shit -- think of a hazier Apples in Stereo. But the flip is such a Byrds ripoff, it isn't even funny. (PO Box 20645, Seattle, WA 98102)

Freddy Fresh & the Beat Archaeo'logist: "Mr. Roachclip"/Silverkick: "Voyle" (Slut Smalls import)St. Paul native Freddy Fresh (nee Schmid) may never become as well-known as his colleague Fatboy Slim (with whom Fresh collaborates on the Eye-Q's 12-inch import "Badder Badder Schwing"), but his work carries a similarly goofy aesthetic charge.

His A-side to this split single is a cool little scratched-up hiphop joint (the title is a nifty reference to the Soul Searchers' "Ashley's Roachclip," a frequently sampled hiphop breakbeat) that sounds like top-notch DJ-mix filler.

Even better is Silverkick's side, a nutty (in both the sanity and Monk senses) piano excursion underpinned by tinkling noises and a subsumed beat that gets better every time I hear it. (Unit 4C, Beehive Mill, Jersey Street, Manchester M4 6JG, United Kingdom)

Luna "Superfreaky Memories"/"Neon Lights" (Beggars Banquet import)Luna is the band that Spain or Low or the Cowboy Junkies would be if they had more tongue, more cheek, and actual tunes.

Amazingly, Luna has managed to stick with a major label for the better part of the decade -- until Elektra, after paying for studio time, cover design, mastering, and promo copies for the press; convincing the band to include their killer cover of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine" on their tracklist; and setting a release date for the band's fifth album, The Days of Our Nights -- dropped the fucking band from Elektra's roster a month before the album was supposed to come out. (I mean, what, were the company heads suddenly disappointed that this perennial cult band didn't sell records all of a sudden? After seven years?) Which means the only way to get the thing is to pick up the prohibitively expensive import. It's worth it, of course, but could somebody please explain the thought processes at work there?

Meanwhile, the always-meant-to-be-import-only lead single -- which seems slight then sly, nondescript then indelible, in classic Luna fashion -- features a killer cover of its own: Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights," as played by a bunch of cockeyed-romantic, honeyed-guitar mongers. Who else would even dream of doing it? Underworld? (17-19 Alma Road, London SW18 1AA, United Kingdom)

Pavement "Spit on a Stranger" (Matador) "Carrot Rope" (Domino import)"Spit" may be the band's loveliest declaration of fidelity to date, "Carrot Rope" their silliest joke since the one-two punch of "Give It a Day"/"Gangsters & Pranksters" from the Pacific Trim EP three years back.

The B-side of both singles is the Bryce Goggin-produced "And Then," which -- sans Nigel Godrich's yawn-inducing atmospherics -- plays to the band's strengths as clear-eyed psychedelians far more adroitly than the cocooned-rather-than-enveloping album version. Now all they have to do is release "Major Leagues" as a single, and you can skip Terror Twilight altogether. (Matador, 625 Broadway, NYC, 10012; Domino, PO Box 4029, London SW15 2XR, United Kingdom)

The Sea and Cake: "Window Lights"/John McEntire: "Setup for Bed" (Hefty)Still wondering how to get a toehold on all that post-rockin' whateverthefuck goin' on over in Chicago? Try this smart, economical single. "Window Lights" won't set anyone's world on fire, but its tinkling chimes loop centers some gently off-center drumming that falls somewhere between funky and dreamy. (Drunky? Freamy?)

There's words, too, which as we all know (sniff, sniff) is beside the point -- and logically enough, the flip abjures them altogether. "Setup for Bed" finds Tortoise mastermind McEntire giving up some gratifyingly focused ambient tuneage. (Too-many-cooks syndrome, perhaps? No wonder I've never been able to totally get into that band.)

It's as appealingly slinky as indie-identified whatever-rock gets: a simple aquatic (guitar? keyboard?) riff over shifty beats, pealing synths and theremin, and a low-key "rumble" without a cause. (1658 N. Milwaukee, Suite 287, Chicago, IL 60647)