Drunk Elk Under Neon Lights LP (Wormwood Grasshopper)
Nice full-length outing for Drunk Elk, perhaps the loneliest-sounding band out there today. They’re from Tasmania, which has got to be pretty isolating as is, but these songs really do sound like they were recorded a million miles away, off on some small tuft of land with nary a shopping center or coffee shop. I dug their 7″, but Under Neon Lights is even better, borrowing “I Want To Be Your Pet” off the single along with seven new ones, all incredibly delicate, strangely beautiful and occasionally unnerving. It’s kind of as if Pink Reason met up with The American Analog Set in an awkward first date – there’s angst and pain behind the sweetness. It’s almost kinda “emo”, too, although they clearly have a much closer geographical distance to the Xpressway label than they do to Bright Eyes or Indian Summer. Makes for great nighttime listening, particularly after enduring a stressful day… Drunk Elk are built for commiseration.
Mad Nanna If I Don’t Sleep Tonight 7″ (Wormwood Grasshopper)
More Mad Nanna, this time brought to us by the fine folks at Wormwood Grasshopper Records. “If I Don’t Sleep Tonight” might be my favorite Mad Nanna track thus far – the main guy repeats the title and is all thumbs on the guitar while some other band member recreates the sounds my stomach makes when I’m having trouble sleeping at night. Although it’s constantly on the verge of devolving into a Menstruation Sisters-style compost heap, Mad Nanna always hold the song together by one thin hair, capped off by a celebratory whooping of the crowd (looks like this was a live cut). The ostensibly untitled b-side is less to my liking – sounds like the group pared down to an acoustic guitar duo, strumming their basic chords like they just missed the bus and had an unexpected three hours to kill. Had I heard this track first, I may very well have never ventured further into the world of Mad Nanna, so thank God that’s not the case. On the strength of the a-side, and with acknowledgement of the b-side’s subtle charm, this one’s worth keeping too.
Stag Get Used To It 7″ (Disembraining Machine)
Imagine if Carcass used cookbooks instead of medical journals for their Reek Of Putrefaction cover collage – that’s what you get with Stag’s Get Used To It 7″. I could’ve gone for some gastronomy-based death metal, but Stag’s sound is equally cool – danceable, early-’00s post-punk that sounds like the best parts of Hot Hot Heat and Sleater Kinney collaged together in an attempt to resemble Kleenex. Powerful, pep-rally vocals lead disco-drum beats and needle-y guitars to a pretty nice result. Not sure if everyone is ready for “indie dance parties” all over again (we’re all too busy getting our “goth nights” started), but Stag make a pretty good case why certain styles will always work when performed by a select few. Don’t worry, Stag – I’m used to it, and I dig it.
Terrible Truths Terrible Truths 7″ (Small Town City Living)
Terrific post-punk from Terrible Truths, yet another cool new Aussie group. Four songs here, but I could go for an album right off the bat – they’ve got a vibe similar in spirit to The Slits and The Raincoats, but Terrible Truths seem a bit more subdued, like they probably don’t jump around on stage and wouldn’t be out of place opening for The xx. Kinda funky, but just because the bass lines are so moist and thick… it makes for pretty much the only funkiness I would want out of my post-punk. The two singers seem to sing most of the lyrics at the exact same time, and it really sounds great that way. I don’t know, Terrible Truths are doing a pretty specific thing, but they seem to have gotten it perfectly right, straight out of the gate. Did a little Googling, and apparently Bedroom Suck will be next to bring us some new Terrible Truths… I can’t wait.