"Between the Machines"
Since "cassingles" have, for the most part, gone the way of the dinosaur, there is only the beloved and eternal seven-inch record to house the hit singles of vinyl-savvy musicians. Because 7-inches are incredibly special--special enough to stand apart from a record--one expects that only the best songs are pressed on a 7-inch. However, on Black Heart Procession's newest, "Between the Machines" b/w "After the Ladder," it works in a different way. The songs are special, but they aren't BHP's greatest. Instead, they work inversely: each song is a dirge-y waltz, but on one side, the downbeat is emphasized by piano, and on the other, it's emphasized by guitar. They aren't the same song, but they work as negatives off each other, and they're both darkly pretty in accordance with the Black Heart Procession manner. JULIANNE SHEPHERD
Four Things 7-in.
(Simple City Music Company)
Cuspidor (the word James Joyce chose as the most beautiful in the English language) is Portlander Lucas Bernhardt's most serious project, and Four Things is a beautifully representative example of his craft. Lucas' fragile-sweet voice betrays his love of language through three doleful odes to absence and affection, replete with strumming guitar, sparkling keys, and lazy drumbeats. "Anthem for Nothing," though, is the crowd-pleaser, with its more upbeat rhythm and prancing organ lines. It tells the story of a party, that is suspiciously Portland-esque, where Andy, a newcomer, sits alienated on a sofa surrounded by failures of romance and junkie-chic fads. "It's hard to be a big guy when everybody's scoring" sings Lucas, in the heart of the song. Scoring with each other, scoring drugs? The song reflects the themes that run through Cuspidor's work: innocence, beauty, and the clash of encountering a world that at every turn would rub out such sentiments. JON WILLETT
Now, this is what I'm talking about. This four-song EP embodies the spirit of the seven-inch. Dymaxion is basically just one guy in his studio in New York, and you can tell. Every beat, startling guitar, smash of noise, and tinny knob-twiddle sounds like it's coming, unfiltered, from the head of one guy who needs to leave his house more often. That's probably not so good for him--a person needs a little sun-provided Vitamin D, every once in awhile--but it's good for us. Dymaxion's heart, as interpreted by a bunch of experimental noise (and a surfy-electronic song called "Theem Song"), comes off perfectly from the ticking of the turntable. Let us hail the complex beauty of the seven-inch record. JS