Small Wonders #5

Haunted Castle/Megaweapon – Deathbomb Arc Tape Club split C-20
Deathbomb Arc
The Haunted Castle side of this limited edition tape brings out some highly infectious guitar loops that sound as if they’re constantly on the verge of sputtering out. You’ve got to love a group that takes its name from the original title of Castlevania. Kudos for that one motherfuckers!

Panda Bear – Take Pills/Bonfire of the Vanities 7″
Paw Tracks
Most people will be familiar with the first side of this 7″ as “Take Pills” comes from album-of-the-year contender Person Pitch. If for some reason you don’t have it yet, I highly suggest you put its purchase at the top of your list of things to do. All of you vinyl fetishists can be satisfied now that the LP version is officially out. “Bonfire of the Vanities” is a live version of a non-album track and was recorded in Panda’s homebase, Lisbon, Portugal. If this and Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Lisbon record are any indication, that city brings out the best in live performances. Those listeners down with Panda’s other project, Jane, will note the similarities in this dub-inflected b-side. Best to get this now before it goes out of print and you kick yourself at some later point.

Wailing Wall – For My Baby Brother 7″
self-released
The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this group was Neutral Milk Hotel. While main songwriter Jesse Rifkin doesn’t sound exactly like Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, his vocal delivery is definitely similar. While that factor is a detractor for me to music like this (I have the same problem with Neutral Milk Hotel honestly), it doesn’t change the fact that Rifkin is a decent songwriter that knows his way around a folk tune. The song really cracks open around halfway through when the backing instruments appear. I love the banjos on this one. The b-side “Nails and Wood” is more of the same. The religious imagery is definitely not my thing, but if you’re a fan of NMH, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, or Beirut you’ll want to track this down. Limited to 300 copies.

Fennesz – Plays 10″ reissue
Editions Mego (www.editionsmego.com)
A few months ago I reviewed the reissue of Fennesz’ Endless Summer that came out on Editions Mego earlier this year. Along with that record, <i>Plays</i> was another stone cold classic when it was originally released in 1998 on 7″. This 10″ features two covers, The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” and The Beach Boys’ “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder”. Often seen as the turning point in Fennesz’ career where his compositions went from abstract electronic noise to the relatively more melodic work on records like Endless Summer and Venice. Those looking for “straight” covers of these songs need not apply, the Fennesz versions are so far removed from the originals that they’re more like extremely loose interpretations. This is not to downplay the significance of these recordings. Christian Fennesz does things with these songs that the original artists dare not dream. This vinyl reissue is extremely sweet. I couldn’t give a higher recommendation to anything that would appear in this column than this 10″. Influential, essential, and absolutely beautiful.