Jigsaw Records is one of my favorite mail order shops online today. It never fails, whenever I browse their site I’m able to find somewhere between a handful and a crate-full of records and CDs that I’d love to have in my collection. But not only does Jigsaw have a great selection of new and used indie pop… But Jigsaw isn’t just a mail order, they’re also a label with a simple goal: release music that we like and keep prices low for everyone. Their CD releases are $5 and will stay in print indefinitely. Jigsaw is run by Chris from IndiePages, which pretty much guarantees you a great selection of music. Anyway, I was thrilled when Chris e-mailed me about Jigsaw’s current and upcoming releases & have finally had a chance to sit down and sort my thoughts out about them.
Goblin Universe, True to Nothing
Goblin Universe was active during 2000/2001, self-releasing a CD-R and 7”. True to Nothing collects both of these releases and adds a previously released comp track as well as two previously unreleased songs. These songs have a warm-home recorded sound, fuzzy vocals, and power chords. Superchunk’s 2-CD set of demos and rarities, Cup of Sand, came out in 2003. I was still in high school and I bought it right away from the only record store in town that was selling it — a place that specialized in metal and hardcore, but occasionally bought punk and indie stuff. It was in what my friends and I called “the Punk Rock Strip Mall.” Home of Ohio Surf and Skate, Gen X Tattoo, and Tie-Dye Sky, which sold bongs, incense, and paisley tapestries. Though the songs on here are A) not written/recorded by Superchunk and B) pre-date the release (if not the recording) of Cup of Sand by a couple of years, they remind me so strongly of that collection that I can’t help seeing myself at 16 listening to “Detroit has a Skyline.” True to Nothing is out now on Jigsaw Records, you can pick up a CD for $5 and an LP for $15. My favorite tracks: “Comet,” “Wet Lips,” and “Don’t Carry On.”
Spraydog, Impress and Defend
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s Spraydog has a lo-fi punk rock sound that’s equal parts melodic and dissonant. They remind me of something you might come across on a Teenbeat comp (the female vocals on “Trading Zeniths” remind me a bit of Tuscadero, while the band’s overall sound is not unlike Unrest*.) “Polaroids Not Portraits,” the albums opening track, is a gorgeous hazy punk-pop song — definitely one of my favorites on the album. I also love “Captive Hearts” with its dual male-female vocals is another winner. The songs on this album inhabit a range — some are straight-up pop songs while others sound heavier, more dissonant sound. I tend to prefer the album’s poppier songs, which are dispersed nicely throughout. Impress and Defend is available from Jigsaw on CD only. You can get it by itself for $5 or you can purchase it as a part of the Spraydog box package, which gets you all 6 Spraydog CDs for $20.
Premise Beach, At Promise Beach
The scratchy vocals on “Sidewalk Girl,” the third track on At Promise Beach are what drew me into this release from Premise Beach. They had a rawness to them that reminded me of Be Still by Carrie Nations (one of my favorite punk albums, I wrote about it here a few months ago.) I don’t know that I would drawn any further comparisons to Be Still, though — there’s something else happening on this album, occasional hand-clapping, squiggly guitar lines, warbling vocals that sometimes remind me of Feargal Sharkey from The Undertones… At Promise Beach is available on CD for $5 from Jigsaw. Premise Beach has now disbanded, but this CD collects all of their recorded material & is a nice little artifact of fun, sloppy, at times awkward pop music.
The Gazetteers, We Are Here
The first thing that I noticed about We Are Here was the song titles: “Perennial Fringe Candidate,” “I Want To Be A One Hit Wonder,” “More People Should Resign” — all a bit self-aware and tongue-in-cheek. The second thing I noticed was the bouncy pop sound, located somewhere between mid-sixties AM radio and mid-nineties mail-order pop catalogue. My favorite songs on the album are probably “Monkees ’67,” a pop ballad about the pre-fab four’s yearning for creative control, and “Trapped Inside a Skill Crane,” a beautiful slower (at least, compared to the other songs on the album) pop song. Jigsaw compares them to Tullycraft and Jonathan Richman, two of my favorites, and the comparisons are solid. We Are Here has all of the sincerity & silliness that you would expect from either Tullycraft or Jonathan & though the recording was completed a few years ago, it sounds timeless and fresh today. Some of the songs on We Are Here also called to mind MJ Hibbett, who was reviewed here back in May. We Are Here is a forthcoming release and will be available from Jigsaw on July 27th. In the meantime, Jigsaw does have The Gazetteers’ Territory Songs, a concept album about the US, available for $8.
* Incidentally, I know that Unrest is playing a couple reunion shows — the Teenbeat website has a news item saying that Unrest is “touring” in July — I wonder if this refers to the reunion shows that have already been played/announced or if there will be more. I hope there will be more!