I’m not kidding around when I said that I had a backlog of reviews to get through! Internet technology (also known as my inbox) has fortunately allowed me to travel back in time to June 20th, which is when Drew e-mailed me about some (then) new releases on Solid Melts — a cassette from HORSES called Sincerely Jackie Chan & a free (free!) digital comp called An Empire of Fun.
The HORSES cassette is limited to 50 copies and sounds like a dream — literally. Everything seems filtered through a blue light, vocals are both distant and immediate and soft, looping background noises cocoon you in sound, creating a distorted sense of space and time. If you take a couple of minutes to listen to the songs available on their MySpace, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Sincerely Jackie Chan is 20 minutes of hazy, atmospheric song collages with moments of startling lyrical clarity. You can stream tracks from the tape on Bandcamp & if you like it, you can pick up your copy for $6ppd (or $9 if you live outside of the US.) I’ve got to say — at $6, if you like what you hear online, you really should buy the tape. There’s something particularly special about owning limited edition tapes, I think. And I don’t mean that in a snobby “collector-y” way at all — I really just associate cassette tapes with a particular kind of analog joy. Again, Sincerely Jackie Chan is limited to 50 copies.
An Empire of Fun is Solid Melts’ summer 2010 compilation & features tracks from Cloud Nothings, Vehicle Blues, Kevin Greenspon, & a whole host of other artist. So, here’s a confession: I actually listen to a lot of commercial/traditional pop music. Like, all summer long I’ve been making mix CDs to listen to in the car and my most recent summer jams mix featured Prince, Bone Thugz ‘N Harmony, and The Monkees. That said, it’s probably not hard for you to infer that listening to something like An Empire of Fun — which features songs that tend to be more about atmosphere than hooks — is a real change of pace for me. Some of the songs on An Empire of Fun seem almost Lynchian in nature to me (which is a hardcore change of pace since I’m regularly talking about how all of my favorite Monkees songs are written by Neil Diamond.) There were a couple of songs on here that really caught my ear, though. “Discover” by Coasting was a pleasant surprise — hooky with alternately sweet and aggressive female vocals buried under layers of noise. It sounds almost like a cross between Guided By Voices and Julie Ruin. “overpass” by Katrina Stonehart sounds sort of like a Jesus and Mary Chain song being played through a Yak Bak or a meat grinder, & “Ralphie” by Big Dogs is an unexpected spot of garage punk (complete with a whoa-oh chorus.) “Who Could Break Your Heart” by Lazy sounds almost like a lost track from a Berkley comp, not unlike something you might hear from The Modern Lovers. What I really appreciate about a release like An Empire of Fun (and I don’t mean this is a snide way) is that it’s free — anyone who wants to try it can & you can take what you like & leave what you don’t without feeling bad about it & then you have the opportunity to financially support the bands you did like by buying their other releases. So, if you’re interested, you can download An Empire of Fun for free right here.
For more releases on the Solid Melts label, you can check out their site.