While the availability of new titles in the LP format has been mounting a phoenix-like resurrection in recent years, the 7-inch single has maintained about the same low profile pace of new releases since the major labels' general abandonment of the format in the late '80s.
Since then, most new singles have been issued to serve only a few arenas. There's been the continued steady appearance of DIY indie rock, garage, punk and metal singles by bands and genre-dedicated labels. A higher profile variation of that is the Sub Pop Singles Club and its many imitators -- the instant collectible and/or genius marketing plan. Meanwhile, the majors did continue to issue hits for jukebox operators still using vinyl, a trend which is about finished now, and mostly ended up serving the collectors' market anyway.
7-inch releases in Madison have been relatively sporadic since the '90s. But despite the high cost involved in releasing a 7-inch -- especially compared to burning a CD-R at home -- activity has picked up in recent months, with releases by local, national and even overseas labels. While the easiest way for fans to find a copy is usually at live performances, many of these are also available in local record stores, and info can be found at band or label websites. Here's a guide to singles I've been able to track down, with information on related or previous vinyl releases and some previews of what may be coming in the near future.
The Hussy: Winter Daze EP (A Fistful of Records)
Madison duo The Hussy unleashes six high-energy garage rockers in Winter Daze, drawn from sessions recorded over the winter in the studios of Kyle Urban and Ricky Riemer and released via the Netherlands-based label A Fistful of Records. The EP was the first of two seven inches featuring released in March that features the band (the other is detailed below), and guitarist Bobby Wegner says utilizing the format was a very conscious decision.
"Ever since Heather and I started playing in bands we've always wanted to do 7-inches more than any other type of release," he says. "We're finally in a band that actually 'works' on a 7-inch -- the songs are short, gritty and to the point. And the 7-inch is the perfect medium for that. We really have no plans on releasing CDs on any labels in the near future, we're just planning on releasing 7-inch after 7-inch, though we can email mp3s to anyone who buys a record. We've got another one coming out at the end of summer on the Minneapolis label Big Action Records."
The Hussy opens for The Bell Rays at the High Noon Saloon on Wednesday, May 6.
Sleeping in the Aviary and The Hussy split EP (Science of Sound)
Science of Sound released of Sleeping in the Aviary's debut album on LP back in 2007. Their second album was CD-only, but now there's a new seven-inch EP, split with The Hussy. "Automatic (For Krol)" can be heard at their MySpace page, and along with "Radio Waves," showcases the guitar punk side of the band's nature. Their next show in Madison will be closing down the WORT Block Party on Sunday, May 17.
Zola Jesus: "Soeur Sewer"/"Odessa" (Sacred Bones) Releases by Nika Roza Danilova's experimental/electronic project Zola Jesus so far have mostly been on vinyl and on national labels. On their most recent single "Soeur Sewer," I actually like the hypnotic flip side "Odessa" better. Other releases include a currently out of print 7-inch on Die Stasi and a 12-inch EP on New Jersey indie/noise rock label Troubleman Unlimited; there's also a pair of solo singles on Sacred Bones by Dead Luke.
"7-inches were the natural direction for me," says Danilova. "I think 7-inches are a great medium for previously-unreleased projects. Because my singles were in such a limited pressing, they sold out in the major cities before they ever hit Madison. But I hope to keep repressing them so they will be available everywhere!"
Deep Shit and Have Fun split EP (Give Praise)
Released in conjunction with hardcore label and mail order outfit Give Praise, Madison's Deep Shit shares a 7-inch with Illinois band Have Fun. With eight tracks on one side of a 45 rpm, this is a fast moving assault of brief aggression blasts.
SFN demo EP (625)
On this recent Madison area hardcore release on the long-lived 625 label, SFN makes the most of the 7-inch format's time limitations by packing on nine songs and a bit of sonic experimentation at 33-1/3 rpm. The insert also includes the lyrics, helpful in deciphering just what these extremely intense and punishing songs are about. It's a slab of darkness on bright green vinyl.
German Art Students: 79 AD (Autobahn Music)
GAS celebrated their 10th anniversary of playing shows with the same lineup last November with this platter of their trademark off-kilter power pop, including the historically focused "Reginald on the High Bike" and "Pompeii" (previously reviewed in Mad Tracks).
The Midwest Beat EP (Dusty Medical Records)
After some delays, a spiffy vinyl re-release of The Midwest Beat's debut EP emerged from Milwaukee's increasingly prolific label Dusty Medical. Beat drummer Christopher Capelle says the group plans a single release soon on Milwaukee's Tax Return label, including the song "Bring the Water." Until then, you can grab the double 7-inch EP at upcoming shows, including opening slots for Richard Lloyd at the Frequency on Thursday, May 7; and for the Detroit Cobras and Dex Romweber Duo on June 19 at the High Noon Saloon. (Full disclosure: Though not a band member, I have been known to share the stage occasionally with the Beat.)
Gut Reactions: "Yer So Cruel"/"Happening" and "Jihad Blues" (Kenrock)
The Gut Reactions' "Yer So Cruel" EP captures the band's fuzzy, snotty punk quite well, clarifying the hardcore-via-garage rock sound of their first release. This latest EP is another local group released on an overseas label, in this case on Kenrock records in Sweden. "The owner of Kenrock really liked our first single and contacted us about releasing something," says Christopher Capelle, who also plays with The Gut Reactions. "We've got another 7-inch single coming out on Bachelor Records this summer as well as a song on a new UFO Dictator compilation 7-inch."