If you made it through the jungle of brackets and backslashes in the title, you’ll know 3 7inch shotblasts are the subject of tonight’s review. To get mathy for a moment, 1/2 of the sides belong to Columbus, OH’s Night of Pleasure, Tempe, AZ’s Soft Shoulder is responsible for 1/3 of them and Day Creeper, also from Columbus, accounts for the last sixth. All groups involved could be called punx to varying degrees, whether it's the lively neo-no wave mode of Soft Shoulder, the lo-fi, bent power pop of Day Creeper or the beautiful basement scuzz of Night of Pleasure.
The self-titled Night of Pleasure 7inch is everything I’ve come to expect from Columbus Discount: raucous, infinitely listenable, totally feel good music—kinda like what jam bands are going for but fail miserably at. The “auteur theory”-inspired track “Godard vs. Truffaut” opens the record. Distorted unintelligible, though probably clever, vocals, guitars steeped in static and a rhythm section with just the right touch of sloppiness. The awesome chorus has flashes of “Whatever Happened to Pong?”, the old Frank Black tune, if yr familiar with that. “Caesar’s Palace” pushes the needle even further into the red, threatening to totally subsume the vocalist’s caterwaul in a downpour of feedback. It almost sounds as if the entire band is running through the same dying fuzz pedal and it’s a wonderful, hissy hulking mess. I thought that side was my favorite until I flipped the record and heard “Bitch Pitch”. This side is pure, sticky ear candy but dropped in the dirt and slightly melted due to harsh solar rays. There is an awesome guitar break, an awesome bridge, an(other) awesome chorus, an awesome verse, and an awesome thumping outro. [Not necessarily in that order] It is just the pinnacle of this kind of shit—it can’t get any better. Listening to this record makes me want like 20 more records of this ilk (and quality) but I have no problem redeploying the needle every time it hits the end groove. You need this.
Two more Night of Pleasure tracks appear on their self-released split with Day Creeper. “Spasm Chasm” opens with an extended intro before lurching into a pretty angular scrape and smash affair before dismantling again and lurching to a stop. “Hipster Downgrade” has a bit more in common with the self-titled record in that it’s a pretty straight ahead, no nonsense, mega-catchy track though there is some brilliant, broken speaker madness near the end breaking up the flow nicely. Night of Pleasure sounds… dare I say it, more sophisticated on this release. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by that but they sound simultaneously more refined and more ready to swim against the current and deconstruct their songs a bit. On the flip, Day Creeper answers with two tracks. “And How!” distinguishes itself from the previous side with a kind of bubblegum garage sound (and with a glockenspiel!). It reminds me a bit of one my favorite Portland groups Exploding Hearts (r.i.p.) but less conscious of/preoccupied with the history of modpunk. “My Blue Screen” is great and bombastic, with some tremendously expressive vocals and anchored by a crunchy Farfisa type organ. Really wonderful chorus that acts on a much grander scale than you’d think the lo-fi production could facilitate.
Hit Single comes classic style, 45rpm with those big annoying holes in the middle that make you look for that little adapter/spacer thing for the middle of yr turn table. I don’t mean that to sound negative though, cause it matches my old Beach Boys singles (cool!) Anyhow, the A-side is titled “Mary Ann”, right away yr dropped into some kind of loose limbed free jazz jam before the drummer signals to get things goin’. A female vocalist sing-speaks to Mary Ann—whoever that is—amongst steady drums and a monster four-note guitar riff before an awesome little sax solo at the very end. The track is way too short but I have to say that the guitar tone is one of coolest I’ve ever encountered. It’s a radio tower broadcasting thunderous, speaker ripping Velcro fuzz. A totally amazing sound. “Temperary” is on the B-side and features all the elements from the previous side but smashes them all together at once. There is a lot more saxxxing which I’m loving and, after a riotous refrain, another free jazz breakdown pops up this time in the middle. It has an odd fairytale type feeling like a detour on yr way to Neverneverland or something. It’s cool though. The guitar leads the charge to bring back the earlier refrain one last time before cutting the power.
The first two 7inchs come packaged in photocopied sleeves with inserts and the Soft Shoulder one features a seriously superb splatter job and an insert as well. All records are still available which is really nice. Night of Pleasure and Hit Single are available for cheap through Columbus Discount and Gilgongo, respectively. And the Day Creeper/Night of Pleasure album is available from the artists’ myspaces as well as a few distros.