Black Acid, Salem and Sharp Ends

Jason Jackowiak

The Singles collection, covers of singles from Black Acid, Salem and Sharp Ends

Singles covers from Black Acid, Salem and Sharp Ends

We've been on a bit of a hiatus, somewhat planned and somewhat not, but we're back to the old ultraviolence just in time for you to fill your stockings with some choice 7-inch wax platters. Blame it on the cold, icy spit that's currently engulfing our landscape, but dark and foreboding is the name of our game this week, and we've got a trio of bands that do their shadowy forebearers proud. Let's get back to it then, shall we?

Perhaps we're slipping in our old age, but we've just now discovered bedraggled NYC troupe Black Acid and their nigh-on sold out “F.U.R.” b/w “Glitter in the Gutter” on Fitzrovian Phonographic. Shocking that we hadn't heard a whole mess of ruckus about this lot, seeing as it features both Richard Fearless from Death in Vegas and Oliver Ackermann from A Place to Bury Strangers, two men who know a thing or two about volumetric claustrophobia. Though, to be fair, the two-tracks here aren't quite what you'd expect from men of their particularly pedigrees (i.e. ear-bleeding volume and gigantic studio sonics), but they set the controls for the dark heart of psychedelia, and wind up someplace far more foreboding–more of a Quaalude waltz as opposed to an amphetamine joyride. You can hear the more pronounced DIV influence on the A-Side, as swaths of reverb and FX engulf the tune's otherwise plaintive melody and Stoogian swagger. The flipside is an Adderall/organ-fueled magic carpet ride that recalls both Beggars-era Stones and Primal Scream circa-Give Out but Don't Give Up (which, some might argue, are one in the same). These are limited to just 300 copies in black-on-black silkscreened sleeves and can only be purloined at Pure Groove.

Black Acid, “F.U.R.”

Few bands have been pawed at/fawned over quite as much this year as electro-goths Salem, and their third single, “Frost” b/w “Legend” on Audraglint, follows up a pair of instantly sold out 7″'s on hot shit overseas imprints Merok and Big Love. Everybody's waiting for this crew to unveil a full-length, but in the meantime, the A-Side here lives up to its moniker, with a phalanx of icy synths descending down the mountain trail one blazed by Gary Numan and Sisters of Mercy. It's the flipside here that really shines, as they dial it back a bit, allowing gorgeous washes of dreamy synths to lead the way, with restrained drum programming providing a subtle-yet-effective backbeat for their gossamer lovetales which, could pass for a lost gem from 4AD circa '84. Remarkably, still available direct from the label, but who knows for how long.

Salem, “Frost”

We end this week with the frostbitten post-punk ruminations of Calgary's Sharp Ends and their “Northern Front” b/w “Ghosts of Chance” on the venerable HoZac imprint. One of the best exports from the Great White North in quite some time, we reckon this lot are far better than Little Girls, whom, it would seem, everybody is losing their shit over, as their knotty post-punk is flavored with an effervescent melancholy that lifts them above the pack of otherwise unrecognizable Chameleons wannabes. The A-Side demands that you “stay home tonight,” as the band sets about the business of creating a more insular version of the Factory Records sound (assumedly, with no Hacienda), yet that's delivery is no less urgent or outraged. “Ghosts of Chance” is proof that, even at this early stage of their development, Sharp Ends are already masters of channeling anxiety and paranoia into crystalline slices of dour pop thrills that never forsake mood for forward motion. Still available direct from the label and most good stores/distros around the globe.

Sharp Ends, “Ghosts of Chance”

We can't lie, it was nice to have a bit of a break but it's a thousand times better to be back, so make sure to re-direct your browsers here for more weekly ear-pleasing hijinks.

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