First Base, Cheap Time, The Mantles

Derek Evers

When last we left you lot, summer was just starting to peek her head around the corner. But now, everything's blooming and we're in full swing, with more brats, beers and boat shoes than you can shake a beach ball at. In that spirit, each of this week's singles are good vibe summertime smashes just waiting to soundtrack your woozy nights of alcohol-fueled whimsy. If there were any justice, they'd all be blaring from FM radios across the country, making their creators rich in the process, but alas, they are, by and large, toiling under the radar, so make sure to run out and grab their wares and further fund their poptastic endeavors.

Getting the ball rolling this week is the first single from Toronto's (pure speculation on many people's part) mysterious/elusive combo First Base, “I've Got a Girl” b/w “Nobody Makes My Girl Cry But Me” on Pizza Party Records. They remain shrouded in mystery, but the fact that they sound an awful lot like Eric & The Happy Thoughts may be an indicator of their true identities. Alas, everyone involved is keeping mum, so all we have to go on are these two completely awesome sugar-shake pop songs that jingle and jangle their way — each taking no more than two-minutes — into your heart. I suppose there's some bit of narrative if you go from A-B – boy gets girl, boy makes girl cry, fantastic '60s-inspired pop ensues. Let's hope we get another breezy blast from this lot right quick. Still available direct from the label or your favorite distro-type joints.

The sun is blazing heavy in the Memphis sky as we come upon our next single, the new offering from the mighty Cheap Time, “Woodland Drive” b/w “Penny and Jenny” on the ever-dependable In the Red Records. It might be the cough syrup talking, but damned if Novak's stuttering delivery on “Penny and Jenny” isn't redolent of, strangely, Joey Ramone on “I Wanna Be Sedated”. Mind, that's the only similarity between the Kings of Queens and this Memphis firebrand, as the rest of the tune is the type of gorgeous, sparkling power-pop that Big Star would be proud to call their own. The A-Side is a crackling bomb pop of hooks, riffs and a deadly chorus and bodes more than well for their upcoming full-length. Limited to 1000, but still available from ITR and at a clutch of well-heeled distros.

Our final confectionery treat this week comes from S.F.'s paisley-pop wonders The Mantles, “Trust” b/w “Secret Heart” on the venerable Mt. St. Mtn imprint is a prelude to their forthcoming Siltbreeze full-length, due out sometime this summer. If these tracks are indicative of what to expect on the aforementioned LP (recorded by Greg Ashley of the Gris Gris, by the by) then we may have an album-of-the-year contender on our hands. Both songs have an authentic shaker-mystical quality about them, like lost outtakes from some high-rise session from '68, with buzzy, cranked-off guitars swirl through pools of molten melody and breathy-sweet vocals float atop the whole thing. Limited to 300 with gorgeous hand-screened covers, these MAY be sold out from the label, but hit their site and get at them if you are interested.

Hopefully you've enjoyed this undeniably Summer-themed batch of singles this week, and we've got plenty more surprises in store for you in the coming weeks. So make sure to stay tuned, and keep the thermostat cranked to “Arctic Chill” — you'll thank us later for both.

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