The HHBTM team has sent me two lovely little packages in the past few months, the second of which arrived just last week. I figured it was high time to give them coverage… in list form! HHBTM, if you’re not familiar with the label, is short from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, and they’ve released several favorites over the years; bands like Patience Please, Fishboy, The Superions, Bunnygrunt, Casper And The Cookies, Velcro Stars and Eux Autres. Their singles club even includes the likes of Apples in Stereo and Of Montreal. Not to mention, the crew plays a major part in Athens Popfest.
In visiting the release page for Orca Team’s Vancouver B.C., I couldn’t help but smile at the words on the page: 500 copies pressed with download code with a one color silkscreen sleeve printed on strathmore cotton rag paper. Not only are these releases limited print, great thought has gone into packaging to the extent of paper selection. Now that’s quality!
Before we get on with it, a quick FYI. Other than the great singles listed below, HHBTM also has two new full-lengths ready to enjoy: Classic Creeps by Fishboy and Seniors And Juniors Strikes Back by Marshmallow Coast.
So, now on to the new singles, in no particular order…
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Vancouver B.C. by Orca Team
Portland’s Orca Team takes Interpol-like vocals down the lo-fi road and backs it with twee pop melodies. “Vancouver B.C.” sets up the single nicely with catchy vocals that leads straight into my favorite on the seven-inch, “No Fun”. It and the final track, “Take My Hand”, are from the band’s Fever Session. The guitars jangle and ring with the fervor of 60s pop while the bass-lines often carry just as much melody with the feel of the surf. This is the same sound you’d expect from a K release; yes, Orca Team is a band you simply must check out!
Download: “Vancouver B.C.” by Orca Team
[audio:110411-orca-team-vancouver-bc.mp3|titles=Vancouver B.C.|artists=Orca Team]
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Modern Times by Eureka California
I love the title “Baby, I’m Your Garbage Man”. It’s the first song on the Eureka California single’s B-side. The heavy guitar strums span the EP, from the acoustic (sounds like it might be a 12-string) on “Modern Times” to the louder, more distorted favorite noted above.
Download: “Baby, I’m Your Garbage Man” by Eureka California
[audio:110411-baby-im-your-garbage-man-eureka-california.mp3|titles=Baby I’m Your Garbage Man|artists=Eureka California]
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Summer Gang by Afternoon Naps
Seeing Afternoon Naps in the most recent package got me really excited. I absolutely fell in love with this band when they released the Parade LP back in (I believe) 2009. So how do these new songs stack up? Quite nicely, I’m happy to report. The keyboards stand out a bit more here, or at least the unique sound of them does. Vocals and lyrics follow the path set by Parade; they’re super poppy and have a hint of moodiness to them. But it doesn’t get too emotive, just contemplative. After a few listens to “Summer Gang” (A-side) and “Shortsleeves” (B-side), I’m really struggling to pick a favorite — I like them both. A lot!
Download: “Summer Gang” by Afternoon Naps
[audio:110411-afternoon-naps-summer-gang.mp3|titles=Summer Gang|artists=Afternoon Naps]
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Pretty When You Smile by Sweater Girls
This single by Sweater Girls made my Valentines Day list. “Pretty When You Smile” is such a great song, just as perfect for that summer fling as it is for the love of your life. It’s playful, bouncy, and insanely lovable. This is the second single we’ve seen from Sweater Girls, and it’s all a tease. Can’t wait ’til they give us an LP!!!
Download: “Pretty When You Smile” by Sweater Girls
[audio:http://fensepost.com/main/audio/110214-sweater-girls-pretty-when-you-smile.mp3|titles=Pretty When You Smile|artists=Sweater Girls]
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Mira Mija EP by Sourpatch
Four songs in just under seven and a half minutes, I’m finding this Sourpatch single a bit more memorable than their previous LP, Crushin’. That’s not because the LP wasn’t good — it most certainly was — I’m just absolutely loving the vocal hooks in “Deli Dream”, the rapid Boyracer-esque percussion in “Funny Inside”, and the opening guitar riff in “Sky Is Falling”.
Download: “Deli Dream” by Sourpatch
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Lead Balloon by Flash To Bang Time
Flash To Bang Time was the surprise in the first batch. I was expecting something a bit harder, a bit harsher. But no, these songs are wild fun and totally enjoyable. The harmonies in title track “Lead Balloon” are stellar and with that backing bass and jangly guitar, it’s just superb! Then it launches into the slow “Lemon Meringue” which, for some reason, reminds me a bit of the husband-wife duo The Seaworthies (who I’ve been dying to hear more from). “Shapeshifter” picks it up again and drops in just a hint of synth; the song increases in volume and power toward the end for a brilliant finish.
Download: “Lead Balloon” by Flash To Bang Time
[audio:110411-flash-to-bang-time-lead-balloon.mp3|titles=Lead Balloon|artists=Flash To Bang Time]