If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more good-natured willful incompetence, at least in the realm of noise rock, and not, y’know, governance. We’ve had enough incompetence in that area. Thankfully, the world is also where Germany’s Titmachine hangs out. Also thankfully, Titmachine is not and never can be the president (and not because they’re girls, but because they are Germans. I’m sure there’ll be a girl president some day. Maybe even in Germany!). Titmachine’s second single of ’08 features some more awesome Flipper-style nonsense, a thudding monolithic fury topped off with shrill German shouting. Their cover of German new wavers Palais Schaumburg’s “We Build a New City” attains a startling modicum of semi-professionalism, but “1989” puts that fear to rest. It’s like an imperial march collapsing in on itself. Now, I just have to remember to CTRL-F and replace the word “incompetence” with “primitivism” before sending this in.

LINK

In August I wrote about Zola Jesus’ first single, and although I was hoping to avoid repetition, I kinda can’t help it. She’s pretty darned great, y’see. Her second single doesn’t quite match up to that debut, but it’s still supremely spooky and fantastic. It’s great music for the New England winter, when the sun seems to set around lunchtime (um, hi, Athens; I live in Boston now). “Soeur Sewer” is prime Jesus, with a descending piano melody and soulful ghost singing hovering over a distorted industrial beat-box. Why, I would call this bewitching! The instrumental “Odessa” is a fine capper to a year of great music-making, but more self-assured noodling than notable songwriting in and of itself. If you’ve been thinking that US Girls or Inca Ore could be better if they were more song-oriented, then maybe Zola Jesus is some sort of mixed-up thought-caster. And I hope that I didn’t just make that comparison because they’re all ladies and/or psychics.

LINK

What global economic meltdown? Rob’s House seems to put out a new single every week. Among the Atlanta label’s most recent discharges comes this single from the French band Sonic Chicken 4, whose faithful take on ’60’s garage rock fits in well with the rampant Nuggets-aping that’s dominated Atlanta these last several years. Yes, Sonic Chicken 4 sounds authentic enough to be on a Wes Anderson soundtrack. The A-side “Midnight Girl” shuffles about amiably, like the Velvet Underground at their most traditional, with everything recorded just a little hot and a singer who can’t quite find the melody. About a minute or so in, a double-speed breakdown bumps the clock up a bit to the late ’70s before the band settles back into the song’s original groove. The band maybe could’ve used some restraint there. “Toe Man” is more of the same on side two, but shorter, more straight-forward, and probably more successful. This ain’t a classic, but it’s a fine four minutes of neoclassicist tomfoolery.

LINK

This band prefers to spell its name “caUSE co-MOTION!”; you know it’s got to be pretty good to make up for something so idiotically precious. I wouldn’t go overboard with the Cause Co-Motion praise, but these men do make some of the better C86-inspired shambolic indie-pop around today. This latest single, on the revitalized Slumberland label, is a pretty standard call from the Co-Motion playbook. The a-side, “I Lie Awake,” is the first of three slivers of thoroughly catchy, neoclassicist garage-pop, each one genial and well written enough to make up for the general lack of uniqueness. “Cry for Attention” varies it up slightly, slowing things down and ramping up the drama. This record sounds like the Television Personalities rerecorded Nuggets, or, in other words, a late-oughts band channeling mid-’80s interpretations of popular music from the ’60s. But that’s pretty much all rock and roll is anymore anyway, right?

LINK

Um, here’s some more Clean reverence, but less noisy than Times New Viking and maybe even better (?!?). I don’t know, but these L.A. dudes make an almost perfect impression on this here debut single. I say “almost perfect” because the title track, while still a damn fine rock song, is noticeably inferior to the endlessly enjoyable b-side “Pony People.” A tuneful chunk of jaunty pop with just the right mixture of amateurism and proficiency, “Pony People” is an instant classic. It immediately sounds like something I’ve loved for years, but without too closely resembling any other specific song. “Pony People” reminds me of the first time I heard Pavement or Nothing Painted Blue’s “Swivel Chair” or (um, again) Times New Viking; it’s an immediate entry into the personal canon of songs that I love. As good as “Carol Cloud” is, it just can’t compete. Let’s hope Wounded Lion has some more where this one came from.

LINK

Stay Awake, Times New Viking’s new 7″ EP, is the band’s third release since Matador made ’em into big-time indie-rock bidness. Thankfully, and kinda surprisingly, the group’s well-publicized sonic edges remain as rough as ever. TNV still buries its blissfully infectious organ-and-guitar-based pop songs under layers of grime and white noise. Stay Awake, like all of the band’s music, sounds like Clean songs recorded in a jet engine. This record’s a bit top-heavy with disgustingly great and hook-filled hits “Call & Respond” and “Pagan Eyes,” two songs that rank alongside the best stuff on the last LP. Side two drags the mood down at first, with the sluggish and inert “No Sympathy,” but a triumphant footing is quickly regained with the anthemic “Sick and Tyred,” the record’s final and best song. A lot of folks might struggle to make it through the (carefully cultivated) apparent lack of production value, but anybody who can handle a bit of fuzz (and especially fans of older Guided by Voices) should be ecstatic.

LINK

Brian “Brah” Girgus, a peach of a guy, has embarked on a one-man singles club of his own. He hopes to get several records out in the next year, and this one here is apparently the second. No idea what happened to the first, but this is just fine for now. Its two classic straight-forward pop songs, recorded cheaply but not poorly, resemble early Portastatic but with Girgus’ fragile, sensitive vocals replacing McCaughn’s chipper whine. Some notable dudes help out, too; a-side “Static on the Station” features tambourine from former Athenian and Master of the Hemisphere Bren Mead, whereas Love Is All’s Markus Gorsch (playing the Caledonia on Oct. 7th, coincidentally) drums on the flip, “Keep on Tryin’.” Good times!

LINK