Friday, April 22, 2011

Harbor Lights / Ribs split single on Power Records

Sam Martineau actually ended up sending me a couple different sleeve versions of this single from Power Records along with a super nice handwritten note about both bands. I still think it's funny that singles are not only a nostalgic format, but they compel bands and labels to still actually write something with a pen and paper. You remember those? Arcade Fire's latest album is all about them.

It sounds like Sam was behind the initial concept to get these two bands together and produce one of a kind handmade original art for each sleeve, an endeavor I wonder if he has plans to continue, this being the first single of it's kind in this series. (?)
Harbor lights has the A-Side track, 'The Price is Right'. They play their 3 guitars to pretty epic heights in this power pop movement. Soaring multiple guitar melodies from the minute the needle hits the record. The layers and layers work in tandem like Copper Blue. The song is all climax, once it opens up, about 3 seconds in, it stays in this rapid fire mode with Robins layered vocals speeding along. They're pushing this complex track along without pause, guitars falling in and out of sync with each other creating one hell of an impenetrable melodic wall.
There's no chorus, it's one long verse, over before it began, but you still have to play it a few times to grasp on to those things that slipped through last time. The bridges and repetition.
Is there such a thing as math-pop?
The band Ribs on the B-side is a collection of guys from all over the midwest, from bands like the MEANS, Love story in Blood Red, White Hassle and Beat the Devil among others.
This track, A Red 1, has a kind of angular heavy hitting off rhythm blues inspired feel. Jason on lead vocals has a gravely Hamilton Leithauser from the Walkmen sounding delivery. The lead guitar here is pushing this great canned distortion through a metal barrel with the cone opposite the mic, working against a treble heavy jangle electric. Jason works out a super original melody over the loose funk time rhythm that separates other kinds of experiments in timing like this.

Sam's art that accompanies the record is heavy hand painted cardstock, I had to look closely, thinking it was some kind of adhesive tape. Right away when you pick this up you're aware that someone went to a lot of trouble to put this together. It's also maybe echoing the angular jagged directions, the precise sounds each of the bands are making. and upon closer inspection there's an awful lot of heart and hard work that goes into these cover pieces. Like Peter Halley's circuits or Aakash Nihalani's public tape work, it's a cool idea to put it all together in a form that I can appreciate: the 7" single.

Here's hoping Sam has another 500, hand made, hand numbered, hand labeled singles in him.

Check out a bunch of work and pick up this single from both of these bands over at Power Recordings

Holy Christ, go read this much more informed 7" review by a real writer, Doug Mosurock at Still Single. Any band would be damn lucky to have praise from the man himself like this.


  1. Joachim3:49 PM

    Thanks for the review! The link you have here for Harbor Lights is for a different band with the same name. I bet they're awesome, but they didn't play on the 7". You can hear other tracks from the h-lights that play on this record at

    -Joachim (Ribs, Harbor, Power)

  2. Joachim,
    Should have known better than to go with the myspace link, and not the label. I think I got it right this time.