This review was submitted by Noah Mino.
Two east-coast acts, The Ceiling Stares and The Super Vacations, share a west-coast sound and now a split 7″ record.
While Norfolk-based psyche-punks The Super Vacations have released a string of EPs and LPs since their formation in 2007, this split marks the vinyl debut of Pittsburgh natives The Ceiling Stares. And they take advantage of this debut, with the four-piece making a powerful first impression on the A-side with “A Tunnel Through the Air.” Two fuzzed-out guitars and a faint keyboard gradually build up the opening of the track, while a simple but strong Meg White-esque drum beat eventually drops in. The track picks up past the one-minute mark when hazy, surf-rock vocals eventually beam through. Think 90’s indie with a tinge of more cryptic Best Coast blasting in a garage. The echoing group vocals mesh well with the reverbed guitars and forceful drum beat to make this dreamy, beach-meets-nebula psyche-jam the standout track of the split.
The flip side opens with The Super Vacations’ more punk oriented track, titled “Hexing.” The track is less adventurous musically than what The Ceiling Stares contributed, but contains an energy which all but makes up for it. The vocals and guitar create a strange mix of dark verses and a bright chorus for a sound suggestive of The Horrors ditching the black leather (the organ, too) and hitting the waves. With this song clocking in at only two minutes, The Super Vacations have room for a second track, titled “Controller.” Opening with echoing vocals sunken beneath distorted guitar riffs, the song features a sound reminiscent of The Jesus and Mary Chain at times. As was the case with “Hexing,” the dark crooning and aggressive guitar work steal the spotlight on this song.
Sound Quality: The sound quality falls short on the release of what we’ve come to expect from a properly mastered and pressed 7″. The record is pressed extremely thin and cut at 33 1/3 as opposed to the superior 45. The lo-fi recordings, which normally lend to the character of this particular genre, end up working against the sound.
Packaging: The packaging is as simplistic as it gets: a 14″ piece of glossy paper folded in half around the record and slipped into a plastic sleeve to keep everything together. That said, the album art, a creative angle shot of a colorful museum installation piece, is top-notch. The green and purple variants of the pressing compliment the art for a psychedelic feel. A handmade insert is also included.
Extras: Release duties for this 7″ were shared by two young record labels: Pittsburgh-based Velocity of Sound, who pressed 250 copies on green vinyl, and Brooklyn-based Sweaters and Pearls, who pressed 250 on purple
Summary: Psychedelic-punks join forces to birth a 7″ split saturated with a trippy west coast vibe and a 1960s garage rock aura. And although the sound quality could be improved upon, Velocity of Sound, along with Sweaters and Pearls, release a solid 7″ package. Sweaters and Pearls, in particular, is the brainchild of a vinyl blogger turned label creator, and actually make their inaugural release with this split — overall, a respectable debut.
Make Sure to Spin: “A Tunnel Through the Air”