10.01.2014

Ausmuteants


Yet another Aussie band pulls a 2014 twofer that proves prolifically minded bands can keep up quality with their ambitions. Order of Operation, their second LP for the year continues their push towards jittery, bugs under skin synth punk that's one part Repo Man and one part belt-sander scuffed early Devo records. A deep, weary sickness permeates pretty much every inch of the record, and that sickness seems to be the core of their sound. They may be younguns but they have a sense of what they hate, and I can get down with that. They've deepened the lyrical load from some of their more adolescent humor on past releases to, if not completely adult, at least approaching that level. If you need more reason to celebrate, the band is hitting the states for a tour finally, bringing their uneasy noise to US stages.

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posted by dissensous at 10:11:00 AM 0 comments

9.30.2014

Premiere: Grace Sings Sludge - "Difficult To Luv" Video


Long a fan of The Sandwitches around here, its good to get some new music coming our way out of that camp. Grace Cooper's been making a few home recordings as Grace Sings Sludge and the latest lands at RSTB fave Empty Cellar. The first track from the upcoming Red Light Museum is a creeping, dusk laden track that builds from quiet musings to a tension strung crescendo. Cooper's voice remains the centerpiece aroiund skeletal guitar and drums, and as usual her torchlight croon lingers long after the last notes. The release will be out in limited, hand-dubbed cassettes and download over at Empty Cellar.

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posted by dissensous at 9:32:00 AM 1 comments

9.26.2014

Kevin Morby


Morby jumped out of the shadow of his former projects (Woods, The Babies) pretty distinctly with his first solo full length and he only lengthens his own shadow with his latest, Still Life. As with the first, the album takes on the shoes of wandering troubadour (albeit one with a piece of NY always in his pocket) and the songs have a kind of rambling afternoon feel about them. There's a spacey feel to the edges of Still Life, rooted in pop's strum but nonetheless hooked into the wistful watching of the sun sinking over the bay. Those twinkles on the water, the breeze off the bay, they all have their place on Still Life, but more importantly so do the passers by. It winds up as a postcard flipbook of characters that all seem to make Morby a hard man to pin down. Is it he who pines or is he merely echoing the wrinkles in a passer's brow? As with most albums worth their weight, the elusiveness remains its best quality. Whether its his pain or not, his ennui or yours, Morby captures it wonderfully.

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posted by dissensous at 8:32:00 AM 0 comments

9.24.2014

Grouper


Its hard not to be excited for a new set of Grouper songs, even if they are technically an old set of Grouper songs. Liz Harris recorded the bulk of this album on an upright piano in Aljezur, Portugal in 2011 with the final track reaching back to 2004, a recording she made at her mother's. The thing about Harris' half-remembered dream albums and her laudanum odes is that they all seem plucked just from the moment you smell the smoke of that cigarette beginning to catch the bedspread on fire. If Carbon Monoxide poisoning were a genre then a good chunk of her discography would fit snuggly in that box but its nice to hear her dissipate some of the haze this time. She's still wafting through the halls of infinite sleep, but now the clouds have lifted enough for Harris' voice to ring through; with just the dusk-light plunks of piano tethering it to land. Ruins has a rainy day at the shore quality to it, as if each note were just another raindrop in wet sand and in that, it remains gloomily comforting. Its Grouper cut to her very core, and at that core Harris still remains able to wither the staunchest detractors with a quaver of her voice.

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posted by dissensous at 10:03:00 AM 0 comments

9.23.2014

Purling Hiss


Flipping through the tracks on Weirdon, the scuzz and dense amplifier hate of Purling Hiss' early records seem like a completely different band. If Polizze cleaned up and went for a toughskinned version of indie rock on Water On Mars, he's gone practically bubblegum for its follow-up. Ok that might be pushing it a bit far but he's certainly knocked Weirdon into a pop corner and it seems to suit him just fine. The hooks ring up front, the scuzz trailing in the back or pushed to the sides. And there's a quick and dirty sheen as he moves out of the studio and to a more home recorded version of his new direction, which gives an air of the slacker 90's punk he's emulating rustling at the edges. Think more Guided by Voices ('round about Mag Earwig) guitar tones hung on Pavement sized hooks and you're getting close, maybe a little Replacements/Lemonheads twang for good measure. But despite all the aesthetic hemming and hand wringing, Polizze's laid down some of his best songs yet, certainly a fair chunk of Weirdon will stick in your head more than his S/T debut or Hissteria. It’s nice to see him grow into these pop shoes and really tug at those 90's impulses that just feel like home.

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posted by dissensous at 9:54:00 AM 0 comments

9.19.2014

Step-Panther


Step-Panther have been bubbling on the RSTB periphery for some time, first popping up on that indispensable Lenny Kaye-curated Aussie Nuggets compilation and then with a smattering of their own EPs and debut. However, its their latest, Strange But Nice, that sees them finally tap into the pop potential that's been humming below the surface. The album was produced by Tom Iansek of Big Scary, whose own work met tons of acclaim last year both home and abroad, and his pop instincts seem to have unlocked the kind of offbeat indie that bristles with hooks throughout songs about Game of Thrones malaise, horror-schlock romance and perplexing odes to 60's comic staple Namor. Its hard not to smile during their slacker sway choruses, the oversized guitar breaks and jangle tug-o-wars or those croak-throated vocals that seem imperfectly perfect. Took 'em a few to hit me right but this one is landing pretty cleanly on the must play list for around here.

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posted by dissensous at 5:12:00 PM 0 comments

9.18.2014

Espectrostatic


Alex Cuervo refines his take on the John Carpenter / Goblin horror soundtrack formula, slotting himself next Umberto's quavering synth-punk and shooting the whole thing through with a motorik beat that gets the blood pumping. The Hex Dispensers alum previously wandered into the field of imaginary soundtracks with last year's self-titled LP and a few rough EPs that tipped toed into the dark hallways, but he seems to have spent the winter immersed in Death Waltz reissues and on a Carpenter movie marathon. The results push well into the creepy territory, but as with his checklist of influences the album stands alone on synth merits rather than needing imagery to bring the raised hairs on the back of your neck. Notably Cuervo also hits that sense of melancholy that permeates the best of those 70's analog sountracks, that moment when all seems lost and at least a few compatriots have taken the brunt of the axe. That's where Escape from Witchtropolis (not entirely sold on that title though) transcends being just pastiche and works its homage in the best sense of the word.

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posted by dissensous at 10:02:00 AM 0 comments

9.17.2014

The Frowning Clouds


Australia strikes again, with this Geelong group adding to the high-rise pile of catchy, crunchy, slightly blurry releases from the other side of the drainpipe. Synthesizing a love for Texan psych with their own country's historically off-kilter pop sensibilities and close neighbors Flying Nun's jolt of jangle in tow, this one doesn't fall too far off the pile of influences that have been making the Aussie rounds these days but that's no reason not to love the sunshine strut of Legalize Everything. The band's got a nice handle on those weird ticks that made psych nuggets stick in the crags of your brain. Couple the knack with a few rock candy hooks and this one should pad out more than a few playlists over the next few months. From the Small Faces echoes on "Move It" to the stripped down swagger of "No Blues" the band checks plenty of boxes on the indie psych form and they pull it all together in fashion that feels like a quick spin of the 60's dial. Maybe cut out the mid album psychedelic satellite cut "Radio Telescope," which seems to reach for the "we're spacey" vibe just a bit too much, but otherwise a solid offering.

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posted by dissensous at 9:29:00 AM 0 comments

9.15.2014

Wildest Dreams


One listen through the self-titled album by Wildest Dreams and its hard to believe a few things; first, that this is a release from 2014 and not 1974, second, that this is primarily the work of a man best known for bringing disco and house to the UK. But it remains true that Harvey Bassett, a man known for six-hour marathon sets that bounce genres with little regard to preconceived notions, has now broached the world of rock and (reportedly) with a crack set of session musicians and vets, crafted an homage to L.A.'s past transgressions and excesses. That's the story, though it seems likely that most of the instrumentation is his own and the band just a figment. For the most part Bassett's genre hopping slows here, but still shows a bit of its collar, as the album is rooted largely in grit strewn 70's rock and drizzly 'Riders on the Storm' workouts, but the occasional bounce of disco, and the ozone fried whiff of acid jazz can't help but creep in at the edges. Which is to say that Harvey recontextualizes the crate digging notions of flipping through past influences rather than just re-hashing 70's catalog heavies, and to a large extent he pulls it off well. The album works as kind of smudged painting of 70's heroes and for those of you looking to the re-released column here, this will come as welcome addition alongside those values reissues.

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posted by dissensous at 9:06:00 AM 0 comments

9.12.2014

Cool Ghouls


Ah sometimes the sweetest surprises hit you just right. Seems that RSTB faves Cool Ghouls have a new record on the way soon and it’s just what Autumn ordered. The band roped in a few familiar names 'round these parts, recording live to tape with Sonny Smith and shipping mixing duties off to Mikey Young down in Oz. The results are another dose of their West Coast psych, dipped in some sunshine jangle and dappled in three-part harmonies that glow like the embers of the last summer sun. The band still excels at plowing through the half remembered tunes of our youth, the tip-o-the-tongue shadows that feel almost like seeds of memory but are really just a beacon of light beaming backwards through the ghosts of pop. They tumble, snatching glances at the prime Beatlesque pop that flowed not only from the Liverpudlian legend but the host of followers that swam in their wake, feeling like a Nuggets collection all its own. As a result A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye is a welcome respite to you crate diggers and lost flower children looking for a place to rest for a while, light up the tubes and push some good vibes from the cloth-front speakers of a plundered thrift store setup.

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posted by dissensous at 9:36:00 AM 0 comments

9.11.2014

Dan'l Boone - "Mindface" Video



Drag City are about to release the pulsing, monolith that is Dan'l Boone's debut LP. A well founded cast of players, Charles Ballas (Formant), Neil Hagerty (ex-Royal Trux, The Howling Hex, etc), Nate Young (Wolf Eyes, Regression etc) and Alex Moskos (Drainolith), surface to bring life to some dub scrubbed panoramas from the eigth dimension. Its hard to sum up the visceral weirdness of this record but they seem to have done a pretty good job with the video for "Mindface." Check out the transmission above.

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posted by dissensous at 1:53:00 PM 0 comments

9.10.2014

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard


Wouldn't be a good year for King Gizz unless they were two albums deep, runnin' ragged and blowing minds on two continents. Thankfully, they are and it’s us who reap the benefits. After the mothership that was Oddments landed and the band made good on some US tour promises, they've got another one lined up for November (with a reported album on deck just behind that) and its finding an apt home at Dwyer n Company's Castle Face Records here in the US. The first third of this fuzz behemoth shows ample reason why they've landed in the scuzz center of the West Coast. There's a distinct blown cone vibe running through the first four tracks of I'm In Your Mind Fuzz and they play like a breathless suite one after another with the insistent chug of bass and that high wail of harmonica tying straws like a frantic shaman. Only after the radio fade static and jukebox plunk runs out the groove between "I'm In Your Mind Fuzz" and "Empty" does the band seem to take a breath and after seeing them perform these live last summer it seems that's just the point. After the tar and cinder clears though the band returns to their prism refracted soul jams, with some real cool water oases floating out the backside of this sucker. Oddments is a hard bar to jump and in that respect Mind Fuzz doesn't necessarily vault the wall but that doesn't mean its not kicking ass on a good many 2014 releases all the same and begging for some of your pocket change. If you're not locked on this Flightless crew, and to that renaissance brooding in the underbelly of the Southern Hemisphere, then it’s about damn time isn't it?

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posted by dissensous at 9:10:00 AM 0 comments

9.09.2014

Relatively Clean Rivers - S/T
Long since one of my favorites, but unfortunately this has been unavailable for sometime on LP and appeared on some dodgy reissues (Radioactive I'm looking your way) but now Phoenix has a proper reissue of this Phil Pearlman classic. Pearlman was no novice at the
time of this recording, having done time in Beat of the Earth and the great Electronic Hole but striking out with his own band assembled to bring these songs to life. The album captures a quintessential piece of West Coast folk-rock and is well within the wheelhouse of Grateful Dead / Byrds / CSNY fans but should do well to pull in Woods fans as well (notably their Woodsist sublabel Hello Sunshine is named after a Relatively Clean Rivers track). The record is dappled in sunny West Coast feel with a very laid back approach on the recording. Occasional forays into psychedelic effects pop their head 'round but for the most part it hangs heavy into the sunset on the mountains, field hippy bent. There are a bevy of reissues of obscure 'classics' from the era but this is one that certainly measures up to the latter day hype.

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posted by dissensous at 9:39:00 AM 1 comments

9.08.2014

Bitchin' Bajas


Bitchin Bajas return to the fold with another LP for their adopted home at Drag City, who are quickly fortifying their stronghold on the psych spectrum. As usual Cooper Crane and co make music of the drop out vibration and with a self-affirming self-titled 2xLP they prove that they're some of the best running the meditative channel. Buzzing synths as usual but the band have taken things to a whole new plateau and the album strings together in an endless haze that approaches a nirvanic quality, taking the band from simply analog wizards and pushing further into a blissful elegance that's hard to ignore. Perhaps some of this also comes from the band branching out of their synth comfort zone to supplement their tones with a swath of bells, field recordings and mystic vapor that locks listeners deep into the ether for a rabbit hole of psychedelic surge. DC have even put out a cassette version that comes with two sidelong "relaxation" versions of the tracks, which, given their original state means you better lock on the headphones and prepare for coma status.

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posted by dissensous at 9:49:00 AM 0 comments

9.03.2014

Earth


Earth's second coming has brought with it a bleak landscape full of burnt hills and meditative guitars reveling in the dust of dessication. With their latest, Primitive and Deadly, Earth return to the roots of their metal lore and push things forward with a harder edge than they've displayed in years. There's still the molten, slow creep of dread that's always accompanied them, but now that dread has larger teeth and a certainty to bite. Also sweeping in with the changes on the new album are the presence of vocals, a rarity if there ever was one within Earth's catalog. Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi shape two tracks on the album into, if not necessarily traditional songs, certainly something approaching a more familiar structure than the crushing instrumentals they've made their legend. But no fear, those changes don't diminish the power and heft that sweep in with Earth's nuclear winter, and Primitive and Deadly remains true to its title, a primordial growl with the fangs to back it up.

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posted by dissensous at 10:30:00 AM 0 comments

9.02.2014

Meatbodies


That Chad Ubovich has done time with both Mikal Cronin and Ty Segall (in Fuzz) should come as little surprise from the charismatic crunch of Meatbodies' proper debut for In The Red. The album's got more than a few touchstones that gave those two entrance to garage rock legend; hooks that reach for the rafters, enough fuzz to level an elementary school and controlled chaos via Eric 'King Riff' Bauer behind the boards. After a low key tape snuck out on Ty's GOD? records Ubovich swapped out Chad and The Meatbodies for the shorter handle and with it a broader spectrum and this set of songs that seem primed for bigger venues and long nights on the turntable. Meatbodies tend to wander through all the same frantic garage and psych touchstones of fellow orbiters Wand (who they've released a split with) and in truth both of their albums would make for an excellent road trip pair. Provided your road trip dipped through as many back country dive bars you could find, bedded you down under the northern lights and washed the day down with pop rocks and a whiskey chaser. Ubovich is at his best when all the knobs are twiddled to their furthest reaches, screaming skull on fire, face melting riffs and the psychedelic drive pushing towards that redline. Its certainly well within the scope of his compatriots, but just like them, the boy's got moxie.

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posted by dissensous at 9:27:00 AM 0 comments

8.28.2014

Bugskull


Sean Byrne deals in shades of subtle texture on his latest as Bugskull. His return album for Digitalis, sees the veteran producer layering gleaming streaks of noise amongst pastoral guitars, harmonicas, sax loops and in some cases primly chugging lines of bass. The result is Collapsed View, a train ride headphone trip that pulses through lush hills and dilapidated city centers alike with your eyes always squinting in the sun. Shades of transistor static and synth texture give the album a light Radiophonic feel but it never gets too heavy into the workshop sound experiments, rather it solders them onto its pulsing circuits and lets them break in every so often to crack at the odd beauty that Byrne has crafted in his electronic terrarium. The most intriguing aspect of Collapsed View is the carefully plotted sequencing, the character that's imposed on the album and makes it feel as if a flip book journey that was poured over to make it all work out just right. Byrne has obviously taken pains to not only craft each track as a standalone piece but as a larger component of Collapsed View and as such it remains hard to escape the album's pull once you've pressed play. But that's kind of the best problem to have, don't you think?

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posted by dissensous at 10:06:00 AM 0 comments

8.26.2014

Cozy


A while back HoZac put out a promising single by Cozy, wrapped in denim and packed with the edge of glam power pop that always hits the spot around here. Their ensuing album follows well on the promise of those first couple of tracks. Crackling like radio static between Slade cuts and the shimmy shakers from The Sweet, Button By Button is hard to put down. There's so much crunch and sugary pop that its hard to see how this won't crack you in half like a jawbreaker. Sure its locked in the '79-80 crux of power pop's heyday, but if you need to Groundhog Day a time period, why not keep things lodged in those sweet years when misunderstood love had a soundtrack that fizzed like this. Its easy to get over that unrequited crush that's been hounding your summer, just crank this beast as loud as possible and let the neighbors complain. You'll feel better. And isn't that the whole point?

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posted by dissensous at 9:51:00 AM 0 comments

8.22.2014

Acid Baby Jesus - Vegetable 7"
Just when you thought they'd never return, Acid Baby Jesus is back for another run through the grease trap. The brand of uneasy garage-psych came on full force for their previous LP and its good to see that even for this twofer they don't dream
of letting up. The a-side "Vegetable" has a bit of dirty sway to it but those lonesome keys bring it to another plain. The riff rips incessantly in such a good way that its hard to resist the charms of this Grecian unit. The flip gets even more sinister, echoing its theme of "Brain Damage" and feeling like a call to the gutter. The single appears again at their home on Slovenly, always a beacon for the grimiest of cuts.

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posted by dissensous at 9:50:00 AM 0 comments

8.21.2014

Kikagaku Moyo


Born on the streets of Japan and honed through time spent busking on the streets, its easy to slot Kikagaku Moyo in alongside fellow travelers Acid Mother's Temple and Ghost, though the latter may be a bit closer in scope, with the band folding a heaping dose of psych-folk into their otherwise heavy, rhythmic style. With three releases swiftly wrought upon the world, the band doesn't seem to be losing any time, and their latest Forest of Lost Children appears to be crystallizing their sound into a thrumming, burnt skies brand of dropout psych. While that release is still fresh from a May release, their first two albums see a US vinyl reissue via Captcha, making the whole lot of slash n' burners available domestically. The band's prowess lies in balancing their dynamic range, moving fluidly from sitar laced breakdowns to acoustic strums and locked pattern jamming. Everything about the band warrants keeping an eye on them, but for now Forest of Lost Children seems to be ruling the turntable.

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posted by dissensous at 10:15:00 AM 0 comments