Dom & The Wizards – “Ana’s Little City”

One of the most consistently enduring Aussie bands around here has been Adelaide’s Wireheads. The band, lead by Dom Trimboli has worked its way through four increasingly discordant bouts of post-punk squall that have set them outside of much of their South Hemi peers. In a bid for tireless presence Dom’s also started a new offshoot of the band, dubbing them Dom & The Wizards. The tracks began as surplus recordings from Lightning Ears, but grew into much more. The band sees original Wireheads engineer/violinist Tom Spall come back into the fold, along with the guitar pyrotechnics of Caitlyn Lesuik and Wireheads mems Liam Kenny and Dan Heath.

The song is closely aligned with Wireheads’ latter day melodic wrangle – catchy, but curdled and hanging on the delightfully dinged vocals of Trimoboli. It’s a shaggy shaker that will find its way out via 7” and precedes an upcoming album. Of the recordings themselves, Dom chimed in, “I really wanted to make some music with Tom Spall again – Tom is some sort of magical-genius cartoon character. He recorded the first Wireheads cassette tape and he played violin in the band in its infancy. It has been a spectacular reunion. Tom connected two four-track cassette recorders together – an Akai and a Tascam. It helped to be able to bounce things back and forth between the two units – it essentially gives you more tracks to use. We had a Space Echo too. Vic’s basement has vibes for miles! Lots of cool gear and stacks of records to listen to in the down time. It was pretty much recorded and mixed on the fly as we went along.”

Check out a first look at the Alex Gordon-Smith directed video for “Ana’s Little City” above and keep an eye out for more madness from Dom & The Wizards soon.

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Blades of Joy

San Francisco’s Melter’s doesn’t embrace the kind of breakneck scheduling that some of their indie contemporaries keep. They’ve rounded up a tight roster of musicians who embody the spirit of their city and keep its pulse clicking, but the trickle of releases is capped at one or two a year. The austerity breeds quality, though, and from Tony Molina to Marbled Eye to Swiftumz, the ranks are filled with the match strike moments from some of the city’s best. The debut from Blades of Joy picks up this tradition amiably, with their eponymous album bleeding noise-pop from its pores, dredging up washes of Felt, and sense memory flashbacks of Galaxie 500 and Chapterhouse if they were further smudged by the sun.

The band swaddles their sound in a soft foam of feedback that won’t break, a fuzz that hesitates just near the edge of oblivion but never quite lets go of its last finger hold on composure. The anticipation of emotional spillover keeps the listener perched and percolating, giving the album a lush and luxuriant tension. They succeed in dipping the kind of jangle-pop that would find itself right at home on Slumberland into the shoegaze deep end of Creation and 4AD.

While they’re working with tried and true brushes, Blades of Joy reinvigorate the bliss that comes from melting their indipop in the sun. The album’s short but sure seven tracks evoke a lost, endless summer. Its the kind that exists without the heavy yoke of responsibility, lived without consequence in a blur of heat and haze and nights that stretch on forever. There’s a feeling that the record exists as either a fleeting moment never to be captured again as the band evaporates as quickly as they coalesced, or it winds up like so many Melters releases as the beacon to guide the faithful to Blades’ doorstep. Either way, burn or build, its a shining debut.



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One Eleven Heavy – Album Stream

As I’ve certainly mentioned previously, One Eleven Heavy comes stacked with a considerable cache of talent – roping in members of Wooden Wand, Endless Boogie, Royal Trux, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, and Ryley Walker’s touring band. While the players personal geographies run the span on the Hubeadian Map, drawing in both Coasts and dipping into the UK with Nick Mitchell Maiato, the band shares a unmistakable thread of Cosmic Americana between them. That particular strain of jam-seeded classic rock seems to have sprung up from the ground again in thick ripples over the last few years, reaching full maturity in this year of our lord 2018 and One Eleven Heavy arrive baptized in its blood and spreading the gospel well.

Like the crews of their cosmic brethren (Howlin’ Rain, Garcia Peoples, Wet Tuna), they’re hitting full stride with heady jams that hearken back to the years occupying the comedown close of the Summer of Love, with the ideals of the psychedelic era already starting to fade in the rearview and the amphetamine sweat of ’72 just starting to coalesce. The band strips back the stigma of extended time stamps while they work their way through a set that feeds on Levon’s legacy and elevates Little Feat from the sidelines of drive time radio. They channel the Burritos in their unjustly ignored post-Parsons years, while scraping just a touch of Gene Clark’s breakdown brilliance from No Other.

The record tangles the subtle twang of those raised on a diet of jukebox country crooners with the salt scrub of Western air, laying songs back into a pocket that exists somewhere between chooglin’ and juggin’ depending on how deep you want to dive into your own psychedelic pockets. For a debut, the record feels remarkably lived in. Fresh out of the shrink it already assumes frays and stains that belie its vintage, as if it can’t help but come from the plant with ring wear and a hint of basement musk. The band taps the telepathy of players that have shared stages far longer than their brief tenure – a testament to the individuals assembled – and one can only assume that each of the album’s songs is given a new life on the stage. On record, though, it shines bright as Orange Sunshine, an instant classic that should hook the heads who walked the lot and open up a new era for those who only soaked in the sun through Dick’s picks and regret.

While the record’s up on Bandcamp as of last Friday, and you damn well should have bought it already, its highly likely the rest of you are hitting the three spin cap, leaving you ostensibly out of luck until the record hits Spotify this upcoming weekend. However, for the next week, before the record hits streaming proper, you can get the full view from Soundcloud below. Don’t say we never did anything for ya.



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Warm Drag

In The Red trades in half a ton of garage that’s streaked by exhaust and choking on fuzz, but with Warm Drag they’re adding some dirt caked dance to the stable. Paul Quattrone and Vashti Windish roll the vamped and Cramped sleaze of garage’s past into a writhing record of mud-splattered garage-electronic. Samplers in tow, Quattrone is backing Windish’s snaking vocals with a hypnotic approach that coaxes some evil desert psych out of the wires. He’s talking up the Bomb Squad as a touchstone, and while there’s some of that unit’s high-octane collage work in the DNA, this is something grittier. Windish makes the most of the spaces between Quattrone’s apocalyptic-Western drags. She peeks from behind crumbling corridors of echo n’ hiss to coax the listener toward each song’s punji pit of ill will.

When the formula works, it’s a potent pill to swallow – dark and dirgey, the kind of tracks music supervisors looking to add a bit of edge drool over. The highs here hit the solar plexus with a delightful ‘thump,’ and the slinking sensuality of the record is hard to deny. Though, sometimes the sauntered pacing can weigh the record down. Its great to saunter, but when they do it too often the dust they’ve been kicking starts to stick. While the record could use a few more of those high huffers to balance out the creeping dread, it’s a nice shift from the guitar grind of ITR and a good mood setter for the dark corners of Autumn ahead.

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Axis:Sova – “Dodger”

Axis:Sova dragged their sound out of the lo-fi ghetto on their last album, Motor Earth, proving they had a handle on boogie-belted face-melters, but breaking through the veil of hiss that dogged their debut. The album still retained a good amount of grit, though, knocking fuzz riffs down with a sonic sledgehammer and indulging in lengthy psych workouts. The band returns for another round and this time they’ve power washed their sound even more. Their devotion to the less terrestrial among us (Hawkwind, Guru Guru) seems to have cooled. There’s still a boogie itch at work on “Dodger”, though, but now they’re burning clean, piping Creedence clairvoyance through the dry ice dirges of Wooden Shjips.

They pair the track with a dizzying video, employing Mylar Chamber photography, bending light around and through the band with kaleidoscopic results. The new album rises up on Drag City imprint God? November 16th, so be ready.



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The Chills

Second winds for bands can always come with a flinch. Will the band capture any of the magic that drew us to them the first time around? Will time twist your favorite songwriter out of view? Age has a funny way of changing the equation, just ask Smiths fans. So, with that idea in mind, when legendary Kiwi-pop forefathers The Chills returned with Silver Bullets after a 19-year hiatus, it was a rush to hear Martin Phillips still walking the lines between heaven and hope. The band was still braiding their jangles into biting hooks, still making lit-pop for the hopeless devotees of earnest intent. They proved that post-punks could grow up without wearing their past like a costume.

Not looking to lose more time, The Chills are back with another addition to their second coming and it’s continuing the quality streak they picked up a couple years back. Stuffed with new wave nods – neon cooled keys, a jumble of jangles and galloping rhythms – the record is a fine companion to Submarine Bells’ massive pop footprint. While age hasn’t pushed the pop scope of The Chills too far off of their original pedestal, there’s a lyrical lash at work here that might not have always been present in the past. Phillips looks back, not in anger, but with a skepticism, ennui and strained sadness. Snow Bound is coming to terms with the hope that a young band held and how short the world fell from those expectations.

The band has often existed as a South-Hemi counterpart to R.E.M. and Echo, albeit with a much more condensed catalog. Along with countrymen The Bats and Aussies the Go-Betweens, they guarded a pop vision that remained timeless while nailing the best hallmarks of the decade in which they surfaced. After decades of leading young bands to the right roads, The Chills are still building new avenues of their own. With Snow Bound, its clear that their legacy is on solid ground.



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The Holydrug Couple

Chilean psych-pop duo The Holydrug Couple have always taken a blissful approach to the idea of psychedelia. Their sound doesn’t embrace the attack of fuzz or anger of feedback so much as it seeks to strand listeners in a euphoric cocoon of dazzling light and sound. They’ve done so to great effect on their last couple of albums on a shoestring budget, turning bedroom sessions into gooey, sun-dappled psych-pop that begs the listener to get lost in its embrace. Now they’ve doubled down on the studio setup, looking to produce something of a ‘classic’ record with all the spoils of their Guitar Center sweep-up.

While they’re taking a nod at Beach Boys and Beatles in their reported intentions, in reality this is landing among the heather occupied by The Soft Bulletin and Heaven or Las Vegas. Everything on Hyper Super Mega shimmers, everything glows and turns to gauze rather than becoming concrete. There’s a pop center that might run on an engine of ‘60s and ‘70s giddiness, but once its processed through the band’s arsenal of augmentation its all dry ice and purple glows, like gaseous extraterrestrials trying to tune in Todd Rundgren on the console of a second-hand saucer.

It seems that 2018 is a year for bands to bring forth the best version of themselves and in that regard, Holydrug Couple can clearly be added to that list. Hyper Super Mega achieves the vision that they set out to bring to life when the Couple was formed, a vibrational orchestra rendered in absolute clarity. In a year that’s been tumultuous and feels awfully grounded this is a nice lift into the clouds of distraction and a salve for daily burns.



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Mixtape: Goin’ West

Been a while since there was a mixtape up, but these things take time and tenderness. For the latest mixtape I’m taking some inspiration from 2018’s slide towards Cosmic Americana. With albums from One Eleven Heavy, Garcia People, Howlin’ Rain, New Parents and Wet Tuna leading the charge back towards ’71-’72 I though it might be in order to round up some of those West Coast sounds that hit on resonant frequencies to the new crop of smooth players. While most, if not all, have already pledged allegiance to their own favorite boots of The Dead and there’s a communal love for Royal Trux, Little Feat, Crazy Horse and Levon Helm, I thought I’d scoop up some outer-stream suggestions to fit the bill. Ok, sure, I’m cheating a bit with the Flying Burrito inclusion, but despite a wealth of praise from any outlet that would let you listen, that one’s just a great song that fits the vibe.

Travel further down this roadmap of country-tinged, sun-soaked songs from ’69 on and feel the vibes slow down to a simmer for the end of summer. It’s not all West Coast -The Wizards from Kansas were actually from Kansas, Mountain Bus were from Chicago despite longing for the country – but each of these hits on that cosmic view of American psych that cropped up along the coast. It all winds down with one of the germs of the sound, The Charlatans’ “Alabama Bound,” a song that’s often been noted as being the proto-“Playing In The Band.” Artwork inspired by so many Grateful Dead bootlegs. Click below for tracklist and stream.

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Sauna Youth – “No Personal Space”

The recent album from Sauna Youth is a welcomed blast of bracing bile that chewed up wage gaps, gig economies, personal space issues and cultural collapse through constant distraction. The band’s ode to a bubble one’s own to have and to hold, “No Personal Space,” is a match-lit highlight of the album and thy give the track a DIY video treatment through lo-budget means, even leaving in the technical difficulties that arose.

The band notes that, “This was filmed in 5 minutes in the Peckham Arch practice space that we wrote the album in and whose electrical interference from the train tracks above features throughout this song. We used an iPhone 5, two iPhone 6s’ and an iPhone 7 using their inferior front cameras and it was edited in the free software Hitfilm Express in a couple of hours. It’s about constriction and liberation and having no personal space.” If you haven’t picked up the LP from Upset The Rhythm, now might be a good time!

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Molly Nilsson – “Days of Dust”

Some great singles have been trickling out of the upcoming Molly Nilsson album Twenty Twenty. “Days of Dust” might top them all, though. The song is insistent, built on a skipping-heart beat, but it’s also slightly laconic with more than a twist of wistfulness threading through her lyrics and a squint of sun soaking around the edges. Unlike some of the synthpop that’s popped up from the new album, this one is a pure guitar gem that’s a kindred spirit to recent albums by David West and Business of Dreams, capturing the kind of ‘80s heartache that’s always better in hindsight. She pairs the rose-tinted single with one of the simpler video setups so far, just some live shots, aimless and free as late summer. This one’s staying on repeat.

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