Tim Presley’s White Fence

The most striking thing about the new White Fence is that its now come packaged as Tim Presley’s White Fence. Its an odd move for a band that’s essentially one guy. While the multi-bandmember marketing move of branding a band with a “presents” banner brings to mind infighting and egos, a la Eric Burdon and The Animals or Rod Torfulson’s Armada, here it seems to strike a connective tissue between Tim’s recent solo records, numerous collabs and his old standby White Fence. Tim’s on again, off again relationship with the name is, to say the least, confusing. Where does the Fence end and Presley begin? Is White Fence an affectation, or is it just a familiar branded beanie that allows him to bloom outside of the singer-songwriter context?

The answers are not necessarily forthcoming here, but a bigger picture does take shape. The beginning of the record dips into the piano-man ballads that Tim’s been slinging on the side. Then he douses it with a bit of the warble-wonk weirdness that he’s found with Drinks (his collab with Cate Le Bon). Before long though, its back to the ’60s strummers of yore. “Lorelei” wrestles with Presley’s inner Kevin Ayers, but its “Neighborhood Light” that’s the standout here. It’s the most proper answer to what White Fence really is – loose, jaunty, swingers that pick at the bones of John Cale, Arthur Brown, Ayers, Skip Spence and yeah the ol’ specter of Syd. More than just emulating though, Tim’s finding the webbing between the outsiders, and that makes White Fence an enduring prospect. Most of the names on that list, bar Cale, would burn out well before any sense of longevity would set in. Tim gives reason to believe that there was far more gas in any of their tanks that we, as a listening public, got to explore.

I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk is a further tumble down Tim’s costume box, breathing in the essence of the guitar freak grasping to translate fractals into fingerpicks without dropping down the acid-casualty escape hatch. Perhaps the best example here is “Until You Walk,” a crumpled tin tango that’s breezy and beatific – if the breeze was pulling downwind from a massive gas leak. Its hard not to find something refreshing in Tim’s insistence on not only coloring outside of the singer-songwriter lines, but adding several layers of touch-up to the coloring book in fanciful curlicue while he’s at it. Everything in White Fence’s world is applied n colors that can’t be ignored and refuse to blend in, and Larry’s is one of the most fully realized examples of that ethos yet.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Mozes and the Firstborn

The idea behind Dadcore – embracing rock as a medium in an era when its seen as a stubborn, antiquated, passé artform – is amusing, though I’m not sure that rock has been completely erased from the vital lexicon just yet. There are still plenty of scraped-knee punks, jangle-jilted Aussie youths, and depression channeling post-punks to keep the blood strong these days, though what’s on display here is a more specific strata of the rock canon. The touchpoints that drive the Dutch band’s latest album are decidedly “classic” in nature, pulling from a trove of nostalgia-ready ‘90s and ‘00s indie that, according to the band, should appeal to your pops, granted that, “you” in this case, are around 9-14. Along with veteran indie producer Chris Coady at the helm, the band conceives a self-styled mixtape love note that acts as a Teflon coating against the critique that Dadcore is just a reworking of past tropes. That’s exactly what they’re aiming to do. Thank you quite nicely for noticing.

Granted, since I likely fall in the core demographic for the album, I cannot be unblemished or unbiased. I’m wholly unopposed to the raised specters of Teenage Fanclub, Dino Jr., Fountains of Wayne and Camper Van Beethoven that find their way splattered all over this record. The band weaves the nerd warble of power pop through the narrative like a talisman, and aside from the ghosts of psych-folk, few genres raise a flag around here like power pop. Mozes and the Firstborn are bouncing buoyant choruses off the ionosphere and pulling in transmissions from the core of the college radio era, when CMJ had a stake in the game (RIP) and the alternative banner waved wild and free. There’s a bit of a disrupted flow with the crutch of that mixtape format (each track is separated by a short burst of dialog or interlude that staples it ceremonially to the next) but for the most part their vision is clear. Coady and the boys have created a referentially yet scruffily catchy record that’s truly comfortable in the guise they’ve chosen. MATF are having fun, and that in itself is infectious.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Ornament – “New Coat”

Nashville’s Ornament follow up their sterling debut with a new outing for Official Memorabilia that further expands on their mellow country-flecked pop. The A-side is amiable and centered, full of lush harmonies and bittersweet bite, but it’s on the flip that the band shines. “New Coat” pushes the Country to the forefront with a rollicking twang, some worn linen harmonica and an easygoing gait that’s as welcome as an afternoon beer. The band recounts a tale of what they’d do with found riches and it’s a homey and humble tale of blue-skied dreams. The single is produced by Cheap Time’s Jeffery Novak, last seen glam-stomping through the streets with Savoy Motel. Each new tidbit from these guys makes me want to hear what they’d do with a full length. Pullin’ for them, that’s for sure.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Spiral Joy Bad

Spun off from the din of Pelt, Spiral Joy Band has served over a decade as a parallel universe in which Mikel Dimmick, Patrick Best, and Troy Schafer can experiment further with the drones and zones that capture their attention. Originally envisioned as an acoustic counterpart, the band’s embraced the electric impulse over time and with their latest for MIE, they continue to open a portal to a haunted hollow beneath the earth’s crust. As with Pelt proper, SJB have a patient creep to them – embracing drones that float like fog a la Heldon or Ashra, while scraping some high plains guitar moan from the stones in the manner of Barn Owl and Charalambides.

On Summoning the similarities with the latter are cemented even further, with vocalist Dani Schafer’s incantations thrumming on the same cosmic wavelength that’s long driven Christina Carter. On centerpiece, “Starlings in Deerwood,” her vocals crack the cosmos and give the band’s guitar clash a run for its money in terms of holding the listener rapt. Then the band shakes the world tree with a clattering, mossy menagerie of drone, dirge, rattle and hum on the 20 min closer “Down the Lane the Park is Still and the Water Chill.” Fans of any of the aforementioned touchstones or Pelt for that matter have plenty to unpack on this limited press platter, perfect for the hibernation months ahead.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Future Punx – “Want To Be Wanted”

Brooklyn’s Future Punx were a fun prospect, with their Gary Numan meets Medium Medium’s post-punk boogie bliss. Their album garnered some nice praise and put them on my year end list back in 2017. The band finally fires back with a few new tunes in for form of an EP for Modern Sky. The first cut, “Want to Be Wanted” clamps down hard on the Numan synth burble, hot gluing his disaffected futurism to the bounce of post-punk guitars and replacing his lonesome android isolationism with a note of hope as the members bounce the chorus back and forth between them. The track’s got a pretty heavy replay factor, digging further under the skin with each listen. Hoping the rest of the EP pans out in similar regard, but the band had more micro-influences working in their last album than average, so here’s hoping for some surprises as well.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

The Murlocs – “Comfort Zone”

Well if its a slow year for King Gizz (and it damn well should be, take a well-deserved break) then it seems time for the tangents to get back in the swing. The Murlocs’ last saw them on solid ground, steadily taking their place next to Gizz proper as more than just a side project. On “Comfort Zone,” though, Ambrose Kenny proves that he’s set to push this next album even further. With a vibe that’s definitely channeling ’70s Elton, the song stumbles and staggers through broken-soul motions with a deep well of heart and hurt. The accompanying video on the other hand posits some real Johnny Got His Gun feelings paired up with slasher/revenge fantasy fic. Not sure the two seem to correlate, but the song’s one of the locs’ best, giving some real heft to the anticipation for the upcoming LP on Flightless.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Flamingods – “Marigold”

Picking up more than a few similarities to indie’s pervasive and over-the-top psych-pop personalities – throwing Animal Collective, Thee Oh Sees, Temples and Tame Impala in a Vitamix and scrambling ‘til smooth, the London quartet Flamingods seem on the edge of household familiarity with their latest single. The UK via Bahrain band is widening their scope of influence even further on the upcoming Levitation, scooping up inspiration from Mid-East and South Asian funk, psych and disco from the ‘70s. While first single “Marigold” doesn’t quite sound like a lost trinket from the South Asian delta, it’s a pretty blistering bit of excess splattered pop that puts the band on par with Psychedelic Porn Crumpets in terms of welding guitar volume to heady shakedowns for a pretty fun ride. Naturally, this one caught my eye (as with Shana Cleveland) due to artwork from RSTB fave designer Ardneks. Moshi Moshi’s got the album arriving on May 3rd. Can’t wait to hear more from this one.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

The Dandelion – “Every Other Day”

Sydney psych-pop acolytes The Dandelion pick up plenty of cues from Broadcast and Sterolab, but there’s also a glam element that comes away sounding like Vashti Bunyan working through a repertoire of T. Rex covers. The band came bubbling to the surface on the roster of last year’s GizzFest (King Gizz’ own hometown hoedown picking out the best of Aussie psych) and they’re prepping for an upcoming LP soon. The band’s interim, three track offering on French label Six Tonnes De Chair ably displays the Krautrock ripples of repetition, the good ol’ fashioned garage rock getdown and the flowers-in-their-hair throwback qualities that makes the band so endearing.

The title track is the most indebted to the ghost of Trish Keenan, though the band are definitely working on a less technical and more from-the-hip angle than Broadcast. Organs bubble through the headphones in cellophane-wrapped lysergic colors while Natalie de Silver’s voice whispers from some forgotten plane of existence. “Lucifer and the Knife” brings that Bolan boogie to the forefront, shimmying along the edges of astral projection. They actually hit on a lot of the same vibes that Meg Remy and U.S. Girls were simmering in during their Gems period. Then the band closes out the record with the instrumental killer “Malkaus,” shaking down enough crystal-funk spine shivers to keep the listener baking in bliss all the way home.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Sleeper and Snake – “Sugar and Gold”

The hits never stop from Al Montfort and Amy Hill. After a busy year for both with Terry, Primo, and Al’s low-key Snake & Friends release, the duo have a homespun record coming out together on Aarght. Guess that makes Amy the Sleeper in this case, but however you scratch it, the first track has a humble charm about it – sounding like stripped back Dick Diver with Terry’s sensibility for slightly off-kilter harmonies. The song tackles the sordid underbelly of Queensland, tackling its history of as the band notes “kidnapping, slave trade, colonial wealth and the illusion of a fair go,” proving that we Americans have no lock on the exploitation market. The accompanying video is full of helpful drawings to illustrate the points and the pair doing their deadpan best not to crack a smile. At this point I’m a sucker for anything either of these two have coming down the pike, but this is a humable hit nonetheless.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Night Beats

For his latest LP as Night Beats, Danny Lee Blackwell has a crises of character and we’re all invited along for the ride. Jettisoning the semblance of a “band,” the record is just Blackwell with a litany of studio hit men and Dan Auerbach behind the boards, working the Night Beats’ previously gritty garage into a swaggering, glossy blues-soul belter in the mold of the Keys themselves. Seems that Dan Auerbach is rolodexing his way through the wealth of indie talent these days – working with garage-soul powerhouse Shannon Shaw and making over Sonny Smith into a proper gentleman. The production match-ups have been met with a mixed-bag of outcomes. In Shaw, Auerbach saw a performer who was often left masked by genre – a natural torch singer who needed a proper stage to shine from. With Smith, however, he stripped away much of the songwriter’s downtrodden charm, giving his record the feel of an expensive imitation that wrinkles in the wash while the rest of his catalog comes out crisp and clean every time.

Now as to what he’s done with Night Beats – its a split decision to be honest. I like quite a few of the tracks that Auerbach and Blackwell have done together. When the songs are full of sound and darkness and swinging for the rafters they shake out the psych-soul swirls of Blackwell’s past into the kind of stadium rock that works with a packed crowd and an over-zealous light show. On the other side of the same coin, though, when the band brings down the lights and goes for tender vulnerability the look chafes like a cheap costume. On “Too Young To Pray,” “Am I Just Wasting My Time,” and “I Wonder” the record feels like its courting well outside of its intended audience, hamming it up for the Brillo Cream boomers that like the way that boy looks in a tie. And doesn’t he just sing lovely? Its Tom Jones with a sneer and a wide-brimmed fedora.

The gamble, unfortunately, tends to deflate even the best moments and leaves the record feeling like it can’t make up its mind to go all in on a big budget rock record or leave the Beats’ name behind and deliver a Blackwell soul-glo half-hour special. Fans of Night Beats likely came for the dark n’ downers, and were the whole album to strut in the manner of “One Thing,” “Eyes on Me” and “Let Me Guess,” this might stand among some of Night Beats’ best. There’s nothing to be lost from treading new ground, or even lightening the mood with a softer respite between the sweat-soakers, but on Myth of a Man Blackwell and Auerbach have pulled the rug out from under the band’s sound in the name of wilting ballads that don’t inspire love, lust or, sadly, repeat listens.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments