Ball – “Speeding”

Subliminal Sounds cracks open the Earth to let the demon rock of Ball enter our realm. The first track from the Swedish psych/sleeze/proto-metal outfit sounds like someone jump started a time machine to take Timmy Vulgar back in time to front Deep Purple. Which, wait, hold on… can we do that? No, never mind, it’s unnecessary now that Ball are operating on a vomit rock frequency that’s straining its way through the speakers. This track is heavy and haggard, rough and psychotic with the right kind of power trio prog fueling their schtick. It’s a fun, sleazy romp the whole way through. Props to the nailed down ’70s rock simplicity of that album cover too. Can’t wait for the whole burrito of badness to arrive. Dig in!


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John Wonderling – Day Breaks

A long kept secret of lost classics, John Wonderling’s debut LP was ill fated from the start, despite boasting a deep bench of session players. Wonderling made his mark as the writer of “Midway Down,” a song made famous by The Creation. Though, The Creation don’t always find themselves in constant conversation these days either (see their much needed retrospective on Numero this year) they raised Wonderling’s profile at the time and he released a single version of “Midway Down” backed with “Man Of Straw”. What truly halted Wonderling’s momentum was taking the next five years to craft Day Breaks, an album of subtle beauty, but slightly faded psychedelic pop for its release in 1973.

The single was the last independent release on Loma Records, which was then absorbed into Warner Brothers. His album would wind up on Paramount. The shift to major label should have seemed like a blessing, but the label simply didn’t know what to do with Wonderling. He’d languish and most of the records printed would disappear, with as few as 10 copies being reportedly making their way to distribution. As such this has become a pricey collector’s property. The record shouldn’t have been as hard a sell as it’s often described. Though songs like “Man Of Straw” seem a bit past the mark, the rest of the album delves into the kind of wistful ballads that wound up making legends (albeit not always in their time) of artists from Nick Drake to Gene Clark.

Wonderling, too should be higher up the ranks of lost songwriters and it seems that this reissue from Flashback is aiming to make that so. Though only on CD for now, the new issue rounds up the entirety of Day Breaks along with the A and B-side versions of “Midway Down” and “Man Of Straw” with a couple of unreleased demos. This is an all too brief, but truly wonderful album finding a new life.




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Ty Segall – “Break A Guitar”

Hey I’ll take any opportunity to throw another heap of praise on Ty’s latest album and the new video for “Break A Guitar” is just another great collaboration with Segall’s video steady Matt Yoka. The swirling effects and Scanners ending make for a nice touch to the song’s stringent garage-psych. If you’re not already holding on to a copy of the new eponymous LP, then maybe its time for a shopping trip.



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Mythic Sunship

Admittedly it’s been a good year for psych, with plenty of releases edging their way up into album of the year territory. Now there’s another one to add to the list, Copenhagen’s Mythic Sunship brings crushing doom-psych vibes on their second album for El Paraiso. The album is built around two extended cuts pushing past the 13-minute mark and using every second to build an aura of creeping dread. They touch through the same scorched valleys as contemporaries Hills or The Cosmic Dead, but they seem to push further into a taut, propulsive landscape of slow simmer psychedelics. Mythic Sunship also takes a cue from prog in their ability to ‘world-build’ the songs into instrumental narratives that rise and fall with eddies of calm that lead into nighttime raids of incendiary guitar.

Lying in wait under one of El Paraiso’s trademark hand-painted sleeves courtesy of Jakob Skøtt, it’s an all around beautiful package from design to aural heft. Perhaps the best litmus of how heavy the band hits, though is who they’ve been playing with. A resume of opening slots for the likes of Träd Gräs och Stenar, Moon Duo and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard doesn’t speak lightly about their ability to level an audience. They harness the feedback fuzz, the metal stomp bass and tank tread thunder of drums and they’re doing it with a dark entropy that’s heads above many who step into this genre. Where most would skew too stark or too flashy, the band balances restraint and power in equal fistfuls. For my money, you’re gonna be hard pressed to find another album quite as devastating and nuanced this year.




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The Babe Rainbow – “Peace Blossom Boogy”

I’ve had a soft spot for The Babe Rainbow in the past and they’re scrubbing up and crystallizing their sunshine pop from the sounds of it. They finally have a full length on the way from Flightless in AU and apparently from Danger Mouse’s 30th Century Records here in the US (sure, why not?). The first single is as lackadaisical as they’ve ever been – another hippy sturummer with a touch of blue-eyed soul and a sugar shaker beat that feels like it’s primed for clear skies and picnic playlists. They accompany the cut with a walk back to ’60s pop films, mashing a ton of Magical Mystery Tour action into a double decker bus full of what seem to be family and friends. Sounding like a good one, not shaking the foundations of pop too hard, but when good homage has its place, especially when its this catchy.



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Mt. Mountain

Perth’s Mt. Mountain stretch out heavier and headier than ever before with a record that evokes the endless stretches of outback, scorched earth futures and shamanistic auras. The record opens with a crusher, the 17+ minute “Dust” that builds from a parched stumble into a storm of guitar fury, ominous flutes and feedback swirl. The track anchors the record. It’s a tempest that guides the album, harnessing their soft touch of desolation and the kill switch quick change of noise and power that they have at the ready.

The rest of the album doesn’t necessarily crouch in the shadows, though. They continue to mine the desolate squalls of Barn Owl and Earth, dip into a quavering well of shimmer psych that owes no small favers to Japan’s psychedelic past and then marry it all to a comedown cascade that recalls mid-00s psych with a softer touch along the lines of The Occasion. The band’s been building steam steadily, but one gets the sense that this is where they’ve been headed. Dust is Mt. Mountain cracking through the veil of rote psychedelia and into the branch that’s reserved for those vibrating at a higher frequency. This is where the journey begins and, if you’re unfamiliar, where you should as well.




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Light In The Attic: Japan Archival Series

Light In The Attic are absolute masters at digging up the past and their latest series fills an essential hole in the cataloging of Japanese music. They’re beginning the series with three compilations – Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973; Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1975-1985; and Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990. Presumably they’ll spread to some singular artist focused releases from there as they tease a release from “one of the most respected and influential artists in Japan.”

The first release on the docket is Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 and it catalogs the post-war folk wellspring that became known as angura among students and fans at the time. The folk movement prized an authenticity over recreating Western sounds and as a result this lays the groundwork for many of the modern folk and psych-folk artists from the country we’ve come to love. The first installment is out in October and available on limited “Weeping Sakura” colored wax. Check out a cut from Kazuhiko Kato below.

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Warm Soda

Rather impressively, Matthew Melton has not one, but two records slated for the next couple of months. First up, he sends his tenure i Warm Soda off in style, delivering a fourth platter of faded yet sugar shaken power pop that proves he’s a man who’s done his homework time and again. Melton set out to run Warm Soda as an ode to those soft crushes in power pop – The Quick, Milk n’ Cookies, Shoes, Hubble Bubble – and as always he delivers that pining pop swoon with the kind of devotion to form that’s usually lost under lesser ambitions. Melton has assembled four albums that spin themselves out like a one man Yellow Pills and it’ll be sad to see him set it aside.

That said, four albums in the arms of lavender punk seems about right. It can be a hard genre to work through without repeating oneself, which probably explains why most of the original class of Power Pop High only churned out one or two before toughening up or calling it quits. Melton himself has already found himself in garage punk’s embrace (Snake Flower 2) and the leathered lock of glam-ignited punk (Bare Wires) so the road to toughing up feels closed. In a move no one expected he’s actually taking a tack into prog territory with his new Dream Machine project out next month. Before that though, it’s one more romp through the jukebox speakers, serving up a xeroxed dream of the the past that’s always been as strangely sweet as it is inescapably infectious.




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White Bleaches – “Mystery Child”

Melbourne’s Mystery Child come with a crack team behind the boards (King Gizz’ Stu McKenzine recording/Mikey Young mastering) and they deliver on the hopes of those that have taken them in. Their latest single has a loose-slung garage-surf feel to it that’s just the right combination of shaggy and catchy. The a-side drops a fuzzed out groove with sun in its hair and a dark ripple snaking through the bass. You can feel the Gizzard influence, but they’re definitely keeping things restrained, no J Dwyer howls blistering the paint, just smoke ring cool with a dash of psych sneer. They actually find a lot of common ground with Black Lips during their Ronson days to drop a point of reference. The flip is a bit lighter in tone, with a pop top beat that shakes the shutters and makes for a beachside highlight when paired with the tanned to distraction vocals that fleck the track. Not a bad showing. Hopefully they keep the tech team in tact and turn this momentum into a full length for Flightless. Aussie garage psych that’s bone-dried and best here.




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Mikey Young – “Socks”

Well, it should be no small secret that I love Mikey Young around here. The Aussie veteran of bands like Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas and Total Control has gone on to be one of the country’s great mastering engineers and more than that, a litmus for great bands that bubble up from the underground. So, its with plenty of excitement that Young has a solo release of his own on the way. It’s not what I would have pegged or expected to be honest, but keeping us on our toes is what the man does best. The first entry in Moniker Records’ new synth series “Your Move,” it finds Young wading into bubbling ’70s synths that thankfully skew more to the Kosmiche than the Italo-horror side of the coin. He’s found himself in the midst of glowing Germanic tones, fluttering with a wide-eyed wonder and no shortage of head nodding beats. The series is intriguing and this is a great first entry to be sure. Check out “Socks” below:





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