Landon Caldwell – ” What Seems Like The End Is Also A Beginning ”

If your Friday is looking for a little comedown, then the new cassette from Landon Caldwell (Crazy Doberman, Creeping Pink, Thee Open Sex) should do the trick. A part of Trouble in Mind’s explorer’s series, the solo set from Caldwell explores an ambient cosmic float, wafting in on synth clouds thick and satisfying. A weary sax turn the album closer, “What Seems Like the End Is Also A Beginning” into a welcome melt into the atmosphere. As Caldwell, aided here by Tom Lageveen, leads the listener into the light the boundaries between molecules begin to dissolve. The album is a tonal reset, a sound bath that does its best to become the door to a nebulous universe. Deep Strand arrives March 12th from Trouble in Mind.




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Rusell Hoke

There’s an air of borrowed time about Russel Hoke’s The Melancholy Traveller. Not that Hoke has passed or is about to, but that he’d seemingly hung his instruments for good by 2016. Not merely hung them up, but sold them outright. That seems like shutting a door on the idea, but thankfully Hoke wasn’t quite finished with us just yet. He borrowed a guitar and banjo, and in an Alan Lomax meets modern times approach, recorded some material he’d hidden away to an outdated cell phone at home. As such, there’s a welcome roughness to the songs here, a private press film that can’t quite help but settle onto the unvarnished recordings. Considering he filled a double cassette anthology before hanging it up last time, this absolute trove of new material is so much more than leftovers from his cut out pile.

The songs are filled with pain, simple pleasures, emptiness, and hope. Hoke has an inimitable hold on the qualities that sent oral traditions from family to family, filling songbooks with the kind of universal truths that somehow became more ingrained with the barrel bare pluck of banjo or the oaken caress of guitar strings. Each song on The Melancholy Traveler seems both set for sunset rounds with family and friends and equally set for the solace of a back porch, filling the silence and loneliness before they grows too large and consume the heart once and for all. Hoke’s name might not yet be etched into the canon of American songwriters just yet, but this collection wedded to his previous compendium might just give the name the nudge it deserves.


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The Peacers – “The Ghost of a Motherfucker”

Happy to see that one of my favorite cuts from The Peacer’s new LP, Blexxed Rec gets a video this week. The excellently named “Ghost of a Motherfucker” is blessed with a low slung blues shuffle from Mike Donovan (Sic Alps, The Mother’s Network), further bashed into fine form with the songwriter’s weather-worn vocals. Playing off its dusted denim swagger, the song capitalizes on what The Peacers do best — sun-toasted slow burn anthems that sweat through the speakers. The song is given an equally easy moving video, with riverside images from Benjamin Maddox providing a dank, dusty backdrop to an equally gnarly cut. The new LP is out March 26th from Drag City.


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Mt. Mountain

With the arrival of Mt. Mountain’s fourth album we dive into another densely built world of vertiginous soundscapes. With a bedrock of propulsive rhythm, locked and launching them towards a blissful plateau, the band continues to stretch out further into psychedelic oblivion. Mt. Mountain’s sound has long lifted from jazz extensions and jam tributaries, and both come to a head on the ambitious Centre, with tracks winding towards the seven minute mark, connecting into a dissection of faith and spiritual drought. With a tendency towards more lysergic liquidity than they have in the past, the record gets lost in the incense swirl of its instrumental interplay. Albums like Dust were appropriately desolate, but with Centre the band works towards a more verdant territory, wrapping a newly doused guitar sound around the tangle of rhythm and yawning oceans of synth.

Even the vocals this time get a bit of steam in them, seeming to float in the cirrus above the record, swimming back towards the terra while fighting the heady haze. Feels like the band has been absorbing a good dose of Kikagaku Moyo’s House In The Tall Grass and Moon Duo’s softer side of Occult Architecture. They’re siphoning the same damp vibes of both records while exploring the bounds of their own eclectic float. The band hasn’t sounded this free for quite some time, and the looser sound does them well. If, perhaps, you’ve stopped by the band’s corner of the progressive prairie before and have been left wanting, come back for another wander. This one gets its hooks into you.



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Satomimagae – “Numa”

I’ve been letting this one soak in today. An excellent new offering set up a split release between Gurugurubrain and RVNG, Intl. Satomimagae trades in a deeply furrowed strain of folk – immediate, yet resonating through time in all directions. A resonant hum anchors the listener to “Numa,” but Satomi descends through the emotional strata dragging us on the tether with her. A scarred blues play out with notes of the nature of struggle. Fights that cannot be won because the forces are too large, too alchemical, too ingrained in the nature of the rot of the world. Its cyclic. Any perceived win lands us right back at the starting point, bewildered and needing to relived the moment all over again. The accompanying video from Soh Ideuchi is fraught with a reckless energy, that comes crashing down in waves of futility by the end. Satomimagae’s Hanazono is out April 23rd.

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Green-House – “Sunflower Dance”

One of the sly gems that snuck out last year was an EP by Olive Ardizoni under the name Green-House. The pieces were minimal, calming vignettes designed as a communication with plant life and the caretakers of plants alike. It was a cavern of calm in tumultuous surroundings and after a few follow-up pieces, including one for the great Longform Editions, it seems that Olive has a new LP on the way for Leaving Records this year. The first cut, “Sunflower Dance,” is a quietly perfect moment. Underpinned by Ardizoni’s library-bent synths and floating on a slight mist of flutes, it’s a gorgeous three minute respite that lets time outside the speakers slip away. The idea remains to commune with and curate natural spaces in the home, as Olive mentions in the accompanying text. “There’s no need to search out the perfect hiking trail,” they note, the idea of natural connection can be created in the home as well — a symbiotic relationship with the flora that revives each moment of the day. The single will appear on the upcoming LP Living Spaces.

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Plankton Wat

On his latest as Plankton Wat, Dewey Mahood (Eternal Tapestry, ) pushes towards a haunted, hungered vision of his pastoral psych. Scorched with a lacing of fuzz and a corroded array of synths, Future Times lays down the backdrop to a timeline in which nature has begun to reclaim the monolithic architecture of our times. Mahood’s always had a way of infusing his psychedelia with the soul of the German Progressive crowd, but this time around he’s letting the two impulses stand in harmony more than they ever have in the past. Setting sail for the fields behind Popul Vuh’s compound, the record taps into a fault line hum, yet still catches a bit of wind in the mics. The progressive elements begin to siphon the serenity from the Plankton Wat’s core over the course of the record.

In the past Dewey has used the moniker for works that vibrate in a kind of rarefied air — meditative, mindful, and infused with the green filter of the natural world, but in the times depicted here there’s a new sense of dread in the margins. He does his best to fight it, but on “Dark Cities,” and “Teenage Daydream” the walls seem much closer than they were a moment ago. Its hard not to feel a certain dread for the future, but by the end Dewey doesn’t abandon his positive spirit wholesale. The album battles invisible adversaries of anxiety and finally resets once more to the commune with the earth and air. Amid a swirl of flutes and a bittersweet strum, Plankton Wat breathes easy before the album rests. Each new chapter of Plankton Wat feels like required reading and I can’t say otherwise with Future Times. Dewey’s laid out another stunner for 2021.

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The Reds, Pinks and Purples – “The Record Player and the Damage Done”

Another excellent single lands from the upcoming Reds, Pinks and Purples LP. Taking even a cursory look at Glenn Donaldson’s output over the years — from the noise of Thuja to the sun-soaked folk of The Skygreen Leopards and the jangle-pop pervasiveness of Art Museums and RPP — Glenn clearly suffers from the same record addled affliction as many of us. “The Record Player and the Damage Done” is an ode to the spiritually fulfilling act of playing records. There’s something satisfying in pursuing a sound that’s just right, pouring over discographies and dollar bins to find something that’ll make your heart soar or match you in a melt to the floor. With touches of Felt and the Dunedin sound coursing through this song, Glenn’s sending out a beacon to all bin riflers out there, an instant jangle-pop classic. The new LP lands him a debut at Slumberland and a second offering in the UK on Tough Love. Uncommon Weather is out April 9th.

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Nightshift

The sophomore LP from Glasgow’s Nightshift is a study in starkness — a post-punk workout that solders past misfits like Young Marble Giants, Oh-Ok, and Liliput to new outliers like J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest and Sleeper & Snake. The album does a great job of decentralizing the guitar, with rec room echoed vocals and the quiet cry of clarinet playing their way out over loping bass on more than one occasion. There’s a brooding, bedroom dance to the band’s works. Alone and unseen, the walls melt down with a waxen aloofness, but it just masks the vulnerability beneath the surface of the Nightshift’s songs. There are quite a few moments when the smoke curl of distance feels palpable, which is quite apt, considering the album was recorded in individual parts as the band members were segregated from one another over the past year. The isolation doesn’t necessarily get a direct reference, but the feeling of space underscores every minute of Zöe.

The entire album anchors around the seven-minute centerpiece “Power Cut,” a buzzing, undulating piece that untethers from the terra firma to dance in the clouds, high on synth singe and woodwind scuttle. Only the tumbling beat brings the listener back down near land before sucking the humidity out of the room once again for the second side. Here Nightshift let just a little light into their solitude, but we’re once again left scratching cries for comfort in the furniture until the collapse of the closer, “Receipts,” which softens into a sigh as the album pops the light and walks away for good. Perhaps folks aren’t looking for a reminder of how alone we’ve become in the span of 365 days, but for those that always carry a slight air of distance in their hearts, Zöe will feel just right.

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The Catenary Wires – “Mirrorball”

The last time I saw Catenary Wires around these parts Rob and Amelia (Talulah Gosh, Heavenly) were creating clouded jangles that beat with a dark heart. Now, with a new album on the way from Shelflife (USA) / Skep Wax (UK), they’re embracing an ‘80s pop strain they might have avoided when they passed through that decade the first time around. Yet, with a propulsive pulse, muted horns, and a melancholy lump in their throat, they embrace the queasy swing of the disco lights and find a heartbeat of humanity underneath the glossy exterior of disposable pop across shared drinks. “Mirrorball” finds the pair exploring a couple connecting in unlikely circumstances, letting a themed bar night act as the backdrop for a more meaningful connection. The song carries a sense of hope and a slight wink at aging. Its not a night of legend, but sometimes love comes along in strange circumstances. The single is the first form the band’s upcoming Birling Gap.

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