Allah Las – “In The Air”

Allah Las already made a nice divot in 2019 with their instrumental contributions to MexSum’s Self Discovery for Social Survival soundtrack, and if they’d stopped there I’d have called it a win for the band all around. Seems they have more in mind for the year, though and the band is springing off of that project to get back into the album game with their fourth album LAHS which finds its way out October 11th. The band is back in the breezy swing of West Coast jangle with salt in its beard on “In The Air. Calico Review saw the band darken their sound just a touch, putting an overcast air on their beach-bound sound, but the first taste of LAHS is little less than sun dappled and sand swept. The band’s making light with a Weekend At Bernie’s leaning video that makes good use out of their budget — hopping from hot air balloons to helicopter rides with comatose (or dead, you never know) band member in tow. I’m excited to see how the sand shakes out of this one when it lands in October. Check it above and catch the band on a full US tour this Winter.

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De Lorians

From The Jacks to High Rise to Kikagaku Moyo, I’m always down for what’s bubbling out of the hotpot of Japanese Psychedelia and this year the Beyond Beyond is Beyond crew make room for one more name in that holy roster. Tokyo collective De Lorians are hopping back through time like Doc Brown on a mission to melt the tried and true psychedelic crayon box into a puddle that drips Zappa’s ‘smarter than necessary’ approach to the ‘70s rock canon into the buttoned up and boiled down impulses of the never cool/always awesome Canterbury sound. In particular the record is picking apart the seams of latter period Soft Machine — during the sunset of Mike Ratledge and the brief dawn of Allen Holdsworth. If you’re a rare fan who thinks the Bundles period never got its due (and I am) then this is the bastard son of Soft you never saw coming. Throw in some heady nods to the liquid licks of Steve Hillage and this record begins to take a bit of shape.

Jazz rock isn’t exactly a genre that most music fans were barking for in the 7th inning stretch of 2019, but I’m gonna go ahead and thank the Beyonders for seeing past what people want and serving up what the heads need. The band’s blown way past the typical “you got yer psych in my jazz” hat tips. This isn’t dosed up Miles in his prime, and its way more than Weather Report fusing the forms. Instead the band is blowing full stack through the greasy grips of Placebo’s “Balek” if it was surprised in the dark by The Feed-Back’s freaked out agenda. Hold on though, that’s too many references to properly rinse this through your system. The band’s clearly spent time touring the rough terrain of the nerd-high psychedelic wasteland, turning the screws on jazz-ensemble editions and churning out progressive missives for the microdosed mentors, but what does it sound like?

The band runs smooth when they need to, riding groove like a good jazz-funk friendship society, but they lose their calculus cool more often than not, breaking down the tracks into jagged edges, found-sound snippets that pull the rug out from under the listener. They breeze through multiple time signatures that flex for the theory crowd over the groove riders every time. This is an album that’s got a niche, but 2019 is all niche so I say go for it. For the Japanese psych heads, this one doesn’t burn, doesn’t lay into the South Asian traditions or heavy fuzz gamut, but it crumples and crisps like a Gehry building come to life, stomping over the hills spreading the gospel of academic acid to the masses.



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Weak Signal

Those already familiar with the works of Mike Bones have probably already perked their ears at his mention. His solo albums for aughts enclave The Social Registry brought a gnarled sense of indie grandeur, while his album with Soldiers of Fortune (Mexican Summer) produced a supergroup that should have gone down in history, bringing members of Endless Boogie and Oneida together with Matt Sweeney (a wise move if you ask me). Its hard to keep a good slinger down and as proof Mike’s quietly slipping out a 2019 gem that deserves a few louder shouts. Weak Signal is his most compact vision yet, and appropriately the music is a skin-flayed, no pussyfootin’ vision of indie tumble that’s got teeth in the flesh and smoke in the air. Bones picks at the same carrion carnage in which his contemporaries Sweeney and Chris Forsyth often find themselves embroiled. There’s a sense of timeless tension — every bit the early ‘90s major label gamble and early aughts classicists in one. The trio can wire-strip the soul (“Tell Me How You Like It”) and still seed the clouds for a bare fist melancholy melt (“Lyin”).

The touchstones on Bones’ syllabus feel more than familiar but he’s spinning it anew, lighting a new fire into the indie rock pyre that’s been smoldering to the coals on the back of 2019. Along with a propulsive thunder from rhythm section Sasha Vine and Tran Huynh, and a bevy of complimentary harmonies as well, Weak Signal is proving to be a record that’s hard to shake and harder to evict from the turntable. The album eeked out last year from NYC tape label Reality Delay, but finds a welcomed new life on LP from Jacuzzi Boys’ label Mag Mag this year. It’s highly recommended that you put this ring-spun sizzler on the table and let it drip over your soul a few times. Let it burrow under the skin and itch with delicious discomfort.



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Ill Globo – “Streamlined Success”

Got another shot across the bow from RSTB South Hemi fave Aarght Records today. The label, who’s had some stunners from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, UV Race, Ausmuteants amigo others, is going for the throat with a new EP from Melbourne’s Ill Globo. Unlike the punk and post-punk stripes bolstered by many on the roster, Ill Globo wields a hardcore halberd that cuts to the bone. However, much like fellow Aussie thrashers Bench Press, the band doesn’t take much stock in the puffed and preening Midwestern machismo that often accompanies the genre. First cut “Streamlined Success” thrashes and smashes with the same freewheeling gusto the genre wears with pride though — taking the breakneck bus around the turns with a wicked smile on their faces. Its been a sweat stain of grief here in The States lately and this slicer is perfect, sweaty company to the pent up frustration and hotbox humidity.

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The Reds, Pinks, & Purples – “Ahead of Their Time”

After a lengthy gestation period the first Reds, Pinks, & Purples LP is on its way out this year. The band first appeared on Raven way back in 2009 on my first compilation, marking the three-year anniversary of the site. Since then Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Art Museums, Ivytree) has had several records come through, but The Reds, Pinks, & Purples has always lingered in the background. That is, until late last year when demos began popping up regularly on their Bandcamp, promising a fully formed record to come. That LP arrives via Spain’s Pretty Olivia Records. Entitled Anxiety Art the record wraps up a full set of RP&P’s amber-hued jangle-pop with just a slight lap of syncopated drums. The band has always been a close cousin of Art Museums, but where that band’s locked beats and pastel strum skew towards bliss, The Reds, Pinks & Purples scrape the heart with a pang of melancholy. Check out the lovely “Ahead of Their Time” below and nab one of the 150 copies of this gem.



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Trash Kit

I’m honestly not sure how Rachel Aggs keeps up with her pace. After solid LPs from Shopping in the past few years and another from Sacred Paws already this year, she’s reviving the post-punk tussle of Trash Kit this year. The band is one of the first places I’d herd her pleasantly knotted riffs and urgent vocals and with their third LP for UK hotspot Upset The Rhythm, they’re solidifying their place in the pantheon of latter day post-punk pickers. Horizon isn’t the scrappy slap across the face that their early albums embodied. Its still bouncing on a bubble of Afrobeat-knicked guitars and polyrhythmic patterns but there’s a richness this time around. While saxes still squawk like the lingering reminders of Maximum Joy’s perfection, the band’s layering in nodes of beautiful harmonies, melancholy violins, and playful pianos. This isn’t the stockpot output of a band looking to regurgitate pogo powered visions of the past. This is an album informed by post-punk’s progression, reinvention, and deconstruction, but also informed by pop’s need to put it all back in place again.

The record is an intricate sweater, knitted with love, time, and talent, unraveling in the breeze. Its something beautiful being picked at over and over until it finally breaks free and floats to the sky. The record breaks down into repeating patterns —broken glass reflecting again and again in a puddle, each layer no less glittering but just a bit further from reach. Aggs’ guitar has never been threaded so steadily while leaving its edges so smooth. Often she’s got a jagged quality, but there’s no sense that any part of Horizon might cut the listener. Its not dangerous in the traditional sense. There’s not rebellion and rancor like Shopping embody, but here the danger is that the listener might forever become lost in an Escher-like landscape of sound that answers questions with questions as to which way is up or out. Its been a big year for Aggs with this on top of the SP rec, but this is definitely the crowning achievement of her year.



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The Hussy – “Coast”

After a few great side hustles (Proud Parents, Cave Curse) Bobby and Heather are back in the saddle as The Hussy and by the saint’s of the garage gutter, a new LP is on the way from Dirtnap this fall. The band bursts out of the gate with album opener “Coast,” a track that’s steeped in the popped-vein psych-punk that’s wound up the hallmark of their sound. The pair hand vocals back and forth along their records but this one’s a true Bobby thrasher — nervy, fried, and collapsing to the floor by the time the the track tumbles to a close. They’re slicing the skin and inserting just a touch of itchy sci-fi punk creep this time around.

Damned if this record isn’t poised to be among their best. Bobby’s spent a lot of the interim backing up Nobunny as a sideman and he’s bringing quite a bit of that manic, whirlwind energy with him here. Add in some great lost Jay Reatard vibes and this one’s hitting the spot. A lot of bands that shot out of the garage-punk gauntlet of the early 2010’s have sought to sand their edges and spit-shine their sound, but The Hussy remains a dirt-caked fireball of fury, proud of the crust under their nails and ready to scratch you with them if need be. Madison’s never been a hotbed of hype, but every time there’s a new Hussy LP, I think that maybe it should be.

The Looming hits shelves September 27th. Be ready.

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CFM

On his second solo album as CFM, Charles Moothart distances himself further from his closest collaborators — shying from the glam-garage punch of Ty Segall and the more metallic slap of Meatbodies. CFM carries a lot of the same DNA, though, so its not entirely shod of the shadow of Segall and co. just yet, but Moothart comes into his own with some tender tugs at the heart and some psych burn that dabbles in shoegaze fizz. The album opens with a few burners, proving he’s got his own heat at the ready. “Black Cat” and “Sequence” tussle with hot tar licks, and “Street Vision” slows the choogle to a steady swagger, but its not until the wound opens for “Green Light” that the album shows what Moothart has at his disposal. The track’s fraught with menace and pain but also an open woundedness that’s not often seen in his particular pack, save for maybe Mikal Cronin.

He returns to the fray for a few more songs, and pulls it off with a more than serviceable acid burn, but he returns to the raw nerve on the album’s title track, “Soundtrack to an Empty Room,” which makes a double case for Moothart to dispense with the amplifier fry altogether and explore a full album of guarded bloodletters that aren’t at all interested in proving his weight in riff returns. Likewise the stately sway of “River” gives the second side a shove towards transcending his roots. There’s plenty to love for the buried needle brigade here, and I’m all for the fuzz, but there’s also an inkling of where Moothart might be headed. I’d say if he can go all in on the tender trappings, he might just have a stunner on his hands.



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Hans Chew & Garcia Peoples

I’ve been remiss, I’m only now noticing that the great Black Dirt Studios has renewed their ‘Natch’ series of studio improvisations. The series has lain dormant since 2013, but the June and July entries are both stunners. Finding its way out yesterday is a set from RSTB faves Hans Chew (One Eleven Heavy, Hiss Golden Messanger, Jack Rose, D. Charles Speer) and Garcia Peoples. The band entered the studio for a set of five new songs lead by Chew’s ace piano playing and backed by the psych lightning of the Garcias and its nothing short of perfection. The group lays down five songs — four originals and one ace cover from Dave Mason’s debut LP, that’s brought to a vibrant new life by Chew and the boys. Like yesterday’s Suncharms retrospective its listed at the nice price but you should definitely support Jason’s studio with whatever you can. He’s laying down some of the most vibrant jams in the valley.

Which brings me to the second set that’s up in the studio’s series an instrumental set from Wednesday Knudson (Pigeons, Weeping Bong Band) and Willie Lane (MV & EE collaborator, Elkhorn). The set’s more understated than Chew’s but no less captivating. I highly recommend nabbing both of these and placing them on repeat for the next couple of days. I’m backing it with a no regrets guarantee.

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The Suncharms – S/T

There’s no time like 2019 to really dig deep into any genre and pick up those missed bits that were maligned by poor distribution or unfortunate circumstances. Over the past few years, Shoegaze, in particular, has definitely unearthed a few gems. This one actually rose up on the revived Cloudberry Records in 2016, to sadly little fanfare, but the Bandcamp age gives it a second life. The Sheffield band Suncharms issued two EPs in their active time – 1990’s Sparkle and Tranquil Day a year later. The band was approached by Slumberland in 1992 about an album, but, sadly, they broke up before anything could materialize. They rectified that misstep last year with an entry into Slumberland’s 30 year singles club and now this retrospective from Cloudberry is available digitally for the nice price.

The band occupies some similar earspace with early Ride, Chapterhouse, and Pale Saints. Their sound was thick with fuzz and noise but there were some absolute pop gems riding beneath the fray. More-so than any of those other three Shoegaze gems, Suncharms rarely get their due, even in the retrospective heavy culture of the 2010’s when everyone’s an expert and we all “knew this shoulda been the band everyone should have listened to in the ‘90s.” The comp bags up all the band’s released material along with some demos to give ya some scope. Even after countless iterations of C86 hangers-on and Shoegaze tentpole retreads, these songs still hit hard and leave an imprint. If, like most of us, this remains a hole in your ‘gaze collection then by all means fill it and work forward to pick up that new EP on Slumberland. Recommended this one makes it into your rotation.




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