KAK – KAK

Almost too perfect that alongside the new cosmic collectives releasing sunshine and shade this week there’s a classic back on the table thanks to Mad about Guerssen. I first picked up a copy of KAK at the WFMU record fair years back. That cover just draws you in, a Kodachromed vision of California utopian psychedelia. The record makes good on the visual with room to spare. The record owes a great deal to Moby Grape, but they work to make their own way. The band, formed by Gary Lee Yoder and Dehner Patten, grew out of the pair’s former roots in the short-lived Oxford Circle. They recorded their sole album, released in 1969, but as usual with very little push from their record label, which sent it into obscurity for years. The record is built on a split between bluesy West Coast rockers and some more faded folk touches that dip into the waves with the sun.

While the record is often derided as being derivative of larger names, since the band came up alongside many of them its likely they were just swimming in the same stew. The hinge the record on the huge triple medley “Trieulogy” but the rest of the record easily stands up to the might of that one. After the record’s dismal reception, the band would part ways with Yoder going on to join Blue Cheer and recording a few solo singles. Guersson does this one good with a remaster, heavy sleeve, OBI and new liner notes by writer Alec Palao and members of the band.



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Wet Tuna – “Cowpath 40”

The steam off of this upcoming Wet Tuna record continues to rise and the band gives another inviting glimpse into the world of Water Weird. “Cowpath 40” slinks forward from the depths, slow and silken, yet covered in an algae slick that gives it a dank, earthen smell. There’s more than a little of the Midnight Tripper in the veins here, the bones of Louisiana sprung to life hundreds of miles north, swamped and sodden, but never soggy. Valentine and Gubler are skulking through a permanent 3AM tilt and it feels like the only right time to be out when Tuna’s on the speakers. New record lands October 11th, and the band is hitting Hudson for a stacked bill at The Half Moon. I’d highly suggest getting some Wet Tuna in your life.



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One Eleven Heavy

No time was lost between One Eleven Heavy’s debut, which landed about a year ago and their latest platter this month. That debut found the band winding their way through deep seated loves and musical roots that were etched in their formative years only to be embraced in the face of critical naysayers as the new dawn rose over 2018. They came together to exhume something cosmic buried in the delta soil and let it fly once again, finding themselves lost in the segue symbols on setlists until they emerged infused with Little Feat, late ‘70s Neil Young, New Riders, The Dead, The Burritos and other choogle-chapped visions of Southern and Western rock that refused not to ramble. Jam might be a barbed word in some mouths, but not these. They pick those handles right back up and expand on the depth of the dive into that push-pull between the cosmic and the concrete.

The dark furrows are more ingrained on Desire Path. “Hot Potato Soup,” seethes, never turning sour, but boiling to the point that the riffs scald the soul. “Chickenshit” has some bite, and a defensiveness thats rubs against the chill, but that’s just their Trux ties showing through. Not all the skies are blue, but that doesn’t dim the party here. Not all trips are serene either, and that’s reflected in the new album as much as their continued sense of the sublime. The Heavies find a home in harmony this time around as well, citing some Allman’s inspiration, and that’s on the mark. Maiato/Toth/Chew form a backbone that melds three distinct voices into a wave of twang that rolls off the guitar gnarls with a touch of ash and bourbon burn. The twined croons add a new dimension to their ‘70s streak, pulling them out of the Stars and Bars they’d been haunting and into a more verdant valley.

Hans Chew makes his first writing contributions (“House of Cards,” “Fickle Wind”) and as a whole the record embraces his keys with fuller-bodied enthusiasm than before. He’s layering down Nicky Hopkins sparkle that glints off of the songs, adding a few stepping stones into the clouds they perch on once the stringed solos get going. The peak of that cosmic float winds up the closer. On “Three Poisions” the band lifts off into the kind of glow that they perennially seek to embody. The ‘in the room and on the tape’ sound that’s always been at their core finds it’s lift into the atmosphere as the album comes to a close and Maiato’s guitar is playing somewhere between the notes here. They’re still playing against the grain of what’s cool, but they’re making it sound like a fight already won. This isn’t an album for revivalists (but I’m sure they’ll find a foothold if need be.) This is an album for those seeking to extend the groove forever into the horizon and melt right back into the wet soil, wood and concrete that vibrates under us all.






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Peter Ivers Anthology on RVNG, Intl.

RVNG Intl. is bringing long overdue attention an ‘80s icon with the release of Becoming Peter Ivers. There are probably a few routes to be familiar with Ivers, the highest profile being his collaboration with David Lynch for Eraserhead. The song “In Heaven” features at a pivotal junction in the film and the scene itself has become somewhat iconic. However, I was more familiar with Ivers from his work with New Wave Theater, which can be found floating around Youtube these days, but was a lifeline to night owls in my youth. Ivers served as the host of the show, starting in 1982, broadcast on LA UHF channel 18. Though it would eventually be rerun on USA late at night (that’s where I found it). It brought some well needed attention to punk and New Wave bands, mostly originating around the Los Angeles area. Ivers served as the nasal-voiced host and his skewed delivery and Dadaist sense of humor gave the show a direction that helped make it a cult classic. The show’s success was cut short when Ivers was murdered in his apartment in 1983, in a crime that was tragically never solved.

The collection gathers up the most complete account of Ivers’ recordings, many of them rough, but still full of the artists’ winking humor and engaging personality. The double disc set is out November 8th and includes a massive clutch of photos and liner notes by close friends. The first 300 also have a bonus 7” of additional demos. There are a lot of anthologies and reissues that come and go but I’ve got a feeling that few are going to be as idiosyncratic or vital as this one this year.



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Cool Sounds

Melbourne’s Cool Sounds have endured more than most groups have between albums. Following the tragic loss of their friend and bandmate Zac Denton, a fixture in the close knit Aussie indie scene who was also in notable bands Ciggie Witch, Pregnancy, and The Ocean Party, the band like many of those others had to find a way to move on from the loss. They’ve always had a way of intertwining bittersweet swoons inside imperturbable hooks that seem to saunter through the sun breathing a rarer air, but that veneer of melancholy is a bit more palpable on More To Enjoy. Amid the slow simmering pop boilers like “Around and Around” and the standout title track, there’s the cool smoke curl of “Hume and Gloom” which seems to tackle loss head on. The balance of catharsis, comfort, and a sense of finding joy in small spaces seems to glue the album together with a detached cool that’s instantly alluring.

Denton and his brother Lachlan both had a knack for songwriting that found the pang of life and melted it into pop that felt both transformative enough to hit home and ephemeral enough to just soundtrack the whistle of breeze past the car windows. They bring together an edge of pristine pop slink with country slides and sparkling jangles for songs that fuse into something with a bit more impact than the sum of those parts might suggest. Its hard to say that loss could ever be anything other than tragic, but the band turns the moment that life pulls the rug out from under you into an album that’s honest, infectious, and despite its scars, deeper than anything in their catalog. It’s quite honestly the band at their best and it should grace your shelf of necessities for 2019.



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Garcia Peoples – “Heart and Soul”

The other half of this new Garcia Peoples platter found its way out yesterday and it’s a damn fine shade on them. Unmoored from the band’s usual groove, the flip to their epic One Step Behind finds the band whiskeyed down in the pre-dawn light, feeling out the bottom of the soul under the flickering bare bulb of yearning. Putting Derek Spaldo’s keys front and center, the song takes the band through country-scarred territory they’ve only hinted at before. The song dives into the large statement sadness of No Other-era Gene Clark in a way that most contemporary artists could only hope to scratch. While the band has cemented their status as kings of the stage — no matter how big or small — with this record they’re proving that the studio is just as much a home, and a place to carve out ecstatic highs and crushing lows that forever reverberate in their two-inch loop around the soul. If this one isn’t already on your wishlist for 2019, this damn well better seal the spot.



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Saariselka – “Into The Wind”

Temp Res debuts a new collaboration between guitarist Chuck Johnson and composer Marielle Jakobsons and it’s the sparse, mossy valley western you’ve been looking for this whole year. Jakobsons had an excellent solo release on Thrill Jockey back in 2016 that was boiled in cosmic wonder and ethereal synth, and prior to that she’d been the primary force behind Date Palms, long a favorite around here with their own high plains ache. Johnson’s works on guitar have knotted outposts from Three Lobed, Scissor Tail, Strange Attractors, and Trouble in Mind. Here the pair leverage their respective strengths, washing Jakobsons’ synths in amber strokes of slide guitar, yawning the track out with a mournful grace. Marielle’s vocals complete the track, haunting “Into the Wind” with an almost overwhelming sadness, lost in their own sense of sorrow and rebirth. The album is out October 18th on Temporary Residence, LTD. Anticipation is high.



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Vision 3D

New ripper out of the great French enclave Six Tonnes de Chair this week. Franco-Belgian band Vision 3D pound through the heart of the punk meets post-punk axis, at times sounding like a French version of the sorely underrated XYX and picking up pieces of X-Ray Spex, and The Adverts along the way. The band careens towards the brutal end of the spectrum, starting off with the sole-English language pleaser “Party” before shaving off the perfunctory pop impulses for the rest of the album. They bang their chords into the concrete looking for maximum crumble on the cranium as they crush joyous punk strums into balls of brittle tin. The effect works best when the two impulses are in direct odds with one another, like the infectious strains of “Fan.” The track finds the band harmonizing in post-Ye-Ye pogo but the guitars saw the strums into shards, sending debris all around the romper room dance party set-up.

The band contains members of short-lived, but fondly remembered garage grippers Thee Marvin Gayes and there’s a similar sense of urgency shared with their predecessors. The record embodies some of the best impulses of punk – namely energy over polish. Far from the cushy rubber snap of punk’s marquee set, the band fuses the caffeinated crash of early Wire with the gutter-gyrations of Delta 5, gleefully smashing through the fixtures in any house show hookup. Lotta charms here if you’re into the kind of albums that feel like they might just be a pale specter of the live show, trying to mop up the sweat and sickness of the body heat explosion that they set off from the stage. While it definitely feels like Visions 3D are meant to be experienced amid the chaos of the crowd, their eponymous LP, given enough volume is a window rattler to be reckoned with. Wrapped up in some choice art by NY maze-master Sean C. Jackson, this one’s worth the import ticket.



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Triptides – “See Her Light”

A shot of sunshine from L.A. psych-pop group Triptides lands via a new single on Greenway Records. The psych vets have been carving out their fuzz-pop niche for years and their songs always blow in on a breeze of gooey nostalgia and easy vibes. “See Her Light” kicks in initially as a hard driver until the midway point when it kicks into a baroque bridge and then just lays back into the surf to let the sun wash all over us. The accompanying video is stacked with beachside home video that leans right into the song’s Kodachrome kitsch. Not a bad way to enjoy the door to autumn as the weekend ekes open.



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Ulaan Khol

Stephen R. Smith checks in with his third LP of 2019 under a third alias. This time up he’s landing blows under the Ulaan Khol name, following March’s release under his own Steven R. Smith banner and February’s Ulaan Passerine release. Much like the latter, the Khol arm of his Ulaan empire is fraught with tension, anxiety, and charcoal scraped doom. His collected works have taken on an extraordinarily cinematic quality lately, soundtracking the imagined panoramic sounds of squalid earth and desperate civilizations sifting through the remains of our indulgences gone sour. Perhaps more than any other artist, Smith seems like the one to truly soundtrack the dire crumble of our natural environments. His soundscapes scar the skies and dampen hope, but as fraught as they are with the grit-toothed moments of overwhelming darkness, there’s a strident beauty to Smith’s world.

The driving crescendo that breaks through the smoke on “Above the Arbor” is triumphant, even in the face of such tension. The bilious clouds of smoke that rise from his sonic ruins form ashen monoliths against the reddened skies. The songs are harrowing, but the imprint they leave finds beauty in atrocity. As each arm of the Ulaan (Markhor, Passerine, Khol) universe seems interconnected, its hard not to see this as a continuation of the ravages laid down since at least 2012 within the scope of Smith’s works. Seven years later, the stakes seem just as high as they always were and the consequences are documented on Collapsing Hymns with little room for relent. Naturally, this one comes highly recommended. Smith’s done up the packaging nice as well, the limited cassettes come housed in a stamped wooden box, making this a nice curio of the collapse for you collecting needs.



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