Zachary Cale

The latest album from Zachary Cale, while awash in a sort of sunset dulcet feeling is also soaked in a good dose of uncertainty that feels rather relatable. While the album’s been in the works for the last five years, that uncertainty captures the feeling of a year that seems unable to let up. Cale’s pace quavers between rambling fingerpicked rivulets and the kind of buttered comfort that’s made Kurt Vile, Mike Polizze and the Philly set simmer. He peppers in instrumentals that let his understated prowess shine — skewing pensive at some times, and propulsive at others — tying the album together like a faded tapestry. It’s in his equally worn and weathered lyrics, though, that Cale glows the warmest.

False Spring, as the title suggests, deals with a glimmer of hope snuffed by chance and change. Time is beast on this record, leaving the protagonist stranded, stifled, and generally set adrift. Cale’s songs gnaw at uncertainty and are in turn gnawed right back. Occasionally he revels in the looseness of it all, but more often than not Cale is leaning into the bitter winds with an eye in both directions. He’s looking for the lamplight on the horizon and it’s never quite clear if he’s bound to find it. He brings along a pretty good crew on the voyage, though. His tight backing band including Brent Cordero and Charles Burst of The Occasion is amplified by particularly languid pedal steel from Dan Lead, whose lent his tone to Jess Williamson, Kevin Morby and Cass McCombs. The record is a raft in waters that aren’t so forgiving and its worth holding on tight.




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Ezra Feinberg on Jon Gibson – Two Solo Pieces

Back around the time that Raven was still ramping up there were a good string of releases by Citay. The band was out of step with the indie set at the time. While they had a sense of grandiosity that would slot them in nicely with the ’06 – ’09 class, Ezra Feinberg and Tim Green embraced a cosmic classic rock quality and genuine appreciation of sunshine ‘70s riffs that would have done well had the band been coming onto the scene right about now. Where bands like Garcia Peoples and One Eleven Heavy have been embraced, they’d rightly have Citay to thank. A decade or so later Feinberg has moved on to a more serene thrum, though still struck with a shining positivity that radiates through his playing. With contributions from John McEntire (Tortoise), Chuck Johnson, and Jonas Reinhardt, he’s swimming through the calm, embryonic gap that lies between Eno, Cluster, Ashra, and Riley. Now Ezra’s sharing a gem that’s more in line with his latter day work – the haunting minimalism of Jon Gibson. Head below to see how this one came into his life and the impact its left there.

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Stonegrass

I let loose a track from this monster earlier in the month, but now the full album is upon us and it’s even more expansive than the fuzz chomper, “Tea” lets on. Brainstormed out of sessions between Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) and Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) following the end of their previous endeavor, The Spiritual Sky Blues Band— the two find a cosmic nirvana that mixes hazed strums with wind-bitten fuzz. The album employs haunted psych textures beset with flute fumigations and deep-set zones that ripple through a particularly nocturnal temperament. The pair link up with Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv) on production, making for a potent triumvirate of psychedelic resonance. There’s a deeply grooved library music mantra about the album, rolling together elements of The Feed-Back and Alessandroni while slicing through prog puddles filled with the likes of Xhol Caravan, Kraan, and Paternoster.

Anderson’s involvement injects a slight tinge of funk to the project, as can be heard in the predawn dabbling of “The Highway (To All Known Places),” but the default setting is one of scorched mind-flay with the amps set at fuzz-rumble and the ambience creeping in with a full dose of menace. Dunn and Anderson are certainly no newcomers to the psychedelic sense, but what’s most affecting here is their want to delve deep into their archives of personal pedigree to emulate the far-gone burnt ends of instrumental indulgence. There’s something to love here for the heads who just want to hole up in groove and fuzz, something for those who love the instrumental crust belt, and something for fans of Dunn and Anderson in general. Stonegrass is every bit the dropout dose that the signifiers suggest and more. I suggest strapping in for a turbulent ride.




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Trummors – “Silver City Blues”

A sun-streaked new track slips out today in advance of the new Trummors LP, Dropout City on Ernest Jenning Record Co. The song is a faded-denim dose of cosmic country that ambles in on auburn strums and swooning harmonies. David Lerner and Ann Cunningham left the city steel for New Mexico’s grand expanses a few years back and the desert dust makes its presence felt on the low-light simmer of “Silver City Blues.” The song slides in on buttery leads, breezy harmonies, and a sense of ease that’s hard to resist. The band’s been building up to a release that sounds this effortless and lived-in over the past few years, but it’s hard to deny that this is a high-water mark for their brand of alt-country saunter. Keep an ear out for more from Dropout City as this is only a taste of what the band’s put together for 2020. Move it to the top of the watchlist.




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2nd Grade

This one’s a huge undertaking. While the power pop universe of Peter Gill (Friendship, Free Cake For Every Creature) rarely lasts more than two minutes, he’s packed 24 songs onto this LP from Double Double Whammy. Gill’s approach pushes aside the dedication to the late ‘70s and early ‘80s that so many of the latter day saints of power pop have adopted, almost to a dogged fault. Instead it’s clear that Gill’s heart belongs to the ‘90s school as it bled into the early aughts and he’s not afraid to wear that badge proudly on his sleeve. Snagging both ends of the decade, there are the huge hooks and that touch of sunshine with a melancholy soul that marked the works of the Velvet Crush/Mathew Sweet/Choo Choo Trains axis. Yet its clear that Gill may have had a Ben Kweller or Radish CD in his Case Logic clutch as well. Moments that recall the sorely overlooked 2nd offering from Superdrag crop up as well as an aftertaste of Fountains of Wayne.

Gill’s ability to pluck from so many different nooks of the ‘90s and still make the album feel cohesive and natural speaks to his songwriting. Shifts from winsome and sweet, to a more gnarled feel come without the jostling they might cause in lesser hands. Inside jokes that would make the Apples in Stereo blush abound. Strums that are simple and saccharine litter his work, but they land every time. The album’s a treasure trove of hooks and a ‘choose your own adventure’ volume of heartbreak and joy if the shuffle feature is employed. There’s something about the sheer volume of tracks mixed with the bite-size approach that feels like there’s no wrong way to listen to Hit To Hit. With the temps climbing this month, it feels like letting a little sun shine in is a good idea and 2nd Grade have got ya covered for any moment.





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Cut Worms – “Castle In The Clouds”

On his last album Max Clarke paid a visit to the 50’s harmonies of the Everlys, cut with a touch of twang that gave them a faded pastiche of Western Fringe and ’60s California neon humming through the night. From the sounds of “Castle In The Clouds” he’s taking the that touch of twang and turning it up a notch. The song pushes him away from those Everly Brothers swoons and into a lonesome territory that’s skewing more Gene Clark as he worked his way from The Godsins to Doug Dillard. I’ve been smitten by the current sweep of indie and folk towards an adoption of the Cosmic Americana and Country corners and Clarke has been doing it as well as most. This one leaves a lot of anticipation for his upcoming LP, which seems to have full details forthcoming. Either way, get it on the watch list and in the meantime spend a few minutes replaying “Castle In The Clouds” on repeat.

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Pop Filter – “Laughing Falling”

Kinda loving this new cut from Aussies Pop Filter. A low-slung jangler that employs a New Wave beat, “Laughing Falling,” is an instant charmer. The song attempts to wrangle the fuzzy delight of being a bit buzzed and walking around and its got a nice take on that out-of-body delight wherein you can almost watch yourself having a good time while simultaneously being sad that its going to end. That curdle of sadness ripples underneath, and in the sunset hues that streak the song, but mostly its a romp. The band takes a nice stab at the distanced video with a steampunk exploration that’s not just band members playing parts in different houses — a trope that’s already worn too thin. The song sidles alongside previous single “Romance At The Petrol Station,” and both will appear on their album Banksia in August.



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The Reds, Pinks and Purples – “I Should Have Helped You”

Some subtle news slips out over the long weekend that there’s a new 7” from The Reds, Pinks and Purples coming on EU label Discreet Music. The official follow-up to the band’s last LP, Anxiety Art culls four tracks from Glenn and co.’s prolific Bandcamp run over the last few months. In addition to the title track, “I Should Have Helped You,” the record picks up official version of “Unrequited,” “Keep Your Secrets Close,” and “They Only Wanted Your Soul.” As with the last album the band excels at mining the Sarah Records heyday with songs that tip both jangled and jilted – catchy but with a true melancholy heat. There’s not a cut on here worth missing but check out the autumn sighs that abound on the EP closer below. The song’s got Glenn’s earnest delivery humming and close enough to feel breath in the speakers, but its heard to push down the lump in the throat that forms over these two and a half minutes. Seems there should be some copies stateside soon, but there’s a link below for the import as well. Along with his Telephone Numbers output, these are some of Donaldson’s most intimate, but aching songs and its worth keeping an ear on them to see what’s popping up next.




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Prana Crafter

While there may be a lot going on (even while there’s nowhere to go) that’s no reason not to focus in on the head zone these days. In the midst of global pandemic, there’s been a wealth of new music from RSTB fave Prana Crafter — from tapes to streams, and it begs lower light and a deep dive into the embryonic abyss. First, as a part of an excellent drop of albums from Null Zone Tapes, which also included one from Rootless, Curanderos, and Khoutek, Will Sol inhabits the cosmic cloud on two sidelong tracks. The first cut nudges into Terry Riley territory – amorphous and numbing in a wonderful way before it begins to take shape from the dust with ripples and riffs that let the mind wander interdimensionally for at least a few minutes. As the listener is lead out of the stasis haze, Sol filters in a touch of organ and acoustic playing that brings us all back to our senses. The visions that floated to the surface during the sensory depravation of the first 10-12 minutes fade away, but footing is still a bit spongey at best. Things turn much darker on the second side, and a whole lot less serene.

With a riff that sounds like Sabbath, or Amon Düül II filtering over the hills (its hard to pin down through the tempest winds that seem to blow up), Sol begins a more scorched approach on “Eye Closed Inner Thunder.” The song quivers in an unseen gale, but it seems defiant in the face of nature — screaming into the void and lashing itself to the mast. The two pieces, while nothing alike in tone give the impression of two halves of a whole. The first is bliss, ignorant or otherwise, and overwhelming calm. The second is the voice inside that told you to panic and the rage that bubbles beneath the surface come calling for a visit. Though neither of those feeling overwhelm the second piece by the end. Sol tame the tempest with a flurry of acoustic strums that match up with some of his best.

If this hits you right and you’re in the mood for more Crafter then I’d recommend heading over to Youtube to check out a set Will did from home that lays out some new material — comprised of the bulk of a new album he’s working on for Cardinal Fuzz/Feeding Tube later in the year along with few embellishments. Definitely an engrossing 30-min set for any night you need to hit the zone. Side note on the Null Zone releases as well — all proceeds from digital sales for this album will be donated to the Garrie Vereen Memorial Emergency Relief Fund organized by Nuçi’s Space in Athens, GA. The set is pay as you wish, but keep that in mind as you checkout.





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Ash & Herb

Maine duo Ash & Herb (Ash Brooks and Matt Lajoie) have been incubating a haven of psyco-delic bliss in the Northeast for sometime. Under their Flower Room imprint they’ve housed releases by both Matt and Ash solo, combined, meditating as Starbirthed and interspersed into different tessellations of the two — with focuses ranging from Kosmiche to folk. When combined, and flying under the Ash & Herb banner, the results can vary stylistically. Their last single hit on a Cosmic Americana choogle that was well received around here. Perhaps someday they’ll return to the grooved graces of that particular valley, but for “Roughin’ It” they travel outward, into the gaseous ether that clings loosely to this Terra Firma.

The pair recorded the bulk of the album live in spaces around New England and it showcases them pushing their improvisational itch into the furthest reaches of headspace harmony. The album kicks in with two tracks that buzz with a writhing energy — insistent hum n’ thrum that resolves into cosmic glances. They soften the approach as the record works its way in, not quite finding breezy but settling on a swayed hiss for “Mudra of Creation.” The song, and really the record on the whole, has a raw quality to it. There’s a vulnerability that feels like it hovers between bootleg live lightning and homegrown private press goodness. The playing is untethered, yet fluid. The band’s not wrong to label some of the nodes here Frippian in their approach and we’re all at the benefit of the mutable magic that takes place over the extent of this tape.

Highlight “Ascension Tea” rides the invisible airwaves through the small bones of the skull, reverberating the senses and looking to lock down the lysergic energy that we all need to get us through the day/week/month at hand. The sounds slip through the soil of our consciousness feeding the soul with a refreshing dose of damp psychedelics and free zone simmer that’s vital when the air fogs with spring’s sop. While this would all be a bounty on any day, Matt and Ash don’t let the spring run on just this release alone. Alongside this they offer up a new EP from Ash that’s every bit the equal to the zones traversed here and a bevy of outtakes too. Plus a stash of Herbcraft sketches that give context to Wot Oz while standing up well on their own. Check the label’s site and get digging into all that they have to offer. Stream the whole album below before it’s out tomorrow.



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