Peacers – “Irish Suit”

The lineups on Peacers records are often in flux, but at the core Mike Donovan (Sic Alps) is always digging into the bile and bone marrow of lonesome nights and desperate blues. This time around he welcomes back Bo Moore, Shayde Sartin and Mike Shoun and the first cut from the upcoming Blexxed Rec feels like the band coming into its own. The last record had its teeth flashed, slashing apart the weathered cool that Mike had slung on his debut. A couple of solo records in the same headspace followed but something here feels like its flowing back to the distilled waters of Wot and the eponymous Peacers debut. “Irish Suit” is just a quick clamp on the consciousness, but it leaves a mark. Hung heavy and heaving, its just the kind of wearied smoke we need circulating in the early days of 2021. The new record is out via Drag City on March 26th.



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Hotels on Mars – “Worst Year On Record”

The opener, “Worst Year on Record,” from the Hotels On Mars’ debut has only gotten more prescient since the time it was recorded. A farewell to 2020 set to be released just a month and a half after the year’s fallen off the calendar, and its fair to say the taste hasn’t come close to getting washed out of anyone’s mouths. The song hits like a sigh, deep and unconsciously shed. Mat Weitman’s sauntered vocals slouch nicely in the shade of his crimson slides, strums pulled close and comforting like an heirloom afghan. The song’s got a half turned smirk to it, but in the end the universal truth shows through the quip. There’s a half-whiff of the current country creep into cosmic folk at play, but Weitman also has a knack for channeling the last wave from ’04-’06 quite nicely — playing in the shadows of The Sky High Band, Disciples-era Skygreen, and Vetiver.

The record is out February 12th from Styles Upon Styles, and as a contribution caveat, Mat notes, “As a Brooklyn-based artist I find it extremely important to engage with and support my community. While this song and record are retrospective in terms of subject matter, I have chosen to give 50% of all proceeds to the South Brooklyn Mutual Aid; if we all try to help one another, we can make this year better than the last.”



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Matthew E. White & Lonnie Holley – “Broken Mirror, A Selfie Reflection”

This one hits pretty hard and doesn’t let up, burrowing deep into the soul with a kind of molten creep that’s been dormant for at least a couple of decades or more. Channeling the spirit and fusion of electric Miles, Brown Rice-era Don Cherry, and Albert Ayler, this collaboration from Matthew E. White and Lonnie Holley shows two artists weaving their styles in ways that draw blood every time. The bones of the album were recorded by White in 2018 as an instrumental record born out of improvisation with his assembled septet, but the record didn’t feel finished. It lay in wait for a few years until White crossed paths with Holley in 2019, lending his assembled players as the backing band to a set on Holley’s tour through Virgina. The two found a kinship and Holley became the spark that would ignite Broken Mirror, A Selfie Reflection. The sculptor turned musician’s brilliance is on display from the first moments on album opener “This Here Jungle of Moderness/Composition 14” and I can confirm that it doesn’t let up over the next four tracks, Holley’s vocals dancing over the grooves that White and crew had laid previously. The record arrives April 9th from Spacebomb/Jagjaguwar.



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Real Numbers – “Brighter Then”

Fittingly named Brighter Then, the new EP from Minneapolis’ Real Numbers polishes the band’s sound into the rosy reflection of Sarah records’ best, bringing to mind East River Pipe, The Field Mice, and quite honestly, Brighter. The band expands to a five piece on the new release and keys from Sophie Durbin really flesh out the band’s jangled ennui, giving songs a less sinewy feel than before. Along with the atmospherics, the band’s Eli Hansen, gives the record an emotional heft that blends well with a soft-focus production, smearing their songs in a heartsick glow. The EP doesn’t linger long, at just five songs, but while it sticks around Real Numbers make their presence felt. The hooks are more subtle than barbed, but over time they work their way into your brain just the same. I’ve been a fan of the band’s evolution over the past few years, with “Frank Infatuation” winding up a perennial favorite around here. The new batch proves they’ve still got plenty more surprises in store.

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The Pink Stones – “Blueberry Dream”

Quite into this new single from Athens’ The Pink Stones. The band’s been slipping out a couple of solid singles through Bandcamp over the past year or so and now they make a jump to New West imprint Normaltown. The first cut from the upcoming Introducing…The Pink Stones is a buttery slide through the cosmic canyon, laying into the pedal steel and watching the clouds contort into shapes above. “Blueberry Dream,” conjurs a lush West Coast oasis of sound, letting the echo fall like fog around the edges of its sun-baked country calm. Looking forward to more in this vein from the band when their debut lands on April 9th. For now, I’ll just keep this video, directed by The Pink Stones, Rosalia Parra, Rosie Kelly, and Dylan Newling, on repeat.



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Alex Bleeker – “La La La”

Got a new one that swings at the sunset pretty damn nicely. Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker has had a solid solo hustle over past few years — sometimes with The Freaks and sometimes simply under his own name. This one falls under the latter and sees the songwriter slide into the Night Bloom roster for his new LP Heaven On The Faultline. Bleeker’s always had the most cosmic connotations of any of the Estate solo jaunts, and that deep sway Cosmic Americana vibe is on full display on “La La La.” The record often finds him lounging in a sea-cooled West Coast calm, jangles edging up to the borders of twang, but never quite tumbling into country territory. The song (and admittedly a great deal of the album) shares some space with newfound indie jam pockets like Pacific Range, Hurt Valley, and Arbor Labor Union. The last album hit some Workingman’s and Big Pink touchstones and they haven’t abated in the interim. The new LP is out March 5th.



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Farmer Dave and the Wizards of West

Been a good year for the return of Farmer Dave Scher. The Beachwood Sparks / All Night Radio alum has never left the sphere for too long, playing with Kurt Vile, Jenny Lewis, Elvis Costello, Will Oldham, and The Skiffle Players, but he returned with a solo EP release last year that explored new territory and now the debut from Farmer Dave and the Wizards of West surfaces. The new venture marks his first full length in ten years, breaking some new ground, while leaving Dave’s penchant for nebulous psychedelia in tact. More sun-baked than his works with All Night Radio, who always hit a slid more into the charming chimes of Byrds territory, if the band had found themselves enamored with the Echoplex, the new record finds itself tossed in the froth and reveling in the weightlessness.

On this eponymous debut Scher and his assembled players push heavier than he ever really has in the past, not to the point of distortion, but the jangles are replaced with stadium-sized organs, and the cosmic waves of guitar that get lost deep in the prog puddled waters of the early ‘70s. Though, to be fair, he manages to eschew the genre’s density, still finding his songs lifted through the smoke and above the assembled crowds in psychedelic glee. The Wizards of West feel like they’re enjoying the float as well, surfing the strange magic between psych, surf, and prog with little care to where they land. Yet, the record sticks its ground, feeling like an extension of where Scher left of a decade ago and where Curation seems headed as a new outpost of cosmic refuge in the modern age.



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Cameron Knowler & Eli Winter – “Strawberry Milk”

One of the LPs that snuck into the Raven rotation at the end of the year was from Eli Winter. His patient, paintely playing was a welcome source of solace in rough times and it comes as excellent news that he already has a new LP on the way. This time Winter pairs up with bluegrass player Cameron Knowler. Though to set the scene with Knowles bluegrass credentials is a bit of a false promise. The two find a middle ground, between brush-beat ramble of bluegrass and Winter’s dawnlight passages that owe a bit of their heart to Daniel Bachman and Jack Rose. Having played together along quiet stretches of the Texas borderlands, the pair created a bond that comes through on the record, with opener “Strawberry Milk” lulling the listener like highway lines stretching through the baked mountain vistas. The record arrives March 12th from American Dreams. Check out the video for “Strawberry Milk” above.



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The Mickey Finn – “The Mickey Finn 1964/1967”

Seems like The Mickey Finn always surfaces on garage comps when the gaze switches to the UK. From Nuggets to Chocolate Soup For Diabetics, the band’s psych single “The Garden of My Mind” finds its way into the ranks and adds a nice edge of psych-tipped R&B. The band never recorded an album proper, but their singles output is fairly solid over the years preceding their most famous single and this proper roundup from Munster does a bit better at giving an overview than previously culled comps, with the latest being a mostly European centered release from about 6 years back that’s a bit hard to find these days. The Mickey Finn 1964/1967 keeps the scope on their harder blues crossover singles, a period that often finds them as notable trivia fodder for the fact that the band’s friend Jimmy Page would sit in with them on tracks — adding harmonica to a trio of covers from Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley.

As the band pushed further on, they connected with producer Shel Talmy (The Kinks, The Who) and began to expand their sound from straight blues runners to songs that built more menace and space into the mix. “Night Comes Down” is probably the most prominent of the Talmy singles, with spaced organs and acerbic guitars entering the fray. This collection, while not boasting a complete overview of the band, does cut through any excess to deliver the band’s best works, while bringing them to a full LP release for the first time. Something here for the garage heads and British blues fans alike, but in rounding up the band’s singles, Munster has created a proper album for the band that proves they were more than just a bit of Zeppelin-adjacent trivia.



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New Bums – “Turned To Graffiti”

Still loving every thread of this upcoming New Bums LP and the band lets out another great track from its folds. With a cryptic video attached, Donovan and Ben set the backdrop on the fatalistic “Turned to Graffiti.” The song has a bittersweet core but there’s breeze in its bones, with chiming guitars that pull from the slight sway of South American folk music, feeling like it might be celebratory if there wasn’t worry between their words. Both songwriters have long been favorites around here, so its great to see them teaming up for a record of furrowed, road -dusted new folk favorites. The new LP, Last Time I Saw Grace is out March 19th on Drag City.

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