Bloods – “Bring My Walls Down”

Bloods-BitsandPieces

Syndey’s Bloods return for a sophomore album and the first track blows in like a sweet breeze across the ocean. They soften the attack but keep their chewy ’90s center strong, transitioning from garage pop into a gnarled bit of Alt rock that mines The Muffs, Letters To Cleo and Veruca Salt. There’s been a steady turn towards the ’90s in the past couple of years but its always great when bands fight the right touchstones, and this is definitely a welcomed refinement for Bloods. The song finds the band and singer MC ruminating on a crush that lowers all defenses, the kind of overwhelming infatuation that leaves you vulnerable because you can’t help but sputter out the first things that pop into your head. I noticed that the band had DJ’d a night of teen movie soundtrack classics last year, and that alone makes perfect sense, since “Bring My Walls Down” feels like it might find itself right at home sandwiched between cuts on the Clueless Soundtrack or fueling 10 Things I Hate About You‘s femme pop heavy sound. If they were still making the kind of teen comedies that leaned heavily on turning Shakespeare and Jane Austen into parables for the mall set, some music supervisor would be losing their shit over this one.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Sam Coomes

SamCoomes-Under-Review

Sam Coomes is tied to a lot of lush and rather put together pop music, from his heyday in Quasi (though they had some cracks in the sheen to be sure) to Heatmiser’s alt-pedestal ascension and Built To Spill’s major label moments. So its fun to see Sam just let loose. There’s a manifesto behind the sonic stripdown and it has to do with too much access to home recording technology and creating art rather than artifice, but truthfully the more telling bit has to do with liking practical effects in old movies. Coomes is right, there’s a certain grace to seeing the cracks in the surface and watching the animatronics move under the creepy robotic animals’ faces. Think the Rock-Afire Explosion playing on through a horrendous restaurant fire and you’re getting there. In that regard, Bugger Me is Coomes slapstiched version of a Suicide dreamscape, full of haunted organ and junkyard beats from a castaway rhythm box. It feels like a DIY puppet show might spring up at anytime with tiny marionettes banging out wheezy organ lines and a few stings getting tangled in the process.

It’s not the glowing pop orb of Quasi’s sound that he brings but rather his own hangdog sadness that’s always seemed a great part of his own songs. Coomes could always play the part of the downtrodden drinking buddy, but here he’s gone full junkyard Tom Waits to prove his commitment. The album’s got charms like a late night stumble on an lost b-movie; MST3K without the commentary, just bad effects and endearing moments that make you want to laugh through the pain.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Chook Race

ChookRace-Under-Review

Amping up the pop from last year’s About Time LP, Chook Race are due to issue their new album on Brisbane’s always awesome Tenth Court and the ever reliable Trouble in Mind here in the states. They’ve smoothed the wrinkles and delivered an album that draws on Flying Nun’s jangled past as well as some more Americanized indie pastiches that feel welcome in their hands. While the dreaded D word hasn’t crossed into the US with regards to Aussie pop, abroad Dolewave rules and Chook Race have largely steered clear of what would normally be the hallmarks of the current indie ripple, though they do have a tendency to meditate on the everyday hangups that quirk up our lives. They break apart from the pack though and trade shaggy swagger for a crisper sense of melody and a sparkle that gives the songs on Around The House a yearning quality that’s less aloof than it is quietly lonesome and incredibly catchy.

The band have a handle on winsome pop that’s not knotted up in rote lackadaisical jangle as much as it bounds from the bounce of strings to driving buzz in an instant. The band kicked the surf out of their system for the most part and found a new friend in the heart of the Athens, GA songbook – think more R.E.M. and Elf Power than Pylon and B-52’s. They knock around a mix of guy/girl vocals (how come we never say man/lady? Is it that rock keeps us forever young?) in perfect volleys, spiriting the album along to an almost cruelly quick conclusion. They leave the fans wanting more, while providing a salve for the troublesome clouds of daily life. Honestly, its hard to ask for more than that of a pop album these days. It soothes the savage burn, complements a cup of tea and you can shake ‘n shimmy to it.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Ausmuteants – “Music Writers”

Ausmuteants-BitsandPieces

Ausmuteants know how to cut to the damn core. Not only do they insist on reminding us why Devo will always be the most badass assassins of the new wave revolution, but they do it while insulting the very cycle of press and regurgitation that prevails in this age of music journalism. Hell, I sympathize completely. Commentary and criticism have gone by the wayside in favor of quick wrist content and onesheet pilfering to ease the speed. You’re getting hard pressed to find an opinion on why songs are good, just a link and a puff of smoke from the label’s copy. But aside from the biting lyricism, “Music Writers” is stacked full of the sci-fi twinge of synth and caffeinated guitars that Ausmuteants have made their own over the last couple of years, and to be truthful, they’ve rarely done it as well as they have here. Its them at their most acerbic and their catchiest. Its the full package. So lap it up.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Dead Sea Apes

DeadSeaApes-Under-Review

Manchester’s Dead Sea Apes return to Cardinal Fuzz (Skylantern in the US) for an epic bout of high desert blues and creeping drone psych. The label’s not entirely off base in comparing this to a lost Jodorowsky soundtrack. Maybe somewhere out there El Topo II is awaiting an injection of lysergic heaviness. This might be just the ticket. But even without a cracked psychedelic western as the backdrop, Soy Dios holds its own in terms of conjuring up visual imagery. Rife with tense passages from the outset, the record licks the knife edge and runs the blood along the strings. Setup as a four song suite bearing the album’s title on each track, the band moves from the crushing blow of the opener to creeping distress with calculated ease. There’s a bit of Barn Owl’s expansive drift and curdled unease coursing through Soy Dios and the album seems to have studied well at the altar of Earth’s Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method.

To lump it as merely cribbing from those sources, though, would be to give the album less credit than its due. They hold much in common with those two bands, but its clear that over the last few years Dead Sea Apes have been building up to this cycle of songs. The album arcs with a vision, slashing wild and dragging the listener through the parched flatlands of pts. II and III with precise tension and a sense of abandoned hopelessness. In fact maybe we round back to that Jodorowsky parallel once again. Someone get Alejandro on the phone. Tell hims to cast Liam Neeson and set him alone in the parched wilds, snake bitten and feeling the effects; fighting the elements, his grip on sanity, and a spiritual projection of his own sense of mortality and failure in the form of a massive cougar. Neeson’s reborn in blood only to die of dehydration, twisting in contorted hallucinations through the latter half of the film, underscored ably by Soy Dios. Was the cougar ever real? Was Liam? That might be the best analogy of how the album feels. Its cinematic, but in a way that feels like a happy ending isn’t waiting anywhere near the culmination of the journey.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Massage – “Crying Out Loud / Under”

Massage-singlesclub

Seems all that jangle in the South Hemi is bleeding its way northward and those with the right kind of ears are tuning in. L.A.’s Massage take heart in the sweet and dour strums of the Twerps/Boomgates vein of Aussie pop, while also taking a swerve past strains of the Sarah Records germ that may have planted a seed during guitarist Alex Naidus’ tenure in The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. In general though, as the band attests, they live in L.A. but their hearts are adrift in Australia. The A-side sways with three part harmonies and a pining lyric that’s delivered with wistful sweetness by keyboardist Gabi Ferrer. On the flip, things kick up to a faster pace with a bright shock of pounding riffs and some of those Sarah records notes floating though, weaving their vocal harmonies into bittersweet knots with the deft skill of Veronica Falls at their best. The EP was recorded by Papercuts’ Jason Quever, who’d knocked into the band practicing around the corner from his studio. The veteran engineer gives things a subtle sheen and sparkle that compliments the band’s effervescent pop. Its a pretty perfect double shot that’s bound to knock around your skull for days. Here’s hoping that this grows to a full length soon.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Ashra – Correlations

Ashra-Re-released

Those familiar with Manuel Göttsching’s Ash Ra Temple and even early solo Göttsching albums may feel lost on Correlations. Its an odd nut in his discography, though a rewarding one given time. Its certainly not as overtly psychedelic as the early Ash Ra work; not as tied into hippie culture as their collaboration with Timothy Leary or as critically lauded as New Age Of Earth. Like their collab with Leary though, its a record that seems to split fan opinion harshly. Given that the album was released in ’79 its not impossible to imagine that something like the emergence of disco might have had an effect on Göttsching, though not in any dancefloor ready capacity. There’s a propulsiveness to much of the record, provided by the drumming of Harald Grosskopf, whose influence here could also explain the influx of synth-pop to Ashra’s sound. Grosskopf would release his own overlooked gem, Sythesist a year later. Those disco and proto-syth elements give the record its own unique space that floats somewhere between Minimal Wave knob twiddlers, Prog’s slide towards ’80s slickness and the Kosmiche atmospheres that Göttsching had long since been perfecting.

There’s also a great deal of crossover sound between Correlations and late period Pink Floyd. Roger Waters’ guitar lines must have had some impact on Göttsching, as he’s either striving for or arriving at the same tones and fluidity that come naturally associated with the post-Wall era of those particular Prog heavies. The record’s had a few editions over the years, some with lackluster sound quality, and often its been more noted for its cover art by design house Hipgnosis more than its contents. The latest edition bumps up the remastered sound and includes an alternate, earlier version of the album, intended to be called Phantasus. This version was recorded with Udo Arndt in ’78 and it re-imagines the album’s sound and running order. The record’s still an odd one after all these years, not quite a Krautrock album proper, not quite synth or Prog. It certainly disappointed a fair amount of fans when it hit the shelves, fans who were expecting a more literal follow-up to New Age of Earth. In retrospect though, this is one of those oddities that finds its importance in hindsight. Its an album of connective tissue that might go down smooth, but it burns in its own bright way.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Radar Eyes – “Community”

RadarEyes-BitsandPieces

I’m almost a little wary to believe this is the same Radar Eyes that surfaced in 2012 on their eponymous LP. Where once there was a murky garage chug, now the band have blown full on into a jangled ’80s headspace that’s cribbing hard from their Echo and the Bunnymen and Cure collections; none maybe more so than “Community” which seems like it could easily pass for an Echo b-side lost to the winds. The band is nailing the theatrical sweep, the dark crashes of synth and guitar and Anthony Cozzi’s booming vocals find themselves stretching over the top in every sense of the phrase. There’s a strain of XTC winding its way through there as well and, while all these influences don’t necessarily speak to creating an original footprint with their new direction, they’re paying their 80’s homage right. “Community” is a nice bit of jangle n’ jolt that finds itself stuck your head every time.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Magic Trick

MagicTrick-Under-Review

I’ve always loved that Magic Trick is Tim Cohen’s outlet to go full 70’s Tim Buckley. To wander down Gene Clark roadways and flesh out his troubadorisms outside of the bounds and expectations of The Fresh & Onlys. His voice has the easy, mellifluous quality that lends itself to his payday jangle-pop; but its just as comfortable in a dusted blazer, strumming songs alone in a smoke cloud, center studio to be augmented with all manner of accoutrements in post. Fresh & Onlys is a push-pull between Cohen’s gravitas and Wymond Miles’ furrowed tension, but left to their own devices they’re able to amp up their strengths, as is evident with Miles’ stunning turn earlier this year. In his own right Cohen lets Other Man’s Blues shine as a darker corner of his songwriting, feeling far from breezy, the album is interested more in creating a collective enviornment that utilizes the studio as process and as partner.

The album benefits from a huge, rotating cast of players, as Cohen holed up for a week with Phil Manley but invited plenty of friends to drop by and shape the record. The result is less slap/dash than it its the culmination of several secret weapons all converging as one to give Cohen’s songs wings. James Barone (Beach House) and Alicia Van Heuvel (Aislers Set) turn in time and studio Swiss Army knife Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang / The Muggers) rears his head as well. The album certainly doesn’t come off as something that went into recording open-ended, but the collaborative spirit gives Other Man’s Blues that right sense of drinking-til-dawn-to-find-the-song that gave life to those 70′ hallmarks of excess turned brilliance. Cohen may have only spent a week hammering out the cramps on Other Man’s Blues but the mindset of month long jaunts and nights spent ’til dawn in the live room take root here, making it feel like someone lost a fortune for us to all find hope in its arms. Even if that’s not the case, the record’s still bigger sounding than most living rooms, cars or headphones can hope to contain and for that I’m grateful.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Cory Hanson – “Ordinary People”

Cory-Hanson-BitsandPieces

Wand is pretty damn prolific as it is, so the news that the band’s Cory Hanson is embarking on a solo record seems like he’s pushing his limits. Though the sound of “Ordinary People” is worlds away from Wand’s powder keg of psych stomp and garage explosion so maybe this Hanson letting his guard down and searching the other side of the coin. Starting with a swell of strings and building to a gorgeous bit of chamber folk that comes on with fragile, yet orchestrated appeal of 60’s nuggets like Gandalf (there’s a bit of a “Hang On To A Dream” quality), bits of The Zombies or even Susan Christie; “Ordinary People” is a psych-folk gem that’s light on the psych but heavy on the emotional impact. Its a new take on Hanson’s songwriting and to tell the truth, the lighter side looks good on him. Not that I’m going to shrug at any fire and flash from the Wand camp, but this kind of lush folk is always a welcome ticket around here. Can’t wait to see how this song stacks up with the whole album. The world needs more weird folk nuggets out there.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments