Wireheads

Its starting to get frustrating shouting into the dark about Wireheads. Dom Trimoboli and his deck shuffled band of musicians have been consistently finding the spark to light up the parched outback punk that threads is way through their releases and it feels like someone should be taking notice. They pick up the thread of sandpapered alternative that waxed experimental in the ’90s, feeling every bit like they’re holed up at Fort Apache rather than a hidden island in Anacortes, Wa. But, to follow their muse, the band again returns to the American Northwest for aid from discordant divining rod Calvin Johnson, a match that seemed serendipitous two albums ago and now feels like perfect symbiosis.

With Johnson at the boards, this record expands on the magnification of hooks that took place on Big Issues, producing some of the band’s downright catchiest songs to date. Their sound began to coalesce on Arrive Alive, letting Trimboli become comfortable in surroundings that weren’t as barbed as their debut, but here he sounds more confident in his prowess than ever. There’s no shortage of dissonance, but it’s coating some real pop nuggets here. Rolling their strums and squalls in the shattered glass trappings of The Fall and the jittery explosiveness of The Pixies, Wireheads are making the kind of weird, wandering, addictive records that used to flesh out the world of college radio long before CMJ took a tumble.

I hate to try to squeeze a little life out of the expression “they don’t make ’em like this anymore” but it might just be the best way to sum up Lightning Ears. Wireheads are a band making records for themselves, clearly not giving two shits what stylistic notions are de rigueur, home or abroad, they simply channel the shaggy beauty that rumbles underneath the itchy skin of of Aussie indie, poking at the comfortability of slacker pop in the process.




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David West with Teardrops

Ah goddamnit, just when the term supergroup lost its last shred of meaning, David West had to go and assemble The Teardrops, a backing band that would fit the term if they really needed a set in stone label. Thing is, they don’t. The record plays like a collaboration of friends sketching out the best Aussie pop that’s been hurtled down the belt this year. Featuring Bob Jones of Eaters, Louis Hooper of Rat Columns, Mikey Young of Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Raven Mahon of Grass Widow, the friends in particular flesh out a well-oiled pop machine that churns hooks and makes it all just look effortless. It would be impressive on its own if West hadn’t also cobbled together the charming new Rat Columns record earlier in the year, making this his second spotless classic of 2017.

Cherry On Willow is rife with cream-thick basslines that squirm underneath a frothing batch of new wave pop cut high with enough sparkling pleasures to fill out any dream playlist. Taken together, though, the album zigs though the many tessellations that made new wave and post-punk such indefinable genres. He’s dubbing out to blissed atmospheres one minute and cutting us down with knife-edge guitars in the next. West is a master pop chameleon, but his most enduring quality might be his ability to stitch stylistic gaps without making an album sound woefully disjointed.

Cherry On Willow sounds like an arc, a journey mapped out by someone writing a soundtrack rather than an album. He’s put together the highs and lows with precision. West nails down the euphoria and giddy sheen on the title track, then dives into melancholy on “Time To Forget” and the haunting “Swan’s Beat.” There’s plenty to love on his third solo album proper, and for those that are already in David’s corner this album comes as no real surprise, but a pleasure nonetheless.




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Lee Noble

Like Grouper, Lee Noble resides in a world of shadows and fog, whispered secrets and floating harmonics that are enveloped by the surrounding environs. His latest tape is a continuation of his synth exorcisms, dragging the spirit world for lost transmissions that ferret out the weight of the world on the soul. His pieces aren’t set up for movement, slow and steady, they build as environmental cues – with a focus on imperfections in texture, hues of grey that pock mark floors and walls and a steady rise in atmospheric humidity. It’s as if all of a sudden you’re in Noble’s world and the decay has become a home you can’t leave, or simply lose the resolve to escape.

The beginning of the album works its way through a hazy pre-dawn light, peppered with the kind of low hums that bring to mind mechanical idling. But Noble stacks on emotional swells and, as the album progresses, vocals give the album a heartbreaking quality of faded yearning that feels tied to the degraded universe of Leyland Kirby. The Hell of You Come in erects a farmhouse, empty and full of lonesome ghosts pulling at your every emotion, before letting the whole thing sink into the Earth with a final spectral wail. There are a lot of ways to run ambient and Noble has carved out his own indefinable niche in the sound – one that’s ineffably sad, but packs a hold that won’t soon let go.




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Ciggie Witch – “Shadow”

Melbourne’s Ciggie Witch have found their own shambolic place in the pantheon of Aussie indie, refining and polishing their take since 2014’s Rock and Roll Juice. Alongside similarly conglomerate bands like Scott & Charlene’s Wedding or Wireheads, they’ve followed both pop brilliance and their own oddball impulses. But as with those two bands, when they’re on, they’re fucking on and they prove that with “Shadow,” a dark and sinewy ramble through jangled pastures. The song melds chiming guitars with mournful slide to find a place of bittersweet hope that’s elevated way beyond the fray of your average indie punters domestic or South Hemi. If the song is any barometer, their new tape for Lost and Lonesome is going to be a necessary pickup. Don’t let it get lost in the clutter of this overstuffed Fall.




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Scattered Purgatory

For a band from Taiwan, Scattered Purgatory owe an awful huge debt to Germany. Their latest, Sua-Hiam-Zun, is forged from the same clouded waters that sprang Popul Vuh, Ash Ra Temple and Cluster. The album works with atmosphere as its medium, building tension through a massive cavern of sound that feels as if its sprung up slowly on all sides. The listener is trapped in glacial ice and moved with an inching dread towards fates unknown. The duo seems to merely take the German Progressives as a jump off, however, working their systems into festering, humming dystopian dreamscapes that remain anxious despite limited moving parts.

Synths growl like the bellows of huge furnaces, hot and dry with the arid stink of smelted metal. Those remain the bedrock of Sua-Hiam-Zun, but are often shrouded in a layer of fog that seems unbreakable, as if it stretches clear to the highest reaches of the album’s choked atmosphere. The real movement is contained to clattering and clanging percussive notes that seem to act as the inhabitants of Scattered Purgatory’s universe. Needless to say, that universe has no apparent love for itself – a negative space that’s full of life trapped under glass.

Scattered Purgatory takes aim at both doom and drone on this album and wind up finding the best of both. The widescreen drones, of course, do nothing to relax the mind as the band continues to punch the anxiety centers of our brains at each leaden moment, but the cinematic grandeur also comes with a feeling of strange imprisonment that’s harder and harder to resist as the album progresses. We see the end coming and are almost powerless to stop it, dragged down by dread and fear and perhaps hopelessness, but in its absolute domination of the horizon, the end seems almost breathtaking to behold through Scattered Purgatory’s eyes.




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Premiere: Fire Heads – “Forgot It Now”

Brand new cut from Fire Heads (formerly Fire Retarded) who’ve toughened up their sound to a slashed-knuckled punk rumble for their upcoming LP on Big Neck. The band features longtime RSTB fave Bobby Hussy (The Hussy, Cave Curse), though it strays pretty far from his usual garage-pop fare. “Forgot It Now” is snapped into a gonzo punk strain that wouldn’t sit too uneasily next to fellow Midwestern shred lord Timmy Vulgar. The song is teetering on the edge and ready to blow bolts at any second. The band is taking the carnage on the road this fall, so if you’re lurking around a town they’re heading to, be sure to go sweat out a few songs with them. Dates below.

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Mapache

L.A. duo Mapache are probably a bit late on their particular sound a couple of times over, but that’s kind of the charm of it. The band is evoking the vibes that ran through the country-tinged revival that pushed bands Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde into the modern lexicon – their own sound itself just a reflection of The Flying Burritos, solo Gram, Gene Clark and The Byrds before them. The connection to those ’90s psych stalwarts is no chance happening, though. The band’s Clay Finch is a cousin to Beachwood’s Chris Gunst, who has championed the youngbloods along with The Tyde’s Brent Rademaker. Both have stepped up to push the young duo to their place among L.A.’s live set.

With that kind of endorsement and lineage you’re either coasting on the fumes of nepotism or you had better be able to back it up. The eponymous debut from the duo boasts more of the latter thankfully. It breaks with the widescreen, panoramic production of their mentors, instead opting for spare arrangements that focus on the pairs’ voices, often all tangled up in one another. Their simple country-folk songs evoke evening light and the feel of sunburn tightening on the skin. Often boasting simple setups that put slide and strum in sway with an amber-hued croon, their songs aren’t overwrought, but it’s easy to see how they could sink a crown into the bliss of permanent summer.

There’s an eternal quality to the songs, a feeling that they’ve just been around bouncing from bar band to bar band in the neighborhoods of L.A. for the last 50-odd years and Mapache has just now put these public domain yarns to wax. That’s certainly what they’re stretching for and more often than not, they hit that vibe effortlessly on the head. Some bands try damn hard to feel like they just showed up and strummed out a weary, road-dusted classic. Seems like Mapache have found a way to breezily harness eleven of them, each one sinking into the horizon with a deeper orange, kicking up the crickets as they fade away.




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Colleen – “Winter Dawn”

Perennial Thrill Jockey favorite Colleen is back and sinking deeper into the Kosmiche end of the pool. Ahead of her upcoming album A Flame My Love, A Frequency, she’s released a slow, mesmerizing video to the track “Winter Dawn”. Where before, Cécile Schott had worked through rippling compositions full of strings and built on an abundance of open atmospheres, now she takes as turn towards buzzing synths closing in her world with the rhythmic hum of a mechanical heartbeat. With her cave-echoed delivery, the song feels as vital as she’s ever been, taking a plunge toward analog psychedelics with a composer’s heart. The video, filled with gorgeously composed oil works by Connor R. Burke, is an absolutely engrossing watch that pairs perfectly with her new reliance on paced thrum.



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Twink – Think Pink

Twink, Pearls Before Swine, what’s gotten into 2017? The reexamination of excellent reissues of the outer edges of ’60s psychedelic music continues. The man called Twink (aka John Alder) was a founding member of such luminaries as The Pretty Things, Tomorrow, The Deviants, and The Pink Fairies. He then went on to form a very short lived band with Syd Barrett in the post-Floyd years (Stars). Twink’s tenure in The Pretty Things lasted through their S.F. Sorrow days, but he left before the release of Parachute. It’s following this period that he recorded Think Pink with members of what would become The Deviants alongside rogue members of The Pretty Things and Steve Took of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The album, though commercially released, was really a warm up for the coming of The Pink Fairies. Members Mick Farren, Twink and Steve Took along with the addition keyboardist Sally Meltzer would form the original (though not album version) of that band. Twink’s lone solo outing would, however, exemplify his standing as one of the lights of the UK underground rock scene. He was known, as many at the time were, more for his stage antics than his adept playing. Still he managed to know the right people and work the right angles to become integral to the core of ’60s psychedelia. As such Think Pink is full of indulgently chugging riffs, glorious fuzz breakdowns and effects touches for ‘the heads.’ It’s about as quintessential a snapshot of the frayed edges of that scene as could be captured.

There are no singles on the LP, there’s nothing that’s overtly catchy about the album and while that might be construed as a commercial weakness in hindsight it ends up its strength, feeling more on the pulse of what might have been working in clubs than what’s often known as canon of the period. This new reissue reinstates the original mono mix that was intended for Decca’s release. Bound to run out to the most ardent collectors, but it’s a great curio of the time for sure. Recommended to pick it up if you can! \




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Premiere: Frankie & The Witch Fingers – “Sunshine Earthquake”

As they head out on tour L.A.’s Frankie & The Witch Fingers offer up a peek into the psych-soul revival that threads its way throughout their fizzing new album, Brain Telephone. The band has always had a knack for the video format, from the LSD Alice in Wonderland of “Get Down” to the psychedelic noir of “Merry Go Round” and the latest clip just piles on the exploded neon psych vibes that have kept them runnin’ all these years. If you haven’t gotten a chance to check the album, give it a spin and if they’re landing near you, be sure to go get a breath of the real thing. The stage is where they truly shine.

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Full tour dates below:

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