Mixtape: Tin Foil Chewing Gum

Punk was always an expression of outsiderdom, but even within the confines of the genre there existed (and still exists) a thread that’s twitching on a wavelength that only the ardent insomniacs and agoraphobics fully appreciate. Cropping up among the Midwest’s endless sprawl of boredom and on the coasts couched in between the shut-ins and the art school dropouts, there existed a strain of caffeinated, bulging-veined punk that swiped at No Wave, sniffed at synth-punk and shirked New Wave’s more inviting corridors. Tin Foil Chewing Gum is for the freaks in the back row. It’s for the punks chewing glass and looking for another diner to share in the delight of the pain and the cathartic rush of blood. Check out the tracklist and stream below:

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The Total Bettys

San Francisco’s Total Betty’s are a country-tinged rock band masquerading in the skin of a garage-pop combo. Though they’ve picked up ranks at the always lovely Lauren Records, they’re skewing more grown up than many of their roster-mates and even their own name checked influences (Bully or Charly Bliss). In actuality the band lands closer to the catalog of Rilo Kiley, finding solace in Jenny Lewis’ wink laden pop docket, before she truly embraced her wandering country soul. The Total Bettys dig into the faded comfort and driving heart of Rilo’s indie past. More so, singer Maggie Grabmeier has a knack for hooking her thumbs into self-deprecation delivered with a touch of honey that can’t help but dredge up comparisons to Lewis.

Repeated listens open this up, not into the jangled garage nugget that it’s perhaps intended to be, but as a bittersweet summer road trip companion that pines for loves imagined and lost. Grabmeier acts as wing-woman and shoulder to lean on, delivering lyrics with a wry humor that’s handily packed into hooks that aren’t outsized, but rather sneakily subtle and seeping into your consciousness through the slight crackle of production that comes on like AM static. As a debut this feels like its just a peek at what Grabmeier and the band have at their disposal. With a larger scale production they could completely shake that garage tag (not that there’s anything wrong with it) and reach for lush hills that give her songwriting a bit more gravitas and still keep feet moving. Certainly a band to keep an eye on as the years click by, but this is lovely on its own merits.




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Clowns

Melbourne’s slightly ill-named Clowns shore up their third album with a delightful mix of grit and pop bounce. They’re laying down in the grunge gutter, dredging up dreams of Seattle’s ’90s hangover, but like fellow Aussie’s Dune Rats, they have a rat tail of pop punk hidden in the necks of their tattered sweaters. They ricochet the grunge impulses through a run at SoCal’s skate set, pushing tempos perilously fast, with frontman Stevie Williams screaming like blood through caffeinated veins. They make the combo work almost enviably well, straining the calamitous pop chunks into muscular riffs, roughed up with snotty angst that should shake the walls and drown out even the most persistent parent.

Clowns sprinkle a fair amount polish on this record, despite it’s chaotic crunch, showing an ear for production with acoustic touches, a lite-psych sprinkling, and a penchant to push punk past the four-minute mark. There’s been a rash of sub-Millenial bands cherishing the ’90s through an internet-film filter, and despite their tendency to gloss over the rough patches and the inexplicable ubiquity of Carson Daly, it’s been fun to take the trip to the mall once again. Sure, a good chunk of us have been here before, god knows I have, but its freeing to feel the circle pit roar up again for 40-minutes or so.




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Premiere: Milk Teddy – “Rock n’ Roll Cretin”

It’s no secret that Aussie pop reigns high on the list of RSTB favorite topics, and I’m always dismayed that distance gives folks in the States pause to check out bands that aren’t necessarily rolling through their towns. Case in point, Milk Teddy put out a nuanced, shimmering debut as a split between Lost & Lonesome and Knock Yr Socks Off Records back in 2012. The album, largely lost on US listeners, paired perfect strums with the high, mournful croon of Thomas Mendelovits. After too long a wait, the band is back and readying a new LP for Lost & Lonesome, due out in August. The first track lays right back into the languid strums and cyclic chimes of guitar that should appeal to any chasing up the Captured Tracks catalog. They peek out a bit, though, from the echoplex haze that surrounded their debut like a delicate fog.

In that respect it looks as if the new album, Time Catches Up With Milk Teddy, boasts a bit of an expanded palette, with more space creeping into the mix and a clash of synths that results in the swelling coda on “Rock ‘n Roll Cretin.” In essence, it’s Milk Teddy, pushing out of the basement and onto a much bigger stage. If you missed Zingers then its probably time to play a bit of catch up and get excited for a the band’s next phase. I know I am.



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KG – Come Closer, We’re Cool

Manufactured Recordings takes on a run of shoegaze rarities that missed their due, including Tempe’s Alison Halo and Santa Cruz’ Bethany Curve. Come Closer, We’re Cool binds up some essential output from French artist Rémy Bux, who’d later use the moniker to work deeper into electronic territory, but here he’s driving squarely in the lane occupied by Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Drop Nineteens and The Lilys. Acting as a compilation of early singles, rather than straight reissue, this release marks the first time much of this has been gathered in one place. The compilation nature of the release allows for some stylistic changes, though Bux mostly keeps his head within the crimson haze of shoegaze’s clutches.

The early work wound up as singles for Lo-Fi Recordings and Orgasm Records. The rest of the release rounds up tracks that were originally slated for release on Slumberland, a move that makes sense when you hear some of the similarities between their mid-nineties roster and the work that KG cycles through. Whatever happened with the album remains unclear, but this release makes a good case for KG as a lost gem of shoegaze for sure. KG remains active and reportedly still returns to shoegaze now and again between heavier electronic work. For the shoegaze stalwarts out there, though, this is a nice treasure trove of bleary-eyed fuzz.




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Otoboke Beaver – Love Is Short EP

Kyoto foursom Otoboke Beaver taps into the kind of heavy, frantic Japanese punk that bore out bands like Ni-Hao and Afrirampo a few years back. Their whirlwind triple shot of a single “Love Is Short” blasts through the walls fists up and swinging. The band might adopt all the visual aesthetics of a ’60s girl group, but when it comes to an aural assault, the niceties drop away and they’re more than ready to topple any challengers off the mountain. The title track, stripped of its barbed vocals actually tips harder into speed metal territory, but the slight pop bent gives it all the best touches of Japanese punk.

There’s a certain humor to the all out attack of a song called “Introduce Me To Your Family.” Just as tightly wound as the title track, its a spun gold gauntlet of punk that’s got a bounce in the guitar line and some borderline funk in its bones. This track skews more experimental than the first and leads nicely into the hateful spit of capper, “Mean,” a 19 second aperitif that’s perfect for breaking off a breathless single.




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The Murlocs – “Oblivion”

Despite helping to lay down those reported five King Gizzard albums this year, Ambrose Kenny-Smith is back with his own brand of garage-psych insanity, bringing The Murlocs roaring into 2017. “Oblivion” sees the band still dialed into the driving snap of percussion that fuels the fire, but there’s a certain slow smolder to the vocal delivery, mellowing it a bit from their last foray into the wilds of garage grit. The album is out at the end of July, so that should hit ya right in the midst of needing a hit from the Gizzard crew, right? I’m sure there will already be news of their third platter by that point, ha!

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Jane Weaver

Jane Weaver found herself folded into the cosmic plane on previous album Silver Globe. Channeling a refined mash of Stereolab, Jodorowsky, Can and Broadcast, the album pushed Weaver further into a slick-skinned spaciness that’s the very image of ultra-modern trappings. She continues the journey through Krautrock/Kosmiche/Lounge/Experimental headspace to refine the sound into something of a chic psychedelic alternate universe where Wegner’s the standard bearer of public style and the hi-fi has won out handily over the television as the centerpiece of the American homestead.

Though, that’s not to make Weaver sound like she’s merely soundtracking the snooty coffee bar that pushed its way into the neighborhood, there’s plenty of humanity bubbling underneath that well coifed exterior. The beats tap along to a motorik heart, but over the top Weaver is swooning with a natural demeanor that puts her ultra-modern framework on a sweeping vista of verdant forest views. The balance between futurist and naturalist feels at the crux of Modern Kosmology. Weaver is the tear rolling down artificially intelligent cheeks, blushing at the feelings welled up by the modern art in your foyer.

Modern Kosmology is an album that’s comfortable with its niche, well-researched and soldering the markers of genre together into a clockwork hum of perfect unity. This is new age psych for those who have already transcended the physical form and are finally finding their muse. It’s a ripple that reminds one not to trust the eyes too much, instead it communicates on a wavelength that’s pulsing with a strange humanity, earthen and antiseptic all at once. If an album were to have tasting notes then Modern Kosmology seems wrought with the ghosts of moss, leather, Formica and Ozone. Dip in accordingly.




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Terry – “Take Me To The City”

Al Montfort’s (presumably) incredible case of insomnia pays off to the public with the announcement of a new Terry album on the way. The man can’t sleep, because when would he have time for all this quality writing, recording and playing if his eyes ever drooped? The band’s back with their cowboy shtick in tow and another song that’s packed with a sighed delivery that plays into the lyrical lean on escapism and living life pining for some excitement. While the ten gallon hats and city lights longing don’t quite make this their “Streets of Baltimore,” it’s a buzzing bit of Aussie new wave that’s picking up right where their eponymous LP left off. The video only serves to add to the tongue in cheek winks that seems to inhabit their very DNA, but serious or no, this takes its place on the highly anticipated list for 2017.

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Mikah Wilson – “Cassingle”

L.A. songwriter Mikah Wilson indulges in a brand of earnest ’70s pop that’s not removed from some prevailing winds (see Tennis, Weyes Blood, The Lemon Twigs, Tobias Jesso Jr.) but while he’s captured the crystal shimmer in the production, he’s also found a breezy simplicity that pushes him further from the Harry Nilson / Randy Newman / Joni Mitchell crossroads of ’70s FM. Perhaps that’s why the label is selling this as power pop and while there’s certainly a plainspoken appeal that hearkens to Big Star or Shake Some Action-era Flaming Groovies, it’s not saddled with the same lusty ambitions or tough/tender tension that either of those embody.

Instead Wilson is working from a sunshine soul that creeps into ’70s mainstream pop rock. Taking early Rick Springfield (talkin’ Mission Magic years here) on a lovelorn wander through the transistor wires, Wilson has created a vision of honest pop that’s echoing The Raspberries and Badfinger in the best ways. In every sense of the phrase, “they don’t make ’em like this anymore.” Wilson has wrestled mining the ’70s from the hands of hipsterdom, he’s gone feral in his wide-eyed sincerity. Both sides of this cassette are a genuine love-letter not only to those artists that laid their saccharine souls down all those years before, but to pop as a statement of purpose. On every level, I just want to hear more of this and soon.




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