Wolfmanhattan Project – “Silver Sun”

Plenty to love in a band that comes packed with Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore), Mick Collins (Gories, Dirtbombs) and Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) and the band makes good on more than their past reputations with the single “Silver Sun.” Sounding like one of my favorite Mick Collins records, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey!, his Dirtbombs ode to bubblegum, the song’s not bogged down in the grit and garage blast that could easily come from any of the players involved here. It sparkles and swings. Its a sunshine strummer with a popcorn beat built for dancing. This one’s been building for quite a while, but seems to have dropped out of space with a release tomorrow. If the melted syrup choruses and laconic harmonies on this track aren’t enough to sell ya then I give up.



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Isasa

Quietly tumbling under the leaves of 2019 is the third album from Madrid’s Conrado Isasa – a fingerpicked gem that’s indebted to the Takoma school, but leaning forward towards a more experimental future. The guitarist’s phrases tumble delicately from his fingers, recalling his fascination with Fahey, but also the more open-ended spectrum of Richard Bishop. There’s often an inherent sadness in Isasa’s works, heartbroken but not beaten. On the slow and stately “Conversaciones en un Supermercado” the artist captures the empty ennui of wandering through necessary consumerism, forced to connect with humanity through the clarification of produce. On “Cuesta Ramon” he balances Eastern trills against a harmonium drone, taking his playing from American valleys to the hum and bustle of Indian cities, again conveying a sort of lostness within a sea of humanity. He even gives his influence Fahey a nod with a title dedicated to him, echoing the legendary guitarists balance of movement and touch through his feel of the strings.

There is joy also, though. He rambles like Rose on “Arquitecto Tinista,” cracking open the windows to let the sunlight shine down and the cool spring breezes blow damp and delightful. He wanders around the city square with no particular place to be on “Pocitos, Montevideo,” a shy, yet sweet track that’s an exercise in restraint. Throughout the album’s many moods the thread of isolation and connection seems to chew at the listener. Often fingerpicked albums convey moments of ebullience and anxiety but Isasa excels in finding the feelings between the extremes. He’s sketched an aural ode to unsure interludes, crossed glances, mild reliefs, and heartbreaks so small they’re only noticed after being added together at the end of a day. His touch on the strings echoes in the mind long after the needle’s left the record, haunting the listener like a task left unfinished, a sentiment unresolved.



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Sacred Paws – “How Far”

On their sophomore LP, UK duo Sacred Paws continues their thread of simple, yet sunny indie pop. “How Far” practically skips into the room on its acoustic strums, twirling in the sunlight like a kid let out of school early. The song’s so loose and airy it barely has bones but the pair keep it together with the charms of vets who’ve been honing their pop pedigree longer than their years would let on. The song approaches the edges of afrobeat before pulling back towards the indie-pop garden and the skittering lilt that guitarist Rachel Aggs adds to the song’s burbling beat is all the better for it. Definitely looking forward to this album as it rolls out from the band May 31st.




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Allah Lahs – “Raspberry Jam”

I’ve previously mentioned the ambitious and excellently zen project from Mexican Summer, Self Discovery for Social Survival, which pairs bands like Dungen, Conan Mockasin, Peaking Lights, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Allah Las with pro surfers in three different, distinct environments around the globe. The bands traveled with the surfers to experience the trip and feel the energy alongside them and then wrote their accompaniment to the live footage. Some of the most compelling and sun-soaked cuts on the comp come courtesy of Allah Las and now the label’s let one of their fruit-themed tracks out into the air. Check out “Raspberry Jam” below and you can catch the film and full soundtrack in June.

The premiere of the film will be at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles on June 15 with a live score by Allah Las, Connan Mockasin and Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT

Ticket HERE.

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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

After a year of constantly reviewing King Gizz and crew it was nice to have a breather last year, probably as much for the band as for the public. That lets the band land back on the turntable without a hint of fatigue on their fourteenth album. Ever shifting in the stylistic sands, the band seeks to embrace various corners of downhome choogle and plasticine boogie with this run ‘round the turntable. The runup to this record gives good argument for digesting an album in its entirety, though. Thrown at the listener piecemeal, the disparate parts of Fishing For Fishies felt out of joint with each other, but once sequenced into a slide from countrified funk to future stomp the ties tighten and the band’s vision begins to make a bit more sense.

They kick the disc open with a kitschy callback to the vibes of “Vegemite” and both the breezy quirk and visual in-joke video feel like the days when the band had zero expectations heaped upon them, creating talking sandwiches covered in their national litmus condiment with a wicked smirk. Then album begins its slide into a history of funk n’ roll over the next eight songs, stopping off at ‘70s backporch grit, Stevie Wonder wiggle, and seven-foot-tall whoopin’ garage party platters. Ambrose sneaks in a hip-shaker that sounds like a Murlocs outtake, but fits the vibe nicely, giving the open-door hotbox hoedown another tweak.

They cool for just a moment, letting the sweat steam off their backs before taking the plunge once more. As they hockey stop into “This Thing” the band begins their slide towards the doxed, cold futurisms, though not without still a knowing wink in their eyes. King Gizz are kings of psych paranoia, but they’re forever having fun with it. The track snags a few trilling orchestral touches, but at heart it’s a stadium-sized rocker tipping towards excess and ecstasy. Then they strip the skeleton of funk down to back alley ambience with a touch of creeping menace before they lay open the portal to “Cyboogie.” The lock-stopped ‘80s psych-funk phenom has got boogie in its veins but murder in its eyes. It’s a pulsating finish to the band’s Frankenstein of retro-futurism and should probably slay the crowds in the live setting.

The album’s sleeve (and to that point the title) seems like a misstep to me, but those are purely aesthetic questions and shouldn’t tinge your enjoyment of the album. It’s just that the band’s visual direction, led by Jason Galea has been so consistently vivid that this seems like a first draft on the way to something more solid. No harm, though. It’s what’s inside that counts and this is one of the more fun releases in the band’s vast and ever-growing catalog.


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Kevin Morby on Paul Westerberg – Stereo

As I’ve previously mentioned this week Kevin Morby’s latest is a double-wide opus to spiritual connection and a step away from his usual guitar grounded albums. It’s a big and bold move that’s vaulting Morby even further into the indie rock pantheon’s ranks of ambitious songwriters. That’s not to disparage his back catalog in the least, though. The artist’s rise over the last few albums has been a constant source of joy over here and its great to have Kevin contribute a pick to Hidden Gems. For his pick Morby dips back into his reserve of youthful influences for a Paul Westerberg solo jaunt. Check out how this Midwestern classic came into his life and ultimately what role it played in shaping his own works.

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Deliluh – “Rabbit”

Toronto post-punks Deliluh scrape at the gritty end of the genre, rolling a dirge of noise into clattering instrumental jousts among the players. “Rabbit” pokes into the speakers slowly, crawling up the spine with patience and practice before the song lets loose a hunger for blood around the 2:30 mark. The group has a way with anxious energy, spooling those early inklings of dread around their sound until it pulls tight at the throat. Then, just at the right moment, the band uncoils its reserve of tension and the release is primal and pounding. They let the guitars howl at one another until all that’s left is a pool of sinew and skin and an air of electricity on the breeze. Its an incredibly cathartic track that gives a notion of what’s in store on their upcoming sophomore LP, Oath of Intent. The record is out May 3rd on Telephone Explosion.





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Spiral Wave Nomads

Feeding Tube is often so busy its hard to keep up with the output, and this year has had such a solid roster of releases that it’s a shame to miss any. The debut from Spiral Wave Nomads proves this point nicely. The LP, a co-release with Twin Lakes Records, embraces a shimmering batch of psych-ragas that are burnt to the core. The band snags in two long-time psychedelic spool party regulars – Eric Hardiman (Burnt Hills, Century Plants) and Michael Kiefer (Myty Konkeror, More Klementines) and they continue their search for the bottomless pit of bliss that bubbles just below the acid-fried surface of a distant sun. Ambling and aching, the tracks on their eponymous debut squeeze dropout drones and square-wave boogies through a strainer to serve.

Throwing varying degrees of noise debris the listeners’ way, from cosmic dust to the kind of fuzztone flakes that get stuck in your teeth, the record doesn’t seek to salve the soul entirely, but rather to rumple, reorder, and render it before melting it into a puddle of pulses. The duo skates the edge of oblivion and anguish, feeling like they might topple either way at any time during the record. They build up a good deal of tension through chewed tin transmissions on “Wabi Sabi,” and then shave it to the bone on the languid “Floating on a Distant Haze” and closer “Patterns of Forgotten Flight.” The LP stands up nicely next to much of the Tube’s heady output this year (pairs nicely with Village of Spaces and Maxine Funke, not to mention the Fog Window LP on SFTRI I mentioned last week). If this one melts your core there’s bonus bliss to be found in the More Klementines release that just came out on Twin Lakes as well. I recommend lining those up on the turntable in tandem.




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Blue Jeans – “Friends & Lovers”

Got a brand-new track from Michigan jangle-pop trio Blue Jeans and its swimming in allusions to the golden years of the twee end of the spectrum. Shades of classic Slumberland, Cloudberry, Flying Nun, and Subway abound, and with good reason. The band boasts a trio of music writers, alongside Saturday Looks Good To Me’s Fred Thomas, at their core. The band leaves influences draped all over their sleeves and the joy they get from dipping into the fray is palpable. The song itself celebrates making records, listening to records, and loving records with the kind of anguish that makes one stay awake late at night playing a song over and over into the headphones until the dark finally wins the fight. They’ve captured the long sigh of indie-pop with the attention to detail of listeners who’ve made it their duty to absorb every last lingering lilt. Check out the zine-worthy video above and be sure to keep an eye out for their debut LP May 17th.



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Hierophants – “Limousine”

Very excited to say that Aussie pop-manglers Hierophants are back on the scene this week. The band, which features members of ORB, Frowning Clouds, Ausmuteants and School Damage among others returns with their first album in five years and the first track’s a perfect extension of their warble-pop legacy. Among the ranks of the Geelong punk panel Hierophants have always stuck out for their adherence to a slower, slimier, hot-house vision of post-punk. There are no brittle edges in Hierophants world, but the floor gives way without notice and everything seems to be covered in a pungent gel of pop weirdness. “Limousine” is a slow-motion shuffler with an ode to dubious wealth. There’s a feeling of artifice that crumbles under the band’s used-car slink. The track feels as if its constantly slipping away like new money hustlers trying to impress with style over substance, and ultimately lacking either. Gonna want to keep an eye on this one when it comes out May 24th.



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