Posts Written By Andy

Wet Hair

If it feels like a stretch since Wet Hair turned up here, or anywhere in fact, that’s because the band hasn’t released a record since 2012’s Spill Into Atmosphere. At the time they’d shucked a great deal of their noise cloud and begun polishing their lo-fi pop into something a bit more grand. Before they’d shared groove space with Merchandise, they were everywhere in the small cadre of noise-rock safe harbors – from Shawn Reed’s own Night People to Not Not Fun, De Stijl, and Bathetic. Now they land their post-breakup LP on Wharf Cat and pull back the curtain on what could have been if the band hadn’t faded into the horizon.

The Floating World is definitely the band’s most accessible take to date, besting even their previous two nudges towards a sparkling Krautrock-laden pop. Still couched in a cloud of haze, though not so thick that the edges become indiscernible, the record is glowing with the same electricity that’s always pushed Wet Hair. The percussion tumbles like violent waters below bright, beckoning synths but while that Krautrock tag is certainly still applicable, this is a pop record first and foremost. The best contemporary comparison would be the later work of Cloudland Canyon, who found themselves traversing similar territory and pulling it off with a deft hand. Ultimately the record is a great nugget of noise-pop that’s shelved on the ‘coulda-been, shoulda-been’ pile of bands that get overlooked too often amid changing tastes. Still, there’s no reason not to dip into this gem for a spin or six.




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David West with Teardrops – “Swan’s Beat”

After already turning in a great releases with his bands Rat Columns and Rank/Xerox earlier this year, David West goes for the triple with a new one from his solo (yet very collaborative) band The Teardrops. The record pulls in members from Eaters, Rat Columns, Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Grass Widow. “Swan’s Beat” looks to the big, syncopated drums and outsized guitars of the ’80s that would also serve as fodder for 90s hip-hop samples. Though, as much as he claims a Billy Squire influence here, West tempers the excess with cold n’ humid vocals a la Martin Rev and some flecks of dub that give the track a very modern take with a hot flash of nostalgia rattling around in your ears. This actually doesn’t fall too far from the spooky ambience of his standout from Rat Columns, “Blinded By The Shadow,” and its leaving me very eager to get more of this record on the speakers.




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Stefano Marcucci – Tempo Di Demoni, Papi, Angioli, Incensi E Cilici

Now I’m not sure how your brain works, but for me, there are definitely some trigger words that pop up in descriptions that beg a further look. Staple a phrase like, “bizarre hidden synth-ridden psychedelic concept pop” to “short-run demonic religious performance” and file it under the genre Italian Library Music and I’m all but sold. Now, is this just the beady-eyed crew at Finders Keepers baiting me? Not so! Their reissue of Stefano Marcucci’s lost piece of esoteric psychdedelia warrants a pretty hefty exploration. The record was commissioned for a short-run theatrical project, but after hearing the score composed by beat group member Marcucci, the staff at Flower records saw potential beyond its religious audience.

This being the time period of quasi-religious rock opera of all shades, I honestly don’t blame them. The late ’60s and early ’70s had a predilection for bending the bible to their own Earth-child whims and, why not take a performance of that ilk and funnel it into one more piece of Godspell-gumball machine fodder? Well, the Italian is probably a stopping point for most, but Marcucci has a way around gospel-swung psych-folk. It’s those synths that take it to the next level though. The composer gives the straight pipe organ its place, but peppers in an early version of the Minimoog to the proceedings, giving it a swell of ’70s grandeur that befits his hybrid vision. The band backing up the record is tight and the choral pieces waver between stately and hippie ho-down, making this a perfect combination of time period and talent. It’s got something for the heads, something for the saints (if your Italian is on point) and something for the Library aficionados to ponder over.


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Pearl Earl

Denton is awash in garage upstarts of the denim-donned variety. Testosterone prone outfits that aim to tear a hole in the American dream with a curlicue of amp cable and a four-pack of chords in fuzztone from. Pearl Earl aim to kick a ragged rip in that paradigm, trailing sequins and snake venom behind them as they lay their own barrage of garage, punk and glitter-stomped prog down upon the city of their making. Their debut LP arrives with concrete ton of confidence and a pretty clear cut idea of who they want to be.

Clearly caught in the crackle of ’70s airwaves, the band is mashing their memories with a deft hand and a feminine snarl. With a slightly less buoyant approach, Pearl Earl are finding their way along the same inflamed tributary that carries kindred spirits Savoy Motel. They embody the ten-foot tall ideals of glam, as evidenced in the gloss that shines on the album’s surface, and they pin it well to their flip of the radio dial. At heart the band’s eponymous LP is as punk as any of their myriad homegrown stagemates, but where others go to the well for the simple quench of sweat, Pearl Earl go for the rainbow ripple off the water in the sun. Having fun with the form, they explode punk into shards of psychedelic debris, each looking to streak the sky with its own glittered flare.

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The Murlocs – “Snake In The Grass”

While the gunshot psych train rolling towards damnation that is King Gizz cannot be stopped this year, with five albums promised and two delivered, why shouldn’t that schedule leave room for a side project or two? The band’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith has embarked on another record from The Murlocs, his own garage bound warriors on the edge of time. The clip for “Snake In The Grass” goes full claymation, with a few other swipes at the stop-motions playbook and that’s somehow always a welcomed wayback around here. The song’s hitting the sweat-rock button squarely, with Kenny-Smith’s harmonica blowing hard as ever. If you’re already in for a penny on the Gizz, why not stock up the full pound with The Murlocs on the side? This one’s got bite.



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Premiere: The Cowboys – “I Hope She’s Ok”

The Cowboys’ excellent Vol. 4 was a nice surprise last year. The band cleaned up their act a bit, headed into the studio and laid down an excellent, yet overlooked album. It bumped them onto some radars though, and with luck they’re about to pop on a few more. Their pace hasn’t faltered a step as they head into the Fall with another release on the docket, this time for HoZac. They’ve swapped the studio for the four track this time, but “I Hope She’s Ok” doesn’t show too much crackle for their austerity. As a contrast to the first taste, “Mike’s Dust,” the band kicks the up tempo again and injects a ragged spirit into the track. They cut the edge with a sweet blue-eyed soul stab before the track melts into a molten fray that should play well in this summer of swelter. It’s just more goodness from a band that’s quietly building a reputation as slept on garage-pop heroes.



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Jenny McKechnie on Au Pairs – Playing With A Different Sex

As far as new artists in 2017 go, I’d say that Cable Ties are taking top honors right now. In their home country of Australia they’re raking in accolades and topping out mid-year charts, a trend that should hopefully catch on worldwide if there’s any justice. The band’s Jenny McKechnie is pulling triple duty as a cultural force, playing in newcomers Wet Lips alongside the Ties and co-heading a new label, Hysterical Records, alongside Amanda Vitartas of Future Popes and Grace Kindellan of Wet Lips. While Cable Ties is a taut musical force in its own right, much of the credit must be given to McKechnie’s vocal prowess and biting lyrics, both of which have drawn comparisons to crucial feminist punk outfits like X-Ray Spex or Sleater-Kinney. As usual with Hidden Gems I’ve asked Jenny to pick a record that’s been a bit overlooked in her opinion and tell how it came into her life and impacted her music. She gives her take on the Au Pairs’ ever resonant debut Playing With a Different Sex below.

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The Blondes – The Blondes

The aughts had its fair share of power pop – from Sloan to Matthew Sweet, Fountains of Wayne to late Apples in Stereo, there was no real shortage of sticky sweet pop that owed a fair amount of debt to the Yellow Pills set and Big Star. Still, the the majority of those bands used the genre as a jumping off point to splash in some ’90s grunge grit and bittersweet songwriting that put them in line with a new indie ethos. For L.A.’s Blondes, the heyday of ’70s power pop, tinged with just the right holdover of glam seemed the golden standard. To be fair, they hit the mark pretty dead on in the end.

Formed as Eagle in 1998, the band claimed members from music and art circles alike, crossing over membership with Eels, Beachwood Sparks and The Lilys. The band also contained indie icon and photographer Autumn De Wilde , who may have had more of a hand in effecting indie rock’s heyday than most of her L.A. compatriots. Of course, on release, the name Eagle drew the attention of classic rocker/general curmudgeon Don Henley and he put the kibosh on that moniker. Hence, they resurfaced as The Blondes.

Their first album was in 2002, following a spot-on cover of Mud’s “Dyna-mite”. By this time, several founding members, including De Wilde had left the group, but the band still captured the flicker-flame perfection of bubblegum-glam and the giddiness of power pop. This retrospective from Burger rounds up most of their key output. There are even some demo versions from the original Eagle lineup included, though sadly, that cover of “Dyna-mite” remains lost from the spools on this one. Burger and HoZac have gone to lengths lately to dig up the corners of all that’s necessary in punk, glam and power pop and this is an essential entry to the canon. A little sad this one’s ended up just on tape, but maybe if we all wish real hard the Burger Bros will press it down to a fitting vinyl tribute.




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Premiere: New Rose – “Going North”

New Rose captured the spirit of comedown country on their recent album, Morning Haze, for Brooklyn label Broken Circles. Steeped in the kind of spectral light that peeks over the mountains, threading through the marine layer gauze of daybreak, no song sums up their album’s title better than “Going North.” Paired with an equally ephemeral video courtesy of Rat Columns’ David West, the band penetrates a musical purgatory that hangs thick with fog. It’s inviting, enveloping and comforting like the smell of old bar wood and whiskey. You can practically inhale the dankness of the room in this clip and the band wears the ghost town vibes well. If you haven’t already locked onto Morning Haze yet, then its about time to check it out. The band will also be taking the Haze on the road for some tour dates. Check those after the jump.

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Patience – “White Of An Eye”

The end of Veronica Falls always left me feeling a bit sad. The band’s perfect distillation of jangle-pop on the skids, sunny melodies with a tear in their eye, was always comforting. James Hoare has gone on to a myriad bands in the interim, but Roxanne Clifford’s output has been more selective. Now on her third single as Patience, Clifford is ably working a brand of synth-pop stung with jangles and it suits her well. “White Of An Eye” swims through the backwaters of the ’80s – mopping up bits of The Jasmine Minks on a bender with Chris & Cosey and Strawberry Switchblade. Hopefully this third single signals the oncoming announcement of an album proper. For now, though, we’ll have to just enjoy it on its own merits. This one’s been growing on me with each subsequent listen.

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