Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

One Eleven Heavy – “Old Hope Chest”

Last week I mentioned the growing presence of a new crop of bands raised on soundboard rips and zine culture conversations regarding which night held the true elevation of a solo from rote to enlightened and this week I’m introducing the first taste of one of the best of what’s next. While over time the mere implication of a band leaning jam seemed to set higher-handed listeners hackles on full alert, now that niche is king and cultures upon sub-cultures have cropped up quicker than crabgrass in internet back-alleys there’s a growing demand for bands that process their love of Little Feat, NRBQ, Levon, Trux and the Dead without worrying about cultural cache. There’s a demand and 2018 is bursting to contain the response.

Let’s not go throwing around that itchy term ‘Supergroup’ here but, be fair, there’s an overabundance of talent coursing through the veins of One Eleven Heavy. Started as a gauntlet thrown by James Toth (Wooden Wand) to fellow traveller Nick Mitchell Maiato (Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura) “Old Hope Chest” was conceived to “rise above the mundane, descriptive, lifestyle narratives of contemporary singer-songwriting.” It was, they decided, “Something that connects to our shared rock tradition and celebrates our musical identity without the apology of irony.” The track swings on groove and taps into a collective consciousness of what was actually “classic” about rock, without being dictated by what was pressed, sold or spun through the static crackle of radio. This echoes the ’72-’74-era Grateful Dead as it was lived in the room, and not as it was felt from the runout.

Joining in this crack team of cosmic workmen is Hans Chew (Hiss Golden Messenger/Jack Rose/Endless Boogie), Ryan Jewell (Ryley Walker band/Psychedelic Horseshit), and Dan Brown (Royal Trux/’68 Comeback) and the LP opens up shop as the first release on Scott McDowell’s (WFMU/ 120 Minutes) new label Kith & Kin. So, yeah, like I said this one’s not treading lightly. Drop into “Old Hope Chest” below and get prepped and hydrated to receive Everything’s Better in September.



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The Skygreen Leopards Archival Compilation

More great news filters out of the Skygreen Leopards camp today. After the release this month of archival Ivytree material for Recital Records, news comes today that former Skygreen home Soft Abuse will round up some early material from the band’s CD-r days. Culling from I Dreamt She Rode On A Pink Gazelle & Other Dreams, The Story Of The Green Lamb & The Jerusalem Priestess Of Leaves, and One Thousand Bird Ceremony, the new LP gives an overview of the band’s pre-Jagjaguwar days of live to tape captures and 3-minute folk-pop that beamed like the California sun. If, like most, you missed out on a lot of this material, then the release comes as an indispensable primer. Plus, this is the first time any of these recordings have found their way to vinyl. Just in time to usher in summer. The record is out June 22nd, right before they hop on a few dates with Frog Eyes on the West Coast.



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New Parents – “Well”

Something heady’s been happening in central Mass of late and it’s brought a lot of new favorites to the fold, but this time an old traveler treads through the halls of Raven. New Parents is the brainchild of former Sore Eros member Adam Langelotti and his new endeavor springboards off of his former band’s warbled psych for a more pristine approach that ropes warm violin strings to a bed of sunset ripples and bittersweet plucks of guitar. Langelotti invites collaboration, as the familial leanings of the band’s name might imply, and the album boasts musical drop-ins from Shannon and Beverly Ketch, Ma Turner and on the sunshine-psych sigh of “Well,” Gary War stops by for some warbly reverse vox that give the whole song a heatstroke fevered haze. The band is reported to push these songs out further to the edges on stage, but the velvet pop numbers that are finding their way to record have their own hearth glow that can be felt through the phones. The record lands on Feeding Tube next month.



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Elkhorn – “Lion”

Psych duo Elkhorn likely takes the cake and perhaps the whole bakery with their backstory on the upcoming Lionfish tape prepped for Eiderdown Records. This is undoubtedly the best set of longform jams inspired by and created while using an extracted version of lionfish venom you’re gonna hear. That said the eighteen plus minute opener “Lion” has all the hallmarks of some of the best psych folk. The track builds in slow, reportedly peaking musically at the same time the venom’s effect reaches its zenith. The pair weaves acoustic and electric guitars through verdant passages, echoing wet reverb from the electrics like damp stalactites dripping into pools below.

Even without any lysergic venom coursing through your veins the track is a high order psych ramble that proves the band is onto something. The ebb and flow of “Lion” provides and engrossing rabbit hole of tangled strings, liquid pluck and just a touch of scorch on the back half. If the other half of this tape is even a quarter as heady as this then it begs to be snapped up.



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Massage – “Lydia”

Good news is afoot in L.A. with the notice that RSTB faves Massage are following up their excellent run of singles with an album due out in July. Oh Boy, produced by Jason Quever of Papercuts, doubles down on the band’s jangle obsession emulating heroes like The Go-Betweens, Razorcuts and Close Lobsters while placing them alongside the current Aussie set’s topliners like Twerps, The Stroppies or Rat Columns. The jangles on “Lydia” practically glint and they set sail a dreamy male / female chorus that’s hooked in heavy to the bittersweet sighs of a love crumbled. The song’s simplicity and mantra-like hook can’t help but crack a smile on the most withered husk, beaming with Left Coast vibes of shimmer and summer sun. Put this album on your list of expected stunners for the back half of 2018.



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Garcia Peoples – “Show Your Troubles Out”

2018 is proving to be something of a renaissance for the typically shunted “jam band.” The term inspires revulsion in so many, but to those with crisper memories of prime-era Dead shows there exists a pang for a higher level of improvisation than wading into the bottom rung puca necked garden variety jammers that clog up college campuses. To that effect, there are quite a few records that nail the good and scrap the bad connotations associated with the term (see One Eleven Heavy, Wet Tuna, Weeping Bong Band, and the return of Howlin’ Rain). Add NJ youngbloods Garcia Peoples to that roster. The band might not have the age range to have had firsthand experiences with the parking lot set but they’re clearly versed in the wealth of prime live boots that float around the internet and given the ability to hear the best of the best they may well have used them as a primer and style guide to the cosmic float.

The band has recently added P.G. Six on keys, who gives a further seal of approval (and enters into a contest with himself for excellent psych jammer of the year with his work in Wet Tuna). What works best about Garcia Peoples is that they feel unrestrained by the walls of the studio on their debut and that shines through on “Show Your Troubles Out,” a track deeply indebted to the groove and stretching out for the highline haze with each starburst jut of guitar that slaloms through the cut. Of course, this one has to have longer legs on stage, but it’s a damn fine argument for Garcia Peoples upcoming stunner on Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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Matchess – “Of Freedom”

Whitney Johnson has been carving out niche for Matchess over the last few years with stints on Trouble in Mind, Digitalis and Monofonous Press. Her works are dark, meditative, and shielded from the outside world with a protective barrier of noise and a haunted hum. As might befit her collaborative work on albums for Circuit des Yeux, Bitchin Bajas and Plastic Crimewave Sound she’s not afraid to push herself to the edges of accessibility for sounds that reverberate through the mind and body on a tuning frequency set to shudder. Though Grouper comparisons might come fast and easy with Johnson’s work – the two artists both share a delicate core surrounded by an intricate storm of sound – on “Of Freedom” there’s more than just haze and haunt. The song clips along on a compressed air beat buoyed the sighs of strings, leaving Johnson’s voice to ricochet around the speakers in a delicately disorienting fashion. The track closes out her engrossing new album Sacracorpa which is due out July 27th on her old stomping ground at Trouble in Mind. If you’ve been missing Matchess up to this point then this might be a good time to start paying attention.



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Beach Skulls – “Sacred Citrus”

Manchester garage slingers Beach Skulls have popped up here in the past with their low-slung, amp-fried pop nugs. They’re at it again with “Sacred Citrus” from their upcoming PNKSLM LP and it continues the tradition of swagger-addled garage-pop that they’ve made their bed in over the years. The track trades in hammock-swung vibes of calmly festering fuzz and rumbling toms then slides into a fiery chorus that’s tipping the sweat gauge a few notches harder. The push-pull makes for a nice dynamic positing this as a summer soother that’s more aloe and ice crush than high octane workout.



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Ex-Vöid – “Boyfriend”

In answer to the unspoken question that Ex-Vöid asks – why yes, I have been missing Joanna Gruesome lately. The band, featuring JG expats Alanna McArdie and Owen Williams, picks up flecks of their soft-touch crunch pop but adds a tougher edge to the guitars. “Boyfriend” does a few 90-degree tempo turns before settling into a driving pop burner that’s just as wide-smile fun as anything that the pair were doing with their previous outfit. Hung on a jilted lover narrative, the track is begging to be thrown on the speakers at top volume. It’s a bed jumper of an anthem that speaks well to the promise Ex-Vöid have in store. The song is the first taste off of their debut single for Don Giovanni, but hopefully this is just the beginning of something beautiful and bigger for the trio.




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Dude York – “Moon”

Dude York were one of my greatest surprises of 2017. Once over the hurdle of the name the band reveals themselves to be consummate purveyors of ‘90s pop – hook magnets doused in amp fuzz and a sugar rush sheen. Though I’m a little sad to see some of the overt Britpop bleed out of their latest single, it’s latched onto ‘90s power pop in the best ways – towering, buzzing, and pointing fingers at their lyrical target like a loaded gun. “Moon” sees the band feeling more confident than ever, pushing this song close to anthemic (it could maybe stand even just a nudge further) and feeling all the better for it. Like Aussie poppers Bloods, they’re embracing the geyser that wells up like a caffeine rush in the brain and letting the top blow with glee. Hoping this means an album of amped up fun is on the way, but definitely reveling in every minute of “Moon” on its own merits.




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