Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

Grave Flowers Bongo Band – “Birds”

Hoover III member Gabe Flores strips back the psych to a warm sunny burble on his own Grave Flowers Bongo Band. The L.A. band whips up a psych-folk froth that brings to mind Fresh Maggots a young Bolan’s T. Rex before he found moniker brevity and cocaine. There’s definitely a beard of stars at work here, and true to their promise, bongos. On “Birds” the band adopts the “faded demo from the hip” approach that’s worked well for their contemporaries in Paint this year. On the track, the band feels far from the pounded pavement of their L.A. locale. Perhaps they’ve pushed out to the Canyon and beyond for an off-kilter psych soup that’s built from the static transmissions of Gary Higgins, Sam Gopal, Trees, and John Peel favorites Tractor. Like the best psych-folk this one’s wobbled off its axis and sticks around to delight all the way through. The LP lands in full on Friday via the good folks at Permanent.



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Martin Frawley – “End of the Bar”

This Martin Frawley album is shaping up to be the “sorting your shit out” record that we all need this year. Recorded in the wake of a break-up and band dissolution, the record was admittedly written while Frawley took some stock and reassessed his life. More often than not, Frawley admitted, it seemed those moments wound up in a bar or two. I understand the impulse, numbness kills the ache and even if you’re surrounded by strangers, its better than sticking it out alone. Few of the songs encapsulate the self-destructive, self-loathing quality that often creeps up during the times that it seems all the load-bearing emotional wall come crumbling down than “End of the Bar.” He sums up the feeling of trading friends for regulars and unloading your problems on fellow drunks nicely when he sings, “You look familiar, you look tired, you look like you’ve dealt with me.”

The song realizes the kind of asshole we let ourselves become when we think its all come undone. As someone who’s spent time on both sides of the bar wood, the drunk that unloads all their issues is a familiar face. Frawley coming to terms with himself and his own insufferable self is as numerous as it is satisfying. Here’s hoping there’s more hubris and hope on the upcoming Undone at 31.



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Writhing Squares – “A Whole New Jupiter”

I’d say that Philly’s Writhing Squares quietly released one of the best space rock records of 2016, but Writhing Squares don’t do anything quietly. The band is built on a wave of squall, pinning an insistent beat to fizzing torrents of bass and slashing sax. Their debut was a molten chunk of twisted nerve noise and zonked-out groove, so to properly follow it up the band drops another sixteen tons of motorik patter on your plate right out of the gate. The first premiere from January’s Out Of The Ether is the frothing side-long crusher “A Whole New Jupiter.” The nineteen-and-a-half-minute track boils over with bass n’ synth freak energies that flash through the atmosphere in heatsick waves. Kevin Nickles’ sax weaves a bop that’s funky and fraught.

The band themselves sum up the track nicely giving it credit for the album’s title, “We were jamming in the garage trying to work on a totally different song with a similar drum beat, says bassist Daniel Provenzano, “but after about 5 minutes of that we gave up and started fucking around on a synth pattern Kevin made up. And we just kept playing for about 20 minutes straight, and it was full of all these ideas we really loved. So, we did it a few more times and arranged it into a somewhat cohesive song- it was totally organic and fun and natural and it’s like it was there in the garage waiting for us to play it… so that’s kind of where the album title originates. That song came out of the ether.” Nickles concurs, noting “Yea that pretty much sums it up. We just jammed and all the parts kinda magically came to us, then we Holdger Czukay-ed the thing together, hahaha!”

Out of The Ether is out January 25th via Trouble in Mind. Better be ready.


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Baby Grandmothers’ Kenny Håkansson on The Shadows – “Apache”

Before there was the current wave of Swedish psychedelia, there was Baby Grandmothers. The trio helped shape the sound that would trickle down to Dungen, Skogen Brinner, The Works and Life on Earth. Much of that was due to the guiding hand of guitarist Kenny Håkansson, who would shift the band’s sound from a more basic rock approach into shades of psychedelia that pushed farther than their peers. A few years back the band’s early recordings were resurrected by Dungen’s Reine Fisk, a collection which surely seemed like the definitive archive of their works. However, the band, not content to be consigned to merely Swedish history, is back with a new album for Subliminal Sounds this year. Before diving into the new sounds, Håkansson takes us back to where he began, with one of the key surf singles of all time from The Shadows.

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DMBQ – “Blue Bird”

Its been a good clip since DMBQ graced us with their presence around these (or any) parts and their first rumblings sings 2005’s The Essential Sounds From The Far East find the band just as enmeshed in guitar pyrotechnics and acid bath aesthetics as they’ve ever been. One of Japan’s fiercest exports, the trio has been flaying minds since the early nineties and now they find themselves popping up on Ty Segall’s DC imprint God?. Seems like a perfect fit to me, to be honest. “Blue Bird,” the first single from the album, is a low-slung psych freakout, tumbling over a barrage of drums and gnashing its teeth on the psyonic forces of feedback and flesh stripping riffs. The 12-ton drop of the song is a great reminder that breathless release cybcles are all well and good, but sometimes the best things are worth the wait – even if you dindn’t know you’ve been waiting for it. I’d never have expected a DMBQ album this year, but it ranks high on the list of great surprises for 2018.



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Anna St. Louis on Gimmer Nicholson – Christopher Idylls

One of the great breakout records of 2018 has been the Mare/Woodsist debut proper from Anna St. Louis (she issued a tape last year but this marks the first LP). The record stradles the line between fingerpicked folk and the sunset strains of bittersweet ’70s country. Her songs have a gravity that’s hard to shake, so it stands to reason that looking behind the curtain on her sound would yield a proper gem. St. Louis sheds a little light on a folk obscurity given new life a little while back by the proper diggers over at Light in the Attic. Check out her pick, Gimmer Nicholson, below.

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Priors – “At Your Leisure”

A blast of jittery, caffeinated post-punk bursts out of Montreal’s fertile scene from Priors. On the latest single from their upcoming sophomore LP, the band bites into the cross-section of punk and New Wave with a rabid fury. They’re careening into view on a wave of anxiety and riding the fizzing angst with reckless skill. They pull from the same fuzz-infected well as their Canadian contemporaries Century Palm, though they fall closer to the erratic pop genius of Ausmuteants on “At Your Leisure.” The band cribs from quite a few of Canada’s punk underdogs, with members of Steve Adamyk Band, Sonic Avenues, New Vogue and The Famines rounding out the lineup. New Pleasure sidles out on punk powerhouse label Slovenly on November 16th.



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Chris Corsano on Betty Harris “There’s A Break In The Road”

Part two of the Orcutt-Corsano Hidden Gems naturally falls to Chris Corsano’s pick. There are no real set rules to this feature and even if there were I’d break them all the same for this pick. Chris eschews the album focus in favor of a soul single that’s anchored deep by a drumming legend. As Chris is himself a powerhouse collaborator who elevates any project he anchors, its wise to sit up and listen when he’s recommending a song based on how hard the drummer sweats it out. If you’re unfamiliar with Corsano’s catalog, then its fair to say you might have missed a great deal of the best moments in experimental music in the last decade. Aside from his multiple collaborations with Bill Orcutt he’s found himself crumbling the cosmos alongside Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty, Okkyung Lee, Bill Nace, Nels Cline and Thurston Moore among others. Check out Corsano’s discovery of Betty Harris’ 1969 single and the world shaking impact its had on him.

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Bill Orcutt on James Blood Ulmer – Odyssey

This week I’ve got a two-parter Hidden Gems that focuses on a couple of underground legends. In anticipation of the release of their latest collaboration, Brace Up!, both Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano have contributed picks to the series. I’m starting here with Orcutt, whose singular guitar style defies all schools of tradition. As such, he gravitates to a guitarist who’d been flouting conventions long before him and it seems fitting that Bill has payed tribute to the great James Blood Ulmer here. Orcutt has built an enviable catalog of works going back to his ’90s work with the seminal Harry Pussy and on through collaborations with Alan Bishop, Michael Morley, Circuit des Yeux and Loren Connors. Check below for how Ulmer’s work came into the life of Orcutt and how Odyssey impacted his own musical journey.

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The Ocean Party – “What Its Worth”

The second single off of The Ocean Party’s upcoming The Oddfellows Hall takes a more autumnal turn than the jangly hues of first peek “Off and On.” The new track creeps in slowly, stretching out amid the quietude and a gentle lap of tape hiss. When the band cracks through they’re careful not to break the spell, as the song hinges on a loping beat, three-part harmonies and a slew of sunset slides. The band relocated to the titular community hall in New South Wales to record the album and that homeliness and humbleness comes shining through the track. There’s a bittersweet pang to the song, but in many ways its more of a warm hug to help that pang pass. If there were such a thing as scarf weather rock, then this would certainly be the forerunner of the sound. The album is an attempt to crossexamine landmark moments in each of the six band members’ lives, and as such its wrought with sly smiles, self-doubt, anxiety and gentle resolve. Don’t let this one sneak out of view in the bustling release days ahead, as “What Its Worth” should attest, The Oddfelows Hall is full of lovely little gems to soothe the soul.


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