Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – “Dreaming In The Non-Dream”

Whew, Forsyth comes into his own on this one. Not that the guitarist has been slacking, his Solar Motel Band has been excavating their own cavern of psych for a long time, but on his latest record he’s reaching to a new level of intensity. With his teeth sharpened and the kind of motorik instincts that drove Neu to repetitive stress, he’s let a monster down on the world in the form of the title track off his latest LP, “Dreaming In The Non-Dream.” The track’s a blistered American bar guitar workout gone cosmic – Pere Ubu and The Dead shot through the soul of Hawkwind and Ash Ra Temple. I’ve often held Forsyth in high regard, but this album seems to have actualized his soul and burnt it out through the wires. Damn well worth looking into and keeping your eyes on.




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James Elkington on Robin Williamson – Myrrh

You might not immediately recognize James Elkington’s name but chances are you’ve heard his playing on songs by Jeff Tweedy, Wooden Wand, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn, Michael Chapman, Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg or Tortoise. He’s a kind of sidmean’s sideman, a songwriter’s secret weapon who adds texture and depth to any song he graces. He’s steeped in the traditions of Basho, Fahey and Ayers with a touch that rivals his compatriot Steve Gunn in accessibility and nuance. As usual Hidden Gems explores the albums that inspire reverence in artists, the ones that they feel haven’t received due diligence. Elkington goes deep on a solo outing from the Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson, and makes a case for a psych-folk classic lost to time.

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Astral TV – “Sun Flares”

More great work out of the El Paraiso camp. This time the vibes skid less into the psych valley than into the Kosmiche ripple with a solo outing via Causa Sui synth and electronics-wiz Rasmus Rasmussen. The track is a prime example of ’70s German progressive synth float flecked with cosmic ambitions and rippling waves of lycergic bliss. Kosmiche has come storming back as a tag of notoriety in the last few years, but its also become a lazy signifier for letting synths drone on too long. Rasmussen can hardly be accused of aimless synth noodles. The track builds to a tower of crystalline beauty and glows like a beacon of new age glory. Many have tried and failed, but Astral TV nails the vibes that brought Germanic synth lords shuttling into view in the first place.




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RSTB Best of 2017 (so far)

Is it already six months into 2017? Could that be possible? Though it seems there are a hundred other things to distract these days from musical output, it’s been a banner year in terms of albums meeting high expectations and some new surprises sneaking their way into rotation. Somehow, despite plenty of talent bubbling through other genres, it’s just felt right to embrace the blistering squall of psych, noise and punk these past few months. So, as usual, here are the albums that have spent most time on the turntable here. Presented in alphabetical order, its a pretty good roundup with six more months left on the clock.

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Oh Sees – “The Static God”

Thee Oh Sees loom large once again and the air grows acrid with the stink of sonic deluge on this one. They’re just called Oh Sees now, you say? Sure, why not? No matter what name you hoist on the masthead, if J. Dwyer is steering the ship you can count on a good dose of psych-smacked garage. “The Static God” is paced to palpitation and bursting at the stitches with outbursts of noise that seem to take a swipe through Eastern tuning. Maybe they’ve been hanging too long with the Gizzard crew. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Three things you seem to be able to count on in a given year – Gizz, Ty and Oh Sees will come roaring in and light up the husk dry timber of your soul as they channel the very vien of psychedelic furor. As much as I enjoyed the departure on Weird Exits/ Odd Entrance last year, its good to be back behind the jet engine blast of Oh Sees guitar once again.




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The Surfing Magazines – “Lines and Shadows”

Consisting of two thirds of The Wave Pictures and one half of Slow Club, London combo, The Surfing Magazines come locked in with a touch of DIY pedigree. They don’t rest on reputation alone though, brandishing an effortless cool that seeps through the wires, laying the track into territory that’s squeezed out of the Velvets school of punk and into a bone dry twang that belies their British roots. They slide the track home with a slow building of sax that boils over as the track reaches peak, shattering into a thousand pieces of skronk and squelch that burn down any composure built up over the previous few minutes. A barbed first single that hopefully lets on to an equally interesting album.




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Wet Lips – “Here If You Need”

The glut of albums has taken time away from some great tracks of late, so why not play catch-up? In addition to anchoring RSTB faves Cable Ties, Jenny McKechnie takes up ranks in Melbourne’s Wet Lips. The band’s sound is just as tough as her other gig, though she takes less of a front-woman role here so the vocal quotient docks in a touch less powerful than Cable Ties. Not as beholden to post-punk impulses, Wet Lips hew closer to a more traditional punk palette growling through grit-teeth injustice and riding tension like a straight-edge razor on the fire-bellied “Here If You Need.” The song encapsulates, as the band mentions, “being a woman in a social situation. the obligations you feel to be polite, respectful, small, restrained, not be seen to be greedy or attention seeking.”

The album has just moved back a bit to a June 30th release and it’s coming out on the band’s own imprint Hysterical Records, which offers up their debut alongside fellow Aussies Shrimpwitch as their inaugural releases.


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Timmy’s Organism – “Wolfman Running”

Detroit’s favorite source of psychic damage is back in action. Following their outing on Third Man they’re readying an album for local label Lo & Behold. The band’s had a couple of 7″s in the run up and they gather a few of those tracks along with plenty of unheard slime on this new collection of Michigan’s best scuzz n’ fuzz. “Wolfman Running” pins itself to some Sabbath-sized riffs with Timmy Vulgar shaking the voodoo down over the top, proselytizing the dark arts and generally doing his best to keep things unhinged. Its always good to keep tabs on Vulgar, whether its the Organism or Human Eye, there’s usually rank weirdness to be had. Eating Colors envelops the world on August 29th.




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Design Inspiration: Jakob Skøtt

For the third installment of the site’s Design Inspiration series, I’m focusing on Jakob Skøtt, who wears triple hats at the excellent Danish label, El Paraiso Records. Skøtt is co-owner, member of the band Causa Sui and chief designer of the label’s aesthetic. That aesthetic struck me immediately as being one of the most cohesive and attractive since Sacred Bones took up arms 10 years ago. Like SB, the label hearkens back to the idea of library sleeves or serialized jazz, tying their catalog together through crisp typography and the faded hues of Skøtt’s paintings. There are very few labels that I stumble upon and immediately want to buy wholesale on sleeve art alone but El Paraiso makes the case for buying blind and assuming a quality product. Below are Jakob’s picks for his five favorite album covers.

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Matthew Melton on John Denver – Farewell Andromeda

Hidden Gems has become an opportunity to look into the inspirations that drive the artists I love around here, but it’s also revealed several layers to those I’d thought I had pegged. Case in point, for all his catalog leanings and past permutations I’d have figured that Matthew Melton would turn in an uncharted power pop gem, or given his latest direction in Dream Machine, perhaps a proto-metal nugget from beyond the grave. However, Melton went deep into the past to unearth some of his first musical inspirations with a look at John Denver’s under-celebrated 1973 album Farewell Andromeda. I asked Matthew how this album came into his life and how it’s affected his work.

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