Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

Flesh World’s Jess Scott on Section 25 – Love & Hate

Jess Scott’s membership in the under-sung, shambolic trio Brilliant Colors would cement her status around here alone, but she’s doubled down on great bands, heading up the equally great Flesh World. Their second LP is on the way from Dark Entries and it’s an intoxicating mix of brittle, anxious post-punk and dreampop that will undoubtedly convert a few more fans to their cult of sound. As usual with Hidden Gems, I’ve asked Jess to elaborate on an album that she finds underrepresented or overlooked in the halls of musical accolades. She’s dug deeper into the Factory files than most cursory listeners with a dive into Section 25’s 1988 album Love & Hate.

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Gen Pop – “Dear Jackie”

Rising out of the ashes of the short-lived, but ferocious Vexx, Gen Pop spits out petulant noise-pop that’s chaotic and catchy. “Dear Jackie,” from the band’s debut 7″ on Upset The Rhythm, is a quick burst of shout-along punk with vocals that tumble over one another for dominance and a rumble in the rhythm that’s not without a certain ominous tension. I was sad when Vexx folded, but it’s good to know that with members MaryJane Dunphe and Ian Corrigan living on in Gen Pop, there’s hope for some more frantic tunes to come.




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Wand’s Cory Hanson on Miles Davis – Get Up With It

There have been many bands that I’ve seen evolve here at RSTB, and with varying results, for sure. Wand’s evolution from fuzzbomb psych stewards to their current incarnation as archivists of alternative’s more ambitious corners is a journey that’s been exciting to experience from a listener’s vantage. I’d had a missed connection with the band’s Cory Hanson when he ventured into psych-folk for a solo endeavor last year on Drag City, but this time around the fates have aligned to get in a Gems feature on the verge of the release of their fourth album, Plum. For the uninitiated, Hidden Gems explores an album that the artist finds underrepresented in the canon of popular culture – the kind that falls through the cracks and deserves a shining light. Here Cory Hanson explores Miles Davis’ 1974 double album Get Up With It, explaining how it came into his life and how it’s had an effect on his own songwriting.

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Premiere: Joseph Childress – “Footsteps”

Joseph Childress’ debut has been a long time coming, building out of the bones of his sorely overlooked demo collection, The Rebirths, and inspired by a move to ranching in Wyoming. He embeds plenty of the wide-skied country charm on his eponymous debut, moving from Townes Van Zandt weary-eyed yarns to fingerpicked folk that showcases his technical side. However, there are few songs like “Footsteps” on this album. Building from a slow, plaintive pluck, the song is hushed and practically bumping against the quiet calm of summer cicadas when Childress lets us in. One minute on, a powerful piano chord transitions the tone from wistful to mournful.

Each consecutive moment takes Childress closer to the edge of breaking. The song works through emotions that have no boxes built to contain them. The end of the track sees Childress pleading with the listener, howling to the wind while it overtakes him – a storm of sound that’s on the precipice and teetering. As I mentioned, there are big skies on this album, but none bigger than here. Cracked with lightning, it is proof that Childress can sling songs with the best of them. The entirety of his self-titled album is engrossing, but this is a true high water mark.



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Frankie and the Witch Fingers

L.A. psych swingers Frankie and the Witch Fingers are back and tapping into a dank sweat lodge brand of psychedelia that sows its seeds in the euphoric daze that drove Roky Erikson, The Remains and Rudy Martinez (aka the ephemeral Question Mark). They’re looking to find that heat lightning intangibility that crops up when the stars are aligned just right and the crowd is in full sway. “Lernings Of The Light” is a full-on, harp-pocked, blooze-psych blowout that rattles the rafters and picks up the mantle that so many of the class of ’68 left curled and waiting between the tubes of their battered amps. New one is out via Permanent in September.




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Flat Worms – “Motorbike”

Following up a couple of solid singles on Volar, L.A. trio Flat Worms jumpstart the anticipation for their album proper with “Motorbike,” a two-ton fuzz whollop of a track that’s fueled by adrenaline, squelch and rumble. Pounding the pulse as hard as any cross traffic lane zagging, the song is too much fun not to crank on repeat for a good 5 or six rounds. If the rest of the album is even half as ripped as this cut, then its another win in the Castle Face column for sure. Need more reason? Sure you do. Members have spent time as part of touring bands for Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Kevin Morby and Wet Illustrated.




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Headroom – “How To Grow Evil Flowers”

Earlier this year New Haven’s Mountain Movers slipped out a crushing blow that went largely unheraleded. It’s a shame too because few are delivering the kind of Michio Kurihara shadow-fuzz grind or dipping into the Bardo Pond deep end like the are. Thankfully, though, you get another shot at basking in the cold sun squall of guitarist Kryssi Battalene as she heads up her debut as Headroom.

The album opener “How To Grow Evil Flowers” is a lead-footed crusher that picks up the P.S.F. legacy and wraps it around a dark funnel of mournful psych energy. Any list of current psych shredders that omits Battalene does a disservice to themselves. She’s not looking to melt faces with aceylene heat, rather she’s got the chops to erode the ground underneath you with a steady rumble before you even notice your descent into the doom caverns below. Look out for Headroom on Trouble in Mind in October.




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Flesh World – “Into The Shroud”

SF group Flesh World share another piece of their upcoming album, Into The Shroud, giving the title track a lo-budget clip that belies the track’s driving sheen. The song vacillates between the brittle, anxious verses and the exuberant chorus that breaks free of the tendrils of tension the band lays down throughout. It’s a tough knife edge to walk, but its clear that they’ve come quite a ways since their debut.

It’s fitting that they’ve landed on Dark Entries for this LP, a label more associated with obscure post-punk and synthwave reissues than with new acts. The band feels like they exist in a world of lost maxi-singles found at the flea market on a stroke of blind luck, but packed with the kind of electricity that causes a two year binge to find the band’s roots. Their sophomore LP looks to kick any hint of a slump to the side and act as their springboard to wider appreciation.



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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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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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