Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

Matt Lajoie – “Kuchina’s Dance”

Matt Lajoie announces the third in a planned series of five records focusing on elemental forces, just a few months after the cooling force of Everlasting Spring. The focus this time shifts from water to fire, though in the true spirit of Lajoie, the focus here is on warmth and light rather than the destructive force of the lit flame. The first cut to reach the world’s ears is “Kuchina’s Dance,” a meditative, circular piece that dances through the speakers with the dazzling intimacy of a candle’s flame. Lajoie and Flower Room have proven indispensable over the last few months, offering up a cocoon of calm during times that are anything but. The record lands on shelves January 21st and as usual he’s got a handmade version as well that’s limited but lavish. While its always a rush to light up some of these Bandcamp releases, this one might help us all slow down a bit today and just live in its embrace for seven minutes or so.




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Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears – “Sun’s Hiding”

Oh, quite nice. This is something a bit different from Sean Thompson. The Nashville songwriter has been clamoring up the cosmic vine lately, but the second volume of Weird Ears For Weird Times offers a narcotic, nocturne vision of slinking pop with ice in the veins. The song’s anchored by Thompson’s reedy delivery, roughed at the edges but with a feeling of road wear seeping in between the sighs. Anchored by a slouched organ exhale and boasting some nervy guitar lines that are as far from the silvered cosmic vein he’s been harboring than could ever have been expected. The single is paired with a slightly more straightforward ramble under the name “Distraction,” but the songs make for a nice pair from a songwriter who has only been getting better these days. New LP is reportedly on the way soon, but this should tide ya over until then.




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Civic – “Radiant Eye”

Hey its Bandcamp Friday once again, which means that the inbox is stuffed to bursting and I’m desperately trying to parse through the best of the glut. Aussies Civic return today with a new double-sided scorcher that puts their frenetic brand of punk at the forefront and adds a nice touch of horns. Not something I was expecting to enter the Civic arena, but “Radiant Eye” torches through the speakers with a whiff of ozone on the air and the band follow it up with a beaten and battered cover of The Creation on the back, making the familiar rally cry from Rushmore feel like less of a ‘60s jangler and more of a sonic scorcher in times when sitting still truly feels like a luxury. If you’re throwing around a bit of monetary support today, you could do worse than to give Civic some coin for this AA vision of punk bash.




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Trevor Beld Jimenez – “Comeback Kid”

The past few years have been a blessing of cosmic country, often leaning towards an embrace of the past — landing between the Burritos’ blurred swagger and Crazy Horse’s toughened wander into the rough hills. Veteran songwriter Trevor Beld Jimenez slips between the salt-scrubbed breezes to bring a vision that’s pulled away from this Kodachrome prism of ‘70s country rock. He’s still reaching into the auburn arms of the California sun, but this is steeped in a more AOR, AM radio softness. “Comeback Kid” turns away from the glare that others embrace to find itself aligning with an unlikely love of Bread and America. The former’s Baby I’m-A Want You feels like it’s left a particular impression on Jimenez. As a contributor to several RSTB faves (GospelbeacH, Dios, Fruit Bats) Trevor’s no novice when it comes to the sounds that touch the wavy end of the country spectrum, but the clarity and care he imparts to the song gives a new life to the rock radio staples that sometimes wind up maligned in hindsight.

The song appears on the upcoming I Like It Here which ropes in a large roster of impressive talent Clay Finch, Pearl Charles, Nelson Bragg, Bob Glaub, Kacey Johansing, and Eric D. Johnson. The record lands November 13th on Curation Records.



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Jason Henn – “A Straighter Line (Ballad of JPHS)”

Following up on Honey Radar’s great LP from last year and a retrospective of their Chunklet singles earlier in this year, the band’s Jason Henn knocks out a solo LP for Cara Records. The bandleader has issued a few CD-rs for Chunklet collatortor Third Uncle Records and a self-released lathe, but for all purposes this marks his first LP under his own name. The songs retain a lot of the immediacy of recent Radar material — pitting a psych-pop penchant against his ability to knock out GBV-style fuzz nuggets that get lodged in the head like static-sore jingles. There’s plenty to love in on the album but the immediacy of “A Straighter Line (Ballad of JPHS)” exemplifies what makes Henn’s songwriting stick. There’s a breezy pop to the track but its hidden under the transistor vocals and the noise-pop barrage of guitars. Yet, its never abrasive, just a solid swinger with a bit of grit to it. The full LP doesn’t disappoint, with 10 more kickers in a similar mold. Jazz Pigs In High School is out today.

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The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness – “Play (On My Mind)”

Scottish/Spanish duo The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness let out the first single from their upcoming sophomore LP. Despite the Feelies-nodding band name, the duo push much further into the sunshine soul of power pop here, dipping into the ‘90s earnestness of Teenage Fanclub, Velvet Crush, Sloan, and early Big Star or The Hot Dogs out of the Ardent camp. The band recorded this record apart, trading takes from their respective encampments in Edinburgh and San Sebastián. The song is dazzlingly bright but with a light afternoon haze that bends the colors in muted golds and yellows. Crackling drums propel the song, but its the swooning ‘90s guitars and full-sail vocal harmonies that really sell this one. The band’s new album Songs From Another Life is out February 5th from Bobo Integral.



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Jim Jupp on Caravan – The Land of Grey and Pink

One of the more consistent labels that’s popped up around RSTB over the years has been UK house Ghost Box. The label’s approach to gorgeously layered psychedelic electronic combined with a design sense driven by the legendary Julian House makes each new entry an essential piece of a larger puzzle. The label is headed by Jim Jupp, but he’s not only the driving force behind the label, he’s also one of their stable of artists. Combining a whimsical nostalgia with deep synth atmospherics, he crops up in the guise of The Belbury Poly and The Belbury Circle. Jim’s definitely the kind of deep shelf record listener that the Hidden Gems series was made for, so I couldn’t resist asking for a pick when the latest Belbury Poly album came ‘round this year. He’s landed on a key Canterbury prog classic from Caravan — the expansive The Land of Grey and Pink. Check out how this album came into his life and the impact it’s made.

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Larry Schemel on Opal – Happy Nightmare Baby

L.A. musician Larry Schemel’s almost over qualified for the Hidden Gems column, having created a few of them himself. The guitarist has held down time in ‘90s underground faves Kill Sybil/Sybil and Midnight Movies, contributed to The Flesh Eaters repertoire and has been anchoring Death Valley Girls for the last few years. Larry certainly seems like a source of some deep shelf picks for this column so I reached out to see what he might recommend. He picked a favorite that I share as well, opting for the sole LP proper from Opal. Hear how this pre-Mazzy Star nugget came into his life and the impact it has had on him over the years.

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Dylan Sizemore on Bruce Haack – The Electric Lucifer

I’ve had the new Frankie and the Witch Fingers on the deck for a while now and it only gets better and deeper with each spin. The record is an interconnected odyssey of psychedelic excess that lifts the listener from this temporal plane and into a parallel dimension of glowing psychosis and psilocybin-induced evolution. The colors in the mind match the visual barrage of Will Sweeney’s saturated cover art and the band has never sounded hungry to cross the time-space rift than now. I snagged Witch Fingers’ driving force Dylan Sizemore to dig deep for a pick in the Hidden Gems series and he obliged with a psychedelic odyssey of his own. Check out Dylan’s take on Bruce Haack’s electronic epic The Electric Lucifer below.

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The Silence – “Electric Meditations”

Masaki Batoh isn’t wasting any time these days, cranking out excellent solo records and new material from The Silence at a dazzling clip. The latter is back on the heels of their heavy hitter from last year and from the sounds of the nearly eight minute title track, “Electric Meditations,” it’s going to be just as ferocious. The song crawls in on a stomping riff before the band lays in with fat bleats of sax and Batoh laying down a faraway lyric over the top. It burns straight through — growling, groaning, and letting the listener get a nice sear on ‘em between the grit on that guitar and the bulbous sax blasts that permeate the song. The Silence has proven to be some of the ex-Ghost songwriter’s most intense material over the years and from the sounds of this one, that reputation isn’t going anywhere soon. The new record is out November 6th from Drag City.



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