Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

The Cowboys – “The Beige Collection”

Bloomington’s garage-soul swelters The Cowboys are back and the carefree flow that was palpable on The Bottom of a Rotten Flower seems to have evaporated overnight as we head into their new LP, Room of Clons. “The Beige Collection” is a dark, brooding introduction to their new LP, driving deep into the night with a hungry riff and the vocals of frontman Keith Harman hovering over the listener with a sinister edge. Seems the rest of the album might return to some of their homegrown punk roots but here, for the moment, The Cowboys are post-punk purveyors of a measured menace that’s hard to shake. The record hits shops and mailboxes alike on April 4th.


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Arbouretum – “Let It All In”

Arbouretum cross lines of country, psych, and folk on their new LP for Thrill Jockey — a position that they’ve long occupied, but while much of Let It All In graces the grander schemes of folk and only touches the psych shores, the title track makes its home there. The song, pushing well past the eleven-minute mark, works a nugget of groove into a gnarled, smoldering pile of riff and rumble. The track unfurls over the expanse of its timeframe, pushing into the kind of ribbon of groove that’s locked into a seance sweat and looking to work the rhythm section to the bone. Over a hammered lock-step beat the guitar grit of Dave Heumann finds its wings, stretching into the embrace of volume with little regard for where the winds might take him. The band’s been at it for some time, and at a point when many can write off a release as just another album in the chain, this alone proves that Arbouretum still have a nail to crush into the coffin of their contenders.




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Jeanines – “Been In The Dark”

Last year NYC’s Jeanines put out a charming burst of jangle-pop sunshine on Slumberland. The band, which paired songwriter Alicia Jeanine with veteran jangler Jed Smith (My Teenage Stride, Mick Trouble), is back with a new single for the UK imprint Where It’s At Is Where You Are. While the label name’s a mouthful, the first taste of the single is another delight from the duo. “Been In The Dark” swoons back and forth in a sunbeam of strings, a bubble wrap ratatat of drums and Alicia’s bittersweet vocals that tie it all together with the timeless pop bounce of bands like Look Blue Go Purple, Shop Assistants, or newer faves like Veronica Falls (minus the three part harms). The addition of violin sway gives it a particularly plucky feeling and its hard to not want this one to soundtrack every sunny day from here until August. The single is out March 6th. Nab one while you can.



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Dire Wolves – “Flow and Heady > By The Fireside”

Brand new heady jammer from Dire Wolves is up today and heralding a live release split between Feeding Tube and Cardinal Fuzz. The set was recorded live at the Festival of Endless Gratitude in Copenhagen last year and presents the band in full shamanic glory. The opener “Flow and Heady > By The Fireside” plunges straight into the heart of the beast, clawing through the psychedelic ephemera like only Dire Wolves could. Alexander’s guitars are as hooked into the ether as ever and as would be expected the track is doused in a swirling interplay between violin and voice that’s disorienting and delightful. The band has had an unstoppable couple of years and this LP shows no signs of stopping their roll. The LP lands on the tables April 17th. Definitely get in the running for one of these limited pressers.



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Rose City Band – “Only Lonely”

After last year’s stunner of a private press presentation on Ripley and Sanae’s Jean Sandwich Records, Rose City Band wafts out of the morning haze with a renewed focus on its principle songwriter (Ripley Johnson) and an even greater glint of late afternoon sun between its bars. The band signs to Thrill Jockey for a sophomore LP, Summerlong, and fades even further into the dusted dirt and sun-ripple rock of ‘70s country-psych and private press folk. Rip seems to have mastered the melancholy moments of clarity that cropped up on long lost singer-songwriter sojourns destined for dollar bin rescue by collector’s with keen ears. “Only Lonely” starts off the LP with a hip-swung jaunt — lofted high on late afternoon jangles, the buttery bliss of slide, and Johnson’s vocals dipping in and out of the smoke curls rising to the rafters. While the debut snagged the attention of the jam diggers and new-country creepers, this one’s poised to let everyone in on the secret sway that Rose City Band holds over a room. It’s only March, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t already one of 2020’s essential offerings right here.



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Doug Tuttle – “No No No No”

Doug Tuttle’s psychedelic folk LP from last year was a definite highlight that left the listener wishing for more from the Massachusetts songwriter. Seems that he might have agreed, and to follow up on the album there’s a very limited (ltd to 50) single coming out this spring on Six Tonnes de Chair. The b-side here, “No No No No,” continues the record’s mix of dreamy psychedelics and country touches. Autumn strums and sighed slides meld together into a track that’s bittersweet, with an overcast tone that’s cool and calm. As I mentioned this one is scarce at best, but even if you grab a digital of this, it feels like an essential piece of the Tuttle catalog. The single is out April 3rd.



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Traffik Island’s Zak Olsen on Public Nuisance – Gotta Survive

Keeping the wheels turning on Hidden Gems and pulling more and more psychic diggers into the fold. This week the honors fall to Zak Olsen, the Aussie indie utilitarian who crops up in quite a few RSTB faves, to be honest. From the fractured pop ooze of Hierophants to the crushing grooves of ORB, Zak has done time in The Bonniwells, The Frowning Clouds, and keeps time in his own solo work as Traffik Island. The latter’s work caught my ear a few years back with a spot-on deep-dive into loner folk, but of late the band has embraced an aesthetic of psychedelic beat driven on an engine of Library Music funk. Zak gives some background on California garage band Public Nuisance and how their Nuggets-era works came into his life. Check out Zak’s take on the band’s works below and head to Flightless for the latest Traffik Island thumper.

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Odd Hope – “All The Things”

It’s been a good week for limited singles collections. Following two stellar entries to Sub Pop’s singles club, the next couple of entries from the Slumberland 30 collection hit the internet today and included is an absolute gem from RSTB faves Odd Hope. The band, fronted by Portland songwriter Tim Tinderholt, has had an album and previous single on Fruits & Flowers, both solid and highly recommended. This single follows in fine fashion, picking up Tim’s thickly frothed jangle-pop, spreading some early summer vibes while there’s still frost clinging to the branches. “All The Things” is pinned to a hard charging guitar line that wouldn’t be out of place on a Power Pop comp, but it’s offset by spindly jangles and Tinderholt’s lightly warped croon, making this an indie pop gem that won’t crawl out from under your skin soon. On the flip, the more languid and lankier “What’s Your Part Of It makes for a fine companion. Pick this one up now. More people need to be singing the praises of Odd Hope.




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Weak Signal – “Rolex”

A little while back I posted up the other side of this great split from Wharf Cat Records – a seismic cut from NY’s Endless Boogie. Splitting the flip with the Boogie is NY trio Weak Signal. The band, led by Mike Bones (Soldiers of Fortune, Endless Boogie), proves adept at carving memorable matter from minimal hooks. Their sound glows with a dark neon pull, strobing in blacklight brilliance and rendering everything around it in an inverted glow. There’s an aloofness to their sound, but it’s hardly affected with ill intentions, rather it just seems to crop up around them effortlessly like a miasma hung with the intangible vapor of cities at night.

“Rolex,” in this spirit, centers on the story of a con man who steals instinctively, his disgust at a rich mark translating to an impulse to strip the person of property punitively. He is the night and the street and the interloper barely registers save his offense of wealth and banal obliviousness. Karmic collection is brought down and the balance returns. The single follows the band’s sorely overlooked, but quite necessary album from last year, LP1, and a follow-up EP that solidified their status in quick succession. Check the new cut and if you’re unfamiliar, walk back through their works. You won’t be disappointed.

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Sub Pop Singles: Kikagaku Moyo & Terry

The ranks of the Sub Pop Singles Club are always a good place to keep an eye, and usually a good bet to go in blind when they announce. The label embraces the edges of what they’d normally consider for full releases (through sometimes I wish this embrace would extend beyond just a one-shot 7”) and they shine a light on some of the more deserving artists in their sphere. Last year’s series is now getting out in to the physical world, but that also means those who didn’t go all in can still grab the digital delights as they come piecemeal. Yesterday saw the release of two RSTB regulars and both are in fine form.

First up is a new single from longtime faves Kikagaku Moyo. The band lights into a searing cover of “Gypsy Davey,” and English folk traditional that’s been most often associated with Sandy Denny’s version. The band, rounded out with vocals from Kandice Holms (Bells), gives the cover a good nod, mixing the earthen smolder of the original with a bit of their own psychedelic smoke. On the flip they enter the folk-tinged whisper of “Mushi No Uta,” which laps at the listener with a gorgeous simplicity and tender soul.

The label sweetens the release day with a new single from Aussie’s Terry as well. The band has been pretty low key since their 2018 full length I’m Terry only releasing a short and sweet EP last year. “Take The Cellphone” hits all the right sweet spots for Terry – as post-punk throbber that’s tinged with a squeamish pop sense and winking all the way. The b-side’s an instrumental with a laconic feel, despite its rather political title, “Debt and Deficit Disaster.” The song’s a slow creeper, but as with anything from the band, its no throwaway. Both singles are great shots for the series, though I’d think that along with the earlier inclusion of Minneapolis’ Uranium Club, all of these could welcome full lengths from these bands into the Sub Pop roster.




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