Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

SUSS – “Echo Lake”

There’s been no shortage of Cosmic Country in 2020 and for that I’m grateful. The genre’s been slowly creeping into the crevices of the year to create a billow, sigh-heavy buffer against the indignity of daily life in this fraught year. With that in mind SUSS’ latest scrawl through the ambient arm of that particular Cosmic headspace is a perfect gift this week. The band’s last LP, High Line was a quivering sluice through the slipstreams of the mind and with another dose of earthen ache in the bones of “Echo Lake,” the band looks to be extending their stay in the calm waters of our minds. This one wafts in on echoed pedal steel and nebulous dust clouds of synth just in time for the weather to cool off the scorch of summer. The single’s out now, sounds like an album’s on the horizon soon.




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Pearl Charles – “What I Need”

There was an inkling of change that snuck into the subtle EP that slipped out from Pearl Charles earlier this summer. The reworking of “Night Tides” from a disco romp into a country cool down was an unexpected treat this year. Charles’ new LP for Kanine follows suit in the best ways, trading off the ‘70s sweat of a dancefloor hangover for a quiet twilight in the bungalow alone, spinning the euphoria of the night into a melancholy melt that tugs at the suede center of the soul. Hung on a slouched organ line and sundown slides, the first single “What I Need” sums up the album nicely — a lone saunter down the strip with a chill in the air, smoke and sweat escaping into the atmosphere. The buzz of the night is coursing through the veins right up until the moment when a bittersweet lump forms in the throat. While it’s quite naturally about how this feeling might arise in the end of a relationship, the analogy works the same as any whirlwind night. There’s a knowing feeling that washes over you, an ache that enters, knowing that its over before you hit the sheets, stuck between bliss and the emptiness of a lonesome morning. Her last album waded into several pop waters, but this one dives into the deep end with a confidence that’s hard to shake. The record arrives January 15th on Kanine.



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Lavender Flu – “Rake The Face”

One Lavender Flu LP has already hit the shelves this year but it seems there’s another on the way from the Chris Gunn lead group. This time the fidelity’s crumbling like an accurate reflection of society in 2020, but the gutpunch grit of The Flu remains. Gunn’s songwriting has always straddled psych and the noisier end of the indie spectrum and this LP seems bound to let the lines blur even further. Lead single “Rake The Face” churns a bright buzz within its tape hiss hovel of sound. Pushing against the walls of redline in all direction the song has a clammy sweat groove that’s more cold turkey desperation than turbulent dance. There was some tenderness in the last Lav Flu, but this one seems to be packed with panic, pain, and a wash of noise. Tomorrow Cleaners lands in late October from MEDS.



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Barry Walker Jr. – “Up the Fan, Into the Keyhole”

Already populating one of 2020’s highly anticipated releases, the just announced North Americans record for Third Man, pedal steel player Barry Walker Jr. is helming his own follow-up to 2018’s excellent Diaspora Urkontinent as well. Like his compatriot McDermott, Walker is expanding the boundaries of his genre in all directions, trading the American Primitive of North Americans for a brand of psychedelic country that’s more indebted to Göttsching and Fripp than it its to the traditional straits of Cosmic Country or even the pedal steel virtuosity of Herb Remington. While his last album might have sat nicely alongside Luke Schneider’s latest (also for Third Man), this is no solo saunter. Walker bends the lonesome tears of his instrument through the black rainbow, but he brings along a shuffling back section as well, tumbling the first inklings of the record through a brokedown valley that’s littered with rusted arcticture that’s either junkyard or sculpture garden. Its up to the listener to parse it out against the squint of the low-hung sun. This marks a welcome return to the game for Holy Mountain Records, who’ve long been a favorite of RSTB. Glad to have ‘em back. The record is out October 30th.





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Elkhorn – “Acoustic Storm Sessions (exerpt)”

Earlier in the year Elkhorn released an album of pent-up psychedelic darkness and desperation that was forged in an unintentional lock-in during a snowstorm that caused them to miss a pivotal Brooklyn gig last year. The album, made with friend and collaborator Turner Williams, showed the band at their improvisational peak, exploring their psych-folk prowess by turning an environment of disappointment into something extraordinary. Seems that the album, which found them in a configuration with Jesse on acoustic, Drew on Electric, and Turner shifting between electric bouzouki on one side, shahi baaja on the next, spawned a sister album that’s just now seeing the light of day.

This time Elkhorn eschew the plugs to release their first completely acoustic album, letting three guitars entwine in the ice-ensconced studio to create something that’s both meditative and mercurial. Not quite born of the Basho/Fahey axis, not quite beholden to the kind of ambient plains dusters that spawned Barn Owl, this is is a more tempered vision of Elkhorn’s apocalyptic folk. On the sample below, you can feel just a small fraction of the scope of these acoustic sessions, stripped bare of the ozone-crackle of their psychedelic fry, but no less devastating in their barren burn. If anything, the austerity only enhances the permafrost isolation of the band’s stranded situation during the recording. The LP is out October 2nd on Centripetal Force and Cardinal Fuzz.




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Smarts – “Cling Wrap”

A defibrillator to the soul from a new Aussie unit (with some familiar names) out of Geelong. Smarts nail nervy, synth-jolted punk to the wall and the first cut off of their upcoming LP Who Needs Smarts, Anyway? is an absolute bumper car wreck of sprinting guitars, gulping at serotonin and slamming into whatever’s in their way. The band brings Anti-Fade helmer Billy Gardner (Cereal Killer, Ausmuteants) back together with his Living Eyes bandmate Mitch Campleman. They round out the crew with Sally Buckley keeping the synths greasy, Anti-Fade regular Jake Robertson (School Damage, Hierophants), and Stella Rennex (Bananagun, Parsnip) on sax. Like Devo knocked up half a speed and bent through wonky wiring, the band is chomping at the squirm-punk pedigree of the loner class of the ‘70s. They’re picking through the garbage of Suburban Laws and Black Randy & The Metrosquad while finding some purchase with the Midwestern glue brigade from Ubu to Dow Jones and on through the anti-social teardowns of The Uranium Club. Somehow the players in this crew are constantly exhuming Geza X, but I think that’s a more of a pet project than a selling point. If they connect it to enough bands one of you listeners is bound to check that lost classic. The LP is split between Anti-Fade in Aus and Feel It for US, and I’d recommend getting it locked on your speakers soon.




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RSTB Radio WGXC: September

Though I’m on vacation for most of the week here, the advantage of remote radio means that the monthly show goes on. Lots of new stuff in the September edition including new songs from Wet Tuna, William Tyler, Prana Crafter, North Americans, Bobby Lee and more. Plus, as usual, a whole bunch of classic cuts as well. Check out the full tracklist below and listen over at WGXC for the archive if you missed it live.

::Tracklist::

Bobby Lee – Palomino /// North Americans – Rivers That You Cannot See /// Color Green – Night /// Ethan Daniel Davidson – Leaving Cheyenne /// Akron/Family – There’s So Many Colors (radio edit) /// The Cairo Gang – Find You With A Song /// Yo La Tengo – Wasn’t Born To Follow /// Honeybus – How Long (single version) /// The Flatmates – Trust Me /// Smokescreens – I Love Only You /// The Reds, Pinks and Purples – Last Summer in a Rented Room /// Tracy Bryant – Between Us /// David Nance – When The Covers Come Off /// Jack Rose w/ D. Charles Speer & The Helix – The Longer You Wait /// Hans Chew – Carry Me, Bury Me /// Silver Synthetic – Out Of The Darkness /// Wet Tuna – Deal > Dealin’ /// William Tyler – She Swims in Hidden Water /// Sunfruits – Mushroom Kingdom /// Tim Heidecker – Fear of Death /// Danial Romano – Green Eye Shade /// Badge Époque Ensemble – Sing A Silent Gospel /// Garcia Peoples – Crown of Thought /// ZEEL – Revolution /// GÅS – Epitaph /// Death Valley Girls – Hold My Hand /// Savoy Motel – Crossword Puzzle /// The Green Child – Low Desk:High Shelf /// Headroom – House of Flowers /// Prana Crafter – Starlight, Sing Us a Lullaby

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Dire Wolves – The Compleat Trancing Master

Another Bandcamp Friday pick here rounds up a huge collection of rarities from Dire Wolves. Their releases are notoriously hard to keep up with, between live tapes, full LPs, lathe cuts, and cassettes, but they help out with a wealth of seldom heard fodder here. The band’s long been known for their live prowess and this comp culls together 172 minutes of live and rare compilation cuts that don’t make the rounds too often. It’s a lot to wrap your head around, but well worth a deep dive to let this one seep into your skin over the next couple of days. The band throws in covers of The Clean and Faust, along with a ton of unheard gems that are sure to please the Wolves fans out there. Hard to pick a favorite from this bunch but check out “Spyhopping” below.

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Wet Tuna – Eau’d To a Fake Bookie, Vol. 2

Hey whaddaya know it’s another Bandcamp Friday — no fees and no holding back. I’m going to run through a few releases worth your hard earned cash today and I’m going to star with the Tuna we all know and love. Seems quite a few no fee days have brought with it a new batch from Wet Tuna and they’re all essential. This one’s tagged as a follow-up to their July EP Eau’d To A Fake Bookie and Vol. 2 lays into some deep, damp vibes that feel just as necessary hiding out in September as they did in the heatwave summer of this cursed year. Matt n’ Pat dial in the dub-dripped haze and hold steady before they land in a goo n’ blues territory further on. At this point I shouldn’t have to convince any heads to hook up with a new Tuna offering, just putting out there on a day of good will. Check out “Deal > Dealin’” below.




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Grace Sings Sludge – “The Pledge”

was always a fan of The Sandwitches and this hammock swung strummer from the band’s Grace Cooper is a good taste of her latest LP and a bit of an extension of their charms. There’s a loose feeling to “The Pledge,” dangling its feet in the breeze and hardly taking itself too seriously. Cooper has a way of making the ordinary, lackadaisical musings on love feel slightly profound, though. While the song’s themes of self-improvement to serve the ends of a relationship seem both relatable and at their heart, doomed, Cooper’s sighed delivery gives them some weight that makes the hollow promises thud even harder. The song flits by in a haze that takes full advantage of Grace’s dreamy style of folk-pop. It’s hard not to feel the room instantly fill with incense the moment her guitar begins to strum and by the end, even though the words ring false, we’re all calmer somehow anyway. The LP is out now on Empty Cellar.




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