Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

Cory Hanson – “Ordinary People”

Wand is pretty damn prolific as it is, so the news that the band’s Cory Hanson is embarking on a solo record seems like he’s pushing his limits. Though the sound of “Ordinary People” is worlds away from Wand’s powder keg of psych stomp and garage explosion so maybe this Hanson letting his guard down and searching the other side of the coin. Starting with a swell of strings and building to a gorgeous bit of chamber folk that comes on with fragile, yet orchestrated appeal of 60’s nuggets like Gandalf (there’s a bit of a “Hang On To A Dream” quality), bits of The Zombies or even Susan Christie; “Ordinary People” is a psych-folk gem that’s light on the psych but heavy on the emotional impact. Its a new take on Hanson’s songwriting and to tell the truth, the lighter side looks good on him. Not that I’m going to shrug at any fire and flash from the Wand camp, but this kind of lush folk is always a welcome ticket around here. Can’t wait to see how this song stacks up with the whole album. The world needs more weird folk nuggets out there.

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Jacuzzi Boys – “Boys Like Blood”

Just can’t help myself, whenever there’s a new Jacuzzi Boys on the horizon, the excitement gets a bit palpable. After a solid self-released EP, the band returns with a proper full length for their own Mag Mag imprint and its shifting them away from the garage grit of their past, through the power-pop neon of Happy Damage and into a nineties inflected grunge pop that’s roping in a “Cannonball” groove and Matthew Sweet towers of guitar. They’ve always had those more polished instincts roiling under their past releases but it seems with this one they’re fully going for it. Its often a mixed blessing when bands go in for the pop sheen. It can go too far and feel like a plastic version of what you always loved about them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here at all. Its big and bright and bold, but with a fuzzed out love of ’90s thickness and a chorus that sticks it all the right brain crags. Can’t wait for more of this one in October.

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Vexx – “Do What You Want To”

Olympia’s Vexx take on punk like it was just beginning to sprout legs. They’re cued into the kind of frantic tear that drove Television or The Voidoids, sure, but they seem to have locked into a slightly later vision that might encompass French upstarts The Dogs, UK nuggets The Only Ones or Canada’s undersung Teenage Head. Both M’ladys and Upset The Rhythm kicked out a previous release from the band, so this one comes to no shortage of baited breath, and with good reason. Solos flare, the vocals sneer and the band plays like they want listeners to buck some system, somewhere. Sure punk is dead, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all find solace in a good ole fashioned rocker now and again. Vexx are still pursuing that incendiary vision of punk you’ve read about and probably always thought existed as you embarked on your first DIY show. Maybe they prove its still possible to be vital. Maybe we kinda need them to. Mabye the pontificating doesn’t matter as much as the sweat drenched pummel of “Do What You Want To” in the end. Maybe we all need to just shut up and dance sometimes.

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Axis: Sova – “Violent Yellow”

Just under a year after Brett Sova hit the world with his debut for God? Records, the Chicagoan returns, cleaned up sonically, but no less ready to dive into the dirty grit of motorik rock n’ roll and heavy psych. With Cave/Bitchin’ Bajas’ Cooper Crane at the decks, Sova has recorded a follow-up to Early Surf and its peeling back the cover on his grit soaked grind, wiping some of the debris from his lo-fi lockdown last year and letting the fuzz and fry bubble over with a crispness that suits him. The first taste of Motor Earth is a psych-splattered groover that’s one part kin to the Krautrock dirge of those other motorik menaces from ’16, The Writhing Squares, and one part ozone caked psych fry that’s burning down the button down lock step Krautrock altogether. Its a good first impression for the record and sounding like Axis: Sova is still one to watch.




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Hartle Road – “Garbage Wizard”

Columbus, Mississippi’s Hartle Road unleashes a smooth and woozy brand of psych pop on their debut LP, Maxx. “Garbage Wizard” chugs its way into this world, bashing sweatstained riffs through the quaking vision of heat ripples before slipping into a creamy chorus that lives up to the band’s self-imposed aesthetic of a Phil Spector sound with jail cell acoustics. Then they tear the whole thing down with a tin foil transmission bridge that feels like it might teeter off the brink and blow it all apart. Its the kind of track that seems like it has everything working against it, so it can’t possibly fail, right? But all the pieces work together just right. Toby Hartleroad and crew seem to be digesting their influences well, churning out a psych pop platter that’s got plenty to love for everyone.



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Purling Hiss – “Fever”

Purling Hiss have, no doubt, evolved over the past few years from szuzz-mining noise-psych purveyors to rock standard bearers. Though in their new role they may be clearer sounding than their blown cone fuzz days, they still have plenty of punch packed into their tightly wound riffs. With a heavy crunch and alt rock swagger, they blow the doors off for their latest album, High Bias, by hitting us with a single that’s reminiscent of Afghan Whigs shot through a high octane dose of Brian Jonestown’s amp runoff. The shouted background vocals are redlining in all the right ways and there’s a dirtiness to it that feels very Purling Hiss, but with its hair combed all nice seeing as they continue with the higher fidelity adopted on 2014’s Weirdon. Sounds like a good start to me. Always happy to hear some Hiss blowing through the speakers around here.



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Opposite Sex – “Oh Ivy”

Opposite Sex’s last album tapped into the jangle-pop past of their Dunedin roots, but they take things deeper on their sophomore release, Hamlet. “Oh Ivy” starts with the same basic ingredients that the band dipped from on their eponymous debut; post punk clatter and the lilting vocals of Lucy Hunter, but it quickly turns much darker than they’ve gone before. The tension is thick and the guitar slinks with a wild almost inebriated stumble. The song is up on its hackles within the first minute. Hunter’s vocals turn desperate, ravaged, pleading and accusing at the same time. The song slashes and crumples on itself and by the time the end draws near Hunter seems practically beside herself with longing and despair. Its the kind of post-punk that most who use the tag are not making. It wields noise, sheds any sense of self-consciousness and just lets the music embody ragged emotions, raw and nervy. The album is out in the band’s native New Zealand through the ever intriguing Melted Ice Cream Collective and here in The States from Dull Tools. From the sounds of this, its going to wipe any expectations that Opposite Sex set up completely off the table.



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Totally You – “One Step At A Time”

Izak Arida’s (of The Memories) new EP Smog City is full of scuzzy odes to L.A.’s grime and lo-fi rumples on hangovers, but underneath a bit of that scruffy exterior lies a solid strain of psych-pop that holds a lot of DNA in common with The Dandy Warhols, Primal Scream and Love and Rockets. Nowhere is this strain more evident than on standout track “One Step At A Time.” It breaks open with that kind of heard-it-before laid back riff that you can’t quite place, but can’t quite ignore either. Rather than feel like simply another plow through the ruts of drug laden pop froth, Arida gives the song a spark of life that catches hard, careening the riff like a teenage joyride through the speakers. Its bigger than most of the other tracks on Smog City, stacking vocals and harmonies into a creamy goodness that brings the West Coast sun and slacker pop saunter with just a dash of Brit-pop pomp. This track alone feels like the match that might touch off Totally You, given the right fuel.



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Nancy – “I Want One”

Everything about this track is dumb fun, and like Nobunny before them Nancy is completely unconcerned with fidelity, decorum or whether or not you give a shit about them or their knockaround riffs. “I Want One’ is a hundred foot wave of candied amplification crashing down on you from all directions. Its pop. Its punk. Its bubblegum sweet and sticky as hell but its also a perfect blast to beat back the world. Whatever’s bringing the blues can’t withstand “I Want One.” There are plenty of amped up peelers on Nancy’s upcoming LP for Germany’s Erste Theke Tontraeger label, but this one burns a hole like summer incarnate. Technically the first half of this puppy’s already been an EP for Eat The Life Records, but who cares if its old. Its getting a full length treatment with a whole new stack of tracks on the flip and if its new to you then its just as shiny as ever. Go ahead and crank it.



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Tomorrow The Rain Will Fall Upwards – “…And I Tried So Hard”

The purposely elusive Tomorrow The Rain Will Fall Upwards returns to Blackest Ever Black for a new long player that from all indications will be a really interesting listen. The first track proper is a slinking bit of calm tranquility that builds on angelic synths and swirling bliss. The cut emerges from the gauzy vortex for some piano fragility that builds the runnout to euphoric heights. Its a gorgeous track that can’t help but lift your spirits, even just a little bit. As I said, from the sampler that BEB just put out for the rest of the album, it sounds like the rest will weave all over the place into a mash of delight and cacophony, which sounds just perfect. Excited for this full length to unfold over the next month.




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