Browsing Category Tracks

Scott Hirsch – “When You Were Old (El Dorado)”

On the follow-up to his lauded album, Blue Rider Songs, Hirsch starts out strong tapping into a sunset country mix of mellow strums, buttery pedal steel and the tight-laced punch of horns. This time around Hirsch has enlisted members of Wilco alongside Edward Sharpe and M. Ward’s touring players and the results sound as well-oiled as that lineup would suggest. Hirsch sighs his way through “When You Were Old,” unraveling a tone of weariness and resigned sadness. The song shimmers in a way that’s not showy. It’s not the jukebox pick that’s gonna bring everyone to the floor, but its probably gonna save someone’s night, reaching out an arm of solidarity through any darkened bar. Hirsch has a deft handle on country tinged with Southern soul. The track swings like its got a touch of Muscle Shoals in its DNA, provided the house band relocated to Laurel Canyon for a dawn session among the trees. The record is out in December on Scissor Tail, which is a mark quality in and of itself, the label is an essential barometer for high quality folk and country these days. Get into this one and keep your finger above the repeat button.



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New Rose – “Plenty of Flowers”

For an East Coast band, bound to the NYC streets, there’s a remarkable amount California salt in New Rose’s veins. Their last album tucked into alt-country with the vigor of exiles trying on a new skin, but as is evident from the first taste of the upcoming Crying Eyes, they’re now quite comfortable in that Western skin and looking to make their mark on the legacy of country-psych and Cosmic Americana. Add another name to the list of 2018 bands joyously recapturing the tipping point of psychedelia’s innocence lost. “Plenty of Flowers,” which boasts the inclusion of session legend Al Perkins on pedal steel, evokes the kind of sighed Sunday resolve that looks back on the regrets, indulgences and mistakes of the past week with a narcotic detachment that’s warmed by the late afternoon sun and buffeted by the last few beers in the fridge.

Wagner and co. have gone to lengths to outfit the record with the right totems of a bygone era and they’re capturing the Canyon’s light just right. Aside from Perkins (who played on Gram Parsons and Rolling Stones’ records) the band’s pulled in players who worked with Linda Rondstat and Kacey Musgraves alongside vocals from Anna Fox of Quilt. “Plenty of Flowers” tips its hat to their raglan and linen vibes and sets a nice tone for an album of imaginary melancholic L.A. misadventures dreamed by those born just out of time’s reach.



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Michael O – “Haunted”

More good news arrives from The Mantles’ camp this week as songwriter Michael Olivares has a new single on the way for Fruits & Flowers. The first song from the single, “Haunted,” is a dreamy, delicate bit of jangle-pop, bolstered by a pillowy touch of keys and a hum of violin. Like much of his work for the small SF label, the song picks at the past with a reverent comb. There’s a looming shadow of The Jacobites here, as well as flashes of The Go-Betweens and The Pastels. Along with producer Edmund Xavier, Olivares has woven another stunner. Fruits & Flowers is quietly building themselves as the new Sarah Records (for those just now getting interested in the veteran label’s Bandcamp revitalization) and I hope that it gets recognition as such in its own time. The fear always remains that something this delicately niche could suffer in silence, only to gain the following they should have had two generations down the line. Prevent that cruel curse by jumping into their catalog with both feet now.



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Sextile – “Spun”

Now paired down to a duo, LA’s Sextile have stripped back more than just their stage plot. The new EP pushes post-disco and post-punk down the same staircase, winding up a skin-tight dancefloor freak that’s bound to get sweat in everyone’s drink. They’re searching the same future free bins that have given license to NY’s Future Punx, sharing in their tattered silver lamé take on the synthwave riot. For “Spun,” though, the band push the fader further toward their punk impulses, reveling in the grime of their basest gutter scraping impulses. The song’s swathed in the kind of broken futurist visions that welcomed John Carpenter fans and oozed out of the margins of Cronengerg’s world. While the whole EP tends towards the dancefloor, the band feels more comfortable in the shadows.



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Paint – “Daily Gazette”

So, in general, the phrase Allah-Las solo project peaks my interest. Call it a trigger, if you must, but the thing that hooks me in here is that on top of the SoCal garage pedigree lies some production by Frank Maston. Maston’s albums of spot-on Library psych are intriguing to say the least, but when paired with a more traditional model, he’s laid the works of Pedrum Siadatian in to a frothy pocket that’s flecked with sea air and nonchalance. Siadatian’s songwriting is bleary, smudged, and unhurried in a way that begs for the aching expanse of the West Coast. While Ariel Pink might hold the ’60s xerox-pop crown, that’s not to say there aren’t other subjects in the realm. Paint’s first offering sits well within the same context, its imbued with jocularity, imbibed and exhaled with a cocked eybrow and slight smirk, but its refreshing all the same. What remains to be seen is how the rest of the album stacks up to the street corner swagger of “Daily Gazette.” For now, though, this is just the respite we all need.

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Crepes – “As You Go”

It’s a nice surprise this morning to see that Aussie pop wranglers Crepes are back at it, with a new album scheduled for October 26th. Following on the low-key single “Bicycle Man,” which will appear on the album as well, the band releases the slinking, “As You Go.” The song retains the band’s attention to glossy pop, but this time they’re keeping things much closer to the vest. The track builds slow, not rushing too hard into the sunshine hooks that splattered their previous album, instead flashing a quick bite of pop on the chorus before releasing the song’s tension with a flurry of jazz-flecked guitar. The song, like “Bicycle Man” seems to be slicing some post-disco bass into their repertoire and it falls far from the current crop of Aussie indies that have taken root in the ‘90s. The first single had me pleasantly perplexed, but with “As You Go,” I’m properly excited for this new Crepes album.


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Doug Paisley – “Drinking With A Friend”

Its been about five years since Doug Paisley graced the speakers here, but he’s come back subtle and strong. Paisley’s pulling from the well of Townes and Guy Clark in a big way here. The song is world weary in a way that yokes the listener hard with the weight of Paisley’s years. It’s a drinking song, but not a jolly one, the kind that helps to kill the pain as quick as the whiskey. I’ve always found myself in the camp that thinks the best country songs are simple, no embellishments, no bombast, just pain and strums and a little sweet ache of steel in the back. Paisley’s hitting all the marks here and if the rest of the album follows suit, then this is going to be a hard hitter for 2018.

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Gregor – “This Heat”

Melbourne’s Gregor hit back with a new single from their upcoming LP Silver Drop. “This Heat,” despite sharing a name with the noise purveyors of yore, is actually smooth and slippery, an air-conditioned escape from the sun baked sidewalks and parched-throat bake of midday. The song melts reggae stabs around an EZ-listening lilt that lands just this side of queasy. The song’s heat-rippled rock is just the thing to stave off the unseasonable heat wave that’s gripping our country, even though their own is probably nice an temperate right about now, lucky bastards.



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Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore – “Painter of Tygers”

Kindred spirits Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore have connected for a collaborative release that’s delicate and haunted. Anchored by the sun-squinted folk of Baird, the first track from the duo’s upcoming Ghost Forests lays a film of noise over Baird’s voice like dust on windows. Baird calls out from behind the din, slowly receding into the Kodachrome ache of time while Lattimore’s harp is upfront and present, sparkling in full color and framing the song’s heartache hues brilliantly. A true partnership elevates both songwriters and this pairing seems like such a natural extension of what both women have been cultivating in their own works that it feels like a band that’s been playing together for years bringing forth their best work. Keep an eye out for the album on Three Lobed this November.



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Pat Thomas – “The Money Guys”

Told you it was a good time for the Bay this week, and here comes your next reason. Cool Ghouls have consistently stunned with their catalog of country-curled psych rock, with not a bummer in the bunch of their three albums. Now the band’s Pat Thomas is striking out on his own and tucking into the AOR shimmer of the ‘70s. He heralds his upcoming sophomore solo LP, I Ain’t Buyin’ It, with the golden glow of “The Money Guys.” The track hinges on the soft-focus horns and cellophane riffs that tied Chicago, The Doobies Bros. and Steely Dan together with late period Tim Buckley.

The track takes down economic inequality and does it while wearing boat shoes. It’s a ‘70s lounge jam critical of the man as played from the hired piano of venture capitalists’ own yachts. No one’s paying attention at the party so you might as well spite ‘em, eh? I’m eager to see where Pat takes the sound on this, too much of a plunge through ‘70s cheese could sink into pastiche, but if he keeps striking a balance between smooth strings and an acid tongue, then it could soar above easy listening.



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