Browsing Category Tracks

The Cowboys – “Some Things Never Change”

Photo: Caroline Marchildon

Every new LP from Bloomington, Indiana’s The Cowboys further cements them in my mind as true savants of garage bliss. Over the past few years the rough edges have fallen away but their sense of chaotic fun hasn’t ebbed one bit. Their fourth LP is on the way from Feel It records who’ve worked with the band in the past, bringing their Volume 4 to LP from its humble cassette origins. “Some Things Never Change” is a sunny day strummer that’s pinned to a tumble of organ and some of the band’s catchiest hook work to date. This one carves out some of the soul and heads to the heart of power pop and it sounds good on ‘em. Definitely bumping this record up to the top of the anticipated pile for 2019.



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Traffik Island – “17”

One of the standout tracks on the Anti-Fade compilation, New Center of the Universe Vol. 3, this year was a track from Traffik Island. The band is largely the solo output of Zak Olsen from ORB, The Frowning Clouds and Hierophants. While he’s had a handful of singles scattered over the last few years, news today comes of a debut album on Flightless. The pairing makes sense, given ORB’s standing at the label, and first track “17” is a delightfully sunny swath of psych-pop that’s a far cry from ORB’s windpipe crushers. Instead the track, like previous outings from Traffik Island, is a sparkling jangler full of bright harmonies that bring to mind The Free Design, Euphoria, Sapphire Thinkers, or any other manner of the bittersweet brand of sunshine psych. The LP, Nature Strip is out next year and this track gives it a glow of promise. Definitely excited for this.

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J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest – “Your Torturer”

Twerps have great solo projects coming out in droves these days. In additions to the EP from Alex MacFarlane earlier in the year and the upcoming LP from Martin Frawley, the band’s Julia McFarlane (formerly known solo as Hot Topic) has a new full length on the way under the name J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest. The first single from the upcoming TA DA is couched in jangles and floated by flute. “Your Torturer” isn’t a straightforward strummer though. The flute and guitar lines spar with one another, with the latter pecking out a choppy, yet catchy saunter. By contrast McFarlane and the flute lilt their way dreamily through the song, oblivious to the sprightly strums below. Both McFarlane and Frawley are straying from the sound that made them occasional household names and its great to see them picking apart pop to find some new ground. The record lands on Hobbies Galore in January.



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Grave Flowers Bongo Band – “Birds”

Hoover III member Gabe Flores strips back the psych to a warm sunny burble on his own Grave Flowers Bongo Band. The L.A. band whips up a psych-folk froth that brings to mind Fresh Maggots a young Bolan’s T. Rex before he found moniker brevity and cocaine. There’s definitely a beard of stars at work here, and true to their promise, bongos. On “Birds” the band adopts the “faded demo from the hip” approach that’s worked well for their contemporaries in Paint this year. On the track, the band feels far from the pounded pavement of their L.A. locale. Perhaps they’ve pushed out to the Canyon and beyond for an off-kilter psych soup that’s built from the static transmissions of Gary Higgins, Sam Gopal, Trees, and John Peel favorites Tractor. Like the best psych-folk this one’s wobbled off its axis and sticks around to delight all the way through. The LP lands in full on Friday via the good folks at Permanent.



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Martin Frawley – “End of the Bar”

This Martin Frawley album is shaping up to be the “sorting your shit out” record that we all need this year. Recorded in the wake of a break-up and band dissolution, the record was admittedly written while Frawley took some stock and reassessed his life. More often than not, Frawley admitted, it seemed those moments wound up in a bar or two. I understand the impulse, numbness kills the ache and even if you’re surrounded by strangers, its better than sticking it out alone. Few of the songs encapsulate the self-destructive, self-loathing quality that often creeps up during the times that it seems all the load-bearing emotional wall come crumbling down than “End of the Bar.” He sums up the feeling of trading friends for regulars and unloading your problems on fellow drunks nicely when he sings, “You look familiar, you look tired, you look like you’ve dealt with me.”

The song realizes the kind of asshole we let ourselves become when we think its all come undone. As someone who’s spent time on both sides of the bar wood, the drunk that unloads all their issues is a familiar face. Frawley coming to terms with himself and his own insufferable self is as numerous as it is satisfying. Here’s hoping there’s more hubris and hope on the upcoming Undone at 31.



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Writhing Squares – “A Whole New Jupiter”

I’d say that Philly’s Writhing Squares quietly released one of the best space rock records of 2016, but Writhing Squares don’t do anything quietly. The band is built on a wave of squall, pinning an insistent beat to fizzing torrents of bass and slashing sax. Their debut was a molten chunk of twisted nerve noise and zonked-out groove, so to properly follow it up the band drops another sixteen tons of motorik patter on your plate right out of the gate. The first premiere from January’s Out Of The Ether is the frothing side-long crusher “A Whole New Jupiter.” The nineteen-and-a-half-minute track boils over with bass n’ synth freak energies that flash through the atmosphere in heatsick waves. Kevin Nickles’ sax weaves a bop that’s funky and fraught.

The band themselves sum up the track nicely giving it credit for the album’s title, “We were jamming in the garage trying to work on a totally different song with a similar drum beat, says bassist Daniel Provenzano, “but after about 5 minutes of that we gave up and started fucking around on a synth pattern Kevin made up. And we just kept playing for about 20 minutes straight, and it was full of all these ideas we really loved. So, we did it a few more times and arranged it into a somewhat cohesive song- it was totally organic and fun and natural and it’s like it was there in the garage waiting for us to play it… so that’s kind of where the album title originates. That song came out of the ether.” Nickles concurs, noting “Yea that pretty much sums it up. We just jammed and all the parts kinda magically came to us, then we Holdger Czukay-ed the thing together, hahaha!”

Out of The Ether is out January 25th via Trouble in Mind. Better be ready.


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DMBQ – “Blue Bird”

Its been a good clip since DMBQ graced us with their presence around these (or any) parts and their first rumblings sings 2005’s The Essential Sounds From The Far East find the band just as enmeshed in guitar pyrotechnics and acid bath aesthetics as they’ve ever been. One of Japan’s fiercest exports, the trio has been flaying minds since the early nineties and now they find themselves popping up on Ty Segall’s DC imprint God?. Seems like a perfect fit to me, to be honest. “Blue Bird,” the first single from the album, is a low-slung psych freakout, tumbling over a barrage of drums and gnashing its teeth on the psyonic forces of feedback and flesh stripping riffs. The 12-ton drop of the song is a great reminder that breathless release cybcles are all well and good, but sometimes the best things are worth the wait – even if you dindn’t know you’ve been waiting for it. I’d never have expected a DMBQ album this year, but it ranks high on the list of great surprises for 2018.



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Priors – “At Your Leisure”

A blast of jittery, caffeinated post-punk bursts out of Montreal’s fertile scene from Priors. On the latest single from their upcoming sophomore LP, the band bites into the cross-section of punk and New Wave with a rabid fury. They’re careening into view on a wave of anxiety and riding the fizzing angst with reckless skill. They pull from the same fuzz-infected well as their Canadian contemporaries Century Palm, though they fall closer to the erratic pop genius of Ausmuteants on “At Your Leisure.” The band cribs from quite a few of Canada’s punk underdogs, with members of Steve Adamyk Band, Sonic Avenues, New Vogue and The Famines rounding out the lineup. New Pleasure sidles out on punk powerhouse label Slovenly on November 16th.



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The Ocean Party – “What Its Worth”

The second single off of The Ocean Party’s upcoming The Oddfellows Hall takes a more autumnal turn than the jangly hues of first peek “Off and On.” The new track creeps in slowly, stretching out amid the quietude and a gentle lap of tape hiss. When the band cracks through they’re careful not to break the spell, as the song hinges on a loping beat, three-part harmonies and a slew of sunset slides. The band relocated to the titular community hall in New South Wales to record the album and that homeliness and humbleness comes shining through the track. There’s a bittersweet pang to the song, but in many ways its more of a warm hug to help that pang pass. If there were such a thing as scarf weather rock, then this would certainly be the forerunner of the sound. The album is an attempt to crossexamine landmark moments in each of the six band members’ lives, and as such its wrought with sly smiles, self-doubt, anxiety and gentle resolve. Don’t let this one sneak out of view in the bustling release days ahead, as “What Its Worth” should attest, The Oddfelows Hall is full of lovely little gems to soothe the soul.


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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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