Browsing Category Reviews

Teddy and the Rough Riders

Missed out on this one, sadly due to the announcement running through Instagram and me looking the other way. I live for Bandcamp notifications, get it up there Rough Riders! Now, to the record. I’ve been keeping the band’s TRR EP in pretty heavy rotation on the RSTB radio show and it only grows better with age. The band, which shares members with Natural Child and The Paperhead and has backed up Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears, has been steadily carving out a mellow alt-country crevice from Nashville’s underbelly. The band captures a melancholy wind that tousles the hair of the standard country crowd – ably picking at traditional tropes and applying requisite studio shine, while fitting in with the sunburst strums and pedal-steel melters of Mapache, James Matthew VII, and Tobacco City. The record’s bootlegger stomp and backporch ramble let it sink in and simmer without falling fate to any stereotypes that might befall a band with less inclusive tastes.

While not as compact and consistent as their seamless EP, the room to experiment lets the band play with form. Songs like “Too Drunk” are build on the sing-song lilt of English folk, but dressed in Nudie Suits all the same. They make it work before tumbling back into river-ramble tales of mischief and summer sun fitted with psych’s rosey-hued spectacles. The record breezes by with a smile and a sigh, as if it already knows that the carefree days are bound to end. As I mentioned the real problem stems from an availability for those outside the streaming-system (guilty). I’d love a proper physical issue, so labels worth your weight, help ‘em get a run going. Sometimes you gotta dig the gold out, though, and The Congress of Teddy and The Rough Riders shines up real pretty. Find it where you can and enjoy!




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Mythic Sunship

After a year of letting it ferment, Mythic Sunship’s last album Another Shape of Psychedelic Music is still reorganizing the molecules in my body. The band had long been working to ferret out the thunder and squall from heavy psychedelics, but their addition of saxophonist Søren Skov pushed them into a zone that swiped at free jazz and rolled the burnt sensibilities of the genres together with a renewed vigor. The songs begged to be played live, as the feeling that the band could push these songs beyond the bounds of the studio seemed readily apparent. Now, that’s just what the band along with El Paraiso have done. Mythic Sunship locked down three nights at Roadburn’s yearly gathering of psychedelic shred in Tilburg and the most adventurous night was pressed down to LP.

The live performance doesn’t shy away from the expectations put forth by the studio LP. They work through ferocious and fuming renditions of “Way Ahead” and “Elevation,” but rather than simply expand on the collaborations they’d already done with Skov, they pushed even further. They spend the rest of the set working through new cuts that scrape the cosmos and scar them with a phalanx of sax singe and the titanic rumble of the band’s rhythm section. Too often Mythic Sunship seems to be left out of conversations Stateside that include both psych and free jazz, and this set proves that they should not only be included but at the forefront.



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Black Lips

Like many I suppose my relationship with Black Lips has been fraught. The band’s always hand a sneer that’s both admirable (their ability to not give a damn about the winds of trend) and irritating (knocking out songs that feel like they coulda baked a minute longer). There’s an irreverence to their humor that skirts juvenile jabs, but it’s a good-natured poke to the ribs. Even when trying to put on a scrappy, dangerous garage guise, the Lips don’t really wish you ill. They’ll pick you up after shoving you to the ground. Aesthetically, their last record seemed to sap the last ounce of steam out of the sandpaper-piped garage that they’d been hounding for the past decade, so good news descends as the band has been born anew beyond the veil of country-rock. The gamble works and the twang sits well in their wheelhouse.

They add a roadhouse grit to the genre, melding their snide asides with the forlorn tales of hard luck, hard living, and hard liquor. It’s not a baptism in the genre but they’re definitely having as much of a dalliance as The Stones ever had. The Lips have always had a hardscrabble heart, now they’re just letting it bleed a bit more Tennessee Whiskey. Some of the renewed sheen might have something to do with Laurel Canyon vet Nic Jodoin at the board. With the exception of their Mark Ronson steered 2011 breakout, the band has often let the layers of sound fall by the wayside, preferring impact over subtlety, but Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart doesn’t just twang the guitar, it adopts the studio slick of their influences as well.

Lonesome harmonica pulls at the heartstrings, even when the song’s about a rogue GI Joe. Pedal steel soaks up the beer from the bar, sax squawks bump the jukebox, and Cole Alexander’s never sounded so buttoned up (but ready to rumple should the opportunity arise). While its nice to keep scratching the same itch, eventually that leads to lesions, so its nice to see the Lips swivel and shine. Country-rock’s a tried and true midlife dabble for a band, but nailing it takes more than a whim as they prove here.



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UT – In Gut’s House

The gaps in the No Wave nuggets have been closing in for the last couple of years with vital reissues from the likes of Maximum Joy and Kleenex among others. Though there’s been a definite deficit when it comes to contributions from NY trio UT. The band hung their sound on considerably less groove than many of their peers, perhaps finding a split ground between Au Pairs’ stark realities and the burgeoning noise-dirge deluge from Sonic Youth. The band leaned into atonal, scraping passages, but they landed them with an edge that drew blood and their influence could be felt reverberating through the tail of the ‘80s and into the more fraut threads of pre-grunge. Oddly the band didn’t find much of an audience in the States at the time of and would achieve a slightly wider audience and acceptance in the UK. They released a few recordings on their own Out Records before signing with Blast First for their debut.

The band picked up some heavy fans, though, including John Peel who recorded the band for a session and Steve Albini who would record the follow-up to In Gut’s House, Griller. This record acts as a vital transition period for the band, moving away from their earlier live recordings that had appeared on their Out tapes and on their Blast First debut. The album is a driven, unforgiving record that doesn’t lean into melody as a crutch. It opens with the rather infectious “Evangelist,” but the track works as a red herring as they’d almost never return to the sprightly bounce of that track and instead scrape the soul with a darker, leaner, tension-torqued set of metallic bile that’s as bracing as any record that hit the stands in ’88. It nabbed attention and praise from NME that year and picked up steam in The Village Voice, but in general the hometown crowd wasn’t biting on UT’s sound. They’d record the follow-up with Albini before disbanding shortly after. It’s high time that this one grabbed the praise its due as a vital link in the noise, post-punk and No Wave chains, drawing them all together for a record that still draws blood like it did the day it was released. Now, Out is looking to revitalize the band’s catalog for a new age and these recordings sound as fresh and ferocious as ever.



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Bill Fay

Its not always a given that artists can resurrect a career and keep the same quiet dignity that marked their revered works. British songwriter Bill Fay released two albums on Deram in the early ‘70s that, while not commercial killers, eventually became sought after works that would become in demand on the secondary market. The demand would eventually also bring him back for a second leg of his career over this past decade. His newer works have matched the depth of his early recordings, but added a shading of age and experience that let them trace the scars of a life lived. It’s astonishing, then, that his third album into this renewed fertile period is one of his best yet. Pulling back to sparser surroundings, Fay lets his words and melodies shoulder the burden. There’s still some orchestration at play, but this is as much a solo folk record as ever, with his scars laid plain for all to bear.

Fay doesn’t shy away from hurt, but he doesn’t dwell. There’s much beauty in the cracks and crevices of Countless Branches. He ruminates on the wonders of nature without making sound like schtick. He finds the humility of family life and lifts it up to something more than routine. Bill’s early records, while worth their reputations were pocked with the self-involvement of youth. His debut was serious to the point of bleak and the follow-up, a true folk breakthrough that would take years to find its crowd, was doused in his preoccupation with faith. Here, those edges soften, as must everything in time, yet there’s a different kind of faith — a faith in love and humility as the harbingers of true meaning. There’s something alluring about reaching Fay’s age and still finding those bright spots against all odds that the current world throws at us. For that, the album is a wellspring of hope and a reminder that no matter how dark the dawn, there’s brightness if you look in the right spots.



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Oog Bogo – Oog Bogo 12″

Melting like action figures in the microwave, the songs that make up the first solo EP from The Meatbodies’ Kevin Boog are garage nuggets that have skunked and soured. Atop a stutter of drum machine Boog works his way through the cellophane muck of sticky synths and fried nerve-ending guitars that sound like he’s been spending a lot of time with the early end of the last decade. Bringing to mind scum sifters like Nice Face, Gary War, and Flight, the EP is mostly working its way through the primordial ooze, though he hits pretty hard on “Tower’s Ladder,” which might slot in the paint-fumes fun times of your rotation alongside a Damaged Bug tune or two. Similarly the b-side swinger “Coyote Loves the City at Night” drops the fog-machine haze for just a bit to tip-toe into psych-folk’s ripple. This one lands via friend and fellow tone-skimmer Ty Segall’s Drag City imprint God?



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OOIOO

As with her time in The Boredoms, YoshimiO’s own outlet OOIOO takes rock as a suggestion, moving instruments through clouds of noise in chaotic bursts. The sounds on nijimusi swarm from seething, stuttering percussive brambles through synth ether leaks and into angular guitars gutters choked by the angles and barbs. Entering into an OOIOO album comes with an understanding that, like surrealism or psychedelics, the world will shift and you’re likely not the one in control of when and how. Sounds penetrate from all directions. The listener must be ever vigilant or ever pliable, whichever suits your sway. YoshimiO is a master of mayhem, but she makes it seem like a sensible scramble once the gears start clanking into the second or third track.

OOIOO is like an auditory toss into the woodchipper, floating among the debris the patterns begin to emerge and the seemingly unhinged becomes a mechanism for rhythm and movement. The record enters itself high among the band’s ever-expanding catalog. Seemingly its no quiet coincidence that one of their best, Gold & Green was just given a new life by the label. The two pair well as poles of pulse in Yoshimi’s universe. Goes without saying, if you’re already plugged and pulsating on the OOIOO wavelength that this will continue to crinkle your soul. If this is the first time, quite honestly, nijimusi is a nice entry point as well, classic as ever but overwhelming just the same.

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Alien Nosejob

Constantly in motion, Jake Robertson has kicked out records with Ausmuteants and School Damage over the last couple of years and is back spinning the genre dials of Alien Nosejob. His solo banner leaves room to explore and, in the past, Alien Nosejob has found footing among disco, electronic rumble and punk. This time the tides turn more to New Wave, with those punk impulses fading into a keyboard quease that’s got love for The Units and Devo, but also knows that the Mongoloid years were weirdcore at their best. Shades of The Clean crop up to give the record more of a close-to-home feel and Robertson manages to stuff all the influences into the grooves with a nice balance.

Alien Nosejob has seemed like its chafed to fit into its last couple of iterations, so its nice to see Jake finding a real comfort zone on this record without letting us feel comfortable. The record relishes the squirm that infected much of the best early New Wave and synth-punk. That feeling of getting saddled with this skin and figuring out how to mold it into a shape that fits comes through each and every note. Night sweat sucrose courses through the veins of the record, keeping it peeled and panicked even when it seems at its most accessible. This is a rock record for the insomniac armada, the ones kept awake by the EMF energies of a throbbing technological hangover. It can’t sit still so why should you? Cheers to Alien Nosejob for keeping the Aussie Underground from getting complacent. Suddenly Everything is Twice As Loud is a gulp of glue for a year that won’t let us ease in slowly. Drink deep.



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Miquela – I A De Sers

I can always count on Finders Keepers to dig through the offbeat foreign language bins and scoop out the records that need re-examining. Prior to this review I could honestly not have told you that there exists a dialect native to Southern France, Northern Italy and parts of Spain called Occitan. I could certainly not have told you that a record label (Ventadorn) that was dedicated to solely releasing records in the dialect in the ‘70s, but this gem was sprouted from the Venn Diagram of these circumstances. The record is the sole album recorded by Miquela, though it was preceded by a single and she’d go on to work with a folk-rock combo called Lei Chapacans latter on. The record was recorded in a classroom studio, but sounds like it was given over to much more monied locales than this. The austere setup belies the fact that its threaded with strings, brass, accordions, and lush orchestration – jazz and folk touches that bump against the quietude of hidden harbors.

The record, quite properly, feels like a secret. The folk songs, indecipherable to those who aren’t versed in Occitan, seem like a scripture from a long-lost enclave. Miquela’s vocals hang in the air like cold fog, weighted with sadness and sorrow. The supporting cast is no less impressive, having picked up collaborators from her surround Occitan musicians, giving this less the air of a commissioned document (which it was) and more of a treasured gem (which it also is). The record has been long out of print, but with this reissue the movement of Occitan folk and Miquela’s contribution are reignited for a new generation.




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Sore Eros

The histories of RSTB and Sore Eros are fairly intwined. A long running fixture on the site, the band also graced the first show ever booked under the banner of RSTB at Northside festival a million years back. So, its only fitting that as the band releases their swan song it should wind up here. Robert Robinson has been holding the spark, but the band drifted to different coasts and doesn’t find themselves working live so much any more. Enter engineer/producer (and the force behind The War On Drugs) Adam Granduciel, who was able to coax the band’s distant members back into the studio for a fitting sunset on the band. The band simmers in a brand of soft-focus psych — part folk’s whisper, part hypnogogic shimmer, and here, part sun-kissed West Coast foam rolling back out to sea. The low-light linger adds a nice touch to sound and gives the whole record a relaxed nature that reverberates calm and coolness.

The record orbits around the ten-minute plus roil of “Ocean Tow,” an unusually extensive cut from a band who usually keeps things in the pop song range. The stretch works and they slide down the movement chute as the track folds and unfolds itself in billowing layers . Floating around the centerpiece, the band pings through the echoplex quasars, feeling out the foam with a bittersweet bent. Though this may be their last, the record makes a strong statement of purpose for Sore Eros. They were never at the forefront, but for those that dug into their tender psychedelic heart, it was a welcome journey.




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