Browsing Category New Albums

The Cairo Gang

Emmet Kelly puts on a half-cocked smile for his latest, Untouchable. The album’s a sunnier side of The Cairo Gang, but not without a heart melted by melancholy. While the melancholy isn’t unusual in his work, the shiny veneer certainly is. The closest he’s come to some of the breezy moments heard here was back in the days of Tiny Rebel‘s ’60s pop inflections. Though on that one he found the dark heart of the 12-string jangle, balancing any sweet moments with the deep darkness inherit in a cover of Boys Next Door’s “Shivers.” On the contrary here, he’s embracing a ’90s borne indie sound that pays it’s debt to James, Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub and The Lemonheads. In fact the Matthew Sweet sip runs twofold, because while Kelly certainly finds himself indebted to Sweet’s songwriting, he’s taking a bite out of the great Robert Quine’s guitar flash. The latter is almost certainly one of the key ingredients in Sweet’s most enduring catalog.

What’s also glaringly apparent about Untouchable is that it’s embraced album oriented rock full tilt, and partially that’s why I’ve been hard pressed to combat this record on a singles basis. Untouchable is not just a collection of tracks, it’s a balance of emotions with the kind of ebb and flow that’s meant to be digested as a whole, not in mere bites. If 2017 has proven anything, it’s that while the majority of listeners have embraced compartmental music and the infinite playlist, a large portion of smaller label releases have striven to create albums that can’t be broken down.

Kelly is an indispensable part of the indie rock pantheon, adding his guitar to more albums than you probably know in your collection (Ty Segall, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Joan of Arc, Magic Trick, The Double) but he shines as a frontman. The Cairo Gang have long been that band bubbling in the background, crafting solidly built albums that trade in ennui like spiritual currency. It’s hardly surprising to get another winner from Kelly, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less deserving of praise. Though the covers change, the fractured heart that beats beneath Kelly’s songs remains ever the same.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Feral Ohms

Not one second of Feral Ohms’ debut lets up. The trio doesn’t give the listener a minute to catch a breath, and thank the Norse gods of thunderous destruction for that. It’s an acid bath for the soul of the universe, stripping away layer after layer of tar long since calcified and crusted into the shape of society. It appears that Ethan Miller has returned to the his position as frenetic lightning rod for amp fired chaos and it’s damn good to have him back slinging scorch. The world needs this eponymous long player more than we could ever know. As mentioned here previously, Miller found solace away from the white ball of fury that burned bright in Comets On Fire, but began a creep back with Heron Oblivion last year. Feral Ohms asserts his permanence in the pantheon of psych.

The band’s been building a clutch of singles since around 2013, but it wasn’t until Castle Face prefaced the album with a live shot that they sprang into wider consciousness. All of the live cuts find their way onto the album as well as the majority of their singles, albeit re-recorded with a technical lineup that speaks to a top tier of heavy psych sound work (Eric Bauer, Phil Manley, Chris Woodhouse and JJ Golden). It’s very possible that repeated spins of the album could melt speakers into a twitching puddle of gelatinous matter. That’s not even hyperbole, I’m worried about your system. Baton shit down and buckle up. 2017 has proven that despite long lingering reports to the contrary, the guitar still has a place of vitality in music. Few other albums assert this as definitively as Feral Ohms.





Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Milk Music

Rolling into their third album, Olympia’s Milk Music continues mining the wealth of ’90s indie ethos and smelting it into gritty gold. Mystic 100s isn’t a seismic shift from their palette, but they’re not the kind of band that need worry about evolution, as they more in the game of curating fuzz encrusted skronk and letting their amps pay their tab. Maybe the biggest shift here is that on Cruise Your Illusion they sounded as if they were a band that always just existed, comfortably rolling out the kind of fare other bands needed to sharpen their teeth to even be capable of pulling off. On Mystic they’re out to prove that they still have twice the chops of every upstart with a deep bench of Dino Jr. on the record shelf, but they’re pushing themselves past comfortable and into smoke rolled royalty.

I’ll be honest, when it came out Cruise Your Illusion didn’t shake my foundations. I liked it, it was solid, and you’d have been a damn liar to contend that the Washington band wasn’t capable. It’s the loss of that comfortability that’s striking here. They’re not just content to have people laud them with plaudits of being torchbearers of guitar rock in 2017; they’re looking to burn things down, break some skin on their fingers and bleed into the mix a bit. You can feel the band sweating out the songs on Mystic 100s and that sweat stains their music with a greater gravity than aloof capability ever could. Though the band are wading deeper into their catalog at this point, this seems like the exact moment where they truly begin.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Jawbones

Berlin’s Jawbones carry on a tradition of high stacked space rock that skates through the pounding corridors of Krautrock and fuels itself on psychedelic fumes. Though they admittedly take inspiration from their ’60s forbears, they are much more aligned with the school of psychedelics that came up in the late ’90s and early ’00s. High and Low and Low and High brings to mind shades of The Warlocks, Spiritualized, Darker My Love, Brian Jonestown Massacre or The Black Angels. Drenched in a thick shade of smoke and anchored by feedback, the album thrives on textures as much as it does on hooks, vacillating between thunderous hammer headed Goliaths and vapor-cooled slow burners.

The Brian Jonestown connection goes deeper than sound here though. The record is being released as as joint venture between 8mm and Anton Newcome’s own A Records and driving force Leonard Kaage has played with BJM in the past. Kaage doesn’t quite have Newcome’s voracious capacity for hooks, but it’s clear that the two have been operating somewhere along the same wavelength, tapping into high levels of stratospheric froth. Overall a pretty solid entry into the canon of spaced travelers, though I’d have perhaps rethought the oddly out of place “Music For A Car Chase.” The rest will feel pretty familiar to those who’ve enjoyed the aughts’ psych waves, looking to add a little elevation to their day.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

John Andrews & The Yawns

The parameters of Woodsist seem to be about escaping the city, heading to the country and letting the sun-soaked vibes permeate the music. Woods bolted for upstate New York, Herbcraft hold it down in Maine, MV & EE have always held court in Vermont. Their roster is a veritable embodiment of shacking the shackles of civil life and embracing rural enclaves. I get this, it’s a freeing principle and altogether not a bad tie to bind a a roster together. John Andrews has emanated nothing if not pastoral energy in his work with Quilt and in his sideman gigging with Widowspeak and Kevin Morby. He began his solo journey two years back on Bit By The Fang but he crystallizes the laid back strums and porch rockin’ vibes on Bad Posture.

Relocating up to New Hampshire, Andrews distills warm breeze vocals and ripple rock guitars into the kind of songs that seem to hang in the air like slight humidity; affecting and strangely comfortable. He lets tape hiss seep into the mix, humming like a fourth harmonic in the mix and adding to the general Laissez-faire policy of songwriting. Bad Posture is streaked in sunset hues and an atmosphere of country ease, which from all indications is just what Andrews is shooting for. He succeeds handily in summing up the warm wistfulness of just beginning to settle into a new life before the itch of isolation starts to set in. There’s literally a song titled “Relax” in the mix, so you know that things are serious here. Lay back and vacate worries, at least for the next half hour or so, the rest can wait until tomorrow.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Damaged Bug

Though he’s spent the better part of his career fostering the yelp-rattled garage of Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer is a man of many professional tributaries. Damaged Bug arose as a more psychedelic outlet for the songwriter back in 2014 and he’s steadily used to exorcise his late night, creeping dread impulses. Bunker Funk hews close to it’s predecessor, 2015’s Cold Hot Plumbs, roiling in insistent rhythms and a whispered ominousness that hangs over the album in icy stalactites. Where it differs is in taking a literal pull out of the “Funk” half of it’s title. Dwyer augments his teeth-grit lullabies with a splash of flutes and throb bass that does feel indebted to some portion of ’70s library funk. The combination is at once future leaning and in debt to the past.

But as this is Damaged Bug, the funk isn’t the kind that’s going to soundtrack your classic Impala romp, rather Dwyer drops the listener into a psych-funk wonderland of oblique funhouse mirrors and polished brass. It’s funk as twisted through the minds of Finder’s Keepers libraries and whatever wavelength Chrome have been picking out of the cosmos for the last forty odd years. Dwyer is exacting in his need to unsettle. The record is splashed in acid blots and radiant colors, but underneath he’s bending a Cheshire smile that bears an ill will, or a mischievous one at the very least. Dwyer’s universe is an echoplexed underground and Bunker Funk drags us deeper than he’s led before. He’s leading this search party into the unknown and it’s unclear which of us is coming back.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Century Palm

Canadian upstarts Century Palm have risen from the ranks of several long ranging RSTB faves (Ketamines, Dirty Beaches, Tough Age) to form a formidable force in the realm of nervy punk. The band mines some gems of the bygone era of New Wave dominance. There are definite touches of Gary Numan, The Fall and The Cure and they pin them to bits of Neu-laden Krautrock for a shimmering, writhing record that cherry picks the past with expert glee. The band are at their best when they let the nerviness seep in to knee level, jerking start-stop vocals like Devo acolytes or breaking down into their best Mark E. Smith caustic accusations. They pad those outburst with buzzing syths and the aforementioned hunger for German rhythm that juxtaposes time periods nicely, elevating their record nerd status at least a level or two.

Lyrics reach out in pleading, sweating layers of despair; grappling with life’s hypocrisies and injustices. The negativity envelops completely on some songs, like the frantic centerpiece “Sick Of It” or the bristling “Trapped Here.” True, there have been stabs at both of the domineering forces that permeate Meet You but Century Palm mixes a buzzing prog hangover with burgeoning punk so well it sounds like a record chucked out of time and found on the private press pile. They feel somehow fresh in their hunger for the past. Everyone’s favorite Aussie sheen man Mikey Young gives the record a once over in the mastering dept and that’s never a bad thing. These guys have paid far too many dues, but with Meet You it feels like something’s clicking all around. An absolutely engrossing listen that just keeps giving with repeated trips to the turntable.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Màquina Total

Barcelona has begun creeping up in its own right as a center for new talent lately. While I’ve dug in on the garage side mostly, there are certainly endless eddies of pop that run through the town, making noise that’s worthy of radar space. Barcelona-bred musician Virgili Jubero has been working under the Màquina Total name since 2011, but it wasn’t until he came into contact with local label Domestica Records that he wandered into my view. Working in a vein of synth pop that flirts with coldwave and winks at darkwave, Jubero has a feel for synths that are buried just under the horizon line of pop. That’s not to say that there isn’t something captivating or even catchy about the work on Estàtua, but he’s found a way into emotional ’80s soundtrack territory that consumes smudged eyeliner and rain like it was vital sustenance.

This album, which arrives as Màquina Total’s debut long player proper, collects some older tracks and new recordings to bring forth the freshest version of the band to date. The label is not entirely off base when name checking Human League or Spandau Ballet, but shave off a layer of sheen, spin the low end wide open and let the whole thing underscore a lost John Hughes cut of teenage longing and you’re starting to get close to the nerve here. I think perhaps it’s Jubero’s reserve that stands out the most on the album. Where he could easily have spent time fleshing out these tracks into stacked slices of synthpop that wander into the waters of a poor man’s offering of long gone ’80s hits, instead he lets the ghosts of the FM dial haunt his tracks like a taste on the tongue that’s hard to place. What’s left is breath on the air and a warm buzz that hits between the eardrums and the hairs on the back of your neck.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Sundays & Cybele

Tokyo’s Sundays & Cybele (named for the ’62 French film) have been steadily building a reputation as psych powerhouses over their last two albums. They unlatch their third and maybe fourth eyes on Chaos & Systems, building to a peak that sees them seated high on the psychedelic mountain alongside fellow travelers Kikagaku Moyo. The album burns with the feral cry of guitar, howling and pleading with the listener to feed on the aural offerings, but they know that it can’t be all heat and no sizzle. Where tracks like “Butterfly’s Dream” tap the lava core and run it through the amps, they’re dipping through cool eddies of soft psych just one track later. Their true prowess comes in building to those chaotic breakdowns and balancing them with work that’s delicate to the point of trembling.

That balance seems to be where they divine the title, an encapsulation of push and pull on a cosmic level. The most striking thing is that the band crafts pristine monuments to psychedelia without the crusted hammer of fuzz devastation. The album revels in creation and destruction in kind, but the destruction is just as beautiful as the build. They curl in the warmth of the evening light, warm and serene and safe. Then, when the storms do blow in they’re not ragged and windy, but rather full of extravagant lightning that tears at the sky with as much beauty as those sunset hues. The last twelve months have been a banner for psychedelia, but the momentum hasn’t waned at all. We need a little chaos these days, in the face of the breakdown of tried and true systems. Sunday’s & Cybele have just the tonic to soothe.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Applehead

Andy Votel’s latest under the Applehead banner, after a five year vacation, is just as deliriously jumbled as he’s ever been. The man with a thousand monikers to flip through seems to compartmentalize his obsessions in association with each one. Applehead seems to be a kind of addled mash of late night nods; flipping through library funk, ambient noise, and synth like an Ambien-induced 3 AM run on the cable box. His Finders Keepers catalog certainly plays a part here, snipping in foreign pop samples and spoken word drops from the far corners of the tape crate.

The record delights in a fractured mental state that’s blurring the lines between reality and fiction, crafting aural hallucinations that flicker through the horror-creep soul of Applehead’s world. Votel is a man of deep influences and deft skill, slicing them into creeping shadows and psychedelic vignettes. The end product drops down like This Heat and Throbbing Gristle blended smooth with his own enduring love for 60’s French and Italian horror tropes. While digging up some essential soundtracks, it seems that Votel may have caught a bug for it himself, this would work nicely as the underpinning to a horror-psych revival should anyone go in for some newfound schlock psycosis. A damn fun one, from one of the masters in his field.


Support the artist and hear samples HERE.

0 Comments