Browsing Category New Albums

Flasher

While they cherry pick from several eras (‘70s power pop, 80’s New Wave, 90’s indie pop) the way that Flasher assembles the pieces of their musical landscape feels swaddled in the arms of the early ‘00s. That time period in the band’s native DC was rife with bands like The Dismemberment Plan, Q and Not U, and Black Eyes who were knocking down genre walls like a pit-dizzy Kool Aid Man. Flasher, it appears, absorbed this era’s open source structure as the core of their being, creating a guitar record that’s blown through with sugar high hooks without clutching to the tatters of any genre too tightly. The album is punk in its beating heart, but dancing on the outside, much like guitarist Taylor Mulitz’ other band Priests, without the political posturing.

The record is an elastic shock of color erupting out of the speakers, bursting with a joy that’s sometimes lacking in modern guitar bands that have studied every nuance of a particular sound, only to inflict albums that read like carefully constructed dioramas – meticulous but missing that spark of life. Flasher’s sonic quilting approach by turns feels refreshing, with the band never loitering in any sonic nook long enough to grow mold. They’ll splash a track with keys shiny and bright, take a hazy stumble through shoegaze to block the sun, disjoint the rhythms until your feet can’t help but twitch and still the record feels as cohesive and complex as any of their contemporaries.

Its nice to step back to a time when indie pop found joy in riffling the whole toy box. Flasher have made a strong statement with Constant Image and the fact that it’s a debut only sweetens the pot. While they’ve had a few singles, the band has essentially come out of the box fully formed without second guessing their melting pot pop for one second. Gotta think if they start here, where they go can only solidify their enthusiastic blend.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Ulaan Markhor

Anytime I see the Ulaan prefix and Steven R. Smith’s name flagging up in a given year I’m excited. Its guaranteed that whatever’s coming down the tubes is an instrumental crusher. So, after having capped off last year with a new Ulan Passerine album – the doom folk member of the family – Smith is circling back with a new tape from Ulaan Markhor, kicking through scuffed dessert psych with equal aptitude. Within his universe this iteration of himself winds up the most scathing, the most brutal and the most outwardly psychedelic. Picking up ques from Amon Düül and Guru Guru as well as post-punk bands like 13th Chime, the record is stark and discordant but oddly beholden to rhythm’s sway. Smith saws at the songs with John Cale scratches of violin while the dust-choked atmosphere projects menace and lonesome desperation.

The album revels in an almost hallucinatory loneliness in fact, like trying to find the way out from the folds of one’s own mind. The edges keep shifting though, and the exits flicker and disappear without pattern. All the while Ulaan Markhor underscores the frustration and deepening delusion with a hungry, voyeuristic eye. Smith has crafted a cinematic score here and the titles tell as much, but he’s pushing beyond the normal bounds of post-rock groundswell or Morricone-lite Western cloud gathering. Smith works the mechanics of build and simmer better than most and when he reaches a break in the damn on “Flowering” it rips the tension to shreds, never quite easing it, just turning up the volume to a roar and pounding imagined footsteps on the base of the listener’s neck. With Helm he’s created something heavy and lasting, an album that’s gets its claws in you, the kind where you’re sweating through the good passages and only notice once the storm has cleared.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Al Doum & The Faryds

During a magical hangover of the ‘70s jazz found funk and psychedelia then wrapped their tendrils into its own serpentine form. This period birthed the best electric of Miles, Sun Ra dabbling with soul and Don Cherry ripping at the shreds of the universe to push rhythm through a black hole and pull it out the other side. The long tail in the movement saw plenty of bands utilize what they’d heard in the freest of moments and fold it back onto their own sounds. The German Progressives from Can to Vuh to Düül all found that same wormhole that their jazz-psych contemporaries were sailing through and they traversed the light bridge it provided to the center of the Earth to pound out the sound of the beating heart at the center of the beast. Meanwhile Hawkwind and Heldon took the sound to the quasars and etched out the framework of Spacerock as it was handed down by the gods.

On the backs of this era rises Spirit Rejoin from Al Doum & The Faryds. The band’s latest is snatching cosmic jazz back from the heart of the sun – pushing past those Spacerock quasars only to slingshot back with frightening velocity for a trip to the center of the mind through psychedelic shred. The Milanese band taps into the holy altars of their neighbors to the East, divining Kosmiche moments with the same reverence and quest for the edges of perception that drove Krautrock’s core like a mad engine. Unfit to be simply labeled a modern jazz album, like Brooklyn’s Sunwatchers the Faryds are a pure psychedelic experience devouring skronk, lashing out with guitar drenched in the ozone puff of amplifier fallout and tumbling over polyrhythms like the current crop of psychedelic Swedes. The record is the distillation of an age of discovery, looking back with perfect hindsight at what each pocket of progress was accomplishing and brewing it all together into an enticing potion. This one’s not for the lighthearted.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

BOYTOY

On their sophomore LP, Brooklyn’s BOYTOY evoke the West Coast far more often than they reference the streets of their current home. Part of that left coast feeling may lie in the album’s Topanga Canyon conception and its construction at the hands of producer Kyle Mullarky (The Allah-Las, The Growlers). The record is soaked in eternal sun and imbued with a laid-back attitude that’s picking at the bones of surf and garage, with plenty of affection saved on the side for sunshine pop and doo wop swoons. The band borrows bass talents from Lena Simon of La Luz and, like her mainstay, the band has a habit of straddling those genre lines with an effortless cool.

Much of that effortlessness must be credited to vocalist / guitarist Saara Untracht-Oakner, however, who wraps her delivery in a permanently cocked smile that lets on just how much fun she’s having with these songs. The best garage pop can’t be taken too seriously (a lesson the aforementioned Growlers seemed to have unlearned on their last LP) and for the genre to stay afloat it’s necessary to impart some manner of carefree cool or irreverent recklessness. While BOYTOY aren’t going to blow down the doors of your surfshack or ruffle the sensibilities of your elders, they’re certainly helping the sun shine brighter and the beers go down easier. Night Leaf is tried and true to the formula of latter day garage – dipping its toes in girl group charms and lacing them with a touch of bite. Be that as it may, if you’re looking to soundtrack a day or two spent ditching summer school, then the band has your back.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Lay Llamas

Heading into Nicola Giunta’s second outing for Rocket there’s a sense that the Italian artist has reached further and deeper than he has previously under the Lay Llamas moniker. Where his previous outing saw fit to ruminate in the Krautrock kiddie pool, Thuban embraces an immersive psychedelic experience, roping in African polyrhythms, snaking Thai funk, German Progressive sweat and late ‘90s UK psych-pop. The tapestry he weaves out of those pieces makes it clear that Giunta’s record shelf runs deep, and while emulating (and to some extent, yes, appropriating) these sounds can often place an artist on a precarious perch, Giunta layers his influences like samples, finding the common threads in his preferred sounds and tightening the seams until they fit snug.

Given his curatorial bent and label affiliation it should come as little surprise that there is a crossover kinship between Giunta and Goat. The bands met while playing shows together and hit it off well enough for Giunta to snag a vocal contribution from band members on “Altair,” a tack that can’t help but sound like Goat as a result. Though the album is largely Giunta’s own, having parted ways with Lay Llamas previous steady vocalist Gioele Valenti, there’s a collaborative air to the record that accentuates its patchwork quality. Aside from the aforementioned Goat drop in, Mark Stewart of The Pop Group and members of Clinic also find their way to the grooves of Thuban and Giunta makes the most of the input of his influences.

Unlike his Swedish counterparts who might take it a step too far in the cosplay department, trying on their inspirations in full regalia, Lay Llamas have created an album that’s obsessed with the cornucopia of sounds blooming from the subcontinent but crafting that interest into a collage rather than an homage. The record winds up dark and danceable, brooding, apocalyptic and shambolic. With Thuban the band has succeeded in marrying the deep crates of Andy Votel’s Finder’s Keepers label with the sound-sculpture progressive pop of The Beta Band. More than just a sum of its parts though, the record works these into a flow that’s cinematic in its approach, never sticking too hard on one particular facet of the sounds he’s clipping and arcing from pop sunrise to a danger-imbued sunset by the album’s close. Thuban elevates Lay Llamas beyond the ones to watch pile and into endless repeat bin for all time.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

New Parents

Out of the verdant and bountiful Pioneer Valley scene, recently a bastion of psych, comes the debut from New Parents. The band, largely the undertaking of Adam Langelloti (formerly of Sore Eros) takes its approach to psych lightly. Rather he keeps a light touch on the gas, not that he doesn’t take his work seriously, I’m sure his songs are his children, etc, etc, but the record proves that restraint fares just as well as dayglo effects and scorched guitars. Langelloti’s psych is ensconced in a peach haze of guitars, ghosts of brass and mournful strings trickle in through the background, and he’s warping everything just slightly at the edges in a way that brings to mind Gary War if he embraced pop in a much more ardent fashion. It seems that’s not such a stretch for comparison, as War himself is a collaborator and shows up on the standout track, “Well,” giving it a soft tweak of backwards vocals.

On tape New Parents are a vastly different beast than live. The stage sees them pull these songs out into a much looser territory, but while that’s fine in the room, its often hard to replicate on the record. To that effect Langelloti’s sun-baked pop does just fine in its compact form. There’s a hazy afternoon light haloing the entire record and over the course of eleven tracks he’s creating a summer sundown effect that’s initially carefree but lets its heart weigh heavy as the album weighs on. It’s a solid debut pulling from the worlds of folk and psych in equal measures with nods to Vetiver and Espers’ takes on the the same straddle. There’s also a shadow of Sore Eros in Langelloti’s work, but since that was largely Robert Robinson at the helm, its mostly a textural holdover.

As the days wax longer Transient Response feels like it might become a constant companion, a balm on the heat that’s as welcome as a cool rag on the back of the neck. In his debut Langelloti’s nailed the hammock swung feeling of idleness without guilt. The least we can do is indulge.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Samara Lubelski

Samara Lubelski inhabits a world of subtle psychedelia. Her songs don’t hit you over the head with guitar pyrotechnics, effects or gimmick. Where other vocalists would belt, Lubelski prefers the intimacy of a whisper. Her songs hum along on a slipped frequency, and like a secret stretched between the notes her soft touch pushes the listener out of sync with time and space for just a while before it snaps back with an elastic ‘thwap’ as the album clicks to a close. She stitches the rhythmic burble of Krautrock to a knotted pop and sends it twisting through the mind with an effervescent fizz. Her hushed composure, paired with the delicate machinations of Flickers At The Station give the feeling of being shrunk and zipping through a molecular backdrop in perfect precision to Lubelski’s click-stop kaleidoscopic pop beat.

Though Lubelski has a folk and experimental background, her solo work increasingly picks up cues from Stereolab, melding the band’s progressive rubric to the airy folk-pop delivery of The Free Design or Wendy & Bonnie. Chalk this up to Lubelski’s continued collaboration with German pop tinkerers Metabolisumus, who serve as backing band for the recordings here. With their aid she helps to push her songwriting through the cigarette burn flicker of the film strip pop she’s been working towards, winding up in a feeling caught between sleeping and dream, nodding out while the 60’s science lesson filters in through the classroom speakers above. Flickers winds up yet another solid notch in Lubelski’s catalog- warm, nostalgic, and expertly built.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Howlin Rain

Howlin Rain has always made their bed with the prospect of bending staples of ‘70s rock radio to the whims of something wilder – a dial that’s more psychedelic and free. While they dash through territories left vacant by Steppenwolf, Crazy Horse, Humble Pie, and The Band, in a post-radio world where influences seep in through deep dives and algorithmic suggestion they’re picking at bits of the fringe like Fat, Mighty Baby or Josephus as well. They dress shades of unrestrained early ‘70s Dead in heavier boots, whiskeying up their acid runs with the grit of Southern Rock. Ahead of quite a few other contenders this year, Howlin’ Rain is leading the edge of Cosmic Americana – pure and easy as a Sunday bar-b-que on the surface, but with a glint of madness in their eyes. The band is equal parts block party and bike club bonfire and that’s what makes The Alligator Bride burn so bright.

Perhaps spurred on by another fire eater project from Miller in the form of Feral Ohms, the core of Howlin’ Rain hasn’t felt this ragged in years. The past two albums in particular sanded the rough edges that marked early Rain, focusing on the tender blues beneath the tumult, but with The Alligator Bride we see Miller and co. back to the business of distilling lightning into choogle. The record is propelled by the bass in a way that rock hasn’t tapped into since Grand Funk and The James Gang shuttered their stores. Buoyed by the groove, the record snakes through southern charms and country’s arms to find purchase on the banks of the Mississippi. It’s mud covered with a howling heart.

If Howlin Rain was conceived as the comedown, slow-simmer backing to Comets On Fire’s coin, then they’re working their way back towards the fire with this album. That melodic heart is kicking strong as ever and there’s rhythm in their blues – swingin’ in the ways that lead the Stones down to Alabama to find their own country soul. It’s what Howlin Rain does with that soul that takes their aesthetic from throwback to evolution though. There’s no shelter to give them because they’ve burnt down the barn and are eying the house. With The Alligator Bride the band have let the danger back into their sound and that flash of the knife is just what’s needed to draw blood.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Michael Rault

Landing on Daptone’s rock imprint, Wick, begs more than a few comparisons to power pop’s favorite sons, Big Star. For his sake, let’s hope finding love in the arms of soul proprietors ends better for Rault than it did for the long-term prospects of his predecessors. However, in the short term its working out just fine. Produced by Wayne Gordon, chief engineer at Daptone, the album is lush and luxuriant – curling its toes into carpets of strings, pillowing in pink clouds of reverb and generally hunkering down into a Vaseline-lensed soft-focus that’s far removed from the pop of 2018.

If the record is displaced in time, that seems largely by design, though. Rault is pulling decidedly from the “pop” half of his genre’s namesake, favoring the radio-friendly forms of Badfinger, The Raspberries, Emitt Rhodes and Chris Bell’s solo work. Rault has slipped on the ‘70s like a butterfly collar and it looks good on him. Of course, he’s spent time in the decade before, fiddling with T. Rex boogie and glam crunch on his previous album for Burger. However, while that territory has been raided plentifully over the last few years with an easy entry through garage rock’s back door, the AOR sincerity of the time period is harder to emulate without sounding cheesy, a feat that Rault pulls off with seeming ease. He’s cherry picking through solo McCartney, Harrison and the aforementioned Apple acolytes while skirting the pitfalls of Frampton and Speedwagon for an album that’s all pleasure, no guilt.

Lyrically the album is preoccupied with sleeping and dreaming, subject matter that lends itself well to Rault’s sparkling pop diorama. Songs like “Sitting Still” and “Dream Song” (naturally) feel like they’re pumped in on ripples of dry ice and pastel light. The listening field is tipped back and staring at clouds pass by while Rault’s pop vision is projected above. At a scant 35 minutes, the dream is over almost too soon. Best to leave them wanting more I suppose and It’s A New Day Tonight certainly begs for a sequel and soon. Rault’s found his niche in this corner of the ‘70s. I’d say he should get comfortable their but he seems right at home.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE

0 Comments

Ryley Walker

The curse of making an album that’s hailed as great is that it haunts your career, rearing its head wherever you go, always an accolade and an albatross at the same time. In the wake of Primrose Green Ryley Walker was lofted up as the heir to knotted folk’s throne, though it always seemed that he had no interest in resting there for any length of time. That album’s follow-up, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, was a looser bar-rock exploration that was summarily panned for not sounding enough like its predecessor, for not settling onto the throne. It was an unfair assessment met with some frustration by the artist, and rightfully so. With Deafman Glance Walker firmly asserts that genre is an exercise and not a defining characteristic of an artist. He shirks once and for all the shadow of Primrose and leaves us with his darkest, most complex and delicately shaded album yet.

There’s hardly a trace of folk proper on Deafman, though it perhaps shows up most prominently in Telluride Speed with its woven plucks and autumnal flute. As with the majority of Walker’s works on the album, though, the simple bliss is shot through with bent jazz markers and frustrated electric runs. As the album progresses, Walker pushes a notion of texture over melody and the album begins to color in like an abstract painting with dark, furious patches in one corner and gorgeous, light swipes on the opposite edge. Don’t let that imply that the record has an improvisational nature, far from it. Like the best abstracts the seemingly jarred elements are planned and structured to look haphazard, but without the forethought the juxtapositions would never land.

Walker recorded the album in Chicago and has referenced the city’s sounds as an influence, one that can indeed be felt in the margins of Deafman Glance – the soul of a poet squeezed through the equations of Tortoise or Gastr del Sol. Lyrically, Walker’s still sitting in the corner of the bar, though this time there’s more whiskey and solitude than good laughs and cheap beer. The album is certainly ruminating in its heart, absorbed in itself for better or worse. With Deafman Glance, however, Walker has knocked out an album that’s as visceral and tactile as his early works are ephemeral and airy. This is a true step forward, and while there are certainly no hooks that are going to keep nudging you back, the innate desire to stare at Walker’s void and discern the depths is rather addictive.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments