Browsing Category New Albums

Mt. Mountain

Perth’s Mt. Mountain stretch out heavier and headier than ever before with a record that evokes the endless stretches of outback, scorched earth futures and shamanistic auras. The record opens with a crusher, the 17+ minute “Dust” that builds from a parched stumble into a storm of guitar fury, ominous flutes and feedback swirl. The track anchors the record. It’s a tempest that guides the album, harnessing their soft touch of desolation and the kill switch quick change of noise and power that they have at the ready.

The rest of the album doesn’t necessarily crouch in the shadows, though. They continue to mine the desolate squalls of Barn Owl and Earth, dip into a quavering well of shimmer psych that owes no small favers to Japan’s psychedelic past and then marry it all to a comedown cascade that recalls mid-00s psych with a softer touch along the lines of The Occasion. The band’s been building steam steadily, but one gets the sense that this is where they’ve been headed. Dust is Mt. Mountain cracking through the veil of rote psychedelia and into the branch that’s reserved for those vibrating at a higher frequency. This is where the journey begins and, if you’re unfamiliar, where you should as well.




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Warm Soda

Rather impressively, Matthew Melton has not one, but two records slated for the next couple of months. First up, he sends his tenure i Warm Soda off in style, delivering a fourth platter of faded yet sugar shaken power pop that proves he’s a man who’s done his homework time and again. Melton set out to run Warm Soda as an ode to those soft crushes in power pop – The Quick, Milk n’ Cookies, Shoes, Hubble Bubble – and as always he delivers that pining pop swoon with the kind of devotion to form that’s usually lost under lesser ambitions. Melton has assembled four albums that spin themselves out like a one man Yellow Pills and it’ll be sad to see him set it aside.

That said, four albums in the arms of lavender punk seems about right. It can be a hard genre to work through without repeating oneself, which probably explains why most of the original class of Power Pop High only churned out one or two before toughening up or calling it quits. Melton himself has already found himself in garage punk’s embrace (Snake Flower 2) and the leathered lock of glam-ignited punk (Bare Wires) so the road to toughing up feels closed. In a move no one expected he’s actually taking a tack into prog territory with his new Dream Machine project out next month. Before that though, it’s one more romp through the jukebox speakers, serving up a xeroxed dream of the the past that’s always been as strangely sweet as it is inescapably infectious.




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Woods

Like many, Woods turned to art and music to process their feelings following the fallout of 2016. Love is Love was recorded in the two months following last year’s election. It feels, and for all intents and purposes, acts as a companion piece to their 2016 album City Sun Eater In The River of Light. Love is Love employs some of the same notes of brass and fuller orchestration, the band itself swollen to six members for the recording. The contrast comes in the tone of the recordings. Oddly, the album that preceded the regime change was darker and a bit more foreboding, whereas this record seems to turn to hope rather than the anger that could, and has often been the reaction.

The majority of the songs on the album speak to an optimism that doesn’t feel naive or tone deaf, rather it’s a message of hope through the dark. They’re clearly acknowledging that a lot of people feel fear and anger and confusion and ultimately lost, but that out of those feelings springs community. The core of Love is Love is a feeling that we can all lean on one another and try to exit the other side of the next four years as better listeners, better friends, better lovers, better parents, better children.

Obviously that message only speaks to how you conduct yourself. There’s a lot that’s out of our hands and that anxiety hangs over the instrumental track “Spring Is In The Air,” an almost ten-minute bout of paranoia and psychedelic anxiety. Woods prove that even their own philosophy of love as the weapon can’t curtail all the external forces. It’s unclear how the concept of America will change – to us, to others, to those that see themselves as winning back or losing their own internal convictions of what country and community mean. As the weeks and months following our own blunder have proven, it’s unclear whether others will follow the same roads or choose the steady hand over reactionary change. For all those questions, Woods don’t have answers, but they have hope and that’s not a terrible start. Someone said that poor administrations mean the art gets better. I don’t for a second take that as consolation, and besides, the art was always good, it’s just a bit more resonant now and maybe we’re paying a bit more attention.




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Kikagaku Moyo

It’s hard to suppress a smile with the news Kikagaku Moyo is back for another round on the speakers so soon after their lush masterpiece House In The Tall Grass landed last year. The previous album has hardly left the turntable around here and while the stopgap EP, Stone Garden, is a leap away from the pastoral tranquility that rounded out House, it serves as a call back to their more improvisational beginnings. The EP was carved out of freeform sessions in Prague, finding their way home to refined versions back in Tokyo. The first shot out of the gate rattles the listener out of the comfortable cocoon Kikagaku Moyo left us in. It’s a fuzz riddled stalk through the night with an air of danger dialed in.

Tonally they don’t embrace the menace, though, as they return to buzzing drones and winding sitars by the time the second track “Nobakitani rolls around. Each of the five tracks shows off a side of the band’s psychedelic fortitude – from instrumental fry to languid pools of acoustic shimmer and driving psych buckshot. Naturally, this is not as complete a statement as House In The Tall Grass, but it’s brevity is no discount to the band’s ability to wield tumultuous rhythm and crystalline serenity in equal measure. This isn’t the band’s next great leap, but it’s a pretty nice piece of their overall puzzle.




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Xetas

Austin’s Xetas have been carving out a gnashed and gnarled existence on 12xU for a couple of releases yet, but The Tower arrives as their most bracing and simultaneously fun album yet. The band toes the line between its hardcore entrenchment and a crack of pop punk simmering just below their veil of noise. The tug and pull between those two forces makes the bulk of The Tower a sweaty good time any any given night. The band’s packed the LP full of songs that push at the seams of their 3-4 min boundaries swollen with a fight that’s admirable in it’s tenacity.

When they spike the aggression into the redline, they’re sincere in their desire to burn down the forces that bind them. They lash out in sandpaper howls and high burn cardio workouts of guitar thrash. But as anyone who grew up with that particular strain of punk propulsion might attest, an entire album stuck on that setting can be as exhausting as it can be cathartic. So it’s with a cocked smile that I have to appreciate Xetas want to slow things down to the anthemic bounce of a Thermals cut to bash out some fun thrash poppers on “The Burden,” “The Jaws” or closer “The Machine.” The Tower serves as a palette cleanser for the mind, shaving off a layer of filth from the week and leaving the listener ready for another ten rounds with the world in the next working week.




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Workhorse

The debut tape from this Adelaide band is much more than their humble moniker would attest to. While the songs are certainly not full of flash, Harriet Fraser-Barbour’s songwriting isn’t workmanlike or rote indie by any means. The songwriter, who also plays as part of RSTB favorites Wireheads as well as Fair Maiden, crafts smoky-eyed alt-country that’s warm and inviting. The tracks are by all means laid back, but exuding an air that’s cool and collected rather than adopting the oft imitated slacker charms of many of her countrymen. Fraser-Barbour is the cool older sister projecting an unrattled air, even if there’s a dark strain of torment running through her.

The songs on No Sun simmer with a lost summer quality, the kind of feelings that burn bright and fade into Kodachrome memories that seem timeless and yet trapped in amber. The album feels like it’s been around the bins for ages, despite having just reached the world, but that’s just a testament to the players enlisted and Fraser-Barbour’s skill behind it all. It arrives fully formed and to that effect, leaves Fraser-Barbour as one to watch moving forward for sure. If this is just the beginning, I can only expect she’ll find purchase on greater heights moving forward. Fraser-Barbour may be taking her first turn as bandleader here, but quite honestly, she’s nailing it out of the gate.




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Los Tones

Syndney four-piece Los Tones lay down a twang-slung vision of garage rock as filtered through the ghosts of The Blues Magoos, The Electric Prunes and The Monks, but hewing closest to the cracked world view of The Seeds. On a more contemporary note they share common ground with Night Beats and fellow Aussies The Murlochs but that’s all just to get you in the right longitude of where the band is coming from. They’re running the fuzz high and hectic, and binging on surf vibes sanded into a rough-cut leather lacquer. Every track on What Happened feels like it would benefit handily from a psychedelic oil light show and at least a pint of Wild Turkey and best of all, the band feels like they’re having a hell of a good time.

It goes without saying these days that garage swagger has seen generation after generation embrace the twin tone irreverence of a sneer and a throaty howl, but that’s not to say that it can’t still hit just as hard. You’ve been down these roads before but that’s discounting how much fun is to be had with Los Tones on the speakers and tomorrow’s consequences far out of mind. I will always have a soft spot for the kind of garage record that keeps a glint of mischief in it’s eye. So, that said, feel free to crawl into last night ‘s clothes and grab Zombie (in requisite Tiki cup) and get things up to full torque for this album. Los Tones seem like they’re more interested in keeping the vibes toasted than worrying if you feel like it’s all been done before. It’s being done right and that’s all that matters.




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Feature

One of the best bands to bubble up from the UK underground in the past few years was the high energy DIY outfit Sauna Youth. As luck would have it the band’s Jen Calleja also sports another outfit in the form of Feature. The trio embraces DIY via a feminist punk vantage and they explore the vein of sexism that permeates female musicianship on the whip-smart Banishing Ritual. Baring a few more teeth than Sauna Youth – the record is rooted in pop but not afraid to get down into the din – flaunting noise as a formidable weapon in their arsenal. Popcorn drumbeats start the tempos skittering into motion, but the guitars don’t rush, finding themselves heavily indebted to Cold Wave and Post-punk’s motorik meets elastic tension.

The record has it’s hooks (plenty actually), but it’s more about setting a mood than lingering earworms here. The band drops in bracing and brash to catch your attention and then lays into the listener with a dose of consciousness and a distortion scrub to to strip away the clutter gunking up your life. There’s been a real return to form of ’90s grunge ethos in the past couple of years, heavy blasts of guitar masking nuggets of pop bubbling under the surface. Like their predecessors in Helium, The Muffs, The Wedding Present (during their Albini dalliance) or Elastica they know how to balance pressure, power and pop into a package that’s worth returning to again and again. Another winner this year from UK label Upset The Rhythm!




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Dead Sea Apes

Manchester’s Dead Sea apes ignite their latest album with the spirit of dub crossed post-punk, a move that finds them winding down darkened alleys fraught with trembling tension. For the most part they’ve left the droned desert of last year’s Soy Dios behind them, doubling down on their experimental vision of instrumental psych with supple ease. The record takes on a cinematic quality, though thankfully eschewing the current trend of Goblin-esque horror tropes for a more Morricone-meets-Metal-Box vision of stark paranoia. The record can scarcely be parsed into individual tracks, one flowing seamlessly into another and played out in a storyboarded splay, pulsing with anxiety flung into dub plate dizziness.

The band’s always had a high level of musicianship, but in the past they’ve focused their efforts into guitar based visions of psychedelia. Here they put bass front and center crushing the listener with the insistent creep of leaded boots and the feeling of your heart pounding in your ears. When it does rear it’s head though, the guitar bites down with jagged glass teeth as it weaves through the mix metallic and snaking, looking for prey with every movement. It seems that each band is absorbing our current political climate with it’s own bent and Dead Sea Apes have chosen to embody and amplify the dystopian concrete sprawl for all it’s worth.




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CFM

Forever intertwined with the careers of Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin via his rotating stages of collaboration with both, Charles Moothart strikes out with his second solo album, a delightful chunk of fuzz and rumble that echoes the best bits of both those artists. A stride away from the heavy stoner antics of his most well-known turn in Fuzz, Dichotomy Desaturated tumbles through the fields of Sabbath, then touches up the riffs with a faded photo memory of glam left in the sun. Moothart has certainly been picking his way through Ty’s T. Rex collection, and he adds a touch of that acoustic nuance over the top of these garage-psych gems, but it’s clear that his tenure in Fuzz is no incidental brush with the gods of ’70s proto-metal. He’s picking through the full gamut of sludge lords here, from Flower Travelin’ Band to Blue Cheer and on through Leaf Hound.

He’s at his best, though, on the mid-tempo slow jams, reveling in a slower pace and perhaps a catch of breath from the frantic energy he’s so often embroiled in. On “Voyeurs” he takes the tempo down to a simmer, but finds plenty to chew on in the song’s leathered swagger and smoke curl cool. Elsewhere “Desaturated” floats through an intoxicated haze, stumbling charmingly with a cocked smile and an air of late night isolation. In the end though, Moothart’s ability to stuff a fuzzed riff full of catchy catharsis seems to win out. He shows off his amp-fried freakouts over the majority of Dichotomy’s red-lined territory and he’s an admirable wall shaker, as usual. Something tells me though that Moothart could be the one to crack onto the perfect distillation of Sabbath’s softer side. I’ve always felt that someone needs to make a record that splits the “Planet Caravan”/”Solitude” axis and then just runs it down both sides. The seeds are here, and that’s enough to keep me listening.


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