Browsing Category New Albums

Wasted Shirt

Adding to the ever-growing list of Segall collaborators, Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt) joins forces with Ty to form Wasted Shirt. Though there’s probably a bit more of the Bolt in the mix than anything that crops up close to the surface of Ty’s catalog, Fungus II proves to be a fruitful collaboration. Built on the frantic drum damage that’s marked LB’s path of destruction for so long, the pair tear through nine cuts of calamitous punk pounce that leaves the listener heaving on the floor by the time the needle bounces off the record. Volume swells as we, the listeners are led into the cavern of Echoplex punishment at the core of their sound. Guitars squelch and tones are squeezed within an inch of life, distorting the air around them and giving off a sickened glow.

The two personalities involved have left such an imprint on their respective catalog’s that its hard not to hear the halves pulling at one another – Segall reaching for squeamish pop and Chippendale looking to push the songs hard enough to make the bolts pop. That tension drives Fungus II and propels it along with a sickening glee. This is a psychedelic album given hardcore’s hammerlock impulses. It’s a blunt force given the keys to reality joyriding through rips in the wormhole. Its also the work of two artists clearly having fun with what they’re doing. Despite some of the seething anger and emotion at the heart of Wasted Shirt, the two sound like they’re having a hell of a time bringing this monster to life.



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Kanaan

Good to see the fertile jam genes of Europe also embracing in the more improvisational side of psych, with Oslo’s Kanaan following up their 2018 debut with a live in the studio take that pushes them into freeform territory. With the label’s Jonas Munk behind the boards, the LP shows a more experimental side of the band. Kanaan holed up in Munk’s studio Odense (hence the title), and Munk joined in on guitar to take these four tracks beyond where the band had pushed prior. As with their debut Windborne, there’s a sense of unease and tension built into the bones of Kanaan’s sound, giving these tracks a sense of freedom but also a forboding wind at their backs. Opener “Seemingly Changeless Stars” builds slow and steady on riffs that threaten to break and cascading ripples of guitar that come straight from the Ripley Johnson school of liquid licks. The floodwaters break by the end and the band brings a wave of relief crashing down on listeners.

The addition of a second guitar suits the band, and Munk seats himself well into their sound, carving out delicate textures through the band’s monolithic rock structures. Over four tracks, the band cements their status as ones to watch on the psychedelic spectrum. The band’s debut was solid, but this moves them beyond echoing their influences and into etching a few new pages in the ledger of lysergic travelers. They strip away some of the tension by the time the second side rolls around and we’re treated to a mercurial melt on “Vacant Spaces,” slowly creeping to a growling close. The band doesn’t let the eleven-minute mark define the limits of their mind expansion, though. They tip into the fourteen + closer that also balances nimble fretwork and tempered chaos, exploding through the second half with a clear-cut fury. If you missed out on Windbourne pick up the story here, this feels like the moment that Kanaan begin.


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Horse Lords

Baltimore’s Horse Lords bring a constrained chaos on their fifth album, The Common Task. Built again on the hypnotic hurl of riff repetition that have cemented them in the halls of avant rock thus far, the band sets out to create one of their most cutting creations yet. The album opens with no pity, firing off heavy shots of guitar bounced through a maze of twisted glass tessellations on “Fanfare for Effective Freedom.” The song, tethered to the Earth only slightly by the lock-step rhythm section, is feeds melody and mechanics through the wood chipper and steps back to enjoy the spray. The tension on the song is shattered by the slide into the appropriately titled “Against Gravity,” which cuts that tether and slides into the stratosphere with some help from a humming sax and the celluloid slip of bass over the track. Its here that the band begins to make the album dig for blood. There’s still that hammerlock of repetition, but here the band begin to work the angles. Sax slashes from both speakers, the guitars still cycle into oblivion but it feels more dangerous and unpredictable. As the middle of the record looms, the band take post-rock punctuality and tie a tourniquet on the beat until it blackens.

Sharing a love for groove that begs some comparison to contemporaries like 75 Dollar Bill, the band tied together a work that’s diligently planned but still surprisingly unhinged. They delve deep into the tessellated inner workings of the spiraling mind. By the middle of the record the band push the listeners limits with the sonic scrape of “The Radiant City,” before diving again once more into the gnarled groove hammock of “The People’s Park.” The noise respite drives into bagpipe tones that threaten to slit the seams of the album before they interpolated Latinx funk with a political edged on the follow-up — a double punch that proves worth the wait. They cap the platter with a triple-sized dose that takes up 18 plus minutes on the flip, winding its way through simmering tones before smashing out the backdoor on a wave of Saharan funk and violin. The band’s been rightly heralded in the past for their precision and fire, and again they prove to be at the top of their class merging the desert, the basement club, the street corner, and the conservatory into one mindset shredded by an obsessive-compulsive chaos.



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Waterless Hills

Manchester’s Waterless Hills lay an absolute gem on us, quietly eking out an eerily calm eddy of prog from under the scarred English skies. The group, which features previous Feeding Tube alum C Joynes on guitar and Dan Bridgeood-Hill on violin (Irma Vep, Charles Hayward), trades in a dark strain of folk that wanders the streets at dusk and wanders states of reality after that sun finally sets. There’s an outworld quality to the songs of The Great Mountain, and as much as that title conjures up visions of Jodorowsky’s nightmare wonders, the band makes good on them with aural imagery that’s as tarnished by ash, sand, and soil as his films. The record is dried by the sun — scorched, leathered, and laid bare — and in many moments that simmers from the speakers there’s a feeling of palpable sweat seeping through the songs. It’s not constant, though, there’s the respite of dusk and the cool ripples of clean water tumbling through natural cut rock in the bones here as well.

The guitars chime and bend, roll and ramble. The drums crash and skitter with a malevolent force and all the while that violin drags us to our feet time and time again to take the journey to the mountain on the mantle. The journey is the through line and we, as listeners, arrive changed certainly, but not exhausted. Instead there’s an elation, an unplaceable euphoria humming through the invisible wires of Waterless Hills’ offering to the endless horizon. Aside from a lone lathe cut sourced from the same sessions this is the band’s only output, but here’s hoping its not the last. The record finds its home here in the states on Feeding Tube and abroad in the arms of Cardinal Fuzz. Best grab one of these because neither of those labels has a tendency to let record sit idle in their bins.



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Mosses

On their latest under the Mosses moniker Ryan Jewell and Danette Bordenkircher run the psychedelic gamut, creating a twilight quilt of influences that all seem strung together with a cosmic thread. The duo wanders the path from dark and ragged psych-folk to kosmiche winds that bump the bounds of the German Progressive barrier. Threaded with a subtle ripple of programming that recalls Ben Chasny’s latest in places, they prove that no niche of the psychedelic spectrum is out of bounds to bring into the mix. Their songs sparkle with pop in places — laden with catchy corners that beg for repeated listens. Elsewhere the notion of hooks melt away altogether, letting the moment take them down corridors as twisted and tangled as the can find. The band’s no stranger to an extended outro, but that urge to explore only cements their status.

Though they remain a pair at their core, this psych duo brings a few more friends into the fold of their Karass, with Meg Baird (Espers Heron Oblivion), Arjun Kulharya (Aquarian Blood), and Robbie Lee (Kahoots, Che Chen) among others lending some extended instrumentation to the mix. While things can get downright dark (“Ahh Auspicious”) there are moments of bright-footed pop (“MSR,” “T.V. Sun”) that prove that Ryan and Danette can craft a damn catchy tune, they just don’t seem beholden to the idea. There’s even a moment when the band pits the instincts latter day Jay Reatard against a strain of ‘60s organ pop (think Jay covering The Standells in the bones of “Time In Your Mind”) and it works. The untethered nature of the album gives the band license but they never abuse it. Instead Mosses have created their best yet — a psych-pop dark horse that slips into your brain under cover of night and makes its home there. Each listen just opens this wider and wider.




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Matt Lajoie

While I’m not likely to do this any extra justice after Jesse Jarnow’s taken a crack at it, a four-day weekend away left this off of my rolls at the end of last week and its more than worth raising more of a fuss about. Lajoie’s been a constant fixture here at the site from Starbirthed to Ash & Herb, Herbcraft and more, but his solo slices come into clear view on Everlasting Spring. The album baptizes guitar in the crystal clear waters of the Kosmiche spring and we all come out born anew because of it. Matt sets the songs adrift on waves of repeated phrasing, mulling figures in circular sway, letting the listener lose themselves in the cascades of notes that fall all around. While this is gorgeous in the room, the headphones hold even more power as they lock the world away outside of the binaural bliss that seems to surround from all sides.

There’s a languid, late morning movement to the record. It’s an embodiment of the unhurried state of mind. Each note holds onto the listener with a subtle comfort, like hands on shoulders in times of pain. In the same regard it only serves to give shelter, shade, and understanding. Lajoie’s creations build a sanctuary of sound that doesn’t feel the need to push or pull with strong arms. Instead the movement of the record is measured in millimeters, but each tiny breeze he stirs up guides the fairest hairs on the skin towards a more enlightened existence by the time the record whispers to a close. Matt’s created a beacon of hope, lighting the path away from the malaise and malign of modern times. Should we all find ourselves inside its beam, we might just make it out, or at the very least make it through another day.



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OCH

Created out of the ashes of Rocket Recording faves Flowers Must Die, OCH picks up that band’s penchant for progressive grooves and repetition and pushes it further from the pop spectrum and closer to the heart of the cosmic cabal. Corralling rogue noise flares and all manner of psychic sonic creep, the band isn’t afraid to tumble headlong into the darkness. OCH embraces space rock as it was intended – a frictionless slide into the vacuum without a handle to pull yourself back in. There’s rhythm, of course, but it’s not a grounding force here, more like the constant pound of blood and bile threading through your system as you realize that there’s no returning from the vacuum once II is underway.

The band picks at a whole host of influences, from the motoik minded chaos of Guru Guru and the guitar melt of Richard Pinhas (oscillating between Heldon and Schizo). They pick through the bones of the Swedish psychedelic graveyards, using the blade of newcomers like Hills to dig back through Pärson Sound and Träd, Gräs Och Stenar bootleg brilliance. The record vibrates with a delirious energy, pulsing to infinity and slowly stripping away the layers of self as it throttles listeners into the dark recesses of quasar consciousness. The record is longform listening at its best – a corroded dystopia that loops over and over in waves, lapping at the listener with an incessant buzz and a deliriously delightful fry. Lock in and lookout.



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The Men

While a longtime fan of The Men, I have to say I slipped on the last record and didn’t get it into my life when it came out in 2018. That proved a mistake, as they trio picks up the journey began there among the glowing embers of Mercy. The band, led by Nick Chiericozzi, has never been tied to a genre wholesale – mining the bittersweet, and often dark underbelly of rock that moved from their noise-laden beginnings to the last whiskey, jukebox bombast of Tomorrow’s Hits and New Moon. Drift brought down the lights quite a bit from where they were positioned prior to 2018. There’s a lonesomeness to the record, but also a coiled danger that’s considerably palpable. They brought the sax that had opened up the wooden dancefloors of their ’13-’14 run to a new oil-slicked prominence. Notably, the record also let in a few other new impulses – country sway and a tendency to push the guitars deep into the crimson.

The impulses that were forming like rain over Drift pour down on Mercy with a cool simplicity. The band careens a country calm on opener “Cool Water,” while ushering their acoustic moments into turns of bottomless desperation and ache in “Fallin’ Thru” and the shuttered twilight of the title track. In these songs there’s a stillness that’s escaped the band’s past catalog. These songs are scars but wear it well. The other side of the album brings as much heat as The Men ever have, though. While their noise-coated early days certainly had teeth, there’s something much more savage lurking in the guitars on “Wading in Dirty Water” and “Children All Over The World.”

While portions of this might fit in well with the current crop of the Cosmic Americana seated set, the band’s almost an inverse of the sound. They find the same grooves and hit the same body high burn, but there’s a darkness here, not unbridled joy, rather the exhumation of demons through the wires of a thrice fixed amp. The vapors of carcinogenic choogle burning through tubes at a ferocious frequency. There are many points of entry for a band with the longevity of The Men, but this chapter, begun with Drift and flung open wide with Mercy seems to be one of the band’s most potent.



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Dragoons

Coming in pretty quickly after the band’s 2019 record Dragoons Are a Band!, the Aussie quartet’s latest scraps their past formula in favor of a wider sonic vista. While the last record still had plenty of ambitions for an indie-pop record – launching songs into extended breakdowns and gilding them with a light dose of extraneous instrumentation – on Horrorscope, those impulses have been elevated to the fuel that drives the album. While there are still songs rooted in grit-teethed indie grind and blunt force post-punk (“Horrorscope II”) the album plays with form, fusing psych-jazz itches and instrumental interludes into an album that plays like a suite of songs rather than merely an assortment of likeminded tracks.

Slashed with sax and soaked in organ, the record tips the scales between the fury of The Fall (something they share with members’ other band Clamm) and a proggier direction that’s lit on the coals of groove. Giving post-punk soul, the band plays like Parquet Courts pairing up with Al Doum & The Faryds. The angles smooth, but they still seem to cut just as deep. If this is the direction the band aims to wander then I’m game to follow them down into the dirt. While their peers are content to jangle and scuff their hooks with the scent of the ‘70s downtown debris, Dragoons seem to be searching for a singular spice, and for the most part they’ve found it. It’s a short shock of a record, but it’s proving to be one that I’m eager to return to again and again.

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Lavender Flu

With the new Lavender Flu LP now locked on the table, the band moves from their hunker-down home recorders to a proper studio, and while the fidelity cops less crackle, their gutpunch rock still remains. They exorcised the bulk of the noise in their heads with last year’s imrov jammer Admiration for A Dancer. Now, they’re following the scuzz laylines that were unearthed on Mow The Glass and this next chapter’s just as sunk in glorious muck. No surprise that Gunn had some noise shivers to shake out, with a past spent in The Hospitals, the sounds in Lavender Flu are practically radio pop by comparison. Yet, like Philly’s feedback chewers Purling Hiss, he’s taken the project from low-fi amp burning habitats to cleaner confines without losing that spark that set it alight in the first place.

The record even contains what might amount to The Flu’s most tender moment on “No One Remembers Your Name.” The standout acts as an oasis of ache within the confines of Barbarian Dust, dredging up some nice Johnny Thunders moments of quiet desperation. The rest of the record isn’t quite the calm respite that this presents, with the band riding thick fuzz riffs and the curdled comfort of hooks that owe more to New Zealand pop by way of the volume punish pulse of Afflicted Man and Volcano Sun than they do to any modern sunny day strums. Gunn and co. slide through the motor oil VapoRub vibes of the record before finally descednding into darkness. Then, after the comedown dirge of “In League With Satan,” the band caps the whole record with a bit of the crusted Cakekitchen-like jangles that cropped up on Mow The Grass. This is definitely the clearest vision of the band.

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