Browsing Category New Albums

Mythic Sunship

While Another Shape of Psychedelic Music might not radically reinvent its own genre the way Coleman did for jazz, or upend possibilities quite as much as The Refused did for punk, their latest for El Paraiso is an immersive and writhing organic beast that certainly reconfigures their own sound enough to warrant the wink on that title. The band’s Land Between Rivers was a stunner, raining down brimstone blasts of doom and psych in equal measures, charring pretty much everything in its wake to a carcinogenic crisp. On last year’s Upheaval, though, they got dense, maybe wandering a bit to far into their own heads and leaving the listener without the spark of unpredictability and terrifying edge-of-reality playing that marked their earlier release. They’re stoking the embers of that fire once again, though, on Another Shape and it feels good to see the madness back in their eyes.

The band incorporates free jazz and a heavier stroke of prog into their usual mix of doom, psych and motorik German references here. Saxophone splashes over every inch of the record, and the frantic squalls fit right into their particular maelstrom. From an opening cut that pushes past the fourteen-minute mark, to their skronk-greased breakdowns, it’s an album that’s not working off of any preconceived set of expectations. They’re playing purely to torch the turrets on their personal temples, channeling the heat of the blaze into a set that radiates genesis and destruction like never before.

The howl of sax seems to have awakened something in them and its great to have one of Scandinavia’s rawest units back in fine form. The record boasts some guidance from label co-head and Causa Sui member Jonas Munk. His production, along with the searing third guitar he’s lent to their gauntlet gives the album a lot of its vibrancy. There have been a lot of great psychedelic records this year, but Another Shape of Psychedelic Music is steadily pushing its way to the top of the pile. It may not be the shape of psych to come, but it’s definitely among the best shapes 2018 could ask for.



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Kikagaku Moyo

On their latest album for GuruGuru Brain, Kikagaku Moyo have dug deeper into their psychedelic soul than ever before. The album, produced with Portuguese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas, still weaves their appreciation for psych-folk, spiritual ambience, sitar breakdowns and deluges of guitar, but adds a newfound spaciousness and attention to groove that pushes Masana Temples to the top of their catalog. The band’s last album was awash in pastoral hues, and while it often lit the match on psychedelic burdowns, the remainder of the album rooted itself in a crisp coolness. The aptly titled House in the Long Grass evoked the lush countryside and the solace of verdant spaces. While some of that aspect still remains on their proper follow up, there’s an indelible sense of the city and humanity’s hum present in the mix this time.

Perhaps part of this arises from the band members putting space between themselves, thus necessitating entry to the clockwork coercion of city environs. The mournful lilt of “Orange Peel” and the lonesome slink “Nazo Nazo” capture a sense of traveling – echoing loneliness among a hive of constant activity. As the members work their ways back towards one another the modern world inevitably creeps up to try to reclaim them. The band, however, slips through with the steadied pace of cosmic travelers straight out of a Jodorowsky vision. They seem to radiate a utopian bubble of classic ’70s psychedelia that wards off the technological tangle all around us. The record bends creative restlessness into an organic set of songs that breathe with tension, elation, and as usual, ferocious catharsis. When they flick the flint to flame on “Nana” and “Gatherings” its with purpose, burning down the modern marvels to reveal the old temples beneath.

Perndas, it appears, shares their interest in lending immediacy to a recording, with the band working in one or two takes, even if it means the song isn’t note perfect. Not that Kikagaku Moyo are sloppy, but the imperfections lend even more weathering to their vintage air, conjuring up communal psych communities more attuned to the trip than concerned with the token of a pristine recording. Kikagaku Moyo perked many ears with Forest of Lost Children, positioned themselves at the top of Tokyo’s psychedelic circuit with House in the Long Grass and now they cinch their pedigree with Masana Temples. If somehow you’ve missed out on the band up ’til now, this is the perfect moment to come on board.



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Slift

At this point it might be said that Thee Oh Sees are a genre unto themselves. The psych-scratched garage rock, punctuated by John Dwyer’s echoplexed howl is a calling card of their frantic punk pedigree. As such, its hard not to immediately think of them whenever a band wades into their particular sonic jungle. Whether a new artist is expanding the sound or not, its always going to immediately shift the brain to comparisons with San Francisco’s untethered heroes. Same goes for Animal Collective, I suppose. There are just a few indie bands today that have nailed their milieu and no matter how universal some of their underlying influences are, they own their sound. With that said, its hard not to feel the specter of Dwyer looming over La Planète Inexplorée, the debut album from French quasar-punks Slift.

The album lifts off from the same platform of heavy, syncopated riffs and psych freakouts, even executing Dwyer’s caustic creep vocal patterns. However, they’re working well to try to make their own mark in in the heavy tank treads left behind by SF’s favorite sons. The trio takes the frizzle fry to some excellent heights, drops in some icy flute to creep up the spine and works out their best motorik impulses all over this platter. The record’s burrowed deep into a subterranean cave ambience, feeling like an otherworldly accompaniment to sci-fi wonderlands parched by desert heat and strange magic.

The LP brings to mind the harsh yet vivid worlds built into the comic works of Rick Remender – complicated vistas full of wonder that are often just as deadly as they are breathtaking. The deeper the record goes, the more the band begins to swirl the heavy smoke and smolder that permeates the mind. Divorced from its most obvious influence, its a spot on psych record that’s clearly built by skillful players with a tendency to push their songs as far as possible to the outer reaches of fuzz and froth. The band proves that their initial EPs were no fluke and makes it clear that they belong in the expansive arms of a well thought out full length. Perhaps as they soldier on the band will evolve their sound and hone in on what separates them from their looming shadows.



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Constant Mongrel

Festering beneath the underbelly of Aussie indie, Constant Mongrel has occupied space on RIP Society and Siltbreeze’s roster and now they make a jump to hometown heroes Anti-Fade and Spain’s pounding punk nerve, La Vide Es Un Mus for a joint release. Living In Excellence perches the band at the acerbic edge of post-punk, as one might expect of Siltbreeze alums to say the least. The record’s riddled with a restless twinge that could read as dance-inducing if your idea of dancing swings towards the asymmetrically violent. Taking up the traditions of The Fall and The Screamers, the band prowls through each song with a manic red-eyed intensity that prickles the skin and pummels the base of the skull.

In tandem with their paint-peeler aesthetic, the band’s lyrically lashing into their surroundings. The bulk of Living in Excellence takes on banality’s bite, the rot of religion and the slow slide towards a fascist state in any corner of the world you happen to inhabit. The band’s “Living in Excellence” theme erodes the notion of making anything great at this point, from America to Australia, but the band is weathering it well. They seem fine watching the ship go down, even if it means they get their own shoes wet in the process. They’ll sink with a sneer, taking the piss out of life rafts if it means they get to rankle the rest of the riders.

The band have consistently brought quality grime over the years and they show no signs of letting up now.



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Doe

With their heels dug into the slightly grimy ‘90s, London trio Doe barrel into their sophomore album with nods to the hooky growl of The Amps, The Muffs, That Dog, and Imperial Teen. While less likely as a touchstone, they’re also dredging up flashes of underground Aussie grungers Fur as they met out their spring-loaded songs about growing older without the burden of ennui. With Hookworms’ MJ at the boards, the album can’t help but ping-pong between the furnace of fuzz and Windexed hooks as his undertakings often do, but the band makes good use of his stucco spit polish. Grow Into It sounds big, but also like it might feel better bursting out of it topcoat at any moment.

The band is remarkably confident on the record, leaning into hooks with a wink and a sneer, but even when they’re flipping the switch to engage, there’s a slight sense that they’re still holding back. They butt up to the cliff but don’t dangle nearly far enough. Songs like “Heated” and “Motivates Me” provide the best example of their unbuttoned abandon, but even here there’s a feeling that vocalist Nicola Leel could let loose with a vocal chord shredding yell to loosen things up to a frantic blast a la Louise Post or Kim Shattuck. The guitars could squelch just a touch hotter, letting the album boil over rather than conserving gas.

That said, at its core, the record is hopscotching through all the right ‘90s dress-up bins, and reaching further back to the Ric Ocasec and Bill Nelson excesses that helped usher in the right amount of sparkle vs. crunch. Doe are on the right track here and moving forward in nice strides from their more muted first album. There’s a sense that the stage might bring these songs out of their shell and the band would do well to keep pushing towards the powder keg moments they bring out under the lights.



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GØGGS

While the reflex on any Ty Segall adjacent project is to focus on his contribution, in reality GØGGS runs rampant with Chris Shaw’s hand on the tiller. The Ex-Cult singer brings his panic-sweat intensity to the band’s sophomore album, knocking out eleven new visceral body blows that drape power metal in the cloak of ozone churning prog. Where their first album played with themes of experimentation, on Pre-Strike Sweep, they step much further into the darkness of their impulses. Ex-Cult always cut to the bone, with little time for atmosphere or instrumental acrobatics, so its good to see Shaw (alongside Segall, Charles Moothart and Michael Anderson) stretching out into the dust-choked cosmos, basking in the oven temps of salt flat freakouts and digging through the drainage of fuzz deluged swamps.

The band’s clearly been rifling through their heavy psych catalogs – Hawkwind, Sabbath and Captain Beyond waft through – though they’re not lingering long with the Lords of Light, instead churning the afterburner effects of space rock into a kind of sickness that’s infecting their arsenal of punishing riffs. They tend to more often lace up the heavy boots of Sabbath, but the boys replace Ozzie’s hash howl with enough cocaine to tweak him far beyond the Void. The thick cloud of ever-present rumble is punctuated by screaming leads on tracks like “Disappear” and “Morning Reaper.” The latter also contorting itself through a Pere Ubu possession of tinfoil twists before opening the lava gates of molten metal mania. The last album had its moments, but its clear that what’s come before was just a preamble to the sonic assault that’s formed here.

The assembled members have enough catalog between them to knock your luggage over the weight limit and then some, but the way they’ve found egalitarian ground between their respective takes on fuzz-huffing heaviness is key here. Moothart brings the bottom-end blowout of Fuzz, Shaw the wide-eyed intensity that’s his trademark, Anderson snags some of his atmospheric rinse from his days in CFM, and, yes, around it all Segall wraps his adaptive brain and engineer’s ear to bring this all together to an apocalyptic boil. For album number three, the band just need to pepper in their mercurial take on “Planet Caravan” and they’d be set to roll.




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Bad Moves

DCs Bad Moves are sitting square on the Venn diagram between power pop, punk and New Wave. While their songs pogo with abandon, they snag the candy-coated harmonies that stuck The Go-Gos and The Bangles to the airwaves like glue. They round out the mix by adding a 10-foot-tall tower of confidence that picks up the vibes of 20/20, Phil Seymour and The Beat. They never tip the needle too far in the direction of any of their poles, which makes for a record that’s floating in the pop ether, enjoying its own company more than any of its touchstones. As such, Tell No One careens through the speakers with a wide-eyed glee that’s infectious, barely contained and potently palpable.

That glee is central to Bad Moves’ appeal. Their songs, lyrically, are often not celebratory affairs. They center on overcoming anxieties, feeling out a sense of self, weathering family hardships, and dealing with hypocrisy. These songs are often the literal embodiment of butterflies in the stomach. Yet they alchemize the electric tinge in the nerves into a gush of glee to burst through the bubble of doubt. They galvanize an entire audience into overcoming their worry with them. The stakes seem high in Bad Moves’ world, but like the young adulthood they crystallize, the payoff seems just as high.

There’s no rush like being in your teens and twenties and feeling seen by a band. It seems like Bad Moves have the potential to hook a whole generation looking to collectively hurdle the constant lump in their throats. Its freeing to just peel a few layers of paint with pent-up amplifier power, an irrepressible bounce and lyrics about the politics of love. This year there may be no better band to drive the heartswell of hooks n harmonies that crack the shell of youth than Bad Moves.



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Alien Nosejob

Never one deterred by the constraints of time, Jake Robertson’s packing another band into his repertoire. On top of the already great LP from School Damage this year, not to mention current stints in Hierophants, Ausmuteants, and Drug Sweat, Robertson’s taking the solo approach under the name Alien Nosejob. With a couple of seven-inches under the name already, he’s been honing the sound on the sly, but with Various Fads & Technological Achievements he’s ready to take it wide. The album skews away from his normal niche of wobbly post-punk and nervy flop sweat jitter-punk ala Pere Ubu and MX-80. This time he’s taking a softer approach, or at least a slightly less caustic approach.

Weaving folk – albeit not the campfire coolout variety, think Carl Simmons’ Honeysuckle Tendrils – with new wave notions and synth-pop propulsion, the LP is gulping a little less lightning than usual for Robertson. That’s not to say this is a tame affair, it’s clear that Alien Nosejob’s MO includes dragging the same strange vein of pop that produced R. Stevie Moore, most of the Dark Entries catalog, and the less commercial output of Game Theory. Throw in a dash of the shoestring ‘Zappa with a rhythm box’ sounds of Geza X and you’re starting to get close to what’s at play here. Now while that’s all a lot of discordant pop to throw in the ol’ blender, the outcome winds up rather smooth. Alien Nosejob goes down straight, but the tics around the eyes give away its twinge of madness.

The other outcome here is that with so much stuffed into the sausage skin of Alien Nosejob, there’s sometimes a bit of whiplash between the neon reflections of “Runaway” and the pastoral peace of “Exothermic Reaction.” It all fits together in its reaching for the pop “other,” but there’s a feeling that this album’s catching up on the odds and sods of what’s been hammering at Jake’s skull outside of his last few records. It’s a great match strike, and it seems like Alien Nosejob’s got a freakish concept album in its future (if its meant to have a future). Taken as singular parts, however, there’s quite enough new wave jitter here to pack yer speakers for weeks.



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Hoover III

While the “Guillotine” single gave some indication of what Hoover III had in store, it was hardly a proper warning for the Space Rock wormhole that unfolds on their eponymous debut. Along with members of Babylon, Numb.Er and Jesus Sons, the full band sonic assault is a beaut to behold. The band is huffing the fumes of Hawkwind and Amon Duul and likewise crawling through synth wires alongside Eloy and Sensations Fix. They digest a decade’s worth of prog, Krautrock and psych then work it into a modern monster of Echoplexed infatuation. I use the word debut sparingly, though, because this has been an album working in the wings for years. Many of the songs are found in their infancy on Bert Hoover’s lo-fi tape Destroya from 2015, but those versions sound like transmissions across a vast and unflinching galaxy once the entirely of Hoover III is let loose its atomic wail.

While many of their contemporaries sluicing through the same skies tend to lean into the clutch on their approach, belching fuzz and ozone explosions that deaden the senses, Hoover III are going for a more elegant approach. There’s still the necessary deluge of fuzz from time to time, but for the most part the band plays to the audiophile sensibilities of a ‘70s prog shut-in. They’re going for complex mind expansion on the ol’ Quadrophonic and the clean burnin’ blasts feel good on them. In that regard, they’re running through the same grooves that gave Meatbodies’ Alice such appeal last year. Being in the Permanent family this is coming from the same soil stained by Ty, Purling Hiss, Mind Meld and The Witch Fingers, but there’s a tendency to push into the pristine plastic prog of early aughts bands like Soundtrack of our Lives and Secret Machines. At the very least they’ve landed on the same planets visited by Black Mountain in their years in the cosmos.

There’s lots to unpack in listening to Hoover III and it’s a damn fun ride with some truly glowing moments. There’s a lot of crossover when bands sidle up to Space Rock, but as psychedelic, progressive and propellant as this album is, it’s never simply a prog, psych or Krautrock album. The correct combination of those particular forces gives the album that lift off of the terrestrial plain. Plenty reach out for the handhold on the genre, but it takes a bit of skill to land the grip. Hoover III nails the launch and lives to burn through the weightless decadence of a true Space Rock treasure.



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The Shifters

Melbourne’s Shifters embody the shaky, shaggy core of the current crop of Aussie indie. Over short format offerings they’ve been cranking out scrappy, striped-down songs that dip into the same wells as Terry, School Damage, The Stroppies, and Boomgates. Not to stay content with merely snagging influence from Terry and the ‘Gates though, when it came time to lay down a debut the band connected with the hardest working man in OZ, Al Montfort, to record the LP. They convened at his home studio to bang Have A Cunning Plan into its ragtag shape. Seems they picked up a few tricks from Al beyond just sticking this to tape. There’s a loose twang, hung on the same squeamish nail of post-punk that holds up Terry’s tattered charms and they’re proving to be just as efficient at working out maximum impact from an economical setup.

That’s not to say they wind up b-team turnouts or boy wonders to Al’s considerable talents, though. The band’s taking that shaggy, low-key sound and sneaking digs on corporate standards, mundanity, colonialism and toxic politics. Singer/lyricist Miles Jansen’s got the nasal nuance to duck down in the pit with the best of the new class rising up the ranks in Melbourne. Songs like “Straight Lines” work anxiety into tumultuous earworms- jittered by unpredictable jangles and stumbling through keyboard lines intoxicated with irreverent glee. While surface appearances leave the album looking off the cuff and trading in casual clamor, the truth is it takes some planning to feel this effortless.

By layering their loose-knit clatter, the band weaves songs that reveal great overlapping details when run through the speakers multiple times. They’re all about the little details, just not about buffing them to shine for the listener. Pick through the grit the band reveals a bright talent for knotty melodies like fellow 2018 standouts The Goon Sax. They’re proving that they’ve got a great handle on the aimlessness, restlessness, and anxiousness of youth and can pin it to a memorable jangle better than most. Have a Cunning Plan leaves the band in a great position to hook ‘em in for the long haul with a debut that’s rewarding listen after listen.



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