Browsing Category New Albums

Wild Raccoon

Another release from the French underground, must be something in the water this week. Wild Raccoon is the nom de noise of Raton Sauvage, who performs as a one man unit, adopting the setup and actually quite a bit of the sound of early Ty Segall records. Sauvage bashes it out with stripped drums keeping time over ragged guitar that’s primed to peel the paint from any room. He augments things slightly on record and the sound winds up bigger than his man with mic and a plan ambitions in the live setting. There’s a bit of psych float oozing in on opener “Sasquatch Arms,” some acoustic tumble on “Half 01,” but in general think back to a young Segall bashing out the blood on his eponymous LP, Horn of the Unicorn and Lemons. In some ways its nice to roll down memory lane, even if that lane’s been well worn and left in the dust by most of the garage crew these days. What transpires is a release that’s fun but so familiar it leaves you checking the tags on the tracks and page on the calendar to see if you are indeed listening to something from ’08 or have perhaps slipped back in time altogether. And that’s probably giving a bit too much credit Ty’s way too. He didn’t invent the rickety bash of garage tracks, he just brought it to the world’s feet in a nice catchy package. In that regard, Sauvage is having fun and so too can you, as long as expectations are set and saddled and your lo-fi love is still in tact.





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Le Villejuif Underground

I must be slipping in my old age. How is it that the first time I wrote up Le Villejuif Underground’s single “Since Everything Changes,” I didn’t realize that despite a move of country, the Aussie expat in question, Nathan Roche, was from RSTB fave Camperdown and Out? I must have been too excited about the sounds, but its an egregious oversight nonetheless. Camperdown’s record is by far and away one of those nuggets of brilliance that surfaced and then just disappeared without a trace. They perfectly boiled ’90s influences into the kind of reclined and worn slacker pop that feels like its always just been a part of your life. In that respect, Roche, with his new band are still finding their way down the roads of no particular haste with the same detached slink. True to the city pun this time ’round there’s more of a slackadaisical lean on the Lou Reed river of cool, but not to worry Camperdown fans, the Pavement vein still runs thick. Its just that now Roche is tracing the the tributary from Malkmus to Reed in reverse.

This is the record that acts as a salve for your pent up hopes on Parquet Courts. Its your true north star of bummed out bodega cool, late summer saunter and ground down penniless amble. Everything on their eponymous LP feels like the oldest sweater in your drawer; comfortable, stained and putting on airs for no one. Roche is the only holdover from the Camperdown dates, but he’s trained his new recruits well, they inhabit the rumpled reins of his songwriting with a kind of grace that feels effortless, but never lazy. Its noisy, scarred and bruised but not broken. Its the only way to follow up Camperdown. Drop the mic on one act and pick up in a different town, at a different time with a different name. Its the aimless drift of pop that needs to be in your life. LVF aren’t going to insist on anything but they will help you avoid responsibility for a little while. And is that too much to ask?




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Wireheads

Perennial favorite Wireheads are back on the scene with a third record, again for Aussie imprint Tenth Court, and its great to hear their caustic post-punk mature. The Adelaide band’s debut was ragged and unapologetic in its delivery, little wonder that I’d named it one of the great overlooked records of the last ten years. On their third record they ditch the alt pedigree of Calvin Johnson’s Dub Narcotic for homeland sessions that pull in just about everyone that they know. Driving force, Dom Trimboli sketched out the songs and invited friends into the sessions to help flesh them out, resulting in a roster of 20 musicians that includes members of Brisbane’s Bent, Sydney poppers Day Ravies, kindred spirits Bitch Prefect plus Fair Maiden, Men With Chips and The High Beamers. For the most part this ends up bleeding in a bit of beauty to Wireheads’ usual lemon in the wound attack. There’s a loose nature to the album, but strangely it results in some of the band’s most pop moments. The ravaged swagger of “Dedication”, the dark country shuffle of “Proserpina,” the psych pop warble of “Isabella Says” and the last-call balladry of “Banana Fish” all feel like leaps from their chewed wire beginnings.

As the album unfolds there are still a few moments of the band’s squall’s – sax skronk ripping like an inter tube in distress, violin howling at the wind – but for the most part the mixed company seems to have taken them in new directions and those chances pay off. For a lot of bands, tempering their sound usually means losing a bit of vitality, but there’s little anyone could do to sand down the edges of Trimboli’s vocal bite. When he’s singing, its a Wireheads song; doesn’t matter if there are strums or saw tooth licks, the impact hits you just the same. Three albums on the band is still one of the most interesting kicking around guitar rock these days and Arrive Alive stands to prove it.



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Spray Paint

Austin’s Spray Paint embrace the phrase, “no rest for the wicked.” On their sixth album in half as many years they’re hitting more than their stride, they’re pummeling listeners with the most tightly wound, cleanest cut version of their post-punk snarl yet. The record is, as usual, dark and biting, a hallmark of their steel wool grind. It would seem that any band that pushes as hard to release on the schedule that they do, would diminish their well of inspiration; but the trio have a seemingly endless supply of deranged deadbeats, human bile vials and damaged grey matter to chronicle with each impending release. Given their subject matter and no-wave lacerations, there’s little sunshine that finds its way into Spray Paint’s universe. Hell, the refrain on the title track is “seems like everyone’s getting cancer”. So, if you’re looking for that Summer funtime, breeze in the hair album, then maybe search elsewhere.

However, if you’re looking to take the back alley walk to a third shift job in the dead end days of August’s most stagnant heat. If you’re pushing head down through the kind of industrial, throat parched, food desert setting that’s rife with castoffs from the Repo Man casting couch, then by all means Feel The Clamps is perhaps your record of the summer. Its not just a soundtrack to disaffected youth, its a teeth grit grumble of a generation that got the short stick and the frustration that’s keeping them on their feet day to day – clock punching to Spray Paint as the house band of their slide into day’s end. The itching, squirming, pulsating nerve is in here and Clamps is a salve to shelter the soul.



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White Mystery

Outta Control sees White Mystery step away from a lot of their comfort zones and some excursions work and others don’t but in either case there’s a joyous ripple that runs through the record that kinda makes it ok even when things truly get outta control. The band is still at their best when hewing a bit close to the garage rock that bore them through, though here they bring in the jubilant pound of pianos, acoustic strums and noisy squalls to augment the raucous rip of fried amplifier fume that’s been their steadfast companion. In truth, at its heart, there’s a great explosion of bubblegum that’s rearing its head on the album and in that respect there’s a lot of crossover with one of my latter day garage faves, The Dirtbombs’ Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey album from 2013. It gives the album a sense of elastic fun that pushes towards a more pop sound, that’s big and brimming and worthy of its own cartoon band (albeit one that might land on Adult Swim instead of Cartoon Network’s daytime rotation).

The downside to pushing the boundaries is that it doesn’t always work, but any collector of bubblegum pop knows that any gum compendium is never 100% and in that respect the auto-tune laden, modern day pop satirizing “Pacci” is the bum sticker in the bunch, but hey life gives you skip buttons. Its not nearly enough to sour the absolute fun that gushes out of Outta Control. The rest of the album bounds by on spring loaded legs, bopping and swaying and generally sticking in your head like a pop-rocks coated aneurysm of fun. Been a long time coming seeing this band fully embrace their truly outsized personalities and run with it, on Outta Control they feel like they’re having as much fun as anyone listening.




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Tongues of Light

Brought to you by Andy Votel and Demdike Stare’s ephemeral label Pre-Cert Home Entertainment, Channelled Messages At The End Of History began as a gift between friends, something not for mass production, but its too good to keep to a corralled audience. The concept brings together samples of new age meditation, higher consciousness seekers and occult dwellers, all sourced from the bowels of YouTube’s endless mind suck. On their own as an afternoon watch, experienced in full, they’d be grating or possibly just amusing; but when cut and assembled, padded with synth washes and ominous drone beds, they become something other. They achieve a psychedelic mantra, a through the television glass world of spectral freakishness.

Its new age sage for the ASMR generation, but instead of truly relaxing the listener with the subtle raindrop clop of fingernails and assured phrasing, the record winds up like a slow motion face-peel reveal of something glowing and gossamer beneath the surface. It never feels like a collage, the sampling here is so seamless that it just feels like the kind of lucid dream float that could only make sense in altered states, be your weapon of choice meditation or psychoactive toad. Pre-Cert is home to the types of records too weird and fractured for Modern Love or Finders Keepers, and this is definitely a kind of mission statement or high water mark for the label. For those with the right kind of ears, its a welcome ride into the sweat-lodge nirvana of the mind.



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Ricardo Dias Gomes

This one came out late last year, but to such little rumble that it seems fitting to kick some dust up about it now. Gomes is a member of Brazilian bands Do Amor and, Cê (Caetano Veloso’s band), but he’s crowdfunded his own release with -11 and stepped into his own light, even if for just a little bit. The record lays the fingerpicked intimacy inherit in much of his collaborative works into a warbled pool of hazy electronics which Gomes augments with devotional organ drones, field recordings and tape hiss. The voices are up close, dryly recorded and almost inside the listener’s head, which gives the feeling of drifting into sleep with nagging thoughts pushing and pulling at rest and wakefulness. Gomes has a talent for evoking dream states, even ones that aren’t always particularly settling. There are moments on -11 that thrum with uneasiness, but they seem to balance nicely with the more languid tracks. The one outlier is middle-piece “Some Ludicrous Self-Indulgence To Develop” which lives up to its name, feeling a bit out of place among the rest of the pieces with its sprightly exuberance. Gomes is at his peak, though, when he’s got that lilt of melancholy in his voice that feels like a faraway look. Those are the tracks that push this record into the cool blue light of day and the reason that I hope Gomes doesn’t just leave this as a one off experiment. There’s a vein to be tapped here and this feels like just breaking the skin.



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Belbury Poly

Ah hell, has it really been four years already since the last Belbury Poly album? Feels like just yesterday. Since the music is crystallized in an amber gloss of ’60s Chyron clean, ’70s motorik burble and the vacuum glow of library music in any era before 1985, its always irrelevant what year it actually came out. Jim Jupp knows his playbook and he’s updating it a bit here with a skew that’s pushing further into the ’70s than he has on past records. There’s still plenty about Belbury that feels like its soundtracking ads for Danish Modern furniture and walks along the PanAm concourse, but now its starting to let in a few 70’s wide lapels in the foreground. There’s a hint of California palm fronds and rum in the air. The cars are more muscular and the love a little less free. Belbury has definitely crested its way out of the ’60s but its still got a lot of hangover from the influences that Jupp holds near and dear.

Still, it doesn’t matter quite which decades he straddles, the crux of Belbury is that intangible nostalgia. The tip-of-the-tongue feeling that you’ve been here before but never in quite this capacity. In that respect New Ways Out is hitting its mark squarely. It still feels like a wave of calming familiarity that echoes times when life wasn’t better, it was all just portrayed that way on TV. Things definitely click around a stylistic corner with the opening kick of “Hey Now Here He Comes” stapling a bit of glam to the swirling keys, sounding like bed music from an era intoxicated by The Bay City Rollers if Ennio Morricone was behind their decks. Its not a permanent shift though, and in no time Jupp’s back to finding the softer side of your memories and flooding them with a candied candle of children’s television interstitials and the saccharine glue of guided meditation seminars. In short, its everything that could ever be wanted from a Belbury Poly record, swirling in faded colors and star-wiping its way into your heart.


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Steve Gunn

First time I heard Steve Gunn was back in 2007 on a small label called Onomoto, known for acts like Taiga Remains and Ghosting. Gunn was pulling down ragged fingerpicked odes that hung in the air like frost. The sound quality was scratchy but the talent was clear under the hiss. Its been years since those days and ever since the second phase of Gunn’s life rolled down with 2013’s Time Off he’s been marked for greatness, steadily straightening the rumpled blazer sound that he’s stepped into. Eyes On The Lines is Gunn fully formed, running at peak but still never feeling flashy about it. The man can play. If you need any proof, plunk down a copy of Seasonal Hire, his collaboration with The Black Twig Pickers. That ought to set you straight. But even with the talent in tow, it’s the way he wields that makes him unique. Most of his songs tend to capture the feeling of the highway stretching endlessly on the horizon; sauntering in a way that clips by like the steady pace of pines out the rolled window. In this respect his solos never blister, they feel like the pent up relief of a good stretch when the car stops. They’re air in the lungs and feet on the ground.

Eyes On The Lines deploys those moments of clarity in ample doses but the surrounding build and fade is hardly shabby either. Sure its a more accessible and, dare say, mature record from Steve, but he’s finding a way to show age in style. The country touches whisper in at the edges, a bend of twang here and a dusted dose of strum running its way under the chorus. He’s still got some of his ragged roots showing though, there’s certainly a warble of psych that curls in with the rest of the smoke filling up the rooms of this record. In the end though, its all those touches coming together to make a perfect montage of diner coffees, halogen lights flickering over gas pumps, center lines and steel girders; the air peppered with throat dust and the cold freshness of leaves on the air. That’s the heart of Eyes On The Lines, that and the itch of needing to get moving, even when it feels good to stretch.

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Psychic Ills

Psychic Ills have spent a career playing to their particular whims and tacking them to the same name so kudos to not necessarily feeling that a new direction warrants a new band outright. People evolve and change and the band’s let the Ills name tag along through their phases. True there’s a part of me that has a hard time believing that the sunburnt country on display on Inner Journey Out – dappled with the buttery slide of steel pedal and fuzzed ever so slightly with strums – is the same band I saw sweltering in the July heat at the old McCarren pool in BK with a handful of faithful stragglers. But though the noise of those days is gone, baked off and smoothed into an excellently world-weary sigh, they’re still the same psychic troubadours at heart. The songs are ringed with smoke that languidly curls in effortless rings. The album has the feeling of having seen the world and finding yourself older, but not mellowed, just more accepting of the fact that the din (or Dins as it may be) isn’t the only way to kick up dust.

One Track Mind hinted at the shift in tone, but even then there weren’t the orange and cream tones that seem to color the bulk of Inner Journey Out. This is an album steeped in motel balcony nights, when the air is warm and thick… desert nights. There’s little about the album that feels tied to the city, or the East Coast for that matter. Its dusted with the squint of sun through dried palms and the heat warbled tilt of orange as it dips below the horizon. The band’s spent a long time getting to this point but, to be honest, wearied experience looks good on them. This is the sounds of a band playing with texture and writing what feels honest, even if its not tied to what’s expected. The album is psychedelic without putting your face in it. Like a trick of the light, its got more than one side that shows at any given time. Blink and it changes in a blur.



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