Browsing Category New Albums

Sauna Youth

Often the barrage of UK DIY can be overwhelming. There are plenty kicking out fodder and it ranges from brilliant to retread but its always nice when a sparkle of genuine fun comes along. All the more worthwhile if that album has a bite to it, and Distractions has some to spare. The album’s built on taught, gnashing guitars and a set of dark hooks that dig deep but bounce with more of a wild-eyed menace than joy. The anxious sweat fairly coats each and every bit of the band’s spring loaded set. The nervy pummel is broken a few times by spoken word pieces that fit tonally with the record’s raw vibe, but they come off just a touch pretentious. When the band sticks to kinetic bursts of fury and sandpaper riffs they keep this one jumping back onto the table every time. Easy to see why they were chosen by Wire to play the band’s DRILL festival. No surprise that this one hits via UK DIY enclave Upset The Rhythm. Well worth more than a few rotations of your time.



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The Hussy

There were few albums that sparked as much joy around here as The Hussy’s Pagan Hiss from 2013. The album took your standard, work-a-day garage rock palette and injected a looseness and skewed pop playfulness to it that bordered on infectious. On their third album, the Wisconsin duo spit-polish the push/pull of their pop dynamic even further. Focusing on a heavier guitar sound and incorporating violin, lap steel and a barrage of effects pedals, the album marks a turn of the duo’s already bubbly songs into a headrush of fizzing hooks. Buzzsaw cascades of sound one minute and the next they blow the dust away to lean back into an orchestral tinged weeper. Its definitely the sound of a band finding footing and slotting themselves up nicely with some of their other ambitiously minded peers like Ty and Mikal who’ve taken those garage instincts and pop mindset and let the screen blow wide, making grander statements than anyone ever really expected of them.



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Michael O.

It would probably be pushing it to say that Michael Olivares is better known as the lead singer of San Francisco ramshackle poppers The Mantles. To be fair, The Mantles aren’t exactly a household name either, but that’s more of a testament to most people’s poor taste than anything else. They should be a fixture in your record collection, as should Olivares’ first solo LP for Fruits & Flowers. The album follows his previous single for the start-up label and lands on some of the same twinges of homespun pop but it also expands its scope into a much larger statement of new wave hat tips to Nikki Sudden’s jangle comedowns, classic era Flying Nun cracked lens warbles and even a touch of sun-smeared folk that crinkles around the edges.

Aiding Olivares in bringing this collection to fruition is Edmund Xavier of Horrid Red. The pair don’t fill out a room but in their restraint, they find the nuance that makes Olivares’ brand of honest, fluid pop feel familiar and fresh in equal measure. Plenty of other albums will come beating down your door in 2015 but Really? is the kind that lets you come to it, and you’d be well advised to seek it out.


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Andy Human & The Reptoids

Great news rains down in the form of Andy Human’s new long player, this time augmented with a cast of other Bay Area freaks kitted out as The Reptoids. The record kicks through the same weird weeds of punk / new wave fodder that Andy Jordan has sunk his teeth into before, but this time all the senses are blown up and working overtime. Chewing on tin foil hooks that rumble through Devo infested jungles, littered with Twinkeyz ticket stubs, Roxy music posters and probably a worn copy of that Ozzie reissue; the eponymous LP is glazed with the kind of technicolor punk that only seemed to exist in b-movies. Splashes of Buckaroo Banzai / Dead End Drive-in / Repo Man chaotic hangover waft in from the irradiated guitar lines and razor sharp sax blasts, sickened keys fight for air with Jordan’s demanding yelps and it feels like ’79 again. That’s the thing about Andy Human, its never felt like a hollow imitation but more of a method study in the sick and warbled fringes of 70’s art-punk and he absolutely nails it on the head once again.


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The Holydrug Couple

The Holydrug Couple sink their teeth into dreampop and get lost in the vapor. Citing Air as a touchstone for the album, the Chilean group definitely takes up the reigns between the French band’s high school comedown “Playground Love” and their wilder (by Air’s standards) workings on Talkie Walkie. Draped in the kind of shimmer, soft lighting and billowing smoke that maxes out a fog machine budget, Holydrug make it sound like longing never resolves. They pine endlessly for a love that’s always moving further out of reach. They swoon at the very thought of closure but, alas it seems that the game is forever played and while you’re playing, they’ve got just the soundtrack to encapsulate that gossamer crush of heartache. Bigger than their last record by a mile, they build monuments of sparkling synth and sinewy bass, wriggling through the aforementioned smoke like serpents through water. Sacred Bones has built a reputation on darkness so The Holydrug Couple has always seemed like a bit of an outlier in their own stable and here they take a few steps further out of line creating a shimmering dose of pop that, while sometimes hard to pick apart in the individual pieces, builds to a larger statement of infatuation nicely.


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Mortitz Von Oswald Trio

There’s been no lack of love for Von Oswald’s trio here at RSTB but with this new chapter of the band he knocks an already exemplary band into a new level. Replacing original drummer with current touring drummer and legend in his own right, Tony Allen, the new album from the trio takes off from the group’s usual stomping grounds of electronically bent jazz and dub then infects it with flecks of Afrobeat propulsion and synth darkness in a way that feels like the missing ingredients all along. Sounding Lines plays with space and rhythm. MVO Trio has always pushed forward the boundaries of their respective genres but here they delve headlong into a shadowy cave of echoes that tumble beats in all directions, synths that seek only to haunt and a kind of crushing heaviness that’s as threatening as a coronary. Perhaps not one for the coming summer sun but when that swelter starts to bubble up from the soil itself, Sounding Lines will feel like just the answer.



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Thee Tsunamis

Oof, Thee Tsunamis make good on that EP from last year with a ripper of an album. Saturday Night Sweetheart blasts through candy coated garage like a bad habit. Not necessarily rewriting any books or hooks but to be fair this one seizes you more like a coloring book anyhow so what’s to be rewritten? Scribbled deliriously outside the lines and shredded to confetti before you could ever catch a glimpse, the album is frothy and fun, all swooning love songs, b-movie brawls and late night laments rolled in leather. The ranks of garage are legion these days and the best bits float along the top because you can practically feel the band having fun through the speakers, coaxing you out of your sad little funk and forcing those feet to move. For a dose of toughed up, take no shit Brill Building wrecking ball pop; you’d be remiss to look any further than Thee Tsunamis.


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Thee Oh Sees

Am I perpetually in a state of reviewing Oh Sees albums? Sometimes it feels like it. Even with that “hiatus” the band has an intimidating output, that at this time is getting tough to crack for new listeners. As with most of the band’s albums Mutilator Defeated At Last is rife with John Dwyer’s signature reverb howl, blasting through the fog of guitars like a pink neon blast from a toy ray gun. And though, like this, many hallmarks of Thee Oh Sees sound hang heavy on the album, it expands on the formula nicely. There’s a heavy freakout quality to the album making it feel more substantial than its thirty-three odd minutes. Dwyer’s been at this long enough that he’s trimmed some of the fat and left room only for a suite that punches furiously out of the gate with a sweet dip of cool water in the form of “Sticky Hulks” on the back half bringing the comedown. It feels like a study in how to make psych succeed. While The Drop was a surprise return last year, it doesn’t list among my essential Oh Sees, but Mutilator has climbed higher on the list than I’d thought so far into their catalog. Its here and gone before you realize and in true fashion, leaves you wanting to knock that needle back to the start.

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Blood Warrior

Psych-folk has seen a decline in the past few years since its welcome back to the fold in the early aughts, but some souls are still holding strong to the dark twists that knot the acoustic landscape. Blood Warrior creak down the path of English folk that’s haunted by the specters of Bert Jansch and Fresh Maggots. They’ve got a handle on the brooding and the melancholy, rolling in primitive hoofbeat drumming under the circular pick of strings and wheeze of harmonium. Their second album, Letter Ghost, is shrouded in dusk, every note seems to hang in that space between the slip of sun from horizon to oblivion. The album never rushes, instead letting the vapor of breath curl in the air around the notes in a way that’s affecting and fragile. Greg Jamie (O’Death) and Joey Weiss (Super Monster, Lazy River) are no strangers to the mossy corners of folk, but here they step away from their past projects to create something a little more intimate, a little more rooted in the soil. And by all accounts they succeed in creating a hollow of folk that seeps to the core.

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Swiftumz

Chris McVicker’s gauzy power pop may have slipped under your radar in the last few years. His first album, the sorely underrated Don’t Trip came out via Holy Mountain, more known for stoner metal than clean lines and upbeat sparkle. In the interim he’s let slip a few singles that also can’t help but put a sly smile on your face, bouncing out of the speakers on springs and pushing the clouds aside every time. So its great news that a second album is finding its way into the world on Melters.

Everybody Loves Chris follows along the path he’s trodden previously, dotting the album with some effervescent pop hooks but never getting caught in making that the sole focus. For every bit of jangle and every candy coated chorus there’s a track that’s caked in thick froth, shrouding any trace of sunny pop and finding joy in the dark corners of his catalog. The album twists itself into knots that earworm straight to your brain and take root. McVicker’s pop vision seems like the kind of album that would have reviewers flocking, a fucked pop nugget that can’t be contained or pinned down. Hopefully this time it’ll push through the surface and find that audience that it deserves.



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