Browsing Category New Albums

Wymond Miles – Call By Night

On his third solo album for Sacred Bones, Wymond Miles pares back his sound while delving deep into the heart of pain and past with traumas both new and old. The album calls back to Miles’ youth in small working class towns, a side of America that’s been thrust into the light of day harder than ever this year. For those that grew up in the heartland among the flat expanses, endless highways and smell of carbide deeply ingrained into every fiber of life, its a bleak reminder as Miles unfolds a life less charmed in blistering black and white. For Miles, his towns lie further to the West than the rust belt ruts of my own youth. A land of promise from the turn of the century on, offering endless vistas and a life less managed and just as often offering a life less fruitful and quietly suffocating. Its a landscape that was built up high and only had further to fall from grace. Like the American South, the West has its billboard towns and vacation centers but on the other side of any vacation town lie those who’d love nothing more than for their tenure in town to end.

Call By Night touches on war’s human scars and youth’s permanent marks, and in his framing, Miles backs off a touch on the overt touches of Echo and the Bunnymen that have swathed his earlier records. There’s still a grandeur to this one, but its stripped clean and simple, like wire ready to be harnessed to a spark. Miles’ voice is up close and booming in your ears like an accusation. The songs are sparse, not to the point of being empty, but unfettered in a way that gives them a bigger punch when he unlooses his demeanor. The tension is thick, like the wounds never healed, feeling as if he picks at the bandage it might all unravel. And sometimes it does, such as when he burns the world down on the devastating centerpiece “Divided In Two.” He’s been an integral part of Fresh & Only’s dark pop corners and it seems that after his sophomore album he almost packed it in, but as Call By Night can attest, its a good thing he had another one to get out of him. This is Miles at his best and a boon to those souls curled under the covers waiting for the dawn to come each day.

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ORB

OK lets get it out of the way quickly, ORB sound a lot like Sabbath. I mean they have the early catalog on full repeat, day and night. They’re feeling the doom of Iomi and the dread of Osbourne in their marrow. But, you know what, screw it, they’re doing it right. If you’re going to go down the Sabbath rabbit hole, you better know how to handle that gas mask groove and you better be able to bring the low end like a boot to the neck. In that respect, this Geelong gaggle are doing doom-psych like it was their birthright. They stretch it out, kick up the maggots below the soil and don’t make this feel like a night at headbanger’s karaoke. They know that the speedier sections of Paranoid were fun, but the times when the band touched on prog, that’s when they were gathering the true clouds of doom. ORB has been behind the wall of sleep and they’ve dug up the bodies buried there.

It doesn’t hurt that Birth comes with a triple (quadruple?) pedigree backing it up. The man behind ORB is Zak Olsen, also of Geelong punks Hierophants and the album was recorded by Aussie heavy Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring), putting his stamp on the sound and shattering the very last bong in your cabinet with van rattling authority. He then kicks it over to King Gizz’ label Flightless on the home turf and completing the circle, its found a home at Castle Face in the US. This thing’s been making eyes at your girlfriend for the last twenty minutes and its moral compass is merely waiting for you to get up for a beer before it slinks in like the creep asleep in the back row of your Trig class. Shit, its a wonder this thing doesn’t come loaded in a shag shrouded package with pop-up quadraphonic. Essentially this album is the living embodiment of the second Bassmobile and that’s alright by me.


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Tangents

This one had me at the connection to Triosk, Aussie post-rock from back on the Leaf label that always used to make me smile. Ex-member Adrian Lim-Klumpes is on board here along with a host of other post-everything players who know that a good skittering beat and mash of jazz, electronic and folk can still nail down some import even past the meteoric rise of that ethos around the early aughts. Stateless embodies its title. It doesn’t seem to have a full allegiance to any of its disparate parts, but they come together nicely to provide an instrumental electronic album that’s got a nice sense of movement an that indebtedness to jazz that sticks just right. It always feels good in post-rock when that jazz element is just bubbling below the surface and not swinging wildly at the face. In that respect, the band’s been looser in the past, moving into a studio setup here, they feel buttoned down but not overly burdened by planning. This is one of those albums that’s great for getting shit done, its an active background, and honestly I mean that probably more complimentary that it sounds.

Sure you could crank the stereo and listen to Stateless in rapt attention, and maybe there are those that will, but this is the kind of album that headphones were made for; headphones meant to be taken out into the world. Its a blanket to wrap around the movement of others and a bed for thought. Personally, I’ve always appreciated an album like that. We all want someone to notice our nuances, but I’d say that its just as high praise to let others block out the noise and move brain cells in the right direction.



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GØGGS

In hindsight there’s no shortage of “supergroups” that Ty Segall’s been involved in. The current version of the Muggers is stacked so high with garage talent that its a wonder there’s any brevity to Emotional Mugger. At the time of it’s release, a collaborative record with Tim Presley from White Fence wasn’t marked by the same stigma it would be now, given both artists’ elevated status, and same could be said for his freakout fuzz platter with Mikal Cronin. Suffice it to say that most of the people that the man gathers around himself could be considered for supergroup status and Fuzz is pretty much in the same category now anyhow. However, GØGGS is the first to really get the flag hoisted high over its head and one that lives up to the expectations that sticker supports. Its the hardest sound yet from a Segall orbiting body and that’s largely because while Ty is in the ring, its Ex-Cult’s Chris Shaw who provides the driving force and evil-eyed core of the band’s sound.

Fans of Ex-Cult have plenty to chew on here but for my money GØGGS is the pure distillation of where Shaw was headed with that band. Thicker, grimier and flecked with freaked out forms that may have spilled over from Moothart and Segall’s work together earlier this year; GØGGS is a testament to shaking up your lineup from time to time and finding the friends who know how to kick out the shaggiest shit from your dirtbag soul. There’s no fear in GØGGS, its a howler monkey pinned to corner and eager to bring the fight. In a year that’s been packed with garage greats, this one’s the biggest trash can fire of the bunch; raging out of control, jagged and dangerous. Its peak Ty, peak Shaw and peak Mootheart. If Emotional Mugger is the punch to the throat of 2016, then this is the finishing kick.



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Terry

Bottom line is, coming out of Aussie pop’s jangled jungle, anything with Al Montfort attached is a solid bet and you know what, Terry doesn’t break that streak. Montfort’s been attached to Total Control, Dick Diver, Lower Plenty and Bitch Prefect – all of which have found their way into RSTB’s heart over the years. For Terry, Al hooks up with a few other luminaries of the Aussie underground, that scene being nothing less than incestuous and reveling in swapping members between bands at ease. The resulting record, after a few singles and whatnot, is loose and jangled, with toughskinned knees. Its roughed up and kicking in the dirt. There’s a driving sense, a pop itch that nags at your brain and finds the lobes nodding along uncontrollably. And yet they also cover their songs in a nice slash and soak of noise that keeps any jangle from getting remotely close to precious. The squelch knocks the post-punk playthings into the no-wave yard for a bit but never stays put. They sway to the jangle-pop muses but destroy what’s beautiful before you catch them playing too nicely.

For fans of any of Montfrot’s catalog, or even member Amy Hill’s tenure in Constant Mongrel there’s a lot to love here. Terry is splitting the difference between the angled scrapes of Total Control and the college-sweatered pop of Dick Diver. Terry HQ kicks hard to the shins and it doesn’t entirely play fair. Its the kind of record feels like its been sitting in a bin waiting to be discovered. It’s not of this time, but at the same time, when besides 2016 could this kind of blistered blast be so acclaimed? So for that, I’m grateful. Listen in to this tangled nest of a record and find a new weave each time. There’s a lot of ragged joy to absorb here.



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Omni

Atlanta band Omni keep their love of the Verlaine/Quine guitar axis close to their heart and that heart even closer to their sleeve. The band is flipping through wiry, vein pulsed post-punk like they were brought up on little else in their formative years. All the songs on their debut, Deluxe are bent and battered into metal shapes, though its their vocals that betray their new wave nods under the veneer of true grit punk spirit. Frankie Broyles’ delivery has a bit of dreamy-eyed wistfulness that gives the album a less rough sheen and an aproachability. They also walk it further away from the source material near and dear to their heart, feeling less like trying on your punk Halloween costume and more like a fitting digestion of the intervening years of post-punk and new wave hangover.

The aesthetic choice to rough up the edges on this one seems a bit misplaced. I know that it was recorded in a practice space, and for that its actually pretty crisp, but there’s an underlying crackle and crunch that feels out of place for the sound that they’re going for. For all its DIY aspirations, this specific pocket of the punk canon never felt an affinity for low fidelity. If its a matter of budget, then so be it, but since they are nailing this kind of homage rather bitingly, its feels deserving of a clear bullhorn. There are plenty that are trying to take the run at post-punk authenticity and plenty more that will pick up the itch, but this is a pretty prime example of how to do it right.




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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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