Browsing Category New Albums

Mooner

Indonesian stoner metal isn’t a term that gets thrown around lightly in these parts. To be fair, its not a term I think I’ve ever thrown around up to this point, but given the thick billowing riffs on Mooner’s debut, it’s probably time to start exploring the rest of the Indonesian scene. The band is comprised Voltron style of members of existing Indo metal bands – The Sigit, Sigmun, The Slave, and Sarasvati. The music follows the tone of The Slave most closely and like that band the tracks from Tabiat were intended to back their own skate videos. The Slave/Mooner’s Absar Lebeh has been kicking around the skate world for some time actually which serves to explain why one of the only other US mentions of Mooner comes via Thrasher.

“So what does this all mean for me, the listener?”, you say. Well, the band is riding nimbus clouds of guitar bearing down on a ’70s Flower Travelin’ Band / Mountain / Blues Creation highway. In fact, with the prog-ripped backdrop propping up the cinder-psych vocals from Marshella Safira, the band draws a pretty good side by side to Blues Creation’s collaboration with Carmen Maki when BC are at their heaviest. Even more apt in the recent reissue box touchstones would be the still overlooked Hungarian psych goddess Sarolta Zalatnay if she might have lasted to front the New Wave of British Metal. Comparisons aside, though, Mooner are 100% killin’ the nu-prog vibes and reveling in what are sure to be stacked crates of their own heavy faves seeping into the sound. The band cites Indonesian bands AKA and Panbers, so probably best to start their for some real-world comparisons. High quality crushers abound on this one that should have their American stoner metal counterparts sweatin’ their game.



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Moon Duo

As the sequel, or rather, better half to their Occult Architecture Vol.1 from earlier this year, Vol. 2 acts as the softer side of the band’s motorik psych-punk universe. Where the first volume was steeped in anxiety, tension and darkness; the second volume is by turns blissful, celebratory even. Its still chugging along with a chainsaw grind and lysergic stabs of guitar via Ripley Johnson, but now the tone is relaxed and surprisingly languid. The albums form a duality or a complete picture, but taken on its own merits, Vol. 2 is still pushing into Moon Duo’s best work.

There are strums, I think perhaps a first for Moon Duo, or even Wooden Shjips’ catalog. There are genuine moments of resplendence, flipping the band’s Kosmiche switch from throb to fizz. The pair submerge into a milky bath of sound that’s pulsating with light and love and all the Springtime green feelings that may have eluded their grasp in the pursuit of Krautrock edge in the past. Instead, this is pure dreampop, a silken submergence into ionic bliss that can’t hold back its own giddiness. Sanae Yamada’s synths emerge as a key component here, floating in waves of magenta majesty primed to induce shudders in the listener. As part of the band’s Yin and Yang concept, this fills the bill nicely, but even left to its own devices, it’ll sate your hunger for higher consciousness grind for months to come.




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RVG

RVG is the overarching name for the Romy Vager Group. The short, but impressive A Quality of Mercy swims with visions of ’70s and’80s heroes, wandering through touches of The Go-Betweens, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Cure and Patti Smith. The album indulges heavily in the lush, dark-rimmed tones of The Bunnymen the hardest and Vager’s voice is a dead ringer for the smeared stylings of Ian McCulloch. She’s enmeshed in the extravagant gravity and widescreen approach that made the goth darlings such longstanding obsessions year over year.

The record borrows a silk-screen of style, to be sure, but that style is nothing without substance. That’s where the band pounds the anvil harder than most adopters of minor key moroseness and ringing guitars. They aren’t just wistful for the aesthetics, Vager digs into disenfranchisement, pleas for some scrap of understanding and does it with a stately dignity that can’t help but round back on her similarities to Patti Smith. As she sings it feels like the gravity in the room reorients itself to the speakers, and reportedly the effect is visited tenfold in the live setting, where the band have kept audiences in rapt attention.

Increasingly we’re in a return to long incubation periods, brought about by bands regaining the means to self-release and experiment over time before finding their footing. In that respect it’s rare to find one so firmly and forcefully formed. RVG are a band that knows exactly who they want to be and then simply pulls it off in a manner that feels effortless; crafting songs that hang on the rain like old favorites. If this is the beginning for RVG, then I, for one, can’t wait to see where they’re headed.




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Mountain Movers

New Haven’s Mountain Movers have been building out a homegrown psych scene since 2006, with releases swerving between hometown label Safety Meeting and their own Car Crash Avoiders imprint. Unless you’re digging into the New England psych pantheon rather heavily, this debut for Trouble In Mind might be their first blip into your world. The band has their psych credentials in order though, stretching out for a fourteen minute opener that flexes with tension and rains down a fair amount of feedback fallout.

The record doesn’t flag after the epic opener either, they flip the switch from walls of squall to echoplexed strums that hang on the air in icy tendrils. They pick up cues from the Nuggets set, but find a more languid purchase on “Everyone Cares,” a subdued standout that still finds time to chew a little fuzz. In fact, as the album progresses, their true strength seems to be balancing their ’60s jangle love with front row seats at Pompeii level burndown amp-friers. They’re always building to an entropy of noise release, but they spend some quality time getting to the punch in each of the tracks that adorn their eponymous LP. The band may have spent the past few years filling out local hangs, but this one might just raise their profile among heads looking for two sides of the of the psych coin packed into one platter.




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Taiwan Housing Project

As I may have mentioned when the first single hit, I’m thoroughly excited for the full bore return of Kilynn Lunsford, she of the sorely overlooked caustic rockers Little Claw. The singer returns with the first full length from Tawian Housing Projet, a sprawling post-punk noise collective she started with ex-Harry Pussy mainstay Mark Feehan. The band also pulls in members of Tyvek, Writhing Squares, Tickley Feather and Dan Melchior’s gang of garage punks. That lineup reads like an RSTB who’s who and as expected the band chews noise-spun frantic panic into a vital stew that dips the listener in a cauldron cradled acid bath of sound and squelch.

Taiwan Housing Project, like Little Claw before them, pulls the same slight of hand shuffle; brutalizing at first blush with dented and demented guitars, clattering percussion and a free jazz hazing ritual of horns, but dig further and the sonic debris disguises some of the most solid pop hooks to find their way crawling out of the post-punk puddle in 2017. Lunsford and Feehan plug straight into a high-functioning wavelength that channels the B-52s if they’d relocated to New England and stapled their house-party punk to Sonic Youth’s tornado of feedback. Atop this ragged and glorious din, Lunsford howls, swoons, gnaws and accuses as if she’s the heir apparent to Poly Styrene’s crown of thorns.

The LP follows on a promising EP from M’lady’s last year, but after hearing Velben Death Mask those tracks seem like preamble to the main event. The record is as bracing, breathless and acerbic as anything you’re likely to hear this year and it’s jockeying heartily for the top spot as one of the best of 2017. In an age that’s more likely than ever to see labels softening their signings to fit into a narrowed view of consumer acceptance and exposure through licensing, it’s reassuring to know that Kill Rock Stars is still out there ignoring commercial appeal in exchange for immortality. This is the kind of record that grows in legend with years to come – a miss it now and kick yourself kind of noise gem that winds up collector’s fodder and fan lore. This is the real thing.




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Wooden Wand

Perhaps there has been no more steady hand guiding Raven Sings the Blues than the presence of James Toth’s Wooden Wand. Since the site began in 2006, there have been myriad releases from Toth and as I’ve changed, so has the music of Wooden Wand blossomed from noise experiments with The Vanishing Voice, to psych-folk’s crowning glory and on into a pure distillation of Americana that rings far from the hollow brand of weekend alt-country that so many Brooklyn pickers would adopt fecklessly over the years. No, Toth has always been independent music’s poet laureate, whether he’s got the onion skin to prove it or not, we all know its true.

On Clipper Ship, his first album in three years (a relative dearth in terms of Toth’s output), he crafts an album that puts the musical heft ahead of the lyrical focus. A groundswell of his fellow craftsmen have found their way to the studio for this dragging the net from Glenn Kotche (On Fillmore, Wilco) and Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine) to Zak Riles (Watter, Grails) and sought after sidemen Luke Schneider (Margo Price, JEFF The Brotherhood, Natural Child) and Jim Elkington (Tweedy, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn). The songs jut out from the piers of Fahey and Basho and then tumble into endless buzzing drones and blissful hums. Stripped of the words this would rival any Scissor Tail release for acoustic dominance.

Though that’s not to discount the lyrics on Clipper, they’re as literate and as personal as ever, lending the album Toth’s own brand of rural mesquite, a woodsiness that flecks each song with a mouthful of smoke. In his aim to construct an album that stands alone on it’s instrumentation, he’s succeeded and then some. Combined, however, the instrumental acumen and lyrical quality push this towards one of Toth’s finest releases. The lyrics suggest a haunted America; full of murder ballads and codeine comedowns for a generation adrift and reaching, grasping and grappling with truths that seem to grow less plausible every day. Toth has said that in the wake of 2016’s political heft, he may slow down output, not wanting to add to a glut of musical content out there. But if the spigot slows and each new release is of this caliber, then I’m on board for the wait.




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Robedoor

Somehow it feels prescient that Robedoor have returned with a load of anxiety crusted psychic fallout in the midst of 2017. What could convey the looming cloud of dread and disgust better than L.A.’s preeminent purveyors of noise rattled knuckle biters? Britt and Alex Brown took a devil’s sojourn of four years between their last noise nugget and New Age Sewage, ostensibly so that Britt could focus on his noise/dance empire of Not Not Fun and 100% Fun, but it seems like old times on the new album.

The record is, well let’s not say cleaned up, but somehow there’s a clarity to their vision of hi-bias distortion paranoia. It’s booming through louder than ever, but while the tape hiss may have tempered, the fountain of filth keeps flowing as steadily as ever. Sickly swaying through a wasteland of rusted metal beats and radiation vibe synths, the record is slightly less evil than they’ve felt in the past, but no less apocalyptic. This time around they seem to be less the purveyors of ritual blood lust and more the reflecting pool of what they see around them. In any year, Robedoor feel like a scream into the abyss, but this year, we’re screaming with them.




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Premiere: In Zaire

Italian space-rock quartet In Zaire step up for their second record on Sound of Cobra and expand their horizons further into the upper reaches of the ionosphere. The record is floating on a Hawkwind high stitched to an intense tribal rhythm section that snatches the ever expanding tones back down to the dirt ridden Earth. The band’s fortitude stems from dipping buzzing drones in a bath of Kosmiche roil then lighting it up with a Molotov cocktail explosion of guitar spreading psychedelic wildfire scattering to the winds.

The band paints in heavy strokes of cosmic fury, running the guitars through enough hardware to find a sound that befits the universe collapsing in on itself. Largely left to the instrumental realm, Visions of Age To Come taps the fear and wonder that have bled into the works of Ash Ra Temple and Acid Mothers endless iterations before them. Check out the album in full below and experience the vortex of sonic slurry that’s taken shape thanks to the good folks over at Sounds of Cobra. The album is out May 2nd.


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Mythic Sunship

Admittedly it’s been a good year for psych, with plenty of releases edging their way up into album of the year territory. Now there’s another one to add to the list, Copenhagen’s Mythic Sunship brings crushing doom-psych vibes on their second album for El Paraiso. The album is built around two extended cuts pushing past the 13-minute mark and using every second to build an aura of creeping dread. They touch through the same scorched valleys as contemporaries Hills or The Cosmic Dead, but they seem to push further into a taut, propulsive landscape of slow simmer psychedelics. Mythic Sunship also takes a cue from prog in their ability to ‘world-build’ the songs into instrumental narratives that rise and fall with eddies of calm that lead into nighttime raids of incendiary guitar.

Lying in wait under one of El Paraiso’s trademark hand-painted sleeves courtesy of Jakob Skøtt, it’s an all around beautiful package from design to aural heft. Perhaps the best litmus of how heavy the band hits, though is who they’ve been playing with. A resume of opening slots for the likes of Träd Gräs och Stenar, Moon Duo and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard doesn’t speak lightly about their ability to level an audience. They harness the feedback fuzz, the metal stomp bass and tank tread thunder of drums and they’re doing it with a dark entropy that’s heads above many who step into this genre. Where most would skew too stark or too flashy, the band balances restraint and power in equal fistfuls. For my money, you’re gonna be hard pressed to find another album quite as devastating and nuanced this year.




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Mt. Mountain

Perth’s Mt. Mountain stretch out heavier and headier than ever before with a record that evokes the endless stretches of outback, scorched earth futures and shamanistic auras. The record opens with a crusher, the 17+ minute “Dust” that builds from a parched stumble into a storm of guitar fury, ominous flutes and feedback swirl. The track anchors the record. It’s a tempest that guides the album, harnessing their soft touch of desolation and the kill switch quick change of noise and power that they have at the ready.

The rest of the album doesn’t necessarily crouch in the shadows, though. They continue to mine the desolate squalls of Barn Owl and Earth, dip into a quavering well of shimmer psych that owes no small favers to Japan’s psychedelic past and then marry it all to a comedown cascade that recalls mid-00s psych with a softer touch along the lines of The Occasion. The band’s been building steam steadily, but one gets the sense that this is where they’ve been headed. Dust is Mt. Mountain cracking through the veil of rote psychedelia and into the branch that’s reserved for those vibrating at a higher frequency. This is where the journey begins and, if you’re unfamiliar, where you should as well.




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