Browsing Category New Albums

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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Warm Soda

Rather impressively, Matthew Melton has not one, but two records slated for the next couple of months. First up, he sends his tenure i Warm Soda off in style, delivering a fourth platter of faded yet sugar shaken power pop that proves he’s a man who’s done his homework time and again. Melton set out to run Warm Soda as an ode to those soft crushes in power pop – The Quick, Milk n’ Cookies, Shoes, Hubble Bubble – and as always he delivers that pining pop swoon with the kind of devotion to form that’s usually lost under lesser ambitions. Melton has assembled four albums that spin themselves out like a one man Yellow Pills and it’ll be sad to see him set it aside.

That said, four albums in the arms of lavender punk seems about right. It can be a hard genre to work through without repeating oneself, which probably explains why most of the original class of Power Pop High only churned out one or two before toughening up or calling it quits. Melton himself has already found himself in garage punk’s embrace (Snake Flower 2) and the leathered lock of glam-ignited punk (Bare Wires) so the road to toughing up feels closed. In a move no one expected he’s actually taking a tack into prog territory with his new Dream Machine project out next month. Before that though, it’s one more romp through the jukebox speakers, serving up a xeroxed dream of the the past that’s always been as strangely sweet as it is inescapably infectious.




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Woods

Like many, Woods turned to art and music to process their feelings following the fallout of 2016. Love is Love was recorded in the two months following last year’s election. It feels, and for all intents and purposes, acts as a companion piece to their 2016 album City Sun Eater In The River of Light. Love is Love employs some of the same notes of brass and fuller orchestration, the band itself swollen to six members for the recording. The contrast comes in the tone of the recordings. Oddly, the album that preceded the regime change was darker and a bit more foreboding, whereas this record seems to turn to hope rather than the anger that could, and has often been the reaction.

The majority of the songs on the album speak to an optimism that doesn’t feel naive or tone deaf, rather it’s a message of hope through the dark. They’re clearly acknowledging that a lot of people feel fear and anger and confusion and ultimately lost, but that out of those feelings springs community. The core of Love is Love is a feeling that we can all lean on one another and try to exit the other side of the next four years as better listeners, better friends, better lovers, better parents, better children.

Obviously that message only speaks to how you conduct yourself. There’s a lot that’s out of our hands and that anxiety hangs over the instrumental track “Spring Is In The Air,” an almost ten-minute bout of paranoia and psychedelic anxiety. Woods prove that even their own philosophy of love as the weapon can’t curtail all the external forces. It’s unclear how the concept of America will change – to us, to others, to those that see themselves as winning back or losing their own internal convictions of what country and community mean. As the weeks and months following our own blunder have proven, it’s unclear whether others will follow the same roads or choose the steady hand over reactionary change. For all those questions, Woods don’t have answers, but they have hope and that’s not a terrible start. Someone said that poor administrations mean the art gets better. I don’t for a second take that as consolation, and besides, the art was always good, it’s just a bit more resonant now and maybe we’re paying a bit more attention.




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Kikagaku Moyo

It’s hard to suppress a smile with the news Kikagaku Moyo is back for another round on the speakers so soon after their lush masterpiece House In The Tall Grass landed last year. The previous album has hardly left the turntable around here and while the stopgap EP, Stone Garden, is a leap away from the pastoral tranquility that rounded out House, it serves as a call back to their more improvisational beginnings. The EP was carved out of freeform sessions in Prague, finding their way home to refined versions back in Tokyo. The first shot out of the gate rattles the listener out of the comfortable cocoon Kikagaku Moyo left us in. It’s a fuzz riddled stalk through the night with an air of danger dialed in.

Tonally they don’t embrace the menace, though, as they return to buzzing drones and winding sitars by the time the second track “Nobakitani rolls around. Each of the five tracks shows off a side of the band’s psychedelic fortitude – from instrumental fry to languid pools of acoustic shimmer and driving psych buckshot. Naturally, this is not as complete a statement as House In The Tall Grass, but it’s brevity is no discount to the band’s ability to wield tumultuous rhythm and crystalline serenity in equal measure. This isn’t the band’s next great leap, but it’s a pretty nice piece of their overall puzzle.




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