Browsing Category New Albums

Slick!

The force of glam runs strong through Slick! and that’s probably because Nick Slick has spent his tenure in quite a few acolytes of the glittered stomp, trading time in Glitz, Apache and backing The Runaways’ Cherrie Currie for a time. In the wake of Glitz’ demise he’s back with a new outlet for 70’s riffs taller than a triple stack and pulling a spot on sweat tribute to his forebears. Yeah yeah yeah, I know, what the world needs is another glam punk band like it needs another pothole, but I say, hell if you can bleed leather and rock the alter of Alice Cooper and The Sweet with equal aplomb then more power to you. The album’s a full tilt, dance inducing slice of sex obsessed rock ‘ roll and its easy to see how this is a close sibling of Glitz’ Its Glitz. Though in a way it also reminds me of Cozy’s Button by Button an album that knew that bubblegum lies at the heart of glam. The frothy organ lines that thread their way through a few tracks find the band tripping on that excellent tipping point when rock took itself less seriously again and glam found its childish heart and sense of swagger. For an album only available as 500 run cassette, this has a huge sound and its the kind of album that luck should stick permanently in the deck of your ’87 Escort. Blowin’ lights with Slick! on the speakers seems a natural fit.





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Ty Segall

So Segall ropes in a huge crew of ringers on his latest collection, Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), Mikal Cronin, Emmett Kelley (The Cairo Gang), Charles Moothart (Meatbodies), Cory Hanson & Evan Burrows of Wand and Melvins Drummer Dale Crover, each one a holding a record nerd’s pedigree in their own right; and together they make exactly the kind of case study in explosive, yet powerful rock that you might think that they’d unearth. What’s maybe missing, is perhaps any of that polish that found its way to the forefront of Ty’s last record. Here he’s going for a barbed wire aura that puts listeners on their haunches from the get go, grinding through the dirt rather than working to nod heads and let the teens bop. The cast of characters on display are torn from some similar territory from past releases, all matter of loners and speckled creepers, but now it seems that the disconnection they inspire is intentional and perhaps crucial, as the core of his “emotional mugging” stems from the electronic barriers of social feeds and the constant filter of glowing screens.

The first half of the record cuts the flesh and licks a few wounds, barreling through Television, Beefheart and Voidoids machinations if they were blown through the filter of Chrome and throttled a few turns in the vice of MX-80. The second half opens up its scope, though its still got an evil hangover of guitar gnash that keeps it at arm’s length from the glittered pop of Manipulator. This is one for the true grit, those who’ve come as much for the hooks as for the blown cone ethos. In a way, this whole album reminds me of one of Segall’s greatest tracks, “My Sunshine,” a shot over two minutes of melted wire fury with a caramel center of melody that makes it uncomfortable in its own skin while still making you smile every time. Who knows if this mask will stay on long, but for now this is an enjoyable bit of squirm from one of the modern masters of string wrangled fury.

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Night Beats

Night Beats are back, steadily threading the needle of psych and garage with a strand of soul that’s just fine enough to get lost in the clamor while still tying things up nicely. The band’s climbed up to a larger label and a bigger sound, though still genuinely on the same general path they’ve been weaving along all these many years. The record opens on a cryptic note before exploding into the ravaged psych of “Power Child,” one of the standouts of the set. As is typical of Night Beats, while there’s a certain amount of sweat (see “No Cops”), there’s plenty more instances where the band lays back into groove, letting a dark, smokey veneer overlay the record like a pervading ethos. The band knows how to keep their garage dipped and dripped in the low hang of stage fog, swaddled in sunglasses and baking in leathers in the 90 degree heat without so much as a break in stride to acknowledge there might be any cause for discomfort. They’re longstanding dues payers to the cult of composed cool and for the most part they know how to wield that cool like a weapon throughout Who Sold My Generation. Most garage long players are best when taken to task on the hi-fi speakers but the grotto nuance here actually finds this album best set on headphones or confined to the car; its a loner’s record and it’s best to keep it contained. Let the outside world wonder what’s moving your head.

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The Silence

Masaki Batoh’s post Ghost exhibits haven’t always hit on the same hallowed ground that the band prowled in its heyday. But with two releases in 2015 under The Silence moniker, he seems to be finding some footing that strikes closer to the heart. Its the second of these that’s really the sanctuary for those missing the mournful psychedelia that Ghost seemed to snatch out of the mists. Hark The Silence begins with a three part suite called Ancient Wind and the dirgey pace, wails of gong and wind sheared flute should all feel a bit familiar to those who’s ’90s collections held a few spots for Japanese psych among the grunge flooded fields. The suite is definitely the centerpiece and highlight of the album, a reminder of why Batoh has earned his place in a pantheon that’s rife with Eastern guitar slingers but there are some bright spots outside of the opening blows of Hark… as well. The band shines when they push past the ten minute mark, proving that the live incarnation is probably their true form, but at least finding a way to capture the storm to a fairly tangible form on tape. In part this feels like a true return and its nice to know that there will always be a home for squall wizards out there, but its also made me reach for the the familiar arms of Ghost’s catalog, proving that some legacies cast a long shadow that’s hard to shake.

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Sheer Agony

Montreal’s Sheer Agony wrap their power pop swagger in the geek pop charms of forefathers the DBs and The Soft Boys, jamming as many jitters as hooks into their shaggy pop tracks. Masterpiece might be a boastful title but there’s a definite overflow of charm inherit in this baker’s dozen of pixelated pop. Standout single “I Have a Dream” treads the same angular neon puddles that Brooklyn’s undersung heros Punks on Mars waded through. and the band knows how to play up hearstring crush to a glowing swell when need be. They’ve certainly bought the texts and taken the tests, and for what its worth their marks are good. But that crinkled weird streak that twists through the dreamboat strums will always leave them pining and preening for the horn rim set more than the kids at the cool table and maybe that’s just the way they like it. From the circular spin of “I Used To Be Darker” to the inky currents riding the tails of “Fizzical Lime,” balanced by the clipped psych-pop endings of “Literary Arts,” they have a firm hand on the pop parlance and wind their way through a good bit of territory while still keeping that power pop badge front and center. A nice outing for the fledgling Couple Skate and a bit of a snoozed on gem from the past year all together.

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Quilt

Three records in, Quilt are still busing down the country highways and finding ways to capture the sunset in musical interludes. Plaza is glazed in their constant laid back approach, feeling as if all tension just kind of melts at the touch of the needle to the groove. There’s a bit more clarity perhaps on this record, a sheen that’s not so much crystalline as it is honey-dipped and light from behind like an amber suncatcher. Fittingly written in transit; Baltimore, Jersey, Upstate New York, the album has the feeling of skyline stretching to the dipped horizon, with the blurred hum of images floating past out the car windows. There’s a breezy billowiness to pretty much everything that Quilt touches, something like summer sea air faintly blowing off of the set of songs that tinges the album with that hangover of wanderlust that follows vacations. The group’s voices meld as if they were candle warmed and melted, never straining to find their fit together and though there’s certainly a debt to be paid to the 60’s folk rock forbears, they’ve picked up the mantle and found their footing among the strongest of that canon. Jarvis Taveniere again rears his head in the production chair and he’s quickly proving to be the secret ingredient to effortless sounds in 2016. I can’t tell if its a damn shame that the endless summer of Plaza arrives in the chilly confines of February, on one hand it feels ill suited but on the other, it feels like just what’s needed to tide us all over until greener times.

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Gate

Michael Morley takes the easily digestible disco frivolities of Saturday Night Fever and delves a few levels darker into the heart of the beast that lives in the characters off the floor. Permeated with the skeletal thrust of the film’s score, his album of the same name starts out with click-snap drumbeats and horn stabs that seem fitted for the the lighted floor and glint of gold chains under mirrored balls. But quickly on in opener “Asset” Morley lets the furious rush of substances take over the lens. The veins pulse as foreign bodies enter the bloodstream, leaving those beats and horns to get rack panned to the background and to just the distorted crush of noise and dance enter the brain en masse. The blur sets hold and the belly of Saturday Night Fever ends up more fever dream than breezy night out. There’s a sweaty anxiety that balances perfectly above those catchy dance touches, fighting and letting go in equal measures. By the end its hard to remember what happened, to place those snatches of melody stuck in your brain outside of the pounding char of the thick blows of steel wool guitar. Morley is no stranger to noise in its purer forms, having spent a number of years in The Dead C, but this is more subversive. Its a record that finds the chaos behind dance and gives life to it, gives it a tangible shape and a name. That voice that whispers in your ear to dance until the fight either goes out of you or comes to you, that’s the raw heart of Saturday Night Fever. But just as nights come to a close so does Morely draw the album to a comedown pitch that slows the heartbeat and lets some clarity fill the ears. Its hard to find a better cleanse than Gate offers here.

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The Lavender Flu

Chris Gunn shared time in two undeniably great, though never celebrated enough bands, The Hunches and Hospitals. His new endeavor, Lavender Flu isn’t as noisy as the latter or as shambledown cathartic as the former, but he and the band are jumping in both feet first with widescope ambitions on Heavy Air. The double LP debut swims through psychedelic bogs that are shaggy and caked with fallout fuzz in places and burst out with bold pop statements in the next instant. Stitched together with a ragged twine of thought, the album could prove exhausting to the uninitiated, but those who’ve found room for Gunn’s brand of veiled pop bombast will find Easter Eggs aplenty throughout this release. Out of the clamor and clash rise some beautiful moments of folk pop like “Those That Bend” or “My Time,” both cuts that wouldn’t seem out of place cozying up to some Elephant 6 disciples. Hell, the whole record would fit in with the Collective’s vibe of sun-streaked psych mixed with “Green Typewriters” style experimentation and for the cadre of listeners out there looking for that heady stew, look no further, Lavender Flu’s world is a dense rabbit hole worth exploring and re-exploring. Plenty of psychic fallout to tide you ’til Springtime.

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EZTV

Said it before and I’ll say it again, January always acts as a cleanup of what was so sorely forgotten in the crush of year-end nonsense and in that mindset its with sorrow that I’m just now getting a chance to delver further into this EZTV album. With nods down the line of 70’s radio rock that spans from Todd Rundgren to the softer shadows of Cheap Trick, the band more often channels those playing in the wake of those pop princes. They mold the earnestness of Shoes with the instant likability of Chris Wilson-era Flamin’ Groovies to instantly arrive formed as successors to their brand of crystalline pop. The band went into the studio with 30 tracks and shaped and shaved them with the help of Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere and while each and every song doesn’t jump out of the speakers and into your nagging subconscious, collectively the album feels fully realized and perfectly nuanced. Each and every listen brings a new favorite to the fore and its plain to see that the band is more interested in making a lasting impression than fleeting infatuation. Calling Out isn’t fancy, it isn’t pushing the paradigm of pop forward. It is however an excellent study in keeping things simple and knowing exactly who you are and where you come from. It’s a love letter to classic American pop albums and one that hits all the right points to put you in its sway.

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Lame Drivers

Another scoop up from the detritus of last year. New York’s Lame Drivers are cracking into the power pop canon with the fortitude of seasoned vets, boiling down Phil Seymour riffs, Paul Collins’ workingman charm and the incessant fizz of The Shoes. Though, to say that the band is tumbling completely down the Yellow Pills path would be a bit remiss. They fracture the seeds of power pop through the eras that followed, finding their way through fuzz-caked 90’s stacks and some complex psych-pop touches that seem primed for Elephant 6 sycophants. The album finds its balance while keeping that kernel of fun squarely at the center of attention. Chosen Era barrels out of the garage, cylinders primed and with those 70’s touchstones hanging from the mirror, but they cool down to some nice shaggy 90’s-isms by the mid section, just to shake out the limbs, and before long they’re back on track to set your pulse racing. With a mixed team laying this one down (primarily Matt Tong of Bloc Party fame and Travis Harrison along with some self recording in the mix) it works out to be rather cohesive in its final run. There were some pretty heavy power pop contenders in 2015 and while this may not touch Barreracuda’s plastic snap n’ crackle, its a worthy contender for time on your speakers.

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