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The Sound – Jeopardy

There are no shortages to be found rummaging through the piles of post-punk reissues these days and certainly, if you can’t find some Discogs originals, then there are some corners of your collection that can be fleshed out. The Sound’s debut is one of those albums that, once you hear it, seems like it’s been omitted from far too many necessities lists. The album was picked up on the strength of their first EP and Korova’s impressions of the demos. Dark in all the right ways and textured nicely with liberal washes of synth and a chugging debt to Krautrock, it explodes halfway through opener “I Can’t Escape Myself” and never really lets go. Even when the band isn’t tearing paint from the walls with guitar fury, the mid-tempo smolders are in line with the best of the decade and should appeal to Echo fans thinking they’ve reached the end of the line.

The album was critically lauded by NME, Sounds and Melody Maker but somehow failed to connect with audiences and despite a thoroughly excellent follow-up, From The Lion’s Mouth, the band never caught a foothold. In a story that’s far too common, the album wasn’t even released in the States at the time, only selling respectably at home and so it would languish on critics’ shelves alone. They’d soldier on though, a more forgiving time for bands to grow, and they would make five albums in total. The album serves as a nice jumping off point between punk and the burgeoning post-punk development. Sadly the band drifted out of music eventually, with exception of songwriter Adrian Borland, who worked as a producer until he took his own life in 1999. Sadder still, this was just before a campaign of reissues would have brought the band back into the light and love they sorely deserved.

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Walter

Walter is the side hustle of supporting members from Meatbodies, Ducktails and Sadgirl and they’ve tapped the vein of fuzz-hurled psych sludge that’s inhabited the bulk of garage since the firm of Segall and Dwyer put a lock on the sound a half decade or so back. They’ve got the right touchstones (catchy riffs, heavy distortion, frantic squall) and the right connections (opening a swath of dates for Fuzz this fall) to go the extra mile peddling gnashed wire tracks that puff out of your speakers like angry grey scribbles of sound. You’d be well right to say that perhaps this ground’s been covered but hell, around these parts, the more the merrier of this brand of sonic soup. The volume should be tipped to the right and you might as well open the windows and share with the neighbors, Get Well Soon is made for sharing.

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Hierophants

These chaps from Geelong have been a long time coming on this one, teasing with some singles, but finally cracking the egg wide open with Parallax Error. Cutting the swath down new wave’s long tail of influences, you’d be remiss not to notice the fingerprints of Mark Mothersbaugh littered on this one, but there’s plenty of room for Gary Numan via his Ultravox obsession and the quirkiness of The Buggles and Flying Lizard sprawled across those synth lines. That’s not to say that this sounds like an 80’s comp, rather that the band seems to have chewed on their fair share of pop laced outsiders and let the sound drive them to find their own antisocial corner to crawl in. There’s a Plasticine film pulled over the top of Parallax, refracting the light in angled shapes and making it hard to grip, but isn’t that just the fun part? Nothing here sticks easy, its catchy but catches in your throat just as often. A damn fine salvo from the South Hemi if I do say so.

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Six Organs of Admittance – Dust and Chimes

This one’s still a little fresh in the ears for this column, but what the hell the turn of this last century is probably further off than I want to admit. It seems just around the corner that the clock ticked 2000 and Ben Chasney was picking his way into a second album, emblazoned then with a washed out photo cover that’s replaced with a much more appropriate woodsy backdrop on the new version. Dark Noontide would forever be the moment when Chasney broke into a wider consciousness but this predecessor really brings him into his own and out of the sketchbook patterns of his debut. Its a lush album built on a love of raga and Fahey and feeling very much in line with the trend down psych-folk inroads at the time. Being that this was released in the vinyl desert years it only apeared on CD at the time, leaving fans of Ben’s catalog with a hole to fill on the turntable. But now Holy Mountain’s gotten this on the table and ready for psych fanatics the world over. Complete with a new video here for “Blue Sun Chiming” by Magik Markers’ Elisa Ambrogio.

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Together PANGEA

No lie, I think that the last full length from Together PANGEA was one of the most fun, deeply skewed and excellently rough-edged rock albums of the last ten years. It’s only with open arms that I’ll receive any new material from the band. William Keegan’s throaty rasp is on high power here, shredding skin as hard as guitar strings. It all comes from a similar arena as Badillac, loose woven pop songs that play the most of bombast but still feel fretted over, soaked in production that plays up their acumen for diving between fury and restrained quietude. Together PANGEA are a band that knows that passion passes for currency and they pour sweat and bone into their songs. This time around Tommy Stinson steps into the producer’s chair and while whatever nuance he’s adding seems fairly in line with the sound they’ve captured prior, I’m sure that the presence of frayed rock royalty can only serve to drive this further. It’s a stopover release, hopefully on the way to another full length, but still a pretty essential piece of their canon.

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Rabit

Houston based producer Rabit was folded into the Tri Angle roster with his EP Baptizm. The EP, along with his previous run of singles felt like a perfect match for the label’s band of otherworldly echoes.The label has always seemed like a beam in from a colder dimension, acerbic and mechanical but on the edge of whatever algorithm determines taste. That ethos and aesthetic envelop Communion, an album wrought with tension, like an organism coming to grips with itself from the inside out.

Slashed with noise and ballooning with dub bubbles that buoy R&B shards dismantled by remnants of techno; this feels like the haunted kin of drill n’ bass shot forward 60 years into the future and preferred as a daily soundtrack by inhabitants of some floating wasteland scrapyard. Which is to say it’s a perfect reflection of the political, sexual and social undercurrents that are all claimed as influences. It’s the seams of this world leaking into the next and for that we can all be grateful. This deserves volume, neighbor alienating volume and lots of it. So go work out some issues and make a few enemies who share your walls.

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Kelley Stoltz

Double Exposure was a fuller sounding Stoltz, proof that his life as a producer seeped well into his life as a songwriter. It hinted at the influences nagging him awake at night and the widescreen he could put them on, but where that album showed how bright Stoltz could shine, In Triangle Time shows how dark his corners are. Built on a taut bed of post-punk throb and an oil slick shimmer of new wave’s sheen, the album kicks up some dirt that was always rubbing off on his prior catalog. As in the past, it’s the details that make In Triangle Time stand out, the rubbery rumble of bass under “Jona,” the back to back psych warbles on “Crossed Mind Blues” and “You’re Not Ice.” The album’s a headphone wonderland, it lives well on the speakers but it dances through headphones like it was made for close company. For years he’s been lauded as the secret weapon of indie rock and with this album following up Double Exposure he’s made damn sure that his own name is above the marquee and not buried in the booklet. There’s no way this one doesn’t let its hooks grow deeper the colder the air turns, so make sure that come November is on your list.

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The Mantles

Ah man I’m such a sucker for the humid jangle of The Mantles. Coming pretty quick on the heels of both The Mantles’ previous record and a solo LP for Glenn Donaldson’s Fruits and Flowers label, one would think that Michael Olivares would be tapped out at this point. But, to the contrary, All Odds End seems to be just as stacked and stocked with catchy strums and unquenchable energy as ever. Maybe the introduction of new members Carly Putnam on Keys and Matt Bullimore on bass reinvigorated the driving forces. Its a more rhythmic record than perhaps they’ve produced in years past, but even more than that, its the clearest vision of The Mantles that’s ever come out of the studio. Could be the watchful eye of Jason Quever that’s helping here. The Papercuts leader was responsible for back catalog gem “Don’t Lie” and subsequently took over recording duties on this album. It seems that he and Olivares squeeze the best out of each other, the melodies and shades on All Odds End sparkle brighter than ever, wistful sighs given a lush field of color. If ever there was a perfect album to usher in the advent of sweater weather it might be this one. A pair of headphones and a brisk walk might be just the thing you need.

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Zipper – Zipper

Permanent Records comes in blazing on their 50th release, an essential bit of the Fred Cole catalog, the 1975 self-titled album from his hard rock band Zipper. In the midst of The Weeds, Cole had headed north, got stranded in Portland and met his fate in future wife and bandmate Toody. The band changed names to The Lollipop Shoppe, always an odd choice for such a hard-edged garage band (it seems their manager also managed The Seeds and thought the names were too similar). In the wake of those bands Cole and Toody headed to the Yukon to homestead and dropped out of music for a bit. On their return to Portland they founded Captain Whizeagle, Fred’s repair shop and the accompanying Whizeagle records. The label would release Zipper’s eponymous LP in ’75. The album is dirt caked and whiskey dipped, a hard-nosed bar band with definite proto-punk tendencies that would certainly manifest themselves in The Rats and Dead Moon. Cole’s is a long and storied career and this is a good piece of it to have back in print and on the shelves.

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Shannon and the Clams

Shannon Shaw’s voice is a lot of things; a lullaby, a force of nature, a time machine to the 60’s, a rallying cry for the heartbroken. On their latest album, Shaw is all those things and probably quite a bit more. The album is as crisp and clear as the band have ever sounded, finally kicking some of the hiss that plagued their recorded output and in the process its the most clearly indebted they’ve ever been to the girl group 60’s crooners that have undoubtedly served as some inspiration. The songs swing and pine with odes to love and loss but the real departure is that they’ve also pretty much shed their garage rock tag here. On Gone By Dawn Shannon and The Clams are a pop band through and through, albeit one that’s rocketed out of time and lodged themselves in the malt shop of your heart. And hell why not, Archie’s been reinvented for a modern era, perhaps there’s a kismet in this as soundtrack to the great American heartbreak. Perhaps its time to swoon again. If it is indeed time to wear a broken heart on leather sleeves, The Clams are there to help you cry and pick it all back up for another day.

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