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Century Palm

Ok its been far too long since I’ve done a singles post, so its good to be back in the cut with a double shot from Century Palm. The band features members of RSTB faves Ketamines and Dirty Beaches. The title track burns with a kind of garage / glam swagger reaching back to some ’77 vibes that only thicken and darken on the flip side where they wander into the noisy alleys of post-punk with nods to Bauhaus covers of bands like T. Rex and Bowie or The Sound at their more desperate and vicious. “Valley Cyan’s” insistent beat makes for a perfect pick-me-up coupled with woozy keys and guitars that are probably screaming for a windmill strum. Both tracks hint at (hopefully) more to come from this Canadian outfit, and to be honest this is hitting me right in the sweet spot, as I’ve been running down a welcome look back through some post-punk nostalgia of late. This follows well on last year’s Century Palm EP, a grip of tracks in similar vein that work as more than just playlist fodder. Hell the band even roped in Mikey Young on mastering. Seems like a whole lot of reasons to pick this up and that EP if you missed it last year.


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Wand

Wand are turning out to be rather prolific, eh? Third album on the way, second of the year and its proving to be just as packed with heady fuzz, psych weirdness and that sulfur burn sound that’s made them one of our favorites over the past couple of years. This time they don’t just barrel headlong into gravy thick riffs though, there’s a nod to the heaviness and hooks and then the band tumbles into caverns of echo that sound like they’ve been spending some time with A.R. and Machine’s 1972 opus Echo. After they climb out of the chasm they take a left turn towards Barrett-laced psych-folk that fits them quite well.

But while the detours are nice and make for a well rounded album, its a welcome return to testing the tensile limits of your speaker covers as they go for some jugular crushing, exorcism rousing riffs on the back half, bringing plenty of evil vibes floating over the veil. They bring it all down with one of the sweetest sounding cuts they’ve written to date, a perfect mix of sweet pastoral strums and soaring grandiosity that show Tame Impala and Temples how its done. Bu while those bands borrow from the book of niceties in psych, Wand find a few more ways to blend the weirdness of prog with the heavy boots of metal (just like Sabbath told ya) and come out a bit more fun and a whole lot louder. Perhaps you’re asking if your vinyl shelf needs another Wand record this year. The answer is, of course, that it definitely does.

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Gnoomes

UK label Rocket Recordings is mostly known for their heavier exploits, gargling on guitar fumes and the occasional tonal drift of Gnod. So the opening strums of Gnoomes album Ngan! come as a bit of a shock, though mind you only in context. The album eases into the monster that is “Roadhouse,” the fifteen minute opener that begins with a sweet lope, a nod to Neu and some shrouded vocals before bridging in some of that guitar fire that we’ve all been expecting since the Rocket logo stamped the back. But that’s about as rowdy as this one gets. The Russian band is from the far off city of Perm, literally translated to “Faraway Land” due to its proximity to Moscow and its history of being used for exile; and the band use their isolation well, tuning into a sense of amplified wonder that comes across in the band’s longform workouts. They tighten up ever so slightly for middle tracks “Myriads” and “Moognes” both workable bits of psych pop that swoon more than growl, and then it’s back to another stretch on closer “My Son.” The band are definitely most comfortable pushing the boundaries of their gauzy pop to the edges and its apparent that this record was built for the live setting. It’ll probably be pretty comfy on the turntable too. Not a bad intro to this band.

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The Host

Named after and inspired by new wave retreats, Esalen Lectures is a pseudonym of Barry Lynn, who is more often found carving bass sculptures under the name Boxcutter. But the waves of IDM drift away in a sea of sensory deprivation here, instead invoking the float and flutter of artists like JD Emanuel, A.R. Reichel and Ash Ra Temple. The tracks fold into one another, rippling and easing their way into a burned cortex until they begin to take hold and then totally release. If Lynn is aiming for a system reset, a cleanse of the mind, then he’s fairly on point with his delivery. The album doesn’t drone like so many analog purveyors but it makes use of synths to curl a bit of psychic smoke through the ripples of your grey matter until the subconscious takes the wheel.

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Tijuana Panthers

Following up Wayne Interest is no easy feat. The band crystallized their sound, shaved off some of the rough edges of the past few years and really found their stride in the foaming garage eddies and pounding pace of rock’s dark corridors. They never let themselves ascribe to a style wholesale and they continue that ethos on Poster. There’s a slacked summer hangover of slowed surf, that twang of garage that they always keep in a back pocket and a bit of pop bounce that holds it all together. When they’re at their best, the band is spitting headstrong anthems that stride into the room with enough confidence to turn every head. “Set Forth,” “Send Down The Bombs” and “Front Window Down” are some of the band’s most endearing tracks and highlights among the bounce, sneer and shimmy here. But the whole record is a nice compliment to Wayne Interest, making a pair of releases that swirl the radio dial through ’66 – ’80 with just the right sense of timing.

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Future Punx

Future Punx are riding the high of 70’s post-punk in a way that few are with such pure immersion these days. Plenty have found ways to incorporate the trappings of the genre into their work but the Punx divine the nervy, jerky dance and smash of influences with the same palpable excitement of their forebears; sounding ripped out of time. They’ve admitted to a love affair with Fear of Music and David Byrne’s fingerprints are fresh in the heart of This is Post-Wave, but they also capture the raw funk hangover and stark minimalism of other luminaries of the era, namely ESG and Medium Medium. The mood is celebratory, but in a way that seems less purely joyful and more in the mood of dancing to spite the forces that told them they couldn’t. Its a dark, cathartic grind that’s more for your chagrin than for their levity. And this is certainly a good time to dance it off in someone’s face. Its a perfect time and place for the raw nerve of post-punk to rear its head amid the social rot to our collective teeth.

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Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp

The second matchup between these two purveyors of experimental headspace proves that there’s some definite aural chemistry between the pair. This time the two brought their collaborations together quicker, recording over a weekend at the shore rather than a full year of tinkering. The result doesn’t sound rushed, rather it crackles with the kind of excitement that’s born out of two minds bouncing off of one another. The first track rushes headlong into electronics, but its squelchy tones prove the exception on the album as the rest settles into the sand of strums and slides of guitar with just the setting sun of hum weaving throughout. Truthfully this does sound like a thoughtfully composed record, especially songs like standout “Long Beach Idyll” and the meditative crunch of “Alternator.” Then they tie it all together with a ten-minute workout of rippling, hypnotic strum that melts like last days of summer.

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XAM

Hookworms certainly have an element or two of Krautrock coursing through their veins, and if there are Cluster and Tangerine Dream LPs pumping on their stereo, it’s probably courtesy of member MB. He’s recently struck out for a solo outing as Xam, with a 12″ of burbled, swirling eddies of Kosmiche hypnotism out now on The Great Pop Supplement / Deep Systems. The A-side here starts a bit rigid, robo-grind that’s less human than anything in Hookworms stable, but MB picks up some serious steam on the next cut, a lush dive down the whirlpool by the name of “Coke Float”. The flip goes for epic length, a 22+ minute track that floats with the best analog stew. There are plenty of new age white boys tripping through this same aural valley but as with Daniel Lopatin and Cooper Crane, a few of them are getting it right.

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Bill Horist

Guitarist Bill Horist, long a member of psych collective Master Musicians of Bukake, crafts here a score for Calgary choreographer Davida Monk’s piece Dream Pavilion. The score and accompanying dance piece set out to bring life to Netsuke, tiny Japanese sculptures that often depict gods, animals and people in moments of extreme emotion. As such the pieces vary by the type of character they convey, from slightly playful to, more often, dark and foreboding. Horist’s use of prepared guitar and a Vietnamese lute called đàn nguyệt were the mainstays of the live performances but here he’s further augmented them in studio with the addition of bass, percussion and electronics that further serve to bring out the usually frozen emotions that are caught in the Netsuke’s expressions. The record acts as a journey down the snake’s den, rather than the rabbit hole, winding and weaving through the dark corridors with deft precision and a predatory tension. Its jarring at times but on the whole an engrossing listen that captures the imagination even without the dance.

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Cold Showers

Cold Showers have been knocking singles through the cracked lens of 80’s post-punk for a few years now. They popped up, as so many do, for a short stint on Mexican Summer and they put a single out on Art Fag before moving onto a string of releases with Dais. Now they’ve taken their sun-shrouded sound and worked it into a sophomore album that acts as a love letter to the twin kingdoms of Factory and Creation; bending bare, but crisp beats to the whims of fuzz ballooned shoegaze guitars. They’ve got enough pop sensibility to keep it from going into the goth end of the pool, though I’d imagine that their Cure Fanclub dues are paid in full, and while they’re by no means are they creating summer anthems, there’s a sparkle of catchiness under the surface. The songs on Matter of Choice are clipped and ready for greyer skies and streaks of rain, so perhaps the timing is just perfect to steel yourself away with a copy of Matter of Choice after the swelter dies down and the darkness eats away at the tail end of summer.

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