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Wolf People

There are several schools of psych revial that run concurrent to each other in any given year, but Wolf People’s strain of Anglo-centric psychedelia marries the whimsical swords & sorcery, PhD caliber concept variety with a penchant for the heavier nugs of British proto-metal that began to spring up in its wake. They don’t really go in for the flights of fantasy lyrically, barring perahps “Night Witch”, but on Ruins they are embracing the itch for high concept. The album takes on the idea of an Earth in which the scourge of humanity is in its waning hours, being overtaken by nature as the heirs to the planet. They pin that concept to their brand of folk-rock, burnt to a cinder with the spark of psychedelia drawn in a direct line from the true heads of yore. There’s always been a deviant spore of The Moody Blues in the band’s sound (maybe its the flute, maybe its the timbre of Jack Sharp’s voice) but they embrace it fully on Ruins, conjuring up the spectre of prog loud and large.

That’s not to say that this is entirely picked from your dad’s stash of college LPs, Wolf People have an admitted love for both hip-hop and post-punk and while there aren’t overt inclusions of either in their pure forms (thank goodness), those influences seep through in their own way. Drummer Tom Watt swings the rhythms on Ruins, creating not hip-hop, but the kind of beats that well-tuned crate diggers tore from in the genre’s infancy. It was often the more adventurous strains of prog and rock that made for some of the most pummeling breaks and Watt seems to strive to find that charm in reverse. The guitars are thick as smoke over a ravaged 16th century village, but Sharp and Hollick weave them with a modern update blending the fuzz metal blast with the iron angles of a later ’70s vision.

It really isn’t an easy feat to bring this sound into a modern light, but Wolf People succeed in landing a foot in nostalgia proper and one in the archival spirit of an age that can cross reference the myriad histories of bands and movements in an afternoon spent internet digging. They form the best prog band that never set foot in the ’70s but holds its spirit alight for those that missed that the first go’round.




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Premiere: The Features – “City Scenes”

A wealth of New Zealand pop is making its way back to vinyl and rightfully so, this time the venerable Flying Nun themselves are issuing the works of The Features, a long since simmering influence in the kiwi punk and post-punk circuit. The band formed with members of other New Zealand punk touchstones The Superettes, Primmers and Terrorways (all bands featured on the influential AK79 compilation). The band acted as an angular and jagged counterpoint to the majority of Kiwipop’s more jangled stable of players and in some ways ushered in a focus on post-punk in the NZ scene. There’s a fair amount of Wire in their veins and an admitted love for Public Image Ltd, and they parallel the rise of Toy Love as a source of agitated, yet extraordinarily melodic punk that ran through the country. The sound of “City Scenes” is vital, ravaged and raw in a way that most post-punk could only aspire to and this collection gives the band the kind of retrospective that’s sorely overdue. The single was originally released on the Propeller label in and charted on its release in 1980. Culling together singles along with a later 12″ release, X-Features is out Nov. 11th on Flying Nun.



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Dag – “Staying Up At Night”

From the always reliable Bedroom Suck roster, Dag is a new Brisbane band that employs a fair share of jangle, mottled with a bit of wistful indie pop, that brings in swooning violins and the kind of shuffled and shaggy delivery that wouldn’t be out of place sandwiched between Hamish Kilgour and Silver Jews on a mixtape found cleaning up your teenage bedroom. There’s something grander about singer Dusty Anastassiou’s voice though. It’s flecked with a deeper sigh and the right kind of lilt that makes this song hit home just a bit more than the average jangler. The video, by Helena Papageorgiou pairs Anastassiou’s drawings with the band hanging in a drab practices space, showing a world of wonder flying by outside. The album’s out in February and with this first taste, I’m definitely listening.

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Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – “Distracted”

I’ve covered the latest LP from Scott & Charlene’s Wedding quite a bit this year, but since its one of my favorites of the year and “Distracted” is one of the best cuts on there, there’s probably room for one more shout on it. The album sums up the frustrations of youth (and their subsequent slide into arrested development middle age) in a way that’s completely honest and unpolished. The band’s pop hides a wealth of insight to the kind of restless energy that crops up in a generation lost to debt, dead-end jobs and armed only with guitars and some jangles to dig them out. The video isn’t exactly breaking any mold, but its got a juxtaposed Brady Bunch style that feels like it pairs well with the ADD lyrics of “Distracted.” If, for some reason, you have not picked up Mid Thirties Singles Scene by now, its about damn time.
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Woods – “Politics of Free”

Woods last album was an absolute high point in their career, a fully realized vision of their cleaned up sound spiked with new obsessions and directions among the sunshine psych. “Politics of Free” leans towards the band’s signature buttery tones and swaying summer vibes, and that’s pretty much what they sum up with their video for the track. Its the band on the road, enjoying the views and finding solace in the small moments. Its pretty much the distillation of what I think of when I think of Woods. If there’s any reason that you haven’t picked this one up already, maybe this is the shove you need in the right direction.

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Drugdealer – “Easy To Forget”

I gotta admit, this one crept up on me slow. I wasn’t bowled over by the Weyes Blood lead single that preceded the album, but sitting down with it listening to Michael Collins’ tapestry of ’70s smoothness in full, along with contributions from Ariel Pink and Sheer Agony, the bigger picture starts to come into shape. As as single, the Pink featuring track “Easy To Forget” is a definite standout, and the video captures the song’s strange instant classic feeling paired with its almost overbaked, out-of-time vibe. Its the kind of track that would be blaring out of the windows of a beaten to death Cutlass Supreme at four in the afternoon. Its hard not to smile at the imagery and its harder still to deny the smooth swagger that Collins and Pink pull over on this one.

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The Tyde – “It’s Not Gossip If It’s True”

So I mentioned the other day that, yes indeed, The Tyde have resurfaced after years off the grid. On his fourth album, Darren 4, Darren Rademaker is sounding like he’s recaptured the spirit that inhabited the sunny strains of Once and Twice, summoning up the ghosts of The Byrds, The softer side of Creation (The Sneetches, Suede, Felt) and the summer sun that beamed from within The Beach Boys. He’s also adding his dose of wearied and weathered vibes, as if the sun only leads to sunstroke and a hangover that puts the good times in bas relief. Lyrics about trysts with twenty-two year-olds aside, the album has a wonderful feel to it and “Gossip” is a highlight for me. Its practically swooning with the addition of some honeyed background vocals and a touch of slide guitar. Rademaker captures the song’s hassled sighs amiably in the Alex Knost directed clip. Its nice to have The Tyde back and summing up middle age in weathered psych-country comfort.

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MV & EE – “Feel Alright”

Word comes down that Matt Valentine and Erika Elder are back in business (they never really stop though right? 60 cd-rs and counting?) and there lies imminent a proper release for Woodsist. The first cut is amiably low key and decidedly running down the gauzier lines of their output. No Golden or Bummer Road in sight here, just the duo relishing in the soft glow of afternoon sun and strumming without worry. The band’s dreamy glow is captured perfectly in a similarly loose clip of the couple wandering the woods around their house with their daughter, directed by Galaxie 500’s Naiomi Yang. Though the band floated in on raft of psych-folk fodder but they’ve tested the time and proven themselves to be an insular unit of good vibes, eking out albums that come packed with the smell of rotting logs, moss and leaves. They’re living the woodland folklore to its core and this one proves it.



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Premiere: Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – “Balance”

As mentioned earlier this week, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete have reached a new peak with upcoming album Balance, maintaining a delicate ballet between noise and sweeping beauty. The title track from the album is built on a driving rhythm set and explosions of guitar. The band highlights the track’s dynamics with a color blocked video that, likewise, explodes into bursts of static and saturated hues when the chaos ramps up. The song itself is a pretty perfect encapsulation of the album’s dynamic tension, riding the line nicely between gauzy goodness and a fuzz pummeled cliff of feedback and froth. Highly recommended that you check out the band’s latest on Captcha and Sonic Cathedral.


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Wolf People – “Ninth Night”

I’ve actually been nostalgic for some Wolf People lately. The band’s debut and strong sophomore offerings were both on constant rotation following their respective releases and somehow a hot, stagnant summer seems rife for their particular brand of English psychedelic rabbit hole. On “Ninth Night” they tone down some of the flute (sorely missed on my part actually) but go in for a heavy dose of fuzz that builds to a chaotic din before being broken through at the end by their folk plucked guitar. The band have a pretty great handle on finding that knife edge between imitation and homage and while they’ve certainly versed themselves in their vintage collection of Jethro Tull, Yes and King Crimson platters, they know how to grab bits of each to find the connective tissue that bound the best prog together. The video gives the band’s live shots a fitting faded album art feeling that seems like a few of these shots could have rolled right out of that Träd, Gräs Och Stenar box from earlier in the year. Excited to see how the rest of Ruins shapes up.



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