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The Murlocs – “Withstand”

Another psych-blooze swinger drops from The Murlocs today along with the official announcement of their third album, Manic Candid Episode. The new track, “Withstand,” doesn’t soar for the Rocketman vibes that the band had touched on previously, but instead sees Ambrose and crew returning to their stable of gritty garage shakers peppered with tons of harmonica and a half-ton of sneer. The accompanying vid is notably more lighthearted than the murder-heavy clip that accompanied “Comfort Zone,” going for a psychedelic ‘70s kids show vibe with the green screen taking on a lot of the burden. To double the exciting news, the band is also reissuing their last couple of LPs, which were a bit harder to find here in the states. Both have new editions coming out through their American outpost at ATO. Manic Candid Episode is out March 22nd.



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Slush – “Middle Name”

Pretty much anything that comes out of Aussie enclave Hysterical Records is bound to be fun and the first single from new signees Slush is no slouch in that regard. The trio pelts out power pop that recalls ’90s soundtrack fodder from The Muffs and that dog., while dropping in alongside American counterparts Tacocat and Colleen Green in balancing the butterfly belly bliss of early relationships with candy coated hooks that lodge themselves in your brain like a lick-a-maid anchor. The track is a joyous somersault through carefree summertime swoons and its just begging for someone to set up a whirlwind montage of teen crush tension to its brilliant bounce.

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Drugdealer – “Fools”

To accept Drugdealer is to buy into the notion that reverence for influences can become so fervent that it scratches up against the edges of schtick. There’s a fine line between what Fred Armisen is doing with Blue Jean Committee and what Michael Collins and crew are doing with Drugdealer. It shouldn’t matter so much – 60’s adherents are a rampant among garage and alt-pop types. Riffling through the racks of Nilsson, Fleetwood Mac, Todd Rundgren and Carol King records should be met with the same acceptance for indulgence. This is specially true since here, with the aid of fellow smooth sailor Mac DeMarco producing, Collins nails the kind of studio rat sloughed confidence and slick earworm styles that dominated the AOR airwaves. Naturally these tropes only came to be seen as passe by a generation of ’90s kids railing against the music that dominated their parent’s car radio – hence the rub. “Fools” is almost uncanny in its appropriation and deadly in its accuracy in mining groove-baiting cocaine-cooled visions of Laurel Canyon folk heroes gone glossy. Love it or lump it (I fall in the former camp), you got to admit they’re pulling it off.



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Bench Press – “Respite”

Melbourne’s Bench Press release a blunt force blast of a single – the wiry, nervy post-punk nug “Respite” for Poison City and knock it up a notch with an excellently crisp infographic inferring video created by Defero Productions. The song is tough and sinewy, as their work has been in the past, but this time it’s got a breathless immediacy to it as well. The song huffs steam and belches bass, but it’s the solar-plexus-jolt of Jack Stavrakis’ vocals that draw the attention the most. His voice is an instrument of constrained chaos locked onto a song that singes like science – a perfect mesh of hi/low tensions that brings to mind a host of Dischord alumni and their own homeland’s heroes Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Check the design nerd eye candy above.

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Mike Donovan – “Cold Shine”

Coming close on the heels of the last Sic Alps album, Mike Donovan is back this year with his second solo record for Drag City. His last album under his given name was a particular favorite for me, sanding down the noisy edges of Donovan’s work and embracing the somber folk that resides at his core. “Cold Shine” is certainly pulling for the same well, turning perhaps even a bit starker than his last affair. The accompanying video depicts the fallout from filmmaker Betty Nguyen’s lost home during the recent Thomas Fire disaster this winter. The video is a somber accompaniment to the track and actually fits it quite well tonally. Despite the crushing depression that’s coming hand and hand with both the song and video, this is still some of Donovan’s finest and a lovely song for staring into the abyss.

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The Coathangers – “F The NRA”

The new Coathangers is shaping up to be one of their best and most biting. With the latest single from the album, the band touches on the current national epidemic of gun violence in the most direct way possible – with a middle finger to the very lobby that props the system despite an avalanche of evidence that our cultural hangup on weaponry is a tipping point in need of legislation. The band knocks this out with an ’80s punk spirit, looking every bit the resurrection of Bad Brains/D.O.A./Circle Jerks inflammatory imagery scrawled over a cut n’ paste collection of cartoonish gunslinger tropes. In the wake of the SOTU, if you’re in the need for another wave to fan the flame of action, let this one waft over you today.



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Bananagun – “Do Yeah”

Aussie psych-funk jam unit Bananagun issue their debut single for Anti-Fade and its a tumultuous riff on Bollywood beats and ’60s South Asian funk. “Do Yeah” is a simmering slice of pop that’s pulled like paisley taffy through the the decades, leaving a whiff incense and silk on the breeze. Though its a bit of a strange fit among the punks at Anti-Fade, the song and its pop-art video accompaniment are an amusing romp nonetheless. Sure this feels every bit like a band trying on hats, but they’re doing it with enough joy to infect listeners with an urge to dance. Check the band’s dose of freakout fuzz above.



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Wand – “Scarecrow”

Wand continue their reinvention from fuzz-chomping psych freaks to art rock acolytes with the announcement of their latest Drag City LP. In the austere, Between Two Ferns lookin’ video for the song, the band channels the brittle, air-conditioned unease of Mogwai, Muse, and, more specifically, Radiohead. They pushed towards reflections of ’90s guitar heroes on their previous album and they appear to be making their transition into the early aughts this time around. They’ve stripped away the ’90s grunge signifiers, trading their old STP CDS in for an angular agenda that tills Wire, Magazine and The Comsat Angels into stadium-sized sizzle. It’ll be interesting to see how the massive looking new LP works out as they’ve already got their sights set on a bigger profile with this offering. Laughing Matter is out April 19th.

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Cyboogie”

The silence is broken and the lid is off. King Gizz is back with a new single and, as usual, as shift in sound. This time the band embraces the slick slide of glam and funk into the advent ’80s electronic, feeling every bit like Gary Numan trying on platform shoes with Slade, ELO, and Harald Grosskopf in the same shopping trip. They’re straying far from the face melting guitars, but the rest of the band’s schtick remains in tact – the dystopian vibes, psychedelic bent and penchant for voice overs remains. For the video they play up those vibes with touches of paranoid cinema, with the clip echoing the close-up discomfort of A Clockwork Orange and the shabby glitz of The Running Man. Whether this is a taste of what’s to come of a one-off diversion, only time will tell. The sound feels good on the band and ya gotta hand it to them, they don’t sit still and they don’t stagnate their sound. The single is out Feb 1st.

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The Stroppies – “Nothing At All”

Bummed that not enough people have been prattling on about The Stroppies, but that’ll catch up to them later. The band’s proper debut is out in March on Tough Love and the second single clinches the quality of this jangle-high strummer. “Nothing At All” sees co-vocalist Claudia Serfaty take over and the keys that permeated their previous single, “Cellophane Car,” take a backseat. There’s more than a little love for Flying Nun in the driving rhythms and a boundless energy that’s beggin’ to break free. Perfectly swung pop that prickles with life over a bittersweet core. If you’ve been sleeping on the short format releases the band has proffered up to this point, then its time to get familiar with Whoosh.

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