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Flat Worms – “The Aughts”

This upcoming Flat Worms LP continues to be one of the year’s gnarliest scorchers and that’s only further proven with the release of “The Aughts.” With Steve Albini at the controls the band laid down a single-take topper that’s raw and ravaged and fueled by the crumble of a ruling class long gone. The song is built to break — rumbling tension that blows through the restraints in sickened guitar tones and ball peen drum damage. The band issues a very bare bones video, but it works well with the song’s lean and lithe vision of what rock might be in the rubbled remains of 2020. The band’s full length is coming April 10th on Drag City imprint God? Records. Definitely one to put on the list of necessary pickups.



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PRIMO! – “Machine”

Another gem out of the Aussie cabal of excellent musicians today. In anticipation of their upcoming second album, PRIMO releases the driving jangler “Machine” — a sandpapered, yet loosely slung bit of post-punk if there ever was one. The band’s seemingly perfected their sound on this one, and it stands as one of the band’s most engaging songs yet. The standout single crackles with life — anchored by the brittle drum snap, worn-in guitars and those four-part harmonies that make it all gel just right. The band pairs the song with a motor-heavy video that has a ‘70s charm. There are plenty of Aussie exports that tend to get overlooked here and PRIMO’s last album got glossed over here, hoping that audiences abroad don’t make the same mistake twice.

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Mapache – “Read Between The Lines”

West Coast duo Mapache has been more than giving in the run up to their sophomore LP on Yep Roc, with a steady stream of videos pouring out. Each new clip is doused in the late summer sun and cooled by the salt-scrubbed breezes of a slower life. On “Read Between The Lines,” the band lays into a hammock of strum and harmony. The bulk of the album has been unfettered by extraneous production, choosing to focus instead on the pairs interplay and sanguine folk prowess. They don’t stray here, and the video continues a thread of day-in-the-life captures that seem to accompany the lead up to the album, showing the duo enjoying the carefree countenance that soaks into their songs. The record is out next week, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

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Tengger – “Achime”

The last LP from Tengger was a beacon of hope, a calm respite in troubled times, and as the band eases into the release of their follow-up, Nomad, they don’t falter as the deep breath on a cool morning we’d all like about now. Still rooted in shimmering tones, “Achime” also lets in a soft burble of rhythm to the mix, percolating with a cosmic ripple that drives the celestial tones and the vernal glow of life that’s woven into the vocals. The band accompanies the track with an equally gorgeous video, tying their sound to natural wonders as they have in the past. Nature and the splendor of Tengger always seem to be on parallel tracks and here they wet down our souls in the font of rebirth yet again. The LP lands June 7th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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The Native Cats – “Sanremo”

A short while back I shared the a-side to Tasmanian band The Native Cats’ new single for Rough Skies and now the band has sent over a new video for the flip. Not as bracing as the front side, but no less affecting, “Sanremo” is a gauzy creeper doused in post-punk and just a touch of shoegaze haze. The song buzzes with an incessant energy like raw nerves being slowly dulled by their surroundings. The video is equally narcotic, with singer Chloe Alison Escott being dragged towards a body of water like some sort of baptismal captive, shrouded in a veneer of pinks and purples. She gives a little insight into the clip below.

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Lithics – “Hands”

The heavy hitters of 2020 continue to roll out today with “Hands” from RSTB faves Lithics. The Portland foursome makes a jump from Kill Rock Stars to the ranks of Trouble in Mind for their new LP Tower of Age and the fist listen proves they’re still slicing. There’s never a shortage of post-punk popping up in any given year but little of it can cut like Lithics cut. The band’s got Glaxo Babies in their veins, a dose of Contortions minus the sax blast in their brain, and a vocal veneer that goes toe to toe with Au Pairs for its sheer “no bullshit” approach. Their last album was a reminder why wiry hooks and desert-dry delivery still sand the rough edges off of life in the 2010s. The band wields the hook here like a garrote — tensile and deadly. The track crouches for the first half, but when the band lets the restraints loose, “Hands” unfurls its floodwater riffs with full force. This one’s a crusher for sure. With former Trouble in Minders Omni having left the nest, Lithics slot themselves into the stable nicely as the deadpan dealers with a crushed glass grit. Get familiar. Checkout the video for “Hands” above and pick up the new LP June 5th.

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The Stroppies – “Holes In Everything”

Aussie janglers The Stroppies return in fine form today with a new mini-album that wraps up their recording work from the last year. Vaulting off of their excellent album from last year, the band continues to capture the overcast sway of kiwipop from days past, calling back echoes of The Clean, Able Tasmans, and Tall Dwarfs. They buoy their sunny strums with heavy-sighed harmonies and a hummable heft of organ that gives the song staying power. The band’s sticks to your ribs more than some of their peers with an ability to let angst and insecurity bask in the sun of their strums – giving their songs a more substantial kick then some of their cohorts. They continue their run at UK label Tough Love and while this might be another short one (something the band seems adept at) these eight songs still feel like a vital part of The Stroppies’ path. The LP descends to the decks on May 1st.



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Rubber Blanket – “Rock Today”

So, back in the early Aughts, ‘round about the birth of this blog, Wounded Lion ruled the speakers. The band was acerbic, witty, rough, and weathered in a way that instantly entered their songs into the grander scheme of what made garage and punk work. They merged the past and present visions of what punk could be — they were post-punk in as much as they sanded off the pretense of punk and experimented with form, but you’d be remiss to say they didn’t grind into your glands with a guitar fire that could take any of the tape-hiss competition to task at the time. While Lars Finberg has never flagged in his dominance over the shredded ends of punk and noise (see: A Frames, The Intelligence, Puberty) bandleader Brad Eberhard took a break from the wilds of rock for a while. He and fellow former Lion Jun Ohnuki return with Finberg to scrape the sense from synth and new wave in the same way they did for punk.

Rubber Blanket slashes the tires on the coolness of synth and inflates it with the experimental impulses that fed Fad Gadget and the detached air that surrounded John Foxx. They take away any perceptions of coolness that might have hampered the genre and let their instincts lead them down dark and degraded hallways. On “Rock Today” a rubberized bass swings the track up and down on a parachute of rhythm while Eberhard’s vocals are waxed clean of any swagger. Sax lines blow in with an air-conditioned chill, not flashy but adding a strange comfort to the proceedings. Despite their best efforts, the song does wind up with a certain uneasy coolness, but there’s enough itch that it’ll scare away most synth window shoppers. The band’s debut Our Album lands this Friday from Spacecase.



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Woods – “Where Do You Go When You Dream?”

Well I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you about this one, but its not every day that Woods give word of a new record on the way. The band’s been working on this one for a comfortable stretch, coming in as their eleventh album after 2017’s Love Is Love, with only a collaboration with Dungen sneaking in between. Their last was a response to political shift following the upsets of 2016, but now the feelings have had a bit more time to simmer. The first single “Where Do You Go When You Dream?” continues to act as balm, but this is also a decidedly mature and elegiac Woods. The song floats on a breeze of keys, drifting away from some of the sunny strums that have marked their past works. Its a melancholy track, steeped in memory, family, and friendship. Ochre-hued harmonies, full-fleshed production, and Jeremy Earl’s wistful vocals herald an album that moves the band into a new phase of their career with grace and ease. The record is out May 22nd on Woodsist.



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Jess Williamson – “Wind On Tin”

Very glad to see that the country croons of Jess Williamson have returned this year. In her absence there’s been a wealth of great voices added to the sunset striains of alt-country, but her’s has always been a welcomed voice in the genre. With a subtle swish of the cosmic fabric, Williamson wields melancholy through the stardust whispers of the wind. “Wind On Tin” is a spiritual sojourn born out of grief in a dessert town. Williamson claims she’s heard god on the wind, “God” or something else — nature, the vibrational thrum of the earth, the strings of the cosmos. Whatever was on the wind is strung with the fiber of the universe and her song ruffles the same hairs on the neck that may have sprung to life in her hearing. The video, directed by friend and collaborator Eli Welbourne plays into the myth of the mournful cowboy, but its saturated with just the right amount of divine light. Williamson’s new album is out May 15th on Mexican Summer.

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