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Biznaga – “Mediocridad y Confort”

Madrid’s Biznaga don’t spend time getting misty-eyed and mournful, saccharine or sweet, instead they’ve perfected the eighty pound pounce of punk via The Buzzcocks, The Undertones and The Clash. The opening cut off of their upcoming Sentido del Espectáculo on Slovenly bounds through the door at top speed and drags the place to hell before leaving you with the bill for cleaning. They have a handle on how to spin frustration and angst into fist-in-the-air anthemic punk pounders that feel necessary no matter what language you speak. The video for the “Mediocridad y Confort” posits the band as watching their song sung Karaoke from a tough-knuckled bar patron. The intense stares only make it hammer harder. Excited for this one, 2017 could use all the punk energy it can get.

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Le Villejuif Underground – “Villejuif Underground”

After one of my favorite LPs of the year, Nathan Roche and his mottly band are back with a new single for France’s Born Bad records and in true fashion they extend their self-homage even further by writing a theme song for themselves and their namesake neighborhood. Full of roustabouts at best, the band paints the Paris neighborhood as a welcoming embrace for artists like themselves. The song’s rambling, untethered style fits the video well, a barrage of images smudged with a scattershot regard for cohesion. The song accompanies three others on a new EP out for the label and continues the band’s and Roche’s own seemingly charmed and chaotic existence.



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Stef Chura – “Spotted Gold”

When I wrote about Stef Chura last year she was just pumping out short form tapes and splits across a wealth of labels. Now, the Detroit songwriter has an album on the way from Urinal Cake Records and it’s packing up the heat of that first single “Slow Motion” with a few other gems, including the ’90s strummer “Spotted Gold.” The newest peek at her record, Messes, capitalizes on a lot of what endeared Chura to me in the first place; the shaggy, unassuming songwriting that’s potent, but not flashy, a stripped down arrangement and fizzing hooks. The real draw here, though, is Chura’s spring-loaded voice, quivering and flexing in ways that make it an invaluable asset. Chura’s been racking up a chorus of praise in the interim since “Slow Motion” came my way, and can’t say that it isn’t well deserved. Eking out in the wee hours of 2017, this is one you shouldn’t sleep on.

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The Silence – “Ritual Of The Sun”

Masaki Batoh’s Silence has released three albums since their formation in 2014 and each one has proven a trove of psych that traverses expectations by embracing some more traditional rock forms alongside the creeping, ominous vibes that Ghost served up. The latest shows no signs of dialing in their eclecticism, but when the band’s on, they’re on and “Ritual of the Sun (Worm Hole to the Universe)” is the band at their psychedelic breakdown, jazz skronk-laden, full-on Joshua Light Show best. The video captures the band live in their element but to be honest, that’s pretty much all you need to convince that The Silence is worth the time. The track is from the just released Nine Suns, One Morning on their home at Drag City.

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Whores.

I was sorely missing out on Whores. until a friend tipped me to their last EP, Clean., which was an acerbic, taut blast of metal that tore through the AmRep soundbook, picking up cues cinched down to the block cut design of the sleeves. The band has an obvious affinity for Jesus Lizard, Melvins and Helmet style riffs with little room for flourish and an intent to pummel the listener within an inch of their life. They continue the legacy laid out on their EPs with, Gold, their debut LP proper. The record was, in fact, produced by Ryan Boesch who has helmed releases for both Helmet and The Melvins, so they’re not missing a beat on the completeness of their heart-on-sleeve influences. But the band is more than just a welcome trip back to ’90s glory days of heat-fused amp rippers and sensible black check flannel. They’re pulling from a wave that knew how to fold the non-metalhead into a show and let them loose. Back when grunge and metal bedded down in the same venues, there was room for both Nirvana and Metallica fans in the Corrosion of Conformity pits. Gold feels like a page out of this egalitarian mosh meeting.

Just like the aforementioned touchstones (Helmet, Jesus Liz, etc), the band’s strength lies in the ability to craft light and heat into catchy bits that knock you flat on your ass, then won’t let your brain shank the riffs for the next 24 hours. There’s something about the grunge grind of catchy but crunchy metal that’s got a timeless feel to it, like it always just existed to run an engine of thrash on a tall boy of King Cobra, primed, pumped and dumped into a Kelly green Camaro on an endless stretch of highway. Gold pulls not a single punch and there’s no note wasted in its tight set of ten songs. They’re economical but efficient, that’s for certain. The band kicks hard to the sternum with each new song, and thankfully, along with their crisp delivery, they eschew many of metal’s trappings of angst, excess or self-importance. Anger they’ve got, intensity, you bet, and they dole it out with the skill of a welder fusing iron beams to support a massive weight. Gold delivers on the promise the band’s been making with live shows and short form releases for the past few years and if you’ve been missing out on the heavier side of things until now or need a reason to scream it out this week, this might be a perfect point to dive back in.


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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Rattlesnake”

Ah man King Gizz, you’re killing me – not just in the wallet, but with shelf space as well. Soon, I imagine there may well be a shelf in my house that contains only the works of King Gizz, Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, each of their catalogs expanding at a rate that seems untenable by any human measuremnts. As for the Gizz, they’re announcing their ninth album, Flying Microtonal Banana to be released in February. The album, which is an excercise in using only instruments tuned to a non-western microtonal scale, is set to be the first of five(!) albums out in 2017 from the band. Like I said, its getting hard to harness all this psych on one solid shelf. The video for Rattlesnake, and album cover, naturally arrives via band designer Jason Galea, subject of a recent Design Inspiration feature here on the site. Expect the usual computer doused wonderlands and neon-torched imagery backed up by the band’s motorik chugging, now with an Eastern bent and a dose of Turkish Zurna for good measure.

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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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