Les Halles – “Thresholds”

Not Not Fun has skewed more mutant disco in the last few years but its good to see there’s still some melted psych odysseys to be found among the band’s varied stable. French musician Baptiste Martin has been crafting psych landscapes for a few years in relative obscurity on labels like Constellation Tatsu and Noumenal Loom and now he’s bringing a double shot of languid washes to NNF. “Thresholds” melds drifting keys with Amerindian flute samples and views them through the undersea ripple of a Jacques Cousteau nature doc, bobbing and lolling in the waves and peering at the sun through the refracted surface above. For those looking to cool down summer days or just melt into the deep green of leaves against sky, this is probably a best bet for the next couple of months.



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Allah-Las – “Famous Phone Figure”

Well gotta be summer now because there’s a new Allah-Las on the rise and that means good things for record players everywhere. Temperate days and clear skies just are just begging for a soundtrack from the L.A. stalwarts. The new track marks a bit of a departure from their usual jangle and jump sound that’s been rooted in the garage aesthetics and ushers in a move towards a more lush, and dreamy sound that plays off of swooning 60’s touchstones like Pet Sounds, JK & Co. or Tomorrow. Fittingly they’ve brought in a whole host of new instrumentation for the album – viola, harpsichord, Mellotron and theremin – proving this to be Allah-Las embracing their 60’s experimentation in full. They’ve been studying their 60’s trajectories well, so expect some paisley Nehru jackets on this tour, because things have gone full psych (not that I’m complaining). They’ve also made a move to Mex Summer for the record which pushes them away from their cozy home at Innovative Leisure. Definitely interested to hear more on this one and the moody black and white visuals give the track a nice stately background to luxuriate in. Summer just got a bit breezier.

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Wireheads

Perennial favorite Wireheads are back on the scene with a third record, again for Aussie imprint Tenth Court, and its great to hear their caustic post-punk mature. The Adelaide band’s debut was ragged and unapologetic in its delivery, little wonder that I’d named it one of the great overlooked records of the last ten years. On their third record they ditch the alt pedigree of Calvin Johnson’s Dub Narcotic for homeland sessions that pull in just about everyone that they know. Driving force, Dom Trimboli sketched out the songs and invited friends into the sessions to help flesh them out, resulting in a roster of 20 musicians that includes members of Brisbane’s Bent, Sydney poppers Day Ravies, kindred spirits Bitch Prefect plus Fair Maiden, Men With Chips and The High Beamers. For the most part this ends up bleeding in a bit of beauty to Wireheads’ usual lemon in the wound attack. There’s a loose nature to the album, but strangely it results in some of the band’s most pop moments. The ravaged swagger of “Dedication”, the dark country shuffle of “Proserpina,” the psych pop warble of “Isabella Says” and the last-call balladry of “Banana Fish” all feel like leaps from their chewed wire beginnings.

As the album unfolds there are still a few moments of the band’s squall’s – sax skronk ripping like an inter tube in distress, violin howling at the wind – but for the most part the mixed company seems to have taken them in new directions and those chances pay off. For a lot of bands, tempering their sound usually means losing a bit of vitality, but there’s little anyone could do to sand down the edges of Trimboli’s vocal bite. When he’s singing, its a Wireheads song; doesn’t matter if there are strums or saw tooth licks, the impact hits you just the same. Three albums on the band is still one of the most interesting kicking around guitar rock these days and Arrive Alive stands to prove it.



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The Tweeds – I Need That Record: Anthology

Usually Numero reissues come with lengthy bios and myriad facts about careers gone astray, labels that were pockets of talent or early careers that were overlooked. This one seems a bit oddly rushed for Numero, in that its only available digitally and there don’t seem to be any notes with it. However, for those familiar with their Yellow Pills comp, the name Tweeds should be familiar. They showed up on both the early CD version of Prefill and Numero’s later issue of Buttons. The band was from Massachusetts and issued a small string of singles and EPs from 1977 – 1981, the most famous of which is probably 1980’s Perfect Fit which contains their most lasting tracks “I Need That Record” and “The Girl Who Said No”

Pretty much all of their output is included here, even including an alternate recording of “Underwater Girl” from its inclusion on an ’81 b-side that saw it rerecorded for the release and added an intro. The band apparently included Kenny Gorelick (aka Kenny G, the band of your elevator existence) on keys at one point but its unclear how much of the material he may have played on. In general the band has a lot of delightful, but not especially hard hitting power pop and its safe to say this may be the most definitive release of their music that you’d ever need. The aforementioned “Underwater Girl” might be the best surprise, as its not included on many compilations and its a solid runner of a power pop jam and gives the band a bit of a harder edge. The rest is probably for the true power pop diggers but I’ve always been a sucker for the fringes of the genre. Not holding my breath for a vinyl issue of this but it would be nice to have a bit more background from the label on this one. Barring that, I’ll just cross my fingers that the Buttons series might start back up (please, please, please), it was promising but I’m sure it sorely undersold those soul comps. One can only hope this might be an indication of turning their gaze back towards power pop.



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Glenn Donaldson on The Television Personalities – The Painted Word

Hidden Gems is based on the idea of those records that are found along the way in life that you can’t believe you never heard about, the ones that just blow you away on first listen and seem like such a find. The kind of records that get left out of all the essential decade lists and 1001 records you need to hear before you die type of listicle. The ones that got away. In the first installment I tapped Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Art Museums, Jewelled Antler Collective) to have his pick at a record that fits the bill. Glenn’s Twitter feed alone is full of enough overlooked classics to fill this feature ten times over, so needless to say I was intrigued. He’s picked Television Personalities’ fourth album, the darkly shaded, The Painted Word. I asked him how the record came into his life and how its affected him and his music.

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Spray Paint

Austin’s Spray Paint embrace the phrase, “no rest for the wicked.” On their sixth album in half as many years they’re hitting more than their stride, they’re pummeling listeners with the most tightly wound, cleanest cut version of their post-punk snarl yet. The record is, as usual, dark and biting, a hallmark of their steel wool grind. It would seem that any band that pushes as hard to release on the schedule that they do, would diminish their well of inspiration; but the trio have a seemingly endless supply of deranged deadbeats, human bile vials and damaged grey matter to chronicle with each impending release. Given their subject matter and no-wave lacerations, there’s little sunshine that finds its way into Spray Paint’s universe. Hell, the refrain on the title track is “seems like everyone’s getting cancer”. So, if you’re looking for that Summer funtime, breeze in the hair album, then maybe search elsewhere.

However, if you’re looking to take the back alley walk to a third shift job in the dead end days of August’s most stagnant heat. If you’re pushing head down through the kind of industrial, throat parched, food desert setting that’s rife with castoffs from the Repo Man casting couch, then by all means Feel The Clamps is perhaps your record of the summer. Its not just a soundtrack to disaffected youth, its a teeth grit grumble of a generation that got the short stick and the frustration that’s keeping them on their feet day to day – clock punching to Spray Paint as the house band of their slide into day’s end. The itching, squirming, pulsating nerve is in here and Clamps is a salve to shelter the soul.



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White Mystery

Outta Control sees White Mystery step away from a lot of their comfort zones and some excursions work and others don’t but in either case there’s a joyous ripple that runs through the record that kinda makes it ok even when things truly get outta control. The band is still at their best when hewing a bit close to the garage rock that bore them through, though here they bring in the jubilant pound of pianos, acoustic strums and noisy squalls to augment the raucous rip of fried amplifier fume that’s been their steadfast companion. In truth, at its heart, there’s a great explosion of bubblegum that’s rearing its head on the album and in that respect there’s a lot of crossover with one of my latter day garage faves, The Dirtbombs’ Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey album from 2013. It gives the album a sense of elastic fun that pushes towards a more pop sound, that’s big and brimming and worthy of its own cartoon band (albeit one that might land on Adult Swim instead of Cartoon Network’s daytime rotation).

The downside to pushing the boundaries is that it doesn’t always work, but any collector of bubblegum pop knows that any gum compendium is never 100% and in that respect the auto-tune laden, modern day pop satirizing “Pacci” is the bum sticker in the bunch, but hey life gives you skip buttons. Its not nearly enough to sour the absolute fun that gushes out of Outta Control. The rest of the album bounds by on spring loaded legs, bopping and swaying and generally sticking in your head like a pop-rocks coated aneurysm of fun. Been a long time coming seeing this band fully embrace their truly outsized personalities and run with it, on Outta Control they feel like they’re having as much fun as anyone listening.




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Tongues of Light

Brought to you by Andy Votel and Demdike Stare’s ephemeral label Pre-Cert Home Entertainment, Channelled Messages At The End Of History began as a gift between friends, something not for mass production, but its too good to keep to a corralled audience. The concept brings together samples of new age meditation, higher consciousness seekers and occult dwellers, all sourced from the bowels of YouTube’s endless mind suck. On their own as an afternoon watch, experienced in full, they’d be grating or possibly just amusing; but when cut and assembled, padded with synth washes and ominous drone beds, they become something other. They achieve a psychedelic mantra, a through the television glass world of spectral freakishness.

Its new age sage for the ASMR generation, but instead of truly relaxing the listener with the subtle raindrop clop of fingernails and assured phrasing, the record winds up like a slow motion face-peel reveal of something glowing and gossamer beneath the surface. It never feels like a collage, the sampling here is so seamless that it just feels like the kind of lucid dream float that could only make sense in altered states, be your weapon of choice meditation or psychoactive toad. Pre-Cert is home to the types of records too weird and fractured for Modern Love or Finders Keepers, and this is definitely a kind of mission statement or high water mark for the label. For those with the right kind of ears, its a welcome ride into the sweat-lodge nirvana of the mind.



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Ricardo Dias Gomes

This one came out late last year, but to such little rumble that it seems fitting to kick some dust up about it now. Gomes is a member of Brazilian bands Do Amor and, Cê (Caetano Veloso’s band), but he’s crowdfunded his own release with -11 and stepped into his own light, even if for just a little bit. The record lays the fingerpicked intimacy inherit in much of his collaborative works into a warbled pool of hazy electronics which Gomes augments with devotional organ drones, field recordings and tape hiss. The voices are up close, dryly recorded and almost inside the listener’s head, which gives the feeling of drifting into sleep with nagging thoughts pushing and pulling at rest and wakefulness. Gomes has a talent for evoking dream states, even ones that aren’t always particularly settling. There are moments on -11 that thrum with uneasiness, but they seem to balance nicely with the more languid tracks. The one outlier is middle-piece “Some Ludicrous Self-Indulgence To Develop” which lives up to its name, feeling a bit out of place among the rest of the pieces with its sprightly exuberance. Gomes is at his peak, though, when he’s got that lilt of melancholy in his voice that feels like a faraway look. Those are the tracks that push this record into the cool blue light of day and the reason that I hope Gomes doesn’t just leave this as a one off experiment. There’s a vein to be tapped here and this feels like just breaking the skin.



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Mozes & The Firstborn – “Great Pile of Nothing”

So it would seem that the EP that Mozes & The Firstborn released earlier in the year was a tease and taste of a new album on the way. The first eke out of that long player arrives with “Great Pile of Nothing,” as clean and sincere a slice of power pop that ever graced these shores. Somewhere out in the world a shudder just ran down Matthew Sweet’s spine because he knows there’s a challenger on the horizon. The track hearkens back to the best of the mid 90’s and early aughts indie pop w/ a budget and I for one, couldn’t be happier to return to the big, crisp sound of guitars blowing stacks over sugar sweet odes to love and loss and creeping inadequacy. Bring back well-funded slacker pop. Do it already! The album, also titled Great Pile of Nothing, hits in September so mark your calendars, and in the mean time this nugget should be duly dubbed to cassette and popped into the deck of your beat to gears Tercel to blast at stoplights all summer long.



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