The Summer Hits – Beaches and Canyons: 1992 – 1996

Its always nice to dig deeper into the origin of some longtime favorites. The Summer Hits were an early band of brothers Brent and Darren Rademaker, who among their litany of underrated bands (Further, Shadowland) also each split to independently form two major arms of early aughts alt-country; with Brent going on to form Beachwood Sparks and Darren going on to form The Tyde. Here they’re decidedly less amber hued than they’d become at their peak. The Summer Hits fell more in line with The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s ties to gauzy rock and Loop’s faded grind, though there’s still an occasional bit of jangle here and there. Mostly though its rife with a mid 90’s mix of distortion and dissonance that echoes the sentiments of paisley and shoegaze that came before them.

The band released no album during their tenure, only a handful of 7″s on labels like Christmas, Small-Fi, Silver Girl and Volvolo. They also released a split on 1000 Guitar Mania, who would release a Further EP along with E6 staples like Dressy Bessy, The Apples In Stereo and Of Montreal. This collection was put together for Record Store Day by Medical Records and, in true fashion of the band’s history, it hasn’t flown off the shelves. But most people’s loss is a boon to those whose local stores wouldn’t think of stocking this nugget. The label’s still got a stash and its, along with that Bardo Pond release, one of the rare reasons to celebrate the gluttony of a one day vinyl barrage. Lots to explore here. The production’s rough but the riffs are fine.




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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “People Vultures”

Nonagon Infinity is already upon us but that doesn’t mean that King Gizz doesn’t have more in store for the hungry masses. Following up on their cryptic Jodorwosky-tipped video for “Gamma Knife” the band go further into the crazed cavern for “People Vultures.” Hard not to get some psychedelic Power Rangers vibes off of the chyron heavy effects, towering costumes and martial arts weirdness that ensues here, but somehow that all fits in nicely with what the band are hooking in visually for this album. The song was already a killer, now its just got a powerful image to accompany it. If you haven’t given the album a proper listen, then its about damn time. Said it before, but this one’s leading the charge for album of the year around here.

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The Cosmic Dead

This is one of those albums with a disconnect to the US that makes it frustratingly hard to obtain and therefore, pretty much glossed over in general. Glasgow space rock unit The Cosmic Dead have been buring ozone for quite a few years but its been since their 2014 album Easterfaust since they’ve had a full runner in the works. They’ve followed that beast up amiably with Rainbowhead, clocking in with four improvised pieces that push the needle to burn with amp frizzle fry and, locked bass groves and synth warbles that put them well over into cosmic territory.

The band works its way towards the epics at the end of the tunnel, dipping into the psych swirl on opener “Human Sausage” and its mellower companion “Skye Burial” Then they tumble full barrel into the 13 and 18 minute cappers that show them at full strength, knives out, and bowing at the pulpit of Hawkwind and Amon Düül. Its these two that make the whole ticket worthwhile, they writhe and retch with an internal heat that radiates out like heatsick fever from the speakers. The lock groove is hypnotic and intense and its hard to figure out why your breath is gone by the closing notes of “Inner C,” but then they follow it with the squirming face melt of the title track, “Rainbowhead,” which burns it all to the ground, leaving only some singed twigs to tell the tale of The Cosmic Dead’s campaign of fury. These are not an easy commodity to come by Stateside, but well worth the pursuit and for any Space Rock heads out there, a pretty essential parcel.


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Zig Zags

Zig Zags are back with a follow up and its fodder for those that loved the first. If you were a metal kid that fell in with the punks, then every inch of Running Out of Red is prime listening. The album is raw, but with a knife edge. Producer Chris Woodhouse gives the album a spit sheen that glints off the jacket studs of the heaviest head in the pit. At its heart, though, the album is soaked in beer and sweat and denim and something tells me that the L.A. crew would have it no other way. There’s plenty who pack in the heavy riffs, especially in Castle Face’s ever expanding roster, but Zig Zags are bringing the fiery solos and and the raised fist rumble like no one else in that stable.

The genius of Running Out Of Red is that every song seems like it could soundtrack a chase sequence in Maximum Overdrive. The band’s been to the alter and made an offering and now they’re just bringing back unburdened garage metal for those who want speed and spit and to just not think for 30 minutes of unadulterated shred. I can practically smell the studio in each take, and that grease caked, leather punch has been sorely lacking of late. If this year’s general turmoil is any indication of entropic slide into the void, Zig Zags seem like a pretty good soundtrack for the chaos. Note perfect to burn it all down.




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Ensemble Econimique – “On The Sand”

Brian Pyle’s dark soundscapes have played their way out around here plenty of times but its been too long since I’ve checked in and “On The Sand” has me feeling remiss. On his latest track from the upcoming Blossoms In Red, he’s stripped things back to the minimal nature of doom. A vibrational core of bass rumbles through with the kind of foreboding presence that’s felt in the sweat on the back of your neck, Pyle’s guitar enters slow and menacing heralding only dread and that’s all before Peter Broderick lends his hushed, coldly threatening vocal take to the mix. The track seems like a breaking point, the moment that resistance is pushed aside and ground into the dirt. The accompanying video is appropriately stark, just shots of a woman haloed by the sun interspersed with Pyle and Broderick playing. Its one of the most crushingly heavy tracks I’ve heard this year and up there with Pyle’s best for sure.

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Strange Feelings: The Twinkeyz’ Alpha Jerk Resurrected

That the Twinkeyz were overlooked wasn’t shocking, but rather saddening. They released three singles and an album that burned too bright, but unfortunately also too scarce for the general populace. Coupled with their inability to tour widely, it added up to the kind of all too familiar tale of a great band shuttled to obscurity. Formed in 1977 by Donnie Jupiter (nee Marquez) and Tom Darling, the band proved to be more at home in the studio than on the live front. They played their hometown of Sacramento, but their immediate sphere of influence remained local and largely relegated to their home base of Moon Studios, helmed by friend and engineer Dave Houston. There they would lay down their own brand of power pop with a heavy infection of experimental impulses and outsider aura.

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Ignatz – “My Children”

Bram Devens has been a fixture around here for sometime, and whenever he ekes out a record under the Ignatz name, I’m always reminded of the simple charms that his records evoke. The first track from Ignatz’ upcoming record The Drain, on Kraak, is full of his signatures; the subtle hiss of tape, somber plucks and that high lonesome howl that Devens brandishes so well. The track is simple, but the weight and sadness that come with it hit pretty hard. This is a cleaner version of him than I’ve heard on his past releases and the direct approach is becoming for sure. This track bodes well for what the rest of The Drain has in store. Cant wait.



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Kikagaku Moyo

I’ve had this one on rotation ever since it arrived and, even as a big fan of Kikagaku Moyo’s past catalog, its the most entrancing work they’ve done yet. The band’s work to date always found a delicate balance between subtlety and psychedelics, but here they tip the scales much further towards pastoral than ever before and the delicate touches pool their sound with a gorgeous coat of sheen. “Kogarashi,” the first taste of the album that slipped away early this year, still remains a highlight, winding fluid, traveling guitar passages with the lush cool air of cave echoed vocals. The band still pushes the amps into the fire now and again, but in the mold of some of the best simmering psychedlics, the moments that they hold back glow a bit brighter than the rest.

House In The Tall Grass shows the band’s familiarity with the softer side of the ’60s, and while there are notable touches of Japanese luminaries The Apryl Fool, Jacks and even later greats like Ghost, the band has called on a less obvious touchstone for inspiration, Bruce Langhorne’s soundtrack to The Hired Hand. If you’re not familiar, the reissue on Scissor Tail is a must for fans of country psych and acoustic guitar, not to mention psychedelic ’70s soundtracks. And though its more in line with Fahey, its not a stretch to see that its gentle ramble has a thumbprint here. The whole album has a subtle grey fog around it. Its got a cold and damp quality that echoes that lonesome traveling feeling.

Though don’t let that assessment fool you, the dampness and loneliness is by no means a deterrent, they are a celebration of sweet melancholy and Kikagaku Moyo is nailing the emotion on this album. The gorgeous folds of of House In The Tall Grass hang heavy and when the album does light those fires, they burn all that much brighter in contrast, then they’re all swept out in the morning by the gentle hum of closer, “Cardigan Song.” Its one of the best I’ve heard this year for sure and getting better with each listen.



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Mind Meld – “Viper”

L.A.’s Mind Meld are digging in the same dirt as fellow West Coasters Ty, Feels and Wand. They’re mixing a thick froth of fuzz, riffs heavy as concrete and a desert heat waver of psychedelic slop. “Viper” is cut right out of the cloth of the Segall catalog, but its just as indebted to the heavy skull crushers of Blue Cheer, Sabbath and Hawkwind at their amp stacked best. The single is out on Permanent Records, who have also just moved themselves into cozy L.A. diggs, expanding on their lock on Chicago’s garage glory. If nothing else, I definitely want to hear more from these exhaust huffers in the future and something tells me there’s bound to be more smoke from this fire.




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Abjects – Double Blind

London Trio Abjects follow on their first couple of EPs with a 7″ for NY’s Greenway records. Dual language, twin carbine action that blasts through garage pop with a kind of chaotic energy that’s one part beat denim dine n’ dash and one part amphetamine charged supermarket sweep. “Double Blind” is a soundtrack for hi-jinks, rough and frayed and spitting with garage punk energy that’s wrecked on Pez and ready to run all night. The A-side definitely reminds me of Pega Monstro’s hot charged delivery and the two would make for a scorchin’ double bill anytime. The flip takes the tack to English but doesn’t let up on the gas soaked fumes that haunt the opener. Both tracks make for pretty hard punch to the gut. Can’t imagine how this doesn’t burn live. They just wrapped up some US dates but hopefully they’ll be back around again to spread some love.



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