Wymond Miles – Call By Night

On his third solo album for Sacred Bones, Wymond Miles pares back his sound while delving deep into the heart of pain and past with traumas both new and old. The album calls back to Miles’ youth in small working class towns, a side of America that’s been thrust into the light of day harder than ever this year. For those that grew up in the heartland among the flat expanses, endless highways and smell of carbide deeply ingrained into every fiber of life, its a bleak reminder as Miles unfolds a life less charmed in blistering black and white. For Miles, his towns lie further to the West than the rust belt ruts of my own youth. A land of promise from the turn of the century on, offering endless vistas and a life less managed and just as often offering a life less fruitful and quietly suffocating. Its a landscape that was built up high and only had further to fall from grace. Like the American South, the West has its billboard towns and vacation centers but on the other side of any vacation town lie those who’d love nothing more than for their tenure in town to end.

Call By Night touches on war’s human scars and youth’s permanent marks, and in his framing, Miles backs off a touch on the overt touches of Echo and the Bunnymen that have swathed his earlier records. There’s still a grandeur to this one, but its stripped clean and simple, like wire ready to be harnessed to a spark. Miles’ voice is up close and booming in your ears like an accusation. The songs are sparse, not to the point of being empty, but unfettered in a way that gives them a bigger punch when he unlooses his demeanor. The tension is thick, like the wounds never healed, feeling as if he picks at the bandage it might all unravel. And sometimes it does, such as when he burns the world down on the devastating centerpiece “Divided In Two.” He’s been an integral part of Fresh & Only’s dark pop corners and it seems that after his sophomore album he almost packed it in, but as Call By Night can attest, its a good thing he had another one to get out of him. This is Miles at his best and a boon to those souls curled under the covers waiting for the dawn to come each day.

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EZTV – “High Flying Faith”

I came sorely late to EZTV’s first album, but the band’s timeless touch on the power pop paradigm seemed far too welcomed to pass up. Now the band stands on the verge of a follow-up and it sounds even more polished, working through the Byrdsian touches that found their way down to the likes of Shake Some Action-era Flaming Groovies and the bigger vistas of The Raspberries or later period Big Star. They’re fully gripping that hold on pop shimmer and this time they’re bringing Jenny Lewis along for the ride with some subtle backup vocals. Frankly, there couldn’t be a sweeter touch to add to any crystalline pop song than Lewis’ bourbon and honey drawl. The song fairly melts out of the speakers like sugar dissolving in water. Every note feels perfect, but not in a cloying way. EZTV have a timelessness that hits like the sweet pang of nostalgia rather than the hot slap of kitcsh. If this is how they’re rolling out of the gates for High In Place, then I’m pretty damn eager to hear how the rest plays out.



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Scott and Charlene’s Wedding – “Don’t Bother Me”

After a solid sending EP that’s lead the charge up this year, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding return for that full length romp and, like the EP namesake, “Delivered,” their new cut, “Don’t Bother Me” perfectly sums up the band’s slack atmosphere and shaggy vibe. In the Aussie spectrum, there are plenty who know just how to make that jangle work and even more who know that the suburban ethos of bored, broke and nonchalant go a long way. That said, Craig Dermody fills those phrases with more weight than most and makes the slacker soul seem enlightened, or at least merely charming. The video appropriately stages a walkabout through the band’s home life, wandering the rooms and leading up to packing it all in a truck and taking off. The band has recently relocated back to Melbourne after stints in NYC and London and they’re sounding all the better for it. Nothing like home to fan the embers that flame in your heart, eh? This clip leaves me only wanting more.


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Sister Crowley – Black River

Long Beach garage steamers Sister Crowley slipped out the tough-skinned Nightmarers EP last year and are ramping back up towards a new release with this flexi-single full of grit and growl on their own Astro Lizard imprint. The band’s evolved out of a psych leaning, echoplex cave to embrace the more driving punk spirit that was bustling beneath their debut LP. The new single has its sense of fun in tact and a dark current that speaks to their occult leaning namesake. It bodes well for what’s to come with a longer form promise around the corner. Long Beach has lived in the shadow of its big sister L.A. for years, but Sister Crowley and their crew are proving that there’s still a vitality to that town, thirty years after punk found its way there with T.S.O.L. Lookin’ out to see where this leads them, but for now, “Black River’ is proving a nice punch to any playlist these days.


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ORB

OK lets get it out of the way quickly, ORB sound a lot like Sabbath. I mean they have the early catalog on full repeat, day and night. They’re feeling the doom of Iomi and the dread of Osbourne in their marrow. But, you know what, screw it, they’re doing it right. If you’re going to go down the Sabbath rabbit hole, you better know how to handle that gas mask groove and you better be able to bring the low end like a boot to the neck. In that respect, this Geelong gaggle are doing doom-psych like it was their birthright. They stretch it out, kick up the maggots below the soil and don’t make this feel like a night at headbanger’s karaoke. They know that the speedier sections of Paranoid were fun, but the times when the band touched on prog, that’s when they were gathering the true clouds of doom. ORB has been behind the wall of sleep and they’ve dug up the bodies buried there.

It doesn’t hurt that Birth comes with a triple (quadruple?) pedigree backing it up. The man behind ORB is Zak Olsen, also of Geelong punks Hierophants and the album was recorded by Aussie heavy Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring), putting his stamp on the sound and shattering the very last bong in your cabinet with van rattling authority. He then kicks it over to King Gizz’ label Flightless on the home turf and completing the circle, its found a home at Castle Face in the US. This thing’s been making eyes at your girlfriend for the last twenty minutes and its moral compass is merely waiting for you to get up for a beer before it slinks in like the creep asleep in the back row of your Trig class. Shit, its a wonder this thing doesn’t come loaded in a shag shrouded package with pop-up quadraphonic. Essentially this album is the living embodiment of the second Bassmobile and that’s alright by me.


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Ben Chatwin – “Euclidean Plane”

Another piece of the puzzle on Chatwin’s debut for Ba Da Bing, the gorgeous piece “Euclidean Plane” wavers between chamber pop bliss and the subtle underwater psychedelics of Sven Libaek. Aptly, like Libaek, the video for “Euclidean Plane’ takes to the seas, pairing the soft movement of an octopus with the burbling build of tension from Chatwin’s score. Though, unlike Libaek, Chatwin’s outlook is much darker. The edge of wonder is constantly in danger of being taken over by dread. The last dip into Heat & Entropy saw Chatwin move the dial a bit further from the clouded mist he’s been working in but this one fully emerges in bold and brilliant colors, albeit colors that are circling the reef and rippling with the light dancing on the surface of the water. Its a beautiful piece that bodes well for a full album that brings Chatwin the wider praise that he deserves.



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Rhyton – “End of Ambivalence”

Rhyton rides again and its sounding as sunburned and tangled as ever. The Brooklyn trio includes RSTB fave Dave Shuford (D. Charles Speer, No-Neck Blues Band, Coach Fingers) along with Jimy SeiTang (Psychic Ills, Black Dirt Oak) and Rob Smith (Pigeons) all laying down a gnarled path of guitar that saunters down some of the same lanes that Sir Richard Bishop, Rangda and D. Charles himself have found themselves lost on these past couple of years. There’s a nervy and dangerous quality that lurks just beneath the surface and Rhyton deploy mystique and atmosphere with the same deft quality as they dish out technical prowess. Though the mind is rarely thinking about the complexities of the track when its got as much movement and finesse as “End of Ambivalence.” Just a taste of an album on the way towards the end of the month and from the sounds of it its going to be worth the wait.




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Silver Apples – S/T

Silver Apples were one of those bands whose legacy survives much longer than their initial output. The band surfaced in New York in 1969 and built an American outpost of Krautrock-indebted psychedelics that relied on the rhythmic chug of drummer Danny Taylor and flew outward toward cosmic impulses with the electronic work of singer Simeon. Simeon (singularly named) played an instrument that he named after himself, a setup that consisted of oscillators triggered by the hands, knees and feet. The rack contained twelve oscillators, telegraph keys, and assorted bits of radio broadcast gear. Their debut is by all means, a most uncommercial record, but the band had a growing reputation in the psychedelic underground and became a highly touted live experience.

The record was not a success by any degree, but it did spawn a follow-up, Contact, in the following year. Then, after that record was meat with similar sales, they all but disappeared until the time when reissues initially began to pop up around 1996 and a third record The Garden came to light and brought them back into public consciousness. Jackpot is putting the classic first LP back into hands again and the record is every bit as bracing, weird and oddly rhythmic as its always been. The influence can be felt spilling over into bits of Suicide’s first LP, Broadcast’s singed wire pop and Stereolab’s psychedelic burble. For a record who’s initial output was so coldly received, reissues rarely stick around long. Its a psychedelic artifact that’s as captivating as it is curious.





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Tangents

This one had me at the connection to Triosk, Aussie post-rock from back on the Leaf label that always used to make me smile. Ex-member Adrian Lim-Klumpes is on board here along with a host of other post-everything players who know that a good skittering beat and mash of jazz, electronic and folk can still nail down some import even past the meteoric rise of that ethos around the early aughts. Stateless embodies its title. It doesn’t seem to have a full allegiance to any of its disparate parts, but they come together nicely to provide an instrumental electronic album that’s got a nice sense of movement an that indebtedness to jazz that sticks just right. It always feels good in post-rock when that jazz element is just bubbling below the surface and not swinging wildly at the face. In that respect, the band’s been looser in the past, moving into a studio setup here, they feel buttoned down but not overly burdened by planning. This is one of those albums that’s great for getting shit done, its an active background, and honestly I mean that probably more complimentary that it sounds.

Sure you could crank the stereo and listen to Stateless in rapt attention, and maybe there are those that will, but this is the kind of album that headphones were made for; headphones meant to be taken out into the world. Its a blanket to wrap around the movement of others and a bed for thought. Personally, I’ve always appreciated an album like that. We all want someone to notice our nuances, but I’d say that its just as high praise to let others block out the noise and move brain cells in the right direction.



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GØGGS

In hindsight there’s no shortage of “supergroups” that Ty Segall’s been involved in. The current version of the Muggers is stacked so high with garage talent that its a wonder there’s any brevity to Emotional Mugger. At the time of it’s release, a collaborative record with Tim Presley from White Fence wasn’t marked by the same stigma it would be now, given both artists’ elevated status, and same could be said for his freakout fuzz platter with Mikal Cronin. Suffice it to say that most of the people that the man gathers around himself could be considered for supergroup status and Fuzz is pretty much in the same category now anyhow. However, GØGGS is the first to really get the flag hoisted high over its head and one that lives up to the expectations that sticker supports. Its the hardest sound yet from a Segall orbiting body and that’s largely because while Ty is in the ring, its Ex-Cult’s Chris Shaw who provides the driving force and evil-eyed core of the band’s sound.

Fans of Ex-Cult have plenty to chew on here but for my money GØGGS is the pure distillation of where Shaw was headed with that band. Thicker, grimier and flecked with freaked out forms that may have spilled over from Moothart and Segall’s work together earlier this year; GØGGS is a testament to shaking up your lineup from time to time and finding the friends who know how to kick out the shaggiest shit from your dirtbag soul. There’s no fear in GØGGS, its a howler monkey pinned to corner and eager to bring the fight. In a year that’s been packed with garage greats, this one’s the biggest trash can fire of the bunch; raging out of control, jagged and dangerous. Its peak Ty, peak Shaw and peak Mootheart. If Emotional Mugger is the punch to the throat of 2016, then this is the finishing kick.



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