Ty Segall – “My Lady’s On Fire”

Well I’m a sucker for a soft Segall ballad, that’s for sure. The parts of his previous S/T record that hit me hardest were the moments when the lights went low and the volume got bumped a touch out of the redline haze. “My Lady’s On Fire” kicks in with the same intentions – jangles leading the charge and feeling every bit the folk-popper in the making. Segall takes a swerve though and blows this up to a sunset ’70s showstopper full of horns and a swaying chorus that proves he’s getting comfortable in his role as a topline songwriter. There’s a something here that’s chasing the infinite classic, a Last Waltz ensemble piece that’ll someday bring the house down in tears.

Still not sure what this blocked primary release schedule is leading up to, but Januarys are becoming traditional months for Ty to release a new album so there’s always hope that this is pointing that direction. If it’s just a good shake on the bag of tracks without a home, though, I’m not going to complain either.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Anna St. Louis

There’s something inviting, cozy even, about Anna St. Louis’ songwriting. She’s exploring a spare form of folk that’s not at all out of place on a sub-label of the Woodsist Family, but she’s lighting a fire that’s a touch warmer than even their catalog usually embraces. Her songs explore a fingerpicked style that’s immediately bringing to mind Jack Rose, James Elkington and James Jackson Toth. She’s got her ramble and knows how to let it ripple through a song, but St. Louis’ strength comes from expanding the atmosphere with that aforementioned heat – a dusty, homey feeling that makes each song feel as lived in and storied as an old family cabin.

The vocals on First Songs hang in the air with no pretension. They’re unadorned but buzzed around by ringing chords like hummingbirds at dawn. St. Louis has found a way to incorporate a timeless country vision into her folk. When those humid, drenched vibes start to drift off into the horizon she tethers the album down with a fireside simplicity that lets the listener into the room, curled on the floor next to her and sleeping out the sickness with the sound of her pepper and woodsmoke delivery. It’s hard not to fall in love with this one on first listen, and repeated plays really only cement the feeling. This album feels like a scratch demo given a larger audience, so one only wonders what she’ll dig into with a bigger budget and more time.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Swiftumz – Game Six

You’d be forgiven for having missed Swiftumz’ two LPs over the years. Despite crafting consecutive albums of homespun pop that shimmers brightly, Chris McVicker’s output has slipped all too quietly out into the world via the Holy Mountain and Melters labels. Its a shame though, because both records captured an artist who is at ease with his corner of the world – tumbling through a muted brand of power pop, glimmering jangle-pop and slicing through the bleary-eyed glories of American Indie with a rather precise knife. So, it’s with the release of McVicker’s latest single that SF’s Fruits & Flowers posts their second essential release of the year.

“Game Six” is pure jangled glory, spillin’ sunshine out of its pockets like quarters on laundry day. Like most of MicVicker’s songs it sounds so effortlessly intuitive you’d almost swear you’ve heard it before. He’s a student of the late ’80s and early ’90s and given a good time shift would most certainly have been pulling down some zine ink. This track alone is worth the price of admission, but he backs it up with a b-side that’s also tipping the gold standard. Shifting into melted-amber Indie-pop mode here and threading his way through Galaxie 500 and Yo La Tango vibes as felt through the soul of the late great Brightblack Morning Light, he’s letting things fade into a sherbet sunset – glowing an orange aura around the track to the very end. Both songs are on endless repeat around here and you’d do well to snag one too.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

The Cowboys

Bloomington’s Cowboys spit-shined their work for Volume 4, the first of their records that found them studio bound. That record snuck out on tape last year and caught a few ears, but hardly enough, given the promise the band showed and the kind of sweat ‘n soul whirlwind they were showcasing between those two spools. Happily, a couple of folks agreed enough to press it down to LP this year and the band follows on with their a brand new LP for Hozac.

They’ve strayed from the studio back to their home setup, but despite cranking these tunes to 8-track, they’ve still managed to keep the crust at bay. Despite a little tape hiss, the transition isn’t too noticeable. Forging on with plenty more sweat-wrenchers, the band’s prowess is cemented within the grooves of the new record, and on 3rd LP, they should rightfully garnish comparisons to Aussie exports Royal Headache. For all their shakin’ bouts of guitar twang their true asset is apparent in vocalist Keith Harman, who’s got a a leather-scratched soul wail that’s as classic as any. His delivery bumps them up out of the cattle call of garage bands that swarm the country. Though, to say Harman’s the only reason to listen isn’t giving The Cowboys enough credit.

The band’s also got a real affinity for shying away from the cliches of garage’s past and present. They’ve got a lighter touch and aren’t afraid to swagger into territory that’s more Todd Rundgren than tortured fuzz (“Mike’s Dust”, “Like A Man”) and it suits them well. Even when they’re still hitting the gas, Harman pulls them closer to Jagger blue-eyed soul territory rather than tumbling through the Sonics/Stooges axis that’s often split by so many these days. The record’s got a ton of appeal and feels like it’s constantly just a hard push away from making something that’s indelible in the halls of rock. This feels like its going to be a watershed moment to look back on from their undoubtedly future classics.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Sunwatchers – “Silent Boogie”

Brooklyn’s Sunwatchers follow up their chaotic record for Castle Face with a new slab for perennial favorite Trouble in Mind. The first cut off of Sunwatchers II is a searing skin-melter with Jeff Tobias’ sax splitting hairs between the fult-tilt simmer of ’60s garage-punk and the unrestrained reaches of free jazz. They come down hard with a rhythm tumble that’s unstoppable and a sway over skronk that’s formidable and menacing. They remind me of the psych-jazz tumble of Cato Salsa/The Thing/Joe McPhee’s Two Bands and a Legend in a very good way. Gonna want to get into this when February rolls around, it’ll brighten up a the dark days and warm the cold nights.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Maston

Usually talks of psychedelia around here involve some amount of fuzz, bombast or a drench in effects. Frank Maston has always taken a decidedly lighter step into psychedelia. His records are draped in the soft cues and clever subtitles that populated the mix I explored a while back. It’s little wonder he once shared label space with Jacco Gardner, as he also shares with him a propensity for lush psych dreamscapes that bubble slightly and burn away at the edges like filmstrips caught on the bulb.

He’s setup Tulips like a Library record from sleeve to song, emulating the kind of records that enamor collectors – releases from Pasquale Castiglione & Paolo Casa, Remigio Ducros, or Alessandro Alessandroni. The record conjures visions of Italian beaches, winding roads along the California coast and decadent interiors fit with Dutch Modern furnishings and ankle deep shag. Maston has clearly spent some time with his influences and absorbed every shred of DNA from their work he could. He’s not only created a loving homage, he’s also crafted another fine entry to the lineage of psych Library issues.

Much like the Belbury Circle record from earlier this week, this is a great example of an artist continuing the traditions of instrumental music. It’s actually a wonder, given the tone and scope of the record, how Maston hasn’t ended up working with Ghost Box at this point. Needless to say this is a key pickup for those interested in soft psych, Italian Library issues or setting the right tone to your newly constructed ’60s grotto.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Rabit

If Communion was producer Eric C. Burton’s real introduction to the world (despite several notable EPs preceding it) then Les Fleurs Du Mal is his grand gesture – an album that cements his stature among those who’d look to move the needle forward to the point of stress. The album embraces much more than Communion‘s stark atmospheres and crumbling visions of an organism eating itself from the inside out. Here, he’s let in air and light and allows them to dance around in the carcass of the beast he’s made his home, then steadily closes out through a process of aural disintegration.

The album is on a larger scale, with sonic debris littering the gritty world he’s built. It’s an album that’s frightening at moments, with heft that can be felt ricocheting through the marrow of the listener if administered through headphones. He’s an adept builder of tone, so when he turns from the airy, sunlit alleys of his opening tracks to the bombstruck nights of “Ontological Graffiti” and “Dogsblood Redemption,” the panic that sets in is real and visceral. He continues through the album like a refugee of sound in a world devoid of hope, picking at the scattered static images of our self-crowned utopia for sustenance. The record feels like a judgement, a montage of hate and hope beamed through to an alien race that speaks only in terms of atmospheric pressure on the skull.

It’s easy to see how Burton’s star has risen (he did just get off a turn working with Björk) as he’s a master of environments and doesn’t feel tethered to the notions of an album’s flow as dictated by beats, pop aesthetics, or accessibility. He’s a producer who’s working art into electronics and vice vesa. What he’s wrought here is probably one of the best futurist visions of the last few years. It’s an album that would work as orchestral doctrine in a world that’s given up on organic instruments. It is a record built for the the scavengers of the scrap heap of our modern times. When we all reach that bleak ecological break that’s been promised, this is the soundtrack that’s going to be in the headphones of the next generation.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Gökçen Kaynatan – S/T

I’d trust Finders Keepers to get me briefed on anything from the glory days of Turkish psych. The label has already proven their mettle with releases from Selda Bagcan, Gençlik Ile Elele and Ersen and they seem to have a conduit that few Westerners are plugged into. They continue the riffling of the past with a reissue of the compiled works of Gökçen Kaynatan. Already a burgeoning part of the Anatolian rock scene and a builder of custom instruments, he was a pioneer of introducing electronics into the folds of Turkish pop.

His discography spanned just four singles, but with access to a private studio filled with technological wonders of the time he pushed psych-pop out of its fuzz-laden lair and into much weirder and wilder territory than before. There were certainly others doing similar work across Germany and eventually the US and UK, but Kaynatan gives it that touch of Anatolian flair that’s endeared the likes of Barış Manço and Erkin Koray to me over the years. The songs slink with a strange funk and reach for something intangibly cool. Following this work, Kaynatan began a career that would see him shape the sound of programs on Turkish National channel TRT 1. Somehow its not surprising that this auteur wound up in Library compositions as there’s definitely a feeling of that ilk pressed between these nine gems.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Gunn-Truscinski Duo

Has it really been since 2012 that Steve Gunn and John Truscinski paired their prowess to purge a temperamental squall from their instruments? Seems that it has, but the pair is back together and despite Gunn’s rather meteoric rise in the interim, it feels like not a day has passed in their symbiotic sonic pact. Bay Head, their new LP, sounds like two artists making music simply for themselves and the cut cord of commercial appeal suits them nicely.

Moving away from Gunn’s recent reliance on pop structure, the record builds its stormfronts on both his fingerpicked runs, threading the album like looped vines of sound, and a more caustic, rusted metal explosion of corroded fuzz. The album is, for the most part, covered in clouds that are grey streaked and threatening at times, but when the duo lets a little light in there’s a peek of delicacy as well (“Shell,” “Some Lunar Day”). Even Gunn’s most enticing moments, however, are not without a bouquet of thorns for listeners who relax into their twined beauty too quickly. This is not a sunshine ramble of folk, but rather a full picture of turmoil and respite.

The real beauty here is in the interplay between the two artists. With guitar and percussion duos the language is the most important thing and Gunn and Truscinski know how to converse, playing off one another in subtle nudges. When the guitars threaten to boil, scratching at their amps like caged animals, Truscinski pulls the chain, tumbling with Gunn but knowing where the boundaries lie. Bay Head is ecstatic and free, but never messy, never threatening to buck its listener. This album is a reminder of just how potent these two musicians can be, and even if its another five years before we get another one, it’ll have been worth it.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

The Belbury Circle

With the zeitgeist in full swing and America and the world at large back in the throes of their favorite horror-synth duo and the TV show they rode in on, it’s good to remember that the sound underwent a ton of iterations before this point. It’s also enjoyed a few revivals in the last few years, with high water marks from Outer Space, Emeralds, OPN and Pye Corner Audio picking up the Goblin/John Carpenter reigns well before Dixon and Stein found their calling. Add to that list The Belbury Circle, the duo of Ghost Box honcho Jim Jupp and The Advisory Circle’s Jon Brooks. The pair have followed up an excellent synth-mining EP (that featured the legendary John Foxx) with an equally adept full-length. The duo proves that there’s still more inspiration left in the well and show the youths how to make the most of your influences.

Both have explored moments of uneasy nostalgia in the past, though their mainstays, The Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle, spend a lot more time in the hypnogogic light-end of the spectrum than the anxious depths they plumb here. Outward Journeys is taken from the school of synth that populated Italian Library issues, crafting sweeping scores that aren’t just rooted in the nail-bitten horror end of the spectrum. Instead they manage a bittersweet ache that’s punching holes in nostalgia’s preciousness. Both halves credit television scores as the impetus to pick up synths in the first place and the album is a clear love letter to their memories of an evolving medium.

Then there’s the kicker – two more collaborations here with synth legend and Ultravoxx frontman John Foxx. The one-off collab from the EP seemed like a stroke of luck, an impossible scenario that wouldn’t be repeated. He returns, however, to hand down lessons in how to get the most out of synth-pop’s brooding atmospheres. In just two turns at the mic, Foxx outpaces the whole lot of synth-pop imitators hoping to grasp at the thread of ’80s pop permanence. The record’s soundtrack feel, prime guest spot and packaging tie-in (Julian House design as always with Ghost Box) make this one a key 2017 release and a reminder that there’s no need to settle for average synth.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments