Uranium Club – “Two Things At Once”

A new entry from the Sup Pop singles club sees RSTB faves Uranium Club getting a shout with a new double shot of gnarled punk madness. The single gives birth to “Two Things at Once (pts 1&2)” and the songs display UC’s knack for tightly wound guitars, narrative insanity, and post-punk the way it was meant to be – experimental as hell, rhythmic and ripped. The first part takes more than a few time shifts before settling into a hypnotic slide-out with their spoken-word cadence dripping off the guitars. The b-side is an instrumental wander through the most serene waters I’ve heard from Uranium Club yet. The song acts as a bit of a coda to the half that precedes it, threading in a bit of the same theme, and easing down into the horizon. I’ve always loved the Sub Pop singles for their willingness to take chances on bands that might not be a hit with their huge audience, though here’s hoping that like Omni, this is one band that might stick around. Then again, both Blues Control and Tyvek are in the ranks of Singles alums, so I won’t hold my breath.




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Comet Gain

It’s been a long time since the last Comet Gain LP graced the turntable, and in that time the world’s sought to smash itself head-first into the walls as often as possible. The woven comfort of their last album, while perhaps providing shelter from the storm, wouldn’t be quite what’s called for in this year of eroding centers, our own personal hell of 2019. So it’s only fitting that Fireraisers Forever! is here to save us from ourselves. David Feck is back with his knuckles bared, a la Réalistes, a companion piece in discomfort and disillusionment to their new slab. The record raises its teeth against politicians and the body politic, idiots and ignorance in all it’s greasy splendor. There’s a relentless restlessness to the album – turning their jangle n’ strum into a shield against the everyday dig of the doledrum foxhole.

Feck doesn’t feint as the record bursts open with a declaration that “We’re All Fucking Morons” and the rhetoric only gets more sizzle from there on out taking down the scumbags and scroungers on “The Institute Debased” and knocking the very core of nostalgia from its pedestal on “Mid 8Ts”. That said, it’s not all invective and gnash, there are moments that soften in the sun (“The Godfrey Brothers,” “Her 33rd Goodbye”) but they only balance the stiffened resolve of the rest of the album. This is a classic clash of Comet Gain impulses — melodic, melancholic, misanthropic, and mad and mellow. What’s clear is that Feck and co. have never lost a step over the years and every new Comet Gain just adds to the legacy.



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Bill Orcutt

After years of disassembling the notions of song through the divinations of his guitar, Bill Orcutt is putting them back together, albeit with his own slant on what folk and blues are meant to be. Orcutt’s always had a knack for taking songforms into less comfortable territory, letting his runs ruffle rather than soothe the soul, all while shaking the American Songbook by its ankles. He’s found a cache of secret notes between the pages of that songbook and he’s pulled a few of them into his own compositions for a ride that’s both familiar and transformative. The record roots itself in the same fingerpicked folk that might rear its head on a Richard Bishop or Fahey album and the same syncopated blues that informed players from the porches to the stage, but like Tetuzi Akiyama, Loren Connors, or 75 Dollar Bill alongside him, he’s taken the riff and ramble and given them teeth.

His runs aren’t pure, and we should all be thankful for that. When Orcutt runs the boogie down he’s bound to bend bones to the point of breaking if the listener is inspired to movement. Don’t nod along too hard lest you strain a ligament, y’know. His acoustic runs still bring forth the image of natural splendor, but there’s a taste of man-made disaster in there as well. In his vision trees are uprooted and twisted with power lines and smells of charred wood mingle with verdant moss. Orcutt goes to the well and brings back the elements of life, but not before letting a bit of blood loose in the water. We are nourished and slightly poisoned at the same time. As usual he’s proven a master of his forms, but just as usual he’s taken expectation and kicked it into the dirt. There are others that have tried, but few that can find that same singular light that Orcutt brings to an album.




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J.R. Bohannan – “Reflections of an American Dream”

The first cut from the upcoming solo debut LP by J.R. Bohannon is a sparkling, dewy song that rambles down the countryside with sun in its soul. After years playing with Torres and Gold Dime, Bohannon follows his EP Recôncavo from April with a record that stretches through solo sunshine and jazz explorations, bringing experimental drummer in demand Greg Fox on board along and Luke Stewart on bass. For now, though, this one is all Bohannon – bare, but not dry, finding the beauty in running its fingers along the ridges of fallen trees and letting the mountain air fill every inch of it with a good humor. The record is out later this month and I’d recommend getting a bit excited about that.



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The Hecks

Chicago art-punk experience The Hecks have been laying down a solid revue since 2012, stepping up to the long player party with their 2016 eponymous record for Trouble in Mind. While that was a solid shot at shoving pop on its ass, the band finds their full groove on this month’s My Star. Wedding the pocket pop reactions of new wave and post-punk to the prog that preceded it, the band invigorates the past by folding fractured glass sounds onto themselves – letting their torqued hooks repeat like Krautrock gone glycerin and snap steadily in plastic precision. They capture that moment when the collection of sounds seeping into post-punk felt fresh. The Hecks bend the freakishness and experimentation of the early ‘80s into a whirlwind of light and sound and we all come out better off for it.

Standouts like “Flash” stretch and contort their sound through cracked mirror caverns, taking the normal pop song into a headier direction. They’re quick to compact it back into a plush and prim box when needed, though. They run a Prince flexidisc through the hot n’ warbled presses on “So 4 Real,” going for full sweat cycle and making it sound easy. Like fellow Trouble albums Omni they know how powerful tone can be, and the band nails the core of their sound to guitars that oscillate from metallic to plasticine, keys that shimmer and shine like mall lights off of plexi displays and drums so crisp they threaten to shatter if pushed any further. The record walks the line of nostalgia forward – there’s so much familiar about what The Hecks are doing but it’s all been jumbled and shuffled to obscure their source material. It’s disorienting and thrilling, making for one of the year’s more compelling pop pieces.



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RSTB Radio WGXC: October

Last night marked the third month of radio over at WGCX and I’d have to say it was another good one (I’m biased). Another mix of classics and soon to be classics with inclusions from the new United Waters, the new stunner from Tobacco City, a recently repressed Mapache, Happy End and Kebnekaise bringing up the ’70s psych standards and the b-side to Garcia Peoples’ upcoming LP bringing down the house. Check out the tracklist below and listen/download the show HERE.

::Playlist::

SUSS – Wetlands /// Mosses – Fever Dream Vacation /// United Waters – Arrowheads /// Pugh Rogefeldt – Små Lätta Moln /// Opal- She’s A Diamond /// Tobacco City – Blue Raspberry /// Garcia Peoples – Heart and Soul /// Allah Las – Prazer Em Te Conhecer /// Country Funk – Really My Friend /// Mapache – Chico River /// Triptides – See Her Light /// Happy End – Haikara Beautiful /// Kebnekaise – Jag Älskar Sommaren, Solen Och Varma Vindar /// Neal Francis – She’s A Winner /// Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn – The Beast /// Gong Gong Gong – Ride Your Horse /// Wet Tuna – Cowpath 40 /// Weak Signal – Lying /// Velveteen Rabbit – Guitar /// The Hecks – Flash /// The Taxidermists – Flying Forever /// Kelley Stoltz – My Regime /// Squid – Houseplants /// The Springfields – Reachin’ For The Stars /// The Wake – Firestone Tyres /// Program – Motorbike /// Blades of Joy – Finally High

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Allah Las

Been a few years since Allah Las issued that last foray into the surf-splashed waters of their sunshine soul and their latest, LAHS, arrives not a moment too soon. The band has long been buttered by a carefree approach to garage, folk and psychedelia, but the new LP seems even more soaked in the languid love of the West Coast sounds than ever before. The songs here don’t fuss or grumble. The Las long ago threw their watches into the surf and let them float away. When the sun dips low they know it’s time to head to the covered patio perch that drives the night. Skin tightened by the sun, but never burned, this is the soundtrack to communal Mezcal flights – melding the salt air with the salt rim as the fingerpicked guitars burble in the background.

While the vibe is wholly Californian in nature, there’s also a sense of travel and wanderlust in the bones of LAHS. They take their relaxed attitude with them while they ramble on to the next locale. The band sparked the match on this particular sound with the soundtrack to the surf doc Self Discovery For Social Survival – turning the oceanic churn into musical motion – and they continue to fan the flames here. There’s a natty, ‘60s sense of properly buttoned, yet relaxed style to the album. The smells of linen and leather waft on the breeze. The yurt they hunkered down in is communal and the days are without itinerary. Even if you can’t get away, LAHS can act as a 45-minute microcosm of vacation and leisure.

Allah Las are the guides, shifting off the path and immersing the listener in a sea of unfamiliar voices – utilizing Spanish and Portuguese to add a new dimension to their songwriting. The veil of anonymity slips over the traveler in a new land and it is as comforting as the menagerie of spices that fill the air, balanced with damp wood and that familiar snap of salt on the wind. It’s the tie that binds. No matter where they roam, the sea is always lapping at the lashes of an Allah Las record. The band slips the ties between George Harrison, José Mauro, Curt Newbury, Curt Boettcher and UK folk group Heron, weaving together an album that exudes ease from every pore.



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Je Suis France – “I’ve Got The Look”

Georgia’s Je Suis France have amassed a fairly admirable catalog over the past few decades, keeping their output locked in short format EPs, a handful of albums, and a split with Acid Mothers Temple along the way. They’ve cooked up a new LP and it sees the band refining and re-ingesting their sounds for a new age. On the album they utilize the same set of lyrics and drop them against vastly different backgrounds. “Looking For Someone Like Me” takes the punk palette, while “I’ve Got The Look” slows those lyrics down and covers them in a miasma of sound – German-gelled bass, squalls of sax, hazed keys. Side by side they’d barely register as cousins, let alone twins in different garb. “I’ve Got The Look” wins the day for me, locking into some of the signals that give the band legs on stage. The new LP Back To The Basics of Love is out November 5th from Ernest Jenning. Lock into “I’ve Got The Look” below.


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House Deposit – “Reptiles”

The shamble-down pop of House Deposit recalls the simple, yet bittersweet nook that The Feelies, The Chills, The Bats, or The Verlaines occupied. The band came together out of tragedies and friendship to create songs that are spare, but stacked with heartfelt melancholy. “Reptiles” has a darker streak than some of the other early singles I’ve heard from the band and it’s lonesome, lean sound walks the line between airy indie pop and a tense, bound post-punk sound that’s struggling to break through the jangles. Vocalists Meaghan and Sam bounce their vocals between them with an ease that cuts the tension, but the song is fraught and full of feeling. This one seems to be a low-key release, even by Aussie indie standards, though the initial tape is already hitting a second pressing. Gonna want to keep an eye out for this in the coming weeks.






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Bill Direen – A Memory of Others

In the lore of New Zealand rock, Bill Direen is a mythical figure. More than just a songwriter (though he’s a hell of one to be sure) Direen also served as a literary guide at the head of Percutio Magazine and he’s written as extensively on the page as he has in his songs. This new volume from Sophomore Lounge acts as a bit of a musical accompaniment to his life and works. Simon Ogston has directed a documentary about Direen — Bill Direen: A Memory of Others — and this serves as a companion piece to the film. It’s not a soundtrack, since the film itself doesn’t pull strictly from the recorded versions of Bill’s work, but the songs themselves are as integral to getting to know Direen as the film itself.

Direen kicked through several early bands in his youth – forming (the) Vacuum in 1980 along with soon to be members of The Pop Group. His band The Urbs laid the groundwork for The Builders (or Bilders depending what year it is.) The group’s debut Beatin’ Hearts still stands as an essential of pre-Flying Nun primal New Zealand rock and has cemented Direen in the roots of a sound that would continue to expand and explode in and around Christchurch in the years to come. The album, covers his time in The Builders and beyond, but this is no chronological arc. The record skips scattershot between periods and players, giving a three-dimensional picture of Direen’s work.

The songs move from early, fuzz-caked but brilliant pop nuggets to arid and affecting poetry backed by more organic and quieter players. Direen traversed post-punk to folk while making it all seem like one long spectrum. Like the film that portrays him, the album is euphoric and melancholic, hallucinatory and revelatory. Direen’s name should always be among those being discussed in the formation of the Kiwi sound, but more than that, he should be among the best of those seeking to shove pop from its ivory pedestal – a punk in the truest sense of the term. He’s a peddler of pain and a seeker of light. His music and art deserve to be brought to the surface worldwide. I highly recommend checking out Ogston’s film to get some insight into Direen’s arc with some great commentary from a litany of fellow NZ players, and picking up this anthology of South Hemi bedrock.






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