Peter Howell & John Ferdinando – Ithaca, Agincourt, & Other Psych-Folk Fairy Tales

Every Record Store Day there are a flood of releases that no one in their right mind needs to own. There are a dozen or so scattered titles that are necessary portions of back catalog that just get a bit overshadowed and would have ideally made great reissues given some space to be discussed on their own. Then there are the real gems. More often than not these real gems get pushed aside as well. They’re often reissues or records that appeal to a select group of collectors and aren’t flashy enough to get pre-release press. Sometimes, though, the best part of this is you can pick them up in regular distro dives once the dust settles. A few of these found some critical reception – Brett Smiley’s Sunset Tower reissue on What’s Your Rupture, the essential Alice Clark eponymous LP on We Want Sounds. This year, however one of the gems that slipped by softly came from Munster Records. The label issued an almost complete overview of the collaborative works of Peter Howell & John Fernando to little or no fanfare.

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Nadah El Shazly w/ Karkhana + US Tour

Ahead of her upcoming tour with Iceage I’ve got a listen to Nadah El Shazly’s side of her recently released EP Carte Blanche (Unrock Records). The EP, a split with Sir Richard Bishop and W. David Oliphant, sees Shazly collaborate with her ensemble Karkhana. Said ensemble is comprised of top Middle Eastern and Mediterranean players including Sam Shalabi, Michael Zerang, and Umut Caglar. The tracks scrape at the psyche, focusing not on the fluid rhythmic styles associated with the region, but on an inverted vision of jazz, psychedelics, noise, and tradition. The songs for the EP were recorded while the band took up residency at Inter Arts Center in Malmö, Sweden, where the band also worked on tracks for an upcoming full length due later in the year.

For the tour Shazly will be backed by Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Thierry Amar, Shayna Dulberger and Luke Stewart on double bass along with saxophonist / drummer / synth player Devin Brahja Waldman (Patti Smith, William Parker, and Thurston Moore, Brahja, etc.). Dates below to see Shazly swing through your area.

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Village of Spaces – “Pace and Gait”

A bucolic new video from Village of Spaces, the duo of Dan Beckman-Moon and his partner Amy Moon Offerman-Sims along with a constantly revolving chorus of players from Big Blood, Amps for Christ, Dire Wolves among others walking the cosmic trail. “Pace and Gait” is a buzzing, serene piece of psych-folk, though its more interested in soothing the soul than wobbling the listener off their axis. Beckman-Moon’s slightly nasal croon lulls the listener to a place of lamplight solitude and the flood of background voices makes the invitation seem pretty tempting. The video is awash in hazy seaside imagery that recalls the cooler end of the summer, with the band feeling like local residents of a summer town once the influx of weekend drop-ins has finally skidded to a close and the true calm of the place is restored once again. The band’s LP, Shaped by Place is out next week on Feeding Tube.



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Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughin

While there’s barely a raised eyebrow at the thought of Mary Lattimore helming a collection of neo-classical minimalist compositions there’s a bit of an ear perk when Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan gets thrown into the mix as well. The pair have teamed up for a collection of movements called New Rain Duets, with Mac helming the synthesizer as a foil to Mary’s poignant plucks. The pair are working in an Eno womb of sound – appropriately evoking the grey-skied sighs of the album’s title. There’s a feeling of cabin fever, bone chill brooding, and eventually a resigned despair to the record. The pieces, set against actual field recordings of rain, begin by lapping at the windows of the soul in a deflating drizzle, rather than wild torrents of sound. There’s isolation vibrating between the notes, a yearning to connect doused by nature’s icy fingers.

As usual Lattimore’s playing remarkably pulls the heart from its chest and massages an ephemeral ache into every inch. As the record wears on, though, MacCaughan’s synths become less subsumed into the walls and reach a rising panic- the feeling of isolation, fear, and anxiety pushing aside Lattimore’s emotional balms. The caged demeanor moves from home windows to car windows, with the rain slicking the streets and a storm lacquering danger onto every minute. There’s still that unmistakable pang of sadness – the feeling that if you can just get through this deluge it’ll all work out all right. In the throes of the second and third movements, the light of exit doesn’t seem so close, however.

I’d love to say that the fourth movement brings a feeling of peace, but its more relief. The gnawing of anxiety and inertia is left behind in a long sigh, but the break in the downpour only seems to leave the world damp and dour. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking record, that doesn’t let the listener off easy. While its an unexpected output from these two musicians, its nonetheless a masterfully constructed chrysalis of pain and panic.



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Salt Lick – “Into The Night”

Got another drip-dried, gutter-glued bout of heavy garage blues from L.A.’s Salt Lick today. “Into the Night” turns the turbine to swamp n’ swelter with a sludge-thick blast of power trio swagger that’s huffing from the same tube as Blue Cheer, Toad, Buffalo, and Tractor. The band’s only polished their pedal-down power since their early singles and this cut from their upcoming LP proves that the crew at Permanent know their way around a chest-rattler or two. Seems only fitting that the guys putting together those Brown Acid comps (Salt Lick double as label staffers) also have it in ‘em to channel the handlebar heaven of guttural psych-sploitation when they step up to the mic. This is a nice slice of what’s on the way from their eponymous full length, so inoculate yourself to the fuzztone fever with this cut and get ready for more when the album hits this Friday.




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Fog Window

For those of you paying attention, Fog Window lives in the extended family of Devin, Gary & Ross, the bizarro psych trio who have been frothing in the fringes for the last decade or so. The players themselves have been on the horizon even longer. Gary Panter issued a single with the Residents, did design work for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, contributed comics to RAW and knocked out a Yo La Tengo cover painting and you barely thought to say ‘thanks.’ Panter hooked up with Devin Flynn, also a purveyor of fine comics and illustration (Y’all So Stupid, Adult Swim, Yo Gabba Gabba), as a duo LP on Ecstatic Yod/Feeding Tube in 2011 and eventually they pulled in fellow psychedelic traveler Ross Goldstein to the fold. The partnership set the scene for two LP’s of melatonin-mad psych-folk goo that’ll warp yer wagon if you let ‘em, 2011’s Four Corners and 2014’s Honeycomb of Chakras. They’ve absorbed a couple more campfire cosmonauts into the mix for the lovely sprawl that is Fog Window’s debut – with Lily Rogers and Curtis Godino of the band Worthless rounding out the roster here.

With the deeper bench the band expands the notions of psychedelic drip that and DMT satellite transmissions that DG&R have molded into shape over the last few years. The record is hard to pin down (as might be expected) and the styles shift like colored oils under glass. Rogers adds an ethereal touch with her high register folk fawning, giving Fog Window a dreamy quality on shimmering tracks like “Time in Miles” and “Hippie Girl.” Don’t get your head set on where this is going though, the band won’t sit still for your dream-folk fantasies. The tone shifts to campfire clatter, humble and hummable, and then slides through the silt into spoken word workouts that are half-remembered through the haze of substance, reality, and time.

They drop out of the dream entirely by the time we roll into side three, amping up the ozone past more than a tickle in your throat and knocking a bit of cosmic sense into the listener with a toasted blues shuffle that could take a tête-à-tête with Endless Boogie and come out sauntering. While I appreciate the whole of Fog Window’s mercurial madness, this side hits me just right. “Landing Gear” sets the tone for the second half of the album, which seems to slide further off this crumpled coil and into the wet ink wonderland of the band’s rubberized hallucinations. By the time the fourth and final side is upon you the ground’s gone gummy and started to rise like quicksand, but if feels natural. It feels right. Fog Window are there to hold your hand as you tip off the edge of this shoddy temporal existence. They’re sonic Sherpas for end times shepherding us all into the smoke on the horizon.

Check out a stream of the LP below. Double gatefold comes with a bonus newsprint zine featuring art by the band.



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L’epée – “Dreams”

Anton Newcombe’s been sponsoring the US invasion of The Limiñanas for some time now, appearing on singles with them and producing their last album, Shadow People. Only seems fitting that they should all just join up for a full band sitdown and crank out a few cuts. The first single from their new group L’epée, which also wrangles in Emmaunelle Seigner of Ultra Orange, hits this week and it’s a smoke-thickened version of the Francophiled psych stomp that The Limiñanas have made their meal ticket. “Dreams” has a hypnotic groove grinding under the hood, topped with an enticing twang, the incense-tinged vocals of Seigner and some hip-swung background vox that give this a ‘60s TV shimmy vibe. It’s a nice dichotomy of heavy and heavenly and definitely makes me want more from the crew, which should be soon. Debut LP is coming in June.



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Rosey Dust – “Keep For Life”

Over two sides of his debut single, Kevin Klausen channels The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub and post-Big Star Chilton with the zeal of a tried and true acolyte. There’s ripped denim and sweat baked into “Keep For Life” – a roughed up track that feels most in debt to The Mats’ legacy of roadworn, dustbowl American rock n’ roll. The flip enters a bit of tenderness into the equation, softening the lights on the verses, but still laying into the guitar like an ‘80s kid enthralled with the long tail of the ’70s, yet ducking the FM strains that dominate the right of the dial. Klausen’s clearly waiting for the solos in each track, itching for his time to show off and, while it works well in these two tracks, its easy to see how two long sides of the same could begin to wear on the anticipation index. Its a nice first stride, albeit one that stands squarely on the shoulders of giants before him.



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Pinch Points – “Shibboleth”

Melourne’s Pinch Points fire back this year with another infected, squirming bout of post-punk poison. The first taster of their upcoming Moving Parts LP is an itchy-toothed bite into society that leaves blood on the bite mark. Hammered guitars herald their heavily coiled sound opening into a battery of drums and vocal venom that sees the band trading barbs between themselves shouting along on the chorus. The track ties the band’s tension around the listener like a steel-banded scarf, slowly tightening the pressure as they careen towards the close. The record is out May 31st through Roolette in Australia, Six Tonnes de Chair in France and Burger here in the States. Gonna want to keep an eye out for this one.



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Centrum

Hooked into the drone consciousness of decades of Swedish psychedelia, avant-rock rumblings from across the Atlantic, and progressive nodes from the cosmic German gardens of the ‘70s, Centrum delivers their debut in thrall of the thrum. With members of Hills and Weary Nous in their ranks the duo starts with a solid pedigree. The pair turns För Meditation into an album of deep tissue drop-out that slots alongside contemporaries Myrrors as much as it hooks into the free-psych pastoral history of International Harvester or Träd, Gras och Stenar. Winky umlaut aside, the title’s not just for show here, this is some serious altered state psychedelia, built on a bedrock of harmonic rumble that the band uses to explore molten fuzz guitar runs, mystic organ rituals, and strings that run through Eastern waters.

There’s certainly a meditative state at work here, but the band doesn’t shy away from burning down their temples as well. Tracks saw into the psyche with an insistent OM, but blossom into doom-draped visions of slow-motion destruction by album’s end. The record is fittingly nestled among the lysergic legions of Rocket Recordings, contending nicely with their lineup of higher burning trip makers of late. För Meditation winds up more than its advertised price of inner peace and metronomic pulse, the album is a proper heir to the Swedish sects of psilocybin truth seekers and sweat lodge assassins.



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