Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Newcastle’s Pigsx7 tear another hole in the fabric of reality with their sophomore LP for Rocket Recordings. The impossibly named band takes another swipe at their potent mix of Monster Magnet sludgelord psychosis bonded to the give no fucks, take no prisoners mentality of Motorhead. While that seems like a rather tall order to live up to, the band keeps pace here for six monstrous tracks that come on with the apocalyptic heat of a Mad Max location scouting. The songs on King of Cowards, based loosely on the idea of deadly sins and moral corruption, swing wild with a looser feel than those on their predecessor Feed The Rats. The band convened in the Italian countryside to commune with the dirt before laying down these tracks and the country air and lack of neighbors seems to have let them crank the throttle quite a bit and work out a sense of improvisation that licks the knife edge with a sense of danger.

The band brings ex-Gnod drummer Chris Morley into the fold this time around and his animalistic beat works to fuel the band’s appetite for action. While they keep those doom clouds rumblin’ they’re tethered much closer to to Terra Firma this time, scratching the pavement rather than rippling through the godheads themselves. Pigsx7 are still not ones for brevity, but they’re keeping it under the ten minute mark everytime, coming nowhere near Rats’ sidelong ozone-choker bookends. That sense of movement and change works well for the band. While they’re built for epics, its nice to see them tighten the belt on the record, no doubt saving some of the cosmos-scratching jams for the stage when they engage the longer numbers from KoC.

The relatively compact run times allow them to laser focus their brutality, hefting iron-ore riffs with ungodly strength and pummeling the listener until they wear away the rough ends into a numb shell. When Pigsx7 lay into your brain, they aim to knock at least a little something loose. Honestly, in this year, a little sonic lathe to tear off the top layer feels like a good idea. We’re all sinners in the Pigs’ eyes, and penance feels good.



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Sundays & Cybele

Guruguru Brain has let loose with two essential doses of Japanese psychedelia on the same day. While the attention will more than likely splash heavy on Kikagaku Moyo (and deservedly so) to discount the leap forward taken by Sundays & Cybele would be criminal. The band has always suffered from a case of unfortunate branding, with their name conjuring up wafts of precious indie pop. Its often hard to reconcile their dreamily psychedelic catalog with a French film about a young girl befriending a war veteran. That’s seriously some Belle & Sebastian level tweeness and it has no place crowding the mind while the Tokyo band are infecting your speakers.

The band is, instead, rummaging through an intricate trunk of psychedelic trinkets and using their talismans well to unlock the higher vibrating wavelengths of the universe. On their last album they went for amplifier shred, though always with a pristine touch that pulled them back from the edge. The band doesn’t tread into the domain of fuzz and fury and it distinguishes their brand of crystal catacomb psychedelia from many of their contemporaries. They’ve pushed even further this time into grand dynamics they touch gingerly on before. They dip fully into the wells of prog, augmenting their setup with a larger reliance on organ tones and simmering atmospheres.

Their languid and lush constructions find them in a unique space, bending the expansive aches of Todd Rundgren’s Utopia through a past refraction of classic Japanese bands like Jacks and Apryl Fool. Moreso than many of their contemporaries they’re not just prying open the cosmic eye, they’re massaging the soul as well. On The Grass is probably the most fully realized vision of the band, aching through nine pleas to the gods of love as well as cracking the cosmic egg. While we’d all like to see the temples crumble with Acid Mothers and Kikagaku Moyo, it’s refreshing to watch a band build such a lush ode to lysergic beauty.




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Charalambides – “Proper”

There are no real applicable labels for the medium in which Charalambides operate in. Like fellow Northeast luminaries Tower Recordings they’re rooted in psych and folk if you want to simplify, but you probably shouldn’t. They’re rooted in traditions of experimental songform and quite often delving into drone, but they typically tap into something ‘other’ and intangible. There’s a primal nature to their music that’s always felt like rites, spirituals without the burden of carved beliefs. This side of their songwriting is on full display on “Proper,” the latest peek into their upcoming eponymous LP. Over spectral tones the band’s Christina Carter intones high and holy, vibrating on a sympathetic tone with heavy metals in the surrounding soil. She cries for the Earth’s scars as if she can feel its pain.

The band’s Tom Carter expands on their process, confessing that the band “considers songs not as layers, but as stark utterances of elemental figures, the voids those figures define, and the unnamable emotions with which our minds fill the emptiness. Notes emphasize the silences between, loops pry apart tonal intervals, ghost-filled spaces open and slowly freeze shut as they fade to distant crackles. ‘Proper’ embodies all of these elements.” The new album is such a heavy, meditative piece that its hard to pry it apart into pieces, but “Proper” is a good entry point for the cosmic traveler. For the true Charalambides experience, the band is also taking this record on the road. Prepare to be ground into dust listeners East Coasters / Midwest settlers.

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David Nance Group

Takes a lotta balls to rock a song called “Ham Sandwich” and totally nail it, but that kinda sums up the spirit of The David Nance Group. Nance, the Omaha harbinger who’s been issuing under the radar platters for Grapefruit and BaDaBing, has now walked on over to perennial powerhouse Trouble In Mind to issue his best slab yet. Peaced and Slightly Pulverized is straddling two visions of the ’70 like a man stuck between realities. In one, Nance is the hard-touring divination of Crazy Horse crashing through covers of Keiji Haino’s smolder strewn catalog. Slip through the mirror, though, and Nance could easily have been sweating pre-dawn unease with the erratic art punks of Pere Ubu and MX-80. What works well about him is how he reconciles the two poles of his personality. His sound is born of the dirt, with Rust Belt angst built in its bones, but he never gets so far from the concrete that the open air lets down his hackles.

The album glows like coals building heat at the bottom of a fire and there’s no telling when its about to throw sparks hard in your direction. Nance’s delivery is haunted, hounded, and hungry. He howls like a man stricken and wronged, he growls like an animal wounded by life and lashing out at those who’d foolishly try to corner him. In equal measure his guitar shapes sonic fury into rusted tangles of heavy heat that scream out in their own perfect anguish. While he’s channeling the ozone huffing delivery of the art punks pinned down in the city, he alchemizes their zeal into lyrics that reflect the broken edges of town rather than the college centers. He’s a destroyer come to reconcile with the gods of blight and heaven help those caught in the crossfire.

While he’s had an erratic past, slinging between Omaha and the West Coast, scratching out full album covers of past classics and then finding himself battling legal notices to let them live online, this is Nance at his core. This is the most focused and ferocious he’s been to date and gods willing it’ll be the beginning of a scorched-earth run of albums that light up heads across the land.




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Goatman on Robert Fripp / Carlos Garnett

When Goat’s World Music found its way out I was immediately smitten, and certainly not alone it would seem. The album has marked many lists over the years and serves as the jumping off point for Goat’s dense catalog of borderless psychedelia. Now, with a solo album of Afro-funk rhythms and psych-folk freakouts of his own on the schedule I asked the band’s shrouded Goatman to weigh in on some overlooked fodder from the past. While the feature usually focuses on one album, there are, in fact, no rules to Hidden Gems. With that Goatman unearthed two gems from his past that he found intrinsically linked in space and time and by proximity of discovery. With that in mind he explores the impact of Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen and Carlos Garnett’s Black Love.

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Lavender Flu – Follow The Flowers

One of this year’s sorely overlooked gems was the sophomore LP from Lavender Flu. The band tightened up their sound and delivered an album of excellently psych splattered garage pop. If perhaps this one got a way from you, then now’s the time to go back and right some wrongs. The band’s sparkling, soaring song “Follow The Flower” has been adorned with a suitably psychedelic video that pulses with light and color. Check in with the visual treat and then head over to In The Red for the full experience.

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Mythic Sunship

While Another Shape of Psychedelic Music might not radically reinvent its own genre the way Coleman did for jazz, or upend possibilities quite as much as The Refused did for punk, their latest for El Paraiso is an immersive and writhing organic beast that certainly reconfigures their own sound enough to warrant the wink on that title. The band’s Land Between Rivers was a stunner, raining down brimstone blasts of doom and psych in equal measures, charring pretty much everything in its wake to a carcinogenic crisp. On last year’s Upheaval, though, they got dense, maybe wandering a bit to far into their own heads and leaving the listener without the spark of unpredictability and terrifying edge-of-reality playing that marked their earlier release. They’re stoking the embers of that fire once again, though, on Another Shape and it feels good to see the madness back in their eyes.

The band incorporates free jazz and a heavier stroke of prog into their usual mix of doom, psych and motorik German references here. Saxophone splashes over every inch of the record, and the frantic squalls fit right into their particular maelstrom. From an opening cut that pushes past the fourteen-minute mark, to their skronk-greased breakdowns, it’s an album that’s not working off of any preconceived set of expectations. They’re playing purely to torch the turrets on their personal temples, channeling the heat of the blaze into a set that radiates genesis and destruction like never before.

The howl of sax seems to have awakened something in them and its great to have one of Scandinavia’s rawest units back in fine form. The record boasts some guidance from label co-head and Causa Sui member Jonas Munk. His production, along with the searing third guitar he’s lent to their gauntlet gives the album a lot of its vibrancy. There have been a lot of great psychedelic records this year, but Another Shape of Psychedelic Music is steadily pushing its way to the top of the pile. It may not be the shape of psych to come, but it’s definitely among the best shapes 2018 could ask for.



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New Rose – “Plenty of Flowers”

For an East Coast band, bound to the NYC streets, there’s a remarkable amount California salt in New Rose’s veins. Their last album tucked into alt-country with the vigor of exiles trying on a new skin, but as is evident from the first taste of the upcoming Crying Eyes, they’re now quite comfortable in that Western skin and looking to make their mark on the legacy of country-psych and Cosmic Americana. Add another name to the list of 2018 bands joyously recapturing the tipping point of psychedelia’s innocence lost. “Plenty of Flowers,” which boasts the inclusion of session legend Al Perkins on pedal steel, evokes the kind of sighed Sunday resolve that looks back on the regrets, indulgences and mistakes of the past week with a narcotic detachment that’s warmed by the late afternoon sun and buffeted by the last few beers in the fridge.

Wagner and co. have gone to lengths to outfit the record with the right totems of a bygone era and they’re capturing the Canyon’s light just right. Aside from Perkins (who played on Gram Parsons and Rolling Stones’ records) the band’s pulled in players who worked with Linda Rondstat and Kacey Musgraves alongside vocals from Anna Fox of Quilt. “Plenty of Flowers” tips its hat to their raglan and linen vibes and sets a nice tone for an album of imaginary melancholic L.A. misadventures dreamed by those born just out of time’s reach.



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Rex Wonderful & The Silk Sheets – “Mimosas”

Already spreading the Wireheads family out with the recent announcement of Dom & The Wizards, the Adelaide band has now grown a third arm in the form of Rex Wonderful & The Silk Sheets. The fancifully named side project was formed over a drunk brunch aftermath and brings together Wireheads’ Dom Trimboli, band videographer Alex Gordon-Smith, Liam Kenny (Workhorse, Wireheads) Elena Nees (Alume), and Dana Ashford (Gentleworms). Their first single is an ode to those hazy afternoon origins and it shows the normally acerbic Wireheads members playing things a bit cooler, melting into a ’70s strut that’s at odds with both the nervy cocaine rock of The Stones and the methadone shakes of VU, Iggy and the punks that swam back against their current at the same time. The single, along with five other tracks will be released as a cassette on Tenth Court this week and I’m interested to see where they take this tangent. Check out the Gordon-Smith directed video for “Mimosas” and lay back into the band’s stonewashed groove.



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Kicking Giant – “This Being the Ballad of Kicking Giant, Halo: NYC/Olympia 1989 – 1993”

Without invoking to much of a pun, I’m kicking myself for missing this when it first found its way back to press. Not to worry, though as this rather essential reissue from Drawing Room Records remains in print. For the unfamiliar, Kicking Giant formed in 1989 in NYC while mems Tae Won Yu and Rachel Carns were in art school. During their time in the city the band issued a run of tapes, one a year, until their eventual move to Olympia, WA. Those tapes – January, Boyfriend Girlfriend, Secret Teenage Summer, and Present – would all be bound into a CD-only collection called Halo in 1993. Its this collection that is now coming to vinyl at last. Their early works were raw, and saw the band work through a range of styles, picking at punk, shoegaze, riot grrrl, abstract pop and indie. While this was a release meant to exploit the large capacity of CDs, its great to see Drawing Room work this out into a gorgeous vinyl package. It was meant as a mixtape for the uninitiated and its still stands as the best primer to the band’s eclectic sound.

The band signed to K Records in 1994, issuing one proper single and an album for the label. Though they’d also contribute to a number of compilations that pretty much summed up their run. Carns joined the similarly overlooked, but no less intriguing band The Need and issued four albums. Yu would instead transition back to visual art, most notably drawing covers for Built To Spill albums. For fans of lo-fi pop and the wild west indie days of the early ‘90s, this collection can’t come with a higher recommendation.




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