Ball

Forget the secret society pseudonyms and cryptic backstory on Swedish psych-burners Ball, leave that veil of secrets to Goat and dive into this one on pure sonic salaciousness alone. Ball’s eponymous LP is an ozone-coated burn through biker psych, cocaine face melters, German Progressive freakouts and low-slung pelvic blues that would make yer Grammy blush. The elusive S. Yrék Ball cycles through styles with a deft touch, leaving the album feeling like a concept record built on psychsploitation and powered by pure lust ground to powder.

Ball channels Detroit’s own devil in the flesh Timmy Vulgar on “Speeding,” chewing the psychedelic scenery with guttural howls, but he pins it down to a firmly polished and explosive set of ’70s power trio slash n’ burn workouts that make Vulgar’s psych-punk flinch in the corners. The hits don’t stop there, either. Immediately launching into the horror-synth laden “Satanas” he holds seance into a level of ’70s lock-stop excess that feels like it could only be orchestrated by Andy Votel waiting in the wings. Then, smiling like Baphomet on a psilocybin rant, Ball twists the record deeper into the bowels of gutter-psych.

Ball resurrects the ink-black resin that’s caked into the heart of rock with a double shot in the form of “Fyre Balls” and “Fyre”. The former’s short on words but heavy on grunted passion, feeling like it’s played straight out of the puddle of of grease left behind from the burnt ashes of a Hendrix-ian bonfire circa Monterey Pop. Then like a Phoenix from those ashes, the album version of “Fyre” channels the Experience’s smoke-ringed chaos and propels it full speed through Hawkwind’s space-rock vortex. The gods of guitar-burnt psychedelia have smiled on 2017, but Ball proves that perhaps the demons have a say in this as well. If there’s a record that needs to sully your turntable this month, it’s Ball’s occult-vision of hedonistic flame. Maybe just check the needle for cinders after it’s taken a spin.




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Air-Sea Dolphin / Honey Radar – “Split”

Chunklet has been a favored well for singles the past couple of years and their dedication to pairing with Third Uncle for blink-and-you-miss-em lathe cuts makes it both exciting and elusive to get your hands on them. However, this double shot from solid steamers Honey Radar and new(ish)-comers Air-Sea Dolphin is worth capturing physically, or at the very least, digitally. Honey Radar do what Honey Radar do best, gnarled pop nuggets laced in a post-Pollard hangover of fuzzed glory. The track is on par with the best bits that Jason Henn has kicked out of the cracked speakers lately and if you’re a fan of his habitually dusty screeds then this will appeal no doubt.

The flip, which acts as the debut proper from Air-Sea Dolphin, is headed up by none other than Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo. Now the thing about idiosyncratic voices is that no matter where they roam, all bands tend to sound a bit like a singer’s highest marquee moment. Which, since it’s no Death Metal indulgence, means the glossy power pop that Air-Sea Dolphin explode from the wires has a distinctly Apples slant to it, but who cares when Schneider’s pop acumen is footing the bill? This track is dosed in Velocity Of Sound level buzz-pop energy and it’s completely addictive. This is a joyous summer jam that should be packing playlists for months. Given Chunklet’s connection to the E6 archival efforts, its no huge jump of reason that Schneider would put something out here, but its received with open arms for sure and I hope this winds up with more material to come.




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Jowe Head – Cabinet of Curios

Hardly a household handle here in the US, Jowe Head held down tenures in two UK cult favorites – Swell Maps and Television Personalities. On top of his work with those two outlets Head (better known to his mum as Stephen Bird) released several solo albums that sewed up his bent and fractured pop. Cabinet of Curios collects cuts from his his extensive solo career, culling from 1981’s Pincer Movement, 1986’s Strawberry Deutschmark and 1989’s Personal Organizer. Tracks from that first record stand in stark contrast to the brittle post-punk of Swell Maps, though it seems all solo efforts from that band wound up in verdant and unique pastures, Bird just did it with a certain sense of humor that’s missing from some of his contemporaries.

That humor separates the solo work from his longtime run with Television Personalities as well. Though he’d add a touch of experimentation to their catalog, his solo recordings push the needle much further into DIY eccentricities. While sparse bedroom hijinks feel almost pat at this point Jowe Head held down his own territory in the ’80s spanning ground between the shaved and shorn pop of Chris Knox and the clattertrap psychedelics of Deep Freeze Mice. The collection doesn’t limit itself just to early works, however. It cherry picks from bits of his bands The Househunters and Palookas as well, both bands capturing the nervy essence of Jowe Head’s songwriting.

In 2008 Bird started up Jowe Head and the Demi-Monde and continues the project to this day. In fact a good deal of the collection cherry picks the band’s CD-rs and limited releases then throws in a cache of unreleased tracks as gravy. Its unlikely that you’ll find a more complete picture of Jowe Head’s ecstatic world view outside of the 1994 comp Unhinged. For the casual fan of Television Personalities or Swell Maps this might only come as the title might infer, a curio and nothing more. For the true diggers of post-punk oddments and DIY roots, this is a gem with plenty to offer. Every RSD there’s one that slips through the cracks and this year, Jowe Head takes the prize.


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Dream Machine

Matthew Melton has proven nothing if not mercurial over the years. He’s always been a fixture of the kind of garage that’s beaten and bruised, though doggedly interested in the details. Emerging from the twin spires of smoke-choked garage – Snake Flower 2 and Bare Wires – he dove headlong into the pristine clean of Warm Soda’s power pop with occasional digressions back into garage in his solo work and with short-run stompers Pleasers. So here we stand again on the precipice of another change and this time Melton sheds a great deal of those garage pasts to embrace the blacklit arms of prog and proto-metal.

Along with his wife Doris, who steers the band’s distinctive organ sound, Melton and Dream Machine enter a black drape of dry ice and incense that’s dug deep into the prog mindset, snaking through the corridors of the ’70s on trills of organ that can’t help but bring to mind Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple or Rhinoceros. Doris’ vocals give Dream Machine a nice touch of soulfulness, and a dose of femininity that sometimes eludes Melton’s past projects. He’s often felt like a bastion for young men with record shelving conundrums and while this won’t necessarily scare that set off, it’s got a great deal to offer those that fall outside the devoted choir of believers.

The record even comes with a dive into heady human harmonics in the band’s insistence on re-tuning to accommodate brain-reactive frequencies. Check out their explanation on A=432 that swerves from Joseph Goebbles to The Four Yugas. All these trappings feel essential to their true progression to, well Progressive Rock. The album is, as with most Melton projects, a perfect encapsulation of genre. While there have been plenty of dogmatic psych albums made in the past couple of decades, this one feels like its filling a niche that’s been left behind. With the exception of Black Mountain, the bands that have embraced anything approaching organ-prog in later years get hung up in Rick Wakeman wankerisms that leave out the pelvic thrust at the heart of the original players. Dream Machine manages to ride the line between the dirty crawl of garage and the stadium-sized ambitions of the supergroup generation. You’re gonna want to grab the headphones and sink back in that beanbag for this one.




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Endless Boogie

Regardless of what else is going on in your life, your country, your brain or your heart it’s a good year when Endless Boogie descends from the fanged fog to bestow an album on the poor disenfranchised souls laid down at music’s hearth. From the first second that Vibe Killer sweats through your needle, the album owns you. Vocalist and beating heart of the Boogie, Top Dollar, is a beast that leers at the listener and oozes every bit of the twisted soul of 3AM predatory rock n’ roll.

And like the album’s mouthpiece, there’s a sickness to the grooves that inhabit the record, expunged every so often by the raised hackle burn of guitar scream. The outbursts are rare exorcisms, but when the band want’s to twist the knife, they know how hard and fast to turn. For the most part though Endless Boogie are the essence of unshaken cool, reflecting your own insufficiency back in their steady mirrored gaze. Hell, this is a band that’s taken a story about seeing Kiss at a kite festival in ’74 and made it seem like boogie chillun gospel, a tale as old as time riding the rope burned ruts of a molasses groove. That’s musical alchemy. That’s the cold hard delivery of no-nonsense masters at work.

If you’ve come this far in life and had Endless Boogie soundtracking a even a small piece of it, then the album should fit like a worn leather companion. They’re not gonna shake the foundations that built ’em at this point, but the damn sure know how to sell the formula. My advice is to buy the ticket, take the ride and let it seep into your own soul. Take the ninety degree burn of confidence that Vibe Killer employs and refract it back out to your own world. The world won’t see it coming.




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Premiere: Rat Colums – “Blinded By The Shadow”

One of my true faves this year has been Rat Columns’ Candle Power LP on Upset The Rhythm. The band turns in a stark video for the absolute standout, “Blinded By The Shadow. The track eschews much of the album’s propensity for jangle in favor of slinking keys and staid bass line; by the time those melancholy strings kick in, you’re more than hooked. It’s a post-punk gem that calls back on all the right bits of the ’80s for inspiration and proves that West and co are truly hitting a peak with this album. The video is as appropriately dressed down as the track, whitewashed and buttoned up. If you’re still missing out on Rat Columns, take today to right that wrong.


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Flowers Must Die

UK psych outpost Rocket Recordings roster is full to brimming with Marshall-stacked amp toasters, but Swedish six-piece Flowers Must Die vary the formula by adding a touch of deep bench influences to their sound. Not totally divorced from fellow Swedes Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation, who bend pop instincts through the prism of Krautrock and a fog of psych, Flowers Must Die are cherry picking bits of bottom-down disco dipped in space-rock swirls for a record that’s decked out in psych’s finery but feeling frisky with the notion of pop. The band has a habit of dipping the ends in free jazz squall and haunting Eastern drones as well and blending the styles subtly rather than throwing wholesale styles into a hodgepodge pot.

The extra hands make it possible to flesh the sound out with vintage keys, flourishes of flute and a clattered clutch of percussion. The hard to pin down styles mesh together nicely, not unlike some of the more outre soundtrack work of the ’70s. “Why?” seems like it might hold sway among some of the pieces from The Holy Mountain, with its ecstatic moans and chugging percussion. The band flips from Ash Ra Temple to Lindstrøm and finds space for both to butt against the ozone fry of dry ice riffs that feel like a Logan’s run dreamscape. Its a banner year for the psychedelic folds and Flowers Must Die are pushing things out of heavy riffs and into a heady haze that’s far more than the sum of its parts.

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Mooner

Indonesian stoner metal isn’t a term that gets thrown around lightly in these parts. To be fair, its not a term I think I’ve ever thrown around up to this point, but given the thick billowing riffs on Mooner’s debut, it’s probably time to start exploring the rest of the Indonesian scene. The band is comprised Voltron style of members of existing Indo metal bands – The Sigit, Sigmun, The Slave, and Sarasvati. The music follows the tone of The Slave most closely and like that band the tracks from Tabiat were intended to back their own skate videos. The Slave/Mooner’s Absar Lebeh has been kicking around the skate world for some time actually which serves to explain why one of the only other US mentions of Mooner comes via Thrasher.

“So what does this all mean for me, the listener?”, you say. Well, the band is riding nimbus clouds of guitar bearing down on a ’70s Flower Travelin’ Band / Mountain / Blues Creation highway. In fact, with the prog-ripped backdrop propping up the cinder-psych vocals from Marshella Safira, the band draws a pretty good side by side to Blues Creation’s collaboration with Carmen Maki when BC are at their heaviest. Even more apt in the recent reissue box touchstones would be the still overlooked Hungarian psych goddess Sarolta Zalatnay if she might have lasted to front the New Wave of British Metal. Comparisons aside, though, Mooner are 100% killin’ the nu-prog vibes and reveling in what are sure to be stacked crates of their own heavy faves seeping into the sound. The band cites Indonesian bands AKA and Panbers, so probably best to start their for some real-world comparisons. High quality crushers abound on this one that should have their American stoner metal counterparts sweatin’ their game.



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Wyatt Blair – “Pop Your Heart Out”

Wyatt Blair’s power pop hockey stop Point Of No Return was a pleasant surprise from an artist devoted to outsized hooks and 200 SPF beach party vibes. So, it’s with equal pleasure that this one-off from Blair drops down into Volcom’s single’s cache as curated by Burger. The rest of the bunch is standard Burger fare, fun but not particularly bursting with fruit flavor. Blair, on the other hand, shows the rest how it’s done. “Pop Your Heart Out” is ten feet tall from the moment it hits and feels continuously like the epic finale of some sort of ’80s college film.

Somewhere between the bars John Cusack is finding resolve, Anthony Edwards is toppling the oppressive scowls of authority and/or Val Kilmer is filling some domicile with enough popcorn to burst a window. More likely though, I think Steve Guttenberg is smirking somewhere and just letting those guitars wash over him. That’s been Blair’s magic in his hi-fi incarnation, he knows just how neon to tint those guitars and synths. He knows just how huge the chorus has to be and then he aims higher. It’s pure cotton candy pop, but everyone likes a cheat day every now and again.




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The Dancing Cigarettes – Dance Dogs Dance

Been meaning to write this one up for a while, but it’s still readily available and while that speaks to the relative shame that the general populace continues to ignore the unsung twitching of this Indiana band, its a good opportunity for you, the lucky listener. The band came together around ’79 and grew in popularity in their hometown of Bloomington, IN and surrounding Midwestern touring routes, though they made their way East from time to time. The band never recorded an album proper at the time, releasing an EP on Gulcher and some compilation tracks, though they were extremely prolific and had plenty of material to fill out a proper release. In the wake of their demise there have actually been a couple of retrospectives, but this LP contains material that eludes both, and serves as a pretty excellent introduction.

Sadly, they began to lose members along the way, though they persisted in some form for almost four years. The recordings here date just post their Gulcher EP and round up unreleased cuts from both studio and live settings in excellent quality and inspired energy. Dance Dogs Dance is a kindred soul to fellow Midwestern jitter-punks Pere Ubu, The Girls and Dow Jones and the Industrials. For anyone looking to up their quotient of chewed aluminum punk, then this is an absolute necessity. It reaches fingers into post-punk, punk and the no wave corners of the late ’70s / early ’80s, but the anxious energy resonates with a resounding pull even today. Get on this one before they’re truly gone.




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