Lachlan Denton & Emma Russack – “Catch”

Coming right off of a solo album and a new Cool Sounds LP, Lachlan Denton shows no signs of flagging in his output. He resumes work with his duo with fellow Osborne Again alum Emma Russack and the two update the pining swoon of young love for with a loping and rosy number that’s clipped to heartflutter beat and practically lounging in the dewy warmth of summer. The song is airy and verdant, just the kind of thing to brighten your day, but not completely lift your heart. There’s a kernel of sadness, but the outcome is sweet enough to brush off that pang. The pair embark on their third outing together, Take The Reigns next week.





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Wet Tuna

When Wet Tuna first unspooled their debut last year, they tapped into a primitive blues soup dipped strait from the swamp. It’s a humid, boiled record that folds one song into another with barely time to swipe the sweat before each groove subsumes the next. The band was built on the stage and they brought the deep zone groove nexus into the studio with surprising success. On the follow-up they still keep the cosmic tapestry intact, but they’ve begun to thread a few new strands into the tattered tap as well. The record is still living on midnight fuel, formed from their own admitted tendency to let the substances settle for a few hours until the balance is right and the clock slips past the uprights into the pre-dawn hours.

They channel this time-slip pseudo-seance onto a two-inch proof of purchase – a haunted haven of dank grooves to get lost in and vaporized boogie that cures the soul. Matt and Pat have boundless roots in the psychedelic pantheon, but collectively this is probably one of their most pure and primal discs. Water Weird is the cosmos captured, the burnt mind made good and projected through three layers of psychic meniscus into the ever after. Water Weird is the night made manifest and given flight over the horizon of infinite ink. There’s something ineffable, intangible, and alchemical about Wet Tuna and it all comes to a head with Water Weird. If this isn’t sitting atop your year end, then I’ve got some serious questions about priorities to discuss with you.

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Prana Crafter’s Will Sol on Terry Riley, Don Cherry, Karl Berger ‎– Live In Köln 23.2.1975

Last year Prana Crafter’s Will Sol released two vital parch-folk LPs for Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Sunrise Ocean Bender, both showcasing his mossy, forest-folk prowess mixed with a tenancy to scratch that wooded habit with the key to the cosmos. He’s pushed the cosmic tendencies even further this year with a split with Tarotplane that uses one side of a 12” to wind his folk into kosmiche delights. It seemed only natural, then to ask Will to contribute a pick to the Hidden Gems series and see what’s driven his sound. Will’s picked a ’75 collaboration from Terry Riley and Don Cherry that picks at a peirod that pushed both artists catalogs to in new and interesting directions. Check out how this came into Will’s live and what impact it’s had on his music.

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Big Blood

Another one from the ranks of Raven’s past, Big Blood has been a bit of a fixture here (and on the old Blogspot) since back in ’08 when The Grove grace my ears. The band’s continued with a rather enviable output over the years. Following their work with Cerberus Shoal and the always underrated Fire On Fire, the couple has kept a stead stream of records and CD-rs coming out on their own Don’t Trust The Ruin, Time-Lag, Blackest Rainbow and Feeding Tube. The latter lands as the home to their latest, The Daughter’s Union. The album was actually recorded prior to their last Feeding Tube outing, Operate Spaceship Earth Properly, which came out last year, but with the band’s dense catalog it’s sometimes hard to keep track. The title likely alludes to the fact that this is the first album that fully features the couple’s daughter Quinnisa, and her contributions, as on its companion from last year, give the band a harder edge.

While the sound is a bit toughened at the edges, that doesn’t mean the band has lost their folk hearts. Transitioning from their early, wooded sound into more Fairport/Josephine Foster territory that gives rock a place at the folk table, they let the new heaviness seem in organically. Colleen and Quinnasa meld their vocals into shaky, aching harmonies while underneath there’s a renewed sense of rhythm and riot. The band tackles some unlikely sources for covers (The Troggs, Silver Apples) and they fit the album together into a psych-soaked vision of ‘70s-indebted rock that’s floating somewhere between the Laurel Valley and the Eastern mountain ranges. The record is another solid endorsement of Big Blood’s prowess – a veteran band that only seems to steep their sound further in their influences, interpolating them and weaving folk and rock into an inviting wicker warmer. If you’re not already coveting each new Big Blood release, it might be time to start.



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Failed Flowers – “Faces”

Slumberland continues to keep their latest singles series sprinkled with compelling reasons to funnel $100+ bucks into their pockets. They announce two more this week including the reappearance of Failed Flowers, Michigan’s indie pop sweethearts. The band, which holds Anna Burch and Fred Thomas as members delivered a solid, Sarah Records-soaked debut in 2016 and has remained largely silent ever since. This is likely due to Burch’s own solo career and Thomas’ busy schedule, but they roar back with two sides of C86 jangle that should put a smile right across your sourpuss. “Faces” is bright and sunny, janglin’ in twin guitar glory and ringing with the autumnal vocals of Burch that seep under the skin. If there was any doubt that the band still had that magic spark, this is proof positive. Gonna keep this one on repeat for the rest of the day.


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Ignatz & De Stervende Honden

There’s always been a bone-dry isolation to the work of Belgian blues/psych wringer Bram Devens, or as he’s usually billed, Ignatz. He’s often knocking a smoke curl of psych through a gauze curtain of haze that puts him in the pocket with Ilyas Ahmed and a pre-production makeover Amen Dunes. Back in 2014 he hooked up with members of Sylvester Anfang II to form a fleshed and flayed combo that took his sound to a less lonesome place, albeit just slightly. On the band’s follow-up, the ingeniously titled Deadbeat Freedom, they again walk the line between private press loner blues and feedback splattered psychedelic grind. The album dives behind the baseboards and works the dust into an armor of impenetrable proportions before wandering out into the desert heat to let the sweat soak a few visions into the brain.

Devens’ divine tangle is still present on the album, sliding a hermit’s psych-blues itinerary into the half-stack/half-slack sound that they embody. For their part, De Stervende Honden keep pace with Ignatz every step of the way – stumbling through the murk when he works his way deeper in din and letting the clip dance a bit above the fray when Devens pulls himself out of the desperate straights that he so often courts. When the band begins to choogle a bit (just slightly mind you, this ain’t gonna ramble too hard) the band does get a bit of motion. The glasses are still fogged on their delivery, but there’s a demented dance to “The Wrong Tree” and the title track that’s hard to ignore. Their last record was an underground gripper and this seems to fall right in line. Ultra Eczema is still kicking out a quiet cool that shouldn’t be dismissed or demeaned. Get on this one.


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Zachary Hay – “3”

It’s always time to stop and listen when a new one rolls down the roster from Scissor Tail and today’s no exception. The label is releasing the debut from Zachary Hay under his own name. He’s previously stayed tucked behind the monikers Bronze Horse and The Dove Azima, but this time he’s stripping it all back and letting his own name hang on the door. The album is a sparse slice of American Primitive folk – cut from the cloth of Fahey and Basho, but tied tight with the discarded threads of Loren Connors, Tashi Dorji, Bill Orcutt, and Scott Tuma. There’s not the same type of fluidity that would befit a Fahey acolyte, but there’s more movement here than Connors usually lets take hold. Hay falls somewhere between the ripple-pickers and the 4AM dirge hunters. There’s a couple of tracks up now, all equally haunted and hollowed so it bodes well for the full release when it slips out on November 22nd.




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Tobacco City – “Blue Raspberry”

Low profile Chicago alt-country crooners Tobacco City have been releasing a string of solid singles over the last year and they’ve hit on their best yet with the buttered and bashful “Blue Raspberry.” The track is hung on soft sunset strums and a warm melt of slide guitar. The vocals trade back and forth between Lexi Goddard and Chris Coleslaw like an old Parsons and Harris tune, just a bit more faded and worn in. The a-side is the stunner here, pulling at the lump in your throat to try to stay afloat, but they pair it well with a b-side that gives Goddard the front and center, with some ‘70s sequined backup vocals that maybe try to pull it too far towards the nostalgia train. Still, “Blue Raspberry” is a gem that won’t let go – sighed and swung low, padded out with just the right touch of twang and tape hiss. The band’s just recently opened for Orville Peck in their hometown, so here’s hoping Tobacco City is on their way up.




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ARP – “Voices”

Following on the success of his 2018 album ZEBRA ARP’s Alexis Georgopoulos put together a live ensemble to play Mexican Summer’s 10th Anniversary. The live setup netted a great response and Alexis and the band wound up in the studio working out an album with a five-person ensemble combing through material from the previous album and exploring new avenues in atmospherics and dub. The first track from the new Ensemble LP finds ARP diving through the kind of haunted ambiance that drew Georgopoulos to the sparse, yet affecting works of Finis Africae. It’s a slinking, saturated track, slicked with moss and seeping through the rocks. The new LP is out November 15th. It’s a new side to the ARP story and sounding pretty good at that.



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Julie’s Haircut

Italian psych collective Julie’s Haircut have been operating under that name since the late ‘90s, but their sound is still evolving, rooted in the boundless cosmic expanse of psychedelia and the darkened recesses of the polyrhythmic groove. The band has collaborated with Sonic Boom and backed up Damo Suzuki, so they were bringing a fairly heavy resume to the table already when they jumped onto UK psych enclave Rocket Recordings’ roster last year. Their second LP for the label pushes their sound further into the recesses of rhythm-wracked psychedelic divination. In The Silence Electric pulsates with a seething intensity boiling beneath the skin. The band just barely contains the tension on tracks like “Emerald Kiss” or “Sorcerer“. When they do let the pulse lie, the album only feels like its pulled into the eerie call before a storm. “Lord Help Me Find The Way” emulsifies their groove into the kind of nebulous humid float that wraps the best Spiritualized tracks.

There’s something elemental about the record. It has a heartbeat hum, that the listener is either chasing down or being pursued by at any moment. Their vocals waft in on vapors that permeate ever inch of the brain, weaving between layers of gray matter while the rhythms work the body. There’s an air of incantation, a ceremonial throb to the record, especially on tracks like “Sorcerer” which embodies their mystic turbulence and spiritual calm. They lace the record with sax, but not in stabbing, bent harmonic hues (at least not until an explosion of violence in “Pharoah’s Dream”), rather it enters as another layer of creeping ambience slicing through the swirling sage. For a veteran band with almost 25 years under their belt, they’ve never sounded more bracing, or more alive. This is a crowning achievement in their catalog.



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