Working Men’s Club – “Bad Blood”

UK post-punks Working Men’s Club act as a testament to the binge influence of the internet in 2019. Hailing from the tiny town of Todmorden, were it not for the heavy spread of access and rabbit hole drilldown of influences that pervades the tubes it seems unlikely that a group of seventeen-year-olds would produce a single that effortlessly echoes the rubber band snap of The Monochrome Set commingling with new wave keys and a touch of Medium Medium’s dance freak streak. “Bad Blood” shouldn’t sound like such a natural amalgam of the past while still feeling modern enough to drop in beside newer body shakers like Lithics, Future Punx, or School Damage but it does and we’re all better for it. This single certainly puts the band on the list to watch, but first it puts them on repeat, domineering the speakers with a brittle beat.




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Andy Human & The Reptoids

Oakland squirm punks Andy Human & The Reptoids are back with another long player and it’s charging through the hallways ripping down your Duran Duran posters and spray-painting DEVO all over the walls. Human (nee Jordan) has been mining the nerd curdle of the ‘80s for some time now, though Psychic Sidekick might be his most complete vision yet. While they’re a bit more constrained than similar t-zone dropouts like Ausmuteants, Timmy Vulgar, or Hierophants – the band doesn’t scrape the glue-soaked freak centers as often as others – they still know how to inject a good dose of plastic shrapnel into their brand of punk. When they’re at their best they’re echoing high quality discomfort warriors like Twinkeyz and Simply Saucer for next gen of back row miscreants and the new LP rounds up quite a lot of their best.

Guitars thrash, a haze of ionospheric synth static rains down, and Jordan’s nasal vocal puncture is exactly what’s called for to keep the insomniac punks running ‘til dawn. This time ‘round they run their tongues over ten tales railing against mind melt of mundanity like it’s a mission statement. The band liquifies the banal cabal surrounding them in their heat vision hooks – jittering and hopping through tracks with freakish glee. If you’ve been stuck and stranded, at loss for a dose of quasar chaos to get you through the day, then I’d heartily recommend at least one daily dose of Reptoids in yer life.




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Uranium Club – “Man is the Loneliest Animal”

Out on the tattered edges of punk Minneapolis’ Uranium Club sits chewing the glass that others discard and spitting it back at them as blood n’ bile rendered sonic. While Pere Ubu, MX-80 and Dow Jones & The Industrials left scattered shards of punk’s more frantic future to be ignored by the bulk of the movement in favor of a more melodic beast and greater accessibility, Uranium Club came and picked up the bent metal time signatures as their own. Their second outing for Static Shock launches out of the gutter with the greased rat chaos of “Man Is The Loneliest Animal,” a panicked jab into the collective ears of a less than wanting public. The song stumbles in unassuming, crouching, licking its wounds before slashing wildly and drawing blood hard and fast. Definitely don’t miss out on their upcoming LP, The Cosmo Cleaners.


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Design Inspiration: Aaron Lowell Denton

This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite features at Raven – a chance to hash out the formative touchstones that have given designers their outlook and approach. So far I’ve had designers with a longer foothold on the game, but now I’m glad to throw a spotlight on a newer name that has fast become a go-to for indie names looking for a classic touch. Aaron Lowell Denton’s been most noted for his posters and its easy to see why. His designs rely heavily on bold type and perfectly washed colors set into nostalgic forms that are hard to pin down, but tend to evoke an instant kinship with the piece. As he’s tipped more and more into album covers he’s racked up designs for EZTV, Bonny Doon, Neon Indian, and Wild Nothing among others. I asked Aaron to reach back for his top five covers and give a little background on why they’re the ones that stick out, and how they’ve helped shape his own approach to cover design.

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The Coathangers – “F The NRA”

The new Coathangers is shaping up to be one of their best and most biting. With the latest single from the album, the band touches on the current national epidemic of gun violence in the most direct way possible – with a middle finger to the very lobby that props the system despite an avalanche of evidence that our cultural hangup on weaponry is a tipping point in need of legislation. The band knocks this out with an ’80s punk spirit, looking every bit the resurrection of Bad Brains/D.O.A./Circle Jerks inflammatory imagery scrawled over a cut n’ paste collection of cartoonish gunslinger tropes. In the wake of the SOTU, if you’re in the need for another wave to fan the flame of action, let this one waft over you today.



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Lucille Furs – “Paint Euphrosyne Blue”

Chicago’s Lucille Furs trade in a meticulous vision of psych-pop, tied up in twills and doused in Marcus Keef’s saturated colors. Like many before them, they hold a reverent flame for the ‘60s, but they’re taking a lusher approach than many, as evidenced by the title track from their upcoming album Another Land, a ringing swinger that’s a testament to how they ended up with the equally psychedelic French label Requiem Pour Un Twister. For the album’s second single they continue their trip back through the ether, this time peeking out of the haze just a bit for a hip-slung shaker that’s basking in the sunshine with a carefree shuffle and a handful of tangerine harmonies and helium hung organ lines. The band’s been echoing The Black Hollies, Allah-Las and The Soundcarriers in the past, but here they add a touch of The Strange Boys and The Weakends to the mix. If its dreary where you’re hunkered, this little blast from Lucille Furs ought to brighten your day.



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Laaraji & Lyghte – Celestial Realms

In the past few years Laraaji has gone from something of a tightly traded name among New Age heads, experimental aficionados and yoga practitioners to a roundly celebrated artist with a wealth of material seeping back out into the reissue world. With entries into RVNG’s FRKWYS series and a collaboration with Brian Eno and Bill Laswell, he’s not light on stature, but it seems the current hunger for respite has driven the master of the zither further out into the light. There are plenty of points of entry for the curious among a catalog that’s decades deep, and none are more appropriate than his 1986 album with longtime collaborator Jonathan Goodman, aka Lyghte.

The original version of Celestial Realms was released to tape by New Age label Spirit Music, and it gets an upgrade here via Telephone Explosion’s brand-new offshoot Morning Trip. The album is two side-long tracks that delve deep into meditative trance. Lyghte provides the hypnotic bedrock that pins this to the mind – wavering and low, like the slow lap of a river. He leaves the sparkle to his foil Laraaji, who dazzles atop the drones with his Zither, bells, and guitars that predict the coming of Sun Araw’s psychedelic wobble long at a time when Stallones was more into silly putty than psilocybin.

The album is perfect not only for fans of vintage drone or New Age, but for those captivated by the dropout knockouts of more recent times – Emeralds, Kevin Drumm, Stars of the Lid fan take note and listen deep. It’s a great inaugural release for the fledgling label and perks my interest to see when Morning Trip goes from here. Whether you’re already scooping up the new and old issues from this NY legend or just want to unwind, a copy of Celestial Realms might be just the trick to block out the constant clatter of 2019.



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Bananagun – “Do Yeah”

Aussie psych-funk jam unit Bananagun issue their debut single for Anti-Fade and its a tumultuous riff on Bollywood beats and ’60s South Asian funk. “Do Yeah” is a simmering slice of pop that’s pulled like paisley taffy through the the decades, leaving a whiff incense and silk on the breeze. Though its a bit of a strange fit among the punks at Anti-Fade, the song and its pop-art video accompaniment are an amusing romp nonetheless. Sure this feels every bit like a band trying on hats, but they’re doing it with enough joy to infect listeners with an urge to dance. Check the band’s dose of freakout fuzz above.



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The Villejuif Underground

The road to Villejuif’s last record came via a long since obscured and by now largely forgotten indie out of Australia by Camperdown and Out. The band’s lone Popfrenzy LP was a slacker joyride lead by the unfussed grizzle of Nathan Roche. It was a brief candle that was snuffed by circumstance when Roche jumped ship on Australia and headed for France. Once there, though, he cobbled a crew of shoestring slingers that injected the original Camperdown spirit with a dose of Beat Happening clatter and even more leathered laconic sneer. Roche, in his compulsion for geographical puns, dubbed the band Le Villejuif Underground, after the Parisian neighborhood they called home, but the band echoes more than a little of the aloof indignance of their more famous VU forbears.

Though, it must be said, Villejuif is far from Avant and hardly Art Rock. The band is the aural embodiment of a duct taped bass and a Korg with a stuck key. They’re dirt rock and loving it. The sophomore album only embraces this aesthetic further – celebrating backpacking trips, haunted castles, scenes and subscenes all with the mumbled grace of a Stereopathic-era Beck four gins deep. There’s a sense that The Villejuif Underground are both excellent and terrible party guests – they crack effortless jokes and know everyone in the room, but come morning there are limes in the toilet tank and at least one of them wore your slippers home after pelting onlookers with their own shoes from the balcony.

There’s a hipswung grace to When Will The Flies in Dauville Drop?. Roche is convening at the corner of Vaudeville and Bowery (circa ’77) – a poet laureate for the torn t-shirt all-nighters among us. The album burns quick, but the smoke lingers long into the next morning, stuck like hangover cottonmoth to the wrinkles of your brain. With their second LP, the band proves its more than just a whim and already outpacing Camperdown’s legacy.



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Wand – “Scarecrow”

Wand continue their reinvention from fuzz-chomping psych freaks to art rock acolytes with the announcement of their latest Drag City LP. In the austere, Between Two Ferns lookin’ video for the song, the band channels the brittle, air-conditioned unease of Mogwai, Muse, and, more specifically, Radiohead. They pushed towards reflections of ’90s guitar heroes on their previous album and they appear to be making their transition into the early aughts this time around. They’ve stripped away the ’90s grunge signifiers, trading their old STP CDS in for an angular agenda that tills Wire, Magazine and The Comsat Angels into stadium-sized sizzle. It’ll be interesting to see how the massive looking new LP works out as they’ve already got their sights set on a bigger profile with this offering. Laughing Matter is out April 19th.

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