Cool Sounds – “Around and Down”

Melbourne’s Cool Sounds return with a new single that hints at the promise of an album later on in 2019. After a tumultuous 2018, the band revives their propulsive post-punk, buffed to a buttery shine but slightly crestfallen all the same. There’s a bittersweet soul thrumming through the wires of “Around and Down” – drums snap in capgun cadence, the smell of sulfur on the wind. There’s a muted mull to the vocals but the band still has a sharp acumen for slow motion slides and lolloping pop. It’s the kind of comforting track that can be played over and over until it wraps around the soul like a blanket. Sometimes we all need just a touch of comfort.



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43 Odes

Eiderdown revives the spirit of the long languished Jewelled Antler, if only for a moment with a new cassette from 43 Odes. Comprised of Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Ivytree) and Steven R. Smith (Ulaan Passerine, Hala Strana) the band brings the pair back together for the first time since they ground out noise rituals in Thuja. While 43 Odes is certainly landing softer blows than Thuja, there’s a communal spirit. Steeped in the moss n’ fog feelings that led the compass point of Jewelled Antler, the record builds an atmosphere of trepidatious wonder. From the outset the pair summons the ceremonial atmosphere – dub-struck drums patter in the background, Donaldson’s bass slithers with controlled menace, and sawed strings chase smoke rings into a trance.

There’s a clear-cut vision of sound here, no dabbling or cross-pollinating pet genres. This is psychedelic infinite, dripping with sweat and blood, rolled in linen and soil. The two players have spent years building their catalogs and the practice is palpable. The songs on their eponymous tape don’t sound so much studied, though, as uncovered, unearthed on sonic digs through the remains of crumbled cultures. There’s beauty in the stately, breath-baited “Majha” or the soft glow of “Veema” and “Myr Vehrt.” There’s celebration and relief in the cool climes of “Braspt” and there’s danger in between the bars of “Gryvk.” The whole album laps at the listener with a freeform flow – folk that’s free from song, left to explore the incontrovertible truths that lie between the drops in an unending cycle of storm and solace.



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One Eleven Heavy – “Mardi Gras”

Following up on Nick Mitchell Maiato’s Gems contribution from earlier in the week, the first single from One Eleven Heavy’s sophomore LP, Desire Path, arrives and it leaves a jagged rut on the lawn as it pulls away on rented wheels. “Mardi Gras” is steeped in the ‘70s lawless looseness that rock cribbed from its country kin just about the time Parsons caught the train outta here. The song knocks some well needed honkey-tonk into the tepid tea of 2019, feeding on the grass n’ gas vibes of Muscle Shoals bound Stones. It’s hinged on a Hans Chew piano pound that feels like he might tip over with every note, a third-degree rub of guitar that makes good on the band’s live reputation, and a soaring chorus that begs the listener to join in. Just a touch harder and hotter than they ran on the last album, the song’s still filled with their effortless ethos led by a Toth tale of a hapless gambler who can’t face his truth.

“‘Mardi Gras’ is part of a tradition of songs about delusional luckless losers,” elaborates the band’s James Toth. “I don’t believe for a second that this character’s ship will ever come in; his destiny is in many ways preordained. And yet he is sincere in his belief that his luck will turn around if only he could get that one lucky break. In some ways it’s an allegory but I prefer the literal take: this guy is almost certainly going to let you down.” “It is also one of several of my songs to wedge in an obscure reference to the television program The Honeymooners,” adds Toth. “Spot the others!”

The album lands September 20th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond and I’d wholeheartedly recommend tucking into it in its entirety.

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Young Guv – “Every Flower I See”

Just in time for summer, Young Guv’s Been Cook is arcing back into the power pop pantheon and ready to fizz things up. The band’s always shone in the short form and the first cut off of the 8-track Guv I skips back to the sunny vibes bouncing ‘round the grooves of Ripe 4 Luv. Last year’s 2 Sad 2 Funk flattened out the pop to something more cynical and slippery, but “Every Flower I See” is sweet and saccharine, full of strums and fuzz and about ready to blow at the seams with cheery vibes. There’s just a touch of bittersweet on the tail end to keep this from rotting the ol chompers, adding some nice balance, but its everything I’ve been waiting for in Young Guv since Ripe hit the turntable. The new record’s out 8/2 on Run For Cover. Check the video above for some instant pop melt.



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Howlin’ Rain – “Death Prayer in Heaven’s Orchard” (live)

The last couple of years have laid down some rather great live albums from the likes of Wooden Shjips, Ty Segall & Freedom Band, and Circuit des Yeux. Not to mention the Castle Face live series, which has been a defining moment for San Francisco psych and garage as well. Adding to the pantheon of great official live sets is Howlin’ Rain, whose Ethan Miller released the Shjips’ album earlier in the year on his own Silver Current Records. The label will now embark on a series of LPs from Miller’s own band and they’re kicking it off with Under The Wheels: Live From The Coasts (Volume 1). The first of a two-part set (Volume 2 is scheduled for Fall 2019) this volume focuses on the band’s improvisational jam side, seeing them turn album and crowd favorites from their catalog into smoldering sets of Cosmic Americana – reigning down honeyed ash on the crowds.

The band sent over an 8+ minute version of the great track “Death Prayer in Heaven’s Orchard,” the scorching opener from their 2006 debut and you can check it out below.
The song’s always been a killer, but here it stretches out, toasting the edges in amplifier fallout and highlighting the worn-in soul that Miller imparts to the song. The first volume lands August 30th, and you can experience a good portion of these as the band embarks on a new tour with fellow guitar greats Garcia Peoples.

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Plastic Crimewave Syndicate

Its been a little while since a Plastic Crimewave project barreled down the halls of Raven, but Krakow and co. were always instrumental in the development of the site. Back when Steve was rolling with Plastic Crimewave Sound, the band contributed to the site’s first compilation. Now the Sound has crumbled and the Syndicate has risen, but the same thread of acid-scratched psychedelia remains. Massacre of the Celestials opens with a yowl of guitar and a veneer of fuzz caked on so thick its hard to wade through the wreckage. Those guitars find their way through though, streaking sickness all over the inflammatory opener “Bound to Seek.’ From there the band dives into the murk, digging their sound deep into a puddle of sludge-psych that’s heavy, leaden and loud as hell.

There’s power in that porridge of sound still and the Plastic Crimewave that barrels out of it crests and demolishes all that stands in its path. Add in a squirm of sax, some spaced-phasing that knocks the mind into astral projection, and the record chomps down some Hawkwind vitamins with the best of ‘em. What I’ve always loved about Krakow’s brand of psychedelic soup is that he’s never even thought twice about pushing it too far. Effects? Double down until you can barely see the light from the haze. Guitar scorch? Make it hurt. Make it third degree. The songs tie together under a banner of excess, but in general its like wading through a surrealist stew that’s sticky, mossy, murky, and humid enough to bring on a fevered froth. Whether you’ve been following the choose-your-own psychedelic adventure with Krakow from the beginning, lapsed and returned, or just toeing in now Massacre is as good as any a place to start. Jump in an swim in the deep end of delirium with them and don’t just try not to think as the temporal shift hits its stride.



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Monarch – “Beyond The Blue Sky”

Adding yet another voice to the current wave of Cosmic Americana, the sophomore LP from SoCal psych five-piece Monarch wafts in on canyon breezes. “Beyond The Blue Sky” is faded in that Kodachrome sunburst hue, worn-in just the right amount but still with a bit of burn. The band makes the most of a six-minute tumbler – entwining twin guitars with the sun-in swagger of their ‘70s forebears and lighting up the solo like fellow West Coast CA toasters Howlin’ Rain. The track comes as a warning shot from their upcoming LP, also titled Beyond The Blue Sky, out later this summer on Denmark’s El Paraiso Records. If you missed out on their first LP, this one threatens to eclipse it nicely, so there’s time to catch up and crack in.


HERE.

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Nick Mitchell Maiato on Rusty Kershaw – Rusty…Cajun in the Blues Country

The new wave of Cosmic Americana brought in a lot of quality cuts last year, but one of my favorites had to be the debut from One Eleven Heavy —the softly choogled psych outfit that brought together members of Wooden Wand, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, Royal Trux, and Hans Chew. The band’s record shelves, undoubtedly stuffed with RSTB bait, seem like the perfect fodder to riffle through for the Hidden Gems feature. In fact, James from the band contributed a pick a little while back, long before things had solidified with the Heavy. So with their sophomore LP on the horizon I figured it was time to ask co-founder Nick Mitchell Maiato to dig into his collection and pick out a record that hasn’t cast nearly enough shadow on the majority of the listening public. He picked out a country classic, that, despite being a key Neil Young influence, hasn’t always been elevated to its proper due. Check out how the record came into Nick’s life and the impact its had on his songwriting.

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Taiwan Housing Project

From its very first beat, the latest LP from Philly’s Taiwan Housing Project is brutal in its sonic assault. Shredding the crumpled remains of No Wave and noise and kicking them wildly around the room, Sub-Language Trust is every bit the equal of the band’s ferocious debut from 2017. Front and center, and impossible to ignore are the air-raid riot vocals from Kilynn Lunsford. She bends phrases until they break, growls from the very sinews of her form, and generally becomes the human embodiment of catharsis. Shit, that’s just track one. She, along with ex-Harry Pussy string-wringer Mark Feehan also manage to sledgehammer their acerbic noise into some rather memorable hooks over the course of the next thirty minutes. Mind you, Taiwan Housing Project don’t mold and press their hooks in forms that gently nod the head and leave you with a vacant smile. No, THP’s brand of hooks siphon the screws from your home, knock down the walls and leave a smoking wreckage of barbed noise-pop smoldering in your lap.

All the better, though, as the band purports on “Buy Buy Buy,” the beige existence you so secretly covet needs a good kick in the clavicle. So, the band extols a new brand of mall pop, one that might incite a little loose looting, one that might turn the screws on the saps in the second floor salon until they exfoliate more than the first or second layer of deadened nerves. The band uses any edge at their disposal to draw blood — bent scraps of guitar meant to lacerate and leave ‘em wanting a second slice, sax-scratch that boils the veneer off your precious ear drums, and a wild tangle of percussion that inspires all manner of disjointed dance. It’s a damn good year for music in 2019, but not a damn soul so far has managed wield the maniacal force that Taiwan Housing Project channels straight to the dopamine depths of your broken mind. The record is an absolute killer and an easy contender for one of 2019’s best slabs to hit the turntable.



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House and Land

Sarah Louise, fresh from the opalescent vision of her solo LP earlier in the year, is back in league with her folk foil Sally Anne Morgan for a new album under the House and Land banner. As with their last album, the duo makes a sizeable impression with a palette of sparse folk on Across The Field. They exhume traditional folk songs from another time, but much like fellow traveler Jake Xerxes Fussell, their delivery doesn’t feel antiquated. There’s a timelessness inherit in their work, blending their more experimental sensibilities with the weathered and worn material to soothe the heartache of the modern music listener. They’re running Elizabeth Cotton through a Loren Connors filter – finding the starkest kernel of folk and blues and baking it in the sun.

The album leans directly into sorrow, choosing songs that are steeped in a sadness that resonates across eras. Morgan’s fiddle is strident, holding court without showing a shred of lost love, but the pair’s voices can’t help but hang with a delicate dourness. The weight of years pulls heavy on these songs and House and Land etch them straight into the skin, turning the soul to scrimshaw and laying out the burden of decades in intricate detail. The songs on Across The Field seep into every pore on first listen, but they don’t suffocate. They may be achingly sad, but they never seem to wallow. Instead, as the album comes to a close the listener is purged, washed clean of longing and lowness – each rinsed away in the stream of strings and song that the pair have poured out through the album. Their sophomore release proves the pair are brilliant interpreters of song, and you’d do well to get acquainted with them.



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