The Gerbils – Are You Sleepy

There’s no better news than hearing that psych-pop wellspring Elephant 6 is revving the engines back up once again. With the announcement of an in-house reissue of The Gerbils’ 1998 debut, Are You Sleepy, the label sets the wheels in motion to get more than a few missing LPs back on the shelves. The original version of the band’s debut was widely available on CD, but only issued in a scant run of vinyl from the UK label Earworm Records, with an alternate cover. It’s quite likely that this missed the shelves of hundreds of fans and now the label’s back to right the wrongs. The Gerbils included members Scott Spillane and Jeremy Barnes, both of whom would go on to find their way into the ranks of Neutral Milk Hotel.

The record is on the scrappier end of the E6 catalog, still firmly rooted in the 60’s spun pop leanings but also shot through with fuzz, crackle, and hiss —letting its four-track treads shine through in the mix. The band would go on to refine their sound with 2001’s The Battle of Electricity which bolstered their buzz with a bit of concept rock. Aside from this news, which is great on its own, the label hints that a few more offerings and even some new stuff might be on the way. Or, in their own words, “In 2019, the slumber is over as the E6 label imprint relaunches with a series of reissues, new albums, and some first-time-ever-released-to-the-public releases from the deep archives.” Get excited!



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Dan Melchior Band

There are few forces as pungent, as potent, or as prevalent as Dan Melchior. The garage vet has a formidable cache of records piled under his belt and he’s constantly slipping in new entries under the cover of night. 2019’s volley comes with the Dan Melchior Band tag, last used on 2017 single. This time he’s swinging for Atlanta’s Midnight Cruiser Records and it’s a damn sight better use of the DMB moniker than others have hoisted in the past (sorry Ryley). Outside In has a cinder-scorned midnight feeling to it, slinking through the darkened streets in search of some some forgotten solace, some inner peace that never quite conjures through the haze.

Falling in the blues-buttressed valley between his fuzz-freaked noise offerings and his poppier days in the Broke Revue, the record is a greasy slide that hops back and forth with a pugilist’s swagger. Melchior doesn’t quite curry the same cache that some of his contemporary garage-slingers with equally prolific output’s might, but in my book he’s a rock solid bet every time. Outside In crushes some gravel in its teeth, spits splinters to the wind and lets fly with a few rusted hooks that leave a mark and warrant a check at the clinic. Though there’s a haze hovering over the record, Melchior can still land a decent dent when he’s aiming for it. For the completists, it goes without saying this is an easy pickup, for the first-timers, maybe this isn’t the way in. For those looking to blast a bit of rust and rancor through the speakers, I say go for it.



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Velveteen Rabbit – “I’ll Be A Boy For You”

When NYC’s Velveteen Rabbit launched their last single, they hinted at a band well versed in the soft-hands, glam-greased power pop of The Quick, Milk n’ Cookies and Brett Smiley. They were knocking down some RSTB touch points and doing it just right. Digging into the routine power pop’s bag of tricks is easy, but emulating this specific silk crush remains decidedly less so. With the announcement of their debut proper the band is digging into yet another tough niche to nuzzle, leading with the crushed velvet pop of “I’ll Be A Boy For You,” one listen proves it’s an absolute crusher, the next three cement it as gold. The song takes the gloved touch of their power pop and backs it up with the crimped funk of The Time circa their ’81 debut. This is the heir apparent to “After Hi School.” Though he’s left this mortal mold all too soon the ghost of Jamie Starr (nee Rogers) lingers over “I’ll Be A Boy For You” like a silk scarf signature.

The guitars crunch and vamp but its that stab of synth that sends chills. Then with a coy bite of the lip and a hip twitch the band sends this song vibrating through the ethers to supercharge the hearts and minds of the youth troops thirsting for some rock vitality. This is just the first blush, there’s more to come.



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Allah Las – “In The Air”

Allah Las already made a nice divot in 2019 with their instrumental contributions to MexSum’s Self Discovery for Social Survival soundtrack, and if they’d stopped there I’d have called it a win for the band all around. Seems they have more in mind for the year, though and the band is springing off of that project to get back into the album game with their fourth album LAHS which finds its way out October 11th. The band is back in the breezy swing of West Coast jangle with salt in its beard on “In The Air. Calico Review saw the band darken their sound just a touch, putting an overcast air on their beach-bound sound, but the first taste of LAHS is little less than sun dappled and sand swept. The band’s making light with a Weekend At Bernie’s leaning video that makes good use out of their budget — hopping from hot air balloons to helicopter rides with comatose (or dead, you never know) band member in tow. I’m excited to see how the sand shakes out of this one when it lands in October. Check it above and catch the band on a full US tour this Winter.

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De Lorians

From The Jacks to High Rise to Kikagaku Moyo, I’m always down for what’s bubbling out of the hotpot of Japanese Psychedelia and this year the Beyond Beyond is Beyond crew make room for one more name in that holy roster. Tokyo collective De Lorians are hopping back through time like Doc Brown on a mission to melt the tried and true psychedelic crayon box into a puddle that drips Zappa’s ‘smarter than necessary’ approach to the ‘70s rock canon into the buttoned up and boiled down impulses of the never cool/always awesome Canterbury sound. In particular the record is picking apart the seams of latter period Soft Machine — during the sunset of Mike Ratledge and the brief dawn of Allen Holdsworth. If you’re a rare fan who thinks the Bundles period never got its due (and I am) then this is the bastard son of Soft you never saw coming. Throw in some heady nods to the liquid licks of Steve Hillage and this record begins to take a bit of shape.

Jazz rock isn’t exactly a genre that most music fans were barking for in the 7th inning stretch of 2019, but I’m gonna go ahead and thank the Beyonders for seeing past what people want and serving up what the heads need. The band’s blown way past the typical “you got yer psych in my jazz” hat tips. This isn’t dosed up Miles in his prime, and its way more than Weather Report fusing the forms. Instead the band is blowing full stack through the greasy grips of Placebo’s “Balek” if it was surprised in the dark by The Feed-Back’s freaked out agenda. Hold on though, that’s too many references to properly rinse this through your system. The band’s clearly spent time touring the rough terrain of the nerd-high psychedelic wasteland, turning the screws on jazz-ensemble editions and churning out progressive missives for the microdosed mentors, but what does it sound like?

The band runs smooth when they need to, riding groove like a good jazz-funk friendship society, but they lose their calculus cool more often than not, breaking down the tracks into jagged edges, found-sound snippets that pull the rug out from under the listener. They breeze through multiple time signatures that flex for the theory crowd over the groove riders every time. This is an album that’s got a niche, but 2019 is all niche so I say go for it. For the Japanese psych heads, this one doesn’t burn, doesn’t lay into the South Asian traditions or heavy fuzz gamut, but it crumples and crisps like a Gehry building come to life, stomping over the hills spreading the gospel of academic acid to the masses.



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Weak Signal

Those already familiar with the works of Mike Bones have probably already perked their ears at his mention. His solo albums for aughts enclave The Social Registry brought a gnarled sense of indie grandeur, while his album with Soldiers of Fortune (Mexican Summer) produced a supergroup that should have gone down in history, bringing members of Endless Boogie and Oneida together with Matt Sweeney (a wise move if you ask me). Its hard to keep a good slinger down and as proof Mike’s quietly slipping out a 2019 gem that deserves a few louder shouts. Weak Signal is his most compact vision yet, and appropriately the music is a skin-flayed, no pussyfootin’ vision of indie tumble that’s got teeth in the flesh and smoke in the air. Bones picks at the same carrion carnage in which his contemporaries Sweeney and Chris Forsyth often find themselves embroiled. There’s a sense of timeless tension — every bit the early ‘90s major label gamble and early aughts classicists in one. The trio can wire-strip the soul (“Tell Me How You Like It”) and still seed the clouds for a bare fist melancholy melt (“Lyin”).

The touchstones on Bones’ syllabus feel more than familiar but he’s spinning it anew, lighting a new fire into the indie rock pyre that’s been smoldering to the coals on the back of 2019. Along with a propulsive thunder from rhythm section Sasha Vine and Tran Huynh, and a bevy of complimentary harmonies as well, Weak Signal is proving to be a record that’s hard to shake and harder to evict from the turntable. The album eeked out last year from NYC tape label Reality Delay, but finds a welcomed new life on LP from Jacuzzi Boys’ label Mag Mag this year. It’s highly recommended that you put this ring-spun sizzler on the table and let it drip over your soul a few times. Let it burrow under the skin and itch with delicious discomfort.



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Ill Globo – “Streamlined Success”

Got another shot across the bow from RSTB South Hemi fave Aarght Records today. The label, who’s had some stunners from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, UV Race, Ausmuteants amigo others, is going for the throat with a new EP from Melbourne’s Ill Globo. Unlike the punk and post-punk stripes bolstered by many on the roster, Ill Globo wields a hardcore halberd that cuts to the bone. However, much like fellow Aussie thrashers Bench Press, the band doesn’t take much stock in the puffed and preening Midwestern machismo that often accompanies the genre. First cut “Streamlined Success” thrashes and smashes with the same freewheeling gusto the genre wears with pride though — taking the breakneck bus around the turns with a wicked smile on their faces. Its been a sweat stain of grief here in The States lately and this slicer is perfect, sweaty company to the pent up frustration and hotbox humidity.

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The Reds, Pinks, & Purples – “Ahead of Their Time”

After a lengthy gestation period the first Reds, Pinks, & Purples LP is on its way out this year. The band first appeared on Raven way back in 2009 on my first compilation, marking the three-year anniversary of the site. Since then Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Art Museums, Ivytree) has had several records come through, but The Reds, Pinks, & Purples has always lingered in the background. That is, until late last year when demos began popping up regularly on their Bandcamp, promising a fully formed record to come. That LP arrives via Spain’s Pretty Olivia Records. Entitled Anxiety Art the record wraps up a full set of RP&P’s amber-hued jangle-pop with just a slight lap of syncopated drums. The band has always been a close cousin of Art Museums, but where that band’s locked beats and pastel strum skew towards bliss, The Reds, Pinks & Purples scrape the heart with a pang of melancholy. Check out the lovely “Ahead of Their Time” below and nab one of the 150 copies of this gem.



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Trash Kit

I’m honestly not sure how Rachel Aggs keeps up with her pace. After solid LPs from Shopping in the past few years and another from Sacred Paws already this year, she’s reviving the post-punk tussle of Trash Kit this year. The band is one of the first places I’d herd her pleasantly knotted riffs and urgent vocals and with their third LP for UK hotspot Upset The Rhythm, they’re solidifying their place in the pantheon of latter day post-punk pickers. Horizon isn’t the scrappy slap across the face that their early albums embodied. Its still bouncing on a bubble of Afrobeat-knicked guitars and polyrhythmic patterns but there’s a richness this time around. While saxes still squawk like the lingering reminders of Maximum Joy’s perfection, the band’s layering in nodes of beautiful harmonies, melancholy violins, and playful pianos. This isn’t the stockpot output of a band looking to regurgitate pogo powered visions of the past. This is an album informed by post-punk’s progression, reinvention, and deconstruction, but also informed by pop’s need to put it all back in place again.

The record is an intricate sweater, knitted with love, time, and talent, unraveling in the breeze. Its something beautiful being picked at over and over until it finally breaks free and floats to the sky. The record breaks down into repeating patterns —broken glass reflecting again and again in a puddle, each layer no less glittering but just a bit further from reach. Aggs’ guitar has never been threaded so steadily while leaving its edges so smooth. Often she’s got a jagged quality, but there’s no sense that any part of Horizon might cut the listener. Its not dangerous in the traditional sense. There’s not rebellion and rancor like Shopping embody, but here the danger is that the listener might forever become lost in an Escher-like landscape of sound that answers questions with questions as to which way is up or out. Its been a big year for Aggs with this on top of the SP rec, but this is definitely the crowning achievement of her year.



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The Hussy – “Coast”

After a few great side hustles (Proud Parents, Cave Curse) Bobby and Heather are back in the saddle as The Hussy and by the saint’s of the garage gutter, a new LP is on the way from Dirtnap this fall. The band bursts out of the gate with album opener “Coast,” a track that’s steeped in the popped-vein psych-punk that’s wound up the hallmark of their sound. The pair hand vocals back and forth along their records but this one’s a true Bobby thrasher — nervy, fried, and collapsing to the floor by the time the the track tumbles to a close. They’re slicing the skin and inserting just a touch of itchy sci-fi punk creep this time around.

Damned if this record isn’t poised to be among their best. Bobby’s spent a lot of the interim backing up Nobunny as a sideman and he’s bringing quite a bit of that manic, whirlwind energy with him here. Add in some great lost Jay Reatard vibes and this one’s hitting the spot. A lot of bands that shot out of the garage-punk gauntlet of the early 2010’s have sought to sand their edges and spit-shine their sound, but The Hussy remains a dirt-caked fireball of fury, proud of the crust under their nails and ready to scratch you with them if need be. Madison’s never been a hotbed of hype, but every time there’s a new Hussy LP, I think that maybe it should be.

The Looming hits shelves September 27th. Be ready.

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