Sheer Mag – III

Over the course of three EPs Sheer Mag have built a solid reputation, largely on their ability to squeeze 70’s arena rock and sweaty 60’s soul into the same busted bucket while heaping on the politics in a way that makes them go down easy, despite their songs’ dark centers. The recordings have a tinny quality, but that’s a part of the charm. Christina Halladay sounds like she’s being broadcast over an AM wavelength right into your best memories. There’s a bit of Shannon & The Clams, a bit of Ariel Pink and they split the seams between Royal Headache and Thin Lizzy nicely. But underneath the aesthetics beats a passionate howl and lyrics that deal with the grim realities of working class women in Ciudad Juarez, the machinations of hate and the implications of emotional manipulation. There’s a lot at play here, but at their heart the songs have enough catchy bits to make that combination work swimmingly. Sure lo-fi has had its day and its probably time to crawl back to clarity but the core of Sheer Mag is stacked like Tootsie-pop perfection in its sweetness and jawcracking fun and if you listen close enough, you just might learn something.





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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Gamma Knife”

Ah its almost unfair how much greatness is coming out of the South Hemi this week. Yesterday graces us with a cut from The Murlocs and today the next King Gizz is confirmed and already burning with the release of the “Gamma Knife” video. This is the long rumored release that the band was recording at Daptone while there were here last year and its taken that long to knock this one into the blistering shape hinted at on “Gamma Knife.” A year in the oven is a long time for a band on a three-record-a-year schedule, so hopes are pretty high for Nonagon Infinity to go ahead and flatten a few skulls.

The first cut doesn’t disappoint. It gets right back to the Gizz in fine form hitting, the octane gulping garage-prog that’s made them a household fixture this year. The video is much in the same light as “Trapdoor” from Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, a trip through the ren-faire rabbit hole, mixed with plenty of psychedelic overtones and effects. Doesn’t look like ATO has any more of their pre-orders up but, I’d say get in line for the Aussie pre-order now. Even with shipping this one’s gonna be worth it.


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SØS Gunver Ryberg

SØS Gunver Ryberg’s latest EP for Contort is an extension of her sound design centering on layered field recordings and persistent rhythms as a means to create tranformative musical experience. The release is made up of three tracks and an alternate cut that strips away some of the layers and goes for the brain stem immediately with the punch and throb of repeated rhythms. Ryberg’s work skirts the borders between dance, composition and noise and in many places its more of a barrage to be endured than to be moved by or to, but she finds a certain grace in brutality and in a lot of ways the record is the sum of its parts rather than just the kick of its end product.

The origins of some of her brutal bricks might seem surprising. The field recordings for AFTRYK were made in Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, where she recorded the sound of the mountains groaning and crumbling beneath the stress of active coal mining. While serene mountain vantages aren’t the first image that comes to my mind, the violence of the mining tearing apart a serene environment can be felt for sure in the subtext of Ryberg’s work. There’s certainly a feeling of digital violence eroding the soul of the source material here. Pair it all with the spot on collage work of Anthony Gerace and this is a pretty complete package.



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The Murlocs – “Compensation”

The Murlocs hard driving brand of Garage ‘n B is headed for a new album with the release of Young Blindness later this month. Ahead of its touchdown on the turntable the band, featuring King Gizz harp/key man Ambrose Kenny-Smith, has released a couple of stellar tracks that bode well for the full length soundtracking your Saturday night sweat lodge. The video for “Compensation” is a simple setup, just a dancer and an iPod intercut with a few shots of the band, but with the addition of Jason Galea’s digital crust, it adds a layer of off-kilter distortion that fits the band’s vibe well. The song’s a killer riff that can’t be tamed and if you’re holding out for more from Ambrose’s day gig then you’d be a damn fool to sleep on The Murlocs.

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Alan Price – Savaloy Dip

Alan Price is probably best known Stateside for being the keyboardist for The Animals, but like many members of that vaunted band, he had a long career outside of its bounds as well. Following on from a well received film soundtrack for the Malcolm McDowell comedy O Lucky Man! he prepared a follow-up solo album, Savaloy Dip. The album was built on a similar frame of R&B as the soundtrack and runs in the same vein as contemporaries Van Morrison, Randy Newman and later era Kinks with a quaint eye on small town everymen. Now the album may not be, as Omnivore proclaims, a masterpiece, but its a well rounded pop album and the fate that befell it was seemingly unfair.

Warner Bros. deemed the album unfit for release, and though it was scheduled and even produced in some quantities, it was axed last minute. Price would salvage a track from the album, “Between Today And Yesterday,” to appear on his album of the same name; an album that ostensibly replaced Savaloy Dip. The record built up a bit of a reputation in collector’s circles for having leaked (in the 70’s fashion) when Ampex’s 8-Track plant pressed and shipped a few copies of it to stores, only to recall them as quickly as possible. But some of those copies did make it out to the public and thus its legend grew. The record has a lot of bright spots and for fans of the white boy Soul ‘n B and salt of the earth singer-songwriter moves from the 70’s this one has a lot to offer, so thankfully this is back in print in its entirety for, if not really a demanding public, at least a deserving one.




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Young Guv – “Crawling Back To You”

Still hooked on the sugar sweet hooks of Young Guv’s modern power pop masterpiece from last year and this video serves as a great reminder why the album’s feelings of lost youth are so strong. Eschewing the obvious tale of lovers reconciling the video follows a young boy breaking free from the tedium of shopping to play in a local mall, only to realize that at the end of the day the comfort of his mom is as welcomed as his freedom. The song’s still a standout from the album and if you have not picked this one up by now, you’re sorely in need.

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Milk Teeth

Though they’ve been making a dent overseas in their native UK, I’ve heard paltry little about Bristol’s Milk Teeth here. For all the Dilly Dally fans losing their shit last year and the roll of 90’s nostalgia that’s swept through in the past couple of years, it would seem this release is tailor made for these times. The record is, as mentioned, rooted deep in its love of the Pixies/Nirvana/Quicksand axis of 90’s heavies, though there are certainly a few moments when they get near the velvet crush of Veruca Salt as well. The record’s got an explosive hold on punk and grunge and they wield hooks like bats in a street brawl, swinging wild for the fences and socking you hard in the chest with each beat.

Now admittedly my punk past comes more from the pop half than the hardcore half (hey we weren’t all that angry) so in the push pull girl/guy vocal dynamic I’m much more partial to Becky Blomfield’s Cobain/Kim Deal delivery than her counterpart Joshua Bannister’s sandpaper growl but put together the pair head up this record with a ferocity and range that feels like a snapshot of hazy high school nights and 90’s Sunday slumps. There are plenty of kids picking up their flannel and Converse combo second hand these days but not all of them are wearing it so well as Milk Teeth do.





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Rangda – “The Sin Eaters”

Man the psych video hits just keep coming this week. I’ve already expressed some love for Randa’s excellent album The Heretic’s Bargain and now the band have an additional reason to love it in the form of a stop motion collage video from Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers). Full of cultist imagery and pacing well with the song’s dark tones, the video is a psychedelic pop-up book for our amusement. If you haven’t delved into the rest of Rangda’s album, is about damn time.

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Heron Oblivion

The cumulative members of Heron Oblivion have spent their fair share of time among Raven’s pages and praises. Meg Baird’s solo work and tenure with Espers tracked a fair amount of the early ’00s around here and I feel like it should go without saying that Comets On Fire and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound are made for Raven. So bringing the members of both teams on board for a full album not only seems like a trip down nostalgia alley (maybe you have a memory lane, our psych journey is a bit seedier) but also a bit of a welcomed return to the brain-fried fields of psych-folk. The genre’s been somewhat drained of its stature of late, since that booming revival that hit in ’04-’05, but that’s not to say that the dark tinges of Pentagle, Fresh Maggots and Susan Christie don’t still make for good cannon fodder.

Now its a bit of a feint to suggest that this is as wispy as many of the connotations of the word folk or even psych-folk at its truest might drum up, the strummy plucks of Espers this ain’t, and though Baird is riding the forefront with her songwriting and taking cues from her folk past, the band lays in its own upbringing to loose the storm over a few epics that sate the hunger left for Comets On Fire’s, well, fire to be honest. Tracks like “Rama” and “Your Hollows” might start out with a raincloud drizzle of dark folk inclinations but they wind up with a tsunami’s worth of fury by the time the tracks close. And that balance is what the band’s eponymous LP is all about. The band rides the dynamics from calm to storm and keeps the listener holding on for safety. The end result is a completely heady record that feels at home with any of its member’s legacies. So far 2016 is shaping up to be a good year for psychedelic travelers and this one is definitely leading the pack.



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Black Mountain – “Florian Saucer Attack”

The first taste from Black Mountain’s new LP IV was a dirgey bit of bleak prog that felt as heavy as their namesake, but they froth it up on this new track. Its heavily lead by Amber Webber’s vocals and pulsing along on a real late Hawkwind vibe that’s full on carbon exhaust chugging with a smattering of syth stabs for good measure. Everything in this album feels like the band is really embracing their Prog membership club status and for the record, I couldn’t be happier to see the band go full Tarkus.

The accompanying video is lent a hand by Chad Van Gaalen as animator and director and his style and content here seem to be drawing on some real Rick and Morty vibes. Again, not something I’d ever complain about. I can’t believe its been almost six years since the band had an album proper but with these tastes, I’m looking forward to it.

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