Video

Third Man’s digging deep into their personal picks it would seem, tackling records from RSTB faves Timmy’s Organism, Wolf Eyes and Texan punks Video. Feels like forever since Video first came our way via shared members in Bad Sports and Wax Museums (2011 to be exact), but second time ’round is just as crushing as the first. A tough-knuckled album for the likes of Jack White’s anointed, but its good to see in times like these that deep pockets have good tastes. The record is muscular and cut through with the kind of punk that’s bound in scuffed leather and bruised to the marrow. Driving and forceful, the pace doesn’t really relent, its all ball peen hammer to the knees, smash and grab rockers that knock the wind out of listeners and pull back for another punch. Hard to say that they’re breaking fresh soil but as I’ve said before, when you’re doing it right, you don’t need to be a pioneer. Sometimes just hitting harder and dirtier than the rest is enough. Rock still needs its saviors and some nights power will always overwhelm depth.

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Heroin In Tahiti

Haven’t been keeping up on my Boring Machine titles and this one slipped away, only to find some heavy relevance with me once the wind turned bitter and the skies greyer. This Italian duo has a way with repurposing the Spaghetti Western for a new and bleaker age. On Sun and Violence the spectral rush of voices seep up from the soil to meet the listener from the outset and from there the record tumbles headlong through Middle Eastern markets at a depth that would make Sun City Girls blush. The record is all atmosphere, foreboding and menacing one minute, and utterly hopeless the next. There’s not a lot of room for cracks of sunlight to enter the oubliette that Francesco de Figueiredo and Valerio Mattioli have created, and when it does enter, as on the less claustrophobic “Black Market,” it somehow only seems like the eye of the storm. There are moments riddled with the heat of percussion, but truly they never sound like drums of dance, but rather drums of war. There’s an element that will appeal to fans of Goat and the aforementioned Sun City Girls but where the former hot glue mysticism to the haze of psychedelic fry, Heroin in Tahiti choose to let the tension melt your face rather than the amps. A great listen for those that spend a lot of time on the edge of your chair.

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The Chills

In light of the considerable Brooklyn cadre of bands that have taken wholesale ownership of the sounds of The Clean and The Chills, its nice to see a band return after nineteen years and teach a few kids how to wield the tools. Following Fire Records’ issue of the BBC sessions last year, the seminal band returns to the forefront, seemingly having picked up their sound where Submarine Bells left off and brushing aside some of their 90’s missteps in the process. The band was one of the “success” stories of the Dunedin scene, though that hardly leaves The Chills as a household name. The most they could really claim is College Rock hits and we all know how much currency that carries in the long run. Silver Bullets , for the most part, is strung through with a thread of politics that winds without weighing it down. Here, they feel more like a band aging with grace, taking the musical lessons of their youth and giving a bit of heft from the adult table. In many ways it cements them as contemporaries with R.E.M., finding a voice that echoes through generations. Though its not the lyrics that truly steal the stage here, its Phillips’ melodies and snake charmer guitar lines; forever reminding us that The Chills knew how to chime before you were out of Velcro trainers.

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Summer Twins – “Demons”

Burger staples Summer Twins have a new album out that’s full of sunshine pop and rainy day strummers and the track “Demons” is probably tops among the bunch. Rooted in their 60’s jangle aesthetic, the Flower Power cult imagery meshes quite nicely with the song, making for a darker turn for the band when it all goes wrong. If you haven’t had a chance to check into Summer Twins, this makes for an excellent entry point.

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Patrick Higgins

The works of Bach are more than canon at this point, they’re practically background, and that’s really the problem with approaching his legacy. Higgins, though, finds a way to make these more than wedding waltz pastiches. He’s got the chops, that much is apparent immediately from the flurry of strings that opens “Aria.” Higgins, along with engineer Ben Greenberg, use the room as an instrument on Bachanalia, with mic placement being an integral part of the process and letting the pieces lap over themselves like waves in a pool. The recordings were done in two vast church spaces, Future-Past studios in Hudson, NY and St. Cecilia’s Church in Brooklyn and those live rooms feed into the record as much as Higgins’ playing. The mics pick up every spinet, every open peak of the room and feed it back onto itself, much as was surely intended when the pieces were performed originally. But to further augment the process, the pair of studio heads have reprocessed audio in several of the compositions, playing with that natural reverb and adding an extra layer of dense sound to the crystalline compositions. Its not surprising that someone associated with Zs is behind an album that’s both technically astounding and musically adventurous, but with this, Higgins has ripped the wallpaper to shreds around him and let these songs breathe again.

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The Sound – Jeopardy

There are no shortages to be found rummaging through the piles of post-punk reissues these days and certainly, if you can’t find some Discogs originals, then there are some corners of your collection that can be fleshed out. The Sound’s debut is one of those albums that, once you hear it, seems like it’s been omitted from far too many necessities lists. The album was picked up on the strength of their first EP and Korova’s impressions of the demos. Dark in all the right ways and textured nicely with liberal washes of synth and a chugging debt to Krautrock, it explodes halfway through opener “I Can’t Escape Myself” and never really lets go. Even when the band isn’t tearing paint from the walls with guitar fury, the mid-tempo smolders are in line with the best of the decade and should appeal to Echo fans thinking they’ve reached the end of the line.

The album was critically lauded by NME, Sounds and Melody Maker but somehow failed to connect with audiences and despite a thoroughly excellent follow-up, From The Lion’s Mouth, the band never caught a foothold. In a story that’s far too common, the album wasn’t even released in the States at the time, only selling respectably at home and so it would languish on critics’ shelves alone. They’d soldier on though, a more forgiving time for bands to grow, and they would make five albums in total. The album serves as a nice jumping off point between punk and the burgeoning post-punk development. Sadly the band drifted out of music eventually, with exception of songwriter Adrian Borland, who worked as a producer until he took his own life in 1999. Sadder still, this was just before a campaign of reissues would have brought the band back into the light and love they sorely deserved.

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Walter

Walter is the side hustle of supporting members from Meatbodies, Ducktails and Sadgirl and they’ve tapped the vein of fuzz-hurled psych sludge that’s inhabited the bulk of garage since the firm of Segall and Dwyer put a lock on the sound a half decade or so back. They’ve got the right touchstones (catchy riffs, heavy distortion, frantic squall) and the right connections (opening a swath of dates for Fuzz this fall) to go the extra mile peddling gnashed wire tracks that puff out of your speakers like angry grey scribbles of sound. You’d be well right to say that perhaps this ground’s been covered but hell, around these parts, the more the merrier of this brand of sonic soup. The volume should be tipped to the right and you might as well open the windows and share with the neighbors, Get Well Soon is made for sharing.

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Hierophants

These chaps from Geelong have been a long time coming on this one, teasing with some singles, but finally cracking the egg wide open with Parallax Error. Cutting the swath down new wave’s long tail of influences, you’d be remiss not to notice the fingerprints of Mark Mothersbaugh littered on this one, but there’s plenty of room for Gary Numan via his Ultravox obsession and the quirkiness of The Buggles and Flying Lizard sprawled across those synth lines. That’s not to say that this sounds like an 80’s comp, rather that the band seems to have chewed on their fair share of pop laced outsiders and let the sound drive them to find their own antisocial corner to crawl in. There’s a Plasticine film pulled over the top of Parallax, refracting the light in angled shapes and making it hard to grip, but isn’t that just the fun part? Nothing here sticks easy, its catchy but catches in your throat just as often. A damn fine salvo from the South Hemi if I do say so.

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Six Organs of Admittance – Dust and Chimes

This one’s still a little fresh in the ears for this column, but what the hell the turn of this last century is probably further off than I want to admit. It seems just around the corner that the clock ticked 2000 and Ben Chasney was picking his way into a second album, emblazoned then with a washed out photo cover that’s replaced with a much more appropriate woodsy backdrop on the new version. Dark Noontide would forever be the moment when Chasney broke into a wider consciousness but this predecessor really brings him into his own and out of the sketchbook patterns of his debut. Its a lush album built on a love of raga and Fahey and feeling very much in line with the trend down psych-folk inroads at the time. Being that this was released in the vinyl desert years it only apeared on CD at the time, leaving fans of Ben’s catalog with a hole to fill on the turntable. But now Holy Mountain’s gotten this on the table and ready for psych fanatics the world over. Complete with a new video here for “Blue Sun Chiming” by Magik Markers’ Elisa Ambrogio.

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Together PANGEA

No lie, I think that the last full length from Together PANGEA was one of the most fun, deeply skewed and excellently rough-edged rock albums of the last ten years. It’s only with open arms that I’ll receive any new material from the band. William Keegan’s throaty rasp is on high power here, shredding skin as hard as guitar strings. It all comes from a similar arena as Badillac, loose woven pop songs that play the most of bombast but still feel fretted over, soaked in production that plays up their acumen for diving between fury and restrained quietude. Together PANGEA are a band that knows that passion passes for currency and they pour sweat and bone into their songs. This time around Tommy Stinson steps into the producer’s chair and while whatever nuance he’s adding seems fairly in line with the sound they’ve captured prior, I’m sure that the presence of frayed rock royalty can only serve to drive this further. It’s a stopover release, hopefully on the way to another full length, but still a pretty essential piece of their canon.

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