Mystic Braves

Mystic Braves return with another album and though they’re branching out into trappings of their aesthetic (sitars and mellotron, oh my) they’re still very much in tune with their inner 60’s nerds and make no allusions otherwise. Days of Yesteryear as a title doesn’t pussyfoot, that’s pretty much exactly what they’re going for and succeed at channeling a heady mash of Byrds, 13th Floor Elevators and ? and the Mysterians that feels like looking at a well stocked record shelf through a kaleidoscope. What the band lacks in fresh perspective, they make up for in fun, fuzz solos and exuberant hooks. There are plenty these days who see fit to keep the Joshua Light Show in work and this one will fit nicely on the shelf next to the Allah-las, Shivas and Paperhead records in your collection.

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Pleasers

Matthew Melton hops the rail from SF to Austin and in the process hooks up with locals Ben Tipton and Julian Young for a meatier take on his usual formula, born of garage grease and the most powerful of pop. Definitely beat into a shape more fitting of his legacy in Bare Wires than the dreamier cuts of Warm Soda, Pleasers are still and unmistakable product of Melton’s leather tough swoon. The A-side is, as I’ve mentioned, cut from a very similar cloth to Bare Wires and that’s never a bad thing. They were taken from us too soon. The flip is edging a bit closer to Soda territory but there’s still a bit more bite and snag in the guitar than would befit that band. Best not to think too deeply on it, that’s never the point here. Melton speaks in tongues of rock n’ roll and that’s what’s on deck here. Naturally, I’m hoping that this will branch out into a larger lifespan and a possible full length, but lets not look a gift single in the mouth.

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

King Gizz are keeping their two a year pace with a new full length to cap a pretty incredible year. Always ones to keep the audience wary and on their toes, they exit the jazz rock conceptual phase of Quarters and the dog-eared burnt psych of I’m In Your Mind Fuzz to take things down several notches… volume-wise, at least. The band self-imposed an “acoustic instruments only” policy on the record, roped together some sounds they’d previously never explored (clarinet, cello, double bass) and headed to a shipping container on Stu Mackenzie’s parents farm to record this sucker. The result is a pretty captivating and lilting collection of pop songs that embraces the pastoral background of its origins nicely. The darkness that’s billowed at the corners of their previous work is lifted somewhat and they get back to the weirdness and free spirit rambling of Oddments but still present some of their most easily accessible songs yet. The long winding jam is ever the band’s forte and while they may have turned the electricity off they haven’t exactly lost their ability to bend a song into a frantic bit of blues that explodes into 70’s tinged stadium-sized glory. The band was always meant for more ears and it seems this may be the final push they need. But, hell, who knows what comes from here, the fun seems to be in guessing where they’ll hop to next.

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Timmy’s Organism

All right, back on duty after a week’s vacation and its nice to find an old friend in the stacks. Timmy Vulgar, as permanent a Detroit fixture as corruption and hockey, returns to his gas leak garage project Timmy’s Organism for another grapple with reality. Long since my favorite incarnation of Vulgar’s cracked corner of the universe, the Organism is a bastion of fuzz crunch and pop debris, mangled and kitted out in tin foil hats before being flung out into the unwelcome world. On Heartless Heathen, Vulgar finds his way through the exhaust billows and clears the room with a few down and straightforward soul-jerkers. Perhaps its the inspiration of jumping onto Third Man’s Audio Social Dissent series of releases, perhaps its just always been in ‘im. But for the initiated, there’s also plenty of fry here to love as well; those sickening gasps of guitar that seem to scream out of the instrument against its will, the fifteen foot howl of Vulgar’s vocals building like a storm and the barbed wire beat stomping like a broken jackhammer. These are the hallmarks that I’ve come to anticipate from Timmy’s Organism and they’re all here in abundance. If Jack’s holdin’ up hometown heroes and garage punks these days then bless his pale visage for knocking this piece of sickness out onto the table.

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Fuzz

Fuzz descend again with a new LP and, as was probably expected, its a heavy chugger wafting in the Sabbath/Flower Traveling Band/Edger Broughton vibes and generally hanging in the deep waters of stoner metal with perfect comfort. More ambitiously sprawling than its predecessor, II finds the band stretching their limbs slightly into prog territory, though that might not be too surprising giving that Fuzz has always seemed to be an experiment in playing out the 70’s rock fantasy to its fullest proportions. Segall, Moothart and Ubovich have plenty of heavy exploits in their respective personal projects but here they wade in amplifier fry with a dedication that threatens to crack pavement. Thick with the smell of dry ice in the air, blind from the barrage of lights, the album is so fully awash in boot stomp and proto-metal reverberation that its not hard to imagine a tiny idol of Tony Iomi given a token offering of liquor before each Fuzz show. The sound isn’t rote though; they augment the usual guitar/drums bombast with a few of the tiny production details that we’ve come to expect of Ty following the last solo record. Keys balloon under the fray of a few tracks, and is that the sound of violin on “Let It Live”? Personally I’d like to see Segall wade further into the prog, could make for an interesting experiment to go full bore nerd rock, and Fuzz seems like just the platform to do it. But that’s not to say that II isn’t worth plugging the blacklight in, it’ll be welcome in any stoner basement with open arms.

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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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