The Flesh Eaters – Forever Came Today

The Flesh Eaters were the brainchild of Chris Desjardins, often known as much for his fanzine Slash as he is for his musical contributions. Though the zine gave him the cred and the connections to the L.A. punk scene, what he did with those tools speaks for itself. After the cracked skin flay of the band’s ’81 album, A Minute To Pray A Second To Die, he whittled down his lineup of heavy hitters and perfected the burn on the album’s follow-up, Forever Came Today. Its often a toss between which album is considered the band’s masterstroke, but they’re really two halves of the same fevered vision. Desjardins’ acetone handshake vocals are in full effect, blistering and sliding between dark fury and full on psychotic howl. The guitars are slightly less barbed than they are on AMTPASTD, but hit with a focused attack, rather than just rip at the mind. Personally it seems like this record only refines the brew that was cooking up to this point and tightens up the wild rabbit punch attack of the band’s potent punk pummel.

This album came right dab in the middle of a solid run of Flesh Eaters records that would end with 1983’s A Hard Road To Follow before Desjardins would take a tangent into the more acoustic oriented Divine Horsemen and their run of early albums for SST. He’d then get the band back together in the ’90s with a new crew and some swings in genre that circled the punk drain but never quite measured up to these early exploits. After nabbing a copy of Superior Viaduct’s reissue of the previous platter, I’m excited for this one to follow. The label’s remastered the album and the sound does the record justice, showcasing this ragged classic in a new light for a new generation who most likely missed out on its bite the first time around.

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Wireheads – “Arrive Alive”

I’ve had a soft spot for Adelaide’s Wireheads for a while now and after last year’s excellent, Big Issues, they’re back already with a new track from an upcoming Tenth Court LP. The track is more refined and reserved than the Wireheads of old. There is hardly a sign of disonant violin or screeching din, instead they’ve built a song around the steady roll of bass that builds like a distant menace and hazy, grey tinted guitars. Of course the charred copper delivery of Dom Trimboli remains in the forefrong, never letting things get too comfortable, but as far as Wireheads go, this one is positively restrained. I’ll be interested to see how it fits in with the rest of the album (also titled Arrive Alive) which arrives soon from the Aussie imprint.

More info HERE.

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Imaginary Softwoods

Emeralds’ John Elliott has a few aliases of note (Outer Space, Mist, Lilypad) but its been a while since he took up the mantle as Imaginary Softwoods, having left the project fairly dormant since his 2011 album, The Path Of Spectrolite. Now he’s gotten together a collection of tracks recorded in the past few years that span a few different tributary directions from the Softwoods canon, and while he dabbles in synth, Kosmiche, tape collage, spoken word and drone it all seems to meld together into a pretty cohesive and tranquil listen, despite not having been planned as an album proper. No matter the form he takes, Elliott keeps a thread of calm, out of body experience as the touchstone for all these tracks, floating in suspended animation throughout. That thread keeps Annual Flowers In Color from feeling too much like an afterthought.

Its nice to see a few more sides to the Imaginary Softwoods model here, though Elliott is still at his best with the hypnotic Kosmiche that brought this project to fruition. Centerpieces “Aura Show” and “Another First/Sea Machine” bubble with a gloriously serene glow, pushing their 10+ minute timings into the ether without ever feeling weighed down. This is a nice collection and reminder of why Elliott and Emeralds were such a key piece of synth revival of the past decade. Hopefully this collection isn’t the last of Imaginary Softwoods, but a door to new works with a tighter focus.





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Dan Melchior

Melchior is hard man to pin down, he’s moved from garage to noise and back again so often its hard to know what the newest release holds in store. Plays ‘The Greys’ falls pretty squarly into the noise camp and despite the kind of worn notion of “I don’t play the blues, I play the greys,” its a nice deconstruction of the blues and boogie forms in the same vein as Tetuzi Akiyama’s Don’t Forget To Boogie, albeit without the malfunctioning amp aspect. Instead, Melchior takes the repetitive notion of boogie and lets it fall into the blender blades of fuzz, feedback and blatant jump cut juxtaposition. His guitar ties tracks together but it fades in and out of view like a a radio station pushing past the broadcast limits.

And at its heart this record seems to be about pushing past limits, past pain, past life and past pop. Melchior himself has had a bad run of it in the last few years, personally and the some of that understandable frustration and sadness seems to be coming through in these bleak exorcisms. Melchior knows how to wield his noise and here he’s found a good balance between the drop out zone of boogie and the moments when the surrounding hum takes us over.



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Okey Dokey – “Wavy Gravy”

Nashville’s Okey Dokey have knack for time warped soul and on the first track from the duo’s upcoming Love You, Mean It they dig deep into the fifties skinny tie set, despite their pedigree in shaggy rock n’ roll. Made up of Aaron Martin and guitarist Johny Fisher of fellow Nashville band The Weeks, they also rope in some other local figures in their live band, including members of The Weeks, Sol Cat, Desert Noises, Diane Coffee, and Wild Child. On record though this brings to mind fellow southerners Magic Kids and their heartswell swoon and sunshine sweet delivery. There’s a touch more clouds in Okey Doke’s sky, but those patches of blue crack through pretty often.




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Honey Radar – “Caterpillar”

Following up on that righteous split on Third Uncle/Cunklet, Honey Radar are heading into a full length for What’s Your Rupture?. Still wading the murk between psych pop and faded 60’s garage stomp, this track’s got a hypnotic swirl and noxious chug that feels pretty right alongside your White Fence and Morgan Delt LPs. Though, it must be said, Jason Henn finds a lower slung swagger with less of an indebted pine to the past than either of those artists. “Caterpillar” stomps with heavy boots and a truly motorik heart, but it’s when the track gets lost in the smokescreen of Henn’s vocal FX that it brings the whole thing together to gel in its own swampy glory. Gonna need to hear more of this one, that’s for sure.




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Savoy Motel – “Hot One”

This wasn’t quite what I was expecting when I’d heard that members of Cheap Time and Heavy Cream were teaming up for a new band. Both were RSTB faves and both traded in the sweaty crunch of garage punk with touches of glam floating in the mix. Savoy Motel have similar penchant for the late ’70s but they take their cues from a mutant strain of disco and funk that comes together in songs that are catchy and propulsive with melted wax twist. The addition of vocals sung through a mouth harp dips into just a bit of the wide open experimentalism that fueled the beginnings of disco, when anything was in play as long as the beat remained locked and you could find a way to dance to it. Sadly this single remains decidedly hard to actually obtain. There was a run of 50 promo 7″s that are long since gone. Though both sides can be found streaming as videos, neither can be purchased as of yet. Maybe they’ll show up on a full length or the band will get a Bandcamp running. Though for now, that elusiveness adds to the warbled charm of the single.

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Kevin Morby

It wasn’t a huge surprise when Kevin Morby made the move to Dead Oceans. He was due for a wider stage. His last album, Still Life was a leap forward from his debut both in musical depth and lyrical intensity and he doubles down on those qualities for Singing Saw. The album explores an even darker vein from Still Life, delving through explorations of life’s brief tenure. The biggest change, musically, comes from a new reliance on piano as a centerpiece. Before, Morby’s ballads were charged by his guitar and lonesome troubadour delivery, but the influence of Sam Cohen’s production brings the instrument into the forefront while also filling out Morby’s world with a gorgeous array of strings and brass, keys and percussion.

The album has a gravitas that places it on a shelf above Morby’s past work, solo or with The Babies. Its restless and strangely world weary for a person so young, but maybe that’s just an old soul peeking out through Morby’s songs. It feels like a soundtrack to a movie with little dialog and long pensive shots that carry menace in their bones; eyes in the rearview, deserted gas stations and looming mountains that never seem to get closer. The lyrical arcs evolve like the light coming over that stretched horizon. “Cut Me Down” is calm and even, but lyrically it seems like such a foreboding entry point, steeped in sadness and resolution, all qualities that continues on through “I Have Been To The Mountain” and “Singing Saw,” right up until “Drunk On A Star” sighs and lets some of the edge falter. By the closing strains of “Water,” somehow the dawn’s crept in and everything feels like it will be all right, even if deep down those feelings of bleak doubt remain. A gorgeous statement by Morby and a true 2016 highlight.



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Kikagaku Moyo – “Silver Owl”

Second single from Kikagaku Moyo’s House In the Tall Grasses dips in with the same pastoral psych that led off on “Kogarashi” but as the band nears the culmination of the ten minute span they dive into a tempest of psychedelic fray and flay that shows the other side of thier temper. So far the cool puddles of cave psych that drip from this release are stacking up to be their best yet of a solid run of albums over the past few years. 2016 is shaping up to be a fine year for psychedelic stomp and smolder and nearing the top of that list there’s a spot knocked out for Kikagaku Moyo for sure.



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Visitors – Poet’s End

Visitors were an Edinburgh post-punk band that caught the favor of John Peel, who featured them on his radio show a few times and even financed their second single, “Empty Rooms.” Sadly, the notoriously dodgy sound quality of that single did little to further their cause among fickle fans. They’d use another Peel Session to fill out a third, but by then their prospects were growing grim. The band’s penchant for stretched lengths, moody shades and subtle electronics seems like it should have caught favor with fans of PiL, Wire and Joy Division but the band remained strikingly independent and without the love and push of a proper record company they were ill fated, even with opening gigs for The Cure. Telephone Explosion has rounded up their three singles, of which “Electric Heat” stands out as the true gem here, though the tracks from the flip of that single and “Compatibility” all fill this set out nicely.

“Empty Rooms” is rightfully derided for its sound quality, though the songs in the single are still pretty solid and would have benefited in the live setting. The rest of the set is fleshed out with four unreleased tracks and among these “Our Glass” proves to have been a shameful loss to the folds of time, it’s stronger than some of the released material for certain. The Peel connection will certainly perk ears but as far as lost post-punk gems go this one has its merit on the whole. Would have been killer if the master tapes could have been redone and spot cleaned for a strong sound across the whole, but there’s gold in here all the same.




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