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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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “People-Vultures”

Another drink from the well of King Gizz’ upcoming Nonagon Infinity and this one seems to be a continuation of the musical themes in “Gamma Knife.” The song has the same intensity, driving guitar line and thunder squall that greeted the world previously. The song is an indictment of self-interested parties draining the planet’s resources and as such it’s a nuclear lob in the direction of the corporate behemoths. Its a bleak look, but then again nothing so far from Nonagon Infinity seems like its a day at the park, they left that all behind when the papier-mâché wilted. The record is set to play as part of an infinite loop and hearing these two tracks back to back, a picture of the album’s shape is starting to come into view, ever so slightly. I’m interested to see if, like the suited first half of I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, this one ends up with a brutal kick of tied narrative and tone. Either way, who cares? Its the Gizz and its on fire! This one is, needless to say, one of my most anticipated of the year.




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Goat

Goat returns with another single, following up on last Fall’s “It’s Time For Fun” 7″. The new lead track doesn’t burn so hot as their past albums, but like that previous small format taster, its a cool water psych simmer that still ropes in Goat’s global tribalism and then pairs it with some excellent guitar ripples and an autumnal flute. The flip also takes things down a calmer road, diffusing the scorch of psychedelic bombast in favor of groove as a weapon of choice. Seems like all this is leading somewhere and perhaps there’s a new album on the rise, an album that speaks more to the communal harmony of Goat’s world influences than to the fevered pound of their war drums. Can’t think of another year in which that might be the best move, we could all use a little unity as of late.




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Pony Time

Pony Time are creating a pretty danceable racket with just bass and drums, knocking the garage-pop formula askew and finding their solace in a quick wit that’s underscored by chunky as hell hooks. The Seattle duo has kicked out four releases since 2011 and they’re only now finding a true stride with Rumours 2: The Rumours Are True. The band called out Wounded Lion, which caught my eye and its a damn fine point of reference for the their half cocked smile and thick low-end celebrating fare. There’s a toasted ember element in the grumble and rumble of Rumours that comes off as duct tape biker glam, feeling like a band reaching for the bright lights with what they have on hand. I’ve always loved a non-trad lineup and though the bass n’ drums combo has been around plenty (DFA 1979, COCO, Lightning Bolt) that fat bass sound combined with Luke Beetham’s yelp lets Pony Time keep the tradition alive without immediately pegging them into a hole dug by others traveling down similar aesthetic paths. The band brings the party and not a whiff of self-seriousness and that’s the charm of Rumours 2 they’re just hanging out like the Spuds McKenzie of garage you were always looking for.




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Drinking Flowers – “Black Monday”

Creeping into the sheets of Britpop’s glam hangover and smudged with post-punk’s rhythmic charms, Drinking Flowers are finding a hazy medium between driving pop and smokey psychedelics. Their album on Manifesto is packed with a plethora of pop gems but standout single “Black Monday” ranks among the best. The band have an appropriately gauzy and disorienting video for the track, leaning on the song’s droning buzz and rumble of bass, the clip is a pretty apt summation of the track’s headspun approach. This one’s been a playlist staple for a while now and I’m remiss for only noticing now that this video’s been out for a couple of weeks, but worth a spin for sure.


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