Jane Weaver – “Mission Desire”

An excellently pulpy video stocked with space pirates and hazy animated overtones to accompany one of the standout tracks from on Jane Weaver’s stellar kraut-pop masterpiece. The track picks up the reins left empty in the tragic wake of Broadcast and Stereolab and if it wasn’t already in the lush arms of Finders Keepers, it would have been right at home in the backwards gaze of Ghost Box. The video captures the psychedelic intrigue dripping form every inch of this song and the tone of Weaver’s longform odyssey.


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The Cairo Gang

Emmett Kelly’s run as The Cairo Gang has seen him inhabit mostly noir shades, culminating in the brooding ominousness of 2012’s The Corner Man. He broke stride and found his inner Byrds fan on the excellent Tiny Rebels EP from last year, embracing jangle like a second skin. As Goes Missing, opens it seems that perhaps he’s retreated back into the shadows, “An Angel, A Wizard” has those old clouds gathering around its edges, but they part soon enough as the album throws itself headlong into a spiral of bittersweet strums and autumnal overtones. Its a true extension of Tiny Rebels’ air of sighed relief, and the further the album unfolds the more it shows that Kelly can’t be pinned or painted into the genre conventions we’re likely to try put on him. He’s a songwriter at heart and the ebullient grace of his comfortability with emotion comes beaming through this album. Repeated spins show Goes Missing to be a love letter to 60’s folk and the haunted troubadour, but its core is Kelly’s voice, a bittersweet knife right to the heart every time. Among an already stellar catalog, this may rank as one of his best.



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Peacers

Ah Mike Donovan, you glorious bastard, back again and all is right. That Sic Alps suffered on the periphery of the public consciousness is one of the true musical travesties of our times. Drag City did its best to up the awareness but the band couldn’t hold together and alas Donovan’s recent solo endeavor of country-fried jams spent not enough time on your turntable as well. Well hell, now’s your time to right the wrongs of these many years, as good king Segall is involved and mayhaps this time people will turn their ears the right way. Peacers is built on the same hip-slung acousta-fry that’s permeated all Sic Alps’ releases and as such, the songs in this set writhe uncomfortably against the itch of their stitches until they pull a thread loose. Leaden with a kind of smoke haze that seemingly has no origin, the record tumbles, albeit with a surprising grace, through fifteen bay-area lost radio transmissions, surfing the ionosphere and catching the bent antennas of those with the right kind of short-wave mind to handle the payload of this eponymous affair. If you’re sleeping on this, then all I can say is that I’m sorry for you. Get right with your fuzz gods.


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Rat Columns – “Fooling Around (Long Version)”

Rat Columns’ album Leaf charmed us when it was released back in 2014 but its been pretty quiet on their front until recently, probably because like so many Aussies and Aussie exports members are splitting time between so many bands its probably hard to handle. But David West is back in the songwriting chair and releasing an EP on the unlikely outlet of Blackest Ever Black. The EP showcases an extended version of Leaf standout “Fooling Around” and the extra breathing room looks good on the track. The EP backs the track up with three new tunes recorded by West’s San Francisco lineup of the band. The video compliments the track’s tempered tension with some homespun wanderer vibes. 12″ is limited and knowing BEB its gonna look nice.

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Sauna Youth

Often the barrage of UK DIY can be overwhelming. There are plenty kicking out fodder and it ranges from brilliant to retread but its always nice when a sparkle of genuine fun comes along. All the more worthwhile if that album has a bite to it, and Distractions has some to spare. The album’s built on taught, gnashing guitars and a set of dark hooks that dig deep but bounce with more of a wild-eyed menace than joy. The anxious sweat fairly coats each and every bit of the band’s spring loaded set. The nervy pummel is broken a few times by spoken word pieces that fit tonally with the record’s raw vibe, but they come off just a touch pretentious. When the band sticks to kinetic bursts of fury and sandpaper riffs they keep this one jumping back onto the table every time. Easy to see why they were chosen by Wire to play the band’s DRILL festival. No surprise that this one hits via UK DIY enclave Upset The Rhythm. Well worth more than a few rotations of your time.



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The Hussy

There were few albums that sparked as much joy around here as The Hussy’s Pagan Hiss from 2013. The album took your standard, work-a-day garage rock palette and injected a looseness and skewed pop playfulness to it that bordered on infectious. On their third album, the Wisconsin duo spit-polish the push/pull of their pop dynamic even further. Focusing on a heavier guitar sound and incorporating violin, lap steel and a barrage of effects pedals, the album marks a turn of the duo’s already bubbly songs into a headrush of fizzing hooks. Buzzsaw cascades of sound one minute and the next they blow the dust away to lean back into an orchestral tinged weeper. Its definitely the sound of a band finding footing and slotting themselves up nicely with some of their other ambitiously minded peers like Ty and Mikal who’ve taken those garage instincts and pop mindset and let the screen blow wide, making grander statements than anyone ever really expected of them.



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Hierophants – “Nervous Tic”

Hierophants have shown up here before on a number of singles but good news from the pipe is they have an album coming out in September on Aarght / Goner. First taste is a nervy, anxious slice of sci-fi punk that’s augmented with an equally itchy video. The track picks up whiffs of Chrome and MX-80 then strains them through a more digestible brand of Aussie skronk that falls in line with their ties to Ausmuteants. Ears are perked for the the album for sure.

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Alejandro Jodorowsky – The Holy Mountain

As chaotic as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s psychedelic epic The Holy Mountain is from a visual standpoint, the soundtrack gives back in equal measure, dialing all over the spectrum from plaintive folk to Tuvan throat singing, epic orchestrals to noise and rock. If you’ve ever seen the cult classic, then you know that the movie is overwhelming to say the least and only really coherent to probably about 13% of the populace in the midst of an Ayahuasca comedown. Its heavy handed but also rather beautiful and since its release its legend has only grown. The movie’s score finds a way to keep pace with the barrage of non-linear imagery, bursts of color and shifts in tone so adeptly that its a testament to its originators. Jodorowsky enlisted the help of Don Cherry and Ron Frangipane (he of The Archies fame) to bring the musical companion of the film to life. Along with Jodorowsky’s own conducting, the team proves well more than formidable. Traditionally the score hasn’t been widely available and certainly not on vinyl but RealGone have rounded it up on double vinyl.




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Michael O.

It would probably be pushing it to say that Michael Olivares is better known as the lead singer of San Francisco ramshackle poppers The Mantles. To be fair, The Mantles aren’t exactly a household name either, but that’s more of a testament to most people’s poor taste than anything else. They should be a fixture in your record collection, as should Olivares’ first solo LP for Fruits & Flowers. The album follows his previous single for the start-up label and lands on some of the same twinges of homespun pop but it also expands its scope into a much larger statement of new wave hat tips to Nikki Sudden’s jangle comedowns, classic era Flying Nun cracked lens warbles and even a touch of sun-smeared folk that crinkles around the edges.

Aiding Olivares in bringing this collection to fruition is Edmund Xavier of Horrid Red. The pair don’t fill out a room but in their restraint, they find the nuance that makes Olivares’ brand of honest, fluid pop feel familiar and fresh in equal measure. Plenty of other albums will come beating down your door in 2015 but Really? is the kind that lets you come to it, and you’d be well advised to seek it out.


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Andy Human & The Reptoids

Great news rains down in the form of Andy Human’s new long player, this time augmented with a cast of other Bay Area freaks kitted out as The Reptoids. The record kicks through the same weird weeds of punk / new wave fodder that Andy Jordan has sunk his teeth into before, but this time all the senses are blown up and working overtime. Chewing on tin foil hooks that rumble through Devo infested jungles, littered with Twinkeyz ticket stubs, Roxy music posters and probably a worn copy of that Ozzie reissue; the eponymous LP is glazed with the kind of technicolor punk that only seemed to exist in b-movies. Splashes of Buckaroo Banzai / Dead End Drive-in / Repo Man chaotic hangover waft in from the irradiated guitar lines and razor sharp sax blasts, sickened keys fight for air with Jordan’s demanding yelps and it feels like ’79 again. That’s the thing about Andy Human, its never felt like a hollow imitation but more of a method study in the sick and warbled fringes of 70’s art-punk and he absolutely nails it on the head once again.


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