Century Palm

Ok its been far too long since I’ve done a singles post, so its good to be back in the cut with a double shot from Century Palm. The band features members of RSTB faves Ketamines and Dirty Beaches. The title track burns with a kind of garage / glam swagger reaching back to some ’77 vibes that only thicken and darken on the flip side where they wander into the noisy alleys of post-punk with nods to Bauhaus covers of bands like T. Rex and Bowie or The Sound at their more desperate and vicious. “Valley Cyan’s” insistent beat makes for a perfect pick-me-up coupled with woozy keys and guitars that are probably screaming for a windmill strum. Both tracks hint at (hopefully) more to come from this Canadian outfit, and to be honest this is hitting me right in the sweet spot, as I’ve been running down a welcome look back through some post-punk nostalgia of late. This follows well on last year’s Century Palm EP, a grip of tracks in similar vein that work as more than just playlist fodder. Hell the band even roped in Mikey Young on mastering. Seems like a whole lot of reasons to pick this up and that EP if you missed it last year.


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Wand

Wand are turning out to be rather prolific, eh? Third album on the way, second of the year and its proving to be just as packed with heady fuzz, psych weirdness and that sulfur burn sound that’s made them one of our favorites over the past couple of years. This time they don’t just barrel headlong into gravy thick riffs though, there’s a nod to the heaviness and hooks and then the band tumbles into caverns of echo that sound like they’ve been spending some time with A.R. and Machine’s 1972 opus Echo. After they climb out of the chasm they take a left turn towards Barrett-laced psych-folk that fits them quite well.

But while the detours are nice and make for a well rounded album, its a welcome return to testing the tensile limits of your speaker covers as they go for some jugular crushing, exorcism rousing riffs on the back half, bringing plenty of evil vibes floating over the veil. They bring it all down with one of the sweetest sounding cuts they’ve written to date, a perfect mix of sweet pastoral strums and soaring grandiosity that show Tame Impala and Temples how its done. Bu while those bands borrow from the book of niceties in psych, Wand find a few more ways to blend the weirdness of prog with the heavy boots of metal (just like Sabbath told ya) and come out a bit more fun and a whole lot louder. Perhaps you’re asking if your vinyl shelf needs another Wand record this year. The answer is, of course, that it definitely does.

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Wavves – “Way Too Much”

Wavves’ love of wrestling has often been the subject of Twitter rants and its about time that it made a video appearance. Frankly I’m surprised there haven’t just been a slew of videos in this vein. The song is fizzy as usual but the vid borrows a few grains from Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler,” more dark reality than celebratory body slams. Definitely feeling this track.



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Gnoomes

UK label Rocket Recordings is mostly known for their heavier exploits, gargling on guitar fumes and the occasional tonal drift of Gnod. So the opening strums of Gnoomes album Ngan! come as a bit of a shock, though mind you only in context. The album eases into the monster that is “Roadhouse,” the fifteen minute opener that begins with a sweet lope, a nod to Neu and some shrouded vocals before bridging in some of that guitar fire that we’ve all been expecting since the Rocket logo stamped the back. But that’s about as rowdy as this one gets. The Russian band is from the far off city of Perm, literally translated to “Faraway Land” due to its proximity to Moscow and its history of being used for exile; and the band use their isolation well, tuning into a sense of amplified wonder that comes across in the band’s longform workouts. They tighten up ever so slightly for middle tracks “Myriads” and “Moognes” both workable bits of psych pop that swoon more than growl, and then it’s back to another stretch on closer “My Son.” The band are definitely most comfortable pushing the boundaries of their gauzy pop to the edges and its apparent that this record was built for the live setting. It’ll probably be pretty comfy on the turntable too. Not a bad intro to this band.

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The Host

Named after and inspired by new wave retreats, Esalen Lectures is a pseudonym of Barry Lynn, who is more often found carving bass sculptures under the name Boxcutter. But the waves of IDM drift away in a sea of sensory deprivation here, instead invoking the float and flutter of artists like JD Emanuel, A.R. Reichel and Ash Ra Temple. The tracks fold into one another, rippling and easing their way into a burned cortex until they begin to take hold and then totally release. If Lynn is aiming for a system reset, a cleanse of the mind, then he’s fairly on point with his delivery. The album doesn’t drone like so many analog purveyors but it makes use of synths to curl a bit of psychic smoke through the ripples of your grey matter until the subconscious takes the wheel.

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Tijuana Panthers

Following up Wayne Interest is no easy feat. The band crystallized their sound, shaved off some of the rough edges of the past few years and really found their stride in the foaming garage eddies and pounding pace of rock’s dark corridors. They never let themselves ascribe to a style wholesale and they continue that ethos on Poster. There’s a slacked summer hangover of slowed surf, that twang of garage that they always keep in a back pocket and a bit of pop bounce that holds it all together. When they’re at their best, the band is spitting headstrong anthems that stride into the room with enough confidence to turn every head. “Set Forth,” “Send Down The Bombs” and “Front Window Down” are some of the band’s most endearing tracks and highlights among the bounce, sneer and shimmy here. But the whole record is a nice compliment to Wayne Interest, making a pair of releases that swirl the radio dial through ’66 – ’80 with just the right sense of timing.

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Future Punx

Future Punx are riding the high of 70’s post-punk in a way that few are with such pure immersion these days. Plenty have found ways to incorporate the trappings of the genre into their work but the Punx divine the nervy, jerky dance and smash of influences with the same palpable excitement of their forebears; sounding ripped out of time. They’ve admitted to a love affair with Fear of Music and David Byrne’s fingerprints are fresh in the heart of This is Post-Wave, but they also capture the raw funk hangover and stark minimalism of other luminaries of the era, namely ESG and Medium Medium. The mood is celebratory, but in a way that seems less purely joyful and more in the mood of dancing to spite the forces that told them they couldn’t. Its a dark, cathartic grind that’s more for your chagrin than for their levity. And this is certainly a good time to dance it off in someone’s face. Its a perfect time and place for the raw nerve of post-punk to rear its head amid the social rot to our collective teeth.

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Jacuzzi Boys – “Sun”

Jacuzzi Boys have struck out on their own with a new EP and its thick with garage fumes. The same sense of off-kilter fun that’s always pervaded a back catalog full of quirks and hooks remains, especially on the bounce of the title track “Happy Damage”. Elsewhere the band rolls the guitars in gravel and toughens their knuckles against a storm of amplifier heat. Its a quick six shot but the Boys have never been known to linger long and there’s more than enough here to sink into. Its playlist fodder for sure but well worth the full spin over and over. Brief or no, I’m just happy to have ’em back.

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Death By Unga Bunga “Tell Me Why”

Clean running garage from Norwegians Death by Unga Bunga. The band runs through the full gamut of 60’s flecked, power knocked, charged up garage pop and they do it quite well, lodging more than their fair share of hooks in your head in the process. Its been a while since they’ve had an album proper so this two tracker (six if you grab it digitally) will have to tide the world over until a new one is on the way. The bonus cuts on the longer version all simmer with similarly jangled and bouncy beats. There’s a distinct lack of grit here but not all garage needs to be gnarled and wrapped in shredded denim. Every once in a while the sun beams cracking through the Northern European clouds should be enough to make you smile. Plenty to love here.

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Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp

The second matchup between these two purveyors of experimental headspace proves that there’s some definite aural chemistry between the pair. This time the two brought their collaborations together quicker, recording over a weekend at the shore rather than a full year of tinkering. The result doesn’t sound rushed, rather it crackles with the kind of excitement that’s born out of two minds bouncing off of one another. The first track rushes headlong into electronics, but its squelchy tones prove the exception on the album as the rest settles into the sand of strums and slides of guitar with just the setting sun of hum weaving throughout. Truthfully this does sound like a thoughtfully composed record, especially songs like standout “Long Beach Idyll” and the meditative crunch of “Alternator.” Then they tie it all together with a ten-minute workout of rippling, hypnotic strum that melts like last days of summer.

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