Purling Hiss – “Fever”

Purling Hiss have, no doubt, evolved over the past few years from szuzz-mining noise-psych purveyors to rock standard bearers. Though in their new role they may be clearer sounding than their blown cone fuzz days, they still have plenty of punch packed into their tightly wound riffs. With a heavy crunch and alt rock swagger, they blow the doors off for their latest album, High Bias, by hitting us with a single that’s reminiscent of Afghan Whigs shot through a high octane dose of Brian Jonestown’s amp runoff. The shouted background vocals are redlining in all the right ways and there’s a dirtiness to it that feels very Purling Hiss, but with its hair combed all nice seeing as they continue with the higher fidelity adopted on 2014’s Weirdon. Sounds like a good start to me. Always happy to hear some Hiss blowing through the speakers around here.



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Tomutonttu

Those with a hook into the early aughts psych-folk explosion (or freak folk if you’re nasty) will recognize the name Jan Anderzén, he being at the epicenter of Finnish noise folk and the main propulsion keeping Kemialliset Ystävät aloft all these years. Anderzén has also been one to wander from that main project along several tributaries, including Avarus, The Puke Eaters (with Chris Corsano), Tuusanuuskat and noise super(ish) group Way of The Cross. His new solo excursion as Tomutonttu finds him locked into solo groove territory; jagged and stumbling, writhing and chugging through clatter-syth lines that feel broken and nervy. The music here was commissioned by a festival based out of Anderzén’s hometown of Tampere and the results have an elemental dance to them, but divorced from the concept by eons and a barrier of cultural dissonance. The album has a feeling of alienness about it, but not so much that its not of this world, just that it feels like the dance of a culture that’s future leaning, tribal and not locked into a concept of pop.

Anderzén’s writing isn’t as chaotic as his work with Kemialliset Ystävät, there’s a direction here and each track feels like its not quite as apt to fall apart at the seams. The works are blinking in sequence and finding their way along in neon plots through a murk that’s palpable and as the record wears on it seems that the focus comes clearer into view. By the close of Tarat there’s a clear propulsion of synth work that wouldn’t feel out of place on Tri Angle or Holodeck. The synth looks good on Anderzén and I hope that this commission isn’t just a lark. There’s more territory to be mined here for sure.

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Tamam Shud

As part of Anthology Recordings Surf Archives series, the label has reissued the first album / soundtrack from Tamam Shud. The band evolved from a previous incarnation as The Sunsets, who had also worked with director Paul Witzig on a few of his prior surf films. For Evolution, the band’s debut as Tamam Shud, they began a very new and different approach to soundtracking the film. Usually the films of the day would feature a combination of narration and music, but for Evolution the band had the film screened in the studio while they wrote the soundtrack live to film, creating free-form jams that matched the pace and pulse of the surf runs. In response, Witzig jettisoned any idea of narrating the film, letting the band’s music stand as the only comment needed to accompany his shots.

This combination of surf and art worked out to the advantage of both the filmmaker and the band. It catapulted Tamam Shud to a decent amount of recognition in Australia, beyond just the surf and hippy crowds, while bringing acclaim on the film as well. The band would go on to record a follow-up, also well-regarded in progressive circles, that featured newcomer Tim Gaze a young Aussie guitarist who’d become subsequently known for his work with fellow collector’s psych legends Kahvas Jute. The band would only last the two albums though, disbanding shortly after their second album. Anthology’s series focused on surf culture has brought to light some real psych essentials, reaching far beyond just the twang of Dick Dale and the American vision of what defines surf. They’re shining a nice light on a pocket of culture that influenced ’60s forms as much as skate would in the near future. If you haven’t delved in yet, Tamam Shud is a nice place to dip your toes in the water.


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Marielle V Jakobsons – “White Sparks”

An entrancing video from Marielle V Jakobsons of Date Palms, who blends synth float with her self-designed macro-cymatic instrument, which manipulates sound and light to create stunning visuals in water. The track is deeply hypnotic psych reminiscent of her work with Date Palms but expanding into an even more meditative state. She blends synth, violin, flute and bass with her own whispered vocal passages for state of calm that dips into cosmic territory, bending drones into subtle shape over the course of the track’s five minutes. Her album is out August 19th through Thrill Jockey and sounds like an absolute stunner.

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Ignatz

Bram Devens slides back home on Kraak for his fourth full length at the label while partnering up with the always venerable Feeding Tube for the US release. He’s come a long way over the years. Gone are the crusted electronics that marked his early works. Gone too are the tin can Americana blues of his 2013 work Can I Go Home Now?. There’s a bump in Devens’ fidelity, but that simply means that its a smoother ride, its by no means a crisp studio setting on The Drain, but then it wouldn’t really be Ignatz if it wasn’t wrapped some manner of midnight hiss. With the clarity comes a directness from Bevens that’s been lacking in his previous works. He’s always felt a bit confessional, but The Drain is a new depth for his songwriting. His guitar work comes through with the weight and gravitas of troubled folk bluesmen. There’s an unmistakable sadness to the record, haunted and hushed; given forth in his mumbled but pained delivery and the tangled fingerpicks that adorn the album.

Devens is indeed circling the drain, or so it would seem from the sounds of The Drain. Its almost impossible to really get into this album in the light of day. Its barely even a twilight record. Its a 1:30 AM, lawn chair in the backyard, single porchlight sporting a halo of fog type of record. If ever there was a record to soundtrack the reassessment of your life choices, this is that record. Its the most bare and honest record of the man’s career and though it sounds like terrible pain went into its creation, its output is beautiful and spare. Its the kind of record from an artist that you can say, “forget the rest of the catalog, for now just start here and sink in.”




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Frankie & The Witch Fingers – “Get Down”

I’ve already heaped praise on Frankie & The Witch Fingers’ sophomore LP, but anything worth saying is worth saying again. The clip for album standout “Get Down” mixes creepy laundromat antics, psychedelic substances and 80’s graffix for a mindblow video that’s fitted to melt your brain into goo. “Get Down” is probably one of the choicest cuts from the LP, drivin’ and sweatin’ and shot solid with a bass riff that’s primed to dance. If you haven’t picked it up, its gettin’ to be time. Its out today.

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The Writhing Squares

Philly duo The Writhing Squares is the brainchild of Kevin Nickles (Ecstatic Vision, Taiwan Housing Project) and Daniel Provenzano (Purling Hiss, Spacin’). The connection to Purling Hiss and Spacin’ feels on the money, though The Writhing Squares have a cleaner vision of the psychedelic expanse than Spacin’ and a much more motorik take than Purling Hiss usually indulge in. They muster creeping ambience and snowball it into a torn vortex of psychedelic stomp. At their best they’re conjuring up a Hawkwind obsessed Suicide tapping into the cosmic (or is that Kosmiche) well, while keeping the beats locked and pulsing. They beg the question, did Suicide always need more flute? Maybe so if it wound up floating into the sweet strains of lysergic lockstep “Astral Trane.”

They aren’t totally clipped into the Krautrock tag with any dogged devotion, though, opener “Unknown Drone” finds its way through the darkness in dirgey drones with space rock pockets popping up all over. They push into a no wave flutter that pairs easily with psychedelic grind on “Lava Suit” throwing their guitar growl to the wolves of a James Chance sax skronk that gives the track plenty of bite. The rest of the album doesn’t falter. There are no real weak spots. Provenzano and Nickles are the rare pair that know exactly the sounds they’re looking for and know just how to grind it into sonic sausage. Deeper listens bring more and more pockets of joy from In The Void Above and its been a while since someone took space rock on a worthwhile tour of complimentary vices in the last few years. Keeping this one locked on the stereo and the knob twisted up. Its a burner.




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Beautify Junkyards – Other Voices 08

Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards follow up last year’s psych-pop odyssey The Beast Shouted Love with a single for Ghost Box’s increasingly intriguing “Other Voices” series. The eighth installment sees the Portuguese band trading in their familiar brand of pastoral psych – burbling beats, whispery vocals, music box ambience – and its a perfect fit for Ghost Box’s layered roster. The single is strong on both sides, the A-side is a gorgeous sunset melt of plucks and swirling synths made for sliding off the remains of the day. The flip is by turns more nocturnal, a secret world of forest folk adorned with ornaments of subtle psychedelic nuance and a loping beat. Its easy to see how Ghost Box could pull this one close, and I’d be unsurprised to see a full length from the band arrive on the label sometime in the future. Its the kind of release that feels like it might already be in their ranks. Solid as ever, the label is still leading the pack in consistency of psychedelic oddities these days.




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Opposite Sex – “Oh Ivy”

Opposite Sex’s last album tapped into the jangle-pop past of their Dunedin roots, but they take things deeper on their sophomore release, Hamlet. “Oh Ivy” starts with the same basic ingredients that the band dipped from on their eponymous debut; post punk clatter and the lilting vocals of Lucy Hunter, but it quickly turns much darker than they’ve gone before. The tension is thick and the guitar slinks with a wild almost inebriated stumble. The song is up on its hackles within the first minute. Hunter’s vocals turn desperate, ravaged, pleading and accusing at the same time. The song slashes and crumples on itself and by the time the end draws near Hunter seems practically beside herself with longing and despair. Its the kind of post-punk that most who use the tag are not making. It wields noise, sheds any sense of self-consciousness and just lets the music embody ragged emotions, raw and nervy. The album is out in the band’s native New Zealand through the ever intriguing Melted Ice Cream Collective and here in The States from Dull Tools. From the sounds of this, its going to wipe any expectations that Opposite Sex set up completely off the table.



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Psychic Ills – “Baby”

I’ve sung plenty of praises on both Psychic Ills’ new album, Inner Journey Out and standout country psych jammer “Baby,” but pairing a perfectly hazy song with a faded, ’70s Urban Cowboy treatment warrants repeating how worth your time this one is. Jason Evans sums up the sweaty summer vibes and pent up “Gimme Shelter” simmer that the band have created on the song. He’s created characters that feel sympathetic and real, balancing their hope against the songs deep burn. Apparently this is only the first half as the video’s credits tease a part two to come. If you are still standing there, not owning this Ills record then I don’t know what else I can do to sway ya.

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