The Bats – “Antlers”

Five years on from their last foray back into jangle-pop’s halls, The Bats return with a new cut from their upcoming ninth LP, The Deep Set. The song’s got all the hallmarks of a classic Bats tune; low-swung rhythm, the scratch-sway jangle melting with chiming chords, and Robert Scott crooning over the whole affair, demanding your rapt attention. For most bands this far out into their career its hard to make your sound relevant, without seeming dated or gimmicky. In The Bats’ case the fact that the world finally turned its head to the right angle to hear New Zealand’s sound as a widespread influence helps this cut feel like it may well have come from any number of worthy followers. though the magic is that none of them could quite find the timelessness that Scott and The Bats conjure. “Antlers” feels like its always existed, waiting in a pile of classic tunes to hit you right in the ennui center of the soul. Quite like their contemporaries The Chills, they pick right up where they left off and prove that perhaps people should have been paying more attention all along.

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Daniel Bachman

Bachman’s been a fixture among the acoustic fingerpicked set that courts both experimental interest and highbrow acclaim. Littering labels like Tompkins Square, Feeding Tube, Bathetic and Three Lobed, the young guitarist rose to acclaim pretty quickly, settling him in as an NPR pick and slotting him alongside names like Jack Rose and Richard Bishop in conversations on American Folk prosperity. All that baggage comes along nicely in tow with his latest, eponymous album, but Bachman lets none of it define him or his music. He’s not a wunderkind, Terry Gross talking point or cassette fetishist secret, Bachman’s got the soul of American folk and Southern slide blues stamped under his skin. Like Rose, he plays with a touch that’s both intense and surprisingly nuanced, and that touch is front and center on the songs that occupy this self-titled LP.

Though Rose may only be a more modern comparison, Bachman has certainly spent his time in the halls of the Fahey school and picked up his penchant for pacing and his bone dry ambience, which lends a definite heft to the album. Elsewhere he’s picked up certain amounts of Robbie Basho’s flourish and Peter Walker’s delicacy. Though unlike either of those, Bachman never strays into straight raga. He’s certainly digested plenty of it, but what sets Bachman apart is that he nips complimentary bits from drone, folk, blues and raga and lets them all hang together into a heatwave baked concoction of low plains blues that finds itself reveling in solitude. He taps into the desolate desperation of Appalachia and the edgy intensity of Southern folk-blues and he crafts an album that fully supports his wave of early plaudits. On Daniel Bachman, he’s established himself as a master of his instrument and as a name that’s welcome to sit solidly alongside those touchstones that likely gave him inspiration.



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Ty Segall – New Album / Single

I’d be remiss not to mention that the ever prolific Segall is embarking on yet another album, this one slated for early 2017. The album brings along many, though not all of the players who acted as The Muggers. Sadly missed are King Tuff and Cory Hanson, but he keeps the core of Emmett Kelley, Mikal Cronin and Charles Moothart in tact. There’s mention of some riffs that rival Slaughterhouse, but none are on display in the album’s first taste, “Orange Color Queen.” The track pulls its inspiration from a more languid side of pop folk that swims in plenty of sunset hues, driving to a stately close that’s pushing the sound much closer to Manipulator’s composed and collected odes than Emotional Mugger’s jittery fray. I’d expect any year to have no less than three albums related to Segall, John Dwyer and King Gizzard. Already got two of those boxes ticked and counting so 2017 is off running right (at least musically).


Elsewhere, Segall also slipped out a sly split single with Loch Lomond on the Dutch label Wet Bridge. The two artists each tackle a Harry Nilsson cover and Segall adds some itching weirdness to Nilsson’s “Gotta Get Up.” The man’s always had a knack for finding himself in covers and this is no different. Its a very fizzy take on the classic Schmilsson opener and works nicely as a pairing with the new track. The split single was available as a tour item but there’s still some left for lucky discoger’s out there.


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Outer Space

Its been since 2014 that John Elliot and Drew Veres last released a record under the Outer Space name and its quite nice to have them back. The last year is proving to be a good one for the former members of Emeralds and perhaps in its own way the band is releasing a Voltron-like assemblege of works that form a vortex of calm, radiant vibes. Perhaps that’s too hopeful, but Gemini Suite is Elliot and Veres in top form, embracing more of the ambient waves of their output and letting the Kosmiche impulses temper a bit. It sits nicely alongside his former bandmates’ output, Steve Hauschildt’s synth tangle Strands and Mark McGuire’s Cool Cloudscapes of The Four Directions vol. I .

The record is one long piece, split onto two sides, building slow and steady as an Eno arc and just as languid. The suite embraces the nature sounds stock footage of the ’70s meditation boom and pins the lap of waves and chirp of birds to some choice synth tones that never jostle, jolt or jiggle the listener. The best ambient albums attempt to remove the listener from their own environment and build a new one. Gemini Suite builds a world and then soundtracks it with a bit of retro-futurist bubble, feeling like the sanitized but tranquil worlds built by Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry, calm and full of wonder. Its an album that soothes whatever pain, hurt or fear may be lurking, temporarily at least, but then again who couldn’t use a thirty minute vacation from the last year or so. It may not be close to a cure, but its a salve and that’s a place to start.


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Whores.

I was sorely missing out on Whores. until a friend tipped me to their last EP, Clean., which was an acerbic, taut blast of metal that tore through the AmRep soundbook, picking up cues cinched down to the block cut design of the sleeves. The band has an obvious affinity for Jesus Lizard, Melvins and Helmet style riffs with little room for flourish and an intent to pummel the listener within an inch of their life. They continue the legacy laid out on their EPs with, Gold, their debut LP proper. The record was, in fact, produced by Ryan Boesch who has helmed releases for both Helmet and The Melvins, so they’re not missing a beat on the completeness of their heart-on-sleeve influences. But the band is more than just a welcome trip back to ’90s glory days of heat-fused amp rippers and sensible black check flannel. They’re pulling from a wave that knew how to fold the non-metalhead into a show and let them loose. Back when grunge and metal bedded down in the same venues, there was room for both Nirvana and Metallica fans in the Corrosion of Conformity pits. Gold feels like a page out of this egalitarian mosh meeting.

Just like the aforementioned touchstones (Helmet, Jesus Liz, etc), the band’s strength lies in the ability to craft light and heat into catchy bits that knock you flat on your ass, then won’t let your brain shank the riffs for the next 24 hours. There’s something about the grunge grind of catchy but crunchy metal that’s got a timeless feel to it, like it always just existed to run an engine of thrash on a tall boy of King Cobra, primed, pumped and dumped into a Kelly green Camaro on an endless stretch of highway. Gold pulls not a single punch and there’s no note wasted in its tight set of ten songs. They’re economical but efficient, that’s for certain. The band kicks hard to the sternum with each new song, and thankfully, along with their crisp delivery, they eschew many of metal’s trappings of angst, excess or self-importance. Anger they’ve got, intensity, you bet, and they dole it out with the skill of a welder fusing iron beams to support a massive weight. Gold delivers on the promise the band’s been making with live shows and short form releases for the past few years and if you’ve been missing out on the heavier side of things until now or need a reason to scream it out this week, this might be a perfect point to dive back in.


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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Rattlesnake”

Ah man King Gizz, you’re killing me – not just in the wallet, but with shelf space as well. Soon, I imagine there may well be a shelf in my house that contains only the works of King Gizz, Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, each of their catalogs expanding at a rate that seems untenable by any human measuremnts. As for the Gizz, they’re announcing their ninth album, Flying Microtonal Banana to be released in February. The album, which is an excercise in using only instruments tuned to a non-western microtonal scale, is set to be the first of five(!) albums out in 2017 from the band. Like I said, its getting hard to harness all this psych on one solid shelf. The video for Rattlesnake, and album cover, naturally arrives via band designer Jason Galea, subject of a recent Design Inspiration feature here on the site. Expect the usual computer doused wonderlands and neon-torched imagery backed up by the band’s motorik chugging, now with an Eastern bent and a dose of Turkish Zurna for good measure.

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Cory Hanson

Wand showed a portion of their soft underbelly on their last LP, 1000 Days. They still employed the growl of explosive guitar but sketched out more texture, filling the sound space with plenty of new shades and shadows. Swooning strings and buzzing keys smashed into walls of echo. They flirted with psych-folk but still sat pretty solidly in the fuzz-psych camp they’d been born out of. Its clear, though, that the band’s Cory Hanson had a big part in that textural shift, and that he had more in him. Taking a solo departure from his bandmates, Hanson strips the sound all the way back and sets the incense aglow for a wander into psych-folk proper, though a strain that leans in on the orchestral cues he’d seem to favor previously. Those strings are brought to life by Heather Lockie, who has previously played with Spiritualized, Eels, Sparkelhorse and Love. Her arrangements take what could be just a folk diversion and push it into a lovely bit of bittersweet pop.

The tone on The Unborn Capitalist In Limbo is wistful at its lightest and downright mournful for the majority of the record. Hanson draws from a wealth of folk artists that found their muse in the rain splashed territory between heartbreak and utter depression. There are touches of Roy Harper, Bill Fay, Nick Drake, Donovan (at his most wistful) and even Al Stewart in the batch of songs that Hanson has put together and he’s working towards the kind of gutwrench with a shiny wrapper that those artists excelled at putting together. Whether this side of Hanson remains dominant, ekes its way further into Wand or stands as a single album impulse remains to be seen. But in embracing the sweep of sadness, he’s left a document of heartfelt ennui that shakes off saccharine for a lasting impression of sighed resolve that helps to lessen the lump in your throat.



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James Hoare on East Village – Drop Out

For the latest installment of Hidden Gems I asked James Hoare (of Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls, Permanent Ornaments) to pick a lost piece of his personal music landscape. As always, Hidden Gems is based on the idea of those records that are found along the way in life that you can’t believe you never heard about, the ones that just blow you away on first listen and seem like such a find. They’re the kind of records that get left out of all the essential decade lists and 1001 records you need to hear before you die type of listicle… the ones that truly got away. For this installment in the series James picked overlooked UK jangle gem Drop Out from East Village. I asked James how this lovely record came into his life and what the record means to him.

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Nudity – Is God’s Creation

I wrote briefly yesterday about Portland psych flayers Nudity, and as luck would have it, there is a much needed retrospective of their work out now. Though, its already becoming as scarce as the source material. Nonetheless, this is a vital document of a band that’s been tearing the doors off of the Northwest for sometime. The band culls members of much loved, but short-lived garage band Tight Bros. From Way Back When (Dave Harvey and Dave Quitner), picking up some of the napalm guitar fallout of their output and injecting a heavy dose of Brian Jonestown style quiver n’ quake with a dash of sitar psych thrown in for good measure. The band knows how to work both the octane streaked psych-punk side of things while navigating some more languid moments of drop-out headspace as well, both of which find their space across this well packed retrospective.

The collection pulls together songs from the band’s 2006 eponymous, self-released CD-r plus tracks from the 2005 CD-r Winter In Red. Additional tracks are picked up from a 12″ on Discourage and a comp for Iron Lung, add in a few live unreleased gems, and this is one of the most complete documents of the band available anywhere. Though not recorded as a full length in scope, the record does a pretty good job of feeling like a full release, showing the band’s heavy power, aptitude for covers (Hawkwind’s “Hurry on Sundown” and Flower Travellin’ Band’s “Make-Up”) and shaggier Eastern influences without feeling cobbled together. Likely Nudity is a band that most are unfamiliar with, but at least there exists a document that they came, conquered a swath of psych and burned unbearably bright for a short amount of time.


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Feral Ohms – “Love Damage”

Honestly, most any news of Ethan Miller’s involvement in a band is welcome and usually met with quality psych of some sort. Stepping away from the more seasoned and softened work he’d been pursuing with Howlin’ Rain and perhaps as an extension of his burnt, though somewhat psych-folk leaning work with Heron Oblivion, Miller has a new project on the rise that he’s introducing with a Castle Face live LP. Feral Ohms is comprised of Miller, Chris Johnson (Drunk Horse, Andy Human and the Reptoids) and Josh Haynes (of epic Olympia, WA rockers Nudity). The riffs on the live LP are ten feet tall, covered in fuzz and shot through with the unhinged spirit that made early Comets On Fire such a joy. Live is obviously a comfortable place for the trio but if this is just the first taste, I’m eager to see how they translate this to a proper record, which is in fact slated for release on Miller’s own Silver Current label in 2017. But first, melt as many faces as possible with the ten ton sumo gut punch of “Love Damage.”

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