Black Mountain – “Florian Saucer Attack”

The first taste from Black Mountain’s new LP IV was a dirgey bit of bleak prog that felt as heavy as their namesake, but they froth it up on this new track. Its heavily lead by Amber Webber’s vocals and pulsing along on a real late Hawkwind vibe that’s full on carbon exhaust chugging with a smattering of syth stabs for good measure. Everything in this album feels like the band is really embracing their Prog membership club status and for the record, I couldn’t be happier to see the band go full Tarkus.

The accompanying video is lent a hand by Chad Van Gaalen as animator and director and his style and content here seem to be drawing on some real Rick and Morty vibes. Again, not something I’d ever complain about. I can’t believe its been almost six years since the band had an album proper but with these tastes, I’m looking forward to it.

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EZTV & Nic Hessler – “Buy This Record”

While I can always use any reason to love a good power pop cover, combining one of RSTB’s favorites from the present (EZTV) and the past (Milk ‘n Cookies) pretty much tops the list. For those who aren’t versed, Milk ‘n Cookies were probably one of the softest punches that power pop ever pulled and their dreamy-eyed debut is a classic in its own right that’s now getting yet another life from the folks at Captured Tracks. Well technically they gave it a new life a few years back on the sorely missed Radio Heartbeat imprint, but same owners different name on the delivery here. The CT issue is expanded with some extras but what you need is the main course anyhow and its a record that should be in all hands, not just us power pop nerds.

Anyohow, in honor of that release, and probably to shine a bigger light on its necessity, Captured Tracks is also issuing a Record Store Day single of labelmates EZTV and Nic Hessler covering the band’s shoulda-been-classic “Buy This Record”. Personally I’d have gone for a cover of “Typically Teenage” but any Milk ‘n Cookies is good Milk n’ Cookies and the pair up works well to capture the track’s fizzy fun. Can’t pick the single up until the insanity of RSD but you can grab the Milk ‘n Cookies box now, and you should if you know what’s good for you.



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The Goon Sax

Chapter Music pull in the youth vote with a trio of younguns from Brisbane’s The Goon Sax. The band’s ages average around 17-18 and though they seem to have absorbed en masse the jangle-pop paradigm, they still know how to keep things juvenile, in the best ways, of course. The songs on Up To Anything capture the raw nerve and jittery emotions of teenage life like a quickly snapped cell phone photo that’s candid and revelatory at the same time. The kinds of pictures that find one person staring at another longingly and a second person persistently distracted by the distance or dissonance. They pin the modern onto the universal, passing tales of anxiety, shame, annoyance and home haircuts off with a style that’s eyeing the past but nevertheless a fairly easily digestible pop for the new class. Given that they’re capturing the emotions of the day through the perpetually doomed lens of teenage life, they know how to parlay to moping when the need arises, but the jangles keep those sentiments from grinding the listener down. This one’s got legs for sure and each new spin cracks a new grin or two from their humble but honest take. Chalk up another win for Chapter music and the South Hemi pop sound.





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Flowers

There are plenty who have embraced 80’s jangle as if it were the dominant paradigm of popular rock, with a zest that’s bordered on mission statement in some corners of Brooklyn and London. Flying Nun is held high. C86 is a bible. But to do it well, it can’t all just sound like a retread of greatest hits, and London’s Flowers have found that sweet spot between sounding like they could have lived alongside their influences and pushing the sounds of those legends a bit further. The band’s certainly versed, setup with the prerequisite totems of their 80’s education, but they’ve taken swooning pop, light ‘n sweet jangles and the fuzz-bitten layers of guitar and stacked them into the shape of a future classic.

I wrote about a Flowers lathe way back in 2012 and its hard to believe this could be the same band. They hit all the right marks to make a record that feels like its been sitting, just waiting to be found all along. Everybody’s Dying To Meet You sounds like its soundtracked a thousand heartaches before it ever reached my ears and now its here to wrap a comforting arm around the speakers and nod comfortingly. There’s an art to making a timeless record, and after finding myself playing this almost unconsciously day after day, it really feels like its got the hallmarks. Something about Rachel Kennedy’s vocals just hit home like a pang of nostalgia cramped into the pit of the stomach that aches sweetly, like having a crush on the past. They put the extra scoop of authenticity on the record by enlisting Brian O’Shaughnessey (The Clientele, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine) on production duties. He’s pushed the band into the mold they seemed destined to inhabit all these years. This one is topping out my list of 2016 obsessions.





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Anna Homler and Steve Moshier – Breadwoman & Other Tales

Strange origins and stranger sounds come from the grooves of Breadwoman. Homler was a student of performance art and while on a trip through California the artist conceived of the character of Breadwoman, concocting a language of chants that seem so close to real tongues its hard not to believe Homler’s tales of divining an ancient language and acting as a vessel for the spirit of Breadwoman, a woman so old she’s turned to bread. Homler recorded her chants to handheld cassette and eventually found a musical patner in Steve Moshier, a fellow experimental traveler and member of avant-garde chamber ensemble Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra.

Moshier took the transcriptions of Homler’s chants and composed a musical landscape for them that fit their loose cosmic nature. The results of these two halves of Breadwoman & Other Tales is a light source beamed in from space, sounding unearthed from an ancient civilization that’s left these recordings as a track record of their time here. For her part, Homler succeeds wildly in making Breadwoman feel like a real spirit, and with the help of Moshier’s analog inventiveness, her story crawls into the realm of psychedelic classics that have to be experience to be believed.



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Doug Tuttle – “A Place For You”

MMOSS’ Doug Tuttle is finding his way down the path of psych-pop apologist on his second album for Trouble in Mind. Much like fellow labelmates Morgan Delt and Paperhead, he’s dug squarely into the Paisley Underground, sounding like a modern upgrade of their 60’s pop worship, though that in no way diminishes his knack for a great hook and songs that pair well with wide sunny skies. In an effervescent new video for “A Place For You” the artist pairs balloons with projections for a fun, yet really simple idea. The track jangles its way through two and a quarter minutes of sun-dappled strums and that kind of faded Fuji-film nostalgia that takes you back every time. Tuttle’s latest LP It Calls On Me has plenty more in store for jangle freaks and its recommended that you dive in further.


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Chicos de Nazca

Chilean Psych is becoming a real genre these days, not quite on par with their Japanese or Swedish counterparts, but coming on pretty strong indeed with bands like Holydrug Couple, Föllakzoid and La Hell Gang acting as chief exports for their country’s psychedelic set. Chicos de Nazca have spun off from members’ previous outfit Cindy Sisters to form a heavier, headier brand of clouded and shrouded psych warfare. The record lays down a huge offering at the altar of Spacemen 3 and perhaps a few tithings at the table of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but they seem to find space to take that sound and make it their own. It doesn’t hurt that the riffs are as thick as truck exhaust and almost as poisonous, powering through with a storming wall of sound that buries most everything in its path. The record comes on quick and flashes its blade pretty much from the outset, tumbling into a fight to fit as much sound as possible into the bounds of its fat black plastic cage. Definitely a record that’s seemed to get lost in the last couple of months of releases but one worth taking some time to head back in for a few more listens.

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Burnt Palms

San Francisco’s Burnt Palms power through fuzz blasted bits of summer fun and surf-freckled fizz on their third album. Embracing the full scope of indie pop via the C86 meets Elephant 6 model, the band take it one step further by enlisting actual Elephant 6 member Gary Olson of Ladybug Transistor on mastering duties. That’s what I call commitment to concept and a pretty good endorsement of the band’s breakneck fuzzpop prowess. They’re not wrong to call out All Girl Summer Fun Band as a touchstone for where they were aiming. They hit pretty square on that target. The record is a candied blast of energy in every minute, bouncing with the vigor of a hopped up 10-year old through sunny songs that often have a sour heart, crafting that sweet n’ sad brew that’s never an unwelcome formula. In general this is just a top down bit of fun that’s easy on the ears and meant to be loud on the speakers; girl group veneer over a flame of punk coals.




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Jozef Van Wissem

For a lutenist, Van Wissem has made a pretty sizeable dent into experimental and indie circles. Maybe its because he pals around with Jim Jarmusch and Zola Jesus. The former he’s collaborated with plenty in the past, even winning a Cannes film award for his work on the score to Only Lovers Left Alive. The latter appears here, fleshing out his sparse compositions with her own spectral haunt. But maybe its because Van Wissem’s work holds a lonesome power that draws collaborators like these in. His past works have painted with solemn, yet slightly intricate strokes, classical in feeling but not stuffy. He’s felt like the art history buff trying to open up his classmates to the wonders of 15th century without getting overly condescending about it.

On When Shall This Bright Day Begin he definitely clips a few notes from his work with Jarmusch. The pair’s collaborative albums draw in a lot of noise elements and drink from a well of experimentation. For this outing thoug, Van Wissem keeps the noise at bay but dips into some borrowed cinematic scope; Zola Jesus opening the album with a disembodied, ambient float over his plucks, vocal samples crackling against sepia toned stringwork and his own vocal arrangements pounding like mantras. Its when he lets the lute sing alone though that the album’s at its strongest. The recording is unencumbered, each note smacking into that pang of regret in your stomach like a steadied blow. Though to be fair, the second collaboration here with Zola Jesus is as hair raising as anything either have done, finding both parties reaching towards their inner goth hearts to make a track that’s infinitely absorbing. This album sounds like Van Wissem has finally found his stride and is so comfortable with his instrument that he makes his pangs our pangs and its easy to thank him for it.





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Beach Skulls – “Santa Fe”

Ok so appending the Beach qualifier to your band name is officially past its prime, to the point that its just getting silly and for lack of a better word, distracting. There have to be some good band names out there, right? That aside, I’m not one to toss a track just because the band name grates me like no other. UK trio Beach Skulls have definitely been mainlining a heavy dose of Velvets here, but a bit of this track’s charm is that it feels like the band could give two fucks if you think they sound derivative. In fact this track seems so completely relaxed its hard to believe their singer could have been completely upright when he turned in this performance. “Santa Fe” is a prime slice of smoke ringed garage pop that feels like the last song that should play before you shuffle off home, harboring the kind of buzz that will stick with you the whole train ride home and sack you out peacefully once you reach it.


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