Posts Tagged ‘Cardinal Fuzz’

Dire Wolves (Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band)

It’s been a hell of a year for Dire Wolves. The bi-coastal psych slayers have been on an endless tear for over a decade, but some of their best moments have coalesced in between 2018 and the present. Flow and Heady comes close on the heels of the vinyl pressing for their tour-only I Just Wasn’t Made For These Set Times and in an almost tandem issue with another live to tape recording, Knee Deep In the Buchla on Stoned To Death. The latter is from the same tour just shifting the focus from Copenhagen to Prague. There’s a rash of live recordings within the cosmic sphere of late, but with the Wolves in particular, being in the room isn’t just a matter of experiencing one of their studio records flung far and wide. Often as the lineups mutate and the song matter evolves, certain shows can contain the only true version of a song. A pair of hungry mics picking up the delirium to be experienced outside of the walls that were doused in the electric sweat of the moment is a reason to be thankful indeed.

Flow and Heady takes place, as I mentioned, in Copenhagen. In particular it was recorded for their appearance at Festival Of Endless Gratitude. The festival is a freeform, psych-folk gathering that pulled Jandek and Lau Nau alongside the Wolves and a good crossection of Scandinavian psychedelic collectives. Already primed for elevated vibes, the festival appearance divined a transcendent set out of Dire Wolves. Covering ground not previously explored by the band in existing recordings, this is an aura that can’t necessarily be replicated by conventional means. Not that the Wolves mean to use anything conventional. On this tour the band connected with Nik Rayne of The Myrrors (guitar and clarinet) and Scottish player Bell Lungs (violin, voice and bird calls) who both add an extra dimension to the European dates and their presence is felt deeply threaded through the set.

The album is anchored heavily by the title track which takes up a good portion of the first side — pairing the band’s freeform wander with an expanded guitar interplay and ululating vocals from Bell. The song hangs on their own particular ether and soaks in the damp humors of the humid atmosphere. They roll out of it with something of a ritual or incantation before pumping the calm out of the room for a tangled mass of distortion and woven wicker lines set ablaze in the Copenhagen sun. “Dr. Esperanto” closes out the set with a combination of the two — guitars still smoldering from the previous outing, but laced with Bell’s violin and a haunting bout of vocal apparitions. If you’ve stuck around here long enough, then chances are you’re already following the band’s releases with perked ears, but for any newcomers to the Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band, this is as inviting a portal inward as any. Bonus: All come with bonus Download Content featuring 2 extra concerts (Die Friese – Bremen – 6th September and Rhiz – Vienna – 9th September)



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Banshee

In an age that bubbles under with rage, someone needs to tap the crack that breaks the damn. The floodwaters don’t always have to be righteous, sometimes they just need to be cathartic. That’s where Boston’s Banshee come in. Livin’ In The Jungle lets the chaos of the current free with the kind of wild abandon that feels counterintuitive of late. The band are huffing the exhaust from the sinewy side of the ‘70s. Their new LP for Feeding Tube/Cardinal Fuzz is knuckle beaten by the animal instincts of The Stooges, The Deviants, and Dead Boys, but they don’t stay down in the dirt for the entirety of their trip. While a primal thrum is at their core, the band stripes the record with a psychedelic smoke that winds itself around these chiseled rhythms. On “Dawn of Man” the band pounds a glam-stomped beat that reverberates to the bone, but they lace it up with ecstatic strings and narcotic gang vocals. In that regard, they take a good couple of swigs off the hippie hell raiser brand that Hawkwind and The Pink Fairies used to stoke their fires.

Beset with howls and the squalls of horns competing to crack the senses, “Savage Man” is hot to the touch, but the band are pretty quick to inject a good ounce of dry ice dampness elsewhere. Biker-psych isn’t a genre that gets too much love these days, and when it does its never with this level of self-awareness and swagger. Simmer the releases of Hoover III and Zig Zags down to their bits and bottle ‘em and its a brew coming close to what Banshee have concocted. The band aren’t afraid to mix their psychedelic metaphors and I respect that. They’re perfectly happy to dip their throat-shredded ozone burners in the mayfair trappings of hippiedom and it works so well. This one has all the earmarks of a record that’s going to get slept on, so I’m urging you not to be among the poor souls left behind. Crack the windows and let this one echo off the second stories around you.



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Waterless Hills

Manchester’s Waterless Hills lay an absolute gem on us, quietly eking out an eerily calm eddy of prog from under the scarred English skies. The group, which features previous Feeding Tube alum C Joynes on guitar and Dan Bridgeood-Hill on violin (Irma Vep, Charles Hayward), trades in a dark strain of folk that wanders the streets at dusk and wanders states of reality after that sun finally sets. There’s an outworld quality to the songs of The Great Mountain, and as much as that title conjures up visions of Jodorowsky’s nightmare wonders, the band makes good on them with aural imagery that’s as tarnished by ash, sand, and soil as his films. The record is dried by the sun — scorched, leathered, and laid bare — and in many moments that simmers from the speakers there’s a feeling of palpable sweat seeping through the songs. It’s not constant, though, there’s the respite of dusk and the cool ripples of clean water tumbling through natural cut rock in the bones here as well.

The guitars chime and bend, roll and ramble. The drums crash and skitter with a malevolent force and all the while that violin drags us to our feet time and time again to take the journey to the mountain on the mantle. The journey is the through line and we, as listeners, arrive changed certainly, but not exhausted. Instead there’s an elation, an unplaceable euphoria humming through the invisible wires of Waterless Hills’ offering to the endless horizon. Aside from a lone lathe cut sourced from the same sessions this is the band’s only output, but here’s hoping its not the last. The record finds its home here in the states on Feeding Tube and abroad in the arms of Cardinal Fuzz. Best grab one of these because neither of those labels has a tendency to let record sit idle in their bins.



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Dire Wolves – “Flow and Heady > By The Fireside”

Brand new heady jammer from Dire Wolves is up today and heralding a live release split between Feeding Tube and Cardinal Fuzz. The set was recorded live at the Festival of Endless Gratitude in Copenhagen last year and presents the band in full shamanic glory. The opener “Flow and Heady > By The Fireside” plunges straight into the heart of the beast, clawing through the psychedelic ephemera like only Dire Wolves could. Alexander’s guitars are as hooked into the ether as ever and as would be expected the track is doused in a swirling interplay between violin and voice that’s disorienting and delightful. The band has had an unstoppable couple of years and this LP shows no signs of stopping their roll. The LP lands on the tables April 17th. Definitely get in the running for one of these limited pressers.



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Hôpital De La Conception feat. Junk Nurse

A head-scratcher of a platter from a triumvirate of labels (Feeding Tube/Cardinal Fuzz/Opaque Dynamo) births the mysterious debut and sole artifact from France’s Hôpital De La Conception. The record is swift to note that it features Junk Nurse, but he seems to be the only avatar piloting this thing through the blooze swamp foot stomp anyhow. The record is ripped and ragged – zeroed in on an Earth’s core riff that drills down to the very kernel of psychic consciousness. There’s a dogged locomotive rhythm to the record, constantly chuggin’ through the smoke curls and feedback flutter. That hypnotic heave anchors “The Electric Rockin’ Chair” to the concrete so that it doesn’t get flayed clean by the storm swirling about it. The Junk Nurse doesn’t relent, plowing this one through a “Sister Ray” / Don Van Vliet vortex caked with noise and cursed to rumble for all days.

The album’s just the one song – flip it and it starts chuggin’ all over again like a lost soul condemned to scream sonic fury for all time. If this is Dante’s soundtrack to scuzz, then when the fury kicks up, the Nurse has you hitting your head on every wrung of the inferno before laying limp on the floor and begging for no more volume. The Hôpital and Junk Nurse hear your plea and turn the thumb down. The riff will rage and you will be inflamed with the body buzz of chooglin’ fury once more. Into the abyss, let it lock down and linger. That’s what I say. Now as for all the mystery, shadows and riddles about who’s behind this opus of guitar offal. I don’t know about you, but the possibility that the only other record to come out on France’s Opaque Dynamo is from GR (aka Gunslingers’ Gregory Raimo) makes this one a very good bet. Who knows who the Nurse serves but if its outta that camp, I’d put my money on it being a necessary pickup.




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Curved Entrances – “Inscribe In Night”

Phoenix’ transcendental psych collective The Myrrors have birthed a new offshoot this year (two actually, but just gonna focus on the one for now). Guitarist Nik Rayne and drummer Grant Beyschau have drawn in The Night Collectors’ Connor Gallaher to form a trio that boasts similar vibes to their own brand of sweat lodge psychedelics. Gone is the sawed violin, though and instead the band locks into the séance slithers of deep-set drone – meditative, monolithic, and ultimately boiled into a guitar maelstrom that’s slipped out of time and into a zone beyond what they’re laying down in their flagship band. The first release as Curved Entrances offers up two side-long runs of improv insanity in extremely limited runs from Carinal Fuzz. Check the five-ton freakout “Inscribe In Night” below and snag one of the remaining LPs while you can.



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Prana Crafter Reissues MindStreamBlessing with Two Bonus Cuts

Last year Washington State psych-folk aficionado Will Sol entered best of lists here both at the halfway and year-end mark with two different albums under his Prana Crafter handle. Sol’s lush, earthen psych picked at traditions from Popul Vuh, Träd, Gräs & Stenar, Amon Düül II, blending nimble picking with the meditative thrum of drone. Bodhi Cheetah’s Choice was a welcome surprise full of burrowed forest psych, that was just edged out in the final run by the cinematic swirl of Enter The Stream. The latter album also marked the artist’s first foray out of the tape and CD-r formats for a vinyl run that served as a fitting canvas for Sol’s humid, haunted fare. However, Sol had quite a few gems in his catalog prior to his breakout year. 2017’s MindStreamBlessing was just such a gem, issued in a short run on the always entrancing Eiderdown Records. Now the label, in a joint release with Cardinal Fuzz, is issuing the album on LP with reformatted artwork and two bonus cuts.

The new material sits expertly alongside the originals, with “FingersFlowThroughOlkSkokRiver” lapping at the banks of the Psylocibin pond once more. Sol admits that he was immersed heavily in Sandy Bull at the time of its recording and as such he asserts that it “left its energetic imprint on that piece.” The song shares Bull’s penchant for rippling, circular playing, pushing against the circadian buzz of drone below. The new issue will be available in March from both labels in both black and limited green/pink colorways. Check out both of the bonus track below.

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Trimdon Grange Explosion

Forming in the wake of The Eighteenth Day of May, Trimdon Grange Explosion is an extension of the previous band’s psychedelic folk while also embracing heavier modal impulses that had only begun to pop up in within the members’ previous form. The band drags their hands through the waters pooled by Pentangle, Fairport Convention and John Martyn and pulls off the likeness well, but they’re not simply and exercise in revivalist nostalgia. Like contemporaries Espers or White Magic, the band also embraces the less Anglo influences that have cropped up since dark folk was the vogue in ‘’69. Within traditional structures on ballads like “The Bonnie Banks of Fordie,” the band embraces the sawing yawp of John Cale’s string sounds and the slight wobble that underpins The Incredible String Band.

There’s another shade that pops up on Trimdon’s debut, though, and it’s a woven strand of indie that’s not just a hangover from the Espers/White Magic connection, but hews closer to perhaps Vetiver in its approach. On “Christian’s Silver Hell” and “Heading For a Fall” the band keeps the fuzz, clangor, and atmosphere, but when Alison Cotton is away from the mic and Ben Philips picks up vocal duties the band adopts a bit of a lighter tone. They work the duality well, with Cotton letting the heavy mantle of murder balladeer billow her sails and steel her gaze and Philips providing the sobering shelter from her storm.

There’s something inviting about the darker strains of folk, subverting the form from storytime revelry to strombringing omens, but too much gloom drags the swimmer under the tide for good. Trimdon create a vital symbiosis between blood and bone – the paralysis of mourning and the steadfast necessity of travelling on at all costs. There’s a stately grace to their eponymous album that picks up the yoke from their former band without being beholden to it. Rooted in the ash and dirt, the band are steadily seeding the clouds to bring on a deluge of hurt and relief to eventually wipe it all clean.




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Mt. Mountain

The good folks at Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud are sneaking a few more releases in here at the end of the year before 2018 collapses to a close. In the spirit of good things coming to those who wait, Perth’s Mt. Mountain offer up another drone-psych crusher with their third LP, Golden Rise. While their debut LP, Cosmos Terros was solid, the band truly came into their own on last year’s Dust, a record that paired their sparse menace with some impressive track lengths to great effect. While they don’t embrace the sidelong crusher as readily this time around, they bring the same sense of lysergic lilt and barren isolation, amping up the desert psych desperation and diving once more into the tectonic build of patient sonic destruction.

The patience is, perhaps, what sets Mt Mountain apart. They’re equipped with the tools to level a levee or two with gargantuan guitar fury, but they wisely let their unease simmer here instead. Many can light the wick and let the fuzz do all the work, but Mt. Mountain are working well with the texture of anticipation. On the previous effort that patience took place over the course of the titanic title track, but here the band are content to let the interplay between the ten tracks ebb, flow, and ease the listener into a meditative smolder.

On tracks, “Acceleration” and “Open Door” the band glows with an internal heat, steaming from every pore like a distance runner knelt down in the snow. They never let the heat hatch, though, keeping it coddled close to the heart and perennially pulsing. While the record never truly blossoms into the kind of maelstrom that listeners might be expecting, Golden Rise is far from boring. In fact, as that title might suggest, the record mirrors the slow euphoric slip into amber daylight that comes after a long night awake. Like fellow psych travelers Wooden Shjips have this year, they embrace the chaotic antidote and let the mellower side rule the day. I, for one, could use a good melt now and again.



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The Radiation Flowers

Straddling the nebulous line between shoegaze and psych-pop, Saskatoon’s Radiation Flowers bathe in the warm amplifier glow of Spacemen 3 if they’d been playing split singles with Galaxie 500. Summer Loop, the band’s latest offering feels like it might stop vibrating about three minutes after the needle comes to a rest. The album is draped in a shimmer of lush production that sets Shelby Gaudet’s vocals in a languid landscape well suited to her dream-smeared delivery. They kick the switch nicely between gauzy float and a snakebite flash of fuzz that rears its head on heavier tracks, though, this is an album primarily about setting a narcotic mood. Far from an ardent dynamic shifter, Summer Loop is more concerned with laying the listener into froth than taking a good layer of skin off in the process.

The grooves stretch out, feeling around sonic fjords for hand holds in the rippling darkness, proving the band is more than just effects draped over drones. They make a case that they can hang with the Space-rock contingent on “Summer of Burnout,” a swirling instrumental that takes time to build out aural plateaus that run on par with some of this year’s other great psych records, including labelmates Mt. Mountain. Cardinal Fuzz has made its case as a well of psych inspiration and Radiation Flowers fit the bill nicely, up an comers with the right records on their shelves and some room to grow into themselves.


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