Posts Tagged ‘Castle Face’

Kedama – The Complete Collection

Castleface jumps into the reissue game with a damn treasure-trove of music from Swiss-German prog vets Kedama. They issue their ‘live in the studio” record, the aptly titled Live At Sunrise Studios alongside a wealth of material that never made it to wax. The debut was released in ’76, originally on the Sunrise label, which would notably release early recordings by Kleenex just a couple of years later. The debut was, rather admirably, recorded live in the studio with a binaural microphone and the band passed between different instruments in silence in an attempt to flesh out the record to a huge sound. The technique at the time was always a bit of a gimmick that only really takes shape in headphones (don’t tell Lou Reed), but having pulled it off as long takes its an impressive move.

The multi-movement “Finale” sees the band work their way from dense, smoke-thick riffs to concert-hall piano workouts. They find footing in the rhythm-heavy progressive textures that would befit their German roots coupled with a guitar flash and willingness to add technical piano in an era when most of their peers were leaning into early synth work (there are synths though as well). They up the stakes on this 3xLP set with the addition of live and studio tracks that fall outside of the previously released LP, stretching as far back as ’72 and into the end of ’76. The extra material, while naturally less cohesive than the Sunrise cuts, show a band with a head for experimentation that should light the coals of any fan of Tangerine Dream, Gong (or Steve Hillage’s solo work for that matter), and Manuel Göttsching happy. Nice set from Castle Face and hoping that this leads to some more from the deep record shelves of Dwyer.



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POW! – “Here It Comes”

“Here It Come” is another infected vessel from POW!. The SF synth-punks dredge the shadows for a slinking dirge that crawls from the crevices of the nihilistic neververse. Byron Blum’s guitars vomit twisted coils of wire and chromium tape. The drums are bounced through hammered cardboard and tin and the synths skitter across the headspace like feral androids, crouched and hissing. Fans of Simply Saucer, Chrome and Starter have a new touchstone to scratch at when the band’s upcoming Shift is released, but for now this scrap of hot plastic will have to suffice.

Filling in the origins of “Here It Comes, Blume notes, ”I had the drumbeat in my head and punched it into a sequencer before i would forget it. When we were in the studio, I wanted to do something with it and Tommy gave me the idea for lyrics. He would say ‘ready? Here it comes’ probably every time before he would press the record button. I loved that so much and we made a ditty out of it. It’s about relaxing in space and feeling strength running through my body, ready to face the unknown and whatever is arising in the moment”

You too can face the unknown when the LP seeps out from Castle Face on May 10th.

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Dream Machine

Matthew Melton has proven nothing if not mercurial over the years. He’s always been a fixture of the kind of garage that’s beaten and bruised, though doggedly interested in the details. Emerging from the twin spires of smoke-choked garage – Snake Flower 2 and Bare Wires – he dove headlong into the pristine clean of Warm Soda’s power pop with occasional digressions back into garage in his solo work and with short-run stompers Pleasers. So here we stand again on the precipice of another change and this time Melton sheds a great deal of those garage pasts to embrace the blacklit arms of prog and proto-metal.

Along with his wife Doris, who steers the band’s distinctive organ sound, Melton and Dream Machine enter a black drape of dry ice and incense that’s dug deep into the prog mindset, snaking through the corridors of the ’70s on trills of organ that can’t help but bring to mind Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple or Rhinoceros. Doris’ vocals give Dream Machine a nice touch of soulfulness, and a dose of femininity that sometimes eludes Melton’s past projects. He’s often felt like a bastion for young men with record shelving conundrums and while this won’t necessarily scare that set off, it’s got a great deal to offer those that fall outside the devoted choir of believers.

The record even comes with a dive into heady human harmonics in the band’s insistence on re-tuning to accommodate brain-reactive frequencies. Check out their explanation on A=432 that swerves from Joseph Goebbles to The Four Yugas. All these trappings feel essential to their true progression to, well Progressive Rock. The album is, as with most Melton projects, a perfect encapsulation of genre. While there have been plenty of dogmatic psych albums made in the past couple of decades, this one feels like its filling a niche that’s been left behind. With the exception of Black Mountain, the bands that have embraced anything approaching organ-prog in later years get hung up in Rick Wakeman wankerisms that leave out the pelvic thrust at the heart of the original players. Dream Machine manages to ride the line between the dirty crawl of garage and the stadium-sized ambitions of the supergroup generation. You’re gonna want to grab the headphones and sink back in that beanbag for this one.




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Warm Soda

Rather impressively, Matthew Melton has not one, but two records slated for the next couple of months. First up, he sends his tenure i Warm Soda off in style, delivering a fourth platter of faded yet sugar shaken power pop that proves he’s a man who’s done his homework time and again. Melton set out to run Warm Soda as an ode to those soft crushes in power pop – The Quick, Milk n’ Cookies, Shoes, Hubble Bubble – and as always he delivers that pining pop swoon with the kind of devotion to form that’s usually lost under lesser ambitions. Melton has assembled four albums that spin themselves out like a one man Yellow Pills and it’ll be sad to see him set it aside.

That said, four albums in the arms of lavender punk seems about right. It can be a hard genre to work through without repeating oneself, which probably explains why most of the original class of Power Pop High only churned out one or two before toughening up or calling it quits. Melton himself has already found himself in garage punk’s embrace (Snake Flower 2) and the leathered lock of glam-ignited punk (Bare Wires) so the road to toughing up feels closed. In a move no one expected he’s actually taking a tack into prog territory with his new Dream Machine project out next month. Before that though, it’s one more romp through the jukebox speakers, serving up a xeroxed dream of the the past that’s always been as strangely sweet as it is inescapably infectious.




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Damaged Bug

Though he’s spent the better part of his career fostering the yelp-rattled garage of Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer is a man of many professional tributaries. Damaged Bug arose as a more psychedelic outlet for the songwriter back in 2014 and he’s steadily used to exorcise his late night, creeping dread impulses. Bunker Funk hews close to it’s predecessor, 2015’s Cold Hot Plumbs, roiling in insistent rhythms and a whispered ominousness that hangs over the album in icy stalactites. Where it differs is in taking a literal pull out of the “Funk” half of it’s title. Dwyer augments his teeth-grit lullabies with a splash of flutes and throb bass that does feel indebted to some portion of ’70s library funk. The combination is at once future leaning and in debt to the past.

But as this is Damaged Bug, the funk isn’t the kind that’s going to soundtrack your classic Impala romp, rather Dwyer drops the listener into a psych-funk wonderland of oblique funhouse mirrors and polished brass. It’s funk as twisted through the minds of Finder’s Keepers libraries and whatever wavelength Chrome have been picking out of the cosmos for the last forty odd years. Dwyer is exacting in his need to unsettle. The record is splashed in acid blots and radiant colors, but underneath he’s bending a Cheshire smile that bears an ill will, or a mischievous one at the very least. Dwyer’s universe is an echoplexed underground and Bunker Funk drags us deeper than he’s led before. He’s leading this search party into the unknown and it’s unclear which of us is coming back.




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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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Thee Oh Sees

At this point in his career, Jon Dwyer has little to answer for or care about with regards to meeting anyone’s expectations other than his own. Still he goes for it hard each time, and with fairly few missteps Thee Oh Sees continue to be the dominant strain in garage-psych that all others seem to draw from. Though, in perhaps a student has become the master moment, Thee Oh Sees have augmented their setup to include a second drummer, equaling the psych-o-naut pummel of their one time stablemates King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. For A Weird Exits everything is bigger and run through with concurrent strains of mutant punk and placid psych that have always been bubbling under the surface of Dwyer’s warped vision. In a way, it seems that this might have been what he was striving for all along. Its not as consistently terse and frantic, but there’s still plenty of vein bulging, panic sweat moments. Its the moments that melt into the radiator, humid and hazy that give the album a new perspective.

Two instrumental breaks give the album texture, the first with a a motorik, squalling quality that’s beset with feedbacking fizz and synth splatter, the second with a lonesome mellowness that tempers the album’s fire. They move the records pace along, ushering in sonic reducers and building to the album’s epic finale double dose of “Crawl Out From the Fall Out” and “The Axis,” the latter of which may be garage-psych’s answer to “Tuesday’s Gone,” There’s a dark aura of psychedelic heaviness on this album, even in the album titles and though I’m sure it has more to do with the Monster Manual in its origins, there’s a part of me that wants “Gelatinous Cube” to stem from a night spent high watching Wayne’s World and riffing on Brian Doyle Murray’s explanation of Zoltar.

Pop refs aside though, this is a watershed moment for Thee Oh Sees. Get this long in the tooth and its bound to feel like you might just be filling in the template, but the band continues to expand on their garage hijinks to include well paced and shaded albums that aren’t just sticking singles together with filler and glue. A Weird Exits is more of a statement than the band have made yet, though its clear that Mutilator Defeated At Last was on the trajectory that’s delivered A Weird Exits. Its a double album worthy of the sleeve space, burning and fuming, smoldering and crumbling to ash. Though Thee Oh Sees section on my record shelf is heavy to bursting, somehow Dwyer and crew always make it worthwhile to wedge one more volume in for good measure.




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Zig Zags

Zig Zags are back with a follow up and its fodder for those that loved the first. If you were a metal kid that fell in with the punks, then every inch of Running Out of Red is prime listening. The album is raw, but with a knife edge. Producer Chris Woodhouse gives the album a spit sheen that glints off the jacket studs of the heaviest head in the pit. At its heart, though, the album is soaked in beer and sweat and denim and something tells me that the L.A. crew would have it no other way. There’s plenty who pack in the heavy riffs, especially in Castle Face’s ever expanding roster, but Zig Zags are bringing the fiery solos and and the raised fist rumble like no one else in that stable.

The genius of Running Out Of Red is that every song seems like it could soundtrack a chase sequence in Maximum Overdrive. The band’s been to the alter and made an offering and now they’re just bringing back unburdened garage metal for those who want speed and spit and to just not think for 30 minutes of unadulterated shred. I can practically smell the studio in each take, and that grease caked, leather punch has been sorely lacking of late. If this year’s general turmoil is any indication of entropic slide into the void, Zig Zags seem like a pretty good soundtrack for the chaos. Note perfect to burn it all down.




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Feels

Feels hits all the right notes to rope in the cult of 90’s slacker cool, dredging up some Breeders pangs, mixed with a kneel at the altar of early Nirvana sweet n’ scuzzy songwriting for good measure. The L.A. foursome have more than their fair share of barbed hooks hidden in this nest of fuzz pop tangles, but the kicker is production courtesy of who else but Ty Segall, never resting as usual, and pushing their poison soda punch to the max. Laena Geronimo’s sweet and sour coo draws the listener in and then draws blood, soaring just above the tumult below with confidence that’s palpable. Each time I return to this album it makes me pissed that they’re pulling off the formula so well. Its a record that knows it wants to walk in another era’s Doc Martin treads but doesn’t give a shit if you notice. I say that if you make a record that seems like the past was worse off without it, rather than just a scrawled notebook love letter then you’re doing something right. There’s definitely a piece of me that feels like I might have been better off hard charging this out of some bedroom speakers in ’94, but who’s to say now. I’m certainly better off with it on the speakers in 2016.

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Feels “Close My Eyes”

Feels have been knocking around the L.A. underground for a bit but with a debut on the way for Castle Face, produced by Ty Segall, they seem poised to pop onto a few more radars in the next couple of months. The first taste of their eponymous LP sounds like a kissing cousin, if not a straight up disciple, of Ty’s catalog and there are certainly some of his fingerprints on the thick wall of fuzz that blows out of the speakers in an unwavering squall. Steeped in the school of ’90s riffs the track makes time flirting feedback with the soft punch of Laena Geronimo’s rock candy purr, bolting from the start and rushing to a panting finish that’s all clatter and growl. Everything down to the ’60s storybook cover art has me itching to listen to more from the band. Won’t have to wait too much longer though, the LP is out at the end of the month and knowing the Castle Face crew, it’ll likely be pressed onto a collectible technicolored edition as well.

Listen:

The track appears on Feels’ upcoming album Feels out February 26th. Support the Artist. Pre-Order Here.

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