Posts Tagged ‘Choogle’

Pacific Range

It’s hard to know what type of tone to strike these days — whether a bath of anger is what’s called for or the cleansing spirit of solace is in order. Maybe the answer is that there are days for both. I’d like to think that the angst of 2020 was far, far from the minds that made High Up On The Mountain, when it was written and recorded. The debut LP from West Coast Cosmic comrades Pacific Range captures a certain strain of calm that’s been sorely missing from my life of late. The album is awash in the salt-scrubbed tones of California and ingrained with the unblemished invigoration of mountain air. While it might not be a West Coast concept, the band captures the aural equivalent of that perfect pitch of blue that comes through in Spring sky — the kind that chases away the clouds of winter, hung with the first tinge of warmth and the the promise of a break from the crushing despair of winter months. The current wave of Cosmic Americana that’s rolled through has oddly favored the East Coast (aside from Howlin’ Rain I suppose) and the bands inclusion in the sunshine sway of the sound feels like it fills a particular gap.

While many of the others are heavily dependent on the Crazy Horse and Little Feat axis, Pacific Range seem to be falling into a more Allman descendent strain, and in many occasions the works of Dicky solo. Sure, they pick up quite a few of the tangential vibes as well — the lesser knowns that found their way in the wake of the Dead, The Allmans and post-Caravanserai Santana. There’s shades of Help Yourself, Mountain Bus, and Turnquist Remedy all threaded through the album. The band trickles down the same tributaries that cut through the canyons and make them their own. There’s a boogie that drives High Up, but there’s something more at play here.

While there’s the familiar deep-seated sway that offers itself up to extended jams in the live setting, there is a tenderness that’s not as present in some of their contemporaries. “Boulevard Indigo,” has a mournful country-folk strain that hangs on the air like dew. “Guiding the Mast” sounds like its was sliced off of either of the last couple of Mapache albums, and its not surprising that the band’s Clay Finch does indeed show up as a guest player among the tracks offered up here. Pacific Range complicate the cosmic winds with their own dusting of bittersweet heartache. There’s plenty here that gives in to the groove but just as much that lets it linger down to a halt, letting the soft breeze suffice as just the right amount of movement. This one seems to have been lost in terms of deserving fanfare, especially out East, but its a necessary pickup in times needing a respite for sure.





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Pacific Range – “High Upon The Mountain”

West Coast psych searchers Pacific Range have been cooling themselves on the Cosmic Americana winds for a few years yet, but their first proper LP is just now landing at Curation Records. The band’s shared the title track to High Up On The Mountain today and its radiating with silver shivers of country psych bliss. The band is bred on a cocktail of Allman Brothers sunshower shakedowns, Mountain Bus low-gear choogle, shimmers of Help Yourself and, naturally, a requisite dose of The Dead in their veins. The band’s debut, wrapped in an eye-popping Brian Blomberth cover, features Duane Betts (son of Dicky), Sam & Clay from Mapache, and Jade Castrinos among others. “High Upon The Mountain” opens up the LP, and there aren’t many better introductions to the band’s canyon cradled brand of West Coast breeze than this right here. Built on a low-slung guitar line and sweetly stung harmonies, tuck into this one and get prepped for the LP on 3/27.



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Arbor Labor Union

As Arbor Labor Union returns home to their Georgian roots, and home to Arrowhawk, the label where they began, they find another type of roots suit them as well. The band’s brief sojourn with Sub Pop might have escaped your grasp, if you weren’t paying attention over the last couple of years, but I’m sure it had an impact on them. The band scrubbed themselves clean and cut back their hairiness for I Hear You, but as accomplished as it was, it also lost a bit of the fun that imbued the band with their sense of joy. That fun and froth returns to New Petal Instants and the band wind up with, by all accounts, their best yet. Dipping into their instincts to jam a track into the choogle-slicked waters of the current indie-psych pocket of rock that includes Garcia Peoples, One Eleven Heavy, and Howlin’ Rain, the band finds a home in ramble n’ rollick that can’t sit still.

ALU always knew hot to land a riff, but here they don’t stick it with the precision of a champion athlete, but rather let it slide like a kid pushing the boundaries on a backyard ramp. They “pick a boogie” and let it loop, sliding and skidding on the way down to the ground with a bit of reckless flair. That sense of not playing it safe makes the album feel like its bigger than the Cosmic Americana crush its attempting to squeeze. It’s a band recapturing their spirit and coming off better for it. The group synthesizes the spirit of Southern Rock and adds to it the complexities and discipline of post-punk. While the two don’t seem to find the mesh in the marketplace, there’s every indication that ALU could crush a cover of The Soft Boys’ “Wey Way Hep Uh Hole” and make it seem like it swung with a smoked-tanned soul all along. Take away the sneer but keep the self-effacing swagger in place and that’s where New Petal Instants lands.



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Wet Tuna

When Wet Tuna first unspooled their debut last year, they tapped into a primitive blues soup dipped strait from the swamp. It’s a humid, boiled record that folds one song into another with barely time to swipe the sweat before each groove subsumes the next. The band was built on the stage and they brought the deep zone groove nexus into the studio with surprising success. On the follow-up they still keep the cosmic tapestry intact, but they’ve begun to thread a few new strands into the tattered tap as well. The record is still living on midnight fuel, formed from their own admitted tendency to let the substances settle for a few hours until the balance is right and the clock slips past the uprights into the pre-dawn hours.

They channel this time-slip pseudo-seance onto a two-inch proof of purchase – a haunted haven of dank grooves to get lost in and vaporized boogie that cures the soul. Matt and Pat have boundless roots in the psychedelic pantheon, but collectively this is probably one of their most pure and primal discs. Water Weird is the cosmos captured, the burnt mind made good and projected through three layers of psychic meniscus into the ever after. Water Weird is the night made manifest and given flight over the horizon of infinite ink. There’s something ineffable, intangible, and alchemical about Wet Tuna and it all comes to a head with Water Weird. If this isn’t sitting atop your year end, then I’ve got some serious questions about priorities to discuss with you.

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Gong Gong Gong

Beijing duo Gong Gong Gong root their songs in a minimalist blues that incorporates traditional Chinese structures, but come out feeling like desolate, havok-wreaked tunes for the coming collapse. There’s tension at every corner of Phantom Rhythm and the pair aim it at the listener in waves of dustbowl devastation. With only two players (guitar and bass) it seems like they couldn’t keep the propulsion kicking with the kind of intensity they court for a whole album, but with the guitars scratching away a galloped gait and the bass fuzzing at the seams, the songs are breathless and biting. They leave room for nuance, though. While they always seem to wind up at a stomping gallop by the time the tracks close, along the way they prove themselves limber players who can snake through any musical opening.

On the slightly pedal-paced “Moonshadows” there’s still an urgency, but the band also finds themselves slinking through the shadows, quiet on their feet but keeping their hearts thudding hard in their chest as they weave through the wilds of rhythm. The fuzz if forever hungry in the heart of Phantom Rhythm and bassist Joshua Frank often lets his instrument act as the radical element in their dynamic, vaulting off of guitarist Tom Ng’s steady strut a low-end howl through the caverns of the mind. Though they’re packed into a Bo Diddly swagger sack on the surface, the record updates the folk-blues model for a thornier, more furious world. This is sweat-lodge high-vision choogle, a groove that slices between past and future. The future ate the past and only the dry scrape of Gong Gong Gong hangs ominously in the distance.



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Garcia Peoples “One Step Behind (Single Edit)”

It would be disingenuous to say that Garcia Peoples rise over the past year has been anything short of impressive. Following their sophomore LP for Beyond Beyond is Beyond in February they’ve become staples of the live circuit in NYC (a quick dig through Archive.org or NYC Taper will confirm their prowess in the room). They’ve opened a slew of dates with Chris Forsyth and Kurt Vile, fleshed out their sound with the help of new permanent member Pat Gubler (Wet Tuna, P.G. Six), cut a lightning crack studio session with Hans Chew, and now they’re onto their second album of the year. Some might think the second helping would leave the band wanting for material, but it’s a goddamned smorgasbord at the Garcia’s house and we’re all invited. Taking their improvisational prowess from the stage to the reels, the band is issuing a 32-minute epoch of a title track that brings Guitarist Tom Malach’s father, Bob on board for a deep dive through space jazz that upends everything you’d expect going into a new Peoples record.

Diving deeper into the mercurial depths than they ever have before, the band eschews their usual groove to get lost in a bit of the cosmic wilds for a patch. Malach, the elder, used to knock down sessions with everyone from Miles Davis to Arto Lindsay to Stevie Wonder so this is no nepotism knockout, this is a familial team-up for the ages. Ah-ah, but you’re gonna have to wait until the full platter’s out of the oven to hear Bob’s double overdubbed sax goodness. Right here is the radio edit, a line closer to what they’ve been playing live for the track. Heard this the other night when they opened for KV and it hit just as hard — the band workin’ up their own “Playing in the Band’ alchemy. They sync up in full symbiosis, playing off of one another with the veracity of players with twice as many trips ‘round the sun and its a delight to watch.

The band’s Danny Arakaki peels back the curtain on One Step Behind’s origins. “We had a great time recording this track,” grins Arakaki. “Many highlights involved. One being, Tom’s dad, Bob Malach, coming to the studio to lay down the sax tracks (which you’ll hear later on the full-length album version of the song) and after killing it, casually saying, “fooled em’ again.” Great to see Tom and his dad work together. Every time we make the trip out to Black Dirt Studio we end up finding new sounds too. That has everything to do with the way Jason (Meagher) works with us. Positive vibes all around. Enjoy the changes and ride the tune.” The record lands October 18th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Best be ready.

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