Posts Tagged ‘Drag City’

Major Stars – “For Today”

Its a great day when Major Stars are back in action. The veteran psych band has been pushing their volume dipped heavy psych for nine albums now and the first taste of their latest for Drag City is a reminder that while there are plenty of new band’s crawling for the mantle, some lone warriors earned it long ago and might be hard to topple. The band has cycled through a few vocalist in the past few years but newcomer Hayley Thompson-King seems fit for the fury that the axis of Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar are pushing behind her. The track is as heavy as anything The Dead Weather have been kicking out these past few years, but without the truly glossy topcoat. Major Stars have always known how to get a bit gritty and dirty, without ever losing volume and impact. This is a good omen of things to come on Motion Set.

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Cory Hanson – “Ordinary People”

Wand is pretty damn prolific as it is, so the news that the band’s Cory Hanson is embarking on a solo record seems like he’s pushing his limits. Though the sound of “Ordinary People” is worlds away from Wand’s powder keg of psych stomp and garage explosion so maybe this Hanson letting his guard down and searching the other side of the coin. Starting with a swell of strings and building to a gorgeous bit of chamber folk that comes on with fragile, yet orchestrated appeal of 60’s nuggets like Gandalf (there’s a bit of a “Hang On To A Dream” quality), bits of The Zombies or even Susan Christie; “Ordinary People” is a psych-folk gem that’s light on the psych but heavy on the emotional impact. Its a new take on Hanson’s songwriting and to tell the truth, the lighter side looks good on him. Not that I’m going to shrug at any fire and flash from the Wand camp, but this kind of lush folk is always a welcome ticket around here. Can’t wait to see how this song stacks up with the whole album. The world needs more weird folk nuggets out there.

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Axis: Sova – “Violent Yellow”

Just under a year after Brett Sova hit the world with his debut for God? Records, the Chicagoan returns, cleaned up sonically, but no less ready to dive into the dirty grit of motorik rock n’ roll and heavy psych. With Cave/Bitchin’ Bajas’ Cooper Crane at the decks, Sova has recorded a follow-up to Early Surf and its peeling back the cover on his grit soaked grind, wiping some of the debris from his lo-fi lockdown last year and letting the fuzz and fry bubble over with a crispness that suits him. The first taste of Motor Earth is a psych-splattered groover that’s one part kin to the Krautrock dirge of those other motorik menaces from ’16, The Writhing Squares, and one part ozone caked psych fry that’s burning down the button down lock step Krautrock altogether. Its a good first impression for the record and sounding like Axis: Sova is still one to watch.




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Purling Hiss – “Fever”

Purling Hiss have, no doubt, evolved over the past few years from szuzz-mining noise-psych purveyors to rock standard bearers. Though in their new role they may be clearer sounding than their blown cone fuzz days, they still have plenty of punch packed into their tightly wound riffs. With a heavy crunch and alt rock swagger, they blow the doors off for their latest album, High Bias, by hitting us with a single that’s reminiscent of Afghan Whigs shot through a high octane dose of Brian Jonestown’s amp runoff. The shouted background vocals are redlining in all the right ways and there’s a dirtiness to it that feels very Purling Hiss, but with its hair combed all nice seeing as they continue with the higher fidelity adopted on 2014’s Weirdon. Sounds like a good start to me. Always happy to hear some Hiss blowing through the speakers around here.



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Rangda

Three albums in and Rangda is still a dream trio of players, so wholly versed in their instruments that it seems hard to believe that they coalesce so rightfully. For fans of Sir Richard Bishop, his fingers are all over this one, quite literally, and a lot of the melodies on The Heretic’s Bargain play like Bishop solo tracks on steroids. The fluidity and frantic pace of strings is there, but electrified and given chase by Chasney’s guitar and Corsano’s expert beat. Songs are built on the rapid heart-skip of fingerpicks, but as proven on “The Sin Eaters” and the epic closer “Mondays Are Free At The Hermetic Museum” the group is built for the psychedelic breakdown, devolving those sprightly melodies into a blur of sticks and picks and squalls of feedback that threaten to consume time itself. There’s always been a quality to Bishop’s melodies that I think would lend itself to soundtrack work, as if he’s always composing scenes in his head, with the the guitar quickening footsteps down a hallway or poking its head around the corner trepedatiously. Here he invokes that same cinematic quality, only to add a more urgent sense of catastrophe in the corrosive breakdowns. The characters here might quicken their steps, but its likely in a chase away from unseen demons that win out in the end. Rangda is and has always been a behemoth and on their latest they prove that they’ll keep banging ’til they bring it all down around them.

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Ty Segall

So Segall ropes in a huge crew of ringers on his latest collection, Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), Mikal Cronin, Emmett Kelley (The Cairo Gang), Charles Moothart (Meatbodies), Cory Hanson & Evan Burrows of Wand and Melvins Drummer Dale Crover, each one a holding a record nerd’s pedigree in their own right; and together they make exactly the kind of case study in explosive, yet powerful rock that you might think that they’d unearth. What’s maybe missing, is perhaps any of that polish that found its way to the forefront of Ty’s last record. Here he’s going for a barbed wire aura that puts listeners on their haunches from the get go, grinding through the dirt rather than working to nod heads and let the teens bop. The cast of characters on display are torn from some similar territory from past releases, all matter of loners and speckled creepers, but now it seems that the disconnection they inspire is intentional and perhaps crucial, as the core of his “emotional mugging” stems from the electronic barriers of social feeds and the constant filter of glowing screens.

The first half of the record cuts the flesh and licks a few wounds, barreling through Television, Beefheart and Voidoids machinations if they were blown through the filter of Chrome and throttled a few turns in the vice of MX-80. The second half opens up its scope, though its still got an evil hangover of guitar gnash that keeps it at arm’s length from the glittered pop of Manipulator. This is one for the true grit, those who’ve come as much for the hooks as for the blown cone ethos. In a way, this whole album reminds me of one of Segall’s greatest tracks, “My Sunshine,” a shot over two minutes of melted wire fury with a caramel center of melody that makes it uncomfortable in its own skin while still making you smile every time. Who knows if this mask will stay on long, but for now this is an enjoyable bit of squirm from one of the modern masters of string wrangled fury.

Listen:
Watch ’em play it HERE

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The Silence

Masaki Batoh’s post Ghost exhibits haven’t always hit on the same hallowed ground that the band prowled in its heyday. But with two releases in 2015 under The Silence moniker, he seems to be finding some footing that strikes closer to the heart. Its the second of these that’s really the sanctuary for those missing the mournful psychedelia that Ghost seemed to snatch out of the mists. Hark The Silence begins with a three part suite called Ancient Wind and the dirgey pace, wails of gong and wind sheared flute should all feel a bit familiar to those who’s ’90s collections held a few spots for Japanese psych among the grunge flooded fields. The suite is definitely the centerpiece and highlight of the album, a reminder of why Batoh has earned his place in a pantheon that’s rife with Eastern guitar slingers but there are some bright spots outside of the opening blows of Hark… as well. The band shines when they push past the ten minute mark, proving that the live incarnation is probably their true form, but at least finding a way to capture the storm to a fairly tangible form on tape. In part this feels like a true return and its nice to know that there will always be a home for squall wizards out there, but its also made me reach for the the familiar arms of Ghost’s catalog, proving that some legacies cast a long shadow that’s hard to shake.

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The Silence – “Ancient Wind Pt. 3”

Masaki Batoh’s The Silence sneaks in another album before the end of the year and its a fuller and more raucous outing than their self-titled debut earlier in 2015. The album is anchored by the massive three part piece “Ancient Wind” and they’ve just shared a video for the song that pretty much paints the visual they were going for on the psych-folk cycle. Swirling kaleidoscopic visuals that flash in epileptic warning to the song’s frantic mix of percussive thump and flute solos that will probably give your dad full on Tull flashbacks. Its a pretty decent way to spend six minutes.



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Wand

Wand are turning out to be rather prolific, eh? Third album on the way, second of the year and its proving to be just as packed with heady fuzz, psych weirdness and that sulfur burn sound that’s made them one of our favorites over the past couple of years. This time they don’t just barrel headlong into gravy thick riffs though, there’s a nod to the heaviness and hooks and then the band tumbles into caverns of echo that sound like they’ve been spending some time with A.R. and Machine’s 1972 opus Echo. After they climb out of the chasm they take a left turn towards Barrett-laced psych-folk that fits them quite well.

But while the detours are nice and make for a well rounded album, its a welcome return to testing the tensile limits of your speaker covers as they go for some jugular crushing, exorcism rousing riffs on the back half, bringing plenty of evil vibes floating over the veil. They bring it all down with one of the sweetest sounding cuts they’ve written to date, a perfect mix of sweet pastoral strums and soaring grandiosity that show Tame Impala and Temples how its done. Bu while those bands borrow from the book of niceties in psych, Wand find a few more ways to blend the weirdness of prog with the heavy boots of metal (just like Sabbath told ya) and come out a bit more fun and a whole lot louder. Perhaps you’re asking if your vinyl shelf needs another Wand record this year. The answer is, of course, that it definitely does.

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The Cairo Gang

Emmett Kelly’s run as The Cairo Gang has seen him inhabit mostly noir shades, culminating in the brooding ominousness of 2012’s The Corner Man. He broke stride and found his inner Byrds fan on the excellent Tiny Rebels EP from last year, embracing jangle like a second skin. As Goes Missing, opens it seems that perhaps he’s retreated back into the shadows, “An Angel, A Wizard” has those old clouds gathering around its edges, but they part soon enough as the album throws itself headlong into a spiral of bittersweet strums and autumnal overtones. Its a true extension of Tiny Rebels’ air of sighed relief, and the further the album unfolds the more it shows that Kelly can’t be pinned or painted into the genre conventions we’re likely to try put on him. He’s a songwriter at heart and the ebullient grace of his comfortability with emotion comes beaming through this album. Repeated spins show Goes Missing to be a love letter to 60’s folk and the haunted troubadour, but its core is Kelly’s voice, a bittersweet knife right to the heart every time. Among an already stellar catalog, this may rank as one of his best.



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