Posts Tagged ‘Flightless’

Civic – “Radiant Eye”

Hey its Bandcamp Friday once again, which means that the inbox is stuffed to bursting and I’m desperately trying to parse through the best of the glut. Aussies Civic return today with a new double-sided scorcher that puts their frenetic brand of punk at the forefront and adds a nice touch of horns. Not something I was expecting to enter the Civic arena, but “Radiant Eye” torches through the speakers with a whiff of ozone on the air and the band follow it up with a beaten and battered cover of The Creation on the back, making the familiar rally cry from Rushmore feel like less of a ‘60s jangler and more of a sonic scorcher in times when sitting still truly feels like a luxury. If you’re throwing around a bit of monetary support today, you could do worse than to give Civic some coin for this AA vision of punk bash.




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Grace Cummings on Buffy Sainte-Marie – It’s My Way!

Hands down one of the most engrossing records that I came across last year was the Flightless debut from Australian songwriter Grace Cummings. Her scarred and furrowed songs were only rendered more so by her sonorous voice. She has the kind of stop you in your tracks delivery that would leave most listeners agape until the last note left the air. She’s followed the album up with an entry to the Looking Glass series for Mexican Summer that’s serves as a proper epilogue to the record and naturally that had me thinking that Grace might have a gem in her collection that she looks to. Shoulda thought of this when I was writing up the album, but of course Cummings is a natural fit for the storyteller power of Buffy Sainte-Marie. She recounts the impact of the songwriter’s essential ’64 debut on her own works.

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – “Honey”

Its been a little bit since I’ve had the Gizz on the site, which in King Gizzard years is something like a half-decade, I suppose. After the charred remains of Infest The Rat’s Nest stopped smoldering, they’re back with a new, more mellow feeling. The song recalls a pretty straight split between their microtonal temperament a few years ago and the acoustic sweetness of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon and its nice to have the band winding their way back to this niche. As much as most probably love the psychedelic blast that the band lays down, I’ve alway been fan of the softer side of the Lizard Wizard and this shows that off nicely. The video puts the chaos away for a bit as well, with the band’s Stu McKenzie solo and busking in the sunset. No full details yet, but if there’s more of this on the way, I’m game.



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Leah Senior

Capturing the sun-faded ease of the ‘70s has become a bit of a genre unto itself of late. From Drugdealer and Weyes Blood, to Foxygen and The Lemon Twigs, there are plenty who seek to hitch their hammock in the light of post-Laurel Canyon vibes of reclusive solitude and worn-leather comfort. For her third record on Flightless, Leah Senior lets slip out another entry to that canon, and one that’s quite a welcome addition. She’s been no stranger to folk that leans towards the macrame decade as she’s been simmering low-key among the less ferocious names on the Aussie imprint’s roster. She’s played the troubadour aptly. Yet, with The Passing Scene, she’s found a new niche between confessional poetics and a lusher sound that pulls her off of the solo stool and into a studio sound that conjures thick wood panels, tapestry draped lamps, and a soft curlicue of smoke rising from behind the glass. There’s a verdant wooded aura to the record that taps into not only the Valley’s lineage but the valley itself.

Lyrically the album hits on some of the same imagery that would have marked her ‘70s influences, from the lovelorn dreaming of Baez and Mitchell, to the sunset sighs of Sweet Baby James and the slightly religious psychedelia of Judee Sill. In fact, the latter feels like she has a large thumbprint in Senior’s songwriting, merging an often reclusive personal nature with a clear talent for orchestrations that makes her songs soar much further than the studio walls. Like Sill, no matter how well-crafted the trappings around her, Senior’s voice remains the magnetic draw, and she uses it well to form an album that’s drawing her out as an artist to keep tabs on. Between this and the excellent album from Grace Cummings, it seems that loudness and Lizards aren’t all that Flightless has going for it.



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Leah Senior – “Evergreen”

Aussie enclave Flightless Records has long been an enclave of explosive psychedelia, but the less raucous nooks of their catalog also hold some excellent folk and soft-psych releases that are no less affecting. Grace Cummings, The Babe Rainbow, pre-2020 Traffik Island, and Leah Senior occupy this space well and nod to a lost-era of folk that’s faded around the edges. The latter has just announced her upcoming third LP The Passing Scene, out June 12th and the first single from the album seems to be hitting the same Kodachrome crush feelings as Weyes Blood, Drugdealer, or Bedouine. An airy ‘70s Laurel Canyon quality inhabits “Evergreen,” making it nostalgic, but also familiar, like it might have always been creeping around the stereo. “Evergreen” is indeed a perfect title for the song. Check out the Renaissance-draped video above. No purchase info is lurking about yet, but as with the limited editions of Flightless releases, probably better to snap this one up quick when it does post.

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Traffik Island’s Zak Olsen on Public Nuisance – Gotta Survive

Keeping the wheels turning on Hidden Gems and pulling more and more psychic diggers into the fold. This week the honors fall to Zak Olsen, the Aussie indie utilitarian who crops up in quite a few RSTB faves, to be honest. From the fractured pop ooze of Hierophants to the crushing grooves of ORB, Zak has done time in The Bonniwells, The Frowning Clouds, and keeps time in his own solo work as Traffik Island. The latter’s work caught my ear a few years back with a spot-on deep-dive into loner folk, but of late the band has embraced an aesthetic of psychedelic beat driven on an engine of Library Music funk. Zak gives some background on California garage band Public Nuisance and how their Nuggets-era works came into his life. Check out Zak’s take on the band’s works below and head to Flightless for the latest Traffik Island thumper.

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Traffik Island

Even when the first couple of tracks from Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam came filtering out, it seemed like a fever dream timeshift, not to mention a headscratcher for fans of the band’s past output. Zak Olsen’s (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) solo psych dugout always took a different tack than his collaborative endeavors, which ranged from Sabbath fuzz to post-punk. Under the Traffik Island signature he’d largely stuck to the psych-pop formula – laconic strums, wisps of folk, and tape-hiss veneers gave most of his works the feeling of a lost private press reel stuffed in storage and found by rabid collectors on a lucky afternoon. From his split with Sleepyhead through last year’s Flightless debut proper, Nature Strip, the formula seemed set… or at least locked within the same cloud of strange smoke. So, when the follow-up arrived and shucked the whole framework, I was intrigued to say the least.

Zak keeps the psych, and maybe a bit of the pop, but puts the folk away for the moment. At least in any conventional sense he has. The record adopts an electronic haze and a crate digger’s ear for dusty grooves, propulsive beats, and lush atmospheres. Much in the mode of something out of the Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Shadow, or Egon bag, the record repurposes the ideals of Library recordings from the ‘60s and ‘70s and knocks funk, Krautrock, and lounge into a candy-colored vision that swirls with light and sound. While the format might feel like a throwback in more than one way – to both the ‘70s inspirations and the late ‘90s methods of hot-gluing them together – the record is a complete journey that works so well that it, again seems like a private press found in a dorm room dig, just update the time frame about 30 years or so. The best part is that the record works together like a soundtrack to an unseen film – I’d imagine somewhere there’s an animator that needs to get on this. Bright colors only need apply.



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Traffik Island – “Ulla Dulla”

The new Traffik Island LP is rolling out shortly and this time around Zak Olsen (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) has moved away from the private press folk that caressed his Flightless debut and into an arena of beat-laden psych-pop. Under the title Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam, it seems almost a given that the album would process Library, folk, and psych nibblets into plastic pop for beat collectors and oddball hoarders alike. The first offerings from the record have a feeling of being children of the big beat era, but without as much bombast – a quieter cool looking towards Shadow and Peanut Butter Wolf doing their crate digging darndest. Despite Flightless’ partnerships in the US (with ATO), this one, much like that indispensable Grace Cummings LP, doesn’t seem to be making its way Stateside. So, for the understandably fraught, you’ll have to head over to the Aussie store and pony up some cash for an import.



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Traffik Island – “Charlie Is My Darling”

One of last year’s great surprises was the solo debut from Zak Olsen as Traffik Island. Zak’s been a fixture in Aussie indie for a while popping up in ORB, Frowning Clouds, Thibault and Hierophants before going down the road of psych-pop with a folk heart, dredging up come Syd Barrett, Simon Finn, and Kevin Ayers comparisons with his off-kilter warble. The last album was produced by Library recordings savant Frank Maston, though its Olsen’s new cut that sounds like its got more of Frank’s influence all over it. “Charlie Is My Darling” pulls away from the vocal folk and into an instrumental groove thats’ bright and soaked in sun and breeze. This time around Traffik Island is hinged on Mark Mothersbaugh synth quirk and looping samples, but its still got a timeless quality to it. There’s still a filter of the ‘60s laid over an aughts mentality. Apparently this ties together the past and the future, but that only makes me wonder what the future might bring. The new LP, Peanut Butter Traffik Jam is out February 21st from Flightless.



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The Babe Rainbow

There’s something about Aussie band The Babe Rainbow that exudes a particular ease. From their countenance on down the band look and sound like they’ve never really had a bad day, or at least a day that they couldn’t turn around with a little surfing and barbecue. Those vibes permeate every inch of Today the band’s third, and most solid album. In the past they’ve embodied much of the same spirit, but the results have been hit or miss. They’ve wandered over the psych-pop map looking to pick at ‘60s sparkle, forest folk and lounge but the mixture was always just a touch wobbly. They came pretty close on last year’s Supermoon, an album that captured their wave of gauzy love but also took a few detours into spacey instrumentals that could meander the course of the record off track. The Babes hit on the head trip they were looking to spark but we sometimes got lost in the clouds along the way.

This time they tighten up the seams, still locked into the pocket of faded folk and grooved lounge psych, but playing up the pop half of their dynamic and fleshing it out with a West Coast downtempo spirit that belies their Aussie roots. The album seems like it might have taken a page out of the music direction for recent sleeper series Lodge 49 capturing it’s “melancholy on the bright side” ideals of aimless surf culture that the show distilled into something a bit more meaningful. Today embodies some of the same feelings — unscarred skies that stretch for miles, wonder and weirdness — given life through a constant roil of ‘60s strums and thickly plumed flutes. The band has been working to nail their niche and it seems that with this one they’ve finally begun to harden their grip on the board and ride right into the heart of the curl. The summer might be winding down for those of us up here, but this one still has a bit of solar bake to lay on the listener.






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