Posts Tagged ‘Garage Rock’

The Cowboys

Bloomington’s best kept secret are back and burning like never before with their latest album for Feel It. Taking a springboard off of their last LP, 3rd, the band continues to refine their sound, rolling their garage rumble in a dose of blue-eyed soul and a few kaleidoscopic touches of ‘60s pop. The Bottom of a Rotten Flower has the band working at their tightest sonically, adding in an additional guitarist in the form of Chris Kramer (Nobunny), thickening up the sound and giving a slapdash of bubblegum fun to tracks like “Wet Behind The Eyes” and “Some Things Never Change.” They’ve shirked a bit of their Todd Rundgren cracked loner vibes this time around, and while I miss ‘em personally, this is a much more upbeat offering than the last that’s swaggering with a well-deserved confidence.

That’s not to say its all brash and guitar smash here. The band’s been notable for merging power pop, garage and classic rock touches into timeless songs that hang on the indominable rasp of Keith Harman, but they also know how to dim the lights without losing an ounce of energy. He’s breaking into the ‘80s soundtrack trophy case, pounding the keys like Elton and letting that sunset sax drip all over the end credits on “Now With Feeling.” While over on “My Conscience is Clean” they add a touch of smoke and smolder, draping the mic cable around their shoulders for a touch of garage-soul smolder. The band, naturally, shines when the tempos sweat and there’s a touch of cartoon glee in their eyes, but what makes this their most accomplished record is that they’re building something bigger than one off grab of garage hooks.

This is the closest the band has sounded to an album, planned and proper, sequenced to sting. It’s a big record that testifies to the enduring power of the electric guitar in an age when the form has begun its slide towards the bin for many. The Cowboys are proving as classic as their moniker – kicking out a true doublwide American rock n’ roller that feels built to endure and endear.



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Fapardokly – Fapardokly

California songwriter Merrell Fankkhauser touched down in severally ‘60s groups, beginning with the surf-bent Impacts before forming the psych group Merrell & The Exiles in 1964. The Exiles would eventually shuck that name to become Fapardokly. The thorny name was the result of combining letters from each of the members’ names, something that probably seemed a better idea at the time. The band held down a residency at the Pismo Beach venue The Cove while laying down songs over a number of years at Glenn Records’ founder Glen F MacArthur’s nearby studio. One of the tracks the band recorded, “Tomorrow’s Girl,” found its way onto Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, which helped turn their hodgepodge of studio tracks into an album for the hometown label.

Since it was recorded over several years, the style on the record evolves alongside the trends that transpired between ’64 and ’67. There are straightforward janglers, baroque ruminations and psych standouts peppered all over their eponymous LP. The record has found its way out before, but rarely in an authorized version. Sundazed worked out a CD a few years back, but this marks the return to vinyl and even boasts some archival photos and liner notes from Fankhauser himself. Its also returns the album’s original cover art, which had been degraded to lesser versions among bootleg issues of the record.

Though it would comprise his most essential recordings, Fapardokly didn’t mark the end for Fankhauser. He’d go on to have some nominal psych success with H.M.S. Bounty, a band that shared much common ground with later period Fapardokly. He’d wander towards a fractured blues in the ‘70s with MU, which saw him reconnect with Beefheart band member Jeff Cotton. Notably, Cotton was also briefly in Merrell & the Exiles, but wouldn’t become a member of Fapardokly proper. Nice to see this little gem back in print. Its probably not the most essential piece of the puzzle from the ‘60s but Fankhauser’s talent deserves a bit of a showcase. Well worth the time for Nuggets aficionados.



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Frankie & The Witch Fingers

Rolling like heat lightning across the plains, the caravan of Frankie & the Witch Fingers approaches. The mood is calm but practically fizzing with the electricity of anticipation and the promise of a connection to the cosmic crack in the sky that’s always layin’ just out of reach. The band, Shaman and Sidemen alike, is in touch with the soul-soaked vein of psychedelic rock that took lesser men in her arms and bent them past breaking. They don’t look shaken though – far from it, in fact. They’re steel eyed and poised for when the amps tap into the fragrant heat of divine rock n’ roll. Moreover, they’re ready to act as conduits for those willing to submit to the vibrations and open their brain to the next plateau.

The Witch Fingers’ latest is about connection, vibration, ephemeral truths. They’ve tapped into something primal and concrete that’s found its way foaming into the edges of psychedelic communities from Kesey’s barrel of Owsley augmented truth to the very last convulsion of the ayahuasca shakes. Brain Telephone is the key to the fifth dimension, an acid bath for the soul delivered in pulsating waves via fuzz guitar. It’s the band’s own I Ching for those who’d rather find their way through the keyhole via organ-laced sweat revival than in the spines of traditional text. Think of Frankie as your psilocybin Sherpas, your six-string snake healers, your sonic Ouija to the other side. They’ve peered around the corner and just want you to take their hand. You could do worse than to leap without looking. Rock n’ Roll is a cheap thrill born over a hundred times, but at least in this iteration its working to break free.


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The Schizophonics – “The Train”

San Diego’s Schizophonics tap the primordial soup that fuels the rawest riff on rock n’ roll – the kind that left crowds slack-jawed and jonesin’ after performances by The MC5 and their siblings in sweat, The Stooges. The Schizophonics pump that strain of heat through every inch of “The Train,” coursing 1.21 gigawatts of disjointed guitar fury through any speaker that thinks it has a shot to handle the noise. They’re picking up the mantle once held high by frayed freaks like The Sonics. They’re donning the cape and bending down to the same twisted Tiki God that bestowed King Kahn with the very tempest of Soul that infected James Brown and Little Richard before him. With no small amount of blood letting, they’ve caught the manic itch of rock’s own riotous ripple and they’re spreading it far and wide here. Their LP is out now on the famed Sympathy for the Record Industry, so dig in for a full helping.



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Biznaga – “Mediocridad y Confort”

Madrid’s Biznaga don’t spend time getting misty-eyed and mournful, saccharine or sweet, instead they’ve perfected the eighty pound pounce of punk via The Buzzcocks, The Undertones and The Clash. The opening cut off of their upcoming Sentido del Espectáculo on Slovenly bounds through the door at top speed and drags the place to hell before leaving you with the bill for cleaning. They have a handle on how to spin frustration and angst into fist-in-the-air anthemic punk pounders that feel necessary no matter what language you speak. The video for the “Mediocridad y Confort” posits the band as watching their song sung Karaoke from a tough-knuckled bar patron. The intense stares only make it hammer harder. Excited for this one, 2017 could use all the punk energy it can get.

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The Wead – “By The Whey”

So this one tows the line between re-released and the singles section, but small format is small format so here we are. Slovenly got their hands on these tracks by stroke of luck, hooked up by Cheater Slicks member Tom Shannon who met a member of The Wead during his stint as a clerk in Columbus, OH’s Used Kids Records. The double track of teen punk angst was given a sound upgrade and new garage punk snarl resulting in a double shot of snotty riffage that the world was sorely missing out on. The a-side is a rollicking bit of 60’s garage that spits and swings wild, but still has plenty of sweet vocals chiming before that solo tears the whole mess down. The band gets jangled and jostled on the flip, a strummer that pounds just as heard as the wilder seeming a-side. These kinds of finds are becoming fewer and further between, but knowing this kind of gem is still out there waiting makes it seem well worth flipping through countless reams of garage comps and rarities collections. Though maybe you just need to wait until life walks in and hands you an acetate across the counter.

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