Posts Tagged ‘Garage’

Simply Saucer – “Lo-Fi Garage Symphonette”

As reissues begin to mount interest in bands the next stage brings the inevitable rumblings of reformation. For fans that missed out on the live shows of ‘blink and you miss ‘em’ bands this is sometimes a godsend, though it also holds the possibility of besmirching a tight catalog with an experience that can’t hope to live up to the originals’ weight. Its with such weight that bands also embark on the endeavor to extend the catalog. It’s a hard rope to cross without leaning too far into imitating one’s prime or updating it into something that’s well out of the scope of what fans came to hear. Canadian psych obscurities Simply Saucer have been having a year full of reissues and they now come to the precipice of adding to the conversation with new works.

Their first single in 40 years ropes in two original members along with studio friends and Jesse Locke (Century Palm, Tough Age) who has been instrumental in getting the band’s work back out to the public. The songs are sown from their same well of weirdness, though it’s clear in their present state they’re working with much better equipment than the machines that wrought Cyborgs Revisited. With the technical upgrade comes some wish fulfillment in fleshing out their sound with a battery of keys and backup vocals. They don’t push too hard into making it a recording “of its current time,” so it sits well with their back catalog, but it loses a bit of the immediacy and electricity of something like “Bullet Proof Nothing” and neither captures the off the rails quality inherit in “Instant Pleasure.”

That said the single’s not without its charms and indeed its not an addition that falls into the besmirch category. 40 years is a lifetime and that the band still have some of the same tinfoil wobble that blew through their amplifiers when they stood on the edges of punk is a testament to their core. “Alien Cornfield,” taken without expectations and stripped of associations is a prime slice of sci-fi garage, though “Lo-Fi Garage Symphonette” gets a bit grandiose for my taste. Regardless, its good to have the band back in the public eye. As I mentioned with the reissue, they’re an essential piece of the psych-punk lineage.



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Baby Blue – Do What You Like

Melbourne’s Baby Blue tap into a mournful ‘60s pop that swings between grey-skied girl group melancholy and a tough-kneed brand of garage pop. The band’s Rhea Caldwell packs a sharper punch on their sophomore outing, a five-song EP that employs some nice gloss touches that distance them from the bulk of their Aussie indie compatriots. Do What You Like finds more in common with West Coast US stompers like Bleached, though they share a great deal of crossover with fellow Aussie RSTB faves Bloods as well, putting them in good company.

While the breezy pop of opener “I Like You” feels pleasant, but overly familiar, the EP works its into darker dens as it wears on – adding a dark, caustic bite to “Dream Life” and a touch of progressive propulsion to closer “Fire and Ice.” Caldwell’s got her head ‘round the hooks but its when she adds power and darkness to her bag of tricks that the songs begin to stand out. If the standouts here are an indication of where the band is headed, then we should all keep an ear perked for Baby Blue’s next move.



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Beach Skulls – “Sacred Citrus”

Manchester garage slingers Beach Skulls have popped up here in the past with their low-slung, amp-fried pop nugs. They’re at it again with “Sacred Citrus” from their upcoming PNKSLM LP and it continues the tradition of swagger-addled garage-pop that they’ve made their bed in over the years. The track trades in hammock-swung vibes of calmly festering fuzz and rumbling toms then slides into a fiery chorus that’s tipping the sweat gauge a few notches harder. The push-pull makes for a nice dynamic positing this as a summer soother that’s more aloe and ice crush than high octane workout.



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The Buttertones

L..A. foursome Buttertones have been working their way through the chutes and ladders of indie garage for some time now, looking for their place in a sweatbox scene that’s crowded at best. Following up on Gravedigger, they look to the oil slick riffs and curled sneers of The Cramps, Gun Club, Hasil Adkins and maybe even a touch more Cramps (for good measure) as their inspiration. Rolling their hip-slung swagger in twang worthy of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and gripping an ace horn section to fatten things out, the band hangs a crisp white collar on typically dirty linen. Their clean lined delivery pines like Nashville looking down Memphis way. They’ve got the studio set up right, the moves practiced until they’re seamless but they need to scuff the tape and aim the dial towards the red to really push this sound into its comfort zone.

Like their labelmate Nick Waterhouse, they’re adept at emulating eras and tone and for what its worth they find purchase in some genuinely fun moments here – the Lux Interior grease stain hop of “Baby C4,” the lounge comedown of “Don’t Cry Alone” – but something in the margins feels like for all The Buttertones’ bravado they’d probably blanche at trying to bum a smoke off of Nick Cave. When you name a song “You and Your Knife” there needs to be a feeling that the danger is real, and even though the rumble on Midnight In a Moonless Dream is more Jets vs. Sharks than Warriors vs. Rogues, they give the danger enough spark to feel fun. The band clearly know which shelves in their collection hold favorite LPs and they’re making the stretch to try to hit the marks. Might just need a few more scraped knees to pull off the darker direction, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless.



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The Sueves

Still plenty to love in the Chicago punk scene these days and the sophomore LP from The Sueves proves it. There’s a slight bump up the clarity counter from their debut, and yet this new record is still torn and tattered and ripped to shreds in all the right places. The band’s core is a visceral gut punch, relying less on hooks than on the lock top drumming of Tim Thomas (formerly of Heavy Times) and a few chemical burn guitars to get the point across. That’s not to say there aren’t any riffs slicing through R.I.P. Clearance Event, there are plenty, but the band utilizes them like a saw blade, tearing at the listener with their insistent teeth.

The Sueves have studied up on their Stooges, their Hot Snakes and their Seeds catalogs, borrowing heavily from the wild man aesthetic and turning sweat into joy over the course of these some sixteen tracks. Songs swerve and duck and shimmy as the album works its course, fighting not to be pinned down. They relent the hammer down determination a few times and let through a smirk on “Slammer” and rope in the barroom crowd for “What They Did,”- sounding not unlike The Strange Boys for a bit – but otherwise this is a breathless buncha bashers. Good for what ails ya, and ready to rumble when you are, R.I.P. Clearance Event leaves a few turf marks on the turntable to be sure.




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The Buttertones – “Baby C4”

So The Buttertones have been lurking around for some time and always on my periphery, but I’ve chalked them up to the bin of bands that tick of a lot of my normal musical triggers but never seem to get it together in a way that excites me. I have to say, I’m making an exception for the first single off of their upcoming, Midnight in a Moonless Dream. “Baby C4” is coming on strong like a deleted Cramps outtake, if The Cramps had spent more time drinking with The B-52s. It’s not a rote bit of garage, but rather a snarling, slicked and flexing piece of rockabilly chocking down exhaust fumes and preening for a paycheck. I’m hoping this doesn’t end up an outlier on the new album, but rather an embrace of underbelly aesthetics that bite to scar.




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Ty Segall & Freedom Band

As January rolls around each year, it seems that it’s becoming an expected event for Ty Segall to roll out a full length that’s wrapped in his latest personal stamp. The rest of the year is packed with personal projects, side endeavors, producing, and guest spots, but January is where the big statements get laid down. Last year he teamed up with Steve Albini for a record that tempered the fire for some true pop moments. The year prior he’d burnt down all pop notions for a record that embraced the squirm under the skin. This year he unfolds his double-size gonzo gatefold vision of rock history and it’s supremely satisfying.

Freedom’s Goblin not only culls from Segall’s own personal rock alters, with Bolan boogie butting heads with ten tons of pelvis shakin’ riffs, it acts as a bit of a celebration of rock’s excess and endurance in general. The album does its best to let glam stomp rest easy alongside the AOR country of The Band. It repurposes the disco-funk of Hot Chocolate as a companion piece to Contortions-style skronk. It swaths punk’s pummel in the chirping headspins of psychedelia, breaking down the nugget of rock ‘n roll into heavy-panting visions of fret board mayhem doused the hot house sweat of soul-worn horns.

The core of Freedoms Goblin is that it embraces the notion of making a big record. Not that Ty hasn’t made a proper, heavy studio affair in the past, there’s no denying that fact – but what defines this record is its vastness, its heaviness, its excess, and its embrace of those qualities. That’s not to call this a bloated record, on the contrary, it’s stuffed but not waddling from its own indulgences. Instead FG is a house party with a curatorial ear on the DJ, building out a record that unfolds like someone relishing their ability to collect the skattered pieces of recorded history and reinvest those sounds in new songs.

There’s a cracked glee to the record that feels like Segall may never have had this much fun cobbling together an album. In a year that also boasts a record from rock’s own anointed king, Jack White, I think that Ty might have just gone and stole fire for Olympus with this one. He’s proved he’s not only worth mentioning in the same breath as the established court of “rock’s saviors” he’s worthy of topping the list.




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Booji Boys

Usually it’s time to lull into that nook of time between end of year lists and the first creaks of January releases, but looks like 2017 still had some fight left in her with the release of Booji Boys’ latest LP on Christmas Day. The second record from the Halifax band sees them careening down a similar speed curve as their past work – somewhat out of control, mussed, fussed and finding solace in those cracks that appear in their veneer. The band might take some naming influence from Devo, but sonically they’re ripped from a crud-fi, 8-track version of pop-punk that straddles garage like a well-worn saddle. They bang these tunes out like a mid-90s band cramming as many tracks as possible onto both sides of seven inch for gas money and it sounds great to hear them go for it.

Maybe that’s what’s most endearing about the band, they’re not busting the bar or breaking any molds but they have a tenacity about them that’s stuffed full of pure nostalgia for skate-punk youth. They feel like old friends who just never grew up. Though, by the end of Weekend Rockers even they prove that’s not entirely true. They stretch out on a seven-minute rocker that’s full of twists and turns beyond the 1 1/2 minute hook hump that they’re often hugging. They claim some influence from prog-punk kingpins Fucked Up, though they fall a bit short of the fellow Canadians’ scope. Still, Weekend Rockers winds up a solid slapshot to the skull and as good an album as any to get the blood flowing in these cold, doldrum days.




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Lars Finberg

Remember how a certain T. Segall has been dropping some coarse post-punk nuggets, with a heaping helping of Mikal Cronin squalling on the sax? Seems like perhaps those choice moments might have found some incubation in Segall’s collaboration and production of Lars Finberg’s new LP. The first solo outing from Finberg comes late into a career as a noise-pop and garage go-to – holding down time in The Intelligence, A-Frames, Wounded Lion and Thee Oh Sees. However, he seems perfectly at home with his name above the marquee and hunkered down with his cadre of collaborators. The LP isn’t wholly absent from the space that The Intelligence has occupied, but Moon Over Bakersfield certainly hits its own marks, spreading roots into alien punk and acerbic post-punk with equal zeal.

Finberg feels like he’s sinking into a comfortable relationship with discomfort here, doing his best to unseat pop’s stranglehold on indie as often as possible. The record revels in acid-washed sax, dissociated vocal effects and claustrophobic atmospheres, but it also locks down a serious addiction to groove. Finberg rides the bass like a guiding light, peddling rhythm grunged by a heaping helping of distortion as a daily fix. He’s peeling back the skin on his past and letting the sulfur burn away at the tissues of 2017 in a way that’s as addicting as it is unsettling. If you’ve only met Finberg tangentially prior, it’s time to hit him head on.




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Ty Segall – “The Main Pretender”

Gettin’ hard to resist these Segall gems, dropping almost bi-weekly now like a necessary dosage. The latest pushes aside the laconic cool of “My Baby’s On Fire” for a fever-sweat vision of glam that’s panting with weird lust and shaking with crossfired nerves. It’s an infected descendant of Roxy-era sleaze-rock taken to the logical extreme. Mikal Cronin returns to blow sax on this one, but this time he isn’t providing mere sunset accompaniment to Segall’s house-light comedown, not in the slightest. This time he’s out for blood and bile, cutting through the riffs with a serrated groove that’s sharpened its spines on the back of James Chance’s singular vision from years before. There have been some choice cuts in this multi-hued basket of treats, but none have lacerated like this.




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