Posts Tagged ‘Garage’

Mike Donovan

Mike Donovan’s post-Sic Alps trajectory has swerved through as many mangled twists as the Alps themselves. At heart, he’s a man that can’t be pinned, placarded, and cataloged like so many, instead preferring to douse his pop, psych, and noise with a deluge of bleach and sulphuric acid. Following the crunch n’ crumble attack of Sic Alps he fluffed his pop chops on his first solo LP, opting for a folk shuffle that bordered on simple sincerity. Likewise the first stretch as Peacers landed as a garage gem shot through with a reverence for the Velvets and Syd Barrett resting in the palm of each hand. The further he gets from inception, though, the more murky the visions become. Peacers’ second act was tied in knots and dosed to the collar in plastic foam and feedback flecks. His last solo LP was a view of the sky from the drain, a shut-in shimmy that left the fray of its housecoat in plain view.

So that brings us to Exubrian Quonset just a year later, sounding more like Sic Alps than Donovan has in a long time. The fuzz is at the forefront, and there’s that hot-footed sway that always gave the band their charms. Yet, going into a Donovan penned record, I’m always looking for that transcendent pop moment and that seems to be absent this time around. He’s usually got a damnable earworm packed in there somewhere, one that comes bursting from the buzz to knock the wind out of the listener. He’s pushing towards the light with the fluorescent flicker of “B.O.C. Rate Applied,” and its probably the most pop moment on the album, but even with a late night glow, it’s a different side of his pop canon. I’ll always be holding out for another WOT (the whole thing is nothing but these brilliant moments), another “L Mansion,” another “God Bless Her I Miss Her,” another “She’s On Top,” and that’s on me. Donovan seems to be swimming in the fray much more often these days, embracing his hackles more than his come-hithers.

I’m not gonna fault him. The fray has always been a portion of the equation, part and parcel with listening to any band he’s helming, but it was finding the surprise inside that always made me smile. For the fuzz farmers and wobble poppers, there’s still a lot of material to chew on here. It’s not circling the storm drain as hard as the last time around, but it does still seem to be looking up at the stars from the curb. Something in the record feels like Donovan is closing a chapter, like he’s tying up loose ends. This is, in fact, his leaving San Francisco record, so perhaps there’s just a weight on the record’s shoulders that’s too heavy for the buoyant bounce of his pop past.



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Wolfmanhattan Project – “Silver Sun”

Plenty to love in a band that comes packed with Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore), Mick Collins (Gories, Dirtbombs) and Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) and the band makes good on more than their past reputations with the single “Silver Sun.” Sounding like one of my favorite Mick Collins records, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey!, his Dirtbombs ode to bubblegum, the song’s not bogged down in the grit and garage blast that could easily come from any of the players involved here. It sparkles and swings. Its a sunshine strummer with a popcorn beat built for dancing. This one’s been building for quite a while, but seems to have dropped out of space with a release tomorrow. If the melted syrup choruses and laconic harmonies on this track aren’t enough to sell ya then I give up.



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Ty Segall & Freedom Band

The live album is a strange beast to master. As the dichotomy goes, they’re either proof that a band is a whole other animal in the room or they’re a runoff of company funds filling pockets of air between studio slabs. You’re either ponying up Live/Dead, Live at Budokon, or Last Waltz territory or hogging a heap of our precious time. The exception, perhaps being archival sets like Castle Face’s Live in SF series, but that’s more along the lines of a parting gift to those who were there and a tease to those who weren’t. Those are tantamount to official bootlegs and that’s a whole other discussion. Approaching a true live album takes a certain amount of bold confidence that the alchemy created in the room can crawl out of the speakers without necessitating the packed bodies, the magnetism of performers, and the glare of the lights. The notification that a beloved artist approaches the live album puts a lump in the throat, eh?

Then again, we’re not all casually calling up Steve Albini to run the tapes. We’re not all Ty Segall – long a live draw no matter what configuration has been hammering behind him. We don’t all have the Freedom Band at our beck and call, as heavy a crew as he’s had to tangle his tracks into fuzz-crusted chaos than ever before. Deforming Lobes is no schedule filler, it’s a testament to road-worn rock and the transformative power a room full of hungry hounds yowlin’ for Ty to turn his ecstatic catalog into a sonic assault. Its one of the rare instances that a live album warrants second and third listens.

What’s best said about the impact of the album is probably what he left out, rather than what he left in. For a man with a mile-long discography that hits a halt at his recently released nineteen-tracker, Freedom’s Goblin, the trackist is lean, scraping only eight tracks, with one of them a cover of the Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red.” With the opportunity to get indulgent, the band opts to cut their set down to a molten core, snagging tracks from only a handful of studio satchels and focusing in heavy on Emotional Mugger and Twins with each grabbing two tracks to represent. What they leave in they offer up as a volume-soaked proof of purchase, eight racks of unrepentant damage that leave a scorch mark on the turntable. I’ve seen Ty everywhere from a basement to packed 700-seater and this album hits like a shockwave to the sternum. It makes a good case for keeping the format around.



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Mystic Braves – “The Great Unknown”

Mystic Braves continue to sate with the singles slung from their new LP. Sweetening the pot, they give their latest track, “The Great Unknown,” a superb stop-motion video via animators Andrew Pitrone & Ignacio Gonzalez. The clip pairs well with the kaleidoscope cool of their jangle-pop throwback. Everything about the record wafts in on a California vibe of permanent summer with responsibilities left hangin’. Should be a good companion to the warmer months ahead. Check the video above.

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Shana Cleveland on Charlie Feathers’ – Tip Top Daddy

I’ve long been a fan of La Luz’ surf-soaked garage pop, and that’s in large part to the contributions to guitarist/singer Shana Cleveland. As she’s built up a body of work apart from the group, first with the Sandcastles and now standing alone with the imminent release of Night of the Worm Moon, she’s proving to be a nuanced and nimble songwriter capable of shaking off the both the garage and surf tags to explore waters well beyond her original launching grounds. I implored Shana to pick out a record for the Hidden Gems series that she though was a true hidden gem, lost to the ages and slipping between the cracks of culture. She’s chosen Norton’s roundup of Charlie Feather’s acoustic obscurities. Check out what brought this record into her life and what impact its had on her personally and artistically.

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Cherry Pickles – “Mais Rápido”

Perennially fun Swedish enclave PNK SLM kicks out a new track, “Mais Rápido” from London duo Cherry Pickles this week. The pair embraces an economical aesthetic, drawing on garage and punk bashed out without paying mind to fidelity or function. Two drums and an acoustic underpin squelching synths that dirty the track up with a whirlwind of chaos. Singer Priscila B belts the lyrics in her native Portuguese, barely tacked onto the track’s furious careen. The song dredges up images of house shows from ’86 or ’06, depending on where you’ve shifted in time. Catch the band’s upcoming LP on April 5th.


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The Coathangers’ Julia Kugel on Howlin’ Wolf – The Howlin’ Wolf Album

This year has been stuffed with great Hidden Gems and the latest continues the trend. After the release of one of their best album’s to date, The Coathangers’ Julia Kugel has passed along some wisdom from her own record shelves. If you’re unfamiliar with the band (which, frankly seems unlikely) their latest is a great place to start, boiling down their punk, post-punk, and garage impulses to a sound that’s serrated and sawing yet damnably hooky. The band is blessed with three strong songwriters, each bringing their own particular burn to the band and its great to get a look at what’s behind that burn, even just a bit. Julia chooses a conflicted blues classic for her entry. Check out her take on Howlin’ Wolf’s psychedelic period below.

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The Mystery Lights – “Someone Else Is In Control”

On their sophomore LP, The Mystery Lights scrape at several layers of the psychedelic onion. Lead single “Someone Else is in Control” locks a heavy chuggin’ beat to some Eastern sounds, feeling like Erkin Koray gone Krautrock. There’s more than a touch of menace in the slippery slides and hounding bass riffs that lock the track into place. Naturally the accompanying clip for the track is hazy and haunted, digging up all manner of psychedelic ephemera and throwing it at the lens. The new LP lands at Wick, which, while always overshadowed by the dank grooves of Daptone, is shaping itself up into a nice enclave of garage and power pop these days.



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POW! – “Disobey”

SF synth-punks POW! are back with a new LP for hometown powerhouse Castle Face and they’re leading into the album with new single “Disobey.” The track’s shredded and shambolic – dredging up shades of The Twinkeyz, Tubeway and The Units. They pair an insistent pummel with headspins of effects, guitars that unspool like discarded wire and the manic yelps of Byron Blum shaking listener’s out of their somnambulant safety. The cut’s got a paranoid core and like Timmy’s Organism or Mind Spiders, they’re not afraid to unnerve. Its just the tip of the future-fogged freakout, but good enough for now. Get jittery with the new track below.


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The Murlocs – “Withstand”

Another psych-blooze swinger drops from The Murlocs today along with the official announcement of their third album, Manic Candid Episode. The new track, “Withstand,” doesn’t soar for the Rocketman vibes that the band had touched on previously, but instead sees Ambrose and crew returning to their stable of gritty garage shakers peppered with tons of harmonica and a half-ton of sneer. The accompanying vid is notably more lighthearted than the murder-heavy clip that accompanied “Comfort Zone,” going for a psychedelic ‘70s kids show vibe with the green screen taking on a lot of the burden. To double the exciting news, the band is also reissuing their last couple of LPs, which were a bit harder to find here in the states. Both have new editions coming out through their American outpost at ATO. Manic Candid Episode is out March 22nd.



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