Posts Tagged ‘Garage’

The Total Bettys

San Francisco’s Total Betty’s are a country-tinged rock band masquerading in the skin of a garage-pop combo. Though they’ve picked up ranks at the always lovely Lauren Records, they’re skewing more grown up than many of their roster-mates and even their own name checked influences (Bully or Charly Bliss). In actuality the band lands closer to the catalog of Rilo Kiley, finding solace in Jenny Lewis’ wink laden pop docket, before she truly embraced her wandering country soul. The Total Bettys dig into the faded comfort and driving heart of Rilo’s indie past. More so, singer Maggie Grabmeier has a knack for hooking her thumbs into self-deprecation delivered with a touch of honey that can’t help but dredge up comparisons to Lewis.

Repeated listens open this up, not into the jangled garage nugget that it’s perhaps intended to be, but as a bittersweet summer road trip companion that pines for loves imagined and lost. Grabmeier acts as wing-woman and shoulder to lean on, delivering lyrics with a wry humor that’s handily packed into hooks that aren’t outsized, but rather sneakily subtle and seeping into your consciousness through the slight crackle of production that comes on like AM static. As a debut this feels like its just a peek at what Grabmeier and the band have at their disposal. With a larger scale production they could completely shake that garage tag (not that there’s anything wrong with it) and reach for lush hills that give her songwriting a bit more gravitas and still keep feet moving. Certainly a band to keep an eye on as the years click by, but this is lovely on its own merits.




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Dream Machine

Matthew Melton has proven nothing if not mercurial over the years. He’s always been a fixture of the kind of garage that’s beaten and bruised, though doggedly interested in the details. Emerging from the twin spires of smoke-choked garage – Snake Flower 2 and Bare Wires – he dove headlong into the pristine clean of Warm Soda’s power pop with occasional digressions back into garage in his solo work and with short-run stompers Pleasers. So here we stand again on the precipice of another change and this time Melton sheds a great deal of those garage pasts to embrace the blacklit arms of prog and proto-metal.

Along with his wife Doris, who steers the band’s distinctive organ sound, Melton and Dream Machine enter a black drape of dry ice and incense that’s dug deep into the prog mindset, snaking through the corridors of the ’70s on trills of organ that can’t help but bring to mind Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple or Rhinoceros. Doris’ vocals give Dream Machine a nice touch of soulfulness, and a dose of femininity that sometimes eludes Melton’s past projects. He’s often felt like a bastion for young men with record shelving conundrums and while this won’t necessarily scare that set off, it’s got a great deal to offer those that fall outside the devoted choir of believers.

The record even comes with a dive into heady human harmonics in the band’s insistence on re-tuning to accommodate brain-reactive frequencies. Check out their explanation on A=432 that swerves from Joseph Goebbles to The Four Yugas. All these trappings feel essential to their true progression to, well Progressive Rock. The album is, as with most Melton projects, a perfect encapsulation of genre. While there have been plenty of dogmatic psych albums made in the past couple of decades, this one feels like its filling a niche that’s been left behind. With the exception of Black Mountain, the bands that have embraced anything approaching organ-prog in later years get hung up in Rick Wakeman wankerisms that leave out the pelvic thrust at the heart of the original players. Dream Machine manages to ride the line between the dirty crawl of garage and the stadium-sized ambitions of the supergroup generation. You’re gonna want to grab the headphones and sink back in that beanbag for this one.




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Wyatt Blair – “Pop Your Heart Out”

Wyatt Blair’s power pop hockey stop Point Of No Return was a pleasant surprise from an artist devoted to outsized hooks and 200 SPF beach party vibes. So, it’s with equal pleasure that this one-off from Blair drops down into Volcom’s single’s cache as curated by Burger. The rest of the bunch is standard Burger fare, fun but not particularly bursting with fruit flavor. Blair, on the other hand, shows the rest how it’s done. “Pop Your Heart Out” is ten feet tall from the moment it hits and feels continuously like the epic finale of some sort of ’80s college film.

Somewhere between the bars John Cusack is finding resolve, Anthony Edwards is toppling the oppressive scowls of authority and/or Val Kilmer is filling some domicile with enough popcorn to burst a window. More likely though, I think Steve Guttenberg is smirking somewhere and just letting those guitars wash over him. That’s been Blair’s magic in his hi-fi incarnation, he knows just how neon to tint those guitars and synths. He knows just how huge the chorus has to be and then he aims higher. It’s pure cotton candy pop, but everyone likes a cheat day every now and again.




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Mountain Movers

New Haven’s Mountain Movers have been building out a homegrown psych scene since 2006, with releases swerving between hometown label Safety Meeting and their own Car Crash Avoiders imprint. Unless you’re digging into the New England psych pantheon rather heavily, this debut for Trouble In Mind might be their first blip into your world. The band has their psych credentials in order though, stretching out for a fourteen minute opener that flexes with tension and rains down a fair amount of feedback fallout.

The record doesn’t flag after the epic opener either, they flip the switch from walls of squall to echoplexed strums that hang on the air in icy tendrils. They pick up cues from the Nuggets set, but find a more languid purchase on “Everyone Cares,” a subdued standout that still finds time to chew a little fuzz. In fact, as the album progresses, their true strength seems to be balancing their ’60s jangle love with front row seats at Pompeii level burndown amp-friers. They’re always building to an entropy of noise release, but they spend some quality time getting to the punch in each of the tracks that adorn their eponymous LP. The band may have spent the past few years filling out local hangs, but this one might just raise their profile among heads looking for two sides of the of the psych coin packed into one platter.




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Dream Machine – “All For A Chance”

Matthew Melton’s shift to fog machine ’70s prog is perfected on Dream Machine’s upcoming LP The Illusion. Second video out of the gate follows the simple live band floating in color aesthetic, but it’s a perfect fit for the band’s brand of flashback psych. Feeling good about him retiring Warm Soda for this slice of family band FM groove. You can now nab the LP from Castle Face on Boysenberry Swirl, which sounds more like an ice cream flavor than a vinyl pressing, but looks just as sweet.



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Ty Segall – “Break A Guitar”

Hey I’ll take any opportunity to throw another heap of praise on Ty’s latest album and the new video for “Break A Guitar” is just another great collaboration with Segall’s video steady Matt Yoka. The swirling effects and Scanners ending make for a nice touch to the song’s stringent garage-psych. If you’re not already holding on to a copy of the new eponymous LP, then maybe its time for a shopping trip.



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White Bleaches – “Mystery Child”

Melbourne’s Mystery Child come with a crack team behind the boards (King Gizz’ Stu McKenzine recording/Mikey Young mastering) and they deliver on the hopes of those that have taken them in. Their latest single has a loose-slung garage-surf feel to it that’s just the right combination of shaggy and catchy. The a-side drops a fuzzed out groove with sun in its hair and a dark ripple snaking through the bass. You can feel the Gizzard influence, but they’re definitely keeping things restrained, no J Dwyer howls blistering the paint, just smoke ring cool with a dash of psych sneer. They actually find a lot of common ground with Black Lips during their Ronson days to drop a point of reference. The flip is a bit lighter in tone, with a pop top beat that shakes the shutters and makes for a beachside highlight when paired with the tanned to distraction vocals that fleck the track. Not a bad showing. Hopefully they keep the tech team in tact and turn this momentum into a full length for Flightless. Aussie garage psych that’s bone-dried and best here.




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Los Tones

Syndney four-piece Los Tones lay down a twang-slung vision of garage rock as filtered through the ghosts of The Blues Magoos, The Electric Prunes and The Monks, but hewing closest to the cracked world view of The Seeds. On a more contemporary note they share common ground with Night Beats and fellow Aussies The Murlochs but that’s all just to get you in the right longitude of where the band is coming from. They’re running the fuzz high and hectic, and binging on surf vibes sanded into a rough-cut leather lacquer. Every track on What Happened feels like it would benefit handily from a psychedelic oil light show and at least a pint of Wild Turkey and best of all, the band feels like they’re having a hell of a good time.

It goes without saying these days that garage swagger has seen generation after generation embrace the twin tone irreverence of a sneer and a throaty howl, but that’s not to say that it can’t still hit just as hard. You’ve been down these roads before but that’s discounting how much fun is to be had with Los Tones on the speakers and tomorrow’s consequences far out of mind. I will always have a soft spot for the kind of garage record that keeps a glint of mischief in it’s eye. So, that said, feel free to crawl into last night ‘s clothes and grab Zombie (in requisite Tiki cup) and get things up to full torque for this album. Los Tones seem like they’re more interested in keeping the vibes toasted than worrying if you feel like it’s all been done before. It’s being done right and that’s all that matters.




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Feral Ohms

Not one second of Feral Ohms’ debut lets up. The trio doesn’t give the listener a minute to catch a breath, and thank the Norse gods of thunderous destruction for that. It’s an acid bath for the soul of the universe, stripping away layer after layer of tar long since calcified and crusted into the shape of society. It appears that Ethan Miller has returned to the his position as frenetic lightning rod for amp fired chaos and it’s damn good to have him back slinging scorch. The world needs this eponymous long player more than we could ever know. As mentioned here previously, Miller found solace away from the white ball of fury that burned bright in Comets On Fire, but began a creep back with Heron Oblivion last year. Feral Ohms asserts his permanence in the pantheon of psych.

The band’s been building a clutch of singles since around 2013, but it wasn’t until Castle Face prefaced the album with a live shot that they sprang into wider consciousness. All of the live cuts find their way onto the album as well as the majority of their singles, albeit re-recorded with a technical lineup that speaks to a top tier of heavy psych sound work (Eric Bauer, Phil Manley, Chris Woodhouse and JJ Golden). It’s very possible that repeated spins of the album could melt speakers into a twitching puddle of gelatinous matter. That’s not even hyperbole, I’m worried about your system. Baton shit down and buckle up. 2017 has proven that despite long lingering reports to the contrary, the guitar still has a place of vitality in music. Few other albums assert this as definitively as Feral Ohms.





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Meat Candy – Pursuit of Sounds

London’s Meat Candy don’t exactly exude Englishness. In fact their debut 12″ feels every bit like it should be coming out of L.A. at this particular moment in time. They’ve adopted the fuzzed delivery; psych nuances and classic touchstones that Wand, Mind Meld, Ty Segall, Meatbodies and the like have been digging their nails into over the past few years and they’ve done their homework well. They trend towards the spacier end of the spectrum, embracing a good keyboard breakdown amidst the rumble and froth, setting them floating into the sunstreaked ether. The two shot of a 12″ that they volley out on Dirty Melody is as polished a gem of psych smeared vision as you’re likely to hear this week, though part of me feels a good producer on their side could push their sound into an even higher plateau. However, this is entirely promising and poised to make me think a full album could elevate their game. I could easily see them embracing concept and drive like a young Secret Machines. They earn themselves a spot on the radar if nothing else.



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