Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

Kool Aid – “Family Portrait Revisited”

Some new activity bounding out of Christchurch’s always entertaining Melted Ice Cream collective. The NZ label’s always a beacon of consistency and they pick up a new cut from Kool Aid (formerly Brian Tamaki and the Kool-Aid Kids) and its a faded track full of sun-in, bleary indie ramble. “Family Portrait Revisited” sways in the breeze, lays in the cool parched meadow and squints at the sun for a spell. The songs got a built in breeziness and a touch of summer sweat on the surface. Hoping this is a lead up to a full album because this one is too good to just leave us all hanging. Pick up the single over at MIC’s bandcamp now.



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Dommengang

On their third album Dommengang still navigate the causeway between psychedelic blues and the frayed edges of harder rock, but this time they’ve added a looseness to their sound that breaks the lash that held them to a more regimented past. While they used to bump into the bluster of metal, this time around they’re cooling their sound into something more cosmic, and it feels like the piece of the puzzle they’d long been missing. Tim Green, again at the boards, gives the album a spaciousness that floats on the air like steam n’ sweat in the crisp morning air. The album is perched in permanent golden hour hues, with the songs coming on like a third beer swagger that melts the weight of week away.

That cosmic crash doesn’t crest too early. The band opens with “Sunny Day Flooding,” which ties the knot between last year’s Love Jail and the new album’s woollier ways. Then they ease into the tangerine drip of guitars on the back end of “Earth Blues.” Just towards the last solo you can feel the band loosen. It’s a respite before they kick the crunch back on but there’s a collective sigh between the notes. Sig Wilson’s playing on this one is his best yet, burning ether and ozone, getting lost in the smoke curls for more than a moment. The last album evoked the West, and the band’s move towards L.A., but this one embraces the desert as well as the lusher confines of the coast. There’s a touch of Big Sur in the gnarled drags on “Kudzu.” It’s a relief that tumbles down in a gush of guitar, quenching the soul of the parched sounds of their past.

This, along with the Crazy Horse burn that permeates and pounds through the heart of “Jerusalem Cricket,” gives the band a wild-eyed, crooked grin gravitas that they embody with ease. As Dommengang crunch into the loose gravel groove of the latter half of No Keys they position themselves to embrace the crux between David Nance, Chris Forsyth, and Endless Boogie. It’s a welcomed shift and one I hope they continue to mine for more material. That said, even with No Keys acting as an album in transition, the moments that burn bright tend to light up the horizon with a most inviting glow.



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RVG – “Alexandra”

Skidding into a US tour, Aussies RVG are back with a new single that finds them comfortable in their velvet cushion of sound that wavers between Echo and the Bunnymen, The Church, and Love and Rockets. “Alexandra” retains the band’s emphasis on sweeping drama, mirroring Echo’s knack for riveting swells and invoking anguish as a genre unto itself. Amputated from a larger narrative of an album the song’s more of a primer for those who might have missed out on their excellent, and still underrated debut. If this one catches your ear, its recommended you go back to the crushed eyeliner and rain of that eponymous gem.

The b-side sees the band take on mid-period John Cale, giving a dose of urgency to his ’85 deep cut from Artificial Intelligence. Vager’s vocals do well for the song, perhaps taking a bit of license with the original’s more buttoned-down approach, but she’s does plenty to make it her own. The band pumps the song full of the same sense of urgency that they employ in their own works. With all due respect to Cale, its actually a great argument for covering your heroes, as they give the song quite a bit more gravity than the original ever had. Nab this double cut, definitely see the band if they swing through your area.




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Olden Yolk

On their sophomore album Olden Yolk solidify their folk-pop sound, edging in a touch more of the soft-focus psychedelia that graced their first while embracing the rhythmic pulse pounding under their gauzy glow. The band shares a great deal in common with Shane Butler’s former haunt in Quilt, but they’re drawing deeper into the damp depths of ‘60s psych than Quilt’s sunny veneer ever let on. With this new album they’re picking up similarities to Sunforest, Euhoria, and Sapphire Thinkers giving their sound a lushness that’s even more present than the last outing. Like bygone autumnal strummers Ultimate Painting, they’re burrowing into melancholy with a wholeheartedness that reverberates throughout Living Theater. This doesn’t land them in the bell jar, but perhaps perches them just adjacent, making charcoal sketches of said jar to send to pen pals who sigh like they sigh.

In fact, autumnal is the wrong word, if anything Olden Yolk are vernal and all the better for the May release of their latest record. They oscillate between streaks of rain and scattered beams of sun in mercurial moments between the album’s ten tracks. The best songs here (and its hard to choose) embrace both halves of their split souls. “Grand Palais” is a particular stunner, edging into the light on tip-toes but heading into its skid spinning ‘round and ‘round until the air becomes dizzy. “Cotton and Cane” is the band at their most pop, pinning poetry on loss to a careening crackle and a perfect vocal dance between the leads.

The songs take on their heaviest cloak when Caity Shaffer steps up to the microphone, though. Soft flutes and a gentle nudge of bass huddle behind her while she croons contemplatively on “Distant Episode,” the song palpably drizzling with tenderness. She’s equally heartbreaking on “Castor and Pollux,” a haunting tale of indecision and loss. The air of duality remains a glorious constant on Living Theater the singers’ intertwined voices and the bittersweet vibes following the tides between joy and sadness like the soft quiver of a diaphragm before weeping. The debut was an excellent introduction, but with album number two, Olden Yolk plead to be on your list of 2019 essentials.



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Olden Yolk – “Grand Palais”

The second album from Olden Yolk continues to sparkle with a new single, “Grand Palais,” today. Not as driven and direct as lead single, “Cotton & Cain,” this shows a bit more of the band’s West Coast psych lineage. The band lays back into the froth of fuzz riffs and bouncing acoustics before that the sunset slide into twang following the chorus. The song’s bolstered by cap gun blast percussion and the soft sighs of Caity Shaffer wafting on the breeze before its submerged in a haze of sound and soul as it draws to a dizzying close. The band continues to push their folk-pop just up to the edge of psychedelic pool without letting the waters stain them too deeply. Each new offering from them is a giddy delight, placing the record far up the list of essentials for 2019.

The band’s taking the record on the road with Ryan Jewell and Frank Maston on board in the band, which is another great reason to get excited!



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Sacred Paws – “How Far”

On their sophomore LP, UK duo Sacred Paws continues their thread of simple, yet sunny indie pop. “How Far” practically skips into the room on its acoustic strums, twirling in the sunlight like a kid let out of school early. The song’s so loose and airy it barely has bones but the pair keep it together with the charms of vets who’ve been honing their pop pedigree longer than their years would let on. The song approaches the edges of afrobeat before pulling back towards the indie-pop garden and the skittering lilt that guitarist Rachel Aggs adds to the song’s burbling beat is all the better for it. Definitely looking forward to this album as it rolls out from the band May 31st.




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Kevin Morby

Within the songwriter/downtrodden troubadour ranks Kevin Morby has become a constant confidant. His literate drawl draws out this generation’s atrocities like venom from a bite. His guitars are slung loose and limber, right up until they light a fire under your feet. He’s always had something of a spiritual bent, not religious mind you, but there are some songwriters whose poetry reaches the pulpit without seeking to save. Seems he’s just now embracing it as well and thus, Oh My God is born. The album is a shift for the songwriter, pushing his guitar to the side in favor of a wiped whiteboard relatively free of jangle and strum (though a few solos still crinkle the kindling here and there). In place of his usual tangle there’s a folkloric spread, thrown wide to the panorama of sound – horns hum, flutes tan the timbres, pianos pound from barroom to bedroom and choirs seem to fill the fields rather than the pews of his songs.

There album is conceptually spiritual, seeing the title’s phrase as not a vanity taken lightly, but a hosiah of faith – a mantra that brings us closer in times of calamity. Morby spends the majority of Oh My God helping his flock find the dock in a flood that threatens to consume us all. If ever there was a year for a plea to the powers that be, whether cosmic or of the cloth, it might be 2019. Morby connects to the idea of faith and keeps it a thread in the album’s twisting narrative. His faith isn’t necessarily in the god that pops up in picture books and Sunday service, but a faith in people, faith in art and beauty, faith in the ground beneath his feet, even when he’s 30,000 feet above it.

Woven within his spiritual tableau is a thread of dreams, a waking life conversation with himself that feels hallucinatory. Within Oh My God there’s a Lynchian grandiosity, an idea that what’s been perceived as real may just be reflections and that modern ghost, fables, and prophecies might just be the ones out to get us all along. It’s a big, bold move from Morby and one he pulls off with grace and gravitas. For a weighty double LP, there’s no strain to work your way through his opus, even as the themes turn dark. As he touches on gun violence, the erosion of environmental security, the absurdity of life, the friction of banality, and the overcast certainty of death we’re all there swaying in the circle with him. In these end times the church walls have come crumbling down and whether we know it or not, we’re all part of the church of daily atrocity humming the hymns on a subconscious level. Morby’s just pressing play on the recorder to save it for posterity.



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Drugdealer

The second LP from Michael Collins under the Drugdealer moniker refines, redecorates, and relaxes in the studio-rat 70’s foxhole he’d dug for himself on his debut. After his psych soft launches in Run DMT and Salvia Plath, Drugdealer has become Collins’ haven for outsized ‘70s pop and he’s attracted similar-minded slick travelers and psychedelic savants to come and lay their lacquered licks, honeyed vocals, and perfectly coifed contributions onto his pop vision. So, naturally, frequent collaborator and fellow master of ‘70s AOR brilliance Natalie Mering (Weyes Blood) drops in for a vocal contribution on “Honey.” Harley Hill-Richmond (Harley and the Hummingbird) adds a Laurel Canyon sunset to “Lonely” and country crooner Dougie Poole shifts “Wild Motion” into a down gear that freezes the album’s honey into an amber-hued heirloom that almost pops it into a permanent soft-focus time delay.

Collins’ dedication to a more opulent time in pop music is admirable if also indulgently nostalgic. Songs like “Lost In My Dream,” with their horn stabs and hammock sway could easily hang with contemporary(ish) travelers like Sloan or Jenny Lewis. Those artists have found their footing in lush productions that tend to feel timeless, but despite protestations Drugdealer almost always conjures up the past. There’s a feeling that you’ve heard Collins’ songs somewhere before, but the exact names seem lost in a wood-paneled labyrinth of memories that keep the references from pushing just past the tip of your tongue. Still, if Collins and his crew weren’t so good at what they do, they wouldn’t be able to pull it off at all.

Aside from his kindred spirit Mering, Collins has been in the orbit of Ariel Pink (who doesn’t show up his time around) and Mac Demarco, who finds his way behind the boards to give the album its late-night luster. The spirit of all of those artists has long been to whittle their own images out of vintage wood and with Raw Honey Drugdealer is proving to be a contender among any of them. But for an album that’s dressed up as the kind of studio campout that Brian Wilson once shepherded, the record could use just a little tightening at the seams. It often feels like a soundtrack with some truly golden cuts sprinkled in, but it also chafes in the same way. Collins is becoming more confident as the focus of his albums, but he still hands over the reigns a bit too often to guest vocalists. It would be great to keep the momentum built through the run of songs 2-6, or even go all-in on a full collaboration between Drugdealer and Weyes Blood. The future will tell what’s next, but for now Raw Honey offers up some future lost classics drifting on a sea of AM static.



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Drugdealer – “Honey”

The second single from the sunset slathered new LP from Drugdealer reaches out this week and it features a vocal contribution from his longtime collaborator Weyes Blood. The pair have always managed to shift time in a way that drapes the listener in memories of the past without truly succumbing to the kitsch of nostalgia. It’s the feeling of childhood FM radio as you fall asleep in the car with the sun on your face – a sense of coming home, safety, security, serenity. There’s more than a little George Harrison coursing through the strings here and Collins lays out an inviting musical landscape for Natalie Mering to luxuriate in. Her vocals here, as on her own eternally classic compositions, are tinged in sepia tones and tugging at the emotions like a permanent lump in your throat. Mering is just one of a few great vocal ringers that Michael Collins employs on his latest album, which is proving to be his most complete and immersive album to date. Pick it up from Mexican Summer on April 19th.



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Lucille Furs

Chicago’s beat/psych revivalists Lucille Furs send their ’60-dripped pop on export for their latest album, getting a release from French Magazine and boutique label Requiem Pour Un Twister. The pairing seems like a perfect fit. While Chicago’s got a thriving garage scene, there’s something about their lush, starry-eyed pop that seems like it must come from somewhere other than the heartland. The exact mix here shifts like a kaleidoscope and remains a bit hard to pin, but it seems like they might have tripped through London on their way to meet up label heads in Paris. Other than the strong twinge of British Invasion kicking through, the band rifles through a half-stack of your favorite psych-pop touchpoints – swooning over Blossom Toes, Billy Nicholls, and The Pretty Things with some more high-minded harmonies that dip into Nuggets fodder like The World of Oz, Mortimer, and anything connected to Curt Boettcher.

Yet the strongest wafts seem to come from their penchant for dragging all these bits through the silken brambles of Jacques Dutronc and Serge Gainsbourg. These overtones make the Francophile connection all the more understandable. They share both artists’ love for the deeper blades of grass, wrapping their pop in swirls of sound that envelop in verdant tones. That doesn’t leave them swimming in symphonics though, like Dutronc, they know when to swing and when to swoon and they tend towards the former over the bulk of Another Land. The band’s definitely grinding up the past to mix their paint, but rather than recontextualizing it like Temples or Morgan Delt, they’re often painting masters in shifted hues. That’s not to say that their referential tendencies haven’t produced an album that’s a fun ride all the way through. There’s a lot of tip-of-the-tongue, back-of-the-mind moments but the band’s accomplished enough to make their pastiche play perfectly.




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