Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Triptides – “See Her Light”

A shot of sunshine from L.A. psych-pop group Triptides lands via a new single on Greenway Records. The psych vets have been carving out their fuzz-pop niche for years and their songs always blow in on a breeze of gooey nostalgia and easy vibes. “See Her Light” kicks in initially as a hard driver until the midway point when it kicks into a baroque bridge and then just lays back into the surf to let the sun wash all over us. The accompanying video is stacked with beachside home video that leans right into the song’s Kodachrome kitsch. Not a bad way to enjoy the door to autumn as the weekend ekes open.



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Red Channel – “Demons”

Can’t go wrong with a new track on UK DIY powerhouse Upset the Rhythm and they’re offering up some prime post-punk/new wave goodness today. “Demons” is the first cut off the debut LP from L.A.’s Red Channel. The band has cobbled together an EP of stripped-down simmer that calls back to punk’s willingness to lop off the fringes. Atop a squirming beat the band backdrops the vocal magic of singers Melody and Casey who slash at singles from Blondie, The Go Go’s and We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and reassemble the pieces into their own image. The resulting track keeps its cool, never breaking a sweat but inviting dance and debauchery with a great detachment that pulls in some of their more Teutonic peers as well (Monopol, Starter). It’s a pulsating cut that positions the band as ones to watch indeed.



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The World – “White Radish”

The 2017 debut from Oakland post-punks The World was a biting and bouncy delight, invested as much in groove as it was in lyrical invective. As such, the news that the band has a new mini-LP coming out on new label, Microminiature, comes with great anticipation. The first cut off of that release hits today and “White Radish” is just as infectious as anything the band has done. With sharp shards of guitar, loping bass, a kitchen sink’s worth of clattering percussion and the sax squawks of the band’s Stanley Martinez, this one’s a keeper. File it next to great latter-day post-punk from Lithics, Vital Idles, Uranium Club, and Primo for maximum rhythm damage and keep an eye out for the mini-LP to land on March 20th.



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Frankie and the Witch Fingers

Frankie and the Witch Fingers have long found a home here at Raven Sings the Blues. From the garage gutwrench of Heavy Rollers to last year’s psych-soul shakedown, Brain Telephone, the band has been burning more ozone than most and I can’t get enough. Impressively, after that synapse-singer from last year, they’re back and burning on a bigger scale with a double LP for new home Greenway Records. The band doesn’t take a break it seems, and that urgency finds its way into the work. In fact, ZAM’s entire ethos is breathless in nature, boiling their fuzz-dipped licks into a psychedelic steam that’s born to singe.

Taking a few cues from fellow lysergic warlocks Oh Sees, the band is melting down details from Krautrock, funk, soul, psych, and space then ladling them into the loving cup atop the alter of Hawkwind. They’re irradiating the populace with enough high-beam hijinks and amplifier fry to bring on bouts of fuzz-fed hysteria and truth be told; the band has rarely felt more in their element. Barreling down Main like a Tarkus tripped out with half-stacks, rippin’ cracks in the pavement, ZAM is the maelstrom made flesh and set to scorch. This LP certainly isn’t made for mediation, so it’s best to buckle in. ZAM is made for mayhem and motion – grinding out grey matter melters with deadly precision on every track.

While the bulk of the album sees the band in full-form freakout, they do take things down every now and then, just to air out the fallout and survey the damage. The all too brief respites roll the record in a sultry scent of electric sex, slipping into the husk of rock n’ roll’s promise and pulling the straps tight. Thing is, ever time the band turns down the burner, you know they’re only waiting to grab the electrodes, double-charge the groove and send it tearing into town like an acid-fried golem. After an hour or so of psychedelic chaos, they slip off into oblivion and never look back. This is a record built on excesses and its all the better for never reigning in its scope. If you’re prepared to unlock a third, fourth and fifth eye and huff in the fever sweat of the soul, then look no further.




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Frankie and the Witch Fingers – “Pleasure”

Making the jump from Permanent to Greenway, L.A.’s consummate psych-smelters Frankie and the Witch Fingers give the video treatment to their new single “Pleasure” today. The song’s drawing on the same toast-cone overdrive that serves as the beating heart of so many loved lumps from fellow psych crawlers (see: Ty Segall and Oh Sees), but the band gives it an extra layer of leather n’ sleaze. Coming off of the ecstatic sweat revival of Brain Telephone, the band set themselves up a hurdle that was hard to hop, but “Pleasure’s” seething freak fuzz more than does the trick. There’s enough molten mayhem in this track to liquefy your speakers and they up the ante with a xeroxed S&M zine treatment on the video. If this doesn’t get you revved and ready for a new LP from the band, I can’t imagine what would. Long one of L.A.’s most criminally undersung acts, if you’ve been missing on Frankie in the past, I’d recommend getting down this time around.



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Grave Flowers Bongo Band – “Birds”

Hoover III member Gabe Flores strips back the psych to a warm sunny burble on his own Grave Flowers Bongo Band. The L.A. band whips up a psych-folk froth that brings to mind Fresh Maggots a young Bolan’s T. Rex before he found moniker brevity and cocaine. There’s definitely a beard of stars at work here, and true to their promise, bongos. On “Birds” the band adopts the “faded demo from the hip” approach that’s worked well for their contemporaries in Paint this year. On the track, the band feels far from the pounded pavement of their L.A. locale. Perhaps they’ve pushed out to the Canyon and beyond for an off-kilter psych soup that’s built from the static transmissions of Gary Higgins, Sam Gopal, Trees, and John Peel favorites Tractor. Like the best psych-folk this one’s wobbled off its axis and sticks around to delight all the way through. The LP lands in full on Friday via the good folks at Permanent.



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Paint

L.A.’s Allah-Las trade in their fair amount of ‘60s shaded nostalgia, and while they’re usually brimming with a decent dose of homegrown appeal, the solo stint from ‘Las guitarist and songwriter Pedrum Siadatian makes his mainstay sound positively modern by comparison. The faded photo trappings are most certainly by design. Siadatian is reaching for the hidden bins that house the hometapers, the 4-track quiet geniuses and the unstable imps of the acid-blotted paisley past. Helmed at the production desk by the similarly inclined pastiche painter Frank Maston, he crafts an album that seeps up from the humble hovels of R. Stevie Moore and F.J. McMahon sounding like its never seen so much as the door to a proper studio. That’s not a complaint mind you, the pair are aiming for a record that could easily slip between the cracked covers of the private press gold rush and blend in seamlessly and they’re pulling it off swimmingly. Siadatian’s clearly done his research and delights in creating something of a crumpled homage.

Paint catches the same prism-bent dusty sunshine that revs up the cardboard kaleidoscopes of Kevin Ayers, Danny Graham and Billy Nicholls. Siadatian makes it seem effortless, but I get a sense that he and Maston have gone to lengths to meticulously craft an air of economical wonder to match these low-key touchstones. Maston doesn’t push the project too hard, or imprint himself as heavily as one might imagine given his own passions for the past. Instead of coifing this record in lush brushstrokes of the Library psych he’s so fond of, he’s let the backroom hiss and bedroom sleepiness linger. Just because the mics are bedroom bound doesn’t mean this thing is totally sparse, though. The songs are still adorned with brain tangling backwards guitars, satin organs and flute swells, but the sounds are stuffed into the spectrum like they were tracked in tandem, stuffed into a third-floor apartment.

Paint has the feeling of a one-off curio, which are oftentimes the best records. It remains unclear if this is to become a new avenue for Siadatian in the long run, or just a way to shake out some private press psych impulses. Either way he’s ticking a lot of boxes on the RSTB favorites list and the album elevates itself to be more than just style over substance. It’s a well-conceived diorama of psych that creeps under the skin time and again.



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Anna St. Louis

Last year Anna St. Louis released a tape of striking, hushed songs on Woodsist’s small Mare imprint. They hinted at an accomplished songwriting talent and showcased St. Louis’ honeyed drawl, but the tape’s warm emersion in hiss and sunny afternoon vibes didn’t mark it as the kind of release that wrestled for constant attention. So, when her debut proper showed up in the inbox a few months back, I wasn’t quite prepared for the sucker punch to the gut it had in store. If Only There Was A River unfolds like a seasoned country-folk record, feeling classic and eternal like the kind of release that’s canon before it ever hits the shelves. It has an ache in its bones that’s raw and real, but St. Louis has wrapped the record in a lush warmth of an heirloom sweater pulled tight against the chill rolling across the plains. She’s teamed up with Kevin Morby and King Tuff’s Kyle Thomas to work the record into a bittersweet brilliance, gathering grey skies and painted sunset hues to color the spare, yet effective ambience around her tales of heartbreak and woe.

Most of the songs on If Only There Was A River have the kind of deep mournfulness and effortless age that seem like they might underscore a key scene in a Cohen brothers film. Her songs feel universal, timeless and torn in the way the catalogs of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Wanda Jackson often do. She’s most like Van Zandt, though, in her use of simple country cool paired with a just enough orchestration that a song feels gilded, but not so much that it feels gaudy. Van Zandt often chafed in this context. The production hung on him a bit loose, like a borrowed suit, but St. Louis is able to work the same juxtaposition to her advantage. She’s the kind that can walk into any vintage store and not only find something that fits well, but make it her own, casting out the ghosts of previous owners on her way out the door.

The album lends itself to multiple listens, touching different heartstrings each time it winds its way around the turntable. St. Louis’ vocals move from whisper to wrench over the course of the record. She’s a master of producing the pang that grips the guts and chokes back tears for undeserving lost loves. While the touchstones of the past cling to the edges of the record, it doesn’t feel like its looking back. She’s earning a place among albums that transcend eras and in that regard she’s positioning herself to stand alongside fellow L.A. troubadour Jenny Lewis as the kind of songwriter who is comfortable in her heartbreak and carving out a sound that eventually belongs only to her. This release is a large step in that direction and a highlight among 2018’s already stellar showing for music. With the arrival of If Only There Was A River it feels like St. Louis has gained a longstanding place among the artists that scar our souls over time.



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Sextile – “Spun”

Now paired down to a duo, LA’s Sextile have stripped back more than just their stage plot. The new EP pushes post-disco and post-punk down the same staircase, winding up a skin-tight dancefloor freak that’s bound to get sweat in everyone’s drink. They’re searching the same future free bins that have given license to NY’s Future Punx, sharing in their tattered silver lamé take on the synthwave riot. For “Spun,” though, the band push the fader further toward their punk impulses, reveling in the grime of their basest gutter scraping impulses. The song’s swathed in the kind of broken futurist visions that welcomed John Carpenter fans and oozed out of the margins of Cronengerg’s world. While the whole EP tends towards the dancefloor, the band feels more comfortable in the shadows.



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The Molochs

Quintessentially Californian – breezy, but flecked with garage gristle, soft baked twang, and a touch of sunshine strum – The Molochs burst out with their debut, America’s Velvet Glory, last year. It was a record that picked at the bones of a dozen personal favorites, but it seemed like the template for something better. That it was, and the band issues Flowers in the Spring as the smoother sipping, buttered-soul culmination of that they were going for on that debut. The record embraces the pop proper in garage pop, turning their latent VU impulses towards lusher waters. While wrapping up their ‘60s jangles in a touch of country sparkle they’re finding the dividing line between Nikki Sudden, ‘70s Flying Burrito Bros and the sorely missed strains of the Strange Boys.

Lucas Fitzsimons attempts a swipe at swagger that tries hard to cover up the vulnerabilities in his voice, but that bluff is all part of the charm. He’s full of bluster one minute, but journaling about it later with a wash of heat in his cheeks for his transgressions. Some of the best moments on Flowers are couched in the tender resolve – “And She’s Sleeping Now,” “A Little Glimpse of Death,” “Too Lost in Love” – here the band doesn’t worry about rock clichés and spends some time working on the minor details that make pop shine.

Skirting wide on the idea of a sophomore slump, The Molochs are, it would seem, just getting started here. This record has found its footing and ditched the confines of American Garage that dogged their debut. In indulging their pop sweet tooth the band has made a lasting impression and in turn bumped themselves out of the rut of the standard garage band.



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