Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Business of Dreams

Taking a sidestep from the crunch-pop of his day gig in Terry Malts, Corry Cunningham dives longingly into synthpop with convincing conviction. The eponymous album, released on his own imprint, Parked In Hell, captures an aesthetic that mines the early aughts’ love for the mid-80s. He’s got all the right hints of smeared window pane synth, 2 A.M. headspace-wandering jangles and lightly lapping beats that nudge the feet forward but don’t inspire any dance breakouts. Now on their own, those are hallmarks that dog-eared many acts in the wake of Ben Gibbard’s sudden affection for crying over keys vs. strings, and the shift has clotheslined many well-intentioned songwriters over the years. But getting it right, without feeling overly sappy or bogged down in influences takes a hard case.

Cunningham brushes off the flys of doubt, divining the core melancholy that makes this sort of synthpop work and he combines it with an approach that goes for subtlety over flash. He’s not necessarily reaching for hits territory, but he’s found a home between texture and temperance. The record winds up as aural comfort food, a smirking nod to those that always return to certain corners of the Factory, Creation and Sarah Records shelf when things look dour. In that regard I think the only true praise here is just a wordless nod in the night as we pass Cunningham walking around, hat pulled tight and breath rising cold into the street lamps. He might be right, “the world wasn’t made for us.”



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Bleached – “Can You Deal?”

Bleached are back and frankly I’m ready! Although its been less than a year since the release of Welcome The Worms, that album provided so much earworm-Summer-mixtape fodder that its nice to have even a short form offering on the table. The EP coincides with the band touring with punk legends The Damned and in addition to the digital version the band has put together a zine with contributions from Liz Phair, Jane Wiedlin of The Go Go’s, Mish Way of White Lung, Tegan Quin, Hinds, the band members themselves and more. The proceeds of the zine will all go to Planned Parenthood. As for the first track, it’s the band giving their towering vision of alt-rock a little dreaminess in a lyrical ode to letting someone love you for who you are and never compromising. Its definitely full of fun but the “fuck off and let me be me” attitude exemplifies the project’s mission. A good one for a good cause. What’s not to love?




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Meatbodies – “Creature Feature”

Good to hear Meatbodies jumping back in the saddle for a new LP as 2017 crests over the horizon. The first taste of Alice is a cleaner fit for the band than their eponymous 2014 LP, baking off a bit of the fuzz for a poppier sound. That’s not to say that they’ve completely shucked the garage ethos though, the track is still rooted in a frantic groove and knotted with plenty of guitar bursts that melt away the top layer of epidermis. Underneath its much more structured than their slash and bop past, knocking out some piano jams and glamming up the sound to a full 10 foot tall wall of crunch that seems to fit them well. Apparently “Creature Feature” fits into an overall loose concept in the album, but high-minded or no, its simply a sugar shock blast of fun on its own. Can’t wait for the rest.

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Cory Hanson

Wand showed a portion of their soft underbelly on their last LP, 1000 Days. They still employed the growl of explosive guitar but sketched out more texture, filling the sound space with plenty of new shades and shadows. Swooning strings and buzzing keys smashed into walls of echo. They flirted with psych-folk but still sat pretty solidly in the fuzz-psych camp they’d been born out of. Its clear, though, that the band’s Cory Hanson had a big part in that textural shift, and that he had more in him. Taking a solo departure from his bandmates, Hanson strips the sound all the way back and sets the incense aglow for a wander into psych-folk proper, though a strain that leans in on the orchestral cues he’d seem to favor previously. Those strings are brought to life by Heather Lockie, who has previously played with Spiritualized, Eels, Sparkelhorse and Love. Her arrangements take what could be just a folk diversion and push it into a lovely bit of bittersweet pop.

The tone on The Unborn Capitalist In Limbo is wistful at its lightest and downright mournful for the majority of the record. Hanson draws from a wealth of folk artists that found their muse in the rain splashed territory between heartbreak and utter depression. There are touches of Roy Harper, Bill Fay, Nick Drake, Donovan (at his most wistful) and even Al Stewart in the batch of songs that Hanson has put together and he’s working towards the kind of gutwrench with a shiny wrapper that those artists excelled at putting together. Whether this side of Hanson remains dominant, ekes its way further into Wand or stands as a single album impulse remains to be seen. But in embracing the sweep of sadness, he’s left a document of heartfelt ennui that shakes off saccharine for a lasting impression of sighed resolve that helps to lessen the lump in your throat.



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The Tyde – “It’s Not Gossip If It’s True”

So I mentioned the other day that, yes indeed, The Tyde have resurfaced after years off the grid. On his fourth album, Darren 4, Darren Rademaker is sounding like he’s recaptured the spirit that inhabited the sunny strains of Once and Twice, summoning up the ghosts of The Byrds, The softer side of Creation (The Sneetches, Suede, Felt) and the summer sun that beamed from within The Beach Boys. He’s also adding his dose of wearied and weathered vibes, as if the sun only leads to sunstroke and a hangover that puts the good times in bas relief. Lyrics about trysts with twenty-two year-olds aside, the album has a wonderful feel to it and “Gossip” is a highlight for me. Its practically swooning with the addition of some honeyed background vocals and a touch of slide guitar. Rademaker captures the song’s hassled sighs amiably in the Alex Knost directed clip. Its nice to have The Tyde back and summing up middle age in weathered psych-country comfort.

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Allah-Las

Allah-Las enter a new phase that’s leaving a bit of the bright jangled swagger behind in favor of a more reticent and melancholy mood. Calico Review sees the band temper their sun-soaked views, a hallmark of their catalog, and dive down a shadier path of ’60s-indebted trappings. They’ve always had just a twinge of sadness under their skin, but its usually balanced by a bouncier beat, a tangle of jangles and a sunny chorus. On their third album the band tends to embrace those sighs that were always eking out of their previous albums. Maybe you truly know that that clouds have gathered when a track called “High & Dry” is followed immediately by another called “Mausoleum.”

Despite its grey-skied mentality the record comes off as one of the band’s most enjoyable. The more introspective tone has been augmented with a wider musical palette, stepping away from the simple guitar combo to rope in mellotron, violin and harpsichord; reaching for that ’60s bittersweetness that befitted The Pretty Things on their slide into depression via rock opera on S.F. Sorrow or later period Zombies. Truthfully, the band had to take a turn, three albums of sun and strum can only feel like you’ve trucked into a rut. So its good to see them bumming in the sun and finding a use for rainy beach days. The year could use a good bit of sad swagger and I’m glad that The Allah-Lahs are here to provide. The album also comes with a move to Mexican Summer, expanding the label’s catalog of stalwart indie names.

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Radar Eyes – “Community”

I’m almost a little wary to believe this is the same Radar Eyes that surfaced in 2012 on their eponymous LP. Where once there was a murky garage chug, now the band have blown full on into a jangled ’80s headspace that’s cribbing hard from their Echo and the Bunnymen and Cure collections; none maybe more so than “Community” which seems like it could easily pass for an Echo b-side lost to the winds. The band is nailing the theatrical sweep, the dark crashes of synth and guitar and Anthony Cozzi’s booming vocals find themselves stretching over the top in every sense of the phrase. There’s a strain of XTC winding its way through there as well and, while all these influences don’t necessarily speak to creating an original footprint with their new direction, they’re paying their 80’s homage right. “Community” is a nice bit of jangle n’ jolt that finds itself stuck your head every time.

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Cory Hanson – “Ordinary People”

Wand is pretty damn prolific as it is, so the news that the band’s Cory Hanson is embarking on a solo record seems like he’s pushing his limits. Though the sound of “Ordinary People” is worlds away from Wand’s powder keg of psych stomp and garage explosion so maybe this Hanson letting his guard down and searching the other side of the coin. Starting with a swell of strings and building to a gorgeous bit of chamber folk that comes on with fragile, yet orchestrated appeal of 60’s nuggets like Gandalf (there’s a bit of a “Hang On To A Dream” quality), bits of The Zombies or even Susan Christie; “Ordinary People” is a psych-folk gem that’s light on the psych but heavy on the emotional impact. Its a new take on Hanson’s songwriting and to tell the truth, the lighter side looks good on him. Not that I’m going to shrug at any fire and flash from the Wand camp, but this kind of lush folk is always a welcome ticket around here. Can’t wait to see how this song stacks up with the whole album. The world needs more weird folk nuggets out there.

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Morgan Delt

Stepping up to the big leagues, Morgan Delt makes the leap from Trouble in Mind to Sub Pop for his sophomore LP. The album’s still drenched in a psychedelic shimmer, though it become a more cohesive shine on Phase Zero than his more stitched together eponymous album. Delt seemed like an unlikely bump up from the psych underground. I liked his first tape and the album that grew out of it, but he’d felt like he was still finding his footing in those early recordings. He finds it well on Phase Zero, though, and to my delight he’s crafted something that runs better as an album than as individual tracks. As the label began to roll this one out in pieces, none of these hit hard. They weren’t particularly earworms or singles as such, but its when the whole picture comes into view that Delt’s prowess begins to take shape. The songs bleed into one another, creating a blurry and billowed tapestry of sound that’s immediately earnest in its psychedelic pursuit and engulfing in its longview approach.

Delt buries his vocals under a sea of echo and a dizzying world of kaleidoscope touches, painting with bright wide strokes and sketching in intricate details with a finer point. The album takes its cues from a host of 60’s nuggets that lean towards the pastoral and delicate; echoing bits of JK & Co., Millennium, Sagittarius and The Free Design while weaving some more intense moments through tracks like “Mssr. Monster” and “Sun Powers” that keep it headed into a proggier territory than might befit those touchstones. Its truly one of those albums that kicks an artist’s game up a notch, digesting the past and wearing a workbook of psych exploration on his sleeve, but still finding time to build something wholly his own in the process. Delt’s proven himself more than an imitator here and for any collector of psych gems, this stands as an excellent addition to any collection.

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Jacuzzi Boys – “Boys Like Blood”

Just can’t help myself, whenever there’s a new Jacuzzi Boys on the horizon, the excitement gets a bit palpable. After a solid self-released EP, the band returns with a proper full length for their own Mag Mag imprint and its shifting them away from the garage grit of their past, through the power-pop neon of Happy Damage and into a nineties inflected grunge pop that’s roping in a “Cannonball” groove and Matthew Sweet towers of guitar. They’ve always had those more polished instincts roiling under their past releases but it seems with this one they’re fully going for it. Its often a mixed blessing when bands go in for the pop sheen. It can go too far and feel like a plastic version of what you always loved about them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here at all. Its big and bright and bold, but with a fuzzed out love of ’90s thickness and a chorus that sticks it all the right brain crags. Can’t wait for more of this one in October.

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