Posts Tagged ‘Mikey Young’

Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network – “Is The Season For New Incantations”

Among the picks on my Best of 2020 (so far) list last week was the smoldering debut from Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network. The LP showcases the Oh Sees member front and center, crafting a hybrid of lounge, darkened shadow caster psych, and jazz scars with the help of Sunwatchers, Mikey Young, Shayde Sartin, Mike Donovan, and a few other friends with likeminded leanings. The album opener is a dark patch of sky that heralds ominous clouds and turbulent waters ahead. She’s paired the track here with a prog-tipped video that’s flipping through Roger Dean landscapes and etched with runic signatures of unfathomable meaning. Though perhaps director Arturo Baston can better surmise. He cites inspiration “from alchemist transmutation circles to meditative sacred geometry. Mystic, occult, and spiritual graphic devices adapted and mixed all together to illustrate the relation between the forces of nature and the stupid human lust for power.” If you’ve yet to let this one grace your ears, I’d recommend setting that right soon. The vinyl arrives mid-July.

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Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network

It feels like this album from Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network has been sorely overlooked in the lead-up to its release. Its a damn shame because the ex-Oh See has put together an album that pushes her range far beyond the garage and psych roots attached to her. Within Oh Sees Dawson always provided the light to the rest of the band’s brooding dark — washing in areas of harmony and humility to the band’s rhythmic furor or blood-spattered psychedelics. On Ballet of Apes she’s filtering through the frames of folk and jazz, lounge and a hopeful strain of soul. Her songs crouch and coo, then open wide and soar. The album is bruised but resilient and its some of her best work in any context.

As for those lumped into her Mothers Network, Dawson has assembled a rather enviable crew. The backing musicians range far and wide, picking up friends from New York, San Francisco, and Melbourne. The Mothers Network are at any time Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring), Mike Donovan (Sic Alps), Shayde Sartin (Fresh & Onlys, Flying Canyon), Mike Shoun (Oh Sees, Peacers). Then as the album slides into its latter half Dawson pairs with RSTB faves Sunwatchers for a bout of jazz smolder that slips beyond the veil of light and into a space that’s inhabited by smoke and smudged by hot coal chemical interactions. The band and Dawson make a particularly potent pair and here’s hoping that they might make it more of a regular occurrence. Highly recommend digging further into this one again and again.




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Eddy Current Suppression Ring

Couldn’t have been more surprised to see this one pop up on the radar for 2019. After a lengthy hiatus that saw rise to tributaries like Total Control, the aughts’ most potent punks are back and bashing with a new long player this year. The record would probably daunt lesser souls – a pristine reputation left dangling for a decade is dusted off and the band feel like they’ve made the logical next step in their sound. Still walking the line between the bar fight bruisers of pub rock that crept out of the gutter in the ‘70s to become punk’s nascent form, the band also finds a way to skip over the meat of those very same punk years and add in the wiry wreckage of post-punk fallout to the mix. They’re the alpha and the omega hurtling through the speakers in riot-wracked glory.

Ten-odd years behind the mixing desk and twisting the knobs on a synth set hasn’t dulled Mikey Young’s guitar attack one bit. He’s still bashing out angles that others would overlook – slinging hooks like a tried and true record collector who’s absorbed an era’s worth of wreckage by osmosis. Then there’s the gloved-menace himself, Brendan Huntly, who brings the nasal hammer once again, a punk-poet who doesn’t go for the pretense. He’s Richard Hell if Hell spent less time artfully arranging holes on his shirt and just got straight to the jitters. They update the invective for a new round of political punishment by the worldwide punters of 2019 but through the faces change the burn remains the same. This is a band that pretty much touched off what’s been ripping through the Aussie underground in the interim since they left and its good to see them kick the kids off the throne and casually tip the crown on their heads. A late slip into the 2019 fold, but this one should be on your year’s best for sure.




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Eddy Current Suppression Ring – “Our Quiet Whisper”

There have been plenty of talks lately of the best of the last decade, dredging up a few names that I haven’t heard in years. One of the truly sad omissions, though, from the last ten years has been the punk sweat stain of Eddy Current Suppression Ring. The band helped define the end of the aughts with a vicious run from ’06 – ’09, but following that year’s Rush To Relax the band fell silent with only a few singles trickling out ending with 2011’s Captcha send-off Walking in Unison. Sure, Total Control helps heal the wound, and Mikey Young has built a cottage industry out of mastering every great Aussie release in the interim, but I’ve missed the Current. So, great news today comes with an announcement that the band is making their low-key return to the album format. They purportedly told Castle Face “not to make a big deal of it,” but they have a new album, All In Good Time, on the way shortly. I’d probably make a big deal of it.

“Our Quiet Whisper” sees the band return to their angular acumen, reminding listeners where the Aussie boom of the last few years really kicked off. The song is a slow-burn, full of the tempered tension the band employs so well and coupled with a new video scattered with geometric visuals that play well with the band’s prickled parlance. It feels like an ease into the album and I have a feeling there are a few burners on the way, but for now this is hitting the spot. No concrete date yet, but whenever this lands, its great to have ECSR back in the fold.



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Sad About The Times: An Exploration of North American 70s FM

Anthology is really digging in this year (not that last year was slouchin’) and they add another solid compilation to the collective wantlist. Compiled by Mikey Young, who’d previously worked on a comp of ’70s folk and psych tracks from his native Australia, the new compilation focuses on the barely there bands who breached the walls of FM in the ’70s. Young expresses the impulse behind the compilations as an extension of frustration with finding brilliant overlooked music and coming up short from sharing his finds with those in his immediate reach. I can relate, to be honest. And given Mikey’s already picked out a damn fine gem for RSTB’s Hidden Gems series, I’d trust his taste completely.

Mikey breaks it down, “”For nearly all my 41 year old life, my most constant joy has been to find new music to love. My next move is usually to force the people around me to listen and hope they feel the same joy. Teenage friends and crushes didn’t care at all about the knowledge I was imparting or the mixtapes I was laboring over, I’m pretty damn sure. City life was a little more receptive, though dj’ing what i heard as totally life changing, life affirming jams at bars to dudes requesting GnR didn’t always make it feel so. The occasional radio show gives me an outlet to continue sharing tunes but sometimes that feels like firing noise into a blackhole filled with all the other bazillion archival radio streams. Doing these comps with Keith (of Anthology) seem like the logical progression of what I’ve always loved doing. ”

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The Green Child

Sometimes it’s hard to resist a combination of favorite forces, and such is the case for The Green Child, which brings together the long-distance relationship of Raven Mahon (Grass Widow) and Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control). The duo jumps off from their inspirational namesake, Herbert Read’s 1935 utopian, communist, sci-fi novel for a sound that’s slaloming into the valley of retro-futurist synth, with a dollop of jangle. The two have mostly shed their past personas to find common ground in works that are antiseptic, but with a human heart. They dress up in the veneer of ’80s new wave, synth wave and goth and work the weave of the three into an oddly invigorating set for the dawn of 2018. If a certain measure of numbness is anthemic in the new age of world politics and daily life, then The Green Child is a magnetic beacon – part armor, part intoxicant.

The record feeds off of Young’s recent excursions into instrumental synth and it’s apparent that the same inspirations for his entry to Moniker’s “Your Move” series also fueled the bedrock of The Green Child. Though, here he’s less interested in the Kosmiche serenity than striving to balance Mahon’s distillation of icy detachment with the the proper amount of Teutonic cool. By the end, the record finds an even keel in a subdued slickness that wards off the caustic deluge of modern life. There’s something comforting in the future perfect sounds that the band rouses up out of the weeds. With the year just cracking in, The Green Child’s eponymous debut is a balm for these modern times, taking inspiration from somewhat psychedelic and strange texts, to endure some what strange and unbelievable times.





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The Green Child – “Traveler”

As the year winds down its time to get excited about 2018 recs already, and topping the list is this collab from faves Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control, Lace Curtain) and Raven Mahon (Grass Widow, Bridge Collapse). The record eschews the comfort zones of both, going for a synth-driven sound that’s dark, terse and sinewy. The pairing feels like a good fit, with the two having built the record over the last couple of years since meeting at an Oakland show in 2014. The band’s name was inspired by Herbert Read’s 1935 utopian, communist, sci-fi novel called The Green Child and the novel plays a part in some of the album’s lyrics as well.

The record features fellow traveler Al Montfort (Terry, Total Control) and finds a home on RSTB fave Upset The Rhythm January 12th. Highly Recomended!




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Total Control

While a good majority of the Aussie indie releases tend to get glossed over here in The States, Total Control seems to have struck a chord. Their releases on luminary labels Sub Pop and Iron Lung probably go a long way in that regard, but that’s not to discount their unique slant on post-punk impulses in any way. Following on their laser-focused 2014 album, Typical System, for Iron Lung, they hop to the short format with a 12″ EP that’s clean, yet eclectic in its influences, but also one of the most cohesive shots across the bow they’ve put together yet.

The record is bookended by pt. 1 and 2 of the title track, a chaotic rip of nervous energy and pointed punk anthem respectively. The rest of the EP has shuttled aside some of their noisier nuances to amp up their off-kilter pop senses instead, littering the tracks with duct-taped beats and sprightly strums that might have found their way to the cutting floor previously. It’s hard not to hear a slight extension of Terry’s excellent LP from this year peeking through – with members Al Montfort and Zephyr Pavey acting as guiding lights in both bands. Still, Laughing at the System is as essential as any other piece of the Total Control puzzle and by no means a frivolous aside. While they’ve begun shading in the bite with a bit of levity, they’re still offering up a few of their most acerbic flayers. Total Control contains some of the top players from the Aussie underground and this release proves how potent they can be even when time is a factor.

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The Living Eyes

One of the most consistent exports from the Aussie underground comes via Anti-Fade Records’ agit-punks The Living Eyes. On their third LP for the imprint they continue to sneer ‘n shred their way through a dozen compact punk nuggets that feel like they’re handed down from the conglomerate schools of The Saints, Richard Hell, Pere Ubu and Toy Love. While keeping things distinctly Aussie (and sharing a searing similarity to labelmates Ausmuteants) they’re kindred spirits to the kind of itchy, agitated, raw-nerve of punk that festered in the American Mid-West some 40-odd years prior.

The difference is that while they seem to carry the outsider jitters in their very DNA, they’ve also found a way to inject an incredible amount of catchiness into the core of their songs, much like South-Hemi heroes Eddy Current Suppression Ring before them. That band’s Mikey Young pops up in the supply chain here on mixing and mastering duties, so you know things are kept brittle and pushing well into the red. The band has always been a fave around here but I have to admit they’ve outdone themselves on this one. They’ve never sounded more vital, electric or combustible as they do on Modern Living.

At the risk of beating the drum too hard in their praise, this is one of the rawest, most delightfully jagged pieces of punk to roll down the belt this year. Its been a good year for unrest and a bad year for everything else, but this one jolts like a car battery to the tongue. It’s chomping tinfoil like breath mints and dusting any contenders that are hoping to paddle through their wake. I know we’re all looking for a salve these days, and it’s nice to sink back into a malted hazed of indie stupor sometimes, but Modern Living is a good reminder to stay agitated and jolt a few others on your way out of the room.




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David West with Teardrops

Ah goddamnit, just when the term supergroup lost its last shred of meaning, David West had to go and assemble The Teardrops, a backing band that would fit the term if they really needed a set in stone label. Thing is, they don’t. The record plays like a collaboration of friends sketching out the best Aussie pop that’s been hurtled down the belt this year. Featuring Bob Jones of Eaters, Louis Hooper of Rat Columns, Mikey Young of Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Raven Mahon of Grass Widow, the friends in particular flesh out a well-oiled pop machine that churns hooks and makes it all just look effortless. It would be impressive on its own if West hadn’t also cobbled together the charming new Rat Columns record earlier in the year, making this his second spotless classic of 2017.

Cherry On Willow is rife with cream-thick basslines that squirm underneath a frothing batch of new wave pop cut high with enough sparkling pleasures to fill out any dream playlist. Taken together, though, the album zigs though the many tessellations that made new wave and post-punk such indefinable genres. He’s dubbing out to blissed atmospheres one minute and cutting us down with knife-edge guitars in the next. West is a master pop chameleon, but his most enduring quality might be his ability to stitch stylistic gaps without making an album sound woefully disjointed.

Cherry On Willow sounds like an arc, a journey mapped out by someone writing a soundtrack rather than an album. He’s put together the highs and lows with precision. West nails down the euphoria and giddy sheen on the title track, then dives into melancholy on “Time To Forget” and the haunting “Swan’s Beat.” There’s plenty to love on his third solo album proper, and for those that are already in David’s corner this album comes as no real surprise, but a pleasure nonetheless.




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