Posts Tagged ‘psych-folk’

Hans Chew & Garcia Peoples

I’ve been remiss, I’m only now noticing that the great Black Dirt Studios has renewed their ‘Natch’ series of studio improvisations. The series has lain dormant since 2013, but the June and July entries are both stunners. Finding its way out yesterday is a set from RSTB faves Hans Chew (One Eleven Heavy, Hiss Golden Messanger, Jack Rose, D. Charles Speer) and Garcia Peoples. The band entered the studio for a set of five new songs lead by Chew’s ace piano playing and backed by the psych lightning of the Garcias and its nothing short of perfection. The group lays down five songs — four originals and one ace cover from Dave Mason’s debut LP, that’s brought to a vibrant new life by Chew and the boys. Like yesterday’s Suncharms retrospective its listed at the nice price but you should definitely support Jason’s studio with whatever you can. He’s laying down some of the most vibrant jams in the valley.

Which brings me to the second set that’s up in the studio’s series an instrumental set from Wednesday Knudson (Pigeons, Weeping Bong Band) and Willie Lane (MV & EE collaborator, Elkhorn). The set’s more understated than Chew’s but no less captivating. I highly recommend nabbing both of these and placing them on repeat for the next couple of days. I’m backing it with a no regrets guarantee.

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Jefferey Alexander

Its already been a pretty impressive year from Jeffrey Alexander. The recently released Dire Wolves album is fresh in RSTB’s best of the year and he’s got a solo jaunt on the way from Feeding Tube. This time the maelstrom that marked Grow Towards The Light is tempered. Instead, the album explores solo sojourns through the dark, favoring instrumentals that scrape at the corner debris of psychedelia and churn the subconscious a turn or two while they’re at it. Alexander’s pieces creep through the echo, delicate and dewy with hope in some spots (“Rewinding”) but more often creeping with eerie unease. There’s a dusting of crackle and hiss, not unlike The Caretaker’s most recent explorations into the trauma and trials of dementia, only here the forlorn linger of jazz halls is replaced with a lost echo of bittersweet psych-folk. The memories crumble on like a found hurdy gurdy left to rot in the woods, revived by the ghosts of an intangible past.

Wedged between these pieces, Alexander also places two top-shelf psych stunners that don’t go the instrumental route. Traveling down a bit of the Golden Road, he divines the midnight, pre-dawn shivers that would wear well on any release on Child of Microtones. Both songs are haunted and hushed, driven by firelight and solitude. Its a nice companion for recent releases by Ash & Herb and Wet Tuna, among others – a mountain pass primer of nocturnal psychedelic bliss. As usual, both Alexander and Feeding Tube don’t disappoint.



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Prana Crafter – “Jagged Mountain Melts At Dawn”

Last year was a particularly solid year for Will Sol’s Prana Crafter, with two releases vying for end of year honors (Enter The Stream just edgrf out it’s predecessor). After turns at Eiderdown, Cardinal Fuzz, and Sunrise Ocean Bender Prana Crafter returns to roots at Beyond Beyond is Beyond for a gloriously grooved split with Baltimore’s Tarotplane. The artists share a mutual appreciation for their respective psychedelic sweat lodge transmissions and following an appearance together on a Hypnic Jerks Compilation in 2018 the outfits have opted for a more official partnership. Today I’ve got a glimpse into the cosmic quasar cave-in that Sol’s worked up for his half of the deal the bands dubbed Symbiose.

Prana Crafter opens his sidelong lymbic lifeboat, “Jagged Mountain Melts at Dawn” with a slow creep– dark, dank, and burrowed in the soil. The track roots in his psych-folk fever, but reaches towards the cosmos by the time it taps out. Sol’s strings feel tactile, tilling tangles of moss before they begin to float and disappear into the echo. Will gives insight to the song’s creation, “The backbone of this track, he notes, “is a flowing improvisation made using a live-loop created slowly and flavored by a crybaby wah and a wonderful delay pedal gifted to me by Tarotplane, it was recorded after midnight in heavy darkness, with only the flashing lights of the pedals illuminating the room.” Seems that the conception of the track also serves its reception. I’d highly recommend dimming the bulbs and letting this one wash over in the stillness of night. Below you can listen to an edit of the song, the full jam will run almost 20 minutes when the split finds its way out August 16th.



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Dire Wolves – “Spacetime Rider”

Dire Wolves are back in the feed today with a video for what’s probably my favorite cut off of their upcoming LP, Grow Towards The Light. “Spacetime Rider” melds their psychedelic folk with, naturally, a cosmic dosage of Space Rock. The underbelly courses with a throbbing wave of groove causing the head to nod almost unconsciously, but atop the metronomic pulse Georgia Carbone’s vocals weave a hypnotic spell, moaning incantations, mantras, and meditations in a haze of humid heat. Jeffrey Alexander’s guitar threads the needle with slippery perfection while Arjun Mendiratta’s violin saws and swings through the track in wind-whipped gusts. Aside from live tracks, which often find the band sinking deep into the psychedelic haze, this is probably one of the best distillations of the band’s sound- a heady vortex that’s as delightful as it is disorienting. Check out the natural splendor of the band’s video above.

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Modern Nature – “Peradam”

Jack Cooper’s (Ultimate Painting, Mazes) new haunt Modern Nature announces an album to follow up their stellar 12” from earlier this year. First offering “Peradam” isn’t quite as rooted in the motorik mindset that held sway on “Nature,” but its still got rhythm on its mind and a sweeping sense of motion beneath the autumnal croon of Cooper and the soft scuttle of sax. How To Live is being billed as a halfway hideaway between Neu and Can’s German Progressive patter and the more lilting folk of Caravan. Honestly, I’m all in on the prog-folk permutations that Cooper’s tumbling through, and while this track has some fine charms, I have a feeling the key’s going to be locking the whole album together into a tapestry of propulsion and strum. The record employs some fine extended bench, with Cooper collaborating mainly with Will Young of BEAK> with contributions from Aaron Nevue (Woods) and Jeff obias (Sunwatchers). Check out the first video above and look out for the new LP August 23rd on Bella Union.



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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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Peter Howell & John Ferdinando – Ithaca, Agincourt, & Other Psych-Folk Fairy Tales

Every Record Store Day there are a flood of releases that no one in their right mind needs to own. There are a dozen or so scattered titles that are necessary portions of back catalog that just get a bit overshadowed and would have ideally made great reissues given some space to be discussed on their own. Then there are the real gems. More often than not these real gems get pushed aside as well. They’re often reissues or records that appeal to a select group of collectors and aren’t flashy enough to get pre-release press. Sometimes, though, the best part of this is you can pick them up in regular distro dives once the dust settles. A few of these found some critical reception – Brett Smiley’s Sunset Tower reissue on What’s Your Rupture, the essential Alice Clark eponymous LP on We Want Sounds. This year, however one of the gems that slipped by softly came from Munster Records. The label issued an almost complete overview of the collaborative works of Peter Howell & John Fernando to little or no fanfare.

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Fog Window

For those of you paying attention, Fog Window lives in the extended family of Devin, Gary & Ross, the bizarro psych trio who have been frothing in the fringes for the last decade or so. The players themselves have been on the horizon even longer. Gary Panter issued a single with the Residents, did design work for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, contributed comics to RAW and knocked out a Yo La Tengo cover painting and you barely thought to say ‘thanks.’ Panter hooked up with Devin Flynn, also a purveyor of fine comics and illustration (Y’all So Stupid, Adult Swim, Yo Gabba Gabba), as a duo LP on Ecstatic Yod/Feeding Tube in 2011 and eventually they pulled in fellow psychedelic traveler Ross Goldstein to the fold. The partnership set the scene for two LP’s of melatonin-mad psych-folk goo that’ll warp yer wagon if you let ‘em, 2011’s Four Corners and 2014’s Honeycomb of Chakras. They’ve absorbed a couple more campfire cosmonauts into the mix for the lovely sprawl that is Fog Window’s debut – with Lily Rogers and Curtis Godino of the band Worthless rounding out the roster here.

With the deeper bench the band expands the notions of psychedelic drip that and DMT satellite transmissions that DG&R have molded into shape over the last few years. The record is hard to pin down (as might be expected) and the styles shift like colored oils under glass. Rogers adds an ethereal touch with her high register folk fawning, giving Fog Window a dreamy quality on shimmering tracks like “Time in Miles” and “Hippie Girl.” Don’t get your head set on where this is going though, the band won’t sit still for your dream-folk fantasies. The tone shifts to campfire clatter, humble and hummable, and then slides through the silt into spoken word workouts that are half-remembered through the haze of substance, reality, and time.

They drop out of the dream entirely by the time we roll into side three, amping up the ozone past more than a tickle in your throat and knocking a bit of cosmic sense into the listener with a toasted blues shuffle that could take a tête-à-tête with Endless Boogie and come out sauntering. While I appreciate the whole of Fog Window’s mercurial madness, this side hits me just right. “Landing Gear” sets the tone for the second half of the album, which seems to slide further off this crumpled coil and into the wet ink wonderland of the band’s rubberized hallucinations. By the time the fourth and final side is upon you the ground’s gone gummy and started to rise like quicksand, but if feels natural. It feels right. Fog Window are there to hold your hand as you tip off the edge of this shoddy temporal existence. They’re sonic Sherpas for end times shepherding us all into the smoke on the horizon.

Check out a stream of the LP below. Double gatefold comes with a bonus newsprint zine featuring art by the band.



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Dire Wolves – “I Control The Weather”

Despite the band’s massive output over the last few years, you’d be forgiven for having missed out on releases from the mercurial Dire Wolves (sometimes appended to “Absolutely Perfect Brothers Band” or “Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band”). The band’s been running the psychedelic small format mill ragged with tapes on Eiderdown, Sloow, Sky Lantern, Baked, etc and have been bouncing LPs between serious scene tentpoles Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Feeding Tube for a small stretch. Yet, this seems like the year and more to the point, the release, that splashes their heady maelstrom of psych-folk across your speakers.

Returning again to BBiB, the band have released the first cut from upcoming full-length Grow Towards The Light today. The track finds the band locked into sonic struggle with the eternal vortex – guitars lashing at the wind one minute, melting in thick candle wax runs the next. Fiddle slices through in a nimble dance with the percussive roil and atop the whole churning froth, Georgia Carbone incants a vocal spell with words that seem utterly not of this earth. This is the band’s first turn without original vocalist Lau Nau, and Carbone steps ably up to the task at hand, giving the song a mystical push towards oblivion. The track is just the beginning of the band’s descent into the fray, but it’s enough to captivate with repeat listens until you get your hands on the full cosmic journey.



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Elkhorn

While they’ve been fixtures in the NY live scene for a while yet, and have been racking up accolades with releases on Eiderdown, Debacle, and Beyond Beyond is Beyond, this is undoubtedly the year that Elkhorn makes an indelible impact on the psychedelic spectrum. With the release of a tandem pair of albums for Feeding Tube, the duo gives two distinct visions of their doom-slicked folk fallout. On Elk Jam, the band functions as a proper four-piece with acclaimed guitarist Willie Lane and drummer Ryan Jewell giving Drew Gardner and Jesse Sheppard an improvisational backdrop to work against. This LP locks the players into a shaggy trip that weaves an even denser tangle of guitars than the duo usually finds themselves caught in and knocks their rippled runs against Jewell’s expert anchor. It’s an excellent stab at the Six Organs/P.G. Six/Rangda school of psych-folk freeform that would set them apart in any year, but they don’t let things hang on Elk Jam alone.

That leaves Sun Cycle, the dark jewel of the band’s catalog. Opening cold and frost-bitten with the slow creep of “Altun Ha,” the album plunges the band into the dark corners of psych-folk, bubbling under the skin with a high-plains harrow. There’s a heavier sense of danger in the veins of Sun Cycle, feeling like the soundtrack to a dystopic Western, where the stakes are high and hardly anyone’s walking off into the sunset alive. Lane and Jewell are still here, but they’re less foils for Elkhorn than hues in their palette, creating deep oil paint scars of cracked black and saturated blue underneath the brilliant amber runs of Sheppard’s twelve string and Gardner’s electric purple drips of psychedelic sorrow.

To say there hasn’t been an LP of instrumental intensity on this level in quite a few years is no hasty statement. Wiliam Tyler’s coming close this year, but Elkhorn are topping the mount. As a pair of LPs, there aren’t too many instances of someone stormbringing this hard with quality equaling quantity. Sun Cycle in particular knocks the band into the ranks of Rose, Chasney, and the brothers Bishop. If you’ve been holding out for an essential release in the first half of 2019, look no further, this should be turntable bound and locked down for the next couple of months of your life. Let its pain become yours, its briefer moments of joy salve the soul and its sparkling strings ease the mind.



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