Posts Tagged ‘Psych-Jazz’

Horse Lords

Baltimore’s Horse Lords bring a constrained chaos on their fifth album, The Common Task. Built again on the hypnotic hurl of riff repetition that have cemented them in the halls of avant rock thus far, the band sets out to create one of their most cutting creations yet. The album opens with no pity, firing off heavy shots of guitar bounced through a maze of twisted glass tessellations on “Fanfare for Effective Freedom.” The song, tethered to the Earth only slightly by the lock-step rhythm section, is feeds melody and mechanics through the wood chipper and steps back to enjoy the spray. The tension on the song is shattered by the slide into the appropriately titled “Against Gravity,” which cuts that tether and slides into the stratosphere with some help from a humming sax and the celluloid slip of bass over the track. Its here that the band begins to make the album dig for blood. There’s still that hammerlock of repetition, but here the band begin to work the angles. Sax slashes from both speakers, the guitars still cycle into oblivion but it feels more dangerous and unpredictable. As the middle of the record looms, the band take post-rock punctuality and tie a tourniquet on the beat until it blackens.

Sharing a love for groove that begs some comparison to contemporaries like 75 Dollar Bill, the band tied together a work that’s diligently planned but still surprisingly unhinged. They delve deep into the tessellated inner workings of the spiraling mind. By the middle of the record the band push the listeners limits with the sonic scrape of “The Radiant City,” before diving again once more into the gnarled groove hammock of “The People’s Park.” The noise respite drives into bagpipe tones that threaten to slit the seams of the album before they interpolated Latinx funk with a political edged on the follow-up — a double punch that proves worth the wait. They cap the platter with a triple-sized dose that takes up 18 plus minutes on the flip, winding its way through simmering tones before smashing out the backdoor on a wave of Saharan funk and violin. The band’s been rightly heralded in the past for their precision and fire, and again they prove to be at the top of their class merging the desert, the basement club, the street corner, and the conservatory into one mindset shredded by an obsessive-compulsive chaos.



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Dragoons

Coming in pretty quickly after the band’s 2019 record Dragoons Are a Band!, the Aussie quartet’s latest scraps their past formula in favor of a wider sonic vista. While the last record still had plenty of ambitions for an indie-pop record – launching songs into extended breakdowns and gilding them with a light dose of extraneous instrumentation – on Horrorscope, those impulses have been elevated to the fuel that drives the album. While there are still songs rooted in grit-teethed indie grind and blunt force post-punk (“Horrorscope II”) the album plays with form, fusing psych-jazz itches and instrumental interludes into an album that plays like a suite of songs rather than merely an assortment of likeminded tracks.

Slashed with sax and soaked in organ, the record tips the scales between the fury of The Fall (something they share with members’ other band Clamm) and a proggier direction that’s lit on the coals of groove. Giving post-punk soul, the band plays like Parquet Courts pairing up with Al Doum & The Faryds. The angles smooth, but they still seem to cut just as deep. If this is the direction the band aims to wander then I’m game to follow them down into the dirt. While their peers are content to jangle and scuff their hooks with the scent of the ‘70s downtown debris, Dragoons seem to be searching for a singular spice, and for the most part they’ve found it. It’s a short shock of a record, but it’s proving to be one that I’m eager to return to again and again.

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