Posts Tagged ‘Sacred Bones’

The Holydrug Couple

Chilean psych-pop duo The Holydrug Couple have always taken a blissful approach to the idea of psychedelia. Their sound doesn’t embrace the attack of fuzz or anger of feedback so much as it seeks to strand listeners in a euphoric cocoon of dazzling light and sound. They’ve done so to great effect on their last couple of albums on a shoestring budget, turning bedroom sessions into gooey, sun-dappled psych-pop that begs the listener to get lost in its embrace. Now they’ve doubled down on the studio setup, looking to produce something of a ‘classic’ record with all the spoils of their Guitar Center sweep-up.

While they’re taking a nod at Beach Boys and Beatles in their reported intentions, in reality this is landing among the heather occupied by The Soft Bulletin and Heaven or Las Vegas. Everything on Hyper Super Mega shimmers, everything glows and turns to gauze rather than becoming concrete. There’s a pop center that might run on an engine of ‘60s and ‘70s giddiness, but once its processed through the band’s arsenal of augmentation its all dry ice and purple glows, like gaseous extraterrestrials trying to tune in Todd Rundgren on the console of a second-hand saucer.

It seems that 2018 is a year for bands to bring forth the best version of themselves and in that regard, Holydrug Couple can clearly be added to that list. Hyper Super Mega achieves the vision that they set out to bring to life when the Couple was formed, a vibrational orchestra rendered in absolute clarity. In a year that’s been tumultuous and feels awfully grounded this is a nice lift into the clouds of distraction and a salve for daily burns.



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Exploded View – “Raven Raven”

Enticing title’s aside (for this site anyway) the first taste of the upcoming album from Exploded View is a sinister pop gem. The band’s previous outing for Sacred Bones, their 2016 eponymous debut, was delightfully disjointed, embracing dissonance as a key element to their off-kilter pop, flickering through sounds like a broken slide carousel. Here, though, they’re smoothing things out – welding ‘80s goth atmospherics to ‘90s industrial pop machinations – echoing the infectious, bittersweet shake of Black Box Recorder and the buttoned-down darkness of Portishead. The Mexico City leans into pop’s embrace but leaves rough edges peeking out from their cavernous cardboard box beats. The track slinks its way through the headphones with a gnawing urgency that places the track among their best. I have to wonder if this foreshadows a dark drape of an album that’s sliding into the velveteen sound they’re pursuing here, or if like last time, they’ll break up the shimmer with a few twists of the knife every know and again. Either outcome, I’m intrigued.


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The Holydrug Couple – “I’ll Only Say This”

Chilean psych unit The Holydrug Couple have been getting lush for as long as I can remember, but their latest for Sacred Bones doubles down on the sparkling light and hazy wash of aftrnoon sun that dapples their sound. The single is the first off of their upcoming LP Hyper Super Mega. The accompanying clip goes for more for cultural saturation then for visual gauze, flipping through touchstones of music and history until the track crumples in on itself. From the blissed pop on display here its apparent that the band has yet another stunner in store when that album rolls down the pike in September. After a summer swelter like we’ve had on the East Coast these past couple of days, the band’s gooey take on psych is just the thing to embrace the humid vibes coursing through June.

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Vive La Void’s Sanae Yamada on Midori Takada – Through The Looking Glass

When this feature first found its footing one of the initial participants was Ripley Johnson from Moon Duo / Wooden Shjips who dug deep on a sorely lost Aussie stunner from Fabulous Diamonds. A year on, and quite a few more Gems later, its great to now have both halves of the duo represented with a pick from Ripley’s partner in crime Sanae Yamada. With dozens of great Moon Duo records in her portfolio, Yamada broke out solo with her hypnotic new outing this year as Vive La Void. I was intrigued to see what Yamada’s pick would be, given her background in synth / psych / Kosmiche and as always the picks wind up being great surprises that further add to my own need to get to the record store. Sanae picked the 1983 album, Through The Looking Glass, from Japanese percussionist Midori Takada. She goes in depth on how the record came her way and how its impacted her own writing.

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Vive La Void

Most know Sanae Yamada as one half of Moon Duo, where her synths butt against Ripley Johnson’s guitars for a hypnotic grind that’s forever indebted to the German Progressives that came before them. During endless hours on the road with the Duo Yamada began work on a tangential venture, one that’s still buzzing with Kosmiche life, but taking on a much more introspective bent than Moon Duo. Vive La Void comes as an apt title for her solo work. The eponymous LP on Sacred Bones floats in a psychic ether, sandwiched between planes as it were – with insistent beats pillowing a steady pulse of synth tones and Yamada’s trapped under glass vocal delivery giving the project a dreamlike appeal.

The rhythms beg movement, a dance, a twitch even, but their contrast with the spectral vocals makes for a record that’s at odds with itself. Vive La Void is constantly pulling towards the calm float of sensory deprivation but forgetting to lock the lid on the capsule. The boombox grind from the outside ekes its way into Yamada’s dream and she and the listener are suspended in time watching the lights and imaginary dancers spin around us, partitioned by plexiglass just out of reach. As such her album takes on a slightly sinister quality, detached and appalled at the situation. Her alchemy makes for a standout debut from VLV, placing this far from side project status and well into the realm of dream pop purveyors of the highest order.




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Amen Dunes

So, it is that Freedom follows Love, maybe that’s always the way it must be. Damon McMahon’s fifth album proper lands him a far cry from the scuffed surfaces of noise folk that wrought Dia, but while his exterior may be softened and refined, it’s the turmoil underneath that’s churning now. Freedom is at its core an exorcism of masculinity. Rightly so, perhaps there’s no better time to measure the weight placed on the idea of what is and isn’t acceptable from society’s view of males and the often-disastrous ways those expectations play out in callousing and setting our youth adrift. It’s also about taking down the statues of heroism that wind up hollow inside. Through his series of characters scratching at the hero myth, McMahon pulls the veil off the swaggering alpha and casts a clownish shadow clipping at his heels.

Still, while the lyrical undercurrent is heavier than most of Amen Dunes’ catalog, the surrounding songwriting is more buoyant than ever. Enlisting a deep pop bench of collaborators for this including Delicate Steve and Chris Coady, McMahon and crew give the album a palpable atmosphere that ranges from the cold humidity of songs like “Saturdarah” and “Blue Rose” to a baked-in warmth on “Miki Dora” and “Believe.” The record practically exhales steam at some points, creeping the cold up the listeners’ spines in sense-memory tingles. When he wants to shake the frost though, the twilight beach burners let the skin crackle with a burn that’s just past palatable and a tiredness that pulls the diaphragm from winded through to depression.

The album works its way over plenty of ground, from childhood to the final lock on childhood’s door – losing a parent. McMahon enlists his mumblecore vibrato to great effect here, giving his songs and characters a fragile edge that’s never surefooted and always looking to the horizon for answers. Still, none of this would work if it weren’t for a solid base of songwriting under the coated atmosphere and lyrical sandpapering of the cult of the boorish hero. To that end McMahon has succeeded handily, letting this one soak in deeper with each listen like a balm on a wound we’d all been letting fester.


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Vive la Void – “Red Rider”

All things tangential to Moon Duo are heating up this year, with a new album on the way from Ripley’s Wooden Shjips and now the announcement of a new solo project from Sanae Yamada. The first track, “Red Rider,” paints the project in strokes of throbbing German Progressive, which isn’t a surprise given the Duo’s love for ’70s proggy Teutonic rock. Yamada injects her own brand of coldwave/dreampop to the proceedings, though, pushing the sound into mesmerizing waters. The accompanying video is delightfully psychedelic and dark. Down to see how this whole thing shakes out but loving this one for the moment.

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Amen Dunes’ Damon McMahon on The La’s – S/T

Years ago Damon McMahon contributed a track to one of RSTB’s first free download compilations. At the time his debut, Dia was just released and it was a flickering window of static rimmed folk that played well with the lo-fi crowd that dotted an indie landscape. Years later he’s embarking on his most ambitious and stridently pop album yet and he’s back to contribute to Hidden Gems, an exploration of albums that haven’t necessarily gotten their due in the pantheon of pop. Damon’s chosen an album that’s often lauded for its single but forgotten as a whole piece. The La’s 1990 debut will always be known for “There She Goes,” but as an album it lies squarely on the fault lines between jangle and Britpop.

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Amen Dunes – “Miki Dora”

This songs is so good it kinda makes me mad. No really, it has not place getting under the skin like this, but I’ll be damned if Damon McMahon isn’t on the precipice of laying down his shining moment. Good to see too, as he’s been riding out a long game career that’s crawled out of a fuzz-strewn psych foxhole, hammering his take on pop slowly but surely. Guess getting Chris Coady behind the boards doesn’t hurt and Nick Zinner sitting in on guitar work for the album seems like the kind of information that would have seemed inscrutable when his first album Dia landed all those years ago. Very excited for this one and for now keeping “Miki Dora” on repeat for as long as possible.

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Event Rundown: Basilica Soundscape 2017

I’m not usually one for live coverage. There are those that do it well and photographers with a better eye and I’ll usually leave it to them. This, however, being my fourth year in attendance at Soundscape in a town I’ve called home for as long, it feels fitting to at least weigh in. This might be even more true given that the mass that descends on Hudson is so often swept up in telling you to check out this “cute” hamlet nestled by the river that they forget to stop and reflect on who and what Hudson really is. So, while I’ve always appreciated Soundscape for giving an easily accessible glut of great artists (both literary and musical) it’s often hard not to grit at the parade of weekend goths gawkin’ up real estate prices during Fall Musical Recess 2017 sponsored by Warby Parker clear frames.

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