Posts Tagged ‘Sacred Bones’

Psychic Ills – “Never Learn Not To Love”

Over the tenure of this blog Psychic Ills seem like such a load-bearing staple that its hard to believe that songwriter Tres Warren has passed. The band evolved through myriad incarnations — mutating lineups and sounds through the psychedelic swamp. Their early record were nerve-bitten and bracing when others were looking to hang onto more of a pop life raft. Then Warren and his compatriots worked their way to a sort of psychedelic ebullience on their final album, Inner Journey Out, a poison-tipped country-psych ramble that stood as one of their best. While its bittersweet to know that there was yet another album in the making that may never reach our ears, this double sided ode to the relationship between Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson is a lovely curio of remembrance. The band tackles both The Beach Boys’ “Never Learn Not To Love,” the song that was based on Manson’s “Cease To Exist” and part of his rift with Wilson over changes made to the final version. The version here is lush and hazy, wrapped in the same sort of beautiful grace that marked their last album.

On the flip they tackle Manson’s original and give it a much starker treatment, letting the two versions stand in contrast to one another — the former a comforting shoulder and the other a cold rebuke. Both versions are quite worth your time, and wind up an essential pickup for any longtime fans of the band’s catalog. Warren will certainly be missed and reworks like this only prove why that’s true.




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The Men

While a longtime fan of The Men, I have to say I slipped on the last record and didn’t get it into my life when it came out in 2018. That proved a mistake, as they trio picks up the journey began there among the glowing embers of Mercy. The band, led by Nick Chiericozzi, has never been tied to a genre wholesale – mining the bittersweet, and often dark underbelly of rock that moved from their noise-laden beginnings to the last whiskey, jukebox bombast of Tomorrow’s Hits and New Moon. Drift brought down the lights quite a bit from where they were positioned prior to 2018. There’s a lonesomeness to the record, but also a coiled danger that’s considerably palpable. They brought the sax that had opened up the wooden dancefloors of their ’13-’14 run to a new oil-slicked prominence. Notably, the record also let in a few other new impulses – country sway and a tendency to push the guitars deep into the crimson.

The impulses that were forming like rain over Drift pour down on Mercy with a cool simplicity. The band careens a country calm on opener “Cool Water,” while ushering their acoustic moments into turns of bottomless desperation and ache in “Fallin’ Thru” and the shuttered twilight of the title track. In these songs there’s a stillness that’s escaped the band’s past catalog. These songs are scars but wear it well. The other side of the album brings as much heat as The Men ever have, though. While their noise-coated early days certainly had teeth, there’s something much more savage lurking in the guitars on “Wading in Dirty Water” and “Children All Over The World.”

While portions of this might fit in well with the current crop of the Cosmic Americana seated set, the band’s almost an inverse of the sound. They find the same grooves and hit the same body high burn, but there’s a darkness here, not unbridled joy, rather the exhumation of demons through the wires of a thrice fixed amp. The vapors of carcinogenic choogle burning through tubes at a ferocious frequency. There are many points of entry for a band with the longevity of The Men, but this chapter, begun with Drift and flung open wide with Mercy seems to be one of the band’s most potent.



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Moon Duo

The last time that Moon Duo graced a long player, they’d split their impulses up into dark and light – a duality that served them well, giving a showcase to their heavy psych hammer, but also their growing openness to more serene sources. They continue to tap the latter as they ease into the shimmer of Stars Are The Light, an album that finds the band diving into their love of dub’s endless embrace, disco’s euphoric lift, and the more open expanses of psychedelia where the genre invites listeners to loose oneself in sound and let the rhythms infect every pore. This time the tendrils of guitar wind around ever limb and digit. The sound permeates into the bodies systems, swimming in the blood and bile until it’s one with the listener.

The band has always had a pull towards the tendencies of their German Progressive forbears, finding a spot in the cave beside the Düüls (I or II), Guru Guru and Popul Vuh as they bounce sound off the stalactites of your consciousness. This time they go further from the mouth of that cave, letting the sounds disorient and the synths in particular sparkle like secret geodes lighting the way towards serenity. They too have pulled from the slow burn of Spacemen three, but here they seem to follow Sonic Boom on his travels through Spectrum and into the realms of E.A.R. They wind the more experimental production elements in an ache that’s rooted in their search for euphoria.

The shift is startling if listening to just one or two examples shuffled into their past output. Something like the title track, separated from the statement of Stars, when compared to the relative heavy groove back catalog crushers like “Slow Down Low” or “The Death Set” feels like being transported to a whole other planet of sound. Yet the glimmers have always been there – the gauzy strum of “In A Cloud,” the poppy sway of “Circles” – they all feed into what’s working through the veins of Stars Are the Light. Ripley and Sanae have found the balance, sawn off the fuzz yolk that held them fast to the legacy of Wooden Shjips and set themselves adrift into the cosmos here. The record is practically built for headphones as sounds bounce around in 3-dimensional drift, always anchored by the heartbeat skitter of rhythm that pulls the listener out of their shell and into the greater unknown.



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Moon Duo – “Lost Heads”

Another gem drops from the new Moon Duo record and this time its a headier bit of ballast than the last time around. Where the title track to Stars Are The Light sparkled with enough shimmer to warrant its title, “Lost Heads” is a deeper dive into what Moon Duo do best. The track pulses with rhythm — hot, humid, palpable — but it also drips with the usual streaked condensation and liquid guitar intensity that the band’s been known for. While this album is pushing closer to the disco vein this time around, this is not the track for the floor, or at least the dancefloor. This is more of a lying on your back, staring at the ceiling, trying to come down affair. Moon Duo have built a legacy on splitting the veil between darkness and light and this is one of those tracks tottering on the knife edge they wield so well. Still very excited to have these guys playing the site’s upcoming 13th anniversary in November. Check back for a new announcement on that next week. Good news a’comin’.




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Föllakzoid

Seemingly going backwards, sideways, or completely untethering from this reality, Chile’s Föllakzoid follow up their 2015 album III with I. I suppose the reset makes sense, though. This is not Föllakzoid as it operated in the past. There’s still a kosmiche touch and a sense of reverberating dread that devours wonder on their latest, but rather than constructing these in the linear sense, the band shifted strategies. Recorded in bits, the band left the assemblage of the album to Uwe Schmidt, more commonly known as the producer Atom™. The band recorded the album as 60 separate stems and Schmidt organized them into four coherent movements. The tracks push the clock, even for Föllakzoid’s typically lengthy impulses, but where they were once creating nebulous galaxies, now they’re creating dense black holes of sound that seek to absorb the listener and disorient the journey.

The Atom™ stamp seems to push their sound further towards the trance end of the spectrum. There’s no more rhythm than the band usually employs, but the rhythms he’s arranged are less likely to scrape through German progressions left from the ‘70s than they are to riffle the Raster Norton and Editions Mego fallout bins. While this is likely the furthest from Terra Nova that the band has traveled, I have to admit I was a fan of their particular niche of Krautrock. This still scratches the same itch in a way, but the darkness has devoured the gauze and I miss it. Still, if you’re looking to lose yourself in the veil of rhythm, this is your best bet.



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Moon Duo – “Stars Are The Light”

Though there’s been plenty of activity through Ripley Johnson’s camp lately, its been a couple of years since we’ve heard from Moon Duo. The band is back with a new full length on September 27th and it marks a bit of a sonic shift for the band. Their last album was split into halves — a yin yang of light and dark, with Volume II skewing softer than the band had ever ventured. Still there was the familiar motorik grind bubbling underneath the strums, though. On “Stars Are The Light” the band bubbles along on an effervescent beat, vocals lost in a cloud of bliss and those familiar guitars lines still dripping but no longer lashing. Did the lightness win? Is this the celebratory sound at the end of the battle? I suppose the whole album will have to land in our laps before that question is answered.

For now this is a summer quencher from the Duo, wrapped up in artwork by RSTB favorite Ardneks and Sonic Boom is behind the mixing desk this time around. Turn this one up and let the breezes batter away your blues. Also, I’m very excited to be able to announce that, for you Upstate, upstate adjacent types, and city dwellers looking for an escape, the band will be playing RSTB’s 13th Anniversary this November. The show’s November 15th in Kingston, NY at BSP. Along with Moon Duo Jeffrey Alexander of Dire Wolves will be opening and one more very special guest that will be announced in August when the poster surfaces. Check back for that soon and pick up a ticket here.

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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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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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