Posts Tagged ‘Third Man’

Silver Synthetic – “Unchain Your Heart”

Another taste of the new Silver Synthetic EP on Third Man comes out with a ‘70s swathed video of the band playing a Top of the Pop style setup. The trappings fit the band who are definitely hitting a low gear choogle on “Unchain Your Heart.” Its an even looser side to the band than on the previous single and they nab the last of the summer breeze and bring it curling down the coast with them. They’ve let go of the motorik sway that infected “Out Of The Darkness” and let this one go full denim stomper with a smooth groove and some subtle handclaps underpinning their sunshine harmonies. The whole record’s a short, but excellent addition to the Cosmic Americana cannon of late and it feels like just the beginning of larger things. The EP is out 10/2 on Third Man.

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North Americans – “American Dipper”

Another gorgeous slip into the grooves of North Americans’ upcoming LP for Third Man lands today and its just as elegiac as their first bits that found their way out a couple of weeks back. McDermott and Barry Walker diffuse all the tension in the room with the hushed huddle of “American Dipper.” North Americans’ past work captured the golden hour glow of natural surroundings, but the addition of Walker’s slides make this an even more aching and tender portrait of complete calm and aural transcendence. The video adds a nice touch of mountain air to the song, giving it the right context to radiate serenity to the very core. The record is out October 9th.



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North Americans – “Furniture in the Valley / Rivers That You Cannot See”

The last outing from Patrick McDermott’s North Americans was a meditative, pastoral record that found the artist pulling in contributions from Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Julianna Barwick, and Dylan Baldi (Cloud Nothings). Focused more on McDermott’s prowess with American Primitive, the record proved to push North Americans into a larger stage that seems likely expand only further with his upcoming record for Third Man. Perhaps inspired by their last outing in pedal steel, the venerable Nashville label hooks in McDermott and North Americans for a new LP that pairs him with Northwest pedal steel player Barry Walker, who also released a record on North Americans’ former home Driftless.

The first taste of Roped In comes with a long, somber video that pairs album tracks “Furniture in the Valley” and “Rivers That You Cannot See” with a narrative of Mennonite travelers, eclipse viewing, and plains states desperation that feels like Noah Hawley might have a hand I there somewhere (he doesn’t just to be clear). The two tracks scratch at the heart of loss, quivering with sadness, sobriety, and human frailty. The album boasts further contributions from Mary Lattimore and William Tyler, and the feel of this is not so far off from the latter’s own First Cow score that was released earlier in the year. The record lands October 9th wrapped again in gorgeous art from Brian Blomerth.

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Silver Synthetic – “Out Of The Darkness”

The ragged confines of the Cosmic American summer are seeping in all around us and there’s one more to add to the queue today. Eschewing the garage crunch that he’s usually corralling with Bottomfeeders, Chris Lyons teams ups with mems of his daytime digs and Jeff The Brotherhood for an EP on Third Man that’s got more than a little jam in its bones. The title track pairs some hypnotic rhythm with a choogled soul that simmers throughout the song. The prickled guitars in the opening are shot through with the Maplethrope-veined prickle from the grittier side of the ‘70s but the band rounds it out into a deepened groove that drops out of Television’s embrace and into the sunny sways once again. The band’s got a full EP in similar fashion on the way and rumbles of a full LP for Third Man as well.




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Luke Schneider

This week’s been on a mercurial kick and I say why bump the tiller now. This record from Luke Schneider reinvents the Pedal Steel as force for ambient float and it’s an absolutely stunning take on the instrument. While the steel has long been the secret weapon among the cosmic country fare cropping up here, and even found its way into the minimal stretch of the Ezra Feinberg release from yesterday, Schneider elevates the form. He gives the instrument its due as a focal point while all but rendering the sounds unrecognizable as they’re refracted through the psychedelic and new age prisms at either end of his spectrum. Solo pedal steel can often be showy, and can flirt with melancholia and comedy, but Scheider pushes the past aside.

While the instrument has a grace and some might say its the heavy heart that adds a mournful edge to country, its also a virtuoso’s tool. Luke’s had a history of unconventional use, but a breakthrough into sobriety and a steady diet of ambient in the headphones lead to an unconventional, yet stunning record that’s more indebted to Laraaji than Herb Remington. There’s a fragile ebullience to Schneider’s work and he’s made a record that’s as complex in temperament as it is stark in aproach. The sounds here resonate with the humors of the soul, stirring euphoria in the same way his instrument typically divines sorrow. Peace and calm radiate from Luke’s compositions as if the balance of the universe rested on his slide.

When he’s not crafting crystalline tones, Schneider has been a constant in alt-country circles playing with Natural Child and Black Lips before a change in life direction and higher profile stints backing Margo Price, Orville Peck and William Tyler. He continues to work as one of country’s leading sidemen — never the most technical player, but a unique force that allows him to continually put his stamp on his recordings. Here he proves that he’s more than a key element in an ensemble and that pedal steel can float as far as the synths into the edge of the cosmos. This one’s a 2020 essential.




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Redd Kross – Phaseshifter / Show World

It’s not entirely at odds that Third Man — a label that has existed to showcase the works of Jack White, bring home to the power pop of Brendan Benson, and explore the underground to the degree that Timmy’s Organism once found its way onto the racks — should eventually bring back the work of Redd Kross. While the name doesn’t filter into fashion as much as it should these days, the band was instrumental in smashing together punk, metal and power pop into a nexus of grunge that would linger long into the DNA of radio hits that would eclipse the band several times over. Redd Kross’ sense of humor was only rivaled by their knack for pop and over the course of a long and rocky tenure they created some true classic records. Growing out of the L.A. punk scene when they were still in high school, the band’s McDonald brothers would play with members of Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, and Black Flag before settling into their early lineup and smashing boundaries with their debut EP and the elastic approach of Neurotica. Sadly the latter was stalled in its reach when their label, Big Time, folded. The setback held the band’s name in contract to a grounded business and the band spent the next five years in limbo recording psych-pop under various names with members of Three O’ Clock, Pat Smear. Cherrie Currie, and Danny Bonnaduce (though not all at the same time).

The Third Man reissues focus on the time period just following this relative upset. The band would gain control of the name and reset themselves as they signed to Mercury. They stripped back a bit of the eclecticism that had made their early work fun and focused on the heavier side of their sound for Phaseshifter. While longtime fans might have missed the paisley pop experiments, what made them infectious remained in tact. Power pop stood at the crux of their sound and they’d embraced the hardcore heat long before others around them would do the same to find a foothold at radio. This album should have been a hitmaker, yet it found them relatively settled into the middle of the pack in popularity. The follow-up Show World takes the a similar approach, but gives a bit more of a glimpse into their magnetic pull towards plastic fun.

The album starts with a thickened and throttled cover of The Quick, embracing the light-delivery, heavy guitars approach to power pop that made it potent towards the end of the ‘70s. The band oscillates between the thick pop pedigree that fellow undersung act Sloan was soaking up around the same time in ’97 with a shiny new batch of hooks ready for radio. Still the band never quite stuck the way they should, but a few good years on Merge seemed a better fit and this latest round of respect for their mid-period work gives folks the hindsight to get back into what they missed. Definitely worth a spin or three to brighten up the turntable these days as the originals were released during the prime CD-only years and they never got a US release on vinyl. Pick ‘em up and work your way through the catalog of the champions of pop that shoulda been.




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Traffik Island’s Zak Olsen on Public Nuisance – Gotta Survive

Keeping the wheels turning on Hidden Gems and pulling more and more psychic diggers into the fold. This week the honors fall to Zak Olsen, the Aussie indie utilitarian who crops up in quite a few RSTB faves, to be honest. From the fractured pop ooze of Hierophants to the crushing grooves of ORB, Zak has done time in The Bonniwells, The Frowning Clouds, and keeps time in his own solo work as Traffik Island. The latter’s work caught my ear a few years back with a spot-on deep-dive into loner folk, but of late the band has embraced an aesthetic of psychedelic beat driven on an engine of Library Music funk. Zak gives some background on California garage band Public Nuisance and how their Nuggets-era works came into his life. Check out Zak’s take on the band’s works below and head to Flightless for the latest Traffik Island thumper.

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Caetano Veloso – S/T (Tropicália)

Not that the folks at Third Man don’t have wide ranging taste, but its not the enclave I expected to birth the first official version of Caetano Veloso’s eponymous solo debut. The man, responsible for the name of, and in large part the direction of, the Tropicália movement, moved from former child prodigy to art impulses with this 1968 album. Along with Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Ze and Os Mutantes, Veloso was integral to the shift away from indigenous folk music and towards a larger psychedelic consciousness within Musica Popular Brasileira. Though Costa and Veloso recorded a duet album, Domingo, together in ’67, it wasn’t until the release of a pair of self-titled albums by Veloso and Gilberto Gil the following year that the movement would begin to take shape musically. The reaction wasn’t necessarily always to the welcome reception of fans, who objected to the shift away from folk. Moreso, given his and other Tropicalists’ critique of their military-led government, it was even less popular with the powers that be.

The album was aimed at becoming a cultural hinge-point, inspired by the open pop format of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s. The record embraces traditional bossa rhythms, spoken word passages, heavy electrics, and a newfound interest in effects. The resultant album, though attempting to veil its political leanings in cheeky implications, drew ire as it grew in popularity. For as much ground as it broke in shifting traditions, it broke twice as much in emboldening and codifying youth culture against their own broken systems and American institutionalism. Eventually this would result in the exile of Veloso and his compatriot Gil.

The two performed on TV in 1968 and the ensuing uproar sent both artists overseas to London until 1972 when they were finally allowed return. There Veloso would work write and record the somber and superb follow-ups (also self-titled, but typically referred to by their first tracks “Irene” and “A Little More Blue”). As he returned Veloso would become the center of Brazilian pop for more than twenty years. This is, essentially where it began, and in many ways still some of his best. The record has been reissued several times over the years, but this is the first sanctioned US-pressed copy. As with any version, it is utterly essential.


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YAK

The backstory behind Pursuit of Momentary Happiness is almost unbelievably excessive – with tales of the band’s Oli Burslem tracking back and forth across the globe in an attempt to make the album he heard in his head – working to acquire extra band members, couching in studios, and eventually leaving himself without a permanent home in the process. Thankfully for Burslem the resulting album’s breadth speaks well to the hassles he endured. Along the way Burslem connected with Jason Pierce of Spiritualized, who contributes to some tracks and lent his home studio to the cause. The involvement of Pierce dovetails nicely with the idea of making something almost too big to fail. The artist, whose own epic was notoriously hard to tour, given the necessity of orchestras and choirs, seems like the perfect foil to push another into embracing their inner grandiosity.

To that merit, Pursuit can’t be accused of sounding economical or sparse by any means. It is, in fact, the kind of big rock epic usually reserved for bands who’ve paid half a decade’s worth of dues. The album starts out on fire, albeit a fire that sounds like it was borrowed for a job interview at their eventual landing pad, Third Man Records. Opener “Bellyache” is full of the ratcheted staccato that marks much of Jack White’s delivery, feeling like it’s got someone else’s hands on the tiller. Thankfully, though, this affectation dissipates as quickly as it arrives with Burslem aiming for the kind of orchestral space occupied by his mentor Pierce welded to the dirty psych blues that slips through the veins of Night Beats and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The band wades through some Bowie-isms (most notably on “Words Fail Me”) further cementing their pursuit of an album that’s next to impossible to fit into the room, however once they find their balance between weightless and reckless, the grand plans find their payoff.

Reaching for the ineffable is commendable, but POMH often works best when its reaching not for the stars, but rolling in the dirt. When the band cranks the coils on their diesel-bred guitar scorch, they light up. The heat off of Blinded By The Lies is enough to melt skin. “Fried’ and “White Male Carnivore” are similarly breathless, boiled, and bent. The band feels most comfortable when they’re cobbling together a beast built of feedback and bile. When properly positioned the uptempo fare makes the ozone-scraping opulence of the other tracks feel like a balm. YAK are strapped to a scrap metal spaceship gazing back at the arc of the horizon. After the intense tumult of breaking through the atmosphere they give the listener a little time to breathe, an the scope of Pursuit begins to come into shape. The white-knuckle parts leave the deepest scars, but its nice to feel that breeze on the wounds in the end.



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Timmy’s Organism – “Lick Up Your Town”

When news of a new Timmy’s Organism release wafts down the halls, there’s a general feeling of dread and motion sickness that kicks in. The band aren’t made for these, or any times. The noxious vibes that emanate from their stacked amps can only be set to an irradiated boil and the newest slab from Total Punk is leaking its fair share of vileness. Even from a two-tracker, the band make their mark. Their profile was notched up to meet the public eye through a Third Man record last year. It was a well deserved escalation of terms that was meet with far too little thunder. Perhaps the populace hasn’t been to see Vulgar and co. tear down a stage. Its a sight to behold and a true marker of the band’s sci-fi punk prowess. New track’s a scorcher and well recommended fodder to heat up your turntable’s needle.



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