Posts Tagged ‘Trouble in Mind’

Sunwatchers – “Silent Boogie”

Brooklyn’s Sunwatchers follow up their chaotic record for Castle Face with a new slab for perennial favorite Trouble in Mind. The first cut off of Sunwatchers II is a searing skin-melter with Jeff Tobias’ sax splitting hairs between the fult-tilt simmer of ’60s garage-punk and the unrestrained reaches of free jazz. They come down hard with a rhythm tumble that’s unstoppable and a sway over skronk that’s formidable and menacing. They remind me of the psych-jazz tumble of Cato Salsa/The Thing/Joe McPhee’s Two Bands and a Legend in a very good way. Gonna want to get into this when February rolls around, it’ll brighten up a the dark days and warm the cold nights.




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Headroom

New Haven psych institution Mountain Movers are driven by the restrained fury of guitarist Kryssi Battalene, but whatever impossible dynamics she’s laid down in the past for her mainstay, she’s doubled down on for her own solo work as Headroom. The band’s debut, Head In The Clouds opens with “How To Grow Evil Flowers, a track which certifiably burns down the farm and walks away with a serial killer stare. The guitars are charred, carcinogenic, and aching for more at each and every turn – but what really cements Headroom is that slash n’ burn psych isn’t what defines them.

As the record sidles into the second track there are overt notes of shoegaze that crop up. Battalene’s voice is lost inside a squall, but it’s calm and crouching, a stark contrast to the opener’s napalm glow of guitar fire. The remainder of the album balances these two forces, struggling to see which one wins out. There’s always a notion that Battalene will catch fire like a human torch of bottled emotion and burn the whole track down but the tension that drives that question is the heart and backbone of the entire endeavor. She’s a master of dialed in dynamics, surfing the wave of feedback like a seasoned vet. Where others might easily go in for excess and opulence in the realm of psychedelic fury, Battalne is as nuanced as they come.

This year also saw a record from Mountain Movers, and I must say that it was a captivating release, one that caught my ear and revealed how much the homegrown New Haven band had to offer. She’s saved the best work for her self, though, waiting out her tenure to begin bleeding a feedback whirlwind all over two sides of flat black plastic. This is the eye and the storm, the flame and the fuel. The record winds up both the calm you need and the spark to set it all ablaze, and for that Battalene has bested a good swath of her peers who’d falter in the same challenge.




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Omni

Omni’s sophomore album is upon us and it’s a perfect update of the influences they chewed on their 2016 debut. They’re still chomping wire nervously in the corners of the room, and I can’t help but love it – with an overture of itchy guitar lines emanating from Broyles’ fingers like broken clockwork puzzles. This is agit-pop proper, full of the introverted excitement that bands like The Embarrassment or Girls (the ’86 version) embraced in their horn-rimmed glory. Multi-task is a record for the deep divers that dance alone to a pincushion pop that matches their disjointed sensibilities. Broyles and Frobos understand why The Voidoids felt the need to run a trickle of sulfuric acid over their love songs – pure pop is far too sincere for a cracked consciousness run rampant with insomnia and idle time.

They don’t just shackle themselves to bent metal licks alone though, the band has a self-professed love for the Postcard records sound and the jittery pop preen of those esteemed ’70s agitators comes through atop the band’s serrated songcraft. Though they pair again with Nathaniel Higgins on recording duties, this time they sound a bit more present than on Deluxe. Where that album felt like a faded demo found and re-salvaged from the discard pile of some asshole A&R with too little scope, this sounds like a true workup – one ready for mass production, post-punk infamy, and modern rediscovery.

There are a whole host of bands that want to pull on post-punk like a $5.00 last minute Halloween costume and the baggy seams show easily on their accomplishments. Omni are a different sort of band, one that’s clearly spent their spare time riffling the same racks a lot of us inhabit, creeping YouTube in the wee hours looking for one more step beyond the normal essentials lists. Multi-task feels like a band making the album members have been reaching for in their other bands. It feels like finding that elusive sound that’s been nagging at the back of your brain, nailing it and sharing it with all the other freaks looking for a salve to the same itch.



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Omni’s Frankie Broyles on China Crisis – Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms – Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain

After splitting from Deerhunter, Frankie Broyles has taken a tumble through post-punk’s most angular avenues with his band Omni. The band’s debut for Trouble in Mind was a loving run at Television, The Voidoids and Wire, a sound which they only crystallize on their follow-up this year. For the latest Hidden Gems, Boyles takes a run at an album he feels has been left out of the public conversation, the synth-pop debut from Brits China Crisis. If the album’s cover is any indication, they’ve at least lifted a bit of aesthetic vision from the band but Frankie explains how the music has seeped into his own life below.

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Maston – “Swans”

After a solid LP a few years back on Trouble In Mind and an EP/Rarities collection Frank Maston is back under his surname as a psych-pop provocateur on his own imprint Phonoscope. In the interim he’s been busy as a touring member of Jacco Gardner’s band and working with several members of The Allah-Las on side projects.

The first cut from his upcoming LP Tulips sees the songwriter again working in a vein of whimsical soft psych that pulls from Brian Wilson to The Focus Group in its approach to childlike wonder. The accompanying video and graphics play up the ’60s connection nicely with a faded filmstrip feel and some BBC echoing design. This track feels entirely like its part of a larger whole, and while nice on its own, it will be intriguing to know how this fits into Maston’s larger picture.



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Headroom – “How To Grow Evil Flowers”

Earlier this year New Haven’s Mountain Movers slipped out a crushing blow that went largely unheraleded. It’s a shame too because few are delivering the kind of Michio Kurihara shadow-fuzz grind or dipping into the Bardo Pond deep end like the are. Thankfully, though, you get another shot at basking in the cold sun squall of guitarist Kryssi Battalene as she heads up her debut as Headroom.

The album opener “How To Grow Evil Flowers” is a lead-footed crusher that picks up the P.S.F. legacy and wraps it around a dark funnel of mournful psych energy. Any list of current psych shredders that omits Battalene does a disservice to themselves. She’s not looking to melt faces with aceylene heat, rather she’s got the chops to erode the ground underneath you with a steady rumble before you even notice your descent into the doom caverns below. Look out for Headroom on Trouble in Mind in October.




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Omni – “Equestrian”

Atlanta’s Omni are back and refining the post-punk jitters from last year’s excellent debut offering. First single, “Equestrian” picks up with more Verlaine-veined guitar lines nestled atop a skittering drum beat. They lean into progress with some syth strains to back the track up, pouring on a glaze of synth-punk that doesn’t dominate, but pays reverence to their brand of ’70s gods as the track progresses. They don’t mess with the formula too much though, making this a nice extension of their knotted punk lacerations from Deluxe. Omni was a nice addition to last year, a collector’s curio that hooked in kindred spirits by the cart load. Lookin’ very likely that they’re about to do the same this turn around.




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Rays

It’s good to see some RSTB worlds colliding on the debut record from Oakland’s Rays. The band, which cribs members from local acts like Violent Change and Life Stinks, brings together the nervy, popped-vein Maplethorp dregs of ’70s art pop with the shaggy drive of the current crop of incestuous Aussie and New Zealand punks. Drawing on the twitching, uncomfortable vein of punk that spawned bands like Electric Eels, Television and The Fall the band instead imagines those souls coming together on a Brisbane budget, recorded with friends who’ve all found solace in their outsider status and lack of steady employment. It’s relentless in it’s pursuit of the ramshackle charms that drove Flying Nun back catalog and made heroes out of Dunedin’s scrappiest janglers.

That’s not to say that the band comes off as overly derivative. Rays just seem to know the sound they want and they’re taking it with measured strokes. They’re also making it seem effortless in the process. They’ve enlisted a double shot behind the boards, with Kelley Stoltz recording and Mikey Young spit shining it to a scotch taped gloss. Like fellow Trouble In Mind labelmates Omni, they’ve found a way to Polaroid the past with a touch of tape hiss, a bit of bookish devotion to their forebears and some good ol’ frenetic fretwork. The album rides the line between din and divine well, couching bouncy hooks inside gnarled amp fury and crushing paranoid pulses into oddly aloof classics. Something tells me this is going to be the kind of album that’s not loved enough in it’s time but regarded well with 20/20 hindsight.




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Paperhead

A distinctly polished upgrade of Paperhead’s nostalgia-centric rock trip, their latest Chew is an ambitious reach that pays off for the most part. The Paperhead is one of those band’s that has been clanging around in RSTB’s reach for a few years now. They came up as underage wunderkinds with a taste that spoke to hours dosed in YouTube fodder that knocked through Nuggets-era material like Kaleidoscope, Gandalf, Tomorrow, July and Rainbow Ffolly. They emulated the off-kilter, day-glo pastiche so well that it was charming, but not didn’t necessarily speak to carving out their own space. They’d excelled at winking at collectors who couldn’t help but feel that “the kids were all right.” But on Chew they begin to move away from that and into their own space, finally coming to terms with the influences that have bubbled up in their formative years, blending that ’60s sweet tooth with a more complex pop that speaks to their familiarity with the Elephant 6 catalog as that stable developed out of their own adolescence.

Tracks like “Emotion (Pheromones)” speak to the kind of lush pop made by Beachwood Sparks and middle marks of Beulah. “Little Lou” is a hazy dose of Olivia Tremor Control’s outer reaches. Elsewhere they fully embrace a ’70s eclecticism that found a home for country’s mellow glow within psych-pop’s walls. They dabble in dual languages on standout “Dama De Lavanda” and they seem to fully swell into a sense of who they want to be. Yes, they are still quite smitten with the seeds of the past, but now they appear to have let more of themselves into the mix. As an added plus those skin deep and sleeve worn influences have all seeped deep into the system and germinated in delightful ways. This is a band still having fun with the kind of music they enjoy, indulging but also adding to the conversation. It’s psych-pop with a human heart.




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Paperhead – “Dama De Lavanda”

Nashville’s Paperhead are one of those band’s I’ve been waiting on to take the bump up to a full-on widescreen approach. They’ve been seeding some great psych-pop over the years, embracing the lo-fi trappings of the times on their 2010 debut for Infinity Cat and the eponymous follow-up LP on Trouble in Mind a year later. They’d hinted at a bigger scope on Africa Avenue, but its this wide-open slice of psych-pomp, which embraces huge atmospheres, lounge jazz, blue-eyed soul and a ’70s hangover of indulgent (yet glorious) major label epics, that feels like they’ve finally found themselves. The bi-lingual romp from their upcoming album, Chew, drops in flutes and sumptuous horns to the mix of fuzzed out guitars before breaking down to a psych-soul outro. Can’t wait to see how this fits into the scope of the whole album. It feels like a great first step towards the band embracing their full psych-pop potential.


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