Posts Tagged ‘Trouble in Mind’

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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James Hoare on East Village – Drop Out

For the latest installment of Hidden Gems I asked James Hoare (of Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls, Permanent Ornaments) to pick a lost piece of his personal music landscape. As always, Hidden Gems is based on the idea of those records that are found along the way in life that you can’t believe you never heard about, the ones that just blow you away on first listen and seem like such a find. They’re the kind of records that get left out of all the essential decade lists and 1001 records you need to hear before you die type of listicle… the ones that truly got away. For this installment in the series James picked overlooked UK jangle gem Drop Out from East Village. I asked James how this lovely record came into his life and what the record means to him.

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Ultimate Painting

Three albums in Ultimate Painting have proved that they are not a band who burnt their wick in the short term. Refining their melted horizon vibes over the last two albums, they come fully into their own on Dusk. James Hoare has always been a secret weapon in Veronica Falls’ roster, with a beyond-his-years aesthetic that’s given pathos to his own songs and seen him pair up recently with luminaries like Pete Astor (The Loft, Weather Prophets). Now, along with Jack Cooper, he’s creating a bummer vibe that’s picking up pieces of The La’s, Dios (tell me that “Song For Brian Jones” doesn’t have a bit of “You Got Me All Wrong” in its bones and I’ll call you a liar), The Free Design and Heatmiser. Where they earned their VU fan club card on the first album and traded it in for a Teenage Fanclub badge on the second, they’ve come fully into their own on the third, synthesizing their love of pop both contemporary and on the dour side of the ’60s cannon this time ’round.

They’ve found a bittersweet comfort in pop’s arms, never showy, never overplaying their hand. There are scads of indie bands that will fill you full of bright strum, jangled choruses and twee notions but what’s great about Ultimate Painting’s realization of character is that they know they’re not a bolt of sunshine and they couldn’t care less about your reaction to their vibe. James and Jack have created a constant comedown, a space of perfect sighed bliss and reticence. I’ve been waiting for the band to find this balance, this refinement, and on Dusk they become the band they’ve always threatened to be. They’ve longed to be your resigned exhale into the cold air, the musical equivalent of frosted breath on a November morning, curling ever into the ether. They’ve left in the imperfection of tape hiss, giving the album a feeling of confessional beauty, frayed, but at the same time obviously pored over with a meticulous comb and ordered by two songwriters who have spent years finding their voice. This is the best that Ultimate Painting have presented and its one of the most autumnal records to slide out this year, fully formed and hugging the listener like a friendly shoulder.

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Ultimate Painting – “Song For Brian Jones”

Ultimate Painting have steadily smoothed their sound, found their footing and arrived at the autumnal opus that is Dusk. Standout elegy for troubled Rolling Stones member Brian Jones is pretty indicative of where the band have taken their sound for this album ironing out their VU love and wandering closer to the sunset psych of aughts mainstays like Dios (Dios Malos if you want to get litigious) or the less cavernous moments of Beachwood Sparks. The song is a fitting tear shed for Jones and as strong and argument as you could ever make for getting James Hoare and Jack Cooper together. The clip is appropriately swimming in double imagery and softly psychedelic shots of Hoare’s studio and a verdant landscape. Its not the most groundbreaking visual but its a nice accompaniment to the band’s pop flutter. Between this and the Pete Astor album, it seems that James Hoare is making himself responsible for some of my favorite moments of gentle pop hum this year. Here’s hoping he keeps it up.



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Chook Race

Amping up the pop from last year’s About Time LP, Chook Race are due to issue their new album on Brisbane’s always awesome Tenth Court and the ever reliable Trouble in Mind here in the states. They’ve smoothed the wrinkles and delivered an album that draws on Flying Nun’s jangled past as well as some more Americanized indie pastiches that feel welcome in their hands. While the dreaded D word hasn’t crossed into the US with regards to Aussie pop, abroad Dolewave rules and Chook Race have largely steered clear of what would normally be the hallmarks of the current indie ripple, though they do have a tendency to meditate on the everyday hangups that quirk up our lives. They break apart from the pack though and trade shaggy swagger for a crisper sense of melody and a sparkle that gives the songs on Around The House a yearning quality that’s less aloof than it is quietly lonesome and incredibly catchy.

The band have a handle on winsome pop that’s not knotted up in rote lackadaisical jangle as much as it bounds from the bounce of strings to driving buzz in an instant. The band kicked the surf out of their system for the most part and found a new friend in the heart of the Athens, GA songbook – think more R.E.M. and Elf Power than Pylon and B-52’s. They knock around a mix of guy/girl vocals (how come we never say man/lady? Is it that rock keeps us forever young?) in perfect volleys, spiriting the album along to an almost cruelly quick conclusion. They leave the fans wanting more, while providing a salve for the troublesome clouds of daily life. Honestly, its hard to ask for more than that of a pop album these days. It soothes the savage burn, complements a cup of tea and you can shake ‘n shimmy to it.



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Chook Race – “Hard To Clean”

Melbourne’s Chook Race put out a scrappy but fun album last year that showed more than a few crinkles of promise and they’re making good on it this year with a follow up through Tenth Court on the home court and Trouble in Mind here in the States. They’ve never sounded cleaner or more at ease than on their new single “Hard To Clean.” The track is a crisp pop number that belies its hooky charms with a bittersweet bleat running under those jangled harmonies. The video seems like more of a lark, but hell some nice nostalgia for the heyday of the Thighmaster or Sit and Be Fit is always a worthwhile trip. A solid sender and laying a pretty good dose of anticipation for the rest of the album comin’ up down the way.

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Omni – “Afterlife”

New cut from this Atlanta trio on Trouble in Mind recalls a welcomed jittery blast of new wave / post-punk dragging the line from ’77 – ’81. Flecked with bits of Televison’s hangover and Robert Quine’s shaky surgeon’s hand, the band seems well versed in their music nerdom. Stapling those post-punk guitars to the safety glass gaze of Devo and Pylon, they’re definitely rumbling down a hallway that I’ve got a soft spot for. The video pays homage in kind with some Commodore 64 vintage graphics that feel out the same angles they’re pinning to the track. This song’s giving me plenty of room for anticipation for the rest of Omni’s full length. Hopes on that the rest has the same jittery jones.

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Doug Tuttle – “A Place For You”

MMOSS’ Doug Tuttle is finding his way down the path of psych-pop apologist on his second album for Trouble in Mind. Much like fellow labelmates Morgan Delt and Paperhead, he’s dug squarely into the Paisley Underground, sounding like a modern upgrade of their 60’s pop worship, though that in no way diminishes his knack for a great hook and songs that pair well with wide sunny skies. In an effervescent new video for “A Place For You” the artist pairs balloons with projections for a fun, yet really simple idea. The track jangles its way through two and a quarter minutes of sun-dappled strums and that kind of faded Fuji-film nostalgia that takes you back every time. Tuttle’s latest LP It Calls On Me has plenty more in store for jangle freaks and its recommended that you dive in further.


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