Posts Tagged ‘Trouble in Mind’

David Nance Group

Takes a lotta balls to rock a song called “Ham Sandwich” and totally nail it, but that kinda sums up the spirit of The David Nance Group. Nance, the Omaha harbinger who’s been issuing under the radar platters for Grapefruit and BaDaBing, has now walked on over to perennial powerhouse Trouble In Mind to issue his best slab yet. Peaced and Slightly Pulverized is straddling two visions of the ’70 like a man stuck between realities. In one, Nance is the hard-touring divination of Crazy Horse crashing through covers of Keiji Haino’s smolder strewn catalog. Slip through the mirror, though, and Nance could easily have been sweating pre-dawn unease with the erratic art punks of Pere Ubu and MX-80. What works well about him is how he reconciles the two poles of his personality. His sound is born of the dirt, with Rust Belt angst built in its bones, but he never gets so far from the concrete that the open air lets down his hackles.

The album glows like coals building heat at the bottom of a fire and there’s no telling when its about to throw sparks hard in your direction. Nance’s delivery is haunted, hounded, and hungry. He howls like a man stricken and wronged, he growls like an animal wounded by life and lashing out at those who’d foolishly try to corner him. In equal measure his guitar shapes sonic fury into rusted tangles of heavy heat that scream out in their own perfect anguish. While he’s channeling the ozone huffing delivery of the art punks pinned down in the city, he alchemizes their zeal into lyrics that reflect the broken edges of town rather than the college centers. He’s a destroyer come to reconcile with the gods of blight and heaven help those caught in the crossfire.

While he’s had an erratic past, slinging between Omaha and the West Coast, scratching out full album covers of past classics and then finding himself battling legal notices to let them live online, this is Nance at his core. This is the most focused and ferocious he’s been to date and gods willing it’ll be the beginning of a scorched-earth run of albums that light up heads across the land.




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The Shifters

Melbourne’s Shifters embody the shaky, shaggy core of the current crop of Aussie indie. Over short format offerings they’ve been cranking out scrappy, striped-down songs that dip into the same wells as Terry, School Damage, The Stroppies, and Boomgates. Not to stay content with merely snagging influence from Terry and the ‘Gates though, when it came time to lay down a debut the band connected with the hardest working man in OZ, Al Montfort, to record the LP. They convened at his home studio to bang Have A Cunning Plan into its ragtag shape. Seems they picked up a few tricks from Al beyond just sticking this to tape. There’s a loose twang, hung on the same squeamish nail of post-punk that holds up Terry’s tattered charms and they’re proving to be just as efficient at working out maximum impact from an economical setup.

That’s not to say they wind up b-team turnouts or boy wonders to Al’s considerable talents, though. The band’s taking that shaggy, low-key sound and sneaking digs on corporate standards, mundanity, colonialism and toxic politics. Singer/lyricist Miles Jansen’s got the nasal nuance to duck down in the pit with the best of the new class rising up the ranks in Melbourne. Songs like “Straight Lines” work anxiety into tumultuous earworms- jittered by unpredictable jangles and stumbling through keyboard lines intoxicated with irreverent glee. While surface appearances leave the album looking off the cuff and trading in casual clamor, the truth is it takes some planning to feel this effortless.

By layering their loose-knit clatter, the band weaves songs that reveal great overlapping details when run through the speakers multiple times. They’re all about the little details, just not about buffing them to shine for the listener. Pick through the grit the band reveals a bright talent for knotty melodies like fellow 2018 standouts The Goon Sax. They’re proving that they’ve got a great handle on the aimlessness, restlessness, and anxiousness of youth and can pin it to a memorable jangle better than most. Have a Cunning Plan leaves the band in a great position to hook ‘em in for the long haul with a debut that’s rewarding listen after listen.



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Rays – “Yesterday’s Faces”

More excellent news from the Bay Area today, as Rays return with a news of an album this winter. The band’s previous album knocked down a lovable corridor of post-punk that was particularly jangle jostled, bringing to mind the curdled pop of The Soft Boys and the brash honesty of Television Personalities. They show no signs of dropping those jangles from their arsenal on the upcoming, You Can Get There From Here, employing the very same tactics that have thrown their South Hemi counterparts in Australia and New Zealand head over heels for the sonics of past, with a laconic lyrical view on the present. On the excellent first single, “Yesterday’s Faces” the band even touches down in OZ to pick at the shaggy licks of The Clean, then welds them to the urgency of Wake in the ’90s.

Allusions to other bands aside, it’s a crackling track that’s balancing the upbeat tangle of strings with a sighed sadness that sticks like a lump in the throat for days gone past. The keys buzz like bar-light neon and Stanley Martinez’ vocals are flecked with a detached disillusionment that gives the track its bite. The band’s debut showed promise and with this track they’re definitely making good on it. Gonna want to keep an ear out for this one when it lands in November.

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Mountain Movers – “This City”

Connecticut’s Mountain Movers are plowing back into the calamitous cloud of doom-psych that’s driven their feedbacker souls for the past few years. The first cut from the upcoming Pink Skies is a scorched-Earth flayer that proves yet again that few guitarists are touching the nebula of psych as feverishly as Kryssi Battalene. The song wades in hooded and hollowed but by the end Battalene brings a torrent of guitar evil down from on high, obliterating anything in her path with an apocalypse shred. Be warned, this is just a 3 ½ minute dose of what’s lurking on their upcoming LP. Hopefully the world’s ready to receive this psych reckoning with open arms.



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The Shifters – “Straight Lines”

Aussie scrappers The Shifters caught my ear with their first single, the rat race takedown “Work, Life, Gym, etc” and they don’t disappoint with another sneak peak into the workings of the upcoming Have A Cunning Plan. “Straight Lines” digs into the current OZ trend of shaggy indies that feel like kitchen sing-a-longs – true embracers of the slacker-pop ethos, the recline into the comfort of this track and can’t help but make the listener feel included in the camaraderie. The song is stuffed to the stitches with jangles and woozy keys and a low-key day in the life tale of taking the edge off and avoiding responsibility. The track’s a charmer, which could easily be said about the whole of their upcoming LP for Trouble in Mind. Don’t snooze on this one.




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Matchess

With Sacracorpa Whitney Johnson brings to a close her trilogy exploring perspectives on perception. The final album nudges her sound out into the open, augmenting her windswept noisescapes with a twinge of pop via skittering beats and mournful synths. The album, even more than her previous two, envelops the listener, blotting out the periphery with a blinding dazzle of light obscuring the eyes until through the squint only hazed shapes and dizzying sparkles remain. The album winds up kindred spirits with fellow static surfers Grouper and Circuit des Yeux, shrouded in mystery and pulled through the darkness by longing, but Johnson’s brought her own take to the gauze-bound brand of dreampop that’s been tied to her peers. The record has a quiet hope rather than a sandblasted desperation. Her songs glow like a beacon in the whiteout whirling all around, gasping in the depleted oxygen, but fighting for something beautiful in the crushing din.

While the trilogy’s albums function together as a larger take, Sarcracorpa can easily be divorced into a standalone that stands atop her discography. The strangled throes of pop on display here are Johnson’s best and they constantly wage an environmental battle to break out of their respirator cage and shimmer free in an unpolluted air. Trouble in Mind has been on a bit of a popular tear lately, but with Matchess they’re proving that complexity isn’t lost in on a label that’s constantly looking to the fringes of pop rather than dragging the net down the middle of the road. The album is a hushed gem working hard to shake the curse of outsider status. As the heatwave summer bears down on the world with little empathy, you’d do well to embrace the sweat with Matchess’ beautiful plea for serenity.




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The Shifters – “Work, Life, Gym, Etc.”

Excellent crossover between my love of Aussie pop and my love of Trouble in Mind today. The label announces the release of the debut from Melbourne’s The Shifters. The LP was recorded by Total Control/Dick Diver/Terry shambolic pop treasure Al Montfort and it bears a bit of resemblance to the shaggy pop of recent work with Terry with spillover appeal for fans of the shaggy shake of The Stroppies or the discomforting burn of Wireheads and Vintage Crop. Definitely in line with the newer school players of South Hemi slacker pop, but the single also boasts a nice fidelity bump from their previous 7″s via Montfort’s production. All in all, bodes well for an album of similarly shaded jangle nuggets when this one lands in September.

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The Love-Birds

In the wake of their Empty Cellar debut single, a sparkling tangle of jangles and clear-sky hooks, San Francisco’s Love-Birds wound up on the radar of a new generation thirsting for guitar’s pop prominence. They funnel the energy of that short-form stunner into an LP that proves they have a deft hold on jangle’s cross-generational evolution – tapping into The Byrds, 12-string history while echoing alt and indie pop hallmarks from R.E.M. to The Flaming Groovies and Teenage Fanclub. They even drag the rudder through the South Hemisphere, picking up nods to The Go-Betweens and The Chills then cold-press all this history down to a record that feels instantly familiar while still coming out fresh as a bay breeze in spring.

While they’re definitely pulling down a full set of sleeves, practically polka-dotted with hearts beating for the past, they swerve the stamp of college-town cover band looking to stun with their ability to belt out “End of the World As We Know It” sans crib-sheet. Instead they’ve bound up the control board glow of late night nineties college radio and, with the aid of San Francisco strummer and legend in his own right Glenn Donaldson, offered up a record that’s intangibly catchy, bittersweet and buoyant. The album captures that feeling when the airwaves were just right and the lo-watt station two towns over came in crystal clear at 12am, letting a few late-night discoveries blossom into lifelong obsessions.

On In The Lover’s Corner, the band feels comfortable picking at songs of love unrequited and scratching the itch of nostalgia that a good many likely have for an era with more to offer than the packaged in amber playlists built on hits rather than heart. The Love-Birds are helping helping further the left side of the dial even as the dial disappears from view.



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Matchess – “Of Freedom”

Whitney Johnson has been carving out niche for Matchess over the last few years with stints on Trouble in Mind, Digitalis and Monofonous Press. Her works are dark, meditative, and shielded from the outside world with a protective barrier of noise and a haunted hum. As might befit her collaborative work on albums for Circuit des Yeux, Bitchin Bajas and Plastic Crimewave Sound she’s not afraid to push herself to the edges of accessibility for sounds that reverberate through the mind and body on a tuning frequency set to shudder. Though Grouper comparisons might come fast and easy with Johnson’s work – the two artists both share a delicate core surrounded by an intricate storm of sound – on “Of Freedom” there’s more than just haze and haunt. The song clips along on a compressed air beat buoyed the sighs of strings, leaving Johnson’s voice to ricochet around the speakers in a delicately disorienting fashion. The track closes out her engrossing new album Sacracorpa which is due out July 27th on her old stomping ground at Trouble in Mind. If you’ve been missing Matchess up to this point then this might be a good time to start paying attention.



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The Love-Birds – “Hit My Head”

SF’s Love Birds have been taking a trajectory conducive to my own heart here at RSTB. Following up a stellar first EP for Empty Cellar the band hooks up with longtime favorite Glenn Donaldson to mix their upcoming LP for Trouble in Mind. The first single from the upcoming In The Lover’s Corner jumps off of the jangle-pop springboard, built around curlicues of song that dredge up The Go-Betweens and The Chills, but ultimately it finds its own embrace of power pop as well. The song has DNA from early adopters like The Flaming Groovies and a tougher strain that brings to mind Matthew Sweet during his Bob Quine years. So, if you were to lob a dart squarely at the chart of influences that hook me in, Love Birds are smacking the center every time. Throw in a mastering job from Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and a cover shod in block cut pastels and I’m pretty much sold. Gonna want to watch out for this one in May.



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