Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Kendra Amalie

The Beyond Beyond is Beyond debut from Kendra Amalia is a multi-headed monster of guitar, shifting styles as needed from pointilliste string runs with a metallic bite to soft-hearted country ramble. She dabbles with indie-psych, but more often than not, Amalie lays back into the bed of fingerpicked folk. The guitarist has created several offerings in her own name, though this remains the most polished. She’s worked with Wisconsin outfits Eleven Eleven, Names Divine, and Guitar Hell over the years and remains a fixture of the state’s scene. Intuition, however, is the sound of Amalie breaking forward into her own form. The patchwork approach works in her favor as a nuanced spread of her talent, and while sometimes the seams show, she makes it all fit together into a fairly ornate tapestry.

At its core Intuition sounds like an artist finding her brightest beams while still leaving room to experiment, always rolling away from being pinned down. That said, there are a couple of songs that seem to embody the light more than others. Corralling her fingerpicked prowess alongside a slow simmer vocal that’s just shy of Espers territory on “Stay Low,” Amalie adds in the pained cry of slide guitar and the song becomes a vital pivot point for the album. Likewise, the airy, haunted ripple of “Become the Light” fashions her heavier psych into a stunning explosion of folk put through the fire. With songs like these in her roster it seems only certain that she’ll work alchemical magic to craft an album that rides powerful winds of anguish and awe. Intuition will quite likely wind up the spark that lights the fuse.



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Proud Parents

Featuring members of fellow Madison pop heroes The Hussy and Fire Heads, Proud Parents pick up similar cues from those bands’ respective power pop bounce and garage gusto. Following on their Rare Plant cassette from last year, the band’s debut for Dirtnap is a non-stop blur of sunny strums, clap-a-along choruses and joyous hooks that fizz with life. The band boasts three songwriters – Claire Nelson-Lifson, Tyler Fassnacht and Heather Sawyer – and part of the album’s charm is listening to the three bounce their songs off one another. No matter who’s at the helm, they all sound like they’re having a blast with the remaining two jumping in to support with backup harmonies brimming with enough joy to turn any bad day around.

With production from Bobby Hussy (also of The Hussy and Fire Heads) the album takes on a bigger life than their previous cassettes, achieving a level of gloss and crunch that Hussy and Sawyer captured on their 2013 standout Pagan Hiss. While a crowded creative field seems like it could wind up with bruised egos, the album doesn’t sound like three songwriters pushing and pulling at each other or, worse, trying to outdo one another. Instead the eponymous album winds up a collaborative talent show with no losers, only winners. Proud Parents bring the positive vibes that are sorely needed this year. While 2018 is draped in its own drama, sometimes its nice to just turn it all of for 30 minutes and enjoy the sun. Take a breath, maybe press repeat. No regrets.


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F/i – “Space Mantra”

I’m always game to expand my catalog of records that fall under the Space Rock tag and this reissue from Wisconsin’s F/i is a long undersung piece of the genre’s puzzle. The band started with a focus on noise, jumping off from Throbbing Gristle’s innovations and beginning to move towards guitars by the time they recorded a celebrated split with their brother band Boy Dirt Car in 1986. They’d full cement the sound as they embarked on their 1988 album Space Mantra, which would serve as their breakout, and become heralded as a lost classic in psych and noise for years.

Now the record is getting a proper issue on Sorcerer records, cut to the same specs as the RRRecords original. The record is swathed in noise, chugging industrial storms that swirl around, nodding heavily to their earlier work. They take those storms and pin them under the sway of groove and that’s where the record gets interesting – finding a nice mesh of Hawkwind, Neu, Popul Vuh and the aforementioned Gristle. They wind up in similar territory to fellow travelers Loop and its easy to see a long, lingering influence in bands like Moon Duo and Föllakzoid. The band continued on through the early ’00s with several augmentations to their lineup, but this album still remains a high water mark for both the group and the genre.




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The Hussy

There were few albums that sparked as much joy around here as The Hussy’s Pagan Hiss from 2013. The album took your standard, work-a-day garage rock palette and injected a looseness and skewed pop playfulness to it that bordered on infectious. On their third album, the Wisconsin duo spit-polish the push/pull of their pop dynamic even further. Focusing on a heavier guitar sound and incorporating violin, lap steel and a barrage of effects pedals, the album marks a turn of the duo’s already bubbly songs into a headrush of fizzing hooks. Buzzsaw cascades of sound one minute and the next they blow the dust away to lean back into an orchestral tinged weeper. Its definitely the sound of a band finding footing and slotting themselves up nicely with some of their other ambitiously minded peers like Ty and Mikal who’ve taken those garage instincts and pop mindset and let the screen blow wide, making grander statements than anyone ever really expected of them.



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