7.30.2014

King Tuff


King Tuff and RSTB have come a long way over the years. Way back in the Myspace days we posted a piece called “Who Is King Tuff?” and it all tumbled from there. Following Kyle Thomas from formation to a too soon demise, through a foray into Happy Birthday and watching the Tuff rise again from the ashes to Sup Pop prominence. His previous self-titled album was a welcome return, an awkward cousin to Was Dead, all grown up but still pummeling though the sweet spot axis where punk and power pop meet to get weird. Like a Twinkeyz album hopped up on nitrous with a Cheap Trick budget, Black Moon Spell pushes the Tuff legend to excess, amplifying his stereoscopic image fifty feet high and climbing. Everything here is bigger, shines brighter, bedazzled, triple stacked and running on eight cylinders.

And perhaps that's the one real criticism that can be made of the album, mid-piece "I Love You Ugly" suddenly drops fidelity and Thomas does his best Nobunny impression on a scrappy, off-kilter love ballad that never seems to fit with the rest of BMS' outsized personality. Elsewhere though, the amplified barrage of color and plasticine pop are a perfect next step in the Tuff pantheon, with Thomas even answering an RSTB wish with the inclusion of a new version of "Staircase of Diamonds". The Mindblow track was always one that got left in the rubble, but here it gets its own glossy remake and extended breakdown that's equally enticing as the Lou Reed-esque swagger of the original. If ever there was a figurehead of the Burger-boppin' denim set, its Tuff, paper crowned and leading the charge of headbang afternoons and record store educations. He's created a whole world etched in cheap tattoo and built from Happy Meal toys. We've just got to navigate it and hold on for the ride.

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posted by dissensous at 9:42:00 AM 0 comments

7.29.2014

Hot Knives - Hot Knives
This one almost seems to have been calling out for a Raven review. The band, containing two former members of The Flaming Groovies, recorded the pieces gathered here in the late 70's but the album that was meant to be never materialized. Its since been
issued on CD (Grown Up Wrong Records) but is now seeing its first vinyl treatment via the Big Star name checking Got Kinda Lost records curated by Ugly Things Magazine's Jeremy Cargill. Aside from two singles (which were hailed with great anticipation by Bomp! Magazine at the time) none of the other songs were formally released at the time of their recording. Likely its due to the fact that the band was a bit out of step with what was happening in San Francisco at the tail end of the 70's. The record is packed with jangled, Byrdsian pop that melds male-female vocals into a breezy folk-pop mix that would have fight right in a decade previous in the same geographic region. However, as seems to be with elusive records, the fact that this never saw release only built its reputation greater among collectors of this type of crystalline pop perfection. In amongst the originals are a handful of deft and appropriate covers (Moby Grape, The Knickerbockers) and the latter proves that even they were crate digging a bit at the time. So it ends up a cycle of collectors digging collectors. This seems only fitting to end up on a new label celebrating the weird missteps between proto-punk, jangle-pop and power pop and well worth some time on the table.

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posted by dissensous at 9:31:00 AM 0 comments

7.25.2014

Community Radio - Real Transformation / Puff of Smoke
Sydney's Community Radio peaked some interest around here with their 2012 album Serious Magic but it wound up a bit soft around the edges in the end. Since then the band has had some time to bubble and within a few singles
they've come 'round to what was just simmering on that first album. Their latest double shot, "Real Transformation" seems just the thing they've been looking for and in fact the A side smacks of some Brit DIY, complete with tousled bass and a backward guitar solo that tosses this just ever so into psych-pop territory. Tags and bags aside the track is a winner and their b-side only goes to support the theory that the band are worthy of perked ears for any new full length on the way this year.

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posted by dissensous at 12:30:00 PM 0 comments

Wooden Wand


It wouldn't be a year around RSTB if there wasn't an appearance (if not multiple) by our patron saint James Toth. This year he's already graced one album, the mellifluous and staid Farmer's Corner, another outing for Fire Records and rife with country ease and sunset hues. Though the record veers into some great tracks, like the mid album burner "Adie" it errs on the glossy side of his catalog. So as a nice balance to the studio set he's got another homespun and scuffed collection out now via Seth Olinsky's (Akron Family) Lightning Records. Its a fitting place for Toth's hammock bound story songs, a set that crackles with the hiss of eight track, swaggering through the last call streets of small towns like the best moments in his catalog. Its not to say that one of these albums outweighs the other in terms of skill or execution, just that I have a bit of a soft spot for the moments on Azog-Toth that feel like a window to the songwriter's study. This album is the root of the Wand, unadorned, unhurried and built on pure charm. Toth's issued collections like this before and he'll do it again for sure. One thing that'll always remain a given with WW is that there will always be more songs than you can absorb in a year so take your time with this collection and with those studio gems from earlier in the year. Its likely worth the wait.

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posted by dissensous at 10:00:00 AM 0 comments

7.24.2014

Hedvig Mollestad Trio


I'm sure I'm late to this one, come out as it did in April but who cares once the thrum of Norwegian jazz with a Sabbath pulse hits the speakers. Its hard not to spread a little love. I know that the jazz tag might scare some away (though why should it) but there are few trios in which the term 'face melter' gets applied to these days and this is certainly the case with HMT. The heady centerpiece "Arigato, Bitch" breaks out of a low lying fog of doom riffs to swamp down quickly to a noodling exploratory core before kicking back towards a thunder of guitar to close. Its not the only track to devolve into a din of locked note inroads that split the hairs between metal and jazz. The combo is tearing apart the DNA of both forms to splice a monster of unchecked fluid aggression with Enfant. And make no mistake, Mollestad is the anchor here, her thick and thundered riffs bring the trio screaming from the speakers, though her rhythm section certainly lacks no ability to hang on in her wake, amiably weaving a storm of bass and drums between the hammered hits and stoner sludge. It takes a certain talent to bridge the river between Paal Nilssen-Love and Tony Iommi but it seems that Mollestad and crew are well up to the task.

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Its also well worth checking them out live. Missed 'em at SXSW but here's hoping they return soon:


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posted by dissensous at 9:11:00 AM 0 comments

7.22.2014

Comet Gain


Going on two decades, Comet Gain have become something of a jangle-pop institution now and it seems that the band has no intention of calling it quits soon. Their latest takes a more autumnal turn for the band, eschewing some of the uptempo crunch for a bit more of a sway and stumble 'round the garden feel. Of course the band still can't help but break out into a brittle pop explosion once or twice but for the most part they seem content to let the edges mellow in temperament if not necessarily content, David Feck still sounding in fighting lyrical shape here despite the sunset hues. Perhaps the swoon was introduced along with new bassist James Hornsey, he of ex-Clientele lineage and sporting a similarly puddled jangle past. Whatever the reasons, as my own dancing days take a downturn this one is hitting a soft spot of summer sway that seems to halt the swelter of oncoming August. Feck and crew have never really flagged in their embrace of the proper feel of ''83/'84 prime pop and they only guild their reputation here with a spot on example of jangled brilliance.

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posted by dissensous at 10:02:00 AM 0 comments

7.17.2014

Zig Zags


There's nothing subtle in Zig Zags debut release. Its a dirty shot of punk / metal that seethes with energy and pulses with the spirit of high school notebook scribbles and faded denim. Every song tumbles out of the gates swinging wildly, but the production is by no means messy. It has the taut feeling of 80's speed metal that's just a little murky at the edges rather that brittle and bright. Its impossible not to feel some sort of kinetic force pushing the pedal to the floor, the elbows to the face or the body headlong into chaos while their eponymous album's on the speakers. There have been plenty of bands of late that have found the sweet spot between garage and punk but few that evoke the windpipe punch of early 80's rumble better than Zig Zags. Its been a banner year for In The Red and this is just one more reason they'll always be an endless well of punk froth.

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posted by dissensous at 10:48:00 AM 0 comments

7.16.2014

Lower Plenty


Of all the Aussie bands that are worthy of breaking the US bubble it almost seems odd that Lower Plenty, one of the more languid, almost ramshackle acts is the one that's making a play at the States this year. Their sophomore album, a quiet, though tense affair, is seeing tandem release through Bedroom Suck and Mexican Summer shortly. Picking up pretty much where the slow burn sizzle of their previous album left off, Life/Thrills feels very much like a fly-on-the-wall recording of friends just sitting on the porch and kicking out smoke-swirled tales of melancholy and suburban sprawl. That thread of melancholy is the tie that binds these songs together and it keeps the tone calm and easily enjoyed but with just the right bit of squeamishness making the teeth grind unconsciously. The record picks up as it progresses, building to what I'd consider the band's best track, "Lots of Lows," a direction I hope the band pursues with future releases. They received tons of acclaim in their native country last year, so maybe its not so surprising that they're ones to hit these shores domestically. Worth the time getting to know Life/Thrills but as with many gems it may take more than a few listens to really find the shine beneath the shade.

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posted by dissensous at 9:23:00 AM 0 comments

7.15.2014

Silverhead - Silverhead
Its been too long a stretch since this space honored some glam and this one's an essential link in the chain between the hard rock pummel and glam rock swagger of the mid 70's. The band predated the real rise of glam, releasing this diamond crunched
debut in 1972 to little acclaim. They opened for plenty in the hard rock circle but they seemed to fuse the outsized personalities of Marc Bolan and Alice Cooper with the dirty rock crunch of Slade and Geordie. The band signed to Deep Purple's label Purple Records but the larger band's success and support did little to raise their profile, which is a shame because they have just as many moves as many of the other gems littered among the glitter of the glam movement. They issued a sophomore follow-up to this but it did just about as well and the band split shortly thereafter. Still their reverberations can be felt in glam and hair bands that followed, from the big-riffin' pouts of The New York Dolls to the satin punch of Hanoi Rocks. Most members went on to some level of fame, ranging from front man Robert DeBarres appearance at Live Aid with The Power Station to, probably most notably, bassist Nigel Harrison joining Blondie. Still, this debut stands as a gem that time forgot, but well worth looking up.

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posted by dissensous at 9:32:00 AM 0 comments

7.14.2014

White Fence


I'm returning once again to the Tim Presley fold. It’s been a while actually and I hadn't realized until really digging into this one, but aside from the collab with Ty Segall it’s been since that magical debut that White Fence has appeared here. Perhaps it’s the renewed involvement of Segall here that makes the difference. After the unedited bloat of Family Perfume Vol. 1&2, Is Growing Faith and a promising (but still not quite there) turn round the bend on Cyclops Reap, Presley ditches his home recorded digs for a studio and the guiding force of Ty in his corner. Truthfully, it seems that's just what was needed to get the sparks humming and the psych-pop glowing. There will forever be a Syd Barrett hangover associated with White Fence but here the arrangements are warm and inviting in a way that paisley pop really needs to succeed, heavy with lavender and lilac and begging like a meadow to just lie back and let the songs waft over you. The hooks are more plentiful than they've ever been but never over bearing, this being psych-pop after all, they float into view like oil and light, striking just the right patterns in bold and fascinating colors. He's a prolific son of a bitch but sometimes that just makes the bright spots all the brighter, file this one on the necessary shelf next to yer copy of Tim and Ty's Hair.

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posted by dissensous at 9:45:00 AM 2 comments

7.09.2014

Wireheads


Despite the definitive, career spanning suggestion of the title, The Late Great Wireheads is the debut album from the Adelaide band. Lead by the twin forces of Dom Trimboli's pained howl and Tom Spall's often equally pained fiddle, the group plows through a kinetic and utterly messy brand of Aussie garage punk. Though the band might owe more to The Fugs than the Stooges in their delivery the record still comes across with a forceful kick to the jaw that warrants a stand at attention. The fiddle is by no means an indicator of this being a country romp, Spall plays it like a secret weapon, adding textures like a synth in some places and tearing it like a guitar solo elsewhere. The band layers on some flute winding through the waters but it all ends up more frenetic and chaotic than the individual components might lead on. The squall revs like an engine's cylinder on more than one occasion, pushing tracks into a din that seems impossible to escape from but Wireheads always return to some sort of melodic resolution. Its country rock as played by an outlander's perspective, soothing balm to a soul that can't be calmed, folk songs fueled by chewing gravel and crude oil. Needless to say, you should be looking into them.

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posted by dissensous at 10:45:00 AM 0 comments

7.08.2014

The Deep Freeze Mice - The Best Of 1979 - 1989
Night People shine a light on underground UK/DIY act The Deep Freeze mice, culling the best of their ten album career with the help of guitarist/vocalist Alan Jenkins. The band bubbled
under the surface but gained some fame popping up in the legendary Nurse With Wound list. Their albums wandered the map from the post-Bowie hangover of My Geraniums Are Bullet Proof to the creeping dread and Gong-style plunk of The Gates of Lunch. The band's albums are all now quite sought after collector's items, showing up in small numbers on their own labels Mole Embalming and Cordelia Records. They had a way of blending psychedelia, politics and bent forms of post-punk into a stew that seemed wholly their own and as such its nice to finally have a retrospective of the band's long career on hand. It'll turn up as an LP on Night People's venerable stable mid-July accompanied by the distinctive Shawn Reed Cover art that's made the label one of the most collectible since Sacred Bones.

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posted by dissensous at 11:59:00 AM 0 comments

7.07.2014

The Allah-Las


After seeing the Allah-Las in action last year at Brighton's Great Escape and hearing what has to be their catchiest single to date, the breezy garage swinger "Every Girl," this one was met with some anticipation. Produced by Nick Waterhouse (who has his own pretty great nugget from 2014) the album locks them right back into the summer of '67, jangling their way through a Byrds meets Shadows of Night vibe that suits them well. The only downside to the album seems to be the reliance on instrumentals, breaking the album up with 60's library bits that lean heavy on The Ventures vibes but sometimes drag on a bit longer than they need to. Still its no sophomore slump, the band still embodies a California cool and a stuck in time quality that's perfect for summer drives and Tiki cocktail nights. Its the stuff of 80's surf montages and 60's beach blanket bonfires. You've heard it before but that never stops the vibe from putting a smile on your face.

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posted by dissensous at 4:44:00 PM 0 comments

7.02.2014

Aldous Harding - "Hunter" Video



The gorgeously hushed folk of Aldous Harding has it feeling somewhat like RSTB's beginnings around here, echoing the off-kilter folk boom of the early 2000's that popped up here with such a frequency. Hannah Harding, who performs under the stage name Aldous, has an idiosyncratic croon that's bound to net her a few comparisons to Joanna Newsom but rather reminds me of Orion Rigel Dommiesse, albeit with a much more country lilt and a fuller sound to the whole affair. This debut track from her eponymous album feels like a traditional song given a full breath, swelling around her wispy voice with the full force of a country troupe playing with a soul they let leak through the strings.

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posted by dissensous at 10:35:00 AM 0 comments

7.01.2014

Lewis - L’Amour
There can be a lot of slack thrown on the Internet age for devaluing music but there's a strange alternate current that allows some real gems to come to light from obsessive collectors feeling the need to share their odd discoveries with the world. Lewis' lone LP is just
such a discovery, a private press with little to no information available save for speculation and a dedication to Christy Brinkley on the original sleeve, but it was passed from collector to blogger and eventually found its way to Light in the Attic. The label has given it a second life and now Lewis' Arthur Russell meets Nick Drake vibes drip from the grooves of an LP yet again. The record has a cloudy countenance, hushed and weirdly at odds with the tales of the artist blowing into town in L.A. with a model on his arm, recording the LP and blowing town without ever paying any bills. That story fits several genres of players but a sensitive troubadour with a smoked honey delivery isn't necessarily one of them. This sounds like the kind of private press record made by a shut-in on four track in an underpaid apartment, not the work of a playboy grifter. But maybe that makes it more intriguing, maybe it doesn't matter at all who Lewis was. Maybe these tracks just stand on their own. Judge for yourself, it worth pulling up a bottle of wine and a hushed moment to let these subtle bits of soul sink in.

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posted by dissensous at 9:27:00 AM 0 comments

6.30.2014

Low Life


Aussie three-piece Low Life recorded this in 2011 but setbacks sidelined the release until recently with some help from R.I.P. Society (seriously why are you not paying attention to R.I.P. Society?). The record is a brutal slash and bash that smacks of fellow South Hemi heavies Constant Mongrel but with a bit more life breathed into the seams. The LP plays out like a litany of excess, recounting tales of gambling, football, drugs, sex, Rhianna (seriously) and life on the constant shit end of the stick played out over the kind of brutal sonic assault that deserves those themes. There seem to be few sunny days in the scope of Dogging but that's ok, sometimes its best to lean into the shit, just let it wash over you and accept that occasionally the only way out is to dig down. Low Life lives in the muck, revel in it and seem confused as to why you're not happy about it. They're unconcerned as to why the clouds have blotted out the sun. Who cares, its dark in this bar anyhow and soon the night will come soon to wash these concerns away. Its not often that a band knows just when to surf the negativity into a kind of burnt clean break, but these three are doing it well and you should damn well be listening in.

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posted by dissensous at 9:41:00 AM 0 comments

6.27.2014

The Woolen Men - Quick Trips EP
More tip-of-the-tongue feelings from Woolen Men, this time expanding from their NZ jangle tendencies and breaking further into the 80's college rock heart. The four songs here have that kind of worked grit that feels at once bored and accusatory, just the
type that would have spun between a set full of Wipers singles and nuggets from The Clean. Its only four cuts but that's enough to see that the band is digging further into the fidelity pile, cleaning up a bit of the smudges from their Woodsist LP. Here's hoping they don't push it too far, that little bit of hangover haze swaying over the background is part of their charm, no need to go cleaning that all up. All in all though a solid couple of tracks that leave another hole in your wallet for the greater good.

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posted by dissensous at 10:20:00 AM 0 comments

6.26.2014

Woodbines & Spiders


The Ghost Box fan in me can't help but geek out a little bit on this one as alums The Advisory Circle and Moon Wiring Club have paired up for a collaboration as Woodbines & Spiders. The album has been in the works for some time but it acts as proof that good things can't be rushed. Employing 80's tape decks, a Playstation with music software and a rack of modular synths the pair have wormed their way down darker hallways than one would rightly expect. Though, perhaps is just Ian Hodgson (Moon Wiring Club) rubbing off a little on Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle); as the former spends plenty of time wandering weird corners of the musical spectrum while the latter has always had a penchant for the pastoral. Here though, their combined psyches take on a fever dream direction, pulsing synths shot through the fish-eye lens of half remembered dreams and ether induced hallucinations. That drugged and delirious vibe lends to it the kind of horror soundtrack feeling that's been rife in the synth world lately, though W&S seem more on the level of 'The Island of Doctor Moreau' than 'Halloween'. Disembodied voices ring through modulated tones and a host of laudanum lidded moments scratching at your darker consciousness. This is definitely not a record for the faint-hearted, but rather a Radiophonic flicker from the fourth dimension.

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posted by dissensous at 9:38:00 AM 0 comments

6.25.2014

Siinai


Albums from Finnish instrumentalists Siinai tend to pinpoint on a theme, their previous album taking on the jubilation of competition and glory of victory as subject matter. Here they move on to an attempt to encapsulate supermarket culture, ostensibly working to capture the drudgery of a necessary chore in their incessant chugging beats and the slick flicker of fluorescent in their Vangelis sheen. Now the idea seems to be that somewhere between the repeated imagery of cans on a shelf and the sensory deprivation of recycled air people snap into automaton territory. I for one rather enjoy grocery shopping, with bins of produce inspiring nights of cooking but the bigger the box store that this is happening in the more their disorienting grooves seem prescient. If, say, this was to soundtrack a hellish tape loop visit to Walmart that winds up with endless aisle walking, hoping vainly for some assistance from anyone in a stenciled vest, then yeah the sense of unease and dread at the edges of Supermarket are on the nose. Its certainly an album of its time, though rooted in the Krautrock burbling of plastic synth, it transcends is influences to lock right in to our societal need to calm through consumption. Maybe with a pair of headphones and some light wandering, the next trip to the store can be more of an odyssey than a chore with Siinai at the helm.

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posted by dissensous at 9:30:00 AM 0 comments

6.23.2014

Cold Beat


Grass Widow were always an RSTB favorite, so its nice to see that in their absence the band's Hannah Lew has a new project popping up on her own Crime in the Water label. Over Me isn't entirely off base from the sound that Lew pursued in the bounds of Grass Widow, its a thrumming bit of post-punk that gets delightfully lost in her combination of hazy vocals and introspective lyrics. The record receives a couple of production and mixing boosts from two familiar names around these parts, Phil Manley and Mikey Young respectively tackling the technical side of things here. The album is packed with a feeling of heavy summer air, the kind that's filled with a cold humidity, bringing both a light sweat and a chill simultaneously. Lew's songs are alternatively wrapped tightly around coiled spring guitars and shot through with a breathiness that's metered and patient; the two forces rubbing against one another and waiting to spark at any moment. In the end though its not the spark but the friction that proves the most engaging.

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posted by dissensous at 9:23:00 AM 0 comments