10.21.2014

Steve Gunn


It's hard to follow up the year Gunn had in 2013, with a celebrated solo album and RSD gem Golden Gunn, but he's back at it again and in true form, he's wrangled another gorgeous solo cut that's pushing him ever further towards the pop edge while still keeping that mournful soul that's always drawn us in. Way Out Weather is less of an introspective tumble than Time Off, opting instead for expansive skies tinged with amber hues that feel like they might stretch on forever. He's returned again to Black Dirt Studios, gestational home to many RSTB beloved albums, and there Gunn and his core players (plus a few new additions) shaded the album into form with fine brushstrokes. Gunn's become something of a new troubadour in the process of the last couple of records, equal parts JJ Cale and Tim Buckley, while contextualizing his wilder guitar side into digestible, but no less remarkable form. Though he does let his wilder instincts prevail on closer "Tommy's Congo." So while he's got plaintive pathos to spare and Way Out Weather draws the listener in with promises of smooth porch rockers that blossom on further inspection into weightier material much to our delight. It seems certain that fall has found a new companion in Gunn and this may well end up your soundtrack through the end of 2014.

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posted by dissensous at 10:06:00 AM 0 comments

10.15.2014

Hundred Visions


Austin's had plenty of heat as a garage rock breeding ground and the latest gem from the city of 1000 shows is Hundred Visions. The band's blending SF garage-punk along the Segall / Cronin axis with a touch of pop in the vein of Green Day in their less opulent days. The result, their sophomore LP SPITE is a thick-veined, rubber-necked blast of Texan heat that lodges Acme safe sized hooks in between Oh Sees worthy whoops and guitar frazzle. Its hard to escape the Dwyer umbrella these days as a garage punk band with any exuberance, but to be fair they don't spend the whole record in that shade. Taking it down for a few slow moments that pluck at our 90's pop hearts, the mid section of the album shows they've got more than just rabble in their tank. A solid sender from the Southern line and well worth a few spins on the table for sure.

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posted by dissensous at 2:20:00 PM 0 comments

10.14.2014

Andy Stott


Stott's always been a master of gathering clouds, forcing menace to the surface in small rivulets that build to a storm. By the time the creeping dread is on you, its far to late to do anything about it. He gathers a new squall on Faith In Strangers twisting his way through metal shards of dub as befit any of Stott's past works, but there's also a renewed appreciation for calmer waters. Lingering icicle moments of anticipation that leave the listener waiting for the crush. It finds the line between violence and the salve without ever feeling like he's trespassing in either tone. As he has in the past, Stott utilizes the vocal collaborations of Alison Skidmore in both instances to add a sense of, not necessarily pop, but an ethereal, smoke bathed soul. Its an alternate dimension's torch record, battle cry and requiem all in one.

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posted by dissensous at 1:44:00 PM 0 comments

10.09.2014

Herbcraft - Push Thru The Veil
Been a while around here but Herbcraft return to the fold, this time expanded to a trio with Aaron Neveu of Woods on drums & production and Joe Lindsey on bass. The first new offering from the new setup is "Push Thru The Veil" a
psych/dub, bleary-eyed trip through the heather. Brittle guitars that bring a touch of 70's afro-funk crunch nicely atop a thick stream of butter dubbed percussion and bass giving that new rhythm section an instant workout. It’s a fuller sound than the band's brought forth before, but still true to their faded gatefold psych approach. The flip on this one actually cranks the dubplate tighter with a version that's all swirl n' hotbox swelter. The single acts as a run-up to a new album on the way next year. From these sounds, there's a lot to be hopeful for in 2015. The single makes way as the first offering from the band's own label SA!

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posted by dissensous at 9:51:00 AM 0 comments

10.06.2014

Bloods


Ever since those early singles we've been following this Aussie trio and its good to see them finally grow into their own on an album that delivers well on those budding expectations. Versed in 90's Elastica riffs, Dum Dum Girls moves and tearing through a pixie stix punk ethos the album actually ends up equal parts sunshine days and heart hung lonesome odes that delve further into the pop well than the band has ventured previously. Naturally its good to see them stretch, but its hard to hold back the pogo when the band cracks open the fizz and lets loose on those wild, hair shaking moments that feel just right to hairbrush sing the morning away. With some crisp production and a eye on the widescreen, Work It Out full realizes the shading that they'd hinted at on their previous EP and it remains a perfect addition to some early Fall playlists, squeezing the sugar rush bounce of "Want It" or the doleful pining of "College" between Beach Day and Jenny Lewis for a perfect segue.

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posted by dissensous at 10:41:00 AM 0 comments

10.03.2014

Beach Day


Still a terrible name, still doesn't matter. Beach Day is rooted in the ringing, resounding voice of Kimmy Drake, who's got the pipes that Bethany Cosentino's been searching for. The band's always rumbling just below that horizon, an unfortunate case as they've got a stronghold on sunny riffs, handclaps and sand-grit guitars that make you wanna pop the windows open at 60 and just drive straight towards the sun. Its all heartbreak, he said / she said and hubris but that's the beauty of Native Echoes, there's no need for furrowed brows and politics. Sometimes its best to just keep things simple, sweet and instantly replayable. It’s a doo-wop record with dirt in its teeth and for that you can be grateful. There are still a scant few days of hangover summer left and the wise bet's on a boombox and a copy of Beach Day. Hell, even if it gets cold, there are more than a few tracks here that wrap tight like a favorite hoodie. Find time to savor it.

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posted by dissensous at 8:39:00 AM 0 comments

10.02.2014

Bass Drum of Death


BDoD blew onto the scene a few years back in the wake of main miscreant John Barrett's involvement with Flight, the cornerstone of Mississippi voodoo fuzz. Barrett bore a similar style to Flight's octane heavy, vocally obscured burners but immediately began to burn cleaner once he hit the long players. With Rip This the fuzz has subsided with the tide but there's still plenty of six ton riffs and Southern garage power pummel to punch the bedroom walls of each and every track, leaving behind a mess of plaster and earache hanging in the air. Barrett's gone from underdog sideman to garage darling in double time but that's not to say that its not deserved, every smoldering chunk of Rip This lives up to that boastful title. Its rips like a fishhook through the cheek, drawing blood quickly and leaving jagged scars like a pox on the listener. Hard to deny that this one's got legs and bears repeated listens.

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posted by dissensous at 8:32:00 AM 0 comments

10.01.2014

Ausmuteants


Yet another Aussie band pulls a 2014 twofer that proves prolifically minded bands can keep up quality with their ambitions. Order of Operation, their second LP for the year continues their push towards jittery, bugs under skin synth punk that's one part Repo Man and one part belt-sander scuffed early Devo records. A deep, weary sickness permeates pretty much every inch of the record, and that sickness seems to be the core of their sound. They may be younguns but they have a sense of what they hate, and I can get down with that. They've deepened the lyrical load from some of their more adolescent humor on past releases to, if not completely adult, at least approaching that level. If you need more reason to celebrate, the band is hitting the states for a tour finally, bringing their uneasy noise to US stages.

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posted by dissensous at 10:11:00 AM 0 comments

9.30.2014

Premiere: Grace Sings Sludge - "Difficult To Luv" Video


Long a fan of The Sandwitches around here, its good to get some new music coming our way out of that camp. Grace Cooper's been making a few home recordings as Grace Sings Sludge and the latest lands at RSTB fave Empty Cellar. The first track from the upcoming Red Light Museum is a creeping, dusk laden track that builds from quiet musings to a tension strung crescendo. Cooper's voice remains the centerpiece aroiund skeletal guitar and drums, and as usual her torchlight croon lingers long after the last notes. The release will be out in limited, hand-dubbed cassettes and download over at Empty Cellar.

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posted by dissensous at 9:32:00 AM 2 comments

9.26.2014

Kevin Morby


Morby jumped out of the shadow of his former projects (Woods, The Babies) pretty distinctly with his first solo full length and he only lengthens his own shadow with his latest, Still Life. As with the first, the album takes on the shoes of wandering troubadour (albeit one with a piece of NY always in his pocket) and the songs have a kind of rambling afternoon feel about them. There's a spacey feel to the edges of Still Life, rooted in pop's strum but nonetheless hooked into the wistful watching of the sun sinking over the bay. Those twinkles on the water, the breeze off the bay, they all have their place on Still Life, but more importantly so do the passers by. It winds up as a postcard flipbook of characters that all seem to make Morby a hard man to pin down. Is it he who pines or is he merely echoing the wrinkles in a passer's brow? As with most albums worth their weight, the elusiveness remains its best quality. Whether its his pain or not, his ennui or yours, Morby captures it wonderfully.

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posted by dissensous at 8:32:00 AM 0 comments

9.24.2014

Grouper


Its hard not to be excited for a new set of Grouper songs, even if they are technically an old set of Grouper songs. Liz Harris recorded the bulk of this album on an upright piano in Aljezur, Portugal in 2011 with the final track reaching back to 2004, a recording she made at her mother's. The thing about Harris' half-remembered dream albums and her laudanum odes is that they all seem plucked just from the moment you smell the smoke of that cigarette beginning to catch the bedspread on fire. If Carbon Monoxide poisoning were a genre then a good chunk of her discography would fit snuggly in that box but its nice to hear her dissipate some of the haze this time. She's still wafting through the halls of infinite sleep, but now the clouds have lifted enough for Harris' voice to ring through; with just the dusk-light plunks of piano tethering it to land. Ruins has a rainy day at the shore quality to it, as if each note were just another raindrop in wet sand and in that, it remains gloomily comforting. Its Grouper cut to her very core, and at that core Harris still remains able to wither the staunchest detractors with a quaver of her voice.

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posted by dissensous at 10:03:00 AM 0 comments

9.23.2014

Purling Hiss


Flipping through the tracks on Weirdon, the scuzz and dense amplifier hate of Purling Hiss' early records seem like a completely different band. If Polizze cleaned up and went for a toughskinned version of indie rock on Water On Mars, he's gone practically bubblegum for its follow-up. Ok that might be pushing it a bit far but he's certainly knocked Weirdon into a pop corner and it seems to suit him just fine. The hooks ring up front, the scuzz trailing in the back or pushed to the sides. And there's a quick and dirty sheen as he moves out of the studio and to a more home recorded version of his new direction, which gives an air of the slacker 90's punk he's emulating rustling at the edges. Think more Guided by Voices ('round about Mag Earwig) guitar tones hung on Pavement sized hooks and you're getting close, maybe a little Replacements/Lemonheads twang for good measure. But despite all the aesthetic hemming and hand wringing, Polizze's laid down some of his best songs yet, certainly a fair chunk of Weirdon will stick in your head more than his S/T debut or Hissteria. It’s nice to see him grow into these pop shoes and really tug at those 90's impulses that just feel like home.

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posted by dissensous at 9:54:00 AM 0 comments

9.19.2014

Step-Panther


Step-Panther have been bubbling on the RSTB periphery for some time, first popping up on that indispensable Lenny Kaye-curated Aussie Nuggets compilation and then with a smattering of their own EPs and debut. However, its their latest, Strange But Nice, that sees them finally tap into the pop potential that's been humming below the surface. The album was produced by Tom Iansek of Big Scary, whose own work met tons of acclaim last year both home and abroad, and his pop instincts seem to have unlocked the kind of offbeat indie that bristles with hooks throughout songs about Game of Thrones malaise, horror-schlock romance and perplexing odes to 60's comic staple Namor. Its hard not to smile during their slacker sway choruses, the oversized guitar breaks and jangle tug-o-wars or those croak-throated vocals that seem imperfectly perfect. Took 'em a few to hit me right but this one is landing pretty cleanly on the must play list for around here.

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posted by dissensous at 5:12:00 PM 0 comments

9.18.2014

Espectrostatic


Alex Cuervo refines his take on the John Carpenter / Goblin horror soundtrack formula, slotting himself next Umberto's quavering synth-punk and shooting the whole thing through with a motorik beat that gets the blood pumping. The Hex Dispensers alum previously wandered into the field of imaginary soundtracks with last year's self-titled LP and a few rough EPs that tipped toed into the dark hallways, but he seems to have spent the winter immersed in Death Waltz reissues and on a Carpenter movie marathon. The results push well into the creepy territory, but as with his checklist of influences the album stands alone on synth merits rather than needing imagery to bring the raised hairs on the back of your neck. Notably Cuervo also hits that sense of melancholy that permeates the best of those 70's analog sountracks, that moment when all seems lost and at least a few compatriots have taken the brunt of the axe. That's where Escape from Witchtropolis (not entirely sold on that title though) transcends being just pastiche and works its homage in the best sense of the word.

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

9.17.2014

The Frowning Clouds


Australia strikes again, with this Geelong group adding to the high-rise pile of catchy, crunchy, slightly blurry releases from the other side of the drainpipe. Synthesizing a love for Texan psych with their own country's historically off-kilter pop sensibilities and close neighbors Flying Nun's jolt of jangle in tow, this one doesn't fall too far off the pile of influences that have been making the Aussie rounds these days but that's no reason not to love the sunshine strut of Legalize Everything. The band's got a nice handle on those weird ticks that made psych nuggets stick in the crags of your brain. Couple the knack with a few rock candy hooks and this one should pad out more than a few playlists over the next few months. From the Small Faces echoes on "Move It" to the stripped down swagger of "No Blues" the band checks plenty of boxes on the indie psych form and they pull it all together in fashion that feels like a quick spin of the 60's dial. Maybe cut out the mid album psychedelic satellite cut "Radio Telescope," which seems to reach for the "we're spacey" vibe just a bit too much, but otherwise a solid offering.

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posted by dissensous at 9:29:00 AM 0 comments

9.15.2014

Wildest Dreams


One listen through the self-titled album by Wildest Dreams and its hard to believe a few things; first, that this is a release from 2014 and not 1974, second, that this is primarily the work of a man best known for bringing disco and house to the UK. But it remains true that Harvey Bassett, a man known for six-hour marathon sets that bounce genres with little regard to preconceived notions, has now broached the world of rock and (reportedly) with a crack set of session musicians and vets, crafted an homage to L.A.'s past transgressions and excesses. That's the story, though it seems likely that most of the instrumentation is his own and the band just a figment. For the most part Bassett's genre hopping slows here, but still shows a bit of its collar, as the album is rooted largely in grit strewn 70's rock and drizzly 'Riders on the Storm' workouts, but the occasional bounce of disco, and the ozone fried whiff of acid jazz can't help but creep in at the edges. Which is to say that Harvey recontextualizes the crate digging notions of flipping through past influences rather than just re-hashing 70's catalog heavies, and to a large extent he pulls it off well. The album works as kind of smudged painting of 70's heroes and for those of you looking to the re-released column here, this will come as welcome addition alongside those values reissues.

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posted by dissensous at 9:06:00 AM 0 comments

9.12.2014

Cool Ghouls


Ah sometimes the sweetest surprises hit you just right. Seems that RSTB faves Cool Ghouls have a new record on the way soon and it’s just what Autumn ordered. The band roped in a few familiar names 'round these parts, recording live to tape with Sonny Smith and shipping mixing duties off to Mikey Young down in Oz. The results are another dose of their West Coast psych, dipped in some sunshine jangle and dappled in three-part harmonies that glow like the embers of the last summer sun. The band still excels at plowing through the half remembered tunes of our youth, the tip-o-the-tongue shadows that feel almost like seeds of memory but are really just a beacon of light beaming backwards through the ghosts of pop. They tumble, snatching glances at the prime Beatlesque pop that flowed not only from the Liverpudlian legend but the host of followers that swam in their wake, feeling like a Nuggets collection all its own. As a result A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye is a welcome respite to you crate diggers and lost flower children looking for a place to rest for a while, light up the tubes and push some good vibes from the cloth-front speakers of a plundered thrift store setup.

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posted by dissensous at 9:36:00 AM 0 comments

9.11.2014

Dan'l Boone - "Mindface" Video



Drag City are about to release the pulsing, monolith that is Dan'l Boone's debut LP. A well founded cast of players, Charles Ballas (Formant), Neil Hagerty (ex-Royal Trux, The Howling Hex, etc), Nate Young (Wolf Eyes, Regression etc) and Alex Moskos (Drainolith), surface to bring life to some dub scrubbed panoramas from the eigth dimension. Its hard to sum up the visceral weirdness of this record but they seem to have done a pretty good job with the video for "Mindface." Check out the transmission above.

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posted by dissensous at 1:53:00 PM 0 comments

9.10.2014

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard


Wouldn't be a good year for King Gizz unless they were two albums deep, runnin' ragged and blowing minds on two continents. Thankfully, they are and it’s us who reap the benefits. After the mothership that was Oddments landed and the band made good on some US tour promises, they've got another one lined up for November (with a reported album on deck just behind that) and its finding an apt home at Dwyer n Company's Castle Face Records here in the US. The first third of this fuzz behemoth shows ample reason why they've landed in the scuzz center of the West Coast. There's a distinct blown cone vibe running through the first four tracks of I'm In Your Mind Fuzz and they play like a breathless suite one after another with the insistent chug of bass and that high wail of harmonica tying straws like a frantic shaman. Only after the radio fade static and jukebox plunk runs out the groove between "I'm In Your Mind Fuzz" and "Empty" does the band seem to take a breath and after seeing them perform these live last summer it seems that's just the point. After the tar and cinder clears though the band returns to their prism refracted soul jams, with some real cool water oases floating out the backside of this sucker. Oddments is a hard bar to jump and in that respect Mind Fuzz doesn't necessarily vault the wall but that doesn't mean its not kicking ass on a good many 2014 releases all the same and begging for some of your pocket change. If you're not locked on this Flightless crew, and to that renaissance brooding in the underbelly of the Southern Hemisphere, then it’s about damn time isn't it?

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posted by dissensous at 9:10:00 AM 0 comments

9.09.2014

Relatively Clean Rivers - S/T
Long since one of my favorites, but unfortunately this has been unavailable for sometime on LP and appeared on some dodgy reissues (Radioactive I'm looking your way) but now Phoenix has a proper reissue of this Phil Pearlman classic. Pearlman was no novice at the
time of this recording, having done time in Beat of the Earth and the great Electronic Hole but striking out with his own band assembled to bring these songs to life. The album captures a quintessential piece of West Coast folk-rock and is well within the wheelhouse of Grateful Dead / Byrds / CSNY fans but should do well to pull in Woods fans as well (notably their Woodsist sublabel Hello Sunshine is named after a Relatively Clean Rivers track). The record is dappled in sunny West Coast feel with a very laid back approach on the recording. Occasional forays into psychedelic effects pop their head 'round but for the most part it hangs heavy into the sunset on the mountains, field hippy bent. There are a bevy of reissues of obscure 'classics' from the era but this is one that certainly measures up to the latter day hype.

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posted by dissensous at 9:39:00 AM 1 comments