Friday, October 10, 2014
French sneering garage band Strange Hands are back with another 12" after a 2 year wait from their debut album "Dead Flowers". From the first 30 seconds of "Tombs of Walkyries", it's easy to tell that something has changed in the SH camp. It still has the Strange Hands feel to it but with a much darker and heavier sword swinging around. "Tombs of Walkyries" is an instrumental track that opens the album but in no way feels like an intro track as much as it feels like a viking march into battle. "Buried" comes in strong with this stoner/doom style guitar lead mixed with the signature 60s keyboards we've come to love from Strange Hands. The track evolves into a slow doom groove that really drives the song before it's joined by a psych freakout at the end of the track. "Golden Arrows" brings back the more pop influenced side of the band that was prevalent on their debut. "Sudden Death" is a fuzzy little piece of rhythm & roll a la King Khan & BBQ or Black Lips mixed with that California beach swag everyone has come to know and replicate. "Realm of Dawn" is another guitar driven piece that pulls you into the rhythm of the track and lets you focus on the music as the band only sprinkles in a couple of rounds of 'I feel fine' or what sounds like 'I feel dead, occasionally. Though, I don't consider this a true full length since there are only 6 tracks, it's still a welcome addition to the Strange Hands brand of garage rock and will definitely be getting stuck in your head for weeks to come.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Different Skeletons have been churning out catchy garage rock tunes consistently for 3 years now. They've returned with their new album, Devils. As was evident on their sophomore album Without Country, Different Skeletons is a band that seem to improve with each release. Devils shows the band removing a lot of the reverb found on Without Country and transitioning, as most garage rock bands of late seem to be, from noisier production to one more akin to The Fresh & Onlys sound. Whereas, some bands seem to lose their edge by making this change, Different Skeletons have changed for the positive. This doesn't mean, however, that they've gotten soft. "No Easy Task" shows the band reaching back into the darkness for a haunting spaghetti western influenced track that perfectly accents the bands clear yet not quite hi-fi sound. For fans of Different Skeletons, this album should be a happy addition to your collection and it seems the band is coming close to being pushed further into the lime light of the underground.
Monday, October 6, 2014
San Francisco producer Al Lover, along with help from Harvey Leisure, has just released his new album Sacred Drugs and it is everything we were hoping for. Al Lover combines tribal music and hip hop ideology with garage rock, psych rock, psychedelia and whatever else he gets his hands on. He has done collaborations with tribal drone band Goat and had a single featuring Tim Presley better known as White Fence. On his new album, however, he is really honing in on his craft. Sacred Drugs plays out as an escalating piece of music that is being created as one track gives way to the next. "How Are Things On Planet Earth" and "The Orange Dot" begin the album and are calm building tracks that lead to the flowing idea. "A Shaman's Hand Is Infinite" and "Jupiter Birth" bring in some of the psych aspect into his flow before he dips into a pulsing dub in "Sun From the Jungle". "Super Strength (Power Plants)" features Morgan Delt, who's amazing tape last year gained him a sturdy fan base and his sound is perfectly in line with what you find on Sacred Drugs. Here's to hoping we see a full Al Lover/Morgan Delt collab album in the near future. Sacred Drugs is a brilliant production from an artist who is just gaining his stride.
Tossing themselves into the realm of California Garage Punk all the way from Spain is Futuro Terror. With a demo that only existed briefly on bandcamp and a split with Fantasmage, this is the first full-length for these high energy garage rockers. While this album isn't exactly groundbreaking and does seem to stick to a rigid formula, there is great promise to be found on these tracks. Sticking to a brand that favors the modern California Garage Punk scene, Futuro Terror bring a slightly darker, grittier edge to a familiar sound. Songs like "Que Sensacion" and "Toda La Noche" present a tougher punk side that is nicely contrasted by more power-pop oriented songs like "Su Lamento" or the jamming "Por Miedo". The overall flow of this album works really well as they seem to balance speed and melody over 12 tracks in what is sure to be only the beginning for a promising band. Stream and/or download the album and see if you don't find "Toda La Noche" and "Atracción" spinning around your head for weeks to come.
Swirling psychedelia, droning and buzzing guitars, engrossing composition, and a stupor inducing rhythm section. These are the qualities found on Swahili's debut album back in 2013. Currently holding their rituals in Portland, Oregon, Swahili are back with a new cassette of what seems to be 2 long drones from older sessions. In true drone form, these tracks each near the 10 minute mark and are perfect for zoning out to. Side 1 is a somber, slow crawl that utilizes Swahili's electronic side to ominous effect. Creeping on for about 3 minutes before giving way to a more ethereal section, this track draws you in and delivers a sound that seems to be leading you through a rite of passage that seems almost dangerous but leaves you wanting to continue on and take the path less traveled. Side 2 gives the sensation of walking through the woods at dawn. It's calm, serene, and beautiful but you can't help feel like someone might be following you. About midway through the track, Swahili minimize their output and focus on a haunting melody that slowly evolves it's way into a dub-based trance before gently fading away. Swahili have been honing their craft and it shows. Do yourself a favor, grab your headphones and let Swahili guide you through another gorgeous trip and be sure to experience it for yourself if they bring their rituals to your town.
Somewhere in Spain, there is a sound rumbling and brooding throughout the streets. Low, desolate tones that seem like a warning to an upcoming disaster scene. This sound, however, is being emitted by Balcanes and they have delivered it onto us in the form of a two song EP released by Discos Humeantes. Starting off with Plataforma, we have groaning, sludge-filled guitars droning over a simple yet hypnotic rhythm as it slowly drives itself into your skull before giving way to casually reverbed vocals that drip with despair and compliment the haunting music surrounding it. The B-Side gives us a monster drone titled Autopista. Unlike Plataforma, the rhythmic chaos gives way to a simmering rumble that builds and builds until you're lost in a hazy, mesmorizing pattern accompanied by distant wailing that seems to be coming closer every second. If you're a fan of noisy, rumbling rock music, then don't miss out on this EP. Stream it, download it, and enjoy a video while we wait for their next release.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
With a recent synth punk craze that seems to be exponentially expanding these days, it's easy for bands to fall through the cracks and become nothing more than another one off tape release on a random little known label. This is not the case with SGNLS. Transmitting out of Philly, this fierce trio manage to not only keep their songs interesting, memorable, and completely engrossing but also seem to be able to seperate themselves from the trend. On their new album titled simply II, you find clear production, great songwriting, and a vast array of musical influence as well as prowess. Whether it's the beginning track "Time Stands Still" that invokes images of the 80s and vocals from singer/keyboardist Anthony Cesa that would fit perfectly into those early NWOBHM bands or the absolutely epic "Love Goes Running" that brings you right to the doorstep of early New Wave and Industrial sounds that made chaos loving punks sing along and dance like fangirls, this album does not disappoint. This is sure to be finding it's way to many collections very soon. The year may not be over but SGNLS have made a strong impression with II and it'll easily find it's way onto my 2014 top ten list.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Coming to us once again from France, La Secte Du Futur (The Cult of the Future in English) were at the forefront of the heavy reverb-laden garage rock craze that took over in 2012 and 2013 with bands like Catholic Spray, Zyklon Beach, The Clap, etc. Their second full length Greetings From Youth brings us right back to where they left us on their self-titled, though with an obviously more mature approach. The album stays true to form with their catchy delivery and keyboard driven interludes like "God Bless Our Home" but with a more polished sound that really lets the band shine. "Come And Love The Guru" is a great example of this maturity showing influence from psychedelia, garage rock, country, and even a spaghetti western style ending that ties it all together perfectly. "TNT Faithbelt" brings to mind 80's new wave hits with a distinctly French psych sound glistening on top. "Respect Pour Le Peuple" is a quick driven song that starts strong and never lets up. Distant vocals call out over a dreary landscape where a lone survivor seems to be calling out to anyone left. A powerful track that just shows the evolution of a stronger band. Overall, their range seems to be growing exponentially all the while, crafting a signature finish that makes each song uniquely their own.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Constant Mongrel hails from Melbourne, Australia and bring a new slab of experimental post-punk to the world with Heavy Breathing. Equally akin to bands like Iceage as they are to Wire or Swell Maps, Constant Mongrel walk that line that breeds creativity. Not being satisfied with the general melancholy surrounding most post-punk acts, this 4-piece delivers with an upbeat rhythm section that drives their jangly guitars and fierce sound deep into your mind. The song "Choked" has this quick paced pounding drum scheme that evolves into a hypnotic noisy crescendo. "In The Courts" dips more into garage rock sensibilities with catchy guitar and a light-hearted approach. "Inflicted" closes the show with a minimalist intro before transforming into a sinister post-punk gem before finishing off synth heavy and out of breath. Fortunately, for us, Heavy Breathing takes you in and leaves you gasping for more once it's over.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Sunday, April 20, 2014
There is a secret being held somewhere in time in Sydney Australia. Luckily, we've uncovered a piece of it by the name of Royal Headache. This punk band is just as much grit as they are glamour. Tying together punk angst with vocals and lyrics that seem to belong on college radio from the 90's or R&B hits from years gone by. Try listening to Stand and Stare and not have it stuck in your head for the rest of the week. Unfortunately, these guys have declared a break up after only one full length and a handful of EPs and singles. Stream and buy and be sure to check out everything these guys decided to leave us with before ending things way too soon.
Another of Portland's great bands have dropped an epic cassette on the underground music world. Wooden Indian Burial Ground create garage rock with the intensity and imagination of Mr. Bungle. You never really know what to expect next with these guys, sometimes within the same song. "Plastic Man Man (Stuck In Time Time)" is a full on aural assault from beginning to end with the chaotic background rhythm and rambunctious lyrics setting you up for a fun musical experience. "DE-BOR-AH" comes in slightly calmer with a more traditional primitive garage rock structure mixed with some spectacularly psyched out guitar leads taking you on a trip down a deserted stretch of road high on something yet unidentified. "Death Rays (Of Love)" seems to take some obvious influence from Thee Oh Sees but is executed so well that you probably wouldn't care if they kept it up. The album ends with the 10 minute song "Why? (Part One)", which starts out as a quirky lo-fi pop track but morphs into a noisy drone before turning into an all out rocker that reprises "Plastic Man Man" and brings the album to an odd close but makes the album work very well on repeat. It's a good thing, too, because this is an album that demands multiple listens to let it really sink in. WIBG have found a way to take simple structure songs and turn them into something so much more interesting. Keep an eye on these guys in the future.
Saintes is the brainchild and solo project of Anne-Sophie Le Creurer from France. Her album Horizontal/Vertical seems appropriately named as you find influences from across the board melted into this creation. The first track "The Letter" is a weirdo lo-fi pop track that leaves you feeling just a bit uneasy. Following that is the track "Realms You've Hidden", which sounds like My Bloody Valentine covering 90's grunge hits in your friends basement. The title track "Horizontal/Vertical" is an eerie track that invokes Sonic Youth, complete with a monotonous spoken word section channeling Kim Gordon to round it out. "Full of Colors" is a track where Anne-Sophie delivers a haunting overlapping vocal melody that is as creepy as it is appealing. Horizontal/Vertical isn't for everyone but it will surely find it's way into the hearts and possibly nightmares of those of us who like the idea of music as an art form.
French multi-instrumentalist Jaromil Sabor returned in 2014 with a new album, continuing on with his uncanny ability to float seamlessly across the musical spectrum. 2012's Marmalade Sculpture was a brilliant album with gem after gem playing from your speakers. In 2014, Jaromil seems ready to show that he has matured and is ready to play. On La Santa Roja, Jaromil has really stepped into a new game and has brought along friends who bring instruments like a trumpet, a flute, and even a Glockenspiel. The album strolls on with "Diamond Mind", a 60s pop song that transitions into a grand musical experience complete with big band backing. Next, we get "Neither The Sand Nor The Sea", which sounds like a beachside soul party getting crashed by a 90s shoegaze band to awesome effect. "Silly Miss Lizzy" is a beautiful song with an amazing horn section carrying you off into dreamland before you get thrown awake and knocked out by the all-out garage punk of "Blourk" or "The Sun Don't Shine On My Corvette, lo-fi production, 59 second length, speed, angst, perfect. When you wake, you find yourself in a northern soul party and Jaromil, along with backing singers, lift you up with "Midnight Gat". All of a sudden, Darrell stands up and things get weird. "Darrell Standing (I Know What You Mean)" really is as odd as it's title. It starts out like one of Pink Floyd's weirder moments or something found on a Swell Maps record. This art show then breaks into a mix of 60s organ driven garage rock and haunting desert rock. This album is a real musical experience and holds a special place for me alongside bands like Akron/Family, Crane Angels, and other bands that seem to be able to play just about anything and make it their own. La Santa Roja is well worth a listen. Stream it and tell your friends about Jaromil Sabor.
Qúetzal Snåkes from France play a creative blend of garage rock, psych punk, and spacerock. "Lovely Sort of Death" is a spacey jam with wailing guitars sprinkled throughout before fading into a psychedelic stint at the close of the track. "Cosmic" is a bit quicker paced and gets closer to a powerpop song covered in gloom and the guitar here brings to mind The Smashing Pumpkins. "I Trip Through Love" is a light romp through heavy garage rock tinged with psych for flavor. The Lovely Sort of Death EP is a solid effort for this band that settles them somewhere between the spectrum of The Black Angels and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Waiting to hear what's next.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
San Francisco's heavy psych beach rockers Burnt Ones are back with their new album Gift. Though, clearly a Burnt Ones album at it's core, a change has been made. The heavy in their heavy psych sound has been turned way back and the band seem to be focusing more on the psych and ramping up on the bubblegum pop that was always buried in a haze of sleaze on previous albums. For die hard fans of Burnt Ones brand of rough around the edges pop songs, Gift may not be what you were hoping for. That's not to say that they've cut it out completely as "Money Man" still has it's fuzz guitar, pounding drums, and aggressive presentation. Songs like "Submarine" and "Is It Over?" start off with a strong pop presence but finish with fuzzy guitars being choked into submission. However, even with the changes, Burnt Ones have created what should be considered their most concise and musically sound album to date. The future seems promising for Burnt Ones as they continue to build on their newly well crafted sound.
Friday, April 18, 2014
From the dirty basements and foulest sewers of Philadelphia comes lo-fi rock n roll wizards Lantern. On past releases we found Lantern churning out fearsome rock n roll punk tunes that we knew were catchy and fun but ended up being buried under walls of fuzz and reverb. This time around, Lantern has swapped in the fuzz and reverb for straight up rock n roll. Starting off the album is "Evil Eye", a track of full frontal rock from the seas of the 70s with the vocals being handled by Emily Robb. An instant classic in it's own right. "King of the Jungle" kicks off with a nod to early doom and groove that drips with enough Swag to make Mick Jagger blush. "Where Are We Now" brings to mind driving ragers like Deep Purple's "Highway Star". "She's A Rebel" is a slow burning track led again by Emily that lulls you into a hypnotic trance. "The Conjurer" is a sneering bluesy jam rattles on and is punctuated with a sultry harmonica solo at the close. "The albums closer, "Heart In Your Tongue" is a nod to the days when Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band were grinding out rocking tracks with major saxophone sway in their favorite local bars. From beginning to end, this album bleeds booze and leaves you feeling drunk as funk. Best album of 2013.
Nerve City has a special place for me in my musical history as being one of the first lo-fi, blown-out, punk fueled forces that I was really taken by with the release of the Red Tops 7" in 2009. Those first few chords of Windows had me sold but there was always that wish that you could hear it just a bit better. The self-titled long player in 2010 brought those desires to life but the vocals of Jason Boyer still seemed a bit too far away, which always seemed a shame. However, as time went on, the production seemed to be steadily improving until the sound was fully realized on Asleep On The Tracks. All of your favorite things about Nerve City are still there but, this time around, you can actually hear it all. What really brings this album into it's own though, is the introduction of a new backing band that bring to life the great songs being written by Boyer. The vocals have been pulled into the forefront and are no longer slightly buried under everything else that happens in these songs. From Velvet Underground-esque pop songs like "Rifle Of Peace" to southern-fried rockers like "Nothing Nothing", there is a little here for everyone and should definitely not be slept on by fans of not just the lo-fi scene but also psych heads who dig Dead Luke or Pink Reason's catchier moments. It seems that Nerve City's music gets better and better and Boyer is still as sharp a songwriter as he's always been.