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Friday, October 10, 2014

Strange Hands - Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

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 - Devils

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

Al Lover - Sacred Drugs

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.

Futuro Terror - S/T

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.

Swahili - Arkaik Excavations Vol. 1

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.

Balcanes - Plataforma 7"

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.