9.03.2015

XAM


Hookworms certainly have an element or two of Krautrock coursing through their veins, and if there are Cluster and Tangerine Dream LPs pumping on their stereo, it’s probably courtesy of member MB. He's recently struck out for a solo outing as Xam, with a 12" of burbled, swirling eddies of kosmiche hypnotism out now on The Great Pop Supplement / Deep Systems. The A-side here starts a bit rigid, robo-grind that's less human than anything in Hookworms stable, but MB picks up some serious steam on the next cut, a lush dive down the whirlpool by the name of "Coke Float". The flip goes for epic length, a 22+ minute track that floats with the best analog stew. There are plenty of new age white boys tripping through this same aural valley but as with Daniel Lopatin and Cooper Crane, a few of them are getting it right.

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

9.02.2015

Bill Horist


Guitarist Bill Horist, long a member of psych collective Master Musicians of Bukake, crafts here a score for Calgary choreographer Davida Monk's piece Dream Pavilion. The score and accompanying dance piece set out to bring life to Netsuke, tiny Japanese sculptures that often depict gods, animals and people in moments of extreme emotion. As such the pieces vary by the type of character they convey, from slightly playful to, more often, dark and foreboding. Horist's use of prepared guitar and a Vietnamese lute called đàn nguyệt were the mainstays of the live performances but here he's further augmented them in studio with the addition of bass, percussion and electronics that further serve to bring out the usually frozen emotions that are caught in the Netsuke's expressions. The record acts as a journey down the snake's den, rather than the rabbit hole, winding and weaving through the dark corridors with deft precision and a predatory tension. Its jarring at times but on the whole an engrossing listen that captures the imagination even without the dance.

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posted by dissensous at 11:42:00 AM 0 comments

8.31.2015

Cold Showers


Cold Showers have been knocking singles through the cracked lens of 80's post-punk for a few years now. They popped up, as so many do, for a short stint on Mexican Summer and they put a single out on Art Fag before moving onto a string of releases with Dais. Now they've taken their sun-shrouded sound and worked it into a sophomore album that acts as a love letter to the twin kingdoms of Factory and Creation; bending bare, but crisp beats to the whims of fuzz ballooned shoegaze guitars. They've got enough pop sensibility to keep it from going into the goth end of the pool, though I'd imagine that their Cure Fanclub dues are paid in full, and while they're by no means are they creating summer anthems, there's a sparkle of catchiness under the surface. The songs on Matter of Choice are clipped and ready for greyer skies and streaks of rain, so perhaps the timing is just perfect to steel yourself away with a copy of Matter of Choice after the swelter dies down and the darkness eats away at the tail end of summer.

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posted by dissensous at 12:26:00 PM 0 comments

8.28.2015

Tijuana Panthers - "Set Forth" Video



Ok admittedly this has been a quiet week around the Raven, and apologies for that. It's been rather busy elsewhere, but when something great comes along, priorities must be given. Tijuana Panthers last album, Wayne Interest was a favorite around here and its great news that there's a new one out today. Poster hits the shelves imminently but to herald it, the band have an awesome new video that's inspired by 80s claymation classics like Penny Cartoons, California Raisins and Gumby. Being somewhat of a fan of the arduous task that is claymation, I can't resist this combo. Check it out above.

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posted by dissensous at 3:13:00 PM 0 comments

8.25.2015

The Intelligence


Lars Finberg kicks out another release under The Intelligence umbrella, and suddenly it does seem like a while since his bracing brand of garage-punk hit the speakers. Three years to be exact, but the interim is washed away under the cutting sneers of The Intelligence's caustic lyricism and skin crawling, panic laced guitar. Vintage Future may look like a dub session blowback from the cover art but inside the grooves its full bore Finberg, shaky and greased with the kind of nocturnal jitters he's been adept at wrangling. And that's not to say that in all that evil sway there aren't some hooks, there are more than a few that clasp onto your brain and hold for dear life and in tow a few flashes of fang that produce some of their most gnarled and ravaged material yet. Finberg even throws in a few lighter moments but it always seems to return to the barbed attack that makes this one stick.

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posted by dissensous at 10:38:00 AM 0 comments

8.21.2015

Royal Headache


Well I'd be remiss to gloss over Royal Headache's rise to prominence. Their last album came our way in 2011 via Aussie barometer R.I.P. Society. They've since gained prominence through US indie What's Your Rupture? and with their follow-up they crank down some of the frantic energy that drove their eponymous breakthrough. But that's not to say that there isn't plenty of heat coming off of High. It’s glossier and more restrained, if only in the production and perhaps the strain on Shogun's vocal chords. The album still taps into that wellspring of garage-soul that's equal parts lyrical testifying and hand shred strums. When Royal Headache hit, they hit like a defibrillator, a shock to the system that's well deserved and well welcomed. The moments when they tend toward slower tempos could be goosed a bit with some simmer, some sense of Sam Cook gone garage vitality, but it here it sometimes lands flat. So it’s the burners that still fuel their fire. But if they begin to find the balance between burn and smolder they'll get it right. For now High has some great moments when the band lights out for those sweaty moments under the stage lights.

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posted by dissensous at 12:25:00 PM 0 comments

8.20.2015

Herbcraft


Until now Herbcraft has floated in a bubble of serenity and drone float that was fitting of album titles that contained the words "ashram" and "astral." They traded heady, nod-out jams like currency to a meditative student body, but on Wot Oz they've broken through the veil of astral float and plummeted headlong into psych churn like the rest of their catalog was just preamble for the oncoming storm of fuzz guitar and wah-shred to come. And it looks damn good on them. The opener "We're Gonna Make It" lets on lightly, still tapping that well of ethereal smokescreen but by the time they hit "Fit Ür-Head" they're running full bore into the torrent and letting the vibe lead the way. The record was born out of a taped warm-up session and its highly informed by an element of unrehearsed looseness but seemingly driven by hands that know just where to tread to divine the tortured pleas of the gods. The band has always been assembled of psychedelic travelers, but they've never quite hit the vein like this. Definitely their best look.

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posted by dissensous at 10:50:00 AM 0 comments

8.18.2015

Radio Stars - Songs For Swinging Lovers
Radio Stars formed in the wake of "supergroup" Jet. Not the middling Aussie band, but rather the 70's project formed between members of Sparks and a gaggle of musicians who played with Marc Bolan, The Attack and Roxy Music.
That record is worth tracking down in its own right, but a bit harder to find in proper reissue these days. After Jet split, Martin Gordon hooked up with Andy Ellison (from the Nuggets-era stompers John's Children) and Ian Mcleod to form the backbone of Radio Stars. Sparks' influence is evident here in Gordon's songwriting. There's the same pageantry and huge sound amid cheeky subject matter and splashy glam overtones. Radio stars lean in closer to punk, making this akin to the chopped furor of Big Beat, which Sparks released the year prior. The idiosyncrasies give the record a longevity well beyond their era, making this feel like the oddball discovery it is but still letting it blare on the speakers in fine fashion. The follow-up, Holiday Album, didn't chart as well and Gordon left the group, who disbanded shortly after. Though Ellison would attempt to use the name later in the 80's, but that iteration never had the vitality of the original Radio Stars. For what its worth, though, Songs For Swinging Lovers cements them into the canon of punk and glam essentials.

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posted by dissensous at 10:22:00 AM 0 comments

8.14.2015

Phylums


A nice stab of garage goop out of Milwaukee, dubya eye. Phylums tackle the garage rock canon, launching through three chord wonders and doubling down on the Nuggets psych touches, swirling organs and some dark clashing guitars find their way into the mix n mire. They tend to brush aside the usual carefree fare of relationships and big dumb fun that often act as fodder for their respective genre, instead delving deeper into an alienation and desperation lyrical cycle that adds a measure of depth to their initially foamy churn. Though it doesn't get dire by any means, no no, the band turn their dismay at monotony into fun for the whole family and Phylum Phyloid sits well among their Dirtnap peers as a bit of candy pop that crests well out of the speakers of the dodge on summer days. Hell there's even a ditty about speech therapy. How can you say no to that? More down and dirty punk for the denim set.

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posted by dissensous at 10:15:00 AM 0 comments

8.12.2015

The Woolen Men


Woolen Men hew close to the DIY roots of the American Northwest. They wear a badge of unofficially zoned venue house band on their sleeve, and so it comes as no surprise that their latest rails against the homogenization and white washing of the scrappiness of their hometown of Portland. Though the themes are more than applicable to any number of great American cities these days, as the jagged edges that made them unique are sanded in favor of convenience for the flush class. The band pairs their battle cry with a brittle brand of post-punk dipped in a brew of Wipers' bluntness and some Chris Knox circa Toy Love grit. They know how to punch urgency into a shape that sticks in your mind, clasped in with hooks that sneak their bleakness in under the radar. They've upped the fidelity for Temporary Monument as much as the former looseness fit their style, some clarity is a welcome addition to their canon. The more this one spins, the deeper ingrained it gets. Frankly you should probably be paying attention.

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posted by dissensous at 10:23:00 AM 0 comments

8.10.2015

Barreracudas


If anyone's taken up the true mantle of power pop these days, other than perhaps Warm Soda, its Barreracudas. Their debut hit like a wave of nostalgia for warm summer evenings, drive-ins, fast cars and aimless nights with nothing to do but get in trouble with a soundtrack that's equally unrestrained. They pick up pretty much exactly where they left off on Nocturnal Missions, still bouncing along on taut springs and firing hooks into your life like swift kicks in the ass. Probably no surprise that there's crossover membership from fellow Atlantans Gentleman Jesse & His Men among the ranks. They've got an equally ardent love of the candied pop of the crest of the '80s but whereas Jesse usually rolls into buttery smooth territory, Barreracudas tend to reach for the outsized glam influences that took hold on the hangover of the '70s. They were made for the bright lights glinting off of denim rivets and some platform booted stomping on your heart. This one comes via NYC bastion of punk's bad impulses, OOPS Baby. Which seems like a perfect home for their brand of delinquent punk shenanigans.

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posted by dissensous at 4:49:00 PM 0 comments

8.06.2015

Dismal Light


Ryan Rousseau is probably better known for his fret work (Destruction Unit, The Reatards) than synthcapes, but as with his work in Gila Man, solo project Dismal Light explores the boundaries of electronics as medium, though Dismal Light pushes those boundaries well past his previous endeavor's techno trappings. On Mindswap, Rousseau shifts from a feint of a melted blues sample into drone-droped synth, winding further into chugging soundtrack territory that belies his love of science fiction, perhaps picking up a touch of Carpenter in his crossings. He ramps in urgency by the mid-section, feeling like chase scene sweat and catatonic dance rolled into one. Truthfully its when there's space and time to breathe deep cold fumes that Dismal Light really shines. Rousseau knows how to build suspense and when it holds steady it captures the listener. A fine first entry to new tape label Auasca out of NY. Limited like hell.

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posted by dissensous at 2:40:00 PM 0 comments

8.04.2015

The Cakekitchen - Time Flowing Backwards
Driving home a different side to the Flying Nun sound, Graeme Jefferies' The Cakekitchen blends a bit of that telltale FN jangle with buzzing leads and a clouded moodiness that sits well with some of their
American post-punk/college rock counterparts. The band was a move towards a more traditional rock-oriented sound, following the dissolution of Jefferies' former band with brother Peter, This Kind of Punishment. Graeme would always remain the center of The Cakekitchen as they lost and gained members, but here on their first album, the trio with Rachael King (bass) and Robert Key (drums) gives the album a full sound that totters towards the experimental but always stays just this side of pop (well with maybe the exception of "One + One = One.") Jefferies has a warm purr to his voice that's not unlike Calvin Johnson but not quite so jarring within the context of songs. The band would go on to several iterations, eventually releasing albums on Merge in the US, and collaborating with Hamish Kilgour. While Jefferies has kept the band up in some form through the late 2000's and its never really lapsed, its these early pieces that feel like a vital bridge between New Zealand's scrappy past and American Indie's fractured present.

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posted by dissensous at 5:20:00 PM 1 comments

8.03.2015

Terror of the Deep


I've long had a soft spot for Wellington, NZ's Terror of the Deep and the news of a new release is met with pretty high expectations over here. Night People Tapes issued US versions of their first two albums, both prime distillations of jangle-pop joy, but each of those fell on far too many deaf ears. They've squeezed in an EP between those and their latest, Space Epic, but that's not to say its been a crowded release schedule, this one's been in the works since 2013. The album is a bit of a departure from the breezy Flying Nun indebted pop that the band has often traded in. They set out to make a 70's style concept record, the subject matter here being, well, space, as the title might infer, but also humanity in relationship to our place in the scheme. The album still has a looseness to it, slight jangles bumping against a rolling rhythm section that churns like the cosmos they're soundtracking. They stretch out, tacking and weaving through the album, feeling like one big piece of pastoral psych that reaches as epic as they've intended with horns, strings and I'm pretty sure I heard a gong in "Asteroid Belt". It’s another great step forward for Terror of the Deep, and frankly, I hope a few people get tuned in to realize what they're missing.

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posted by dissensous at 10:13:00 AM 0 comments

7.31.2015

Wireheads


One of the great records I came to late last year was Wireheads' underrated creeper The Late Great Wireheads. The band followed on with a tape for Brisbane label Tenth Court, who also stand to release the band's sophomore album, Big Issues, next month. Traveling to the US to record with Dub Narcotic / Beat Happening guru Calvin Johnson, the record isn't so much a shift from their last as an extension of it. Still shaggy and barely holding its erratic gyrations in tact, but with just a touch of focused energy that puts a bit of pop thrust on their post-punk assault. There's a touch less of Tom Spall's violin to saw at your brain pan but thankfully they left plenty of raggy harmonica, blender churned guitar and Dom Trimboli's urgent vocal lamentations to sate ya. The energy spins the dial from the frantic energy of "Punk Song" and "Charlie Darwin" to the loping, squalled "Good Grief." As fates have it, its likely that people stateside will sleep on this yet again but here's hoping that a few good souls have the right sense to get one of these in their hands now. Its not often you get to feel the live wire crackle before others get wise. Here's your best chance.

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posted by dissensous at 10:34:00 AM 0 comments

7.29.2015

Blank Realm


Blank Realm are a study in developing a sound. Its a damn good thing that chances were taken on the band's scrawled psych musings because who would have ever believed that the band filtering noise through Not Not Fun and Siltbreeze would have emerged to lay Illegals In Heaven on us. The record is a far cry from those early days, channeling the hooks present on their run from Go Easy through Grassed Inn and polishing the hell out of them, even venturing into a studio this time with producer Lawrence English. The record that's developed from this chain reaction is full of gnawing new wave hooks that possess the band's near constant glow around the edges, chiming with a sound that's rooted in the Aussie/NZ pop but feels like a true step forward. Blank Realm have typically had a looseness to their songs that seeps into the listener, melting away agitation and while they tap deep into that here, they're also mixing those jangles with a whiff of neon and a punch of gnarled punk that sticks in the throat. Roundly, this is Blank Realm at their very best. It seems its all been leading here and if this is a first entry for you, then its a damn good place to start.

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

7.28.2015

Besombes-Rizet - Pôle
Long a collector's trophy in its original press, Pôle is the work of two synth carvers who have more known credits apart than together. Philippe Besombes was an academic, trained in organic chemistry, but fled the profession for a life in music contributing several
instruments here but he's most well known for works in Moog along his career. He's teamed up with Jean-Louis Rizet another talented multi-instrumentalist who brings keyboards, synths, flute, trumpet and guitar to the table on this collaboration. The duo's work in soundtracks makes a sizable impression (Rizet most notably contributed to the soundtrack for Besson's Subway) and the pair have a way with space and mystery that turns the whole record into a faded-edge composition of shots that evoke emotion without letting words get in the way. There's an appreciation of Krautrock / Kosmiche that they borrow from and blur that into the French avant-garde in a way that feels like those two genres should never part. Gonzai record return this to vinyl, where, frankly it belongs.

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posted by dissensous at 4:30:00 PM 0 comments

7.27.2015

Ashtray Navagations


Back from vacation here at RSTB and ready to dive into the pile of new releases, and what's better than to find a new Ashtray Navigations record in the mix. Phil Todd's never been one to rein things in. With a discography that leans towards daunting and is just on this side of exhaustive, it’s hard to wade into his world lightly. A Shimmering Replica wouldn't necessarily fit the lightly portion of that equation (clocking in at an hour, forty) but its not a bad place to jump in anyhow. Joined here by Melanie O’Dubshlaine, the record burbles with a seismic shake, doused with a hot ash rub that burns the nostrils. Zonked electronics quiver above saw-toothed guitars that cut jagged and gnarled and with an insistence that owes its roots to a long line of German Progressive forbears. Then, without too much warning, the record drops into subspace, subsisting on drones and tectonic vibrations before snapping back through a patch of polyrhythmic seances to no particular god. This record isn't for the flirtatious traveler, it’s made by and for heads ready to zip the cocoon and let the sonics kick your consciousness into shape.

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posted by dissensous at 10:08:00 AM 0 comments

7.15.2015

Jacuzzi Boys - "Happy Damage" Video


Man I never realize how much I miss Jacuzzi Boys until they make a return. Breaking away to form their own label, Mag Mag, the band has an EP on the way and from the sounds of "Happy Damage" great things can be expected. The track crackles with a huge energy, bouncing with the cherry Pez vibes and low hip swagger that have been trademarks of the band. The video captured the band in their live glory, looking like they've never been more at home anywhere else than under the lights in your town for just a night.

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posted by dissensous at 2:27:00 PM 0 comments

Hills


Sweden's got a handle on psych, from the early releases of International Harvester and Träd Gräs och Stenar to Bo Hansson and Dungen there's plenty of lysergic energy coursing through those valleys. Hills have been divining that psychedelic rift for almost a decade and yet, unlike the torrent of releases that come from so many, this is just their third album to date. But proclivity fades and each of Hills' three albums is just as strong as the next, proving that quality is worth the wait. Frid hangs well with their Rocket labelmates Goat and Gnod, finding a middle ground between the two; sanding off a bit of the former's excess with the doom-laden sense of space of the latter. The album is swirling with dry ice eddies of creeping dread that explode into the kind of clearcut guitar solos I've come to expect from Rocket Recordings. Heavy sounds with a lean on eastern mysticism and an expansive array of instrumentation; those looking to drop out into the meditative and heady expanses need look no further than this in 2015.

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posted by dissensous at 12:51:00 PM 0 comments