2.02.2016

Ty Segall


So Segall ropes in a huge crew of ringers on his latest collection, Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), Mikal Cronin, Emmett Kelley (The Cairo Gang), Charles Moothart (Meatbodies), Cory Hanson & Evan Burrows of Wand and Melvins Drummer Dale Crover, each one a holding a record nerd's pedigree in their own right; and together they make exactly the kind of case study in explosive, yet powerful rock that you might think that they'd unearth. What's maybe missing, is perhaps any of that polish that found its way to the forefront of Ty's last record. Here he's going for a barbed wire aura that puts listeners on their haunches from the get go, grinding through the dirt rather than working to nod heads and let the teens bop. The cast of characters on display are torn from some similar territory from past releases, all matter of loners and speckled creepers, but now it seems that the disconnection they inspire is intentional and perhaps crucial, as the core of his "emotional mugging" stems from the electronic barriers of social feeds and the constant filter of glowing screens. The first half of the record cuts the flesh and licks a few wounds, barreling through Television, Beefheart and Voidoids machinations if they were blown through the filter of Chrome and throttled a few turns in the vice of MX-80. The second half opens up its scope, though its still got an evil hangover of guitar gnash that keeps it at arm's length from the glittered pop of Manipulator. This is one for the true grit, those who've come as much for the hooks as for the blown cone ethos. In a way, this whole album reminds me of one of Segall's greatest tracks, "My Sunshine," a shot over two minutes of melted wire fury with a caramel center of melody that makes it uncomfortable in its own skin while still making you smile every time. Who knows if this mask will stay on long, but for now this is an enjoyable bit of squirm from one of the modern masters of string wrangled fury.

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posted by dissensous at 2:43:00 PM 0 comments

1.28.2016

Night Beats


Night Beats are back, steadily threading the needle of psych and garage with a strand of soul that's just fine enough to get lost in the clamor while still tying things up nicely. The band's climbed up to a larger label and a bigger sound, though still genuinely on the same general path they've been weaving along all these many years. The record opens on a cryptic note before exploding into the ravaged psych of "Power Child," one of the standouts of the set. As is typical of Night Beats, while there's a certain amount of sweat (see "No Cops"), there's plenty more instances where the band lays back into groove, letting a dark, smokey veneer overlay the record like a pervading ethos. The band knows how to keep their garage dipped and dripped in the low hang of stage fog, swaddled in sunglasses and baking in leathers in the 90 degree heat without so much as a break in stride to acknowledge there might be any cause for discomfort. They're longstanding dues payers to the cult of composed cool and for the most part they know how to wield that cool like a weapon throughout Who Sold My Generation. Most garage long players are best when taken to task on the hi-fi speakers but the grotto nuance here actually finds this album best seton headphones or confined to the car; its a loner's record and it's best to keep it contained. Let the outside world wonder what's moving your head.

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posted by dissensous at 12:58:00 PM 0 comments

1.26.2016

Honey Radar - Instant Replay Finger 7"
So this one is one of those reviews that feels like an exercise in frustration. First, the music on Instant Replay in an excellent shadowbox of 60's psych and tissue screened jangle that feels like its
got lots of room to grow wings. Sadly and secondly, its also exceedingly scarce, which I suppose makes it a bit more desirable in its own right. Jason Henn's own Third Uncle, along with BK mischief makers What's Your Rupture? have released this in a scant run of 50 lathe cut copies and the digital seems to be looking hard to come by to boot. Good news seems to be that there's talk of an album that should make fans of White Fence and Jacco Gardner happy campers in the long run, but for now these streamers will have to hold ya over. The tracks flicker pop-sike through a 16mm lens coated in sepia oils and gently burning away at the edges. There's a homespun charm that drives the three tracks along and a warmth that feels so real you could heat you hands on it. I'll definitely be interested to see where Henn takes Honey Radar next (aside from that Chunklet single, which is almost, but not quite as captivating as this.) Keep this one primed and on radar.

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posted by dissensous at 12:33:00 PM 0 comments

1.25.2016

Laddio Bolocko - Live and Unreleased 1997-2000
No Quarter have painstakingly sought to elevate Laddio Bolocko's legacy with this collection of live recordings, augmented with a companion DVD, for those (like myself) who missed out on LB's
heydey in the Brooklyn underground before being anywhere near the Brooklyn underground made you noteworthy. The set captures the band's ability to carve catharsis out of chaos and shape noise into a gleaming force for physical change. The band dives off the cliff of pop sensibilities, there's no regard among the players for how much carefree fun you're having but instead the pieces chip away at the listener until they force physical, emotional and mental release. Drummer Blake Fleming, later of The Mars Volta, hammers rhythm against a wall of sax and clatter of noise, kicking his way into your head in a stutter-stop chug that's lets the sweat through the speakers. The rest of the band aren't playing peek-a-boo either, they strangle sound until it screams and relents and hell that's just the first set. The second set finds the band moving away from a bit of the clatter and more towards a realm that finds the link between Laddio's past and a few players involvement with No Quarter alums Psychic Paramount. Math riddled free jazz fights for breath with with pummeling noise rock and the band seems to truly find their place near the sun. Its easy to see how the legend was built on performances like How About This For My Hair and As If By Remote. For the uninitiated (which I'd imagine numbers high) this is going to be both a dense entry and a welcome shake awake. Its exhausting but rewarding in the way that distance runners seem to cling to; a high that somehow pushes you through the collapse.

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1.21.2016

The Silence


Masaki Batoh's post Ghost exhibits haven't always hit on the same hallowed ground that the band prowled in its heyday. But with two releases in 2015 under The Silence moniker, he seems to be finding some footing that strikes closer to the heart. Its the second of these that's really the sanctuary for those missing the mournful psychedelia that Ghost seemed to snatch out of the mists. Hark The Silence begins with a three part suite called Ancient Wind and the dirgey pace, wails of gong and wind sheared flute should all feel a bit familiar to those who's '90s collections held a few spots for Japanese psych among the grunge flooded fields. The suite is definitely the centerpiece and highlight of the album, a reminder of why Batoh has earned his place in a pantheon that's rife with Eastern guitar slingers but there are some bright spots outside of the opening blows of Hark... as well. The band shines when they push past the ten-minute mark, proving that the live incarnation is probably their true form, but at least finding a way to capture the storm to a fairly tangible form on tape. In part this feels like a true return and its nice to know that there will always be a home for squall wizards out there, but its also made me reach for the the familiar arms of Ghost's catalog, proving that some legacies cast a long shadow that's hard to shake.

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posted by dissensous at 9:28:00 AM 0 comments

1.20.2016

Sheer Agony


Montreal's Sheer Agony wrap their power pop swagger in the geek pop charms of forefathers the DBs and The Soft Boys, jamming as many jitters as hooks into their shaggy pop tracks. Masterpiece might be a boastful title but there's a definite overflow of charm inherit in this baker's dozen of pixelated pop. Standout single "I Have a Dream" treads the same angular neon puddles that Brooklyn's undersung heros Punks on Mars waded through. and the band knows how to play up hearstring crush to a glowing swell when need be. They've certainly bought the texts and taken the tests, and for what its worth their marks are good. But that crinkled weird streak that twists through the dreamboat strums will always leave them pining and preening for the horn rim set more than the kids at the cool table and maybe that's just the way they like it. From the circular spin of "I Used To Be Darker" to the inky currents riding the tails of "Fizzical Lime," balanced by the clipped psych-pop endings of "Literary Arts," they have a firm hand on the pop parlance and wind their way through a good bit of territory while still keeping that power pop badge front and center. A nice outing for the fledgling Couple Skate and a bit of a snoozed on gem from the past year all together.

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posted by dissensous at 1:48:00 PM 0 comments

1.19.2016

Quilt


Three records in, Quilt are still busing down the country highways and finding ways to capture the sunset in musical interludes. Plaza is glazed in their constant laid back approach, feeling as if all tension just kind of melts at the touch of the needle to the groove. There's a bit more clarity perhaps on this record, a sheen that's not so much crystalline as it is honey-dipped and light from behind like an amber suncatcher. Fittingly written in transit; Baltimore, Jersey, Upstate New York, the album has the feeling of skyline stretching to the dipped horizon, with the blurred hum of images floating past out the car windows. There's a breezy billowiness to pretty much everything that Quilt touches, something like summer sea air faintly blowing off of the set of songs that tinges the album with that hangover of wanderlust that follows vacations. The group's voices meld as if they were candle warmed and melted, never straining to find their fit together and though there's certainly a debt to be paid to the 60's folk rock forbears, they've picked up the mantle and found their footing among the strongest of that canon. Jarvis Taveniere again rears his head in the production chair and he's quickly proving to be the secret ingredient to effortless sounds in 2016. I can't tell if its a damn shame that the endless summer of Plaza arrives in the chilly confines of February, on one hand it feels ill suited but on the other, it feels like just what's needed to tide us all over until greener times.

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posted by dissensous at 3:17:00 PM 0 comments

1.15.2016

Gate


Michael Morley takes the easily digestible disco frivolities of Saturday Night Fever and delves a few levels darker into the heart of the beast that lives in the characters off the floor. Permeated with the skeletal thrust of the film's score, his album of the same name starts out with click-snap drumbeats and horn stabs that seem fitted for the the lighted floor and glint of gold chains under mirrored balls. But quickly on in opener "Asset" Morley lets the furious rush of substances take over the lens. The veins pulse as foreign bodies enter the bloodstream, leaving those beats and horns to get rack panned to the background and to just the distorted crush of noise and dance enter the brain en masse. The blur sets hold and the belly of Saturday Night Fever ends up more fever dream than breezy night out. There's a sweaty anxiety that balances perfectly above those catchy dance touches, fighting and letting go in equal measures. By the end its hard to remember what happened, to place those snatches of melody stuck in your brain outside of the pounding char of the thick blows of steel wool guitar. Morley is no stranger to noise in its purer forms, having spent a number of years in The Dead C, but this is more subversive. Its a record that finds the chaos behind dance and gives life to it, gives it a tangible shape and a name. That voice that whispers in your ear to dance until the fight either goes out of you or comes to you, that's the raw heart of Saturday Night Fever. But just as nights come to a close so does Morely draw the album to a comedown pitch that slows the heartbeat and lets some clarity fill the ears. Its hard to find a better cleanse than Gate offers here.

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posted by dissensous at 12:07:00 PM 0 comments

1.14.2016

Bleached - "Keep On Keepin' On" Video


I've always had a soft spot for Bleached. Their run of singles leading up to Ride Your Heart were doused in a 90's charm that was hard to shake and the album came through only to strengthen the good will they'd built up. This new taste of upcoming album Welcome The Worms is definitely a darker turn. The sound is thicker, less surf and bounce and more driving rock, the lyrics seated in decisively sour, if not toxic relationship. They accompany the guitar crunch and lyrical lash with a video that's anxious and permeated with a stalker's eye. Its good to have the trio back and seemingly sounding bigger than they have before.

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posted by dissensous at 4:40:00 PM 1 comments

1.13.2016

Lavender Flu


Chris Gunn shared time in two undeniably great, though never celebrated enough bands, The Hunches and Hospitals. His new endeavor, Lavender Flu isn't as noisy as the latter or as shambledown cathartic as the former, but he and the band are jumping in both feet first with widescope ambitions on Heavy Air. The double LP debut swims through psychedelic bogs that are shaggy and caked with fallout fuzz in places and burst out with bold pop statements in the next instant. Stitched together with a ragged twine of thought, the album could prove exhausting to the uninitiated, but those who've found room for Gunn's brand of veiled pop bombast will find Easter Eggs aplenty throughout this release. Out of the clamor and clash rise some beautiful moments of folk pop like "Those That Bend" or "My Time," both cuts that wouldn't seem out of place cozying up to some Elephant 6 disciples. Hell, the whole record would fit in with the Collective's vibe of sun-streaked psych mixed with "Green Typewriters" style experimentation and for the cadre of listeners out there looking for that heady stew, look no further, Lavender Flu's world is a dense rabbit hole worth exploring and re-exploring. Plenty of psychic fallout to tide you 'til Springtime.

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posted by dissensous at 1:11:00 PM 0 comments

1.12.2016

Tina & The Total Babes - She's So Tuff
Sometimes you have to kick your own ass for missing out on something in its original time. 2001 who knows where my head was at, but it wasn't picking up a copy of Tina & The Total babes' undersung
record on Sympathy for the Record Industry, but thankfully digital love allows us some time for our transgressions. Tina Lucchesi pulls down heavy points for her involvement in two legends, The Trashwomen and The Bobbyteens, and following the demise of the latter, she hooked up with power pop producer Travis Ramin to create The Total Babes. Her other records never really had the kind of recorded clarity on display here and it was always the raw charm of both bands that pulled them through, but its nice to hear Lucchesi's voice in the context of pure turn of 80's power pop perfection. The album has all the snottiness and hip-check dance pit fun of anything involving Tina, and I came to fine it as this new wave of power pop appreciation came to rear its head a few years back. For the record anyone from the current roster of power pop altar worshippers should pay some respects to The Total Babes (who themselves are channeling quite a bit of Nikki and the Corvettes.) If, by chance this one is not in your collection, then by all means please course correct. However, it remains that the vinyl is sadly out of print and far too pricey on the secondary market, so perhaps if we all ask nicely Sympathy will put this one back on the shelf for the good of mankind everywhere.

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posted by dissensous at 1:45:00 PM 0 comments

1.11.2016

EZTV


Said it before and I'll say it again, January always acts as a cleanup of what was so sorely forgotten in the crush of year-end nonsense and in that mindset its with sorrow that I'm just now getting a chance to delver further into this EZTV album. With nods down the line of 70's radio rock that spans from Todd Rundgren to the softer shadows of Cheap Trick, the band more often channels those playing in the wake of those pop princes. They mold the earnestness of Shoes with the instant likability of Chris Wilson-era Flamin' Groovies to instantly arrive formed as successors to their brand of crystalline pop. The band went into the studio with 30 tracks and shaped and shaved them with the help of Woods' Jarvis Taveniere and while each and every song doesn't jump out of the speakers and into your nagging subconscious, collectively the album feels fully realized and perfectly nuanced. Each and every listen brings a new favorite to the fore and its plain to see that the band is more interested in making a lasting impression than fleeting infatuation. Calling Out isn't fancy, it isn't pushing the paradigm of pop forward. It is however an excellent study in keeping things simple and knowing exactly who you are and where you come from. It’s a love letter to classic American pop albums and one that hits all the right points to put you in its sway.

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posted by dissensous at 2:01:00 PM 0 comments

1.07.2016

Lame Drivers


Another scoop up from the detritus of last year. New York's Lame Drivers are cracking into the power pop canon with the fortitude of seasoned vets, boiling down Phil Seymour riffs, Paul Collins' workingman charm and the incessant fizz of The Shoes. Though, to say that the band is tumbling completely down the Yellow Pills path would be a bit remiss. They fracture the seeds of power pop through the eras that followed, finding their way through fuzz-caked 90's stacks and some complex psych-pop touches that seem primed for Elephant 6 sycophants. The album finds its balance while keeping that kernel of fun squarely at the center of attention. Chosen Era barrels out of the garage, cylinders primed and with those 70's touchstones hanging from the mirror, but they cool down to some nice shaggy 90's-isms by the mid section, just to shake out the limbs, and before long they're back on track to set your pulse racing. With a mixed team laying this one down (primarily Matt Tong of Bloc Party fame and Travis Harrison along with some self recording in the mix) it works out to be rather cohesive in its final run. There were some pretty heavy power pop contenders in 2015 and while this may not touch Barreracuda's plastic snap n' crackle, its a worthy contender for time on your speakers.

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posted by dissensous at 12:17:00 PM 0 comments

1.06.2016

Donato Dozzy


Sometimes context is everything. In most contexts the mouth harp is a bygone piece of a quainter time, an ancient ritual or simply a toy that hasn't passed a thought since childhood. Dozzy too picked up the inspiration from a childhood fascination with the instrument and revisited it as an extension of his own lean towards trance an an electronic outcropping. Here he finds the ties of ancient, ritual trance with those of newer artists seeking to open the same sonic chasm through hardwired drones and pulses. The mouth-harp is a more visceral experience, though simple in construction, it tends to throb through the player and add a layer of physicality to achieving trance through repetitious drone. Dozzy records the instrument in locales both indoors and out and drops the thrum into hallways of echo, expanses of calm and beds of analogous hum. As with his previous album Sintetizzatrice which used only voice laid into a context of dub experimentation, here he plays a bit of dub wizard to the instrument, letting the repetition of reverberation lull the listener into a cozy state of meditation. By the time the needle skids to a close its almost easy to forget that the bulk of the weight her is on the tines of the tiny instrument and not on much heavier means of drone deployment, and perhaps that trick is DD's best. The old is new again and primed for open minds.

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posted by dissensous at 3:17:00 PM 0 comments

1.05.2016

Tarquin Manek


Coming late to F ingers release, but thoroughly enjoying it, makes one think I'd be more on the ball with tangential offshoots as well but this solo release by Tarquin Manek slipped a listen until recently. Its a tightly wound ball of tension and an amicable mash of dub overtones laid through valleys of broken bone techno, noise experiments and a hauntological hall of mirrors. The tone on most of Tarquin Magnet is of menace lost beneath the floorboards and pounding like something from a Poe tome scratching at your temples to get out. Sounds bubble up from under six tons of murk and sea water, beaming alien beacons hoping to reach home but pinging endlessly into the blackness. Hauling out whatever instrumentation, or simply sound source, could fit - clarinet, keyboard, Dictaphone, mobile phone - Manek succeeds in crafting an album that is wholly not of this world, and barely a blip on the idea of music as means of seeking out joy. If there was ever an artist that embodied the ideal of Blackest Ever Black, this is the one. Pulling the needle is like breaking through the surface for some much needed air, leaving the rest of the album to feel like swimming for the light while the heft of water drags you down and the burning in your lungs only grows.

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posted by dissensous at 5:03:00 PM 0 comments

12.29.2015

Uther Pendragon - San Francisco Earthquake
No matter how many years separate the 60's from the present, it seems that the mines run deep for finding more fallout from the explosion of bands that permeated the time. Its getting rarer though
to find one that's had virtually no exposure or reissues to date, but Guerssen has unearthed a band from the outer rim of the San Francisco sound. Existing under the names Blue Fever, Timne, Hodological Mandala, Mandala, Kodiac, Justus, Pendragon and then finally Uther Pendragon, the band lived as a family for years; making music from '66 until '78 and growing with the sweeping change of sounds from that time. Guerssen's reissue follows the band from their teen years, just discovering teen centers and fuzz pedals, to a more sweeping and much heavier territory; you know, the kind of band that could prop up a name like Uther Pendragon. This one seems to be a pure discovery of the internet age, the band wasn't out that much in the the pages of SF rock lore and the label found them floating around in fan posts. They're not totally without status, they opened once for Country Joe and the Fish, recorded at Pacific Sounds before building their own studio and had some ties to management that overlapped a few other outer rim psych acts, but in general they were off most radars, probably because they had no released material. Some of the songs are rough, kids finding their way, but for the most part they make good examples of the West Coast psych and proto metal sounds, feeling their way through the era on the fringes of cool.

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

12.16.2015

Mammatus


Long an RSTB favorite, Mammatus returns with an album that showcases their ability to swerve from tranquil space-outs to crushing guitar heft in the course of a song. Though in this case, those songs have plenty of space to work with, with all of Sparkling Waters edging past the fifteen minute mark per track, the band aren't exactly churning out pop ditties. But what they are doing is stretching towards the horizon line with gentle cosmic thrust on the opener. Yawning like the seascape that adorns the cover, it opens into a mix of syths, flute and the far off rumble of percussion that whips into a tempest by the time the track closes. As the track builds they bend the formless eddies into craggy bits of Krautrock fed metal squall still underpinned with windswept keys but now churning like waterspout off the Bermuda coast. The take another turn through Kosmiche and crunch on Part 2 before they turn up the heat. The second LP brings more bite than the first, re-centering the band's roots in heaviness and giving the guitar gluttons something to chew on, but they never give in to riff fully, bending and shaping both sides into movement based epics with an appreciation for Prog's footprint. The album is an ambitious step forward for the band but it never turns into a sprawling excuse to just jam over four sides of wax, rather it winds up just the kind of album that gatefolds were made to hold, a space opera that glows and growls through four sides with a pure sense of ebb and flow.

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posted by dissensous at 4:07:00 PM 0 comments

12.15.2015

Woolen Men


Portland's Woolen Men have already stung 2015 with a great LP released on Woodsist, but it seems they had more to give. Self-released as a cassette, Options gathers up six more cuts that lean on the band's love of smashing 90's grunge into propulsive post-punk. The tape is brief but from the outset the collection hits hard with the band finding a way to roll their sound in some gravel via opener, "Curtain," then wiping down the speakers for a run through taut guitar territory. They cool for a bit on "Scarlet" before closing out the EP with a trio of muscular indie romps. The band is at home in the live setting, running through the Northwest's DIY show scene in a regular rotation but with releases like this and the previous Temporary Monument they're proving that their recorded output is just as enticing as the live experience.

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posted by dissensous at 10:17:00 AM 0 comments

12.10.2015

____________________________
Best Albums of 2015
____________________________


Its been a long year at RSTB and though the pace may have been slower on the face, there has been lots going on to be sure. Next year marks our 10 year anniversary and we'll have a new look shortly, so stay tuned. There will also some other fun things to mark the anniversary as 2016 wears on. But enough of the future, let's look to the past. Here are my favorites of 2015, as usual in no particular order, along with a mix of tracks.

Blank Realm - Illegals In Heaven (BUY)
Dick Diver - Melbourne, Florida (BUY)
Colleen Green - I Want To Grow Up (BUY)
Young Guv - Ripe For Love (BUY)
Sir Richard Bishop - Tangier Sessions (BUY)
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Paper Mâché Dream Balloon (BUY)
Wand - Golem (BUY) // 1000 Days (BUY
Thee Oh Sees - Mutilator Defeated At Last (BUY)
Ben Chatwin - The Sleeper Awakes (BUY)
Mikal Cronin - MCIII (BUY)
Twerps - Range Anxiety (BUY)
Future Punx - This Is Post-Wave (BUY)
Sean McCann - Ten Impressions for Piano and Strings (BUY)
The Mantles - All Odds End (BUY)
Barreracudas - Can Do Easy (BUY)
Peacers - Peacers (BUY)
Love Axe - South Dakota (BUY)
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - A Year With 13 Moons (BUY)
Fuzz - II (BUY)
Sauna Youth - Distractions (BUY)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love (BUY)
Swiftumz - Everybody Loves Chris (BUY)
Rabit - Communion (BUY)
Holly Herndon - Platform (BUY)
Herbcraft - Wot Oz (BUY



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posted by dissensous at 3:40:00 PM 3 comments

12.08.2015

The Silence - "Ancient Wind Part 3" video


Masaki Batoh's The Silence sneaks in another album before the end of the year and its a fuller and more raucous outing than their self-titled debut earlier in 2015. The album is anchored by the massive three part piece "Ancient Wind" and they've just shared a video for the song that pretty much paints the visual they were going for on the psych-folk cycle. Swirling kaleidoscopic visuals that flash in epileptic warning to the song's frantic mix of percussive thump and flute solos that will probably give your dad full on Tull flashbacks. Its a pretty decent way to spend six minutes.

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posted by dissensous at 4:43:00 PM 1 comments