2.24.2015

The Bitter Seeds (The Rock Shop) - State of Your Mind
The Bitter Seeds kept good company, gigging the West Coast through Bull's Eye Tavern, Longshoremen's Hall, The Matrix, and The Fillmore with a litany of pych royalty. They recorded a lone 45, but to avoid confusion with
The Seeds, who'd already made a mark on the scene, they changed their name to The Rock Shop. This likely hurt fan's recognition more than the proposed confusion they were hoping to avoid, but the single captured a great mash of R&B and burgeoning garage grit and the band certainly have some heavy swagger evident in the two tracks "State of Your Mind" and "Is That Your Halo". Despite the name change they actually got a bit of radio play off of the single locally but then began to gig back under The Bitter Seeds again (to be fair it is the better name) and with the exception of four demos also included in this set, the band would cease their recorded output shortly afterward. A gem for collectors and now made available back on vinyl from Out-Side. Heavy garage freaks, take notice.

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posted by dissensous at 4:29:00 PM 0 comments

Mike Shiflet & High Aura'd


Type has no lack of gorgeous, crackling ambient releases, but to be fair one more won't hurt 'em. With their entry for the label, Mike Shiflet and John Kolodij holed up in Kolodij's Rhode Island studio for a few days worth of improvised recording sessions; resulting in a wealth of barren, brittle guitar pieces that the pair fleshed out with field recordings post-session. Awake, the result of this session, finds both players deep in locked trance, etching meditative Zen patterns in stone, carving dread idols in blocks of ice. There's certainly a coldness to the album, and that's not just because I'm listening to it in weather that has a negative prefix, their guitars burn hot but each track lets the instruments steam like a runner just let out into the cold. Eerie halos of moisture steam up to the night skies, backlit by flickers of streetlamp that casts lingering shadows. The menace on Awake grows thicker the more the album wears on, with some albums there's usually a glimmer of hope in the din but Shiflet and Kilodij seem only to plunge the listener further towards the precipice of their songwriting. The one respite arrives with "Covered Bridge," though even its weary resolve seems more like resigning to fate than truly finding hope. In the end the listener feels pursued, petrified and overcome - but that's by no means a slight. These two wield dread like a glistening weapon and its oddly satisfying to let your knuckles turn white with each passing track.

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posted by dissensous at 3:18:00 PM 0 comments

2.19.2015

Young Guv


Ben Cook has taken Young Guv through several iterations of lo-fi fuzz, garage pop pluck and indie pop fizz and now, with a proper LP coming out on Slumberland he knocks the fidelity up a few notches and makes an album that somehow nails the feeling of 80's power pop upstarts on a mall tour. There's a bubblegum sheen to the record that's evident in its glamour shots production, all soft focus and splashed pastels with those superimposed sparkles that date it so nicely. Ut feels big in the way everything in 1983 did but with a heart that feels like its pushing as hard as possible to reach the kids in the food court, a teen band knocking out Dwight Twilley covers to the 10 kids who made their mom drive them from three towns over. Its no longer shoe-stringing the recording but there's still something that feels like Ripe For Love spent some time on a shelf in a Goodwill only to be found by a teen with the right kind of ears and a hand-me-down tape player. Or maybe a discarded copy found under your sister's bed that just hits you right post breakup and lifts your spirits, a secret strength through foam headphones. No matter what the aura beaming from these scrawled notebook pop tracks, the point is that Cook nails that yearning, exuberant pop that feels like a younger time. He's got his finger on the pulse of an innocence that feels tactile in its star-eyed sizzle.

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posted by dissensous at 10:25:00 AM 0 comments

2.18.2015

Ya Ho Wa 13 - Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa
Its hard not to love Drag City for shining more light on the oft out of print Father Yod catalog. The backstory, which has now been imortilized in the documentary "The Source Family" tells the tale of enigmatic cult leader Jim
Baker who brought gathered his flock out of a vegetarian restaurant, formed several iterations of Yahowa 13 among its members and perished legendarily in a hang gliding accident. Most of the band's catalog fits the psychedelic cult vibes and featured Yod on vocals and kettle drum spreading the message but Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa remains an almost commercial outlier in the band's catalog. Most of the songs were written and sung by members Sunflower Aquarian, Djin Aquarian, Rhythm Aquarian, and Octavious Aquarian, all of whom seem to have been digging hard into Neil Young and Crazy Horse with a heavy dash of Beefheart at the time. The record carries a very rootsy Americana vibe and were it not for the scant run at the time and the obvious hinderance of cult connection, this one may have had a shot at crossing into wider acceptance. The Source Family LPs have been long out of print, with the exception of a short lived box set put together by member Sky Saxon (of the Seeds) years ago. Now its great that this piece of weird rock history is back where it belongs.

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posted by dissensous at 3:25:00 PM 0 comments

2.12.2015

Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers


With a history of crossover between the worlds of traditional folk and its more experimental cousins, The Black Twig pickers have remained at the forefront of some of the most inventively spiritual music for the better part of the last decade. They've found solace in collaboration, as one might expect a group versed in the kind of folk inspired by impromptu gatherings and off-the-cuff jamming might well find. On record their cohorts have included Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, Charlie Parr and more recently Steve Gunn, whose haunted style of folk seems to melt right into their Appalachian canon. The two collaborated briefly for a 7" in 2013 and they've expanded that partnership into a rambling, darkly knotted album that's steeped in those same backporch session vibes but equally immersed in the thrumming, meditative buzz of ragas, as exemplified by the title cut's sidelong workout. Seasonal Hire works well as a companion piece to the Twig Pickers album with Jack Rose, exploring similar territory and working just as well to elevate the game of both collaborators. It's humble in its approach but the results feel much grander than just a few friends sitting down picking folk. In 2015, an album caked with this much road dust driven by air that feels clean in the lungs seems more like a gauntlet thrown down to standard fair, a return to roots for your own good.

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posted by dissensous at 9:01:00 AM 0 comments

2.11.2015

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma


Cantu-Ledesma's been working out fractured noise pop for quite a few years now, on his own as well as with Tarentel, Alps and Raum but A Year With 13 Moons looks to be one of his highest profile records yet. The album is caked in a frothing, crackling layer of dust obscuring the dense strands of guitar and synthwork in the labyrinth below the storm. But below that cloud is where Moons' beauty lies in thick, billowing waves that convey a lost sadness and shifting sense of loneliness. The album is as hypnotic as the clip of centerline down a darkened highway, blinking slowly as film frames until the morning fog envelops the windows in abstracted shapes. The rumbling in the distance sounds like thunder, and its only too late to realize the rumbling is an avalanche of sound that whites out everything but noise and howls and an icy clang in the air that resolves into stillness. Apparently Cantu-Ledesma was attempting to convey memory without sentimentality and in A Year With 13 Moons he succeeds in never feeling sappy but there's definitely a sentiment that's felt in the cracks and crevices, and the shades and colors of the folds.

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

2.10.2015

Avalanche - Perseverance Kills Our Game
Dutch prog-folk band Avalanche certainly didn't make a huge impact at the time of the release of Perseverance Kills Our Game. The album, recorded in a single day, was pressed in a small private
press edition of 500 and mostly given to friends of the band. However, as with the cream of private press gems, its made an impact in collector's circles for its blend of crystalline UK-style folk with heavy fuzz leads landing it someplace between Pentangle and Fresh Maggots. The record really steps up when guitarist Daan Slaman cranks up the fuzz, though its apparent that far more orchestration went into this than many small press rarities and this attention to detail also sets it apart from standard collector fare. Rescued from obscurity with a needle drop transfer, as the original masters were nowhere to be found, Guerreson has put this one back into the ranks of vinyl.

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

2.09.2015

Dick Diver


Dick Diver has matured with each new album, refining their melancholy pop into a finely sculpted mash of new wave sheen, early 2000's indie pop heart and a metric ton of workaday malaise. Their third album thrums with layered production, again recorded by longtime collaborator Mikey Young, and they've found a way to keep an inherit sense of space about the record while allowing touches of brass to filter stabs of grandiosity into their fairly humble pop. There are moments that bring to mind a more jangled, rough-edged Beulah, though here's hoping Dick Diver don't languish as long in under-appreciated category as they have. There's a strain of sighed exhaustion that permeates Melbourne, Florida lyrically, more so than even abounded on Calendar Days, and while in the hands of a lesser band that might come off as mopey; Dick Diver make the disheartening moments of daily life feel profound. They've had two strong albums in the run up to this moment, but here they take a giant step up to what's certainly their best work yet and a strong contender for the top spot in 2015.

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posted by dissensous at 11:03:00 AM 0 comments

2.05.2015

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - "Love After Love" Video



Perennial RSTB favorite Jefre Cantu-Ledesma makes a jump to Mex Sum for his latest and its just as steeped in gorgeous, frothy, noise-flecked textures as his past work. There's a distinct shimmer to "Love After Love" and the imagery seems to go right for that angle. Up to now Cantu-Ledesma has been perpetrating his gossamer guitar/synth albums across a who's who of underground labels like Students of Decay, NNA Tapes, Type and his own excellent Root Strata. Now it seems that a few more are clueing into his entrancing pull.

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posted by dissensous at 12:30:00 PM 0 comments

Axis: Sova


More fractured fuzz and psychedelic shred from the God? imprint, this time embracing the faded tape aesthetics and Suicide pulse of Brett Sova's one man head trip. Underneath the shifting cloud of smoke that seems to embrace the entirety of Early Surf there beats a cheap clockwork heart, an insistent chug of drum machine sonics that hot glues the songs to the rails, if only just barely. Atop the mechanical throb, Sova works a web of amplifier spit 'n feedback sweat that shapes his songs more by touch and feel, hammering them into textures rather than snappy pop ditties. When he locks into the deep space burn of heavy automaton mind flayers like "Fractal Ancestry" (probably the highlight here) Sova finds bliss in the overlap of squall against squall, letting the waves of guitar bump into one another in ripples of full sonic analog sweat that penetrates to the bone. There's no sheen in Sova's world but the grit suits him well, feeling like every bit of Early Surf is torn from the gutters in a celebration of amplified filth.

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posted by dissensous at 9:39:00 AM 0 comments

2.04.2015

Six Organs of Admittance


Two years on from his Ascent album, which dipped into heavier territory for Six Organs, Ben Chasny strips away almost all of the fingerpicked folk that made his legacy and goes in for a full on rock record. Not that he's all that unfamiliar with the terrain, having spent time in Comets On Fire and conspiring with Plastic Crimewave among other amplifier burnt projects, but this is the first Six Organs album to really immerse itself in heaviness. The album was written using a system of composition that Ben developed to "to extinguish patterns and generate new means of chord progressions and choices." The results are an album that blows through walls of hiss and feedback, slinks down alleys filled with an overt sense of dread and utilizes the Hexadix system to contextualize lyrics in a way that feels uneasy as Burroughs cut-ups. There's more creeping ambiance than movement sometimes and the submergence in noise is a good look on Chasny's long running project. He's not going it alone here, though, and the cast of players on Hexadic certainly speak to the final results, with Noel Von Harmonson (Comets on Fire, Sic Alps) on drums, Rob Fisk (Common Eider, King Eider, Badgerlore) on bass and Charlie Saufley (Assemble Head in the Sunburst Sound) on bass. The ensemble crafts a record that meets Chasny's goal of unpredictability, while biting hard as an acidic rock record underneath the din. Seems that there's also a book on the Hexadic system along with a set of playing cards that help facilitate the choices on the way as well.

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posted by dissensous at 1:32:00 PM 0 comments

2.03.2015

Progressiv TM - Dreptul De A Visa
Romania didn't have too many musical exports in the 70's. The leading edge of Romanian rock was Phoenix (or Transsylvania Phoenix) but there were others just below the surface that made a local impact, even if the national
stage was far removed from their grasp. Progressiv TM took a mix of heavy, fuzzed rock, Black Sabbath licks that kicked to the sternum, and folk-tinged with flute for a kind of Jethro Tull / Sabbath hybrid that makes their album Dreptul De A Visa an intriguing listen and an excellent example of post-communist East European prog. The album has a crisp sound and the more wistful vocals set it apart from the aforementioned influences, keeping it from being all testosterone and a more diverse listen that bears the influence of its surroundings. While largely unavailable for years or only as an expensive import CD, Grandilla has put it back into print on LP and digital. Prog / Heavy Rock nuts would be loathe to miss out on this one.

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posted by dissensous at 1:33:00 PM 0 comments

2.02.2015

Colleen Green


Green's had a penchant for the 90's in the past and its eked through in her last two albums full of stripped bare garage punk, now with a move into the studio she snuggles up to Gen X like a comforting blast of nostalgia that feels more substantive that just grunge pastiche. Her previous releases held more in common with the buzzsaw on a shoestrng aesthetics of early Nobunny than with any of 120 Minutes staples, but the addition of JEFF the Brotherhood's Jake Orrall and Diarrhea Planet's Casey Weissbuch to the lineup, a move to higher fidelity and songwriting that truly embraces her album title, I Want To Grow UP is the best blast of 90's Alt Rock since the Singles soundtrack hit the shelves. Landing somewhere between Letters To Cleo and Julianna Hatfield with heavy doses of Weezer running in its veins, the album hits that velvet hammer crunch just perfect. Green's vocals never sneer or growl, she's more inclined to pine than spit acid, but paired with those huge hookin' guitars she pumps the album directly into "yelling at the top of your lungs in a shitty car" territory that feels more like high school than a pile of thrift store baby doll dresses and a pair of Doc Martens. She finds a dark heart in the album's midsection, but even when the fuzz subsides and the insistent beat takes over, it still feels like growing pains in the best ways. This is and album built for the repeat button, and ours is already starting to get worn out.

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

1.30.2015

The Gooch Palms - Trackside Daze b/w Sleep Disorder
A double shot of bent pop fizz and rock candy crunch from The Gooch Palms. Following on their 2013 LP for Anti-Fade the pair kick out a solid sender of a seven inch for Urinal Cake. The AA single
hits with some Ramones meets Shoes power pop action on opener "Trackside Daze" while the flip, "Sleep Disorder" kicks things a bit more bratty taking a give n' take vocal between the pair that spits a side eye verse and echoplex chorus. The single feels quite a bit more polished than NOVO'S and its definitely a good move by the band towards an oddly slick, yet affably eccstatic sound that seems to fit their somwhat goofy demeanors.

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posted by dissensous at 4:21:00 PM 0 comments

1.29.2015

Dead Farmers


It’s telling that Dead Farmers were the inspiration to set up Aarght records. The label, now a litmus of some of Australia's most vital garage punk opened its doors to release the band's debut 7" in 2006. Their debut for R.I.P. Society followed on that single with a blast of straightforward rock n' roll that took no shit and knew how to wield an amplifier like a weapon of righteous fury. It’s been four years since that debut and the band shows no signs of cooling the fires. Wasteland is no frills rock, straight from the marrow to vibrational core of the listener. Eschewing any whiff of effects, its the sound of three men in a room bashing out low slung growl that comes on like a guitar golem plodding its path with little regard to those in the way. They have a clear love of that crux in time when rock pared back its excesses, took a split from prog's bloat and ebbed its way down a path that would come to be cut by punk. They're finding solace in that moment when rock could light the raw nerve again and frankly their enthusiasm is contagious.

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posted by dissensous at 3:02:00 PM 0 comments

1.28.2015

The Soft Moon


Zeroes, the sophomore album from Luis Vasquez' Soft Moon never seemed like it quite made good on the promises of his early singles and debut. It was steeped in darkwave, doused in goth but it seemed like it needed a darker heart and maybe more acid in its veins. Well it seems that perhaps Vasquez agreed on that count. His third album, recorded in isolation and feeling every minute the better for it, is an ink black vortex of industrial hate that sounds as if Vasquez locked himself in a room and force fed his brain on a steady diet of Dario Argento films, Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus until he was in a proper state of dissociated euphoria and then pounded away at writing Deeper. It’s that NIN reference that feels strangely vital. Its hard to take an influence that's so steeped in a singular sound and still make it sound like a jumping off point rather than a pale imitation but lead single "Black" does just that, sounding like a recording with more teeth than Reznor's imbued his flagship project with in years. No disrespect, the man has a booming career in soundtracking, but sometimes its best to let the past go and let a new fleet of disaffected youth pick up the yoke. And if there was a lead rider in that pack, Vasquez certainly seems like the alpha of smudged, mechanical darkwave choked on hate. Deeper is about as close to the vein as he's cut yet and, personally, I'm glad to see a little blood spilled on this one.

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

1.27.2015

Cravinkel - Cravinkel
German prog/folk act Cravinkel eschew some of the usual Krautrock traditions, hewing closer to a few UK prog acts of the era, most notably Spooky Tooth, who they spent some time opening for. The band mixes heavy guitar, country-folk touches and a good dose
of psychedelic splatter into an album that, while celebrated in its own country, has seen little US impact. The band moved to Hamburg and signed to Phillips for their eponymous first album, parlaying that momentum into some key EU opening spots and a slot at the Love and Peace Festival. The latter was conceived as a European answer to Woodstock, and well known as Jimi Hendrix's last live appearance. The band held together for a follow-up album in 1971, Garden of Loneliness, which expanded on their live penchant for freeform jam and is therefore a bit less structured than the debut. In '72 the band's house burned, along with most of their belongings and instruments. They would never recover from the blow and the band dissipated shortly after. Notably bandleader Gert Krawinkel would go on to play in German new wave band Trio (of DaDaDa fame). Thankfully that doesn't remain his legacy and now Longhair has issued both albums back on vinyl, though it seems only in Europe (get on that Forced Exposure). If you're looking for long lost prog and don't mind the import fees, its worth tracking down.

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posted by dissensous at 4:14:00 PM 0 comments

Frankie and the Witch Fingers


Opening their album with more fuzz than an exploded dustbuster, Bloomington, Indiana's Frankie and the Witch Fingers are riding high on the hallmarks of the 2010's pantheon of garage rock heroes. Adding to the sonic soup a heavy dose of witchy vibes, psychedelic shake and an incessant grind that makes it feel vital and raw as skin peeled back, their sophomore album for Chicago's chief gutwrenchers, Permanent Records, is fueled by more than just paint by numbers rock. The band knows when to ride the tide of fuzz-addled freakout, knows when to break in the shake n' shimmy and knows just when to tear all the good times down for a good old fashioned dark horse that draws the shades and draws a little blood in the process. A solid offering from this band, reportedly uprooting from the doldrums of the Corn Belt to LA. It'll be interesting to see how the move affects their sound in the future, but for now these nuggets are more than worth the price of admission.

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posted by dissensous at 11:05:00 AM 0 comments

1.23.2015

Sean McCann


McCann, long a master of the ambient soundscape, crosses here almost completely into classical composition. His works still have an immersive feel about them, sparse and dry as museum air, but he's added a beating heart of emotion within that cocoon of parched atmosphere. The pieces were written over the course of the last four years but they play like a meshed suite that rises and falls with the panoramic swell of McCann's stringwork. The strings soar against the hum of cotton ball drones, the atmospherics threatening to take over the focus but hammered back each time the live instruments flutter. Conversely, McCann's piano pieces play into the somber pull of the sonics, no less full of emotive grace but certainly allowing the tone to shift from any trace of ebullience to pinpricks of doubt and shame. Here, the artist truly takes a step forward into academic territory, proving that he can strike the balance between studio wiz and conductor and for that dichotomy, Ten Impressions For Piano & Strings is all the better.

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posted by dissensous at 12:10:00 PM 0 comments

1.21.2015

King Tuff - "Headbanger" Video



King Tuff's recent album Black Moon Spell is a glammed shot of power pop straight out of '78 and to match the vibes the band's got a great sendup of dance countdowns ala Soul Train and Top of the Pops. A fitting accompaniment to a song about love at first brush through someone's record collection. If you haven't made the move to pick up BMS yet, there's still time, one of RSTB's favorites of 2014.

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posted by dissensous at 3:05:00 PM 0 comments