4.27.2015

Mikal Cronin


With each new release Mikal Cronin has pulled the curtain back further, made the screen wider and sharpened the focus on his pop spectacular. Sometimes its hard to believe that the scrappy psychedelia of his first LP came from the same person. It had hints of what's played out on MCIII, but to say that this is his most ambitious album is more than an understatement. Between playing everything from obscure Greek string instruments to French horns and arranging a full string section, it all sounds overwhelming on paper; but the brilliance of Cronin is that he makes it all sound so effortlessly effervescent through the speakers. Packed with songs that stretch his power pop past into new heights of arrangement on the A-side, things get even more complex on the flip, where he plays out a suited-concept record condensed into a single side. The individual parts all serve as killer songs on their own but the coming of age tale they weave builds a bigger boat to sail this album into ambitious and heady waters. Both bits show a level of mature songwriting and a mastery of his craft, but again, none of the praise matters quite as much as constant humming of these songs over and over that results from just one listen.

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posted by dissensous at 10:09:00 AM 0 comments

4.24.2015

Holly Herndon


Holly Herndon has been slicing through electronic intelligentsia over the course of several releases, including the rather sizable accomplishment that was Movement. But whatever she's done in the past is dusted by the release of Platform, a disorienting, complex sea of voices and electronics that sounds like the brainchild of Prefuse 73, Oneohtrix Poing Never and Katie Gately left alone in a room. Though comparisons only scratch the surface, Herndon is really carving out her own place in high-minded electronic composition and infusing it with a shifted and unshackled pop ideal. She's moved beyond explorations of trance and further towards the avant-garde edge. Platform feels chaotic in a way that reflects society at large, a blur of images, messages, voices and input. Tracks like "Locker Leak" really highlight the over-saturation inherent in everyday life; but she knows that it can't all be overwhelming. The calm and chaos find a strangely sublime balance over the course of the album's run, leaving the listener stunned but not broken.

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posted by dissensous at 10:51:00 AM 0 comments

4.22.2015

Damaged Bug


I'll admit, I was more intrigued than engrossed by the last Damaged Bug album. John Dwyer lone wolf synth project has a nice ring to it but the debut never struck a chord over here. Guess it just took another swipe at the stack because just a year later the sophomore LP makes good on that early intrigue. Cold Hot Plumbs takes that unstoppable Dwyer energy and boils it down to a dry ice simmer. The tracks buzz and snap with analog charm, bubble with Krautrock propulsion and root themselves in some oddly insistent hooks, albeit ones that feel beamed in from the holodeck just in time for freeze dried snacks and Tang. The project lands on its feet from every angle, from the songs themselves to spot-on artwork by Robert Beatty, who gives it a faded psychedelic appeal. This is Dwyer playing with form, keeping the explosions tempered and knowing how to work an aesthetic for all its worth. In the end it pays off quite handsomely, feeling like a well needed blast of cold air after a sweltering year.

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posted by dissensous at 1:51:00 PM 0 comments

4.21.2015

The Stones - Three Blind Mice
The Stones name their band in homage to The Rolling Stones, sought to build a band that sounded like The Clean and ended up emulating neither. Instead the Dunedin trio took another strange bite out of the Flying Nun/New Zealand fringe. Not as jangled and wry as
The Clean, the band had a rough grit approach to the South Hemi DIY that hinges on brittle, chewed tin guitars and Wayne Elsey's nasal lamentations. The band had very little recorded output but track from both the Dunedin Double compilation and Another Disc, Another Dollar EP are remastered and repackaged here alongside some live tracks that haven't seen the light of day. The Stones have often been overlooked in the Flying Nun scene, having been the only participants in the Dunedin Double that didn't go on to much acclaim but this revitalized collection sheds some light on the potential that was captured in those brief moments they found time to lay down. For fans of the period and place, this one's essential.

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posted by dissensous at 11:14:00 AM 0 comments

4.20.2015

Kara-Lis Coverdale


The musical landscape of Kara-Lis Coverdale treads into the biomechanical. It has a feeling about it that's organic, lush and green but still somehow also a touch antiseptic; the hedges are too perfect to not be milled by machine, if you get my drift. In this respect it becomes a well-suited soundtrack for an air-conditioned future. Her take on classical motif winds through eddies of sorrow and hope then feeds them through analysis and digital tweaking to produces the crispest version of each emotion. Synthesized instruments are heightened like food additives and the superimposed image of the orchestra becomes more real than the players ever were. No watermelon ever tasted as intense as a Jolly Rancher. No oboe ever lamented as deeply as Coverdale allows it to. But despite these trappings of manufactured environment, the record is affecting and personal in a way that prods at the heart and tugs at the memory. In her small, mostly cassette output she's hit on a potent brew of symphonic style.

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

4.16.2015

Moon Duo - "Slow Down Low" Video



Hazy vibes from Moon Duo's latest, "Slow Down Low" video, directed by Domingo Garcia-Huidobro of FÖLLAKZOID and it's a pretty good encapsulation of what's making this last album great. If you haven't already picked up Shadow of the Sun by now, then this stands as a reminder that its about time.

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posted by dissensous at 10:44:00 AM 0 comments

4.14.2015

John Andrews & The Yawns


The Yawns don't exist, at least not out of Andrews' mind, but what they lack in physical form Andrews more than makes up for them in musical presence here, tracking out a pretty full and toothsome album for a one man band. The sound on Bit By The Fang is warm, yet a bit musty, like firing up the radiators for the fist time in the season. Everything feels toasty but there's just a bit of catch in your throat from the Summer's build up. Pull the album tight against the wind and its a pretty welcome friend rattling by like home movies of summer vacations faded to a Kodak burnt umber. Most notable sources will bring up the connection between John Andrews and his stints in Woods and Quilt, two fairly relevant touchstones to be sure, though on this debut solo LP, Andrews takes those familiar psych-country templates and works his own sun blistered mark into them. He's not so much defined by his resume as stepping off into a territory that makes him a contemporary and peer of those bands. Repeated listens only endear the album further, allowing the blurry jangle of Andrews' sighed sojurns to inhabit your consciousness and take root, soothing like a good sipping rye and spreading the burn out from heart to hull. Not a bad way to start off, that's for damn sure.

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posted by dissensous at 12:53:00 PM 0 comments

4.09.2015

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard


Feels like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are words I've typed more than any other in the past couple of years, and as the rest of this country catches up to the Aussie band's catalog, they give them more reason to chase. Following on two albums from last year alone, they've already got an expansive EP lined up for the first half of 2015. Quarters plays to the bands more sun-faded soul approach, a side which I happen to enjoy. They recently played a hell of a show up by us in Upstate NY and leaned heavily on this portion of their catalog and with the right kind of day it hits harder than some of their fire and fuzz tracks ever do. The concept here is four songs, each ten minutes, ten seconds long. They bounce from jazz licks to blue-eyed soul and into tropical psychedelia. The results here aren't their most single ready tracks but definitely play out their live prowess, morphing styles and dragging the listener willingly along for the ride. If this is the kind of gem they use as a stopgap, I'm interested to see where the next exit takes them. But for now, it seems the seven-headed beast from the South Hemi has already made moves to make 2015 their own

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posted by dissensous at 10:24:00 AM 0 comments

4.08.2015

Daniel Bachman


Within the critical confines of fingerpicked guitar, Daniel Bachman carries considerable heft, and though his name might not surface so often outside the current of fans of the style, his latest might just change that. Three Lobed, always a name that seems synonymous with adventurous choices, are issuing Bachman's latest album, River, and album that rambles, twists and slides on a slick of oil that feels rooted in the Southern Gothic and dustbowl aesthetics long since forgone by modern society. Opening with a 14+ minute volley of strings, the record doesn't bow in quality and over the course of the next 43 minutes and it never relents on that initial promise of expansive vistas. The title is apt, with many of the songs reveling in a sort of wide open space, rippling notes like the eddies and peaks of a running stream. There's something like a blast of cold air that hits in the middle of the record and its hard to deny that the spring lends itself well to fingerpicked guitar. Those with the works of Sir Richard Bishop, Fahey, Jack Rose and Chasney in their veins would be wise to bend their ear to Bachman's latest opus.

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posted by dissensous at 3:03:00 PM 0 comments

4.07.2015

Houndstooth


It took a while for me to peel back the layers on No News From Home. On the surface the sophomore LP by Houndstooth is a rather pleasant offering of tough, rootsy indie rock, but with more time to sit with the record, more dark corners are revealed, more personal passions peaking through the cracks of its radio ready exterior. Songs deviate from the perceived template, devolving into noisy squalls as on opener "Bliss Boat," chugging hypnotically on the burning "Witching Hour," or dipping into laconic country as on "Spirit." Kate Bernstein's voice has a weariness about it that balances out the dreamy nature that seeps into their songs, lifting what could be ordinary into a territory that feels heavy yet comfortable, like a favorite sweater soaked in the rain. The more listens this record receives, the deeper and darker her wells of sadness seem and the sweeter the relief feels when Bernstein shrugs off the pain without succumbing. All the while underneath her yarns, the band is rifling through a polished potpurri of stylistic riffs with the kind of precision that makes it seem like second nature. Its a record mature beyond its years, and pulling it off so well that its easy not to notice its subtle charms until its got you hooked.

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posted by dissensous at 12:36:00 PM 0 comments

4.02.2015

Day Ravies


I've never been a fan of the transposition of letters in stars' names as a meme for naming your band, but I'll make an exception for Day Ravies. The Sydney foursome have a handle on fizzy pop tunes that seem perched to explode into a cavalcade of 64 count crayons melting on the sidewalk. They have an innocence that seems lost, rooted in the fuzzing 90's tropes that stretch from Yo La Tengo to Sterolab ladled under a ton of feedback, but any way you frame it, the band seem to have a handle on that blissed and blasted sound. The video is a belated take from their recently released 7" on Beko but just in case that only whets your appetite, they've got a cassette EP out for Australia's Strange Pursuits label as well. Both are a jump up from their pretty decent debut LP from 2013, a release that got us clued on the name and wanting a bit more. Seems like the next logical step would be a new LP, but for now these tidbits will have to tide us over.

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posted by dissensous at 12:55:00 PM 0 comments

4.01.2015

Broken Water


Broken Water are no strangers around these parts, but its been far too long since Tempest hit us like a velvet hammer. Jumping back to their roots at Night People after a jaunt to Hardly Art, the band are pummeling harder than ever, digging up the bones in Sonic Youth's backyard and gnawing on them til they bleed white hot magenta. The record is smudged and smeared with the handprints of 1994, tough-skinned guitars and shoegaze grind, but while it certainly brings sense memories of the Clinton Administration, its not just retreading through the murk of grunge. The Olympia band reigns in a clarity to their soft/heavy sound here, bringing on Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Beat Happening) to sharpen the claws of Wrought to a fine point. They feel indebted to the past but ready to beat it into submission with static and garote it with a guitar string. The album is a high point in their catalog, taking the excitement of Whet and giving it a bigger field to play in. A perfect record to get lost in your headphones on a moonless night.

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posted by dissensous at 4:04:00 PM 0 comments

3.30.2015

Tashi Dorji


Following up an album of pieces handpicked by Ben Chasney and tours with Sir Richard Bishop seems a daunting task to for a fingerpicked artist, as those both seem like pinnacle moments, but Tashi Dorji comes racing back with another album of singular guitar music for Bathetic only a year later. Appa continues to bend and shape the guitar into an instrument of Dorji's will, pairing virtuosic runs of stringwork with metal-on-filling noise that seems bound by no school of fretwork. But whether he's slinging mellifluous or acerbic tones, Dorji seems driven only by a hot pulse of emotion that feeds his playing. The pieces here are held together by an energy that can be felt from the callouses of his fingers, directed through the conduit of strings and straight into the pineal gland, exploding on impact. Its a raw playing, one that feels unpolished like folk art, but in the same way also vital in its link to the soil. The songs on Appa have a quality that feels slung from a wandering soul, cursed to roam and never be still, and who can only vet his demons on his guitar. That curse, it seems, makes for great listening; shame for him, boon for us.

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posted by dissensous at 10:14:00 AM 0 comments

3.27.2015

Carlton Melton / Mind Mountain Split 7"
God Unknown's recent series of split 7"s have grabbed some great psych talent, ranging from Oneida to Acid Mother's Temple to Gnod and Eternal Tapestry. Good stock to be sure in a series that's centered on
mind expanding psych, but they're also helping to shed some light on a few new names in our book as well. The Oneida split features UK heavies Teeth of the Sea and the latest pairs Carlton Melton up with Liverpool's Mind Mountain. Melton, I've always been able to see the appeal, but never really jumped out of my skin to get at, but on the flip, Mind Mountain steal the show and definitely beg for more material from them soon. Heavy blasts of heat blasted guitar melted into prog-minded organ that builds to a ferocious wall of sound by the end of the track. A face melter here and one that I'd hope speaks to more to come soon.

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posted by dissensous at 4:04:00 PM 0 comments

3.26.2015

Ben Chatwin


Stepping away from his alias as Talvihorros, Ben Chatwin takes a nudge towards a more personal sound under his given name. The Sleeper Awakes creeps in still and menacing as a stormfront sweeping across parched fields. Chatwin's guitar divides its interests between beauty and noise, finding the former in the latter more often than not, while helping shape glassy landscapes of desolation and sorrow. Augmented by dark-hearted strings and flecked everywhere by Chatwin's use of a century-old Dulcitone (a portable piano manufactured in Glasgow at the turn of the century), the record is sweeping, cinematic and gorgeous in a way that recalls the oddly futuristic industrial landscapes of Imogen Cunningham. Like those photos, it feels steeped in a kind of deep-rooted sadness, longing and looking back at what's become and possibly what might have been. At its heart, Chatwin has crafted a study in hopeful regret, soundtracking a protagonist who's made mistakes but has convinced himself otherwise. The delusion is both beautiful and devastating.

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posted by dissensous at 12:37:00 PM 0 comments

3.25.2015

Gnod - "Breaking The Hex" Video


Gnod melt your brain with a blast of psychic fry in this video for "Breaking The Hex" from their upcoming new triple LP, Infinity Machines. The track is doused in squelch and fueled by skronk, making their visual accompaniment of brain torture a pretty spot on bit of imagery. The band have never ceased to disappoint in their prolific career and from the sounds of this new one, they aren't about to tarnish that reputation. Psychedelic warriors, consider yourselves notified.

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posted by dissensous at 3:50:00 PM 1 comments

Free Pizza


For a band that's got a foothold in New England, Free Pizza has a lot of twang in their veins. The band snake a southern style jangled bashabout that's part country-fried and open skied and part flophouse punk. Though to be fair its probably 100% flophouse punk. The record is holding on by the very last fibers and that recklessness is what makes it work. There aren't pronounced hooks so much as there are cadences between the wire wrung strums, though when they do hit on a bit of catchiness it jumps out like a cat caught in a door as on the standout, "Baby Girl," a love song that feels both sweet and a little dangerous. Discordant, disheveled, call it what you will, Free Pizza feel like the tougher version of The Memories, where East Coast winters shade their songs with snarl n' strife rather than West Coast calm n' palms. The kind of record that you put on first thing in the afternoon, waking up in yesterday's jeans and hunting around for a smoke between the cushions. So, you know, good times.

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posted by dissensous at 2:17:00 PM 0 comments

3.24.2015

Jacco Gardner


Following up his stunningly constructed Cabinet of Curiosities, Jacco Gardner doesn't stray too far from the delicate yet complex psychedelia of his debut. Hypnophobia is a similarly towering layer cake of dulcet synth and swelling strums; this time making the framework of tales that walk the line between dreaming and wakefulness, a battle between the release of sleep and the pull of reality. The album moves in dark moon phases, vacillating between precious and creepy, echoing the theme of dreamscape and often sauntering into a disorienting territory that would leave more than one listener with a case of the night sweats. Consistently the album retains Gardner's 60's pop core, still feeling like a man thrust out of time and now using a hefty helping of studio accessories to keep the dream of lysergic pop alive. And though, he's certainly indebted to a large swath of the Nuggets generation, Gardner finds a way to make his homage feel fresh and not just a well worn retread of the past. He avoids any notion of a sophomore jinx and just pulls us further into the rabbit hole he's constructed.

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posted by dissensous at 11:37:00 AM 0 comments

3.20.2015

Windian Subscription Series #3
Its time once again for Windian's annual subscription series and as usual they've rounded up a good bunch of under the radar garage in these six discs. Top spots go out to Wisconsin's Platinum Boys and Texas' War Party. The former bring a glam
buzz and bit of dirty hipshake to the party. The A-side smolders with a crunch that lives up to its title and the flip holds its own while cooling tempers slightly. The latter head into sould / doo-wop territory and then dust it up with a bit of garage charm and bigger flair on the b-side. The rest of the bunch hold down the hatches with punk sneers and dusty leathers and as usual the label's wrapped these up in eye catching boxes and limited clear or black vinyl. Got to get these before they dissipate.

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posted by dissensous at 4:18:00 PM 0 comments

3.19.2015

Moon Ate The Dark


An uncommon duo to be sure, Moon Ate The Dark combines the solo piano of Welsh pianist Anna Rose Carter with the nudging, atmospheric production of Christopher Brett Bailey. The latter works in a more painterly approach to bring the depth of the piano through on these compositions, utilizing mic placement and atonal embellishment to frame Carter's compositions in a shadowy well of halftone greys. The songs remain cinematic, as most driving piano seems to lean, but oddly solitary in its execution. The songs feel like a singular traveler's journey filmed in sweeping montage using repetition to wear down on the listener like the weight of a day. Bailey's contributions remain subtle but that's often what makes them so effective, twists of the knife to force home Carter's rain streaked runs. In the realm of modern composition, there are many that strive for a balance of skill and singularity and with their eponymous release, Moon Ate The Dark achieve that tightrope walk quite nicely.

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posted by dissensous at 10:43:00 AM 0 comments