December 22, 2011


 Nothing is perfect in this world, but Gang Gang Dance's "Eye Contact" came pretty damn close to it.A highly addictive, and strangely accessible album, brimming with good vibes and plenty of weird jaunts.We can't put it down, and we don't really want to either.Art damage made for strange nightclubs.Dazzling.

                                    EKLIN - "ONWA" CS (Night People)
   This little gem randomly showed up at our doorstep on morning, like some kind of tiny plastic bastard child, and what a pleasant surprise it was.This young dutch group has crafted an entire album's worth of deep, rhythmic pulses, lonely guitar cries and desolate female vocals.Eklin has created it's own world that they "Onwa",  and it's a dark and beautiful place that we never want to leave.

 Could this band get any better?Charlie Looker's one time solo project, has since morphed into a full time touring machine, and each monstrous release gives off a totally different vibe.Deeply personal and painfully intricate, they've become a genre-defying musical entity, and they're very special to us.

   ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER - "REPLICA" LP (Software/Mexican Summer)    OPN delivers his most expansive album yet.An undercurrent of samples, and a not-so-hidden percussive element, pushes these vast synth explorations in a whole new direction.These tunes are deep, wordless washes, overflowing with personal growth.
WATER BORDERS - "HARBORED MANTRAS" LP (TRI ANGLE) This SF duo scored big in 2011, with their first proper full length.A dark and harrowing collage, with elements of early goth and industrial music, experimental electronica, percussive tribalism and modern drones.An eerie, dramatic album made for after hours isolation and all kinds of downers.

PEAKING LIGHTS - "936" LP (Not Not Fun)We've always had a deep love for this Iowa duo, but we had no idea what we were in for with the birth of 936.It's very well crafted, and very unique blend of psych and dub, all brought together with an arsenal of homemade noisemakers, various found machines, and circuit bent casios.These two are taking psychedelic music in all sorts of new directions, and I hope they do this for a very long time.Hail Peaking Lights.

THE SOFT MOON - "TOTAL DECAY" EP (Captured Tracks) Their recent debut LP floored us, and now we're severely hooked on this new EP.These guys are doing their own style of psyched out dark wave, with just a touch of industrial muscle, and all the woozy synthesizers you can handle.A total winner.
SLUG GUTS - "HOWLIN' GANG" LP  (Sacred Bones)
  Brisbane's dark sons gave us a killer of an LP this year.A strangely tuneful change in vocal styles, and a much tighter rhythm section showed us some new directions for Slug Guts.Sleazy, dismal, and painfully addictive post-punk swagger.Their new live LP is worth a mention as well.

ZS - "THIS BODY WILL BE A CORPSE"    (Playbutton)                                                                    Zs' latest, and easily their brashest work to date, was given to us via- Playbutton, a fun new label of sorts, who puts albums onto wearable flare.Neat.It contains 75 minutes of VERY raw material, recorded during their recent live assaults over the past year.Harsh, abrasive, unique, total confusion.Zs forever.

ICEAGE - "NEW BRIGADE" LP  (What's Your Rupture?)                                                                        These  Denmark teens have made one of the most diverse, and wildly varied punk records of the year.They effortlessly blaze through a ton of styles, and it's a virtually flawless mess.A conglomeration of blatant post-punk, goth, and hardcore elements, taken from the past three decades or so, and it somehow still sounds fresh and completely of their own.


August 17, 2011

ETERNAL TAPESTRY & SUN ARAW "Night Gallery" LP/CD (Thrill Jockey)

  Sun Araw's Cameron Stallones joins psych juggernauts Eternal Tapestry, for the rawest collaborations we've seen in some time.This is not a split record, nor is it two bands playing one another's music.This is the result of two very like minded, vastly different musical entities, sharing their own personal ideas to create something completely free of boundaries.Six well seasoned musicians holed up in a studio, playing a loosely written piece of music, with no real end in sight.Their vision is focused, yet loose and varied.If you are familiar with Sun Araw's heavily sedated dub-psych wizardry, and E-Tap's hazy instrumental washouts, then you already have  a bit of insight to what this might be like.Now multiply that by 100, and drop a few hits of alien LSD and a handful of downers to the mix, and you've got Night Gallery, which is somewhat of a tribute to the 70's t.v. show, made by Rod Sterling of Twilight Zone fame.It's one massive piece of heavy psych music, spread out over four different movements, and clocks in at just under thirty nine minutes.Sounds about right, given that both parties' have a reputation for accessibly long attention spans.Swagger over awe.
  Night Gallery's moods shift from delay-drenched guitar meditations, to cavernous saxophone and organ wailing, to thunderous riffing and pummeling percussive freak outs on the spot.It's supernatural repetitions carry a continuous flow of glittery waves of golden energies, and collide and break into a wide range of good vibrations.It's terribly easy to listen to, and manages to sound a bit different with each spin.This music is perfect for all kinds of levitation practices and cult rituals alike, or just getting lost in the pure and simple magic of mind altering sounds.Wow.

June 21, 2011

OVAL/LITURGY - "Split LP" (Thrill Jockey) Popp, aka: Oval, has been dubbed the pioneer of  the "glitch" movement, that swept the electronic music genre in the early 90's.He's very well respected, and a staple among various music publications, and fellow electronic musicians alike.These four new tracks are the first we've herd from him in almost ten years, and despite the long hiatus, it's obvious that Popp has continued to grow musically, expanding on his minimal skittering electro, in a big way.He returns with a much bigger, beefed up sound, with the use of stringed instruments and real percussion."Kreak" opens Oval's side of things, with a scattered acoustic guitar stumbling over live drums, hinting a possible free jazz excursion about to take place.Add his carefully crafted skittering glitches, and that's just what you get.The drums continue to come in random bursts, along with colorful clicks and crackling electronic warble, with the acoustiguitar strumming out of time and slightly off key to create a mesmerizing flood of sharp, sporadic melodies.It's the longest of the bunch, clocking in at just over six minutes, and it's a nice re-introduction to Oval's new organic instrumentation.The next three tracks are short snippets of mini-movements, with the same acoustic vibe of the opener.It's good to hear from Popp again, and hopefully this project will turn out a new LP from Oval.Fingers crossed.
  The B-side offers a brilliant contrast to Oval's subtle warmth, courtesy of Brooklyn 's Liturgy.Originally a solo project of guitarist and singer Hunter Hatchet Hendrix, he's since become quite the live spectacle, with a full band backing him on stage and in the studio.The band has recently released their monstrous new full length, also for Thrill Jockey, called "Renihilation".It's their first recording as a collective, with each member contributing to the recording process,it's a definite first for Liturgy.Here, this forward-thinking black metal act gives us a nineteen minute tidal wave of ethereal movements and open spaces, blending their abrasive guitar assault with hushed electronic drones, and nods to world music."Untitled" starts out with a slow and crushing guitar riff, slightly changing octaves each time it repeats itself.It's got all the elements of modern doom metal pummeling, with some interesting drum syncopation scattered throughout it.After what seems like an eternity's worth of crashing drums and brash riffing, things take a very unexpected turn.As the chords fizzle out and melt into ringing feedback, a loner analog pulse cuts through the pink noise, with no particular melody or tempo, it's just scattered random bleeps.Eventually this single note takes shape, and creates a steady blip, similar to a radar's hum.A slow-rising choir begins to chant in a dark and affected tone, as a jumbled tribal bump enters the picture, beating along at a stumbling pace.Enter the steady build of distant guitars, and all the sudden things being to burst with color.We are now in the midst of epic post-rock bliss, with soaring melodies and thick walls of heavy chords.An electrifying feeling lies within every note of this rise, and the movement holds strong for a solid 7 minutes, before changing tempos on us more than a few times.Eventually fading out into nothingness, we are left with a single male voice that hums repeatedly, sounding like some kind ofaboriginal campfire chant, as it wanders off into the dark.This is Liturgy, free of rules and regulations.Forward thinking black metal has arrived.

June 8, 2011

PONYTAIL - "Do What You Whatever You Want All The Time" (We Are Free)

  A few days ago, I listened to this from front to back...three times in a row.I was painting the doors in my house, and now all I wanna do is paint and listen to Ponytail all day long.Do What You Want All The Time, is the name of this thrilling new full length, and the title couldn't be more appropriate.Their message is painfully clear from the very first note to the very last.If you are familiar with this band's unique style of avant-prog-pop, then you have some idea as to what your in for, but not completely.Since 2008's wildly awesome Ice Cream Spiritual LP, this Baltimore four piece has seriously upped their game on all fronts.The songwriting and instrumentation is virtually flawless, and it's almost as if they've created a entirely new musical language, communicating with one other without ever speaking, but through the use of their instruments.Experiencing these four do their thing in a live setting is quite magical, and would lead you to believe that there's a direct link between each of their brains, and "wild chemistry" hardly describes this intense connection between them.
  Do What You Want...takes the raw and immediate energy of their live show, and couples it with the flawless execution they bring to the studio.Everything is in it's place, and yet feels completely displaced and estranged.Axe men Dustin Wong and Ken Seeno provide an air-tight and incomparable guitar attack, bobbing and weaving in and out of each other's notes, creating rich textures and playful melodies.Fans of Deerhoof will definitely find something to obsess over in their unique style, which somehow sounds identical, and yet you can still point out who's playing what at any given time.Singer Molly Siegel has extended her future-tribe vocabulary, and yelps, squeaks, and howls in a made up fantasy language.Her voice has recently found it's way to a more melodic and joyous place, kindly accenting certain parts of songs or parts, rather than providing a storyline.There is no lead singer in Ponytail, but more of a lead noisemaker", and Siegel's stage acrobatics and wild energy, have become their trademark, on stage and on record.
  The standout track for me is "Honey Touches", it's pretty straight forward as far as rhythm and timing go, but it makes several wild turns along the way, running through a handful of different modes and key changes.The jangly guitar chords that fill it's beginning are so far off from it's big finish.Siegel mutters the word "en-er-gy" right before things get weird.Waves of sharp and breezy calypso guitar scales wash over some highly danceable drum patterns, with shifting tempos and cool prog-rock freak outs.This album is full of this kind of unexpected goodness, but this song somehow embodies most of what you'll run into, and that's a lot.This may very well be the feel good hit of the summer.Give it a listen.

June 2, 2011

DIRTY BEACHES - "Badlands" LP (Zoo) 2011

  Taiwanese born Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka: Dirty Beaches, delivers his first proper full length, a wildly addictive concoction of influences, entitled Badlands.Forget all that you know of Dirty Beaches' previous work.Gone are the days of subtle drones, minimal synths and whispered vocals of his past releases.Hungtai has cleverly taken a few tabs of Elvis Presley's stylish swagger and broken hearted-balladry, crushed it up with a heavy dose of Suicide's dark and minimal muscle, and ground it up into a fine golden powder, he calls Badlands.A perfect mix of classic rockabilly, garage fuzziness, and lo-fi pop, with nods to minimalist repetition and psych haziness.This record is filled to the brim with everything and nothing you've heard before.The first thing you will notice is the totally revamped instrumentation and sogwriting approach.Cavernous electric and acoustic guitars rip through a handful of styles, with nods to 60's psych, surf, and classic garage rock riffing.They bounce and echo above primitive, and somewhat robotic drumming, with steady-she-goes electric bass lines, finding a place somewhere in between.This can definitely be tagged as "lo-fi", or "mid-fi" rather, with the natural vibrations of anything "low end" being almost completely removed.Yet, the songs remain deep and full bodied, and there's little to no studio polishing here.Huntai's voice has blossomed quite a bit from his once breathy, Alan Vega-style mumbling, into a melodic and soulful new instrument.His newfound range is pretty impressive, and gives his music an entirely new dynamic.Not to say that Badlands won't remind you of Suicide at times, it certainly will, as well as a few more of your favorite genre-benders.But, it's clear that Hungtai is not only heading in his own direction with Dirty Beaches, but forming his own path to get there.
  The most obvious example of his recent "upgrade", is "Lord Knows Best".It's the slowest and most pleasant track you'll find on this record, and also the most heartfelt and honest song of the bunch.It's "Earth Angel" style balladry grabs hold of you right from the start.There's a prominent ragtime-y piano loop that holds it all together tightly, as the soothing vocal harmonies begin to rise up in the background, filling in the empty spaces.Hungtai's deep and affectionate voice begins to fill the room like a dense fog, with lines like "You know well that I don't give a damn 'bout anything, but you...oh, yes you do", and "lord knows best that i don't give a damn, about anyone, but you..oh yes he does".A rather thoughtful piece of music to balance out the dark, eerie swagger that fills up most of Badlands' corners.Like I said, it's nothing you haven't heard before, and yet still comes off as fresh and original.The bare-boned charm and painfully raw vibe of this album make it worthy of repeat listening.Hats off to you, Dirty Beaches.