Modern anxiety and brinksmanship have reached peak levels it seems, and two recent albums have captured our current balance of hope and worry perfectly for me.
Both released earlier this year, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s “Panic Blooms” and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s “Sex & Food” really do it for me. Each under their own power is good, but I think they’re better together. They’re the alternate soundtrack to San Junipero. They’re a Black-Eyed Soul opera in three acts.
I’ve done the work for you, if you wanna hear my impressions click “read more”->
Continue reading The World’s Mad and I Just Wanna Listen to Panic Blooms and Sex & Food
My first taste of Belgian rock duo The Glucks was at the hands of a fan of the show by the name of Lansing Rawls. He sent me a link to their 2016 LP “Youth On Stuff” and once I heard the title track I was immediately turned on by the raw breathless vitality of it. Now they’ve followed it up with the equally potent new release “Run Amok.” Continue reading What’s That Sound? The Glucks – Run Amok
It’s getting to be time for a new White Mystery album and as you can see by the album cover for F.Y.M.S. (out on 4/20, PREORDER here for DIGITAL or VINYL) they’re not fucking around. Don’t be fooled by the vivid image the title conjures, however, as this record is probably the most polished I’ve heard from the White siblings so far.
That’s not to say it isn’t still gritty as hell. Album opener “Ton Up Kid” barrels through the riffs you’d expect from the band, with shout-along choruses and drum flurries in the bridge. “Black Heart Crusader” is more metal than thrash, Francis pounding out meaty grooves while Alex’s dark guitar works it’s magic. Title track “FYMS” evokes memories of a young Frank Black as Alex spits Greek insults over a driving backdrop and rocks out to a foul-mouthed chorus, an anthem easily adaptable to your personal favorite dirtbag.
Continue reading What’s That Sound? White Mystery – F.Y.M.S.
It’s no secret that Brooklyn-based psych label Beyond Beyond Is Beyond is one of my absolute favorites. After stumbling upon the radio show of the same name on EVR (now on Viva Radio) a few years ago I’m not ashamed to say I was smitten. There have been few labels whose output has turned me on as consistently as BBiB. It’s remarkable, and a testament to the sharp ears of label bosses Mike & Dom.
Their latest release, the hilariously named Drakkar Nowhere’s self-titled debut, keeps that trend going. It’s a breezy culmination of varied vintage influences and tight, melodic song arrangements spiced with modern pop touches.
Continue reading What’s That Sound? Drakkar Nowhere – s/t
When this record hit my inbox over the summer, I had no clue as to who New Planet Trampoline were or what I was about to hear.
The record starts off without answers, fading in slowly with the vague and airy mantra of “There Is Nothing More To Say,” driving it’s point home as you’re bounced pleasantly along by a Pink-Floyd shuffle. Keyboards and harmonies plunge in right after, setting the tone for the rest of the record’s late ’60s psych-pop influence. It’s an excellent homage to the sounds of that era: jangly guitars, clean leads, crafted melodies, and not too much polish. The production quality is modern, though, which adds a freshness to the old familiar sounds.
The band juggles a lot of different influences: “Grim Visions” wouldn’t be out of place on one of the old Nuggets collections. “Ex-President” and the ethereal “This Is The Morning” evoke the Byrds’ jingle-jangle pop. The energy of Arthur Lee’s later work creeps into “Confidence Man.” There are more “flashback” moments, but too many to recount here. Modern influences (grunge, namely) and elements are present as well, and New Planet Trampoline manages to navigate them and add enough twists to keep the songs from sounding dated.
I really like this record, enough that I bought the gorgeous purple double LP after the fact. New Planet Trampoline have accomplished what many try but few pull off well, lovingly incorporating vintage influences and folding them over into a new framework to make a truly original record.
You can check out “Dark Rides And Grim Visions” in all formats at New Planet Trampoline’s BandCamp page, and get news and updates on their Facebook Page.
Big thanks to Stow House Records for bringing this one into my collection!
Imagine how it would feel to discover that, among your favorite late ’60s/early ’70s groups, there was a missing album? A bulletin goes out to the world that The Who, AC/DC & Led Zeppelin members formed a supergroup that made just one wicked rock record?
That didn’t really happen. But I’ll be damned if Growers of Mushroom doesn’t come close. Continue reading What’s That Sound? Leaf Hound – “Growers of Mushroom” (1971)
Albums can really stick with you. You’ll be doing something unremarkable and a few notes drift out of a passing car or from a fire escape and your memory triggers. Suddenly you’re transported back in time to a place and an emotion that you didn’t realize you’d forgotten. It’s as close to magic in the real world as I’ve experienced.
Being a child of the new millennia, some of my definitive albums date me. The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells reminds me of a stuffy apartment during a windy Colorado winter with the one I let get away. Beck’s Sea Change is a drunken summer spent sleeping rough on a leather couch, starting a new life in a new city. King Crimson’s Court of the Crimson King will always transport me stoned and exhausted after a night shift, dawn light filtering into my basement room with the feel of shag carpet on my shoulders, exhilarated by the sounds emanating from the speakers. I could go on and on, and I bet any of you could, too.
Point is, sometimes a particular album really grabs you by the guts and connects with you in a way that leaves an impression in space and time that you’ll never be able to shake. For me, the latest of these is Morgan Delt’s Phase Zero. Continue reading What’s That Sound? Morgan Delt – “Phase Zero”
There is a huge musical movement in recent years that’s bringing back riff-based, 1970’s-style rock in a big way. It seems to have started in Europe, namely Scandinavia and other smaller pockets throughout, and is making it’s way across the United States as we speak. Heavy cock-rock guitar lines and long hair are back in, and it’s clear that many younger folks who’ve come up in the age of YouTube have been studying hard after getting a taste of their parents’ (maybe grandparents’?) old Zeppelin and Sabbath records. It’s a great thing.
Many standout bands are worth mentioning in this genre (Slow Season, Wedge, Electric Citizen, so many more) but for today let me focus on Granite City, IL rockers The Judge. They’ve been around a good while now, and their latest album is a rag-tag collection of tunes they’ve released in piecemeal over the last few years and finally put down on one cohesive record. It’s not reinventing the wheel, not even trying to. This record is a bong-fueled time machine trip into your dad’s basement circa 1971.
Continue reading What’s That Sound? The Judge – s/t
When I was a kid back in the ’80s and ’90s, my family owned one of those handheld cassette recorders with the handles. My sister and I, or sometimes friends, would record everything around us. We’d create little radio programs and skits and songs and such. It was silly and fun, full of inside jokes, the kind of thing young people did in in the safe space of close kinship. A level of comfortable where you didn’t care about what anyone thought or said, just fun for fun’s sake.
Chicago siblings White Mystery always remind me of times like that, simpler times before the internet was ubiquitous when you could make something for an audience of two and that was enough. I’ve always found their songs to be filled to the brim with reckless energy, sonic adventures that drag you flailing into a fuzz-soaked fantasy world of the White’s creation. Proclamations of fierce individuality and unflagging loyalty swirl together with apocalyptic imagery and wild stories. All the while, it’s delivered tongue in cheek, never allowing the listener to take it too seriously. It’s always a hell of a ride.
Continue reading What’s That Sound? White Mystery – “Outta Control”
Anyone in psychedelic music circles these days will tell you, there’s plenty of fuzz to go around. Surf riffs drenched in shaky distortion, wobbly keyboard licks and distorted vocal yelps are becoming commonplace, and personally I love it. But as has happened with past music trends from punk to grunge to you name it, standing out from the crowd while indulging in the genre du jour isn’t always easy.
These guys the Harlequins may have a shot at it, though. On their first full LP, “One With You”, the Cincinnati three-piece has crafted a solid garage-pop trip that grabs you quick and keeps you floating.
Continue reading What’s That Sound? The Harlequins – “One With You”
The American band Kaleidoscope was formed in southern California in 1966 and quickly became a fan favorite in the psychedelic scene due to their unique instrumentation and wild studio techniques. After three unique and acclaimed albums and a popular live career the band released their final album “Bernice” in 1970 on Epic Records.
Their fans didn’t particularly like the record, citing a lack of enthusiasm and creativity in comparison to the earlier albums. The band had gone through several personnel changes leading up to “Bernice”, with a new rhythm section appearing on the record alongside new singer Jeff Kaplan. With that much of a shakeup in members and the album’s straightforward ’70s rock vibe, many fans saw this as a completely different band from the Kaleidoscope they knew and loved. Continue reading What’s That Sound? Kaleidoscope – “Bernice” (1970)
The self-titled debut from Tin House (produced by Rick Derringer) hit stores in 1971, and at first listen you could easily be fooled into thinking they were just another heavy blues band. The first two tracks, though well played, are prime examples of the straightforward, bluesy cock rock that was so common in the early ’70s. But there’s much more going on if you keep listening… Continue reading What’s That Sound? Tin House – “s/t” (1971)
In 1967, Island records quietly released this debut from British band Art (formerly known as The V.I.P.s) produced by influential rock producer Guy Stevens.
After this album the members of Art regrouped to form the more well-known Spooky Tooth, and the record is now considered Spooky Tooth’s unofficial debut. But “Supernatural Fairy Tales” stands apart from the band’s later work. While Spooky Tooth’s sound is more keyboard-based and blues focused, Art was based firmly in the realm of psychedelia. Continue reading What’s That Sound? Art – “Supernatural Fairy Tales” (1967)