Much has changed since Tame Impala first emerged with an EP of dusty home recordings in 2008. By and large Kevin Parker's approach to recording has not, though the sound coming out of his home studio though has vastly expanded, as has the number of people anticipating the fruits of his labour. Tame Impala's third album is titled Currents, and on it Parker addresses a blindingly colourful panorama of transition in the most audacious, adventurous fashion he's yet to capture on record.
Dense with heady lyrical introspection, musically the most playful, bold and varied Tame Impala record to date, Currents is Parker putting down his weapons and embracing change as the only constant -- sonically, thematically, and personally.
Musically, Currents sounds like the work of a player on top of his game and having a blast, Parker indulging his whims and unafraid to dive down the rabbit hole after an idea. Again operating as a one man studio band, Parker's resultant record calls to mind contemporary hip hop production, Thriller, fried 70s funk, the irreverent playground Daft Punk presented on Discovery, swathes of future pop and emotional 80s balladry, all filtered through a thoroughly modern psychedelic third eye. A genre-bending soundscape fuelled equally by curiosity as it is consciousness, it's exhilarating new territory for Tame Impala.
Lyrically the record finds Parker in a very different place in 2015 to where he was seven years ago. Currents maps Parker's evolution through the varing rhythms of life these and finds him more or less a brand new person, albeit one making the same old mistakes -- Currents maps Parker's evolution through these and finds him a brand new person. In parts of both 2010's Innerspeaker and 2012's Lonerism Tame Impala sounded like a guy on the outer wanting in, and now that he has finally arrived Parker seeks to make sense of the new world in which he finds himself. Stopping to reflect on the road behind, where he finds himself currently, and the road ahead, Currents spans a tumultuous time.
The first track from the record to be unveiled, Let It Happen, is a perfectly encapsulating preview of what lies ahead. Coming in just short of eight minutes, Let It Happen traverses a swag of sonic terrain in its duration. The drums and Parker's vocal introduction lull the listener with a sense of familiarity, until it all sweeps up into a cosmos once populated only by French robots, with insistent melody, broken machine loops, synthetic orchestration, surfing vocoder and a shredding guitar outro.
Typically, initial Tame Impala recordings saw Parker's vocal hidden beneath a layer of psychedelic fuzz, drenched in reverb, lyrics ambiguous. Currents finds his voice front and centre, so no bones are made about his intent.
Sketched out in planes, cars, hotels and homes since the completion of Lonerism in 2012, pieced together over the later part of 2014 and early 2015 at home in Fremantle, Western Australia, Currents was written, performed, recorded, produced and mixed by Kevin Parker.
Tame Impala presents Currents, a soundtrack to life's turbulent flow.
Mercury Rev (Performing Deserter's Songs)
MERCURY REV was formed in Buffalo, New York in the late 1980's. Consistently driven by Jonathan Donahue (vocalist/acoustic guitar), Grasshopper (moth-light guitars, clarinet, tettix wave accumulator), Jeff Mercel (drums, piano, keyboards) with Dave Fridmann (bass explore, telescope, knob twiddler), Mercury Rev have continued to surprise and enlighten listeners for over a decade and a half with their maverick musical explorations. In the beginning, MERCURY REV's first recordings emerged simply as a means for creating soundtracks to experimental films that they and their friends were creating. David Baker (sometimes vocals), Suzanne Thorpe (flutes), and Jimy Chambers (percussion) joined this loosely connected ensemble, and eventually recorded a demo during off-hours at the SUNY Fredonia studio. This demo somehow made its way to the British offices of the Jungle/Mint label, who contacted Donahue about signing the group. MERCURY REV reconvened to record their debut, YERSELF IS STEAM. Highlighted by distorted art-pop epics like "Chasing a Bee", "Coney Island Cyclone", and "Frittering", YERSELF IS STEAM was released to widespread acclaim in 1991. Later that year, the CAR WASH HAIR E.P. further convinced pundits of MERCURY REV's volatile genius.
The group's second show (playing to over 10,000 people) at the Reading Festival in the UK, showed the dynamics of their live show, and during the next year and a half they found themselves performing at such diverse venues as the Royal Albert Hall in London and in an opening slot for Bob Dylan at Yale University. The release of BOCES in 1993 was a continuation of their marriage of searing noise with crystalline pop. Although this became their first record to hit the UK Top 50, by the next year, musical differences led to the departure of David Baker. Dave Fridmann, on the other hand, decided to focus on sound engineering and production, and ceased touring with the band (continuing to work with them in the studio). By the time the beautiful SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE appeared in 1995, the first chapter in MERCURY REV's maverick career had drawn to a close. While critics marveled over the wonderfully eclectic pop-jazz experiments of "Everlasting Arm", and "Racing the Tide", the band grappled with puzzling personal predicaments.
Switching record labels and nearly broke, Donahue and Hopper relocated to the Catskill Mountains in New York State with newcomers Adam Snyder (keyboards) and Jeff Mercel to begin writing new material. Chambers and Thorpe, unable to deal with the band's continuous chaos, decided to move on. The band began recording what was to become DESERTER'S SONGS during 1997 at Dave Fridmann's Tarbox Recording Studio. DESERTER'S SONGS was released in 1998 to world-wide acclaim. On this influential album, MERCURY REV reinvented itself with sweeping orchestrations and poetically heartfelt lyrics. It would herald a rebirth for the band, allowing for further experimentation and thrill-seeking. MERCURY REV toured extensively for DESERTER'S SONGS, which was chosen as album of the year by the NME, MOJO, and many other international music publications. The songs "Goddess on a Hiway", "Holes", and "Opus 40" have become classics which have taken on a mythical life all their own.
Recorded at the end of 2000/early 2001, their follow-up ALL IS DREAM found MERCURY REV once again broadening their musical horizons with cinematic bombast. Older and slightly wiser, the band stumbled into exhilarating new musical galaxies on such songs as "The Dark Is Rising", "Little Rhymes", and "Tides of the Moon." They toured the world for most of 2002, and began recording songs with Dave Fridmann during the early months of 2003. During this "time off" they were also involved with composing pieces for various film soundtracks (including HELLO BLACKBIRD, the soundtrack for the film BYE BYE BLACKBIRD). THE SECRET MIGRATION came out at the beginning of 2005 and David Fricke wrote:"Mercury Rev have finally made their great life-cycle album, their own DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, except this one ends in promise and light.”
-Jack Bishop THE HOLOGRAPHIC PRESS (senior editor)
SNOWFLAKE MIDNIGHT was released on September 29, 2008 on V2/ Yep Roc. The critically acclaimed THE LIGHT IN YOU came out on Bella Union in 2015. 2018 sees the band revisiting DESERTERS SONGS with extensive touring to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their landmark release.
American alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 2004.
Emily Kokal: vocals, guitar
Theresa Wayman: guitar, vocals
Jenny Lee Lindberg: bass, backing vocals
Stella Mozgawa: drums
“What I want is to open up. I want to know what's inside me. I want everybody to open up. I'm like an imbecile with a can opener in his hand, wondering where to begin—to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I'm sure of it.” - Henry Miller
Digging beneath the mess of the world to find the beauty underneath is perhaps the most consistent theme in Chelsea Wolfe’s expansive discography—a theme that ties together her ceaseless explorations in unorthodox textures, haunting melodies, and mining the grandeur embedded within ugliness and pain. With her sixth official album Hiss Spun, Wolfe adopts Miller’s quest to become empowered by embracing the mess of the self, to control the tumult of the soul in hopes of reigning in the chaos of the world around us. “I wanted to write some sort of escapist music; songs that were just about being in your body, and getting free,” Wolfe says of the album before extrapolating on the broader scope of her new collection of songs. “You’re just bombarded with constant bad news, people getting fucked over and killed for shitty reasons or for no reason at all, and it seems like the world has been in tears for months, and then you remember it’s been fucked for a long time, it’s been fucked since the beginning. It’s overwhelming and I have to write about it.”
Hiss Spun was recorded by Kurt Ballou in Salem, Massachusetts at the tail end of winter 2017 against a backdrop of deathly quiet snow-blanketed streets and the hissing radiators of warm interiors. While past albums operated on the intimacy of stripped-down folk music (The Grime and the Glow, Unknown Rooms), or the throbbing pulse of supplemental electronics (Pain Is Beauty, Abyss), Wolfe’s latest offering wrings its exquisiteness out of a palette of groaning bass, pounding drums, and crunching distortion. It’s an album that inadvertently drew part of its aura from the cold white of the New England winter, though the flesh-and-bone of the material was culled from upheavals in Wolfe’s personal life, and coming to terms with years of vulnerability, anger, self-destruction, and dark family history. Aside from adding low-end heft with gratuitous slabs of fuzz bass, longtime collaborator Ben Chisholm contributed harrowing swaths of sound collages from sources surrounding the artist and her band in recent years—the rumble of street construction at a tour stop in Prague, the howl of a coyote outside Wolfe’s rural house in California, the scrape of machinery on the floor of a warehouse at a down-and-out friend’s workplace. Music is rendered out of dissonance—bomb blasts from the Enola Gay, the shriek of primates, the fluttering pages of a Walt Whitman book are manipulated and seamlessly integrated into the feral and forlorn songs of Hiss Spun.
The album opens with the sickening bang of “Spun”, where a lurching bottom-heavy riff provided by Chisholm and Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age, Failure) serves as a foundation to a sultry mantra of fever-dream longing and desire. The first third of Hiss Spun—whether it’s the ominous twang and cataclysmic dynamics of “16 Psyche”, the icy keyboard lines, restless pulse and harrowing bellows of Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom, SUMAC) on “Vex”, or the patient repetition and devastating choruses of “The Culling—all carry the weight of desperation, lost love, and withdrawal. Wolfe’s introspection and existential dread turns outwards to the crumbling world around us with “Particle Flux”, an examination of the casualties of war set against an aural sea of static. White noise is a constant thread through Hiss Spun, with Wolfe finding solace in the knowledge that radio static is the sound of the universe expanding outwards from the Big Bang—a reminder that even dissonance has ties to creation. The electronic thump of “Offering” serves as an ode to the Salton Sea and the encroaching calamities stemming from climate change. The obsession with white noise and global destruction carries over into “Static Hum”, where the merciless percussive battery of Wolfe’s former bandmate and current drummer Jess Gowrie helps deliver the dire weight of a sonnet dedicated to a “burning planet.” By the time the album closes with “Scrape”, Wolfe has come full circle and turned her examinations back inward, reflecting over her own mortality with arguably the most commanding vocal performance in her entire oeuvre.
“The album is cyclical, like me and my moods,” Wolfe says of Hiss Spun. “Cycles, obsession, spinning, centrifugal force—all with gut feelings as the center of the self.” And it’s an album that Wolfe sees as a kind of exorcism. “I’m at odds with myself…
I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way.
I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.” Every Chelsea Wolfe album is cathartic, but never before has both the artist and her audience so desperately needed this kind of emotional purging. Sargent House is proud to release Hiss Spun to the world on September 22nd, 2017.
Malcolm Mooney (of Can)
African-American singer, poet, and artist. He was the original vocalist for Can.
Connan Mockasin was born with a tooth as Connan Tant Hosford in Te
Awanga, New Zealand, after the war. At a young age, Mockasin discovered
Jimi Hendrix's 'Band of Gypsies' in his parents’ record collection and,
awestruck, he proceeded to learn to play the whole album on guitar, note for
note. By ten years old, Mockasin started his first band named 'The Four
Skins,' "because there were four of us in the band and four skins on the
drummers kit", he recalls.
Mockasin moved to England in his early 20s to pursue a career in music.
Disheartened by the music industry for "not telling the truth," Mockasin
decided to give up on music. However his mother encouraged him to make a
record for himself, which would become his debut solo album, 'Forever
Dolphin Love'. Shortly after, Mockasin wrote and recorded with Sam Dust of
Late Of The Pier to make the album 'Soft Hair' which wouldn't be released for
another eight years.
In 2012, Mockasin wrote and toured with Charlotte Gainsbourg before touring
with Radiohead later that same year. In 2013, he wrote and produced his
second solo album 'Caramel,' in a hotel in Tokyo. Connan has since worked
with artists James Blake, Neil and Liam Finn, Vince Staples, Dev Hynes, Mac
DeMarco and Andrew VanWyngarden.
Mockasin currently resides in Los Angeles with Japan's first Playboy
Playmate Hiromi Oshima, where he’s in the process of finishing a five-part
dramatic series called 'Bostyn 'n Dobsyn' to accompany the release of his
third solo album.
Preoccupations’ songs have always worked through themes of creation, destruction, and futility, and they’ve always done it with singular post-punk grit. The textures are evocative and razor-sharp. The wire is always a live one. But while that darker side may have been well-explored, that’s not quite the same as it being fully, intensely lived. This time it was, and the result is ’New Material’, a collection that broadens and deepens Preoccupations to a true mastery of their sound. In it lies the difference between witnessing a car crash and crashing your own, between jumping into an ocean and starting to swallow the water.
“It’s an ode to depression,’ singer Matt Flegel says plainly. “To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Typically resilient, the months leading up to recording ‘New Material’ brought a new order of magnitude to feelings that had been creeping up on Flegel for some time. He’d written bits and pieces of lyrics through the course of it, small snippets he hadn’t assigned to any one thought or feeling but were emblematic of a deeper issue, something germinating that was dense and numb and fully unshakeable. As the band began writing music, that process gave shape to the sheer tonnage of what he’d been carrying. With virtually nothing written or demoed before the band sat down together, the process was more collaborative than before. It was almost architectural, building some things up, tearing others down to the beams, sitting down and writing songs not knowing what they were about. But for Flegel, it led to a reckoning. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized,” says Flegel. “I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong."
‘New Material’ builds a world for that feeling, playing through its layers and complexities while hiding almost nothing. That inscrutable side is part of the magic, here, and a necessary counterweight to the straight-jab clarity of Flegel’s lyrics. You can deep-dive the lyrics or zone into a riff; you can face it or you can get lost in it. “My ultimate goal would be to make a record where nobody knows what instrument is playing ever,” says multi-instrumentalist Scott Munro, “and I think we’ve come closer than ever, here. It shouldn’t sound robotic — it should sound human, like people playing instruments. It’s just maybe no one knows what they are.”
A Place To Bury Strangers
Three piece New York based noise rock and shoegaze band. Oliver Ackermann is also famous for his manufacturing of infamous guitar noise pedals.
King Khan & The Shrines
In 1999 King Khan, Aquarius and founder of the greatest cult phenomenon
since the parting of the Milky Way, decides to put together a musical shrine.
The 8-piece band called The Shrines are assembled and together with Khan
begin spreading their hypersexual gospel around the world, stunning Krauts
and becoming notorious for being one of the most entertaining groups since
the days of Ike & Tina.
Dressed in their ceremonial duds, King Khan and the Shrines, are more than
just a psychedelic soul revue, imagine Roky Erickson backed by the Sun Ra
Arkestra or Wilson Pickett leading The Velvet Underground, wearing a golden
cape that wraps around the world, a Bollywood James Brown reading his selfmade
tarot cards (WHO DOES THAT!?).
As the love child of Anubis and Kali, King Khan & The Shrines have pillaged
countless stages around the world and are known to frequently drive
audiences into a sweaty orgy. If musical salvation is what you need, if your
soul is searching for true absolution, look no further....
Let King Khan & The Shrines come into your mind, body and soul to heal your
King Khan & The Shrines’ first album Three Hairs & You’re Mine was
produced by Liam Watson, recorded in the legendary Toe Rag Studios in
London and released on Voodoo Rhythm in 2002.
A second full-length, Mr. Supernatural, followed in 2004. Hundreds of gigs
followed all across Europe, Australia and North America. They headlined
Toronto’s NXNE festival 2006 playing three nights in a row and had Dave
Davies, trombone player of the Sun Ra Arkestra join their brass section.
King Khan & The Shrines then released What Is?!, receiving critical acclaim
from all over the world. It landed at #33 on Pitchfork’s Top Albums of 2007,
while their track “Welfare Bread” landed at #66 on Pitchfork’s Top 100 Songs
Their greatest hits, aptly titled "The Supreme Genius of King Khan & The
Shrines"' came out in 2008 on Vice Records and for the first time their music
was widely available in the U.S.
Since then King Khan & The Shrines have played at several notable festivals
including ATP, Coachella, Sasquatch, Pitchfork and South By Southwest.
Furthermore King Khan was invited by Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson to
perform at the Sydney Opera House as a part of the Vivid festival in 2010.
In 2013 King Khan & The Shrines joined North American cult indie label
Merge Records who released the groups 4th album called Idle No More.
The single „Darkness“, which, as King Khan says, is about the “ugly beasts
that must be tamed inside of us all” and also his “attempt to do something as
real as Nina Simone”, was premiered by none less than the New York Times.
Following Idle No More Khan had a vision to create a deck of tarot cards that
celebrates black power. He recruited Belfast artist Michael Eaton (Game of
Thrones) and together they created the Black Power Tarot deck, under the
supervision of surrealistic film maker Alejandro Jodorowsky thus fulfilling
Khan's long time dream of becoming one of Jodo's "spiritual warriors".
The stories and legends that surround the band and its charismatic leader are
wild and often hilarious. If true or not, one thing is for sure:
"King Khan is that fiery arrow shot into the night sky which no one knows how
high or far it will travel, however we do know that as that fiery arrow streaks
across the heavens, along the way its flames will light up dark places." -
John B. Smith founder of Memphis activist group The Invaders.
Shannon & the Clams
The American West. America’s America. It was here in three very different worlds that Shannon and the Clams were spawned. From the dark redwood forests of Oregon emerged Cody Blanchard: singer and guitarist. The dusty walnut orchards and vineyards of northern California gave us Shannon Shaw: singer and bassist. Out of the lonely dunes of California’s central coast shambled Nate Mayhem: drummer and keys. These three talented visual artists were drawn separately to Oakland, California and it was there that the Clams began playing house parties and grimy clubs.
The band was forged in the anachronistic remote communities of the west, in some strange mixture of computer show and country fair; their music is some odd alloy of The Last Picture Show and The Decline of Western Civilization. The pioneer spirit of western life is all over this band: pushing into the unknown, blazing their own trail, creating their own destiny, with the accompanying canyon-esque loneliness and untamed joy only truly known by those with the courage to pull up stakes and head off into the big empty sunset.
Gone by the Dawn, the newest Shannon and the Clams album, is their best work to date. The music is complex, the lyrical content is emotionally raw and honest, and the production is the strangest it’s ever been. The album was written as one member was recovering from a serious breakup and another was deep in one. The lyrics reflect it, and the entire album is dripping with sadness, pain, and introspection. Shannon and Cody have not written generic songs about love or the lack of it. Instead they have written about their very own specific heartbreak, mistreatment, and mental trials. The emotion is palpable. On Gone by the Dawn the Clams have DARED TO BE REAL. They’ve exposed their true emotions, which is what's most moving about the album. People are scared to be so real. Society does not encourage it. Folks remain guarded to protect themselves from being mocked, punished, and becoming outcast . The Clams have opted to forgo the potential tongue-clucking finger-waggers, and have instead had the artistic courage and audacity to splay their pain and struggles out for all to hear. We are lucky to hear them get so damn real.
For Gone by the Dawn, the Oakland trio hooked up with studio wizard and renaissance-man Sonny Smith to record the album at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco. Best known as the driving force behind San Francisco’s beloved Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith uses his refreshing production techniques to create an engaging sonic landscape without compromising the Clams’ signature Lou Christie-meets-The Circle Jerks sound. The Clams have evolved: their skills are sharper, their chops are tighter and weirder and they’ve added new instruments to to the mix. A whole new dimension of the Clams has emerged.
Nowadays, it’s exceedingly rare for a two-and-half minute rock song to have raw emotional power, but with Gone by the Dawn Shannon and the Clams have gifted us an entire album of them.
What do you call a group of psychedelic songsters all grown up? A group who were often considered the younger sibling, who have come into their own? Artists who just released their best piece of work yet, and musicians who unleashed one of the rowdiest and strongest live touring sets 2014 witnessed? You call them POND.
2014 unveiled the full-formed POND and the Northern Hemisphere barely survived. POND supported the Arctic Monkeys throughout Australia and then jumped on the next plane to Europe. There, POND stunned audiences at Primavera Spain + Portugal, UK festival Field Day, and brought the house down, every night, across their UK/EU headlining tour. Touring with Nick Allbrook (Vocals / Guitar / Astronaut), Jay Watson (Drums / Vocals / Dad Jokes), Joseph Ryan (Guitar / Bass / Vocals / Actual spaceman), Jamie Terry (Keys / Good vibes) and with barely a breather between, POND tore through North America, with sell-out shows ranging from one coast to the next, bouncing between countries like a pogo-stick. Pond's 6th album "Man, It Feels Like Space Again" hit the shelves January 23 (AUS) / January 26 (UK/EU) / January 27 (US) 2015, with more festivals and headline tours booked around the globe to showcase the new tunes and support this stellar album release.
"Man It Feels Like Space Again" was recorded in Melbourne Australia and once again mixed by buddy Kevin Parker. The band showcased "MIFLSA" songs throughout their first headline tour of the US in October. Starting at a festival in Mexico, heading to New England, traipsing through Canada, and back down the west coast, POND pondered, why stop there? After their sold-out Los Angeles Halloween show, POND ventured south to play music festivals in South America, where audiences exploded upon hearing "MIFLSA"'s hits and partied-hard with the melodious entertainers.
Hailing from Perth, Australia's POND formed in 2008 after good friends Joseph Ryan (Mink Mussel Creek), Nick Allbrook (Mink Mussel Creek, Allbrook/Avery, Tame Impala, Peter Bibby & His Bottles of Confidence), and Jay Watson (Tame Impala) hit upon the idea of an all inclusive, ego-free collaborative, so the boys immediately recorded their debut album "Psychedelic Mango" with a little help from good friend Kevin Parker (Tame Impala).
Since the beginning, POND wrote music and produced records faster than a label could release them. POND followed up "Psychedelic Mango" within months, releasing "Corridors of Blissterday," a frenzied effort recorded live with an eight-piece band in 2009. A year later, their third album "Frond," a kaleidoscopic classic, dripping with funk and falsetto, loosely inspired by a diet consisting only of Prince and Fleetwood Mac, delighted audiences Australia-wide. "Frond"'s release finally realised industry attention and praise, solidifying the band and their music in its own right. "Beard, Wives and Denim," their 4th album, was recorded on a farm a few hours South-West of Perth. "Beard, Wives, Denim" is a triumph of the eclecticism and good humor that drives POND.
Upon "Beard, Wives, Denim" release in March 2012, global attention shined its light upon the Perth gang. A North American tour ensued, smashing through 31 shows -- including 8 at South by South West -- where they were one of the most talked about bands of the festival. From there, they returned home to Australia and sold out a national tour before storming UK and Europe, causing NME to tout them as the "hottest band in the world right now" as well as proclaiming "Beard, Wives, Denim" as "quite possibly the best album released so far this year."
In August 2013, POND gifted to the world their 5th LP in as many years, "Hobo Rocket." "Hobo Rocket" is 40 minutes of perfectly imperfect emotion, challenging veteran listeners and music reviewers with an evolved and vigorous sound. Singer Nick Allbrook describes the release as the "...kind of mindset of finding our own little place in music, and being more of a functioning band, which is what makes it noisier and denser. This one we went as brutally hard as we would at a show. We wanted the songs to sound loose and live."
Enthusiasts and music aficionados world-wide agree MIFLSA is POND's most focused composition to date. This mirrors their touring efforts, dynamic and enthralling live show, media buzz and essentially, the maturation of a musical career a long time in the making. Maybe it's not such a bad thing growing up, especially when it's this much fun!
City Music is an airplane descending over frozen lakes into Chicago. City Music is riding the Q Train out to Coney Island to smell the ocean and a morning in Philadelphia where greats cranes reconfigure the buildings like an endless puzzle. City Music is a quiet afternoon moment on a bench in Baltimore, a highway in Seattle at night where the distant houses look like tiny flames and a bottle of red wine being drained on a bridge in Paris. City Musicis a bus pulling into St. Louis at dawn where the arch looks like a metal rainbow reflecting the days early sunlight.
City Music is also the new album by Kevin Morby. Full of listless wanderlust, it's a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mould. As he puts it: "It is a mix-tape, a fever dream, a love letter dedicated to those cities that I cannot get rid of, to those cities that are all inside of me."
His fourth album, City Music works as a counterpart to Morby's acclaimed 2016 release Singing Saw, an autobiographical set that reflected the solitude and landscape in which it was recorded. It was imagined as "an old bookshelf with a young Bob and Joni staring back at me, blank and timeless. They live here, in this left side of my brain, smoking cigarettes and playing acoustic guitars while lying on an unmade bed."
And now follows City Music, the yang to its yin, the heads to its tails. It is an collection crafted using the other side of its creator's brain, the jumping off point perhaps best once again encapsulated by an image. "Here, Lou Reed and Patti Smith stare out at the listener," explains Morby. "Stretched out on a living room floor they are somewhere in mid-70s Manhattan, also smoking cigarettes." It finds Morby exploring similar themes of solitude, but this time framed by a window of an uptown apartment that looks down upon an international urban landscape "exposed like a giant bleeding wound."
Morby rose to prominence as bassist in Woods, with who he recorded seven albums on Woodsist Records (Kurt Vile, The Oh Sees, Real Estate) while also forming The Babies with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls. Two albums and a clutch of classic singles with the latter followed. Morby's 2013 debut solo work Harlem River was a homage to New York and featured contributions from artists including Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (of White Fence), while 2014's Still Life garnered universal critical praise. "It's easy to picture Morby with a wineskin under his arm," noted a Pitchfork review. "His every worldly possession hitched to his back, an eye constantly fixed on some faraway point on the horizon."
Recording at Panoramic Studios, a central Californian home-turned-recording studio, City Music saw Morby joined once again by former The Babies cohorts Megan Duffy (guitar) and Justin Sullivan (drums). Here the vocals were at recorded night, in darkness, overlooking a Pacific Ocean illuminated only by the stars, the wash and whisper of the ebbing tidal a distant soundtrack. Six weeks of European touring had left the trio speaking a secret language that only a band can speak. "The language of a musical family," explains Morby. "There was an outdoor shower with no curtain and deer ran through the front yard during the meals we cooked for each other..." The record was completed with Richard Swift in Oregon (producer of Foxygen, sometime member of The Black Keys).
From the widescreen opening of 'Come To Me Now' through the bubblegum stomp of the Ramones-eulogising '1-2-3-4' (which also references late poet Jim Carroll's litany of friends lost, 'People Who Died'), a stripped-back and wistful cover of 'Caught In My Eye' by nihilistic LA punk wrecking crew Germs and on to Leonard Cohen-evoking closer 'Downtown's Lights', City Music reads like a selection of musical postcards composed and posted in the moment. It is a forensic and poetic examination of a modern America in love with the myth of itself.
At the big beating heart of these songs is the voice and conscience of the city. All cities. We see them viewed from differing angles; from down in the gutter, and drifting up into the celestial firmament. "I am walking through a Chinatown in a major American city and now I am a guitar part taking place in my head," offers Morby by a way of a commentary for the album's inception. "It falls around me like rain, dancing with the neon lights coming off of the signs of the restaurants and bars. Now I am a lamp full of hot air floating away, looking down. The city is beautiful like one million candles with different sized flames, moving in their own directions. A line finds me and grabbing it I hold on tight. I sing to myself, 'Oh, that City Music, oh that city sound...'"
Here the album gives voice to the all those cities speaking the same universal language of chaos and commerce and culture. It views the city as an Oz-like experience, with your host cast as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, a narrator by turns innocent, awestruck, fearful and fearless. Where a world once black and white is now rainbow coloured. "I am a city and I have many moods," it says via its human conduit. "I am dangerous and I am gorgeous. Like a proud forest made of metal and brick I am constantly changing shape, growing bigger and smaller all at the same time. I hold you but you do not hold me...."
City Music. Let it hold you.
Earthless has a surprise for you. Whereas the band’s three previous albums featured anywhere from two to four completely instrumental space rock jams, the California trio’s fourth and latest, Black Heaven, is nothing like that. “It’s quite different,” drummer Mario Rubalcaba says with a laugh. “It has six songs, and most importantly it has vocals on about 70 percent of the record. There goes being pigeonholed as an instrumental band, I guess…”
Though dedicated fans doubtlessly heard Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell lend his soulful pipes to the band’s righteous cover of the Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red” on 2007’s Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky, they haven’t heard him—or Earthless—quite like this. Of Black Heaven’s six tracks, only two are instrumental. And one of those instrumentals is less than two minutes long. “It wasn’t a premeditated thing to do a record with vocals,” Rubalcaba explains. “On the older records, Mike was responsible for a lot of the riffs that would start these jams, but on this one Isaiah really brought his own pizazz and flavor to it. I’d say that’s one of the major differences on this album: It has more of Isaiah’s input. He took a risk bringing these ideas to us, not knowing if we’d like them. But as with everything we’ve done in the past, it felt very organic and natural.”
When Rubalcaba, Mitchell and bassist Mike Eginton started Earthless in 2001 as a psychedelic instrumental band, they were constantly asked, Are you guys looking for a singer? “That was the joke for years,” Rubalcaba laughs. “But we’ve always known Isaiah could sing. He’s got a great voice. We’d do a cover here and there or maybe write a song for a special project or collaboration, but we’ve never tried to focus on writing a few songs with vocals on them. It was really refreshing to try this approach on a record.”
While the band’s lysergic leanings are fully intact, Black Heaven takes on a more classic rock hue than previous outings. “For me personally, the psychedelic thing is pretty important,” Rubalcaba offers. “But I’m not sure if we’ll always be on the crazier side of things musically. Even on this record, there are moments when it’s more psyched-out, but we’ve always been really big fans of classic rock stuff like ZZ Top, James Gang, Allman Brothers—and of course, Cream. There would be no Earthless if it wasn’t for Cream. They’re like the great-grandfathers of power trios. So, some of those simpler influences have leaked through on this record. To me, [album opener] ‘Gifted By The Wind’ has a more James Gang or ZZ Top vibe than Flower Travellin’ Band or any of the krautrock stuff. With all the vocals and harmonies, that’s definitely a different direction for us.”
In the years since Earthless wrote their last album, 2013’s epic double LP From The Ages, Mitchell moved from the band’s San Diego base up to Northern California. As such, the writing process for Black Heaven changed considerably. “From The Ages was from the era of the band where we rehearsed together a couple times a week,” Rubalcaba explains. “We didn’t really have that luxury this time, so the record was made over the course of a few months with Isaiah coming down for maybe three days at a time, getting in a room and working on ideas.”
Rubalcaba spent much of the downtime between From The Ages and Black Heaven playing drums in the punk super group OFF! alongside former Black Flag/Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris, Redd Kross bassist Steven McDonald and ex-Burning Brides guitarist Dimitri Coats. When Earthless reconvened, the trio faced a bit of a conundrum. “Getting back in a room to write a record with Earthless, I think all of us were a little bit scared, like, ‘How are we gonna do something different from the last record?’” Rubalcaba offers. “There was this unknown—how we could top the last one? But when we finished this record, we were stoked. We’d done it. We created something totally different that we’re all happy with.”
After working out the new material, Earthless rolled out to the famed Rancho de la Luna Studios in Joshua Tree, California, where illustrious desert rock denizens such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss and Masters Of Reality cut some of their weirdest and wildest work. Owned and operated by Eagles Of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching, the studio is the stuff of legend. “I had struck up a friendship with Dave a few years ago, just from Eagles Of Death Metal and OFF! playing together at some festivals in Europe,” Rubalcaba explains. “We’ve been talking about having Earthless record at Rancho for a while now. I wanted to work with him because he’s not the kind of guy that would interfere with the writing process too much, but he has good ideas for sounds and subtle input that really helped shape things.”
It’s safe to say that Earthless got some sand in their shoes—and their tunes—thanks to Rancho’s unconventional setup. “That desert vibe really sunk into this record even more than I thought it would,” Rubalcaba concedes. “I don’t think it sounds like a ‘desert rock’ record per se, but Rancho really brought that feel into what we were playing a little bit more. It’s really cool out there because it’s not really a proper studio. It’s a house, basically. Dave’s bedroom is where you do the guitars. The mixing room is the living room. It was a really cool experience hanging out and recording there.”
As for the album title itself? “Whenever we couldn’t jam with Isaiah, Mike and I would play just bass and drums together, and we’d call that ‘Black Heaven,’” Rubalcaba explains. “That was basically code for just me and him jamming, and we always joked that one day we’d have a side project with that name. The longer instrumental track on the new album has a heavier, darker feel, so I just thought of ‘Black Heaven.’ Then I thought it would sound good as a record title, too—so there isn’t really too much of a deep meaning behind it, unfortunately!”
Deep meaning or no, Black Heaven is a game changer for Earthless. Nobody is more aware of this than the band members themselves. But they also know this: you’ll never get anywhere if you’re running in place. “I’m sure there will be some people who have come to expect the big gargantuan space rock jams, and I don’t know if they’ll be into this or not,” Rubalcaba admits. “But I’m ready to deal with a little bit of disappointment from people who just want the freakout stuff. At the same time, I think people are gonna enjoy hearing a different side of us. If people really listen to what we’re doing, it’s gonna sound like us. Sometimes it just takes a few listens. And that’s the kind of stuff that pays off more in the end.”
Japanese psychedelic rock band formed by Tomo Katsurada and Go Kurosawa in 2013.
All Them Witches
Psychedelic Stoner Rock band from Nashville, Tennessee.
The Memphis punk powerhouse known as Ex-Cult started six years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. Founders Chris Shaw and MIchael Peery conceived the idea at the legendary Memphis dive the Lamplighter, a 37 person capacity "venue" where the band would later play it's second show. Fast forward to 2018 and the band has toured the continental USA countless times, doing tours with the likes of Ty Segall, OBN IIIs, and Power, in addition to a five week tour of Europe in 2016. Ex-Cult's recorded resume reads like a who's who of underground labels, including Goner Records, Castle Face, Famous Class, and most recently, Los Angeles label In The Red Recordings. The band's pummeling third full length, Negative Growth, is available through now through In The Red.
The Holy Drug Couple
The Holydrug Couple began in Santiago, Chile in 2008, a little over a half-decade after Ives and Manu met for the first time. The two young friends hadn’t seen each other in a few years when Manu texted Ives to tell him that he bought a drum kit. They started jamming, and a week later, the band was formed. A flurry of songwriting activity followed, culminating in 2011’s Ancient Land EP and 2013’s Noctuary, both released on Sacred Bones. After extensive touring, the band returned with the limited lathe-cut 7" single "Everyone Knows All" b/w "Quetzal" and a split with Spiritualized for the Space Project in 2014. Moonlust, their sophomore full-length for Sacred Bones, boldly treads territory that those earlier psych-indebted recordings only hinted at, and it was prefaced by the singles "Dreamy" and "Baby, I'm Going Away." The album was released in May of 2015 and preceded tours around the US, Europe, Mexico and Brasil. Soon after, the band started preparing their third release with Sacred Bones, record that it’s expected to have it’s release in the second half of 2018.
Dallas trio TRUE WIDOW craft patient, rounded music that calls to mind images of
foggy dawns and parched fields. Formed in November 2007, TRUE WIDOW released
their self-titled debut a year later and immediately caught the ears of the underground. At its core, the music of TRUE WIDOW is powered by the driving, guitar-dense aspects of shoegaze and stoner rock and the heavy, low-moving evocations of ambient music.
Following their auspicious start, the band returned in 2011 with their sophomore full length, As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth. As High As The Highest Heavens saw the band solidify their direction and further mature their sound, but it wasn’t until 2013’s Circumambulation (TRUE WIDOW’s debut album for independent label Relapse Records) that they reached the heights - both professionally and compositionally - they have now. Circumambulation garnered the band widespread praise both within and beyond the metal world and was praised by publications as diverse as Pitchfork, NPR, Decibel Magazine, and Metal Injection. The band followed up the success of that album with extensive touring across the US, Russia, and Europe, including numerous appearances at renowned festivals such as Roadburn, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Psycho California, and more.
This year, Avvolgere, the forthcoming LP from Texas trio TRUE WIDOW, perfects the
formula that Circumambulation established. The album rocks and rolls with serene, rounded climaxes and steep, jangling choruses that engulf the listener with waves of downbeat, saccharine melodies and mesmerizing distortion. TRUE WIDOW’s signature alternation between male and female vocals helps further blur the boundaries between the heft of stoner rock, the droning atmosphere of shoegaze, and the twangy catchiness of blues and indie rock. It’s both concise and circuitous - the album takes you on a journey that you can’t ever quite predict or expect. Avvolgere is TRUE WIDOW sounding more infectious and consummate than ever before.
True Widow is:
D.H. Phillips (guitar/steel guitar/vocals)
Nicole Estill (bass/acoustic guitar/vocals)
Slim TX (drums/piano)
Despite a .300 batting average and a 63 mph curveball from the mound, Cut Worms’ Max
Clarke was the black sheep of his baseball-centric, Midwestern family. He was drawn to the
creative shadows, drawn to the basement 4-track and late nights in the art studio as much
as he was the dugout. He had a born knack for conjuring warm sounds and fine images. His
songs in particular crackle with the heat of a love-struck nostalgia: golden threads of
storytelling, like visceral memories, woven together with a palpable Everly Brothers’
influence and 50s/60s naiveté. But the kid still has a pretty mean curve. Like one of his
creative pillars David Lynch, Clarke’s songs and artwork are also curveballs with a curious
A Cut Worms song may impress an innocent summer stroll across fields of tall grass and
lavender — but there’s undoubtedly a severed ear out in there in the grass. Some unseen
dark forces are always lurking at the edges of songs’ sunbursts. Bright, beautiful lap steel or
a cheery harmonica accompaniment often belie an impending doom or crestfallen narrator.
Clarke didn’t necessarily seek out a life as fulltime musician. Before releasing music under
the moniker of Cut Worms, Clarke went to school for illustration with the idea of a sensible
career in graphic design, then took on a string of handy- man type odd jobs. Still,
songwriting – that semi-secret practice Clarke had been cultivating since the age of 12 –
kept gnawing at him. It was the only sort of work that didn’t feel like work. Plus, if there’s
ever a time to do something as unreliable, unrealistic, and imprudent as throwing yourself
wholly into music, might as well be done when you’re in your twenties.
A number of songs that make up his LP, Hollow Ground, bloomed from his time in Chicago
during period of driven creativity. In particular, “Like Going Down Sideways” and “Don’t
Want To Say Good-Bye” find new life on Hollow Ground, polished from their initial
appearances on Cut Worms’ 2017 introductory Alien Sunset EP. Both still fizzle with a lo-fi
60s sound, but cleaned up, they gleam.
The remainder of Hollow Ground was written in Clarke’s current home in Brooklyn, where
he still home-demos songs. The record was recorded partially in Los Angeles at the home
studio of Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, and partially in New York with Jason Finkel at Gary’s
Electric. Clarke, who plays keyboards, bass, and lap steel in addition to his main guitar,
handled most of the instrumentation across the set. He explains he’s always strove toward
a specific musical aesthetic, and Hollow Ground marks the closest he’s gotten to hitting it
Hollow Ground is imbued with a sharp, self-aware lyricism; as strong as the music is here,
Clarke shows an affinity for evocative storytelling, striking the balance between cerebral
and simplicity. Look no further than the chiming, rollicking standout “Cash For Gold.” For
a song with so much sock hop energy, it’s actually about being trapped in one’s introvert
head — stuck on the couch or against the wall at the edges of the dance floor.
Sometimes, on Hollow Ground, we find characters impossibly lustful, sometimes brooding,
while in other parts they fumble along, hopeful and painfully self-aware. If the music can
be said to have any sort of through-line, it revolves around Clarke’s obvious delight in
singing his heart out through varying degrees of agony. His songwriting both evokes and
explores the raw realm of youth, its weightlessness and possibilities, but channels it
through the lens of someone more restrained, who’s been through it all before. Someone
who’s old enough to know better but still gets drawn back in to the romanticism of teenage
feelings – and knows how to take the listener along, too.
JJUUJJUU is an astral union, an arcane ritual, and above all, a conversation. Harnessing an unspoken energy, the group has exponentially blossomed from a sonic experiment to a forceful, telepathic dialogue of distinct-but-aligned vibrations. A revolving cast of local and international musicians have all been a part of JJUUJJUU at one point in time. Releasing this dynamic on an expanding spiral of planned and impromptu live shows in the American southwest and BEYOND, the magnetism of the trio (and sometimes duo) only continues to grow, along with its devoted, traveling coterie of entranced acolytes.
Here Lies Man
American quintet based in Los Angeles who plays a mix of West African music and heavy rock.
Chico Mann - Guitar, Vocal
Geoff Mann - Drums
Rich Panta - Percussion
JP Maramba - Bass
Mary Lattimore is a Los Angeles-based harpist. She experiments with effects through her Lyon and Healy Concert Grand pedal harp, concocting half-structured improvisations which can include both ambient glitter and unsettling noise. Her first solo record, the Withdrawing Room, was released on Desire Path Recordings in 2014. The solo recordings that followed, At the Dam and Collected Pieces, were released by Ghostly International.
Mary has also recorded synth + harp duo projects with Elysse Thebner Miller (And the Birds Flew Overhead) and Jeff Zeigler (Slant of Light) and has co-written reimagined scores for the 1968 experimental silent film Le Revelateur, directed by Philippe Garrel (who approved of the project), and the Czech New Wave classic Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, and performed these scores live throughout the US with Jeff Zeigler and the Valerie Project, respectively. She has contributed and written harp parts for such artists as Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore, Sharon Van Etten, Meg Baird, Steve Gunn, the Clientele, Hop Along, Jarvis Cocker, Karen Elson, Ed Askew and Quilt.
Ghostly International will release her third solo record in late spring of 2018.
Gladys Lazer is nomadic music. The solo project of Tel Aviv born musician Gal Lazer – known
for his unfathomable drumming with Yonatan Gat of Monotonix – distills Lazer's memories of a
time when he had no home and travelled the world solely on music. Recorded in Sao Paulo,
Brazil, and in the countryside of SW Georgia, the debut EP, Candy World/Bye Past, features
eight instrumental pathways: sonic vignettes that combust breakbeat, post-jazz, krautrock, and
trip-hop in a cycle of pastoral daydreamscapes and electronic dirges: all percussive, melodic
Cat Scan but can we?