The wait til January 28th has been long for those anticipating Morgan Delt‘s self titled full length album, and we are fortunate to finally get to hear it today streaming over at Hype Machine! Delt became an underground hero when his tape Psychic Death Hole made the rounds of Los Angeles and beyond. Using tape manipulation skills, he creates such a warped sound that sounds like Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band played underwater. So unique and really makes him stand apart from the plethora of psychedelic acts out there now. Listen today, I’ve had “Obstacle Eyes” on repeat for a month:
Australia’s Sarah Blasko is ready to bust out onto the international scene. Her new album I Awake Live at Sydney Opera House is out today, and she also released a crazy weird but tremendously awesome video for her heartbreakingly beautiful song “Fool”. As slowly strobed images cross against the screen, you get an unsettling feeling when you catch glimpses of shots of her with no eyes, a melting chin, any uncanny valley horror you can think of. Her smokey torch song voice is the anchor to the whole thing though, washing the eeriness away with beauty and soul. Watch and listen to Sarah Blusko’s “Fool” here:
Don’t think she is like all those twee, quirky singer-songwriters with weird inflections in their voices that you hear on every single car commercial, Angel Olsen is a true talent. When she played the Hi Dive last April, she captivated the audience, just her and her guitar. While a backing band eventually joined in, it was nothing like the electric glimpses she has been giving us of her album Burn Your Fire For No Witness out February 18th on Jagjaguwar. Combining her soulful, crackly Americana voice with fuzz guitar is a match made in heaven, and today she released her next single off the album, “Hi-Five”. My first instinct on first listen was to tear up when she croons “Are you lonely too?”, she somehow hits you straight in the feelings. This new album is going to make her a major star. Listen here:
1. Swearin’ “Hundreds & Thousands” http://swearin.bandcamp.com/track/hundreds-thousands
Allison Crutchfield, twin sis of Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee fame shows that she can do the 90’s jangle pop thing with flat vocal intonations even better than her sister.
2. Sides of Chaz “Sweet Tea” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8dfaOakGJk
Better known as Toro y Moi, Chaz Bundick shows off his weird, psych art folk pop side here and it sounds both derivative and modern at the same time.
3. Naturally Born Strangers “Tie Breaker” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MIgDW8C7tg
Toronto MC Rich Kidd produces and rhymes in this new rap trio that mix old school beats with real life narratives. This one about a shorter chick wanting to be a basketball player is unique and positive.
4. St. Vincent “Birth in Reverse” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c5BhXdVBqw
Artpop queen St. Vincent produces a catchy, poppy tune with a vocal style that makes you listen to every word.
5. The War on Drugs “Red Eyes” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsoqmFL1vlU
Mellow stoner synth pop meant to be played when hitting the open road.
6. Gap Dream “Shine Your Light” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOcBmvEwjq8
Music that sounds like the Never Ending Story soundtrack on ecstasy. Epic pop.
7. Natural Child “Ain’t Gonna Stop” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_2EMbmIU70
Nashville’s Natural Child does the southern psych thing better than anyone, and the vocals bring to mind Lynyrd Skynyrd in the best way.
8. Yellow Ostrich “Shades” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Lo53Hr0fc
Alex Schaaf has a whole band now and his sound is bigger and more psychedelic.
9. Temples “Mesmerise” https://soundcloud.com/templesofficial/temples-mesmerise
Psych rock with hooks and heavily layered vocals that sound like a flower child choir.
10. Orchestra of Spheres “2,000,000 Years” https://soundcloud.com/firerecords/orchestra-of-spheres-2000000
Sickeningly fun futuristic Blondie-tinged dance funk from New Zealand.
Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett is a refreshing, dry witted DIY performer who releases her earnest, psychfolk tunes on her own label, Milk! Records. Her single “Avant Gardener” made Pitchfork’s Top 100 singles list this year, and for good reason. She’s got a tint of Bob Dylan in her rambling, beat driven narratives that poke fun at herself and the rest of the world, with a deadpan singsong voice with inflections reminiscent of Liz Phair.
Listen to and buy the album here: http://store.milkrecords.com.au/album/the-double-ep-a-sea-of-split-peas
Gabriel Fulvimar a.k.a Gap Dream was invited to live at Burger Records, an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Fellow Burger Record star Bobby Harlow came in to help record and produce the new album, and it’s a synthy, sexy dream of an album. The new album hits harder than Gap Dream’s previous work, drum machine right up front giving an industrial and harder hitting sound that comes closer to his live show. It’s the perfect balance of a gritty modern aesthetic and chill psychpop. Title song “Shine Your Light” has an epic feel to it, and the video’s film production quality and matter only add to that feeling. “Fantastic Sam” has the perfect flat vocal delivery that brings an edge to the synthloaded beats. The whole album is pretty midtempo, and while I wish maybe some songs were a little sped up, the mellow sound lets more interesting effects come into play so it works itself out. The 60’s sounding reverb drenched “Immediate Life Sentence” brings a great layer of fuzz and Galaga sounding laser noises while “Shine Your Love” has a synthy horn melody reminiscent of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. It’s like the garage rock version of The Neverending Story score.
Sometimes you fall in love with a band that has only just begun and has very little material out there. You play those three songs over and over, checking for US tour dates and anticipating their EP release. Yesterday the waiting paid off a little, as they released a video for their new song “Melting”. Their scattered 90’s pop sound is insanely catchy and extremely accessible, at times reminding me of Weezer and Beck but with direct Britpop connotations.
Here is their soundcloud with the other two songs that exist on the internet. Here’s to 2014!
Mike Donovan sounds like a city punk who went to the country and found out he fits right in. Former member of the grittier Sic Alps, he shows himself to be an extremely capable singer/songwriter with this solo effort. The single “Do Do Ya” has such a great guitar twang background slinking up the half step melody, sounding like early Rolling Stones honky tonk. His soft, almost muted at times guitar tone is gorgeous on opening track “New Fieldhand Bop” as he strums just ahead of the beat, sliding each note into place and giving the whole thing some sass.
The tempo of “Fly Them Yourself” drags too slow for my taste, but the energy is high on most tracks, “Sic Ballad” having a soulful “Hey Joe” reminiscent verse; electric guitar sounding just properly dirty enough. The spaghetti western horns and slide guitar of “Sexual Reassignment Surgery Blues” gives serious credence to a song that could be seen as novelty. “MP3 Farm” has a forceful downward strummed rhythm that begs for getting down, and a simple acoustic major key solo. Overall, it’s a really well produced album, he can write beautiful songs, and he sounds good singing them.
Mike Donovan “Do Do Ya” video
When you see over twenty tracks listed, you think either someone has a lot to say, or they need an editor. Cass McCombs is the former, his sound is so pleasing and easy going he could have recorded a box set and it would have all been listenable. With Mike Gordon of Phish playing bass here and there, the thumping backbone of the rhythm section lets his vocals echo and wisp above it all while remaining strong and direct. “Big Wheel” trucks along strong, a beat similar to “When the Levee Breaks” chugging on as Cass purrs seductively with the slightest sneer. The slide is used to maximum beautiful effect in “Angel Blood”, amazing AM pop hooks that remind me of early Beatles through it and the remainder of the album. Some tracks are more segments of songs, as McCombs seems to be sharing any idea he had at the time, fully formed or not. “Brighter!” appears twice, a melancholy song that sounds like it would have fit in on the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and then having cult actress Karen Black take over the vocals the second time around, giving the song and even eerier turn as her final performance before succumbing to cancer.
“There Can Be Only One” has a very Velvet Underground feel to it with the flat story telling vocal delivery, bouncy bass from Mike Gordon (Go Cactus!) and shimmying drums from Furthur’s Joe Russo sprinkling all over the album. “Name Written on Water” is as close to an homage to Bob Dylan as you can get, the repeating Watchtower sounding rhythm growing stronger and stronger as his snarky delivery questions life. The production on this album is great, warm with a vintage feel that just sounds so damn pleasant. This is one of the better and more prolific songwriters out there right now, and with his galley of talented collaborative friends, there’s no telling the body of work he will create in his lifetime.
“There Can Be Only One” with Mike Gordon:
Crocodiles are great at mixing the beauty of simple pop melodies with the chaos of distortion and fuzz without the music even missing a beat, and their latest release “Crimes of Passion” is even more than I hoped for. “I Like it in the Dark” immediately makes the album takeoff, a funky piano line dropping down into the verse while a tambourine frantically keeps the beat until a ripping guitar solo takes over. Everything is well thought out here and flows perfectly, the whole album is a perfect package. Crocodiles are a well edited garage band, all fat is trimmed and they can really just fall right into a chaotic freakout and pull it right back into the melody like it’s nothing.
Their San Diego roots are very evident, especially in songs like “Teardrop Guitar”, filled with melodic California sounding jangly guitar riffs and dreamy, layered vocals. “Cockroach” brings even more organ to the front, really giving the song that great swirling sound I love in psych music. This album is short and sweet, when I got to the end I was actually surprised it was already over, and already yearning their next album. This band has been steadily gaining steam over the years with consistently great recordings, and I think this album might just put them over the top. Thank you, Crocodiles!
Listen to “Teardrop Guitar” here: “Teardrop Guitar” soundcloud