Review: When it comes to plugging in mega stacks of amplified prog-rock, Vancouver-area band Black Mountain deliver a retro-futuristic sound that's as large as any Godzilla soundtrack. With Destroyer presenting a fifth LP on Bloomington label Jagjaguwar, Black Mountain go someway in delivering a bold cross reference of only the best and most legendary points of 60s, 70s and 90s rock n roll regalia. With keys and piano mixed with guitars, distortion and vocoders giving the band a futuristic, krautrock (Deutsche elektronik musik) edge, British psychedelic and raw but atmospheric arrangements give the band their own undeniable identity. With songs passing the bottle from slow dancing rock, flashy hair metal, to synthy guitars and cosmic arpeggios, the best metal of today is still way up there, on Black Mountain.
Review: Chicago's chilled out space rock collective Cave have been puttin' funk in their step for around 15 years now, with local label Drag City a trusted home to their most recent music. Having released their last two records, this third effort provides their first in five years which delivers yet again an instrumental bevy of hypnotic jams, maintaining their penchant for psychedelia that touches on '70s inspired krautrock, island percussion and of course a gluttonous amount of free jazz fusion. A recording spate in Chile has no doubt added some spice to the six tracks here with "Sana Yago" cooler than strollin' down the neon streets of south-side Chicago itself. Listen up!
Sound-Magic's Death Ray Destroys The Vortex & Has Union With Infinity
Rotation & Particle Density In D
Adventures In One Octave
Movin' On Static
Dystopian Shopping Mall
Acid Death Picnic
Kool Boy Narcosis
Lament For Cement
Review: Since slipping out in 2013 in frustratingly limited quantities, Cavern of Anti-Matter's epic debut album, Blood Drums, has become something of a sought-after item. Those lucky few who managed to secure a copy back then - or pay three-figures for a second-hand one online - will tell anyone willing to listen that it is a modern-day krautrock classic. Happily, Stereolab has persuaded the German trio to agree to a re-issue, now expanded to three slabs of wax to allow for a louder pressing. It's certainly an impressive set, offering up tracks that combine a krautrock sensibility with elements of lo-fi indie-rock, and leftfield electronica experimentation. There's not that many copies of the reissue knocking around, either, so you're advised to move quick before they're all gone.
Review: Chicago Odense Ensemble is a unique proposition that came together out of a chance meeting between Danish musicians Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott and a host of notal improvisational musicians based in Chicago, including members of Tortoise and the Chicago Underground Collective. After a now highly sought after first album, the loose-fit collective emerges once more with another wild collection of pieces that span jazz, psychedelic rock, kosmische and so much more besides. As deep and smoky as it is freeform and vibrant, you could spend years listening to this album and discovering new things.
Review: If you missed The Comet is Coming's brilliant debut album, Channel The Spirits, first time around, help is at hand. Happily, the Leaf label has decided to reissue the Mercury Music Prize nominated album, expanding it to two discs via the addition of 2015's similarly sublime Prophecy EP and a trio of previously unheard wig-outs. The genius of the London combo's music lies in their unique and eccentric approach to musical fusion. While their roots lie in fusing spiritual jazz and freaky psychedelic rock, keen listeners will hear a myriad of other influences and inspirations seeping into their distinctive instrumental compositions, from spiraling electronica, Afrobeat and skewed funk, to ambient, dub, drum and bass, Roots Manuva and low-slung industrial funk.
Review: Eric Copeland's first album for DFA, 2013's Joke In The Hole, was something of a breakthrough for the eccentric artist. Since then, he's released two albums for L.I.E.S, both of which were notably obtuse in comparison. Black Bubblegum, his second full-length DFA outing, is an altogether cheerier proposition, with Copeland combining his usual abstract, experimental beat-making approach with skewed guitars, quirky instrumentation, wild pop sensibilities and more than a touch of wayward '60s psychedelia. As you'd expect, this kind of zany, lo-fi fusion makes for enjoyable and hugely entertaining listening, with the New York producer seemingly throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the project.
Review: Are you a dreamer? Swedish band Death & Vanilla ask across eight contemporary takes on German Krautrock, French Ye-ye pop and 60s psychedelic. Vocals are breezy, their moog synths fat, with guitars drenched in reverb and delay. At times the band's sound aligns with other kindred groups like Goldfrapp, Portishead or even Bjork (with "Vespertine") through their subtle take on downbeat, alternative '90s pop and this is heard most in "Let's Never Leave Here". "Are You A Dreamer?" delivers the Malmo trio a fifth studio LP following last year's conceptual soundtrack for stage and screen entitled "A Score For Roman Polanski's The Tenant", and this time around, our highlights include the spacey western riffs of "Eye Bath" and the ever-so dreamy "The Hum". Esoteric modern pop for sure.
Review: Turning heads a couple of years hence with their self-titled debut, Fumaca Preta (which means 'black smoke' in case you weren't sure) are dark magicians of a wild and volatile analgam of whatever musical ingredients they see fit to throw into their collective cauldron at any given moment - be it crazed tropicalia, incendiary garage-punk, hypnotic psych-rock, Sabbath-style riffage, Butthole Surfers weirdness. wayward cumbia or maudlin balladry. Yet more mysterious than ever, they've somehow crafted a manner in which to be both more adventurous and more focused on this second effort, arriving at something akin to a tastefully disorientating dream sequence on a glorious psychic wavelength somewhere between high-energy Brazilian carnival and the nameless void.
Review: In the range of being able to build walls of noise that come up against those made by My Bloody Valentine (see album opener "Utro" for example), Gnoomes' sound splashes hues of Boards Of Canada with a wild and unique style of spaced-out, alien disco rock. With comparisons to be found in the distorted sounds of Holy Fuck and Does It Offend You, Yeah? "Mu!" sees the Russian four-piece push their sound to the furthest it's been since having it remixed by Krautrock icon Ulrich Schnauss. Highlights: "Ursa Major" & the psychedelic star gaze of "Sine Waves Are Good For Your Health".
Review: Inspired by the slightly unlikely collision of the Thai music of the '70s and The Shadows, Khruangbin - the name means 'aeroplane' in Thailand - are purveyors of a deliriously mellow and beguiling form of jammed-out power-trio guitar music - far removed from standard notions of psych and dreampop, partly owing to its pan-global influences, its nonetheless both psychedelic and dreamy, not to mention possessed of an unhurried, reflective and spacious lilt that renders this Texan-London outfit a rare treat in an information-saturated age, taking on delicate soul and funk with exotic atmospheres and making the journey feel both blissful and effortless.
Review: In 2015, Texas & London-based trio Khruangbin's debut album 'The Universe Smiles Upon You' garnered wide critical acclaim and captured attention for its seamless genre-blending and internationally shaped sound - one that evidently has deep roots in Thai-funk cassette culture. Similarly to their debut, sophomore record 'Con Todo El Mundo' is a cocktail of largely instrumental surf-rock, afro-funk, middle-eastern and far-eastern influences, mixed with warmth and soul. As if their pallette wasn't diverse enough, the additions of the pared back boogie on 'Evan Finds The Third Room', the widescreen dream-pop of 'A Hymn' and deeply intricate writing of closer 'Friday Morning', are illustrative of a band who have worked hard to broaden their horizons while keeping their roots in mind and, despite transatlantic bases, clearly remain a stunningly cohesive and well-matched outfit.
Review: It's not that fans of King Gizzard never expected this from the band's 15th long form outing, but rather anyone who stumbled upon the alliterated outfit on their last offering - "Fishing For Fishes" - is likely to be dumbstruck. Forget the life-affirming blues hues of that record. "Infest The Rats' Nest" sees the band at their heaviest - they are barely audible here beneath the din and cacophony of thrash metal. Exploring Earth's fate in the age of environmental degradation and pollution through "Superbug"'s slow chug and low, bellowed chorus, the driving riffs of "Mars For The Rich", the intensity of "Perihelion" and the screeching chords of "Venusian 2", the album's 9 tracks are as legit as anything this sub-genre has thrown at us since inception in the 1980s. More astute fans will have heard nuances of this on 2017's LP, "Murder of the Universe" and various manic musical explosions in Gizzard's back catalogue. "Infest The Rats' Nest" is a constant barrage of unrelenting energy from start to finish, and quite possibly their strongest album yet.
Review: Best band name since Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Australian group King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have been dominating Melbourne's vibrant garage, psych and surf rock scene for nearly a decade now. Fishing For Fishies presents another jovial journey through light and breezy themes of folk, blues, rock and psychedelic angles, with Violent Femmes vocoder techniques and a bevy of other surreptitious Generation X, '90s era music to boot. Quality, raw recordings full of an unique musicianship that sees the band continue to defy the terms and conditions of classically garnered genres. Get it into ya.
Review: A duo who've put considerable work into exploring the universes that can be located within two chords, Moon Duo may not be a band that anyone is expecting surprises or musical evolution from, rather a journey into their comforting mind-meld of Spacemen 3 drone and krautrock texture. 'Occult Architecture Vol. 2' bucks this trend in style, swapping the imposing darkness of its predecessor for open spaces and beatific soundscapes. The Balearic Neil Young lilt of 'Mirror's Edge' and alien glam stomp of 'The Crystal World', indeed, draw a map towards worlds and visions even admirers of this band didn't realise they were capable of.
Review: Jolting, licking, riffing, rolling and almost definitely tripping out of their minds and into your ears, garage-psych heroes Oh Sees compliment their already-prolific track record for wonderfully brain-melting business with an expansive double offering. It's a world that's not for the weak-kneed, with stacks ready to make floors shudder beneath the thump of feet driven by commanding rhythms and pounding kicks. Perhaps best exemplified on the title track, the likes of "Gholu" explore similarly ferocious, neo-punk, almost-heavy metal territories, electric guitar strings screeching like crazed banshees. Elsewhere there's more hallucinatory avenues traversed, the otherworldly intro and infectious strut of "Poisoned Stones", "The Experimenter" and its funk-infused instrumentation- like Hendrix cameoing on some early-Chilli Peppers demo. Not that we didn't want to shoehorn references to Zappa, kraut and Primal Scream in here, too.
Review: For the younger generation maybe it's Wolfmother, and for everyone else it's Black Sabbath, but for a slightly ironic psych rock band that's here to be taken seriously, with a pinch of motorik fun, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs bring home the bacon. King Of Cowards provides the north eastern Brits with arguably their most rock solid record that comes in at six tracks large. It can sometimes be few and far between that perfect place, or band, that has the ability to capture the visceral vibe, howl and punch of heavy rock but there's no denying these guys do it with devil horns all the way.
Review: Australian band Pond have been releasing music for over a decade now, with a hot streak of releases for Modular throughout the Twenty-Tens, and following earlier releases for Badminton Bandit and Canyon's Hole In The Sky imprint, they return to Marathon Artists with their latest (and eighth) album. The Perth band's sound lands somewhere between Cut Copy and Tame Impala, with plenty of contemporary shoegazing, synth pop and folk sounds to experience across its 10 tracks. Delivering an ode to Australia's secret state on its title track that hints at John Farnham inspirations too, our highlight is the moody blues on "Goodnight, PCC".
Review: Established in 2012, Marathon Artists has supported and released the music of Jagwar Ma, Real Lies and Courtney Barnett. Western Australian ironies the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets join the peloton with a third album following two linked LPs in 2016 and 2017. This album, "And Now For The Whatchamacallit", splashes on to record a streaming desert sky lit with streamlined guitar riffs draped in reverb and strafed by retro-active vocoders from the future. Like the cover art presents, it's a wild trip through a colourful and mystical land that almost paints a soundtrack for their very own planet sauvage. Fresh and contemporary psychedelica rising from the ashes of bands like Wolfmother and Kasabian. Highlights: "When In Rome" and "Digital Hunger".
Review: Still making the majority of Johnny-come-lately electronic artists look like both philistines and lightweights at 78 years of age, Simeon Coxe is till touring in an evolved manifestation of the same setup that he first stunned the avant-garde underground with nearly fifty years ago, and this, his first new album in nearly two decades - shows that he's far from losing his touch in the creation of dizzy melody and cosmic sonic architecture. This outfit's trademark classic proto-motorik groove is in place, as is the bewitching astral atmosphere, yet the gentle mysticism at the heart of the songs here remain true testimony to Simeon's status as a timeless visionary.
Review: For the recording sessions for Gorthleck, long-running collaborators Paul 'Mudd' Murphy and Ben Smith set up a small studio in a loch-side house in the Scottish highlands. The dramatic scenery and ever-changing weather patterns seem to have proved inspirational, because the album is arguably the downtempo duo's strongest to date. Variously influenced by kosmiche, Balearica, neo-folk, ambient, Tangerine Dream and movie soundtracks, the album's nine tracks meander along impressively, subtly shifting shape whilst winding their way into your subconscious. It's a beautiful set from start to finish, rich with hazy musicality and mood-enhancing moments, and comes highly recommended.
Review: Introducing the new psychedelic solo project of Paul Alexander, the bass player of Bella Union's mainstay signing Midlake. In a recent interview, Alexander said: "I'd always wanted Midlake to experiment more with the arrangements, or to get more into psychedelic textures," and this is obviously where he's gone to achieve such a sound. The album takes in breezes of shoegaze with psych-rock and the overall feel that comes out the other side is something closer to futuristic country & western space folk. Album highlights include "An Eye For An I" and album opener "SF" that should appeal to fans of Whitest Boy Alive, Father John Misty to Pink Floyd and '80s synth.
Review: Smokey, heavy, whiskey-soaked and dramatic, Manchester's The Underground Youth provide us with a new album following the two they dropped in 2017. There's something incredibly UK about the band and their sound, which comes with a touch of Madchester about them too for good measure. Album opener "Sins" is about as drastic as anything Nick Cave could come up with, while there's echoes of Joy Division in Craig Dyer's voice throughout, while simultaneously there's something undeniably post-punk about the band's radical production. Edgy, raw and stone-faced yet full of flavour and deep seated in the malaise of melancholic shoegaze, this album title sets it all up really: Montage Images Of Lust & Fear.