Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lark's Tongue - Peoria Psychedelia

Sometimes a band comes around and causes issues in your life. Existential quandaries begin to surface.
"Just how truly in touch with reality am I?"
"Why does music like this slip past me?"

Lark's Tongue come from Peoria, Illinois. Made up of members of Minsk & Men Of Fortune (among others), they appear to be stealthily putting out music for a number of years. They can be classified in the "stoner rock" section, but really have little in common with the genre. It's a spacey affair. Slow, beautifully menacing, and swirling with neon psychedelia. Within the dark aeon they inhabit, concessions are made to hang up a sludge-y backdrop and allow the musicians to systematically beat the dust from it with their respective instruments.

 Their first EP came in the form of a 7" called "The Rope/Tucson, Arizona"

This was followed by a split with Men Of Fortune. Within the first ten seconds from the first Lark's Tongue track, you start asking those questions from before. It becomes obvious that this is a band you have not heard the likes of.

If you were not struck blind by the time you get to listen to their next split LP with Across Tundras (who are another story altogether), you will be. Songs like "Aluminum" ease you in to the Lark's Tongue sound, with its beauty-in-darkness feel. Reverb-drenched guitars cascade like stark white snow into a world of monochromatic blue. Sharing the journey are two heavy tunes from T.G. Olson & crew in Across Tundras. This really couldn't be a better fit considering both bands are equally incorporeal.

"Narrow" comes in, a gorgeous, crystalline glacier magnifying idyllic ages past. A slow-creeping monolith, reading bygone days like an ancient, immortal scribe. Progressive and layered, jagged and dense, this album is a culmination of what had gone before, but now wears of cloak of wisdom. Synths lope along doggedly while heavy funereal guitars fill the path with a soft morass. Laminations of voices loom over the album like monastic stewards. A bucolic trip when used in the right ways and allowed to utter in the right places.

All fancy stuff aside, there is talk of Lark's Tongue releasing new material in 2018. During this time, it might be wise to familiarize yourself with the rest of their albums. I'm finding that this prog/psych/drone band from Peoria, Illinois are a band that I should have discovered some time ago. Don't get yourself into the same bind when they put out a new album. Let Lark's Tongue cause some issues in your life.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland

I'm not necessarily reviewing this album. It does not need review. There are quite a few out there for you to read and enjoy. And the album is available to listen to as we speak. You can listen to this, knowing full-well that you're safe with KG&TLW.

This post is to push the release of Polygondwanaland in this LP format. This is nothing new. This has been released on various variants from various labels. You can most likely get yourself a crazy glow-in-the-dark swamp dill pickle swirl, with a fruity pebbles splatter, and a hand-dipped hot dog-scented cover. Maybe not, but there are a ton of "limited" releases out there.
I like this one:
Diggers Factory and the band are offering this LP, numbered + limited for only 1 measly little Euro. In the words of the band:
"This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Make tapes, make CD’s, make records."

It would be wise to jump on this limited release right now.

Get It Here! Don't wait on this one!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Demons - Embrace Wolf

Reviewing the latest offering from Norfolk, VA's Demons becomes an exercise in adjectives and synonyms for the words: Pummeling. Punishing. Brazen. Crushing.
To start this off properly, let's just say that Demons released an EP (with Spartan Records) that goes by the name of The Great Dismal. I liked it, okay? It was SUPER good. I mean, it had a lot of things going on trapped within a space of just six songs. Lots of influences would poke their heads out and sniff the air a little, only to retreat back into their cozy little holes. The whole thing was worth repeat listens just because of all the little bits and pieces you could lasso from it. I knew the band was still gravitating toward a sound they had already conquered, but didn't quite know the scope of their ascension.

Embrace Wolf comes out of nowhere, making mincemeat out of your face. It has this crazy old school post hardcore feel to it, but swings a nail bat full of noise rock screeching. Like AmRep and Touch And Go bands getting into a gang fight, but then agreeing to make noises in the night.
The album starts with the instrumental (telebrothy), setting the pace for the roller coaster we're about to get on.
"Always Your Own" grabs you by the collar and shakes you around with some heavy down-tuned riffs and a sneering hardcore attitude. I'm feeling the effects of fingers pointed as hard as they can.
"wish" kicks in with some drums played in your backyard.  Mid-paced, laced with darkness and a finger pointed so hard, it makes your own hand hurt.
"Nobody Loves You The Way You Are" makes me feel like I'm in the early days of "post-hardcore", "noise rock"... like I said: AmRep/Touch And Go feelies. The guitar pierces through the veil of sound like a syringe full of early '90s. This is not to say they are derivative... not in the slightest. These tunes are fresh and clean. They feel like songs you needed to hear NOW.
"Dig" clocks you in the jaw with a slow-cooker full of meanness. The howled vocals induce gooseflesh, while making you want to cower in a corner. Unconventional, twisty-turny riffs churn away in search of the next skull for trepanation.
"Decibel Farmer" knows who you are, and it knows where you live. And it also knows how hard it can point the finger, and exactly who it's pointing at. It also gives us our first breath of air after being manhandled throughout the entirety of Side A. We're treated to an interlude, of sorts. But it does not last long.
"17:9" hits hard, fast, and leaves you with finger holes in your face.
"Arranged Marriage" is the most "melodic" of the bunch. But it still has that twisty-riff grime that just won't wash off.
"Assured Retribution"... careful with those riffs, guys. This one makes the whole album. Back when I was hearing snippets of Embrace Wolf in-studio (via FB posts), this riff showed up and reared its head long before I heard the album. I wasn't prepared for that clock-cleaning. So... I dub this one the Nerve Salad personal favorite track from the LP.

Embrace Wolf is a brutal beatdown, but still gives you back the "oomph" to pick yourself up and wipe your bloody nose. You walk away a little wiser, a little tougher, and ready for the next time some band cold-cocks you when you're not looking.

My grandmother always told me not to make faces because it will "stick like that".  I made a few mean faces & scowls while listening to this album, but I think I was so happy to hear it, they never stuck that way. I love you Grandma, but I'm not so sure you were right about that.

Order from:

Spartan Records HQ

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Relaxer - Unreal/Cities

I tend to forget to take vitamins. It's not like I intentionally do it. I just get going so fast in the AM, that the very idea of having to take them just escapes me. Those days that I don't forget, I notice something different. Like an overlapping bounciness, or a milder reaction to the events of the day. You can get by with NOT taking them, but there is a definite difference in your world when you DO.

Akron, Ohio's Relaxer has that effect on me. There is some kind of crazy difference in the world when they show up. I would have survived without hearing it, but now I'm not so sure. Since I first had a dose, I think it's going to be a part of my regimen.

This is indie/stoner/prog. I don't know any other way to describe it, and the last thing I want to do to any band is compare them to some other band. The best thing to do for any situation is just listen. Members of Relaxer are/have been members of other known bands (The Party of Helicopters, White Pines, Teeth of the Hydra, Sofa King Killer, Royal Bangs , etc.), and if you do some research, you will find that these other bands don't have much to do with Relaxer. I notice that Relaxer can be crazy to listen to sometimes. These are busy dudes. The music is hugely spastic, and the guitars rip around like a buzzsaw. Synth blasts roll in from Planet X, and the prog arrangement ensures your compliance.

I'm finding Unreal/Cities to be a stellar album. It's music that I would not have heard had I not fallen into the rabbit hole. Thankfully I fell right on top of one of my favorite surprise albums of 2017.

Relaxer have another album as well (Lasers), which has a slightly more chilled-out element to it. They came back with a  more anxiety-driven blaster of an album that feels like it ends as fast as it begins, at which point you're catching your breath while you pick out your favorite parts.

Take your damn vitamins.

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Bandcamping Trips

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bong Wish - EP

I'm late to the Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records party. A label that puts out releases that defy most genres, but shares a wonderful solidarity with all things psychedelic.
One of their latest offerings is a 4-song cassette from Boston, Massachusetts' Bong Wish

Incense and peppermints cloak the aura of this EP. Music that sounds as though it was recorded in an era that never existed. Bandleader Mariam Saleh has a voice that brings to mind Renaissance's Annie Haslam, Grace Slick, Vashti Bunyan, etc.

When we start talking about psychedelic folk, we can go on and on about the "who's who" and the "what's what" of bands and artists. Some groups of yore had a more defined sound like the minstrel-y lilts of Mellow Candle, or the more rock-influenced flair of the aforementioned Renaissance.
And while I mention these groups for their vocalists, they really have little to do with this indecipherable musical sphere called Bong Wish. 

We start with "My Luv", a song that appears to be about a beloved pet (and, unless I can't hear lyrics correctly, hypnotist Karen Hand?). Could be a miniature dragon, could be a bearded dragon. Might be a Siamese cat named Latka.
"Saturn Spells" calls forth the psych folk ghosts of yesteryear. A tune on the darker side of things. Perhaps the darker side of some undiscovered galaxy with some other Saturn that we have not named yet. Flutes flit around like cosmic butterflies, guitars jangle from atop a distant stone slab, on a distant mountain, in a distant purple marshmallow cosmos.
The third song "Conversation With Business People" has a free vibe that continues for the length of the track. A '70s New Wave experiment in grooves turned into a PSA about the virtues of living freely as an extroverted introvert (it's a thing).
"In The Sun" completes the trip with an orchestral lullaby.

Each of these tunes is its own entity. It will be interesting to see what a whole album will be like. Meanwhile, these four songs are intoxicating enough to be listened to many times over. The EP, as a whole, has a cumulative effect on the mind. At first listen, this will befuddle and confuse you, but you will be drawn further into the swirly cosmic headspace with each listen. Multi-instrumental psych with a "trippy" assertion, closing in on you like a unexpectedly warm and snuggly, yet unpredictable, viper.

Bong Wish, with four songs, might very well turn the tides on the psych folk coterie. Looking forward to more of these hallucinatory sounds.

Put A Face In Your Book 

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trading Licks - Out Of Time

Let's say you once had this really awesome green paisley couch. I mean, this sucker was comfy. AND stylish, to boot. It was perfect for relaxing with your Siamese cat Latka, watching M*A*S*H., and sipping a glass of Tang. At some point, the band members of Trading Licks (Valencia, Spain) will have stopped by, rolled a joint with you, and talked about how much they don't like disco while you laughed the night away at episodes of Get Smart and Mork & Mindy. Am I jumping too many eras? Don't worry... it'll all make sense later.

I take one look at these dudes, and they remind me of this kid I used to know back in school. He was the "mysterious" kid that listened to Iron Maiden and punk bands. Growing up in the '80s, people that liked Judas Priest, had "Eddie" posters on their walls, had the DK patch on their jean jacket, opened up the front of a Trapper Keeper to slide a picture of King Diamond in there, or casually wrote "Celtic Frost" on their schoolbooks were simply another mystical race of alien/human hybrids that rarely came around. The ones you knew were always in detention when you got in there. There they were, furiously carving "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" into the desk with a smuggled pocketknife. The truth was, underneath all that tough exterior was a real music fan, digging through countless piles of garbage to find the one thing that speaks to them. It speaks to them in such a way that it defines their very character.

Trading Licks had their character defined by these same means. They obviously pilfered through enough old music to find the thing that speaks to them, and THROUGH them. They take cues from classic psych, The Cult, Led Zep, Thin Lizzy, etc. In other words, you're going to find something you like nestled within. At some point, you'll give in to the riffs, anyway. This is one of those bands that, upon first listen, might not appeal to you right away. You might feel as though you're not meant for this type of music. Like, this must be part of some sub-genre of rock that you're just not privy to. We all know that's a terrible way to think. Just listen to the album once, and something will jump at you before you get the urge to shut it off. Eventually, VOILA! You've enjoyed the whole album and are now preparing to play it again.

Now, when coming from such a vast ocean of influence, many things can become muddled and spotty. This just does not happen with Trading Licks. They burrow their way into a sound they can eat off of, it's so pristine. This is a group of talented young guys interpreting rock music and using it as a way to bend the rules of a "classic sound". It's good for the stoner rock folks, the psych rock folks, and the hard rock folks. So basically what we have is a great melodic hard rock band with '60s psych and stoner influences.

Trading Licks are destined to melt a few faces somewhere along the way. Let's hope they get this album on a piece of vinyl soon. Classic-inspired rock that has be heard to be believed. If this band does not become huge within a year, I will do each of these things I hate, per song on the album:
1. Claim Boston as my favorite band.
2. Eat asparagus and hot dogs on white bread toast.
3. Watch PETA videos.
4. Get a "Vanilla Ice kissing Trump" tattoo.
5. Play "Brown-Eyed Girl" in a band, and mean it.

After listening to this album a few times, you'll be really sorry you got rid of that green paisley couch. Trading Licks will need a place to sit, but I'm sure you'll have that covered when they eventually drop in for a visit.

Faces With Books

Monday, September 18, 2017

Kampusch Klub - EP 1

Kampusch Klub bring psychedelic post-doom/drone from Fribourg, Switzerland. The wonderfully-produced 4-song EP runs through the scope of everything contained within the genres. 

Let's get right down to the nitty gritty here:
This album is weird. I was hesitant at first, because I typically just don't listen to "atmospheric drone metal", or "post"-much of anything these days. But, man... this one stuck out like a beacon. The music contained within is like a barrage of experimental Psychedelic/Krautrock with a post-doom veneer. Maybe some Einstuerzende Neubauten sugar mixed in with their Minsk cakes. Perhaps Today Is The Day was hanging out with The Swans, started taking lithium and subsequently began writing music for David Lynch films. Somehow this band seems to go beyond these influences. 
I honestly can't say one way or another what the band is going for with these four tracks. Like I said: It's weird. Nothing about any of these songs stays in one place for long. They slowly build into a crescendo of shouts, harangues, and oceanic turbulence. Much of this comes out as moody, pent-up, and subversive, in a good way. In such a way that it grows on you with each listen.
The EP opens with "Closed Eyes". Right away we are treated to some nostalgic organs and a chilled-out groove. Again, this is all a phase that the song is going through. The mood begins to churn into a frothy, rabid hunt for resolution through caveman bellowing and haunted lamentations.
Next up is "Everything Must Go". This is easily the "lightest" number in the bunch. Beginning with a minor-keyed guitar strum, accompanied by tinkly synth taps, and rounding out with the murky gloom of dense doom.
"Fool In A Pool" is a tri-tonal noise rock foray that brushes shoulders with Earth, but still precariously blends the Kosmische mish-mash. It's a stand-out track on the EP, in my opinion.
"Psycho Killer" is the final track on the EP. This is not the same "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads. In the same vein as the other tunes, it starts out as though it were an interlude, but quickly transforms into a wild ride through some psych/doom universe. Ending with a crash into the Denisovans Phil-Disharmonic Orchestra.

Kampusch Klub are kind of different. They're obviously influenced by a lot of things, and it comes out in their music. This could sit well with many different folks.
My personal critique of the album would be the vocals. While this gentleman (known as D - voice + keys) sounds like a hulking beast and definitely adds to the overall sound of the band, I could see Kampusch Klub truly reaping glories by maybe later adding a more melodic edge to the vocals. Not that they would need to worry about what I, as a reviewer, would have to say in that regard. They're doing just fine without some whiny crooner messing their songs up. But, in all fairness, I would have to say that if they kept this sound up, and in later albums could include a broader range of vocal styles, they could easily explode into the psych/doom world with little effort other than just by doing what they do.

Kampusch Klub are recommended for those that want to branch out from what they normally listen to, while still being able to appeal to the heavy music fan within. In that regard, I'd say this album is a great way to get you to pull out all of your old records while you chip away at the multitude of influences that loom in the distance, eventually gnashing what's left of their cavemen dentition.
Doom on, gentlemen. Doom on.

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