Tag Archives: drone

Aquarian Blood Tease Forthcoming Goner Debut with Amplified Madness of “Heaven Is In My Head”; “Won’t Forget to Die” and “Asshole In the Castle”

Members of Aquarian Blood, whose new album is due February 10 on Goner Records.

Aquarian Blood features husband/wife duo JB (Ex-Cult) and Laurel Horrell (formerly of NOTS).  What began (according to the band’s bio) as a home recording project has turned into a full-blown one, and they’ve offered the world a three-act tease of their forthcoming debut, “Last Nite In Paradise”: “Heaven Is In My Head”; “Won’t Forget to Die” and “Asshole In the Castle”.

Fans of each spouse’s other projects will find much to like here.  “Heaven Is In My Head” is full-on, raging synth-punk.  Announcing itself with a Tron-summoning synth line, the band throw it all into the red: vocals yelp and rail, guitars squall and synths tase – like being spun around, blindfolded, to pin the tail on the donkey…for almost two minutes.  “Won’t Forget to Die” (which, as the lyrics remind us, “no one ever does”), slows things wayyyy down the rabbit hole, a hazy raga psych drone wraiths around a Joy Division-y bassline, the gypsy strings towards the end adding to the fug.  Last (in track order), “Asshole In the Castle” – its title sadly fitting in these days and times – is more of a straightforward punk record, albeit with layered vocals and an off-kilter guitar hook.  Together, the songs make for a thrilling joyride.  Can’t wait to hear the rest.

But wait we must, if but only for a bit longer:  “Last Nite In Paradise” is due February 10 from the always in vogue Goner.  Check the Aquarian Blood bandcamp page for (slightly) more info.

Review: The Oscillation, Monographic

The Oscillation, Monographic (All Time Low/Hands In the Dark, 3/11/16)

The Oscillation is a project of UK-based multi-instrumentalist Demian Castellanos, who we first encountered on the excellent Kyvu Tapes, courtesy of our friends at the Cardinal Fuzz label.  Monographic, released in March, is a psych tour de force that packs a lot in while never losing its focus or continuity as a complete album.

From the off, the phaser set to stun effects introducing the opener/title track’s Clinic/Brechtian oompah drone grabs you by the scruff and leads you thro’ fields of stars on a sci-fi psych trip to the next whiskey bar at the edge of the universe.  As mentioned, there’s lots going on here, with the album’s seven tracks (the CD also contains two, bonus mixes) embracing elements of psych, epic Spacemen 3 drone haze (“Lonely People”), Hawkwind-style space rock (“Another Attack”), Scary Monsters style guitar wailing (“Take Us to the Moon”), early industrial, dub, dream pop (“Let It Be the End”), and chugging glam pomp (“Truth In Reverse”).

It takes work to bring all of these musical pieces together, and here they are brilliantly curated by Castellanos, whose sneering, breathy vocals recall Mark E. Smith, Robert del Naja, even Ian Brown in parts.  He plays all instruments on the record, save the drums, which are provided by live band member Valentina Magalietti.  Take the trip – it’s all about the journey.

Highlights include: “Truth In Reverse”, “Let It be the End”, “Monographic”, “Lonely People”.

Monographic is out now as a joint release of UK-based All Time Low and French label, Hands In the Dark.  The album, and much else both Oscillation and Castellanos-related, is also available on The Oscillation’s bandcamp site.  You can find out more on fbook and the band’s site, where you can also find their summer touring schedule.

New Music: The December Sound, Real Reign

The December Sound, Real Reign (self-released, 3/11/2016)

Fantastic news that this long dormant Boston band has once again resurfaced.  Real Reign is a new, two-track release from The December Sound:  here’s hoping it’s a sign of more new things to come.

Lead track, “Speaking From Tomorrow” is a typically noisy cloudburst of a track.  Showcasing the band’s aural fission of shoegaze, industrial, drone and even a bit of britpop, the track thrums with a narcotic drumbeat, wall of noise guitars, and whispered vocals in the vein of Robert del Naja.  Second cut, “Just Let Go” shows a softer side, a psych drone and slow burning bassline reminiscent of Spacemen 3 or Loop slowly moprhing into a kaleidoscopic churn of, er, looped guitar effects and a mantra-like repetition of the titular refrain.

Real Reign is available now through on the band’s bandcamp.  In addition, you can – nay, should – now order The December Sound’s excellent 2007 debut, The Silver Album, directly from the band by messaging them via their Facebook page.

Album Review: Running, Wake Up Applauding

Running, Wake Up Applauding (Castle Face Records, 1/15/2016)

Blistering, relentless new long player from Chicago’s Running.

Building on 2013’s excellent Vaguely Ethnic and subsequent singles, Running return with another set of vertigo-inducing punk/psych/noise/drone/whateverit’sgoodsojustlisten.  Wake Up is a loud record that begs to be played loud:  layers upon layers of reverb and drone textures mix with the jagged shards of feedback; largely indecipherable, muzzled vocals at the center of the sonic maelstrom.  This is the soundtrack to a paranoid schizophrenic’s psychotic break,  careening blindly through dark alleys in search of respite from the voices, the shadowy figures emerging from formless shadows.  Tension, tension, tension.

The lightning ride manipulation of guitar feedback is even more up front than on past releases, like 2014’s Totally Fired.  The band’s sound still includes a fair bit of the scorched earth hardcore of early Black Flag and of more experimental bands like Flipper, as well as early doom metal (lots of circle pit bridges).  There’s also room for aggressive, PiL post-punk, spazzy noise a la bands like Scratch Acid, and even a bit of a ROIR tape Bad Brains vibe (particularly on “Fucktown Reality”).

The album art appears to be a cross-section of skin, with an arrow indicating “running” just beneath the surface of the derma.  Appropriate, somehow, for a record that burrows deep.

Wake Up Applauding is out now, on Castle Face Records.  Since it’s basically impossible to find much of anything about this band – they have a Soundcloud page, in addition to the bio page on the Castle Face website – here’s hoping for some advance notice when next they emerge from the lab and tour.

Highlights include:  “We Never Close”, “Fucktown Reality”, “Wake Up Applauding”, “Art Seen”, “No Wave Jose”.

Album Review: Cathode Ray Eyes, Eyes In the Melancholy Palm

Cathode Ray Eyes, Eyes In the Melancholy Palm (Cardinal Fuzz (UK); Captcha Records (US))

Dread.  The itchy, claustrophobic feeling of something terrible imminent; close; around the next corner.  It can be as universal as the looming spectre of time or as specific as a stalker.

Dread hangs heavy over Eyes In the Melancholy Palm by Cathode Ray Eyes, the one-man side project of Ryan Delgaudio from The Cult of Dom Keller (a Nottingham-based band I was not familiar with but, having listened to this album, am anxious to listen to).  Within, we have tales of grim reapers, dead whores, “drowning rats”, worlds on fire and places with “no beginning, middle or end”. Much like the dread in stories like Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, it is palpable but never quite comes into full focus – a slow-burn stressor, without resolution.  Is the evil real, or are we witness to the waking, post-traumatic nightmares of the protagonist?

Despite the Celtic Frost-summoning title, Eyes In the Melancholy Palm is psych rock par excellance.  Heavily distorted vocals leer from behind a gauzy curtain of drone-laden, looped guitars; narcotic splinters of gothic, ambient waves underneath:  Joy Division scoring 28 Days Later.  Expected reference points like Brian Jonestown Massacre and the darker side of Thirteenth Floor Elevators share time with The Cramps, Clinic, Spacemen 3, The Cure (I kept hearing shades of songs like “The Snakepit” and “Like Cocaktoos”), even Fad Gadget’s death disco.

While heavy (both metaphorically and literally), there are moments of bliss throughout – the resolution around the 2:40 mark of “Goodbye to Wonder”, the surf-reverb on “Drowning Rats” – finding another (friendly?) human face amidst the ruins.  It is also a rare record that actually get better, more fulfilling, as it slides along – the second half trilogy of “Goodbye To Wonder”, “1,000 Suns” and Wire-laden closer “Where There Is No Beginning, Middle or End” the most affecting on the record.  “Get me out of here/before I lose control” a most fitting lyrical coda to this collection.

Eyes In the Melancholy Palm is out June 1 on Cardinal Fuzz (UK) and Captcha Records (US).  Check out the band on their (his) Facebook page.  [Update:  the good folks at Cardinal Fuzz tell me the album is available starting tomorrow (May 20).]

Highlights include:  “1,000 Suns”, “Goodbye to Wonder”, “I Woke Up This Morning and the World Was on Fire”, “The Unsuccessful Resurrection of James Dean”.

Album Review: The Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits

The Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits (Mexican Summer, 06/10/2014)

The Fresh & Onlys are a four-piece out of San Francisco.  Their latest, House of Spirits, is their sixth full length (the band has also released a couple of EPs). On prior releases, the band honed a sound including elements of psychedelia, garage rock, 70s SoCal country-tinged pop, and a bit of Paisley Underground and Brit-influenced 80s indie rock.  House feels like an attempt to broaden this sonic palette further, introducing more drone and ambient textures and hues to broaden the scope.

For this review, I thought I’d try something different and attempt to share my (slightly cleaned up) initial reactions to the each track on the album. Here goes:

“Home is Where” – opens with church organ; crooning vocals over piano, then morphs into a steady rocker – kind of reminds me of Doves.  Retains updated 60s via 80s sound. The dreamy, reverbed vocals once the song harken back to the days of “college radio” and import singles from some great UK band.

“Who Let the Devil” – intro bass/drum line sounds like Lords of the New Church a bit (probably just me…). Dreamy guitar arpeggio laces around muffled, Tim Cohen’s underwater vocals – ‘who let the devil walk into my house/ when i was born dying’.  Something about the melody reminds me of a Neil Young song, but I can”t figure out which one – it’s driving me crazy.  Is that a zither? autoharp? in the chorus?

“Bells of Paonia” – strobed guitar drone, ambient textures over pulsating bass line and lyrics about the effects of a pill.  Druggy, Spiritualized hushed gospel feel overlaid with Warm Jets-era Eno. Invites repeated listening to peel the onion.

“Animal of One” -“the point of forgiving/is so you forget/that being forgiven/is all in your mind”.  Seventies, SoCal country-tinged pop vibe.  Song (quietly) explodes into an absolutely lovely chorus around the 2:30 mark.

“I’m Awake” – to be honest, this song didn’t really grab me.  Was a bit disappointed by the chorus after an encouraging opening melody.

“Hummingbird” – an out and out rocker.  Chugging bassline and straight ahead drums bring echoes of 80s brit/indie – maybe a less dramatic Icicle Works? Interplay between the lead guitar and vocals is great.

“April Fools” – sweet, airy vocal melodies over chimey guitars – not a million miles away from San Francisco psychedelic pop legacy.  Love the guitar line in the chorus.  Could use a bridge/transition somewhere, though.

“Ballerina” – country infused.  A road trip through somewhere flat, where the reference points in the horizon never seem to get closer.  Vocals (here, I believe, by guitarist Wymond Miles) evoke a world weary Roger Miller.

“Candy” – opens with a playful, swinging beat. A slow grower.  Would be nice of the guitars were pushed more to the fore to bring the chorus out of it’s shell a bit.

“Madness” – (closer). intro reminds me of the beginning to “Disappear” by INXS (this is not a bad thing).  Similar in feel with “Bells” – a more languid, ambient arrangement crashes against a rocky shore of heavily distorted guitars.

Highlights include: “Bells of Paonia”, “Who Let the Devil”, “Animal of One”.

Spotlight Dance: Kult Country

Kult Country are a six piece hailing from Manchester, England. To date, they have released two singles, “Slowburn” and “Trembling Moon”.  The first came out last year; I just heard the new single last week, and so am making up for lost time a bit with this write up.

“Slowburn” (5/13/2013, Sways Records) is truth in advertising: a slowed-down, “No Quarter”ish groove unfurls into swirls of distortion pedal goodness.  Vocalist Yousif Al Kharagouli sounds a bit like the Richard Ashcroft of earlier, druggier Verve records fronting Chapterhouse or Slowdive.  B-side “Amongst the Dead Forever” is a different beast altogether, bursting forth with a choppy, motorik beat underlying a repetitive melody line and vocals recalling 80s industrial or darkwave.

New single, “Trembling Moon” (6/30/2014, No Self Records) shimmers.  Jingle jangle guitars float above a Ride-worthy, propulsive drum/bass combination running pell mell, tumble bumble into and through a baggyesque breakdown in the middle.  A cavalcade of influences, to be sure:  one hears Mighty Lemon Drops, Ride, Bluetones, Stone Roses…others…all blended together into a heady cocktail.  B-side ‘Atlas Haze’ harkens back to “Slowburn”, a musical swirl cone (can you tell it’s a hot, muggy day as I type this?):  one side chiming along like a lost cut from the first Smiths album, the other early period Verve (again) or perhaps Evergreen-era Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Spacey with scattered bits of droned melody throughout, “Atlas” feels like “Trembling”s end of the rave come down.

In a clash of senses, these songs feel textural, almost tactile.  From what I’ve read online, the band’s debut full length is set for release later this year.  On this evidence, it is one I’m looking forward to very much.  Check them out at www.facebook.com/KULTCOUNTRY.