Fatamorgana is a Barcelona-based project featuring Patrycja Proniewska and Louis Harding, whose previous endeavors ranged from the sandblasted hardcore of bands like Good Throb and the gothic, post-punk textures of outfits like Belgrado. Following on last year’s excellent, self-released demo, debut long-player Terra Alta finds the duo striking a midpoint between the sparse, new wave mood pieces of bands like Visage, Yaz(oo), or early Human League (think Travelogue, or Dare tracks like ‘Sound of the Crowd’ – not ‘Human’) and the later, lushness of later 80s bands like Propaganda or Book of Love.
A fata morgana is a type of complex mirage, its layers of distorted images at times resulting in certain shapes on the horizon appearing to float (and named, apparently, for Morgan le Fay). This seems a fitting name for the band, as the surface-level simplicity of these 11 tracks often beguile and distract from the complexities beneath. Nowhere is this clearer than on album highlight, ‘10 Minutos de la Tierra’, whose leveled beat and floating vocals must surely make Vince Clarke wish he’d written it 35-odd years ago. Elsewhere, ‘Universo’ shifts an elongated, processed vocal left and right for so long it becomes disorienting. Closer ‘El Desvanecer del Futuro’ is a strobe-lit dance floor epic built upon the sturdiest of synthesized bass and rhythm that gradually fades off over the horizon.
The lyrics are mostly in spanish, and mine is not good; however, a quick review of the titles suggests a lyrical focus on the magical/mystical places and times (Atlantis, labyrinths, the dawn, the universe/deep space) that fit well with the album’s feel. Terra Alta is out now, courtesy of the always fab La Vida Es Un Mus discos.
Highlights include: “10 Minutos de la Tierra”; “La Atlántida”; “El Desvanecer del Futuro”.
Peel Dream Magazine is the nom de musique of NYC-based musician Joe Stevens, whose debut album, Modern Meta Psychic, will be released by the venerable Slumberland Records. “Shenandoah” is one of three trippy, psych-tinted dream pop confections – the driving “Qi Velocity” and spectral “Levitating Between 2 Chords” being the others – released to promote the album, and it’s our (current) fave. “Shenandoah” is the musical equivalent of a lazy drift down the titular river on a blazing summer’s day, staring at the sun until vision blurs and thoughts change shape with the clouds – Stevens’ cloaked vocals invoking the humid haze in the air; the persistent background drone the sound of cicadas thrumming along the banks. There’s much to be felt in this languid beauty of a track. Bring on the album.
Modern Meta Psychic is due October 5, on Slumberland – pre-order a copy here. Follow along with Peel Dream Magazine on fbook and twitter.
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (mercifully shorthanded Pigsx7) is a Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK-based quintet. Stoner, psych, metal, doom – however you want to classify, the band’s chalice is full to the brim from the river Sabbath, and the resulting racket is glorious. Where previous efforts displayed a penchant for the long-form jam (2017’s Feed the Rats featured two tracks north of 15 minutes), the first offering from the recently released King of Cowards comes in at a tidy 3:45, and it’s all the better for it. It’s a masterclass in heavy – the drums fairly swing a la “Fairies Wear Boots”, the wailing vocals reminiscent as much of Ozzy or Lemmy as Jaz, feeling like an invocation (which would make sense, as the titular pastry is part of a eucharist associated with Alistair Crowley and possibly comprised of honey, red wine lees, oils and, um, bodily fluids of some sort – serve warm?).
King of Cowards is available now, courtesy of Rocket Recordings. Follow Pigsx7 on fbook, where you can also find upcoming tour dates.
Goatman, “Jaam Ak Salaam” (Rocket Recordings)
The hooded Goatman is a member of the Swedish musical collective known as GOAT. “Jaam Ak Salam” was the first track released to promote his forthcoming long-player, Rhythms (since followed by the hippy gospel workout, “Carry the Load”). The track is an exhilarating, inspired fusion of African jazz, psych and middle eastern moods and textures. Lifting off on a furious wave of conga drums and sharply picked guitars, it quickly feels as though the players can barely contain themselves in the midst of the uplift (though, since Goatman himself plays most of the instruments, perhaps it is he whose control is suspect – and who can blame him?). Much is going on in the mix – declaratory horns, questioning keys and responsive palm wine (maybe?) guitar – all marshaled by guest vocalist Seydi Mandoza. Like the track itself, Mandoza’s heady voice flits from style to style, sounding a bit like a mix of Youssou Ndor and Charlie Chaplin (the toaster, not the actor) at points, before barreling through the last third of the tune with all of the fiery righteousness of a Richie Havens. It will leave you spent, and then have you hit ‘repeat’.
Rhythms is due October 12, also on Rocket – you may, and should, pre-order a copy here.
The past several weeks have seen the release of many great new tracks, from artists both known and loved, and new. Here are a few to get started on, with more to follow.
Mr. Twin Sister, “Jaipur” (Self-Released)
Up first, New York’s Mr. Twin Sister, who return with, “Jaipur”, their first new music since 2016 and our favorite – if we must choose – of three (!) new tracks to emerge over this past summer (“Power of Two” and “Echo Arms” the others). “Jaipur” is a beguiling reentry, retaining the suave r&b/‘baby-making music’ sound of 2014’s self-titled effort, all swelling strings and lush vocals – but the storm here feels anything but quiet. All that smooth is jarred by a sped up Bollywood tempo and horn blasts, reflecting a more jittery, self-conscious take on love – anxiously looking for it, while simultaneously fearing that, once found, you’ll just fuck it up and run away, disappointing both the other and yourself.
It’s unclear whether any of these new tracks will be included as part of a forthcoming long-player, but take your chance to hear them live on the band’s upcoming tour, beginning October 18 in Allston, MA.
Rat Columns, “Sometimes We’re Friends” (Slumberland)
Another welcome return, this one courtesy of Rat Columns, the recording project revolving around David West, who we’ve previously gushed over thanks to their sublime 2017 album, Candle Power.
“Sometimes We’re Friends” is released as part of a year-long tribute in honor of Slumberland Records’ 30th anniversary. Riding in on a lovely jangle, the track captures the same effortless charm as found on the album, with the kind of road-weary romanticism of bands like The Go-Betweens, Prefab Sprout and the Blue Nile married to an early Cure style guitar chug, uncoiling into an extended and repeated chorus. It’s fantastic, and hopefully means there’s a new full-length coming soon.
Papercuts, “Laughing Man” (Slumberland)
San Francisco’s Jason Quever returns with Papercuts, bringing the kind of vertiginous psych/dream pop that made us believers on 2009’s You Can Have What You Want. “Laughing Man” was the first of the new tracks we heard (followed closely by “Sing to Me Candy”), and it grabbed us immediately with it’s “Be My Baby”ish beat and woozy harmonies. Sweetly melancholy vocals describing someone “staring into space”, gripped by a memory they “can’t face”, before requesting we be upstanding not for the mayor of simpleton, but the laughing man.
The track will appear on Papercuts’ forthcoming new album, Parallel Universe Blues, due October 19 on Slumberland.
Molly Nilsson, “Slice of Lemon” (Dark Skies Association; Night School)
Another returning fave – this time, Molly Nilsson shares “Slice of Lemon” from her forthcoming full-length, 2020 (that’s the lyric video, above). It’s another world-beating slice (sorry) of new wave-flecked sophistipop. Riding a woozy synth and laconic beat, Nilsson’s lyrical focus feels placed on the beginning and end of a relationship, viewed through the eyes and ice of the narrator and the other – there’s a pang of wistfulness, but without regret. The track feels simultaneously new and like the song that could have soundtracked an alternate version of the denouement to “Sixteen Candles”, in which Sam eats the birthday cake alone, bummed it didn’t work out with Jake, but ultimately ok with it.
2020 is released November 2 on the ever-amazing Night School Records and Nilsson’s own Dark Skies Association imprint. Follow along on fbook, where you can find Nilsson’s upcoming tour dates in the EU and North America.
Lithics, “Photograph, You of” (Thrilling Living)
Back in May, Portland, OR’s Lithics put out one of our favorite records of the year in the form of Excuse Generator. Last month, the band released a one-off single on the Oakland-based Thrilling Living label, and it’s every bit as vitally abrasive. The a-side is a fantastic continuation of Excuse Generator’s tetchy and tuneful post-punk, sneeringly cool vocals playing off the rambling rhythm and jagged one-two guitar lines. B-side, “Lost Signal” brings a kind of Devo meets Television vibe sure to invoke full body shakealongs on the dance floor. One of the best band’s going right now, no doubt.
Cover art for Germ House/Far Corners split cassette.
Jeckyl/Hyde, Bowie/Ziggy, Urkel/Urquelle – history is littered with famed alter egos. To this storied list, add Rhode Island-based bands Germ House and Far Corners, musical alter egos conjoined via frontman/guitarist Justin Hubbard.
The bands’ split cassette, released in June on the New York-based Fuzzy Warbles label, is an excellent showcase for Hubbard’s (together, in Far Corners, with co-conspirators Joe Corluka and Dave Dougan) musical stylings. Side Germ House (a project described as both a solo project and “partially fledged live rock outfit”) is an artful indie pop collage recalling, at times, Beck and Devo with its shards of jangle, twitchy post-punk/new wave, garage, and 70s rock (personal fave, “Inside the Room”). Side Far Corners feels an overall heavier and headier endeavor, upping the fuzz and folding in psych, punk/hc and noise (personal fave, “Gold Choice”). Excellent.
Grab a copy of the split cassette here, and catch Germ House live at one or more upcoming dates, which you can find on fbook.
Thigh Master/Dag, Euro Tour Split EP (Bruit Direct Disques)
We here at tgh stumbled upon Thigh Master, a merryish band from Brisbane, AUS, last year when they released the excellent “BBC” 7” single on 12XU. More recently (February, to be precise – we’re nothing if not punctual), the band released a new, split EP with Dag (also from Brisbane; each band sharing players) in connection with their tour of Europe.
The EP is chock full of woozy jangle of the highest order. Side Thigh Master features personal fave “Exodus”, the track’s gritty, delightfully ramshackle veneer belying some serious chops and a shit-eating grin worthy melodic refrain. Side Dag (a band new to us) is a more languid affair, highlight “Up the Wall” recalling a bit of early REM with its warm melancholy. There’s movement in the tracks and the lyrics – escapes, time passing, perhaps through the open window of a tour van – that make this EP well worth repeated listenings on a long car trip. Or sitting on a couch. You do you.
Beta Boys are a four-piece punk rock brigade whose current shop is set up in Olympia, WA. Since releasing a cassette demo in 2014, the band has been busy, releasing several singles and EPs on a variety of labels, each showcasing a fantastic blur of early 80s hardcore and death rock.
Their latest 7” single, released in February on Total Punk, just may be their most explosive yet. “Brick Walls” rides in on a Suicidal wave, dashes you on the rocks and continues to churn. There’s more than a hint of the Poison Idea-levels of the musical nihilism you’ve come to expect from the band, the track winding itself ever tighter but without indulging in a full throttle release – it’s more endless circle pit than full-on slam riot. Fear not, though, as catharsis soon come in the form of b-side, “Littered Streets”, with its straight ahead hardcore chug, washed out guitar and peel the paint vocals, yips and yowls that remind me of Blaine from The Accused.
It’s more fully-focused than anything else I’ve heard from Beta Boys, but doesn’t sacrifice their rawness. Anyway, sometimes you just need a punk record whose cover appears to feature Snoopy giving the double bird, right? You know you do. Go pick up a copy via the Beta Boys’ bandcamp.
I’ve had notes going on this for so long (all 4:48 of it…I guess I’m easily distracted), the band in the meantime released a new track, “Laugh/Cry” – billed as the “shortest” on their forthcoming LP, Late Night Acts – and it’s another ripper. Look for that one in August, courtesy of Richmond-based Feel It! Records.
We’re back! (hello?) After a fun, voodoo-filled family holiday in N’awlins (what?), we’ve been busy sifting through our inbox for treasure. One such shiny bauble comes from new (to us) band Crooked Teeth, formed three years or so ago in Glasgow and now hq’d in London. Following on last year’s excellent “Mirrors”, the trio’s forthcoming new single is called “Mountain Song”.
“Mountain Song” is a euphoric mix of dancefloor friendly indie pop and spiky electro. The press release accompanying the track describes it as a mix of Underworld, Doves and Chemical Brothers – I might add sprinkles of Architecture and Morality-era OMD in the plonkier synth notes and flashes of britpop pomp in the stormy chorus, with vocal tones reminiscent of Lee Mavers. (Maybe if M. Mavers had done ‘Setting Sun’ instead of Noel G.?Perchance, to dream).The overall effect is of half-light, the track’s widescreen glimmer hooded, ever so slightly, by a gauzy shade of effects.True to it’s name, the track’s resounding chorus would sound truly majestic echoing over clifftops or reverberating through valleys.
“Mountain Song” will be released, together with fellow a-side, “The American Dream”, on Lost in the Manor records in the UK.Crooked Teeth have lined up a slot at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, UK, so catch them there, if you can. You can also virtually stalk the band on fbook and the twitt.