Tag Archives: psych

Check Out “Some Beautiful Species Left”, the New Album from Melbourne’s EXEK

Cover photo by Robyn Daly

EXEK, Some Beautiful Species Left (SDZ; Anti-Fade; Digital Regress)

Melbourne, AUS five-piece EXEK released their latest long-player, Some Beautiful Species Left,  last month. A follow up to last year’s double, A Casual Assembly and Ahead of Two Thoughts, the album finds the band further fine-tuning their kitchen sink production approach (the promo for the album mentions use of kitchen appliances in the recording, so I couldn’t resist) – and the results are phenomenal.

“Hobbyist” opens the proceedings along a discordant whine that sounds produced by something hand-cranked, unfurling into a full-on motorik headbuzz. Amidst the din, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Albert Wolski teasingly invites the listener to ‘go on/have a second guess’, like a spaced out Mark E. Smith fronting Clinic. It’s a fittingly bewildering start to a record that’s equal turns arresting, unsettling, chaotic, caustically hilarious and inspiring. Strings, horns, guitars, bass, drums, and persistent echo chambah effects swirl into a musical trail mix including dub, abrasive post-punk (pre-Brix The Fall, Wire, Metal Box-era PiL), jazz, and Syd-led Floyd experimentalism.

Highlights are many: the jittery dub of “Lobbyist”; the intriguing guitar/vibraphone (I think?) interplay on “Plastic Sword Retractable”; “Iron Efficiency”’s rugged narco-psych; the lightheaded, infectious melody of “Unetiquetted”. Instruments traditional and non- at times sound as if they’re being played forwards and backward simultaneously, Wolski’s gnomic sing-chant recalling bits of the aforementioned Barrett and Smith, Robyn Hitchcock and Jah Wobble in tone. 

The magic of Some Beautiful Species Left lies in how it all hangs together – even for a listener who maybe has a more punk-inclined/birdlike musical attention span (cough). Veering from sprawling to terse, short blasts, the album’s eight tracks go in many directions. But for all the experimentalism on display, EXEK’s jammier tendencies enthrall rather than disappear too far into the navel. Perhaps a cheeky reference can be found in closer, “How the Curve Helps” (at 8:11, the longest track on the album), Wolski intoning ‘about an hour ago/I should have left’. We’re good to hang out longer.

Some Beautiful Species Left is out now, courtesy of the good folks at SDZ (Europe/Africa), Anti-Fade (AUS/Asia) and Digital Regress (North America).

Highlights include: “Iron Efficiency”; “Commercial Fishing”; “Lobbyist”; “Unetiquetted”.

Web: bcamp fbook label label label

Fade Into “Gun” and “On the Attack”, from Moon Panda

Moon Panda, “Gun”; “On the Attack” (self-released)

Moon Panda is a quartet based in London and Brighton, UK. Led by vocalist/bassist Maddy Myers and guitarist Gustav Moltke (George Godwin and Alfie Webber round out the set), the band features members from the US, Denmark and the UK. They’ve self-released a trio of singles over the past year plus, including the two latest – “Gun” and “On the Attack”.

The group describe themselves as making ‘dreamy space pop for dreamy space people”, and you can’t accuse them of false advertising. The gauzy feel of “Gun” pushes the band towards a sound reminiscent of trip hop bands like Morcheeba or Zero 7, as well as Parachute-era Coldplay. Myers’ fragile, whispery vocals complement the mood, a pleasingly dark undertone provided by lyrical musings on the non-greeting card aspects of love (‘even the sweetest thoughts/get twisted’). The slightly more in focus “On the Attack” comes off a bit like a velvet-gloved PJ Harvey, a psych nibble on quietly lush chords invoking Bête Noire-era Bryan Ferry.

Both tracks illustrate Moon Panda’s aptitude for building engrossing tunes on serpentine grooves and echo-laden melodies. The band’s website mentions that these tracks, together with others, will be released as the Pastel Pools EP later in 2019. Looking forward to it.

Web: site fbook soundcloud youtube bcamp twitt

Check Out Tracks from Brandy, Too Free, JOHN, and Keel Her

Brandy, “Clown Pain” (Total Punk)


NYC trio Brandy features members of Pampers and Running (the latter one of our fave bands of the last few years in the ‘whacked-out’ punk space). Their recent “Clown Pain” 7” is an excellent mash up of the members’ other band’s respective sounds – the a-side, title track welding a wizened psych(out) on to sky-high, fist pumping riffs, while b-side “Rent Quest” underpins a buzzing drone riff with a ‘shake appeal’ rhythm. It’s kind of like a basement jam featuring The Stooges and AC/DC (Bon-era, duh) and it’ll make you want to do that Angus Young accordion dance thing. Great stuff.

The single is available now, courtesy of Total Punk. Brandy do have a Bandcamp page for your perusing delight, where you can also fine their fine debut long-player, on Monofonous Press. While you’re doing that, work your senses overtime by checking out this video of Brandy playing live video at Union Pool, Bkln.

Web: bcamp label

Too Free, “ATM” (Sister Polygon)


Too Free is a new band comprised of Awad Bilal, Carson Cox and Don Godwin. 

The lead single from their forthcoming debut, “ATM”, is an intoxicating, pose-worthy slice of early house and electric disco – the toms even reminiscent of the famed go-go of their DC hometown. The multi-step rhythm/elastic bass/synth combo is mesmeric, but it’s Bilal’s vocals that truly put on a show here. One part early house diva, another Anohni, Bilal glides through notes on diamond-encrusted wings, the inherent vamp and strut infused with raw emotion. “Engulf me”, indeed.

“ATM” is available now as a stand-alone download on Too Free’s bandcamp page (link below). The group’s debut long-player is due to be released later this year, on Sister Polygon.

Web: bcamp insta label

JOHN, “Future Thinker” (Pets Care Records)


John Healy and John Henry Newton are the two John’s behind a London (Crystal Palace, to be exact – go Eagles!)-based group named, erm, JOHN (aka “JOHN (TIMESTWO)”, in certain spaces). In a bit of online serendipity, we discovered the group via fbook shoutout from one of our current faves, We Wild Blood. 

Self-described as ‘four arms, four legs, two heads, wood, metal and plastic’, “Future Thinker” pushes a once familiar guitar/drum combo deeply into the red. Growling vocals and buzzy guitar roil and churn over a steady, almost glam rhythm. It’s a continuous sonic slap in the face over the duration of its 3:02 run time, with the addition of cacophonous sax squalls from Chloë Herrington towards the end a welcome one. Reminds a bit of Metz, Snakehole, or Sex Swing. Do as they say and “burn the proverbial bridge”.

“Future Thinker” is set to be the lead track off JOHN’s forthcoming debut long-player, Out Here on the Fringes, due in October courtesy of Pets Care Records. It is available for pre-order here.

Web: fbook bcamp scloud twitt label

Keel Her, “Complain Train” (O Genesis)


We here at tgh love a good pun, especially one that’s ultimately self-effacing/deprecating. In that spirit, we present Keel Her, the musical alter-ego of Rose Keeler-Schäffeler. Get it? We’ll give you a sec…ok, then. 

“Complain Train”, taken from forthcoming long-player, With Kindness, is a lovingly crafted dose of psych-tinged indie pop, in the vein of Broadcast, Jane Weaver, and Rose Dougal. A woozy, almost playground-like synth melody provides the backdrop for Keeler’s reflective lyrics, before ultimately falling off to a rougher-edged solo/outro.  It sits nicely with other previews from the record, the dead-eyed girl group charmer “Empathy”, and slow-burning “No Control” – each one putting Keeler-Schaffeler’s incredible knack for vocal melody construction on pedastalic display.

With Kindness is due today (June 7), courtesy O Genesis, a label run by Tim Burgess, Nik Colk Void and Jim Spencer (fan boy alert!). Do yourself the favor of perusing her Bandcamp page (link below), whereat all manner of demos, EPs, covers, &etc., are there to be enjoyed (her cover of Robert Wyatt’s “Heap of Sheeps” is a particular fave).

Web: bcamp scloud twitt site fbook label

Check Out Music from Homeless Cadaver, Ben Woods, DMBQ and Khotin

Homeless Cadaver, ‘Fat Skeleton’ (Iron Lung) 


7” single from Homeless Cadaver – a band I can find basically less than bupkuss about online. Whoever they may be, they’ve released a great single in the form of ‘Fat Skeleton’. The a-side/title track features quirky, choppy punk full of gross-out humor and flashes of discordant synth lines a la Devo and newer acolytes like Austmuteants. B-side, “Art. Eat It.”, is a sludgier affair, cartoonishly violent lyrics shuffling into a zombiefied chorus. Whizzing by in the space of about four and a half minutes, it leaves a mark, together with a pleasant numbness. Eat it.

Out now (the vinyl is part the second of a five part ‘Systemic Surgery’ series of singles), courtesy of the fine folks at Iron Lung.

Web: label

Ben Woods, “Romancy”

Ben Woods is a musician hailing from Christchurch, NZ – currently playing drums in tgh fave Salad Boys. He’s also a solo artist, and was kind enough to send over the video (directed by friend, Martin Sagadin) for his latest track, “Romancy”. Floating along a sinuous drift, the track calls to mind a bit of Radiohead or Mogwai in spaces. Woods’ hushed delivery of lines such as ‘holding on to you/i don’t know what’s true’ feel like drifting off on the couch after someone important’s just left, the cigarette burning down between fingers. It’s gorgeous, emotive psych, portending a fine full-length which, the press release tells us, is due later this year. Bonus points for leading me to scuzzy girl group crash of last summer’s “Lozenge”. 

Web: bcamp fbook 

DMBQ, “No Things” (God?/Drag City)


Taken from last fall’s Keeenly, “No Things” is a load-bearing slab of psych-rock from Japan’s DMBQ (shorthand for ‘Dynamite Masters Blues Quartet’) that’s tight enough to walk on, loose enough to swing. The vocals, rather than being straight forward, are as jagged as the feedback-addled guitars; buried so deep in the mix they sound like as if they originated from inside the kick drum. The end actually kinda sounds like a sonic boom – perfect. 

Endorsed/released by Ty Segall, courtesy of his God? imprint for Drag City.

Web: label bcamp twitt site 

Khotin, “Water Soaked in Forever” (Ghostly)


Khotin is the nom de musique of Vancouver, BC-based Dylan Khotin-Foote. His track, ‘Water Soaked In Forever” feels like it’s titular subject: a warm bath, the proverbial babbling brook heard through the pines, ending with what sounds like a recording of falling rain. The track is pastoral with a slow, intentionally deliberate pace, but while certainly soothing, the vaguely discordant melody on top (played on the highest piano keys? the parts of the strings over the guitar head?) keep things more invigorating than narcoleptic. There’s shades of new age, the tropical dance of groups like 808 State, ambient – all to great effect.

Taken from full-length, Beautiful You, self-released in 2018 and now being given a wider release courtesy of Ghostly International.

Web: label soundcloud bcamp twitt insta

Sydney’s Low Life Return with a “Downer Edn”

From the band’s fbook page

Low Life, Downer Edn (Goner; Cool Death; Alter)


Sydney, Australia’s Low Life last week released Downer Edn (pronounced like “edition”), their first set of new material since 2014’s Dogging. Having expanded to a quintet with the addition of Dizzy Daldal and Yuta Matsumura to the ranks the result, as you might expect, is a fuller-sounding record that retains all of the roughness that made Dogging such a thrill. 

Opener “The Pitts” starts us along, wrapped in a gothic fog, music and vocals heavily cloaked in grit, before galloping off into a four squared mosh pit groove. Highlights are many, the group’s knack for a burying moments of melodic bliss amongst the gloom in tracks like ‘Lust Forevermore’, which feel like a rope thrown over the bow. The album’s mixing of death rock, psych, Magazine-style post-punk and flanged new wave is a heady concoction that’s as much fun to drink deep as it is to parse through. Personal fave, ‘Rave Slave’, sounds a bit like A Bell is a Cup or Ideal Copy Wire pushed into the red of the more dramatic Killing Joke on Brighter Than a Thousand Suns.

As with Dogging, these tracks can barely suppress a sneer at the general state of, well, most things – a kind of equal opportunity disregard that tends to underpin most worthwhile critical pieces, musical or otherwise. Mitch Tolman’s vocals generally idle in a fixed simmer, as though he can’t be arsed to indulge the anger underneath and, when so moved, can only summon a withering “fuck it” (‘Glamour’). According to the notes accompanying the record, it was heavily influenced by their hometown, and I think many can relate to a heavy ambivalence towards the place they grew up (either from inside or from a distance) – particularly one as iconic as Sydney. The changes (the good, bad, and eye-roll worthy) that take place over time can inspire both pride and dismissal in equal measures. Downer Edn feels as much an embrace – without sparing the rod – as a mirrored shield held up against the cities ills. 

Downer Edn is out now, courtesy of Cool Death (AUS), Goner (US), and Alter (EU/UK).

Web: fbook insta bcamp Alter Goner Cool Death 

Highlights include: “Lust Forevermore”; “Rave Slave”; “Lad Life”.

New Music from The Murder Capital, Hash Redactor, NOTS and Olivia Neutron-John

The Murder Capital, “Feeling Fades” (Human Season)

Dublin, Ireland, quintet The Murder Capital are a rising force, and not in a cheesily histrionic, Yngvie Malmsteen kind of way. Having stormed out of the gates with debut track, “More Is Less” (which, I believe, is only listentoable via live video (and worth it)), they come for the castle on follow-up, “Feeling Fades”. James McGovern’s intensely sung/shouted vocals are equal measures antagonizing and resigned (not a million miles from Birthday Party-era Cave) like a heated discussion with a stranger at the bar at closing time, climaxing in a wordless paean. The music tip toes the proverbial razor wire, building tension if not release, putting them of a piece with other modern post-punk purveyors like Protomartyr. The band have a host of upcoming tour dates, which can be found on their site.

Web: insta site fbook twitt 

Hash Redactor, “Good Sense” (Goner; Upset the Rhythm)


Can a band featuring members of two great bands be, unto itself, great? If that band be Hash Redactor then, gentle reader, early evidence suggests a resounding hell (to the) yes. The contributing bands in question are NOTS (bassist Meredith Lones and drummer Charlotte Watson) and Ex-Cult (singer/guitarist Alec McIntyre) – whose musical stylings have often rattled the bookshelves at tgh hq – joined by guitarist George Williford. Debut track “Good Sense” welds a brilliant, lurching bassline onto phased-out guitar swoons and deadpan vocals. A bit reminiscent of the Butthole Surfers in spaces, the track just continues to build across its 2:50 run time, before abruptly downing tools. Hash Redactor’s long-form debut, Drecksound, is due April 26 from Goner (US) and Upset the Rhythm (UK/EU) and is now available for pre-order here and/or here.

Web: Upset the Rhythm Goner fbook twitt

NOTS, “Half Painted House” (Goner; Upset the Rhythm)


Speaking of NOTS, the Memphis psych-punks have a new album – 3 – coming out May 10 (also) from Goner (US) and Upset the Rhythm (UK/EU); it will be the band’s first new music since 2017’s “Cruel Friend” 7” and its first as a trio, following the last year’s departure of keys player Alexandra Eastburn. Album teaser track, “Half Painted House”, is one of the best things they’ve done. Further tightening the loosely-spooled, straight out of the garage ravers of their earliest output, the track glides along a solid groove (those basslines again!), providing a north star through the hazy, fogged synth sounds and stage-left siren howls. Each new release from this band makes us antsy to hear the rest, and “Half Painted House” is no exception. Pre-order 3 here and/or here.

Web: Upset the Rhythm Goner fbook twitt 

On-J, “March” (Sister Polygon)

Olivia Neutron-John (bka, On-J) – self-proclaimed leader of the ‘post-bro movement’ we all need – is the project of Washington, D.C.’s Anna Nasty, who has also done time as a member of the Ian Svenonius-fronted Chain and the Gang (see what we did there?). “March” is her first On-J release since 2014’s “Injury Train and I’m Never Getting Off It” single, and serves as a teaser for a forthcoming, eponymous debut long-player. The simplest of rhythms and basic melody – the titular, casiotoned beat and one note key – is soon wrapped in a truly beguiling, serpentine bassline, Nasty’s words sounding as though processed through a megaphone as she vocalizes a relationship’s push/pull (“is this what you want?/..but it feels good at night/doesn’t make it right”). Olivia Neutron-John is due May 10, on Sister Polygon, and is available for pre-order now. On-J is also currently on tour (including some dates with Priests), with dates to be found on her site.

Web: Sister Polygon site bcamp fbook insta twitt

Reviews: Starchild and the New Romantic; Borzoi; Gen Pop, Rose Mercie; Datenight (US)

Our latest in a series of recaps of albums we loved from the last calendar year…

Starchild and the New Romantic, Language (Ghostly International)

Starchild and the New Romantic is the brainchild of New York-based Maryland transplant, Bryndon Cook. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who has also worked with fellow travelers like Devonté Hynes and Solange Knowles, Language is an exemplary slice of lush, 80s-inflected r&b. Drums don’t so much hit as disperse, synths probe longingly, guitars flicker and wane. While the purple one’s haze hangs thick over this set, you also hear the ambitious, heart-on-sleeve arrangements of bands like Force MD’s or the Blue Nile – Cook’s revelatory voice reminiscent of the underlauded Jesse Johnson or Melvin Riley in its plaintive tenor notes. As an added bonus, ‘Only If U Knew’ and ‘Hangin’ On’ might be the best ‘quiet storm’ summoning slow jams I’ve heard in an age. It’s a record that takes things back and pushes them forward simultaneously. Highlights include: “Hangin’ On”; “Language”; “Good Stuff”.

Web: label bcamp fbook soundcloud

Borzoi, A Prayer for War (12XU)


Austin-based trio Borzoi released their latest, A Prayer for War, last September. I’ve listened to it many times since and, though I find it absolutely stunning, I’ve no real idea what to make of it – and that, friends, is what makes it great. Sure, there’s elements of punk, acid-drenched post-punk, funk, a free kinda jazz, noise, dweebs, wasteoids, dickheads, righteous dudes, a fuckin’ partridge in a mother fuckin’ pear tree. All there. In the end, though, the record breaks down to a feeling – and that feeling is “tenuously hinged”. The skittery, jittery atmosphere is shot through, here, with bursts of melody (“Schlock”) and, in many other places, with a heavy boot to the face (“Lizard Men of the Third Reich”). Buckle up. Highlights include: “Schlock”; “Big Pink”; “The Tonsure Twist”.

Web: label fbook bcamp  

Rose Mercie, S-T (SDZ; Monofonus Press)


Rose Mercie is a quartet based in Montreuil, France. Their debut, self-titled album came out last March, and it’s intoxicating. Stripping elements of hypnotic psych, folk and dream pop to their bare essentials – there’s nothing adulterated in the arrangements or production here – then building them up again, with a layer of girl group in the rhythms and vocal interplay. Tracks like highlight, ‘Moyen-Age’, recall a less ornamental Broadcast; elsewhere, ‘The End of Love’ projects The Raincoats jamming in a hazy flat with the Velvet Underground. While largely bucolic in feel, there is a bit of welcome menace “In the Valley” – it’s an album to sit with, the eight tracks unspooling at a deliberate pace. Settle in and listen. Highlights include: “Moyen-Age”; “Floating”; “How Can I Talk”.

Web: label label bcamp fbook soundcloud

Datenight (US),  Comin’ Atcha’ 100mph (Drop Medium)


Nashville, TN trio Datenight (US) serve up garage-punk with a side of power pop hooks and classic, driving midwestern rock on last February’s Comin’ Atcha’ 100mph. It’s an apt title, with no more than half of the dozen tracks in the set clocking in on the high side of two minutes. Each cut, though, leaves a mark; the melodies linger long after the band has roared on to the next. Be it the straight up Sonics’ garage rumble of ‘While it Lasts’, the blissful lo-fi jangle of ‘Poor Exchange’ or the perfected combo of highlight, ‘Tennessee Rider’, the set drips with brio – it’ll have you singing along, even when you don’t know any of the words. Fab. Highlights include: “Tennessee Rider”; “Poor Exchange”; “In and Out”.

Web: label bcamp fbook  

Gen Pop, II (Feel It)


Olympia, WA-based Gen Pop released a six-track EP last May, entitled II. Lifting off from their devastatingly potent debut, On the Screen (released less than a year prior), II offers a virulent slice of old school hardcore for the modern world. Featuring MaryJane Dunphy and Ian Corrigan from the fantastic Vexx, the band manages to push a swirl of sounds into a tight timeframe. [Update: MaryJane Dunphy has left the band. Elle Svete both sings and plays guitar on “No Change”] features tepid vocals transposed over Flex Your Head-summoning musical righteousness, while tracks like ‘Waxing State’ and ‘Din’ inject a bit of post-punk jitter and Buzzcocks’ guitar melodiousness. Highlights include: “No Change”; “Waxing State”.

Web: label bcamp [check out On the Screen here and/or here]

Fa la la list!

We’re back with another list, featuring songs that have our tinnitus-riddled ears ringing like so many silver bells. Have a listen, won’t you?

Songs for a “Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness”, or Something – Enjoy!

New lists, featuring some of our favorite tracks carried along the blustery drafts of the changing seasons.

The first:

And, if you dare, a sequel:

Check Out Tracks from Peel Dream Magazine, Pigsx7 and Goatman

Peel Dream Magazine, “Shenandoah” (Slumberland Records)

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, “Cake of Light” (Rocket Recordings)

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.