Tag Archives: slumberland records

Reviews: Salad Boys, C.A.R., Ravyn Lenae, Zed Penguin, Ten High, Smokescreens

Part the second of our ‘apology tour’, in which we continue to dig through the list of records that touched us last year and make sure that we spread the good word. 

Salad Boys, This is Glue (Trouble in Mind)


Christchurch, New Zealand’s Salad Boys returned last February with their latest album, This is Glue, and it’s a thrilling listen. Opener, “Blown Off” lifts off with a thrum like a motorik “Kids in America”, before dissolving into a blissful Buzzcocks charged guitar run, and the remaining tracks employ shades of indie disco, the purest power-pop, pearlescent strum-pop (“Exaltation”), orphic psych and early REM jangle (“Psych Slasher”). It’s lush, without being cloying; polished, but still retaining scuff and patina. Highlights include: “Psych Slasher”; “Right Time”; “Going Down Slow”.

Web: label bcamp site

C.A.R., Pinned(Ransom Note)


Also released last February, Pinned, the latest from C.A.R. (the recording project of London-based Franco-Canadian Chloé Raunet) features elements of icy, Yaz(oo)-like new wave sensuality, post-punk empty spaces, and dubby trip-hop – all blended into transportive art-pop. There’s a Nina Hagen art-bounce meets Grace Jones cool on tracks like “Heat”, “Growing Pains” gradually adding gorgeous layers of glacial synths and ethereal background vocals to a stark bass/drum combo. C.A.R. has since released several remixes (I particularly enjoyed Peaking Lights’ remix of ‘Daughters’), one of which included a new song, “All But…”, as a b-side. Highlights include: “Growing Pains”; “Heat”; “Cholera”.

Web: label bcamp fbook insta site

Ravyn Lenae, Crush EP (Atlantic/Three Twenty Three Music)


Ravyn Lenae hails from Chicago, and released a smoke bomb of an EP last February called Crush. Lifting off even higher than her dizzying 2016 debut, Moon Shoes, the EP provides an intoxicating cache of silky smooth, new-old school r&b tracks. Lenae’s effortless voice balances featherweight highs and funky gnarl, moving stealthily through hazy grooves that evoke everything from Funkadelic, the Isleys, Erykah Badu, and Prince. Steve Lacey’s head-swimming production provides highlights as well (see the introduction of the bass in “Computer Luv”, on which he also provides vocal accompaniment). More of this, soon, please and thank you. Highlights include: “Closer (Ode 2U)”; “Computer Luv”.

Web: site twitt insta youtube fbook 

Zed Penguin, A Ghost, A Beast (Song, by Toad)


Sometimes, an album comes along whose constituent parts may seem familiar, but taking a step back to view the entire picture reveals something new and difficult to describe. A Ghost, A Beast, the debut full-length from Zed Penguin – the musical project of Edinburgh-based Australian, Matthew Winter – is such an album. The shapeshifting arrangements meld psych, chamber-pop, the wry, arty-rock of Zevon, and tensile post-punk, Winter’s tremulous tone recalling a mix of Joe Jackson and Ian McCullough. Some moments transcend – to wit, the glorious ‘End of Time’, with it’s shimmery jangle. Highlights include: “End of Time”; “Wandering”; “Violent Night”.

Web: label bcamp fbook twitt

Ten High, Autobondage EP (Hexbeat) 


Our Arkansas pals in Ten High released the Autobondage EP this past October, and it slays. Five fuzzed-out, gonzo tracks held together by a steady, powerful bass/drum battery. The roiling opener, ‘Dr. Choice’ (featuring vocals by drummer Devan Theos) couldn’t possibly be a more apt, ‘in the red’ introduction to the splendor on show here. Trading in the same gloriously trashy garage/blues/punk sleaze as debut, Self-Entitled, these tracks manage to tighten things up a notch, without losing any of their edge. Highlights include: “Dr. Choice”; “You Want It”.

Web: fbook bcamp

Smokescreens, Used to Yesterday (Slumberland)


L.A.-based quartet Smokescreens released their latest, Used to Yesterday, last summer. Appropriate to that season, the album is jam-packed with absolutely gorgeous power-(psych)pop and Paisley Underground-style hooks. The band’s online bio mentions a mutual admiration for Dunedin sound between founders Chris Rosi and Corey Cunningham, and you can hear it loud and clear on tracks like ‘Buddy’. But there’s also a US spin on things, with ‘Steel Blue Skies’ adding a slacker-y take, and the band channeling the Velvets on ‘Fool Me’. Highlights include: “Steel Blue Skies”; “Jolly Jane”; “Used to Yesterday”.

Web: label bcamp fbook twitt

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.

Check Out New Tracks from Mr. Twin Sister, Papercuts, Lithics, Molly Nilsson and Rat Columns

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.

Grab a copy of the single here. Excuse Generator is out now, on Kill Rock Stars.