Playlist From September 26, 2014

THE QUAKER GOES DEAF 09/26/14 Listener Playlist
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Low Roar—I’ll Keep Coming—O (Tonequake)
2nd album from band out of Iceland—gorgeously subtle atmospheric pop, where gently swelling waves of electronic sound wash over the listener in a soothing splash of haunted emotion. Keyboards hover with sustained, engulfing drone-beauty chords, while angelic vocal harmonies swirl around floating clouds of dream-bliss. Low Roar create a lush playground with repetitive choral peaks threaded through an electro-organic mantra-ballad pop core in a calm & centered environment that’s just a little bit strange. Former member of Audrye Sessions. Sometimes reminds me of Low, with bits of Füxa, Fever Ray & Spiritualized tossed in. “O” is a whispery, fragile, sleepy-time dream-state of wonder. Nice.

Cold Specks—A Quiet Chill—Neuroplasticity (Broken Hertz/Mute)
On the 2nd album, much of Cold Specks music has a modern dark-cellar, slinky jazz club overtone that’s propelled by a wide array of horns, woodwinds, keyboards & synthesizers. There’s also an occasional flare of experimental pop ballad drama. There are no wasted notes; every sound has a purpose that’s succinctly fulfilled. And all of it is there for one reason—to support the amazing vocals of 26 year-old Canadian singer Al Spx, who evokes the spirit of Billie Holiday, Odetta & Danish singer Annisette Koppel from Savage Rose. Spx’s voice has a unique, hypnotically soulful draw that’s colored by a riveting, husky sensuality in a hazy voodoo aura. Enthralling.

Electric Youth—Runaway—Innerworld (Secretly Canadian)
Debut release from Canadian boy/girl duo of light, dreamy synth/pop songs with a youthful, energetic bounce pulsing through the celestial atmosphere.

Lia Ices—How We Are—Ices (Jagjaguwar)
3rd album from New York songstress—rhythmic, tribal synth/pop with a mysterious & playful ethno-psychedelic electro-flow led by light, dreamy female vocals. Sometimes recalls Tori Amos, Zola Jesus, JJ.

The Last Bison—Bad Country—VA (self released)
3rd album from this Virginia collective of NPR-style Americana hippy-commune hipster folk/pop with anthemic intentions. A bit like Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, Mumford & Sons.

Wussy—Gene, I Dream—Attica! (Shake It)
4th studio album from Cincinnati, Ohio band who play fully-fleshed, energetic & subtly explosive indie rock with big, building instrumental crescendos and lively, noisy melodies that embrace psychedelic distortion. They also play haunted, progressive psych/Americana ballad rock. And full-on trippy folk songs with a traditional feel & gorgeous vocal harmonies. A wide range of instruments (guitar, synth, mandolin, harmonium, mellotrons, piano, ebow, accordion, pedal steel, etc.) allows the mood to move fluidly from emotional roots music with classic elements to rowdy & aggressively song-driven indie rock and back to folk/psych/drone/vocal harmony ballads. Recalls bands as diverse as the Pixies, Coke Week, R.E.M., Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Scrawl, Yo La Tengo, The Melodic. “Attica!” is cool and full of surprises.

The Dead Lovers—Freak Show—Supernormal Superstar (Randm)
Debut album from band based in Berlin, Germany who sound like they should be from Texas. The Dead Lovers play authentic & twisted down-home roots rock with a flair for country rockabilly, twangy guitar leads, boy/girl bar ballad duets, and 50s/60s fuzz/garage rockers. Includes a former member of The Dostoyevskys. Recalls artists such as Two Wounded Birds, Georgiana Starlington, the Dex Romweber Duo, the Kills, the Black Keys, White Stripes, Spindrift. Foot stompin’ fun!

Blues Pills—Bliss—Blues Pills (Nuclear Blast)
Following the 2013 “Devil Man” EP, the debut album from this band with members out of Sweden, the United States & France shows a new level of passion and talent. Elin Larsson has a voice that carries the smooth power of a deep soul; she delivers her words with a naturally relaxed conviction that quickly grows on you—often recalling Lene Kjaer of Danish band Fuzz Manta or maybe Maggie Bell from Stone the Crows. But it’s the guitarist & rhythm section who have really upped their game here. The ghosts of Peter Green, John McVie & Mick Fleetwood haunt these tracks. Subtle, sustained blues notes, thumping & classy/clever bass lines, and driving percussion frequently recall the brilliant blues-rock days of early Fleetwood Mac. Blues Pills play classic 60s/70s style blues-rock with a potent and genuine authenticity that will have you rockin’ around the room in a smoky cloud of soulful air-guitar ecstasy. Recommended.

Hobart W Fink—Tiny Doors—Back and Forth Forever (self released)
Debut album from Los Angeles band—aggressive, high-energy indie guitar rock that keeps one hand on the melody and one foot on the distortion pedal. The vocals are shout-y without sacrificing harmony, while the guitars rip out raging-but-controlled staccato lead riffs that demand a bit of face-scrunching adoration. HWF deliver noisy blasts of hook-driven, sharp-as-a-tack punky rock ‘n’ roll mayhem that will slap you out of your seat. Shades of the Pixies, X, Wussy, Megafauna, Nirvana, Cloud Nothings.

Pup—Never Try—Pup (Side One Dummy)
Debut album from Canadian band—aggressive emo-punk/pop with jagged, innovative guitars and sing/shout-a-long vocals that coalesce into energetic, melody-driven pop/anthem roars. Tight, angry and explosively intense songs with the unabashed exuberance of youth. Similarities to Cloud Nothings, Autistic Youth, The Bronx, Bad Religion, Jawbreaker.

Wildest Dreams—Bosh—Wildest Dreams (Smalltown Supersound)
With two guitarists and a 4-handed keyboard player (organ, clavinet, Rhodes, moog), this curious Los Angeles band has a full, tight sound. The fact that the album cover is an exact reproduction of an obscure 1972 album by Kapt. Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds (aka Randy California of the band Spirit) is probably a hint at the overall 70s jam feel the album has. It’s one of those albums where songwriting & style clearly matter, but don’t get in the way of improvisation—think bands like Traffic, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, Caravan, Rare Earth, Camel, Spirit, the Doors, Quicksilver Messenger Service. The production feels a bit thin and cavernous, but is perfect for the tone of the music. There’s an old school psychedelic feel throughout, with lots of keyboards & some cool guitar licks + funk/jazz/blues/prog elements interspersed among the trippy wah-wah leads. Though each song takes on distinctly individual characteristics, this is clearly an album with an integrated flow of music that was constructed to be heard as a whole. Fortunately for the listener, in this time of iTunes singles monopoly, the band is so immersed in their music that they neither know nor care what decade they are in. Very cool.

Joel Gion—Radio Silence—Apple Bonkers (The Reverb Appreciation Society)
Brilliantly authentic sounding 60s influenced West Coast retro-psychedelic pop from the animated tambourine player for the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The lazy-warm production style and Gion’s knack for capturing the feel of hippy-tripping pop melodies creates a journey back to the days of flower-powered acid flashes. Reflects acts like Elephant Stone, Asteroid No. 4, New Electric Ride, the Beatles, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. A sweet mind expansion.

Ty Segall—Feel—Manipulator (Drag City)
Pitchfork’s favorite California son really earns his accolades here with some great psych-garage indie pop/rock steered by his unique take on retro-authenticity. The production has a fresh & vibrantly twisted 60s feel, with some blazingly wild guitar leads. The songs, which almost always build on the melody, are equally at home with ballad bop-pop and fuzz-distorted, buzz-flashy lead riffing. There is not one dismissible song on this album! It sounds like Segall is really letting go here (not that he’s ever been restrained), playing with passion & for fun, and having a great time doing it. This feeling translates to the listener, making it impossible not to grin and rock-out alongside him. Segall has played in the Epsilons & Fuzz. Includes a guest spot from Mikal Cronin. Sometimes recalls bands like the Who, White Fence, Foxygen, Baby Woodrose, Small Faces, the Music Machine, Doug Tuttle, Fuzz, Jay Reatard. “Manipulator” is a cool & impressive album and, without a doubt, my favorite Ty Segall release to date. So good!!!

Simian Ghost—Echoes in Your Heart—Youth (Red Eye Transit)
Reissue of their 2012 album with five new tracks (one of which is played here) from Swedish guitar/synth pop band with a strong feel for hook-filled melodies and some great vocal harmonizing. The band has a light, bouncy pop style that’s augmented by a natural organic flow and some eloquently ear-catching arrangements. Former member of the band Aerial.

Alvvays—Party Police—Alvvays (Polyvinyl)
Debut album from Toronto, Canada—Alvvays play bright & bouncy indie guitar/keyboard pop led by strong female vocals. Some of the songs carry a bit more muscle that most material in this genre, and the band isn’t afraid to darken up the edges a little with some droney/fuzz notes and a touch of melancholy. It helps, too, that they’re well-written, played and produced. Reminiscent of bands like Veronica Falls, Girls Names, Allo Darlin’, Talulah Gosh, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Overall, the band manages to project a cheery indie pop aura without sacrificing integrity or intensity. Good.

Cheerleader—On Your Side—On Your Side CDEP (Bright Antenna)
New EP from band out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—epic, dreamy psych pop with a big, rolling, classic guitar feel-good attitude.

Elephant Stone—Wayward Son—The Three Poisons (Hidden Pony)
Excellent 3rd album from some happy, tripped-out Canadians: Elephant Stone play melody-driven 60s-influenced retro-psychedelic pop. It may be a popular thing to do these days, but I haven’t heard any band do it better! Everything is there and in the right place: perfect pitch vocal harmonies, trippy guitar licks, sitars & singing bowls & Farfisa organs, a warm and clean, authentically nostalgic production and some great songs. Recalls the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Temples, Asteroid No. 4, Small Faces, the Lovetones, Tame Impala, New Electric Ride, Olivia Tremor Control. “The Three Poisons” is a gorgeous psych-pop album with a genuine & polished, heartfelt appeal. Perfect & transcendent period pop. Recommended.

The Phantom Band—The Wind That Cried the World—Strange Friend (Chemikal Underground)—3rd album from Scottish band who play a sort of carefree, but edgy, electronic motorik pop with smooth, hypnotic beats, odd experimental sounds & compelling vocals. Unfortunately, with a couple of exceptions, the songs on “Strange Friend” are much less memorable than their previous two albums. It’s still a lot of fun to listen to, and the band deserves credit for not playing it safe; but for a real treat, I’d recommend checking out their 2009 album “Checkmate Savage” instead. Recalls bands like The Notwist, Beta Band, Neu!, Super Furry Animals.

Cobalt Cranes—Sleepwalk—Days in the Sun (Lolipop)
2nd album from Los Angeles band who play indie rock with a trippy West Coast vibe propelled by churning, drug-hazed psychedelic twang guitars with a fuzz/grunge/distortion attitude set on full reverb—desert cowboy acid rock with both guts & melody. It’s the kind of buzz-powered lope-a-long rock that packs a friendly sting to snap your ass out of the hypnotic groove. Sometimes recalls Coke Weed, the Kills, Sleepy Sun, Georgiana Starlington, Dream Syndicate, Psychic Ills, the Heartless Bastards. Quality songcraft and a dark, percussive late night psychedelic spirit creates some serious music to blast with the windows down. Excellent.

Roger N. Out—2000x—Summer Sampler 2014 (Custom Made Music)
Dark, tense and urgent guitar rock from this band out of Slovenia, who remind me a bit of Girls Against Boys here. Includes members from Dicky B. Hardy, Matchless Gift, Hic et Nunc, Incurabili. Taken from a Custom Made Music label sampler with 15 other obscure bands, including Vendorbelly, Mooses, Black Earth, I A Man, Lovers Open Fire, Wag, more. “2000x” can also be found on the band’s self-title debut, released earlier this year.

Face On Mars—We Get Loud—Face On Mars (self released)
Debut album from Mississippi band—potent bluesy stoner rock with some big, blistering 70s inspired lead riffs; there is even some cowbell! This is a band that knows what they want and goes after it with a vengeance. Excellent heavy guitar rock for head-bangers who appreciate a song served up on a mega-platter of power rock. Shades off Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Palm Desert, Fireball Ministry, Heavy Eyes, Truckfighters, Mars Red Sky, Greenleaf.

Palm Desert—Among the Stones—Adayoff (BSFD)
Strong 3rd album from this band out of Poland—thick, driving bluesy Stoner guitar rock with some mind-blowing metal riffs and a heavy, head-banging 70s rock feel. Top-notch ass-kickin’ groove rock for those times when you just have to air-guitar dance around the room like a madman! Shades of Kyuss, Heavy Eyes, Unida, Rival Sons, Fu Manchu, Nebula.

Sigiriya—Sleeping with the Dogs—Darkness Died Today (Candlelight)
2nd album from this roaring rock band out of Wales—crunching, ripping heavy guitar metal with big, distorted, rumbling thunder chords that shake the room. New vocalist Matt Williams steers things with some rough, straining emotional wails that reach for your heart via the throat. The songs are played with a controlled tension & vehemence that feeds on groove-driven stoner riffs and a dark, noisy doom-churn of bluesy metal power. Includes former members of Acrimony & Iron Monkey. Recalls bands like Monster Magnet, Clutch, Nightstalker, Windhand, Black Sabbath. One for the long-haired head-nodders who live the life.

Virginia Wing—Meshes—Measures of Joy (Fire)
Debut release from South London band—dreamy waves of atmospheric electronics and disarmingly charming female vocals are paired with some percussive Krautrock/tribal rhythms plowing through a nest of psychedelic musique concrete synthesizers. Beautifully haunting and strange soundwave drones establish an oscillating electronic world where angels chant eerie harmonic prayers. Sometimes recalls Broadcast, Stereolab—with a touch more darkness in the mix.

Black Earth—Don’t Make Your Mother Cry—Summer Sampler 2014 (Custom Made Music)
New track from Sheffield, U.K. band with a dark, psychedelic gloom/Goth feel that recalls bands like Joy Division, Last Remaining Pinnacle. Taken from a Custom Made Music label sampler with 15 other obscure bands, including Vendorbelly, Mooses, Roger N. Out, I A Man, Lovers Open Fire, Wag, Cloud Caverns, more.

Stagnant Pools—Dots and Lines—Geist (Polyvinyl)
There is a lesson here: This is what living in Indiana with your brother will do to you. On their second album the Enas brothers once again submerge themselves in yearning, oscillating soundwaves of total hopelessness. It’s like Radiohead drenched in a Drowning Pool of downers, or Morrissey finally realizing that nobody really does care. Stagnant Pools dive headfirst into a thick, wallowing mudhole of gloomy anguish; where they find a heavily distorted, massive murky-grey power-rumble wall of guitars. It sounds like feedback, but it feels like obliteration. While the disaffected, death-pity baritone vocal slurs struggle with devastating emotional overload, rolling white-noise guitar waves blast every known sensory port. This is mutated beauty disguised in the pathos of noise. You’ll hear similarities to Joy Division, Last Remaining Pinnacle, Starflyer 59, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Mark Lanegan Band, The National, Puerto Rico Flowers. “Geist” is a loving black-hole aberration of existential despair that tugs hard with an invasive auditory pull on your heart & soul. Listening leaves you breathless, empty. For some of us, this is home. Stunning.

Swing Hero—Daylight—Fall Sampler 2014 (Custom Made Music)
New single from Los Angeles band with two previous bandcamp Eps—strong, distorted psych/noise shoegaze guitar rocker that they call “dreamo grunge rock”. Taken from a Custom Made Music label sampler with 14 other obscure bands, including The Bikes, Cement Season, We Deserve This, Fatal Nostalgia, Muertos, Broken, Off By Two, more.

The Asteroid No. 4—Rukma Vimana—The Asteroid No. 4 (Bad Vibrations)
8th album from San Francisco via Philadelphia band—The Asteroid No. 4 is one of the bands who have carried the torch and set the standard for great psychedelic pop/rock since the early 90s. Every time they release an album, it’s a cause for celebration. They do it all: from gorgeous, semi-acoustic Eastern-tinged trippy pop ballads to hard-driving droney outer space wah-wah rockers—and with four members who play guitar, there is no shortage of big chords, twang and reverb. Asteroid No. 4 have always emphasized melody & songwriting in their music and, although this album retains that direction, they do rock out a bit more this time. Their sound often feels big & epic, fully fleshed out—but it’s never overdone, always shines with an organic purity. Reminiscent of bands like Elephant Stone, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Green Pajamas, Tame Impala, Temples, Hawkwind, Spacemen 3. It’s hard to think of them as a psychedelic revivalist band, because their sound has such a genuinely fresh and original feel. All in all, this is as good as it gets in the psych pop/rock genre, a truly beautiful & distinctive album. Outstanding.

bonus tracks:

Earth—From the Zodiacal Light—Primitive and Deadly (Southern Lord)
Sebadoh—Soul and Fire—Bubble & Scrape (Sub Pop)
The The—The Twilight Hour—Soul Mining (Epic)
The Doors—Love Her Madly—L.A. Woman (Elektra)
Teletubbies—Teletubbies Say “Eh-oh!”—The Album (Kid Rhino)