July 1, 2013

Time for a Space Rock Camp Out!

Let's get this shindig started! Bursting out of the gate with Life Coach's rawkist revisionism seems a good way to start, the Trans Am singer/guitarist Phil Manley's second solo effort is a heady affair, alternately mind-expanding and head-banging. Then let's keep the momentum going with a track from the long-awaited new Primal Scream album, a triumphant return-to-form most resembling their Madchester heyday of the Screamadelica era. More from them in installments to come, a sure-fire placement in the year's top ten. Also evoking the psychedelic funk of late 80s Manchester, England, are newcomers Jagwar Ma, a duo from Sydney, Australia, that NPR sums up thusly: "(their debut album) references Stone Roses one minute and space disco the next, and neither approach feels the least bit forced." Continuing the motorik undercurrents of these bands, Finnish electro-rockers K-X-P know about about said space disco, adding a wash of spiritualized shimmer and soar to their anthemic epics. And Unknown Mortal Orchestra, while falling more into an angular abstruse indie rock classification, have been known to explore the edges of psych-funk in their own inimitable way.

UMO's garage-y tendencies make for the next transition, to warped and merry juggernaut that is Thee Oh Sees (who obviously I cannot get enough of), to their peers, in style and locale (San Francisco), in the Ty Segall Band, to Night Beats (described on Wikipedia as "an American psychedelic, garage and soul group based out of Seattle, Washington), who were a sleeper I only caught a glimpse of at the recent Austin Psych Fest. Then we're off to Guadalajara, Mexico, as likely a place as any to find the eccentric male-female duo Lorelle Meets The Obsolete practicing their own brand of dark psych experimentalism.

Continuing with a couple more bands I sadly overlooked at the Austin Psych Fest: first, the majestic bombast of Wall Of Death (not to be confused with the Portuguese death metal band nor the mosh pit action they're named for). Since I'm being lazy and quoting other sources in this installment, let the Austin Chronicle tell you about them: "Drawing on a foundation of psychedelia and prog-rock, augmented by gothic and spaghetti western flourishes, the Parisian trio's special du jour was slow, swaying grooves that shifted into explosive, flanged-out climaxes." Okay then. And a blast of raw lysergic energy from The Cult Of Dom Keller, enigmatically named droney blooz-psychsters from Nottingham, England.

Stepping into the past, let's pull up some key tracks from overlooked artists like Shady, aka David Baker, the original lead singer of Mercury Rev, whose solo material demonstrates the weirder side that band shrugged off when guitarist Jonathan Donahue took the helm. Amnesia, one of many solo vehicles for Medicine songwriter-guitarist Brad Laner. And Deconstruction, whose one-album career nearly rivals the transcendant grandeur of singer-bassist Eric Avery's and guitarist Dave Navarro's former gig... need I name them...? psst!*ahem* Jane's Addiction! Speaking of the past, isn't "post rock" long dead?!?!? Well, as recently as this 2009 track (and apparently they have a new one coming out) San Francisco/Oakland's Glaciers were still flogging a dead horse... er, worshipfully rendering the template of stippled guitar shimmer and sudden dynamics (or as they call it "loud louds and quiet quiets") set in stone by the likes of Explosions In The Sky and God Is An Astronaut. Why not? If it ain't broke...

We come now to the conundrum of 2013, one of my favorite bands of all time, the prolific and shape-shifting Flaming Lips put out an album that was thoroughly... meh. Imagine my surprise, after the written previews describing The Terror as a devastating and relentlessly dark album of in-your-face anthems exploring the evils of humanism in all its facets, and finding it less terrifying and more... terrible. I will explore it some more at length to see if maybe I overlooked something, but so far I'm unimpressed, especially with the instrumentation and arrangement... where's the freakin' GUITAR?!?!? Sometimes break-up albums can be more whimper than bang, I guess. Surely it will be the first year with the release of a Lips album that it doesn't even make it into the Best Of playlist. But I've included one of the better tracks. You decide.

Portland, Oregon, stalwarts Pacific UV have been quietly and consistently (if sporadically) exploring their own version of the sonics employed by Spacemen 3/Spectrum/Spiritualized for some time now, with subtle morphing from one album to the next but never straying far from their original vision. No Joy also borrow from an existing template, that of dream pop/shoegaze, but claim their own unique take on it - after witnessing them live at the Austin Psych Fest I have to say these young ladies have a monster of a sound all their own. Female-led Philly trio Bleeding Rainbow (formerly Reading Rainbow, but by force ending up with a much better moniker) are a self-described "rock and roll w/psychedelic and punk influences, okay?" powerhouse that sounds much bigger than the sum of its parts. Suuns were also a key set to catch at the Austin Psych Fest, and what sounds like a darker and woozier version of Clinic on record proved to be an hypnotic motorik feast for the senses.

Rejoice! Young Brit-prog revivalists Wolf People have returned with their third installment and it's just as much a heady trip as their previous work, all baroque arrangements and biting guitar work. Arbouretum explores a similar realm of majesty and magic, as their track I posted in May attests; here's a lengthy track from a previous album, and you can count on a track from their 2013 album to appear in the year's Best Of. And Kurt Vile, he of the languid-yet-motorik-driven country-psych tendencies, offers up a long psilocybin sprawl from his most recent album to conclude this month's journey on an uplifting note.

For you traditionalists who don't mind streaming from this site, the following tracks should appear in the first player below:

The Spacerock Continuum Theme - bRambles
Fireball - Life Coach Alphawaves
Turn Each Other Inside Out - Primal Scream More Light
What Love - Jagwar Ma Howlin
18 Hours (Of Love) - K-X-P - s/t
No Need For A Leader - Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster - Thee Oh Sees - Floating Coffin
Death - Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse
Ain't Dumbo - Night Beats s/t
The Lonely - Lorelle Meets The Obsolete - Corruptible Faces
Tears Of Rainbow - Wall Of Death Main Obsession
Swamp Heron - The Cult Of Dom Keller - s/t
Narcotic Candy - Shady - World
Undergarden Song - Amnesia - Cherry Flavored Night Time
One - Deconstruction - s/t
Southern Passage - The Glaciers - And The Sea Won The Battle
Look... The Sun Is Rising - The Flaming Lips - The Terror
Baby Blue - Pacific UV Weekends
You Girls Smoke Cigarettes? - No Joy Ghost Blonde
Drift Away - Bleeding Rainbow - Yeah Right
Sunspot - Suuns - Images Du Futur
When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate - Wolf People - Fain
All That Will Be Has Begun, All That Has Come Isn't Gone - Arbouretum - Long Live The Well-Doer
Wakin' On A Pretty Day - Kurt Vile - Wakin' On A Pretty Day

But don't forget, you also have the option of spacerock to go:

1. Click on the Divshare logo instead of pushing the play button in the player above.

2. Click "download" when redirected to the Divshare site (put it on your desktop for easy access).

3. Once downloaded, drag it to yer iTunes and sync it with yer pod.

And I must reiterate, this is the way to take your spacerock mix to go! You can DOWNLOAD it! It's YOURS now! It's an mp3 mix that pops right into your iTunes - it couldn't be simpler.