October 9, 2014

50 trips around the sun

Well hello again. It's looking like the Spacerock Continuum is going to be quarterly from now on. Not from a dearth of amazing musix, just from a lack of my personal time. And speaking of TIME, I turned FIFTY YEARS OLD this month!

Los Angelenos Wand come fully formed as a unit comprised of local psych/garage vets and their debut shows a maturity and sophistication that many established bands wish they could achieve. Stardeath and White Dwarfs are back with yet another mindfuck of an album that exhibits its relationship with The Flaming Lips (the singer is Wayne Coyne from the Lips' nephew) while still maintaining their own identity. Speaking of the Lips, their de facto musical leader (after Coyne's apparent abdication) Steven Drozd has a solo project, Electric Wurm, where he delves even deeper into the depths of dark psychedelia and prog, to great effect (but it's still not the Lips by a long shot).

The Lushes (great double entendre, no?) are a two piece from Brooklyn that are both minimal and HUGE at the same time. A little retro-modern Liars, a little vintage downtown NYC no wave, and some serious stoner rock heaviness. Eagles Gift were a highlight of this year's Austin Psych fest (we met them downtown the night before their set and they convinced us to come check them out, and we're glad we did). In their own words (pardon the all caps): "EAGLES GIFT IS A PSYCHEDELIC BAND BASED IN ANGERS, FRANCE. THEY UNITE THEIR SOULS IN A STRANGE KIND OF TRIBE -SOMEWHERE BETWEEN INDIANS AND COWBOYS- TO CREATE SOME MYSTIC DARK ENERGY. THE LIGHT WHICH THEY RADIATE, HAS A HEALING INFLUENCE, IT IS THE SPIRITUAL PEACE OF THE HIGHER ATTUNED SPIRIT."   Okay then. The Black Angels need no introduction here, but the Austinites have come up with something quite different with their current album. More light and accessible, more vintage garage-y... more pop, dare I say? Still rawkin' though.

Then things get WEIRD. Tonstartssbandht (tone-start-bandit) are a two-brother experimental duo that veers from kraut-stoned freak jams to dark forest Animal Collective-esque campfire songs, all lo-fi and deliberately abstruse. It makes sense to them, and if you let yourself fall into a suspension of disbelief you'll find yourself not only "getting it", but lost in it. They are my favorite discovery of the last year and it came about totally by accident. Quilt are a bit more traditional; youngsters born well after the Summer of Love but evoking a trip through Haight-Ashbury back in its heyday, all headspinning energy and melodic harmonizing (children of the Jefferson Airplane?). The Skygreen Leopards also harken to the sounds of 60s freak folk but filter it through a post-modern fracture and then reassembling it to end up sounding timeless. Wooden Wand (aka James Jackson Toth) has always had one foot in freak folk and the other in cosmic Americana (a bit of the original "psychedelic cowboy" Gram Parsons). This lengthy jam also has a kraut-rocky motorik rhythm that showcases Toth's genre-bending abilities.

Temples, speaking of arriving fully formed, are the UK's greatest contenders for a bright psych-pop sound that can reach audiences far and wide. Accessible and familiar-sounding enough to play stadiums yet textural and nuanced enough that a dark subterranean club would also suit their sound. Their debut is one of the most mature-sounding first albums I've heard since Tame Impala. The Brian Jonestown Massacre just keep on truckin', lately from figurehead Anton Newcombe's adopted home of Berlin. Sounds like standard BJM, just a bit more more diverse and better-produced than in the past. Les Big Byrd is a Swedish kraut-psych outfit "discovered" by BJM's Newcombe and their debut brings a propulsive dance element to their retro-modern space rock.

Kikagaku Moyo carry on the tradition of Japanese psychedelia forged by their brethren Acid Mother's Temple, but are less acid-fried and monstrous, favoring a jammy bonfire party under the psilocybin stars vibe, not far from the Amon Duul collective. Bo Ningen are also Japanese but ecstatically frenetic in their approach with pummeling rhythms and soaring guitars, like their peers in Boris, minus the metal, but with equal affinity for theatrics. King Tuff is one Kyle Thomas (of Witch, among others), plus a rhythm section, tapping Syd Barrett as his muse for a his take on modern garage a la Thee Oh Sees or Ty Segall. Amps for Christ is one Henry Barnes (of Man Is The Bastard), a reclusive and elusive freak folkist who makes his own instruments and conjures his own folklore from them. And speaking of nu-garage rocker Ty Segall (featured here plenty of times in the past), what can I say but... album of the year?

Mirror Travel, two gals and a guy from Austin Texas, love their motorik as much as the next neu-kraut rockers, and churn out a palpably kinetic variation on psychedelia. Trans Am are veterans of retro-futuristic kraut rock, combining driving motorik rhythms and proggy guitar workouts. Their aptly-named tenth album finds them focusing on analog synths and sequencers, honoring bands like Cluster instead of their previous influences like Neu! The Nothing and Cheatahs also honor past trends in mind-altering music; the former, from Philly, bring the semi-retired (but resurrected frequently, of late) term dream pop to mind, while the latter might fit more in the modern shoegaze (new gaze?) genre. Both favor hypnotic drifts that burst into ecstatic noise and back again, and they do it well (I admit it: I've always been a sucker for dynamics).

Dagha Bloom have got their own thing going. Their closest reference would be bands like Spacemen 3, The Heads, etc. But even with three bassists, drums and vox they could very well be the definition of space RAWK. And believe it or not they're from behind the Orange Curtain, in Fullerton CA (Orange County, south of Los Angeles, the oft-maligned suburban enclave that has actually produced more great music than LA proper, IMO). The Holy Mountain are Glaswegian "psychedelia smiths" who blend trad psych and stoner sludge for a seemless sound, or as their website puts it: "Fast as fuck, fleein' all the time, running through the forest, traveling through time." And finally, Watter is a bit of a supergroup (to my mind), in that it features Zak Riles, guitarist of Grails, and Britt Walford, former Slint drummer, and well... it sounds like it. Soundtracks for psychedelic dreams, wandering the stars, seeking nirvana.

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
Send/Receive (Mind) - Wand Ganglion Reef
The Chrome Children - Stardeath and White Dwarfs Wastoid
Transform! - Electric Wurm Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk
Dead Girls- The Lushes What Am I Doing
My Siberian - Eagles Gift - s/t
The Flop - The Black Angels - Clear Lake Forest 
Shot To La Parc - Tonstartssbandht - Now I Am Become
Tired And Buttered - Quilt Held In Splendor
Crying Green And Purple - The Skygreen Leopards - Family Crimes
Port Of Call - Wooden Wand - Farmer's Corner
Sand Dance - Temples Sun Structures
Duck And Cover - The Brian Jonestown Massacre Revelation
Tinnitus Aeternum - Les Big Byrd - They Worshipped Cats
Streets Of Calcutta - Kikagaku Moyo - Forest Of Lost Children
Slider - Bo Ningen - III
Lazer Beam - King Tuff - Was Dead
All Messed Up - Amps For Christ - Canyons, Cars And Crows
It's Over - Ty Segall Manipulator
I Want You To Know - Mirror Travel Mexico
Night Shift - Trans Am Volume X
Hymn To The Pillory - The Nothing Guilty Of Everything
Kenworth - Cheatahs - s/t
Wampum/Rotted Man - Dagha Bloom - No Curtains
Ancient Astronauts - The Holy Mountain - Ancient Astronauts
Sea Water - Watter - This World

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.