31 March 2016

VIDEO: Last show at Hidden Valley (aka Cooler Ranch, The Clinic)

Last night, Hidden Valley had it's final show. Starve Guardian, Knights Templar, Altered Crosses and Söft Dov all played and they all slayed. A very fun show to film, and hopefully the videos I shot captured a great send-off of a terrific space that's been a part of the New Brunswick scene for years. 

08 March 2016

Cranj Randy's Shandy Box, Detloff

When drifting off into a day dream your thoughts become increasingly less concrete and more fluid. The valve is released on your stream of consciousness, and you find yourself drifting along it’s ephemeral bank. Detloff’s album Cranj Randy’s Shandy Box, is the auditory equivalent  of that state when you’re just barely awake enough to know you’re asleep. Ten tracks of sublime experimental ambiences gradually plod along leaving an imprint on the listener that is trepidatious, intoxicating, and vaguely nostalgic.

The synthesizer work on this album is wonderfully diverse and textured; and the use of guitar, bass, and trumpet serves as a grounding counterpoint to the otherwise otherworldly  soundscapes. There are also many tracks on here that really groove. Take for example the lumbering bass and lo-fi drums of the opening track “Now&Later”; the perfect psychedelic dance anthem for a sluggish sleep deprived delirium. 

Other highlights include the ghostly trumpet swells and synthesizer melancholia of “Shandy Box”, which conjures visions of lonesome puddle drenched alleyways on a dreary night. This sensation of isolation and anxiousness is pervasive throughout the album; Detloff  takes you to a dream world where danger is never seen, but feels as if it’s hiding beneath every stone. One of the few respites from this is my favorite track, “Hyper Cube”. With it’s shimmering, reassuring tone and whimsical melody, it sounds like part of a soundtrack for a retro video game.

Cranj Randy’s Shandy Box is a fantastic auditory adventure that leads you on a meandering hour long trail of dreamscapes. It is available on their bandcamp page as a free download and for purchase on cassette which has some lovely floral album art. I highly recommend you buy a copy, pop on some headphones, and open up the shandy box.  

19 February 2016

SPLAT s/t 7" (Sauce Pan Records)

Distinctly Cleveland, a little bit scuzzy, fun pop punk 7". The kind of record that would leave Eric Davidson foaming at the mouth. The band speeds through 4-5 songs per side, yelping about their (pretty rad) passions, killer TV (ufos, martians etc) and breakfast foods (extra milk!). They also call out 'splat' or 'splatter' to accent parts of songs, a lot like the Blanks 77 would yell 'Go Go GO!' Really fun record. Recommended.

07 February 2016

Kohoutek 'Curious Aroma' LP (M.I.E. Records) Review

Kohoutek 'Curious Aroma' LP (M.I.E. Records)
This being Kohoutek's third (I believe) full length LP, the band's musical telepathy has enhanced. Scott the drummer of the band told me that the LP captures two very distinct sides of the band. He would be the one to know, and it does, but my listening experience was a bit different. The more I focus on this LP, the more it seems like the entire A side 'space' is a build up to the 'rock' on the B side (with a brief intermission to flip the record). The space journey to the '(psych) rock' is very enjoyable, kind of like a big band version of Azusa Plane. The rock is very rewarding and is on par with Parson Sound (they lock in to a swirl very well) and Hawkwind. Pictured on the back is a very cool camper with a skull mask slouching in the window. This is recluse psych. While listening I picture myself living in that camper with very few possessions, maybe a guitar and some pulp fantasy paper backs with this music being the soundtrack to my very minimalist lifestyle. This is an excellent psych record that deserves complete listenings of both the A and B side in one sitting. Highly recommended.

29 January 2016

Peaks of Bliss, The John Merricks

After a much longer hiatus that I had previously realized I have returned to writing reviews, and intend to do so on a fairly regular basis. So why not pick up where I left off by discussing the most recent EP by The John Merricks, Peaks of Bliss. 

This follow up to their 2014 release, Crystal Tapes, contains much of the same delightful pysch/kraut rock, but with a more concise structured approach. Clocking in at just under 15 minutes and with four songs there is little room here for the extended spacey jams of their previous release; however what Peaks of Bliss lacks in length it more than makes up for in girth. Not single seconded on this album is wasted, from the first thudding drum machine beat of “Cacophonous Peaks of Bliss” to the final spooky keyboard note of “Nosferatu” this album is packed with sweet psychedelic nectar. 

This first track comes in strong with a propulsive unrelenting drum beat and lush echoing vocals; clanging guitars are abound and that warbly buzzing keyboard cuts its way through. Here they’ve managed to take everything I enjoyed about the longer jams on their first release and compress it into a convenient two minute package. The standout track on this album for me is “Moshi Moshi” a slow eerie waltz with gentle sweeps of guitar feedback punctuated by chirrups of keyboards fuzz. This seems like it would be the final slow dance song played at a David Lynch themed prom. Next is “Gunpowder” an upbeat song with a watery synth drone running through it. There are brief respites where a solitary guitar strums a few lonely notes, then the jaunty beat kicks back in and we’re off on another lively stroll. The closing track “Nosferatu” starts with a dark reverberating guitar, builds with bell like symbol hits, and blooms into haunting triumphant amalgamation of keyboards and guitar. 

Peaks of Bliss takes a nice step forward from their previous release while still maintaining a loose jam feeling, and lofi sound. You can, and should, pick up a copy of their 10” EP from their bandcamp page; it comes in 3 different colors and contains great sounding tunes.