Posts Tagged ‘Castle Face Records’

Que Aura

When  Kelley Stolz made the jump to Castle Face with his 2015 album, “In Triangle Time” he got weird. Or maybe he already was. Either way, something about the way time and space coincided meant that Stoltz made the loosest, oddest record of his long, mostly buttoned-down career as a pop craftsman. He added synths, played around with structure, and made choices he may not have in the past. For his next album on the label, 2017’s “Que Aura” he took another leap, this time a deeper dive into the sounds of his beloved ’80s. An Echo and the Bunnymen fan to the point where he recorded a version of Crocodiles,  Stoltz actually did join the Bunnymen  as their touring second guitarist.

This gig seems to have unleashed something within Kelley Stoltz, and along with his trademark ’60s-inspired shaggy pop, plus side trips into space rock, warped synth pop, psych, and even some off-kilter disco. Through it all, Stoltz’s way with a hook means that no matter what sounds he dresses the songs in, they are always one sharp hook away from slicing up the speakers. Slick, keyboard-heavy tracks (“Feather Falling”) and insistent synth-driven songs (“Same Pattern”) sound just as good as the jumpy rockers (“I’m Here for Now”) and oddball pop tunes (“Walking Against the Greenlight”), and even the total left turn, the slinky disco number (“Empty Kicks”) ends up sounding really good.

Stoltz has always been a first-rate arranger and producer, but with his last couple records he really seems to have hit his stride. Que Aura is the richest, most diverse, and interesting-sounding album he’s done yet, with the songs to match.

Oh Sees: <i>Orc</i> Review

The newly shorn Oh Sees waste no time in racing headlong into nightmarish battle with the mighty ORC, and wouldn’t ya know it, they’ve clawed even farther up the ghastly peak last year’s A Weird Exits stormed so satisfyingly. The band is in tour-greased, anvil on a balance beam, gut-pleasingly heavy form, nimbly braining with equal dashes of abandon and menace on this fresh batch of bruisers and brooders, hypnotically stirred into to the cauldron of chaos you’ve come to expect from, ahem, Oh Sees. Fresh blood Paul Quattrone joins Dan Rincon to form a phalanx of interlocking double drums, alternately propelling and fleet footing shifting ground to pinion Dwyer’s cliff-face guitars to the boogie. Tim Hellman keeps it swinging like a battle-axe to the eyebrows. The tunes veer towards the violence of their live shows, with a few tasty swerves into other lanes…heavy to lush, groovy to stately…throughout it remains sinister in its swaggering skulk, manic in its fuzz-fried fugues…they hit all the sweet spots the heads foggily remember, and there’s plenty to sweat over if you just hopped into the sauna. Ew. More evil….more complex…more narcotic…more screech….more roar….more whisper…there’s even more Brigid. Less “Thee”, but more of everything else, it’s out on Castle Face Records August 25th.

With a band like Oh Sees (née Thee Oh Sees, née OCS, née any other variations of the name), you keep waiting for the inevitable dud to be dropped, especially with the prolific output the band has gained a reputation for. Orc marks the band’s 19th release in this project’s 20 year existence, and with it, comes another hyperbolic batch of praises and huzzahs. The record is an absolutely evil stunner from front to back, top to bottom, head to toes and everywhere in between, and whips up the same kind of radiant, strange awe that the band’s overdriven catalog has so generously perpetrated album after wicked album.

Orc is immediately manic, overdriven, and intense on the roiling opener “The Static God,” forming a pounding fist of screeching guitars that give way to a wordless chorus that pogos in stop-start guitar clangs, and continues to shape-shift and waggle in bizarre back roads of experimentation. Liberated somewhat from the jammy tendencies they explored on the likes of Castlemania and Floating Coffin, and venturing further into the loopy explorations of last year’s A Weird Exits, the band has simply decided to take cues from any twisted source they so desire, smashing it all into an approximation of a rollicking garage-rock basement party.

Giving Oh Sees songs your undivided attention typically yields the best results, and with so many aural wormholes to traverse, its in your best interest to give in to the wild panorama of Dwyer’s rock ‘n’ roll vision quest.

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Here we have a new batch from Thee Oh Sees for your absorption – nine muscular tunes primed to pummel to. Last year’s Drop was more schizophrenic, ranging from heavy to whimsical and back – Mutilator Defeated At Last has more in common with the monolithic hugeness of Floating Coffin – with only two slight reprieves in heaviness this is a record made to be played loudly and that demands bodily sacrifice inherently. Despite the plutonium heavy feel, Thee Oh Sees continue to be omnivorous – synths and acoustic guitars expertly wind their way throughout like veins of gold through granite – any and all that stands in its way will be devoured and assimilated. This is the sound of a band doing what they do best, and it’s out on Castle Face Records May 18th.