Posts Tagged ‘Drag City Records’

The king of rock, pop, teenage dreams, psych, the new wave and and future genres yet to be defined, Tim Presley is gearing up for sum shows in the East Coast, Chicago and then keeping Austin weird in November! Hot on the heels of “I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk”, this succinct jaunt will be the first opportunity to see/hear Tim Presley’s White Fence in the U.S. following the release of IHTFLH, which is a big fucking deal.
Playing cuts old and new and under various monikers, who knows what this bitches brew will ferment!
Now, dig the official video for I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk highlight, “Indisposed”:

Song from Tim Presley’s White Fence’s 2LP/CS/CD “I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk,” released on January 25th, 2019 from Drag City Records.

Ty Segall

If First Taste is your, well, first taste of Ty Segall, it might be easy to brush him off as self-indulgent noise rock. The album is overly-produced and as gaudy as a paisley shirt, sure, but it’s also immensely compelling, inventive and fascinatingly unhinged, all while still maintaining a tight control and an understanding of how to reign it all in to create an actual song from the mire of noise

“Ice Plant” is Segall at his most sparing. Gone are the fuzzy freak-fests and instrumental meltdowns; here are the airy vocal harmonies. Shannon Lay, the newest member of the rotating Freedom Band, duets with Segall on the track. Her voice is a lovely match for Segall’s, together imbuing the repeated refrain “Let your love rain down on me” with a disarming affect. Simple percussion and pianos bookend the song, which is otherwise entirely vocal.

On the toes of a 10-week residency at the Teragram Ballroom and the release of his brand new album, “First Taste”, Psych/Garage Rock virtuoso Ty Segall came by the KCRW Studio for his 5th MBE Session! 5 sessions in almost as many years and something like 15 albums, not including albums from other bands he plays with and/or is a part of, Ty Segall is like a cosmic beam of pure rock-n-roll energy.

With his Freedom Band mates – Emmett Kelly, Ben Boye, Charles Moothart, Mikal Cronin and Shannon Lay – plus a deep set up with doubles of everything, from two drum kits and bass guitars to kotos, omnichords and bazukis, Segall played all new work from First Taste for almost 40 mins.

Although the new work is undeniably Ty Segall, the instrumental set up pushes the boundaries of the fuzzy, more traditional Garage sound into a hazy world psychedelic and proto-prog rock vibe.  Like, for all the T.Rex and Stooges action and Hawkwind nods.

A number of KCRW friends and colleagues watched the performance from the Mezzanine while absolutely face-melted and slack-jawed. I know for a fact that I was making a really gross stank face for most of the set because the grooves were so disgusting and the bass, drums, and SAX were gut churning. It was a beastly trip and I LITERALLY CANNOT emphasize this enough…GO SEE THEM.

They opened the set with a full on ripper, “Taste,” and followed it up by leaning into a loping, skronky groover “Whatever” before getting to the first of our live highlights, “Ice Plant.”

Possibly one of the loveliest tracks in this dude’s oeuvre, “Ice Plant,” which has serious Marc Bolan meets Syd Barrett in Strawberry Fields vibes, wistfully floats on a mellotron-ish mist of keys and Ooos and Aahs before exploding into a super glammy freak-out. Like finding a lit firecracker in your banana split.

The set kept steam rolling through everyone’s faces and guts with “The Fall” and “I Worship The Dog,” during and after which the preternaturally boy-faced Segall kept panting and occasionally barking. He’s a grown ass man, but so help me, if I could’ve, I would’ve pinched his cheeks. They then went into “The Arms” which is probably the most straight-ahead Psych/Garage tune they played, however the high pitched Bazuki phrases really lit the track up with Turkish Psych vibes that made me wanna lay down on the carpet and go for a ride. It was really, really nice.

The band kept in that mode with “I Sing Them” before closing with the seriously heady “Self Esteem,” which I imagine is what you’d get if you crash landed a plane on a desert island with a bunch of marching band kids and they had nothing to eat but psychedelics and Can and Yes records. It was a riot and made me wish I could watch it all over again immediately.

Drag City Records. Released on: 23rd July 2019.

If there was any concern that David Berman had lost any of his stunning acuity with language in the 11 years since the last Silver Jews record, the record is set straight right out of the gate: “You see the life I live is sickening/ I spent a decade playing chicken with oblivion/ Day to day, I’m neck-and-neck with giving in/ I’m the same old wreck I’ve ever been.” The musical milieu may be different this time out—lush indie rock that feints frequently toward Americana—but Berman’s knack for weaving evocative narratives shot through with hope, doubt, and self-destruction are as strong as they’ve ever been. The album feels like a gift: when Berman blew up Silver Jews in 2008, he disappeared entirely; the long silence that followed made it seem like things might stay that way. Purple Mountains rewards the patience of his ardent followers with some of his strongest melodic songwriting to date, and also has enough clean hooks and clever barbs to reel in a few new ones.

Centerpiece “Margaritas at the Mall” likens the futility of human existence in the face of a silent God with day-drinking at a shopping center: “See the plod of the flawed individual, looking for a nod from God/ Trodding the sod of the visible, with no new word from God/ We’re just drinking margaritas at the mall/ That’s what this stuff adds up to after all.” The melody in the chorus sounds triumphant; the lyrics are anything but. The album is dusted with traces of pedal steel, barroom piano, and string-like keys, but—as it should be—the centerpiece is always Berman. “If no one’s fond of fucking me/ then maybe no one’s fucking fond of me/ Maybe I’m the only one for me,” he sings wryly in the album’s closing number. Berman may feel alone, but his legion of disciples cheer his return—and hang on every word.

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David Berman comes in from the cold after ten long years. His new musical expression is a meltdown unparalleled in modern memory. He warns us that his findings might be candid, but as long as his punishment comes in such bite-sized delights of all-American jukebox fare, we’ll hike the Purple Mountains with pleasure forever.

Released July 12th, 2019

2019 Drag City Inc.

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Ty Segall presents a new single “Radio,” from his forthcoming album, “First Taste”, due August 2nd! Just in time for the July 4th festivities (such as they are), “Radio” should satisfy all our barely-subsumed bloodlust and immutable desire to rule while also providing a majestically boomboxable anthem to revel along with at the cookout.

“Radio” sizzles with koto by Segall, saxophone and piano by Mikal Cronin, bass by Emmett Kelly, percussion and drums by Segall and Charles Moothart, and back up vocals by Shannon Lay.

“‘Radio’ is a science non-fiction song,” says Segall. “We live in a Cronenberg film. It has Videodrome saxoheadphones. I am a slave to the new radio and so are you.”

First Taste is an introspective set for Ty Segall after the extroversions of 2018’s Freedom’s Goblin, yet just as steeped in hard beats. These twelve songs form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound. Throughout, Segall reflects on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures, and hits on oneness, self-esteem and the parents, while reaching outward, feeling for a shared pulse in the world around him.

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Segall will play First Taste in full, alongside select albums from his expansive catalogue, in LA, New York, and select European cities with residencies starting this month and going through the end of the year.

A first taste of Ty? Hardly, but First Taste erects extreme new sonic skylines for Segall to soar over. His natural state of urgency is paired with a thirsty contemplative vibe as Ty examines both sides now, twisting some of his best songs and production wack into hard left turns both sweet and hot.
Releases August 2nd, 2019

There’s breakup records. There’s apocalypse records. Then there’s the Purple Mountains  record! This new musical expression from David Berman is his most to-the-bone yet, very frankly confessing to a near-total collapse from the word go, before delving into the sorry subtext with twin lasers of personal laceration and the saving grace of a professional songwriter’s natural remove. Our unofficial Gen X poet laureate has written a collection of songs that cries to be understood in the misbegotten country that made everything great about Purple Mountains to begin with.

Clearly, America’s fate is that of its treasured freedom icons: the cowboy, the outlaw, the card sharp and the riverboat gambler all face sheer resignation in the end. There are no perfect crimes. Berman‘s poet-thief of so many precious moments, now stripped and chastened, recalls his latest lowest moments in perfect detail, hovering ghostly above a tumescent production design with tragic majesty, evoking the defeated-king era of late Elvis, southern-fried and sassy STILL on his countrypolitan way down, and somehow still solid-gold (no, silver!) even at rock’s bottom.

The second single conjures [the prelude to] a cathartic night on the town, bathed in magic glow : this is how the light of David Berman’s life leaves him behind, enmeshed in desolation and regret. Purple Mountains approach existential perfection with a somehow joyful lament in “Darkness and Cold” as plaintive harp and backing vox cast long shadows over a dancey rhythm n roots shuffle.  Watch (above) and listen to the fervent new single from none other than your new favorite band, Purple Mountains.

Song from the self-titled Purple Mountains album, out on LP, Cassette, and CD on July 12, 2019 from Drag City Records

“Our salivating makes it all taste worse,” croons Ty Segall in “Taste”, the lead single from his forthcoming new album, “First Taste”, due August 2nd. He’s talking about us: how we’re the masters of our own destiny, tellers of our own prophecy, makers of our own sickened choices. It’s a warning, but this time, the finger is pointing back at him too. He’s one with us. First Taste is an introspective set for Segall after the extroversions of 2018’s Freedom’s Goblin. Lines of struggle wind through the songs as Segall reflects on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures. He skates through oneness, self-esteem, the parents – all the joys of a rain-filled childhood – while reaching outward in the here and now, feeling for a shared pulse.

Meanwhile, the production is far out! Segall‘s creative juices suggested some radical (in the older sense of the word) new instrumental territories: koto, recorder, bouzouki, harmoniser, mandolin, saxophones and brass, voices, and a sprinkling of keys. Segall occupies the drumset whenever it’s heard on the left speaker, while Charles Moothart plays the kit on the right side Segall‘s vocal prowess sits in fresh relief against his mutant orchestra, spooling tension through some of his most patient songs, his feral scream in complete control. Whatever the mood is, the pedal is pushed cleanly to the metal – and that means to the max of the lightest ballads ever, OR through the most raging rocks yet. Segall‘s song designs are all over the place, but unlike the freewheeling feast style of Freedom’s Goblin, these twelve numbers form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound that focuses thoughts.

Ty Segall and the Freedom Band will bring their electrifying live shows to LA, NYC, and Europe later this year. During these residencies, Segall will play First Taste in full, alongside select albums from his expansive catalogue. All tour dates, including newly-announced support and specifics on which album Segall will be playing each night, are below.

7/26/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA (plays First Taste + Melted)
8/2/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Melted)
8/9/19Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA (plays First Taste + Melted)
8/16/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
8/23/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
8/30/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Emotional Mugger)
9/6/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA    (plays First Taste + Emotional Mugger)
9/13/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
9/20/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
9/27/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/1/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY  plays (First Taste + Melted)
10/2/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Melted)
10/3/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
10/4/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Emotional Mugger)

10/5/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Manipulator)

EU:

10/9/19     La Cigale  Paris, France (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/10/19     La Cigale Paris, France (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/11/19     Oval Space  London, United Kingdom    (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/12/19     Oval Space  London, United Kingdom    (plays First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
10/13/19     Oval Space  London, United Kingdom    (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/15/19     Festaal Kreuzberg     Berlin, Germany    (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/17/19     Patronaat Haarlem, Netherlands (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/18/19     Patronaat Haarlem, Netherlands (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/19/19     Desertfest Antwerp     Antwerp, Belgium

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When the Los Angeles group Wand formed in 2013, they played a wickedly spooky brand of psychedelic garage rock tinged with heavy metal. Over the course of three albums recorded in a couple years, the band’s leader Cory Hanson wielded full control over their claustrophobic sound. The band’s lineup has changed along the way and Hanson loosened his grip on their sonic boundaries, allowing the new band members more say in their newly classic rock- and modern pop-influenced approach. 2017’s Plum was the first Wand album to reflect this change.

Cory Hanson started the band with drummer Evan Burrows, guitarist Daniel Martens, and bassist Lee Landey and immediately dove headfirst into a sludgy, psychedelic garage rock. They quickly put together an abundance of material that straddled the line between melodic and noise-heavy, issuing split singles with artists like Mikal Cronin and Meatbodies before being signed by Ty Segall to his Drag City Records spinoff label “God?” for the release of their 2014 debut LP “Ganglion Reef”. Wand embarked on a tour supporting Segall for the release of the album.

Ganglion Reef

After a handful of singles, Los Angeles power psych band Wand arrived with Ganglion Reef, their debut full-length and a nonstop parade of acid-dipped, pop-minded forays into both heaviness and wavy folk detours. Along with Ty Segall Wand approach songwriting with a fearless love of exploring guitar tones and unexpected dynamics, but where Segall builds up walls of guitars with layer after layer of fuzz to achieve his mind-bending sounds, Wand relies more on time-honored techniques of trippy ’60s production. Standout track “Broken Candle” sees vocalist Cory Hanson singing a thin, wispy melody over battling organs and highly effected acoustic guitars, the stomping acid folk rhythms building and building until the entire mix is coated in an over the top flanger effect for a few seconds before fading out. It’s by-the-books psychedelia taken right from the Are You Experienced? playbook.

Elsewhere, Wand tends toward sludgy proto-metal guitars and clunky rhythms on tracks like “Fire on the Mountain” and the stony funk-metal groove of “6661.” “Growing Up Boys” goes the opposite direction, offering a laid-back country-rock dirge in the style of solo John Lennon, but with all the spaced-out experimentation of Pink Floyd. The songs always waver between saturated extremes of heaviness and gentleness, with whispering vocal harmonies and dazzled acoustic guitars always seconds away from distorted organs and the band’s bevy of freakish effects. Ultimately, Wand’s gift for songwriting guides the endless psychedelic tug of war that is Ganglion Reef, offering listeners something turbulent and strange but deeply rooted in strong tunes.

Wand - Golem

The band’s next record was recorded over a 12-day span by Chris Woodhouse at The Dock in Sacramento, California, and saw the band expanding its sound with synthesizers and showing a deeper heavy metal influence. “Golem” was released in early 2015 by In the Red Records.

Wand’s debut album Ganglion Reef was an impressive neo-psych statement that weaved together various elements like folky guitar sounds, tricky arrangements, duel guitar wanderings, and, above all, hooky pop melodies into an entrancing whole. Their second record, 2015’s “Golem”, cuts out anything folky, paves over some of the fragile psych weirdness, and instead piles on the heavy, heavy noise, stomping into protoplasmic Black Sabbath territory at times. Tracks like the pummeling “Self Hypnosis in 3 Days” and the heavily phased “Cave In” sound like they were lifted directly from the set of a band that might have opened for Sabbath in 1970. “Planet Golem,” too, delves deeply into some dirge metal, with weird synths and riffs brutal enough to knock out a stegosaurus. There are still a few moments when Cory Hanson and Daniel Martens click off their fuzz pedals and the band heads back to the dreamier territory of its debut (“Reaper Invert” and the almost tender “Melted Rope”), and the album-ending “The Drift” switches gears entirely for a bit of near ambient, totally oceanic metal balladry, but really this album is about nightmarish power, not Technicolor dreams. In the hands of a less talented band, it could have ended up as a real mess .

Luckily, even though they have changed up their approach, the guys in Wand didn’t lose their ability to craft songs with huge hooks. Now they are thunderous and ugly hooks instead of weird psychedelic ones, but it works just as well. Their new sound might scare off some of the psych lovers who dug their debut, but for anyone looking for some weird heavy rock noise, Golem fits the bill.

Wand - 1000 Days

Not a band to waste any time, Wand returned before the end of the year with their third album, 1000 Days. Released by Drag City proper this time, the album saw Wand incorporating more electronics into their sound, while integrating their metal and psych elements even further. The guys in Wand are a prolific bunch. 1000 Days is their third album in a year, This time out, the L.A. band blends the tricky psych and heavy metal into something more organic, adding keyboards and electronics in the process. It’s their best-sounding record yet, casting aside any vestiges of lo-fi in favor of a huge sound that envelops the listener in a hazy cloud of fuzzed sounds and warped dynamics. They melt acoustic and electric guitars into a swirling mix that will get heads spinning, with booming bass and echoing drums holding down the bottom. Most of 1000 Days sounds like a perfect blend of the first two albums that capture both the thudding power of heavy metal and the baroque weirdness of psych pop.

Tracks like “Grave Robber” and “Dungeon Dropper” lean a bit toward the heavy side, while the dreamier songs like “Passage of the Dream” and “Broken Sun” creep over to the psych side. “Morning Rainbow” even ends the album with some seriously acid-y folk. It’s an impressive job of fulfilling the promise of the first two albums, amping up both the production and the songcraft to a new level. Despite how focused and tight most of the album is, though, Wand still indulge their experimental nature a couple times. The electro-tribal instrumental “Dovetail” is a wobbling trip into inner space that feels like it could last for 20 minutes and not get boring, “Stolen Footsteps” is bedroom synth pop with a majestic melody, soaring synths, and a very tinny drum machine.

This willingness to take chances and explore oddball avenues is one of the things that makes Wand so good. They may be one of many, many neo-psych bands out there in 2015 whipping up retro-flavored noise, but this record proves that they are one of the best and most imaginative.

The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo

They also toured frequently, playing many shows with Segall, who was impressed enough to subsequently play a number of shows with Hanson as an acoustic duo. He also added Hanson and Burrows to his backing band the Muggers for his 2016 touring dates. Thanks to this, Wand was uncharacteristically quiet on the recording front during 2016, with Cory Hanson spending time working on a solo album.

The acid folk-inspired, lushly orchestrated The Unborn Capitalist from Limbo was released by Drag City in late 2016.

Wand - Plum

Around that time, Wand expanded their lineup by adding guitarist Robbie Cody and keyboardist/vocalist Sofia Arreguin. This also led to a change in the way the band wrote songs. Where previously Hanson brought finished songs to the rest of the group, now they spent time in their rehearsal space working out songs together.

This new style of writing and the new members led to some sonic differences on their 2017 record “Plum”, on which the creepy, claustrophobic psychedelia and bludgeoning metal of the past were downplayed in favour of classic rock influences and more expansive-sounding indie rock. The same lineup of the band soon went back to the recording studio and cranked out another EP in the democratic vein of Plum.

Plum is Wand’s fourth LP since the band formed in late 2013 but their first new album in two years. After a whirlwind initial phase of writing, recording, and touring at a frenetic clip, their newest document marks a period of relative patience; a refocusing and a push toward a new democratization of both process and musical surface.

From the out- set, the new ensemble moved naturally toward a changed working method, as they learned how to listen to each other and trust in this new format. The songwriting process was consciously relocated to the practice space, where for several months, the band spent hours a day freely improvising, while recording as much of the activity as they could manage. Previously, Wand songs had generally been brought to the group setting substan- tially formed by singer and guitarist Cory Hanson; now seedling songs were harvested from a growing cloudbank of archived material, then fleshed out and negotiated collectively as the band shifted rhythmically between the permissive space of jamming and the obsessive space of critique.

The band’s new approach charts them away from intense guitar workouts that verged on heavy metal and stickily claustrophobic psych pop toward a more traditional indie rock sound that’s not a million miles away from what bands like Wilco are doing. Simple melodies, twisting twin-guitar lines, obtuse keyboards, and a widescreen expansiveness are the order of the day, and only occasionally do Wand Mk II manage to wrestle their new sound into submission and make something interesting of it. For example, “Charles de Gaulle” is brainy and full of hooks, with sweet vocals from new keyboardist Sofia Arreguin that offset Hanson’s harsher tone, and the skittering “White Cat” is nervous, punchy, and not too far from something John Dwyer might cook up for his Damaged Bug project. Mostly, though, there’s either something important missing (energy, wildness, drama) or something unnecessary added (fancy keyboards, a sense of restraint), and it’s impossible to listen to Plum without wondering why Hanson changed things so drastically when they were working so well.

Three very long songs that end the album — the slow-rolling ballad “The Trap” the elongated and very indulgent tie-dyed jam “Blue Cloud” and “Driving” a trad rock ballad tailor-made for montage scenes on a major network drama.

Wand - Perfume

After an album that saw Wand shifting from Cory Hanson’s project where he called all the shots to a fully fledged band, consequently losing some of the claustrophobic brilliance of earlier work, the 2018 EP Perfume is another democratic effort that suffers the same fate. While the seven songs included aren’t bad, they just lack the attention to detail and spooky outsider psych feel of Wand when it was only Hanson pulling the strings. Songs like the opening title track, which rages and roils like Thee Oh Sees on a bender, has plenty of energy, but lacks that certain something that could set it apart from the crowd. The proggy rave-up “Town Meeting” has lots of the weirdness of past songs, but is missing a hook. The EP-ending “I Will Keep You Up” has a rambling, sandblasted feel reminiscent of Mazzy Star at their loosest, but it just wanders aimlessly and never pays off sonically or emotionally. That’s kind of the way it goes through the whole record. The over-stuffed modern rockers “The Gift,” that encroaches on stadium indie or on “Pure Romance,” a song so utterly pleasant it sounds nothing at all like the Wand of the past. It’s clear that Hanson was looking for a change in the way Wand operated; it’s also clear that he gave away far too much control to his band, If it were another band’s name on the cover.

The seven-song Perfume was issued by Drag City Records in May of 2018. The shift away from their early garage rock fervor to more atmospheric songwriting fully solidified on 2019’s “Laughing Matter”. The lengthy album was sculpted from improvised jams and sketches, Wand explored more introspective indie rock territory.

Wand - Laughing Matter

Beginning in 2013 as a gnarly psych band with garage tendencies, Los Angeles’ Wand quickly made several albums of weird and suffocating music. A shift began in Wand’s sound around the release of 2017’s Plum, the first album from the group to reflect a new lineup and a new democratic approach to songwriting. Plum and the subsequent 2018 EP Perfume set the tone for the drastic shift the band has been undergoing, and Laughing Matter cements these changes. While earlier Wand albums weren’t absent of mellower moments, they came in the form of acid folk-modeled acoustic psychedelia and were nestled between blasts of disorienting metallic garage.

The Wand on Laughing Matter tends toward moodier, more textural sounds than they did just two years earlier on Plum. The 15 pieces that make up the album were sculpted from lengthy improvisations and distilled into moody, often paranoid songs. Opening with the nervous, scratchy rhythm of “Scarecrow,” as the album stretches on, often gelling into bright harmonies with bandmate Sofia Arreguin.

This haunted, darkened mood continues for much of the album, with songs like “Evening Star” and “Airplane” exploring the same beautifully tormented sound that Radiohead perfected in their first steps away from conventional rock. There are still echoes of Wand’s psych-rock past scattered throughout Laughing Matter. “Walkie Talkie” rides a clunky bounce that sounds part Faust, part Blue Cheer, but overrides the rock energy with an upbeat melody. “Thin Air” pulls out some of the heavy fuzz that early Wand songs were built on, but pulls back for a far more dynamic reading. The album explores different ideas and inspirations at length, making it hard to digest in one sitting. Those who stick around to the end will be surprised to hear the ambient atmospheres of the album’s second half give way to the Velvet Underground homage “Jennifer’s Gone” which closes the album.

“Laughing Matter” continues Wand’s headstrong push forward. It’s the final nail in the coffin for their garage roots, but they sound rejuvenated and excited in their unbridled exploration of new sounds.

Track from the Wand album “Laughing Matter” available from Drag City Records on April 19th, 2019.

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Wand, the continuously evolving Los Angeles psych-rock crew, have returned this spring with the new album “Laughing Matter”. Its Radiohead-esque first single “Scarecrow” demonstrated that the band’s continued growth away from the psychedelic riffage of their salad days.

Does Wand ever take a break? Releasing four full length albums and one extended play in just four short years while touring North America and Europe during any downtime, they’re tireless in laying the groundwork for a vital rock n roll future. Wand are proof you don’t have to be an industry toy to sell records – that, with devotion and time, the seeds you plant with intention and care will grow back into the world. Fresh off announcing their addition to select Stereolab dates this summer and finishing up their second jaunt through Europe in the last year, Wand are quick to say: “But wait, there’s more!” Another leg of European dates are now announced. And to celebrate, the band have released a brand new visual element, a flicker show to feed your endless craving.

The meticulously constructed “Thin Air” takes its time to really get going, its percussive ripples of gamelan-inspired guitar gradually building and erupting in fiery bursts. “Don’t you dare turn your back again,” Cory Hanson cries.

Track from “Laughing Matter,” available on 2xLP/CS/CD from Drag City Records Released April 19th, 2019.

Wand’s music lets the soul wander their fifth full-length “Laughing Matter” is another worthy side-by-side . Laughing Matter follows the Los Angeles rock outfit’s sky-high 2017 LP Plum and shapeshifting 2018 EP Perfume. While early releases from these Drag City Records mainstays were characterized by sludgy neo-garage and fuzzy stoner psych, their latest offerings conjure far too much slippery wonder to warrant concise categorization. Wand take risks and thrive on contradiction—their heady guitar embellishments keep you on your toes, and their surreal imagery simultaneously makes you feel insignificant and a pivotal part of the cosmos.

Laughing Matter is a intoxicating listen for a number of reasons. Their often opaque lyrics are a strangely touching and immersive experience, and lead vocalist Cory Hanson delivers them with a benevolence that will allow you to trust fall into his snug, fluttering coo. Wand’s affection for nature is evident, and there’s both a foreboding sense that something is slipping from grasp and a blissful acceptance of its fleeting or cyclical existence. “Rio Grande” captures a grand trek with breathtaking vistas (“Rivers twist like spider’s silk around the stolen land”) and their evocative descriptions are filtered through Hanson’s warm vocal eccentricities. “Lucky’s Sight” is an abstract, sensory collage with one of the record’s most exhilarating outros and most dramatically vivid lines (“a bag of pollinated daydreams smeared across an empty street”).

Amidst reverberating guitars and raining cymbals, “Scarecrow” expresses in the most tragically sublime terms, the plight of a straw-filled scarecrow standing guard in a field of grain as the scarecrow falls victim to the very crows it’s meant to spook. “Walkie Talkie” sees Wand at their sunniest peak as Hanson sings about the blurring of senses, “I’m kissed by the sight and I’m struck by the sound / My heart blinks like a light as I hitch into town.”

The outro is another highlight with booming, coiled drums and Hanson’s enchanting backing vocals that weave in and out of the foreground. “High Planes Drifter” recalls the compassionate acoustics of Hanson’s solo effort The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo, if you swapped heavenly strings for intergalactic synths, and the instrumental “Hare” gently bubbles below the surface with pirouetting keys and eerie violin screeches. “Wonder” may be the record’s finest offering with its juxtaposition of ballsy, overdriven guitars and sweet, blissful vocal melodies.

Wand: <i>Laughing Matter</i> Review

The first disc of this double album release is more immediately gratifying, in part because of the track lengths on the second. You might find songs like “Evening Star,” “Airplane” and “Lucky’s Sight” a bit lengthy or decadent after a few listens, but the more you return to these longer cuts, the more melodic Easter eggs you’ll uncover.

Side two opens with the sound of instruments aimlessly plucking as if they’ve just plugged in and tuned up following the album’s implied intermission, and the eventual meandering piano lines and propulsive guitars create a paradoxical tornado of immense sonic weight. Tracks like “xoxo” and “Airplane” exhibit how quickly and smoothly Wand can transition from chill soundscapes to blustery musical tangents. Their extended, contorted guitar jams range from prog to kraut to psych, their keyboards are both familiar yet elusive and their percussion swings from machine-like to completely off-the-cuff. Keyboardist Sofia Arreguin’s occasional lead and backing vocals are straightforward yet consolatory, and drummer Evan Burrows’ candid, Lou Reed-indebted vocals on “Jennifer’s Gone” enhance the frank, depressing quality of the track’s mourning lines.

Throughout Laughing Matter, Hanson and Burrows’ lyrics take everything known about defined forms and senses and turn them on their head—sounds can be swallowed, the future’s neck can be cut and life can eat into life—and the album’s improvisational jams, winding outros and emotionally crushing melodies result in perhaps Wand’s most realized release yet.

This month marks Cave’s triumphant return to Europe for a bonafide tour – including a single date in the Cave-thirsty UK, with a huge run through Spain, naturally! To celebrate, their first full-length Cave album, Psychic Psummer, is back in print after years out of it. Questing listeners can once again drop the needle on the launch-pad moment where Cave came into their own, evolving into a collective capable of full-length mastery. Their expertise in collating trippy dance jams of all colors started here, leading to further evolutions and triumphs on their subsequent releases NeverendlessThreace and last year’s incredibly fresh and fearsome jammer,  Allways.

Psychic Psummer was made not long after Cave had migrated to Chicago from Columbia MO, and it reflects the hectic loft-style of the their punk/DIY/house show days. Ten years on, these are radical early soundings of their trademark studio style, with relentless tempo-keeping, drone-fascination, keys and neat-cut arrangement/production, alongside guitars and bass often in overdrive plus dubby, aggro’d-out chanting in and out of the mix. Fusing their fascinations with soaring energy, Cave covered lots of ground while making an oddly timeless album. Hopefully this Psychic Psummer’s the endless one

First full length album released by American Space/Psychedelic Rock band Cave.

Tracklist : 1. Gamm 00:00 2. Made In Malaysia 06:23 3. Encino Men 10:00 4. High, I Am 18:04 5. Requiem For John Sex 22:40 6. Machines & Muscles 29:16