Author: Gregory Gerulat

Wray

S/T

Communicating Vessels

Street: 07.15

Wray = The Jesus and Mary Chain + Neu! / Autolux

For some reason, this album’s tracks light a fire under my ass to get up—only to walk around in circles. By this, I mean most of the album heavily relies upon kraut-famous motorik rhythms and hooks masked in surf-psych arpeggios between drone blocks. Consequently, Wray’s record incites a proverbial speedball effect where your fight-or-flight response insists that you haul ass but navelgaze simultaneously. As seemingly contradictory as those elements may sound, the result is actually an interesting stylistic marriage. Not only do they dabble in hybrid kraut-psych, but they structure most of their songs like they’re an ’80s indie experimental band (think of Darklands). The vocalist tops off the tracks with similarly styled, obscure, yet reverbed vocals, but not to the point of being unintelligible or pretentious. In sum, this album is optimal road trip music for people who want to stay awake yet don’t want to socialize. ¬–Gregory Gerulat
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Sombres Forets
La Mort du Soleil
Sepulchral Productions
Street: 07.09
Sombres Forets = Summoning + Alcest
Great black metal is a balancing act between atmosphere and brutality. This one-man effort from Quebec proves that it has the ability to deliver on both. However, the choices made on La Mort du Soleil tend to weigh too heavily on the atmospheric side. While this album will occasionally tease the listener with a brief snippet of brutality, a full-on assault of heavy darkness is never quite attained, leaving this metal enthusiast with a case of the blue balls. Tracks such as “Des Epaves” and “La Disparition” afford us relatively small moments of powerful riffs and blood-chilling shrieks—however, they’re couched in longwinded segments dominated by piano and acoustic guitar. When Sombres Forets decides to get brutal, it’s absolutely rewarding. But it’s not enough to balance out the ambient side of this record, which is too much and sounds like a Pure Moods CD for goth kids. –Gregory Gerulat
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Exer Ovu

Fell On a Faultline, Rose In A Church

Self-Released

Street: 03.08

Exer Ovu = Violent Femmes + Reggie and the Full Effect

Sometimes it’s easier to say what genre elements a band doesn’t have, but after listening to Fell On A Faultline, Rose In A Church for the umpteenth time, I’m rigidly confident that Exer Ovu is definitely not your garden-variety act.  For starters, the band is a product of a single dude who double tracks his voice on top of a (at most) two-instrument arrangement—which is predominantly acoustic guitar—that’s comparable to a modest freak-folk band. Along with his rapid strumming, his lackadaisically throaty vocals sound like GirlsChristopher Owens (“Virtue”) mixed with the peaking shrills of Mindless Self Indulgence’s Jimmy Urine (“Tiger”).  It’s almost entirely subjective, as if the 15 tracks on Fell On A Faultline, Rose In A Church are aesthetically solid, but you can definitely tell Exer Ovu had a shitload of fun making them.             

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Dustbloom – Keeping the Black Dog at Bay

Dustbloom
Keeping the Black Dog at Bay
Self-Released
Street: 07.08
Dustbloom = The Dillinger Escape Plan + Meshuggah

Dustbloom are a hodgepodge of pieces and tokens from all over metal’s map of subgenres. Sure, they’re primarily punk-infused metalcore, but they occasionally toss in a few prog-metal elements on “Bystander,” a couple of blaring doom metal rhythms on “Vowelphabet” and “Empty Deck,” with the vocalist constantly trading off hardcore screaming with quiet, Deftones-styled compressed vocals on most of the tracks. The advantage that this album has is that it is incredibly diverse, especially considering today’s domain of local metal bands, most of which are boilerplate and repurpose the same structures over and over. However, the double-edged sword with having too many variables is coming off as a jack of all trades yet master of none. Even though this album is thoroughly good, I’m more interested to see where Dustbloom’s stylistic preferences will head once the band fully matures. –Gregory Gerulat

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Turn Me On Dead Man
We Are The Star People
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 07.09
Turn Me On Dead Man = The Flaming Lips (circa Soft Bulletin) + The Dandy Warhols
When it comes to the current psych revivalist scene, you have the natural musicians and the thespian musicians. By thespian, I mean those who put too little effort in their music and too much effort into sounding (and looking) “trippy.” This includes—unfortunately—Turn Me On Dead Man. The new age mysticism concepts on We Are The Star People comes off as too contrived, the riffs are too cut-and-dried (especially when paired with the band’s Marc Bolan and George Harrison influences) and the lyrics sound like drivel spewed from a smug yuppie backpacking in India. Beneath this, however, is a modicum of true talent. The vocals are good, the arrangement works in some areas, and there’s a lot of potential to be had. Guys, it’s okay if you really don’t like Allen Ginsberg—nobody cares. –Gregory Gerulat
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Genre Zero

Self-Titled

Self-Released

Street: 03.22

Genre Zero= John Vanderslice + Jeff Mangum

Although they’re not bringing a new and original category of music to the table, as their name would suggest, Genre Zero usher a style of power alt-rock that I wish was more common in today’s local scene. With their recently released EP, vocalist Joshua Isbell wails in a John Darnielle–esque fashion to an upbeat, percussive tempo and rolling violin textures. The lyrics (which read like Beat poetry when on paper) consist of bittersweet ballads of lost affection written in the first person. The only criticism I can muster for this EP is that the violin rhythms are a bit distracting from the other elements. Whether it be a mixing error or an intentional aesthetic signature, it’s only a minor nuance when contrasted with the weight of the EP as a whole. Regardless of whatever genre they’re branding themselves, their songs are catchy and effective. 

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Speed Trials
I’ve Stopped Waiting
Self-Released
Street: 05.10
Speed Trials = Pinback + Small Brown Bike + Boy George

This album’s first two tracks got my hopes up. The reverberating guitar tones and wide deliberate hooks on “Well Walls” harbors a Summer in Abbadon kind of aesthetic. Unfortunately the band didn’t have a problem with bulldozing that aesthetic on the rest of the album. The next track keeps up a melancholic, ‘90s alt vibe until you’re kneed in the face by unfitting guitar buzz and subpar produced emo-goth harmonic wailing. From there the rest of the record starts to get sandbagged from distracting production errors (specifically on the vocals—God, the vocals) and an over reliance on genre hopping. These dudes have great potential by all accounts, and tracks like “Well Walls” and “Disconnect” are heavily indicative of it, but if they can’t find their niche soon then I’ve Stopped Waiting will just become a literal instruction to listeners not to even bother with these guys. –Gregory Gerulat

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The Memories
Love is the Law
Burger Records
Street: 04.10
The Memories = Morphine + The Halo Benders
Erik Gage and Kyle Handley use The Memories as a vehicle to express sunny dispositions, drug-dazed sentiments and other elements that can’t be shrieked in the syntax of their preceding punk band, White Fang. When initially sampled, Love is the Law comes off as a warm yet simplistic lo-fi album that smacks of Velvet Underground-era pre-garage acts. Most of the track content serves as a leitmotif for your average scumbag slacker, with lyrics on such topics as penis measuring, cunnilingus and Star Trek. With the album weighing in at 17 tracks, it starts to become a bit laborious for the average listener to sift through the mediocrity for the few gems like “En Español” and “Wasted All the Time.” The album doesn’t completely sink due to its categorical variety, but with only a few hooks among too many tracks, it doesn’t rise far above other twee pop albums, either.
–Gregory Gerulat
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Victory 

Victory is Music

Reserva Records
Street: 04.23

Victory =  Spoon  + OK Go / 2

Robert Fleming is the multi-instrumentalist behind Victory. He touts a ’60s Brit rock sensibility and sports a rockabilly pomptwo promising signs for any music reviewer. Sadly, Victory is Music is indicative of neither. Don’t get me wrong, Fleming could pass as an authentic Britt Daniel sound-alike and can strum a hollow-body exceptionally, but it’s hard to notice at first since every single song on the album is scrubbed and drenched with kitschy production. If “Straight Line” dropped the gratuitous reverb and arena-style chorus filters, it’d sound like a decent bar rock song instead of a yuppie texture for a Kia car commercial. The folkish “Dirty Jeans” is the only track with respectable weight, but it’s only a 30 second coda. Give this album a listen if you’re into Hollywood rom-com anthems. Otherwise, it probably won’t be premature for Victory to leak some basement demos this early in his career. –Gregory Gerulat


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Koala Temple – Blue Milk

Koala Temple
Blue Milk
Self-Released
Street: 05.12
Koala Temple = Tame Impala + The Strange Boys

After listening to Blue Milk for the second or third time, I can safely say that Koala Temple gave me a tonic-like restoration of fondness for local psych rock. They had the wit to open with a song that pithily showcases their style’s shuffled deck of reciprocates—noise and melody, jangle and crunch, bong rips and sober grunts. The band waxes their frenetic revivalist element in “King Ruby” and “Raindrop,” right before they lock you into a K-hole with the Can-reminiscent “Und Wir Stoppen.” They then reverse this formula for the latter half of the record, ending everything with the tranquil fanfare “Boy of Stone.” Blue Milk’s quaint 10-track listing leaves me wanting more. If that means I have to start complimenting black light posters and do those semi-hugs dudes give that end with a snap, I’ll at least heavily consider it. –Gregory Gerulat

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