“Is it real? Is it real?” asks Luciel Brown throughout this potent follow up to the thrilling debut “Fictional Decision” by Leeds-based trio Drahla – PopLib’s essential song of 2016.
The song is due for release in April on the Too Pure label’s singles club. Coruscating bass sets a platform for a typically cool and mysterious sing-speak stream-of-consciousness artful wordiness.
The song builds through dense layers of sonic energy as guitars buzz and menace before pulling back, introducing saxophone – some of the best wild skronking saxophone since The Stooges “1970” from their “Funhouse” album in fact – and then re-calibrating the volume for climactic ending.
It all adds up to a powerful statement and the fulfilling experience of a song merging elements of post-punk with art pop and noise rock and leaving some mystery and intrigue in its trail of beautifully dissonant noise.
The only band I can think of who may have been within striking distance of what Drahla are doing right now was Sonic Youth at the absolute apex of their dark abrasive melodic cool, around the time of their 1987 album “Sister”.
“Sometimes I’m all on my own” sings David Kilgour in “Stars”, the first song on The Clean’s 2001 album, the punningly titled “Getaway”, soon to be re-issued on vinyl for the first time by US label Merge Records on 2 December 2012.
After that sublime 1980s run of EPs and 7″ singles The Clean released their first – and best – album in 1990. “Vehicle” was from that era when vinyl was still king, and although subsequent albums “Modern Rock” (1994) and “Unknown Country” (1996) also had a limited release in LP format these were (and still are) hard to find in NZ. “Getaway” – originally released in 2001 – was exclusively a CD release.
It took The Clean another 8 years to follow up “Getaway” with the even-better “Mister Pop” which had some of their strongest songs since “Vehicle”. Whether or not “Mister Pop” will be their final chapter is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, there’s still “Getaway” to explore all over again.
“Getaway” comes with a bonus of live recordings from two rare NZ-only releases “Slush Fund” (Arclife, 2001) and “Syd’s Pink Wiring System” (Cleano, 2003).
Part of the enduring appeal of The Clean as a live band has been their singular ability to re-interpret their back catalogue in their live shows, bringing an improv jazz mindset and approach to exploring their psychedelic garage rock, making each song performance a unique event. The full track-listing of Merge Records’ “Getaway” re-issue can be viewed here.
These are the two original CD only tour merch live albums from 2000/2001 which are included with the “Getaway” re-issue as digital and CD bonus tracks. The bonus CDs are also included with the double vinyl version.
“Turn Into” is the title track of the Jay Som album originally called “Untitled” when it was released last December when PopLib previewed the first track.
A lot has happened in the short time since “Untitled” was released. When the album was recorded it was just Melina Duterte playing and recording at her home in San Francisco. Now Jay Som is a band. There’s a single out on the Fat Possum Label and the band recently toured supporting Mitski. That “Untitled” album has proved so popular it is getting an LP release in November, and a proper title – “Turn Into”.
As with everything I’ve heard from Jay Som, there’s an accomplished combination of some unusual elements in this song. It evokes a little bit of “Rumours” era Fleetwood Mac (the feel) and also “Ignite the Seven Cannons” era Felt (the guitar sound).
That uncanny ability to weave subtle nostalgic elements from different styles of music within honest-sounding contemporary melodic alternative pop is what makes “Turn Into” (the song and the album) so easy to enjoy.
After a month of NZ music it’s time to venture across the Tasman Sea to Australia where Terrible Truths are “Uptight”.
Terrible Truths are a favourite from the well-stocked cupboard of brilliant leftfield Australian music known as Bedroom Suck Records.
Their self-titled debut album is an absolute blinder of fidgety and melodic post-punk built entirely around the interplay between lead guitar, bass and drums, plus call-and-response vocals.
There’s something gloriously wild and ebullient about it all. These qualities are illustrated perfectly on “Uptight” which now has a video for added excellence.
Terrible Truths’ debut has just been repressed in a special 2nd pressing limited edition on gold vinyl with a limited edition bonus 7″ EP. Go on… you know you want to.
From sublime soundscapes to ridiculously perfect lo-fi fuzzy guitar-pop… let’s head now to Gainesville, Florida for “Only Matters When” by UV-TV.
This song is from a split 7″ single UV-TV share with LA band Shark Toys. It’s the two songs on the UV-TV side which catch the ear for melody and trebly fuzzed-up primitive pop splendour.
Despite their Florida roots this song (and the other one on their side of the single) contains agreeable traces of Scottish 80’s pop DNA in its sound.
There are echoes of “Psychocandy” era Jesus and Mary Chain feedback pop as well as The Shop Assistants’ primal drumbeats, fuzzy guitars and the soaring vocal melodies from UV-TV bassist, vocalist and video editor Rose Vastola.
On the other side of the single Shark Toys do breakneck speed lo-fi punk chaos thrillingly, like a kind of turbo-charged Swell Maps.
The split 7″ single is available from the Emotional Response label website, but postage outside the US will set you back double the price of the vinyl sadly. Well worth paying for the digital download though.
“Ed Ruscha” is from 10″ EP of dark & grainy spoken word plus post-punk goodness from Christchurch-based entity The Transcendents.
Ruscha (pronounced roo-shay FYI) is a US artist & this track (and cool video below) references the artist’s ‘Gas Station’/ ‘Burning gas Station’ works from the 1960s.
Hard to describe the sound here, but here goes… There’s elements of a weird kind of glitchy experimental soundscape combining alt-country, experimental music, twangy film-noire guitar, sand-blasted vocals and spoken word sampling. Oh & a cover (re-assembly?) of a Will Oldham song “A Sucker’s Evening” too.
If you need a music geography reference point, the music on “Lay Where You Collapse” sits somewhere between Ry Cooder’s atmospheric “Paris, Texas” soundtrack and UK post-punk song disassembly masters This Heat. These dislocated and fascinating anti-songs have an unsettling air. It’s easy to listen to but it’s the opposite of easy listening.
“Lay Where You Collapse” is available as a free download, or – the real treasure here – a very limited edition 10″ vinyl dub-plate lathe cut. Unlike acetate lathe cuts, these vinyl cuts, made done one-at-a-time in real time, are top quality for sound and durability.