22 May 2016

Interview: Doug Tuttle


Doug interviewed by John Knoernschild

We’re here today talking with Doug Tuttle. Formerly of MMOSS, Doug went solo and in 2014 released his first, self-titled record.

Doug, tell us a little bit about your years with MMOSS and the influence that Rachel Neveu and Justin DeArmitt had in the sound and feel of the band.

MMOSS went through many changes in its seven years both stylistically and member wise (16 different people can say they've been in MMOSS).

Rachel, Justin and I were the longest participants (Rachel and I from 2006 on, Justin from 2008 on).

It's hard to say what influence ANY of us had on MMOSS, it was a band where it was either happening, or it wasn't. The three of us were generally on the same page with what to do and what not to.

We did perhaps each have things we pushed a bit more though, for me it was always the more pop oriented songs. Justin always got excited by new sounds and finding ways to incorporate those into songs, and Rachel was a big proponent of the free/improvised aspects of the band and was always pushing for more of that.

When did you first decide to go it alone and start work on your solo project and what was the reason for the new direction?

I honestly wasn't too jazzed on the direction MMOSS was taking at the very end, things just weren't gelling, I would have rode it out, but when the personal relationship between Rachel and myself ended, it was time to do something different. 

What are your plans for the future?

Working on record number three and trying to figure out how to afford to tour a bit more.

Well I for one am stoked to hear you are working on your next album. Can you give us some
idea of the shape album number three is taking?

That's tricky to say, I always record more songs then I need, so I really won't know what songs will be on this one till it’s done. There are a couple in the running that were recorded while working on the last record, tunes that just didn't fit the vibe, but are making more sense with the current batch. So I guess it'll be a bit of a different feel from the last one at the very least. 

Interesting indeed, I like your approach. Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do these amazing psychedelic songs come from?

I generally just write a chord progression and hum melodies over it ‘till something sticks.

Then it's a matter of deconstructing the chords/melody and finding other moving lines within/around them and assigning those to other instruments. 

What were your biggest influences in music when you first started? Is there an artist out there that had a huge impact on you?

I found my dad’s Byrds greatest hits record pretty early on, took it to my room and never returned it. That music just without fail takes me somewhere. 

That’s a good record to find so early in life. I can hear their influence in your style. I recently found out that you are the owner of Mid-Fi Electronics. If our readers don’t know about Mid-Fi Electronics, they, or Doug really, make some of the finest guitar effects pedals on the market today. They can be found under the feet of some very well-known artists. I have it on good authority that both Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline of Wilco use pedals made by your company. Can you confirm these allegations Doug?

Yeah, I make pedals. I've been selling to Nels since before he was in Wilco, he was the roommate of Bobb Bruno (now of Best Coast) who was my second ever customer. I've seen pictures of Jeff Tweedy using my pedals but have never sold any directly to him, he must go through a retailer. I only met him briefly once. 

Some other big names have used my stuff and Nels has mentioned it in guitar magazines. I'm hugely thankful for this as it's allowed me to scrape by without a real job for a number of years. Just kind of lucked out, and word spread a bit.

When did you start Mid-Fi Electronics?

I started building pedals in '98. I'd look at early pedal building websites and take out electronics hobby books from the library. 

Back then people were pretty pumped if someone new was making pedals so it was a lot easier to get people interested. 

Before ”It Calls On Me” was released, you were touring the UK and playing at the Eindhoven Psych Lab. How was that experience? How was it playing in the UK versus playing around the United States?

We did a month all around Europe on that trip and had a great time.  The big difference is being fed and having a place to stay every night. 

Well that’s certainly a welcome change I’m sure. Sounds like a great experience.

I really appreciate your time here Doug. I’m sure our readers do as well. I’ll be keeping my eye out for your next album. I can’t wait to spin that fresh vinyl!

Check out Doug's two Trouble in Mind albums here.

And here's a little something from our archives:

21 May 2016

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity


Reviewed by Shaun C. Rogan

So after waiting literally weeks for a new King Gizzard record to come out, it is finally here and my goodness have they delivered an astounding piece of work with ‘Nonagon Infinity’.

After the pastoral charm of last year's ace ‘Paper Mache Dream Balloon’, Stu MacKenzie and his band of merry men have gone back into the lab, gobbled Christ knows what and cooked up something so hugely amazingly exhilaratingly MASSIVELY BRILLIANT that it threatens to eclipse all other releases in 2016 with its sheer power, deployment of ninja-level chops and dazzling sonic attack. This record is the aural equivalent of being strapped to the outside of a Saturn 5 rocket after being dosed up on PCP and being launched at light speed into an expanding and exploding cosmos. Yep. That’s right. You heard me ok. Give me a minute to find my brain and I’ll tell you a little more about it. Thanks.

So, ‘Nonagon Infinity’ is essentially a concept piece; a 37 minute song suite depicting an intergalactic fairground ride, that picks up (arguably) where 2014’s ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” left off. All double speed drums, song fragments recurring endlessly across the duration of the record, cymbals phased and flooding over the proceedings like a burst Hoover Dam and some very precise and nifty time changes and guitar slinging. Check.

“Robot Stop” is probably the best opening number I have heard on any psych rock record in the past 20 years and sets up the rest of the record perfectly. Guitars fizz and sting, pivoting and spinning around, rhythms concuss and transport you at lightning speed, punctuated by automaton vocal lines that provide no comfort but exhort you to hang on tight and leave your body behind. “Big Fig Wasp” carries on the charge with its subtle variant on the opening theme before crashing into lead single (how mental is that?) “Gamma Knife” which is a catapulted Orgone Accumulator – fully loaded and with its controls firmly set for the heart of the sun – all crashing drums, fuzzed harmonica and raga guitar lines. Perfection.

‘People – Vultures’ over a slow and sludgy Sabbath/High Tide type riff – its minor scale smouldering and foreboding vocal giving this listener a distinct sense of unease. This lasts for at least a millisecond before the accelerator is pushed to the floor and we speed off again on a crunchy metallic guitar raga and several very tastefully timed war whoops. It’s a wonderful scary nonsense that seems to be powered by a boundless energy and psychotic relish sending me further and further away from planet Earth. My knuckles are white, my eyeballs firmly reversed and peering at my quivering brain. I AM AT THE EVENT HORIZON. Then…

After 18 minutes of striving to achieve escape velocity, we are finally beyond the gravitational pull of the solar system and we can take respite in the gloriously funky and pure 1970’s groove of ‘Mr Beat’ with its snappy hook, beautiful guitar lines and warm Hammond organ riffs. Can you smell the fondu? That’s not food, that’s your brain stewing my friend, the kitchen hasn’t been used in years….I am grateful for the opportunity to breathe.

BUT

Intrepid explorers like this crew are never likely to rest on their laurels for long. Not when so much of our universe is unknown and untamed and so the intermissions ends and we put our space helmets back on….

“Evil Death Roll” immediately makes a grab for the title of this centuries “Masters of the Universe” mantle, the wind of time blowing through it like a cosmic wind emanating from some distant supernova. Its big on pinnable influences but also drenched in that peculiar King Gizzard juice that can only have been dreamt up by our premier Aussie space explorers. Warp speed psych perfection? Don’t mind if I do. “Invisible Face” is a progtastically mental bossa nova – a bit like if Caravan had recorded their second lp in a state of mania after bingeing on espresso and amphetamines. “Wah Wah” with its jazzy drums and phased sonics is essentially a twisted rewrite of the ‘Mission Impossible’ TV theme tune fed into the cosmic blender and jettisoned into deep space. I have no idea what it’s on about but I like it. A lot. George Harrison wrote an inferior song with the same name years ago. He would trip out on this tune I reckon would George, all barefoot on his Iranian rug, his chakras nicely aligned and pulsing skyward. In fact maybe he is as I write this?

Things reach a suitably stupifyingly dense and dangerous denouement with the drum led “Road Train” which is probably what Hawkwind would have sounded like if they hadn’t sacked Lemmy. And had taken more drugs. And listened to The Damned and early 80’s metal records. Probably. It ends as the record started signalling the infinite loop that has been triggered by the opening of the door…

So there you have it. ‘Nonagon Infinity’ - a record that exhilarates, terrifies, comforts, amazes and makes you consider the possibility that yogic flying may not be impossible after all. It is truly a monster, it is truly a masterpiece, it is truly one of the wonders of the modern world. Grab it. Now.

CD, vinyl and digital available here (UK,EU), or here (US).

19 May 2016

New Release: Ray Columbus - Now You Shake


When Ray Columbus and the Invaders hit it big in their native New Zealand with "She's a Mod" there were riotous scenes - the sort usually associated with Beatlemania. Despite this, Columbus's music remains largely unknown outside of New Zealand, a wrong about to be righted by this excellent compilation from Grant Gillanders who has previously been responsible for similar comps by The Fourmyula (NZ's Beatles) and Larry's Rebels (NZ's Rolling Stones).

Covering Columbus's sixties recordings this progresses through his mod / R&B / beat period with the Invaders, through to his sojourn in happening San Francisco during the height of the flower power era, to his solo New Zealand recordings from the late sixties.

Includes the immortal garage punk nugget "Kick Me".

Extracts from the liner notes:

"They toured with some of the biggest names from the period. Roy Orbison thought that they were the loudest group that he had ever heard, The Rolling Stones would watch them from the stage door, Del Shannon wanted them as his permanent band, and The Yardbirds were desperate to get their hands on one of their songs.

By mid-1966, a solo Ray arrived in the USA to the headline ' AMERICA DISCOVERS COLUMBUS', where he became part of the happening scene in San Francisco.

For the first time you can hear 29 tracks that combine Ray's Invaders period with the best of his San Francisco and New Zealand solo recordings from the Sixties, presenting the definitive album of this legendary figure."

Available here (UK/EU), or here (US).

Check out this monster: 

18 May 2016

Robert Pollard - Of Course You Are


Reviewed by Elizabeth Klisiewicz

Robert Pollard is an indefatigable songwriter, and this is his 24th solo album. He weaves his musical magic here, just as on his last great solo work, 2015’s "Faulty Superheroes". Pollard combines delicate chamber pop (“Come and Listen”) with the muscular power pop of opening track “My Daughter She Knows”. The production is clean and bright, unlike his earlier lo fi adventures. There is also a message behind the song on global warming, in case the song title throws you off. “Long Live Instant Pandemonium” is heavy, with prog-influenced guitar work, and Pollard and his collaborator, Ricked Wicky’s Nick Mitchell, lob it in your face like a sonic grenade. All the instruments here were contributed by Mitchell, who also recorded and produced this release. His work here elevates the material quite a bit, polishing the rough edges to a diamond hard shine. Discreet flourishes of strings, horns, and piano really evoke baroque rock classics such as Love and Cardinal.

“Little Pigs” breaks little new ground, but it manages to insinuate itself into your brain with its skein of hooks. “I Can Illustrate” is another gem with huge hooks to suck you in, and it never lets go. I really like the organ on “The Hand That Holds You”; it lends a warmth to the proceedings. “Collision Daycare” jumps out like a spiky power pop classic, and never lets up on the energy. “Contemporary Man (He’s Our Age)” is uneasy synth pop, “Losing It” stumbles into drowsy psych pop, and album closer “Of Course You Are” is a memorable ditty that wraps the entire album in a nice neat package that is ripe for your listening pleasure.

Chalk this one up as another worthwhile album from the ever prolific Robert Pollard!

Available here (UK/EU), or here (US).

13 May 2016

A Year in the Country - The Quietened Village


Reviewed by Nathan Ford

A Year in the Country has built up quite a head of steam of late, with Grey Malkin having covered previous releases of theirs for us here and here. A blog, a recording project, and a label with a distinctive hauntological aesthetic, A Year in the Country can in some ways be seen as a sort of cottage industry Ghost Box. As a starting point at least, that ought to attract the attention of those who should be listening to their output, but AYITC (as I'll call them from now) have their own distinct take on the genre, and are doing wonderful work in diversifying a genre that could run out of ideas very quickly, by inviting artists with backgrounds in complimentary fields such as experimental folk, tape manipulation, kosmische and acid folk to throw their hat into the Hauntology ring, with surprising results.

Markedly different to Ghost Box's hugely appealing Radiophonic Workshopisms, AYITC are a far more emotive, earthier proposition, and their latest release, "A Quietened Village" is a compelling collection of complimentary pieces from a disparate band of artists, the majority of which have featured in these pages before with their own releases.

Drawing its inspiration from villages and hamlets once bustling with life that were commandeered for wartime training ops, and submerged valley settlements sacrificed to make man-made reservoirs, their steeple points breaking the waters, determinedly reaching skyward, this is prime Hauntology fodder. The music contained within here perfectly conveys the sense that a place once inhabited can never be truly empty again. Echoes of long finished conversations and the thoughts and feelings of past inhabitants haunt these carefully curated pieces, allowing Richard Moult's moving "Quopeveil" to sit perfectly comfortably alongside the nightmarish Radiophonic burblings of Howlround's "Flying Over a Glass Wedge". Elsewhere, Active Listener endorsed wyrd folk acolytes Sproatly Smith and the Straw Bear Band continue to prove their versatility, revelling in the opportunity to tread new stylistic ground, while the man behind the label (who also records as AYITC) provides the album highlight for me, the haunting "47 Days and Fathoms Deep" which draws upon the same sense of foreboding as recent Mogwai recordings (particularly "Les Revenents" and the more electronic parts of "Rave Tapes").

There's plenty more to love here too, but the beauty of this release is that even though the constituent parts are all very strong indeed and all worthy of mention, it's as a whole that "A Quietened Village" impresses most, and it's not just down to the music. AYITC's releases are all meticulously packaged, with "A Quietened Village" proving to be no exception, its two editions boasting string-bound booklets, badges, stickers and all sorts of other goodies, not to mention carefully orchestrated visuals that perfectly accompany the music contained within.

Highly recommended. Stream or download below, and investigate the different physical formats here and here.

9 May 2016

Quilt - Plaza


Reviewed by Dedric Moore (KC Psych Fest)

Ever have an album that stumps you? One that keeps calling you back again and again but you can't find the words to do it justice? "Plaza" gave me writer's block for three weeks. I'd put it on, get really excited and then type absolutely nothing until I went for a walk in a park and soaked it in, and that was the right combination of sunshine and musical bliss.

Quilt's return with "Plaza" comes after a relentless touring schedule which has given them a confidence in their playing that matches the charm exuding from the speakers.

On a second listen you will start to hear the myriad of layers that flow perfectly together to build these songs into psych pop perfection. And as a bonus, Quilt have gained some swagger in their musical step. The ability to ride a groove means you have to balance tempo, swing and a playfulness with keeping it loose.

The production is crystal clear without sounding too polished. You can feel the "feel" of the band really enjoying the performance as they play their parts. It sounds like they absorbed the mental approach the Beatles took for "Revolver" for songwriting and production values.

"Passerby" works a dreamy hippy vibe with guitar drones, string swells, flute melodies and an easy flow. Tension builds occasionally and then eases back down. It's only four minutes but it drifts along endlessly and could be double the length and not get old. "Roller" is the first single released from "Plaza" and it makes sense. There is no denying the bass and drum groove on this one. It's catchy and has a great vocal melody, and the scratchy guitars are the extra icing on the cake. "Searching For" gets more krautrock with a motorik beat and steady strumming and amps up the vibe. "O'Connor's Barn" starts with interlocking dual guitars that make the whole tune. The male/female vocals really work together on the chorus. "Elliot St". is an acoustic led number that has a memorable bass line and hits the Beatles vibe with shuffling drums, guitar stabs, and string quartets. "Hissing My Plea" is another groover that adds some soul vibes with its funky drums and bass and the super sing-a-long lyrics. "We've got an answer", yes, its true they do. "Something There" relaxes again and channels classic mid-tempo Fleetwood Mac with soothing harmonies and pleasant chord progressions. "Padova" is a gentle ballad that has a constant shuffle as beautiful guitar melodies intersect with slide guitar and harmony vocals. It's wistful and hopeful at the same time. "Your Island" is another slow groover that makes you sway to the beat. Beautiful vocals and wonderful dynamics make a simple guitar pattern memorable as well as sticking in your brain for days. I recommend strutting down the street to this one and smiling at everyone walking by. "Own Ways" picks it back up for the final track. Tremolo guitar pushes a "lost-in-the-wild-open" vibe. This is a great way to end the album. It touches on the more jamming feel of their first release and shows how Quilt have moved their music forward without losing track of what was their appeal.

Quilt rock as needed, jam as desired, and make guilt-free feel-good music.

Vinyl, CD & digital available here.

6 May 2016

Andy Wade - Black And White World


Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Andy Wade (brother of Dodson And Fogg's Chris, and partner in the excellent Rexford Bedlo with him) casts a third album into the light, following his excellent debut 'Pushing Senses' and equally impressive sophmore effort 'Fix It Till It's Broken'. Writing, playing and producing this almost entirely himself, Wade's creativity and drive is never in doubt; this is an album of finely honed and genuinely felt gems that are clearly a labour of love. We are to be thankful that we too can step into Wade's world and enjoy these musical vignettes, full-on psych rockers, and late night laments.

'Open' begins the album with a delicate and melancholic piano refrain, keyboard ebbing and falling and a gentle double bass accentuating this reflective and wistful piece. It is followed by the pulsating Hammond and acoustic melody of 'Sky Turns Blue' which adds guitar and percussive muscle to it's tortured, bluey crawl as it hits stratospheric heights with a fiery, volcanic solo that evokes both Neil Young and The Bevis Frond. Wade's previous recordings have evidenced his easy way with using different genres and moods to frame the songs and 'Black And White World' is no different. The title track is an example; a reverb drenched piano lament in its initial moments, it weaves and warps with bursts of psych guitar and strident drum breaks whilst all the while holding the central melody and heart-rending feel of the song itself. 'Prowl (Part 2)' (part one being on 'Fix It Till It's Broken') is by turn an electronic and motorik travelogue, syncopated drumbeats and keyboard stabs propelling the track along on a dread filled and ominous late night ride through the city that evokes the soundtrack work of John Carpenter. Next, 'Lazy Days' takes us into a hazy kaleidoscopic dream of summers past, gorgeous echoed guitar arpeggios and a nostalgic vocal melody that ably conjures images of sun flecked afternoons and long warm evenings. 'Intermission' returns to the electronica based sound of 'Prowl', new wave guitars picking their way through waves of vintage synths in a manner that recalls the classic 'Real Life' era of magazine. 'While You Dream' then takes us somewhere else entirely; an accomplished acoustic, late night ballad with Wade's classic English vocal that Ray Davies or John Martyn would have been perfectly happy to have written. This more reflective mood continues with the emotionally fragile and heartbreaking 'Two Halves Make A Whole'; fans of the aforementioned Bevis Frond but also Bob Mould and Husker Du will adore this. 'Lullabye' reintroduces the piano to highly powerful effect, a lonely and sombre paean that reverberates and flickers candlelike throughout the dark, solitary and long night. Instrumental 'Slip Slide' lifts the mood with a cascading keyboard melody and playful guitar break that shifts the atmosphere of the album once more; Wade’s music covers a wide palette of feeling and musical style yet this only satisfies all the more. There is a delight in the breadth of emotions and styles, a joy that revels in this album's playful unpredictability. 'Nothingmore', an album highlight, is a banjo flecked slice of psych folk beauty, glistening piano notes and a descending acoustic melody framing Wade’s double tracked vocals like stars accompanying an expansive and richly hued sky. 'Not That Guy' is a superb slice of classic psychedelia with hints of Robbie Krieger guitar whilst 'Only One And Only' is a wide-screen and windswept slide guitar driven retrospection; both are equally impressive and emotive. The album closes with the piano piece 'Hope', a return of sorts to where the album began. Indeed, this is a carefully paced and constructed album that flows from emotion to emotion, genre to genre with a masterful command and watchful eye.

To conclude then, Wade has delivered a third album of richly detailed and presented psych rock and folk but with the same thirst for creation and inventiveness that marked his first two long players. It may be a black and white world but Wade 's universe is filled with every colour, every shade; join him there.

Available now on Amazon and I-Tunes as well as from Wade's own website.

3 May 2016

Electric Eye - Different Sun


Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Norwegian space-rockers Electric Eye had an immediate wow factor that really impressed me on their 2013 debut "Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time". It's the sort of album that you can imagine a band anguishing over how to follow up and ultimately distintegrating in the process. Yet, three years later that follow up is here (much to my surprise), and I'll admit that its very existence caught me completely unawares. So, a very nice surprise, but my expectations were low. At best, I was hoping for more of the same, but what we have here is so much more than that, that it makes its predecessor pale in comparison.

The band's description of their sound is a good one: "Electric Eye play droned out psych-rock inspired by the blues, India and the ever more expanding universe. On the band's inspirational mix tape, you will probably find songs from the The Black Angels, Wooden Shjips and Pink Floyd in Pompeii."

That alone should have you searching for the play button, but their description fails to take into account something that only an outsider can objectively hear: their songs are every bit the match of their influences, a big step up from the hundreds of imitators out there who spend so much time striving for a particular sound, with the songwriting becoming a secondary consideration.

"Heavy Steps on Desert Floor" starts out with a hypnotic prog/psych vamp that could easily carry the weight all by itself, but as soon as the heavily treated vocals enter the fray it becomes all about the song, a great melody leading the way, with carefully balanced instrumental counterpoints regularly cropping up in a supportive role. "Mercury Rise" goes a step further - the sort of indie / psych hybrid that bands like TOY and Tame Impala occasionally get just right. Frankly, it bangs a gong and gets it on with a great Bolan boogie, without losing any of its spacey, kraut groove. How it does so, I can't even begin to explain. And that's the sort of album that this is; unexpected and inexplicable in equal measure. And then it ends beautifully, in open tribute to the album's other major influence, Pink Floyd: "Part One" is all unhurried grace, squalls of gently undulating seagull guitar that could have come straight off "Meddle", with keys wafting in on a solar breeze gently prompted by Njål Clementsen's bass. In its second half it becomes as close to a continuation of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" as I've ever heard; a lovely, moody comedown from the more propulsive highs that have preceded it.

So, I know I've said this before, but this is the ultimate Electric Eye album. I'd love to be proven wrong in the future, but for now I'm a very happy listener indeed. Do not miss out on this one.

CD and vinyl available here (UK/EU), or here (US). Full stream and digital download available through the Bandcamp link here:

2 May 2016

Dr. Dog - The Psychedelic Swamp


Reviewed by Maggie Danna

"Psychedelic Swamp" is both Dr. Dog’s oldest and newest album. In 2001, before bringing the band Dr. Dog into existence, friends Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken first wrote an album titled "Psychedelic Swamp". The original "Psychedelic Swamp", which can be heard on YouTube, was recorded in a basement and is a lot more lo fi and grungy. It’s also much bleaker and more spacious than its remake. While the original is rather sloppy, the impressive song structure and writing skills were still there 15 years ago. Now the band has revisited these tracks and made them shiny and fresh.

A concept album of sorts, "Psychedelic Swamp" is narrated by a man who starts his life over again in a new world, the psychedelic swamp, only to find it is not all he initially hoped it to be. This may also be a metaphor for a psychedelic trip; the album touches upon key features including awe, societal revelations, and paranoia. Being a swamp, the narrator and listeners become increasingly stuck in the muck of this world as the album progresses. At first everything is absolutely incredible, but eventually the narrator realizes it is not all he made it out to be; it’s like believing you’ve arrived in the Garden of Eden only to discover it’s just a distorted version of your backyard after a heavy rainfall.

The album is very pop throughout but in varying degrees. “Golden Hind”, which kicks off the album, has a bit of folk or even country twang. “Engineer Says” adds a tinge of funk. “In Love”” is a dream pop ballad, and the finale “Swamp is On” is more spaced out and electronic. Dealing with love and relationships, as well as identity, the album has serious moments but does not take itself too seriously.

“Dead Record Player” has a joyous and laid-back melody, and strong glam tendencies, despite the fact that the record player in question “sings sad songs about the dead” and the narrator notes “All my old records used to not want me dead/Now they do”. Though ominous, the narrator is clearly digging his new situation and declares, “The music is killing me/The high and low fidelities/ Are attacking my brain/And it's terrific”.

However, by “Swamp Inflammation”, approaching the album’s close, the narrator has had enough and grumbles that “swamp living is killing me”. On top of that, he has heard “too much information on the psychedelic news”. “Swamp Inflammation” transitions into “Badvertise”, a mild garage rock jam ridiculing classic advertising tropes, which also has a humorous music video that pokes fun at infomercials.

"Psychedelic Swamp" is an extremely enjoyable and well-crafted album. It's classic Dr. Dog, as this is a band known for its great melodies and fun quirks. Highlights include “Golden Hind”, “Dead Record Player”, “Bring My Baby Back”, and “Badvertise”. "Psychedelic Swamp" is a great album if you’re looking for fun, creative pop.

Vinyl, CD and digital available here (UK/EU) and here (US).

The whole album streams here:

27 Apr 2016

Fumaça Preta – Impuros Fanáticos


Reviewed by Todd Leiter-Weintraub (Hop On Pop)

When Fumaça Preta’s self-titled debut was released toward the end of 2014, it instantly leapt to the top of my “Best Of” list for that year; I mean, instantly. It only took one listen for the band’s particular mix of Tropicalia, experimentalism, and general madness to sink its hooks into me and to make the band an instant favorite.

But, where "Fumaça Preta" came screaming out of the gate like a bat out of hell, "Impuros Fanáticos", by contrast, creeps up on you like a spectre in the night.

It opens with the sound of a guitar crashing to the ground in the distance, howling wind, and the sound of a flute, fluttering like a frightened little bird. Then, a creeping, atmospheric groove comes into focus, sounding like the lost soundtrack to an old film noir. It is from that groove that bandleader Alex Figueria’s panicked vocal emerges, pleading in Portuguese. Where, on the first album, there was hysteria, here, there is desperation.

While atmosphere is the rule of the day here, the groove drives everything forward, as it always has with this drummer-led band. “Baldonero” emerges from the muck with an angry-sounding surf guitar playing against a Bossabeat and a pulsing bass line. And “Decimo Andar” raises the ante in the energy department, finally getting the motor running at full speed.

But, it’s not until near the end of the record—with the one-two punch of “Ressace Da Gloria” and “La Trampa”—that the band achieves the same level of in-your-face intensity that it pretty much maintained throughout their entire debut. That said, it’s anything but late in arriving. By the time the throttle is opened, the groove and atmosphere has already lulled the listener into an alternate state of consciousness, grooving along on a haze of mid-tempo voodoo funk, making the explosion at the end all the more effective by what preceded. So, when it kicks, it KICKS. It’s a masterful display of the power of sequencing.

Fumaça Preta remains one of the most interesting and exciting bands making music today. Jumbling together acid, Tropicalia, funk, jazz, samba, and anything else that catches their fancy in a musical blender that’s set to “liquefy.”

Yes, "Impuros Fanáticos" is a more-subdued affair than the first album, but when you drop the needle on this one, it doesn’t let go of you until the final fade. You’ll find yourself catching your breath without ever realizing that you lost it. Yes, they are that good.

CD, vinyl and digital available here (UK/EU), or here (US).