Grave Flowers Bongo Band: Strength of Spring (2021)

At some point Castle Face Records stopped being the home of Osees (or Oh Sees, or Thee Oh Sees, or OCS, etc.) and became one of the most dependable labels for delivering rock and roll aimed squarely at my brain. Few labels are consistently knocking out great rock that slides effortlessly into psych and prog but somehow John Dwyer keeps finding them and signing them. Case in point: Grave Flowers Bongo Band, who not only embody everything I love about the label on their sophomore record Strength of Spring, but have the added bonus of being produced by another of my favorite artists, Ty Segall. For some that’s a recipe for garage rock disaster; for me it’s buzzed out sonic bliss.

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uncle acid and the deadbeats - blood lust

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats: Blood Lust (2011)

When you’re recording guitars you’re taught to keep things “out of the red” – even with the heaviest distortion, you want to keep the sound from clipping and sounding like there’s something wrong with your speakers. Another term for it is “bricking” – when you see the wav form for something recorded too hot it looks like a solid brick of sound with no dynamics. It’s a good thing no one told Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats about that, because their second album Blood Lust wouldn’t have nearly the impact it does if the guitars (and everything else) didn’t sound like all the levels were maxed out. Far from being unlistenable, it creates a lo-fi psych/stoner doom rock gem that gets better with each listen.

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all them witches - nothing as the ideal

All Them Witches: Nothing as the Ideal (2020)

My shying away from a lot of modern metal doesn’t mean I’m shying say from modern (or more accurately, current) rock. All Them Witches was a revelation to me back in 2016 when I discovered their Lightning at the Door album through some mutual friends. Over the years the band has expanded and contracted, moving in subtle directions where the emphasis can fall on multiple genres – some more successfully than others. Trimmed down to a trio, Nothing as the Ideal locks everything into place, creating am monster of a rock album that feel simultaneously timeless and of every time. It’s a banger, in other words.

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beck - modern guilt

Beck: Modern Guilt (2008)

To start, this was not the Beck album I thought I was going to write about.  I went into the morning happy to revisit an old friend, a sunny, chill psychedelic folk album that reminded me of gots lazy days and warm introspection.  Well, that album was Morning Phase, an album I apprarently don’t own despite really enjoying.  Instead, I have Modern Guilt, Mr. Beck Hansen’s brief but listless 2008 effort that starts promising but ultimately leaves almost no impression once it’s over. Continue reading “Beck: Modern Guilt (2008)”

beatles - abbey road

The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969)

There’s a sense of the mythic in that opening bassline, the way it connect the drum.  It’s all sex and slink, a dirt revelation of the youth of 1969, 79…2019.  Abbey Road is the true last gospel of The Beatles, and  the true gospel of The Beatles, the last time the band would truly ever “Come Together,” and it’s little wonder it’s so glorious a send off, despite it being released after Let It Be.   Continue reading “The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969)”

beatles - magical mystery tour

The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

Man, 1967 was a busy year for The Beatles.  Only a few short months after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came the ill-advised television special Magical Mystery Tour.  If you’ve ever seen the film, it’s a poorly contrived mess; a huge departure from the fun of A Hard Day’s Night and Help!.  Fortunately, the new songs that accompanied the film were still pretty damn great, and so we can still hold our head high with Magical Mystery Tour the album, even if the second side is filled with previously released singles. Continue reading “The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (1967)”