13th floor elevators - easter everywhere

13th Floor Elevators: Easter Everywhere (1967)

Roky Erickson is one of those characters that you can’t help but fall into if you have even a passing interest in psychedelic and garage rock. I don’t remember where my first exposure was, but it was probably on one of Henry Rollins’s radio shows. I followed up on his incredible story, checked out his solo debut The Evil One and eventually moved my way back to his groundbreaking first band, the 13th Floor Elevators. A quick instagram reel from my local record shop showed they had gotten the new reissues of the band’s first two albums. I missed on the debut but nabbed the deluxe edition of their masterful second album Easter Everyday, with new remastered mono and stereo versions.

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Dwyer, Sawyer, Coates, Zoby, & Renteria: Gong Splat (2021)

Back from vacation and happy to see some more vinyl coming in from Castle Face Records. This time it’s the latest from John Dwyer and his constantly rotating assortment of musician friends creating more fuzzed out space jams that emphasize rhythms and soundscapes that harken back to krautrock while simultaneously pointing to distant, futuristic horizons. Call it Gong Splat, call it whatever you like, but know that like all of Dwyer’s collaborative projects there’s an undeniable pulse that will take you to points unknown in the universe.

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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)”