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A bunch of new records have arrived in store the last couple of weeks from Trouble In Mind and beyond that are sure to transport you off the planet as we head into the silly season. Sometimes I feel like psych is used as a bit of a pejorative term in Sydney to point towards something a little outdated or overblown, but there ain’t no paisley shirts here! (In the metaphorical sense that is…)
Philly duo Writhing Squares first came to my attention via their loose side project/offshoot group Writhing Squares Too which featured in the Richie’s Records Summer Singles Series a few years back. The intervening years have brought a sheen to the duo’s lo-fi rock’n’roll pummel and whacked out echo vocals that featured on that single, but also an expansiveness. Their latest double LP, Chart For The Solution, sees a higher-fi approach that allows for minimal pummel to evolve into a a Kraut-ier motorik drive but still with heavy nods to the overblown sax and guitar of the Stooges and the warped electronics of Suicide (or for those looking for more localised reference points, the group kind of sit somewhere in the nexus of Laughing Gear and Sleeper & Snake).
An oldie but a goodie! I espoused my admiration for Kryssi Battalene’s guitar work on the latest Mountain Movers LP in my staff picks write up the other week, but this is where my awe at her work began! Featuring Battalene on lead guitar and vocals alongside a cast of the New Haven crew (including Stefan Christensen), I guess you could describe Headroom’s Head In The Clouds as, well, heady. Spaced out guitars and full band jams that drift through a hazy and largely instrumental landscape. Battalene’s electricity taming at it’s finest!!! Great to have it back in stock.
Also on Trouble In Mind (but perhaps with the psych levels toned down slightly), we also secured some more copies of David Nance’s latest LP, Staunch Honey. More understated than his last couple of albums, Staunch Honey weaves itself through so much of the sonic territory of Nance’s back catalogue. It sees him return to a kind of homelier recording setup like earlier albums but the songs here are more defined (and some of the most memorable!). The Crazy Horse-esque shredding of Peace and Slightly Pulverized is tuned down a bit, replaced with a kind of late night basement jam or late arvo porch session that seems to split the difference between Exile-era Stones and Loaded-era VU with some honey sliding Neil Young in the mix too.
Speaking of Neil, his new album with Crazy Horse is due out at the end of this week. I’m writing in the past so haven’t been able to duck into the future and have a solid listen yet. But the latest single as of the time of writing (‘Welcome Back’) seems to unfurl in a manner that isn’t psych per se but shares a lot of similarities to Headroom and Nance while also reminding me of that Neil Young & Crazy Horse Way Down In The Rust Bucket release earlier in the year. Will this be the best new Neil release since Le Noise??
Back on track, also have a whole bunch of other mindbenders. Expansive and borderline orchestral arrangements from Vanishing Twin, records from the US group Garcia Peoples that range from Deadhead tributes to sax lead explorations, the blues psych classic self-titled album from Blind Owl Wilson, and the Americana psych of Howlin’ Rain’s latest The Dharma Wheel.
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