WNnG – Musings from the desk of chaz.

Listening Station Update.
May 7, 2009, 7:45 pm
Filed under: New Music

Changed out the Listening Station a couple days ago and thought I’d post up the key players this time around. I realize since it’s just me making the decisions, it becomes more of a ‘chaz’s picks’ listening station, so if you have anything you want to see up there, please let me know! Then again, what’s wrong with ‘chaz’s picks,’ it’s basically a store full of that crap anyway, right?!

I’m in a psych mood lately, if you haven’t been able to tell.

Thomas Function – Celebration (alive)

Yes, I know, this one has actually been up there for a long while. I just really like it, so I keep trying to push it on people. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. But everyone still needs to hear it. So there it will remain until the person it was meant for stumbles in, cranks it and finds his or her favorite album. This is Thomas Function’s debut full length. They had a couple 7″s slung out previous to this, but these recordings really nailed them into the list of best albums of 2008 for me. Being on Alive Records you’d maybe assume this was just another awesome garage/boogie record. And you’d actually be right in that assumption – oh but wait, it goes farther. These boys (none of whom are named Thomas Function actually, so you will find it in the ‘T’s of yer local indie store) crank out a marvelous racket that exists somewhere right smack in the center where garage, powerpop and twang meet as musical influences or genres. It’s hooky, loose, raw, brash, loud, melodic and a bit laid back at times. Just a solid record through and through. Writing this right now makes me realize I’ve probably already written about this record on this blog. Oops. Can’t expect me to remember everything.

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Why There Are Mountains (self release)

What?! I was blindsided by this release! It came outta nowhere! Well, I guess from the perspective of someone who sits behind a desk in Durham, NC, kinda removed by a few states from New York and their leagues of self-released CDs, it might seem like that. But obviously, it came from deep, deep somewhere. It’s chilling that this is just a self-release. I had some friends ask about it and then I read the review on Pitchfork, so I figured I might as well check it out. Just order a couple for the store and some friends. But then I talked to the guys on the phone, and they were super nice, then they sent them down just on consignment with a store copy. Then I figured I would toss it on the player. Then I actually listened to it. Then I became blown away and found myself happily in full, drooling agreement with Pitchfork. Did I mention they were also super nice? Anyway, this is a tough one to describe, it just deserves a listen. It can definitely be put into the ranks of the modern NY psych/shoegaze players, but it takes it a little farther in places – wandering off into jangly, driving, high powered Pixies space, manipulated and reverb-drenched sonic waves or epic Isaac Brock-patented howling crescendo moments. Just as you’re settling in behind a timid, melodic guitar line, you’re snapped back into the music with a crash or a wave of feedback and melodic noise. It’s eerily pretty, yet still massive and jarring. Man, top records of 2009 list for sure!

Crystal Antlers – Tentacles (tough & go)

Possibly Touch & Go’s final new release? Who knows. It’s all still sad and unclear. If it is, it’s a strong note to go out on in my opinion. Let’s hope it’s not the end though, not trying to cause any bad juju. This release just seemed to kinda putter out into the public, which is a shame, as I think it’s one of the stronger releases of the year so far. It sounds like an indie rock approach to 60s psych garage. To me this album carries the sound of a band that formed with the intention of becoming an indie rock band, but then accidentally fell into some 13th Floor Elevators stuff. Heavily. Maybe the majority of the band ended up in Indie Rock 101, and one or two of them got lost and stumbled into Psychedelic Garage 101. Then the in-fighting began. It’s a bizarre mashing of modern noisy indie rock and classic 60s pysch garage stuff. The Crystal Antlers are pulling inspiration from the era of them rock n roll kids who were pushing the boundaries of modern music, pulling in waves of sound and tortured screams maxing out the dancehall mics. Go to their myspace page and listen to “Andrew.” If you’re not sold on that seemingly-sloppy mess of controlled guitar noise, then I guess you’re just not ready for it. Yup, I’m calling you out. Check back in 5 years and listen to it again, you’ll hate the fact that you missed it.

Wooden Shjips – Dos (holy mountain)

Found it! When I’m not getting lost in the ramblings of the phenonmenal modern psych group, Woods, I’m happily lost in the Kraut-rock influenced grooves of the Wooden Shjips lately. Them’s the two I reach for when I need to bring it down a few notches. San Francisco psychedelic wunder kids. Just look at them mugs on the left there! Tell me you’re not ready to toss this sucker on the player! I see nothing but space in those eyes…or the black voids where they’re supposed to be! I think I first heard this on WXDU about a week before it was released unto the stores and the public – so I still had time to weasel it onto an order. There was a repetitive groove, a snakey guitar line and a dark almost chant-like vocal delivery that reminded me immediately of Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters! If you’ve been reading this blog from early on, you’d know that I have a little obsession with the Flesh Eaters and their album “Minute to Pray, Second to Die.” There are not a ton of tracks on this album, but don’t be fooled, it is indeed a full album. The guitar lines drift in and out over locked grooves and the music goes far out into space and back. I’m not talking hippy-dippy cosmic grooves, I’m talking thick, dirty Kraut-rock COSMIC grooves. The heavy stuff. There’s a bit of darkness lying just under the surface as well, that’s what makes the album so powerful; it’s not just wanky and playful, it’s thought out, meticulous, slightly loose and meandering but it’s locked in. You don’t hear too much Flesh Eaters influence in music today, and maybe it was unintentional here, but goddamn if it doesn’t make me happy. Thanks for this record!

Hammer No More the Fingers – Looking for Bruce (churchkey)


My ride’s almost here so I unfortunately have to keep this one brief, sorry! One of the best local releases slotted for this year. We’ve got some doozies coming out too! Produced by the J Robbins, Looking for Bruce is a thick and jumpy ode to 90s indie rock. This album was created by kids who watched the 90s Chapel Hill/Durham scene roll by from their history class windows. Taking every chop, hook and sign of aggression and flare into their empty-notebook-heads. Math equations wrapped around Archers of Loaf lyrics while the monotonous American History teacher’s voice was slacked out to Polvo rhythms. This is what these guys learned. Now, ten years removed, they’re bringing back the raw energy into what used to be a thriving, spirited scene. Remember when ‘indie rock’ referred more to melodic, geeky glasses-wearing punk? These guys never got out of that class and the spirit they breathe back into the genre is amazing. See the live show and it will start to click back into place. Some memories will creep back up. Just like Robbins’ own Jawbox, Hammer is fronted by the bassist and I’d be surprised if Robbins didn’t give this the old sentimental Jawbox treatment (conscious of it or not), as the bouncey, driving, fuzzed bass is a center piece in each song. The bass fills the lead position and churns the music out in a more gutsy manner (like Jawbox) as the guitar stabs and slices around it. There is not a local band currently that will make you want to move more.

Thanks for reading!
Swing by and give this stuff a listen!
We love records!!


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