TRACK | Goon – Angelnumber 1210

5/5 golden merles

Los Angeles’ Goon has delivered to us more hypnotically drifting, catastrophe cooing psych rock. The band is in a unique place, confidently contorting melodies and multifaceted textures around otherworldly tales. There’s much care and craft to its interlocking layers and marbled phasing.

From the first moments of the field recordings discordant rumble, then the turning into a steady spine of percussion, it carries itself forward into being with great assurance. The piece feels sculptural and fills the audible void by pushing in many directions. There’s plenty of subtle sequences and attention to detail, each caringly extracted from the aether and melded into the elaborated structure.

The language is casually cryptic or explicitly ambiguous: environmental, a gathering, on earth, belated or in dream. The point is the feeling and the sense of collaborating within a stunning phenomenon and in a world of possibility.

The vinyl is delayed a few months from shipping due to manufacturing shortages but there are digital, tapes, and assorted articles of clothing if you would like to affiliate your physical body with their audible output, all coordinated at the bandcamp.

TRACK | Troll Dolly – Pooly

5/5 golden merles

Vancouver’s Troll Dolly has crafted some truly special experimental folk. Kindness is rarely given this level of craft and careful introduction into the world, for either one’s self or the other, and here it is both. Usually, its refinement is often hurried or perfunctory, the author somewhat slack, neither on the attack or defensive. Generally it is delivered with the understanding of either immediate acceptance and dismissal or an insurmountable suspicion/doubt enforcing its limitations. “Pooly” conveys a intricate context promptly and stunningly with both credulity and grace.

There’s a great deal of nuance to it, reflected in the production and the concepts, it contains the toil and tact needed for coherent processing of more complex ideas and emotions. The strongest line of the track, for me, is one that is not repeated, and regarding the expression of love: I’m afraid to ask for it / because I wake up in a deficit. Even when there is redundancy, for effect, it is accompanied by a new melody driving the point in a slightly different direction, providing scope. Grief, gray areas, and equal parts mournful and hopeful.

Its effect feels vast and outsized within the framework of the album/set of songs. Similar to the rawness combined with confrontation of A Crow Looked at Me, the medium is granted a status/use it doesn’t usually fulfill. And that is exciting and rare.

It runs parallel to precious and mighty things like Doiron’s I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day, Olsen’s If It’s Alive, It Will, and Martch’s Now You Know. A kind of self-actualized consideration without a compromise to form.

If a song is a way of remaining within a conversation, this is approaching a healthy version of that honing and mantra refinement. Music is storytelling provided the greater context of form, style affording weight/significance that otherwise requires time or additional context to establish. These are simple definitions but their qualitative realization is a uncommon and welcome. Seeing as we seem to be approaching an era in which we will be covering ourselves in blood to stop from burning, it is a relief to see something moving in the opposite direction, offering healing and a compelling vision.

TRACK | Frances Chang – flower childs

5/5 golden merles

Frances Chang’s “flower childs” is made up of the stuff of slowcore, psych-singer songwriter, and expertly extracted from the bedroom recordings. It has an arc that rises from the hope found in craft, the most direct determination of destiny, and then, meteorically, quickly, pivots into some dearly dreaded speculation: i’m so happy / i could cry / i’m writing and music sounds good again. It operates with all the damning and deliberate wonder you could hope for.

The melodies are found in their nascent form before repetition hammers them into rote reminders and set queues. The reverb hangs around, an intermittent percussive xylophone accentuates it. In the telling, some halcyon days are recounted which needed to be lost in order to be truly valued, or maybe even realized for their worth.

Forever is found wanting, concepts collide with the earth, invariably misaligned in manifestation. Forgiveness is afforded or withheld, to be redeemed later with interest. what if you don’t forgive me? / or even worse if you do… Is the best way forward a doubling down on delusion or maybe in the end (there is no end) living as comfortably as possible in perpetual doubt.

I wrote recently about Haneke’s Amour, “I guess this is what films would be like if they were made for humans and by humans instead of by corporations and for money,” and this is near enough the musical equivalent; limited in posturing, full of exploration. There are tapes for $10 and FLAC files for $8.

TRACK | Yumbo – A House

5/5 golden merles

“A House” is determinedly and reverently assembling influence from what’s left of the world into remarkable folk and experimental pop. From the compilation The Fruit of Errata, itself derived from 4 albums appearing from ’98 to the present, the track is composed of inventively paced through orthogonal backing vocals and angular instrumentation.

The patterns are established and subverted, populating the soundscape with many recursions amidst the collapse. That sense of newly cut paths amidst familiar ground feels like exploring amidst friends, like adventuring in good company. It’s absorbing and convincingly arranged.

There are many finely detailed asides within. The Double LP by Morr Music and Alien Transistor can be got for €29.99 with some shipping.

TRACK | Wren Kitz – Hexed

5/5 golden merles

A deliberate and ravaging album of many intricacies and plenty of codas, Early Worm by Wren Kitz is a real fine set of musical numbers. Promptly following the raw and expansive “Georgie,” the gentlest entry point comes through “Hexed,” a song about crying moons and the digging of bones.

The track is considered and palpable psych-folk and rock. It describes a kind of anti-heroes journey or an escape from ones self in the service of traversing an emotional landscape. The problems are bound to proximity, figuratively or literally — I don’t know. But born of an immediacy that can be at least differed and approached later from another angle or as another person, weathering the hex or inverting the curse.

It is a glinting and extensive track and album, with much fine detailing and world building. It should be a little or a lot more celebrated. And further evidence of the good drawing to it the good, there’s cover artwork by Dylan Jones, who’s also done some for Woolen Men.

TRACK | The Lavender Flu – Demons In The Dusk

5/5 golden merles

Experimental psych and folk rock from Oregon, The Lavender Flu’s “Demons in the Dusk” finds the lugubrious periphery of rock to be a haunting and inviting sector. And they offer great returns residing and mining this quarter comfortably immediately before collapse.

The album as a whole is consistently wailing and receding, working within its own internal logic that promptly consumes the listener. But “Demons In The Dusk” is probably the foremost hook, the crown jewel of a barb that easiest draws you in. It rewards your patience with a strange, strangled style, then an uptick of treble and trembling in the end.

As we hurtle unapologetically toward a new dark age, estranged from the storied ends, adrift and listless, it suits us well. At least the paths run parallel. Craven and composed, it saunters to the threat of annihilation, an easy going end that specifically omits a mea culpa, “The Lies that you breathe / will follow you.”

4 sides for 30 wending tracks, the double vinyl is around.

TRACK | Cut Worms – Like Going Down Sideways

5/5 golden merles

One of the strongest 2-song 7″ I’ve come across, a pair of my favorites from the buildup to Alien Sunset. “Like Going Down Sideways” is delicate and dreamy alt country. It is also an expert projection of layering a demo into a fully fledged lo-fi phenomenon.

There’s a lot of wonder to the piercing polarization of the complimentary layered vocal lanes, creeping in solemnly from the treetops of hell before the chorus raises. The track also features texturally many deliberate flourishes, like a couple of the briefest xylophone or glockenspiel cameos known to man; arriving to puncture amidst the plucking and contribute just a bit more of the percussive, glinting and gleaming.

The persistent room noise in this version is lovely. This one came out perfected and doesn’t need refining. You can still buy the split from Randy Records for all of $6.50 plus shipping.

TRACK | Aldous Harding – Beast

5/5 golden merles

“Beast” is a prized prophesy of a track from Harding, lightly picked, all mysticism, scattershot and scorched earth. The slow accumulate crushing is combined with an intricate immediacy of language, using intrigue of veiled prescience to keep your attention. It contains one of my favorite lines of any era:

Why breed a boy for his meat /
To teach the child cruel rituals of ruin to repeat?

My greatest affection is for the early Aldous Hardling project output, like Beast here and the early live Horizon performances, although it remains inventive and interesting in all guises. The language hits on something larger, older, something like in Epic of Gilgamesh:

The gods smelled the savor, the gods smelled the sweet savor, and collected like flies over the sacrifice

There are mechanics properly employed, like preying on our propensity for favoring the augural. But in a fun way that respects the audience enough, doesn’t get lost believing its own lies, material made of savoring the act without taking itself too seriously at the same time. There’s a world tour going on right now if you’re interested.

TRACK | The Mountain Goats – Aulon Raid

5/5 golden merles

A wonderful project, series of songs, and example of adapting material between mediums to appeal to a different audience. Life is brief and it’s a gift when two fine storytellers combine in collaboration. Also it’s the first set recorded straight to boombox since All Hail West Texas.

From the mouth of the horse:

“I WROTE A SONG EVERY DAY for the next ten days while reading A Chronicle of the Last Pagans, starting with “Aulon Raid” and working in exactly the style I used to work in: read until something jumps out at me; play guitar and ad-lib out loud until I get a phrase I like; write the lyrics, get the song together, record immediately.”

I was late to this one and maybe you missed it as well, but a nice reminder Darnielle and goats are on tour.

TRACK | Cotton Jones – Blood Red Sentimental Blues

5/5 golden merles

Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw have always had a great sense of production, properly documenting the smoke in the air, the curving and crashing that elevates the storytelling. This is still firmly in that tradition but a bit bigger.

When they gradually grew away from the charmed lo-fi folk of Page France, the goal seems to be to create a warm ambiance of fertile soil in which to grow their melodies.

“Blood Red Sentimental Blues” would work as a title alone. But there’s a lot more to it than that. The organ cements the foundation of the thing. The dual vocals route a pincer maneuver on the heart. When the tambourine track clicks the drum into a richer stereo around 1:23, all of this gets more tactile. It is eminently lovely stuff.