TRACK | Melaina Kol – Nu

5/5 golden merles

Melaina Kol creates Youngsville, North Carolina-based lo-fi bedroom rock. AMOSAT is layered in rich and compelling material, a delicately discordant ambiance constructed with much persistently viable misdirection stacked around the solid songwriting. “Nu” offers loads of angular pieces approaching of their own accord, an entire woven world of it to delve and get lost in, subtle hooks and abundant texture.

If I ever make anything good, I’ll have taken some lessons from this: its patience and sense of rerouting the narrative within the greater whole. There a lot of skill in guiding the persistent observer or judge in a kind of favorable figment or refracting everything in a favorable light; it’s nice to see such skill given to the refinement of experiment and innumerable unique transitions between tracks.

All of that is of value and is a kind of expertise that slowly accumulates an audience in the world, at least you hope so. It can be held by Naming your price at the bandcamp. Also check out the re-release of a set of 2017 tracks now out on tape/digital from 7th Heaven.

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 | 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 | Jack Stauber – Dead Weight

5/5 golden merles

The strength of Dead Weight lays in it hemorrhaging melody and the lack of limitations embodied in the core of its chaotic good. An endless series of synths rotate in sequence of killer calibration, all the way to its frenetic, gargled conclusion.

A perpetual no-skip on the gauntlet rotation, Jack’s sense of detailing is remarkable across mediums (See: 2020’s musical-horror short Opal). Also for more tunes check his other musical projects/collaborations with Joose and Zaki.

He’s been away for a bit as far as I can tell after Opal/HiLo, so, in either case of hibernation or another project patiently building, I am greatly looking forward to whatever medium he favors in the coming years.

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 | 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.

TRACK | Simon Joyner – Joy Division

5/5 golden merles

Shattered in the heart and scattered in the brain... you asked for a chorus but you got a refrain.

Such is the quality of the storytelling that I’m hearing it for the some-hundredth time and still unearthing new lines or implications within couplets.

It probably gets a bit tiring being called a songwriter’s songwriter. But I have no time and I refuse to look into it. It’s a great compliment. Please just take the compliment, Simon.

The track is full of wonder, much compelling musing and brooding. It hosts a novella of characters conveyed in rapid sequence, their dialogs interleaved and exposed in momentary visions. The pastiche is formed from a scattershot of misgivings, commiserations granted a ceremonial quality, and articulated in a structured sequence that captures a larger feeling chronically an era of impressions. The thread is maintained in a consistent tone from a narrator that endears throughout by the beauty of his phrasing.

It is a testament. And it is beautifully balanced to captivate. If it wasn’t immediately apparent from the tremolo and distortion off that early strumming, when the instrumentation hits around the four minute mark, and the wailing rises to meet it, there is created a small clearing. You can escape for a couple minutes into it.

TRACK | Mount Eerie – Voice in Headphones

5/5 golden merles

Julie Doiron (Eric’s Trip) and Phil Elverum (The Microphones) collaborate in this nocturnal, potable mantra of a track. The harmonies here are special and good. The content balanced across that form (“It’s not meant to be a struggle, up hill”), recurrent and reaffirming, is about as close to some therapeutic advising you’ll get in America without a silver spoon to exchange.

I saw Phil Elverum (as Mount Eerie) play in a high school gym somewhere I think in southern Indiana. I don’t remember when, but it was during or shortly after college, maybe 2005-8. Nobody I knew wanted to go but I was hopelessly invested in The Glow Pt. 2. He sat on a metal folding chair or stood in the middle of the basketball court and played a lot of songs I didn’t know. But they were good, kind, inspiring things.

I am most familiar with Julie Doiron from 2009’s tremendously heartfelt and forged I Can Wonder What You Did with Your Day. I’ll write about that later, at least one of the tracks. To my not immodest discredit, I haven’t listened to much Eric’s Trip, but look forward to doing so.