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 | Cindy Lee – I Don’t Want To Fall In Love Again

5/5 golden merles

“I Don’t Want To Fall In Love Again” is yet more Flegel, one of the great living builders of audible notes in aether. Sparkling, it is lo-fi rock with some experimental aspects. There is Reverb, tremolo and the metallic ash of drums, their coordinates coalescing in improbable simplicity and phases.

The work is well modified tradition, timeless infliction of temporality and texture. Not waiting, but hesitating at the start, the world holds off for about a minute, collecting itself prior to forming, knowing all that entails. Deceptively simple, attuned to the eternal, in so far as I understand it within our shared cultural conditioning, in the relative terms of our existence.

What Flegel has done throughout, in Women and Cindy Lee, is forge the familiar with the foreign, survey the zeitgeist and collective comprehension and reflect it back in a manner that is uniquely compelling, catchy and memorable. That’s what any artist is doing, to some extent: building out from the established, branching as far as is possible. But this is a level of fluency that speaks with uncanny accuracy and conviction. It’s good and to be admired.

TRACK | Dead Ghosts – What To Do

5/5 golden merles

“What To Do” is rapid, direct garage pop/rock. The static-distortion rises up to embrace you from the pyre beneath, fizzing and rasping. It’s finely fermented in its own haze and heartache; a joyous melodic sludge.

The production is a slushy stint of metallic rust, stormy and straightforward, strung together with the copper wire pulled from an abandoned home. Akin to The Riptides or Charlie and the Moonhearts, or any garage within view of the ocean.

Like the recently covered Can’t Get No, the Burger vinyl can be found across the globe with various dings and dents.

TRACK | Dead Ghosts – Summer with Phil

5/5 golden merles

One of my favorite garage-surf records, Can’t Get No has a wealth of hooks and much nuanced noise in the murkiest depths of it’s of lo-fi production.

What stands out most is the labor involved in honing these complimentary tones and the stunning results from this joy of invention.

“Summer with Phil” is quietly ornate, teasing out melodies, amorphously coagulating and decaying. The passages are faithfully and formatively statured throughout, with consistency rising from the formidable 2010 s/t.

I have not spent enough time with 2020’s Automatic Changer, but will rectify this in the near-term. Can’t Get No has a few colored vinyl on the second hand market.

TRACK | Women – Eyesore

5/5 golden merles

“Eyesore” is a clinic on texture and tone. The track is a How-to with respect to texturing a track so well that you don’t need a proper hook to emerge until 4 minutes in. Once it lands it can only be extracted surgically.

There is so much more room for experimentation in pop/rock that can venture into new territory and yet remain catchy and instantly resonate. Women were comfortable operating within this space. The album itself and the ST before it are legendary stuff, and so is the continued work by Flegel under Cindy Lee.

I’ve written on “Heavy Metal” here, as “pretty captivating, and contorts the space of any room into which it is freed.” A sentence I don’t remember writing but am very happy to find here, reminding me that sometimes articulation happens and it isn’t just incoherent rambling, desperately melting down thesauri and clumsily reconstituting them.

TRACK | Cousins – Secret Weapon

5/5 golden merles

From Halifax circa 2011, rumble and awe ground up in sequences of noise, Cousins’ “Secret Weapon” sounds like the lifting of a curse or at least one annulled by the reckoning.

Essentially it is rock music but for the sake of killing space and in line with the great and proud tradition of hair splitting, there are the evidentiary threads of lo-fi garage and grunge pop.

Returning to the old playlists, the track is a great relief after sorting through the protean forms of demo submissions and gauntlet of prospective tabs, navigating nascent piles mostly before they become fit for consumption. This is, in contrast, well rendered and sterling sludge.

It can be got in red vinyl physical form from the myriad vendors of discogs or check also 2014’s full length The Halls Of Wickwire ordered direct.

TRACK | Glittering Prizes – GP

5/5 golden merles

This Glittering Prizes blazing self-titled EP was created by Kevin Bell & Allie Torrance of Hamilton, Ontario. It reaches out to us from the good old days of two thousand and seventeen CE, an extremely negligible distinction along a geological timescale.

The EP is composed of a very fine set of highly undervalued, rampant lo-fi pop tunes.

My favorite track of the set is the opener “GP,” a sort of stereophonic blend of shimmering rhythm guitars, magnetic synths, and gently obscured vocalization.

The track is sacred, sharp and sinuous. You can purchase it here and somewhere in the region of 85% of that revenue will go to the artists. Or at the very least it will be sent to a PayPal address they may not have checked in awhile.

TRACK | Print Head – Can You Complain

5/5 golden merles

All along the length and breadth of Happy Happy & Hardcore Pop Print Head have constructed a balanced audio experience with remarkable depth and detail to get agreeably lost in.

For €2 EUR you’re not likely going to get a better bargain of lo-fi art-pop any time soon. As I write, one tape remains, also, if you’d like it mailed from Valencia.

I know my dear friend Darcy of Ought has found himself with some US Girls in the new band Cola. Firetalk are trawling the talented depths of the freakfolk/art rock scenes and coming up with many gems. But it sounds like maybe he is here as well, at least in spirit, sounding off in the resounding of the caterwaul, the bellow.

TRACK | Chad Vangaalen – Hangman’s Son

5/5 golden merles

Chad Vangaalen is another one of them on the list of greatest living songwriters that I am aware of and can comprehend. Clinically Dead, Willow Tree, Molten Light, Hangman’s son, are all tracks I will hopefully feature in this pleasant void.

I think of the line “I wake up early in the afternoon, just so I can call ’em as I see ’em comin,” probably once every other day, and additionally at other random intervals, “the priest told the brothers that she could not be killed.”

Hangman’s Son is itself worthy of this treatment, of etching into the gray matter:

Oh, have mercy / on the demons that cursed me, baby.
Oh, Lay it on me / When my time has come /
and I don’t have the sense to run.

TRACK | Mother Sun – Mycelium

5/5 golden merles

First, my friend John sent me this track, appearing as it did in his own scouting. And then several days later it came up for me on Submithub during one of the long stretches of reviews… a mostly pleasant gauntlet of articulation and credit acquisition which we undergo in attempt to receive equally coherent reciprocities.

And sometimes it happens.

In fact, my continued digital intubation of this blog is at least in very real part due to the kindnesses paid me by Jon Doyle (Different Jon, there are two Johns referenced here, one per paragraph, one of the ‘H,’ one without) of, and his kindness and coherence incarnate regarding some thing I did.

During this vile game of tit for tat I wrote, creating content upon the content:

“Sunny as heck and wavy. Good. straight out strong, vocals, synth and drum. The writer definitely has a good understanding and/or an interesting misunderstanding of language. Starts very strong. would prefer it ends after 120 seconds, of course, as is my preferred method of ingesting sun. but pleasant throughout. Good work my Canadian comrades.”

And I stand by that. It is good and sunny and wavy. If you like these things: go, see them.