Kris Thompson has worn a path through the local scene’s back lawn with time spent in BOBB TRIMBLE’S FLYING SPIDERS, THE PREFAB MESSIAHS, ABUNAI!, CONCORD BALLET ORCHESTRA PLAYERS, NISI PERIOD, THE LOTHARS, and TWILIGHT TIPI. Currently, The Prefab Messiahs are mixing some new material (their first in 30 years!) with Doug Tuttle and Jesse Gallagher.
As always, I was totally swamped by great new sounds from all over this past year. This assortment is a drop in the bucket — but it all sounded boss, so dig on the sights and sounds. Sorry to be a bit short on the verbiage — but the noise is what counts, yeah?
Alpha order by group name here…
– CHROME – Half Machine From the Sun: The Lost Tracks ’79-80 (Pledge)
Very exciting to have these previously-unfinished tracks from the early 80’s discovered by Helios Creed and gussied up this year with (we assume) group founder Damon Edge’s blessing from beyond the grave. It presents a somewhat more “rock” orientation than their first few albums, but still retains Chrome’s inspired and unique synth/psych/art-punk character. How great to have their legacy updated by this. Looks like some touring & further recording are being planned too, with Helios having just put together a new Chrome lineup.
– FUCK BUTTONS – Slow Focus (ATP Recordings)
You’d think that it’d be hard to be distinctive with “heavy noise-drone” by this point, but no. These Fuckers are grinding away with renewed vigor, and sweet buzzing textures. There’s a prominent mechanical/”industrial” feel — although not in the beaten-to-death sense — and just enough atmosphere to temper that to a tasty balance. I missed their 2013 show at Sinclair w/ Lichens… dagnabbit!…
– HERBCRAFT – Astral Body Electric (Woodsist)
This makes it three years in a row for Herbcraft on my Hassle list. What can I say? They’ve got my blissed-out kosmische number dialed right in. Recorded by Doug Tuttle during their 2011-2012 quartet phase, and mastered by Matt Valentine with his spaced-‘n’-dubby “Spectrasound” techniques. These tracks are multidimensional tapestries for heady flights — and “devotional” in the best sense of the word — so take yer mind/spirit connection for a swim in this sturdy ‘Craft.
“>HOOKWORMS – Pearl Mystic (Weird World)
This Leeds UK band is somewhat mysterious, with the members only ever giving their initials — because apparently they don’t want anything to distract from the business of bringing the noise. The mystery is reflected in their dark and cavernous sounds, which veer from detached introspection to propulsive grit & menace. My bud Tom Gilmore saw them at the Liverpool Psych Fest back in September…the lucky dawg.
LORELLE MEETS THE OBSOLETE – Corruptible Faces (Captcha)
Originally from Gudalajara, Mexico, they’ve since popped up to CA — and did I hear they’d even moved to Chicago now? Anyway, it was great catching them in a JP basement back in June and picking up this killer LP of theirs. A combustible fuel mix of woozy psych & shoegaze ensures immersive listening, and Mr. Obsolete isn’t afraid to kick in some over-the-top distortion to kick things up to the next cloud level.
MIND SPIDERS – Inhumanistic (Dirtnap)
These Dallas punk-blasted power-poppers have elements of garage psych, Ramonesy blast, glimpses of 80’s synth menace, and — in this clip — some Marc Bolan (T. Rex) swagger. Give ’em a fair shake, and they’ll end up hitting your Rock sweet spot over and over.
MOONRISES – Frozen Altars (Captcha)
Chicago’s Steve “Plastic Crimewave” Krakow — he of the hand-drawn Galactic Zoo Dossier zine — has assembled what’s perhaps his trippiest aggregation yet. I was lucky enough to take in a live set of theirs (with Herbcraft) downstairs at Deep Thoughts JP back in May. Their excellent LP is a transporting and dimension-shifting affair — by turns hazy, churning, ethereal and ecstatic.
TELSTAR SOUND DRONE – Comedown (Bad Afro)
Telstar Sound Drone shares a couple of member’s (with fellow Danes) Baby Woodrose. They’re a distinctly more spaced-out affair, yet still with a full and exhilarating propulsiveness. If you love great psych-rock like Spacemen 3 or The Telescopes, you’ll lap this up greedily.
WHITE FENCE – Cyclops Reap (Castle Face)
White Fence, headed by Tim Presley (also of Darker My Love), is one of the most distinctive and refreshing bands in the current blowed-way-up neo-garage scene. With a breezy & uncomplicated small-studio approach, they conjure a sound that’s truly unique — like reverbed-out Monkees/Syd Barrett collaboration demos, with an occasional George Harrison-esque solo rips. The band’s live approach is necessarily a louder/fuller beast, and they were one of the more raucously joyous acts that I caught at the most recent Austin Psych Fest (May 2013).
WIRE – Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)
Although having hit some monumental post-punk and experimental rock highs, Wire haven’t kept me in constant sway during their 37-year(!!) career. But then again, who could? Change Becomes Us is composed of new recordings, but ones for which they revisited their 1979-80 scrapbook of unused songs and ideas — including songs from that time that they’d played live but hadn’t ever “properly recorded.” The results are a real treat, finding the band firing on all pistons with engaged creativity. Let’s hope this vibe spills over onto their next project too.
PS – Thanks to everyone who checked into these releases I was on this year…
BOBB TRIMBLE – The Flying Spiders in Brooklyn (Burger Records)
THE PREFAB MESSIAHS – Devolver (reissue, Burger Records)
ABUNAI! – Universal Mind Decoder (reissue, Krauted Mind Records, Germany)
And FYI… most of my (non-vinyl) listenings are captured here for embarrassment and posterity