Wednesday, January 1, 2014



When a band writes me and says something like 'we are a psychedelic band who…', they can stop right there. Sold! I am always interested in anything from the tried and true style from the sixties to further modern explorations. The Black Waves has all the great spacey moves down like their fellow 'Black' bands, the Black Angels and the Black Lips. They shape their sound into a rock drone mixture that makes me think of Echo and the Bunnymen, if Echo couldn't come up with clever hooks and instead went deeper into drone. This band still have enough melodic moves here, so it is far cry from background music. And they vary the instrumentation later on in the album to really add some spark. This reminds me of a more historically placed Spacious Mind or a slightly Euro post punk Black Angels. There are many fine psychedelic rock bands out there and the Black Waves can clearly be added to that list. They are from France, so I won't expect to see them in a DC club right away, but with this kind of talent, I hope it can happen some time.

Songs to try first:

The Shepherd - This establishes the rock based drone style with a comforting vocal workout as well.

Electric Waves - A slower, somewhat menacing song as the descending pattern grows louder and fuzzier.

Levitation - No, not the 13th Floor Elevators, but a Floydian beginning moving into something closer to Woven Hand meets International Harvester.


This local band has released this five song EP and have managed to come up with a sound that is capable of standing out. They take a relaxed psychedelic folk approach but add elements of California rock along with modern indie rock in the mix. "Cellar Floor" is a fine song with great dual vocals that is made even more brilliant with a crazed slide lead guitar (sounding like a wild slide whistle pattern for the guitar). There is an outsider off-the-grid feeling in here at times. And at other moments, I get glimpses of intriguing bands like Gravy Train, such as in "Captain and Crew" with its loads of flute. This is definitely a band I want to see some time in 2014, since I missed them in their initial year of operation.

And we all get the chance to see them live at the DC9 this January 29th.


It is the holiday season, so it is time to head back home to family and friends. For me, that is Dayton, Ohio, and it was this trip home that brought me to this record album with two of the four band members being veterans of my Dayton punk/hardcore/artcore scene many decades back. And although I do not often poetically hear the history of a music scene in new music, this record has all of that and more. There are equal doses hardcore intensity along with alt metal sounds and moves. There is early punk vocal stylings and art damage musical moves to veer into. The unrelenting approach keeps the music thick and powerful and it gushes out with great sleaze-rock guitar challenges made by the two axe wielders. This was a blast from the present and this band could knock down a few walls in the DC clubs--hope they make it out some time.

Songs to try first:

Des Moinesermaker - The opening cut establishes the Dark Backward mood with dark and thick guitars over a pummeling rhythm section.

Reject Yourself - A cover of a classic 100 Flowers song done with all the appropriate intensity and Wire-esque monster drones.

Supermundane - Anything, but.


These local bar room stomp specialists have done quite well in a relatively short time and are back with another fine album to lay claim to the most foot stomping, beer swilling country honky tonk rock band to walk the streets of DC. You could swear they were from California as they pull together the western side of country with a bit of rockabilly, blues and Byrdsian guitar rock worked in. But when a song called "I Need My Ass Kicked" has a chorus that feats a chorus using the word 'culminating', then I guess there is a little DC in here after all. They are a blast live and thankfully they capture that quite well on this ten song album. The instruments are as clean as the topics are dirty (in a pleasant sort of way) and the band revs them up with just the right amount of energy to get them rocking, while retaining the roots at the heart of the song. There are alternating and harmonizing lead vocals between a man and a woman, which leads to a wide variety of tones and emotions. The Highballers continue to roll down the dusty old highway that runs between these big city buildings.

Come on out to the Iota on Saturday, January 11th to enjoy the rollicking live show and pick up a hot, freshly pressed slab of vinyl or CD.

Songs to try first:

Fire and Smoke - This one just crackles with guitars cutting notes around the crisp rhythm patterns

Lula's Gone - Gutsy Americana rocker with both the twang and the power and a great female vocal (+ harmonies).

King of the Plains - Sounds like some brilliant early 1960s cowboy ballad reimagined by the Sadies.


This seven song EP has a modern warm psychedelic vibe to it, perhaps trisecting a point between Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, and Tunng. I like the dreamy vocals and there is some interesting music being made here. It gets a little too sleepy for me by the seventh song of this EP, as I would have liked a few songs to show some contrast. Another approach would be to add something soft but not as relaxing as much of the tones are in these cuts. It is an interesting approach that should do well and I would not mind seeing what they can create on stage. There is talent at work here.

And you can join me in seeing what they can do at the Black Cat on Wednesday, February 5th.


This EP has four songs by Justyn with a Y of the local band New Canada. This side project has all the signature American style psychedelic folk moves that he manages in much of the music he writes. And even though these are home recordings, there is a lot of clever work within the arrangements. This manages to create an alternate world to explore with the music, which is the goal for most anyone dabbling in psyche-folk. It is an enjoyable EP by itself and I would encourage people to check it out. In fact, this kind of music (and always a couple of others I encounter every month) is a perfect example of the pleasures of challenging yourself to explore music beyond both the mainstream and the well publicized hip scene. There are so many rewards with fresh oddball music someone is putting out from their bedroom as well as the obscure record with the odd cover in some used record store. Challenge yourself and keep exploring.


I am really enjoying several bands tackling psychedelic pop music these days. Painted Palms does some of this here and are quite successful at it. It is a little edgier with more rhythmic thrust and rock strength, so for music fans that like a bit of heft, they should not be disappointed. Still, the catchy hooks in the vocal work is the starting point with these songs. I slightly prefer the dreamier 1960s sound, but this post punk popsike fusion is a nice alternative twist to that and should pull in a lot of intelligent music lovers out there in listening land. Yet this should work magnificently when played live on stage.

Songs to try first:

Too Hight - Always start with an opener if it captures the core sounds and this one does.

Forever - I like the mix of old synth rock sound with the post punk rhythm bursts and sunny vocals.

Soft Hammer - A dreamy and odd long excursion into jarring ambience?


Presto Bando is no more, but their significant trailing memory is hefty enough to support one more release. This album is played by the guitarist and bassist, with plenty of extra instruments by both (and Brandon Ables on guitar has been a full time drummer previously, so percussion is aplenty here). All the signature elements are here: fluid bass runs, jagged guitar runs, twisted vocals, creative themes, and a surprise or more around every corner of every song. This is a long player so it is not for the faint of heart. This band, like sea urchin, is an acquired taste. When you get there the complexities and individual talent, skill, and creative flair will make it worth it. Yet there is something that is always difficult with a posthumous release like this. It is hard to cut loose and enjoy as you know it is the last… at least the last of this version.

Songs to try first:

San Francisco - The opener is quite catchy and would be a hit single in more interesting universe.

Energy - The skronky energy builds well as this freaks out while retaining its form.

Life Without End - The classic is finally recorded.


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