Friday, April 23, 2010

The Return of Heavy Psych - Featuring JPT Scare Band, The Dolly Rocker Movement, and Seaspin

Rumdum DaddyJPT Scare Band - Rumdum Daddy

As I write this, an Icelandic volcano has grounded jet liners over a good portion of the world.  In my opinion, if it wasn’t the volcano putting a stop to air traffic, it would’ve been this eruptive new disc by the legendary JPT Scare Band.  And I don’t toss out that metaphor frivolously.  From the first time I  heard these Acid Rock pioneers plying their distinctly original blend of fuming hot jams and molten acid excursions, a picture of a spewing volcano was what came to mind.  Searing hot, flowing like boiling magma, eruptive in force, and seismically heavy.  That’s JPT.  And everything any JPT fan has every loved about the band can be found right here in Rumdum Daddy.

Starting off with the subtle, yet simmering “You Don’t Want to Know,” somethings become immediately apparent.  First, Terry Swope is without a doubt the world’s most unheralded guitarist.  His fingers boil across the strings, leaving shimmering fiery paths in his wake.  Whether slower and nuanced, as on this song, or tearing the strings apart with earth-quaking might and power, Terry’s tone is always perfect.  His notes flow and flood together like that boiling magma, at times faster than the human ear can detect the spaces in between.  Most importantly, he doesn’t noodle for noodling sake. As much as the band loves to jam, each note is fiercely selected, determined in tone and quality.  Each note tells a story, each note is a vital part of the overall lava flow.

Adding to that intensity, Paul Grigsby and Jeff Littrell are a rhythm section of world class power.  They do so much more than simply keep time.  Together, they lock the groove in place with Teutonic intensity, creating some semblance of terra firma for Terry to stand on while his fingers flare.  Paul’s bass is the secret weapon, thick and dirty, always clearing the path with it’s long looping bass line, nailing down the backbone of the song, building when Jeff joins in with his intuitive style.  Together they clear a wide swath for the terror and destruction that follows in Terry’s wake. A power trio in the purest sense of the word.

Never is this synergy felt more strongly than on the devastation that is “Rat Poison for the Soul.”  It only took one moment into the song, when I first heard that monstrous, seismically heavy riff, for me to fall in love.  This is earth-shattering rock and roll at it’s finest. Thirty years into the game and the boys can still unleash it just as mean and nasty as ever.  As monolithic as “Rat Poison” is, “Rumdum Daddy,” may be my favorite song on the disc.  Starting off with some simply gorgeous guitar tones, undermined by Paul’s rolling bass, “Rumdum Daddy” is an exploration of moods and tones.   Terry’s voice, always an under-rated instrument, searches for new emotion here, digging down into the lower registers of his tenor, then sailing into the upper reaches of his range.  And then there’s that guitar solo!  Strings bend and dip, sparks fly, earth moves, volcanoes explode.

No JPT album would be complete without a couple of free-form, spontaneous jam sessions and Rumdum Daddy doesn’t disappoint with three of them, my favorite being the finale, “Bookends Jam.”  Starting off with Terry’s guitar in a heart-searching solo, Jeff drops in with a few pounds of the tom, before Terry loses himself in swirling plumes of ash and smoke.  Turn off the lights.  Close the curtains.  This song should be reverberating off the glassware of every bong ever made, slowly finding it’s way, exploring, until . . . 2:38 into the song, the explosion happens.  Terry’s fingers sear across the strings in fiery flares of intensity.  Paul and Jeff lock in behind him, Terry’s fingers ignite and the whole damn volcano explodes again.

Having heard this, it should come as no surprise that JPT Scare Band were the first band we signed to our new indie label, Ripple Music.  That’s right.  Coming at you this June, expect to see the first Ripple release, Acid Blues is the White Man’s Burden on CD and double-LP, gatefold, multi-colored vinyl.  More JPT Scare Band to come your way.

Earth-shattering rock ‘n’ roll at it’s peak!

Buy here: Rumdum Daddy

The Dolly Rocker Movement - Our Days Mind the Tyme

I know I shouldn’t have been surprised by this.  Bad Afro Records has already proven themselves to be one of my absolute favorite labels, digging deep into the bowels of the earth to uncover one glorious gem of fuzzed out, psychedelic pop after another.  They did it to me with Setting Son.  They did it again with Baby Woodrose.  So why did I doubt that they’d be able to launch another perfectly aimed tie-dyed arrow into my steely heart?

Oh, me of little faith.  For surely, Bad Afro has done it again, and this time the object of my drooling affection is this absolutely glorious disc by Aussies, The Dolly Rocker Movement.  With all the garage and retro-neo-psych I listen to here at the Ripple office, I keep expecting to get burned out, but so far, that hasn’t happened.  If anything, charming new releases like this third effort by Sydney’s Dolly Rocker Movement have got me more excited than ever about this scene.  TDRM mix some bare-bones framework of T. Rex with a pastiche of swirling organs, chiming guitars, soft looping bass runs, and more hooks than can be found at a hanger factory.  Each song on this disc comes across like some tasty treat, some delicious morsel, just waiting for my consumption.

 “The Only One,” starts off with it’s amazing wash of retro organ and acoustic guitars.  Daniel Poulter has an affecting voice for his songs, laced with glam and drama, bringing forth each moment of emotion and melody.   “Sold For Sinners,” drops the glammy vibe back down into the garage with the cum-‘60’s organ washings and the drop dead melody.   “A Sound for Two,” is as gentle and pastoral as any of the early Cambridge-prog of the ’60’s with its strains of harpsichord and strings.  While “My Heavenly Way,” simply rocks and grooves on it’s oil-stained, do-the-swim beat.  Damn, this song is so good, I defy you to play it for any  one and not get some butt-swinging in return.  Bring out the lava lamps, the hip huggers and the funny little cigarettes.  This one’s a keeper.

Don’t think that the genre melding of those previous songs in any way creates a dischordant listen.  Far from it.  The ability of the band to mine its fertile field of neo-psych pop, while dabbling in the soil of other sounds is one of the things that makes TDRM stand out.  Whether it’s the paisley of “Memory Layne” or the T-Rextascy of “The Ecstacy Once Told” TDRM do it all flawlessly, effortlessly.  Beautifully.

Thank you Bad Afro.  You’ve done it to me again.

Buy here

ReverserSeaspin – Reverser EP

Other than having a name that made me feel slighty light-headed and in search of a Dramamine, Seaspin were a total unknown to me when the disc was tossed on my desk by our fearless mailman, Sal.  Watching Sal licking his fingers after dropping it off should have been a hint that what waited for me was a tasty treat.  And tasty it is indeed.

Seaspin conjure up a positively dreamy, smoke-drenched strain of psychedelic dream pop.  Imagine Ripple favorites, Apteka, fronted by a woman who’s voice has the ability to send your conscious into flights of erotic hallucinations, and you’ll begin to get the picture.  Over these 5 tracks, Seaspin flow over an expanse of dreaminess that varies from the vaguely Janes Addiction-esque churning turmoil of “Love is a Fable” with it’s buzzing guitars, swirling keyboards, and undulating dance beat, to the neo-Cocteau Twins vague lovliness of “Dream Life.”   Vocalist Jennifer Goodridge carries both tones with ease, her voice always floating some where just above the music, just above my head, somewhere near my dreams.  Meanwhile, guitarist Ronnie Washburn alternates from laying down some surprisingly heavy tones with moments of pure romantic restraint. The sound is lush and layered, incredibly dense, but not claustrophobic.  Rather it breathes within it's own textures and rhythms.  It is heavy and light all within the same breath.

The biggest problem I had with this disc was the effort it took me to allow the CD changer to move off of “Love is a Fable” to the next track.  That song is just so simply perfect, I never wanted it to end.  Give me the 15 minute expanded version.  Hell, the 30 minute ultra-expanded cut.  Loop it for me, let it be a sound track to my day.  I’m good.

But move on the CD does and of course the rest of the disc is just as powerful.  I’ve already alluded to the gentleness of “Dream Life,” with it’s gorgeous harmony vocals and vague Mamas and Papas-'60's-ish melodies.  Then, as beautiful as “Dream Life” was,  “Give Yourself” is the anger that follows.  The crush of the ending relationship, played out with crunching guitars, swirling harmonies, and manic drumming.  “Reverser,” raves with an indy pop sensibility while “The Way You Move,” ebbs and flows with dissonance, groove and noise pop.

Then, if you’re like me, you’ll hit the repeat button and start all over with “Love is a Fable” again.


buy here: Reverser

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