Category Archives: LP

RIVENER – Rivener LP

Album: Rivener LP

Artist: Rivener

Label: Twin Lakes/These Are Not Records

Release Date: October 20, 2017 /

The Upshot: For staunch fans of guitar/percussion psych and improve inclined to host wine-tastings and silent auctions (not). Get it on wax, natch.


Sometimes the press sheet and bio says it better, so allow me to quote, regarding New Haven cosmonauts Rivener:

“Lysergic, shape-shifting explorations of no wave, noise, free-jazz, and psych, with some elements rooted loosely in the rock tradition.”

Now, lest you think the above stratagem is a lazy reviewer’s cheat, fear not. Amid multiple spins of this heavy duty (how heavy? Thick 180gm black wax, heavy…) sonic sojourn, I detect scores of nuances designed to tweak my inner Prog, Kosmiche, and Noize teenager; but just as I could not summon, as a musical neophyte of a teen, the requisite verbiage to translate into words what was echoing through my cranial columns, here in 2017, it’s almost as if this no-overdubs/minimal-edits duo is determined to thwart the quick-with-a-description crowd—and more goddam power to them.

This, a collaboration between the Twin Lakes and These Are Not Records labels, and their follow-up to last year’s Svengali Gaze, finds guitarist/keyboardsman Paul Belbusti and drummer Michael Kiefer initially dropping the listener down into the middle of what some of my unreconstructed hippie friends might mistake for a heretofore undocumented middle section of “Dark Star” circa 1969-70. But nevermind the Dick’s Picks, here’s “It Takes A Pillage” coming on the heels of “Noiren,” in which the pair’s more focused percussive leanings come into play via a roiling, mutating, POV-changing series of sonic extrapolations that would make even the most devoted Sonic Youth tape archivist turn green with envy. Much later, deep into side B of the LP, Rivener moves into more groove-oriented territory (term used loosely) thanks to some apocalyptic rumblings during the lengthy “Discoveries of Fire (Saints, preserve us)” and the downright tunefully lyrical “Tsardana,” a kind of Middle Eastern modal mantra that all you lapsed Savage Republic fans might readily embrace.

Challenging? Depends on one’s aural proclivities. Suitable for wine tastings and silent auctions? Um, probably not. Life affirming? Oh, yes. Yes.

DOWNLOAD: “Tsardana,” “It Takes a Pillage”

DIVISIONISTS – Daybreak LP (orange vinyl)

Album: Daybreatk LP

Artist: Divisionists

Label: Mount Watatic

Release Date: March 17, 2017

The Upshot: A near-perfect blast of visceral psychedelia and blissed-out power pop that yields earworm after earworm.


Devotees of latterday psychedelia surely shed more than a few tears when New England quartet Abunai! called it a day in the early ‘00s, after a fruitful 1996-01 run that yielded three critically acclaimed full-lengths. There have been the inevitable reunion shows over the years, but for the most part the members have concentrated on their post-Abunai! projects, and with Divisionists, formed by guitarist Brendan Quinn, we have a combo that not only builds upon that psychedelic legacy, it definitively merges psych with power pop and shoegaze for one of the freshest-yet-familiar albums of 2017 to date.

Quinn, a multi-instrumentalist whose solo albums have featured appearances by fellow Abunai! alumni, the Bevis Frond gang and other indie avatars, and spotlighted, in particular, his fingerstyle guitar virtuosity, is based in London these days and is joined by guitarist/synth man Mark Bennett, bassist Mike Whitaker, and drummer Rob McGregor. In 2012 they released the “we play rock music…” EP to good notices, but with the arrival earlier this year of the “Say Can You” single, all bets were immediately off for Divisionists. A hi-nrg blast of chiming, fuzzed-out guitars and soaring, ecstatic vocals, it conjured classic images of everyone from Teenage Fanclub, Ride, and Matthew Sweet, to Byrds, Crazy Horse, and Velvet Underground. That, along with followup “Dream Landscape,” a moodier, drifting/droning ballad that adds Big Star to the pop rogues list, are  obvious highlights on Daybreak’s first side, although that’s not to say that any of the other tunes are slackers. Far from it—just check the gospellish vocals and rippling guitars of “Alone” or a luminous cover of the Velvets’ “Pale Blue Eyes.”

Flip the record and the delights keep coming, from the warm, womblike sonic cocoon that is “Colors (Song For a Spaceman)”—for you influences trainspotters, listen for the modal, almost Quicksilver Messenger Service-like fretwork—to the straight-up jangle pop of “Little Margaret” to the dark, explosive, feedback-laden, space-rocking “We Must Be Careful,” which, at seven minutes, has ample time to ebb and explode in a prismic burst of dynamics, tones, and textures. All in all, a remarkable record that repays successive listens with earworm after earworm. All those above comparisons to icons? Believe it.

Consumer Note: The album, available at the above Bandcamp link for the record label (which is run by Quinn and Lisa Makros, who also guests as a backing vocalist) or at the group’s Bandcamp page (which compiles a slew of ecstatic reviews), comes in digital or vinyl formats—180gm orange wax, to be specific, and it is a visual, tactile feast. Included is a download code as well as a full-sized, four-page insert for credits, lyrics, and photos. I call that going the extra mile, and it is truly appreciated, gentlemen.

DOWNLOAD: “Say Can You,” “Freedom,” “Colors (Song For a Spaceman)”