Category Archives: Vinyl records

Record Store Day Titles – Including Schoolkids Records’ Bettie Serveert LP & Veldt 45


Our sister business gets in the, er, business of limited edition vinyl for this year’s event…


That’s why they call it Record Store Day — because it’s the one day of the year you definitely need to get your ass out to your local independent record dealer. How do we know this? Because we are partnered up with North Carolina indie chain Schoolkids Records, of course! Our sister business will be busy as hell, like usual, on April 22, helping you, the discriminating music consumer score all that limited edition vinyl you live and die by.


Which, this time around, will include our very own RSD release – beloved Dutch rockers Bettie Serveert will have their Damaged Good vinyl LP released on the Schoolkids Records label, and it’s a good ‘un, limited to 100 copies. Below, you can hear a couple of tracks from the album.

We also have an exclusive Schoolkids release from NC’s The Veldt, the “Symmetry” / “Slow Grid” 7″ 45, limited to 450 copies. Need I say it’s a good ‘un as well? Check the official video for the A side:

Meanwhile, what else will be dropping this year? How about David Bowie, unreleased Smiths, live Springsteen, Iggy and Lou Reed, Prince 12”ers, Spacemen 3, Patti Smith, Madonna, the Fall, Fleetwood Mac, the Chemical Brothers, Neil Young, The Chills, Sun Ra, Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus (no, not together), Jason Isbell, Sharon Jones, Air, Motörhead, Ramones, the Cure, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins, the Sex Pistols, U2, the Raincoats, Priests, Hudson Mohawke, Art of Noise, Elastica… whew. Go to the link for the full, downloadable list: here for the U.S. and here for the UK.

And in addition to the Bettie Serveert tracks, you might want to check out this, um, quirky Funny or Die video from St. Vincent, who is the official Ambassador for RSD 2017. Or maybe that’s the country of Recorstorda…


ROCKIN’ IS MA BUSINESS: Blurt’s Rock & Roll Roundup Pt.3


And business is good, whether your thing is punk, power pop, garage rock, rockabilly, glam, action rock, and their various spinoffs and offshoots. Our guarantee to you: no Nickelback allowed. Go HERE to read Dr. Denim’s first installment of the series, and HERE for Pt. 2.  Above: No, that’s not the Runaways ya dummy  – it’s Heavy Tiger, gettin’  ready for some heavy pettin’. (FYI: links to key audio and video tracks follow the main text.)



Wyldlife smartly has a boot in two camps. Based in NYC, the band has a firm grounding in the glammy proto punk and roughhewn power pop that emanated from its city back in the ‘70s. When it came time to record its second full-length, however, the group decamped to Atlanta, home of rising pop & roll saviors Biters and their brethren, and the joie de vivre of  recording in a sympathetic environment certainly makes its impression. Out On Your Block (Wicked Cool) doesn’t so much veer from one stylistic variation to another so much as cram them together, powering the singalong choruses of “Keepsake” and “Bandita” with the reckless energy of a Mercer Arts Center freakout. The band zooms through the tracks like its members mistook amphetamines for sugar pills in their morning coffee, but never sound out of control – tight but loose in the grand rock & roll tradition. Sounding for all the world like a mind meld of the New York Dolls and the Plimsouls, Out On Your Block reeks with the pure joy of taking smartly crafted tunes and making a big-ass racket.


Seattle’s Cheap Cassettes apply similar makeup to their boyish faces on their debut LP All Anxious, All the Time (Rum Bar). As leader of the long-gone Dimestore Haloes, frontguy Charles Matthews has a long history of banging out tuneful constructions with bullshit-free flair, and he continues his good work on pleasure-button mashing popsters “Get Low,” “Big Dumb Town” and “My Little Twin.” Maine-to-Spain transplant Kurt Baker adds a bit of Detroit power and L.A. flash to a similar recipe on Shot Through the Heart(Rum Bar), the first full-length from Bullet Proof Lovers. That doesn’t mean power pop hero Baker (joined here by various Spanish r’n’r luminaries) has suddenly gone hard ‘n’ heavy, but it does give “On Overdrive” and “Heart of Stone” a fist-pumping, lighter-waving rush and “All I Want” and “Take It or Leave It” a punky, street rock attack. Unusually for bands like this, the second half of the record is actually stronger than the first.

Heavy Tiger - Glitter - Artwork

With a sly grin and blazing attack, power trio Heavy Tiger blasts out of Stockholm with Glitter (Wild Kingdom). The colorful hooks of ‘70s glam rock entwine with the no-nonsense charge of mid-’70s hard rock, before being violated by late ‘70s punk. Riding Maja Linn’s gritty vocals (not unlike Muffs’ leader Kim Shattuck’s) as much as the big-ass guitars, “I Go For the Cheap Ones” and “Feline Feeling” deliver an irresistible opening one-two punch. But the band keeps the hits a-comin’, whether it’s more burning rockers like “Keeper of the Flame,” rousing glam rock like “Devil May Care” (written for the band by the Ark’s Ola Soma) or loud power pop a la “Starshaped Badge and Gun Shy.” The glitter in the album’s title dusts denim vests and ripped jeans.


Back in the bad old days of the late ‘80s, glammed-up quartet Enuff Z’nuff got shoved into the hair metal ghetto, which might’ve been fine had the band gotten the same hits and success as its West Coast peers. (Indeed, it’s an association the band has never shunned.) Unlike its mousse-abused pals, though, the Chicago band fell more heavily on the Cheap Trick and Sweet side of the pop metal street than on the Aerosmith/Starz side. Clowns Lounge (Frontiers) has a few squealing guitar solos, but otherwise leans on vocal harmonies, glittery melodies and big power pop hooks. “Rockabye Dreamland” resembles Jellyfish more than Def Leppard, while “Back in Time” and “Radio” sound more like homeboys Urge Overkill than Aerosmith. It hearkens back to the band’s first couple of albums, which is no surprise, given that it consists of songs reworked from the days before EZ’s 1989 debut LP. That means most of the songs feature original vocalist Donnie Vie, which will set OG fans’ rods a-twirl. Then there’s “The Devil of Shakespeare,” which features, as guests, late Warrant singer Jani Lane, Styx guitarist James Young and – as a ringer? – 20/20 co-leader Ron Flynt. Go figure.


Covers collections usually denote a lack of new material on an artist’s part, regardless of the official line. That said, the Connection has been awfully prolific the past few years and can be forgiven if the urge to hit the studio overtook the effort to write new songs. On Just For Fun! (Rum Bar), the Boston boppers bash through a batch of obvious influences (the Dictators’ “Stay With Me,” Cheap Trick’s “Southern Girls,” Gary Lewis & the Playboys’ “I Can Read Between the Lines,” Dave Edmunds’ “Other Guys Girls”) and left-fielders (George Thorogood’s “Get a Haircut,” the Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations,” Bob Seger’s “Get Out of Denver,” “Streets of Baltimore,” the Harlan Howard song recorded by Bobby Bare and Gram Parsons). The band’s reverence for pre-21st century pop reaches its effervescent apex on a faithfully executed take on Syl Sylvain’s timeless “Teenage News,” its ‘billy and bubblegum delirium right in the Connection’s wheelhouse. A stone hoot, Just For Fun! lives up to its title.


The Jigsaw Seen draw from many of the same ‘60s and ‘70s touchstones as the Connection, though they’re filtered through such a personal vision that the L.A. act has always sounded unmoored from time itself. That applies even to For the Discriminating Completist (Burger), a collection of singles, EP tracks and alternate mixes of tunes from across the band’s nearly 30-year career. Echoes of the Who, the Creation, the Kinks and the Move resound, but on “Jim is the Devil,” “My Name is Tom” and “Celebrity Interview,” the Seen always sounds most like itself. That applies even to covers of the Bee Gees, Love, Henry Mancini and the Frank Sinatra/Tony Bennett standard “The Best is Yet to Come.”

Stoneage Hearts

The Stoneage Hearts take many of those same influences and beat them with a Nuggets stick, as found on Turn On With (Off the Hip), a reissue of the band’s 2002 debut. The Australian trio’s sugar ‘n’ spice mix of grinning power pop and rough-hewn R&B-flavored garage rock cuts any hint of crap in order to get down to the business of hooks, harmonies and tunes as good as “So Glad (That You’re Gone)” and “Stranded On a Dateless Night.”


Australia’s Little Murders have prowled the Melbourne underground for nearly 30 years in various incarnations. The product of the longest-lived version, Hi-Fab! (Off the Hip) distills the quintet’s virtues – simple melodies, ragged harmonies, a nice mix of jangle and crunch – in 33 minutes of power pop rush. Still led by plainspoken singer/songwriter Rob Griffiths, the Murders sound comfortable and confident on the sprightly “She’s the Real Thing,” sweet “Merry Go Round” and driving “Out of Time.”


Perth’s Manikins predated Little Murders, evolving out of the Cheap Nasties, one of Australia’s first punk outfits. (The Nasties also gave us international treasure Kim Salmon of the Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon and Surrealists fame.) From Broadway to Blazes (Manufactured Recordings) collects the band’s entire oeuvre, from demos to singles to self-released cassettes, on two slabs of vinyl, and it’s ninety minutes of power pop perfection. The quartet deftly beats the hell out of melodic sweetness like Bruce Lee fighting a cheerleader, making the winsome “Love at Second Sight” (in two versions), the raw “Street Treat,” the brittle “Losing Touch” and the blazing “Girl Friday” sharp lessons in how to do it right. Melbourne’s Baudelaires keep the Australian garage rock wave flowing with Musk Hill (Off the Hip), a psychedelicized take on three chords and a bunch of youthful angst. Alternating thumping rockers like “Scrapbooker” and “Foxglove” with trippier concoctions like “Whet Denim” and “Snapper Steve” (not to mention a quick dip into the surf music pool with “Life’s Too Short For Longboards”), the young quartet puts the roll back in psych rock.


Manufactured has also taken it upon itself to rescue a couple more early power pop outfits from obscurity. Smart Remarks may have been the house band at the infamous City Gardens in the early ‘80s, but that was as far as the trio’s notoriety ever got. Too bad – the single and EP sides collected on Foreign Fields: 1982-1984 (Manufactured Recordings) are a delight for fans of the form. The band’s new wavey guitar pop reaches catchy potency on the sparkling “Falling Apart (As It Seems)” and “Mary’s Got Her Eye On Me.” New Jersey’s Modulators hail from the same time period, but let ‘60s/’70s roots like the Hollies and the Raspberries show through any new wave colorization on Tomorrow’s Coming (Manufactured Recordings). That 1984 platter was the trio’s sole LP, but here it’s augmented with a ton of demos, singles and unreleased tracks to grow into a 28-track monster of jangly pop glory.

Muffs HBtM

The Muffs’ first two albums are masterclasses on melodipunk, and, while not the runaway successes so many of their peers’ records were, still put the L.A. trio on the map. So what happened with Happy Birthday to Me (Omnivore), the band’s third album? Creatively, nothing – the record is, cut for cut, the Muffs’ strongest, a consistently catchy, beautifully recorded and enthusiastically performed set that should have been the apex of the band’s upward arc. Alas, its then-record company Reprise decided to put their resources elsewhere, and the Muffs were dropped right as the album came out. (Despite this, it has never fallen out of print.) Fortunately, it’s back, all the better to enjoy the spice cake rush of “That Awful Man,” “Outer Space” and “Honeymoon,” the winsome midtempo power pop of “The Best Time Around,” “Keep Holding Me” and “Upside Down,” the 6/8 mania of “All Blue Baby,” the raging snot rock of “Nothing” and the snide country rock (?!) of “Pennywhore.” Plus a rare cover of the Amps’ “Pacer,” a batch of demos and the bandmembers’ informative and entertaining liner notes, including leader Kim Shattuck’s song-by-song commentary.


British guitarist John Hoyles has, to generally excellent results, toiled in the fields of Swedish rock, slinging strings for prog/doom outfit Witchcraft, boogieing spinoff Troubled Horse and glam/power rockers Spiders. For his solo LP Night Flight (Crusher), however, takes more inspiration from punk and pub rock, with no-nonsense songs and maximum production clarity. Outside of the acid folk of “In the Garden” and overtly psychedelic title track, tunes like “Talking About You,” “Before I Leave” and “Minefield” rock righteously and unselfconsciously. Bonus: a cover of former Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis’ “Police Car” that makes Hoyles’ self-professed love of Stiff Records pretty blatant.


Mark “Porkchop” Holder did time in both blues punk act Black Diamond Heavies (of which he was a founding member) and in the arms of addiction. Free of both, the singer/slide guitarist returns to his hometown of Chattanooga, TN, for Let It Slide (Alive Naturalsound), a set of rocking blues that could only come from someone who’s lived a life on the underside. As such Holder wastes no time with virtuosity or fancy production – he and his rhythm section just crank it up and get down to business with a clearly articulated focus a lot of cracker blues slingers could use. Holder’s lack of illusions about where he’s been and how he got there power the snarling choogle of “Disappearing” and menacing country rock of “Stranger” as much as his raw bottleneck work, and his plainspoken vocals sell every syllable. Rough-and-tumble rambles through “Stagger Lee” and “Baby Please Don’t Go” also prove Holder knows how irreverently to treat a couple of pieces of well-traveled (read: overused) classics without losing touch with their essential spirit. “I’ve got no one but myself to blame!” he shouts during the titanic “My Black Name,” the song most likely to be his “Jumping Jack Flash.” That lack of sentimentality gives Let It Slide the conviction to put it in a different category than the usual flash blues slop.

Evil Twin

Australia’s Evil Twin also uses the blues as a jumping off point on its debut Broken Blues (Off the Hip). No revivalists, this pair – nor do they pay homage, unintentional or not, to the White Stripes or the Black Keys. Instead guitarist Jared Mattern and drummer Chris Beechey blast off from the music’s 12-bar origins into loud, grungy rock that’s beholden more to bands Dan Auerbach and Jack White don’t listen to – nothing sounds like Zeppelin, in other words. Led more by Mattern’s measured singing than overwhelming instrumental bombast, dirty slide pound like “Look Into My Mind” and the title track, snarling boogie like “Motor City” and soulful power balladry (!) like “Slow Dance” sound fresh and exciting, the way new classic rock should.


Evil Twin’s country band Power might also argue that the blues is at the heart of its sound, but it’s difficult to tell under the punky crust and general mania on its debut Electric Glitter Boogie (In the Red, though originally released in Australia in 2015; the In The Red LP comes pressed on either red or black vinyl). A deliberate nod to Australia’s legendary hard rock acts Coloured Balls and the Aztecs (names not very familiar to Statesiders, though they might know Aztec leader Billy Thorpe’s later AOR hit “Children of the Sun”), the trio goes over the top with raging riffs, gonzo vocals and an air of barely-contained madness. These boys want to rawk, and when they fire up the wild-eyed boogiepunk of “Slimy’s Chains,” the title track or the band’s eponymous anthem, get with it or get the hell out of the way.


Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Heath Green and the Makeshifters holler back to an earlier era, one when British bands like Humble Pie took soul music into harder rock realms than it was logically prepared for. Luckily, the quartet proves itself far less leadfooted than its predecessors on its self-titled debut LP (Alive Naturalsound). Without throwing any accusations of “authenticity” around, it really seems like coming from the American South gives Green a more natural feel for R&B, gospel and the blues, allowing him to fold his pan-seared shout into the Makeshifters’ hard-rocking crash without having to scream to be heard. The fierce pound of “Living On the Good Side,” chunky shuffle of “Secret Sisters” and sanctified soul of “Ain’t Got God” get the balance between tank and testify just right.


Tom Baker and the Snakes have been one of Boston’s best-kept secrets for a few years now, but with Lookout Tower (Rum Bar), the quintet makes a national splash. Marrying the plainspoken songcraft of heartland rock, the high voltage power of the Motor City and the ramshackle grace of a party-all-night bar band, the Snakes bash out catchy tunes like “High n’ Tight,” “Make It Hurt” and “Needle in the Red” like the Replacements if they’d listened to more classic rock than punk. Three guitars keep the riffs, hooks and jangles churning, and Baker’s ragged-but-oh-so-right voice delivers the exact dose of vulnerable swagger. If you like your rock & roll to worry less about subgenres and more about just getting to the good stuff, Tom Baker is yer man, man.


The combination of Detroit rock royalty Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman, the Visitors, his various solo bands) and James Williamson (the Stooges, of course) is so fraught with potential it would be almost impossible for it to live up to expectations. On its debut EP Acoustic K.O. (Leopard Lady), the pair neatly sidesteps the ambitions thrust upon them by delivering an acoustic EP of tunes associated with Williamson’s time with Iggy Pop. Tek’s gruff plainspokenness gives “I Need Somebody” and “Penetration” a note of gravitas, and the duo’s take on “No Sense of Crime” pulls out an obscurity that’s right in their wheelhouse. Oddly, though, the highlight is the Tek-less instrumental “Night Theme,” a mothballed tune that scans like the soundtrack to a crime-and-punishment TV show.


Check out selected audio and video from the records discussed above:


Tom Baker & the Snakes – Lookout Tower Bandcamp:


The Baudelaires – Musk Hill Bandcamp:


Bullet Proof Lovers – Shot Through the Heart Bandcamp:


The Cheap Cassettes – All Anxious, All the Time Bandcamp:


The Connection – Just For Fun:


Enuff Z’Nuff – “Dog On a Bone”:


Evil Twin – Broken Blues Bandcamp:


Heath Green and the Makeshifters – “Ain’t It a Shame”:


Mark Porkchop Holder – “My Black Name”:


John Hoyles – “Talking About You”:


The Jigsaw Seen – “Jim is the Devil”:


Little Murders – Hi-Fab! Bandcamp:


The Manikins – From Broadway to Blazes Bandcamp:


The Modulators – Tomorrow’s Coming Bandcamp:


The Muffs – “Outer Space” (live):


Power – “Electric Glitter Boogie”:


Smart Remarks – Foreign Fields: 1982-1984 Bandcamp:


Deniz Tek & James Williamson – “Penetration”:


Wyldlife – “Contraband”:



THE GENTLE CYCLE – The Gentle Cycle LP

Album: The Gentle Cycle

Artist: Gentle Cycle

Label: Psychedelphonic

Release Date: January 24, 2017

Gentle Cycle LP

The Upshot:  Psychedelic gem wherein all the cranial pleasure boxes get checked here, with revved-up raveups galore and a general vibe of joyful abandon at play throughout. Below, listen to some of the music via the Bandcamp app.


Shazam. That “5” out of 5 potential stars isn’t something I award lightly, but this platter’s an obvious future classic. Now, let it be acknowledged that it’s also journalistically dubious to quote from a band’s self-description, not to mention risky; Yo La Tengo used to submerge misinformation in their bios precisely to see what would get recycled as fact by the press, and sure enough, a number of foreign journalists who perhaps didn’t know any better took the bait. Here, though, I so wholeheartedly agree with said self-description, in classic wish-I’d-said-that style, that I see no point in going to the trouble of what would ultimately be a paraphrase.

Uttereth this San Jose-based outfit:

“The Gentle Cycle is utilizing vintage gear and a bygone recording ethos to birth a swirling, grooving style of rock ‘n’ roll that’s both timeless and relevant. The band come from an abstract foundation that’s more modern & forward thinking than most musicians beholden to period-correct tones. The Gentle Cycle balances universal emotions with astral, atmospheric sonic architecture.”

Damn. Wish I’d said that… What I will say, then, is that guitarist Derek See, having woodshedded with the latterday reincarnation of fellow San Jose icons the Chocolate Watchband, the Bang Girl Group, Joel Gion (Brian Jonestown Massacre), and more, finally makes his official debut as bandleader on The Gentle Cycle’s eponymous debut. It’s a delightfully rocking, ramshackle exploration of time and space via the inner eye, loaded with echoey, reverbed, and flanged guitar riffs, rough ‘n’ tumble rhythms, and cosmic lyrical ruminations—at least one foot and one paw firmly clutching the late ‘60s, while staking out a claim with the other pair of appendages as a contemporary avatar of all that is wylde and psychedelic.

From the throbbing orgaz-mo-tronic opening track “Follow Light,” which is all tumbling drums and clanging, cavern-filling riffage, and the fuzzed-out, Spacemen 3-esque overdrive of “Memory Day”; to the rippling, acoustic-based modal twang ‘n’ jangle of “Way to Decay” and the lengthy, hypnotic “Far Beyond,” a classic slice of Feelies-do-Velvets drone-choogle (there’s some Television worship in the guitar leads as well); The Gentle Cycle is as impressive a debut album as I’ve heard in eons. All the cranial pleasure boxes get checked here, with revved-up raveups galore and a general vibe of joyful abandon at play throughout. Hands down, yours truly’s favorite new release for 2017 thus far.


There doesn’t seem to ba a wealth of info out there on the band yet. Willfully obscure or mystique-fostering? Who know? Who cares! Head straight to the Bandcamp link listed above and grab this slab of wax pronto, before the secret gets out and all 309 copies are gone. The limited-to-200 green vinyl edition is apparently sold out, but there may still be a few of the 109 black vinyl left. Plus digital, of course. And take note: according to the Gentle Cycle Facebook page, if you donate to Planned Parenthood, Dakota Access Pipeline Fund, PBS, Oxfam or the ACLU, they’ll send you a copy of the LP ($18 or more donation), or a download ($5 donation). How cool is that?

DOWNLOAD: Not a weak track, but if backed against a wall: “Far Beyond,” “She Came This Way,” “Memory Day”


Album: Ljudkamrater 12” EP

Artist: Centralstödet / The Myrrors

Label: Sky Lantern Records / Cardinal Fuzz

Release Date: February 17, 2017


The Upshot: As with all well-rendered psychedelic music, the journey is probably the most important part of the experience.


Ljudkamrater whatever the hell that means, is just the kiss to the brain that I’ve needed as I face the awful reality of a Trump presidency with a lung full of Beijing’s toxic air. If anything, though this record is probably best listened to with a lungful of Baba Kush. Heavy and fluid the album begins with three tracks by Sweden’s Centralstödet. On the track “IE” a sinister laid back groove provides the perfect undercoat for some seriously trippy guitar. Distorted, flanged and looped the song is an ominously unsettling affair that blows away everything in its path as it reached a rousing conclusion.

“Yttre Hybridina” shimmers with its heavy combination of tremolo and distortion. Here the band let things build until a full-on gale is raging inside your ears.

On the flip side Tucson’s Myrrors, offer up two tracks the first “Rayuela” hits a sweet spot for this reviewer with its warmer production and robust drumming including some beautifully wrought ride symbol action. Here the track’s cyclical nature reveals its hidden treasures over the course of multiple turns. I especially love how the violin weaves in and out on this track. Hypnotic, deep and compelling “Rayuela” is a number you hope never stops. It’s that cool.

The second track, “Night Flower Codex” has elements of Spiritualized/Moon Duo/Pink Floyd with its narcotic oscillations and languorous cadence. This is a great song to drop out of life with for a while. As with all well rendered psychedelic music the journey is probably the most important part of the experience and the reason why I keep coming back to a band’s music. I believe it’s all about having time to contemplate the bigger cycles of life before being dumped somewhere uncharted. On this record both bands shine as they offer up unique takes on psych music that enthrall as much as they entertain.

(Consumer note: As of this review all vinyl copies are sold out. According to Limited black/cream colored vinyl in matte reverse board sleeve. Edition of 150 copies. Side B ends in a locked groove.)

DOWNLOAD: “IE” “Rayuela” “Night Flower Codex”

Danny Brown Serenades Third Man Recs’ Pressing Plant Party


By Barbi Martinez

Pitchfork is reporting that during a private party prior to the opening of the Third Man Records (that would be, um, Jack White, in Detroit) record pressing plant (that would be the plant we reported on last week), rapper Danny Brown closed out the evening with a smoking live set. Mr. White was very pleased, toasting the assembled dignitaries with a distinctively Trumpian – just kidding! it was sincere, and inspiring – “Remember this moment, because we’re making things beautiful last for the next generation.”

That generation would be m-m-m-m-MY generation of latterday vinyl lovers. Jack, Danny, and all involved – thank you from the bottom of my analog heart, and from my bosses and contributors at BLURT. Below, some Instragram fun. Scroll to the last one to see the bros….

Danny Brown tonight.

A post shared by leroyisnice (@leroyisnice) on


Earlier @xdannyxbrownx @thirdmanpressing

A post shared by detroitsound (@detroitsound) on

The Teacher and The Student

A post shared by Danny Brown (@xdannyxbrownx) on

Video Premiere: 20 Minute Loop “Mercury Vapor”


Beloved band also playing the Noise Pop festival this week in SF.

San Francisco popsters 20 Minute Loop celebrate 20 years as a band this week with their first new album in eight years.  Feb. 24 brings the release of Songs Praising the Mutant Race, and we are honored to premiere a delightfully twisted video for the track “Mercury Vapor” for the ever-erudite BLURT readership. Check it out:

“The video for ‘Mercury Vapor’ was a fun project that I put together using found royalty-free footage from a fire safety video from the early 70s,” says Atkins. “It was fun to imagine the fire in the video as a petulant child singing ‘I don’t care if I die, if I wind up dead!’, one of the lyrics in the song’s chorus.”

The band appears this week—tomorrow, in fact, Feb. 21—at hometown music fest Noise Pop and will no doubt be showcasing a ton of new material (eight years is a long time) from the album, their sixth. But it may sound uniquely familiar at the same time: the album offers up stripped down and reinvented versions of ten favorites from the 20 Minute Loop catalog, one cover song, and one never-before-released tune.

The group was formed in 1997 by Greg Giles (vocals, guitar) and Kelly Atkins (vocals, keys, flute). Fans may have thought they’d gone away for good in recent years, something the band attributes to “impossible scheduling, newborn children, and brain-rotting graduate studies.” (We can identify with all of the above, indeed.)


Inspired by the reactions of longtime fans at a series of intimate house concerts that 20 Minute Loop performed upon initially reforming in 2014, Songs Praising The Mutant Race finds the group recording as a trio in very similar circumstances: live in the room at Ninth Street Opus studios in Berkeley. Here we have the songs and singers laid bare, accompanied by overdubs from mostly acoustic instruments, including viola, trumpet, flute, accordion, wineglass organ, and more. And its one of those longtime fans who has become a co-conspirator: Kevin Seal – “I like Radiohead more than 20 Minute Loop, and that’s basically it,” he jokes – sat in on piano and vocals for the living room shows, and has now joined in on the reinvention of these tunes in the studio. They also brought in Caitlin Tabancay Austin for a third harmony on “Mercury Vapor.”

“I don’t know why this song has a country hop to it,” Giles says, of the reimagined tune, “but let’s just say 20 Minute Loop has always enjoyed mixing jubilant music with lyrical fatalism. I guess we’re syncopating tones, sweet and sour, joy and loneliness, truck axles and eiderdown.”

Incidentally, all us vinyl-loving BLURT folks will be stoked to learn that Songs Praising The Mutant Race to be its first album issued on vinyl, and they are doing it with style. In addition to the usual formats, fans can purchase a beautiful vinyl edition of the album with a jacket illustrated by Sara Lautman.

More details online (hint: don’t go to unless you are needing financial advice – instead, go here):


Third Man Opening Vinyl Pressing Plant, Will Offer Tours


Much-needed addition to the perpetually under-the-gun vinyl industry.

By Blurt Staff

Nobody will ever accuse Jack White of failing to champion vinyl, and further evidence of him putting his money where his mouth recently arrived with the announcement of the imminent opening of Third Man Pressing, a vinyl pressing plant located in Detroit. (White first started talking about his plans in 2015.) The public unveiling is officially this week, Feb. 25, and there will be a grand opening party free to the public starting at 10AM—and with music kicking in around 2:30 with the Mummies, the Oblivians, and the Craig Brown Band.


According to Diffuser, Third Man will also be selling “a great assortment of freshly pressed Detroit-centric LPs” that will only be available for purchase at the grand opening, including exclusive colored vinyl editions of albums by the White Stripes, the MC5, and the Stooges.”

The official press release notes that TMP represents the first “fully climate-controlled pressing plant work environment in the world” with a “closed-loop, chilled-water system that maximizes water sustainability.” Not to mention adding to the limited number of actual record presses operating in the U.S.—and potentially helping to cut down on the notorious delays people have experienced the past couple of years trying to get their albums and singles pressed up. The goal will be to crank out 5,000 LPs an hour.

Incidentally, punters will be able to take tours of the facility and observe the manufacturing process. The $20 admission will include the proverbial swag bag – are we thinking limited edition swag, hmm?

More details, photos, technical specs for the plant, go to Third Man’s site.




DENNIS COFFEY – Hot Coffey In the D (LP)

Album: Hot Coffey In the D

Artist: Dennis Coffey

Label: Resonance

Release Date: January 13, 2017


The Upshot: Absolutely essential archival release for any fan of music—not just hardcore ‘60s funk and soul collectors—with “grooves” being the operative term.


Initially released this past November as part of Record Store Day’s Black Friday event (and as a numbered/limited-to-1500 copies, sweet 180gm vinyl pressing), Hot Coffey In the D has now been made more widely available on CD and digital in case you (unlike yours truly, still feeling smug) were not able to score a copy last fall.

Dennis Coffey is, of course, the Motown guitar slinging legend, but he also continues to perform; a lucky few of us (feeling even more smug; can’t help it) got to see him burn down the house a few years ago during SXSW when he was promoting his self-titled 2011 album. I suggest you avail yourself of any and all opportunities to catch him. But I digress.

The album at hand was recorded live in Detroit in ’68, at a club called Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge, featuring Coffey, drummer Melvin Davis, and late keyboard whiz Lyman Woodard. The exhaustive liner notes (primarily penned by the ever-astute Kevin Goins) call ‘em “the Motor City’s premiere funk/jazz trio, and that billing becomes instantly obvious once the needle drops onto the grooves—“grooves” also being the operative term here.

Aiming to document their musical chemistry once and for all, Coffey, Davis, and Woodard lined up a couple of their favorite studio rats to record them during their Showplace Lounge residency. What you get here, in 2017, is an accurate representation of their setlist at the time, seven lengthy numbers that include a pair of originals from the trio alongside extended, improv-tilting covers of Jimmy Webb, Bacharach & David, Herbie Hancock, and more. Webb’s classic “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” in particular stands out, with a song-ending call-and-response segment between Coffey and Woodard that is positively smokin’. The Coffey-led “Fuzz” is also a particularly inspired number, Coffey’s guitar hewing to the title to make the trio sound more like an uncommonly gifted garage combo than the soul maestros they were already acknowledged to be. And closing tune “Wade In the Water” rises up from its traditional gospel-blues roots to become a pulsing, thrumming slab of blooze-psychedelia of monumental proportions—you can practically feel the sweat being flung from the brows and chins of each player as they push each other to the limit.

Absolutely essential for any fan of music, and not just hardcore funk and soul collectors. Especially if you can track down—smug alert!—the vinyl release.

DOWNLOAD: “Wade in the Water,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”


Album: Holy Science

Artist: Amirtha Kidambi Elder Ones

Label: Northern Spy

Release Date: November 11, 2016


The Upshot: A strange, haunting, spiritual journey limned in long unspooling tones. And check the gorgeous colored vinyl.


Amirtha Kidambi weaves eerie drones of harmonium and unearthly vocal croons, moans, squawks and slides into textures that are not quite jazz nor the Indian classical music she’s trained in or even an amalgam of the two, but rather an indefinable spiritual journey limned in long unspooling tones. Her four track cycle traces the Hindu cycle of Yugas or ages, the opener dedicated to the golden age of “Satya Yuga” swelling with reedy, overtone laced harmonium blares and elegiac but wordless singing.

“Treta Yuga, “ the disc’s longest outing, follows a jazz-like groove, with Brandon Lopez picking out a rumbling upright bassline, while Mike Jaffee shuffles and reshuffles a staccato percussive groove. Kidambi’s clear voice picks syncopated paths through odd sharp-cornered melodies, stringing blank syllables (“fa,” “te”, “me”) together in unexpected rhythms and combinations. Matt Nelson interjects and contradicts her melodies playing a soprano saxophone; the two of them spin out into dissonant directions, then come together, then dart away again. The third piece “Dwapara Yuga,” is dedicated to a decadent third age and also to Black Lives Matter martyr Eric Garner; it opens in melancholy contemplation, but soon stirs to anger, with Kidambi’s singing growing more explosive, Nelson’s sax blurts more fractious, as the piece develops. “Kali Yuga” ushers in the final age of destruction, which sets the stage for eventual rebirth, and I’d guess that’s about where we are now. It moves again to the slow reverberations of harmonium, the low notes massing like sea fog, while the higher tones trace ritual patterns. It echoes, more than the others, the themes of the opening “Yuga” coming full circle towards resolution.

Powerful stuff.

DOWNLOAD: “Dwapara Yuga (for Eric Garner)”


CHESTER HAWKINS – Natural Causes (LP)

Album: Natural Causes

Artist: Chester Hawkins

Label: Intangible Arts

Release Date: January 06, 2017  /


The Upshot: One of more satisfying electronic recordings in recent memory, a deft balancing act between ambient experimental music, dark psychedelia and pulsing Krautrock.


Background info first: Until a few years ago, Chester Hawkins operated under the nom du rawk of Blue Sausage Infant, a well-regarded though very much under the radar D.C. experimental outfit that commenced operations around 1985 (specialty: musique concrete and loop-collage, we are advised) and ultimately closing up shop with 2012’s Manitou CD. By that point, Hawkins had expanded his palette considerably, delving into kosmiche psych, drone, ambient, and noise, elements that continue to inform him as a solo artist. 2014 and 2015 saw the release of Semisolids and Apostasy Suite, respectively, via his own Intangible Arts imprint. Now comes Natural Causes, Hawkins’ soundtrack to the Tim Ashby-directed 2016 indie film Pale Trees, which describes as “Liv spitefully digs up the details about her mother’s early days in Hollywood, a reality the b-list female action figure buried long ago. The consequences of Liv’s mischief are not just haunting, but incapacitating, and cause profound transformations throughout the family.”

As of this writing, there doesn’t appear to be a trailer posted to YouTube for the film, but it must be said, knowledge about, or even an awareness of, the film is definitely not necessary for a full appreciation of the soundtrack, which comprises two long (21 minutes plus) tracks, each titled “Pale Trees” and taking up sides A and B of this vinyl album. (Hashtag “#vinyl” of course/)

For one thing—just to single out the first side—the music has a slow-building intensity, ebbing and flowing in places but steadily pushing the bar forward. Midway through, a series of ominous pulses, radar-type pings, and almost hymnal-in-tone drones shimmer into earshot, elevating the psychological tension; after that, there’s a lengthy denouement wherein the components gradually slip away, leaving only an echo of a pulse and a haunting synth swirl. Side B picks up where A left off, to a degree, although this time some of the motorik pulsing has a cello-like texture (it’s possibly a “violated lapsteel” if one is to believe the credits), and the track gradually shifts its POV to more of a space-rock, almost Prog, vibe—the listener feels as if he or she has been cast adrift from a interplanetary vessel, floating alone in the vast cosmos. It all builds to a thumping, percussion-infused climax (closing credits sequence, perhaps?) that leaves you perspiring and realizing you’ve been holding your breath for an unknown number of minutes.

One reviewer’s highly subjective descriptors aside, Natural Causes is ultimately one of more satisfying electronic recordings in recent memory, a deft balancing act between ethereal ambiance and liberating rock. “Natural,” indeed.

DOWNLOAD: At two tracks clocking in at 22:10 and 21:50, best just to grab the entire vinyl LP (a limited edition, although it’s also available digitally), and listen to it from start to finish. It’ll be the best ¾ of an hour you’ll spend listening to music in this still relatively young New Year.