Monthly Archives: May 2018

Moon Taxi 5/16/18, Port Chester, NY

Dates: May 16, 2018

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY

Jammin’ at the always-dependable (and legendary) Capitol Theater, natch.


Never having seen Moon Taxi, I was looking forward to a good blend of music from some talented musicians, who were touring for their latest release, Let the Record Play—and the crowd was eager to hear the new material. The band, clearly, were just as happy to be playing for their fans at the legendary Capitol Theater. A really nice blend of alt-rock, a touch of reggae, and a little jam band. I really felt that the band has a bright outlook on things, and it was clearly heard and seen in their performance. A great highlight of the night was when 15 year old Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, an amazingly gifted—and young—guitar player joined the band for a cover of “All Along  the Watchtower.” (Look out for Taz in the future.) Moon Taxi played an inspiring set, and I see this band branching out to reach a potentially much bigger fan base in the future.

Parkway Drive 4/29/18, Memphis

Dates: April 29, 2018

Location: New Daisy Theatre, Memphis

Live at the New Daisy Theatre for a crowd ready and willing for a night of metal.


Parkway Drive is out touring for their new album Reverence and played to a packed house at New Daisy Theatre on Sunday night. Formed in Australia in 2003 Parkway Drive had completed and released their first album in 2005 called Killing with a Smile. Parkway Drive is no stranger to touring and has played many big-name Festivals, such as Danny Wimmer Presents festivals Rock on the Range and Louder than life which was my first experience with the powerful voice of Winston McCall. Winston commands the crowd’s attention and pulls them in deeper with every song. From great vocals to piecing screams, tight hard riffs, and pounding drums Parkway Drive is a Metalcore band at its roots, but has just enough rock to win and keep the not so hard rock fans coming back for more.

The crowd at the New Daisy was ready and willing for a night of metal music. It didn’t take long for the seas to part and the mosh pit to be in full effect! One after another crowd surfers made their way to the front like a blow up wavy arm car lot advertisement man. The show had to be stopped twice due to injuries, the first being a security guard who twisted his back trying to catch a crowd surfer. The show was stopped for about 10 minutes while paramedics tended to the guard and waited for an ambulance. Winston came down to the pit and checked on the injured Security Guard, who was later released from the hospital with no serious injuries. The second time the show was stopped was for a girl who hit her head on the front barricade while crowd surfing, this was during the encore. When Winston noticed the injured girl he stopped the show again and announced that this was the end of the show. Safety Tip Kids: Crowd Surfing Can Be And Is Dangerous!!! The band wasn’t upset, it was just near the end of the show and wanted the staff and medical to be able to tend the girl.  Look for Parkway Drive out on tour now starting with a spot on the Carolina Rebellion lineup.


King Krule 4/25/18, Denver

Dates: April 25, 2018

Location: Ogden Theater, Denver CO

Live at The Ogden Theater, the King did come.


Rock and roll belongs forever to the young. Sure, with age comes wisdom, but the wise tend to sleep on audacious geniuses who make stunning art out of shit that’s just lying around. In the case of Archy Marshall, the man behind King Krule who lit up the Ogden Theater in Denver on April 25, that was equal parts brit dub, blue jazz guitar, guttural baritone sax, and a London accent fished out of can of wet cigarette butts.

The band, washed in hollowed-out reverb over off kilter electronics from DJ Connor Atanda, dove one after another into five songs from the louder side of the catalog including the single “Dum Surfer” from last year’s essential LP The OOZ (a play on Krule’s previous moniker Zoo Kid) before settling in and slowing it down for a solid 30 minutes. During that time, Marshall seamlessly transitioned the music and the crowd over to the keyboard, where he showed off soulful songwriting chops that could stand shoulder to shoulder with any Winehouse torch song you’d care to mention.

Marshall is a crooner at heart, but a decidedly two-thousand-and-teens one. He stands the genre on its head, at once pulling in modern and disparate house elements while lingering on drawn out lyrics like some east-end Bing Crosby. But then he’s a producer, too, and it shows in King Krule’s live set. Throughout the night, brilliant live elements not available on King Krule’s records kept popping up, like the driving rhythm when the drums came in on “Easy Easy” after the achingly long build up. It’s a little something you want so badly on the studio recording and proves perfect in front of a crowd.

Marshall put his mark all over the show with his signature barbaric AAARRRUUGGGHHH! It’s an aching wail that turned King Krule’s echoing, aching songs into a wild display of genre bending brilliance on stage, captivating to beat poets and b-boys alike.


Has This Hit?


Dum Surfer

A Lizard State

The Locomotive

Cadet Limbo


Biscuit Town

The Cadet Leaps


Rock Bottom

Little Wild

Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)

Emergency Blimp

(A Slide In) New Drugs

Badoom The Ooz

iPhone (My) X

Half Man Half Shark

Baby Blue

Easy Easy

Encore: Out Getting Ribs


CALEXICO – The Thread That Keeps Us (2LP)

Album: The Thread That Keeps Us (2LP)

Artist: Calexico

Label: City Slang

Release Date: January 26, 2018

The Upshot: A bonafide Southwestern ambassador deftly integrating folk, rock, pedal-steel-powered country, reggae, psychedelia, and Mexican pop while also showcasing a newfound anthemic side.


By way of full disclosure, I’m hardly objective where it comes to Calexico, having known founding members Joey Burns (guitar, vocals) and John Convertino (drums) for years and additionally authoring the liners to their 2011 vinyl box set, Road Atlas. That caveat aside, I’ve long marveled at the group’s musical evolution, from a folkish desert rock duo with occasional Latin influences to a bonafide Southwestern ambassador deftly integrating folk, rock, pedal-steel-powered country, reggae, psychedelia, and Mexican pop. The single-LP or double-LP set (take your pick; it’s also available on CD) The Thread That Keeps Us maintains this sense of place, particularly on gorgeous, windswept numbers like the Morricone-esque cinematic psych of “Voices in the Field” and the Spanish-language Mariachi rock of “Flores y Tamales.”

The group also has perfected the art of the anthem—fittingly enough, as this is an overtly political album in places, its lyrics detailing and decrying the “age of extremes” we’re living in—with songs like the soaring, U2-like “End of the World With You” and heavy-twang stomper “Dead in the Water” leading the way.

Throw in a bonus LP with the deluxe edition, its seven tracks showing off a more understated, trancey side to the band, and Calexico emerges as one of the most diverse, free-ranging outfits operating.

Incidentally, fans who contributed the band’s pre-release PledgeMusic campaign were able to select an autographed LP or CD among various premiums, making for an instant collectible. (Calexico has long been prone to offering limited editions and collectebles, going all the way back to their annual calendars and tour-only CDs; the aforementioned box set collected those tour-only discs as a massive 12LP artifact.)

Sonically speaking, a forum thread at drew some lively debate over the quality of the mastering and mixing. For my part, I don’t detect any “pointlessly muffled” passages, but I did indeed have to turn the volume up on side A, which clocked in at 25 minutes. Calexico is also a large group, with 7-9 people performing at any given moment, so a bit more volume helps spread that density across the soundstage and allows their dynamic nuances to emerge. Other commenters speculated on it being a poor pressing, the 180-gm. European pressing reviewed here presumably being superior to the U.S. edition (single LP, 15 songs) on the Anti- label. Inconclusive, but still worth noting.

DOWNLOAD: “Voices in the Field,” “Flores y Tamales,” “Dead In the Water”


A version of this review originally appeared in Stereophile magazine. Also note that BLURT’s Lee Zimmerman has also reviewed the CD version of the album for us.


Album: Wide Awake

Artist: Parquet Courts

Label: Rough Trade

Release Date: May 11, 2018


America’s most changeable punk outfit has dropped their fifth release, again, pushing out in new directions on several of the 13 tracks. Long-time fans will find a lot to like here, while others will be tantalized by their pivoting from mostly punk driven, to a funk driven mode for a few tracks. There was a concerted effort to branch out and incorporate some previously unexplored sounds. For Austin Brown, it was digging into old faves like Parliament, Grace Jones and The Upsetters and, the decision to bring in producer Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton to punch things up. E.g., the title track, “Wide Awake,” a repetition of the same lines, heavy Afro beats, whistle blasts and all-around rumpus, as performed live on Ellen (!) recently, and a big hit for her and the audience.

Oddly enough, it was Burton, a PC fan, who approached the band, wanting to work with them. It was a peculiar notion to Andrew Savage, who thought that perhaps the juxtaposition might just goose things up in a different way for them, which to the band, is always a desirable course. Andrew notes, “I liked the idea that it didn’t make sense to work with him, which to me makes perfect sense as to why we should work with him.”

Andrew, in the meanwhile, dug through his records for punk classics like Flipper, the Minutemen, Big Boys, etc. noting that he always like the playfulness of Minutemen and Big Boys, and how the latter mixed funk into their sound. The band has long been trotting out songs that are influenced by everyone they grew up listening to.

“Violence” is another number that jumps the tracks, with Andrew’s adenoidal vocals doing a declamatory rap/rant, a’ la the Last Poets, against the violence that our society is forced to live with every damn day.

Opening with some firm power chords, “Total Football” then shifts smoothly into a Buzzcockian stride with shouted lyrics regarding the faux fury raised against players who dare to kneel at games:  “It is dishonest, nay, a sin to stand for any anthem that attempts to drown out the roar of oppression.” And, if you still don’t get it, see the last line, please: “Fuck Tom Brady.”

The verbiage in “Before the Water Gets Too High” is thick, as Savage is wont to do, wagging a finger of warning, that I don’t fully grasp, but the song has their familiar flavor and sound as it slinks along. “Extinction” and “Tenderness” also sound like something familiar from their past albums.

The muted but nostalgic tone of “Mardi Gras Beads” takes a sentimental, shoegazing turn that is reminiscent of their “Dear Ramona” from the superb Sunbathing Animal album. And, as “Raw Milk” slides into “Into the Garden” on that album, so does the head-banging “Almost Had to Start A Fight” melt into the head-bobbing franticness of “In And Out Of Patience.”

An organ adds extra sweetness to the embraceable ”Freebird II,” a melodic tune with a sing-a-long quality.

“Normalization” returns to an in-your-face approach, and speculates that…

”Nothing is normal,

Manipulated into believing,

I’m exercising skepticism,

Honesty is everything.”

What the fuck does ‘normal’ even mean anymore, in this ‘fake news’ bullshit world?

Andrew, interestingly, shifts into Morrison mode on “Back To Earth,” with its wisps of “Strange Days” swirling around.

“NYC Observation” is a pithy look at the pissy streets of the city, trod by it’s wary, ‘keep your eyes down, don’t engage,’ residents.

Brown’s elegiac, darkly tinged, world weary “Death Will Bring Change,” is supported nicely with a 15-member boys chorus, which will immediately remind you of something.

“Tenderness” lopes along at a slow pace, with a piano peppering the rhythm, and more choice lyrics by Andrew, and his sharp observations about life and the people that surround us…

“Well, I can’t count how many times I’ve been undone by nihilism,

Joined the march that splits an open heart into a schism,

I cower at the thought of other people’s expectations,

And yet still hand over mine to them.”

Andrew points out that it was important to him to steer away of being too ballad-y, like 2016’s Human Performance, and aiming more at just making people dance. They deliver on that goal, as well as presenting a lot of well-written and well-played songs on Wide Awake. The album is garnering a lot of well-deserved praise from all quarters. I’m admittedly on the fence that this is the best thing they’ve ever done. There are really no stunners like Light Up Gold’s mind-blowing “Stoned and Starving,” or Sunbathing Animal’s Flaming Lips-y sludge of “She’s Rollin’,” with its Beefheart-skronk bridge.

For me at least, Wide Awake will have to respectfully play 3rd place behind Sunbathing Animal and Light Up Gold, as those are the ones to beat. When you constantly push for more diversity on each new album, you end up being unable to honestly compare because of the small differences on each one, or, ending up with something like 2015’s wtf? Monastic Living exercise. It’s like comparing three holiday feasts like Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving dinner and a big Independence Day picnic. They are all what they are. You can have a favorite, but who can say which is truly The Best? I have the utter-most confidence that they probably will surpass those 3 albums someday, as they have a ‘fire in their belly,’ are wide awake, and very conscious guys.

DOWNLOAD: “Mardi Gras Beads,“ “Freebird II,” “Almost Had To Start A Fight / In And Out Of Patience,” and “Total Football.“




Album: Code Girl

Artist: Mary Halvorson

Label: Firehouse 12

Release Date: March 30, 2018

The Upshot: Impressive talent comes to bear on a set of songs that straddle the line between forbidding and accessible.


Guitarist Mary Halvorson has been quietly reimagining jazz guitar for fifteen-odd years now, with a distinctive playing style that is to the six-string what Henry Threadgill’s angular harmonics are to the saxophone. Her melodies rarely follow conventional paths, and she often circles around the arrangement like a jazz approximation of Afrobeat guitar lines. She’s been rightly celebrated as one of jazz’s most interesting and innovative voices, with a string of albums in various modes, from the improvisational trio dynamics of Thumbscrew and the avant-pop of duo People to her various trios/quartets/octets/etc. and ongoing work with John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Stephan Crump.

For her latest album Code Girl, Halvorson assembles a crack band, including her Thumbscrew bandmates Tomas Fujiwara and Michael Formanek, rising trumpet star Ambrose Akinmusire and singer Amirtha Kidambi, for a set of jazz tunes with vocals. Akinmusire is a strong melodic foil for Halvorson, as the young lion has never been averse to playing his lines in a manner similar this date’s boss, leading to some strange unison lines and fascinating counterpoint. Kidambi uses her soprano as an instrument as often as a means of communicating the words, sometimes sounding like she’s borrowing from opera via wordless singing and swooping scales. The rhythm section goes for subtlety over fireworks, taking positions as accompaniment more than drivers. As mastermind, Halvorson wields her bandmates’ skills with utmost sensitivity, clear in her vision but letting her sidepersons interpret her ideas in their own ways.

All of this talent comes to bear on a set of songs that straddle the line between forbidding and accessible. Halvorson isn’t afraid of a catchy tune, but she’d rather allude to it than play it straight, making the audience work for what they want. The sedate “Accurate Hit” is simple to absorb (despite Halvorson’s whammy bar accents that disorient any notions of easy listening), while “My Mind I Fight in Time” quickly rides off the rails, keeping the track in sight but veering off into the brush often. “Thunderhead,” “Drop the Needles” and “Possibility of Lightning” come off as mostly accessible, though each has its spiky bits. The epic “Storm Cloud” gathers multiple threads of dissonance and euphony, sometimes alternating them, sometimes pitting them against each other, often letting Kidambi’s croon-to-shriek theatrics determine when to build and when to burn. Indeed, Halvorson’s intentions become most clear on this and “The Unexpected Natural Phenomenon,” the other longform cut here – in extended play the ensemble can develop Halvorson’s ideas without being rushed, creating primers in the way her musical mind works.

Halvorson has always been dedicated to pushing the envelope of her own artistry, let alone that of jazz itself. Code Girl is no exception, bending its inherent musicality to the will of its creator. But the goal is never disharmony for its own sake, and anyone willing to meet Halvorson’s challenge, especially over multiple spins, will be amply rewarded.

DOWNLOAD: “Storm Cloud,” “The Unexpected Natural Phenomenon,” “Drop the Needle”

Ghost 5/15/18, Port Chester NY

Dates: May 15, 2018

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester NY

Capitol Theater plays host to the Ghost!


Cardinal Copia and the nameless ghouls took over the sold out crowd at the Capitol Theater. Seeing Ghost a few times now I was highly anticipating this show. The band has a highly devoted fan base and tonight was no different. This would turn out to be by far the most theatrical show I have seen at the Capitol. The stage was set up like an altar with stain glass windows and a stair case to the floor. The lighting was amazing and the crowd could not peel their eyes off of it. The band opened with “Ashes” and quickly went into their new single “Rats”. Cardinal Copia had his followers willing to do what the church asked. I found myself being drawn in more to the service.

Introducing a few new songs from their upcoming album and the name of it is called “ Prequelle” and a mix of past material the band finished Act  I of II. Taking a short set break the crowd was just as eager for Act II. The curtains open and the band started with “Spirit” from the album “Meliora” and the night service continued. In between two songs Cardinal Copia had a small sermon about the female orgasm, which was quit entertaining, the crowd seemed to agree.

Again mixing some new and old material, a point of the show that really stood out was the cover of the Roky Erickson song “ If You Have Ghosts,” a great original that the band made their own. The band finished with the highly entrancing “Monstrance Clock” the evening was incredible both sonically and visually. If you have a chance to join the congregation, I advise you do. Amen!




Messthetics / The Van Pelt / Tiers 5/17/18, Easthampton MA

Dates: May 17, 2018

Location: The Flywheel, Easthampton MA

Live at the Flywheel, in which erstwhile Fugazi-guys brought the noise.


Fifteen years ago, Fugazi played a benefit for the Flywheel at the Holyoke War Memorial, a show that has become legendary (you can view it in its entirety here) but which I remember mostly as something that sold out before I had even heard about it. The show came about a year before Fugazi’s hiatus, and while Ian MacKaye has been back as Evens since, other members of the band have not. The news that Messthetics, comprised of Fugazi’s Joe Lally and Brendan Canty plus guitarist Anthony Pirog, had booked a show at the Flywheel was therefore exciting. The trio’s self-titled LP, released this spring on the Dischord label, is a monumental jam, proggier and shreddier than you’d maybe expect (that’s Pirog) but powered by monstrous pummeling rhythms.  It’s the kind of record that you hear and immediately want to experience live, and here was a chance.

To add to the appeal, The Van Pelt, a much revered 1990s post-hardcore band out of New York City, was also on the bill, as well as a space rock/shoe-gaze-y trio from Brooklyn called Tiers. My first thought: how great that they’re playing the Flywheel. My second: I hope to hell we can get in. (Dischord very kindly put me on the list, though that has been known not to work on occasion.)

Long story short, we do get in. It’s a nice size crowd but nothing crazy.

The tiny stage is stacked with electronics, an Akai AX 50, a couple of Rolands, a sampler and a drum pad. Tiers, as it turns out, sculpts its eerie, shoe-gazing sound largely from keyboards and synths. Glen Maryanski, who is also the drummer in post-punk Love as Laughter offshoot Cult of Youth, presides over the largest rack of electronic instruments; Jennifer Mears, the singer, makes due with one Roland synth and occasional whacks at the drum pad. Chad Dziewior, who also plays in Minneapolis hardcore band Threadbare, plays a trebly atmospheric guitar, alternating between pick and e-bow.


Tiers recorded a 12-inch with Hand Drawn Dracula’s Artificial Records imprint in 2013 but seems not to have left much of an internet trail since. Their music is full of cathedral sized synth swells and hypnotic drifts of vocals, anchored by hard, four-on-the-floor beats. It’s a very dream-pop, shoe-gaze-y vibe, with echoes of the Cure (those Roland synths) and Cocteau Twins, but also a dance-y post punk vibe a la New Order.

The next band is the Van Pelt – original members Chris Leo (whose brother Ted may be familiar to you) on guitar and vocals, guitarist Bryan Maryanski, bassist Sean Greene and drummer Neil O’Brien aka Foggy Notion. The Van Pelt emerged out of a mid-1990s NYC post-hardcore scene and made two records—Stealing from our Favorite Thieves in 1996 and Sultans of Sentiment in 1997—before disbanding. In 2014, after a long hiatus, the band re-formed and released Imaginary Third, a collection of previously unreleased material and also reissued the two original albums.

The Van Pelt let loose an onslaught of hard, Minuteman-ish punk, the bass thudding antic, off-kilter lines while Leo unspools strings of hallucinatory beat poetry. “Here it is, plain and simple,” chants Leo coolly over a heated mesh of mathy rock, as “Nanzen Kills a Cat” sputters to life. Indeed, it’s hard to reconcile the explosive bass-drum-ruckus of live Van Pelt with the chillier temperatures of their recorded output. “Young Alchemists” comes closest to what you hear on Sultans of Sentiment, liquid and pensive as it contemplates trading the mystic for the scientific,  while “We Are the Heathens” brings on colliding waves of dissonance and hurtling stop-start rhythms. This is a band that’s clearly glad to be there, banging out the same complicated, poetic shards of chaos, 20 years on from the heyday. There’s some grey hair on display and Greene’s bass looks like it’s been through a war, but all four of them are tossed in the same waves of sonic vibration, bobbing and nodding in unison as these side-slanting riffs kick in. The set closes with “The Speeding Train,” the final track from their post-hiatus album, and it’s a blistering, pummeling, hypnotically propulsive song, the train rattling on towards wherever, bolts flying, destination uncertain, the motion itself everything.

And now, it’s time for Messthetics whose set up is basic – bass, drums, guitar – but whose sound is unclassifiable. The set starts, as the self-titled record does, with “Mythomania,” a relentless, unstoppable, muscular chug of bass and drums, layered over with Pirog’s vaulting guitar. Live it becomes apparent how fundamental Pirog is to Messthetics, even though we writers tend to spend more time on the ex-of-Fugazi hook. He plays wild, shreddy solos and works loops and effects with the pedals; he’s the color and light in Canty/Lally’s monumental architecture.

Messthetics follows album order for this show. “Mythomania” segues into faster, squallier “Serpent Tongue,” then the liquid lyricism of “Once Upon a Time,” a Sonny Sharrock cover. The impossibly note-stuffed “Quantum Path,” is just as frenetic in concert as it is on the record. All three of the musicians are very good in distinct ways – Joe Lally is compact and contained, eliciting blistering basslines with a minimum of visible effort. Brendan Canty is flushed with concentration, working furiously over his kit with an athletic abandon (at one point, he’s playing eighth notes on the kickdrum for so long that my ankle starts to hurt in sympathy). And Anthony Pirog has the air of an introverted virtuoso, pulling off complicated things and then peering out under his hat bill to see if anyone appreciates the difficulty.

It’s a great show, and though of course lots of people came because of the Fugazi connection, Messthetics has made its own case by the end. Though really 15 years is a long wait. I hope they’ll be back again before that next time.


HAWK – Bomb Pop

Album: Bomb Pop

Artist: Hawk

Label: New Garden Music & Arts

Release Date: May 04, 2018

The Upshot: A fun, almost nostalgic power pop jam spread across 10 tracks.


When it came time to pull together their fourth record, Hawk’s David Hawkins and longtime guitarist Aaron Bakker called in some big names to help fill out the band. Bassist/keyboardists/singer Ken Stringfellow (Posies, Big Star), vocalist Gary Louris (Jayhawks, Ray Davies, Golden Smog) and drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Elliott Smith) were all corralled to join Hawk in the studio and the result is a fun, almost nostalgic power pop jam spread across 10 tracks.

There are some moments of modern Americana – the harmonies and backing vocals on a song like “Take My Time” sound like it could have come off of a Wilco record – but for the most part, the band draws inspiration form a wide range of ‘70s artists to flesh out the sound here. You can hear it everywhere from the organ-drenched “Lay Me Down Easy” to The Raspberries-esque “Allison’s Gone.”

The band’s strongest moment, however is on the one song that sounds like an anomaly on this record, the melancholy country track “Dry Your Eyes,” that closes Bomb Pop. You can’t help but wonder how much stronger this already solid album would be if they offered a few more original takes like this one.

DOWNLOAD: “Not Just Lonely,” “Take My Time” and “Dry Your Eyes”

TY SEGALL Freedom’s Goblin / MIKE DONOVAN How To Get Your Record Played in Shops

Album: Freedom's Goblin / How To Get Your Record Played in Shops


Label: Drag City

Release Date: April 20, 2018


The Upshot: A double shot of boogie chillin’ tunes for chill people who like to boogie.


First up, the “boogie” end of the pendulum. If you’ve lost count of how many albums Mr. Ty Segall has released in the last decade, you’d be forgiven. Under his own name, the number is now 11, at the very least. But counting the collaborations he’s done with pals like Tim Presley (White Fence) and Mikal Cronin, plus his own singles, compilations, and EPs, let alone albums with his other bands Fuzz and the Goggs, it’s more like three times that number. Easy. The man is nothing if not prolific.

Ty seems to be compulsively obsessed with tapping into the energy, hooks, and swing of the Kinks, Bowie, and T. Rex, and could be lumped in with other psychedelic garage bands. But Ty’s no follower or tribute artist (however great his Ty Rex cover EPs are); he’s the real deal. Freedom’s Goblin, his latest LP (released January 26), is another excellent addition to anyone’s Ty Segall collection. Essentially his “White Album”, it may also be the perfect record for novices and veteran fans, alike. This is album that showcases a little of everything the man does well. One of the most important things Segall has done to set himself apart from his peers, is to continually take risks. Yes, the aesthetic and instrumentational approach to his records can be casually lumped in under the “psych-garage” umbrella; but that ultimately sells him short. On every record since 2011’s Goodbye Bread, Segall has been slowly but surely expanding out in various directions, exploring the possibilities of sounds and approaches to his songs and songwriting craft. Freedom’s Goblin makes the dividends of his exploration that have paid off all too evident.

Now on the “chill” end, where we find one Mike Donovan. He’s been quietly building up quite the discography since 2004 with Sic Alps, then Peacers, and two solo LPs as plain ol’ Mike Donovan. Contrary to the Ty Segall approach, Mr. Donovan has essentially one approach: that of the lo-fi dreamy semi-acoustic psych-pop ditty. Through his tenure with Sic Alps (a band he fronted, which occasionally included Mr. Segall—man, this is getting incestuous, right?) this approach worked quite well and fresh over several LPs. With new band Peacers, and now his two solo—mostly acoustic, mostly unaccompanied—LPs (the most recent being How To Get Your Record Played in Shops, released April 20), the returns are decidedly diminished, as one would expect. We can only assume that Donovan just digs the foggy haze of his chilled-out sound—two exceptions being the decidedly Beatles-y “Spiral Tee Shirt” and album closer “Fox News Coverage ’68”—but it’s only natural at some point to ask the question “Why not expand out and experiment with different approaches, players, sounds, instruments, etc.?”. Only Mr. Donovan knows the answer to that. In the meantime, pick up his new LP (or any of his previous records) and decide for yourself if you’re chill enough for the Donovan vibe.

Ty Segall and Mike Donovan are rooted in the garage, psych aesthetic of so many bands from the Bay Area, many of which have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years, and which is celebrated by labels such as Burger and others. While Segall has clearly blasted out of that pigeon hole and transcended the aesthetic in search of more substance, Donovan seems content to continue cranking out his own brand of lo-fi foggy fuzz. Boogie and chillin’, indeed!

DOWNLOAD: Ty Segall’s “Fanny Dog” and “Every 1’s A Winner”; Mike Donovan’s “Spiral Tee Shirt