Saturday, May 30, 2009

Drone Your Sorrows

Went on a mini-shopping spree lately, one of those expensive Internet runs where you pick up something you like, plug it into and other shopping sites to see what other discs people who bought that one are also buying, and next thing you know it's an hour later and you've got a half dozen cd's in the mail and you're nervous about the next Visa bill.

Kicked off this particular spree with Dos, the second (dos, get it?) album from San Francisco drone/garage band Wooden Shjips. And it's great, by the way. A mere five tracks, running 5-12 minutes each, blending Krautrock and psychedelia and good ol' crunchy garage band jamming into a throbbing package of sonic bliss. I'm particularly fond of the epic "Down By The Sea," which (as I'm not the first to point out) is a bit derivative of Yo La Tengo's brilliant "Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind" but, hey, good song to be derivative of; a basic Led Zeppelin-ish 3-note bass riff played over and over for 10 solid minutes, first topped by the band's usual hushed, almost indecipherable vocals, then a building guitar jam that makes you roll down the car windows and blow out your speakers. Oh, and the rest of the album is pretty fantastic as well.

So here's a little live Wooden Shjips to make your head explode:

Next up was Ambergris, a 2008 release from Minneapolis-based Flavor Crystals (alas, an import-only, so had to splurge). Liked this one just as much. Again, there's a definite Yo La Tengo vibe here (ok, I love Yo La Tengo, so I like to look for them in pretty much everything I listen to, so sue me), albeit the more mellow, dream-pop side of the band. This is headphone-friendly psychedelic mood music, pretty and lush and dreamy, without the harder-edge garage band sound of the 'Schjips. Late night music for sure. Though that's not to say it's hook-free, and some tracks are almost catchy. For the more traditional-minded of you out there, if you like pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd, you'll love this.

Here's a live take on "Guppython" from the album:

So once I ordered that one, Amazon told me I simply had to purchase the Black Angels' Directions To See A Ghost -- 2008 sophomore release from the Austin, Texas band who, as their name would rightly suggest, are straight out of the Velvet Underground playbook, but once again driven through with an unhealthy dose of psychedelic drone (and perhaps a chunk of the Doors). A little less original-sounding than the bands above (though I'm using "original" in a very loose sense for all of them), but it's still good sonic fun.

I know, you want to hear 'em, don't you?

Fourth & final purchase on this li'l buying jag, another one suggested by Amazon once I ordered the Black Angels & Flavor Crystals, was the 2006 self-titled debut album from L.A.'s Darker My Love. This one moved (slightly) off the steady drone of the other albums into Nuggets-derived straightforward garage band territory. Doesn't make you reach for the headphones, but you might shake your hips. As the name suggests, there's some bleaker-sounding stuff here, almost Joy Division-esque in spots, though it's still undeniably trippy, with overtones of the 80's Paisley Underground bands like Dream Syndicate here & there. Not essential, but a good, solid album.

But why trust me when there's a video on the ol' u-tubes?


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