U.S.Girls - Monolith Cocktail blog

Another polygenesis round up of new music that includes neo-dub kaleidoscopic pop from U.S. Girls; serial killer stoner psych rock from Creature With The Atom Brain; venerated choral harmonies from C Duncan; arena-style pop from Many Things; twanged Morricone meets Lee Hazelwood western lament from Sacri Cuori; and Baroque chamber psych from Jacco Gardner. Plus in short, new tracks from Reptile Youth, flies + flies and Thomas Truax.

U.S. Girls   ‘Damn That Valley’   (4AD)

In a congruous and highly apt transfer to the label of choice for colourful polygenesis soundclash mavericks and experimental artists 4AD, Meg Remy’s U.S. Girls will release a new album, later in the year. As a precursor, Remy has just put out this latest marvel, the Ronnie Spector fronting a Mikey Dread/Grace Jones hybrid, ‘Damn That Valley’. Moving away from the idiosyncratic and candid 60s girl group tape loops towards a dub and esoteric R’n’B sonic, and decked out in a strange, Bowie on the cover of his Live LP, pale blue suit and Hilary Clinton hairstyle, Remy hooks up once again with Canadian cosmic hip hop and head music producer Onakabazien. Though the best whine in the business stays and the echoes of The Ronettes and Crystals remain firm, there is a distinct change in direction.

The title, taken from American author Sebastian Junger’s War memoir, dramatises a widowers frustrated and pitiful riling against the administration, as she forlornly shakes a fist at the various seats and symbols of the state capitol, before she places a lingering touch on the marble memorial wall of the dead: a place on the grandiose memorial and government gratitude hardly seem sufficient compensation. Superimposed over these Washington’s monuments, Remy caresses the ether and imaginary connections, as she croons in certain despair at the all too real consequences of US policy.

She joins the likes of Ariel Pink, tUnE-yArDs and Scott Walker on what must be one of the most enviable rosters of any label, though she holds her own and this latest track is one of her strongest yet: the album sounds promising.

CWTAB - Monolith Cocktail blog

Creature With The Atom Brain ‘Night Of The Hunter’

Hitching a one-way ride to damnation on the serial killer trail, the previous solo project of Belgian musician Aldo Struyf (blossoming and boosted by a collaborative roll call of fellow compatriots later on), Creature With The Atom Brain calls time on their subterranean psych with their last furore, Night Of The Hunter. Grabbed from the Robert Mitchum starring film of the same title, allusions are cast as the deep underbelly of pulp and noir fiction is explored through a two acts in five-parts musical suite of hypnotic stoner, heavy and Krautrock. Embarking on this sonic voyage is a cast of Antwerp’s great and good, plucked from the alternative and hardliner scene, and including both dEUS and Eagles of Death Metal’s guitarist Tim Vanhamel, dEUS founding member Tom Barman and performance artist Danny Devos – who lends a creepy air of vocal ‘psycho-killer’ derangement to Side A’s ‘Part 2’. From outside the Belgium borders, the Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan swoops in to supply the main vocals on the opening Byzantine-meets-Dirtmusic (without the African vibe, as strange as that may sound) ‘Part 1’: all belly dancer trinket shimmering on the trail of the Zodiac killer, Lanegan’s commanding skulk plays off against Struyf’s Beck-esque languorous oozing vocals. The bombastic, timpani style motoring opener lays down the template, winding down before creeping into the second chapter of ghoulish chills, rim scuttled drum rhythms, post-punk synth arpeggiators and Mexican killing fields vihuela guitar flourishes.

The second movement on the B side is both brooding and suffused with a prowling sophistication, the miscreant group of guests and long-term band members imbued with the spirit of Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave on the moonlight confessional ‘Part 1’. Whilst ‘Part 2’ channels Crime And The City Solution riding into a Morricone western, and ‘Part 3’ methodically reworks all the main themes into one final curtain call of mournful redemption.

Somewhere between a motor city rock and Teutonic hard place, with devilish undertones and a certain mature philosophical resignation, Struyf’s CWTAB – whether it was intentional or not – produce a ‘killer’ shadowy concept album – as loose a concept as that may be.

C Duncan  ‘Here To There’   (FatCat Records)

Gently illuminating angelical tones from Glasgow’s pastel shaded interior, as artist/musician Christopher Duncan issues a venerable choral treat ahead of his debut LP, Architect, in July. Referencing and imbued with both the breezy but deeply sophisticated American folk-psych and rock of Midlake and The Fleet Foxes and the classical reverence of Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Fauré, Duncan’s self-produced (created in his Glasgow flat) intimate bedroom masterpieces dare to be hauntingly epic. ‘Here To There’ follows in the grand tradition of Scotland’s brave dreamers who channel the harmonic noir of the American west coast to deliver the most beautifully beguiling hymn.

Many Things   ‘Holy Fire’   (Dew Process)

We’re quite taken with the expansive, arena pop of London-based three-piece  Many Things. The latest single ‘Holy Fire’ is a melodically grand and intelligent affair, devoid of platitudes and embarrassing earnestness. Playing out some strange allegorical apocalyptical survivors tale in an opencast mine, the band’s stride through all the meteoric highlights of James and Simple Minds with a touch of 90s indie. They join London Grammar, The Hives and James Vincent McMorrow on the Australian label Dew Process, and will release their debut LP this summer.

Sacri Cuori   ‘Delone’   (Glitterbeat Records)

Quite a departure for a label so synonymous with the best in contemporary African music, the kitsch 60s inspired sounds of the Italian band Sacri Cuori sit almost uneasy with the majority of the Glitterbeat Records output. Though it would be harsh to suggest the group play it for kicks alone, as they carry the torch for the giallo/slasher/spaghetti western/Fellini chic existentialism era of their homelands most cool perceived golden age with such sophisticated aplomb. You should throw in the influence of the Pieros (that’s Piccioni and Umiliani), Ritz Ortolani, Nino Rota and the landscapes of their home of Romagna, the Mojave Desert and the beaches of Rimini to the nostalgic mix.

A pastiche, but damn good one, their latest imaginary soundtrack – they have a good track record where this is concerned; composing and performing an original score for cult movie Zoran – il mio nipote scemo in 2014, which won the EST Film Festival award for best soundtrack – is the mirage conjured western Delone. From the protagonists Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood whistling theme song to the Anton Karas meets bossa nova salacious kooky ‘La Marabina’, the music luxurious and dramatically escapes from the celluloid. This pan-Europa soundtrack sang in English, Italian and French, fluctuates elegantly between the western valley homage of Mexican Go-Go and pastoral folk and occasionally emotes a touch of melodic sadness.

A collaborative effort as usual, the band working with countless luminaries and artists over the years (Hugo Race, Robyn Hitchcock, Calexico’s John Convertino), they manage to lasso Marc Ribot, Sonido Gall Negro, Evan Lurie (of the Lounge lizards fame), Steve Shelly (Sonic Youth’s stickman) and Howe Gelb (of Giant Sand) to make a cult fantasy. Django wants payback!

Jacco Gardner   ‘Hypnophobia’   (Full Time Hobby)   5th May 2015

There are some quality Baroque curiosities to be found on the latest album from Dutch musician Jaco Gardner; from the perfumed halcyon studio of Zwaag his new collection of psychedelic folk and beat from behind the dyke Hypnophobia emits dreamy and hypnotizing comparisons to the late 60s calico wall era of beautiful experimentation. Floating freely in the ether with Syd Barrett and John Maus, gliding along with The Wands and Halasan Bazar, and dotted with a number of telltale signs from the Stereolab and Broadcast sonic dashboard, Gardner opens up his escapist fantasy to the world. This is all done with a suffused quality of sophistication and care; travelling in a smooth fashion between foggy witchery, waltzing Wurlitzer and majestic pop. A great fuzz sepia toned fairytale of an album that just keeps on giving.

And in short but no less deserving of our attention…

Thomas Truax - Monolith Cocktail

Thomas Truax   ‘I’ve Got To Know’

From the rambunctious strange mind and eyeball metaphorical looning workshop of the maverick Thomas Truax, another voyeuristic peek inside his recent Jetstream Sunset LP (reviewed here recently…). With his wingman, one half of the equally wild and weird Dresden Dolls, Brian Viglione, amusing himself with a tribal drum circle of pursuing breaks, Thomas wheels away on his own ‘mother superior’ drum machine and fiddles with his homemade ‘scary aerial’ to create another daft but highly intoxicating deadpan marvel of Gothic post punk.

flies + flies   ‘Later On’

Featured back in 2014 on the blog, the failed art project transduced into a successive meld of finely tailored concrete electronica and heart aching soul, flies+flies are back with another one of their raspy synth flavored songs of controlled and languid rage. Building on their ‘Bad Crab Hand’ debut, ‘Later On’ is a gracefully brooding affair, moving along in (as the video’s protagonists enact) a choreographed fashion.

Reptile Youth   ‘Away’  4th May 2015

Thumping shuffled drums with hints of Flaming Lips, MGMT and an L.A. relaxed niteflight ELO, Reptile Youth carve out a very glowing niche for themselves. Not entirely sure of exactly where this one is heading, only that’s a psychedelic pop nugget that demands your attention…yeah you. If you find this upcoming ‘Away’ single to your taste, an EP is slated to follow in June.

Words: Dominic Valvona

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