Category: psych blues

Throwback: Happy 79th Birthday, Jimi Hendrix!

JOVM celebrates what would have been Jimi Hendrix’s 79th birthday.

New Video: The Murlocs Release a Surreal Visual for Melancholy “Bittersweet Demons”

With the release of their first four albums, The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues. which they’ve supported as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — and as a headlining act, as well.

The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell raisers and other assorted mystifying and complex characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon‘s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson‘s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats. 

In the buildup to the album’s release, I’ve managed to write about two of Bittersweet Demons’ singles:

The Tim Karmouche penned “Francesca,” a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper with a subtle New Wave polish written for Kenny-Smith’s mother, who found a new lease on life through newfound love. 
“Eating At You,” a slow-burning and melancholic sing-a-long that subtly recalls “I Got Friends in Low Places,” with the song being an ode to those deeply troubled friends and erstwhile n’er-do-wells of life that you can’t help but love.

Bittersweet Demons’ third and latest single is the mid-tempo, piano-driven, jangling blues and album title track “Bittersweet Demons.” And unlike its immediate predecessor, the song is one of those melancholy, pour some of your booze out for the dead homies jam that becomes sadly all too common when you get older.

“I was messing around with the tune on the piano for a while but never knew where to take it lyrically,” The Murlocs’ Kenny-Smith recalls in press notes. “Over time the bones of the song sat away in the back of my mind waiting for the right time to come back out and be pieced together properly. Whilst we were on tour in America in 2019 one of my sweetest and dearest friends Keegan Walker passed away. His presence was unlike any other I have ever experienced. That kind of person that’s forever filling you up with joyous excitement. Someone that always took the time and effort to be in your life and support you through the thick and thin no matter what. Every time I came home from tour he was always the first to contact me and come by with some croissants and a handful of lavender that he’d pick from my front garden. Keegan was always there for his friends. A few days after the funeral I sat back down to play at the piano and the words started to come out and feel right. I reckon Keegan would’ve loved this song, he loved this kind of soppy stuff cause he’s a softie just like me.”

Directed and edited by Guy Tyzack, the recently released video for “Bittersweet Demons” was shot on grainy Super 8 Film and follows the adventures and memories of a lonely house that misses his human friends — and at one point is looking for a human to inhabit it.

New Video: The Murlocs Release a Slow-burning and Bluesy Ode to Troubled Friends

With the release of their first four albums, The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues. which they’ve supported both as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and as a headliner. 

The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell raisers and other assorted mystifying characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon‘s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson‘s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats. 

Last month, I wrote about Bittersweet Demons first single, the Tim Karmouche penned “Francesca,” a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper with a subtle New Wave polish written for Kenny-Smith’s mother, who found a new lease on life through newfound love. Bittersweet Demons’ second and latest single “Eating At You” is a slow-burning and melancholic sing-a-long centered around wailing harmonica, shuffling rhythms, some shimmering pedal steel, Kenny-Smith’s most plaintive and earnest delivery of his career. In some way, “Eating At You” is The Murlocs’ “I Got Friends in Low Places,” as a rousingly anthemic ode to those deeply troubled friends and erstwhile n’er-do-wells of life. “it’s an ode to all the lovable train wrecks out there that have gone off the rails and keep going back for more,” The Murlocs’ Ambrose Kenny-Smith explains. “The never-ending vortex cycle. Some seem to never learn their lesson even when it smacks them right in the face constantly. It’s important to address these issues before disaster strikes and it’s too late. Never give up on your loved ones when they’re in need of a helping hand.”

 Directed, edited and shot by John Angus Stewart, the recently released video for “Eating At You” begins with someone spray-painting “Eating At U” on Kenny-Smith’s orange sweatshirt. We then follow Kenny-Smith getting fucked up with a collection of homies in an abandoned and graffiti covered public bathroom but as the video continues we see the night slide into anarchic chaos and despair. And throughout, there’s something a bit menacing but off-kilter.

New Video: The Murlocs Release a Feel-Good 80s Inspired Ode to Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s Mom

The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues that the band has supported both as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig,. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and as a headliner.

The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell racists and other assorted mystifying characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson’s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats.

Bittersweet Demons first single “Francesca” was written by the band’s Tim Karmouche — and sonically, finds the band crafting a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper that subtly adds a New Wave polish to the fuzzy psych rock barnburners that have won them national and international attention. To my ears, the members of The Murlocs have managed to write a road trip anthem that’s arena rock friendly. “The song is about my mother, and show she had been lost for love since the separation from my father, when I was, 10,” Kenny-Smith explains in press notes. “In the last year and a half or so, she’s found love again, with a very close family friend of ours, someone, who has always been a godfather and mentor to me in many ways. This has changed her spirit immensely for the better. You can really see the pop in her step as this enormous weight has been lifted off her shoulders.”

Kenny-Smith mentions that some of his favorite songs are odes to impressive women — i.e. Van Morrison’s “Gloria” — and says, “Francesca is my mother’s middle name and I’ve always loved it so much.” The Murlocs frontman adds “It’s probably the most positive, feel-good song we’ve ever done. It’s also the closest we’ve ever come to having an 80’s phase.”

Directed by Alex Mclaren, the recently released video for “Francesca” was shot last April. Melbourne was coming out of its first pandemic-related lockdown and restrictions were eased for a short period of time. The band and director quickly jumped on the opportunity to shoot while they had the chance, presumably recognizing that they may not get another chance. And for such an 80’s-like anthem, the video features the titular Francesca, Kenny-Smith and the band driving around in a convertible and rocking out, as well as 80’s computerized graphics and fade outs. The car footage was shot on Melbourne’s Ivanhoe Blvd., near where Kenny-Smith’s mom grew up. That part of the footage was informed by the video for Randy Newman’s “I Love LA.”

New Video: Sweden’s Blues Pills Releases an Explosive and Anthemic Ripper

Rapidly rising Örebro, Sweden-based rock quartet Blues Pills — founding members and primary songwriters Zack Anderson (guitar) and Elin Larsson (vocals), along with André Kvarnström (drums) and Kristoffer Schander (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2011. Shortly after their formation, the band quickly established a unique sound that drew from psych rock and the blues, which led to the band playing dirty and crowded bars to playing some of  Scandinavia’s largest festivals, including Download, Rock am Ring and Wacken open Air. 

Fueled by a restless desire for reinvention, the band went through a bit of a hiatus that eventually led to their third, full-length album Holy Moly! Slated for an August 21, 2020 release through Nuclear Blast Records, the self-produced and self-recorded album was recorded in the band’s self-built studio, located in  an abandoned factory in Nårke, Sweden, along with some assistance from The Hives’ Nicolaus Arson and Johan Gustafsson, and Rovljud Sound’s Martin Jacobsson — and the album sees the band returning toothier roots: gritty rock with a bit of soul. 

“Kiss My Past Goodbye,” Holy Moly!’s third and latest single is a raw and bluesy rock song centered around a funky, wah-wah pedaled riff, thunderous drumming, an enormous, arena rock friendly hook and Larsson’s soulful vocals, in a brash, zero fucks given tell off that sounds a bit like The Kills, The Hives and others. “‘Kiss My Past Goodbye’ is a song full of raw power, funky riffs and wild drumming,” Blues Pills’ Zack Anderson says in press notes. “It’s a clear message about moving on, staying true to yourself, and not drawing on your past.” 

The recently released video features the members of the band performing the song with some aptly psychedelic backdrops and filters. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard Release a Strutting and Shimmering Retro-Futuristic Boogie Blues

Over the course of 2017, the Melbourne, Australia-based psych rock septet and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, comprised of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, and flute), Ambrose Kenny Smith (synths, harmonica), Cook Craig (guitar), Joey Walker (guitar), Lucas Skinner (bass), Eric Moore (drums) and Michael Cavanagh (drums) released five albums — with each album consisting of material in a wildly different genre and style from the other, further cementing the band’s reputation for being restlessly prolific. Flying Microtonal Banana and The Murder of the Universe, two albums released within that incredibly prolific run found the acclaimed Australian act pushing their thematic concerns and sound in new, and darkly trippy directions. 

For a band that has been as productive as the Melbourne-based JOVM mainstays, not having much in the way of new music last year seems extremely odd but they were busy with several other things — including: a relentless tour schedule that featured a headlining set at Desert Daze and three sold out-dates at Brooklyn Steel, the largest venue they’ve played in the States to date. Additionally, the band re-issued their first five albums on vinyl for the first time ever, and it created such a frenzied demand that the Flightless Records website crashed from the traffic.

The band’s fourteenth album, Fishing for Fishies is slated for an April 26, 2019 release through their own Flightless Records, and the album reportedly finds the band creating a sonic world in which the organic meets the automated; where the rustic meets the robotic; where the past and future collide in the beautiful present, as the material is essentially boogie blues that struts, shimmies and stomps through several different moods and terrains. “We tried to make a blues record,” says frontman Stu Mackenzie. “A blues-boogie-shuffle-kinda-thing, but the songs kept fighting it – or maybe it was us fighting them. Ultimately though we let the songs guide us this time; we let them have their own personalities and forge their own path. Paths of light, paths of darkness. This is a collection of songs that went on wild journeys of transformation.”

“I didn’t really know who I was by the end of 2017,” Mackenzie continues in press notes, about the band’s incredibly prolific 2017. “It was a good kind of spent feeling though, as I like being busy. For most of the holiday period I was in the studio doing the last of the recording and mixing on Gumboot Soup. And as soon as it clicked over to 2018 I stopped worrying about recording for a while and started living instead.” 

Written primarily on piano, the material on Fishing for Fishies is reportedly centered around recurring musical motifs — piano, mellotron and synth flourishes, paired with vocals drenched in vocoder, and a plethora of creative U-turns. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first single, “Cyboogie” found the band pushing their sound in a completely new direction, with five of its seven members playing synths in a funky and strutting disco boogie with heavily vocoder’ed vocals that brought From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder, The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk and DEVO to mind while actually being about a dancing cyborg from the future.  Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Boogieman Sam” is a retro-futuristic take on boogie blues that’s one part Marc Bolan and T. Rex, one part John Lee Hooker, one part prog rock freakout that struts and shimmies. 

Seth Olinsky is perhaps best known for being the primary songwriter, frontman and guitarist of influential and renowned underground noise folk punk act Akron/Family — and his solo project Cy Dune has developed a reputation for celebrating raw  and primordial rock that has drawn from his work with Akron/Family, Swans’ Micheal Gira and Rhys Chatham, as well as collaborations with Hamid Drake, William Parker, Keiji Haino and Tatsuya Nakatani among others.

Olinsky’s latest effort The Desert initially came about after experimenting with making drum loops on a refurbished Alan Lomax Ampex 601-2, pushing a clash of layered 16th notes and African inspired triplet relationships to create a new, repetitive drum sound.  That early experimentation wound up inspiring some of the meta sampling on Summer Rebels; however, with The Desert, the sampling is a much rawer form, while featured layered and energetic playing from backing band and collaborators drummer Andrew Barker, bassist William Parker, who has worked with Cecil Taylor and Peter Brotzman, and bassist Shazad Ismaily. who has worked with Marc Ribot and Sam Amidon. Initially written in the Sonoran Desert after Olinsky and Lighting Records co-founder Ali Beletic relocated to the desert in 2010, the material was tested as various adobe house shows around Tucson, in open desert arroyos running off of battery power at organized sound/noise poetry happenings that featured poetry professors from the University of Arizona and their friends from Montana and Oregon, who were traveling through town — and then eventually at SXSW with 40 drummers, including Akron/Family’s Dana Janssen, Megafaun‘s Joey Westerland, Son Lux‘s Ian Chang and Jobs’ Max Jaffe.

Olinsky relocated to Joshua Tree in 2014 and he continued to further deconstruct and develop the desert blues songs he originally wrote in 2010, with some material becoming part of pieces cut together with Ampex samples of old blues tunes, eventually becoming post-minimalist compositions which he performed in the Integratron, before being installed in the desert with multiple amplifiers run off generators. The Desert interestingly enough is the first of a series of archival Cy Dune releases that Lighting Records will be releasing this year, before a full-length of new, original material next year — but in the meantime, The Desert‘s first single is the explosive, John Lee Hooker and George Thorogood boogie blues meets psych blues-like “Desert 3.” Centered around a stomping drum progression, an inspired and fiery bit of guitar playing from Olinsky, the song possesses a feral and almost unhinged urgency.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Murlocs Strutting Glam Rock-like Take on Psych Blues

Led by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and featuring Kenny-Smith’s bandmate Cook Craig, as well as Cal Shortal, Matt Blach and Tim Karmouche, The Murlocs specialize in a fuzzy and distorted psych blues. In their native Australia, they’ve played across their homeland’s festival circuit and have opened for the likes of internationally acclaimed acts like Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. 

Building upon a growing profile, the Aussie quintet’s forthcoming Stu Mackenzie-produced third full-length effort, Manic Candid Episode is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Flightless Records. The album’s second and latest single “Withstand” is a swaggering and strutting blues ripper that nods at classic glam rock, complete with rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy hooks, explosive blasts of harmonica and big, distortion-filled power chords. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — brings T. Rex, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and King Bee-era Muddy Waters to my mind but with a lysergic haze. Fittingly, the Alex McLaren-created video for the song draws from classic 60s and 70s rock promotional videos, as it features the members of The Murlocs performing the song in front of a psychedelic backdrop.