Tag: Sub Pop Records

Live Footage: Moaning Performs “Artificial” at Tapetown Studios

Over the better part of this year, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based trio Moaning, and as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Sean Solomon, Pascal Stevenson and Andrew MacKelvie have spent the past few years crafting a moody and angular sound that draws from shoegaze, slacker rock and post-punk — and as a result, the Southern Californian trio has received attention both nationally and internationally from the likes of The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine, Stereogum, and others.

Moaning’s self-titled, full-length debut was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records, and the album’s fourth single “Artificial” is centered around angular guitar and bass chords, thundering drumming and an anthemic hook — and while recalling Joy Division, Interpol, Preoccupations and others; but just under the surface, the song bristles with a tense an uneasy self-awareness of the narrator’s own artifice, superficiality and ugliness, as well as that of the larger world he lives in. 
Interestingly, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the 18 months or so, you’d also recall that Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus have been inviting national. regional and even internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studios for a live session, which they film and release through the interwebs. And during that time, they’ve invited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his primary project The Fresh & Onlys, renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes,  Malmo, Sweden-based punk rock act Sista Bossen, Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet ONBC and a growing list of others. The members of Moaning had stopped by Tapetown Studios during their second European Union tour, and performed an urgent rendition of the attention-grabbing “Artificial” as part of the Tapetown Studio sessions. Check it. 

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New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Releases Trippy Visuals for Mediative Album Single “Drunk in LA”

Throughout a significant portion of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Baltimore-based JOVM mainstays  Beach House, and as you may recall, the duo which is comprised of founding and primary members  Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014.
7, the Baltimore-based indie rock’s seventh full-length album was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and the recording sessions found the band working with  Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism.  The album also features the band’s most recent live drummer James Barone, who as the duo say in press notes, helped “keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.”

“Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”

So far, Beach House has released a handful of singles off the album — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; “Dark Spring,” a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook; and “Black Car,” which found the duo gently pushing their sound away from their known formula as it was centered around arpeggiated and atmospheric synths.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Drunk in LA” differs from the video version, as Kember remixed the song for the video, making the focus of the slow-burning and meditative poem-like song Legrand’s ethereal vocals and the arpeggiated synths, which as the duo says highlights the lonesome quality of the song — but it also evokes the sort of lonely regret that comes about late at night, when you’re left to contemplate the events of your life. 

As the duo say of the video treatment, “While mixing the record with Alan Moulder in London, we were out having dinner and Pete mentioned an idea for a video where the viewer is always looking up from the ground. This became the ‘Drunk in LA’ video. When he sent it to us, we complimented and commented on the trippy, dreamlike nature of the video and he wrote that it was essentially just a day in his life.”
 

New Audio: Mudhoney Delivers a Searing Indictment of Our Reality TV and Social Media-based Culture

Currently comprised of founding members Mark Arm (vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Turner (lead guitar) and Guy Maddison (bass), along with Dan Peters (drums), who joined the band in 1999, the Seattle, WA-based alt rock/grunge rock band Mudhoney officially formed back in 1988  — although the band can trace its origins to the breakup of Green River, a proto-grunge band that at one point featured Alex Vincent (drums), Jeff Ament (bass), Steve Turner, and Stone Gossard (guitar). After releasing two EPs, and several lineup changes, Green River eventually split up with Bruce Fairweather, Gossard and Ament eventually joining Mother Love Bone. Now, if you know your grunge history, you’d know that after Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood died from an overdose, Gossard and Ament went on to form Pearl Jam while Arm and Turner reunited to form Mudhoney, and the rest as they say is history — right?

Mudhoney’s earliest releases through Sub Pop Records — namely “Touch Me I’m Sick” and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP wound up becoming massively influential with the band being credited as being the godfathers of Seattle’s grunge rock sound, a sound that we all know is generally centered around scuzzy, distortion pedal heavy power chords. But despite their towering influence on alt rock, the band has never really seen much commercial success — although Nirvana covered Mudhoney during their legendary Unplugged, filmed and recorded a few weeks before Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

Slated for a September 28, 2018 through their longtime label home, the beloved Pacific Northwest-based grunge legends tenth full-length album Digital Garbage is reportedly, one of the band’s most sociopolitically incisive and blistering albums they’ve recorded; in fact, Digital Garbage‘s first single “Paranoid Core” captures the distrust of experts and facts, the rampant fear-mongering and emotional exploitation and the very primal, lizard-brained instinctual response that rules our current zeitgeist. And its all centered around boozy, old school punk rock guitar chords, a propulsive back beat and bass line. Western civilization and American democracy collapsing before our very eyes but goddamn it, there’s at least rock ‘n’ roll to save our souls for a little bit. “Kill Yourself Live,” the latest single is a searing indictment of our vapid and insipid reality TV-show and social media-based culture, suggesting that people could literally kill themselves live on a TV show or on Instagram Live — and it would likely be highly rated or get a shit ton of likes on the ‘gram baby. Considering that the President of the United States is a reality TV Internet troll, anything — holy shit, anything is fucking possible. Sonically speaking, the single continues in a similar vein as its predecessor — but manages to nod at DEVO and 60s psych rock simultaneously for a subtle mind trip.

Live Footage: Knife Knights on KEXP

If you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this site you’ve been made familiar with Ishmael Butler, the founder of the critically applauded and groundbreaking hip-hop acts Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. A decade ago Butler was preparing to emerge from several years of near-complete silence. In the summer of 2009, Butler unveiled Shabazz Palaces through a pair of self-released EPs that quickly established the project’s unique sound — complex and hyper literate verses paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms. And from the start confidentiality was essential: Butler wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength, and not on his established reputation, so he adopted a pseudonym for himself.

As the project’s profile and network expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his creative pursuits and collaborations; in fact, Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who’s also a vital and important collaborator in Butler’s Shabazz Palaces. Interestingly, Blood and Butler’s collaboration and friendship can trace its origins to when the duo were introduced at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive fan of Digital Planets, and naturally he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have signed — and Butler dutifully provided.

Over the course of the next few years, they’d run into one another by chance and sometimes they’d make small talk about possibly working together. When Butler finally sent Blood a few sons to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. Interestingly, Butler, who grew up a student of hip-hop began absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes while Blood, an ardent hip-hop fan had always been an inclusive and obsessive music listener; in fact, on every Shabazz Palaces album, Butler and Blood have specifically focused on and delighted at that artistic intersection, constantly indoctrinating hip-hop in new sonic territories. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

After a decade of collaboration together and the development of a very rich and dear friendships, Butler and Blood have written and recorded a proper full-length together as Knife Knights — 1 Time Mirage, an album that finds the duo and a cast of collaborators and friends creating and weaving a unique sound that meshes soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, bass, noise and chaos wth the album representing a free space for unfettered and radical exploration. Interestingly, the album’s material was recorded in the three sessions, interrupted by Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets tour schedules and Blood’s recording projects.

Butler, Blood, and a cast of collaborators and friends were invited into Seattle’s KEXP for their live debut, where they performed material off their forthcoming album, slated for a September 14, 2018 release through Sub Pop Records. And while bearing a subtle similarity to their work together in Shabazz Palaces, Blood and Butler’s Knife Knights work manages to feel like a refinement of it while being altogether separate. Yes, they employ samplers and synths but there’s an organic and muscular heft through the use of bass and guitar. And as you’ll hear from the songs they performed during this live session are a bit of a subtle refinement of the duo’s acclaimed work with Shabazz Palaces  but while leaning closer to shoegaze — it’s lysergic but with a swaggering hip-hop vibe that can only be possible through this unique and thrillingly weird collaboration. 

New Audio: Mudhoney Releases an Incisive and Furious Single from First Full-length Album in Over 5 Years

Currently comprised of founding members Mark Arm (vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Turner (lead guitar) and Guy Maddison (bass), along with Dan Peters (drums), who joined the band in 1999, the Seattle, WA-based alt rock/grunge rock band Mudhoney officially formed back in 1988 although the band can trace its origins to the breakup of Green River, a proto-grunge band that at one point featured Alex Vincent (drums), Jeff Ament (bass), Steve Turner, and Stone Gossard (guitar). After releasing two EPs, and several lineup changes, Green River eventually split up with Bruce Fairweather, Gossard and Ament eventually joining Mother Love Bone. Now, if you know your grunge history, you’d know that after Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood died from an overdose, Gossard and Ament went on to form Pearl Jam while Arm and Turner reunited to form Mudhoney.

Mudhoney’s earliest releases through Sub Pop Records — namely “Touch Me I’m Sick” and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP wound up becoming massively influential with the band being credited as being the godfathers of Seattle’s grunge rock sound, a sound that we all know is generally centered around scuzzy, distortion pedal heavy power chords. But despite their towering influence on alt rock, the band has never really seen much commercial success — although Nirvana covered Mudhoney during their legendary Unplugged, filmed and recorded a few weeks before Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

Slated for a September 28, 2018 through their longtime label home, the beloved Pacific Northwest-based grunge legends tenth full-length album Digital Garbage is reportedly, one of the band’s most sociopolitically incisive and blistering albums they’ve recorded; in fact, Digital Garbage’s first single “Paranoid Core” captures the distrust of experts and facts, the rampant fear-mongering and emotional exploitation and the very primal, lizard brained instinctual response that rules our current zeitgeist. And its all centered around boozy, old school punk rock guitar chords, a propulsive back beat and bass line. Western civilization and American democracy are about to collapse before our very eyes but goddamn it, there’s at least rock ‘n’ roll.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Release Gorgeously Cinematic Visuals for “Black Car”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Baltimore-based indie rock act Beach House. And as you may recall, the duo, which is comprised of founding and primary members Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014. And while they were individual efforts, they were meat to be viewed as companion pieces that build upon similar themes and an overall  sound centered around sparse and atmospheric arrangements of organ, guitar and Legrand’s ethereal vocals.

The Baltimore-based indie rock act’s seventh, full-length album 7 was released last month through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and the recording sessions found the band working with  Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism.  Additionally, the album features Beach House’s most recent live drummer James Barone, who as Legrand and Scally say helped “keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.”

“Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”

So far, Beach House has released a handful of singles off the album — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; and “Dark Spring,” a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook. 7‘s latest single “Black Car” finds the duo pushing away from their well-known formula as its centered around twinkling and arpeggiated keys, atmospheric synths, paired with Legrand’s vocals.

Directed by Alistair Legrand, the recently released video for “Black Car,” fittingly features a black car — a Cadillac, I think — shot in a sumptuous and cinematic black and white, as it rides around desolate, late night streets. 

New Video: Moaning Releases Amorphous and Dada-esque Visuals for Slow-burning Album Single “Misheard”

Over the first couple of months of this year, I wrote about the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock trio Moaning, and as you may recall, the band comprised of Sean Solomon, Pascal Stevenson and Andrew MacKelvie have spent the past few years crafting  and refining a moody and angular post-punk sound that manages to draw influence equally from shoegaze and slacker rock. During that same period of time, the band has received attention both nationally and internationally from a number of major media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others.

The trio’s highly-anticipated, self-titled, full-length debut was released earlier this year through  Sub Pop Records, and album singles like the Joy Division/Interpol/Preoccupations-like “Artificial” and the moody and shimmering “Tired,” further cemented their reputation for moody post-punk with enormous, arena rock-like hooks. Unsurprisingly, the mid-tempo ballad “Misheard” continues in a similar vein, as it features angular guitar chords and enormous hooks but finds the band decidedly pushing their sound towards shoegaze and 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock, centered around lyrics that vacillate between self-loathing, confusion and regret — all familiar emotions that are engendered in the aftermath of an equally confusing and embittering relationship.

Directed by Steve Smith, the recently released video for “Misheard” continues the band’s string of accompanying their songs with surreal visuals — this time with some amorphous, neon-colored imagery that’s like a Dada-esque nightmare.

Live Footage: Hot Snakes Performing Material from Their First Album in 14 Years at The Troubadour on “Last Call with Carson Daly”

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about Hot Snakes, and as you may recall the band, which was led by its then-San Diego, CA-based founding duo of Swami John Reis and Rick Froberg formed in 1999 when Reis’ primary band Rocket from the Crypt went on hiatus after the departure of long-time drummer Atom Willard and when they were in between labels. And while searching for a new label and drummer, Reis started his own label Swami Records and began experimenting with other musicians, which resulted in the formation of Hot Snakes and Sultans. Hot Snakes in particular, can trace their origins to when Reis recorded a batch of material with Delta 72‘s Jason Kourkounis, and then contacted his former bandmate and collaborator Froberg to contribute vocals, and most of those recording sessions eventually comprised their full-length debut Automatic Midnight.

Although Reis and Froberg collaborated together in Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes proved to be a logistical challenge as Reis was in San Diego, Froberg had relocated in New York to start a career as a visual artist and illustrator, and Kourkounis was based in Philadelphia. Naturally, this resulted in sporadic and intense recording and touring schedules that frequently included bassist Gar Wood, best known for his work in Beehive and the Barracudas, Tanner and Fishwife. And while Hot Snakes shares some musical similarities to Reis’ and Froberg’s previous projects, they developed a reputation for a much more primal, garage punk sound influenced by Wipers, Suicide, and Michael Yonkers Band — and for a completely DIY approach to recording, touring and merchandise with the band releasing material through Reis’ Swami Records. (Unsurprisingly, Hot Snakes’ debut Automatic Midnight was the first release through Reis’ label.)

After releasing two more full-length albums, 2002’s Suicide Invoice and 2004’s Audit in Progress, the band called it a day in 2005 but they reunited for a world tour in 2011 which reportedly set the stage for the band’s fourth, full-length album Jericho Sirens, the band’s first album in 14 years, which was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records. Recored in short bursts over the past year in San Diego and Philadelphia, the album features Reis and Froberg collaborating with Wood and drummers Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba — both of whom have been on prior Hot Snakes albums but never on the same one until now. And as Reis explained in press notes for the album, one of the most rewarding aspects was continuing his  collaboration and creative partnership with Froberg. “Our perspectives are similar. Our tastes are similar. He is my family. And more is there to say? My favorite part of making this record was hearing him find his voice and direction for this record. I came hard,” Reis says.

Reportedly, the material thematically commiserates with the frustration and apathy of our daily lives while pointing out that generally we don’t have a fucking clue. As Froberg says of the album, “’Songs like ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ and ‘Jericho Sirens’ are about that. No matter where you look, there’re always people saying the world’s about to end. Every movie is a disaster movie. I’m super fascinated by it. It is hysterical, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It snowballs, like feedback, or my balls on the windshield.” Sonically, the album reportedly finds the band incorporating some of the most extreme fringes of their sound while staying true to their long standing influences — but interestingly, some songs feature nods to AC/DC and others. As Reis says in press notes, “It sounds like panic and chaos. Restlessness and unease. That’s a sound that I would ask for. I want that record. The inspiration would be simple, maybe even kind of straightforward. Very early rock ‘n’ roll DNA with lots of rules. I would find some note or rhythm in it that captivated me and I dwelled on it and bent it. That’s where I found dissonance. Bending and rubbing against each other uncomfortably. Marinate and refine. A lot of the other Hot Snakes records always had tension and release, but this one is mainly just tension.”

Recently, the member of Hot Snakes made their national, late night TV debut on Last Call with Carson Daly, which filmed the band performing three mosh pit friendly album singles — the anthemic and furious Curses-era Rye Coalition-like “Six Wave Hold-Down,” the blistering and “I Need a Doctor” and “Having Another?” And obviously, the live footage should be a ample taste of what to expect for the latest leg of the band’s tour that will include two NYC sets — a sold out June 4, 2018 stop at the Bowery Ballroom and a June 5, 2018 stop at Elsewhere.

New Video: The Breezy and Summery Visuals and Sounds of Wooden Shjjips’ Road Trip Anthem “Already Gone”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rockers Wooden Shjips, and as you may recall, although the act is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the band can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them, centered by the underlying idea that untrained musicians would have a different outlook on what music is and how it’s played, essentially bringing something fresh to to the table in a fashion reminiscent of the garage rockers of the early 60s, the  Velvet Underground and 70s punk rockers did. As the story goes, Dusty Jermier, one of the longest tenured members of the band was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never picked up before while members of earlier iterations of the band frequently had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs. 
Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup but with different intentions. Johnson, who’s a fan of largely impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. The band had purposely set out to make obscure albums that Johnson envisioned randomly leaving in libraries, thrift store margin bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals in Golden State Park to any and all comers, and the proceeds from the single went to the charitable foundation Food Not Bombs. Adding to a growing profile, the band’s second, real gig found them opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.

The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space, using a half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album a strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered-up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts adding later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records. Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his acclaimed side project Moon Duo, with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams. 

Written last summer, Johnson has publicly said that he has viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic of American life; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.” 

V’s first single ““Staring at the Sun” featured a shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out, and “Red Line,” its shoegazer rock meets classic psych rock-inspired follow up single may strike listeners and fans as a bit of return to form, as it features a hypnotic groove — while much like its predecessor, emphasizing slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad. The album’s latest single is the twangy, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young and Crazy Horse-like “Already Gone” — with a subtle twist to the proceedings, twinkling synths reminiscent of Who Are You-era The Who; but regardless of its influences, it’s the perfect road trip song, as it possesses an overwhelmingly optimistic view, centered on the possibility of new adventures, new friends, of transformation, of being lost and found within the double lines. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video begins with the band’s Johnson getting his bike to ride to the band’s studio space on a glorious day — much like today here in New York — to meet the rest of the band. And of course, they play some hackeysack together — because they’re hippies. But all is right and glorious: bullshitting with your friends and playing music is necessary in a world that’s mad. It’s sometimes the only thing you’ve got.