The Fierce & The Dead, with a new body in Steve Cleaton (keys/fx/guitar), return from Morecambe with their new release, On VHS, continuing their mission of taking post and instrumental rock to places they sometimes don’t go, this time with a focus that makes On VHS seem both leaner (and meaner) and more expansive. All the trademark discipline and top-shelf execution is there of their other outings, but On VHS has a much more immediate punch and thrust that elevates the urgency. Opener 666…6 is the calling card, not so much setting the pace (Hawaii picks that up with a speed-metal gallop) as it does the intent. One thing TFATD have had out of the gate is an inherent class; from composition to skill to their uncanny grip on not strictly what they do, but what they can do. The use of loops is lessened somewhat (countered by the addition of Cleaton) without disavowing where they’ve already been and are coming from. The title cut is more contemplative than the twin barrels of 666…6 and Hawaii, eventually ramping up the intensity by the end without leaving their past accomplishments in the dust. Part 3, an obvious nod to their debut,stretches out the running time, but not the welcome. As mysterious and brooding as Part 1 and 2, it’s undercut with a vibe of melancholia, and given it’s place in the line, a whiff of nostalgia. Packed full of dynamics, introduced by 666…6′s meticulous waffling between quieter lulls and bursts of thrust, On VHS surrenders to neither finding a sweet spot between heft, drive and thoughtfulness. Those who have followed TFATD this far won’t disappointed. If this is the introduction, it’s as good a place to start as any to discover what they’re all about, where they’ve been and, more importantly, all the places they can still go to.
Brooklyn’s Eidetic Seeing return after their s/t EP with the voracious long-player Drink the Sun. Produced by Evan Sobel of La Otracina, Drink the Sun isa blissed and blitzed attack of controlled squall and ‘acid drenched’ pyrotechnics. Though Eidetic Seeing’s assaultwas recorded live and uncut, Drink the Sun still captures their abrasive and distorted heft, but with slightly more focus and drive that does nothing to temper their assault. If anything, it makes it clearer and all the more jagged. Where Eidetic Seeing delivered on the promise of their name, Drink the Sun does the same with the foundation laid down by that debut. Even on the more moderate cuts like No Pilot, the key is their grind, or the threat of it. Drink the Sun chews up the playing time, and itself in some places, churning out waves of heavy, raw psych. Paul Feitzinger (drums/synthesizer) and Danilo Randjic-Coleman (bass) provide a backbone and a guard rail to hold onto as Sean Forlenza’s solar-flared guitar implodes and explodes. The guitar is right up in and slapping your face, and may seem too prominent at first, but after you get the gist of the mission, it all pools together into a tasty psych stew. Like No Pilot, it’s not all in the red or out of control, though if you blink you might lose that place to catch your breath. The title cut goes for a more subdued and controlled campaign, while the revisited Variations on a reinterpretation of Lord Śiva gets a new leg up slowly edging out any obstacles and building up. It’s Brick Out is a tight barn-burner with Forlenza’s guitar carving and hewing out a mountain of sound and creating a space for the bottom-end to take root. The fantastic Deep Falafel Pocket returns as well for round two, still in fighting shape and sending surges out poking holes in the ether and filling up the vacuum with its own kind of mass. Even down in the deepest nooks of the furnace, with everything cooking and the wall of sound crashing down, Eidetic Seeing are steering Drink the Sun right where they want it to go and where it can leave the biggest footprint…here on their scorched Earth or elsewhere…out there…
Primeribneon/Waves and Radiation :: Eidetic Seeing :: Drink the Sun (2011, Eidetic Seeing)
Seven Long Years unleash some groovy psych pop on Chained to Your Love, conjuring up outfits like Yardbirds on through to Roky, among others. Fuzzy, bouncing and packed full of hooks, Chained to Your Love churns out nuggets one after another, whether it’s the horn pumped stand out call to arms Take Over the World, thefrenziedbeatnik beached Dance Around the Fire or the smooth hum of Stop What You’re Doin’. Las Vegas Jesus gets a little personal with its chug, but leaves the real soul to closer A Very Easy Explanation, where the horns and keys get to workagain. It’s eccentric enough, vocal stylings included, to leap-frog over gimmicky rehash that has no personality making Chained to Your Love a tight record that doesn’t skimp on the hooks.
Stop What You’re Doin’ :: Seven Long Years :: Chained to Your Love (2012, Seven Long Years)
Jack Jeffery follows up his debut, Passage to Agadir, with The Constant That Remains, a more consistent outing of that same laid back vibe, but with a stronger focus start to finish. Constant has as much variety as Agadir, but with the cuts transitioning more comfortably in and out of each other giving it that much more momentum.
Constant’s tinge of mellow electronics keep it in the here and now, though Jeffery makes no bones about tipping his hat to Floyd, The Beatles, Alan Parsons… he injects them into his own tunes, pulling that constant along and through. For those who recoil in fear of music embracing some form of ’prog,’ thinking a requirement for gold sequined capes (which I fully advocate) is unshakable, Jeffery mines a more singer/songwriter take on it keeping the bloat to a minimum and making the project more personal. The variety between the likes of Gavotte for African Steel Guitar, the Gilmour conjuring The Sirius Wall or the laid back drift of Rearranged keep Constant floating without going adrift. Valencian Cosmos starts to lift off a bit higherin a heavily electronic arch before Ascendancy pulses into a dense final chug. Carry On mines part of a rolling golden Alan Parsons vibe to branch out to a long close.
Jeffery checks a lot of influences and touchstones, but he maintains his voice throughout. That’s made even more clear by the fact that Jeffery handles everything himself. For as well layered as it all is together though, it would be interesting to hear Jeffery and his music handled by a full band. In either situation, real or imagined, Jeffery is the constant that…remains. A great follow-up to a strong debut, The Constant That Remains is self-released by Jeffery and is available at CDBaby and the other constants.
The Sirius Wall :: Jack Jeffery :: The Constant That Remains (2012, Jack Jeffery)
"This show is 110% … one of the most consistently awesome programs we have come across."
The Sunrise Ocean Bender sets sail every Monday morning, 1 – 3 a.m. on WRIR lp 97.3 FM, to find something for your ears, and something for your head … From psych to prog to pop and whatever tributary we can find on the way … and right back around again. There might be a map, but the destination is up for grabs. If it all goes right, we may just get lost. Meet me at the muster station … it might be a long week.