Retroactive Listening


Four great new bands.
Two writers.
One sound.


Cambrian Explosion

Put on your headphones and zone out for half an hour. That’s my recommendation to best enjoy the experimental psychedelic rock of Oregon’s Cambrian Explosion. Go on. Give your mind a break.

The serene intro track “Selene” segues beautifully into “Looming Eye”, the spiralling wonder of the overarching main riff bleeding through the gaps in both space and time. A helical trajectory that is eventually backed by some descending Manzarek-esque organs, and later by some warbling guitar lead that undergoes a glorious three staged metamorphosis. From a Kevin Parker wail, bending into an Adam Jones wah-freakout and ultimately into a more sedate twangy slide-driven affair that recalls the stunning work of Ryan from Tempel on last year’s The Moon Lit Our Path, this lead takes you on a little journey all of its own. There’s a good reason “Looming Eye” is the first (proper) track the band chose to feature – it’s a great introduction into the colourful and dynamic style of this young quartet.

Next up is “Mugen = Mugen”, an organ-laced rocker that will no doubt please fans of early 2000’s Clutch. The song is an interesting mix of influences, bound together and ultimately unified by the bass track. During its 7-minute run-time, both the guitars and percussion traipse through quite a vast sonic territory, incorporating bongos and slowly building crescendos composed of placid motifs that gently tap on your mind’s eye. While not overly dramatic, this middle passage does a great job of setting everything up for the big return to the track’s main theme, for a stomping outro.

The penultimate song “Innocuous Creatures” (embedded above) shows the band at their most eclectic, as the band let their spirit soar on the winds of change and experiment with a variety of genres, often at the same time. The result is fantastic. This track could be played at the coolest bar/pub/party/hall/hacky-sack tournament in town without anyone complaining it was “harshing their buzz, maaaann”. Starting out wandering through a hazy Middle Eastern desert before jetting over to the Caribbean for a calypso flavoured mento to cool off, and spending a great deal of time in the clouds above on the way, “Innocuous Creatures” is a heady blend, equal parts zesty and intoxicating. Finally, “Crust of Theia” feels like a prolonged outro to the piece. And while it has quite a nice Satriani style vamp to it, the track doesn’t really travel the distance of its peers. Which isn’t to say it’s bad, but it is definitely more of a snoozer, relative to the rest of the material on offer here. This doesn’t really do much to detract from the EP overall though, as by the time you hit that final stretch, you already feel like you’ve had a decent jaunt around some long forgotten lands.

Although the band have two members listed as performing vocal duties (drummer Ben, and guitarist Nori) their actual prevalence is quite minimal, only sporadically appearing throughout the 5 tracks. Even when the vocals do appear, they tend to be set back in the mix and function only to supplement the instrumentation. Of course, it will not surprise many of you to hear that I find this facet of Cambrian Explosion’s sound to be pleasing, as the music tells the story more than adequately. This little gem of an EP shows a young band eager to experiment, through channelling what are clearly a diverse set of influences, and in doing so, create something both genuine and unique. (– Lacertilian)

RIYL: Sunset In The 12th House, Samsara Blues Experiment, Sun Mammuth.


Mt. Mountain

Ever wonder what direction The Doors may have taken had Jim Morrison remained extant for the duration of the 1970’s? Yeah, me too. Well, Perth’s Mt. Mountain might provide the perfect example.

Sure, they are some big bell-bottoms to fill, but this young Australian band bear a remarkable resemblance to the acid-drenched sounds the legendary act were capable of. What they lack of the progenitors style in the overtly sexual Epicurean-sense, they make up for with resplendent psychedelia. Like the waters of the Indian Ocean lapping the sun-scorched desert sands of the West Australian coast, waves of distant warmth arrive in regular intervals. Their soothing tidal ebb-and-flow sometimes coinciding with grand celestial alignments, culminating in king tides that submerge your mind deep beyond its plane of consciousness. The thick fuzzy bass lines bob along, buoyant atop the relaxed drum beats, while the guitars and organ reflect off this sea surface, shimmering back towards their solar creator, rendered ever more beautiful from the momentary contact (check track 5 “Moon Desire” above).

Having released a couple of EPs in 2014, this year saw the 5-piece pen their first full-length Cosmos Terros, a 6 song affair that gradually melts over its near 40-minute duration like a scoop of delicious rainbow ice-cream left in the Summer sun. Mt. Mountain may not share as clear a sonic link to fellow Western Australians Tame Impala as say Dr. Goddard (featured here), but the sinuous and kaleidoscopic elements of their sound are as equally hallucinogenic as anything found on Innerspeaker, and will please both the casual listener and fully-fledged day-trippers alike. (-Lacertilian)

FFO: The Black Angels, (old) Tame Impala, The Doors.


Electric Citizen – Higher Time

“See you at the party later!” shouts your friend from the top of the stairwell as he disappears into his apartment. You’ve been looking forward to this party all week, work was a drag and you need a chance to unwind. Homeward bound, you stop by the corner station for a quick bite and run into the girl from 314 that you’ve been trying to hook up with. “There’s a party later”, you mutter to her, “if you’re interested.” “Yeah, no thanks”, she replies and heads out the door. After that bummer of a moment, you’re not sure if you want to go to the party or not. You promised everyone you’d be there so you decide to go anyway. Besides, you heard there’s going to be a killer band playing. After stopping by your house to grab your new Heart t-shirt you make it to the party just in time for the band to start. Electric Citizen grace the stage, and after a raucous intro of cymbals and feedback they dive straight into “Two-Hearted Woman”. Work and girl troubles melt away, tonight is going to be fantastic.

Cincinnati’s Electric Citizen first stepped on the scene in 2014 with their debut album Sateen, and after touring with the likes of Pentagram, Fu Manchu, and Wolfmother, they are back with a vengeance. Higher Time shows the band progressing as both songwriters and performers, becoming tighter and crisper in the span of just two years. Laura Dolan’s vocals, reminiscent of Grace Slick, soar above the churning psychedelic guitar riffs and organ melodies that make Higher Time a trip worth taking. I can’t help but enjoy the Surrealistic Pillow-esque album cover either. The songs “Higher Time” and “Two-Hearted Woman” are the highlights for me, the former delving into dark psychedelic atmospheres and the latter being a romp through heavy riffing territory. Simultaneously reaching back to 1968 for groove and 1973 for riffs, Electric Citizen create a spectacle of retro-rock that is illustrious to behold. (– Boss The Ross)


Duel – Fears of the Dead

The party last night was a rager. Good music, good beer, good company. The journey home was a blur, but you managed to make it back to the comfort of your own bed. To your great dismay however, the alarm on the bedside table abruptly awakens you at the crack of dawn. It’s not even Monday yet. “Dang!”. Not feeling the urge for more sleep you drag yourself up and out of bed. Sluggishly, you wander to the record player. Flipping through your collection you find the album needed for this unexpectedly early Sunday morning, Duel’s Fears of the Dead. As the needle drops, your speakers fizzle and pop to life. “It’s a cruel world, when time chews on you!” comes forth and brings you out of the comatose of the party. Feeling rejuvenated, you don your finest pair of bell-bottoms, a Blue Cheer t-shirt and your favorite jean jacket. You are ready for whatever life throws at you today. But first, you need to finish listening to this record.

Duel is a band formed in Austin, Texas featuring ex-members of Scorpion Child, who play a groovy blend of 1970’s proto-metal and stoner rock. Their debut album, Fears of the Dead, is chock full of head-bobbing riffs that will surely bring a smile to even the dreariest listeners’ face. The album traverses through horror and somber doom-laden tales of time passing, watery beasts, alien invasion, self-contemplation, love and nightmares that would make Phil Lynott proud. To further the 70’s vibe on this record, the band keeps it at an LP length of 38 minutes that has two definite sides. Side A has the intimidating, gruff, quick riffs and vocal deliveries, while Side B has a seemingly more relaxed and laid back aura, utilizing an easier-going tempo and mood. Highlights of the album are the side A and B closers,  “Fell to the Earth” and “Locked Outside”, respectively. The latter is an 8 minute trip starting with one of the best bass intros since “Spacegrass” and takes the listeners from atop a high mountain peak, plunges them through deep, psychedelic valleys and leaves them fulfilled with one final crescendo. Fears of the Dead is truly a satisfying journey. (– Boss The Ross)

h/t to Eliza for sharing Duel a while back.

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