Monday, 17 October 2011

Hits From The Box #36 - Painkiller Blues

Hey gang. Its been a little slow again this week, but this time I have some legit reasons. Firstly, I don't have regular access to a computer, which sucks. But more importantly, I have screwed up my back, big time. My lower back muscles have seized on a nerve, sending me in painful spasms every few moments. Lying down becomes uncomfortable, yet to shift means more pain. I went to the docs on Friday to get some meds - and goddamn if they don't do a number on me! Its some spaced out awesomeness, and whilst its a legal high, I cant focus on much for a reasonable amount of time. I guess thats why the Wallabies losing abysmally to the All Blacks last night didnt really faze me... So if this Hits From The Box seems wishy washy, ill blame it on the drugs and back, not my poor writing skills.

First up is Ancient River, a psych rock trio from Gainesville, Florida. If you have any love for the idea of classic Neil Young & Crazy Horse crossed with Lynard Skynard (and you blood well should), their new album Songs From North America is likely to excite. It's an unashamed Americana rock album, fair removed from their previous, more psychedelic album O.D.D.S, and originally imagined for vinyl, its an economic 39 minutes, that still sounds epic.

Ancient River - Not Here
Ancient River - Flood

I've been intrigued by Stellar Hoax, the LP by Virginian act Borrowed Beams Of Light (out on speakertree/World Recs). Apparently the Voynich Manuscript, a centuries old handwritten book with unknown origins provides a thematic foundation for the album. I've read up on this and its something that is mesmerising in its own mystery. But back to the album. Frontmen Adam Brock and Nate Walsh have created ten tracks that burn with their own strange heat. Alternating from the rambunctiously poppy 'Holy Cow', to the ululating weirdness of 'Half Light', Stellar Hoax is shot through with high pitched harmonies and intricacies that beguile on repeated listens.

Borrowed Beams Of Light - Half Light
Borrowed Beams Of Light - Holy Cow
Borrowed Beams Of Light - Run Rabid Through The Haze

I can't claim to love all of Texan outfit James & the Douchebags' latest effort, Coitus Interruptus (although both band and album names are awesome). However I can't get enough of various tracks, especially opener 'Scout's Honor'. Another rad component is a series of short stories written to accompany each song on the album. The interesting premise is further augmented by the packaging - a hand made three ring binder filled with construction paper holding all the stories and images that follow the songs. It may be straight up snotty punk, but its a helluva lot of fun, and the entire package makes it a worthy effort. Grab Coitus Interruptus here.

James & the Douchebags - Scout's Honor

Jaxart Records have been known to float my boat with their recent releases, therefore its no surprise Im really enjoying the Mezzanine Owls 7". The Los Angeles noise popsters weave a heady concoction of moribund shoegazing and woozy sunny pop, all with a cacophonous vibe infused deep within its marrow. Worth many a repeated listen, you can grab physical copies here - be quick about it though, only 250 copies in existence!

Mezzanine Owls - Obstacle
Mezzanine Owls - Tethered To The Fountain

We travel back to Seattle to witness Abraham, whose EP Confetti Western came out earlier this year. Its a good little release, especially the opener 'Illinois River'. Its somehow soothing and wholesome, a solidly rendered slice of indie rock that garners myriad pleasures.

Abraham - Illinois River

Farewell Republic close out this HFTB chapter. The band are preparing to release their debut LP Burn The Boats in January 2012, off which 'Wake' is the leading single. The relocation to Brooklyn seems to suit them just fine, with their sound having been interestingly described as "a very unique brand of art-rock...a band that bridges the gap between post-punk and Phillip Glass" by Ocean of Noise. And whilst such a statement may seem flagrantly flamboyant, its not hard to see why these kids can create such fervent excitement. Cant wait to hear the album...

Farewell Republic - Wake
Farewell Republic - Come Irene


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