I’m a big fan of garage rock but not necessarily of its sometimes limiting factors — guitars and vocals have to have just enough care balanced with slop, that sort of thing. So it’s nice to hear a couple of great up-and-coming albums from bands who subscribe to garage rock aesthetics but not “surf rock fun times” generic modes. King Tuff’s self-titled album is a real riot, from its opening track “Anthem,” which delivers perfectly delivered riffery the likes of which is pretty rare these days. Along with like-minded peers Ty Segall and the late Jay Reatard, King Tuff write songs first and foremost, and the ground covered here becomes more apparent upon repeat listens, which isn’t hard to do with an album that’s this much fun to listen to. “Alone & Stoned” has terrific ascendant vocal lines and a cool ’80s vibe under its garage veneer. “Unusual World” is a touching garage ballad that doesn’t shy away from varying its instrumentation, with synths and vibes adding nice touches to Tuff’s Marc Bolan-esque delivery. What I’m most taken with on King Tuff is that it delivers catchy garage pop tunes while refusing to adhere to one tempo and one sound like so many albums of a similar ilk. My personal favorite: the Vaselines-ish “Stupid Superstar.”
Along those same lines, I really can’t get enough of Grass Widow’s Internal Logic. Starting off with its lo-fi sci-fi opener “Goldilocks Zone,” Internal Logic is a perfect example of a band perfectly executing a much-missed particular sound while adding its own peculiar flair of cool nerdy girl chic. Not to be limiting, but the album in some ways plays like a master class in post-punk girl bands: the multiple harmonic voices of Stereolab; the out-of-step tempos of Kleenex and ESG and their progeny, like Erase Errata and Electrelane; and off-kilter charm of bands like The Breeders. Fun and clever without biting off more than it can chew, Internal Logic pretty much leaves me with a smile on my face from start to finish.
Last but not least, I hope the new Liars album doesn’t get lost in the shuffle ‘cause WIXIW is every bit as good as their previous few releases, in my mind. Thought it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Drum’s Not Dead, I’m digging this new, quieter yet just as paranoid edition of Liars. WIXIW is pop in the way the Silver Apples or Portishead’s Third are pop, equal parts sinister and beautiful, with a throbbing heart underneath its digital beats. “Octagon” is disturbing, atonal at parts, yet its whole is instantly memorable, sticking mean hooks into you that feel better than they should. “No. 1 Against the Rush” sends goth down the autobahn, playing out like a krautrock variation on The Cure’s “A Forest.” WIXIW has been compared to Radiohead’s Kid A, and, listening to the title track — which disintegrates eerily under waves of oscillators and comes pulsing back for a haunting chanted chorus — it’s not hard to see why.
From Pitchfork, dad-rock loving duo Best Coast has covered a song by their beloved Fleetwood Mac, “Storms,” from their underrated 1979 album Tusk. For now, you have to track to about 58:10 in this edition of BBC Radio 6’s Radcliffe & Maconie show.
Here’s the cool part: You can get the cover on a 7” that comes with The Only Place at independent record stores. Preorder your copy of The Only Place here at Amoeba and you’ll get a copy of the 7” with the moody and beautiful “Storms,” which shows off Bethany Cosentino’s growing confidence as a singer of uncommon power.
Ty Segall & White Fence – “Time”
I interviewed Ty Segall a while back about his collaboration with White Fence, called Hair, a match made in garage-pop heaven that was released this week — pick it up here. Here’s a fun psychedelic video of their song “Time” recorded for Room 205.
This trio of sisters spins out serious pop (not pop-inflected goth or whatever) with the kind of easy, a capella style harmonies that come easy to siblings. I like to picture Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim, all in their early 20s, singing along to Hanson in their parents’ car together as kids. Then, like, they grew up and moved to L.A. and started making music that references ’80s pop curios like Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks. I don’t actually know their real story — I’ll have to investigate this further. For now, I can’t stop listening to their three-song EP, particularly the dancey “Forever.” Get it free here.
White Arrows – “Fireworks of the Sea”
White Arrows have been making it happen for a while now with superb live shows and a handful of released recordings hinting at the cool things they’d be doing down the line — I once called them “Paul Simon in space,” and I can’t really think of anything better than that at the moment to describe their sound, so we’ll just go with that. Their new song, “Fireworks of the Sea,” certainly fits that mold, with swirling synths intimating some digital acid trip over Mickey Schiff’s snaking vocal. Their debut EP hits April 3 from Votiv Music. They’ll be at the Roxy March 27. Listen over at Spin.
A regular full-length also is due on Drag City under his own name in the fall. On top of all that, he’s releasing a collaboration LP with White Fence on Drag City in April, which he’s currently touring behind. Ty Segall and White Fence appear together March 3 at the Troubador.
I took some time to speak to Ty, who’s S.F.-based but was born in Laguna Beach, about his upcoming tours, release schedule, and how many songs he’s recorded.
PST: Last year, around the time Goodbye Bread was released, you said you wanted the next album to sound like Satan in Space, Hawkwind meets Sabbath and that sorta thing. Is that the direction the new material has ended up taking?