The Locke Nest (September 2019)

Debby Friday – Death Drive EP (Deathbomb Arc)

Debby Friday’s music is the soundtrack for seizing control of your freakiest desires. After coining the world’s coolest genre name with her excellent 2018 debut EP, Bitchpunk, the Vancouver producer returns with an even more harrowing sound on this year’s followup. Death Drive combines dark industrial squelch with block-rocking beats and the creeping dread of a horror film soundtrack. Friday’s voice prowls the beat like a black widow on “Fatal”, a song about sex so good that it might kill you, while “Good and Evil” finds her unleashing in primal scream intensity with alien guitars and strobing techno straight out of the Blade blood rave. Likeminded electronic noise artist Lana Del Rabies contributes to the cyborgian agony of “Treason” before Chino Amobi re-wires closer “Neight Fictive” from a tragic spiritual into something even more hellish. Friday sings with a deceptive sweetness about a mother killing her own child as the song descends into a claustrophobic collage of buzzing flies, clanking chains, and pissed off rioters underneath nightmarish narration. Take a joy ride to the dark side if you dare.

XV – XV (Life Like)

The 21-minute debut LP from Detroit’s XV is a gloriously wacked racket. This label-described “free-punk/uncomfortable sounds” trio features Shelley Salant, Emily Roll, and Claire Cirocco, who may be familiar from the current Tyvek line-up or their various projects such as Shells, Haunted, and The New Me. As XV, they blur genres into a twee strain of no wave with voices overlapping into dreamy detachedness and phrases repeated to the point of abstraction. The album’s noisiest cut, “What Did You Do Today?”, sounds like Talk Normal in an unhinged jam session with Calvin Johnson’s Beat Happening. With the cadence of schoolyard skip-rope chants and blown-out fidelity of Japanther’s telephone mics, “Hair” delivers XV’s funniest lyric: “I had a crush on both Aladdin and Jasmine!” After a short pause following album-ender, “Process”, they return with a shambolic secret track cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown.” I’d open up the pit while busting a gut if (when?) I get the chance to see them play it live.

Rick White and Eiyn Sof – The Opening (Blue Fog Recordings)

While everyone (including me) is understandably excited about Julie Doiron reuniting with Phil Elverum for the sequel to their brilliant 2008 album, Lost Wisdom, her former Eric’s Trip bandmate Rick White may have slipped under the radar with his own comeback. Teaming up with homespun psych-folk artist Eiyn Sof, who I last wrote about for Label Obscura, it’s a pleasure to hear his smoky whispers harmonizing with her haunting lullaby croon. The duo’s slower songs are fleshed out with dreamy washes of mellotron, bleeping electronics, and backwards effects, while its quicker cuts are propelled by fuzzy guitar solos and motorik snap. Musically, they occasionally remind me of Japan’s Ghost, whose name has now been stolen by a group of cheesy Swedish hard-rockers in religious gear. But back to the point at hand: new music from Rick White! Don’t sleep on this.

Gal Gracen – Fantasy Gardens (JAZ Records)

Outside of his home in Vancouver, Patrick Geraghty is one of Canada’s most underrated songwriters. I first became aware of his magnetic talents as the frenzied frontman of Ethiopian jazz damaged art-punk group Role Mach, before falling for the starry-eyed dream-pop of his solo project Gal Gracen. Fantasy Gardens (named for a sadly shuttered Richmond, B.C. theme park) is arguably Geraghty’s most fully realized collection of songs to date with its crystalline arrangements of synths, guitars, and sax. Badalamenti-esque instrumentals like “Grass Mask” sway like Audrey Horne at the Double R Diner, while “Winds of Solace, Pillars of Sand” could be plucked from a coral pink new age cassette found at Value Village. “She’s The Queen” is the album’s standout song, stretching out over eight minutes with its squiggly vocal effects and shimmering vamps. This mind-mellowing evolution of Gal Gracen sounds like Dire Straits produced by Yukihiro Takahashi, or maybe the other way around.

The Shangs – Golden Hits Of The Shangs (Judi Gee! Records)

The Shangs are a perpetually overlooked chapter in the story of Simply Saucer. Formed by singer and multi-instrumentalist David Byers, a member of Hamilton’s legendary proto-punk band in their original early ’70s incarnation, the trio have earned a cult following while conjuring an entirely different kind of electro-rock. Openly gay in a time and place when that must have been incredibly difficult, Byers was lucky enough to link up with brothers Ed and Pat O’Neill to assemble their own secret sonic society. Drawn together by a mutual love of the Shanri-Las, forgotten psych-pop group the Feminine Complex, and Kenneth Anger-informed Hollywood babylons, they created a sound that’s more spectre than Spector. The cheekily titled Golden Hits Of The Shangs is the group’s first release since the 1990s, but it sounds like no time has passed. These 15 songs bring history full circle with contributions from the remaining members of Simply Saucer alongside the final recordings of the dearly departed Paul Colilli. Devoting songs to semi-obscure starlets like Carol Wayne and Arlene Tiger, The Shangs weave together beguiling melodies with lush orchestration and an eerie undercurrent. To learn more, listen to Byers’ 45-minute interview with Hammer head Lou Molinaro.

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