[ Self-released, 2017 ]
I’ve been in luck when it comes to jammy, instrumental Polish bands. After Królestwo and Produkty Rolne comes time for a band named Jocelyn Packard. Little is known about them, apart form the fact they named themselves after an influential Twin Peaks character and they play the kind of neurotic, angry post-rock that was big before it went all GY!BE-like and lost most of its balls. However, this self titled debut album doesn’t give a fuck about being sentimental and goes instead for being angry, alienated, even tortured at times, when taking a sludgy, doomy turn. The slightly lo-fi production only enhances the smoggy mood. Recommended debut!
[ Fixture Records, 2016 ]
Now this is hella refreshing: this wonderfully lopsided, warped stack of twangy, somewhat post-punky slack rock from the Montreal bunch Phern is some of the most carefree, not-giving-a-fuck and simply fun music I’ve heard in some time. The cover is possibly a hint at how they compose their music: imagine a bunch of bricklayers who suddenly go “aw fuck it, we don’t need any muck, let’s just fucking tape some bricks together so a house is standing made by bricks stuck together by tape”. Phern’s sound is the same – it sounds like it’s about to fall apart and turn into The Nihilist Spasm Band at any second, but still manages to keep that seedy 60’s lo-fi sound. Weird as heck!
Kristen are the long runners on the Polish rock scene. 17 years with no changes in the original three-strong lineup and still going strong. And their new album, The Secret Map, just dropped on September 30. The album sees the group enhancing their trademark sound that walks the fine line between frenetic kraut/noise rock and melancholic indie rock ballads. Compared to the groups previous efforts, The Secret Map might be their most experimental work to date, preferring the slowly ascending, free roaming echoing rock semi-improvisations somewhere between The Dead C and Tarentel. However, there are still energetic, funky freakouts like “Music Will Soothe Me” to shake you out of the murky, psychedelic atmosphere.
Some great new material from Magik Markers, released via the Arbitrary Signs label Bandcamp just a few weeks ago, proving that the good ol’ free rock Markers are not dead. Some Funk for Tunc and Squeo is a sort of a tribute album for two people: visual artist Michael Tunc, obsessed with detail and Magik Markers, and Tiny Mix Tapes editor Squeo, who’s also obsessed with Magik Markers, basically. Some Funk… greatly combines the distorted, freewheeling side of the band with their penchant for calmer, more melodic pieces. Of course, the opening 13 minute jam is the standout here, providing some tortured guitar processed beyond recognition over the funky, sleazy bass line and unassuming, yet impressive drumming… Magik Markers manage to completely blur the track of time, making 13 minutes feel like 3 minutes and making the listener to rewing to the beginning again… Such is the magik of those Markers. Highly recommended!
Beautiful little two pieces of fuzzed out scuzz rock by the Spanish duo Mal Ride, consisting of Miguel and Paola, who are reluctant to disclose their exact location. Maybe their vision of psychedelic rock, walking the line between the stoned summer anthems of Holydrug Couple on “ALT” and a homage to shoegaze pioneers of the 90’s on “SHIT” is meant to represent the unique Spanish sound, brought up under the hot Mediterranean sun, watching the clouds and surfing the waves most of the year. Watch “ALT” on Vimeo.
The Philadelphia, PA twang-rock unit WASNT WISNT combines the harsher, sandpapery textures of noise rock with overdriven, echo-ridden sound of sunburned, chaotic psychedelia of Racoo-oo-oon and a bit of indie rock nostalgia to create a pretty, lo-fi sound that is not afraid of snaps, crackles and pops and gets wonderfully grainy along the way when the cutesy pop-rock idiom appears to be coming apart at the seams. Happy and careless upon close inspection but pretty fucking sinister when viewed from a distance.
Is rock’n’roll dead? Every once and then some concerned music journalist will write a lengthy analytic piece of how the rock music idiom got gradually softened and/or replaced with a solo artist who needs little more than a laptop and an Internet connection to achieve success. But at the same time, every one and then a bunch of rock destroyers like Poland’s Psychocukier (translated as “Psychosugar”) will pop out, blow a cloud of smoke in everyone’s faces and say: “Hey, I’m still here, you motherfuckers!”
No, seriously, these guys rock. They don’t only rock, but they are rock. Their sound, their image, their everything – it’s just the epitome of the good ol’ “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”. They’ve got booze, they’ve got smokes, they’ve got naked chicks rolling with them in beds (check out the photo session they did for Diamenty on the band’s website). They got the rock’n’rollin’ image down to a fuckin’ T, even with the fishnet wifebeaters and Holger Czukay moustaches. And while Diamenty is Psychocukier’s fourth full album, it might very well be also their best.
The first track on the album is usually the most important – this is where the listener begins their journey and where (when) they decide whether it’s worth to continue that journey – and the opening “Mgła” (“Fog”) couldn’t have been a better choice. It’s a churning, motorik blast of badassery, featuring hypnotic bassed accompanied with scorched, stoned guitar. It keeps the perfect groove for three minutes – it’s like everything you might ever expect from good psychedelic rock packed into a pill. It sets the mood perfectly and leaves yearning for more, more, more! The album is steeped in the sort of garage sleaziness that makes the greatest rockstars – there’s a lot of Velvet Underground spirit floating in the air, like opium smoke, with the ghost of Lou Reed watching everything – and approving of what he sees.
The lyrics themselves are equal parts humorous, dark, absurd and sexual – and in Polish, a refreshing (and patriotic) move when many Polish rock bands record in English. Like the lyrics to “Tonę w jeziorach” (“I’m drowning in lakes”), which features some serious “what the fuck did I just hear!?” moments – “I’m drowning in the lakes of your / I’m drowning in the lakes of your eyes / I’m drowning in the lakes of your / I’d like to fuck you your eyes” as an example. The smoky, groovy bass adds a sensual, slightly dangerous on the whole album while the guitar spews forth some of the crispiest and delightfully fuzzy sounds on all songs. Psychocukier are like a bunch of sailors who just came back from a long cruise and have stepped on land to raise hell and fuck bitches – a fact many reviewers pointed out, further supported not only by the rebellious, freewheeling sound, but also by marine-themed song titles, like “Dryfowanie” (“Drifting”), “Żeglarz” (“Sailor”), “Tajemnicza wyspa” (“Mysterious Island”), or “Laguna” (“Lagoon”). Diamenty touches on many moods and styles – there are some nuggets of melodic, indie rock songwriting (like the almost radio-friendly “Zło niesie wiatr”), and on the other side of the spectrum there is frenetic, overblown kraut-noise madness on “Ty”
Surprisingly, the band owes much of its crisp, energetic sound to Mikołaj “Noon” Bugajak, who achieved a legendary status with his hip-hop beats (and his work with such Polish hip-hop lumiaries as Pezet or Grammatik). Noon himself stated that Psychocukier were influential to his own work, so making an album together was just an extension of this influence. Despite coming from different scenes, the four gentlemen felt incredible chemistry and produced an exciting, simple yet ass-kicking album, recording with simple mics and a basic set-up, without resporting to overdubs, digital editing or any sort of polishing to make the sound pristine. Diamenty is a dirty, slightly kinky record that doesn’t give a fuck what other people think and simply has the time of its life. Looks like it’s time to say the truth: Psychocukier are the kings. And all hail the Kings.