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Julia, Julia

Derealization

    Debut Solo Album From Julia Kugel (The Coathangers).

    If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

    This is the crucial question at the core of Julia, Julia, the moniker for Julia Kugel, founding member of garage punk icons The Coathangers and the dream pop duo Soft Palms. On her first solo full-length album Derealization, Kugel shifts her focus from collaboration and band dynamics towards a singular artistic vision and private self-discovery. Steeped in the beguiling pop elements of her past work, Derealization is a meditative deep dive into the mind of a person struggling to understand a crumbling internal and external world. The album traverses a landscape of ethereal folk, atmospheric deconstructed pop, and dubbed-out country ballads, all centered around straight forward and direct lyrics. This juxtaposition of nebulousness and lucidity gives the album a sense of clarity emerging from the haze, an apt refection of Kugel's personal growth and journey toward self-acceptance.

    Derealization is based on weaving the unreal, unsaid, and unknown into an undulating sonic fabric. Vocal layering and abstract instrumentation convey a blurred desperation to connect to an emotional and psychological focal point. Moody, dark, and sumptuous, the record is a flow chart of Julia Kugel coming into herself as an artist and songwriter. The album finds Julia playing almost all the instruments and taking her first stab at engineering at COMA, her and her husband's home recording studio in Long Beach, CA.

    “You know how touring musicians often speak of whether home is real or tour is real? Well, it can lead you to lose grasp on ‘reality,’ especially when touring is taken away and you are left to wonder if anything was ever real, including yourself. Like you we're just playing a character,” Kugel says of her headspace leading up to the creation of Derealization. “Honestly, I kinda lost it, and through making this record I made peace with it and reconciled myself as a real person. I forgave myself and in turn forgave those around me. The song ‘Forgive Me’ is the apology I wanted to say and to hear. I wrote every song from that place and gained the confidence I was pretending to possess.”

    This raw and personal approach to the lyrics is present throughout Derealization. On the opening track "I Want You," Kugel creates a woozy sense of space with reverb-soaked drums and spaghetti western guitars while she lists off her desires for a mysterious “you.” Is she actually listing off her desires for herself? For the people around her? As she repeats "do you feel it?" in the song’s chorus, it feels as if she’s conjuring a magical thread by which we are all connected, showing us how our desires are all the same. On "Fever In My Heart" the listener is treated to a lush, acoustic techno track detailing the exhilarating madness of an emotional breakdown. Simple truths percolate to the surface on "Words Don't Mean Much,” as if clearing away the murk of platitudes and empty gestures. The journey continues on the detached and conflicted "Do It Or Don't,” an alluring walk through the winding road of lonely choices.

    The name for the project Julia, Julia is a look in the mirror, a refection of what is hidden and unanswered, of what is real and what is transient. The experience of living life not as you planned it but as it unfolded, and the mysterious, magical pain that creates meaning.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. I Want You
    2. Forgive Me
    3. Impromptu
    4. Fever In My Heart
    5. Words Don’t Mean Much
    6. Do It Or Don't
    7. No Hard Feelings
    8. Big Talkin'
    9. Paper Cutout
    10. Where Did You Go
    11. Corner Town

    The Coathangers

    Suck My Shirt - 2022 Reissue

      Suck My Shirt is the fourth studio album by the Atlanta-based all-female punk rock band The Coathangers. It was released in 2014. Mark Deming of AllMusic writes, 'their approach to songcraft has matured and tightened up quite a bit, and the departure of keyboard player Candice Jones has turned this group into a leaner and meaner three piece. "It's a balance between overthinking and just going for it," guitarist Crook Kid (Julia Kugel) says of their songwriting strategy. It's a duality immediately apparent with the album opener "Follow Me." It's a classic Coathangers tune with Stephanie Luke's raspy vocals belted out over their signature ragged garage-rock. . But the chorus opens into one of the most accessible hooks in the band's canon, just before segueing into the next verse with a squall of violent dissonant guitar.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Follow Me
      2 Shut Up
      3. Springfield Cannonball
      4. Merry Go Round
      5. Love Em And Leave Em
      6. Zombie
      7. Smother
      8. Dead Battery
      9. Adderall
      10. Derek's Song
      11. I Wait
      12. Drive

      These Arms Are Snakes

      Duct Tape & Shivering Crows

        Over the course of their seven-year run back in the ‘00s, These Arms Are Snakes covered a lot of territory, both in terms of actual miles spent on the road and in terms of their creative bandwidth. Though the band was often mistaken for a typical non sequitur-named screamo out­t or another “animal” indie band, the Seattle group quickly de­ed expectations and garnered a reputation for subverting the popular underground sounds of time. The group cultivated a small but fervent fanbase across multiple continents with their signature combination of synth-infused noise rock, bad-trip psychedelia, ‑amboyant proto-metal boogie, and unhinged basement-show hardcore before imploding at the end of 2009.

        And while These Arms Are Snakes’ full-length albums remain ­tting testaments to the band’s frantic urgency and stylistic ‑uidity, there is a treasure trove of deep cuts buried on b-sides and split releases that further reinforce their position as one of the weirdest and wildest acts of the decade. For the fi­rst time, those rarities and one-offs have been compiled into a cohesive overview of These Arms Are Snakes’ lifespan on the double LP Duct Tape & Shivering Crows.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: The inimitable TAAS return for a final outing of lesser-publicised extras and b-sides. With every bit of the grinding groove of their earlier full-length LP's, this collection shows what an incendiary and unique musical force they were, and shows off some of the tragically overlooked gems from their oeuvre.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Meet Your Mayor
        2. Camera Shy
        3. Trix
        4. Energy Drink And The Long Walk Home
        5. Heart Shaped Box
        6. Washburn
        7. Old Paradise
        8. Payday Loans
        9. Hook On This
        10. Riding The Grape Dragon
        11. Run It Through The Dog
        12. Diggers Of Ditches Everywhere
        13. The Blue Rose

        Ty Segall

        Sentimental Goblin EP

          It’s tough to keep up with garage rock’s wunderkind Ty Segall. Between his steady release schedule of LPs, raucous side projects like Fuzz and GØGGS, and collaborations with fellow songwriters Mikal Cronin and Tim Presley, it’s as if a season can’t pass without Segall dropping a new record. And that’s not even taking his cassettes, splits, and EPs into consideration. Fortunately, Segall’s bottomless well of creativity, production savvy, and boundless fascination with the various niches of the rock world makes every new release an occasion to celebrate. Suicide Squeeze Records is proud to offer the latest entry in Ty’s impressive canon with the Sentimental Goblin 7”. Side A features “Pan”, a fuzz-soaked proto-metal jam that links Beatles’ pioneering guitar dirge “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to later lurch classics by Sir Lord Baltimore and Pentagram. In true Segall fashion, he switches gears on side B and conjures the erudite pop appeal of T. Rex and Bowie with the lush glam rocker “Black Magick”. Suicide Squeeze Records is proud to release Sentimental Goblin to the world on March 17, 2017. 

          Death Valley Girls

          Under The Spell Of Joy

            The album opens with “Hypnagogia,” an ode to the space between sleep and wakefulness where we are open to other realms of consciousness. The song slowly builds along a steady pulse provided by bassist Pickle (Nicole Smith) and drummer Rikki Styxx. Tripped out saxophone bleats from guest player Gabe Flores swirl on top of the organ drones laid out by guest keyboardist Gregg Foreman. The band’s choral objectives for Under the Spell of Joy are established right off the bat, with Bonnie Bloomgarden’s melodic invocations bolstered by a choir, giving the album a rich and vibrant wall-of-sound aesthetic. The song ominously builds on its hypnotic foundation until it opens up into a raucous revelry at the four-minute mark.

            The portentous simmer of the opening track yields to the ecstatic rocker “Hold My Hand,” where verses reminiscent of Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting For The Man” explode into big triumphant choruses. From there the band launches into the title track, which marries the griminess of The Stooges with an innocence provided by a children’s choir chanting the album’s primary mantra “under the spell of joy / under the spell of love.”

            Death Valley Girls have always vacillated between lightness and darkness, and on “Bliss Out” they demonstrate their current exuberant focus with a patina-hued pop song driven by an irrepressibly buoyant organ line laid down by keyboardist The Kid (Laura Kelsey). A similar cosmic euphoria is obtained on “The Universe,” where alternating chords on the organ help elevate soaring saxophone and keyboard lines out beyond the stratosphere. If you’re looking for transcendental rock music, look no further.

            “Death Valley Girls are a gift to the world.” Iggy Pop.

            “If Charlie Spahn Ranch girls had formed a band that was part-Stooges, part-Bikini Kill, all groove, then they’d have sounded like this.” Classic Rock Magazine.

            “A striking record, all brazen fury and bratty beats, something resembling hard rock before Sabbath” Noisey.


            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: A ruthless, but melodic jaunt through snarling punk riffs, snapping percussion and fists-in-the-air groove from Death Valley Girls here. Expertly toeing the line between distorted drive and more thoughtful, slow numbers. Utterly essential, and a superb early morning blast.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Hypnagogia
            2. Hold My Hand
            3. Under The Spell Of Joy
            4. Bliss Out
            5. Hey Dena
            6. The Universe
            7. It All Washes Away
            8. Little Things
            9. 10 Day Miracle Challenge
            10. I’d Rather Be Dreaming
            11. Dream Cleaver

            SadGirl

            Water

              With their new album Water, Los Angeles trio SadGirl taps into the romantic and nostalgic spirit of their native city while exuding a time-tested authenticity suggesting they’ve had a peek behind the curtain of the glitzy boulevards and relentless sunshine. It’s a collection of breezy pop songs captured with the timbre of old-time recording techniques. Songs like “Little Queenie” touch upon the yesteryear reverberations and longing of a Ken Boothe ballad. Similarly, a tormented love song like “Miss Me” transports the listener back to slow dances at a previous generation’s sock hop, only to be subverted by a chorus of “miss me with that bullshit.”

              It’s as if guitarist/vocalist Misha Lindes, drummer David Ruiz, and bassist Dakota Peterson want to conjure an idealized past only to remind us of innocence lost. “If you want to learn about water, go to the desert.” It’s a piece of wisdom that made an impact on Lindes. “Here we are in Los Angeles, a desert, ping-ponging between drought and El Niño. This record is an attempt to share a small portion of my experience growing up and living here,” said Lindes. “It’s basically about the fluidity of water and its power and importance.” “L.A.’s SadGirl make slow and hazy pop perfect for your summer soundtrack” 

              TRACK LISTING

              1. The Ocean
              2. Chlorine
              3. Hazelnut Coffee
              4. Miss Me
              5. Breakfast For 2
              6. Little Queenie
              7. Mulholland
              8. Strange Love
              9. Avalon
              10. Water

              Death Valley Girls

              Darkness Rains

                At the core of Death Valley Girls, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel channel a modern spin on Funhouse’s sonic exorcisms, ZZ Top’s desert-blasted riffage, and Sabbath’s occult menace. On their third album Darkness Rains, Death Valley Girls churn out the hypercharged scuzzy rock every generation yearns for, but there is a more subversive force percolating beneath the surface that imbues the band with an exhilarating cosmic energy. Album opener “More Dead” is a rousing wake up call, with a hypnotic guitar riff and an intoxicating blown-out solo underscoring Bloomgarden’s proclamation that you’re “more dead than alive.”

                The pace builds with “(One Less Thing) Before I Die”, a distillate of Detroit’s proto-punk sound. At track three, Death Valley Girls hit their stride with “Disaster (Is What We’re After)”, a rager that takes the most boisterous moments off Exile On Main Street and injects it with Zeppelin’s devil’s-note blues. Darkness Rains retains its intoxicating convocations across ten tracks, climaxing with the hypnotic guitar drones and cult-like chants of “TV In Jail On Mars.” “Death Valley Girls are a gift to the world

                TRACK LISTING

                1. More Dead
                2. (One Less Thing) Before I Die
                3. Disaster (Is What We’re After)
                4. Unzip Your Forehead
                5. Wear Black
                6. Abre Camino
                7. Born Again And Again
                8. Street Justice
                9. Occupation: Ghost Writer
                10. TV In Jail On Mars

                Guantanamo Baywatch

                Desert Center

                Guantanamo Baywatch’s new album ‘Desert Center’ opens with ‘Conquistador’, an instrumental track displaying enough fretboard savvy and fiery twang to make The Challengers proud. However, any notion that Guantanamo Baywatch are strictly adhering to one facet of rock ‘n’ roll’s classic era is dispelled by the soulful swagger and unabashed pop of ‘Neglect’.

                It’s an inadvertent juxtaposition maintained through the entirety of ‘Desert Center’, with blazing instrumental nuggets like ‘The Scavenger’ alternating with the proto-grunge and golden oldies mash-up of a track like ‘Blame Myself’.

                Like their 2015 album ‘Darling… It’s Too Late’, ‘Desert Center’ was primarily tracked in Atlanta at Living Room Recording with Justin McNeight and Ed Rawls, with Jason Powell doing the bulk of the guitar tracks on his own at Jungle Muscle Studios.

                While Guantanamo Baywatch initially made a name for themselves with their early blown-out recordings, ‘Desert Center’ retains the raw aesthetics of a Hasil Adkins single but has the added heft and thump afforded by a modern studio. This balance is perhaps best captured on ‘Video’, where bassist Chevelle Wiseman drives the tune with a thick, throbbing riff while drummer Chris Scott ruthlessly pounds his kit with a crashing clarity guaranteed to please even the most snobby analogue audiophile.

                TRACK LISTING

                Conquistador
                Neglect
                The Scavenger
                Mesa, AZ
                Interlude #1
                Witch Stomp
                Blame Myself
                Area 69
                Video
                Interlude #2
                The Australian

                ‘Gift Of Life’, the first proper full length by VHS, follows in the footsteps of their previous EPs, with the band self-recording their amalgam of Lost Sounds’ trashy discontent, early Big Black’s trebly guitar stabs and ‘Only Theatre Of Pain’-era Christian Death’s black reverberations. These are brash and bitter territories to occupy but the band sees no other choice for their musical direction, citing the daily grind as the impetus behind their music.

                The harsh reality of frontman Josh Hageman’s day-today existence working on the periphery of the medical field played a direct role in the overall theme of the album. Those fatalistic views and medical themes are on full display on ‘Wheelchair’, where a punk pulse underscores Hageman’s harrowing description of a life lived in chronic pain with drugs serving as the only escape.

                The album continues on to ‘Hospital Room’, where wiry guitar leads and ominous chords provide the soundtrack to a scene of misery and tragedy within the sanitized walls of Western medicine.

                Elsewhere, the themes of addiction and exposure take on more universal themes, such as on the culturegorging lament of ‘Binge Everything’ or the panopticon-paranoia of ‘Public Act’.

                TRACK LISTING

                Fully Realized
                Wheelchair
                Hospital Room
                Public Act
                Crooked Echo
                Binge Everything
                Art Decay
                Constant Hiss

                On ‘Visits’, Tammar pulls off a pretty incredible trick with each and every one of its post-punk anthems. They mine the classic sounds of paranoia, malaise and misanthropy (Joy Division, The Velvet Underground, The Fall and early 90s alt-rock) and fill it all with so much exuberance and joy of playing that each song becomes a triumph over anxiety and ennui.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Heavy Tonight
                2. Summer Fun
                3. The Last Line
                4. Deep Witness
                5. Arrows Underwater
                6. Yung Jun
                7. Frost Meter

                The Magic Musicians

                The Magic Musicians

                  This Seattle band features John Atkins (764-Hero) and Joe Plummer (Black Heart Procession) and are recommended if you like Quasi, the Replacements, 764-Hero and the Blues Explosion. They reach to stretch the elastic of modern indie-pop music while adding an appreciative nod to the SST-era of punk rock when Husker Du and the Minutemen were kings. Aggressive where it needs to be, loose when it should be, the Magicians second self-titled album matures and furthers what was started on 2001's "Girls" and shows that the band's got plenty more to offer.


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