Author: Thomas Phelan

Writer and film-maker, and music lover.

Kamikaze Palm Tree ‘good boy’

The psych cauldron currently bubbling away in the West Coast with acts like Goon and Spellling has belched forth another offering. Enter good boy, the second album of noise outfit Kamikaze Palm Tree, a sophomore effort which plays out like a jumbled ‘n’ jangled old jack-in-a-box, skewed pop and upside-down melodies turn the crank before the occasional jolt of frenzied drone rock and Avant-weird experiments.

Duo Dylan Hadley and Cole Berliner know how to fuse disparate, seemingly mutually exclusive arrangements and styles into a disjointed yet fascinating mess. The mangled ‘Sharpie Smile’ is a crooked house of cartoonish glockenspiels fighting with laser synths, punk thrash and eerie serenity congealed into a disquieting frenzy. No Wave incongruity scrapes and thuds on ‘Wants More’, intercut with brittle guitar textures that lift Hadley’s commanding, Nico like vocals.

Like The Velvet Underground, a sweet song is never far from the dissonance. The title track ‘Good Boy’ shows the bands penchant for sunny psych-meanders, a seemingly innocent and child-like meander of gentle acoustic strums and toybox percussion, before the twee deteriorates into an unsettling slew of atonal guitar, like flies caught in it’s cloying. Their psych inclinations and affection for unorthodox arrangements creep on the hazy dream of ‘You Talk’, surf guitar and Radiophonic Workshop effects mix to a languid fog surrounding Hadley’s sluggish delivery, and reach even headier heights on the various ‘Bongo’ interludes peppered throughout (replacing the ‘Clown’ from previous record The Ocean is the Solution).

Irregular, inside-out, and thoroughly unpredictable, good boy is an intriguing contortionist of a record, bending into impossible shapes and twisting itself into strange and brilliant forms.

Goon ‘Heaven is Humming’

Is that a wry smirk on the goblin? Or a grimace to be met with caution? Sporting the Poway City area code and a halo, Goon frontman and sleeve artist Kenny Becker presents us with an impressionist being that perfectly captures the hazy, textured indie-rock contained within.

Three years in the making, Goons debut LP Heaven is Humming has had a tumultuous gestation, Becker embracing an engagement while battling a chronic sinus condition which dulls the senses. The sparks which fly off the antagonism between light and dark were present on prior EPs Dusk of Punk and Happy Omen, but as art imitates life (or the other way round), the tension that bristles underneath has been afforded a wider palette of moods and styles.

Who would have thought shoegaze slack and big monster riffs could get along so well? Goon know how to make an exquisite racket, dreamy vocals strut alongside Drew Eccleston’s hard rock crunch on the thrilling ‘Northern Saturn’, interjected with sunny jangle guitar. Punk energy burns on banger ‘Datura’, Source Tags & Codes style heavy with Pixies vocals explodes into a thrasher so exciting you nearly quit your job to form a band. Lethargy rears its head when it needs to, never deteriorating to a bland drone which can befall their slacker contemporaries, most notably on opener ‘F Jam’, a gloriously sludgy wade through crashing drums and wailing, pained vocals.

The album shines in it’s moments of pause. The beautiful introspection of ‘Snoqualmie’ (named after the City much of Twin Peaks was shot) appears like a mirage, expert acoustic fingerpicking with all its intimate blemishes and string scratches soar with aching strings and subtle surreal sonics. Things end with an anthemic air on closer ‘CCLL’, a stirring and nostalgic plume haunts the finale with gorgeous synths and tripped-out psychedelia, before drifting away like the waning of an LSD trip.

We needn’t fear the goblin of Poway. In just 11 tracks, Goon has delivered an exceptional debut record of electrifying melodic, shoegaze soaked with sun and the occasional menace. Heaven is Humming has the power to trigger memories you forgot you had, and illicit emotions long suppressed.

Elizium ‘ELIZIUM’

Subtly operating off the L.A. radar is lo-fi post-punk outfit Elizium, consisting of rather obliquely named duo WL and SM. With little social media presence and scant information of the band, Elizium quietly slipped their self-titled demo EP to little fanfare, although one could mistake its demo production with characteristic tape hiss. The quiet release of ELIZIUM and the semi-anonymous nature of the band belie just how fantastic the EP is.

The urgent snap of steady snares and grooving bass swirl against WL’s muffled vocals and synth lines on opener ‘Monotonie’, the motorik drive given greater acceleration with tight punk riffing. ‘Reflection’ is a wistful and slightly sombre wander through foggy keyboards and damp drum machines held together by rich synth-strings before the cavernous crunch of ‘Promises’ takes the EP into more menacing electro territory. EP closer ‘EZ’ ends on a note of dreamy shoegaze punctuated with the industrial chug of abrasive percussion, the whispers that percolate within vying for attention.

WL and SM have hinted at an intriguing and infectious future of psychedelic punk with ‘ELIZIUM’, a promise of an exciting path ahead of tripped-out grooves which bites as well as soars.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #5

Are you wearing your lead codpiece? The Spit ‘n’ Static! signal radiated its alien corrosion once again at Bristol’s 1020 Radio, picking up all kinds of synthpunk interference and unknown gibberish. ‘Catch the wave’ same slime, same face next month! 👽 👌⠀

Static Zombies by George A. Romero and Art of the Glitch

Glaciers Noods Radio #7

The Glaciers peripheries have shifted a little (global warming p’haps?), and some exotic flavours have snuck its way into the seventh show. Tune in to Bristol’s Noods Radio again next month for more minimal synth and its many coldwave cousins ❄️ 🎹 👌

Cyberplasm ‘The Psychic Hologram’

The closest thing to an official online presence, besides their Bandcamp, is a manifesto of sorts on ‘Thee Cyberplasm Institute’, a cryptic page extolling the hidden powers that lie in the psyche and consciousness. A mini-panic ensues when a strange MIDI file starts downloading as if accidentally stumbling upon some dank, dark web illegality. This is Videodrome for the social media age.

Cyberplasm are an industrial noise-thrash trio from Olympia, Washington, dosed up on William Gibson and 2000 AD Comics spitting caustic punk declarations of war on the socially constructed peripheries of the body amid buzzing ‘Nag Nag Nag’ guitars and acrid drum machines. The electrical smoulder first hinted at on last years EP What Is Flesh? is given more scope to burn with greater ferocity on their debut LP, out via Iron Lung Records.

At just under half an hour, The Psychic Hologram packs hardcore punk, EBM aggro-synths and even a touch of NWOBHM heavy metal into a volatile mix of ephemeral fury. Mötorhead speed filtered through a computer screams with indignant rage on ‘Dopamine Machinery’, before the tekno D.C. pummel of ‘Beyond the Mind’ tears you limb from limb while imploring you to seek beyond the physical realm.

Punchy arpeggios pulse and hiss on the febrile title track, a moment of tense and taut respite amid the electro discord, while the dystopic synths creep again with stinging minimalism on ‘Perfect Body Pt. II’. Sticky residue clings from the two tracks, both terse warnings of the fascist threat on bodily autonomy.

With the cyberpunk themes and imagery potentially looking silly in a lesser artists hands, Cyberplasm has utilised succinctly what makes sci-fi the societal anxiety exorcising and cerebral force it can be, while delivering some of the harshest and exhilarating punk rock that’s out there.

Visit Thee Cyberplasm Institute here.

SUCK ‘Frog’

Germany has witnessed a renaissance in garage rock over the last few years, the proto-punk sounds of Nervous Eaters and The Dictators well and truly alive amid the roster of bands under the wings of labels like Alien Snatch! and La Pochette Surprise.

Shoving Hamburg and Berlin out the way for the title of most thriving punk scene is Kassel, home to lo-fi psych-rockers Sick Teeth. With members of scuzzy contemporaries Catch as Catch Can and Counts on Crack teaming up with comic zine artist Isabell Rutz, ‘Casselfornia’ has a new and fuzzy mutant lurking in it’s Fulda waters…

SUCK’s debut EP Frog is 6 jabs of superb, synth-laden garage-punk, and hits ‘ya instantaneously like an intracardiac injection with opener ‘Gimme Your Number, an insanely catchy blast of beat-up keyboards and call and response shrieks which rubs shoulders with the best of the class of ’77. Filthy psych works its way into ‘Bulletproof’, frantic guitar chops corroded with nasty analogue keys clogging the thrash with Moogy murk. Double denim hard-rock changes pace on the Sabbath inspired ‘Mama’s Got a Backpatch’, riffs veering between nice and doomy and urgent punk crackle, all held together with Rutz’s commanding vocals, before final track ‘SUK’ ends the EP on a note of pure hot-rod acceleration.

SUCK may well be the most exciting thing in Germany right now, and with Frog, have delivered 16 minutes of exemplary punk rock, full of hooks, spit, and swagger.

SANS ‘Misophonic Songs’

Misophonia literally means ‘hatred of sound’, the phenomena whereby specific sounds can trigger negative physical and emotional reactions. The cover of last years single Limbo features what looks like a tormented call centre worker driven to the edge, just one more crushing and useless phone call away from a profound spiritual chaos. Misophonic Songs, like Fear of Music, is an apt signal of the unease contained within…

SANS are a post-punk trio steadily making a name for themselves with their energised and cacophonous live shows in Bristol. Stirring a noxious brew of ‘Naomi Punk’ like time signatures, gargantuan metal wrath and throat shredding screams, the intensity of their sets has been exorcised all too well for their debut album.

Shellac riffing opens the record on ‘Meaningless’, a noise-rock pendulum veering with awesome force between seething punk venom and nimble indie introspection. The cosmic savagery of Swans dominates the eerie ‘Wipe Dread’, crashing, rolling drums pummel your soul amid a cold, static wind, before deteriorating into a febrile ruin of whispers.

(What sound like) double drum pedals are most welcome on the furious ‘OK’, a touch of Sepultura’s ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ explode into a twisted and disorientating whirl of volatility. The thickest, nastiest, bass you’ve ever heard churn and scrape on the sinister chug of ‘It’s Your Party Priscilla…I’m Just Dancing on the Tables’, their more psychedelic inclinations fighting against the ravaged guitar scratching wail that closes the track.

At just 28 mins, SANS impressively take the weighty cohesion of a Swans record and distill it into a taut and punchy mini-album, both epic yet burning with white hot urgency.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #4

The Spit ‘n’ Static! signal invaded Bristol’s 1020 Radio once again, a full hour of avant-punk-synth-trash-fuck-spit from the unknown. Expose yourself to the slime same time, same place next month! 👽 👌

Glaciers Noods Radio #6

Take shelter from the punishing July sun with the sixth Glaciers show, another hour of chilly synths and analogue tundras, via Bristol’s Noods Radio gang ❄️ 🎹 👌