“...while the group make much of this being a 'new era' there are still plenty of moments that conjure nostalgic, dreamy biss.” - MOJO
"The album brings us back to their sun-kissed California psych sounds once again, but this time with equal twists of clipped electronica and field recordings" - LOUDER THAN WAR
"embraces the pugnacious monotony of late ‘80s Lou Reed ... and reassures that they have not altogether lost interest in sun-splashed psychedelia" - UNCUT
“Surreal” - MXDWN
Los Angeles-based Allah-Las have dropped “Dust,” the latest single off their much-anticipated album, Zuma 85, being released on October 13. With an ear-worm fusion of psychedelic rock, jangly guitars, and progressive rock, “Dust” exemplifies the new direction the band have taking on the LP as they depart the familiar beachy territory for off the map expanses, embracing the influence of late-era Lou Reed and John Cale, ‘70s mutant pop, and textures borrowed from Japanese pop and loner-folk obscurities. Allah-las tapped frequent collaborator Bailey Elder to craft her visual interpretation of the song. With her signature animation style, she captures the cosmic and transitory nature of the track with a mesmerizing procession of patterns, shapes and designs that morph and melt into one another in a choreographed dance through space and time. Of “Dust’ the band say, ‘the song turns the lens onto the past and the path that must be taken to achieve a desired outcome. A crisp high hat clicks along in perfect time, driving a soft but certain vocal atop a bed of undulating synthesizers, leading us comfortably along before the chorus hits, punctuated by harpsichord hits and tambourines that crash against the otherwise soothing soundscape. A fuzzed and bowed guitar solo leads us out into the place we had hoped to be.”
"There’s a sense of the other-worldly to his music" - CLASH
“channels easy-listening exotica a la Stereolab” - SHINDIG
It was somewhere in remote Alaska that Michael Gold—who records and performs pop–infused psych-rock as Mirror Tree—began to realize that he was officially on the road less traveled. “I was flying around between all these native villages and all these little, muddy gravel air strips in a single-engine Cessna, in and out of snowstorms, and landing on ice-covered runways,” says Gold, who worked for several years as a pilot in the Last Frontier, and currently is based out of Los Angeles, and flies a 737 for a major airline. “Being a musician to me always felt like the path of least resistance a little bit, you know? And when I touched down in a place like Bethel, Alaska, I felt very firmly off of the path of least resistance.”
Until Gold decided to fly away from the world he knew, music was always right there in front of him. Gold’s mother, Sharon Robinson, is a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter who collaborated extensively with the late Leonard Cohen, co-writing some of his classics like “Everybody Knows.” Robinson was close friends with Cohen, and Cohen was Gold’s godfather: “He was definitely a big part of my world growing up, for sure,” Gold explains.
Raised in L.A., Gold was formally trained in classical and jazz piano, and the wonders and possibilities of music seeped into him. He continued pursuing music in college, studying jazz piano at nearby CalArts, where he lived in a barn in the remote town of Val Verde, which was at one point known as the “Black Palm Springs.” Around this time, he joined the indie-disco band Poolside as a keyboardist/vocalist, bouncing around the world on tour with them, as well co-writing songs like the disco-rock-fusion epic “Feel Alright.” (18 million streams on Spotify and counting.)
But the call of the wild never stopped pulling Gold—driven in large part by adventures he would go on as a kid with his dad to places like the Mojave Desert. And, after getting his pilot’s license, he decided to trust his instincts (and some good advice from a fellow pilot) by heading to Alaska. “I basically just bought a plane ticket, and knocked on all of [the local airline services’] doors with my resume in hand,” he laughs. For the first time in years, Gold wasn’t thinking like a musician anymore, and went back to enjoying some of his favorite bands—like Stereolab and Broadcast—solely as a listener. “It just kind of changed the way I heard music,” he explains. “I wasn’t analyzing it for the purpose of learning, for the purpose of becoming a better musician anymore. I was just kind of feeling it.”
But he couldn’t stay away from making music for long. After coming back to L.A., Gold began writing and recording again, and soon teamed up with former Poolside bandmate Filip Nikolic to develop his sound—something like a mishmash of Supertramp and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. When the two were honing in on the vibe they were going for, tapping into Spaghetti Western soundtracks and Tropicália, they realized they would ideally need a Farfisa organ, which Gold conveniently happened to have in storage—but hadn’t ever used before, and wasn’t sure would even work. Sure enough, though, “We plugged it in and it fired right up,” Gold marvels. “And that just became the backbone sound of that whole album.”
With Gold serving as the main writing and performing force of Mirror Tree, and Nikolic producing the set, while co-writing and performing on some tracks as well, Mirror Tree took flight. Gold would demo out songs and at his home studio, and then bring them to Nikolic’s studio, where they would work together to create grooves worthy of ELO for the chillwave generation. Songs like “300 Miles” and the title track “Mirror Tree” take the vintage Farfisa reverb and twist it into something modern, infused with a non-Western sensibility and a simultaneous Western accessibility. On rippers like “See It Through” and “Echoes Competing,” Gold combines his virtuosic keyboard abilities with earworm choruses and subtle poetics: “Cigarette thrown in the wind,” he sings in his falsetto on the latter track. “Mirror shows the glow / Driving on alone.”
As the project went on, the image of the Mirror Tree stuck with Gold—a metaphor for the way that light and life bounces off of people and things around us. Soon he realized that it was the appropriate title for the album and the band at large—and served as an ethos for everything that brought him to where he is today: “I’m not a super spiritual person, but whenever someone dies, I really get a lot of comfort that they are just kind of being constantly reflected on everyone,” he says. “Their presence—you get to keep it through the people that they affected.”
São Paulo based artist João Rocha has announced his debut album as dadá Joãozinho. Unfolding like a genre-agnostic mixtape, tds bem Global (out August 31st) is front-loaded with irresistible and effortless rhythms, careening across musical universes like a psychedelic fever-dream. Lead single “Cuidado!” introduces dadá’s hip hop chops as the analog synth and drum machine track weaves like a commuter in São Paulo during rush hour. “This song is about watching out and taking care of the loved ones around” he explains, “I was dealing with too much moving around, always on transit, and this instability had profound effects on how I was dealing with affection. I realized I needed to be more careful with my people.”
The album title translates to “all too Global,” and chronicles Rocha’s move to the biggest city in South America during a time of intense isolation and toxic politics. Where his previous projects were steeped in Música Popular Brasileira, his new sound “needed to feel more intense,” shoplifting from dub, hip hop, punk, and samba, and inventing a few future styles in the process. While a solo effort, the record features contributions from collaborators new and old, spotlighting the singular artist community Rocha is embedded in.
In one form or another, Tijuana Panthers have existed most of its members’ lives. Daniel Michicoff (bass/vocals), Chad Wachtel (guitar/vocals), and Phil Shaheen (drums/vocals) became friends when they were teenagers in Long Beach, California, and started playing music together soon after, eventually becoming one of the shining stars of the twenty-first century garage-rock revival scene—a (relatively) chill surf-rock-inspired complement to the ruckus of acts like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees. But while many of their initial contemporaries have gone through lineup changes or thrown in the towel, the Panthers are hanging tough—and, in a sense, just hitting their stride.
“I feel like this was our most relaxed process yet,” says Michicoff of the band’s sixth LP, Halfway to Eighty, an album whose title serves as a sly embrace of getting older, with a little bit of the Panthers’ trademark sense of humor sprinkled in there for good measure. (On the cover, they gather around their imaginary midlife-crisis Delorean.) It’s a brotherhood that’s only gotten more instinctual over time, and lately that second-nature approach has found each member taking on a more forward role in crafting their own individual songs, which the trio then works out together before hitting the studio.
On Halfway to Eighty, riff-heavy anthems like “Helping Hand” are courtesy of Wachtel, while art-rock thrashers like “Slacker” are Shaheen’s handiwork, and smirking punk numbers like “False Equivalent” are Michicoff’s. (“What good can it bring now? / We’re barely evolved” sings Michicoff on that last song, a squall of guitars swirling around his trembling tenor.) When you keep an ear out for them, you can hear each distinct personality in the songs, but taken as a whole, it’s yet another primo Panthers set of post-Cramps, post-DEVO outsider rock and roll.
That’s partially through the help of regular Panthers collaborator Jonny Bell (Crystal Antlers, Chicano Batman, The Gun Club [reissue]), Hanni El Khatib, Lovely Bad Things, Rudy De Anda), who produced the set at his Jazzcats Studio in Long Beach. Bell has proved to have something of a sixth sense in working with the band, so there was no one better to capture the sound they were going after this time, either. For much of the record, the band was working with the mindset of channeling some of the production sound and attitude of local punk legends like Black Flag and Circle Jerks. “What I told Jonny when he was mixing ‘Slacker,’” remembers Shaheen, “was, like, ‘Just keep it South Bay,’ and he already knew what I was saying.”
But as much as the band has matured over the years, they still know how to put together an album efficiently, without messing around. They’re professionals, after all—and there’s bills to pay, too. “We don’t have the luxury to go in the studio for days on end,” laughs Shaheen. “I don’t know how other bands do it.”
Taken at full, Halfway to Eighty is an embrace of much more than just a band. It’s a statement of dedication to the calling of music—to sticking with making art as long as you want to, age be damned. “You know what would make me just go, ‘Oh, let’s just quit,’” says Wachtel, recalling a recent raucous show in Los Angeles, “is if we didn’t have that reception anymore. The fans keep me going.”
“Not to get all spiritual about it,” adds Michicoff, “but when we were younger, we played really hard for nobody, and now the fans do all the work for us. They have the fun and we just kind of rock out, and it’s nice. It’s cool to sit back and play the songs and watch. They’re putting on a show for us.”