Listening Post: Flaming Lips/Terror Of The Deep/Brian Jonestown Massacre/WOMAD 2017
Our weekly wrap of new music.
Terror Of The Deep
How did I miss these guys for so long, given that their glorious lo-fi bedsit space-pop is right up my alley? This Wellington band's third album has recently been pressed onto vinyl by New York label Selection, but slipped out quietly here at home on digital/ cassette in 2015. Occasionally recalling early Phoenix Foundation, Space Epic sits firmly in the uncrowded category of "indie-prog", offering up ambitious arrangements and grand-sweep concept album narratives within the confines of a modest studio sound that wouldn't have been out of place on an early Flying Nun record. Ghosts of the great flit through the tunes — Lou Reed, Grandaddy, Syd Barrett, The Clean — but these audio astronauts have their own thing going on: a sweet'n'sour cosmic melancholy born of rainy day dreaming in the wind-lashed villas of Brooklyn and the Aro Valley. Singer Oliver Dixon's high waver perfectly suits the "inner space meets outer space" psychodrama of lyrics such as "Space is a cold and lonely place/ and it just goes on and on…" while his bandmates lace together a compelling bump, swirl and clatter behind him. The Asteroid Belt situates the burnished Californian jangle of The Byrds somewhere far out beyond The Milky Way, a cluster of trumpets bringing some solar-flar warmth to the chorus. Uranus works up a filthy groove and then unravels gloriously in the mid-section, like a low-rent Flaming Lips.
The Flaming Lips
They're an odd bunch, those Flaming Lips. For over 30 years now they've been pumping out their particular brand of weird, psychedelic-meets-garage rock to varying degrees of success; their latest, Oczy Mlody, is little different. It's a fairly melancholic album, with tales of hope and loss weaving through a collection of psychedelic fairy tales. The titles say it all: There Should Be Unicorns, One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill, Listening to the Frogs With Demon Eyes. While there are a couple of guest spots from Reggie Watts and recent collaborator Miley Cyrus to spice things up a little, it's pretty standard Lips throughout. Shimmering guitars, electronic samples and Wayne Coyne's echo-laden voice dominate - there aren't too many real standouts, but Oczy Mlody is a free-flowing, pleasant listen nonetheless.
Brian Jonestown Massacre
Dont Get Lost
Having just released an album in October last year, the San Fran outfit certainly know how to be prolific. Don't Get Lost follows in the group's distinctive brand of psychedelic effect driven rock. Led by singer and guitarist Anton Newcombe, you feel Brian Jonestown could be less prolific for the fact much of the material on this record is rather insipid. Sure, many of these tracks would probably be fitting in the background of a record store. But at the same time you're unlikely to ask the retail assistant what it is you're hearing. However krautrock- esque opener Open Minds Now Closer has a great eerie 70s vibe and Charmed I'm Sure has an almost Kid A-era Radiohead feel to it. The Brian Jonestown Massacre have some great work, but with over five release in the last three years, it could be effective to slow down on the productivity.
The 2017 edition of the annual Womad compilation, might be lacking in genuine firepower - aside from the irrepressible Bebel Gilberto and one of Africa's finest voices Oumou Sanagare - but it always throws up plenty of contemporary and traditional global surprises. Kudos, to the good people of the 'Naki for keeping this festival alive. Aside from the aforementioned Brazilian chanteuse Gilberto and Sangare, 9Bach, veteran Aboriginal singer Archie Roach and funk-in-yer face The Hot 8 Brass Band are the highlights of an album that gives a good glimpse of how the globe is spinning in 2017. It's certainly worth a day trip to taste the real thing.
- Sunday Star Times