Roky Erickson, legendary 13th Floor Elevators frontman, psych forerunner, and acid casualty, records again! It’s creeping up on 15 years since Roky Erickson has released an album of new original material, and just over a decade since Emperor Jones released Never Say Goodbye, an album of recordings culled from Roky’s time incarcerated at Rusk State Hospital. His recovery from a troubled past, documented in the moving film You’re Gonna Miss Me, has led to increased public performances, but True Love Cast Out All Evil, coming April 20th from Anti- Records with Okkervil River as Roky’s band, marks a long-awaited return to the studio. Judging from advance single “Goodbye Sweet Dreams,” and from Okkervil frontman and album producer Will Sheff’s own words about the project, Roky couldn’t have picked a better band to back his return to the spotlight.
The album features songs written by Roky over the course of his long career, from the Elevators to the Aliens and beyond, and a few appear to be fully realized versions of raw gems from the Rusk recordings. I can’t wait to hear what they’ve done with “Birds’d Crash” .
01. Devotional Number One
02. Ain’t Blues Too Sad
03. Goodbye Sweet Dreams
04. Be and Bring Me Home
05. Bring Back The Past
06. Please Judge
07. John Lawman
08. True Love Cast Out All Evil
10. Think Of As One
11. Birds’d Crash
12. God Is Everywhere
A much anticipated album in the land of los grillos will hit record stores on May 11 when Dead Oceans releases the Phosphorescent album Here’s To Taking It Easy. Coming on the heels of last year’s To Willie, an alternately narcotic waltz and boozy swing through Willie Nelson’s catalog, the latest from Matthew Houck and his traveling band shows that they learned a country thing or two from ol’ Willie. Check out the lead off track “It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)”–it might name drop Alabama in the title, but this song struts with southwest Texas swagger. This is a hot summer drive with a cold Lone Star between your legs, open road in front you, and big Texas sky above you, fist-pumpin’ anthem–swingin’ cosmic country, Doug Sahm style, with horns replacing Augie Meyer’s organ.
I loved Dr. Dog first for their name, before I’d heard a lick of music. I just liked saying it — Dr. Dog! Then I heard the music and loved Dr. Dog all the more. The name Dr. Dog has always brought to my mind Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the muppets rock band that comes off as a 60’s/70’s supergroup playing ramshackle pop. Turns out that’s also what Dr. Dog sounds like. Witness the song “Shadow People“ from their forthcoming album Shame, Shame, out April 6 on ANTI Records. It carries on in Dr. Dog’s grand tradition of being melodic and messy, and sounds to me a bit like the Electric Mayhem funneled through the mellow psychedelia of the Flaming Lips. Can you picture that?
Listening to the new Frightened Rabbit single “Nothing Like You” takes me back to my high school days when, thanks to some friends with broader musical palettes than my own, bands like The Smiths, The Cure, and Echo and the Bunnymen broke the ranks of the metal militia I’d been marching with since middle school. That said, Frightened Rabbit inspire more than simple nostalgia because, unlike when I listen to the many lesser bands that reference the past, when I listen to Frightened Rabbit I’m not immediately compelled to turn it off and replace it with an album by one of the bands being referenced. Instead, I want to turn it up, listen through to the end, flip the record, and then do it again. Their new album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, is out February 23 on FatCat Records. Listen to “Nothing Like You” (and b-side “Learned Your Name”) here.
Remember Low? The band that defined the meaning of playing with hushed, somber introspection, and gained popularity in the mid to late 90’s? Well, the dude from Low, Alan Sparhawk, has a new project, Retribution Gospel Choir, and loud is his new quiet. The band’s second album, appropriately titled “2”, suggests that Sparhawk has followed a similar trajectory in his playing that I have in my listening, which is to say that he’s gone from a mid-90’s mope to a late-aughts loudness colored with nostalgia. My nostalgic leanings have taken me backwards through my early twenties grunge era, past the metal-mania years of my teens, and all the way to the 70’s classic rock that my brother raised me on, meaning that lately my turntable has been spinning things like Blue Oyster Cult, Boston and REO Speedwagon. That’s right, REO Speedwagon. “You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish,” motherfucker!
Anyway, along comes Retribution Gospel Choir, sounding like REO raised in the 80’s underground, or an indie-rock Blue Oyster Cult–I’m talking “more cowbell” B.O.C. here, which to some folks is a brooding, balladeering crime against the motor-boogie mayhem of earlier B.O.C., but fuck it, I like it. And my guess is, so does Alan Sparhawk and choir, as they pay some serious retribution to it with “2”–the Low hush is gone, but the somber introspection remains. Check it out: