What’s this? It’s a Tuesday edition of Pressing Concerns! This one tackles an all-timer in Heavenly‘s recently reissued debut album, plus new albums from Gold Dust, Shaki Tavi, and Thank Your Lord for Satan.
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Heavenly – Heavenly Vs. Satan (Vinyl Reissue)
Release date: November 11th
Record label: Skep Wax
Genre: Twee, indie pop, jangle pop
Pull track: Lemonhead Boy
Amelia Fletcher and Robert Pursey of Heavenly didn’t found Skep Wax Records merely to revisit the past. Already, they’ve used the relatively new label to release new music from their current bands Swansea Sound and The Catenary Wires, as well as a record from their long-running indie pop peers The Orchids and a compilation of new material from many early-Sarah Records-era bands and musicians who are still at it. With that in mind, it feels like they’ve more than earned a look back towards what was their most beloved band, Heavenly. Skep Wax is planning to reissue all four Heavenly LPs on vinyl over the next two years, and it begins this week with their re-pressing of 1991’s Heavenly Vs. Satan, thirty years and change from its initial release on Sarah.
Although Heavenly Vs. Satan would eventually be released in the United States on K Records, and Calvin Johnson would sing on one of the band’s later releases, Heavenly always fell more on the “stately” side of twee music than their American counterparts’ ramshackle nature. The band already had a firm foundation by their first full-length—the steady rhythm section of drummer Matthew Fletcher and Pursey on bass, the bright, frequently arpeggiated guitar playing of Amelia Fletcher and Peter Momtchiloff, and Amelia’s conversational but melodic vocals, all of which are on display in the perfect pop of opening track “Cool Guitar Boy”. This version of the band excelled at this breezy jangle pop, with “Shallow” and “Don’t Be Fooled” particularly standing out as highlights.
Heavenly’s punk influences are a subtle but notable ingredient in the eight tracks of Heavenly Vs. Satan, mainly traceable through the lack of extra adornment on these songs (they were still a ways away from adding keyboardist Cathy Rogers) and the frequently brisk tempo with which they played them. The refrain of “Boyfriend Stays the Same” is particularly loud and punchy, and songs like “It’s You” and “Lemonhead Boy” are pleasing-sounding sprints.
The Skep Wax reissue of Heavenly Vs. Satan also includes the band’s first two Sarah Records singles, and seeing as it’s being done by members of the band themselves, it’s a case of collecting similarly-fitting material together rather than just slapping on some bonus tracks for the sake of bonus tracks. The zippy pop of “Over and Over” and “Wrap My Arms Around Him” in particular sound as good as anything from the LP proper. If you haven’t heard this record, it’s pretty essential listening for Rosy Overdrive readers, and even if you have, this is a good a time as any to revisit. See you next year for Le Jardin de Heavenly. (Bandcamp link)
Gold Dust – The Late Great Gold Dust
Release date: November 4th
Record label: Centripetal Force
Genre: Folk rock, psych rock, fuzz-folk
Formats: Vinyl, CD, cassette, digital
Pull track: A Storm Doesn’t Hurt the Sky
Last year, Kindling’s Stephen Pierce debuted his new solo project Gold Dust with a self-titled debut album, an intriguing record that retained the fuzz-drenched reverb of his old shoegaze band while directing this sound toward singer-songwriter folk rock. Pierce is back with a second Gold Dust album about a year after the first, and The Late Great Gold Dust finds the project being a bit bolder in combining noise and pop song structures. It’s not a huge departure from Gold Dust—if that record resonated for you, its follow-up absolutely will as well—but it feels like Pierce is more willing to let a crashing drumbeat or synth touches briefly rise up in the middle of the songs. The doom folk of the first half of opening track “Go Gently” exemplifies the project’s new sonic territory from the get-go, symbolically capturing the darkness in some of the record’s lyrics.
The second half of “Go Gently” contains a notable shift toward the cavernous, hypnotic, but catchy folk rock that’s closer in sound to Gold Dust—and side one highlights “Mountain Laurel”, “A Storm Doesn’t Hurt the Sky”, and “Larks Swarm a Hawk” are all great additions to this side of Gold Dust. The second half of The Late Great Gold Dust retains the flip side’s surface accessibility, even as Pierce doesn’t sound like he’s always in the spirits to match—“Life is bad, at least it’s short,” he sings gorgeously in “Unreliable Narrator”, and he uses the sugary sweet, TV-theme-esque melody of “All Things Aside” to remark that “time makes an ass of us all, it’s a remarkably embarrassing crawl”. Even late into the album, Gold Dust continues building intricate, ear-catching songs, like the western guitar swings that mark “Weird Weather” and the rolling country rock of “Catalpa Bloom”. The Late Great Gold Dust never stops requiring the listener to take in the breathtaking with the dour. (Bandcamp link)
Shaki Tavi – Shaki Tavi
Release date: November 4th
Record label: Mutation
Genre: Shoegaze, noise pop, fuzz rock
Pull track: Hopeless // Devoted
Los Angeles’ Shaki Tavi is a loud rock band led by Leon Mosburg, and the project’s self-titled debut record is a collection of eight in-the-red pop songs that are quite catchy underneath the fuzz. Shaki Tavi is being released by Mutation Records, who also put out the Clear Capsule EP at the beginning of the year, and that’s a good sonic starting point for this record, albeit with less 90s alt-rock revivalism and more straight shoegaze. Shaki Tavi is a six-piece group, featuring three guitarists and a keyboard player, and it’s apparent from opening track “Voices” that they’re going to make the noise of (at least) six people. It’s also apparent that Shaki Tavi isn’t merely content to be a blunt force instrument, judging by Mosburg’s calming, even vocals that sit right in the middle of the song.
Shaki Tavi continues the sonic barrage from that point, and it continues offering rewards for enduring it as well; “Believe in Everything” features melodic guitar leads floating over the instrumental storm, single “Hopeless // Devoted” contains a huge, stomping chorus, and the propulsive noise punk of “The Arm” is positively lean by Shaki Tavi standards. Although they’re still loud, some songs on Shaki Tavi probe different depths, like the dream pop of “Apple Eyes” and the desert psychedelia of “Crime” (featuring guest vocals from Emma Maatman of Dummy). Shaki Tavi is a heavy record that finds plenty of varied angles to present its core sound. (Bandcamp link)
Thank You Lord for Satan – Thank You Lord for Satan
Release date: November 4th
Record label: Buh
Genre: Neo-psychedelia, dream pop, psychedelic folk
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: A Million Songs Ago
Thank You Lord for Satan is the Lima, Peru-based duo of Paloma La Hoz and Henry Gates, both of whom have played in several Lima bands before this recent collaboration, and both trade off lead vocal duties in their newest project as well. Their self-titled debut record reminds me a bit, spiritually, of the Courtney and Brad album from earlier this year—it’s the sound of two talented singer-songwriters trying on several different musical styles, with compelling results. The sleepy guitar pop of “A Million Songs Ago” opens Thank You Lord for Satan with a crisp arpeggio that eventually builds to a shoegaze-evoking, fuzzy full band conclusion.
The mid-tempo march of “Wet Morning” is the other rock band peak of Thank You Lord for Satan, dipping its toe into heady psychedelia. The record’s quieter moments deliver as well. “Conversations Al Amanecer” finds a midpoint between dream pop and dub, riding a steady bassline across a handful of minimal but effective instrumental flourishes, and two of Gates’ songs—the lush chamber pop of “Text Message” and the unadorned folk of “Sad Song”—showcase the band’s subtlety. The album ends with “Divine Destiny”, a lightly-bouncing piano-based tune that, in true Thank You Lord for Satan fashion, doesn’t really sound like anything else on the record but is a successful journey. (Bandcamp link)
- Brothertiger – Brothertiger
- Katie Lass – Hypnopomp
- Sobs – Air Guitar
- Horse Lords – Comradely Objects
- Cheekface – Don’t Ask (B-Sides) EP
- Jeff Rosenstock & Laura Stevenson – Younger Still EP
- Big Joanie – Back Home
- H. Pruz – Again, There EP
- King Bee – King Bee
- June McDoom – June McDoom EP
- Same – Does It Go Any Faster?
- Phil & the Tiles – Phil & the Tiles EP
- Swelt – Red Mountain EP
- Gay Meat – Bed of Every EP
- Field Medic – Grow Your Hair Long If You’re Wanting to See Something That You Can Change
- Lemon of Choice – Jay Leno Crash
- Ekko Astral – Quartz EP
- Slag Queens – Favours
- KAN KAN – Car Country
- Summit Point. – Vulnerable
- Belts – 2
- Sister Wives – Y Gawres
- Mdou Moctar – Niger EP Vol. 1 / Niger EP Vol. 2
- Lucid Express – Floret
- Various – Without Warning: Early Montana Punk, Postpunk, New Wave, & Hardcore 1979-1991