September 2020 Roundup

Seeing that so many amazing albums came out on the same day last week, I figured I’d get September’s Roundup post done early and cover them here along with a few other new releases that have been getting constant airplay around RCU Towers. Hip to it below…

L.A. Witch – Play With Fire

West Coast rockers, L.A. Witch, are back and fiercer than ever.

Play With Fire, which came out last week on Suicide Squeeze Records, finds the (nuclear) power trio igniting with a white-hot energy and smoldering with a gritty nonchalance. This is coolness at its peak.

The record is packed with Adrenaline-fueled songs like “True Believers” and “Fire Starter,” which rip with chainsaw riffs, barbed wire solos and ferocious drumming that sometimes sounds like artillery fire.

Yet the album also features some slow burners that are heavy with a dangerous and wicked atmosphere. Tunes like the sauntering “Maybe The Weather” and the darkly mysterious “Dark Horse” creep with a phantasmic psychedelia, largely thanks to the reverb-soaked spectral singing provided by Sade, the group’s vocalist and guitarist, which cuts through a mist of dirty percussive acoustic strums and thunderous beats.

The albums comes to a head on the final track, “Starred,” which detonates with seismic bass work and howling reversed electric guitar. If The Black Angels, Dead Kennedys and Boris squared off in a jam session/steel cage match, this might be how it would sound.

Get this scorching new record here today.

Meridian Brothers – Cumbia Siglo XXI

This might be the most original album I’ve heard in the last five years. I mean, how many releases on Bandcamp do you see with the tag, “Kraut-Cumbia??”

Meridian Brothers is a vastly eclectic electro-rock group out of Colombia that simply does not believe in musical boundaries. While not touring, the group is a one man band: experimental artist Eblis Alvarez. The extremely eclectic Alvarez seemingly sprung from the same spirit that flowed through the likes of Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle and The Residents.

According to its liner notes, this particular record was inspired by ’80s futurist cumbia music, namely by bands like Cumbia Siglo XX, Grupo Folclórico and 2000 Voltios. Yet you definitely can feel the influence of motorik beat (particularly on the pulsating “Cumbia Totalitaria”), Tropicália and even glitch pop.

Endlessly driving rhythms rush throughout each song, crashing through swarms of dizzying synths and harsh, clanging guitars that ring out behind Alvarez’s playful vocals. This combination of sounds, plus a dense and effects-laden production make for an intensely disorienting and fascinating listen. It’s easy to walk away from this album feeling drugged, but in a good way.

Cumbia Siglo XXI is indeed a dance album, but for those with 8 legs and a widely-opened third eye.

You can pick up this true marvel of a record right here today.

The Left Outsides – A Place to Hide

Let’s cool things down a bit with The Left Outsides’ A Place to Hide.

Previously released as a CD-R, this excellent live performance from last August is finally receiving its much needed vinyl issue for the first time today, thanks to Feeding Tube and Cardinal Fuzz Records.

With an excellent selection of originals and genius reinterpretations (including an utterly spellbinding take on the classic “Young Girl Cut Down in Her Prime”), the band is is at the peak of its powers here. With a combination of slowly reverberating electric guitar, ominous violin and icy vocals, the band brings an autumnal chill that you can feel in your bones.

Being that this is a record of gothic-tinged English folk rock songs, the music here already fills the imagination with images of overgrown rural cemeteries and rustic landscapes. Yet the (new) opening track, “My Reflection Once Was Me” does this in spades, through its bleak atmosphere, slow marching pace and Alison Cotton’s icy vocals that swirl in a harmonium haze.

This record is unquestionably essential for all fans of Comus, Shirley and Dolly Collins and Espers. Order your copy today right here.

Crystal Thumbtac – Jazzosism

Crystal Thumbtac’s debut album on Aural Canyon Records is an ever shifting electro beast that delightfully defies categorization.

The best way to approach one’s first album is by throwing in as many examples of your sound and versatility as possible, and this French sonic artist certainly does that.

From sprawling suite-length keyboard soundscapes to dark ambient pieces filled with twisted manipulated guitars and even upbeat moments of trickling instrumental synth pop, Crystal Thumbtac reveals their full deck on this album.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the record is the 24 minute astral journey that is “Cutie.” Repetitions of minimalist synthesizer melodies cycle like a collection of musical satellites sending signals to each other and conversing, before blooming into a truly gorgeous piece of harmonious electronic music that Kitarro would have been proud of.

You can get this album on cassette and digital today right here.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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