Another Friday rolls around and it seems we’re smothered in water in parts of the world with more natural disasters running concurrently. Earthquakes and more catastrophes like expected tsunamis are happening but I remember back when a tsunami was nothing more than a clever name for a band. Which brings me to another point: more and more groups are opting to utilize the names of bands that have already existed. There are enough words in multiple languages to where situations like this shouldn’t even have to be mentioned. Groups don’t want to simply research things which is mind-boggling. But I guess that’s of little importance. There’s some new music released today which keeps my mind from moving a million miles in different directions. It’s a good thing but when you have music that moves through multiple forks in the road, I’m not sure what that does for my own psyche.
The North Carolina based RBTS WIN just released their sophomore release Sensitivity Kit (Fevered Visions/Tidal Prism) today and this record is, well, an album that’s not easily classifiable. The band is easy on the ears, loosely creative and blurs the lines between genres but the flows from track to track are quite engaging. While many use a sampler to create collages of sounds from other sources, here the group sampled themselves while creating the album. That’s one way to go but again, the varied genres RBTS WIN throws into the mix seems to allow the band to create its own unique sound. A track “I Want To Be (Freedom)” take a more indie rock approach with fuzzed-out guitar & bass interplay with a softly driven rhythm while songs like “Mescaline Tapes” & “Dreemz” find the trio freely roaming around electronic backdrops, but they never relinquish their instruments, keeping the group’s identity as a true band. The songs, they’re completely hypnotizing though, whether they’re moving at half-speed like “Your Love (Flesheater)” or killing it with the percussive “Third Eye,” which is bizarrely entrancing. Whichever direction RBTS WIN finds itself going in, you’re brought into the group knowing that nothing is what it seems. The band shows that with “Love & Hope,” placed somewhere in the middle of this album with its sample-heavy beat, eschewing their instruments for most of the track, in lieu of something much more soulful, engulfed on an R&B tip with a rap tossed in. It’s not a flash in the pan for 2017 though. The track’s vibe fits in well within the context of the album, but this is where the creativity of RBTS WIN showcases the group’s ability to flourish no matter what they attempt. On “Shiner Shifter” you get a lingering feeling the band is going to attempt to do the same but there’s no need for it. They simply grab hold of their instruments and play to their hearts’ content. Sensitivity Kit an album without boundaries and the band is quick to find itself as one of my favorites this year.
Disillusioned artists normally toss their instruments in the fire and just carry on with the mundane daily. It’s something that could have happened to the Toadies decades ago after the band’s re-release of the astounding debut album Rubberneck (1994) on Interscope. The group received an unexpected commercial success with the album, dropping multiple singles and keeping songs on major radio throughout the years. After the band’s sophomore release Hell Below/Stars Above, which dropped some 7 years later, the band wrapped up its career. Since then, the band came out of a self-imposed retirement and their fans were clamoring for more. Live recordings and multiple albums have put the group back on the map and The Toadies have just released another album today, The Lower Side Of Uptown (Kirtland Records). Why now? Well, why not? There’s a hard edge the band has never relinquished, and it doesn’t seem as if it’s going to be extinguished at any point soon. While the band’s last release, Heretics, was a more acoustic journey, revamping tracks to show a different aspect of the group, with this new album, nothing much has changed. It pretty much takes a cue from where PLAY.ROCK.MUSIC left off. The band rocks with a fervor the kids need to pay attention to. The band kicks it off with “When I Die,” which has an easy groove to attach yourself and when vocalist Todd Lewis bellows “When I die be my friend / don’t you dare push me in the deep end” you simply know things are going to get heady AF. The band keeps the same pace going throughout the track and while you might find monotony in how others attempt things, that doesn’t happen here. The low-end guttural sounds of the dueling guitars are hypnotic. The Toadies are all about dragging a beat into the ground and then coming up for air to pummel you long enough with a change in sonic delivery, as “Take Me Alive’ is testament to. There’s a play on dynamics here. They’re in and out and you won’t even notice it until you’re left panting on the ground. There’s more of that with “Polly Jean” and “You Know The Words” but then these four horsemen change things up a bit on “Mama Take Me Home.” They lull you in having you bobbing your head to a lighter strummed guitar but then slowly crescendo into oblivion before bringing things back down. Is it difficult find something on The Lower Side… that will have you hitting that FFWD button? No. “Keep Breathing” again plays with those dynamics the band has found an affinity for, and it’s probably one of their more larger-than-life tracks. Then there’s “Amen,” where you see/feel the other side of the band’s sound. Here they prove that not everything lays in darkness. It’s an appealing song where even as Lewis sings “Cross my heart, hope to die with you by my side/if you run, I will find anywhere you hide” you’ll ignore the psycho nature and still stand by him. The clear juxtaposition of the lyrical content and beauty of the music just works so well.
Now Beaches comes as a surprise. While I’m sure not many are familiar with the Australian quartet, the band’s new album, Second Of Spring, (Chapter Music) gets our No-Fucks-Given moniker attached to it this week. Critics love the band and rightly so because while this is the group’s third release, this double album is filled with 17 tracks of noisy blissed-out psych rock. Tagging these ladies with “noisy” may be far-fetched because it isn’t noise at levels Lee Ronaldo/Thurston Moore or even J. Mascis would throw on overload, but the band allows to let their instruments drift off, leaving levels of guitar melodies hovering above their songs. They allow the music to speak with its own level of feedback, which most of the time is on a short leash. Nope, they’re controlling everything. While the band allows those extended instrumentals to carry songs through, it’s not done gratuitously. The band does include lovely flowing vocals that may be difficult to decipher the wording but the harmonies are unmistakable. “When You’re Gone” for example had the band strapping on their guitars and allow those Miki Berenyi-esque vocals to rip alongside instruments. The same goes on the slower paced “Calendar” where the band creates this wall of never ending sound, but it’s full of gorgeous melodies. Throughout this lengthy release, you won’t find a track unworthy of a listen. Second Of Spring is a heady attempt by the ladies of Beaches but they hit every mark they were shooting for.