New Music | Friday Roll Out: MGMT, Psymon Spine, Amigo The Devil, Zombi


San Francisco’s Danny Kiranos is better known under the Amigo The Devil moniker and plays an astute blend of folk, country, metal, and rock and owes much to artists who have influenced him. Much like Waits, Cohen, and Nick Drake, the songs delivered on his new Yours Until The War Is Over (Regime Music), are darkly themed and cleverly delivered. The feel from one track to another shows a variety of emotions though. Take the opening “Hanging By The Roots” with its soft and sultry mood surrounding it as the bassline leads the way, is accented by jazzy guitars and slow-moving percussion. It’s Kiranos’ voice though that forces one closer to the edge, but always balancing on that tightrope perfectly. It’s followed by “It’s All Gone,” which leads with a twanging banjo and intentional rhythm along with Kiranos’ storytelling. While his identity remains obvious from track to track, the maneuvering in songwriting is balanced well. The instrumental “Barrel and Staghorn” which drifts along the landscape of dusty roads with samples and melody-drenched feedback in the distance. It’s a beautiful cascade of sound. Amigo The Devil does it all here with the capability to pull delicate notes from an acoustic guitar to offering tightly knit rockers.  


While the band has been in existence for over 20 years, which is sometimes difficult to fathom, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, the multi-instrumentalists who make up MGMT, have only released a handful of albums, which includes its newest, Loss Of Life (Mom+Pop Music). For some reason though, the band’s body of work seems much heavier than that but it’s just my mistake. MGMT is such a well-respected name because it creates delicate pop songs that seem timeless, at least that’s what the band’s new album offers. Listen to it straight through until you get to the closing title track, with washes of keyboard, bass for good measure, vocal melodies & harmonies bouncing from one end to another, and you’ll realize this is what the world should make you feel like: an endless number of joyful emotions running through your body. But I’m getting way ahead of myself here. MGMT creates lovely song structures that were built to stand the test of time and “Mother Nature” is a clear-cut example of that, with its crescendos lilting forward and backward as guitars strum along and vocal melodies lead the way. But it’s the sweetness of “Nothing To Declare” that might have your mind swimming in MGMT’s softly chiming melodies, riding a wave of acoustic guitars strumming across the horizon. It’s soothing and hypnotic both at once. But it’s “Nothing Changes” that builds around a melody that has an eventual rise and explodes with the addition of horns. Loss Of Life is an enthralling album without filler and captivates at all times.


Straight Out Of Brooklyn wasn’t just a 90s independent film but it’s also how we should relate to Brooklyn’s Psymon Spine, who delivers its third full-length album Head Body Connector (Northern Spy). Known for its dance-infused sound, the new album continues down the sturdy path the 5-piece outfit has found solace living within. Now while the band does allow its grooves to render your own body malleable, its sound occasionally travails a post-punk path. The band gives us a new generation of rockers that can dance to the underground rather than move aimlessly, arms flailing without sense of direction. The band’s “Bored Of Guitar” builds on a rhythm the group builds around, allowing instruments to find their own direction around it. Staccato guitars, infectious grooves, and over-the-top vocal displays without need of dramatization. Yes, the band can rock, the band can groove, and it can do it while making everything seem effortless. Psymon Spine will take you on a journey, “Wizard Acid” has you believing the band is moving in one direction but eventually slinks into another. Led by keys and effected guitars with an unyielding rhythm, it sounds different but it’s obviously identifiable as Psymon Spine. “Be The Worm” offers the best of both worlds as guitars collide moving through a kaleidoscopic bassline and vocally, well, let’s just say the group is unmatched, directed within a polyphonic methodology and is captivating. It’s the punk ethos of “Garbage” though that’s misdirecting. Not in a what-the-fuck-are-they-doing way but in a holy-shit-what-the-fuck-are-they-doing manner. The post-punk vibes of the rhythm allow for everyone else to capitalize on it and do whatever seems to feel right. It’s organic and blends together seamlessly. This is it, this is probably where we want to be right now in 2024, allowing Head Body Connector to be the soundtrack to our lives.


So the other day I was in a store and there were a couple of clearance racks mostly filled with t-shirts. I’ve been on this kick lately and tried my luck to see if there was anything there worthwhile. Yes, gold was struck! There was a Billy Joel, who needless to say, is an incredible songwriter. You can disagree but history will prove you wrong. Next was a 1983 Japan Tour t-shirt from STYX! Of course, I purchased these items for $5 each, why wouldn’t I? Seems like I jumped through a time warp, which is of course, fine. Now if I didn’t have “Mr. Roboto” going through my head, I don’t know if things would be different right now. Pittsburgh’s Zombi returns with its just released 7th full-length album Direct Inject (Relapse) and I can’t help but think the duo of Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra jumped through a time warp with me. While the band hasn’t shifted in how it’s worked in the past with drums, bass, and synths, the songwriting seems to have shifted from the darker 2020, the band’s last release, to exploring songs with good-natured melodies similar to the aforementioned STYX. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! The opening title track processes some of Moore’s quick-looped synth action with Paterra filling in for the empty spaces, which isn’t much. Yeah! Oh, the sheer fucking joy of it all. These two become one with their instruments. But it’s the repetitiveness of “Kamichi & Sandy” in the first minute that reels you in. They build around the song and there’s an enthusiasm to it that’s undeniable. The jazzy nature of “Sessuale II” is captivating while “The Post-Atomic Horror” is as ominous as its title with a deep, luscious bassline, buzzing keyboard, and driving rhythm. Direct Inject isn’t what you might expect, but it’s probably what we need right now.