Glenn Donaldson and Carly Putnam's Helpful People, Idle Ray and Alien Eyelid
LTD 300 only
Glenn “Midas Touch” Donaldson (Reds Pinks and Purples) teams up with Oilies‘ Carly Putnam for this absolute fuzz-fest indie pop melter. The guitars threaten to crack apart frequently, walls and walls of distortion forming a gauze of frequencies over the songs. Donaldson’s guitar playing and wall-of-sound aesthetic gets a real airing here, recognisable from his work in Vacant Gardens or, reaching further back into his discography, Skygreen Leopards. The mix is sympathetic to Putnam’s to-die-for vocal performances though, which smack of the kind of throw-away brilliance of Juliana Hatfield, so rather than being obscured by the noise the songs shine through the haze brilliantly.
The chord progressions feel like the intuitive playing of J. Mascis, giving perfect succour to the songs: opener You Don’t Have To Know Where To Go sets the scene, rudimentary and thumping before the eponymous track turns the heartbreak dial up to 10, those oozy minor chords hitting the perfect spot. Sometimes the delivery feels akin to Karina McGill in Cindy, Putnam’s little epithets curling around the chords smartly and leaving the song when they need to. Protection Energy cascades guitar all over the joint, layer upon layer of strings piled on top of each other with the vocal sailing over it like every indie pop band you’ve ever heard but somehow sounding like the very first ever indie pop band.
The sound is probably rougher, the song structures more primitive than Reds Pinks, but it really works. Donaldson, as if you were in any doubt, is a stylist and songwriter to go down in the history books and 50/50 partner Carly Putnam’s presence makes the whole thing just vibrate with a sweet melancholy.
Corridors Of Summer
Celebrate the death of summer with this triangle of sadness from Michigan. Idle Ray stalk the corridors of summer dodging rays of light to stay in the shadows.
Lurching, slow-tempo drums carry singer Frances’ vocal on a breeze of yearning and vocals drenched in looooong reverb. When that chorus kicks in you can practically feel the starlight dripping off the night into yr dew-soaked hair. Lovely stuff that shimmers in all the right places.
Flip it over and the distorted trails of decaying guitar open up other singer Fred’s torn, world-weary croon over a band that sound like they’re breaking down or up.
Limited to 100 only.
Houston’s Alien Eyelid follow up their previous Tall Texan release with stronger songs than ever and an expanded line-up. Featuring alumni of Lower Dens, Balaclavas, Buxton, and Hearts of Animals, ‘Bronze Star’ straddles the line between indie rock, country, and the country-tinged ‘Workingman’s Dead’-era Greatful Dead.
Gorgeous Texan, countrified rock here along the lines of Gram Parsons, The Band that sails right through the strait between slick and rough-round-the-edges. Already long gone at source, this is a gorgeous, pedal-steel soaked heartbreaker.