The Higher State with Marty and Paul Messis have a new album, called Volume 27, out soon. Here’s a video for “The Worst of Their Treason”, the first song released to the public. The video looks like it’s shot in San Francisco a long time ago. Any know who the band in the film are?
Posts Tagged The Higher State
The Higher State have just layed down some tracks for their new and fifth (!) studio album. Considering their last one was their finest moment so far I have high hopes for this one, to be called Vol. 26 (no doubt a reference to West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band who called their albums things like Vol. 2 when it was actually their third). However, it is a bit unclear who is actually in the band now apart from founding member Marty Radcliffe and new recruit Paul Messis. But you’ll get a taste of what’s to come on the new 13 O’Clock single coming out next month. It is already playing on Spotify so check out these moody janglers embellished with organ. I am convinced!
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for, but let’s not jump straight to the dessert. First I’ve got some honourable mentions of releases that deserve a list of their own. These are either records that came out late in December of last year, or really great records recorded by equally great friends.
Bad Indians – …Are On the Other Side CQ
Sam Lunsford – s/t self-released
Gestapo Khazi – The Jewel of the Land self-released
The Resonars – The Greatest Songs of… Trouble In Mind
Beachniks – In Color Neotomic
Sapphire Mansions – Over America 12″ It’s Raining
Amor de Dias – The House At Sea Merge
Now, picking the below 15 from the original shortlist of roughly 85 albums was hard, but there’s definitely no doubt which have been the best five albums of 2013. That’s why this year I’m presenting them in a non-ordered 5+10 list. As usual Thee Oh Sees have had a good year, with a new album that I think actually might be my favourite from Dwyer’s pen so far. They also released Vol. 3 of their singles collection, and an excellent EP called Moon Sick. The powerpop album of the year turned out not to be the new Bad Spors LP (despite opening track “Get You” being absolutely killer) but the debut from Nightmare Boyzzz. It includes one of last year’s best songs, “My Body Breaks Down” from their Younger Siblings split, and also, since Plateaus didn’t release an album this year, Bad Patterns stole the limelight. Fittingly, “Crying In the Limelight” was the best track on the new Audacity record… Cool Ghouls and The Shivas are my best discoveries of the year. And Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel is the latest inclusion, perhaps it will grow on me, or perhaps it will be forgotten as mere psych pastiche. That’s the unfair treatment you’ll have to consider when you’re comparing an album you’ve had 11 months to digest with one you heard last week. I haven’t written anything about either Night Beats or King Gizzard, but you’ve probably caught on anyway. If you feel like you’re missing stuff I recommend following Record Turnover on soundcloud and fb where I share a lot of things I don’t have the time to write about at length. Of course, Night Beats were guaranteed a spot even before I heard Sonic Bloom, since their Malmö gig was purely captivating.
The Higher State – s/t 13 O’Clock
The Shivas – Whiteout! K Records
Night Beats – Sonic Bloom Reverberation Appreciation Society
Jacco Gardner – Cabinet of Curiosities Trouble In Mind
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Float Along—Fill Your Lungs Flightless
Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel – Nico & Her Psychedelic Subconscious Burger
Fuzz – s/t In the Red
Dead Ghosts – Can’t Get No Burger
Cool Ghouls – s/t Empty Cellar
Elephant Stone – s/t Hidden Pony
The Frowning Clouds – Whereabouts Anti Fade
Paul Messis – Case Closed State
Nightmare Boyzzz – Bad Patterns Slovenly
Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin Castle Face
Mikal Cronin – MCII Merge
And that’s it for this year. It’s been a great holiday season reading other people’s list, catching up on heaps of records and remembering just the incredible amount of good music being recorded and released. Even if it’s just a cassette, like the new Goochi Boiz album for example. And I just saw that What Next? released a new tape in May. Please tip me about anything I might have missed in the comments, sometimes you don’t hear your fave record of a certain year until one or several years later. Apart from the releases here in the archives, I’ve been listening a lot to albums from Warm Soda, Running, The Go, Mozes & the Firstborn, Bad Sports, King Kahn, Useless Eaters, Bazooka, White Fence, Black Angles, Crystal Stilts, Psychic Ills, Catholic Spray, Lantern, Audacity, Mantles, Wrong Words, Pastels, Primitive Hearts, Limiñanas, Feeding People etc etc.
A couple of mixes coming soon, as a complement to the lists.
If you’re a garage head these would have been the two most anticipated releases of the year. Since bursting out of a Melbourne suburb in 2009 with their Lovin’ You EP, they’ve practically spawned a whole scene of garage and punk groups inspired by them and Straight Arrows. The Frowning Clouds have now found a home on Anti Fade, run by the people behind Living Eyes (one of those very bands). Still represented by Saturno in Europe, who have helped them sway a new continent with only two brief visits. And a fantastic tour tape to boot, that I wrote about earlier and which features in my recent list of 2013’s best singles and eps. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Whereabouts ended up on my list of the best 15 albums, which I will be posting soon too. Because although the Gospel Sound From the Church of Scientology cassette didn’t show much progression from their ’65 revival sound of Listen Closelier, (except some ventures into ’66 sounds, like The Mods’ “Days Mind the Time”), this album is a completely different beast. While recent single “Propellers” is included here, neither that nor the preceding “All Night Long” hinted at the direction they would be taking here. This 13-track album is an ode to the psychedlic era Kinks and the folk-rock sounds of 1968. Without churning out catchy pop songs, they achieve the same success Woods did on their latest album, via quirky song structures, groovy bass lines and far-out 12-string sounds (check out the ending of first track “All Angles” for example). “Into the Ground” and “Dreamtiming” are among the most beautiful electric folk songs of the year. And on “3 O’Clock Habit”, “Beetle Bird” and “Product of the Peanut Butter Company” they could have been channeling Peanut Butter…. Conspiracy. But they’re at their absolute best when they are just Frowning Clouds: “Mayan Calender Girl”, “Much Too Much Too Soon” and “Heaps Deep” are unique and memorable songs in their own right. And still they’re not afraid to break out a simple braindead riff like that of “Human Being, Human Doing, Human Going”. Hear it on spotify
It’s true, The Higher State are here with their best album so far, aptly titled just The Higher State. Unassumingly packaged and presented, this masterpiece sounds like it could have been recorded in a casual 10-day session just like Younger Than Yesterday. Marty’s cut his hair, Paul Messis has come in on bass, no paisley shirts on the cover. As a band they’ve reached an age at which style and artifice is less important than just being yourselves. “Look here comes another trend, now you look just like your friends” to quote the album’s closing track “Try Slowing Down”. Even though the more psychedelic precursor Freakout At the Gallery was great, it’s this equally balanced mix of 12-string folk-rock and seething fuzz leads that they do best. With two razorsharp singles already released this year, only “Potentially (Everyone Is Your Enemy)” is included here, leaving you with 11 new songs that together make up the strongest material Marty and Mole have released since The Mystreated’s classic LP Looking Right Through (that, believe it or not, turns 20 years old next year). Perhaps it’s Messis who has re-ignited that spark, or maybe it’s the comfortable setting of their own Folkstone studio that just makes these songs come together naturally. Each of them so strong it’s impossible to pick a favourite. Hear it here, or get it from 13 O’Clock, along with their newest 45 “I Just Pretend”.
State Records have started a new 45 series called Sandgate Sound Acetates, the first being the debut from The Baron Four called “Yes I Do”. The Baron Four take off where Thee Vicars stopped after a tragic death. Don’t miss them live with The Higher State and Italian legends Head & the Hares in London next month.
Label owners The Higher State drop their own contribution to the series with the unwieldily titled “Potentially (Everyone Is Your Enemy)”. The a-side mixes viscous fuzz with a jangly chorus, both sounds that the group is well versed in by now – making it seem like they can churn out new high-standard material at the drop of a hat. “All Ties That Bind” on the flip is a short but sweet affair. And it should be added that the releases in this series are all in mono, with a sleeve/label combination that will have you reminiscing over Hangman’s Daughter 45s in no time.
But The Higher State are also looking ahead, with an upcoming US release, once again on 13 O’Clock. “I Just Pretend” is out in October and features a classic CBS design with a push-out centre. Hear edits from both releases below.
And here’s another LP I would have loved to have on my 2011 end-of-year list. Paul Messis, who did appear on it, has now joined the band on bass guitar but does not play on these recordings, made throughout last year. Musically, the group have taken a slightly new turn, which soft rock and psych fans will appreciate. There’s a new air of San Francisco area folk-psych on tracks like “These Things Take Time”, included in the latest podcast (check next post). They deliver two ballads, “Bus Song” and the sitar-based “A Thousand Yards”. Sitar is also used on the album’s longest track, the WCPAEB-flavoured “If At All”. Furthermore, “Everything I See” and album closer “Hey In There” sound fresh as well, pointing perhaps in Buffalo Springfield’s direction. This strand of their output could be heard also on their previous album Darker By the Day, on e.g. “Electric Cowboy”. Apart from those, this 3rd LP delivers three to four solid folk rock tunes with the signature Higher State jangle, including the preceding single on Get Hip, “I’ll Always Be Around” (which fittingly has the WCPAEB song “Transparent Day” on the flip). It’s no exaggeration to say, that with Freakout At the Gallery the group leave their fascination with early Love behind and step out of their comfort zone. And they do it well considering the album doesn’t have a single upbeat garage track on it. Get it from 13 O’Clock.
Paul Messis’ debut LP on 13 O’Clock will soon be in the shops and here’s his brand new video for the title track “The Problem With Me”. Paul says they went for the sort of Bandstand tv performance look (cf. The Paragons playing “Abba”), and you can see Marty and Mole of The Mystreated moonlighting in the band. The rest of the album is very much in the same teen jangler style, and includes a couple of covers by The Barons and The Dovers.
If you like The Mystreated you should also check out the new single by Marty’s current band The Higher State. It’s coming out on Get Hip and you can listen to the a-side “I’ll Always Be Around” below. The b-side is another West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band cover – they’ve already tackled “The Smell of Incense”. This time it’s one of my favourite tracks of theirs, the often covered “Transparent Day”. Not a surprising choice perhaps, since the a-side features some rising intervals the end of the verses similar to the WCPAEB intro.
For anyone who missed last year’s Higher State (ex-Mystreated) single “Song of the Autumn”, here’s the video for it, and it’s quite cool apart from the vintage dust filter. It came out on their own label State Records, and now that they’ve got their own studio and label they can really let their creativity flow. New album Freakout At the Gallery is in the works and another 45 on Get Hip has been announced. It will be “I’ll Always Be Around” b/w a West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band cover. “Transparent Day” is one of the best WCPAEB originals so I’m really looking forward to hearing that, especially since Marty Ratcliffe and company have shown great skill with their previous choices and executions of cover version (e.g. “My Time” by The Golden Dawn).
There’s a short doc about the set-up of the label here. More about other State recording artists portrayed in it, like Paul Messis, soon but right now I also must tell you about the Offhooks LP they just put out. The Offhooks was an Edinburgh group featuring Lenny Helsing (The Thanes) on drums and they cut an album around 1990 which remained unreleased cause the intended label folded. Now, Outside Looking In is finally available on State – check out “Pass the Time” over there.