Take a trip with ROB HUGHES as he seeks out the lat­est mind-ex­pand­ing mu­sic.

Prog - - The Musical Box -

Oh Sees leader John Dwyer, who knows a thing or two about wired psy­che­delic rock, calls Straight Ar­rows “the fuzzi­est, most catchi­est, es­capist, good-times vend­ing, rap­scal­lion tram­po­line shin­ers this side of the Mur­ray River”. The Aus­tralian quar­tet’s third ef­fort, On Top! (Agi­tated), pounds forth like a bull from a gate, evok­ing the wild R&B of 60s prim­i­tives like The Son­ics and Them. Fronted by gui­tarist and song­writer Owen Penglis, there are also nods to freak­beat, garage punk (Gun Man feels like a lost out­take from Nuggets) and the clas­sic age of psychedelia

(the fuzz-smoth­ered Buried Again). The over­all ef­fect is in­vig­o­rat­ing.

Dwyer may well also fancy the equally fe­ro­cious La Planète In­ex­plorée (Stolen Body), from French trio Slift. Un­der the guid­ance of noted pro­ducer Lo Spi­der in Toulouse, the band im­merse them­selves in dis­torted psych jams, at their best on the riffy might of Some­thing In The Mist and Ant Skull, which bor­rows its in­tro groove from the Stones’ Sym­pa­thy For The Devil.

Closer to home, Noth­ing In Par­ti­cles (Dawn Cho­rus Record­ing Com­pany) is an in­trigu­ing EP from Nel­son Pa­rade, oth­er­wise known as Cal­lum Mag­ill. Cue five tracks of key­board-driven psy­che­delic pop from the youngest brother of Syd Arthur’s fa­mil­ial clan, aided by Josh and Joel Mag­ill. Best of the bunch is the lu­mi­nous Kevin Crashed And Then Woke Up.

Carlisle’s The Lu­cid Dream have cho­sen to de­vi­ate from their usual prog stylings on Ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion (Holy Are You), mov­ing into the un­ex­pected realm of acid house. It’s still pretty out-there though, with front­man Mark Em­mer­son us­ing vin­tage Roland synths as the ba­sis for epic spacetronic grooves that shimmy and jit­ter with real pur­pose. Alone In Fear, a caus­tic re­sponse to the calamity that is Brexit, sounds like Un­der­world in top gear. SX1000, al­ready a favourite of DJ An­drew Weather­all, is rest­lessly in­ven­tive, off­set by the King Tubby-ish come­down of No Sun­light Dub.

An­other cul­ture clash is pro­vided by Schizo Fun Ad­dict, whose El Shoegaze Bossa Nova (Su­gar­bush) – as its ti­tle im­plies – hitches the Brazil­ian es­o­ter­ica of Ser­gio Men­des and An­to­nio Car­los Jo­bim to the glid­ing rever­ies of 1990s indie. Led by Jet Wintzer and Jayne Gabriel, the band make it work ad­mirably, from the be­atific psychedelia of Alone At Makaha to Win­dow Pain, with its gen­tle trum­pets and wist­ful de­scrip­tions of sea spray on glass. Back on a heav­ier tip, Sham­poo You

(God? Records) finds Chicago trio

Axis: Sova in psy­che­delic jam mode, tear­ing through songs with a petu­lant sneer and fear­some vol­ume. Main­man Brett Sova is an as­tute op­er­a­tor, cre­at­ing a near-per­fect bal­ance of melody and raw noise.

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