Friday, 7 October 2022

Reviews: Caustic Casanova, Electric Jaguar Baby, Dystopian Future Movies, Source (Reviews By Rich Piva & Matt Bladen)

Caustic Casanova - Glass Enclosed Nerve Center (Magnetic Eye Records) [Rich Piva]

I am late to the party on Washington, D.C.’s Caustic Casanova, but I have been doing a lot of catch up and find myself wondering how this band has escaped me for so long. On their fifth album, Glass Enclosed Nerve Center, the band takes their excellent heavy rock/post punk to a new and way more progressive rock level with awesome results. I don’t usually start the review from the last track, but Bull Moose Against The Sky is the star of this record. A 22 plus minute proggy adventure that reminds me of the modern-day and more prog version of The Who’s A Quick One (a Who comparison from me is the highest compliment). This track goes just about everywhere, highlighting the male/female vocals and has the band’s instrumental prowess and stylistic flexibility on full display. From prog, to sludge, keys, some doomy bits, all incorporated into the journey. Caustic Casanova reminds me of a more metal Decemberists. 

I love at about seven minutes where Stefanie takes over on vocals and drives that part of the track with her voice and her keyboard. Great stuff, that leads us into a riff that reminds me of Rusty Cage, where Francis takes over vocals and in a most urgent way (backed with Cowbell) where you can almost feel him presenting his argument and building an army for what’s ahead. The band’s command of their instruments is on full display during this part of the track. This is just great stuff and I want everyone to spend some time with it. I know some will be chased off by the track length but trust me, it is so worth your time. Bull Moose Against The Sky isn’t the only strong track on Glass Enclosed Nerve Center, the A side is super strong too, with the opening track bringing the catchy riffs, Torche vibes and somehow The Pixies too. This one grabs you immediately.

Lodestar reminds me of a catchier and prog version of The Jesus Lizard and is wonderful. A Bailar Con Cuarentena is a funky ditty that introduces us to “The Autozone Messiah”, has a killer riff, and goes all crazy on you in the best possible way. Shrouded Coconut is ten minutes of post punk proggy goodness that will be amazing live. I love this record. Caustic Casanova has taken another step forward with Glass Enclosed Nerve Center and I think will be seeing the love from the listening public for this one. This one sounds like no other album this year and is a super-fun listen. Spend some time with it and don’t let Bull Moose Against The Sky intimidate you; the song flies by and you will find yourself quickly going back for more. This one is a must listen. 9/10

Electric Jaguar Baby - Psychic Death Safari (Rebel Waves) [Rich Piva]

Ripple Music’s offshoot more psych leaning label, Rebel Waves, has some super cool bands on its roster. Bands like Arcadian Child, Snake Mountain Revival, and Sacred Shrines are all bands that lean more towards the garage/60’s psych/pop psych stuff where the mothership has been the doom/stoner/proto label of choice for some of the best bands of the genres. The new Ripple release from the French duo Electric Jaguar Baby, Psychic Death Safari, straddles the line between the two, providing a hodgepodge of all those styles with some killer results.

The overall vibe of Psychic Death Safari is some garage rock goodness. But on the first couple of tracks, Hitmaker and Flashlight you get some 70s inspired proto, albeit recorded in said garage. This is not to say the production is poor, it is not, it just has that organic and DIY sound that you associate with the best of the garage lot. Shiver River is garage/punk/Bleach era Nirvana pulled of perfectly. Tracks like Sundaze and Hellcome remind me a bit of something that could have been on the first QOTSA record, before they got Chris Goss to come in and clean it all up (not a knock, just different. I love both equally). Never Enough is straight up garage and should be played on Little Steven’s show. Jaguar’s Boogie is just that: 60’s garage with some surf rock vibes and is a beautiful mess.

Honestly if the Black Keys were any good anymore, they would probably sound like Electric Jaguar Baby.This is 60s garage with some 70s proto done right in 2022. No gimmicks here, just straight-ahead rock by a duo with what is most likely quite the righteous record collection. Check this out for some excellent rock and roll to sooth your soul. 8/10

Dystopian Future Movies - War Of The Ether (Septaphonic Records)

Caroline Cawley and Bill Fisher of Church Of The Cosmic Skull return along with Rafe Dunn (Amusmsnt Parks On Fire) for more dark, esoteric music that pairs poetic, storytelling lyrics of Cawley with some dissonant guitars and dark brooding atmospheres. Recorded and self produced, it's an album that deals with the scandal surrounding 796 Skelton's found in the grounds of the Tuam Mother & Baby Home in Ireland. 

Cawley's Irish lilt opening the album with the spoken word piece She From Up Dromb├ín Hill, telling the tale of one such woman who was forcibly separate from her child, as if reading it from a personal diary, her evocative words punctuated by crushing doom metal stabs. Not the typical way to start an album, but it sets the tone for numerous dynamic and genre shifts because the vocals are low in the mix so if you turn up to hear them the riffs get you ears ringing. They shift from prog, shoegaze, noise, folk and then back again each song telling more if this horrific true tale, which so much more is still being discovered. 

War Of The Ether weaves it's harrowing tale, through the jangling The Veneers, the haunting repetition The Walls Of Filth And Toil, the discord of Licence Of Their Lies or the more anthemic punch of the title track which again plays well with dynamics. Caroline’s vocals are beautiful throughout, at times heartfelt and angelic at others accusative and defiant. Built on a dark topic and swollen by dark music, War Of Ether is a personal record that has the brought broad musical palate together with a harrowing true life tale. 8/10

Source – Emergence (Self Released) 

2 songs, 12 minutes, Source return from the Covid lockdown with the sequel to Pupa , the final song on their 2021 album Ethereal Self. Pupa of course being the juvenile form of an insect, these two songs are about transformation, changing into something new. Benjamin Gleason likens the concept to his own post-lockdown change, as he focused more on having a new appreciation for life, no matter how bad it can get. 

This epiphany is documented here, the intro Crack In The Shell serving as the build into the title track itself, along form, cathartic number with feel for the euphoric set against the groove, down tuned prog of Source which is inspired by bands such as Tool. Essentially this is a single and we don’t tend to review singles but, if this is the start of Sources next chapter then no matter the lyrical indication I’m glad the musical influence is still very much the same. 7/10

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