Jessica Lea Mayfield: “Oblivious” / Show
I haven’t really kept track of songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield over the past few years – I loved her melancholy-soaked country/folk debut With Blasphemy So Heartfelt but then, as so often happens, I lost track of her. Listening to tracks on her new record Make My Head Sing it appears that a lot has changed since 2008 (Mayfield also released Tell Me in 2011, a record that I similarly missed). Whereas I knew Mayfield as a master of the woebegone, regret-filled ballad, the leading tune off of her new album, “Oblivious,” is a raucous, distortion-filled, rocker. It is definitely a change, but I think it’s a good one – Mayfield’s evocative alto is as well suited to garage/grunge as it was to country and it’s a refreshing update to her sound. Mayfield will be performing at the Turf Club this Thursday night with Dylan LeBlanc (another talented artist I have admired but not kept very good track of). You can get tickets here or at the door.
Flashback Friday: Loop (Show TOMORROW!)
While the UKs shoegaze scene of the 80s moved towards the 90s and flirted with almost pop music in the cases of Ride or even My Bloody Valentine, Loop took their sound towards apocalyptic punishment to their last album A Gilded Eternity. Opening with the dark sinister riffs of “Vapour” it was clear that founder Robert Hampson was looking to do something darker and even briefly joined Godflesh after the breakup of Loop. With the current resurgence of shoegaze and psychedelia, Loop’s influence is pretty clear today. Choruses and hooks were never really part of Hampson’s vision of music but instead a simple and pounding to trance inducing levels. As we approach the 25th anniversary of A Gilded Eternity, Loop reformed the final lineup for last year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival and are doing their first tour of the United States in decades. If the video below from last year is any indication the band has not lost a step at all. Don’t miss this because you’ll probably never see it again.
Loop play the Turf Club tomorrow (April 26th) with The People’s Temple and Chatham Rise. Tickets are still available.
Dead Gurus: “Starflower” / “Serpent Fire”
Soundcloud has a feature that allows you to visually follow a song’s sonic peaks and valleys on a handy scale. Most songs look a bit like the stripe on Charlie Brown’s t-shirt – all ups and downs. Minneapolis quartet Dead Gurus’ “Starflower” however looks like one long, fat bar. That’s because the song is a non-stop onslaught of raw psychedelic rock, wave upon wave of guitar noise and distorted vocals anchored to an undulating rhythm. It shouldn’t be any surprise considering the band is made up artists from some the the Twin Cities’ best psych rock bands – including Bennett Johnson (Daughters of The Sun), Sarah Rose (IS/IS) as well as Jason Edmonds and Scott Weller (Magic Castles). While each artist’s band has a forthcoming full length release this year, they are in Edmonds’ words “making the most of [their] time together in MN creating new music, and having a total blast doing it.” While that sounds a bit semi-permanent, hopefully the band manages to record a lot of songs as great as this while they can. Stream “Starflower” as well as “Serpent Fire” below and keep an eye out for news on the band’s facebook page. Dead Gurus next show is in Milwaukee on 4/24 for Psych Fest, but they’ll also be performing locally in a show at the Turf Club opening for psych/drone legends Loop on 4/26.
Queen of France: “She’s Got it Down to a Science” / Show Monday
Queen of France are a local quartet consisting of Iver Hillman, Mark Madison-Kennedy, Marshall Baltzell, and Nik Prenevost. They play indie rock/pop of a jangly, hook-friendly variety, but with hints towards more unconventional aspirations. They recently released a single The Wasted Numbers, consisting of the titular track as well as B-side “She’s Got it Down to a Science.” Personally, I prefer the latter tune, which I feel like I can hear shades of idiosyncratic influences along the lines of Devo and the Talking Heads. You can stream the track below and check out the band this coming Monday at the Turf Club where they will be opening for Fever the Ghost. — Jon