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Tag: lost patrol band

Still Corners Bring the Noir to Bushwick This Week

London band Still Corners play deliciously Lynchian cinematic rock with frequent detours into new wave. Their album Slow Air is streaming at Bandcamp, and they’ve got a show this Sept 18 at 10 PM at Elsewhere. Cover is $18.

The album is a diptych of sorts: they stack the noir stuff deep early and then lighten up as the 80s filter in with a glossy sheen. The aptly titled opening track, In the Middle of the Night sounds like the Lost Patrol doing trip-hop, Greg Hughes’ catchy rainy-day guitars awash in lush noir soundtrack synth. The Message has lingering spaghetti western licks over a tight backbeat, singer Tessa Murray’s misty voice channeling lost-highway desolation.

Julee Cruise girl-down-the-well stoicism and longing permeates Sad Movies, with more incisive/lush contrast between starry guitar and orchestral sweep. The band go back to catchy, vampy Twin Peaks ambience in Welcome to Slow Air, surreal tropical touches contrasting with neoromantic elegance.

Black Lagoon is hardly the monster movie theme you might imagine; instead, it’s a sleek, pulsing new wave pop tune with an unexpectedly desperate undercurrent. Dreamlands, the least troubled track here, has echoey Cure guitar front and center.

Whisper is the album’s most minimalist cut, the synthesizers’ growling lows and ethereal highs sandwiching spare, watery gothic guitar and bass riffage. Fade Out has wry phony low-brass synth over a steady backbeat. The Photograph is totally 80s – like, totally – a mashup of ABC and early U2 that works infinitely better than that bastardly pairing. The album’s final cut is the loopy Long Goodbyes, with its juxtaposition of simple, keening guitar and looming Angelo Badalamenti synth.

Every note serves a purpose here. Nothing is wasted in setting a mood and maintaining it, especially when the game plan is mystery.

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The 50 Best Albums of 2017

Scroll down for links to stream each of the albums here…except for the very newest one, which happens to be #1.

The best and most relevant album of 2017 was Fukushima, by the Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York. This haunting, epic five-part suite is not a narrative of the grim events of March 11, 2011, but rather the Tokyo-born pianist/bandleader’s reflection on personal terror and horror in the wake of the worst nuclear disaster in world history.

Fujii’s stock in trade is not political music. Her vast catalog – over eighty albums as a leader or co-leader since the 90s – encompasses everything from epic improvisational soundscapes, to dark, acerbic piano compositions, rainy-day Japanese-flavored jazz-folk and collaborations with a global cast of artists. This may be her greatest achievement to date, as lush and sweeping as it is anthemically tuneful. And as a response to greed-fueled attempts to cover up the deadly environmental damage caused by the meltdowns, it’s as savage as Shostakovich’s greatest symphonies or Charles Mingus’ political broadsides.

It’s not streaming anywhere at present (end of December 2017), but it’s just out and available from Fujii’s Libra Records. Watch this space for a link! 

Vast research and triage went into the rest of this list. If you count multitasking as listening, an extremely ambitious listener can digest maybe three new albums a day. That’s about 1200 albums a year. An extremely ambitious music blogger can sample several thousand and then attempt to make sense of the very best. As in previous years, these albums are listed in rough chronological order considering when they were received here, rather than in any kind of hierarchical ranking. Which would be absurd, anyway – if an album’s one of the year’s fifty best, it’s got to be pretty damn good.

Ran Blake & Dominique Eade – Town & Country
Protest jazz, icy Messiaenic miniatures and luminous nocturnes from the noir piano icon and his brilliant longtime singer collaborator. Listen at Spotify 

Ward White – As Consolation
The best rock record of 2017 is a surreal, twistedly psychedelic, ferociously literary masterpiece, from the guy who also put out the album ranked #1 here in 2013. Listen at Bandcamp 

The Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here
Iconic noir songwriter Steve Wynn regrouped his legendary, influential 80s band, who picked up like they never left off with a mix of psychedelia, dreampop and volcanic jams. Listen at youtube

Amir ElSaffar’s Rivers of Sound – Not Two
The paradigm-shifting trumpeter/santoorist/singer’s latest large-ensemble recording, blending elements of Middle Eastern, Indian music and jazz is an album for our time: turbulent, restless and packed with poignant solos from a global lineup. Listen at New Amsterdam Records 

Son of Skooshny – Matchless Gifts
Wickedly lyrical songwriter Mark Breyer, longtime leader of powerpop cult favorites Skooshny, carries on with this richly jangly magnum opus, which collects his best songs of the last ten years or so. Listen at Bandcamp 

Phil Ochs  – Live in Montreal 10/22/66
What’s the iconic 1960s political firebrand doing on a list devoted to new music? This is new – a never-before-released set of many of his most shattering songs. It’s probably the definitive solo acoustic Ochs album. Listen at Spotify 

Charming Disaster – Cautionary Tales
The New York noir supergroup – led by Jeff Morris of lavish, dark, latin-flavored rockers Kotorino and Ellia Bisker of parlor pop existentialists Sweet Soubrette – expand their palette from murder ballads to apocalyptic anthems, spy themes and a novelty song that had to be written. Listen at Bandcamp 

Alice Lee – The Wheel
The long-awaited new album by one of the most brilliantly lyrical, sardonically insightful, captivating soul singers and songwriters to emerge from this city in this century. Listen at Bandcamp 

Changing Modes – Goodbye Theodora
Postapocalyptic art-rock, noir surf and snarling dreampop are just the tip of the iceberg on the keyboard-driven, female-fronted cult favorite New York band’s seventh album. Listen at Spotify

The Mehmet Polat Trio – Ask Your Heart
Serpentine, uneasily picturesque, dynamic Middle Eastern, African and Balkan themes from the virtuoso oud player and his eclectic group. Listen at Spotify 

NO ICE – Come On Feel the NO ICE
The Brooklyn What’s Jamie Frey continues as part of this careeningly diverse group, arguably the best band to come out of Brooklyn in the past five years. Fearless soul-rock, unhinged post new wave and loud, enigmatic anthems with a killer, spot-on sense of humor. Listen at Bandcamp

Aimee Mann – Mental Illness
Morose, muted, characteristically slashing acoustic waltzes and orchestral pop from the perennially relevant psychopathologist. Listen at Spotify 

The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions
Sardonic, bitingly insightful new wave for an age of greed and narcissism from this era’s preeminent powerpop supergroup. Listen at Spotify 

Orkesta Mendoza – ¡Vamos A Guarachar!
The world’s darkest and slinkiest southwestern gothic psychedelic cumbia noir mambo band. Listen at Bandcamp 

Los Wemblers – Ikaro Del Amor
That a four-song ep could make this list testifies to how genuinely incredible, and improbable it is. Legendary in their native Peru, where they started almost fifty years ago, this psychedelic cumbia family band jam as eerily and otherworldly as they did when they first emerged from the jungle. Listen at Spotify 

The Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu compilation
Spanning from 1975 to 1984, this collection of kinetic Turkish psychedelic rock and funk seems even more current in this era of surreal cross-cultural mashups, comprising songs by artists including Erkin Koray, Asik Emrah, Ali Ayhan, Deniz Ustu Kopurur and others. Listen at Spotify 

The Sadies – Northern Passages
The moodily jangly Canadian gothic cult favorites’ hardest-rocking and most psychedelic album. Listen at Bandcamp 

Morricone Youth – Mad Max
The iconic New York noir cinephiles’ first release of the year – one of a planned fifty recordings of scores for films they’ve played live to over the years – is far darker and more southwestern gothic-oriented than the road warrior film’s plot. With a Karla Rose vocal cameo, too. Listen at Spotify 

James Williamson and Deniz Tek – Acoustic K.O.
Two iconic guitarists who largely defined the uncompromising Detroit proto-punk sound of the 1970s flip the script with an acoustic ep of lushly orchestrated Stooges classics. Listen at Spotify 

Andina: Huayno, Carnaval and Cumbia – The Sound of the Peruvian Andes 1968-1978
Seventeen trebly, reverby, even rarer tracks than the psychedelic cumbia unearthed by Barbes Records on the iconic Roots of Chicha compilations. Los Walker’s are the best-known group here; Los Compadres del Ande, Los Jelwees and Huiro y su Conjunto, among others, are also included. This isn’t just chicha, either: there are horn bands and cha-cha groups here too. Listen at Bandcamp

Melange – Viento Bravo
The Spanish Nektar jangle and swirl and spiral through one brooding, psychedelic art-rock mini-epic after another. Listen at Bandcamp 

The Legendary Shack Shakers – After You’ve Gone
Unstoppable after twenty years on the road, the iconic ghoulabilly/noir Americana band dive deeper into their twisted, swampy roots. Guitarist Rod Hamdallah makes a furiously triumphant return. Listen at Spotify 

Mames Babegenush – Mames Babegenush With Strings
Dynamic, lush, soaring, swooping brass-and-reed-fueled original klezmer dance numbers and anthems from this powerhouse Copenhagen unit. Listen at Spotify

Briga – Femme
The Montreal-based violinist’s eclectic, incisive mix of Romany, Balkan and klezmer sounds, with a little psychedelic and hip-hop flavor. Listen at Bandcamp

Saffron – Will You
Magical singer Katayoun Goudarzi and sitarist Shujaat Khan team up with Rolling Stones saxophonist Tim Ries, pianist Kevin Hays and others for this hypnotic, otherworldly reinvention of centuries-old Indian carnatic themes. Listen at Rockpaperscissors 

Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa
Newly digitized, rare, otherworldly 1970s and 80s Somali psychedelic rock, funk and Afrobeat from cassettes and master tapes buried to hide them from bombing raids. Amazing stuff. Listen at Bandcamp 

Arthur Lee & Love – Coming Through to You: The Live Recordings 1970-2004
Four sprawling discs comprising most of this psychedelic rock legend’s best songs, which he rocks the hell out of in concert. Most of this stuff is previously unreleased, and further proof that Lee’s career was far from over by the time he was done with Forever Changes. Listen at Spotify 

Steelism – Ism
Friends of Dean Martinez meets Morricone Youth in this surreal, catchy mix of keening steel guitar-driven instrumentals. Powerhouse soulstress Ruby Amanfu guests on a track. Listen at Spotify 

Neotolia – Neotolian Song
Pianist Utar Artun’s acerbic, moodily cinematic, sometimes jazz-inspired Turkish ensemble with the great Jussi Reijonen on guitar and oud. Listen at Soundcloud 

Dalava – The Book of Transfigurations
Slashingly eclectic ex-Lou Reed guitarist Aram Bajakian and his singer wife Julia Ulehla join forces and reinvent haunting, often harrowing Moravian folk songs with a psychedelic edge.Listen at Bandcamp 

Vigen Hovsepyan – Echoes: Revived Armenian Folk Music
The evocative singer/guitarist’s brooding, eclectic ballads and anthems from decades past, featuring the great oudist Ara Dinkjian. Listen at Spotify 

Money Chicha – Echo in Mexico
This is psychedelic south-of-the-border funk band Grupo Fantasma proving how deeply they can go into heavy psychedelic cumbias. Listen at Soundcloud

Castle Black – Trapped Under All You Know
Layers of reverb guitars flickering and roaring through the shadows, Leigh Celent’s power trio put out the best short rock album of 2017. Listen at youtube 

The Sweetback Sisters – King of Killing Time
Hard country, early 50s style from the eclectic, purist, badass duo of Emily Miller and Zara Bode with a great band behind them. Listen at Bandcamp 

Clint Mansell – Loving Vincent soundtrack
A classic 21st century horror film score. It’s not a horror film per se, but you can see the madness coming a mile away. Listen at Spotify 

Ella Atlas – The Road to Now
Enigmatic, allusively torchy singer Tarrah Maria’s band put out one of the most Lynchian releases of the year, joining forces with Lost Patrol guitar mastermind Stephen Masucci. Listen at Bandcamp 

Kelly Moran – Bloodroot
Enigmatically glistening, baroque-tinged multi-keyboard instrumentals inspired by many species of woodland greenery. Listen at Bandcamp 

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana
On which the well-loved Aussie psychedelic band took their initial leap into eerie, Middle Eastern-tinged microtonal music. Listen at Bandcamp 

Nina Diaz  – The Beat Is Dead
The Girl in a Coma bandleader gets ornate and cinematic with this dark, 80s new wave-style collection. Listen at Spotify 

Funkrust Brass Band – Dark City
High-voltage, rat-a-tat original Balkan brass anthems from this huge Brooklyn ensemble fronted by Charming Disaster’s Ellia Bisker. Listen at Bandcamp 

The Warlocks – Songs from the Pale Eclipse
Jangly, punchy, catchy 60s Laurel Canyon-style psychedelic rock – in lieu of a new album by the Allah-Las, this one will do fine. Listen at Bandcamp 

Galanos – Deceiver Receiver
With a gutter blues influence, some Thee Oh Sees dark garage-psych and some Black Angels ambience, this group are sort of the X of creepy 21st century rock. Listen at Bandcamp

Chicano Batman – Freedom Is Free
Organist Bardo Martinez and his shapeshifting band swing kaleidoscopically between latin soul, Zombies-style psych-pop, hard funk and Isaac Hayes-style epics. Listen at Bandcamp

Bridget Kearney  Won’t Let You Down
One of the year’s catchiest albums features Lake Street Dive’s killer bassist playing most of the instruments, through a mix of powerpop and new wave-flavored sounds. Listen at Bandcamp  

Algiers – The Underside of Power
Politically-fueled punk soul meets postrock meets postapocalyptic film score in gritty singer Franklin James Fisher’s ominously smoky narratives. Listen at Spotify 

Eric Ambel – Roscoe Live Vol. 1
One of the most distinctively brilliant, entertaining rock guitarists of the last couple of decades at the top of his game at an upstate outdoor festival with a killer band. Listen at Bandcamp 

Red Baraat – Bhangra Pirates
Wave after wave of undulating, crescendoing, cinematic, insanely danceable original brass-fueled live bhangra jams. Listen at Spotify 

Olcay Bayir – Neva/Harmony
Quietly intense new versions of ancient Turkish ballads and Balkan songs from the nuanced Turkish singer’s debut album. Listen at Spotify 

Gogol Bordello – Seekers & Finders
Amazing how fresh and energetic the original Eastern Bloc punks sound after all these years. Tight, catchy, never boring. Listen at Spotify

Ihtimanska – Yuz Yuze
A low-key but bouncy duo album of biting, minor-key Turkish and Bulgarian tunes from the duo of reedwoman Ariane Morin and accordionist Yoni Kaston. Listen at Bandcamp 

Daniel Ruiz – Purple Bird and Other Strange Songs
A haunting mix of of Doors and Nick Cave-influenced dark psychedelic rock and pop  from this Spanish songwriter. Listen at Bandcamp

Ella Atlas’ Debut Album Builds Hauntingly Cinematic Twin Peaks Ambience

Stephen Masucci is best known for his film music and for his lead guitar in one of the most haunting, Lynchian New York bands ever, the Lost Patrol. Since that group ground to a halt a couple of years ago, he’s been busy with a new, similarly dark, cinematic project, Ella Atlas, with compellingly enigmatic, eclectic singer/multi-instrumentalist Tarrah Maria. The duo’s deliciously reverb-drenched new album The Road to Now is streaming at Bandcamp.

It opens with the catchy, distantly shimmering When the Gods Are Fading, swirly late 70s ELO through a surreal new wave prism peppered with references to wars and death. Masucci’s icy clang fuels the slowly swaying Red Kingdom, Tarrah Maria’s vocals lush with a similarly chilly allure.

Likewise, Hotel You begins with blue velvet tremolo guitar chords but quickly hits a brisk new wave take on a roadhouse rock groove, Tarrah Maria’s voice taking on a hint of a country twang in a luridly aphoristic tale of conflagration and escape. The slower. even more plush Waking Up has a spacerock sweep, the frontwoman’s voice bringing to mind Karla Rose at her most subtly torchy and dynamic.

Meteor shower atmospherics build to a propulsive chorus in Horses on the Run. Breaking Ice comes across as a noir surf-influenced take on the kind of angst-fueled retro new wave the New Collisions mined so memorably around the turn of the past decade.

Something to Be Desired is part hearbroken Nashville gothic pop, part Cocteau Twins, Tarrah Maria turning in her most ominously pillowy vocals here. The duo make an enveloping anthem out of an On Broadway vamp in Blindful & Bliss, then build strutting, turbulent, red-neon ambience in Can’t Go Back.

“I know that this will end, but I’m addicted to the view,” Tarrah Maria intones in Leave Me in Blue, the most darkly lingering, epically sweeping track here. The album winds up with Skin & Bones, rising out and then back to spare, rainy-day melancholy. As with the Lost Patrol, a persistent unease and distant sense of dread pervades these nocturnes: they’re songs for our time. Arguably the best debut album of 2017 so far.

High Waisted Bring Their Bittersweet, Surf-Drenched Noir Sounds to the Mercury

Don’t let the visuals – Freud would have a field day with the band’s frontpage web pic – mislead you. High Waisted really know their classic surf rock, and their 60s noir, and frontwoman Jessica Louise Dye’s high, clear, disarmingly direct voice adds understatedly striking contrast and frequent poignancy. Much as it’s unfair to compare this New York band with Australian noir powerpop legends the Passengers, or to put Dye’s voice up against the spine-tingling Angie Pepper, either way the similarity is striking: wounded ingenue out in front of a fiery, moody retro band. High Waisted’s new album On Ludlow makes an unlikely but refreshingly original candidate for one of 2016’s best releases. they’re playing the album release show tomorrow night, March 3 at 9:30 PM at the Mercury. Cover is $10.

The opening track, Trust is a noir mashup of doo-wop and surf rock building toward Lynchian angst with a sad, soul-infused vocal. Dye takes a mere lighthearted, nonchalant approach to some suspicious activity in the matter-of-factly wry, 60s girl-group infused Party in the Back, over Stephen Nielsen’s burning guitars and Jeremy Hansen’s snapping bass.

Shithead isn’t the novelty song the title implies: it’s an amped-up, straightforward, sad Twin Peaks kiss-off number with a bittersweetly ringing web of latin-infused reverb guitar behind the vocals. Likewise, Door builds a surreal, starlit mashup of wounded 50s pop balladry, Orbison noir and current-day, reverb-cloud surf: think a chirpier Fabienne Delsol backed by Strange But Surf.

Gold Tooth sounds like it’s going to be just another lame detour into post-Strokes Bushwick poser-rock until the band hits that first gorgeous chorus and then takes it into chord-chopping Dick Dale territory. After that, Hey Hey makes a return to wistfully amped-up major/minor changes.

Shanghai Spy is a blistering minor-key surf rock instrumental, and ironically the album’s best song, bringing to mind a more polished, less overtly macabre Ghost Scorpion. Wait takes a familiar, swaying Ventures hook and makes a Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood Vegas garage-pop escape anthem out of it, drummer Jono Bernstein pushing its surf drive, Nielsen firing off a savage blast of chord-chopping when the band hits the peak midway through.

Nuclear Lover isn’t about Dick Cheney or a Fukushima girlfriend: instead, the band grafts a moodily attractive chorus to an insistent mid-80s Cure verse. Maybe Baby has a distantly ominous om post-Phil Spector twinkle beefed up by the clang of the guitars: as the girl in the story professes her love to some random guy, you just know she’s going to get her heart broken. The album winds up with the album’s second instrumental. Kitchen Safari, a swirly spy theme that wouldn’t be be out of place in the Lost Patrol catalog. All this is totally retro yet totally in the here and now: it’s awfully cool to see this band putting their own original spin on a classic, angst-fueled 60 sound.

If you want to hear the album, it’s streaming at one of the web’s suckiest blogs – make sure your ad blocker’s working and mute the sound til you know the coast is clear. In the meantime, until it hits Spotify, there’s lots of good live and studio stuff at the band’s soundcloud and youtube channels.

Another Lush, Lusciously Lynchian Album from the Lost Patrol

The Lost Patrol get a lot of film and tv work, which makes sense for such a Lynchian band. Their latest album Chasing Shadows is streaming at Bandcamp, and it’s one of the year’s best. Frontwoman Mollie Israel’s reverb-drenched, unselfconsciously poignant vocals waft over lead guitarist Stephen Masucci’s icy, echoing phrases and twelve-string guitarist Michael Williams’ lush jangle, new drummer Tony Mann maintaining a tersely stalking beat.

The opening track, Creeper, mashes up Rob Schwimmer’s Booker T. organ, creepy Lynchian tremolo guitar and an 80s goth sway, but it doesn’t swing – the tension is relentless, and vertiginous. Likewise, Too Hard Too Fast pulses along on a new wave beat: if Blondie at their peak were darker, they’d sound like this. Israel sings S’Enfuir (meaning “run away”) in breathy, angoisse-drenched French as the two guitars gently but menacingly jangle and intertwine.

Israel’s wounded, poignant vocals soar over baritone guitar riffage and a lush web of acoustics and electrics on the Nashvillle gothic shuffle Trust Me. By contrast, Treachery rocks a lot harder than this band usually does, echoing both Bowie and X. The album’s title track has Masucci mingling a Blue Oyster Cult-ish riff into the nocturnal, echoey swirl behind Israel’s brooding, resigned voice.

The album’s catchiest song is Hurricane, a cautionary Juliee Cruise-esque guitar pop hit directed at a guy who can’t resist a femme fatale. Its final cut is the regret-laden waltz If I Could. And you might think that the one cover here, I’m 28 – originally recorded by lightweight 80s chirper Toni Basil – would be a laugh, but Israel actually manages to lend some genuine dignity to a girl who breathlessly feels her clock ticking. Not bad for a song written by a guy (ex-Hollie Graham Gouldman).

The Lost Patrol Haunts Otto’s

The Lost Patrol headlined this month’s Saturday night surf rock shindig at Otto’s. Part of the set was sort of a mashup of the Cocteau Twins and the Ventures in their most deep-space moments, other times they were the ultimate Lynchian noir Nashville band. On record, their frontwoman Mollie Israel gives the songs an otherworldly allure; on stage, she is the ultimate Lynch girl. Watching her was surreal: between songs, she was unexpectedly down-to-earth, bantering with the crowd, but when the songs began she went into character and never left, a lithely electric, black-clad presence whose charisma was visceral. Having seen both Neko Case and Eilen Jewell recently, Israel is just as compelling, maybe more so, doomed and dangerous yet strangely vulnerable.

The band took a long time to set up: if they’d wanted to be pretentious, they could have called their set “electroacoustic,” the singer and her two guitarists playing to a backing track with bass, drums and occasional keyboards. This didn’t bode well, but they transcended the challenge of having to perform without any useful interaction from whoever had originally played the stuff in the can (it was probably them). They did their earlier material first, some of which reminded of the Church back around the time of the Blurred Crusade album, then one song sounding like Rebel Rebel slowed down and moved forward into the 4AD Records era. Lead guitarist Stephen Masucci’s casually expert, minutely nuanced blend of elegant reverb lines, crescendoing tremolo-picking and eerily resounding, bending chords blended with twelve-string acoustic guitarist Michael Williams’ lustrous jangle, which unfortunately was too low in the mix. But this was Otto’s, where the sound is going to be hit-and-miss and at least Israel’s voice was audible.

All Tomorrow’s Promises blended ethereal dreampop resonance into a sad but purposeful anthem, again much like the Church. Spinning, the first track on the band’s excellent new album, Driven, had the a catchy, bracing, late-winter jangle that reminded of Liza & the WonderWheels. Israel’s best vocals of the night might have been her wordless ones on the late-night highway theme There & Back. She said that her favorite song on the new album is See You in Hell, which takes a familiar dark garage rock riff and uses it in all kinds of original and interesting ways. And then she sang the hell out of it, bright and clear as a bell but irreparably wounded at the same time. They encored with a brightly surreal, gently reverberating cover of the haunting Ginny Millay country ballad Jukebox on the Moon, winding up the night on a perfectly Lynchian note, sad and completely alone, perfectly capsulizing what this band is all about. This show was an increasingly rare treat: although their songs are regularly featured in film and on tv, they don’t play around or tour as much as they used to. Catch them next at Bowery Electric on Sept 12.

Gorgeous Noir Janglerock and Dreampop From the Lost Patrol

The Lost Patrol have been around in one form or another since the late 90s. They started out as a cinematic soundtrack project, then became a surf band more or less and about five years ago morphed into a deliciously noir janglerock band, sort of the missing link between the Church and the Cocteau Twins. The addition of frontwoman/guitarist Mollie Israel pretty much brought them to their peak as a recording and touring band. In an era when supposedly nobody makes albums anymore, this band has ten (10) to their credit plus numerous singles and contributions to anthologies. Their latest one, Driven, with its lushly clanging unease and swirl, is streaming at the group’s Bandcamp page. They’re headlining Otto’s – a venue far too small for a band this good – at around midnight on Saturday, August 3 on one of Unsteady Freddie’s surf rock nights with purist Connecticut instrumentalists the Clams playing at 10 followed at 11 by powerhouse original reverb rockers Strange But Surf.

The album’s first track, Spinning sets the stage for much of what’s to come, an anthemic janglerock tune straight out of the Church circa The Blurred Crusade. With its lingering guitars and sweeping synth, All Tomorrow’s Promises sets Israel’s dreamy vocals against guitarist Stephen Masucci’s tersely echoey resonance, a spot-on evocation of the Church’s Peter Koppes. Chance of Rain is a morbidly gorgeous, twangy 60s garage tune lowlit by Israel’s brooding, elegaic vocals: “A chance of rain/Still remains/You tried in vain/To wash away/All the days you left behind.”

Israel takes the sultry menace just short of over the top with Little Black Kitten, a slow, slinky, simmering noir organ/janglerock groove. See You in Hell builds off a familiar old garage rock riff: where other bands would take it straight to cliche central, this crew sways it gently and lushly and makes it all the more ominous. The echoey, anxious, tonebending sway of Burn Me Down brings back memories of the late, great late 90s/early zeros New York rockers DollHouse.

There & Back shuffles along on a dark surf groove, followed by the moody dreampop ballad Tell Me. Invincible looks back to the early 80s for its apprehensive new wave swirl, followed by Just Go, an abrupt but impressive detour into torchy saloon jazz featuring Rob Schwimmer’s jaunty ragtime-fueled piano. The two most Lynchian songs here wind up the album: the propulsive noir 60s pop hit In Too Deep and then the towering, angst-fueled Disguise. One of the half-dozen best albums of 2013, by this reckoning: you’ll see it on the final list at the end of year here if we make it that far.