=  August 2023 =  
 Brainiac 5
The Silver Linings
Swarme of Beese
Paul Roland



(LP from High on the Pyg Track)

Housed in the striking John Hurford art favoured by the label, this all-new material from three of the four original late '70s members of the Brainac 5 (Charlie Taylor, Bert Briscoe and John Wood) plus ex-Plummet Airlines guitarist, the legend that is Duncan Kerr who joined when the band reformed in 2012, only to see them breaking up once again until re-coalescing to write and record this album in 2022. 'Memory Or Dream' is to my mind one of the most complex and yet distinctive Brainiacs albums to date, and almost certainly my favourite.

The material references locations and events that were significant to the band's early Cornish roots, and while they very sensibly don't attempt to re-create their late 70's sound, there's enough of their trademark stuttering rhythms - there's a Beefheart reference on the rear sleeve to guide the uninitiated, and tracks like 'Last Chance Town' carry similar unmistakeable hallmarks to 'Ice Cream for Crow'-era Captain - and jazz-flecked guitar solos to distinguish it as theirs, and theirs alone.

Bert's songs are strongly lyrical, poetic and elegiac - 'Cry in Style' in particular contains some great lines ('a tear is not a tear that's not followed by a smile' and 'everybody wakes up from the very worst of dreams') - whilst Duncan's superbly-crafted guitar solos sit alongside Charlie's more frenzied and edgy guitar excursions throughout, and bear, as label-guru Colin Hill gleefully pointed out to me, the unmistakeable influence of 'Clear'-era Randy California - check out the title track if you don't believe me; whilst 'Running Through The Night' will have you smiling from ear to eye.

My favourite track 'A Blind Man's Life' is possibly one of the least representative on here, but the Braniacs always have had a knack for delivering the unexpected, and it's one of their most endearing traits. It'll be a shame if this really is their last hurrah, but what a fantastic way to go out.

There are only 260 or so copies of this so you'll need to move quickly. I've included an email address in the link above.

(Phil McMullen)


(LP, CD, Digital on Thrill Jockey Records)


Dommengang is a heavy psych power trio who recently relocated from the Los Angeles area to Portland.  It seems like it’s all going on in Portland these days.  Their fourth LP Wished Eye is intelligently conceived, perfectly executed hard rock.  With a made-up, vaguely European sounding name, like fellow Americans Tonstartssbandht, the band has a style all their own.  They take a Captain Beyond-like ethos and update it for the present.  Dommengang revolves around the brilliant guitar playing of Dan “Sig” Wilson and the rock-solid foundation of drummer Adam Bulgasem and bass player Brian Markham.  Lots of bands play heavy riffs or have a great guitarist, but what sets Dommengang apart is their keen songwriting and stylish production.  This album is full of light and shade.


Wilson keeps listeners on their toes by employing a variety of guitar tones from song to song, and even within the same song.  He can go from stinging distortion and wah wah to dreamy spacefaring and back.  Another thing I like is that this is one of those records where the songs seem to get better and better as the running order progresses.  The run from “Myth Time,” the instrumental “Little Beirut,” “Blue & Peaceful” and “Petrichor” is about as good as it gets.  Closer “Flower” puts their best elements together nicely – melodic song composition, excellent harmony vocals, and a scorching guitar freakout by Wilson to seal the deal.  Indeed, on nearly every track, the band takes an interlude for Wilson to shred, and he never disappoints.  I also want to give props to Adam Bulgasem for his drumming.  His constant dynamicism and fills provide both excellent support and counterpoint to Wilson’s onslaught.


As alluded to above, Dommengang also deserves credit for their vocals, done by Wilson and Markham.  The singing is often treated with well-chosen studio effects by recording engineer Eric Crespo, and/or contains excellent harmonies.  Nothing about Wished Eye is over the top or in your face.  It’s psychedelic rock with just slightly sanded edges, which I’ll gladly take because such obvious preparation, skill and care went into it.


This is expertly put-together hard psych; Wished Eye and Dommengang deserve your ears’ attention and a few drachmas.  There are still a few Coke bottle blue LPs available through Thrill Jockey.  Go snap one up.


(Mark Feingold)


(Spinda Records)


It’s always exciting to take in the birth of a brand-new band.  From Málaga, Spain come The Silver Linings, and we welcome them heartily.  The band plays a heady brand of psych with accents on acid, space and krautrock.  They have a keen sense of melody and musicianship.  Their members are Javier Toledano (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Catarina Serer (guitar), Jose Gutiérrez (bass) and Lolo Cortes (drums, percussion).  They just played their first gig this past May.


Regarding the release of this four-track EP, The Silver Linings proudly proclaims “this record was made under the heavy influence of friendship and laughter.”  Love it!  And it shows – the good times the band had at Hollers Analog Studio come through clearly.  For a recording drenched in reverberating psychedelicsmanship, their confidence and enthusiasm appear prominently through the sugar cubes.


The EP may have four songs, but you almost get double your money’s worth, as many of the songs come near full-stop in the middle and begin another portion in a pseudo-medley.  And in an interesting trick (spoiler alert), if you buy the digital album, an unannounced bonus track “Life Force Live at Hollers” may appear on your phone.


They play a wide range of psych, and they’re not afraid to throw in bonkers stuff either.  “Pleasant Trip to the Unknown” opens with a sound clip from Ronald Reagan(!) about how nice it would be if the world would unite to fight space aliens(!!), before launching into another spacy psych rocker.  “Heart Full of Gold Live at Hollers” opens with a Supertramp-like harmonica intro leading into a cut slightly reminiscent of The Black Angels.  The Silver Linings don’t say whether Javier Toledano or Catarina Serer is playing lead guitar, so I’ll give them both credit for the fine soloing on “Cosmic Excursions” among other songs.  Bonus track “Life Force Live at Hollers” has all the rhythmic intensity of Goat without the attendant shamanic hint of making you a human sacrifice.


The Silver Linings and Spinda are aiming for a full LP release in October, so watch this space for an updated review.  Meantime, enjoy this preview of some excellent fresh psych.


(Mark Feingold)



(Backwards Modern Music  www.swarmeofbeese.bandcamp.com  )

The debut album by Austin, Texas band Swarme Of Beese ‘Backwoods Of My Mind’, was well received here at Terrascope last year. Its blend of mutant Appalachian folk infused Americana was well played and held interest throughout. They have swiftly followed it up with a new album which treads very similar territory, informed by the back roads, of swamps, prairies and cornfields.

The band consists of husband and wife duo Stephen Canner and his art historian wife Lynne Adele, both of them sing and play guitar with Lynne adding some percussion and Stephen mainly writing the songs, with Stefan Keydel, again providing the excellent violin and violas. He works well with the duo weaving in and out of the songs, much like fellow Texan Richard Bowden does with Terry Allen. The band also have a sympathetic producer Mark Addison who also helps out instrumentally playing a wide array of instruments including ondioline, reed organ, bonesaw, guitars, synths, bass and percussion. Half of the songs are sung by Lynne with the other half by Stephen.

Things kick off with a drinkers lament ‘Turpentine’ which perfectly illustrates their oeuvre; I'm reminded of bands like the Horseflies and the Gourds. ‘Ashes And Holy Water’, is written and sung by Lynne, a yearning tale of nature and loss. ‘Angel on Wings of Steel’, is a fairly bleak wintery tale and fairly sparse in nature. The final song on side A is Bright October day (Omie Wise) lyrically it is as dark as bitter chocolate yet musically as light as soufflé, it’s imbued with a sombre quality

My favourite so far from them is side two opener ‘Iowa Dirt’, Stefan Fiddling for all he’s worth while Stephen recounts a tale of lost love. Another terrific song is the gothic horror of ‘Twenty Eyes’, a flash of silver and shadows moving up on the ridgeline. Lynne sings the superb ‘Year of Dickens’, a sparkling, acoustic tale of ignorance and history. The album is fairly short with most of the songs about the three to four minute mark, the final song ‘Distant Father’ being the longest, at close to six minutes. It’s a great way to end the album, another sparkling acoustic song underpinned by deep viola and foreboding percussion suggesting a break in the weather, black feathers in a golden cornfield, framed by the deep dark woods beyond. Of black earth and blue eyes, of waiting for the sound of far thunder, the song ends with a lone violin and indeed some rumbling thunder. I have played this album quite a few times since it arrived; it bears up to repeated plays and comes heartily recommended, a nice slice of gothic Americana. In 1903 Grant Wood painted his famous work American Gothic, which portrayed a couple, both sombrely dressed with one holding a pitchfork. Well this album sounds like that painting, as if they both started singing joined by a fiddling farmhand. It comes heartily recommended.

(Andrew Young)




On second full album Reaching for the Light, Italian power trio Demonio conjures up a heavy blues leaning hard rock scuzz fest of the first order.  The sound reminds me a little of Radio Moscow from more recent times, and about a jillion fantastic bands from circa 1970.  Charting the main course is Anthony on vocals and guitar (the web page literally says vocals and Stratocaster for those seeking forensics on the implement of destruction), Matteo on bass, and Paolo on drums.  Matteo and Paolo are airtight at locking in the bottom and the tempo.  Anthony is another story – he’s a VERY talented guitarist who clearly loves doing whatever the rock ‘n roll guitar analogy is to an actor “chewing the scenery,” and we’re all the better for it.


They’re a down-and-dirty riff-generating machine, delivering hard, funky, bluesy grime.  The riffology can get slightly repetitive over the full album, but Anthony more than makes up for it with a high level of inventive guitar playing that doesn’t quit.  Opener “Heavy Dose” is exactly that, and pulls you in for the duration.  On “Fire Guru,” Matteo’s bass is a chugging freight train similar to some of John Entwistle’s playing, and when combined with Anthony’s guitar the two get very low down.


“I’m Free” is like a head-on collision between Robin Trower, The Bevis Frond, Jimi Hendrix and Dinosaur Jr. (the same could be said for many tracks), with Anthony’s vocals far back in the mix.  “Shiva’s Dance” is if anything heavier, which is hard to imagine.  Again, Anthony’s voice is there but partially obscured by the pounding tune.  Matteo’s bass and Paolo’s drumming are particularly ferocious on this track, while Anthony plays some relentless, earth-shattering guitar.  Closer and title track “Reaching For The Light” employs some head-spinning rapid-fire stereo panning on one of the guitar solos that’ll blow your mind on headphones, before song and album ultimately blast off into psychedelic headspace to close out.


Demonio would like to have a physical release (their label to date is Regain Records), but we’ll have to wait for an announcement.  Meantime, enjoy all the fuzz, distortion and wah-wah on Bandcamp.


(Mark Feingold)



(CD/DL  Occult Metal Records  www.paul-roland.bandcamp.com  )

When approached to release a record aimed more at a metal audience for Occult Metal records in Mexico, Paul set to work, taking his inspiration from a concert set list he played at a metal festival called Metal Magic in Denmark, but after some further consideration, label owner Antonio Casillas suggested re releasing one of Paul’s strong albums and that honour fell to Duel with Paul taking the opportunity to correct some of the things he was unhappy with, like the gated production with too much compression. The original album was released by Diva records in Italy in 1989. (Paul has always been popular with Italian audiences).

This album was the result of Paul wanting to write an album with songs linking together, he began dreaming up a theme to some songs after being inspired by reading Mervyn Peake’s Gormanghast trilogy but not all of the songs fitted the confines of such a project and so some of the songs such as ‘Spring Heel Jack’ and ‘The Crimes of Dr Cream’ for example take no inspiration from the books.

Paul’s songs for those unaware are dramatic, theatrical and gothic, taking in psych, rock, chamber and neo folk amongst other styles and this IS one of Paul’s stronger albums to which he has added quite a few extra songs, some appearing here for the first time like Carmila which is exclusive to this release.

It kicks off with the stentorian demands of ‘Knights’, pretty much a regular rock song, albeit one about Jousting etc, and it rocks. This is followed by the proggy psych pop of ‘The Crimes of Dr Cream’, a lovely song about a Dr with a taste for poisoning his victims, some nice twin guitar action and a fine solo too. ‘Reptile House’, has a really nice, baroque string section and is highlighted by flutes and oboes etc, we are invited to feed the reptiles. ‘Spring Heeled Jack’, is about a fleet- footed Victorian murderer, straight out of folklore, it also sports a fine guitar solo by Derek Heffernan.

Then it’s into the epic ‘Nosferatu’, who we are informed sleeps the sleep of the undead, a fine churchy organ plus some excellent lead guitar by Martin Reid elevate this catchy song. It also has a melody I can’t place, great stuff indeed; at times his vocals remind me of slightly of Al Stewart crossed with Robyn Hitchcock, should you need a reference. This is followed by a terrific ‘At the Edge of the World’, which rocks out nicely. ‘Alice’s House’, is quirky and fun, some excellent playful lyrics, cold sounding synths and a memorable melody, this one is also adorned a string quartet arrangement.

‘Menagerie’, which follows is another excellent song, enlivened as it is by all sorts of orchestration and burbles along quite merrily. We now come to the final song; a baroque trilogy entitled ‘The King Must Die’. The first part is a striding, baroque marching tune of merit, but treachery is afoot at the midnight court, there is talk of killing the old king in his chambers. The deed is done and the king is dead, for this final part the band gets to rock out with some maximum riffage to the fore whilst the court discuss who should bed the recently, widowed queen. The extras are well worth hearing too ‘Witchfinder General’, ‘Cairo’, ‘Twilight of the Gods’ and ‘Gabrielle’ impressing greatly on first listen. This is a really strong album and a fine way to discover one of our more prolific and singular musical talents. It should be available to order soon and comes highly recommended.

(Andrew Young)