Record Store Day picks

Jason Jackowiak

We've got some weirdness for you this week on TSC, not your garden variety weird, either – more like waking up to find Captain Beefheart's Don Van Vilet in striped bloomers cooking you wildflower pancakes style weird. Poor analogies aside, these three platters are guaranteed to have you scratching your head and shuffling your feet in equal measure.

Our first psycho-delic treat this week is a listen to the Record Store Day exclusive release from Wooden Shjips side-project du jour Moon Duo & Bitchin Bajas, who themselves are a side-gig of cosmic-kraut rockers Cave, the “Fresh Hair” b/w “Bopper's Hat” on the increasingly crucial Permanent Records.

Moon Duo, “Bopper's Hat”

Bitchin' Bajas, “Fresh Hair”

We'll start with Moon Duo on the flip, because, let's face it, they're the reason 99% of you will buy this, and they don't disappoint with “Bopper's Hat”, a slinky and seductive track that sounds like nothing so much as the theme song to a lost spy thriller from '71 – lysergic guitars rub up against gurgling analog electronics and a Middle Eastern-tinged rhythm in a more than suggestive manner – it's all well sexy and psychedelic, which, isn't an easy trick to pull off, yet the duo manage it with panache and aplomb. You might come for the Duo, but you'll stay for the Bitchin Bajas, whose “Fresh Hair” is the perfect sonic kin to the 'flip. This lot trade in hypnotic, loping Krautrock grooves adorned with sprightly keyboard melodies and wild oscillations peeking their heads out of every grotty pore. Their brand of hypno-rock is slow-building and texturally dense, eventually spiralling out of orbit as the track closes, winding up on another planet entirely. This RSD-exclusive is limited to 750 and is available direct from the store/label as well as from scores of affiliated stores across the globe.

To follow that we've got the debut vinyl offering from L.A. bandits Heavy Water Experiments, “Hermes Told Me So” b/w “The Plunge” self-released by the band on lovely clear blue vinyl. What we've got here is a glorious '60s/'70s inspired racket that bristles with careening, radio-ready melodies underpinning a muscular rhythm section and squealing acid-rock bluster. “Hermes Told Me So” is positively ebullient, with its breathy harmonies and sun-dappled melodies helping to usher the West Coast psych-pop tradition, in fine paisley-hued style, into the new millennium. On the flip, “The Plunge” is shot through with the kind of melodic grit that Matthew Sweet used to conjure in his sleep, while its crunching guitars and interweaving keys are redolent of fellow Los Angelinos Redd Kross, which, is certainly never a bad thing. Visit the band's site to grab one of these before they're lost to the ages (or hordes of eBay vermin).

We've saved the wildest for last with UK droogs Cranium Pie and their “Baby You're a Rich Man” b/w “The Madman (Running Through the Fields)” single on Fruits de Mer. Not a lot is known about this lot, but we do know the A-Side is a Hammond-loaded rendition of the Beatles classic that answers the age-old question of what it would have sounded like had Booked T. & the MG's been hired as the house band at Abbey Road. Despite what you might think, it's actually quite lovely and drenched in flower power. The flipside, a cover of Dantalion's Chariot's “The Madman (Running Through the Fields) is another beast entirely, and is, bar none, one of the more wacked-out things we've heard in ages. Shifting time-signatures and gratuitous organ stabs are merely a prelude to a demented, horn-fueled free-for-all that takes in vocodored wailing, backwards masking guitars, interstellar drones and a delirious finish that makes the end of “Revolution 9” sound like the “We're all Friends” song from Reading Rainbow, or a street person strangling Captain Beefheart (or possibly, Captain Kangaroo). Grip one straight from your dope dealer, or Bracken Records.

That's it from us this week, but while we do our best to get all this LSD out of our systems, make sure to get out of your hovels on the 17th and visit your local brick 'n' mortar record shop, you'll be glad you did. Breaker, breaker, over and out.

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