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Mexican Summer Vinyl, CD & tapes from this label at Norman Records

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Jess Williamson
Cosmic Wink

Just to show that Youtube playlists work, the opener here is rather familiar and I'm wondering where I've heard this. Of course! It was up on the playlist every time I played oh i dunno something I'd got obsessed about a couple of weeks ago. And that was a lot. By the time of the 8th go round I just let it run and now it's got me in the mood to ...view item »

Dungen & Woods
Myths 003

Who’s idea was this? I don’t know whether I’d like to shake or wring their hand. Carelessly meshing together all and any definitions of psych rock, the Mexican Summer Myths’ festival series collates Swedish jammers Dungen and folksy coo crew Woods into one album of live ventures. A wahing and sun-soaked ascent to the cosm...view item »

Arp
Zebra

Alexis Georgopoulos presents his fourth album as Arp, a name I can only assume must refer to a beloved synthesiser. The feel of Zebra is very much of that 80’s period where old and new influences from around the world were being mixed and melded into shiny new fourth world shapes. It’s also ...view item »

The Bitters
East General

You may be familiar with these Toronto guys from their output on Release The Bats and Captured Tracks. Also it's no big secret that Ben Cook (vocals, guitars, bass) also plays in Fucked Up. He's joined by Aerin Fogel on vocals, drums and sax. They can certainly bash it out. Combining a primal and raw trashy garage sound with a pop/ post-punk aes...view item »

Ariel Pink & Weyes Blood
Myths 002

Moving fairly violently between tasteful folksy acoustic songwriting and explosions of operatic intensity, this collaboration is, if nothing else, unpredictable. Rich layers of instrumentation and clashing performance styles add to the exciting uncertainty, and over the four tracks you can be sure that weird and charmed places will be reached....view item »

Dev Hynes & Connan Mockasin
Myths 001

The world is a strange old place isn't it. Never would I have had Devonté Hynes down as a songwriting contender in it for the long haul. Test Icicles were outrageously bad (especially considering the talent present in the band) and he used to do my head in wandering about with those tiny little guit...view item »

Washed Out
Life Of Leisure

Here is what we said about the vinyl: Now in on super limited CD!! My ears really pricked up yesterday, as did our Business Lady's. The record responsible is from Washed Out who I've never heard of but Phil informs me that Pitchfork are creaming themselves over them. Okay so this isn't strictly a single but a 6 track mini-alb...view item »

Kurt Vile
God Is Saying This To You

If you know Kurt Vile than you know what to expect. Beautiful, dark, haunting songs primarily made up of acoustic guitar and vocals. If you don't already know, Kurt can play. He has a brilliant fingerpicking style and a hauntingly honest tongue. The highest point on this album for me is "My Sympathy". This is a really good record that has altern...view item »

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
On The Echoing Green

The extravagantly-named Jefre Cantu-Ledsma (nee Ledesma.. confused? You will be) is back! It’s been literally months since his last record, and here the San Francisco journeyman-musician adds to his already burgeoning, constantly expanding panoply of sound-styles (cosmic guitar experimentation, ambient, musique concrète, you name it...view item »

Gregg Kowalsky
L'Orange L'Orange

Well, this is nice. Oh, You’re probably expecting a little more than that… I’m sorry but I’m suddenly overcome by the waves of sheer ambient bliss washing over me after yet another in a long line of industrious yet instructive days here at the Towers. Not wanting to adjectivally short-change you, this record from Gregg K...view item »

Ariel Pink
Another Weekend / Ode To The Goat (Thank You)

How can a man be so annoying yet so occasionally essential? Who else could get away with it? Phil for example can be incredibly annoying but lacks the mercurial talents of Mr Pink. If only his voice had one iota of the melodicism shown here. 'Another Weekend' is Ariel Pink's career in a microcosm. A beautiful opening swathe of balladry t...view item »

Ariel Pink
Dedicated To Bobby Jameson

There is something that I’ve decided to include in my reviews called ‘the marmite record of the month’. So far, it is proving to be a difficult task because in the past week alone we’ve had numerous records that half of us love and the other half absolutely hate. Take the National's new record as an example. Thre...view item »

Xander Duell
Experimental Tape No2. Vol 1

A peculiar and very limited LP of experimental pop on Mexican Summer. Judging by the cover and title alone I was expecting a bunch of solo bedroom meditations, but this is very much an experimental modern take on 70s soul. The influences do range further than that, and this guy clearly knows his stuff, but at its heart this record seems to b...view item »

Greg Ashley
One Thin Heroine/ Misery Again

This is a 7" of downbeat country/Americana from singer/songwriter Greg Ashley (The Gris Gris, The Mirrors, Strate Coats). The first track's a call-and-response type number with Ashley and a lass by the name of Kimberly Morrison alternating lines, accompanied by fingerpicked guitar. It seems to get slower as it goes along, and it certainly ma...view item »

Jorge Elbrecht
Coral Cross - 001

One of the things I enjoy about the current state of music is the kind of genre cross-pollination and blurring of aesthetic boundaries that digital media saturation seems to foster. This 7” by Jorge Elbrecht’s ‘Choral Thrash’ project Coral Cross is a good example. It consists of two tracks of melodic, Black Metal tinged l...view item »

Tonstartssbandht
Sorcerer

It’s kinda like these guys planned to make psych rock, forgot to do it, started making slowcore, got kinda tired of it and made jazz instead. I’m sorry: have I lost my threads? Tonstartssbandht are just a very interesting band of endless prepositions: unfortunately for them, their reward is mostly just a Can...view item »

Shadow Band
Wilderness of Love

The emo psychedelics of Shadow Band lean heavily on the atmosphere you can craft out of disparity. On “Green Riverside”, frontman Mike Bruno places smoky guitar strums against the kind of swirling chords you’d find on a dungeon synth record, striking a balance between songwriter solace and medieval soundscape. ‘Wilderness...view item »

Marissa Nadler
Ballads of Living and Dying

Reissue of Marissa Nadler’s debut album from 2004. Now on the massive Sacred Bones imprint it’s good to look back at what brought Nadler to the point she is now. Darkened ballads of acoustic folk gently lull you in with carefully plucked guitars and ominous soundscapes filling in the gaps. Imagine ...view item »

La Hell Gang
Thru Me Again

With a name like LA Hell Gang you might expect this to be ferocious riff-laden testosterock but actually 'Thru Me Again' is a slow drifting biker psych excursion full of slow, hazy grooves to soundtrack your smoky summer. Mr post-it's been at it again, saying "Rocket from the Tombs played too slowly"...view item »

Weyes Blood
Front Row Seat To Earth

With Robin off who-knows-where this week it's my job to pick up all the Pitchfork-approved acts that I usually leave well alone. Weyes Blood's Natalie Wiseblood (Wiseblood/Weyes Blood  - geddit?) has had spells in Jackie O Motherfecker and Ariel Pink's Haunted Graf...view item »

Allah-Las
Calico Review

It must be a tough life being an Allah La. You wake up at about 2pm in the middle of an LA heatwave, check if your palm tree has made it through the night ok, grab a breakfast burrito before the days big decision of choosing which sunglasses to wear takes place. From there it’s into the studio to make the most laid back music it...view item »

Pill
Convenience

Pill’s punk is the kind where everything swirls -- like you’re caught doing laps of a roundabout at maximum speed, trying to make out the buildings from the very general blur. You eventually throw up but it’s a good story. This album. It’s chaotic. It is a naysayer. It screeches. It traverses long swampy noise jam...view item »

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
A Year With 13 Moons

Jefre Cantu–Ledesma may be best known through his collaborations with Liz Harris (aka Grouper) as Raum or as the head of the influential Root Strata label, but he’s been releasing music as a solo artist for years. This album, put together from mammoth recording sessions during ...view item »

Ford And Lopatin
Emergency Room

This is a pretty little thing. The new Ford and Lopatin single is a picture disc 12" that comes in four different variations. They're all pretty similar, though, so I'm not sure I'd recommend shelling out the full fifty-six smackers for the set...the only variation between them is a different X-ray picture on the B-sides. Musically, we've got th...view item »

True Widow
As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth

Heavy tings here on the second album by True Widow, first released in 2011. As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth has the emotional weight of slowcore as well as the distorted-riff weight of stoner rock. Mighty stuff. Reissued on vinyl by Mexican Summer....view item »

True Widow
I.N.O.

Heavy tings here on True Widow’s I.N.O. EP, first released in 2011. The band have the emotional weight of slowcore as well as the distorted-riff weight of stoner rock, although this release also sees them pushing into some weirder territory, with 2 10-minute-plus tracks that drone and dirge. Reissued on vinyl by M...view item »

Torn Hawk
Union and Return

Ah, Torn Hawk, you and I have had some tumbles in the past. The Cowboys 12”, mmm, the good times, and the ok times that were his last record which I think I said I liked more than I did, but I can’t even remember what it sounds like. You can never judge something from just 1 listen. The curse of the Review Station. But he&rsq...view item »

Quilt
Plaza

Quilt have released three records in my lifetime and it appears that I've reviewed them all without really noticing who they are. Bits and pieces of this album have been floating into my ears for the last few weeks yet every time I play it I kinda don't recognise it. Maybe this sums up my relationship with Quilt - I like it when it's playing but...view item »

Quilt
Quilt

Here's another release on the ever prolific Mexican Summer label. A record which immediately is a reviewers dream as it's very quickly comparable to two bands we know and love at the towers, namely Warpaint and Vivian Girls. The music has the laid back West Coast vibe that pervades the fo...view item »

Soldiers of Fortune
Early Risers

Soldiers Of Fortune are not so much of a supergroup, more a super collective. They started as an anti-band doing the absolute opposite of what you’d expect a band to do - nothing. It was the brainchild of sometime Interpol bassist Brad Truax. Mike Bones joined in and got t...view item »

Tamaryn
Cranekiss

Tamaryn marries the always-welcome sound of shoegaze with celestial pop songs, the waveringly massive (and often groovy) backgrounds of guitar and synth supporting some bold pop vocals. Cranekiss, Tamaryn's third album, has to be their finest effort so far. On Mexican Summer, with a bonus boo...view item »

Farmer Dave Scher
Bab'lone Nights

Farmer Dave Scher apparently used to be in Beachwood Sparks and All Night Radio who I can't remember ever hearing. All Night Radio I've not even heard of so you'll have to excuse my ignorance here.. On the evidence of this 'Bab'lone Nights' 7" he's into 70's-inspired indie with a mighty dose of piano-heavy country boogaloo and little droplets ...view item »

No Joy
More Faithful

No Joy’s third full-length More Faithful continues where the previous two left off: hazy, melodic shoegaze that fluctuates between calmness and chaos. While their last LP Wait To Pleasure was more languid than fast-paced, More Faithful is less measured and more heavy, while electronic elements they pre...view item »

Ashrae Fax
Static Crash

This is the first of several reissues on Mexican Summer of the work of Ashrae Fax. No, me neither, but it turns out they were a pumping synthpop band from the early 2000s when synths were pretty out of vogue and have since been celebrated retrospectively. It&rsqu...view item »

Travis Bretzer
Waxing Romantic

The press release can try its best but it’s battling in vain against the blatantly obvious. It can name Prefab Sprout, Aztec Camera or whoever you like but there’s so getting away from it - the opening and closing tracks on this album from this pastoral Americ...view item »

Torn Hawk
Let's Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time

Torn Hawk conjures up some pretty dramatic imagery doesn’t it? Even the idea of tearing up a majestic bird seems like a pathetically aggressive Monty Python sketch, and judging by the album cover, I bet this guy is gonna actually do it. The US based Luke Wyatt’s inventive names don’t stop there though, the most standout feature...view item »

Weyes Blood
The Innocents

Natalie Wiseblood is one of the Jackie O Motherfucker lot but she also releases solo material as Weyes Blood (and variations thereof - just on the promo CD in my hand there are two different spellings). 'The Innocents' is the first we've heard from her since 2011's 'The Outside Room' but the aesthetic ...view item »

Ashrae Fax
Never Really Been Into It

This latest album from Greensboro goths Ashrae Fax is a comeback of sorts really. Their 2003 debut 'Static Crash' was reissued on the Mexican Summer label last year to massive success, so here they are back with their first new material in over 10 years. This duo, cons...view item »

Happy Jawbone Family Band
Happy Jawbone Family Band

Eighth album from Vermont mentalists The Happy Jawbone Band. The band have generally released home-recorded stuff up to now, and there was a lot of it. Previous album 'Taste the Broom' was a sort of compilation, whittled down to nine songs out of the hundreds these guys have recorded. Here though, they've been into a proper recording studio and ...view item »

The Fresh & Onlys
House Of Spirits

Do they ever stop for a minute? There has been a case in the past for the Fresh and Only’s taking a fallow year out, writing some truly decent songs and waiting for the right time to strike. Here, they continue the pursuit of 80’s flavoured raincoat rock that they started edging towards on the ‘Soothsayer’ EP. Nod...view item »

Lace Curtain
The 3rd EP

This is apparently the third EP by post-Total Control coldpoppers Lace Curtain, but only the second that I've heard. There are four songs on here and they're all patiently-paced and understated chunks of synthpop somewhere between Hot Chip, New Order...view item »

Quilt
Held In Splendor

First catching my ear with their Warpaint/Vivian Girls style debut, Quilt have certainly soaked up some West Coast psychedelic influences in the meantime. This is a varied album which veers all over the place showcasing a band obviously in love with music from the 1960’s hey...view item »

No Joy
Pastel And Pass Out

No Joy continue their journey into cleaner focus with a 12” EP follow up to their second full-length, Wait to Pleasure. Thankfully there is still plenty of dreamgazing to be had in songs like opener Last Boss, which brings the noisy guitars crashing in after a patient build-up. Pas...view item »

Lace Curtain
Falling / Running EP

This record has a sticker on it declaring it the “New project from Mikey Young, David West and James Vinciguerra from Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Rat Columns, Rank/Xerox et al&rd...view item »

Part Time
PDA

I was rather taken by Part Time’s previous album ‘What Would You Say’, which presented a kind of modern bedroom take on classic uplifting ‘80s soft pop and yet somehow avoided the cloying and cheesy pitfalls thanks to a great ear for a hook and some well chosen chord changes. Now he...view item »

Mood Rings
VPI Harmony

You know you can sometimes click play on a compact disc player and you know that something is going to be good. Occasionally I’m wrong, very, very wrong but this debut album from this Atlanta 5 piece immediately has a sound that is satisfying on the ear, that is, if you enjoy delayed, reverbed guitars, cymbal washes and vo...view item »

No Joy
Wait To Pleasure

2nd release from band out of Montreal, Canada who play driving, celestial indie pop that's buried deeply beneath vibrating waves of feedback noise. Gorgeous harmony vocals float, subtly, tantalizingly under the swirling pain-barrage of amplified guitar-screech. It's a potent dream-pop/shoegaze noise fest! Similarities to My Bloody Valentine, Coc...view item »

Lilacs & Champagne
Danish & Blue

I try to find things that can hold my interest and allow me to just enjoy sitting down. I would say this is like a cross between Down Tempo Chill/Trip Hop with some flare of 1980s King Crimson. The guitar work on this is really good, it reminds me of Adrian Belew and Frank Zappa as well as some 1980s Tangerine Dream. There is some great sampling...view item »

Lansing-Dreiden
The Incomplete Triangle

I love this group, and I say "group" loosely because they're not really a band. It's a striking album that's both metal and shoegaze-ish and Latin Miami Freestyle. If all these styles have came across your path in the past years and you've dug it, check this out. The Incomplete Triangle is not entirely original, but that's obviously on purpose. ...view item »

Lansing-Dreiden
A Sectioned Beam

In theory, it's a good idea -- mixing bits of metal, dreampop, space-rock and one driving guitar. But Lansing-Dreiden never lives up to its promise in "Sectioned Beam." It feels like a good experimental album that hasn't decided if it wants to be the Beach Boys or a quirky ambient-pop group. This offbeat musical collective sounds like a...view item »

Vietnam
an A.merican D.ream

I put this CD on the stereo gingerly, keeping my fingers crossed that Vietnam were not attempting the literal with their album title and dropping an Americanised version of D:Ream’s signature ‘90s pop sound. It’s quickly clear from the droney opening and enormous personne...view item »

Spectral Park
Spectral Park

Spectral Park is the alias of Southampton’s Luke Donovan, who here dishes out a debut LP of energetic sampledelic psych-pop which, says the press release, was “literally sourced from a box of records the Southampton multi-instrumentalist found on a walk by a council block’s curbside garbage”. That old art-from-trash chest...view item »

Tamaryn
Tender New Signs

I feel an almost instant affinity with this band because a tamarin monkey (okay, it’s spelt slightly differently but it’s near enough) once pissed on my ex-wife in Cologne. It was proper funny. It still brings a smile to my face now. Amazing hairy tiny pissy things they are....view item »

The Soft Pack (The Muslims)
Strapped

The Soft Pack were called The Muslims before they had to change their name for one reason or another. Whatever moniker they have traded under, they have always been a force to be reckoned with and the opening track here ‘Saratoga&rsqu...view item »

Light Asylum
Light Asylum

Light Asylum is a solid debut from the duo which encompasses the might of their sound without overstating its concept. While its lyrical content is often more associated with the biblical imagery that peppers goofier strains of heavy metal, its passion lain out over hard synths and pulsing beats makes for a new kind of dance music, where the foc...view item »

Mike Wexler
Dispossession

On first listen, this is very lovely stuff - we'll see, over time, whether its pleasures are passing or permanent. For now, though, Wexler's sounds to me are not too unlike, say, Nick Drake taking the vocal spotlight on a John Martyn album circa 1973. But more than either of thos...view item »

Brain Idea
Cosmos Factory

These guys get compared to a lot of the old NZ bands even though they're from Chicago so should sound like Big Black or erm...Chicago. Were Chicago from Chicago? I'll wager that they were but if I'm wrong I'll accept my punishment. Half a squashed freeze-dried badger in the post to the usual address please. So yeah, they've got one of those ...view item »

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