To say that Cardinal Fuzz are on a roll would be an understatement. The label has a series of vinyl releases under its belt which have, to my ears, all been winners; and my previous recommendations of albums by The Dead Sea Apes and Vision Fortune might lead you to believe that I have some sort of cozy relationship with them (I haven’t). The simple truth is that they seem to have a knack of picking up bands just at the right time, and given that their next release with be Cult of Dom Keller’s first full album, I can only see this trend continuing.
So to their latest release which seems to be another winner to me. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Sound on Sound, that unique and excellent album by Bill Nelson’s Red Noise. I wrote about it because listening to Hello Griefbirds! very much reminded me of that album that had so much influence on me when a teenager. Now that I have heard The Shine Brothers’ album (and especially tracks like Climb the Ladder and Drug Dogs) it not only continues to remind me of Nelson’s amazing record, but has helped me understand it more. It has helped me understand where Nelson was coming from in produced such an ‘out there’ set of songs; especially in locating it between the punk of 1976-8 (Sound on Sound came out in 1978) with the ‘punk’ of the mid-60s garage bands.
There is no doubt in my mind that Hello Griefbirds! is strongly influenced by the Nuggets bands of the 60s and the proto-punk of the early 70s, and with it The Shine Brothers have produced an album that feels raw and vital. It is a record which seems to gradually build in intensity, becoming deeper as you explore the dark recesses of this record, and perhaps as you begin to peel back the layers you get to see Stooges and Velvet Underground influences too. The final track, When Wendy Burns, in particular, is a eight minute jam which is disturbing both lyrically and musically – especially when the band channel Patti Smith’s Gloria at one point. When you then cast your mind back to the lighter poppier feel of the early tracks, such as Creation with it’s Revolver era Beatles sunshine pop and Every Brothers influence, to see the journey you have been taken on.
The Shine Brothers are made up of seasoned musicians, including Nate Ryan (ex The Black Angels), Colin Ryan (ex Woven Bones), Oakley Munson (ex The Rondelles), and Ryan Rapsys (ex Too Many Bands To Name). I say includes as they regard themselves as an ensemble rather than a band per se. However they regard themselves they have produced an ‘old fashioned’ album that takes you on a musical journey through dark, and often dirty, recesses of 60s pop and psychedelia, finally hitching up at the moment when change was very much on the agenda.
In a sense this album arrives the same way as Sound on Sound. It seems to have come from nowhere and sounds like little else being released at the moment, yet it does seem to be of the moment, in its own way fitting into a wider milieu of fuzzy psychedelia. Great stuff!
Labels such as Cardinal Fuzz are, in my view, the bedrock of much that is currently good about music. They provide oxygen for bands who perhaps could not fund non-digital releases, and enable music fans who like physical releases to own great music by bands and individuals who get to keep their integrity, and do not have to make artistic compromises in order to get stuff out there.
You can find more Psych Insights by Simon Delic here.