Right Hear, Right Now

Right Hear, Right Now: New Music from Strange Lot, Gorky, Gimpheart, and More

Photo by Christina Mata
Mitchell Hillman listens to more music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new music in his column Right Hear, Right Now.

Strange Lot — "Born"
It will be coming up on two years this May since Strange Lot released their stunningly psychedelic debut album, Another Mind. On March 3, the band will release the follow-up album, Gods & Clods, and the first single from the album made its debut this week. A lot of bands can tackle psychedelic garage rock, but Strange Lot are able to do it and apply their signature sound to ensure no one can mistake them for anyone else. "Born" is no different in that regard, filled with lush layers of guitars that are as hypnotic as they are angular and indie-edged, a driving rhythm section, and reverb-washed vocals. With everything going on in their dense, free-flowing universe, it's hard to believe they are only a trio. It's unmistakably Strange Lot, and the trippy-as-hell video does nothing to squash the psychedelic tag on their sound. It's not often you get to watch evolution happening in claymation, and even less often that you see primitive man trip balls on Fly Agaric mushrooms in that same medium. It's an entire experience unto itself. Gods & Clods is suddenly one my most anticipated releases of the year. "Born" will keep me on edge until I have it in my hands.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC DRURY
Photo by Eric Drury
Gorky  "Megaladon"
Gorky just released a 21-track compilation of songs recorded from 2007 to 2016 called The Gork ... And How To Get It! celebrating Gorky's 15 years (!) as a band. I've only known of them for a year or two, so this is a great primer for an underrated band if you don't want to cull through all the tasty releases on Bandcamp (which you will totally want to do). "Megaladon" has been given the remaster treatment as well as a video for this somewhat massive release. If you think that's impressive, wait for all the new stuff they'll be putting out this year. It's one of their best rockers and is absolutely incendiary live, which is apparent from the video showing them playing it at various times in space over the last few years. It's not often that you can find a rock anthem celebrating an extinct species of massive shark, but Gorky likes to get weird on things, and that's part of their strength. The song takes a Helmet-like riff, processes it through some punk, and comes out like a four-minute odyssey of deranged hard rock. Which is all to say, this song deserved a revival, and you can store this in your angst file of dangerous sounds.

Photo Courtesy of Gimpheart
Gimpheart  "Seeing You at the Bottom of the Ocean"
I was blown away by Gimpheart's debut collection last summer and heard a lot of promise and potential in it. It's still one of my favorite weird listens to pull out from time to time. That said, nothing could have prepared me for "Seeing You at the Bottom of the Ocean" in any way. It's like Gimpheart skipped steps two and three and just immediately went for greatness. While it's not outright dance music, it suggests that it is and has an undeniable groove to it. It's as much psychedelic pop as it is dance, though, and no matter how many times I listen to it, I'm completely stunned by hearing the potential I heard last summer come to fruition in my headphones. This has total remix potential to make it an actual dance number; maybe add some Madchester or Big Beat flourishes, and this thing is ready to blow minds. This may well be my favorite local song of the month. Keep your ears peeled for The Gimpheart Tapes, Vol. 2 coming soon.

Twin Ponies  "Name Tag"
There is something hauntingly beautiful about the new Twin Ponies track. Right at the end of 2016, Twin Ponies and Dent put out a split EP that had been in the works for most of the year. I had nearly forgotten it was even coming until I re-read a review on one of the Dent songs while compiling end-of-year lists. It did finally see release, and it's the first new material from Twin Ponies since Friendly Pet Mass Graves from 2015. While Twin Ponies finally recorded "Balloon Animals," which has been a live favorite of mine for a bit, the real revelation is found on "Name Tag." Clocking in at nearly five minutes, it begins by lulling you into something of a hypnotic state for the first couple of minutes before taking flight. It's one of their most fascinating compositions to date, and this is a band who only makes songs in fascinating ways. It never really leaves the realm of dreamy haze save the last minute or so, which is an explosive tumult of guitars and crazy rhythms. On this one, Twin Ponies are music geeks making music for music geeks to love.

Photo by Sista Sinastra
20 Ft Neon Jesus  "Drank In My Chalice"
I suppose I tend to shy away from novelty acts or less than serious music, but I've had this song "Drank In My Chalice" in my head now for a couple weeks, and chances are that means that despite its amusing-as-hell lyrics and imagery in the video, it's a pretty engaging song when it comes down to it. On the other hand, it's another TV Life Entertainment production, so I should have expected that it was going to approach sound from a different angle and somehow manage to be catchy as all get-out. There are actually so many funny things about this song and accompanying video I wouldn't even know where to begin. The cross-pollination of hip-hop tropes mixed with those of organized religion could well provide 20 Ft Neon Jesus with enough material for a substantial career. Also, behind the humor and tropes, check out the clever lyrics, which become more amusing with every listen. It does beg the question why there aren't more hip-hop artists getting crunk for Christ, though.