Sad news this morning, inevitably overshadowed in the UK by all the Brits bullshit, that Touch & Go Records are to cease putting out new music (not sure where that leaves, say, the forthcoming Crystal Antlers album, for a start). A slight unhappy coincidence, in that this morning I was playing a new record which has distinct ties to the ‘80s post-hardcore from which Touch & Go emerged, allbeit closer ones to the SST sound of that time.
The record is “Organ”, the first solo album by Adam Payne, who’s relatively better known as frontman of Residual Echoes, a super-gungy freak-out band from San Francisco. Residual Echoes are usually categorised as being in the psychedelic slipstream of Comets On Fire, and you could more or less classify “Organ” as being Payne’s equivalent to Howlin Rain, or at least the first Howlin Rain album, minus the Southern boogie – a cleaner, defuzzed sound.
It begins with “The One After Eyes”, and a riff uncannily like that of The Only Ones’ “Another Girl, Another Planet”. Soon enough, though, it locks into something of a default tone: broadly, exuberant power-pop as played by The Meat Puppets. There are distinct echoes of early Dinosaur Jr too in songs like “Never See You Anymore”, thanks to Payne’s pinched vocals and his pugnacious, ambulatory solos – though the guitar sound throughout “Organ” is skinnier, much less laden with effects than that of J Mascis, or of Payne in his work with Residual Echoes.
There’s another slightly weird affinity with Comets On Fire side projects on “In Hell”, which is a lop-sided piano number that recalls Utrillo Kushner’s Colossal Yes. Kushner has a new album, “Charlemagne’s Big Thaw”, incidentally, which is worth checking out, if not quite as good as the Colossal Yes debut. It was produced by Kelley Stoltz, whose own gnarly take on power-pop is probably quite a good analogue to Adam Payne’s record, too.
Stoltz has never, to my knowledge, recorded anything like “Incidental Arrangement”, however, a lengthy guitar instrumental that begins as a fractious, unstructured jam and then gradually acquires shape and momentum. It reminds me a lot of those unravelling epics favoured by mid-period Yo La Tengo like “Blue Line Swinger” and “I Heard you Looking”: free, heady, ecstatic guitar freak-outs. Works for me, needless to say.