White Hills, “White Hills” and Carlton Melton’s “Pass It On…”

A load of pretty heavy psych’s been accumulating over the last few weeks: new albums from Major Stars (what an amazing guitarist Wayne Rogers is); from both Wooden Shjips and Ripley’s other project, Moon Duo; a cool new (to me, at least) band on No Quarter called Coconuts.

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A load of pretty heavy psych’s been accumulating over the last few weeks: new albums from Major Stars (what an amazing guitarist Wayne Rogers is); from both Wooden Shjips and Ripley’s other project, Moon Duo; a cool new (to me, at least) band on No Quarter called Coconuts.



First off, though, I really should write about “Pass It On…” by Carlton Melton. I alluded to this Northern Californian band back in December, when I was tipped off about their MySpace. As far as I can tell, this is the Mendocino band’s second album, following their “Live At Point Arena” album – recorded in a geodesic dome, mythically, in a remote coastal town where I stayed with friends a good decade ago.

“Pass It On…” currently comes from Mid-To-Late Records, with the vinyl in a shade of brown that purportedly matches the local redwoods, but looks more like shit to me. No matter: this is intense, sweet, headnodding psych, opening with a fabulous cover of Pink Floyd’s “When You’re In” that reminds me a little of Mudhoney’s Spacemen 3 appropriations. It’s fairly monolithic, but with a dronier, headier intensity than the Sabbath-indebted lurchers that usually get called stoner rock.

After that, Carlton Melton drift off, appealingly: “Found Children” roughly resembles one of the more ambient tracks from “Neu! 75” recalibrated by a rock band who maybe learned their dirge chops from the Stooges’ “We Will Fall”. “Digging In (Fucking Funky Shite)”, meanwhile, is another great example of the band’s key strength, sustaining a meditative, groggy state just on the cusp of freak-out. Some of you might like it…

Especially those of you who already are keen on the New York band, White Hills, further masters of the sort of enjoyably turgid, alternately trudging, surging and cycling psych that habitually gets compared with Hawkwind. Cope’s been all over this lot for a while now, and their latest self-titled album on Thrill Jockey kicks off with a tremendous spacerocker called “Dead”, which stands comparison with Loop (quite a big influence on a bunch of American bands these days, it seems, Wooden Shjips being very much on that trip).

For all the cosmic vibes, there’s a grungy, punkish feel to White Hills, which gives dead-eyed seethers like “Three Quarters” an edginess far removed from hippy reverie. See what you think – www.myspace.com/whitehills – and I’ll get round to Major Stars and the Shjips/Moon Duo stuff sometime next week.

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