Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What are you listening to this week?

Photo: Andrew Benge/Redferns/Getty Images
Photo: Andrew Benge/Redferns/Getty Images

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, “The Castle In The Air”

A couple weeks ago, the prolific psych-rock weirdoes King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released Polygondwanaland, the fourth of five LPs they planned for 2017. The music itself has been a bit overshadowed by the odd way the album is being distributed—MP3 and WAV versions are free to download, but people are also being encouraged to download a free set of vinyl-quality masters that anyone can press and sell—but there are some interesting twists in the band’s frenzied mishmash of shaggy garage rock and proggy bombast, like the hint of synthwave running throughout the album’s 10 interconnected tracks, including the standout “The Castle In The Air.” The chugging rhythms the band does so well are here, but they’re gently rendered by plucky acoustic guitar and spare percussion. The arpeggiating keys fit right in with those quiet grooves, creating a hypnotic track that carries the signature Gizzard flavor while managing to sound like something new from this ever-shifting group. [Matt Gerardi]

Television Personalities, “Three Wishes”

One of this year’s most welcome reissues saw a repress of the first three albums by Television Personalities, the British post-punk group that remains sadly uncelebrated—on these shores, at least. Arriving in 1978 amid the initial flurry of fast-and-loud punk bands, TVP cut an unusual figure: Its music was similarly shambolic but far more whimsical, urbane and campy rather than angry, and leader Dan Treacy was unabashedly in love with the psychedelic, pop art ’60s right as everyone else was trying to rip it up. Its debut EP, Where’s Bill Grundy Now?, further drew that line in the sand with the sarcastic single “Part Time Punks.” Arguably, nothing could have been more “punk” than to put out this kind of brittle, romantic music right in the middle of all that—but genre labels don’t really matter, especially 30 years on. The band proved influential on scores of psychedelia-inclined punks to follow (Alan McGee even credits it with inspiring him to form Creation Records), and those albums are brimming with wit and wobbly heart still waiting to be discovered. Lately I’ve been especially drawn to TVP’s third album, 1982’s sardonically titled They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles, which forms the midpoint between Treacy’s earlier, more sentimental stuff and the gutting emotional scrapes of 1984’s The Painted Word (an album I can really only listen to while in the grips of deep depression). It’s not the best encapsulation of their work—beginners should start with 1982’s Mummy Your Not Watching Me—but its balance of sprightly yet bruised optimism and encroaching despair is fascinating, and it’s something that deserves to be championed by far more people. [Sean O’Neal]


Martha, “The Winter Fuel Allowance Ineligibility Blues”

There are few bands better at packaging the trials and tribulations of everyday people into sugary sweet pop-punk confections than Martha. The English quartet’s 2016 LP, Blisters In The Pit of My Heart, tied for the 20th spot on our own best of list last year. The band’s latest 7-inch, “The Winter Fuel Allowance Ineligibility Blues,” picks up right where that album left off, marrying the jangly power pop guitars with lyrics concerned with income inequality and the constraints of austerity. But this being a Martha song, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, as the band itself writes, “‘The Winter Fuel Allowance Ineligibility Blues,’ is a reminder that in spite of it all, we have love on our side.” Well, love and catchy-as-all-get-out pop tunes. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]

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