Review : White Fenc - Family Perfume Vol. 1 / Family Perfume Vol. 2
PopmattersListening to the queue of records in my “To Review” pile (MV&EE, Woods, Amps For Christ, and some less notables), I’m starting to gather that lo-fi psychedelic folk is back in vogue. It’s a genre that seems to drift back into the limelight every few years. For whatever reason, it seems to be on a faster popularity cycle than just about any other subgenre, so it’s never surprising to see it crop up. And I can’t say I mind, either. I’m a sucker for that lo-fi psychfolk, the way it blends down-home with way-out, its stoned technicolor intimacy, and it’s weird, honey-sweetened little melodies.
The melodies are the key, really. Without those, it’s just an exercise in poor judgment. (Hey man, let’s get high and play with a tape recorder. Far fuckin’ out.) But those little Beatles-colored ditties, well, their charm will always be deadly.
And so, White Fence on Family Perfume is a deadly force, at least most of the time. Songs like “Balance Yr Heart” and “Do You Know Ida Know” illuminate everything that’s right with this sort of music. The former is an instant classic, all refrains and jolting lo-fi incongruence, soft-spoken and homespun. The latter is as catchy as they come but subdued, ya know? The vocals play between an earnest ‘60s-cum-Elephant-6 lead and a sugary retro chorus of frail aliens.
In fact, the whole run there, tracks one to seven, is pure gold. Bouncing from R&B intimations (“Swagger Vets and Double Moon”, “Long White Curtain”) to hints of punk (“Down PNX”), the songs cohere thanks to their buzzing, analog production. The guitars have that pick-y vintage tube sound with woody hollow-body resonance, while organs warble quietly in the background.
There’s some chaff on this double album too, but oddly enough, I don’t think I’d have it any other way. There’s something about the psychedelic double album that’s not supposed to be concise or efficient. It’s supposed to be defuse, dialated....full text
PitchforkOn Hair, his recent collaborative LP with Ty Segall, California psych-rock lifer Tim Presley benefited from a dose of semi-pro-studio botox. A home-recording primitivist of the Bob Pollard variety, Presley, who works under the name White Fence, shrouds his wiggly stoner gems in a curtain of tape hiss, distortion, and woozy effects. In comparison, Hair-- which was recorded in an honest-to-goodness studio-- might as well be Steely Dan's Aja. Guitar hooks crackle and shimmer, rather than just crackle.
But for those who prefer Presley's paisley-tinted jangling with a hint of static, there's plenty to go around on Family Perfume. Whittled down from an alleged cache of 80 songs, Family Perfume gathers Presley's favorite efforts from a year spent crouched over a 4-track recorder. Sometimes that means gentle hooks. Sometimes it means spinning sideways through backwards tape effects.
At this point, Presley's earned his 50-mission crush cap in trippy music. He's been a member of goth-tinged space-rock outfit Darker My Love, a back-up player in Austin garage-pop group the Strange Boys, and, most randomly, a touring guitarist in the Fall (circa Reformation Post TLC). But White Fence is his most consistent project to date. Working sans bandmates, he's evolved an eerie and elastic take on the melodies of baby boomer teen-hood; sampling Nuggets-era drum breaks and looping them to form the foundation for skewed guitar pop that isn't shy about cribbing some chord progressions from the Kinks, Buffalo Springfield, and Pink Floyd. Like his neo-psych peers-- Woods, Sic Alps, and Segall-- Presley finds melodic inspiration in classic rock, but blurs his reference points toward punk by coating the music in lo-fi grit. His third proper album, Family Perfume, doubles down on those zonked out inclinations....full text
ConsequenceofsoundThe word “ambition,” and its grammatical derivative, “ambitious,” gets bandied about a lot with musicians, but it’s only really fitting for a few people. Jack White? Maybe, but he’s doing his Jack White blues thing. Robert Pollard? Yeah, because he writes 100 songs a day. Tim Presley? Absolutely. Who is Tim Presley? He’s part of the new 60′s psychedelic garage push coming in from the West coast, which includes garage rock god Ty Segall. Presley’s project, White Fence, has released its second album, Family Perfume Vol. 2. It’s the second half of an ambitious 29-song Family Perfume album, and it’s a delicious stew of feel-good, throwback rock.
Family Perfume Vol. 2 is equal parts country folk, White Album-era Beatles, “See Emily Play” Pink Floyd, and the lo-fi aesthetic of someone like Elliott Smith all mixed together in the best way. Opening track “Groundskeeper Rag (Man’s Man)” has doubled and reverbed vocals that drip across the track like rolling lava, while Presley plays a simple arpeggio, then rages away on a guitar full of chorus and slap-echo. The song sputters and stops as it ends before the music shifts to a more upbeat bounce on “She Belief”, where Presley’s voice floats about like John Lennon’s once did. The synthesizer effect at the start of “I’d Sing” is one of the few sounds that make you remember this album was recorded in this decade and not 50 years ago....full text
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