Friday, June 13, 2008

Hitting the Road with the High Dials

G.H. here, blogging from the wilds of Central Kentucky.  For those of you out of the loop, I quit my day job in Washington ahead of graduate school this fall, and have embarked on a two month road trip of weddings, beach vacations, and everything in between.  As G.L. noted, I'm missing a whole host of DC shows, but I hope to catch some here to make up for it.  

And since I've logged over 3500 miles in ten days, I've had ample time to catch up on some much needed listening.  The big winner?  The High Dials' War of the Wakening Phantoms.

It isn't exactly new (2005), but it's been on my radar since I first started getting into like-minded, Northern neo-psych bands like Outrageous Cherry and The Telepathic Butterflies.  All three groups came out on Rainbow Quartz (which has been pretty quiet recently), that Detroit label reknown for the lysergically-inclined releases its name suggests.  But where the Cherry dealt in a Motown-influenced psych that emphasized a steady, driving backbeat, at times the High Dials come across as the Smiths (Trevor Anderson's fey vocals included) wandering through a shoegazer/Elephant 6 fog.  War of the Wakening Phantoms -- odd album title excepted -- is universally strong though, drifting from the Moz-apeing of "The Holy Ground" to the pumped-up power pop of "Sick of the Old Fire" to the sprawling, pretty lullabye "Your Eyes Are a Door" that effectively closes out the album.  

The band's actually on the verge of releasing a new one called Moon Country, and you can stream most (all?) on their myspace page.  I've been streaming and I'm pretty impressed.  "Open Up the Gates" seems to be the obligatory MBV jam, "Clare" is the straightforward love song, and "My Heart Is Pinned to Your Sleeve" owes an axe and an affect to Britpop.  They're from Montreal and thus far only have one US tour date lined up, July 25 at Rehab in NYC.  Hopefully we'll see some kind of tour in support of this latest.  

The High Dials - "The Holy  Ground"

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