Sonic Reducer: Miley Cyrus • Big Swing Theory • Herbcraft

Geoffrey Plant
3 min read
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While sounding a bit half baked (pun intended), this collaboration with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips is the most interesting thing Miley Cyrus has done, musically or otherwise. Recorded on the cheap and self-released, Dead Petz is refreshingly real-sounding, somewhat off-the-the-cuff and weird in a relaxing way. The work is inspired by a series of pet deaths—the ghost of Floyd, Cyrus’ dog, apparently inhabits Wayne Coyne now—and her close relationship with the haunted Flaming Lips frontman. This album consists mostly of electronic music in the vein of Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach and a lyrical focus on sex and relationships. And weed. And pills. Listeners will find themselves looking forward to each successive song, wondering what’s going to spill out of Cyrus’ head next. Worth a listen for anyone remotely interested in the phenomenon of American culture, Dead Petz will either please Lips fans or simply mentioning it will make them groan.

Big Swing Theory Big Swing Theory (Self-released)

Led by outstanding guitarist Jackson Price and upright bass player Conrad Cooper, this Taos-based four piece manages a big sound with only a few instruments. Price and Cooper got together in 2009 and later added Jeremy Jones on Sax and Max Moulton on drums. Big Swing Theory performs driving swing music in the style of Louis Prima, jump music complete with irreverent and hilarious lyrics. For inspiration their sound owes a debt to the electric blues music of Elmore James and Lightnin’ Hopkins . Cruising through all these related styles with mucho panache and without sounding like a parody, Big Swing Theory boasts a track list of all original compositions—no small achievement—with the exception of “I Wan’na Be Like You.” A great debut from four guys who not only have major chops but know how to wear suits every day like it ain’t no thing. Impressive.

Herbcraft Wot Oz (Woodsist)

Not wanting to let another week go by without reviewing an album accompanied by a press release with the phrase “will appeal to fans of classic Krautrock”, I present you with Herbcraft’s fourth release, Wot Oz. The trio do indeed lay out the repetitive bass and drums of Can and the abrupt noises of Faust, but there is something distinctly American about Herbcraft’s psychedelia, the genre to which Wot Oz indisputably belongs. This is heavy duty, distorted wah-wah guitar interspersed with Grateful Dead noodling and USA-sized amounts of looped excess surrounding every note. The mono recording consists of some informal jams recorded on two track and is as good or better than previous Herbcraft releases—it’s also testimony to the trio’s talent for the soothingly weird. There are long noise breaks on this album that are more enjoyable than other band’s entire albums. Definitely “drug music”.

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