Fresh from this year's long-playing smash In Love With Oblivion, Brad Hargett's gloomy crew are in a festive mood heading towards the new year, offering up the Radiant Door EP as a tasty morsel to devour during the holiday season.
Rounded out by two covers, these five total tracks temper Oblivion's graveyard boogie and blend it into a positive, playful outing. And there are tantalising hints as to a future sound too. Sure, their outdoorsy 60s psyche-pop, decades from the shiny contemporary take on the genre, remains intact, just as does the band's reverb fetish, but the mesmeric Lee Hazlewood cover "Still As The Night" is so striking thanks to its spaghetti western / garage mesh as to set tongues wagging for the next LP. Bleak, late-50s rock `n' roll cuts like this are crying out for dusting down and re-imagining and these boys may just be the ones to do it.
The second cover, "Low Profile", is less radical, despite its hazy keyb-organ and Hargett's doomed vocal that steer it away from the Blue Orchids post-punk original. More familiar, the dirge-like organ of "Front Inside The Asylums" is lightened by a trademark jangle that breaks like daylight over the Brooklyn prairie.
Justifying the spend, the title track and "Dark Eyes" power their way with strong melodies and catchy Velvets guitar lines. The latter's Stones-ian stomp is just a bonus, so too is one of Hargett's cleanest vocal turns to date.
Along with prolific retro psyche-punk practitioners Black Lips, Crystal Stilts are fast becoming one of the most reliable and best American acts about. Merry Christmas guys - you deserve it on your current run.
Advised downloads: "Dark Eyes" and "Still As The Night".