10 Essential Trouble in Mind Albums

Avatar photo
best trouble in mind albums

Trouble in Mind Records, like many great labels, had humble beginnings, initially releasing just a series of 7-inch singles. But in hindsight, many of those first releases included some heavy hitters, including The Fresh & Onlys, Ty Segall and Eddy Current Suppression Ring. The Chicago-based label, launched by Bill and Lisa Roe of CoCoComa, has since released a consistently strong, frequently surprising set of records that include garage rock, psychedelia, electronic, post-punk, indie pop and everything in between, building up a catalog that ranks as one consistently worth watching.

With more than 14 years of music to dig through, here are our picks for 10 of the best albums released on Trouble in Mind.

Note: When you buy something through our affiliate links, Treble receives a commission. All albums we cover are chosen by our editors and contributors.

Mikal Cronin s/t

Mikal Cronin – Mikal Cronin

Mikal Cronin released a collaborative album with the prolific Ty Segall before making his proper debut, but while his self-titled 2011 album carries more than a little of his frequent bandmate’s fuzzed-out punk rock drive, Cronin’s always been more of a pop songwriter at heart. Though his debut is by far his scuzziest, and at times his most far out (check the dense and dirty head trip “Green and Blue”), beneath the haze is a set of instant-satisfaction power pop fit for both beach days and moments of catharsis. But mostly it’s as much fun as you can have with three chords. – Jeff Terich

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Rough Trade (vinyl)

best trouble in mind albums dummy

Dummy – Mandatory Enjoyment

Los Angeles’ Dummy came right out of the gates with one of 2021’s strongest debut albums, Mandatory Enjoyment. A fuzzily hypnotic set of psychedelic pop, it has the weird, yet warmly familiar feeling of being the kind of revelatory group you’d discover on a mixtape made from a good friend. They’re a band who prefer a little avant garde in their approach to pop, balancing guitar jangle with heavy use of drone, mixing new age with exotica, krautrock with shoegaze. Which is to say: It’s still very much pop music, but delivered through more fascinating and disorienting filters, a heavily distorted and deeply satisfying dose of life-affirming sound. – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Rough Trade

FACS Negative Houses

FACS – Negative Houses

Since forming six years ago after the end of Chicago post-punk outfit Disappears, FACS have maintained a pretty steady schedule of releasing a new album nearly each year, on up through their latest, Still Life in Decay. All of which are amazing, though their statement of purpose on their 2018 debut Negative Houses remains a stellar entry point, offering a cross section of the group’s eerie melodic sensibility and icy tension. The band’s ability to manipulate and make use of space is one of their greatest strengths, the progression of the album something like walking through an abandoned factory with a sense of dread in the pit of your stomach and vapor billowing from your lips. Uneasy as the vibe is, however, Negative Houses is frequently thrilling, whether through the climactic din of “Others” or the unexpected eruption of saxophone in “Houses Breathing.” – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

Gardener I am here for a moment

Gardener – I Am Here for a Moment

The solo project of Richmond’s Dash Lewis, Gardener had already built up a fairly sizable catalog of cassette and digital releases before releasing I Am Here for a Moment. And though there’s a similarly psychedelic aspect here to many of the bands on the TIM roster, I Am Here for a Moment is one of the prettiest releases on the label to date. Tracks like “A Year, Again” and the title track are built on progressive layers of synth too active and animated to be ambient, though they carry a kind of meditative sense of drift. But it’s on a moment like the 10-plus-minute closer “Bright as the Southern Sun” where Lewis kicks into krautrock overdrive, expanding and escalating on a mind-bending cosmic pathway. – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

Klaus Johann Grobe

Klaus Johann Grobe – Im Sinner Der Zeit

A bridge between some of the garagey early records released via Trouble in Mind and the weirder experiments in post-punk and psychedelia in recent years, the debut album by Zurich group Klaus Johann Grobe is taut, minimalist and groovy. Its nine songs alternately evoke early Stereolab and the most danceable corners of no wave, with dancepunk rhythms and sinewy basslines snaking through flashing arrays of organ and synth. That it was only released in 2014 seems remarkable, as these are the kinds of songs you’d imagine finding on an obscure find during a deep crate dig. But something tells me it still has a lot of potential to become a future cult classic. – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

nightshift zoe

Nightshift – Zöe

You can credibly describe Nightshift as a post-punk band but that doesn’t quite do justice to the eclectic blend of sometimes tense, frequently hypnotic, and always imaginative sounds they spin up on their 2021 album Zöe. From the meditative repetition of “Piece Together,” they ease the listener in before taking a turn toward more avant garde harmonic space groove in “Outta Space,” a clarinet-squealing urgency in “Make Kin” and motorik synthscapes in “Power Cut.” Each song is built from a drone-like minimalism on which they manipulate new shapes and splash on a few new colors for good measure. Even when riding a single vibration for a while, Zöe is always engaging, always warmly captivating, a reinvention of post-punk not as a channel for anxiety but a place to let it go. – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Rough Trade (vinyl)

best trouble in mind albums omni

Omni – Multi-Task

This ain’t The White Stripes, it’s not The Black Keys, we ain’t got time for that now. The duo of Frankie Broyles (ex-Balkans/Deerhunter) and Philip Frobos (Carnivores) present their second speed-freak agit-pop guitar attack over separately recorded drums. The results pull liberally from a whole host of 1960s mods and garage-rockers, bite-sized morsels of post-punk from the 1970s and elsewhere in the 2010s, and the oblique lilt of R.E.M. (They’re from Georgia, how could they not?) For all of the interesting interactions between their strings, and among those and their drum tracks, Multi-Task is an album you could miss in the blink of an eye. Try to keep up. – Adam Blyweiss

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

best trouble in mind albums sunwatchers

Sunwatchers – II

Following a self-titled debut released on Castle Face, New York psychedelic shamans Sunwatchers delivered a burning haze of a follow-up on Trouble In Mind. Heavy on drone and vibrating layers of sound, Sunwatchers craft hypnotic instrumentals that reconcile free jazz with punk, noise rock with raga, their sonic squall as mesmerizing as it is massive. Yet even in their most intense moments, Sunwatchers harness a sense of joy that’s infectious. This is vibrant, white-hot music from musicians channeling something beyond melody and rhythm. – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Rough Trade

best trouble in mind albums ultimate painting

Ultimate Painting – Green Lanes

In four years, UK duo Ultimate Painting released four excellent albums full of catchy, breezy jangle-pop with a yen for Loaded-era Velvets hooks. Which makes the placement of Green Lanes here just the slightest matter of preference, though truly, they’re all stellar. Still, it’s hard to argue with pop anthems like “(I’ve Got the) Sanctioned Blues” the most infectious song ever written about missing a train, coupled with the most sweetly harmonized “You know you really fucked me” you’ll ever hear. – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

Writhing squares chart for the solution

Writhing Squares – Chart for the Solution

Writhing Squares’ Chart for the Solution begins with the 11-minute “Rogue Moon,” riding a cosmic synth arpeggio that cycles over and over like the swirl of a dimensional vortex, until a saxophone pierces the atmosphere and the heady minimal-synth progression zooms into a driving space-rock anthem, and eventually fading back out into the ether, only that same synth arpeggio remaining. It’s a soaring and colossal piece of music—and then there’s 10 more songs after that. And they’re all similarly incredible, cut from a similar cross section of Chrome, Hawkwind and Tuxedomoon—eerie, scuzzy and wonderfully weird. Which is all a moot point if “Rogue Moon” doesn’t win you over first. Don’t worry, it will. – JT

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Rough Trade (vinyl)

Treble is supported by its patrons. Become a member of our Patreon, get access to subscriber benefits, and help an independent media outlet continue delivering articles like these.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top