Roadrunner & Other Drivin’ Tunes

Roadrunner & Other Drivin' Tunes (Front)

An old acquaintance just asked for road trip music recommendations, and I thought I had posted this when I made the mix for a CD mix club I participated in 7-8 years ago. I guess I didn’t, so here it is! Some of the MP3s are included with PDF cover art and liner notes if you click on the first image. Or you can stream it all on Spotify below. Enjoy! Continue reading

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Monolord – Vænir (RidingEasy)

Monolord - Vænir (RidingEasy, 2015)It was only a year ago that Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord released their debut, Empress Rising. Putting out a second album in just a year could be some kind of record in the world of psychedelic doom. When some bands wait close to a decade between albums it’s a rare treat these days for that kind of band to have enough hustle to put out new music so soon, without really repeating themselves. Who knows if and when Sleep will ever do another album, so I’m glad we’ve got Monolord. They’ve got those nasty, heavy guitar tones down, while exploring varying psychedelic sounds to keep the songs diverse and memorable enough. On cuts like the 16:59 title track and the short atmospheric interlude, “The Cosmic Silence” that leads up to it, they’re clearly progressing, if incrementally. My favorite track is probably the forlorn “We Will Burn,” which kind of summarizes their past work and distills it into their best song yet. “Nuclear Death” plods and bludgeons with a weight that reminds me of Conan. Is it important that they tweak their sound? Not necessarily. Some imaginative songwriting and progressive arrangements can keep things interesting for quite a while. To be honest the masked vocals that blend into the scenery could use some improvement. A more ballsy, emotive delivery could help, though at this moment, the album is an excellent snapshot of a band primed for some spinecrushing live shows. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep experimenting with their sound like Electric Wizard and inevitably end up with some failures, or continue to mine these deliciously heavy, fuzzed out tones. Ultimately with Monolord, I feel my listening sessions are most productive when I take a break from analyzing and just surrender to the vibrations.

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Early 2015 Post-Punk Rundown

early-2015-postpunk-rundown

I had a slow start in covering everything I wanted this year, due to being preoccupied with life shit. These post-punk albums didn’t get full reviews, but definitely deserve some attention before we move forward to more anticipated releases this year. Most can be heard on this Spotify playlist. Continue reading

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Ruby The Hatchet – Valley Of The Snake (Tee Pee)

Ruby The Hatchet - Valley Of The Snake (Tee Pee, 2015)I got this from Bandcamp back in February, and has been a heavy presence on my 2015 playlist ever since. The actual CD came in the mail just yesterday and reminded me that I hadn’t properly written about it yet.  I really hate to lead off “female fronted.” Yes, I did write a feature focusing on bands lead by women back in 2012, and I did so simply because they were great bands that mostly were not getting enough attention and respect at the time. Since then, many of the bands have grown in stature and popularity. But I wouldn’t say the selling point should be solely because they’re lead by women. It’s just as stupid as saying, “hey, you’re a dude, I bet you’d like this band cuz they’re lead by a dude.” A lot of the better heavy psych bands lately do feature women, like Purson, Blood Ceremony, Jess & the Ancient Ones, Mansion and The Oath, but gender is not the key factor to their greatness. Ruby The Hatchet’s Jillian Taylor is an accomplished singer, and her abilities have matured since their 2012 debut Ouroboros.  Harmonies provided sometimes from drummer Owen Stewart, other times multi-tracked with herself, bring to mind Fleetwood Mac along the lines with Royal Thunder. However their biggest influence of late sounds like the garage psych of Britain’s Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, to the point where “Vast Acid” might be a direct tribute.  It might be hard to tell from the muddy sound and the hair in their faces, but there are no women in that band. Continue reading

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Torche – Restarter (Relapse)

Torche - Restarter (Relapse, 2015)Steve Brook’s love affair with heavy fuzz and E-bombs goes way back to 1992 when he formed Floor. He formed Torche in 2004, and had solidified a bona fide cult following by their second album, Meanderthal (2008). Harmonicraft (2012) took a more precise and overtly melodic approach with extra-abbreviated song lengths. It raised some eyebrows, with some comparing it to Baroness‘ foray into indie rock. I loved it. It was still heavy as hell, and the procession of hooky songs seemed to gain momentum as if it were winding up to start up a cyclone, Tasmanian Devil style. Continue reading

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The Lucid Dream – The Lucid Dream (Holy Are You? Recordings)

The Lucid Dream - The Lucid Dream (Holy How Are You?, 2015)While there’s no shortage of bands practicing feedback-drenched psych rock, The Lucid Dream have been perfecting their own distinct recipe since their first EP in 2010 involving ingredients like garage noir, shoegaze, German kosmische/space rock, pre and post-NYC no-wave noise, and the pop melodicism that links early Echo & the Bunnymen with The Stone Roses. The result is a pretty badass, cohesive modern psych noir sound that I imagine catching fire with a pretty big audience. That it hasn’t yet is probably due to the massive number of bands dabbling in the sub-genre lately, and the fact that their small label (Holy Are You? Recordings) has only so much reach and marketing muscle. Continue reading

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Wand – Golem (In The Red)

Wand - Golem (In The Red, 2015)Just a few months ago, I was unaware of a band called Wand. Then I belatedly discovered their debut album Ganglion Reef on Drag City imprint God?, which made the #10 slot of my favorite psych albums of last year. Now there’s two albums, with the latest even more impressive than the debut, and they just blew my face off live last night. Instant favorite garage psych band!

There’s no shortage of psychedelic bands these days, and while extremely promising, it was unclear how Wand would stack up with other favorites based on their debut. It was fairly eclectic, ranging from super melodic, 60′s style psych pop of “Broken Candle” to more spastic, loose garage rock, and some pretty impressive guitar chops from leader Cory Hanson. It was a really excellent start, but not completely mind blowing. But just seven months later, the band re-emerges fully formed and full of swagger with Golem. They apparently had been listening to some Electric Wizard and wanted there to be no mistaking them from some of the more twee sounding bands in the genre. It’s not just that it’s  so much heavier as much as the songwriting is so confident and captivating, and showing off a new, elevated level of musicianship. Mind blown. Continue reading

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Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors (Relapse)

Royal Thunder - Crooked Doors (Relapse, 2015)Since discovering their first EP in 2010, it seems things moved very quickly for Royal Thunder. One moment they were an intriguing, promising band, then they came out with their epic full-length debut CVI (2012), and I saw them live, and saw them again, and again. When some bands can’t be bothered to even tour once *coughChristianMistress*, Royal Thunder are a prime example of why touring is important. Every performance illuminated why they deserved to be one of my favorite bands of the decade, adding layers of meaning and understanding of their intense, transfixing hard rock. Starting out as an instrumental sludge/doom band influenced by fellow Atlanta, GA mates Zoroaster (guitarist Will Fiore has since joined the band),  vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsons helped both expand their universe while also focusing their style. Elements of blues, prog, psych, doom, folk, even grunge can be found in their DNA, but they’re all blended so gracefully, often gorgeously, that they have sounded fully formed from the beginning. Continue reading

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New Albums of the Week, March 31

albums-week-2015-03-31It’s a good day for heavy and trippy today.

Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot) - Italian cosmic doom sludge psych lays down their heaviest album (their 7th ) in years like the intergalactic space lord bosses they are. | Full Fast ‘n’ Bulbous Review | Spotify | Buy

The Lucid Dream – The Lucid Dream (Holy How Are You?) – Second album from UK psych rockers, this is going to be popular, and for good reason. Songs Of Lies And Deceit (2013) was a hidden psych treasure, and folks will want to make up for being late comers and fully embrace this dark but super accessible second album. | Full Fast ‘n’ Bulbous ReviewSpotify Continue reading

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Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot)

Ufomammut - Ecate (Neurot, 2015)I’ve raved so much about Tortona, Italy’s intergalactic psychedelic cosmic sludge doom space travelers, most know that Ufomammut are one of my all-time favorite heavy bands. Despite nailing it from the beginning with their debut Godlike Snake (2000) and topping it with the classic Snailking (2004), the band were still a somewhat unknown quantity at least in North America until third full-length album Idolum (2008).  As far as anyone with ears, a brain and good taste are concerned, they cemented their status as legends with the perfect Eve (2010) and sprawling two-part Oro: Opus Primum & Opus Alter (2012). Confusingly, Oro is two albums, but also make up one long, long-ass song. Continue reading

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