Monday, December 1, 2014


Let's start with this release featuring two songs per side for a couple of ultra heavy metal monsters courtesy of Dutch label, Reflections Records. Acid Deathtip has mighty Sabbath riffs with a deep dark sludgy undercurrent. Although sludge isn't quite right as there is a clarity to the powerful and tuneful noise they conjure up. The vocals stretch and strain but hold down the melody to keep this quite entertaining for most any hard rock or extreme metal fan. Whereas Hangman's Chair will appeal more to the psyche metal crowd as there are moody beginnings before the intense vocals and guitars turn the dirges into metal tunes. There is an almost post Seattle edge in here as well as these are pretty good songs that could be arranged a few different ways. More heavy and exciting music from northern Europe here. Take a listen.

The latest Belgian musical sampler courtesy of Hypertension Records is yet another fine edition in this excellent series. This one is just two bands and two long songs. Alkerdeel move from a dirge like post death metal intensity into furious post hardcore pace. It is thick sludge with nimble beats underneath and pained vocals being carried away by a tune. Whereas Nihill starts out with a post death metal sound played with some pace and full throttle intensity. They take it into a spacier realms that are more chaotic toward the finale, so these two songs are like Sisyphus going up and down the hill before conclusion. Unlike Sisyphus, you can choose whether or not to repeat the journey. I plan on it a few more times at least.

They do… let loose, that is. If you like your blues raw and stripped down musically, yet revved up to honky-tonk tempos with an easy attitude, then let the Bloodhounds into your world. These guys keep it squealing and skronking throughout these twelve oddities that will fit in well in between your Stampfel & Weber and Gun Club records. There's even a cover of 'Security' which I remember the Saints tackling way back in the day. I like the washboard sound and some of the uptempo numbers. This is not every day or even every month listening for me, but it is a fun change of pace.

Songs to try first:

Indian Highway - Start at the beginning as the opener gets off to a rollicking start.

Dusty Bibles & Silver Spoons - and old washboards and loose and crazy folk.

The Wolf - A long lazy blues walk down a twisting trail.

The Cool Ghoul was an amusing horror movie host in Cincinnati during my youth. Some of that fun is present here, as well as that sixties psychedelia that the Cool Ghoul employed in costume and style. These Californians do it with jangly guitars and fuzzy lo-fi production. The vocals are spirited and likely stoned, still with lots of energy behind it. They tend toward the rawer side of Red Kross here, although it's more a fuller sixties punk as opposed to seventies. This is a little too lo-fi at times for me, but the thrust in the vocals mixed with the cool guitar sounds ultimately work favorably. Not my favorite psyche record of the year, perhaps, but one I'll go back to.

Songs to try first:

And it Grows - and grows and grows with fuzzy jangly duels, while blissfully unaware.

Orange Light - Nice hook in this one, like Black Angels through tinny amps.

Insight - Cool guitar solo with backing that is nearly Velvet Underground.


It is great to see the brilliantly original Canterbury band Gong still making music. They still attract some fine musicians in surrounding crazed spacey beatnik Daevid Allen. Sadly, he is recovering from cancer and can’t tour with the band, but at age 76 he still provides the vocals and the vision for this slippery band. There are the expected psyche-rock moments, jazz runs, mototik moments, and beat improvisations. They can lay out some heavy rock moments as well and have kind of a Hawkwind meets Third Ear Band when they really cook. The artier side of this makes me think that Gong even influences a band like Pere Ubu. This has all the eclectic moves you expect from the band Gong, even after four and a half decades. They are still too difficult to fit into comfortable patterns for many a music fan, but for people who like prog, psyche, odd jazz rock moves, and much more, Gong will carve out sonic space that few others know where to find.

This is an interesting mix of quirky pop, chamber music, and Americana folk music. There is banjo and orchestral strings with edgy guitar parts and interestingly odd vocal lines (among others that are smooth as silk). The vocals are in the neighborhood of Bryan MacLean (Love) and the music nimbly shifts about in various interesting forms. It is light music for the most part, but very well thought out through either careful writing or playful jamming, perhaps both? There certainly is more than enough imagination here and it is refreshing to hear something that seems quite familiar, yet has a clear distinct style standing away from the pack. These Bostonians are well named.

Songs to try first:

My Rides Already Here - Fine folk opener before they stretch out their rock moves.

Astronomy as Therapy - Great title and a nice mix of their styles.

The Fight Against Paranoia - Twisted pop with a great instrumental break where paranoia wins.

I really enjoyed the live set I saw from this Nashville based, West Virginia born singer songwriter. He has a deep dark folk style that has a classic feel like Derroll Adams, yet pushes well into the psychedelic folk dimension as well. The album is a little less trippy in the overall sound as compared to the live set, but the psychedelic vibe is inherent in the songs and vocal work even more than the music. Some people may be less enchanted by this music, but they can find their pleasure elsewhere. If you want to join me, seduced into a deep trance that has enough edge and presence to keep you alert and listening closely, then join me with this very fine album.

Songs to try first:

Jackson - Almost a touch of whimsy (rare here) with this mysterious song.

Black Coal - Deep COB-like mystical folk music here.

Way Gone Wrong - A murky folk rock sound down deep with a great vocal and guitar on top.

Roots music is plentiful. It often does not push the barriers too much, but if the heart is there, the songs are there, and the musicians are competent or better, there is always an eager audience. Sam Llanas gets checks in all of the above boxes with this album. It is not too much of a surprise as Llanas had a good bit of success in the band the BoDeans which he was in for 28 years. There is a touch of Tom Petty, David Ackles, and more all mixed with plenty of raspy expressive vocals and maybe even more than a touch of the Jayhawks and REM in there as well. I like the pop hooks he uses as well that has a romantic old time rock’n’roll feeling even as the sound is much more modern with ringing guitars over a strong rhythm section. My comparisons seem a bit slippery here and elusive, which means that Llanas is doing plenty right with his own personality and style dominating the proceedings. I’ll stop writing and give this another listen and will recommend you try it out as well.

Songs to try first:

Deja Vu - Rich opening track has a full sound and an invigorating melody.

Everywhere but Here - A lovely song that could be interpreted in a roots or thick rock style and comes somewhere in between here.

Something’ Comin’ - A deep Dick Gaughn beginning, alone much more American slowly unravels into a full and interesting rock song.

Mariusz Duda, like many a musician today, needs to find things to do in the gaps between his major work for his band, Riverside. Thankfully, instead of taking up golf or writing a bad children’s book, he creates delicious solo albums. This is his fourth album and shows profound songwriting in a unique musical atmosphere created amazingly enough without guitars. There is some ukulele which treated carefully sounds like a delicate acoustic guitar here. There are also heavy synthesizer parts as well as a rhythm section along with some ethnic instrumental flourish. There are moments of Trent Reznor here, but I get even more of a Steven Wilson feeling when I listen to this, as there is that same sense of variety and sonic touch that you get in a Wilson record. But give this a listen at let Lunatic Soul carve a special place in your musical world.

The real highlight in Making Movies music is their bilingual lyrics divided evenly between Spanish and English. This gives a surprising flair to the fine singing and allows rhythms and song patterns to show more variety as the vocals either punctuate or wrap around them. There is a lot of creative flair in the music as well. Although much of it is intricate indie rock with some worldly touches, the band can extend things out and play with a wide array of rock moves.

Songs to try first:

Lo Que Quiero - Great flowing lyrics and snappy backing.

Pendulum Swing - Drumming that mixes snappy quiet moments and loud power moves with a quick catchy pop number at the heart of it all.

Ciego Sin Querer - Great sonic textures from quiet to heavy make this the best of a fine bunch of songs.

Marianne Faithfull has become the Carol Channing of rock'n'roll to my ears (and amazingly enough, she has now been a recording artist for 50 years!). She has this raspy, throaty voice that is spoken/sung in a highly personal style that does not exactly fit any script. But somehow it works more and more as she continues making music. Fine songs with interesting arrangements certainly help--I particularly enjoy the Velvet Underground style on 'Sparrows Will Sing'. I see some Bad Seeds scattered about along with Ed Harcourt on keyboards (he being my first interview for this blog). Brian Eno and Steve Earle also show up for a song. She gets some songwriting assistance, but contributes some fine lyrical work in many of the songs. There are some thoughtful cover choices as well. If you like what Scott Walker has done to twist music around to something personal, this may work for you as well. It is quite a bit more straight forward than that, but add this unique voice to some excellent players to mix up the notes in strange combinations, you have a remarkable finished album.

Songs to try first:

Sparrows Will Sing - Glorious arrangement of a Roger Waters song filled with twists and turns.

Mother Wolf - Menacing music with Warren Ellis on cello and vocals that match the intensity.

I Get Along Without You Very Well - The perfect song to end this fascinating album with.

These guys are twisted. They play psychedelic music and stretch out there jams in connected songs that move from hard rock to odd jazz, to even some folk moments. The songs bleed into each other with no pause for thought as they hammer their way into your brain. It's loose and trippy at times, but the rhythm section underneath cuts a fierce and mighty engine that pummels the music along. They should be mighty fierce on a stage, which I hope to try next.

Songs to try first:

I'm in Your Mind - A good psyche song turns into a really cool extended jam.

I'm Not in Your Mind - And then it continues into the next song.

Am I in Heaven -  A folk beginning kicks into their fastest and wildest moments on this album.

Stark, dry folktronica is a strange beast. It seems so inviting, yet the personal feelings are so very cool and slippery. Many of these songs have a lot of space in surrounding the vocals and backing that it lends an eeriness to the attempts to penetrate. Yet there are also some bouncier pop electronica moments such as in 'Never Becomer' which keeps this being so relentlessly difficult to grasp. I like dark places, but I may not want to spend a whole lot of time in this particular environment.

This is a soundtrack album for the Jim Jarmusch film, written and performed by Jozef van Wissem (and others including Jarmusch) under the moniker SQURL. Psychedelic music works well in instrumental forms, and you can drop your needle anywhere on a record like this and immediately let the music pull you in. It is a bit slower with mixed degrees of heaviness, but does not quite go to psyche-folk territory, more like world psyche. There are chanting vocals at times, which adds even further mysticism into the overall feeling here. This sounds like a quality soundtrack that could enhance a variety of styles of film, but it works just fine in the dark as a series of transcendent pieces. I enjoyed it and I shall partake again, later at night this time.

I also took a listen to a four song ep, “EP3”, which had four excellent moderately paced psyche rockers. It could almost be alt metal, but it has a post rock deep psyche manner where the music has room to breathe over the steady rhythms below. Three have vocals with ‘Francine Says’ reminding me of the Mirrors filtered through Jesus and Marychain.

Songs to try first:

Sola Gratia (Part 1) - Contemplative psyche more than psyche folk, but it works the same.

The Taste of Blood - Slower psychedelia that oozes into your psyche.

Hal - Sumptuous chanting atop rich music--melt right in.

This album has thirteen ambient snippets as opposed to songs. They work as a whole unit with just enough distinction among the parts to warrant the pauses between. This makes for good background music, but does not leave me with a burning desire to replay over and over like my favorite albums do. But if ambient music is your thing, there is a lovely feeling developed here at times.

Imagine a James Williamson guitar sound being played in an early Ron Asheton style covering Ramones songs and you get an idea of what Wild Smile sounds like. This smile seems a bit more controlled than wild, although there is a wild undercurrent in this powerful power pop music. The vocals are assured and the rhythm is steady with just enough edge on the guitar to appeal to punk power pop fans. This is a pleasant listen for me, for as long as the hooks are there, I just can't say no.

Songs to try first:

Fool for You - The opening buzz saw guitar sets the stage for the fine album to come.

Never Wanted This - OK, the main section is nearly cribbed from Nirvana's 'Dumb' but I love that song and love how they twist this one around into something really cool.

Girlfriend - This simply has to be a Ramones song.

1 comment:

Rock Damen said...

There are the expected psyche-rock moments, jazz runs, mototik moments, and beat improvisations. They can lay out some heavy rock moments as well and have kind of a Hawkwind ...