Today I’m ridiculously pleased to announce that lush progressive heavy psych rockers EYE will play the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer on Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, NY.
By the time Aug. 20 gets here, EYE will have very likely issued Vision and the Ageless Light, their third full-length and first for The Laser’s Edge. The album arrives following a grueling three-year wait since EYE‘s last release, 2013’s Second Sight (review here), and features new guitarist Jon Finley and new bassist Michael Sliclen alongside founders Lisa Bella Donna (synth) and Brandon Smith (drums), embarking on an expansion of the melodically resonant poise they showed last time out and on their 2011 debut, Center of the Sun (review here).
I’ve been fortunate enough to see EYE live, and their flowing, patient, heavy and thoughtful material is a perfect fit for The Obelisk All-Dayer. If you haven’t been introduced, their latest outing was 2014’s Live at Relay (review here), which brought together two massive, 19-minute cosmic explorations captured, as the title indicates, completely on the move. The textures they’re able to create on those songs push through atmospheric boundaries to create something as spaced-out as it is plotted, and EYE steer their ship with a rare grace as they move further and further away from terra firma.
Bella Donna had this to say about playing: “We are equally excited to rip some music as well as listen during the festival. We are very big fans of The Obelisk and our full intention is to celebrate that energy and the momentum that JJ has already elevated. We have a lot of new sounds and vibes flowing in our music, so we’re excited to bring them to the already great host of music we’ll get the opportunity to listen and party to.”
EYE join the previously announced Mars Red Sky, Snail, King Buffalo and Funeral Horse on the bill for The Obelisk All-Dayer. Tickets are available now. Three more bands still TBA.
The Obelisk All-Dayer is Aug. 20, 2016, at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York, and will feature full sets, after-show DJs, food truck on-hand, live recordings, limited edition merch and much more. Stay tuned for announcements to follow.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today, Austrian festival Lake on Fire 2016 announces its second headliner will be Swedish heavy rockers Lowrider. It’s been a minute or two since the reformed four-piece were last heard from, and though they’ve been teasing the prospect of new recordings and new material for a while now, concrete word of a release to follow-up their landmark 2000 debut, Ode to Io, has yet to surface. They join Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats at the top of the two-night bill for the fest, which takes place in Waldhausen at a lakeside campsite and is already sold out. Because it’s lakeside riffing, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who doesn’t think that’s an awesome idea. I know I do. Frankly, the fest should be sold out on principle alone.
But hey, if you want an extra dose of awesome, Lowrider will most certainly provide that. Wonder if they’ll play new material.
From the PR wire:
You guys are expecting something rare n’ heavy – allright, look no further! For the very first time here in Austria, please welcome a mighty bulldozer named Lowrider! One of the early European Stoner Rock pioneers will arrive at the floating stage for a very special fly-in show! So much heavy riffage!
THANK YOU/THANK YOU/THANK YOU UnfUCKIN’believeable! You guys must be kidding! The festival is sold out again, but what – in 90 seconds??? Seriously? Looking forward to see you crazy dudes and dudettes in August!
We are very sorry for those who haven’t got their tickets. Believe us, we have never been prepared for a demand like that! We would love to give everyone access to the Lake on Fire, but our capacities are limited and it was always our intention to keep the festival’s familiar and homely atmosphere!
However, as we had a lot of advance payment purchases with 10 days allowed for payment, we will keep you updated, in case some ticket orders will get cancelled again!
Lake on Fire Festival returns for its 5th anniversary on 05-06.08 2016
LINE UP: Uncle Acid and the deadbeats (UK) Causa Sui (DK) Gomer Pyle (NL) The Flying Eyes (US) Savanah (AT)
[Click play above to stream Heavy Psych Sounds’ four-way split between The Golden Grass, Killer Boogie, Wild Eyes SF and Banquet in full. It’s out today.]
There are far more ambitions toward compilation series than there actually are actual, realized compilation series. Very often, a record label or other party putting together a multi-band release finds that the coordination involved isn’t worth the effort or the expense, and so a lot of “Vol. 1”-type offerings go without a sequel. Given the impressive roster and body of work that Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds is currently engaged in fostering, and the sheer amount of drive that the label puts into that process, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that the 2014 4-Way Split Vol. 1 (review here) has gotten a follow-up of like-minded scope. That first release brought together the venerable likes of Naam, Black Rainbows, White Hills and The Flying Eyes, and worked with a heavy psychedelic and space rock influence as its central unifying theme, tying disparate material and recordings together with an overarching sense of purpose that resulted in a successful front to back flow despite the series of swaps of one band for another.
4-Way Split Vol. 2 takes a similar approach, but has swapped out the underlying theme of space for boogie, each of the four included acts — Brooklyn’s The Golden Grass, Rome’s Killer Boogie, San Francisco’s Wild Eyes and Banquet — digging deep into a classic shuffle presented with its own take across three songs apiece operating in various degrees of retro-fied style. Once again, the foundational commonality between the bands brings the material cohesion, and ultimately, 4-Way Split Vol. 2 highlights the cutting edge in where heavy rock is going and how its modern era is directly influenced by classic methods.
Those vibes start just about immediately as The Golden Grass kick off the release with the motor-riffing of “Livin’ ain’t Easy,” followed soon by the handclap swing of “Flashing out of Sight” and the flute-inclusive jam in “Hot Smoke and Sasafrass,” the trio nodding there toward some of the progressive influence they showcase on their also-newly-issued second album, Coming Back Again (review here), where both “Livin’ ain’t Easy” and “Flashing out of Sight” both have a more straightforward approach, more active on the whole than the laid back style of their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), but very clearly grown out of a similar mindset. Who-style acoustic/electric blend on “Flashing out of Sight,” vocal harmonies on “Livin’ ain’t Easy” and the aforementioned flute assure that The Golden Grass stand out from the crowd on 4-Way Split Vol. 2, but that will become as much of a theme for each act included as much as the concurrent thread of boogie.
Speaking of, Killer Boogie seem to have formed with their moniker as a mission statement, leaving nothing to question as to their intent on their three cuts, “You Will be Mine,” “Make Another Ride” and “The Thunder.” Their first album, Detroit (review here), arrived in 2015, and they weren’t a band for long before that, but with Gabriele Fiori — also of Black Rainbows and head of Heavy Psych Sounds — out front on scorching guitar and vocals (note the Hendrix turn in “You Will be Mine”) and The Wisdoom‘s Luigi Costanzo on drums alongside bassist Matteo Marini, Killer Boogie party-vibe their way through infectious ’70s-style heavy, brash in the tradition of Blue Cheer but still owing just an edge of their sound to psychedelic swirl. These tracks prove Detroit was no fluke, and further Killer Boogie‘s position as one of the most exciting new groups of the last couple years.
Heavy Psych Sounds has rolled deep on the West Coast heavy rock boom, and one can’t help but feel like pairing Wild EyesSF and Banquet next to each other on 4-Way Split Vol. 2 is intended to emphasize that point. Wild Eyes, who share bassist Carson Binks with Saviours and signed to the label in summer 2014 in time to play a European tour that fall put together by HPS‘ booking wing, begin their section with the blown-out, raw-after-a-night-out soul of Janiece Gonzalez, who proceeds to tear into that song, the blues-catchy “Gator Shaker” and shuffling “Hot Sand” with a commanding performance bolstered by the natural tonality behind it. After the initial wake-up call, Wild Eyes continue the momentum that The Golden Grass and Killer Boogie got rolling, while also distinguishing themselves with their boozy sway and still-friendly-until-they-punch-you fuckall.
Their last album, Above Becomes Below, was released in 2014 as the follow-up to their 2013 debut, Get into It! (review here), and they fit well alongside Banquet, who do the honors of rounding out 4-Way Split Vol. 2, only months after putting out their debut LP, Jupiter Rose (review here). Whether their three inclusions, “Seven Sisters,” the expansive and propulsive “Starmaker” and a righteous cover of Baby Huey‘s “Runnin’,” were recorded at the same time as Jupiter Rose or not, could go either way, but they certainly fit right in here, and the closing take on Baby Huey speaks to the underlying soul/funk influence that’s often the unexplored aspect of modern heavy. Mirroring the straight-ahead grooves of Killer Boogie, Banquet bring the split to a raucous finish worthy of the good times preceding, and serve as a reminder of the vibe that draws all these acts together. What Heavy Psych Sounds might have in store for 4-Way Split Vol. 3, I’ve no idea, but it seems entirely likely that with two successful thematic compilations/splits under its belt, the label might just keep going with it. This installment does nothing but push momentum forward for all involved parties.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Following a couple weekenders next month — including one alongside Brooklyn’s Tombs — and a gig in Baltimore with The Body and Krieg, Philadelphia blackened psychedelia purveyors Hivelords will head out in June for about a month solid of touring the East Coast and Midwest. They’ll do this partially in the company of Set and Setting and Choking, but also with a fair amount of solo shows on what seems like a considerable summertime slog through a region that, at that point, will be humid enough to no doubt inspire much buzzsaw tone and atmospheric murk.
They go supporting their 2015 full-length, Tapered Limbs of a Human Star, which was released last August by Anthropic Records. The PR wire brings dates, details, links and audio:
HIVELORDS announce spring/summer tour dates
Philadelphia psychedelic black metal band HIVELORDS announces new tour dates for spring and summer 2016. The tour, which starts on May 5th in York, Pennsylvania, sees HIVELORDS travel throughout the months of May, June and July before ending on July 3rd in Philadelphia. HIVELORDS will have direct support from SET & SETTING (Florida, Prosthetic Records) and CHOKING (Ohio). HIVELORDS will also be direct support for Brooklyn-based blackened heavyweights, TOMBS (Relapse). This is HIVELORDS fifth fully DIY North American tour.
A full list of confirmed tour dates and lineups can be found below.
HIVELORDS will be touring in support of their critically acclaimed album, Tapered Limbs of a Human Star. HIVELORDS full discography is streaming now at the Anthropic Records Bandcamp site.
HIVELORDS tour dates: *Hivelords only dates 5/5 York, PA –Skid Row Garage* 5/6 Utica, NY-Gordon’s Tap Room* 5/7 Binghamton, NY-Greasy Manor* 5/8 New Hope, PA-John & Peter’s* 5/13 Philadelphia, PA-Kung Fu Necktie w/ Tombs 5/14 Pittsburgh, PA-Roboto Project w/ Tombs 5/15 Detroit, MI-EL Club w/ Tombs 5/16 Chicago, IL-Chop Shop w/ Tombs 5/26 Baltimore, MD-Metro Gallery w/ The Body & Krieg 6/9 Lindenwold, NJ-The Sex Dungeon* 6/10 Allentown, PA-Alternative Gallery* 6/11 Pittsburgh, PA-The Smiling Moose* 6/12 Dayton, OH-Blind Bob’s w/ Choking 6/13 Cincinnati, OH-Junker’s Tavern w/ Choking 6/14-Indianaplos, IN-State Street Pub w/ Choking 6/15-Louisville, KY-Modern Cult Records w/ Choking 6/16-Nashville, TN-The East Room w/Choking 6/17-Birmingham, AL-TBA w/ Choking 6/18-Chattanooga, TN-JJ’s Bohemia w/ Choking 6/19-Atlanta, GA-The Earl w/ Set and Setting 6/20-Jacksonville, FL-Burro Bar w/ Set and Setting 6/21-Orlando, FL-The Space Station w/ Set and Setting 6/22-Miami, FL-Churchill’s Pub w/ Set and Setting 6/23-Tampa, FL-New World Brewery w/ Set and Setting 6/24-Savannah, GA-The Jinx w/ Set and Setting 6/25-Columbia, SC-New Brookland Tavern* 6/26-Wilmington, NC-TBA* 6/27-Charlotte, NC-The Station* 6/28-Raleigh, NC-Slim’s* 6/29-Richmond, VA-Strange Matter* 6/30-Harrisonburg, VA-Golden Pony* 7/1-Baltimore, MD-The Sidebar* 7/2-Egg Harbor City, NJ-Friendship Mountain* 7/3-Philadelphia, PA-Homecoming show at Kung Fu Necktie*
Posted in audiObelisk on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
On my first listen through of The Western Mystics‘ new live release, The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016), all I had to go by was the waveform. I didn’t know the names of the songs they played, or where one started and one stopped, and while I’ve since been able to garner that information, I think the other way has a certain appeal as well. Not knowing where one piece ends and the next begins, The Last Western flows as a single entirety, and I’ve no doubt that’s exactly how it was presented at Treefort Music Fest 2016 last month in the band’s native Boise, Idaho, lush and psychedelic in some places, showcasing encouraging depth of ambience in quiet stretches with vocals as much as keys and/or baritone guitars, and taking off on flights of classically-styled progressive rock. In short, this is a band capturing the process of finding their sound on stage, live, as it happened.
That’s a pretty bold move for a group who, to-date, hasn’t yet released a studio outing of any form, but neither is it The Western Mystics‘ first time putting out a “bootleg” where a demo might otherwise appear. Then working as the trio of drummer/vocalist Brent Joel and baritone guitarists Travis X. Abbott (rhythm) and Nik Kososik (lead; also of Sun Blood Stories), they made their debut last fall with Once upon a Time in the Cosmos (discussed here), establishing a space-and-Western thematic blend that continues however many months later into the Treefort performance, which also introduces keyboardist/vocalist Riley Anne Johnson. Her work here is not to be understated in refining the textures of this material. The richness keys bring alongside the depth of tone from Abbott and Kososik is evident throughout, whether that’s organ keeping up with the guitars in “Running from the Living,” the opening movement, or Rhodes-style note droplets bolstering the drones of the penultimate “Sea that has Become Known.”
At this point, I could tell you where exactly where each track starts and ends between “Running from the Living” and “Running from the Dying,” which closes with an apex of Magma-style progressive bounce, but I honestly think you’re better off like I was, making your way through the entirety of The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016) without knowing and then hitting up The Western Mystics‘ Bandcamp to find the runtimes and how it all divides up as the band work their way closer to where they want to be sound-wise and stylistically through this material. It’s only been a few months since Once upon a Time in the Cosmos (on which “Running from the Living” also appeared), and that leads one to hope it won’t be much longer before a studio recording of one sort or another surfaces from The Western Mystics, who even on stage show themselves as being able to pull elements from various genres — prog rock, heavy psych, post-rock, drone, etc. — in order to service an individualized intent. I look forward, in other words, to nerding out over their debut. Whenever it might arrive.
Stream The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016) in full below. You’ll find more info on the release beneath the player.
The Western Mystics on The Last Western:
As far as our plans go, we are constantly writing new material, especially due to our newest member, Riley Johnson, on the keys. We are going to play some out of town dates in Washington and Oregon this summer with other Treefort Alumni and hope to keep pushing out new material.
We as a band are definitely fans of improvisation and writing on the fly so we can guarantee our next batch of songs won’t be anything like the previous.
Recorded Live at Neurolux for Treefort Music Fest V on 03/23/2016
1. Running from the Living 2. See You In Space 3. The Scary Can Be A Psyche Place 4. Intramolecular Summit 5. Sea That Has Become Known 6. Running from the Dying
All songs written by Brent Joel, Riley Anne Johnson, Nik Kososik & Travis X. Abbott
Brent Joel – Drums, Vocals Riley Anne Johnson – Keys, Vocals Nik Kososik – Lead Baritone Travis X. Abbott – Rhythm Baritone
Live mix by Eric Penney & Lawrence Van Bishop at Neurolux. Mastered by Travis X. Abbott. Special thanks to: Tyler Walker (lights & visual effects). Photo credit: Cameron Andreas.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Congratulations to Boston heavy rockers Worshipper on signing to Tee Pee Records for the release of their debut album, Shadow Hymns, this August. The hard-driving four-piece have impressed over the course of two 2015 singles — Place Beyond the Light (discussed here) and the preceding Black Corridor (review here) — as well as in a live setting so much that they’ve already picked up a Boston Music Award and, more recently, won the Rock and Roll Rumble competition of local acts. Boston loves its own, to be sure, but even so, that’s a considerable response for a band who hasn’t yet put a record out.
I asked guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse to comment on the signing and he had this to say:
“Holy shit! I listen to my copy of the first Graveyard record constantly and to flip it over and see ‘Tee Pee’ on the back, the label that is putting out OUR first record, blows my mind. We’re all really proud of how it came out, sonically and visually. Bob did an amazing job with the artwork, so we’re excited for people to see it in person as well as to hear it.”
Worshipper release Shadow Hymns on Tee Pee Records on Aug. 28. The PR wire makes it official:
WORSHIPPER Sign With Tee Pee Records
Award-Winning Massachusetts Metal Band To Unleash Full-length Debut, ‘Shadow Hymns’, this Summer
Boston-based metal band WORSHIPPER has signed to NYC’s Tee Pee Records, the independent record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep. With a sound described as “darkly epic”, WORSHIPPER has earned consistent accolades since its formation, being named the “Metal Artist of the Year” at the 2015 Boston Music Awards and, most recently, being chosen over 23 other participating bands as champions of the 2016 “Rock and Roll Rumble”, a competition hailed as “The World Series of Boston Rock” that has taken place annually since 1979.
WORSHIPPER will release its full-length debut, Shadow Hymns, on August 28. The record was recorded at Q Division, Mad Oak, and Converse Rubber Tracks Studios with producers Benny Grotto (Aerosmith, Orange Goblin) and David Minehan (The Replacements) and showcases WORSHIPPER’s melodically thunderous sound. Through its unique mix of contemporary and classic influences, WORSHIPPER prove that the horn-throwing soul of melodic heavy music’s past still burns brightly.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to be welcomed to the Tee Pee family,” comments guitarist Alejandro Necochea. “We think it’s a perfect fit and we are immensely proud to have our music released by the same label that put out some of our favorite records of the past couple decades.”
In addition to Necochea, WORSHIPPER features John Brookhouse (vocals / guitar), Dave Jarvis (drums) and Bob Maloney (vocals, bass).
I’m not entirely sure what Miss Lava are railing against in the start of their new single — the general state of culture, maybe; people staring at their tvs and phones instead of rocking out — but I won’t question the Lisbon outfit’s conviction. They’re gearing up to issue their new album, Sonic Debris, as the follow-up to 2013’s Red Supergiant, via ultra-respected purveyor Small Stone Records, and if nothing else, “The Silent Ghost of Doom” is definitely working against any sense of apathy the band might perceive in this age of bought-and-sold wonders. Clocking in at an efficient 4:20, it’s a kick in the ass run from front to back, its initial rant building into a careening heavy rock riff met with a catchy hook that only pushes the momentum further forward.
Sonic Debris is out May 20, and “The Silent Ghost of Doom” is the second track to be featured from it behind the grander opening salvo “Another Beast is Born” (posted here), and as it’s also the second track on the record itself, it shows the kind of one-two punch with which Miss Lava are starting their latest outing, shifting from a larger-sounding roll and melody into the rush of “The Silent Ghost of Doom.” One doubts that’s the entirety of the scope of the album, but as the already-noted intro of “The Silent Ghost of Doom” (performed in a guest spot by Rui Guerra) demonstrates, the band are clearly given to offering a surprise or two along the way. For what it’s worth, neither of the two cuts that have made their way to the public so far has stopped me from wanting to hear more of the album.
Hopefully you feel the same. PR wire info follows “The Silent Ghost of Doom” below.
Miss Lava, “The Silent Ghost of Doom” official video
Portugal’s volume merchants, MISS LAVA, will drop the deliciously riff raging sounds of their Sonic Debris full-length via Small Stone Recordings next month.
As a precursor to its release comes the visual accompaniment to “The Silent Ghost Of Doom.” The second single from Sonic Debris, “The Silent Ghost Of Doom” clip was directed by Bruno Simões with direction of photography by Mr. Ivo Cordeiro (the team behind MISS LAVA’s “Black Rainbow” video). “To shoot this video, we went to Lisbon’s old athenaeum — the Ateneu Comercial de Lisboa,” elaborates drummer, J. Garcia. “The historic scenery set the right vibe for the song.”
“This is a loud one that shouts about freeing yourself from tedium, apathy and past time glories,” adds vocalist Johnny Lee. “The broken mirror sights the silent ghost of doom.”
Sonic Debris will be released May 20th and come available on CD and 180-gram light blue vinyl limited to 500 units. For preorders go toTHIS LOCATIONwhere you’ll also hear a stream of opening track “Another Beast Is Born.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Welsh cosmic wanderers Sendelica celebrate their 10th anniversary with a run through the UK, Germany and Italy that kicks off with a weekender tomorrow and continues into mid and late May. The prolific space rockers are heading out in time for the release of their latest album, The Cromlech Chronicles, which is due May 29 but available now to stream in its entirety, including its 24-minute opening suite, arriving in four-parts to ensure that the beginning of the record is as far out as humanly possible.
The dates are below for the tour, as well as the info for The Cromlech Chronicles, and of course the stream. Dig if you dig:
LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING LOTS OF FRIENDS, OLD AND NEW
SENDELICA 10TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR PART ONE:- FRI 29TH APRIL COSMIC PUFFIN, MERSEA ISLAND, UK SAT 30TH APRIL CELLAR BAR, CARDIGAN, UK SAT 14TH MAY RE-STRUNG HARP, FOLKESTONE, UK WEDS 18TH MAY IMMERHIN, WURZBURG, GERMANY THURS 19TH MAY CIRCUS MAXIMUS, KOBLENZ, GERMANY FRI 20TH MAY SECRET GIG, UDINE, ITALY SAT 21ST MAY ROCK FESTIVAL AT PRIAMAR FORTRESS, SAVONA, ITALY SUN 22ND MAY CENTRALE ROCK, ERBA, ITALY TUE 24TH MAY ALTRAQUANDO, ZERO BRANCO, ITALY WEDS 25TH MAY ARCI TAZIBAO, TORTONA (IL), ITALY THURS 26TH MAY CAFE LIBER, TURINO, ITALY SUN 29TH MAY GAMES FOR MAY FESTIVAL, HALF MOON, PUTNEY, LONDON, UK SAT 4TH JUNE TIPI IN CARDIGAN, UK
As part of their warm-up for last year’s ’13th Dream’ festival, Sendelica went into a studio in deepest, darkest Wales to record a new album for FdM. The Mwnci Studio (promounced ‘Monkey’) is a short walk from a cromlech (an ancient megalithic monument dating back over 3000 years) that features on the gatefold sleeve. Played live, with the minimum of overdubs, the album showcases the band’s extended instrumental side – with all-new songs.
Pete Bingham : Guitars / Electronics Glenda Pescado : Bass Lee Relfe : Sax Lord Sealand: Keys and Theremin Meurig Griffith : Drums
[Click play above to stream Joy’s Ride Along in full. Album is out this Friday, April 29, on Tee Pee Records.]
San Diego trio Joy made their debut on Tee Pee Records in 2014 with their second album overall, Under the Spell of… (review here), a jammy, boogie-loaded outing that seemed to distill much of what has become identified with the boom in Californian heavy, particularly centered around San Diego in bands like Radio Moscow and Earthless. Joy‘s exclamatory third LP, Ride Along!, continues the thread, features contributions from members of those two outfits as well as labelmates Sacri Monti, and refines the band’s approach both in its making — guitarist/vocalist Zach Oakley also stepping up to produce at San Diego’s Audio Design Studios — and in style, Oakley, returning bassist Justin Hulson and new drummer Thomas DiBenedetto (also Sacri Monti) stripping away some of the expanse songs on their last outing offered in favor of a more straightforwardly structured approach, if one still presented through torrents of winding blues riffs, fervent psychedelic boogie and heavy-minded grooves.
The elements are familiar — guitar, bass, drums, vocals, a flash of organ on “Red, White and Blues” and elsewhere, acoustics on “Peyote Blues,” etc. — but it’s the energy Joy bring to their delivery and the turns their material makes that ultimately distinguish them from the crowded West Coast heavy sphere, and in accordance with being of their place and of the heavy ’10s pastiche, Ride Along! issues an invitation that’s hard to refuse as it careens through its 10-track/40-minute run with little care for what or whom it leaves in its dust.
If a release like Ride Along! is going to work in the slightest, vibe is essential, and fortunately, Joy have it in spades. As guest personnel come and go, the band retains a solid — and by solid I mean utterly molten — foundation of hard-hitting blues boogie, the entirety of side A making for an opening salvo that seems to have launched only to launch again, retaining momentum across the first three cuts, “I’ve Been Down (Set Me Free),” “Misunderstood” and “Evil Woman” just to propel itself yet again with the infectious “Going Down Slow” and the ZZ Top cover, “Certified Blues,” which caps the first half of the record. In that span, Joy still find room to jam, whether that’s the layers of guitar on “Going Down Slow” or extended solo section in “Evil Woman” — she’s evil because she left, if you’re wondering — both of which traffic in wah-drenched gnarl, “Evil Woman” adding a touch of organ along the way or at least seeming to as it winds its way toward a return to the hook.
Classic heavy is a touchstone there as on the preceding “Misunderstood” and “I’ve Been Down (Set Me Free),” but the sing-along shuffle chorus of the opener sets the tone for a natural, live-tracked feel that may owe even more than it realizes to the likes of Nebula even as it seems to be Oakley working on his own and pushing up against Radio Moscow-style rhythmic insistence. Speaking of, that band’s guitarist/vocalist, Parker Griggs, shows up on “Peyote Blues,” and Earthless drummer Mario Rubalcaba contributes to “Evil Woman” and side B’s “Red, White and Blues,” the former also featuring Sacri Monti‘s Brenden Dellar on guitar alongside Oakley. The guest spots are a welcome touch — not going to argue against hearing any of those people play — but Joy make the album’s primary impression on their own, twisting and turning to start side B with “Help Me,” a rawer sound adding elements of unhinged garage rock that suit them well amid the maddening insistence of DiBenedetto‘s drumming.
Its stomp no less riotous than “I’ve Been Down (Set Me Free)” at the start of the record, “Help Me” pushes into “Red, White and Blues,” which hardly tops three minutes but remains a standout for how it begins to push against the straightforward take much of Ride Along! has to this point presented, refusing to return from its solo section jam and instead giving way to the acoustic/percussion fade-in of “Peyote Blues,” which seems a kind of companion to “Death Hymn Blues” from Under the Spell of…, though more brightly psychedelic. The entrance of drums and electrified soloing near the halfway point builds to a head, and though the roots might be similar, “Peyote Blues” turns out to be arguably the most adventurous arrangement on the album. Even so, it seems to thrust its way toward the finish, leading to the all-swing-all-the-time “Ride Along!,” on which Oakley howls out the LP’s title line and adds a kind of far-back atmospheric sense as it fades out long but ultimately quickly, letting closer “Gypsy Mother’s Son” cap Ride Along! on a spacier, fuzzier note.
Also the longest inclusion at 6:27, it basks in the chemistry between Oakley, Hulson and DiBenedetto, lead lines tossed in over warm basslines and enviable snare shuffle, wah, vocal reverb, weighted shove — and finally, the departure into the jam at about three minutes in, drums leading the way out on a (temporary) boogie excursion that effectively captures stage-born vitality as the entirety of Ride Along! has been doing all the while. They turn back to the chorus, offer a big rock finish, decide they’re not done, ride out another measure or two, and cut “Gypsy Mother’s Son” cold to end. One can almost hear a crowd erupt. And who would argue? Joy‘s fleet-footed turns, their catchy songs, their balance between tripped-out effects and air-tight performances assure that, once again, they live up to their name. They’ve had a few jammier releases in addition to their proper studio albums, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect Joy to be finished altogether with the kind of acid-vibed explorations they previously honed, but it would be wrong to ignore the quality of the work they’ve done in carving these songs out of those jams in the meantime.