Review & Full Album Stream: The Golden Grass, Killer Boogie, Wild Eyes SF & Banquet, 4 Bands Split Vol. 2Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
[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 Eyes SF 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.