Sun Voyager, Lazy Daze: In the Here and Now

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on April 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

sun voyager lazy daze

In the time since releasing their 2013 demo/EP, Mecca (review here), Orange County, New York, heavy psych rockers Sun Voyager have been more or less engaged in the business of growing their band. They’ve played local shows, done some time on the road, found a label to help push their stuff in the form of King Pizza Records, appeared on a compilation or two, and done a split release, with Greasy Hearts. Along the way, they’ve also released singles in drips and drabs, one song at a time every so often, capturing different moods and vibes still within the warm sphere of what they did so well on Mecca, but showing progress anyhow in fuzzy cuts like “Gypsy Hill” and “God is Dead.” Their new cassette, called Lazy Daze after its closing track and released by King Pizza in limited numbers (250 copies, white tape, pro case and j-card), brings together these singles and turns them into Sun Voyager‘s most established release to-date. It’s five songs from the earthy heavygaze rockers and only about 20 minutes between the two sides, but big on vibe and a right-on showing of increased complexity in their craft.

Definitely an EP for its runtime, Lazy Daze nonetheless houses an album-style flow, and while its title and some of Sun Voyager‘s shoegaze aesthetic hint toward an element of ’90s apathy — of “fuckit” made flesh — the weight of their tones and swing counteract with movement that’s exciting even in the overarching languid atmosphere of the tracks themselves. “God is Dead” is a landmark for the band. A familiar refrain, perhaps, but the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Carlos Francisco, guitarist Steve Friedman, bassist Stefan Mersch and drummer Kyle Beach make it their own, turning “My god is dead but your god’s dead too” into a killer hook for the upbeat first half of the song and an echoing space-out over the fluid, slower jamming of the second. The song lurches to a drawling finish like a universe stretching itself into oblivion, and “Black Angel” picks up quickly with a garage-style rush that Francisco tops with reverb-soaked melody and a molten vibe that is quickly becoming a trademark of their approach. Unlike the opener, “Black Angel” holds its space-rocking motor for its entirety, so it seems only fair that “Gypsy Hill” would slow things down, and it does, but more than that, it opens wide a horizon soundscape, sunny and rural as were the best moments of Mecca — its central progression reminds a bit of “Space Queen” from that release; not a complaint — but more coherent in the songwriting and assured in its course. They weave into and out of jammy grooves, but its the nodding chorus that makes “Gypsy Hill” the highlight that it is as it rounds out side one.

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Launching side two, “Be Here Now” would seem to signal a change in vibe, but it’s really just a progression from where “Gypsy Hill” was headed, that song a transitional centerpiece between the two sides of the EP. A sleepy flow and peaceful atmosphere can make it easy to look past how heavy “Be Here Now” actually is when it picks up, but Sun Voyager shift so easily between louder and quieter parts that by the time the four minutes are up, you’re just absolutely lost in it. All the better leading into “Lazy Daze” itself, which earns the title-track spot with its more accomplished melody and memorable roll. Backing “ooh” vocals behind Francisco add flourish to the verse and choruses, and what works best about Lazy Daze overall is once more underlined, and that’s that even when Sun Voyager are using straightforward structures — all of these songs are shorter and have fewer actual jams than the tracks on Mecca — they’re able to maintain hypnotic listener engagement even as they weave through different songwriting ideas. I won’t at all say I hope they never kick out a full-on jam again, if only because I don’t think they’re at a point where any element of their approach should be written off entirely, but the balance they strike on Lazy Daze of approach-tightness and sonic-looseness makes the 20 minutes of the EP’s span seem much, much wider, and really makes me look forward to hearing what kinds of shifts Sun Voyager might be able to pull off over the course of a debut full-length. I think they could give it a shot at this point, and I hope they find room to branch out a bit in terms of arrangements, maybe put an organ in there somewhere for one or two songs, some acoustics or additional percussion. Because if Lazy Daze proves anything, it’s that Sun Voyager have their sound as it is down pat and are ready to move forward from here.

Sun Voyager, Lazy Daze (2015)

Sun Voyager on Thee Facebooks

Sun Voyager on Bandcamp

King Pizza Records

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Duude, Tapes! Skunk Hawk, Skunk Hawk

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on February 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

skunk-hawk-tape-and-case

While Philadelphia-based Randall Coon has a few prior digital releases under his belt for the solo-project Skunk Hawk, as I understand it, the six-song self-titled/self-released tape is the first to receive a physical pressing. The cassette is limited to 100 copies with a pro-printed tape and two-panel j-card, and finds the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Coon — who appeared with King Buffalo on their 2013 demo (review here) and was in Velvet Elvis at the time of their 2012 release, In Deep Time (review here); both obviously based in Upstate NY — employing a variety of gleefully strange pop textures in a meld of psychedelic folk and bedroom stoner fuzz. Interestingly, the tracklist on the j-card lists the song “Frigidaire,” which closes side two, twice. The download version (not included with the tape, but available on Bandcamp) has it listed with side one comprised of skunk hawk“Water Born Devil,” “High School Ball” and “All My Heart,” and side two “There Will be Another Day, Love” (listed on the tape as “Another Day”), “Lovers of Pompeii” and “Frigidaire,” though in the download version, “Lovers of Pompeii” and “Frigidaire” are the same song. The tape also lists “Stone Embrace” on side two, so maybe there are still some kinks to work out.

My working theory is that “Stone Embrace” and “Lovers of Pompeii” are the same track with a changed title, and that that song is the middle one on side two of the tape, also the most intense of the collection, and that the actual closer of the tape is “Frigidaire,” which has a pulsing bassline and howled hook, which is accidentally listed twice on the tape but doesn’t come in the download. Nonetheless, it’s kind of hard to know what’s where, but however one chooses to listen, there’s plenty to dig into. A rawer form of “There Will be Another Day, Love” appeared on Skunk Hawk‘s 2011 EP, I Fell into the Sea and into the Earth, but other than that, the material here is new, and from the Angelo Badalamenti-style pop drama of “High School Ball” to the church organ-laced rhythmic drive of “Stone Embrace/Lovers of Pompeii,” Coon never relinquishes the experimental edge in the sound. “There Will be Another Day, Love” winds up a highlight for its insistent play of fuzz guitar and keys and Neil Young-via-Arbouretum vocal performance, but the jangly oddity and blown-out singing of “All My Heart” and the subtly-drummed vulnerability of “Water Born Devil” offer likewise satisfying results even if they take different routes to get there. If it’s confusing in a practical skunk hawk skunk hawkway, Skunk Hawk is as proportionally an engaging listen, toying with the balance between fuzzy rock and off-kilter less-frenetic Man Man-style indie songwriting in a manner that few would attempt, and pulling it off while crafting a personality of its own.

One can see easily why after several other releases, Coon might see fit to make Skunk Hawk‘s Skunk Hawk the first physical pressing from the project. I hope it’s not the last. It may be tough to figure out where one is at any given moment, but somehow that makes the listener more receptive to turns like the sneering apex of “Another Day,” “High School Ball”‘s abrasive midsection feedback or the low-mixed currents of effects noise, drones and other flourish sounds that crop up throughout. It’s not a release looking to be fully understood, and that’s one of the most exciting aspects of it.

Skunk Hawk, Skunk Hawk

Skunk Hawk on Bandcamp

Randall Coon on Soundcloud

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Duuude, Tapes! Spindrift, Exotic Detonation

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on February 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

spindrift-exotic-detonation-tape-and-case

Way out west there’s a band called Spindrift, and they’ve been a-ramblin’ for the better part of 20 years now. Back in 2012, guitarist/vocalist Kirkpatrick Thomas — who’s seen ’em come and seen ’em go as regards bandmates — took his troupe of Ennio Morricone-inspired bandoliers out on a five-week run of ghost towns, because, uh, clinical depression? Nah, I don’t know that. Point is, Spindrift ventured out and brought a film crew along and made a movie basically to go with the sounds they make that are — wait for it — inspired by movies. Got it? If it’s a question of the chicken or the egg as to which came first, the movie or the soundtrack, the answer is yes.

spindrift-exotic-detonation-tapeSince then, Ghost of the West has been shown here and there at festivals and special premieres and whatnot, and the soundtrack — also Spindrift‘s eighth and latest long-player — came out in 2013 on Tee Pee Records. It closed with a punked up take on “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” Very cool, lots of fun. Apparently there was some music left over, which is believable both because these cats jam and because some pieces are pretty short, and so the Exotic Detonation EP came to be. It’s a quick one, just three songs and about 11 minutes long, released on a two-sided, clear-blue cassette by Burger Records, but if you’ve ever or never heard Spindrift before, it makes a solid argument for what they do in their particular brand of cinematic desert-hued spaghetti Western psychedelia.

Side one of the tape is comprised of the title-track and “Ghosts Go West,” two shorter more livelier slices that are complemented on side two by the five-minute “High Plains Spindrifter,” which the tape notes also appeared in the film The Legend of the Widower Colby Wallace, to which Spindrift also supplied the score. That cut is something of a departure from the other two, a more minimal, foreboding atmospheric work marked out by Native American flute, sparse, descending guitar and a tense underlying drone — it has a threat of open spaces at night. To contrast, back on side one, opener “Exotic Detonation” starts with a direct port of the theme song to The Twilight Zone and moves into a gallop that, were it not for the punkishness of its drums, would just about make you dig at the grave of Arch Stanton.

spindrift-exotic-detonation-j-card“Ghosts Go West” as a more prominent low end and is in less of a rush generally, but the guitars open wider, echo further. Both it and “Exotic Detonation” are sort of thematic slices, but each is distinguished from the other, and by the time the tape clicks off at the end of “High Plains Spindrifter,” it’s a surprise because it’s so otherworldly and hypnotic. I haven’t seen Ghost of the West, but I’d be interested to know what visuals it accompanies. In my head it’s someplace where things like light pollution don’t exist.

Spindrift are about due for a follow-up to Ghost of the West, whether that’s a studio album with the current or at-least-current-last-time-I-looked-which-was-right-now lineup of Kirkpatrick Thomas, guitarist Thomas Bellier (also Blaak Heat Shujaa and who mixed the first two songs on Exotic Detonation and mastered the release), bassist Henry Evans and drummer James Acton, another soundtrack, or something else entirely. Whatever they wind up doing, they remain a band unto themselves soundwise and as a sampling of that, Exotic Detonation satisfies atmospherically and in its Western loyalist soundscapes.

Spindrift, “High Plains Spindrifter”

Spindrift on Thee Facebooks

Spindrift’s website

Burger Records

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Duuude, Tapes! Lightsabres, Spitting Blood

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on January 7th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

lightsabres-spitting-blood-tape-case-and-patch

 

Like Lightsabres‘ late-2013 debut, Demons (review here), the second full-length, Spitting Blood, is a deceptively complex outing. Released as a limited tape in an edition of 50 copies by HeviSike Records — 25 translucent red cassettes, 25 opaque red, with a foldout j-card and included patch — and already through its second vinyl pressing since releasing in Sept. 2014, it pulls together ranging impulses from garage rock, goth drama, heavy riffing, raw punk and more across its 13-track span, all songs clocking in at around or under two minutes long. A quick listen, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist John Strömshed (who also recorded and doubles in Tunga Moln) takes listeners through an otherworldly passage not quite as dark or extreme as the cover of the tape might indicate, but certainly fitting enough with the notion of cutting to the bone. The buzzsaw guitar tone that pervades “I Can’t Feel It,” which sounds like a hypothetical garage-recordedlightsabres-spitting-blood-inside-j-card Queens of the Stone Age demo circa 1991, and the later post-punk boogie of “Like Shit” slices and dices through the raw mix with little concern, for skin or otherwise.

That is, ultimately, what Strömshed uses to cloak the sonic diversity of Lightsabres. In another dimension, he’d be exploring ever deeper arrangements in limitless budgets of instrumentation and production style, but on Spitting Blood, it’s the mood and stylistic range that’s being explored, pushed outside of the comfort zone of genre. His take on the Misfits‘ “Hybrid Moments” (a personal favorite) is authentic to the original, and somehow, it fits smoothly between the would-be-nihilistic-if-it-wasn’t-such-a-hook of “Fuck Tomorrow” and the head-down low-end punk of “Sonic Death” near the end of side 1. To further the delightfully confounding nature of the tape, each half ends with a sweet, ambient moment of guitar melody, “Dark Matter” wistful and folkish, and album-closer “I Dream of Space” an experimental-feeling brush with psychedelic minimalism at least in part presented backwards. Coming off a song like “No Cash,” which is the longest inclusion on Spitting Blood at 2:36 and toys with drumless pop drama in a near-abrasive blown-out wash of fuzz, it is particularly effective in highlighting just how deep Strömshed goes in his lightsabres-spitting-blood-side-1pursuit of… whatever the hell it might be that he’s after.

But it’s the rawness that makes it all consistent. Like earliest Six Organs of Admittance — and at the same time, not at all like it — Lightsabres‘ consuming rough edge gives even an angrier punker like “Pigs” an underlying intimacy, almost a personalized feel, that works greatly toward lending further individuality to what would in many other contexts be a loosely familiar or at very least more straightforward offering. Coupled with a core of songwriting that will be apparent even on the most superficial of listens as the catchiness of these songs reaches up from the dense tonal swamp in which they reside to bash the listener over the head, that still-developing individualism makes Spitting Blood both a worthy successor to Demons and an enjoyable reveling in proto-grunge that, in a world of cult themes that it eschews, proves legitimately cult worthy. A project of which people will no doubt continue to take notice, and rightfully so.

Lightsabres, Spitting Blood (2014)

Lightsabres on Bandcamp

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records

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Duuude, Tapes! The Hyle, Demo

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on December 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-hyle-demo-tape-tape-and-case

It doesn’t take too long into “Lucifero,” the opening track of Danish doomers The Hyle‘s four-song Demo, to figure out where they’re coming from. Pressed in a limited edition of 150 tapes by Caligari Records — pro-printed thick-stock four-panel j-card, black and clear case, purple cassette with the print directly on it (rather than a label) — the release finds the somewhat mysterious three-piece nestled into the post-Electric Wizard frame of doom, starting out with quiet, spacious, foreboding guitar and opening quickly into a rolling groove topped with a winding smoke-trail of a lead. Echoing clean vocals provide further basis for the comparison throughout “Lucifero” and its side one companion, “Serpent King,” as well as side two’s “Spiritual Sacrifice” and “Children of the Divine,” but if it’sthe hyle (Photo by Rasmus Leo) a sonic likeness noted, let that also stand as testament to The Hyle‘s ability to craft a hook, since “Lucifero” likewise serves significant notice in that regard.

They keep lineup information minimal, but Demo was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jens Dandanell and Caligari has seen fit to keep true to its overarching atmosphere with the tape, the inside liner of which is dedicated to a murky, almost black metal-style photo by Rasmus Leo that complements the All is Visual cover of the release itself. The music is similarly cohesive. It may or may not be The Hyle‘s first release, but Demo sounds like the work of a band who knows what they want out of their sound, “Serpent King” branching out further vocally than “Lucifero” and helping distinguish the band from their central point of influence even as they continue to weave a torrent of low end punctuated by classically swinging drums with an otherworldly psychedelic vibe. “Serpent King” fades out long on a guitar solo to close out side one of the tape, a moment’s respite consumed by droning before “Spiritual Sacrifice” and “Children of the Divine” take hold.

A more fervent stomp provides the resounding impression of “Spiritual Sacrifice,” at least initially until the slow unfolding hypnosis takes hold, pushing farther out into darkened psychedelics and an obscure morass the hyle demo coverof deep tonality. By then, The Hyle‘s nod is locked in, and they do nothing to interrupt it as side two plays out, though they clearly save their nastiest riffing for last. “Children of the Divine” is meaner in tone than its predecessors, if consistent in its overall approach, its abyssal drear and spaciousness marked by a particularly memorable riff and groove-riding vocals, laid back in their delivery, but showing a burgeoning personality that could easily develop over time, layers arriving in a languid call-and-response chorus that coincide with some later guitar harmonics to speak to a stronger sense of arrangement and performance to come as The Hyle move past Demo. As a first release, though, these four songs are confident in their presentation of aesthetic and likewise assured in their craftsmanship. For many listeners, elements will ring familiar, but it’s in the flashes of individuality throughout Demo that The Hyle‘s real potential is unveiled.

The Hyle, Demo (2014)

The Hyle on Thee Facebooks

The Hyle on Bandcamp

Demo at Caligari Records

Caligari Records on Bandcamp

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Duuude, Tapes! Witchstone, Tales of the Riff Riders

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on December 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

witchstone-tales-of-the-riff-riders-tape-and-case

Calgary stoner four-piece Witchstone make no attempt to steer listeners away from their riffy mindset. Their self-released debut full-length, Tales of the Riff Riders, is a four-song cassette that offers front-to-back groove and fuzz, diving headfirst into the Sabbath-and-Sleep school of stoner rock for extended cuts like “Riff Riders Part 1,” “Riff Riders Part 2,” which together make up the 22 minutes of the album’s first half. It’s charming stuff, if familiar. The compressed distortion suits the tape format as well as the translucent purple of the cassette itself suits the band’s aesthetic, and though their approach is straightforward in its way, Witchstone — guitarist/vocalist Sean Edwards, bassist/vocalist Andrew Sanderson, guitarist Ian Lemke and drummer Marcello Castronuovo — have plenty of room in their jams for establishing a sense of personality. That comes through as well on side two’s “Boson Raiders,” an instrumental that’s also the only song here under 10 minutes long, and the concluding “DeepSpace PathFinder,” which uses all of its 16:31 to unfold Witchstone‘s grandest included jam.

witchstone-tales-of-the-riff-riders-caseToss in some caveman howls and cleaner vocal tradeoffs between Edwards and Sanderson, some tempo shifts, quiet-to-loud changes and you probably get a decent idea of where Witchstone are coming from, but nothing about Tales of the Riff Riders comes across as shooting for innovation. They’re preaching to the converted, in a sense, and going for a quality nod — which they get almost immediately — rather than something that’s going to reinvent the genre around them. I have no problem with that whatsoever. “Riff Riders Part 1″ (11:06) moves at a languid but steady roll and sets a forward momentum of lurching groove that lives up to the track’s title. Let there be no doubt they’re riding that riff. Castronuovo gives hints of technical prowess in tight snare fills as “Riff Riders Part 1″ marches toward its midsection break, which leads to an instrumental jam that previews more Wurlitzer inclusion on the finale and leads not quite directly into the no-less-weedian intro of “Riff Riders Part 2″ (10:21). That they’d go to silence between one and the other is curious, since it’s a two-parter, but on tape it feeds directly anyway, and if Witchstone haven’t made their point by the time “Riff Riders Part 1″ is done, then it’s not going to matter.

Tales of the Riff Riders follows Witchstone‘s 2012 self-titled debut EP, and as it’s their first long-player, I’d probably be inclined to give them leeway anyhow, but their kind of repetitive jam-out really doesn’t require it. They’re doing what they’re doing. It’s a stoner band jamming out stoner grooves for stoner heads — none of which actually requires drug use, if you were wondering — and as “Riff Riders Part 2″ unfolds, cleaner vocals into a faster instrumental movement, the first half setting up the run in the second, a slowdown and some echoing shouts leading to the big finish, it’s so much more satisfying to just go with it than to try and analyze the band’s moves that I feel like I’m cheapening the experience even talking about it. I doubt that, if it’s the first stoner rock record you’ve ever heard, you’re going to put on Tales of the Riff Riders and go, “Oh wow, now I get it!” but if you’re in the genre and know where Witchstone are coming from, then these songs are like a comfortable t-shirt you can put witchstoneon and immediately feel at home. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

By the time they get around to the noisy beginnings of “Boson Raiders” after a quick side flip, some vocal effects and added percussion add further character to the proceedings without deviating in mood from the spirit of the two-parter back on side A, and the rolling instrumental groove that emerges is well in league with what’s still to come on “DeepSpace PathFinder” as well, the closer crashing in on a bassline from Sanderson that, along with Castronuovo‘s drums, is the foundation for Tales of the Riff Riders‘ best linear build. The Wurlitzer returns to add atmosphere along with Lemke and Edwards‘ guitars, and vocals arrive shortly before three and a half minutes in, rawer and jarringly forward in the mix, either dual shouts or just dually layered, breaking eventually into a heavy psych-style lead (actually, that might be a cordless drill run through effects pedals), another verse and the solo-topped apex. To Witchstone‘s credit, they probably could’ve ended “DeepSpace PathFinder” on the feedback that takes hold 11 minutes in and had another groove in their pocket like “Riff Riders” one and two, but instead they push forward with a smooth, almost sleazy Sabbath-bred jam, giving one last immersive moment before a sustained rumble and hum leads the way out.

There’s a lot about Tales of the Riff Riders that’s familiar, but between the swing in Castronuovo‘s drums, the righteousness from the guitars and tonal warmth in Sanderson‘s bass, there’s also a lot to dig into. They’re not asking a lot from their audience, and in return, they’re delivering a solid showing of genre with a weird-enough sensibility to pieces here and there to give some hint as to how Witchstone could stand out from the pack down the line. No complaints.

Witchstone, Tales of the Riff Riders (2014)

Witchstone on Thee Facebooks

Witchstone on Bandcamp

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Duuude, Tapes! Stone Machine Electric, Garage Tape

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on December 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

stone-machine-electric-garage-tape-cassette-and-case

Well, Texas duo Stone Machine Electric didn’t call it Garage Tape because they broke the bank and spent half a million dollars recording it, but don’t be put off. While the title speaks to the DIY nature of its origins, Garage Tape actually sounds clear and warm enough to get its message across. Guitarist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer Mark Kitchens tracked the release — which is comprised of two extended improvisations — in the actual garage of the latter with Erik Carson of Tin Can Records, who also mixed and mastered the tape, on July 26, 2014. Their mission, as they put it, was to give listeners a raw look at their creative process, and as time goes on, they seem to be driving further toward making jamming central to that. The chemistry between Irvin and Kitchens is undeniable (their connection has resulted in a number of come-and-gone-again bassists) across each of Garage Tape‘s component halves, duly named on the translucent blue cassette as “Side A” (20:52) and “Side B” (21;39), and the languid, thick-toned rollout that ensues is only given stone-machine-electric-garage-tape-liner-horimore of a demo feel with the analog hiss of a tape beneath.

At one point relatively late into side A, Irvin seems to loop a rhythm track and proceeds to solo over it. That’s a progression that fades out as the first of the tape ends (there’s a bit of silence since “Side B’ is longer) and in again as the second half begins, so yeah, I have no trouble believing that Stone Machine Electric played out the material for Garage Tape live in one whole jam. In that way, breaking it up into two sides actually kind of interrupts the flow for a minute, but honestly, if after the 20 minutes of “Side A” are done, you’re not completely immersed in Irvin and Kitchens‘ hypnotic repetitions, it probably wasn’t going to happen at all. As they push closer to the core of their own creativity, their material becomes more fluid, extended and accomplished, but if you can’t get down with improv heavy jamming, Garage Tape isn’t the place to start, even with Irvin‘s effects experiments throughout, “Side B” seeming to bubble with Echoplex-style pulsations behind its airy soloing and rhythm track to which, to Kitchens‘ credit, the drums hold firm, shifting as the six-minute mark of “Side B” approaches to drive the jam into its next stage. This stone-machine-electric-garage-tape-liner-insideconversation between drummer and guitarist takes place in the several movements of “Side A” as well, and it’s clearly a language that’s developed between the two players over their time together.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who can hang with a 40-minute getdown, Stone Machine Electric‘s Garage Tape cycles through this-could-be-a-song-oh-wait-let’s-try-this riffy movements with an utter lack of pretense and a molten fluidity that a still-limited number of bands in the US seem keen on portraying at all, let alone developing or using as the basis for their approach. That makes Garage Tape a bolder release, though honestly it’s not like Stone Machine Electric have been stifling impulses to-date, whether it’s their 2013 self-titled full-length (review here) or subsequent live outing, 2013.02.07. One could easily see that live set as a manifestation of the same impulse driving Garage Tape — to put as little space as possible between the band’s processes and the listener’s experience — but Garage Tape gets more to the heart of where they’re coming from and what they have to offer those who’d take them on. It’s an admirable goal and an admirable jam, and with their experimental will reinforced via a download called “Side C” that collaborates with Arlington-based noisemaker the owl and the octopus to remix and retool a 20-minute version of the initial Kitchens and Irvin jam, Garage Tape still shows there’s more weirdness to come from the duo, who’ve always excelled in that regard.

Stone Machine Electric, Garage Tape (2014)

Stone Machine Electric on Thee Facebooks

Stone Machine Electric on Bandcamp

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Duuude, Tapes! The Heavy Co., Uno Dose

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on November 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-heavy-co-uno-dose-tape-and-case

Some of the tracks included on Indiana rockers The Heavy Company‘s new pun-titled tape, Uno Dose (or The Uno Dose, I’ve seen and referred to it as both at this point), have been floating around for most of this year. “What’s Eating Harry Lee?” showed up in a video back in January, and “State Flag Blues,” on which Geezer‘s Pat Harrington guests on slide guitar, appeared as a single as well, while “The Humboldt County Waltz” and “One Big Drag” — performed, as they put it, “more or less live” here alongside “What’s Eating Harry Lee?” on side one — come from 2013’s Midwest Electric full-length (review here). That can give Uno Dose something of a hodge-podge feel the-heavy-co-uno-dose-tape-and-linerfrom one half to the next, but honestly, the band’s jams are so laid back and with the context of a release — being a tape EP — it barely matters. Far more important is what the three songs on side two seem to signify in terms of The Heavy Co.‘s overall direction.

Since their 2011 debut EP, Please Tune In… (review here), the trio — now comprised of guitarist/vocalist Ian Gerber, drummer Jeff Kaleth and bassist Michael Naish — have specialized in unpretentious, natural sounding heavy rock. What made Midwest Electric work so well was how the direction shifted more toward open-sounding jam-based material while maintaining the songwriting at the core of the debut. Uno Dose pushes further in both directions, the newer cuts on side two, “El Perdedor,” “State Flag Blues” and “New Song to Sing” grooving out laid back tonal warmth at a comfort level that only enhances the overall listening experience. In the case of “State Flag Blues,” Harrington‘s guitar adds a psych-blues flourish alongside Gerber‘s rhythm track and some surprisingly aggressive, socially-conscious lyrics working in themes of Indiana politics; a classic protest song given a tonal beef-up.

The instrumental “El Perdedor” before it sets up a smooth-paced, jammy vibe, and “New Song to Sing,” which closes out Uno Dose, unfurls a languid funk of starts and stops and grooves with just the-heavy-co-uno-dose-tape-and-tracklistthe slightest undercurrent of wah foreboding. A recording job by Kaleth captures some subtle layering, and a key change in the vocals finds Gerber tapping his inner Mark Lanegan for the bridge to a brief multi-layered solo, The Heavy Co. getting more complex even as they expand the breadth and cohesion of their jams, seemingly stripping their approach down to its most fluid elements. Their particular blend continues to impress even on the first half of the tape’s live renditions, and as they move forward from Midwest Electric I think we’ve just seen the beginning of where their explorations might carry them. In giving a glimpse of the work in progress, Uno Dose earns a hearty “right on.”

The Heavy Co., Uno Dose (2014)

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The Heavy Company on Bandcamp

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