Seems like a good time to be in Gozu. The Boston-based four-piece issued Revival (review here), their fourth and deadliest outing yet, earlier this summer via Ripple Music. Last month, they headed out on a choice weekender with the reformed Scissorfight and Backwoods Payback, and this past weekend they took part in what I think is arguably the best heavy rock festival lineup the US has ever seen at Psycho Las Vegas, sharing a bill with everyone from YOB to Alice Cooper to Beelzefuzz. Oh, and later this month they make their way over to Europe to tour with Holy Grove from Portland, Oregon, on a run put together by Heavy Psych Sounds.
No shortage of occasion, is what I’m saying, and if you want to see a band rise to the occasion, look no further than the video of their full set from the Hard Rock Cafe‘s Vinyl Stage. A number of Psycho Las Vegas full sets have begun to show up already, and I might post more as I stumble on them, but even with some technical problems, Gozu absolutely kill it. The momentum they build through “Mr. Riddle,” “Nature Boy” and “Big Casino” is infectious, and closing out with the D’Angelo cover “Brown Sugar” — a bonus track on the vinyl version of 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) on which they collaborated with Lo-Pan vocalist Jeff Martin — is a particularly groovy touch to a set that spends so much time raging, if soulfully.
These guys have spent the last few years becoming one of the most powerful heavy rock bands as part of a long lineage for their hometown, and clearly their efforts have started to pay off. I hope they keep going, because the more they do, the more heads are going to turn.
Tour dates follow the video. Enjoy:
Gozu, Live at Psycho Las Vegas
Thanks Psycho Las Vegas!! Thanks to everybody who came out to see us!! This is our set from Friday. Super fun, might be one of our best sets we’ve ever played with backline issues and all. We end the set with a D’Angelo cover of Brown Sugar. Thanks again!!
We are very excited to announce that we are heading back to Europe with the amazing Holy Grove!! We look forward to seeing you all soon!! Ciao!! HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Ripple Music
GOZU + HOLY GROVE Euro Tour!! 28/09/2016 IT Rome-Init 29/09/2016 IT Erba – Centrale Rock 30/09/2016 IT Ravenna – Bronson 01/10/2016 AT Feldkirch – Villa K 02/10/2016 AT Salzburg – Rockhouse 03/10/2016 IT Trieste – Tetris 04/10/2016 IT Zero Branco – Altroquando 05/10/2016 CH Basel – Terrorsamba 06/10/2016 DE Mannheim – 7er Club 07/10/2016 DE Munster – Rare Guitar Shop 08/10/2016 BE Liege – La Zone 09/10/2016 DE Dresden – Chemiefabrik 10/10/2016 DE Koln – Limes 11/10/2016 DE Leipzig 12/10/2016 DE Berlin – Urban Spree 13/10/2016 DE Stuttgart – Keller Klub 14/10/2016 CH Olten – Coq D’or 15/10/2016 CH Frauenfeld – Kaff
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Roadsaw news is good news. The Boston heavy rock magnates have announced that they’ll hit Mad Oak Studio to work with producer Benny Grotto next month in order to record their eighth album, the awaited follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here), which will be released — and here comes the twist — on Ripple Music. Formerly the quintessential Small Stone band, Roadsaw will work with Ripple for their new one, the label having already released material from heavy punkers White Dynomite, whose lineup features Roadsaw‘s Tim Catz and Craig Riggs.
Ripple continues its upswing and will have the new Roadsaw album out early next year, as the PR wire informs:
Boston Riff-Masters, Roadsaw, Sign World-Wide Deal with Ripple Music – New Album out Early 2017
Ripple Music is proud to announce the signing of legendary riff-masters, ROADSAW to the label’s hard and heavy roster. The veteran Boston motor-stoner act still consists of the decade-long classic line up and will be heading into the illustrious Mad Oak Studios with producer Benny Grotto to lay down a potent new batch of songs, due out early 2017, that are sure to please old fans and turn on new ones.
For the unfamiliar ROADSAW invite you to climb inside their jaded jalopy and careen headlong into their amplified analog landscape. From the shores of British electric blues, across the pond to America’s sonic 70s stomp; down to the Southern swamps, thru the New York groove, straight into heart of California’s psychedelic desert. ROADSAW’s long strange trip is a virtual history of heavy riffs.
ROADSAW’s often turbulent career includes 7 albums , numerous compilations, and a smattering of hard-to-find singles. The band has shared stages big and small on both sides of the Atlantic with comrades like Orange Goblin, Fu Manchu, Queens Of The Stone Age, Nebula, Scissorfight, Karma To Burn, Black Label Society and many others. Together with Ripple, the band looks forward to adding a big bold exclamation point to this already impressive resume. US and European tours are being booked for spring 2017, including an appearance at London’s Desert Fest. Spirits are high for the much anticipated return of one of riff rocks most loyal disciples.
Like cockroaches in a post apocalyptic fall out, ROADSAW rise once again. Having survived every storm, war, trend and taste, ROADSAW simply refuses to die. Now, they’re signed to one of the world’s leading heavy rock, stoner, doom and heavy psych label’s, Ripple Music, and it’s a certainty that mayhem will follow. Look for limited edition vinyl, CD’s and digital to be spread around the world in Spring 2017.
So there you have it. New year. New music. New label. The ‘Saw remains the same.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The teaser clip below provides a quick first glimpse at the new album from Boston heavy rockers Cortez. Titled The Depths Below, the full-length was put to bed nearly a year ago, having been recorded by the esteemed Benny Grotto at Q Division Studios, and it will serve as a welcome follow-up to their 2012 self-titled (review here), as well as yet another record to look forward to before the end of 2016, which seems to have packed as many releases as possible into its second half. Fair enough. One more never hurts, particularly when it brings riffs like those of the sort that Cortez proffer. The song in the clip is called “To the Skies.”
Announcement of their signing to Salt of the Earth Records for the new release follows here, courtesy of the PR wire:
CORTEZ SIGNS WITH SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS!
SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is proud as all hell to announce the signing of Boston riff lords CORTEZ! This veteran group of heavy rock fuzzdealers have really outdone themselves with their latest offering…“The Depths Below”. Truth be told, this album is going to knock you on your ass! All killer, Zero filler. Track after track of sonic bliss.
Having built up a loyal fan base both stateside and abroad over their decade plus existence, CORTEZ have really honed their craft and brought their rock game to a whole new level. Crushing tones, killer hooks and creative dynamics are skillfully woven throughout this blistering nine song release… “The Depths Below” is guaranteed to sink its teeth into you on the first listen.
“The Depths Below” was Recorded and mixed by studio guru, Benny Grotto (Scissorfight, Aerosmith, Lo-Pan) at Q Division, Mad Oak Studios, and Moontower Recording Studio making it the kind of album you will want to both blast from the largest of speakers, as well as repeated listens on a pair of headphones. There is so much packed into these mountain sized grooves!
So with that, we welcome CORTEZ to the SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS family. With open arms and riff pummeled eardrums!
Posted in Reviews on July 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Phantom Glue run through a chaotic gamut of modern heavy on their third album, 776, but come out of it with a cohesion and stylistic fluidity that is very clearly their own. Released on CD through Negative Fun Records and engineered and mixed by Alec Rodriguez at New Alliance, the Boston four-piece’s latest comprises seven tracks of bombast-fueled heft, marked out by dense tonality, rhythmic tension, the harsh vocals of guitarist Matt Oates and bassist Nicholas Wolf and a snare sound from Kyle Rasmussen (since replaced by Dana Filloon) that recalls Hull‘s 2011 swansong, Beyond the Lightless Sky, in its impact, and lead work from guitarist Mike Gowell that seems to add spaciousness to what can otherwise become a claustrophobic thrust. To wit, the opening salvo of “Ion Cloud” and “Hundred Hand” find Phantom Glue launching at full pummel with two tracks under four-minutes, finding a space between Old Man Gloom‘s still-cerebral cacophony and Celtic Frost via High on Fire-style thrash.
It’s a genuine release when “Hundred Hand” moves into its solo section, even if Rasmussen keeps the bounce steady on drums until the riff starts in with Voivod-ish bends and oddity-worship. Freneticism is nothing new for Phantom Glue, as their 2013 second album, A War of Light Cones (review here), and their 2009 self-titled debut (review here), set forth, it’s a crucial element to what they do. What 776 brings to this form — aside from a conceptual lyrical foundation painting impressions of the American present from 1,200 years in the past (and some untold number in the future at the end) — is a progressive flow front to back that demonstrates the maturity that the band has come by honestly during their time together and the consciousness underlying the onslaught, which at times feels inescapable.
A Voivod vibe continues into “Somatic,” with Oates and Gowell playing off each other with dissonant notes and odd-timed riffing that seems to be a challenge Wolf and Rasmussen are only too ready to take on, but the pacing is slower, and the vocals bring to mind some of the drawling growls of Beastwars frontman Matt Hyde, almost completely indecipherable to the point of becoming another instrumental impression more than a lyrical one. As Gowell tears into a spacious lead behind, Oates‘ shouts add to the atmosphere and largesse of the track, so that while slower, it maintains the intensity of the first two cuts and leads smoothly into “A Worker-less Mill,” the centerpiece of 776 and maybe a little bit what it’s all about.
Here’s what I mean: At five minutes long, “A Worker-less Mill” is essentially one linear build working in multiple stages. The fact, however, is that Phantom Glue — all four of ’em — pull this off with such tension that by the time they move from the chugging first part to the thudding second, you feel like your head is about to explode. It’s the band using the right tool at the right time, and when they move into the payoff riff, a breakdown chug complemented by low wash of keys or effects or I don’t even know what, there’s a real sense of catharsis. The riff fades, but the surrounding noise stays and holds court for the last minute or so, Phantom Glue still harsh with feedback when providing listeners a moment of relative respite.
The 7:13 “Suttungr” recalls the Beastwars-style sludge of “Somatic,” but with a more patient attack in its first half and a heft that seems to be as much about the lumbering rhythm as about the ambience surrounding. It grows more intense in the second half, churning and thrashing through an instrumental section that leads to an extended guitar solo, but they bring “Suttungr” back to its chorus and more grueling plod smoothly to finish out, setting up a stark contrast with “Hocheim’s War,” which essentially strips down and reverses the tempo structure, so that it starts of faster and more avant/prog-metal and hits the brakes as it moves into its second half. Unsurprisingly, the end result is shorter — they spend more time playing fast; that will happen — but still satisfying, both on its own and in context with “Suttungr” before it, giving a sense of Phantom Glue‘s purposefulness to what can at points feel like noise for its own sake.
They save the doom for last as closer “Gog is Dead” begins with a dirge somewhere between a grandfather clock and warped guitar. More likely the latter, but you never know. It’s never quite as simple as a roll, but “Gog is Dead” makes its way toward the crash and stomp of its second half, the feeling of providing 776 as a whole with its payoff is palpable. They carry that forward — huge, open at last, marked by interplay of clear notes and obscure guitar wash — until they pass the six-minute mark, and then suddenly cut, as though the future just ended. Phantom Glue have never been an outwardly accessible band. They’ve never been about hooks, or trying to make their sound friendly, or anything like that. What they’ve done instead is to build a progressive sludge metal that, while constructed from familiar elements, has been shaped into something unrecognizable from where it started. That is no minor accomplishment, and neither is this record.
“Richard the Elder” is the second single that Boston heavy rockers Hey Zeus have issued this year behind “Caveman” (premiered here), which came out in May. The hard-driving New England traditionalists have yet to disappoint in either their hooks or the force with which they’re delivered, and “Richard the Elder” is no exception. It’s a right-on rush, in and out in just over three minutes of sans-frills heavy rock and roll, recorded live and engineered by vocalist Bice Nathan at New Alliance Audio in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Nathan is joined in the band by bassist Ken Cmar (also of Wonderdrug Records), guitarist Pete Knipfing and drummer Todd Bowman (both ex-Lamont), and recording live suits them remarkably well. For a style so lacking in pretense and so heated in its intensity, the setting could hardly be more perfect, and though Hey Zeus don’t have a record out or even an EP — they did release a split 7″ with White Dynomite in 2014 (review here) and seem to be working their way toward one sort of larger offering or another with this ongoing series of single tracks — they’ve clearly found a method that works for them, and that’s obviously a significant start.
The video is somewhat manic — GoPros hooked up to instruments in motion and so on — but that only suits the song itself, which you’ll almost have to hear twice before you can really feel like it’s begun to sink in even vaguely. Clip was directed by Michael Cimpher and follows here along with a couple live dates Hey Zeus have this month.
Hey Zeus, “Richard the Elder” official video
Richard the Elder by Hey Zeus Recorded live in studio. Tracked and Mixed by Bice at New Alliance Audio-Cambridge, MA Mastered by Dean Baltulonis at Wild Arctic-Portsmouth, NH Directed by Michael Cimpher Edited by Michael Cimpher and Bice
Hey Zeus live: 7/15 O’Brien’s Allston MA w/ Black Helicopters and Wolfsmyth 7/22 Higher Ground Burlington VT w/ Scissorfight, Murcielago and The Road Trash Band
“Return” is the first audio to come from Boston post-metallers Sea since their initial demo (review here) arrived early last year, and it brings with it the news that the four-piece will tour Europe next month alongside German trio Weedwolf, with whom Sea will also release a new split LP. It’s Sea‘s first tour, and it runs two and a half weeks through Northern Europe — Germany, Scandinavia, Finland, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania — and like their demo was, it’s an ambitious run for a still relatively-new band, but particularly with the split due, it seems like it’ll be a fitting introduction to the band for the continent. While I don’t know what their plans are for the longer term, it doesn’t seem like this will be their last incursion abroad.
But it is their first, and that’s something special. A new video comprised of public-domain psychedelic footage brings the premiere of “Return,” and with recording by Chris Johnson (one can hear the crisp fullness he brought to Summoner ringing true in this track as well), the new song brims with vitality and stylistic purpose, shifting from Isis-style churn into blackened push as propelled by drummer Andrew Muro as vocalist/bassist Stephen LoVerme (Olde Growth) adjusts his vocals to a scream to match the more furious riffing of guitarists Liz Walshak (ex-Rozamov) and Mike Blasi. Most importantly, they make it make sense, and by that I mean Sea don’t simply juxtapose different aesthetics. They create a flow across “Return”‘s eight-plus minutes that builds gracefully in intensity and speaks to an emerging patience within their sound.
And the aforementioned archive video does fit the vibe well. Please find the video for “Return” below, followed by the credits and Sea‘s tour dates with Weedwolf, which kick off on Aug. 17.
Sea, “Return” official video
The lyrical content of the song is sort of about the cyclical natural of the universe, rebirth, intrinsic knowledge, etc. So it’s kind of appropriate that the source footage was culled from a 1969 psychedelic film about Zen Buddhism. On to the production credits…
Recorded and mixed by Chris Johnson (Summoner, Sand Reckoner) Mastered by James Plotkin
From a forthcoming split LP with Weedwolf from Leipzig, Germany Due out in August
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Gozu go supporting their new album, Revival (review here) and Holy Grove go supporting their also-new self-titled debut (review here), but I feel like the part that really makes it isn’t just that they’re both going to Europe, but that they’re doing it together. The Boston and Portland, Oregon, acts will make an exceedingly complementary pairing, I think with a thread of soul influence running between them and each still pushing out heavy grooves, Holy Grove with a nod toward doomly roll, Gozu with an uptick in intensity particularly on some of their newer material. If I had the money and could get the time off, I’d ask to tag along, but turns out I’m broke and not that pleasant company to keep anyway, so maybe for the best I don’t make the trip.
In any case, the full run is presented by Heavy Psych Sounds, which also released Holy Grove‘s album — Gozu‘s is on Ripple Music — and I reached out to Gaff da Rula, aka Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and Holy Grove vocalist Andrea Vidal, for quotes about the tour to go with the dates, and both were kind enough to oblige.
Have at you:
“I heard they wanted to schedule the World Cup around it but they were worried people would be too hopped up on the boogie,” says Gaffney. “God damn. Wanna thank Gabe from Heavy Psych Sounds for hooking it up and lathering the clubs because without that angel, none of this would have happened. Also thanks to Ripple for putting out the album. Taking two bands that love each other’s music and setting them on fire together, I don’t know about you, but I like it hot, perfect blend of heat and auditory cuddling, woooo! I feel like Rick Flair, baby!”
Offers Vidal: “As far as heading abroad, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity to tour Europe with our brothers in Gozu and with the support of Heavy Psych Sounds. We’re really looking to forward to playing in places where much of our earliest support was from — and leaving it all on the stage night after night.”
Gozu & Holy Grove on tour: 28.09.2016 IT Rome 29.09.2016 IT Erba-Centrale Rock 30.09.2016 IT Ravenna-Bronson 01.10.2016 AT Feldkirch-Villa K 02.10.2016 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse 03.10.2016 IT Trieste-Tetris 04.10.2016 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando 05.10.2016 CH Basel-Terrorsamba 06.10.2016 DE Mannheim-7er Club 07.10.2016 DE Munster-Rare Guitar Shop 08.10.2016 BE Liege-La Zone 09.10.2016 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik 10.10.2016 DE Koln-Lime 11.10.2016 DE Leipzieg 12.10.2016 DE Berlin-Urban Spree 13.10.2016 DE Stuttgard-KellerClub 14.10.2016 CH Olten-Coq D’or 15.10.2016 CH Frauenfeld-Kaff
Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This one’s for all the marbles. Or at very least tiddlywinks. The last day of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review begins. I’ll admit that when I was planning this out — started soon after the last Quarterly Review was finished in early April; that one ran late, this one has run early — I decided to take it easy on myself the last day. Still 10 reviews, so not that easy, but in terms of what’s included today, a lot of is stuff I feel pretty comfortable talking about, whether it’s bands I’ve covered before (which a lot of it is, now that I look at the list) or whatever. If you’ve been keeping up this week, thanks. I hope you found some cool music.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
From the Finnish hotbed of Tampere, Atomikylä made a striking impression with their 2014 Svart Records debut, Erkale (review here), giving a take on psychedelic black metal that was immediately and truly their own in its balance of elements. The band, featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, return with doom-jazz fervor on sophomore full-length, Keräily, with three songs covering yet-unnamed stylistic reaches and offering a get-to-the-studio-and-see-what-happens experimentalism to go with their plotted course on 18-minute opener and longest track (bonus points) “Katkos,” which is followed by the building horn freakout “Risteily” (9:15), from which a space rock push takes hold on drums, resulting in maddening guitar swirl – because of course – and closer “Pakoputki” (6:55), which consumes with a darker thrust and more up-front blackened vibe that still holds onto some of the psychedelia in its layers of guitar. Keräily progresses effectively from Atomikylä’s debut and highlights just how individualized they are as a group. They continue to have the potential to do really special work, and the argument is easy to make they’re already doing it.
As opener and longest track (bonus points) “Beasts of Prey” careens toward its apex finish near the 12-minute mark and the title-track begins is crashing, harmonized intro before moving into an Alice in Chains-via-stoner verse, the distance Poland’s Sunnata cover on their second full-length, Zorya, begins to really unveil itself. There doesn’t seem to be a genre within the heavy sphere that’s off limits. They never get into death metal, but heavy rock, doom, psychedelia, prog, sludge – it’s all in play at one point or another in Zorya’s five-track/50-minute run. The reason the album works and isn’t just a haphazard mash of styles is because Sunnata, who’ve been active in Warsaw since the last decade, make each one their own and thus bend genre to suit their purposes and not the other way around. They continue to impress through the rush of “Long Gone,” the airy expanse of “New Horizon” and the more brooding closer “Again and Against,” conjuring effective flow from what in less capable hands would be disparate components.
I have kind of a hard time with White Dynomite. Not musically – the Boston five-piece’s new EP, Action O’Clock (on Ripple) typifies their accessible punk rock; a reminder of a time when the style used guitars – but conceptually. Their lineup features bassist Tim Catz and vocalist Craig Riggs (on drums) of Roadsaw, as well as guitarist Pete Knipfing (also Hey Zeus, Lamont), vocalist Dave Unger and guitarist John Darga, and while I can’t argue with the charm of a track like “Werewolf Underwear” or “Evil Ballerina” — the lyric “Tutu woman, too too much for me” alone makes Action O’Clock worth the price of admission, let alone “I got fangs in my pants” from “Werewolf Underwear” – but I haven’t yet been able to listen to the band in the context of it having been six years since the last time Roadsaw released an album, and thinking about years passing, priorities and whatnot. They sound they’re having a blast all the way through, and I won’t begrudge them exploring other influences, I guess I just miss that band.
Pittsburgh newcomers Horehound formed just last year, so one might go into their self-titled debut full-length thinking it’s an early arrival, but in an unpretentious seven-track/33-minute collection of straightforward but engaging doom rockers, the five-piece demonstrate a clear idea of what they want to do sonically. While it may not represent where they’ll ultimately end up as a band, its songs sound fleshed out in terms of direction and the resultant feel on the release is much more album than demo. So be it. A particular highlight is “The Waters of Lethe,” on which a sweeter melody emerges in the guitar and vocals, but neither will I discount the low-end crunch and vocal call-and-response in closer “Waking Time” or the more uptempo thrust of second cut “Sangreal.” Not that Horehound don’t have room to grow, but their initial offering preaches well to the converted and should give them a solid foundation to work from in that process.
Beyond the Hollow Mountain is the first full-length from Portuguese mostly-instrumentalists Sulfur Giant, who bring together influences from classic progressive rock, psychedelia and heavy rock so that when they dip into Iommic riffing on “Vertigo,” it’s no stranger than the peaceful jamming of “Whisper at Dawn,” which follows. Friendly if not exactly innovative, Sulfur Giant’s debut makes its chief impression with the four-piece’s instrumental chemistry, which brings about an easy flow within and between the eight tracks, which having already been issued digitally will see vinyl release later this year on Pink Tank Records. It’s hard to ignore what organ adds to “Evermore,” but “Sea of Stone” sneaks in some vocals amid its thicker-riffing and Sungrazer-style exploration, and “Magnolia” and the galloping “Unleash Fears” follow suit, so Sulfur Giant have a few tricks up their collective sleeve they hold back from the initial roll and gallop of the opening title-track. All the better.
New Planet Trampoline, Dark Rides and Grim Visions
Never say never in rock and roll. From Cleveland, Ohio, the psych-rocking four-piece New Planet Trampoline called it quits in 2008, leaving behind an unfinished album. After coming back together for 2014’s The Wisconsin Witch House EP, the ‘60s-stylized outfit set themselves to the task of finishing what became Dark Rides and Grim Visions, basking in the glow of early Floyd, Beatles and others of the ilk while keeping a harder edge to songs like “Grim Visions” and a healthy cynicism to “We’ll Get What We Deserve” and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard-laced closer “Haunted as Fuck.” Of the several more extended tracks, the nine-minute “Acts of Mania” is the longest, and provides suitable patience and atmospherics to stand up to its scope. All told, Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a formidable journey at 13 songs/68 minutes, but after more than half a decade away, it’s hard to hold New Planet Trampoline having their say against them, particularly when that say is as lush and dreamy as “This is the Morning.”
With their second LP, Cold Winds (on Crusher Records), Gothenburg’s Hypnos seem to be betting that the next step in the retro game is NWOBHM. They make a convincing argument; it’s kind of how it went the first time around, and their songwriting offers a top-notch look at the moment where Thin Lizzy bounce became Iron Maiden gallop, as on second cut “I’m on the Run,” just minutes after opener “Start the Hunt” featured a flute solo. Broken into two sides, each one works its way toward a longer finale – “Det Kommer en Dag” (7:23) on side A and “1800” (8:32) on side B – but sonic diversity and changes in song structure throughout do much to keep Cold Winds from feeling overly plotted, and like their countrymen in Horisont, Hypnos offer a seamless melding of classic heavy rock and metal, soaring and scorching on “Descending Sun (Unrootables White)” and swinging and swaggering immediately thereafter on “Cold September,” both accomplished with unwavering command.
Texas boogie rockers Honky were last heard from with 2012’s 421 – which I’ll assume is the “going to 11” equivalent for getting high – and their eighth outing, Corduroy, finds bassist JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) and guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) hooked up with drummer Trinidad Leal of Dixie Witch and Housecore Records for the release. To call is business as usual for the underrated outfit in the classic swing and grit they hone would only be a compliment, songs like “Baby Don’t Slow Down,” “Bad Stones” and the harmonized “Double Fine” offering soul as much as push, ‘70s influences given a modern kick in the ass throughout as a swath of guests, including Melvins drummer Dale Crover, come and go, perhaps none making their presence felt as much as Rae Comeau, whose work on “Bad Stones” makes that song a highlight – not to take away from the a capella cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” here retitled as “Mopey Dick,” that closes. Chicanery ensues, booze flows, good times are had for those who’ll have them.
Distinguished as on centerpiece “The Rambler” by their use of organ amid a semi-retro heavy boogie style, French five-piece Cheap Wine recorded Sad Queen – as the cover art says – live for Celebration Days Records. It’s somewhere between an EP and album, and strips away some of the individual track length of their 2013 debut, Mystic Crow, in favor of maximizing the energy put into each piece, the subdued “Intro” and “Opening” that start sides A and B, respectively, aside, though as “Opening” feeds cleanly into the quiet, airy and soulful beginning of the title-track, even that seems to have a tension that builds toward its eventual release, different from the shuffling raucousness of the post-“Intro” opener “Cyclothymic” maybe, but palpable nonetheless. They close somewhat melancholy on “Yesterday’s Dream,” but the complementary guitar of Valentin Constestin and keys of Ahn Tuan aren’t to be missed, nor how well work in concert with vocalist Mathieu Devillers, bassist Valentin Lallart and drummer Louis Morati.
Gurt & Trippy Wicked and teh Cosmic Children of the Knight, Guppy
The UK heavy scene excels at not taking itself too seriously. To wit, Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight get together for a split (on When Planets Collide for CD and HeviSike cassette) and, they call it Guppy and the first two songs are “Owlmegeddon” and “Super Fun Happy Slide.” It kind of goes from there. Recorded together, sharing a drummer and collaborating on the centerpiece, “Revolting Child,” it’s basically two outfits who are close friends coming together to have a good time, but that doesn’t take away from Gurt’s sludgy intensity on “I Regret Nothing” or the nodding heavy rock Trippy Wicked hold forth on closer “Reign.” Taking its title from the two band names put together, one can only wonder if this will be the last conjoined offering Gurt and Trippy Wicked will make, or if there might be a whole school of guppies in the future. Frankly, this sounds like too good a party to only throw it once.