A couple weeks ago, I asked the question above: “What are the 10 greatest stoner rock records?” It was kind of just something I was throwing out there to see what came back. Nothing scientific, pretty vague on what “stoner rock” actually meant as a genre designation. Basically just trying to get a spur-of-the-moment response, like an inkblot test for riffs. First thing that comes to mind.
The response was awesome, so before anything else, thank you to everyone who contributed a list to the original post. I was taken aback by the number of replies that came in — a total 73 comments — and the resultant breadth of records named reads like a wishlist of the damned. Some people were pretty orthodox in their definition of the genre, and some more open in the bands they included, but working from everyone’s lists, I tallied up the votes, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the choices personally (I added my own list as a comment to the initial post, so I won’t bother reprinting it), it was a blast to see what emerged on top. The people have spoken.
I tried to be as fair as I could in the tallying. There were some comments left that were individual songs and not albums, and those I didn’t count, but everything else went in, even if it was only mentioned once, and when someone said, for example, “Melvins – all,” I actually added a tally to everything by the Melvins that everyone else had said. Again, it’s not really a scientific thing polling demographic data, but it was a lot of fun.
Okay, here’s the list:
The Top 10 Greatest Stoner Rock Records Poll Results:
1. Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley (41 votes)
2. Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (27 votes)
3. Black Sabbath, Master of Reality (19 votes)
4. Kyuss,Blues for the Red Sun (18 votes)
5. Monster Magnet,Spine of God (15 votes)
5. Sleep,Dopesmoker(15 votes)
7. Electric Wizard, Dopethrone(14 votes)
7. Fu Manchu, In Search Of… (14 votes)
9. Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age (12 votes)
10. Fu Manchu, The Action is Go (10 votes)
As you can see, some real classics in there, and Welcome to Sky Valleywas far and away the winner, picked by 41 out of the 73 people (myself included), with Sleep and Black Sabbath behind. There were two ties at numbers five and seven, but beyond that, it’s a pretty clear picture of where people are at with their favorites.
What about everything else? Well, it was all counted. I broke all the entries down by number of votes and listed them by artist with albums in chronological order.
Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Now aligned to Clutch’s Weathermaker Music imprint, corporately themed supergroup The Company Band make their latest wager in the form of the five-track Pros and Cons EP. Like the band’s past works – 2009’s self-titled full-length (review here) and 2007’s introductory Sign Here, Here and Here EP – Pros and Cons was produced by Andrew Alekel, and to The Company Band’s credit, aside from replacing bassist Jason Diamond of MIA NYC rockers Puny Human, they’ve managed to hold together a very busy lineup for half a decade now. That lineup shakes down as follows:
Neil Fallon (Clutch): Vocals Jim Rota (Fireball Ministry): Guitar Dave Bone: Guitar Brad Davis (Fu Manchu): Bass Jess Margera (CKY): Drums
Not exactly small potatoes as regards pedigree, and though The Company Band has never toured – they’re doing a few East Coast shows in support of Pros and Cons – their recorded output has remained as consistent in quality as their lineup has stayed stable. Their process seems to be that every so often the musicians get together and rock out some new tracks and then Fallon either tops those songs in the studio with them, as was the case with the LP, or on his own, as is the case with the new EP. Rota, Bone, Davis and Margera recorded with Alekel out on the West Coast, and Fallon put his vocals to the instrumental tracks afterwards, the steady hands of Clutch familiar J. Robbins helming the recording. The result on these five songs is a few strong chorus, some excellent straightforward riffing, Davis’ always stellar bass, and an overall mixture of elements that’s distinct from each individual part while not necessarily separate in terms of genre. Heavy rock persists, is another way of putting it. Rota has long since proved his songwriting acumen in Fireball Ministry, and he’s got excellent collaborative accompaniment in the rest of The Company Band. Perhaps most importantly, as much as it’s been enjoyable to follow the project’s periodic installments since their 2007 first outing, the players’ enjoyment and respect for each other bleeds into everything they create, and that can be heard here from the opening strains of “House of Capricorn” to the fadeout of “El Dorado”’s catchy title line.
Fallon peppers the lyrics of “House of Capricorn” with the kind of tongue-in-cheek corporate-speak that has in no small part defined the course of the band since their inception. It’s almost an exit interview, or the kind of questionnaire one might get upon calling a “How’s my driving” number on the back of a track. The lines, “Welcome everybody to the House of Capricorn/Here’s a short presentation/Please enjoy your stay and thank you in advance for your kindness and participation,” serve as a verse in what I can only imagine is a perfect live set kickoff. A subtly righteous guitar lead is worked into the end, and with its pointedness of direction, “House of Capricorn” is every bit the strong opening statement, following “Zombie Barricades” from the self-titled and the course-setting “Company Man” from the first EP in that regard. The Company Band, it seems, know how to launch a release. Davis’ bass at the beginning of “Black Light Fever” double-times the guitar and commences to launch a profitable groove in the verse, which leads to a grower chorus, Fallon eventually answering himself in a revivalist mode bound to be familiar to anyone who’s gotten down with latter-day Clutch. Moments like that leave me wondering what would happen if Rota was charged with backup vocal duties, what he might be able to do to complement Fallon’s ultra-distinct, ultra-established methods, and how much potential there is there that’s yet been unexploited. Whatever methods they take to get there, The Company Band has never yet failed to produce top-grade choruses, and as the rest of Pros and Cons plays out, it quickly becomes evident that “House of Capricorn” and “Black Light Fever” are, figuratively as well as literally, just the start.
Posted in Features on July 2nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s hot. I mean, seriously hot. Like August hot and it’s only July. Obnoxiously hot. It’s so hot that in fact I’ve already passed out and I don’t even know what I’m typing anymore. Here in the scenic, urine-stank Northeast, we’re mired in a permanent-seeming cloud of humidity the only action against which one can take is to rock and roll as loudly as possible and hopefully sweat enough to cool down. To that end, for the next few weeks, I thought we’d have a series of posts: “The Album of the Summer of the Week.”
We’ll do a few of them until my inevitable death from dehydration. For the first, I couldn’t think of a better start than Fu Manchu‘s classic third album, In Search Of… A record that turned 15 last year, it was the last Fu Manchu outing to feature the guitar of Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano‘s drumming before they left to form Nebula, and there’s something about the über-fuzz of “Missing Link” that feels like a refreshing jump in the ocean. Guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill (who spoke about playing the album live front to back in an interview last year) and bassist Brad Davis turn in classic performances, and aside from being one of heavy rock’s most landmark albums, it also goes great with a sunny day.
You could probably say the same for most of Fu Manchu‘s discography, but In Search Of… is pretty much the archetype they’re working from, so whether it’s the psych guitar on “Supershooter,” the motor-ready groove and Davis‘ boogie bassline in “Regal Begal,” or the none-more-stoned leads of “Strato-Streak,” it’s about as necessary for your summer as a cold beverage and lawn furniture. In case you’re so overheated that you can’t get up and go get the album off your shelf — because you and I both know you already own it — I’ve included the video below for “Asphalt Risin’.” All you gotta do is lift a finger to click play:
Not to overstate it, but these are two of the best stoner rock records ever.
Both released in 1999, they’re of an era where those who played it were still cool with being called “stoner rock bands.” The genre hadn’t yet exhausted its commercial reach, and though Kyuss had already been finished a few years, Monster Magnet had hit it big with “Space Lord” only the year before, so mainstream success was still regarded as a possibility for that which was fuzzed and riffy.
Nebula and Fu Manchu. You couldn’t have one without the other — literally. Guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano split from Fu Manchu after the release of 1996′s In Search Of… and would go on to form Nebula with bassist Mark Abshire (also formerly of the Fu), releasing their first EP, Let it Burn, in 1998. Just a year later, their first full-length, To the Center, became one of the most blissed-out desert rock albums ever, striking a landmark balance between trippy indulgences and memorable hooks. In many ways, it has never been matched.
Meanwhile, Fu Manchu guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill and bassist Brad Davis joined forces with guitarist Bob Balch and drummer Brant Bjork (ex-Kyuss) to issue The Action is Go in 1997. A work of absolute stoner/surfer glory, it set a bar for tone so high that bands today still try to capture the same magic (and usually don’t). The subsequent studio outing from the same lineup was 1999′s King of the Road, on which Fu Manchu further refined their process to a perfect balance of heaviness and pop appeal, inciting many landmark choruses on tracks like “Boogie Van” and “Hell on Wheels.”
Of all the “The Debate Rages” posts so far, I’m most interested to find out how people feel about this one, as it really doesn’t feel that cut and dry to me. Whatever either of these bands has done since (both discographies have their ups and downs), there’s no denying both these records are masterpieces that have helped define what we think of as stoner rock today.
But that said, the point is to have fun with it, so please, leave a comment and let’s have some fun. Thanks in advance.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
As guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill said the band would in our interview this past November, Fu Manchu have announced a slew of tour dates playing their 1997 classic The Action is Go front to back. One can only assume/hope that American dates will follow the European ones that have been made public, and look forward to staring into the “Evil Eye.” If the tour they did playing all of In Search Of… was anything to go by, this should be a blast.
Here’s the poster. Click to enlargify if you don’t like looking at tiny dates:
Posted in Reviews on November 16th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Less than 24 hours after Michael Bloomberg gave an unceremonious middle-of-the-night boot to the protestors at Occupy Wall Street, I parked just blocks away from where the tumult had taken place (by all reports, the Occupiers were back in Zuccotti Park by then) and made my way around the corner to Santos Party House to catch Fu Manchu playing their In Search Of… record in its entirety. It was my third time at the NYC venue this year –see Orange Goblin, see Weedeater — and like at those two shows, I was surprised immediately at how crowded it was. There was a line outside before the doors opened.
I don’t know if that means Santos generally pulls people in, or if there’s something happening around heavy rock that no one told me about — always the last to know — but people milled about early waiting for SoCal trio The Shrine to open he night, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say it looked like a happening scene. Pretty sure it wasn’t sold out, but the room was certainly full for both Honky and even more so for Fu Manchu, and what’s more, people knew the songs. The crowd wasn’t just hipsters, though some of that element was there, and young and old, everyone seemed to be there for the music. I don’t remember the last time I left a show in New York feeling that way.
There was something liberating in flying blind into The Shrine‘s set. I didn’t even know they were from California until I heard them tell someone else on line outside as they stood in front of their van — I had somehow just figured they were local, and perhaps on the bill as a last-minute Brooklynite replacement for Naam, who were too busy preparing for their European tour with Black Rainbows to make it down. That’s what I get for assuming.
Watching them play was like seeing the future of Volcom. They were the youngest act of the night and played like it — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau, bassist Courtland Murphy and drummer Jeff Murray — were excited and excitable. There was enough punkish energy and immediacy in their songs to offset the riffy ’70s swagger, and one of their songs started out so charmingly Sabbathian that I thought of fellow Californians Orchid, who seem to be the reigning American champs for that type of thing. I don’t know if I’d check it out every week, but I wanted to buy their 7″, didn’t, and was disappointed later for not.
In a fantastic bout of self-bargaining, I’d decided to allow myself three beers on the night. I’m on a self-imposed, much-needed dry-out, and anyway, had to drive home when the show was over. So three beers. Three beers for three bands. I’d already had two by the time Honky went on.
Somehow though, in the midst of all Honky‘s Texan charm — two out of the three of them in cowboy hats, they said they were from, “London, Eng-land” and bemoaned the cost of beer — I managed to keep to my limit. And Honky, who haven’t had a record out since 2005′s Balls Out Inn, killed. They served as an excellent transition into the good-times but still ultra-heavy sounds Fu Manchu would elicit, and by the time they were through the first song, I don’t think there was a head there who wasn’t aboard for what they were doing.
Bassist J.D. Pinkus and guitarist Bobby Ed led the charge on vocals, and drummer Justin Collins made sure that as out of hand as things got, they never actually were. Hats were tipped, drinks were sipped: It was boozy, Southern and heavy, and stoic as New Yorker crowds are, Honky was a lot of fun. Last time I saw them was in their native Austin, Texas, and they weren’t in their element at Santos like they were then, but they weren’t far off. Pinkus‘ Butthole Surfers bandmate Gibby Haynes stood on the side of the stage and watched them play, bobbing and smiling with glee as they tore their setlist a new asshole.
These things happened: They sent “Plugs, Mugs, Jugs” out to “Handsome” Joel Svatek, who worked the door at Emo’s in Austin until he was struck by a drunk driver in 2003 (Arclight Records released a tribute in his honor that Honky was featured on along with Mastodon, Amplified Heat, SuperHeavyGoatAss and two discs’ worth of others), covered Pat Travers‘ “Snortin’ Whiskey,” and brought out Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch to close out a solo during “Love to Smoke Your Weed,” Bobby Ed‘s slide guitar putting in some good work beforehand. They were like ZZ Top without any of that pesky class. It was lots — and I mean lots — of fun.
Ditto that for the Fu, who ran through some swift foreplay with “Hell on Wheels,” “Open Your Eyes,” “Boogie Van” and “Evil Eye” before getting down to business with In Search Of… front to back. They were tight, just about all the stops dead on, and it was excellent to hear the songs run into each other differently on stage than on the record, big rock finishes and so forth. “Regal Begal” got things under way, and they went onward to glory. I thought my head would explode halfway through “Neptune’s Convoy.” It was fucking awesome.
The hazard, though, of the complete-album gig is that sometimes there’s some filler, and Fu Manchu have had their share over the years. Some of those songs toward the end of In Search Of... are cool and all, but there’s a reason they’re back there and “Asphalt Risin’” is up front. Still, they kept the crowd with them. Scott Hill was pretty much shouting his vocals by the end, which ruled and underscored his Cali-punk roots, and I don’t know how he did it, but bassist Brad Davis looked like he barely broke a sweat. Dude’s riding some of the fattest grooves ever — period — and to look at him, he could be folding laundry. It’s like he lives in the pocket. It was a sight to behold.
And a sound to hear. Fu Manchu have had some serious players in their lineup over the years. Brant Bjork on drums comes to mind, and guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano who both played on In Search Of… went on to form Nebula. But Bob Balch nailed those solos and added his own flavor to both them and each one of those landmark riffs, and on the purported occasion of his birthday (or so Hill said when telling everyone in the room to buy him shots; he wound up with eight), drummer Scott Reeder was smooth where he needed to be and pushed those older songs further than I thought they could go.
Only bummer was that as “Supershooter” capped the regular set and the band came back out for a two-song encore of “Weird Beard” and “Godzilla,” they didn’t play any material less than a decade old. I know a lot of bands I only wish would do that, but it might have been cool to have one song from either Signs of Infinite Power or We Must Obey. No time, I guess.
Nevertheless, Honky came back out for the rousing take on “Godzilla” that served as just one more reminder of how killer the show had actually been. The melee finished right around midnight, which I can only assume was curfew for Santos, and Fu Manchu sent us poor, hapless souls out into the NYC rain; a long, long way from the Californian sunshine that seems to emanate from their stalwart fuzz pedals.
Good people, classic tunes, good times. I popped open my laptop in my car to get the pictures off my camera on my trip back to the valley, in some misguided effort to save some time for today. It didn’t work out, but whatever. Extra pics are after the jump, as always. Special thanks to SabbathJeff for reviewing the show on the forum.
Posted in Features on November 4th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Released in February 1996, In Search Of… in many ways is the definitive Fu Manchu record. Their third outing behind 1995′s Daredevil and their 1994 full-length debut, No One Rides for Free (several 7″s and compilation appearances showed up between 1990-1993), it was the first time the four-piece perfectly balanced their laid back, surfer’s groove with the SoCal punk and hardcore that inspired them to get their start in the outfit Virulence, whose 1985 demo tracks were released on Southern Lord in 2009.
It would also wind up being the last Fu Manchu album to feature guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano, who would soon splinter off to form Nebula. Alongside bassist Brad Davis, who came aboard for Daredevil (Mark Abshire played on the debut), and guitarist/vocalist/founder Scott Hill, Glass and Romano helped make In Search Of… a landmark of fuzz — one of a short list of heavy rock records you could truly call quintessential.
To celebrate the album’s 15th anniversary, Fu Manchu — now Hill and Davis with guitarist Bob Balch and drummer Scott Reeder — took to the road. Having long abided by their love of touring and putting out records, they endeavored across Europe playing special sets that included In Search Of… front to back. In addition, having completed their two-album deal with Century Media following the albums We Must Obey (2007) and Signs of Infinite Power (2009), they reissued In Search Of… on vinyl in a limited run and promptly sold it out.
This month, they’re bringing that entire-album tour idea Stateside, and as Scott Hill reveals in the interview that follows, there may be more like-minded touring in their future as they also secure the rights to and reissue other records through their own At the Dojo imprint. Hill discusses some of the practicalities of touring and making the band self-sustaining, and reflects on the 15 years since the release of In Search Of…, while also looking ahead to the inevitable next installment in the Fu Manchu catalog to come.
I’d intended to close out last week as usual with a Frydee clip. And then to do a post in the earlier part of Saturday, but then by Saturday afternoon, just decided screw it, I’d wait until today and open this week instead of close the last one. I don’t know if it makes sense, but I don’t think it matters either.
Whether or not I go to see them tonight at the Mercury Lounge (it’s up in the air right now), tomorrow I’ll have my interview with CT from Rwake online. I’d wanted it to go up last week, but I just didn’t have time. Stupid job and real life distracting me from posting. The nerve.
So that’s up tomorrow, and Sungrazer just sent back their emailer too, so I might get that up this week as well, again, if there’s time. I’ll also have a review coming in a few short hours of the Earthride gig at the Acheron in Brooklyn this past Friday night with Archon and When the Deadbolt Breaks, and some other whathaveyou.
I hope this week to review discs from Eggnogg, Groan/Vinum Sabbatum, and Hull, and I’ll have a track tomorrow from the new Isole record and one Thursday from the new Samsara Blues Experiment. I was also hoping to have a new podcast up this weekend, but, well, you can see how that went. Should be this weekend. If you’ve been waiting, I hope you’ll take comfort in the fact that, in the delay, I purchased Kingdom Come/Sir Lord Baltimore by Sir Lord Baltimore, and I definitely plan on including something from that once it arrives.
Thanks to everyone who pre-purchased a HeavyPink 7″ so far. I’ll have more on that this week as well.
Nothing gives me that “born too late” feeling like buying old promo CDs on the internet. Finding bits and pieces of buried treasure here and there, this store and that store, is all well and good, but it’s a different experience. Promo CDs have pretty much no value other than as a collector’s item. Even full-album promos, if I’m buying it, chances are I already own the final version of the record. And radio singles and stuff like that? Shit, I’m watching an eBay auction right now for a radio single that’s one song from Clutch‘s Pure Rock Fury. And I’m pretty sure I already have the single! I’m still watching that auction though. Like a fucking hawk.
Last week on a whim I shelled out $20 for a Fu Manchu jewel case promo disc with two “unreleased” songs from the California Crossing era. The copyright date on it is 2002.
Now, I don’t care how much you like Fu Manchu, that’s too much money to pay for two songs. Granted, I was inebriated, but even so, I probably should have taken my finger off the trigger before clicking “Buy it Now.” It’s my own fault, for sure — but here’s the worst part — when it came in the mail yesterday, I was excited.
I didn’t even remember how much I paid for the damn thing until just now when I fired up my eBay account and looked.$20? For two songs? I don’t know who to be madder at, the seller or me for being dumb enough to make the purchase in the first place. Probably me, but seriously, I got the disc, opened the envelope and was just stoked on the fact that it was Fu Manchu songs I didn’t already own. Price wasn’t even a factor. Not even a little bit.
This wouldn’t be a problem if I, you know, had money, but I don’t. I just have collector’s impulse, and the longer I live with it, the more I wonder how come no one’s developed a pill for it yet. Seriously. We live in the age of Restless Leg Syndrome — a completely fabricated “disorder” — and I’m supposed to believe they wouldn’t market medication to people who spend money irresponsibly? Come on.
Fortunately for me, I think The Patient Mrs. has all but stopped paying attention entirely, which is undoubtedly for the best. And when I put the CD on earlier to check it out, I was pretty into the groove of “Planet of the Ape Hangers” (a title I can’t even think about without automatically adding “dot blogspot dot com” in my mind), which was a bonus track on the Japanese version of California Crossing, and “Breathing Fire,” which was on the Japanese and European versions of 1999′s King of the Road, but left off the American in favor of “Drive.” I don’t know if I was into each song $10 worth, but whatever. I didn’t need to be a grown up for anything this week anyway.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 24th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Venerable Californian heavy rockers Fu Manchu are celebrating the 15th anniversary of their classic third album, In Search Of…, by touring it. They’ll be playing the whole record front to back for the first time, first in Europe, then in the US. There are a lot of bands doing this kind of thing these days, but screw it, In Search Of… rules. I’d happily see that show.
Southern California’s heavy fuzz rock legends Fu Manchu will celebrate the 15th anniversary of their major label debut, In Search Of… The hardworking group will be undertaking a headlining tour with a set comprised of the entire album from start to finish. Many of these songs will be performed live for the first time ever.
On March 1, Fu Manchu will make In Search Of… available as a 180-gram vinyl reissue on the band’s own At the Dojo Records worldwide. The band will also be selling the reissue at these shows as well as on CD. On March 2, Fu Manchu will launch its European trek in the UK.
“I can’t believe that it has been 15 years since we recorded In Search Of…,” states Fu Manchu vocalist/guitarist Scott Hill. “We are stoked to be playing these tunes for the fans and will be doing a few of them for the first time ever and maybe the last.”
The band intends to replicate the classic album experience in upcoming tours with subsequent albums and their companion vinyl reissues. Fu Manchu will also tour the US for “In Search Of…15 Years” later in 2011. Details are expected to be announced in the near future.
I haven’t done one of these in a while (it might actually be since last Thanksgiving), but today’s the perfect opportunity for it. Maybe you’re stuck in the house with your entire family and you want to get away for a little bit — no better way to do it than with the clips below.
For the puritan in all of us, there’s the creepy heavy ’70s rock of Salem Mass, for the doomer, The Obsessed live in 1992. Steven Seagal shows up in the Masters of Reality video. Christopher is bound to fill your psych needs, and if it gets more stoner rock than Fu Manchu doing “King of the Road,” I don’t know how. And finally, if you don’t feel like listening to or watching music at all, there’s Ian Gillan telling stories about his time in Black Sabbath. Hope you dig it and Happy Thanksgiving (or whatever day it is when you see this).
When last I checked in with Wallingford, Connecticut‘s Redscroll Records, I walked out of there with a cassette copy of Torche‘s Meanderthal Demos. It’s a purchase I still consider the right move to have made, and as my most recent trip there was most likely going to be my last until Springtime, I figured I’d make the best of it. A thorough search of Redscroll‘s used section has done me right on numerous occasions, and this latest was no different. Dig this haul:
Bottom, Made in Voyage ChromeLocust, Chrome Locust Clutch, Jam Room Fu Manchu, Daredevil Jethro Tull, Aqualung Lost Breed, Save Yourself Lost Goat, Equator My Dying Bride, Turn Loose the Swans Natas, Delmar The Obsessed, The Obsessed Spiritual Beggars, Ad Astra
A few of those CDs I already own, but there are difference. The Fu Manchu is the original Bong Load Records version, where before I only had the reissue, and though it’s my third copy of Jam Room — probably my least favorite Clutch album — it’s the River Road Records pressing, and I think they only made six of them or something, so I was stoked to find it. Ad Astra is the Music for Nations digipakedition, and Chrome Locust is in a jewel case, where I’d only ever seen the digipak, so I grabbed that as well. The Jethro Tull had a sticker on it that it was the first CD issue, which made it too good to pass up. If you’re wondering, by the way, whether or not I believe everything I read on stickers stuck to jewel cases: Yes. Yes I do.
Lost Goat is on Man’s Ruin and I didn’t already own it, so that was a given. The Natas record I thought might have been a different catalog number than mine, but no, it’s a genuine double. I was bummed out on that until the other night when I thought to myself, “Gee, I sure would like to listen to the first Natas album,” and I actually had a copy on me because I was holding onto it to write about today. Maybe one just wasn’t enough.
Of the two Hellhound Records purchases, the highlight is unquestionably The Obsessed‘s The Obsessed. I had the Tolotta reissue previously, but you can’t beat the original. I had seen it for sale on Redscroll‘s eBay store, and asked if I could buy it right there in the shop. They were more than accommodating. The other Hellhound album, Lost Breed‘s Save Yourself, was the US version, where I’d only had the European before. Or maybe that’s reversed. I don’t know. The catalog numbers and back cover art are different. Apparently that’s enough for me these days.
I legitimately hadn’t owned the Bottom or My Dying Bride CDs (or the Lost Goat, which was meh), and I was stoked especially to hear the former, which didn’t disappoint. Crazy to think it’s been five years since Bottom put out their last album, but I suppose it has. Hearing their debut for the first time, it was easy to tell what Rise Above, Man’s Ruin and Small Stone all saw in the band, and by that I mean killer riffs and lethal groove. An excellent capper for an even more excellent haul.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Here in the States, today is Memorial Day, which is basically yet another excuse for everyone to get their jingoism going and glorify war, blow fingers off with fireworks and blah blah blah. What it means to me is the official start of grilling season. True, I hate the heat and I have in fact been grilling all winter, but now it’s the season, which means eating outside, which means grilling music. Killer.
Because I’m all about sharing, here are my seven favorite barbecue records, presented in the order in which they should be played:
1. Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. What this says is, “I am here to grill. I don’t care what else happens in the universe, I am going to have a good time and that is that. Now rock with me as I cook this meat.” Perfect starter album.
2. C.O.C., Wiseblood. Like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, it’s a fun collection of songs, but Wiseblood is a little thicker sound-wise. It’s great to sing-along to, and the groove seems to run throughout the whole album, so it’s consistent too. A definite necessity.
3. Greenleaf, Agents of Ahriman. By now you’ve had a few beers and it’s time to let loose. Greenleaf‘s Agents of Ahriman is catchy, rocking and has a freedom to its sound that seems to be made for the outdoors.
4. Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf. I confess, I love this record regardless of the food and/or climate surrounding. I try to take it everywhere, so it comes out for grilling for sure. “Go with the Flow?” Come on, man. Can’t beat that.
5. Fu Manchu, King of the Road. The last of the real rockers on the list, it’s great to finish the meal with some righteous fuzzery, and for that, there’s nowhere to go but to Fu Manchu. If you’ve got ice cream for dessert, this’ll work with it.
6. Monster Magnet, Spine of God. You’ve rocked, you’ve stuffed yourself, you’re probably more than a little intoxicated and you feel like if you ever even see another burger, your heart will explode in your chest. Clearly you’ve yanked on the spine of god and it’s time for some penance.
7. Masters of Reality, Flak ‘n Flight. This is for your cleanup. When you’ve drunkenly insulted all your relatives or friends and they’ve left and it’s just you and the mess. You put this one on and sing along as you throw away paper plates, beer bottles and the bloody packaging that once contained the meat now blocking up your colon. It’ll help ease the pain.
I’ve also found that Enslaved‘s Ruun album is great for cleanups, so if it persists longer than Flak ‘n Flight lasts, you might want to have that on-hand for reinforcements. Or maybe you just want to sit on a plastic chair in the dark for a while. It’s good for that too.
Of course, if you’re in it for the full-day barbecue experience, you’re going to need more than seven albums, but hopefully this is a decent start. If you have any longtime favorites, leave a comment and let me know about them. You can never have too much grilling music.
Posted in Features on April 2nd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Desert rock luminary Brant Bjork has been embroiled in a prolific solo career for over a decade now, and with his latest album, Gods and Goddesses (released through his own Low Desert Punk imprint; the reincarnated version of what was once Duna Records), the former Kyuss and Fu Manchu drummer and successful multi-instrumentalist has changed his approach somewhat, focusing on higher production value and a tighter range of execution. In short, he’s gone back to his straightforward rock roots and blended the aesthetics of early ’70s hard rock (Deep Purple, Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, etc.) vinyl releases with his trademark desert approach, incorporating elements of surf, funk, soul and jazz for good measure.
My review of the album is here, so I won’t go on about it, but as someone who’s followed Brant Bjork‘s progression over the course of his solo works, it’s hard not to be excited about the material and dynamics Gods and Goddesses presents. Joining Bjork on the album are bassist and longtime friend Billy Cordell (Yawning Man), guitarist Brandon Henderson and drummer Giampaolo Farnedi, and the unit sound both crisp and organic thanks to the production of Ethan Allen (The 88s, Luscious Jackson), with whom Bjork has, as he explains in the interview, been waiting to work with for years.
He and the band are currently embarked on a European tour that includes a stop at the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands, but before he left, Brant Bjork took some time to discuss over the phone the change in his approach to making records that preceded Gods and Goddesses, founding Low Desert Punk, his time spent living in Spain and much more. Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on January 26th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
For anyone who wasn’t on hand to witness it the first time, Virulence might just seem like a couple kids screwing around with SST worship West Coast hardcore. So aside maybe from Greg Anderson having dug them way back in the mysterious period of history known as the “mid-‘80s,” what’s the deal with Southern Lord releasing the compilation If This Isn’t a Dream… 1985-1989now?
The deal is that Virulence, aside from rolling in at the tail end of their scene’s golden age, were the direct predecessor of Fu Manchu, featuring original Fu members Scott Hill, Greg McCaughey, Mark Abshire and Ruben Romano (the latter two who would also go on to Nebula) as well as vocalist Ken Pucci, who according to the extensive liner notes included with the CD, went to college. He now has a new group with Abshire called No More Saints. For those who haven’t heard the band — talking about Virulence — their sound took the raucous hardcore of Black Flag and wound up blending it with thicker tones, particularly in the guitar, and spreading it out over tracks both extended and not. By the end of their short time together, it was pretty clear they were progressing past their simplistic, innocent beginnings into a different kind of band entirely.