Posted in audiObelisk on April 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Though its production is modern, the roots of Sugar Fly‘s “Blind” are almost exclusively classic. From the heavy rock groove that rolls the track out to the crooning soul of the vocals that top it, the L.A. outfit (a studio trio, a five-piece live) call to mind decades past and unload classy vibes and assured performance over a quick four minutes. The band was formed late in 2014 by bassist Collyn McCoy, also of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, and drummer Noah Lifschey (who’s done studio work across genres in composition, production and playing), who soon joined forces with powerhouse singer Tia Simone to record “Blind,” which is probably one of the most professional-sounding demos you’ve ever heard.
I’ve said on many occasions that I do not know how Los Angeles sustains life, let alone creative life, but that these parties would manage to find each other and craft something together makes a fervent argument for the city’s continued existence. To think of sidling up to some dim-lit bar with the sun still outside as it must perpetually be at midnight in Southern California by now — climate change, the shifting rotation of the earth, dust bowl apocalypse and all — and find Sugar Fly slingshotting attitude at unsuspecting would-bes is an image easily conjured by “Blind,” which seems to owe as much to Soundgarden as to Betty Davis and other underheralded badasses of yore; funk and heavy are treacherous elements to meld, Sugar Fly make it work.
If you can dig it, they’re setting themselves up here for a crucial blend of styles. Imagine a slow-groove turn, heavy tones and lounge mood, Lifschey crashing down hard while Lunar Electric‘s Dre DiMura tears into some wah and Simone pushes her register through the comfort zone and into that place where the guttural side of soul comes from? Yeah, it’s a beginning, but “Blind” sets the stage for that, and it’s worth checking out the start before we find out where it’s all headed.
Track’s on the player below, followed by a bit of promo-type background on the band snagged out of their EPK. Enjoy:
Sugar Fly is a ROCK N’ SOUL band with the charm of scuffed wooden bars, whiskey soaked cigars and bootleg rye. Formed in late 2014, Sugar Fly blends the best qualities of classic rock, West Coast funk and Motown soul and injects those familiar sounds with an infusion of modern heavy rock.
Sugar Fly was conceived by Collyn McCoy (bass) and Noah Lifschey (drums), after performing together on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s TV show, HitRecord. Fueled by a steady diet of thrift store vinyl, vintage tube amps and Kentucky bourbon, the two sequestered themselves to Noah’s studio and birthed the nascent sound that had been swimming in their heads. All that was missing was a singer. But not just any singer would do. They needed a vocalist with the power of Aretha, the passion of Etta, and the prodigious balls of Bon Scott. And that’s when by some manner of miracle (i.e. the internet), Tia Simone dropped from the Cloud. Together these three filled their bubblin’ cauldron with equal parts Stax and Black Sabbath, a dash of Tina Turner and a pinch of Led Zeppelin, to summon the sounds of Sugar Fly from the ether.
Sugar Fly’s live band is composed of Tia Simone (lead vocals), Noah Lifschey (drums), Collyn McCoy (bass), Dre DiMura (guitar) and Esteban Chavez (Hammond organ/analog synths).
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Very interested to hear what Los Angeles desert rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa come up with for their next album. Their second record and first full-length on Tee Pee, The Edge of an Era (review here), is just about two years old at this point, and with their having recently switched out bassists, bringing on board Tom Davies, formerly of Nebula and currently also of The Freeks, I’m expecting good things to come from the three-piece, who manage to blend technical intricacy and psychedelic vibing in a way that detracts from neither.
Their next LP, yet untitled, is currently in pre-production, which I guess is something one does when working with the likes of Matt Hyde, who’s about as “real producer” as real producers come while still retaining an understanding of the sonically weird. No word yet on a release date, but the trio have put the new instrumental track “Anatolia” to use in a band-performing-in-a-dark-room video by longtime associates Andrew Baxter and Cole Jenkins, and while I’m pretty sure the recording is live, the sound is studio-clear so it’s easy to get a feel for what they’re doing in the relatively quick four-minute track.
And as you make your way there (the video’s at the bottom of this post, if I haven’t said that yet), take special note of the fact that the announcement of the clip’s arrival comes with the band mentioned as Blaak Heat only, no Shujaa. They haven’t said anything one way or another that I’ve seen, but I can’t help but wonder if a name change isn’t in the works or if one’s already taken place. Will let you know when I know.
BLAAK HEAT unleashes new song and video, “ANATOLIA”
Los Angeles-based, American-British-French psych rockers BLAAK HEAT have released footage of a live performance for a new song, “Anatolia”. Shot at Helena Markos’s Tanz Akademie by BLAAK HEAT official filmmakers Andrew Baxter and Cole Jenkins, the video is the band’s first officially released material since 2013.
BLAAK HEAT recently announced the arrival of new bass player Tom Davies (Nebula, The Freeks) and is currently in pre-production for its new album with Grammy Award winning-producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones).
Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
When I finished yesterday’s reviews, I felt suitably beat, but as ever, there was a bit of catharsis to it too. Today’s pile takes us all the way to the other end of the world and back again to my (relative) back yard, and then loops around one more time for good measure with a few stops in between. While I’m coherent enough to form sentences, you’ll pardon me if I get right to it.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
If the name Motherslug or the cover art look familiar, it’s because the Melbourne double-guitar five-piece initially released their self-titled EP late in 2012 (review here). This NoSlip Records release, however, takes the tracks from that, couples them with cuts from Motherslug’s subsequent outing, a 2014 two-tracker called Three Kings in Darkness, and remasters both for vinyl as one 39-minute full-length. There’s a bit of progression evident in the newer cuts, “Trippin’ on Evil” and “Three Kings in Darkness,” but the LP smartly arranges them so that each ends its respective side, led into by two songs from the self-titled, so the impression is more that Motherslug are expanding their riffy, Southern-style sludge rock sound – which is still true, it just initially happened over two releases – rather than they’re mixing and matching different recordings. By the time you get to either, however, Motherslug will have already bowled over you with rolling, thick sludge riffs that could just as easily have come from Maryland or Virginia as Australia.
Allston(e) newcomers Worshipper make an accomplished-sounding debut with Black Corridor/High above the Clouds, two self-released tracks that mark their first release as a band. The two-guitar four-piece balance classic metal riffs and doom tendencies with soaring-style clean vocals and fast-moving grooves, as much Candlemass as High on Fire. “Black Corridor” wows with its solo but more with its hook, guitarist John Brookhouse and bassist Bob Maloney sharing vocals while Alejandro Necochea adds guitar and Dave Jarvis draws it all together on drums, and “High above the Clouds” adds some choice early-Dio “Egypt”-ology to the mix. It’s a sense of grandeur that’s neither overblown nor mishandled by the winding track, which coupled with its predecessor demonstrates Worshipper’s firm grip on a style melding heavy rock and metal into a take of their own, and a progression beginning that seems to have a definite idea of where it wants to end up. One can’t help but look forward to finding out.
Hard to think of a band from Portland, Oregon, these days as being underrated, but Ape Machine fit the bill all the same. The four-piece of vocalist Caleb Heinze, guitarist Ian Watts, bassist Brian True and drummer Damon de la Paz played Germany’s Freak Valley festival as part of a 2013 European tour in support of the then-recently-released Mangled by the Machine (review here), their third album and Ripple Music debut, and accordingly, most of what shows up on the 48-minute Live at Freak Valley comes from that record, later album cuts like the swaying “Strange are the People” and stomp-slide-fueled “Ruling with Intent” leading to a run through Mangled by the Machine’s first five tracks, in order, to close the set. With a cover of Deep Purple’s “Black Night” (something they also did on their second record) in tow with others from their first two records, Live at Freak Valley makes a solid intro to a group more people should know.
A compilation that draws from Churchburn’s 2013 self-titled and two tracks recorded late in 2013/early in 2014 – opener “Embers of Human Ash” and the subsequent “V” – The Awaiting Coffins revels in its extremity of doom and no-light-shall-pass atmospherics. The duo of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Suzuki (ex-Vital Remains, among others) and Ray McCaffrey (ex-Sin of Angels) issue the CD/LP via Armageddon Shop, and while there are plenty of droning moments, acoustic interludes and stretches of depressive noise, the Rhode Island outfit is primarily brutal. Suzuki, joined on vocals for the first two cuts by guitarist Kevin Curley and bassist Mike Cardoso, leads a pummeling charge in “V” that’s more death than death-doom, but far be it from me to quibble. For “Come Forth the Swarm,” the Sin of Angels cover “Crown of Fallen Kings” and “Kneel upon Charred Remnants,” it’s just McCaffrey and Suzuki, and the dynamic is different and the recording rawer, but the bleak territory being explored has a similar root. Add on an unlisted cover of Celtic Frost’s “Return to the Eve,” and The Awaiting Coffins is even more of a sure thing.
Instrumental save for some samples, spoken proclamations and field recordings, Thrust/Parry was released by Belgian outfit OMSQ in limited numbers via Navalorama Records on CD to mark the occasion of a late-2014 UK tour, and it showcases an outfit of rare sonic adventurousness. Progressive, heavy structures unfold across three overarching movements in the 68-minute whole of the album, which at any moment makes shifts between dense riffs and crashing drums and exploratory washes of noise sound not only smooth but fitting, culminations like “North Sea” and 16-minute closer “4:48” as much about finishing a story as providing a sonic payoff, each cut serving not only the movement of which it’s component, but also the overarching flow of the record as whole. Stylistically wide open an unhindered by genre constraints, Thrust/Parry is a challenging listen that satisfies in proportion to how much one is willing to shift along with its changes in mood and style. Evocative throughout, it proves more than worth the effort.
Swiss five-piece Unhold trace their lineage back to an early-‘90s demo, but Towering (on Czar of Crickets) is their fourth album since their 2001 full-length debut, Walking Blackwards, and their first offering in seven years since Gold Cut in 2008. Something of an unexpected return from the Bern troupe, then, but not unwelcome, their Neurosis-influenced post-hardcore/post-metal finding renewed expression in the moody unfolding of “I Belong” or the tense bellow of the later, keyboard-infused “Hydra,” moments of triumph in ambient/crushing tradeoffs of “Voice Within” as guitarists Thomas Tschuor and Philipp Thöni step back and pianist Miriam Wolf takes lead vocals for a movement almost Alcest-like in its melodic course. Drummer Daniel Fischer and bassist Leo Matkovic are less a foundation than part of Towering’s nodding, modern-proggy whole, and it probably works better that way in smoothing out the various turns in extended pieces like the title-track or “Dawn,” which provides the apex of the album with the calmer “Ascending” and “Death Dying” as an epilogue.
Three words: Rock and roll. With Boston four-piece The Heave-Ho, it’s less about subgenre and more about paying homage to a classic ideal of straightforward expression. Dead Reckoning, the debut full-length from the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Pete Valle (ex-Quintaine Americana), bassist Keith “Barry” Schleicher (ex-Infernal Overdrive), drummer Dylan Wilson and lead guitarist Lawrence O’Toole, is eight songs (plus a closing radio edit, presumably for WEMF) of unpretentious rendition, steady in its delivery of grown-up-punker hooks and barroom rock such that, when Valle calls for “guitar!” prior to the solo in “Buffalo,” it’s entirely without irony or cynicism. Would be hard for “Thirsty Jesus” not to be a highlight on its title alone, but the lyrics also hold up. With a clean production style, centerpiece moment of clarity in “Afraid to Die,” and particularly riotous finish in “The Line,” Dead Reckoning has little use for stylistic nuance and a confident delivery across the board. Drunk as it is, it does not stumble.
Though Adelaide three-guitar six-piece Crypt title their debut release Kvlt MMXIV, it’s actually a Jan. 2015 release, a half-hour’s worth of stoner chicanery pressed up in a recycled-material digipak with a fold-out liner poster – the lyrics, yes, are written in a rune font – and the disc held in place by a piece of cork. The presentation of the songs themselves is no less off the wall, the lumbering “Green Butter” taking hold from the crust-raw opener “Siberian Exile” with unhinged low-end, drum stomp and some deceptively subtle airy guitar, and the weirdo blues howl of the following “These Last Days” only broadens the scope. Seems fair to say “expect the unexpected” since so much effort has been put into throwing off the frame of reference, but as the fuzz of “Idle Minds” and ambience into righteous groove of closer “Dead River” show, Crypt have more working in their favor than variety for its own sake, namely a fire in their delivery that burns away any slim chance this material had of sounding stale.
Ferocious death-doom meets with melodic atmospheres on Oceanwake’s second album, Sunless – a title that’s not quite a full summary of what the Finnish five-piece have on offer throughout the four tracks/44 minutes. Opener “The Lay of an Oncoming Storm,” also the longest cut at 15:35 (immediate points), shifts back and forth between lumbering brutality and sparse guitar atmospherics, and while one waits for the inevitable clean vocals that would put Oceanwake in league with countrymen Swallow the Sun, they don’t come yet. Instead, the track explodes into crashes and screams. Ten-minute closer “Ephemeral” holds the most satisfying build, but between the two, “Parhelion” (9:09) and “Avanturine” (8:03) manage to remind of the particular melancholic beauty of death-doom – including some of those melodic vocals – and how resonant its contrast of light and dark can be when held together by an emotional core as resonant as that of Oceanwake. Sunless is gorgeous and devastating, and not necessarily alternating between the two.
While one struggles not to be skeptical of any release in this day and age that opens with a “Radio Edit,” I won’t discount the quality of songwriting L.A.-based Lunar Electric display throughout their self-titled EP. Now a duo driven by guitarist/vocalist Dre DiMura, the band is highly-stylized but brims with a classic heavy rock swagger in “Bread and Circuses” (the aforementioned radio edit) and the subsequent “Moonlight,” a steady swing emerging in layers of heavy riffing and DiMura’s own croon, pushed ahead by the straightforward drumming of Kaleen Reading and the low-end heft of bassist Geena Spigarelli. They make a solid trio across “Moonlight” and “Sleepwaker,” which follows with its chugging break foreshadowing closer “Crossfire Child” (video premiere here) while building a tension of its own, though it seems unlikely that whatever Lunar Electric do next will have the same lineup because of geographic spread. Too bad. While young, and somewhat brooding, Lunar Electric nonetheless offer up a work of marked potential in their EP’s quick 17-minute span.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last time we heard from Los Angeles trio Wake Up Lucid, they were issuing a heartfelt invitation to “Get Fucked.” That song (streamed here) is the nine-minute penultimate jammer on the half-hour Gone with the Night EP, which is set to release on March 31 through the band’s own WUL Records. And as one of the six tracks on the offering, it’s no less a standout than it was on its own, but as fate has it, “Get Fucked” is only one slice of the stylistic whole of Gone with the Night, and Wake Up Lucid — cousins Ryan, Ian and Jamie Baca — range even further outside genre bounds on songs like “Don’t Fear” and “White Collar Love,” incorporating elements out of Americana, grunge, fuzz punk and shoegaze for an enticing and varied approach that offers full-length flow across what’s still billed as a shorter release.
Easily-enough split into two vinyl-ready sides, Gone with the Night opens with the immediate rush of the aforementioned “White Collar Love,” with its tense chugging and buzzsaw leads, punker snarl and underlying moodiness. Some sonic similarity to the post-Queens of the Stone Age garage-isms of Elvis Deluxe‘s 2011 outing, Favourite State of Mind (review here), but it’s a passing thing, and by the time they’re into “Let it Roll,” Wake Up Lucid are on a more languid trip, a rolling groove persisting for the 4:50 span that transitions smoothly into the subtly organ-laced ramble of “Don’t Fear,” as pretty as it is threatening. “I Want” follows, reigniting the sexualized energy of the opener, and serves more or less as a manifesto for the mindset from which the entire EP emanates, drenched in attitude and wah guitar, thrusting into a crash-wash apex that closes out the first half of the release with a fade of feedback.
Side B goes every bit as far, if not farther, aesthetically, but in the span of two tracks. The extended “Get Fucked” opens, and a 5:45 title-track closes, but between the two there’s a significant amount of ground covered. “Get Fucked” remains a serious, significant jam built on a foundation of gorgeous bass tone and wide-open drum swing. It has its upbeat moments, builds to a head early and shifts through verses, but the primary impression is a heavy hypnosis, thick on vibe and getting into a wash of noise in the second half before transitioning back to its central groove in the last minute and fading into the quieter strum of “Gone with the Night” itself. The closer teases an explosion but is ultimately restrained in the spirit of “Don’t Fear”‘s rural grunge, electric guitar layered in to fill out the atmosphere more than to serve as a focal point, as well as to make the final statement in a soulfully fuzzed last solo.
Their varied approach turns out to be one of Wake Up Lucid‘s best-used assets on Gone with the Night, but that shouldn’t necessarily discount the individual performances either. Whatever level you want to take it on, the EP moves with deceptive efficiency, and for something that’s only half an hour long, it’s awfully easy to be caught up in its changing currents.
Please find Gone with the Night in its entirety on the player below, followed by some more background on the band courtesy as ever of the PR wire, and enjoy:
On their upcoming fourth release Gone With The Night, Los Angeles gutter rock trio Wake Up Lucid puts it simply: “Give us something real, something we can feel. Or get fucked.” This statement resounds as both rejection of fakery and pursuit of honest music, which have remained Wake Up Lucid’s only guidelines for writing and performing throughout the half decade’s worth of their existence. The new album was produced by Icarus Line’s Joe Cardamone at his studio, Valley Recording Co. in Burbank and is being released March 31 on WUL Records.
Gone With The Night is a sampling of the fruits of the group’s determined efforts to develop further as song-writers, offering songs that are much more focused and realized, and diversely dynamic — a departure from the band’s usual m.o. of grit and groove hammered-out at high volumes — while still maintaining the inimitable Wake Up Lucid vibe that has crept around L.A. for the past few years.
Their authenticity and immediacy as writers and performers is rooted in their experience of growing up together in the same extended family—a musical one to boot. After pursuing their respective musical aspirations in other outfits, they formed their own some six years ago, distilling their now matured, ripened abilities into the woozy juggernaut that is Wake Up Lucid.
You might not know Los Angeles’ Lunar Electric is a three-piece to look at their new video for “Crossfire Child,” but you can hear the bass in the recording underneath guitarist Dre DiMura‘s solo in the second half of the song and thickening the start-stop chug of the bridge. In the clip, however, mostly what we see are DiMura and drummer Kaleen Reading, who though they’re based in L.A. recorded Lunar Electric‘s self-titled debut EP, from whence “Crossfire Child” comes, in Brooklyn and shot the video in Philadelphia. Their bass player for the recording, Geena Spigarelli, hails from Austin, Texas. Because of course.
Though somewhat geographically unhinged — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either — Lunar Electric are much clearer in their purpose, as “Crossfire Child” demonstrates across its six minutes. Directed by Grayson Kohs with camera work by Aaron Dye (DiMura is also listed as producer), the video jumps back and forth between a chess match DiMura seems to be playing against himself, a tarot reading and performance footage of DiMura and Reading in a studio space, amps stacked behind, cinderblock in front of what would otherwise surely be a roving kick drum. The track itself starts out intense but unfolds to a more open verse, soaked in attitude and groove, building through the chorus en route to its breakdown and the aforementioned solo, the central figure of which speaks to some more aggressive influence underlying “Crossfire Child”‘s swagger.
Or maybe that’s just youth. Either way, you’ll know the part when it hits. Sorry to say, but the chess match doesn’t end well for DiMura. The song does. I’m not sure if Spigarelli is still in the band or not, but one imagines these things will become clear over time. Let’s start at the beginning, and that’s “Crossfire Child,” the video for which you’ll find below, followed by some bio info off the PR wire.
Lunar Electric‘s Lunar Electric EP is out May 12 on Electric Maiden Recordings. Enjoy:
Lunar Electric, “Crossfire Child” official video
Lunar Electric is the eponymous, debut EP from the Los Angeles-based three piece rock ‘n’ roll band being released digitally May 12 on Electric Maiden Recordings, via iTunes, BandCamp, SoundCloud, and Amazon among other outlets.
The three band members cut their musical teeth accompanying a wide range of renowned artists including the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes, Gloria Gaynor, Dee Snider and Jon Anderson of Yes. The Lunar Electric was born out of the ashes of Resin Gypsy, a duo formed by guitarist/vocalist Dre DiMura and drummer, Kaleen Reading in 2011. DiMura and Reading met in 2008. Originally conceived as a studio project, the duo began performing live following the release of their self-titled debut album in 2012. Resin Gypsy was an independently released, energetic basement recording produced by DiMura. The group formally disbanded after just eight months, but the pair continued to write and record together.
In September 2014, Dre and Kaleen reentered the studio, this time accompanied by bassist Geena Spigarelli of Austin, Texas whom Reading had worked with in 2010. Featuring three tunes from Resin Gypsy’s repertoire and the brand new song, “Crossfire Child” Lunar Electric is a powerhouse 17-minute barn-burner with enough raw power to send you into a state of panic and euphoria all at once. Between the ultra-tight grooves provided by Reading, Spigarelli’s one-of-a-kind bass lines, and the innovative guitar work of DiMura, this trio’s debut proves distinctive and powerful enough to make even the most jaded stand up and take notice.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
News today from the camp of Cali-based psych-desert rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa, who’ve announced the addition of bassist Tom Davies. Known for his work in Nebula and The Freeks, Davies replaces Antoine Morel-Vulliez and arrives as the band is making preparations to enter the studio with Matt Hyde (Slayer, Monster Magnet) to track their yet-untitled third album, which will also be the follow-up to their first Tee Pee Records LP, 2013’s The Edge of an Era (review here). Not bad timing by any means.
Davies joins Blaak Heat Shujaa drummer Michael Amster and guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier — also of Spindrift and Sonny Simmons‘ psychedelic backing band, Moksha Samnyasin, whose late-2014 release, Nomadic (review here), will get many more plugs before I’m through with it — in a new version of the three-piece, whose last record followed the 2012 Tee Pee EP, The Storm Generation (review here), and whose experimental bent has led them to craft longform works of natural-toned psychedelic sprawl. As that EP and The Edge of an Era were recorded by Scott Reeder, whose heavy rock pedigree in Kyuss, The Obsessed, Goatsnake and most recently Fireball Ministry precedes him, one wonders what might come of sessions with Matt Hyde, who, yeah, has a Grammy under his belt (for a Jonny Lang record), but is much more known for more straightforward, commercial styles of sound.
Time will tell. No solid release date yet for the album (they might want to record it first; that’s fair), but here’s the announcement of Davies‘ entry into the band:
Psych rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa announce new album, new bass player Tom Davies (Nebula)
British bass player Tom Davies has joined the ranks of Los Angeles-based, Paris-born psychedelic rock trio Blaak Heat Shujaa. Know for his tenure with heavy psych mavericks Nebula (Sub Pop, TeePee Records), Davies is also active in The Freeks and LANTVRN.
Blaak Heat Shujaa have started pre-production on their third, full-length album. Grammy-winning producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones, Monster Magnet) will produce what is expected to be the finest collection yet of Blaak Heat’s signature pieces, a magical and unequaled blend of reverb rock, middle-eastern riffs and heavy psychedelia.
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.
Since 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.
“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.
Way back in October — in the before times, the long, long ago — I reviewed a three-song self-titled EP from Los Angeles trio Lords of Beacon House as part of a batch of radio adds. Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t so much the three-piece’s first EP as a teaser for their eight-song full-length debut, which is coming soon through Hom Hom Hom. Whoops. Whatever you want to classify those tracks as, “Distant Thunder,” “Seven Days” and “Cool Water Blues” made a remarkable opening argument in favor of Lords of Beacon House, steeped in heavy-’70s-via-’10s West Coast boogie and naturalist roll, their groove rich in tone and unpretentious in swing but still ready to be sold over the counter as a mustache-growing vitamin supplement.
Good news followed soon behind when Psycho California announced that Lords of Beacon House — the lineup of Amir Ouaddi, Peter King and Michael Lopez — would take part in its illustrious lineup this May 15-17 along with Earth, Om, Sleep, Pentagram and quite literally dozens of others, and that the band would have their full self-titled (as in, not just three tracks) out on Hom Hom Hom before they took the stage at The Observatory in Santa Ana. A worthy goal. In the meantime, the trio have a new video for “Distant Thunder” directed by Gregory Ontiveros and I’m happy today to be able to host the premiere.
If it’s your first encounter with Lords of Beacon House, some of their ’70s stylization might at first seem familiar, but if you listen to the track there’s actually little about it to call retro. The sound is clear and modern — a bluesy foundational bassline leading the way for the chug-riffing guitar and drums to follow — and in its hook and heft, the song has more in common with the new breed of skater heavy than the proto-metal that many will no doubt cast as its major influence, but so it goes. Whatever you want to call it, the track is catchy as all hell, and whether you’re listening just to this video, or to the three songs thinking they’re a standalone release when they’re definitely not that at all or just making your way through in anticipation of the album’s arrival, I think you’ll find the first impression satisfying.
Lords of Beacon House have a handful of California shows booked this month. Dates follow the video below. Enjoy:
Lords of Beacon House, “Distant Thunder” official video
Lords of Beacon House upcoming shows:
02.14 4th St. Vine, Long Beach, CA 02.18 Los Globos, Los Angeles, CA 02.20 Ham & Eggs, Los Angeles, CA 02.21 The District, Redlands, CA 02.24 The Blue Lagoon, Santa Cruz, CA 02.25 El Rio, San Francisco, CA 02.27 TBA, Santa Cruz, CA 02.28 Stork Club, Oakland, CA