Review & Track Premiere: Plainride, Life on Ares

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

plainride life on ares

[Click play above to listen to ‘El Coyote’ from Plainride’s Life on Ares. Album is out Sept. 21 on Ripple Music.]

One doesn’t want to generalize — exceptions to rules and whatnot — but basically, if you’ve got a record with a song called “Battletoads” on it, that’s probably something I want to hear. The 8-bit NES reference is but one manifestation of German heavy rockers Plainride‘s affinity for ’90s-era vibing. Their second album, Life on Ares, arrives some three years after their debut, Return of the Jackalope (review here), the Cologne four-piece effectively press (and hold) the reset button on their approach to recording, keeping a more studio-minded feel rather than tracking live and so on. That can be heard in the massive roll that ensues in “El Coyote” after the intro “A Fiery Demise (Prologue)” and the turn to jazzy jabs that follows from there. On every level, the 10-track/43-minute Life on Ares is a more detailed, more nuanced outing, and as it will no doubt be many listeners’ first time hearing the band as it’s also their debut on Ripple Music (which also reissued Return of the Jackalope last year), the first impression it makes is one of hard-hitting pro-sounding heavy rock and roll.

The deep-toned fuzz and gruff vocals of Max Rebel are out in front of songs like the aforementioned “Battletoads” and the penultimate “Thunder and Awe” in such a fashion as to remind of Ripple veterans Gozu and all the more so with the rhythmic propulsion in Rebel and Fabe “van Fuzz” Klein‘s riffing, the bass of Leo “Lionhatch” Beringer and new drummer Flo “The Brave” Schlenker, while the mellow and bluesy “Blood on the Crown” recalls quiet Clutch moments like “The Regulator” with its soft guitar shimmer and washes of cymbal. Context goes a long way, though, in seeing Plainride begin to distinguish themselves from their influences — the once-unbridled raucousness of Truckfighters is a factor as well, as it was their last time out — and Plainride set themselves apart via barnburners like “Seven of Spades” with a gallop à la a catchier High on Fire if not Motörhead directly, and the apparent side B opener “Wormhole Society,” with its howling solo in the second half.

Life on Ares has two songs that top seven minutes, “El Coyote” (7:05) and “Bite Back” (7:04), and both feature on side A. Along with the introduction titled “A Fiery Demise” and the quick-running “Seven of Spades” and “Battletoads” also included, the five-song first half of the album develops a varied personality that becomes crucial to its effectiveness overall. Their seeming ability to change it up is evident through the shift from one song to the next, and in the case of “El Coyote” and “Bite Back” specifically, from one part to the next, but as “Bite Back” shows perhaps most of all, Plainride are dutiful and mindful of keeping a flow to the progression of their material. Neither track sounds artificially extended in a let’s-write-a-long-song kind of way. That may well have been the intent, but even if so, the resulting feel is no less natural than anything else they conjure throughout.

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And the placement of “Battletoads” between the longer pieces is important in acting as a preview for side B’s dug-in feel, some more straightforward rockers, but still high-energy and well composed. As they move from one song to the next, Plainride seem to shoulder-check the listener off-balance, but never actually hard enough to knock them down, i.e., take them out of the overarching fluidity of one song into the next. It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s supposed to be a bumpy ride, and the band’s pursuit of riffly glories leads them to exciting and upbeat crafting and deft turns like those in “Bite Back” as it moves to its wah-laced apex solo in its final minute, scorching its way to a cold finish ahead of the start of “Wormhole Society” and the album’s remaining back end, which one might be tempted to see as where the foursome really get down to business if they hadn’t already worked so hard to establish so much in terms of sound, impact, professionalism and character, not to mention theme or imagery, yet another layer of detail to be found is right in the name of the record, which is subtitled Life on Ares: Thrilling Tales from a Strange Planet.

I’ll give you “thrilling” fair enough. The second part — the bit about “strange planet” — may or may not be accurate. That is, I’m not sure if Ares even has a Texas that would suit “Texas Labyrinth,” the tense verses of which open to a winding melodic hook. It’s possible Ares — named for the Greek god of war; the Roman equivalent is Mars — is intended to be an alternate name for Earth, which most definitely does have a Texas, and that the Strange Planet in question is in fact this one. The alternate-earth theory holds water,  but it’s still somewhat unclear. It matters less as “Texas Labyrinth” drops to quiet guitar resonance and a transitional drone to the start of “Blood on the Crown,” which begins with spacious plucked notes before unfolding a build that remains understated and blues-based, but is weighted in its groove just the same, lead guitar and keys showing up later on in order to push it over the top. It works, is the bottom line. They roll on toward and through “Thunder and Awe” toward the comfortably-paced closer “Anaximander (And the Riddle of Origin),” Rebel holding out a gravely shout just past the 90-second mark while the band rises to meet him en route to a midsection setting up the instrumental finish, an effects-soaked lead giving way to a surprising touch of psychedelia before the thrust resumes to end out.

They’re obviously having a good time, and the songs show diligent efforts to convey that, but Plainride are also just as obviously interested in developing their style. There’s nary a cryptozoological aspect to be found on Life on Ares, and while it would’ve been entirely possible for them to bring back the jackalope that seemed so destined to become their mascot, the decision not to feels very much like a conscious choice. So be it. Three years ago, they were a different band — in the case of who’s drumming, literally so — and instead of focusing on the past, they’re very clearly looking ahead to what this lineup can accomplish, and they see to it their listener does the same. There was potential in the debut, and there’s potential writ large throughout Life on Ares as well, and Plainride seem to be gearing up to realize that with energy and volume levels high.

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Plainride Set Sept. 21 Release for Life on Ares

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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And so the band who just a few years ago told us all about the bears upon Mt. Rushmore have come back, this time with tales from a strange planet. Cologne-based four-piece Plainride are set to follow-up their 2015 debut album, Return of the Jackalope (review here), with a new collection titled Life on Ares on Ripple Music. The announcement comes just a week before they take stage at one of the universe’s biggest festivals, Wacken Open Air, and though no audio from the sophomore outing has been unveiled as yet, I can’t help but note a decided turn toward the serious in the names of the tracks included. Well, maybe aside from “Battletoads” anyway, but kudos to the band on what I’ll just assume is a NES reference. Battletoads were basically Ninja Turtles by any other name, but that game still kicked ass.

By the way, if you ever want to talk about ancient videogames, hit me up.

To the matter at hand: Cheers to Plainride on the upcoming fest slot(s) and the impending record. I look forward to hearing where they’ve taken the uptempo push of the first offering with the new one, the art and details of which you can see below, courtesy of the PR wire.

They look like this:

plainride life on ares

PLAINRIDE ARE BACK!

Cologne-based Stoner Rockers will be releasing their new album “Life On Ares” through Californian label Ripple Music on September 21st.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Jackalopes, and Space Rangers!

We’re psyched to announce that PLAINRIDE’s new album Life On Ares is coming to you via Ripple Music and will hit planet Earth on September 21st!

It was recorded at Hydra Lab studios in the heart of Cologne, mixed and mastered by interdimensional sound engineer Alberto De Icaza (Clutch, Crobot), and embellished with the galactic art of Milan-based space-prodigy SoloMacello!

PLAINRIDE on Tour:
August 4 – W:O:A 2018 – Wacken
August 12 – Trafostation 61 Festival – Frechen
October 5 – Tsunami Club – Cologne

Tracklist Life On Ares:
1. A Fiery Demise (Prologue)
2. El Coyote
3. Battletoads
4. Seven Of Spades
5. Bite Back
6. Wormhole Society
7. Texas Labyrinth
8. Blood On The Crown
9. Thunder & Awe
10. Anaximander (And The Riddle Of Origin)

instagram.com/plainride
facebook.com/PLAINRIDE.Official
open.spotify.com/artist/2NDj8i2isAwlLIRGlNWsCh
https://plainride.bandcamp.com/
plainri.de
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Plainride, Return of the Jackalope (2015)

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Plainride Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Cheers to German heavy rockers Plainride on getting picked up by Californian imprint Ripple Music. The band issued their uptempo groover debut, Return of the Jackalope (review here), last year, and as they join the formidable and increasingly populated Ripple lineup, their first release will be a reissue of their first outing, presumably to be followed at some point by a sophomore effort. We’ll get there when we get there. No doubt the Cologne natives are kicking back a few in celebration of their new alliance, and I wouldn’t argue, either with the band or the booze.

From the PR wire:

plainride ripple music-700

PLAINRIDE – Cologne-based Stoner Rock ‘n’ Rollers sign worldwide record deal with Californian label RIPPLE MUSIC

“Imagine a pack of rabid tumbleweeds sweeping across the hot desert sand of Mojave set on fire by the nearby explosion of a Dodge Challenger ‘69 driven into a fuel soaked pile of Orange Half-Stacks by four whole-body bearded lumberjacks dressed in bearskin.”

This sentence originated in 2013 as part of an attempt to describe a German band that had only just been tossed onto the face of the Earth: Plainride. Little did these guys know they had just created what would soon become a self-fulfilling prophecy of dramatic extent. Three years later, the band is ridiculously close to their own, ambitious vision of themselves. Let’s recap: Beards? Check. Orange Amps? Check. Mojave? Well, kinda.

When you’ve got Plainride spinning on your turntable, you will barely believe these guys are in fact not from California, but from Cologne. Sweat-drippin’ drums, high voltage guitars, wailing solos and a voice so frenetic, one might assume the Beast himself took control of the mic.

That said, it comes to little surprise that Plainride eventually teamed up with Ripple Music from San Ramon, CA. The dedicated rock label will kick things off with a re-release of “Return Of The Jackalope”, the bands’ ferocious debut album, which had first been unveiled in Summer 2015. The re-issue is scheduled for this winter and will include a digital release on all platforms, a CD, a double vinyl release, and world-wide distribution.

While this is undeniably a huge step, Plainride keeps on rolling with their sympathetic down-to-earth attitude, as singer Max confirms: „We’re not a business band at any rate. Rehearsals are what makes my week worthwhile. Hanging and rocking out with the guys, frequenting shady concerts – that stuff is like sex to me: Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good! The day we decide to stop making fun of ourselves should be the day someone takes away our guitars and punches us in the face.” Beer-fueled banter aside, these guys aren’t in it just for the heck of it: “We always had the ambition to achieve as much as possible while staying true to our founding spirit. Signing with Ripple Music is an awesome and humbling opportunity for us and I’ll be damned if we’re not gonna work off our asses to honor that!”

https://www.facebook.com/PLAINRIDE.Official/
http://plainride.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Plainride, Day of the Jackalope (2015)

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Plainride Stream “Devil at Your Heels” from Debut LP Return of the Jackalope

Posted in audiObelisk on June 25th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

plainride

For those unfamiliar, a jackalope is essentially a mythical jackrabbit with antlers. Why German heavy rock four-piece Plainride might’ve chosen a jackalope as there mascot, where that jackalope might have gone and what might have led it to come back, I couldn’t really say, but if Return of the Jackalope, the raucous Cologne outfit’s debut album, proves anything, it’s that when the jackalope came back, he brought the party with him. Primo high-energy fuzz delivery in the spirit of Truckfighters ensues throughout the record’s 13-count-’em-13 tracks, delivered via Beerfuzz Records, and neither in its approach nor its 71-minute runtime is the album shy about going completely over the top to make its point. Led by guitarist/vocalist Max Rebel, and with Fabe van Fuzz on guitar, Leo on bass and Damian the Brute on drums (the presumably less brutish Andrew plays on the record), they show little interest in letting up and instead take a desert-cruising forward drive that varies in its burl and brashness but rarely steps away from beer-drenched riffery in its extended course.

To call it single-minded might be missing the point. Return of the Jackalope should come plainride return of the jackalopewith a warning not to operate heavy machinery under its influence, the rush at its fiercest is bound to lead at least to some poor decision-making. To that end, I’m happy today to present “Devil at Your Heels,” a top-speed later cut from Plainride that’s buried deep in the reaches of Return of the Jackalope but a standout nonetheless for anyone who might take it on. More throttled than “Return of the Jackalope” itself or “(The Beards upon) Mt. Rushmore,” it precedes closer “Warpdrive” and is one of several boots to the ass the band delivers along the way. Return of the Jackalope is a lot to experience in one sitting. It’s entirely possible that Plainride will exhaust you long before they run out of breath — spoiler alert: they don’t — but while they packed two albums’ worth of album into their debut, there’s something about the sheer willpower in so doing that makes it hard not to admire. Anyone can put out a 35-minute record. Plainride are about to put out two and call it one. Take that, convention.

Return of the Jackalope is out July 24 on Beerfuzz — preorders are available now — and no doubt will be followed by a due bit of road-dogging riotousness. More on that as I hear it, but for now, catch a glimpse of the otherworldly beast with the clip Plainride put together for “Devil at Your Heels” below, and please enjoy:

Plainride, “Devil at Your Heels”

Imagine a pack of rabid tumbleweeds sweeping across the hot desert sand of Mojave set on fire by the nearby explosion of a Dodge Challenger ’69 driven into a fuel soaked pile of Orange Half-Stacks by four whole-body bearded lumberjacks dressed in bearskin.

You still follow? Good.

Now what if I tell you said lumberjacks use guitar strings as dental floss and consider alligator-wrestling the most innocent part of their childhood? There you go.

Inspired by Stoner Rock legends like Clutch as well as European Half-Gods Planet Of Zeus and Stoner Train, we here at PLAINRIDE practice what we consider one of the finest Genres ever to emerge from the sacred ashes of the 70’s.

Earth Rockin’ Drums, A beard growth inducing Bass, Fuzzomental Guitars, the Roar of a Wolfman and a whole lotta beer. Ah yeah – and we got those nasty lil’ Jackalopes all over the place. They’re like… F*cking everywhere. What’s up with that, man?

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