Bavarian four-piece Limestone Whale will release their self-titled debut album on May 27 via Stone Free Records. They recorded the seven-track offering at Big Snuff Studio in Berlin with Richard Behrens, also of Heat, formerly of Samsara Blues Experiment and who also does live sound for Kadavar. That connection isn’t to be entirely forgotten when it comes to the sound of Limestone Whale‘s 39-minute LP, but neither is it the sum-total of their breadth, because while songs like “Paralyzed in Paradise” (video posted here) and hook-laden opener “Ambrosia” draw from a modified ’70s pastiche, vocalist Clement Hoffer, guitarist Flo Ryan Kiss, bassist René Preiß and drummer Maximilian Brev also dig into a grunge-style lumber on German-language centerpiece cut “Swarms” and the early-Pearl–Jam-gone-bluesier guitar of “A Book I Have to Close,” which follows, one of several effective moments on the record of genuine melancholia alongside the earlier, doomier “Tale of the Snow Child” and closer “An Allegation,” which calls back to “Swarms” in its darker, chugging finish.
Establishing this decades-spanning sonic meld is the stated intent of Limestone Whale‘s debut, and the outcome is that the songs, whichever period they’re drawing from, are executed with an overarching focus on natural feel. It’s less about sounding like it’s 1971 than it is about presenting the material in organic a manner as possible. Again, I wouldn’t say the band are completely divorced from retro European heavy — from the dry treatment on Hoffer‘s vocals to the rhythmic swing permeating the slower “W,” those elements are definitely there — but like their Pentagrammy Danish counterparts in Demon Head last year, Limestone Whale bring a near-immediate sense of persona to the songs on their first album, which is all the more impressive for that clarity of effort since it still sounds live-recorded and laid back. Some of that is Behrens, of course, but if the material wasn’t strong in the first place, the album would feel flat and lifeless, and instead it carries across a palpable energy without sounding sloppy or losing its sense of command as it sets up a dynamic of fluid rhythmic and volume changes that carries the listener across Limestone Whale‘s span.
Aside from the fact that the early ’90s are fair game again for influence, which is understandable since 1991 was 25 years ago, the message Limestone Whale send with these songs is that something truly classic is timeless. This decade has seen a boom in bands — largely in Europe, but in the US as well — turning their heads backward to find their inspiration, but with newer, next-generation acts like Limestone Whale, they don’t even have to go that far, since the heavy rock of the last half-century has become one giant mash, fed into itself and sustained by the continuing drive of those playing it to refine the form. Limestone Whale step into that process confidently on their self-titled, and as they execute broad-minded ambitions in a way that results in cohesive songcraft, one can only look forward to hearing how they’ll develop over their tenure and what they might ultimately contribute to that oeuvre. For now, they’ve shown remarkable potential in their debut full-length and accomplished precisely what it seems they set out to do. That’s more than enough to make the effort worthy of praise.
It’s my pleasure today to host “Tale of the Snow Child” as a track premiere. You’ll find it below, followed by some comment from Kiss about the song and the album as a whole.
Flo Ryan Kiss on “Tale of the Snow Child”:
Some parts of our music refer to late ’60s Heavy Psych Blues and early 70s Hard Rock because it’s a very important musical style for us, but we decided not only to revive the spirit of that era by playing riffs that have been played partly over and over again. Instead of that we want to add new flavours like 90s alternative rock or grunge elements. It’s like building bridges between different rock decades with the bridges consisting of a modern but very natural and analog sound.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
RidingEasy Records has picked up Swedish trio Svvamp and will release their self-titled debut in the dead of summer this August. The Jönköping-based three-piece have unveiled the first audio to come from the album through their new label’s YouTube page in the form of the song “Burning Down” — which you can stream below — a sweet blues-groover sans pretense and classic in its style that somehow manages to skirt the issue of sounding like Graveyard, which at this point is an impressive feat for a new band out of Sweden. An encouraging sign for the rest of the outing, at the very least.
The PR wire brings more background:
RidingEasy Records announce new signees SVVAMP, share first new track
Southern California label RidingEasy Records proudly announces the signing today of Swedish trio Svvamp to the roster. Hear and please share the first track from the band’s forthcoming self-titled debut, “Burning Down” via YouTube.
Swedish trio Svvamp is the real deal. Countless bands today strive to sound genuine — whether faking their way through a ProTools pastiche of carefully assembled takes, painstakingly tarnishing tracks to give them a “live feel” or simply copying the style of their favorite band. And, usually, their posturing is entirely transparent.
Every once in a while though, you find a band without self-conscious pretense that truly echoes the mood and vibe of an era when the rulebooks were burned with the draft cards and the act of playing rock’n’roll was simultaneously defiant and inherently casual. Svvamp is just that type of primordial beauty captured on a perfect 11-song debut.
Svvamp was created by three friends – Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren – drawn together for the sake of jamming and a love of rock, folk and blues. Their resulting heavy psych sound is immediately gripping in its homespun feel and hints of Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, CCR and Crazy Horse.
“Our first recordings were made on a 4-channel cassette PortaPro (with microphones that we found lying around) and were really crude, recorded live to cassette,” the band explains. “We grew fond of that live feel and demo takes started to sound like finished songs. Over time, with almost everything made live in our rehearsal room, it became a full album.”
“Serpent in the Sky” kicks things off with a syncopated bluesy riff romp, while “Burning Down” echoes the stomping freeform feel of the New Yardbirds’ “How Many More Times.” Once things settle in to the laid back shuffle of “Free At Last”, Svvamp really finds its groove and lets loose like Axis: Bold As Love Jimi Hendrix. “Time” sounds almost like Ziggy Stardust era Bowie with a boogie swagger and cheeky vocals. “Set My Foot and Leave” sounds as earnest and unpretentious as The Faces (and at times like Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May”, without all that shaggy, smug Rodness). Elsewhere, “Blue In the Face” slips into a heavy groove while “Oh, Girl” bashes out stop ‘n’ go riffs with the Marshall stack dramatics of Blue Cheer. Chiming mandolin and acoustic guitars lead the charming closing anthem, “Down By The River” (not the Neil Young song).
Svvamp will be available everywhere on LP, CD and download late August 2016 via RidingEasy Records.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Originally set to release last Fall, the debut offering from Monolith Wielder has been picked up for release by Italy’s Argonauta Records. The band cut their teeth someplace between classic metal and doom, and the early tracks they’ve showcased have a definite sense of darkness without losing a straightforward songwriting take to atmospherics. Both “Illumination” and “Angels Hide” are available to stream via their Soundcloud, and presumably those are the mixes (or near to the mixes) that were sent to the venerable Jack Endino (High on Fire, Windhand, Nebula, Nirvana, etc.) to be mastered.
Argonauta will have Monolith Wielder‘s Monolith Wielder out this Fall. Comment from the label and the band follows:
ARGONAUTA RECORDS new signing: MONOLITH WIELDER
Thrilled to welcome a new great act from the States into our family. Drawing as much influence from the early 90’s Pacific Northwest, as the Maryland doom of that same era, MONOLITH WIELDER are a quartet made up of several veterans of the Pittsburgh music scene. Formed in 2014 by Molasses Barge guitarist Justin Gizzi, longtime friend and percussionist Ben Zerbe (Halo’s Grace/Mandrake Project), and singer/guitarist Gero von Dehn (Von Dane/Zom), the three began working up the material that would comprise their first studio effort. Later rounded out by bassist Ray Ward, the group started performing live that fall, and headed into Plus Minus Recording studio on Pittsburgh’s South Side in January 2015. With engineer Jason Jouver at the helm, ten songs were completed in the studio, and later sent off to Jack Endino at Soundhouse in Seattle for Mastering. MONOLITH WIELDER album is scheduled to be released by Autumn 2016.
Says the band:
Hey folks! We’re very happy to announce that the band has signed with Italian-based label Argonauta Records, and they will be releasing our debut album this fall! Thanks to Sean Cho and Plus Minus Recording, Jason Jouver who recorded the album, Jack Endino for the fine mastering job, Gero Argonauta for believing in the band, and Paul Werkmeister with Miser Photography. Check out the other varied acts on the label, including Dee Calhoun, who is sharing the stage with us this coming Saturday May 7th at Cattivo, for Horehound’s cd release party. We’ll be on stage again the following Saturday the 14th at Altar Bar with The Obsessed, Karma To Burn, and The Atomic Bitchwax!
Bavarian heavy rockers Limestone Whale issue their self-titled debut album May 27 via Stone Free Records. The album, which was recorded live to tape by Richard Behrens, formerly of Samsara Blues Experiment, finds the newcomer four-piece getting their feet wet in a newer-sounding take on heavy ’70s rock, organic but not necessarily vintage in trying to capture analog crackle as so many have the last few years, particularly in Europe. Nonetheless, some similarities of bounce exist between “Paralyzed in Paradise,” for which Limestone Whale have a new video, and the earlier work of Kadavar, for whom Behrens also does live sound. The influence of an influential band. Fair enough.
More encouraging, Limestone Whale bring a sense of personality to the style and come across as being in pursuit of their own niche, perhaps on their way to finding it. “Paralyzed in Paradise” centers around its hook much as its video, directed by Christian Fischer and at least nodding in the direction of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, basks in a sense of absurd imagery. It suits a stated youthful theme, but it’s not as though Limestone Whale aren’t clearheaded in their approach. The song is clean despite its naturalism, and catchy besides, and it demonstrates the clear grip Limestone Whale have on their aesthetic, which is likely only beginning to develop.
If, like me, the clip is your introduction to the band, I think you’ll find it’s a solid one. It’ll be interesting to dig into the rest of the LP and see how representative “Paralyzed in Paradise” is of their sound overall, or if it’s just a slice of what’s included in their scope. In either case, a hook is never a bad way to start.
Limestone Whale, “Paralyzed in Paradise” official video
This is a song about idealization, about escaping and about being kept imprisoned. This is a figurative and surrealistic music video about YOUTH. Directed and filmed by: Christian Fischer.
Formed in the shadows of the Bavarian forest Limestone Whale have developed their very own approach to heavy psych blues – far beyond prevailing stereotypes. The quartet combines the natural roughness of proto metal and psychedelic rock with straight 70s inspired hard rock and 90s alternative/grunge elements. With their mixture of heavy riffs and refreshing melodies the young but yet experienced musicians create a vivid and stirring presence on stage. Limestone Whale are definitely among the few bands who are able to revive the spirit of the golden age of rock music without trying to sound „retro“.
With their self-titled debut Limestone Whale set an example for their three-year-old career. The seven songs found on “Limestone Whale” are not just a good lesson in variety and covering different genres like they were meant to form a symbiotic relationship, but they also come with an outstanding, clear and characteristic sound, which is the result of recording the album live and with analogue technology at Berlin-based Big Snuff Studio.
Posted in Features on April 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
One would be hard pressed to name a single city that has contributed more to the sphere of American heavy rock in the last half-decade than Portland, Oregon. I’m not even sure there’s any competition, even from places like San Francisco or San Diego. The challenge this presents new bands at this point is how they go about distinguishing themselves from their peers, and that is something that hard-driving four-piece Holy Grove would seem to have solved early.
Their self-titled debut (review here) is out now on Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds, owned by Gabriele Fiori of Black Rainbows/Killer Boogie, and basks in wide-cast grooves and a crisp but natural tonal warmth captured by stuff-of-legend producer Billy Anderson that puts the powerful vocals of Andrea Vidal front and center atop the riffs of guitarist Trent Jacobs, the rumble of bassist Gregg Emley and the roll of original drummer Craig Bradford (replaced by Adam Jelsing). That’s a big risk for a relatively new band, Holy Grove started in 2012, but it’s still their first album, but Holy Grove takes classic cues and updates them with a modern thickness of sound that would seem to hold an appeal for fans of then and now in heavy.
Holy Grove play Psycho Las Vegas in August (info here), joining in international and interstellar array of groups, and have a European tour in the works for the fall to further support the album, as well as work already underway on the follow-up, which is probably a ways off, but still in progress already. In the interview that follows, Vidal talks with good humor about her experience joining the band, how they got together, needing to buy a microphone after the first practice, starting work on the album after releasing the Live at Jooniors (review here) two-songer, recording with Anderson and much more, including finding her voice as a lead singer and the importance of commanding a stage and bringing a show to life.
The complete Q&A tops 3,200 words and can be found after the jump.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Pittsburgh natives Horehound will release their self-titled debut full-length on April 20 via Blackseed Recordings and Releases. Dense riffs, doomly vibes and an overarching ethereal spirit typify the first long-player from the five-piece, who formed 14 months ago and have unveiled a rolling-groove teaser to herald the album’s arrival. They’re reportedly looking to hit the road a bit this summer in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, so there’s one to keep an eye out for there as well. Will be interested to see how much touring they do in support of the record.
You know the drill: New band, cool sound, some potential as they go forward. Info follows, courtesy of the PR wire:
Horehound Debut Record Release
Blackseed Records & Releases’ artist HOREHOUND, the Doom Metal/Hard Rock outfit from the Steel City of Pittsburgh, PA have been ripping up the metro scene throughout the past year with their live shows. Well-known clubs such as Gooski’s, 31st Street Pub (R.I.P.), Howlers and Club Café have seen the band move up the ranks opening for genre mainstays Karma to Burn, Foghound, and Cavern while developing a concrete foundation and fan base along the way.
Formed in February 2015, the band quickly pooled their experiences and influences to create their heavy yet heavily approachable sound. Vocalist Shy Kennedy explodes into her debut role as front-woman and brings her unique and haunting style to each song. The band’s dual guitar grind comes via Mike Altopiedi (rhythm) and Brendan Parrish (lead), both formerly of the band Perish. On drums is JD Dauer, who brings many years of heavy-hitting to the band while also a regular with rockabilly outfit Memphis Mike & The Legendary Tremblers. David “Wes” Westfall brings a devastating low-end onslaught as bassist and is also currently a guitarist for the band The New Casual.
2016 pushes the 5-piece even further with their debut 7-song LP slated for release April 20th, 2016. A regional tour this summer including dates in OH, PA, MD, and NY are in the works and opening slots for national headliners Order of the Owl, Graves at Sea, and Prong are booked!
The momentum is building at lightning speed. With new music, shows, tours and promotions, HOREHOUND is on the rise, ready for the world to come!
Weed‘s Weed is little more than half an hour long, but that proves to be plenty of time for it to summarize much of what was righteous about the heavy rock movement of the early ’70s. The band was founded circa 1970 by keyboardist Ken Hensley, who by then had not only released two records with Uriah Heep, but albums with Toe Fat, Head Machine and The Gods as well. Bringing him to the fore on lead vocals and guitar in addition to keys, Weed would only release this one album during their time together, but it nonetheless captures a moment right at the intersection of psychedelia, heavy rock and what would in the early/mid-1970s become krautrock and prog, something of course Uriah Heep would dig into deeply after their rawer earlier work. Joining Hensley in Weed were guitarist Werner Monka, bassist Reinhold Spiegelfeld, flutist Bernd Hohmann, keyboardist Rainer Schnelle and drummer Peet Becker, some of whom came from the German prog band Virus, and while commonly thought of as a solo-project for Hensley, Weed‘s Weed boasts a definite and significant full-band feel.
That’s true even in the minimalist intro of the organ-led “My Dream,” but most apparent on bluesier cuts like opener “Sweet Morning Light” and its shuffling side B counterpart “Slowin’ Down.” Elsewhere, Weed bask in the second-track balladry that would become a staple of the era on “Lonely Ship” and embrace a wider scope on “My Dream,” leaving the penultimate “Before I Die” to offer piano-led proto-prog and the closing title-track to move into post-Hendrix psychedelic jamming, bass and guitar sparring excitingly over swinging drums and an upbeat push, ending as scorching lead lines are placed one on top of the next until finally the whole thing becomes a wash of big-finale noise. Live-sounding to be sure, but clear, Weed pulls off difficult stylistic pivots with ease and remains something of an underrated addition to the canon of the classic heavy era. A footnote perhaps when compared to the 13 records Hensley put out during his time with Uriah Heep, its appeal all the same runs much deeper than its bizarre cover art and the band’s moniker. If it’s a footnote, it’s a loud one.
And an enduring one. Weed‘s Weed has been reissued multiple times over, by Philips Records, which originally put it out, among others, all the while finding an audience among heads looking to dig into the past. If you know it, I hope you enjoy the chance to revisit, and if you haven’t heard it, I hope you stick it out through the whole thing, because both the trip and the destination are entirely worth the effort.
Hope you dig.
So uh, hey. Next week is Roadburn. Wish I could tell you the laundry is done, my bag is packed and I’m ready to roll, but the truth is that it kind of snuck up on me this year. I like that though. Better than waiting for months and months more than I am anyway for April to get here. I fly out on Tuesday, get in Wednesday morning to Tilburg, get to the hotel in time for the Hardrock Hideout on Wednesday night, then four days of heavy bliss ensue.
If you don’t know how I do Roadburn coverage, basically my goal is to review each day before the next day starts. This involves a lot of late-night posting, it does not involve a lot of sleep. I hope, if you choose to keep up with that adventure, you enjoy it. There will not be many posts next week aside from Roadburn coverage once that starts. Don’t want to say none, because you never know, but still, if any not many.
That’s okay though, because in addition to a rare Sunday post lined up, I’ve got a full-album stream on Monday for the new Black Rainbowsand a track premiere from Sidewave, as well as a full-album stream Tuesday for Merchant and a track premiere for Atala. That’s pretty much a week’s worth of stuff anyway, so there you go. There’s more too. It’s going to be somewhat hectic. No big change there.
Posted about it on the social medias, but we hit a new record for listeners-at-once for The Obelisk Radio this week. It was awesome, and thank you. Wish I knew what was playing at the time, I’d put it on more.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Thus ends another successful Quarterly Review. And by successful I mean I survived. There were a few minutes there when I actually thought about spreading this out to six days, doing another batch of 10 on Monday, but then what happens? Then it’s seven days, then eight, then nine, and before I know it I’m just doing 10 reviews every day and it’s more of a daily review than a quarterly one. Next week we’ll get back to whatever passes for normality around this place, and at the end of June, I’ll have another batch to roll with. Maybe the beginning of July, depending on time. In any case, thank you for reading this week. I hope you’ve found something in all this that you’ve dug, and that this final round offers something else that resonates.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Chron Goblin, Backwater
Calgary party rockers Chron Goblin pay homage to Seattle with a song named after the city on their third album, Backwater (on Ripple Music), but they continue to have way more in common with Portland, Oregon. The follow-up to 2013’s Life for the Living (review here) pushes into psychedelic groove early in its title-track and gets bluesy for most of the subsequent “The Wailing Sound,” but it seems even that song can’t resist the urge to throw down and have a good time by the end, and cuts like “Give Way,” the galloping opener “Fuller” and the requisite “Hard Living” reaffirm the band’s commitment to heavy riffs and positive vibes. The stylistic elephant in the room continues to be Red Fang, but as they’ve done all along, Chron Goblin work in shades of other influences in heavy rock – if they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d call it Roadsaw – and put a stamp of their own on the style.
“Mercenary Blues” is near-immediate in telegraphing the level of heft Slabdragger will emit across their second album, Rise of the Dawncrusher, which tops an hour in five tracks (one of them four minutes long) and shifts between clean vocals, screams and growls from bassist/vocalist Yusuf Tary and guitarist/vocalist Sam Thredder as drummer Jack Newham holds together tempo shifts no less drastic. The shorter cut, “Evacuate!,” is an extreme take on heavy rock, but as Slabdragger move through the extended “Shrine of Debauchery” (12:23), “Dawncrusher Rising” (15:16) and “Implosion Rites” (17:20), their methods prove varied enough so that their material is more than just an onslaught of thickened distortion. I wouldn’t call it progressive exactly, but neither is it lunkheaded in its intention or execution, as the chanted melodies buried deep in “Shrine of Debauchery”’s lumber, derived perhaps in part from Conan and Sleep but beholden to neither so much as its own righteous purposes.
Finnish heavy psychedelic rockers Jupiter take a decidedly naturalist position when it comes to their style. Yeah, there are some effects on the guitars throughout Interstellar Chronidive, the trio’s second album behind 2014’s Your Eccentric State of Mind, but it’s more about what the three players can accomplish with dynamic tempo and mood changes than it is creating a wash, and that gives songs like “Stonetrooper” and “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” a classic feel despite a decidedly modern production. “Premonitions” provides raucous fuzz worthy of any next-gen stoners you want to name, and the 14-minute “In Flux” answers its own initial thrust with and expansive, liquefied jam that’s all the more emblematic of the organic core to their approach, Hendrix-derived but not Hendrix-emulating. Bright guitar tone, rich bass and swinging drums aren’t necessarily unfamiliar elements, but the touches of space rock narration on “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” and the consuming nod of closer “Vantage Point” assure there’s no shortage of personality to go around.
Also stylized as IZ? with a long accent over the ‘o,’ Izo is the self-titled debut from Italian double-guitar instrumental four-piece Izo, who bookend four flowing and densely weighted progressions with an intro and outro to add to the atmospheric breadth. Rather than choose between heaviness or ambience, Izo – guitarists Paolo Barone and Maurizio Calò, bassist Francesco de Pascali and drummer Luca Greco – play both into each other so that a song like “Hikkomori” is as engaging in its heft as it is hypnotic. That might be easier to do without vocals, but it’s essential to Izo’s approach, and something that, for their debut, sets up future expansion of post-metal and psychedelic elements. I’m not sure if there’s a theme or narrative for the album, but consistent use of Japanese language and imagery ties the material together all the same, and Izo emerge from their first album having shown a clearheadedness of purpose that can only continue to serve them well.
Cultist made their introductory statement in the early hours of 2016 with Three Candles, a five-song EP from the social media-averse Cleveland, Ohio, trio featuring members of Skeletonwitch, Mockingbird and Howl. In the wall of fuzz they construct, the swing injected into their rhythms and the use of multiple vocalists, there’s a strong undercurrent of Uncle Acid to “Path of the Old One,” but “Consuming Damnation” distinguishes itself with a more aggressive take, rawer in its melodies, and the creeping closer “Eternal Dark” is up to something entirely more doomed. How this balance will play out with the more familiar riff-patterning in “Follow Me” is the central question, but for their first tracks to be made public, Cultist’s Three Candles offers fullness of sound and the realization of an aesthetic purpose. Yes, there’s room to grow, but they already have a better handle on what they want to do than a lot of bands, so it should be interesting to keep up.
Ultra-thick, ultra-dank, Haoma is the work of Swedish duo R (bass/vocals) and S (drums), and the three-tracker Eternal Stash is their second self-released EP. The offering takes its title from the opener and longest track (immediate points), and wastes no time with subtlety in getting down on molten Cisneros-style stoner-doom grooves. Sleep meets Om isn’t a huge divide to cross, but there’s a blown-out sensibility to the vocals as well that speaks to some element of Electric Wizard at play, and the overarching roughness suits Haoma’s tonal crunch well. Even when they break to wah bass in the second half of “Eternal Stash” to set up the ensuing jam, this underlying harshness remains, and “Unearthly Creatures” and “Orbital Flight” build on that, the latter with a march that feels more decidedly individual even if constructed on familiar ground. Heavy, raw, unpretentious celebration of groove is almost always welcome by me, and so Haoma’s Eternal Stash is likewise.
Another boon to Poland’s emerging heavy rock scene, Wroclaw’s Spaceslug slime their way out of the ground with their debut long-player, Lemanis, a seven-cut paean to weighted tone and laid back roll. Vocally, the trio seem to take a cue from the Netherlands’ Sungrazer, but their riffs are far more dense and while the penultimate interlude “Quintessence” and the earlier “Galectelion” demonstrate a sense of spaciousness, the context in which that arrives is much more weighted and, particularly in the second half of “Supermassive,” feels culled from the Sleep school of Iommic idolatry. No complaints. The record clocks in at 43 minutes all told and in no way overstays its welcome, rounding out with the nine-minute title-track, an instrumental that’s probably not improvised but comes across as exploratory all the same. The CD version is out through BSFD Records, but don’t be surprised when someone picks it up for a vinyl issue, as both the front-to-back flow and the artwork seem to be made for it.
An element of twang that seems present even in the most uproarious moments of Slush’ American Demons tape comes to the fore with the brief “Leshy,” a quick, fleetly-strummed bit of slide guitar the follows highlight cut “Bathysphere” and precedes “Death Valley,” both of which bask full-on in the garage shake, proto-punk vibe and anything goes swagger the Brooklynite trio have on offer throughout their third EP. That countrified twist plays well alongside the drawling skate rock of “In the Flesh,” which seems to take on some of The Shrine’s West Coast skate vibes with a twist of New York fuckall, and the quick crotchal thrust off “Silk Road,” which serves as Slush’ most purely punkish moment. “Death Valley” closes out with a tale of drugs and the desert, the vocals somewhere between Misfits and early Nick Cave, drenched in attitude and accompanied by fuzz that seems to be likewise. Bonus points for the silver tape and copious included art and info.
Strange spirits are afoot throughout Menimals’ Menimals, the maybe-debut from the Italian troupe who engage wantonly in the proliferation of post-Mike Patton creepy darkjazz across five cuts of sparse, spacious weirdness. Issued through Phonosphera/Riot Season, it’s a work of high atmospheric density but ultimately more about mood than sonic impact, evoking complex shapes – dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons, octahedrons – as a mirror for its own quizzical mission. The kind of record that those who don’t spend time trying to figure it out are going to have more fun with, it makes its most effective impression on “Transitioning from a Cube to the Octahedron” on side B, evoking minimalist drone rock atmospheres as whispered vocals tie it to the rest of Menimals’ bizarre vibe. That’s not to take away from the noisy finish of closer “Bird on the Wind as a Hinge,” which follows, just to note that Menimals manage to somehow find balance in all the subdued seething and resonant experimentalism.
By way of a confession, I wanted to end this batch of 50 reviews with something I knew I dug, and that distinction goes to Houston rockers Linus Pauling Quartet, whose latest full-length, Ampalanche, is released via the label wing of Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum. An album that offers some of the most pretense-free rock flute I’ve ever heard on “Slave to the Die,” it’s a down-home weirdo rocker that might, at a moment’s notice, plunge full-on into psychedelia in “Sometimes” or, say, include a 49-minute echoing space-drone “Vi, de Druknede (We, the Drowned)” as a download-only bonus track, and the fact that Linus Pauling Quartet can always be relied on for something different but consistent in charm and the quality of songwriting is not to be taken for granted, whether it’s the Midwestern noise rock of “Brisket” or the fuzzy roll of dreamy album-closer “Alive.” Yeah, I was doing myself a favor by finishing with Ampalanche. I have absolutely zero regrets. Linus Pauling Quartet continue to be woefully underappreciated.