Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Sonny Vincent & Spite - Spiteful

Class of '77 get together for some transatlantic punk-noir. Strap yourself in for the ride!

This latest outing for the New York punk veteran is a punk fan's wet dream, a fantasy collaboration that features backing and input from not only Rat Scabies of The Damned and Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols, but also saxophone courtesy of Steve Mackay, sax player on The Stooges Fun House, and latter day touring member of said same band. That's mongrel pedigree for you right there! And one that bites!

For those unfamiliar with Sonny Vincent, he's a mix of sleazy seen-it-all private detective, punk romantic, and perhaps the true heir to Lou Reed as rock 'n' roll believer and champion of New York's artistic underbelly.

As leader of Testors, Sonny was a burning light of the NY punk movement, ripping it up at CBGBs back in the day. His spirit and soul remained undimmed to this day as this album more than demonstrates. Such is his standing in punk circles he was able to draft in the talents of Scabies, Matlock and Mackay.

It's a dream team band, one that effortlessly conjures up he speed and bite of London '77 punk and allies it with a New York art-punk lyrics. On top of that the saxophone lends the record a noir Romanticism. All cigarette smoke, dark alleys and burst water pipes. It's punk rock with a free-jazz squall.

Written and recorded quickly, Spiteful has a spirit and swagger that marks it out as one of the year's most surprising releases. Urgent and searching, frantic and wild, scuzzy and hungry, and definitely truer to the spirit of punk than the heritage circuit bands that make up the billing of today's punk festivals.

Though it's at odds with the music of the headphones-on, heads-down generation, this is fired up by a love of early rock 'n' roll and an outsider anti-hero stance. And is all the better for it. As such it could teach the young pups of today a thing or two.

Click here for more on the making of Spiteful.
Click here for more on Sonny Vincent.
Click here for Still Unbeatable Records.

Buffalo Killers - Fireball Of Sulk

It's the 7th studio album from Ohio's band of brothers. Still gloriously ragged but with added flavours.

It's good to know that in this era of one-album-wonders some bands are in it for the long haul. Hat's off then to Buffalo Killers, a bunch of long haired rootsy rockers from Ohio who are on the cusp of releasing their 7th studio album.

The band's previous albums have favoured a one ear to the past, denim-clad brand of southern rock that's big on vocal harmony and ragged guitar chime. While this latest album will undoubtedly please fans of their earlier records they seem to have found a renewed sense of purpose and are more confident in branching out stylistically.

While not quite outré enough to be the band's White Album, there's a remarkable breadth of styles here, from the grunge-informed Blankets On The Sun, through to the Beatle-esque Don't Cry To Me and the stoner rock styling of Marshmallow Mouth. Then there's the power pop meets country rock of Weird One and Something Else. A pairing that doesn't work on paper but hearing it is a delight.

Despite the diversity it's all pulled together by strong melodies and those trademark vocal harmonies that have characterised their output thus far. The CSN&Y influences are still intact, most notable on In A Number, but there are echoes of other acts, especially early '90s guitar bands such as Nirvana, The Posies, and Teenage Fanclub.

Fans of the band include The Black Keys and The Black Crowes, both bands to have invited Buffalo Killers to open for them on tour. On the evidence of this record the time could be right for them to step out from their shadows.

Click here to pre-order Fireball Of Sulk

Click here for Buffalo Killers' website.
Click here for Sun Pedal Recordings.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Chemistry Set - Elapsed Memories (Ltd. 7")

The Brit-psychers who refuse to die add to their ever pulsating discography.

Although neo-psych overlords,The Chemistry Set split in the early '90s, a new line-up emerged in 2008 that has bucked the trend for ill-advised damp-squib comebacks. Thankfully the material that The Chemistry Set Mk. II have released since their reformation has equalled that of their initial late '80s bloom winning the band a new legion of fans and enhancing the reputation of their earlier work rather than diminishing it.

This three track 7” on Fruits Der Mer Records is no exception. Two brand new original compositions jostle for space with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's Love Or Confusion. Elapsed Memories mixes choral sections with mid-paced Brit-Pop and builds towards a late cinematic flourish. A Cure For The Inflicted Afflicted has shallow obsessions of today's society as it's lyrical target, over a dramatic and searing backing. Nice guitar solo too!

In contrast Love Or Confusion gets a more relaxed reading than the Hendrix version, driven this time by calm-inducing sitar and tablas as opposed to the distortion and disorientation of Jimi's original. I reckon James would approve though. This limited three track 7” is on coloured vinyl and comes complete with a fold-out poster insert. Get it while you can.

Click here for more on The Chemistry Set
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Wild Eyes - Above Becomes Below

Luv 'n' Haight! Rock 'n' Roll! Second album of heavy acid-rock from Janiece and the boys.

San Francisco is already a city with a reputation for brain-bending, female-fronted, acid-rock. Think of Janis Joplin fronting Big Brother And The Holding Company back in the late '60s. That reputation is further renewed by the release of Above Becomes Below, the second album by SF-based rockers Wild Eyes, featuring vocals by Janiece Gonzalez, surely the inheritor of Joplin's untamed queen of rock crown.

This is no Luv'n'Haight hippy trip though, it's something altogether wilder, trashier and rockier, much more 21st century rock and roll, yet informed by the heavy '70s, trash-punk '80s, funk-rock '90s and the back-to-basics new rock revolution of the noughties. There's a road-hardened edge to all the psychedelic rock riffage and unhinged guitar solos, one that evokes wild nights, fast-living and outsider status.

Like any power trio worth their salt, the dudes in the band make rock with a groove, and allow plenty of space for Janiece to do her wild woman vocals over the top. After the initial bluster and bombast of opening track Stiff Nites, the album settles into its groove. With no weak links in the chain Wild Eyes are equally at ease with the slinky, slithering, shape shifting funkiness deployed on seven minute opus The Freak, as they are with the Led Zeppelin style riffs of Alabaster Dream and mystic dreaminess of Hewn Runes. Another artistically successful release for Italy's Heavy Psych Sounds Records, and one which raises the freak flag high. To paraphrase Davis Crosby – you might even grow your hair!

Wild Eyes are -

Janiece Gonzalez – Vocals
Carson Binks - Bass
Chris Corona - Guitar
Ben Richardson - Drums

Click here for more on Wild Eyes.
Click here for Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

The Roots Of Jeff Buckley - A Spotify Playlist

It's now 20 years since Jeff Buckley sole studio album Grace was released. To mark this I've made a spotify playlist of some of his main musical influences, in terms of songwriting, singing and spirit. It also includes songs Jeff covered. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to add suggestions for additions in the comments section.

Bananas Magazine - Isssue #10

Latest issue of NYC-based garage zine! With free online download compilation!

It's always a pleasure to receive the lastest copy of Bananas Magazine. Perhaps the best worldwide garage rock 'zine. This time round there's interviews aplenty - Mystery Lights (New York), Travel Check (Paris), Ave Negra (Costa Rica), Les Grys-Grys, (Southern France), The Ugly Beats (Austin, TX), Groovie Records (Portugal), Genital Hospital (Montreal), The Sound Reasons (Los Angeles), Os Noctàmbulos (Paris) and more! If that's not enough there's also some helpful country-picking guitar tabs and tons of 7" & LP reviews. Check out the Bananas Magazine website for a list of distros or order a copy direct from the site.

Fittingly for a musical genre that's best served on good ol' black vinyl, the mag has a similarly analogue nod in its old school inkyness. Older readers will no what I mean. Younger pups might want to ask their parents. The mag has made a foray into digital modernity though, by compiling a rather wonderful download compilation of the bands featured in this issue. And it's free! Head over to or check it out on the embedded widget thingy below. Happy listening!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Wedge - S/T Debut LP

Berlin trio's riffing, rocking debut! For fans of Blue Cheer, Wolfmother and classic heavy rock!

Less than a year since they formed, Berlin power trio Wedge are releasing their debut album via Italy's Heavy Psych Sounds label. This self-titled platter finds the sweet spot where rock's convergent forms meet to share beers and a spliff, and ask “how're ya doin'?” On listening, it would seem psych, classic, blues, heavy, garage, metal and proto-punk are all doing fine.

Opening track Easy Chair is nowhere near as laid back as the title suggests. Instead it's a drummer's tour-de-force lightened by a lyrical vignette that's worthy of The Who circa '66. This twisted coming of age tale over riff-driven, psychedelic rock is broken up by a more introspective, Doors-esque mid section that's all the better for its sumptuous electric piano.

Looks 'n' Savvy is a swaggering garage-rocker reminiscent of Jet (remember them?), The Datsuns and other new rock revolutionaries of the early noughties. Whereas Makeyerselfree comes on like Oasis covering Stairway to Heaven (it's better than that sounds, believe me!)

For most of their inspiration however, the band look to heavy rock's late '60s/early '70s heyday, as evidenced on '61 SG (see video below), their ode to Gibson's classic guitar and weapon of choice for hard rockers from the '60s onwards. Judging by the tracks on their album, this particular SG is in worthy hands.

The band are touring in Germany throughout November and December in support of this release. If you get the chance go show some love.

Wedge are -

Kiryk Drewinski – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Holger “The Holg” Grosser – Drums & Percussion
David Götz – Bass, Organ, Electric Piano & Mellotron

Click here for more on Wedge.
Click here for more on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

Superfjord/Earthling Society – Coltrane (Split 7” +CD)

Limited edition split 7” pays tribute to John & Alice Coltrane. Includes bonus 70 minute CD.

The name Coltrane is one of the biggest in modern musical history and perhaps the one most associated with such noble concepts as spirituality, love, freedom, improvisation and pushing the boundaries of sonic exploration.

A brave move then for any band (and label) that dares to put their own spin on the music of both John and Alice Coltrane. But that's what we have here thanks to the good people at Fruits De Mer Records. A split 7” single with Finland's Superfjord covering John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, and Earth Society tackling Alice Coltrane's somewhat less familiar Journey In Satchidananda.

A Love Supreme's familiar three note riff lends itself to Superfjord's space-rock makeover, a perfect bedrock for guitars guitars to take flight, sonics to be explored, and that all important sense of wonder to be re-invigorated. It's notable also for a voice over extolling the interconnectedness of freedom, art, magic and love.

Not to be outdone, Earthling Society's version of Journey In Satchidananda ventures into similar realms of sonic possibility. An eight minute instrumental meditation that's so simultaneously swampy yet reaching for the stars, even Oscar Wilde would have loved it.

If that wasn't enough there's also a bonus 70 minute CD containing Live versions, remixes by the likes Astralasia and VHSHead, along with new tracks Superfjord, Astralasia and Earthling Society. Is there a label around today that comes close to Fruits De Mer for consistently high quality releases? If so I've yet to come across it.

Click here for more on Superfjord.
Click here for more on Earthling Society.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Maston - Opal Collection

The one man music machine known as Frank rounds up his early releases for your listening pleasure. John Barry meets Brian Wilson on splattered black vinyl.

Last year musical polymath Maston released Shadows, his triumphant debut LP on Trouble In Mind Records (read review here). It was was one of the year's most pleasing surprises, a mix of soft psychedlic and dream pop, full of Brian Wilson-esque studio exploration and melodic inventiveness.

Since then he's busied himself touring as part of fellow psych-adventurer Jacco Gardner's backing band, though it's been pretty quiet on the solo front. That's about to change thanks to Stroll On Records, who have rounded up the music from Voyages and Opal, Maston's first two cassette only EPs, along with some unreleased tracks from the Shadows sessions. The result is a ten track compilation entitled Opal Collection.

While lacking the cohesiveness and flow of his Shadows album the music on this collection is in a much similar vein and will be a well received stocking filler for fans of his Shadows LP. Along with echoes of prime-era Beach Boys, and wrecking crew studio layering there's an impressive dose of John Barry and cold war spy movie soundtracks.

With most tracks vocal-less and and short in length, it has the air of a recently rediscovered film score, one that has inventive use of percussion and an knack of mixing spooked tension with poppy melodies. Nobody does this quite like Frank. While we wait for the next album, this collection of his earlier work will do nicely.

Look out for this release on a limited (300 copies) splatter/black vinyl edition.

Click here for more on Maston.
Click here for more on Stroll On Records.