Category: heavy rock

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release a Gritty and Funky Track from Eight Edition of Brown Acid Compilation

I’ve written a lot about Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records ongoing collaboration on their increasingly expansive series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations Brown Acid over the past few years. And as you may recall, each individual edition is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for each of previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at the attention and success that they missed. Plus, these songs can help fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around regional and national underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Following the critical and commercial success of its first seven editions, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records’ edition of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip is slated for release on April 20, 2019 (4/20 y’ll!) continuing what has become a bi-annual tradition for both labels — and this site. And much like its preceding editions, the eighth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging deeper and deeper into the well of hard rock, psych rock, proto-metal and pre-stoner rock primarily from the States — with the addition of a Canadian band. The album’s first single was from “School Daze,” a seamless synthesis of MC5, Jimi Hendrix and Grand Funk Railroad from Detroit‘s Attack — or more precisely St. Clair Shores.

Originally recorded in 1969, Memphis-based act Grump took on “Heartbreak Hotel,” popularized by a fellow Memphian that you may have heard of, by the name of Elvis Presley — and Grump’s rendition is a gritty and funky stomp that recalls Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” and Grand Funk Railroad. 

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New Audio: The Budos Band Release a Funky and Cinematic New Single

I’ve written and photographed the acclaimed Staten Island-based instrumental act The Budos Band a number of times over the years, and as you may recall the which is comprised of Jared Tankel (baritone sax), Tom Brenneck (guitar), John Carbonella (congas, drums), Mike Deller (organ), Daniel Folder (bass), Andrew Greene (trumpet), Rob Lombardo (bongos, congas), Brian Profilio (drums) and Dame Rodriguez (percussion) initially developed a reputation for a sound that they described as “Afro Soul,” which draws from Ethiopian music with a soul undercurrent, and some sound of the sounds of the 60s; however, with the band’s most recent releases, they’ve moved towards what they’ve referred to as “70s Psychedelic Instrumental Music.” 

The acclaimed instrumental act’s fifth album, aptly titled V is slated for an April 12, 2019 release through their longtime label home Daptone Records, and as the band’s Tom Brenneck says in press notes, the band’s forthcoming album feels like the truest sonic representation of the band as the material possesses the rock ‘n’ roll/heavy metal elements off of 2014’s Burnt Offering, as well as songs that could have easily been found on their first three albums.  The album’s latest single, the cinematic  “Arcane Rambler” is centered around a looping and whirring guitar line, boom bap-like percussion, an enormous horn line and a propulsive and incredibly tight groove — and interestingly enough, the composition, which nods at hip-hop, 70s funk and psych rock finds the members of the collective at arguably their loosest and trippiest.

New Audio: Austin-based Doom Rockers The Well Release a Murky and Uneasy Ripper

Comprised of Ian Graham (guitar, vocals), Lisa Alley (bass, vocals) and Jason Sullivan (drums), the Austin TX-based heavy psych rock/heavy metal act The Well can trace their origins to when Graham was fired from his previous band. Determined to redirect his musical focus, Graham hooked up with Alley and the two began picking out riffs in their garage. Completing the lineup, Graham and Alley stole Sullivan from Graham’s old band — partially out of vengeance and partially out of karma. The members of the trio are huge fans of cult horror films, and are inspired by early 70s psych rock and proto-metal and as a result their material revels in dark themes and haunting echoes. Interestingly, with their first few releases the Austin-based trio have developed a reputation for a sound that has been compared to Black Sabbath, Sleep, Electric Wizard and Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats. And adding to a growing profile, the band has shared stages with the likes of Kadavar, Orchid, Fu Manchu, High on Fire, NAAM, Orange Goblin, Pentagram, Dead Meadow and others. 

Slated for an April 26, 2019 release through Riding Easy Records, The Well’s forthcoming, third album Death and Consolation reportedly may be the darkest and most intense album of the band’s growing catalog. As the band’s Ian Graham says in press notes, “This one is a little more personal. 2018 was a strange, dark year. A lot of change was going on in my life, there was a lot of depression and coming out of it over the last year.” And while darker, the album continues their ongoing collaboration with longtime producer and engineer Chico Jones and finds the band expanding upon their sound and approach, at points nodding at Joy Division and The Cure — but also while being a bit of a continuation of 2016’s critically applauded Pagan Science. Death by Consolation’s latest single is the monstrous and murky ripper “Raven.” Centered around enormous and extremely downtuned, power chords and bass chords,  thunderous drumming paired around Layne Staley-delivered vocals, the song evokes a sense of unease and dread, familiar to classic horror movies — and stumbling around graveyards late at night. But more important, the song captures a band that kicks ass, takes names and will frighten  the shit out of you. 

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release an MC5 Meet Jimi Hendrix-like Single from The Seventh Brown Acid Compilation

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records ongoing collaboration on their increasingly expansive series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations Brown Acid. And as you may recall, each individual edition of the compilation is centered around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes regarding the previous editions of the compilations “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Naturally, by having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation process, it can give the artists and their songs, a real, second chance at the attention and success that they originally missed. Additionally, these songs can help fill in the larger picture of what was going on in and around the underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Following the critical and commercial success of its first six volumes, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records’ seventh volume of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock Brown Acid: The Seventh Trip is slated for release on Halloween, continuing what I hope will be a bi-yearly tradition. Much like the preceding editions, the seventh continues Barressi’s and Hall’s exhaustive, painstaking research and curation that has fond them digging ever so deeper in to the well of hard rock, psych rock and proto-metal from the 60s and 70s. Much like its predecessors, the seventh edition features songs from predominantly American bands — although there’s the inclusion of material from a French band and a Swedish band. You’ll remember that I wrote about s C.T. Pilfherhogg’s 1973 bluesy stomp “You Haul,” a single that brings Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Iron Butterfly‘s “In A Gadda Da Vida” but with Echoplex-effected laughs to give the song a maniacal vibe; however, the album’s first single is a virtually unknown Oklahoma band, fronted by Rod McClure while still in high school — and the remarkably self-assured  MC5 meets Are You Experienced?-era Jimi Hendrix-like “Peace of Mind” is a bluesy and anthemic ripper centered by propulsive drum fills and some explosive guitar work, making it the perfect song for speeding on the highway. 

New Audio: Honolulu’s Kings of Spade Release an Anthemic Party Ripper

Comprised of founding members Kasi “KC” Nunes (vocals) Matt Kato (drums) and Jasio Savio (guitar) with Tim Corker (bass), Ken Lykes (keys) and DJ Packo, the Honolulu, HI-based sextet Kings of Spade can trace their origins back to when Nunes,  a self-described “somber, closeted queer kid, who felt soul and blues music,” was bartending at Honolulu’s Anna Bananas and was pulled up on the stage to sing. “They started playing ‘Sweet Child O’Mine,” Nunes says in press notes.  “I started singing and was like ‘Hey, I sound pretty good.”

Interestingly, Jasio Savio frequently sat in with the bar’s house band. “He wasn’t old enough to drink,” Nunes recalls. “But he would start and rip these Johnny Cash tunes.” As the story goes, they were both impressed by each other. “You feel this energy when she sings,” Savio says. “My first thought was ‘Damn, she’s going to be famous.'” As the story goes Nunes approached Savio and suggested they start a band. They recruited Matt Kato, a local punk rock drummer and played with a revolving door of bassists until they found Tim Corker. As a quartet that played power chord-based blues riff rock, they didn’t find their hometown to be very receptive to their sound — although Nunes took it upon herself to book club shows that featured the band alongside local DJs, artists and other bands. After amassing a decent local following, the band relocated to Southern California in 2006 to chase their dreams. But as Nunes and Kato quickly found out, the big city isn’t very welcoming; in fact, they were barely scarping by — and they were forced to sell their blood for cash. “Everyone at the clinic looked down-on-their-luck,” Nunes remembers. “I was hooked up to a plasma machine, reading the self-help books. This was the lowest point in my life.”

After three years of crushing let-downs and disappointment, Nunes, Savio and Kato quit their jobs and gave up their shared apartment in preparation for a lengthy tour that was just booked by their new manager; however, he disappeared once they figured out that there wasn’t an actual tour. They returned home to Hawaii, and ironically enough, upon their return, they finally fell into some good fortune. Several years later, the band played at SXSW, where former Headbanger’s Ball host and MTV VJ Riki Rachtman caught them — and after catching them, he booked them to play a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of his old metal club, The Cathouse, best known for giving rise to Guns N’ Roses. Around the same time, they met Sue Damon, the ex-wife of The Beach Boys’ Mike Love. “She was a huge supporter of ours, bought us a new drum set. She was a total free spirit, who could party all of us under under the table. She ended up passing away. But all of us have her initials tattooed on us.”

Interestingly, the band’s self-titled Dave Cobb-produced full-length was recorded in Nashville over the course of two weeks.  “He produced a band I like, Rival Sons, which had this old-school sound with modern energy—like, analog-tape soul built into it,” Jesse says, admiringly. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the swaggering and stomping, bluesy  ripper “Bottom’s Up” is raucous, party anthem that’s inspired by their late friend and patron Sue Damon, and their own experiences partying ridiculously hard that sounds as though it were influenced by Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, Electric Blue Watermelon-era North Mississippi All Stars and The Black Keys — all while further cementing their reputation for boozy, power chord centered, riff-based rock. 

New Audio: Electric Citizen Releases a Black Sabbath-like New Single

With the release of 2014’s full-length debut Sateen, the Cincinnati, OH-based quartet Electric Citizen, currently comprised of husband and wife duo, Laura Dolan (vocals) and Ross Dolan (guitar), along with Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums), received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that’s indebted to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, early 70s Rush and others. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on a busy schedule of touring both nationally and internationally with several renowned acts, including Fu Manchu, Wolfmother, The Budos Band, and Pentagram.

The Cincinnati heavy psych rock/heavy metal quartet’s sophomore effort, 2016’s sophomore effort Higher Time found the band expanding upon their sound, as they were crafting muscular and anthemic hooks around prog rock-like structures — within concise songs that typically clocked in at around 3 minutes or so. Additionally, the album found the band’s Lauran Dolan stepping up into more of a frontperson role, which was reflected in their live shows to support their sophomore effort, as she strutted, stomped and swaggered with a larger-than-life confidence. And unsurprisingly, the album was released to massive critical applause from the likes of Consequence of Sound, who placed it on their 20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016.

Slated for a September 28, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, Electric Citizen’s forthcoming, third full-length effort Helltown derives its name from the neighborhood in which the members of the band live, practices and where the album was written recorded and mixed. Although now more prosaically known as Northside, Helltown earned its name in the early 1800s. thanks to a reputation for the rowdy taverns frequented by the neighborhood’s factory workers and immigrants. And while being an ode to the band’s neighborhood and its buried past, the album reportedly is a sonic return to form with the band employing a grittier sound along the lines of their 2014 debut. Adding upon the overall homecoming theme, the band returns to their original lineup. As the band’s Laura Dolan says in press notes, “In many ways this album is a realignment to the first,” Laura says. “We experimented a lot on the second album, some of which we learned we didn’t like.”

“Hide It In The Night,” Helltown‘s first single is centered around Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin power chords, thundering drumming, arena rock friendly hooks and Laura Dolan’s rock star belter vocals — and while heavily indebted to its influences, the track will further cement the Cincinnati-based band’s reputation for tough, gritty, power chord rippers with an anthemic, larger-than-life feel. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “New Earth” is centered around a blistering, bluesy power chord riff, thundering drumming, arena rock-friendly hooks, and Dolan belting her lungs out. Arguably, the song is one of the most straightforward, riff-centered Black Sabbath-like singles they’ve released in some time time. It’s a certifiable headbanger that’s perfect for drinking way too much in your local bar or while catching them live.

New Audio: Swedish Doom Metal Act Alastor Releases an Anthemic and Expansive Single

With the release of 2017’s 3-song debut album Black Magic through Twin Earth Records and the Blood on Satan’s Claw EP, the mysterious Swedish doom metal quartet Alastor, comprised of Dharma Gheddon (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, organ), Lucy Ferian (lead guitar, acoustic guitar, organ), Terry Fying (guitar) and Levi Athan (drums) quickly received attention for crafting a heavy and doom-filled sound that harkened to when the genre was primarily played by and listened by rebels, oculists, lurkers and depraved weirdos that’s centered around enormous, distortion-fed power chords, thundering drumming and expansive song structures.

Building upon their growing profile, the members of the Swedish doom metal act went into the studio with engineer Magnus Sorensen to record their forthcoming album, Slave to the Grave, which RidingEasy Records will fittingly release on Halloween — and as the band’s Lucy Fenian explains, is ” . . . an album that circles around the concept of death. It’s about death in both its spiritual and personal meaning — how death is a part of our everyday life. How it affects our thoughts and actions, How some of us spend our entire life in fear of death, while some seek it. But no matter how you live your life and no matter what you achieve here on this Earth. You are still just a slave to the grave.”  The album’s anthemic yet murky title track and latest single “Slave to the Grave” is centered around enormous power chords, thundering and propulsive drumming, severely down-turned bass, arena rock friendly hooks and an expansive song structure that helps evoke Black Sabbath and others.

New Audio: The Death Wheelers Return with a Bruising and Face Melting Single

The Canadian instrumental band The Death Wheelers, comprised of  Max “The Axe” Tremblay, Richard “The Bastard” Turcotte, Sy “Wild Rye” Tremblay and Hugo “Red Beard” Bertacchi have largely been inspired by theaesthetics and ethos of bikesploitation movies such as The Wild Angels, Werewolves on Wheels and Psychomania, as well as Davie Allen, The Cramps, Motorhead, The Stooges and Grand Funk Railroad — and the end result is incredibly sleazy, primal and downright bruising and face melting rock.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s soon-to-be released album  I Tread On Your Grave is slated for a May 11, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album was devised to serve as the soundtrack for an imaginary B-movie with an incredible plot: Decimated in 1972 by local authorities, all members of The Death Wheelers, a notorious motorcycle club, have been buried at the Surrey cemetery. After some time, the motorcycle club has risen from the grave for their last ride — and of course, they’re hungry for blood, mayhem and violence. This brutal, living dead motorcycle gang travel from coast-to-coast to find and recruit the nastiest, filthiest, trashiest individuals to join their ranks with the goal of assembling a legion of 13 discycles (disciples + cycles, of course) to see revenge on the pigs that dismantled the club and sent the dead members of the club to their graves.” Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Crack” a raw, swampy and bluesy track that sounded like a bluesy lovechild of  ZZ Top, Howlin’ Wolf and Portland‘s R.I.P thanks to some boozy, guitar pyrotechnics and a forceful immediacy. The album’s latest single “Roadkill 69” features a hilarious sample featuring the iconoclastic actress Divine, known for her insane roles in John Waters’ legendarily perverse films as an apt introduction to a face melting bruiser that sounds as though it were written by Rob Zombie.

New Audio: Sweden’s SVVAMP Returns with a Classic Rock Inspired, Power Chord-based, Arena Rocker

Comprised of three long-time friends, Adam Johansson,  Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren, who all share vocal duties, the Jönköping, Sweden-based trio SVVAMP can trace their origins to a mutual love of rock, folk and blues, and unsurprisingly, the band has received quite a bit of praise for a classic rock-inspired heavy psych rock/rock ‘n’ roll sound that draws Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse — but with an unpretentious, genuine and downright uicontrvibed sound and vibe. And as a result, the Swedish trio’s self-titled debut landed in the Top 20 Albums of 2016 in the Doom Charts consortium of music journalists, critics and radio stations.

SVVAMP 2, the Swedish trio’s highly-anticipated sophomore, full-length effort is slated for a June 8, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band making the massive, technological jump from self-recording on a 4-track tape deck to a 6-track tape deck, which allows the band to expand upon their overall sound while improving its fidelity. Interestingly, SVVAMP’s move from 4-track to 6-track recording follows the development of early psych rock bands moving towards increasingly state-of-the-art studio equipment (for their day), going from 4, then 6, then 8 and eventually 16 tracks and onward; however, as the band’s Adam Johansson explains, their sophomore effort finds the band stripping some elements of their sound down with all of the instruments being treated equally. “They all have their place in a song,” he says. “Obvious with 6-tracks now available, we’ve had a bit of fun with that.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about “Queen,”SVVAMP 2’s swaggering and self-assured first single, a track that finds the band crafting a sound that sounded as though it could have been released in 1968, thanks in part to its enormous, power chord-based riff, and arena rock friendly hooks that immediately bring Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Allman Brothers Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse but within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure. “Hillside,” the album’s second single will further the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for crafting 60s and early 70s inspired hard psych and rock — and while the song may remind some listeners of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” the song has the band managing to balance the cool, self-assured of old pros, who know what they’re doing and how to go about it, and an immediacy of three musicians in a room, quickly honing in on the same frequency. 

New Audio: Portland’s Blackwater Holylight Returns with a Trippy and Expansive Take on 60s Psych Rock

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight, and as you may recall, the band comprised of founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass),  Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the band, which can trace its origins to when one of Faris’ previous bands broke up, and she wanted to begin experiment what her own version of what “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally with the primary aim to celebrate vulnerability all of its forms. But along with that, as Faris explains in in press notes, because she was the only female in her previous band, she wanted to see how her “songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat, and working with women.” 

RidingEasy Records will be releasing Blackwater Holylight’s self-titled review on April 6, 2018 and from the Breeders-like alt rock meets shoegaze “Sunrise,” and the Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath heavy, power chord dirge and strident, feminist anthem “Wave of Conscience,” the Portland-based quartet have shown that their material draws from a wide array of sources with a piss and vinegar-fueled, kick ass and take names sort of self-assuredness. And unsurprisingly, the album’s latest single “Willow” continues in a similar vein while being their most expansive and most 60s psych rock-inspired song they’ve released from the album to date, as the band shifts tempo and mood while centered around some explosive guitar pyrotechnics and ethereal harmonies.