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Monday, 17 September 2018
Before David Bowie gifted Mott The Hoople ‘All The Young Dudes’, the song that would turn their fortunes around, they were on the verge of splitting up completely, playing a few final shows due to a contractual obligation. Originally part of Island Records late 60s/early 70s coterie of British “underground” rock bands that included among others Free, Spooky Tooth, Traffic, Blodwyn Pig, King Crimson, Heavy Jelly, Vinegar Joe and Jethro Tull, the band had been partly conceived, created and named after a Willard Manus novel by maverick Island in-house producer Guy Stevens who wanted a group that would fuse together Blonde On Blonde/Highway 61 Revisited era Dylan with the Rock ‘n’ Roll raunch of the Rolling Stones. Adding Shropshire singer/songwriter Ian Hunter to established, hard gigging Hereford band Silence, led by guitarist Mick Ralphs, Stevens had a band that had depth and lyrical sophistication but live were one of the most thrilling bands on the planet that would tear up venues night after night (it was a Mott The Hoople gig that got rock shows banned from The Royal Albert Hall in the 70s after a minor riot) and it was said that “on a good night, they were the best band in the world”. Between 1969 and 1971 Mott The Hoople recorded four albums for Island, with Stevens at the controls for the majority of the sessions, however their live reputation never lent itself to record sales and any attempt to break America was met with indifference with Island dropping the band after the release of Brain Capers in November 1971. The period that Mott The Hoople were on Island has been somewhat ignored. There was a compilation, Rock And Roll Queen, released in 1972 to take advantage of the band’s new found fame but most “Best Of’s” and newer releases tend to unsurprisingly concentrate on the hits on CBS……………until now. Mental Train (The Island Years 1969 - 1971) is a 6 x CD box set that brings together all four albums, remastered and with a ton of bonus tracks, plus a disc that comprises more unheard and, in some cases, unreleased music from the Island archive and to round everything off, a disc of live material recorded at Fairfield Hall, Croydon on 13th September 1970 plus a BBC Radio One In Concert from the Paris Theatre, London on 30th December 1971. Complete with extensive sleeve notes by the former Mott The Hoople fan club secretary, the veteran Rock writer Kris Needs (who also had a hand in selecting the disc of rarities) and a 50-page booklet designed by Phil Smee who scoured the archives for rare photos and memorabilia, tracing the evolution of the band, this is the most comprehensive collection of the band’s formative years to date.
Released in a sleeve depicting a brain teasing colorized reproduction of Escher's lithograph Reptiles, the debut, self titled, Mott The Hoople LP hit the record shops on November 22 1969. A cult hit among British heads, reaching 66 on the UK charts, the first album fits Guy Steven’s vision of Dylan fronting the Stones with a mix of covers (Doug Sham’s fantastic ‘At the Crossroads’, Sonny Bono’s ‘Laugh At Me’ and a berserk instrumental version of The Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’) and some Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs songs. As a Blonde On Blonde era Dylan tribute Mott The Hoople works perfectly as Hunter’s piano intertwines with Verden Allen’s Hammond organ throughout the record creating swirling soundscapes underneath Hunter’s Dylan-esque sandpaper vocals on Mott originals ‘Backsliding Fearlessly’ and ‘Half Moon Bay’. The second side of the record has a rockier edge, featuring probably the best known song from this LP……….Mick Ralphs’ ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ is typical of much of his songwriting from this era with proto-metal riffing and…….erm………nowadays questionable lyrics about hard lovin’ women that Ralphs would eventually find International fame with Bad Company (‘Can’t Get Enough’ was originally written for Mott The Hoople fact fans). Ralphs provided counterbalance to Hunter’s Dylan influences, contributing songwriting and lead vocals on many of Mott’s best known songs of the Island era in addition to being a vastly under rated guitar player. Nearly 50 years on, much of the first Mott The Hoople LP still stands up well today………..although patchy in places it was the blue print for their time at Island. The bonus tracks included with the debut album collect together several alternate versions of ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ and ‘You Really Got Me’ plus Hunter’s ‘Road to Birmingham’ that first appeared as a single B side, although interesting not really essential.
Although critically savaged in the music press, Mad Shadows is a fantastic album and more influential than anybody dared to believe at the time. Released September 1970, this is where Mott The Hoople really started to find their way. Featuring a collection of original songs predominantly written by Ian Hunter and produced again by Guy Stevens it’s a much darker record with the Dylan influences still to the fore and no doubt the best of their four Island records. Mad Shadows includes five astounding Hunter compositions (‘No Wheels To Ride’, ‘You Are One Of Us’, ‘I Can Feel’, ‘When My Mind’s Gone’ and the ballsy Rock ‘n’ Roll wig out ‘Walking With A Mountain’) and possibly Mott The Hoople’s best song from the Island years, Ralphs’ electrifying ‘Thunderbuck Ram’. It’s a collection of songs that where criminally misunderstood at the time of release, with only Ralphs’ badly dated throwaway ‘Threads Of Iron’ a weak link, it’s a record that has aged beautifully over the passing of time and is due for a serious reassessment. If you only ever buy one Mott The Hoople record from their early years make sure it’s Mad Shadows. The bonus tracks include the alternate version of ‘Thunderbuck Ram’ that could be found on the Island sampler LP Bumpers and a BBC radio session recording of the same song along with a collection of demos, rehearsal cuts and alternative takes from the recording sessions. The live disc, It’s Live And Live Only, includes tracks recorded at Fairfield Hall, Croydon weeks before Mad Shadows hit the record racks and shows what a blistering Rock ‘n’ Roll band Mott The Hoople where on stage at the turn of the 70s……….."Mott would swing relentlessly and unstoppably into their show every night, like a marauding band of outlaws and every night there was something close to a riot – the kids couldn't get close enough; they simply couldn’t get enough. Ian Hunter – the unwritten boss – would plant himself centre-stage behind his shades and dare anyone to remain seated." Brian May, Queen…………..The centerpiece of the Fairfield Hall recordings is a stunning mash up of ‘No Wheels to Ride’ and ‘Hey Jude’ that is included with furious live versions of ‘Thunderbuck Ram’ and ‘Rock And Roll Queen’. No stranger to cover versions, Mott would take on classic tunes and completely own them and the live disc sees them dragging CSN&Y’s ‘Ohio’ from the West Coast to the West Midlands and giving it a good kicking along with supercharged versions of ‘Keep A-Knockin’ and ‘You Really Got Me’………….when most band’s were coming down in the post Psychedelic haze, Mott The Hoople were kicking in the doors and tearing the roof offa tha mutha. The live recordings show how understated the late Overend Watts and Buffin Griffin’s contribution to Mott The Hoople was……….never flashy but rock solid always propelling the band forward creating a solid base for Ralphs, Hunter and Allen to bend songs into strange and exciting shapes.
Let’s face it, Wild Life is a bit rubbish. Stung by the commercial failure of Mad Shadows Mott The Hoople returned to the studio late 1970 without Stevens to produce their own record. Although there are a few cracking tunes, including Hunter’s pastoral ‘Waterlow’ and sublime ‘Angel of Eighth Avenue’, Wild Life is the sound of a band seriously losing its way. Flirting with Country Rock, Gospel influences and an acoustic bucolic sound more akin to label mates Traffic, it sounds like a band desperate to have a hit record by introducing alien elements into their music……….of course there is yer by now expected Mick Ralphs’ paean to hard lovin’ women, ‘Whiskey Women’, but even then there is a shortage of songs with the album bulked out by 10 minutes of ‘Keep A-Knockin’’ from the Fairfield Hall recordings. With bonus tracks that include singles from the Wild Life sessions it’s not Mott The Hoople’s finest hour, even though it it charted 4 places higher than Mad Shadows.
With Guy Stevens back at the controls, Brain Capers was a return to form. Dedicated to the memory of James Dean, Mott The Hoople’s last album for Island, released in December 1971, returned to the Dylan/Stones fusion from the first two records with a much heavier sound. Possibly the “heaviest” of the early Mott records, Brain Capers has a post Psychedelic Hard Rock sheen with Allen’s snarling Hammond and Ralphs’ crunching guitar riffs not a million miles away from the sound of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep on tracks such as ‘Death May Be Your Santa Claus’ and the brilliant ‘The Moon Upstairs’. Apart from a couple of great covers (Jesse Colin Young’s ‘Darkness, Darkness’ and Dion’s ‘Your Own Backyard’) and a solo writing credit for Verden Allen for the soulful ‘Second Love’, Brain Capers is dominated by Hunter’s ever improving song writing has he slowly becomes the focal point of the band. The bonus tracks are fantastic collection of raw demos and alternate takes including early versions of ‘One Of The Boys’ and ‘Mommas Little Jewel’ that would later appear on All the Young Dudes. The second half of the live disc features a recording on 30 December 1971 from the Paris Theatre, London for a BBC Radio One, In Concert broadcast and features five tracks from Brain Capers (plus ‘Whiskey Women’ from Wild Life) with Mott in their element playing in front of a live audience. More focused than Wild Life, Brain Capers was supposed to be the record that turned Mott The Hoople’s formidable live reputation into record sales but to say that it died on it’s arse is something of a understatement. It was the first Mott album that failed to chart either in the UK or USA leading to Island dropping the band. Disillusioned and due to split up after a final gig in Zurich in March 1972………..that was until Bowie got wind of what was happening from Overend Watts and, reveling himself to be a massive fan of the band, persuaded them to carry on, first offering ‘Suffragette City’ before it was decided that ‘All The Young Dudes’ suited Mott best. The rest, they say, is another story for later on………………
Mott The Hoople’s output for Island was prodigious with four LPs in the space of just over 2 years. Disc 5 of Mental Train, The Ballads of Mott The Hoople, gathers together a mix of out takes, demos, alternate versions, live recordings and unreleased songs that there wasn’t room to include with the bonus tracks on the four albums, making this box as complete as possible history of the Island years. It’s a beautifully presented collection of mostly hard to find early material but at around forty quid of your hard earned, it’s more for the hardcore Mott fan and not intended as an introduction to the band (we recommend the 2009 The Very Best Of Mott The Hoople for that).
Due for release 02/11/2018, Mental Train (The Island Years 1969 - 1971) is available to pre-order now from all the usual suspects.
Saturday, 15 September 2018
With the Liverpool Psych Fest taking 2018 off as a “fallow” year leaving a hole in the festival calendar, the perfect opportunity arose for someone to fill the gap. Step forward Fuzz Club, the ever expanding London Psych Rock label who have just curated one of the best ever Psych Fest line ups for quite some time at the lauded Effenaar venue in Eindhoven. Spread over two days with two rooms of music, it was a celebration of everything Fuzz Club with a bill to die for with bands from across the globe that included the label’s big hitters 10,000 Russos along with the well respected “cult” bands and breakthrough acts that Fuzz Club have brought to the attention of the discerning PsychHead over the years such as Pretty Lightning, Sonic Jesus, Dead Rabbits, RMFTM, Sekel, Dead Vibrations, Helicon, The Oscillation and JuJu plus a few other bands that have links to the label through Fuzz Club’s essential Reverb Conspiracy compilations and the raw and live Fuzz Club Session’s releases such as Holy Wave, Josefin Öhrn and Ulrika Spacek. Add to the mix of great Fuzz Club related bands two of the current scene’s heavyweights, The Black Angels and A Place To Bury Strangers, then you really have got a “wish list” festival.
Day 1 featured sets from German Spook Blues duo Pretty Lightning, Brit Shoegazers Dead Rabbits and a somewhat more subdued than normal performance from Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation before Ulrika Spacek took everything up a notch with their own take on Detroit meets Cologne Rock ‘n’ Roll. The first day was spent mainly exploring the festival, soaking up the the vibes (which throughout the weekend were brilliant no doubt helped by in part by the……erm…..”enhanced” local cakes and confectionery available) and digging the sounds. The first real discovery was the excellent Ron Gallo who up till now had managed to stray way off our radar. Energetic and thrilling Gallo and his band played a blistering set of fuzzed up and freaked out Garage Punk to a wild and appreciative crowd in the smaller second room………if you like stuff like Ty Segal, Thee Oh Sees (or whatever their name is at the moment) etc.,etc., Ron Gallo is someone you really should check out. The absolute highlight of Day 1 was no doubt the phenomenal set from Brooklyn noiseniks A Place To Bury Strangers……………..Mostly obscured in a haze of smoke and a barrage of strobe lights APTBS were visceral to the extreme with a 60 minute ear splitting assault on mind and body with an eventual coming together of band and audience in psychedelic communion. After nearly 15 years of solid touring and recording it seems that APTBS time has finally come.
If the first day was about hanging out and checking the bands, it was Day 2 when the party really kicked off. After great sets from both The Oscillation and Tales Of Murder And Dust it was Sonic Jesus that got the party started with their 80s influenced dark psychedelic Synth Pop which eventually ended up with countless people on stage and Bez style freaky dancin’. In reality JuJu is a solo project from ex Lay Llama Gioele Valenti where Krautrock, Afro-Beat and Psych Rock are effortlessly blended together and last year’s debut for Fuzz Club was a huge critical success turning on countless new folk to this spellbinding band ……….JuJu live is a solid hour of groove where the pulverizing bass lines, heavily-reverbed guitars, textured walls of sound, gospel drones and crooning vocals from the records are all present and correct and with its rhythmic, otherworldly psychedelia alternating between the Teutonic sheen of Neu! and the funky Afro-Beat rhythms from Western Africa, Gioele and his heavy friends summon all kinds of spirits from down town Lagos to the neon lit streets of Dusseldorf. One of the highlights of last year’s Liverpool Psych Fest, JuJu again totally nailed it with a killer set among their Psych Rock peers. Another band that has slowly been gathering fans over the last few years is French duo The Limiñanas. With a sound that is akin to Serge Gainsburg being filtered through the narcotic haze of the Velvet Underground, they have been releasing records since 2009. With BJM’s Anton Newcombe at the controls for their last record, Shadow People, they have developed a much harder, rockier sound that is really evident live. One of the unexpected highlights of the weekend………..with the drums right up at the front of the stage and in your face (and a guy in a suit……erm…….dancing on the riser where the drums usually are set up) and the sound bulked out with a load of additional musicians, The Limiñanas were gloriously loud and messy with a set that featured songs drawn mainly from their excellent last record with a few choice cuts from 2016’s Malamore.
The Black Angels are arguably the most important Psych Rock band of the last decade and the perfect choice to headline Fuzz Club’s first ever festival. Slowly crossing over to a more mainstream Alt-Rock audience (but on their own terms), they have been touring the world and other planets since last year and hitting the major European Alt-Rock festivals this summer. Road hardened from nearly a year’s worth of gigging, The Black Angels live have morphed into a mean, lean Psychedelic Rock experience that’s both utterly thrilling and absolutely mind bending justifying without a doubt their headliner status. With the addition of some well chosen older tunes, the set list comprised mainly of songs from Death Songs with the pulsing ‘I Dreamt’ and the sizzling ‘I’d Kill For You’ being particular highlights. With a barrage of eye popping visuals, The Black Angels are the consummate Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll band playing an easy blend of trippy tunes and more guitar heavy Rock songs with a solid spine of Nuggets influences, retooling them for a modern audience.
For a first festival from Fuzz Club this was brilliant……..Eindhoven may not be as expansive in terms of visuals and scope as Liverpool yet, but give it time. Both rooms sounded great which is always a plus and once the lights kicked in on the main stage retinas were duly frazzled. If it turns out to be a one off, then it was legendary.……….we are expecting the Fuzz Club festival to return bigger and better as the response from the PsychHeads who made it there has been more than excellent.........plus we have not had this much fun at a Psych Fest for absolutely ages and we could not recommend more you getting your ass to Eindhoven .
Saturday, 1 September 2018
High up in their home in the Swedish wilderness, under northern lights, white snow and freezing blizzards, the self titled debut album from UFO Över Lappland was birthed from heavy jams, long motorik rhythm sessions and frantic freak outs during studio time as far back as 2012. It’s blend of sparse spacey drone outs and muscular Krautrock grooves, originally available as a 2016 cassette only release on the tiny Swedish micro boutique label Fluere Tapes, that now gets a full vinyl and CD re-issue with new artwork by the far out folk at Sulatron. It’s a welcome vinyl release of four excellent hypnotic tracks full of powerful rhythms, spacey sounds, pulsing bass, and tripped out guitars by a band that up to now have………erm………been flying well below the radar.
Easing into the glacial kosmic opener, ‘Keep On keepin´ On Space Truckin´’, UFO Över Lappland effortlessly mix the driving relentless rhythms of Neu! with bubbling synths and languid guitar…………it’s not pushing at the boundaries of Psychedelic Space Rock, treading a well travelled path but it grooves beautifully on the very edge of a hazily narcotic state of mind. The first side of the disc closes with the more experimental improvised deep space jam of ‘JaEDeJaE’ before we hit the mind blowing second side of this record. ‘Podzol’ is a instant stoned immaculate classic……beaming signals back to earth from a far distant galaxy, the track builds on layers of hum and static surfing the space waves before bursting into shards of fuzzed out guitar noise and raw primal energy before we loose the transmission. ‘Nothing That Lives Has....Such Eyes’ is just as good, a slow burning kosmische journey where no turn is unstoned until crashing into the heart of an exploding sun burning white hot. UFO Över Lappland is easy companion next to the likes of Electric Moon, Sherpa and Sun Dial in the rest of Sulatron’s excellent Acid/Kraut/Space/Psych Rock releases over the last few years and is well worth your time for side two alone. The CD release comes with a bonus track ‘Lemmy On The Beach’ where the clue is really is in the title………it’s a swirling bass heavy tune that sounds like Hawkwind’s stoner starship crash landing in Dusseldorf circa 1973. You can check the album out here…………..
Due for release 21/09/2018 on limited edition white vinyl (500 copies) and on CD, available to pre-order from the usual groovy online traders or direct from Sulatron.
Saturday, 25 August 2018
For their third LP, Sundowner, Belgian band Angels Die Hard again bring together a multitude of influences to create another strange brew of heady, psychedelia infused genre bending Post Rock instrumentals. Casting their net far and wide for inspiration Angels Die Hard mix together early 70s Asian Psychedelia, Afro-Beat, Krautrock, shimmering Post Punk guitars and Electronica to stunning effect……... wide screen and expansive, Sundowner has a big bold sound crammed with layer upon layer of vibrant texture.
From the moment the needle hits the vinyl, Sundowner is a massive swirl of tumbling guitars, ferocious percussion and liquid bass lines with ‘Tears Of The Cobra’ and ‘Stray Angel’ kicking off a album of “whirled music” where the European Post Rock/Krautrock influences crash against styles and sounds from around the globe. A near comparison is former Lay Llama Gioele Valenti’s JuJu project where a melting pot of music creates a sound where uptown Kampala meets downtown Cologne. Sometimes stark and futuristic, sometimes raw and rootsy, Angels Die Hard elegantly mix their sonic palette to create vivid “sound pictures” with slashes of guitar, a powerful rhythm section and subtle Electronica…………. ‘Acid Beach’ is the perfect illustration of where Angels Die Hard are at with this record. Guitars slowly emerge from a haze of drifting synths and tribal drumming, dipping and swooping in a thrilling dance to the death as layers upon layer of six string squall twist and turn in a sacred space where Free Jazz and Noise Rock co-exist before abruptly crashing back to Earth. Amid the beautiful noise there are more delicate offerings such as ‘Dancing Algae’ where the primitive electronic soundscaping of John Carpenter meets the cavernous sound of Tangerine Dream, the Future Dub of ‘Gutter Glory’ which has echoes of Jah Wobbles more experimental recordings and the sublime LP closer ‘Dirty Sunset’. Beautifully constructed, Sundowner sees Angels Die Hard take Psych Rock towards an imagined future as far away as possible from the Neu!, Sonic Youth, Hawkwind axis that dominates much of modern Psychedelia. Another excellent release from Jezus Factory, a London label dedicated to all things Benelux, and well worth your time.
Sundowner will be released on 17/09/2018 on pink vinyl through Heaven Hotel (Benelux) and Jezus Factory (UK) with pre-orders being taken through all the usual suspects on line or direct from the Jezus Factory shop.
Sunday, 22 July 2018
Making waves, albeit in a relatively small pond, back home in Finland playing a powerful Krautrock/Punk/Psych Rock hybrid Teksti-TV 666 have set their sights further afield for their second LP Aidattu Tulevaisuus, due for release early September by Svart Records. Following their debut LP 1,2,3, which was a compilation of their first three EPs that fused influences ranging from Heavy Metal and Krautrock to Punk and Shoegaze and was an essential cult artefact for the more discerning record buyer, Teksti-TV 666 are back with a new album that bolts the furious proto-Punk riffing of the Stooges and the Noise Rock of Sonic Youth onto a sturdy chassis of motorik grooves. It’s a thrilling white knuckle ride as the band hurl themselves into a swirling abyss of guitars and relentless forward motion gaining momentum by the second. The band create an infectious Pysch Punk rush that is undeniably exciting even on first listen, as well as pieces that are ambitious, multi-layered sonic assaults that sets Teksti-TV 666 apart from many of their their peers.
Although much more than the sum of it’s influences, Aidattu Tulevaisuus is a very modern album in the sense that Teksti-TV 666 pick’n’mix from a whole shop full of cool sounds but with songs twisted into intriguing shapes and sung in their native language it’s a record that sees the band stamp their own identity on familiar structures. Teksti-TV 666 thing is guitars, loads of ‘em………..recently slimmed down to a line up of only four guitarists, the band construct wave upon wave of loud crashing guitars that builds into an heavy but dynamic, measured, enormous wall of sound. Opening with the brutal, high octane thrash of ‘Turbo-Mondeo’, sounding as if Neu! were conceived as a Ramones tribute band, Teksti-TV 666 tear through 5 tracks in just over 30 minutes dipping and soaring through Ron Ashton-esque riffs, heavy Stoner/Psych Rock and Noise Pop before closing with the mind blowing ‘Katko’. With a running time of close to 10 minutes, ‘Katko’ is the sound that is made when the No-Wave Noise Rock scene from 80’s NYC crash lands in Cologne circa 1972………..with the bottom end held down tight with pulsing bass and propulsive drums, Teksti-TV 666 four guitarists are given space to spark off each other or go spinning off into elliptical orbits, crashing back together for the final few minutes of glorious noise. Teksti-TV 666 may not be doing anything totally original (we past that point quite a while ago) but Aidattu Tulevaisuus is a absolute wild ride of a record and well worth your time if a new band putting a twist on Krautrock/Punk/Psych Rock is your thing.
Due for release 07/09/2018 on either orange, green or blue limited edition vinyl and CD, Aidattu Tulevaisuus is available to pre-order now direct from Svart Records or the usual suspects on line.
Sunday, 15 July 2018
There’s epic, and there’s EPIC!!!!…………..sprawling over five sides of vinyl, The Saving Of Cadan, the latest release by Cornish Prog/Psych/Freak Rock band Hanterhir spins a tale rooted in Cornish myth and folklore that’s unashamedly vast in its scope and ambition. Conceived and recorded deep in the countryside around the town of Redruth, a world away from the mainstream music scene, The Saving Of Cadan brings together traditional songcraft with trippy Acid Folk and Psych Rock squall outs to create possibly the first ever concept album that has a collection of songs with lyrics alternating between English and Cornish, telling the story about a boy, Cadan, who tries to drown himself in a lake on Carn Marth but gets saved by a wicked spirit (The Lady of the Lake or Morwenna) who has herself been cursed to the lake. With echoes of 70s Folk/Prog with its expansive soundscape that includes saxophone, fiddle and flute added to more standard Rock instruments, a hint of bands such as Horslips where traditional influences are bulked up with loud guitars and a modern Psychedelic Rock sheen, Hanterhir have forged their own idiosyncratic path in splendid isolation away from any current “scene” where The Saving Of Cadan is undoubtedly “Made In Cornwall” but with a universal appeal. Having already found a loyal ProgHead following across Southwest England, Hanterhir are now turning their eyes toward the wider UK audience.
With a running time of around the 100 minute mark, The Saving Of Cadan really needs to listened to in one sitting be fully appreciated, twisting and turning through several contrasting moods and textures as the record ebbs and flows through gentle Folk influenced reveries to barely controlled fuzzed up guitar wig outs. It’s a journey that takes the listener from reverb soaked ethereal tracks such as ‘Cadan’, Cornish folklore being channeled through songs such as ‘Darallow’, ‘Arloedhes A’n Lydn’ and ‘Dygoweth’, Acid Folk infused cuts like ‘Alone Again’ and ‘The Light’ to the free form Psych Rock freak outs of ‘Hello Sunshine’, ‘The Dream’, ‘The Sun Came Up Again’ and ‘Morwenna And The Lamb’. Fans of “classic” BritProg will really love this record……..yes it’s a 70s influenced Prog Rock album at heart but scratch the surface it is so much more, firmly grounded in a twilight world of the imagination where Prog Rock, Psychedelia, Folk and Jazz co-exist The Saving Of Cadan follows a linear path through the years snatching inspiration from the 70s through every decade that follows.
Due for release 27 July 2018 by Easy Action Records on limited edition 3 x LP and 2 x CD, The Saving Of Cadan is available to pre-order from all the usual on line retailers or can be pre-ordered directly from the Easy Action store.
Tuesday, 10 July 2018
THE 16 EYES - LOOK (Area Pirata Records LP, D/L). KILLER KLOWN - CRAPPY CIRCUS (Area Pirata Records LP, D/L). GHIBLIS - SURFINIA (Area Pirata Records CD, D/L). LUPE VELEZ - WEIRD TALES (Area Pirata Records CD, D/L).
Check this People………..new(ish) from Area Pirata Records (the home of Italian Garage Rock don’tcha know) four very similar, but also very very different Garage/Punk/Psych records that highlight how diverse the scene is. From surfer wig outs to more straight ahead Rock influences and everything in between, these records have it all.
Outta Phoenix but forged in the Garage /Punk/ Psych/ Mod scenes of New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Cincinnati , The 16 Eyes are new group comprised of Garage Rock veterans whose musical CV includes bands such as The Outta Place, The Optic Nerve, The Primeval Unknown, The Automatic Erasers, Odds & Sods, The Lone Wolves, The Tickets, Labor Party, Battered Suitcases, Jeff Dahl Band, 8Five Kalidocolor, Doc & The Pods, The Cybermen, The Freaks of Nature, The Primate 5, Sinister Six and The Glory Holes. Released on Area Pirata Records, the band’s debut record, Look, gathers together 13 sharp originals along with their frantic version of the much covered Eddie Holland song ‘Leaving Here’ and it’s a nuclear blast of British Beat/R&B influences that channels the amphetamine charged sound of The Who, The Kinks and The Yardbirds rippin’ it up down in the Soho clubs during the mid 60s. We know there are hundreds of bands that have tapped into the sound of the post-Mod, pre-Psychedelic Freakbeat era of British music, but The 16 Eyes just seem to do it better than most. Short and sweet sounds abound with most of the 14 tracks clocking in around the two minute mark, standard time for a Freakbeat classic, as The 16 Eyes strip their songs down to a pure 60s essence. For fans of the genre this record well worth your time, check it out here…………….
Killer Klown are an absolute riot. Jacked up on the maximum Garage/Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll sleaze of The Cramps and The Stooges, they have been tearing it up since the mid 90’s, mixing classic 60s Garage Rock influences with a snarling Punk attitude. Back with their first album in seven years following a line up change, Crappy Circus is a karnival of swirling 60s keys, manic Punk Rock riffing and crashing drums, neatly picking up where the last left off. There is nothing faintly fancy about this record………..timeless Rock ‘n’ Roll played as if Killer Klown’s lives depended on it. Essential listening if you like your Garage/Punk hard, fast and stupid. Available now on vinyl and D/L, check it out here………….
Channelling the great Surf bands from the early 60s, The Ghiblis play a strange blend of “Surf Exotica” that takes the primitive and obscure instrumental surf music of the 60s and mixes in the vibe of compilations such as Frolic Diners and Las Vegas Grind……….. add fezzes or wrestler masks, black tuxedos and a splash of Bloody Mary then shake all the ingredients and there you go………The Ventures playing all night sleazy strip joints circa 1963. Out now, their first release on Area Pirata Records is the knowingly kitsch Surfinia mini album that includes 4 original tracks and 2 covers. It’s the sound of early Southern Californian teen rebellion mixed with 60s Exotica all lovingly recreated by four guys from Italy………….Surf’s not quite up just yet. Check it out here………..
Veterans of dozens of Italian bands, Lupe Vélez collect together their wide range of influences on their new album Weird Tales. With a solid core of Garage/Punk kinetic energy running through the record, Lupe Vélez mix it up to keep it fresh with more straight ahead anthemic Hard Rock influences than most Garage rockers. Inspired on the whole more by British and Australian bands than by American Post Psychedelia, Weird Tales is a mixed bag of styles as Lupe Vélez attempt to find their own definitive voice. Although flirting with a more traditional Heavy Rock sound, there is some good stuff here……..the opening track ‘It Seems So Real’ features some tasty bottleneck playing in an cascade of tumbling drums while previous single cut ‘Mystic Man’ takes its cues from a more Post Punk/Ragga Rock hybrid than the rest of the record. Far too heavy for our delicate Psychedelic sensibilities and not really made for the discerning PsychHead but if you dig deep you will find some cool shit on Weird Tales. Check it out here………..
Saturday, 23 June 2018
With a swagger that seems de rigueur for NYC Rock ‘n’ Roll bands, Beechwood are back with a new record that cements their reputation of one of best new bands emerging from the Big Apple. Hot on the heels of Songs From The Land Of Nod, a pristine blend of scuzzy fuzzy Garage Rock and 60s inspired pop smarts that mashed together the darkly shimmering Rock ’n’ Roll of the VU with the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, Beechwood’s latest release on Alive Natural Sound, Inside The Flesh Hotel, picks up the threads from the previous record without missing a beat. With a core trash aesthetic that evokes such infamous bands like The Stooges, MC5, and the New York Dolls, the trio of Gordon Lawrence (guitar, vocals), Isa Tineo (drums, vocals) and Sid Simons (bass, vocals) have coated their visceral and aggressive Garage/Psych style songs with a Power Pop sheen giving Inside The Flesh Hotel a much more polished sound but without abandoning their sleazy Rock ‘n’ Roll roots. Coupled with more wistful, pop-leaning songs, this record is very much a quintessential New York record where hard edged Rock influences sit side by side with timeless well crafted song writing.
Opening with the electrifying blast of ‘Flesh Hotel’, Beechwood ease into a sinuous Garage/Psych groove that’s not a million miles away from raw and thrilling bands such as Night Beats, The Chesterfield Kings, The Strokes and The Flamin’ Groovies to name just a few. Over twelve great songs, Beechwood pull together sounds from the last 50 years of Garage/Psych/Alt Rock with shades of Bolan boogie on ‘Bigot in My Bedroom’, primitive Stooges riffing on ‘Nero’ and the Country lament of ‘Our Love Was Worth the Heartache’, complementing their solid spine of ballsy Rock ‘n’ Roll. From two-minute pop perfection, to the sound of drug-induced nightmare psychoses, the trio’s music hits you where it hurts. Beechwood are a unique force in today’s NYC music scene, unparalleled in its straightforward ability to reflect the raw ambition of three individuals, whose checkered pasts have left them with absolutely nothing to lose, but at only 23 years of age. When asked the question, “What would you guys be doing if you weren’t playing music?” the response was clear, “we’d be dead.” There is no “Plan B” for the members of Beechwood........this is it. Confident and assured, this is the sound of band surly destined for bigger things once the word spreads………already tearing it up in the clubs ("Their sound is a classic, hot and sweaty, raw and nasty, rock and roll spirit, that commands the room with a real classic NYC sound." – PANCAKES & WHISKEY), Beechwood are demanding your attention.
Out NOW on vinyl and CD from all the best record stores, the usual on line traders or direct from Live Natural Sound.
Friday, 22 June 2018
Back for his second full length album for Mega Dodo and the first with his new combo, the Honey Pot’s Icarus Peel gets to unleash his inner “Guitar God” on his latest waxing, The Window On The Side Of Your Head. Not to be confused with the 80s Thrash Metal band Acid Reign, ICARUS PEEL’S ACID REIGN is a power trio seeped in the time honoured tradition of classic 60s/70s bands such as The Groundhogs, Taste, Cream and of course The Experience (the touchstone for all three piece bands with the guitarist loud, upfront and in your face) with drummer Brian Rushbrooke from The Crystal Jacqueline Band and bassist Andy Budge holding down the bottom end as tight as you like providing the solid platform for Icarus Peel’s Acid Rock stinging six string Strat attack to really take off and soar. With a supple spine of well constructed songs, both new and older material that did not fit into the Honey Pot/Crystal Jacqueline dynamic, ICARUS PEEL’S ACID REIGN get to play it deep and loose with extended jamming pulling songs into different shapes on the hoof evoking the late 60s “golden age” of Psychedelic Blues/Rock, channelling the greats of the era. Comfortably familiar, The Window On The Side Of Your Head is not going to win many points for pushing at the Psych Rock envelope but it’s the sound of a band having a load of fun with the music they love and with the spirit of Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Peter Green, Tony McPhee and Richie Blackmore among others summoned subscribers to Classic Rock magazine are going to dig this record to death.
This may not be the most original record that you will hear this year, but that is really not the point. Having digested all the classic guitar records from the era such as Split by The Groundhogs, Taste Live At The Isle Of Wight, Fresh Cream, Axis Bold As Love just for starters, ICARUS PEEL'S ACID REIGN weave a sonic tapestry that threads together all the Psychedelic hues into a vivid soundscape. They skilfully recreate a time where the worlds most inventive guitarists where taking the instrument way into uncharted territory but with some excellent real songs, not just frames for excessive lead guitar. Opening with a Hendrix inspired Wah-Wah and feedback squall of ‘Eel Plurr’, The Window On The Side Of Your Head flicks through the pages of a copy of Guitar Player circa 1970 with cuts such as the funky Blues stomp of ‘Midnight Moonlight’ with it’s rolling Jeff Beck-esque vibe, ‘Be Calm, Becalmed’ channelling Jimi at his most ethereal, a Fleetwood Mac gone Raga Rock instrumental ‘Let's Get It Together’ and the fiery Blues of ‘Way Out West’, a distant cousin of Taste’s ‘Blister On The Moon’. For worshippers at the the alter of the Ancient Gods Of Rock Guitar, you may just want to check this out.
Due for release 27/07/2018 via Mega Dodo Records, The Window On The Side Of Your Head is available to pre-order now. There is a limited edition 10 track LP version on 180 gram acid yellow vinyl (the first 100 copies come with a live bootleg DVD) and a very limited CD version (100 copies) with extra tracks and a different running order to the LP, housed in a tin with a Icarus Peel guitar pick. Available soon from your neighbourhood vinyl dealer or the the usual suspects on line.
Saturday, 16 June 2018
Inspired/influenced as much by the sounds of early 70s kosmische German bands such as Agitation Free as by American introspective Alt-Rock singer/songwriters, Prana Crafter’s very unique approach to Acid Folk takes his new long player, Enter The Stream, deep into uncharted waters rarely explored by his peers. Following the release of two critically acclaimed cassette only albums mixing Krautrock tinged Psych Rock/ Acid Folk on Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Eiderdown Records respectively, Enter the Stream is Prana Crafter’s most cohesive record to date seamlessly flowing through eight absorbing tracks. Effortlessly blending the craft of writing hazy, gently psychedelic songs that are almost completely stripped down to the basics of voice and guitar with cosmic, transcendental guitar improvisations, Prana Crafter conjures up atmospheric soundscapes that if you can imagine the beautiful noise made by a very stoned Neil Young jamming with the Cosmic Jokers you would not be that far away from the sound of the sonic-tapestry woven from the fluid stream of consciousness that runs through the record.
From start to finish, Enter the Stream is a journey that takes the listener through a landscape of pristine natural beauty, human emotion, and esoteric undercurrents. Opening with the mellow album title track, Prana Crafter’s songs have a beautiful lo-fi simplicity that reflect the bucolic surroundings of his home in the Washington woods far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, blending the primal energies of nature with guitars, synthesizers and singing bowls in a umbilical connection to Mother Earth. Gently ebbing and flowing through reverb laden Acid Folk and spectral kosmische guitar sketches that channel the liquid guitar playing of Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Göttsching, Enter The Stream is unlike any Psych/Folk album you are going to hear this year…………..inventive and rooted in nature it’s a Kosmische-Acid-Folk opus that shimmers in brilliant refracted sunlight among the trees. A joint release by UK Psych label Cardinal Fuzz and the strange and beautiful US label Sunrise Ocean Bender (who have a history of spotting up and coming talent, being the original home of the brilliant JuJu among others), you can check the record out here………….
Due for release 21/07/2018, the record will be available on limited edition transparent green and white vinyl or for the purists good old black vinyl. Available to pre-order now from Cardinal Fuzz (for UK and Europe) and Sunrise Ocean Bender (for North America) plus the usual suspects online……..also due to be released as a download and a very limited edition CD direct from Cardinal Fuzz. It’s sonic nectar People, cascading in the mind and splashing mantras against the your third ear.
Saturday, 9 June 2018
TREMBLING BELLS - DUNGENESS (Tin Angel Records LP, CD, D/L). THE LEFT OUTSIDES - ALL THAT REMAINS (Cardinal Fuzz/Feeding Tube Records LP,D/L).
There may have been a sea change since the heady heights of the Acid Folk revival of ten or so years ago where a new generation of PsychFolkies were dipping into the Island back catalogue of the late 60s/early 70s and getting into the timeless sounds of Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, Nick Drake, John Martyn and ISB with the more adventurous seeking out records by Trees, Vashti Bunyan, Comus, Trader Horne and Mellow Candle among many other great LPs of the era. A whole scene had developed with brand new bands channeling the sounds of a more gentle era with the early Green Man festivals being the focus point for what was happening at the time. It was groovy for a while with bands escaping the traditional folk hell of real ale and weird beards playing to a more psychedelically minded audience and it reached a point where artists seeped traditional influences such as The Unthanks were gravitating from the folk clubs to medium sized concert halls. Tastes have changed with twisted Americana seeming now more popular than rootsy British Psych Folk, but there are still a few great UK bands keeping the faith and recording albums that mix the freewheeling sound of UFO Club era Fairport Convention with a muscular Folk sensibility……….more Middle Earth than middle America. Two such bands are Trembling Bells and The Left Outsides who both have fantastic new records out at the moment.
Blending the attack of squalling Acid Rock guitar with a nimble rhythm section Trembling Bells approach to Folk Rock has more than a faint echo of Fairport Convention’s “heyday” when the band featured the stellar talents of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny (way before trad Folk Luddite Dave Swarbrick had led the band into musical irrelevance by the end of the 70s………..the current incarnation of the band are still living off the fumes of records recorded 50 years ago). Taking the sounds of the more tripped out late 60s/early 70s Acid Folk bands as a launch pad for their songs, Trembling Bells then add plenty of modern Psych Rock influences creating music that is Folk Rock inspired but is not really Folk Rock in the…….erm……traditional sense but a complex mix of a whole host of of fluid layers and textures seeping down to the Folk roots. Now releasing records on the much admired label Tin Angel Records, the current LP Dungeness is their seventh since their 2009 debut and no doubt their best and most Psychedelic to date. Housed in a sleeve that resembles the debut album by Fotheringay to such a degree it borders on plagiarism but is a perfect indicator where Trembling Bells are at in 2018……..heavily influenced by “classic” British 60s/70s Psychedelic Folk Rock, the new LP taps into records such as Fairport’s Unhalfbricking, On The Shore by Trees, Richard and Linda Thompson’s Pour Down Like Silver to name just a few, but with a solid spine of inventive modern Psych Rock and driven by fuzzed up and freaked out guitars………Dungeness is the record that should bust the band out of the “Folk ghetto” to wider PsychHead audience. Both thrilling and beautifully subtle, it’s a killer record from start to finish with not a duff track in sight. One of this year’s essential records. Out NOW via Tin Angel Records on vinyl and CD from all the best record shops (and HMV) or on line from the usual suspects. Check it out/stream it/by it from the Tin Angel Bandcamp site here………….
Less likely to frighten the hardcore folkies is the beautiful new LP from London Psych Folk duo The Left Outsides. All That Remains is far more rooted in the golden age of Acid Folk as the '60s slid into the '70s, more suited to late night listening than Trembling Bells supercharged Psychedelic Folk Rock. Alison Cotton's vocals, harmonium and viola blend with Mark Nicholas's voice, bass, guitar, piano and drums in ways that recall Joe Boyd’s late 60’s coterie of acid tinged Folk artists, Sandy Denny’s and Richard Thompson’s solo releases mixed with a hint of David Roback's post Rain Parade project Opel and ex Galaxie 500’s Damon And Naomi’s lo-fi Psychedelia. It’s a record that is a well balanced blend of “classic” Psych/Folk Rock influences (‘The Unbroken Circle’, ‘Down to the Waterside’, ‘Clothed in Ivy, Obscured by Dust’ and ‘All That Remains’) and more stripped back atmospheric songs that really is quite wonderful and well worth your attention. Available on vinyl only in limited edition pressing via Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records (USA) and selling like hot cakes, All That Remains has had such good reviews from all over the place so expect a second pressing sometime soon. You can check out/stream the album here…………
Sunday, 3 June 2018
Veterans of endless live shows, Lancastrian Space Punx Three Dimensional Tanx are back with a new album……….. and like their previous release, 2016’s Attack!, it’s a full on barrage of unpretentious Nuggety Psychedelic Punk Rock guaranteed to get the party started. Whereas Attack! was a mad mix of “The Stooges in space, Astral travel with the Buzzcocks, The Doors and The Damned jamming on one of the moons of Jupiter and The Ramones on acid”, 3D Tanx have really found their groove on A Compulsion For Propulsion, smoothing out the rough edges and expanding their sonic palette with Post Punk, Krautrock and Psych Pop influences. Featuring 15 tracks in less than 40 minutes, it’s a monster of a record, still wild and energetic but tightly focused and their best collection of songs to date. This is the album 3D Tanx have been threatening to make for years……….an album that finally manages to bottle much of the spirit that have made them such a hit with live audiences.
Once you get your head round the concept that 3D Tanx are a Punk band playing Psych infused Garage Rock and Krautrock then A Compulsion For Propulsion starts to make perfect sense. Free of any excess, 3D Tanx are a lean and mean machine with most of their songs stripped down to around the 2 minute mark…………the album does includes a couple of epic trippy wig outs where the band channel the Psychedelic smarts of Pink Floyd and CAN, but bear in mind that in Three Dimensional Tanx Psychedelic five dimensional world epic is around 5 minutes long. The record opens with the frantic ‘His Latest Apparatus’, which sounds like Devo and The Seeds crashing together, and doesn’t let up till the fade out of the very Psychedelic ‘Racing Car #9’………it’s a white knuckle ride all the way and a total blast, bristling with infectious stabs of pop-inflected modern Garage Rock. It’s the much needed antidote to shit Stoner Rock bands that think playing one riff for fucking ever is somehow cosmic. There is some great stuff here, from the swirly Sonics vibe of ‘The Human Stupid’, the Stooges-esque riffing on ‘E is For Engine’ to the kinetic groove of ‘Spiderman Pinball’, A Compulsion For Propulsion is packed with loads little gems, short and sweet with no messing. Recommended.
Out NOW, A Compulsion For Propulsion is available on CD or as a D/L direct from the 3D Tanx Bandcamp site. Check it out/stream it/buy it here……..
Saturday, 2 June 2018
Legendary modern Psych Rock pioneers Sun Dial are back with a new record released by the the THE German Psychedelic music label Sulatron Records. It’s way different to their last record Made in the Machine, which was an exercise in pushing at the boundaries of contemporary Psychedelia, as Science Fiction : A Compendium Of Space Soundtrax is more of a labour of love with Sun Dial finally releasing 20 years worth of mainly Electronica based super catchy instrumentals inspired by Sci-Fi movie soundtracks. A common theme running through previous Sun Dial records is their special interest the music of Sci Fi and Space on celluloid, such as THX 1138, 2001; A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner among others and over the years Sun Dial's catalogue has been in demand for various film and television soundtracks (such as the acclaimed horror film Helen Alone and documentaries on the history of the CIA/Vietnam/MK ULTRA) and Science Fiction is an extension of this. Pulling together influences from John Carpenter’s minimal electronic scores, the lush wide screen sweep of Vangelis and 60s cut and paste Electronica mixed with the classic Krautrock sounds of Ash Ra Tempel and Agitation Free, Science Fiction is a collection of short atmospheric pieces beamed back from deep space that combine robot rhythms and analogue synths with shimmering Acid Rock guitar to stunning effect.
It’s a diverse record, opening with the droning electronic hum of ‘Hanger 13’, Science Fiction is a twisting journey through endless possible galaxies evoking the futuristic feel of experimental soundscapes from the late 50s through to the mid 70s. It’s a total trip, taking in the mutant 70s Space Funk of ‘Mind Machine’ and ‘Infra Red’, the Space Rock sounds of ‘Rise Of The Robots' and ‘Ghost Ship’, the dystopian thump of ‘Aftershock’, the Blade Runner-esque symphonic sweep of ‘Starwatchers’ and the cool glacial guitars and 60s swirling organ on ‘Alien X’ and ‘White Stone’. It’s a fantastic record of Krautrock/Space Rock infused Electronica and in some ways, Science Fiction is the perfect follow up to Made In The Machine, although much more experimental with much shorter tracks it is unmistakably Sun Dial, albeit taking a diversion into uncharted expanses of space, still well ahead of the curve, never standing still.
Science Fiction : A Compendium Of Space Soundtrax will be available on vinyl mid to late June, limited to 750 copies on green vinyl and can be pre-ordered now from the usual on line sellers. Also available on CD NOW (with bonus track, the long version of ‘Hanger 13’) from all the tuned in record shops, on line or direct from Sulatron Records.
Monday, 28 May 2018
New from the fantastic Greek Prog/Psych label Inner Ear Records comes the sophomore album, WOWSERS!, from Athens cosmic jokers CHICKN. Led by guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Angelos Krallis, The band are a loose collective of Athens' finest musicians from the city’s thriving underground, coming together to play far out music. Their debut album released towards the end of 2016 was a heavy Prog/Psych album heavily influenced by North African sounds whereas WOWSERS! is way more playful………during the recording of the album the band were inspired greatly by sounds from The Stooges, David Bowie, T.Rex and Ariel Pink to Sun Ra, Red Crayola, Captain Beefheart, CAN and Alice Coltraine and have managed to make a record that sounds an awful lot like Gong (both the classic 70s line up and the rebirthed post Daevid Allen band). WOWSERS! is essentially a 70s influenced left field Prog Rock record with bright splashes of heady Psychedelia added to the mix………….recorded live during a 10 day studio lock in over New Year 2017/18 it sounds like it was a lot of fun to make.
Opening with a brief blast of free form noise, CHICKN ease into the silky smooth groove of ‘Am I Cher?’ which like a lot of the record channels the irreverence/experimentation of classic Gong/Hillage with the Punk edge of Planet Gong. The Gong vibe of tricksy time changes, off kilter guitar riffs, Free Jazz sax fills and shouty choruses is a constant thread throughout WOWSERS! and no more evident on tracks such as ‘Too Many Parables’, the gloriously freaked out ‘I Cry Diamonds’ which includes a cheeky wink in the direction of Daevid Allen’s iconic “OM” riff and the berserk ‘Elevational Love Of Frank Zappa’. Elsewhere CHICKN revisit the track ‘Chickn Tribe’ from the first album and rework it as a wild Proggy Punk Jazz number, channel mid 70s Pink Floyd in there own idiosyncratic way on the epic ‘China Must Win’, explore Cosmic Country music on ‘Egg Of Love’ and close the album with the delicate electric piano piece ‘Cloud Over Athens’ which has a stunningly strange and beautiful coda. Totally accessible with no more than a couple of songs stretching over the five minute mark, WOWSERS! can be seen as an amalgamation of the great Psych/Prog/Kraut records that Virgin used to release before Branson started chasing the “punk pound”……….seriously recommended for fans of 70s tripped out Psych/Prog and more modern bands like Sendelica. Check it out here.....
Out NOW on Inner Ear Records, WOWSERS! by CHICKN is available on vinyl (standard issue black and limited edition green) or as a digital download from all the best record stores, on line or direct from the Inner Ear Records web shop.