The city of Norwich has taken a battering in recent years: First there was Delia Smith, with her embarrassingly slurred sherry speech to the fans of the Canaries, and, as if to add insult to injury, the resurgence of Alan Partridge – while a superb comic creation, Partridge doesn’t do much for the status quo.
Clan, on the other hand, are not only repairing their city’s reputation, but they are also moulding their own: The trio’s doom-blues blend of leather-lunged rock, complete with Geezer Butler-esque grooves and expressive solos, are catchy and propulsive.
Unlike their peers, who are content with recreating Master of Reality over and over, Clan craft songs with depth and meaning: “Dreams are all that I have/ So don’t take them away,” wails Matt Pearce during ‘Leave it Be’ – and it’s this heartfelt honesty, which makes Clan the most existing young band in Britain.
Like the Black Keys before them, Sons From Planes have parked their classic blues and soul time machine somewhere between 1965 and 1970. The Red Sun, the band’s debut release, is a hearty collection of swaying grooves and upbeat rhythms offset by great, gusty vocals that are raw and pure.
Utopian Lullabies, Annie Ice’s opening gambit, contains a collection of stripped-bare, acoustically rendered songs that are both elegant and expressive in equal measure. Ice sings confidently from the heart, flowing beautifully, her wistfulness only adds to a bohemian persona that is sure to win the hearts of traditional folkies.
The hardest thing for an instrumental jam band is maintaining the listener’s interest – once the sledgehammer riff has been executed, it’s more or less all over. Obscured By The Sun, Idaho’s premier sonic buskers, are inspired by the melodic and rhythmic impetus of the Mahavishnu Orchestra as much as they are by Black Sabbath and King Crimson. The result is a groove-orientated collection of viscous blues that smoulder and saunter in equal measure.
There’s plenty to like about Smoke, the self-titled debut from this ‘70s-indebted Brisbane four-piece, but first and foremost it’s a brilliant guitar album. Like Washington DC’s Dead Meadow, each idea is based around the innovative use of tone and texture; creating woozy passages and shimmering jams that ignite into deafening crescendos.
Very rarely does a collection of tracks warrant the tag ‘desolation rock’, however, Overland, the debut release from this Californian collective, is a gloomy sub-genre within a world of paranoia, where danger lurks in ever crevice, and the feeling of vulnerability is an everyday occurrence. Steeped in the apocalyptic melancholy of cinematic post-rock, this is a film score in waiting.
Three red-eyed longhairs from Oslo, Barbarian Fist play slow, brooding metal imbued with a bluesy, hallucinogenic heaviness à la Sleep and Kyuss. The lyrics are banal: “Came down from the mountains/ on a quest to fornicate,” opens ‘The Whorelord Cometh’ – but when said lyrics ride in on grooves that turn your mind to mush, who’s cares?
The self-titled debut from this Hamilton, Ontario four-piece is a tour de force of balls-to-the-wall rock’n’roll. Boasting an impressive collection of affective, downcast riffs and high-octave breakdowns, the EP showcases a band with impressive chops and confidence.
In their short, yet productive, existence, Plöw have swiftly become a favourite among the niche stoner-rock-come-metal crowd. Merging the primal roar of sludge with relentless riffing and tripped-out howls, No Highness below the Crown is the most bombastic set of tunes you are likely to hear this year.
We’ve heard this story countless times: A group of stoned kids walk into local studio with the intention of creating bleary-eyed rock with nothing but their instruments, amps and dope for company. Recommended for fans of Sleep.
Androidmonk, while having nothing in common with smartphones, or indeed monks, share the same goals as their off-centre contemporaries: to explode the parameters of hypno-drone rock through genre-bending improvisation and trance-inducing experimentation. It’s an engaging listen, but one that is ultimately rewarding.
Son of Rams are far from shy about their influences: “We love rock music and we love you all” is the tagline that greets Facebook users on their humble likes page. Awash with vintage reverb, the band’s blueprint for their self-titled debut was to replicate the bleary guitar grooves of 1960s garage, while staying true to their lo-fi, college rock roots. Job done.