Category Archives: Album Reviews
Continuing the recent good-time tide of 21st-century rock, Latrobe Valley’s Bound South come bearing a hard, dusty-desert-driving dose of crunch’n’roll. Rife with impressive solos and off-beat rhythms, lyrics such as “Kickin’ back with a bottle of Jack/And I ain’t gonna stop till the sun comes back,” confirms their booze-powered credentials.
By Simon Hadley
Germany’s Carpet are one of a handful of bands on the Elektrohasch label hell-bent on making heavy, psychedelic rock a sizable force in 2013. Their sound is a throwback to the good ol’ days of woozy riffing and spacey-prog organ flourishes, but what makes Elysian Pleasures a triumph is how capably they strike a balance between sun-kissed harmonies and crisp, vintage melodies to create flawless period pieces.
On first listen, Elysian Pleasures provides a lot of dots to connect: There are whimsical patches of paisley pop; power-chord progressions à la Richie Blackmore, and the unpredictability of jazzy, progressive rock. It’s a very British cocktail, which is sipped wholeheartedly by frontman and guitarist, Maximilian Stephan, who shares a vocal similarity with ‘60s kingpins Colin Blunstone and John Lennon, in the way he allows his voice to soar and glide over melodic compositions.
Due to the amount of influences on show, this is an album that sounds best as a whole, where you can get lost in its heady expanse without feeling the need to check the running time. Furthermore, there aren’t any standout singles, in the sense that you’re unlikely to hear ‘Man Changing the Atoms’ played on mainstream radio. Although, isn’t that the beauty of psychdelic rock? Music for the outsiders.
Frontman Gregg Krous’ Mark Farner-meets-Brian Fallon vocals is the most distinctive part of his band’s Southern blues-rock formula. Which isn’t a knock: Supercabra are a roguish band with natural chemistry and plenty of experience, but it’s Krous’ leadership that drives his crew through their time-travelling turbulence with gusto.
“All of us who seek peace of mind, or tranquillity through medication, are indebted to India,” according to Indologist guru, Stanley Wolpert. In actual fact, he’s got a point: Look at George Harrison’s transformation from cheeky Liverpudlian adolescence to spiritual sympathiser.
Since those early ‘60s cries of “Hare Krishna,” bands have always explored the mysteries of the human consciousness, but not to this extent. Comprised of four psych-rock devotees, this incarnation of India have turned spirituality on its head, taking it into the CBGB’s underground, where cynicism and darkness overshadows positive thinking.
For a debut, Maahaavaa is impressively consistent, especially when you examine its aural flux: A despairing racket that includes psychedelia and sludge as its main components; two genres that are uneasy bedfellows. Despite the contrast, Mother Susurrus’ limited palette helps them maintain their melancholy state, while dragging their disciples into the abyss.
Recorded in the Palm Desert, California, Wooden Nomad are one of the very few bands to genuinely warrant the ‘desert rock’ tag. Blighted by several line-up changes since their 2010 inception, The Sound of Earth contains the euphoric pump-your-fist-and-scream aesthetic that has come to define the raucous end of this popular sub-genre, while the acoustic-based charm of ‘Raven’ is a notable highlight.
You really have to admire how under-the-radar South American bands are playing, and beating, Western Europe at their own game. A powerful evocation of the heavy riffing, psych-rock hybrid, Dos is a scintillating balance between heaviness and ethereality. Simply awesome, man.
Grunge and psychedelia is at the core of Cantankerous Rock, the second release from Portugalete’s most notorious band. Like their 2010 debut, Chivo’s thick, swampy sounds are erratic and thumping, while their stoner-rock riffs are bludgeoning and toe-tapping in equal measure, particularly on standout track ‘Rockets on Fire’.
If the very notion of a band exploring the literature of science fiction to aid them on their quest to create a concept album in 2013 seems both outlandish, and outdated, then this not-so-subtle homage to progressive rock titans, King Crimson, is probably not for you.
For those of us with an open mind, however, In the Court of the Spaceking is a sonically mesmerising collection that fuses melodic sensibility with furious riffing and hushed synthesisers, to create an aural blitzkrieg. Impressive stuff, despite the fact that there’s nothing here that matches the unmistakable hook of ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ – although we won’t hold that against them.
A jam-band at heart, Celtic Panda’s debut release is an accurate portrayal of their live, loose-limbed style: Elastic, jazzy-blues that demonstrates the pleasure this ensemble has for elongated compositions. A quintessential listening experience for any flower-power outcast searching for a hedonic thrill.
Simplicity is often to the key to making an impact: Deep, as their moniker suggests, are a mysterious collective whose abrasive sound can be heard far below the surface; it crushes metal and harsh noise into an explosive formula that will leave you fleeing for higher ground.
Despite this devastating impact, Vol.1 is a record of detours and surprises: For every blast of doom there are elements of post-rock interplay and semi-acoustic weaving to offset the chaos – see ‘Sonic Mantra’ – but when the noise swells and the amps begin to bleed, you’re in the midst of a seldom end-of-the-world record that’s as destructive and tumultuous as it wants to be.
A glorious and unapologetic celebration of pure, unadulterated stoner, Chronobot’s opening statement is a rich mix of psych-riffing and slightly inaudible vocals that feels like a satire of the weed-is-our-religion culture. ‘Set Phasers to DOOM!!’, for instance, is built around hallucinatory sludge that sends the listener into space on a joint-shaped vessel, while the deadpan chants of “James Bond is my fucking dad” midway through ‘Cougar Magnum’ confirms the absolute mindlessness of it all.