Category Archives: Album Reviews

Dead Highway: Dead Highway [Independent]

Dead Highway

The brainchild of singer/songwriter Brandon James Olson is the soundtrack to the open road, and true to its title, Dead Highway is modestly scaled and simply structured; the groovy insouciance established in opener ‘Desert Wind’ continues throughout. But even within these confines, Olson rarely retraces his steps: ‘New Mexico’ pogoes to the new wave boogie of Elvis Costello, while ‘Velvet Hand Hills’ borrows from the nerdy, guitar-driven power-pop of Weezer, and to a lesser extent, Big Star. A personal triumph.

Meticulous Women: Meticulous Women [Independent]

Meticulous Women

Meticulous Women’s groovy approach owes as much to the Cramps and the Seeds as it does to anything else. Combining rock’n’roll high-school naivety with biting punk-rock energy, every track on this sinister debut is a charming fumble-in-the-back-seat anthem. Who said romance was dead?

Evil Can Evil: Winter Rider [Independent]

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Everyone needs Winter Rider: How else are you going to get through the post-Christmas blues? The follow-up to 2010’s self-titled effort continues to milk the ‘no-filler, all-killer’ aesthetic of blues-rock titans Clutch, not to mention the weighty, fuzzed-out approach of Fu Manchu. Impressively consistent from beginning to end, Evil Can Evil are a rare commodity in the world of modern-day rock: They churn out grooves that truly matter.

T​-​Rex Quiet: T​-​Rex Quiet [Self-Release]

T-Rex Quiet

The debut from this Italian trio is based on a very un-2014 approach. The very idea of freeweeling funk-meets-psychedelica in a world driven by new technologies and urban ideologies seems almost obsurd. However, there’s an against-the-odds chrisma about T-Rex Quiet that worked equally well for the Palm Desert clan of yesteryear, and like the band’s aforementioned heroes, T-Rex Quiet have a charm of their own.

Marblewood: Marblewood [Independent]

Marblewood

Theologians and numerologists alike will harp on about the significance of the number three, but anyone with an interest in music knows that three symbolises greatness.

Step forward, Marblewood: Three Zürich-based musicians who pilfer and blend the almighty God-given talents of Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Yes to create the ultimate modern-day bible of monolithic riffs, acid-prog diversions and soulful passages. It’s no coincidence that the white smoke emulating from Marblewood towers signals the arrival of a new dawn.

Matushka: Mestopolozhenie [Self-Release]

Mestopolozhenie

For a band conceived in the 21st century, Matushka sound so out of sync with all things post-millennial. Swept away on a magic carpet ride, the Russian duo are able to evoke a psychotomimetic-induced state through careful layering and feedback. This isn’t a release to expand musical horizons, as much as it might expand a few minds.

Stone Hogan: Whores of Babylon [Prolapse Records]

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Those of us of a certain vintage will remember the overblown world of sports entertainment. Come on, admit it! You wanted Hulk Hogan to turn heel as much as the next guy. Unable to decide who would win a scripted slobberknocker between Hogan and Stone Cold, the Knoxville ensemble settled on middle ground when it came to choosing their moniker.

Now, onto the music: Whores of Babylon is stockpiled with the sort of material that will guarantee followers: Woozy, hypnotic riffs and very occasional organ flourishes pilfered from the proto-metal boogie of yesteryear – throw in a handful of Pentagram and Sleep, and you can see where the band are coming from.

Maybe it’s the fact that Stone Hogan don’t take themselves too seriously, but the record benefits from the same sort of breezy cool that Josh Homme has made a career out of: Underneath the playful exterior is a seriously ambitious band with the nous to achieve. Whether the band will achieve their long-term goals is unknown, but Whores of Babylon is certainly an impressive mission statement. And that’s the bottom line.

Dragon Feeder: Dragon Feeder [Independent]

dragonfeeder

Name your price downloads should be banned: It gives discourteous members of society yet another opportunity to “stick it to the man!” by swiping from musicians who deserve your cash – like Dragon Feeder, for instance.

Engulfed by the spirit of the ‘70s, the united front of longhairs work in tandem to create a hard rock soundscape; delivering infectious hooks with muscle and soul. The underground scene is bulging with bands of this ilk, however, what sets Dragon Feeder apart is their maturity – this isn’t just one big mass of fuzzy low-end guitars and self-indulgent solos; its sonically diverse without losing sight of the balls-to-the-wall aesthetic. Buy now.

Hellspin: II [Independent]

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Moscow’s Hellspin aren’t messing around: Only two songs on their debut full-length are over the three-minute mark, which tells you all you need to know about the band’s punk-driven fury. Or does it?

The real stand out star is Luisa – if they’re not bothered about surnames, then neither are we. Her provocative stage attire in low-rent venues, coupled with her gratuitous sexual tension, is a huge part of the band’s appeal. While her lapdogs – sorry, I mean bandmates – are definitely on the record, they’re nowhere near as prominent, and as a result, they rise and fall depending on Luisa’s delivery. If Hellspin ever want to be taken seriously, you get the feeling they’ll need to overcome this obstacle.

The Crawls: The Crawls [Independent]

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Despite their anonymity, the Crawls’ are armed with press-ready gimmicks: a quirky boy-girl duo with an abstraction for the heavier side of 1960s rock – if this was the early 00’s, the hype-o-meter would be in overdrive. Thankfully, due to a lack of public interest in the boundless barrage of backstory-hype, the focus is firmly on the music: groovy, roots-chewing blues that are passionate and pure.

Annie Ice: Utopian Lullabies [Independent]

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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.

Smoke: Smoke [Independent]

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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.