Category Archives: Album Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mountain Thrower, a power-trio from Wilmington, North Carolina, feature two vocalists – one of whom doubles up as a percussionist/organist, while the other compliments Chris Bare’s grooves with an assortment of vintage licks. The band, like their namesake cousins, tap into the West Coast strut of psychedelic blues and rabble-rousing rock, sounding most at ease when they are slipstreamed into an eternal repetition utopia.
A conflation of Joy Division-inspired post-punk and primitive, in-your-face guitar blasts, H(E)URT’s debut full-length is weighed down by an indelible vision of gloom. The album cover – depicting a nightly urban setting – entices the listener into a world of dispirited nocturnal thoughts where plans to attack and disarm the world à la Ian Curtis and John Lydon are rife.
If ‘70s psychedelic rock is your thing, then German trio Hommage will take over your stereo for the foreseeable future. There’s a nostalgic hiss that surrounds standout tracks such as ‘Destiny’ and ‘Last Happening’ with their cosmic-swirls and tendrils of sitar, while ‘Miss Understood’ is indebted to radio-friendly grunge. Frivolous and free-spirited, Invaders is proof that originality isn’t everything.
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.