Category Archives: Album Reviews

Plöw: No Highness below the Crown [Independent]

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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: Son of Rams [Independent]

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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: Mountain Thrower [Independent]

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Mountain Thrower, a power trio from Wilmington, North Carolina, contains 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.

Red Lemons: Ace of Fools [Independent]

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For all their posturing – see the band’s Facebook page, for further details – Red Lemons are not just a group of happy-go-lucky guys. They can play, too. In grimy rock tradition, Ace of Fools is exquisitely wrought in goofy guitar scraping and groovy tom-rattling, as this lively ensemble find themselves neatly placed between Queens of the Stone Age and Dr Feelgood – which, let’s be honest, isn’t a bad place to be.

Crazy Old Woman: Alquimia [Independent]

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Exploring the murky single-chord jams of grunge, Crazy Old Woman like to make a whole lotta noise. So much so, that Alquimia, the band’s chaotic debut, merges brutish efficiency with passive aggression, which, more often than not, grinds along without any focus or consistency.

Supersonic Dragon Wagon: Supersonic Dragon Wagon [Independent]

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Influenced by the likes of Truckfighters, Clutch and Queens of the Stone Age, Supersonic Dragon Wagon – an inane moniker that rives Josh Homme’s outré vision – operate inside their own small corner of the stoner-rock universe; creating fuzzy, whiskey-soaked grooves that distort and entwine at will.

HEURT: HEURT [Independent]

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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.

Hommage: Invaders [Self-Release]

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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.

Bound South: Bound South [Self-Release]

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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.

Carpet: Elysian Pleasures [Elektrohasch]

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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.

Supercabra: Down from the Mountain [Self-Release]

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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.

India: India [Self-Release]

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“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.