Category Archives: Single/EP Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Without sounding disrespectful, Sunderland’s musical history is patchy, to say the least. Sure, there’s been the odd Topman-trendy four-piece that’s broke into the nation’s consciousness, but nothing to write home about – no pun intended.
Witch Charmer, on the other hand, are a much needed kick-in-the-arse to a region dominated by football tribalism. Led by the stylized, sexually charged presence of Kate McEowan, the bands raw, blood-and-thunder doom-blues continues to promote the Sabbath-inspired heaviness of underrated post-millennial rockers Goatsnake and Spirit Caravan, without sounding like a second-rate copy. More, please.
The award for the most honest band of 2013 goes to Cambrian Explosion. While most bands will promote their work with archetypal brashness, this Portland four-piece simply want a van. They’re not fussy. As long as it enables them to share their crystalline brand of articulately structured psychedelia with the rest of the planet, they’re simply not fussed – a sliver machine, perhaps?
Leading off with the heavy, guitar-drenched stomp of ‘Healing Fountain,’ it’s clear that this Finland trio are in tune with their stoner-rock tendencies, while the weary wistfulness of ‘Let Me Go’ evokes memories of psych-grunge underdogs, the Screaming Trees, in their mid-90s pomp. Highly impressive.
It would be really easy to reel off the classic rock giants that have influenced this self-titled debut, but, in truth, there really wouldn’t be much point. What’s more interesting, however, is that the band is managed by Big Daddy Shag Music – one can only imagine what their logo would look like. Nevertheless, Levee’s bluesy blasts and bar-room howls are best enjoyed with a cold beer. Sit back and enjoy.
Swedish bands have always offered a pretty fresh take on the grand traditions of ‘70s rock. Opting for the mellower end of the scale, the Örebro trio’s softheaded philosophical musings merge faraway harmonies with the spirit and drive of early progressive rock – you wouldn’t be surprised if Ian Anderson turned up to play a live set with them, they’re that convincing. I’m Stratusfied, are you?
In a world full of hipsters, denim-clad rock is so passé: The idea that young musicians are learning their trade from Fire and Water and Wheels of Fire is unthinkable. In reality, it’s happening all over, none more so than in Scandinavia, where long-hair and vinyl is almost as common as flat pack furniture.
Like Brutus and Graveyard before them, Dunbarrow’s brand of beer-dripping blues works incredible well due to their attention to detail; it’s one thing to imitate, but to be able to create your own identity is a different matter entirely. Crammed with subtle, under-the-radar bass grooves and tasteful guitar work, this is a brilliant opening gambit.
For a new band, the Kinkades are very cocksure: Anti-Social Superstar is a title could come back to haunt them. Fusing the best elements of classic hard-rock and soulful blues, this Chicago four-piece know how to mould and hold a gutsy groove, without it sounding like a recreation. What they are yet to master, however, is their mixing desk – the lack of sharpness is an issue. Despite this minor flaw, there’s much to admire.
Despite presenting themselves as a “cosmic rock band,” this South Carolina four-piece don’t stray far from the classic, hard-rock template: They understand that the riffs need to be fuzzy and bluesy. As a result, this self-titled EP should – in theory – be bought by headbangers everywhere.