Tag Archives: 2010

Sahara Surfers – Spacetrip On A Paper Plane

Release Date: June 2010.

Record Label: Unsigned.

Proving that there is more to Austria than natural landmarks and outstanding scenery, Sahara Surfers infects their homeland with a slice of their own infectious grooves that will create ripples throughout the rest of Europe.

Formed in 2007, their first release sees the Surfers take the best bits of veteran bands on the stoner rock scene, from the psychedelic, fuzzy jams of Colour Haze to the early robot rock of Queens of the Stone Age to create an engaging 33 minute debut.

‘Colour Jam’ the albums opener is a laid back, engaging slab of experimental and progressive rock, from the opening thick bass line and tight drumming to the melodic, sharp chord changes is worth the albums small fee alone and this is before discovering what the rest of the album has to offer.

‘Propeller’ is a three minute rhythm driven jam that speeds up the pace slightly, and finishes off with the creepy echoes of vocalist Julia Überbacher, while ‘Age’ on the other hand, is a much darker affair while keeping the bands roots firmly in the experimental fuzzed out rock genre.

Hans-Peter Ganner’s funk-lead baseline adds a change in tempo in ‘820’ and as the track blossoms, one of the bands main influences, stoner rock pioneers Kyuss comes to the forefront, transporting the listener to the humidity of the Palm Desert, let alone to the changeable climate of the bands Austrian roots.

‘Sister In Shade’ provides some much needed shelter from the humidity, while the albums last track ‘Gas’ clocking in at just over eight minutes, sees the band mellow out even further, while exploring the 70’s hard rock sounds of bands such as: Blue Cheer, Deep Purple and Montrose.

As well as the blend of great musicianship, catchy hooks and sharp production, the whole package is signed and sealed by vocalist Julia Überbacher, whose distinct vocals are reminiscent of Geddy Lee (Rush) and Tool’s Maynard James Keenan.

Building on their countries heritage of producing influential musicians and shaping Europe’s landscapes, Sahara Surfers are a band that will cast a warm glow over Austria’s music scene.

http://www.myspace.com/saharasurfers

Black Thai – Blood From On High [EP]

Release Date: Summer 2010.

Record Label: Unsigned.

Formed in 2009 in Boston by Jim Healey (We’re All Gonna Die) on vocals and Scott Fuse (Cortez) on guitar, Black Thai harks back to a time where rock music was all about having fun, drinking beers and playing loud tunes with attitude.

By enlisting bassist Cory Cocomozzi (Voda) and Fuse’s Cortez band member, Jeremy Hemond on drums (although Kyle Rasmussen played drums on this release), Black Thai’s line up was now complete and ready to take on the world.

‘Blood From On High’ the bands debut EP, does exactly what Healey and Fuse set out to achieve during those long, drunken, late night conversations.

‘The Ladder’ the EP’s opening track, slowly builds from the heavy, hard-hitting rhythmic drumming of Hemond into an enormous, bolstering, driven riff, while the duel playing of Healey and Fuse and interchangeable chord sequences, bowls the listener over and is a clear signal of the bands intentions.

However, ‘Satans Toolshead’ the EP’s second track, is the jewel in the crown of this debut release and has all the hallmarks to be modern metal hit in all quarters of the globe. With a running time of seven minutes and 41 seconds, it is the longest track on the EP, but this is not what makes the track great.

The low key, melodic, laid back beginnings of the track are a smokescreen for what is about to happen.

 Building into a heavy bridge, complimented by a Geezer Butler-type baseline, Healey’s walling that he: “Doesn’t want to mess around with your verses” unfolds itself into a loud to quiet slab of modern metal, while incorporating the bands Black Sabbath and 70’s rock influences in the form of a harder edged Lynyrd Skynyrd. The track closes with a flurry of bluesy solos and solid plucking.

‘Saturation Point’, the second longest track on this release, is a slow, down-tuned, southern-fried jam, while ‘Sinking Ships’ acts as a change of pace, as a mini drum solo is proceeded by a sludgy riff and the fierce growl of Healey, drawing similarities with Slayer’s Tom Araya. Meanwhile, ‘333’ finishes the album on an appropriately loud and ferocious note.

Black Thai are a band that wear their influences on their sleeve and on their MySpace page describe their sound as: ‘a deer being mauled by a grizzly bear.’ On the evidence of this release, the bands savage and brutal misdemeanours will carve a bloody imprint into the modern day metal scene.

http://www.myspace.com/blackthaiband

Mother Corona – Mother Corona [EP]

 

Release Date: June 2010.

Record Label: Unsigned.

Mother Corona was formed in late 2008 by David Oglesby (vocals and drums) and Lee Cressey (guitar and backing vocals) in the small Oxfordshire town of Didcot.

Bassist Robert Glen was added to the band in 2009 to complete the line up, and the trio set about recording their self-financed, self-titled debut EP, recorded by Mike Hill and produced by the band themselves.

Citing Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Hawkwind as influences, the trio play an infectious mix of heavy fuzzed out grooves played under the skies of spaced out sonic landscapes.

The ten second heavy pounding of opening track ‘Vertigo Terror’ mimics the sounds of a space craft crashing to earth with an almighty thud, sending tremors to the earth’s core.

The sleaze rock riff, that is constant throughout the rest of the track, opens the ‘Vertigo Terror’ up further, accompanied by a heavy bass line and thick drum licks rounds off the five and a half minute slab of hard rock.

Oglesby’s vocals accompany the bands early sound well, displaying similarities with the high pitched, nasal screeching of Axl Rose.

‘Caught In A Hole’ on the other hand, features a funky bass sound that is added to by the bouncy, fuzzy riff of Cressey and is by far, the bands best riff to date and the catchiest  track from this offering.

‘Dead Space’ as the name suggests, sees the trio dive into the psych musings of Hawkwind, again using the Californian sound of Fu Manchu as a base to drive the track forward, while incorporating laid back harmonies in between verses to give the track that far and away feel.

’15 Minutes’ and ‘From Me To Nowhere’ continue in a similar vein, while ‘Eroded’ the heaviest sounding track on the album, is punctuated with aggression and is a strong and solid end to the EP.

Mother Corona are a trio who are very versatile, from tripping in and out of psychedelic space jams to offering straight up traditional bluesy hard rock are a band to keep a close eye on.

http://www.myspace.com/mothercorona

Granted Earth – Thermal Tide [Oscillator]

Release Date: March 2010.

Record Label: Oscillator.

Hailing from Monterey Bay, California, Granted Earth is a trio consisting of Rebecca Spicer (guitars), Jon Ugale (drums), and Mallory Mickel (bass) and have this year released their debut album ‘Thermal Tide’.

Influenced by the post-rock and sludge metal pioneers of Isis, Pelican, Neurosis and Swedish progressive heavy metal band Opeth, ‘Thermal Tide’ sees the band take the best elements of each of these bands, while putting their own stamp on the experimental metal genre.

‘When We Give In’ the albums opener, starts with a slab of sludge metal that builds into a sequence of chord changes from loud to quiet as Mickel’s bass compliments the aggressive tones of Spicer, while drummer Ugale keeps the train chugging along nicely.

The opening seven minutes of the album sees the band state their intentions from the off set, and Nick Schuapp’s layering of synths towards the end of the track coupled with the ever-changing chord sequences shows that this is a band that is brimming with ideas.

‘Twist of Fate’ continues to set the pace of the album and sees the band continuing to explore the boundaries of this genre. ‘Voyage To The Falls’ fills the gap that Tool where unable to fill on their 10,000 Days release and the five minute epic converts complex melodic passages into avant-garde metal.

‘My Solstice’ showcases Spicer’s talents as a lead guitarist with a two minute chilled out interlude that breaks the album up into two expandable chunks, leading straight into ‘Historian’ and then ‘Release’ both tracks sounding like Black Album-era Metallica, with a more interchangeable outlay.

‘Cycles’ sees the band expand their arsenal even further, beginning with mystical synths that break off only for a brief, but enjoyable flute solo (yes a flute solo!) from Jenny Ridout, that kicks the album back into the post-rock genre that bands such as: Isis and Pelican made their own at the beginning of the decade. The last and longest track on the album ‘Galvanized’ brings the album to a close on a high note.

Although the album is mainly instrumental, the occasional addition of vocals as well as synths and flutes, helps expands the bands sound and sets them apart from their counterparts and with the in-definite hiatus of Isis, there is a void to be filled in the post-rock genre and who knows, Granted Earth might just be the band to fill that void.

http://www.myspace.com/grantedearth

The Kings Of Frog Island – III [Elektrohasch]

Release Date: July 2010.

Record Label: Elektrohasch Records.

The Kings Of Frog Island are a psychedelic rock three-piece from Leicester, whose third album released by the independent German label Elektrohasch Records, marks the end of the bands trilogy of albums.

The trio consisting of Mat Bethancourt (guitars & vocals), Mark Buteux (guitars) and Roger ‘Dodge’ Watson (drums), enlist the help a number of fellow musicians including: Gavin Searle (vocals) and Lee Madel-Toner (bass) with additional instruments played by Julia Dream and Tony Heslop to put their concept album into fruition.

‘In Memoriam’ the albums opener is a cryptic affair and draws similarities with ‘The Last Train’, which opens the previous album ‘II’, before bursting into life with ‘Globe Street Whores’ a standard Queens of The Stone Age tinged bluesy rocker, with solid vocals and pounding guitars.

‘Bride of Suicide’ continues the psychedelic blast of blues rock, accompanied by rustic vocals and hypnotic chanting. ‘Dark On You’ however breaks away from the previous couplets, instead incorporating the progressive rock of bands of yesteryear such as Pink Floyd and in doing so, creating their own sound in the way of a cold and gloomy ballad.

However the albums gem comes in the form of ‘The Keeper Of…’. Beginning with a slow and atmospheric build up, the track transforms itself into a wall of sound, coupled with experimental chants and rhythmic harmonising takes the listen on a seven minute psychedelic journey, which is a ended abruptly with the chilled out desert rock inspired ‘More Than I Should Know’.

Not only does ‘More Than I Should Know’ break away from the flow of the album, the track also acts as a prelude to the second seven minute experimental rocker in the form of ‘Ode To Baby Jane’.

‘Ode To Baby Jane’ a meaty slab of space-rock, continues to take the listener through a psychedelic drug fuelled haze, allowing the listener to focus on the musicianship of Mat Bethancourt, Mark Buteux and Roger ‘Dodge’ Watson.

The Blue Cheer inspired, ‘I’m Not Sorry’ brings the listener back down to earth, followed by the Black Sabbath fuzzed out rock hybrid of ‘A Cruel Wind Blows’ beginning with a one minute acoustic build up, before roaring into action.

The album finishes with ‘Gallowgate Tree’ a percussion led jam that brings the album full circle and is a fitting end to the bands trilogy of albums.

In comparison to previous albums, III is a much darker affair, however, like I and II the band wear their influences on their sleeve, be it the heavy psych-rock of last 60’s pioneers, Cream and Blue Cheer or the laid back desert fuzzed out rock of the Palm Desert Scene, The Kings Of Frog Island manage to fuse their influences together into their own surreal universe of toads and amphibians.

http://www.myspace.com/thekingsoffrogisland

Fu Manchu: O2 Academy Islington, London

Words by Simon Hadley.

Photo: Dead by Sunrise.

Californian desert rock veterans, Fu Manchu kicked off their two month European tour last night at Islington’s 02 Academy.

Since the release of their 1994 debut album, No One Rides For Free, Fu Manchu have gone through a number of different line-up changes including briefly recruiting ex-Kyuss drummer and now solo artist, Brant Bjork, but despite this, their live shows have always been consistent.

Kicking off with the blistering heavy fuzz classic of ‘Hell on Wheels’, beginning with Bob Balch’s throbbing guitar, that slowly morphs into a deadly thunderous roar, shows that Fu Manchu are a band on top of their game. ‘Bionic Astronautics’, the first track from their new album, Signs of Infinite Power, harks back to the bands, hardcore punk roots and a chorus  break down that echoes early 70’s era Black Sabbath.

A flurry of tracks from their new album followed as the band threw themselves into: ‘El Busta’, ‘Steel.Beast.Defeated’, ‘Webfoot Witch Hat’ and ‘Gargantuan March’, all of which were received well by the sold out crowd and hinted at a return to the glory days of the genre classics of 1996’s In Search of and 2000’s King Of The Road releases.

‘California Crossing’, the main stay of Fu Manchu’s set lists, starts with Scott Reeder’s thundering military style drumming, before vocalist Scott Hill unloads: “Twenty years or more/We had a plan/To build the finest street ride/In the whole damn land”, sparks a mass three minute sing-a-long.

Despite the mixed reception for the bands previous two releases, Start the Machine and We Must Obey, Fu Manchu’s greatness is still here. Lynchpin guitarist and front man Scott Hill’s laid back, West Coast Californian croon, Scott Reeder’s and Brad Davis’ driving rhythm section and finally Bob Balch’s thick fuzzy guitar licks make you wonder why Fu Manchu are not as big and  as well received as their Californian neighbours, Queens of the Stone Age.

Despite the emphasis being on the bands new tracks, fans were treated to a flurry of classics including: ‘Eatin’ Dust’, ‘Laserblast!’, and ‘Evil Eye’, a brilliant, psychedelic tinged hard rock classic that is arguably one of the strongest tracks the band have ever released. The 90 minute set list finished up with an eight minute, psychedelic, down tuned, doom rock onslaught of ‘Saturn III’, with vocalist Scott Hill commenting that Islington was: “Not a band way to start the tour.”

Them Crooked Vultures: Plymouth Pavilions

 

Words by Simon Hadley.

Rock’s most talked about supergroup began their seven-date UK tour last night in Plymouth, to the delight of the South West.

Them Crooked Vultures, comprised of Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and Desert Sessions), Dave Grohl (Nirvana and the Foo Fighters), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) as well as touring guitarist Alain Johannes (Desert Sessions and Eleven) did not disappoint.

The band kicked off their set list with ‘No One Loves Me & Neither Do I’, a raw plodding groove that descended into a Zeppelin-style breakdown wowed the Pavilions and set the tone for the rest of the night. The dream team rhythm section of Dave Grohl on drums and John Paul Jones on bass have a natural chemistry, which was evident on ‘Scumbag Blues’, a slice of classic 70’s rock that echoed Cream, with Josh Homme adding a bluesy lead riff into the mix.

The hard rock stomp of ‘Elephants’ soon followed, before a rare outing for ‘Highway One’, a track that narrowly missed out on the group’s debut album, but with talk of an EP release next year, may still see the light of day. ‘Gunman’, a hard rock-disco stomp echoed shades of Physical Graffiti era Zeppelin and was a fan favourite amongst the sold out crowd, showing how easy it is to add different textures to the bands already impressive arsenal.

However, it was John Paul Jones who stole the show. Introduced by Homme as : “One of your own”, multi-instrumentalist Jones, showed just why he is one of the greatest living and influential rock musicians of the last 40 years, effortlessly changing between bass guitar and the keytar, during ‘Interlude With Ludes’. Jones rounded off his performance by treating the crowd to a beautiful piano solo, which will hopefully feature on the group’s next album.

‘Mind Eraser, No Chaser’ bought the straight forward rock assault back into the set as did ‘Caligulove’, but set ending ‘Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up’, was the moment of the night. Warsaw bought together the harder and fuzzier moments from Homme’s first band Kyuss, and psychedelic Desert Sessions elements to create a psychedelic progressive rock wall of sound, with Homme, and touring guitarist Alain Johannes trading solos, putting the crowd into a hypnotic daze.

Clocking in at over 90 minutes the fans got their money’s worth and will be hoping that Them Crooked Vultures return to the South West sooner rather than later.