BANQUET – Run To You / Mother Road 7inch

* Review by: Ride With The Devil – Music Blog
The first release from San Fran-based Banquet is a doozy, bleeding together late-’70s grooves with today’s sort of stoner rock sensibilities to get songs that roll casually along until it gives a lurch right into hard-riding terrain. The guitar slips around from sharp and shredded to loose and bleary, catching the edge of the drummer’s hardest knocks and tearing loose from there as the bass plugs along gamely. Meanwhile, the vocals go right for the ’70s jugular, bursting forth with enough raucous energy to get the lighters in the crowd raised into the air.
They’re not exactly revolutionizing heavy rock yet, but as a first release, it definitely puts the band down as one on which to keep an ear. There’s heart, they’re pushing themselves hard, and the jammier moments of the two songs show a cool liquidity of interplay between the members, one which I can already imagine going into service on some ~8-minute monster. There’s shirts to be had on the band’s BC page, or you can jump on a copy of the 7″ over at Who Can You Trust? Records, so keep sharp for further Banquet.


 

VA ‘SWEET TIMES – Volume 3’ 4-way 7inch


 

PLANES OF SATORI – s/t LP

* Review by: Norman Records, UK
Planes of Satori, bless you: you make us feel that ineffable thing we like to call groove without any reference to the science of music. I like your riffs, to start: they walk around the place like a toy that’s been wound up and expertly deployed, sounding both static and magical at the same time. Then there’s the drums, which politely keep rhythm before delving into a jazz-kraut wonderland where things are free and ceremonious — like the onslaught of disjointed percussion from Birdman, but slicker and stealthier. And your vocalist, Mr. Alejandro Magana, sounds like he should be in the Pixies, screaming about debasers. It is a strange mix, but Planes of Satori sound tight. As trousers.

Traditional kraut-rock is rarely done well, these days: the traditionalism is usually mixed into a hybrid of other stuff, and though Planes of Satori are influenced by psych rock and Afrobeat, they’re also dedicated to the unshaken rhythms and hypnotic tactics of those early kraut bands. They let the scene erupt around grudge-holding basslines that feel guarded against the woozy, groaning guitar solos and chattering teeth of Magana’s.

Magana has been compared to Can’s Damo Suzuki as he often provokes the same reactions from the smoky rock aesthetics he finds himself in — he contributes that same compelling, obscured type of in-and-out background singing as his hero on “Green Summer”. At his best, though — and with less dominating guitar solos — he’s more Malcolm Mooney, recalling the energy with which he kicked everything out of the room on Delay’s “Butterfly”. That speaks to his range, of course, and the many different ways Planes of Satori fuck with the definition of “krautrock”; sometimes it’s wild, and sometimes it’s sterile. But it always has a plan.

* Review by: Ride With The Devil – Music Blog
Planes of Satori’s self-titled LP is also, as you might expect, their first full-length, coming on the heels of a warm-up 7″ which emerged around this time last year. The time since then has evidently been well-spent, as the music shows signs of the band’s care in polishing up their sound and synergy, and in crafting deep and varied assemblages of off-beat, high-energy whirlwinds of funky tones and rhythms. Trying to ID everything swirling around in this mix feels like a fool’s game, but some of the most evident influences are the loose and jazzy technical style, some proggy jam indulgences, and psychedelic flavor grounded by the sensibilities of kraut-rock’s idiosyncrasies. The band shows their skill at swimming from tightly-regimented twists of nested rhythms into loose-flowing drifts of echoing delight, a style made all the more exciting whenever the fact that this is still just their first album leaps up to shake you with the possibilities for the future.
There’s a lot on this album into which you can sink your teeth, but the band keeps a cool sense of fun engaged while churning through the styles. There’s no sense, as can sometimes happen with highly prog-driven material, of part of a song being there just so they could wrap up whatever math equation went into adding drum to bass to guitar et al. The music feels organic and lively, and best of all, the band seems to be enthused and enjoying their complex work. As I said before, the possibilities for this group’s future are enough to make you shiver in anticipation, but putting this album on for another spin will warm you right back up in no time.
Who Can You Trust? Records is the label responsible for delivering this music to the world, in the form of 500 black vinyl copies. Hopefully they’ve already got plans for a second batch, as I expect this will very quickly become one of those items that people tear their hair out in search of otherwise. Don’t suffer any hair loss yourself, get one ordered as soon as you can, and dig into some rich, awesome, and experimental rock.


 

VA ‘SWEET TIMES – Volume 2’ 4-way 7inch

* Review by: The Obelisk
If nothing else, the second installment in Who Can You Trust? Records‘ Sweet Times 7″ series is an efficient use of space. Perhaps even more than its predecessor, which also included four bands, it squeezes seemingly disparate takes on heavy rock onto two sides of what might come across as a sampler for busy heads on the go were it not for the fact that you need a turntable to listen to it. Still, an impressive feat, and all the more when one considers the ground it covers, from the sweet ’70s melodies of Brooklyn’s The Golden Grass to Italian psych-garage rockers Sultan Bathery on side A, and from the sweet classic punk of New York’s Metalleg to the doom-tease-into-Motörhead-jolt of Gorilla. All told, it’s done in under 10 minutes, depending on how fast you flip the platter, and gives a brief glance at some of what each band has to offer. sweet-times-vol-2-front-coverPlus, it comes with 3-D glasses! Because the future!

Yes, the artwork of the 7″, which is pressed in an edition of 500 copies (black vinyl) and comes in thick card stock, is colored so that the included class-style blue and red 3-D glasses make it pop out. Likely you don’t need me to tell you that’s awesome — all the more so because it actually includes the glasses — but even more of a draw are the four songs themselves. The Golden Grass lead off with “All You Have Grown” (premiered here), which at just over three minutes is actually the longest inclusion here. The trio don’t need anymore time than that to establish a resonant, bright melody and a hook, and while the track seems to end cold in comparison to some of what appeared on their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), one can hardly fault them, particularly in context of sharing the side with Sultan Bathery, whose handclap-inclusive “15 Minutes” is a fuzz-drenched rhythmic joy of primal proto-heavy. No time for frills, but a buzzsaw solo carries to side A’s sudden finish with just a second of tape hiss left over for good measure.

I feel like my hand is barely off the turntable arm before Metalleg‘s “Chained” is over. At just 74 seconds, it’s a warm-toned Ramones-style chorus the three-piece — who no doubt by now are tired of being compared to the Ramones — have crafted, and they quickly showcase a grasp for the affinity early punk showed for pop before pop-punk became a commercial force. The tone is warm and sweet-times-vol-2-side-bnatural, raw but not necessarily aggressive, which is all the better for Gorilla, who finish out Sweet Times Vol. 2 with “Three Squealer” by tossing off a measure of a riff spawned from the same muck that birthed “Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes” before they gleefully pull the rug from under it and, after a couple stick-clicks, hit into the aforementioned Motörhead-style rush. Given where they’re coming from, one would expect little wasted space in “Three Squealer” and Gorilla comply ably, ending the release with one last hook and genre crossover that, somehow, fits just as well as the donations from The Golden Grass, Sultan Bathery, and Metalleg.

Maybe part of what makes it work is that it’s done so soon, but I’m not inclined to argue either way. Who Can You Trust? Records has already issued a follow-up to Sweet Times Vol. 2 that includes Death Alley, Wild Honey, Pastor and Sonic Love Affair, so they’re keeping true to the form here in working at a speedy pace. It certainly serves the bands well, so I see no reason why it shouldn’t do the same for the label.


 

RAGGED BARRACUDAS – s/t 7inch

* Review by: Boston Hassle
Ever get that sinking feeling that blistering, old-fashioned American rock is in decline? Ragged Barracudas is solid proof that the scorching sound you love is alive and well – at least, it is in their native Germany. The RBs have succeeded in capturing the sounds of a Rt. 66 biker bar circa 1976: that dusty, road-worn feeling seeps out of the mottled overdrive, the staggering 12/8 drum fills, the classic no-bullshit bass tone. The opening matched guitar bends of “Cheap Allure” are perfectly out of sync, in a way that gives the track that vast, expansive feeling; the almost medieval parallel 5ths of “Motor Jam” slip into unison, hitting you with a wall of huge sound and then piercing you like a needle. With all of this, the band is able not just to mimic that old-school rock tone, but to inhabit it as their own – and yet, for all the nostalgia in this album, there are moments where the band swings skillfully into a more modern, more punk-influenced getup: the galloping B section of “Cheap Allure” is some kind of fantastic hybrid of biker rock and melodic punk; the vocals on “Living The Dream” are half Morrissey and half Morrison, in timbre and delivery. If you’re aching for some tough, booming tunes, then Ragged Barracudas have got you covered. Keep an eye on them through any of their many labels (Unholy Anarchy for the US, plus At War With False Noise, Cardinal Fuzz, and Who Can You Trust?) and stream below to fill your ears with this classic goodness.

* Review by: Colour Horizon
Imagine a tantalising gumbo in which the following ingredients have been added: the coagulated death rattle of The Birthday Party, the bad sex vibes of Morphine and the primordial soup stock of Bassholes. This is where Ragged Barracudas come in, as chef and creator of this ungodly dish.

Greasy, slimy, oily, ditchwater blues crawl from the title track like 50s B Movie monster The Blob. Guttural Nick Cave anguished vocals are bawled over a Deep South version of ‘Spread Your Love’. ‘Cheap Allure’ offers spit ‘n’ sawdust rockabilly. ‘Motor Jam’ ends with a slow motion replay of a fuzzy blues riff.

If all this whets your appetite, order yourself a helping and wash it down with cheap bourbon.

* Review by: The Obelisk
The swing and analog garage fuzz of Ragged Barracudas‘ debut 7″ are immediate. Putting on “Living the Dream,” the A-side, is like unearthing a relic. Something you stumbled on from the stage just before punk became punk, when rock was heavy without realizing it, and the drugs were friendly but the vibe still a touch dangerous. They’re a modern trio from Germany, and you’d be right if you called them retro, but Ragged Barracudas sidestep most of the tropes and Sabbath/Graveyard-isms of the modern European throwback movement in favor of an acid rock sound more obscure, and ultimately, more original. Vocals and drums are blown out and the bass and guitar — layered in the first quick solo part — are warmly toned and more or less daring your stereo system to be older, but drummer/vocalist Christian Dräger, guitarist Janik Ruß and bassist Tom Weiten show off something of a jammy sensibility as well, both in the later stretches ragged barracudas singleof “Living the Dream” and deeper into side B’s “Cheap Allure/Motor Jam.”

Pressed in an edition of 600 black-vinyl copies and released through an assortment of labels that includes Unholy Anarchy, Cardinal Fuzz, At War with False Noise, and Who Can You Trust? Records, the 7″ really gets down and dirty on the B-side. Listening to the record — that is, the physical version — I couldn’t even tell where “Cheap Allure” ended and “Motor Jam” started, but it became clear with the stream on Who Can You Trust?‘s Bandcamp. “Cheap Allure” slows down some of the jet-engine stutter in the main riff of “Living the Dream,” but is catchy in a subtler way and, with a stop preceding an instrumental finale, puts its boogie tradeoffs into a different perspective — just because you see the shuffle coming doesn’t mean you don’t still want to get down. Ruß trips out a psychedelic soul-o and Dräger holds back on vocals to dedicate himself more fully to the forward drive, which stomps to a finish before “Motor Jam” announces its arrival proper with dueling layers of ultra-buzzsaw riff fuzz with some sweet low end buried underneath. That part of the B-side is less than two minutes long, but I’d ragged barracudashave been fine if Ragged Barracudas had filled the whole side with it. That’s not to take away from “Cheap Allure,” which most definitely lives up to its title, just to say that “Motor Jam” — named for the Netherlands’ Motorwolf Studios in Den Haag, where the single was recorded — gets locked in during its short runtime and sounds like the band could’ve easily carried that vibe further.

They don’t, however, and ultimately, “Living the Dream and “Cheap Allure/Motor Jam” conk out after 11 minutes or so of raw righteousness. Probably best for Ragged Barracudas to keep it short, since the classic spirit they’re going for — and, I’d argue, attain — did likewise, but I’d be interested to hear how they manage over the course of a longer release, even if it’s just a 10″ EP, and if their analog-worship holds up as their methods expand. For now, and for this single, the simpler they go, the better off they are, and in capturing a raw, heavy, proto-punk sound, Dräger, Ruß and Weiten show that there’s room for nuance both in primitivism and in traditional structures. Bonus points for the killer Adam Burke cover art.


 

PASTOR – Wayfaring Stranger / The Oath 7inch

* Review by: The Obelisk
On their debut single for Who Can You Trust? Records, Austrian four-piece Pastor – and just to save you the trouble of trying to seek them out on Thee Facebooks, here’s the link — run pretty quickly through a barrage of doom and classic heavy rock influences. Throughout the just-over-eight-minute Wayfaring Stranger b/w The Oath 7″, one can hear traces of early Pentagram‘s post-Sabbath doom rock, metered out with ’70s swing and swagger that makes the most of a catchy, nod-ready groove and immediately strong rhythmic sensibility. It’s worth emphasizing that the A-side is not a cover of the traditional ballad — the most memorable version I can think of for “Wayfaring Stranger” was by 16 Horsepower, but plenty of people have done it, including Johnny Cash – and that the B-side is not referring to the German doom/cult rock outfit so far as I can tell. Both songs are originals and delivered with a brash tossed-off feel that speaks to some roots in punk and keeps a natural, live feel to the recording.

The band is a two-guitar four-piece based out of Vienna, comprised of the first-name-only lineup of guitarist/vocalist Arik, guitarist Shardik, bassist Georg and drummer Alex. Once again, this single is their first release, but arriving in a sleeve that unfolds to show a full piece by Adam Burke on the outside and a picture of the band on the inside, they’ve put together a presentation that stands the two tracks out as something more professional than a demo that got picked up by a label, though the effect is still basically giving an introductory sample to what Pastor are shooting for sonically in their early stages. To that end, “Wayfaring Stranger” greets with motoring stomp, natural echo on the vocals and an underlying grit that pans out in winding riffs, lead/rhythm interplay and a sense of rush in the chorus that’s not actually overly fast, the midsection opening to a groove that would be begging for vinyl pressing if it wasn’t already done. They finish the A-side big — no surprise there — and pick up after the platter flip with more ’70s-stylized hijinks with “The Oath.”

Some of the doomly feel is maintained, but “The Oath” builds on its companion track with even more swagger, shifting near its own middle to a Radio Moscow-esque thrust of heavy psych, Arik donning a similar bluesy inflection to Parker Griggs. Crashing back to the reality of the heavy-landing central groove, Pastor once again seem to turn up as the “The Oath” boogies to its finish, but the blues-by-doom impression is made, and without giving themselves wholly over to the post-Graveyard/Kadavar school of retro worship, the foursome have nonetheless managed to hone an authentic-sounding update of a familiar but still engaging vibe. The vinyl, with the 7″ itself in a white sleeve and the art from Burke surrounding, is pressed in an edition of 500 copies. If you can dig it, you might dig it.


 

PLANES OF SATORI – Son Of A Gun / Dichotomies 7″

* Review by: The Obelisk
It was a surprise to learn that the Son of a Gun b/w Dichotomies 7″ is the debut release from Oakland-based Planes of Satori, since they come across with such a firm grip on a sound that could easily break apart in what would apparently be less capable hands. The two songs included on the black, 500-pressed Who Can You Trust? Records platter, “Son of a Gun” and “Dichotomies,” each work quickly to establish a dynamic rhythm as a foundation for psychedelic guitar work and airy, echoing vocals. The moods and general level of insistence vary between them — “Son of a Gun” pushes so hard one is almost inclined to push back — but both the A and B side carry across inventive, intricate rhythms well beyond space rock’s ordinary “we’ll keep playing the riff while the guitar takes a four-minute solo” fare. Nothing against that as there are plenty of bands for whom it works well, but with Planes of Satori, bassist Justin Pinkerton (also of Golden Void) and drummer Chris Labreche stand out just as much as the wah guitar of Raze Regal or the far-off vocals of Alejandro Magaña.

Pinkerton, who also recorded and mixed (the former with Christopher Sprague), has an obvious understanding of rhythm as the heart of the band, and that works immediately to “Son of a Gun”‘s advantage, the drums setting up a shuffle somewhere between Afrobeat and jammed-out tom meandering, hitting right in with Regal‘s guitar, which shortly opens up to give Magaña room for the verse. The tom hits and cymbal wash are constant, and the bass keeps up, while the guitar holds chords beneath and flourishes with winding lead lines and a high-end pinch. While it starts off with an already pretty wide soundscape, there’s an uptick in vibrancy in the second half of the track as well that’s only furthered by Regal‘s solo near the end, so a build exists too, and it’s not like the song is just three-plus minutes of a drum-fill/guitar-lead freakout, though I’ve no doubt that if it was, Planes of Satori would likely pull it off.

The flip side, “Dichotomies,” begins with a simpler bass and drum line that feels slower but might just be less active and once more finds Pinkerton and Labreche soon joined by Regal and Magaña. Neither track sticks around longer than it needs to in order to make its point, warm bass tones and guitar effects distinguishing the B from the A on the release, kinetic momentum still in effect despite the pullback. Magaña‘s vocals fit easily over the airier “Dichotomies,” and Regal‘s guitar handles the task of marching the song out with a psychedelic lead progression that the rest of the band seems glad to follow. Again, especially for a debut release, Son of a Gun b/w Dichotomies stands out for how much Planes of Satori seem to want to and to be able to do with their sound, but I’d be less shocked if their next release didn’t expand on what these two tracks present either. A band this given to movement in their material rarely has interest in any kind of standing still.

* Review by: The Sleeping Shaman
Planes Of Satori’s new 7″ for Who Can You Trust? Records is the real deal: a quality release by an exciting band on a fantastic label. Their sound is made up of various heavy-lidded touchstones, and when a full album drops, you can expect to be greeted with even more. Nowadays, ‘acid rock’, a tag Planes Of Satori give themselves, could mean just about anything.

Their sound is pitched somewhere between Can’s dreamy Krautrock and Echo & The Bunnymen’s floral post-punk, and has a pronounced rhythmic quality showcased on opener ‘Son of a Gun’. It’s a surprising, often hypnotic number, and Planes Of Satori make it look easy.

Unhinged guitar squalls and dense drum patterns unfold over ‘Son of a Gun’s three all-too-short minutes. It’s a sound that could easily be called ‘psychedelic’ as ‘gothic’ if this were 1982: the pounding drums and piercing guitar tone are a dead ringer for the more creative end of post-punk, found on ‘Heaven Up Here’ and ‘The Scream’. But don’t let that put you off (why would it?) if you’re not inclined toward bouffants and eyeliner: the ghost of acid rock past still looms large in the Doors-y desert-dry atmosphere.

Second track ‘Dichotomies’ is an even more pronounced synthesis of Ian McCullough’s baritone vocal trappings and Jaki Liebezeit’s rubbery groove on tracks like ‘Oh Yeah’. Pronounced influences aren’t a bad thing, especially when the influences are either ‘fashionable’ or ‘classic’. There’s plenty of competition out there for bands using krautrock tropes to construct completely unique soundscapes, and Planes of Satori obviously have an ear for a beat listeners can get lost in.

Fans of any of the bands I’ve mentioned would do well to look this up – it’s not often that records like this crop up in the ‘metal’ community, and there really should be many more, especially considering Loop’s much-anticipated headlining slot at Roadburn easily being the biggest announcement for this upcoming summer’s festivities.

It’s a great little sample for the big things to come from Planes of Satori – and it’s another stellar addition to an already-brilliant catalogue at Who Can You Trust?, which is a label worth monitoring if you’re into the fuzzy end of rock and roll. Their catalogue has sterling releases by Hot Lunch, Aqua Nebula Oscillator and Scottish cosmos-explorers The Cosmic Dead, and records like this only enhance their reputation for quality.


 

VA ‘SWEET TIMES – Volume 1’ 4-way 7inch

* Review by: The Sleeping Shaman
So, one of my favourite underground labels, Who Can You Trust Records, is starting a series of 7” compilations entitled “Sweet Times”. This is sexy news indeed. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of split releases so here we have four bands each weighing in with a track that runs for less than 3 minutes. Perfect, we get variety and economy. So far so good!!!

One of the label’s brightest stars, Hot Lunch, kick off with a cover of 70’s obscuros Crushed Butler’s “Love Is All Around Me”. Having never heard the original hardly seems to matter as Hot Lunch have that whole retro sound and vibe nailed. It pretty much seems that this band can do no wrong and this is a big balled slice of dirty, vintage rock with a rousing chorus and the prefect springboard for the rest of this release.

Glitter Wizard literally tear into their track “Siren”. This is blistering, full throttle, hard arsed garage rock with steaming guitars backed up by spectral organ and some throaty vocals that sound like a pervert with a stash of porn and a pair of binoculars.

Blondie get the cover treatment when Dirty Fences rip the arse out of “Will Anything Happen”. Again I’ve not heard the original but this is a prime piece of mid 70’s style American punk rock. It’s not a million miles from The Ramones…but with more chords and with Joey’s laconic drawl replaced with a gang of snotty youths.

Ovvl bring this piece of wax to a close with a track that is almost prog in comparison to the three that have gone before. In a shade under 3 minutes they chop and change rhythms and riffs with a vibe that’s not dissimilar to some of the NWOBHM bands albeit with a little more crust under their finger nails.

This release will be limited to 500 copies so won’t be around forever. It’s a short, sharp rocking shock that serves as a perfect introduction to the label. Who can you trust? I think the answer to that is pretty obvious!!!


 

WILD EYES S.F. – Get Into It! LP

* Review by: The Sleeping Shaman
Booze, weed, sweat, fringed buckskin jackets, cowboy boots, chicks in hot pants, bandanas, beards, bikinis, fuzz pedals, dirt, volume, sex, bravado…the distillation of true, down and dirty rock and roll!!!

Take a trip back to San Francisco, Haight Ashbury, the 70’s are underway, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Led Zeppelin have shown how the blues can be beaten down and reformed into a harder, darker, nastier beast and bands are picking up on this, cranking their amps and beating the shit out of their drums to mutate the beast even further. Wild Eyes S.F. would have fitted right in perfectly back in 1971 but in 2013 they stand out as one of the best filthy rock and roll acts I’ve heard in the last five years, no, make that thirty!!!

Imagine early Cactus…wild, fuzzed up deviations on blues themes played from the guts and the heart with more than a passing nod to the groin. Music played with every ounce of passion available that almost literally drips from the speakers. Now take Janis Joplin’s raw, powerful howl and lay that over the top relating tales of rock and roll excess and you have the recipe for rock and roll perfection. That’s San Francisco’s Wild Eyes S.F. in a nutshell.

Featuring Saviours drummer and bassist Ben Richardson and Carson Binks, guitarist Chris Corona and the soulful, soaring, searing vocals of Janiece Gonzalez, Wild Eyes S.F. have crafted a seven song set of pure rock fury of the highest order. This isn’t an album purely based on bluff and bluster though. Sure the riffs are as big as your momma, the bass grinds like Geezer Butler inhabiting the soul of Tim Bogert and the drums threaten to flay the skin off a Bison while Gonzalez’s voice sounds for all the world like she works as a cigarette and whiskey tester with a story to tell, at once sexual, scary, powerful yet fractured, but the songs…oh the songs!!! Awesome choruses punctuate each stinging guitar line and the lyrics could almost tell the story of the film Almost Famous. This album is a brief journey into the life of a rock and roll band, the ups and downs…but mostly the ups, or should I say the highs!!!

I thought Who Can You Trust Records had really hit a peak with Hot Lunch, another incredible band, but in Wild Eyes S.F. they have set their bar so high it’s starting to form ice!!! This album is going to be with me for a long long time to come.

I like it, just a bit, can you tell?


 

HOT LUNCH – s/t LP

* Review by: The Sleeping Shaman
I first got served a nice Hot Lunch via their debut 7”, “Killer Smile” on Who Can You Trust Records last year and was knocked sideways by the band’s brash and hypercharged take on 60’s garage rock, 70’s boogie and snotty punk. It turns out the two songs on the single were merely a taster for a much broader range of sounds that this American four piece are capable of as this debut album will firmly attest.

Kicking off in prime, amped up MC5 style with “Handy Denny” it’s clear that Hot Lunch are out to grab you by the nuts like a pit bull and keep squeezing until this album has wrung you dry. Within the first two songs the band have ripped their way through more riffs that the first two Black Sabbath albums put together and there is no let up from here on in. “Ripped At The Seams” opts for a tight but loose Blue Cheer style grind with Eric Shea’s manic vocal delivery evoking John Garner at his most deranged in the early days of Sir Lord Baltimore. Other bands that Hot Lunch tip their hats to through the course of these nine tracks, to varying degrees include the spastic blues of The Groundhogs, the theatrical intensity of The Alice Cooper Band, the raw, soulful blast of Grand Funk Railroad, the explosive crunch of The Who through to the trippy psychedelia of The Doors…albeit without an incoherent drunken pub singer fronting them.

It isn’t all noise though. The epically lengthy “Lady Of The Lake” displays a level of tenderness with a lightly folky vibe, not too dissimilar to Sir Lord Baltimore’s “Lake Isle Of Innisfree”. That’s not to say that the bombast is too far away as the band play with a loud-soft dynamic that culminates in a female spoken piece of pure hallucinogenic gibberish that is equal parts ludicrous and genius. By contrast, the brief “She Wants More” blasts in a fog of boogie that makes Foghat look like Barry Manilow, Shea barely maintaining his breath and composure as he rages through the lyrics. “Tragedy Prevention”, like many of its predecessors pitches from riff to riff with wild abandon and even features what sounds like a Vox Organ to paint extra sonic textures. This is one area in which Hot Lunch excel. They are not bound, in the studio at least, by the constraints of the sound of their equipment and are happy to employ other means which to make their point, such as the Leslie speaker affected vocals on “Gold Lyre” or the Gregorian chanting on the Sabbath meets Misfits vibed “Monks On The Moon”.

Everything about this album screams of the late 60’s/early 70’s right down to the reverb ridden production and amps being pushed so hard you can almost smell the dust burning off the valves. A modern, processed production would have completely stripped Hot Lunch of that vital energy that they possess and serves to show that the atmosphere is the key ingredient in any recording…get that right and you have a winner on your hands.

Hot Lunch have created a minor masterpiece on this album. Those who dipped their toes into the band via their 7” will find everything they might have hoped for and a whole lot more besides. This is an album that has the rare distinction of being an immediate win on the first listen but also a grower as repeated listens will reveal the full extent of the band’s combined skills and insanity!!!

* Review by: Record Collector’s Journal
While my deepest musical love is ’60’s soul and rock n roll, I *do* dig branching out into different terrain when the sound and vibe moves me. Oakland, CA’s Hot Lunch works in an area that brings to mind bands such as The Pink Faieries, Hawkwind, Blue Cheer, The Gun, Deep Purple (at their most balls-out) and (a name that is dropped far more often than actually relevant) Black Sabbath. Hot Lunch has a very important ingredient that they share with these bands- namely, the unstoppable GROOVE. Lots of “heavy” music loses me as a listener due to plodding grooves that get lost in the mud, lack of hooks, lack of composition and an overall lack of clarity. Not so with these bay area fellas; no matter what tricky time changes they are navigating through (these dudes are TIGHT), the band maintains this groove that makes me wanna get DOWN.

Listening to this record (and seeing the group live) reminds me of the photo inside Blue Cheer’s OUTSIDEINSIDE LP where where the group pic is shot with slow film, making drummer Paul Whaley look like an octopus behind the drum kit (which, through his crazy time stopping rolls, certainly sounded like). Hot Lunch drummer Rob Alper is ALL OVER the kit, octopus-like, yet somehow keeps it rooted in that aforementioned GROOVE, as he and bassist Charlie Karr are the type of rhythm section that are seemingly sharing a brain and locked into every minute nuance of making this mother swing HARD.

Aron Nudelman (on guitar) keeps it interesting and his playing adds a surprising clarity of tone and taste while still maintaining the heavy-as-hell vibe. Glorious Fender amp reverb adds a soulful, human element to the massive riffing. Frontman Eric Shea showcases an incredible vocal style that, even at full throat-shredding throttle, stays melodic, powerful, and highly charismatic.

Side one closes with the epic “Lady of The Lake”; the band’s most outwardly psychedelic track that matches vivid (and warped) lyrical imagery with the type of haunting and trippy melodies that bands such as Juicy Lucy brought to wax as the dreams of the 1960’s turned into the freaked out, comedown aspect of the psychedelic trip. Other tracks include the revved up boogie of “She Wants More”, the mood-shifting mind melt that is “Gold Lyre”, and the no-nonsense, pure ass-whipping “Killer Smile”. Among the excellent originals, the band takes ELP’s most fiery moment (“Knife Edge”) and somehow makes it their own and makes it rock HARDER.

More proof that those cynics who say the album as an art form is dead and buried are liars. This is the type of album that will reaffirm your faith in the power of rock and roll music.

* Review by: The Soda Shop
I first heard of Hot Lunch late 2012 when they did a brief West Coast tour with Glitter Wizard. Intrigued I sought out the two 7″ records they had out at the time. To this day I have yet to have the time to throw them on. That’s another story for another day though. After getting this promo through the pipelines recently I decided to put them on.

A recent press release announcing their signing with Tee Pee Records had them listed as a skater band. I was expecting more of label mates The Shrine to their sound. While they do share a few traits, Hot Lunch are a lot less skater music and a bit more of a retro, classic rock, garage, punk, and surf music band rolled into one. That’s not to say that there aren’t any skaters out there who wouldn’t enjoy this. Hot Lunch is something that can be enjoyed by everyone. It does have a mass appeal. They do show a bit of versatility for a more slimmed down almost Woodstock era song “Lady of The Lake.” The tone of that song certainly sets the mood and brings up memories of bands from that era. The last song “Monks on the Moon” gets a little deep and doomy at times but also displays a little bit of space rock. It’s a pretty damn good song and the perfect song to bring the album to a close. It reminded me a little bit of a slightly less fuzzy The Atomic Bitchwax. The flow of the album is nice. Each song runs seamlessly from one song to the next.

Hot Lunch is a band you should keep your eyes and ears on in the future. I have a feeling that they’re going to be a band that keeps turning out hit album after hit album for years to come. Make sure you get your copy of the album pronto because I have a feeling it’s going to sell out. The album is out now on vinyl through their German label Who Can You Trust Records. The stateside release through Tee Pee Records is March 12th, 2013.

* Review by: The Styrofoam Drone
It’s an absolute fact that anyone who is familiar with HOT LUNCH knows it took way too long to release their debut album. Thanks to Who Can You Trust? Records in Germany, that’s no longer a problem.

This debut album is just the kind of electrified kick-in-the-ass we were expecting – it was hard to anticipate much else given their debut single – but San Francisco’s Hot Lunch deliver on every little bit of the promise we heard in that 7″. Hot Lunch is home to nearly 45 minutes worth of some of the heaviest, blues-leaning punk n’ roll we’ll hear in 2013 and it’s only January. With that being said, it’s not a surprise to learn that Hot Lunch recently signed with Tee Pee Records in New York to release the album in the United States.

It’s one thing to say the guitars of Aaron Nudelman act as the driving force in these songs because there’s no escaping their rollicking and over-driven intensity. At the same time you also can’t forget frontman Eric Shea, who guides us through this heated mess with his scratchy, bloodthirsty howl track by track, leaving us wondering how the man still has a voice after any given live performance. It’s really up to how you hear it, but with these two sharing the spotlight there’s just no way for us to possibly ignore what’s going here.

Tracks like “Handy Denny”, “Ripped at the Seam” or “She Wants More” show off what these guys do best by shredding the skin clean off our faces with little to no remorse whatsoever. Later tracks like “Lady of the Lake” or album-closer “Monks on the Moon” offer up that familiar shred, only that they’re a bit longer and take on a more progressive sound instead of just ripping on through a three minute track. Just listen to these fine tracks below and you’ll quickly learn what’s going on here.

* Review by: JULIAN COPE – Head Heritage
Finally, the Vinyl of the Month goes to American West Coast quartet Hot Lunch, whose scorched and roaring self-titled debut does battle with the whole of 1969-71’s heavy scene and mostly wins. Tumbling Olympian guitar riffs, radical tempo changes, gruff desperate lead vocalist, guitar solos way louder than the rest of the band, Dennis ‘Machine Gun’ Thompson percussion mania throughout. Hell, even their almost obligatory Myths & Legends epic ‘Lady of the Lake’ is a startling success in a very early Yes/late Love kinda way. And album closer ‘Monks on the Moon’ is an even cheekier tour de force and a stone classic. Imagine a hybrid singer somewhere between Rob Tyner, Bobby Liebling and Granicus’ Woody Leffel and you’ve reached bearded longhair vocalist Eric Shea’s major metaphor, and a fuck of a metaphor it is. Hairy Chapter, Dust, Dragonfly, Bang, this gentleman could have fronted any of those lost outfits and kacked big logs over their own singers. Add to all that the soaring eloquence of action-guitarist Aaron Nudelman’s post-Townshendian MC5-ian Muse and fastidious Klepto-Iommisms and, boy, these suckers even manage to breath some life into ELP’s stinking ‘Knife Edge’. That’s right, you heard me correctly. First time I couldn’t believe my ears. All over the tragic original, Keith Emerson had managed to daub so many rank-and-chortlesome show off licks, that merely by divesting it of such World Crap, the gentlemen of Hot Lunch have uncovered a… Garage Classic. No less, no shit! Add Aaron Nudelman’s new contributions and fuck ja, mein hairy! So yes yes yes, this is one fine debut, gentlemen, and I do hope you stay together long enough to spew out another. Released on Germany’s Who Can You Trust Records, Hot Lunch is a daft enough name to get noticed and too great a debut LP to pass un-noticed. Those of you with a perma-jones for true proto-metal of the highly imaginative variety should rush out with the readies, and right now!

* Review by: Reglar Wiglar
Hot Lunch sound at times like an upside down cross between 60s acid rock and 70s heavy metal with short bursts of what I can only describe as something that might have shown up on an SST record in the 1980s. They stick to the hard rock genre for sure, but they cover a lot of the subgenres within (and by subgenres I just mean other hard rock bands—yes, Black Sabbath and Motorhead are subgenres unto themselves. Are too). And who doesn’t appreciate a good hot lunch anyway? (The brown baggers, that’s who.)

But anyway… what was I sayin’? Oh yeah, lot’s of different influences goin’ on with The Lunch. They’re not afraid to go after a little bit of fantasy metal with “Lady in the Lake.” “Handy Denny” get’s all Rob Tyner and MC5 on your ass. “Killer Smile” (released earlier as a 7″ inch single on WCYT Records) gives me a Budgie vibe (and maybe a wedgie as well). “Ripped at the Seam” goes for a Sabbath riff but faster, and “She Wants More” channels Lemmy’s “gimme-some-throat-nodes” approach to vocal delivery. The whole record is heavy from beginning to middle to end. It’s just fuzzy, loud, blown out rock and roll with nasty vocals and equally nasty subject matter. Just like Mom used to make!


 

LECHEROUS GAZE – Bagagazo 7inch

* Review by: The Sleeping Shaman
Some bands just capture a spirit in their name; The Sex Pistols, Guns N Roses, Metallica, Slayer…etc. The name speaks volumes and lets you know exactly what that band is about and now you can add Lecherous Gaze to that list. The name has that creepy, voyeuristic, slightly rapey quality to it that perfectly accompanies their ragged brand of kick ass rock and roll. If this band had a smell it would be of a teenage boy’s room…musty and faintly unpleasant!!!

Lecherous Gaze are a denim clad hairy five piece with sweat, sex, drugs and cranked amplification on their fevered minds. The result, captured perfectly on this slab of wax on the increasingly excellent Who Can You Trust Records from Germany, is a sleazy slab of punked up, psychedelic tinged rock and roll that brings to mind acts such as MC5, Black Flag, early Alice Cooper, Kiss, Ted Nugent, The Stooges, Blue Oyster Cult, The Sex Pistols…etc. The three tracks the band offer up here, “Bagagazo”, “Scorpion” and “Feathered Fish” are packed, wall to wall with biting acerbic riffs, post Chuck Berry lead fills, caffeine fuelled drumming and sneering raw vocals that spit pure rock and roll blood with enough piss and vinegar to make you forget that dour, over earnest shit like Coldplay and Muse ever existed.

This kind of rock and roll is fast and to the point so on this record you don’t get much, but it’s enough to get you hooked. Lecherous Gaze are filthy drug dealers, giving you a taste of their wares so that you’re compelled to return, wide eyed and sweating looking for more. Fortunately TeePee records have seen fit to give these guys a chance to put out a full length any time now so stick this in your veins for the minute, let the rush hit you then beg, steal or borrow to get some more.

* Review by: Broken Beard
If I was still in school, I’d skip the shit out of it to listen to Lecherous Gaze. Of course, it’s been nothing but splits and EPs from this bad influence of a band, so it would be, like, 9:30 am when all the songs were done, but at least it’d be one bitchin’ kick-start to a day in which I would hang out in front of the liquor store and convince some legal-aged sap to buy me alcohol. Then I’d go home with my mickey of liquid fun and get stupid to Lecherous Gaze all over again. Hell, I’ll be damned if their latest three song EP, Bagagazo, doesn’t have me checking the booze stockpile right now so that I can enjoy this one proper when my writing duties are done, like the bearded loser I am. And chances are, the Oakland band’s scuzz-punk would just keep sounding better the deeper I got, until I was completely lost in all them wretched hooks, shadow knifing around the room with a switchblade in one hand and my cock in the other. Nothing but pure dumb action, is what I’m getting at here, the title track and “Scorpion” shout-along, riff-snortin’ rawk, like The Stooges, Dead Boys, and KISS with a 60s garage twist (and I’m not just saying that because “Feathered Fish” is an Arthur Lee & The Sons of Adam cover). Now, I think these tracks are gonna appear on an LP or 12″ EP with the Born On A River single later in the year, but I don’t recommend waiting on that. Lecherous Gaze is blackout rock n’ roll, brothers and sisters, and must be heard now. In fact, this review is done and I’m about to go get right bagagazo’d. I suggest you do the same.

* Review by: The Styrofoam Drone
LECHEROUS GAZE offer up some stimulated power rock with their brand new 7″ on Who Can You Trust? Records in Germany who continue to churn out the goods.

After the Hot Lunch 7″ and now this, it’s clear the type of sound Who Can You Trust? seem to be going after. This new Lecherous Gaze single falls into a similar vein, including three new cuts of their electrifying rock & roll, coming together with fiery guitars for some intense instrumentation. Opener “Bagagazo” takes us on an epic guitar journey, riddled with all sorts of hellish licks and noisy, metallic twang. Over top of that lead singer Zaryan Zaidi guides us through the madness with his snarling vocals, leading us through these destructive, guitar crazed meltdowns. The track hits its craziest point within the final two minutes, blitzing us with a mess of ripping punk guitars that will leave you cringing in fear.

This easily becomes the pattern of this heart-stopping single – it’s extremely unforgiving and extremely guitar heavy. There’s simply no denying that this is some devastating stuff. Now listen to the fatal introductory track “Bagagazo” right below!


 

HOT LUNCH – Killer Smile 7inch

* Review by: Get Bent
With their 7” Killer Smile, Hot Lunch introduces themselves, and quite an introduction it is. Hot Lunch delivers a raw form of wah-wah powered psych-punk, topped off with some 80’s hard rock solo-ing.

Side A’s track “Killer Smile” knocks in with a pumping bass line and guitar solo that will surely get your adrenalin flowing, and singer Eric Shea’s raspy howl tops this track off well. Already on top of best tracks of the year list. Flip it over and there’s “You’re Alright”, a nice love song that gives us some more of the good stuff and has a nice Kinks-esque refrain.

Hot Lunch makes us want more and the good news is their full length album is bound to be released somewhere before the end of this year. While you wait, get your copy of the Killer Smile 7” through the German Who Can You Trust Records.

* Review by: VICE / Noisey
Das geflügelte Wort sagt ja bekanntlich, dass nichts auf dem Teller so heiß ist wie auf der Herdplatte. Eine Weisheit, die einen in manchen Situationen sicher durchs Leben geleitet, aber natürlich gibt es da auch Ausnahmen. Dieses Rudel Heißsporne aus San Francisco serviert ihren abgehangenen und mit allerlei Coolnesswürze versehenen 70ies Rock-Schinken so zügig, dass da zum Abkühlen eigentlich gar keine Zeit bleibt. So jemand wie Wolfmother würde sich an diesem Material ganz sicher das zarte Schnütchen verbrennen.

* Review by: The Styrofoam Drone
HOT LUNCH are a four piece band from San Francisco that brings together a searing mess of heavy 60s psych rock and punk, amongst other things. Their new 7″, Killer Smile, comes out this month on Who Can You Trust? Records out in western Germany.

The best news we could give you after listening is that this is only the beginning. This 7″ is just an introduction of what will eventually lead up to the debut album from Hot Lunch, which is due out sometime in 2012. If it’s like anything that has graced our ears here today with Killer Smile, then the upcoming LP is sure to be a hell of a party.

High voltage guitars call all of the shots in both of these rowdy songs, while the manic percussion and throbbing bass lines are forced to keep up with their dizzying pace. Lead singer Eric Shea guides us through “Killer Smile” with his raspy, authoritative howl, simply confessing that he “wants to play with your hair” as he shoves his words down your throat. A bit past the halfway mark of the song they flip the psych switch and suddenly you’re blindsided by pedal-to-the-metal psych-punk that will undeniably get your blood pumping and your feet tapping. With that being said, if you weren’t sold from the get-go, then you should be changing your mind right about now.

Flip over to the B-side and you’ll again find yourself in familiar territory. They give us a moment to catch our breath here by slowing the overall pace but they still take the rough and rollicking approach. Searing guitars continue to lead the way with their nearly sloppy complexion, serving up grandiose and electrified soloing that comes full circle while also being the ultimate proof that these guys know how to craft a song. Hear both sides of this shocking single below and see how you feel – also, be sure to keep an eye out at Who Can You Trust for whenever the single is available for sale! You know I’ll be doing the same!

* Review by: The Sleeping Shaman
Whoa, without so much as a knock at the door these guys come stumbling into your home and take over right away. I’ve never heard of Hot Lunch, I’ve never seen any press and any info is pretty hard to come by but if this tasty little slab of wax is anything to go by, rock and roll may just have a band to pull it back from the brink!!!

Citing influences such as Grand Funk Railroad, early Hawkwind, Blue Cheer, 80’s skate punk, The Who, CCR, Misfits amongst a whole bunch of others, Hot Lunch kick out the jams like righteous motherfuckers with a brash, high octane blast of punk fired retrogressive rock and roll madness. The A side, “Killer Smile” blasts off like the bastard love child of Grand Funk going head to head with MC5 while Sir Lord Baltimore look on choking on mushrooms!!!! It’s a heady blast of rock and roll that wouldn’t have been out of place in 1973…it rocks, grooves and boogies in equal measure with vocalist Eric Shea busting his lungs with an almost religious zeal.

B side, “You’re Alright” is allegedly a cover but the original performers are unknown. It doesn’t matter though as the stamp of authority shown on the flip side is all over this!!! Like 60’s garage rock played by guys who are teetering on the verge of psychosis. This is a shit kicking rock and roll party waiting to explode and have the police come knocking.

Many bands aim to achieve this kind of sound but most fall short of the mark…Hot Lunch hit the mark right on the money and keep on riding into wasted oblivion. The word is these guys are set to release an album on tape and vinyl…that’s right motherfuckers TAPE AND VINYL!!! This shit is old school…fucked up, rocking, righteous and old school…it feels good to be alive!!!


 

LA OTRACINA – The Aquarian Wind 12″

* Review by: Norman Records, UK
Hot damn! I picked this La Otracina one out as my first victim of the day on account of it having the coolest looking sleeve on the reviews pile. That’s just how I roll. Anyway, slap your needle down on it and it’s prog! Proper ‘70s-style rock heroics with clean bass and quite dry-sounding drums driving King Crimson-esque chunks of heavy riffing while overdriven guitar heroics splooge all over it in the heavy parts and twinkle and shimmer when they take it down. There’s a good mix here of old fashioned riff-wizardry and more out-there atmospherics, and even an eastern-sounding bit with tambourine and sinewy guitar lines that’s got those mystical vibes you get from Grails when they hit a groove. There’s that kind of Led Zeppelin-gone-mathy feel that you get from Pearls & Brass in places too. And the singer totally sounds like Ozzy in the Sabbath-esque closing rocker ‘Forgotten To Be Free’. I’m totally enjoying this, actually. Gonna have to delve into their back catalogue later when I don’t have a load of reviews to write. It’s only one-sided but there’s five decent-sized songs on there so it’s a fairly lengthy side. Great to see so much fun and interesting new psych and prog coming in lately!

* Review by: Was Ist Das?, UK
La Otracina play a fast, freaked-out kind of psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll, kind of like Free and early Fleetwood Mac on speed. They take the heroic art of the guitar solo and use it to paint a soaring vista of blue skies and open roads. A track like ‘Lost In The Sunrise’ is just perfect for a roadtrip. La Otracina make living, breathing rock music for life.
To truly understand it, you have to hear it not during your commute to your slave job, not at your computer desk at home but in the real world while living the great adventure. It is the sort of music that demands you open the windows and take in the view for the listening to their widescreen, psychedelic hard rock stomp. Small wonder they have united two of my favourite labels to get this one-sided 12″ released.

* Review by: Honest Bag
After 2010’s amazing Reality Has Got to Die on Holy Mountain, La Otracina return with a one-sided lp, co-issued by Sound of Cobra and Who Can You Trust? Records. The Aquarian Wind was released for the current European tour and is infused with their unique style of psychedelic sounds. From the drop of the needle, La Otracina take a big rip and produce the wonderful instrumental jam, “Voyage to Heldonia”, in which Adam’s drumming combines with heavy guitar sounds, all while the hypnotic bass negotiates its way through the sound waves. Next, “Lost in the Sunrise” features Adam’s vocals, guitars that wade into metal territory and propulsive drumming. Overall, the Aquarian Wind is infused with many elements: space rock, prog, krautrock, a little metal – a little of everything! One thing is for sure: this nug is made for your head.


 

WITCH – Die Fehl-Ritzhausen Kassette MC

* Review by: Aquarius Records, San Francisco
The European label Who Can You Trust? brings us two new tapes in their series of limited live cassette-only releases by some of our favorite heavy/psych bands, that began with the instantly-out-of-print White Hills live at WFMU tape last year. One from San Francisco’s very own Dzjenghis Khan, and one by Massachusetts heavy lords Witch featuring Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis on drums.
The cassette from Witch was recorded live at Holland’s celebrated Roadburn Festival, in 2008 – and in our experience, bands tend to be at their best at Roadburn! Their set features nine songs over two sides, songs drawn from both of Witch’s albums, five from their especially stoner/Sabbathy styled self-titled debut and four from their somewhat more punked out sophomore effort Paralyzed. So a bunch of our Witch favorites are on here, including “Rip Van Winkle”, “Seer”, and the crucial “Changing”, which Allan here considers to be the best heavy hypnotic doom stoner song of the century so far. In fact, he’d probably be happy with a tape that just repeated them playing it over and over and over, it’s so good, not that Witch’s other songs aren’t killer too. But that one, wow, it’s got a riff to rival “Satori Part II” by the Flower Travellin’ Band, man. Anyway, the only people who are gonna be fast enough on the trigger to nab one of these tapes are already Witch fans, and already know all that…
Being live, of course the sound on this tape is somewhat raw, compared to the studio recordings, but it’s good, better than a bootleg for sure. Witch sound particularly Melvins-y here!
Purple cassette, with sexy witch cover art on the J-card by the band’s bassist, Dave Sweetapple. Super limited (200 copies only!), and we only have a few…


 

DZJENGHIS KHAN – Prehistoric Rock MC

* Review by: Aquarius Records, San Francisco
The European label Who Can You Trust? brings us two new tapes in their series of limited live cassette-only releases by some of our favorite heavy/psych bands, that began with their instantly-out-of-print White Hills live at WFMU tape last year. One from Massachusetts doompunk stuporgroop Witch (featuring J Mascis on drums), and one from SF’s own retro-proto-metal power trio Dzjenghis Khan, basically the second coming of Blue Cheer, y’know…
Prehistoric Rock – Live In San Francisco is as advertised. The Dzjenghis Khan boys recorded live at the Elbo Room, a few blocks down Valencia Street from aQ, in 2006. And this is a band that’s AWESOME live, it’s what they’re all about. We know, that’s why we had ’em play our 40 anniversary party the year before last. They bring it, and amid the 8 tracks on this tape not only do their signature song “God Damn!” (which gives their singing drummer some) but also a cover of the classic “Green Manalishi” by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (a tune that’s also been covered by Judas Priest, and the Melvins). Their acid rock here is raw and rollicking, as it should be.
Djenghis Khan are the real deal, they should be huge (and woulda been, say back in ’71) but at least a few cool folks know what’s what, and we wish they had more stuff we could push on you. But everything they’ve put out so far has been limited and is out of print. So, while they last, we’re glad we have this tape and you will be too if you’re quick enough to snag one, assuming you dig long haired, heavy riffing, cowbell knocking, bellbottomed, weed smoking good times.
Orange cassette, super limited (150 copies only!), and we only have a few…

* Review by: Was Ist Das?, UK
Holy shit, here’s something I haven’t heard done properly in ages – hard rock. Dzjenghis Khan are in that classic mold of MC5, Blue Cheer and Motorhead – heavy but not metal. The fact that this tape captures them live and raw in a line-up that never recorded anything together seems to clinch it. This is a analogue bullet of rock’n’roll madness in maximum dosage. If Flower Travellin’ Band’s “Satori” got your rocks off then this cassette should do the trick. The fact that it is live and on cassette makes it feel like a document out of time. At some point between songs, someone orders a tequila, it makes perfect sense. It’s not without little touches of the psychedelic, there are wigged-out breakdowns, a little blast of free sax and solos that would do Kawabata Makoto proud, but the key words here are heavy and loud… and storming like a rock’n’roll hurricane. I’ve not heard any other recording they’ve done (I think there are two studio albums but this show pre dates them), so I can safely say that this serves as a brilliant introduction and a real blast.

* Review by: Scott Heller (http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.com/)
The amazing but lazy San Francisco Stoners, DK, are back with this live cassette from the Elbo Club in San Francisco from 2006. I saw Hieronymous Firebrain play there in the 90s! Anyway, it lasts about 25 mins and contains tracks from both that bands LPs as well as some unreleased songs and a cover of the Green Manalishi (Fleetwood Mac). The sound quality is very good and raw with a good balance of the instruments on this soundboard tape. The band just plays with some much attitude and raw rock and roll energy. You must crank it up to really appreciate it. The very last track, Stay in Texas is a really amazing jam and totally blew me away and was worth the cost of the cassette alone. I loved the bands last record, in fact, it was my favourite record in 2010! Come on guys, lets make another mind blower! No idea what they are up to, they have not even logged into myspace, their only web site on the web in since June last year! This is a cassette only release in 150 copies.. Hurry…


 

HOT LUNCH – Alakazam / She Wants More 7inch

* Review by: Thrasher Skateboard Magazine
Hot Lunch’s 7-inch on Who Can You Trust records is a blast of 60’s acid rock seemingly unearthed after decades of rock ‘n’ roll mediocrity necessitated its rebirth. The band features members of some SF bands (Mensclub, the Sermons) and Tucson’s the Fells, and they promise to melt your face…

* Review by: Aquarius Records, San Francisco
On the same label that released the recent live White Hills tape as well as a post Brainbombs No Balls jam we were never able to get, comes this brand new 7″ from these San Francisco psychedelic stompers, thick with blown out guitars, classic rock riffage, wild octopoidal drumming, Stooges-y stomp and wild manic almost Jello-like vocals, the sound a glorious tangle of sixties style psych, eighties punk rock, hairy fuzzy proto-metal and seriously shredding guitar mastery, the lyrics and unhinged vox remind us of some lost proto-punk classic, but then it’s all set amidst some BIG riffs and killer melodic leads, which sound way more heavy seventies. Either way, killer stuff, and we’re definitely hankering for a full length. Features some super scary green-goo’d space teeth cover art.

* Review by: 7 i n c h e s
Got this mystery vinyl in from Who Can You Trust Records, it took me a while to notice that the band name, “Hot Lunch” was sitting right there in the green slime drool between those teeth…nice sleeve guys. Poking around the label site it seems like this German based label is nurturing the heavy psych pre-metal rock of the late ’70s, with cassettes and singles from Hot Lunch.

“Alakazam” on the A-Side dives right into a screaming guitar, tight up front drums…right out of “Slow Ride” that sludgy classic beefy rock, with a bluesy almost metal melody over that slow death beat the drummer can work a thousand fills in between kick hits. The whole thing picks up into a faster sabbath quick riff sound and Eric Shea’s high register raspy delivery is of course the perfect compliment to this ballsy rock, a similar Michael McKean style from the Tap…maybe even lyrically at points.

Everybody says that you need a wife / to drink the milk of life
I don’t know why / it all began / I just came here for the party

A lot of control, but letting loose in that metal scream. They’ve nailed this sound in exactly the same way The Enthusiasts do…you hope there’s some room out there to appreciate this sort of thing. They’re so dead on in execution are they even going to be recognized for just recording this yesterday? So specific that it almost has to be some sort of parody or homage? No one would take the time to sincerely create this kind of impressive groove. All the classic rock stations out there just playing the same twenty songs over and over when there are bands like this! Oh radio, just curl up and die somewhere.

B-Sides “She wants More” shows off that crunchy riffage, literally you can hear the cable shorting out, the sound of the note just breaking through that Roger Dean dimension, taking it’s agonizing time to bust out the unbelievable speed psych rock. Doing away with any of the haze, or extended jamming, packing that sort of loose, mustachioed, classic car sound right into two minutes. Completely macho, leather fringe vests…without any of the romanticism…pure classic rock that has no right to be done better than the original.


 

TITAN – Pacific Living MC

* Review by: Scott Heller (http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.com/)
Titan is a New York based psychedelic band who have made some pretty damn cool releases. This is a cassette only release of 4 tracks recorded live in a radio studio in 2008. Three of the four tracks are from their record, A Raining Sun Of Light & Love, For You & You & You, and the last track, Highlands of Orick, is perhaps a new song since it is not listed on any of their records at Discogs.com. Hashishins Ohel starts this off and this is a real progressive rock work out with complex guitar and organ interactions before the track really spins itself out into more psychedelic territory and the organ is really freaked out and spacey first and then the guitar follows. Wow… Obelisk Orbit Overdrive seems to come out of Hashishin and starts slowly and spacey as well with lots of electronics as something starts to brew underneath and then the drums kick in hard and fast and the spacey guitar jam takes off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The organ comes back in the last 3rd when the intensity drops and the band head into a different realm of space. A really great space rock track and quite psychedelic. Good mix by whoever mixed it. Flip the tape over and you get Afruf der Pilz. This also a very organ driven, dynamic and complex song. Reminds me a bit of a more psychedelic Siena Root at times but they jam and space out in a totally more far out way than Siena Root. The organ solo and guitar section is really psychedelic stuff. They come back to the main theme and then really slow it down and float out into space. The next section is quite dynamic as well and more flanged out and space rock like before it comes way down to a drone as it fades nearly out before coming up with a familiar bass line and organ as it builds and ends. The last track starts quite upbeat and complex with a lot of interaction between the bass and organ then it takes off in an organ driven fashion once again. A really ripping guitar solo is played in this one as the bass player just lays down the killer lines when the organ playing draws back. Wow.. This is a totally killer tape and probably one of my favourite releases I have heard this year. Really jamming stuff. Fans of Astra will like this although there are no lyrics.

* Review by: Babyblaue-Seiten, Germany
Alben auf MC, wo gibt’s sowas heute noch? Im Falle des Brooklyner Quartetts Titan muss man eine derartige Veröffentlichung sogar als stilistisch angemessen bezeichnen, handelt es sich bei “Pacific Living” doch um eine Live-im-Studio-Einspielung. Selbiger Umstand legt auch die Vermutung nahe, dass Teile des Materials auch improvisiert wurden. Die Jam-Ambitionen werden auch dadurch unterstrichen, dass die nominellen vier Stücke in der knappen halben Stunde dieses Werkes nahtlos ineinander übergehen.

Und so geht es auch gleich von Anfang an in die Vollen: pumpender Bass, verspieltes Schlagzeug, jaulender Synthesizer und dominante Leadgitarre. Insbesondere letztere lässt ein im eröffnenden, knapp zehnminütigen “Hashashin’s Ohel” ein bisschen daran erinnern, wie es seinerzeit auf “The Inner Mounting Flame” vom Mahavishnu Orchestra losging, auch wenn hier die Geige fehlt. Logischerweise werden die zahlreichen, teils polyphonen Soloeskapaden auch immer wieder in brachialem Unisono-Riffing zusammengeführt. Da die Soloparts aber meist etwas hektisch und durcheinander klingen, sind das schon die stärksten Passagen dieses Stücks. Das folgende “Obelisk Orbit Overdrive” dagegen bedient mit Synthiegeblubber und psychedelischen Gitarreneffekten über einem verhältnismäßig monotonen, aber flotten Hardrock-Rhythmus die ganz klassische, um nicht zu sagen: zeitlose Spacerock-Schule à la Hawkwind. Persönlich finde ich hier aber den im 3/8-Takt gehaltenen, hektischen Schluss etwas unpassend.

Ohne Umschweife geht es mit “Afruf Der Pilz” weiter, und wie bei dem Namen auch nicht anders zu erwarten war, regieren zunächst einmal für ca. zwei Minuten psychedelische Sphärenklänge. Anschließend setzt ein straighter Rhythmus mit einer auf Sequencer getrimmten Keyboardbegleitung ein. Neu! und frühe Kraftwerk grüßen also mit einem freundlichen “Hallogallo!” von der “Autobahn”, während aus dem Autoradio die “Kometenmelodie” ertönt, womit auch der etwas skurrile Songtitel hinreichend erklärt wäre. Nach knapp sechs Minuten ist auch diese Fahrt an ihrem Ende angelangt. Das abschließende “Highlands Of Orick” ist dann noch einmal in härteren Gefilden angesiedelt. Im Vergleich zum Opener fällt die Bandleistung hier allerdings konzentrierter und weniger egozentrisch aus und macht, wie man so sagt, ordentlich Dampf. Klanglich gibt’s also Remineszenzen an die härtere Seite der 70er, womit die brutaleren Stücke (und ich meine auch: brutaler) von Alben wie “Black Sabbath” oder “In The Court Of The Crimson King” gemeint sind. Ein bisschen lässt mich der Umgang mit den offenkundigen Vorbildern hier an so verschiedene Kapellen wie den Acid Mothers Temple oder die Flying Luttenbachers denken. Ähnlich gekonnt machen es Titan ja sowieso.

Was sich hingegen an “Pacific Living” kritisieren lässt, ist vor allem der Sound. Der mag zwar durch die Art und Weise der Produktion bedingt sein, klingt als ganzes aber dennoch recht dumpf und mittenlastig. Möglich ist auch, dass sich Gitarrist Josh Anzano und Keyboarder Kris D’Agostino einfach für zu ungünstige Sounds ihrer elektrisch verstärkten Instrumente entschieden haben. Ähnlich markant und schneidend auf der einen und zugleich schwer und erdrückend auf der anderen Seite, wie es vergleichbare Produktionen ähnlicher Bands sind, etwa die beiden auf unseren Seiten hier schon besprochenen Alben von Tarantula Hawk, ist “Pacific Living” leider nicht. Ein wenig schade drum, viele der guten Ideen würde ich schon gerne in einem etwas ausgearbeiteten Sound noch mal hören.

Als Fazit stelle ich aber fest, dass Titan mit “Pacific Living” durchaus Spaß machen können. Die Remineszenzen an die im Text genannten 70er-Helden wirken jederzeit überzeugend, die Stücke sind in keinem Abschnitt zu lang geraten und wissen für sich genommen zu beeindrucken, ohne dass der Einfluss der Vorbilder zur direkten Kopie führen würde, wie dies bei den momentan so angesagten Retro-Bands oftmals der Fall ist. Eine runde Sache also, die allerdings durch den genannten dumpfen Sound etwas getrübt wird.

Abschließend noch der Hinweis, dass die Aufnahmen zu diesem Album auch schon drei Jahre auf dem Buckel haben. In der Zwischenzeit haben Titan mit den neuerdings experimentelleren Klängen zugewandten Relapse Records auch schon ein verhältnismäßig großes Label im Rücken und dort letztes Jahr das Album “Sweet Dreams” veröffentlicht. Da sollte sich das Reinhören auch lohnen. Und ein letzter Hinweis noch: Wer “Pacific Living” hören will, sollte sich sputen, Who Can You Trust haben die MC auf satte 150 Stück limitiert.


 

THE COSMIC DEAD – s/t MC

* Review by: Collective Zine, UK
First things first. This has been sitting on my shelf for about three months because although I have continued to receive mail from Andy Mal, I have been way too busy with other things to get around to listening to it. However, a few minutes ago I was watching a man dressed only in his pants punch the hell out of someone else on the YNC and I thought maybe it was about time I reconnected with the Collective, so I picked up the pile of CDs and put this one on.

Second things, second. This album is about as far away from the Spermbirds CD I reviewed last year as it’s possible to get. Spermbirds were a group of forty-five year old men who for reasons known only to themselves had taken six years to record an album which sounded twelve years out of date. I should probably be careful about saying unkind things about Spermbirds though, as last time, a young man with sunglasses on commented that “I must have liked lemons very much as I was so bitter.” It’s tough to recover from a remark like that.

“The Black Rabbit,” the first song on this CD, comprises an astonishing nineteen minute soundtrack to the coming apocalypse, with massive, rolling drums and swirling, distorted guitars. If you have ever been to Tate Britain and stood before John Martin’s “The Great Day of His Wrath” you will have seen the pictorial equivalent of this song as the sky turns the colour of a dying fire and mountains are ripped from the earth and fly through the air in front of you.

On the original vinyl pressing of CAN’s “Monster Movie,” on top of a black and red close up of what looks like a painting by Bosch, the words “made in a castle with better equipment” are printed. This music sounds like it was recorded in the biggest castle ever built by the people of Brobdingnag using instruments fashioned from black holes and giant redwood trees. If you gave a CD of this music to that shitheel from U2 he would probably piss himself before crying all the water out of his body so he ended up looking like an empty carrier bag.

As the record progresses, it sounds less like the end of the world and more like the end of all worlds. Yes, that’s right, you should probably get down to Sainsbury’s quite soon and redeem every last one of your Nectar points as the sky is caving in and by tomorrow, all that’s going to be left of civilization is a lone, backward child holding aloft a copy of a Spermbirds CD and grunting unintelligibly, before bringing it down with a heavy thud upon a large pile of other Spermbirds CDs. Then Stanley will say “cut” and we’ll all have to move into Amon Duul’s tool shed to think about how we’re going to deal with things now.

One of the songs on here is forty minutes long. Forty fucking minutes. It’s called “Father Sky, Mother Earth” and just goes on and on and on and on, but it’s okay that it goes on and on and on and on because it sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before and I’ve no idea at all where it’s ending up. There’s still 3:26 left of this song and I find myself almost unable to order my thoughts as I’m so overcome by how incredible an experience it has been to listen to this record. I haven’t felt like this since I went to see Godspeed last December at the Troxy and stared at the pattern on the carpet for so long it started moving around; it was like I’d been hit by one of those poisoned darts from Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear. “Eh-Tar Holmes, Eh-Tar.”

You can download this album from The Cosmic Dead website for only £5.50 and if you do nothing else of worth today, I strongly urge you to do this. What the hell can you buy for £5.50 these days anyway? I went to the Costcutter round the corner yesterday and paid £6.78 for two oranges, a loaf of bread, a Crunchie, a Double Decker and a tin of soup. I don’t usually eat like this you understand but I accidentally drank some curdled milk last Thursday and I haven’t felt correct since.

This is, without question, hands down the best thing I have ever been sent by Collective and if any members of The Cosmic Dead are reading this, I sincerely hope you come to London soon so me and everyone I know can experience what it’s like to see you live. In fact, you could probably stay at my house if you needed to as I don’t think the Glasgow branch of the Northern Line stays open much past midnight.

* Review by: Psychotropic Zone, Finland
The Cosmic Dead is a new, amazing, experimental and cosmic psych/space/kraut/drone rock collective from Glasgow, Scotland. These guys have been playing together actively since early 2010 and their first actual album was released on tape in May. This really mind-blowing tape has four tracks and is 80 minutes long, so be prepared for long, trippy jams…

”The Black Rabbit” begins with three minutes of drone and then the hypnotic, mid-tempo rhythm section and psychedelic, fuzz-filled, endless guitar soloing join in. Later on the going gets into rather powerfully spacing out spheres, excellent! I’m sure this will please everyone who’s been recently turned on to for example Hills, Gnod, White Hills, Wooden Shjips etc. The shorter ”Spice Melange Spectrum” is a slower, distorted and heavy jam that gets close to stoner rock and even doom, but you still can get cosmic vibes out of that one too. ”Infinite Death of the Godhead” trusts on motorik kraut rock beat and the band gradually builds psychedelic soundscapes on top of that. The atmosphere grows and just gets headier… The track also includes some hallucinatory, effected human voice used as an instrument. Perhaps the most killer piece can be found on the side B: the 40-minute-long ”Father Sky, Mother Earth” is a pure mind-melting psychedelia orgy! First we hear just some space noises, but soon the rhythm section is added in a laid-back mode and the guitar player is also warming up carefully. After the 10-minute-marker they blast on with loud volume and explode your head! At times they chill out a bit more but this jam still is mainly rather heavy and primeval stuff that will hit you in the face. The atmosphere is pretty wild, but the track still doesn’t turn into Acid Mothers Temple styled, mindless guitar noise freak-out, for example. Towards the end the drums get into faster beat that enhances the climax in a great way. The Cosmic Dead is absolutely a band to keep an eye on. I really hope they will release some more stuff soon, preferably on vinyl format. You should also check out their free digital Psychonaut album on their Bandcamp site including early rehearsal jams. What a great band!

* Review by: Phantom Channel
The Cosmic Dead are four psychedelic warlords from Glasgow with a penchant for trippy, long-form grooves that summon the spirit of Komische legends such as Neu! and Can and the Space-Prog oscillations of Hawkwind, amongst other trance-inducing influences. This results in an 80 minute long debut record, released on cassette, containing four slabs of epic, sonic heaven, complete with pulsating waves of drone, acid-soaked guitar fireworks, fleeting vocal glimpses and throbbing, motorik percussion — all underpinned by an earthy, low-end bass rumble, of course.

The best thing to do here is turn your stereo up full blast and go with the flow, allowing these colossal waves to wash over you. ’The Slow Death of the Infinite Godhead’ is the best track, impressing especially when the band hits (interstellar) overdrive, unleashing massive, tumbling ‘audio generator’ sounds that feel like they’re going to swallow you up. Opening gambit, ‘The Black Rabbit’, meanwhile, may seem indulgent given its near 20 minute lifespan but remains enjoyable throughout with its furious, liquid riffs complimenting the bass and synth drone, allowing the juggernaut drums to take centre stage around the instrumental meanderings.

‘Father Sky, Mother Earth’, at 40 minutes long, takes up the whole of Side B, starting sedately and mantra-like, before this young quartet erupt in an intense fashion, hammering home the notion that, like their live show, they’re at their best when they’ve got the pedal to the metal and the controls set for the heart of the sun. Julian Cope would love these guys.

* Review by: Tree-In-The-Woods-Core
Of course, it’s been difficult for the Glasgow-based jazz sextet to get anything meaningful done lately on account of their unsettling obsession with lists. This release mainly focuses on the adjectives you could use to describe frontman Desmond Prince’s beard. The narrators tear-choked tones are reminiscent of their six-disc epic ‘Mwraaaaaaagkxr (oh.)’, an exhaustive recitation of all the reasons why pot-smoking freeloaders can pretty much sleep with whoever they want to. IT’S A BIT LIKE THAT BIT IN ULYSSES. SHUT UP JIMMY. Useless.

It’s been six years since Glasgow was flattened by the event and I for one don’t think we as a species have it in us to name everything. Bass sax player and ‘activist’ Desmond Prince disagrees – “We are going to use these records to make a machine capable of recalling every mistake the human race has ever made”. I don’t think Desmond Prince should be allowed to get away with making such grandiose statements. The Cosmic Dead are clearly a dangerously insane group of individuals who I would like to see sectioned.

I have not listened to this record. I am going to give it an I for Inexorable. The Cosmic Dead will be playing a secret gig this Wednesday on the moon. Don’t go. You will not be able to breathe.

* Review by: Cowsarejustfood
remember monster magnet – specially tab (mibbe spine of god) era – when those longhairs were still tripping, teasing out mad strands of heavy metal chunter and swirls of silvery ectojazm from narcotic brains. before wyndorf ditched the shrooms, strapped on his shiny leather pants and turned into the fucking scorpions, into some hard-rock cypher. remember those thirty long and damaged minutes of tab, one riff forever teetering at the edge of oblivion. more pedals and effex jiggerypokery than you could shake a lysergic dipped stick at. the sound of blue oyster cult’s brains leaking out of a stylus onto vinyl left corroding in the detroit rain.

remember?

same kinda shit getting peddled here. a barrage of drawn out monochording, descending psych scales and kraut rattle. bleeding with hum and wah, fuzzy fuzz, the inexorable march of deathdrums. and the language: cosmic dead, psychonaut, black rabbit, slow death of the infinite godhead. couldn’t be any more in the thrall of that whole sabbath, hawkwind, acid mothers, amon duul spaceblooze head-worshipping freakery if the cassette box also doubled as a bong and an electric jug. washes of fizzing strings, feeding back, delayed, distorted, phased. percussion that just poundsandpoundsandpounds.

unlike say acid mothers temple or aforementioned tab which seem to lurch along, barely containing their own demented momentum, there’s more a sense of motorik control with the cosmic dead. spacial exploration rather than the psychiatric breakdown. cologne rather than altamont. first track’s twenty minutes long. last track’s forty. for the attention deficit there’s a thirteen and six and a half minute number in between. there’s no hipster arched eyebrow here, no faux-intellectual exploration of unfashionable musical tropes. this is just one monstrous monged jam after another monstrous monged jam.

it’s out on who can you trust? who’ve also put out tapes by sylvester anfang ii and gnod so you know the company these fuckers keep. and that cover’s fucking beautiful.


 

WHITE HILLS – Live on WFMU MC

* Review by: Psychotropic Zone, Finland
White Hills from New York is absolutely one of my favorite bands at the moment and their hard, wild and mind-blowing psychedelic space rock also works out perfectly live. The band has done some radio sessions and this limited edition tape includes their two performances for WFMU. In addition to Dave W (vocals, guitar) and Ego Sensation (bass, vocals) the drummer on A-side is Lee Hinshaw and on B-side Bob Bellomo and they both do an excellent job.

On A-side we’ve got four tracks from May last year. The hit song “Dead” that was first released on a 12” and then on the totally amazing S/T album instantly makes you gasp for air with its energetic and hypnotic fuzz attack. This version is shorter than the studio edits and the band goes straight into the excellent “Three Quarters”, another piece from the latest album. The playing is very fluent and mood high up in the sky! Especially Dave’s guitar solo makes the synapses crack… Then it’s time for an extended, superb version of a song called “Oceans of Sound” that has a punky stoner rock feel. The original version can be found on the Heads on Fire album. Finally we get to hear an under-ten-minute (meaning condensed!) version of “I Will Find Peace of Mind” that is here called just “Peace of Mind”. The original number was put out on the split album with The Heads, and just like on the studio version, there’s plenty of wild solo guitar work by Dave, phew! After that there is also a pretty short interview that was included on the original radio show and is not mentioned on the cover. Very interesting stuff!

On the other side there are also four songs from a 2007 session. Evan “Funk” Davies makes a short introduction and the “Radiate” from Heads on Fire explodes your consciousness. Ego’s backing vocals are also clearly audible which is great. Then comes the long, heavy, psychedelic, spaced-out and slow ”Love Serve Remember” that is familiar to those who own the Glitter Glamour Atrocity album. When will we get a vinyl version of that!?!? Brilliant stuff also including some narration from backing tapes. Also originating from that same album is the shorter ”Under Skin Or By Name” and its spacey synth intro must also be coming from some backing tapes. This is another killer track but the Heads on Fire’s epic”Don’t Be Afraid” still is my favorite, although we now hear “only” a 17-minute-version of it. The track starts moving in a slow and ultra-hypnotic manner and the atmosphere is very dark and heady. In the middle they go for a more small-scale but not any less hallucinatory expression. Then they get heavy and powerful again and everybody is lured into a deep trance. This is heavy shit, and I don’t know what would happen if you listen to this during a bad trip although the message in itself is soothing! Totally amazing. Also this side ends with a short interview. This tape is a great addition to a White Hills fan’s collection but there are only 150 copies in existence so please be fast!

* Review by: Scott Heller (http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.com/)
This is the latest new (old) release by White Hills. It is two radio shows recorded on WFMU, NY. The A side is recorded on May 4th, 2010 and side B of the cassette is from April 10th 2007. Both have fantastic sound and the A side is mostly material from DEAD and really heavy guitar space rock stuff with lots of effects. Super cool stuff. Side B is way more spaced out and exploring. The highlight is the 17 min version of Don’t be Afraid. There is a really nice interview with the band at the end of the side A of the tape. Only 150 copies made of this release. Cool stuff..

* Review by: Aquarius Records, San Francisco
Two live sets, both recorded at New Jersey radio station WFMU, one last year, one back in 2007, from longtime aQ faves, psychedelic space rockers White Hills. Both sets offer up variations of exactly what we’ve come to expect from these guys (and gal). Blown out distortion drenched Hawkwind via Stooges soar and stomp, the guitars swirling in thick druggy clouds, the riffs crunchy and wreathed in effects, the vocals buried in the mix, the drums propulsive and hard hitting, the sounds all blurred and gauzy, smeared into long sprawls of buzzing, smoldering spaced out heaviness, the more recent set definitely leans towards the heavier side of the spectrum, while the 2007 set gets way more abstract and drifty, melding chug and churn riffiness (bordering on psychedelic doom in places), with something much more shimmery and dreamily psychedelic. Needless to say, for WH fans, this is of course essential. And definitely recommended for the usual folks, fans of the Heads, Hawkwind, Wooden Shjips, Monster Magnet and the rest of the psych/space rock brigade…


 

NO BALLS – Less LP

* Review by: Maximum Rock’n’Roll
Can I make up a sub-genre? Is that cool? Proto-psych-post-punk. But also very heavy… “Heavy” doesn’t start with a P so I thought it might fukk up the alliteration if I threw that in there. These are chaotic sounds from BRAINBOMBS and TOTALITÄR personnel in Sweden, and this record is total mindfuck that lands much closer to the BRAINBOMBS camp (definitely falls in to the “if you like that then you’ll love this” category). The guitars are positively assaulted on every track, and the result is a filthy, glorious fukkn mess that perhaps ventures into the forbidden zone known as “art”, but doing so with such a brazen disregard for the potential musical fallout that I can’t help but love them for it. Deliberate, dirty and downright delicious.

* Review by: The Stranger, Seattle
I always wanted to like the long-running (since the late 80’s!) Swedish noise group Brainbombs, but just couldn’t commit. I dug the music just fine — one brutal, primitive Stooges riff after another beat down into the ground for four minutes at a clip — but just couldn’t hang with the lyrics. I suppose that makes me a pussy. Okay. Fine. I’m a pussy. I just don’t dig on child rape or corpse desecration. Sorry, dudes. This shit would make Chris Barnes and Bushwick Bill wanna hug it out. The vocal delivery just made it worse: bored monotone Eurotrash reading Peter Sotos out loud. Huh. No. That really doesn’t sound like a good time. Neat riffs, though.

In a television interview towards the end of the Brainbombs’ career, principal member Dan Råberg admitted that their lyrics were just a joke to rile uptight American record collectors. It worked. I mean, I can’t really sing “Anne Frank” to myself while waiting for the bus. I would probably be arrested. They’re like the Michael Haneke of garage-rock. Or maybe Fred Vogel or something.

Råberg and fellow member Drajan Bryngelsson broke up Brainbombs last year, and formed No Balls, which pretty much sound like Brainbombs, only with sparse, wordless vocals. The misanthropy is more than compensated for as the riffs are thicker, more threatening, and more focused. I can’t say that this makes No Balls more accessible; it’s still nasty, brutish music. I just feel less guilty for listening to it. The two (!) LPs No Balls have released this year are even more fierce and sonically fucked than most of Brainbombs’ work, and have been released in even smaller collector-scum quantities. So, no. Not a sell-out attempt.

Either they read my mind and threw out the vocals and lyrics in an attempt to get me to dig them, or they got bored with bumming out us uptight ‘Mericans and came to the conclusion that the shock-value lyrics were getting in the way of the riffs. The latter is probably more accurate, but I’m going to run with the former as it makes me feel more special. What vocals do remain recall Mike Kunka’s miked-below-everything distorto-howling during his tenure in godheadSilo and function as another harmonic texture that complements rather than overpowers the rest of the music.

No Balls do not display a lot of variety in song structure, but it works to their advantage. By having very little truck with conventional pop forms, the songs function more as a collection of of incidental music from an imagined giallo movie where Goblin were too sick to come to the studio, so Argento recruited a scuzzy punk band to come to the studio instead. Or maybe Abel Ferrara should have shit-canned that false-ass new wave band in Driller Killer and gone into the future to recruit No Balls.

The song lengths hover right around 2:30; long enough for each song’s lone riff to get under your skin without making you throw the dishes you’re washing across the room. Less, the second No Balls LP of this year, opens with a slow, loping stoner-metal riff that wouldn’t be too out of place on a Boris record, punctuated with random screams and My War atonal leads laid over the top of it, slowly deteriorating into feedback over the course of three minutes. Several of the fourteen tracks are uptempo and some of the riffs are even playful: “One More And Then Again,” recalls Rocket From The Crypt’s “Return Of The Liar,” but with 78 percent more syphilis. “Prove Everything Every Day” sounds like the Unnatural Helpers reverberating from a broken record player in the depths of a massive K-Hole. Other reference points may or may not include Old Time Relijun at their most caustic, The Intelligence at their most out-there, Jandek at his most mean, and Black Flag at their most self-flagellating.

So maybe you’re like me, and Brainbombs’ lyrics formed a barrier that prevented you from enjoying the band. Or perhaps you’re just a dude who digs Pissed Jeans but wish that they were as mean and threatening as their press makes them out to be (let’s face it: the Jeans are a great band, but they’re almost as cute as Vampire Weekend) and wanna listen to some garage noise that is really unsettling, then Less, or No Balls’ previous LP Come Clean just might be your jam. Recommended.

* Review by: Norman Records UK
Dirgey repeato riff rock with a loose punky edge is always gonna make this office swing. No Balls have a similar nihilistic outlook to Shit & Shine, their new album is a bit slacker & rawer than the ‘Come Clean’ record but by side two you’re truly sucked into that wonderful vortex of cyclic scuzz rifferama, flailing drums & general ecstatic dirge. I was thinking I could hear a sort of new wave garage essence in there – like I say, the last one was a bit more relentless & derangedly repetitive, this one has a more feral & loose attitude with feedbacking shards splintering your ears & slurred, garbled lyrics buried underneath the psychotic punk melee. This band are hot shit & contrary to their name, they have HUGE balls. Ironic eh?….

* Review by: Permanent Records, Chicago
We released No Balls debut LP “Come Clean” domestically earlier this year. It sold out almost instantaneously. This Brainbombs-related group self-released a single just a couple months ago and now they’re on to their second LP. Obviously, No Balls is a much more prolific outlet for Drajan than Brainbombs is. The basic concept is the same here. Pummeling, repetitive, riffage. “Less” is a bit more nuanced and slightly, but only slightly, less noisy than it’s predecessor, but it’s still heavier than dark matter and more intense than campers. Get it? That’s the beauty of this record, you don’t have to get it. There’s nothing to “get”. It lays it all out there for you and it makes itself very available. Slutty is one way to describe it. Raunchy is another. Not as raunchy as Brainbombs though, as it contains very few discernable lyrics, though it’s not technically instrumental through and through. “What The Fuck Have You Done” has some vocals. So does “List”. If I were a stripper, I’d shake my money maker to “List”. I bet I’d get mad tips, too, hypnotizing people with the repetition and making it rain. Hard. Yet another good adjective to describe “Less”. Rock hard. One could also say “Less” is more, more than you bargained for. Need more descriptive words? How about these? Genius and Brutality / Taste and Power. Yeah. Please get this record before it goes out-of-print. It’s limited to 650 copies and we may not be able to reissue this one domestically before the year is out, or at all. Regardless, you can count on finding it near the top of our favorites of Oh-Ten.

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