Sunday, 22 April 2018

US AS CARAVAN ~ BUILT ...... review


Those brave few who first began experimenting with hallucinogenic substances like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and certain strains of wild mushrooms in the mid to late 60's may not have been aware at the time the effects their use would have on popular culture, especially when it came to music. With their minds expanded musicians started transposing their visual and auditory experiences into the sounds they were making, creating soundscapes with their music that had a certain freedom and an almost an almost transcendental quality. The reverberations from those early days of lysergic experimentation and musical exploration still abide to this day and nevermore so than in the music of today's underground rock scene where the word psychedelic may have been abbreviated to "psych" but is still as out there and experimental as the day it first came on to our radar.
One band embracing that spirit of musical adventure and bringing it up to date for a new generation are Chicago's Us As Caravan a three piece band who blend shoegaze(ish) texturing and  lysergic colourings with fuzz drenched riffage and thunderous rhythms, something that can be heard on their stunning new debut "Built".


As any vinyl/CD buying, or even digital buying, music fan will tell you, sometimes an albums artwork can tell you more about the music inside than a thousand words will and the startling yet simple water colour and crayon painting that adorns "Built" tells you to expect something a little different, a little off-kilter and fresh.
Things start off well straight from the off, a warm liquid bass motif, accompanied by gradually increasing fuzz and feedback, introduces first track "Wave Goodbye", the song then exploding  into a heavily tripped out and hazy blues groove. This however is not the sort of blues groove your gonna hear coming out of some back street blues club played by old men in well worn suits telling you how their baby done them wrong, no this is a heady, trippy blues groove driven by gnarly bass and pounding drums, coated in strong clean, slightly indie vocals then decorated with layers of dirty fuzz and crackling distortion, it is still the blues but with a twist. "Damn Sure" follows and this time the band propel us down more spacey hard rock corridors with guitarist/vocalist Alex dialling his six string settings to phased and his vocals to melodic indie. The song has a strong heavy psych vibe made stronger by drummer Luis' incessant and exemplary use of the more shimmering and crashing components of his kit and Jimmy's ever present booming, growling bass. Next up is "So Called Man" a song that sees the band running the psychedelic flag to the top of the pole and truly embracing their more lysergic leanings. Swirling and hazy with colourful fractured guitar chords vying for space with soaring solos and glistening harmonics it almost feels as though the two previous songs have been gradually leading up to this point and the band now feel ready to cut free and fly. And fly they do with next offering "Chew The Fat" a song that floats and punches in equal measure, its undulating groove visiting elements of  hard rock, spacey psych and hazy blues as it winds along it's merry but terminally stoned way. "Sunfalcon" closes "Built" with a hard driven, heavily fuzzed, phased and distorted psychedelic rocker coated in powerful hazy vocals that has a vibe that suggests the band got together and decided they wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, all guns blazing and hell for leather, something they more than achieve here.



Us As Caravan are a stunning band unafraid to go out on a limb occasionally, a band who deliver a sound that is structured yet has fluidity and freedom, a band who should be mentioned in the same sentences as similar psych/blues trailblazers All Them Witches and Youngblood Supercult, a band you should check out.....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 20 April 2018

BURIED SLEEPER ~ OBSIDIAN ..... review


It has been six years since Scotland's Buried Sleeper released their debut album "Colosseum" and six years is a long, long period in musical terms, a lot of things can happen in a bands life in that time. As we all are slowly coming to realise these days mega stardom and untold riches are no longer something attainable and band members who need to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads also need to have a job outside of their musical endeavours. Whether this is the case in why there has been such a long gap between Buried Sleeper's albums Desert Psychlist doesn't know but it is most likely that work, family and life in general have all somehow played their part. No matter though the band are back now with a new album and a slightly more expansive sound with their latest offering "Obsidian"


"Obsidian" is an album that proves true that old adage that "if something is good then it's worth waiting for", it is also an album that shows Buried Sleeper have not been sitting idle all these years just twiddling their thumbs. There is a deeper more complex feel to the four grooves that make up "Obsidian", all those things that made their debut "Colosseum" such a great listen are all still in place but there is a maturity to their sound now, a maturity reflected in not only their songs but also in their execution and arrangement. The band, Tommy Wigman (bass), Bryce Sutherland (guitar/vocals), Harry Clapham (guitar) and Dominic Hardy (drums), create huge walls of dark atmospheric groove around which they weave clean, mellow and slightly monastic harmonies,  grooves that at times veer towards crushing and heavy but are reigned in by the bands clever use of dynamics and melody, a tsunami of riffs and rhythms that bubble and boil threatening to erupt tempered by moments of simmering tranquility  Each song on "Obsidian" should be listened to as a separate entity as each has its own signature and unmistakeable dark beauty but these songs also work if you ignore the gaps between tracks and listen as if listening to one complete movement, allowing the music and vocals to wash over you in wave upon wave of dark sonic majesty.


Let's hope its not another six years before Buried Sleeper grace us with their next offering but even if that is the case we will still have "Obsidian" to turn to in the interim and that on the evidence of these four songs that is not a bad thing at all.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

SLOW GREEN THING ~ III ...... review


Dresden, Germany, the recipient of a ferocious bombing campaign by the allied forces during the Second World War, was rebuilt, reconstructed and is now a central hub for cultural and technological education with the Dresden University of Technology being one of the biggest seats of learning in the country. As seems the case with all university cities it is never long before a vibrant and enthusiastic music scene becomes established around them. Dresden is no different boasting up and coming bands like the retro sounding Wucan and the psychedelic Sir Robin and The Longbowman, the city also has a thriving heavy scene and up front and centre of that scene stand a four piece band going by he name of Slow Green Thing, a band who have already had two well received releases under their belts in 2014's "I" and 2016's "II" and have just released their third album, unsurprisingly entitled "III" (Fuzzmatazz Records)



With one foot in the hard/classic rock of the 70's/80's and the other in the swampy heaviness of today's stoner metal/doom scene Slow Green Thing, Sven (guitar/vocals), Andreas (guitar), Jorg (drums) and Martin (bass), are one of those bands once heard, never forgotten. The quartet have a distinctive groove that is very much their own, a signature sound that marries melody with crushing heaviness without over leaning in either direction, the band walking stridently and confidently a middle ground between both dynamics. On songs such as "When Habits Embrace" and "Recipe of Doom" it would be so easy for Slow Green Thing to fall in to the trap of being heavy just for heaviness sake but they avoid this by injecting into their songs a melodic air both vocally and in the structure of their musical arrangements, tempering and counterbalancing all the heaviness of their grooves with soaring psychedelic guitar solo's and clean, clear vocal melodies, allowing spaces where the music can take a breath before diving back down into doomic depths.


Slow Green Thing's "III" is an album that fluctuates between crushing and caressing in an instant, brimming over with grooves that are a mix of volatile seething riffage, mellow psychedelic meanderings and old school hard rocking bluster, all delivered with a level of musicianship that at times takes your breath away.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 15 April 2018

WITCH TRIPPER ~ I, OF THE STORM ...... review


Mansfield, England 2014 and bass player Chris "Stoff" Daughton and guitarist Richie Barlow bump into each other while out and about and get talking, the pair hit it off and decide, due to their similar musical leanings, to form a band. "Stoff " and Barlow start then to look for a drummer and finally settle on young skin beater Jimmy Collins and so Witch Tripper are born. The band soon begin a period of intense gigging which culminates in an appearance at the prestigious Bloodstock Festival thanks to them coming second in a battle of the bands type competition in their area. In this time the band also find the time to unleash their hard rocking debut album "Witch Tripper" on an unsuspecting but very grateful public. Two years later, with a slew of gigs under their belts and a growing reputation the band return to the studio, the result of which is this their second album "I, Of The Storm"


Witch Tripper, with their debut album, hit a groove that melded elements of hard rock, classic rock and metal with touches of bluesy swagger  and played it with the same sort of passion, intensity and power that Lemmy's legendary Motorhead used to attack their rock'n'roll based metal with, this time however Witch Tripper have ramped up the metallic content of their sound, eased off of those bluesy elements and in doing so have found their own sound. From the very first notes of first track "White Lines" it is fairly obvious this is a not a band who are going to be asking us to hug a tree and worry about our carbon footprints anytime soon, no this is a take no prisoners and give no quarter rocket ride of  hi-octane, foot to the floor rock'n'roll played hard, played fast and played dirty. Witch Tripper cleverly keep things tight and economical throughout, with only two songs, "I, Of The Storm" and "Roll The Dice", creeping over the five minute mark, resulting in the albums songs having a more immediate feel and in your face impact, something Desert Psychlist imagines must transfer extremely well to the live environment. Musically the band are as tight as their songs with "Stoff" and Collins laying down a thrumming whirlwind of drum and bass groove for Barlow to decorate with his strong grainy vocals and mix of metallic and bluesy guitar colourings, the three musicians combining to create a thunderous maelstrom of filthy groove that is as exciting as it is enjoyable.



Whether you've got a soft spot for old school heavy metal, a penchant for full on hard rock or a hankering for stonerized heavy blues you will find something on "I, Of The Storm" to quench your thirst and sate your appetite. To paraphrase Jagger and Richards " It's only rock'n'roll but we fucking love it"
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 14 April 2018

LORD ELLIS ~ MOUTH OF THE MAD .... review


When Humboldt County bands The Hitch, Dragged By Horses, Sake and Grimace went their separate ways various members of those bands started looking around for other projects to fill up their time and sate their need to make music, one such project took the form of a new band going by the name of Lord Ellis and saw the release in 2015 of a self-titled album. "Lord Ellis" showed a band totally in tune with each other who blended old school hard rock with elements of grunge, punk and proto-metal to create a virtual tsunami of groove that would gain them an army of new fans and followers. Forward to 2018 and the band are back, a little bit older a little bit wiser and with a new album entitled "Mouth of the Mad"


The ex The Hitch rhythm section of Steve Bohner (drums) and Roshawn Beere (bass) are the backbone of groove around which Pablo Midence (guitar/vocals) and Adam Sorter (keys) weave their magic, the rhythmic pairing coming across at times like the stoner rock equivalent of legendary reggae rhythmeisters Sly & Robbie. Bohner's on point percussion and Beere's growling, rumbling bass are the rock steady foundations on which each of "Mouth of the Mad's" ten songs are built and when Desert Psychlist says songs, we mean songs. Lord Ellis are not just a vehicle for endless riffage as there is more going on here than just refrains and rhythms, the band know how to structure their songs so as to bring the best out of them utilising things like melody and dynamics to breathe life into them. Sorter's keyboard contributions are a major ingredient in Lord Ellis' sonic attack but unlike John Lord's role in Deep Purple where Lord, with Ritchie Blackmore, was one of the main instrumental voices of the band Sorter's role is more decorative, the keyboardist supporting and complimenting the grooves rather trying to overwhelm them. This is not to say that Sorter doesn't shine, on the excellent "Hollywood" he introduces the song with a swathe of delicious wooshing organ and when given the room to execute a blistering solo mid-song he greedily grabs it with both hands and duly delivers. Midence's vocal and guitar work throughout "Mouth of the Mad" is a revelation, whether he is chopping out raucous chordal colourings or burning through the frets on a soaring solo he gives everything to the song, something that can also said about his vocal contributions. Midance's voice is distinctive and strong with a grainy edge and is a dominant force even when joined by Sorter on backing vocals and occasional harmonies, the guitarist/vocalist even managing to pull off a faultless Glenn Hughes type falsetto on the aforementioned "Hollywood".


Because of the bands use of keyboards to complete their overall sound there will probably be, as there always seems to be in these cases, those inevitable comparisons to Deep Purple being made. This in Desert Psychlist's humble opinion would be a touch unfair  as Lord Ellis are a band who with "Mouth of the Mad" are attempting to forge their own sound and groove and on the evidence of this album are making a damn good job of it!
Check 'em out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 13 April 2018

STONE DUST RIDERS ~ VOLUME 1 ....... review


I guess you could call Baltimore's Stone Dust Riders a true garage band, the trio of Sean Kearney (guitar/vocals), Dennis Barth (bass) and the oddly named Cabbage (drums), having worked out their tunes, rehearsed and jammed them from a garage they call "The Compound" in Granite , Maryland. Now the words "garage band" these days seems to conjure up visions of  The Stooges, MC5 type grooves, raw and untamed rock with a ton of feral punkish attitude but Stone Dust Riders could not be further from that description, the sound coming from their garage is an intriguing mix of 70's hard rock bluster and 90's stoner/desert grooviness all seasoned with a large pinch of bluesy swagger, still slightly raw edged but with a certain finesse. Their debut release "Volume 1" may have been born in the garage but it wants to live in the mansion.


"Volume 1" kicks into life courtesy of the WAH drenched and fuzz heavy  instrumental "November" a delightfully grainy tome driven by Cabbage's solid, tight percussion and Barth's growling bass over which Kearney lays down a grizzly circular refrain embellished with gritty lead work. "Bike Ride" follows and we are suddenly plunged into newer territory with the band hitting into a funky blues groove that if it were not for its fuzz heavy mid-section you would swear was something lifted from a (pre-Michael McDonald) Doobie Brothers session thanks to its excellent vocal melody where Kearney perfectly channels the spirit, of that bands original vocalist (Tom Johnston), in both his tone and delivery.
Throughout "Volume 1" Stone Dust Riders explore different aspects and facets of that we call the "blues" putting a jazzy spin on them on "Steve The Dolphin", tinting them in psychedelic hues on "British Desert Tent" or just rocking them out with old school heaviness and southern swagger as on "Hominey & Grits" and "42",


Be you a hippy sporting a bandana and a kaftan, a stoner in cargo shorts and band tee or a hep cat in a zoot suit and tie you can rest assured that somewhere on "Volume 1" Stone Dust Riders have your blues preferences covered
Check it out ....

© Frazer Jones 2018

Thursday, 12 April 2018

TWIN SPEAK ~ SOULSS ..... review


Desert Psychlist described Twin Speak's self titled debut album, in a short Bandcamp review blurb, as "perfect for those times when you have overdosed on heavy riffs and just want something to chill to" and "instrumental jam/stoner/desert rock that has a Colour Haze, Sungrazer, Causa Sui vibe" . Whether the band, Brandon Battles (guitar), Brett Rhymestine (guitar) and Ian Bellassai (drums), agreed with those descriptions is not known but there must have been something in those words that resonated with the Utica, New York trio as they recently contacted Desert Psychlist to point us in the direction of their latest release "Soulss"


Instrumental music can sometimes come over a touch one dimensional , lacking in the lyrical hooks and phrasing a vocalist can bring to the table, relying instead on the strength and instrumental prowess of the musicians involved. Sometimes those strengths and skills can work against a band and find them wandering into areas of self-indulgent, mindless noodling, thankfully that is not the case here. "Soulss" is not a pretty album but then nor is it an ugly one, there are moments of sheer beauty to be found throughout its forty two plus minute duration but there are also moments of discord and brutality, Twin Speak balance out these opposing aspects by not allowing one or the other ever to become the dominant force, weaving those aspects into each of their songs, sometimes in sections, sometimes cleverly interlaced together. There is also an undeniable cinematic quality to many of the grooves on "Soullss" with songs like "Black On Biscay", "Moonbathing" and "Mantras & Monsters" undulating in both mood and tempo, executed as if the band are following a film script only they can see but want you to feel.


A lot more angular and convoluted than its predecessor "Soulss" is nevertheless a stunning album that although not always easy on the ear is worth putting in the little extra effort needed to truly appreciate its, at times, breathtaking majesty.
Check it out ......

© 2018 Frazer Jones