Live in the Mojave Desert – Album Review

Various Artists – Live in the Mojave Desert

Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Release date: Various

Running time: Various

Review by: Alun Jones

Rating: see below

Hello there!  Remember me?  It’s me, that bloke who occasionally reviews albums for Ever Metal and spins ropey old yarns about rock’n’roll.  Yeah, him.  Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, had a few things on my all-you-can-eat buffet plate recently.  More about that another time (if the lawyers allow me).  For now, recline in your favourite easy chair, and let’s review.  With me?  Good.

Right then, bit of a mammoth task, this one.  “Live in the Mojave Desert” is actually a series of five albums, each recorded live (of course) amongst the sand and rocks of the Californian desert.  It’s probably like Star Trek, when Kirk and crew are roaming around the cliffs and valleys – but in the dark, and with guitars and lights and stuff – and no one dies (hopefully).

Up first in my sequence of albums is the legendary Earthless, a band who should need no introduction.  I listened to their offering whilst on a trip to North Wales; sadly the surf was flat, but the sonic musings of this three piece fitted perfectly the rolling roads between green valleys and big skies.  In the land of druids and standing stones, witches and warriors, this was a perfect soundtrack.  The songs are a journey in themselves, awash with psychedelic Hendrix style explorations.  Only three songs, but they’re plenty lengthy and offer huge scope.  It’s actually quite beautiful. (9/10)

Next on the list was Mountain Tamer, a band I’m not familiar with previously, but a cool name.  And a cool name goes a long way with me.   The Mountain Tamer sound is raw and in-your-face, with mighty, meaty riffs that clunk around in full-on doom style.  There’s also a mind expanding, trippy element to their music, leaving me with the impression of Black Flag in a collision with Hawkwind.  This unique approach is best exemplified by stand out tracks “Black Noise” and “Scorched Earth”, but it’s all damn fine. (8/10)

An offering in this series from my old buddies Nebula was very welcome, their brand of psych drenched sci-fi hard rock being something I’m somewhat partial to.  This is the album with the most obviously “live” feel – not that it’s sloppy at all, the very occasional tiny imperfections and wall of fuzz give a genuine and celebratory vibe.  Opening track “To the Centre” is a feedback drenched, blistering explosion.  “Giant” is another standout track with a bouncing, crazy gonzo riff. (8/10)

Spirit Mother are another band I’ve not heard before, and they were a real surprise.  Their first song, “Tonic (Exodus Inc)” is straight off the soundtrack of some forgotten Italian/Turkish 1970s horror movie.  The band take the standard desert/doom rock and add violin, and everything veers off in a totally unexpected direction.  From mournful 70s rock on “Ether” to creating their own genre of gothic Spaghetti Western (“Dead Cells”), it’s like Morricone on peyote orchestrating The Exorcist.  Strangely beguiling. (8.5/10)

The album I listened to last in the collection was the debut release of STÖNER, the very aptly named stoner rock “supergroup” which features Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu, solo etc) and Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, QOTSA, Mondo Generator etc etc).  With Brant’s drummer, Ryan Güt whacking the tubs.  As a fan of these rogues’ other bands, I was definitely curious about this release.  No fear here: this is exactly what I hoped it would be: desert rock royalty.  “Rad is Rad” features a relentless, rolling bassline that drags the listener along on a head-nodding journey whilst Brant croons in his laid-back manner.  The big, groovy bass continues in “The Older Kids”, and the tracks develop a trancelike vibe as it progresses.  And strap yourself in for the final song, “Tribe/Fly Girl” – over 13 minutes that will melt your eyeballs.  Definitive. (9/10)

That’s it: five albums, five bands, and a mind-blowing excursion into the remote desert valleys.  Whether showcasing how it should be done, or abducting the listener in a smoke-filled UFO to be probed in new realms, these live collections are a trip.

Here’s a ton of links! Click away for more info on this awesome music…

Start with Heavy Psych Sounds, they have a website, Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

Earthless do the web thing here, with some Facebook and Twitter.

Mountain Tamer kick in the sky with Facebook and Bandcamp.

Go crazy with Nebula via Facebook.

Spirit Mother have you covered with some weberation, Facebook, Bandcamp and Insta.

Finally, have a look at Stoner’s web presence here and Facebook it too.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf Album Review

And now, I present an album review I wrote for Ever Metal; a recording that became one of my favourites of 2019:

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf

Self Released

Release date: 09/04/2019

Running Time: 36 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

 

I’ve never been to Australia.  Don’t need to go there really, I know exactly what it’s like.  It’s like that David Bowie video where he’s inside a big concrete block in the middle of nowhere.  “Let’s Dance” – that’s the one.  Or it’s like Mad Max 2: all arid desert, people surviving on dog food and a struggle to exist without civilisation.

So, it’s quite apt that such a barren, isolated place has decided to gift us with an album that is, quite frankly, a masterpiece of desert rock.  Or outback rock, if you will.

This is “Giant Dwarf”, by the band Giant Dwarf, who hail from somewhere called Perth in Western Australia.

Right from the start, with opener “Golden Walrus”, the album bursts from the speakers like Gandalf after a month-long Charles Atlas course.  The songs are tough and uncompromising, yet cerebral.  “Black Thumb” and “Kepler” in particular will make you put your foot down on the accelerator and bang your head – whilst absorbing the intricate tapestry of the universe.

It’s all pounding rhythms and hypnotic, repeating riffs.  On first encounter, the album seems very – shall we say, inspired by – Kyuss and the first Queens of the Stone Age album.  Aaron Soppo (vocals) can even do a pretty convincing Josh Homme impersonation.  Which is no bad thing, in my book – in fact, it’s a sure fired recipe for success.

Further investigation reveals far more than this obvious comparison, however.  As well as a more fuzzed-up guitar sound – not unlike a particularly fried Fu Manchu – there’s a trippy, psychedelic sheen to the muscular groove.  There’s even sitar and didgeridoo on here, in wave after wave of glorious chunky riff and rolling beats.

“The Deluge” illustrates this breadth of feeling with a six minute plus track that undulates between exuberant rocker and introspective meander in just one epic song.

If I have one small criticism, I’d like to hear a track like “Strange Wool” – a mind melting instrumental track that’s quite brilliant – dragged out to three times it’s two-minute length.  Even more development and experimentation would really push Giant Dwarf further into a new dimension.  But keep the edge-of-the-seat rockers too, OK guys?

“Giant Dwarf” comes within a koala’s cock of perfection.  Powerful like the venom of a Death Adder, yet enticing like Natalie Imbruglia.  It really is that good: from out of nowhere, an album that will surely be in my end of year Top Five.

Find Giant Dwarf on Facebook and on Bandcamp.

Check Giant Dwarf out on Spotify here.

There’s some cool stuff on YouTube here and here, too.

PS: apologies for the dig at Australia, it’s just a joke.  I’m sure it’s nice there really.

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit Album Review

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit

Self released, Dewar PR

Release Date: 17/08/2018

Running Time: 51 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

“Have a listen to Spacetrucker!  I think you’ll like them,” came the recommendation from Rick at Ever Metal HQ.  So I did.  And he was right – the “Smooth Orbit” album is one of the most exciting listens I’ve had for a long, long time.

These psychedelic space monkeys have created a superb stoner rock classic that’s right up my space lane.   Throw in some fuzzy grunge and classic rock and Spacetrucker have achieved the almost impossible: put a huge, acid-warped grin on my ancient, grumbly mug.

First track “Sample of a Sample” warms the jets up nicely for take-off with a trippy lead and some bongos.  Yes, bongos!  Past the two-minute mark it erupts into a face-melter of a riff that had my cranium nodding like an Easter Island statue after some herbal refreshment.

Mike Owen (guitar/vocals), Rob Wagoner (bass/vocals) and Del Toro (drums) seem to be able to magically conjure up the grooves with uncanny ease.  “Meat Wagon” is another brilliant track with a pulsating, infectious riff.

In true lazy journo style (hey, I’ve had a few), Spacetrucker combine the stoner slouch of Fu Manchu and early QOTSA with classic Sabbath and Purple, mixing in some Mudhoney and Melvins fuzzy sludge on the way.  Perfect, in other words.  If any of those bands get your hyper drive firing, this is for you.

There are some Iommi-esque shorter numbers and experimental sounds that add a further dimension to the proceedings, constantly keeping the listener on their toes.  “Vanishing Point, Science of Us” has an almost Nirvana Unplugged vibe before bursting into a crushing rocker.  This is followed by another monster riff with “Pulling Teeth”.

Plus the final track, “Lost in the Sauce”, is over ten minutes long!  An extended jam floats in and builds beautifully, never rushing but enticing the listener along on every step.

This might not be the most critical review I’ve composed, but I don’t care.  “Smooth Orbit” is a triumph of an album and I love it.  The only reason it didn’t get ten out of ten is it needs more references to skateboards and 1970s muscle cars.  Other than that, I need a vinyl version, please.

If any of the above references to sub-genre labels and other bands resonates with you, I urge you do a Boba Fett and track this album down now.

All of this “space trucking” talk reminds me my days working with Deep Purple back in the early seventies.  I was working as the band’s roadie/driver when one time, in the middle of the night in the Arizona desert, we got a flat.  I left the Purps partying in the back whilst I went out in to the freezing, dusty highway to change the tire.  I was distracted for a moment, and I swear bling that I saw several lights zipping about in the sky at unbelievable speeds.  “UFOs!” I thought.

I rushed back onto the bus and dragged the band out to take look (all except Roger Glover, who was busy knitting).  Except when we got outside, the lights had vanished.  The Purps weren’t amused and blamed it on me overindulging in peyote.  Gillan was very gentlemanly about it all and even gave me a hand with the tyre.  Blackmore had a tantrum about the delay and docked me a day’s pay.  The bastard.

 

This review appeared on the Ever Metal website and is reproduced here for your enjoyment.  Click here to visit the Ever Metal website.

Songs of the Week 17.07.2016

This weeks “louder then the rest” tunes:

  1. Fishbone – Change
  2. House of Pain – Jump Around
  3. Wolfmother – California Queen
  4. Queens of the Stone Age – The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret
  5. Dr. John – Jump Sturdy

The Return of the Random Bike Ride Playlist

It’s back!  Yesterday  I went for a bike ride, the first of the year.  The weather was good and I was ready to roll.  For old times sake, I decided to hit “shuffle” and let Ipodicus decide what the soundtrack to the morning’s adventure would be.

Just over ten miles.  Not bad.

  1. Smashing Pumpkins – “Real Love”
  2. Jello Biafra & The Melvins – “Those Dumb Punk Kids (Will Buy Anything)”
  3. Queens of the Stone Age – “Quick & to the Pointless”
  4. Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”
  5. Bob Marley – “You Can’t Do That to Me”
  6. Blondie – “Contact on Red Square”
  7. David Bowie – “Little Wonder”
  8. Lieutenant Pigeon – “Mouldy Old Dough”
  9. Hector Martignon – “Colombaiao”
  10. Therapy? – “Stay Happy”
  11. Viking Skull – “Double or Quits”
  12. Samantha Fox – “I Only Wanna Be With You”
  13. A Tribe Called Quest – “If The Papes Come”
  14. The Melvins – “In the Army Now”
  15. Bad Brains – “Jam”
  16. Orange Goblin – “Lothlorian”
  17. Muddy Waters – “I Want to Be Loved”
  18. 2Pac ft. Anthony Hamilton – “Thugz Mansion”
  19. The Who – “Please, Please, Please”
  20. Jello Biafra & The Melvins – “Enchanted Thoughtfist (Enchanted Al Remix)”
  21. Neil Young & Pearl Jam – “Downtown”
  22. Roni Size – “Trust Me”
  23. Tiny Masters of Today – “Hologram World”

This particular playlist reminded me just how great the Jello Biafra and The Melvins collaborations are.  I haven’t listened to them for a while, so cranked ’em today.

New Year – New Playlist: Part 2

Remember the alphabetical musical playlist game?  Part One was posted a few weeks back, here’s Part Two.

The idea was to take turns playing a song from my iTunes collection, in alphabetical order by artist.  You can read the first instalment here.

Below is the next session, N to U.  The final few are still to be chosen…

  • Al: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “Straight to You”
  • Ness: Nirvana – “Heart Shaped Box”
  • Al: Ozzy Osbourne – “No More Tears”
  • Ness: The Offspring – “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)”
  • Al: Public Enemy – “Harder Than You Think”
  • Ness: Pearl Jam – “Alive”
  • Al: Queens of the Stone Age – “Make It Wit Chu”
  • Ness: Queen – “Who Wants to Live Forever”
  • Al: Ramones – “I Believe in Miracles”
  • Ness: R.E.M. – “Nightswimming”
  • Al: Senseless Things – “Homophobic Asshole”
  • Ness: System of a Down – “Chop Suey!”
  • Al: Turbonegro – “The Age of Pamparius”
  • Ness: Tenacious D – “Tribute”
  • Al: Urge Overkill – “Jaywalkin'”
  • Ness: U2 – “One”

So I know it’s not New Year any more, but this list needs finishing off.  Final part soon…