The events of the last few months in what some might like to call ‘The West’ has left many of us pondering whether the water supply has been laced with a powerful concoction of weapons-grade LSD and Psilocybin, which has resulted in a deeply disturbing and utterly bizarre hallucinogenic trip for us all. In this trip, the British have pulled up the drawbridge, retreated into their crumbling castles and readied the hot tar, the Americans have sold their souls to a property developer with a busyness of blonde ferrets on his head, and Honey G is probably going to win X Factor. As far as psychedelic distortions are concerned, that is some seriously bad shit man.
While we continue to try and work out just what the fuck happened there then, we have been delving deep into the kaleidoscopic musical world of psych and stoner rock, for an eminently suitable, sparkling soundtrack, to act as antidote to these thoroughly grotesque times.
Below you will find an altogether fine selection of psych and stoner rock releases from this troubled year, not previously covered by the site, which will hopefully restore some of your faith in the availability of some of that good shit still. Enjoy this trip…
The Album Paranoia by Ulrika Spacek- Released 5/2/16 via Tough Love Records/Lefse Records
Review by : Rich Buley
Released all the way back in February this year, when the world was still spinning relatively soundly on its axis, was The Album Paranoia, the debut album from Ulrika Spacek, a five piece based in London. Three of the five were actually in Tripwires, an indie rock band with shoegaze tendencies, who released a couple of albums during their existence- the second as recently as May 2015.
The new band came about as a result of the song-writing collaborations of two school friends both called Rhys; Edwards and Williams, who hastily assembled the band following some extremely productive recording sessions in Berlin.
Ulrika Spacek have a fuzzier, more experimental outlook than what could be argued to be their previous incarnation, and in album highlights ‘NK’ and ‘She’s A Cult’ they crank things up really nicely, but still on the lighter, poppier side of euphoric psychedelia. Elsewhere, the languid vocals, twinkling guitars and rarefied atmosphere call to mind acts as diverse as The Byrds, Pavement and Sonic Youth. A fine, multi-faceted debut, and certainly worthy of the attention it has garnered elsewhere.
Never Enough by The Company Corvette – Released 5/8/16 via The Company Records
Review by : Jamie Jones
Philadelphia’s The Company Corvette aren’t exactly what you’d call prolific. It’s been 5 years since their last album – a shame as their bluesy/psych tinged stoner rock is progressing nicely from record to record. They may have a classic in them 30 or 40 years down the road!
Never Enough is mostly content to be filed under ‘perfectly serviceable stoner fare’ but occasionally offers something more noteworthy. The vocals on ‘Devilwitch’ sound like someone retching into a broken megaphone, giving it a feel almost as grotesque as the album art. It certainly grabs the attention, though they’re even better when they play it loose on the excellent ‘Burn Out’.
They show impressive range for a 3 piece, even affecting a detached snarl on ‘Pigeon’ that comes across like Sonic Youth featuring Wino. There’s much to enjoy about Never Enough – let’s hope their next step forward comes faster than this one.
Imaginary Sun by Uluru – Released 21/3/16 via Bandcamp
Review by : Stuart Benjamin
Clearly having been told that less is more, Turkish stoner rockers Uluru sent us this three track EP.
The first two tracks clock in at around the ten minute mark, whilst the title track is a bit over four minutes. The longer workouts of ‘Dazed Hill’ and ‘Blind Camel’ are okay, although ‘Dazed Hill’ didn’t really excite me as perhaps I was hoping it would. I rather enjoyed the laconic, Kyuss-esque stomp of ‘Blind Camel’, the band had certainly found their fire here, with some very nice Middle Eastern influenced musical sections.
‘Imaginary Sun’, has that air of crescendo that gives it the sense that it should be at the end of a longer track, but that aside, it’s rather thrilling in its own way. Turkey, of course, has always spanned that bridge between the cultures of The East and The West, Uluru with their Eastern flair and Western guitar chops carry on that great tradition. It would have been nice to have more to get one’s teeth into however. Perhaps a full album will follow.
The Firmament by Mos Generator – Released 9/9/16 via Stickman Records
Review by : Sander van den Driesche
Most heavy rock fans are aware of Mos Generator’s Abyssinia release that came out in July on Listenable Records. What not many people caught on to, besides the band’s diehard fans perhaps, is their second release this year, called The Firmament.
This release marks a first in Mos Generator’s long career, as this is the first time the band recorded a film soundtrack, to accompany the movie Songs for the Firmament, which is an abstract live concert movie that explores the mysterious alien lights and unexplainable solar phenomena throughout the day in the Pacific Northwest, as detected by the Joonior Space Administration.
The songs on The Firmament were recorded live in an airplane hangar and contain both old and new material re-written especially for the project. The 5 tracks on offer show a more intimate and delicate side to Tony Reed and Mos Generator, with sounds ranging from acoustic rock to full on progressive psychedelia. The inclusion of the Joy Division cover ‘Dead Souls’ is a nice addition as well, though it doesn’t steer away too much from the original.
Overall The Firmament provides a pleasant and chilled listening experience, which would make a welcome addition to any Mos Generator fan’s collection. Out now through Stickman Records.
Lemanis by Spaceslug – Released 6/2/16 via Bandcamp
Review by : Bruce Cowie
Spaceslug, ‘Galactic travellers’ from Wroclaw in Poland. Well, to be fair, Poland IS part of the galaxy, and I’m sure they’ve got buses and cars and stuff. So…yeah.
The first word that occurs to me when trying to describe Spaceslug’s first album Lemanis is ‘mesmerising’. Maybe ‘hypnotic’. They’re like a chilled and relaxed Sabbath. Oh, there are fat fuzzy riffs by the shipload, but there’s nothing harsh or hurried. Sludgy, but not gritty. The bass throbs and pulses, the guitar never irritates. And the vocals are unexpectedly subtle and restrained, barely more than spoken. Which makes a nice change from the usual angry man shouting.
If you choose to give this a spin, and you really should, I’d recommend that you get comfortable, light up a fat one if you’re so inclined, turn it up REALLY loud and let the whole thing flow around and over you, thick and slow like treacle. Don’t dip in and out, take it all in one. Blast off into outer space and lose yourself in it.
Freedom by Baby Woodrose – Released 16/9/16 via Bad Afro Records
Review by : Gareth Watkin
Copenhagen based garage-stoner rock band Baby Woodrose‘s latest album Freedom certainly offers that quintessential rock experience one would expect.
It’s all quite indulgent and grandiose, but without pretension. Simply put, Freedom is just a fun album of crunchy guitars, pulsing bass and pounding drums, nothing more and nothing less. There’s some nice elements thrown into the mix here and there, giving it an almost space-rock edge that truly sends it all into the cosmos. The sense of enjoyment the band clearly get from making their music has certainly seeped into the album itself, injecting us as listeners with a sense of fun that would perfectly accompany the right context.
There’s nothing more that Freedom needs to do as an album, as it has already achieved exactly what it wants to.
Black Hole Space Wizard : Part 1 by Howling Giant – Released 12/8/16 via Bandcamp
Review by : Chad Murray
In this collection Howling Giant offer up four space-coasting, guitar-surfing, face-melters, blending the bong-friendly riffage of bands like Red Fang with the cosmic euphony of bands like Mars Red Sky and Hawkwind.
The idiosyncrasies of their sound are found in their diversion from simple stoner rock out into spacey sampling and well-executed thrashier elements, with impressive guitar solos and pugilistic percussion adding significant backbone to the collection, whilst a multi-faceted vocal performance dominates the foreground of the release.
This is a release with a lot of drive, urgency and immediacy and yet the precision and attention to detail are clearly not lost in the whacked out cacophony that ensues.
Om Generator by Motorowl – Released 26/8/16 via Century Media Records
Review by : Lance Turner
I am elated to say that this feature Resounding Echoes has unearthed, and mercifully not missed, an unpolished gem cast from the impact of Psych, Prog, Classic Metal, and vintage Hard Rock N’ Roll known as Motorowl. Their album Om Generator was released through Century Media Records on August 26th.
As young as they may be, both in age and overall as a band, a formula of experience thrives in their heavy hymns. I boldly state that this album will appeal to fans of Rush’s experimentation, Black Sabbath’s Doom, Freddie Mercury’s operatic wails, and those who love good ole Rock N’ Roll. Motorowl is wholly a riff happy band, but their maturity in the use of the Hammond organ is what is most apparent to me. So whenever you were born, know that there are bands worth hearing that have heard what our soundfathers laid out, and carved a niche from their own influences.
Cosmos Terros by Mt. Mountain – Released 22/4/16 via Bandcamp
Review by : Stuart Benjamin
Mt. Mountain, from Perth, Australia, bring with them a six-track album of sun-kissed Aussie Desert Rock.
Anyway it’s terrific stuff – satisfyingly trippy – heavy – with imaginative use of organ and spacey effects. ‘Diablo’ is a stand out track, spinning in a trajectory that takes in Barrett-era Pink Floyd and The Doors.
‘Freida’ brutally blasts away like a rocket crashing onto the surface of Mars. Meanwhile, ‘Elevation’, with its urgent and brain-corroding drumming is totally transformative for the listener in exactly all the ways psych rock should be.
That’s just three of these excellent tracks, discover the others for yourselves. I loved every minute of this album, and shall look forward to hearing more from this band. Top stuff, play it loud.
Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles by Telstar Sound Drone – Released 18/3/16 via Bad Afro Records
Review by : Rich Buley
Bad Afro Records out of Copenhagen has been putting out some serious acid-fuelled psych for a decade now, and Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles is certainly no exception. Containing members of fellow Danish sonic terrorists Baby Woodrose (see words about their latest album in this same feature) Telstar Sound Drone do exactly what you would expect from their moniker. Manic, Hookworms-style electronics and echo-laden vocals combine with an immersive sonic maelstrom of buzzing, shimmering guitars and dynamic percussion.
Not afraid to take their foot off the gas with the likes of the thoroughly ‘out there’ ‘Your Finger Stirs the Liquid Moon’ and the ambient beauty of closer ‘Lean Down On White’, the band sound at their best when they are racing through the ravaged excesses of the accurately named ‘Drugs Help’ and ‘Strange Apples’, the latter sounding brilliantly like Bobby Gillespie has joined The Telescopes.
Orbit Dualkraut by ZQKMGDZ – Released 26/8/16 via Pink Tank Records
Review by : Jamie Jones
There’s no two ways about it: ZQKMGDZ is a mess of a name. Bizarrely it’s ‘short’ for 10.000 km² gegen die Zeit – good luck remembering either moniker when you’re trying to tell your mates about them after several ales.
They play a curious mix of plodding rock riffery and blown out psych noodling, with the obligatory reverb-tastic vocals being accompanied by some mighty doomy bellowing. After an underwhelming start it frequently exceeds the sum of its parts.
Album highlight ‘Monokraut Jupiter’ is a slowly unravelling doomy jam that sounds like Ufomammut all strung out on 70s rock, whereas the rather fine title track somehow ricochets from airy, playful krautrock passages into horns-up metal chorus and makes it sound perfectly natural. Overall it’s a curious, meandering listen – but one not without its charms.