Archive for June, 2011

Looking for technically superior Prog-Rock?  Perhaps you’re more in need of infectious Pop-Rock? Maybe you hanker for weedy, angular college Indie? Then you need not apply here, for Valley of the Sun are a straight-shooting, unpretentious band that prefers to summon the spirit of desert rock heroes Kyuss on this gutsy record, marrying it with elements from 60’s and 70’s hard-rock.

Though this Ohio-based outfit aren’t re-inventing the wheel there’s still much to respect on ‘The Sayings of the Seers’ their second release to date. From its groove-laden, mountain-sized riffs through to its tight, steadfast rhythm section. Guitarist/Vocalist Ryan Terrier has a soulful tone to his voice that undeniably recalls John Garcia (not a bad thing when you consider he is one of the greatest Rock vocalists of the last 20 years) but he’s also able to change things up during the more introspective moments of this record, with vague hints of Scott Weiland or Layne Stayley coming to mind.  On the stomping ‘Aquarius’, Terrier flirts with these Garcia-style tones but the chorus is reserved for a melodious harmony that surely takes its cue from Cream.

This band likes to keep things varied, veering clear of stoner-rock stagnation, changing tempos and occasionally changing tact.  The aforementioned ‘Aquarius’, for example, ends via some nice acoustic work that sounds natural rather than forced.  Likewise, they understand when to let loose and when to reign things in within their classic guitar/bass/drums power trio line-up.  ‘Mariner’s Tale’  divebombs into action with fiery riffs and a robust, Bonham-esque rhythm but rather than continuing with pedal to the metal, the band segues this track into a hazy, tripped-out segment with the guitar taking command, the whole piece reminding of the trance-like bliss via ferocious intensity of Karma To Burn.  I’d wager this one goes down a storm around the clubs of their native Cincinnati.

This troupe refreshingly avoid the needless histrionics or show-boating that dogs certain bands in and around the Rock idiom, yet they’re far from workman-like too.  Though a feeling lingers that their vision isn’t quite complete on this 5-track record, those who are willing to dismiss Valley of the Sun as mere copyists are missing the point.  More importantly, they’re missing a fine, hard-rocking band.  ‘The Sayings of the Seers’ has more than enough in its locker to recruit those that missed the ride first time around.

This article also appears on Exploding In Sound


High Voltage is now only 25 days away and while headline acts such as Dream Theater, Judas Priest and Queensryche hold zero interest for me (though I will make exceptions for guitar gods Slash and Joe Bonamassa). I am, however, looking forward to investigating the acts on smaller stages.  I’ve already pinpointed Neurosis, Rival Sons, Amplifier and Electric Wizard as ‘must see’ bands and going by the video above from Belgian trio TriggerFinger, a cover of a Bob Dylan song no less, which captures them in their full live glory, I’ll be making a beeline for their slot too.  These snappily dressed bad seeds from Antwerp make gritty, blues explosions and are already a household name in their own country.  They’ve just released new album ‘ All This Dancing Around Again’, the CD and (Blue) Vinyl package can be obtained from their website for 20 euros. Expect to see more of these guys on these pages.

‘Journeyed Road’ is lifted straight from Seabuckthorn’s ‘In Nightfall’ which is due to see light of day very soon on French imprint Bookmaker Records.  Limited to just 100 copies and furnished with a silkscreen recycled cardboard sleeve, this CD is a 23 minute exploration of dusty instrumental mantras that bridges folk, acid-rock and psychedelic styles.

The work of UK-based guitarist Andy Cartwright, ‘In Nightfall’ will compliment record collections that feature LP’s by the likes of Grails, James Blackshaw and John Fahey.  The music is exquisitely detailed and has a certain melodic and rhythmic quality to it, performed using an array of 6 string and 12 string guitars.  The instrumentation is impeccable too, underpinning a meditative, crepuscular atmosphere notable on tracks such as ‘Dark Blue’ and the simply sublime ‘Journeyed Road’. There’s always something new to uncover with each spin here. Cartwright’s style is hauntingly beautiful, filmic and doused in mystery.

‘In Nightfall’ can be pre-ordered from Bookmaker Records, where you can also stream the full record too.

Seabuckthorn’s psychedelic folk is led by a voluble but never demonstrative acoustic guitar, often accompanied by more electric and ghostly sounds.  Both dense and warm, In Nightfall’s melodies weave a poetic tinge of melancholy. This fourth album is an accomplished work that impresses by its humility and consistency.


Journeyed Road.mp3 (Mediafire link)

This record was released to much fanfare and, sadly, mixed reviews a couple of months back by Temporary Residence.  I must admit I don’t absolutely love this record either, but one thing we can all agree on is the exquisite, lavish artwork and packaging for the vinyl version — ‘A Super Deluxe 2 x LP featuring stunning quadruple gatefold packaging with a massive fold-out poster, postcard, vinyl etching & free mp3 download.  See for yourself in the pics below

Four years is a long time to wait for a new EITS album, and we’ve pulled out all the stops to make it as worth the wait as possible. Aside from being a strong contender for their best album, it’s packaged in the most outrageously deluxe artwork we’ve dared since the Eluvium box set. Housed (literally, it’s a house) in a 10-panel quadruple gatefold cardboard jacket, with an enormous 18-panel full-color double-sided poster, and a full-color double-sided postcard – then all of that is tucked neatly inside of a full-color double-sided slipcase! The CD and vinyl versions are packaged identically, only differing in size. Both CD and vinyl come in THREE different artwork variants – the interiors of artwork are different colors. While supplies last, there are 3 different colored vinyl variants that match the corresponding colors of artwork. There’s also a killer engraving on Side D. Words can’t express how over-the-top beautiful this thing is, so soon enough we’ll have to make a video to show everybody. Trust us, it’s bananas.


Check these pictures out to see for yourself


99% of other reviews make a beeline for comparisons with At The Drive-In and …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead with this Glaswegian quartet, and this is certainly true of tracks such as ‘Go Away, Don’t Leave Me Alone’ and ‘Dust To Light’.  I’m surprised that there’s very little mention of early Idlewild.  Not since their 1998 ‘Captain EP’ has a Scottish band combined infectious energy and youthful exuberance in such a manner.  United Fruit have a knack of melding their discordant music into something quite anthemic. Tracks such as ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘The Alarm’ portray this perfectly, shifting gears and winding the abrasive instrumentation into radio-friendly choruses, it’s an impressive trick, one that also reminds of the satisfying, ear-drum bursting dynamics of former Glaswegian Indie-Rock heroes AC Acoustics.  As too is the whirlwind, overwhelming start to ‘Confuse Her Now’ which recalls Sonic Youth at their most raucous.  Again there’s room for melody amidst the fiery, post-hardcore shouts, corkscrewing guitar interplay and breakneck speed instrumentation.

A muddy production mix means a lot of this LP loses its impact, however.  You really want tracks such as ‘Kamikaze’ and ‘Red Letter’ to overcome this, but they don’t quite make it. The vocals can be difficult to decipher especially when the band are at full stride, while the drums could do with a good bit of oomph, instead of the damp, watery sound prevalent throughout– though they’re actually kind of reminiscent to that of Sonic Youth’s ‘Sister’, so perhaps the drum sound on ‘Faultlines’ was intentional..  Production issues aside, this record is definitely worth investigating especially by those with even a passing interest in any of the bands mentioned above.  As a start this record is noteworthy, but with a prestigious slot secured for the T Break Stage at this year’s T in the Park Festival, United Fruit seem destined to go onto bigger things.

NME has been giving DZ Deathrays a fair bit of attention and column inches recently, featuring them in their Radar section of their website, while also including them in their print mag too,with a best new band accolade.  They’re a two-piece band from Brisbane, Australia that create a scuzzy, but infectious sound that draws on Garage, Blues and Psychedelic influences.   The video above for the aptly-titled ‘The Mess Up’  is as debauched as they come, with the duo proceeding to get plastered by drinking a bottle of Jagermeister inside 3 minutes.  Unsurprisingly, there’s vomit at the end!

‘Brutal Tapes’ is out on I Oh You now

Inca Gold are a London-based outfit, featuring Ben Chatwin of Talvihorros fame.  Utilising a standard guitar/bass/drum set-up, this quartet aim to create ‘interesting and experimental’ music that doesn’t turn people away.

The result on this particular EP is a vivid, dreamy sound that’s not without its power.  A lid is kept on any thunderous noise that may be brewing in the background.  It’s definitely there, but is tempered by the intriguing, liquid guitar textures and an astute rhythm section, allowing the edgy pop choruses and widescreen melodies the chance to flourish.

There’s tinges of Radiohead in one or two of the tracks, including the lovely, melancholic guitar interplay on ‘Gone Fishing’, while the vocals on ‘Leagues’ point to a Thom Yorke influence.  The tempo change at the tail end of the latter is a definite EP highlight, breaching into the kinetic, Art-Rock territories that Bloc Party like to explore, without merely copying.

As part of a planned triptych of (free) EP’s to be issued in 2011, this project allows Inca Gold, still less than a year old, a chance to find their feet, while gathering a fan-base at the same time.  The tracks of this EP have an air of confidence about them. This quartet has something up their sleeves.  And they know it.