You know what? I actually know very little about the band STONEGRASS, or indeed this, I believe, their debut eponymous album.
See, I was skipping through Bandcamp again today and stumbled upon the pre-order page. Mention was made of ‘psychedelic,’ and ‘acid’ and ‘big bold psyche jams.’ And I guess that’s the importance of keywords, right there kids!
I was hooked and reeled in pretty quickly!
From what I can make out, STONEGRASS are essentially a duo from Toronto, Canada. Comprising bass / guitarist Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn and drummer Jay Anderson, they hooked up again after previously working together on their Spiritual Sky Blues Band project.
As I write, having just bought the album on pre-order, only two tracks of the seven have been made available: ‘Tea,’ is a thirteen minute long , stoner guitar wig-out; lots of wah-wah underpinned by a prominent bass line and crashing cymbals and drums. This was composed to be played LOUD, that’s for sure.
‘Frozen Dunes‘ to me has more of a desert rock feel to it. It’s certainly more laid back and dreamy / spaced out in its delivery. Jay’s rolling toms and bongos (says the writer with absolutely no musical experience!) lead the track through its seven minute duration, while effects-laden guitars cry and drift over the top.
I don’t think I’d be a million miles away in saying this track reminds me a bit of early Sleepy Sun, from back in the day.
Whatever – these two tracks on their own are well worth shelling out for, and with the other five being made available on release day, 22nd May, what’s not to like?
(The album will also have a limited edition – 300 – vinyl run. If the costs of importing from Canada to Scotland was not so prohibitive, I’d be right in there myself.)
Just like the buses around here in Glasgow, you wait for ages and then two come at once!
Hot on the heels of his forthcoming new album’s lead track, Alex Pollock has also made available the following, ‘No Fooling.‘
The album was self-produced, written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered by Pollock from his home apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts. During the creation of Rain, Pollock’s mother unexpectedly fell ill and passed away. While Rain is in some ways an expression of that change, it is also aspires to belong to everyone, beyond a singular, defining experience.
‘Rain‘ is a new, ambitious and exciting stage in the evolution of The Ocular Audio Experiment, colored lovingly with influences like, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, True Widow, Mercury Rev, Spacemen 3, BRMC, Black Angels, Psychic Ills and others.
I’ve been a fan of The Ocular Audio Experiment from, well, the start, I suppose, but much as I enjoyed the earlier work, from what I’ve hear of ‘Rain’ so far, it shows a maturity and richness of sound. It sounds to me that Alex and his ‘live’ band have truly found their feet and there is a greater sense of professionalism in both the music and accompanying video production.
It’s been three years, but he’s back! And if you were a reader of Loud Horizon back in the day, you’ll know how happy this makes me.
Alex Pollock, if I recall correctly, is from Boston area, USA, and under the pseudonym, The Ocular Audio Experiment, produces some glorious, shimmering yet dark and melodically doom-laden psyche music.
In his own words: ” Well, here we are, a whole year after I thought this project was done. Wow. This has taken me a lot longer than I had ever hoped or expected it to, for a variety of reasons, none of which are exciting or interesting. I am, however, ready to finally start putting it out into the world for good. ……….
” …. My goal with The Ocular Audio Experiment, going way back to the beginning, was to show that if some idiot like me, with no training, no label, no studio, no band, no know-how, could put together something maybe kind of close to cool, than really anybody could. That’s still the point and I still believe that.”
‘Rain,‘ is the lead and title track from the forthcoming album. It’s hard to quantify exactly, but I sense a distinctly more confident and professional approach from Alex on this one. The production and sound seem less cluttered and the accompanying video is quite striking in its ambiance and basic starkness.
I look forward to hearing the whole album, and sincerely hope Alex manages to get this in front of labels who specialize in this genre.
Dead Acid People are a four-piece Stoner rock band from Paris, France. Initially formed as a duo back in 2014 by guitarist Stéphane and drummer, Guillaume , theywere shortly thereafter joined by Alain on bass. Agreeing then their sound could be further enhanced by the addition of a vocalist, he services of Mathieu were then enlisted.
Their first album, ‘Mocker Fuzzers‘ was released in 2016. I’ve had a quick run through that one and while it is worth checking out, to me it has more of a gothic, Gary Numan feel about it rather than ‘stoner.’
However, ‘Earth, Weed & Fire,‘ far better fits the description. It’s very bass-led, and an early indication of this comes in the opening ‘Intro’ track, The seven minute plus title track follows and immediately the difference between this album and the band’s debut becomes apparent. The production is definitely geared towards their vision, with the vocals sort of choked back into the mix more than the first album. Being the length it is, the track moves through a couple of distinct phases and incorporates a (too) short guitar wigout around the mid point.
‘Never Ending‘ unfortunately does. And all too soon. Perhaps not strictly ‘stoner’ for the purists, but this one races through its two and a half minutes duration and in terms of beat and bass line, echoes those of Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life.‘ A winner in my book!
‘Fuzz You,‘ keeps the tempo high, and chugs along with a sense that it is the most commercially accessible track on the album. It’s not inconceivable that this track could be appreciated by a wider audience – one that would normally balk at the thought of listening to anything so radical as ‘stoner.’
‘Cosmic Trails‘ returns us to what I’d consider the more traditional ‘stoner’ sound – steady, solid rhythm, pounding drums, more deadbeat vocal styles and searing guitars. ‘Beyond The Path,’ slows even further and has a kind of ethereal feel. It’s a lovely spaced-out track, predominately instrumental, but interspersed with hushed group vocals.
‘Light A Fire’ features some fuzzed up guitar and more growled vocal style. It has a harder edge than the other tracks.
Closing track, ‘Wrong Faith,‘ is a heavy-riffed, brilliantly dark, nine-minute end to the album. Arguably the best of the eight racks, in my opinion.
‘Earth, Weed Fire’ is definitely an album well worth exploring, and at only 15 Euros (or more if you feel it worthy – and I’d say it is) for the vinyl copy via Bandcamp, then, you know, go for it!
Just last night, when writing about German band wolf prayer, and the track ‘Desert,’ I mentioned that they ‘… won’t commit to this tagging, although not completely denying it either. The album, I’m assured, contains some surprising tracks. I’m intrigued.’
The tagging to which I referred, relates to the one of ‘stoner’ which seems to be thrown in their direction. Now, having heard the whole ‘Echoes of the Second Sun,’ album, I understand why they are slightly reticent to simply accept the description of their music.
I have been writing about new music, either for this blog or Artrocker Magazine, for about thirteen years; I have been to countless gigs and seen innumerable bands of all musical genres. Well, almost
Yet it still amazes me how bands can come up with new sounds; new amalgamations of styles; experiments that blossom into something big.
And this is exactly what wolf prayerhave done with this, their debut album.
Take the opening track, for example: ‘Average Man,’ opens opens with what sounds a roaring guitar feedback, drops into a quiet riff, before the bass line and pounding drums take over. The riff permeates all this though, and immediately that ‘stoner’ tag comes back into focus. The vocal style would add confirmation. As does the searing guitar solo.
But then, with about a minute and a half remaining of the seven minutes long track, all that has gone before vanishes. Just like that. And in its place – quiet, synths / keyboards in like an old school Prog Rock style. I know – it kind of sounds ridiculous, but this exemplifies my earlier point of experiments that blossom.
It does actually work!
The second track, ‘According To The Rule,’ is a dark and moody, heavy riff-laden doom style song. Think Linkin Park on Mogadon. But better.
‘Desert‘ follows. Then comes ‘Shapeshifter’ – an aptly named track that takes on various forms and moods throughout its seven minute duration.
‘New Morning,’ opens quietly, explodes into life with the pounding drums and huge guitar riffs, drops away and then erupts again for a prolonged spell with searing guitar fighting the drums for prominence. And here comes ‘surprise’ number two – half way through this track (guess how long it lasts – yup, seven minutes!) there is a two minute or so breakdown when a muted and funky bass line gives way to some far-out jazzy keyboards. It’s all very Deodata’s version of ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra,’ if you ask me. But I love it!
But don’t worry, riff lovers – the final minute and a half sees their return!
‘Like A Fool,’ is more straightforward – booming and gloomy, pissed-off stoner style – although the plucked guitar in the final third gives it something slightly different just ahead of pace picking up and racing towards the conclusion.
‘Strings Like A Puppet,’ is I think the most mono-tempo track on the album. Slow, slothful and threatening with fuzzed-up, buzzing guitar
‘Feed My Brain‘ closes the album – all fifty minutes or so, if my arithmetic is correct. It’s a slow burner, is this one. It moves in steps, like a classical piece would do in ‘movements’ and grows in intensity with each section before finally dropping away the band leave the building. Actually. Yes – the band leave the building.
I have to nail my colours to the mast here – I love this album.
I love the heavy, conventional sounds. I love it for incorporating some ‘desert’ rock alongside ‘stoner.’ I love it for the surprises, the little funky and jazzy interludes.
But most of all I love it for the courage shown by a band in this field to experiment – and to pull it off.
I work outdoors and received notice of this release by phone earlier today. A new band to me; new music – I couldn’t wait to get home and write about it.
I knew nothing about Red Stone Chapel before today, and now, as I sit poised in front of my laptop, I realise I still don’t know much about them!
They have been on the go since 2009, apparently, but I believe that having signed a worldwide record deal with Argonauta Records, they will soon release the FIRST full length album. You’d think they’d be shouting about this from the rooftops, but no – the German based sludge-meisters are keeping details well and truly under wraps for the time being.
(I suppose when you’ve waited ten years to release your first full album, what difference is a couple more months going to make?)
Asked to comment on the forthcoming release, the band said: “It’s kind of like a picture of Nietzsche on coke having a threesome with Kratos from God of War and H. R. Giger in the library of Alexandria. But you can listen to it.“
What Red Stone Chapelhave done, however, is release this single as a bit of a teaser. ‘
‘Squid Limbo,’ (no, me neither!) is like a lesson on heavy rock history. You want to hear some heavy blues? Play ‘Squid Limbo.’ You want to hear some straight-up classic rock? Play ‘Squid Limbo.’ You want some Southern Rock? Some Black Crowes? What about Death Metal growls? Flashes of prog rock guitar? BIG heavy riffs, obviously. Goes without saying, right? Pounding drums. ….