I’ve been writing about new music in blog and magazine form, for a long while now … from back in the days when Artrocker was a fortnightly paper magazine – remember them? Actually, Loud Horizon even predates that (@ 2004) so as you can imagine, a lot of good music has crossed my desk.
On occasion, though, some bands and artists stand out even above the ‘good’ music. It’s hard to define, but some just have that extra ‘something.’
This Liverpool based, psychedelic rock band may have only released two tracks to date, but I’ll stick my neck out right now and predict you’ll hear a lot more of Cothel.
With band members from California, Mexico, Korea, and Norway and a sound tech guy from England, there’s a lot of diverse influences being brought to bear in their music – and it seems to be working a treat.
Their second, and current release, ‘When You’re Insanely High‘ is an eclectic mix of rock riffs and funky beats, delivered with spiky, punk attitude. Think along the lines of a heavier version of Adequate 7 from the early noughties, and you’ve got it.
This track though highlights the versatility of Cothel, contrasting with the sneering vocal delivery and more grunge feel of their first release, ‘That Feeling You Get.’ I say ‘grunge’ but there’s more – there’s also a manic sixties, psychedelic sound to this. It’s like a swirling nightmare … in a good way of course.
The band have planned two more singles in the new year, before releasing their debut album around April.
There’s not much else I can say about a band so early in their development, but you read it here first – watch out for Cothel in 2022. I’m certain I won’t be the only one singing their praises.
Aaron Stafford (USA): Guitar / Vocals Emiliano Del Toro (Mexico): Lead Guitar Lee Jaeyeuk (aka Jerry) (Korea): Bass Gurkirat Singh (Norway): Drums + Rob King (England): Sound tech
Bliss was born from the ashes of U.S. garage band, The Sect, who were formed in 1966 in Mesa, Arizona by high school students, Brad Reed, Rusty Martin, Corky Aldred, Tom Smith and J.R. Lara.
Initially, the band were very much influenced by the sound of the British Invasion bands and were soon taken under the wing of radio DJ and producer, Hadley Murrell who introduced them to the recording process in his studio.
Two years down the line, all five members had graduated from school and decided to call a halt to the band. However, a short while later, Martin, Reed and Aldred got the bug once more, decided to reform as a power trio, and rechristened themselves, Bliss.
Still with producer Murrell guiding them, they recorded one album with the Los Angeles based Canyon Records in 1969. This does seem a strange choice of label to align with as they were more focused and famed for producing R&B, soul and funk artists, rather than psych and heavy rock.
Inevitably, through lack of promotion and given such low priority by Canyon Records, the album simply fell through the cracks. (So, it would seem, did much in the way of information about the band.Photographs too.)
The album resurfaced over twenty years later, when collectors of psych records picked up on the heavy, bluesy sound and original copies began to change hands for increasingly high sums of money, in some cases over four hundred pounds.
Of course, when this happens, albums are given a new lease of life via reissues, which allow the likes of you and I to add them to our collections.
‘Bliss‘ the album is nowadays considered a cult psych classic, and some tracks do certainly have that feel to them. Of the nine tracks, six are originals ‘ Ride The Ship of Fools, features hard, fuzz-wah guitar, driving bass and pounding drums. ‘ ‘Cry For Love‘ has a feel of The Zombies‘ ‘Time of the Season’ and ‘Visions‘ echoes Cream.
There are a couple of weaker tracks, it has to be said. ‘Make My Old Soul New’ in particular. But there are also three pretty solid covers: ‘Gangsterof Love‘ I recognised from Johnny Winters‘ version of this Johnny Watson song; ‘I Want to be Free,’ a Joe Tex original and a good interpretation of B.B. King’s ‘Rock Me Baby.’
Overall, this is a decent, solid, heavy rock album, I think boosted some years ago by attaining ‘cult’ status.
Originals worth £400+? I’m not sure. Certainly on rarity and ‘collectible’ tag, then probably. But if like me you buy records for listening to, then I think the regular album price of £20 – £25 is more in line with the content.
Formed in Orlando Florida back in 2008, brothers Andy and Edwin White, as Tonstartssdandht are set to release their eighteenth (!) album, ‘Petunia,’ on October 22nd 2021.
From Wikipedia: Commenting on their prolific output, they have said, “Even a shitty recording can possibly be salvaged or used in a different way, but we generally justrecord record record. Just hit that button and don’t worry about it. Do it or never do it.” Andy has a long term interest in archiving and documenting the band’s live shows, which he began recorded with a 4-track. Recently he has been recording most of their tours, including dates across Europe,Russia, South East Asia, and Australia. When recording “studio” albums, they aim for a warm, room sound, using the close mic technique, and usually recording in their own apartments, with ambient sounds (including microwaves being turned on) apparent ininstances
Renowned for playing shows in which their psych infused set goes a little ‘off piste’ and the songs become longer, languid jams, they view the album as the bare bones of future live sets.
Where most Tonstartssbandht albums come together slowly over years, recorded on the fly whenever the Whites have a few spare moments on the road, ‘Petunia’ was largely written and recorded in their home city of Orlando in 2020.
Many of the tracks had been played live, but in extremely rough form, and hadn’t yet developed into any kind of mature stage. With plenty of time on their hands thanks to the lockdown, and no shows to play, Andy and Edwin decided to pack some flesh onto those skeletons and bring them to life on their own.
‘Petunia’ is the first Tonstartssbandht album to be created in a sustained manner and in a consistent environment, written and recorded in a single place over a focused period of time.
It was recorded at the brothers’ home studio in Orlando between April and August of 2020, but was mixed by Joseph Santarpia and Roberto Pagano at The Idiot Room in San Francisco. This was the first time in eighteen albums that ‘outsiders’ have been brought in at the mixing stage, the result this time being that ‘Petunia‘ is brighter, punchier, and more direct than its predecessor.
If the single, and indeed the following video from five years ago, is anything to go by, then we’re in for a treat.
Edwin White – Drums / Vocals Andy White – Guitar / Vocals
***** Tonstartssbandht‘s discography is ‘complicated’ by different formats of some recordings being released by different labels.
***** Rather than produce a table here, perhaps it would be be simpler to check out the band’s releases here on Discogs.
The recent post about Jet being billed as Glam Rock’s first ‘supergroup’ set me thinking as what would be my ‘Fantasy Supergroup’ in various genres.
The principle is the same as with selecting a fantasy sports team – nobody is saying these are / were the very best in the world in their position, but how good they would play together as a unit. And there can be no more than one member representing an established act.
Of course, you’d have to cut some slack regards egos and some rather eccentric personality traits , but I reckon these guys would have produced some awesome noise.
JIM MORRISON (Doors)– Lead Vocals The iconic frontman had everything needed to be the focal point of this band: the looks; the mystique; the presence, and of course – the voice.
DAVE BROCK (Hawkwind) – Guitar / Vocals I’ve gone for Dave partly because of his endurance (the only constant member of Hawkwind) and still playing today. In the following clip, taken from the band’s debut album, he’s playing 12-string acoustic guitar. He’s never been one to grab the limelight (it was murder trying to find a decent video, showing him play in the 1970s) and if you want someone with experience in the ‘space rock’ sound, then he’s yer man!
JACK CASADY (Jefferson Airplane) – Bass Adaptable in style, Jack would moonlight with other bands of the era, including Jimi Hendrix Experience and Grateful Dead. He was inducted into the U.S. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame … and he looks like a hippie. That’ll do it for me.
MITCH MITCHELL (Jimi Hendrix Experience) – Drums Another Rock ‘n’Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Mitch started out more as a jazz drummers with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames. Playing with Jimi Hendrix though would have given him plenty ‘experience’ of holding the band together during lengthy, improvised jams, which would prove invaluable in our psych unit.
VINCENT CRANE (Atomic Rooster) – Keyboards Just a bit of personal bias here. Vincent Crane made his name with Atomic Rooster, of course, but had previously played with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. His distinctive playing of the Hammond organ is an abiding memory of me getting into ‘rock’ music as a kid.
There you have it – my Psych / Spacerock Fantasy Supergroup. Now – all I need is a name; one that will keep everyone happy and preserve their egos.
I know …. how about: HAWKWIND’S ATOMIC AIRPLANE DOOR EXPERIENCE. …. or HAADE for short.
Formed in 1964 while still at school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, The Serfmen would quickly change direction from their surf- sound roots and build a strong local following, with gigs booked every weekend. They would be asked to open for more established local bands and some nationally famous groups.
On the strength of this interest, Al Russel, a local DeeJay of the time invited the band into his studio to record a couple of tracks. The result was this, ‘A Man Can’t Live Without Love.’ (A copy of this was sold through Discogs in June 2020 for £72)
Another single followed a few months later, ‘Chills & Fever.‘ The band were by now playing all the top venues in northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, and with both singles having received extensive airplay, they attracted the attention of Indiana based agency, Dino Enterprises.
With the ‘British Invasion’ of America now in full swing, the agency suggested the lads followed in that direction. Vocalist and lead guitarist explained the transformation from The Serfmen to The Olivers:
“On the south side of Ft. Wayne was Oliver Street. Oliver. Oliver Twist. It sounded old and British. Bang. That was it. The kids seemed to like it better also. We grew our hair, had old fashioned outfits made and wrote songs we thought sounded British.”
With their increased popularity, and working with an agency, touring further afield and a whole-hearted dedication to the band became essential. Bass player Greg Church couldn’t make that commitment so left, leaving a space to be filled by a fan of The Serfmen, Billy Franze. And so late in 1965, the first line-up of The Olivers was complete – see below.
Early in 1966, DJ Al Russell arranged a recording session in Portage, Michigan. Two songs were recorded, neither taking more than fifteen minutes!
The result was the following, frantic an exciting ‘Beeker Street’ / ‘I Saw What You Did‘ which was released initially through Phalanx Records, and shortly after picked up by RCA Victor who took on the distribution.
This new, settled line-up however wouldn’t last long, for in September 1966, less than a year after their formal inception, vocalist / lead guitarist, Jay Penndorf, was drafted into the U.S. military, and replaced with Mike Mankey.
When Mike and Billy joined, they were only eighteen years old. The other members, Carl Aldrich (vocals / organ) and Chuck Hamrick (drums) were both just twenty.
For such a young band, they landed some some pretty big bookings in 1967, touring extensively and opening shows for likes of The Rolling Stones; The Hollies; The Yarbirds; The Byrds; The Standells; Bob Seger, and The Who.
Moving with the times, The Olivers found themselves changing musical direction again, as the British Invasion influences had run their course. Now, they looked to Hendrix, Cream and other heavier acts as well as James Brown and lots of R&B.
Organ player Carl Aldrich was not so keen on the heavier scene. In late ’67 he moved on, Rick Durrett the keyboard player from local Indianapolis band The Cardboard Bachs, taking his place.
Their sound developed a more psychedelic edge and fans would now be standing and watching rather than dancing. They became an established name and top draw in Indiana and surrounding states, so much so the constant gigging left no time for hitting the studio to record.
Something had to be done, and through bass player Billy’s contact with Pete Steinberg of Candy Floss Productions, an invite was secured to record at the Dove Studios in Minneapolis.
By now, early 1969, Jay Penndorf had completed his draft obligations, and joined the band for the sessions. Seven songs were recorded, all written by the band members, principally Mike Mankey and Billy Franze.
Dove Records contacted major label Sire with a view to a wider release, and it seems they were indeed interested. But for whatever reason the deal was never secured and in 1970, Dove Studios closed their doors and sold all the equipment.
The resultant disappointment felt by the band turned to disillusionment. Jay, who’d by now formally rejoined, was not really into the new music the band were performing, and when his equipment was stolen, he opted to forsake the music business for a career in the army.
The Olivers were no more.
Mike and Billy subsequently teamed up with Kent Cretors on drums and recorded one 7″ single as Triad. But again, distribution was poor and sales subsequently disappointing. They stuck around til 1971, but then called it quits.
And that, it seemed was that. One of Indiana’s finest had been let down, for what reason, nobody really knows, and they were to disappear without much more than local acknowledgement.
Until, that is, 2011, when a reference acetate of the album recording session was offered in an internet auction in California. Mike Dugo and Tim Cox, both of whom are avid collectors and run much respected ’60s based music sites, had their interest piqued, tracked down band member Mike Mankey and conducted their ‘due diligence’ to authenticate the find.
The result is that now the album has been given a full release by garage and psych label Break – A – Way Records.
Check out the immense, trippy guitar work on the two tracks posted here. I’d go so far as to say this album defines the ‘true unknown classic’ description and is well worth checking out in full.
THE OLIVERS Mike Mankey – Guitar / Vocals Chuck Hamrick – Drums Rick Durrett – Keyboards Billy Franze – Bass / Lead Vocals Jay Pendoorf – Guitar / Vocals