AT DEVIL DIRT - The Gentlemen Bastards - IT'S NOT NIGHT: IT'S SPACE - State of Micky and Tommy - WHEELFALL
AT DEVIL DIRT - Chapter II "Vulgo gratissimus auctor" (2012)
Having put it off for far too long I finally bought a copy of the last of my top 10 albums of 2012 that were available (Moon Curse is the only one left now as it hasn't been available as a physical release, but word came in that they have sent their album off to the vinyl plant and their EP is being pressed even as we speak). It took about three weeks in getting here, which isn't too long a wait for it to come all the way up the coast from Chile to BC and when it arrived it came with a copy of the band's self-titled debut album as well! I hadn't gone back and heard it yet as I'm still quite satisfied listening to 'Chapter II' at the moment. Admittedly it's been a long moment. If you haven't read it yet, and you want to know what I think of the music, you can read my full review. It's actually one of my most read posts (or at least, one of my most 'looked at'). Like every band featured on Paranoid Hitsophrenic, they're a very good band and it seems a lot of folks are really taking notice of them. Such is the power of 'Chapter II'.
If you're not familiar with the band, they are a two piece from Chile. There's Nestor Ayala on guitar and Francisco Alvarado on drums and they pound, fuzz, wail and crash with a tone that pierces straight to the center of the brain. Great stoner rock in the Queens of the Stone Age tradition.
Listening to the debut for the first time I'm struck by an aspect I never got to touch on in my review, which is the band's growth between releases. 'At Devil Dirt' takes a more aggressive approach while 'Chapter II' takes is more laid back with the confident swagger of a band finding its voice while maintaining a sharp focus. Also, the vocals are mostly in their native Spanish with only a few in English on the debut. 'Chapter II' is all in English.
The 'Chapter II' CD is available on the band's bandcamp page for 12 US dollars and comes in a single panel digipack with credits on the inside cover and band photos beneath the CD tray. The debut has much the same format and is for sale at 10 US dollars on bandcamp. The digital version of this album is also a "pay what you want" while the digital version of 'Chapter II' is available at 4 dollars.
Highlights include "I am an Ugly Skin" and "That the Start Sweet Ends Bitter".
THE GENTLEMEN BASTARDS - ST (2012)
A very fine ten-song collection of hard rockers by this no-nonsense Huntsville, Alabama four-piece. I recently reviewed this album so I won't go into the finer details about the music here except to say fans of hard rock will find a lot to love on this CD: riffage galore with solid performances by all four guys and when the band wants to get heavy, they go positively nuclear. Right now The Gentlemen Bastards are sending out an extra copy of the CD with every purchase of their debut album on bandcamp, one for yourself and one for a buddy. Two CDs for 5 dollars. There's no telling how long this two for one thing is going to last. The CD comes in a digipack with photos of the four guys in the band on the inside front cover and all credits and "thank you"s beneath the transparent CD tray. The digital 'copy' of the album is still available as a "name your price" item on bandcamp as well.
Highlights include "Deja Vu" and "NMR".
IT'S NOT NIGHT: IT'S SPACE - Bowing Not Knowing To What (2012)
It's Not Night: It's Space's CD came in the mail with a round sticker featuring the name of the band in arabic-stylized writing. The cardboard sleeve is jam packed with masonic imagery: a pair of all-seeing eyes atop twin pillars crawling with bees and presumably, many more such symbolic elements. There's a crowned snake coiled about a cracked egg and twin mantises. Peacock feather eyes blossom beneath a winged crescent moon. This apocalyptic triptych gives the listener an idea of what to expect from the music contained inside. I don't want to give too much away as there is a review coming, but to say that it's a highly psychedelic freak out of the 'bad trip' (of at least the 'heavy vibes' trip) variety. The CD costs 8 dollars US, only three more than the 5 dollars the band is charging for a digital download. To me, that's the kind of deal that I can't turn down. And, as I write this, their bandcamp says there are 4 limited edition vinyl copies of the album left as well, at 20 dollars a piece.
Highlights include "The Mantis & The Cow" and "Palace of the Bees".
STATE OF MICKY AND TOMMY - ST (2008, rec. 1965-1971)
This 24 song collection is a ragtag mix of the recorded output of Micky Jones (later of Foreigner fame) and Tommy Browne as Micky & Tommy, The Blackburds, Nimrod, The J & B and the later collaboration Thomas F. Browne with Mike Jones. The musical sides range from British Pop Psych to blue eyed soul to softer early 70s singer/songwriter stuff to instrumental mod pop that would be best suited for incidental music for a Swinging London exlpoitation picture. They were big in France spending most of their time there as backing musicians and actually did record music for French film soundtracks including the sublime "Alice" for Tumuc Humac and "Then You Got Everything" for L'ours et la Poupee. Though this collection is musically uneven, the standout tracks make up the difference. The often compiled "With Love From 1 To 5" is a very Dave Davies like composition with orchestral backing that would not sound out of place on the album 'Something Else By The Kinks'. "Julian Waites", "Nobody Knows Where You've Been" and the aforementioned "Alice" are superb slices of pop psychedelia, with banging bongos, laidback rhythms and flutes among other affectations that standout among the best songs of the era. These and a few others such as "Then You've Got Everything", "I Know What I Would Do" and "Never At All" evoke that perfect mood that I look for in my British psychedelic rock. It takes me back to a time and place where I would grab a notebook and hang out in the woods by the river in my hometown. The liner notes are in French and one day I'll spend an hour typing the copy into google translate to read them but I think I already know the story as it was told by Andy Morten on the late great Toffee Sunday Smash podcast. They were written by Jean Marcou. I bought this CD from a seller on amazon called Musique du Faubourg and perhaps overpaid at 28 dollars but I didn't want to look one day and find the price to be out of range. Sometimes an executive decision need be made. For what you get this Magic Records release is worth it to me.
Highlights include "Nobody Knows Where You've Been" and "With Love From 1 To 5".
WHEELFALL - INTERZONE (2012)
After hearing the split between Wheelfall and A Very Old Ghost Behind The Farm and being quite well aware that Wheelfall's album 'Interzone' was very much a thing of the present, it quickly became time to order a copy. This French foursome's expansive stoner sound comes to a full life on 'Interzone' that was only glimpsed at on the split. When comparing the liner notes of the two releases, knowing that both records were released just a month apart this past November and December, it's interesting to note that they were actually recorded half a year apart. When I first picked up the split I saw that Wheelfall's contribution was recorded in December 2011 which kind of dampened my excitement because it seemed like those two songs were 'not-good-enough' album outtakes or leftovers or something, but that's not the case at all. 'Interzone', as a recording, is actually a year and a half old! Recorded in July 2011, it makes an outsider wonder what the delay is when the band constantly releases year old material. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, there's just a striking difference between Wheelfall's pace of releasing material and say, an Ice Dragon, who may record a song and post it later that night.
This album is the first release on Sunruin Records and comes in a single panel digipack with a 12 page booklet which features the full lyrics and an introductory explanation of the story behind the concept of 'Interzone'. The whole thing is illustrated by Pol Banon of Art is Anal studios. All together this package will set you back 12 Euros on bandcamp. Wheelfall's official website is here.
Highlights include "It Comes From The Mist" and "Holy Sky".