The Quartet of Woah “Self Titled” Album Review + Stream…

The Quartet of Woah

The Quartet of Woah! – Double Vinyl // CD // DD

Raging Planet – released November 25, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

Tracklist:
As In Life (13:26)
Forth By Light (10:46)
A Flock Of Leaves (17:18)
Days Of Wrath (13:30)

 

 

Review:

True uniqueness in music is hard to come by, especially in this day and age. It almost feels as though everything’s already been done and nothing is truly original anymore. Once in a blue moon, though, a band like The Quartet of Woah comes along and re-instills something of a sense of wonder – perhaps we haven’t reached the bottom of the barrel just yet.

The Quartet of Woah are a Heavy Progressive Rock band from Portugal; in case the song titles and lengths didn’t already give that away. Their individual songs, though, reach everywhere from Prog to Psychedelia to Folk to Blues and everywhere in between. Every song is crafted with artisan skill and precision and every note is crisp, clear, and audible. Each song brings a sense of energy and soul that is never wasted – it’s almost like a perpetual motion machine, never slowing down, never ceasing until its message is conveyed.

Live band pic

This album is not without its left turns into oddity land, though. Opener “As In Life” contains a drum solo and a flute outro and personal favorite “Forth By Light” veers off into some positively bizarre chromatic riffing and noodley organs that work far better than one would expect. What does remain constant, though, is the groove. The Quartet of Woah are experts in the art of groove and are ready and willing to show it off. It’s not exactly dancey, but don’t be surprised if you end up bobbing your head several times.

The Quartet of Woah are a band that set out to do what no one else had, to chart uncharted territory, and have done exactly that with their stellar debut. If you love heavy music with progressive tendencies and lack an aversion to really, really long and strange compositions, then do yourself a favor and listen and support this wonderful indie release and a band with a very bright future!


Dead Quiet “Grand Rites” Album Review + Stream…

Dead Quiet

Grand Rites – CD // DD // Vinyl

Artoffact Records – released November 3, 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

Lineup:
Aaron “Boon” Gustafson: Bass (Anciients, ex-3 Inches of Blood (live), ex-SprëadEagle)
Jason Dana: Drums (ex-Karen Foster, ex-SprëadEagle)
Brock MacInnes: Guitars (AnciientsTobeatic, ex-Venomous Tusk, Percheron, Rotting Hills, The Blood River Band, ex-Hammer of Hades)
Kevin Keegan: Guitars, Vocals (ex-Barn Burner, Klandestīn)
Justin Hagberg: Keyboards ( WorseBlack Wizard (live), Allfather, ex-3 Inches of Blood, Klandestīn, Ritual Dictates, ex-Roadrunner United, ex-The Villain Avian Symphony)

Previous Releases:
2014 – Demo
2015 – “Self Titled”

Tracklist:
Moon Curser 08:26
Blood Lovers 06:37
Corpse Revival 08:26
Disgraced 05:41
Fucking Oath 06:12
Dear Demon 08:10
Old Hopeless 06:37
Spiritual Abuse 05:02
Grand Rites 08:48

 

 

Review:

On bandcamp the band describe their sound as, “…influences ranging from doom metal to classic rock, Dead Quiet seeks to meld melody with catastrophe as they weave through a dissonant landscape of crushing metallic riffs and somber choral musings.” Dead Quiet masterfully delivers this is high fashion with “Grand Rites”.  If you recognize some of the members’ names above that is because Dead Quiet are the closest thing to a modern day “Supergroup”.

As a follow up to their first album it fits in well.  They have improved sonically and sound as if they are maximizing the talents of each member while making it a cohesive and flawlessly executed throughout the 64+ minutes and 9 tracks that comprises “Grand Rites”.  With their roster set, there truly isn’t a dud in this second album. Like I said before this album is an improvement over the first, they went from a good first album to a great second and sadly, more times than not, bands do the opposite due to a myriad of reasons; time constraints, label demands and just the overall pressure of the “Follow Up” from the “Big Debut”.

Keegan’s vocal delivery is certainly worth noting.  The songs are packed with acid laced lyrics ranging from Politics to Religion to The Thrill of the 1st kill in closer “Grand Rites” that name a few subject matters.   Keegan preaches to the listener; the concert goer. He draws the listener in to pay closer attention as it is impactful, powerful, meaningful, genuine and most important…..it fits perfectly with the band’s overall sound – a melting pot of Rock, Sludge and Metal.  We are only at the beginning of 2018 and we may already have a top 3 contender!!


Links:
https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Dead_Quiet/3540399775

https://deadquiet.bandcamp.com/

https://deadquiet.bandcamp.com/album/grand-rites

 

Dead Quiet Live!! Photo cred to @holtproductions Live Band Pic


The Atomic Bitchwax “Force Field” Album Review + Stream…

THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX

Force Field – Vinyl // CD // DD // Merch

TeePee Records: released December 7, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

Formed:  1993

Current Members:
Chris Kosnik bass, vocals (currently of Monster Magnet, formerly of Godspeed and Black NASA)
Bob Pantella drums, percussion (formerly of Raging Slab, currently of Monster Magnet, Riotgod, Cycle of Pain)
Finn Ryan guitar, vocals (formerly of Core)

Previous Releases:
The Atomic Bitchwax (1999)
TAB-2 (2000)
Spit Blood EP (2002)
TAB-3 (2005)
Boxriff EP (2006)
TAB-4 (2007)
The Local Fuzz ‘single’ (2011)
Gravitron (2015)

 

 

Review:
Veterans all, referring to the members of this long-running unit, that all started as a side-project in the summer of 1999 and has since evolved into this raging storm comprised of three forces that meld seamlessly into the animal that stands before us, represented by the band’s seventh offering, “Force Field”.

Twelve songs and thirty-four minutes make up this release and is by far the strongest release yet from The Atomic Bitchwax aka TAB, bringing all of the honing, sharpening and precision born of endless touring here in the States and internationally over the last 18 years together to blast you out of your seat as never before. Having been previously described as a band that ‘specializes in high-octane, 70’s based hard rock, space rock and psychedelia’, TAB has taken that base formula from the edge of the century and brought it to the front in ALL of it’s sonic glory.

From the drum intro of “Hippie Speedball” through the histrionics of “Humble Brag“, there is no lack of bravado tinged with sheer brilliance of power chords, psycho-quick time shifts, hyper-rumbling bass lines and all of the lyrical twists and turns we have come to love and expect from TAB and tracks such as “Tits And Bones” fill that order with ease. Closer “Liv A Little” let’s those 70’s root fly high with the keyboard fills and an over-modulated vocal line that brings you to the sound and feel of what is must have been like at a T-Rex crowd with the energy that is necessary for the listeners of this century.

Band Pic

 

Two stand outs to me from this instant classic and MUST-HAVE for the long-time fans and the ones just discovering this trio are “Super Highway” with it’s phase-shifted drum intro into a high-speed jaunt with lyrics to match is one of those songs that begs to be played at full-volume and gets your heart racing alongside, trying to keep pace and would be a great track to feature as the lead off, in MY opinion.  The second is “Fried, Dyed and Laying To The Side“, an instrumental romp that allows each guy to shine in their own mastery of their individual ‘weapon’ which only brightens the genius of this release.

If you were expecting something closer to a Monster Magnet record, hope you weren’t too disappointed. While the interweaving and endless touring with each band has not stopped and will more than likely not change anytime soon, The Atomic Bitchwax have proven time and again that they are their OWN entity and their finest-hour to date is upon them with “Force Field”. See ’em if they come anywhere close and convert the ‘unknowing’ in your circle.

Let it roll endlessly and keep it LOUD!!


Wolf Parade “Cry, Cry, Cry” Album Review + Stream…

Wolf Parade

Cry, Cry, Cry – Vinyl // CD // Cassette Tape // DD

Sub Pop Records – released October 6, 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

Lineup:
Arlen Thompson – Drums
Dante DeCaro – Bass
Dan Boeckner – Guitar, Vocals
Spencer Krug – Keyboard, vocals

 

Previous Releases:
(2003) Self-released:  4 Song EP
(2004) Self-released: 6 Song EP
(2005) Sub Pop Records: Self Titled EP
(2005) Sup Pop: Apologies to the Queen Mary
(2008) Sup Pop: At Mount Zoomer 
(2010) Sub Pop:  Expo 86
(2016) Sub Pop: Apologies To the Queen Mary – Reissue // Deluxe Edition

 

Tracklist:
Lazarus Online 03:25
You’re Dreaming 03:39
Valley Boy 03:38
Incantation 04:22
Flies on the Sun 03:42
Baby Blue 06:00
Weaponized 06:39
Who Are Ya 03:43
Am I an Alien Here 03:36
Artificial Life 03:48
King of Piss and Paper 04:47

 

 

A Little History and Review:

Wolf Parade are an Indie Rock band from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They formed in April of 2003 by Spencer Krug and original was a two piece with Dan Boeckner and a drum machine. Later Arlen Thompson joined and “the newly formed trio rehearsed as a full band only the day before their first show. During the tour, Wolf Parade recorded and released their self-titled debut EP.” In September, Hadji Bakara joined as the keyboardist. A year later “the band traveled to Portland, Oregon to record with Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. Brock had recently signed the band to Sub Pop when he was an A&R man for the label at the time.”  There is surprise that Wolf Parade’s early work is heavily influenced by Isaac and the crew over at Modest Mouse.  The similarities still exist with “Cry, Cry, Cry” to a lesser extent as each band stands firmly on their own footing well enough!!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

This is Wolf Parade’s first release in seven years. In 2011 the band announced they were going into an indefinite hiatus, but in early 2016 they were back together and expecting to record another album. (More info on the Bandcamp page for the album)

At moments it sounds like Spencer sounds like Singer/Songwriter Pete Yorn. The music itself is very 90’s Indie Rock with 80’s influenced synth parts. Kind of like the early era of The Flaming Lips and the aforementioned Modest Mouse.

The sound is warm when the synths are present otherwise it sounds like garage rock with an indie flavor. The instrumentation varies as the songs progress, there are elements of many sub-genres like post punk, garage rock, indie rock, some pop and others. That is why there are such a strange mix of influences/sounds kind of like… There are also influences R.E.M. or even The Violent Femmes. At moments they sound kind of like Ours or even a more poppy Muse. The album almost sounds like it belongs in a 90s coming of age film (calling Molly Ringwald!)

Track-by-Track:

Lazarus Online – As an opening track it introduction to what part of the album has in store. The vocal style is introduced and he doesn’t stray too far from it throughout the album. There are some synths and keyboard parts but they do not dominate much. It is mostly a new Radio Rock track.

You’re Dreaming – This track introduces the other part of what you will hear, upbeat repetitive synth parts and almost Pop sounding tracks. The music is very patterned; there are some vocals then the synth comes back and then vocals again. The way the vocals are processed makes it seem very dream like. It isn’t a bad thing, it just makes the song seem like it does come from a different place.

Valley Boy – This is a track that has a wall of sound with the vocals almost inaudible when the other’s instruments are playing. But there are parts where there is no music and brief moments of only vocals which is helpful. Going back to that “sounds like it’s from a movie” thing, this sounds like it would go after a scene of a friend moving away and then coming back and talking to someone they left behind.

Incantation – This song’s style goes back to what the first song set up. It has a sing along feel, not like a kid’s song, but one you sing to in the car when it comes on the radio. It is a night driving song. (Mainly because it has a distant feel and keeps focus but also distracts a little bit.)

Flies on the Sun – This song almost sounds like a Fuel song. It is a slow, get your lighters out type of song. It sounds like a song that would play after an emotional fight in this imaginary film that happened in my head while I listened to the album.

Baby Blue – After the almost Foreplay (an intro by Boston) sounding intro we go back to the Pete Yorn and Fuel sounding song that is the majority of the album. This track also adds a faster paced back end that is almost like Incantation.

Weaponized – This track is the closest to the first track. It also has an almost dance beat to the drumming until halfway through when it turns to just voice and piano. Then it slowly builds back up to the dancing beat.

Who Are Ya – Who Are Ya is a strange song compared to the rest of this album. It has a very familiar sound that I can’t place for the life of me… At the end it has almost Emerson Lake and Palmer feeling keyboard parts at the end.

Am I an Alien Here – This song sounds like the sequel to Valley Boy and You’re Dreaming in the nonexistent movie for this in my head. It sounds like an almost triumphant song but has a blueness to it that keeps it from feeling happy. Much like the I in the song itself I guess.

Artificial Life – Is the most Post-Punk sounding song on this album. There are synths and repeating rhythms. The vocals are delivered in faster motion, than most of the other’s songs. It also sounds like the first track of the album.

King of Piss and Paper – This song feels like it is a continuation, or a part two, of Am I an Alien Here. They both have a similar sonic feel. This song is slightly darker in the lyrics but lighter in the instruments.

Band Live

Final Thoughts:
Reading over the review makes it seem like I did not like the album, but I did I really enjoy how they combine classic rock sounds with newer more modern rock. This is a good and solid album you should definitely take a listen if the comparisons I made interest you, definitely pick this one up or take a listen HERE.

Additional Links:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/WolfParadeMusic/about/?ref=page_internal

http://www.wolfparade.com/

https://wolfparade.bandcamp.com/album/cry-cry-cry

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Parade


Earth Drive “Stellar Drone” Album Review + Stream…

Earth Drive

Stellar Drone – CD // DD

Raging Planet – released June 10, 2017 (DD) & October 20, 2017 (CD)

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

 

Lineup:
Hermano Marques – Vocals and guitar
Luis Silva – Bass
Luis Eustáquio – Drums
Sara Antunes – Vocals

 

Previous Releases:
2014 Known by the Ancients
2015 Planet Mantra

 

Tracklist:
Lactomeda 01:49
Known by the Ancients 07:01
Dead Blood for the Royal Weather 07:14
Two Temple Place 09:36
Stellar Drone 10:59
Are we Drowning in Digits 06:13
Magical Train 05:07

 

 

Review:
The band have their album described as an “Addictive cosmic journey, one entrancing hybrid embracing heavy psych riffs and sweet vocal harmonies.” The album does have those elements of that. When Hermano is singing it sounds like Jane’s Addiction but heavier and more distortion on the voice. The parts when Sara takes over it sounds like either Belly or Hole. When they sing together it sounds almost new, but still has those influences. So in shorter terms; they gave their album a good description.

Track-by-Track:

Lactomeda – Is a Spanish term for the Milky Way Collision with Andromeda. The cover even seems to be depicting it. The song is a collision of Noise Rock and Space Rock. It is almost sludgy for a noise song but in pace but it is also fast for a space song. It is a good intro for what the rest of the album holds.

Known by the Ancients – Here is where the Jane’s Addiction comes in (Especially in the 3 minute area). This song is more of noise than of space origin. This is a heavy rock song, Hermano comes in at the last two minutes and makes the song seem even heavier.

Dead Blood for the Royal Weather – This is one of the more radio friendly songs, even though it is eight minutes. It plays it safe and doesn’t do anything too crazy. It stays on the cusp of being space and noise.

Two Temple Place – This is the first true Space Rock sounding sounds and as it moves along it introduces some of the harmonies the description on bandcamp mentions. It is a slow song with slow vocals with stretched out chords with reverb and drum fill. That is until the 3 minute mark; more drums and distortion to the guitar is added and everything gets slightly faster. At around the four minute mark the tempo changes again and is like Known by the Ancients.

Stellar Drone (Favorite track) – This track is more spacey than the previous track but it is also faster and more distorted and changes tempo a few more times.

Are we Drowning in Digits – This song is almost like a continuation of Two Temple Place. It sounds very similar but has more “Normal” Rock influences.

Magical Train – This is the most radio friendly track and could have been released as a single to promote the album. It is also the song that reminds my the most of Hole (the first album.) Sara really goes in on this track and gives a great performance. It is like the previous track but stays on the heavy rock side of music.

Pro Band Pic

Review (Continued):
Musically, Earth Drive are bringing back the 90’s Noise Rock and helping to bring back Space Rock (in the more expansive tracks). During the mostly instrumental parts it sounds almost like a soundtrack to a late 80’s sci-fi movie. In some ways it sounds like it is two separate ideas for an album that were pieced together but it is done well so it doesn’t sound too different. To paraphrase the TV Series “Stranger Things” – ‘The Upside Down'”.

This is a very easy first listen and is also very accessible because the stretches of odyssey are in between more pop/rock radio-ish oriented tracks. If you have any interest in Space Rock or a modern take on it with influences with 90’s Noise Rock, you should take a listen.

 There are two choices either from the Raging Planet (For a physical and/or digital) Bandcamp HERE or the band’s HERE !!! (Where you can get the full digital discography)

Links:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/earthdrivesound/about/?ref=page_internal

Album Promo


Octopussy “Dwarfs and Giants” Album Review + Stream…

OCTOPUSSY

Dwarfs and Giants – CD // Digital Download

Independent: Released – Nov 10th, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Jan Babiński – vocals
Konrad Ciesielski – drums
Piotr Danielewicz – guitars
Michał Banasik – guitars
Marcin Bąkowski – bass guitar
Michał Koziorowski – keys

 

 

Review:

Ring ring… Ring ring…

(Man on receiver) – Hi! You’ve reached Octopussy. How can we help you?

(Caller) Hi this is the late 60’s and early 70’s! Who am I speaking with? We want our sound back.

(Octopussy) – Well you certainly called the right people. Where should we start?

(60’s/70’s) – How about some funky, bass driven rock?

(Octopussy) – Can do

(60’s/70’s) – Hendrix inspired guitar work?

(Octopussy) – Check

(60’s/70’s) – Disco vocals?!?

(Octopussy) – uhhhh… let’s keep that to one track…

(60’s/70’s) – I was only kidding on that one.

(Octopussy) – Well too late. You’re getting it. It fits with the funk track anyway. We’ll stick to a more bluesy, psychedelic groove for the rest of the album. Maybe a splash of southern rock but not too much.  Sound okay for ya?

 

Band Pic

 

(60’s/70’s) – So how about the vocals on the remaining tracks?

(Octopussy) – We’re going with a mix of smooth melodic, and raspy blues… plus some heavily distorted screams and speech.

(60’s/70’s) – Uhh.. screams?

(Octopussy) – Don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure it works within the context of the album.

(60’s/70’s) – In that case, we demand a ballad.

(Octopussy) – Sure. But it’s going to be trippy as fuck and really short.

(60’s/70’s) – I feel you don’t much like compromise.

(Octopussy) – Not at all

(60’s/70’s) – Great. I can’t wait to hear it.

(Reader) – Me too.

Uhhhhhhhhhh…. OK then. Links are below:

https://octopussyband.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/octopl/


Sumokem “The Guardian of Yosemite” Album Review + Stream + Vinyl Release…

Sumokem

The Guardian of Yosemite – CD // DD (released October 6, 2017)

Cursed Tongue Records – Limited Vinyl (100) // TP Edition Vinyl w/ 7″ (20)

// Jet Black Vinyl (200)

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

 

Tracklist:
Attack of the Mammoth (7:52)
Warning (6:44)
War Pipe / Rite of the Calumet (7:38)
Ogama (8:43)
Tisayac (9:34)
Mescalito/Meeting of the Half Moon (7:02)
Nantucket (10:05)
Emerald [digital-only bonus track] (4:05)

Band Members:
Present:
Jacob Sawrie – Vox/Rhythm
Drew Skarda – Percussion
Tyler Weaver – Lead
Dustin Weddle – Bass

Past:
Josh Ingram (RIP) – Lead
Alan Wells – Bass

 

 

To say the least, 2017 has been a huge year for heavy music. The year has granted us several new releases, most notably Mastodon’s Emperor of Sand. However, the music world often functions like archaeology – The deeper you dig, the more treasures you will find such as the gargantuan slab of Doom that is Sumokem’s “The Guardian of Yosemite”.

When I say gargantuan, I mean it. Each tune on this release is not only long, but feels like it has been custom-tailored to be as gigantic as possible, from the performance to the production to the composition. Every riff hits like a Warhammer to the temple and it wouldn’t feel right any other way. Each member is extremely in tune with one another and they really feel like a single living and breathing organism.

Sumokem’s Special Vinyl Release Date – Friday, January 12th, 2018

Limited Red_Gold_Wax_100

http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/product/sumokem-the-guardian-of-yosemite-2lp-ltd-blood-gold-edition

Special credit, though, goes to their lead guitarist. Every member is excellent at their instrument, but the guitar goes above and beyond to ensure that each and every solo is searing and quick, keeping the listener’s attention while still progressing the song further and further down into heavier and heavier territory as the album goes on.

It’s unbelievable just how heavy this album can be. It opens like a freight train, but by the time the epic-length dirge and album high point “Nantucket” begins, you can only be floored by how well Sumokem brings music back to its primordial roots. There is no feeling greater than finding a band that is both classic and novel – one that both pushes the boundaries of music while reminding us why we love it in the first place, and with its ultra-heavy prehistoric jams, Sumokem’s “The Guardian of Yosemite” has given us just that.

Band Pic


Container “Mountains of Gaia” Album Review + Stream…

 

CONTAINER

Mountains of Gaia – Limited Edition 12” Vinyl // Digital Download 

Independent: Released – March 26, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Daan – vocals
Boudewijn – bass
Rutger – guitar
Erwin – drums

Location:
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Review:
One might expect and album that opens with a piano excerpt from “Entry of the Gladiators”, more commonly known as the song they play at the circus as the clowns pile out of their tiny car and climb on their unicycles to juggle bowling pins, or break into a tumbling routine or whatever else clowns do… well you might expect an album that opens with this to be a bit of a joke.

 

 

But you’re not quite right. While Mountains of Gaia does have its fun moments, most are relegated to the opening track which is appropriately named “Circus”. Once the piano fades behind the percussion, the bass takes over, carrying the tune while distorted screams point us in a different direction. Thankfully, the screams give way to more melodic, though still filtered, singing. Really, this is where the lightheartedness goes out the window and we begin a musical adventure.

“Backstabber” takes us to a completely different locale of Container’s sound with a little 70’s Black Sabbath worship and an edge all their own. It’s a bit stoner and a bit “garage”, as they put it. It’s clear listening to the band that this was recorded in a studio, but I still think garage is a very apt term to describe a certain rawness or lack of refinement in Container’s style.

 

Band Pic

 

“Challenger” is an 8 minute, long, slow piece that musically reminds me of the Doors. Maybe Riders on the Storm or LA Woman, but then there’s some spoken word reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, if you can imagine these two together. That’s only the first couple of minutes. It picks up with more of a Vol. 4 ambiance before slowing again to that Doors-y, wandering-through-the-dessert-on-peyote feeling with one last increase in pace to close it out.

Even though we’re only about halfway through, it’s hard now to look back and remember the silliness Mountains of Gaia opened with. The album leads us down a path of variety with different tracks blending the (aforementioned) base elements, stoner rock & “garage rock”, with a touch of post-rock, punk and hardcore. The result is an eclectic adventure that might seem to stray yet is uniquely Container. It’s almost surreal how after the 8th and final, the title track, another 8 minute opus taking us through the Mountains of Gaia until the music ends. Surreal, I mean if we decide to press play and take the trip again. We realize we’re started back at Circus. Is it a metaphor?

 

Live Band Pic

 


Matthew James and the Rust Belt Union “Impromptu Musicals for the Skeptic” Review + Album Stream…

MATTHEW JAMES
AND THE
RUST BELT UNION

Impromptu Musicals For The Skeptic – Vinyl // DD

Sump Pump Records – released September 14, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Formed:
January 11, 2016

Hometown:
Rust Belt, USA (roughly in a garage, somewhere on the east side of Des Moines, IA)

Genre:
self-described ‘Midwest Junk Soul’

Band Members:
Wrex – Drums.
Larry – Upright Bass
Nathan – Pedal Steel
Brad – Guitar
Matthew – Acoustic / vocal.

Previous Release:
“Live From The Loft” (2016)

 

 

Review:
When I hear the term ‘rust-belt’, I am immediately in mind of that region of the country that begins in western New York and traverses west through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, ending in northern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southeastern Wisconsin. Previously known as the industrial heartland of America, Industry has been declining in this region since the mid-20th century, leading to the unofficial labeling as the ‘Rust Belt’.

Including Detroit MI in it’s ‘snare’ that has served as home for Matthew,  a singer songwriter originally hailing from the ‘dirty mitten’, aka Michigan. He has been howling in microphones since 2000 and recording hand made lo-fi junk since 2006 with the formation of The Back Home in Michigan Band. He spent a few years touring with Rickett Pass, rambling around the country before settling in Des Moines Iowa. This album is singer Matthew James’ story of moving to Des Moines from his home of Detroit for a girl and leaving everything behind including music with his nationally touring string bands. The single “Goodbye” was written on that drive as heard in the lyrics. Matthew James & The Rust Belt Union refer to their brand of music as ‘Midwest Junk Soul’ and that description could not be more accurate.

Ten tracks that clock in at around 44 minutes.  Musically, what we are presented with here is a collection of compositions that fly up and down the proverbial scale of ‘type’ where we get everything from the elements of folk, gypsy, jazz, be-bop, country, bluegrass, blues, swing and rock to deliver what can only be described as a hybrid that could be described only as Midwest-junk-soul as they have aptly classified themselves.

Band Pic

Filled from the get-go, opener ‘Goodbye’ has each element described above in full force from the raspy vocals flavored with battery-acid, jangly acoustic in tow, great swing beat setting the pace as a soulful wail of lap-steel flows in and out of focus giving the body of this, and each track here a flavor typically kept in the background. Much as Primus brought ‘eh bass guitar to a new level having it out from the shadows, MJ&TRBU have brought this obscure-to-rock instrument to the forefront as well and it is amazing!!

‘Little Light In The Big Rust’ opens with a surf-slide tone over that acoustic guitar and slams right into the body of a song that makes you move!  Like it or not as the beat is infectiously hypnotic and keeps you in hold as Matthew sings of a “child crying and a mother trying” on top of a band that is as tight as any and doesn’t drop a note among the slyly-placed time shifts keep you wanting more. ‘Enthusiastic Apathetic’ opens with a slower, bluesy cadence as MJ’s vocal paints his picture over the band behind him and this pace fits this oratory like a glove, where ‘Left Foot Fail’ is country to the core complete with an upbeat ‘two-step’ rhythm line that pulls your boots to tap at the least along in response.

Shifting gears again with ‘Dying Dogs In South Carolina’, we are given another diatribe of wondering ‘why’, and when ‘Holidays’ kicks in with it’s faster upbeat tempo, it is right on time and lifts the mood again, even as Matthew slides forth with what must be an introspective perspective of what I can only guess to be a typical holiday for as he states that he said “We’re all going to Hell”…

Band Pic 2

The final four tracks represent what I would hope would a block of songs played in this particular order and could very well be the perfect ‘end-piece’ for their live set. From the soft acoustic opening of ‘600 Miles’ with it’s “Cold-moon sinking” into the ‘So broke” exclamation of ‘Tough’ through the advice of ‘It’s The Kind Of Place’ that could very well be describing a day in the life and by the time closing track ‘And We Went Drinking With Ed Love!’ hits, it is the perfect wrap-up of one HELL of a story an I found myself hitting play again after the frenetic ending section to savor it all again.

If you are looking for something that is meaty and satisfying at the same time, cured with the purity of music for the sake of music and masterful storytelling hidden behind a vocal style that will make you listen harder to catch each word, THIS is the record for you. Support them live if they come to a garage / tavern / library / or any other venue near you, play it to death for everyone you know and keep it LOUD!!

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Traffic Death “Dead End” Album Review + Stream…

TRAFFIC DEATH

Dead End – Vinyl // Digital Download

Sump Pump Records – Released – Dec 10, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

Line Up:
Nate “Fetus” Phillips – Vocals
Andrew Smeltzer – Bass
Brian Greenfield – Drums
Garan Drozd – Guitars

Review:
Traffic Death is certainly an interesting band name. I figured I’d dig into this bad boy while I was stuck in the passenger seat of a large suburban-type vehicle on a long road trip as I tilted my seat back for a nap. Don’t let my nap fool you, this album is heavy as fuck – I just happen to sleep incredibly well with loud abrasive music in my ears. What I can’t sleep through is shit music. It wasn’t long before I nodded off and found myself in a very non-vanilla sex dream about Miley Cyrus that unfortunately ended too soon. Whether Traffic Death’s lullabies inspired my sweet images of leather and chains and Miley, I can’t say.

So now that I’m fully awake I’m giving Dead End a more serious listen. Traffic Death describe themselves as a “high speed, violent crossover 4 piece”. I see no reason to re-invent the wheel here as they’ve nailed their sound in six words though I will elaborate later. Near as I can tell, Dead End is their 3rd exclusive release but they also have a split release with The Lurking Corpses… whoever they are (I’m going to check them out for sure).

Dead End starts out with “Spontaneous Decomposition/Nothing to See Here” which reminds me a lot of M.O.D. and Billy Milano. I hear aggressive, thrashy, unapologetic hardcore with a touch of dark humor. However, it’s not long into this ingeniously titled tune before it steps up a notch, both musically and with the vocals leaving my comparison behind moving to a more Converge-cult sound.

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“Mandatory Sentence” opens with some seriously fun speed metal guitar work from Garan Drozd that I just was not expecting after hearing its predecessor. What comes next, though, caught me completely off guard. Nate Phillips rips a speed metal scream reminiscent of early Tom Araya. The rest of the track goes somewhere else but the change in direction is completely fluid.

I’m not going to track-by-track this album because the rest of it is more of the same. Clever and darkly comedic song titles perhaps over-use the “/” to translate multiple concepts. There’s a merge of, or shift into and out of, several styles. It seems to be random but if you go onto the band’s (hyperlinked) Facebook about page and read their influences and you know even half the bands, it all makes perfect sense.

My biggest complaint about Dead End is the fact that it’s only 24 minutes long. So even in waking, Dead End is a would-be wet dream cut entirely too short.

Additional Links:
https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/dead-end

https://www.facebook.com/TrafficDeath/

Trafficdeath.bandcamp.com

 

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