Album Review – Frozen Planet…1969 “Electric Smokehouse”

Frozen Planet….1969

Electric Smokehouse – Release January 11th, 2017

Headspin Records & Pepper Shaker Records – Vinyl / CD / DD

 

 

You awaken from your artificial sleep, roused by the pulsings and rumblings within your starship’s harmonic hull.  Taking the helm, you notice you’ve just exited the wormhole, and you’re approaching your ultimate destination.  You’ve traveled both time and space to experience this place, said to be unlike any other in the known universe.  The light of this foreign galaxy burns the last semblance  of slumber from your eyes.  You slowly see the first light glisten and sparkle off it for the first time, the Frozen Planet….1969.

 

Electric Smokehouse_Album Cover

 

 

You’ve brought no crew – this is a solo trip.  You alone can see the stars shimmer off the planet’s icy ionosphere, you alone will hear the starship sing as its encounters the gaseous upper atmosphere.  You alone will feel the heat of the ship’s hull as it dares its delicate descent towards the frozen field below.  Slamming on the retro thrusters, you carefully calculate the angle of entry and brac for landing.  The impact is minimal, and you quickly gather up your supplies and lower the stairs towards the icy ground below.  Bracing yourself for the frigid cold and chill winds, you grab a fur-lined overcoat and pull the hood over your long hair.  The oxygen is rich here, though it will become thinner as you climb the frost covered mountains towards the ominous Electric Smokehouse.

You wander past a frozen lake, and see Barbarella’s starship, desperately in need of repairs.  You know that she’s about to be attacked by a gang of children bearing dolls with snapping metal teeth, and if you were to take the time to simply rescue her, you could make sweet, sweet love to her on a featherbed inside a giant sled propelled by a sail.  Alas, you also know that there’s no time for such diversions, and another will be along shortly to ensure her safety.  Your pace quickens, and you begin the steep ascent up the sacred mountain, on top of which lies the Electric Smokehouse, an elusive place chock full of sonic daydreams and mystical soundscapes.  As you climb, placing hand over hand and foot over foot, you gaze up in wonder at the small shack resting stoically at the top of the mountain.  It approaches faster and faster, and soon you catch the first wisps of rhythm echoing from within the smokehouse’s wooden walls.  Soon the frantic pounding of the drums is joined by the throbbing undulation of bass guitar deeply digging into a hypnotic groove.  The higher the climb, the more apparent it becomes that the strange noises your heard in the background are from a single six string guitar which speaks in sonic tongues, repeating what seem like mind-warping mantras over and over in some strange electric language that penetrates straight into the inner depths of your psyche.

 

Band Shot

 

Finally reaching the summit, you set off down the path towards the small smokehouse, taking in the sights of the planet’s three suns reflecting off the snowy peaks and frozen valleys.  The music from within continues to intensify as you open the front door.  You’re greeted by three men, who introduce themselves simply as Paul on guitar, Lachian on bass, and Frank on drums.  They speak to you without missing a beat or even a single note, and somehow their soft voices are briefly projected above the heavy jams emanating from their instruments.  The guitar seamlessly shifts from searing leads to heavy riffs, shimmering chords to strange echoed oscillations.  The bass works the groove, while every once in awhile adding in a slice of melody or jammy leads, and the drums alternate between busy rhythms and stoic understatement.  Your ears are treated to all manner of otherwordly sounds as the trio jams on endlessly, for what seems like hours, days even week.  All too soon, your supplies are deplete and it’s time to make the long return trek to your planet of origin.

As you head back to your spacecraft, you can’t help but think that fans of Earthless may also find a trip to  the Frozen Planet….1969 to be quite a worthwhile venture.  You climb back aboard your ship, engage the autopilot, open up a fresh wormhole and prepare to enter your cryogenic sleep, with all heavy jams you’ve just taken in still bouncing around in your cerebellum.  You smile as the gentle psychedelic slumber overtakes you, and you ponder what new grand adventure will await you when you awaken….

By Andy “Dingo Ate My Baby” Beresky


Album Review – Child “Blueside”

Child

Blueside

Kozmik Artifactz Records – DD/Vinyl/CD – December 2nd!

 

Logo and Album Image

 

A lot of times I don’t particularly like a band’s name.  I like the name Child for these guys.  They play unabashed, slow-burning, soulful blues.  Blues is really the birthplace of rock, so to think of this Australian three piece as the child of the blues….yeah, that works for me.  What I think totally doesn’t work is their biography, which is something I also often have problems with.  I understand that it’s a PR person’s job to try to hit to all fields, to try to cross promote, though there’s also crossing a line that just doesn’t fit or feel right.  In this case, it’s calling Child a mixture of doom and blues.  There’s no doom to be found here. Zero. None.  These guy have more in common with Jimi Hendrix, Free, Firebird and Gov’t Mule than they do Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus.  Just tell it like it is – no seasoned listener or reviewer is going to listen to this album and think, “Oh wow, this is really doomy!!” I’ll admit that there are a couple heavier parts thrown in for variety, though that isn’t the focus, and it just doesn’t have the feel of doom.  Heaviness and doom aren’t mutually inclusive.  I know “doom” is hot right now, though it’s okay not to be a doom band in this day and age.  Blueside is a great album for exactly what it is, though to connect it with doom is extremely misleading, and I’d never want to intentionally mislead whoever happens to read these reviews.

Child’s sound is primal, thick, fat and full.  There’s a laid back, deep and ever-present groove to the five tracks on this album.  The vocals of Mathias Northway are soaring and soulful, flying above his guitar’s classic blues licks and the rhythm section’s relentless roar.  And man….can this dude rip it up on guitar when it’s time to solo – his leads are like liquid, super fluid and thoroughly expressive.  Drummer Michael Lowe and bassist Danny Smith are equally impressive, providing a swinging backdrop for the songs.  Each member of this trio really knows when to step up when it’s time to stand out, and more importantly, when to just stay in the pocket of the relentless groove.

 

Cool Band Shot_Logo

 

The first track, “Nailed To The Ceiling”, starts out pretty mellow, emphasizing the strength of the vocals.  It slowly building momentum before exploding into a bubbling climax of wah wah guitar and thick riffs.  There’s some swirling organs in the background that reinforce the soulful side of the song.  This track pretty much sets the pace and template for the album, and Child don’t really deviate from that formula, which is a good thing.  Why fix it if it ain’t broken, right??  Sure, the second song, “It’s Cruel To Be Kind” brings the heavier guitar parts to the forefront early in the song, though it quickly breaks down into some clean, Hendrix inspired hooks before kicking the dirt back in for a killer chorus.  What makes this track are the constant shifts in dynamics and intensity, which are really Child’s strong suit.  While the songs are all well arranged, they’re relatively simple blues rock numbers, and they rely heavily on the band’s performances to breath life into them.  They pick up the pace a bit at the end of this one, and cap things off with an extended fuzzed out jam.

“Blue Side Of The Collar” is the shortest track on the album, clocking in at around six minutes.  As you’d probably expect by now, it starts off with laid back, with classic and clean blues licks, and builds up to a wall of distorted guitars on top of the throbbing, pulsing rhythm section.  The vocals really shine on this one, especially in the way that the guitar plays off of and echoes their sentiments.  “Dirty Woman” breaks the mold a bit by starting things off nice and heavy from the start, and has some really cool female backing vocals that make for a different feel.  Child also punctuate some parts of the song with little organ breaks that add a lot also. It’s my favorite track on the album, because it rocks a bit harder than the others, and the intro riff that rears its head from time to time throughout the song doesn’t just sound like a standard from the established blues canon.  Naturally, they break it down for a nice jam in the middle, with a sweet clean guitar solo that allows the rhythm section and the organ to shine through a bit more.  This builds once again into a momentous crescendo of full throttle riffs and leads, ending in some spaced out effects that lead into the final track, “The Man.”  This is the longest track, and by now, you should pretty much know what to expect.  It’s a slow, swinging blues rock track with all the elements I’ve already listed numerous times, so I’ll spare you the repetition at this point.  What I can say is that about three quarters of the way through the song, the drop the album’s heaviest riff followed by some of its most intense soloing.  By the end of the track, all three of these dudes are just going nuts on their instruments, and it’s fine conclusion to the album.

If you’re a blues or classic rock aficionado, I don’t see why you wouldn’t love this album, and while I can see how this may not appeal at all to fans of extreme metal, there’s an intensity and immediacy to Blueside that could easily win over those who are more inclined to heavier fare.  My one critique is that I’d like to see them break away from simple blues rock, and perhaps add in some more progressive elements or quirky songwriting, though that’s really a minor complaint.  Child do what they do, and they do it very well.  This is only their second album, so it’s going to be very interesting to see where they take things from here on in.

 

Reviewed by Andy “Dinkweed” Beresky

 


Review – The Balls ‘Self Tilted’ Album

The Balls
‘The Balls’
Self Released – CD/DD

 

Band Logo

 

In the last review I wrote, I essentially defended a band’s decision to name themselves something silly and/or generic. I’m not going to do that here. I’m going to break character here a bit, because this part isn’t exactly a review, it’s friendly advice: change your fucking name. Immediately, while you’re not branded with it yet. This is your opportunity to do so with the minimum of consequences. It’s not only a stupid name, it not only lacks any descriptive quality to reference the band’s sound, it’s not only completely ubiquitous to the point of rendering any Google search to find any info on your band completely pointless, there are also other, more established bands named The Balls….for some odd reason. One is some self-proclaimed old guys playing instrumental biker prog surf rock, whatever that is, and they’ve been around awhile. One of them is from Worcester Mass, pretty close to home for me, and they’re some kind of juvenile sex joke punk band, for which the name is actually fitting. My 2 cents – let them have it, you’re better off without it. You’re risking the potential to be confused with, lumped in with, or even sued by one of these existing acts. See the bands Middian And Husky for details on that last bit….

With that out of the way, I can take off my asshole hat, and dawn my reviewer hat. As indicated above, I had a bit of a hard time tracking down any actual information on The Balls, though I believe that they’re a power trio from Melbourne Australia. I have no idea who is in the band, or who plays what. They sound like a meat and potatoes rock band coming from the old school stoner rock tradition, with the post-Kyuss style of vocals, down-tuned guitars, and a big rhythm section. The singer reminds me a bit of the guy from Dozer. I’m not a huge fan of that style of vocals, though I tolerate them because they’re also ubiquitous when it comes to this style. That being said, the vocals on this debut album are The Balls strongest suit.

Pic of Band

 

The album kicks things off with “4th Of July”, a ripping riff-fest with some dark, heavy vibes racing through the melodies. It’s got a propulsive groove that’s set in motion by a bass intro before the guitar goes full throttle. We’re talking about that kind of up-tempo biker rock that Orange Goblin so effectively harnessed with their breakthrough album, The Big Black. In my mind, this is the territory where these guys are at their best. Throughout the course of the album, they definitely try a few different approaches stylistically. The second tune, “Not A Word”, is a bit more mid-tempo, though it retains the dark melodic senses and highlights the soaring vocals. They lose me a bit with the third song, “Runaway”, as it’s a bit more plodding during the verses and a bit more buttrock in the chorus. It’s a partying, AC/DC kind of tune that reminds me of the first Bad Wizard album, bare-bones, bluesy and mean, though I for one miss the darker overtones.

Things slow down and get a bit more atmospheric and slow with “I Forget”, which showcases a bit of the singer’s range and versatility in the lower registers as he croons through the first portion of the tune. They follow that up with another slow burning ballad, “Tragedy”, which once again features some most triumphant vocals in the chorus and a decent yet minimalistic guitar solo, one of the album’s few, and an addictive, groove-laced ending. They bring things back to the quicker tempos with the last songs, a one-two punch of “The Easy Truth”, which is easily the album’s heaviest (and shortest) track, and then “Alibi”, the album’s longest track. “The Easy Truth” is my easily favorite track on the album, as the guitar work is the most distinctive and original, the singing is really over the top in that blown out, shredding your vocal chords kind of way, and the arrangements aren’t predictable. It covers a lot of ground for such a short tune. “Alibi” is pretty much in the same vein as “4th Of July” stylistically, although more drawn out and dramatic in the spacious ending.

This is a solid debut from an up and coming band that has a lot going for them. It’s obvious that they’re a newer band trying to figure out what works for them, and I’d personally like to hear a bit more fretboard pyrotechnics from the guitar department. Adding a second lead guitarist could be a smart move, adding oomph to the overall sound while allowing for some more fiery, energetic solos and clever arrangements. That’s just me though, as what they’re doing now is working well enough to expand upon. If you’re into any of the bands that I’ve name dropped throughout the review, do yourself a solid and give these guys a listen.

Reviewed By Andy “Dylan Thomas” Beresky
Editor – Taste Nation LLC