Saturday, 30 September 2017

STROBE - THE BUNKER SESSIONS (Sulatron Records LP, CD).

New from Germany’s premier Space Rock/Psychedelic record label, Sulatron Records, comes a previously unreleased gem from the cult British Space Rock band Strobe. Strobe formed in 1990 with their first album See Beyond the Sun, released in 1991 by Mystic Stones receiving very positive reviews, the Melody Maker picked up on the vibe of the record and wrote "Strobe retread a no-man’s land between Loop/Hawkwind experimentation and Cure-style catharsis....Strobe don’t seem tied down by anything, the three guitars soar, the sound is full, dynamic and masterful...." Another four albums on different labels followed before Strobe split in 2001, hitting their peak around the mid 1990s with the albums 'Maya' (1992) and 'The Circle Never Ends' (1994) ……….however they were a band out of time, existing in an era when tastes had changed in the UK and many of the Psychedelic bands had ditched guitars in favour of samplers and dance beats, destined to remain a cult underground band regardless of the quality of the music. Sulatron have rescued the tapes from a session the band recorded for what would have been their fourth album and are releasing them into a world that is now ready for a band that in certain circles were considered to one the best British Space Rock outfits ever.  

Recorded totally live with no overdubs at the Bunker Studios in Bedford sometime in 1994, this album is more representative of the band’s sound than any of their studio albums ever where. It’s raw but with a line up that includes three guitarists Strobe create expansive soundscapes with a warm lush sound based on hypnotic flowing rhythms where the keyboards/synths take more of a backseat. The album opens with the slowburn instrumental ‘Sun Birth’ before kicking into the Loop meets Hawkwind at the edge of space groove of ‘Into Your Skin’……….guitars swirl, dive and soar around a rock solid rhythm section driving the the band to the further out. Maybe this is indicative of many Psychedelic bands being wary of messing with the Psych Rock template, but the Bunker Sessions, even though over 20 years old, sounds surprisingly contemporary when held up against the sound of more modern Space Rock bands………………….either that, or Strobe were so far ahead of their time it’s frightening. There is some really great tracks here…………’Chameleon Earth’ is a stompy Space Rock tune with a killer riff while the fantastic ‘Opium Dream’ with blissed out female vocals is a transmission from the narcotic netherworld. The album closes with ‘Sun Death’ which collapses into itself with a face melting squall out. An absolutely brilliant record that sounds totally modern and well worth your attention. Kudos to Sula Bassana and the rest of the people at Sulatron for rescuing this record and giving it the release it deserves.

Housed in a Comet Lulu designed sleeve and available as a limited run of 500 copies on blue vinyl and also on CD, the Bunker Sessions by Strobe is due for release 13/10/2017 and will be available from all really cool record stores and the usual suspects online. Pre-orders are being taken now at the Sulatron web site.

THE BLACK ANGELS - THE INSTITUTE, BIRMINGHAM 26/09/2017.

Arguably the most important Psych band this decade, The Black Angels, Austin’s finest band since the 13th Floor Elevators, hit the UK on a whistle stop tour promoting their recently released Death Song album. They tore a hole in the sky headlining the Saturday night at the Liverpool Psych Fest then, with the gloriously deranged A Place To Bury Strangers in tow, hit a few of the provinces with their own special brand of high octane Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll. We caught up with them again at their show in Birmingham the following Tuesday at the Institute.

Following the barely controlled mayhem of A Place To Bury Strangers is never an easy task, however The Black Angels comfortably ease into a stunning 90 minute set with the snarling, politically charged state of the Nation address ‘Currency’. With the addition of some well chosen older tunes, the set list comprised mainly of songs from the new record with the pulsing ‘I Dreamt’ and the sizzling ‘I’d Kill For You’ being particular highlights. With a barrage of eye popping visuals, The Black Angels are the consummate Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll band playing an easy blend of trippy tunes and more guitar heavy Rock songs with a solid spine of Nuggets influences, retooling them for a modern audience. Death Song is no doubt their most commercial and accessible record to date with the band slowly crossing over from their cult status to a more mainstream audience, but on their own terms. Next time this band rock up in the UK expect them to be playing much bigger halls.

Friday, 29 September 2017

CRICKETBOWS - COMMUNION EP (Mosquito Hawk Records CD, D/L).

Returning with their first record since their 2015 album, Diamonds, Dayton, Ohio’s Cricketbows have released an EP inspired equally by classic 60s and 70s bands like The Beatles, The Byrds, Little Feat, The Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac and The Grateful Dead and the wave of 80s and 90s indie stalwarts like R.E.M., The Replacements, X and Uncle Tupelo. The Communion EP features six new songs that, while still having a rich Psychedelic texture, sees the Cricketbows slowly evolving into a more refined “rural” Alt Rock band pulling together their numerous influences into something much greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Mixing short sharp bluesy tunes with more expansive Psych tinged songs, Cricketbows have crafted a set of songs with one foot in the hazy lazy late 60s/early 70s and the other in the current US Indie scene. The standout tunes have to be the squalling ‘Jupiter’ which shows that Cricketbows can rock like a beast but still cram it all into a sub 3 minute tune and ‘End Of The Night’, a song about the devastation the heroin and opiate epidemic has had on rural America. However the real gems are ‘Summer Festival Sky’ and ‘Sea Green’……………with it’s ringing Byrdsian riff and an unhurried early 70s groove ‘Summer Festival Sky’ comes on like a holy entwining of Jefferson Airplane and Heart while ‘Sea Green’ is a beautiful tune that starts with a gentle acoustic opening slowly building in intensity as it unfolds over six glorious minutes. The Communion EP is where “then” meets “now” somewhere out “there” and is well worth your time if you dig either the classic bands that have inspired this record or the newer bands tipping their hat to the past.

The Communion EP is out NOW on CD and as a digital download via Mosquito Hawk Records and you can check it out/stream it/buy it from the Cricketbows Bandcamp site here……….

DIG DEEPER - IN CENTRAL EUROPEAN TIME (Alien Agency LP).

We were first introduced to Norwegian band Dig Deeper when their politically charged Stars Tonight EP landed in our inbox a few months back. Hot on the heels of the EP release comes a new album, In Central European Time, which sounds just like the missing link between Neil Young & Crazy Horse and the 13th Floor Elevators. Heavily influenced by guitar driven Alt Rock/Americana and 60s Psychedelia, the Dig Deeper sound, with its spacious, long layered grooves and chiming guitars, is succinctly described by the band as “Norwegian Road Rock”. Sinuous guitars lines twist around dynamic drums and supple bass as songs of escape, distance, travel, identity, loss, and the search for freedom unhurriedly unfold behind singer Einar Kaupang’s heartfelt words.

In Central European Time is a concept album of sorts with six longish tracks telling the story of life as a refugee; the risk, the journey, the expectation and the sad conclusion of often being met with hostility by the rest of the world. Both heartbreakingly beautiful and strangely tripped out, it’s a record that tells stories in the tradition of American Alt-Country but from a European perspective. There is desperation to be found running through ‘How Can I Be Certain’ and ‘Stars Tonight’, peril in ‘Don’t Ask Too Much’, unfulfilled dreams in ‘Hey’, a story about the day everything changes on ‘The Ticket’, and on album closer ‘Sky Brown Sky’ we’re met with a tale about being confronted by a closed and hostile world. It’s also a great guitar record infused with a prominent Psychedelic sensibility……….Country Rock meets twisted West Coast Psychedelia head on with ‘Sky Brown Sky’ being a massive 10 minute Psych Rock wig out as soaring fuzz and reverb drenched guitars dance to the death. In Central European Time is well worth a listen if you like your Americana a bit messed up and dig stuff like Roky Erickson, Magnolia Electric Co., The Byrds, Son Volt, Dream Syndicate, Drive-By Truckers and Green On Red……………it’s like having your whiskey spiked with L.S.D.

Due for release 07/10/2017 via Alien Agency, In Central European Time is available on vinyl only and should be available from the usual on line retailers and all the best vinyl stores.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

ZONE SIX - ZONE SIX (Sulatron Records LP, CD).

One from the Sulatron archives………………….evolving from the German Psychedelic Rock band Liquid Visions, Zone Six were only meant to play one show and split up. Here we are 20 years later and they are still recording and playing live (when Sula Bassana’s commitments to Electric Moon allow) and to celebrate band’s 20 years anniversary the Zone Six self titled debut gets a long overdue reissue. Originally a very limited cassette edition in 1997 before being issued as a CD only release by Early Bird records in 1998 is now available on vinyl for the first time ever.

Taken from the master of the original cassette (sans the vocals added for the CD release) and sprawling over two sides of vinyl, the debut Zone Six album is a tripped out, trancey Space Rock improvisation that takes in scorching Acid Rock, spatial Dub and primitive Electronica as it floats gently to the far side of the cosmos. Side One of the record features Hans-Peter Ringholz’s firey Acid Rock guitar improvisations before slowly easing into a spacey dub passage with echoed scattershot Psychedelic guitar and deep space bass to the fore. Side two is even further out, first expanding on the crusty dub grooves that closed side one, mixing in Middle Eastern flavours before collapsing in a glorious lycergic mess of twisted guitars and primitive electronics………it’s a trip People. Raw and with minimal overdubs, the Zone Six debut has matured well with age and holds it’s own when matched up against the more modern Space Rock bands (even though Psychedelic music does seem to exist in a weird temporal stasis where time is a pretty vague concept)……………..although well received by the Psychedelic community on it’s release in 1997, it’s a record that sounds far more relevant today and will now reach a bigger audience of heads that are going to have their minds blown. Well recommended for children of the bong.

Due for release 13/10/2017 on green vinyl limited to 500 copies and also on CD, the Zone Six reissued debut album will be available from groovy record shops, the usual on line sellers and direct from the Sulatron web site where pre-orders are being taken now.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

MINIATURES - JESSAMINES (Saint Marie Records LP, CD, D/L). CARTA - THE SAND COLLECTORS DREAM (Saint Marie Records LP, D/L). CRASH CITY SAINTS - ARE YOU FREE? (Saint Marie Records LP, CD, D/L). WHEN THE SUN HITS - WITHIN YOUR EYES EP (Saint Marie Records LP, D/L). LOTTE KESTNER - OFF WHITE (Saint Marie Records LP, CD, D/L).

We have had a batch of new releases that we want to tell you about from Saint Marie Records outta Texas………they are one of the more adventurous Noise Pop/Shoegaze/Alt Rock labels that look towards the future (with one foot firmly in the past) and don’t think that when Lush decided to split was the day the music died. Dig it kidz.
Originally from New Zealand but now based in Melbourne Australia, Miniatures have been creating cinematic and emotive soundscapes since 2012 with several EPs already released and their full debut album, Jessamines, hits the racks in October. With an absolute Tsunami of spiraling, twisted, distorted guitars and processed beats, Miniatures drag Dream Pop into the now, layering rich tones, beautiful textures, cascading melodies and angelic vocals, building soundscapes that rise and fall like the ocean tide. Guitars wash over you until the wave of sound sweeps you out to sea, swirling in a reverb riptide and drowning in delay. Infused with a late 80s Indie Pop sensibility (listen carefully and you will hear the influence of The Sundays, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Smashing Pumpkins, even a hint of Johnny Marr’s guitar adventurism), Jessamines radiates with shards of brilliant light where crystalline guitars tumble and cascade over a bedrock of supple bass playing and inventive drum programming as the album slowly reveals a myriad of textures, moods and colours…………simply beautiful. If you are looking for comparisons, the sound of the now defunct The School Of Seven Bells isn’t that wide off the mark. Due for release 06/10/2017, Jessamines will be available on vinyl, CD and as a digital download.


Outta California comes West Coast Psychedelic/Post Rock/Alt Rock band Carta with a new album of mesmerizing songs. Led by guitarist Kyle Monday, evolving from a loose collection of L.A musicians in 2002 to an actual real live band, Carta have released a series of critically acclaimed albums over the years, being favorably compared to artists such as Gregor Samsa, Tarwater, Stars of the Lid, Low and This is Your Captain Speaking along the way. The Sand Collector’s Dream is the fourth release from the band and no doubt their best to date, it’s a beautiful mix of abstract guitars and ambient electronica that is really hard to tie down to just one genre. Flitting from expansive soundscapes to twisted, stripped back Americana and most places inbetween, Carta have crafted a beautiful record of modern American psychedelic music that twists and turns elegantly through two sides of vinyl. It’s a spellbinding record, with most of the band chipping in on lead vocal duties and guest vocalist Odessa Chen, blending with the men in a series of duets, really stealing the show. Their voices blend together like a Lee Hazlewood with more “haze” and a Nancy Sinatra with more “sin”. It’s an album of vast stylistic breadth, the band’s description of their sound as “paranoid inner-vacuum micro-dub and ruminative post-space hypno-drone” doesn’t really do it justice……………. Just say it’s the missing link between Another Green World and tripped out Alt Rock, what the band so eloquently refers to as “the eternal internal struggle” as they trace a journey from entanglement to solitude, from optimism to defeat. It’s that feeling when your mind is clear but everything around you is fog.  This is the way the world ends—not with a bang, and not with a whimper, just beauty & regret. Out NOW on vinyl and as a digital download.

Are You Free? By Crash City Saints has been out for a few months now. It’s a concept album of sorts about growing up in the early 90s in the small American town of Kalamazoo (it’s in Michigan……we had to Google it) and the influence that Shoegaze and Alt Rock had on their outlook on life and their possible futures. As the album is a “journey” of sonic awakening, it pulls in influences from the era mixing up familiar leftfield Alt Rock and Shoegaze tropes to tell a story over the course of twelve tracks that hails the significance of the music as the record unfolds and is housed in a cover that replicates the style of 23 Envelope/Vaughn Oliver’s iconic artwork for 4AD. Crash City Saints have been previously described as “a powerpop band in shoegaze clothing” or as the band says their music is like “a sandblaster spraying sugar” which ain’t far from the truth. Are You Free? Is awash with a sweet Pop sensibility colliding with the squall of Noise Pop guitars overdriven to infinity, showering sparks and blowing minds. It’s a slow burner of an album, taking about half the record to really get up to speed………………however when the Madchester baggy beats and swirling fuzzed out guitars of ‘Spirit Photography’ kick in then Are You Free? hits full velocity and escapes gravity s pull. The second half of the record is a love letter to the early 90s British Shoegaze bands with Crash City Saints at times sounding more like MBV than MBV…………………it’s a cool record. Fans of early Brit Shoegaze will really love this album as it is a distillation of everything that was great about late 80s/early 90s Underground Indie Rock music. It may not be original, but that’s not the point. Out NOW on vinyl and CD, you can check it out/stream it/buy it here………

Calling your band When The Sun Hits takes away any ambiguity about where your major influence/inspiration is coming from straight away…………..however the 5 piece Nottingham band are more that mere Slowdive copyists. Behind the crashing waves of blissed out guitars there is a steely Post Punk backbone and a dynamic propulsive rhythm section. New from Saint Marie Records, When The Sun Hits’ 6 track Immersed Within Your Eyes EP mixes together expansive soundscapes (check the gorgeous ‘Cooper’s Secret’) with grittier songs, such as ‘Lovedead Town’, that evokes the scene from back in the day but sound thoroughly modern. The EP is out NOW and you can check it out/stream it/buy the vinyl here........
https://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/immersed-within-your-eyes-2.

And finally………………Lotte Kestner is the pseudonym of Anna-Lynne Williams, formerly the singer in one of Saint Marie Records most popular signings, Trespassers William, and collaborator with the Chemical Brothers. Off White is a treasure, an album of shadows and silhouettes, songs unbearably moving, so jaw-droppingly intimate, stripped down to minimal piano, acoustic guitar, synth washes backing framing Anna-Lynne Williams’ stunning voice. Dim the lights, spark up a forest of candles and drop the needle on the record for a almost transcendental out of body experience. Out NOW on vinyl, CD and digital download, you can check the record out on Saint Marie Record's Bandcamp site here.

All these records are available on line direct from the Saint Marie Records store and all good local record emporiums…………





Sunday, 10 September 2017

THE LORDS OF ALTAMONT - THE WILD SOUNDS OF THE LORDS OF ALTAMONT (Heavy Psych Sounds LP, CD, D/L).

Cool……………..The Lords Of Altamont are back with a new long player. L.A’s finest bad ass biker bar band return to action with the long awaited follow up to their 2014 release The Lords Take Altamont, firmly adhering to the old maxim “If it ain’t broke…..don’t fix it”. The Wild Sound of Lords of Altamont is another hi-octane white knuckle ride mixing together 60s Garage/Punk and scuzzball 70s Heavy Rock riffing in a full on brutal sonic assault………….it ain’t big and it ain’t clever, but that ain’t the point.

The new Lords Of Altamont platter blows the roof offa th’ mutha with some of the greatest unpretentious amped up primitive Rock n Roll we have heard all year!!!…………it’s the sound of the cocksure raunch of the Flamin’ Groovies meeting the Detroit howl of the Stooges and the MC5 and no one gets out alive. Fans of their previous records are not going to be disappointed, if anything The Wild Sound of Lords of Altamont sees the band leave the garage and head out on the highway bringing……….erm……..heavy metal thunder. It’s everything that was great about American Heavy Rock at the turn of 70s and includes a tip of the hat to band’s such as Steppenwolf and the other biker boogie bands on the scene with 11 powerful late-sixties/early-seventies sounding tracks which manage to sound fiendishly contemporary. The Lords Of Altamont don’t fuck about…………opening with the blistering ‘Like A Bird’, they then hit the afterburners and don’t ease up till the last track, tearing through the songs and taking no prisoners along the way. They don’t make records like this anymore, well not ones as good as this. Fucking Ace!!!

Due for release in October on vinyl, CD and also as a digital download via Heavy Psych Sounds, The Wild Sound of Lords of Altamont is available to pre-order here…..


Saturday, 9 September 2017

RICHARD THOMPSON - ACOUSTIC RARITIES (Beeswing CD, D/L).

It’s been 50 years since Richard Thompson first emerged as a fresh faced teenage guitar prodigy, spitting out fiery lead lines on stage at the UFO Club with Fairport Convention. Regarded as one of the finest songwriters of his generation, through his work with Fairport Convention as they evolved from a very English version of Jefferson Airplane into one of the most important British Folk Rock bands of the 60s, the wonderful records he recorded with his then wife Linda and his long distinguished solo career that followed, Thompson has been recently revisiting his extensive back catalogue of songs, recording stripped back acoustic versions of his best known work. Released in 2014, Acoustic Classics contained a selection of some of his best known songs from his post Fairport albums with the recent, critically lauded, Vol. II going further back and including acoustic versions of ‘Meet On The Ledge’ and ‘Genesis Hall’ among the tracks.

Recorded as a companion piece to the Acoustic Classics albums, Acoustic Rarities is a collection of new recordings of some of the more obscure songs in the Thompson catalogue, some previously existing only as cover versions……………included here are Thompson’s own take on ‘Rainbow Over The Hill’, a song gifted to The Albion Band, and ‘Seven Brothers’, previously covered by Blair Dunlop. Still possessing one of the most distinctive English Folk Rock voices and sparkling guitar skills undiminished by time, Richard Thompson breathes new life into songs first recorded over 40 years with a pair from the Fairport Convention album Full House (‘Sloth’ and ‘Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman’), an acoustic reworking of ‘Poor Ditching Boy’ from Thompson’s under rated debut solo album Henry The Human Fly and brilliant versions of two of his finest songs recorded with Linda Thompson……………..at the time of their release in the mid 70s when Thompson was still in his mid twenty’s, ‘End Of The Rainbow’ and ‘Never Again’ felt incredibly cynical, but now with his seventieth birthday on the horizon, they are songs that have seasoned as their writer has aged. Let’s be honest, with Richard Thompson’s most recent recordings being pledge funded by his large, hardcore fanbase and with at least half this album made up of previously unreleased songs, it is clear that this record and the Acoustic Classics albums are aimed clearly at existing fans of this most enduring of artists…………if you are looking for a “young person’s guide to Richard Thompson” you really need to be looking elsewhere. Along with both volumes of Acoustic Classics, Acoustic Rarities is an essential purchase for fans of early Fairport Convention and Thompson’s work since he set off on his own idosincratic path at the start of the 70s.

Released on Thompson’s own Beeswing imprint via Proper Distribution, Acoustic Rarities is available on CD and as a download. Available to pre-order on Amazon with a due release date of 06/10/17 and then available from proper record shops.


Sunday, 3 September 2017

FOUR BY ART - INNER SOUNDS (Area Pirata Records CD, D/L).

Originally part of the first wave of early 1980s Neo-Psychedelic/Mod revival bands that got it together on the Italian scene, outta Milan, via Carnaby Street circa 1966/67, comes the first album of new material since 1986 from Four By Art. Formed back in 1982, Four By Art played a blend of Mod/Beat inspired energetic R&B and Power Pop with strong 60s Psychedelic Pop influences stirred into this potent brew, recording a self released EP and a couple of albums for the Electric Eye label before calling it a day towards the end of the decade…………………..the collected works from this period, The Early Years '82-'86, were released on CD by Area Pirata Records, the home of Italian Garage Rock, back in 2008 and is still available from the label, you can check it out/ stream it/buy it here https://areapiratarec.bandcamp.com/album/the-early-years-82-86

Reforming in 2002 and returning to playing live to enthusiastic audiences for over ten years, Four By Art have finally been able record the follow up album to Everybody's An Artist With...Four By Art!………..and guess what???? It’s really cool!! There is some great stuff here………..from the album’s Psych Pop opener. ‘Alive’, to the pastoral, trippy Small Faces groove of the closing track ‘Say Something’, Inner Sounds twists and turns through 13 tracks taking in the Power Pop head rush of ‘I Ask You’ and ‘At Your Door’ , the funky Psychedelic Soul of ‘Allora Mi Ricordo’ full of mad brass stabs and jazz flute, the R&B/Garage Rock squall of ‘Sorry’ and ‘The Loop’ and the stunning Jangle Pop of ‘Take Your Time’. It may have been a while since their last album, however Four By Art have returned with a record that both recognizes their 80s heritage and is also relevant to the now. Maybe not the most original album we have heard all year, however mixing Maximum Mod R&B/Soul influences with catchy as hell Power Pop and Psychedelic flourishes, Inner Sounds is the vibe of the Small Faces transposed into the second decade of the 21st Century………with a mix of crunching guitar riffs, rolling piano and swirling Hammond Organ underpinned with solid bass playing and awesome drumming, Four By Art whip up a storm of familiar sounds from the past but are much more than just a heritage act. Well worth a listen.

Inner Sounds is out NOW on CD and digital download from Area Pirata Records in collaboration with the band’s own Artrecords. Available from the Area Pirata website or from their bandcamp site here……………………
https://areapiratarec.bandcamp.com/album/inner-sounds where you can also stream the album.