Wednesday, 29 July 2015

THE SONICS – THE INSTITUTE, BIRMINGHAM. 28th JULY 2015

You would think that when you hit your early seventies life would be full of more leisurely activities; grandkids, tending the garden, Caribbean cruises etc. etc. etc………..Not these guys!!!! The Sonics are back with a new album (the first one for nearly 50 years) and are hitting the road hard, playing shows and festivals all over America and Europe throughout 2015. Along with early 60s contemporaries like the Kingsmen, the Wailers, the Dynamics, the Regents, and Paul Revere & the Raiders they helped set the template that would influence and inspire future generations of Garage, Punk and heavy Rock bands and the first two Sonics albums are now considered to be Garage Punk classics. With three members of the band from the classic line-up that recorded the seminal Here Are The Sonics back in 1965, guitarist Larry Parypa, sax player Rob Lind and Jerry Roslie on keyboards are joined by Freddie Dennis on bass and former Lita Ford/Dick Dale drummer Dusty Watson, The Sonics are still playing primal Garage Rock that is louder, harder and faster than anything by Garage/Punk bands half their age.
One of the uncertainties of going to see any “classic” band from the 60s/70s is that they may be shot to bits and sound shit……….there are no such worries with The Sonics as they still sound great. Sharing lead vocals, Roslie and Dennis are in good voice (Jerry Roslie still yelps and screams like a sexually frustrated teenager), Lind blows a mean sax and an even meaner mouth harp while Parypa coaxes a beautiful ugly noise from his guitar. Driving this forward at maximum velocity is the best drummer you have never heard of before……Dusty Watson was epic. From the opening bars of ‘Cinderella’ there is no let up from a barrage of the finest classic Garage Rock/R&B you are likely to ever hear………..with a set list taken mainly from the Here Are The Sonics and Boom albums, the Sonics mid 60s repertoire of original tunes and covers have set the standard for any aspiring Garage/Punk band ever since. You really can’t go wrong with a set that includes ‘Have Love Will Travel’, ‘Money’, ‘You’ve Got Your Head On Backwards’, ‘Boss Hoss’ and a ferocious ‘You Keep A Knocking’. The songs from the new album are also very good………..the formula has not been messed with and the old maxim “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has been fully observed, they fit seamlessly into the set and stand up well against the classic tunes with ‘Bad Betty, their cover of The Kinks ‘The Hard Way’ and a reworking of the classic ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ (once covered by The Chocolate Watch Band) all exceptional. There was a lot of love in the room for The Sonics and they responded by playing one of the best shows we have seen for quite a while…...these guys are totally loving what they do. The band tear through ‘Louie Louie’ before finishing with ‘Psycho’ saving ‘Strychnine’ and ‘The Witch’ for the encore……..three tunes that any mid 60s band would have killed for.
The Sonics are back……………still as cool as fuck, still playing harder, faster, louder and still one of the most important bands from the 60s……the tag “legend” is used far too much nowadays but this band are the real deal. If you get the chance, go see them live…….you really don’t know how long are gonna be back for.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

SERPENT POWER – SERPENT POWER (Skeleton Key LP, CD)

Taking their name from a book of Victorian orientalism about tantric philosophy and combining the talents of The Coral’s Ian Skelly and The Zutons’ Paul Molloy, Serpent Power have lovingly crafted an album where full blown psychedelia meets hook laden pop smarts head on, taking you on a groovy trip back to the 1960s which then unravels like a darkly psychedelic comic horror book; with twisted tales of alien brain abduction, phantom bogeymen; sirens, voodoo witchdoctors and waitresses come serial killers to name but a few…….It’s a carnival of fuzzed out, backwards guitars in a strange and bizarre world of warped madness. Think The Dukes Of Stratosphear/Oranges And Lemons period XTC blended with classic Beatles inspired 60s British Pop/Psych with a dash of Nilssen/The Monkees pop genius added for good measure and that will give you some idea of where Serpent Power are coming from.
While The Coral are on an “indefinite hiatus in order to concentrate on individual projects”, Ian Skelly has already released one critically acclaimed album, Cut From A Star, which was an excellent mix of Psych, Folk and Prog influenced tracks. Serpent Power has evolved from that project and keeps the name of Ian's backing band from his solo album tour. Heading down a path way more psychedelic then anything that The Coral and The Zutons have ever released Skelly and Molloy display expert song craft while giving ‘The Summer of Love’ a mischievous wink, taking inspiration from classic psychedelia much in the same way as XTC did with their far out psychedelic alter ego The Dukes Of Stratosphear. There are some fantastic tracks on this album……’Lucifer’s Dreambox’ is an absolute tripped out psychedelic masterpiece twisted into weird shapes by studio trickery, ‘The Man Who Shrunk The World’ is Beatle-ish psych jangle while ‘ Last Ape In Space’ and the fuzzed up ‘Serpent Power, have the same playful psychedelia vibe as Super Furry Animals at their very best. There are also a few tracks that have a 60s feel in the mould of the Psych/Pop compositions by the likes of Paul Williams and Harry Nilssen……………’Candyman’ and ‘Killer Cherry Pie’ could have easily turned up on any of the later Monkees albums or the strange Popsike Tommy Roe records. There is certainly a paisley and lava lamp vibe going on here and this record is a must hear for lovers of classic 1960s psychedelic music even if you were never big fans of The Coral and The Zutons. Down in our psychedelic basement this has album has been getting plenty of spins on the old Dancette………one of our favourite records of the year so far. 
Serpent Power is another quality release from Skeleton Key Records and is available on CD and vinyl from their online shop or from your local independent CD/vinyl emporium (and if you must…..HMV have also got copies). Check it out People…………….it’s a great record.


Friday, 17 July 2015

V/A - ROCK BACK FOR NEPAL Vol. 1 - 3 (Patetico Recordings CD, D/L)

Rock Back for Nepal is a 3-part series of disaster relief compilations being released by U.S. indie label Patetico Recordings. The label is partnering with nearly 60 independent artists and several small indie labels around the globe to make this happen. They have all come together in order to raise funds for victims of the recent catastrophic earthquakes in Nepal. All money raised will go directly to the relief efforts.

The compilations are being supported by several luminaries of the independent rock and shoegaze scene, among others. "Whenever Tom Lugo reaches out to his musical family, you know it's for a crucial and essential cause. The Rock Back for Nepal CD compilation is no exception," explains Dean Garcia of seminal shoegaze bands Curve and SPC ECO. "I'm proud to be part of this relief effort / fund raiser for anyone affected by the recent earthquake disaster in Nepal and if I can help or contribute in some way to aid support and assistance to the many displaced people, I will without question. Please support this cause and donate as generously as you can.” 

Perhaps one of the most renowned personalities in the shoegaze / noise rock spheres, Oliver Ackermann (A Place To Bury Strangers, Skywave) has also lent his support to the cause. “It is a horrible tragedy this destruction of culture and life. I feel lucky that I can use my craft and contribute a song to this fund to help them raise money for relief. If we can all do something to help and give relief for the people of Nepal we should do it now.” 
"It's great to be among this sparkling array of brilliant artists, taking action in support of a great cause," says Marc Joy of Welsh outfit Lights That Change.  Alexx Kretov of Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma is also hopeful."May the common freebie attitude fall to the wayside for this project. We really hope that people will support a higher cause by spending a few dollars and spreading this music far and wide." 
All three volumes are being released at the same time, and will be available through Bandcamp and Amazon.com exclusively, both digitally and on CD.The album artwork and design is by Gardy Perez.
The concept of the Rock Back compilation series was born in 2011 when disaster hit Japan and Tom Lugo, owner of Patetico Recordings, acted on his empathy for charitable causes and non-profit organizations by reaching out to the community of artists in his network. They collectively put together a compilation and the profits were donated to relief efforts. The response was overwhelming, with over 100 artists from across the globe joining in the efforts. What was to be a single CD compilation grew into the 8-disc compilation Rock Back for Japan. The compilation series hit the top 10 Indie Rock releases on Amazon.com’s chart for several weeks, with certain volumes holding the number 1 spot.

VOLUME 1 features
SPC ECO (UK), A Place to Bury Strangers (USA), Ummagma (Canada-Ukraine), Lights That Change (UK), Sounds of Sputnik (Russia), Stellarscope (USA), The Manhattan Love Suicides (UK), Clustersun (Italy), The One2s (USA), Panophonic (USA), Death Valley Rally (USA), The Virgance (UK), Purple Bloom (Japan), Arirang (Italy), The Artificial Shadow Band (Puerto Rico), Kitsch (Panama), and Revolution, I love you (USA).

VOLUME 2 features
Malka (NYC-Peru), Asalto al Parque Zoologico (Argentina), Stella Diana (Italy), Chatham Rise (USA), Tape Runs Out (UK), Under the Wire (USA), Psiconautas (Puerto Rico), Car Crash Sisters (Mexico), Last Remaining Pinnacle (USA), The Narentines (Switzerland), Human Colonies (Italy), Sueño con belugas (Puerto Rico), Blackfeather Jane, Dead Parties (Spain-Australia), Estrella Oscura (UK), Mayflower Madame (Norway), and Los Sub (Argentina).

VOLUME 3 features
Novanta (Italy), Lunar Twin (USA), Joaquim Barato (Portugal-Peru), Withershins (USA), Un-Reason (Italy), The Long Knives (USA), Lazarus (USA), Salvia (Chile), This Forever Sky (UK), Clarence Mayhew (USA), Corrosive Water (USA), Sonora Coisa (Brazil), The Paper Road (Portugal), Hijos de Paul (Argentina), Drass (Argentina), Cthulhu Martini (USA), Fovea (USA), Matotumba (Puerto Rico), Bergegas Mati (Indonesia), and Get Lost, Wire Avenue (Slovakia)

All 3 volumes are now available to download for $5 each (that's just over 3 quid in real money) from the Patetico Recordings Bandcamp page which can be found here http://pateticorecordings.bandcamp.com/ and are also available to download from Amazon. There will be CDs available....check Patetico Recordings website/Facebook page for more details.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

MAFF – MAFF EP (D/L, CD)


Although strictly more of an Indie band than a mind bending Psych outfit there is still enough of a psychedelic edge to the debut EP from Chilean guitar band Maff to interest the discerning head. Taking inspiration from Indie/Noise bands The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, Ride, Sonic Youth, and My Bloody Valentine there is nothing startlingly original or challenging about Maff’s blend of Shoegaze, Alt Rock, Noise Pop and Indie verging on Grunge, however there is plenty of craft and invention that elevates this band above the ever growing amount of tedious early 90s British/US Indie Rock copyists.
Although this record is somewhat unfocussed, repeatedly jumping from genre to genre (sometimes in the same song), there are some really cool tunes here……. ‘Walking On Fire’ and the instrumental ‘Act 1’ are particularly good, but the standout track has to be ‘Someday’ which has all the grace of classic Slowdive. For a debut EP this is a pretty accomplished record and there is lots to love here for fans of Alt Rock bands like Husker Du, Pavement and Dinosaur Jr.
The Maff EP is available now as a download from iTunes, Amazon and the Maff bandcamp page at https://maffmusica.bandcamp.com/releases where there is also very limited edition CDs available.

THEE PSYCHEDELICATESSEN