Monday, 24 June 2019

STONEFIELD ~ BENT ..... review


Bands containing siblings tend to have a hard time of it, not only do they have to deal with all the usual issues of ego's, personality clashes and the like but they also have to contend with rivalries that may have begun as far back as the nursery. The Kinks, The Black Crowes, Oasis and Kings of Leon have all, to some degree, suffered from the effects of sibling rivalry with those effects resulting in at least three of those bands calling it a day and going their separate ways at some point. Imagine then that all your band are related by birth and having to tour thousands of miles from your native home and then forced to share buses and hotels, those sibling pressures must become tenfold!
Australia's Stonefield are a band made up of four sisters, Amy Findlay (lead vocals/drums), Hannah Findlay (guitar/backing vocals), Sarah Findlay (keys/backing vocals) and Holly Findlay (bass/backing vocals), Desert Psychlist doesn't know what coping methods the band use to combat their inevitable rivalries (all families suffer them not just musical ones) but what ever those methods are they must be working as since their inception the band have released three well received albums, supported Fleetwood Mac on a world tour and even graced the John Peel Stage at the iconic Glastonbury Festival.
Stonefield have just recently released their fourth album "Bent" (Flightless Records).


"Bent" was recorded over a five day period in a Melbourne studio, recorded almost 100% live with the help of fellow Aussies Joe Walker and Stu Mackenzie from King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. The band wrote most of the material while trekking around the USA on tour and the songs have an introspective feel, something that is borne out by drummer/vocalist Amy Findlay's statement that "Bent" "is a culmination of experiences, emotions, and stories collected over time", "a growth of honest, raw, energy that has been burning within us and waiting for its moment" All well and good you might say but what does all this inward looking amount to soundwise? Well the answer to that question is that Stonefield have, with "Bent", made their best album to date. From the opening salvo of grainy riffage that announces "Sleep" to the abrupt full stop that concludes final track "Woman" listeners are faced with an album that delivers on every level, an album that soothes and placates as much as it growls and antagonises. Amy Findlay's smooth vocal tones, backed by her sisters cool clean harmonies, waft waif-like over grooves that have an almost prog-like undercurrent thanks to Sarah Findlay's excellent keyboard flourishes and Hannah Findlay's mix of heavy and intricate guitar textures, Sarah and Hannah's wilder musical excursions only just kept in check by sister Holly's thundering on point bass lines and vocalist Amy's powerfully solid percussion. It would be hard to box Stonefield's sound in a neat little box  as there are elements to be found on "Bent" that, it could be argued, lean towards shoegaze-ish and indie and others where they sound like a hard stoner rock band with prog-ish tendencies, it is this diversity that is probably the bands biggest asset and why they are garnering such high levels of respect from both the critics and the record buying/listening public alike.


They say that the family that plays together, stays together, let's hope that is the case with Stonefield, losing a band this good, this vital because of some petty sibling quarrel would be a travesty, stay strong and stay true to each other sisters, we need you and we need your beautiful music.
Check 'em out

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 20 June 2019

DENDRITES ~ GROW ..... review


Greece, the country that never stops giving, has just delivered yet another band for us to slaver and drool over, the band in question goes by the name of Dendrites and deal in a heady mix of southern swagger and good old balls to the floor hard/stoner rock. The band, Thanasis Timplalexis (vocals, guitar), Giorgos Alexiou (guitar ), Alekos Papathanasiou (bass) and Dimitris Amvrazis (drums),have shared stages with the likes of Planet of Zeus, 1000 Mods and Nightstalker and have just released their first full length album "Grow"


Beginning your debut album with a song entitled "Get The Fuck" is going to get peoples attention but Dendrites are not the sort of band to court controversy just for the sake of novelty, this is a song that is making a statement and that statement is this is what we do if you don't like it then "get the fuck out of my way" "Get The Fuck" also namechecks a certain Mr. Dimebag Darrell in its lyrics which is quite apt considering Dendrites plough a similar southern metal furrow to that of the late guitarists band Pantera. Greece seems to have embraced the whole "southern metal" thing tighter and harder than any other country outside of the sub genres USA home base and Dendrites are no exception, there is an authenticity to the bands metallic rebel yell that if you didn't know better could have you believing you are listening to a band birthed from the swamps of Alabama or New Orleans rather than from VĂ³los, Greece. Southern rock/metal needs to have a certain amount of swagger to its grooves and there is plenty of swagger to be found on "Grow" as well as a fair share of bluster and crunch., Timplalexis and Alexiou's two guitar assault combining with the enormous grooves, provided by Amvrazis' drums and Papathanasiou's bass to build the perfect hook for Timplalexis to hang his gritty clean vocals on. The band also know a thing or two about how best to pace an album, balancing their more raucous attack on songs like "Throwing Rocks" and "River" with a more considered, but no less heavy, approach on songs like "Dreamhouse Pts 1 & 2" and "Snake Oil Merchant" with the latter possessing an almost grungy dynamic.


If you want to hear an album of authentic sounding swaggering southern tinted metal that wasn't birthed from below the Mason-Dixon Line and doesn't sound contrived or fake then you can't go far wrong than wrapping your ears around Dendrites debut album "Grow", if you don't then.... GET THE FUCK OUT OF THEIR WAY!
Check it out …. 

©2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 16 June 2019

DEVIL FLOWER MANTIS ~ DEVIL FLOWER MANTIS ..... review


Socrates once said "I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think". Here at Desert Psychlist we have adopted a similar mantra.... "We cannot make you listen to anything, we can just point you in the right direction and hope you do". Today we are pointing you towards, Socrates homeland, Greece and an Athenian collective going by the name of Devil Flower Mantis, a quintet consisting of Nikolas Kalogirou (vocals), Dimitris Karakatsanis (drums),Verbal Kid (bass), Nikos Zairis (guitar) and Vaggelis Keramidas (guitar) who have just released their self titled debut EP "Devil Flower Mantis".

Raunch and groove are two things that define the sound of the Greek underground rock scene and Devil Flower Mantis have both commodities in abundance, as well as more than a fair amount of lysergic texturing and metallic bluster. First track "Beyond Borders" demonstrates these qualities perfectly, its crunching guitars, growling bass and punchy solid percussion are offset by the songs occasional forays into eastern tinted territories the quintet utilising subtle middle eastern themes and Arabian scales to take things to the next level. Add to this heady mix of swagger and mysticism clean, clear vocals that tell sci-fi inspired tales of "beams that rush inside my blood like streams" and having "stardust in my core " and you might understand why we at Desert Psychlist are so keen on you checking out what these guys do. One track does not make an EP however and so its good to know that the following tracks in no way drop beneath the high level set by their predecessor. "The Voidwalker" has a heavy prog-metallish vibe and tells a tale of a "half human, half android" forced to explore "solar storms and black holes" while "Back On The Hunt" hits a more heavy stoner groove with thunderous drums and growling bass the foundation on which raucous riffs and screaming solo's are traded, the vocalist telling us amid this musical mayhem that there is "NO TIME FOR GAMES". "Devil Flower Mantis" closes with "Black Fever" a raunch drenched opus decorated in grainy clean vocals that revisits the eastern themes and motifs touched on in the EP's opening track, this time however the band using those motifs and themes to drive and inform the songs groove rather than just decorate it.


"Devil Flower Mantis" is exactly what you would expect from a band plying its trade within the Greek underground rock scene, a delightfully addictive EP chock-a-block full of raucous refrains, groovalicious rhythms and ear catching melodies, an EP full of songs that manage to hit the inner ears sweet spot with unerring accuracy time after time. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 10 June 2019

THE RED WIDOWS ~ FUZZIFIXION ..... review


Desert Psychlist has seen a lot of vlogs, videos and social media posts lately, from some of the leading lights in the underground industry, telling aspiring bands how to best promote their wares to potential labels and publications but not many have mentioned artwork. If an artist/band wants to really get their grooves noticed, among the many albums and EP's that are constantly being released, then artwork is an essential tool in promoting those grooves. Now there are usually two ways to go about how to use artwork, you can go the aesthetic route whereby you choose something stunning and beautiful to the eye or you can choose to go the shock route and use something that will grab a browsers attention due to its controversial nature. There are of course degrees to be found in both approaches, you don't want to alienate your potential fanbase by using something so sickly twee that it makes them want to vomit neither do you want to portray something so gross that it freaks them out or causes offence, a balance needs to be found. London trio The Red Widows have achieved that balance with the artwork for their latest release "Fuzzifixion" (Cover artwork by David Johnson from Obscure Media), a slightly overexposed photo of a female model (Valerie Wierzbicki), dressed in blood soaked white robes, posing in a Christ like stance, a photo that catches the eye due to its ambiguous religious iconography but also, when combined with the albums title, gives the casual browser a fair idea of what to expect beneath the imagery, and what is beneath that imagery makes all the work put into that cover totally justified.

Alex Corvino (vocals/bass), Rev. MojoFuzz (guitars/backing vocals) are The Red Widows a London based collective who first came to Desert Psychlist's attention with their debut EP "Rising" a stunning three song EP that highlighted a band with one foot in the proto-metal camp and the other sinking into the dark mire of doom. Since the release of their debut EP The Red Widows have parted ways with their original drummer, the mysteriously named John Doe, and so for "Fuzzifixion" recruited sound engineer Marco Alejandro Papiz in for drumming duties. Whether due to the change in line up or because of some other unknown factor "Fuzzifixion" marks a huge evolution in both The Red Widows overall sound and direction. The first thing that comes to the listeners notice, as first track "Pendulum" assails the ear canals, is the different approach Corvino uses in her vocals, where the bassist/vocalist utilised an almost classic rock tone on "Rising" here we find her employing an almost monastic vocal style, still as powerful and dynamic as on the bands previous work but this time around there is a spiritual/religious feel to to her tones, especially when harmonised with the Rev.Mojofuzz's backing vocals. The good Reverend also has made some significant changes to his sound, his guitar tones on "Fuzzifixion" sound thicker, darker and more distorted especially on the excellent brooding "Lucifer's Maiden" where his guitar combines with Corvino's growling deep bass to create a sound that is more a rumble than a riff. Papiz may only be filling in a vacant seat at the moment but if Corvino and the Rev. have any sense they should sign him up as a full time member pretty sharpish as his contribution to "Fuzzifixion" is immense, solid tight and economical he drives each song with a powerhouse display of percussion that at times defies belief . "There Is No God", "Cursed Forever" and "His Name Is Death" proceed the two songs already mentioned and follow much the same blueprint, dark, dank low slung riffage and hazy dark guitar solos driven by pummelling percussion all decorated with those superbly executed vocal tones, a tsunami of dank heaviness and dark spiritual groove that come at you wave after glorious wave.






The Red Widows have with "Fuzzifixion" dropped the proto aspects of their "Rising" EP and embraced their doom side full on. Imagine if you can the sound of a High Priestess of some ancient religious order chanting majestically above the sound of two tectonic plates grinding against each other deep beneath the Earth's surface and you might, just might get a handle on what the Red Widows are all about.
Check 'em out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

* Vinyl soon to be available on  DHU Records

Sunday, 9 June 2019

TOOTHLESS CAGE ~ MARS ..... review


Portugal's Toothless Cage are asking you to take a once in a lifetime trip, a trip that will take you from the lapping blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea to the dusty red and lifeless bowl of the Del La Rue Ocean, in other words the Pombal trio are taking us to "Mars"


"The grass is always greener on the other side" is an old adage used to counteract those times when your situation looks on the bleak side and you start wondering if another location may serve you better. Portugal's Toothless Cage however have looked a little further than over the crest of the hill and have set their sights on a place with not even a vestige of grass and is in fact quite red. The band tell us, in the lyrics of the EP's opening title track, of their stress at "living in conspiracies, that makes us feel alive", and address this dilemma by telling us they are "going to Mars", the band delivering these lyrics in clear. clean vocal tones atop grooves of molten hard rock spliced with a healthy dose of warm grainy guitar fuzz that is driven by throbbing  deep bass and tight, solid percussion.. "Breathing" follows and here we find the band hitting a groove that mixes old school desert rock with that of a more proto-metal flavour, the band throwing a cheeky little snippet of Sabbath's riff for "Children of the Grave" in to the mix to keep things interesting. "River of God's" stays in proto territory but drops the metal for a more doomic dynamic while "END" goes for a more atmospheric grungy  approach and tells of  a world  with "Buffalos grazing on the street, Mirrors broken everywhere". "Oneironaut" closes out the EP with a huge sounding tome that pulls together all the different aspects of Toothless Cage's sound into one massive throbbing groove that is  made even bigger sounding by it clever use of dynamics and pace.


So if your life feels a little frantic and out of control and that grass on the other side of that hill looks just a tad like the grass your already standing on... then why not hop aboard the good ship Toothless Cage and give "Mars" a spin, the air may not be breathable, the weather might be a touch on the extreme side but maaaaaan the grooves are KICKING!
Check 'em out ……

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 8 June 2019

FREE RIDE ~ FREE RIDE ..... review


Have you been looking for something that will rekindle those memories of the 90's when every other week there was a party in the desert, a time before terms like stoner rock and desert rock were coined and the music being played was an untagged hybrid of punk and hard rock with a little psychedelic colouring thrown in for good measure? Well look no further for those memories will come flooding back in waves when you hear the self titled debut album from Spanish trio Free Ride.


Carlos Bedmar (drums), Victor Bedmar (bass) and Borja Fresno (guitar/vocals) are Free Ride a band who like their heroes took their grooves out into the wilderness to reach their audience the only difference being their wilderness was not an American desert but a plateau situated on the outskirts of their home city Madrid. Free Ride's sound owes a huge debt to those early generator driven American desert grooves especially those of L.A's Fu Manchu and Nebula, Free Ride taking the punky stoner rock of the former and blending it with the more spacier psychedelic forays of the latter. OK Free Ride are not reinventing the wheel with their debut release but with songs like the lysergic laced "Sativa" and the street smart "Libido Rising" who would want them to. The band do step outside of their punky desert rock comfort zone on occasions first with the excellent "Crazy Woman", a song that sees them tripping through bluesy pastures (and when we say tripping we do mean tripping), secondly with "Caravan", a hazy semi acoustic outing with low key hushed vocals and then finally with "Opium" a lysergic instrumental foray that touches on doom, heavy stoner and even a little psychedelic funk on its travels.


If your looking for music that pushes the boundaries and dips its toes into more experimental areas then "Free Ride" maybe not the album your looking for, however if your looking for grooves that take you back to the desert scenes formative years and does so without sounding contrived then this is your lucky day.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 3 June 2019

DEAD SACRAMENTS ~ CELESTIAL THRONE ..... review



We, the unwashed, bleary eyed writers of blogs and reviews who are often found semi-slumped over our keyboards trying to find a new word for the sound of drums, often use the term "huge" when we are describing music, but what does that word really mean when applied to a groove, a riff or a sound?  At Desert Psychlist we tend to use "huge" not as a description of a certain piece of music's volume or the duration of it's length but more in the context of its intensity and depth in which case Dead Sacraments "Celestial Throne" is not just "huge" it's absolutely humongous!


Dead Sacraments preface their grooves with the legend "Riffs + Dungeon Crawling", Desert Psychlist is not 100% sure what the "dungeon crawling" part actually alludes to but we are more than certain where they are coming from with the "riffs" part of that statement. "Celestial Throne" is an album with riffs to spare, the band utilising thick low slung guitar refrains, twinned with deep reverberating growling bass lines pushed by powerful thundering percussion to create a sound that is intense, dank and somewhat claustrophobic (that "dungeon crawling" is starting to make sense now). Not content with creating grooves that have a cloying, subterranean atmospheric the band then ramp up the denseness of their grooves by coating those same grooves with clean monotonic vocal harmonies that have an almost monastic/Gregorian feel and  tell of "bloodstained rites in profaned glades" ("Void Summoning") and "labs and dungeons: flooded, drowned in the blood of our dead " ("Cracking The Celestial Throne"). Lyrically and musically "Celestial Throne" is no stroll beneath sun streaked blue skies yet having said that there are times when the light penetrates through the gloom and pierces the dismal darkness with rare glimpses of sunshine, these glimpses of brightness present themselves in the albums soaring guitar solo's that swoop and swirl above the morose and monolithic refrains beneath them and in doing so take things to an altogether higher plane of aural enjoyment.


Dense, dark and utterly intense "Celestial Throne" is not an album that's going to lift your spirits and put you in the mood for dancing, it is however an album of songs that sonically mirrors that conflict of light and shade that lies somewhere deep inside each and every one of us.
Check it out. …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones