Wednesday, 17 October 2018

THE HAZYTONES ~ THE HAZYTONES II: MONARCHS OF OBLIVION ..... review


Oh what a difference a little time can make, Montreal's The Hazytones entered our lives with their debut album "The Hazytones" just over a year ago and in that time they have snagged a deal with Ripple Music, toured both North America and Europe, had a line up change and found a whole new darker, danker sound, on top of which they have just released their second album "The Hazytones II: Monarchs of Oblivion" (Ripple Music).


With only guitarist/vocalist Mick Martel remaining from the line up that recorded the highly acclaimed "The Hazytones" it is not too surprising that there is a slight shift in attack and dynamics to be found on the bands latest release "II", however that shift is very subtle and the eight songs that make up "II" still retain that recognisable "Hazytones" sound and groove. Darker would be the best way to describe the songs on "II", there is a danker more doomic feel to many (not all) of the new songs that grace this new opus and although the first album was one of Desert Psychlist's favourite releases of 2016 we have to admit this new darker dynamic seems to suit them much better. The bluesy stoner rock sound that had many referring to the band as the Canadian Graveyard still remains intact, something especially evident on songs like "The Great Illusion" and "Spit You Out", but there is a heavier, denser feel to songs like "Empty Space", the two part "Monarchs of Oblivion" and final track "The Hands That Feed" that reflects what they did previously but at the same time takes things to a whole new dynamic level.


The current line up of Mick Martel (vocals/guitar), Victor Tremblay-Desrosiers (drums/percussion) and Adam Gilbert (bass) have not deviated too far from The Hazytones blueprint with their new album "The Hazytones II: Monarchs of Oblivion" just tweaked it slightly and made it a little more grimier.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

SHAYK ~ 313 ...... review


Anyone who has tuned into music podcast "Shaykcast" will probably already be familiar with Shayk, the band formed by the guys who host the show,(if you have not visited the show then Desert Psychlist suggests you remedy that by checking out the link hidden in the name and go savour one of the most relaxed, funny and informative music podcasts currently being broadcast). Shayk, Scotty Cox (guitar/vocals), Vid Arney (drums/percussion) and Larry Limon Patrick (bass), hail from the South Side of Detroit and channel through their music their cities deep and varied musical heritage of pop, soul, rock and metal,combining all these elements together with a little hot saucy pizzazz to create a sound that has strong urban, inner city vibe, a vibe you can check out for yourselves on their latest release "313"


"The Chase" opens "313's" account, a song that is as immediate as it is attention grabbing, a song that sets the tone for the rest of the album and ensures that anyone stumbling on to this album by accident will stick around until the albums last note fades into silence. Soulful, sexy with a funky inner city undercurrent "The Chase" boasts ear catching guitar motifs, chunky funky rhythms and a vocal that's part Barry White, part Clutch's Neil Fallon and part Hughie from Fun Loving Criminals. Title track "313" follows and it would be hard to find a tune more seductive and sexy, its slow to mid tempo groove crawls all over you whispering its message in your ear in sultry gravel edged tones buoyed by searing hot bluesy guitar solo's  And so it goes on with Shayk delivering song after song of soulful stonerized groove delivered with a swaggering street savvy strut and a knowing twinkle in the eye, a band playing sweet funky rock'n'soul for jam kicking mutherfuckers.


Sexy is not a word we get to use much within the realms of underground rock music so Desert Psychlist apologises if we have tended to overstate the warm seductive elements to be found within Shayk's "313" but damn if there ever was an album to light up a smoke to after then this is it!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 15 October 2018

MOAB ~ TROUGH........ review


The sudden death of a band member can go one of three ways, the band can go the AC/DC route and carry on almost seamlessly, they can dissolve into some sort of semi retirement like Queen and Led Zeppelin or they can take some time out to lick their wounds, contemplate their loss and consider their future. The third option was the one of choice for LA's Moab when faced with the death of their drummer and founding member Erik Herzog midway through the recording of their third album. Such was their shock and sadness that the band did consider calling it a day but were talked out of it by family and friends who didn't want the late drummers hard work to disappear into the ether, preferring instead for the album to be finished, not only as a tribute to his memory but also as celebration of his life. Remaining members Andrew Giacumakis (guitar/vocals) and Joe Fuentes (bass) agreed and that third  album " Trough" will now finally see the light of day (Falling Dome Records, October 19, 2018).


Given the circumstances leading up to its release listeners may be fooled in to thinking an air of sadness and melancholy might be lingering over and around the grooves that make up "Trough" but that is far from the case as although possessing a darkness and dankness, the meat and potatoes of any music pitched at the heavier end of rock music, there is a brightness and upbeat feel to much of the music explored on these ten cuts. From the Beatle-esque intro of "Skeptics Lament" through to the furiously strident " Fend For Dawn" that closes the album there is a vibe of freshness and vitality running through each and every song, an addictive joyousness of three musicians doing exactly what they love to do and enjoying every second of it. Musically "Trough" is tight with every riff and solo nailed on, every bass line booming, every drum beat and cymbal crash hitting its mark, this and the superbly pitched, slightly nasal and Ozzy-ish vocal tones, that coat every song on the album, all combines to make "Trough" one of the surprise highpoints of this year already quite impressive roster of 2018 underground albums.


Herzog's passing is a bitter pill to swallow but let's not dwell on what might or might not have been let's just concentrate on the incredible legacy left behind by a talented musician who musically was right on top of his game, in that context Moab's "Trough" is a fine and fitting epitaph.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

# Remaining band members Andrew Giacumakis and Joe Fuentes, joined by Brad Davis (Fu Manchu) filling the void on drums, are set to play select shows in support of the album's release.

Friday, 12 October 2018

UNDER ~ STOP BEING NAIVE ....... review


Under describe themselves as an "acid nightmare from Stockport" and there is no getting away from the fact that the UK bands music does have both lysergic and nightmarish qualities, however it is those qualities combined with a heavy dissonant, off-kilter groove that make Under's sonic attack such a joy to immerse oneself in. The band are about to release their second full length album "Stop Being Naïve" (APF Records 26/10 2018) so let's dive in.


If your expecting an easy listen then Desert Psychlist suggests you look elsewhere, what Under bring to the table is a sound and groove that borders on the edge of, and sometimes spills into, the extremist end of heavy rock music. Earlier, in this reviews intro, we mentioned the word lysergic and that might suggest some sort of trippy, flowery Floydian scenario, the lysergic of "Stop Being Naïve" however is a whole different kettle of fish, here you will find a more angular, dissonant lysergic with jagged edges and rough textures, the sound of a trip getting out of control and turning bad very quickly. It has to be said at this point that the harsher end of rock and metal is not a place where Desert Psychlist spends much of our time, it is no secret that our preference is for melody over mutilation but there is strange disarming beauty to "Stop Being Naïve", its harsh atonality and jarring discordance , in both its grooves and vocal attack, is very hard to ignore and has opened our eyes to a whole new musical territory we have not really explored before and one we are very much impressed by. From the juddering and jagged "Malcontents" through the schizophrenic "Big Joke" to the off-kilter closer "Circadian Driftwood" Under take you on a journey through a series of nightmarish scenarios that will leave you shaken and stirred, never to be the same again.


At times cacophonous and chaotic Under's "Stop Being Naïve" is nonetheless well worth putting in a little effort with, sometimes you need the nightmares to appreciate the dreams.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 11 October 2018

THE NECROMANCERS ~ OF BLOOD AND WINE ....review


The NecromancersTom Cornière (Vocals, Guitar), Robin Genais (Lead Guitar), Simon Evariste (Bass Guitar) and Benjamin Rousseau (Drums), loomed out of the ether last year and blew everyone's minds with their debut release "Servants of the Salem Girl" last year, the band and album garnering high praise from all the right quarters as well as just narrowly missing the number one spot in our own "Desert Psychlist's Best of 2017" end of year list. The band return this year with a new album, "Of Blood and Wine"(Ripple Music), hoping to not only to repeat the success of last year's album but to maybe surpass it.


The trouble with having a critically acclaimed debut album is that your next album is going to be put under the microscope and heavily scrutinised by all and sundry looking for weaknesses and failings, was the first album a lucky fluke, will the new material match the high expectations of both the critics and the fans? The answer to those questions is a resounding yes and no, yes they can match those expectations and no the first album was NOT a fluke, the question of whether "Of Blood and Wine" surpasses "Servants of the Salem Girl" however is a difficult one as its a little too early to compare one over the other and only living with an album for a period of time can really decide that question. On first impressions , and at this present time, Desert Psychlist can say that "Of Blood and Wine" is most definitely , if nothing else, on an even par with its predecessor, those post-rock textures and psychedelic/prog undercurrents that made "Servants of the Salem Girl" such a joyous and satisfying  listen are all in still in place and as with their previous release their is a genuine high level of songcraft to be found amid all the growling riffs and incessant rhythms. If there is one thing that sets the new album apart from the old one it is in  the amount of "swing" present on "Of Blood and Wine",  the band, maybe buoyed by the success of their previous outing, seem to have loosened up their sound and found a greater freedom to express themselves, a freedom that although evident on "Servants of the Salem Girl" here is taken to a whole newer level. This looseness and freedom is never better exemplified than on the albums standout track "Erzebeth" a sprawling twelve minute plus opus with a thundering groove that gallops and gambols along on an addictive chugging riff interspersed with Celtic tinted guitar decorated by a mixture of warm crooned and grittily roared vocals, the song taking off into a mind blowing instrumental mid-section before returning to its original groove and coming to its close. The band are not afraid to tread more tranquil waters either as the brief but atmospheric title track " Of Blood and Wine" testifies to, however it is those tracks of a more sludge tinted, prog orientated nature that really win the day here and will ensure listeners coming back to this fine album again and again not only now but also years into the future.


The Necromancers may have suddenly appeared on our radars seemingly out of nowhere but if they keep writing songs as good as those found on "Of Blood and Wine" then these guys are going to be with us for a long time to come.
Check it out …..
© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 7 October 2018

LA CADENA PSYCH JAMBAND ~ HOPE? ...... review


Seville (Spanish: Sevilla) may be the home of the famous bitter oranges that bare the provinces name but there is nothing bitter about the music Sevillian sons La Cadena Psych Jamband deliver with their latest release "Hope?"  Thought you had heard everything that prog and psych could throw in your general direction, well prepare to be amazed by an album that raises the bar even higher.


Prog often gets a lot of bad press, overcomplicated, over technical and over complex are just a few things that get banded around whenever the word prog is mentioned but although a high level of musicianship is required to even be considered as a progressive band that doesn't mean you have to forgo things like feel and swing to play it with conviction. Spain's La Cadena Psych Jamband understand this and incorporate both those things, along with all the necessary musical chops to do so, within their spacy, lysergic grooves. From the Floydian soundscapes of "Going Home?", with its warm Gilmour like guitar tones and oriental flavoured backbeat, through the cosmos exploring rocker "Beyond The Shades", the excellent " Children", with its Gregorian like vocal harmonies and addictive pulsating groove, to the equally Floydian closer "Home" there is not a moment, minute or second where you can second guess where these guys are liable to take you and their music next.


Stunningly beautiful at times, rocking and raucous at others "Hope?" is an album that delivers on its title, giving "hope" to those that believe good, well played intelligent music will always rise to the top and be noticed not only for its technical prowess but also for its emotional impact.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 6 October 2018

BURN RITUAL ~ BLOOD OF THE RAVEN .... review


What was once one is now four, Burn Ritual began life as a one man project of vocalist, guitarist and keyboard operative Jake Lewis and it was as a one man project that Burn Ritual's debut EP " Like Suffering" was recorded and released. Such was the reception to "Like Suffering" that Lewis soon realised if he wanted to see his music breathe outside of a recording studio he better get himself a band together and so in came Brent Standifer (drums), Richard Perez (guitars) and Chris Trezona (bass), the one had become four. The quartet soon started working on new songs Lewis had written and it wasn't long before they had enough material to fill an album, that album is now out in the world and flying under the banner of "Blood of the Raven" (Cursed Monk Records)


A jet black raven, depicted against an alien skyscape, riding thermal updrafts over the Great Pyramids graces the cover of "Blood of the Raven" and is a good indication of the sounds contained within. The album's Sabbathesque desert tinted stoner/hard rock grooves, over which spiritual themes are lyrically explored in mantra like tones, is not exactly new but damn it's effective.. Burn Ritual jam a groove not unlike that of cult Welsh weed worshipers Dope Smoker except for the fact that Burn Ritual are lyrically more wordy and a little less repetitive preferring to pepper their songs with a touch more dynamics and musicality. All of "Blood of the Raven's" seven songs are a masterclass in how to make a lot of very little, the band deviate very little from the main riff of songs like "The Mirror", "Repent" and "Cast Away" but its the way they lift and lower each songs dynamic by throwing in little fills,licks and vocal inflections that maintains the listeners interest and ensures everything sounds fresh and focused. Only once do they step off the groove path and that is with "The Creature Inside of You" a trippy "Planet Caravan" type outing with heavily phased vocals sang over reverberating keyboards and subtle hand percussion.



Burn Ritual's ability to create mesmerising, hypnotic songs that worm their way into the deepest recesses of your psyche is one that works to great effect throughout "Blood of the Raven", the band jamming trippy, trance like heavy psychedelic dirges that capture, captivate and enchant in equal measure 
Check it out ….. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 1 October 2018

CAVALLI ~ HUGANTIC .... review


British underground rock is in a very good place indeed ,what with bands like Desert Storm, Sergeant Thunderhoof and Boss Keloid (among many others) all getting noticed, not only here in the UK but also further afield, it feels almost like another "British Invasion", similar to that of the early 70's, could be beginning to build momentum . Hoping to join the party are Cavalli, a politically aware trio from London's East End dealing in raucous punk tinted stoner/hard rock and metal, a band who have been releasing EP's and turning heads with their live shows since their formation. The band's latest release "Hugantic" is an EP that not only has the grooves to raise their profile in the UK, it also has the songs that could see them joining the ranks of those mentioned earlier in spearheading this new resurgence in British underground rock music both at home and internationally.


"Hugantic" kicks off with "Stronger" a raucous riff fuelled romp that takes no prisoners, its aggressive punkish vocals, roared and growled over a backdrop of unrelenting furiosity, hits the listener with the force of hurricane, a whirlwind of noise that sets the tone for the rest of the EP and tells you in just over three minutes more about this band than Desert Psychlist could tell you in three paragraphs. "Super Anal Man" follows, a song that rails against the abuse of privilege and boasts the immortal lines "You wasted all your life thinking that you were Superman, everything sorted out by mum, spending daddy´s cash on drugs" sang over a groove that nods towards both the 90s desert rock scene of California's Palm Desert and the British punk scene of the mid to late 70's. Next up is "Holy Communion" , a furious  lyrical tirade against religion accompanied by a deliciously addictive guitar motif, reminiscent of something you might find on an early Cult album, driven by growling bass and insistent, solid drumming. Next track "No Borders" voices a thinly veiled ant-Brexit message around a groove that is a little  heavier, sludgier and more metallic than what has passed previously while "Flat Earth" pokes a stick at the narrow minded and blinkered over a furiously paced sonic onslaught flecked with bluesy guitar colourings.


Social commentary pitched against a soundtrack of punkish ferocity and dank metallic sludginess in a scene known for its songs about weed, wizards and witchcraft might be a bridge too far for some but for those of you with an open mind and a social consciousness Cavalli might just be the band you have been searching for
Check 'em out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones