DRUDE FONK AND DC TRIBUTES

MARCH REWIND: NEW COPE, NEW CRYSTAL

A couple of new releases from the past month or so to get us going in this March Rewind.

Julian Cope: Rite At Ya

Julian Cope: Rite At Ya

Cope: Rite on

Coming off the back of Drunken Songs, the Archdrude and his heritage Heads slipped another mind-number of a Rite-off our way this month… Rite At Ya. The last one, in 2006, was Rite Bastard. If you don’t know the Rite score, it’s an ongoing series of semi-fonk longflows in a metronomic, ultra pared vein where Not Much Happens except groove – minimal – and time – maximal. These self-styled meditational headspaces have no peaks, dips, breakdowns or pick-ups, just endless miles of sly stone-wheel trundle and tangerine dreams. Rite at Ya’s title track will nibble 20 minutes of your life without you even noticing, while the closing Ringed Hills of Ver tells you what Underworld might sound like if they got stuck on a one-note drone and added nothing. Rite on the level, the clue’s in the subtitle: Monotonous Meditations from the Back of Beyond (1993–2016). Check it here if you so fancy the most calming of trips.

Crystal Fairy: Crystal Fairy

Crystal Fairy

Pure cut

Does this band pack some crackle or what? With Teri Gender Bender on voice – shades of Karen O – atop King Buzzo’s heavy weaponry and, of course, the Dale Melvin Omar Volta Rhythm Section, Crystal Fairy are surely as pure a super-quart as we’re gonna get all year. Undeniably Melvins in its riffsome tonnage, as Drugs on the Bus and Secret Agent Rat amply show, yet concise and sharp and free of obtuse indulgence, Crystal Fairy flies with a punkish energy that wastes absolutely none of its 40 minutes 19 seconds. Another great Melvins rebirth… one for senile animal lovers.

RSD10

It’s the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day this month. Here’s the list. Nothing. Crucial. Except Dope, maybe. Think I’ll give up on hoping for something to come out of these lists every year, coz every year it feels like a list of specials that are special because they were made special for an event that was labelled special. How circular. Let’s just get down to the record shop, that beacon of noise and beauty and community, and CELEBRATE IT the shop both with and without RSD vy-nil. 

DC tribute

Which musical DC are we paying tribute to, Washington? Nah. Other end of the alphabet. Last week’s gig was an AC/DC tribute – the AC/DC Experience at the Oxford O2.

‘tribute band’. Right…

The tribute circuit always seemed to me to be a credibility-sapping Other World that ran parallel to the real one, but that thought was banished and swapped for a full-blown leap (to be explained) through a lightning-bolt portal to an AC/DC experience, tribute style. And you know what? These guys are a blast. The Scott-Johnson frontman hits the highs with ease while an Angus Young takes himself off the stage at every chance – in the crowd, up on the side tables, up on the bar, cap and blazer thrown off, the whole lot. Never stops moving, never stops playing either.

With the exception of Thunderstruck (which is awesome, natch), none of the set is more recent than Back in Black so it’s wall-to-stage-to-bar-to-wall classic-era anthems: Sin City, Whole Lotta Rosie, Highway to Hell, Back in Black, Hell’s Bells, Dirty Deeds, Touch Too Much, High Voltage…. the stuff that puts smiles on everyone’s faces, and I mean everyone – including my stepson Jan (age 12), who is the reason we are here in the first place. His First Rock Gig, first proper bit of live rock action. Seemed to me to be the right place to start the apprenticeship and he loved every minute. Even got devil horns in his face from the Angus – and threw them right back. Not gonna get that at Wembley, are you?

So if you’ve got young sons, daughters, nieces and nephews who wanna rock, or maybe even a bunch of drunk mates who wanna rock, the AC/DC Experience make it happen. THANKS LADS, great night.

’til next time!

 

DRORE: Tapeone

SPLASH METAL: THE BOG YEARS. Brutal sludge, straight outta Oxon

Tapeone starts with toilet humour. Literally. 40 seconds of what sounds like a giant piss, but if you ride it out then you make it into the lurching dirtball that is Skinjob, aka Tapeone’s track one. And at this point (piss excepted), Drore are probably what you’d expect – or at least, not un-expect – from a band made of two ex-Undersmile and a Crippled Black Phoenix: heavy, muddy, mid tempo business as usual. Until, that is, a ferocious double-kick screamcore blast, as unhinged as it is unexpected, shreds all preconception…. WTF???? Undersmile, gothic grinders of punishingly slow doom. CBP, widescreen purveyors of fluid spacebound psyche. Ne’er a gallop between ’em, ’til now. That’s Skinjob. That’s Drore. 

Drore Tapeone

So, compared to the parent bands, Drore are a very different kettle of scaly ones, packing feral sludge and noise overload into four concise scabs. Hippy Crack growls like … hell, I’m gonna bring the Big M in here: Metallica. Specifically, 2003 Metallica. St Anger Metallica. Great album (no, not joking) and, in the title track’s pre-verse riff, one of Metallica’s most primal moments … utterly monstrous, and Hippy Crack’s got the same growly churn going. Greys channels dank nightmare squalor, while Fukbags (the best Trainspotting character that never was?) even allows a sliver of post(ish)-metal to break through and ease, just for a mo, the full mettle racket that is Tapeone’s fetid stock.

When Drore opened for OHHMS last month, they came across as a band who make Massive Fucking Noise just because they like making Massive Fucking Noise, and the EP captures the MFN easily – listening to it after a live show is not a let down, not at all. The distorted scuzz-mammoth filth with the hostile slacker vibe is very, very much intact.

File somewhere near: Fudgetunnel, Godflesh, Greymachine, Louisiana metal, Part Chimp, Harvey Milk, St Anger, an open sewer


NEWS!!! Make space for Tapetwo, coz it’s just been recorded. NEW DRORE SHIT, ready to drop. Stand clear of the splash zone.



ALT 90s RADIO HOUR

KYUSS, DARKTHRONE, SLINT AND MORE: 6 MUSIC SPECIAL

What’s this? Demon Cleaner by Kyuss is the opening track of a Freakier Zone 90s spesh?

GET. IN. Who’d have thought that Maconie would go anywhere near Gar-Homm Bjo-Ree’s desert rumble, unique though it is? Not as though he shuns the heavy and the extreme, far from it, it’s just that their downtuned wide open riffology lacks the fusion prog ecperimental thing that tends to make the FZ tracklist … Kyuss just rock, but in a way that no-one else ever did: a band that make you FEEL it every damn time. True behemoths of the pre-millennial decade.

So yeah, they start the hour, and in their dusty trail are benchmark 90s names like Darkthrone and Slint, plus other notables from the avant end of the alternative Souls at Zero-era Neurosis, Scott Walker on a Tilt, you get the gist. Do I hear…21? 21? 21? Sure do.

Check the show right here. Not as extreme as the Greg Anderson playlist from a few weeks back – no Mortician for starters (what???) or Asschapel (fair enough) – but it’s a solid hour for exploratory rock heads, and the following day’s Freak Zone looks at IDM with Warp Records and Artificial Intelligence (all part of the My Generation: the 1990s thing at the beeb/6 Music –  worth a dig, there are stacks of programmes that swerve well clear of unplugged Live Forever sheee-ITE from 1994. And plenty that really, really don’t).

THE NINETIES. Formative music years over here, and sure to inform future reviews… what about you?

 

COPELESS IN CARDIFF

FEBRUARY REWIND: LOST GIGS, THRASHERS’ ROMANCE AND BOWIE’S LAST PLAN

Beer-fuelled tunes, trusty mellotron, acoustic guitar – possibly some lurid shade of green or orange – and piss-funny visionary tales from a shamanic rock-onteur perma-decked in shades n’ leathers with lashings of YEAH MAN! optimismo…that’s what you’re heading for when you get a ticket for J Cope 2017. Out on tour in support of Drunken Songs, he’s wrapping it all up at the Globe in Cardiff on Feb 26, which is where we find ourselves reading a just-posted note that sez NO GIG.

Shit.

And without the Archdrude on stage, there’s not much else to report from February. Let’s hope all is well in the Cope camp.

LOVING THE DISEASE

When did you last hear Caught in a Mosh on daytime radio? Never? Then treat yourself to a nice little old-school buzz with Mark Radcliffe’s Valentine Day show with Scott Ian and Frank Bello. Top fellas, ace chat, find it at 1 hour 35 minutes into the show, listen on a weekday afternoon for max pleasure (expires March 14th). Death Angel, Pantera, Sepultura and Slayer also played, as are Powermad – straight outta 1989, vintage frash par excellence.

NO PLAN FOR BOWIE

The last tracks recorded by David Bowie finally got their non-Lazarus physical release this month. No Plan, Killing a Little Time and When I Met You all follow the Blackstar vibe, and Killing… is especially turbulent heavy like the reworked Sue. What an ending.

Otherwise, it was Drore and OHHMS blowing out the Cellar that was the Oxford highlight and we’ve already covered the gig, so that’s it for now a very short REWIND, time to get outta here.

’til next time!

OHHMS: live

OHHMS / MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD / DRORE @ THE CELLAR, OXFORD, 13/02/2017

What a bonus. Turn up at the Cellar for the OHHMS/Mammoth double-header and find that Drore are on the bill as well, making it a triple ugly. NICE. Except that Drore are not nice, not at all. Staggering out from Undersmile’s RIP with scabby song titles like Skinjob and Fukbags, Drore are ruff, scuzzy, sludgy grrrowly FILFF, and unlike Taz and Olly’s so-slo Undersmile, this lot play the mid and fast field with stacks of gear shifts and double-kick beatdowns. Always noisy and never melodic, there’s a thick grunge whiff but not in the Seattle sense … nah, this is grunge the Godflesh way, pissed out of toxic wastepipes and topped off by pained hell-o shriekage from Taz and Crippled Black bassist Tom Greenway. No doubt about it, Drore create a world all their obnoxious own and it’s a proper ugly thrill. No wonder they bagged a few Terrorizer column inches last year.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard made it into some end-of-year album lists in 2016 so this gig was always gonna be a chance to catch what they’re all about, but their static doom reps somehow underwhelm a bit tonight, ‘specially after Drore’s violent discharge.

No such underwhelm for Canterbury’s OHHMS though, a band who seem stupendously fully formed given that they’ve only put out two EPs, but if you came here expecting oceanic transcendence a la Bloom (massive) and Cold (even massiver) then you/we are out of luck because that version of OHHMS is not in the building. A mere half hour of stage time means it’s New Stuff Only tonight, and they hit it hard. With tracks like The World upping the pace and packing in some aggressive Pelican-ese riffs, we might have a bolshier, denser OHHMS heading our way … let’s see what The Fool brings in March, eh? The only thing lacking tonight is TIME: not enough. And for a band like OHHMS, that just ain’t right.

*update: just read that one of the gig highlights – drummer Stephen Frame – is Drore no more. Ach! News is over on the Drore bacefook page

 

SLEEP: Dopesmoker

THE RETURN OF SLEEP

Southern Lord’s physical release of The Clarity marks the start of some proper Sleep activity this year, so what better prep for rock’s heaviest slumber than a nod or ten to the unstoppable Dopesmoker? This review was first written for Julian Cope’s Head Heritage Unsung back in 2004 so the time references are a bit out now, but that don’t matter … it still stands true, the bong remains the same.

*****

Now spreading its hefty gut over 3 sides of vinyl is the fully restored, who-ate-all-the-pies mix of Dopesmoker, the last album by cult doom/stoner trio Sleep.

Dopesmoker by Sleep

Sleep’s Dopesmoker on Tee Pee Records

Although the tale of its original recording and subsequent non-release has long since passed into underground lore, it deserves a hazy recap.

As the follow-up to Sleep’s Holy Mountain from 1993, this was supposed to be the band’s third full-length release. After spending a couple of years on the record, Sleep eventually dished up the mouldy fruits of their hard-smoked labours to London Records: a single track clocking in at over an hour. That, in itself, might not have been a problem (for the label) had their been some light and shade, some variety or even, dare we say it, a recognisable concept… but no. This is Sleep – the really deep, molten-eyelids stuff that’s just a stoner’s throw from Coma Tose Island. And that means one riff (pretty much) equals one song equals one hour, the simplest equation in the history of rock. Didn’t add up for the label, though. They refused to release it, Sleep refused to change it and a deadlock ensued; the threesome split and the album remained on the shelf, cementing Sleep’s legendary status. Rise Above did manage to put out a shortened version called Jerusalem but, finally, in 2003, Tee Pee Records did the honours. Here’s what the sleeve notes say:

Dopesmoker is an alternate version of Jersualem that we felt our fans might enjoy. This early version, as yet unheard, contains a more dynamic recording and a heavier mix. So get high, crank it up and listen with open ears and mind…”

So… let’s get started, eh?

Well, nearly. Dopesmoker almost doesn’t start at all. Beginning with a slow, arthritic guitar line that just about musters the energy to lumber out of bed, it sounds a wee bit lost, trying to work out where it should go and which path to follow. Once the rolling percussion kicks in, however, a massive revelation comes to pass: “Fuck it. I AM the path.” And from thereon, there are no questions – you go with it, or you don’t: The Riff has been set free, swaggering ahead with all the ludicrous brilliance of a hundred-mile tractor ride, and that is what sucks you into the vinyl… the compelling absurdity of an hour-long opus that warps the fabric of time itself. Never mind Superman flying the opposite way around the planet – too many rotations of this platter and the world would stop for good. Aside from the occasional solo, lyrical interlude or brief excursion into more subtle terrain, Dopesmoker just keeps going… and going …and going. Not in an interminable, ultra doom slo-mo sense because Chris Hakius’ busy drum fills give it urgency, or at least the illusion of urgency. Nope, this obstinate mass of Sabbath-inspired heaviosity is an exercise in endurance, momentum and constancy. Even when the needle nears the very end of its marathon run, there is no cornball climax or pyrotechnic finale, just a soft fadeout which suggests the Sleep guys could have carried on for another couple of earthly rotations. In fact, they probably did. I like to think so.

But there’s more to this album than one gargantuan ode to weed. Closing the record on side four is Sonic Titan, a live track with a groove so loose it almost shits itself, guitar strings flapping like flares in a force 10. Doom garage, anyone? At 9 minutes, it’s a mere slip of a toon.

Stubborn? Stupendous? Absolutely, but the sublimely ridiculous never went down this well. If thick guitars, repetition and maximum mileage are your bag, succumb to the temptation of Sleep. Your body needs it.

PIGS, OHHMS, FAIRIES AND BEER

JANUARY REWIND: NEW HEAVIES FOR 2017

Been a busy month for new discoveries so excuse the gush of these short sharp first impressions but they’ve given January a bit of a jump start, y’ know? A frisson for the short freeze.

PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGSthe-wizard-and-the-seven-swines

Pigs. One pigs is not enough (grammar violation overruled) for some people, which is how you end up with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs as a band handle. Doesn’t look quite so bad when written down here, but when you’re scanning the DAB text scroll to catch the name of the band whose rough-arsed rollock has fully pricked your ears, it’s an infinite porker drag. What the fissing puck is all this pigs shit???

Worth the wait though so it’s a big snouty thanks to Gideon Coe for playing whatever the track was in the first place, because without that introductory exposure to pigsx7, I’d have been forever deprived of The Wizard and the Seven Swines, their 22-minute one-tracker from 2013. Does Fugazi ire, Sleep heft and Thee Oh Sees scorch tease thy aggro-prog garage psyche cravings? Then check the Pigs, meet The Wizard and keep all ears peeled for new album  Feed the Rats.

HEAVY RESISTANCE: OHHMS

You know how some stuff, when you first hear it, is so massive and all-enveloping that it begs, nay commands, you to drop down for heavy duty worship to the Rok Godz?

OHHMS is that stuff. Long swollen subterranean Yob-bery that peddles a mainline in transcendent rifferolla, the Bloom/Cold EPs add up to a massive 60+ minutes for four just tracks – go for the total immersion entry point of The Anchor and see if you ain’t sold on Cold. New album on the way, and Jeezus HC only knows how The Cellar is gonna contain their oversized moltenalia when they hit Oxford on February 13th. CANNOT WAIT. Support comes from Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, by the way.

TWO MELS, A GENDER BENDER AND A MAN FROM MARS

Melvins have been obscenely collaborative in recent years, and now they’ve got another ID on the go though it’s not under the Melvins banner. Nope, the Buzz n Dale show have hooked it up with Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Teri Gender Bender to form Crystal Fairy, and if the album is anything like the tracks played by Henry Rollins on his Iggy Pop 6 Music sit-in then it’s gonna be tight like (a) Senile Animal. Album due out v soon on Ipecac.

ALCO POP: BEER-FUELLED DRUDENESS

The return! Of the former Lord Yatesbury! Yep, Julian Cope is BACK with a new album: Drunken Songs, a record celebrating Cope’s official embarkation on a Beer Trip that was launched in Armenia a few years back. W-anchored at the back by an oversized Road to Tralee and inspired in part by the funeral song that Cope wrote for himself – As the Beer Flows Over Me, first appearing on Psychedelic Revolution but rerecorded here – Drunken Songs finds the Drude in light mood musically, all mellotron-ic melody and Black Sheep-ish acoustica. He’s on tour as well so don’t miss this highly focused rambling, man – see you in Cardiff for that one.

ADAMS UN-AMPED

Finally, Do you still love me? by Ryan Adams – ace acoustic-only tuneage, nailing that gentle downer vibe.

’til next time!