WINNEBAGO DEAL – live@The Cellar, January 18th 2014

It’s a bit of an Oxford spesh tonight as Winnebago Deal break their mini exile for a Cellar blast with Desert Storm in heavy support. Tickets are door-only and demand is high so we’ve got a pretty full house from the off, and there’s a definite buzz in the thickening Cellar air. Everyone’s up for this.

Here’s how it starts:

8.00pm Cellar doors open

8.10 first band starts

8.21 first mosh breakout

Yep, it’s one of THOSE nights – fast and physical, and that’s no surprise when Act 1 is Flack Blag, a Black Flag covers band featuring the Winnebago Bens. Blag and their two vocalists rip through Flag classics like Rise Above, Six Pack, Thirsty and Miserable, Depression and Slip It In without break or breath, finally shutting the set down with a mighty My War.

As they dismantle their kit, Melvins spill out from the between-bands PA to plant fat riffs back in our heads and that’s EXACTLY the right prep for Act 2: Desert Storm. Cue mighty rockin’ and bellowin’ and more rockin’ – the Storm know how to intoxicate the punters with a good-time brew, and tonight they do it by the keg load.

Armed with stacks of riffs and breaks and tempo changes, all threaded by a taut-but-just-loose-enough elastic groove that swings in all the right places, there’s no denying there’s a massive Clutch vibe coming off this crew – and that is meant in every way as a compliment. Pantera have been described as groove metal but, great as they were, to me they seemed a bit rigid for that tag. A bit too PRECISE. Tonight, however, that tag fits. Clutch fans, latter-period Corrosion of Conformity fans, get out there and support this band when they next have a stage.

Where Desert Storm had Melvins, Winnebago Deal have Huey Lewis and the News. Yes, Huey and his current affairs buddies waft across the Cellar while the band handover is made, as if we’re being slipped a sly sweet melody to counteract the evil anti-melody that awaits.

Winnebago Deal: heroes to many, gods to some, and a mighty kick in the head to everyone  who crashes their scuzzy orbit. I’m no diehard Deal-er but I do remember seeing them at the Wheatsheaf a few years back and the live version of the band obliterated the CD version – louder, faster, more brutal, more everything and tonight, it’s the same. They have not mellowed. AT ALL.

Tonight is nothing less than a total shitstorm.

You want grooves and breaks? Go anywhere but here because WD’s punk thrash ‘n roll offers no remorse, only assault. Seriously. The Line Up, Takin’ Care of Business, Manhunt, George Dickel and the Karma to Burn-esque instrumental Dead Gone all get played I think but really, it’s pointless trying to recognise tracks because it’s too loud to hear anything.

Better instead to soak up the screech and the fury, the flailing limbs and low-clearance surfing and enjoy it (yes) for what it really is – a spectacle. When Winnebago Deal are in town, you get battered.

By music.

End of.

PALMS – Palms

Released on Ipecac, 2013

If you’ve missed the post-metallic majesty of Isis since they called it quits three years ago, get your hands on Palms – and prepare to fly.

Palms is what happens when Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer finally emerge from their post-Isis existential fug to decide that yes, they WILL make a record and it will be with each other

but it won’t be instrumental. They want a singer. Question is, after thirteen years with Aaron Turner on vocal command in the old band, who’s gonna fit their bill?

Step forward Deftones frontman Chino Moreno. After striking up a hiking friendship (yes, really) with drummer Aaron Harris, it’s clear he’s keen and wants in on this new post-Isis project.

ISIS + DEFTONES: big-name rock merger or what?

Sure is. But whereas some all-star join-ups sound assembled and bolted together instead of organically grown – Audioslave’s debut being a case in point – this one is seamless and effortless and fully formed from the off. A strong Isis current flows throughout but it’s not the raw, guttural Isis of Celestial, nor does it dominate. No, this record takes the clean vocals and spacious musicality of Wavering Radiant (Ghost Key, Hand of the Host) as a starting point and then bursts skyward. This is a record that takes you places.

Musically that’s no surprise, given the pedigree of the players and the nature of their previous band(s), but in the same way that Om took their own legacy – Dopesmoker’s dense mantra – into more airy terrain, Palms do a similar evolution job with the layers, surges and flows that defined their Ipecac forefathers. Future Warrior’s hypnotic intensity and Mission Sunset’s slow build to bruising/beautiful low-end payoff – one of THE peaks of this expansive set – are most Isis-like, but there’s other stuff going on too. Electronic hues usher in a cool, hushed ambience, none more so than on the gently euphoric dream-state closer Antarctic Handshake. You get a sense of elevation, movement and open spaces, if that means anything. Twilights and sunsets and pre-storm stillness. That’s Palms.

Crucial to this new ID for the ex-Isis three is, surely, Chino Moreno. Deftones revel in both sensitivity and rage, and Moreno’s vocals here traverse that same spectrum. Sometimes hushed, sometimes screamed but never hostile, his soulful yearn sounds caught in the throes of ascension – just not departed yet.

And somehow, that’s exactly where the album belongs. Music to be swept with, and lifted by.

‘Ascending into heaven

while staring into hell.

We’re staring into heaven

descending into hell.’

Lyrics from Shortwave Radio. Says it all.

LISTING SHIPS – The Hayling Island Sessions

You wanna bit of instrumental rock action? Tight AND fluid, amped by post-punk sparks and propulsive bass? Then clamber up on Oxford’s Listing Ships.

Having had the privilege of seeing these guys live – one of those supercharged support slots where a band you’ve never heard before just blows your head for half an hour – I can say that, despite the sombre motions their name infers, they’re not afraid to let it fly. Proficient and ambitious yet in no way ramming 10-ton egos in yerface, it’s no surprise they’ve become a bit of a fixture at Audioscope in recent years.

Describing themselves as ‘nautically-inspired post-krautrock’, your first thought on listening to the Hayling Island Sessions is … where’s the latter? Watery themes abound, there’s no doubting that – track titles include American Steam Company, The 100 Gun Ship, Baychimo and Then Venice Sank so you get the idea – but even the barest of classic Neu! grooves on endless repeat ain’t here, nor is the loose-limbed fringe funk a la Can. Maybe it emerges more blatantly on subsequent records or maybe the post tag renders all references void but this much is true: there’s zero scope for trancing out and drifting off here. First, the tracks aren’t long enough. Second, they’re just too restless to lock onto a single repetitive hook.

Opening track Alba Adriatica builds from Explosions in the Sky delicacy to climactic fuzz-out and it’s a hard-rocking start but really, it’s when you get to American Steam Company that these Sessions REALLY kick off.

Fugazi must be an influence, or at least an inspiration. Voluminous, rolling basslines wooze while guitars surge and break with the same roomy dynamism as the Dischord giants, deftly shifting from impending turbulence in the first half to sheltered calm in the second. Then Venice Sank flits between paranoid twitchfunk skitter and wind-tunnel oomph – massive, a proper highlight. Equus Ager takes you from melodic promise to Pumpkins-esque overload without you even noticing.

So while the Hayling Island Sessions isn’t an epic in duration terms – 7 tracks proper plus the dialogue/drone skit Nutcracker Six and two remixes (the Rackham mix and the Karhide Bass Bass mix) – there are more than enough ideas jammed into these taut, multi-part pieces to keep it fresh after a stack of listens. Definitely a worthy intro to a band who WILL be on a stage near you soon.

AUDIOSCOPE 13: a partial review

12 bands in 12 hours from 12pm til 12am. That’s Audioscope 13, the annual Oxford all-day gig that raises money for Shelter by coaxing music fans out on a cold November night. How? With some shit-hot knowns, unknowns and soon-to-be knowns, that’s how. In its 13-event history, the late-night closing spot has been grabbed by the likes of Wire, Six by Seven, Damo Suzuki and Karma to Burn while countless bands have done the day shifts.

Unfortunately, the day shifts are beyond my grasp this year so let’s dive in unfashionably late to the Jericho Tavern and see what happens. All bands are new to me, in sound if not in name.

First, the news. Turns out that Thought Forms had to cancel due to illness. Now I’ve never heard them but their flyer bio (‘… Sonic Youth playing doom’) is the best of the lot and would surely win a prize if i) there was one ii) they turned up. Neither was the case but even if that bio is only half right, Thought Forms sound compulsory. Then again, you can’t believe all you read in promo bios – see Pet Moon later.

Eat Lights Become Lights are rhythmic nirvana for kosmiche heads. Two drummers – one sitting, one standing – hammer a relentless loco-motion that’s ultra repetitive, very Neu! and very nearly trancelike, shot through with bass, samples, drones and no vocals. At their best when Neil Rudd’s circular melodies build up to spacerock wah wah blowouts, this stuff really works live. Rave music for rock fans? Very possibly.

After the unpretentious, anonymous potency of ELBL, Pet Moon are an immediate contrast. Synth-heavy hook-heavy pop with R&B vox and fringe distractions (hair, not music) mean this band look way out of place on this bill at this hour. The dark-ish electro/Numan current is enough to divert at first but those currents fade fast when we’re hit with a mawkish pile of BALLS. Followed by another one. All benefits of the doubt evaporate and everything starts to irritate – the skinny jeans, the rolled-up t-shirt sleeves, the fringes, the Pop Idol frontman, the white vest …. no. Just. No. I leave them to it.

After the pretentious impotency of Pet Moon, Esben and the Witch are a total volte-face whose gothic tales transmogrify into huge post-rock walls of sound. I don’t know their albums and I don’t doubt their songs are more nuanced on record, but right now the Witch is a beast. ‘nuffsaid.

Closing the day and the event are Califone, the evening’s veterans. They’re late. Turns out that a guitar has gone missing – lost or stolen, we’re not sure yet – and that means ‘… it’s gonna be hard to play some of the songs. Has anyone seen a guitar?’ the singer asks.

‘It’s in a soft cover with Fender on it. The guitar is red-’

‘Is that it?’

A lone voice from the crowd. He points to a spot 5 feet behind the bassist. In that spot is a soft guitar case, solid in form, propped against some hardware. Bassist picks it up. Turns it, slowly – the word Fender appears. Opens the bag.

Yes. It is.

Califone then put their collective doofus to one side and turn in a 45-minute set that flits from piercing noise shards to dusty Americana, slide grooves, low-key acoustics and timeless classic rock with not even a bat of an eye’s lid. They cover a tonne of ground in their shortened stint but, sadly, not enough to make use of the red Fender. It stays in the corner, untouched.

And that’s the end of Audioscope 13 at the Tavern – a brilliant night of reps, vests and guitar thefts where a three-piece Witch nabs top plaudits.

See Audioscope reviews for 2014 and 2015, and Audioscope’s Music for a Good Home 3 CD

HALLOWEEN SOUNDTRACK?

Aaah yes… Halloween, the most metal of yearly celebrations. What makes the playlist? Sabbath, Maiden, Misfits, Cradle of Filth?

I’ve got two favourites for All Hallows’ Eve but two ain’t exactly a playlist so let’s pad it out a bit first with a few other choice, possibly bloody, cuts. In no particular order:

APHEX TWIN – Come to Daddy. Even without the video of Aphex-faced hoodie thug manchilds, tower-block terror and TV-horrorthing screaming G-force hell in a pensioner’s face, this nail-hard track never sounds less than wholly possessed. Demonic electronica, anyone?

SUNN O))) – My Wall. Yeah, the creep kings of low frequency unsettle the vibe magnificently with this 25-minute oozer. You could pick from a tonne of SunnO))) tracks but My Wall has Julian Cope’s ritualistic spoken word giving it that extra resonance.

EXTREME – More Than Words. A shocker on every level.

SCOTT WALKER – anything from The Drift.

MELVINS – Goggles. A slo-mo dead-body DRAG of noise, screams and distortion straight out of a serial killer’s basement. Find it on Stag. Goggles is mixed by Alex Newport so that’s some extra heaviosity credentials right there.

NINE INCH NAILS – Screaming Slave. A nauseating deconstruction … could it be the S&M mutilation screams and violent industrial production? Yep, reckon so. Total assault. Never EVER fall asleep to this, you’ll awake to a wide-eyed nightmare. Get it from the Fixed EP of Broken reworkings.

OK, top 2 time. In reverse order:

FANTOMAS – The Omen (Ave Satani). In a word, diabolical. Patton, Osborne, Lombardo and Dunn hit new peaks in mania with this dementedly OTT version of Jerrry Goldsmith’s classic score. Utterly inspired, check the Director’s Cut for more killer themes.

And finally …

TYPE O NEGATIVE – Suspended in Dusk. Type O Negative are made for the year’s twilight and this track – all 8 and a half minutes of it – shows the Brooklyn crew at their slow, suspenseful, vampiric best. A dark highlight of the entire Type O back catalogue, Dusk was hidden away as a ‘previously too embarrassed to release’ bonus on Christian Woman. Funny bastards. RIP Pete Steele.

IGGY AND THE STOOGES – Ready to Die

40 years after Raw Power hit the streets and sold next to nothing, Iggy and the Stooges are back: new record, new (bass) line-up and a new chance to kill off their recording career.

Because that’s what’s on the cards, right? Failure. Get this wrong and they’re pretty much done for as a recording band.

Of course, it’s their own fault. Such is the esteem with which the Stooges, Funhouse and Raw Power are rightly held that it becomes impossible for them to release anything without baggage – reputation, legend, untouchable three-record legacy, all of this is churned about with hopes and expectation whenever anything new is mooted. The Stooges are among the most revered of all rock acts so when they got back together a few years back and flopped the anti-climactic Weirdness into our eager beaver hands, we felt burned. Not by the reunion itself but by the record. The Weirdness was a dud which did zip to ignite those Skull Ring sparks.

Since then we’ve had Ron Asheton RIP, Stooges RIP, and Iggy and the Stooges reborn featuring a guy who hasn’t played music in 30 years.

That guy is the guitarist.

What could possibly go right?

In some ways, it doesn’t matter. You can’t ignore a new Stooges album. If nothing else, IT’S THE STOOGES. And who can resist a peek at James Williamson to see if he still has those raw power kill city chops?

So here we are. Ready to Die, reunion record 2013.

Burn kicks it off.

Burn shocks.

Burn is a kick in the teeth.

Broken-glass sharp with guitars on guitars on guitars, Burn makes you feel alive – exactly what Iggy and the Stooges are supposed to do. Make you walk taller, spike your step with a swagger. Williamson’s lean production fires fast off the wax and Iggy’s voice has, at last, snuck into the right register for his lowdown cool. Iggy yelp no more. Iggy growl.

Burn is way more vital than a band of their age have any right to sound. Sure, there’s the chance that the initial listener euphoria is nothing more than post-Weirdness relief but, after many spins, Burn still burns. Just as the Stones’s Doom and Gloom this year was the sound of them somehow finding their source, so it is with Burn. Doom, however, was just one of a pair knocked up for a pre Glastonbury compilation. Iggy and the Stooges have a record to get through. Can they keep it up?

Sex and Money’s sax-driven hardrock soul, blaring along with handclaps and hip-shimmying falsetto back-up, says yes. Taut, lean and sassy, it tells you that this is the Stooges of riff AND song, not just riff. Asheton, Watt, Williamson and Mackay are up for it and Williamson, as producer and co-songwriter, surely has to take some major credit. The band sound a thousand times more alive than on the Weirdness. Coincidence? Maybe. But probably not.

Ready to Die’s clipped chords punch through multi-axe tracks, Dirty Deal is rock ‘n roll Stooge-ified, and Job spits fuck-them attitude over a Loose steal. Yep, the band are ON. What about Iggy?

Singing lower than usual but sounding better for it, the Ig’s performance has drawn less than positive comments from critics and reviewers. Weak, they say. Half arsed.

I don’t buy that. Forgetting the dubious Pop lyrics that rear up (DDs, anyone? Great tune, but…), his voice is Iggy cool throughout. By the time you get to Unfriendly World and The Departed – tracks that could have lived on Avenue B – at the record’s end, you sense weariness. A wearied cool.

Then you check the lyrics and spot that in amongst the ‘I got a job and it don’t pay shit’ Ig-isms lie themes of loss, time running out, maybe even death.

So for all of its bomb-strapped artwork, Ready to Die isn’t twentysomething nihilism with nothing to lose. That was Raw Power. Ready to Die comes from the other end of life, sung by a man whose body has finally crashed from that biology-defying superfreak peak.

Is it a parting shot? I dunno, but if it is then it wipes over the Weirdness. It’s not Raw Power II but why should it be, how can it be? If that’s what people expect, it’s the wrong attitude.

Raw Power was 40 years ago. It’s already changed lives. They can’t do it again – not for anyone who’s lived with Stooges music long enough to have it wired into their circuitry. We can’t hear them for the first time again.

But we can hear them now, in 2013, and hope – like any fan would – that Ready to Die rocks hard with a bit of the old Stooges fire. And it does.

Honkeyfinger – Beasts E.P.

If cassettes are making a comeback then this Beasts EP from industrial slide-blues manglers Honkeyfinger is the future. Lurid cheapo yellow, double wrapped in CARDBOARD – a rustic corrugated self-folding box – and stamped with only the most essential text, it’s a low-tech high-value pack that wholly befits the primal fuzz furled around the spools.

And primal is the word. Deranged might be another. Channelling a Blues-Explosion howl and laying it with max distortion over a moto kraut rhythm that POUNDS, opening track 21st Century Man is this year’s best tribute to the Heads but without any of the Bristolians’ stretch, speed and infinite wah. No, Honkeyfinger packs it way tight.

Honkeyfinger packs the blues.

Not downbeat back porch unplugged blues but hotwired-into-the-mains blues. Fried blues, deviant slide guitar kill blues, screaming from a low-watt yellow-bulb basement-squat blues: THAT’S what we’re hearing here, for this track at least – Jesus Built My Hotrod blues, compressed by a shallow production that flattens all the air and space out of it.

Wiseblood slows the pace, lurching and heaving like a pissed cyborg, before Fever Rising wheels in the creeped-out carousel madness of Silver Apples. You know those rhapsodic gospel blues jams that go on and on and ON at a pace that fetches up your agitation, makes you feel twitchy with its hypermania? That’s what this points at. Which is probably why it’s got the name it’s got. Harmonica rips and clarinet strips, the latter peeled off by Duke Garwood who, if memory serves at all, did some time with the Archie Bronson Outfit a few years back. He also put a record out with Mark Lanegan this year … same Duke Garwood? Must be. I’d like to hear that. Bet it sounds nothing like this though.

Closing it all off is the sludge comedown: In the Realms of the Noble Savage, a gasping crawl through sewer stink while roadwork pneumatics hammer above on the topside outside, oblivious. Seedy slow underground … blues. Never forget the blues.

And there we have Beasts. Machine beats, no-depth underproduction, slide ‘n harmonica, distorto vox, lo-fi all the way. How Honkeyfinger fare over a full-length album is anyone’s guess and it might just be that an EP, short and sharp, is the ultimate shock dosage. Bring out the next one quick.

Honkeyfinger: Beasts (Greasy Noise Records, 2013)

Limited edition (100) cassette

Tracks:

  1. 21st Century Man
  2. Wise Blood
  3. Fever Rising
  4. Noble Savagery

Arbouretum: live@Port Mahon, Oxford, August 2013

Baltimore rockers Arbouretum follow their Green Man Festival date with a mini tour that takes in a mini venue: Oxford’s Port Mahon. Standing room only, surely.

 

Please, no encore. Don’t make this go on any longer. Make it stop.

And stop, they do. No encore. Arbouretum get it, and we can get out. RELIEF.

Which is not quite what we were expecting ahead of a gig that, let’s be honest, is a bloody exciting prospect. Listed on the posters as ‘the smallest gig of Arbouretum’s UK tour’, this has to be the rock event of the month bar none. Not even Eels and Nick Oliveri, who are both playing Oxford tonight (sadly not together), can top this one. My mate Si drove all the way over from Cardiff having seen Arbouretum 24 hours earlier in Bristol, declaring it one of the best gigs he’d ever been to. Cardiff-Bristol-Cardiff-Oxford-Cardiff in a day and a half is a pretty conclusive testimonial.

But back to tonight: history is written. Why?

HOTTEST GIG EVER.

Stupid-hot, it is. Pouring sweat and light-headed flakiness all round. The bassist does well to keep his eyes open and stay upright, and the only way to get through this high humidity hell-hole is not to move. At all.

More of this later though ‘coz before Arbouretum take the tiny stage, we have two local bands on the bill – Coma Wall and Listing Ships.

Coma Wall are the unplugged alter ego of the doom-laden Undersmile. They lay funereal Alice in Chains-esque harmonies (Sap/Jar of Flies) over sparse, almost-rustic acoustics and drag it all out at an Earth-paced crawl. A melancholic start for sure.

Listing Ships, by contrast, are all over the place. I mean that in a very precise, right-side-of-muso way – their instrumental math/post rock fusion is krautrock propulsive, bringing to mind Explosions in the Sky jamming on Battles or early-Foals. Or summat. Exhilarating stuff.

We wait for Arbouretum and feel the Ships-generated exhilaration slowly turn to perspiration. Equipment problems delay the headliner’s start and there’s a hint of agitation in the thickening air. Arbouretum look distracted, a bit tense. It’s getting hotter. Finally they start. They get it wrong, it’s a balls-up. They stop.

‘Well, we’ve never done that before,’ says frontman Dave Heumann. ‘You are witnessing a first.’

This error and frank admission somehow breaks the onstage tension and frees them, finally, to do what they came here to do – mesmerise us with their amplified Americana, fluid heaviness and out-there escapism. Arbouretum’s music belongs somewhere earthy and mystical, somewhere without boundaries. It rolls and surges. It’s unhurried but it still rocks. For some reason I start to imagine them playing in a bedouin tent.

But they’re not in a tent. They’re in an airless sweatbox which, by the time the set nears its end, is slowly forcing people out the door before the band call time on their set

Arbouretum still win though. They’re a class act, no doubt about it. We saw that, even if we were too beaten to fully reward it. Bristol next time?

Karma to Burn – live@Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, July 2013

No-frills power-trio Karma to Burn bring guitar-bass-drums fury to the Bullingdon. Or do they?

As we know, Karma to Burn are all about the expected. End-to-end riffs, no vocals, no experimentation, no frills. They do not deviate, they do not change: certainty is their currency and you pretty much know what’s coming up – an hour or so of shit-kicking, dust-and-gasoline guitar hooks ground out by three grizzled road-dogs bonded by a volatile history of bad drugs, bad attitudes and band break-ups. Seeing the reunited Will Mecum-Rob Oswald-Rich Mullins line-up nail the Audioscope headline slot a couple of years ago was a proper treat, and now they’re back to give us more.

But before West Virginia headlines, Oxford must support. That honour falls to local heroes Desert Storm who charge the Bully with infectious, Clutch-inspired rhythm ‘n groove and supreme confidence. Immense.

Karma to Burn take to the stage almost without anyone noticing. And as the first notes crunch forth tonight, something’s not quite right.

Who’s the drummer?

And where is the bassist?

First question first. By not following Karma’s personnel moves last year, I missed the fact that drummer Rob Oswald left not just the band but music itself, sick of the lies and compromises at the business end of the music business. He got out.

As for the bass space … it remains a void. Rich Mullins never shows. Nothing is mentioned.

So for a band who trade in certainties and absolutes, this is an unsettling start. Does Will Mecum (guitar) plus a drummer (Evan Devine) count as a Karma to Burn experience?

Sonically, yes. As soon as those amps push Mecum’s Karma-sized riffs out, the doubts diminish and grins emerge. This music isn’t sophisticated, it’s as stripped down as you can get – there aren’t even any solos – and yet, live and loud in a small venue, it unleashes a very primal urge to just ROCK OUT. The Bullingdon back room does exactly that, whirling into a mosh as the wordless tracks blast past. Job done. And with job done, Mecum and Devine swiftly depart.

Whether this two-piece format is Karma to Burn’s future is something we don’t know yet. Losing Oswald’s unkempt wildman intensity is one thing but if Mullins’s genial cool is AWOL too … that’s a hefty personality deficit for a band who are pretty minimal to begin with. Tonight they pull it off – I think. Let’s see what happens.

Naam: live@the Wheatsheaf, Oxford, June 2013

Rock action beckons when Naam take the Wheatsheaf. Beards optional.

 

 

 

 

You check the gig listings.

You see the phrases HEAVY PSYCHEDELIA and DRONE CORE BEHEMOTHS next to a band’s name in a preview.

You don’t know the band.

But this sounds promising.

No, this sounds unmissable – colossal drone AND transcendence? In the same night? At the Wheatsheaf?

No-brainer. Naam are a band I’d never heard of but there’s no way I was missing that.

Didn’t manage to see the first support band but the second support, Oxfordshire three-piece Caravan of Whores, made an immediate impact. Again, not a band I knew. The singer looked familiar. But that’s because I’d seen him unloading a van of gear (musical) on the High Street a few hours earlier.

Onstage, it’s muscular mid-tempo riffs they unload, riffs that reference 90s stoner yet are anchored by downer roots – less blues, more blackened. A few escapist psyche-jam flourishes and tasty time changes show that the Whores have the chops to shift their doom-riff devotion into something more textured.

And so to Naam, four unassuming fellas from Brooklyn signed to Tee Pee Records, the label that put out Sleep’s restored Dopesmoker record a decade ago.

Not for them the monolithic bludgeon of Matt Pike’s crew, though. No, these guys are a less singular musical proposition than that, preferring instead to embark on lengthy light-dark excursions that embrace Pink Floyd’s expansive moods but add a little heft.

With the odd nod towards post-Sleep mantra gods Om, as on Skyscraper, and an ever-present keyboard swirl, Naam craft some seriously free-flowing currents to carry you off and away. Tracks like Vow and Beyond bring the band’s tougher edge and Hawkwind pulse to the fore, while elsewhere they flit with ease between tempos, moods, density and space. Ebbing heavy prog with a psychedelic wash: that’s what fills the Wheatsheaf tonight.

Which makes the pre-gig drone core tag a bit …  off. SunnO))) and Ufomammut they ain’t.

But classic spacerock trippers they definitely are. If Black Mountain at their Bright Lights heaviest or Crippled Black Phoenix at their most Floydian make it onto your playlist, Naam are well worth checking. Keep your eye on ‘em.