Return Of The Son Gut Bucket: Canadian Underground Psych Explosion (Cardinal Fuzz/ Noise Agony Mayhem)

I have always been a fan of compilations right from my first tentative steps into the musical netherworld. Metal For Muthas, Axe Attack, Heavy Metal Thunder and Metal Killerz Kollection played a vital part in my discovery of so many bands. Of course in later years I lovingly made and received  mix tapes and cds. We were obsessed with their bizarre rules and track listings, forever trying to impress with obscure tracks and bands. That is why this compilation album is such a joy, with a great balance of  bands that are new and exciting as well as more familiar names contributing previously unreleased music.

Things kick of in the most excellent of ways with a band that is new to me called  Anunnaki , there is no messing around here, under four and a half minutes of dirty fuzz guitar that is just piled on top of a pounding beat, what’s not to like? Next up are Backhomes who deliver something from the other end of the psych spectrum, It is a dreamy kind of piece with lots of dark undercurrents. With the next track being by Hawkeyes, I am back on familiar territory. I first wrote about them a couple of years back  and they are regulars on my turntable, this track bears more resemblance to their split 12″ with Radiation Flowers that came out on Cardinal Fuzz earlier this year. Up next are Moths & Locusts  who tap into a 70’s vibe but with contemporary twist, their new album is out now and can be found here.  A change of style comes next with another new band that are new to me namely Psychic Pollution. A track that owes more than a little to the Krautrock sound of the 70’s and you know how much we like that. The aforementioned Radiation Flowers move things along nicely with gentle ‘Stuck In A Maze’.  With the insanely good Shooting Guns offering track that builds and builds like a big buildy thing you can’t go wrong. Why I don’t own anything by them is beyond me, I must have missed out for some reason, I deserve a damn good thrashing that’s for sure. If I say the next track is by ‘The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol’ and you know the name then I need go no further. If for some reason you don’t know this band, know this, they are just superb, the venerable Cardinal Fuzz has been mining their back catalogue and releasing their new albums for a few years now and every single release has been fucking epic!

Job done! All winner, no binner…My guess this is only scratching the surface of what is happening on the Canadian underground but for those of you with even a passing interest this is the perfect place to start.

 

 

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Their Satanic Majesties Request: The Album That Almost Stopped The Stones From Rolling

The psychedelic movement really exploded in 1967 the so called ‘Summer Of Love’, with each week spewing out albums that would become cornerstones for future generations of music lovers. To think that during this time’Hendrix’, ‘The Doors’, ‘The Velvet Underground’ and ‘Pink Floyd’ unleashed their debuts upon an unsuspecting public. Groundbreaking albums were produced and released by ‘Love’, ‘Moby Grape’, ‘ The Grateful Dead’, ‘Jefferson Airplane’ and ’13th Floor Elevators’, and establish artists such as ‘The Beatles’, ‘The Byrds’ and ‘The Moody Blues’ would push their sound into uncharted territory. As always though there are forgotten albums, and one album that constantly gets overlooked was made by one of the biggest bands on the planet both then and now. Of course this was the Rolling Stones criminally overlooked slice of madness that is, ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’. Often criticised for it’s poor production, lack of direction and a poor reply to ‘The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’. The truth is that these criticisms are well founded, but for me these are the very things that make it not only one my favourite albums of 1967 but one of my all time favourite albums full stop. So lets see if I can at least persuade you to at least give it another listen?

One of the problems people seem to have is that it is the only truly psych album in their back catalogue, and of course it’s true, but they had been pushing and experimenting with their sound for quite some time. They never had a ‘Revolver’, but I always feel they could have if they’d had more a understanding record label like the ‘Fab Four’. The ‘Aftermath’ album released in 1966 (USA and UK pressings do differ) was sprinkled with experimentation, ‘Lady Jane’ featured Harpsichord and Dulcimer, ‘Under My Thumb’ with it’s fuzz bass and Marimba. The album also includes the stoner jam of ‘Goin’ Home’ clocking in at over eleven minutes. Also, recorded at this time was ‘Paint It Black’ with Brian Jones driving the song into new territory with his sitar playing. January ’67 saw the release of ‘Between The Buttons’ (again USA and UK pressing have different track listings) which again show hints at what could have been.  The wonderful ‘Ruby Tuesday’ with Brian Jones playing the recorder, the batshit crazy ending to ‘Have you Seen Your Mother…..’, as well, as the largely ignored and socially driven ‘Yesterday’s Papers’ and ‘Something Happen To Me Yesterday’. Add all of these together and you have a clear picture that The Stones were pushing themselves lyrically  and they were clearly willing to take risks with their sound,it was inevitable that the next album was going to break new ground.

The problem was the band themselves, fame, fortune and ego started to get in the way and of course, the Stones legendary extra curricular activities played a huge part . On February 12th only a couple of days after appearing on  The Beatles monumental recording of ‘All You Need Is Love’, Keith Richards home ‘Redlands’ was raided by the police after a tip off from ‘The news Of The World’. This of course lead to both Jagger and Richards facing a very strong possibility of jail time. On May 10th Brian Jones was himself arrested and charged with drug possession. With all of this happening recording became at best sporadic, with band members rarely in the studio at the same time and when they were they often accompanied by  an entourage of hangers on. This lead to what many feel was the nail in the coffin for the album, manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham’s decision to quit. All of these distractions would lead to the recording of an album that despite its lack of direction, should be regarded as one of the true psychedelic classics.

In August of ’67 the band released the single ‘We Love You’ often dismissed as lame reply to The Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love’ and in many ways this is true. Its fey and trite chorus (featuring Lennon and McCartney) is at times grating, but this is made up in spades with its use of tape delay and mellotron,  Jagger almost spitting his anti establishment lyrics over Nicky Hopkins pounding piano and the sounds of jail doors slamming hints at their willingness to push the pop single boundary. Its b side was ‘Dandelion’, a wistful nod towards endless childhood summers and again the song was lifted by the use of Harpsichord and Brian Jones again opting to play oboe rather than guitar.

In December the album was finally released, the mooted title of Cosmic Christmas had been dropped as had the idea for a cover featuring a crucified Mick Jagger. The album was instantly panned by critics,fans and indeed the band themselves. It opens with the drug addled madness of ‘Sing This All Together’, a lysergic mess that barely holds itself together.As the track comes to an end I have often felt that it sounds like Kieth got bored and brings the  song to an abrupt end with his stabbing guitar riff intro to the next song ‘Citadel’, a song which holds all the trademarks of what in any other year could have been a Stones classic, but it is the brilliance of Brian Jones again that sprinkles it with magic playing Saxophone, flute and Mellotron. Probably one of the must curious tracks is Bill Wyman’s ‘In Another Land’. It may be a bit whimsical, but shows The Stones willingness to experiment, with Jagger and Richards only adding their backing vocals at the last minute and if you listen carefully and through the Harpsichord and Mellotron you can hear the distinctive voice of the brilliant Steve Marriot. It could be said that the next track ‘2000 Man’ is one of the safest tracks on the album and yet it feels somehow incomplete. Whatever possessed pantomime glam rockers Kiss to cover it, I don’t know! Side one ends with eight minute montage of sound that is ‘Sing This All Together (See What Happens) this is a stoners paradise, an aural melee that has you straining to hear the detail.

Arguably, Side two’s opener ‘She’s A Rainbow’ is one of the most loved Stones songs of this album and indeed the era. John Paul Jone’s lush string arrangement is argumented  by Nicky Hopkin’s playful piano. ‘The Lantern’ may open with a tolling bell but it features Jagger actually trying to sing and a real effort of vocal harmonies from the band. Keith really attacks his fuzzed up electric guitar to add a nervy undercurrent to a fairly acoustic affair.  Was ‘Gomper’ meant to be an attempt to copy The Beatles ‘Within and Without You’? It is certainly full of eastern flavour, however, I feel it has more in common with The Byrds-Eight Miles High, either way it has aged beautifully and is an album highlight. I have often wonder how many bands were influenced by ‘2000 Light years from Home’. It is an absolute tripped out space rock classic. Again, the song is carried by Jone’s Mellotron playing, its sweeping strings carry the song into a timeless void that the rest of the band fill their own flights of fancy. It has to be said the album should finish there. Unfortunately, ‘On With Show’ is as annoying as it is entertaining.

Never again would The Stones push themselves in musical experimentation. It was back to the blues,and in fairness it does seem that once they got this album out of their system they went on to record some of the greatest rock albums of all time,. This album with 3D artwork (that was maybe a little to similar to Sgt Pepper), is an unfocused druggy mess of an album that sticks out like a sore thumb in the Stones back catalogue. But, scratch the surface of this ugly duckling and you will there is a swan in there that never really got a chance to soar.

 

 

 

 

 

Cobra Family Picnic-Magnetic Anomaly (Cardinal Fuzz/Sky Lantern Records)

My record buying went a little bit mad last year, my wife would say it still is but I know better, the thing is how on earth do choose between all the records that come out its impossible. I know the sensible thing would be to buy files they don’t cost much, which means more music for yer money, but it just don’t feel right paying for something that just sits in a folder on the computer. The other option would be the cd cheaper again, but I’ve never got on with those silver discs, and at the grand old age of 45 I struggle to read the booklet. So its wax and wax only for me, maybe it’s the ritual (slaughter the goat play the record), maybe it brings back those halcyon days of record hunting with my old mate and the excitement of getting home to play it after spending a couple of hours in the pub examining them. So why am I telling you all this and where am I going with it? Well I spent my hard earned cash on this and you know what this is money very well spent.

The album itself flows with such ease, it rumbles and rolls. It is the kind of music for late nights. I sat in the garden the other day, just chilling with a beer and enjoying the vibe that it emits. The album does have a stoner vibe running through it but more than anything for me it was the bands willingness not to let the listener settle too longer. Opener ‘Draags’ eases you in with a steady rhythm, whilst guitars and a sampled Voice from NASA just intertwine but neither become too overpowering.  ‘IPT 001’ acts like an intro to the seven minute epic that is ‘Elysium’, a track that epitomises everything that I like about this so called ‘Desert‘ sound. It’s laid back, it’s trippy, it has dark undertones and it that all important groove. We have more Inter Planetary Travels  ‘IPT 011’ which is a cosmic soundscape that had me think of Pink Floyd‘s Meddle album and was certainly inspired by the Floyd’s 67-71 era. A fantastic way to close side 1.

Side 2 kicks off with ‘Frost’ which is a frantic trip that morphs into a glorious creeping Doors like finish. As the bass heavy ‘Gilgamesh’ really hits the sonic exploration button. Our ears are once again dipped into a well of psychedelic sounds (ITP 111) before the albums closer ‘Moody Mountain’ with its Myrrors-esque vibe. This is one of those tracks where time stands still, and the slow burning vibes just wash over you.

Cobra Family Picnic are one of those bands that seem to come along fully formed and their chops finely honed. Maybe it has been this bout of fine weather and the anticipation of those long hot days, either way as I spend more and more time in my garden this will surely become my soundtrack to my summer.

 

 

 

Vert:x- From Now To Now-Weird Beard Records

To completely loose yourself in music is a real treat, Vert:x are one of those bands I can really do that with. Their sound is built around that Hawkwind , Neu!Motorik inspired kind of groove that so many try to do but fail. The thing is, this lot get it. They know how that groove works and they know how to build upon it layer after layer. I guess you call this “Space Rock” but if you don’t  you should because you will end up Space associated superlatives without even realising. So strap yourselves in and prepare for interstellar travel (see what I did there).

‘Space Junk’ kicks things off and sets the tone. I know I mentioned ‘Hawkwind’ already but there is good reason because it taps into that source in many ways. The aforementioned groove, the proto punk infused guitars that brings to mind Chrome, The Stooges, Rocket From The Tombs, there is saxophone and there are synths throbbing and squelching throughout. A bit of a nod towards their influences can be found in the title of track two ‘Suns Of Ra’ and whilst you can hear a little ‘Sun Ra‘ influence this more of kosmische  trip, full of motorik beats that work their way round the cornerstones of the Krautrock sound. Naturally like all good albums, an absolute beast is saved for last. This is really where you can start with intergalactic phrases because the amount of distance that this track covers is incredible, the band use the full expanse of their sound to take us on a trip and what a trip it is, its a full on zone out and jump in kind of tune. Turn the lights out put the headphones on, but do the this at your own risk, you may just find yourself in another dimension by the end.

This album has been a long time coming, over the years tracks have cropped up on cdr’s and various compilations. So it’s great to see a bunch of heads (and beards) finally get together and get this album out on vinyl. So we have two firsts here, the first full on proper album by Vert:x and the first release on Weird Beard, and what a fantastic way to start for both of them. You can buy the physical album here but, where your physical self ends up, who can tell.

Thee Telepaths-Neon Spiral

That internet thing is well good init? I guess like most people I spend far much time with my face staring at a screen. Most of the time I’m on the look out for new bands, this lot caught my attention a while back. I checked them out because they had played a couple of gigs with the brilliant Psychic Lemon whose debut album on Drone Rock Records got a lot of plays here at Heathen Manor. After checking out ‘Thee Telepaths’ I put them on my very long ‘Bands To Investigate’ list and then forgot to investigate, until a chance online conversation revealed that I was in fact talking to a member of the band, who then sent me a copy of this E.P. I now have the great pleasure of telling you lot how bloody good it is.

I always thought the rules for an E.P. were four tracks to showcase where a band is at, at a certain point in time. If this is the case with this release, then I can tell you that ‘Thee Telepaths’ are in a good place. Four tracks of contemporary psych that are packed with melodies, ideas and ambition. Opener ‘War In My Head’ goes from strength to strength, slowly shifting and morphing until it reaches its final meltdown. ‘Swamp Thing’ is a full on wall of drone that kind of claws it’s way out of your speakers. ‘Fudge Mountain’ has a certain swing to it that had times had me thinking of The Cure, I’m not quite sure why or which song, maybe it’s because the band have verses, choruses, and middle eights that have you singing along and yet there is depth and claustrophobia. Album closer and highlight ‘Microsleep’ is an amalgamation of everything that has gone before. It has a punky, New Wave undercurrent, it’s as catchy as hell and at over nine minutes it avoids that dreaded pitfall of treading water.

‘Thee Telepaths’ draw from a great well of alternative music You can hear Punk, New Wave, Grunge, Detroit, Shoegaze and psych. If you pick out those genres from just four songs then you know you have just listened to something pretty damn good.

The E.P. is available from the usual places for digital download and the physical copies can be purchased here.

 

Three Dimensional Tanx-Attack

I have this idea every decade should have it’s own version of ‘Nuggets‘, that way the best of the underground would be there for future generations as a gateway to the forgotten greats of the past. Three Dimensional Tanx (3DT from now on), would fit onto any onto any decades version of the aforementioned compilation. You see, 3DT have that timeless quality. They take their ques from bands like The Seeds, ? and the Mysterians, The Damned, Teardrop Explodes, Spaceman 3 and turn them into something a bit more contemporary.

Over the years many bands have tried to recreate a classic garage sound and failed, usually from trying too hard. Where 3DT get it right is they have taken all of the components and made it their own and they sound like they are having the time of their life. For instance, album opener ‘Motorbootin’ clocks in at one minute and forty one seconds, in that short space of time so much happens, a kick ass intro, short sharp verses, to die for choruses, organ freak out, guitar solo and all done whilst sounding like The Saints doing battle with The Stooges. That is just the first song! This is the theme throughout the album the songs snarl, spit and bite but are drenched in almost pop like sensibilities. As the album progresses they stretch and push their sound, a fine example of this is ‘Trip Hazard’ which sounds like (to me anyway) Ray Manzarek jamming with the MC5!

So here’s the rub, I may have spent the last two hundred and fifty odd words name dropping and comparing and contrasting them with greats from the past, but just to do that would be unfair because everything is delivered with energy, urgency and aplomb that they become essential, they become fresh but most of they become themselves.

You can buy the album here along with lots of other goodies.

Days Of Purple And More Hope

There is a great community in psych world, bloggers, bands, labels and fans all interact via social media. Spreading the word about new bands, label releases, gigs, sourcing those missing pieces in your collection and even arranging meet ups and lifts to gigs. One of the shining lights in this community is Andy Uzzell who runs the brilliant Dayz Of Purple And Orange website. I was a regular reader of his blog before I started my own. When we became online friends he was always encouraging me, giving me tips and pointers and even letting me guest review an album on his blog. Last year Andy decided to raise some money for cancer charities and released the fantastic ‘Dayz of Purple and Hope‘. It was packed full of amazing tunes all donated by established and new acts. Sadly Andy recently lost his mother to lung cancer. Somehow as well as dealing with all the obvious emotions Andy has put together another compilation namely ‘Dayz of Purple and More Hope’ with the money raised going to the same cancer charities.

Once again for £10 you get more music you can shake a stick at. Twenty Seven songs clocking in at about three hours! ‘3D Tanx’ kick things off as only they know how a short, snotty piece of garage psych, ‘MOEWN’ deliver some high quality instrumental desert styled psych, the unbelievably good ‘TBWNIAS’ rock out with a track called ‘NST’.  ‘Dead Sea Apes’ have donated a version of ‘Tentacles’ and guitarist Brett Savage has done a cracking job with the art work. There is some mind altering motorik from ‘vert:x’, Rollerhands hit the spot with Keeping Om and E Gone do what they always do and that is be fucking excellent. Do I need to go on? take a look for yourself.  The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol, vert:x, HEAVY MOON, The Intelligence Service, Dead Sea Apes, Vostok, Three dimensional tanx, Psychic Lemon, Jonathan Morgan, Kanoi, Electric Moon, Sula Bassana, Camel Driver, MOEWN, Libido Fuzz, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Sautrus, Asimov, E GONE, THE PANCAKES – Germany, Cambrian Explosion, Bone Man, Strange Turn, Kösmonaut, Rollerhands, Mother mars, No Man’s Valley

We live in strange times, in a sometimes insular world that at times, looks like its falling apart at the seams, but it is the coming together of people to do good things like this that raises the spirits. If you can’t afford the full ten quid then treat yourself to a couple of tracks, every little helps as they say.

https://dayzofpurpleandorange.bandcamp.com/…/dayz-of-purple…

This is what Andy has to say.

At the arse end of 2016 I lost my mother to lung cancer. It was a slow, early and undignified end for a very special person. As is natural this brought about many, many emotions – grief, hopelessness, disbelief and anger…..anger that in this day and age when so much is technically possible, when inbuilt obsolescence renders all technology useless within months for the sake of the dollar, we STILL lose loved ones to the blight that is cancer. Following on from last year’s ‘Dayz of Purple and Hope’ compilation I have put together a ‘sequel’ or, rather, the next step in unfinished business. As with the previous comp, all profits will go to Cancer Research UK and World Cancer Research Fund International.