Listening to the new album released from a well-established formation is generally something nice to do: thanks to their qualities, these kinds of bands have already emerged from the mass of mediocre publications and therefore we can expect to listen to something interesting and enjoyable. But when there is a new band that arrives and impresses for originality and value, the pleasure is really incomparable with anything else. Especially because the idea of discovering good underground formations is definitely more exciting than writing a couple of paragraphs for the fifteenth disc published by a well-known group, for which there are hundreds of reviews already available on the web.
In recent times I had the pleasure to discover an interesting band arriving from Chile, called Neoyka. And it was love at first sight. I was truly excited to enjoy a fresh and lively approach to stoner music, something which emanates since the first riffs all the passion and the efforts that were spent by the band in the recording studio. These guys come from a city called “La Serena”, which stands for “A Serene City”, and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that their intriguing version of stoner rock produces such a feeling of positivity and universal energy.
Neoyka’s new album is named Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso and it follows their debut LP, named Vol. I, which was released in late December 2013. With respect to their first release, the band has now incorporated a keyboardist/synth player as a permanent member, and this gives a hint about how the group is progressively incorporating psychedelic and progressive sounds into their sound. Their latest publication, in fact, oscillates between what we could define a rather conventional stoner rock, with reminiscences from groups such as Kyuss and Fu Manchu, and a variant of that psycho-stoner that’s played today by bands like All Them Witches.
The collection of songs that we find in their new record moves with good naturalness between these two versions of stoner, and in both cases, we can appreciate a remarkable quality of songwriting together with warm and engaging sounds.
This is an album which will be appreciated by all lovers of stoner rock and stoner metal. There is no real innovation in the music of Neoyka, but they know what they do, and they do it very well. I’m going to track them with more attention from now on, there is really good potential in this band.
My overall rating for the album is 6.5/10. My favourite songs are 70 Rockas, which is a straight and simple stoner track in the style of Kyuss, Nuestra Marcha, which starts slow but then evolves into a catchy and quite original song, and the dreamy and fuzzy suite which concludes the LP, named Introspection.
Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Neoyka are now featured in DUST AND SAND, the playlist with the best of modern stoner. Check it out, listen to it and follow it, because it’s periodically updated with new songs.
Summer proceeds relentlessy towards its conclusion and we can only to try to keep its spirit alive with through the warm and arid sounds of stoner rock. In this chart I’m presenting the list of my favorite stoner albums and EPs that have been published since the beginning of 2018, including both “conventional” stoner and its psychedelic variations.
You’ll find here both legendary bands such as Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet and Orange Goblin, but also a bunch of extremely promising formations coming from many different parts of the World.
Enjoy this list of albums and don’t forget to check if there are newest updates in the stoner section of the blog.
#1) Sundrifter, “Visitations”
Sundrifter is a three piece stoner rock band from Boston, in the United States. Visitations, their second full-length album, makes no effort to conceal the origins of the sound of the band, which draws heavily in that inexhaustible source of inspiration that is given by the first couple of albums from Kyuss. But even where the imitation goes so far as to almost plagiarize the original (please listen to the beginning of the third track, Lightworker, just to get an idea) these guys still managed to put in their music so many elements of innovation that, in the end, they’re actually playing their own and unique version of stoner. And this album succeeds in being together a celebration of the great masters of the past and an absolutely valid and original piece of work.
From a musical point of view, the band shows an impressive capacity to blend together classic stoner music with elements from psychedelic rock and space rock. The development of the songs, in most of the cases, is that typical of stoner music: an initial riff of guitar, loud and rhythmic, on which are added to follow an opulent bass and an essential – but still warm – rhythmic session. On top of that there is the fantastic voice of Craig Peura, which is in effect the winning element of this album and perhaps the real element of differentiation from the many other stoner bands we have today.
In summary: Visitations is a really valid LP from a band which managed to fuse together the celebration and the homage to the legacy of stoner rock with a number of characteristic features which make their music absolutely solid and unique.
The album is available on Bandcamp and can be also streamed from Spotify.
#2) Orange Goblin, “The Wolf Bites Back”
As a long-term fan of stoner music, I must admit that I have never developed a particular affinity for the English metal band Orange Goblins. I clearly appreciated the various albums they have published in their twentythree-years long career, but without ever developing an emotional connection like the one I have for other formations playing the same genre of music. On the other hand, the emotional bond with certain bands sometimes comes (or not) independently from their absolute value.
The sensations that I had once I heard their latest work, however, were completely different and probably The Wolf Bites Back is the first album among the nine that they have released until today which made me feel an immediate sense of enjoyment and adrenaline. Maybe it’s because of the stripped-down and raw attitude that they put in the recorde, perhaps because for the first time the level of intensity of the songs remains high from the beginning to the end of the record, the fact is that Orange Goblin’s last record it remains permanently in my music player from the date on which I entered it for the first time.
Surely one of the elements which I appreciated the most of their last LP is that the bluesy rock elements are nowadays relegated to a secondary role and what you get in most of the album is a straight and fierce attack of genuine stoner, without any esitation or vacillations. The band really decided this time to ride with the accelerator pedal always pressed to the bottom, and the rare ballads that appear sporadically among the songs are short and concise breaths of fresh air rather than a signal of a more general slowing down of the machine. It’s nice when an historical band manages to keep the quality of its productions so high across the years. And it’s even better when the same band manages to surprise you with one of the most effective and direct works of their entire production.
Weedpecker are a relatively new psychedelic stoner band from Poland. In the relatively short timespan of six years since their formation the band has already released three full-lenght LPs, all of them of absolute value. The last one, named III as the position that the album has in the discography of the band, is a joyful ride through desert soundscapes burned by the sun.
There are many different influences in their sound but these guys from Warsav still managed to maintain a unique style and direction in their music, which may be summarized as a dirty and fuzzed version of stoner rock. As correctly reported in the album release notes, III sees Weedpecker experimenting with light, colorful jams that remind the listener of Tame Impala or Morgan Delt. Moving seamlessly between styles and moods organically, it’s easy to get lost, only to find yourself emerged in a different world entirely.
A couple of songs of the album (Embrace and Liquid Sky) may be considered real masterpieces of this particular style of music.
ASG is one of those bands that didn’t achieve the success they deserved. Active since 2001, this quartet of veteran stoner rockers have gained the status of cult band in the underground movement, but they remain fairly little known to the international audiences. Probably this is because their studio albums can’t match the reputation which they gained for their wildly energetic live shows. Anyway, for everyon who’s been lucky enough to appreciate the works of this band from North Carolina, the news of the release of a new album is always welcomed with great enthusiasm.
Survive Sunrise, their sixth full length and first new album in five years, provides the listener with another fine selection of psychedelic stoner rock. Most of the songs of this album have slow rhythms and the music conveys the feeling of a hot and sweaty evening, when the sun slowly gives way to the blue of the night, and your face, burned by the sun rays and made harsh from the dust collected during your journey, can finally enjoy a breath of fresh air. Singable and delicate melodies develop over the psychedelic and southern atmospheres that are drawn by the guitars, and the scene is then completed by the incredible voice of Jason Shi.
Survive Sunrise is a really solid and valid album from a band that, despite not being not very prolific, has always managed to leave its mark in the stoner world with every new work. Perhaps the stylistic choice to contain the energy and to prefer the most introspective aspects of stoner rock will not make them achieve mainstream success, but their road is now signed and these guys do not seem willing to negotiate popularity with their unique and special vision of rock music.
The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be also streamed from Spotify.
#5) Akula, “Akula”
It’s not easy to find many details about Akula, this new band from Ohio, in the U.S., which dropped an intriguing album of psychedelic rock mixed with sludge, doom and post-metal. The material included in their homonymous debut LP is extremely interesting and provide the listener with an absolutely innovative approach to this kind of music. Some elements of their songs, such as the clean vocal sections, are absolutely brilliant and in some moments create a very special contrast with the hardness of the guitars. The album consists of only 4 tracks – very long – and it’s basically divided in two sections: a radio-friendly first half with the most accessible music, and a more experimental second part where the band plays with more articulated rhythms and more dissonant and atmospheric sounds.
Fu Manchu are one of the most famous and appreciated bands in stoner rock and, as such, every new release from them is awaited by fans with great trepidation. They also managed to become one of those groups that can be recognized after only a few seconds of listening thanks to the particularity (and the beauty) of their sound and also the unique voice of Scott Hill.
Unfortunately, however, the years pass for everyone and with their recent album Clone of the Universe, this iconic quartet begins to show some signs of regression. More than 30 years have passed since the foundation of the band and that magical fluid that until today made all their songs to be vivid and fresh seems to be in short supply. It is no coincidence, then, that in this last LP these legends from Southern California seem to play with the brakes pulled, favoring the sounds and the atmospheric aspects of their music rather than that immediacy and spontaneity we were used to find in their songs.
There are still very good moments in the LP and also some clear signals from the band to accept new challenges and take new paths, as can be seen from the track “Il Mostro Atomico” (yes, in Italian) which is an epic 19-minutes tracks that reiterates almost indefinitely the same riff.
King Buffalo is a trio of extremely talended psychedelic rockers from New York, in the U.S. Three years after their formation in 2013 the band released their first full-lenght work, Orion, which gained in short time a relevant consideration, initially limited to the underground scene but which rapidly expanded to an international audience. These guys play in fact a beautiful kind of psychedelic rock with many elements from blues, stoner and sludge.
Early in 2018 the band published a short EP with three tracks, named Repeater, that in some way may be seen as an extension of the previous album. The title track, in particular, is an hypnotic and psychic anthem which grows along 13 minutes of pure musical beauty.
Monster Magnet are considered among the most important and influential bands for stoner rock (the “Godfathers of Stoner” as I’ve recently read on a magazine) and indeed through their numerous publications and vigorous live performances they have really cemented their status of one of the most legendary groups in the contemporary rock universe.
Given this premises it’s easily understandable that Dave Wyndorf and his bandmates don’t feel any urge to follow the trends or to force their music to sound “modern” and catchy. As a matter of fact, their name is in itself a guarantee of quality and their fans already know what to expect when a new record from Monster Magnet arrives on the shelves.
Mindfucker is their eleventh album and, as expected, the record continues to move along the same road that has been traveled so many times by the band, with no major changes in their typical sound if not for the fact that in many parts of the LP we feel a stronger aspiration to reach the real essence of rock and roll: smooth riffs, fiercy rhythms, powerful and stunning guitars. This is pure and simple retro-rock, and the stoner elements in many songs leave the field to a more basic “hard rock” style.
The album is basically an excellent collection of new songs from a band that doesn’t want to make any surprise, they just try to improve every time what they can do best, and they actually do it. For many fans of the band, in fact, Mindfucker has all the characteristics and the potential to become a classic in the band’s discography. From such a legendary formation, however, one could also expect sometimes to see them exploring new directions, not because of larger consensus but simply to enrich the journey, so interesting and full of inspirations, that they started now thirty years ago.
Yellow Dust is a German stoner band and Slodge is their new album, released in January 2018. The album sees the band engaged ith both the sound and dynamics of stoner rock and the slower and more abrasive sounds of sludge metal. In all honesty I can say that in the first case (i.e. with the stoner songs) the results are undoubtedly better. The sludge tracks in fact do not take any particular advantage from the raw and low-fi production of the album, and they don’t show neither any particularly exciting idea that can sustain and valorise the longer and relatively psychedelic songs that complete the record.
Anyway, the album is a good step forward with respect to the band’s debut LP and brings the signs of a raw talent that could give us great surprises for the years to come.
Slodge is available on Bandcamp, where it can also downloaded for free.
#10) Black Moth, “Anatomical Venus”
Black Moth, from England, is a band which is trying to find their own way into the stoner genre through the integration iof elements from psychedelic rock and doom into their music. Anatomical Venus, their last LP, brings a bunch of good ideas and a number of interesting deviations from the canons of the genre. The album, however, doesn’t always manage to match the expectations that were raised from their previous releases.
Black Moth’s music is characterized by the nice insertion of interesting and “cinematic” pieces as well as many psychedelic and doom elements. Anatomical Venus is also enriched by one of the most fantastic female voices of the modern rock panorama.
The new album by Black Moth can be streamed from Spotify.
Stoner music is typically associated with heavily distorted guitars and mighty bass sounds. There are some rare moments, however, in which our favorite artists abandon the heavy and scratchy sounds to give us glimpses of desolate landscapes and delicate moments of poignant poetry.
I’ve collected in a Spotify playlist some of the most contemplative and intimate songs that were produced in recent years by the most famous artists of stoner music. You’ll find here musicians of the caliber of John Garcia, Brant Bjork, Truckfighters, All Them Witches, and many others.
Enjoy this collection of songs and follow the playlist because this is expected to grow with time as soon as new gems are discovered. And don’t forget to recommend new songs if you feel that I missed some major contribution to the playlist. Enjoy!
I love stoner music, at this point it should be clear to all the readers of this blog. It is a passion that stays with me since I was a teenager and this music, in some way, brings me back to that exciting phase of my life. But it is not only nostalgia, of course, there are the impressive sounds, the desert atmospheres, the exciting riffs and, very often, some of the most beautiful voices we can find in a rock band.
As a long time follower of stoner music I can tell that the musical production in this case is anything but uniform and regular: there are peaks in which two or three albums of absolute value arrive to the shelves and then, sometimes, absolute silence for long months. The first part of the year, fortunately for us, belonged to the first category and in particular we had the opportunity to listen to one specific work, Sundrifter‘s Visitations, which immediately entered the prestigious club of the Best New Music. Let’s see now the complete group of stoner publications of the first months of 2018.
When you’ll read my comments on these four albums you may notice that these are not always enthusiastic despite the fact that I’m collecting here the “best records” of this period. As far as stoner is concerned, my standards are extremely high and I’m generally not satisfied with a couple of good tracks per record. In the end, however, these remain valid and interesting albums and you will get your own opinion when listening to the songs that are proposed below.
This chart reports the best albums for the first part of the year. Everyone who landed here via a search engine could be interesed in having a look to the stoner section of the blog, you can check by yourself if there are more recent updates. Enjoy!
#1) VISITATIONS by Sundrifter
I already mentioned that VISITATIONS, by Sundrifter, is by far the best stoner album of the year so far. In this LP the band from Boston shows an impressive capacity to blend together classic stoner music with elements from psychedelic and space rock. The development of the songs, in most of the cases, is that typical of stoner music: an initial riff of guitar, loud and rhythmic, on which are added an opulent bass and an essential – but still warm – rhythmic session. On top of that we enjoy the fantastic voice of Craig Peura, who’s is in effect one of the winning elements of this album and perhaps the real element of differentiation from the many other stoner bands that we have today. The full review of the album is available here.
#2) CLONE OF THE UNIVERSE by Fu Manchu
Fu Manchu are one of the most famous and appreciated bands in stoner rock and, as such, every new release from them is awaited by fans with great trepidation. They also managed to become one of those groups that can be recognized after only a few seconds of listening thanks to the particularity (and the beauty) of their sound and, in particular, of the unique voice of Scott Hill. Unfortunately, however, the years pass for everyone and with their recent album Clone of the Universe, this iconic quartet begins to show some signs of regression. More than 30 years have passed since the foundation of the band and that magical fluid that until today made all their songs to be vivid and fresh seems to be in short supply. It is no coincidence, then, that in this last LP these legends from Southern California seem to play with the brakes pulled, favoring the sounds and the atmospheric aspects of their music rather than that immediacy and spontaneity we were used to find in their songs. There are still very good moments in the LP but, unfortunately, we also cope with less exciting and excessively slow and conceptual tracks, like an epic but somehow questionable track of almost 19 minutes that reiterates almost indefinitely the same riff.
#3) SLODGE by Yellow Dust
Yellow Dust is a German stoner band and Slodge is their new album, released in January 2018. The album sees the band engaged ith both the sound and dynamics of stoner rock and the slower and more abrasive sounds of sludge metal. In all honesty I can say that in the first case (i.e. with the stoner songs) the results are undoubtedly better. The sludge tracks in fact do not take any particular advantage from the raw and low-fi production of the album, and they don’t show neither any particularly exciting idea that can sustain and valorise the longer and relatively psychedelic songs that complete the record. Anyway, the album is a good step forward with respect to the band’s debut LP and brings the signs of a raw talent that could give us great surprises for the years to come.
#4) ANATOMICAL VENUS by Black Moth
Black Moth, from England, is a band which is trying to find their own way into the stoner genre through the integration iof elements from psychedelic rock and doom into their music. Anatomical Venus, their last LP, brings a bunch of good ideas and a number of interesting deviations from the canons of the genre. The album, however, doesn’t manage to be always exciting and thrilling in all of the songs and when compared to their previous LPs we can feel that their creativity seems to have reached a stasis point. Although there are still some interesting and “cinematic” pieces, the problem with this record is that the loss of ferocity and aggression generated by the insertion of psychedelic and doom elements is not compensated, in the end, by an equal level of creative inspiration. The approach taken by these musicians, whose music is also enriched by one of the most fantastic female voices of the current years, remains thus interesting and intriguing, but this new step in their career is not at the same level of their first two records.
If you enjoyed this post, have a look at the following:
SIDEWINDING, a stoner / sludge mixtape released a few weeks ago.
Sidewinding is a type of locomotion used by snakes to move across loose or slippery substrates such as desert sands. The method of movement is derived from lateral undulation and it’s accomplished by simply lifting all the segments with the same slope off the ground. In the resultant movement, the head of the snake seems to be “thrown” forward, and the body follows, being lifted from the prior position and moved forward to lie on the ground ahead of where it was originally. Meanwhile, the head is being thrown forward again.
Inspired by the song Targeted included in the recent LP by Sundrifter, I’ve crafted a new mixtape with the objective of maintaining the atmospheres, the rhythms and the sounds of the starting piece. I have selected some of the most beautiful stoner and sludge songs of the last few years, focusing on those featuring dark tones and psychedelic flashes. The result is now a mix of 40 minutes that transpire the smell and the restlness of the desert, a place where the spirit is driven to fly away without control but where you have to keep your eyes open and look around for the dangerous bite of the snake and the other wild beasts that may be around.
The tracklist of the mixtape starts with Targeted by Sundrifter, the stoner band from Boston which recently entered our prestigious club of the Best New Music. Visitations, their second full-length album, draws heavily in that inexhaustible source of inspiration that is given by the first couple of albums from Kyuss, but features a number of characteristic features which make their music absolutely solid and unique.
Among the newest tracks that are featured in the mix we may listen to Lethe from the recent long EP Andromeda by American progressive rockers Undercover Rabbis, and Nowhere Left to Hide, one of the many slow tracks that are included in the brand new LP by stoner legends Fu Manchu.
Earlier this year we already introduced King Buffalo and their interesting new EP Repeater, which presents a beautiful mix of psychedelic rock with blues, stoner and sludge. The title track of the EP was featured in the mixtape PSYCHOROCK, while here we may enjoy the track called Too Little Too Late.
The mix is completed with tracks from three important albums that were released in the last few years: the excellent Slow Forever, published in 2016 by American sludge duo Cobalt, Midnight Cometh, the most recent LP from the psychedelic doom and stoner rock band Wo Fat, from Texas, and Tao of the Devil, which is the last studio LP from American rocker multi-instrumentalis Brant Bjork, who’s best known as the drummer and founder of the influential Californian stoner rock band Kyuss.
The first load of records of 2018 is almost running out and we’re ready in a few days to find out what good things in music will come out in February. Looking at the Music Notes of last month it’s easy to say that we certainly had some confirmations (for example the very good album by Bobo Stenson) but – as often happens – among the best publications of the last weeks there were many artists on which we didn’t pay particular attention at the beginning. Let’s repeat the same game: I indicate in this article which are the most interesting releases of next month, across all the main genres that are covered by the blog. We’ll see in thirty days from now how many of these artists have confirmed these expectations. Stay tuned!
Field Music, the indie rock band from UK, are going to publish on February 2nd their new album, Open Here, which will be the seventh of their discography. According to a number of interviews they released in the last few weeks, the new work should present an expansion of the sound that we have heard until today and therefore a certain level of experimentation. The single that was shared in anticipation of the new LP, Count It Up, is a nice and relatively light song that makes extensive use of sounds and effects from the music of the 80s. We’ll find out soon what the other songs on the album reserve for us.
This name won’t be known maybe for the majority of the readers of the blog and probably it will also arouse some perplexities, but in reality Turbonegro are a very respectable Norwegian punk rock band, initially active from 1989 to 1998 – their golden age – and then reformed fifteen years ago. Rock’n’Roll Machine, their forthcoming album to be released on February 2nd, will be the tenth of their discography and it interrupts a period of more than five years without official publications. From the singles that have been shared so far, we can defintely expect another good collection of their anarchic and enjoyable rock.
Franz Ferdinandis one of those groups that unfortunately failed to maintain the exceptional hype and interest which aroused with their first releases. In the two years in which they published their first two works, the self-titled Franz Ferdinand in 2004 and You Could Have It So Much Better in 2005, the group achieved incredible fame and resonance. Subsequent works did not keep the expectations and their aurea got a little blurred with time. On February 9 the band is releasing a new LP, the fifth of their career, and we will see if the guys from Glasgow will succeed in collecting the same appreciation of their first works. The single that’s playing now on Youtube, in this respect, it’s interesting enough to leave us hopeful for the full record.
Those who follow with fervent expectation any sign of activity from the mythical metal band TOOL will probably already be informed that while waiting to know the date (or the era) of the publication of the new album from the group, we can probably console ourselves with the debut work from Legend Of The Seagullmen, a new supergroup featuring TOOL’s founder Danny Carey on drums, Mastodons’s Brent Hinds on guitar, together with other interesting musicians. The debut self-titled LP from this band will be out on February 9, and everything we heard so far pointed in the direction of a great record.
Tith their previous records the jazz trio GoGo Penguin has gained the appreciation of an extremely wide musical population Thanks to the ability that they have shown to develop a type of jazz that attracted a very wide public, including those that usually don’t listen or appreciate this genre music. We could say, in other words, that they’re becoming the most liked jazz group for non-jazz listeners. The music played by this young British trio, in fact, incorporates extremely modern elements spanning from atmospheric music to rock, passing through electronic and modern classical music. GoGo Penguin has announced the release of their new album, named A Humdrum Star, which will be out on February 9. From what has been shared so far of this new record, the same formula will be repeated again and A Humdrum Star could easily become another successful entry in their discography.
Fu Manchu, the legendary stoner rock band from Southern California, will release on February 9th the long awaited new album Clone of the Universe, which arrives four years after the excellent previous LP Gigantoid. This album is expected to be one of the most important events for the stoner scene in 2018, in the same way as Emporor of Sand by Mastodon did last year. At this point we have to hope that Fu Manchu’s new record will confirm the big expectations we have at the moment, because the single released by the band as an anticipation of the forthcoming album – which is also the title track of the LP – looks a litte static and without too much inspiration. Let’s see what happens.
American avant-garde artist and composer Laurie Anderson and the renowned American string quartet Kronos joined efforts to produce what seems to be a great record, Landfall, which is expected for release on February 16th. The music was presented in occasion of a concert in New York and the reviews were extremely positive. Also the tracks that are already available show a very particular juxtaposition of strings and electronics.