Quick Review: “Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso” by Neoyka

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.


Best New Music: “John Garcia and the Band of Gold” by John Garcia

The beginning of 2019 has been particularly generous for the fans of stoner music: we have just received, just like a late Christmas present, the new album from one of the most important, influential and acclaimed figures of the stoner scene. I’m referring to John Garcia, the voice of the desert, the American vocalist and songwriter who has illuminated with his shining talent the world of stoner in the last thirty years.

John Garcia’s musical career has been marked by many important phases: he founded the legendary band Kyuss and after that experience he contributed to many other formations such as Unida, Slo Burn, Hermano and Vista Chino.

John Garcia performing live with Kyuss in 1995. You can see in the picture the band’s guitarist Josh Homme, who later founded the rock band Queens of the Stone Age.

Approximately five years ago, the singer from Arizona started a solo career which has already seen the release of three studio records: 2014’s self-titled LP John Garcia, 2017’s The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (where Garcia presented in a totally acoustic arrangement a bunch of new tracks and some of Kyuss’ legendary songs) and, finally, this year’s John Garcia And The Band Of Gold.

John Garcia’s third and latest LP: “John Garcia and the Band of Gold”

As soon as I started listening to the new record I immediately realized that this wasn’t just John Garcia’s latest LP. This album, in fact, could likely represent a turning point in the career of the American musician. John Garcia And The Band Of Gold shows a tangible shift towards hard rock and southern sounds and, in this respect, the album represents a relative departure from the classical “stoner metal” of Garcia’s previous releases. John Garcia And The Band Of Gold is therefore one of those records that you have to listen and enjoy without making continuous comparisons with the artist’s previous discography. Let me be more precise: if the operation of evaluating this new album in the overarching context of Garcia’s career is absolutely normal, especially for long-term fans (as I am), I believe that expecting from each new song written by Garcia to be the new Gardenia is wrong, and it doesn’t make any justice to the phisiological evolution of Garcia’s music, and the evolutionary process that he has undertaken in the last few years. I repeat: this has nothing to do with the overall appreciation of the new album, for which everyone is free to say whatever he wants. This is rather my humble recommendation: to approach the new LP by taking into account that, in its essence, this is basically a record of contemporary hard rock with stoner influences. And it’s no coincidence, therefore, that the part of the album that’s closer to classic stoner is the final one, in which the band reinterprets in an “electric” way the unpublished songs that were initially presented in Garcia’s fully acoustic LP The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues.

John Garcia today.

Once made the necessary recommendations, let’s now focus on the new material released by our beloved singer. The first thing to say about John Garcia And The Band Of Gold is that the record is incredibly fresh, bright and also fun. There are many positive elements about Garcia’s new effort, but the thing that impressed me since the beginning has been the stylistic coherence of the LP. The album has a compactness out of the ordinary and it emanates a sense of confidence that honestly we couldn’t find when Garcia started his solo career. Compared to the music contained in 2014’s Garcia’s debut as leader, the artist today seems to have calibrated much better his style and he’s in condition to offer a collection of songs that go straight and without any hesitation along the road he has now chosen to follow for his music. There are no drops of tension, no dramatic changes of atmosphere, nor even the usual alternation of ballads and heavy pieces that we’ve listened in Garcia’s debut. The new record is like a car that runs fast along the straight and hot roads of Arizona (I’ve never been in that part of the US, but this is how I imagine the roads there). Clearly there is the risk that in the long run the LP could suffer for a relative lack of internal dynamics, but at least in this first phase of listening the compactness of the songs seems to prevails over everything else, and it makes the album absolutely exciting and enjoyable to listen to.


The majority of the tracks of the LP are characterized by simple but extremely appealing riffs, which result at the same time accessible and engaging. The album is immediate and ready to be assimilated already from the first listenings, but it doesn’t lose brilliance even after several runs in the stereo. For sure Garcia and his loyal bandmates (who are basically the same musicians that gravitated around him in the last few years) know very well how to win the hearts of the fans, and they do it on every new album. As a matter of fact, there are artists that have the capacity to write riffs and choruses that stick into the listener’s memory just from the first times you listen to them, and John Garcia is one of those. A few songs, in particular, have all the credentials to become new classics in his vast discography and they have also the potential to excite the audiences of the singer’s future live shows.


If I had to highlight a negative aspect of the record, I would have expected something more for the vocal part. John Garcia has one of the most beautiful and recognizable voices of rock and listening to him while he sings is always one of the most rewarding experiences for a stoner enthusiast (I have seen him live three times, and I can say that in the recent years, under this point of view, he is really in great shape). Nevertheless, in this last record I feel like Garcia has put on show all of his usual repertoire, which is really much stuff, but without ever surprising us with something unique and new.


In conclusion: John Garcia and the Band of Gold is another precious entry within the discography of one of the greatest musicians of all times, and not only within the stoner scene. It provides many elements of innovation to keep alive the interest of the long-term fans of the artists, and for the same reason presumably he will disappoint a few of them. The direction of Garcia’s music as band leader is now clear and his performance as singer is solid and brilliant, despite I would have preferred something new also on this aspect. Finally, the songs of the new album have a level of accessibility and immediacy that make the LP as a good entry point even for those who aren’t familiar with the previous production from Garcia.

If I should express my rating, I would say 8/10.

The album can be streamed from Bandcamp and Spotify.

My favorite songs: Chicken Delight, Apache Junction, Jim’s Whiskers, Popcorn, Don’t Even Think About It and the opening instrumental track Space Vato.



Songs from the album John Garcia and the Band of Gold are featured in DUST AND SAND and THE DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER, the two playlist I’m curating on Spotify with the best of new stoner music. Listen, follow and spread the word!



THE DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER: The Softer Side of Stoner Music

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!

 


 

 

Could the Kyuss song “Odyssey” be inspired by a Scottish ballad from the 1700s?

The other night I was listening to some Irish folk songs and at one point I had the clear impression of being in front of a musical motif I already knew. I focused my attention and finally realized that it was Odissey, one of the most beautiful songs written many years ago by Kyuss, the legendary American group that launched the stoner genre and which is probably one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years.

I began to deepen the comparison and the analysis of the two pieces, initially trying to figure out wheter it was just my impression or if the affinity was real. Subsequently, once a clear resemblance between the pieces has been established – notwithstanding the evident differences between the two musical genres, which make the direct comparison between the songs particularly difficult – I tried to understand what song could have influenced the other. And it is at this point that a world of new information opened before me, which I will now try to tell you in this article.

Let’s start listening to the songs.

The first one is an extremely enjoyable folk song called Carpenter House, which we listen here played by a Celtig folk group called Runa (here is their website).

 

Another version of the same song. The audio is a bit ‘worse but the notes of the song will prove important for the continuation of the investigation.

 

Let’s move now to Kyuss. Here it is the wonderful Odissey. The section of the song that I would like you to listen with particular attention begins 35 seconds after the start of the song. But perhaps you should listen to all the music here because that’s a real masterpiece of rock. Obviously we’re dealing here with stoner music, a genre that was born from the merging of heavy metal, doom and psychedelic rock. We are thus in another musical dimension with respect to folk music, but I assume that people used to go beyond the wall of sound crated by the distorted guitars can focus their attention on the beautiful riff of the first verse of the song.

Kyussfor those few unfortunate readers who did not know, was an American rock band formed in Palm Desert, California. This is one of the bands that have indelibly marked the history of modern rock, and in some ways they have invented a genre of music that sees today hundreds if not thousands of groups around the world trying to reproduce their sound and to replicate the beauty of their songs.

And now let’s compare the two songs putting them next to each other.

 

In my opinion the similarity is evident, even with all the differences related to the different musical styles of the two songs.

By reading the notes of the Rune’s video we learn that their folk song is the reproduction of an historical Scottish ballad named “The Daemon Lover“, also known as “James Harris“, “James Herries“, or “The House Carpenter“. This is a beautiful story of a man (he could be the Devil himself) who returns to his land and his former lover after seven years of sailing, and finds her with a husband (usually a carpenter) and two sons. The man, however, persuades her to come away with him on the sea, leaving her husband and the children behind. The ending is dramatic, with the woman discovering that the destination of their journey is hell – here represented in the form of a mountain.

A version of the song that’s particulary engaging is the one by Tim O’Brien. Here you can find the song and the lyrics.

Well met, well met, my own true love
Well met, well met, cried he
I’ve just returned from the salt, salt sea
And it’s all for the sake of thee

I’ve come for the vows that you promised me
To be my partner in life
She said my vows you must forgive
For now I’m a wedded wife

Yes I have married a house carpenter
To him I’ve born two fine sons
It’s seven long years since you sailed to the west
And I took you for dead and gone

If I was to leave my husband dear
And my two babies also
Just what have you to take me to
If with you I should now go

I have seven ships out upon the sea
And the eighth one that brought me to land
And four and twenty bold mariners
And music on every hand

It was then she went to her two little babes
And kissed them on cheek and on chin
Saying fare thee well my sweet little ones
I’ll never see you again

They had not sailed much more than a week
I know that it was not three
When altered grew his countinence
And a raging came over the sea

And when they reached the shore again
On the far side of the sea
It was there she spied his cloven hoof
And wept most bitterly

Oh what is that mountain yon she cried
So dreary with ice and with snow
It is the mountain of hell he cried
Where you and I now will go

 

I discovered that there are many versions of this ballad, which has been interpreted by at least 50 different artists including Bob Dylan and Damien Jurado.

Interestingly, the song by Kyuss speaks of travels, devils, seas and mountains, increasing my belief that the Californian band really wanted to give their interpretation of the Scottish ballad.

Take one to the mountain
Take one to the sea
Take one to the belly of the beast
and then you’ll take one with me

Shut it, shut it on

Freezing in the fires
when I utter howl your name
once you return from the belly of the beast
you’re never quite the same
Shut it, shut it on,
Shut it, shut it on,

Fire on the mountain
and it rages out of control
the fire inside the belly of the beast
well it thunderizes your soul
Shut it, shut it on

 

…what do you think about it? Maybe we’ll get some feedback from the interested artists!

 

Best New Music: VIBRACIONES DORADAS by Causa Sui

Causa Sui is an instrumental stoner rock quartet from Denmark which has taken the interesting habit of publishing a new album roughly every year; sometimes it’s a full-lenght release, other times it’s a live recording of one of their concerts, and in some cases it’s a collection of special recordings (sessions), more experimental and in which they are typically accompanied by other guest musicians. Whatever is the output, however, every one of their releases is always something interesting, specially for all those fans of stoner rock who still miss the sound of the glorious band Kyuss.

The last of Causa Sui’s releases is a five-chapter mini-LP named Vibraciones Doradas, which is at this point the the thirteenth official publication since their debut in 2005. The 37 minutes of the album are further divided in two sections, a first part which results relatively more lively and groovy, followed by a second section a little more introspective and with increased presence of sludgy and psychedelic elements.

In both the two parts of the album, Causa Sui delivers one of the finest stoner rock we have heard this year. From all of their songs we feel the pleasure that these four artists have in playing their music, both when they’re following tight rhythms or when they are free to float with their instruments over more relaxed rhythm sections.

Vibraciones Doradas is undoubtedly one of those jewels of the underground rock that should deserves a visibility far greater than what these talented Danes have managed to collect so far. And in this respect, every time I happen to listen one of their new releases I always find myself thinking of what could have happened in their career if the band had integrated a frontman. In fact, although the music of this group develops on the fairly classic canons of psychedelic and post-rock, I still feel that there are so many of their songs that would have benefited by evocative and engaging lyrics.

CAUSA SUI - 1280


 

The Sound of the Desert: The Best Sludge & Stoner Compilations of the Year

Here in this blog, stoner and sludge are not just two musical genres, they are the expression of a cult and I’m the faithful practitioner.

I’m collecting in this post the best mixtapes that I’ve published so far in 2017. In case you share the same passion for this kind of music, you’ll find here plenty of material to be enjoyed; selected, mixed and ready to be fired from the amplifiers of your stereo.

And don’t forget to visit the stoner ection of the blog for more material, charts and other nice stuff.


 

WRITTEN IN STONE

 

An healty dose of pure stoner rock, with the best artists of the year and a few gems from the past. One hour of uninterrupted energy and passion, featuring Mammoth, Mastodon, Mammoth, Sasquatch, Cortez, All Them Witches, Royal Thunder and many others.


 

SLOW FOREVER

 

You don’t always need to be fast to be strong. This is the heaviest and strongest mix of metal you will hear in a while. A compilation with the best stoner doom and psychedelic sludge released between 2016 and 2017, featuring Conan, Cobalt, Fistula, Paradise Lost and many others.


 

THE VOICE OF THE DESERT

 

A selection of songs performed by John Garcia. Includes tracks from his solo works as well as from Vista Chino and Kyuss.


 

The Voice of the Desert, a retrospective on the career and contributions of John Garcia to stoner music

Inspired by the fantastic album that the legendary singer ans songwriter published on last January, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, we collected in this playlist some of his most beautiful songs. The selection includes hits from his solo project but also famous songs by Kyuss and Vista Chino. If the desert could have a voice, it would be John Garcia’s.