FROM THE DESERT TO THE STARS: THE BEST PSYCHEDELIC STONER ROCK OF THE YEAR

There are genres of music that seem to be born for being mixed together. Stoner rock and Psychedelic rock are two of these and it is no coincidence that there is now a specific and well populated current of artists that are specialized on this style of music.

Psychedelic stoner rock merges the warm and slightly abrasive sounds of classic stoner with the hypnotic and progressive approach to music of psychedelic rock. And the marriage is so perfect that the union between these two styles of music manages to keep all the specific characteristics of the two starting genres but, at the same time, generates something unique and new. Call it alchemy, or musical magic, this is what the psychedelic stoner artists have learned to do.

I’m presenting in this article the best psychedelic stoner albums we heard so far in 2018. Five bands, five different approaches to music, but the same impressive level of quality. Enjoy the reading and don’t forget to listen to this spectacular music.

 


 

#1) All Them Witches, “ATW”

 

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All Them Witches are an American rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. After the recent quit of keyboardist Jonathan Draper, the band today consists of drummer Robby Staebler, vocalist, bassist, guitarist Charles Michael Parks Jr. and guitarist Ben McLeod.

Less than two years after their beautiful album Sleeping Through the War, we’re gifted with new LP from All Them Witches, and it was for me one of the most beautiful surprises I had in the recent months. It’s always good when a rock band is experiencing a phase of creative inspiration, but this time I was particularly impressed because in the short lapse of a year and half these rockers from Nashville have made a gigantic step forward in their musical evolution and ATW, their new record, has the full potential to project the band into the exclusive club of the most important bands of contemporary stoner rock.

The stylistic growth experienced by All Them Witches took place through the development of an absolutely unique and personal musical language, an evident evolution of the style that they had already presented in their previous works but that only today, arrived at the fifth studio LP of their discography, seems to have found its final maturity. What happened to the band and what’s the cause of such an improvement? I don’t have many elements to make my hypotheses, but I think it’s a matter of increased confidence in their capabilities. Listening to the songs of the new record we realize in fact that All Them Witches have understood the reach of their talent, and they eventually decided to abandon the usual routes and venture into darker and unexplored meanders, which proved to be closer to their musical sensibility.

From a musical point of view, the songs in ATW seem to belong to two main categories. The first one is the group of what I like to the “apparently conventional” songs, i.e. pieces that seem to reproduce initially a very precise stylistical model but then develop into something different, and extremely intriguing. An example is given by the energetic song 1st vs 2nd that starts as a standard stoner rock tune but then, through a crescendo that you would expect to fade but which always increases in intensity, evolves into an obsessive mid-tempo thrash metal riff that would not disfigure in a song by Metallica. The second category of songs collects a series of beautifully dark, slow, hypnotic and slimy bluesy ballads. These are the songs of the album where the music really seems to came directly from the soul of the artists. The architecture of these pieces is minimal, essential and usually based on the repetition of a note, a chord, or a simple riff, with elements that are then incrementally added one on top of the others and which, one by one, increase the overall tension of the piece. In this category of songs the psychedelic element is still present but always dosed with great wisdom. The fantastic and majestic Diamond is perhaps the most representative song of this second group of tracks.

Beyond the value of individual songs, however, it’s the album in its entirety that deserves the most sincere compliments. This was really a surprise from a band that has definitely entered a new phase of its career, signed by an improved stylistic maturity and also by the full awareness of the expressive capabilities that their music have gained in the last few years.


 

#2) Weedpecker, “III”

 

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Weedpecker, from Poland, are a psycho-stoner band consisting of Wyro at guitar and vocals, Bartek at guitar and vocals, Karol on bass and Kuks on drums.

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.

It’s possible to recognize many different influences in their sound, but these rockers from Warsav managed however to consolidate a unique style and direction for 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 and colorful jams that remind the listener of bands like 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.


 

#3) ASG, “Survive Sunrise”

 

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ASG is an American four-piece stoner metal band originating from Wilmington, North Carolina. It consists of Jason Shi on vocals and guitar, Andy Ellis on bass, Scott Key on drums and Jonah Citty on guitar.

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 album, is also the first in five years since their previous LP. Their newest record provides the listener with another fine selection of psychedelic stoner rock. Most of the songs have mid paced rhythms and the music conveys in general 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, 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 very prolific, has always managed to leave its mark in the stoner world with every new work. Perhaps the stylistic choice to attenuate the most energeting aspects of stoner rock in favor of a more introspective and visionary approach to music won’t allow them to achieve heavy rotations and mainstream success. Their road, however, is signed and these guys don’t seem interested to negotiate popularity with their unique and special vision of rock music.


 

#4) Graveyard, “Peace”

 

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Graveyard is a Swedish hard rock band from Gothenburg, formed in 2006. After their reunion in 2017, the line-up today consists of Joakim Nilsson (guitar, vocals), Jonatan Larocca-Ramm (guitar, vocals), Truls Mörck (bass, vocals) and the new drummer Oskar Bergenheim, who has replaced Axel Sjöberg.

Graveyard, from Sweden, belong to the large family of contemporary revivalist formations that repropose in a modern key a style of hard rock and blues that’s deeply inspired by the music of the 70’s. Although I’ve never been one of the greatest fans of the band, I was among those who remained impressed by the fantastic album that Graveyard released in 2011, Healingen Blues, which is the LP that basically launched them in the Olympus of modern rock. Since then I’ve always followed with great interest the activity of this group, which moved somewhat erratically between publications of great value and some missteps.

This year Graveyards have released a new album, Peace, which is the fifth studio record of their discography. The genesis of this work has been somewhat troubled. The band has just come out of a tormented period in which first they suddenly broken up and then, after a streak of cancelled gigs and also a few months of inactivity, they reunited and eventually came back into the studio with a slightly varied formation. For what is my experience these are the cases in which a group typically produces the most extreme works: musical masterpieces that testify to the indomitable spirit of a band that has managed to overcome the difficulties due to the urgency of communicating the music that they had inside, or weak and inhomogeneous albums that may represent, at best, a new beginning. Peace, unfortunately, does not belong to the first category and in fact we are far from the class and the passion that emerged from their flagship record. Fortunately, however, there are many good moments and flashes of light in their new work that we can’t really say that the band is starting again from the scratch.

The good news is that the signature components of Graveyard’s music are still here: liquid guitars, exciting psychedelic sections, bluesy vocals and berautiful stoner atmospheres. We can even highlight a certain evolution of their sound towards somewhat more “metallic” regions. Among the aspects that don’t convince me completely, however, there is the fact that the riffs in Peace, in general, are not engaging and catchy as in the past, and this makes me think that the composition process wasn’t exactly spontaneous (and that’s sincerely the least we could expect given the premises). During the 42 minutes of Peace, however, there are moments of absolute beauty like the conluding song Low, the openin track It Ain’t Over Yet and the brilliant Walk On. These make us forget about everything else and which, in the end, make us grateful to the Muse of music that this exceptional band is back on the scene.


 

#5) King Buffalo, “Repeater” + “Longing to Be The Mountain”

 

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King Buffalo is a psychedelic trio in the classic format, whose music is a powerful concoction of heavy psych, blues, and stoner rock. The band consists of Sean McVay (guitar & lead vocals), Dan Reynolds (bass) and Scott Donaldson (drums & vocals)

Generally I’m not for including EPs in this kind of charts, but sometimes it’s necessary to make some exceptions and Repeater, from King Buffalo, is a work of such quality that it couldn’t be excluded from this article.

King Buffalo is a trio of extremely talended psychedelic rockers from New York. In 2013, three years after their formation, 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 was later followed by a proper full-lenght LP, named Longing to Be the Mountain.

Both the two releases show the impressive capabilitiy of the trio to create poetical, psychedelic and dreamy atmospheres. Their songs are hypnotic and psychic anthems or epic stoner ballads which grow slowly, with no rush, reaching moments of pure beauty.


 

If you enjoyed these bands, you will appreciate the two playlists that I’m curating on Spotify for stoner. The first, DUST AND SAND, is dedicated to the more energic side of this genre of music while the second one, THE DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER, is more focused on the intimate and psychedelic aspects of stoner. Listen, follow and spread the word!

 


 

 

BEST STONER ROCK AND PSYCHEDELIC STONER OF 2018: THE TOP 10 ALBUMS (Updated September 2018)

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”

 

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Sundrifter is a three piece desert and stoner rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, in the U.S.A.. The band consists of Craig Peura (vocals and guitars), Patrick Queenan (drums) and Paul Gaughran (bass).

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”

 

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Orange Goblin are a stoner and heavy metal band from London, England. Formed in 1995, the band’s lineup currently consists of singer Ben Ward, guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard, and drummer Chris Turner.

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.

The Wolf Bites Back can be listened on Spotify.


 

#3) Weedpecker, “III”

 

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Weedpecker is stoner, psychedelic, and grunge band active since 2012. Weedpecker was formed in Warsaw , Poland, by the two brothers Wyro and Bartek (both playing guitars and vocals), and the line-up is nowadays completed by Karol Melak (bass) and Piotr Kuks (drums).

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.

The new album by Weedpecker is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.


 

#4) ASG, “Survive Sunrise”

 

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ASG is a psychedelic stoner band from Wilmington, North Carolina, in the United States of America. The line-up consists of Jonah Citty (guitars), Jason Shi (guitars and vocals), Andy Ellis (bass), and Scott Key (drums).

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”

 

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Akula, from Columbus, Ohio, in the United States of America, consists of Jeff Martin (vocals), Sergei Parfenov (guitars), Scott Hyatt (Bass) and Ronnie Miller (drums).

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.

The album is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.


 

#6) Fu Manchu, “Clone of the Universe”

 

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Fu Manchu is an American stoner rock band formed in Southern California, U.S.A., in 1985. Their current line-up has been somehow stable over the last fifteen years and consists of Scott Hill (guitar and vocals), Brad Davis (bass and vocals), Bob Balch (guitar) and Scott Reeder (drums and vocals).

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.

 

Clone of the Universe is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.


 

#7) King Buffalo, “Repeater”

 

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King Buffalo is a psychedelic trio from Rochester, New York, in the United States of America. The line-up consists of Sean McVay (guitar, vocals & synth), Dan Reynolds (bass & synth) and Scott Donaldson (drums & percussions).

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.

The album is available on Bandcamp and can be streamed also from Spotify.


 

#8) Monster Magnet, “Mindfuckers”

 

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Monster Magnet is an American stoner and hard rock band from New Jersey, in the United States of America. The line-up which recorded their new LP is the same of their previous record and consists of Dave Wyndorf (the only remaining founders of the band, playing vocals and rhythm guitar), Phil Caivano (rhythm and lead guitar), Bob Pantella (drums), Garrett Sweeny (lead guitar), Chris Kosnik (bass guitar)

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.

The album can be streamed on Spotify.


 

#9) Yellow Dust, “Slodge”

 

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Yellow Dust is a stoner and sludge band from Leipzig, Germany.

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”

 

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Black Moth is a stoner doom and rock formation from Leeds, Yorkshire, England. Active since 2010, the band today features Harriet Bevan (vocals), Federica Gialanze (guitars), Jim Swainston (lead guitar). Dave Vachon (bass) and Dominic McCready (drums).

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.


 

LISTENING WITH THE EYES CLOSED: THE BEST PROGRESSIVE AND PSYCHEDELIC ROCK OF 2018 (June 2018) + Spotify Playlist

There are many definitions that have been associated in the last decades to progressive and psychedelic rock. One of best, in my opinion, is the one which says that this is music composed and performed to be “listened”, and not for dancing. And in fact I like to place prog rock and punk rock in the extreme sides of a scale which see many other styles in the middle (indie, alternative, …): on one hand we have a kind of sophisticated music, plenty of details and with spasmodic attention to the quality of sound, which has the effect of making you travel with the eyes closed; on the other extreme we have a raw and more immediate style of rock that awakens our natural instincts to jump, dance, and free the inner energy, something that has the capacity to interrupt everything you’re doing in that specific moment and which can give you real moments of musical euphoria.

This article is dedicated to the first of the two genres of music I introduced before. You’ll find here a group of albums that will make you dream and fly over distand, magic and sometimes “stoned” worlds. This is the list of the best progressive and pshychedelic rock we heard so far in 2018. Enjoy this chart, and browse to the end of the page to find a link to the Progressive Rock playlist that I’ve created on Spotify to collect the best songs that have been released in the last couple of years.


 

 

#1) “Vortex” by Toundra

 

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Toundra, from Madrid in Spain, plays a special kind of instrumental rock which moves from progressive rock to post metal. The band is active since 2017 and they have released so far five long-play albums and one split record.

Instrumental rock is a challenging genre of music and, in general, you love it or hate it. But when you find yourself in front of such an intense and passionate work like Vortex, which is the last album by Toundra, even the most skeptical could be captured and impressed by the quality of the music composed and performed by this Spanish band. Ther new record, which is the fifth of their interesting discography, develops over long and articulated infrastructures of sounds, full of atmospheric sections and changes of rhytms, along with many other elements that keep your attention awake, something which is not trivial when there is no voice to guide you along the music. But what does makes this record special? Well, it’s basically the talent that these guys show on every song of the album when it’s time to create stunning cinematic passages and breathtaking “walls of sound”. In these sections of their songs, the band manage to capture completely the listener’s attention: whatever you are doing while listening to Vortex, there will be many of these moment where the music gets you away from the real world and you’ll find yourself projected into dark and gloomy caverns, or bright landscapes of light… at least until the sonic tension will be dissolved in a moment of relative tranquility and you will be again in condition to focus on your routines. Believe me, this is a really strong record from a band which has not yet achieved the fame they deserve.


 

 

#2) “III” by Weedpecker

 

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Weedpecker, from Poland, are a psychedelic stoner rock band active since 2012. These musicians have never tried to hide their reverence and affection for “mind alteration”, something which is immediately and unmistakably evident in their music. “III”, their latest records, is the third LP entry in their discography.

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. A couple of songs of the album (Embrace and Liquid Sky) may be considered real masterpieces of this particular style of music. 


 

 

#3) “Legend of the Seagullmen” (S/T)

 

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“Legend of the Seagullmen” is the debut full-length by the cinematic, psychedelic rock supergroup which features, among the others, Mastodon’s guitarist Brent Hinds and Tool’s drummer Danny Carey.

The publication of the self-titled debut album by the rock supergroup Legend of the Seagullmen was certainly one of the most anticipated events in music of the first months of 2018. Expectations for this release were so high because of the unique composition of the formation: Tool’s Danny Carey on drums, Mastodon’s Brent Hinds on guitar, director Jimmy Hayward on guitar, David Dreyer on vocals, Zappa Meets Zappa’s Peter Griffin on bass, and Chris DiGiovanni on synth. The first tracks that were shared on the media also contributed to fuel the hype and everything was ready for a total success. When the album was eventually released and I had the possibility to listen ot it with more calm and attention, the opinion I made waas that of an interesting and – to some extent – “bold” record, but in the end the overall value of the work was a little lower than the masterpiece that I was expecting at the beginning. The album is all impregnated with the music of the past: from its “concept-album” structure to many other stylistic choices that are clearly inspired to the legacy of the seventies (in many moments it seems really to listen to Led Zeppelin). Legend of the Seagullmen acquires a greater sense if it is interpreted as a tribute to the music of the great masters of rock, rather than a “genre destroying album” as it was presented by the PR. There are very nice songs, interesting atmospheres, plenty of classic and psychedelic rock, but nothing really fresh and revolutionary as it was initially promised.


 

 

#4) “AKULA” (S/T)

 

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Akula, from Ohio in the United States of America, is a relatively new formation and their self-titled album is their debut LP. The band plays a dynamic and variegated style of rock which incorporates many influences from prog, stoner and sludge.

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 and post-metal. The material included in this 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.


 

 

#5) “La Muerta” by Subsignal

 

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Subsignal, from Germany, was initially created as a side project of Arno Menses and Markus Steffen, respectively the singer and guitarist of German progressive thrash group Sieges Even, which was disbanded one year after the formation of the new band. “La Muerta” is the fifth LP from Subsignal.

Started as a side project, Subsignal have today arrived at the release of their fifth LP. La Muerta, the latest album from the German rock band, won’t be a masterpiece of prog rock but it’s still characterized by a number of features which makes it a solid and valid representative of the current scene of progressive rock. On of the most appreciable aspects of the record is the stylistic choice to compose the album as a sequence of relatively short pieces – short when compared to the average lenght of prog rock songs –  which makes the record easy to listen, enjoyable and extremely varied from the beginning to the end. All the constituting elements of prog are present (layers of keyboard, guitar solos, virtuosisms, …), but there is an overarching drift towards pop-rock which on one side adds freshness and accessibility to the songs, but on the other it often takes away the depth and complexity that we would have expected from the new album from the band.


 

 

#6) “Andromeda” by Undercover Rabbis

 

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Undercover Rabbis are a three-piece heavy rock band influenced by post-rock and doom. Active since 2006, they released this year an interesting small EP with 6 very good tracks of genuine psychedelic music.

Undercover Rabbis is the name of an American trio of musicians which play an intriguing mix of progressive, post-rock and sludge. The band has already released a few interesting works and this year, in the early days of January, they dropped a new EP, called Andromeda. The EP, which has however a duration of more than 40 minutes, confirms the capacity of this band to generate beautiful musical atmospheres that oscillate between moments of experimentation, almost psychedelic, and other sections that are definitely more rough and intense. The rhythms are extremely slow, but the sound is never obsessive and in these songs you feel always a vein of optimism and positivity. In summary, this long-EP / small-LP is definitely enjoyable to hear and quite characteristic because of the many influences that are merged together. The last tracks of the record, in particular, are those which I appreciated the most.


 

 

#7) “Repeater” by King Buffalo

 

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King Buffalo is a psychedelic trio in the classic format of bass, drums, and guitar. Formed in September of 2013, these rockers have relased two long-play records and a bunch of other interesting publications.

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 musicians 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.


 

As anticipated, it’s possible to enjoy all the best progressive and psychedelic rock songs of the last couple of years (including most of those that were introducted in the article) by listening to “YELLOW EYES”, the playlist that I made on Spotify and which is frequently updated with new tracks. Access it through the widget and follow it!


 

 

PSYCHOROCK: The Mixtape with the Best Psychedelic Rock of the year! Volume 1: January 2018

 

The new year has just started and we have already collected enough material and inspiration to prepare the first mixtape of 2018! The reality is that in these first ten days of the year there have been a few very good release for psychedelic rock and it was relatively easy to assemble an exciting collection with the best songs from these new albums. The bands that contributed to this mixtape are King Buffalo, Weedpecker and Akula, and you can find more information about their albums in the following.

Enjoy this mix and check out for new releases in the forthcoming months. Some of these songs will be also included in the playlists that are available on Spotify, and my recommendation in this respect is to follow me on Twitter to stay informed of all the updates.

If 2017 ended with a party, 2018 starts with the psycho rock!!


 

King-Buffalo-1300

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.


 

Weedpecker 1 - 1300

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. A couple of songs of the album (Embrace and Liquid Sky) may be considered real masterpieces of this particular style of music


 

Akula - 1300

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 and post-metal. The material included in this 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.