Sons of Huns - "Banishment Ritual"

Stream: Sons of Huns – “Banishment Ritual”

People may think of Portland as the place where all hipsters either live or aspire to live, but the fact of the matter is that there is a pretty lively metal scene in the Pacific Northwest and Portland’s own Sons of Huns comes pummeling through your speakers with a bone crushing album that’s packed with crunchy riffs and chaos.

This one just needs to be turned up. All the way. Every track introduces riff after shape shifting riff, slithering through multiple time signatures and tempi all while putting their virtuosic fretwork on full display. A song like “Heliolith” just keeps churning out memorable riffs and then casting them aside, moving to the next one.

Though, to be honest, calling this an all-out “metal” album isn’t completely fair. It’s not that far off, but really the songs show a lot of the influence of classic rock and garage rock. Think something like Ty Segall’s latest band “Fuzz.” That band chugs along thanks to the shredding of Charlie Moothart, and Sons of Huns shreds in a very similar way, but are just a touch heavier. The bass-work is more detailed and finely tuned, sometimes taking the opportunity to double the guitar lines, like on “Horror In Clay.”

“Banishment Ritual” offers the best elements from the worlds of thrash metal, and garage/psych rock with even a little classic metal thrown in for good measure (think Motorhead). And, hey, “Rollin’ the Dice” even shows that they can throw a little bit of swing into the mix. There’s also the classical guitar “Leyenda” style opening to “Super Kanpai Rainbow” and the dual guitar riffage of Iron Maiden lurking in the buildup after the guitar solo of the same song. Nothing’s off limits, and they can pull it all off exceedingly well all while plastering things with extended blues based guitar solos.

The album came out this past November and was released on limited edition Coke Bottle colored vinyl, with only a few still available. You can still, of course, download the album. This is their first full-length, so expect much more to come from these guys in the future. They are currently out on tour, check the dates below and listen to the full album above, and also check out some earlier tracks, also available to listen to on their bandcamp page.

Apr 26
Shawnee, KS

May 08
Albuquerque, NM

May 09
Club Red
Tempe, AZ

May 10
Cheyanne Saloon
Las Vegas, NV

May 13
Los Angeles, CA

May 14
SLO Brew
San Luis Obispo, CA

May 15
Fresno, CA

May 16
Thee Parkside
San Francisco, CA

May 17
Portland, OR

May 18
Seattle, WA

May 20
In The Venue
Salt Lake City, UT

May 21
The Marquis Theater
Denver, CO

May 23
Red 7
Austin, TX

May 24
Houston, TX

May 25
Three Links
Dallas, TX

Baby Guru - "Marginalia"

Stream: Baby Guru – “Marginalia”

Continuing on the psych realm from where we were yesterday, today we have Baby Guru taking the prog-psych route. Just listening to the first track, “Especially When,” there’s a lot of ground covered from dance beats and new wave guitar sounds to Pink Floyd-esque delayed synths and a exploratory section toward the end that allows the guitar and synth to branch out. Square-waves on analog synths calling up some early Genesis is a nice touch toward the very end. Truly psych/prog in the best way possible.

“Baby You’re so Weird” takes things in a completely different, poppy, catchy direction. But after that we’re right back into prog land. The title track brings out the analog synths again, stomping through the verses with a clear distinctive pulse. When the chorus enters the ascending chord progression and introduction of the bass guitar completely turns everything around. By about the 3 minute mark we’re in Gentle Giant territory.

I just can’t get enough of the buzzing analog synths all over the place, so much so that I forget to pay attention to the vocals at all. When I turn my attention to all of the other things going on in the tracks I’m surprised at just how good everything fits together. Baby Guru has a knack for creating some really uplifting choruses with verses that really build up into them, not making them sound like separate parts that can be exchanged for others.

Every track has these great little moments that spin out into seemingly ever expanding space, but they are all contained within a song of about 5 minutes or less. Truly a prog band that is aware of the importance of song structure, familiarity and pop sensibilities. A rare thing, to be sure.

If you aren’t already then you should definitely be checking this album out from top to bottom and on repeat. It’s available right now as a download, limited edition cassette, limited LP and as a CD. Head over to bandcamp to pick out which one you want. You’ll thank me, I’m sure of it.

Dahga Bloom - No Curtains

Stream: Dahga Bloom – “No Curtains”

Gritty psych rock. Or maybe this is stoner-rock. Or maybe it’s stoner-psych rock, or psych-stoner rock. Well whatever it is it’s heavy. Thick and distorted bass chugging, growling, snarling vocals, trippy echoes and cyclic riffs that swirl around you to create a hypnotic daze. Add in some motoric rhythms and you’ve got yourself a great psych-rock, or whatever, album.

Right out of the gate, with the opening track “Supa” we get high-powered, quick tempoed driving blues based guitar and bass riffs with a breakdown that slows everything while the pressure builds only to explode again for the noisier, even faster still end of the track. “Wampum/Rotted Man” really lays on a thick layer of grit, with a distorted to all hell guitar line that slowly slinks down by evil sounding half step. That the tune carries on for over 9 minutes of sleazy, echoed places it firmly in the stoner-rock realm of Wooden Shjips and White Hills (though they are, according to their website, “fuzzed out motorik space-rock”). The song is split in two, as the title suggests, with a spacey feedback laden middle section that breaks away to a drum and vocal break as the guitar and bass slowly begin to re-assert their control over the sonic landscape.

I will have to say that my favorite track, for a number of reasons, is “Adolph Hipster.” First of all that’s some next-level song naming going on there. Secondly the uptempo guitar riff is maybe the catchiest of the seemingly hundreds of riffs that fly out of this record. The vocals are at their most disorienting and haunting throughout this one, making it sounds like a completely frantic and confusing affair.

“No Curtains” was released earlier this month, and like I said I would recommend this album to anyone that is into Wooden Shjips or White Hills or any other doom-y, dark stoner-psych bands. Maybe their sound tangentially touches upon Purling Hiss too, I could hear a slight resemblance there. Anyway, it’s available as CD or 160 g vinyl from the Captcha Records bandcamp.

You can also check out everything else that Captcha has to offer by going here, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter etc. etc. etc.

Dahga Bloom is also on Facebook.  Make sure to check out the album in full above. Turn it up loud.

The Woolen Men/Eyelids Split 7"

Stream: tracks from The Woolen Men & Eyelids


“Life in Hell” by The Woolen Men is about as spontaneous a recording as one could possibly hope for. The bootleg recording quality of the track, allowing non-performance related sounds such as the clanging of dishes and glasses in the background just add to the aura of the track. The guitar holding its tuning in much the same way as a barroom honky-tonk piano (with the lowest string tuned down at least a step), while the singer’s voice carries over top with no amplification; it’s all part of the character of the recording, and it puts the listener right there in the middle of it. In a few words, I love the way that this song sounds from a recording stand point. The opening line, “I don’t belong here in this place, I don’t belong here with you” draws the listener in, with verse after verse heaping on the feelings of suppression and desperation.

The singers voice and style reminds me of an EP that I covered a few years ago by Andrew Lindsay & the Coathooks, particularly the track “The Boat Outside.” There is just something about the way that the singers’ delivery that sounds similar, or at least familiar.

And below is the claymation video for Eyelids’ track “Seagulls into Submission.” The subdued, throwback track instantly reminds me of “Twice Removed” era Sloan, or Yuck’s debut dialed way back. Either way it’s got the sort of neo-mid 90′s sound that combines elements of shoegaze’s hushed vocals, with the some chord changes and solos that sound something like Guided By Voices in a way. I know I’m throwing a lot of references around, but the track is basically a great combination of a few different sounds, and it comes out sounding perfect.

The Woolen Men and Eyelids have just put out a split 7″ with Off Records, which is where “Life In Hell” comes from. “Seagulls Into Submission” comes from Eyelids’ own 7″ of the same name, which can also be picked up through Off Records. Maybe you didn’t have a chance to get out this weekend for Record Store Day? Here’s your chance to make up for it and help support Portland’s Off Records at the same time.

Medical Records RSD 2014 releases

Record Store Day Releases from Medical Records

In case you didn’t know, Record Store Day is tomorrow. This is the one day of the year that you are pretty much required to get to your local record store and purchase some music, or to head over to a label’s site and grab some tunes. It’s a day that celebrates music, sure, but it’s also – to me at least – about supporting the independent stores and labels that are releasing music by artists that aren’t getting tons of exposure.

I’m going to help you to do your part tomorrow by presenting to you a few of the albums that Medical Records is going to be releasing tomorrow. The first one up is “Vintage Robotnick,” the early and mainly unreleased work of Maurizio Dami. Listen to the sample video below to hear cuts from each of the tracks. Sleazy synths, electro-beats and sometimes bouncy rhythms permeate. Most of the LP is comprised of tracks recorded from 1982-1984 which have only been released on CD in 2003 on the “Rare Robotnicks” compilation. Check out this celebration of early 1980′s disco synth pop from Italy.

Next up is a collection of ultra-rare 12″ singles – “Electroconvulsive Therapy vol. 2 – Fuzz Dance.” Made up of 12″ singles originally on the legendary Fuzz Dance label, super rare disco, synthwave, Italo crossover, released on striped italian flag vinyl. As you can hear from the sampler below the same krautrock-cum-disco sensibilities as the Robotnick above are present throughout this compilation. This one is packed with a lot more in the way of pop-hooks. They certainly aren’t formed from the same mold as American synth-disco of the same era. Despite any similarities, these Italian artists, to my ear at least, are maintaining a sense of authenticity in their sound. Sure, the studio production is a bit dry, but it still manages to come off as inviting rather than cold. Vintage synths abound. Check out the sampler below.

So there you have it. Keep an eye out for these gems when you are out and about on your record store day shopping spree. If you can’t find them, then of course you should head over to the Medical Records site to pick up some of their other great offerings. Might I suggest Roladex, perhaps?

Of course, you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

not the wind, not the flag - "the starmaker"

Stream: not the Wind, not the flag – “the starmaker”

It took me a really long time to get into the music of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and there were a few reasons why. First of all everyone that I ever came into contact was absolutely ecstatic about them and would insist repeatedly that I listen to them. That’s strike one. The other thing that I couldn’t get my head around was why the songs had to be 20+ minutes long. I didn’t have the patience. Get me to the loud, fast parts and then let me be on my way.

Obviously a lot has changed, and after seeing them live I finally “got” it. It’s really about the journey. Not the Wind, Not the Flag are crafting songs that are just that: about the journey.

Things are considerably freer here than on anything that you would find on, say, a Godspeed album. The sound is rawer, more exciting, more alive. As you listen you can hear the songs coming into focus, taking shape and continuing in a logical trajectory. Just listening to the gradual buildup of “many monsters stand between us” as it grows louder and more active, full of distortion and just about to boil over with feedback I’m waiting for the guitar to just break away and soar into a solo. When the short burst of virtuosic guitar comes to the front it’s heavily shrouded in the noise and feedback atmosphere from where it came. And just as gradually and organically as the song grew, it returns to the somber, echoed and chorused guitar chord swells that began the track.

This is a duo that makes a lot of noise, and they definitely know how to fill a space. It’s almost equal parts Lightning Bolt and free-jazz freak out. The next track takes a much different approach, adding saxophone to the mix for a lot more of a melodically driven composition. That song, “in the province of the mind, there are no limits” is a whole other beast completely.

Definitely worth checking out. Listen above or head over to their bandcamp page. There are some other releases on there for you to listen to, though “the starmaker” from last year is their most recent. Keep an eye out for them if you are in the Toronto area.

Protomartyr - "Under Color of Official Right"

Stream: Protomartyr – “Under Color of Official Right”

There just is not enough time to keep up with all the records that are coming out that I want to get. I have a list here, but it is just straight up getting out of control. This one is going on the list right up there toward the top. Let’s not forget that Record Store Day is happening this Saturday, so there is no reason to not buy at least a few things.

Protomartyr is from Detroit, and they are creating something akin to garage-rock, but a lot grittier, which seems only fitting when one considers from where they are coming. The overall aesthetic of their sound, and the atmosphere that they harness sounds a lot like that which Constantines conjured on “Shine A Light.” There’s darkness, anger, and sneer with plenty of roaring guitars in just the right places. Though “Scum, Rise!” comes off sounding a little more basic and stripped down than this next track, but still undoubtedly packs a punch.

“Come & See” covers a ton of territory. One second sounding like Klaxons and then tearing off into We Were Promised Jetpacks territory. Underneath it all is an interesting combination of anger and hopefulness with a little bit of derision. All this while the track clings to their gritty not-quite-garage-rock-but-close-enough sound.

These tracks come off of Protomartyr’s latest release “Under Color of Official Right,” being released by Hardly Art. You can listen to a lot more Protomartyr over at their Soundcloud page. Think of them this Saturday when you’re diggin’ down deep in the record bins.

You can also find Protomartyr on Facebook (of course), and are currently on tour (as of yesterday), and those dates, some with Tyvek,  Cloud Nothings,  Spray Paint, or Parquet Courts. Check the dates below.

04.15.14 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie ~
04.16.14 – Baltimore, MD – The Gold Bar ~
04.17.14 – Raleigh, NC – Slim’s Downtown ~ =
04.18.14 – Atlanta, GA – 529 ~ =
04.19.14 – Tallahassee, FL – Liberty Bar =
04.21.14 – New Orleans, LA – Circle Bar =
04.22.14 – Birmingham, AL – Bottle Tree =
04.23.14 – Nashville, TN – Stone Fox = >
04.24.14 – Cincinnati, OH – MOTR Pub =
04.25.14 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class = +
04.26.14 – Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon Street
04.29.14 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room *
04.30.14 – Iowa City, IA – Gabe’s *
05.01.14 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club *
05.02.14 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon *
05.03.14 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *
05.04.14 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme *
05.15.14 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown (bar) +
05.17.14 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court +
05.18.14 – Boise, ID – The Crux +
05.19.14 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
05.20.14 – Seattle, WA – Victory Lounge $
05.23.14 – San Francisco, CA – Hemlock Tavern
05.24.14 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg ^
05.25.14 – San Diego, CA – The Hideout (SD)
05.27.14 – Phoenix, AZ – Last Exit
05.29.14 – McAllen, TX – Cine El Rey +
05.30.14 – Austin, TX – Holy Mountain +
05.31.14 – Dallas, TX – The Foundry
06.03.14 – Oxford, MS – Lamar Lounge
06.04.14 – Memphis, TN – The Hi-Tone +

06.05.14 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop

06.07.14 – Detroit, MI – PJ’s Lager House

06.09.14 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore !

06.10.14 – Cambridge, MA – TT the Bears

06.11.14 – Brooklyn, NY – Sugarhill Supper Club %
06.13.14 – Ottawa, ON – Club Saw (Ottawa Explosion)
08.17.14 – London, UK – Brixton Windmill
08.18.14 – Manchester, UK – Ruby Lounge
08.19.14 – London, UK – Lexington
08.20.14 – Leeds, UK – Brudnell Social Club
08.21.14 – Glasgow, UK – Broadcast

~ – w/ Spray Paint
= – w/ Whatever Brains
> – w/ Cheap Time
* – w/ Cloud Nothings
% – w/ Parquet Courts
! – w/ Tyvek
$ – w/ Unnatural Helpers, Grave Babies
^ – w/ the Intelligence
+ – all-ages show