Editor's unsolicited opinion: Here's an aspect of the cursed reviewer life that I will always find endlessly gratifying: the prospect of witnessing a young and talented band evolve from a fresh face into a genuine presence in their respective scene. Way back in '18 we reviewed the first EP from this group, and then I was so impressed with their debut album that we featured in on our Caravan of Doom Vol. 1. Needless to say, these guys are on their way up.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Not often does stoner rock catch my ear, but when it does it hooks itself deep within my brain. Stonus (how fitting) have come up with what’s now their third EP titled Seance, and it’s pretty enjoyable from front to back. With only three songs, they heavily reflect the style of Sundrifter, who dropped one of my favorite albums in 2018. What’s also neat is that this one was recorded completely live.
Because of this, there’s a very organic feeling that makes the repetitive nods showcased in all three tracks work decently. The middle track “Messianism” plays on that the most, being the longest one, and trailing off significantly at the end. I also found it to be the most explosive, riding on a rhythm pattern that “drops” (if you will) guitar chugs in gradual changes of pace. To contrast, you get vocals that add most of the melody, and a dash of howl.
Hey! We're a record label now!
SLEEPING VILLAGE RECORD’s inaugural release is a compilation of 10 previously released underground stoner doom tracks, curated--as always--by a highfalutin peasantry. Sleeping Village Caravan of Doom (Vol. 1) is an exhibition of like-minded tracks that balance sludgy heft with an earthy stoner atmosphere. These are songs that would feel at home in the midst of a bog or mire, and we’ve brought them together, drenched in murk and algae, for your gloomy enjoyment.
Rather than simply throwing as many artists as possible into the doomy stew, this compilation seeks to bring together and showcase 10 uniquely stellar bands that compliment each other sonically and aesthetically. While the runtime clocks in at a hefty hour and a half, the roster remains slim so that each band has appropriate time to shine.
Sleeping Village Caravan of Doom (Vol. 1) will be released digitally and available for NYOP on October 2nd, with a preorder going live TODAY for the measly sum of $1. All proceeds from this project will be split evenly between the bands and the label, with any of the Sleeping Village’s cut going to fund further compilations (or a possible physical release!)
TRACKLIST as follows:
Fostermother - Destroyers
Dizygote - Children of Talos
Doomfall - Why Fear the Godless
earthdiver - Blood Moon
Green Hog Band - Machine
Old Horn Tooth - Old Horn Tooth
Stonus - Mania
Jointhugger - I Am No One
Black Road - Radiation
Bog Wizard - Swamp Golem
Huge thanks to the Sleeping Village’s resident Volt Thrower for the assistance and much-needed wisdom in putting this together! Thank you also to the bands, who all deserve your love and affection, and lastly to you, who made the launch of this endeavor from the Sleeping Village’s fertile ground a possibility. Enjoy!
Check out our bandcamp!
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally.
The next guest in line to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is Duncan Evans, who creates dark folk/post-punk under his own name, and apocalyptic noise poetry (which we premiered here!) under the Moonlow moniker. He's a producer, an engineer, a writer at Ghost Cult and Alternative Control, and, lest it be forgot, has a twitter you should probably follow. Beyond these current projects, he was previously the guitarist for Forest Of Stars--so, all told, cred certified many times over, amiright? Without further ado: enjoy this retrospective!
Written by: Duncan Evans
This album was my first proper introduction to Nick Cave. It remains an incredibly important piece in the jigsaw of my own development as an artist and as a human being. I also believe it is significant in a wider cultural sense.
Around the mid-2000s, Nick Cave had seemingly grown tired of producing records with the expanded 8-piece lineup of The Bad Seeds: “It felt like every time I took a song into the Bad Seeds, everyone piled in on it. In the Bad Seeds, you play a song, and everyone's grabbing a fuckin' maraca, y'know?" In response, Cave and three Bad Seeds members (Warren Ellis, Martin P. Casey, Jim Sclavunos) formed Grinderman. At the same time, I was growing weary of the virtuoso prog rock I had been listening to. I had listened to a few of Cave’s songs and I had meant to properly explore his work for a while. I remember reading about Grinderman in the music press just before its release, and I thought this was probably as good a place as any to start. I ordered a copy and, strangely, two of them landed on the doormat a week later. Hearing this record on its release in 2007 was something of a Damascene moment for me. It opened up doors which remain unclosed. What follows is an explanation of how this album impacted me so deeply, and why I think it matters in wider terms.
Written by: Shane Thirteen
First things first: Seven Swords comes out August 21st, and I highly recommend you track down and reserve your copy now from bandcamp. This group from Savona, Italy has laid down a classic. Black Elephant has been around about a decade and as they grow they leap closer to being one of the world's best stoner/heavy psych bands. They describe their sounds as 70's fuzz stacked with Blues Psych Space Rock. All that is true.
What I gather from this album is Black Elephant is deep black warmth. The kind of warmth you feel on the first cold day in fall as you clinch into your bed and curl into the softness of your lover. It is sensual and the music wafts me away like smoke dangling on the rim of a bong. I tend not to think of albums as single tracks I like. But how do all the tracks fit into the feel of the album? What is this piece of music trying to tell me? Where does it want me to go?
And now for something a little different, both in format and in sonic content! To adequately assess the latest offering from Slow Draw, two Village-dwellers--Continuous Thunder and The Administrator--took up the pen to express (complimentary) views, making for a somewhat rare double review 'round these parts. Without further ado:
Written by: Continuous Thunder
I’d like to start this with a bit of a disclaimer that I went into this album with no previous knowledge of Slow Draw or Stone Machine Electric (something I will be correcting immediately). I just saw the drone tag and I hit play. Drone can mean any number of things, but as this was a drone project of a member of a stoner band, I went in with expectations of good vibes and ultra-long riffs. What I didn’t expect was just how sparse the arrangements would be. Seriously, there’s little more than an electric piano, synths, and a guitar at any given moment on this album, and it lines up more with ambient music than drone.
Sparsity in music can be a blessing or a curse. On one hand, it strips things down to their bare elements, removing any fluff or embellishments that distract from the core of the composition. On the other, it reveals just how strong or weak a composition actually is. I think back to the last album from Earth where they dialed back the fuzz and reverb and had to lean on their riffs more than the atmosphere. Gallo does the same thing but to an even greater extent. The guitars are (mostly) acoustic, buzzy synths only serve as a backdrop, and there is very little, if any, percussion.
Written by: Continuous Thunder
In the world of heavy psych-rock, the majority of influences often come from the rock bands of the ‘70s, and if we’re honest, the modern bands more resemble hard rock and early heavy metal. Ultimately, this is understandable; modern heavy psych likely comes from a desire to trace heavy music back to its roots, and the origin of heavy metal is often, though not without contention, considered to be Black Sabbath’s 1970 self-titled debut. As such, many of the sounds and aesthetics emulated in heavy psych come from the time period immediately before and after that key event. You rarely hear modern bands going for the sound of the true psychedelic rock of the mid-’60s, and that’s why The Sonic Dawn is different.
Hailing from Denmark, The Sonic Dawn completely embrace original psychedelic rock in ways few modern bands do, right down to the floral shirts and mustaches.
Written by: Volt Thrower
As a kid the countless hours spent driving under starlit prairie highways in the 90’s, on the way to various campgrounds and theme parks, laid the foundation for desert rock being able to bring a wash of fuzz driven comfort later in life. There’s something incredibly soothing about being able to lose yourself in a locked in groove, essentially time traveling through the hundreds of km’s of nothingness. Heavy rockers Heavy Hands from Boston, take a stab at a classic style with some modern flair with their latest self-released offering “Through the Night.”
A rolling drum groove, with some fuzz drenched bass open things up on “Devil Nets”, sure to make Brant Bjork blush. Kicking things off with a nostalgic blast is a great hook, but they build upon that opening, with a really unique sound that the band feels out across the dozen fleeting minutes. The soulful delivery of the vocals on “Villain” really compliment the underlying bass and drum groove, but the guitar is the real scene setter for most of the album. Ranging from bluesy psychedelic washes, to straightforward riffage, to a near black metal tremolo picking style, giving it another layer with a sense of urgency and despair. Lyrical themes starting with, of course a desert highway cruise with your girl, to a poetic exploration of the plight of the never good-enough, ending in a mental “Breakdown.” Clean production wraps it all up into a nice, tight little package.
Written by: Scorpi
Let me set the scene. You’re in one of those fancy Venetian longboats. But you’re not in Venice, the budget in my imagination isn’t that large. But you’re on a river nonetheless. And up ahead there are towns & villages that light up the embankment of the river, this is where you’re heading.
The boat jitters forward and starts floating across the river, smooth as silk.
The start of this journey is accompanied by “Rengeteg,” the first track off of Ajna’s debut album of the same name. This leg of the journey is soothing and relaxing. You can hear birds singing, then some chirpy, catchy guitar melodies start playing in your head, along with a catchy drum beat. The boat travels along at a steady pace as you take in the sights. There’s some pretty, forest-like landscapes on the embankment with the setting sun shimmering through the leaves. More pleasant guitar licks are playing in your head, along with some funkier bass lines now but they aren’t front and centre, rather sitting gently underneath the pleasing guitar sounds. The music gets a little livelier every now and then, much like the excitement building within you to get to the first stop on your journey.
As of late, we slumbering Villagers have been drinking deep of the genres that tend to fall on the more extreme end of the spectrum. And, while there is certainly ample time and place for extremity, it's high time for this particular scribe to slip into something a little more comfortable. I crave the sweet embrace of dusty wind-swept fuzz, and, when I’m in this sultry mood, nothing does me right quite like top-shelf legends of the (then-emergent) scene.
I speak...not of Kyuss. But hear me out. Maybe I’m off my rocker, but I don’t think there are many longtime fans of stoner rock willing to state that Lowrider’s seminal Ode To Io isn’t, in fact, one of the greatest albums the genre has produced. A particularly notable designation, given the Swedish (rather than Californian) origin. While Kyuss may have opened the door, Lowrider swaggered over the threshold, shouldering a massive groove and a cut-to-the-chase approach to composition. In many ways, Ode To Io felt like it boiled stoner rock down to its basic essence: big attitude, bigger riffs. Every track on this classic feels essential in its own right, a massive step into fuzz-ridden stardom for the young band. But rather than providing Lowrider a launchpad, Ode To Io served as a trailblazer, allowing a bevy of other bands to come into their own. Lowrider have been around in the 20 years between then and now--a split or a remaster here, concert appearances there. But a proper followup effort was missing from the picture. And so here we are, history lesson complete, Refractions held tight in our white-knuckled grasp.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!