|MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN BOYS
If you didnt know better youd say this was Poison takin a piss. Singer Scotty Boy McCoy is a deadringer for Poison frontman Bret Michaels - gone country. Check out his vocal delivery on the whiskey-soaked ballad Lonesome Whistle right up there with Every Rose Has Its Thorn. It even gets closer in the guitar-driven Tired. With their varied background the MMB bring a healthy dose of Rock, Country and Folk to blend a unique form of southern rock.
The first two tracks are straight off the bar room floor. Adapting a steady appreciation for Travis Tritts light hearted humor Better By The Beer not only embraces Americas pastime but lights it on fire with PJ Jacques six-string solo. Double Shot paints the bands history in no uncertain terms boasting the lyrics Im a double shot of country and chaser full of rock n roll.
Rhythm section Tommy Dean (bass) and Gary Patterson (drums) find an easy groove pumping out a blues-based bottom line that supports the bands swing from the metal version of Tennessee Ernie Fords Sixteen Tons to the 38 Special-like Fallen. More Outlaws than Molly Hatchet, the Moonshine Mountain Boys stay close to their country/gospel roots with twin-guitar harmonies and songs baked for freshness. Stick around for the last track Carolina Blue which plays out like a Chis Isaak tune - a real beauty.
|WHITE COWBELL OKLAHOMA
Taking the lead from hard-rock Texas trio Honky, mix in a little ZZ Top and some over-the-top antics ,a la Nashville Pussy, and you got the 10- membered White Cowbell Oklahoma. Known for their invention and execution of the penis slide guitar (yes, that is exactly what it is) the band do have an amazing way of putting a song together.
With so many personalities in the band its a bit like a carnival rotating in the guitar-swelled hard rock in Cheerleader and Monster Railroad to the ZZ Top swagger of Put The South In Your Mouth - complete with sex-packed, double entendre lyrics to boot. Then we have the bar room boogie of Packin My Bags the organ-powered gospel of Ole Glory and the straight up rocker Black Mountain Top (Whiskey Woman).
For the most part, White Cowbell play southern-tinged, head-slammin hard rock. San Antone, Rollin High Rider and Southern Grace ooze 70s arena rock with Ted Nugent licks, Styx-esque compositions (Southern Grace) and the Skynyrd stamp of approval. They pull it off with modern muscle while strapping on a pair of spurs and riding the mother for all its worth. The musical commotion when the whole thing fires up is frenzied but with remarkable control and yes the cowbell is well respected and often used.
Trampled Under Hoof
Southern Lord Records
Ah, a classic return to true Goatsnake doom. Heralded as one of the quintessential doom/stoner bands of the late 90s, the Snake join the ranks of Obsessed and Kyuss. Considered dead and buried, Goatsnake return with this 5-track teaser, Trampled Under Hoof, after a four-year hiatus. The first thing that catches your eye is the proud goat that dominates the cover - aged, sturdy and noble the perfect image to welcome back the California-based quartet.
Known for their tuned-down, stretched out, slow grind they do not disappoint in the three original compositions here. Portrait Of Pain weighs in at seven minute with its plodding, dense riff marching in time with a thunderous backbeat. Juniors Jam takes it further by coming closer to a Sabbath dirge adding bagpipes, chickens and layered feedback - and some of the best guitar work heard from guitarist Greg Anderson (Sunn 0)), Thorrs Hammer, co-founder of Southern Lord records).
Recorded in 2002 with Anderson, drummer JR, and later Scott Reeder (Kyuss, Obssessed) the songs take their time to develop and mature. Middle track Black Cat Bone jumps out as the real stand out. Only three-minutes long, the track packs a serious punch - soulful, heavy, intense and powerful. Rounding out the EP are two rare cover tracks including Saint Vitus Burial At Sea and a killer rendition of Black Oak Arkansass Hot Rod complete with an autobiographical intro.
Website: Southern Lord
Southern Lord Records
This is a re-release of the 1990 recording only available for years in vinyl form or as a high-priced import. Saint Vitus was one of those obscure, yet essential bands that has become legend as time goes by. Formed in Southern California by vocalist Scott Reader, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta they took their name from the ninth track off Black Sabbaths Vol. 4 LP.
In the early 80s Saint Vitus were completely unique. Their sound basked in the glow of doom-laden rock, they dressed like a biker gang and they walked the walk. Influenced by the hardcore scene they merged with the talents of Black Flag and released four albums under SST records (helmed by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn). In 1986, Obsessed frontman Scott Wino Weinrich replaced Reagars who brought to the band more of a Motorhead focus and saw them join the ranks of bands like Trouble.
Though V is 14 years old it has aged nicely. Living Backwards, I Bleed Black and Patra move at a snails pace, slow dark and heavy while When Emotion Dies featuring Fiona McMillian, can be heard in todays Opeth and Lacuna Coil. Ice Monkey, Angry Man and Mind-Food make the most out of Chandlers Iommi-like guitar sound with thick riffs and spars yet eloquent solos. The shining moment comes from Jack Frost, a track that feeds the speakers low-end sludge to the point the woofer will rattle the whole damn thing off the shelf. One moment with me and frostbite sets in bellows Wino as the speaker hits the floor.
Website: Southern Lord
|AMP II ELEVEN
Smog Veil Records
Amps II Eleven are unapologetic riff rock that benefit from an unruly recording, loud guitars and the throat of Mr. Matt Wroth. With a voice like gravel he can match the intensity of Bon Scott and the snarl of Lemmy. The music therein spills out of this disc like a flaming ball of kerosene. Quick on high-octane delivery and short on patience the band have fussed together three local Cleveland bands to forge a nu breed of hell raisers.
Formed in the shadow of biker-metalhead pioneers Carmerosmith, Zeke, and Fireballs of Freedom, the beer swigging five-piece eat nails and belch napalm - enough to catch the ears of Reno, NV-based Smog Veil Records. 12-tracks of unrelenting fury capitalize on the bands influencing hailing the loudest and proudest of groups like Motorhead, Stooges and MC5. Hit play and listen to 29% Rippers it will behead you in just under three-minutes.
Pitting two guitars against each other fuels the combustion as Aaron Dowell and Attila Csapo blow it all out on State Road Stranger, Denium And Daggers and Waste Of A Pretty Face. Only skilled fingers can bleed this much aggression into compact rock n roll. Drummer Dr. Callahan and bassist Tony Erba have no problem keeping up even pushing Bourbon Sprawl, the UFO-tinged Jesus Hates Cleveland and the power-surging Blood Runs Black. For first timers these boys demand your attention with monster riffs, head banging rhythms and bone-crushing intensity.
|HARVEST OF SOULS
Formed a couple years ago with Philly-native Brian Sutor, Bulgarian guitarist Emil Natchev and Jersey drummer Tony Cusmano, Harvest of Souls rise from the ashes of late 90s arena rock in the vain of Seven Mary Three, Three Doors Down, and even Creed. Packing a hell of a wallop in only three songs these boys know how to pen a catchy ditty and lock it down with bludgeoning guitar.
First track in Who starts off with Natchev gentle refrain which harkens back to Alex Lifesons intro in Rushs 2112. His picking is clean and electric building to a crunching just before the vocal. Sutor establishes himself as a powerful vocalist embracing the song with a warm baritone yet, packing a punch when he bellows the chorus Do you think you know my name?, Come and take another look inside. Drums, vox and guitar grind out a palatable squall equal to FM staples.
Just in case you mistake the first four minutes as a fluke Love Me Hate Me follows suite drifting back into crescendo writing. The dichotomy of a mellow verse crashing into a wall of guitars each time the chorus hits builds up the impact until is all falls into a fuzzed-out wall of low-end buzz. Unhurried the track leads into the six-minute Born To Heaven Born To Hell, a marvelous somewhat lumbering number. Dragging its feet in time with Cusmano thump we hear a pop-stoner merge that braces itself for the next coming of desert rock.
Live At The Magic Bag
Twelve years old and still kicking out the jams. This fearless country-punk band originally from Tucson, Arizona is out with their tenth long-player. Settling up with Sub Pop and hopping around from Koch to Music Cartel the rugged four-piece have now made the big leap into self-production / promotion with their own indie label Mid-Fi Recordings. Live At The Magic Bag is the bands third disc on the label (Eddie Spaghetti did a solo record last year which came out on the label as well). The 22-songs therein embrace the finest collection of Cow-punk mayhem ever unleashed.
Recorded in the thriving metropolis of Ferndale, Michigan the record blasts through all the hits, Rock-N-Roll Records, Rock Your Ass, The Evil Powers of Rock-N-Roll, Bad, Bad, Bad and That Is Rock-N-Roll. The ROCK can not be over stated. The twin-guitar onslaught of Rontrose Heathman and Dan Thunder Bolton make for a bone-crushing delivery especially in the feedback of Bruises To Prove It, Luck, Goodbye and in the Thin Lizzy-cover Jailbreak.
Produced by Spaghetti and David Fisher the intensity of the Suckers live show comes full force - worts and all. Dummer Mike Murderburger keeps Eddies hammerhead bass on track for a train-ride through Creepy Jackalope Eye, Dirt Roads, Dead Ends & Dust and the lethal How To Maximize Your Kill Count. Humor is at an all time-high with Eddies good-time bantor between songs. One not to be missed.
Bathed in 70s hard rock Tony Koretz mixes the sting of a Gibson SG with the growl of early Peter Green to create an inspiring debut, Kicking Cans. Completely confident in wearing his influences on his sleeve, Koretz and his brothers create a personal tribute to orchestrated stadium rock with his melodic arrangements, signature riffs and thick baritone.
An audio engineer by day, the native New Zealander brings elements of Led Zeppelin (Oh Yeah!), Foghat (If Your Love Was A River) and Traffic (And The Wind Blows) into his 12-track resume. Joined by his brothers Nathan (drums, bass), Marcel and Simon (backing vocals), Tonys writing style fits the records raw production but is not devoid of eloquent styling and compelling songcraft. Yet, where Koretz really shines is in the stripped-down acoustic blues of Porch Rocker Blues and the swagger of Come Back Baby.
Writing and composing the album himself has allowed Koretz the freedom to take a song from a Procol Harum-like jam in The Chequered Flag to the ass-kicking burn of The Tears where his gorgeous sense of melody moves from a passionate electric guitar to a swelling acoustic / piano mid-section. There are plenty of ELP moments throughout the whole affair due to the prominence of vintage Leslie cabinets. Record highlight is I Belong, a scorcher from its opening riff to its disheveled bridge into a tasty chorus. Well worth the postage.
Bad Afro Records
Hot on the heels of last years Money For Soul long-player Denmarks Baby Woodrose release a tribute of their personal faves done with their own unique spin. Not to be considered a traditional follow-up Dropout pays homage to garage groups from the 60s ranging from covers by obscure bands like The Savages (The World Aint Right, Its Square), Painted Faces (I Lost You In My Mind), The Lollipop Shoppe (Whos It Gonna Be) and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (A Child Of A Few Hours) to the more well-known Captain Beefheart (Dropout Boogie), The Stooges (Not Right), The Sonics (Im Going Home) and The Saints (This Perfect Day).
Its bands like Baby Woodrose that help expose newer audiences to classic garage-rock and here they do an exquisite job. The opening refrain of Loves Cant Explain oozes from the headphones with punch and finesse. The timid balance of vintage guitar over a simple drumkit backbeat are urged on by the shake of a tambourine. I Lost My Mind and Im Going Home are a little muddy as the fuzz obscures some of the instrument separation. Which is a good thing!
The tougher edge of Dropout Boogie takes the vocals through a vox augmenter while kicking the guitar up a notch. Not Right and I Dont Ever Want To Come Down approach a more definitive rock flame while still holding true to the original complete with a dominating bass line. Still the subtitles are the most moving. Whos It Gonna Be and This Perfect Day take us on mindtrip equal to or greater than their own psychedelic level of musical genius.
Song With No Words
Bad Afro Records
Weve been waiting for this baby for damn near a year. Down the same back-alley as the White Stripes this Finish threesome knows how to tango. Merging what can only be descried as a mix of muscle guitar riffs and hypersonic backbeats with frantic vocals cast in attitude and well sweat. Complementing, the records rapid urgency is the bar-room piano/organ bringing the whole thing over the edge with a fundamental timeless tone.
Squeezing all they can out of the pop end of their rawk is the bass-friendly smash Song With No Word highlighted by an extremely cleaver video (www.grancanaria.fi). It got the buzz going early on this one. The same vibe is repeated in Dirty Little Things and the Misfit-cover of Where Eagles Dare all perfect, catchy ditties that grow tentacles and wrap themselves around your cerebral cortex.
Lest ye forget, this is a rock record and Sweatmaster fill the rest of the EP covering some of their favorite tunes. Minor Threats I Dont Wanna Hear It, Music Machines Talk Talk and Money Marks Rock In The Rain feed the punkier side like gasoline to the fire. Touring with the likes of The Darkness and Baby Woodrose have defiantly upped the game for this release. Both quirky and accessible is the magic that gives the band their unique brand of bare-boned staccato rock'n'roll. Watch for their next full-length in 2005.
|TWO COW GARAGE
The Wall Against Our Back
For fans of Slobberbone and early Uncle Tupelo, Ohio-natives 2 Cow Garage elevate a refreshing blend of mid-western rock with just enough country to make it interesting. Compared by some as the new Replacements, this relatively young upstart hosts Micah Schnabel (guitar, vocals), Dustin Spanky Harigle (drums) and Shane Sweeney (bass) as primary composers. What they generate musically can be summed up in the blue-collar tribute Farmtown - part Springsteen, part Mellencamp the song uses a piano melody with full-body guitar and a memorable chorus to establish the bands direction.
Schnabels voice is aged and emotional giving the rock-piled Been So Long, River and Burn their guttural punch. His relentless guitars finds its place in each song maintaining the melody with a razor-sharp edge. Check out his converging solo in Burn for a real awakening. Sweeney and Harigle fall right in line moving Girl Of My Dreams and Youngstown into brooding Pogue-like weepers.
Telling the story is quintessential for this band. Much like the Del Lords and Beat Farmers, they reiterated real-life elements into their cavalcade of pedal steel, guitar, bass, drum and the occasional violin. Refreshing is the bands song writing. Honest and heartfelt they can transport the listener from the local truck stop in Forget You to the two-step hoedown in All Sins Forgiven. An eclectic mix but worth the visit.
|BEATEN BACK TO PURE
The Burning South
Devil Doll Records
Somewhere between Motorhead and The Doors sits a spooky little band out of bayou country with a very big sound. BBTP eat, sleep and dream doom metal and with a lead singer known as Boss Hogg you can bet they take it seriously. The Hoggs voice is retro death metal, growling, rough and unbridled a perfect fit for the duel-guitar barrage of Ritchie and Vince. Taking their queue from bands like Alabama Thunder Pussy and Iron Monkey the power-hungry five piece literally craft their songs.
Check out One Shovel And A Place To Die - ethereal as Opeth, throaty vocals and ball-crushing guitars that lock up over a snake charmer backbeat only to be broken by a melodic acoustic refrain. Beautiful! Smothered In Sundress ensnares the listener in much the same way a captivating Spirit Caravan-like intro then beats you to death with the weight of it all. Skynyrd find its way into songs like Where The Sewer Meets The Sea and Running Out Of Neck but its the Sabbath sludge of Pillars Of Tomorrow Piles Of Yesterday that march right into the swamp.
Chugging through a swell of whirly bits it the blood-stained Hell Goes Thru Hanging Dog super-charged with a dragging bottom end. The instrumental Vertigo goes for full-volume effect blasting away as the guitar brings in elements of Megadeath, Vicious Rumors and Priest. Keeping it all inline is the rhythm work of drummer Chuck and bassist Slam who are wide awake from the opening frantic pace of American Vermin right through to the end. Lyrics are disturbing, haunting and perfect for Halloween.