HOT HOT HEAT
Elevator
Sire Records

Vancouver BC-based top pop band throw another smoking slab our way. Just a couple years ago “Talk To Me, Dance With Me” and “Bandages” were all the rage off the band’s Make Up The Breakdown LP. With Elevator you can still hear their dance punk root ranging from XTC to The Cure but it also sees the band evolving as songwriters. The band’s singer Steve Bays told Nate Seltenrich of Zero magazine, “When we were in Victoria we were in 20 to 30 bands…we were always changing our sound, drastically.” Not that Elevator is a huge shift, just more effective. Case in point is “Dirty Mouth” a melodic popper with minor chords leading into the chorus and producer’s Dave Sardy slick Jet-like spin.

Admit it, these guys are catchy, fun and danceable - is that a crime? They can also pack a wallop! “Running Out Of Time” takes the guitar and organ and pushes them right out of the speaker with mach-decibel force. The mood change in “Ladies and Gentleman” to the lounge “Jingle Jangle” with it’s build to a dynamic crescendo is exactly what elevates this record to pure class. Luke Paquin’s guitar is all over the place from the acoustic strums in “Pickin’ It Up’ and the electric “Shame On You” to the “Soldier In A Box.” It’s one thing to know when to tap the human ear with lush melodies, it’s quite another to write smart rock songs that have universal appeal. Hot Hot Heat prove they can do all of the above.

Website:
Sire Records, Hot Hot Heat

SPIDER & SNAKES
Hollywood Ghosts
Cleopatra Records

Well under the radar of mainstream music industry types slithers the presence of one of America’s finest glam rock duos in the form of Lizzie Grey (London) and Timothy Jay. The two come together in the same way as T Rex did in the late ‘60s with Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn. Grey, who has played with members of LA Guns, Motley Crüe and Guns and Roses, has kept the Spiders & Snakes motto going through two decades. And with Hollywood Ghosts he might finally produce a genuine masterpiece.

Where other S&S record have been more Bowie meets Poison, Hollywood Ghosts keeps it simple as an acoustic-based merger with clean harmonies, balanced musical texture and steady songwriting. Granted there are still sparkles of Sweet and Ziggy Stardust mixed with the Bay City Rollers, but this version dabbles in politics with ”American Baby” and the humorous “Bill’s Cigar” as well as the sunset strip anthem “Angelyne.” They even cover the Conway Twitty minor hit “Spiders and Snakes” to complete the three-way mirror.

The disc ships with a DVD fully packed with live footage and videos you might have missed if you weren’t up late surfing cable. The boys take a serious shot at it but the production is a bit spotty in places. The live version of “Rollercoaster Ride” is much better than the demo. Then “Little Willy” and “These Are The Good Times” both take a slash at the genre that spawned them. The London Daze series is the better of the lot. A nice little history piece at any rate.

Website:
Cleopatria Records, Spiders & Snakes

TISHAMINGO
Tishamingo, Wear n’ Tear
Magnatude Records

Lot’s of great bands have come out of Athens, Georgia; The Black Crowes and REM to name a couple. It’s also not too far from Macon, Georgia and the whole Allman Brothers, Derek and the Dominos crowd. Among the legends a new star is glowing, a four-piece called Tishamingo. Mining treasured nuggets from the Allmans, Skynyrd and Marshal Tucker; these boys pull up their own distinctive sound with superb groove and whiskey-soaked country rock.

From the self-titled debut (2005) we hear a myriad of crossovers from the bluegrass jam “Whiskey State Of Mind” to the soulful country-roots in “Way Back Home.” Vocals go from Greg Allman to Tom Johnston to Doug Gray. Having two guitarists and three singers in the band build and added depth to each of the CD’s 13 selections. Much like Stampede-era Doobie Brothers, the melody of songs is what weaves them together There is the lazy “Tradition” with its gentle acoustic pace, and gorgeously crafted “Last Ride” bringing bongo rhythms into the mix. The use of the odd instruments lying around the studio including lab-steel make for delightful texture and color.

Where their first record was a more roots-driven affair, Wear n’ Tear is a much more aggressive and mature work. ”Wastin’ Time”, “Roll Out Soles” and “Poison Whiskey” spin out with Aerosmith meets Blackfoot passion. There’s even a hint of Drive By Truckers probably due to producer David Barbe and mixing engineer John Keane’s (Widespread Panic) involvement. Tishamingo’s combination of blues-based rock with a progressive southern twist thrill “Hillbilly Wine” and “Willin’ to Die.” Yet, it’s the beautifully crafted jazz-based “Rome”, the ‘70s styled “Magic” and the bar room piano in “Reprise” that make this absolutely spellbinding.

Website:
Magna Carta Records, Tishamingo

SHRAPNEL
Revolution In Progress
Independent

Austin-based band, Shrapnel are making quite a name for themselves lately. MTV has been using tracks off their debut Revolution In Progress for their shows "Real World", "Road Rules", and "The Inferno 2". They also just finished shows with Shadows Fall and the "Battle for OZZfest” so we had to pull over and take a closer look. On first listen you won’t believe four guys can make such a racket. Hailing monstrous riffs from the belly of the beast they lock horns with an industry pushing the flavor-of-the-day for a shot at redefining metal.

It’s obvious once “Damaged Goods’ kicks in these boys are Pantera/Judas Priest fans. Full on feedback drags you kicking and screaming into vintage twin-guitar riffs all the while the drums are kicking you in the back of the head. Next up, “Temporary Sanity” treats us to a bit of southern slide blues. Brothers Aaron (vocals/guitar) and Evan (guitar) Canady swap leads for a bit of sibling rivalry. It’s also here we get the full range of Aaron’s distinctive vocals – which in all honesty can’t be compared to anyone, yet are melodically strong and glide from smooth baritone to gravel with ease.

“It Takes All Kinds”, “Walking Dead Man” and the instrumental “Cheap Thrills” put line-drummer Greg Stewart in the spotlight. His intensity and double-kick bass roar out of the pin with a full-on charge. Bassist Gustavo Calderon heads him off with all frets a’ flying. Together they set down the perfect backdrop for Evan’s surrealist guitar swirls. Reading their online CV Opeth stands out as a major influence which shows in the extended “Unbound” and “In Memory Of…” Shrapnel have got all the musical muscle to lead the pack, maybe with tighter songs (three run over seven minutes) and a bit more experience we’ll see these boys make their mark.

Website:
Shrapnel

TRUCKFIGHTERS
Gravity X
Fuzzorama Records

Band is:
Ozo (vocals, bass), Fredo (guitar), Dango (guitar), Paco (drums)

After months of anticipation we can finally hold in our hands the new Truckfighters CD. Out now on Sweden’s Fuzzorama Records, our boys from the land of ice and snow shovel out a ton of classic stoner gems from top to bottom. Immediately I caught myself turning the volume higher as I thought, “ this is what stoner rock is all about.” Let me spell it out for ya. We have wide sweeping desert grooves with some serious wool rumbling from the sub woofers. On top is the methodic Dozer-like chugging chords decimating the midrange and bass. Ozo’s superlative vocals wind in and out like a prizefighter going the distance.

Jump right to “Gargarismo” and crank it. The room will catch the vibe and then boom! This ‘60s distorted garage riff will peel paint. Everything comes together as your eyes roll back in your head. Just when you think it’s too intense, it backs right off for a breath before a power-fuzz blankets your brain. “Momentum” and “Suberfunck” clean up with a COC-taste for melody but the groove set down with “Desert Cruiser” will find itself coming back time and time again. There’s plenty of room to stir it up and “Subfloor” does just that with a Mexican-horn section, which will take you off gaurd, but you'll learn to embrace it.

“Gweedo-weedo” and “Manhattan Project” spell it out with rank-and file distortion, lumbering bottom end and tapering interludes. Busting out the Queens of the Stone Age CDs will find similarities to both “In Search Of…” and “Intermission” in the bass-driven leads and lunar soundscapes drifting all the way into “A Zapruder.” Returning to ground zero is the eight-minute closer “Altered State” that quietly yet rhythmically slides right off the edge of the disc.

Website:
Fuzzorama Records, Truckfighters

THE BLUE VAN
The Art of Rolling
TVT Records

On tour this spring with Hot Hot Heat is none other than TVT recording artists The Blue Van. Striking a chord with a retro-‘60s garage sound, this Danish four piece take low-fi organ, mix in a couple punishing guitars and mash it all together with a throbbing kick drum. New York Times called them, “fuzzed guitar, eruptive drums and raspy, unbridled vocals.” We call them the salvation of pop garage rock with some of the best rockin’ Hammond since John Rabbit Bundrick of the Who.

The Blue Van has been playing together since the 6th grade. Now in their early 20’s, they claim to be ready for stardom. Reports from their fans support their declaration calling them, “unbelievable players” and, “it’s hard to resist them …so don’t” The first impression of The Art of Rolling beckons back to prime Kinks complete with aggressive guitars, courtesy of Steffen Westmark and Soren Christensen. Sledgehammer drums provided by Per Jorgensen and bass by Allan Villadsen belt out the deafening beats of “Product of DK” and the fabulous “The Remains of Sir Mason”.

But I’m telling you, it’s that organ that keeps coming back with repetitive force to wash over each song and give it that classic passion. Christensen’s relentless keyboard pounding only eases up with the bluesy “Baby, I’ve Got Time,” and is back in full force until the record ends with “New Slough.” Westmark proves he’s more than just a guitarist as his embracing voice builds, “I Want You” and ”Mob Rule” with Elvis-like projection. Some might hear the traces of Mooney Suzuki or even Jet within the band’s 12 selections but when you take the time to listen to the Ennio Morricone-meets-Beatles epic “Revelation of Love” you will begin to understand why this is a giant of a record.

Website:
TVT Records, The Blue Van

FILTHY JIM
Ride With Death
Dead Teenager Records

Without hesitation this Kansas-based 4-some is in for the entire ride. Fully confident, they scorch the first 20-seconds of their Ride with Death with heat-seeking feedback. Plodding doom-laden riffs eek out of the title track while singer Seth Cole screeches out his pledge to “give it to ya till ya die”. Just when you’re curling up with a nice book the song kicks into Priest licks and before ya know it’s full on rock-n-roll. The supersonic “Tried the Needle” continues with the velocity of a hot rod burning up I-95. Cole and Steve Hammond combine guitars in a unison of shear terror as they plow through “Ham Sandwich,” the frantic “Teenage Witch” and the record’s signature, “Gasoline.”

The whole record tops out at 33-minutes total, just enough to feel the full presence of a band possessed by sub demons bent on choking the life out of their instruments. Cooper Moon (bass) and Luke Parde (drums) don’t ever let up – their relentless pummeling as they pulverize “Waxahachie”. Moon moves to the spotlight walking straight into Hammond’s guitar in “Goat Strain”. The whole thing has a stoned out vibe but- as heard before – makes a break for Sex Pistols punk. Straight up rock, closes this mother down in the well known Alice Cooper ditty “Is It My Body.” This is a gem of a find, hit their website, pick up your copy and keep the boys rockin’.

Website:
Dead Teenager Records, Filthy Jim

SUPER HEAVY GOAT ASS
60,000 years
Independent Release

SHGA formed as NO2 in the winter of 1999. Shortly thereafter they changed to Goat Ass and when an overzealous promoter stuck the prefix ‘super heavy” in front of their name it took. Dedicated to their craft, the four relentlessly played the Austin Red River circuit combining elements of ZZ Top and Black Sabbath. 60,000 Years is the band’s self-produced third record and, straight out of the gate, is very well done – including lots of room in the mix for the band to breathe. The guitar work, done by vocalist/ guitarist Russell Abbott and Derek Halfmann is dense and tuneful. “Backside”, “Lasting Kind” and “Built to Last” all lean on a roaring ‘70s guitar tone landing somewhere between Thin Lizzy and Skynyrd.

Determined to maintain their darker side, the band pull from the bass grooves of Brent Boepple. His presence is what makes the doom-powered “Ms. Underhill” and the roaming “Druglord” so thick. Not so subtle is drummer Tim Hurt when he winds up and let’s it all out in “Slave” and the SoCal tempo-changer, “Best Friend.” Standout track has to be “SSOB”. Possibly the Texan’s answer to Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” we hear the band wearing their red-neck pride visibly on their sleeves. It’s refreshing to hear a band take a genre, adapt their interpretation thereof and create a catchy, potent thriller. Fans of Nashville Pussy, Motörhead, ZZ Top and Ted Nugent will treasure this gem.

Website:
Arclight Records

THE YOUNG WEREWOLVES
Self Titled
Independent release

Band is: Nick (guitar), Dana (bass), Jon (drums)

13-tracks of pure ghoulishly themed punkabilly is what we have with the debut from The Young Werewolves. Calling Philly home, the nocturnal trio find plenty of surf in their Dick Dale-inspired collection which focuses around a foot stomping beat and a wind-up Gretsch Bigsby. Themed in a lust for zombie car chases, graveyard love and werewolf fever, the band get back to the ritual basics of bass, guitar and drums. An earthy production takes opening number “Evil Soul” back to the late’60s with a bouncing bass over a stripped down riff. Enjoying the advantage of having three singers in the band keep the chorus tight and catchy. “Blackjack & Roulette” bring the record into clear focus as the Wolves hit their stride with sideburns and poker shirts becoming the coolest thing this side of Vegas.

Luscious shewolf, Dana K. (bass) takes center spot with her bass/vocal delivery in “Black Cat”, “Graveyard of Love” and “Dead End Friends.” A little Billy Idol, a little Patsy Cline her grooves are solid, accented, and well executed. Her “in-the-pocket” dexterity settles right in with Johnny Wolf’s slick hi-hat and kick drum. As with all trios there’s no place to hide so these young rumblers take confidence in simple song structure and playing within their skill set. The spooky “Halloween”, “Wolfabilly Blues” and “Curse of the Cocaine Mummies” , though tongue-in-cheek, are the best of the lot. There’s also the hidden “White Wedding” guaranteed to have you reaching for the volume, rolling down the window and singing at the top of your lungs.

Website:
www.theyoungwerewolves.com

GO LIKE HELL
Hell Bent Rock N Roll
Independent release

The gates of purgatory have cracked, the graves have yielded their ghoulish dead and the Plasmatics have been reincarnated as Go Like Hell. Led by foul-mouthed punktress Alexi Void, their Accept-meets-Sick Of It All sound take heavy metal twin guitar harmonies, rework them and spew them out as power punk refugees. GLH harvest from the Seattle underground punk/metal scene Pleasure Elite’s drummer and guitarist with Public Nuisance's lead guitarist, Harris Lux’s bassist and Genitorturers crack vocalist. A crowd favorite, these five produce enough energy to light up the whole northwest using Misfit lyrics and AC/DC/Motörhead chops.

Catchy ditties include the muscle-bound “Hell to Pay”, “Los Bastardos” and “Quick Jerkin’” all centered around chunky hard rock guitars and Void’s screech. High-speed punk freight-trains through the record’s midsection taking with it “Feedbags and Fistfights”, “Eat My Dust” and “Blindside”. Bass and drums sweat it out in the engine room stoking this baby for all it’s worth. Part of the record’s charm is the occasional flashback like the Kiss treatment of “Hotter than Love” and the aforementioned blues/AC/DC mix of “Hell To Pay” and “Acute Denial.” The R.B. Greaves classic “Take a Letter Maria” shuts this mother down with cow-punk frenzy.

Website:
Buttermilk Records

MIDNIGHT EVILS
Breakin’ It Down
Estrus Records

My first sighting of the Midnight Evils was on the new release wall at Sonic Records in Seattle’s Fremont district. The record at the time was 2003’s Straight ‘Til Morning. Little did my car speakers know what they were in for – within seconds of pushing play they literally stated to smoke, then melt right out of the housing. Who was this reckless band of mischief-makers that could pack so much aggression into less than 45-minutes? As it turns out, it’s five guys from Minnesota with a lust for rough guitars, raw speed and a whole lot’a feedback.

Breakin’ It Down is the band’s latest opus. It packs the same guitar grind as before with a full tank of nitrous for those special occasions. Slimmed to a four-piece after loosing their vocalist, they restate their claim in formidable tough rock numbers as “Let Me In”, “C’Mon” and “Party, Party, Party.” The tempo never changes – just warp drive all the time. Yet somewhere in their speed trap is the distinct ring of melody and bull-rider rhythm. “Good Time Vandy’s Got The Blues” is the perfect vehicle for just such a nod as band guitarist Vandy strips down 12-bar blues into molten lead.

“Getting’ Down On The Midnight Hour” and “Pipebreaker” leave no confusion as to the direction of the band. Bulldozing through an underbrush of subsonic drum and bass, the guitars level out a gravel highway straight to hotrod hell. All three take a shot at the mic with Jack Daniel’s vibrato staining each song with an individual interpretation. The recording is live and raw often catching the band shouting back and forth above the mayhem of one-take brilliance. Every track is a monster – full-tilt testicular rock and a spot on snapshot of how to do a record right.

Website:
Estrus Records, The Midnight Evils

R.CARLOS NAKAI QUARTET
People Of Peace
Canyon Records

Fans of this site will are well familiar with our support of international superstar R. Carlos Nakai. Recording 35 records, two going gold and pocketing six Grammy nominations makes the self-taught multi instrumentalist and Native American flutist a force to be reckoned with. Where The Beatles and Led Zeppelin sought inspiration from India, the Middle East and Moroccan/African music, we look to the earth-born Native American culture and its unique blend of mystique and melody.

People Of Peace is the fourth in sequence for the quartet and may well be their best effort yet. Consisting of Nakai, Mary Redhouse (bass, vocals), AmoChip Dabney (keys, string, sax) and Will Clipman (percussion) their music is considered “cutting edge native fusion with a heavy dose of world beat.” The haunting first track “Winagyaa” centers around flute whisperings entwined through piano soundscapes and tribal beats. It sets the tone for all twelve or the CD’s songs with the flute sewing the whole thing together. The complexity of the group’s compositions increases with the layering of African and Oriental elements in “Flute Forest” verging on King Crimson progression.

All four individuals within the quartet are given their own areas of focus. Dabney’s piano interludes take the winding “Kiva Smoke” and “Condor Canyon” and turns them into an elaborate, colorful canvas. Bassist Redhouse and percussionist Clipman take the group on an interesting turn through urban beats and the new age jazz of “Gnu H20” as well as the latin “Club Dread.” Yet, it is Redhouse’s voice that is the magic behind the Caribbean-textured title track “People Of Peace.” The quartet are astonishing musicians and instrumentalists. Their mixture of style, world culture and collective vision set them apart in today’s musical arena -musical medicine men for souls of all.

Website:
Canyon Records