CRAIG ERICKSON
Rare Tracks
Grooveyard Records

Back in Issue #64 when we reviewed Erickson’s Big Highway CD, we said, “Craig Erickson’s guitar playing sends us back in time to when the guitar ruled supreme and guitar gods were the order of the day.” With Rare Tracks, Erickson continues to impress as he explores a more colorful array of technical and emotional skill. Recorded between 1986-2006 and playing a diversified range that includes the acoustic/slide of “River Blues” to the Bad Company stylings of “Only Drifting” give credence to his love of seventies rock. Yet, he bends and stretches in different angles to capture mood and texture. For one who’s worked with Glenn Hughes and admired Jeff Beck, there are the expected highlights of the Clapton-inspired “Away” and the Robert Johnson-penned “Stones in my Pathway” where Erickson’s guitar screams like a wounded demon. “Down at the Bottom” is six-minutes of slow burning scorching blues with a sizzle like a bayou Cajon grill. Considering all 14 tracks are basement demos, it’s a true testament to the man’s craft and mesmerizing fretwork.

Rare Tracks also introduces the listener to a number of ideas Erickson has been working out over the years. One such gem is the wooly “Rewind.” The song captures a raw stoner vibe with its fuzzed out sonically dense rampage that chews on the brain. Though the vocals are a bit shaky the guitarist pulls off a tasty display of risk and bravado. He continues to share bits and pieces with a live 30-second run called “Guitar / Bass Interplay” and dedicates “Jam for J” to co-producer Joe Romagnola where he strings together a melodic shuffle that recalls Rory Gallagher’s instrumental nuances. The Hendrix epic “Little Wing” is given a gorgeous acoustic lullaby treatment in the hands of Erickson while the eleven-minute “Below Zero Blues” has a resonance similar to Michael Schenker’s acoustic picking. The song closes the record out nicely with a slight country blues groove and sporadic tempo change that harmonizes into a powerful performance.

Website: Grooveyard Records

SCARLET RUNNER
Groove Thang
Grooveyard Records

The Grooveyard has never shied away from their love and admiration for all things Hendrix. What they’ve found in Scarlet Runner is a regional wonder kid, Jason Leroy who channels the true Hendrix spirit in both vocal and guitar chops. The band is Leroy (guitar/vocals), Jack Christensen (bass), with Luke Rathe and Jeremy Ackley sharing drum duties. By the third cut on this, the band’s third outing, they reach their apex in “Manic Depression” where they blaze through a vicious rendition of the classic. Their tribute goes on to include label mate Craig Erickson who lends a hand (and voice) on the lesser known Hendrix original “Who Knows…Power of Soul” as well as the title-track “Groove Thing” Both offer a radiant raw, visceral attack that is more street blues than slick showmanship. Of the disc’s 14 numbers, all but four are original yet the covers are just as gritty and inspiring.  Often the sound is akin to early Stevie Ray Vaughan with even John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples” packed with swagger and menace.

A clear favorite is the southern-styled funk of “Wrong Side” as it hangs on to a seductive bass / drum backbeat while blazing away on the guitar. Leroy’s soulful voice captures elements of Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers with the sex appeal of Al Jarreau as he sings, “things are never easy when you’re from the wrong side.” The hair-raising solo toward the end is worth the price of admission alone! A sonic swath of heavy guitar riffing ignite songs like the metallic “Grinder,” the progressive, almost psychedelic “State of Affairs” and the modern rock rumbler “Crazy Chimpanzee.” There’s also plenty of roadhouse rock in “Peace O’ Mine,” “Let Me Be” and the foot-tapping “Take the Fall.” where the guitar effects add a dynamic cosmic dimension. The stripped down Bill Withers hit “Use Me Up” toward the end of the disc is a study in groove, funk and soulful expression – something Scarlet Runner do very well.

Website: Grooveyard Records

SKY HIGH
Sky High and Still Rockin’
Grooveyard Records

We got hooked on Sky High a couple years ago after listening to their Freedom CD. The band is a vehicle for Swedish blues/rock guitarist Clas Yngstrom, a serious Hendrix head that even dedicated his sixth record, the live Safe Sex to his hero. Sky High and Still Rockin’ are Yngstrom’s first two records originally released in 1983. They have since been redesigned and expanded with additional live tracks that showcase the man’s true force behind his playing. Yngstrom’s band is basically a three piece with additional players brought in to flesh out the sound including harmonica and backing vocals. Both records are electric with everything from traditional Delta to muscled-up ZZ Top blues. Aged and weathered, the platters still maintain their durability especially considering they were released the same year SRV’s Texas Flood hit the racks. With a current total of 16 records and over 4,000 gigs under their belt, it’s important to rediscover the roots of Gothenburg’s leading blues-rock legends.

Sky High kicks off with the hippie/blues grinder “Rainbow Child,” a moody, mud-soaked dirty little number that chases a funky bass groove with cascading solo spurts lacing the whole thing together. The record bounces around trying to find itself. There’s the harmonica tinged “Together Again,” the Wild Cherry-funk of “Across All Borders” and the country rocker ala Derek and the Dominos “Dalarna.” Yngstrom’s ability to draw you in with his biographical tales of lover, father, friend and his unique talent of playing different styles and still frame it in the blues speaks volumes for his musicality. There’s plenty of nifty tradition in “Money Blues” bass-heavy “Sky High Boogie” and the jazzy progression of “Morning Ballad” The pickfest of “Cold Winds” is complemented by an abundance of Nashville slide while the politically charged “Wake Up Zombies!” pays a nice tribute to Mark Knopfler. The expanded disc finishes off with live versions of “Hoochie Coochie Man,”  “Fire” and “Voodoo Chile.”

Still Rockin’ is a more polished affair than its predecessor Sky High. The band is caught up in late 70’s - early ‘80s production and song writing. Pablo Cruise sing-a-longs and Gerry Rafferty riffs fill half of the record with “Love Your Life,” “Danger in the Night” and “Autumn City Nights” almost hitting an AOR disco peak. Thankfully the guitar, thick bass and drum beats are recorded in all their glory and never fall victim to a synth machine. Best comparison is maybe Wild Cherry with Albert Collins and BB King sitting in with the band.  “Starting Over Again” actually comes close to Frankie and the Knockouts with a smokin’ hot fade-out solo. The rest of the record is more akin to what we’ve come to expect from Sky High. Honky-Tonk roadhouse rock is stamped all over “We Ain’t Getting Old” while greasy blues are the order of the day with “On the Outside Blues” and “Hard Working Man.” But it’s the Montrose-inspired “I’m Still Rockin” and “Fallen Angel” that lift this disc up by the bootstraps and give it a serious kick in the ass.

Website: Grooveyard Records

BRANT BJORK
Punk Rock Guilt
Low Desert Punk Records

Stoner / Desert rock icon Brant Bjork continues to stamp a unique imprint on his esteemed career with his ninth solo record. At 19 he was a founding member of Kyuss (1990) and is now heralded as a pioneering drummer behind Sabbath’s Bill Ward and The Melvins’ Dale Crover for developing a rhythmic beat that framed a genre. In 1994 he produced Fu Manchu’s debut No One Rides For Free and stayed with the band as their drummer until ‘02s California Crossing. As a producer, drummer and guitarist Bjork has continued to push the boundaries of music within his solo work often changing members and working with a range of musicians. Some of the outcroppings include Che, Brant Bjork and the Operators and Brant Bjork and the Bros. Punk Rock Guilt was previously known as the “New Jersey Sessions” recorded back in 2005. The album’s title comes from a common phrase used by, Queens of the Stone Age frontman, Josh Homme to express the break-up of Kyuss.

Dedicated to the late great Buddy Miles, the disc kicks in with the ten-minute opus “Lion One”. It’s a classic desert rock track that flows with a cymbal / drum patter followed by a thick guitar riff and Bjork’s throaty declaration, “I can be what I want to be.” The musician’s ability to pull mood and texture from subtleties is remarkably effective. “Locked and Loaded” and “Born to Rock” don’t necessarily attack as they build from melodic harmonies and pack a punch in more of what is felt out than what is put in – a classic Kyuss bit of songwriting. Elements of Fu Manchu are also prominent with “Shocked by the Static” and title track “Punk Rock Guilt.” Both posses an infectious groove and addictive guitar buzz. The latter even pays tribute to Norwegian punksters Turbonegro, a band Bjork has occasionally toured with. Personal favorite is the funk rock beat of “Dr. Special” where the fuzzy guitar snatches the earthy groove of LA in the summer. “This Place” follows suit hanging on to the bass-drive while “Plant Your Seed” is cosmically raw U2.

Website: Brant Bjork, Low Desert Punk Records

LAUREN HARRIS
Calm Before The Storm
DR2 Records

By now everyone should know Lauren is daughter to Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris. Calm Before The Storm is the kitten’s first full-length offering, and is flavored with fun and promise. There is a fair bit of shtick here and there as it calls to mind the metal divas of yesteryear including Lee Aaron, Chrissy Steele and Femme Fatale. Those who have seen Lauren and her band live know she is more ferocious than what we have here on celluloid. The disc becomes a bit too slick in the hands of Kevin Shirley (Journey) but does fire up with the tasty “Steal Your Fire” a total tribute to 80’s chick metal with a modern, tougher sound. The drums are up-front while a chiming guitar rattles through the verse. There is a nice middle break leading into the solo with some interesting production flare. One of three covers on the record, her take on the original Gun Gallus single is a sturdy introduction. Yet, suddenly and without warning, Harris shifts gears and follows a wave of pop metal in “Your Turn,” “Let Us Be,” and “Hit or Miss.” We were expecting a little more snarl but considering the singer’s involvement with hit writer and Argent guitarist Russ Ballard, it actually makes sense.

The band does hit all six cylinders on gritty “Get Over It,” the bluesy “Like It Or Not” and the record highlight, “See Through.” All three stand on their own and though polished to a fine sheen, maintain enough raw energy to rise to the top. The slower “From The Bottom To The Top,” the lush “Hurry Up” and the acoustic, “You Say” give the record color and showcase Harris’s well-schooled voice but do come close to dragging the tempo. One can’t help but acknowledge her dad’s influence when she cuts into Stray’s Mudanzas track “Come on Over.” The band rises to the occasion and attacks the classic song with a rolling rhythm in the bottom end and beefy chops in the boogie guitar. They keep it 70s but with a better amp. UFO’s “Natural Thing” attached as a bonus track, continues her dad’s love affair with 70s hard rock. (One can only image the music Lauren was exposed to growing up.) Sung with a female voice, the song sounds like a faster version of the original, yet the band do a decent job capturing the original vibe including Danny Peyronel’s signature keyboard sound.

Website: Lauren Harris, DR2 Records

HYDROGYN
Deadly Passions
DR2 Records

Deadly Passions is the second record out from West Virginia-natives Hydrogyn (notice the Skynyrd use of the letter “Y”) and a fitting follow up to 2005’s Bombshell. The cover, featuring lead singer Julie emerging from a coffin, has a more Goth look than the leather-clad, legs-spread lass we’ve become accustomed to, but the music is still power-driven hard rock led by guitarist Jeff Westlake, bassist Chris Sammons and drummer Josh Kitchen. Produced by Westlake and legendary ‘80s metal producer Michael Wagener, (Ozzy, Alice Cooper, and Dokken) the record is a throwback to when melody, riffs and ass-kicking rock went hand and hand. “Rejection” opens the disc with some sinister backward masking leading to a metal double-kick drumbeat and a swath of chugging guitar. It’s obvious Westlake is a student of Dokken, Ratt and Megadeth, especially in his solos while still keeping his playing relevant. Several songs are immediate standouts including the catchy “On and On,” the guitar work on “Your Life” and modern metallic “Over U.”

Mid-way through the disc the band tackles the Alanis Morissette cover “You Oughta Know.” Julia puts in an adequate performance and the band tries to stick to the original. Some of the punch disappears when they change around the lyrics. Like “Back in Black” from Bombshell, the song is too big to mess with and comes off as a watered down tribute rather than an original take on a classic. However, when they stick to their own material, they pull it off with conviction. For instance, the slow building “Candles Light Your Face” is an excellent ode to the ‘80s hair-band power-ballad – big voice, big drums, big guitars. Around this time last year it was announced that Dio guitarist Craig Goldy joined the band to fill in for departing guitarist Jeff Boggs on a tour basis only. Though he is uncredited in the songwriting, his influence can be heard in certain passages like the riffing of “Silent Animation” and the Dio-esque structure of “Shadow.” The band are in the planning stages of an upcoming 'female voices' tour with Benedictum this fall. The idea is to start with Europe and make their way back to the US by Winter.

Website: Hydrogyn, DR2 Records

CIVET
Hell Hath No Fury
Hellcat Records

Countering the retro-sound of Lauren Harris and Hydrogyn reviewed above, Civet is a hardy dose of punk rock that is still smoking hours after you play it. A truly stellar rock record that’s current with the times, Hell Hath No Fury is played well, sung well and produced by the sonic duo of Howard Willing and Linda Perry understudy, Julian Raymond. The feisty all-girl quartet hail from Orange County, California and deliver their fifth record with 13-cuts of chest-pounding enthusiasm that leaves the listener, quite literally, breathless. Like the Donnas on steroids, Civet has the knack for writing catchy punk songs that get the mosh-pit jumping. Two of the record’s tracks were posted on the band’s MySpace page that gave us an early taste of what we had in store. “Son of a Bitch” and “Hell Hath No Fury” are cranked up rockers that borrow from the Runaways, Motörhead and the Mistfits. Just under three minutes, they rain down a cascading wall of guitars onto a bludgeoning rhythm section with alley cat harmonies and a hellion attitude.

Rancid main-man Tim Armstrong helps out on standout track “All I Want” giving it that bebop Ramones chant. Their gang mentality rings in the lyrics, “We’ve been through every thing / We’ll be sisters to the end / What’s broken we can mend. Boys will come and boys will go – just like streetcars.” Hard rock crosses over into old school thrash metal in “Alibis” the toughest track on the disc with the unforgettable chorus, “Breakin’ hearts and tellin’ lies.” The bass-fueled “Pay Up,” “Take Me Away” and “Gin and Tonic” prove the chicks dig a big steady beat with lots of muscle in the drums. Break-neck guitars wreak havoc as the songs get more compact, with even the one-minute, thirty second “Bad Luck” going off like a powder keg. After eight years on the road they deserve a good road song and “Brooklyn” is just the ticket. With its frantic guitars, barreling drums and a soul-scorching voice, it paints the perfect picture of life on the highway. From the groove of “1989” to the all out attack of “Sin City,” Civet may just have delivered their best yet.

Website: Civet, Hellcat Records

GUITAR PETE
Mean Streets
Grooveyard Records

Guitar Pete is one of the ultimate electric blues shredders to step out from New York’s smoky club scene. Within six months of picking up the guitar in high school he was playing topless bars and considered one of the best players on the circuit. After school he drifted from New York to Memphis, released three heavy metal records as Guitar Pete’s Axe Attack and signed a deal with Giant records with his Guns and Roses-styled band Snakeyed Su. His first solo release, Burning Bridges (1998) did exactly that as he cut his ties from Heavy Metal to concentrate on his hard-hitting electric blues. The record featured a rip-roaring version of “Mustang Sally” and his tribute to big-bottom girls in the swampy “Jellyfish.” The disc now sells for an amazing $150 on eBay. New disc, Mean Streets revolves around everything from Southern-fried Bayou rock to Flowers of Evil Mountain and State of Shock-era Nugent. Pete plays his guitar upside down and backwards, literally, and for a white boy, his voice could easily be mistaken for an aged Willie Dixon or Muddy Waters.

Standout cuts include the Elmore James-infused “Fire and Rain,” the Zeppelin-esque “Found Guilty” and the ball-busting scorcher “A Long Way Down.” Together with his rhythm section of Mitch Haft (bass) and Anthony Bernardo (drums), Pete rocks up each song with unharnessed passion like a young Gary Moore. It’s interesting how a couple tracks flash back to Pete’s early influences like the Steve Miller meets Zakk Wylde “One Foot in the Grave” where the guitar is both melodic and untamed. Then there is the outlaw biker “Rock Bottom” (not to be confused with the UFO classic) with its catchy lyrics that sound like a mixture of Whitesnake and Waylon Jennings. Pete’s gruff-voice sings, “I’ve been knocked down and I’ve been cheated / I’ve been lied to and I’ve been mistreated,” over a pounding bass. The old Fleetwood Mac “One Sunny Day” (written by Danny Kirkwan) is a bit of a surprise but once in the hands of this power trio gets a full workup that sounds very little like the original. Its edgy, thick riff is still there but it wails like a banshee. Killer disc with unbelievable star potential!

Website: Grooveyard Records

BLUESTONE COMPANY
Supernatural Delight
Grooveyard Records

About a year a go we got a hold of Bluestone Company’s debut and gave it quite a rave for their surprisingly authentic southern-rock blues. For a born-and-bred Japanese four-piece, that’s quite an accomplishment. Supernatural Delight is the instrumental band’s second release and features 10 tracks of stunning guitar-driven blues. Each track stretches out into five-minute plus jams that allow the songs to achieve their ultimate form, which is as inspiring, textured and legitimate as their US contemporaries the Allman Brothers or Gov’t Mule. Led by Toshihiro Sumitomo (whom many consider the Warren Haynes of Japan) the band unleash a cosmic array of sonic fusion right from the get go with intro piece “S.S.S.” where bassist Yoshihiro Ogasahara duels off with Toshi for the spotlight. Next, skip right to “Electric Rainbow” and listen to the tone of the guitar as it saddles the line between jazz and blues chugging rhythmically into sweeping solos that allow the drum to erupt underneath a furnace of molten guitar.

Ramping up the energy of the set is the Satriani-styled “Got Your Spell On Me” which races along to drummer Taizo Takafuji’s funky beat at breakneck speed. The song builds slowly into a “Surfing With The Alien”-type groove then grinds into a salsa sway. Other songs are more traditional like the slower, atmospheric “Some of Yesterday” that intertwines bass and Taro Takagi’s percussion into a soothing beat while the guitar glides along making use of both picking style and rhythm harmonies. At the end of this seven-minute opus it plows straight into a frantic jam session that is just as bewildering as it is intoxicating. Dobro led “Desert Blues” snakes through a series of moods from Native American drumming to the unique sound of the shamisen (traditional Japanese guitar). Down and dirty “Real Gate” and the rambunctious “Colonel Panic” stick to a typical four-four time signature with jazzier percussion while “Stomp” and “Rubber Necking” hail the spirit of funk hard rock for a thrill ride through a succession of instrumental workouts.

Website: Grooveyard Records

GROUNDHOGS
Live At the Astoria 1998 (DVD & CD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Most of America has no idea who the Groundhogs are or the enormous imprint they left on blues-based rock. Formed at the height of the British Blues boom in the mid-Sixties, the London-based trio earned their chops backing blues legends John Lee Hooker and Champion Jack Dupree. Singer / guitarist Tony McPhee, bassist Peter Cruickshank and drummer Ken Pustelnik released a number of blues-oriented records that stretched and twisted the genre with some unexpected results. Through the late Sixties and early Seventies they put three records on the British charts (Blues Obituary - 1969, Thank Christ For The Bomb – 1970, and Split – 1971) each one drifting closer to power rock and in 1971-2 they supported the Rolling Stones at the personal request of Mick Jagger. Critically acclaimed Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs, saw the band adding progressive elements which including the use of mellotron and harmonium. One complaint critics did have were the group’s use of lengthy, extended riffs and wondering passages - however fans favored such moments knitting them into fabric of the band’s legacy.

These days only Tony (TS) McPhee keeps the band’s flag flying (for a time Cruickshank and Pustelnik toured under the name The Groundhogs Rhythm Section). This 81-minute DVD, Live at the Astoria, is the first of its kind for the band who, in 1998 were touring in support of Hog’s in Wolf’s Clothing, a tribute to Howlin’ Wolf. The set is book ended by Wolf’s “Shake for Me” and a spirited version of “Down in the Bottom.” Bassist Eric Chipulina and drummer Pete Correa flush out the three-piece in a dizzying array of Hog classics that include “Still a Fool” from their first record Scratching the Surface (1967) to the Delta-soaked “Mistreated” and live favorite “Groundhog Blues.” In the introduction segment McPhee claims to have “gotten the flu a couple days before the gig” but any sign of fatigue has all but vanished. TS ain’t the best singer but neither were a lot of the old bluesmen, yet his guitar playing and vocal inflection pack a big punch especially when he winds up with a hair-raising version of “Eccentric Man” or stretches out in the Hogwash masterpiece “3744 James Road,” complete with psychedelic lighting and video trickery.

Much like Cream, the Groundhogs enjoyed the inclusion of 12-bar blues shuffles mixed with mind-bending leads. The Muddy Water classic “I Want You to Love Me” always a hit when they play it live has McPhee bending and pulling each note for maximum distortion then follows with two out of the four part “Split” masterwork. “Cherry Red” from the same disc appears later in the set shedding light on how close the band came to Zeppelin-like grooves. The drummer killer “Mistreated” from 1969’s Blues Obituary has McPhee grinding out power-chords one after another while drummer Correa tries to keep pace. It must be noted that bassist Chipulina is an admirable in-the-pocket player, sparring dangerously with the guitarist and pushing to get himself heard while still holding tight with the drum beat. Having seen the band live, “Groundhog Blues” is one of the more exciting moments of the show. Here it is a memorable treat complete with McPhee’s unique slide technique bouncing off the band’s energetic backbeat. The DVD is complimented by a 78-minute CD of the same show.

Website; Eagle Rock Entertainment, Groundhogs

GARY MOORE
Bad for You Baby
Eagle Rock Entertainment

After nearly twenty years since his switch from rock to blues, Irish-born guitarist Gary Moore delivers his tenth electric blues record and 31st overall. Having paid his dues in bands like Skid Row and Thin Lizzy, Moore has decided to spend his retirement years as an elder statesman of the blues. The guitarist has a gruff almost dirty tonal approach to the genre - more in line with Leslie West than Eric Clapton. So, what does Bad for You Baby offer that’s unique or different? The record is solid enough with masterful arrangements, exquisite quality and the man’s distinct voice. It adds nicely to his catalog moving from strength to strength but the secret ingredient here is the collaboration between engineer/mixer Greg Jackman and Moore himself. Jackman, whose credits triple Moore’s and include best sellers by Seal, Queen and Yes, pull a genuine honest performance from the musician and focuses on mood more than just 12-bar mimicking.

It all comes to light in the urgent Muddy Water covers, “Walkin’ Thru the Park” and “Someday Baby,” both fiery in nature and supported by Vic Martin’s keyboard accents. The solos are particularly singular to Moore’s traditional playing, mean and razor sharp. Digging up the underrated JB Lenoir tune, “Mojo Boogie” shows a depth for research and a passion for boogie. Covered by Johnny Winter it becomes a ZZ Top ball-buster in the hands of Moore. Whereas, the haunting Blood Sweat and Tears ballad, “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” is one of the true highlights in Moore’s repertoire as both guitar and voice weep in unison. Banjo extraordinaire Otis Taylor lends a hand on the Moore original, “Preaching Man Blues” adding flavor to one of the better lyrical compositions on the record. The covers huddle toward the center of the disc while Moore’s skill as a writer bookend the eleven tracks. Favorites, “Bad for You Baby,” “Down the Line” and “Trouble Ain’t Far Behind” prove he can easily best the younger competition while celebrating his roots.

Website: Gary Moore, Eagle Rock Entertainment

LAZERWOLFS
La Bruja
Independent Release

Outta the mountains of Montana comes the cry of the wolf and it’s in the form of La Bruja (Spanish for “The Witch”). For their fifth release, bassist Chris La Tray, guitarist Jimmy Rolle and drummer Bubba Warne fine-tune their brand of outlaw biker rock into a sonically structured battering ram. Hook-laden riffs fill the room as tracks like “All Together Now,” “Burn Like I Do” and “The Pugilist” bulldoze their way into your brain. Part Motörhead, part AC/DC with a lethal dose of three-chord punk is what sets this trio apart from the pack. Most of their songs come out swinging like a fist-to-cuffs with Nashville Pussy. There’s “The Deed Will Be Done” with it’s pounding drum beat and Fu Manchu guitar fuzz while La Tray spins a tale with an evil wail singing, “She has a way with the devil.” It’s enough to make your bones shiver. No shortage of solo’s either just the way rock was meant to be played and ya gotta love a band who’s hardest rocker is a song called “The Butterfly.”

“Martyr” hails the band’s legacy as stoner rock kings with the fat-ass bass groove of doom. The guitars are so distorted and the drumming so heavy the speakers almost fall from the wall. The chugging combination begs for more volume and as it teeters on the verge of complete obliteration it slows to a mind-blowing snail’s pace that fries the wires. Guitar showcase “It Costs A Lot” glorifies the open cord by stretching the rhythmic melody with an overdose of feedback. La Tray’s bass is as lethal as an caged rattler while his voice spews the venomous anthem for the underdog, “it costs a lot to be a man…get in step or step aside…well maybe I don’t want to play that game.” Grinders “Bloodbath” and “Jack O’ The Green” steel their bludgeoning effect from Sabbath and Soundgarden with an accelerated hypnotic effect while “Drawing Down The Moon” embraces a peyote psychedelic trip.

Website: Lazerwolfs

ROADSAW
See You in Hell
Small Stone Records

We’ve been stewing on this record for a couple weeks now and must admit Roadsaw have hit on what can only be described as the most formidable representation of their bone-crushing sound yet. True, 2002’s Rawk and Roll was a near classic but then the band disintegrated and for awhile looked doomed to the history books. Six years later the unthinkable happened and all Boston rejoiced as Roadsaw announced their return with their fourth slab of wax. The first word that comes to mind when listening to See You in Hell is balance. From the organ-lace keyboard “Intro” to the fuzzed out tornado that is “It’s Your Move,” the Massachusetts five-piece combine elements of Tool, Soundgarden and Fu Manchu with great attention to composition and sequencing. Going all the way back to their early beginnings in the mid-90’s See You In Hell is less punk-driven and more soul defining while still holding on to a big guitar punch. “Who Do You Think You Are” and the southern-tinged “Leavin” will rattle your brain, but listening to the acoustic desert echoing of “Dead Horse” shows the band still hold fast to their Sky Valley Kyuss worship.

The elegance of mood-setting “Receive” would have sounded out of place on the group’s 1998 biker-meets-trucker opus Nationwide but here, conjures up reverence for the unearthly tones of Uriah Heep, Hawkwind and early Sabbath. Originators bassist Tim Catz, vocalist Craig Riggs and guitarist Darryl Shepard hold the band to a high musical standard which climaxes with the pummeling “Look Pretty Lonely.” The track is catchy, intensely heavy and focused on the groove with Riggs doing his best Chris Cornell. Not to be outdone comes the roar of “Go It Alone” with Shepard and second guitarist Ian Ross peeling off one blistering riff after another. The fuse of evil power chords mixed with the a mega-ton rhythmic dirge sells “The Rules” as classic 70s rock and when they through in a bit of creepy pipe organ you have the title track “See You In Hell”. It’s easy to see why these guys are celebrated among the motor-stoner crowd when “Up To You” leaves beads of sweat dripping from your speakers. If you still believe in rawk, buy this mother.

Website: Roadsaw, Small Stone Records