Psychotic Reaction: SUNFLOWERS – Castle Spell

Posted in Riffs with tags , on February 15, 2018 by Ben

It’s been a damn traditional winter up here in the frozen yonder. Steady streams of pecker puckering temperatures and steadily rising snowbanks, coupled with an unhealthy vitamin D deficiency, have made this season a real drag.

So in the spirit of staying sane, warm and generally well adjusted, let’s melt back some of these winter demons with the almighty blowtorch of ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. The blowtorch tonight goes by the name SUNFLOWERS and hails from the substantially warmer locale of Porto, Portugal (12 degrees and partially cloudy tomorrow. Not like I’m bitter).

This band is one of many that was led to my ears via my aimless Bandcamp sojourns. One of these wanders yielded me their previous release, The Intergalactic Guide to Find The Red Cowboy, securing itself a solid rotation through my personal playlist over the last couple months. Now we have the fresh sheen of 10 new tracks to abrade down to a familiar patina through repeat listens and feral earwax.

Castle Spell continues on with the jittery two-step psych rock established on their earlier albums, smacking the formula around a little bit but otherwise staying relatively true to their form of a pizza eatin’, reefer tokin’, mangy lookin’ duo of delinquents. Y’all have a good time sloshing beer around and dancing like you’re in the depths of an ether binge? Y’all will like the album.

Simple, almost rooty, rhythms on the skins are paired with the usual fruity notes of buzzing riffs and vocal reverb. The psych in the garage is given more weight this time around, with looping melodies, whacked-out drones and some decidedly atonal slices. The warbling guitar bender on the back half of “The Siren”, goes on just longer than you think it would, or the hardcore favourite of ear-piercing feedback that closes out “The Maze (Act 1-2)”. It’s the skronky bit in the soup, which is always a risk when the chef is out to fuck with your mind man.

All-in-all it’s a welcome addition to the rapidly swelling ranks of top-notch garage and psych rock that’s been sweeping through bands like reefer madness or the plague of Hell’s Angels. Blast out the winter blues below.


Broken Strings: Buena Vista Social Club & Anthony Bezel

Posted in Not Riffs with tags , , on February 15, 2018 by Ben

While the majority of my time is spent surfing through the varieties of guitar-centric music, occasionally I’ll burst up through the surface, purge my blowhole (a-HA) and snag some tasty morsels floating outside of my comfort zone. Here’s two.

Buena Vista Social Club – S/T

I found this album after randomly watching a documentary of the same name, (obviously) about the making of this 1997 Cuban ensemble album. Apparently, this album was hot shit in the 90’s, with the album winning a Grammy and the documentary I mentioned taking home an academy award.

For music this far out of my regular, scummy circle, I really have no background to ramble on about. It boils down to a gut (ears really) reaction on how I feel about the music in question. In this case, I think it’s a beautiful and subtle album, with exceptional vocals and musicianship. For all that’s worth…

Anthony Bezel – The Events That Follow

I really wasn’t going to post about this album because it’s way the fuck out there for me. Even for the rap I do listen to, this sound is not something I historically had any time for. But like I mentioned above, the gut calls the shots and it was rumbling along something fierce to The Events That Follow.

It’s a local effort with mean flows and some top-shelf production, crisp highs and thoroughly rattling bass. Good shit.

Plastic Genitals: MANNEQUIN PUSSY – Romantic

Posted in Riffs with tags , on February 15, 2018 by Ben

Yes sir, here we are. Where? Thursday.


I could have a more interesting or in-depth reason why I found this band but, I don’t. Quite simply, the words MANNEQUIN PUSSY come hollering outta of the screen like few others. It’s not often that I’ve pondered the smooth, interrupted plastic that graces the crotch of those milky white sentinels of fashion but here we are.

Having reeled me in with their salacious shouting, I perused the tracks on offer from their 2016 album, Romantic, and found myself quite taken by their angst-riddled assault on pop punk. Twitching between syrupy ballads and screeching catharsis, they strike a nerve somewhere between SLOTHRUST and PUNCH (The upper-case band name trio, if you will).  However, instead of trying to blend the ingredients together in each song, this album is full of abrupt delineations between emotions.

The cut from the booted stomp and unhinged howling of “Ten”, to the damn near radio skater boy chorus of “Emotional High” is exceptionally disjointed but not altogether hard on the ears. While track to track might flop between melancholy and anger, from galloping hardcore to fresh-faced pop, the overarching feel of the thing is cohesive enough to make it all work.

The tracks are short, only two have the audacity to stretch beyond the 2-minute mark. Which is a good thing! A barrage of fresh, sharp ideas is better than trying to stretch something out more than it should be, thinning out what could have otherwise been a concise banger into a dreary plastic sheet.

In short (literally), an excellent use of 17 minutes.


COFFIN FUCKING NAILS: Primal Rite – Dirge Of Escapism

Posted in Riffs with tags , on February 12, 2018 by Ben

When an album is able to coax my corpse-in-training to produce a physical reaction, I know that whatever I’m listening to is a cut above the regular fare. Anything from a subtle tap of the foot to a full on flailing exodus from the couch means that the music I’m listening to has subverted the rational part of my brain and plugged itself into the slimy, reptilian nerve certain lurking somewhere in the collection of base impulses.

I first put this album on in my car and through whatever twist of fate, the volume on both my phone and car stereo were notched up higher than usual and once the militant dirge of “Chapter Zero” came barging through my speakers, both volumes got higher still. Ghostly winds, the sharp crack of a snare like snapping a tibula, THAT TONE, MY GOD, THAT RIFF. Fucking hell man, this was getting downright primitive.

This album is blindingly pure in its brutality, troglodyte meathead anthems hammered out with mammoth bone and granite slabs. This isn’t music for a calm, rational discussion of technical merit and artistic contributions to society, more of a deafening assault against restraint and inhibition; flaying through your soft underbelly to strip bare the aggression and fear that has been stunted by centuries of civilisation.

PRIMAL RITE wear their influences proudly, blasting a homage to early hardcore greats through the rotted filter of old school death metal. The aesthetic, tone and patina hark back to the Scandinavian pioneers of doom, while the ferocity, breakneck pace and gang shouts call to mind the fluid pits of flesh that populated the basements, dives and abandoned warehouse of the concrete jungle.

While a more jaded critic might be tempted to sit here and pick holes in Dirge Of Escapism, I am simple man and can proffer no more critical commentary than telling you that every damn track on this album is a banger. These riffs fucking pound (no doubt helped along by the trio of guitarists), the mix is grimy in all the right places, the songwriting is pragmatic and tight, the vocals are a juiced-up drill sergeant from hell and hot damn, I cannot wait to see these guys live.

Honky Tonky: Mainline – Our Home & Native Land

Posted in Riffs with tags , on February 10, 2018 by Ben

Unlike a lot of other bargain bin records I own, I know why I picked this one up. I remember flipping through the bin and having this cover stop me dead. Slack-jawed, so many questions were blazing white-hot through my mind. Burning brightest of all though was the simple curiosity of, “What in the fuck is this gonna sound like?”

Some more clues could be found by flipping the record over and revealing the classical masterpiece of “The Last Supper; Hosers ed.”. Clearly we were in for something, at worst, joke-rock, at best? I dunno if there is a best situation when you’re dealing with a curvy woman who wears a thong over her hip waders…

Get home, fumbling with keys in the lock, rushing inside, with sweaty palms and furtive glances. Draw the curtains, dim the lights and lowering the needle with almost imperceptibly shaking hands yielded…..blues rock?

A rough-hewn cut of backwoods blues rock, up-tempo with a good bit of board-rattlin’, foot-stompin’, HONKY TONKIN’ GOOD TIMES, BUD. Hey man, this shit ain’t bad. While the 70’s were known for big bands and big sounds, here we had the pork chops and potatoes standard; 4 dudes, some guitars, a set of drums and the fierce loyalty to snow, maple and beaver (either the varmint or the other kind, but for this band it was probably both).

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SKRONK: Parliament – “Funky Woman”

Posted in Random Riffage with tags on February 9, 2018 by Ben

I was on my way home, sliding my car along slimy back roads, their coating of bullshit frozen moisture being freshly renewed. My mind was blank, the radio was a background burble, some kind of smooth instrumental.

Red light. Green light. Red light.

Lost in my reverie, I missed the subtle signs; the radio had gone silent. The road was empty. The speakers crackled with the preemptive static of the coming song, a force grabbed my wrist and dragged it to the volume knob, eldritch forces twisting my joints, volume increasing until the car was filled with crushing white noise.


But then; the throaty growl of the Old Gods themselves, the all-encompassing, face-melting, soul-twisting power of FUNK MUSIC reached through the speakers, grabbed my neck and made my head bang clean off my shoulders.

That ladies and gentlemen, that is some fucking gnarly groove.

Spiced Prunes: Quincy Jones, In Conversation

Posted in Awesome Things with tags on February 8, 2018 by Ben

I love the ramblings of the elderly. If you get them riled up just right you unleash a torrent of drama, hilarity, conspiracy theories, back-in-my-day bemoaning and sometimes even legitimate wisdom. My dad is getting up there in years and given the right inputs, you can have yourself hours of amusement from the outputs.

However, a new bar has been set. A new peak has thundered out the Earth’s crust, blotting out the sun and altering the very landscape of geriatric assertions. A recent interview with musical luminary Quincy Jones has been gaining some traction and ho boy, are there some spicy takes in here.

While I wouldn’t dare question the decades-long legacy of this man, I can’t help but go diving for the milk after ingesting some of these extra picante takes;

  • The mob killed JFK.
  • Marlon Brando slept with Marvin Gaye.
  • Hendrix was scared of jazz muscians.
  • The Beatles are hot garbage.
  • Modern music is boiling hot garbage.

There’s a lotta jems spread over the interview, so go on and find your own.

“Rock ain’t nothing but a white version of rhythm and blues, motherfucker.”