Category Archives: Riffs

Growing up, Giving in: Pile – “A Hairshirt of Purpose”

There were a variety of reasons I didn’t intend to write about this album. Primarily that this album was extremely estranged from what I usually post here but also because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the whole thing. However, during a bleary-eyed drive home this album hammered a spike through my heart and dragged my fingers to the keyboard to put something up.

Pile are a long running band from Boston. “A Hairshirt of Purpose” is their 6th full-length. As foreign as it feels to type these words, this album is beautiful. No blistering adjectives or quirky turns of phrase are going to get around the fact that I have no better way to describe it.

The compositions and pacing are so far removed from the majority of my listening that it took me several spins for this album to really break in. Suffice it to say, this is not an album I would have ever tolerated before and is easily one of the biggest watermarks I have for my shifting tastes.

A combination of emotional, off-kilter indie rock with portions from math, noise and the slightest hint of hardcore. This is a band that is perfectly adept at emotionally vivisecting you in one moment (“worms”/”leaning on a wheel”/”dogs”) and bowling you over with educated burl the next (“Texas”/”hairshirt”/”fingers”). A skillfull manipulation of your psyche that will have your head both hanging and banging.

The album is suffused with a sort of bleak hopefulness, like hints of sun after weeks of gray, even though you know for damn sure the weatherman said you can expect weeks more of the same. It’s not an album I’ll spin casually, nor one where I would listen to tracks on shuffle. For me this is a complete effort that once started, must be finished.

$10 on Bandcamp.


Seven Inch Shuffle: TV Crime and Cold Meat

I get an extra hour of daylight savings. You get an extra post.

TV Crime – “Clocking in/Clocking out”

I had found these guys after researching the label that released the Tyrannamen LP and digging through their other releases. This led me to the Nottingham-based band TV Crime and their (relatively) newest 7″, “Clocking in/Clocking out”.

For whatever reason I’ve had a big hankering for simple, catchy rock, played off the cuff with all the little imperfections included. The kind of stuff that’s genuinely fun to listen to and doesn’t require a monolith of Marshalls to get the point across. “Clocking in” and “Clocking out” fall neatly in that category, as two simple, well written and rockin’ tunes.

Rowdy, loose and danceable. It’s not rocket science, just rock ‘n’ roll. 2 GBP on Bandcamp.

Cold Meat – “Pork Sword Fever”

Next up is a random stumble that sunk its fangs in and just wouldn’t let go. “Pork Sword Fever” will be the newest 7″ from Perth’s Cold Meat, hitting the streets on December 1st. Two tracks have been released in anticipation, “Nice Girls” and “Maternity Stomp”.

A slap in the face of snotty classic punk, pulling heavily from the early giants of the genre, blended with modern indignation and aggression. Screeching vocals and skronky riffs that violently lurch through the speakers like Frankenstein’s monster on a speed binge. There’s spit on the stage and a snarl frozen in place above the black leather jacket.

December 1st, 2017 you can check the whole thing out, until then get a taste below.

Stagecoach? More like SLOWCOACH(ES)

Before we get started. I apologise for the title. But not really, because I’m writing this apology instead of thinking of another title. Moving on.

SLOWCOACHES are a three-piece garage band from London. They released the LP I’m listening too (pretty sure it’s the first) in December of 2016. The LP is “Nothing Gives” and hot damn, is it some catchy shit.

Buzzy, powerful and melodic bangers that are as hard charging as they are infectious. Distortion and frenetic strumming design to dig the deepest trench in your grey matter it can. A mosh pit soundtrack sure, but like one of those fun pits where nobody’s out to flex their karate chops or mash you into the floor. Animosity and vengeance free.

I can’t claim that this is an album I haven’t heard in some form or another before but I can claim that this is one of the best played and written I’ve heard in recent memory. Fun, fast and catchy, the original trinity of rock ‘n’ roll.

8 GBP on Bandcamp.

Better Late Than Never: Black Breath – “Slaves Beyond Death”

When I first heard the 2012 release from Seattle’s Black Breath, “Sentenced to Life”, I couldn’t get enough. I’d never heard of Entombed at that point and was floored by the grizzly riffs, knuckle-dragging solos and general bad-assery on display. I jocked that album regularly for a long time and still have it in my rotation today.

More than a year ago I heard about their next album, “Slaves Beyond Death”, wrote down the release date on a sticky note and promptly forgot about it. I’ve seen that sticky note pretty much every day for the last year and for whatever reason, decided to do something about it today.

Tell let me you, this album facking shreds. The lizard-brain grooves and hair-flailing riffs are back in full form, with the blades sharpened and tips poisoned. It’s a sonic distilled headbanging serum, like the adrenaline syringe from Pulp Fiction but for riffs.

Uncomplicated, crazy fun death metal, the soundtrack to the crushing of your enemies, with backing vocals from the lamentations of their women.

Desert-pop: LA Witch

Aimless browsing of the Bandcamp front page has brought me to bands that would have flown under my radar otherwise, such as today’s topic, LA Witch.

A California-based trio that released their debut LP in September, LA Witch play a laid-back, vague type of garage rock that places heavy emphasis on distortion and free-range riffs. Their music is a soundtrack to shuffling steps and swaying in place, bloodshot eyes staring down a merciless sun, while the soles of your shoes bond with the smoking asphalt.

A blend of mellow drawls, languid bass lines and 6 string twangs that ultimately just sounds cool. From the hints of rockabilly on “Untitled” to the punk-driven rhythms of “Drive Your Car”, LA Witch bring all their influences together with a coheisve flair that makes the 9-track LP cruise by.

Find them on Bandcamp or on tour through North America in the coming months.

Disciples of DOOM: Battle Hag & Owlcrusher

Tonight we got us a couple of disciples of the mortuary march, the graveyard grovel, the motherfucking DOOM WORSHIP. Your head bangs slow, eyes watering from the smoke, head reeling from the fumes.

Battle Hag – “Tongue of the Earth”

First up we got Battle Hag hailing from Sacramento, California. These guys were founded in 2012 and released their newest album, “Tongue of the Earth”, in May of this year. Their doom is heavily tainted with the resin of the Hasheeshian temple, with the kind of blacked-out groove that will have your unwashed hair flailing all night long.

Five tracks with just over an hour of run time, each riff is given time to breathe, expanding out like a tsunami of distortion before crashing headlong into the next thundering tremor. Classic hesher shit, raise those beers and bang those heads for $5 on Bandcamp.

Owlcrusher – “Owlcrusher”

Next comes the disgusting power trio of Owlcrusher from Banbridge in the UK. Formed in 2008, their newest was released in July. In contrast to the hasher grooves of Battle Hag, Owlcrusher take the left hand path, puking out a lurching leviathan of guttural guitar tones and tortured screams. Their sound reminds me a lot of Cult of Occult, a band I have always held a crusty spot for.

Nasty, snarling and pulverizing, conjuring images of rivers of puss, satanic vivisections and colossal underground caverns where the flickering lights illuminate the writhing tentacles of the beings from beyond. The deluxe pre-order LP comes bound in human skin but you can get this without the demonic juju for 5 GBP on Bandcamp.

Acid, not meth: Wayfaring Strangers – “Acid Nightmares”

“…The Menace is loose again, the Hell’s Angels, the hundred-carat headline, running fast and loud on the early morning freeway, low in the saddle, nobody smiles, jamming crazy through traffic and ninety miles an hour down the center stripe, missing by inches…like Genghis Khan on an iron horse, a monster steed with a fiery anus, flat out through the eye of a beer can and up your daughter’s leg with no quarter asked and non given; show the squares some class, give em a whiff of those kicks they’ll never know…” –  Hunter S. Thompson

When there’s so many cultural changes through a period of time, like the late 1960’s to early 1970’s, often only the major players will be remembered with thousands of others left by the wayside. However, among those hordes of forgotten might be some of the best material.

That seems to be the driving force behind the record label/archeology company called the Numero Group. Founded in 2003, they have dedicated themselves to releasing compilations of the deepest, darkest B sides to be found among the curated back rooms of record stores the world over. Wayfaring Strangers is their series of compilations dedicated to early folk and rock ‘n’ roll, which just released the subject of today’s praise, “Acid Nightmares”.

An 18 track compilation dedicated to the primordial metal and hard rock that was being gestated during the late 1960’s. The hippie movement was coming down hard and the mellow optimism that characterized the early years of the 60’s was getting trampled underneath the hobnailed boots of the Man. The Flower Children are dead, long live the Flower Children.

This is my quick aside to praise that goddamn masterpiece of pop-psycho art provided by Benjamin Marra. I fuckin’ love it and will be trying to track down the double LP vinyl release more for that jacket than the records.

Honestly, 2017 had been a bit of a slow musical year for me. While there’s been a couple of albums that I’ve been getting into, there hadn’t really been much that broke the door down and passed out on the kitchen floor, until I listened to “Acid Nightmares”. This comp is fucking amazing. If you are any kind of fan of rock n roll; classic, stoner, indie, punk, metal, psych, garage, whatever – you owe it to yourself to give this a listen.

Is every track on this comp a classic? No. It’s loose, raw and a little unhinged. It’s a thousand different bands keeping the operators busy with noise complaints all night long. What some of these bands may have lacked in technical proficiency, they more than made up for with raw enthusiasm and energy.

There isn’t a single track on here that I didn’t enjoy. I’m on my third listen in as many days and haven’t got tired yet. The soulful lament of addiction on “Hooked”, the gnarly tones on “Dark Dawn”, the dankest of riffs on “Grave Digger” or the wacked out psych growls of “Dooms Day”, there is so much good shit here.

It’s up for $10 on Bandcamp. I’m also going to start digging into all the other stuff the Numero Group have put out, as you should too. Get some!

Rapid Fire Round Up: Lady Flint, The Phosphorous Bombs & Sun Q

Rapid Fire Round Up is dedicated to not being a scumbag and giving a shoutout to all those bands whose emails have been rotting in my catacombs inbox.

Lady Flint – “All Moves Are Vain”

Lady Flint are a French garage rock duo whose debut I talked about way back in 2014. They have since released their third album, “All Moves Are Vain” in February of this year. 4 more tracks of well constructed blues/garage rock with classic vibes and big grooves. Stripped back a well executed, just the way it should be.

Top Track: “Short Fuse”

The Phosphorous Bombs – “Cancers”

Another excellent Aussie export, I got pointed towards the up-tempo skate punk of The Phosphorous Bombs through one of their members who used to be part of the Jesus Christ Posse. A wicked quick blast of early 90’s punk styled after OGs of the genre like NOFX, Bad Religion, Propagandhi et al, “Cancers” is their newest album, released in July. Building on their first two releases they crank out another 12 tracks of shotgunned RedBull and parking lot kickflips.

Sun Q – “Charms”

Sun Q is a psychedelic/garage band hailing from Russia. They’ve been releasing music in bits and pieces for the last couple years and “Charms” is the first full length culmination of their efforts. Catchy and melodic with a powerful frontwoman and dialed rhythm section, they’re a band punching way above their weight class and could have themselves a very bright future.

MMOSS – “i”

Here’s another album I’ve been listening to for months but have neglected to put something up about it.

MMOSS are a long-defunct psych band from New Hampshire. I’m not sure of the history or timeline of the band but they have two albums on Bandcamp, 2012’s “Only Children” and the one I’ve been listening to, “i” from 2011.

In recent years the revival of classic hard rock has been huge, with tons of bands throwing back to an older sound of riff driven biker (stoner) rock. Long hair, denim suits, cheap beer and loud rawk.

However, while the vintage burl has been getting its time in the spotlight, what I haven’t seen is the same amount of energy being put into throwbacks to the slightly older, psychedelic sounds of the 60’s. Real hippy shit, with complicated strings, tangential jams and weird ambient interludes. I thought this style was getting ignored, that is until I found MMOSS.

Authenticity in throwback music is a tricky thing to get right, it’s easy to hit all the right sounds but if you don’t manage to get the vibe right then you just end up with a cheap copy. I am totally comfortable saying that MMOSS are one of the most legit throwback bands I’ve ever heard. Listening to their album for the first time was like finding a random album from the 60’s in the bargain bin at the record store. Give it to me blind and ask me the decade and I’d be at a loss.

Tricky melodies, charismatic instrumentals and oh so many ambient interludes. They even have a flautist. There’s legit and then there’s a damn flute. Seriously though, I love this album and it has lulled me to sleep on more than one occasion (not a bad thing). It’s a beautifully played album that perfectly captures the feeling from 50-odd years ago.

Oh Fuck Yeah: Homewrecker – “Extinction By Design”

Had this album for a couple weeks but kept forgetting to put something up about it. Let’s fix that.

I investigated this album based only on how classically gnarly the album cover was. It looked like some unpretentious heavy shit and goddamn, did Homewrecker not disappoint. Formed in 2008 and hailing from Ohio, they released their newest EP “Extinction by Design” in October of last year.

Meaty riffs, brutal solos, biker man-shout vocals, SHREDDING. It’s all there man, everything you need to top off lead sandwhich and fuckin’ rowdy. The EP covers 4 tracks that take up the right amount of time and never stick around long enough to outstay their welcome. Burly, yet efficient.

There’s really no point to wasting more text on this. It’s heavy metal with neck-aching grooves and dope guitar noodling. Its not rocket appliances.