Heavy Psych Sounds
Released April 27, 2018
Ruben Romano has a rock and roll pedigree that can stand alongside the very best. As a founding member of both Fu Manchu and Nebula (let that sink in for a second, why don’tcha?), Romano helped draw up the plans and build the framework that stoner rock hangs on to this very day. He’s spent the last decade-plus as frontman and guiding force for L.A. based psych-rockers The Freeks, piloting their trips-‘n’-riffs-fueled funny car further and further into the cosmic realm; their newest dispatch Crazy World (released via the ever-reliable Heavy Psych Sounds) is the sound of the band-in-residency at the Garage at the Edge of the Universe, a jubilantly strident “Fuck You” in the face of oblivion.
Belgian/Dutch power trio RRRags came together a mere eight months ago, but the songs on their self-titled debut sound like the work of a band that’s been at this rock and roll game for years and years. The band’s musical telepathy is remarkably refined, and the songs are both well-crafted and catchy as all hell. They hit hard without ever plodding, emphasizing groove and atmosphere over sheer brute strength and mixing their upbeat stoner vibe with flashes of soul, funk, southern rock, and power pop. RRRags are obviously true believers and lifelong devotees, my friends, and they’ve conjured up a slab of classic rock for the here and now.
Released March 23, 2018
The latest release from Cologne, Germany’s Mouth, the intoxicating Floating, marks the group as one of the most unique and singular in the wide world of retro rock. Like the very best of the genre, they take a pile of classic influences and combine them into something fresh and new and vital. A vibrantly kaleidoscopic blend of prog, pop, krautrock, and psych that pulses and throbs with a bright, crackling electricity, Floating clearly displays the musical telepathy the trio have developed in their near-twenty year existence. The eight songs here offer the full range of sonic experience, intricate structures and full, lush orchestration combining with joyful exuberance and rock-solid musicianship to make Floating one of the most rewarding listens you’ll have this year.
Kosmik Boogie Tribe
We’re Not Here to Fu*k Spiders
Rural Rebel Rock/Tiger Records
Release Date: April 6, 2018
The third release from Norwegian quintet Kosmik Boogie Tribe, We’re Not Here to Fuck Spiders, is an incendiary slab of no-bullshit, gutbucket rock n’ roll. True to its title, it’s not here to fuck around, it’s here to get the job done, and that job just so happens to be whooping your ass. Eight songs in a shade over a half-hour, and it barely slows down to take a breath from sonically punching you repeatedly in the face and gut. No time is wasted on current events or social commentary, or hackneyed relationship analyses or sad-sack treatises on man’s inhumanity to man; instead, the primary themes here seem to be getting fucked up and fucking shit up. Raw-boned and roughly hewn, We’re Not Here to Fuck Spiders is the sound of a band for whom making a record and making a racket are the same damn thing.
Rise Above Records
Release Date: March 30, 2018
Octopus began life in Detroit in 2008, largely as a recording project between vocalist Masha Marjieh and former Electric Six guitarist J Frezzato. After adding keyboardist/studio wizard Adam Cox a year later, the band recorded a few singles and cycled through a few rhythm sections before firmly securing the pocket with ex-Big Chief bassist Matt O’Brien and Seduce/Universal Temple of Divine Power drummer Todd Glass in 2012. The years of experience and familiarity clearly show through on their spellbinding debut full-length Supernatural Alliance (Rise Above); this band is locked in tight, and these ten songs are honed sharp enough to slice. It’s a slab of heavy-hitting hard rock, spiked liberally with equal doses of sci-fi and psychedelia, the perfect soundtrack to an imaginary big-budget flick about outlaw bikers in outer space.
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Since their now-infamous 1989 demo recordings Forget About Life, I’m High on Dope and I’m Stoned, What Ya Gonna Do About It? found their way into the bloodstream of the heavy music community, nobody’s been able to pull off the whole “acid-sleaze space-rock” thing quite like New Jersey’s Monster Magnet. From the thick, lysergic swirl of Spine of God, to the revved-up MC5-meets-Hawkwind riffing of Dopes to Infinity, to the stoner-arena crossover hit Powertrip, Magnet mainman Dave Wyndorf has expertly piloted his sleek silver machine through an asteroid belt of lineup changes and health scares, substance abuse and public opinion, emerging as something of a stoner rock elder statesman. On Mindfucker, the band’s first album of original material since 2013’s Last Patrol, Wyndorf and his slam-bang gang of hellraisers throw down the gauntlet with a tough, terse set of trippy rockers that prove they’re still well in consideration for the title of Baddest Cats Around.
Made in Milan
Frontiers Music s.r.l.
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Recorded April 30, 2017 at the Frontiers Rock Festival, Made in Milan documents a then freshly-reunited Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns leading their (finally and thankfully!) unified versions of L.A. Guns through a rip-roaring, rough-and-tumble set of crowd-pleasers and deeper cuts for the diehards. It’s a monument to the undeniable chemistry between the vocalist and the guitarist; they wasted an awful lot of time sniping and grousing over the past decade-plus, and from the powerful racket they conjured and captured that spring evening, it seems like they’re doing their damnedest to make up for lost time.
Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: March 16, 2018
It’s been more than four years since the last Earthless album, the mammoth double LP From the Ages, and to say things are a little different now would be an understatement. Since the 2005 release of their debut album Sonic Prayer, the San Diego power trio have built their reputation on a repertoire of expansive, instrumental psych-rock explorations, side-long, many-movement mindfucks that split the difference between Amon Düül II and Black Sabbath. Black Heaven, their latest effort (and first under the Nuclear Blast banner), is a leaner, meaner affair that’s way more James Gang than Flower Travellin’ Band. The songwriting and structures have been tightened up and whittled down (the longest song on Black Heaven is slightly less than nine minutes, which for Earthless is practically a pop single), based more on refined guitar riffs than semi-improvised rhythm section interplay and trimmed of a lot of hallucinogenic fat. Perhaps most jarring for longtime listeners will be the introduction of the human voice into the Earthless equation; four of Black Heaven’s six tracks feature guitarist Isaiah Mitchell stepping into the vocal spotlight. Doubters and worrywarts can relax and unclench, though; this is still Earthless through and through, plenty trippy, plenty heavy, and more than capable of levelling even the most hardened of psychic warriors.
Release Date: March 2, 2018
Recorded nearly four decades ago at a Texas community college and unreleased until now, Spiny Normen is a raw but robust chunk of primo psych-prog, a skunky blend of hard rock and krautrock caked in a hallucinogenic patina. Rescued from collector’s-shelf obscurity by RidingEasy label head Daniel Hall and Permanent Records owner Lance Barresi for inclusion in their ongoing (and highly recommended) Brown Acid anthology series, it stands up both as a fascinating relic of its era and as a kick-ass rock and roll record that’s both of and ahead of its time.
Clone of the Universe
At the Dojo Records
Release Date: February 9, 2018
Southern California fuzz mavens Fu Manchu may be the closest thing stoner rock has to an institution. Since 1990, honcho Scott Hill and his bandmates have been cranking out high-octane, revved-up power rock that’s served as a veritable musical template for countless heshmongers and bongrattlers that have followed in their skunky wake. And not unlike their fellow institutions The Ramones and AC/DC, since song one/side one of their debut album Fu Manchu have by and large stuck to the strengths that brought them to the dance in the first place: solid, steady grooves, razor-sharp hooks, and riff after riff after motherfucking riff, three miles thick and stacked on top of each other straight up into the sky. Their first release since 2014, Clone of the Universe (released via the band’s own At the Dojo Records), mostly hews to their tried-and-true practices, but with just enough twists and tweaks to avoid repetition and fatigue. The time signatures and song structures skew a little more prog than normal (in one instance, a lot more), and lyrically and thematically they’ve swapped out skateboards for starcruisers, but it’s really just a different picture airbrushed on the side of the tricked-out Fu Manchu custom van.