Tour dates are changing rapidly for this year. We will keep updating information as it becomes available. Many of these events are migrating to the Fall.
Veteran stoner/fuzz bluesists deliver the goods on their latest, Love Like Machines.
On their Bandcamp page, the band describes their music this way: psychedelic blues rock from the delta that sounds similar to a skeleton driving a speed boat on a flaming Mississippi River headed back to 1969. I can buy it. I have a tendency to think of anything remotely doomy as desert music, but I can hear the river in this, and I can smell the swamp from here. Love Like Machines is the band’s fourth full-length studio album, and they get stronger with every new set.
The album starts off with the beautiful, poetic “Anabasis” – a quiet acoustic intro and exit together hold in a rumbling thunder of softly growling guitars. It is an aperitif. The next song, “Made for the Age,” launches with a piercing, probing rhythm shot that rolls into a steady hard-driving rocker with a convincing lead break. And there is no looking back after that – next is my favorite song of the set, “Hand of Bear.” It has a Clutch catchiness with a heavier vibe and with more distortion and fuzz. The title of the album comes from the song, “Late Night,” where we find out what love like machines means (I’ll let you discover that on your own). Another stand out track is “God Damn Wolf Man” with even more hooky guitars, raw lead work, and memorable lyrics:
Well god damn the Wolf Man/look what you made me do/I guess your hatred and your vitriol/finally got the best of you
Well fuck yeah Dr. Frankenstein/that what you want me to say?/’cause you are so much worse in your heart of hearts/than the monsters you create
Well calm down Count Dracula/and get your money all made/and I’ll do my best not to let you down/but I can’t work for free
The back catalogue of the band is excellent, and you should take a streaming dive into it at your earliest opportunity. I have favorites reaching back to their first album, but I have to say I do like this new one best overall. It is a heavy dose of the Cure For What Ails You all the way through. Recommended.
Love Like Machines is out March 27, 2020 at all the usual places, plus a limited CD and vinyl release from Kozmik Artifactz (link below). The band has a few live dates listed on their Facebook page, notably Stoned and Dusted at Pappy & Harriet’s in May (assuming we are all back in the world again by then).
Kozmik Artifactz, https://kozmik-artifactz.com/
I was thinking about my earliest music influences as I sat down to write this. the first record I ever bought was Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog. Wow, did that open my eyes. I had never heard anything like Dan McCafferty’s voice, and the heavy guitars went straight to the center of my brain. I don’t know how many times I listened to the record, but it had to be over a hundred. Incidentally, the only reason I picked this particular album was because of the cover painting, which was very cool. This was the 1970s, and there was no internet, no digital music services. What we had then was record stores, and you went in, walked through the aisles, and looked at the covers.
What came next? I remember vividly, the next three albums I bought were Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, Alice Cooper’s Killer, and Blue Öyster Cult’s Tyranny and Mutation. All classic, iconic releases, but at the time (mid-to-late 1970s), they were fairly recent releases and none were mainstream breakthroughs. I wasn’t reading music magazines then and I landed on these by accident mostly, but I couldn’t have had better primers for heavy music. I still listen to these four albums on the regular. I know all the songs by heart, all the guitar parts, every bit of them, and music never wears out. Whenever something new comes out by any of these bands I always buy it, even if it is a remaster or live recording that ends up sounding a lot like another live recording I already have. Which brings me to the 40th anniversary release of Blue Öyster Cult’s biggest selling album Agents of Fortune in a completely different format.
The cover reads “40th Anniversary Agents of Fortune Live 2016,” which makes you think it is a concert recording. Not quite. It was actually recorded live in a studio in Los Angeles for broadcast on a music network. So this is a video of the band playing Agents of Fortune in a studio. I was not expecting that. The other thing I was not expecting is that it isn’t quite the entire Agents of Fortune album, either – there is an audio-only live version of “This Ain’t the Summer of Love” which, for some reason, is not part of the video set. Odd, that. And who is playing? The core members of the band who remain with us are there, with Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and Eric Bloom in on the entire set. Albert Bouchard steps in for several songs, and the rest of the band is made up of Richie Castellano, Kasim Sulton, and Jules Radino. Once I settled down into the idea of what I was seeing, it all came together for me and I enjoyed the show. The band does not sound exactly like it did forty years ago, of course, but the performance is good and it is great to see this set of songs played together in order.
This is a Blu Ray release (there is a version with a CD, too), and it is pretty short because it is limited to Agents of Fortune front to back (mostly). The only extra worth noting is a short interview (about 20 minutes) with the three principals. There is also that audio version of the missing song, and it does not stand up as well as the video version of the rest of the set. Still, in the interest of completeness, it is nice to have on the disc.
Blue Öyster Cult is touring, and notably they are one of the headliners at this year’s Psycho Las Vegas. The band has also announced they are working on new music, so look for an upcoming studio release. If you are a Blue Öyster Cult fan, you’ve got to get this new incarnation of Agents of Fortune. Don’t wait too long, though, because it is already getting a little bit hard to find.
Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php
Psycho Las Vegas, https://www.vivapsycho.com/
Ozzy is back.
The lead banger on the new set starts in iconic Ozzy fashion: “All right, now!” Fast-paced with thundering Duff McKagan bass lines and crushing, soaring guitar work by Slash, “Straight To Hell” is exactly what I wanted to hear from the latest in the Osbourne canon. Ozzy has had such a long and storied career, creating actual classics in heavy music time and again, it is natural to wonder whether this new one, many years after his last studio release, would it have a big punch. Would it be over-produced? Would it be rushed? How would Ozzy sound? We can kick all our worries off a cliff because Ordinary Man is a big hard rocker that surpasses expectations.
The musicians playing on most songs are Ozzy, naturally, Duff McKagan (bass), Chad Smith (drums), and Andrew Watt (guitars, etc.). There are some big-name guests, too, including Elton John, Post Malone, and Slash. According to the reporting on it all, the project came together and was wrapped up in just a few weeks, which is truly amazing and hard to believe when listening to the final product. The music sounds fresh and at the same time has familiar Ozzy Osbourne pulls. There are fast and heavy songs, a few slow songs, and ½ and ½’s. Some of the songs are deadly serious, like the single “Under the Graveyard,” while others are silly, like “Scary Little Green Men.” Familiar themes such as addiction, fame, darkness, and redemption permeate the set while the musical styles wave and pulse enough to keep your brain firing while your body stands the entire time in the heavy world of Ozzy. The balance and cleverness of the musical composition and lyrics are very impressive – there are strings and backing vocals here and there, always at exactly the right time in the right amount so nothing sounds over-done.
I like all of Ozzy’s albums, and sure, I do like some more than others. I’d put Ordinary Man well up in the top half of the whole list – I have listened to it back-to-back three times and it’s going again when this spin is done. Highly recommended.
In yet another surprise, Ozzy is already talking about recording a second album with Andrew Watt soon, as in any time now. I feel trepidation creeping in, but why worry – this one was great so why wouldn’t the next one be, too. And you know what? Instead of thinking ahead, I’m just going to listen to Ordinary Man again. “All right, now!”
Ozzy Osbourne, https://www.ozzy.com/