Robin Trower, No More Worlds To Conquer (Provogue 2022)

Guitar master Robin Trower offers a new album of blues rock music, No More Worlds To Conquer.

Best known initially for his work with Procol Harum in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Robin Trower went on to release more than two dozen solo albums in his career. His fluid playing style is unmistakable – not only do you recognize it when you hear it, you are always glad to be listening. Mesmerizing and poignant, the new album is an impressive achievement in his storied career. Trower plays guitar and bass, Chris Taggart is on drums, and Richard Watts sings.

The title of the album gives a hint that what we will hear will be consistent to what has come before. It is true that everything fans like best about Trower’s music is here again as he does what he does so well. His album Bridge Of Sighs (1974) is the one most often pointed toward to exemplify his style and languid demonstration of his musical presence. It is a classic, and no mistake. There is a lot of other music of his out there, too. The fascinating thing is you can pick an album at random to listen to and be amazed by it, or you can take a deep dive, listen to it all, and marvel at Robin Trower’s astonishing catalogue. There are no bad records in the bunch, and listening to them back to back never gets old.

“Ball Of Fire” gives the new set a rambling open. Every instrument shines as the rhythm sets the rails for the soulful vocals and Trower’s signature guitar. The title track and “The Razor’s Edge” are featured songs, and, while I am hesitant to pick favorites, the latter one has gotten more play hereabouts because I want to listen to the lead passages over and again. Longtime fans and newcomers alike reap rewards on this album. Recommended.

No More Worlds To Conquer is out now through the Provogue Records imprint of Mascot Label Group. Hit the link below and look at Robin Trower’s website for more information.

Photo of Robin Trower by Laurence Harvey.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://rtnmwtc.bandcamp.com/album/no-more-worlds-to-conquer

Website, http://www.robintrower.uk/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RobinTrower/

Provogue Records, https://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/robin-trower

© Wayne Edwards

Robin Trower, No More Worlds To Conquer (Provogue 2022)

Greenbeard, Variant (Sailor Records 2022)

Greenbeard gives us Variant, a bluesy album with heavy desert grooves and many unexpected turns.

From Austin, Texas, Greenbeard is Chance Parker (guitar, vocals), Buddy Hachar (drums), Pat Seals (bass), and Joe Samson (guitar). They have been stalking the stage for a few years now and have released several albums, including 2014’s self-titled EP, Stoned At The Throne (2015), Lödarödböl (2016), and then another EP, Onward Pillager (2018). The new set covers quite a bit of ground, and showcases both the songwriting and performance talents of the band.

Let’s track-by-track this one, shall we? “Creatures of the Night” charges right at you with a groovy hard psych attitude that is almost like a fuzzy surf version of acid rock. It cooks, and the lead breaks are a joy to hear. “Burns Like Basketweave” is spacier than the opener, with a pushing, buzzy throb. The dream sequence just past the center is a tribute to psychic exploration. “Get in the car. No time to explain.” Now this is a driving song, and I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise given the title. There is a slow, catchy vamp in the middle that goes bluesy and walks back that driving-down-the-road feel in exchange for a whole different vibe. The backing vocals will give you chills.

“Diamond in the Devil’s Grinder” is a slow heavy blues number. A beautiful song with amazing guitar segments and an unforgettable saxophone. The tempo gets whipped up in the final third for a big finish. “Sanitario de la Soul” sends you on a long, deep path of self-reflection. “Exodus” brings back the push and the heavy roll. The buzz in the guitar is on the roar again. It has a great climbing chorus that sets up a blistering lead guitar break-out.

The last song is “Bare Bones.” It starts with a clang and rings on with high energy riffs that sound amazing even when lights come back on. Put me down for a “hell yes” on Greenbeard. This album is excellent. Recommended.

Variant emerges April 9th through Sailor Records in the US and Kozmik Artifactz in Europe.

Band photo by Dave Creaney.

Bandcamp, https://greenbeardtheband.bandcamp.com/

Greenbeard website, http://www.greenbeardtheband.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/greenbeardtheband

Sailor Records, https://www.sailorrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Greenbeard, Variant (Sailor Records 2022)

Muddy Moonshine, Are We There Yet (Secret Entertainment 2022)

Swamp rockers from Finland, Muddy Moonshine, release their sophomore album, Are We There Yet.

You read that right: swamp rockers from Finland. Are there swamps in Finland? Absolutely, but of course that has nothing to do with the actual music. The style appealed to the originators of the band and they decided to go with it. The result is very impressive, bluesy, guitar-driven rock that is uncommonly listenable. The band is Tuomo Varjola (vocals), Jonne Rytkönen (guitar), Saku Manninen (drums), Jarmo Ikala (guitar), and Kim Sandström (bass).

There are thirteen tracks on the new album. “Under The Moon” is the first song, and it verily seeps swamp gas and drips Spanish moss. It has the pleasant, lay-about twang often associated with the declared musical type. The next song is “Crystal Riders” and it is very different, carrying more of a radio mentality, with pushing rhythm and a catchy chorus. It almost puts you in mind of D.A.D. here and there. “Sold Out” made me think of early 70s Nazareth with its brightness and voracity. It is one of my favorites on the album – it has a great hook and drive.

And there is more. “Corn Whiskey A Go” lays on the southern rock harmonies and “Distilled In Bayou” is essentially a power ballad. “Charm Of Drinking Hard” is a rambler with an undeniable bass and a tasty lead break. Songs like “One More Time” are just straight-up party tunes that put you in the mood and keep you going. There is a lot of good music here, put down in familiar rock styles and performed with the consent of genuine earnestness. Recommended.

Are We There Yet drops on Friday, March 18th through Secret Entertainment. Snap it up at Bandcamp.

Band photo by Emma Manninen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://muddymoonshine.bandcamp.com/

Muddy Moonshine website, http://www.muddymoonshine.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/officialmoonshine

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Muddy Moonshine, Are We There Yet (Secret Entertainment 2022)

Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

You will understand the name of the band when you listen to their music. Sound Of Smoke’s Tales will take you away.

Formed in 2016 in Freiburg, Germany, Sound Of Smoke is a bluesy heavy psych band choosing their own path in a crowded lane. They previously released an EP called Eleutheromania, and Tales appears to be their first full-length album. The band is Isabelle Bapté (vocals, keys), Jens Stöver (guitar), Florian Kiefer (bass), and Johannes Braunstein (drums).

The set includes a cover of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” “Devil’s Voice,” which was on the earlier release, and five more songs that appear to be originals.

“Witch Boogie” is my favorite track – I just love the way it eases into the atmosphere like gathering fog, then thickens and deepens while it envelops you. The voice of Isabelle Bapté is positively mesmerizing. The guitar is urging and the bass will not be denied. Incredible.

“Dreamin’” has a soul of doom and a wicked approach that you can see coming but you cannot avoid. It is a spellcaster. The lead guitar work is lyrical and lightens the tone a bit when it rolls out. “Human Salvation” is another notable track. It runs ten minutes and is the anchor piece for the album. Typically, in a song this long you have different, separate movements that are identifiable as essentially shorter individual songs. That is not true of “Human Salvation.” It is genuinely one entirety that would suffer if it were truncated. Each of the elements is essential, and they all work together to create the whole.

This album is the first music I have heard from Sound Of Smoke, but it won’t be the last. I will be watching closely and listening to whatever they create. Recommended.

Tales hits the streets on Friday, February 18th through Tonzonen Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick up the record.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://soundofsmoke.bandcamp.com/releases

Sound Of Smoke website, https://www.soundofsmoke.de/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soundofsmoke

Tonzonen Records, https://www.tonzonen.de/

Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

Green Desert Water, Black Harvest (Small Stone Records 2021)

Psychedelic blues rock band Green Desert Water reveal meaning and mystery in their new album Black Harvest.

Green Desert Water is a heavy blues rock trio from Spain. After an early EP, Solar Plexus was the band’s first long-player in 2018. The new album is a moving rejoinder to their debut and a stunning accomplishment in its own right. The musicians are Juan Arias García (bass), Dani Barcena (drums), and Kike Sanchís (guitar and vocals).

“Sacred Tree” winds the crank at the open with fuzzy riffs and an easy-going attitude. The hook continues into “Dead Sacred Tree” for a little while before shifting to a drearier enterprise. The song ends as abruptly as a flipped switch and the next track, “Too Many Wizards,” jumps in with a solo voice. The song seems to come to a conclusion a couple times only the ramp up for more chorus. It catches you up and yet you are happy with whichever way it turns.

The title track wakes with a doom drubbing as heavy as a swinging leaden door on a medieval church. The pace does pick up as the song goes along, all the while remaining stern. The pleading lead guitar is an art trap hiding in plain sight. Soulful vocals and hearty rhythm are a glide down a calm river.

“The Whale” is a highly anticipated moment given the cover art and it delivers on the surreal ideal of the image. Sudden changes here occur without warning and with complete disregard for your emotions. There is a lot of that going on in the entire album, as a matter of fact. “Shelter of Guru” is savory and sweet in the lyrics and music, respectively. The final push is “Soul Blind” and it is 75% soothing, 25% bestial. The place you find yourself at when the music stops has to be experienced to be understood. Highly recommended.

Black Harvest is out now from Small Stone Records. Have a scrabble at the label’s website or take the express route at Bandcamp.

Links.

Website,

Bandcamp, https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/black-harvest

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/greendesertrock

Small Stone Records, http://smallstone.com/

Green Desert Water, Black Harvest (Small Stone Records 2021)

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

The debut album from Sweden’s Wytch is a rugged and dynamic statement of intent burgeoning with both straight-forward and clandestine perambulations.

Formed in 2017 as Aska, the band released an EP under that name and then switched to Wytch for their first long-player, Exordium. The musicians have performed with numerous other bands over the years, including Vintersorg. The roster is Simon Lundström (bass), Fredrik Nilsson (drums), Niklas Viklund (guitars), Mattias Marklund (guitars), and Johanna Lundberg (vocals).

There are eight tracks on the album. Each song is set up with a clever and catchy hook that the song develops around. It is a bluesy heavy psych sound defined by those rummaging guitar parts and Johanna Lundberg’s unforgettable, haunting voice. The zippy lead breaks are sometimes pepperpot shots and at other times are languid and insinuating. Sturdy bass and drum lines free the voice and guitars to crossover each other while simultaneously self-actualizing therewith, engendering a synergistic construct. It all sounds effortless but of course it couldn’t be. Music like this is rare.

Stand-out tracks for me are the pairings of expansive “Blood” with “Evil Heart” and doomy “Break You Down” with “You.” That’s half the set, isn’t it – I’m not really narrowing it down much. The thing is when you first hear any song on the album it immediately draws you in and holds onto you with a mystical spell that may or may not be sinister. It is not like a Siren song but instead it is more like the snowfall that awakens the intrepid journeyers in The Wizard Of Oz. It just doesn’t make any sense to stop listening. Recommended.

You can get Exordium right now. Look over the options at Ripple Music’s store or on Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/exordium

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/people/Wytch-Band/100063579726744/

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/wytch-exordium-limited-digipak-cd

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

Dirty Honey, The Dirty Honey Album (2021)

The long-awaited debut album from Los Angeles blues-rock band Dirty Honey is out this week.

Marc LaBelle (vocals), John Notto (guitars), Justin Smolian (bass), and Corey Coverstone (drums) are Dirty Honey, a 1970s-influenced hard rock band that blends blues stylings seamlessly into their music. I saw them live several times in 2019 and the show they put on was always a highlight of any music festival.

The band has previously released an EP in 2019, and two of the singles from it were big hits, “Rolling 7s” and “When I’m Gone.” They find a way in every song to get your attention, sometimes with a big front and sometimes with a subtle insinuation. Every track’s a keeper and they all make you feel like being outside and living life whether the story the song tells is raucous or sad.

The first single off the new album is “California Dreamin’” and it is a goodtime rocker with catchy hooks and a great lead break. Opening the album as it does, it’s your first pass at LaBelle’s voice and it is at once lyrical and forceful, insistent and understanding. All the pieces of the band match up in rare ways that create consistent appeal to rock fans across a wide range of inclinations.

Other favorites of mine include “Tied Up” and “No Warning” because of the rhythm and the way elements land – all the separate parts can be heard on their own and when your brain puts them all together there is synergy. Of the eight songs on the album, seven of are up-tempo, straight-ahead rock songs. The closer is “Another Last Time” and while it is a little more on the somber side than the others, it has a big lead break and it is a powerful send-off for the set. I’d be glad to hear all of these songs live and I hope we get the chance to do that later this year. Recommended.

The Dirty Honey Album is out on Friday, April 23rd. Get your summer started early – music and merch can be found at the link below.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 Sonic Temple Festival.

Links.

Dirty Honey Website, https://www.dirtyhoney.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DirtyHoneyMusic/

Dirty Honey, The Dirty Honey Album (2021)

The Electric Mud, Burn The Ships review (Small Stone Records 2020)

Florida Heavy Blues instigators The Electric Mud return with more high voltage swamp metal on Burn The Ships.

The debut album of The Electric Mud came out two years ago, Bull Gator. It is bluesy, guitar-driven Southern stoner rock. Listening to it does bring up thoughts of that first Molly Hatchet album, but The Electric Mud is heavier and presses the lurking power of their music harder. The title track tells us “I’m the mighty jaws of an ancient god,” and a little later in the same song, “I’m the crooked old hand of death itself.” The songs are smooth and muscular. A very impressive debut.

The band is Constantine Grim (guitar), Pierson Whicker (drums), Peter Kolter (vocals and guitar), and Tommy Scott (bass). All four are from Florida, and have an abiding respect for the rock music tradition from the South (Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the like) as well as the classic metal roots of icons like the origin band, Black Sabbath. Their music is not a simple combination of latent elements of famous bands, however. They have taken their influences and inspirations and melded them with their abilities and art to fashion a lasting instrument of collective resonance.

The new album cranks up the speed and depth a notch, creating an even bigger wake than the earlier release. “The First Murder On Mars” is the opener (and the single you can hear now). It starts the set out fast and sharp, with stabbing guitars and crisp drumming. “Stone Hands” switches to a heavier hammer, and “Reptile” swings them both at the same time. “A Greater Evil” is a the cool evening breeze that blows through your open car window  and then darkens as the sun goes down. The triplet of “Call The Judge,” “Priestess,” and “Good Monster” is thirteen minutes of trouncing bliss – it takes you away from whatever was in your head before. I keep hitting these three over and over. “Ledbelly” is an amazing display of percussion, and “Terrestrial Birds” starts out as a lullaby until the guitar starts singing the blues and telling you a story that won’t let you sleep. This in an incredible album that will reach across to a wide array of heavy music fans. Highly recommended.

Burn The Ships CDs, vinyl, and downloads are available from Small Stone Records through Bandcamp (and elsewhere) beginning this Friday, September 25. You know how it works: the download is there forever but the hardcopies can go fast, especially the vinyl. Listen to Bull Gator on Spotify now. If you like it, consider a preorder if you want some of that orange vinyl.

Links.

http://www.theelectricmud.com

https://theelectricmud1.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.facebook.com/TheElectricMud

http://www.smallstone.com

http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/burn-the-ships

The Electric Mud, Burn The Ships review (Small Stone Records 2020)

Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets review (2020)

The members of King Giant changed the band’s name to Pimmit Hills after David Kolwalski left in 2017. The first release from the newly-named band is an EP titled Heathens & Prophets.

Under the earlier name, the band released three full-length albums, an EP and a demo. That is a lot of music, and an impressive legacy for King Giant. The current band is David Hammerly (vocals), Keith Brooks (drums), Todd Ingram (guitar), and Floyd Lee Walters III (bass). They are playing a bluesy Southern Rock with a Desert Rock mysticism and melancholy. I’ve read them compared to early ZZ Top and there is a hint of that fuzz in there, but the music of Pimmit Hills is darker and more serious – and there is a clear difference between the local flavor of guitar-heavy music in Texas and in Virginia. Compared to King Giant, the new music is consistent with the earlier work but more earthy, I’d say.

Heathens & Prophets might technically be an EP but with four 7-minute songs it’s a full meal. A crisp solo guitar lick cracks the set open with “Baby Blue Eyes.” Hammerly’s husky voice puts a precise picture in your head of the story he tells: “You look at me with sadness / I look at you with regret.” O man, that’s a punch in the gut. “Ginger” fades in on a peppy drum beat and growing guitar feedback to set up a song about murder. “Lost River” has a swampy warble and backing keyboards that give it a solemn fullness. The lead break has both a somberness and a ruthlessness to it. “Beautiful Sadness” wraps the set up with a fierce bluntness, and seems more like the end of Side 1 than the last song on the album.

Out this Friday, September 18, you can find Heathens & Prophets in the digital everywhere. I am hoping it will pop up on Spotify so I can follow them there. These four songs are just part of the album the band was working on when the pandemic put the slows to the world. They have continued to write more material and will release it when recording becomes practicable. I can’t wait to hear the other songs, too. Recommended.

Band photo by Shane Gardner.

Links.

https://www.pimmithillsmusic.com

https://www.facebook.com/PimmitHillsMusic

https://gyard.bigcartel.com/products

Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets review (2020)