Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

A new album from Sweden’s Greenleaf is always a reason to celebrate and the new one pushes the envelope on anticipation.

Greenleaf has been laying down tracks for a couple decades now. Their most recent album was 2018’s Hear The Rivers and while the new one has the familiar presence that earlier one had, it is a step up and beyond. The band is Tommi Holappa (guitar), Sebastian Olsson (drums), Hans Fröhlich (bass), and Arvid Jonsson (vocals).

The album has ten fuzzy, psychedelic tracks that will wrap around you and soak right in. The opener is “Tides,” a get-to-know you track that lays down the blanket in the grass. “Good God I Better Run Away” follows and it is bursting with energy and urgency. It is positively loaded with wonderizing guitar work. Then “Needle In My Eye” has an ethereal quality to it, echoing as it does off the walls and telling as it does a sinister tale. You hear these three songs back-to-back and you start to drift, confident in your choice of music.

All the pieces come together on this album in the way we expect from the earlier ones. I get an extra bounce on this one, though – something about it is bigger to me. Every song has something extraordinary about it. “A Hand Of Might” sticks in my mind for its rolling tremulousness; “March On Higher Grounds” for its restless insistence. “What Have We Become” is the last song of the set and it is a meditation. On what? That might be different for every person who listens to it. At first it put me in a fog but by the end my vision had cleared. It is a good way to come down.

Echoes From A Mass is waiting for you right now. Links below. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greenleaf-sweden.bandcamp.com/

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

Label, https://label.napalmrecords.com/greenleaf

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

The cover art for the new Wedge album is a burning fire extinguisher. That is poetry and the perfect sign for the band’s third set.

Wedge first appeared in Berlin as is made up of Kiryk Drewinski (guitar, vocals), Holger Grosser (drums), and Dave Götz (bass, keys). They play a bluesy heavy psych that puts you in mind of bands like Kadaver, Blues Pills, a little bit like Lucifer maybe, and heavy on the jam. Every song eventually gets around to a solid slab of groove, and that is what cements Wedge in my mind. There were two albums before the new one, starting with the self-titled one in 2014, followed by Killing Tongue in 2018.

Rooted in 1970s rock sensibilities, the eight songs on Like No Tomorrow are a swim through nostalgia while the currents of modern fuzz undulate against you with variegated fervor. The music is absolutely solid while maintaining a relaxed DIY feel to it. There is some social commentary in the lyrics and you can make as little or as much of them as you like because it is the music that is going to be in the forefront of your mind when you listen.

The first song is “Computer,” and it starts with a jazzy vamp on the keys and a pulsing guitar riff. The vocals set me on an Atlanta Rhythm Section spiral is the best possible way. A couple of great bridges later there is the first guitar solo and you know you are in the right place. “Playing A Role” opts for the guitar up front and the thumping bass line lays the rail for a catchy tune that in another time could have been a big radio hit. Each song all the way through has its own perspective and identity.

There are a couple of tracks in the three minute range but most run four to five, breaking the music up nicely. The anchor piece is the nine minute “Soldier.” In the long form, Wedge keeps the ingenuity at full force and stretches out in a further exploration of themes and individuations. I am glad I took the trip. Wedge is going to be in my playlists from now on. Recommended.

Like No Tomorrow is out now, and the easiest buy in the US is the digital download at Bandcamp. Heavy Psych Sounds Records does have an on-line US shop (link below) and you can pick up vinyl there.

Band photo snagged from their Facebook page.

Links.

Website, https://www.wedgeband.com/

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

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

Label, https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop-usa.htm

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

Ten Million Lights, Shine So Bright review (2020)

Portland, Oregon’s own Ten Million Lights reach out through the murk of 2020 to pass along new music with the five-song EP Shine So Bright.

Ryan Carroll and Eric Block starting putting together the band a little over ten years ago. After a few EPs and two full length albums, Shine So Bright is the latest entry in the well hewn house of Ten Million Lights. The lineup is completed by Russ Ellis (bass) and Paul Hardie (drums), and these four musicians have together created a sound that passes between the realms of action and lament, haunting them both.

The set opens with a tromping beat and a little feedback on “Better To Know.” Carroll’s vocals are sweet and far away, floating in the world the guitars and pedals create. The music has a buoyant pop feel in the first three songs, and starts to turn more serious on the last two.

Given the generally serene and layered arrangements, the single element that stands out most is the drumming, which is crisp and clicks off the occasional free radical. The bass lines raise a voice of their own sometimes too, standing out in my memory on “The Swirl,” the longest song and most dismal in tone – also the closer. These five songs then listen like positive reassurance in the shifting sands we all now walk and also cautionary acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation. Balanced, I would call it.

Out on Friday, October 2, Shine So Bright can be had at Bandcamp and through the band’s website at the links below. Along with the singles that have been released from this new one, traipse through the back catalogue and associated music you can find on the band’s website. You are sure to discover some shining kernels there. Recommended.

Links.

https://tenmillionlights.bandcamp.com/

tenmillionlights.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tenmillionlights

Ten Million Lights, Shine So Bright review (2020)

Crystal Spiders, Molt review (Ripple Music 2020)

Raleigh, North Carolina-based Crystal Spiders add a new entry in the Stoner Rock ledgers with their full-length debut, Molt.

The band is Brenna Leath and Tradd Yancey, bass/vocals and drums, respectively. They released a three-song demo last year, and Molt is the rapid follow up. Leath is also in the bands Lightning Born and The Hell No, creating music there and already finishing the principal writing on the next Crystal Spiders album after Molt. She is keeping the creative fires alive in this first year of the pandemic.

The new album has a straight-forward sound and a practical approach to Stoner Doom that sits atop a solid underlying heavy rock structure. There is occasional the lead work like near the end of “C.U.N. Hell” that complements the abiding rhythm, but it is those bass lines and the assertive percussion that gets the biggest notice. And the vocals, of course. Leath’s voice is clear and soulful and vaporous all at once, in the neighborhood of Jillian Taylor (Ruby The Hatchet) but a bit lower in register and huskier tone.

A couple of the songs stood out and stuck with me even among the field of excellent music the album creates. “The Call” is a rousing, pulsing rocker, with a piercing guitar upfront and a ponderous then menacing back end. The ethereal sounds and tones in “The Fog” were absolutely hypnotizing – I was so wrapped up in listening to it I didn’t even realize when the song ended and the album was done. The title track is a crackling burst of Punk energy and “Chronic Sick” is pure doom.

Molt is out now from Ripple Music at their Big Cartel store and through Bandcamp. I just finished listening to the new album again and I am already anticipating the next one. Recommended.

Band photo by Marissa Straw.

Links.

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/molt

https://www.facebook.com/crystalspidersinmymind

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Crystal Spiders, Molt review (Ripple Music 2020)