Camp Lo Ragtime Hightimes
(Nature Sounds – May 18, 2015)
Review by Brandon Foster
Camp Lo is the only group in hip-hop history to be before and after its time. They were able to bring in a 70s New York City flavor in a 90s hip-hop environment and pull it off effortlessly (and with a touch of OutKast). It took a while to fully absorb just how special their classic debut album Uptown Saturday Night was. Since that 1997 debut, Camp Lo pretty much fell below the radar. Yes, they have had a few releases through the years but they were nowhere near the debut album. However, four years ago, they picked up a little steam. Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba joined forces with legendary hip-hop producer Pete Rock for the 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s mixtape to a lot of fanfare. Continue reading
Thee Oh Sees Mutilator Defeated at Last
(Castle Face Records – May 18, 2015)
Review by M. Kay
Thee Oh Sees – a band that is 1 part revolving door collaborative and two parts front man piloted behemoth. Main talent John Dwyer is as prolific as he is varied and does not seem to be slowed any by the recent switch back to Castle Face Records (a blow to one of my favorite labels, In the Red Records). The latest album under Thee Oh Sees moniker, Mutilator Defeated at Last, is jangly psych freak out. While it certainly doesn’t lack the clear 70s anchor (in both senses) Dwyer and crew are known for, Mutilator is a stand out album for its aggressive hooks, full production, and good ol’ fashioned fun.
(Sonic Cathedral – February 23, 2015)
(Rock, Drone, Noise)
That illusive desert groove.
Ever since Dave Grohl gave his public endorsement to Kyuss in 1992, the world has binged and sometime ignored that particular brand of bodily drone. Unlike most genres, desert rock was never flooded with pretenders or one hit wonders, despite its overnight popularity. It never went the way of Grunge. The robot rock of Joshua Homme and his ilk remain in the periphery even when in the spotlight. The Bristol based band, Spectres, aims to deliver those wide-open rides with their debut album Dying. Continue reading
Keath Mead Sunday Dinner
(Company Records – February 24, 2015)
(Folk, Indie, Singer/Songwriter)
We live in an age of nostalgia. Everyone and their mother participates in the practice of throwback Thursdays, and decade referencing decadence runs rampant across all forms of digital media. Music is not inoculated from this rose-colored wistfulness. You can trace the current of retro-futurism through aural bloodlines that run from garage-rock cultists straight through to Soulquarian acolytes. Nostalgia is a worn sweater handed down from your grandparents, to your parents, to you, and every generation wears that garb with varied aplomb.
Keath Mead, in particular, wears it quite well on his debut album, Sunday Dinner. Continue reading
Happy Diving – Big World
If you ever had a band in 1996, you probably tried to sound like Happy Diving. More than likely you failed miserably, but for the California based Happy Diving, the dream of instant chemistry and fuzzed out teen despondency paid off. Big World is a crushing throwback to the sludge-fuzz albums of two decades ago (and for most of you dear readers, yes that was two whole decades). If you’ve got thirty minutes to indulge in break-neck nostalgia, Big World has what you need.
The title track is probably the most indicative of what Happy Diving were going for: big, loud, indiscernible, and inviting. “Sad World” might as well be renamed “We Really Miss You Sweater Song Era Weezer”, and you know what? It’s a good thing. The absolutely demanding swell and crash of dry bass beats, filthy fuzz, washed out vocals, and treble compressed bass lines, make you want to watch Empire Records and flip off your boss. Follow it up with a triumphant road trip, and you’ve done this album a service. Of particular note is Matthew Berry’s vocal performance which is pitch perfect punk if ever such a thing existed.
All that said, this album was made in two days and it does show, though not nearly as much as it should. Level inconsistencies, particularly with regard to Mikey Rivera’s bass on about half of the album, plague the album. The final track “Explorer” does a solid job as an outro, but at five minutes it throws you out of the album’s temperament without enough pay-off. Luckily, any problems you may have with the album are quickly done away with. With the exception of “Explorer”, no song goes over three minutes, making even the most ardent singles junky able to sit through the entire album with little to no fatigue.
Prior to the release of Big World, Happy Diving had only released a self-titled EP that drew a decent amount of attention from local outlets. Big World, as far as debuts go, is a strong and eager lad, ready to tell his weekend boss to go to hell.
Wo Fat The Conjuring
Say it three times as if you are exhaling exhaust fumes.
There ya go.
Wo Fat has been solidly under the radar for most due to the insular nature of anything metal and the even more solitary cross over genre assemblages of desert rock, stoner, sludge, doom, grunge, and thrash. If you aren’t familiar with the above nuances it sort of speaks to the problem. Of all the conflicting genre allegiances, Wo Fat’s The Conjuring more closely resembles the desert founders Kyuss in terms of production and composition and the likes of Orange Goblin and Truckfighters in execution. If you are among those who throw their hands up at most things desert rock, know that this is the album that best illustrates why metal heads are so damned relaxed. Imagine the Swamp Thing drags itself across the Texas desert, tossing cigarettes in the faces of everyone not willing to light up and roll out. Then, as if by some hard-earned benevolence, Swamp Thing lulls you to sleep with the siren song of what pulled him across the vast empty of the American south west in the first place.
This is The Conjuring.