Friday, November 28, 2014

Stoner Rock Band From Sweden Siena Root Set To Conquer The States With Their New Album Pioneers!

Los Angeles, CA - Get on the bus with Siena Root, Sweden’s finest rock band, as they set out on a virtual musical trip along the dusty highways of American shores. Pioneers, the band’s first album to be released in the U.S., will allow American audiences to catch the contact high that Siena Root fans in the group’s native Stockholm have been riding for years. A heady, heavy blend of Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly, Pioneers will be blowing minds starting November 18 courtesy of Cleopatra Records.

An experimental project with roots in analogue, old school ‘70s rock, Siena Root was founded in Stockholm in the late ‘90s. The quintet quickly honed a sound that is classic yet original, based on heavy organ, howling guitars, gigantic bass riffs, even bigger drums and bluesy soulful vocals. The lead off single from Pioneers, “The Way You Turn,” perfectly captures the group’s dynamic beginning with a virtuoso organ solo followed by rolling drums and a blazing guitar riff that both scorches and grooves. The band filmed a concept video for the song that dramatizes these retro rockers’ ability to turn all that is modern (from cars to guitars to phones and clothes) into vintage treasures with just the touch of their hands.

Watch the video here:

The band has already earned high praise from some of their musical forebears. Mick Box of Uriah Heep exclaims, “It’s nice to hear a band like Siena Root playing it for real in this overly-processed world that we live in. Power to them, and I wish them all the success in the world!” Likewise, drum legend Carmine Appice of classic rock bands Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, had a chance to watch the video for “The Way You Turn” and exclaimed “Very cool song and video!” The album also features a special bonus track, a smokin’ cover of Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love,” not available anywhere else!

1. Between The Lines
2. 7 Years
3. Spiral Trip
4. Root Rock Pioneers
5. The Way You Turn
6. Keep On Climbing
7. Going Down
8. In My Kitchen
9. Whole Lotta Love

To purchase the CD on Amazon:

To purchase the digital album on iTunes:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wizard Rifle – Here In The Deadlights

Wizard Rifle have one of the best band names I've ever heard.  People ask what's in a name?  Well, when you have a name like this, it draws some attention your way.  Maybe some folks give you a listen just to hear what a band named Wizard Rifle sound like.  Then, when they hear the music, they're in.  Give them a listen and you will be hooked.

The album starts off with “Crystal Witch”.  There's a bit of atmospherics to get things going, then a tribal rhythm materializes, and when the incantatory vocals start, you find yourself caught in the spell of this song.  Not sure if it was just the way it worked out, or if that's the way they planned it given that “witch” is in the song title.  It's a great opening track and gets things started in the right way.

The first track leads right into the second, “Buzzsaw Babes”.  This one and the third track, “Paul The Sky Tyrant”, are examples of this band just letting it rip.  There is great interplay in both of these songs between the various instruments and the vocals.  These guys are heavy in the sense of a band like Mastodon.  They are not really playing any crushing death metal, or thrash, or doom, but this isn't anything soft and gentle either.  Both of these tracks hit you right between the eyes.

All of this leads into “Psychodynamo”, which for me is the centerpiece of this release.  The tempo slows a little compared to the previous 3 tracks.  The heaviness drops out for a bit, and you can really hear all of the things that this band is capable of.  There is an undulating riff that moves in and out of this track, it circles back on itself, but it never quite does what you think it's going to do, always zigs when you think it should zag.  And then the song builds and gets really heavy and the last few minutes just crush.  It's psychedelic, its got some great stoner-ish riffs, its got just a little bit of everything.  And it's a great song.

The album wraps up with “Beastwhores”, which starts out sounding like it might be a jazzy little number.  But then it steps up and hits you hard and reminds you that Wizard Rifle do pretty much what they want to do.  They also do it very well.  If you are looking for a little change of pace in your metal, or just heavy music if you want to think of it that way, this is an excellent example of a band doing their own thing and not being so wrapped up in it that they lose the listener.  Well worth the listen.  These guys are out on tour right now so catch them if you get the opportunity.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Slow Season - Mountains

It's refreshing when a band is unapologetic about what it is. So many bands try to be retro "but with a modern sound." California's Slow Season aren't that. They make classic rock, they do it right, and they do it without being canny.

When I met the guys from Slow Season, I was downing a 12'er of Schlitz in the parking lot of a hole in the wall rock club in Oklahoma. It was hot. They had just driven from Texas where the show they had played the night before was a shit fest. Surprisingly, their spirits were good.

We talked about bands we liked, bands we didn't like, frontmen we'd met with rockstar complexes, and the weather. They were all really genuine, cool guys. The first thing they asked me was "can we play loud here?"

They tore the club down that night. I love opening bands that steal the night These guys did that. We went and ate some Korean food afterwards and chatted, I asked them to get me their new album when they could, and here we are today.

Their live sound and their album sound are pretty similar; high energy rock a la Zeppelin. The songs all chug, they roll, they boogie. This is the God's Country of Rock and Roll. The rhythm section is really what clinches that sound, they absolutely nail what they're going for. The way Jones and Bonham used to riff off each other is here. The album sounds like 1968, and I can think of no higher praise for a band that makes classic rock.

The album just dropped over at Riding Easy a couple weeks ago. Pick it up, add it to your rogues gallery of proof that rock and roll is not dead.

- Headshot

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fugazi "First Demo" Streaming Now

Fugazi's First Demo is now streaming it its entirety ahead of the official November 18th release date. Listen to the record here.

In early January 1988 and after only ten shows, Fugazi decided to go into Inner Ear Studio to see what their music sounded like on tape. Despite the fact that Ian, Joe, and Brendan had been playing together for nearly a year, it was still early days for the band. Guy had only been a full member of Fugazi for a few months and only sang lead on one song ("Break-In").
The sessions only lasted a couple of days, but tour dates and indecision about the tape would delay the final mix for another two months. Though the band was at first pleased with the results, it soon became clear that this tape would remain a demo as new songs were being written and the older songs were evolving and changing shape while the band was out on tour. It was decided that the session would be passed out free as cassette copies, with the band actively encouraging people to share the recording. In the spring, Fugazi went out on its first U.S. tour and a few weeks after returning from the road they went back to Inner Ear to record what would become their debut Dischord release, the self-titled 7-song 12" EP.
The only song from the demo session that was formally released was "In Defense of Humans", which appeared on the State of the Union compilation in 1989. Now, some 26 years later, Dischord is releasing the entire first demo including the one song ("Turn Off Your Guns") that wasn't included on the original cassette.
This release also coincides with the completion of the initial round of uploads to the Fugazi Live Series website. Launched in 2011, the site lists and details all of Fugazi's 1000+ performances and makes available close to 900 concert recordings that were documented by the band and by the public, as well as countless flyers, ticket stubs, posters, and photographs. After two years of work, all of the recordings in the band's archive are finally posted.

Read an interview with Fugazi conducted shortly after the recording session by Andy Perseponko of Desperate State here (right-click to download).

Tracklist: 1) Waiting Room 2) Merchandise 3) Furniture 4) Song #1 5) The Word
6) Bad Mouth 7) Break-In 8) Turn Off Your Guns 9) And the Same 10) In Defense of Humans 11) Joe #1

Cover photo by Andy Perseponko

Monday, November 24, 2014

John Wilkes Booth - Useless Lucy

Let me set the scene.

I keep a box of CD's on the passenger seat of my car.  It's full (overfilled, actually) with CD's that are sent in for review.  As I'm driving, I reach into the box randomly and play a little game with myself.  I open up the CD, put it into the player, all without ever seeing who the artist is.  Removes all bias that way.  I simply let the disc spin, crank up the sound and wait.

In all honestly, most of the CD's never make it all the way through, and I can't say my expectations are always high.  A lot of music comes in.  I mean, A LOT of music comes in, and quite frankly, most if it simply isn't my cup of tea.  So, once the CD starts spinning, there's always that moment.  That moment of anticipation.  What's coming for me?   Will it be any good?

Seconds pass . . .

That was the scene when this new full-length from Long Island gun-metallers, John Wilkes Booth popped into the player.  I've know JWB for ages now, having reviewed their album "Sic Semper Tyranus" way back in 2008.  I hadn't heard much from the lads since then and when I saw the new CD come in I had no idea what to expect.  In truth, I like the Sic Semper album. Dirt rock as they called it, was a blast of adrenalized, punked up scuzz rock.  But as much as I enjoyed it, it did have it's weaknesses, and quite frankly wasn't an album I pulled off the shelf too often.

So that's the scene.

CD is in.

Seconds passed . . .

Then the most ominous doomy notes trickled out of my player.  Hmmm?   What's this?   Kinda cool.   Slowly, almost insidiously, the vocals layered on.  Heavy and foreboding, like a messenger from a 60's horror film, hearkening out the apocalypse.  "Beware of the storm/It comes from the North/You all have been warned."  Holy Fuck!  What is this?   The riff is intricate and heavy and frightening as shit.  The tone is pure foreboding.  Doom personified.  Each second of this track "From the North"was epic and huge and terrifying.  I wondered if I'd slipped a Venomous Maximus CD in somehow, but didn't remember one coming through my mailbox.  I fought the urge to look at the CD cover, and kept listening.

As the song pushed on, I found myself furiously pounding the steering wheel in time to the lumbering thunder of drums.  The vocals grew in menacing intensity.  The guitars crashed and rattled like the earth was moving.

I had to know who this was.  Who captured my imagination and thrust me down a darkened path of terror so effortlessly.  Was this some doom prog band I'd never heard of?   At that instant, the crushing nu-metalesque guitar riff of "Masturbation Song" erupted from my speakers with enough fury to make my car bounce with each throb of the bass.  Guitar slice and rip through this sleaze-fest of perverted sexy shows and I couldn't wait anymore.  I had to grab the CD and see who this fucking heavy cool band was that had imprisoned my CD player.

John Wilkes Booth.

Nothing I remember hearing from the "Sic Semper" CD could've prepared me for the masterstroke of blitzing heaviness that is Useless Lucy.  To say the guys had grown in the time between albums is like saying Nightmare on Elm Street wasn't a child's film.  From what was good, but rather standard "dirt rock", John Wilkes Booth have unleashed a phenomenal collection of heavy tunes that stray from doom to sludge to metal all with a massive growth in musicianship and songwriting.  "Six One" is delicate and laced with pain, yet still fierce in it's rocking.  "13 years" rides a massive sludge riff of pure angst.  "Soaking the Perimeter" lays down a fat bass and drum beat before the fuzzed out riff tears the night apart.

Kerry Merkle's vocals have grown impressively, easily reaching down to the depths of his tortured soul to unearth his pain.  His voice drips of emotion I never would have anticipated from the Sic Semper album.  Jason Beickert's guitar work, like the solo on "Masturbation" is tasteful but not restained.  He rips the song apart like it's a beast being slaughtered.  Harry and Christian are furious as the rhythm, pounding and threatening.

And the prog elements, where did those come from?    Jazzy horns tearing up the end of "Soaking the Perimeter", complex song structures from start to finish.   Tone and mood and ambiance.  This is a thick, thick album, but melodic enough to always be an inviting listen.

Some may wonder if the quasi-rap of "Ladder and Vacuum" was a touch of a reach, but damn, the bass is one funky mother and the song never loses it's desire to rock out.  "Family Crest" ends it all with an extended epic of fuzz, groove and sludge, with enough darkened prog tendencies in the rumbling riff and savage guitar solo to harken a band like Tool.

Overall, John Wilkes Booth have busted loose with an epic of dark heaviness that ranges across various styles without ever losing sight of the prize.  As much as I enjoyed the debut, nothing could've prepared me for what the boys produced here.  It's an intense, epic, crushingly heavy listen with enough variety to keep it fresh and exciting all the way through.

While "Sic Semper"has taken it's rightful place on my shelf in my collecton, "Useless Lucy" hasn't.  I can't stop playing it.

20, 30 spins in and I keep finding new things.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Old Man Wizard - Unfavorable

I’ve been away from the review world for awhile, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t kept my ear to the ground. In one way or another, I’ve tried to keep my fingers on the pulse of the underground, and along this amazing journey throughout the world of music, I’m still blown away by the incredible talents that I find. One of the finds along the way is a little band out of my hometown of San Diego…a bitchin’ three piece going by the name of Old Man Wizard.

And, unlike so many of the stoner and heavy rock outfits gracing our musical landscape these days, these guys actually embody the wizard motif in that classic Arthurian way where there was romance mixed with the intrigue. This SoCal trio also mixes a great deal of that desert wasteland feel that one can imagine of being astride a horse as a weary traveler passing through one old west town after another. These guys do a wondrous job of combining aspects of heavy rock with subtle acoustic passages, creating broad musical landscapes that invoke feelings of solitude and internal struggle, personal conflict versus external strife.

Unfavorable is made up of six tracks, three per side of wax (which is a bad ass looking package including an 11 x 17 poster and two-toned wax), but don’t think of this as an EP. The songs are rather lengthy, though never feeling like a burden to the ear. And, the songs have a very proggy feel without being weighed down by bombast. It’s the kind of prog sound that reminds me of Jethro Tull or recent Opeth outings, but not as lengthy and rambling…more similar to the aforementioned bands in tonality and song structure than in instrumental experimentation.

“Nightmare Rider” brings in the proggy aspects of the band in an Opethian way…the song kicks off with a heavy groove and an understated surf punk riff, then shifts seamlessly to an awesome overlaid textural passage in the second verse. The guitar line in the breakdown midway through the song reminds me of something off of Opeth’s Watershed or Heritage albums. But, probably the coolest and most understated part of the band is their use of vocal harmonies. All three members add their voices to the songs, and it’s this song that is a highlight to this aspect.

“Highway Man” is the lead track on the album and sets the tone with a reverb drenched guitar tone that gives the sense of a desert highway, a lonely and desolate road where bad and ugly things can happen to the good if not prepared. The lyrics depict the main character as a road bandit, robbing and killing all who haplessly cross his path, and I personally find myself captivated by the character. Albeit a stark description of events, there’s just enough shadow play in the lyrics to allow the imagination to fill in the blanks and create a reality of its own.

“Traveler’s Lament” is a slower tune with great layers of texture. Francis Roberts (guitarist/vocalist) has these great moments where he sounds like Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield), and with the vocal arrangements as they are throughout the album, I can’t help but wonder if there is some influence from the prog-meister.

Light and shade, heavy and mellow, Unfavorable is actually quite favorable to my ears. There’s a lot going on in each track, some subtle, some more obvious. The musicianship is stellar and, at times, ambitious. Old Man Wizard is a welcome respite from the barrage of heavy stoner and doom rock that’s bursting the underground at its seams. It rocks when it needs to and the chill moments are always laced with an edge of danger and immediacy that keeps me on the edge of my seat, waiting with baseball bat in hand to ward off the monster lurking in the dark. Great album? Yes. An intoxicating and addicting listen because something new always seems to pop out when least expected. One of my albums of the year!

- Pope

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Ripple Conversation with Geezer

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Definitely Kiss as a kid. They introduced the idea that music can be "Larger Than Life"

Seeing the video for Prince's "Let's Go Crazy". The solo at the end was the final piece of the puzzle that lead me to becoming a guitarist.

Seeing Slayer on The Combat Tour 1985 videotape. The first time I watched them play Hell Awaits absolutely changed everything.

The Grateful Dead and Allman Bros. made me rethink everything I thought I knew about music and opened me to the world of improvisation.

Rediscovering the blues through cats like Son House & Charley Patton. They inspired me to completely change the way I play guitar.

the Melvins reminded me what it means to be heavy.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Music has always come first for me, riffs are usually the starting point. Sometimes it can be a groove or a drumbeat that inspires a riff. I usually just let songs flow from there and let the music lead the way. The feel of the song usually dictates the lyrics and melody.

Who has influenced you the most?

I consider myself a guitarist, first and foremost. The ones who got in my head and have never left are Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi & Buzz from the Melvins

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Music comes to me in waves and I tend to study different bands and/or types of music as if I were being tested on it. I once went a whole year listening to nothing but the Melvins (thankfully they have a large discography!). Then I spent years learning how to play old school acoustic slide blues. Lately I been vibing off the heavy stuff again... it can come from anywhere at any time, the trick is being open to the experience and letting it lead you to new places.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

We're all products of NYC in one form or another, but now we call Kingston home (Freddy, the bassplayer actually lives in Ithaca). Environment has great effect on inspiration and the forms it takes. For me, when I moved out of NYC and found myself up in the wide open spaces of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley, I became infatuated with the blues. The old school, evil shit! Once I got a grip on the style and technique of playing slide with open tunings, finger picking and such, I wanted to see what it would be like to play that way, but do it heavy.. Geezer is the direct result of that experiment. To a certain degree, we all kind of started over with Geezer, we all were re-thinking how we approach making music and how we play our instruments. If you look at the progression of our music, I think that becomes pretty apparent. We constantly are refining and redefining what Geezer is and what we sound like.

Where'd the band name come from? 

Turco came up with it, it kinda nailed the way we saw ourselves. Just some dudes hangin out, pluggin in and lettin 'er rip!

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

That's tough because most movies I love are very connected to their soundtracks. It would be great to do the soundtrack for something like Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill or a Tarantino movie... hang out with RZA and get loose!

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

I think I've answered this before, I'd have to go with Dopesmoker. It's obviously long, but there are many layers to that song, dimensions may even be a better word. Besides, I'm going to see Sleep tomorrow in NYC so I got em on the brain!

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I see music as art, I think it should evoke emotion in people, be it good or bad. It should also make you think. My political perspective was partly shaped through the lyrics of bands like Dead Kennedys, COC and Public Enemy. At the same time, I try and always remember that you still gotta entertain people. It's fuckin rock n roll man, gotta have fun with it! I fucking HATE bands that take themselves too seriously. I just dig heavy music....

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

One time, many years ago at a show in NYC at The Continental. It was my band, gaggle of cocks, debut CD release party. First riff, opening song, I jump in the air as the drums and bass come in... fall backwards and wipeout the drum kit. Normally I'd play through that shit, but it was too heinous, we had to do a re-take.

Fast forward 12 years...

This past March, playing a birthday party in Oswego, NY. We were playing a new song called So Tired. Real big extended jam with a climactic ending. I lose my place somewhere in the middle of the jam, fall backwards into my stack of amps... wipe out the whole thing and fall off the side of the stage. As I lay there, I still hear noise coming out of the amps, so I kept playing. The band kept going as I rose from the pile and got to the mic just in time to sing out the big climactic ending to a room full of people with wide eyed amazement. Rock and roll!

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans? 

At the very least, gigs can be simply a solid hang with some groovy music and good people. At their best, they can illicit an almost transcendental experience. Geezer tends to live in the moment, no real set lists, a lot of improvisation... we feel our way around, looking for those nuggets of brilliance. Sometimes we find them, sometimes we don't, but we almost always enjoy the ride!

What makes a great song?

Groove. Feel. Riffs!

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

I don't remember, but I'm sure it was awful.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Thankfully, I've been fortunate enough to record a lot of music, with a lot of different people and I still dig on most of it, but as a guitarist, songwriter and producer, Geezer's EP "Gage" may be my proudest moment. It was made for next to nothing, by the seat of our pants, almost totally improvised. Most of the songs didn't even exist before we recorded them. Considering the circumstances, the performances were outstanding! Freddy, Turco and I laid it all out there... spontaneously! From day one, this album was meant to be a challenge and I believe we rose to the occasion.

It was always meant to be released on vinyl. Having STB Records step up and give us the first class treatment was huge! Then having Ripple Music come in and pick up the album for digital and CD release was icing on the cake! I could not be happier with how it has all come together.

In addition, the album now includes a previously unreleased track, "Tales Of Murder And Unkindness". More than just a bonus track, this song clocks in at just under 15 minutes and is one of the most ambitious songs I've ever worked on. We tried new things musically and lyrically and the production was one of the most complicated I've ever been involved with. Thankfully our engineer and "4th member" Matthew Cullen kept things from flying off into oblivion. As usual, he does all the hard work and I take all the credit. I think this song will really turn some heads.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Through the podcast I do, Electric Beard Of Doom, I'm exposed to a shit-ton of fantastic new music. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with everything. All Them Witches are just incredible, new level shit. Mount Carmel write songs that could sound just as good with one guy singing and playing an acoustic guitar. Wo Fat, holy shit, THAT'S the kind of band I've always wanted to hear. The Midnight Ghost Train are a powerhouse! Mothership's new album is a game-changer! Monolord's album is sonically vicious... Gozu fuckin rule! Egypt... Sons Of Otis... Elder!

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Vinyl junkie... bona fide!

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

For years man, PBR tall boys with a couple shots of Jack Daniels... dig it!

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

We got a couple round these parts. Darkside in Poughkeepsie... Rhino Records and Jack's Rhythms in New Paltz, plus we got 2 new ones in Kingston! Rocket Number Nine and Rhine Records II (which currently carries some of the last available Geezer vinyl).

What's next for the band? 

The vinyl release was such a success, we're still kind of buzzing off that! Four different vinyl editions were released through STB Records and they've all SOLD OUT. A few are still lingering around at Kozmik Artifacts for our European fans. The band will have a limited number available through our Bandcamp page in the coming weeks so keep an ear out for that as well! All in all, we are just so grateful for all the support we've gotten from our fans and the underground heavy scene in general, it's been a great ride so far!

Now that the EP has the chance to reach an even larger audience through the World Wide release on Ripple, the possibilities are endless!

We got a bunch of great new merch hitting the streets as well! Including a sick new logo patch and a brand new LiVE cassette which also includes a brand new song!Check it all out on our Bandcamp page!

We also just finished mixing 4 new songs for a as-yet-unannounced split! Can't tell you anything more than that, except to say that we are totally stoked on the new tunes, the band we're working with totally fucking rocks and it will be released on one of the finest underground labels out there! So keep an eye out!

After that, the big goal is to get to Europe for the spring festivals next year! So Roadburn, Desertfest(s), Freak Valley... feel free to contact me with any inquiries! We'd really love to take this out on the road for all our European fans!

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Thanks for all the continued support! Geezer was never meant to be or do anything, it is only through the support of all these great fans from all over the world that keeps us going and keeps us growing. We can't thank you enough! I'd also like to thank all the blogs, internet radio, podcasts and everyone else who contributes to the heavy underground for all their support as well. There are a lot of really cool things happening nowadays in heavy music and we're just happy to be even a small part of that. Keep it heavy man, dig it!
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