Thursday, August 21, 2014

SkyAcre - Sacred Ground




Every once in a while a totally random album strikes a nerve. With me it's usually something that is slightly abnormal yet possesses bits and pieces of several styles that I enjoy to a satisfying level. SkyAcre became that band early last month after I discovered them on Bandcamp.

Sacred Ground hits that sweet spot by combining grungy desert groove, indie rock flair and punky psychedelic rhythm. They didn't send a promo. They weren't asking for attention per say, but the music absolutely demands it. This is seriously invigorating stuff here folks. I've wanted to write up a little some'n some'n for a while but just hadn't yet found the words. Nor did I really, just a bit of rambling here….

The songs typically start out a little easy going from the smooth bass, gentle precise riffs and soft vocals veering into a rather angular post-punkish/mathy direction which scenically captures a panoramic soundscape accessible to even the most audibly handicapped. A heavy western flair lurks within the majority of the record pairing comfortably with the soothingly gruff vocal cries. Mild guitar distortion flashes like heavy eyes baking in a shadeless haze during the mid 1990's. The instruments all come together full circle keeping the band from falling victim to any sort of genre pigeon-holing. The vocals have a convincing tone with a variable volume that keeps listeners at bay.

Songs like "Steps on Sacred Ground" are a perfect example of what I'm getting at. Smooth and sexy opening with a gentle vocal whisper morphing into a haunting fetish of grunge laced fuzzorama.
The band lists a variety of influences on their Facebook profile which are definitely evident including Sonic Youth, Pixies, Nirvana, The Beatles and Black Sabbath. I could argue throw equal parts in the blender; add a little lemon zest and you have yourself a SkyAcre cocktail. Pretty potent stuff and goes down smooth. I'm a fan, bought the CD which came with some swag including a fridge magnet of the cover art, which I have on my fridge right now next to a couple other band magnets I've randomly collected. That says quite a bit right there. Only the best sounding bands are worthy of holding up pics of the kids on the fridge. If they sucked they would not be on my fridge; the band’s magnet that is.

Let us know how you liked it. You did go straight to the link to push play correct? Well, it'd be a lot cooler if you did.

-The Huntsman

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

LO-PAN: Ohio Riff Bringers Premiere New Tune Via Noisey; Tour With Black Cobra To Commence Next Week



With a tour supporting Black Cobra just one week away and a brand new record, the fittingly titled Colossus, on the horizon, Ohio riff bringers LO-PAN are pleased to uncork opening track, "Regulus," via Noisey.

Elaborates vocalist Jeff Martin of the tune, "'Regulus' is the brightest star in the Leo constellation. It's a multiple system consisting of four stars. 'Regulus' is also Latin for 'prince' or 'little king.' The song is about a dream I had. In the dream I lived on a planet in the regulus system and the star was about to explode. The planet is about to be destroyed. And I'm reflecting on life as a whole facing the knowledge that I'm about to die basically."

Adds Noisey: "Colossus is a great name... In one breath it handily evokes images of majesty, grandeur, and past glories... It hints at hard-won battles and blood seeping into foreign sands, of rough-hewn idols and monoliths crumbling into the foaming sea. It paints a pretty goddamn inspiring picture. That being said, on a less romantic level, Colossus also slots neatly into doom's obsession with really big... things. Ours is a world populated by behemoths and mastodons, dying giants, sea lords, and elder gods, whose exploits and flights of fancy are riffed sweatily into existence by big burly dudes encircled by halos of amplifier tubes. It's larger than life, and if it's done right, it's way too much for your shitty foam earplugs to handle. It's awesome."

Check out "Regulus" before your imminent demise, now playing at Vice's sound portal at THIS LOCATION.

Named for the Colossus of Rhodes - a ninety-six-foot statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun, Helios, constructed in 280 BC to mark a failed siege and the indomitable nature of the Greek city of Rhodes itself - LO-PAN's fourth full-length, Colossus, serves as their most personal composition to date and a true testament to their evolution as a band. Having honed their musicianship through perpetual touring and partnering with producer/engineer Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Rosetta, East Of The Wall et al) at his Translator Audio Studio in Brooklyn, the Columbus four-piece knew exactly what they wanted out of this recording. Together they belted out ten smolderingly soulful psalms that reveal just how much they've moved beyond their influences to arrive at their own sound - a style built on aggression without caricature, fuzz without cliché, melody without redundancy and their meanest groove to date.

As a precursor to the release of Colossus, LO-PAN will take to the streets next week on a gargantuan live excursion alongside San Francisco volume perpetrators, Black Cobra. The trek will commence in Phoenix on August 28th and wind through nearly three dozen cities, with additional LO-PAN headlining shows added to the jaunt. See confirmed dates below.

LO-PAN w/ Black Cobra:
8/28/2014 Club Red - Phoenix, AZ
8/29/2014 Sister - Albuquerque, NM
8/30/2014 Conservatory - Oklahoma City, OK
8/31/2014 Doublewide - Dallas, TX
9/01/2014 Silver Dollar - Texarkana, AR *
9/02/2014 Red 7 - Austin, TX
9/03/2014 Fitzgeralds - Houston, TX
9/04/2014 Siberia - New Orleans, LA
9/05/2014 Handlebar - Pensacola, FL
9/06/2014 Orpheum - Tampa, FL
9/07/2014 Gramps - Miami, FL
9/08/2014 Back Booth - Orlando, FL
9/09/2014 529 - Atlanta, GA
9/10/2014 The Mothlight - Asheville, NC
9/11/2014 Chop Shop - Charlotte, NC
9/12/2014 Strange Matter - Richmond, VA
9/13/2014 The Pinch - Washington, DC
9/14/2014 Dusk - Providence, RI
9/15/2014 Nectars - Burlington, VT
9/16/2014 TT The Bears - Boston, MA
9/17/2014 Kung Fu Necktie - Philadelphia, PA
9/18/2014 Saint Vitus - New York, NY
9/19/2014 Lost Horizon - Syracuse, NY
9/20/2014 Bug Jar - Rochester, NY
9/21/2014 The Outpost - Kent, OH *
9/22/2014 Howlers - Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2014 Reggie's - Chicago, IL
9/24/2014 7th St Entry - Minneapolis, MN
9/26/2014 Replay - Lawrence, KS
9/27/2014 Lost Lake Lounge - Denver, CO
9/28/2014 Burt's Tiki Bar - Salt Lake City, UT
9/29/2014 Dive Bar - Las Vegas, NV
9/30/2014 The Alley - Sparks, NV
10/01/2014 The Garage - Ventura, CA
10/02/2014 New Parish - Oakland, CA
10/04/2014 Downtown Lounge - Tulsa, OK *
*LO-PAN headlining date/No Black Cobra

Colossus will be released via Small Stone October 7th, 2014.

"With enough stoner rock goodness to destroy bridges and skyscrapers alike, LO-PAN show that they are one of several absolutely essential rock outfits working today and a major force to be reckoned with." - Sputnik Music

http://www.lopandemic.com
http://www.facebook.com/lopandemic?fref=ts
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords?fref=ts

ALL THEM WITCHES RELEASE LIGHTNING AT THE DOOR ON SEPT. 16



JOIN WINDHAND FOR U.S. TOUR; PLAY NASHVILLE’S LIVE ON THE GREEN

SINGLE “CHARLES WILLIAM” STREAMING NOW VIA SOUNDCLOUD

All Them Witches, the Nashville-based quartet who made waves in underground psych circles when their 2012 debut album Our Mother Electricity received praise from Roadburn and a rerelease via Stefan Koglek’s Electrohasch Records, return with Lightning At The Door, on Sept. 16.

The album’s first single, “Charles Williams,” is already enjoying airplay at WRLT and was featured in the band’s recent Daytrotter session.  All Them Witches have made the song available for streaming/embeds via Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/allthemwitchesband/charles-william).

The eight-song album finds the young band’s sound much more evolved, merging their psych-background with the rustic inspiration their stomping grounds afford.  A sweaty, Southern rock outing, the band was so inspired during the demo process they recorded Lightning At The Door in mere days.  “We tracked everything live in the same room,” explains singer/bass player Michael Parks, Jr.  “We got a lot of bleed form the mics and the amps being together.  Everything felt organic.”

The album comes as the band is in the midst of an extensive North American tour, with stops at Nashville’s Live on the Green (Aug. 28), the Midpoint Music Festival (Sept. 26 in Cincinnati), Day of the Shred (Nov. 1 in Santa Ana) and also includes a two-week span with Windhand (Sept. 4 to 21).

All Them Witches tour dates:

August 21     New York, NY     Mercury Lounge
August 22     Philadelphia, PA     Milkboy Philly
August 23     Stroudsberg, PA     Sherman Theater
August 24     Richmond, VA     Strange Matter
August 28     Nashville, TN     Live on the Green
September 4     Baltimore, MD     Ottobar
September 5     Pittsburgh, PA     31st Pub
September 6     Akron, OH     Musica
September 7     Columbus, OH     The Basement
September 9     Iowa City, IA    Gabe’s
September 10     Chicago, IL     Cobra Lounge
September 11    Minneapolis, MN     Triple Rock Social club
September 12    Cudahy, WI     Metal Grill
September 13    Ferndale, MI     The Loving Touch
September 14     Toronto, ON    Coda
September 16     Ottawa, ON     Café Dekcuf
September 17     Montreal, QC     Petit Campus
September 18     Cambridge, MA     The Middle East Upstairs
September 19     Providence, RI     AS220
September 20     Brooklyn, NY     Saint Vitus
September 21     Ithaca, NY     The Dock
September 26     Cincinnati, OH     Midpoint Music Festival
November 1     Santa Ana, CA     Day of the Shred

All Them Witches is Ben McLeod (guitar), Michael Parks, Jr. (vocals/bass), Robby Staebler (drums) and Allan Van Cleave (Fender Rhodes).

-30-

www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
www.twitter.com/allthemwitches
www.allthemwitches.org

ELECTRIC WIZARD REVEAL NEW TRACK "SADIOWITCH" VIA PITCHFORK



UK HEADLINE SHOW ANNOUNCED FOR OCT. 23 IN MANCHESTER

  Electric Wizard have revealed a second track, "SadioWitch," from their forthcoming full-length album Time to Die (Spinefarm Records, Sept. 30) via Pitchfork (http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/17051-electric-wizard-sadiowitch/).

Featuring the line 'the black drug took my soul away," "SadioWitch" will be accompanied by a video, which is currently being edited. Little is known about the clip, although it is believed to feature (encouragingly) both "nudity" and "explosions."

"SadioWitch is about death by lust and indulgence. As life becomes disillusioning it is reassuring to turn to 'life's luxuries'... sex and drugs. But, of course, overindulgence leads to emaciation, weakness and death. The song is short and sweet just like this particular form of death. There are many choices but only one outcome. Choose wisely..." - Jus Oborn

A limited edition 7" version of SadioWitch is also being planned, with a previously unreleased piece of music on the B-side.

Time to Die is the eighth full-length offering from the masters of aural punishment, and their first album release since signing a worldwide deal with Spinefarm Records.

A UK headline show has been announced for Oct. 23 at The Ritz in Manchester.  Tickets are available here: http://www.seetickets.com/event/electric-wizard/the-ritz/808239.  A full supporting bill will be announced shortly.

All official Electric Wizard pre-order bundles are now live at www.ElectricFuckinWizard.com, featuring limited numbers of vinyl, CD, t-shirt, back-patch and pin badge packages.

Electric Wizard, who recently played headline slots at a number of major European festivals, including Hellfest (France), Roskilde (Denmark) and Sonisphere (UK), have the following appearances lined up for 2014, with more shows to be added:

Sept. 12     Valada, Portugal     Reverence (headline with Hawkwind)
Oct. 10     Antwerp, Belgium     Desertfest
Oct. 23     Manchester, UK     The Ritz

-30-

www.facebook.com/electricwizarddorsetdoom
www.youtube.com/user/ElectricFuckinWizard

Post-Grand Atlantic - Psychedelic Pop via Brisbane, featuring The Valery Trails, Sacred Shrines and Morgann Hann

Any long-time waverider knows the addictive psychedelic pop of Brisbane's Grand Atlantic.  We've been championing them for years, ever since the release of their mind-blowing "How We Survive" CD.  We even went so far as to release a split 7" with them and Sky Parade on the then fledgling Ripple Music Label.  The boys went on to gain no small amount of acclaim, touring the US and Japan while having songs picked up for some major TV shows.

But alas, all good things come to an end and after 10 years together, the boys amicably called it a day.   But they remain good friends and life-long musicians so that means many new projects were destined to come.  And they did.

Having recently been in Brisbane for the We All Want To show, I was happily taken aback by the warmth and closeness of the Brisbane indy-rock community.  That sense of family makes itself abundantly clear on these three stellar releases from down under. with guest appearances and intermingling.   So let's explore what's been happening since Grand Atlantic's final show.



The Valery Trails - Buffalo Speedway

Not a Grand Atlantic spin-off by any means, but The Valery Trails is the band/brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist Andrew Bower, big brother to Grand Atlantic's Sean Bower.  The Valery Trails is Andrew's outlet for his evocative, gently psychedelic tales of desperation and longing.  I'd previously reviewed the Valery Trails debut album, "Ghosts and Gravity" and as much as I liked it, in truth "Buffalo Speedway" is heads and shoulders above the debut.

Each moment of "Buffalo Speedway" is a journey down some misty road of mood and nuance with something surprising lurking just around each corner.  Andrew has developed leaps and bounds as both a songwriter and guitarist since the debut.  He still maintains his languid vocal style that slowly drags me in like a cloudy dream.  His guitar works shimmers and glistens over the impeccable bass of brother Sean and drummer Dan McNaulty.  Guest vocals by We  All Want To's Skye Staniford are an angelic presence, as on the final cut "Rise and Fall" -- the lilting of her gorgeous voice perfectly complimenting and emoting Andrew's own tones.  She helps to fill in spaces and adds another ethereal layer to the songs.

In addition to the presence of Skye, We All Want to is warmly represented by drummer Dan and vocals and outstanding production for Tim Steward.  Working the dials with The Valery Trails, they combine talents to create an album that is energetic at times and unhurried at others.  Always gorgeous.  Always mesmerizing.

Grand Atlantic is also richly represented her by brother Sean's throbbing bass and keyboards by Morgan Hann.

Simply a gorgeous album from start to finish.  And a special nod has to be given to the title track "Buffalo Speedway" as both the rockingest cut on the album, but also on a personal level as I used to live just off Buffalo Speedway in Houston myself.  If there was ever a street name that begged to be a song title, this is it.  Cheers Andrew.  Well done.





Sacred Shrines - Apollo b/w Hung On Your Wall

So, if Sean and Morgan are helping out on The Valery Trails, let's check in with the other two Grand Atlantic alum, Phil Usher and Mat Von Diehm.  Together, they're working their new project, the spirited garage/psychedelic/fuzz rock of Sacred  Shrines.  About to open for The Dandy Warhols, the Sacred Shrines have released their first 7" and it's a damn corker!

"Apollo" builds upon the legacy of immaculate songcraft that Phil established with Grand Atlantic, taking a tangential road from their more psychedelic "Constellations" album.  Phil always was an absolute master of melody and hooks, and all of his trademarked craft is on display here.  Yes, it's bold, and loud, and trippy and lost in an acrid haze of feedback fuzz, but still, "Apollo" is infinitely singable and as voracious as an earworm drilling deep into my auditory cortex.  Mat holds down the back end with aplomb driving the distorted guitar deeper and deeper into my grey matter.  A mind-warping rocker!

"Hung On Your Wall" turns the volume down to a post-sixties, garage psych shimmering ballad.  I've always loved the gravel of Phil's voice and here, Skye Staniford makes another guest appearance, adding texture and feeling to Phil's chorus.   Whereas, "Apollo" rocked fiercely, "Hung On Your Wall" lilts and dips and rises and floats upon it's feedback drenched guitars and shimmering hues.

Sacred Shrines list 13th Floor Elevators, The Electric Prunes, Love, Soundtrack of Our Lives, and The Seeds as their influences.  So if any of this resonates with you, don't hesitate to pick up the 7".  This is top-notch garage psych to trip into.





Morgan Hann - You & Me

Not one to be left on the sidelines, Morgan Hann, former guitarist for Grand Atlantic, checks back in with his first collection of solo songs, the "You & Me EP."  Perhaps, this release came as the biggest surprise to me.   I've known and loved Morgs for years, but have always known him as an incredibly talented sideman, breaking out on 12-strings breaks for Grand Atlantic and the occasional keyboard fill-in. 

What I didn't know was that he was a songwriter of no-small talent, able to bring emotion and melody easily into his personal confessions.  I also had no idea how smooth and accomplished he was as a vocalist.  Now the whole world will know.

As the video for "You & Me" demonstrates, Morgan is simply at ease as a solo artist, freeing from his soul emotive images that simply hang and drip upon his melodies and expressive voice.  This is Sunday Am music with a vengeance.  Lush and spartan, energized and calm.  A cup of coffee, the morning paper and "You & Me" and I'd call it a winner of a day.

The rest of the EP is just as easy.  From the delicate acoustic strumming of opener "I Think We're Gonna Rule the World," to the dream-like "If I Could Walk Away" the nomadic-hobo lazy days of "Easy Way Out" to the fragile "Moving On."   Morgs plays every note and sings every word on the album.  A true solo effort and one definitely worth exploring.




Funeral Horse Tour Dates / New Album


 

Made up of front man/guitarist Paul Bearer, bassist Jason Andy Argonauts and drummer Chris Larmour, Houston’s Funeral Horse are offhand in their attitude to technical virtuosity. Whether rocking their way through dark blues or dissonant experimentation Sinister Rites Of The Master is unapologetically thunderous.

Following on from last year’s Savage Audio Demon, Sinister Rites… is released this month on Artificial Head Records. An imprint that to date has seen releases from fellow Texans and garage convivialists The Escatones, David Gedge’s much-loved Cinerama and the criminally undersung post-punk outfit Art Institute.

Under the influence, this current assembly of unholy noisemakers produce music to gouge minds to. Murky and fuzzed out, punk by execution but unmistakably proto-metal in mass and volume the album peddles the sort of sounds you might find at the angrier end of a Sub Pop or Touch and Go discography. A shot in the vein of Tad via Mudhoney’s raw megaphonic vocals (‘Until The Last Nation Falls’, ‘Amputate The Hands Of Thieves’) Funeral Horse also take in the vintage and lo-fi grind of traditional stoner, and even classic rock, as best heard on their storming cover of Rush’s ‘Working Man’.


LISTEN/DOWNLOAD ‘Until The Last Nation Falls’ via SoundCloud

Sinister Rites Of The Master by Funeral Horse is released this week as a hand numbered/multi-coloured 12” vinyl (limited to 333 copies) and can be purchased from www.funeralhorse.bandcamp.com. The band also take to the road over the coming weeks to promote the album, more details of which you can find below.

'SINISTER RITES' TOUR DATES:
8/20 – Rubber Gloves (Denton, TX)
8/21 – Downtown Lounge (Tulsa, OK)
8/22 – Kirby's Beer Store (Wichita, KS)
8/23 – Surfside 7 (Fort Collins, CO)
8/24 – Burt's Tiki Lounge (Salt Lake City, UT)
8/26 – Studio on 4th (Reno, NV)
8/27 – Eli's Mile High Club (Oakland, CA)
8/28 – Caravan Lounge (San Jose, CA)
8/29 – Black Flame Collective (San Bernardino, CA)
8/30 – The Bashful Bandit (Tucson, AZ)
8/31 – Grynde Bar (El Paso, TX)
9/3 – Fitzgerald's (Houston) -- opening for Black Cobra and Lo Pan
9/6 – Artificial Head Records - Knight's in Satan's Service (KISS compilation) Record Release
9/7 – Get sued by Gene Simmons for Knight's in Satan's Service (KISS compilation) Record Release


Artificial Head Records is a record and tape label based in Houston, TX.  The label was founded in 2009 by members of the experimental punk band, Right Speaker Heavy, and started out releasing music by Space City Gamelan, Rusted Shut, Right Speaker Heavy and Future Blondes. It later evolved into releasing "legit" vinyl and tape releases by the post punk band, Art Institute, the drunken garage rock of The Escatones and a split 7" by Giant Battle Monster & Ken South Rock. The label couples (mostly) Houston area bands with original artwork by Internationally renown artists such as Savage Pencil, Doug Mac, Sean Aaberg, Raymond Pettibon, Jeff Lamm, and Raymond Ahn.
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Small Stone Records Destroyed By Floods; Fundraiser Launched

Last week, debilitating storms dumped flood water throughout the Detroit area, including the offices of Small Stone Records, label home of Sasquatch, Wo Fat, Greenleaf, Lord Fowl, Dixie Witch, Roadsaw and so many others. Gear and product were both destroyed and insurance is only going to go so far, so we're coming together to help Scott Hamilton from Small Stone with some of the massive expense of cleaning up from this flood. Hamilton's support for heavy music in the near two-decades that he's run Small Stone has never wavered and this is a chance to help somebody who's helped us by enriching our lives with great bands and great riffs.

A recent post by The Obelisk details, "It was painful last week to see the pictures of the Small Stone Records offices, flooded out from powerful storms that tore through the Detroit area. Still sealed label product floating through dirty water, files and CDs, the fruit of countless hours of work on the part of label owner Scott Hamilton, simply ruined. In one of the pictures, however, you can also see a floating vacuum cleaner, and that's also important, because it reminds us that more even than being where kickass riffs come from, this is somebody's home.

Scott is somebody whose tastes and whose efforts have helped greatly to shape the course of American heavy rock in the last decade-plus. Whether you're a fan of Dixie Witch or roadsaw or Sasquatch or Wo Fat or anyone else on his enviable roster, chances are even if you don't listen to those bands, someone in a band you listen to does. Small Stone has become the standard-bearer, and you can see the influence it has had not only in bands going for 'that Small Stone sound,' but also in labels who have come up in the last several years wanting to support the music they're passionate about in a similar way.

But again, this is about more than music. It's Scott's house too, and that's why it's so important that this community comes together to help him out. You and I are part of a worldwide subculture. Don't believe me? Go to a show anywhere and look around you. It's the same every place you go, and that's no mistake. One of our own - someone who's directly participated in making this weird, ongoing thing to which we belong - needs our help. Frankly, that should be enough to make you want to get involved."

Donations are being taken through the middle of next month, but since it's a water cleanup process and there's the ever-present threat of mold, time's a factor.
To donate point your browser to THIS LOCATION. Every bit helps. Thank you for your support.

How I Came To Love Rock 'N Roll



I recall sitting in my grandparents' living room in Linden, N.J.  I was all of four or five years old.  It was the first time I played with a Victrola.

My grandfather had a box of records - old 78's and more recent 45's.  He showed me how to put the disks on the spindle, click the automated arm button, and let them miraculously drop and play.  Most of the vinyl was old.  Some of it was red, some green, as if printed for Christmas distribution.  Some of the 78's were very thick.  This was an eclectic collection of recordings that virtually retraced the history of the vinyl single through the early, early pre-Beatles 1960's.  There were works by Enrico Caruso, Country Joe Turner, Doris Day, Al Jolson, Fats Domino, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Sammy Davis, Glenn Miller, the Andrew Sisters and many more.  However, among the seven inchers there was one that delighted me and I couldn't stop playing it. It was, then, a more recent purchase, the 1957 Little Richard single - Tutti Frutti/Long Tall Sally.

I didn't understand a word on the A or B side.  "Tutti frutti, au-rutti." I had yet to start kindergarten. 

"Tutti Frutti" was originally a strip joint, grinder song penned by Mr. Penniman. He changed the lyrics when he recorded it to make the song more marketable to the sexually repressed white audiences of the day.  The repetition of the nonsensical chorus gave it meaning.  The wild, raw voice of Little Richard gave the original idea full expression in the watered down recording.  The frenetic sax and piano humping-based band sold it.

"Long Tall Sally," the "B" side, was no different.   It was about sex.  Back then I had no idea.  I was barely out of diapers.  It was vibrant, mysterious and fun, and my father hated it:

                        "Well, Long Tall Sally,
                        She's built for speed,
                        She's got everything that Uncle John needs."

I remember Dad yelled "turn that crap off."  It startled me, and Grandpa, and I cowered.  My father insisted on "something good like Stan Kenton or Ella Fitzgerald."  I recall how I listened dispassionately to the jazz as my feet continued to tap out Penniman's beats.  I received my father's stern look and a reprimand to sit still and listen.

Fortunately, I was with my grandparents because my parents were set to go out without me.  Grandpa and Grandma were my babysitters for the evening. As soon as my parents left, Grandpa again handed me the Little Richard single, along with Jerry Lee Lewis' 45 version of "Whole Lotta Of Shakin' Going On," Elvis's "Teddy Bear" and The Everly Brothers' "Bird Dog."  We played record after record until my bedtime. 

That is where my rock 'n roll love affair began.  Like then, usually, I still don't get the lyrics and it still doesn't matter.  "A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam bom."

- Old School

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ripple Hardware Review - VPI Nomad



 

Spending an afternoon in the listening room of Nashville based Prestige Audio is always a pleasure I look forward to immensely. Alex, the owner, is a kind, patient soul and has no problem spending hours listening to my eclectic tastes in heavy, classic music. Prestige Audio is a distributor for many audiophile manufacturers including Totem Acoustic, Hegel, KEF, Rogue Audio, Pro-Ject, VPI Industries and Paradigm and Alex was gracious enough to let me have a few hours to give VPI’s latest turntable, the Nomad, a thorough testing.

VPI Industries is an American turntable manufacturer located in New Jersey that has built a solid reputation among vinyl lovers by providing reasonably priced, technically superb products for nearly forty years. Their old school commitment to quality has been paramount to their success, and I was very excited to finally enjoy one of their tables in person.

The test set-up we used was an audiophile’s dream, powered by a Herculean Hegel amplifier and Totem Acoustic towers that hover right around the five digit dollar mark. Add a few thousand more for interconnects, speaker cabling, line conditioning and a pre-amp, and we were able to fairly isolate the performance of the Nomad.

VPI bills the Nomad as the “first all in one high-end entry level turntable” for good reason. It skilfully incorporates an internal phonostage and quality  headphone amplifier into a sleek, but durable package that is exceedingly simple to set up and have your wax spinning before finishing off your first adult beverage.

The durability and overall simplicity  is also evident in the gimbaled/yoke bearing tonearm sporting classic stainless steel and aluminum, capped by the widely popular Ortofon 2M red cartridge and throughout the rugged, black casing. The package also comes standard with a machined mdf platter and fabric slip mat.

My go-to vinyl for testing is the 200 gram 2002 pressing of Norah Jones Come Away With Me from Classic Records. Frankly, it sounds good on just about any turntable, but it really provides an opportunity to let the hardware breathe and exploit the nuances that good vinyl can provide.

The Nomad performed admirably, in fact, it performed exactly at the mark a high-end entry level turntable should. It was able to produce a vivid dynamic range and broad, warm tone throughout the album both through the Totem towers, as well as, with headphones. While it was certainly no match for it’s big brother, the Traveler, in range or tone, I just have to wonder how much of that can be attributed to the use of a higher quality cartridge on the Traveler.

For me, one of the largest benefits to entry level hi-fi, is the ability to upgrade, and I think any Nomad owner could easily and affordably enhance the sound by upgrading the cartridge and mat down the road, getting much closer to the performance of the pricier tables.

After a couple hours of play time on the Nomad, it was evident that the convenience of the all in one, complemented by the increased durability and quality of sound make it a serious contender for just about any vinyl lover’s consideration. Clocking in at just under the $1000 mark, and sporting a long history of American craftsmanship from VPI certainly doesn’t hurt either.

If you are after audiophile performance and exceptional value in a simple, well-crafted turntable with built in headphone utility, then this might be your new ride. Stellar product indeed.
@Oldfatbroke

All photo credits Jim Ribeiro
Special thanks to Prestige Audio Nashville and VPI Industries

Records used in testing:
Norah Jones Come Away With Me Classic Records 2002
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here Columbia 1975
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced Reprise Records 1967
Spelljammer Vol 2 STB Records 2013
Shooting Guns Brotherhood of the Ram (diehard version) Easyrider Records 2013

Sunday, August 17, 2014

APE MACHINE and BLACKWITCH PUDDING featured on the Doomed & Stoned In Portland compilation




The blog Doomed & Stoned has put together an extensive compilation of underground heavy bands in Portland, Oregon, which features Ape Machine's "Angry Man" and Blackwitch Pudding's "Swamp Gas Of The Nevermizer."

From the site's founder, Billy Goat:

"Portland, Oregon is known for many things--it's the "Rose City," clustered around the mighty Willamette River and nearby Mt. Hood, the home of Nike and the Trail Blazers, even a major network television show called Portlandia.  But to the hard working locals, Portland is home two the two big things that really matter: brews and bad-ass rock 'n' roll.  Doomed & Stoned in Portland is a snapshot of the heavy music scene right now in Portland--from the ever-popular Red Fang, Lord Dying, and Toxic Holocaust, to rising stars such as Sons of Huns, Ape Machine, and Drunk Dad.  Most of all, here is a collection of bands with a strong DIY ethic--everything from experimental metal to a distinct brand of Northwest punk to the ultra-heavy metal doom giants like Graves at Sea, Usnea, and Stoneburner.  Not to mention the bands that just like to "Keep Portland Weird" (Blackwitch Pudding, Pinkzilla, Big Black Cloud).  Over 65 bands waiting for you to lend them your ears--and a free download, to boot. You may just discover your next favorite bands."

To experience the 70-track compilation from Portland's underground yourself, head to THIS LOCATION.

Ape Machine links:
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/mangled-by-the-machine
ripple-music.com
apemachine.com
facebook.com/apemachinemusic

Blackwitch Pudding links:
blackwitchpudding.com
blackwitchpudding.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/blackwitchpudding
twitter.com/blackwitchpuddn

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