Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bandcamp Bonanza – 1st Quarter 2016


I say it every year which is, “I say it every year but this year is shaping up to be even better than last year” in music terms of course, and 2016 continues the trend. 2015 was an outstanding year for music and whether it’s the bands themselves being exposed to so much good rock the inspiration is creating a level of competence not seen in recent times, or the fact that the music is just so accessible that the critics and fans are able to weed through the garbage at a high pace and make the decisions themselves as to what is good and what is not, it’s hard to tell. One thing for sure is that rock is not dead. In fact it may be just the beginning of another era of music not heard since the 60’s and 70’s. Here are some highlights I snagged on bandcamp thus far this year. More to come in future edition of the Bandcamp Bonanza  

Wheel in the Sky – Heading for the Night

Wheel in the Sky hit me like a ton of bricks on one Saturday morning earlier this year and ordering the vinyl via The Sign Records bandcamp page ended up being the first thing I did after pouring a cup of coffee. I must have played the album 5 times in a row throughout the day, and play it regularly months later which, oddly enough, is rare in this day and age. The fact that they are from Stockholm, Sweden brings no surprise that they rock with a heavy groove-laden retro approach. This particular album had a little something extra that made it stand out in the crowd of the new wave of retro heavy rock n roll. A very beefy 70’s progressive rock feel, well written melodies with a racy vocal tone and sick ass guitar dueling. 

“Heading for the Night' is heading towards one of my favorite Bandcamp discoveries in some time. Unrelenting 70's proto riffs, 80's inspired tonality, with modern Swedish grooves. At times I hear shades of The Who while others I'm just astonished with the superb execution each and every song exhibits. This is amazing! Vinyl worthy, vinyl ordered.”

Youngblood Supercult – High Plains

Youngblood Supercult was another band that blindsided me out of nowhere. I got a promo copy prior to release and sat on it for a while for whatever reason but when I hit play I realized I had made a rookie mistake of judging the band name before hearing the music. In fact after hearing how great the album was the band name sank in and became a rather cool band name. Anyway, these guys and gal rock hard and with conviction. They have a previous output with a different lead singer that rips as well, but High Plains definitely comes out as an improvement. Be on the lookout for Youngblood Supercult. Here is what I said for them on bandcamp and published in the March Edition of the Doom Charts

“Topeka Kansas 4-piece Youngblood Supercult morph the heavy blues-based, hard-driving classic rock sound of the debut album ‘Season of the Witch’ into a highly intoxicating bend on stoner rock, laced with occult vibes and dripping with super fuzz. ‘High Plains’ summons a mid-western folklore essence forged of heavy groove, dusty riffs and mind bending atmosphere. The psych factor blends its swirling doom soaked rhythm with a sandstone polished vocal tone slugged out by new singer David Merrill. Rumors of a European vinyl pressing later this year are circulating with hopes of getting label support in the USA for a local distribution deal. I’ll tell you this, working with Ripple Music, my ears have been glued to Youngblood Supercult since catching wind of High Plains. Take note of these guys and gal, they have something going on for sure.

The Trikes – aLive EP

This is phenomenal! Hard riffing grooves with the kind of RAWK we are always talking about. All around impressive EP promising a bright future. Listen for yourself, can't afford not to.”

EPs and demos have become more and more my thing, as much as they make me crave more, and it’s enjoyable to see the potential early on and watch bands gain popularity. Call it hipster, call it whatever you want, but there is something super fun about being in on a band before everyone else. The Trikes out of Germany, may have a large following in their native land, and for all I know I am not in front of anyone else? The point being is The Trikes have demonstrated an extremely promising output on their 5-song EP and I urge all of you to take heed and pick up the digital EP for FREE on bandcamp and tell your friends. I’ve warned you, now I expect to see your face below the album on bandcamp.

Imperial Jade – Please Welcome Imperial Jade

Okay so number 4 on today’s list is another band from outside the USA. That’s 3 for 4, this one straight out of Spain.  I ordered the CD of this album, which I normally do not order if a vinyl is offered and/or if the digital is notably lower in price as I don’t typically listen to CDs when the digital is obviously included with bandcamp. However, when I purchased the vinyl was the same price and I paid only for the shipping in addition. Looks like they jacked the price since then, but in their case the music demands attention and fits the rare case of justifying a higher price. Good old fashion rock n roll here folks. The CD is pretty cool. Actually brought it on a road trip to the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta to listen to with Ripple’s own “Racer” back in February. 

Straight up southern fried stoner rawk straight out of the 70's. This covers the hard rock map presenting a triumphantly modern execution of retro blues, commercial rock, and psychedelic groove. For fans of Zeppelin, Small Stone Records, Def Leppard or the thought of a Van Halen meets the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd collaboration! Favorite track: Fire Burning Sound.

Skulldron – Through the Smoke

Skulldron was recommended to me by Wayne Rudell of Fuzz Evil and Powered Wig Machine late last year in a discussion about music and the upcoming Borderland Fuzz Fiesta he was hosting in Tuscon, AZ at the end of February, 2016. They were on the 2015 bill and came with high praise. After one listen I was sold, literally ordered the CD and sealed the digital in my collection to cherish until the internet crashes and burns. I’d like to stress that I listen to dozens of album every day at times and they don’t all sell me on first listen or at all for that matter. Through the Smoke kick off with a hard rock tune showing bits of metal, stoner, blues, and aggressive biker clad rock n roll which throttles on for the duration of the album. In fact, it gets better as it purrs along. Bits of Sabbath worship, elements of Motorhead, with some guitar mastery of the likes of Black Label Society spew out the speakers like foam at a kegger. All those comparisons seem legit all wrapped up into its own southwestern plume of riffs that’s hard not to fall in love with. Outlaw stoner rawk to the max!

“Something about the heavy grooves stirring up dust in the Southwest lately that puts an extra layer of stubble under that beard you never knew you had. Skulldron takes you on a riff ride through the smoke and over the dunes screaming down the desert highway with a skull smashing blend of biker metal, stoner riffs and high octane solos!”

Crazy Bull - The Modern Handbook of Rock Vol. 1
Crazy Bull are another band with only a demo and a string of singles available both on cassette tape and 7-inch vinyl. Ya, you guessed it, I bought them all. Their latest, The Modern Handbook of Rock Vol. 1 insinuates there is more to come and I hope to god there is. Within the handbook we hear the latest progression of an early sounding heavy proto metal with a grizzled vocal chop balancing out the razor sharp melodies riffed by the double guitars. Bits of retro occult flair blended with a bit of psychedelic stoner give this band an easy recommendation for fans ranging from Witch to Black Cowgirl. Again, keep your ears peeled. These guys have a little some’n some’n going on if you ask me. 

“Really digging the heavy retro vibes these guys emit. Hard rocking solos, killer grooves, and burly vocals sounding like a John Bush/Lee Ving protege saturated with reefer smoke. Like Paul mentioned this has evolved nicely from the raw demo material also worth picking up. Deserves your attention.”

Sorry it’s been so long since my last bonanza, seems I am saying that every time as well. Anyway, enjoy and expect more of these in the future. There is an endless amount of rad tunes camping out there in bandcamp. It’s such a great platform. Download the mobile app also if you haven’t already, I use it daily for both listening to my new purchases, items added to my wishlist for evaluation and purchasing physical merchandise. That’s right; you can now purchase vinyl, CDs, and merch from the bandcamp site straight within the app itself. How convenient!!

 -The Huntsman

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