Saturday, October 22, 2016

Small Stone Records – Double Take

Over two years ago we featured a “Double Take” review of two records, both residing in Small Stone Records manor. The label has undergone some turmoil since then; including a flooded out basement, some turnover with bands, but what remains is the fact that the bands who call Small Stone home are still ridiculously good. After pre-ordering both these fantastic records on vinyl, I figure I’d bring the feature back. What remains the same is the rawk, what is different is the vinyl are being pressed via Cargo Records in Germany and take the form as an import to the US customers with only 50 available in the US store. Just a fair warning, I still haven’t received either of my pre-orders despite the records being released. Prior SS releases usually showed up on time, if not prior to release for pre-order customers. Minor gripe, but I’m confident the packages will get here eventually and the price remains constant as the US distribution of past. 

Take 1:
Captain Crimson – Remind

Although that couch looks rather uncomfortable it reminds us of the past, the present and the future, namely of rock and roll in the context of this article. Captain Crimson ensures no matter what you rest your weary soul upon the new album sweeps you into a state of comfort popularized by the Swedish retro stoner rawk style. Yes, Captain Crimson are from Sweden as well and prove the water over there does in fact contain minerals fortifying the ability to crank out consistently heavy ass grooves, hot and steamy choruses, and carpet burning bass lines. What impressed me most with the record is how consistently pleasing each song plays through, no filler all killer they say. Intricate riffs such as the opening blaze of ‘Black Rose’, to the dreamy psych-driven ballad of ‘Money’ Remind, reminds us of all states of mind, particularly carrying us away to a more pleasant space and time. The more this album plays the better it gets. Blues licks drip from the retro curtains as the cuckoo riffs clock your walls with nostalgia and vocal harmonies blanket the airwaves like Grandma’s quilt on a foggy morning. Don’t forget the songs structure which paints a pattern of symmetry rivaled by none other than the album cover itself. You must pick it up as on the Small Stone scale Captain Crimson may very well weigh in as the heaviest most deluxe record on the Small Stone shelf in years. Not an immediate grabber, Remind takes its sweet time to slowly infect the listener being able to pull the attention in varied states of mind. Some records only sound good in certain moods. Remind is so powerful it will change your mood from its current state to a state of bewilderment, surely a great record for a weekend gathering, poker night out, early morning highway blaster, or even living room background tunes. Speaking of living room, my flooring needs a retroactive makeover, and the clock is ticking. Come on guys, ship me my vinyl already! I’m dying.

Take 2:

Långfinger - Crossyears

Making their Small Stone debut is the band I just discovered via this pre-order. Långfinger rock the power trio format and come at us from Gothenburg, Sweden which by definition means they bring a heavy retro blues to the game. They’ve been together since they were teens and Crossyears is their 3rd full length album. I was so intrigued, not only by the preview track available that I had to scope out their past discography which fellow revolutionaries gave high recommendations for. I found a killer complete vinyl set available from the band which is always hard to pass up as a record collector and music addict. It’s sitting on my shelf now waiting for Crossyears to find its way home, and boy or boy is it cool. Crossyears maintains the full tilt retro boogie of the early material on their Small Stone showcase. The vocals remain charismatic, utilizing a faintly reverb induced melody crackling with spiritual blues. The riffs are catchy, the songs are dynamic and flow well throughout ranging from 70’s arena rock to blistering heavy blues riddled with solos and packed with rhythmic groove. They remind me a bit of The Who in parts with a more modern stoner edge instrumentally at least. The vocals are damn catchy as are the chorus lines and rhythm section to die for. Anthem after anthem are delivered, averaging around that 3-5 minute classic song length mark for 10 solid songs, with the exception of the blues based scorcher ‘Atlas’ melting the listener for over 7-minutes directly at the midway mark of the album. Acting as a breather between the high energy first half of the record, ‘Atlas’ slow burns Pink Floydian space rock into its retro boogie atmosphere with a healthy dose of the organ, grandiose opening guitar leads and bluesy vocal croonage slowly and elegantly building back and forth between angelic melodies to hot and heady rawk n roll. The album is a stone cold modern classic after it sinks in and demonstrates Långfinger are at the top of their game and are in no position of giving up. Let’s hope the trend continues and Small Stone keeps up the taste they’re known for giving us these random treats every now and then. 

Although Small Stone has appeared to struggle in recent times with perhaps lack of marketing or lost motivation these two records prove that they are still indeed the pioneers and true icons in the heavy underground stoner-rawk scene. You can stream both records as well as all the other releases up at the Small Stone bandcamp page and hurry up if you want to grab a vinyl edition, they won’t likely be repressed anytime soon.  I can attest they are always sexy as fuck!

-The Huntsman

Listen and/or purchase below.


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