Welcome to Slab City, courtesy of Steak.

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“I do like Steak. They’re the real deal. They’re mean. They’re lifers.”

If that quote from Mr. John Fucking Garcia doesn’t pique your interest in the UK’s Steak then I don’t know what will. On their first full-length following up some impressive EP’s (We reviewed the latest, Corned Beef Colossus, earlier this year), Steak  deliver in spades.

From the opening fuzzed out twangs of “Coma” through to the final pings of chaotic closer “Old Timer D.W.” (A modern day Southern-fried “Mondo Generator”, if you will), Slab City is a veritable stoner rock tour-de-force. To ease old fans into the new material there’s even an updated version of “Liquid Gold” with a different mix but still just as meaningful as the day it was birthed on the Corned Beef Colossus EP.

Elsewhere, the Kyuss references are bound to pop up again when the title track really gets into the groove with a riff that would make a 19-year old Josh Homme jealous. But if you’re looking to further those comparisons then try out “Pisser” when the man himself, John Garcia, pops up and drops some lines of knowledge during a massive riff-laden breakdown.

“Quaaludes and Interludes” provides a short and sweet, ahem, interlude for SC until “Roadhead” explodes from your speakers to turn it up once again. Then “Machine” and “Hanoid” provide a one-two punch that’s pure rawk ecstasy. If Kippa’s smooth delivery or Reece’s blistering solos and riffs don’t sway you, especially on that latter track, then you might want to check your pulse.

From the desert wasteland of England: it’s Steak! I know, right? They make sounds not of their country and not of this Earth because great music transcends area codes.

Slab City is out in North America on September 9th through Napalm Records. You can order yours here.

Grandfather’s latest offering, The Wolf, has fangs!

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Bostonregina’s job sometimes causes her to travel the world which is a great thing for me sometimes because it exposes our little site to even more great bands that the interwebs doesn’t necessarily provide right away. One such band is Jena, Germany’s Grandfather. Who absolutely rock.

Ever wonder what it would sound like if Neil Fallon handled all vocal duties for Mastodon? That’s “The Wolf”, the opening track off Grandfather’s latest release of the same name. Crushing grooves, bestial drums, and a singer whose got both the gravitas and the growls to front this quartet? Sign me up!

“Crisis” begins with a solemn bass line and some spacey riffs to shake up the intensity of “The Wolf” but soon builds to en epic finale complete with vocal chants. The aptly titled “Instrumental” brings to mind West Virginian vocal-less greats Karma To Burn while “Borders” combines elements of “Freedom Run” and “Supa Scoopa & Mighty Scoop”, the latter especially during the start-stop finale. Closing with “Superloader”, which  ends the mini-album with a  balls out rocker that shares more heritage with AC/DC than with Kyuss, Grandfather provide enough diversity on The Wolf that will surely keep new fans interested in what’s to come.

The Wolf is available now. Right here. You should buy it and then go here for more on Grandfather. Because they rawk.

Hank & Cupcakes set to conquer the world on sophomore album, CA$H 4 GOLD!

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Trust me when I say that if you thought you knew what was coming after Hank & Cupcakes fabulous debut, NAKED!, then you have absolutely no idea what’s actually in store for you. On their sophomore release, CA$H 4 GOLD, the duo you love to love have not necessarily reinvented themselves insomuch as they’ve completely expanded their sound.

“Bat Your Eyelids” is a futuristic funk-filled phenomenon fused with enough fuzzy bass lines and warm feelings to instantly put a smile on your face. It’s the perfect opener for this opus and instantly indicative of what’s to come. Previous tease “Relax” follows up and enhances the vibe with a powerful electro stomp that really shows off Cupcakes massive vocal range which goes from a spoken word sing-song to a screech in a second. It’s also sure to be a huge crowd pleaser when presented in a live setting.  And while we’re on the topic, you can head here for the latest tour dates for Hank & Cupcakes upcoming fall tour!

“Romeo” lets Hank’s grooves shine with Cupcakes’ sonic percussion adding more depth while “Cocaina” is a gospel-fueled Southern blues romp that’s probably about the most unpredictable and fierce song H&C have ever laid down. If NAKED! gave you impressions of Duran Duran mixed with Yeah Yeah Yeah’s (Like it did for me) then CA$H 4 GOLD is Berlin, The Vapors, and Wang Chung in a modern setting.

Hank & Cupcakes is truly one of those groups that I can’t praise enough. They do their own thing and they do it really well defying modern Pop expectations with each and every release. Whether it’s the swirling synth bounce on “I Don’t Want To See”, Cupcakes soulful croon on “Spin”, Hank’s bass bravado on the epic “Go Slow” or the lush strings on “Money Is King”, CA$H 4 GOLD has something for every music fan. And if you were already a fan of H&C prior to this release, prepare to be pleasantly blown away.

CA$H 4 GOLD will be available for mass consumption on September 5th. For the latest on Hank & Cupcakes you can head on over here or here. But more importantly, head on over to Itunes or Amazon to get your copy of CA$H 4 GOLD!

What’s In A Name? Mr. Kitty releases the latest “Self-Destructive Synthpop” masterpiece.

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Don’t let the name throw you, Mr. Kitty is not the cute and cuddly Pop you might’ve expected when you tuned in. Far from it, Mr. Kitty is, quite simply, the saviors of dance-pop synthetic goth what have you. It’s great dance music. It’s great music if you’re a vampire or great if you’re a fan of mood films like To Live And Die In L.A. or Manhunter. Modern noir, if you will.

In regards to Time, Mr. Kitty’s fourth (!) album, let’s put it this way: Have you ever wanted an album that perfectly encapsulates a night in the club, filled with those mindless throbbing beats and mid-tempo numbers that sporadically break up the dance floor sweatiness? That’s Time.

“XIII” storms the gates of Time with subtle, droning beats building into an indescribable crescendo of screams and electronics that will move you to no end. “Rats” breaks up the intensity with some nice Pop-infused mid-tempo awesome and “Glow” continues that trend with some beats destined for the Fright Night soundtrack. Circa 1985, obviously.

Like I said, if you’re itching to dance then a Mr. Kitty track to suit your needs is never too far away as “Hollow” follows to beef up the foot stomping quotient. “Devour” delivers even more so as does “Laceration” which brings back “XIII”‘s urgency. “Pathogen” keeps the pace alive  while “Shadow Dancer” is that song you heard in every moody ’80’s flick, being equal parts New Order and Depeche Mode.

Not only one of the greatest synth albums of 2014 but one of the best albums, period. Like me, you’ll be wondering how Mr. Kitty passed you by for so long (Seriously, this is the FOURTH album!!!!!). Now I just need to insure I get all of Time played at my next local goth night.

Time, the latest and greatest, from Mr. Kitty is out now. Head over to bandcamp to stream and buy.

Life On Planet 9 return with The Theory Of Everything

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I randomly discovered Ultraspank when they were featured on Ozzfest back in 1998 and instantly fell in love with Pete Murray’s voice. The range, the emotion, the intensity….just everything about it was such a step above what the other bands on the bill offered. This was a bill that gave some great exposure to the Serj Tankian’s and Brandon Boyd’s mind you! But Pete Murray stood out. Yeah, he had that snarl but there was something else. One listen to “Wrapped” off their self-titled debut and it was obvious that this guy had “the voice”. Those sweeping choruses that echoed Maynard James Keenan that went to vicious Phil Anselmo-style attacks in no time were incomparable.

Over time, that voice has only grown as has the musicianship with the riff-machine Neil Godfrey who accompanied Murray from Ultraspank into Lo-Pro and the band of the hour, Life On Planet 9.

Bittersweet, the 2011 debut from Life On Planet 9, may have spawned from a desire to create a studio version of “Lo-Pro unplugged” but on The Theory Of Everything the band go for new extremes and finally find themselves. The minute the programmed beats of “Carry On” hit along with Godfrey’s gorgeous riffs and Murray’s uncanny voice it’s as if “Line Stepper” off Bittersweet never ended. “So we’re picking up where we left off” adds Murray around the 3-minute mark but it’s so much more than that.

The Theory Of Everything as a whole is bigger, better, and badder. “Everything” is just massive as is “Here We Are” which follows next, abruptly stopping for Godfrey’s lush acoustics and Murray’s echoed cries until opening up again into a gargantuan chorus. And that’s just the first three songs, people! “Home” is even greater than that and more epic, “Now” follows and ups the tempo slightly with Murray hitting those soprano notes just right while “Ordinary” picks up the pace with Godfrey’s guitars screaming along with Murray’s voice. And I haven’t even gotten to single “Rainy Days” or the the game-changing seven minute monstrosity “Stay” that hits in the middle!

Jeebus, I don’t want to say that this is the best album of the Murray/Godfrey collaboration era but hot damn if it isn’t close. “The Sky” adds to that argument along with the piano-driven “What Would You Say” and its’ record scratch beats. As an outsider, I don’t pretend to know what Murray and Godfrey’s musical vision might be but I imagine that this record is the closest accomplishment towards that.

If you love that voice and that guitar and have followed these gentlemen from Ultraspank to Lo-Pro to this then this is an essential part of your collection. If you’re a fan of music in general then it’d be highly illogical if you don’t pick this up.

The Theory Of Everything is out on August 26th. We really think you should buy it here.

 

Video View: Life On Planet 9, “Rainy Days”

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And for our 101st post, we go to a singer that inspired the next half of our musical journey. I’m talking about that other legend, Pete Murray, of course! Haunting, yet exhilarating, the first track off the upcoming sophomore release from Life On Planet 9 is everything fans have come to expect from Murray and more.

While Murray exercises his soprano vocal muscles, guitarist Neil Godfrey goes for the subtle approach which makes for a rousing arrangement and a welcome return from one of the most underrated duos in modern rock.

As for the video: Do you really need anything more than the  two fine gentlemen of  Life On Planet 9 rocking out while looking dapper? No, I suspect you do not.

The Theory Of Everything is out on August 26th. Stay tuned to Life On Planet 9’s Twitter and Facebook pages for information on where you can get your copy.

 

John Garcia: A Rock And Roll Fables Conversation

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“I was just kind of tired of saying yes to everybody else and saying no to these songs so here I am, and let me tell you, it feels really good to be where I’m at.”

So says the man of the hour, the legendary John Garcia, via phone in late July just before the release of his debut solo album (Which is out now through Napalm Records). With the Vista Chino record barely a year old, a John Garcia solo record seems to come from out of left field until Garcia expands on why a solo record was exactly what needed to happen now:

“I’ll give you the straight to the point answer: I was exhausted. Exhausted of looking at this collection of songs that I’ve had for so many years. I felt bad for ’em. I had a personal relationship with these songs. These songs were not B-sides or leftovers from any of the other projects. These songs were plucked from my career and I kept them in a dusty old cardboard box and every morning I’d look at ’em. And I actually felt bad. I was, like, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll get to you. Hold tight!’ But I was committed to other projects. I’ve always wanted to do this. I’ve always wanted to do a solo record. Ever since I was 18. Before I was even started playing in a band I’ve thought about it and that’s when the collecting started. I collected 44 songs throughout 20 years that were special and very personal to me.”

As if finally putting some of those songs to tape wasn’t already a career highlight for Garcia, the studio brought a few more surprises in the form of an appearance by the on and only Robby Krieger of The Doors:

“When selecting the songs for the record it became very apparent that “Her Bullets Energy” was gonna be one of the songs [used]. Harper Hug, my producer, said to me ‘Hey man, I’m hearing a Spanish Flamenco guitar on this. What do you think?’ And I thought it was a great idea: ‘Who do you know that plays Spanish guitar?’ And he says ‘Well, I know Robby Krieger.’ After falling over off my chair and picking myself back up again I said ‘Well, do you think he would do it?’ We got him the track. The next piece was if he liked it. He liked it. The third and most important piece was us asking him if he would play flamenco guitar on it and he obliged us. Next thing you know I’m in the studio with Robby Krieger at Horse Latitudes, his brand new recording studio in Glendale, and he was throwing some swipes down to it. It made the song better not to mention the entire record better. Talk about a monumental moment. Being in a room with a legend is a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”

With any recognizable vocalist branching out into the world of solo albums, though, the question becomes: What sets this apart from any of your other bands? In Garcia’s case, that’s an illustrious career that’s included stints in Kyuss, Unida, Slo-Burn, and Vista Chino to name a few but he’s quick to point out the biggest difference now:

“This is another direct result of me being explorative and exploratory in my career. I mean, anybody  who knows anything about my career knows that I don’t like to stay in one place for very long. This is a direct result of that. Nobody goes in the studio with an intent to suck. You wanna go in there, and you know, you have passion! You want to omit your feelings and open up and expose yourself (Your gut, your heart). You put them down on tape or a hard drive or wherever that may be…it’s feeling, it’s passion, it’s emotion. It’s all those things. This one, for me, I wouldn’t say is a little more emotional for me. It’s A LOT more emotional.”

And emotion is definitely the driving force of this new record and what gets Garcia though it all at the end of the day with a career that’s had its share of ups and downs:

“The biggest challenge of my career is right now. Right here with being a solo artist. For lack of a better word, not hiding behind a band name but exposing yourself a little bit more and it’s a little nerve wracking. This is the biggest move of my career.  To go through some of the bad things of having a record be swept from underneath your feet to having some ex-band members sue you. You’ve gotta detach yourself from that. I try to keep my eye on the ball and what’s important. 

What’s important to me is not two kids sitting on each side of a chain link fence poking a fucking stick at one another and me being caught in the middle. That’s not what’s important to me. 

What’s important to me, and I’ve said this a thousand times, is my family. My 4-year old son, my 11-year old daughter, my amazing wife (my best friend) who allows me to continue to follow my passion. While she’s running Palm Springs Animal Hospital I’m sitting here playing Mr. Mom. This is enjoyable to me to spend time with my two kids. I just got back from a three day camping trip. My manager for Vista Chino, we talk often, says to me: ‘You go camping?’ and I says ‘Yeah!’ and he’s, like, ‘Camping camping?!?!’  and I’m, like, ‘What other type of fucking camping is there?’. 

That to me is important. My family. You have to detach yourself from that other stuff and move on. With this project I’m on a mission and my mission is: Zero drama. And my life is much happier with where I’m at and my career and the route that I’ve taken. I’m in a good place. 

Because I’m selfish and need to ask about some of my other favorites he’s been affiliated with at one time or another, the conversation switches to West Virginia’s own Karma To Burn and the possibility of those fabled recordings he’s done with them over the years seeing the light of day:

“I certainly hope so. Boy, let me tell you they’ve been through a little bit of turmoil. I love Rich (Mullins, bass) and Will (Mecum, guitar). You know Nathan Limbaugh, the original drummer, he co-wrote “Argleben” with me (off the solo record). Karma To Burn is one of my all-time favorite bands. I still listen to those records and the most recent record on Napalm. My song’s on there that I wrote all those years back when I was in my early ’20’s. I often thought about a project where I just take those recordings, I don’t remix them, but I sing on top of those. Just the way they are. I often thought about that. Who knows? Like I said, I don’t like to stay in one place too long but on the flip side I don’t see me deviating from the current position that I’m in any time in the near future.”

As for current bands at the forefront of a scene he helped build, Garcia has a few faves like Steak from the UK with whom he recently recorded vocals for their upcoming Napalm Records debut (“I do like Steak. They’re the real deal. They’re mean. They’re lifers. They came out to Palm Springs and recorded here and they’re into the desert scene.) Other stand outs include Black Mastiff out of Edmonton, Canada (I cover one of their songs on the record, “Rollin Stoned”. Love them.and Black Pussy from Oregon (Black Pussy’s a cool band. I dig them.).

He’s quick to point out, though, about his taste in music:

“Something that has feeling and emotion and brings you someplace. I dig it. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if it’s Earth, Wind, and Fire or The Ohio Players or whatever. 

But honestly, I listen to a lot of radio. In Southern California I’m pretty spoiled. We love our radio here. I know I certainly do. There’s a station out here, KDES, and a DJ by the name of Art Laboe and he does requests and dedications to all the homies and stuff like that. He plays good tunes. A lot of R&B stuff. Old. School.  I still listen to classic stuff. Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Doors…that’s on regular rotation on my turntable but I’m also a big fan of Terence Trent D’Arby. All of his stuff, his entire catalog. Really dig that guy. Amazing singer. 

Touching on the future of Vista Chino after I mentioned Mike Dean’s gushing comments of his experience with the band during a recent interview with us, Garcia offered this in response:

“Let me tell you something about Mike Dean: What an amazing bass player and an amazing gentleman. The guy is super intelligent. To share a stage with that guy with Brant Bjork and Bruno Fevery: Wow! That’s an experience I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. Great band! Even without me, I could just listen to them just jam. 

I don’t see another Vista Chino record happening anytime in the near future. I’m very happy with where I’m at right now. There’s no bad blood. Nothing happened. I gotta go where my heart and gut tells me to go and I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and it feels good to be here. But I’ve also learned ‘never say never” so maybe one day but not anytime in the near future.”

As for the “near future”, Garcia has it all mapped out:

“Touring, writing recording. Touring, writing, recording. That’s it! And in that order. My tour starts off here in Palm Desert and starts September 5th at this place called The Hood. Then we head to Australia for a run there. We get back home and continue writing rehearsing and then we’re headed over to Europe for an extensive, heavy, heavy tour for November/December, come back, do some more writing, recording, get the record done, tour Europe again next year for a summer festival run and then start the process all over again.

I’m very pleased with my live band. They’re all local guys. For the first time in many, many years I have local guys and it feels great to be able to call them up and say ‘Hey, I got this riff. Let’s get together for a barbeque and jam out at the rehearsal space down in Palm Springs.’ We had rehearsals last night. Feeling good about playing Kyuss songs. Even songs that Kyuss never played live: “Thong Song”, “Gloria Lewis”, “Tangy Zizzle”, “Catamaran” Stuff like that I’ve injected into the set along with Slo Burn and, of course, my solo stuff so it’s me playing a lot of past and present.”

Getting back to the record at hand, Garcia concludes with this:

“It might not be a monumental moment for rock ‘n’ roll (I wasn’t trying to change the face of rock and roll by any means) but a little bit of a monumental moment for me and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

John Garcia is out now through Napalm Records. You can get your copy here and check out here to find where you can catch Mr. Garcia live in 2014 and beyond.

Ravioli Me Away release The Inevitable Album!

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Like Devo fronted by Kathleen Hanna, Ravioli Me Away brings something different to the music table. This post-punk trio are about to make waves on their debut, The Inevitable Album, with a sound that is so out there it’ll make even the naysayers perk up and pay attention.

“Good Team Player” is as good an introduction as any into the world of Ravioli Me Away with synth horns and steady beats. Lead single “Cat Call” is just as strange as the video that accompanies it with a strong message (Don’t be an asshole when ladies are walking down the street, fellas!). “One Kiss” has a ’50’s feel to it as does “Romance Amnesia” with shared vocals, one spoken word and one providing the melody, and a simple yet effective snare and bass line.

That’s one of the great things about Ravioli Me Away, though, is that the concept is so basic (Bass, drums, keys) but the layers that Sian Dorrer, Rosie Ridgeway, and Alice Theobald bring to each song catapults The Inevitable Album above the rest.

Other highlights include “Estrogen” (Pronounced “eeeeee-stroh-gen” here) with  its funkified bass that continues into the spoken wordiness of “Imagination” which synths up the proceedings while later “Euro Breakdown” makes a bid for “Best instrumental score from a Miami Vice montage scene”.

The Inevitable Album is out on August 18th through Good Job Records. Head on over to Raviolimeaway.co.uk and their Facebook page for the deets!

 

Untitled Metal Column: Volume 9 (Nachtmystium, The World We Left Behind)

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Is this the end of Nachtmystium or isn’t it? According to a recent interview with Blake Judd the end isn’t exactly nigh for the Chicgao black metal luminaries.

Regardless, if The World We Left Behind is, in fact, the last Nachtmystium album then listening to this opus is a bittersweet experience. From beginning to end it’s a reminder of not only how important and vital Nachtmystium is to the black metal scene but also the need for the scene to sometimes morph and change over time.

Assassins: Black Meddle Part I started the trend by adding elements of psychedelia and classic rock (Think Kyuss does Satyricon), Addicts: Black Meddle Part II in 2010 continued along the path while 2012’s Silencing Machine went back to basics almost erasing what had been built.

On The World That We Left Behind, however, Nachtmystium brings their sound full circle and lay everything bare. Those Assassins-style experimentations are back on not only the epic introspective lumbering beast that is “Voyager” but scattered throughout. Speaking of “introspective”, that word is a theme that runs rampant throughout The World We Left Behind touching on the tumultuous year that band leader Blake Judd experienced on almost every track.

But back to the music.

The first proper song here (“Fireheart”) is more of a rocker and less a metal affair with, dare I say, danceable drum beats? Experimentation indeed.  On the other spectrum, “Into The Endless Abyss” is the blackest of black metal fusing spaced out electronics with a slamming blast beat by Sam Shroyer as Judd just fucking roars. The title track builds for a solid minute and a half to a chaotic peak and then just explodes as Judd screeches the chorus and you bang your head in solidarity. Elsewhere, the gorgeous (Yes, I used the word “gorgeous” to describe a Nachtmystium song) “Epitaph For A Dying Star” closes TWWLB with Judd’s howls of “No More Pain” set against Karla Murphy’s lush vocals amidst a sonic maelstrom of screaming guitars.

The World We Left Behind crash landed on Planet Earth today via Century Media Records. You can still get some pretty sweet package deals at CMdistro or for instant gratification, check the album out on Itunes.

 

 

Video View: Hank & Cupcakes, “Relax”

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Remember during MTV’s heyday in the ’80’s when music videos were just starting out and were all quirky and creative? Hank & Cupcakes sure remember as they unveil the latest song off the upcoming CA$H 4 GOLD album, “Relax”. The video is pretty kooky yet inventive and undoubtedly a reminder of the long gone days of MTV playing cool videos.

As for the song? It’s a rocker. Pretty sonic and slamming and a far cry from the previously released “Cocaina” earlier this year presenting more diversity for an album that’s sure to be a stand out of 2014.

You can check out “Relax” below and then support Hank & Cupcakes by contributing to their (almost over) CA$H 4 GOLD Kickstarter campaign here.