Posts Tagged ‘Hard Rock’

GÅS – Epitaph

An absolute shredder is handed down from Rocket Recordings today. The label has a knack for unearthing UK/EU heavies and GÅS fits in quite nicely with their stellar catalog. The Swedish band’s first single, “Epitaph” melds heavy fuzz, pounding at the heart with a slight lilt of English prog to it. Aesthetically they’re mashing a bit of Danish sludge rockers Moses with Sweden’s own Charlie & Esdor, though once those vocals kick in I’m getting some Wolf People nods as well. Those English psych-folk tones feel like they might be key here, as the band covers an old nugget, Philamore Lincoln’s “The North Wind Blew South” on the flip. It sets them apart from your average smoke shoveler. A huge debut single that begs to keep an eye on these guys. Get this on the table next to some Goat singles and that new hard hitter from Ball and you’re all set. Physical pre-orders are up tomorrow and the single lands Oct 3oth.



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Tapiman – S/T

Always good to see some of the crucial reissues I picked up 15-20 years ago making a new round for those that still can’t find those originals anywhere below scandalous prices. This ’72 LP from Spanish trio Tapiman is one of those rediscoveries from the early ‘00s that still resonates today. Lit on the savage burn of guitar by Max Sunyer, the album trades heavy, powerful riffing (that woulda made the Sabbath crowd proud) with nimble prog touches pushing the album beyond mere proto metal curio. Pinned to a rhythm section that keeps Sunyer’s guitars from floating into the bilious clouds of smoke, the band’s songs were a masterclass in heavy-bottomed yet smart runs.

They fill the second half out with spaced organ and and a stab at Thin Lizzy frizzle meets post-Canturbury noodling from later period Soft Machine. As a whole, the record rounds itself out to embrace a wider palette than the average thunder cruncher from the time period. The band could embrace softness, power, and prog flights of fantasy. The Spanish scene often gets shorted at the time, but this along with Truck and Storm always feel like lost classics to me. Plus, that cover is a damned selling point if you ask me. The pink skull is definitely one of the reasons it founds its way into my hands in the first place. New issue has expanded liners and pics.



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Dommengang

On their third album Dommengang still navigate the causeway between psychedelic blues and the frayed edges of harder rock, but this time they’ve added a looseness to their sound that breaks the lash that held them to a more regimented past. While they used to bump into the bluster of metal, this time around they’re cooling their sound into something more cosmic, and it feels like the piece of the puzzle they’d long been missing. Tim Green, again at the boards, gives the album a spaciousness that floats on the air like steam n’ sweat in the crisp morning air. The album is perched in permanent golden hour hues, with the songs coming on like a third beer swagger that melts the weight of week away.

That cosmic crash doesn’t crest too early. The band opens with “Sunny Day Flooding,” which ties the knot between last year’s Love Jail and the new album’s woollier ways. Then they ease into the tangerine drip of guitars on the back end of “Earth Blues.” Just towards the last solo you can feel the band loosen. It’s a respite before they kick the crunch back on but there’s a collective sigh between the notes. Sig Wilson’s playing on this one is his best yet, burning ether and ozone, getting lost in the smoke curls for more than a moment. The last album evoked the West, and the band’s move towards L.A., but this one embraces the desert as well as the lusher confines of the coast. There’s a touch of Big Sur in the gnarled drags on “Kudzu.” It’s a relief that tumbles down in a gush of guitar, quenching the soul of the parched sounds of their past.

This, along with the Crazy Horse burn that permeates and pounds through the heart of “Jerusalem Cricket,” gives the band a wild-eyed, crooked grin gravitas that they embody with ease. As Dommengang crunch into the loose gravel groove of the latter half of No Keys they position themselves to embrace the crux between David Nance, Chris Forsyth, and Endless Boogie. It’s a welcomed shift and one I hope they continue to mine for more material. That said, even with No Keys acting as an album in transition, the moments that burn bright tend to light up the horizon with a most inviting glow.



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Gun – Gun

Real Gone have put Gun’s eponymous debut LP back on vinyl for the first time in three decades and its good to have it home on wax. The record’s been subjected to CD reissues several times and remains a solid slice of the UK hard rock canon. The band is most notable for being started by Adrian and Paul Gurvitz, a pair of brothers who’d wind their way through plenty of heavy hitters – going on work with Ginger Baker and Buddy Miles in later years, while also popping up in UK nuggets Rupert’s People and The Knack (“Time Waits for No One,” rockers, not “My Sharona”). For a short time Gun also counted YES’ John Anderson among the ranks, which might go some length to explain how the record also served as Roger Dean’s entry to cover art. The band’s sound embraced a towering post-psych, pre-prog aesthetic that drew in symphonics, dripping blues solos and a power-pounded rhythm section that keeps the energy pushed to the cliff.

The band released a follow-up, Gunsight, in 1969, but the album failed to capture audiences as they did with the often-covered single “Race With the Devil.” The band were branded as counterculturists by their label, CBS, but often found themselves at odds with that pitch, even working in a slightly anti-acid song on Gunsight. When the second album sunk, it pushed them away from the Gun name. The brothers formed Three Man Army, which would eventually become Ginger Baker’s Three Man Army after a few albums. This debut Gun album still stands as the pinnacle of their works, though. Tough, almost theatrically over the top in places, and willing to experiment with horn arrangements that weren’t necessarily the norm at the time. The label’s packed it up in a dedicated reproduction of the cover art and some limited red vinyl. There have been boots out there over the years, but this one’s sounding better than any unauthorized issue ever could. Its a grand reminder of when rock had no need to edit itself or even thing about reigning it in.



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Dommengang

Sophomore outing from blooze-psych unit Dommengang knuckles down into the parched settings of their new move West. With the aid The Fucking Champs’ Tim Greene, they’ve worked through a record that’s punching the same bruised flesh as Endless Boogie or Quest for Fire but shot through with a reverence for motorik chug and psych fray that begs some relevance to newer space rock fronters like Föllakzoid or indie heavies Black Mountain. Drummer Adam Bulgasem locks down the beat like an iron anchor, pulling the band’s whirlwind fray a bit closer to Earth, but he’s hard pressed to keep things from feeling a bit hairy. Dommengang pummels through a greasy set of bottom feeder bombast that stops only to wipe the sweat with a tender tone-down on the album’s title track.

Over the rest of the record the L.A. transplants shudder the ground with a steel-toed amp rumble that feels comfortable soundracking top-down, red line rips through the canyon in the creeping darkness of sundown. There’s a predatory quality, slinking and preening through the songs on Love Jail. They howl in the shadows and flicker like firelight in the distance. Their heat mostly burns barren and sinister though, not a welcoming refuge but a dangerous encampment to be skirted by those looking for purchase. Though, they flash a bit of underbelly on the aforementioned title track and creeping closer, “Stay Together.” This is a nice step forward from the band’s debut, not cracking the compass on new directions but keeping the line taut within their current tack.




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Silverhead – Silverhead

It’s actually a bit perplexing that it has taken this long for Silverhead’s debut to attract a proper reissue. The band, often tied into glam’s evolution (they were fans of platforms, makeup and over the top costuming) actually land musically much closer to a breed of hard rock before that classic crunch found its way into the glam canon. They hew close to late Who, Beggars-era Stones and of course a touch of Bolan/Bowie, but then again who at the time wasn’t finding themselves transfixed to those two?

Their 1972 debut is packed with rockers that, while not necessarily fixated on hooks that would cement their status, definitely paved the way for bands that came in their wake. Though, without exception, “Ace Supreme” stands as a glam jam that never got its due. The song is filled with the larger-than-life persona of of the genre and it burns well past the 100 degree mark and rising. The band would, sadly, only release this album and a single follow-up before disbanding in 1974. Members would go on to fill out the ranks as session and touring members of Blondie and Robert Plant’s respective circuses and singer Michael Des Barres would actually garner more notoriety for a small recurring part on MacGuyver than he would as leader of the band.

Good to have this one back on vinyl after all the years, though. It’s a vital link in the glam chain and is worthy of a seat at the table for a discussion on the evolution of hard rock through the ’70s. The new edition comes courtesy of Vinilisssimo reproducing the long lost classic in its original form for the first time since ’73.


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