BLUES PILLS ‘Holy Moly’ Album Review + Elin Larsson Interview.

Words / Interview El Jefe.
Photos Patric Ullaeus.

If you’re a fan of heavy psych-rock with big, clean femme vox and you haven’t already checked out Blues Pills, I’d suggest their third LP, Holy Moly wouldn’t be a bad place to get on board.

Blues Pills are now approaching ten years old (they grow up so fast!), and, as bands tend to, have had a couple of personnel changes. Founding members Elin Larsson and Zack Anderson remain, with Zack recently switching to guitar to accommodate the departure of original guitarist Dorian Sorriaux. Long time drummer André Kvarnström now has Kristoffer Schander as his rhythm section “partner in crime” and the pair do a mighty fine line in rnr too.

‘Proud Woman’, a tune whose lyrical content is much needed in this day and time stamped a hefty footprint on the colour and tone of Holy Moly. Ripping vocals, some sweet gospel-esque b/v’s, raunchy and riff-heavy, it’s a driving thunderous tune.

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El Colosso – Not Drowning, Touring… Part 1 of 4…

We’re lucky enough to have Koops, El Colosso vocalist, submitting a tour diary while they’re away on their European tour. We wish them all the best! Thanx Koops and El Colosso! – Ed.

In another few days the band that I sing in – El Colosso – is traveling to Europe for its first international tour. First tour of anywhere, actually. We haven’t toured Australia yet, apart from a few gigs in Ballarat, Bendigo and Frankston.

We’re heading off to play twenty-odd shows in thirty-odd days, promoting our debut album Pathways, taking in Germany, Slovakia, Belgium, France and Spain. It’s a tour that doesn’t just involve a crap-ton of money and a big flight to get there, but also a kind of leap-of-faith to remove ourselves from our families and jobs and commit to really living rock and roll every night for more than a month in a different city every day, in rooms full of perfect strangers, 14,000 kilometres away from everything we know.

Not fucking fantastic being away from our families though. In truth, that totally sucks.

Preparing for the tour has been a lot of work, but huge fun. We’ve not just stepped up rehearsals for the many weeks leading up to it, we’ve also been preparing new songs for our next record. AND we’ve also had the opportunity to play at The Forum, supporting South African band Seether. How many times have we all been at that venue and dared to dream of one day playing there? We were like kids in candy stores. Or just like the big bloody kids we really are playing at the Forum! But the new album is written, we are super-tight with our tunes, and all that remains is for us to get there and show a different part of the world what we can do. Continue reading

CHERRY ROCK 2018. Cosmic Psychos, The Cribs (UK), Kid Congo Sex Beat Party (US), Cash Savage & The Last Drinks, The Mamas, The Chats, Fulton Street, The Southern River Band, Fluff, Gabriella Cohen, Diet, A. Swayze & The Ghosts, Pistol Peaches, WÜRST NÜRSE. Cherry Bar, Melbourne. 06-05-2018.

Words Mark Ireland.
Photos Stephen Boxshall.

Every year Melbourne rock city gets destroyed by Cherry Rock, the best street rock’n’roll festival. For twelve years it’s been promoting local and overseas rock and metal acts, giving them a chance to play to a massive festival crowd, this year was no exception.

Opening the festival was Wurst Nurse, they kicked off proceedings with their anthemic punk that electro shocked the crowd. It was unseasonably warm weather for Cherry Rock, good beer drinking weather, and A. Swayze & and the Ghosts from Tasmania were a great addition to the day, their unique post punk sound was what was needed to send the crowd left of centre.

I moved inside to catch Fluff before the bar got jammed. They play classic rock in the sense of Zeppelin and any other 70s band you could throw a bone at. Neil Wilkinson’s high shrill would put Robert Plant to shame, and local legend Danny Leo is in my opinion the best drummer in Australia hands down. His powerhouse style is something that could shatter a window a 100 metres away. Fluff have an album coming out in a couple of months, so todays set was a good chance to showcase the new material.

On the Furphy stage Gabriella Cohen was charming the crowd with her sweet crunching pop, an interesting inclusion to Cherry Rock.

Soul fever was potent when Fulton Street hit the Cherry Bar stage late in the afternoon, Shannon Wick’searth shattering vocals shook the venue to its foundations. The band have been regulars to Cherry’s legendary soul night, packing out the place on numerous occasions.

The Southern River Band are the new boys on the block and they’ve already earned their stripes by blowing crowds away at Queenscliff Music Festival and Boogie Festival, so todays set broke the crowd into tiny pieces. They’ve already honed that classic ‘Oz Rock’ sound, so the crowd just drank the energy the band threw at them. Their album is in high anticipation, so I think a return visit is definitely on the cards for the near future.
Inside again The Mamas sweet soul pop stylings had the crowd pack the dancefloor and cause a sweaty mess in no time.

I had heard a few things about The Chats, but nothing prepared me for what I saw, tight as fuck, killer riffs and it was all over in 30 minutes, that is rock’n’roll personified. And as one of their song goes, not even time for a ‘Smoko’!

Cash Savage and the Last Drinks have been a festival favorite for a number of years now, so the crowd warmed up to them straight away. Their gothic country blues was what was needed for a cold autumn night. Cash has incredible stage presence that commands attention, like Nick Cave she stands on the lip of the stage and draws the crowd in with every song, The Last Drinks are an amazing backing band that consists of two guitarists, drummer, fiddle player and bass player, so when the band break into ‘The Hypnotiser’, the sound that was created was like a man mad hurricane, with its slow build to its tumultuous climax, it really put the audience through the ringer.

The Cribs have been around since 2001, so it’s safe to say they know how to turn a crowd on its head. They played a varied set from a number of different albums, their latest album 24-7 Rock Star Shit has one of the best titles from last year. As soon as they hit the stage they don’t fuck around and its straight down to business, slaying the crowd with anthemic indie rock gems.

Closing off the Cherry Bar stage was a DJ set from Kid Congo, he played a killer set of mod hits, surf rock and classics from Bowie and Suzi Quatro, the crowd flooded the dance floor immediately as he hit the decks.

What else can be said about The Cosmic Psychos, they are the stuff of legend! Their influence runs deep not only in Aussie bands but also you can hear their sound in many 90s American bands too.

When they ripped out their classic ‘Nice Day To Go The Pub’, the crowds sing a long could have been heard on the other side of the Yarra! The buzz saw bass blast of ‘Dead in a Ditch’ deafened me within seconds. They ended the night with the classic ‘Lost Cause’. The Psychos haven’t changed their sound in over 30 years, the saying ‘If it Aint Broke Don’t Fix It’ was probably coined after seeing the band at the Tote.

After twelve years Cherry Rock is still selling out and looks it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. James Young, co-owner of Cherry Bar and one of the head honchos behind the festival is one of the biggest supporters of live music in Melbourne, and Cherry Rock is the love child of his support of local rock and roll.

Melbourne loves Cherry Rock and Cherry Rock loves Melbourne.

SUN GOD REPLICA ‘Grandular Fever’ Album Review.

Words Katherine McKenzie.

Sun God Replica are back with their third release Grandular Fever. Considering ‘grandular’ is not actually a word, I was a little perplexed as to the meaning and concept of this album title. Perhaps it’s a play on the virus Glandular Fever? Is it about a fever or virus of grand proportions? The album cover is also not giving away any clues to the title meaning. The image on the cover is a throwback to 1970s psychedelic aesthetics and fashion, dialled up to 11 out of ten, giving the impression Sun God Replica may have raided the costume department of their local theatre company. This however is a pretty good indication of the sounds that are featured on Grandular Fever; fuzzy psychedelic rock and fun vibes that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Opening track ‘Blow Your Mind’ kicks off the album with a ’70s psychedelic inspired number with catchy pop melodies. Upbeat, relaxed and fun is the general vibe with this song, with simple vocals, standard rock drum beats and a guitar solo, this accurately sets up the retro sounding direction of the rest of the album. The lyrics tick the box for abstract, psychedelia references, as shown by the song’s opening lyrics; “I’m a trap door spiderman, I’m holding flowers…” before launching into a chorus with the repeating lyrics of; “Want to blow your mind.” There are also references to going back in time and drugs for good measure.

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SALEM’S BEND Self-Titled Debut Album Review.

Words Adam Cooper.

When I first received the debut album from Salem’s Bend, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A three piece from the City of Angels conjured up pre conceived notions of what I thought LA was about. What I heard upon first listen was something totally different.

I actually thought I’d been visited by the ghost of Phil Lynott and he’d become mates with Fu Manchu, Blue Cheer and King Crimson. They were in a smoke filled share house, kicking back, head nodding to each other whilst appreciating the beauty of Led Zeppelin 4.

The opening track ‘Balshazzar’ sets the tone for a late ’60s early / ’70s fuzz-a-thon which continues throughout the seven track offering. Continue reading

SEEDY JEEZUS + ISAIAH MITCHELL (US), A Basket Of Mammoths, The Black Heart Death Cult, My Left Boot, Motherslug. The Tote Hotel, Melbourne. 22+23-09-2016.

Words Anthony Moore.
Photos Adam Russ – Right Eye Media Australia.

Even on paper Isaiah Mitchell (San Diego, US) with Seedy Jeezus (Melbourne, Australia) reads like a match made in heaven; the personalities, the musicians, the music. All of them have made a great name for themselves creating some of the most memorable and cosmic psych jams you’ll ever here. Each night of the Australian tour includes a set by Seedy Jeezus followed by a second set where they’re joined by Mitchell. The supports for The Tote Hotel, Melbourne gigs were Thursday: A Basket Of Mammoths and The Black Heart Death Cult (included in the gallery below), Friday: My Left Boot and Motherslug, all four solid Melbourne bands.

Now, the issue here with writing this is that you can’t review your friends bands, too much bias involved, but what a pleasure it is every time I catch them live and especially as part of this tour, I just had to write something! Thursday and Friday at The Tote were incredible. Absolutely mind blowing. The punters that filled the room had their feet planted firmly, eyes wide open and mouths agape as Seedy Jeezus guitarist Lex Waterreus annihilated his fretboard with some of the smoothest solos ever. Not many bands can include guitar solos that go for as long as a Pink Floyd song, yet with Waterreus it’s different, he isn’t there to show off with as many notes per minute as possible, it all oozes out from his soul and is played with perfection; space where there needs to be and frantic when it’s called for. It all comes from the heart. Like the just as mind blowing rhythm section of Paul Crick (bass) and Mark Sibson (drums). Crick’s control of his theremin is second to none and his ability to lift a song with his flawless bass playing is incredible. Sibson’s drumming is the closest you’ll ever come to seeing Mitch Mitchell (Hendrix Experience) or Ginger Baker (Cream) live. Such a free and loose style yet one of the tightest and strongest around. Love watching him play, he can’t stay on his drum stool, jumping round and sometimes walks around to the front of the kit mid set. His solo on Friday night had the ghost of John Bonham with his hand on his heart and a tear in his eye.

Isaiah Mitchell is best known for his work with Earthless, instrumental psych rockers from California. Seeing Mitchell play live with Earthless is like watching an hour long solo where all the questions to the life and death of the universe are answered and then we’re transported into the afterlife where music is God. The ‘Under The Influence’ Tour “will give fans of Isaiah a chance to see him play songs that have influenced him as a musician since he first picked up a guitar at the age of 8. After performing their own set of blistering psych freakout, Seedy Jeezus will be Isaiah’s backing band as he works through songs from ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.” Which means we also get to hear Mitchell sing this time round in Australia and he has such a soulful voice that resonates and connects. Also check out another band he plays in, Golden Void.

Over the next week there may be Instagram and Facebook post’s that include hints or tell you about the shows, reviews on various sites, and live clips, but we aren’t going to give anything away in terms of the setlist and what’s played, as part of the magic of this tour is to discover what these songs are as they’re played live. No one that attended was disappointed. There’s some songs you may know and some you may not which only open’s up a new avenue of music to explore. After the tour we’ll post the setlists and a live clip from the Friday Melbourne gig that was a truly memorable experience to have witnessed only feet away!

As I said, when reviewing friends bands, bias can creep in, but the music itself speaks volumes, as well as the crowds reactions each night. Glasses were raised, cheers were loud and people hovered around the band for hours after they left the stage, getting vinyl signed, to chat and find out more about what makes them tick. So proud to see the effect that Seedy Jeezus and Isaiah Mitchell have on people as it’s so well deserved.

They’ve also released a 12″ and CD collaboration together under The Tranquonauts. Make sure you pick this up at one of the shows, or check out Seedy Jeezus online for more details on how to grab a copy. Have a listen to some of it HERE! Tym Records (Brisbane) has also released a split 7″ featuring both bands, pick up a copy at one of the shows or online HERE.

Blown Music and Touring and Seedy Jeezus have done well to not only make this tour happen but also to have it such a success right from the first show. Well done! I’d also like to give a shout out to artist and muso Shannon Trottman (Bugdust) who did the art on the tour poster featuring Mitchell, love it.

For more info and ticketing, please check out Blown Music and Touring: Site // ‘Under The Influence’ Facebook event.

Seedy Jeezus: Site // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Bandcamp // Soundcloud // Youtube.
Isaiah Mitchell: Site // Facebook // Twitter.
Earthless: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Bandcamp.
Golden Void: Facebook // Instagram // Bandcamp // Bigcartel // Last.fm // Thrill Jockey.

BLUES PILLS: ZACK ANDERSON Interview + Lady In Gold Review.

Words El Jefe.

BluesPills2016d_1200x800Based in Sweden, but drawing members from the States, and France as well as Sweden, Blues Pills present as diverse a lineage as their musical influences. Bassist Zack Anderson took the time to speak to me about the new LP, Lady In Gold.

El Jefe: Could you tell me a bit about the new record, recording experiences around it and how you approached it differently to the first LP?

Zack Anderson: The first one was a bit easier due to the fact that we already had the songs written. This time around, we were touring all the time and didn’t have many opportunities to stop and write. Because of this, we also had to work a lot harder to get it together. So the writing process was a lot slower. We’d go into the studio and put a few things down at a time and gradually add to it. This was done over about two years. But the actual recording process was much the same as the first record. We used the same studio and engineer, just spent more time writing and recording. And because the songs were a lot more diverse and had moved away a bit from the late ‘60s / early ‘70s blues rock of the first record, we were a bit worried about how this one would be received. We’ve introduced a lot of soul and Motown, and even folk. Elin (Larsson – vocals) is a huge Aretha Franklin fan (no surprises there! EJ) and added a lot of this into her vocals. So far, everyone has been really positive about it. Continue reading

SPACEJUNK ‘Bite Your Tongue’ LP Review and Gig Launch info.

Words Joel Parnell.

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘Space’ as “The region beyond the earth’s atmosphere or beyond the solar system” and ‘Junk’ as “Slang: Male genitalia”. These definitions withstanding, the latest offering from Melbourne scuzz-rock quartet Spacejunk is every bit as confronting, fun and perversely entertaining as a thousand half-erect penis’s flailing and jostling wildly in zero-gravity.

Spacejunk’s recorded work plays out a lot like their live set. They pretty much throw you straight in the deep end, no fucking around with softly plucked intros and shit. The atmosphere grows thick in an instant, engulfing you in a fog of violent, chaotic noise. The deep, hellish hum of bass turns your skin to fuzz as the piercing squeal of the band’s collective feedback challenges even the most seasoned of gig-goers to a battle between amp and ear-drum. Under this haze, however, you will find a great deal of musicianship on display. The drum work in particular, is stellar. Sweat drips from every pore of the four-headed rock monster as it thumps, screeches and bellows through the motions of it’s 40-odd minute tirade. Continue reading

KADAVAR, Child, Mt. Mountain, Elbrus. The Corner Hotel, Melbourne. 28-04-2016.

Words Anthony Moore.
Photos Stephen Boxshall.

© Stephen Boxshall 2016.When German long-haired fuzz rockers Kadavar last toured Australia, it was in 2013 as part of what turned into being a massive double header with Sweden’s Blues Pills. The buzz for both bands even before they hit was already huge and then as soon as they left, Australia was already eagerly awaiting their return. In Melbourne we were lucky enough to see them perform four shows over as many days and people are still talking about. Fast forward to 2016 and Australia is once again blessed to see Kadavar on our shores.

Cross Town Traffic wasn’t playing on the car stereo on Saturday night but was in my head as I stumbled haphazardly through side streets trying to evade capture on the main roads in an unexpected Saturday evening gridlock. Although it didn’t swallow me whole, it did unfortunately mean that I missed seeing Elbrus opening up the night at The Corner Hotel. Continue reading

JOEL PARNELL (THE PARNELLS) Interview, launch gig details & more!

Words Anthony Moore.
Photos Paul Dunham.

There are a few reasons why I wanted to do a Q&A with Joel Parnell, firstly, he writes exceptional pieces for Desert Highways, but that’s not the only reason, he’s also an awesome musician and songwriter. His newest creation, The Parnells (with younger brother Michael) are about to release their debut and do a double EP launch with Rathead at The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar.

I started with what I thought to be a ridiculous first question and Joel (who later admitted he was going to tell me to fuck off but wasn’t sure if I was being serious or not), went along and answered it beautifully.

Anthony Moore: Where does your band name come from?

Joel Parnell: Obviously the band name comes from our last name, which is Parnell. I guess we thought that it would be cool to use it because it has the feel of something like ‘The Ramones’ or ‘The Smiths’, only it actually is our real name. We also hope to bring in other Parnells on future records as most of the people in our family play music. If we have any success with the band, it would be nice to have made our name something to be proud of. Continue reading