Ahhh…nothing feels more like driving through the open desert, sun shining down, yucca-dotted leagues on either side, clean, hot air coming in the window, than Yawning Man. And nothing is like Yawning Man. I shouldn’t mention their integral relationship to the Kyuss/Yucca Valley crowd, because I don’t want to give the wrong impression. This isn’t heavy in the way of Kyuss or even Fatso Jetson, though Mario Lalli is indeed present; providing a bedrock-steady bass alongside Alfredo Hernandez. The magic spell that levitates the whole trip is Gary Arces firmament-straddling guitar, effervescent and unmistakable. Why aren’t labels falling over themselves to produce more of this guys material? Find out why Josh Homme, Brant Bjork and a slew of others call these guys the best band they ever heard at those early 90′s desert generator parties. Lovely limited swirled blue and white vinyl is only available at www.allthatisheavy.com for $14.99 or the band at shows. The rest are black.
Blasting through from left field, this heavy psychedelic monster has shades of everything from Jesu, Velvet Underground, Sabbath and Merzbow but I’m not sure I’ve heard anything like this band. Maybe this is what Monstermagnet hoped for but failed to achieve with ‘Tab…25′. This self-titled LP is by far the most visible release by the new York trio yet, and it’s the best place to start too. If I don’t want a track that’s already gone on for twelve-plus minutes to end, someone is doing something right. Dave W has a great instinct for when to bring that piercing guitar out from the haze as well. Hurry up, the back catalog is getting scarce and the label is on a 500 copy second pressing of this already. $15 at www.thrilljockey.com.
Phew…It’s about fucking time Southern Lord. I had that pang of guilt every time I put my original Man’s Ruin marbled grey (in the early black mass cover, naturally) on the turntable. That’s the price we vinyl nerds pay, you know. But they did it right. This isn’t just a reissue. It’s an event for anyone that worshipped these two records. There are extensive liner notes with commentary from Greg A and Pete Stahl on each and every track, the addition of the track ‘Knucklebuster’, amazing artwork and text on the inner sleeves and center label, 180 gram, and several different colors of vinyl to seek out. The jacket is a thick, matte finish affair too. They did it right and you can’t go wrong. Southern Lord has a great price on this mind-blowing affair as well, get it direct for $18 at www.southernlord.com
My new favorite experimental project. And I know to some who may be familiar with them, the exp word is conspicuous. But after almost two decades of listening to People Like Us, Beequeen, 310 and Big City Orchestra, I claim the right, by God. I know what’s going on here and I like it. The melodic distillation of cut-up sound, found sound, and excellent musicianship. I keep expecting the bewildering tumult to turn threatening but it never does. Stays well on the side of bright and sweet and whimsical – with just enough coded mystery to keep my head in the game. LP package is the coolest; a page of stickers inside the jacket is for decorating the cover any way you want. I don’t see many vinyl nerds defacing their copy, but the futility of it is somehow fitting in the playful, happenstance world of The Books. Available for the very nice price of $15 direct from the label at www.temporaryresidence.com.
This one-off release from Man’s Ruin way back is possibly one of the best heavy records the label released. Alfredo Hernandez and Brant Bjork are two thirds of this, and keep in mind that this isn’t long after Kyuss, the beginning of Qotsa, all of that. So that’s the spirit here. I can’t urge you enough to seek this out. All the tracks are up-tempo and energetic with unusual riff changes, anthemic melodies. Very nice. From www.auralexploits.com at the ridiculous price of $10.99
Kyuss ‘And The Circus Leaves Town’ LP
Kyuss ‘Blues for the Red Sun’ LP
Kyuss ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’ LP
Reissues of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age records are certainly out there, plaguing collectors who have to become familiar with matrix numbers and Stoughton versus folded jackets to get to the real thing. And it doesn’t help that these are German, like the majority of the boots. But these are not boots or poor quality knock-offs. These are 180 grams with impeccable sound and clear artwork probably from original films. This is really the way this band is meant to be heard. My only complaint would be that all three records are single lps, that’s too much time to put on one side of a record. But I must confess the sound doesn’t seemed to have suffered for this at all; it’s very clear and very loud. All three are available from one of the best vinyl stores out there too; www.auralexploits.com.
Memphis’ own beloved bard, wanderer and dejected clown, strumming his way through jaunty tunes, lyrics in tow. If Leonard Cohen worked the carnival midway, these are the kinds of songs he’d write in between his shifts of pulling the curtain on the fat lady or fixing the paper-mache chicken-snake. Check this out then work your way back to I’m Your Man, both this and more Bobo masterpieces from Goner Records for $11.99
I should just go ahead and mention the triptych of reissues on vinyl by the fascinating Type Records; Permafrost, Tiemo and Nunatuk Gongamur. Hardly interchangeable works if you know Koner, but still in the same universe. I was particularly happy about this since I’ve been having a “why isn’t this on vinyl?” tantrum about Permafrost since maybe 94. Boomkat may still have some, if not, there are several still at secondary sites/stores out there as I write this.
Still heads above countless crops of hazy psych-stoner bands out there, Dead meadow are timeless and dependable. I love how they are just as good at low volume – they still seem to fill the same amount of space. Many were disappointed in 2010s Three Kings, I wouldn’t know, didn’t hear it, but if you can still find it, this one is right up there with Shivering King… or Feathers. These are getting scarce now but I see there are still copies at Insound apparently.
If the guys from Zero 7 have a superpower, it’s finding unique talent and knowing how best to utilize it. Sia, Mozez and several others don’t seem to have the chops working on their own, post ‘The Garden’, but Jose Gonzalez has outshined his initial vehicle and continues to amaze. The smooth voice and laid-back delivery found on a couple of recent solo albums is fleshed out and made powerful with the addition a band that he had apparently been working with since before Zero 7. Amazing stuff. A high-quality package too; thick records, download included, very nice inner sleeves and matte-finish. Available from junip.net among many others.