Exoplanets are mysterious undiscovered places. Basically, they are all the planets that are situated outside of our milky way galaxy. They are so incredibly far away that we will probably never reach them, or even know if they have already expired or not. The beauty of them therefore is that you can endlessly imagine what they look like, and all your imaginations could be true. If you are a troupe of psychedelic astronauts like Moths & Locusts, you can imagine that they are a an endless source of inspiration…
For Canada’s Moths & Locusts Exoplanets constitutes their fourth full-length album. They have been around the block and back, and it shows. When it comes to reverb-drenched psychedelic rock so incredibly much has already been done since the acid days in the ’60s and yet they manage to come up with music that tickles my ears. So what’s going on here?
First of all, there is a beautifully balanced musical narrative in this album, starting off loud and abrasive with psychpunk blaster Cocaine Kangaroo, after which with each consecutive song a new world and atmosphere is explored until the song Avulsion seems to introduce the end of the world in a twisted biblical narrative that ends with the words “There will be fatalities, but cockroaches will never die”. And then Exoplanets starts.
In a genre that often detaches itself from much emotion, sometimes even literally drawing up a wall of purple smoke around itself as a guard to feeling anything, Moths & Locusts really does dare to explore new worlds on Exoplanets. The song’s sixteen minutes are so god damn heavily laden with the weight of the world (or perhaps worlds), giving the listener an intense sense of mourning with its dramatic vocal performance and cinematic soundscapes as it slowly and subtly builds up to a roaring rocket afterburner of feedback drenched heaviness. I bet Pink Floyd didn’t expect their machine would end up this way when they set the controls to the heart of the sun. It’s just beautiful really, and the unexpectedness adds to the experience, like a sudden ray of sunshine in the face while walking in the rain.
The album ends on an instrumental note with the psychedelic postrock track Fresh Red Blood, which is a welcome moment of contemplation after a full space travel experience like this. Moths & Locusts have really outdone themselves this time. They have explored their inner Exoplanets and found a fresh take on the space rock genre. For me personally it is a an album that captivates 2020 as the fucked up rollercoaster ride it has been more than any other piece of music I have experienced so far. And proof that sometimes good things do sprout from the bad.
What, no trick or treat!? No dressing up?! No freaky shenanigans or zombie walks?! No way! Like pretty much every social event Halloween is pretty much cancelled allover the world, but that should not be a reason not to get into the holiday mood. Luckily there are a bunch of bands who take on the challenge of fixing Halloween in your very living room. Bands from all kinds of different genres from psych to garage and afrobeat stoner to mathcore and metal have delivered some pretty scary tunes to release this month, most of them even with a little something to watch as well! So without further ado: let’s bring on the Halloween Stay Inside Party Pack!
Death Valley Girls- I’d Rather Be Dreaming (2020 Suicide Squeeze Records)
First up in our haunted house is the magnificent Death Valley Girls and their single I’d Rather Be Dreaming. They have just released their fourth album Under The Spell Of Joy of which this is one of the quieter, more mysterious tracks. Up front in the mix is a very characteristic creepy crawly organ that makes it an excellent fit with our Halloween theme. Make sure you also check out the rest of the album, if only for the crazy amount of sexy saxophone that is on there! check it here.
Here Lies Man-I Told You (You Shall Die) (2021 Riding Easy Records)
After that tasty morsel, we are ready for something a little different; well we have come to the right address for that with the new single by Here Lies Man. They are ready to release their fourth album of their own special brand of afrobeat stoner, which is still complete and utterly unique and a very interesting listen indeed. I Told You (You Shall Die) also perfectly fits our Halloween theme, as it would be a perfect match for a terrible 70s horror flick! Keep on eye on these creeps here.
The Paranoyds- Pet Cemetery (2020 Suicide Squeeze Records)
Next in line another Suicide Squeeze band with a Halloween-sized single: LA’s The Paranoyds bring the Stephen King scariness on Pet Cemetery, which they will also release as a 7 inch vinyl on cool coke bottle vinyl. Soundwise it is a little different from their otherwise pretty cheerful 90s-inspired indie rock, being a little gloomier and campier in the lyrics department. Still great fun though, check it all out here.
Komodo- Zig Zag (2020 Komodo)
Our next stop is a band from The Netherlands called Komodo! Not unlike their fellow countrymen My Baby they are playing an exotic, danceable type of blues-y 60s rock that would be perfectly suited for a Halloween party. Just put on your monkey suit and shake your bananas on the beat! Zig Zag is not (yet) part of a bigger release. You can find the song on all digital platforms here.
Gong-Wah- I Hate You (2020 Tonzonen Records)
From The Netherlands it is only a short drive to Cologne, Germany where we meet up with Gong-Wah and their infectuous new fuzzpopping single I Hate You, which would be perfect to play loud at those annoying people that refuse you candy during trick or treating, or well, there really are plenty of people you could play it to these days, just pick one! Keep a look out for the new self-titled album out on the brilliant Tonzonen Records in November. Check out more of the band here.
Crayon Sun- Roaches (2020 Sacred Love Records)
We stay in Europe with Belgium’s Crayon Sun, a band led by Aldo Struyf who you might know from illustrous bands like Creature With The Atom Brain and The Mark Lanegan Band. Their new single Roaches is not that much different soundwise from some of Lanegan’s work actually, and singer Dave Renier also has a characteristic, gravelly vocal presence. The music is cinematic, mysterious and danceable. Quite perfect for our Halloween evening I would say! Check out more Crayon Sun here.
The Glasspack- Candy Apples and Razorblades EP (2020 FREE DOWNLOAD)
Next up is a special Halloween release by Kentucky southern stoner rock band The Glasspack who you might know from a couple of pretty cool releases on the Small Stone label. For the fall holidays they have recorded a set of Misfits songs that would turn any Halloween party into a raucous pumpkin-punch throwing debauchery. And it is also a free download overhere!
Blood From The Soul- Calcified Youth (2020 Deathwish Inc)
Something really special is next with Napalm Death’s Shane Embury’s sideproject Blood From The Soul. In the early nineties he already released an album with Sick Of It All singer Lou Koller on which both unleashed their combined industrial fury. For Embury’s second outing he asked Converge caged vocal monkey Jacob Bannon for an even gnarlier result. I am quite sure I will talk about the album more in the future, but for now check out the Killing Joke-like Calcified Youth, and make sure you don’t sleep on the release of the album on November 13!
Walt’s Frozen Head-Walt’s Frozen Head (2020 Learn Fear Records)
Bringing back the weeeiiird from Leeds, UK is Walt’s Frozen Head with an absolutely mental self-titled single. I really don’t know anything creepier for Halloween than Walt Disney’s frozen head, or it must be that the punch would be so extremely laced with LSD that the party turns into this video. Check out more about the band here.
Another one right for the pumpkin season is this clip for Spearfinger by New York finest psychedelic stoner outfit Shadow Witch. Their album Under The Shadow Of A Witch came out right before the corona outbreak in February of this year, and we all know what that shitstorm meant for bands worldwide, so if you have some coins to spare,do not hesitate to order one of those scrumptuous looking brown vinyls directly from the band here.
Afterparty: Ghostlawns- Breaking Out (2020 Sub Records)
And that is all for our Stay Inside Halloween Party Pack! But no! Not yet! There is room for a little after party, isn’t there? Well, Ghostlawns straight out of Wales are here for the rescue. With an album called Motorik you might know what to expect, although the album itself has a lot more than just Kraftwerk-stylo beats on offer. The mellowed-out electronics combined with a real life drummer and shamanic Welsh-spoken lyrics are really something you should experience for yourself, Halloween hangover guaranteed! The album is out soon and can be purchased from the band here.
Ah earth! Beautiful chunk of rock and water in our galaxy. But wait! Let’s focus a bit more closely: what do we hear from that large morsel of land over there? The tunes are clearly coming from Australia, Sydney to be precise. Hovering above this vast Ozzie metropolis we spot a dark, smokey building and hurry inside. But we have not reached the stage yet. We need to descend the stairs. The air is getting hazy now from all the green smoke emanating from the depths below. We revolve towards an abyss down a seemingly endless stairwell while the sound of three clearly talented lads starts getting louder and louder…
The smell of sweat intermingles with the smoke as we finally reach the ground floor of the building where our band is playing circled by a crowd that is not so much an audience as a cult following. Ecstatic bodies shoot in and out the colored smoke as the band wriggles and writhes and bellows their sermons into the room. We have arrived in the church of Narla where they perform their dark psychblues rituals…
Playing live can be a religious experience, and Narla knows this better than most. Their album Till The Weather Changes was recorded live to captivate the magic of a band that jams. Repetition is the game, and Narla plays its bluesy indie jamrock with all the inner fire they can muster. The recording sounds rough, but it wasn’t meant to be perfect, it was meant to capture a moment, a bound energy of three synched musicians, and it does that really well. A band like the amazing Comets On Fire comes to mind, although Narla also has its subtler moments where they quietly noodle in beauty. Till The Weather Changes feels like a dark photograph that was slightly moved; it captures a spirit that would probably have flown out had they tried to confine it in a full studio setting.
Till The Weather Changes is an honest record. What you see is what you get; three guys playing like they have never done anything else in their lives. In a world full of autotune and multi-layered studio recordings they are a breath of fresh air. We take that breath, and zoom out onto planet earth. The planet is big and vast, but three tiny little humans in a basement in Sydney have just created something worthwhile. Isn’t that what life is all about?
So I am a freak, right? A weirdo. And this is my shrine, my Weirdo Shrine. And of course we need some songs of worship; so presto changeo: Songs Of Worship by Kimono Drag Queens is here to provide that soundtrack!
But first: play this:
Ok, now that you’re warm and cozy: what’s the fuzz about here? I am reading David Mitchell’s new novel Utopia Avenue, and this is an excellent soundtrack to it. The book is brand new, it just came out this year, but it’s subjectmatter is as retro as it gets. It’s about a newly formed psychedelic rock band in early sixties London. They hang out with the likes of Sydd Barret, David Bowie, and many more while there is always some spot-on tune lurking in the background. The thing is: it is non-apologetically new, but it takes elements from the psychedelic sixties and transforms it into something similar yet quite different. Just like Kimono Drag Queens.
Here is an Australian band that will appeal to the Khruangbin crowd, as well as to fellow countrymen like Tame Impala or King Gizzard (but their more mellow side). They cut their psychedelics with pretty poppy hooks, sometimes even going a little overboard on the sweet and sugary to my taste. Songs Of Worship is strongest when it explores repetition, taking on an extremely comfortable floaty, atmospheric, fleeting sound. Kudos to their producer too, because soundwise this is a treat.
Wild Animals has a strong Band Of Skulls vibe which I dig, while Evil Desires shears past my allergy zone with its merry Afro-beats and guitar lines, but it saves itself as it gets a tad heavier along the way with some rhythmic fireworks at the end. Willys World starts of a little problematic with its obligatory guitar/sitar sounds, but develops as the album’s strongest song with a perfect built-up and a powerful head-bobbing riff that will worm itself inside your head for a while afterwards.
Like Utopia Avenue, Songs Of Worship won’t necessarily bring new content to the table, but it does provide a modern angle to psychedelics that sheds some new light to it. Besides that, it is a very pleasant listen that will go down easily like some THC-infused candy. Sometimes too sweet to my taste, yet addictive all the same.
For my first write-up after a long while I couldn’t have picked a better start. Dive with me into the rollercoaster rabbit hole that is the new Hey Colossus…
If you’re listening to the narrator of The Mirror you can feel that Mark Lanegan approves of this album, and of course I have no option but to fully agree. Subconsciously this band and I have been around the block. They are like that beautiful girl you knew when you were young and that shows up years later as grown woman and still gives you a mini-heart attack. I remember seeing Hey Colossus in Tilburg around 2007 on ZXZW festival (later to be Incubate Festival) and they were still some uber-heavy sludge metal band. While those days are far gone, they shedded their heavy skin for a much more interesting chameleon hide. On Dances/Curses Hey Colossus sound like Swans if they upped the beat and played Autobahn all the time. Or Motorpsycho playing their favorite Joy Division songs, or…well, you catch my drift.
Space is the place, and time does not have a lot of meaning for these guys. Dances/Cursus gives us no less than seventy minutes (two discs!) of relentless built-ups, angular space jams, and some righteous vocals. A Trembling Rose is the album’s “piece de resistance” clocking over 16 minutes, and ending in one of the most breathtaking crescendos this side of 2020. It’s these moments, when the record takes flight, and you can’t help but just lift up and surrender to the thrusting throb of the drums, that the album shows real masterpiece moments. Dances? Maybe, but curses definitely. Curses at corona for not being able to watch this trip machine live any time soon. I curse these guys for having the guts to jam, fuck time and space, and write their music straight from the heart.
Hey Colossus is a band that consciously defies boundaries, of time but also of genre. You could try to pigeonhole them, as I tried, but you would only capture them in a moment that would be gone the next time you look. Dances/Curses is an excellent glance at what they can be though. But I’ll stop my rambling. By now it should be clear enough you are going to need to buy this record. It’s got Mark Lanegan’s gravelly voice telling us he’s “navigating a black hole”. The other seventy minutes are a bonus, really.