King Buffalo’s Dead Star

Something special and very intriguing is happening out in Rochester New York. That is where the fast rising three piece band known as King Buffalo roam. The bands sound is not easily defined and does to fit nicely into one category of music. They shape shift through many elements of sounds and genre. On the bands social media pages they define themselves as heavy blues, psychedelic and stoner Rock. In my opinion though, that is selling themselves short. I also have to admit, I can’t really get the pulse of what their sound is. I love that about them.  If I were forced to throw out names of bands that I find in the same wheel house I would say, All Them Witches, Tool, and The Well. King Buffalo are masters of melody and layers and have already made a name for themselves with their previous releases “Orion” and “Longing To Be The Mountain.” They also have an killer little EP tilted “Repeater” under their belt.

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On March 20th King Buffalo will release yet another great record called “Dead Star.” The album features six songs that are nothing short of epic. First off, I have to say the album as a great sound and a wonderful mix. The drums sound fat and punchy, The bass cuts through and the guitar as all the fuzz and balls you could wish for. The albums kicks off with “Red Star” parts one and two and its a sixteen minute journey. The low end rumble and bluesy guitar riff grabbed my attention right away. It just builds so much tension. Drummer Scott Donaldson tribal style drumming work creates such a cool dynamic. When the guitar hit its first big ring out followed by the big drum roll I literally dropped a “fuck yeah” out loud. Sean McVay’s guitar work is brilliant and his vocals fit so well. The bass playing by Dan Reynolds is the glue that holds it all together. What a way to start an album!

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The albums second track “Echo of a Waning Star” as that All Them Witches vibe to it. I dig the quirky little guitar riff its built around. The vocals sound great and sit in the pocket perfectly. Again, Reynolds kills it on bass. King Buffalo then shift sonically into “Ecliptic” which starts off with some extremely epic synth work. The song beats along under the synth in an almost action move suspense thriller vibe. Think Rocky fighting zombie Vikings.

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“Dead Star” then really hits high gear for me on “Eta Carinae.” This is by far my favorite track off the album. The band clicks on all levels on this one. The feel                     on “Eta Carinae”  and push are badass. I love the guitar riff and triplet style to it.  It shuffles along with a James Bond vibe to it. The twin guitar solo work is brilliant and Donaldson kills it on drums. “Eta Carinae” on the surface level sounds like a simple song but if you listen closely there is a lot of little details going on that all build on each other. The song then slams hard into a Tool style riff and McVay’s vocals fit over the top like a glove. The sabbath style lead on guitar is a very nice touch. I also love how the band pounds you into submission with the riff while some synth work chokes you out.

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The album then down shits into the title track “Dead Star.” This song has folk vibe to it and features some great acoustic guitar work. The song builds like a swell with layers being added to create a . The different guitar parts work so well together. This track is a bold and brilliant way to end the album. It gives a conclusion to the story that is “Dead Star” in a way.  I really dig this album and this band. I highly suggest you check them out and if you get the chance catch them live. King Buffalo are defiantly going places.

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Lowrider to Infinity and Beyond

 

 

Oh man. Its seems like just yesterday my mind was blown when I heard Lowrider’s debut album ‘Ode To Io’ for the first time. I remember thinking this is a game changer. That opening riff and fuzzed out tone hit my soul heart hard. That album is without a doubt is a highpoint of the genre. It’s so hard to believe that was two decades ago already.  If you would have told me back in 2000 that we would have to wait until 2020 to get another record from Lowrider I surely would have been seriously bummed out. I considered Lowrider part of that special class of the genre with other heavyweights such as Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Melvins, Fatso Jetson, CoC and QOTSA. You know, the hall of fame of stoner rock. That was how freaking good that debut record was.

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Well now its 2020 and I’ll be dammed if Lowrider hasn’t done it again. The Sweden based bands new album ‘Refractions’ is a stunner packed with six brilliant songs. “Refractions” hits you you hard from the start with a track called “Red River.” Just like the opening track “Caravan” off “Ode To Io” did twenty years ago. You just hear the riff and know you are about to experience something that is superior. Lowrider just as that chemistry, sound and style that put them in an upper class. When “Red River’ hits you instantly know its Lowrider. It just as that sound. But, even though it has that classic Lowrider sound it sounds fresh and energized. Because of Lowrider’s legend they could have easily put out a straight forward and safe record and it probably would have still been a success. But instead, they pushed it and in my opinion only grew they’re legend.

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The albums second track “Ode To Ganymede” is such a badass groovy song. The guitar work by  Ola Hellquist and Niclas Stalfors is haunting and beautiful. Packed with tasty riffs and Cathy melodies Lowrider shows just how good they are at their craft on this one. The songs breakdown is fire with some more killer guitar work and some nice work on the keys. The song hits full speed on a giant chug chug riff that crushes. “Ode To Ganymede” is definitely a high point for me on ‘Refractions’.

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On the track “Sernanders Krog” Peder Bergstrand sounds great on vocals. The song as a nice little shuffle to it and again uses a killer breakdown. The guitar solo is huge and pushed by an amazing fuzzed out tone. “Refractions” then shifts into a punchy track titled “Ol’ Mule Pepe”. I love the push the song as driving the riff home. Andreas Eriksson on drums and Peder Bergstrand on bass lock in and drive this sucker home. No surprise that this track also as a rad riff and lead work on it.

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Lowrider then just full  go into brain melting mode on the track  “Sun Devil / M87*”. Just shy of five minutes this track is instrumental madness. Killer riffs stacked on more killer riffs.  The boys really get to spread their wings and show their chops on this one. Lowrider can shred while still keeping the groove and soul. That is not always the easiest thing to do. “Refractions” then ends with an eleven minute and twenty-five second epic anthem titled “Pipe Rider.” The track starts with a low rumble underneath some dreamy guitar work. Bergstrand’s vocal performance is great. Lowrider end things heavy, big and left me in awe.

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I’ve had this album for about a month now and its been consistently in my rotation. I’ve only learned to appreciate and love it more with every listen. I’m so thankful that Lowrider decided to come back and give this world more music. They just have that spark or special something. “Refractions” will go down as one of those elite albums for the stoner rock genre. The song writing, tones and production are perfect. I don’t have the words to really speak to how good this band is. Lets just all hope that we will get more music from them sooner then twenty years!

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Mondo Generator say F**K It with a triumph return.

 

 

So first off let’s just throw out some facts. Nick Oliveri is with out a doubt a genuine bad ass rock star. He is the real deal folks and the music he as given the worlds speaks for itself.. His style is unmistakable and his sound is legendary.  So if you’re asked to be part of his band you must be a total badass as well. The current line up Nick is utilizing for Mondo Generator may just be the best one yet. I mean that with all the respect in the world to all the past members and contributors of course. I mean Mondo as always used the best. However, the current power trio of Mondo Generator is clicking and locked into some special kind of chemistry. First off you got guitar wizard Mike Pygmie (John Garcia and the band of Gold, You Know Who, Wizards) doing is thing. You also have  Mike Amster ( Nebula) who is a total beast on the drums. The  musicianship on the upcoming Mondo  record “Fuck It’ is next level. Both Mike Pygmie (Guitar) and newcomer Mike Amster  crushed it.  Nick and crew have Mondo sounding better and bigger than ever. “Fuck It” is fire and only adds too Oliveri’s legend.

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So let’s talk “Fuck IT.” It’s made of thirteen ass kicking songs that encompass the many styles of Nick Oliveri and his great career. If you’re a Kyuss fan there are songs for you. If you’re a QOTSA fan you will hear some of that Oliveri magic. If your a Mondo Generator fan you will not be disappointed either. This album as grooves, screams and in your face energy that hits hard and loud. Oliveri also straight sings on this record which I love. I think he is a very underrated singer and as a great voice. Of course I also really dig his scream.

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“Fuck It” starts strong with the track “Nowhere Man” and a killer riff that reminds me of early Danzig. Oliveri’s bass line and vocals sound killer. The songs rhythm takes many twists and turns and I love it. Pygmie delivers the goods on the guitar solo. The second track Up Against The Void is a blast beat infused hardcore throwback that fits Oliveri signature scream oh so well. The song highlights some serious mental guitar riffs and insane drumming. The first two tracks of “Fuck It’ showcase the talents of Oliveri’ Pygmie and Amster while kicking you in the teeth.

 

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Track three “Kyuss Dies’ hits you hard with a catchy groove and a melody that bounces around in your brain. The lyrics on this track are great and I love the riffs. Especially the bridge with its tweaked out haunting guitar work. Track four “Turboner” is a classic Mondo sounding song equipped with that famous Oliveri scream and attitude of just giving zero fucks. This song as  the bass and guitar doing some rad runs in it. Lets us also give credit to “Kyuss Dies” and “Turboner”  being killer song titles.

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The song “As Good As It Gets Or Fuck It” is the shit.  Pygmie brings it with a hooky Guitar line that elevates the song. The breakdown is bonkers and so so rad. The vocals are great and the guitar work is swell. For me, this song is one of my favorites of “Fuck It.” The album then takes you back to the good ole days of punk with “When Death Comes.” Nick’s vocals sound great and the lyrics are hilarious. This song is a big load. LOL

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Track seven “Listening To Th Daze” is a true mind melter. It reminds me of acid punk on fire. Killer guitar work and rhythms. Amster brings it on this one and holds down the fort while Oliveri and Pygmie blaze over the top. The songs breakdown highlights Oliveri vocals. The album then turns up the acid jazz punk with a hint of surf guitar on  “Silver Tequila New.” The boys get to show their chops on this one on some what of extended intro. After the intro melts you Nick delivers another strong vocal performance over a killer riff. Oliveri’s bass lines shred on this one.

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Track nine Nick calls in his friend OLGA form Svetlanas to make a guest vocal appearance and she kills it. The tone of her voice and the tone of Nicks voice work so well together. They have the call and response thing going over the top of a burn every thing down to the ground vibe. Next the album brings another twisty riff on “There’s Nothing Wrong.” Pygmie drops another rad guitar solo and the band pushes things riff wise keeping you on your toes. Track eleven “Death Van Trip” is another favorite off the record for me. Love the riffs. Love the vocals and the tempo changes. Pygmie Armster and Oliveri are very good at their instruments individually with out a doubt but they also gel so perfectly together. “Death Van Trip” is a great example of this.

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Up next we get “Its You I don’t Believe” and it’s a total ass kicker. I love the use of stops and hits. Amster really shines on this one. Next up is probably my favorite track on the entire record.  “Option Four” has a little Henry Rollins Black Flag vibe but in the style of Nick Oliveri. First off, the circus riff is insane and catchy as all fuck. But the narration style vocals and lyrics from Oliveri just make for such a unique and brilliant vibe. Nick is great story teller and doesn’t get enough credit for his lyrics. The songs middle part as a change of pace that kicks down the door down and beats you to a pulp. LOVE THIS SONG! Option four bitches!

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So… my advice if you are a fan of any music project Nick Oliveri related you need this album. It rips! Mondo is back and on fire. It’s been eight long years since we got an album from Mondo and the wait was worth it. Led by the legendary and always dangerous Nick Oliveri Mondo will release “Fuck It” via HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS on February 21st. If you buy the disc version you even get a bonus track!! The album was recorded at Josh Homme’s Pink Duck studio and the tones and production are great. Like I said before, if you’re a fan of any of Oliveri’s projects you will find something to like about this record.  “Fuck It” puts Mondo back on top and I’m sure will end up being on a lot of best of the year lists come December.

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Big Scenic Nowhere is “Vision Beyond Horizon”

I’ve always said that music should be considered its own element. Sure maybe it’s not as vital as air or water but it is powerful and it can move someone. Any fan of music can attest to this. Certain songs or albums you can literally close your eyes and hear and travel to another moment in time or have your entire mood change.  But those certain songs or albums are in a different league than others. They have the special it and a magic that can’t be explained. For me, “Vision Beyond Horizon” by Big Scenic Nowhere has that magic. 

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Big Scenic Nowhere is truly a supergroup that includes the elite of the stoner rock scene. Built around Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) and Gary Arce (Yawning Man) the band had automatic credibility and a buzz throughout the scene. But what caught my attention and intrigue was that even though both Fu Manchu and Yawning Man have been pioneers of the stoner and desert rock genre and are absolute legends they are drastically different in style. Balch and Fu Manchu are fuzzed out balls to the walls riff gods. Yawning Man are ambient and spacey with layers that bend time . I could not wait to hear how Balch and Arce would sound together and what they would come up with. Soon, other names surfaced on who would be involved. Legendary names like Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Mondo Generator) and Bill Stinson (Yawning Man) only added to the hype.  Then you hear the road warrior and “Mos Generator” leader Tony Reed was on board. Tony’s son Kylen Reed also got in on the act contributing bass on a track.  Mix in Lisa Alley and Ian Graham from “The Well” and the intrigue and excitement only grew bigger. Balch and Acre also recruited Per Wiberg (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth) to do some work on the keys. Lastly, and for me this just put things over the top, was the announcement that the god father of the desert Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson) and musical genius Alain Johannes (QOTSA, Them Crooked Vultures) were also part of this. Balch and Arce did not hold back on getting the cream of the crop. With every name that leaked as a contributor the hype only grew. 

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Let me be really clear about something! Big Scenic Nowhere is not just hype or a superband novelty act. I’m sure that no matter what Bach, Arce and this amazing list of musicians came up with would have sold and been a success just on their track record and rock god status alone. But, what makes Big Scenic Nowhere so special is that it is far from cookie cutter and the music is so free and pure. The songs are crafted beautifully  and are delivered in such an authentic vibe. I’m not just talking tones, mix or production. Either. You can literally hear and feel the chemistry that magically Balch and Arce orchestrated.  

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So let’s break down  “Vision Beyond Horizon”

Track one titled “The Glim” hits you hard right out of the gate and hooks you deep. Its built around a swanky riff that rolls you along and is trance-like. I get a taste of Pink Floyd or some of the more complex tracks from Soungarden. Dare i say I even get a Moody Blues type feeling. “The Glim” is so unique and beautifully written that is littearlly  the best description I could come up with. Written by Balch, Arce and Johannes “The Glim” sets the tone for the rest of the album.  The guitar work is masterful and the vocal performance by Johannes is Haunting and moving. “The Glim” is one hell of a way to kick of “Vision Beyond Horizon”

Alain Johannes (Vocals, Lead Guitar)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Tony Reed (Mellotron) 

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drum

 

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Track Two “The Paranoid” is a punch to the face old school hardcore track with face melting guitar work. Featuring Tony Reed on Vocals and a strong bass performance by his son Kylen “The Paranoid” is sure to get you going.  I hear some Bad Brains and early COC.  Also, it is actually Tony Reed beating the drums on this one and he killed it! 

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Kylen Reed (Bass)

Tony Reed (Drums)

 

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Track Three  “Then I was Gone” is built on another rad riff. The vibe is dark, dissonant and a bit mysterious. Ian Graham and Lisa Alley’s vocal performance is strong and helps drive this vibe home. I love the lyrics on this one. You can hear a bit of the Fu Manchu style in the fuzzy guitar and also some Queens Of The Stone Age mixed in. Again though, Big Scenic is so unique it’s hard to pinpoint a sound. “Then I Was Gone” is very contemporary but has this shine of something very 60’s or early 70’s to it. You just don’t hear music like this anymore.  I love how the songs main riff pushes while the chorus riff pulls. 

Ian Graham (Vocals)

Lisa Alley (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Bob Balch (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

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Track Four “Mirror Image” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Its heavy and dark but in such a graceful way. Tony Reed absolutely crushed it vocally on this one.  The way he harmonizes and layers the vocals paint over the songs rhythm perfectly. The guitar tones are fuzz gone wild with punch and force. First time i heard “Mirror Image” I knew that it was Nick Oliveri on bass instantlly. His style and aggressive bass playing are so recognizable and classic. I love how the bass pushes this song along driven the riff home. The break down is amazing. That guitar tone is fire and  the lead work is pure gold. It shreds but delivers with a delcious melody and structure. I hear Alice In Chains meets Ozzy  with some Mos Generator all being conducted by Bowie. 

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Nick Oliveri (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track five “Hidden Wall” is another beautiful trip back in time. It has a Floyd thing mixed with Zeppelin’s “No Quarter”  feel to it. Great work on the keys and Mellotron help paint this picture. Again, great guitar tones and riff. The lead work by Arce soars on this one. “Hidden Wall”  is one of those tracks that have so many little details and nuances to it. I suggest multiple sessions jamming this track with headphones. All the instruments works so well together and add so many layers to sink your teeth into.

Tony Reed (Vocals, Electric Piano)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Per Wiberg (Mellowtron)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track six “Shadows From The Altar”  is dark southern fried riff driven ride. The guitar tone is raunchy and huge. Arce paints some trippy guitar work on top that adds some depth and texture. It’s not just the go to southern rock solo you would expect. He gets a little exotic on the scale or mode he uses. Once again Lisa Alley and Graham vocally sound great. The lyrics are bad ass. Mario Lalli drops some killer bass lines to add more depth. It’s got a ZZ Top vibe with huge balls mixed with a little Soundgarden and Sabbath. I love the way Balch and Arce layer the guitars on this one. The difference in styles really shine and show how they work when comparing the rhythm and solo work.  

Ian Graham (Vocals)

Lisa Alley (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track Seven “En Las Sombras” is a Pink Floyd vibe with a hint of that Lenny Breau jazz genius. This track is so good it’s almost not fair. Johannes shines vocally while Mario’s bass work is tasteful and sweet. Again, Big Scenic Nowhere create a sound that brings you back in time. “En Las Sombras” reminds me of the earlier years of Fleetwood Mac before they became a mainstream pop band.   I’m talking about something of the  “The Future Game” record. One of the things that makes this song so special is the lead guitar work. Balch, Arce and Johannes trade of solos and it creates such a rad dynamic. Their styles are different and you can really hear it in this tune.  “En Las Sombras” to me is a landmark song and the fact that Big Scenic Nowhere captured this on tape is a treasure to the world. This song blew my mind!

Alain Johannes (Vocals, Fretless Guitar)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar) 

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track eight “Tragic Motion Lines” is a very unique song with amazing guitar tones and a trippy guitar tuning. The song really uses the power of dynamics well and the guitar punches hard. Again great lead guitar work over another badass riff. Tony Reed delivers another strong vocal performance with great melodies and lyrics.   

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Bob Balch (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

Track nine “The War Years” is the perfect way to end the journey through “Vision Beyond Horizon.” It is mellow tune but dark, strong and complex. Again I hear early Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. It’s a bit of an acid trip and a beautifully written song. I dig the moog and the intricate guitar work. This is a great track to help escape the grind of reality. 

Tony Reed (Vocals, Moog)

Bob Balch (Electric Guitar, Nylon String Guitar)

Gatos Trail (Percussion)

Per Wilberg (Mellowtron)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

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So….. Basically what Big Scenic Nowhere gave the world through “Vision Beyond Horizon” is a masterful musical journey. I love how real and authentic it sounds. Some supergroups or collaborations can come of so contrived and forced. Balch and Arce really orchestrated the perfect blend of everyone’s talents and styles. The band first gave us an amazing two song EP “Dying On The Mountain” that only grew the bands hype and legend.(See My Review Here) Now with “Vision Beyond Horizon” the hype and legend are only confirmed and have grown. I can only hope that we will get more releases from this group. The music world needs it! I’m also hopeful that at some point a live version of Big Scenic Nowhere will hit the road and I will get the chance to see them live. I know that they are scheduled to make an appearance at this year’s Stoned And Dusted. That promises to be amazing.  If you are a fan of stoner rock or the desert scene you need this record. If your a fan of music in general you need this record. It is hard to put in words what Big Scenic Nowhere truly sounds like other then amazing. Do yourself a favor and check them out! Big Scenic Nowhere really pushed the boundaries of musically but does not loose sight of great song craft.

Past Interview I did with Bob Balch

Big Scenic Nowhere on Thee Facebooks

Big Scenic Nowhere on Instagram

Big Scenic Nowhere on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

BIG SCENIC NOWHERE – CREDITS

Debut album ‘Vision Beyond Horizon’

Out 31.01.20 on Heavy Psych Sounds

 

Full lineup:

Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) – Guitar / Bass on all tracks

Gary Arce (Yawning Man) – Guitar on all tracks

Tony Reed (Mos Generator) – Vocals / Keys / Drums 

– Vocals / Guitar

Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Mondo Generator) – Bass

Bill Stinson (Fu Manchu) – Drums

Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetso) – Bass

Per Wiberg (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth) – Keys

Lisa Alley (The Well) – Vocals

Ian Graham (The Well) – Vocals

Kylen Reed – Bass

 

Albums of 2019

Another year in the books. While I wanted to have a more detailed list out sooner I’ve been dealing with some health issues. But all is good and it is what it is. I hope everyone one has a wonderful 2020!! Let’s get to my list!!

1. John Garcia & The Band Of Gold – self titled

2. Year Of The Cobra Ash & Dust

3. Big Scenic Nowhere Dying On The Mountain

4. Nebula Holy Shit!

5. ToolFear Inoculum

6. Monolord – NoComfort

7. Planet Of Zeus – Faith In Physics

8. Russian Circles Blood Year

9. Yawning ManMacedonian Lines

10. Brume – Rabbits

Bob Balch Talks Big Scenic Nowhere & More.

WORM – First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Could you tell us a bit how Big Scenic Nowhere got started?

BALCH – Gary had the name a few years back and they did a few gigs but that’s it I think. I’ve known Gary since 1997 or so. Fu Manchu practiced in his house in the desert around then. Last year he came back from tour and posted a Del Taco pic. I commented with my usually order of a regular red burrito with sour cream. Right after that he called me and said that we should jam and call it Doom Buggy. I said sure, we jammed but then I learned that Doom Buggy was taken already so he offered up Big Scenic Nowhere.

WORM – How did the name Big Scenic Nowhere come to be?

BALCH – It’s a street in the desert. He named the band after that. I’ll include a pic

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WORM – You have contributions from so many amazing talents on “Dying On The Mountain.” How did you all decide who to get involved?

BALCH –  We just started tossing names around. I’ve known Nick Oliveri since 1997 too. Fu Manchu toured Europe with QOTSA back then. We brought him up, I offered Tony Reed. He’s super talented. Fu just got off of tour with his band Mos Generator.I’ve done interviews with THE WELL for my site PlayThisRiff.com. I thought they would be a good fit. We both know Mario Lalli. Mario and Bill Stinson play in Yawning Man with Gary. I’ve done PlayThisRiff interviews with Mario as well. Nick too now that I think of it! And Thomas from Monolord is on the site too! So is Tony Reed. I guess we can credit the site. Ha!

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WORM – What is Playthisriff.com all about?

BALCH – I started that in 2008. It’s a site that hosts videos of artists teaching their own songs. I film them, edit, make the guitar tabs and post. It’s a subscription site. Some pretty big names on there! CLUTCH, MEGADETH, MC5, QOTSA, YOB, CIRCLE JERKS, BLACK FLAG. Lots of rock, metal, punk and stoner stuff

 

WORM – Do you have a wishlist of musicians you would like to work with Big Scenic Nowhere?

BALCH –  It’s giant! We are already talking about the next record and who to ask. The list keeps growing and some people have already said yes. Don’t want to jinx it but people are gonna flip out.

WORM – You and Gary have very unique and different styles. How would you describe your style and Garys style? 

BALCH –  I’m all over the place. I teach guitar for a living so I’m forced to learn a bunch of different styles. For this stuff though I wanted to be fuzzed out because I thought that would be a good juxtaposition against his dreamy delay drenched guitar and odd tunings.

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WORM – The tones you guys got going on this record are amazing. Can you tell us about what gear you used when recording?

BALCH – I used my signature Rola amp, a bunch of pedals but my main fuzz was a Regulus VIII by Creepy Fingers Effects. Nick used his QOTSA SVT which I was super stoked on! Gary had a 70s Fender combo. A 6×12 I thing. It’s was super tall!

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WORM – Speaking of  your signature amp, you recently announced you have your own Rola model. What is that thing all about?

BALCH –  It’s like an 80s Marshall 800 but with KT88s and an extra master volume. I love Rola. They are killing it!

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WORM – I also saw recently that your Fu Manchu band mate Brad Davis, who also is the mastermind of Creepy Finger Effects, made a Balch Fuzz pedal. How did that happen come about?

BALCH – I do a strange thing in the studio with FU. Two fuzz pedals at once. One has the bias control choked to act as a gate and the other fuzz is super blown out. The combo sounds insane. Davis found a way to make that sound with one pedal.

WORM – Is your live setup usually different than what you use in the studio? How do you get that Fuzz tone live?

BALCH –  I use a Creepy Fingers Regulus VIII which kicks major ass. But now that Brad Davis built “The Balch” I’m good to go! That’s pretty much my studio sound.

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WORM – How did the writing process for Big Scenic Nowhere go?

BALCH –  Gary and I jammed for 5 hours. I recorded it. I went home and arranged the riffs into songs. Then I brought those demos into a real studio to have musicians play over them to get actual takes. After that we emailed stems to singers/synth players. Per from Opeth played Synth on the long jam. Tony Reed did too.

WORM – What is next for Big Scenic Nowhere?

BALCH –  Full length comes out early January named “Vision Beyond Horizon.” Alain Johannes is on that one. We are also going to do a three day jam session with a bunch of musicians in November that should be released summer 2020.

WORM –  Did Alain Johannes produce the full length as well as perform on it?

BALCH –  No, he offered up killer vocals and guitars but I guess we all produced it. I oversaw everything but everybody contributed a ton.

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WORM – How would you describe the vibe of “Vision Beyond Horizon?”

BALCH –  Songs. Lots of influences but Pink Floyd shines through. Soundgarden too. It’s all over the place really.

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WORM – Anything in the future from Fu Manchu or Sun and Sail Club?

BALCH –  Fu Manchu is going to be really busy 2020. 30th anniversary! We will be touring a bunch and playing songs from our entire catalogue! We are also working on an EP now too! Sun And Sail is always on my mind. I have like two records ready to go! Just trying to find the right time to get that going again. Those dudes rule!

 

WORM – Anything else you would like us to know?

BALCH –  Eddie and the Cruise 2 (not one) and Shock Em Dead are the two best movies ever made

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I wanted to thank Bob Balch for taking the time to do this interview. Be sure to keep an eye out for the release of “Vision Beyond Horizon” from Big Scenic Nowhere in 2020. In the meantime you can head over to bluesfuneralrecordings.bandcamp to get “Dying On The Mountain.” Or, you can purchase the vinyl here.  Mr. Balch as some big things coming in the future. New Big Scenic Record, New Fu Manchu and possibly a new Sun And Sail Record as well.

*** BIG SCENIC NOWHERE ***

Sitting under the sun swaying with the waves. The oceans mountains begin to move. With the force under your feet floating you escape. If just for a moment you are free becoming part of the sea. This feeling. This magic. Is surfing. The debut EP of super group Big Scenic Nowhere gave me a similar feeling as soon as the first note from the opening track  “Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 1) / Altered Ages / Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 2)” hit me hard. The twenty minute Saga consisting of three parts rolls in like a wave. It moves you with power and beauty. This should not be a surprise though considering who is involved in Big Scenic Nowhere. Founded by desert guitar legends Bob Balch (FU MANCHU, SUN AND SAIL CLUB) and Gary Acre (YAWNING MAN, TEN EAST)  you know the bands riffs will be be next level. Joining Balch and Acre is a list of all star talent. Both Nick Oliveri (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, KYUSS, DWARVES) and Mario Lalli (YAWNING MAN, FATSO JETSON) contribute on bass. I probably do not have to tell you that these dudes are legends! Rounding out the rhythm section is Bill Stinson (Yawning Man) on drums. Many other amzing talents also made contributions.(Full list Below) Big Scenic Nowhere lays down such a solid foundation and captures that certain “feel” that can’t really be explained. But if you are like me and love music you know what I’m talking about. 

Stinson plays with a special grace on “Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 1) / Altered Ages / Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 2)” while a killer bass line is sweeps in and out. The drums and Bass lay down that solid and magical foundation The guitar work of both Acre and Balch shines on this track. The melodies they use playing off each other are masterful. The songs breakdown about six minutes in puts you in a trance. The synth work and guitar line work so well together. It slowly builds up while the vocals build. The line “Where do I come From” echos in a haunting manner. Hitting back into a big riff the band hits you with so many textures. There is so much to grasp and take in. But yet, all the parts work so well together. The spacey style of Acre and the ferocious style of Balch work like thunder and lighting. Together they take the song to another level with amazing leads and rhythms. The twenty minute song slowly winds down like a wave returning to its home in the sea.   

The second track “Towards The Sun” hits hard with a killer riff that is heavy with a little bit of a spooky feel to it. The track features vocals from Tony Reed (Mos Generator) and Thomas V. Jäger (MONOLORD). The lyrics are great and fit the vibe of the song perfectly.  The song reminds me of a black sabbath style song but with more colors in it. (No pun intended) “Towards The Sun” has that beautiful atmospheric feel that Acre is known for but with a monster pushing it. Again, Big Scenic Nowhere delivers that special feel. They just have that magic.  “Towards The Sun” also features a badass raunchy guitar solo that is delivered with great taste. The tones on this are just amazing. The guitars sound big and warm but with grit and power. I love the mix and the use of synth on both tracks.

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Big Scenic Nowhere had a lot of hype since the project was announced. I can tell you that for me it has lived up to the hype and far beyond. What a freaking debut!! I can only hope that we will get music from Big Scenic Nowhere for years to come and have a chance to see this beautiful monster live. You all better head over to https://bigscenicnowherestore.bigcartel.com to buy your vinyl and CDs fast. The band has both Red and Blue vinyl available but very few of the red. So, if you are a collector you best get that RED one fast.  Also get yourself ready for Big Scenic Nowhere to put out a full length record courtesy of Heavy Psych Sounds Records sometime in 2020. Pre sale will start October 3rd. Head over to www.heavypsychsounds.com to get in on that.

Big Scenic Nowhere is 

 Bob Balch (FU MANCHU, SUN AND SAIL CLUB) guitars 

Gary Arce (YAWNING MAN, TEN EAST) guitars 

Tony Reed (MOS GENERATOR) vocals, synth 

Nick Oliveri (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, KYUSS, DWARVES) bass 

Mario Lalli (YAWNING MAN, FATSO JETSON) bass 

Bill Stinson (YAWNING MAN) drums 

Per Wiberg (SPIRITUAL BEGGERS, CANDLEMASS, OPETH) synth 

Thomas V. Jäger (MONOLORD) vocals 

Ian Graham (THE WELL) vocals 

Lisa Alley (THE WELL) vocals 

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Monolord “No Comfort”

The doom sludge trio from Sweden dropped a new album on us titled “No Comfort” and it’s a heavy chugging ass kicker. The 6 song release is the fourth from Monolord and the must anticipated follow up to 2017’s album “Rust.”  Longtime fans of the band will not be disappointed. The band does what they do so well on “No Comfort”by just pounding you into submission with heavy thick grooves. I always dig the guitar Tones that Thomas V Jäger creates. The crunch is ugly, dirty and in your face. Speaking of Jäger, he shines on this album. He managed to stay heavy while playing some beautiful  melodies. The track “Larvae” is a prime example of this. The break down of the song lets Jäger paint over the top of a hot bucket of sludge.  Bass player Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems hold it down while keeping that special feel that makes the song so special.

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The track “Skywards” lets Häkki get loose on bass and the grooves he delivers is killer. I really dig the pulse of the song and how the band uses dynamics to build tension. The title track “No Comfort” again lets Jäger show is skills. I love the raunchy tones on this one and the way the band builds it up. It’s a very strong way to finish the album.

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Overall “No Comfort” is a another good album from Monolord. You will specially loves this album if you dig doom and sludge stuff. I would say that even if you are not a doom or sludge fan you will apreciate Monolord. They have skill and come up with some really rad riffs.  I hope to see them live someday soon!

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John Garcia & The Band Of Gold

John Garcia long ago cemented his legacy as one of the most recognizable and powerful voices  in the rock music. If his career only consisted of his work with Kyuss he would still be a legend. But when thinking of John Garcia’s career you have to mention his vocal performances with his other bands, Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano and Vista Chino as well. The dudes voice is literally a stoner rock soundtrack and is all over some great songs. His unique style and grit are a stoner rock signature that over the years many have tried but can never duplicate.

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In recent years Garcia has embarked on a solo career and in 2014 dropped a very nice debut self titled record.  The album featured a ton of guest appearances by high caliber musicians including former band members like Nick Oliveri (Kyuss)  and Robby Krieger from the Doors just to name a few. Next Garcia  took an acoustic trip with versions of songs from his  solo stuff  along with some fresh arrangements of Kyuss classics on the Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues. This album also features Ehren Groban (Guitar), Mike Pygmie (bass) and Greg Saenz (percussion) who of course are now known as the band of gold. 

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So let us now look at the latest release from Mr. Garcia. Dropped on January 4th 2019 through Napalm Records the third installment of the Garcia solo run is an absolutely beautiful record. The album which is simply titled John Garcia and The Band Of Gold was produced by the one and only Chris Goss and features 11 tracks. First off, Garcia has put together an amazing band whos chemistry and style gel perfectly. Look no further than the albums opening track Space Vato for direct evidence of this. The 2:45 instrumental track sets the tone with a slow swelling intro before it kicks into overdrive with Mike Pygme killing it on some tasty and ripping bass runs. Greg Saenz drumming style pushes the song forward dropping snare hits like shotgun blasts. Riff master Ehren Groban plays with a very fluid and smooth style. The three together make a heavy monster beautiful.

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The album then drops into a swanky little groove called Jim’s Whiskers that features some killer riffs and solo work by Ehren Groban on guitar. It doesn’t take long to hear those classic Garica vocal pipes and he sounds as strong as ever. He has such a great natural tone that was made for stoner rock rock grooves.  The next track Chicken Delight has such a great feel and groove to it. Vocally Garcia creates a really cool dynamic that creates some killer tension over the music.  He uses his voice like an instrument that helps shape the over all feel. I love how aggressive Saenz drumming attacks the groove on this track but still manages to stay laid back while punching the riffs home.

       

This album is full of killer riffs and plenty of heavy. My Everything is another strong track that has the band of gold laying out the perfect foundation for Garcia to paint over. The songs breakdown has some real nice guitar work by Groban. Don’t Even Think About it is another track that has The Band Of Gold laying fire while Garcia does his thing. The main riff has a serious hook to it while Pygme and Seanz hold down a heavy gut punching groove. The vocals have that classic Garcia tone but also sound fresh and energetic. Again, Garcia creates very interesting dynamics that had to the already strong melodies. What Garcia does vocally amazes me. The way he uses is range and natural tone add so much depth to the music. What he does is very subtle, but it takes true skill and craftsmanship.

By far my favorite track on the record is Apache Junction. This little chem is a chugging masterpiece. I love the feel of this tune. The Band Of Gold shine on this track while Garcia belts out over the top with grit and an amazing vocal tone. The guitar tone sounds tits and I love the really subtle and intricate parts of the riffs. Seanz holds it down while Pygme and Groban drive it home. Again, The Band Of Gold just have that special magic. They just capture a certain feel and attitude that sounds so natural. 

I’m a big fan of this record and can easily see it being on a lot of best of lists at the end of the year. I think Garcia sounds great and has put together an amazing band that is clicking on all cylinders.  I also have to say these are just great songs. I’m a huge fan of what I call the feel. It is hard to put in words but you know it when you hear it, or should I say feel it. This record has it. It sounds so natural and pure. Nothing is forced or fake.  There is something so magical when a band can have such strong chemistry and connection. In my opinion Garcia, Groban, Pygmie and Seanz together have that magic. My hope is that we will get more new music from Garcia and The Band Of Gold in the future.

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Top Albums Of 2018

So another year is in the books and once again I lagged on getting my top ten album list out. Maybe next year I will be on time but I  doubt it! 2018 brought some goods to us in rock music loving world and the return of some of my all time favorite bands. This year I also struggled with the order of which I put my top ten. My top four were locks for me and could easily each be number 1 on my list. Five through 10  really gave me fits and I finally after debating came up with my list. Anyways, enough with my rant. Lets get this started.

  1. Monster Magnet – Mindfucker

This was one of the releases I was most excited for in 2018. In my opinion Monster Magnet is one of the most underrated bands in rock and never really gets the credit they deserve. Mindfucker didn’t fully jive with me at first but after a couple spins I woke the fuck up. The album is full of classic Monster Magnet riffs and melodies that front man Dave Wyndorf  is a master of. Speaking of Wyndorf, he still sounds great. 

  1. Black Rainbows – Pandaemonium

The trio from Rome Italy killed it on this psychedelic stoner doom trip. I love the tones and dark edge to this album. And let us not forget how badass the album art was! Since seeing Black Rainbows in Santa Cruz California they have become one of my favorite active bands. Front man Gabriele Fiori is a ripping guitar player. Pandaemonium is one of many great albums of Black Rainbows. 

   8. Corrosion Of Conformity – No cross No Crown

This was another album I couldn’t wait for. I love the COC line up that features Pepper Keenan on vocals and I was pumped he was back in the fold for this album. The album features that heavy pan fried southern rock that COC do better then anyone. It sure felt good to hear how Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan work together on guitar. That twin solo thing they do is always fire! 

7. Greenleaf – Hear The Rivers

The Swedish rockers crushed it on this one. Founding guitarist Tommi Holappa is a factory for bad ass riffs. I love the tones and production on Hear The Rivers. vocalist Arvid Hällagård paints over Holappa’s riffs masterfully. I also got to say Greenleaf came out with a killer music video as well.

  1. Yawning Man – The Revolt Against Tired Noises

This album is absolutely beautiful and blew my mind. It truly is a musical journey that colors the soul. I listened to this record on a road trip this year and escaped the daily grinds of life and truly felt lifted into a state of bliss. Gary Arce guitar work on this thing is amazing. Mario Lalli the desert legend himself lays down serious grooves on bass. I really can not say enough about how beautiful this album is. 

  1. Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions

Clutch is so consistent it isn’t even funny. They got the formula down pat and just keep putting out insanely cool records. Book Of Bad Decisions is another great clutch album driven by great riffs and catchy and unique vocal melodies. The production is once again great and its exactly what you expect a Clutch album to sound like. If it aint broke, don’t fix it. 

  1. Sleep – The Sciences

This is a heavy ass masterpiece that hits hard!  This riff driven sonic ass whooping  is so ugly it’s beautiful. The boys in Sleep live up to their legend on The Sciences and once again show why they are in a class of their own. The doom pioneers are so good at creating tension and pounding you over and over into submission while slowly building up to a cosmic ass whooping.   

  1. All Souls – Self Titled

This debut record hit all the feels and blew my mind from the get! Top to bottom this record rips and is a must have! It’s got a haunting familiarity while being very unique. The overall production on this album is next level and the guitar tones are perfect. All Souls put them selves on the map with this record and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. 

  1. Brant Bjork – Mankind Woman

The king Of cool Brant Bjork gave us another groovy little masterpiece in 2018 . Mankind Women is a hot groove booty shaking machine. Bjork really hit his stride on this record vocally and sounds great. Brant has always put out solid records but Mankind Woman captures the essence of what Bjork and his band do live. I love the feels on this record. It literary sounds like they are playing in your living room. 

  1. Fu Manchu – Clone Of The Universe

Another great album from the mighty Fu Manchu! So many great riffs and hooks. The band is truly on fire and bringing the gold. Clone Of The Universe sounds huge and explosive. So many classic FU style riffs postmarked by the trademark vocal style of Scott Hill. These dudes are the kings of tones and making it sound so smooth and simple. 

So…. Thats my list! I would also like to give honorable mentions to Alice In Chains, Orange Goblin and the Chris Cornell record. The Alice In Chains album was sneaky good and is still growing on me. The Cornell record had a lot of cool older live stuff on it. Anyways… Happy New Years!!

 

  1. Fu Manchu – Clone Of The Universe
  2. Brant Bjork – Mankind Women
  3. All Souls – Self Titled
  4. Sleep – The Sciences
  5. Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions
  6. Yawning man – The Revolt Against Tired Noises
  7. Greenleaf – Hear The Rivers
  8. Corrosion Of Conformity – No Cross No Crown
  9. Black Rainbows – Pandaemonium
  10. Monster Magnet – Mindfucker