Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bandcamp Picks: Small Stone Records

With over a hundred recordings on their Bandcamp page, and cult faves like the Men of Porn and Red Giant, Small Stone Records ("True, honest music, made by real, honest people.") is a must visit for any fan of heavy rock bent doom, stoner, or retro. Most of their discography is up on their Bandcamp page as $10 digital downloads.

Deville's heavy grooves and stoner vibe probably aren't what first comes to mind in terms of Swedish doom (though I'm sure members of Candlemass and Katatonia spark one from time to time). Their third album Hydra ups the tempo on their previous (and very good) album Hail the Black Sky. Stuffed with singalong choruses and memorable hooks, I wouldn't be surprised if these guys become the next Queens of the Stone Age.

With a theme inspired by their Swedish environment, Mother of God are proof that not all forest walks lead to black metal and the best stoner rock doesn't have to come from the desert. Kyuss casts a pretty large shadow over their debut, Anthropos; MoG's singer sounds like a deadringer for John Garcia, and the guitar tone is identical to Sky Valley. [To be fair, the entire stoner rock genre largely exists in Kyuss' shadow.] Shameless hero worship aside, this is commendable stuff. And since there's probably never going to be a follow-up to ...And the Circus Leaves Town, Kyuss fans should probably jump all over this.

Boston's Gozu sure know how to bridge the stoner rock/metal divide; when they rock out, they rock out like the Queens of the Stone Age; and when they rage, they rage like High on Fire. Add to that a singer who sounds like Wino's kid brother, and Fury of a Patient Man is going to make a lot of stoner doom fans happy. The album closes with the 20 minute psychadelic jam "The Fury of a Patient Man," in case you need another reason to fire up your vaporizer.

I was lucky enough to see Scissorfight in 1998, and I remember them being a fairly terrifying proposition, all whiskey breath and dangerous grooves. So it's a little surprising that Supermachine, a band formed by ex-Scissorfight members, have smoothed over all those rough edges to come up with something that could have come out of Seattle in the 90's. Flannel rock flashbacks aside, their self-titled debut is still some great, swinging heavy rock. But Scissorfight fans will definitely be left wondering where the old sense of danger disappeared to.

It's more than a decade old, but Small Stone's Tribute to Aerosmith is still a fun listen. The likes of Raging Slab, Alabama Thunderpussy, and Electric Frankenstein do a good job of reminding us all that there was a time when Joe Perry and Steven Tyler weren't just cashing in on reality TV and Michael Bay movies. The album is available as a $15 digital download; kind of hefty for a covers album, which are for the most part inconsequential. But it's still worth a listen.

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