Thursday 11 January 2018

2017 ALBUMS IN BRIEF: Sun Blood Stories, Hey, Colossus, GNOD, Feral Ohms, The Mad Doctors & Moths & Locusts

By: Victor Van Ommen

As is the case in this day and age, there’s so much music out there that’s just waiting to be listened to. Sometimes you get to it, other times you don’t. And sometimes, as in my case, you get around to listening to the tunes but not to reviewing them. The six albums below fall into this last category. These are albums that have been playing on my stereo all year long during 2017 but I just haven’t found the time to review them. Well, here’s to ticking a few things off of my to-do list!

Let’s get to it!

Sun Blood Stories – “It Runs Around the Room With Us”

As the title suggests, Sun Blood Stories conjures music that brings a physical presence with it. The melodies are commanding and follow you wherever you go. Saying that this album bodes well for a headphone listen is redundant. This Boise, Idaho four-piece are here to play what the music wants. They themselves are but a vehicle to perform it. At times chaotic, sometimes sweet, and always heady, “It Runs Around the Room With Us” is one of the most remarkable psych albums of the year.

Hey, Colossus – “The Guillotine”

This was my first encounter with Hey, Colossus, a band that’s apparently been around for quite some time. A touch of prog in that the time signatures keep you guessing, but no less rock n’roll. So, even though some of their passages are elusive, this British sextet never completely alienates the listener. Melodies and rhythms that twist around each other while holding true to the core purpose of songwriting is exactly what makes Hey, Colossus a treat to listen to . “Englishman” was the album’s single, and it’s pretty accessible, but it’s moments like the front-to-back freak out of “Back in the Room” (those horns!)  that shows a band firing on all cylinders.

GNOD – “Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine”

Sorry to have to put it like this, but GNOD makes some ugly music. There’s no other way to describe it. A steady onslaught of repetitive riffs and hard percussion; it’s all up in your face, all the time. The tunes are sludgy and hypnotic from front to back, and everything about this sounds so very intense. Politically charged, and very angry, GNOD have made an album that’s ripe for a live setting and perfect for the dingiest dive bars and squats across Europe.

Feral Ohms – “Feral Ohms”

If you’ve been playing in bands like Comets on Fire and Howlin’ Rain your whole career, it’s only a matter of time before you stray from the psych world and make an in-the-red stoner-punk album that screams, bleeds and sweats from beginning to end. Led by the bearded and – well – feral Ethan Miller, this self-titled debut is nine songs long and clocks in at under a half hour. So if it’s short, fast, energetic bursts of heavy riffing that you’re looking for to accompany your beer guzzling, jump on board with Feral Ohms. You won’t regret it!

The Mad Doctors – “No Waves, Just Sharks”

First in line for Best Album TitleThe Mad Doctors came out swinging in 2017 with a doozy of an album. Ten songs that are as much Dick Dale as they are CBGB’s, these boys from New York know how to have a good time and put this good time to tape. Fuzzy riffs, surfin’ rhythms and blown out vocals, that’s the name of the game for The Mad Doctors. Be it the catchy blast of “Justin’s a Cop” or the stoner, “Space Grass” vibing of “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach”, “No Waves, Just Sharks” makes for a surprisingly varied listen that’s as much fuzz and fun as the album’s title would suggest.  

Moths & Locusts – “Intro/Outro”

Canada’s Moths & Locusts are kind of all over the place on “Intro/Outro.” From the head-down nod of the shoegazy riffs to the sprawling genius of “Acid Cloud (Part 1 and 2),” Moths & Locusts show what happens when you just let the tunes make themselves. Sometimes it works, other times not, but the band manages to keep the listener’s attention at all times. I generally find flutes in rock music annoying, but the band makes it work in “Sea Hell.” “Strange Space” reminds a bit of The Heads, and that’s good. All in all, Moths & Locusts travel the psychedelic spectrum freely, and if you have the time and patience, “Intro/Outro” is a gift that keeps on giving.