Formerly known as Porshyne, Brighton’s Polar Son know their way around a riff. On Porshyne’s 2017 EP ‘Environmental Music’, those riffs took an arty, sometimes heavy path, taking in elements of Oceansize, Tool and bits of Godsticks, beneath a vocal that sometimes shared a love of Thom Yorke’s grander moments. It was the kind of release that deserved to place the band among up and coming prog/prog metal acts. Unfortunately, despite champions in a few high places, any massive traction the band deserved was cut short by a global pandemic.
When it comes to riffs, power trio Aawks really don’t mess about. A cut above your average stoner rock band, their debut album ‘(Heavy On The Cosmic)’ did exactly what it said on the tin. Its eight tracks fused Sabbath, Kyuss and classic Monster Magnet riffs with a whole world of phased effects – applied to both the guitars and vocals – to leave the listener with the ultimate in fuzzy, buzzy, mind-bending wonderment. On tunes like ‘The Woods’ which combined driving stoner riffs with slower breakdowns and heavily treated lead guitars, and ‘All Is Fine’ which latched onto a rhythm that sounded like a distant cousin of ‘Silver Machine’, it was even possible to hear a huge influence from early Hawkwind bleeding through the slightly echoey vocals and head nodding riffs. With a touch of doom fleshing out ‘Peeling Away’, it was clear that these guys could do incredible heaviness too. Since almost every moment brought something exciting to Aawks’ chosen style, ‘(Heavy On The Cosmic)’ was potentially one of the finest heavy psych discs since Monster Magnet foisted ‘Dopes To Infinity’ upon an unsuspecting world in the mid 90s.
Marc Valentine’s ‘Futura Obscura’ album, released during the death throes of 2022, tapped into a whole world of old fashioned power pop sounds. Its wall of guitars drew heavily from a world of early 80s heroes, but also from early Weezer, and Valentine’s hooky approach to songwriting ensured that a selection of huge choruses sounded great, whatever the era and however much his core sound relied on a throwback quality. His 2023 single ‘Jinx of Finchley Road’ went a step further in the infectious stakes by adding a world of tinkly keys to a marching beat, instantly shifting his retro pop from Weezer-world into a place where the ghosts of Jellyfish loomed with a largeness that was impossible to ignore. If Valentine hadn’t previously been on the list of power pop performers to look out for, this was a single that would certainly get him more of the attention he deserved.
Keen power pop fans and garage rock aficionados who’ve been following the Rum Bar label since their early days will know how seriously they take their music. For head honcho Malibu Lou, the label has been an ongoing labour of love, and his bands are his family. Those bands, in turn, appear to look out for each other, and their social media often shows musicians hanging out at each others’ shows. The Rum Bar ethos values heart over perfection, and often feels as if its giving something back to the Boston music scene. The aspect of “giving back” is also why the label has never been shy of issuing free downloads: their album length samplers aren’t just a way of attracting new listeners to great, DIY music they might not have otherwise found, they’re also a celebration of the scene as a larger construct. The label’s Summer ’21 download – ‘XOXOXO Volume One’ – was one of the best free downloads ever. By rounding up a lot of the label’s better known bands and previewing things to come, it felt like a complete experience, enjoyable for committed followers and the curious alike, but this even bigger selection of Rum Bar wares – orchestrated by the guys at Knyvet PR – is pretty much its equal.
2023 seems to have flown by. We’ve already made it to December, and that can mean only one thing. It’s time for The Real Gone Advent Calendar!
As is traditional, over the next twenty four days, we’ll be posting a new link. It might be a video. It might be audio only. It might be an old favourite. It might be something brand new and unfamiliar. The only way to find out is by coming back each day and opening a new window!