When Gramma Vendetta released their ‘Proof of Concept’ EP in 2018, the world was a very different place. Their punchy blues/garage/stoner metal hybrid sound was squarely about entertainment. After recording began on a follow up, a global pandemic forced everything into shutdown and – like everyone else – the band found themselves with a different set of priorities. The planned album became a stop-gap EP and the lockdown situation also gave them lyric inspiration, so, in many ways, their 2020 release ended up being a very different beast.
Following two enjoyable studio releases, San Francisco stoner rock band The Watchers give fans a genuine treat with their third release. ‘High And Alive’ shows the band in their natural environment, in front of an enthusiastic crowd. With four tracks recorded at The House of Rock, the EP shows how much better this band sounds without the constraints of a studio and with some extra volume applied.
With five tracks of riff-heavy and fairly trashy hard rock, The Hÿss sound particularly assured on their 2020 release ‘Extraterrestrial’. Although claiming stoner rock roots, this recording shows off much less of the genre’s typically fuzzy sound, preferring instead to latch onto several crushing, concrete infused riffs. Any stoner intents are more likely to come from the disc’s lyrical content; one that drops the listener straight into a self-made world of spaceships, alien creatures and disco monsters. Although not necessarily coming from the same musical roots, in terms of concept, this is an EP that would make the Misfits and The Groovie Ghoulies proud.
Brass Owl unleashed their self-titled debut album in the summer of 2018. While that record was loaded with great riffs and showed promise, it was also fatally flawed. More than great riffs are needed to create great songs and their song writing wasn’t always the most memorable. Also, in frontman Brian Tarter, the band seemed to be hampered by a vocalist who often…overstretched himself.
Unfortunately, since Tarter also supplies those great guitar riffs and actually represents fifty percent of the band on 2020’s ‘State of Mind’, Brass Owl are sort of stuck with him. As a result, it is another album where a massive amount of promise is evident, but the genuine quality doesn’t always come through.
To move forward, sometimes it’s important to take stock of the current situation and go back to the past. On this two track 7”, Texan doom duo Stone Machine Electric revisit the first songs they ever wrote together and in doing so go back as far as possible. Both tracks have been previously available, but this release marks their vinyl debut.