Formed in 2015 by one-time Gotohells man Edo McGrady and guitarist/performance artist Melissa DuCasse, Cheap Gunslingers set about creating a sound that blended garage rock riffs with a few power pop hooks and plenty of fuzz. By the time of recording their debut LP four years later, Melissa wasn’t such a big player within the band, appearing only on three tracks (and two of those are for backing vocals), but between McGrady’s sheer sense of drive and a pleasingly dirty sound, the Cheap Gunslingers were far from depleted.
At the very beginning of 2016, a doom-blues/stoner trio crawled from the wilds of Cheshire and into the ears of an unsuspecting audience. Amping the blues much further than most had dared, their debut EP presented a cornucopia of heavy riffs; their music a fuzzy love letter to metal’s founding fathers. Almost twelve months later, that EP remained almost unsurpassed, marking a place among the year’s finest metal achievements. A year on, the band signed with Black Bow Records – home to Bast and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – for a well received follow up.
2018’s ‘Ballads of The Godless’ – released through HeviSike Records is, well, heavy. Sometimes drainingly so. However, if you’ve already been acquainted with the 1968 sound, the album brings forth plenty of superb riffs; riffs which, when dressed in the band’s signature sludgy sound, have a timeless appeal. Timeless, of course, if you like Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Sloburn and Slomatics. As before, if you’re able to see through the heaviness, it also includes some fine, blues tinged sounds that – thanks to a very old-fashioned production style – are a welcome nod to a world of fuzzy analogue grooves in an all too digital age.
With the bleep of old style tone test, Sunshine & The Rain open their 2017 long player in a most unexpected manner. Kicking square into ‘Let’s Go’, their music, too, has a very old soul…and it’s all the better for that. It might seem at once that this duo’s main musical stock comes from tried and tested garage rock noise, but just as quickly as the distorted guitars assert themselves, the harsh melodies are topped off with plinking glockenspiels in a contest for the ultimate contrast. The vocals come with almost a sweet naivety, as Ashley Morey (previously of New Jersey’s The Black Hollies), approaches her performance with a clarity and an almost bubblegum inspired sound. With the push and pull between the noise and the pop, you’ll either love or hate this band immediately. If you hate them, your opinion is the wrong one. Within a couple of minutes, Sunshine & The Rain assert themselves as the most exciting thing to happen on the garage rock scene since Coach ‘n’ Commando released ‘FBP!K!K!‘ the previous summer…or maybe even since Brockley Forest dropped their third EP way back in 2015.
Some things aren’t created in the spur of the moment. Some things take a long time to find their place in the world. Such is the case with the debut release by singer-songwriter Max Shrager. Although by the time of ‘Thoughts of You’ was released July 2016 he had formed The Shacks and appeared to have settled, the six tracks on his solo EP were not part of the more immediate lead up to that, having been written and recorded over an eight year period.
Queen Chief are an alt-rock band led by Justin Lien, a young musician with Native American and Germanic/Nordic roots. Their debut EP throws the listener in at the deep end with a particularly grand approach. It’s a concept release bringing (in the band’s own words) “a brutally honest, heavy rocking representation of life in the Northwestern United States’ low income suburbs and Native American reservations”. No messing there. Just as direct as the attitude driving the band, the tunes themselves pack a huge punch throughout – most carrying a weighty riff; each riff then given a huge send off courtesy of King Black Acid member and producer Daniel Riddle. The resultant sounds, resting somewhere between post-grunge and a hybrid of psychedelic blues, all come with plenty of volume – even if played quietly – and just as much attitude.