Undersmile - A Sea of Dead Snakes EP (2010)

Without any hesitation one of the best things released in the doom domain last year. An improbable mix between Babes in Toyland/Hole and Black Sabbath/Electric Wizard. Heavy as repression in tyranny but enlightened by the 2 female voices, it's an incredible mixture. And a half-female band who names one track instrumenstrual inspires our deepest respect. I'm quite sure they'll become widely successful but i'm often wrong so don't take it too seriously. Not one weak track on this collection, and the last on, "Spore" is a total killer (it was on my bloody hell faves of the year but you're quite few to have dl it actually). Enjoy it here but buy quick the solid CD version on their bandcamp.


Alkahest - s/t EP (2010)

Sorry, you might say that I find gems everywhere and that with age my sense of discrimination is weakening but I really think this US band did here a great EP (not released on a solid support but that can be freely dl on their bandcamp, see below). It's post-rock doom at its best, with a splendid flavor of the ancient doom of the Paradise Lost era (on "Labrador"). Most of the usual traps are avoided with a persisting intensity throughout the long tracks. And the screaming voice brings an added intensity that often bands of this movement lacks. Moreover, the guitar takes very celestian solo à-la Bill Nelson (Be-Bop DeLuxe). And the drumming is impeccable (with very strange slowering pace on "Milk & Morphine"). Hope to have more from them soon. Meanwhile, enjoy your sadness with Alkahest here.


Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby - Live at the Exmouth Summer Festival (1978)

After the split of Str... (actually, Dave Cousins quitted to take a job in a sort of radio management so that Heartbreak Hill was not released), Dave Cousins went back to his roots playing lo-fi acoustic folk sets with Brian Willoughby. Much more folk in fact that in his debuts since his friend had a very folk way to play his guitar and to my opinion, not the best sideman he had (Dave Lambert is much more appropriate). This live recording (unfortunately only a part of what was played during their appearance at this festival) was released on a very marginal LP called Old School Songs, associated with 6 songs recorded in studio. A strange mix that was not satisfying, wrapped in an awful sleeve. So here, I extracted the live part and put a more appropriate enveloppe. The set is worth for a rare "Beside the Rio Grande" live version (I put it in streaming and encourage you to read the lyrics, very strong indeed, and the favorites of Dave Cousins himself). And all in all, this selection is quite homogenous. Enjoy it here.

It happened rather suddenly that the Preacher came to town With stories from the Testaments of men of great reknown With his box of patent medicines he swore to cure all ills From the lameness in the horses, to the children's colds and chills And he had along his Indian wife and a country music band Who sang of peace and brotherhood beside the Rio Grande. Now the Preacher quickly gathered sick and poor from miles around Who came to him for comfort and to hear his country sound But the mayor thought he was trouble when he spoke against the law And he saw the growing power of the crowds that he could draw And he worried when the Preacher bought himself a plot of land To settle with his family beside the Rio Grande. The saloon was pretty crowded and the stakes was a-running high And the girls sang sentimental songs that made us cowboys cry We began to criticise the Preacher marrying a squaw And how could he associate with cripples, drunks and whores And in a crazy fit the Preacher scattered chips and winning hands And condemned it as a den of vice beside the Rio Grande. Now the boys were drunk and rowdy, and mostly pretty mean And we dragged him to the sidewalk and whipped his shoulders clean We said he was responsible for bringing on the drought That had burned off all the spring grass and had wiped the young herd out The sheriff would not get involved, the law could take no hand The Preacher had not harmed a soul. We pegged him on the hillside alongside two Apache braves Who'd been given picks and shovels and been made to dig their graves And when he asked for water stood and pissed around his feet While his tongue swelled up and blackened in the burning desert heat And someone said we ought to mark the Preacher with a brand To show that he did not belong beside the Rio Grande. Then the sky began to darken and a breeze whipped up the dust And some of us were frightened while others swore and cursed And the Preacher said a few words with his final dying breath About forgiving us for what we had done to bring about his death And as the night began to fall we covered him with sand And left his weary bones to bleach

Dave Cousins in 1979 after a show, pictured by a fan.


Fister - Bronsonic (2011)

Back with a hellish album for sure and one of the first great of the year. With a sound that reminds me the best Fudgetunnel with an Amphetamine Reptile label fragrance (notably the fantastic Bastards), this is pure sludge noise, thick and muddy as we all like it (not sure those who come here for Barry Ryan or Melanie like it but who knows). Seminal as few are when you need something to hear that ease your desire for killing everyone around around you (and they often deserve it I must admit). Instead of Charles Manson, they chose the Charles Bronson devil imagery. Nice shot. But the music is what's great in this US band. If you want a version with 11 tracks (bonus & demos) you can buy it on their bandcamp (see below or here). I strongly encourage you to do it cos' of course it's a political act, if you can afford it (and not everybody can, contrary to what the usual anti-blogs say). Enjoy this gem here. I must recognize I took this LP from Nola 504 (there, where you have more details about the band and the LP).


Str.... - Live at the Calderone (1975)

We find here the band at the turn of its career, leaving his progressive folk-doom for a more mainstream rock style, having just released an LP called No Madness (the back of the self-made cover sleeve), the first without keyboards (John Hawken had leaved before the studio sessions of the LP) and a rather weak one. Surprisingly, this live set seems totally under the Ghosts LP influence and not so much of their last one (only 3 songs from it). And it's really stunning to hear live "The Life Auction". Maybe the fact that Ghosts was quite a success in the USA led the band to play a large part of the setlist with it on his US tour. The sound is quite good but not enough to justify the release of this concert as an official LP sent full price (with a different cover sleeve so out of subject that I decided to do another one with once again an Alison Scarpulla picture). Enjoy here this new testimony of the band's genius on stage.

Life Auction.
Row upon row Of drab colourless houses Bowing low Before high rise blocks Varicosed housewives With sweaty armpits Scrimping and scrubbing Their husbands' socks A limp polluted flag Flutters sadly in its death throes While crippled trees in leg irons Wearily haul themselves Through another diluted acid day. The Auction (Cousins/Lambert) The vultures stood outside the gate Quite unaware that fate Is unaware to those who wait In vain. Their pride Betrays the means of their destruction. Take my rings and trinkets bright But leave my eyes which give me light My tongue which gives me leave to speak The rest is yours and welcome. The wolves will suck the bones they bought Those over which they fought Their elders always having taught Them envy. Their greed Explains their total lack of conscience. The auctioneer is seldom lost Our paths have sometimes crossed But he has never failed to count the cost Of passion. Desire Is the whole point of his existence. Now you have given cause to bleed You join the wolf pack as you feed But now you find yourself in need Of comfort. But peace of mind Has no home for the loveless.


Konzaross - The Depression Of The Untitled Part LP (2007)

Here also a post to celebrate the success of the Egyptian revolution with Konzaross, a one-man band from Egypt led by a bass-man called Khaled Sallam in activity since 1999. Quite minimalist actually, only his bass, some environmental nature sounds (wind, sea) and sometimes his voice speaking in English. Not quite relevant in atmosphere with the current joy in his country but it's good to put the bloglight on an artist from this country tonight. Hoping that the derelicted atmosphere of this LP is not a sign of the destiny for this newly free land. Site about him here. Enjoy this intimacy here.


DePrator - s/t (2010)

Shit, I am still able to like this kind of US-folk/rock Neil Young-influenced Little Feat-tainted Dinosaur Jr-derived music !!! What a surprise. I would have bet that my ears would be totally musicproof for such a load of rubbish but no. DePrator has something that caught me at the instant moment I listened to the 1st song of this 5 track EP (Every god for himself). But it's true last year (actually in 2009) I was fond of Boat and of the last Jay Reatard LPs. Not the same kind of stuff here but as sapid. More artisanal maybe and americana-flavored but really this is a refreshing sign that this music has still something to bring to our times. I forgot to say they're from Ohio and that their myspace's here. Enjoy it here. Trust me it's very good.


Str.... - Live at the Ultra Sonic Studio (1974)

I should have posted this one before the Golder's Green Hippodrome concert since it was played 2 months before. I must say this is one the best live sets I've ever heard from the band. This was played in a radio studio in New York, and it can be considered as a public presentation of their new album, Hero & Heroine (yes dear Str... lovers, once it was a new album presented by the band when now it's an eternal classic). And honestly, it's much better than the versions they gave at the GGH in April. The band is tighter and the keyboards are more subtile and like they were played on the album. Even the Bursting at the Seams songs are better than at the GGH. Never the band will be better than on this show, and the sound of the recording is superb. Not to be missed. And more to come if I'm not stopped in my Str.... hommage on this blog. Enjoy it here.


Great American Desert - Land Of Tears (2003)

Here a totally unusual album, with a story quite similar to the one of the one-man band Rameses in the seventies. The leader and one-man band of this entity was Jeremy Christner, and is a luciferian who seems to be more interested in this philosophy for the last 7 years than in music. You can read all about that here. However, this album is a fascinating piece of music without much to be compared to. More Eno meets Kim Fowley meets Simon Finn meets Joy Division meets Gothic meets Dark metal than anything else. All songs differ completely of one another and most are seminal. The voice can be totally soft and impersonal and became gutturally demoniac in a second. Most of the music is accoustic but distorted guitars occur here or there. It has been recently re-issued and it's a good thing since it's one of these albums that we shouldn't forget. Enjoy it here. You can read the lyrics there. Honestly, they're not my cuppa blood. Below, an image from David Magitis (not Lucifer but Baphomet but who care)

A Crevice of the Holy
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A Crevice of the Holy. Look into my eyes, I swear you will not find a spark of soul. Hidden In a crevice of the holy But not beyond my sight. Hide well, Young one. Or soon you will be Unholy like me.


Str.... - Heartbreak Hill (1978)

I'm in a Str... period you can bet with my last posts. And if I'm not stopped by any coercitive removal, I'll follow on the times it will last. Here, not a live recording but an album that could have been the follow up to Deadlines in 1978 (a very weak album I must say except for the 2 last fantastic songs) but was finally not released. Not because the label refused it but because David Cousins left the music scene to provide his services as a strategy man for radios. Sad cos' it was, if not a great album, at least a good one. The main problems are due to the sound options of this period. In 1978 it was really hard to appreciate music given these synthetic sonor textures in particular of keyboards. But Dave Cousins was again inspired bu his best muses, and some songs in it were very good. You can feel new influences, such as the Beach Boys or Steve Harley, and the doom dimension is not so pregnant it was (but remember that in 1978 there was a total rejection of this atmosphere). Don't imagine the band is similar to the previous classic line-ups. Except for Chas Cronk, they were all newcomers. Not sure that they were the best to be the backing band of Dave Cousins songs. I changed the cover sleeve. Actually, the cover sleeve was never conceived I think and the later issues under various titles had rather ugly cover sleeves. It seems this version is the definitive one but I can't be sure. Enjoy this forgotten LP here.

Heartbreak Hill

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Str.... - Live at the Golder's Green Hippodrome (1974)

Let's have another try of a Str... album. After the Paris Theatre concert, a live set at the Golder's Green Hippodrome (same than Procol Harum) one year later but with a totally new line-up since from the previous band only Dave Cousins & Lambert are still in the band. After the split, they imagined to enrole the rhythmic section of Ten Years After (a strange choice) but finally recruited the keyboards of Renaissance, John Hawken with 2 other members (Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes, the latter from Stealer's Whell), forming maybe the line-up most popularily associated with the name of the band. When comparing the songs played with the 2 line-ups, it's clear that the band is very different, much more compact and progressive than the previous one. But finally, old songs are better with the previous line-up (in particular, the keyboards are sometimes too much synthetiser and progressives when they were still traditional and folk previously) and the band excels mainly on new songs. Enjoy this document here. I think to put other concerts of this great band soon. Hope not to have them withdrawed. Sorry for the mistake on the fake cover sleeve (from a picture taken by Alison Scarpulla). Too complicated to correct it.

Hero & Heroine

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Hero & Heroine. Hero's face was gaunt and tanned His sail was set in search of land His life-raft, solely by him manned Was guided by the tide Heroine wore fleecy white She beckoned like some saviour bright Shipwrecked sailors in the night Were bid welcome to her side. Where one man's search must surely cease The irresistible white fleece Led Hero in search of the peace That she alone could offer Thus he knelt before her feet Wary lest their eyes should meet He knew his life was incomplete For he had yet to suffer. Enticing Heroine, so calm Took Hero firmly by the arm Told him that she meant no harm That she alone could save him Hero could no longer speak While realising he was weak His life increasingly grew bleak For all the love she gave to him. While storm clouds gathered high above The heroine he grew to love Turned slowly to a snow white dove And spread her wings to fly Crushed and broken in the end Hero watched his soul ascend Knowing that he was condemned To sail all alone to die.


Khanate - No Joy EP (2003)

I just realised today that there's no Khanate stuff on this blog. Not a normal thing since this band is maybe the one I found the most fascinating during the 1st decade of this century. I got no rarities from them and the thing I can assimilate the more to something unusual is this EP released in 2003, a James Plotkin remix of "No Joy", a track from their first self-titled LP. The second track (B-side if you want), "Dead", is an unissued from the same LP sessions. It's totally genius and was the support of a video clip (a promo shot for a film I think was never done) that I put below and which is quite "interesting". Khanate have never been replaced and their influence is to be found in almost everything new and strong released these late years. Not to be forgotten, and maybe to be discovered if you didn't know them. Begin with Things Viral if you want to choose among their 4 LP. Enjoy here (taken from an Evil Wave post)