Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Album: The Soda Shop Comp. Volume 1

A couple of months ago our friends over at The Soda Shop released a compilation of some up-and-coming acts (some more up currently then others). After debating about it for a while, I decided to give The Soda Shop Comp. Volume 1 a spin, to try and find some new artists, figuring with these guys at the helm I can't go wrong. Did I mention it was free?

Stone Axe "Old Soul (Beat Club Version)" - "Old Soul" (the original version) was not my favorite release from the band, and this remix of sorts does not add much to the ending product. I really like the band but I think they could have chosen a better song for this mix, but it is Stone Axe, so you know it'll be enjoyable on some level.

Strange Haze "Strange Dope" - My first taste of Strange Haze, and although I wasn't wowed with this song, it does want me to check out the album I have of theirs. Their musical style is most definitely blues stoner (complete with harmonica), but the lyrics and their influence of the music reminds me a lot of Warren Zevon. I'm not sure if it's just this song or their style as a whole, more research is needed to make an accurate description.

Forged In Flame "Miss Mothership" - Of a much harder edge then Strange Haze, the intro guitar/drum piece with the screamed vocals punches you in the eardrum and doesn't let up for the entirety of "Miss Mothership." I've actually heard of Forged In Flame before; I have their debut self-titled EP, of which this track comes off of, and I'm definitely going to feature it within an upcoming 'EP Shakedown.' This is my style of stoner: hard rock, rough (but understandable) vocals, jamming guitar and a moving drum section - everything I want in a song. This compilation is starting off strong.

Gozu "Meat Charger" - Gozu is another band I've heard of, of which I haven't listened to really, and one that I really need to hear more of. Their debut album, Locust Season, was pushed as one of the best of the year by Reg at Heavy Planet and so it's been on my list for some time. After hearing "Meat Charger," the album has moved up a few notches. Stoner metal all the way, but not as gritty as Forged In Flame, instead having a much more groove-oriented sound.

Lo-Pan "Dragline" - Taken from Lo-Pan's second LP, Sasquanaut, and so I've heard this song a few times before. I don't have to dive too deep into this one. If you like bass-heavy stoner, with a DIY recording sound then you'll love Lo-Pan.

Shellfin "In The Head" - Shellfin is kind of an odd band; I've listened to their first EP, Stay For Tea, before and was a little put-off by it all. They put out a spacy, psychedelic sound, with vocals often fading into the background of the song, drowned out by the huge sound of the guitars. It's all kind of odd, and so I can't claim to either like or dislike the band, some songs are catchy, some aren't. "In The Head" has it's moments, but it just seems oversaturated with the guitars always roaring on.

Low of The Low "Bled" - Back to the bluesy side of things for "Bled." We're also back to a band I've never heard of, and I like that. The song begins very much in the blues but ends with some gritty sounding guitar, putting a new spin on stoner. The song was only so-so and one of the weakest so far; the Low of The Low sound interesting but not enough so on this track.

Venomin James "Cosmonaut" - I believe someone exclaimed "Bring back the metal," because that is what Venomin James did. In a sort of 90s-alternative way, "Cosmonaut" jams out some serious sounds. The songs changes tempos and styles a few times throughout, moving from groove-oriented to almost an thrash rhythm before returning to the slower form. Another 100% new band for me, and another one that I'm going to have to check out fully.

Luder "Sing To Me" - After the power of the previous song, "Sing To Me" is a little bit lacking. Luder is female-fronted (not that there isn't anything wrong with that) with an aloof singing style, like she is constantly just about to walk out of the room and is calling over her shoulder. The music is decent, but rather docile and used more in a background sense. Unique, has be intrigued, but not really interested in a follow-up.

Whores of Tijuana "Toecut" - I like Whores of Tijuana, their two albums are really an enjoyable listen. That being said, there are lots of better songs then "Toecut" to include on this compilation. I can't list them off now, as I said with my new computer I have lost all of my notes on songs, but I know they are out there.

Blaxeed "Whiskey Warrior" - I'm going to have some serious homework ahead of me after listening to this compilation; there are so many great bands to hear! "Whiskey Warrior" is a southern stoner song, with a 80s hard rock feel to it. Blaxeed's music isn't very complex and the vocals are pretty simple, but it all works out great. Chugging guitars, rough lyrics, a sweet guitar solo - what more do you need?

Death Valley Dragline "Lies" - Following the 80s throwback, we have "Lies" sounding like it has come straight from the 2000s. It had that chill style of music, with nothing but a simple guitar and drum combo with semi-monotone lyrics over it. This is the main style of the song, but then there is the 'emotive' part, where the instruments crank up in sound and complexity and the vocalist shouts over it all. It's not a bad song by any means, but seems a little dated; Death Valley Dragline isn't pulling off the style well enough for it to truly have the retro sound (however much something can be called retro when it's less then ten years old).

Devil To Pay "High Horse" - "High Horse" has a really interesting vocal style; it begins with just one rough voice, but when it gets to the chorus one or two more voices join in to battle for the supremacy of the song. It's not like a layered sound or anything, it's like three people belting out the lyrics and the loudest/most unique is the one that gets heard - kind of a neat idea. The song itself is very stripped-down, with simple guitars and drums for the majority of it, there is a breakdown but other then that the vocals have the show. I don't know if this is how the majority of Devil To Pay's music is, but I am interested enough to find out.

Chapstik "Fire! Die In It" - Wow... um, ok. I really want to see what else Chapstik has put out after this little number. "Fire! Die In It" is a really fast song, in both style and length (only a minute and a half), that really is a shocker. The song is punk/thrash (I guess thrash crossover but I always have a problem deciphering that one) and mostly instrumental, with only one quick verse and some random screams. I actually really enjoyed it for some reason, something primal about being pointlessly screamed at I guess... the song is mystifying to say the least.

Mos Generator "Step Up (7" Version)" - This is Mos Generator doing what Mos Generator does best: fucking jam. I don't know how this single version of "Step Up" differs from the original, when I went to look for it in my collection I came to the startling revelation that I don't have any Mos Generator - it must have gotten lost in one of my file transfers - something I'll have to rectify immediately. The song reminds me of some of the later-era Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath stuff, with an emphasis on the vocals and guitar. It isn't as heavy as Sabbath is/was but there is that definite thought as the song progresses.

Mother of God "Four Wanderers" - Kind of doomy, kind of alternative, kind of stoner, "Four Wanderers" is kind of good. Another band whose album I have but I haven't heard yet, but for Mother of God's case it may be a while. Their music was decent, but it didn't make me jump up in excitement to hear more from them.

The Soda Shop Comp. Volume 1 is a decent compilation, showing a full range of stoner acts all in different stages of their career. While these is no obvious winner or loser on the disc, my main complaint is that besides showing off some band one might not normally know, this release doesn't offer much in the was of something special. All of the songs on this album have been released (well the ones that I've taken the time to look up) in some form by the bands in question. I know that the purpose of these things is to try and expose fans of one band to other acts, but I prefer to have something special included, some unreleased track or a cover or something. With the Heavy Ripples, Vol. 1 EP I reviewed recently, pretty much every song of the release can't easily be found on those acts usual LPs (at least I couldn't find them). It gives the compilation that little extra to make owning it that much better. I know it's a small and perhaps dumb gripe, but it's the truth. Other then that, this compilation is pretty damn good and well worth the listen. Try it out and discover some new bands you probably have never heard of.

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