Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Myrrors Interivew: Interview/Gear Review with Nik Rayne!

The Myrrors, hailing from Arizona, U.S.A, have been the muse of many a psychedelic and desert rock fanatic for the past five years now as the popularity of their first record, Burning Circles In The Sky, spirals forever upwards. Amongst other things, fans of the band, including myself, have always been fascinated with how the 'Circles' EP was recorded exactly, I caught up with the bands guitarist Nik Rayne to find out more...


Dan: What guitars were used (with addendum regarding other instruments) on Burning Circles in the Sky?

Nik: Since the band's earliest days my mainstay electric has always been a Gretsch Double Jet. It's got a strong, sharp attack and, perhaps most importantly, a Bigsby tremolo that I really abuse the hell out of. For a while I was messing around with a Fender Stratocaster, but it just never did it for me. Acoustic guitars are been more of a mixed bag. The title track on Burning Circles In the Sky was, to the best of my memory, recorded on a cheap Washburn steel string. Between the band we have a rather large and motley assortment of stringed instruments. In fact, a lot of our gear was either salvaged or entirely homemade. The dulcimer that leads "Nobody's Children" even has some scratchy handwriting inside reading "made on a rainy day November 9, 1979" if your out there, mister Robert Sitnek, thank you for the wonderful instrument! It's always a beautiful thing unearthing historical footnotes on old pieces of equipment like that. Grant [Beyschau, drummer] and I really have a passion for finding and learning unusual instruments, and we've recently started incorporating a lot of new textures into the music. He plays a righteous free jazz sax on our latest single "Ramona Parra," for example, and I've been working out the charango and quena, which I picked up back when I lived in Chile.

Dan: Additionally, What pedals and amps were used on the recordings of Circles, Solar Collector, and Ramona Parra?
Nik: I've actually gotten a lot of mileage out of a little Fender Eighty-Five that I picked up at a thrift store several years back, and it's that amp which is most likely featured on Burning Circles In the Sky (in any case it was most certainly the one used for the guitar parts on "Ramona Parra" and the Solar Collector tape). The rest of the band has been on me for a while now about getting a new amp, but I have to admit I've grown close to the little bastard. It doesn't look like much, but it packs a punch. As for guitar effects, I'm very fortunate in that most of the ones I use are handmade by a friend of the band's named Claira Safi, including the fuzztone that drives "Warpainting." I've got an echo box of hers that I use that has so many unmarked controls that no one really knows what it's capable of! Hell, even my power supply comes from her worktable. I'll confess that I do still use a stock Dunlop Cry Baby and an Electro Harmonix reverb on occasion, however. I know the former made it onto "Plateau Skull."

Some of Nik's Custom Pedals

Dan: Furthermore, what can you tell us about the Circles recording sessions?

Nik: The first record, Burning Circles In the Sky, was recorded at my home studio back in Phoenix, Arizona in rather piecemeal fashion over the course of a summer. That record was, more than anything, us attempting to find our way in the studio, and some of the material reflects the rather tentative, experimental nature of the proceedings. The rhythm tracks were usually laid down first, then the rest of the instruments would build up from that. A few of the tracks were already live staples, such as "Mind's Eye" and "Warpainting," but the rest was thrown together as we recorded it. Though the record turned out pretty firmly structured, we have always been much more about free the end we only ever included one or two tracks from the album on any given night's setlist, though I suppose we'll probably keep playing "Warpainting" for a while, as that one seems to be pretty popular.

Dan: Follow up and new material?
Nik: After reflecting back on the material after five years there is a lot about the recording process I would have changed, but in that way I suppose it is an honest reflection of the band at that early stage of development. We relied far too much on post-production and multi-tracking in those days, and not enough on capturing what we really sounded like as a band. Fortunately we have almost wrapped up cutting our long overdue second album down here in Tucson, where I've been living for the past four years, and in my opinion the music is not only sounding a lot more interesting than that on our first record but also much more organic. The three jams on our recent cassette release Solar Collector are kind of an unpolished kodachrome of that new stage in our evolution as a group, I think.


The Myrrors have currently released a new single, you can listen to it here:

The Myrrors released 'Burning Circles In The Sky' in 2008, you can listen to it here:

To here more about The Myrrors new album, make sure to like their Facebook page.

Posted by Dan Sharman, 13:27, 28/08/2013.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Drone Head - The Janitors (album review)

After Drone Head's release on Cardinal Fuzz Records on the 24th of June, D.Y.E.P catches up with the Swedish duo's latest sonic outing.

In the past, psychedelic music used to be a bit of an obscure obsession. I remember those driven pre-digital days, traipsing across town and dale in search of the latest EVA '60s garage comp, the hours spent lusting after the ridiculously expensive in-store used copy of Kaleidoscope's Beacon from Mars at the local hip record emporium, or the excitement I'd feel hearing "Tomorrow Never Knows" getting a rare spin on the radio. But with the dawning of the internet all that has changed, with today's generation becoming spoiled for choice; music of a psychedelic persuasion(in addition to just the original '60s stuff) is hard to miss any more and, as the sold out crowds at Tame Impala's US tour bear witness, it all suddenly threatens to become a bit too predictable. 

Music of a psychedelically inclined nature is what Sweden's, The Janitors, deliver in spadefuls. Their new double-LP Drone Head (Cardinal Fuzz, CFUL008), pairs the duo's two 2012 EP's Head Honcho and The Worker Drone Queen into one glorious gate-fold package on white vinyl. Hailing from Stockholm, this duo play what they claim is "Swedish evil shoegaze boogie woogie and stökpsych a go go!" Now my Swedish is a bit rusty these days, but last time I checked, stök roughly translates as "mess." Although I'm not entirely sure what mess-psych is, based on repeated listens to the menacing beauty that is Drone Head, I'm fairly certain these boys are fully cognizant of the messy and messed up legacies of their preferred musical genre. Indeed, they create a convincing and recognizably "psych" sound on this record, and one that fans of the likes of Spacemen 3 and Wooden Shjips will feel instantly familiar with.

Other reviewers have also taken note of the dark edge to this duo's distorted sound, their penchant for overdriven fuzz and reverb, the booming and sinuous throb of the low end that anchors the buzzing whip of the chainsaw whine throughout each of the record's songs. Take note: if you like your psych-rock heavy and dark, with a bit of demonic quarter-speed Bo Diddley pounding through the wash and wave of the froth and fuzz, then there's much to like here. Take the booming drum-driven intro of a song like "Strap Me Down" for example; its propulsive howl, perfectly timed pauses, and horror-echo vocals are so pitch-reminiscent of the epic psych melodrama of the Angels that you'll be sucked in from the outset. The song ends with a swirling, crashing tide of hypnotizing technicolored shimmer that puts me in mind of the sort of 'we-have-lift-off' opus that is the Austin Fab Four's luminous speciality. The last song on Drone Head is "Nevereverism," surely an homage--surely?--to the tune of nearly-the-same name on Directions To See A Ghost, and as it builds from a deliciously menacing stomp into a shredding, sparkling, guitar driven whirl we're snaking our way to the back of the blue bus and beyond. 

Listening to this, and tracks like the magisterial "A-Bow," all twelve-and-a-half elemental minutes of it, I'm dragged up that familiar kaleidoscopic psych-rock road right to the top of Holy Mountain, and it's clear that The Janitors ride their influences for all to hear. There are a few surprises on this record. The "Strssmmnt Remix" of "Coming Down" for instance, strays from the tried and tested formula of most of the rest of the songs for a slow hybrid burn that fuses electronica and shoegaze and puts me in mind of some of the more fanciful Tame Impala Innerspeaker remixes. And although I say "few surprises" like it's a bad thing, for a lot of psych-rock fans of course, 'few surprises' isn't a bad thing at all. We are after all fans of psychedelic rock. We enjoy its signature moves.

But isn't that surely a part of the problem of the aforementioned main-streaming of psych, it running the risk of becoming a set of musical cliches (reverberated vocals here, drone bliss-out there, backwards guitar bit over yonder, nirvanayada, yada), sonic transcendence rendered as corny cosmic shorthand? Holy Mountain as theme park. But also, wasn't it ever thus( . . . The Black Angels, Spacemen 3, and Wooden Shjips, after all . . .)? Or just maybe I'm one Binson Echorec shy of becoming a psych cynic? For all that, however, I'll always ever be the sucker for the epiphanic psychedelic catch phrase, and The Janitors do these up in style, and then some--and with heart too, it must be said. Simply put, if you love the flourishes of heavy psychedelic drone-esque spacerock and shoegaze then you'll absolutely love this record too.

Critics Rating: ★★★ - Good, no new suprises here, but ticks all the boxes for someone looking for straight up fuzz-heavy, drone rock to relax to at the end of a long day.

Written By Grow Fins (Phil Dickson) on 19:38, 13/08/2013.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Song Review: Warpainting By The Myrrors

The Myrrors - Warpainting 
Album - Burning Circle's In The Sky (2008)

A small background of the Song:
If there ever was a song that captured the feeling of strolling through dusty, sun-scorched alleys on a baking summer day it has to be this, Warpainting, one of the best depictions of 'Desert Rock' to date. The band, formed by two friends when they were still in high school, self-released a 5 track EP and posted songs to YouTube. Whilst the band was on a hiatus, this 7 minute stunner gathered over half a million hits. Now the band has reformed and currently sought a new bassist, apparently working on several new projects. If this single is anything to go by, the future is immensely bright for the Arizona four-piece.

Analysis of the song: 
This sand-sodden symphony really highlights what psychedelic rock can be at times, a force which can expand the consciousness without the need for mind-altering drugs. Everything about this track oozes dusty desert-psych, including the album's cover artwork. The light shaking of a maraca, the searing tone of lead guitar, the gritty, reverberated lead vocals, the primitive, metallic sound of a droning drumbeat, this song has a whole host of psychedelic rock's common calling cards, including an explosive breakdown at 6:09, starkly reminiscent of a dust storm one may gaze at from afar on a desert plane.

Where to buy and other trivia:
- Following Burning Circle's In The Sky's success, the band have decided to put up a high-quality downloadable version of the album on their BandCamp, for more information click here.
- If you head over to the Band's Facebook page, there has also been talk about reissuing the album on vinyl and CD in a limited pressing. 
- The Album originally was originally put out by the band on 50 hand-burned copies, here is the original artwork that appeared on the digipak:

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Song Review: Crystal Anis by The Limiñanas

The Limiñanas - Crystal Anis
Album - Crystal Anis

Analysis of song:
When I was first introduced to this fantastic French psych-pop duo in March this year by Mojo Music Magazine, they likened the band to a Velvet Underground which had in it's ranks the massively influential Serge Gainsborough and 60's sex-icon Brigitte Bardot. This is by far the best description of the aptly-named Limiñanas I've heard to date, taking their name from the brother and sister which the band is comprised of, Lionel Limiñanas and Marie Limiñanas. The powerful, spoken-word vocals(tying in with the Serge comparison) accompany the thumping, driving, bass-line brilliantly, while shimmering, Farsifa chords propel the song forward into unexplored areas. As far as the spoken-word vocals are concerned(an obvious hint to the aforementioned Serge.G), I feel their foreignness gives them an inherit psychedelic value, but if one is a stickler for such things, research further and you may find psychotomimetic depths to fish-related tales of the European outfit.

It is worth noting that the band have produced songs with English vocals, so the decision to keep to their native tongue was a deliberate choice, one which I feel gives this single a very unique, continental vibe.

Where to buy a copy:
Crystal Anis is the title track of the Limiñanas 2012 LP, Crystal Anis. The LP was pressed on a limited run of 'gold edition' vinyl, only 199 copies where pressed, they are now sold out. However, a second pressing of the LP on black vinyl and CD is available from Hozac Records(the first pressings are now sold out from the official store, but may still be found on sites such as Discogs). The album is also available for digital download here.

Various vinyl pressings are available of songs from the album, most of which were pressed in different colours and quantities, some of which are now sold out according to Hozac Record's. 

Note: Some of Hozac Record's site pages are slightly outdated in their information.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Flying Eyes Interview

The Flying Eyes are a psychedelic blues rock band from Baltimore, Maryland, USA, who brilliantly merge Jimi Hendrix style riffing, gravelly blues vocals and thumping drum beats with the atmospheric, acid-driven melodies of the sixties. After the recent release of their latest album, Lowlands, I caught up with Elias from the band to ask a little bit more about their thrilling sound...

The band's debut album.

D: What are some of your main influences, it is often cited that the band shares similar vocals with that of Jim Morrison?
E: Undoubtedly we are influenced by the psych-rock legends from the late 60s-early 70s such Pink Floyd, The Doors and especially Black Sabbath. This was the first music that inspired us to play rock n' roll. But throughout our career we've picked up plenty of modern influences like Sleep, The Black Angels, Spiritualized and The Black Keys which are now equally as important to our sound.
D: The new record, Lowlands showed more focus than the first two albums, was there a conscious effort to find that Flying Eyes sound?
E: Whenever we start recording a record we want to make it better than the last one and the process of making Lowlands was definitely more focused and disciplined than ever before. But we didn't consciously think about "finding a sound". We always try to let the song writing naturally evolve without trying to push it in a specific direction. That's why are albums have a diverse feel to them.

D: What genre would you say your current records fall under?
E: Again, we don't really consider our own genre when we write music. We don't really want to to be defined in terms that might limit us. We definitely draw influences from shoegaze, doom metal and stoner rock but I think the best way to describe us, although it's broad, is "psychedelic rock". We always use psychedelic effects combined with driving rock beats.
D: You get a good variety of tones on your recordings, what are some of the pieces of gear you use when in the studio?
E: We used a variety of interesting vintage and modern amps on Lowlands: Fender Bassman, Fender Twin Reverb, Fender Concert Amp, Fender Super Sonic…as you can we are big Fender fans. Producer Rob Girardi also turned us on to some awesome effects he had in the studio: an Echoplex tape delay pedal, an old Fender spring reverb box which was perfect for warm guitar reverb. I also was given an 80s analogue synthesizer, the Prophet 600, which I restored and used on the record for some textural sounds.
D: After Lowlands, what can we expect from the Flying Eyes?
E: Over the past 3 or so years we've been slowly working on a different sort of album that we plan to release next. It’s mostly an acoustic album driven by acoustic guitars, banjos, minimal percussion and vocal harmonies. I play a lot of harmonica. If you listen to “Leave It All Behind” on our album Done So Wrong you’ll get an idea of what it sounds like. Country, folk, blues with some subtle hints of psychedelia. It’s very different but we are proud of it. We also have about 5 new songs written for the next electric album, but no concrete plans yet to start recording that one.

D: If you weren't musicians, what jobs would you be doing?
E: Well, we all have other jobs. Me and Mac work in the same divey Mexican restaurant/bar, Adam works at the Wegman’s sub shop and Will is a professional plumber. If I wasn't doing music I would probably be involved in some other performing art, most likely theatre. I studied theatre from a very young age through college and I’m still involved whenever I can be. But with The Flying Eyes being so busy over the last few years I hardly have any extra time. But whatever happens I'm sure I’ll always be performing on-stage in come capacity.
The Band's latest album, Lowlands.
You can buy The Flying Eyes latest album, Lowlands, here.

Interview conducted by Dan Sharman on 20:45, 06/08/2013.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Song Review: 13 Cent Killer by Christian Bland and The Revelators

Christian Bland and The Revelators - 13 Cent Killer 
Album - Pig Boat Blues

Analysis of the song:
Released on the 2012 album, Pig Boat Blues, this haunting otherworldly track is one of the many underrated classics currently being produced by The Black Angel's guitarist's side project, The Revelators. This track really is a great example of the darker side to Bland's song-writing, and also his guitar playing, opting for a more sinister, attacking sound and style, one not often heard on his Black Angel's records, where the status quo is primarily airy surf licks and fuzzy blues rock grooves.On top of the way the track's guitar is played, it also gains an indistinct and ethereal quality due to the effects of tremolo, reverb and delay acting upon the guitar itself. This seductively venomous track is surely worthy of the title psychedelic.

Where to buy your own copy:
Pig Boat Blues was available on limited edition, 180g black vinyl, this version of the record included Black and blue screen printed packaging and an insert with artwork by Christian Bland and Rob Fitzpatrick. It was limited to 500 pressings and is now sold out, however a pressing may still be found around the Austin area or online at a site like Discogs or Ebay. In addition to this, the record is now also available again on 140g blue vinyl. Digital copies may also be purchased as well as a numbered cassette edition from the label Burger Records (limited to 300 pieces).