New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

Tag: stoner music

Bongzilla Put Smoke in the Water in Greenpoint

The good news for NYC heavy rock fans is that St. Vitus is open again. The bad news is that there’s been a big bump in the cover charge, as you would expect from any club that passes the fees from online ticket middlemen on to their customers like the pizza places that use Uber Eats. So the twinbill with the thrash/spacerock/postrock hybrid Wizard Rifle and stoner riffmeisters Bongzilla will set you back $27. There are other acts on the bill, but these are the ones really worth coming out for, and the quality justifies the price.

The album at the top of Bongzilla’s Bandcamp page is an old one that goes back to 2008. It’s the band’s tantalizingly short, complete set from one of the Relapse Contamination Festivals: a lot of bands made live albums there and this is one of the best. Bongzilla are a riff band and don’t do much in the way of solos: the band name fits their immersive intensity.

Mike Henry’s drums punch up and then puncture Jeff Schultz’s wall of guitar fuzz until just a hint of an evil doom riff appears in the first song of the set, Gateway. Then the band hit a slo-mo gallop and run that simple heavy blues hook over and over.

Their second song, Stone a Pig isn’t as sludgy as you would expect from a 3rd gen Sabbath tune, thanks to Henry’s nimble drumming and the grit on the bass – if memory serves right, Cooter Brown held down that spot in the band at the time. His woozy where-did-that-come-from bass breakdown is there to fake you out and set you up for the roar that follows, through some unexpectedly tricky changes.

Methodical heavy blues riffs and an unpredictable series of tempo changes also feature heavily in their third song, Hashdealer and the closing cut, Keefmaster. This slow-burning blast from the past is another reminder that more bands should make live records.

And for a similarly riff-loaded, tuneful idea of what’s in store for the show, check out Wizard Rifle’s more texturally diverse, rhythmically tricky, thrashy most recent album from 2019.


A Rare Loud Rock Show Coming Up at the Lincoln Center Atrium

Has a heavy psychedelic rock band ever played Lincoln Center? Believe it or not, a few punk acts have played there over the years. There was a rare concert by a reconfigured version of legendary 70s Detroit band Death there in 2010, Six years later, Hoba Hoba Spirit – the Moroccan Clash – raised the roof at the atrium space on Broadway south of 63rd St. That’s where heavy spacerock trio King Buffalo are playing on March 30 at 7:30 PM. It’s a free show; you might want to get there early.

Their new album Regenerator is streaming at Bandcamp. Whether motoring along at a fast autobahn clip or with a slow, heavier sway, they like hanging on a single chord to build hypnotic ambience that can go on for minutes on end. They open the record with the title epic, a galloping mashup of shiny 80s chorus-box spacerock, krautrock and maybe Budos Band. You don’t realize it’s a one-chord jam until frontman/guitarist Sean McVay kicks off his wah pedal and brings in the fuzz.

Bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson fuel a hypnotic, circling forward drive in the second track, Mercury, a heavier take on mid-80s Talking Heads until McVay blasts in with the distortion. The trio go back to stomping spacerock with track three, Hours, a throwback to 90s Brian Jonestown Massacre until a wry portamento synth-and-bass interlude midway through.

They nick a famous Beatles theme for the drony, raga-like intro to Mammoth, a slow, swaying, echoey ba-bump groove that they suddenly take halfspeed to a gritty roar and a big majestic outro. They follow a slow, bouncy, Muse-ish sway for Avalon – a starry, drifting, unexpectedly crescendoing original, not the Roxy Music classic.

They wind up the record with Firmament, slowly rising from a circling, chiming loop to layers of distortion, wah and Donaldson’s oscillating, insectile synth.

Howling Giant Headline a Killer Heavy Psych Triplebill in Queens Next Week

One of the best metal and heavy psychedelic triplebills of the year is happening this March 15 starting sometime after 7 at TV Eye in Ridgewood, where Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager open the night, followed by the more eclectically noisy and considerably heavier Restless Spirit, and then shapeshifting heavy psych band Howling Giant. Cover is $15

Sun Voyager are natives and used to play around here a fair amount, at least before the lockdown, but the other two bands have been conspicuously absent until recently. One good record to spin for the show is Howling Giant’s 2019 vinyl release The Space Between Worlds, streaming at Bandcamp. Why this album and not their most recent ep? Because the central narrative is about a huntress who has to fight off a mythical dream eater. As Tessa Lena has chronicled, what better metaphor for the last three years of hell?

It’s also a good capsule of what the band bring, live: stoner sludge with frequently tricky post-Mars Volta rhythmic shifts and terse guitar solos. Drummer Zach Wheeler hits a couple of martial flurries, then launches into an impressive lithe forward drive for such heavy music as guitarist/frontman Tom Polzine builds a dense wall of chords and bassist Sebastian Baltes holds down the gritty lows in the album’s first track, Comet Rider. Organist Drew Harakal adds swirl; Polzine hits his pedalboard and fires off a couple of tantalizingly brief solos.

The band slow down for Nomad, Polzine’s chiming loops over a murky drift through deep space. Again, he could have taken ten times as long with that first wah-wah solo and nobody would be complaining.

Ghosts in the Well is a surprising and rewarding detour into slow, mythical acoustic folk, followed by The River Guide, a mini-epic as Sleep might have done it thirty years ago, with an unexpected dream-nebula interlude.

Ice Castle begins with fuzz, tasty doublebass drum volleys and then the band pick up steam with more of a doomy, vengeful atmosphere and smoky organ. “They’re building a machine hiding in the wasteland,” Polzine announces, “The lab is overrun,” as he and the band launch into Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express, a thrashier, more 60s flavored dash through the gloom.

Harakal adds glimmering electric piano textures to the album’s most hypnotically swaying, drifting track, Everlight. The band pick it up, then descend to a lull with Wheeler’s shamanic beats before rising to a hammering attack where the bass finally cuts loose.

They slowly sway their way to a pummeling battle scene and then some venomous tremolo-picking from Polzine in The Orb. Does this space odyssey end well? It would seem so from the final cut, Stone Giant, but at the twin solos hover over the torrents of organ and the relentless, ornate drums, the message is “watch your back.”

Ace Bandage Jam Like Nobody Else in Town

Ace Bandage are the best new jamband in New York. When they weren’t playing shows last year, they were improvising in their rehearsal room and putting that stuff up at Bandcamp. They recorded their latest short album, Ace Bandage’s Almost Halloween live at Hart Bar in Bushwick last October. You can hear the originals at the Bandcamp page; the whole concert, including Bowie and Pink Floyd covers, is available at

They make their way up from a minor-key reggae groove to a brisk mid-80s Talking Heads pulse in the first of their tunes, Weirding. Guitarist Jake Pepper plays purposeful, bluesy lines over his sparring partner Kent Dunne’s incisive chords,. then they eventually take the song down into the vortex as bassist Zach Koeber and drummer Taylor Harvey back away, then pull everybody back on the rails in a split second.

They segue into Snuff the Torch, Dunne’s chicken-scratch wah-wah in contrast to Pepper’s unhinged slashes, slow-bake-in-the-sun leads and occasional pickslides. It’s like more focused mid-70s Can.

The last song is Burn. In almost seventeen minutes, the band slinking along on a darkly psychedelic funk pulse. Dunne takes the first couple of solos with a hammering, reverbtoned dark garage attack. When he goes flying over the edge and hands it over to Pepper to go further off the handle, it’s a clinic in spontaneous combustion. And yet, when Koeber goes bubbling up into the high frets, the two guitarists work their way down into a resonant simmer and a little robots-adrift-in-space interlude. The misterioso bass-led jam at the end is the best part, quiet as it is. It’s rare that you find a new band with this kind of chops or telepathy.

Ace Bandage are at Bar Freda on March 9 at 9 PM; cover is $10

Reverend Mother Open a Killer Heavy Psychedelic Triplebill in Greenpoint

For one reason or another, heavy rock was one of the last styles of music to reemerge in the wake of the 2020 lockdowns. Maybe because so much metal and heavy psych deals with dark themes, and those artists saw a scam and said the hell with getting on a real highway to hell? Whatever the case, Lucky 13 Saloon and St. Vitus are open again with some lineups to help us forget about the horrorshow of the last three years. One of the best triplebills of the year is happening in a couple of days on Feb 21 at St. Vitus. And as good as the later acts on the bill are – thorny heavy psych road warriors Bone Church and the more diverse, stoner boogie-oriented El Perro – the openers might be the best act on the bill. Cover is $16,

Reverend Mother, who hit sometime after 7, are a heavy psychedelic power trio with an excellent new vinyl record, Damned Blessing streaming at Bandcamp. Frontwoman/guitarist Jackie Green writes wickedly catchy, purposeful riffs, mixes up her textures from sludgy to sunbaked and sings through a lot of reverb. Bassist Matt Cincotta and drummer Gabe Katz have a nimble attack with a snap and crackle that looks back to the 70s

The opening track, How to Serve Man begins with a slow, lusciously spare chromatic hook then picks it up with more of a classic punk drive. Green winds it out with evil phased leads as the rhythm section rises toward a stampede.

The group introduce the second song with a bit of a radio broadcast, hinting at a Elon Musk satellite attack or the equivalent. Then, in Locomotive, the band rise from enigmatic, sparse intensity to a ba-bump stoner boogie with reverb-heavy vocals: a more raw, stripped-down Ruby the Hatchet, maybe

Track four, the band’s signature song. opens with a snarl but also a maze of polyrhythms before Green straightens it out: if Thalia Zedek had gone into metal, she might have sounded something like this. After that, Road to Lose has honking blues harp from Patton Magee but also some serious crush from Green’s guitar on the chorus.

Green adds violin alongside High Priestess Nighthawk’s cello on L.V.B, a slow, sludgy heavy blues instrumental. It makes a good segue with the next track, Shame, the band picking up doublespeed into a tantalizingly brief, gritty bass break.

Green gets both channels burning with distortion and jagged hooks over the chugging forward drive in the album’s big epic. The Masochist Tie. “Break me,” Green taunts, “Will you catch up with me in the end?” And then launches into a slithery guitar interlude that’s over too soon.

The album’s final cut is Toxic, Green multitracking her vocals for an accusatory one-woman chorus over a hypnotic two-chord attack peppered with sniper riffs bursting from every corner of the sonic picture. Let’s hope we get more from this band.

Slow, Slinky Psychedelic Cumbia Grooves From Locobeach in Queens

By ten in the evening, the back room at the Brooklyn bar had filled up with undulating bodies. The swaying groove from the drums and the sinister, spare reverb guitar mingled with the torrential textures, and swoosh and warp and wah-wah from the two little keyboards that Locobeach bandleader Josh Camp bent over patiently, like an alchemist trying to find a sonic secret that had disappeared in Peru around 1983.

Silhouetted in red neon, twisting little knobs to get the optimum psychedelic glimmer or wash, he played as if he had a whole pipe organ at his disposal instead of maybe a couple dozen notes on the mini-synths with the maze of pedals and effects underneath. Meanwhile, everybody kept dancing.

Slowly and suspensefully, the group behind him worked their way up into the familiar minor-key broken chord, and the song that everybody had come out for: Sonico Amazonico, the national anthem of cumbia. As usual, the band took their time with it, mutating from that basic bassline to more enigmatically floating textures that Camp took deeper and deeper into dub territory.

This could have been a Locobeach show in 2017, or for that matter a moment from either of the two years of their semi-regular monthly residency. This blog was in the house for a half dozen of them: after a few years, memories start to blend into each other. One of the group’s more experimental moments was a Monday night in November of 2018 when one or more members were AWOL. One of the guys who pulled a pickup band together asked out loud what they ought to call themselves. “Loco Bitch?”‘

The good news that is that they survived the lockdown and have a gig at 9ish on Feb 24 at at Bar Freda in Ridgewood; cover is $10. They released their more psychedelic and dubwise debut album in 2019, which has some straight-up oldschool disco as well as the kind of cinematic groove-scapes that guitarist José Luis Pardo plays in his other band Los Crema Paraiso.

Locobeach’s latest single is Isabella, a brisk, bouncy tune where singer Cheo Pardo relates a tongue-in-cheek post-gig encounter with a girl who is, um, not what she seems. Camp’s horror-movie intro basically gives it away, but it’s still a good story.

Roots Reggae Original Mykal Rose Brings Oldschool Jamaican Flavor to a Swanky SoHo Joint

Back in the late 90s, there was a popular series of roots reggae concert albums recorded at Maritime Hall in San Francisco. Many of them were quite good. The Congos, Lee “Scratch” Perry and one of the post-Marley incarnations of the Wailers all made live albums there. That’s one reason why, in mid-August, 2001, a future daily New York music blog proprietor showed up at the club box office at the stroke of 8 PM, hoping to see a show by former Black Uhuru frontman Mykal Rose.

The other reason is that by the turn of the century, there weren’t many of the original stars left from the golden age of reggae in the 70s.

Now, if you’ve gone to a few reggae shows, you know how late everything runs. The box office wasn’t open: big surprise. Maybe the show was sold out. Looking to kill time, future music blog owner went up the hill toward the highway, found a taco stand that served liquor and had a whiskey. Maybe not the optimal choice after being up since seven in the morning, but it was a way to kill time.

An hour later, the box office was open, and the show wasn’t sold out. Great! There was an Irish pub a few blocks away to hang out at before the show started, presumably at ten.

Returning to the venue, it was obvious that this was going to be a late one. Tired after a couple of drinks, future blog owner found a place on the floor to sit, back to the wall. A rasta made his way through the crowd, selling joints and bags of weed. He eventually reached future blog owner. “Twenty-seven bucks for a ticket, I’m broke,” he laughed. Then leaned back against the wall, and passed out.

He woke with a start about an hour later to find that the Itals, who had an excellent organist that night, were already onstage. The archival notes about this concert don’t mention anything else about their set: for a better idea of what they might have sounded like, consult this piece from six years later. After they’d left the stage, future blog owner went back to his original spot and passed out again.

Mykal Rose turned out to be a wakeup call worth waiting for when he went on sometime after midnight. His backing band, with keyboards, two guitarists and rhythm section, was solid and steady as they ran through many of Black Uhuru’s biggest hits. They opened with a punchy version of Short Temper, then later did the wistful expatriate anthem Gone a New York. Rose was in high spirits, sang strongly and exhorted everyone within earshot to legalize the herb, through an extended, fervent version of Sinsemlla and a more compact take of Reggae in Session.

Nine years later, this blog’s proprietor took the opportunity to see Rose play again, this time at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn – and did not fall asleep either before or during the show. You can read about it here: Rose’s voice was a little more weathered, and his more 21st century-oriented dancehall stuff wasn’t as powerful as those Black Uhuru classics from the 80s, but it was still a good show. If you want to see how much Rose has left in the tank, he’s playing SOB’s on Feb 22 for $30. Showtime is supposedly at 8 PM: considering the current state of live performance in New York, he’s much more likely to hit the stage earlier than he did that night in San Francisco. Be aware that standing room at SOB’s is tight: forget about sleeping on the floor.

Trippy, Texturally Luscious Oldschool Soul Jams From the Ghost Funk Orchestra

When the World Economic Forum and the Gates Foundation engineered the fascist takeover of New York in March of 2020, Ghost Funk Orchestra bandleader Seth Applebaum bunkered down, wrote and got a new album out of it. He began the project as a one-man band, more or less, but by the summer of 2019, when the group got a rave review here for a midtown Manhattan show, they’d grown into a beast of an oldschool instrumental soul band.

Their latest album A New Kind Of Love – streaming at Bandcamp – is their most psychedelic and eclectic yet. The instrumentation and production is totally classic 60s: reverb on the guitar and drums, snappy trebly bass, plus layers of organ or vintage electric piano and horns in places.

The first cut, Your Man’s No Good is an artful mashup of Isaac Hayes vintage soul sprawl, Menahan Street Band crime-soul and a little Hugh Masekela. Track two, Scatter comes across as dub Isaac Hayes: hypnotic, spare bass riffage, chicken-scratch guitar beneath lingering chords, a tantalizingly snarling Applebaum guitar solo and a trick ending.

The loopy, dubwise vibe continues in Prism, a twinkling Hollywood Hills boudoir soul jam. Quiet Places is actually anything but quiet, a swaying, brassy study in lo/hi contrasts, grim fuzztone versus starry gleam.

The album’s title track is a two-parter: Applebaum shifts between slow, slinky Quincy Jones soundtrack noir and dub-infused funk in the first, then closes the album with the second, a hazy early 60s summer-house theme with a gritty psych-soul coda.

Megan Mancini sings Why?, a hypnotically catchy slow jam, then sticks around for Blockhead, a steady, vampy groove where Applebaum flexes some judicious jazz chops in tandem with flutist Brian Plautz.

Baritone saxophonist Stephen Chen floats and bobs over the latin soul shuffle of bassist Jeremy Stoddard Carroll and drummer Mario Gutierrez in A Song For Pearl. Then the band go back to a drifting milieu with Bluebell, a pensively swaying love ballad with Mancini on mic again. The closest thing to straight-up psychedelic rock here is the Doorsy next-to-last track, Rooted. So far 2022 has been a relatively slow year for psychedelia in general, but this is one of the most enjoyably immersive records of the year.

Early Moods Deliver a Macabre Heavy Psychedelic Masterpiece

Early Moods play high-voltage, dynamically unpredictable heavy psychedelia and doom metal. Early Sabbath is the obvious and pervasive influence, but frontman/keyboardist Alberto Alcaraz has his own sound and isn’t trying to ape Ozzy. Their debut full-length “mystery color” vinyl album, one of the best of 2022, is streaming at Bandcamp.

One thing that elevates this album above so many other groups gathered around the glyph in the shadow of Sabbath is the nimbleness of the rhythm section. Another is the relentlessly ominous riffs and big anthems that come thisclose to careening over the edge, but somehow the band hold the songs to the rails.

On the album’s opening track, Return to Salem’s Gate, they shift back and forth from edgy fuzztone chromatics to a smoldering Fender Twin burn, drummer Chris Flores’ machinegunning salvos capping off the big peaks, with an edge-of-the-abyss wah-wah solo from lead guitarist Oscar Hernandez.

The Sabbath influence bubbles to the murky surface in the second cut, Live to Suffer, from the menacing first verse, to the doublespeed interlude with Hernandez’s tantalizingly shivery lead lines.

Alcaraz opens the band’s signature song with distantly drifting unease from his synth, Hernandez levitating from funereal belltones through a series of increasingly agitated variations  to a full-bore stomp in tandem with bassist Elix Felciano.

Defy Thy Name starts out gritty and briskly hypnotic: a tensely pounding halfspeed interlude leads to a bone-chilling, acid-flamenco dance of death, the high point of the record. From there they segue up into Memento Mori, a mini-dirge straight out of the first minute of Sabbaths’ first album and then work the gloomy implied melody in Last Rites for all it’s worth. Hernandez could go on at the end for ten times as long as he does and it wouldn’t be boring.

They hit a gallop in Curse the Light, but it’s a restrained one, Hernandez letting his grim, fuzzy notes linger in the toxic air. The band slow down a bit with a skewed take on a classic Arabic mode in Damnation, with a wry reference to an iconic busker tune and a famous Geezer Butler riff.

They close the record with Funeral Macabre, the most phantasmagorical and 60s-inspired track here, from a leering, carnivalesque theme through a long, gonzo, woozy Hernandez solo out. Doom metal purists who appreciate the classics, from Sabbath through Candlemass, St. Vitus and Radio Moscow, will love this record.

Creepy Coincidences and a Mysterious Band From Kiev

In his indispensable News From Underground feed, Mark Crispin Miller recently shared a shocking video by Hugo from Hugo Talks (scroll down toward the bottom of the page), addressing what the blunt, plainspoken podcaster calls Mass Formation Colour Programming. The barrage of blue-and-yellow color schemes is a dead giveaway, particularly since it was rolled out during the earliest days of the plandemic, more than two years before the war in Ukraine.

Remember how propaganda graphics, both physical and online, were all rolled out in sync around the world in March 2020? Hugo focuses mostly on the British and European side, but the suspicious juxtaposition of blue and yellow also existed here in the US, as you can see on the NYC mobile lethal injection bus pictured toward the end of the 12-minute clip.

As we remember from George Orwell’s 1984, Oceania was always at war with Eurasia. The war in Ukraine, and how the lockdowners foreshadowed it with these psy-op visuals, is further evidence of how the plandemic was only part of a vastly more ambitious scheme to transform the world into a computer-surveilled feudal slave state.

What appears to be happening in Ukraine is an orchestrated conflict where NATO deliberately “provoked” the corrupt and murderous Putin regime, who responded in perfectly choreographed fashion. Remember, years before the color revolution in Ukraine, Putin was badgering for NATO membership for Russia.

Unfortunately, as has so often been the case throughout history, the people of Ukraine are being murdered and imperiled simply for the misfortune of having been born on fertile and strategically valuable terrain. Just as unfortunately, because the psy-op planners have largely pivoted, from the now-flatlined Covid injection scheme, to Ukraine, there’s been an anti-Ukraine backlash in certain circles in the freedom movement. And that’s something we have to resist.

New York Music Daily was launched in August of 2011. The first album ever reviewed on this page was a hauntingly beautiful Ukrainian choral suite dedicated to the victims of Chernobyl. Which makes sense, when you consider that this blog’s owner has Ukrainian heritage.

That same year, three years before civil war broke out there, Kiev band Night Surf released what appears to be their only album, a six-track collection of instrumentals titled Light. In an even creepier coincidence, the band share a name with a 1969 Stephen King short story about the aftermath of a virus that wipes out much of the world’s population.

Other than a Bandcamp page, where the album is still available as a free download, there’s nothing about the group online in English, and there doesn’t seem to be anything in Ukrainian either. The Bandcamp page doesn’t list the names of the three women, a guitarist, bassist and drummer. So far there’s been no reply to this blog’s attempt to contact them through Bandcamp.

It’s a fascinating record, a mini-suite of sorts. The first track, Bitter, is a swaying stoner boogie number with sunbaked wah-wah raga riffage over a bubbling bassline. The second song, Suffer could be the Cure playing a Savage Republic theme circa 1984, imbued with equal parts Joy Division resignation and trebly Messer Chups surf jangle.

The band pick up the pace with an icy bass/guitar intertwine in Keep Breathin’ – a prophetic song title if there ever was one. From there they take a brief detour into a southwestern gothic theme and then Used, a striding, artfully assembled web of multitracks. The final cut is a “reverse version” of Keep Breathin’ which offers further evidence of a Savage Republic influence (remember Exodus and Sudoxe?). Let’s hope this so-far nameless trio are still with us somewhere on the globe and still making music as intriguing as this.