Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Masters of Reality 'Pine/Cross Dover' (2010)

Masters of Reality return with their latest mind altered offering to master their, well, reality.

Masters of Reality’s sixth and latest record Pine/Cross Dover is a welcome return of the classic American desert kings who have many rock and roll fingers in many Palm Desert pies. Although released in 2009, the record is making waves over in the UK now. Presented as two halves, the question is Pine/Cross Dover, their first record in five years, any good?

As a pretty big Queens of the Stone Age fan, I was keen to dip my toe into the pool of rock and branch away from my Tension Head (a track which has incidentally been on my top five records for the last decade), let my ears broaden their taste and listen to fellow desert rockers Masters of Reality, which although I was quite familiar with them I hadn’t fully appreciated. Main member and founder Chris Goss has produced many QOTSA records, and so it’s a clear lineage many make associating the two bands together. To my bountiful joy I was pleased with what I heard in the shape of Pine/Cross Dover, kicking off with King Richard TLH, epitomizing from the outset the classic chugga chugga desert rock sound in a nutshell. This song makes me want to get up to get down, swing my limbs around the room and air drum to the max. Which, after doing so left me injured, but on a futuristic trip through nostalgia at the cusp of the desert rocking it’s best.

Aside from the belting opener, stand out tracks include the blissful Always, pounding with its repetitive drum beats and guitar riffs commonly associated to bands in the Palm Desert scene. The instrumental Johnny’s Dream, broadens the sound and style of Masters of Reality to something more then what many have said to be within the realms of stoner rock. Johnny’s Dream is pure end credit music and an awakening to the bands’ previous explorations. Further tracks to download include Absinthe Jim and Me, and the juggernaut Up In It, with Dave Catching playing guest guitar on the former – a fellow member of the desert rock scene and collaborator to many Josh Homme projects, including touring with Eagles of Death Metal last year. Masters of Reality, who add a dash of dark riff house blues to complete their newest record, are for anyone who has overplayed their Queens of the Stone Age records (which does happen) and are after a darker and deeper foray into the light of desert rock at it’s best. Due to tour the UK supporting The Cult in early 2011, if you’re into psychedelic, desert rock and dirty riffs, this is a band you don’t want to miss.

Copyright Willemÿn Barker-Benfield

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hot Fiction, The King William IV, London, 02.10.10

The King William IV, located north of ‘where the hell am I?’, or the river Thames, is a relatively secluded venue that doubles as a hostel, which is where I find myself for tonight’s Hot Fiction gig, the blues and riff led garage band that have been unashamedly filling up my commute time for most of the past week since discovering their debut record Dark Room. Arriving at the venue, having been drenched by what appears to be the second flood, I was ready for a stiff drink and a warm welcome, and luckily I was greeted by both.

Once the band took to stage, which at first I incidentally thought they were staff; due to their laid back and approachable manner, enthusiastically introduced themselves and got to work at rocking the room. Easing any newcomers in with their blissful sound of soul filled vocals that can make the toughest man quiver at his knees; Andy Yeoh has a great set of pipes. Their sound has been described by many as the English Black Keys, with a hint of Eagles of Death Metal’s charm, but from the get go I think Hot Fiction have something different to offer. The tracks flowed with ease throughout the hour long set, with a couple of covers including Stevie Wonder’s Superstition thrown in for good measure. Highlights of the night were extended versions of Get out of My House, and Autumn Girl, with a momentary law breaking moment when a familiar volunteer (fellow gigger and buddy of mine) took to the stage to shake the hell out of a tambourine. (Only two people are allowed on stage at the King William IV, reducing the number of band nights considerably.)

Hot Fiction kept the room charged with their honest and heartfelt approach to live music, and even during technical difficulties the tunes rolled out and with such gusto that it would be hard not to like these guys. A thoroughly enjoyed night from a band that took their debut record and mixed it up to create fresher takes on their already contemporary approach to a classic sound, this band aren’t afraid to squeeze a crowd of their blues.

Copyright Willemÿn Barker-Benfield

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Hot Fiction, 'Dark Room' (2010)

Hot Fiction are a two piece garage band that bring dirty southern vocals and nostalgic blues back into rock and roll, whilst sounding fresh and current in today’s alternative scene. Drummer and vocalist Andy Yeoh and guitarist Simon Miller are a strong pairing, having met at school and formed an allegiance through their common musical interests, Hot Fiction’s sound is well oiled, well thought through and established, their sound comes through the speakers effortlessly. Oh and they’re from the UK, making them very fresh indeed, with very few UK based bands injecting this soulful sound into our airwaves without a US passport. Many have commented that Hot Fiction are similar to The Black Keys and The White Stripes, purely on the fact that all these bands are duos, and have a blues tinge to them, but this is where the similarities end.

Stand out tracks on their 2010 debut record Dark Room include the solid My Girl Dances, which has a light-hearted bluegrass twang to it, reminding me of the same fun loving and easy going attitude that early Eagles of Death Metal tracks epitomised. The heavily riff laden War of Attrition brings to the table the soul, and Yeoh’s vocals throughout the record embody the coursing blues that make Dark Room such a delight to hear. Yeoh and Miller explore many tones and aren’t afraid to check out some dark territory with Thump, the funky When Nothing Else Mattered, and the closing track Creepy Disco seals the deal that this record is something more than just a jam session for an after school special. Hot Fiction sits comfortably on the big red juicy button of rock, ready to push at any given moment to inject a sound of music from a time forgotten, for a generation after more music with a soul. Aces.

Copyright Willemÿn Barker-Benfield