I spent my week tripping on nostalgia in the company of some ornery dudes - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #112


Lemme just appropriate the scene for y’all, in my flat, quite late on a Sunday night, when I came upon this new EP by the South courtesy of the Heavy Company’s Ian Gerber (thanks dude). I looked, and blinked, and looked again, then squealed, a Brain Worker cover! A cover of Brain Worker by Red Dirt, a stupidly underground artist beyond imagining has been righteously done in the mould of Paranoid-era Sabbath by a buncha Texans clearly in the grip of some twisted nostalgia trip and it’s so damn good. Well shit, a lil’ more digging and we turn up an Evil Ways cover, a Sunshine of Your Love cover (ohboy ohboy ohboy). Clearly these Texas boys have nailed the beauty. Rock and roll since 1976 has been a nostalgia trip in various stages of hiddenness, so why not drop the pretensions of originality and let everyone see what you’ve got swinging around down there? Why not just be a covers band, but a unique covers band putting their own bespoke seal on each song they bathe in their dusky desert groove? Word had it they were adding to their rusting Katyusha full of covers with a Forever My Queen love letter recorded this weekend but it didn’t happen, hopefully it’s on the backburner; but clearly the cheat-sheet these guys are working from is based on every Stonerrock.comers record shelves. And why not?


It’s an endless white noise flamethrower, operated enthusiastically by all-purpose rock gods who would agree with my assertion that the music died in 1976. I’m not sure if the soaring squealing over-the-top lead guitar is that way intentionally or just cuz it’s creaking under the sheer wattage. It’s all so right! 2012 has had its share of nostalgia trips, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell and last week’s Blue Cheer impersonators Von Thundersvolt have all had admirable and theologically necessary attempts at rebuilding the walls of Jericho, but while those very respectable heads were on a nostalgia trip, they weren’t, as the South aptly demonstrate with a 26 minute EP scrawled with six love letters to classic rock and roll and a smattering of other covers all across the internet, tripping on nostalgia. It’s quite a bug, and you’ll catch it too. Let’s start with the big ‘un, the one that had me pressed face-down into the mattress as the thousand springs of volume and riffs a trillion kilometres across like tsunamis washed over me, the cover of Red Dirt’s Brain Worker. I’ve gushed over Red Dirt and particularly Brain Worker and Death Letter far too much already (youtube that shit kiddies, watch, learn and emulate, just like the South) and it’s my view they’re well beyond the joyous energy of that post-Zeppalike Purpleisms from the seventies and shot right out into the wide open desert of super high quality bands of the time; Sir Lord Baltimore zipping insanely fast across the salt flats barely clutching the handlebars of a Vincent Black Shadow; over on the horizon Pentagram are striking camp; hey look, the Blue Cheer sonic sun burning with the white hot heat of all those burned up amps is just rising, let’s watch it together. ‘Course they’re now getting the full recognition they deserve because there comes a new version for us. It’s oiled up in smoothness and doped up to the eyes on Master of Realityism, ‘specially in the axe which just caterwauls across the desert for all of time. It’s a how-to for covers too, due deference to an unknown classic while very much leaving big clomping boot prints of yer own in the song’s history. Savour the cover kiddies, then go out and savour the original, spread Red Dirt because their genuinely classic rock and roll was something to behold, not just for now, but for all time.

 
The South crack some skulls live, they even look righteous!
But Brain Worker is in the middle, what of the rest of the record? There’s Sun Daze, a SanFran love letter to Vincebus Eruptum Blue Cheer, with amplifier-overwhelming levels of yawp and a howling yawling bawling vocal line that seals the deal. If the Brain Worker cover seals their classic rock aficionado cred then original Mrs. Absinthe cements their place in songwriting too. No less of a love letter than a cover, it screams of the same sodden blues rock purveyed by the Heavy Eyes, but if anything even better, certainly up there with that finest of cuts from the Heavy Eyes debut, Wax Apple. It’s up there with Witchcraft, them there Swedes who got together to record a Pentagram tribute and ended up with a career. It’s everything; it’s witty and sharp and rocks damn hard. The guitar tone is way more bluesy than the Iommiisms of Brain Worker (into which it perfectly segways) and echoes through the ages, it’s the seventies dude, early seventies, deal with it. Those are my selections, the first three tracks are really something to savour, as well as the select covers available via the magic of the webternet point to some seriously righteous dudes at the helm of something pretty special. The record is by no stretch all greats, two separate people have told me how much they love the final track (including Adam, of this parish), Ghost Train, a civil war narrative too schmaltzy to mention, and thrumming ploddingly dull too-slow barely-there wander around sub-Slintisms that mighta been passable if it was slotted into the middle somewhere, but as an ending it only serves to drag out what is otherwise a superbly staged early contribution to the sonic elite. It’s tragic that with all of the superb sonic motherfuckery clearly available to these guys on tap, they felt the need to include that. Now I respect (if not agree with) putting that in if you genuinely wanted it there, but it smells to me like chasing a dollar. Don’t do that boys, please. I’m not blind to how it is, you wanna pay the rent doing what you love, and if you’re gonna do that, you’re going to have to decide between the art and the money and you’re gonna have to pick the money if you want yer kids to eat, I get that, but money is finite, you can’t take it with you, but oodles of wah abuse earns you an amplifier throne with the Cheer, the Zep and the Purple at the right hand of the Great Magnet; don’t throw that away for a bit of paper. But with quality compelling songing of their own and due deference to the sadly-forgotten classics, five out of six isn’t bad, isn’t bad at all. If this is a start, keep rolling.

As usual, these righteous mo'fo's 'ave made the whole lot available on their Bandcamp totally free of charge. Get yourself down there, download, and make up yer own mind! Also grab a ton of their early stuff and covers including Evil Ways and Sunshine of Your Love on soundcloud.

Written under duress by Steven.

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