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This album review comes with bittersweet news: Cleõphüzz, the five piece desert rock band from Ville Marie, Quebec, unique for their addition of cello in the mix, have announced that they are parting ways, citing problems related to the pandemic. Lucky for us, they were able to rally their forces one last time to release Mystic Vulture, their epic final album.
Mystic Vulture is the group’s second full length, a followup to 2018’s Wizard of Phüzz. The album has everything you could wish for from a stoner rock album, from spacious sounding drums and gnarly riffs, to the huge, spaced-out sound, down to the psychedelic desert scape cover artwork by Tessa Najjar. Going back to that “huge, spaced-out sound,” it’s refreshing to note that this album really ‘breathes,’ with the band taking time to establish psychedelic auras, explore riffs, and really jam. The eight song album clocks in at 47 minutes. It was recorded and mixed by Francois Lachapelle during the pandemic and released in February.
1. THE END 2:32 2. DESERT RIDER 5:54 3. SORTILÈGE 4:15 4. DESPERADO 9:02 5. SARCOPHAGE 3:27 6. WHEN THE SIREN BLOWS 6:49 7. MYSTIC VULTURE 6:32 8. SUNDOWN IN THE AFTERLIFE 8:01
The album is mostly composed of instrumental tracks, which are given cinematic quality by the cello, notably on opener, The End, and closer Sundown in the Afterlife, which features a cool symphonic ending with some beautifully harmonic resolution. The grungy vocals come in to play on the swaggery riffer, Desert Rider. Listen for some Alice in Chains-esque harmonies on Desperado, which also features some heavy guitar progressions and a cool grindy organ.
A great album from psychedelic start to finish, Mystic Vulture can be found on Bandcamp. Digital download is available for $5. There’s no word of a physical release given the band’s current status. The band still maintains an active social media presence. Check out this interview with guitarist, Alex Savourin, for more insight into the band’s creative process, influences, as well as their disbanding. Hopefully they will reunite someday and give us a chance to hear these tracks performed live.
Dead Meadow is a psychedelic rock band. Formed in 1998 in Washington DC, the band is now based in LA. The group has spent the better part of 25 years immersing listeners in laid back, fuzzy audio waves. Their music is soaked in a deep groove you can almost taste, with wah drenched guitar leads that will astral project your ears into a different reality. Dead Meadow will appeal to fans of bands like Sleepy Sun, Black Mountain, and The Re-Stoned.
Force Form Free, the band’s latest album, was released through independent label, Blues Funeral Recordings. The album was produced for the label’s Post Wax vinyl subscription series, with the band “working up a disparate yet cohesive group of songs that placed new works alongside the culmination of ideas they’d been tinkering with since the band’s genesis.”
1. The Left Hand Path 6:51 2. The Lure of the Next Peak 5:51 3. Valmont’s Pad 4:27 4. To Let the Time Go By 3:20 5. Force Form Free 6:28 6. Binah 8:03
The album is mostly instrumental, immersing listeners in six richly layered psychedelic jams. We’re treated to dreamy reflections like chill tracks, The Lure of the Next Peak and Force Form Free, with it’s drony Middle Eastern sound. There’s plenty of groovy riffs and wah pedal steeped leads like on the fuzzy Valmont’s Pad. Jason Simon gives a taste of his distinct vocals on To Let the Time Go By and Binah, the only two tracks with lyrics.
Force Form Free is the perfect album for sinking into the sofa and letting your ears drift away to the dreamy rhythms. Check out the psychedelic visualizers for the tracks on Youtube. You can find the digital album on Bandcamp. Stream it or download the album for $7. Dyed vinyl is available for $26 and CD’s for $11. Check out the band’s website and social media.
After four years, The Sonic Sofa remains in low-earth orbit, its continuing mission to explore strange new sounds. To seek out new bands and heavy stoner rock riffs. To boldly go where no sofa has gone before! 2022 saw the addition of the Facebook page, so follow us to get all of the music reviews, memes, and Friday riffage posts. The page could seriously use more activity, so leave a comment to give us a boost!
Also this year, The Sonic Sofa was magically reupholstered with some spacy new artwork (pictured below) by legendary stoner rock artist, Steven Yoyada. Stay tuned in 2023 for more heaviness on The Sonic Sofa, as well as new artist collaborations. We’ve got some awesome surprises and giveaways, like the brand new Sonic Sofa weed grinders, so keep your eyes out for a chance to win these and more sweet stuff!
2022 was a major year for stoner and psychedelic rock, with new releases by some of the biggest names in the game like Clutch, Elder, Colour Haze, Conan, Sasquatch, and Wo Fat. There were debuts by heavy newcomers such as Realm Drifter, Blue Heron, and Sons of Arrakis. We also had some awesome crossover projects like Bog Wizard and Frog Lord’s split record, A Frog in the Bog, and an amazing solo debut by Matt Pike. In this article, I’ve recapped all of 2022, with links to the full articles and players for the songs. Read on, and find some new jams!
In March, the Sonic Sofa featured Pike Vs. the Automaton. Matt Pike’s solo album took the stoner world by storm with a diverse blend of heavy metal, thrash, punk, and even some twangy blues. Falling somewhere between the riffy thrash of High on Fire and the stoner-doom of Sleep, Pike gave in fully to his musical instincts in glorious garage band style, riffing his way through an assemblage of songs guaranteed to induce head-banging and disgust with authority.
Also in March, we featured Humanotone’s new release, A Flourishing Fall in a Grain of Sand. The brain child of talented multi-instrumentalist, Jorge Cist, his sophomore release is a progressive dose of muscular stoner rock and heavy psych, on six richly layered compositions. Much like Elder or King Buffalo’s work, Flourishing Fall flows seamlessly from riff to riff like crashing waves or thunder on mountain peaks.
In April, Michigan’s Bog Wizard and UK’s Frog Lord collaborated to release A Frog in the Bog, one of the goofiest and coolest releases of 2022, with it’s dope D&D style and 8-Bit artwork. The two stoner doom bands came together from across the Atlantic expanse to document the meeting of the reclusive Bog Wizard and the god-like Frog Lord, resulting in magical, smoky encounters in the depths of the bog.
April also saw the release of Somali Yacht Club’s new album, The Space, featuring 45 minutes of some of the most dynamic and atmospheric stoner rock available. It has a huge drum sound, melodic vocals, and walls of guitar tones that undulate and build with plenty of heavy changeups. Check for ways to support the Ukrainian band as they have been uniquely affected by the war.
May was a big month on The Sonic Sofa, when we featured five brand new album reviews. First we showcased the new space rock album by Dhidalah. Well schooled in the art of sonic space travel, the Japanese group released their four track, 38 minute album Sensoria. Recorded live in the studio, the record packs a hard, psychedelic punch, sounding raw and organic but with the seasoned tightness of a touring jam band.
Wo Fat sets themselves apart from typical bands of the genre with their unique blend of groovy, Texas stoner rock. Their tracks usually open with a heavy, blues-based stoner rock song, before proceeding to melt faces with dynamic, progressive jams for the last half, with tons of heavy changeups, melodic sci-fi lyrics, fluid drum work, jazzy infusions, stoner rock turnarounds, and soaring guitar solos. Wo Fat released their seventh album, The Singularity, a serious headbanger, in May.
May also featured the debut release by Blue Heron. The stoner rock band hails from Albuquerque, NM and deals out a psychedelic mix of grungy heavy metal, with strong desert rock vibes and rhythms. Their album, Ephemeral, is heavy from start to finish, with the exception of a few quiet interlude tracks that give short breathers between the headbanging and breakdown action.
Also in May, we witnessed the sixth release by Spanish psych rockers, The Dry Mouths. Their new album, Thödol, features 10 spacy and trippy tracks, inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead and ideally suited for sonically astral projecting. The instrumental band specializes in creating audio landscapes of hypnotic soundwaves with diverse instruments and laced with occasional heavy psych rock sections.
Again in May, we featured another instrumental album by another Spanish psychedelic band, Sageness. What’s in the water over there? The power trio treats their music with an infusion of post-rock and shoegaze guitar work, with live recording in the studio. Their third album, Tr3s, features muscular riffs and sensual guitar textures, infused with plenty of wah-pedal and FX, underscored by a crisp, clean bass sound, and solid drum patterns.
In June, Electric Mountain released their sophomore album, Valley Giant. The stoner rock power trio from Mexico burst onto the scene in 2013 with their classic rock influenced stoner rock sound, fuel injected with plenty of high octane desert riffs. What makes the album so awesome are all of the extended, stoner rock turnarounds and classic rock breaks.
Sasquatch gave birth to their sixth headbanging album, Fever Fantasy, in June. It’s a heavy ride for all nine tracks. The group’s focus on emphasizing killer hooks is evident throughout the album. The album features walls of fuzzy riffs, a growly bass tone, a huge drum sound, and plenty of attitude filled vocals.
Also in June, we witnessed the release of the mysterious Space Druids’ debut full length, Paradox Paradigm. The seven-piece group based in the UK, produces a progressive style of vintage-sounding psychedelic rock, dripping with layers of spacy FX, along with catchy and thought provoking sci-fi lyrics and poetry. The self described “next Hawkwind,” Space Druids will also appeal to fans of The Doors, and Floyd.
Stoner rock, glam, dirty grooves, heavy riffs, grungy action, attitude: Crobot. The four-piece group from Pottsville, PA has been violently administering heavy grooves since inception, and returned in July with their 5th offering, Feel This. The album delivers in classic Crobot style, with riffs and high-flying vocals on 12 heavy, headbanger tracks.
July also bludgeoned our ear holes with the long awaited sophomore album by Iowa stoner duo, Telekinetic Yeti. Primordial was the second album we’d all hoped for: progressive doom metal action from start to finish with chuggy riffs, crazy drums, awesome vocals, and some dope weed references to boot.
In August, we featured the debut self-title album by Realm Drifter, a four-piece stoner-doom band from Fort Worth, TX. The five song album clocks in at a beefy 44 minutes. Check it out for a slow and heavy metal sound, with groovy riffs, a thick, gnarly bass tone, edgy, melodic vocals, and a bluesy, heavy drum sound.
August also revealed the debut release of Sons of Arrakis, a stoner rock band heavily influenced by one of my favorite scifi authors, Frank Herbert. The Canadian band delivered their self-titled album, filled with massive doses of seriously groovy riff rock and Dune lyrics. If heavy stoner rock and sci-fi of any kind is your thing, you’ll enjoy rocking out to Sons of Arrakis.
In September, UK stoner doom band, Conan, released their 5th skull-splitting album, Evidence of Immortality. It’s a continual heavy barrage of “caveman battle doom.” Down-tuned to the extreme and amplified as loudly as possible, the riffage, thunderous rhythm section, and tortured sounding vocals conjure images of blood-soaked battlefields and cosmic monsters.
On a much lighter and more melodic note, Colour Haze released their 14th full length, Sacred, in September. One of the most influential German stoner rock groups active today, they produce a detailed audio-scape of psychedelic music. The songs are filled with progressive drumming and riffs, soothing and spacy keyboard tones, incredibly catchy guitar hooks, and positive, melodic vocals.
Rarely do bands stand the test of time, especially with the original lineup of studio members, but Maryland’s Clutch has done so for almost 30 years. They’ve also established themselves as one of the hardest working bands, with massive tour schedules. In October, we featured the release of Clutch’s 13th album, the highly anticipatedSunrise on Slaughter Beach. The album is Clutch’s grooviest, most ambitious and diverse album in recent years.
We also featured Oh Death, the fourth album by the mysterious and ritualistic psych rockers, Goat. The collective from Sweden is known for their trance-inducing repetition and thick, 70’s style groove, with intriguing layers of diverse instrumentation, and captivating twin melodies.
In November, The Sonic Sofa featured Hallucinate Your Faith, the second heavy psych album by Nova Koloso. The Maryland rockers produce a fast paced blend of progressive psych rock, with plenty of jamming and layering of all kinds of groovy guitar sounds and catchy keyboard tones, topped off with grungy vocals.
In December, Elder released Innate Passage, their highly anticipated new full-length. Over the course of their career, the band has crafted a heavy, progressive, psychedelic, genre-bending sound. Calling the album anything other than ambitiously grandiose and epic would be a huge understatement.
And now, for the Sonic Sofa’s top picks of 2022! Our choice for debut album of the year goes to Sons of Arrakis with their self-titled album. Heavy metal album of the year goes to Matt Pike’s solo album, Pike Vs. the Automaton. The choice for best heavy psychedelic album of 2022 is Innate Passage by Elder. Best instrumental album of the year goes to Tr3s by Sageness. Our choice for stoner rock album of 2022 goes to Telekinetic Yeti’s Primordial.
Thanks for reading The Sonic Sofa. Onward and upward in 2023! Be peaceful to each other and rock on, Sofanauts.