Number of tracks: 28
Available on: CD
Disc 1: 79:37
Disc 2: 79:48
All Tracks Mastered by Paul Fox @ INDIE MASTERS
$25.00 AUD (postage and handling included)
Disc 1 (Cowbells)
Disc 2 (Cobwebs)
01 - Inner Mountain Flame - Celestial Mechanics
02 - Maaswater Veenlijk - Whores of Babylon
03 - Coffin on Tyres - Time Machine
04 - Tombstones - The Source*
05 - Forged in Flame - The Underground*
06 - Floodstain - Slumbering Titan Slayer*
07 - Electric Cavemen - In a World Gone*
08 - Soulseller - The Temple*
09 - The Graviators - The Magician*
10 - Samsara Blues Experiment- Back to Life*
11 - Cigmouth - Damn Critters!
12 - Mother of Six - Ahab
13 - Keef - Never Smile
14 - El' Garsonorogio - Night Dream, Life Dream*
$25.00 AUD (postage and handling included)
As a general rule, I try to avoid reviewing compilations, because either the review winds up being a list of the bands involved with nothing of substance said about any of them, or it’s promo-speak pushing an album by saying, “It’s good, you should buy it.” Finally approaching the Planetfuzz Records debut release, Cowbells and Cobwebs, which culls together a whopping 28 underground purveyors of heavy and fuzzed out rock over the course of two 14-track discs, the best I’m hoping for is a combination of both the above. Needless to say, I’ve been sitting on the review for a while, and for me to go track by track and analyze each song would (1) take too long and (2) make for a review of such length that no one would ever read it, being of no use to any of the parties involved – bands, label, reader or myself. To give away the conclusion early: It’s a quality collection with a bunch of previously unheard material that those who think they can hold their breath for nearly 160 minutes (each disc is 79-plus) of fuzz without drowning in it would do well to check out.
A few familiar names pop up on the first disc, appropriately labeled Cowbells. Bands like Orthodox Fuzz, Arrowhead, Ride the Sun, Honcho, Gate 9, Sungrazer and The Grand Astoria are situated next to newcomers Mangoo (who might win the award for best band moniker on the comp), Loimann, Sons of Giants, Propane Propane, Audio Dream Sister, Moab and Spelljammer, and the highlights are just about evenly split between bands I knew going into Cowbells and Cobwebs and bands I didn’t. Sungrazer’s jammy “Zero Zero” shows there’s ample reasoning behind their having been signed to Elektrohasch, and I didn’t think much of it for its opening, but Propane Propane’s “It’s Alright” wound up one of the high points of the collection for its drum sound alone. Norwegian rockers Honcho check in with a track called “Earth” from their 2010 self-released Battle of Wits album and the song is positively gorgeous in that post-Soundgarden Euro-stoner kind of way, while just a few tracks earlier, Ride the Sun show why their name has been ringing out so far over the last year or so with the previously-unreleased “Ride.”
Ride the Sun is just one of many bands showing off new or previously-unreleased material. On Cowbells, Gate 9, Orthodox Fuzz, Mangoo, Moab and The Grand Astoria also show off exclusive wares, and on Cobwebs, Floodstain, Forged in Flame, Electric Cavemen, Soulseller, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Graviators, and El’ Garsonorogio do likewise, the latter with a 13:36 extended closing cut that makes use of several different atmospheres. There are fewer immediately recognizable bands on Cobwebs, but more diversity of sound too. The disc opens with Inner Mountain Flame, who have some of Cowbells and Cobwebs’ only screamed vocals, and Maaswater Veenlijk, Coffin on Tyres, Tombstones, Keef, Cigmouth and Mother of Six all contribute varied styles within the stoner/doom subset. The Fu Manchu-worship Cigmouth get up to on “Damn Critters!” is so blatant it just has to be love, and I’d heard a lot about Keef since they released the well-received Stoned to Doom on PsycheDOOMelic last year, but never actually listened to the band. Their Goatsnake-ery was well done enough to make me want to hear that record, so if the point of Cowbells and Cobwebs was to get people to check out new bands while also announcing Planetfuzz Records’ arrival on the scene, then mission accomplished.
Cowbells flows better track to track than does Cobwebs, but that’s only because the bands have more in common sonically (and probably because I knew more of them going into this review). As I’m someone who usually doesn’t buy compilations until seven years later when they’re out of print and hard to find, take to heart my recommendation to check out Cowbells and Cobwebs and consider it a matter of saving yourself the trouble down the road. Five years from now, when acts like Ride the Sun, Sungrazer, Samsara Blues Experiment and Tombstones are helping to redefine modern stoner and fuzz-heavy rock, you’ll be glad to have these tracks on hand. I know I will, anyway. Also worthy of note is the artwork of Australian designer Glenn “Glenno” Smith and the compact digi-packaging the compilation comes in. It’s a professional collection, and obviously a lot of thought and planning went into it (the thought of wrangling 28 stoner bands for a joint release sounds like a nightmare to me), and a classic way to meet the acts who are the future of the style. Not every song is a gem, but more than enough are to justify investigation, which as far as I’m concerned, is recommended.