Wednesday morning found me twiddling through the internet between my limited daily duties. Alt-TAB to Facebook, Alt-TAB to YouTube, Alt-TAB to Gmail and there it is; an email from Good To Die Records alerting me to today’s new release: The Sandrider + Kinski split LP.
I don’t know if it’s the coffee, Frasier re-runs or the shitty weather, but Seattle music has its own sound. The effect of oppressive environments on human creativity has always fascinated me. A boy listens to the radio taking shelter in his bedroom from the crime on the corner, a young woman’s frustration with her broken home shunts her interests into punk music, three dudes start a band to escape the boredom of the desert.
When people talk about music from the chilly top corner of the United States that is Washington, the more obvious names that get thrown around are Hendrix and Cobain. Much to the mainstream’s disbelief, the area’s legacy didn’t end with grunge. The last 15 years has brought us low-end juggernaught Sunn O))), thrashy black metaly something-core beasts Black Breath, prog-sludge misfits Big Business and the list goes on. The only thing that really ties all the cool music I’ve heard from North West USA is it’s all fucking weird; fresh new heavy sounds born from a deliberate alchemy. Sandrider are no exception. At first glance you may mistake Sandrider as another Kyuss clone, clogging up the bowels of music blogs with rehash after rehash, but the album art and the band name are deceptive. At times the writing falls back on some old familiar arrangements, however Sandrider’s aggressive pace and guitar work are far from the stoner status quo.
The first track Rain introduces the split with a perfect example of the beauty of Sandrider’s soundscape. It’s steady, groovy and fierce. A marriage of stoner and punk. The mix is guitar heavy, but not too overdriven, the drums are loud and airy. The song transitions from full volume to a low key dope drenched outro. The second song Glaive jumps back up in tempo and punches you right in the nose. The chorus is yelly, harmonic and catchy. From chorus to bridge, a psychotic mash, the tempo drops a second time around but with more of an ominous doomy approach. A cover of Jane’s Addiction’s Mountain Song wraps up Sandrider’s share of the record as strong as they start it with a more straight up and down psych number. Frontman Jon Weisnewski (guitar / vocals) wails “Coming down the mountain!!!” before the song erupts into a jam of repetitive stoner riffs, ugly and dumb and righteous. The guitars and vocals in parts drone and decay in echoes; it’s a solid cover of early Jane’s Addiction.
The last two tracks on the split are occupied by Kinski, over 13 minutes of progressive stoner. Mostly instrumental, I find the second half of the record anticlimactic. For fans of music, sparse and uneventful these guys might be right up your alley. Who knows, maybe I’m not high enough for Kinski, but after the main-lined inspiration of the songs following… Hey, I’ll leave it up to you.