Houston psych / prog legends Spiny Normen’s unreleased album to arrive 40 years after it was recorded.

Spiny Normen premiere lead track from unreleased album 40-years after recording via Paste Magazine
1978 outsider psych-rock from Brown Acid compilation faves’ long-lost unreleased album coming soon from RidingEasy Records
Hear & share “Arrowhead” (YouTube) (Paste Magazine)
“A dark masterpiece.” — Paste Magazine
Spiny Normen premiere the first track from their forthcoming posthumous album — 40 years in the making — today via Paste Magazine. Hear and share album opener “Arrowhead” HERE. (Direct YouTube.)
Spiny Normen is an incredible mid-70’s Houston hard rock, progressive, psychedelic rock band (yes, all that and more) that featured mellotron, vox jaguar, crunchy, heavy guitars, flute with echo effects, and lots more. A totally lost relic this album is, recorded at the community college and never released. This band has a very English, dark, mysterious and proggy but very acid drenched feeling to it.
Vocalist/guitarist Steve Brudniak dishes on the band’s founding and this exceptional recording:
Circa 1976, Gerry and I would skip class, smoke whatever scrap of contraband we could scrape together and meet in the high school auditorium where there was a piano and bang out crunchy rhythms…. At home I shoved a mic into the family upright piano and overdrove a cheap recorder and home made echo-plex to get an impressive cacophony. Gerry was playing guitar, listening to Alice Cooper, hair down to his back and about the only Mexican American in a white bread school. He was cool! So when he said one day, “Hey man we should jam some time!” I was stoked. We did, man it was fun! I was soon on the lookout for a keyboard to become legit with. I found the already ancient Vox Jaguar in the Houston paper that had belonged to Fever Tree, one of the original psychedelic bands of the late 60s. I didn’t know how famous they were at the time but I bought it for $160 and a Kustom blue sparkle vinyl amp with a speaker that I blew out just right, that made the most beautiful distortion, accompanied by a beloved phase shifter.
We began torturing our parents in various suburban garages and bedrooms after adding Norman Davis on drums and Steve Koch on bass. Back then it was a Black Sabbath sounding, blues based crunch. Songs like “Carry Your Water” and “Space Age Flyer” were early comps.
We made a 4-track recording in a local studio around then that our drummer didn’t show up to the session for. All of us being Monty Python fans, and the Norman-no-show gave us the name Spiny Normen (with an E) which two more bands have since taken.
Over the next three years we began to experiment, waaaay off into the beaten path, spending months penning intense, bizarre, surreal and mind affecting pieces influenced by King Crimson, Pink Floyd, film soundtracks, Vandergraaf Generator, and the like along with some bad bad acid trips on my part. I was collecting keyboards …a melotron (hell yes!) a single key play moog. Gerry was adding echoes, early guitar synth and tons of pedals. I learned the flute. New bass player Bruce Salmon and a try at another vocalist Bob Riley and various drummers, my favorite being Robert Winters, were in and out. In we went with a hired stand up bass player and a little Gerry Diaz engineering knowledge to the Alvin community college 8-track recording studio and just played like psychedelic Mozarts. Timpani, live effects, sound effect records, backward echo, violin bow on guitar and plenty of echo. Gerry and I on vocals now. What came out was still, to this day, in my humble opinion, some very complex, untouched territory, holy-what-the-? stuff. We were all about 19.
It didn’t last long and we were way behind and way ahead of our time. I’m so ffffn thrilled though at 54 to see what this world of open-ended listeners will think of Spiny Normen now. The 19 year old Steve is getting his dream fulfilled. Gerry and I still experiment here and again with guitar and theremin in an effort called Psylobison. Just as touched, but its not going to give you such bad dreams.
Spiny Normen will be available on LP, CD and download on March 2nd, 2018 via RidingEasy Records. Pre-orders are available at RidingEasyRecs.com.
Artist: Spiny Normen
Album: Spiny Normen
Label: RidingEasy Records
Release Date: March 2nd, 2018
01. Arrowhead
02. Wrecko Wild Man Ride
03. Carry Your Water
04. The Monkeyweasel
05. To Meet the Mad Hatter
06. The Bell Park Loon
07. In The Darkness of Night
08. The Sound of Younger Times

On The Web:

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Top live shows of 2017: #’s 25 – 21

Who cracked the top 25 of my live shows I saw this year?  Read on!

#25 – Temples – Valley Bar – Phoenix, AZ March 11th.

Temples were the last band to play on the Desert Daze lineup at the VIVA PHX music festival.  It was my first time seeing them in a small venue, and they nailed it.  They sounded perfect and delivered a solid set that earned them many new fans.

#24 – The Damned – House of Blues – Chicago, IL April 23rd.

I’d wanted to see punk rock legends the Damned for a long while, and this show was pretty much what I’d hoped it would be.  The crowd was a fun mix of punks, goths, and horror film fans, and moshing to “Neat Neat Neat” with the Damned only a few feet away was a delight.

#23 – Thundercat – Mamby on the Beach – Chicago, IL June 25th.

I’d heard a lot of good things about Thundercat prior to seeing him live at this music festival, and he didn’t disappoint.  He and his two-man backing band played a great jazz fusion set in the middle of a festival mostly devoted to electronic dance music.  He’s an amazing bass player, and seeing him shred live makes you appreciate his skill even more.

#22 – Marian Hill – Mamby on the Beach – Chicago, IL June 24th.

Speaking of Mamby on the Beach, Marian Hill were one of the best bands we saw there.  They played a great set of sexy dance rock that might be the best new makeout music you need to hear.

#21 – Goblin – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL October 25th.

This performance from Italian prog / horror rock masters Goblin had a criminally light attendance, but they didn’t care.  As usual, being at a Goblin show is like being in a giallo film.  The whole atmosphere is creeping and fascinating.  They also played a nice tribute to the late George Romero.  Shame on you if you missed this one.

Who cracks the top 20?  Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Keep your mind open.

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Live: Goblin and Morricone Youth – Chicago, IL – October 25, 2017

The last time I saw horror / prog-rockers Goblin was in 2013 at Chicago’s Metro during their first tour of the United States.  It was a sold out show and one of the best I saw all year, so I was keen on catching them again on their “Sound of Fear” tour, especially since the lineup included four of the five original members – Massimo Morante, Maurizio Guarini, Fabio Pignaetti, and Agostino Marangolo (along with Aidan Zammit replacing keyboardist and founding member Claudio Simonetti).  They fact that they were playing in Thalia Hall – a former opera house – was a bonus.

Opening for them were the psychedelic / prog rockers Morricone Youth.  My friends and I arrived in time to catch the last two songs of their set.  Both were songs written as an alternate soundtrack to Night of the Living Dead.  The film played behind them as they rocked out and it was a great set-up for both Goblin and the Halloween season.

Goblin came out to a welcoming, albeit smaller than I expected, crowd.  I have no idea why more people weren’t at the show, unless the midweek date had something to do with it.  Regardless, Goblin came ready to play and to terrify.

They played a lot of stuff they didn’t play on their last tour, including tracks from the bizarre giallo film Beyond the Darkness (complete with grisly mortuary scenes playing behind them which might’ve made an intoxicated woman in front of us so woozy that she needed assistance leaving the main floor), another giallo Massimo Morante called Killer on the Train, and the bizarre alien invasion film Contamination.  I had no idea Goblin did the score for Contamination, so now I have extra incentive to track down that film.

Of course, they played tracks from their most famous film scores, starting with Profundo Russo (Deep Red).

They played not only the “Killer Doll” and main theme track, but also other songs from the film that you don’t hear often.  They did the same with Tenebrae, which is a giallo about a killer in an opera house no less.

They did the same with their score to Suspiria, playing music from the beginning of the film and the creepy scene in which the lead characters first start to suspect an evil witch is living among them.

It was another excellent performance that got better as it crawled along like some horrible thing creeping out of the shadows.  Goblin rarely get to the U.S., so don’t miss them.

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Rewind Review: TV on the Radio – Seeds (2014)

TV on the Radio returned in 2014 after taking time to mourn the loss of their bass player, Gerard Smith, who lost his battle with lung cancer in 2011. The album they released, Seeds, is a bright affair that not only pays tribute to Smith, but also embraces life and love after loss.

The first four lines of the opener, “Quartz,” are “How much do I love you? I’ll tell you no lie. How deep is the ocean? How high the sky?” It is a beautiful track with wicked beats that get your feet tapping within seconds.

“Careful You” (a play on “care for you”) is the most direct tribute to Smith barely hidden within a love song. The opening verse, “Oui, je t’aime, oui je ta’ime, a demain, ala prochaine (Yes, I love you, yes, I love you, tomorrow, and the next), I know it’s best to say goodbye, but I can’t seem to move away.” is both heartbreaking and tender. The throbbing synths drive the song through any fog that may be surrounding your head and bring you to out of your reality, at least momentarily.

“Could You,” with its big brass horns, has lead singer Tunde Adebimpe pleading for love (“Could you love somebody? Could you strip the ego bare and let love take flight? Could you open up your heart?”). The first single, “Happy Idiot,” is a sizzler with hot drums and lyrics about a man preferring ignorance and losing his mind to thinking of a life without his former lover. “Test Pilot” is another song about lost love and heartbreak, although by the end it seems the lovers involved may be willing to work through the rough skies and come in for a safe landing after all.

“Love Stained” is an epic song with lovely lyrics about a man terrified by his feelings and seemingly the world at large, but whose lover is always there for him (“In the middle of the night, when fear comes calling singing it all dies, always scared, alone, I’m looking into your eyes to feel the call, pretty thing that catches me so strong when I fall.”). The synths in this rise and fall like waves and eventually drift out like the tide. It’s almost as haunting as opening to the follow-up track, “Ride,” in which the piano and violins sound like a funeral dirge until the drums kick in and the song bursts open to become an affirmation of moving beyond grief and embracing the future. It’s a telling statement from the band considering the loss of Smith.

“Right Now” is another song of renewal and embracing of life. It is a directive from TVOTR to live in this moment and the leave behind the “imaginary need for the silly little things.” “Winter” has blaring guitars that sound designed to reach the back of the concert hall; and, yes, it’s another love song. It has the sauciest lyrics on the album – “Can’t think of nothing better than a union in the afterglow. Let it go, all the thinking and the reason. Here we go, to the lovin’ and the pleasin’.” Meow.

If all the synths are too much for you and you’re whining about the album not having a “real” TVOTR song, don’t worry. “Lazerray” sounds like something the band might’ve put on Return to Cookie Mountain. It’s is the most straight-up rocker on the record and a strong message about the impermanence of everything (“Chop down your master plan in nanoseconds, man. I hope you understand that nothing living lasts forever.”). “Trouble” seems to be a song about a man realizing his lover’s going to break up with him and there’s nothing he can do about it, but I can’t help but think it’s also about the impending death of Smith, especially when the song ends with “Everything’s gonna be okay” repeated over and over. The title track closes out the record, bringing back the thick synths and TVOTR’s great layered vocals. It’s another beautiful love song about a man planting the seeds to build a relationship with a woman who’s been stung in the past.

Seeds might be the best collection of love songs released in 2014. It was a great return for a great band.

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A Perfect Circle announces North American fall tour dates.

Not ones to take a break, A Perfect Circle have announced fall tour dates throughout North America.  No new album has been announced, but they have played new material during recent shows.  Here are the announced dates:

October 21 — Sacramento, CA @ Aftershock Festival
October 23 — Colorado Springs, CO @ Broadmoor World Arena
October 25 — Albuquerque, NM @ Tingley Coliseum
October 26 — El Paso, TX @ Don Haskins Center
October 30 — Knoxville, TN @ Thompson-Boling Arena
November 1 — Fairfax, VA @ EagleBank Arena
November 2 — Brooklyn, NY @ Tidal Theater at Barclays Center
November 4 —Reading, PA @ Santander Arena
November 5 — Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena
November 7 — Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion
November 8 — Boston, MA @ Agganis Arena
November 10 — Portland, ME @ Cross Insurance Center
November 11 — Albany, NY @ Times Union Center
November 12 — Syracuse, NY @ The OnCenter Arena
November 14 — Montreal, QC @ Laval Centre
November 15 — Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
November 17 — Pittsburgh, PA @ Petersen Events Center
November 18 — Cleveland, OH @ Wolstein Center
November 19 — Highland Heights, KY @ BB&T Arena
November 21 — Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
November 22 — Grand Rapids, MI @ The DeltaPlex Arena
November 24 — Chicago, IL @ UIC Pavilion
November 25 — St. Paul, MN @ Xcel EnergyCenter
November 28 — Spokane, WA @ Spokane Arena
November 30 — Vancouver, BC @ PNE Coliseum
December 1 — Seattle, WA @ Key Arena
December 2 — Portland, OR @ Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum
December 4 — Eugene, OR @ Matthew Knight Center

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Mamby on the Beach artist spotlight: Thundercat

Bass guitar whiz, rapper, singer, and producer Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) is one of the funkiest musicians around right now.  His music ranges from funk to soul to psychedelia to prog-rock (and he also plays bass in Suicidal Tendencies).  His collaborations with Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, and Kendrick Lamar have all earned him wide acclaim (and a Grammy).  His June 25th set at Mamby on the Beach is sure to be a must-see.

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Tool announces short U.S. and Canada tour.

Prog-metal virtuosos Tool have announced a small batch of tour dates across the U.S. east coast and Midwest, and a couple in Canada.  Some of these towns haven’t seen a Tool show in over a decade.  They’re also headlining a couple music festivals this year.

No word yet on if this tour will be to promote their long-awaited fifth album or any songs from it will be played on the tour.  Tool always does their own thing, so don’t be surprised if they only play older tracks or nothing but stuff you haven’t heard before.

May 24 — Fairfax, Virginia @ Eaglebank Arena
May 27 — Bangor, Maine @ Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion
May 28 — Boston, Massachusetts @ Boston Calling
May 30 — Rochester, New York @ Blue Cross Arena
May 31 — Hamilton, Ontario @ First Ontario Centre
June 2 — Montreal, Quebec @ Bell Centre
June 5 — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania @ Petersen Events Center
June 7 — Detroit, Michigan @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
June 8 — Chicago, Illinois @ Allstate Arena

Keep your mind open.

Rewind Review: Jiboia – self-titled EP (2013)


I first heard the Middle Eastern / Indian influenced “electro-drone” (for want of a better term) of Jiboia at Levitation Chicago last year when some DJ’s played a song by him between sets. “Who is this?” I thought and instantly put my Shazam app to use (since that’s the thing to do nowadays).

Jiboia’s self-titled EP is a wild mix of trippy synths, frenetic beats, and pro-rock guitars. The first track, “Eingana,” is full of all those things, and Jiboia shreds quite well on it. “Manasha” starts off with 1980’s video game-style beeps and beats, but Jiboia’s soaring guitar work soon takes over the track. “Ayidda-Weddo” is like something you’d hear in a late night cab in Calcutta if the driver were also a computer hacker in his spare time. “Kungpipi” is almost a Kraftwerk track with its heavily processed beats and simple yet effective synths, but the droning bass and wild guitar work take it to a bit of a dark psychedelic place.

The standout is “Uadjit” with guest vocals from Ana Miro. Her chant-like siren song gets into your head, as do the electric near-dubstep beats. I don’t know if Ms. Miro has done other work with Jiboia, but I hope that’s the case. They’re a great duo.

This is a strange bit of psychedelic world music. You have to be in the right mood for it, but it’s perfect for when that mood strikes.

Keep your mind open.

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Dayluta Means Kindness – When You’re Young You’re Invincible

Texas psych / prog-rockers Dayluta Means Kindness have returned with another album of mind-altering instrumental cosmic rock – When You’re Young You’re Invincible.

After a brief, feedback-looped “Intro,” the band bursts forward with “Warzawa.” It’s loud, bright, and shimmering with layers upon layers of guitars before it drifts into a bass solo that reminds me of light rain before the whole thing launches like an eagle launching itself off a mountain peak.

The title track starts off with dreamy guitars that are the sounds your brain thinks it’s hearing when you see the sun reflected off a rippling lake.  It blooms at about the 4:00 mark into a song that evokes the bravery of a kid jumping off a tire swing into that rippling lake for the first time.

After a brief “Segue,” DMK treats us to over ten minutes of dreamscape music on “Fort Lebanon.” It grows into something like a rolling thunderstorm across a meadow on a summer day. “Young Savagery and General Debauchery” could be, thematically, a companion piece to the title track. It doesn’t have a savage or debauched opening. It’s almost idyllic. Perhaps DMK is trying to tell the generation coming up behind them that cockiness, base pleasures, and ego are all fleeting things that hold us back from tranquility. The song transforms into a stunning piece of heavy prog-rock that never loses its shoegaze influences.

There’s an “Outro” that leaves us with a bit of a somber note, like we’re waking up from a cryptic dream. The whole record brings dreams to mind – dreams of the future and the past, mainly. It’s a dream worth having and worth exploring.

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