The other night in a tiny sweaty little underground club in Bath, the St James Wine Vaults to be precise, I saw the launch of the newly revitalised line-up of the Groundhogs featuring founder Groundhog, drummer Ken Pustelnik.

Through out the 60’s the Groundhogs were very much a staple of the psychedelic rock movement playing along with the likes The Rolling Stones, Clapton, Cream and Hendrix. fronted by guitarist and singer Tony Mcphee, who had to unfortunately retire last year due to his ill health.

This was their first headline show since making it public that Ken had formed a new version of the Groundhogs, and what a better place to do it then an underground club that reeked of Rock n Roll and had sweat dripping from the low tunnel ceiling. with space for only 100 people. It was close and comfy experience that rock n roll really thrives on.

The new Groundhogs played with real affection for the songs as the piled through a set of materiel from the Albums Scratchin’ The Surface, Thank Christ For The Bomb, Who Will Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs, Solid and Split in an hour and a half of pulsating riffs.

The longer they played for the wilder and more intense it got, with Kens killer rhythmic playing wild eyed stare. infact the wilder he stared the more the jamms flowed, with Cherry Red desending into an orgy of guitar solos. It was frickin great

Groundhogs are here wether you like it or not.

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Robocobra Quartet – I Wazaru


Robocobra Quartet are alternative post punk Jazz outfit from Belfast who put the alternative into the the Jazz. Treading a wilfully free spirited fusion, mixing the attitude of punk with the subversive humour of grunge and the avant-garde playfulness of free Jazz.

Taking nods from a wide variety of influences from Ted Milton and Blurt through to Steve Albini and Shellac, whilst channelling something of the inner Marke E Smith. Fusing heavy distorted bass with hooky horns and tight driven rhythms with subversive lyrics.

I Wazaru is taken from a little limited edition lathe cut 7″ via independent Music, the link to order the 7″ is at the bottom of this blog post.

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Spectres – Spectre

So everyone has heard the syrupy lead song from the new James Bond movie Spectre from everyone’s favourite lung hugger Sam Smith. here’s Bristol based shoegasers Spectres own attempt at writing a James Bond theme.

It has all the elements of 90’s indie croon feel and sweeping strings that have dominated Bond soundtracks over the decades. They manage to mix elements of Rides long drawn out fuzzy guitars and Cowboy Junkies style grit with a big bombastic pop feel.

Joe Hatts Voice definately feels at home with the very dream like production, stripped back rhythm holding the song together, kind of has a reminiscence to David Gedge’s Cinerama.

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The Evil Usses – The Evil Usses


The Evil Usses are an instrumental Jazz rock outfit from Bristol, fusing together psychedelic rock with the playful elements of free Jazz. ?The sound is born out of a group of ragg n taggle Bristaliens and genuine outsiders. Taking on the free spirits of John Coltranes Acid trips, Marshall Allen inspired sax riffs and fusing with 60’s Magic Band free feeling psychedelic guitars.

They are one of the most exciting live acts coming out of Bristol, their shows are wild and extremely different to a lot of other bands out there. But they do show enough similarities to the likes of Get the Blessing and Melt Yourself Down, in the fact that they play heavily upon syncopated grooves.

Signed to Bristol Psych label Stolen Body Records, who have put out releases by the likes of Factotum, Taos Humm, Tara Clerkin, EBU band and The Bad Joke That Ended Well. Their debut album really is truly enthralling listen taking the listener on many different journeys. Its great to see a label like Stolen Body Records being willing to look outside of the standard psych garage rock and the excitement of where psychedelic jazz can take you.    records

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Hollow Hand – Chariot

Hollow Hand is a very little known band or solo artist, there is a really is not a lot of information about him or them, who ever they are. It’s the fine art of mystique that so many seem to have forgotten about and it is at times mystique that makes us really listen.

All that I know is that this outfit come from London and that is all. Chariot is their first out put, it offers a taster for what might be coming our way from Hollow Hand. Its fair to say that from listening to this you would be forgiven in thinking that they had just walked out of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Drawing on the hazy 3 part harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash and the stripped back lyrics that have the earthly feel of Jethro Tull.

There is almost Grenwich Village movement filling the melodies with subtle guitar picking and strumming. There are many layers that really build in the melodies, and its the fine art of subtleties meaning that no parts really sound the same, although there is a flowing feeling happening in the melody. Even the subtle use of pipes feel really well placed and prick my ears. It feels like as if Hollow Hand might pip both Fleet Foxes and Midlake in capturing the hazy feeling without really forcing it.

I look forward to seeing what becomes of Hollow Hand.

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The Naturals – 2HGS

The Naturals are a band that I have been watching develop over the past 7 years or so, from their days as youthful Million Dead want to be’s through to the seering shoagaze melodic swoonings with epic feels. The evolution of this bunch of old school friends has been nothing an on going growing precess over the past ten years.

2HGS is taken from the bands highly anticipated debut album, which is due out in May. I dont think that a band has taken quite so long to releasing their debut album. Nore has a band taken on quite so many sonic changes over the years since their formation.

2HGS is full of hymnal sounding drones and heavily distorted chiming vocals and has dissonant feel. The sound takes on elements of the new generation of kraut, like Factory Floor and Beak and mixing them together with the likes of the Pop Groups post punk rhythmic bass lines. Ultimately it feels like they have given a fresh take on what people view as the Bristol Sound.

I cant wait for the album to come out.

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Retox – Let’s Not Keep In Touch

Retox are one of the most exciting bands in the underground hardcore scene in California founded by the former The Locust front man Justin Pearson. Lets Not Keep In Touch is the first single taken from the bands upcoming Beneath California. Right from the off Let’s Not Keep InTouch kicks big fat balls, with big fat detuned bass lines which squidge along with rasping high winding raking guitars which make the ears feel like as if I am entering a deep black abyss.

There are certain things which have always marked out any of Pearson’s projects is the fact that he has honed in on a very distinctive sound. His lyrics have a sharp and punctual rhythm, I mean you can almost feel his voice spit venom with his delivery.

The lyrics to me mark the subjects of domestic abuse and bullying, things which Pearson himself has suffered mixed in with the whole feeling of societal discontent. The whole song is kind of held together by a repetitive grinding rhythm and high droning guitars.

In short Let’s Not Keep In Touch is a brilliantly abrasive kick in the face, with a heavy face melting feel. Retox are possibly one of the most exciting and dynamic/inventive  hardcore bands around.

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The Jacques – Pretty Dj

The Jacques are very much a band that have been making themselves ever present on the thriving Bristol scene, which is now on the verge of over flowing. Not that I should be complaining, because it is really exciting.

There are some very obvious comparisons that people will make with the likes of the Libertines, but I feel that you could also throw in bits of the Cure and maybe even the live energy of the Manics, dare I even use those comparisons.

Pretty Dj is a fizzy little pop tune that could have quite easily walked off the back of Up The Bracket, with a nervous baby faced energy. They have hooks and an undeniable energetic stage presence. Watching the Jacques is like watching a bunch of kids overloading on popping candy, and boy is that fun. And to see a room full of kids enjoying themselves.

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Trust Fund – Cut Me Out

Bounding out of Bristol and in the past year or so, bounding into many of the cities inhabitants hearts has been Trust Fund. The brainchild of one Elis, a kid who has the geeky love of Weezer and the big power pop sounds of the guitar. Something which can have an uplifting lilt whilst also being pretty down beat.

There are so many things I love about Trust Fund, one being Elis’s unafraid approach to writing big sounding pop songs, with a bitter sweet feel to them. This is ultimately what endeared Turnstile records enough for them to sign him, that and his consistent level of song writing.

Right from the off Cut Me Out is laden with pure heartfelt charm and anthemic sing along hooks, and the central theme is at heart a down beat love story, sang with an affectionate zing. Trust Fund specialises in uplifting feel that could put a smile on just about anyone. It is down right infectious and the video features lots of adorable dogs.

Cut Me Out is taken from Trust Funds eagerly awaited debut coming out in February.

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The Garden – The Life and Times of A Paper Clip

When ever I think of Orange County punk rock I tend to think of the pop punk sounds of Lagwagon and the fairly innocuous bouncy three chord riffs. I don’t think of it being a place that would really breed a proto punk band such as The Garden.

They played their first Bristol show at the Louisiana to a handful of really enthusiastic kids. The duo comprised of twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, play the classic bass drums duo set-up with a really inventive playing. Sonically pulling on the strings of Suicide, Television and Devo thrown together with the electroshock moments of Fischer Spooner.

The rock tight and elaborative duo played with a youthful willingness to play around with sound kind of feels reminiscent of Television at their prime, fussing riffs and tightly knitted rhythms with awkward twinged vocal lines, bringing up an almost social social irrelevance.

It was great to see their wide eyed enthusiasm to push boundaries sonically try new things out, whilst bouncing around the stage, just pure energy. Definitely one to keep a good sollid eye on for years to come.

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