Back in 1969 Liberty Records released two compilation albums: ‘Gutbucket (An Underworld Eruption) and ‘Son of Gutbucket’, that featured artists on it’s roster. These included the likes of Captain Beefheart, Alexis Korner, Canned Heat, The Groundhogs, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Roy Harper and Aynsley Dunbar to name just a few of them. The albums were recognisable from the pigs on the cover and something of a DIY looking aesthetic (although Liberty was an imprint of a major label, Transamerica).
No one has thought of reviving the idea until now when those good people at NoiseAgonyMayhem and Cardinal Fuzz have put together a new set of tunes performed by contemporary Canadian bands, many that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with. People I give you ‘Return of the Son of Gutbucket: Canadian Underground Psych Explosion’! But before I get to the music I just wanted to say how much care has clearly gone into putting this together, down to the sleeve; designed by Brett Savage of Dead Sea Apes fame. This is an album that has clearly been put together by people who appreciate and value the history that they are paying homage to, and the music and musicians that are being featured here.
‘Return of the Son of Gutbucket: Canadian Underground Psych Explosion’ track by track:
Obelisk Rising by Anunnaki (Track Premiere)
Most of Anunnaki‘s output to date has been marked by long considered pieces that really develop over time, not really appropriate for a compilation such as this. This though… what an absolute fucking monster of a track it is. Heavy as lead and every bit as poisonous as it oozes dirt with its fuzzy guitar and epic speed freak drumming. Check this out below, but make sure you’re not carrying anything heavy or sharp first… I’m proper happy to be premiering this face melter.
If You Want It by Backhomes
Backhomes are new to me, but after hearing this track I’m certainly going to be heading over to their bandcamp page to check them out (surely one of the points of a compilation such as this). ‘If You Want It’ is a dreamy yet earthy pop song that is everything a pop song should be. It’s catchy and it’s effervescent, but it’s far from shallow with it’s spacey tones and lovely harmonies. There’s a lot going on here, and it proves to be the perfect antidote to Anunnaki’s brutal opened. Consider yourself soothed.
You Are Frail And Won’t Survive The Winter by Hawkeyes
For those of you who have heard the Hawkeyes of ‘Poison Slows You Down’, this track may come as a bit of a surprise. As suggested in the band’s recent split LP with Radiation Flowers, Hawkeyes are exploring new avenues away from the stoner doom with which they are perhaps more associated. ‘You Are Frail And Won’t Survive The Winter’ is a slower and much more subtle track which, as the title suggests, has a downbeat melancholia to it. This is integrated with a desert haze blues that gives it a sort of warm feeling… the sort of warm feeling you get with hyperthermia perhaps. This is solid, and by that I don’t mean average… I mean it’s like the Northern Wall in Game of Thrones, a sonic edifice!
Genghis Khan by Moths and Locusts
Moths and Locusts are real favourites of mine, I really like their mixture of the heavy guitar darkness, surprising melodies and experimentalism. I always feel that they are a band with a lot of depth, and this track is no exception. Like the Backhomes track this has a certain ritualistic feel to it. The mixture of fast and slow is as well judged as ever, heavy throughout but you always feel that there is something different around the next corner. Like all the tracks on this compilation, this is no throw away filler, but tracks that could make it onto any regular album by the bands concerned.
Vermillion Sun by Psychic Pollution
The other new band for me here are Psychic Pollution, and ‘Vermillion Sun’ comes as something of a salve after the heavy intensity of Moths and Locusts. This is a lovely bright and open electronic number which is ambient in the Berlin School tradition. Again I’m really going to have to check out their bandcamp page, because this really is great stuff!
Stuck in a Maze by Radiation Flowers
I’ve been knocked out by the Radiation Flowers’ recent releases, and this track is at least as good as anything I’ve heard from them. The slow pace of the track seems almost impossible in terms of what you’re hearing, and the integration of the vocal and music is absolutely spot on. This track has real heart and soul, and I find myself melting every time I hear it. There is a real sadness to the song, but also hope as well I think. Altogether this is a brilliant package, and even better I think there’s a lot more to come from this band.
United Fruit by Shooting Guns
In stark contrast to Radiation Flowers (although the bands share personnel) is this track from Shooting Guns which is yet another in their series of monster productions. Perhaps more electronic that their recent output (outside of their soundtrack work), this is an absolute killer that builds from the opening dialogue more that you would think was possible until it evens out into a fantastic motorik beast (I’m keeping the typo). This one just keeps on giving…
Faster Train (redux) by The Band Whose Name is a Symbol
There’s nothing much I can really say about this band that I haven’t already, but what I really like about this track is the nod to to the original Gutbucket compilations at the beginning. I’d expect nothing less give this band’s undoubted reverence of what has gone before. But, with homage duly paid, as usual they then just go off on one unholy jam that just seems to get heavier as it goes on. This is a massive track on which to finish, weighty as fuck and, because of the nature of this compilation, faded out far too early.
Last year I did an all-Canadian playlist featuring many of the bands that are on this album. This compilation has only gone to strengthen in my mind how much great and diverse psych music is being made in Canada. ‘Return of the Son of Gutbucket: Canadian Underground Psych Explosion’ proves that it is just that, an explosion of different bands operating in different cities, often very par apart, producing music that is different, rewarding and above all bloody brilliant. I love all the tracks on this album, but even if you don’t I can pretty much guarantee that if your are reading this blog there is something here that you will like. Go on, fill yer bucket!