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prog rock

Black Stone Brewers Distilled Excitement For Their 2023 EP Launch In Their Expositionally Expansive A&R Factory Interview

From the first shot of Perth’s hottest up-and-coming alt-rock outfit, Black Stone Brewers sound, we were intoxicated. Between their hectic tour schedule and priming their new singles to be launched, we sat down with the enthralling outfit to get a more intimate taste of their ingenuity. They’re quickly becoming our new favourite poison.

Black Stone Brewers, welcome to A&R Factory! You’ve been making major strides despite your relatively recent integration into the music industry. What has been the highlight for you so far?

Thanks so much for having us! A few of us have been playing together for several years, with Simon (bass, ridiculous good looks) and Luke (lead guitar, memes) coming on board for this iteration of the band. So having played together for so long, probably the best thing for us right now is landing some shows on some bigger stages in front of more people! We love and believe in our music, and it really makes it real when a few people you’ve never set eyes on before in your life come up after a big set and honestly tell you how much they loved it.

With five of you within the band and your sonic style being so fluid, how often do creative differences crop up?

Often enough to talk about, that’s for sure! I remember a few instances where a couple of us got fixated on one or two notes here or there and argued back and forth about which way it should go, while the rest of the guys shrug and say does it really matter? They’re usually right, but you get so caught up in exactly how you want a certain part to sound that you’re prepared to get into fisticuffs over it! Nothing a cold beer can’t solve, however! But really, we’re usually pretty aligned in the overall feel and direction each song takes as it comes together, where there’s usually one driving idea and everyone gets behind it. If no one seems to know which way a song or melody is going, we tend to find those are the tunes that fall by the wayside anyway.

What’s the secret ingredient in your evocatively Kryptonitic melodies?

What’s the secret in your fabulously worded questions?! You’ve got us stumped here. If by Kryptonitic you mean our melodies are the downfall of superheroes everywhere, then I guess one of the key things we strive for is the perfect blend of heavy, prog, and metal influences, with catchy pop hooks and sing-alongs. Jono (guitar, keys, vocals, any other instrument he can get his grubby mitts on) has some really solid pop foundations and just pulls these incredibly catchy melodies and chord progressions out, whereas Rob (guitar, vocals, beard) is always just sitting around in a corner (when he’s supposed to be working) agonisingly putting note next to note in the rhythmically weirdest spot, trying to create something unique. Throw that at a wall with one of the most solid rhythm sections around in Simon and Blair (drums, cigarettes), layer some well-thought-out leads and Strymon effects on top, and voila! How’s that for Kryptonite?

What led to your two battle of the bands wins in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and how has your stage presence transformed since?

The first battle of the bands we played in 2020 was a little local one at a pub and was the first gig this iteration of the band ever played. It was fun, and we managed to pull enough mates to score the win and a few dollars in the bank. We were nervous, someone was incredibly late and disorganised, and we just about pulled it off. By 2021 we had a solid set of shows under our belt, were working on newer, better material and our stage presence had actually turned into something. We pride ourselves on not just standing on a platform plucking at a few strings, Black Stone Brewers shows are energetic, they’re sweaty, they’re loud, and they’re often punctuated with sub-par banter. We’ve never watched one, but we imagine it’s pretty entertaining to watch. It’s more fun and exciting watching a band play when it looks like they’re having a real good time too. Let’s get sweaty together!

What particular line of philosophy does your latest single, Cut the Cord, lyrically tie in with most closely?

Now that’s a doozy! You’ve done this before! Cut the Cord was a back-and-forth lyric trade-off between Rob and Jono over messenger a while ago, exploring the role religion has played in our formative years, and how different that is to the instant gratification social media mess that a lot of life is today. It’s a bit of a bleak message and a reflection on some things we see around us, but it also has that little undertow of hope – how can this be the next evolution? Let’s cut the cord, clear all these illusions that are blinding people and set a new course. It’s time now to make it right.

It has been a while since rock music has been one of the most popular genres; what do you think it will take for the rock appetite to make a ravenous comeback?

It’s true on the face of it, but there’s still an incredible amount of heavy rock music out there, you just have to look a little harder. Hopefully, with Covid out of the way, the big rock festivals start up again and some of the bigger names in the scene kick off a bunch of tours, and people can get back in the pit and remember how great it feels to be part of a loud, moving mass of people singing along to their favourite tunes, and head banging to their favourite riffs. Nothing get’s you like a brutal riff! And hopefully, we’ll be right there alongside it all, so keep an eye and an ear out!

You worked with the nationally renowned producer, Matthew Templeman, on your forthcoming EP that is set to release in early 2023; how much creative licence did you give him over the EP?

This was such an incredible experience. Matt is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and an absolute wizard at his craft, we’re totally thrilled to have been able to spend as much time working on this EP with him as we did. Matt initially approached the project relatively hands-off, as the songs were already finished, and we hadn’t worked together before. But as we got into the studio and started getting more comfortable with each other, we saw some more of his production mastery. Matt has an incredible grasp of how a song fits together, what each musician needs to get the best performance at any given time, and an innate sense of what just sounds plain old good. We threw all our messy ideas and hopes and dreams at him, and he helped us craft them into a finished product that we couldn’t be prouder of. As far as we’re concerned, the next time around Matt can do whatever he wants!

What else do the Black Stone Brewers have in the pipeline?

So, our focus right now is obviously releasing a couple of singles and building into a big exciting EP launch. We’re working hard to build our brand and get the best of our music out into the world as far as we can get it. If you like what you hear, please give us a spin, sling us a follow-on social media and tell your mates! Other than that, we’ll be pulling together a line of merch with some great local artists and vendors, and then knuckling down to write the next set of straight-up bangers. Our sound is still evolving from the first EP, and we can’t wait to get back into the studio and get the next thing out into the world! Until then, keep on rocking!

Listen to Black Stone Brewers on Spotify, YouTube and Bandcamp.

Give them a follow on Facebook & Instagram.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Kiss the Scientist is ‘Waiting on the Rest of the World’ in their psych-tinged orchestrally-heightened post-rock triumph

After opening for the Plain White T’s and Hoobastank, LA alt-rock powerhouse Kiss the Scientist is priming the airwaves for their debut EP that is set to release in 2023. Their latest single, Waiting on the Rest of the World, starts with an ambient neoclassic stringed prelude before waves of momentously high energy break around the alt-rock instrumentals.

Strap yourselves in and prepare for off-kilter curveballing progressions that make delving back into Waiting on the Rest of the World infinitely pleasurable. With every repeat listen, you pull something new out of the multi-sensory experience that entices you with the punk ethos in the lyricism and the delicate motifs around the monolithic breakdowns.

The swirling psych-rock cascades cut up by classic rock riffs create a stunning score of ingenuity for lead singer and guitarist Max Tomack to lay down his dynamic vocals that range from ragged post-hardcore screams to hook-filled melodic lines.

As if we didn’t love the latest single already, we were infatuated upon finding out that all of the music that spills from the practice room is a happy accident made through their sheer unadulterated love of making music. We’re officially psyched for the debut EP.

Waiting on the Rest of the World will officially release on November 18th. Catch it on Spotify and all other major platforms via this link. Follow Kiss the Scientist on Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Cash Machine delivered 70s prog-rock perfection with their soul entwined single, Digital Zeus

After dropping their raunchy funk-sliced prog rock debut single, Promises, the Upstate SC outfit Cash Machine subverted our expectations entirely with the sophomore follow-up, Digital Zeus.

The seamlessly progressive single starts as a smoky, lounge-y feat of late-night bluesy soul before progressing into a riff-led prog rock epic that would leave any Genesis fans kneeling at Cash Machine’s unholy alter.

The screeching guitar riffs to the almost thrashy percussion builds an immersive 70s prog-tinted crescendo before the timbre temporarily winds back down to a Jeff Buckley-style serenade. Naturally, we can’t wait to hear what follows this solid feat of ingenuity and technical ability.

Digital Zeus officially released on September 28th; check it out on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Cagri Raydemir – Unscripted Surrender: Meet Your New Favourite Prog-Rock Pioneer

With vocal reminiscences to Serj Tankian’s softer vocal lines and the gypsy punk rogue Eugene Hütz, Cagri Raydemir’s latest single, Unscripted Surrender, featuring musician Salih Korkut Peker, is a charisma-fuelled feat of intellectually crafted prog rock innovation.

With 12 albums and 5 EPs under his belt, the Munich, Germany residing singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and audio engineer has notably poured blood, sweat and tears into developing a sonic signature that will leave a perpetual mark once you have been exposed to the achingly beautiful motifs that take his sound far beyond the standard bar for independent artists.

While the instrumentals refuse to bow to genre constraints and break the monocultural mould in the process of the progressions, Cagri Raydemir’s autonomously alternative sound compliments the lyricism which operates on a near philosophical level.

Unscripted Surrender is now available to stream on Spotify with the rest of his 2022 EP, Shortage of Identity. 

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Funk-Rock supergroup Cash Machine have made their raunchily groove-deep debut with Promises

‘Promises’ is the debut feat of filthy prog funk rock from the supergroup Cash Machine, which comprises artists from several of Upstate SC’s most successful bands. Members of The Consumers, The Grateful Brothers and Buffalohead all converged to throw back to the raucous era of funk-rock in one of the grittiest time-hops you could sink into in 2022.

With the ragged vocal timbre of Joe Power raucously grating across the smoky groove pockets carved by guitarists Daniel Collins and Zach Thigpen, Promises oozes raunchy swagger that is slick enough to leave you hot under the collar.

Promises was unleashed on September 9th ahead of their debut self-titled album, which is set to release on October 14th. Funk-rock aficionados will want to head to Spotify to indulge and make radar room accordingly.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Scottish alt-rock pioneers her picture showed us ‘The Nature of It’ with their debut single.

Scotland’s freshest 4-piece alt-rock ensemble, her picture showed us what originality sounds like in 2022 with their debut single, The Nature of It. Their citation of Ben Howard and Pink Floyd as their influences barely scratches the riff-powered surface of their blend of colourful reverb-dripping ambience and intensely overdriven rock.

Just as the records from My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and The House of Love demand to be listened to at maximum volume, the hauntedly beckoning vocals over the artfully proggy instrumentals that throw cataclysmic breakdowns at you at the drop of a hat were built for complete audiophilic immersion. I’m yet to hear another more visceral alt rock debut this year.

The Nature of It is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Mystical Hot Chocolate Endeavors delivered a prodigal prog-rock evocative firestorm through their single, MU-TH-UR

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting a band under the moniker The Mystical Hot Chocolate Endeavors to sound like, but as sexy as Deftones & Kyuss wasn’t high on the list.

Fresh from the release of their MU-TH-UR EP, they sucked us into the atmosphere of the title single, which catapulted us across the spectrum of human emotion with the tightly tumultuous post-rock gravitas.

There is something endlessly sweet about the melancholy-tinged harmonies, which run in the same vein as Incubus, creating a bridge over the proggy furore that can’t be pinned down with any discernable accuracy. MU-TH-ER was the result of pure unbridled experimentation. Yet, with the stellar songwriting talent, The Mystical Hot Chocolate Endeavors makes it easy to enjoy going along with the ride that hits you with crescendo after curveball after breakdown. Considering that gas prices are at an all-time high, you may as well expand your horizons with the hypnotic propensities in the progressions in MU-TH-ER. We know we will. Repeatedly.

MU-TH-ER is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast


The Liberace of punk, Cinemartyr, are back in proggy Avant-Garde form in ‘No Legacy’

Baroque folk meets prog rock in the latest single, No Legacy, from the NYC-residing Avant-Garde outfit, Cinemartyr who have lasciviously been stealing the crown of the boldest aural architects since their original formation in 2008.

The doomy, heavy guitars follow the ultimate head-banging formula as the riffs keep on getting brought back slower for the aphrodisiacal angsty effect. While Irish folk nuances, from founding member, Shane Harrington’s geographical ghetto past, sporadically eke in through the pull of classical strings and the tonal shifts in Amber Moon’s vocal eccentricity. The era-hopping vocal lines are enough to put Kate Bush and Dua Lipa in the same league.

Keep them on your radar for the release of their forthcoming album, OPT OUT, which will be available to to stream and purchase from June 17th.

The official music video premiered on March 3rd; you can stream it for yourselves via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Take a psychedelic desert rock trip with Shandri’s latest single, Desert Flower

From the ancient mountains of Central Mexico, the alt-indie psych artist, Shandri, is here with his latest progressively indulgent aural trip, Desert flower. It evades every revival cliché by complimenting the shimmering psych-rock transcendent tones with a touch of War on Drugs and Radiohead art-rock finesse.

For the instrumental interlude, the one-man project surpassed expectations with screaming saxophones and jazzy nuances that will leave any self-respecting desert-rock inclined muso weak at the knees. Yet, Shandri invertedly poured plenty of commercial potential in the single by wrapping it into an addictive 3-minute package that deserves to blow up as much as the Black Keys’ biggest hits. We can’t wait to hear what follows.

Desert Flower is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Volta Nova – Out Where the West Begins: Meet the Fresh Face of Blues Rock

To follow on from their debut Return to Tomorrow EP, the fresh face of blues-rock, Volta Nova, unleashed their college-rock-reminiscent stormer of an extended single, Out Where the West Begins.

With hints of the 90s Seattle sound, prog-rock proclivities, blues rock attitude, swaggering crunchy guitars and nuances of the Offspring in the early days in their vocals, you couldn’t ask for a more dynamically indulgent alt-rock single to add to your playlists. For five unadulterated minutes, Volta Nova pulls from the puppet strings of a myriad of genres to deliver a sound as distinctive as it is familiar. Words alone could never express the innovation encased in Out Where the West Begins that draws you in with its impassioned gravitas.

Out Where the West Begins is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast