Julien Méret: lead guitar, vocals
Jessy Ensenat: drums
Nicolas Baud: rythm guitar, keyboard, background vocals
Vincent Melay: bass
Recorded & mixed by Raphaël Cartellier at Studio Cartellier, France.
Assisted by Romain Gayral.
Mastered by Christopher Goosman at Baseline Studio - Ann Arbor, MI.
Artwork & layout by Arrache-toi un oeil.
Photography by Anne-Laure Etienne.
Lyrics by Julien Méret.
All songs written by The Socks.
Published by Small Stone Records (ASCAP)
One of Small Stone’s newest members The Socks released their Small Stone self-titled debut on March 18, 2014. That's right folks, “The Socks”. As I read in an early review, and agree to an extent, The Socks isn't the most enticing band name. Or you can look at it as it is in fact the MOST questionably genius band name? Who knows, it screams for sarcastic comparisons and puns but the main thing is they are on a trusted label and the music rhymes with socks (it ROCKS).
First off, we can ignore it but how about that cover artwork? What the fuck is that? We can't really let it go. It really stares you down. I see beaks and feathers, roots and leaves, and those goddamn colors are magnificent. The cover art is a fantastic display that overcomes the mediocre title to say the least.
The Socks represent a New Wave of Retro Heavy Metal. That's right, why don't we just start it now? NWORHM? Maybe it's already out there, maybe we can just leave it at a joke? But there are enough bands out there successfully producing that throwback sound while utilizing the modern day tools that increase the flavor to warrant some kind of cult tag. The Socks are no joke; the record possesses 70's inspired hooks laced with the almighty organ, and vocals that beg for attention.
One can't help but make comparisons to NWORHM giants Graveyard and late era Witchcraft pop with the overall tone and style. Adding a bit of flair to the attire The Socks combine not only the flooded retro sensibility but craft a trippy, yet completely competent and seriously invigorating display of rock and roll. Chalk full of not only guitar solos galore, but bits of bluesy fuzz-o-rama. Hints of psychedelia add warmth and comfort, not unlike a great pair of socks…
The album is a full course meal by all means. Guitars, bass, drums, organ, and superb vocals combine in harmony throughout each and every track. At this stage it's hard to tell whom the Small Stone band of the year is (Well I voted JIRM already), but The Socks are in the running. Either way you look at it The Socks will..... wait for it...... KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF!!!!
- The Huntsman
A group of four French guys calling themselves The Socks, doesn’t exactly scream “killer heavy metal” but this debut full-length is a pleasant surprise to say the very least. The Socks are part of an exciting scene of globe-spanning bands who’ve come up in recent years sounding heavily indebted to the early days of hard rock and heavy metal. Like the other top bands of this new movement (my faves are Kadavar and Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats), The Socks steadfastly ignore just about everything from the last 35 years and play metal like it was in the beginning, simply the next step in a natural evolutionary process that fused together elements from garage rock, psychedelia, and progressive rock to make something evil, aggressive and new. Sure, sticking to the original formula comes with its downside, like dopey lyrics about dragons and evil gypsies and such, but those eye-rolling moments are made digestible by the band’s heightened musical abilities. Like their heroes Deep Purple Led Zeppelin and (especially) Black Sabbath these guys can actually swing, something of a lost art-form among heavy bands. There are some slow doomy moments, some hazy psychedelic moments, and even some doomy psychedelic moments like “Lords Of Illusion” but for the most part they just rear back and “go for it” with aplomb and pretty high success rate. Nowhere do they go for it harder than “Some Kind Of Sorcery”, in which the band goes from zero-to-60 in less than one second and continues to trample you like a herd of runaway elephants for the next four minutes. It’s the album’s greatest achievement and one of the best songs I’ve heard so far this year.
Retro Rock is back with a vengeance and since I’m a sucker for it, I’m really digging a few of the bands I’ve discovered in recent times playing this style. THE SOCKS deliver the goods on their self-titled release and remind me of one of my favorite bands from yesteryear, BLUE CHEER! I also hear common elements with some other “modern” Retro bands such as C’MON, PRIDE TIGER and HORISONT, but hear enough uniqueness in their sound to keep this disc in my regular rotation for a long time to come.
I definitely picked up on the vibe that these guys have developed their sound by playing a lot of live shows in a short period of time and hearing such killer tracks as “Electric War”, “New Kings” and “We Live” make me wish this band had some upcoming shows in the Northeast USA. After reading all about THE SOCKS, they seem very passionate to their craft and I’m sure it will be just a matter of time before they are traveling from their native France to play some killer shows on US soil.
If you’re burned out on the new age ‘Razor Rock” most new bands are peddling these days, I highly encourage you to check out THE SOCKS. They deliver some serious, no-nonsense Rock music and are destined to become more well known in the coming months of 2014.
- Excellent 8/10
- Joe Paciolla
French-dressing for the feet.
The 'retro rock revival' has been a trend of late. Such bands are usually led by blokes in flares who take cues from classic rock a la Led Zep, and doomy blues, Sabbath-style. Bands like Graveyard led the charge, and now Frenchmen The Socks are joining in. The songs on their debut blend fast-paced funky riffs with distorted, fuzzy vocals and groovy psychedelia, all delivered with a surge of urgency. They rarely slow it down: they're all about the boogie. With this sub-genre now reaching saturation point, it's easy to accuse them of being too late to the retro rock party. Thankfully, there's no better way to shake off such feelings than with a shimmy to their swaggering rock'n'roll.
- Hannah May Kilroy
During these weeks the American label Small Stone Recordings , known for supporting many bands stoner today, is in full swing since many releases leading during these weeks. Some of them very interesting.
The French band The Socks debuts this so flawlessly with their first studio album. Although the name of the band is not the most attractive, if it is his real musical punch. These French had already made an EP in 2010, a second fell short two years later and would own label Detroit who would fix your eyes on these four French guys. This is your first contact with long-term work in the studio and backed by a record of more cache.
Ambiance and influenced by all the bands retro 70s, this new formation neighbor calls the name of the spirit of many illustrious as Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple . All a colorful rainbow full of the best psych rock .
The group consists of Meret Julien and Nicolas Baud to micro and guitars, Nicolas even assists in organ function. These two musicians join them bassist Vincent Melay and drummer Jessy Ensenat . Socks The master responds to the question how many were made when a style like this a few years ago, it seemed he was not going anywhere. Another reason more weight to the European music scene.
The work was recorded entirely in its analogue. Within the same will find that perfect balance between sound nods to the desert with these psychedelic and space melodies. The vocal duet between Meret and Baud delivering outstanding performances one after another. The band runs seamlessly into those higher tones and energetic, while the subtle moments of the album, leave you with a real feeling as if you'll be just floating in space.
Most such bands, they put much emphasis on this dynamic that inhabits his music. In the instrumental and vocal, many reaching the highest level of power, the good here is that The Socks , die with your boots on, and give it that extra touch that elevates the quality of the disc. Are you aware that doing this, the listener will applaud this total commitment from them and deepen much more at work, paying more attention to the highlights of the job.
From the cover and the disc starts abducirte the rock retro how fashion is becoming in many youth projects so promising, now has a new chapter to tell. The French were born for this album, everything a vintage show for the best and most influential rock styles.
The Socks longer part of that commune hippie of heavy metal formed in the 70s. Others producers that classic style that increases even more flavor to that eventually get to label it a cult band. Buenos hooks inspired by all past bands, the almighty omnipresent organ, and those voices demanding attention.
"Some Kind Of Sorcery" , issue ahead of the French, is the best advertising you can have this band. Huge cannon at breakneck speed, the riffs you shake so, that although you hear ten times know little. I advance that we are facing one of the songs of the year. Another improvement I had was "Gypsy Lady" , the intrusion of Nicolas Baud organ is superb here, escorted by a Vincent Melay ebullient. Court memorable for the band as catchy as addictive.
And speaking of memorable songs, we could say that much of the album, but go with other than me especially I liked it. "New Kings" is one of the most melodic themes, spectacular disco composer Julien Meret in these slower parts of the song and subsequent taps, then eject the band at a breakneck pace. "Electric War" shows about The Socks more ambitious than ever, the technical part of the band shines on this cut, with special performance from your battery Jessy Ensenat . "The Last Dragon" is the surprise ending that keeps the band. Exceptional theme for a final drive most blues, where the Gauls are unmarked with a display showing all the instrumental power they have.
Very complete disk to another young talent that adds to the retro scene European. Is the best guarantee that has this working? The stamp edits. I already said earlier, the American label, not only has a lot of work in the first half of the year, but the work brings is really good. The Socks is a faithful proof, the quartet Lyon billed an enviable record and that as a good book, and gaining weight will improve as time goes on.
- Rating: 8.3
- Ruben Herrera
Socks aren't normally associated with rock, or anything at all for that matter, which is why it is such a perfect name for a band who don't really fit in anywhere either. This French quartet are psychedelic, but focused to a laser point and prone to unexpected detonations; they are hard rockers, but with a manic energy that sneers at the easy routes of Sabbathian rehashes and retro chic; their gravelly, basstacular songs keep a loose and louche vibe, and yet there's a dangerous tension flowing treacherously under the surface. They stand at the junction of blues, rock and doom, and the pile-up they create is impossible to tear your eyes, or ears, from.
- David Bowes
The Socks are a new French band on the awesome Small Stone label. The band is really rocking out with a 70’s vibe for sure. They are a four piece band that have heard a lot of the current crop of Swedish bands like Graveyard, Witchcraft, Horisont and others, but they throw in their own twist here and there. The album starts off slow and building with Lords of Illusion. This one starts to build up with the rhythm guitar player Nicklas also adding some keyboards. Julien takes care of the lead guitar, lead vocals and can sound exactly like Eric Wagner of Trouble! This track really rocks out at the end. Some Kind of Sorcery sounds like they stole it from Graveyard. A high energy and passionate track but almost a cover song. Next to the Light slows things down and shows the strong side of this band, with great dynamics of guitar and keyboards and passionate singing. New Kings is back to the Graveyard boogie and vocal style with a hard hitting riff mixed with slower parts. Holy Sons is a great song and one of their most original with a heavy riff combined with the organ in a really effective way. Julien plays a very passionate solo and this is the most jammed out track on the record. Electric War goes back to the uptempo Graveyard style that they emulate so well. The mid section is a bit more doomy like Trouble. Nice double tracked wah solo as well. Gypsy Lady has a cool footstomping groove with a nice organ line that drives the track to start and another one of their more original sounding tracks. WE LIVE (not the Electric Wizard song!) is driven by some cool bass lines and aggression which comes and goes. The CD ends with another very Graveyard inspired track called The Last Dragon. Almost a cover song, it is so close to the Graveyard sound and feel. Anyway, despite them borrowing a few too many ideas from Graveyard, this is a solid record. This is a record, like most, that sound best when cranked up really LOUD… I hope to catch these guys live soon...
- Scott aka. Dr. Space
Heavy wicker-rock! Classic heavy vibes from France for those that like it earthy and old school!
Was there something in the water in the '70s that increased hair growth in young men? And also gave them a pre-disposition towards making groove-propelled heavy rock? If so that water is in plentiful supply in Lyon, France. The Socks are a four-piece rock band from said city, whose music worships the Holy Trinity of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
With one foot in the guitar shop buying overdrive pedals and vintage amps, and the other on the dense forest floor fighting off dragons and saving maidens this is classic heavy rock, with lyrics that have a mystical, mythical bent. Magik, dragons, sorcery and all that arcane malarkey. And why not? It sure as hell beats the real world don't it! This album has got that post hippie era feel, where rock had lost any notion of naïvety and became heavier, infused with a driving, dark energy.
The album's cover features a beaked mask made up of bark and leaves. There's a real forest undergrowth, pagan feel to it all, helped in no small part by the mushroom brown hues. It's art that hints at all things folkloric. Similarly the music has that earthy, organic feel. Like a more metallic version of Wolf People, this is music that goes against the grain of modern society and searches for truth and beauty in a sound that may hark back to previous eras but resonates with a truth and beauty that remains eternal.
OK, it won't be everyone's cup of nettle tea, and no amount of electric sorcery will turn mods into rockers after all. But for anyone who feels they were born a few decades too late, or is looking for something to remind them of rock's golden years this is just the thing. Wah-wah guitar solos, paint-stripping vocals, and a band that understands how to play heavy. A fine full-length debut from The Socks and a fitting addition to the Small Stone Records catalogue.
- Duncan Fletcher
Ironically hailing from the land of delicacy (France), the unrefined band The Socks may initially convey the impression of pouncing on a recent trend of pillaging the vintage 70’s sound. Though far from a musical cosplay, The Socks implement their own spice blend of doom rock influences in the LSD laced gumbo. When the first track “Lords of Illusion” from their self-titled release begins with callous bass thumps (Vincent Melay), murky visions of Sabbath and Deep Purple emerge. Julien Meret’s (lead vocals and guitar) bellows in gargled Ozzy fashion as each vivacious guitar solo segments the barren shadows. A few jabs of keyboards from Nicolas Baud livens up the already vibrant atmosphere to the song’s climatic end. From the beginning track you can comprehend what sets The Socks apart from its competition is not a radical influx of creativity but their dexterous execution of the seasoned formula.
Meret’s grunts trigger the start of “Some Kind of Sorcery” as the rhythmic upheaval by drummer Jessy Ensenat channels the frantic yet precise jam. The Socks love a good breakdown as the song melds into an acid groove as a singular sludgy guitar riff laments under a sheath of haunting keyboard to solidify the track’s altered state. “New Kings” begins as a driving, frenzied rhythm but intermittently transcends into multiple prospective psychedelic breakdowns accompanied by stinging bass and effect laden guitar solos. The final track “The Last Dragon” and its pulsing chord structure depicts The Socks’ unique rendition of pseudo stoner blues. Baud’s eerie backdrop of keyboard sprawls takes prominence that gives this judgment day jam a hint of introspective romanticism.
While not a stunner track by track, The Socks’ self titled record is an inspired effort and a noteworthy release in a very ambitious nostalgic genre. The production values are on point, effectively highlighting each vital instrument within the surreal abyss, which only compliments the well crafted songwriting on display. The Detroit based Small Stone Records took on all the risk with choosing a foreign band like The Socks in a daunting domestic market; though upon hearing this record, it seems like their selectiveness may reward them after all.
- Cody Jones
Every once in a while we come across album where not only can we not stop listening to it on a constant basis, but we use so many superlatives to describe it to people that we actually run out of them. This debut release from France's The Socks is one such album. The album is loud, garage-y, good time rock and roll in its finest form. The album doesn't start off with a guns a-blazing though, instead they lead off with the chanting march of "Lords of Illusion". The song builds up the anticipation for the rest of the album to come, serving as an intro song of sorts to the rocking "concert" that begins shortly. "Some Kind of Sorcery" is the album's first single and right up there with one of its best songs. The song slams hard behind the sinister, yet powerful vocals of Julien Meret. Things slows down a bit for the catchy chorus which shows off the band's great harmonization skills. Speaking of harmonies, the AIC-esque start of "Next to the Light" has a dark, grungy feel to it. The use of the organ just adds to the slightly eerie experience. Fans of "Radar Love" will appreciate that same locomotive drum beat and groove starting off "New Kings". The groove slows down into a sludgy pocket showcasing some great vocals. Rounding out this fantastic track is an electrifying solo. The slow and trudging "Holy Sons" builds and builds until it becomes a huge full-fledged anthemic rocker. "Electric War" may be the heaviest track on the album mixing classic Sabbath riffage with the classic metal sound of Early Man. Another nominee for the disc's top song is the retro sounding "Gypsy Lady" which at the same time sounds like The Doors and Elf, possibly due to the liberal use of the organ in a hard rock boogie tune. "We Live" sounds right at home against some of the best of AIC and Soundgarden, delivering that heavy fuzzed out "Seattle Sound" like pros. The disc's closing track is "The Last Dragon" which starts off with a fierce riff before settling into a slower bluesy groove. There is a certain doom aspect to it, which recalls Pentagram/Witchcraft. This entire disc is so ridiculously good, it's already a nominee for 2014's album of the year in our book. Not only are there no songs to skip over on this disc, but every song is incredible and needs to be played at maximum volume. We can't wait to see what's next for this band.
- Slades and Nikki
The Socks' debut release for the mighty Small Stone label has been keenly anticipated for several months now. The band, from Lyon, have made considerable waves with their two EPs to date, hinting at a rise towards becoming the latest powerhouse of the European retro-doom scene, and as such the most exciting release due from the label in years.
The Socks practice a stoner rock sound meeting with that classic heavy rock and doom rhythym that has risen to prominence over the last five years. They do it superbly well too, and the album is testament to that. There is a lingering issue with this self titled release though, one which I'll address early, and that is it's familiarity with the leaders of the retro wave, Graveyard. My initial run through of the album, the one where you don't necessarily take everything in but gain first impressions on a general feel, recalled the Swedes on numerous occasions. Second track Some Kind of Sorcery is straight up Hisingen Blues worship, and it is evident elsewhere. It is good, great in fact, there is no doubt, but when it's so closely aligned it is impossible not to notice, nor to draw attention to it within review.
Further run throughs are kinder in this regard, as The Socks' own identity reveals itself, giving it more credibility. There is some cracking music here, a rewarding experience. New Kings is brilliant, and the organ on Lord of Illusion raises the bar, the track ending in boisterous fashion just when you think it's heading down a cul de sac. We Live creates a raw, bassy Black Sabbath picture, complete with Ozzy-esque vocals. While the micro-genre is filling fast, this is the most satisfying output of the calendar year to date, easily eclipsing The Vintage Caravan's much touted Voyage.
The album as a whole is very strong, an excellent release that for all my curmudgeonliness about mimicry will get more plays on my stereo this year than most offbeat oddball originators I come across. The Socks' proximity to other acts can't be denied, and it is a negative mark against them, but that said, if Kadavar, Mountain Witch and, yes, Graveyard et al have burned your incense sticks over the last few years, then The Socks is pretty much essential.
These Socks don’t stink! The French quartet brews a blend of pungent, throwback heavy psych on their Small Stone debut. Kicking off with “Lords of Illusion,” The Socks use their illusion to channel Hendrix, Purple and Sabbath throughout this nine-track, 44-minute effort.
There are also shades of modern bands like Monster Truck on the organ-accented opener, while “Some Kind of Sorcery” channels the likes of Red Fang and The Sword, all while putting their own spin on things. “New Kings” brings us some up-tempo grooves before bringing things all the way down to Doomsville; ditto “Holy Sons” and its gloomy intro, though it mellows out somewhat from there. In any case, they certainly don’t bang out the same song for three-quarters of an hour…
Hell, the epic flourishes of 6+ minute album-closer “The Last Dragon” even have a bit of a power-metal thing going on. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (I guess).
- Gruesome Greg
French rockers The Socks manage to mix what seems at first like it should be a bigger, louder sound, but that eventually finds itself in a garage rock realm that ultimately adds a vintage rock and roll element that sets them apart. Their newest self-titled release features intense jams (“Next to the Light”) with Zeppelin-level spitfire (“Some Kind of Sorcery”), leaving you with your head spinning in bleary delight. A bit of hard rock with a bit of 70’s rock and roll is the recipe for The Socks’ song crafting. Check out “Electric War” and “Gypsy Lady” for a taste of their unselfconscious brand of ass-kickery.
As I listen to the first song, Lords Of Illusion on their self-titled album, The Socks, I feel like I’m listening to a band made up of Primus and Black Sabbath. Not a bad combination let alone first impression if you ask me. This is mainly only for the first song where you hear that weird introduction that slowly creeps up on you until the whole band explodes with energy and power to start the album off. As I continue to listen to this band from France, all I can picture is being in a smokey intimate venue, with the bright purple, pink and blue lights beaming on the faces of these four musicians. Just by listening to these guys, you can automatically tell they love what they do and aren’t afraid to show it.
The Socks music isn’t anything like their boring band name. Their music is loud, furious and nothing for your grandmother’s ears. I especially like lead singer, Julien’s voice because he has that loud and raspy Ozzy Osbourne meets Ken Casey sound to him. As a fan of seventies music, I enjoy this band because the type of sound and style they have. I am nodding my head throughout the whole album and realize this is what music is all about. Being able to jam, have fun and let loose. The nine tracks that complete this album are upbeat with a psychedelic twist. When you’re a rock and roll fan you’re not caring about how many “dollar bills” Kanye has made or Taylor Swift’s latest breakup, you’re focusing on how hard that drummer is beating on his set or how the rest of the members are collaborating together.
The Socks have something to their music where they are able to grab your attention and keep you wanting more. The Last Dragon, which ends the album tones everything down a little bit…if that’s even possible for this band? A more laid-back and introspective sound to cool things off. Overall, I’d rate these guys like the volume of their music…high. I realized this band isn’t for everyone, but I also realized rock and roll isn’t dead. In my opinion, music shall live on in the purest form. Keeping it real, loud and hard!
The Socks have an old-school 70s vibe that never lets up on their debut full-length self-titled release. They’re a psychedelic rock/proto-metal band from Lyon, France that treads the line between heavy metal and blues rock. Julien Méret and Nicolaus Baud play rockin’ bluesy chugs analogous to hyped-up Iommi doom riffs. Baud’s keyboard adds a nice retro feel along with those customary phaser effects on guitar. The Socks is total LSD-infected lack of sensibility in an awesomely surreal vibe that’s not at all tainted by being produced in the 2010s; think of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats with more fuck-all attitude. The lyrics are all cabalistic tales of magic and sorcery – you know, proto-metal. Méret and Baud share vocal duties that fuse to make a double-tracked Ozzy Osbourne style. It’s so real and so now in a way that isn’t normally touched without sounding overromantic or falsely nostalgic for a bygone era; none of that here, this is straight-up hard-ballin’ that makes no statement other than awesome. Yeah man. This rocks my socks.
- RIYL: Black Sabbath, Wayfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, The Black Explosion, Deep Purple
From France comes The Socks, a 4-piece band who show their love for classic psychedelic hard rock on their full-length self titled debut for Small Stone Records. Remember the days when the organ/guitar freakouts of Deep Purple & Uriah Heep were all the rage, and bruising guitar heavy acts such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Blue Cheer were ripping up the charts? Well, the guys in The Socks might not have been old enough to experience those bands back in the day but they sure have studied their music well. This is blistering stuff, with tunes like the savage "Some Kind of Sorcery" filled with crushing proto-metal/blues riffs and screaming lead guitar solos, and the engaging, catchy "Lords of Illusion" chock full of hooks and tasty organ/guitar interplay. "Next to the Light" features some chilling Mellotron alongside heavy riffs and emotional vocals, while "New Kings" is steeped in massive grooves and scorching guitar licks. "Holy Sons" has an epic feel thanks to layers of vocals and some soaring fuzz soaked guitar riffs, and the frantic "Electric War" recalls In Rock era Deep Purple with its inventive riffs and mighty Hammond organ. Quite possibly the best song on the album. "Gypsy Lady" is slightly funky and dripping with lovely Hammond, "We Live" slows things down to an almost Black Sabbath inspired doom laden crawl, and closer "The Last Dragon" crushes with majestic proto-metal delight, as smoky organ and a never ending supply of creative guitar riffs support some powerful vocal melodies.
This is an excellent debut, and without a doubt a band we are going to be hearing quite a bit from in the future.
- Pete Pardo
Miss those summer road trip days? Of course you do. It’s March. Weather’s an unpredictable bitch and the likelihood of something cool happening is pretty much nil. Well, France-based The Socks are an unlikely candidate to warm up your otherwise shitty spring. Now, you’re probably thinking: France + good ‘ol hard rock = yeah right. Turns out the Lyonnaise toe-tappers aren’t weirdos or bent on throwing “haute rocke” down their noses to the vox populi. Nope. They’re just straight-up, no-frills, jean-jacketed, rubber-burning’ rockers.
Says the band: “The sound and identity of the band have been shaped through the years to become this psychedelic hard rock, meant to be played live. We’ve recorded all together in a room with analog tapes to focus on the energy and to make it sound real and raw. Now it’s time to take it with us on the road and share it with everyone!”
Recorded and mixed by Raphaël Cartellier and mastered by Christopher Goosman (Early Man, Southern Gentlemen, Sasquatch, Dixie Witch, et al.) at Baseline Studio in Ann Arbor, fucking Michigan, The Socks don’t take this hard rock thing lightly. How do we know so much? We have The Socks’ debut album ready via the digital wonderland of Soundcloud. Windows down, volume up, and cares be not had by anyone.
- Chris D.
It can’t have escaped your notice that retro, 70’s flavoured rock is very much de rigueur right now and the influx of bands aping the vintage tones of bands such as Deep Purple, Budgie, and Sabbath…etc is almost overwhelming. It was only a matter of time before Small Stone Records found their own contribution to the scene. Did they go to Scandinavia to find their band? An area so overpopulated with such bands that there is now a national shortage of patchouli and velvet!!! No, Small Stone went to the unlikely source of Lyon in France…and it’s probably just as well for them that they did as French bands have an innate ability to take hold of a current trend and add their own spin.
For the most part The Socks follow many of the “rules of retro”; the guitar sounds seem to be provided courtesy of dusty old, pawn shop amps, the riffs have the requisite level of blues and jazz chops apropos of the era and the production is suitably reverb ridden as to give it that live feel. Where The Socks fare better than most of their contemporaries is the energy with which they present their songs. Lead guitarist and vocalist Julien Meret possesses a voice that contains a raw edge and aggression that adds a sense of conviction missing in so many similar bands. Likewise the guys know how to get their heads down and rock the fuck out when the need arises…and the need seems to arise fairly frequently it would seem. Songs such as ‘Some Kind Of Sorcery’ and ‘New Kings’ pelt along with a frantic rush that raises the heartbeat and gets a sweat going.
Nicholas Baud on rhythm guitar, backing vocals and keyboards is also a key player here. There is no danger of the band sounding thin as he fleshes out the tone with liberal doses of vintage organ, as on the epic intro to ‘Holy Sons’, and adds meat to the bones with his guitar during the solos.
This is by no means a perfect release. It does fall prey to a lot of the pitfalls of many bands of this ilk by simply drawing on too narrow a pool of influence that is currently also being plundered by every other band out there and their grandmas, which throws them into a melting pot in which the competition for recognition is fierce. The Socks, however, do possess a certain je ne sais quoi that could see them rise to the top of the cauldron and catch attention. Their relentless energy, sense of dynamic and groove as well as some interesting song writing touches will hopefully give them an edge over their peers and see them do battle with the Scandinavian overlords!!!
- Ollie Stygall
The Socks are yet another gem unearthed by the trusty Small Stone Records, and a perfect fit for a roster which has all the semblance of the Woodstock '69 line-up; one of those bands who, with one single, have the ability to chisel their name into your cerebrum and have you sweating like a rapist with anticipation. Their self-titled debut album is one I've been looking forward to ever since stumbling over the explosive "Some Kind of Sorcery" video single a few months ago, not least by virtue of Anders Danielsen of the Magnificent Music promotion agency's assurances that these Lyon, France born bandits were one of the bands he was most excited about in 2014. And, following intensive listening this pas week, it isn't difficult to fathom why.
Its opening track "Lords of Illusion" delivers a fine introduction to the band, exposing both their knack for busting out a slick rock'n'roll groove and their taste for embarking on mind warping psychedelic odysseys. It marches in, swells, and then collapses into a feverish jam midway; the rust of days gone by seeping in from every creak and crack in the fuzzy 70's style of production. It could almost be considered blasphemous to not mention Graveyard in the context of this style today, but truly, while there is a certain degree of inspiration drawn from the "Hisingen Blues"-era of the band, there are forces much more powerful and far-reaching at play here, the influence of the immortal trio Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin & Pink Floyd occupying a sizable portion of the Socks' stylistic palette, not least in the inspired use by rhythm guitarist Nicolas Baud of the Hammond organ.
But despite their overtly worn idols, the Socks have that unique character of managing to elude strong similarities to others of their ilk, or indeed any other bands in general. There is a touch of Witchcraft's Magnus Pelander to the way vocalist/lead guitarist Julien Méret hangs onto his notes, but his gruff, dusty style of singing sounds refreshingly inflamed in a genre where too often melancholic croons are the order of the day. Nowhere is this more pronounced than on the aforementioned off-the-hinges rock'n'roll banger "Some Kind of Sorcery", in which the salvo of high octane drumming that sounds like Jessy Ensenat might fall off his seat from sheer enthusiasm, not to mention the seething, string-wrenching urgency with which Méret and Baud strike their chords, only serve to heighten the ferocity of the lead axeman's vocal delivery. Mind you, this is no dime-a-dozen metal vocalist; it's all in the power and energy, much in the vein of Graveyard's Joakim Nilsson at his most climactic moments - but rawer, and packing more testosterone.
As such, there is no denying that despite the vinyl era production, the Socks don't exactly lack muscle. It's just that those muscles are flexed without cranking up the low end, resulting in a sound that falls short of the weight of stoner rock, but which isn't buried so deep in retrospect it's lost all its punch. This is one of the distinctive characteristics that the Socks may boast of: sounding both hard-hitting and vintage simultaneously. Another is that they refuse to be just one thing. "Next to the Light", for instance, begins in a grungy, downcast fashion that has me thinking of Alice in Chains, before N. Baud rolls out a haunting cascade of Gothic melody with the organ midway, transitioning the song into its more upbeat second half. "New Kings" then shows glimpses of Witchcraft-esque balladry, and "Holy Sons" in its wake sends us swirling into space, with Méret flushing his vocals with reverb before Ensenat, N. Baud and his bassist brother Vincent Baud unleash a storm of hypnotic psychedelia.
There's an element of surprise to this thing that keeps me on my toes throughout, the band exploring the full variety of their inspirations not just on a song-to-song basis, but also within the songs themselves. The Socks sound like they were born for this, their knack for songwriting purpose built for embracing all things dusty and worn. That is why the frenetic to-and-fro transitioning between late 60's/early 70's psych, groovy classic rock, doom and prog in tracks like "Gypsy Lady" and the phenomenal "Last Dragon" never sounds outrageous. Much and more has been said of late of the heritage rock movement's peaking and present decline, but bands like the Socks are there to remind us that the movement isn't ready for burial quite yet. What you have in this self-titled LP is an album that, in my humble opinion, belongs among the absolute elite of this genre.
Download: Some Kind of Sorcery, Next to the Light, Holy Sons, The Last Dragon
For the fans of: Black Rainbows, Graveyard, Led Zeppelin, Witchcraft
Lords of Illusion, the first song on the first full length album from The Socks, starts off with the playful bounce of Primus but slides into a darker, moodier place. This disc is full of tunes that have all the fire of a protest movement and encourage us to pierce the gloom in order to witness the beauty that resides within. Truly a musical journey, this self titled masterpiece combines all the elements of 70’s rock and sculpts them into something new yet it still makes us nostalgic for the old days when our hair was longer, our waistlines were slimmer and a good day was not measured by the number of bills we were able to pay. I have yet to find a band on Small Stone’s list of artists that I haven’t enjoyed and The Socks are definitely not going to break my lucky streak.
- Jim Dodge
So ya, Small Stone Records is on a rampage in 2014. If you haven’t heard of Small Stone, you probably live under a large one. I'd challenge any fan of stoner metal to say they aren't one of the most consistent labels in the genre. One of their newest members ‘The Socks’ are about to release their Small Stone self-titled debut on March 18, 2014. That's right folks, ‘The Socks’. As I read in an early review, and agree to an extent, The Socks isn't the most enticing band name. Or you can look at it as being the MOST questionably genius band name? Who knows, it screams for sarcastic comparisons and puns but the main thing is they are on a trusted label and the music rhymes with socks (it ROCKS).
First off, we can't ignore it but how about that cover artwork? What the fuck is that? We can't really let it go. It really stares you down. I see beaks and feathers, roots and leaves, and those goddamn colors are magnificent. The cover art is a fantastic display that overcomes the mediocre title to say the least.
The Socks represent a New Wave of Retro Heavy Metal. That's right why don't we just start it now, NWORHM? Maybe it's already out there, maybe we can just leave it at a joke? But there's enough bands out there successfully producing that throwback sound but utilizing the modern day tools to increase the flavor to warrant some kind of cult tag. The Socks are no joke; the record possesses 70's inspired hooks laced with the almighty organ, and vocals that beg for attention.
One can't help but make comparisons to NWORHM giants Graveyard and late era Witchcraft pop with the overall tone and style. Adding a bit of flair to the attire The Socks combine not only the flooded retro sensibility but craft a trippy, yet completely competent and seriously invigorating display of rock and roll. Chock full not only of guitar solos galore, but bits of bluesy fuzz-o-rama and hints of psychedelia, which add warmth and comfort, not unlike a great pair of socks…
The album is a full course meal by all means. Guitars, bass, drums, organ, and superb vocals combine in harmony throughout each and every track. At this stage it's hard to tell who the Small Stone band of the year is, but The Socks are in the running. I personally have to say the only Small Stone album ahead of The Socks currently is Dwellers who come out in May. Either way you look at it, The Socks will..... wait for it...... KNOCK YOU SOCKS OFF!!!!
You can stream the song Some Kind of Sorcery for a taste, and pre-order the album from bandcamp link below. Keep in mind physical orders are arriving well before release date on the bandcamp site.
Words by : Bucky Brown
We should all know by now where metal gets it’s lineage from. The well-documented tales of the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, Rainbow and a host of others are aplenty. But the tales of those who carry the proto-metal, psych rock torch are still being written year by year. One band sure to write their own chapter in this hopefully never-ending musical tome is France’s The Socks.
The fairly new band with the ever so curious moniker has re-exploded onto the stoner rock scene with a self-titled debut album that’s sure to make more than a few people think they’ve uncovered some long, lost gem from the early 70′s or perhaps time traveled altogether. In 2010 The Socks released their debut EP to much acclaim, but to be frank, as good as that EP was, it was also lacking a certain unexplainable element that would separate them from the pack. In the corresponding years since, they’ve seemed to discover the magical formula for making music that will simply embarrass the pretenders in a scene that’s unfortunately been chock full of them for quite awhile now.
The album opens with the trippy “Lord of Illusion” with it’s thumping rhythm and surreal vocal elements that empty into a full blown riff machine that powers forward through eight more tracks of similar ilk. Tracks like “Some Kind Of Sorcery” and “New Kings” shows off their penchant for heavy blues wares that made the aforementioned Sabbath and Deep Purple such important forefathers of our current metal state. Meanwhile tracks like the epic “Holy Sons” cast a strong spotlight on the bands ability to write vivid, mind-altering, psychedelic rock that expands the chromatic aesthetics of a long lost age where acid was a musical generation’s version of the morning cup of coffee.
The stoner rock scene saw a huge explosion of talent in the 1990′s led by bands such as Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Nebula. Unfortunately, like all scenes, an explosion in popularity would lead to a glut of sub par talent getting scooped up by every label imaginable trying to find the ‘next big band’. Over the last few years thought there has been a resurgence of quality stoner rock popping up in some unexpected places. The Socks are at the top of that list of a new wave of stoner rock bands that are more focused on writing robust and powerful music than worrying whether or not commercial rock radio is paying attention to them. If this album is any indication then you should be expecting to hear a lot more from The Socks. That’s a good thing.
- Chip McCabe
Psych rock never really went anywhere, but it seems like over the past few years the number of bands in the genre that have gotten some promotional push from record labels has increased significantly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as there are plenty of acts out there able to capture the 60s and 70s retro vibe while adding their own spin on things. One of the latest to do so is France’s The Socks, who will be releasing their self-titled debut full length via Small Stone Recordings. Like many of their peers, these guys have gone for a fully analog recording and balance edgy rock grooves with spaced out psychedelic melodies, but do they have what it takes to stand out?
Having gone through the album plenty of times now, the answer to that question seems to be kind of. What’s clear from the first listen is that the instrumentalists are very capable and have good chemistry together, as each of the elements flows together naturally and are performed with precision. The rawer production values also work in The Socks’ favor, as they give the recording that crunchiness that was common throughout 60s/70s rock while also allowing the keyboard and guitar melodies some breathing room. With this sound in place, the instrumentalists move between traditional rock grooves and sprawling psychedelic arrangements that stretch things out a bit and create a hazy atmosphere. There are moments where the material comes into its own and blends its fuzzed out guitar and room filling keyboards in a way that feels different. But at the same time, there are also some songs on this album that came off seeming just a bit too similar to some of the other psych rock bands that I’ve spent a good deal of time listening to in recent months. That’s not to say that The Socks appear to be cloning any one particular act, but they don’t always manage to be truly distinguishable, particularly during some of the shorter numbers.
The vocals are performed by two members of the band and they have they deliver a performance that stands out on each song. What works really well is the way that The Socks is able to move between higher pitched, high energy pitches and more subdued ones that seem to hover over the instrumentals like smoke. There’s an emphasis on dynamics that isn’t always present in this generation of psych rock, as sometimes bands like their instrumental work and vocals to crank the energy level up to their maximum level the entire time. But instead of doing that The Socks ramp things up to be in your face when they want to add extra emphasis and scale things back in a way that makes listeners want to dive in further and pay attention to the mellower moments as well.
If you’re a fan of hazy psych rock and retro grooves done well, The Socks’ debut should be an album you will find enjoyable. But I’m not quite sure just yet if they’re a group that listeners will find truly distinguishable from some of the others in the genre in the coming months. With this debut under their belt these guys can still begin to establish themselves though and if they continue to branch out and really try to make this genre their own I think they’ll come back with even better results.
- Chris Dahlberg
Small Stone Records has been expanding their roster of bands as of late. The Socks were one of the bands that were signed last year. At the time. they were only about a year removed from releasing their 2012 EP Bedrock. It was a very good EP that I held in high regard. Now their self titled and Small Stone Records debut is about to be released. This is one that everyone will be talking about for quite awhile. The album is retro rocker at heart. There are elements of proto-metal, psychedelic blues and hard rock infused throughout. This album is a thrill seeker. Fans of Graveyard and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are going to eat this one right up. This is going to be at the top of a lot of year end lists, I guarantee it.
- Bill Goodman
The Socks are from France and play a 70′s-style Stoner Rock.
The album art immediately drew me in, although I must confess that it is slightly marred by what is, for me, a really awful band name. Still, personal taste and all that.
But onto the important stuff – the music. The Socks, (ugh), play good, old-fashioned Rock in a retro style with a liberal dashing of era-appropriate keyboards that add to the feeling of having just stepped out of a time machine. Well almost anyway, as the production has a good modern sound to it. Rather than coming across incongruous though it allows the songs to sound much more alive than if they had gone with a usually-muted 70′s style “authentic” production.
They have songs that are upbeat and joyful, with groove, energy and vigour, while also having songs that are more laid back and introspective. Holy Sons is one of my favourite of this latter type.
The album has a good deal of variety across the 9 tracks, with even some contemporary influences sneaking in occasionally, (Next To The Light contains parts that sound almost Alice In Chains-y, for example).
The singer has a good set of lungs; relaxed and soulful. He makes his mark over well-played and written songs that are both catchy and involving.
This is only their début album but the band display a knowledge and experience of songwriting well beyond what other bands might have acquired by this point.
Despite my reservations about the name; the band acquit themselves nicely and this is a solid album of really enjoyable retro-style Rock. If you’re partial to a bit of this then you can do a lot worse.
The Socks are a band from France that plays a very psychedelic sounding form of stoner rock and this is a review of their self titled 2014 album which was released by Small Stone Recordings.
The album starts out with psychedelic sound effects before adding in a heavy 70's rock sound along with melodic vocals as well as all of the musical instruments having a very powerful sound to them as well as adding in classic rock style solos which also leads to more metal influences being added in.As the album continues it sticks to more of a 70s metal/rock sound while also bringing in grunge and stoner rock elements to update the music for 2014 as well as bringing in 60's psychedelic influences as well as a great amount of fuzzy sounding guitar solos and leads which also leads yp to traces of doom metal when it comes to the heavier sections of their music as well as the singer having a similar sound to the singer of 'Trouble'.
With this album The Socks show they know the roots of 60s and 70s rock very well with their psychedelic elements sounding like the originals while also having the heaviness of doom metal as well as the catchy structures of 90's grunge.
Song lyrics cover dark and metaphysical themes, while the production has a very strong, powerful, heavy and professional sound where you can hear all of the musical instruments that are present on this recording.
In my opinion The Socks are a very great sounding psychedelic rock band with the heaviness of doom metal and if you are a fan of this musical genre, you should check out this album. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Some Kind of Sorcery" "Holy Sons" "Gypsy lady" adn "The last Dragon". 8 out of 10.
There are two ways to approach the self-titled debut from French four-piece The Socks. You can say, “Oh, it’s retro,” and immediately make your comparisons to Kadavar, to Graveyard, etc., and either write it off or dig in as you will based on your opinions on those bands and heavy ’70s devotees in general. Or you can listen to the thing. Life is short, and frankly, either is a valid-enough way to go, but I’ve found the latter to be the more satisfying route. There’s no taking away from the fact that songs like “Some Kind of Sorcery” and “The Last Dragon” have a strong earlier Graveyard influence, but “Next to the Light” goes right to the Sabbathian source to bounce vocalist Julien Méret‘s lead guitar off of “War Pigs,” and throughout the album, on that track, on “Gypsy Lady,” closer “The Last Dragon” and on “Holy Sons,” The Socks distinguish themselves through the keyboard work of rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud, who adds Mellotron and organ sounds to add melodic depth to the fluid rhythms of bassist Vincent Melay and drummer Jessy Ensenat. When they boogie — and they do — there’s plenty familiar about it, and if that were all The Socks had to offer, the album would be almost entirely redundant, but there are more than a few turns between parts, cuts in tempo or launches into speedy shuffle, that serve to showcase The Socks as a dynamic songwriting act in their own right.
Couple that with a production more modern than either of the aforementioned touchstones of the style, and the Lyon foursome seem to be headed somewhere else within the classic heavy framework. In both their speedier material — the rush of “Some Kind of Sorcery,” though met with an impressive slowdown in its middle third, is immediate and indicative of The Socks at their fastest here — and in the more languid grooves of songs like “Holy Sons,” on which Ensenat effectively propels the build with organic-sounding kick, the band is confident, well assured of where they want pieces to go. Structurally traditional, songs have their hooks, but don’t come across as being written solely to get stuck in the audience’s head. “Electric War” finds Méret and Baud working well together on vocals in what sounds like a dynamic that will continue to develop as The Socks progress, but catchy as that track’s chorus is, the more lasting impression is leaves comes from the stomp in its midsection and the ease with which the band plays one rhythm off the other. They’ve been a band for half a decade (if you’re interested in reading their bio, I wrote it), and a grip on time changes like theirs doesn’t develop without considerable stage time, but it still feels like early mastery of pitting slowdowns and speedups against each other — that is, something they brought to the table initially instead of something that evolved over the course of their two prior EPs, 2011′s Side A and 2012′s Bedrock, and the songwriting for the self-titled. Either way, it’s there, and it’s a big part of the album’s appeal.
To that appeal, one must add the overarching flow between the songs. The Socks have obviously had an awareness of vinyl structuring since their first EP — the title is a big clue — and at 43 minutes long, The Socks is still vinyl-ready, but taken in digital or CD form, the nine tracks move remarkably smoothly one to the next. There are a few solid breaks, as between “Gypsy Lady” and the righteously thickened groove of “We Live,” but even there the changes make sense, and earlier in the album, opener “Lords of Illusion” holds its last note to feed right into the vocals that start “Some Kind of Sorcery,” which in turn holds its last note to bring in “Next to the Light,” into “New Kings” and so on. Side B, as it were, is less concerned with that, but more dynamic sonically, with the organ-driven classic heavy rock bounce of “Gypsy Lady” and the more dramatic build of “The Last Dragon” to finish out the album on a particularly cinematic note. The closer’s second half is especially reliant on the keys to fill out the sound, as guitars step back, the bass halts and even the snare roll fades out. With about a minute and a half to go, however, The Socks burst back to life (this is where the Mellotron comes into play) at full volume and give their debut a proper apex that earns its place as the finale. It’s short, obviously, but a suitable end to an album that has moved with striking ease through rhythmic complexities that would boggle many bands, and one that more and more on repeat listens distinguishes The Socks from their contemporaries taking influence both from generations past and present in heavy rock.
- H.p. Taskmaster
I'm not going to lie to you, loyal reader. It's generally a pretty big deal for me when a new release from Small Stone Records shows up in my inbox. Say what you want about the name of this band (it is pretty generic), but this album lived up to the expectations I had as soon as I saw a new album from Small Stone.
The album kicks off with "Lords of Illusion." This is a psychedelic aural feast. The beat will get you nodding your head and the melody will remind you of bands from the early 70s that knew how to throw a little freakout into their rock songs. With about two minutes left in the song, it erupts into a crescendo that pretty much grabs you by the earhole and smacks you around. It's a great attention grabber and an excellent way to kick off the album.
If anything, the opener is followed by a song that has an even more furious energy. The sound is similar to The Blue Van: healthy doses of garage rock and psychedelia. This one also builds to a crescendo that makes you wonder why so many bands waste their time singing about feelings when they could be rocking out like The Socks. And make no mistake: from the first notes to the last, this band rocks out with a sound that's a little Sabbath, a lot garage, and all loud.
Let's get one thing straight. This album is not for the faint of heart...or for those who actually care about the Grammys. This is proof that rock ain't dead, baby! Not by a long shot. And if anyone tells you it is, spring this album on the person. If anyone can listen to this album and still say that rock is dead, that person is a soulless automaton and you should probably notify the Men in Black that you have someone for them to round up.
- Gary Schwind