I was standing on the street in downtown Seattle when I got a call from Small Stone Records Chief, Scott Hamilton. We had just released a re-issue of my band VALIS first record "Champions of Magic" and he wanted to know what my plan was for the future. We started talking about all the great bands that had been around the northwest for the last few years and how not that many people outside of here had the chance to check them out. A thought popped into my head. Well, how about a split CD with one of these bands? Perhaps Mos Generator lead by guitar hero/producer extraordinaire T-Dallas Reed. This would give me the change to finally work with him after all these years of admiring him from a far. Yes that seemed to be a great idea. The as the conversation went on it we thought, what the hell, why include only 2 bands when we could put a bunch on there? At that moment the idea of a mind meld of sorts was created. Perhaps a meld of damaged and twisted northwest moss covered, rain drenched minds could be brought together by myself and T-Dallas. I proceeded to call the guys in Skullbot. At the time a bunch of underage long hairs from the small North Peugeot Sound town of Stanwood. Then T-Dallas got in touch with some of his South Sound friends and long time hard rockers, Golden Pig Electric Blues Band. It was all rounded off when Scott gave me a ring and suggested The Valley. I had just played a show with them recently as it turns out and my mind was melding with his to come to the same conclusion. This CD is just a sample of 5 out of many more great hard rock bands that have been and are creeping around the great Northwest in the first decade of the 21st century.
This release is digital only so you will have to head on over to iTunes or eMusic to get it.
Here I’ve been kicking myself for days trying to come up with some kind of vaguely apt descriptor for what’s going on with Small Stone’s new Northwest Mind Meld release, and it’s right there in the title the whole time. Is it a compilation? Is it a six-way split? Nope, it’s a melding of the minds; a coming together of various acts and outfits linked in one way or another - if nothing else by geography - for a singular rocking purpose. A putting together of the heads, so to speak.
Gathered by none other than VALIS guitarist/vocalist Van Conner, Northwst Mind Meld features not only his band, but other Washington luminaries Mos Generator and Golden Pig Electric Blues Band alongside newcomers like Skullbot, The Valley (a name I can appreciate) and All Time High. Each band gets two tracks divided up over the course of the CD in a mixed order, like a compilation where half the bands didn’t show up and the rest just filled in the time.
One has to wonder about that. For a region so fertile when it comes to creative music - stoner or otherwise - it seems a little strange to only have a half-dozen bands melding their minds. Was this all Conner could find, or was it just a matter of who he thought fit with what the others were doing? In any case, the six present and accounted for each give solid showings, the two VALIS and Mos Generator cuts being particular highlights, as well as Golden Pig Electric Blues Band’s “Pentagram” living up to its name.
Of the newcomers, the first offering from The Valley, “Clear Water,” stuck out as especially well done, and All Time High’s Monster Magnet-type heavy psychedelia on second contribution “Warning Birds” was a welcome change of pace. For both their songs, Skullbot rely on tried and true fuzz and a quick pace to make their presence felt. Only they and The Valley didn’t record their material with Mos Generator guitarist/vocalist T-Dallas Reed, and though the Reed tracks have a clear continuity of sound (with a various artists release of bands in the same genre, that’s just as likely to happen when they don’t share a producer), neither The Valley nor Skullbot are out of place. If anything, the similarities throughout Northwest Mind Meld’s 12 tracks make it sound like they’ve got a scene going out there. Nothing wrong with that.
I suppose it’s true a compilation leaving you wanting more is a good thing, but even more than I want more from these artists, I want to hear what more bands out there are doing. I know that’s about as difficult as following a trail of MySpace friends, but if you’re going to gather groups from your given area, doesn’t it make sense to show as many as possible? There are arguments either way. Good thing Northwest Mind Meld rocks and I don’t have to think too hard about these burning questions.
- H.P. Taskmaster