Many fans of stoner rock insist that Queens of the Stone Age’s Rated R (2000) and Kyuss’ Blues for the Red Sun (1992) mark the high point of the genre. But there’s another SoCal desert band that has been quietly (in terms of press, loudly in terms of amplifier volume) releasing album after album of downtuned, mightier-than-prehistoric-sandstone-formation riffs that make you want to reach for a bong or maybe pack blotter acid for a road trip into dune-swept highways.
I can certainly vouch for the roadworthiness (though not the psychedelic qualities) of Fu Manchu’s most recent album, last year’s senses-shattering Signs of Infinite Power. I blasted it all the way to and from Valley of Fire State Park, and never tired of experiencing the massive, boulder-crushing “Gargantuan March” and the dwarf star-smashing “Bionic Astronautics.” It doesn’t get any heavier than that. Catch the band’s Sept. 17 show at Cheyenne Saloon. The bill includes Savannah, Ga.’s crusty sludge-metal trio Black Tusk (whose Taste the Sin album, released by Relapse Records in May, is also incredible) and Vegas thrash-punk act Life’s Torment (featuring pro comics artist and local hard-core vet Vic Moya on drums). This show is going to kill my eardrums, but I don’t care. Eardrums are made for killing!
On a more indie-rock note, you’ll need to save some hearing for two competing Soundscraper’s-boner-is-showing-through-his-skinny-jeans shows. On Sept. 22, you must choose between The Pearl (Phoenix and Neon Indian) and House of Blues (Dom, Ratatat and Bobby Birdman). I realize my music-loving peers will likely opt for the Phoenix show. But the French synth-poppers are a tad too fey for my taste, but the brilliant Neon Indian has my sonic taste buds salivating.
Besides, I think Dom and Ratatat released the superior albums this year. Worcester, Mass.’s pop-rock quartet Dom’s Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP (released earlier this summer) is one of the best things I’ve ever heard, especially the absurdly catchy “Living in America,” which corporations such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola should be scrambling to license for ads. Too bad they’re not that cool.
But you clearly are, fellow Soundscrapers. And hey, if you happen to be at House of Blues on Wednesday night, come say hello. I’ll be the guy wearing a Hugo Boss suit and dancing rather insanely during the Dom set. On second thought, you may want to keep your distance.