Brent Hinds and Mastodon, there really is no further introduction needed for rock fans with the leviathans of noise parked firmly in most metal lover’s heads. Little though will probably be known about the side projects from the metallers’ vocalist/guitarist Hinds, but that is about to be remedied with the release of a 2 CD set called “Brent Hinds Presents – Fiend Without A Face + West End Motel”, released via Rocket Science Inc.
Coming from two distinctly different directions the two bands meet on this package as an introduction and a release for the uniquely varied influences, loves and skills of Hinds.
The Fiend Without A Face part of the release is the surf punk rockabilly self-titled debut album which received a limited release in 2000. The tracks were written back in the mid nineties but it has to be said they are brimming with freshness and with a clutch of indie bands dipping their toes into the same lapping waters, the time for Fiend Without A Face to lead the way could be right now. The trio consists of Hinds providing the vocals and magical guitar sounds, fellow Mastodon member Brann Dailor showing his versatility with all types of drum attack, and the bass slapping skills of Steve McPeeks (going under the name of Stiff Penalty). Together they provide 13 simply outstanding and wonderful slices of pure, satisfying, guitar grooving, surf flowing, garage scuzzy instantaneous rock!
‘Calypso’ kicks off the excitement with a masterful and irresistible energy that raises a smile instantly. The track rocks like a moonlit beach party created by the garage punk psychobilly tones of The Cramps, the infectious rock ’n’ roll stomp of Reverend Horton Heat, and the flowing wave sounds of a union between The Bomboras and The Ventures. Stunning is simply the only tag for this track and the whole album. Full of variety, it simply sizzles along with wonderfully hypnotic riffs and hooks, from the brilliantly schizophrenic ‘Cha-Cha’, through the Barbarella meets Lost in Space at the B-52’s lunar shack smoothness of ‘Cosmonaut‘, to the pacing and stalking riffs of ‘Don’t Like’, the songs have a beautiful organic simplicity that stirs the soul.
The mix of instrumentals and vocally flavoured tracks are all sweet pleasures but it has to be said when vocals are employed there is a tasty eccentrically frantic edge to the songs, Hinds voice erupting like a demented Pete Thomas (Pere Ubu) on tracks like the brilliant ‘Green Slime’, brings a dementia that delights.
In contrast the West End Motel offering is a much more laid back affair, its home is the dusty bars of country and emotive blues. Though as a band it found existence again back in the nineties the seven tracks here were written very recently, the quintet from Atlanta self termed as ‘a conglomerate of losers, poets and hobo-sexuals’, lyrically standing up for the underdog in life and love. Hinds makes his guitar ripple with emotionally creative sounds that perfectly matched the lyrical feeling, being more than ably complimented by McPeeks, Mike Shina, Ben Thrower, and the emotive vocals of Tom Cheshire.
There is a nice blend within the tracks of straight country touches and more bluesy green grass tones. The mesmeric dark gypsy polka of ‘I Like It A Lot’ spiced like Nick Cave sings Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, a grainy Pogues like slow burn on ‘She’s On Fire’, and the Johnny Cash styled lament of ‘High Waters‘, bringing a variance to their sound that works wonderfully; ‘…And We Are Here To Entertain You’ the opener is a declaration they more than fulfil.
Brent Hinds Presents… is a real joy that any fan of rock music will get something from, whether in the drunken laid-back but hopeful country emotion of West End Motel or the scorching attack of surfabilly mixed with tinges of garage psycho punk oozing from Fiend Without A Face. There is no head banging involved here but there is just as much pleasing satisfaction and passion that should be checked out.