A few years after someone, somewhere, thought stoner rock was gonna be the next big thing, a younger and hipper-looking contingent came along and decided trucker caps, three-quarter-sleeve baseball jersey shirts, and velvet blacklight posters were pretty cool after all. Some old-schoolers got caught up in this movement — former SLEEP man Matt Pike's band HIGH ON FIRE is pretty much worshipped in this set — as did those once considered indie rockers, like instrumental wizards THE FUCKING CHAMPS and psychedelic sludgers COMETS ON FIRE. Alongside them are young pups like Austin's heavily-buzzed THE SWORD and Australian BUDGIE revivalists WOLFMOTHER.
If there's gonna be a Sub Pop of this new heavy movement, it'll be Kemado Records. Home to THE SWORD and psychedelic freakers DANAVA, plus cod-metal dandies DIAMOND NIGHTS, this label straddles the underground and mainstream worlds (DIY aesthetic, unwashed bands, distribution by Universal). While no one knows how the whole thing will play out sales-wise, if fourteen-year-olds will be carrying BIG BUSINESS lunchboxes to school next year, Kemado's taste in what some have called "hipster metal" is pretty much impeccable.
On "Invaders", they gather eighteen tracks, from their roster and elsewhere, of some of the grungiest, most-self aware bong rockers to ever sport a youth-medium size denim jacket with a VENOM pin on it. Riff is king here, whether jazzed up with funky sax and Farfisa organ (the awesome BLACK MOUNTAIN), propelled by insane-o drumming and kicked off into PENTAGRAM land (the equally cool and stubbornly fuzzed-out DANAVA), or run right into JETHRO TULL's practice room circa 1967 (the gloriously weird and un-metal DUNGEN). We get creepy 1971-era rock and roll from WITCH, the side project of DINOSAUR JR mainman J Mascis, and crushingly heavy, droningly melodic stomp from the underrated TORCHE (the band that rose from the ashes of the even-more-unheralded FLOOR).
At this point, many people's eyes have glazed over, while those into this scene already are fuming "he hasn't even mentioned PELICAN or WITCHCRAFT yet!" The point here, as with all good comps, is that once you get the general vibe, you have to dig in yourself and find what each band brings to the table. Some are more content to swing from Iommi's testicles, while others trundle off into uncharted waters, but there's not really a mediocre track in the bunch, and as a barometer of what's going on in riff-rock right now, "Invaders" is unbeatable.
Many of these tracks are unreleased, making "Invaders" a treat for devotees of this scene as well as a great triptych for those new to it. Either way, if you love the rock, "Invaders" is pretty much an essential purchase.