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Acid FM's "Justified American Music," & "Electric No. 3" albums review:

Acid FM - "Justified American Music" (Monsterfuzz Records, 2012 CD, JAM-01-500) & "Electric No. 3" (Monsterfuzz Records, 2013 CD, EN3-01-25)

This Stoner//Detroit/Metal crossover Power trio who are called Acid FM hail from North Carolina and their main ringleader and possibly sole remaining founder is named Sparky Simmons. They have been around for nearly a decade already, lurking in the shadows of small labels and appearing on obscure local compilation releases. I think i saw even a mention on the first Spaceseed album with Nik Turner along with some other familiar names, even. Sparky should be known to some readers of Aural Innovations as the newly welcomed current guitarist for the international space-metal collective-project based in Moscow, and led by the ever talented and sultry Alisa Coral, the band we call the mighty "Space Mirrors"! Acid FM and Space Mirrors even put out a great split 7" single on red transparent vinyl a couple of years back on Sparky's own Monsterfuzz Records label, with Acid FM and Space Mirrors sharing each side of their own on the record, which in turn was housed in a nice Kevin Sommers sleeve, the artist who does all the jazzy photowork and eye candy for the current Space Mirrors releases, as well as all the art for ex-Hawkwind bass Assassin #2, Alan Davey's various bands and solo projects, and, lest we forget, the ever chaotic festival spacerockers Pre-Med's product as well, always being adorned with Kevin's unmistakable "Golden touch". 

The latest incarnation of the Acid FM we find on these two CD releases consists of Sparky Simmons on vocals / guitars / synths, longstanding Doc Obergefell on bass / synths, and newest recruit Jeremiah Johnson on drums / percussion. The "Justified American Music" CD has 12 tracks, and the opener is called "In The Blink Of An Eye" and sets the tone throughout the CD, with monster thrashy riffs, solid songs, hard rockin' right through to the closing piece, being a cover of Black Sabbath's ur-classic "War Pigs", which they pull off with more than a little amount of doom-delivered panache. The CD clocks in at just under 59 minutes and is a heavy testimony to blissed out stoned and heavy thrash influenced metallic rock'n'roll they crank up without getting noisy or droney or rubbish like alot of other "stoner" bands get (i mean, Electric Wizard are the reason i forgot doing any real drugs anymore...). The format is basically metal measured by a lager of 4x4 liquid tonne Oxygen tanks of explosive nitroglyserin aboard a rickety freight train about to derail at 300 mph. down a mountainside into the Great Wall of China. Sparky's Monsterfuzz label has also been responsible for a limited and quite mindblowing admitted labour of love, an ever so tiny and poorly distributed Monster Magnet tribute CD called "Kiss To The Right Side Of Your Brain", a release which i am glad i got hold of back then when it was out on mail order from Monsterfuzz Records' website in 2011, as i am sure the run was pretty small, making it more than scarce by now, and it is really an effort for such a small label to come out of the blue with something dedicated like that, considering Monster Magnet are pretty corporate these days and probably shit on the small guys who are all trampled underfoot by them, for all we know, in their lumbering pot-addled Fascismo Warthog & The Exploited-fallout mastodon wake Wyndorf and his Truncheon-henchmen parade the the pigsty of the Atomic Age record industry with these days, God's Appointed Stoneage Drug Retards in Rehab, The Refurbished War Pigs of The Holy Roman Empire, so to speak.

So anyway, it was only last year on Facebook, that Sparky held an informal poll on what the name of the upcoming Acid FM album should be, and the best answer was, in the end, handpicked from many entries, and decided to be "Justified American Music". This first and latest Acid FM full length release, which comes in a nice digipack with lots of dodgy photos of the longhaired rocker-blokes in the band standing around brick walls and abandoned lots, looking mean, the silver Disc carefully digitally encoded with sounds being very much in their hairy staple diet style of forefathers like Kyuss and Fu Manchu infused straight ahead, no-holds barred vein of pedal-hopping 'revolution rockin' stoner rock with abit of fast thrashmetal and anarchic motor city Detroit chaos thrown in the mix, it culminates in what a Justified American hard rock power trio look and sound like. They do possess some great heavy riffs and never run dry on blitzkrieg fury and Motörhead infused energy, the "JAM" CD and the "Electronic No. 3" CD are both very consistent records, hard and heavy and fast paced. Most of the songs are bursting with vitality to rock out to the max. Acid FM do indeed take their multivitamins every day.

Following hot on the heels of "Justified American Music" is a 2013 release housed in a jewel case, a 45 minute extended play spread across 9 songs, called "Electric No. 3". It consists of a mix of live and studio tracks which further cement the band's metallic stoner onslaught with more live Detroit-style hellraiser leanings. Some of the live tracks are different versions of songs on "JAM", and there are a few new songs as well. Its really blistering stuff that can be described, as a mad-dog power Trio out to conquer the heavier side of Spacerock-as-we-know-it, without the psychedelic trappings of the genre. Hawkwind and Monster Magnet are thus named as big influences, according to Sparky's liner notes on the "JAM" album, though i would not class Acid FM in any way even overtly psychedelic, even though they DO blow minds, and not at all orchestral, definetly not pastoral, never mellow, not dreamy, in no way at all "prog" or peddling to the experimental, even, no it's just straight ahead riff-O-rama hardrock, feet squarely planted in metal and stoner, no extended freakouts, no drug addled jamming, no bullshit, unless you count the nearly 8 minute long Black Sabbath cover, its as close to a jam as they get. In that sense they brutalize the listener much like the aforemented bands like Fu Manchu do when tha'Fu are at their best with Fu Man-numbers like "Urethane" or "Hell On Wheels" for example, in other words like a loaded jackhammer pummeling at your metal brain, making old men in the know, like Lemmy, very proud of the proceedings. 

I am myself currently in the midst of negotiation over creating front cover art for the next Acid FM platter due out in 2014, so we shall see what time and ideas will bring forth on the graphic side once we "Trip the Switch" and "Brainstorm" on a dream dollar deal, and cater for the bands wishes and developments and needs on that end, reaching an end, seeing something coming into fruition. We have nearly settled on images of deep space and shadowy figures, maybe, we are still in the early stage of heady metal "metalmorphosis". Time will tell for 2014 for these three dudes if they ever break into the mainstream. This band is the essence of skill, and obviously a hard working group at what they do, it really shows, you hear they are playing their damn instruments like no tomorrow. They might as well be superstars if they ever get a break from some bigshot label or big-name producer of some sort. They aim high and produce.

Check out the links below this review, as Sparky @ Monsterfuzz is offering limited $25 discount bundles with both the "Justified American Music" and "Electric No. 3" CD's with the split 7" Space Mirrors/Acid FM vinyl, also including a bonus Acid FM poster, and you won't regret it as the transparent red vinyl item will become quite collectible as of the near future... It's all Approved by the Healthy Trip Advisor in your Head, they are giants, and they are hardcore! Born to win! They lay down the Law! Totally! Support these three Justified American 30-something hard rockin' pasty looking stoned white chaps... NOW!

- Christian Eric Mumford                                                                                                                                                                   Aural Innovations Review Link


 
 

Justified American Music:

Sparky Simmons and his band, ACID FM, have released their first full length record on his own Monster Fuzz label, which had previously released a really cool Monster Magnet tribute record. The CD features 11 original tracks and closes with a cover version of the Black Sabbath classic, War Pigs. The band is a three piece and the sound is lead by Sparky on guitar, lead vocals and synths (there are not many). He is not a great singer by a long shot but he puts a lot of heart and soul into these songs and his singing. Just accept this and get onto the rock and roll that proceeds. The CD starts with In the Blink of an Eye. It is a mid-paced melodic rock track. Atomic Revolution reminds me a lot of old Cheap Trick! Desire has a more heavy metal riff and a cool phazer guitar effect. Ride is a pretty straightforward rock song, short, no guitar solo or break at all, really.  Alive is a more heavy metal style track with a melodic guitar hook to start but then the rough guitar line kicks in. A short lead guitar solo bursts out between the frames of the song eventually. Reflux is a longer track where the phazer guitar reappears and a more spacey cool mid-section is played out but they too quickly return to the reframe. Damn, as this is one of the best tracks. Anyway, by this time in the record, I have become convinced that this band really needs a lead singer. I hate to say it but Sparky just does not do it for me. No Simple Plan starts with a delay guitar and is more melodically sung and is like a sort of indie rock song and just the length for the radio. Don’t stop is maybe the longest track on the CD and starts off with a guitar solo and then it becomes a pretty normal track with fairly juvenile lyrics. The mid-section slows down and has a spacey guitar that is mixed very high (but I like that) before the track goes back to the formula that is used in far too many of the songs. News at 11:00 has a more heavy metal guitar riff and quite funny lyrics. It also has the best guitar and longest guitar solo on the entire CD! Bleached is a really nice change with an acoustic track and hand drums. Nice lyrics as well. No Name starts with a really cool distorted bass line but does not progress much from there.. The CD ends with a cover of War Pigs by Black Sabbath. It is a pretty ambitious track to try to do and I have to say, the band does not really deliver the goods on this one. They play it totally straight but fall flat when it comes to the passion in the vocals and original intensity…  Go to the bands web site and check this record out..

                                                                                                                                                                                     -Scott Heller Scott's Music Review (Jan. 14, 2012)
 


 

Justified American Music:

There’s quite an intriguing blend of sounds here. Progressive rock with space rock overtones merges with old school metal, psychedelic and even punk rock. There is some awesome guitar work on this and at times the bass guitar really stands out. The main thing that would keep these guys from breaking mainstream is the vocals. They tend to be on the “off key” side, leaning them into the punk/alternative/DIY category. I wondered if it was a lack of skill, but then came the bonus track. When that song, a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” came around, the vocals were on key. So, that means the sound on the other tunes is by design. All in all, this is quite a cool set that never really seems to get tired or redundant. It’s clearly not for everyone, but fans of the DIY sound with some cool prog and space rock mixed in will love this. It’s kind of like stoner rock, but still has a different edge, too. Look for great things from this act.

Track By Track Review:

In The Blink Of An Eye - There’s a quick bit of vocals at the opening of this cut. Then it pounds into a jam that has a real NWOBHM sound to it. This is quite metallic. There is quite a cool prog meets space rock instrumental section later in the piece. The guitar solo that follows is very tasty.

Atomic Revolution - Here we get another pounding tune. Again, NWOBHM is a fair comparison, but the vocals seem more in keeping with a DIY, almost punk element.

Desire - The bass opens this and then the guitar joins, bringing a real old school punk rock sound to the table. This is meaty, the kind of punk that has a lot of metal in the mix. Those vocals are easier to take on this tune, but still have that DIY approach. Some of the layers that are woven over the top lend a space rock edge to the piece. The guitar solo on this is pretty awesome.

Ride - Indie rock meets punk on this screamer. Somehow this is combined with a NWOBHM sound and the music reminds me a bit of Judas Priest in some ways. The vocals are more in that DIY meets punk mode.

Alive - This powers in very heavy and very metallic. There are some cool melodic lines that weave over the top of this heavy duty backdrop. There are some space rock layers over the top and the vocals here are easier to more mainstream than those on some of the other tunes. The instrumental section on this is particularly tasty and the guitar solo really stands out, too.

Relux - The bass starts this cut and as the guitar tentatively joins there’s a space rock meets NWOBHM feeling to it. The whole group jump in from there and that kind of mode is added to by more of those DIY/punk vocals. There are some more space rock moments on this tune. In fact, the instrumental section later in the piece feels a bit like Hawkwind at times.

No Simple Plan - This starts off mellow and rather like alternative rock meets space rock. The vocals come across bringing that DIY sound in full bloom. There is definitely a garage band vibe here, but the vocals are such a prominent part of this particular music puzzle that this cut will have the most limited audience of anything here. Also, while this does represent a bit of a change in terms of sound and volume level, the cut is a bit too stripped back and simplistic to really stand as tall as the other music here. If there’s a tune to skip, this is it.

Don't Stop - Bass guitar begins this out and they launch out into one of the coolest jams of the whole disc. The sound of the guitar and the riffing just go to create something like a more metallic Led Zeppelin with some Aerosmith thrown in for good measure. The guitar solos like crazy early on and they take us through a few shifts and changes. When the vocals come in, they bring that garage band sound again, but this holds up better than some of the stuff in that regard. In fact, this is one of the highlights of the disc. The slower jam later in the piece is clearly more garage oriented, feeling a bit like spacey punk rock.

News At 11:00 - This cut is really well crafted in an underground metal, NWOBHM style. It’s one of the most accessible pieces here and one of the real standouts. There are some great instrumental sections on this thing.

Bleached - Acoustic guitar opens this. As it grows out we get sort of a folk rock motif. This feels rather like progressive rock. It’s essentially a balladic cut that remains ballad-like. There is an air of psychedelia here and that DIY vibe is less prominent here. This is another highlight and presents some nice variety.

No Name - Coming in particularly heavy, this one is very much heavy metal with a real DIY edge.

War Pigs [Black Sabbath Cover] - Here we get a cover of the Black Sabbath song. They power this one out in a nice fashion and I love the bass sound on this beast. The music here is pretty much on the money. The vocals are quite cool. I like the modern sort of variant to the vocals. The thing is, the vocals here are pretty much spot on in terms of key, making it clear that the off key wanderings in other tunes is intentional. I really like this rendition quite a bit. The instrumental breaks are almost progressive rock at times.
                                                                                                                                                                                        -G. W. Hill Music Street Journal (Jan. 28, 2013)
 


Space Mirrors / Acid FM Split Single on Red Vinyl:

This split vinyl release features one song by the group Space Mirrors and one by Acid FM. Both are generally in the space rock category, landing this in the progressive rock category at Music Street Journal, but they both represent different sides of the coin for certain. The cover picture shown here has the front and back cover of the release on a diagonal from one another. Space Beyond Space - Acid FM Space rock meets Indie rock/DIY vocals on this cut. The jam later in the piece really takes on some Hawkwind like textures.

-                                                                                                                                                                                       -G. W. Hill Music Street Journal (Jan. 28, 2013)


Space Mirrors / Acid FM Split Single on Red Vinyl:

Acid FM, a band by Sparky Simmons who plays guitar on one of the tracks (”Rue d’Auseil Is Missing) on In Darkness They Whisper, is a perfect companion for Space Mirror’s first vinyl release. Released on Sparky’s own label on a red 7”, the Space Mirrors / Acid FM split single includes one track by each band. ”Dreams of Area 51” is more laid-back than usual; a beautiful UFO-ballad that also features Nik Turner. The Acid FM track rocks harder and with a rather metallic touch not forgetting space rock and psychedelia. Another great tune! If you want this single that was released a year ago your best bet is to order it soon directly from Monsterfuzz Records since it’s limited to 300 copies only… Another recommendable purchase for the stoner rock friends would be the Monster Magnet tribute CD Kiss the Right Side of Your Brain that you can get together with this single for only 20 $ including postage!
                                                                                                                                                                                             -Dj Astro Psychotropic Zone (Dec. 03, 2012)
 
Space Mirrors / Acid FM Split Single on Red Vinyl:

ACID FM is Sparky Simmon’s group (he runs Monsterfuzz records and released the great Monster Magnet tribute CD). They start the A side off with a melodic space rock track called "Space Beyond Space," that reminds me a lot of mid 80’s Huw Lloyd Langton solo material. The track is uptempo with some nice lead guitar work and spacey vocals. 
                                                                                                                                                                                    
-Scott Heller Scott's Music Review (Jan. 14, 2012)


Space Mirrors / Acid FM Split Single on Red Vinyl:

This split comes as a nice looking package from Monster Fuzz Records and Acid Fuzz (Monster Records’s own Sparky Simmons) leads of right into a cosmic journey of space rock proportions. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I was playing some Hawkwind last week, because Acid FM take us right back into that galaxy with gleaming guitars, black-hole sized bass and nebulous riffs. “Space Beyond Space,” is just what the title says, a rocket adventure into the cosmos of mid 80’s Huw Lloyd Langton solo material. The track rocks, though, it never slags, with its up-tempo pace, nice star-shattering lead guitar work and spacey vocals.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                       -Raver The Single Life (Feb 02, 2012)
 


 

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