“Having been a music addict for over 30 years, Literally thousands of bands have graced my ears in that time. And I truly love all kinds of rock n’ roll music. If it’s good, its good. I know everybody has a different interpretation of what good is. That’s the way it should be. If everyone thought the same the world would be a pretty boring place, right? Well this blog and the bands that have been placed within its pages are my interpretations of what good music is. By simply posting on here states that I think something is better than average, or “good”. And, really this is just a log of stuff that I think is cool, for my own personal use. However, if I can turn one person on to something they can appreciate for years to come, nothing could make me happier.
“As a North American consumer of music, it’s not exactly easy to tap into the European indie music scene. So when you do stumble onto bands such as Portugal’s The Quartet of Woah! like we did on UNSW 6, you certainly tend to keep tabs on them. So here it is, one final release from 2012 to be critiqued in 2013. So, how’d they do?
Before we get to the music, it’s important that I give kudos for the artwork. For 7 euros, this is an awesome effort from the band and distributor Raging Planet. Glossy quadruple fold containing a lyric booklet that doubles as a poster and alludes to the basic concept of this album.
Without revealing the base and premise of the concept at hand, individual songs like “Empty Stream” lean on an edge of Rock fairly simplistic, but bruting. Then there’s tracks like “Balance”, that not only have that brut like sound, but merge with raucous keyboard.
Generally speaking, and I may catch some flack for this, Rui Guerra’s lead vocals often channel that echoed Syd Barrett sort of eery nachalance. “Slightshot Sam” and a few others like “Master Lever Had A Dream” reflect a bit of a retro-style vocals, paired with more organ style keyboard.
One thing that is pretty clear after a few full spins, most of the hooks here are seemingly a derivative of Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”, which could be your dream or your nightmare depending on your taste.
Much like a premature version of Tame Impala or Amplified Heat, TQOW has a raw bite to it’s guitars. Driven in a sludge, don’t get me wrong Ultrabomb has it’s moment of signature and intensified clarity. Most refreshing is, although there are a few somber parts to hang your hat on at times, there is no predictable acoustic ender or intermission. This is just a good ‘ole fashioned rock release with a plot to boot.”
Reviewed by: hstisgod on 2013-01-02
“The Quartet of Woah! is one of the newcomers of 2012 and also one of the biggest surprises. Born in 2010, The Quartet of Woah! is a band formed by members of other Portuguese bands such as LunaSeaSane, Melange, Nicorette, Blasted Mechanism, Zorg and Philharmonic Weed. They took their musical influences to build a unique genre of rock with heavy influence from the 70’s and 80’s.
“Ultrabomb” is a concept album inspired by “La Ultrabomba”, a children’s book written by the Spanish authors Mário Lodi and I.Sedazzari in 1974. It is about political and social criticism held in a fictional universe. This book ended up being banned in most European countries as well as Argentina.
The record tells us the story of Master Lever, a man who was driven by his thirst of power and greed.
This is a true musical journey. Diversity is the word here. It is such as sweet mix of stoner rock riffs, psychedelic jams, keyboards, a little pinch of Queen here and there, progressive and jazzy segments… There is a hell of a lot going on but in fact each song flows perfectly into the next one.
It is not really fair to point out or highlight any of the thirteen songs that are part of this album. It only makes sense when you listen to it as a whole and I do recommend you to do so. Over and over again. It is addicting.
As I said before, “Ultrabomb” is one of the biggest surprises of 2012 and one of the bands to keep an eye on in the future. It is a pleasure to listen to records like this one.”
“And now for something completely different.
The Quartet of Woah! do indeed impress, as their name implies, on their debut album. 13 songs, 60 minutes long, each song makes a unique musical statement. They live alone on a tiny island just outside of Stoner Rock, unfettered by laws or conventions, free to do as they wilt, creating something unique and different.
The Quartet of Woah! show tremendous ability to handle melody and harmony while showing a broad range of influences and sounds from fuzz so heavy it could only have been dredged from the deepest and blackest of ocean trenches to harmonies so light and delicate they might have more properly fallen on mountain tops than on record. There are moments of Yes-style close harmony, Queen-style operatic aria, John Lennon-style piano crooning and Truckfighters-style fuzz battery, just to name but a few of their musical stylings.
Opening cut “Master Lever Had a Dream” is a skull and crossbones warning to any who aren’t ready. Awash in harmony and Animals-style organ, while still maintaining a hard edged silhouette as did the best of the 60s psychedelic pop bands. It’s as fine and as honest an opening shot across the bow as one would hope to find. The title track then continues the trend into 60s pop psych lightness with a piano and vocal melody that would make Jeff Lynne beam with pride, especially in his earlier Idle Race incarnation. Not what one might expect, to be sure. It all paves the way for “Taste of Hate”, a downtuned potboiler of heavy fuzz and pounding rhythm, the contrast between these two sides of the band lending the latter track all the more impact. ”The Announcer” then glides in sounding sugary in comparison, though not as sugary as the opening two tracks. By the end of the song however, it’s actually a great blend of the two sides of the band; the sugary 60s psych pop side and the fuzzy stoner side. The two together create nearly a Wolf Parade kind of atmosphere.
Now that we’ve gotten to know The Quartet of Woah! it leaves little left in the way of surprise for the rest of the album, right? ”How To Build a Bomb?” is mostly an instrumental with a group shout that wafts in and out atop an uptempo fuzz rock and Doors-ish organ freakout. Now that was different. ”Prodigal Son” begins with some Yes-style harmony and spills out into a syncopated downtempo platter of pounding rhythms. ”Empty Stream” is a short organ and fuzz rock headbanger which leads to the piano driven Lennon / Nilsson crooning intro of “The Path of Our Commitment”. The song then leads to an understated fuzz rock verse and chorus and seemingly burns itself out only to be reborn in a Queen style resurrection of piano and epic vocals. The full band then comes back and kicks into fuzz monster mode. It’s one of the longer tracks (one of two over seven minutes) but it’s an impressive display of what the band is capable of as a whole.
The next three have a lot in common and show the first signs that the band has settled into an identity that is both comfortable and individualized; that of organ driven fuzz rock with syncopated rhythms. ”Ode to Liberty” is a fuzz and organ driven rocker. ”Balance” has a nearly Jimi Hendrix like opening riff that leads to another Yes / Queen style harmony over a simplified carnival-like syncopated organ driven rhythm. ”Slingshot Sam” scratches out a complex organ and fuzz driven rhythm. The album tops off in grand style with a pair of epic songs. In “The Machine Limps Toward The End” the band is content to let the organ swell away in the background and let the vocals do the talking, so to speak. Closing track “U Turn” is not only the longest song it may be the most representative of the band on an album full of interesting songs. It’s organ driven fuzz rock with an interesting syncopated rhythm. If the listener remains unconvinced after previewing this song, chances are he won’t be convinced by the rest of the album. But I’m willing to bet there’s a little something here for everyone.
Highlights include: ”Taste of Hate” and “Ultrabomb”
“Ultrabomb” (Raging Planet 2012) is the debut album from Lisbon based rock band The Quartet of Woah!. “Ultrabomb” is a concept album with political and social criticism held on a fictional universe but whose plot adapts perfectly to the times of change that we live nowadays. Inspired on a children book from the 70’s that was banned by censorship in most European countries as well as in Argentina (from where it was first released), “Ultrabomb” is a record that tell us the story of Master Lever a man that was driven by his thirst of power and greed.
Born in 2010, The Quartet of Woah! are Gonçalo Kotowicz (LunaSeaSane, Melange,Nicorette), Rui Guerra (Melange), Miguel Costa (Blasted Mechanism, LunaSeaSane, Zorg) and André Gonçalves (Philharmonic Weed), taking their musical differences as an advantage to build a unique rock sound that covers over three decades of rock, the band board on a musical journey with the self-titled album: “Ultrabomb” bringing out the best and worst in them to make songs about ambition, deception, politics and war.
Photos by: Agostinho Gonçalves
Video by: Nuno Campos Baptista