Monday, January 26, 2009

Hydromatics - The earth is shaking (2007)

Third full length Hydromatics album came out on Suburban Records.
Cover art created by Bart from Peter Pan Speedrock.

As per usual, this release was followed up by a European tour. I think number 6.

Be a sport and BUY THE CD
Suburban MySpace
Ken Shimamoto talks about the record


I-94 BAR wrote :

THE EARTH IS SHAKING - The Hydromatics (Suburban)

A brief history of the band, for those who missed the previous “chapters”: In 1996 the Hellacopters’ leader Nick Royale called his Dutch friend Tony Slug in order to record a demo of covers of their favourite group: the Sonic's Rendezvous Band. The plan is set aside for a quite long period of time, due to the engagements of the Hellacopters.

It stalls long enough for the Swedish band to meet Scott Morgan, the legendary singer and guitar player of SRB. So the idea of Morgan joining Slug and Royale in The Hydromatics started to take shape. After adding Theo Brouwer, former bass-player of the Dutch band Nitwits, The Hydromatics' "Parts Unknown" is finished and released in 1999, their explosive debut for White Jazz (the best Swedish independent r'n'r label at that time).

Though Nick had to leave the band to follow his career with The Hellacopters, the Hydromatics decided not to stop and in 2001 they pulled out a new shining album titled "Powerglide".

Now the band released the third musical chapter of its story. It’s called "The Earth Is Shaking" and features another great musician in the line-up: Kent Steedman, theextraordinary guitarist of Australian legends the Celibate Rifles.
The results are fantastic. "The Earth Is Shaking" is the best effort of this international supergroup. It shows 12 powerful and inspirational tunes with Scott’s voice at his best, an incredibly powerful rhythm engine and three guitars that talk to each other in a perfect way. The attack of the first three songs will take your breath. Tte album starts with the vibrating and Detroit-styled "Standing At The Juke", then follows “Baby Jane” – a mixture of soul music and great guitar sound. The third one is a classic from SRB: the eternal "Mystically Yours".
Also, Steedman brings a song from his side-band Yage called "Speechless" (from their third album “Integration”): a fantastic song where keen guitars cross beautiful rhythms.

But it’s not finished yet. There’s a great Rolling Stones cover ("All Down The Lines"), a couple of tunes showing punk energy ("Streets of Amsterdam", "Funball", "Detroit Leaning") and some mid-tempo ones that are perfect for Scott’s voice: "Power & Glory" and the lysergic title-track. These are beautiful songs that are part of a fantastic album.

- Roberto Calabro

If we're surprised that they're back from the dead should we be so shocked that it's so damned good?

The Hydromatics called it a day a few years ago, worn down by one tour too many (the irony being that that last tour nearly didn't happen.) Personal circumstances outside the band conspired to call time for all involved. This being rock and roll (and y'all know well that There's No Justice in Rock and Roll), everyone shrugged, pulled up the tent and did something else.

Singer-guitarist Scott Morgan certainly came up smelling of roses, with soul big band project The Solution (with onetime Hydros drummer Nick Royale) scoring Scandinavian chart success. One-tour bassist Laurent Ciron (ex-The Dogs) went back to Paris and recorded a powerpop classic with his trans-Atlantic band The Cinders. Tony Slug went back to being Tony Slug (by all accounts, a full-time occupation) and blasting half of Europe off the map with his regular band The Nitwitz. Drummer Andy Frost went back to Morgan's Powertrane, and then left.

It's funny how fate behaves when left to her own devices and a re-asemblage of the key members (they'd be Morgan and Slug) fell into place in early 2007, after a few curious twists and turns. On board - for the recording at least - were long-serving Hydros bassist Theo Brouwer and Australia's king of the scorched earth lead break, Celibate Rifle Kent Steedman, who also produced. Hard-hitting Dutchman Ries Doms (The Spades) was along on drums.

Seven months later and one of the stated missions of the Hydros - doing studio justice to Sonic's Rendezvous Band tunes that were only ever heard live - has been accomplished. The lesser known Morgan composition from that era, "Mystically Yours", makes it to this 13-tracker, as does the almost universally unheard "Power and Glory". Brutally scorching covers of the Stones' "All Down The Line" and Otis Clay's "Baby Jane" (you may be more familiar with the version by Dr Feelgood) get a run, and nestle alongside an excellent range of band-penned tunes.

While "The Earth Is Shaking" lacks the soulful warmth of the criminally hard-to-find "Powerglide" album and the explosive exuberance and surprise factor of "Parts Unknown", Kent Steedman's production brings out a crystal-hard veneer that tells you the band means business from the get-go. Latch an ear around the driving rush of the opener, "Standin' at the Juke". It's gritty and hard - just like the rain-swept Low Country streets that are the Hydromatics' turf.

(Here's a tip: Don't listen to this on my car stereo system. It just didn't sound that good. Given a decent set of speakers, I'm now appreciative of its sonic attractions.)

You'd probably have to be a fan of the Celibate Rifles to notice the big streak of that band running through this album, from the Steedmanised tone in "Baby Jane" to the chukka-chukka rhythm guitar part on "Streets of Amsterdam", a searing band composition that might be my fave thing here today. "Might be" and "today", because "Power and Glory" probably pips it, a mid-tempo builder with a masterfully emotive Morgan vocal, and I might come up with something else as a fave tomorrow.

I have to admit I wasn't initally sold. It took a few listens to climb in side this album properly. And while I might have liked to have heard a few more Tube Screamer wah-wah solos from Kent, I can't fault the band's democracy or the guitar company he keeps. While Scott Morgan tends to stow his light under a bushel and concentrate on vocalising, the sounds he lays down are first class. But from what I can make out, it's Tony Slug who steps up to the plate on this album and hits a homer with his axe. Steedman hasn't joined the band for its Euro tour, by the way, but a three-way tag team live would have taken some beating.

Here's guitar democracy in action: There's this breakdown in "Detroit Leaning", a solid enough rocker for sure, but it's taken to another level. Darting, weaving guitars, courtesy of our sonic sponsors Slug, Morgan & Stedman Pty Ltd, buzz around, up and down, and generally just do battle over Theo Brouwer's unruly, pulsing bass line, before the whole thing's shut down emphatically. A long gap punctuates its end and the start of the instrumental mini-journey that's "Monumental", where languid acoustic book-ends a somehow soothing album closer.
Ries Doms has a straight-up, go-for-the-jugular style that contrasts with his predecessor Andy Frost, but he rides out a wild bull of a feel on "Funball", a rollicking lament about digital technology that's rendered all the better by its brutal rhythm. Likewise the strutting tattoo on the title tune, where more layered guitars build before the heartbeat outro.

"The Earth Is Shaking" shows The Hydromatics stepping out from the shadow of Sonic's Rendezvous Band and walking the earth on their own two feet. If you're playing catch-up after the first two LPs and live mini-album went out of print, get your act together. Suburban Records or Scott Morgan's online shop are waiting for your order now.

- The Barman


Detroit legend Scott Morgan and Tony Slug (of Holland's oldest punkband The Nitwitz) carry on the flame of Sonic's Rendevous Band with "The Earth Is Shaking", Hydromatics' third album. This time they're joined by Kent Steedman, guitarist of Australia's protopunk icons The Celibate Rifles. And it's not surprisingly yet another vital dose of ballsy yet soulful Detroit rawk'n'roll. 12 cuts, no misses, all hits, and a great Stones cover ("All Down The Lines"). GET IT! Scott Morgan's voice is in topnotch shape and he also sings in The Solution with Nick Andersson (who previously was in Hydromatics). Don't know what my buddy Tony Slug is up nowadays besides Hydromatic, Nitwitz split up after the tragic death of Benito Gasolini, will have to check.

If you dig: Sonic's Rendevous Band, MC5, Stooges
4 stars


I didn’t know much about The Hydromatics, but a short search on the Internet tells me that the band started out as a tribute to the Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. That Tony Slug (The Nitwitz, B.G.K., Loveslug) and Nick Royale (The Hellacopters) wanted to do this together. That Nick was too busy with his band and that by coincidence the original singer of the Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Scott Morgen, teamed up with Tony Slug. That they founded The Hydromatics together. That they did well.

This is the third effort by this band, their live record excluded. To me, it’s sort of a revelation. ‘Standing At The Juke’ immediately sets the tone, the guitars just breathe rock n’ roll but their owners also listened to the blues. Scott Morgan has the perfect voice for this kind of music. He doesn’t scream, he knows how to sing. His voice reminds me of rock from the 70s. Though this is harder, more leaning towards punk, or a band like The Stooges. I’m not surprised that they cover The Stones (‘All Down The Line’). Rock ‘n roll the way it’s supposed to be.

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