Five years sounds like a long time unless you're one of Texas' most nefarious stoner-rock merchants. In that case, sometimes one song can feel like five years.
Really, it's hard to believe that much time has gone by since Houston (mostly) five-piece Linus Pauling Quartet's last new album, 2007's All Things Are Light. But songs about "Bongs of Power, Monkeys in Space, D&D shit," according to an LP4 announcement Wednesday night. The new LP is called Bag of Hammers (Homeskool Recordz), so we're guessing it's going to be heavy.
"You know how every band has to have the one guy who moves things along?," says one of LP4's myriad guitarists (actually there's normally three), Ramon Medina, who also practices music journalism for Free Press Houston, Nonalignment Pact and occasionally us. "That guy may not be the smartest, the best guitarist, the best songwriter, etc. but he's the guy stupid enough to follow through on dumb ideas that shouldn't be?
"Well, while I was too busy with my personal life to really focus on the band, it appears I was that guy."
Medina credits singer Clinton Heider and guitarist/saxman Charlie Horshack for being "that guy" this time around.
"Clinton wrote some great stoner songs like 'She Did Not Know' and the very stoner D&D metal 'Crom,'" Medina says. One of his own contributions is the riff for "Star Chimp," which he says Heider expanded: "It involves three of our obsessions - monkeys, space, and sci-fi." Mlee Marie of Hearts of Animals narrates the introduction of "Crom," and Medina says was "tricked" into singing lead vocals on "Rust." There's also a song called "Saving Throw."
LP4 is also approaching their 20th anniversary, so they're not just stopping at new album. Homeskool's Bubba Hightower, who has released local music from Roky Moon & BOLT, the Escatones, Fat Tony and Thunderkunt, is also assembling a greatest-hits anthology for the band, which dates back to 1994. We're really, really trying not to make some kind of bong joke here, but assume anything we can possibly come up with they've heard before.
Homeskool also released LP4's most recent recording, 2010's Horns of Ammon, a collection of All Things Are Light outtakes some have described as the "softer side" of LP4. Appropriately, the greatest hits will be packaged as a Dungeons & Dragons module, although Medina can't remember if the compilation will be three discs or four.
"Bubba is like us in that he tosses a million ideas out there and sooner or later one sticks," Medina says.
The band is planning a number of shows to jog local fans' memories, including April 21 at Rudyard's, May 12 at Walter's, a Velvet Underground tribute with Muhammadali and Future Blondes May 26 at the Continental Club - Medina promises a "hoot" with balloons and everything - and a three-show "pre-release" Texas jag stopping at Fitz June 22.
LP4 also hopes join most of the other big names in the psych-rock underground (ST-37, Primordial Undermind, Weird Weeds) later this month at an Austin venue TBD to honor Dallas writer Lee Jackson, who passed away suddenly from ALS last month. Information on the date, venue, and full lineup for the event is expected soon, and LP4 plans to contribute a song to the benefit CD called For Lee Jackson In Space.
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Finally, the band is also hard at work on their first-ever music video, for "Crom." It's animated, and Medina promises "wizards, elves, lizard dudes, cyclops, an octopus dude... hell, we even have a dragon."
Bag of Hammers is scheduled for release on CD and double-LP vinyl in July, and the Homeskool greatest-hits before that.