Last year I sent copy of the Meteor Mags: Omnibus Edition to a band whose albums I listened to approximately one million times while writing the story Voyage of the Calico Tigress. Mags and her crew, including space monkeys and telepathic octopuses, do an impromptu performance of one of Snail’s songs. In return, I received a note saying, “This is the coolest thing ever,” which made me smile. I’m glad the guys got a kick out of it.

Here are some other albums which have been in heavy rotation in the secret writing laboratory—albums where once they start playing, I don’t ever want them to end.

Unida: El Coyote.

If the Internet is to be believed, Unida’s final album was never released by their record label, but was eventually made available directly to fans at concerts. It is often found on the web with different titles, but I like El Coyote. Singer John Garcia, formerly of the legendary Kyuss, is Mags’ favorite vocalist, and references to his various projects pepper her stories like buckshot.


Hell Camino: Hell Camino.

I almost always listen to this album back-to-back with its follow-up, Orange Lily, because I love the sound that much. If memory serves correctly, I first heard Hell Camino last year on one of my two favorite Internet radio stations: Desert Sessions Radio. At night (in Arizona time), the station tends to play 60s and 70s rock, but they rarely spin a tune that was already played to death by traditional “classic rock” stations. During the day, the station is thunderously heavy, raining down a constant onslaught of modern bands who trace their family trees back to Black Sabbath. [UPDATE: The Desert Sessions Radio streaming URL seems to have changed recently. Find them online at http://www.jango.com/stations/282639559/tunein]


Bullet: The Entrance to Hell.

Bullet changed their name to “Hard Stuff” because another Bullet already existed. You can find the Hard Stuff albums on YouTube, but I’m partial to this odd reissue under the original name. Maybe because the first time I heard it, my mind was blown by hearing a song from the incredible compilation series Nuggets in a random YouTube recommendation. Nuggets rocked my world with so many garage/psychedelic/heavy bands from the UK and Australia that I am still reeling from the impact years later.


Wo Fat: Noche del Chupacabra

Wo Fat convinced me that C minor is the heaviest key of all time. They are the reason I got a baritone electric guitar to tune to Drop C. My favorite songs on this album are Common Ground and Descent into the Maelstrom, the latter of which shares a title with a totally different yet amazingly ass-kicking song by Australia’s Radio Birdman. You really can’t go wrong with any Wo Fat album. Psychedelonaut slays with tunes like Analog Man, and The Black Code is a masterpiece with Hurt at Gone and Sleep of the Black Lotus, a title I believe to be inspired by my favorite Conan story Queen of the Black Coast, about a female pirate.


Orange Goblin: Time Travelling Blues.

I never heard an album I didn’t like from Orange Goblin, but this is the one that stays in heavy rotation. From the rumbling drum riff that opens to album to the closing song that shares the album’s title, it’s such a hefty slab of rock and roll that I usually listen to it twice in a row. The title song’s declaration “We own the sky” has become a recurring motif in Mags’ stories, and her band covers it in their concert in Blind Alley Blues.


Black Angels: Passover.

I attended a Black Angels concert last October in downtown Phoenix, and the music was so simultaneously heavy and beautiful. These cats annihilate me. The band hails from Austin, Texas, but I first heard them courtesy of the Europeans who run my other favorite Internet radio station, GRRR Radio. GRRR Radio’s streaming URL is: http://pstnet5.shoutcastnet.com:50390 This album doesn’t have what is perhaps my favorite Black Angels song, Currency, but it’s damned amazing all the way through. Black Grease and Bloodhounds on My Trail are my faves on this one.