audiObelisk Transmission 062

Posted in Podcasts on July 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk podcast 62

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It’s easy when you’re putting one of these things together to get locked into a headspace and all of a sudden everything you’re putting next to each other kind of sounds the same, kind of blurs together. I’m immensely pleased to say that’s not at all what happened this time around. The sounds throughout vary from heavy psych to rock to proggy jams to Blaak Heat who are on their own wavelength entirely to doom and space rock and so on. It flows though. I’m really happy with how it flows.

That includes the second hour, which has a couple different vibes as opposed to just the usual all-psych head-trip. Also, as you make your way through, keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is coming from debut albums. Moon Rats, Kabbalah, Eternal Black, Mindkult, The Raynbow, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree. Hell, Steak’s track is their second album, and Youngblood Supercult too, so yeah, there’s a lot of fresh stuff included from newer bands. I didn’t come into it with a plan at all. This is just how it worked out, which of course is more fun anyway.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Moon Rats, “Highway Lord” from Highway Lord
0:03:36 Youngblood Supercult, “The Hot Breath of God” from The Great American Death Rattle
0:07:31 Kabbalah, “Phantasmal Planetoid” from Spectral Ascent
0:12:11 Wretch, “The Wretch” from Bastards Born
0:20:25 Steak, “Creeper” from No God to Save
0:24:28 Eternal Black, “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” from Bleed the Days
0:31:44 Mindkult, “Howling Witch” from Lucifer’s Dream
0:36:51 Shooting Guns, “Flavour Country” from Flavour Country
0:45:04 Endless Boogie, “Vibe Killer” from Vibe Killer
0:53:22 Blaak Heat, “Marr El Kallam” from The Arabian Fuzz 7”
0:57:55 The Grand Astoria, “The Sleeper Awakes” from The Fuzz of Destiny

Second Hour:

1:02:45 Eggnogg, “Overture / Wild Goose Chase” from Rituals in Transfigured Time – Prologue
1:16:06 Elara, “Harmonia” from Deli Bal
1:31:41 Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, “Sail Away I” from Medicine
1:45:50 The Raynbow, “Changes” from The Cosmic Adventure

Total running time: 2:01:51

 

Thank you for listening.

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Six Dumb Questions with Tim Granda of Planet of Doom

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tim granda

As Riff Lodge Animation was making the first announcements about what its animated film, The Planet of Doom, would entail in the process of partnering different artists and bands with each other to tell an overarching narrative written by David Paul Seymour and animated/directed by Tim Granda, it was obvious it would be a significant undertaking. That has proven to be the case even when one factors in the successful Kickstarter campaign launched to fund the endeavor, and with no fewer than 17 bands and 12 graphic artists locked in to participate — plus more to be announced — it’s an achievement even in the making in terms of the logistics and coordination involved on the part of Seymour and Granda.

The Planet of Doom stands in the tradition of music-driven animated tales like Heavy Metal, telling a tale wound around warriors and revenge and motorcycles in space, and so on. With an accompanying soundtrack set to feature Wo Fat, Orchid, Cirith Ungol, Slomatics, Mos Generator, Elephant Tree, Slow Season, Phillip Cope (ex-Kylesa), Vokonis, Messa, Mother Crone, the just-confirmed Space Witch, as well as Destroyer of Light, Order of the Owl, Ironweed and Granda himself, one anticipates it will lack nothing for heft, and as both Granda and Seymour will design their own chapters along with Skinner, Adam Burke, Alexis Ziritt, Jason Cruz, Burney, Simon Berndt, Brian Profilio, Maarten Donders, Gorgeous George and Forrest Cavacco, there’s no less visual scope involved than audio. It’s a massive, comprehensive project.

Accordingly, it’s going to be a while before it comes together. Still, Granda was kind enough to take some time out recently to discuss where he and Seymour are in the film’s making, how the idea and screenplay came about, some of the details of the plot, what’s involved in bringing bands and artists together, music as a storytelling vehicle and more. You can find the complete Q&A, along with some screen grabs of the work in progress and a test animation of The Planet of Doom‘s opening, below.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

THE PLANET OF DOOM LOGO

Six Dumb Questions with Tim Granda of Riff Lodge Animation & The Planet of Doom

How did The Planet of Doom come about? What inspired you to take up a project of this magnitude? How much was Heavy Metal an inspiration?

When David Paul Seymour left his 9 to 5 job to strike out on his own, I half-jokingly mentioned to him that we now had time to make an animated movie. To my surprise, he was thrilled with the idea, and from there we had many conversations about what we’d like to do. David had written a story a while back that we thought would be perfect to build a film around, and after a few tweaks, like moving the location from Asia to Europe, we were off and running.

The film Heavy Metal was a big inspiration to us. We’ve been huge fans of both the film and magazine ever since we were kids. When the magazine shared the news of our Kickstarter last year we were beyond stoked.

In addition to Heavy Metal, there were a lot of films from that era that made an impression on us. Stuff like Fantastic Planet and Gandahar by René Laloux, and just about everything by Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, American Pop, Wizards). All of these films proved that animation can be more than just kids’ fare. Unfortunately, the medium has become soft and cute again, so it would be awesome if this film could help usher in a new wave of animation aimed at adults.

Tell me about the process of picking and coordinating with different artists to get them involved. Frankly, it sounds like a nightmare from a logistical standpoint. Do different bands require different styles of art?

When we we’re starting out, it was decided that David would come up with a list of bands to reach out to while I’d focus on the artists. There ended up being some crossover, but that’s the general approach we took. The majority of folks we reached out to jumped at the chance to come onboard, and we were thrilled at the level of enthusiasm we were seeing for the project. It all came together really fast, much quicker than David and I anticipated.

Initially, we’d let folks pick the chapter that interested them, but as time went on, we did some reshuffling with the matchups to bring folks together who’d really nail a specific section of the story. Grouping Maarten Donders with Messa was one of them, as was Gorgeous George and Slow Season. In the end, I think we struck a killer balance of calculated moves and “happy accidents,” where a band/artist combo came together by chance that was better than what we could’ve imagined.

Is there an overarching story to the film or is it vignettes? Can you talk about some of what we can expect in terms of plot?

The film is your classic revenge tale, in which our hero, Halvar, sets out to defeat the deadly beast Mördvél for the slaying of his bride. While the roots of this type of story go back to ancient myths and fables, we feel it’s the film’s presentation that will make it unique.

One of the things we loved about Heavy Metal was the format. We really dug how the style of art changed from one sequence to the next, as if you were reading an issue of their magazine. But rather than use a plot device like the “Loc-Nar” to tie a series of unrelated segments together, we wanted to stick to one story that’s split up into a series of chapters, with each being told by a different band and artist.

An idea I had from the start was not to use any dialogue, and instead let the bands tell the story through their lyrics, sharing the task of narrator, more or less. The process generally went like this: each band was given only a brief description of their chapter by David so they’d have the freedom to add to the story as they saw fit. From there, I’d expand upon the lyrics and David’s outline by writing lots of additional scenes in a detailed, shot-by-shot screenplay that’s timed to the music. This would then be passed along to the band’s artist to create a storyboard from.

What issues have you come up against in making the film? How have you dealt with setbacks or these challenges?

Though it’s been a year since the launch of our Kickstarter, we couldn’t start production until we knew we had the funds to pay everybody. After the Kickstarter was successful, bands were given the green light to start writing their original music. As you can imagine, that’s not something that happens overnight. Bands might be touring, or taking some time off, but ultimately, they would all need to find the time to get together and write then book a studio. We also had some bands and artists who bailed, and a few that we had to let go, so that slows down the process too. Ultimately, it all worked out for the best because we couldn’t be more stoked with the talent we have working on the film.

Fortunately, nearly all the music has now been turned in. Screenplays have gone out to their respective artists, and we’ve approved quite a few storyboards from them already. Right now I’m animating the chapter featuring musician Phillip Cope and artist Skinner, and after that I’ll be moving on to David’s and Mos Generator’s. Approved art is coming in all the time so I’ll be jumping from one spot in the film to the next as stuff comes in.

What’s the timeline on completion? How much is left to do?

I’m hoping to have the film done by the end of 2018, which is going to be quite an undertaking since I’m the only animator. The artists in the film are only supplying me with a stack of drawings; they won’t be the ones animating their work. It’s my job to cut up all the art into thousands of pieces and bring it all to life. The process is long and laborious, so while we’re shooting for 2018, it may come in later than that.

The Planet of Doom website

The Planet of Doom on Thee Facebooks

The Planet of Doom on Instagram

The Planet of Doom at IMDB

Riff Lodge Animation webstore

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Dee Calhoun Announces New Novella Jesus, Devil, Deed Due Aug. 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

dee calhoun

It’s always awesome to see an artist hit a real creative stride, and though Dee Calhoun‘s main band, Iron Man, aren’t doing much at the moment, the vocalist known for his Halfordian shriek is hardly letting that slow him down. 2015 saw the issue of his first book project in a collection of short stories, and on Aug. 9, he’ll follow that up with a new novella titled Jesus, Devil, Deed. This is taking place even as Calhoun also prepares for the Argonauta Records release of his second solo album, Go to the Devil, which is landing on a quick turnaround from his 2016 just-because-it’s-unplugged-don’t-mean-it-ain’t-metal debut, Rotgut (review here).

So yeah, nothing about this not to like, as far as I’m concerned. Creativity flourishes, abounds and whatnot. Info about the book follows, as posted by the author himself:

dee calhoun jesus devil deed

Argonauta Recording Artist Dee Calhoun (aka “Screaming Mad Dee”), the voice of doom metal legends IRON MAN, has announced the release of his novella JESUS, DEVIL, DEED.

This novella marks Dee’s second venture into fiction writing; his first book, a collection of short stories called TALES OF THE SCREAMING AND MAD, was released in late 2015.

JESUS, DEVIL, DEED is the story of a broken man who petitions Christ for the return of his once devoted soul, so that he may sell it to Satan. The story is an expansion of the tale told in Dee’s song “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed,” which will appear on his upcoming album GO TO THE DEVIL, due later this year from Argonauta Records.

“It’s a story of desperation, exasperation, and of where one should ultimately place one’s faith and dependence,” Dee said. “It began as a song, and the song only tells a very condensed, basic version of the story. It’s almost like a twisted, modern version of the Crossroads myth, and it was great fun to flesh the tale out to see how the events fully unfolded.”

JESUS, DEVIL, DEED continues what has been a very productive year creatively for the singer/songwriter from Frederick, MD. In addition to this novella and GO TO THE DEVIL, Dee has also narrated Bruce Moore’s upcoming Christian Metal documentary METAL MISSIONARIES (due September 1st), and is fronting new Maryland-based heavy rockers THEE IRON HAND.

JESUS, DEVIL, DEED will be available on Wednesday August 9, 2017 via Amazon.com, CreateSpace eStore, and other online retailers. Dee will also have copies available at his live shows.

News regarding this and other things Dee-related can be found on his website, www.screamingmaddee.com.

https://www.facebook.com/screamingmaddee/
http://www.screamingmaddee.com

Dee Calhoun, Jesus, Devil, Deed teaser video

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Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Medicine: Walking Trails

Posted in Reviews on July 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bees-made-honey-in-the-vein-tree-medicine

Primarily, Medicine feels like an exploration of depth. Not just in the sense of asking how low they can go in terms of tone, but what kind of distance can they set up between those lows and highs, how far can a song stretch from one end to the other before, like taffy, it is pulled apart. Excitingly, the cumbersomely-named Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree (as opposed, one assumes, to doing so in the lion’s skull, à la Earth) never find out, and their five-song/46-minute first full-length stands among 2017’s strongest — and most weighted — heavy psychedelic releases as a result. The Stuttgart, Germany, four-piece recorded Medicine late in Fall 2016 at Milberg Studios and issued it themselves digitally and on CD in January, but a Pink Tank Records vinyl edition brings it to a well-deserved wider distribution and positions the work of guitarist/vocalist/cover artist Simon Weinreich, guitarist Lucas Dreher, bassist/graphic designer Christopher Popowitsch and drummer/vocalist Marc Dreher (relation to Lucas presumed) as particularly satisfying in its blend of extended, jammed-out instrumental sections and denser tonality.

Without losing sight of their core mission, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree proffer liquefied flow between and within their tracks, coming across as cohesive and patient as a cut like the 14-minute penultimate “Sail Away I” demonstrates in unfolding lines of intertwining guitar and bass held together by the underlying drums on a steady, immersive build that’s warm, headphone-ready, melodically rich and hypnotic without being meandering. Medicine works quickly in that song’s echoing spaces and those of the 10-minute opener “Every Night I Walk the Same Trail of Thought” to earn a place as one of the best debuts of the year.

One can hear the influence of Colour Haze in some of the more open stretches, and that never hurts, but even more than the Munich-based progenitors of the style, Medicine directly reminds of the 2010 debut from Dutch trio Sungrazer. That’s not a comparison I make lightly, and while some of the fuzz that coats the driving first crescendo (preceding the crashing second one) of “Sail Away I” might draw a sonic line in that direction, it’s one even more about the act of blending heavy rock and psych impulses in a specific way and with an overarching naturalism that becomes a righteously defining element. If I note that Medicine might be the most engaging heavy psych debut I’ve heard since Sungrazer‘s self-titled, it will invariably sound like hyperbole, but I’m hard pressed to think of more than a handful of first offerings that have brought forth the same clearheaded idea of what they wanted to do and realize it in the same way. If nothing else, it sets Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree on a path of becoming a truly special kind of band, and one whose impact, in the tradition of Samsara Blues Experiment or Black Moon Circle or others building memorable songs out of jams, may resonate over a longer term.

bees made honey in the vein tree

Structurally, Medicine benefits greatly from starting its two sides with the longer pieces. “Every Night I Walk the Same Trail of Thought” begins so quietly that at first one might be tempted to double-check that it’s actually playing, and while neither “Burn the Sun” (7:40) nor “Medicine” (6:38) slouches in terms of runtime, there’s a notable departure from the shimmering guitar that sounds the opener’s first notes toward crunchier-riffed push as “Burn the Sun” gets moving. There’s still space for space, to be sure, but even as the guitars air out leads late before turning to the heads-down riff that brings the song to its end, there’s an undercurrent of low-end heft behind them that makes for both counterpoint and complement. Likewise, the title-cut and centerpiece launches open and jammy to foreshadow some of the post-rock elements still to come in closer “Sail Away II” (6:54), but makes its way after the two-minute mark via feedback into a heavier plod that would seem to be the source of the band’s claim on an aspect of doom within their approach. It’s slow and heavy, anyhow. In context, the mood doesn’t necessarily feel down or dark in the way one might expect, but to quibble about self-imposed genre tags feels like missing the point. There’s a fluidity there. Better to go with it.

And Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree make a convincing argument for doing so, which turns out to be one of Medicine‘s great strengths. Its tracks earn the listener’s trust such that following the band along the trail they’re walking becomes an absolute joy rather than something done tentatively, and the jammier vibe of “Sail Away I” and willful delve into post-rocking drift in “Sail Away II” gracefully expand on what side A accomplishes before them, “Sail Away I” resolving itself in blown-out echoing vocals and a nodding apex, and the finale holding to its peaceful guitar progression even as some of Medicine‘s heftiest lumbering plays out beneath. That last emphasis on the two sides meeting head on in Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree‘s work serves to highlight the duality at work across the album’s entirety, but it’s not a staid thing by any means, and it wouldn’t work if it was.

The band are clearly comfortable in adjusting the balance to suit the needs of their material, and whether that’s done consciously in arranging parts and pieces or something that just comes out of different jams, it’s no less crucial to Medicine‘s ultimate success. There’s a telling moment after “Sail Away II” has blissed itself into final lines of fading guitar when we hear a chair creak and what sounds like drum sticks get laid down. It’s over. These quick, last few seconds are an effective acknowledgement that Medicine is intended to convey a live experience — it may well have been recorded live, I don’t know — and Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, who’ve already proliferated such an organic chemistry, seem to hint that along with the exploration of spaciousness at work throughout their material, the corresponding message with that is that the direction in which they’re headed has been plotted naturally, i.e. in an unforced manner. One can only hope they continue to tread the path Medicine lays out before them.

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Medicine (2017)

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree on Thee Facebooks

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree on Bandcamp

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree at Pink Tank Records

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Zom Sign to Argonauta Records; Announce Debut Album Nebulos

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Pittsburgh duo Zom, founded by members of Brimstone Coven and Monolith Wielder, have announced the title of their debut full-length as Nebulos. Slated for release presumably late in 2017 or early in 2018, the album will be released by Argonauta Records as part of that Italian label’s ever-expanding roster — which also includes the aforementioned Monolith Wielder, in which drummer Ben Zerbe plays as well — and will reportedly feature tracks from Zom‘s 2013 self-titled EP (review here), as well as brand new material.

Should be interesting to hear how the two mix together when the time comes, but details on Nebulos beyond the title and basic construction are sparse as yet, so I’m guessing it could be a while. Still, here’s the announcement from Argonauta, because, you know, it’s been a couple days since they signed a band, so they were due:

zom

ZOM signed to ARGONAUTA Records; new single and video-clip running now

ARGONAUTA Records is excited to announce to have inked a deal with Pittsburgh based Heavy Rock trio ZOM.

ZOM is a monstrous force of heavy rock n’ roll full of stinky, stoner grooves and grab-you-by-the-throat hooks. ZOM goes straight to the gut and doesn’t hold back on its relentless attack on the senses.

“We are thrilled to join such an impressive roster at Argonauta Records! Argonauta gives us the opportunity to have ZOM reach the ears of people around the world. We put our heart and soul into this album and we’re emboldened by the confidence that Argonauta has in our unique style. We couldn’t be more proud of this record and it’s an honor to be on a strong label with so many great bands.” — Gero von Dehn

In 2014, experienced and multifaceted music vets Gero von Dehn (MONOLITH WIELDER) and Andrew D’Cagna (BRIMSTONE COVEN) joined forces for ZOM’s debut self titled EP limited to a
release of under 100 copies.

Now in 2017, ZOM is back with newly recorded material as well as some additions. This new material will be released along with fully remastered versions of the original tracks from the self titled EP.

“The release of our full length NEBULOS via Argonauta Records is an exciting opportunity indeed. We’ve always felt these songs were special and strong, they just need to reach the right ears of the right audience at the right time. Thankfully that day has come to light!” — Andrew D’Cagna

With ZOM finally getting around to going out on the road some new members have been enlisted. Von Dehn is still on vocals and guitar, while D’Cagna remains on bass. Ben Zerbe (Monolith Wielder) is on drums for the new tracks and the rest of the touring band is being assembled.

“So glad to be releasing this album with Argonauta. It’s an honor to be asked by Gero and Andrew to join this powerful monster that they started a couple years ago. We’re excited for the release and the new markets that Argonauta will help us reach.” — Ben Zerbe

www.facebook.com/ZOM-189166947896954/
https://zom-rock.bandcamp.com/music
http://www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/

ZOM, “Solitary” official video

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Stinkeye Post “No Spoon” Video; Debut Album out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye

Phoenix, Arizona, bringers-of-fuzzy-shenanigans Stinkeye released their debut full-length, Llantera, last month, just prior to hitting the road on a tour along the Pacific Coast to support it. They’ve been selling CDs at shows, tapes can be preordered ahead of an Aug. 5 issue through Blade Records and one can purchase the album via iTunes — it’s not currently on their Bandcamp — but if it’s mainly at shows for now or the three-piece is working out something else for a vinyl release, then fair enough. I dug the hell out of their 2016 four-tracker, Llantera Demos (review here), and Llantera proper is a more than worthy follow-up — not just because it happens to work in all four of those songs, either.

I think you can both hear and see my reasoning in the video below for “No Spoon,” directed by Andrew Hosley. A young band comprised of Hosley on guitar/vocals, Harris Smull on bass and Anthony DeMuro on drums, Stinkeye effectively bring together elements of grunge, fuzz rock and heavy psych, and with a laid back garage-style roll, their vibe is languid and tripped out. The clip follows suit with a weirdo edge that feels like it was born in the ’90s much as the band themselves probably were. Maybe. In either case, whatever’s up with Llantera, officially it’s been put out once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got nabbed somewhere along the line for vinyl issue by this or that label, since the trio groove so fluidly across its span and even in the sphere of West Coast heavy psych, what they’re doing stands out as being less ’70s derived and more about depth than the shuffle. It’s an easy one to dig.

And of course, I hope you do precisely that as regards the “No Spoon” clip, which you’ll find immediately following here:

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

“time slips away, down the gutter, and into space”

Artist: Stinkeye
Song: No Spoon
Album: LLANTERA
Label: Milwaukee Junction Records

Song Produced and Engineered by Dylan Thomas.

Video produced and edited by Andrew Hosley / Filmed by Bailey Price and Morgan Richmeier.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

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Review & Track Premiere: Brant Bjork, Europe ’16

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

brant-bjork-europe-16

[Click play above to hear ‘Controllers Destroyed’ from Brant Bjork’s live album Europe ’16, out Sept. 22 via Napalm Records.]

One severely doubts it’s a coincidence that a Brant Bjork set would start with “Buddha Time (Everything Fine).” That laid back, instrumental, rolling desert groove speaks to an aspect of Europe ’16 that’s apparent before the needle even hits the wax of the Napalm Records release, and that’s the manner in which Bjork — whose career pedigree in as drummer/songwriter in Kyuss and Vista Chino, drummer in Fu Manchu, guitarist/vocalist in Ché and multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and songwriter in the various incarnations of his solo work from Brant Bjork to Brant Bjork and the OperatorsBrant Bjork and the Bros. and Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band has made him the undisputed godfather of desert rock — directly acknowledges the stoner side of who he is and what he does.

It’s right there on the cover of Europe ’16, which is the first official live album of Bjork‘s nearly-20-year solo career which began with 1999’s Jalamanta (discussed here; also here) on Man’s Ruin, a full-length that continues to resonate and inform his soulful, funk-infused delivery to-date, and while so many others of Bjork‘s ilk, geographical cohort and generation have tried to distance themselves from a “stoner” tag, he’s made it a part of his aesthetic. Some might say an essential part, and it’s become a defining piece of the ultra-laid back, groove-ready persona he showcases throughout Europe ’16, which captures 12 tracks and 85 minutes of Brant Bjork on the road last year with The Low Desert Punk Band supporting his two studio albums for Napalm: 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) — both of which, it’s worth noting, were of a similar leafy theme in terms of their artwork.

Is it fair, then, to think of Europe ’16 as the third in a trilogy of offerings for NapalmBjork has said openly that Tao of the Devil was the final studio outing on his contract for the Austrian imprint, and if one presumes a three-album deal, then it’s quite possible Europe ’16 is the farewell piece. If so, it marks a righteous summary of what Bjork has accomplished as a songwriter and performer over the last few years, returning to solo output after a successful run with Vista Chino following much tumult around touring as Kyuss Lives! and the also-Napalm-backed issue of 2013’s Peace (review here) offering with that band.

Highlighting cuts from Black Power Flower like “Controllers Destroyed,” the aforementioned mindset-setting opener “Buddha Time (Everything Fine)” and the later “Stokely up Now,” and even more from Tao of the Devil in “Humble Pie,” “Stackt,” “The Gree Heen,” as well as the later and more extended jams “Dave’s War/Dave’s Peace” (based on “Dave’s War” from the record) and “Biker No. 2,” Europe ’16 finds Bjork, guitarist Bubba DuPree (formerly of Void), bassist Dave Dinsmore (Ché) and drummer Ryan Güt at the proverbial top of their game in terms of chemistry, and of all the times Bjork could have issued a live album over the last decade-plus, it’s easy to hear why now would be an obvious choice.

brant bjork photo kip dawkins

Joined by guest vocalist Sean Wheeler in the second half of the set, this incarnation of Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band saunter through pieces from Bjork‘s substantial catalog like “Low Desert Punk” and “Lazy Bones/Automatic Fantastic” from Jalamanta, “Freaks of Nature” from 2007’s Somera Sól and “Let the Truth be Known” from 2005’s Saved by Magic, and while live albums rarely exist that don’t make the performing act come out on the positive side — that is, nobody wants to put out a shitty-sounding show — neither does Europe ’16 shy away from the rawer side of the band’s presentation, especially as regards Wheeler‘s vocals in “Biker No. 2” and “Freaks of Nature” and the natural movement and flow of the group’s jams, which unfold beginnings and endings organically here, sounding unretouched and all the more engaging for that. Whether or not it’s the last in a series of three, Europe ’16 is a document of an era in Bjork‘s career that has not only seen a rise in his profile, but resulted in some of the most memorable material he’s ever written.

To wit, songs like “Stackt” and “Humble Pie” not only stand up to the landmark riff of “Automatic Fantastic,” but they underscore the progression that’s played out over time and a span of 11 LPs in Bjork‘s approach, and by embracing a jammier vibe later in the set in “Dave’s War/Dave’s Peace,” “Biker No. 2,” “Freaks of Nature,” “Low Desert Punk” and “Let the Truth be Known,” which includes a finale take on the Rolling Stones‘ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Europe ’16 sets an immersive trajectory that feels true to the live experience. Of course, there’s a big difference between watching a band onstage and soaking in an 85-minute live record, and the latter process is no minor undertaking, but even if one thinks of Europe ’16 as a fan piece, it more than earns its place in Bjork‘s catalog, and the poise with which the band handles its turns and the commanding presence of Bjork at the forefront speak to not only the well-earned maturity of his craft but a showmanship that a studio outing simply wouldn’t be able to bring into focus.

Not saying much in terms of stage banter throughout, the man himself gets on mic before the get-your-ass-stoned advising of “Let the Truth be Known” to thank Berlin specifically after several “dankeschön”s earlier on, and that brings to mind the relationship between desert rock and the EU heavy underground. There’s a bit of irony there, since the Palm Desert scene, as it was in the ’80s and early/mid ’90s and as its legacy has grown in the years since, is so much based on the Californian landscape and American suburban culture, but no question Bjork has become the key ambassador for that movement and for the unique creativity and sound those sands helped to foster.

He’ll head back abroad this fall (dates posted here) to mark the release of Europe ’16 and perhaps take a victory lap with The Low Desert Punk Band before moving on to other projects and ideas (or at least another outlet), but that stint, like this live album built from the last one, should only serve to reaffirm what Black Power Flower and Tao of the Devil continued to establish: that when it comes to desert rock, there’s only one Brant Bjork. Nobody else brings the same level of soul to their sound, the classic feel and the steadiness of vibe that he does, and on Europe ’16, some 17 years after first embarking on a solo career, he continues to show that in new and exciting ways.

Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks

Brant Bjork website

Napalm Records website

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All Them Witches Announce US Tour; “Bulls” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Already at this point All Them Witches have spent a significant portion of 2017 on the road supporting Sleeping Through the War (review here), which came out in February via New West Records. They toured before it hit, they toured in Spring. They did shows in June and just this week wrapped a July run that found them in Israel, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland before finally settling in for shows in the UK. They’ll be back in Europe come Sept./Oct. as well, and were previously confirmed for Desertfest Belgium 2017 (though I don’t see it listed below), and they’ve just added more dates for after they return to the US in November.

Not only are they in full go-go-go mode in spreading the word on the album, but they’ve also got a brand new video for “Bulls” as well. Directed by drummer Robby Staebler, it captures the awesomely atmospheric opening track in such a way that immediately makes me want to put on the rest of the record and dig into it all over again, though that’s kind of my general headspace in terms of Sleeping Through the War anyhow. Some albums never let you wander too far before they pull you back.

Tour dates from the PR wire:

all them witches

ALL THEM WITCHES – MORE TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED

New U.S. dates have been added.

All Them Witches will be on tour throughout the East Coast and Midwest in November. Reserve your tickets now. For a full list of tour dates, head over to AllThemWitches.org

The new album SLEEPING THROUGH THE WAR is available now.

EUROPEAN DATES
SEP 18 • Heimathafen • BERLIN, GERMANY
SEP 19 • Backstage Werk • MUNCHEN, GERMANY
SEP 20 • Arena • VIENNA, AUSTRIA
SEP 22 • Reeperbahn • HAMBURG, GERMANY
SEP 24 • Debaser Strand • STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
SEP 25 • Revolver • OSLO, NORWAY
SEP 26 • Pumpehuset • COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
SEP 28 • The Sugarfactory • AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
SEP 29 • Trabendo • PARIS, FRANCE
SEP 30 • O2 Institute Birmingham • BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM
OCT 1 • Sound Control • MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM
OCT 2 • Whelans • DUBLIN, IRELAND
OCT 3 • King Tuts • GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM
OCT 4 • Wardrobe • LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM
OCT 5 • Koko • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
OCT 7 • Bierkeller • BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM
OCT 8 • Rescue Rooms • NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM
OCT 10 • Les Docks • LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND
OCT 11 • Gloria • COLOGNE, GERMANY
OCT 12 • Das Bett • FRANKFURT, GERMANY
OCT 14 • Gagarin • ATHENS, GREECE

U.S. DATES
NOV 3 • Cat’s Cradle • CARBORRO, NC
NOV 4 • The Southern Cafe and Music Hall • CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA
NOV 5 • Rock & Roll Hotel • WASHINGTON, DC
NOV 7 • The Foundry at The Fillmore • PHILADELPHIA, PA
NOV 8 • Music Hall of Williamsburg • BROOKLYN, NY
NOV 9 • High Ground • SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT
NOV 10 • Fairmount Theatre • MONTREAL, CANADA
NOV 11 • Lee’s Palace • TORONTO, CANADA
NOV 12 • The Bug Jar • ROCHESTER, NY
NOV 14 • Ace of Cups • COLUMBUS, OH
NOV 15 • Hi-Fi • INDIANAPOLIS, IN
NOV 16 • The Mill • IOWA CITY, IA
NOV 17 • Turf Club • ST. PAUL, MN
NOV 18 • The Back Room at Colectivo Coffee • MILWAUKEE, WI

All Them Witches is:
Charles Michael Parks, Jr. – Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Mellotron, Percussion
Ben McLeod – Guitar, Bass, Mellotron, Percussion
Robby Staebler – Drums, Percussion
Allan Van Cleave – Rhodes, Organ, Piano, Mellotron

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-through-the-war
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches

All Them Witches, “Bulls” official video

All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War (2017)

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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