Posted in Features on December 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Welcome to The Obelisk’s Top 20 of 2016 Year-End Poll!
Maximum participation is welcomed and encouraged. By now you know the rules, or if you don’t I’m sure you can guess. Everyone contributes a list of their favorite releases of 2016. I don’t care if it’s an album, EP, single, whatever. Anything that struck your fancy is cool.
All of those picks are rounded up from the form below — it asks for your email just to prove you’re a human being, so please don’t think I’m keeping tabs or selling info or anything like that; I wouldn’t know how even if I wanted to — and will be tabulated at the end of the month. For the last few years, we’ve used a point system wherein a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. Raw votes are of course also counted, and the results from both counts will be posted on New Year’s Day, along with all the lists contributed.
I had a pretty good idea last year what the number one was going to be. What’s 2016’s pick? Not a clue. I’ve got my own list in progress and will be adding it to the poll as well, but I’m dying to see what everyone chooses and what wins out. More than ever it seems there could be multiple options, so if there’s something you feel strongly about, make sure it’s high on your list to get those extra points.
You have my sincere appreciation for contributing your list, and any sharing of the link or commenting or anything else is welcome.
This is meant to be a conversation and a good time, so let’s have at it:
Thanks as always to Slevin for his invaluable assistance in putting this poll together, and to you for reading and taking part in this ongoing experiment. Let’s make this the biggest poll yet.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Psychedelic legends The Crazy World of Arthur Brown have just announced their first US tour dates since 1969. They’ll be joined on the early 2017 run by Electric Citizen, and if you’re reading this, I doubt very seriously you need me to tell you the level of occasion this is. Aside from the sheer performance aspect of what Arthur Brown brought to music, to space rock, to heavy prog and to psychedelia, just the sheer scale of time here makes this one all the more special, as well as the fact that also taking part in the shows will be current bands answering the sonic call that Brown put out all those years ago — from freakout freaks White Hills to nod-riff legends Acid King to doomweavers Pallbearer. I’m sorry, but there’s just no way to lose out on seeing one of these shows.
Of course, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown played Psycho Las Vegas earlier this year, and sure enough, it’s Psycho presenting these shows. You’ll find the full set of their performance at the bottom of this post.
Here’s a press release I wrote, newly circled back from the PR wire:
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown Announces First US Tour in 47 Years!
After a highlight performance at Psycho Las Vegas 2016, hugely influential UK heavy psychedelic progressive oddities The Crazy World of Arthur Brown announce their 2017 “ZIM ZAM ZIM” tour – their first run of US shows since 1969.
The God of Hellfire himself, Arthur Brown, will be celebrating 50 years since releasing the debut single “Devil’s Grip,” which helped shape the British and worldwide psychedelic movement. Pushing theatrics to their dystopian hellscape limits would earn Brown acolytes in everyone from David Bowie and Alice Cooper to KISS, Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga to the entire genre of black metal, and his influence continues to spread today.
“Last time I toured US with the Crazy World was early 1969,” Brown confirms. “It was our third tour there. At the time, the band had been headlining massive festivals, alongside Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Jefferson Airplane, and other top attractions of the time. Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper were still only mildly famous, somewhere down the bill.”
ZIM ZAM ZIM takes its name from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s latest album, released in 2014. They’ll be joined on this landmark trip by Ohio rockers Electric Citizen, and shows will feature generational sonic offspring like White Hills, Acid King, Pallbearer, Danava and Jex Thoth.
Psycho Las Vegas presents
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN w/ Electric Citizen
ZIM ZAM ZIM – USA TOUR 2017
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
In what’s no doubt a grueling chronicle of the Bay Area’s culture clash between the creative class and the tech sector, Oakland heavy noise rockers Dealer make their debut in Feb. 2017 with Billionaire Boys Club. The trio have a somewhat tumultuous background for a band putting out their first record, with changes in the construction of the lineup, a cessation of activity and whatnot along their way to entering the studio this past summer with Brainoil‘s Greg Wilkinson behind the board, but as they introduce the album with the track “A.M. Gold,” streaming below, they’d seem to have effectively channeled that instability into sonic propulsion. I’d expect the outing to follow to be pretty brash based on what I’m hearing here, and that’s cool by me. California needs harsh heavy punk to keep it honest.
To the PR wire:
Oakland trio DEALER to release debut album Billionaire Boys Club in February | Stream and share new song ‘AM Gold’
Billionaire Boys Club will be released worldwide on Wicked World Records on 17th February 2017
The exact moment of Dealer’s formation is almost impossible to pin down. Lost in a fug of thick smoke, alcohol and noise; somewhere and someplace out of time and mind.
Tentatively starting out life as Sexless – featuring founding member Kevin Klausen on guitar/vocals and fellow Los Angelean Samantha Mancino on drums – the duo would make a habit of throwing open jam sessions to anyone in earshot. Years prior and by his own admission, Klausen had lost heart after numerous false starts attempting to form his own band and gave up on making music to assume the mantle of tour manager for close friends, The Shrine. Helping the band across Europe and struck by their professionalism, after years on the road he returned in the Spring of 2013 with a handful of songs and a newfound focus.
“After seeing all these straight ahead rock and roll bands everywhere we went, I was really eager to start my own project but wanted to do something totally different,” explains Klausen. “We started out as this grungy weirdo dissonant punk band. In the early days we treated it more like a sort of art statement rather than a categorical band, it was really abstract and fun but in a way very naive.”
Relocating to Oakland, Sexless performed their first few shows with whatever bassist they could land until the night they met Aaron Cundy of local outfit Easy Living. Followed soon after by the conscription of John Zamora on drums after the departure of Mancino they soon hit upon the sound they were seeking. Sorely shredding their way through discordant moments of pre-punk history – often in a crazed reverie of hard rock solos and cocksure hellfire – they stalked the grooves of Black Flag’s Slip It In and the riffs of Voivod’s Killing Technology. All the while, sporting the sharpest Canadian tuxedos they could find.
When Zamora eventually chose to leave the band in May 2015, Klausen and Cundy sought total reformation. Drafting in new drummer Darien McKinney for shows with the likes of The Shrine, Ho99o9, Lecherous Gaze and Joy, they performed their final gig as Sexless on 4th June 2016 before entering Earhammer Studios to record their debut album with producer Greg Wilkinson (Iron Lung, Graves at Sea, Lecherous Gaze) just two days later. A proposed, “cocktail of heavy metal, punk, grunge and rock and roll,” the trio emerged with Billionaire Boys Club in hand as Dealer; the Leather-Era…
Released on LP, CD, digital and cassette Billionaire Boys Club is released worldwide on Wicked World Records on 17th February 2017.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Been a long time since I last saw Swedish masters of melancholy Katatonia, and I have to say I wouldn’t mind catching a gig at Irving Plaza in NYC in April to see them close out a North American headlining run in support of earlier 2016’s The Fall of Hearts. The intervening months will tell if I actually get there — one struggles with the four-hour drive to New York these days — but it’s a formidable month-plus Katatonia will spend on the road either way, so wherever you might be throughout the continent, from Edmonton to Charlotte, they seem to be looking to cover all, or at least most, of their bases this time around. Like they say below, it’s been three and a half years since the last time they were over here. I guess that makes them about due.
Also 10 years in 2017 since The Great Cold Distance, which they’ll reissue deluxe-style in January. This year marked 15 since Last Fair Deal Gone Down, if you needed further evidence of time in flight. Bizarre.
Copious info and dates from the PR wire:
KATATONIA ANNOUNCE “FALLEN HEARTS OF NORTH AMERICA 2017” HEADLINE TOUR
Katatonia, the Swedish purveyors of dark progressive rock/metal, have announced they will be heading out on a headline tour of North America in March and April 2017 to support the release of their latest studio album The Fall of Hearts.
Founding Katatonia member and guitarist Anders Nyström comments, “We did three North American tours in support for Dead End Kings and it’s been three-and-a-half years since the last one when we toured with Cult of Luna, so having already embraced the new cycle of The Fall of Hearts over here, we are eager to once again cross the Atlantic to continue from where we left off and to reap what we planted over there.”
Vocalist Jonas Renkse introduces the bands they have chosen to join them on the tour, saying, “We are very excited to finally announce our headline tour in North America for The Fall of Hearts. Also invited for this run are post-rock titans Caspian and young, promising act Uncured. Come out and celebrate the downfall of hearts (and everything else) with us.”
The Fallen Hearts of North America 2017 Dates: Thu/Mar-16 Washington, DC 9:30 Club Fri/Mar-17 Cleveland, OH Agora Sat/Mar-18 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Smalls Sun/Mar-19 Charlotte, NC The Underground Tue/Mar-21 St. Petersburg, FL State Theatre Thu/Mar-23 New Orleans, LA Republic Fri/Mar-24 Houston, TX Scout Bar Sat/Mar-25 Austin, TX Grizzly Hall Sun/Mar-26 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Bar & Grill Tue/Mar-28 Mesa, AZ Club Red Wed/Mar-29 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre Fri/Mar-31 Pomona, CA The Glass House Sat/Apr-01 San Francisco CA Slim’s Mon/Apr-03 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre Tue/Apr-04 Seattle, WA Studio Seven Wed/Apr-05 Vancouver, BC Venue Fri/Apr-07 Calgary, AB The Gateway Sat/Apr-08 Edmonton, AB Starlite Room Mon/Apr-10 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex Tue/Apr-11 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall Wed/Apr-12 Lincoln, NE Bourbon Theatre Fri/Apr-14 Minneapolis Fine Line Sat/Apr-15 Chicago, IL Metro Sun/Apr-16 Detroit, MI Majestic Theater Mon/Apr-17 Toronto, ON The Opera House Wed/Apr-19 Montreal, QC Club Soda Thu/Apr-20 Philadelphia, PA The TLA Fri/Apr-21 New York, NY Irving Plaza
Formed back in 1991 and hailed as one of the leaders of the death-doom genre along My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema, Sweden’s Katatonia have spent the last 25 years ever-changing and evolving to become the much loved purveyors of dark progressive rock/metal we know today.
Their latest studio album The Fall OF Hearts, the official follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed Dead End Kings was recorded at Stockholm’s Studio Gröndahl & Tri-lamb Studio, and was self-produced by Anders Nyström & Jonas Renkse. Mixing and mastering duties were carried out by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Ihsahn, Devin Townsend) at Fascination Street Studios, with Karl Daniel Lidén (Switchblade, The Ocean, Greenleaf) brought in as engineer. It is the first record to feature new drummer Daniel ’Mojjo’ Moilanen and guitarist Roger Öjersson (Tiamat).
A new, two-disc tour edition of The Fall of Hearts is due for release on March 17, 2017 through Peaceville, the new version will feature live tracks taken from the band’s show and the band’s show in the Ancient Theater in Plovdiv Bulgaria in September 2016.
January 20, 2017 also sees the release of a limited edition tenth anniversary version of their class album The Great Cold Distance. This new, four-disc deluxe hardback 40 page, book edition of the album. It will include three bonus discs featuring B-sides and bonus songs, a new 5.1 remix of the album by Bruce Soord (Wisdom Of Crowds) and a live album of Katatonia playing the The Great Cold Distance in its entirety with the renowned Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria, performed in September 2016. The design of this essential tenth anniversary edition has once again been taken care of by long time collaborator Travis Smith. pre-order here and here.
Swedish cultists Year of the Goat are getting ready to release their new seven-incher Song of Winter this Friday, Dec. 9, via Napalm Records. They made their debut in 2015 through the same imprint with their second full-length, The Unspeakable, and with the leadoff A-side of the single, they’re moving forward from that album toward their next one and an early-2017 push that will find them on the road in Jan./Feb. alongside countrymen/labelmate doomers The Order of Israfel and Norwegian heavy-hitters Tombstones, keeping their momentum going from the last few years and perhaps making sure the proper demons are exorcized and/or represented in new material before they hit the studio to bring their third album to fruition.
One can hear traces of the original version of “Song of Winter” in Year of the Goat‘s version. Released by Parisian singer/actress/model Francoise Hardy on 1969’s One-Nine-Seven-Zero, it has a duly haunting melody bolstered by the Norrköping six-piece’s arrangement of guitar and Mellotron and a light, poetic simplicity to the lyrics that speaks to the era from which it comes and resonates even now, the better part of half a century later. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for any song that features lines like, “I’m a misty rainbow.” In any case, “Song of Winter” earns its art deco cover, and if it’s offering a glimpse at where Year of the Goat might be headed, then the modern sensibility they bring to the classic structure bodes well to say the least. Presumably we’ll see how it all works out sometime before the end of 2017.
The band offers some insight on “Song of Winter” under the lyric video, which you’ll find below. Also down there are the dates for the aforementioned tour, should you happen to be or find yourself in that part of the world when it’s happening.
Year of the Goat, “Song of Winter” lyric video
Year of the Goat on “Song of Winter”:
“For many years Francoise Hardy has been part of our playlist while on the road. As soon as ‘Song of Winter’ played, the thought that we really should do a cover of it at some point always presented itself. Lyrically we find it going very well with the theme of our first album and also with the one we’re planning at the moment. The B-side on the other hand lyrically draws more towards our second album, The Unspeakable. One could probably say that the wonderful and talented Francoise Hardy is helping us build a bridge between our last album and the one to come.”
Year of the Goat, “Song of Winter” limited gold 7″ 1. Song of Winter (Side A 2. Strange Shadows (Side B)
Strictly Limited Napalm Records Mailorder Edition to 200 Copies in GOLDEN Vinyl. EXCLUSIVELY AVAILABLE VIA THE NAPALM RECORDS MAILORDER AND ONLINE STORE.
Year of the Goat European tour w/ The Order of Israfel & Tombstones: 28.01.17 DE – Berlin / Badehaus 29.01.17 DE – Osnabrück / Bastard Club 30.01.17 DE – Hamburg / Hafenklang 31.01.17 DE – Wiesbaden / Schlachthof 01.02.17 NL – Arnhem / Willemeen 02.02.17 UK – London / Underworld 04.02.17 TBA 06.02.17 CH – Olten / Coq D’Or 07.02.17 IT – Milano / Lo Fi 08.02.17 DE – Munich / Backstage 09.02.17 AT – Vienna / Viper Room 10.02.17 DE – Leipzig / UT Connewitz 11.02.17 DE – Siegen / Vortex
Year of the Goat is: Thomas Sabbathi – vocals, guitar Jonas Mattsson – guitar Don Palmroos – guitar Fredrik Hellerström – drums Joona Hassinen – bass Pope – mellotron, vocals
[Click play above to stream Leafy’s self-titled debut in full. Album is out Dec. 9 on More Fuzz Records.]
Because they’re so effective when they lock into a forward drive like that in the chorus of second cut “Can You See Them,” it’s easy to lose sight of the largesse in atmosphere and the wall of fuzz that Norwegian heavy rockers Leafy bring to their More Fuzz Records self-titled debut. But that largesse is there and is a constant in tying the six-track/33-minute offering together, the band’s post-Truckfighters momentum-minded grooves propelled through by guitarist/backing vocalist Josh “Mr. Yoshi” Bisama, whose riffing is front and center throughout with support from bassist Enyeto Kotori (since replaced by Marcus “Marco el Róbalo” Billington), drummer Per “Señor Pedro” Arne Solvik and vocalist Ryan “Mr. Leafy” Matthew Moen, whose nicknames would seem to underscore the point of the Örebroan influence but don’t wholly lose themselves in a single-mindedness of approach.
Make no mistake, they’ve got heavy rock on their minds, and that’s the core of their execution. The six songs on Leafy bring forth high order, weighted, modern desert rock thrust with efficiency, but they also reach out as much as they hammer down. Particularly with Moen‘s burly, semi-bluesy vocal style, Leafy remind of London’s Steak, whose 2014 debut, Slab City, worked in similar function to bring a Kyuss-style desert symposium to fruition while casting their own persona through the interpretation. And as their first outing, Leafy give a sense of where they’re coming from in the Orange Goblin-esque alcoholic regret of “No Gnome” and the broader progression of extended closer “Felt Like Dying.”
One might get the sense that Leafy are preaching to the converted, and they may well be. Especially with Leafy being their first album, I don’t necessarily have an issue with that. It’s how genre tropes are developed and how audience habits are reinforced; how the substance of a style takes shape. Clearly the Kristiansand rockers are in the process of figuring out where they want to be within heavy rock, and in addition to forcing one’s hand in thinking of groups like Wo Fat, 1000mods, and a next-gen band like the aforementioned Steak as influential in league with more established groups like Orange Goblin, these tracks brim with a density of fuzz and thrust that one hears just as soon as opener “Wild Cherokee” kicks in from its quieter intro. Right away, Moen and Bisama work fluidly together on vocals, right away the audience is acknowledged — “we hope you will enjoy the show” — and right away guitar establishes itself as the engine that makes the band go.
“Wild Cherokee” introduces many of the moves Leafy will make throughout, and certainly brings the listener into their tonal world, but if side A has a highlight, it’s “Can You See Them.” The second longest cut on Leafy at 6:20 it careens and shuffles at a faster clip and boasts a memorable dual-vocal interplay in its hook and a fullness of sound — credit to Kotori and Solvik for thickening and making it move, respectively — and is among the most striking impressions the record makes, even unto its big finish, which successfully conveys the this-is-something-you-should-watch-on-a-stage vibe that, for a group like Leafy, is probably just what they should be telling those checking out the album at this point. The subsequent “Puzzled Skin” reinforces the energy in “Can You See Them” and rounds out the intended side A with another push further distinguished by its quick solo in the back half.
And if there was any doubt that Leafy had vinyl symmetry in mind with the album’s structure, the subdued guitar intro of “No Gnome” should answer it handily. Missing only the count-in stick clicks from Solvik that began the opener, it seems to be in direct conversation with “Wild Cherokee” — it also happens to be the exact same length at 3:54, but it’s hard to imagine that’s not a coincidence; bands rarely write songs down to the second in my experience — though it builds more fluidly from that beginning and ultimately finds its own path, entering full tonal presence after about a minute in but moving back to a bluesier and more open feel for the next verse. Lyrically, it’s a booze story, and perhaps more than any of the other cuts, it’s a showcase for Moen‘s vocals, which can be harrowing for a singer the first time out. He approaches the task with apparent confidence over the softer proceedings behind him and that makes the song’s later payoff even more satisfying as it sets up the quiet finish of “No Gnome” and transitions into the drum/bass-led beginning of “Fallen Leaf.”
Maybe it’s an expected uptick in the dudely vibrancy from the track before it that takes its time getting going — a nascent patience in development — but it still ultimately works to revives the momentum of “Puzzled Skin” effectively, playing between chugging tension in its verse and a chorus release before a righteously crashing ending, and with the eight-minute “Felt Like Dying” closing out Leafy behind it, makes sense in its place. For its added length, the four-piece’s finishing move doesn’t ask much by way of indulgence on the part of the listener, instead rewarding those who’ve stuck it out with another highlight hook and a more open-feeling plotted jam in the back half that builds into the last chorus payoff and ends cold on guitar squibblies that seem to say the “show” to which listeners were being welcomed on “Wild Cherokee” is over.
Fair enough. In the end, Leafy‘s Leafy comes across less geared toward innovation than capturing the moment at which the band get their feet under them, sonically speaking. But it does capture that moment, absolutely, and considering Leafy have only been together for a year, it’s all the more an impressively cohesive collection that only benefits from the clearheadedness of its intent. That is to say, Leafy very obviously came into their first release with ideas about who they are as a band and what kind of ruckus they want to make. The task before them now is to grow from the solid foundation they’ve laid down in these tracks and to continue to refine the identity they convey through this material, and in that, to hopefully hold fast to this self-titled’s lack of pretense.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kudos to Swedish heavy rock traditionalists Horisont on calling out the Comic Code Authority on the cover art for their forthcoming Century Media debut, About Time. It’s that kind of attention to detail — you’ll note they change it to “Cosmic Code Authority” — that’s emblematic of the nuance in their approach overall, last shown on 2015’s progressively engaging Odyssey (review here), and as the cover itself seems to be calling out classic sci-fi/horror à la Re-Animator and others, it couldn’t be more fitting. The band recently wrapped up their first US tour, which they undertook alongside Ohio troupe Electric Citizen, and this fall gave a first taste of what’s to come with About Time in the video for “Electrical,” which you can see at the bottom of this post.
The PR wire dutifully takes it from here:
HORISONT Release Details For New Album ‘About Time’
Swedish hard-rockers HORISONT will release their upcoming album About Time on February 3rd, 2017 via Century Media Records!
The band comments on the cover artwork, stating,
“The fabulous artwork for our fifth album ‘About Time’ is once again crafted by the wizard of art himself – Henrik Jacobson, who also did the ‘Odyssey’ artwork. Henrik has managed to capture the concept of the album and title in a brilliant Horisont way. We couldn’t be happier with the result and we hope you’ll enjoy it!”
About Time will be available as Special Edition Digipak (EU only), Jewel Case CD (US only), Gatefold LP and as digital album.
“About Time” track-listing: 01. The Hive 00:03:34 02. Electrical 00:03:30 03. Without Warning 00:03:24 04. Letare 00:03:41 05. Night Line 00:03:28 06. Point of Return 00:03:52 07. Boston Gold 00:03:02 08. Hungry Love 00:03:41 09. Dark Sides 00:02:51 10. About Time 00:06:26
The LP will be available in the following vinyl colors: Black vinyl – unlimited Lilac vinyl – limited to 200 copies/exclusively available at Bengans Clear vinyl – limited to 100 copies/exclusively available at CMDistro Silver vinyl – limited to 200 copies/exclusively available at Green Hell Transparent Green vinyl – limited to 200 copies/exclusively available at Nuclear Blast Yellow vinyl – limited to 300 copies / US only
HORISONT have recently released a video for their first single off of About Time, titled “Electrical”. You can check it out below.
If you’re the sort of person who likes a clean, clear narrative to your rock and roll history, you’ll probably want to avoid Raging Slab. An anomaly if ever there was one, here was a band based out of New York City playing Southern-style heavy boogie rock… who released their first album in 1987. And then signed to a major label! If you can make any sense of it or put it into any kind of discernible context, go for it. It’s almost like Raging Slab were sent back from the future to disrupt the timeline, is how out of place they were for their day and age. And yet, listening to their 1989 self-titled — released by RCA Records as the follow-up to ’87’s charmingly-dubbed Assmaster debut — one can hear flashes of the era in the semi-metallic “Shiny Mama” (on which Ray Gillen provides backing vocals) and in the post-Motörhead freight-train progression of “Get off My Jollies.” But at its core, Raging Slab is a work of ’70s loyalism that was as much ahead of its time as it was behind it. The band, founded by guitarists Greg Strzempka (also vocals and songwriting) and Elyse Steinman, here featured bassist Alec Morton, lead guitarist Mark Middleton and drummers Tony Scaglione (everything but “Get off My Jollies”) and Steve “Doc Killdrums” Wacholz (“Get off My Jollies”) — though credited in the liner and in the cover photography one finds Bob Pantella, who’d go on to join Monster Magnet, The Atomic Bitchwax, etc. — no doubt earned some sideways glances in the heyday of glam, but in hindsight, it’s just as easy to read their work as boldly defying both the mainstream and the underground of its day.
To wit, the aforementioned glam. Imagine Raging Slab coming out the same year as Mötley Crüe‘s Dr. Feelgood. Sure, there was plenty of metal to be had — the NWOBHM had arguably crested some years earlier, but thrash had by then hit its stride as America’s major contribution to a heavy metal aesthetic. Doom festered in the likes of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, and Cathedral, but while Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top were still around, they were more Southern than heavy, and Raging Slab were more heavy than they were metal. And elsewhere in the underground, the likes of Earth, the Melvins and Nirvana were solidifying what would in a couple years break out internationally as grunge. Raging Slab didn’t fit there either. In a self-written 1996 bio, they called themselves, “TOO hard for country and western fans, TOO slow for thrash fans, TOO cerebral for hard rock fans and TOO rock and roll for alternative fans.” All true. The self-titled tells that story in cuts like “Geronimo” and “Bent for Silver,” which are too brazen in their hooks to be chic in an underground sense and too weighted to really be pop or country rock. Hell, to listen to opener “Don’t Dog Me,” it’s a cut that today would be right at home in the Ripple Music lineup. 27 years ago, I guess it wasn’t so easy to place.
However they wound up on a label like RCA, they did, and they’d go on to work with Rick Rubin‘s Def American/American Recordings on subsequent outings, Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert (1993) and Sing Monkey Sing! (1996), but in the meantime, a generational shift and the arrival of bands like Corrosion of Conformity — whose Deliverance came out five years after Raging Slab, in 1994 — working under a Southern heavy influence kept wider commercial success elusive, and Raging Slab faded for a time. The turn of the century found them returned to activity on Tee Pee Records with 2001’s The Dealer and the next year’s Pronounced Eat Shit, but apart from a compilation appearance here and there — they notably took on Grand Funk Railroad‘s “We’re an American Band” for Small Stone‘s first installment of Sucking the ’70s in 2002 — that would be their swansong. Strzempka found a home in Sweden’s Backdraft, and there were rumors of another Raging Slab resurgence and a new album as part of that, but a decade later, it’s yet to surface.
Never say never in rock and roll though. If you dig the self-titled, it was reissued in ’09 on Rock Candy Records, and Assmaster also saw a re-press in 2013 through Cherry Red with a bunch of bonus material, including the True Death EP from 1989.
Whether you know this one or not, I hope you enjoy.
Man, this week can’t fuck off fast enough to suit my tastes. Like here’s the week fucking off as fast as it possibly can and here’s me standing with a stopwatch shaking my head going, “Not even close, yo.”
Let’s be optimistic together. 2016’s almost over, and we don’t yet know what fresh, astounding lows the New Year will bring.
Hey, we got over 125 entries in the first day of the Top 20 of 2016 Year-End Poll. That legitimately ruled. Made my week, actually. I was nervous. If you contributed a list, thanks. If not yet, please do. Any help sharing the link is also greatly valued.
In the notes for next week:
Mon: Album stream for Leafy and a Year of the Goat video premiere.
Tue: Albinö Rhinö album stream and the new Lord Loud video.
Wed: A list of 10 album covers that kicked ass in 2016. Because art is fun and talking about it is a fun way to kick off list season.
Thu: A review of The Second Coming of Heavy, Chapter 4.
Fri: Track stream from a Denver band I’m not sure I’m allowed yet to name.
Gonna be a good one. This week should’ve been a good one too. The problem is me. I’m the problem.
It’s okay though. I’ve been down this road before. Gonna spend the next couple days drinking coffee leisurely, playing Final Fantasy XV and hanging out with Slevin, who’s coming north for a visit. It’ll be nice to see him. It always is.
I sincerely hope your week was better than mine and that your weekend is no less stellar. Be safe and have fun, and please make time to check out the forum and the radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw of Chicago instrumentalists Pelican will make his solo debut with Uptown, a collection of ambient pieces due out early next year via The Flenser. An initial track, titled “They Keep Bowing,” reveals textural atmospherics working in layers probably looped through but perhaps built one on top of the other, either way to satisfyingly rich tonal effect. I wouldn’t necessarily call it out of the range of what one might anticipate a solo record from de Brauw would bring, knowing the kind of heavy post-rock sprawl to which Pelican can be prone, but it’s a definite expansion on the theme, if nothing else, and it seems fair to imagine that Uptown will also serve as the beginning of a broader exploration of a solo aesthetic for de Brauw, making it all the more noteworthy as his first outing.
I haven’t heard the full thing yet, but we’ve got a while to go before Feb. 10 gets here, so I’ll hope the opportunity comes my way somewhere between now and then. The cut below makes a solid argument why and arrives accompanied by PR wire details:
GUITARIST TREVOR SHELLEY DE BRAUW ANNOUNCES DEBUT SOLO ALBUM, PREMIERES SONG
Uptown due out February 10th, 2017 from The Flenser / Listen to “They Keep Bowing” now
Chicago-based guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw (Pelican, RLYR) has announced the release of his first solo album – a collection of power-ambient compositions – entitled Uptown. Due out February 10th, 2017 on San Francisco’s acclaimed experimental label The Flenser, Uptown is a stream of consciousness sustained for too long, an aural pendulum swinging between poles of murky distress and cathartic resolve that takes shape somewhere in the hazy valleys between rock, ambient and experimental music. Listen to the album’s first single, “They Keep Bowing,” today.
Trevor Shelley de Brauw’s 20 year musical career has manifested as an exploration of the vast sonic possibilities of the guitar. Uptown marks a departure from the riff-oriented song writing of Pelican, taking a plaintive approach that unravels the meditative depth of washed-out riffs, deconstructed drones, and carefully controlled feedback. The album delves into complex dimensions of deeply layered textures: an evocation of haunting melodicism that shares more common ground with Brian Eno’s ambient work and drone wizards Barn Owl than it does a metal record. Written and recorded over the span of nearly a decade, Uptown represents a scrapbook from a formative era in de Brauw’s life, bookended by a stint on a remote tobacco farm in North Carolina and his return to the anxiety-ridden urban eccentricities of Chicago’s historic Uptown neighborhood.
Uptown is due for release on Feb 10th, 2017 from The Flenser. Stay tuned for more songs to premiere and pre-order info to surface soon.
Uptown track listing: 1. A New Architecture 2. Distinct Frequency 3. They Keep Bowing 4. You Were Sure 5. Turn Up For What 6. From The Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang