Monarch Announce First-Ever European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

monarch

San Diego classic heavy rock pastoralists Monarch were already announced as taking part in Desertfest London and Esbjerg Fuzztival, so a tour was suspected, but it’s nice to have confirmation that, indeed, that’s the plan. The five-piece will go abroad for the first time while supporting their second album, Beyond the Blue Sky (review here), which came out last August on El Paraiso Records. The final date of the run is the aforementioned Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark, where they’ll join fellow San Diegans Sacri Monti as well as El Paraiso label heads Causa Sui on the bill, rounding out the tour on what would seem to be a planned high note. It’s a month-long stretch, so as an initial incursion abroad it’s not unambitious, but I have a hard time imagining they won’t find welcome in all corners.

Tour is presented by Ya Ya Yeah Booking and El Paraiso. Here’s the band’s announcement:

MONARCH TOUR

Very excited to announce our maiden voyage across the pond this upcoming spring! More dates TBA. Thanks to Ya Ya Yeah and El Paraiso Records for helping us make this happen! See you soon Europe…

09 APR FR Le Havre Mc Daid’s
10 APR FR Clermont-Ferrand Raymond Bar
11 APR BE Liege Insert Name Festival #6
12 APR DE Kusel Willkommen im Dschungel
14 APR DE Aachen The Wild Rover Irish Pub
15 APR PL Poznan Klub u Bazyla
16 APR PL Gdansk GAK Plama
17 APR DE Berlin Zukunft am Ostkreuz HEADZ UP
18 APR PL Cracow Warsztat
19 APR PL Warsaw Potok : Drugi Dom Ludzi Rocka
21 APR DE Dresden Chemiefabrik
24 APR IT Sezzadio Cascina Bellaria Music Club
25 APR IT Pescara Tube Cult Fest
26 APR IT Treviso Krach Club
28 APR FR Troyes The Message
29 APR FR Nantes La Scène Michelet
02 MAY NL Zwolle Eureka Zwolle
03 MAY UK London Desertfest London
04 MAY UK Bournemouth Anvil Rockbar Bournemouth
05 MAY FR Rouen Le 3 Pièces Muzik’Club
06 MAY FR Dijon MondoFuzz
07 MAY FR Paris La Pointe Lafayette
09 MAY DK Esbjerg Esbjerg Fuzztival

Monarch is:
Dominic Denholm – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas Dibenedetto – Guitar
James Upton – Guitar
Matt Weiss – Bass
Andrew Ware – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/monarchbrothers/
https://www.instagram.com/mon_arch_bros/
https://monarch4.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/elparaisorecords/
https://www.instagram.com/elparaisorecords/
https://elparaisorecords.com/shop
https://www.yayayeahmusic.pt/

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Destroyer of Light to Release Generational Warfare EP March 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

destroyer of light

Austin doomers Destroyer of Light have never been shy about getting a little weird to one degree or another, so to find them taking on a track from The Cure isn’t necessarily out of character by any means. Still, they certainly change the context of the song and give it a sense of heft to go with its sinister lyrics. I’m not going to lay claim to ever being a fan of The Cure — no doubt I’m a loss that continues to burn in Robert Smith‘s belly to this day — but I get the appeal, and Destroyer of Light‘s take on “Lullaby” is a fair interpretation of the darkness one can find in their otherwise harmless-seeming melodies.

While we’re talking about Destroyer of Light not being shy, it’s worth noting that the EP on which “Lullaby” appears, Generational Warfare, is being released on March 27 through Heavy Friends in an edition of 100 copies to coincide with an April tour that will bring the four-piece to the Eastern Seaboard supporting not only the new two-songer, but 2019’s excellent Mors Aeterna (review here) as well. They’ll do shows in the South with Order of the Owl and hit Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore on the stretch, and no doubt run out of 7″s long before the shows are done.

Announcement came down the PR wire. Preorders are on Bandcamp:

destroyer of light generational warfare

DESTROYER OF LIGHT: New EP and April Tour Announced

Generational Warfare EP is released 27th March on Heavy Friends Records

The EP will be released on ultra-limited edition 7” vinyl (only 100 copies available) and can be pre-ordered HERE: https://destroyeroflight.bandcamp.com/album/generational-warfare

Formed in 2012 in Austin, Texas, harbingers of doom Destroyer of Light are no idlers. Within a year of forming the heavy-as-hell/louder-than-war quartet released their self-titled EP and in doing so kick started what would become an ongoing DIY endeavour; driven by huge riffs, hallowed tales and endless road journeys.

This March the band return with a brand-new two-track EP entitled Generational Warfare, which is ferried deep into the breach by a commanding cover of one of The Cure’s most celebrated songs, ‘Lullaby’:

“For years, I’ve wanted to cover a The Cure song,” explains guitarist/vocalist, Steve Colca. “Not only am I huge fan, but I always thought that they had some songs that could easily be constructed into a doom song. I think a lot of people don’t realize how heavy the Cure’s music is, especially if you’ve seen or heard them live. We all agreed that ‘Lullaby’ was the perfect choice. The lyrics are super dark and when we started working on it, it just fell into place.”

Complemented by ‘These Walls…’ a song written and recorded during sessions for last year’s impressive Mors Aeterna album on Argonauta Records, Destroyer of Light’s Generational Warfare EP is released on 27th March 2020 on Heavy Friends Records. The band also embark on a month-long tour this April and will play a number of dates alongside Atlanta riff-men, Order of the Owl. (For the full list of dates see below.)

APRIL TOUR DATES:
3/4 – Rudyard’s – Houston, TX
4/4 – Freetown Boom Boom Room – Lafayette, LA
5/4 – TBA – New Orleans, LA
7/4 – Blue Note* – Tampa, FL
8/4 – Las Rosas* – Miami, FL
9/4 – Will’s Pub* – Orlando, FL
10/4 – The Jinx* – Savannah, GA
11/4 – The Atlantic* – Gainesville, FL
12/4 – Archtype* – Jacksonville, FL
14/4 – 529* – Atlanta, GA
15/4 – The Odditorium – Asheville, NC
16/4 – Slim’s – Raleigh, NC
17/4 – Wonderland – Richmond, VA
18/4 – Ritual Bar & Venue (GRIM REEFER FEST) – Baltimore, MD
19/4 – Gold Sounds – New York, NY
20/4 – O’Briens – Boston, MA
21/4 – Dusk – Providence, RI
22/4 – Tubby’s – Kingsland, NY
23/4 – Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
24/4 – Gooski’s – Pittsburgh, PA
25/4 – Black Circle Brewery – Indianapolis, IN
26/4 – Mag Bar – Louisville, KY
27/4 – Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
28/4 – Whittier Bar – Tulsa, OK
*w. Order of the Owl

DESTROYER OF LIGHT:
Steve Colca – Guitar/Vocals
Nick Coffman– Bass
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitar
Penny Turner – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/destroyeroflight/
http://www.instagram.com/destroyeroflightofficial/
http://destroyeroflight.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/heavyfriendsbooking/
https://www.instagram.com/heavyfriendsrecords/
https://heavyfriendsrecords.bigcartel.com/

Destroyer of Light, Generational Warfare EP (2020)

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Review & Track Premiere: The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The Heavy Eyes Love Like Machines

[Click play above to stream ‘Late Night’ from The Heavy Eyes’ Love Like Machines, out March 27 on Kozmik Artifactz. Preorders available here.]

It’s been quite a first decade for the ostensibly Memphis-based four-piece The Heavy Eyes, whose members actually reside at this point in different states and who careen through the riffs of their fourth long-player, Love Like Machines, with a sans-chicanery fluidity that totally undercuts that distance. By the time they got around to their last album, 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), the then-trio had refined their approach to a remarkable degree, building off the methods and the successes of 2012’s Maera and 2011’s Heavy Eyes, as well as concurrent EPs and other short digital offerings, had toured to support their work and, crucially, had found an audience hungry for more.

And though they took part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ tribute to Jimi Hendrix (review here), also in 2015, and issued Live in Memphis (review here) in 2018, there’s no question that the five-year break between their third and fourth full-lengths changes the context in which Love Like Machines arrives. But fair enough. The band itself has also changed, bringing in longtime engineer Matthew Qualls — who has helmed each of their albums, including this one — on guitar and backing vocals as a fourth full-time member of the band alongside vocalist/guitarist Tripp Shumake, bassist Wally Anderson and drummer Eric Garcia, and recommitting themselves to the prospect of recording and touring as The Heavy Eyes.

Their sonic identity remains based around their songwriting, and though Qualls and Garcia both add percussion here and there, Shumake blends acoustic and electric guitar on opener “Anabasis,” and the later pair of “Bright Light” and the especially catchy fuzzer “A Cat Named Haku” dig into highlight low end and drum compression, the overarching impression Love Like Machines makes — the album’s title line delivered in side A’s “Late Night” — is one that can’t help but be considered straightforward with such a focus on structure and such tightness of their performance. The grooves swing and aren’t shy about it, and Shumake‘s vocals and Southern-tinged lyrical patterns can call to mind ClutchAll Them Witches and Valley of the Sun at any given moment — and that’s before you get to the hyper-Queens of the Stone Age vibes of the penultimate “Vera Cruz” (with guest piano by Carmen Fowlkes) — but if The Heavy Eyes are sending a message in this sharp-dressed 10-track/34-minute outing, it’s that they’re getting down to business.

I don’t know whether they’re feeling the weight of the five years it’s taken to manifest their fourth album or what, but beneath the right-on fuzz in the guitars, the good-times hooks of “Made for the Age” and “The Profession,” and the half-intro purpose “Anabasis” serves with its acoustic/electric blend, there’s a strong sense of purpose behind the songs on Love Like Machines, and an audience engagement that comes across as being as far from coincidental as you can get. These songs, written in parts exchanged digitally over state lines and recorded in more than one session with Qualls and guest guitar appearances from Justin Toland of Dirty Streets on “God Damn Wolf Man” and Justin Tracy, who also appeared on Live in Memphis, on “The Profession.”

the heavy eyes

The latter is of particular note as regards the idea of purpose in what The Heavy Eyes are doing on Love Like Machines, since the profession in question — at least somewhat contrary to where one’s mind might go in associating the title — is rock and roll itself, and that song is nothing if not an example of the band’s pro-shop presentation, crisp and assured in its delivery and interesting to the ear without a hint of indulgence on the part of its creators. Even “Hand of Bear,” which might earn a sideways glance for a verse line like, “Copper-color skin, so you’d best beware,” in recounting a story on a Native American theme, is maddeningly catchy — “Whoa, yeah yeah/Guess he earned his name as the Hand of Bear” becomes a signature hook, backing vocals and all.

It is not necessarily a revolutionary approach that The Heavy Eyes are taking, but neither are they directing themselves to the tenets of genre, instead shaping these to suit the needs of their songwriting. Craft is primary. “Made for the Age” is the longest inclusion at 4:51, and no other song on Love Like Machines even touches four minutes (“Vera Cruz” lists at 3:59), with “Late Night,” “God Damn Wolf Man” and “The Profession” under three. Yet none of these songs or the closer “Idle Hands” at 3:09 lack character or identity.

They are deceptively rich in their mix and able to shift in meter from one to the next while maintaining an overarching flow to the whole that gives the finale a due feeling of spaciousness after the departure of very-Cali departure of “Vera Cruz” and the standout choruses in “The Profession” and “A Cat Named Haku” earlier, and the deeper one digs into the proceedings, the more nuance one is likely to find even in songs that seem so straightforward in their initial purpose. Ultimately, questions of whether or not The Heavy Eyes will be able to gain back some of the momentum that the stretch since He Dreams of Lions may have taken away are secondary.

What matters here, as Love Like Machines expresses so plainly, are the songs themselves and the energy the band have put into constructing and recording them. They leave no question as to who they are as a band or what they want to be doing, and with a decade behind them, they stand mature in their approach but still hungry-seeming, still reaching out to the crowd in front of an imagined stage, still inviting everyone to take a step forward. It would be a hard invite to refuse, frankly, and if one thinks of Love Like Machines as a live set, then it’s pretty clear The Heavy Eyes put on a hell of a show. They’re doing their part here. It’s up to the listener now to get on board, but The Heavy Eyes have only made it as easy and as appealing as possible to do so. That’s all they can do. Well, that and tour like bastards.

The Heavy Eyes on Thee Facebooks

The Heavy Eyes on Instagram

The Heavy Eyes on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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Keep it Low 2020 Adds Samsara Blues Experiment, Yawning Man, Last Rizla, Chang & Mindcrawler

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2020 banner

Calling it right now: there’s gonna be a new Samsara Blues Experiment album out by the time they get to Munich for the 2020 edition of Keep it Low Festival. Do I know that? Hell no. Not at all. I have no such knowledge, and even if I did — mind you I don’t, at all, really; that’s not me being coy, I actually don’t fucking know — but they’re not a band who just get out and do fests on a whim. Now, I don’t necessarily know if they’ll be on tour for four weeks and hit all the Euro fests happening at that time, whereas I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Yawning Man pop up on other lineups in addition to this one — I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a new record out too, while I’m thinking about it — but it was late-2018 when they said they were getting to work on a follow-up to 2017’s One with the Universe (review here), so it doesn’t at all seem unreasonable to think that record will come to fruition by this Fall.

I don’t know that. But I’m calling it now. If it doesn’t happen, I probably won’t remind you that I said it would. Ha.

Greece’s Last Rizla and Germany’s Chang and Mindcrawler have also signed on to play, and you’ll find the full announcement from the fest below. You’ll note there’s no mention of a new Samsara Blues Experiment album. Nothing: that’s exactly what they would say if it was going to happen.

From thee social medias:

Keepers,

We know that October is quite far away, but we just can’t help it! It’s our pleasure to welcome 5 more killer acts to Keep It Low Festival 2020!

Samsara Blues Experiment (GER)
Yawning Man (US)
Last Rizla (GRE)
Chang (GER)
Mindcrawler (GER)

We hope you like this announcement as much as we do!

2-day tickets are selling fast and there aren’t many left, so don’t sleep on that and get yours here:

Tickets available here:

https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte/51-tickets-keep-it-low-festival-2020-feierwerk-area-muenchen-am-09-10-2020

https://woolheads.com/product/keep-it-low-festivalticket-weekend-2020

https://www.eventim.de/artist/keep-it-low-festival/

https://www.facebook.com/events/975025036197960/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/
https://www.keepitlow.de/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (2017)

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Electric Feat Premiere “The Caveman” Video; Self-Titled Debut out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

electric feat

Greek heavy garage rockers Electric Feat release their self-titled debut on Feb. 24 through Inner Ear Records. Yeah yeah yeah, that’s all well and good. Fine. It’s a record. Why do you care? You care because their new video for “The Caveman” takes Terry Gilliam-style animation to a story about Rasputin assassinating the Romanovs and subsequently being chased down and murdered by a zombie Anastasia. You care because songs like “Leather Jacket” and “Song of Disobedience” effortlessly channel ’70s swing and proto-doom vibes without actually tipping over the line of retroism. You care because the Athens four-piece are yet another example of the absolute boom happening in the underground in Greece right now. You care because you’re not a fucking philistine. Do I need to go on?

electric feat electric featThe album runs 10 tracks and 36 mostly-fuzzed minutes but has room in there for some psychedelic flash and punkier purpose in a song like “Blackwood Secrecy.” “Fogdancing” is straight-up funk doom ahead of the five-minute HumblePie-doing-Sab-worship closer “Bring Something from the Night,” but they never quite let go of the sense of rawness that opener “It’s Alright (With You)” puts forth, classic in its foundation and even in their darkest moment, which might be the crashing “Son of Evil,” there’s still a feeling of the good times that the surrounding context offers, whether that’s the shuffle of second track “Lizard Queen” or “The Caveman” itself with its echo-laced boogie, catchy guitar and shift into fuller-toned chase past the halfway mark. Like the first line of that song says, “Save the pretense for the other side.” That’s pretty much what Electric Feat do on both sides of the album, so good luck finding the pretense.

Be it the rolling “Leather Jacket” that caps the record’s first half or “Bring Something from the Night” that ends the album as a whole, Electric Feat neglect nothing when it comes to vitality of their approach, and the deftness with which they’re able to turn from boogie to doom and back again is tied together cleverly through the barebones production and the energetic captured performance that stands up to it. Look. I’ve given you reasons to care, and I’ll tell you flat out that I’ve gone ahead and put the self-titled on my ongoing list of the year’s best debut albums, so if you want to get on board, it’s up to you. But if you don’t, it’s your loss. For me, I’m just happy to have found a new band to keep up with because this shit is righteous and there isn’t a day goes by that isn’t made better by quality rock and roll.

Album’s out Monday. Video follows, so please enjoy. It’s the best one I’ve seen in a while.

Go fullscreen with it:

Electric Feat, “The Caveman” official video premiere

Electric Feat, the fairly new hard rockin’ quartet from Athens, Greece share new track and video ahead of self-titled debut record out February 24 (pressed on 180-gram vinyl) via Inner Ear Records. “The Caveman” is the third offering from Electric Feat’s record, following previously released “Lizard Queen” and “Leather Jacket”. The video made by DaDive Studio.

Preorder here: https://orcd.co/electricfeat

Rock is dead, so let’s go dancing in its ashes.

No more, no less, this is Electric Feat’s first set of songs, recorded (almost live) at the cozy Diskex studio, with Sergios Voudris’ invaluable assistance.

A hard rocking love child, with psychedelic, proto-metal and heavy blues flourishes by four geekish, local pub friends: Dr. Nanos, Madam Manthos, Prins Obi and The Tree. From the Alice Cooper-ian ‘It’s Alright (With You)’ to the elegiac, Cream-gone-evil ‘Bring Something from the Night’, “Electric Feat” is a winter rite that demands to be played loud. Long live Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Electric Feat are:
Dionysis Nanos (Dr. Nanos), guitar
Themos Ragousis (Madam Manthos), bass
Georgios Dimakis (Prins Obi), vocals, percussion
Kostas Stergiou (The Tree), drums, percussion

Electric Feat on Thee Facebooks

Electric Feat on Instagram

Electric Feat on Bandcamp

Inner Ear Records on Thee Facebooks

Inner Ear Records on Instagram

Inner Ear Records website

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Sorcia to Release Self-Titled Debut March 13; Streaming “Nowhere But Up”

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

sorcia

A bit of the ol’ sludge-nasty coming from Seattle-ish three-piece Sorcia on their self-titled debut. Recorded by none less than Tad Frickin’ Doyle with mastering by Jack Goshdarn Endino and set to issue March 13 through the former’s Incineration Ceremony label, it’s a seven-track outing that word of which comes accompanied by the teaser cut “Nowhere But Up.” It’s easy enough to imagine in listening that the title speaks regarding the perspective of the album as a whole, but one doesn’t necessarily want to speculate based on one song, even if that song is a shouty roller with a sound that, if you cut it, would bleed mud.

More to follow on this one? Oh most definitely. I already signed on to stream the whole thing on March 10. Keep an eye/ear out for it.

PR wire news and tour dates below:

sorcia sorcia

Seattle’s SORCIA Reveal Debut Self-Titled Album Coming March 13th via Incineration Ceremony Records!

SORCIA hails from the Snoqualmie Valley in the Eastern outskirts of Seattle, Washington. After solidifying their lineup in 2018, SORCIA hit the ground running, releasing a two-song demo in January 2019. Combining blues-laden groovy riffs into the raw heaviness of doom metal with the added dynamic of dual vocals, they deliver their own method of Pacific Northwest heavy stoner sludge metal.

SORCIA entered Witch Ape Studio with Tad Doyle (Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TAD) in June of 2019, to begin recording their debut full-length album; and completing the album with Jack Endino (High On Fire, Windhand, Nirvana) at the mastering helm.

So says SORCIA regarding their new album:
“Tad Doyle was an absolute pleasure to work with and did an incredible job capturing the essence of our sound. He gave us confidence and had a true understanding of our vision that was key in the bringing that vision to life. and it exceeded all our expectations. Having the legendary Jack Endino at the mastering helm was a complete honor and he did a fantastic job putting on the final touch. The creation of this album has been a long time coming and we are very proud and excited to finally share it. It is our tribute to the genre that inspired us and it embodies the sound we love.”

The debut full-length album ‘Sorcia’ will be available on March 13th, from Incineration Ceremony Recordings. With stunning cover art from Mike Hawkins, the new album will be released on CD, digital download, and streaming on most major outlets. Pre-order available soon…

Incineration Ceremony Recordings founder Tad Doyle had this to say:
“Sorcia is focused and has a vision of what they want to convey in their music which comes across with depth and power.”

‘Sorcia’ Tracklist:
01. In The Head
02. Nowhere But Up
03. Coffin Nails
04. Sunburn
05. Stars Collide
06. Stoned Believer
07. Repression

SORCIA Upcoming Live Dates:
Feb. 20 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
Feb. 28 – Port Angeles, WA @ Little Devils Lunchbox
Mar. 06 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark (Adv. Album Release)
Mar. 07 – Seattle, WA @ Slims Last Chance Saloon (Adv. Album Release)
Apr. 02 – Tacoma, WA @ The Plaid Pig
Apr. 03 – Duvall, WA @ Twin Dragon
Apr. 04 – Portland, OR @ Bunk
Apr. 14 – Seattle, WA @ Substation
May 20 – Seattle, WA @ Screwdriver Bar
Jun. 12 – Olympia, WA @ Cryptatropa

SORCIA
Neal De Atley – Guitar, Vocals
Jessica Brasch – Bass, Vocals
Bryson Marcey – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/SorciaBand/
https://www.instagram.com/sorciaband/
sorcia.bandcamp.com
https://sorciaband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Incinerationceremony/
https://www.instagram.com/incineration.ceremony/
https://incineration-ceremony.bandcamp.com/
https://www.taddoyle.com/incineration-ceremony-recordings/

Sorcia, Sorcia (2020)

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Borracho to Release 7″ with Jake Starr on Vocals

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

borracho with jake starr

Five years after joining forces on stage at a Savage Magic Records showcase in California Borracho and former Adam West frontman Jake Starr — currently of Jake Starr and The Delicious Fullness — have put together a two-song 7″ single with a couple of Adam West tracks redone in the studio. Borracho drummer Mario Trubiano played in the more garage-style rocking outfit as well, who were long a staple of the Washington D.C. underground, putting out a massive slew of short releases as well as five full-lengths, the last of which was offered up in 2008.

Something cool for fans either of Starr‘s work or of Borracho, but clearly the kind of thing undertaken because they wanted to do it rather than as any sort of high-profile outing. Still, the most recent Borracho release was 2017’s Riffography (review here), so whatever they’ve got is welcome. One wouldn’t necessarily expect it to lead to any further collaboration, but of course one also never knows pretty much anything, ever, ever, ever, so take that for what it’s worth and maybe just dig into some songs. Cool.

From the PR wire:

borracho with jake starr 7 inch

Borracho with Jake Starr 7″ (SM-046)

If you were there for the Strange Magic Showcase Night #1 in Pomona, CA January 31st, 2015, then you saw Jake Starr take the stage with Borracho and knock out two amazing versions of Adam West classics. It sounded so incredible, we immediately got to talking about getting these two songs recorded in the studio and releasing a 7-inch. Lo and behold, and five years later it has actually happened! Here we have “Sixth Son of a Seventh Son” from Adam West’s 2002 single of the same name, and “Bulletproof” from Adam West’s 2005 album “Power to the People” completely re-imagined and re-recorded Borracho-style!

A side:
Sixth Son of a Seventh Son

B side:
Bulletproof

$10 + postage

300 copies pressed
100 on purple vinyl
100 on green vinyl
100 on traditional black vinyl

Release Date: February 25th 2020

http://borrachomusic.com
https://www.facebook.com/BorrachoDC/
https://borracho.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/SavageMagicRecords
http://savagemagicrecords.com/

Borracho, Riffography (2017)

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Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises: Together and Alone

Posted in Reviews on February 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Six Organs of Admittance Companion Rises

As a fan of Ben Chasny‘s sometimes-solo-project/sometimes-band Six Organs of Admittance, I try to be careful not to look at too much of what he says about any given release before I form my own impressions, because what I’ve found over time is that the guitarist/vocalist/synthesist/whatever-else-ist carries a rare level of insight into his own output and brings such a firm sense of consciousness to what he does that how the record comes across in listening invariably ends up hued by what he’s said. In the case of Companion Rises — the follow-up to 2017’s Burning the Threshold (review here) — Chasny is the only player on the album and he weaves songs that vary between layers of intertwining acoustic and electric guitars and periodic washes of synth. It is a solo record, and brings out some of the intimacy of his earlier, bedroom-folk experimentations, but invariably bears the hallmarks of his overarching maturity of craft, and that’s shown early in the nine-cut/39-minute long-player with the at-least-I-think-it’s-keyboard waves undulating in the intro “Pacific” and the subsequent shift into “Two Forms Moving.”

Like good literature, these two songs are more or less giving the listener the information they need to process the context of much of what follows. A decidedly Californian vibe — Chasny is currently listed as being in Holyoke, Massachusetts, but has roots as well in San Francisco — plays out through “Pacific” and in later pieces like “The 101,” the title of which is even phrased in a SoCal manner, in which a busy rhythm of seemingly looped acoustic guitar and a plugged in solo arrives in somewhat manic fashion accompanying a bluesy paean to the coastal highway itself. The frenetic feel there is something of an extension of what happens in “Two Forms Moving” earlier, as the track realizes two progressions at once as the lyrics also tie into the title, and Chasny — who created a mathematical system of guitar playing and in 2015 released a pair of albums called Hexadic, as well as an instructional book for others, is no stranger to such conceptualism — executes acoustic and electric movements at the same time. One, then, is the companion of the other. It all ties in, or at very least can be interpreted as doing so.

With “Two Forms Moving” offering such a willfully multifaceted take, its feel becomes intense by the time the solo and the acoustic lines are shifting through their build. The entirety of Companion Rises doesn’t necessarily hold that pattern, but “The Scout is Here,” which follows directly, does. But the balance of the mix shifts, so that Chasny‘s vocal melody is more prominent, the electric guitar comes in intermittent spurts of solo flourish early on, and later shifts to a complementary role playing off the acoustic part and thus the song is more cohesive and less mindboggling on the whole. There is still forward movement in the two guitars — and there might be more than two by the time the five-minute track gives way to amp hum to close — but it’s still easier for the listener to process than some of what’s come before. “Black Tea” continues that thread, pushing the electric further down and bringing in simple percussion — it might be a hand tapping a guitar — as the singing takes on multiple layers and moves gorgeously through several verses. It is songs like “Black Tea” and the centerpiece title-track right after it that showcase why Six Organs of Admittance is still so often considered folk having long since let go of most genre conventions.

Six Organs of Admittance

If one is thinking of companionship, then that between “Black Tea” and “Companion Rises” makes all the more sense, as well as that of “Haunted and Known” and the penultimate “Mark Yourself,” the former of which takes a subdued, quiet moodiness that is as quintessentially Six Organs of Admittance as one could possibly hope for and blasts it apart after three minutes or so with a consuming wash of synth backed by far-off howls of electric guitar. It is beautiful and cinematic in kind, not rife with drama or pretense, but it feels grand just the same, and “Mark Yourself” answers back by bringing acoustic and electrics forms together once again, this time with other looped vocal arrangements and more besides, but gradually fading to a standalone line of piano, giving way to the drone soundscaping of closer “Worn Down to the Light,” which at four minutes long is an instrumentalist response perhaps to “Pacific,” though decidedly less wavy in its execution. In any case, by then, the album’s theme is well established and brought to fruition through idea and craft alike.

Ultimately, there is enough depth to Chasny‘s songwriting that the individual listener can decide how deep they want to go in their own read. Companion Rises, which even unto its sunset-thus-likely-moonrise cover art speaks to the notions it puts forth, balances richness and fullness of sound with the aforementioned sense of intimacy that comes in part simply from being a solo LP, even playing much of this material live would require a band or at least a pedal board big enough to accommodate one — a well-programmed laptop would do it too, one guesses. And even as it has to be acknowledged that although so much of Companion Rises is given to considerations of togetherness, it was made by one person alone, it seems clear through the listening experience that what’s being meditated on throughout is a sense of interaction. Place is part of it, as “Pacific” and “The 101” show, but it runs deeper through “Two Forms Moving,” “The Scout is Here” and even “Black Tea” and “Companion Rises” itself, the sweetness of the melody in that title-track at a deceptive peace with the organ line that keeps it company.

One way or the other — or, more likely, both — Six Organs of Admittance manifests loneliness and the excitement at being with others, and even if that interpretation is totally wrong and the album title has nothing to do with anything in the tracks and the whole thing is a lie meant to mislead anyone who takes the record on, it doesn’t matter. The simple fact that these songs can speak to these ideas and potentially others is further proof of how crucial Chasny‘s work is.

>Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises (2020)

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