Frydee Melvins

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 29th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I’ll say it: I’m feeling damn good going into this weekend. Got that Iron Man show tonight, and next week marks one year of The Obelisk. The numbers look good and a little bit ago I got off the phone from interviewing Dave Fucking Chandler of Saint Fucking Vitus, so I’m pretty stoked on life right now. It’s way better than flushing your car keys down someone’s toilet. That interview and a bunch more about the anniversary (and hopefully some other stuff) kick off next week, so until then, please enjoy this awesome Melvins video, filmed live at Amoeba Records in California. They do “Honey Bucket” from the classic Houdini album. Rock.

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Getting Ritualistic with Mondo Drag

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Hailing from the hotbed of righteous psychedelia known as Devenport, Iowa, the five-piece Mondo Drag blend retro stylization, modern approaches and timeless groove for a concoction both lysergic and familiar. Their debut, New Rituals, was just released via Alive Records. Ever vigilant in these cases, the PR wire has the info:

Merging exciting psychedelic rock with an electric blues edge, Mondo Drag delivers a sound that references the past while pushing forwards towards the future (Jimi Hendrix, Pentagram, Blue Cheer and even Pink Floyd are part of the band’s musical lexicon, while Sonic Youth hints to its current references). Mondo Drag’s first-rate live performances have become a thing of local legend in and around its Midwest home and have seen the band share stages with artists such as Sleepy Sun, Dead Meadow, Witchcraft, Radio Moscow, Jennifer Gentle, The Dodos, Cass McCombs, Awesome Color and Monotonix to name a few. With a hulking wall of sound, an arsenal of guitars and a head full of clouds, Mondo Drag is on a rock ‘n’ roll mission.

A taste of what Mondo Drag’s New Rituals holds in store can be sampled now as the record’s intoxicating title track has been posted online at this location. In celebration of the release of New Rituals, Mondo Drag has announced upcoming US tour dates as well as multiple appearances at the 2010 SXSW Music Festival, set to take place March 17-21 in Austin, TX.

Mondo Drag live dates:
February 6 – Iowa City, IAWhite Lightning Wherehouse
February 9 – St. Louis, MOOff Broadway Nightclub
February 10 – Carbondale, ILThe Swamp
February 11 – Lexington, KYAl’s Bar
February 12 – Nashville, TNSpringwater Supper Club
February 13 – Murfreesboro, TNWall Street
February 14 – Greenbrier, TNLoudhouse Coffee
February 15 – Cincinnati, OHBlue Rock Tavern
February 16 – Detroit, MICorktown Tavern
February 17 – Chicago, ILThe Mopery
February 18 – Dekalb, IL – House Show
February 20 – Davenport, IARME Hall (New Rituals CD release show!)
March 17 – Austin, TXCheers on 6th (SXSW)
March 20 – Austin, TXElectra Beauty Lounge (SXSW)

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The Atlas Moth Continue Never-Ending Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

It suddenly occurs to me that I never reviewed The Atlas Moth‘s Candlelight debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky. What a dick. While it’s a little late, I may or may not rectify the situation sometime soon (that vague enough?). While I’m weighing out the pros and cons, check out these tour dates from the PR wire:

Cerebrally pulverizing Chicagoan quintet The Atlas Moth will be blazing a good chunk of the East Coast and Midwest on the road this March with Coalesce and Harvey Milk. The low-end triple-guitar thunder the band are well-known for creating on stage is as massive as it is mesmerizing, as witnessed on their 2009 live with Dark Castle, Wetnurse, Black Cobra, Nachtmystium, PentagramJavelina and countless more.

The Atlas Moth w/ Coalesce, Harvey Milk:
3/05/2010 Rex TheatrePittsburgh, PA
3/06/2010 Kung-Fu NecktiePhiladelphia, PA
3/07/2010 The OttobarBaltimore, MD
3/08/2010 Le Poisson RougeNew York, NY
3/09/2010 Middle East [Downstairs]Boston, MA
3/10/2010 Il MotoreMontreal, QC
3/11/2010 WreckroomToronto, ON
3/12/2010 Smalls BarHamtramck, MI
3/13/2010 SubterraneanChicago, IL

The Atlas Moth at SXSW 2010:
3/18/2010 East End TattooAustin, TX @ showcase
3/20/2010 The MetropolisAustin, TX – early show
3/20/2010 21st CO OPAustin, TX – late show
3/21/2010 Red 7Austin, TX – Goodbye Southby

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No More Red Carpets for J.D. Salinger

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Not much for obits, but let’s give this a shot:

Yes, we all rejoiced seeing him stroll down the lane each year at the Academy Awards, the Grammys and sometimes even those pesky Golden Globes, but alas, author J.D. Salinger, who so loved the limelight, is dead today at 91. Much like after the 2009 passing of Michael Jackson, his fans have lined the streets of Los Angeles in poorly-printed bootleg t-shirts bearing his image, and there seems to be no end to the public grieving in sight.

In all seriousness, I’ll say this for the guy: J.D. Salinger totally hated your guts. He didn’t even know you. In fact, in all likelihood he hated you before you were born, and he hated your parents too. And he meant it. A genuine American misanthrope in the 20th Century; the age of ever-increasing access and he wouldn’t have it. I guess that’s admirable. Much as anything, anyhow.

And where would we all have been without his most famous work, 1951’s The Catcher in the Rye, to validate all our directionless teenage angst and ennui? To tell us who “the phonies” were and who were the real people? Certainly we were all made real by Holden Caulfield, and you can be sure that had the book never existed and someone actually come along to tell us that, at 15 years old, we weren’t the center of the universe and that whatever trivial emotional turbulences we were experiencing amounted to less than nothing on the scale of human suffering, we wouldn’t have believed them anyway. With Catcher in the Rye, we didn’t even have to pretend to buy it. We really were the center of the universe.

Salinger so loved and understood teenagers, in fact, that at 35 he married one. In strict defiance of the “half your age plus seven” rule and in what can only be called his “living the dream” phase, he rejected the fame and literary praise being heaped on him, took a 19-year-old bride and lived as a recluse for the rest of his days (not that the marriage lasted that long). A quick question: would you ever leave the house if you were 35 and newly wedded to someone 16 years your junior? Seclusion seems an immediately more logical option.

The good news in all of this is now his offspring can plunder through the reported 15 completed manuscripts he left behind and sell the movie rights for his life at top dollar to Paramount (I think Ben Affleck would be perfect for the role, don’t you?), pissing all over his legacy, yes, but breathing much needed new life into freshman high school curricula everywhere. Jerome David Salinger: you will be missed?

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Kongh: The Shadows Taking Shape

Posted in Reviews on January 28th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Echoes of YOB’s The Unreal Never Lived pop up on Swedish trio Kongh’s sophomore full-length, whether it’s the driving rhythm that built tension “Quantum Mystic” transposed onto opener “Unholy Water” or the malevolent triplet riffing of “The Mental Tyrant” in the closing title track. By keeping their sound generally darker, though, and adding elements vocally and otherwise out of black metal, Kongh make it through the five tracks of Shadows of the Shapeless without sounding overly redundant or derivative.

Issued first in Europe by Trust No One, Shadows of the Shapeless finds distribution Stateside via Chicago imprint Seventh Rule Recordings. No strangers to the town, Kongh played the 2008 Kuma’s Doom Fest, which marked their first US appearance. Whether the narrative actually goes that that’s where and when they came to the attention of Seventh Rule (one imagines it was actually before), it’s impressive they’d wind up on the label nonetheless, Seventh Rule in the past having issued albums from Akimbo, Sweet Cobra, Indian and Wetnurse.

The music on Shadows of the Shapeless is bound to inspire all manner of antler-laden hyperbole and metaphor, but what it rounds out to is post-metal crunch with darker and heavier shades that set it apart from the pseudo-cerebral approach that so much of the genre has taken on these last few years. To call it progressive wouldn’t be a mistake, but guitarist/vocalist David Johansson successfully averts the Isis trap and crafts a more natural-feeling soundscape. As the press release suggests, the music is cinematic, but sitting and parsing through its ups and downs, blasts and lulls, feels like a waste of time as compared to experiencing the whole of each of these songs.

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Black Math Horseman Go Continental

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

California psychedelicists Black Math Horseman‘s Tee Pee Records debut, Wyllt was one of the warmest meandering records of 2009. You just wanted to follow it wherever it was going. Likewise, I’d kind of like to follow the band as they tour around Europe in April, starting with an appearance at the much-discussed Roadburn festival and taking it from there. I’ll just have to console myself with their new video for “Tyrant,” which the label hosted over at Converse‘s blog. Apparently someone at Converse decided they like stoner music (they’re also sponsoring the Small Stone day party at SXSW). Good for them. Whoever it is, email me and we’ll discuss licensing costs for some exclusive Obelisk customs. Fun all around.

But back to Black Math Horseman. Click the image to see the video in all its infrared glory and behold the dates from the PR wire:

Black Math Horseman have announced a UK/European tour in April to coincide with their appearance at the 2010 Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland. Tour info is below.

2/19 SpacelandLos Angeles, CA w/ Ancestors and Intronaut
4/17 Roadburn FestivalTilburg, NL
4/18 TBA – London, UK
4/20 HafenklangHamburg, GER
4/21 SteinburchDuiburg, GER
4/22 DB’sUtrecht, NL
4/23 ConnewitzLeipzig, GER
4/24 BeatpolDresden, GER
4/25 Yacht ClubBrno, CZ
4/26 Cafe CairoWürzburg, GER
4/27 SedelLuzern, CH
4/28 RosenkellerJena, GER
4/29 TBA – Berlin, GER

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Pushing the Limits of Distortion with Skullflower

Posted in Reviews on January 28th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

What starts out as a litmus test for how much drone punishment a listener can handle not so quickly becomes an encompassing ritual nearly religious in its scope. Skullflower’s Strange Keys to Untune Gods’ Firmament (Neurot) is a double-disc, 12 track excursion to the outer limits of instrumental noise. There are no songs, no catchy choruses, no pop structures. UK-based guitarist Matthew Bower continues his 20-plus year run of unbridled experimentation, now as the sole creative force within the band.

It is, for most who’d even be brave enough to take it on, completely unlistenable. Bower makes no attempt to meet his audience halfway or do anything that might make his music more accessible. This, for a small but loyal cult segment of the underground, is precisely what has earned him such acclaim these past decades in his various projects, and with Strange Keys to Untune Gods’ Firmament, the idea seems not so much to expand the horizons of noise — because Bower’s already done that — but rather to engage in the rites of the unhinged and to make a work that, apart from the already-stretched limits of its instrumentation, is truly without borders.

That said, there can be no doubt that Skullflower’s latest is bound to be more appreciated than heard. The destructive chaos of these tracks is rampant throughout, and makes most bands who talk of their sound as apocalyptic seem even sillier than they did themselves. Take the vocals out of the first two Godflesh records and play them at quarter-speed. Repeat for two hours and enjoy. Or, more likely, don’t. Doesn’t seem to matter to Bower.

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So, About This Scion Rock Fest…

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

…To be perfectly frank, I can’t decide where I’m at with this thing. By all accounts, the inaugural Scion Rock Fest was a blast last year in Atlanta, and Columbus, where it’s being held this year, is a substantially shorter drive. There are a couple CD stores there I’d like to check out, and with YOB and Shrinebuilder on the show, I know I’d at least get my money’s worth — especially since the entry is free.

Not only that, but arguing in favor of my attendance is that it’s my spring break and I wouldn’t even have to worry about the reading/writing I should be doing for school (that comes later in the week, like Monday). And even the bigger, heavier acts like Hate Eternal or Cannibal Corpse, they’re certainly cool by me. I know I’ve dropped hints here before, but I’m a big fan of well done death metal, and though I’ve seen both of those bands and most of the others on the bill in whom I’d be interested in seeing, it might be a cool mix to catch them together in one sitting.

On the other hand is the whole Scion thing. Not even so much the corporate sponsorship, but the fact that they put their name as the first word in it. It was never Cheetos Emissions from the Monolith or Honda Stoner Hands of Doom. Even SXSW, which actually has plenty, shows a little decorum about their rampant name-selling (at least until you get there). So what’s a boy to do?

Well, I know I’m not flying to Austin this year, and it’s looking more and more like Roadburn isn’t going to happen either, despite my wishes to the contrary. If they do another Planet Caravan in Asheville, I could be down for that, but that’s later in the summer, and honestly, I could stand to get the hell out of the valley for a day or two, even if most of that time is spent on Rt. 80. The debate rages on, and I can’t imagine they’re finished adding bands to the Scion Rock Fest, so we’ll see how it all plays out. Needless to say, if I do end up making the trip, I’ll let you know.

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