Frydee Yawning Man

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 30th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

I feel like Duna Jam, the semi-official festival at which the above Yawning Man clip was shot this very year, represents the ultimate rock and roll pipe dream. Here are a few truly special, truly great bands — 2011’s incarnation featured the desert rock progenitors among some of their more celebrated offspring in Colour Haze, Sungrazer and Highway Child, among many others — getting together in an environment that’s completely intimate, but still totally open and probably among the most beautiful spots on the planet. Looking at the video from this year and the photos and clips that have emerged from years past, it’s not just a matter of being jealous of those fortunate enough to attend and wishing I was there, but of wishing I was there and was one of those people, was someone worthy of witnessing that, which I know completely that no matter what I do, I will never be.

Back here in reality, this week caps off with the start of what’s sure to be a beery kind of weekend owing to sundry unrelated social obligations throughout the course. Whatever. If all I was using those brain cells for was wishing I was at Duna Jam, they weren’t doing me any good anyway. Nonetheless, provided survival, next week we’ll do the numbers for July (I haven’t looked, so I can’t give some clue as to how they are), as well as reviews of Blut, Sleestak and, hopefully, Freedom Hawk.

I’ll also have an email interview I conducted with the dudes in Borracho, in which they provided some insight into how the band came together from the remnants of Adam West and Assrockers, as well as hopefully some new audio from a certain British heavy rock band getting ready to land an impressive self-titled debut full-length on an increasingly well-reputed label. Apologies for the vagueness, but I don’t want to leave myself on the hook for something and not deliver, as I did last week when I promised a review of The Re-Stoned without remembering I’d already written up the album. Boy, is my face… dumb?

But enough of this ultra-self-aware, semi-intoxicated me-bashing. It’s well after two in the a period m periods, and I’m late for sleeping. I hope wherever you are or whatever you’re up to, you have a safe and air conditioned weekend, and I hope to catch you on the forum and back here Monday for more zany fun. Dig yourself, Lazarus.

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Buried Treasure: Haul That is Heavy, Vol. 4: Mega-Sale Edition

Posted in Buried Treasure on July 29th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

A mere two weeks ago, I posted notice that the kind souls at the All That is Heavy webstore were having a mega-sale with discs and t-shirts at 25 and 50 percent off. I also confessed that I did this only after going in and solidifying my own purchase. Well, the box showed up Wednesday and I’ve been making my way through the goods ever since. Here’s what I picked up:

The Body, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood
Paul Chain “The Improvisor,Cosmic Wind
Church of Misery, The Second Coming (Diwphalanx reissue)
Leif Edling, The Black Heart of Candlemass
The Gates of Slumber, Villain, Villain
500 Ft. of Pipe, Dope Deal
500 Ft. of Pipe, The Electrifying Church of the New Light
Masters of Reality, Pine/Cross Dover (American version)
Mustasch, Parasite!
OJM, The Light Album
OJM, Under the Thunder
OJM, Volcano
Ponamero Sundown, Stonerized
Raging Slab, Raging Slab (2009 Rock Candy reissue)
Sgt. Sunshine, Black Hole
Sin of Angels, In the Grip of Despair

Stuff like the 500 Ft. of Pipe and Mustasch I’d had my eye on for a long time. The psyched-up Fu Manchu fuzz of the former has been a delight long awaited. With The Body, I felt like I was finally giving into the hype, but at the sale price, decided it was now or never. Ponamero Sundown I wanted to listen to again before reviewing the new one and couldn’t find my old sleeve promo — apparently I’ve never heard of YouTube — and Masters of Reality I bought solely for the different label name on the side of the disc. It’s not the first time I’ve done that with them.

OJM I wanted to backlog since reviewing Volcano, and I included Volcano too because I didn’t have a full copy. The Raging Slab I very much enjoyed last night after work, imagining what new wave/no wave New Yorkers must have thought of them busting out those songs in 1989 and seeing the old pictures of drummer Bob Pantella, now of The Atomic Bitchwax. Sgt. Sunshine‘s a little stranger than I expected, but still pretty cool, and listening to it now, I think I might’ve already owned this Sin of Angels CD.

The rest I haven’t gotten to yet, but it’s worth noting that even with the drastically slashed prices, Dan and Melanie — the above-noted kind souls — included a freebie in the form of Black Materia, by Black Materia, which is rife with Anathema-style sorrow and metallic melody, in addition to being a Final Fantasy reference. Dig it.

The sale’s still on, but I don’t know for how long or anything like that. Hopefully I’ll have time to recoup some funds for another round before it ends, but even if not, I think I did alright the first time. If you missed the link above, check out the list of goods here.

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Ponamero Sundown, Rodeo Eléctrica: All Horns, No Bull

Posted in Reviews on July 29th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Listening to Rodeo Eléctrica, Stockholm rockers Ponamero Sundown’s second offering through Transubstans, I had to go back and make sure I had the right band. From what I recalled of the four-piece from their Stonerized debut (review here), they were gleeful in their stoner-rockingness, a little boozy, and primarily fuzzed out in the Swedish tradition. Rodeo Eléctrica, on the other hand, is slick and almost commercial sounding in its overall affect, the band forsaking the unassuming good times of “Alcoholic Deathride” and “Doctor of Evil” for the straightforward crunch of “1025” and the processed-sounding drums that launch the album on opener “Evil Wand.” It’s a shock, but had I not heard Stonerized, Rodeo Eléctrica probably wouldn’t sound so different from a lot of the less-fuzzed end of European stoner rock. Certainly the post-Colour Haze extended jam ethic that’s taken hold south of Scandinavia in Germany and The Netherlands doesn’t apply to Ponamero Sundown, but what they’re doing on Rodeo Eléctrica’s 13 tracks should still be familiar enough to anyone who’s heard their labelmates and countrymen Abramis Brama or Stonewall Noise Orchestra.

What Rodeo Eléctrica most has in common with Stonerized and with the above-noted Swedish acts is its consistency of songwriting. In a way the album feels very pieced-together from necessary components – they have the softer cuts in “Sorrows” and “Fathomless Nothingness,” the interludes in “Rodeo Eléctrica Part I” and the acoustic “Not the Time,” the slower, more contemplative “The Ghost” and plenty of upbeat rock in between on songs like “Sorrows,” “The Dice,” “1025” and “Shot for Glory” – but however familiar these elements might be, Ponamero Sundown put them to excellent use and place them precisely where they need to be for the record to work. The production is a major factor in the sound shift and in a lot of ways, it sounds like they had a checklist of what a heavy rock album needed and then set about filling it in their writing. As the final moments of “The Ghost” pick up and the song leads into Rodeo Eléctrica’s most memorable cut, “Goddess of the Sun,” I won’t deny they pull it off, but it’s worth acknowledging that Ponamero Sundown – guitarist Anders, bassist Oliver, vocalist Nicke and drummer Peter – sound conscious of every move they’re making here, and no matter how crisp the recording is or the quality of the songcraft, that the inevitable sacrifice is a feeling of spontaneity and novelty in the finished product.

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Interview with Sean McEleny of Skillit Art: The Sights of the Sands

Posted in Features on July 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

The comic book influence that Southern Californian artist Sean “Skillit” McEleny mentions in discussing his origins as a designer is readily apparent in his work. Whether it’s a giant bubbling worm creature on a poster for Stone Axe and All Time High or a team of three battleships taking on a giant robot in the middle of the ocean — as on the cover of Admiral Browning‘s latest (and recently-reviewed) album, Battle Stations — his figures and landscapes seem to be perpetually in motion.

Part of that has to be McEleny‘s use of bright, vivid colors. Where most think of heavy music as something dark, McEleny has tuned directly into the sweetness of tonality in desert rock and — as one can see in his series of posters for “Desert Rock at the IPAC” at the Indio Performing Arts Center — has managed to build an aesthetic that’s as much bathed in sunshine as it is held in check by thick borderlines.

As McEleny has aligned himself in recent years with the likes of Fatso Jetson, Dali’s Llama, House of Broken Promises and — perhaps most pivotally — Yawning Man, his posters and album covers have helped shape the visual concepts of desert rock, but he also maintains touch with his roots on the East Coast in his work for the aforementioned Admiral Browning, as well as several poster designs for fests and shows held in Maryland, near his former home in Washington D.C. Whoever is calling on his services, though, he maintains a consistent style while also serving the needs of bands and venues as only someone truly passionate about the music can.

In the conversation that follows, McEleny talks about growing into his own as an artist, his use of color, his deep-felt appreciation for the desert scene, and much, much more. Included with the Q&A are poster and album art images. As always, click on any to enlarge.

Please enjoy the interview after the jump.

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Orange Goblin Reveal Xmas Show Info

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

At this point, Orange Goblin‘s holiday shows and tours are the stuff of legend. Like rehab in reverse. I’ve never been fortunate enough to attend one myself, but my understanding is they keep a cooler nearby with a few spare livers, just in case anyone’s should give out before the night is through.

It’s a little bittersweet this year, though, since as a semi-proud Jersey Boy, I’m used to seeing Solace taking part in the debauchery. Nonetheless, the show must go on, and joining Orange Goblin at the Underworld in Camden, are Gentlemans Pistols and Sigiriya, who’ve also confirmed a September release for their recently-reviewed album, Return to Earth. More to come on that, but in the meantime, here’s the flier for the show:

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Magma Rise/The Asound Split 7″ Available for Streaming

Posted in audiObelisk on July 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Traditional doom heathens will recognize the names Gábor Holdampf and Kolos Hegyi, or at least the formidable Hungarian outfits from which they come — Wall of Sleep and Mood. Re-teamed in the four-piece Magma Rise, they follow last year’s Lazy Stream of Steel full-length with the track “Five” on a multi-continental split 7″ with North Carolinian rockers The Asound.

And while we’re talking familiarity, The Asound should ring bells with anyone who stops by this site regularly, since they’ve been reviewed twice now (here and here). It’s seems like a curious pairing at first — a Hungarian doom outfit and American heavy rockers — but both bands make off with some righteous riffery, and The Asound even slow their tempos a bit from their past offerings and match Magma Rise for doomly stomp. Seriously, “The Baron” pretty much marches.

The split is a joint release between Tsuguri and PsycheDOOMelic, and since I have reviewed The Asound twice in the span of 13 months, I thought hosting the tracks for streaming might be time well spent for anyone who hasn’t yet checked them out. If you’ve missed Magma Rise too up till now, you’ll definitely want to hit up “Five” on the player below, as it also rules. Dig it:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The Asound/Magma Rise split is out now in a limited edition of 500 7″ vinyl. Special thanks to Tsuguri Records (website here) and PsycheDOOMelic (website here) for letting me stream the tracks.

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Grandloom, Sunburst: Lights in the Desert Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

German trio Grandloom follow a stylistic course that seems to be hitting some kind of new echelon of prominence in 2011: namely, instrumental heavy psychedelia. The Cottbus threesome – guitar, bass, drums – rest in an in-between spot on the spectrum. They’re not as progressive as was 35007, not as riffy as Karma to Burn, not as desert-minded as their countrymen in Colour Haze, but one could just as easily argue they take influence from all three of those acts as well as some of Kyuss’ more spontaneous moments. The six mostly-extended tracks of Grandloom’s self-released debut studio full-length, Sunburst (which was preceded by 2010’s 5 Dollar Jam EP and 2009’s Live at Bautzener Tor), finds the Stoned From the Underground veterans following semi-plotted courses to meandering heaviness, occasionally relying on build structures or repeated parts, but not being afraid to throw a song into the ether and seeing how far out it goes. Though Sunburst begins straightforward with the opening movement of “Orbit Wobbler,” that soon proves to be pretty far out.

Without a vocalist and without any other kind of synth or noise contributions to fill out their sound, the onus is really on the three members of Grandloom to carry across their tracks with chemistry and fluidity – otherwise Sunburst simply falls flat. The record isn’t without its wandering moments, and occasionally in listening I’m left feeling they haven’t quite been able to pull a song like 12-minute closer “Earthvalley” as far back as they need to, but for the most part, they seem aware of the balance between quality jams and songwriting, and are able to walk that line well. The shortest inclusion here is second cut “Woodbridge” at 4:20, and it follows “Orbit Wobbler” with relatively straightforward stoner riffing that would have been no stretch to fit verses over, despite guitarist Thomas’ liberal soloing. It’s here though that bassist Hans begins to make his presence known in the rhythm section alongside drummer Rischi, offering fills that not only run alongside Thomas and contrast in the Butler/Iommi tradition, but are genuinely responsible for much of Sunburst’s character as the album develops. Hans’ playing becomes a major factor in the sound of the band, and much to both his and its credit.

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Vincebus Eruptum #11 Now Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 27th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

My only complaint with the long-running Italian print ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum is that it makes me want to spend money. I’ve written before about their unwavering dedication to underground heavy rock and psychedelia, but man, every time I’m fortunate enough to get an issue from these dudes, I find something else I want to buy.

In their new issue — #11, which they premiered at this year’s Stoned From the Underground fest in Germanythey cover some of the standard stuff. There are interviews with The Atomic Bitchwax and Blood Ceremony, Black Pyramid and Quest for Fire, among others. Good bands, and cool interviews, but names you’ve probably seen around.

Then there are the reviews, and it’s the reviews that always kill me. Bands I’ve never heard before, like Wight, Electric Moon, La Cuenta and Oyabun mocking me, saying, “Come on, motherfucker, you haven’t heard this shit yet! Get it! Get it!” All this cool music taunting me, and damned if I don’t go for it every time. Nobody knows the European underground like Vincebus Eruptum. Issue #11 is available through their website, and as always, it comes highly recommended.

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