The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Riff Fist, Fistful of Riffs

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

From where I sit, stoner rock charm is a very peculiar and particular kind of charm, and Riff Fist have all the earmarks. A trio of lugs from Down Under, they’re armed with inside jokes, guitar-bass-drums and steady Fu ManchuClutch and Kyuss influences, a cartoon Clint Eastwood on their cover (by Brian Koshak) and a four-track debut EP of riff-led shenanigans that they’ve decided to call — just in case you didn’t get the point from the fact that they’re called Riff FistFistful of Riffs. Ambitious it is not.

But really, if have any experience listening to stoner rock whatsoever and you go into listening to a band called Riff Fist who have a release called Fistful of Riffs thinking you’re going to wind up with innovation, it’s your own fault. That’s not what Riff Fist are about. They’re about riffs, booze, and — again, the way I see it — charm. I don’t listen to “Spud King” with any kind of expectation for something landmark that will change my life forever. I listen hoping I’m going to hear a dude singing about being king of the potatoes, and thankfully, that’s just what I get from Riff Fist, and if that’s not enough to let you know how seriously Cozza, Grondo and Casey don’t take themselves, between calling out Fu Manchu in third track “Riff Stew” and the picture of one of the band members on a riding a pony under the CD tray in the digipak with the caption “It’s a Satanic Pony Thing… You Wouldn’t Understand” should fill in any blanks that might be left. Accordingly, they close out the EP with the eight-minute jam “Ride the Pony.”

Given all that and the fact that though it’s pretty raw vocally, the Melbourne three-piece’s first outing nonetheless comes with clean tones and some decent-sounding low end punch, I’m more than happy to get down with the silliness on offer. “Spud King” has some blues in its leads and “Fingerless Ben” is memorable for its strangeness as much as its chorus, but at least if Riff Fist are having a good time, they’re inviting you to have one too. I don’t know if the formative methods they’re showing here would pay off for them over the course of a full-length without something to sonically change it up — “Ride the Pony” branches out instrumentally some as it plays out, but is still very stoner rock and righteously, unashamedly so in this context — but as it is, what seems like the cream of their initial batch of songs since forming in 2011 appeals to the goofball in me. Wherever they go from here, it’s still fun.

And figuring it might be good times every now and again to have “Spud King” or “Ride the Pony” pop up in the playlist, I added Riff Fist‘s Fistful of Riffs to The Obelisk Radio. As standard practice seems to go for self-releasing bands, they’ve got the EP available on their Bandcamp too for CD and/or digital purchase, so here’s the stream of that as well if you’d like an immediate sampling:

Riff Fist, Fistful of Riffs (2013)

Riff Fist on Thee Facebooks

Riff Fist on Bandcamp

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Supernormal Festival Lineup Features 11 Paranoias, Coma Wall and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Weirdos abound, it seems, but hey, that’s cool. If you wanna get together in a field in Oxfordshire and freak out for a weekend while all kind of folks do all kinds of whacky stuff, I can think of way worse ways to spend that time. In all seriousness, over the last couple years, the UK’s Supernormal Festival has built increasingly strong and wildly diverse lineups, and as this year’s features a heavy touch from Caravan of Whores, 11 Paranoias and a slew of others — Coma Wall, who are the acoustic alter ego of Undersmile, will also play — posting the lineup for anyone in the area who might be able to attend didn’t seem too far fetched.

If anyone’s going or has gone, I’d love to hear how the vibe is at one of these things. Less so the Disco Tent than in general, but still:

Supernormal is a festival like no other, providing a powerful antidote to the current malaise of festivals-as-big-business. Blurring the boundaries between art and music, performer and audience, it champions the iconoclastic and the experimental, allowing risks to be taken and leaps of imagination to occur. Somewhere in spirit between the original Glastonbury Fayre and an eccentric village fete, Supernormal is the alternative’s alternative.


Clinic | Terminal Cheesecake | Bass Clef | David Thomas Broughton
Shit And Shine | Woodpecker Wooliams | Hookworms | Michael Chapman
11 Paranoias (Feat. Members Of Ramesses & Bong) | Agathe Max & Cyril M
Art Of Burning Water | Baby | Coma Wall | Daniel Wakeford
Cosham Community Players Association | Dan Haywood’s New Hawks
Dead Sea Apes | Dogeeseseegod | Dethscalator | Duke Garwood
Caravan Of Whores | Feature | Comanechi | Elle Osborne Trio
Evil Blizzard | Good Throb | Greta Pistaceci | Guncleaner
H Zamzam | Headquarters | Hugh Metcalfe | Las Kellies | Mugstar
Olanza | Mothers Of The Third Reich | Poulomi Desai | Red Square
Richard Dawson | Shabash | Shield Your Eyes | Snoozie Hexagon
Sun Skeletons | The Physics House Band | Unicorndad Vrs Robotdad
Thee Bald Knobbers’ Church Of Chaos | Tomaga | Zombie Crash
Grey Hairs | Homosexual Death Drive | Horse Loom | Weird Menace
Shopping | I’m Being Good | Les Bonbons | Sea Bastard

Multi-disciplinary arts programme featuring over 30 international, contemporary artists, presenting work including installation, intervention, performance, sound and spectacle.


— Artist-Led Workshops
— Full Cinema Programme
— Disco Tent
— Local Food
— Discussions And Talks

Weekend Tickets £75 – No Booking Fee!

Ramesses, Live at Supernormal 2012

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Wino Wednesday: The Obsessed, Live at NSect Club, Hampton, VA, 04.18.94

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Apart from the obvious, which is the video itself, what I like about this full-show clip from The Obsessed in 1994 is that it’s a stand-in for me that indicates just how much there actually is out there from pre-internet ubiquity, and how little of it we run into in our daily lives. For everything that’s made its way online, there have to be thousands upon thousands hours of footage just like this show, sitting in the private collection of whoever shot it, like a hidden piece of (buried) treasure, just waiting to be appreciated by whoever might finally come along and discover it with some idea of what they’re seeing. A whole universe of untapped bootlegs. Fucking awesome.

In 1994, The Obsessed would’ve been touring fresh on the release of The Church Within, which, sure enough, is where much of their setlist is taken from. Stands to reason. The trio at this point was guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Guy Pinhas and drummer Greg Rogers, and arguably this would’ve been the band at their biggest point. Hellhound Records — who also released The Obsessed‘s 1991 comeback, Lunar Womb, and their self-titled the year prior that — had joined forces with Columbia Records, so where prior Obsessed outings had no real commercial push, you can still find the CD singles out there for “Streetside” and “To Protect and Serve” if you’re willing to look.

And of course like the best doom, it takes about 20 years for it to find its full audience appreciation, so while commercial success eluded The Obsessed at the time, let their sets last year and this year at Roadburn, Hellfest, Maryland Deathfest and their upcoming slot at Power of the Riff in L.A. stand as testament to the enduring appeal of this material. Obviously the sound isn’t great, and it’s a long way off from 1080p, but I hope you take this complete 36-minute set for what it is, and I hope you enjoy.

Have a great Wino Wednesday:

The Obsessed, Live at NSect Club, Hampton, VA, April 18, 1994

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Visual Evidence: Brad Moore Talks about Creating the Cover for Argus’ Beyond the Martyrs

Posted in Visual Evidence on July 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Having done work for the likes of Penance, Place of Skulls, Sixty Watt Shaman, Züül and a host of others over the last 20-plus years, artist Brad Moore is known for a signature, definitively-metal style that nonetheless largely defies the black and white and mostly black convention of metal in favor of rich colors and textures. His work on Pennsylvania classic doomers Argus‘ two albums to date — 2009’s Argus and 2011’s Boldly Stride the Doomed — has proven particularly distinct.

As such, when Argus unveiled the art yesterday for the forthcoming third full-length, Beyond the Martyrs, I hit up Moore on the quick to see if he could give some insight on what went into painting it and what inspired the tone and complexity of the piece, which you can see below.

Click the image to enlarge, and special thanks to Moore for his input:

Argus, Beyond the Martyrs front cover

When Argus approached me about painting the artwork for their debut LP, we all agreed we wanted to sidestep the “warriors with swords” thing, and that gory art wouldn’t adequately complement the style of music and subject matter the band were striving to create. We all felt a “Lovecraftian” approach was best, to framework doomy metal that has a mystery to its feel. I created the creature that adorns the Argus covers (at least, the ones I had a hand in) to be the mascot, and though you’ll see it does not utilize any of Lovecraft‘s personal motifs (tentacles, amorphous blob-like gods, etc.), the whole effect is like those Lovecraft paperbacks. I deliberately use unusual color schemes for Argus, as I feel that way too many doom/death metal bands use a grey/black monotone approach that gives the scene, as a whole, a generic feel. I did paint their second LP, Boldly Stride the Doomed, in a very monochromatic style, to completely separate the two recordings, as Boldly is a much darker album than the self titled debut.

Getting to the newest Argus effort, Beyond the Martyrs, the cover painting is titled “Alien Gateway to the Gallery of the Martyrs” precisely because the band wanted to have an “otherworldly” atmosphere to the proceedings, and to have the artwork reflect a dark-but-with-colors feel. In essence; not the near over-the-top colors of the first one, but having toned-down colors to maintain the doom, but suggest a correlation of the two albums that signifies the forward growth of the band. This Argus outing will be their most aggressive! I, for one, am happiest with this new artwork the most, both in mood, and technical achievement.

Argus will release Beyond the Martyrs on Oct. 1 in the US and Oct. 4 in Europe on Cruz Del Sur. More on the album to come.

Argus on Thee Facebooks

Brad Moore website

Cruz Del Sur

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on July 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

This one is something special, and since the story Chris “Woody High” MacDermott is telling is so excellent, I don’t even want to spoil it with too much intro. Here, 30 years to the day, are Woody‘s memories of seeing Motörhead for the first time ever, July 31, 1983, at L’Amour in Brooklyn.


It certainly doesn’t feel like THIRTY FUCKIN’ YEARS ago that I first saw Motörhead, but the ticket stub clearly states 7/31/83. And not only was it my first time seeing my favorite band but it was also my first trip to the legendary metal club L’Amour in Brooklyn.

I have no idea how I heard about the show. Probably from one of L’Amour‘s radio ads. They’d loop the opening riff to Van Halen‘s “Mean Streets” as background music and an announcer would read off the list of upcoming shows — Twisted Sister, Johnny Winter, Saxon, etc., etc. Earlier in ’83, L’Amours opened a second location called L’Amours East in Elmhurst, Queens. A lot of bands would play both clubs on consecutive nights. But when Motörhead came to town they had to outdo everyone and play three nights in a row – – Friday, July 29, in Queens then Saturday and Sunday in Brooklyn. The Sunday show was going to be all-ages. (The Queens show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show and later released on CD). I was 15 years old at the time with a fake ID acquired at the Postermat on 8th Street in Greenwich Village. It worked buying beer at Milk-N-Things in Pelham and Jack Daniels at the liquor store next to it, but I had no idea if it would get me into a Brooklyn nightclub. The drinking age was only 18 back then but I didn’t want to get shut down trying to see Motörhead. The Ticketron outlet in the New Rochelle mall must have been gone because I had to take a MetroNorth train into Manhattan to buy a ticket at the Grand Central location. I can still remember the thrill of buying that ticket. I had worked all morning on a Saturday at my job making trophies in the garage of my science teacher. We finished early that day and when he paid me I walked straight to the train station. I didn’t have time to go downtown to buy any records on this trip but I did pick up a Hustler magazine and a Foster’s oil can for the train ride home. Even just a 20-minute visit in NYC provided more thrills than a month up in Westchester County.

In June of ’83. Motörhead had released their latest album, Another Perfect Day. I just happened to be in Bleecker Bob’s the day that it came in. Man, I was fuckin’ stoked. I knew they had a new album coming but had no idea when I’d actually see it. There it was in the bins alongside a 12″ single for “I Got Mine.” Even though they were both expensive imports ($5.98 for the single alone!), I knew I might never see them again. The cover to Another Perfect Day really tripped me out. It looked like someone had the cover to Overkill painted on the back of their denim jacket in watercolors and then left it out in the rain. There was also a cool insert with lyrics on one side and a hilarious comic strip on the other. The band photo on the cover of the “I Got Mine” single was cool. They all looked completely hungover. Brian Robertson‘s designer jeans and silver jewelry looked a little silly but, hey, he was in Thin Lizzy and he looked better than he did on the cover of Fighting. I instantly loved the record. I thought it kicked ass from start to finish and I thought Brian‘s guitar playing was incredible. Totally different from Fast Eddie‘s but it still sounded like Motörhead. There was zero radio airplay and no one else at school had the record so I wasn’t influenced at all by other people’s opinions. Kerrang gave it a decent review but I didn’t give a shit what they had to say neithers.

Anyway, it was complete torture waiting for the end of July to roll around but eventually it was Sunday, July 31. My friend Wayne was supposed to go to the show with me but he made the mistake of telling his parents the truth and got shut down. I, of course, completely lied to my mother. Never in a million years would she go for it. The only reason she let me go to shows at Madison Square Garden was because I bought the tickets with the money I was earning. As long as I put a certain amount in the bank every week, my metal habit was barely tolerated. I had a big decision to make. Should I blow off Motörhead or travel to Brooklyn alone? There really was no choice. (I must mention that about a year later I had to bail out on Wayne for a Metallica show at L’Amour at the last minute. I’m still not over it.)

After an uneventful MetroNorth train ride into Grand Central I had to confront the reality of not knowing how the hell I was going to get to Brooklyn. Don Cherry asked the question “Where Is Brooklyn” on his classic Blue Note album in 1966. Here I was as a 15-year-old dipshit with a Motörhead ticket inside my velcro Motörhead wallet with the same problem. I asked the token booth clerk how to get to 62nd Street in Brooklyn and he told me to take the B train. After a few confused attempts, I finally found where to get on the B and I was on my way. The summer of ‘83 was the first time air conditioning was added to some subway cars. The one I was riding on definitely did not have any for the very long ride into Bensonhurst. When I finally got off the train I had no idea where the club was. I spotted a dude in a Twisted Sister shirt puffin’ on a joint so I asked him. Without exhaling (or offering me any) he just pointed down the street. As I turned the corner I saw a completely industrial block full of headbangers. I could hear someone blasting a Motörhead tape out of a parked car. People were hanging out and drinking beers. Every single person had on some kind of metal shirt and most had a denim vest with something painted on the back and covered in patches. There were lots of bullet belts, studs and spikes, too. I thought I was hot shit in my Motörhead shirt with an Iron Maiden button on it. Not so much.

Stepping inside L’Amour was unreal. The DJ was cranking some of the best metal I’d ever heard and a lot of it was brand new to me. I will never forget hearing Accept‘s “Fast As A Shark” for the first time there. The crowd was singing along to the “hi-dee-hi-doh-hi-da” intro and I had no idea what was going on when I heard a big needle scratch. When the furious double-bass drums kicked in I was completely floored. People were seriously losing their shit and headbanging like crazy. The first band hadn’t even played yet! It was also the first time I heard “Nuns Have No Fun” by Mercyful Fate. Everyone but me seemed to know the words. I didn’t even bother trying to ask anyone about where to get these records or which ones to buy. It was like I was trying to start a fire with two twigs and they had flame throwers. I had a lot of catching up to do. The DJ announced some upcoming shows, including one the following week by Raven and Metallica and people went completely berserk.

There were two opening acts. The first was The Poison Dollys, an all-female metal band. I’m pretty sure the second one was Cities. I don’t remember much about them because once Motörhead stormed the stage they were ancient history. There was no intro tape or anything. The DJ stopped playing records and everyone just started screaming “MOTÖRHEAD” at the top of their lungs. The first one out was Philthy behind the drums, followed by Lemmy and Robbo. There were only one or two people in front of me on Robbo‘s side of the stage. There were three Marshall stacks behind him. Lemmy had three more on the other side. Phil‘s drum set was huge. They started checking their instruments and it was significantly louder than Judas Priest and Iron Maiden at Madison Square Garden. That was a loud show. It was also louder than the Ramones show I saw in the front row of Iona College in New Rochelle the year before which was also loud as hell. Holy shit, this was gonna be awesome.

After screaming something into the mic about today’s show being for the young, Lemmy fired up the bassline to “Back at the Funny Farm,” the opening song on Another Perfect Day. When the band came in the noise was tremendous. You could see everyone sort of lean back for a second. Me and everybody else were banging their heads ferociously. This was at least a year before “moshing” became a regular thing at metal shows and it was glorious. The whooooshing sound of your noggin’ rockin’ only added to the deafening cacophony of Motörhead at full bore. It was no big deal if the dude behind you or next to you rested an arm on your shoulder to steady himself from time to time. The sound was so powerful it could knock you off balance. No worries. There were a few skinheads and punkers around, too but there were no hassles at all. I miss those days.

Most of the set were songs from Another Perfect Day — “Marching off to War,” “Tales of Glory,” “One Track Mind,” etc. They only played a few older songs like “America” and “Iron Horse.” No “Ace of Spaces,” “Bomber” or “Overkill.” I was dying to hear those songs but didn’t really care what they played as long as it was fast and loud. Robbo used some kind of fancy guitar synthesizer on the song “Another Perfect Day” to replicate the stuff he did on the album. I was totally blown away seeing a guitarist that great up close. I was also impressed he could rock that hard wearing satin shorts and a mesh tank top. The club was hot as hell and Robbo kept a bucket of water nearby and he’d splash himself in between songs. He wouldn’t take off his guitar or anything. I thought he’d electrocute himself. He would also duck behind his amps pretty regularly for a second and come back sniffing like crazy. It was obvious all three of them were jacked up to the max. I thought it was so cool how blatant they were about everything. Philthy had a big rotating fan behind him. He had horrible B.O. and it was just getting blasted into the crowd on top of the soundwaves. Lemmy had on a black t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, jeans, bullet belt and white boots. Earlier that day while waiting to get into the club I saw Lemmy come out of the backstage area and cross the street to get on the bus in the same outfit except for flip flops and cut off denim shorts. Bullet belt included.

When the show was over I was basically in a metal daze. I couldn’t hear a fuckin’ thing and my mouth must have been hanging open. It took almost three hours to get home but it was worth it. The next morning my ears were ringing very loudly. I loved the sound. I was amazed that they continued to ring for EIGHT MORE DAYS. After seeing Motörhead at L’Amour life was never the same.

Motörhead, Live at L’Amour East, Brooklyn, July 29, 1983

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Heavy Glow Tour Starts July 31 in San Francisco

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Los Angeles-based rockers Heavy Glow are set to begin an admirable stretch of touring tomorrow that will take them all along the West Coast and into the Midwest in support of a limited reissue of their 2011 outing Midnight Moan and their new Mine all Mine/Headhunter 7″. The vinyl — which if I’m not mistaken also features art from Mad Alchemy, who will join the band for live psychedelic visuals at the Chicago show on Aug. 21 as the poster below indicates — is limited to 300 copies, and it seems like a safe bet that by the time Heavy Glow are off the road this time out, they’ll be gone.

Here’s the latest off the PR wire:

psyche-soaked proto-metal, gutbucket garage rock Heavy Glow on tour, 7-inch vinyl release


Produced by Michael Patterson (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Beck, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) the two tracks on the Heavy Glow vinyl 7″ have an immense and compelling sound. Stephen King’s series, Under The Dome, on CBS television used the track, “Headhunter,” in the second episode to gripping effect. Stevie Salas (Mick Jagger, Steve Vai, Rod Stewart, Justin Timberlake) christened the band during their recording session with him. Press have sung the band’s praises and now audiences get the chance to see the band live on tour.

Heavy Glow Tour Itinerary (subject to change):
Sunday, July 31st at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco, CA
Friday, August 2nd at Kenton Club in Portland, OR
Saturday, August 3rd at The Comet Tavern in Seattle, WA
Sunday, August 4th at Silver Moon in Bend, OR
Tuesday, August 6th at New Frontier Club in Meridian, ID
Wednesday, August 7th at Red Room in Boise, ID
Thursday, August 8th at Burt’s Tiki Lounge in Salt Lake City, UT
Friday, August 9th at TBA in Denver, CO
Saturday, August 10th at Triple Nickel in Colorado Springs, CO
Sunday, August11th at Left Woods in Amarillo, TX
Monday, August 12th at The Conservatory in Oklahoma City, OK
Tuesday, August 13th at Lola’s Saloon in Ft. Worth, TX
Wednesday, August 14th at Stickyz Rock n Roll Chicken Shack in Little Rock, AR
Thursday, August 15th at TBA in Memphis, TN
Friday, August 16th at Smithe’s Old Bar in Atlanta, GA
Saturday, August 17th at 5 Spot in Nashville, TN
Monday, August 19th at MOTR Pub in Cincinnati, OH
Tuesday, August 20th at Foam in St. Louis, MO
Wednesday, August 21st at Cobra Lounge in Chicago, IL
Friday, August 23rd at Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, IN
Saturday, August 24th at Happy Dog in Cleveland, OH

Visit the band online at, on or on Twitter at heavyglowmusic.

Heavy Glow, Midnight Moan (2011)

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Vista Chino, Peace: The Desert was Our Home

Posted in Reviews on July 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Vista Chino has been a curious proposition from the start. As far as reunions go, I think even the members of Vista Chino would have to admit the circumstances that have led to their studio full-length debut, Peace (Napalm Records) have been convoluted and probably far less than ideal. What began as a Kyuss revitalization in the form of the John Garcia-fronted Garcia Plays Kyuss at the 2010 Roadburn festival and gradually morphed into tours with former Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri (also Queens of the Stone Age, Mondo Generator) and drummer Brant Bjork (also Brant Bjork and the Bros., Che) with guitarist Bruno Fevery under the moniker Kyuss Lives!, Vista Chino wound up becoming Vista Chino as a result of a lawsuit that had former Kyuss guitarist Joshua Homme (who went on to bone fide rock stardom in Queens of the Stone Age) and bassist Scott Reeder as its plaintiffs. In this context, it’s just as easy to read the album title Peace as a desperate plea as a relieved exhale. Perhaps it’s both. Whatever the case, this multi-tiered clusterfuck born out of the original reunion spearheaded by Garcia, initially on his own with members of European acts (including the Belgian-born Fevery), has led to new band Vista Chino Garcia, Fevery, Oliveri (who plays on the album but has been replaced live by C.O.C. bassist Mike Dean) and Bjork — making their first record as the inheritors of the Kyuss legacy, which presented in the massive influence of the three studio albums after their 1991 Wretch debut — Blues for the Red Sun (1992), Welcome to Sky Valley (officially a self-titled; 1994), and the ominously-titled …And the Circus Leaves Town (1995) — is indisputably the largest in the genre of desert rock. This is no small challenge, but whatever else Peace is able to accomplish over the course of its 49 minutes and 10 tracks split just about evenly time-wise to allow for vinyl sides, it maintains an element of consciousness throughout of the context in which it arrives. Then it sidesteps it and rocks out with abandon.

However a Kyuss reunion might’ve played out in a perfect world, Vista Chino, who recorded Peace at Thunder Underground in Palm Springs, handled the task before them the only way they could; they wrote a collection of honest songs that didn’t outwardly try to recapture what Kyuss was in its heyday, but invariably showed flashes of that owing to the involvement of Bjork, Garcia and Oliveri and the effect that being in Kyuss has had on their lives, better and worse. Perhaps most pivotal to the album’s ultimate success, nobody throughout Vista Chino‘s debut is doing an impression either of Homme‘s tone or his songwriting methodology. If anything, the name change brought on by legal mandate has allowed the group to begin the establishment of a new musical identity, and though Fevery‘s tone is rife with desert-styled fuzz, his manner of play particularly in the leads here and his handling of the riffs throughout is his own. Maybe that new identity wasn’t what Vista Chino were looking to do when they started out as Kyuss Lives!, but it’s where they ended up all the same. The closest Vista Chino comes to directly referencing Kyuss on Peace is probably in the central riff of “Planets 1 & 2,” which seems to be nodding at “Green Machine” from Blues for the Red Sun — but even there, the band finds personality of its own as Bjork steps in to share vocal duties with Garcia, something that, though he contributed to the songwriting all along while he was in Kyuss (he left prior to the last album), he never did before. Likewise, songs like “As You Wish” and the sweetly open-spaced “Barcelonian” showcase a laid back heft that, though Kyuss touched on at times and one could easily argue had a hand in pioneering, is more mature in its presentation and sense of purpose than the members of Vista Chino could’ve been at a younger age. The inevitable tradeoff is that it’s not new anymore and that Vista Chino inherently cannot instantly show up and invent desert rock the way Kyuss is often credited with doing (of course the reality is more complex than the narrative; see also “Black Sabbath invented heavy metal”). It’s already been done.

How do you, in putting tracks together, ignore that and proceed to make a record? I don’t know. And I don’t know what the division of songwriting labor on Peace was between Bjork, Garcia, Fevery and Oliveri, how much of the album was written separately as opposed to together in a rehearsal space or in the studio, but at some point, these players stopped looking back at what Kyuss was able to spearhead and started looking forward at what Vista Chino might be able to do to make a mark on the form. That could be something as simple as the jam from which the shuffle of the later “Dark and Lovely” resulted, maybe. What matters is, it happened, and however a given listener might feel about the circumstances by which Vista Chino became Vista Chino, it’s to the ultimate benefit of Peace that they did. To call these Kyuss songs would be to set a standard in the mind of anyone hearing them with a clue as to who Kyuss was that they invariably couldn’t meet. Peace probably wouldn’t work as a fifth Kyuss outing. As the first Vista Chino, it not only affirms the relevance in the craft and performance of the band, but it gives them a starting point from which they can expand on subsequent outings should they choose to do so, free of the restraints that an idea of “what Kyuss should sound like” might otherwise place on them. Had Garcia, Fevery, Oliveri and Bjork started out under the new name, it wouldn’t even be a matter of discussion. It’s fascinating to think of that as the feedback intro “Good Morning Wasteland” gives way to the driving “Dargona Dragona,” which is Peace‘s first impression on the listener. An album that only gets stronger and more complex as it plays out, “Dargona Dragona” provides Peace a mostly straightforward beginning, Fevery, Oliveri and Bjork starting out instrumentally before Garcia joins on vocals. When he does, his voice is more blown-out sounding than anywhere else on the record, presented with a kind of compression that cuts through the otherwise natural-sounding tones for the “ooh-ahh” chorus and seems high in the mix as a result. Though on the subsequent “Sweet Remain,” he pushes his range to what seems like as high and as guttural as it will go, on “Dargona Dragona,” the vocals are almost abrasive, even as the swirl and richness of fuzz the rest of the band creates is just beginning to establish itself.

That can, for the first several listens, be off-putting — or at very least, off-throwing; which may well have been Vista Chino‘s intent — but it’s easy enough to get used to, and both the verses and chorus are memorable enough that the quality of track outshines any puzzling aspects of its presentation. The aforementioned “Sweet Remain” follows with Bjork setting the beat on drums as Fevery joins with a layered riff and winding lead while Oliveri rumbles with characteristic and creative fills underneath and Garcia recounts through the chorus lyrics what reads like a direct reference to the band’s legal struggles — “And they lost their souls/When they lost their way/Yeah, we fight to the bone/But the spirit remains” (or thereabouts). After work in Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano and guest spots on countless other bands’ albums across the world, John Garcia sounds perhaps most at home in these songs as he has since Kyuss‘ initial run (though I’ll gladly champion his performances in the other acts noted as well). On “Sweet Remain,” he bleeds, and after a bouncing, gleefully insistent instrumental stretch, returns to ask, “And I wonder/Who’s fooling who/And I wonder/Who’s fooling you.” If nothing else, we glean that the sundry dramas surrounding the band are present on the minds of Vista Chino, and it was arguably much the same on Queens of the Stone Age‘s …Like Clockwork (review here) when it was released earlier this year. So be it. Following, “As You Wish” sticks to a similar lyrical thematic — the opening lines “Rise from ash/The phoenix comes” — but resides in a less hurried instrumental sphere, the bass prominent amid buzzsaw guitar and Bjork‘s drumming, which is subtly creative and periodically the glue holding the jams of Peace together. On a general level, “As You Wish” is more indicative of the spirit of Peace overall, laid back, heavy, ultra-grooved and jammed-feeling but given to moments of propulsive riffing, topped with Garcia’s inimitable vocals. Most immediate, it makes a fitting lead-in for “Planets 1 & 2,” which not only is one of the most enjoyable tracks on Peace but also, for Bjork taking the fore vocally, one of the stretches in which Vista Chino most carves out its own personality, separate from the legacy of Kyuss.

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Alunah Update on New Album and Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

It seems early, but here’s one to look forward to for 2014. British doomly four-piece Alunah will have their third full-length out as their debut on Napalm Records, and as a follow-up to last year’s infectious White Hoarhound (review here), I’m excited to hear what they come up with, especially with the inclusion of new bassist Dan Burchmore, who joined them earlier this summer.

As they continue writing and with the prospect of recording ahead of them, Alunah have some quality gigs booked for the interim with the likes of Samsara Blues ExperimentStubb and Benson Griffin, which is apparently a new Victor Griffin project that teams him with former Goliath vocalist David Benson. More on that to come as well, I’m sure.

Until then, this from the PR wire:

Writing the 3rd album and giving thanks to friends…

Our bassist Dan is now well and truly settled in, he played his first gig with us on the 18th July supporting Karma to Burn, and everyone’s response to him has been great.

Since Dan joined we’ve been locked away in our beloved murder hut deep in the Warwickshire countryside to begin writing for our third album. The three of us have just hit our seven year anniversary together with Alunah, and in that time we’ve been through a lot – mainly good and some bad! However, we’re still going strong with a new band member, and are writing material that we’re ridiculously excited about! Dan has some great ideas, and a majestic style of playing which has brought a new dimension to the Alunah sound. We currently have one of our favourite illustrators working on the artwork, and should have more release news for you towards the end of the year.

We also want to say a massive thank you to Mark at Psychedoomelic Records. Shadow Kingdom have now taken over Psychedoomelic due to Mark concentrating on other things. Mark believed in us by releasing White Hoarhound, he helped open the floodgates and led us to some amazing opportunities. We wish him all the best for the future.

We’ve recently added some new dates to the gig diary, these include a DesertScene promoted London date with fellow Sound of Liberation band Samsara Blues Experiment, and a Birmingham date with Benson Griffin(new project of Victor Griffin – Pentagram / Place of Skulls / In-Graved). All confirmed dates are below, we are also working on a UK tour later in the year. Please get in touch if you are interested in booking Alunah.

10/08 The Snooty Fox, Wakefield: Alunah, The Albion Codex & Rachael Hannah McCaul
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31/08 The Anvil, Bournemouth: Alunah, Iron Witch, Diesel King, Grifter, Eldorado, Greenhorn & Hummune
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05/10 Lock 42, Leicester: Alunah, Slow Worm, Mage & Temple of Lies
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27/10 Asylum 2, Birmingham: Benson Griffin, Alunah, Arkham Witch & Iron Void
12/11 Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton: Mammoth Mammoth, The Quill, Alunah & Gringo
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15/11 Borderline, London: Samsara Blues Experiment, Stubb & Alunah
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29/11 Hard Rock Hell, N Wales w/ Black Star Riders, Nazareth, Crucified Barbara & many others…

Alunah, White Hoarhound (2012)

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