Friday Full-Length: Warhorse, As Heaven Turns to Ash

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Warhorse, As Heaven Turns to Ash (2001)

I know of few people who’ve heard it who don’t count Warhorse‘s As Heaven Turns to Ash among the heaviest albums they’ve experienced. Released in 2001 in the early going of Southern Lord — the CD is catalog number “sunn9” — it proved once and for all the malevolent potential in heavy riffing, extended cuts like “Doom’s Bride” and “Every Flower Dies No Matter the Thorns (Wither)” meting out lumbering punishment while holding onto an almost impossible sense of stoner groove, the three-piece lineup of bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne, guitarist Todd Laskowski (now both in reactivated death metallers Desolate) and drummer Mike Hubbard (now in Gozu) building a destructive swing that would be short-lived but continues to resonate 13 years later, while also fostering a complex sense of mood in ambient pieces like “Amber Vial” and “Dawn.”

The record is out of print now, the 2LP version going for $50 and up, and it seems ripe for a reissue one way or another, but for a lot of heads, As Heaven Turns to Ash remains a kind of well-kept secret. No question it was minimum five years ahead of its time — if it came out today, it wouldn’t be groundbreaking, but it sure as hell would get more attention than it did in 2001 — but that’s part of the appeal at this point too. It’s one of those records that captured something special and all its own, and while many have made attempts at their blend of stoneralia, psychedelic doom and sludgy extremity, Warhorse remain carved out in time as a lost classic and yet another of the genre’s tales of what could’ve been.

Hope you brace yourself, and hope you enjoy.

I announced this earlier on Thee Facebooks as well, but next Thursday, June 5, I’m going to be doing a guest spot on Diane FarrisKamikaze Fun Machine on 91.1 WFMU in New Jersey. This is a station I’ve admired for years and someone whose contributions I deeply respect, so it’s an absolute honor. Her show starts at noon on Thursday. I think the guests come in at 1PM, but you should listen to the whole thing because she kicks ass. More info on that is here. Please listen.

So yeah, probably not too many posts on Thursday, since I’ll be driving back from New Jersey after that and between the two, that’s pretty much the day. Look out on Monday for a Tombs track-by-track from Mike Hill, and Tuesday for an interview with All Them Witches. I’ll be in NJ for most of the week, and I was hoping to find a show to hit in NYC while I’m in (or near) town. Haven’t managed to do so yet, but I’m not ruling anything out.

There’s other stuff going on next week too, but I can’t remember. If you happen to be at the Freak Valley festival in Netphen, Germany, this weekend, you have my envy. Enjoy, be safe and rock and roll. That’s a killer lineup.

I guess the “enjoy, be safe” applies across the board. Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Duuude, Tapes! The Mound Builders & Bo Jackson 5, Split

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on May 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Easy to imagine the artwork meetings between the bands and Clayton Jarvis of Abom Designs involved the phrase, “Make it like in my nightmares” somewhere along the line. The four-eyed cat’s stare on the cover the new Failure Records and Tapes split cassette between Indiana-based acts Bo Jackson 5 and The Mound Builders makes sure the release is going to stay with you one way or another. There are only three songs on the thing, split up with The Mound Builders on side one and Bo Jackson 5 on side two (the included download reverses the order), and it’s done in a little over 17 minutes, but the liner is glossy, the art gorgeous if also horrendous, and both bands have enough time to make an impression.

In the case of Lafayette’s The Mound Builders, the double-guitar five-piece return with the same lineup from 2011’s Strangers in a Strange Land (review here) and show steady development of their Southern heavy rock sound. I still hear a good deal of Alabama Thunderpussy in their two inclusions, “Sport of Crows” and “Barroom Queen” — not a complaint — but the recording this time, particularly in Jason Brookhart‘s drums, is a little more metal, and that blends well with the thrashier gallop and the Down II-style turns of “Barroom Queen,” guitarists Nate Malher and Brian Boszor touching on “Stained Glass Cross” in the chorus while bassist Ryan Strawsma thickens the groove and vocalist Jim Voelz straddles the line between burly soul and a gruffer delivery. “Sport of Crows,” which appears first, has Strawsma more at the fore of the mix with a clean but resonant tone. It’s a little more aggressive than one might think of for riff rock, but that influence is there as it was on the full-length. Particularly in comparison to Bo Jackson 5, The Mound Builders come across as aiming for a steady, professional crispness in their sound, and that suits the material well.

There’s a few seconds’ delay for the side change, since Bo Jackson 5‘s “Bo Blacktop” is longer than “Sport of Crows ” and “Barroom Queen” together. The song, which follows their late-2013 full-length debut, checks in at just under nine minutes and has a much more homemade vibe almost immediately than did The Mound Builders. The Logansport duo of guitarist/vocalist Adam Gundrum and drummer Jason Perdue recorded live in what they’ve dubbed The Spacement, and “Bo Blacktop” sure enough sounds like a rehearsal. I like that, especially on a tape, so their noise rock riffing and jagged, semi-progressive punker edge works captured naturally, incongruous as it may be with what The Mound Builders are doing at the outset. Some memorable vocal lines from Gundrum hit before the riffs turn meaner, and “Bo Blacktop” drives hard toward what seems like an inevitable noisy finish. When it gets there, the cymbal wash from Perdue is almost abrasive, but the recording cuts off as if to underscore Bo Jackson 5‘s garage-punk fuckall, and as averse as I generally am to bands playing off celebrity names for their monikers — it’s a brand of irono-cynicism that will be a laughable mark of this decade in years to come; or maybe I should just lighten the fuck up — Gundrum and Perdue made me a fan by the time they were finished.

It was my first time hearing Bo Jackson 5, and they don’t have a lot in common with The Mound Builders, but sometimes it’s better to be surprised with something like this, and when I popped in the tape, part of the fun was not knowing what was coming. The split was a Record Store Day special, and limited to 100 copies, so I’m not sure how many are left or will be left to pick up from the label. The Mound Builders are already at work on their next outing, which will reportedly combine a new recording with a comic book, and Bo Jackson 5 recently opened for Supersuckers and will no doubt make a cowbell-laden return soon. I’ll keep an eye out.

The Mound Builders/Bo Jackson 5, Split Tape (2014)

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Bo Jackson 5 on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

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Sweet Cobra Announce European Tour Dates; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Underrated bombast specialists Sweet Cobra are playing with High on Fire this weekend in their native Chicago, and from there, the trio will join forces with Auxes for a run of European dates mostly in Germany and the Czech Republic. It’s been two years since the Seventh Rule veterans debuted on Black Market Activities with Mercy, and they’re reportedly got a follow-up in the works ready to release sometime before the end of the year. If you were, say, compiling a list of albums to watch for before 2015 and planning to post something like that in the next month or so, that might be handy information to keep in mind.

Ever-resilient, the PR wire seeks refuge among the converted:

Sweet Cobra Announces Upcoming European Tour w/ Auxes (ex-Milemarker)

New Album “Earth” Produced by Kurt Ballou and Matt Talbot of Hum Out Later This Year

The sonic assault of Sweet Cobra has been described by critics as everything from “hypnotic, riff-driven mayhem” to “sludgy groove with hardcore intensity.” Still, that doesn’t do their unmistakably original sound justice. Parallels can be drawn to Torche’s rapturous hooks, High On Fire’s hellbound riffing, and Young Widows’ stomping rhythms, but Sweet Cobra has always rocked with its own unique voice – earnest, driving, anthemic songs that are equally pummeling and trance-inducing.

A pillar of the underground for almost a decade now, SWEET COBRA was founded in Chicago in 2002 by bassist/vocalist Botchy Vasquez (The Killing Tree, Milemarker) and drummer Jason Gagovski (Suicide Note). Through the mid-00’s, the band released acclaimed music through Seventh Rule Recordings (Akimbo, Indian) and Gagovski’s own Hawthorne Street Records, and toured with the likes of Pelican, Russian Circles, Black Cobra, Doomriders, The Life And Times, and Young Widows.

In 2009 SWEET COBRA entered Volume Studio in Chicago with producer Sanford Parker (Pelican, Nachtmystium) to record its third full-length: Mercy for Black Market Activities. Mercy is a masterpiece of urgent, honest aggression, channeled into unforgettable songs. It is the definition of SWEET COBRA – ripping yet atmospheric, rocking yet angry as hell. Mixed by Kurt Ballou (Converge, Trap Them) at Godcity Studio and mastered by Carl Saff (Coliseum, White Drugs), Mercy features guest appearances by Robert Lowe (Lichens) and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), among others. Album art comes courtesy of William Test.

Sweet Cobra Live!

European Tour Dates w/ Auxes
Thurs 06/12/14 Kiel, Germany at Hansa 48
Fri 06/13/14 Hamburg, Germany at Størte
Sat 06/14/14 Berlin, Germany at Schokoladen
Sun 06/15/14 Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic at Central
Mon 06/16/14 Prague, Czech Republic at 007
Tues 06/17/14 Leipzig, Germany at Zoro
Wed 06/18/14 Brno, Czech Republic at Boro
Thurs 06/19/14 Vienna, Austria at Rhiz
Fri 06/20/14 Bojkovice, Czech Republic at MisMas Fest
Sat 06/21/14 Plzen, Czech Republic at Pod Lampou

For more information, visit:

Sweet Cobra, “Silvered” from Mercy (2012)

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Crowbar Unveil New Video for “Walk with Knowledge Wisely”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

To be perfectly honest, the video below for “Walk with Knowledge Wisely” from Crowbar‘s latest outing, Symmetry in Black, is the first I’m hearing of the record. A “promo stream” for the album, which came out on Tuesday, has been sitting in my inbox for a few weeks, but I haven’t clicked on it, because what the hell? I click on it, feel the need to review it, take the time, dig the album, and then add it to the growing list of CDs I want to buy but can’t afford. Super. Better to save myself the trouble of being bummed out and not listen in the first place.

“Walk with Knowledge Wisely” has some continuity with “The Cemetery Angels” (video here), which served as a single from 2011’s Sever the Wicked Hand (review here), in that it rounds out with a massive-sounding slowdown. They don’t milk quite as much this time around — not that I’ll complain either way — but the point definitely gets made, and the point seems to be that well over 20 years on, Crowbar still serve as a litmus test for sonic weight.

Looks like they’ll get on that list after all. It goes like this:

Crowbar, “Walk with Knowledge Wisely” official video



Well known NOLA earthquake purveyors CROWBAR have debuted a brand new music video for their single “Walk With Knowledge Wisely.” Directed by Mike Holderbeast (DOWN, EYEHATEGOD), this is the first of two videos we’ll see from the band’s all new LP SYMMETRY IN BLACK that debuted last week. “For this video we decided to let the music do the talking. Working with Mike was a breeze and a pleasure. He has filmed many of our live shows and he is a true professional.” says frontman Kirk Windstein.

Symmetry in Black tracklisting:
1. Walk With Knowledge Wisely
2. Symmetry In White
3. The Taste Of Dying
4. Reflection Of Deceit
5. Ageless Decay
6. Amaranthine
7. The Foreboding
8. Shaman Of Belief
9. Teach The Blind To See
10. A Wealth Of Empathy
11. Symbolic Suicide
12. The Piety Of Self-Loathing

Crowbar on Thee Facebooks

eOne Music

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Iron Man (x2), Electric Citizen, Disenchanter, Junior Bruce and Anuseye

Posted in Radio on May 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click here to listen.

This week brings even more radio adds than I expected. I had kind of a hard time whittling it down to figure what I wanted to write about, to be honest with you, but we got there in the end, and I’m thrilled to have another batch of additions to the playlist for this week. Doing this seems to have quickly become a Friday ritual for me, and frankly, I can think of worse ways to spend the afternoon than listening to and writing about a bunch of records. Like just about everything else, for example.

Adds for May 30, 2014:

Iron Man, The Passage & Generation Void

Two brand new vinyl reissues from Shadow Kingdom Records. Digital promos are particularly useless in the case of badass LPs, and I’m pretty sure both of these albums by Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man, 1994’s sophomore outing, The Passage, and it’s 1999 follow-up, Generation Void, are already on the Radio playlist, but screw it, it’s Iron Man. If the chances of hearing an Iron Man song go up with each file added, then it’s worth tossing both of these records on the server. Generation Void is a full-on lost classic of doom, and if you don’t already own it, I’d imagine the vinyl of The Passage justifies picking it up based on the artwork alone. Either way, you’re never gonna lose when it comes to these guys, and Shadow Kingdom‘s loyalty in following up its CD reissues with LP versions is commendable. On Thee Facebooks, Shadow Kingdom website.

Electric Citizen, Sateen

Led by guitarist Ross Dolan and vocalist Laura Dolan, this Cincinnati four-piece traffic in high-order retro-minded Sabbathisms that keep in mind just how much boogie went along with all that darkness. To wit, the shuffle at the heart of the organ-laced “The Trap” and “Burning in Hell” or the push in the earlier “Magnetic Man.” Sateen, the band’s debut on RidingEasy Records, features riffs and leads heavily, and Laura‘s croon never strays from the forefront in delivering a barrage of hooks through the ’70s-worship production, but as with Sabbath themselves, the foundation of what Electric Citizen accomplish in these memorable, immediately familiar tracks is built on a foundation of rhythmic excellence in the bass and drums, here provided by Nick Vogelpohl and Nate Wagner, respectively. That organ ain’t half-bad either. The album arrives with no shortage of hype, but it’s a shockingly cohesive debut in style and performance, and the songwriting more than earns its way. On Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

Disenchanter, On through Portals

The Sept. 2013 Back to Earth demo from Portland, Oregon, doom-blues metallers Disenchanter has been sitting on my desk for an embarrassingly long time. That release is added to the playlist as well, but on the early-2014 follow-up, On through Portals, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Sabine Stangenberg, bassist Joey DeMartini and drummer Jay Erbe stretch out the form somewhat. Both arrive as EP-style releases, but On through Portals tops half-an-hour and executes a darkened psychedelic flow over its three extended tracks — “Journey to Abydos/Moon Maid” (12:15), “Invoke” (7:38), and “Into Darkness” (11:20) — so it could just as easily pass for a short album. Either way, the partial shift in aesthetic suits Disenchanter well, and what seems to have been in-process on their first demo comes closer to fruition here. Songs are patient and lumbering, but never boring, and Stangenberg‘s vocals layer effectively at the front of the mix to give the impression of a consummate frontwoman in the making. I won’t declare their development finished, but On through Portals is a big and interesting step for Disenchanter to take. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Junior Bruce, The Nomad

Just two tracks on this latest release from Southern heavy rockers Junior Bruce. The Nomad is the second of two (to date) digital releases following Junior Bruce‘s 2012 debut full-length, The Headless King, and intended as a complement to last year’s The Burden. Fair enough. Taken as such or on their own, The Nomad‘s two cuts, “The Promised Sleep” and “Nomad,” offer unpretentious heavy rolling groove from the Floridian five-piece fronted by Scott Angelacos and featuring bassist Tom Crowther, both also of Hollow Leg and formerly Bloodlet and Hope and Suicide. Molasses riffs from guitarists Nate Jones and Bryan Raymond and steady crash from drummer Jeff McAlear further distinguish “Nomad” in the Southern tradition, and the single/EP is twice as intriguing in the context of Hollow Leg‘s most recent recording, “God Eater” (discussed here), which moved in a more rocking direction as well. It seems to work for both bands. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Anuseye, Essay on a Drunken Cloud

Cuts like “J R” and “Wrong Blues” take ’90s crunch and heavy rock vibes to heart, but where Italy’s Anuseye really distinguish themselves on their Vincebus Eruptum Recordings debut — other than with their somewhat unfortunate moniker — is in the weirdo jamminess of “Push Magic Button” or the psychedelic exploration of “Earthquake.” Essay on a Drunken Cloud boasts a few riffs and effects-laced stretches like that in “Cursed Pills” that might call to mind guitarist Luca Stero and vocalist/guitarist Claudio C.‘s and prior work together in That’s all Folks, but Anuseye has a personality of their own here, with bassist Michele V. and drummer Antonello C. keeping step with the strange vibes every step of the way. The balance shifts effectively between psych rock and noisy post-punk, but songs like “Demon Pulse” and the penultimate “S.S. Abyss” find an engaging and unexpected middle ground on which to make an impression. And then they do. For those days when you feel like you’re heard everything a riff can do, Essay on a Drunken Cloud might just convince you there’s still territory to be discovered. On Thee Facebooks, at Vincebus Eruptum.

For the complete list of this week’s adds, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Tombstones on Tour Now Supporting Witch Mountain

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 29th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

True, it wasn’t all that long ago I posted these same tour dates with news about Witch Mountain and their forthcoming record, but the basic fact of the matter is I dig Tombstones and thought it was worth pointing out that they’re on the bill for most of Witch Mountain‘s run as well in the supporting role. Tombstones‘ 2013 outing, Red Skies and Dead Eyes (review here), is available to check out below via their Bandcamp page if you haven’t heard it yet, though I’m sure you have, because you’re up on your stuff like that.

Likewise, you probably know that this tour started on Tuesday in Oslo with a night off yesterday and is picking up tonight — hell the show’s probably over by now, with the time difference — in Tyrolen, but again, I pretty much took the list of dates an excuse to post the album stream, so even if you can’t make it out to Copenhagen tomorrow, the record’s worth a listen. And don’t worry, we all wish we could make it out to Copenhagen tomorrow.


We are stoked to announce we’ll be supporting the mighty Witch Mountain across Europe for three weeks!!

Tombs shall rise!

29.05 SE – Tyrolen, Muskelrock
30.05 DK – Copenhagen, Musikcafeen
31.05 DK – Aalborg, 1000Fryd
01.06 GER – Hamburg, Hafenklang
03.06 GER – Berlin, Cassiopeia
05.06 A – Vienna, Arena
06.06 A – Graz, Bang Bang Club
07.06 I – Bologna, Freak Out Club
08.06 I – Milano, Lo Fi Club
10.06 F – Paris, La Fleche D’Or
12.06 UK – Barrow, New Cons
14.06 UK – London, Underworld
15.06 UK – Bournemouth, Anvil
16.06 BE – Antwerp, Kavka
17.06 NL – Tilburg, Little Devil

Tombstones, Red Skies and Dead Eyes (2013)

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Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket 2012 Roadburn Jam to See Vinyl Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 29th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Over the last couple years, Roadburn has given birth to some legendary jams. Their late-night set in 2012 might not have been the first time J. Mascis (Witch, Dinosaur Jr.) kicked it off with the guys from Earthless, but in the couple years since it’s become a landmark for the fest and a model of one-off collaborations they’ve continued to refine. That set, under the title In a Dutch Haze, will be released on vinyl shortly, and it’s available to preorder from Outer Battery Records and Roadburn/Burning World Records now.

The lineup was Graham Clise and Mascis, both of Heavy Blanket, and Mario Rubalcalba and Mike Eginton of Earthless. Thus, Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket.

The PR wire has it like this:

EARTHLESS Meets HEAVY BLANKET “In A Dutch Haze” to be Released July 8

Titanic Team-Up Featuring Psych Rock’s Heaviest Hitters Takes Physical Form!

Monstrous Mash-Up From Members of Dinosaur Jr., Lecherous Gaze, OFF!, Rocket From the Crypt, Sweet Apple, Witch and More Delivers Whiz-Bang Wallop the Likes of Which the World Has Never Heard Before!!!

This July, a colossal collaborative concert, previously privy only to those who were fortunate enough to have helped fill a Netherlandic concert hall multiple moons ago, will be unleashed in awesome audio form as EARTHLESS Meets HEAVY BLANKET In A Dutch Haze. The out-of-this-world recording will see a July 8 release date via Outer Battery Records / Roadburn Records.

Back-story: an impromptu heavy psych JAM between J Mascis (DINOSAUR JR, SWEET APPLE, WITCH and one of both Rolling Stone and SPIN’s “Greatest Guitarists of All Time”) and California space rock masters EARTHLESS at the 2009 SXSW Festival left an onlooking crowd stunned and breathless. When word of the performance spread, the world-renowned musicians were asked to play the main stage of Holland’s annual international rock festival, Roadburn, to attempt to recreate the magic that revved-up an Austin audience at what was thought to be a one-time event.

Fast forward to the 2012 installment of the fantastic fest; when EARTHLESS’ guitarist Isaiah Mitchell had to back out at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstance, six-string shredder Graham Clise from J Mascis’ loud, psychedelic project HEAVY BLANKET (and who also plays with Mascis in WITCH and in the bitchin’ Bay Area band LECHEROUS GAZE) stepped in on second guitar. Backed by the best rhythm section in today’s adventurous rock world — Mario Rubalcaba and Mike Eginton from EARTHLESS — the quartet stormed the stage for what would become an incredible one-time happening, leading to almost a full hour of some of the most mind-bending heavy psych imaginable. The epic jam session gave birth to shredding psychedelia and hard rock blues underpinned by the muscular rhythmic sensibilities of kraut-rock and the unbridled energy of 70’s guitar rock. The formidable foundation laid by drummer Rubalcaba became a jumping off point for Mascis, Clise and Eighton to explore their inner cosmoi for consciousness-expanding riffs and music-induced psychedelic experiences.

Track listing:
1.) Paradise in a Purple Sky (58:34)

Now, the rest of the planet can ready their receivers and hoist headphones on high as the full live set from that magical evening in Tilburg is set to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world! Far-out, gatefold-spanning artwork by San Francisco tattoo artist and designer Tim Lehi (High on Fire, Black Anvil, Xasthur) perfectly animates this incredible audio adventure, while matchless mastering by Carl Saff (Boris, Guided By Voices), pushes this priceless performance over-the-top. Flame retardant clothing is highly recommended!

EARTHLESS Meets HEAVY BLANKET In A Dutch Haze is available for pre-order purchase now at this location. The initial LP pressing takes the form of a special, 2xLP on purple sky vinyl, limited to 300 copies. Collectors, don’t delay!

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Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt: Burning Fast

Posted in Reviews on May 29th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Since the release of their self-titled debut in 2007, Radio Moscow have specialized in tight-knit heavy psychedelic blues rock, topped off with the barnburner fretwork of guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs. In drummer Paul Marrone (also Astra and Psicomagia) and bassist Anthony Meier (also Sacri Monti), Griggs has a rhythm section not only able to stand up to his own playing, but to meet it head on, and their fifth album for Alive Records, Magical Dirt, is all the stronger for it. Radio Moscow‘s last proper studio outing was 2011’s The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz, and it’s always tricky to figure which of the instruments Griggs is handling himself on a given release — he seemed to play everything on 2012’s previously-lost-tracks LP 3 &3 Quarters, originally recorded in 2003 — but the dynamic that Radio Moscow brings to their stage performance is present throughout Magical Dirt‘s 10 tracks and 42 minutes, and they not only live up to the form and intent of their past work in capturing a rush of heavy ’70s swagger and swing, but they push deeper into the command of the elements at work in their sound. Take the second-to-last track, “Before it Burns.” Right around two minutes in, the song shifts gears almost immediately from winding riffs and fleet shuffle into an airy psych jam that stands out maybe most of all for how much on an initial listen you might not even notice it until you’re already halfway through. The reason that’s the case is because Radio Moscow are completely in control of the material by that point in the album, and able to take and put the listener precisely where they want them to be. Eastern scales and percussion that come seemingly out of nowhere would be out of place on so many other records, but on Magical Dirt, pretty much whatever Radio Moscow decide to fit, they fit.

Chiefly, what they fit into these songs is a whole lot of volatility. At any moment, songs like opener “So Alone,” or “These Days,” “Got the Time” or “Rancho Tehama Airport” sound like they could completely come apart, like when you shake the bolts loose on a piece of machinery and the whole thing collapses into a pile of parts, but even at their fastest, Radio Moscow retain control, and while the whole of Magical Dirt retains an organic, live-feeling production, it’s also got clarity enough to showcase just how precise the band is in pulling it all off. Hooks are in steady supply, whether it’s the chorus of the mostly acoustic “Sweet L’il Thing” or the maddeningly catchy instrumental bounce of “Death of a Queen,” which ends playfully following channel-panning leads from Griggs without letting go of the reins. That’s to say nothing of the songwriting at play in side B’s “Gypsy Fast Woman,” which boasts a funkier groove and more blazing solos on top of subtle bass fills and enviable snare work en route to one of Magical Dirt‘s most infectious refrains. “Bridges” is the longest cut at 5:19 and starts the album’s second half with a pullback on tempo compared to the rush of “These Days” before it — a winding section of guitar, bass and drums also seems to recall “Death of a Queen” — but the wealth of wah provides continuity between sides A and B of Magical Dirt and by the time “Bridges” breaks to an acoustic-led blues jam topped with an electric lead in its own second half, you’re either on board for the ride or you’re not going to be. Fortunately, the earlier one-two blues of “So Alone” and boogie in “Rancho Tehama Airport,” which was also released as a pre-album single, also give a clear indication of some of Radio Moscow‘s lysergic tendencies, and by then, the flow is well established. They continue into the layered groove of “Gypsy Fast Woman” without so much as a hiccup for the sidestep in approach.

Read more »

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