Friday Full-Length: Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel EP (1999)

To my ears, Spirit Caravan is the blues, plain and simple. Like the best of the classic blues, it could be, but didn’t always have to be dark or depressing or aggressive in order to be heavy or to convey a sense of weight. It’s been a couple years at this point, so if you don’t remember, you’re certainly forgiven, but I used to run a regular weekly feature around here called Wino Wednesday. I quite literally did 200 of them. And yes, Spirit Caravan‘s 1999 Dreamwheel EP (on MeteorCity) was discussed as part of that series, but as we move toward Springtime, it’s hard for me not to go back to this band and this short release in particular, precisely because it’s that combination of hopeful and heavy that’s so rare, not only in the canon of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, but in the wider sphere of heavy as a whole. And where there is happy heavy, it’s almost never done so well or to such a degree of each as it felt natural for Spirit Caravan to represent. They hit the balance just right.

And yeah, I could have closed out the week (and probably will at some point close out a week) with Spirit Caravan‘s landmark 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun (discussed here), or that record’s 2001 follow-up, Elusive Truth, or even their 2003 swansong compilation The Last Embrace, but Dreamwheel has a special feel about it. I won’t take anything away from Jug Fulla Sun, and if we’re picking favorite Spirit Caravan records, that’s my pick, but for the fact that Dreamwheel clocks in at under 20 minutes long, has five easy-rolling tracks, and asks nothing more of its audience than a bit of nod, I just feel like it’s the sonic equivalent of an unexpected compliment. Right? Like someone coming up to you and saying something nice out of the blue. “Oh, here’s Dreamwheel,” and instantly your day is better. I don’t know a lot of releases, full-length, EP, or otherwise, that can pull that off in the kind of lasting way that Dreamwheel does, beginning with the six-minute opening title-track’s examination of spirituality, bouncing groove, aliens or who knows what else is going on in there. I won’t profess to, but it rounds out with the line, “You’ve got to dream and keep on rollin’,” and as rock and roll sentiments go, that’s a tough one to beat. As happens with a lot of short releases (and albums, for that matter), Dreamwheel becomes in large part defined by its titular cut. Not only is “Dreamwheel” the longest inclusion (plus opener equals immediate points), but the tone it sets plays into the following “Burnin’ In,” the cymbal-abrasion-into-guitar-led-scorch of “Re-Alignment / Higher Power,” and into the closing pair of “Sun Stoned” and “C, Yourself” as well.

Through it all, Wino, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Sherman (who’d shortly move on to his first release with Earthride) and drummer Gary Isom showed with no small thanks to the Chris Kozlowski recording job their utter mastery of that righteous, potent brew that was their own and that has never been anyone else’s, even among other “Wino bands,” whether that’s The ObsessedThe Hidden HandWino (actually, the shortlived Wino band came closest), Premonition 13 or whoever. All at the same time, it’s a sound that’s classic in its construction and influence, modern in its presentation, natural in tone, laid back, heavy, consuming but accessible, at once of Maryland doom tradition and working in defiance of it. That scene — and please don’t take this as a slight against Maryland doom, which if you read this site, ever, you know I hold dear — has never produced another band like Spirit Caravan, and Spirit Caravan only made one Dreamwheel EP.

It’s a moment in time that never came again. As they moved on to Elusive Truth in 2001, their sound took on a doomier feel, and in 2002, Spirit Caravan would call it a day as Sherman went on to focus on EarthrideWino joined Place of Skulls for a time and launched The Hidden Hand, whose debut, Divine Propaganda, arrived in 2003, and Isom floated between a host of acts, among them NitroseedValkyrieUnorthodox and Pentagram. Of course the band got back together, first with the original lineup, and then not, in 2014 and played live shows and started to work on new material, but would disintegrate again as that reunion transitioned into one for The Obsessed, whose new LP, Sacred, is out next week on Relapse Records with a recording lineup of WinoSherman and drummer Brian Costantino, who had replaced Isom in Spirit Caravan‘s final to-date incarnation.

Got all that? Bottom line is Dreamwheel, while short, is a record of which it’s worth basking in every minute. There is no moment on it that does not satisfy or does not enrich the listener, and I hope that as you make your way through it, you have the experience I referred to above, and you come out of it feeling better than you did going in. Think of it as my way of saying something nice.

Even if you don’t get there, as always, I hope you enjoy.

I took today off work. One doesn’t want to oversell it by calling it the best decision I’ve ever made, but it certainly is glorious. Don’t get me wrong, most days, I don’t hate my job. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. But as I roll steadily into middle age — I’m 36 in October — I realize more and more that office life, working for someone else, corporate or small company, isn’t what I want to be doing with my days.

As a kid, I watched my father sweat and travel and stress for a series of jobs he hated because he felt like it was what he needed to do to support his family. He wanted to die. Literally. For years. Part of that is chemical, as I know from my own experience, but as I sit in my kitchen on this morning off and watch the sun come up across my backyard, I know that while on some levels he was right — my family wouldn’t have gotten by in the same way on my mom’s public school teacher’s salary — there’s another kind of value at play as well, and that’s the value of making your existence bearable. Because when you’re miserable like that, it bleeds into everyone around you. I know this.

So yeah, I don’t want to work anymore. Not in an office. Not full-time. It might take me years to make something else happen, but that change is something I need to do to make my life what I want it to be, because I’ll tell you, right now I have the greatest job I’ve ever had and probably the greatest job I’ll ever have and there are still plenty of days in the week where I wake up dreading going to it. The commute, the air, the loud people, the commute back. All of it. It’s just not where I want to be. I don’t even feel like a person some days. I counted minutes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday to get to this morning.

And I know we need money even though we’re broke no matter how much we bring in, but I also feel like I owe it to The Patient Mrs. not to be so god damn wretched all the time. That’s where my head is at.

Appreciating the day, then, and trying to make it as weekend-y as possible. I’ve got my huge YOB shirt on (I call it “my weekend YOB shirt,” and rest assured, I’ll be wearing it until Monday) and my lined pajamas and my warm socks (those I’ll change), and I’m listening to the new Siena Root for the first time and sipping my coffee. The dog’s in her bed in the corner and life is good and restorative, and moments like this are what it’s about. In a while The Patient Mrs. will come downstairs and have breakfast and I’ll make another pot and put some protein powder in one of the cups, and we’ll talk about the day to come. It’s going to be a good one. I can feel it already.

We’re heading into April; deeper into 2017. I hope you’re doing well.

Thanks if you got to check out any of the Quarterly Review this week. That means a lot to me, and I appreciate it when people can put eyes to things like that. I know 50 reviews is a lot to keep up with — believe me — but if you found something you dig, that’s awesome.

Next week is slammed as well as of now. Here’s what’s on tap, subject to change as always:

Mon.: Closet Disco Queen review/EP stream and Elder Druid video.
Tue.: Lord Loud review/premiere, Greenbeard video premiere.
Wed.: Ides of Gemini Six Dumb Questions, The Obsessed review, maybe Cultura Tres video.
Thu.: Arc of Ascent review/track premiere, Beastwars video (NZ day!)
Fri.: Electric Moon review, other stuff.

Truth be told, I’ve got reviews and premieres planned through the better part of April already. I know what I’ll be doing every day between now and Roadburn, and there’s some stuff locked in already for May and more to come, so yeah. Plenty going on. Things are getting full earlier, which is validating in a way, but as I finish one Quarterly Review I’ve already started to think about the next, and there are times where it’s overwhelming. Mostly Tuesdays, oddly. Tuesday’s always my roughest day.

A note about The Obelisk Radio: We’ve been running on the backup server for the last several weeks since the hard drive crashed. I bought a new drive — it’s 4TB, so eventually there will be even more space to work with — and Slevin is in the process of switching everything over, but it’s taking a really long time because the old busted drive apparently has a shit-ton of bad data. Turns out maybe running it 24 hours a day/seven days a week took a toll in some way? Crazy, I know. In any case, it’s still going to be a while. I have another round of radio adds slated for April 10 and I’m not sure if we’ll be back on the full playlist by then, but it’s a work in progress and if you listen regularly, I appreciate your patience with it.

Alright. Can’t imagine I haven’t gone on long enough. If you’re still reading this, thanks.

I hope you have or have had a wonderful day, depending I suppose on your time zone, and that you enjoy a great and safe weekend. See you back here on Monday for more, and in the meantime please check out the forum, the (backup) radio stream, and the new The Obelisk page on Thee Facebooks.

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Woodhawk Premiere “Quest for Clarity”; Canadian Tour Dates Announced

Posted in audiObelisk on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

WOODHAWK photo-mario-a-montes

Calgary three-piece Woodhawk have set an April 7 release for their new album, Beyond the Sun. It’s their first full-length following a 2014 self-titled EP, and it’s hard to imagine that, given the cohesive songwriting, resonant fullness of tone and crisp harmonies that make up its foundation, I won’t be posting a news item in the near-ish future about this or that label picking it up for a vinyl and/or CD issue. They’re taking care of a first run on their own, of course, and have preorders available through Bandcamp, but it seems to me that once people get a grasp on the hooks of songs like “The High Priest,” “Living in the Sand,” the Star Wars paean “A New Hope” and “Quest for Clarity” that the interest won’t be there. Hell, they recently shared the stage with Truckfighters, and listening to album centerpiece “Lawless,” it seems to me they’d make excellent Fuzzorama Records labelmates for Valley of the Sun. Not trying to tell anyone — band or imprint — how to live their lives, I’m just trying to note in my cumbersome way that while Beyond the Sun is the debut long-player from the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Turner Midzain, bassist/vocalist Mike Madmington and drummer Kevin Nelson, it has a professionalism at its core that’s hard to miss as you make your way through its platter-ready 38 minutes.

You can hear it in the call and response of “Living in the Sand” to be sure, but it’s there from the start ofwoodhawk beyond the sun “Beyond the Sun” itself, which opens the record that shares its name. One is reminded at first of post-Queens of the Stone Age London rockers Crystal Head, but that kind of moodiness is only one aspect of Woodhawk‘s delivery, and the band ultimately feels much more at home dug into the active drive that emerges later in that track and continues with “The High Priest.” Later, “Magnetic North” brings an organ-laced (keys added by Jesse Gander) semi-lumber to the proceedings before “Lawless” answers in chugging verse fashion, and the bass opening of “Quest for Clarity” plays up the harmonies en route to the closing third of the nine-track outing. That final segment starts with the aforementioned “A New Hope” — kind of had me wondering if they were talking about Star Wars or StarWars-as-existential-metaphor, but yeah, it seems to just be a song about Star Wars; okay then — and continues into the drifting interlude “Foresee the Future” and the not-at-all-an-ElectricWizard-cover “Chrononaut,” which seems to expand the arrangements in all directions, instrumentally and vocally, as if to underscore the quickness and efficiency with which the journey from the title-track has been made, looking back on the formidable amount of ground covered with due purpose and clearheadedness. If they’ve been on any kind of “Quest for Clarity” at all, they’ve found it.

Woodhawk will celebrate the arrival of Beyond the Sun with two release shows next weekend and then head out on a 10-date Canadian tour in May. The dates came down in an announcement from the PR wire, and you’ll find them under the premiere of “Quest for Clarity” below, which I’m happy to host, along with some welcome perspective from Midzain on the song’s making and how it relates to the rest of the tracks around it.

Please enjoy:

Woodhawk, “Quest for Clarity” from Beyond the Sun (2017)

Turner Midzain on “Quest for Clarity”:

“‘Quest for Clarity’ was one of the last songs we wrote for the record. It’s about taking a step back and really looking around at what’s going on. Sometimes you need to step back in order to move forward. We felt this song really tied the two sides of the album together. It’s a bit of a different side of us with more harmonies and contrast than some of our previous straight-ahead riffers.”

Slathered in rock and roll riffs and dealing with a case of wanderlust, Calgary’s rock revival heroes WOODHAWK set out to unleash their debut full-length ‘Beyond The Sun’ paired with dates across Western Canada.

Their album ‘Beyond The Sun’ is produced by the band with Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids) and is slated for release April 7, 2017. Pre-order of Vinyl, CD or Digital with an instant download of the first single ‘The High Priest’ available via their bandcamp at

After opening for Truckfighters, Yawning Man and We Hunt Buffalo in Calgary, WOODHAWK will be hitting the road for tour of Western Canada to quell their hunger for playing shows.

Show Dates:
April 7 – Edmonton, AB – Sewing Machine Factory (CD Release Show)
April 8 – Calgary, AB – The Palomino (CD Release show)

Vagabonds of The Western Gig Tour:
May 4 – Vancouver, BC – The Cobalt
May 5 – Nanaimo, BC – The Queens
May 6 – Victoria, BC – Logan’s Pub
May 7 – Kelowna, BC – Doc Willoughby’s
May 8 – Edmonton, AB – Rendezvous Pub
May 9 – Saskatoon, SK – Vangelis Tavern
May 10 – Winnipeg, MB – The Handsome Daughter
May 11 – Regina, SK – The German Club
May 12 – Calgary, AB – Palomino
May 13 – Fernie, BC – Northern Bar

Woodhawk is:
Turner Midzain – Vocals/Guitar
Mike Badmington – Bass/Vocals
Kevin Nelson – Drums

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Blackout Set May 26 Release for The Horse; Stream New Track “Graves”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’ll admit I was under the impression that Brooklyn three-piece Blackout were done. Seems like it wasn’t just me, either. The NYC trio lost drummer Taryn Waldman following the 2015 release of their self-titled long-player (review here), which was their debut on RidingEasy and their second overall behind the 2013 We are Here 12″ (review here), and I guess when I stopped seeing the band’s name on show fliers, I figured that was it. Hardly. Guitarist/vocalist Christian Gordy and bassist Justin Sherrell apparently hooked up with Ghost Punch‘s Adam Taylor, and in May they’ll release the third Blackout album, The Horse, once again on RidingEasy Records.

Mark that a win, and to make the announcement a real occasion, the band has opening track “Graves” streaming now, purportedly based around more aggressive, distinctly New York influences. How that’ll play out across the whole album — aggressively? — remains to be heard, but a little bash over the head in Springtime never hurt anybody. Unless we’re speaking literally. Either way, May 26 is the release date. No doubt you’ll be able to put your order in long before then, so keep an eye out.

The PR wire has cover art, details and the song:


NYC trio Blackout premiere first track from new album The Horse

Add hints of NY crossover legends like Helmet, Cro-Mags, Judge, Prong to their signature gritty doom

Ask any New Yorker what makes them special and they’ll all tell you something different. But there’s something very particular about a city so condensed with a vast range of humanity all facing myriad daily challenges that gives its rock music a brash, direct aggression unlike other places. Case in point, NYC trio Blackout’s take on doom and stoner rock is filled with a gritty, mechanistic heft unlike bands of their ilk from anywhere else.

Subsumed within the greasy grooves of The Horse there are echoes of NYC heavy legends like Helmet, Cro-Mags, Judge, Prong and others — not as intentional homage, but rather a vibe that permeates and inadvertently gives its bands a unique power that few can match.

After a brief hiatus between the March 2015 release of their self-titled sophomore album on RidingEasy Records, Blackout has regrouped and (ahem) gotten back on The Horse for an 8-song blast of riffs that does not fuck around.

On one fateful day in July 2016, with a handful of mushrooms and a bottle of tequila, vocalist/guitarist Christian Gordy set out to write an entire new Blackout record. Following the departure of original drummer Taryn Waldman earlier that year, the band’s fate was uncertain. But, Gordy’s writing forray resulted in a wellspring of inspiration and by happenstance he contacted drummer Adam Taylor who had just parted with his band Ghost Punch. Within two months of banging out riffs with bassist Justin Sherrell, Blackout was back in action.

The Horse was recorded over 4 days in September 2016 at Spaceman Sound in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, which the band describes as “a whirlwind session laced with loads of buds, Petey’s burgers and lipstick.”

Or, described by Blackout themselves: “What you have before you now is a messy plate of meat, slathered in weird sauces. A haunted steak from from Centaurus A to sink your dirty fangs into. Sit back, crack a semi cold one, maybe get some snacks… and turn this motherfucker up to 8.”

The Horse will be available on LP, CD and download May 26th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records.

Artist: Blackout
Album: The Horse
Label: RidingEasy Records
Release Date: May 26, 2017

01. Graves
02. Let ‘Em Ride
03. Roach Bites
04. Rat Spirit
05. Amnesia
06. Mean Pads
07. Holy Wood
08. The Horse

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Quarterly Review: Grails, Expo Seventy, Coltsblood, Rhino, Cruthu, Spacetrucker, Black Habit, Stone Angels, The Black Willows, Lamagaia

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Arrival. Welcome to the final day of The Obelisk’s Spring 2017 Quarterly Review. After today, I clean off my desktop and start over with a mind toward the next round, which in my head I’ve already scheduled for late June. You know, at the end of the next quarter. I do try to make these things make sense on some level. Anyway, before we get to the last 10 albums, let me please reiterate my thanks to you for reading and say once again that I hope you’ve found something this week that really speaks to you, as I know I have and continue to today. We finish the Quarterly Review out strong to be sure, so even if you’re thinking you’re done and you’ve had enough, you might be surprised by the time you’re through the below.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Grails, Chalice Hymnal

grails chalice hymnal

Even if one counts the 2013 collection culled from GrailsBlack Tar Prophecies ongoing series of short releases that showed up via Temporary Residence, it’s been a long while since their last proper outing. Deep Politics (review here) was issued in 2011, but it seems the intervening time and members’ participation in other projects – among them Om and Holy Sons in the case of Emil Amos – disappear for Grails on Chalice Hymnal, which speaks directly to its predecessor in sequel pieces like “Deeper Politics,” “Deep Snow II” and “Thorns II,” taking the prog-via-TangerineDream cinematics of Deep Politics to vibrant and continually experimental places on the surprisingly vocalized “Empty Chamber,” the soundscaping “Rebecca” and the imaginative, evocative jazz homage “After the Funeral,” the album’s 10-minute closer. Hearing the John Carpenter keyboard line underpinning “Pelham,” I’m not sure I’d call Chalice Hymnal limitless in its aesthetic – Grails have definitive intentions here, as they always have – but they continue to reside in a space of their own making, and one that has yet to stop expanding its reach.

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Grails at Temporary Residence Ltd.


Expo Seventy, America Here and Now Sessions

expo seventy america here and now sessions

Yes. Yes. This. With extended two tracks – “First Movement” (22:17) and “Second Movement” (27:04) – unfolding one massive longform immersion that drones pastoral, delves into hypnotic bliss and fills the soul in that way that only raw exploration can, the America Here and Now Sessions from Kansas City (by way of the moon) outfit Expo Seventy is an utter joy to experience. Purposeful and patient in its execution, graceful in the instrumental chemistry – even with a second drummer sitting in amid the core trio led by guitarist Justin Wright – the album well fits the deep matte tones and nostalgic feel of its accompanying artwork, and is fluid in its movement from drone to push especially on “Second Movement,” which sandwiches a resonant cacophony around soundscapes that spread as far as the mind of the listener is willing to let them. Whether you want to sit and parse the execution over every its every subtle motion and waveform or put it on and go into full-brain-shutdown, America Here and Now Sessions delivers. Flat out. It delivers.

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Essence Music website


Coltsblood, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness

coltsblood ascending into shimmering darkness

After surviving the acquisition of Candlelight Records by Spinefarm, UK doom extremists Coltsblood return with their second album, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness, and follow-up 2014’s Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here) with 54 minutes of concrete-thick atmospheric bleakness spread across five tracks. The headfuckery isn’t quite as unremitting as it was on the debut – a blend of airy and thick guitar in the intro of the opening title-cut (also the longest inclusion; immediate points) reminds of Pallbearer – but the three-piece thrive in this more-cohesive-overall context, and their lumbering miseries remain dark and triumphant in kind. A closing duo of “Ever Decreasing Circles” and “The Final Winter” also both top 12 and 13 minutes, respectively, but the shorter second track “Mortal Wound” brings blackened tendencies to the fore and centerpiece “The Legend of Abhartach” effectively leads the way from one side to the other. Still, the most complete victory here for bassist/vocalist John McNulty, guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Jay Plested might be “The Final Winter,” which melds its grueling, excruciatingly slow crash to overarching keyboard drama and becomes a work of cinematic depth as well as skull-crushing wretchedness. Such ambient growth fascinates and shows marked progression from their first offering, and even if the primary impression remains one from which no light escapes, don’t be fooled: Coltsblood are growing and are all the more dangerous for that.

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Candlelight Records website


Rhino, The Law of Purity

rhino the law of purity

Once they get past the aptly-titled minute-long “Intro,” Rhino keep their foot heavy on the gas for the vast majority of The Law of Purity, their Argonauta Records debut album. The 10 included tracks veer into and out of pure desert rock loyalism – “Eat My Dust” comes across as particularly post-Kyuss, perhaps melded with some of the burl of C.O.C.’s “Shake Like You” – and the throttle of “Nuclear Space,” “Nine Months,” “A. & B. Brown” and “Cock of Dog” later on come to define the impression of straightforward push that puts the riffs forward even more than earlier inclusions like the post-“Intro” title-track or the more mid-paced “Bursting Out,” which hints at psychedelia without really ever fully diving into it. Capping with the roll of “I See the Monsters,” The Law of Purity reminds at times of earlier Astrosoniq – particularly in the vocals – but finds the Sicilian five-piece crafting solid heavy rock tunes that seem more concerned with having a couple beers and a good time than changing the world or remaking the genre. Nothing wrong with that.

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Argonauta Records website


Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity

cruthu the angle of eternity

As it happens, I wrote the bio and release announcement for Cruthu’s debut album, The Angle of Eternity (posted here), and I count guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick as a personal friend, so if you’re looking for impartiality as regards the self-released six-tracker, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for primo trad doom and classic metal vibes, the Michigan-based four-piece offer touches of progressive flourish amid the shuffle of opener “Bog of Kildare,” a grueling post-“Crystal Ball” nod in “From the Sea” and a bit of ‘70s proto-metallurgy in the closing title-track, which finds vocalist Ryan Evans at his most commanding while McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman appears as well) and drummer Matt Fry hold together the fluid and patient groove of weighted downer metal. The sense of Cruthu as an outfit schooled in the style is palpable through the creep of “Lady in the Lake” and the post-Trouble chug of “Séance,” but they’re beginning to cast their own identity from their influences – even the penultimate interlude “Separated from the Herd” is part of it – and the dividends of that process are immediate in these tracks.

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Spacetrucker, Launch Sequence

spacetrucker launch sequence

From the Kozik-style artwork of their cover to the blown-out vocals on opener “New Pubes” of guitarist Matt Owen, St. Louis three-piece Spacetrucker – how was there not already a band with this name? – make no bones about their intentions on their late-2016, 26-minute Launch Sequence seven-track EP. Owen, bassist Patrick Mulvaney and drummer Del Toro push into a realm of noise-infused stoner grunge loyal to the ‘90s execution of “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” in the stops of the instrumental “Giza” even as they thicken and dirty up their tonality beyond what Kyuss laid forth. The cowbell-inclusive “Science of Us” rests easily on Mulvaney’s tone and nods toward burl without going over the top, and cuts like “Old Flower,” the penultimate roller “Trenchfoot” and the closing post-Nirvana punker blast of “Ain’t Gonna be Me” reimagine a past in which the language of heavy rock was there to explain where grunge was coming from all along. Not looking to reinvent stylistic parameters in their image at this point, Spacetrucker is nonetheless the kind of band one might’ve run into at SXSW a decade and a half ago and been made a fan for life. As it stands, the charm is not at all lost.

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Black Habit, Black Habit

black habit self titled

Clocking in at half an hour, the self-titled debut release from viola-infused Arizona two-piece Black Habit could probably qualify as an EP or an LP. I’m inclined to consider it the latter considering the depths vocalist/guitarist/bassist Trey Edwin and violist/drummer Emily Jean plunge in the five included tracks, starting with the longest of the bunch (immediate points) in the slow-moving “Escape into Infinity” before shifting the tempo upward for “Suffer and Succumb” and digging into deep-toned sludge marked out by consistently harsh vocals. I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Habit became more melodic or at least moved into cleaner shots over time, as the doomly centerpiece “South Beach” and more fuzz-rocking “Travel Across the Ocean” seem to want to head in that direction, but it’s hard to argue with the echoing rasp that accompanies the rumble and hairy tones of finale “Lust in the Dust,” as Black Habit’s Black Habit rounds out with an especially righteous nod. An intriguing, disaffected, and raw but potential-loaded opening salvo from a two-piece discovering where their sound might take them.

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Stone Angels, Patterns in the Ashes

stone angels patterns in the ashes

Massive. Patterns in the Ashes is a malevolent, tectonic three-song EP following up on New Zealand trio Stone Angels’ 2011 debut, Within the Witch, as well as a few shorter live/demo offerings between, and it’s an absolute beast. Launching with the seven-minute instrumental “White Light, White Noise II” – indeed the sequel to a cut from the first album – it conjures a vicious nod and bleeds one song into the next to let “Signed in Blood” further unfold the grim atmospherics underscoring and enriching all that tonal heft. Sludge is the core style, but the Christchurch three-piece’s broader intentions come through with due volume on the grueling “Signed in Blood” and when “For the Glory of None” kicks in after its sample intro, the blasts and growls that it brings push the release to new levels of extremity entirely. As a bonus, the digital edition includes all three tracks put together as one longer, 21-minute piece, so the consuming flow between them can be experienced without any interruption, as it was seemingly meant to be.

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Black Willows, Samsara

the black willows samsara

If Switzerland-based resonance rockers Black Willows had only released the final two tracks, “Jewel in the Lotus” and “Morning Star,” of their late-2016 second full-length, Samsara, one would still have to call it a complete album – and not just because those songs run 15 and 25 minutes long, respectively. Throughout those extended pieces and the four shorter cuts that appear before them, a palpable meditative sensibility emerges, and Black Willows follow-up the promise of 2013’s Haze (review here) by casting an even more immersive, deeper-toned vibe in the post-Om nod of “Sin” (8:08) and the more percussive complement, “Rise” (9:28), keeping a ritualized feel prevailing but not defining. From the lead-in title-track and the spacious psych trip-out of “Mountain” that gives way to the aforementioned extended closing duo, Black Willows find their key purpose in encompassing tonality and languid grooving. Nothing is overdone, nothing loses its patience, and when they get to the linear trajectory of “Morning Star,” the sense is they’re pushing as far out as far out will go. It’s a joy to follow them on that path.

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Lamagaia, Lamagaia

lamagaia lamagaia

Anytime you’re at all ready to quit your job and explore the recesses of your mind via the ingestion of psychedelics, rituals and meditation, Sweden’s Lamagaia would seem to stand prepared to accompany. The Gothenburg four-piece offer two extended tracks of encouragement in that direction on their self-titled 12” (released through Cardinal Fuzz and Sunrise Ocean Bender), and both “Aurora” and “Paronama Vju” carry a heady spirit of kosmiche improvisation and classically progressive willfulness. They go, go, go. Far, far, far. Vocals echo out obscure but definitely there in post-The Heads fashion, but there’s Hawkwindian thrust in the fuzzed bass and drums driving the rhythm behind the howling guitar in “Aurora,” and that only sets up the peaceful stretch that the drones and expansive spaciousness of “Paronama Vju” finds across its 18:55 as all the more of an arrival. Immersive, hypnotic, all that stuff that means gloriously psychedelic, Lamagaia’s Lamagaia offers instrumental chemistry and range for anyone willing to follow along its resonant and ultra-flowing path. Count me in. I never liked working anyway.

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Lacertilia Premiere “Fire up the Engine of God” Video; April Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan


One does not have to wade far into Lacertilia‘s 2016 debut album, We’re Already Inside Your Mind, to find the ethic by which the record as a whole is defined. Indeed, even before the seven-minute hard-driving stretch of “The Wired and the Weird” has begun, the point of that title has been made in the percussive oddity of the preceding intro, “Inside Your Mind Part 1.” From there, the Cardiff five-piece only continue to flesh out a quirky, space-minded take on heavy rock — here and there reminding of Steak, particularly in the vocals, as I’ve noted before — and by the time they get around to “Fire up the Engine of God,” they’ve established a pretty broad sonic range, leaving the possibilities fairly open for where they might go next.

Somehow it makes sense in context that where they go is basically to ground. “Fire up the Engine of God” follows “Journey to Agartha” — by no means lacking for charge — and is about as close to pure thrust as Lacertilia get on their first album. One can hear desert rock roots in the sans-frills three-minute course, but the winding progression could just as easily be traced to Motörhead. Soon enough they’ll delve into the more spacious “Round and Round,” playing between loud/quiet trades and echoes recounting the hypnotic motion of the big wet ball we all call home, but for “Fire up the Engine of God,” it’s all verse/chorus shove and a motion set dead ahead. They’ve by then demonstrated a knack for hooks in cuts like “Tangled Up” and “Never See the Sun,” never mind the aforementioned “The Wired and the Weird,” but “Fire up the Engine of God” might be the purest display of that on We’re Already Inside Your Mind, casting off much of the atmospheric basis for other songs in favor of all-out scorch.

Lacertilia — who head out in the UK with Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters later in April (dates below) — have a new 100-copy LP pressing of We’re Already Inside Your Mind in a gatefold that can be preordered now through their Bandcamp. That info follows the clip itself, which you can see right here.

Hope you enjoy:

Lacertilia, “Fire up the Engine of God” official video

lacertilia-tour-posterMusic video for ‘Fire Up The Engine Of God” taken from Lacertilia’s debut album ‘We’re Already Inside Your Mind’ out now on Red Sun Sounds.

Filmed and edited by Mei Lewis of Mission Photographic

Album now on Black Void Vinyl in a Gatefold sleeve. Limited to 100 copies available to pre-order now at

Catch Lacertilia on tour with Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters in April
19/04 – Arches Venue, Coventry
20/04 – Mulbery Tavern, Sheffield
21/04 – Opium, Edinburgh
22/04 – Rebellion, Manchester
23/04 – Stag & Hounds, Bristol

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Mt. Mountain to Release Dust April 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mt mountain

As it turns out, the 17-minute opening title-track (which you can stream at the bottom of this post) is also the longest cut on Mt. Mountain‘s Dust. Immediate points for that. In true psycheprolifidelic form, the four-song outing is the latest in a bundle the Perth, Australia-based five-piece have issued over the last half-decade — they had the full-length Cosmos Terros out last year, preceded by three shorter offerings going back to 2013, if their Bandcamp discography is anything to go by — but as it’s my first exposure to the band, I’m finding it easy to get stoked for the coming April 24 release date. “Dust,” as well as “Floating Eyes,” “Kokoti” and “Outro,” which follow, cover a formidable swath of ground and prove fluid and immersive in kind, jam-based, but with a sense of underlying purpose as well. It’s just about where my brain is at these days, if you want to know. So yeah, definitely a welcome arrival.

Preorders are up for swirl and black LPs, and in the UK/EU, it’ll be out via respected purveyor Cardinal Fuzz, as the PR wire informs:

mt mountain dust

Mt Mountain – Dust

‘Dust’ Out April 24 Via: Cardinal Fuzz (UK)

Pre-sales for the limited edition black/copper swirl (pictured here) & standard black 12″ LP’s both available here:

**UK/EU pre-orders available here:

Cardinal Fuzz are proud to announce the release of the epic “Dust” via Perth quintet Mt. Mountain. Since forming in 2012 Mt. Mountain are already lauded and revered in Australia where they have built a reputation as one of the most compelling live bands, a distinction that has seen them share stages with myriad Australian and international heavyweights including Sleep, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Thee Oh Sees, Endless Boogie, Tortoise, Bardo Pond and Boris. On “Dust” Mt Mountain have laid down 4 tracks that capture the atmosphere of the red/orange landscapes that consume the Australian Outback.

Opening with the mini slow burn epic “Dust” which builds with an incessant drone and flute to form a ghostly menacing and meditative rhythmic and repetitive throb that builds and builds before the release comes and the bands shatters into a heady and thunderous elliptical crunch. Over the entire LP Mt Mountain capture, a dreamlike mood of shimmering dust filled landscapes where slow strummed guitars and single note organ lines ebb and flow and bring to mind Dylan Carson’s ‘Earth’ as played by mushroom ingesting elf’s. ‘Dust’ is psych rock meditation music and It is utterly entrancing.

Mt. Mountain is:
Stephen Bailey: Organ, Whistle, Guitar, Vocals
Derrick Treatch: Guitar, Mellotron, Vocals
Brendan Shanley: Bass
Glenn Palmer: Guitar
Thomas Cahill: Drums, Djembe, Percussion

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Here Lies Man Premiere “Here Lies Man”; Self-Titled Debut out April 7

Posted in audiObelisk on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

here lies man

Los Angeles heavy-psych-gone-Afrobeat outfit Here Lies Man will issue their self-titled debut next week through RidingEasy Records. Preorders are up now ahead of an April 7 release date. I think even the band would probably have to admit that not everyone who hears the album is going to get it, but even if that’s so, for those who do, the eight-track offering is bound to be taken as a treasure. Amid a seemingly endless slew of traditionalism in underground rock, Here Lies Man — the fuzz-‘n’-funked-up brainchild of Antibalas guitarist/vocalist Marcos J. Garcia — tread a different path. Garcia, whose affinity for Ethiopian psychedelic rock and particularly the work of Fela Kuti in defining Afrobeat comes through in the resonant percussiveness of cuts like “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” the instrumental “Belt of the Sun” and the repetitions throughout “When I Come To,” the closing title-track and so on, spearheads the conceptualist outing, but the vibe across the record’s entire span is one of pure rhythmic celebration. Here Lies Man sound more like a festival than a band, and yeah, not everyone’s gonna get that, but those who do will find it impossible not to be swept up by their multi-tiered pulsations.

Among the album’s many hooks is that of its concept. It’s the first question the PR wire asked in sending notification of the record, and you can see it below: What if Black Sabbath played here lies man self titledAfrobeat? If your answer for the question isn’t, “Well, that would be fucking awesome,” then you can probably count yourself among the “not gonna get it” above, but as a thematic foundation for the sonic territory that Here Lies Man are exploring, it’s a question as appropriate as it is evocative. But neither is it the sum total of what the record winds up offering. Because if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat, it would be riffs and percussion. Fine. Here Lies Man expand beyond this in the proclamations of “I Stand Alone” and the swaggering ultrafunk of “Letting Go.” It’s not just about bringing two seemingly disparate components together in a sonic collider — it’s about the new molecules discovered as a result of that and how those can be manipulated into something genuinely individual. Much to Here Lies Man‘s credit — and the credit of their experience as players and songwriters; because while it’s a new project it’s not necessarily a new band — they bring their debut to that high standard and flesh out something bold from the pieces of its creation, finding a whole from the sum of its parts that’s brightly colored and brimming with a vitality of expression and swirl all its own. Their starting point may be that central question, but where they end up is a different wavelength altogether.

And they’re better for it. Certainly the approach makes them an outlier among the more traditional forms of heavy proffered by RidingEasy acts like Monolord, Electric Citizen or Slow Season, but that’s obviously the point, and the progressive aspects of Here Lies Man‘s approach are writ large over the commitment to aesthetic that the band shows throughout. Seems like more than it would be reasonably fair to ask of a debut album, and yet the songs not only realize this multifaceted sonic persona, they set it up for future development should Garcia and his cohorts choose such pursuit. One hopes they do.

Today I’ve got the pleasure of hosting the premiere of “Here Lies Man” from Here Lies Man‘s Here Lies Man. As you might expect, it sums up a lot of what they’re going for in terms of sound and their overall take, and if you want to know just what the hell I’m talking about in the above ramblings, it’s all right there.

PR wire info follows. As always, I hope you enjoy:

What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat? In short, that’s the underlying vibe to the self-titled debut by Here Lies Man. The L.A. based quintet is founded and conceptualized by Marcos Garcia of Antibalas, bringing his erudite experience of World rhythms and music to the more riff-based foundations of heavy rock. The results are an incredibly catchy and refreshing twist on classic forms, without sounding forced and trite like some sort of mash-up attempt. Here Lies Man merges and expands musical traditions organically, utilizing the talents of drummer Geoff Mann (son of jazz musician Herbie Mann and former Antibalas member) and a host of skilled musicians to make Garcia’s vision a reality.

“These repetitive guitar figures that happen in Afrobeat music are pretty close to heavy rock guitar riffs,” Garcia explains. “It’s based on the clave. It’s the musical algorithm that the rhythms revolve around. That’s what gives it integrity and is part of this musical conversation going on. I knew I wanted it to be psychedelic and heavy, and I wanted to be expanding on a musical tradition than pretending to be creating something new.” The recording and band came together in the somewhat spontaneous fashion for which L.A. is famous. Garcia and Mann laid down the foundations and the band quickly expanded the recording and live shows soon followed.

And that expansion is the brilliant, hazy, psychedelic, hook-laden 8-song masterwork Here Lies Man, available on LP, CD and download on April 7th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records. Pre-orders are available at iTunes and

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Weedeater Couldn’t Stop Touring if They Wanted To. I Don’t Think They Want To.

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

North Carolinian sludge mainstays Weedeater haven’t even finished their current tour and have already announced the next one. This, if you’ve been paying attention, you already know is kind of how it goes with Weedeater. Yes, they’re still out supporting 2015’s Goliathan (review here), and I think they’re going to be for a while yet. I mean, it’s not exactly as if they’re doing shit tours at this point. These are good rooms and good bands they’re playing with. Weedeater and Primitive Man? What are you gonna see in your town that night that’s heavier? Not much.

Oh yeah, and then they meet up with The Obsessed and Karma to Burn and Fatso Jetson for a few nights on the West Coast. Hell’s bells. People will be talking about those shows for years. Years. Imagine being fortunate enough to be in the path of that tour. I mean, really.

The PR wire takes it from here:


WEEDEATER announce western US and Canadian tour

Notorious southern metal outfit WEEDEATER have announced a western US and Canadian tour. The band heads west after their appearance at Berserker Fest 2017 (featuring GWAR, EYEHATEGOD, NEGATIVE APPROACH and more), and will be joined by PRIMITIVE MAN on all dates.

WEEDEATER also be joined by THE OBSESSED, KARMA TO BURN, and FATSO JETSON on select west coast dates. A full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below.

WEEDEATER are touring in support of their new album Goliathan’. The album is streaming here. ‘Goliathan’ is available across various CD and LP formats at the Season of Mist E-Shop.

‘Goliathan’ once again features album art by Arik Roper (HIGH ON FIRE, SLEEP, THE BLACK CROWES) and will be available across multiple CD and Ltd. Ed. LP formats. WEEDEATER previously re-issued their first four albums, ‘Jason…the Dragon’, ‘Sixteen Tons’, ‘…And Justice for Y’all’, and ‘God Luck and Good Speed”. The long out of print albums are available as vinyl for the first time, as well as a CD and digitally at the Season of Mist E-shop and at Bandcamp.

WEEDEATER are currently touring on their previously announced US tour. A full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below.

Mar. 30 Savannah, GA @ The Jinx
Mar. 31 Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero *
Apr. 1 Charlotte, NC @ Rabbit Hole
* No ASG

Second leg:
Apr. 13 Huntington, WV @ V Club
Apr. 14 Dayton, OH @ Rockstar Pro Arena
Apr. 15 Pontiac, MI @ Berzerker Fest
Apr. 16 Lombard, IL @ Brauerhaus
Apr. 17 Milwaukee, WI @ Metal Grill
Apr. 18 Fargo, ND @ Aquarium
Apr. 20 Winnipeg, MB @ Windsor Hotel
Apr. 21 Regina, SK @ The Exchange
Apr. 22 Saskatoon, SK @ Amigos
Apr. 24 Edmonton, AB @ Brixx
Apr. 25 Calgary, AB @ Distortion
Apr. 27 Seattle, WA @ Highline **
Apr. 28 Portland, OR @ Star Theater **
Apr. 29 Sacramento, CA @ Starlite **
Apr. 30 San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge **
May 1 Los Angeles, CA @ Regent Theater **
May 2 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar
May 3 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
May 4 Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge
May 5 Rock Island, IL @ Rock Island Brew Co.
May 6 Indianapolis, IN @ Indiana City Brew Co.
May 7 Asheville, NC @ Mothlight

Weedeater, Goliathan (2015)

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