Portland, Oregon’s Last Giant released their debut album, Heavy Habitat, on Feb. 24 through Little One Ate the Big One Records. You might recall the song “Captain My Captain” was premiered here in December. Well, as a lousy American once said, “Fuck it — we’ll do it live.” That guy was a dick, and wrong about everything else, but he had it right in terms of the value of raw performance, and Last Giant are heeding that bit of inadvertent and once-viral wisdom, currently embroiled in a 12-date run around the West/Northwest that had them snowed out in Colorado last night, finds them driving to Idaho for tonight and tomorrow, and wrapping with two shows in Oregon this Friday and Saturday.
A not-insubstantial stint, and no doubt effective in getting the three-piece’s point across. That point? That you can kick ass and enjoy doing it. Tracked by Adam Pike at Toadhouse Recordings, Heavy Habitat was a solo-project in the studio for multi-instrumentalist/vocalist RFK Heise, formerly of System and Station, but live, Heise is joined by bassist Adam Shultz and drummer Matt Wiles, and naturally, the dynamic is different. One can see it in the video below of Last Giant on stage at The Trunk Space in Phoenix, Arizona. As they run through “Captain My Captain” live, Wiles‘ swing can’t help but drive the boogie in Heise‘s guitar and Wiles‘ bass, and the track departs from the intricate layering of its studio incarnation to something more basic that speaks to punkier roots than one might’ve initially heard in its crisp studio presentation.
But I guess that’s the whole point of doing it live. Last Giant will be looking to tour more this summer — including a makeup date for Denver that, since it won’t be March, is probably about 30 percent less likely to see snow — so keep an eye out. In the meantime, this clip comes from last Friday, Feb. 27, which I think counts as “fairly recent” by modern standards. Video is followed by the specifics on the remaining dates of the tour:
Last Giant, “Captain My Captain” Live at The Trunk Space, Phoenix, AZ, 02.27.15
Last Giant remaining current tour dates: 3/4 Flipside Lounge- Pocatello, Id 3/5 Crazy Horse- Boise, Id w/ My New Mistress 3/6 Lone Pine Cafe- Baker City, OR w/ guests 3/7 Foggy Notion- Portland, OR w/ Fortune Club + Human
The last Emissions from the Monolith festival took place in 2007 in Austin, Texas, but the fest will always be associated with Youngstown, Ohio. A beaten, post-industrial burg off Route 80 on the other side of the Pennsylvania state line, there wasn’t much to see in Youngstown, and that was part of the point. Nestled deep in a street that, on any given day, someone might rob the deli down the block, the Nyabinghi itself was a mirror of dropped-out culture. Not the glorified kind, but the kind that actually didn’t give a fuck. From 2000 through 2006, Emissions from the Monolith was held at the Nyabinghi and its lineups looked an awful lot like the shape of heavy to come.
I only went to one. The last in Ohio, in 2006. A little band called Baroness opened one of the days and to date it’s the only US appearance Colour Haze have ever made. There was some blowup with SunnO))) that resulted in thrown monitors. To tell you the truth, there’s a lot of it I don’t remember. Apparently Orange Goblin and Scissorfight‘s tour took them out that way. Awesome. I remember seeing that in New York, but if I caught it at Emissions, it’s news to me. It was that kind of a thing. A blackout weekend every Memorial Day. There was very little fashionable about heavy rock and doom at the time, and barbecue sandwiches sold on the back patio. It’s hard to write about without glorifying it, but maybe it should be glorified. Probably not if we’re judging by standards of public safety. I remember handing one of my band’s demos to Greg Barratt, who owned the place and booked Emissions. He was polite enough.
Wino was a regular fixture at the fest, between Spirit Caravan in 2000 and 2001 and The Hidden Hand in 2003 and 2004. The year this week’s Wino Wednesday clip comes from is 2001. Spirit Caravan — Wino, bassist Dave Sherman, drummer Gary Isom — were joined on the bill by Warhorse, Bongzilla, Halfway to Gone, Weedeater, Witch Mountain, Disengage, Pale Divine, Tummler, Sherman‘s own Earthride and many others. I imagine it was a hell of a weekend. At the start of their set, Wino thanks Barratt for putting the thing on and says something about police activity the night before. That sounds about right.
Not sure who filmed it, but the audio is by Michael “Lucifer Burns” Lindenauer. Enjoy:
Spirit Caravan, Live at Emissions from the Monolith II, May 2001
You might not know Los Angeles’ Lunar Electric is a three-piece to look at their new video for “Crossfire Child,” but you can hear the bass in the recording underneath guitarist Dre DiMura‘s solo in the second half of the song and thickening the start-stop chug of the bridge. In the clip, however, mostly what we see are DiMura and drummer Kaleen Reading, who though they’re based in L.A. recorded Lunar Electric‘s self-titled debut EP, from whence “Crossfire Child” comes, in Brooklyn and shot the video in Philadelphia. Their bass player for the recording, Geena Spigarelli, hails from Austin, Texas. Because of course.
Though somewhat geographically unhinged — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either — Lunar Electric are much clearer in their purpose, as “Crossfire Child” demonstrates across its six minutes. Directed by Grayson Kohs with camera work by Aaron Dye (DiMura is also listed as producer), the video jumps back and forth between a chess match DiMura seems to be playing against himself, a tarot reading and performance footage of DiMura and Reading in a studio space, amps stacked behind, cinderblock in front of what would otherwise surely be a roving kick drum. The track itself starts out intense but unfolds to a more open verse, soaked in attitude and groove, building through the chorus en route to its breakdown and the aforementioned solo, the central figure of which speaks to some more aggressive influence underlying “Crossfire Child”‘s swagger.
Or maybe that’s just youth. Either way, you’ll know the part when it hits. Sorry to say, but the chess match doesn’t end well for DiMura. The song does. I’m not sure if Spigarelli is still in the band or not, but one imagines these things will become clear over time. Let’s start at the beginning, and that’s “Crossfire Child,” the video for which you’ll find below, followed by some bio info off the PR wire.
Lunar Electric‘s Lunar Electric EP is out May 12 on Electric Maiden Recordings. Enjoy:
Lunar Electric, “Crossfire Child” official video
Lunar Electric is the eponymous, debut EP from the Los Angeles-based three piece rock ‘n’ roll band being released digitally May 12 on Electric Maiden Recordings, via iTunes, BandCamp, SoundCloud, and Amazon among other outlets.
The three band members cut their musical teeth accompanying a wide range of renowned artists including the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes, Gloria Gaynor, Dee Snider and Jon Anderson of Yes. The Lunar Electric was born out of the ashes of Resin Gypsy, a duo formed by guitarist/vocalist Dre DiMura and drummer, Kaleen Reading in 2011. DiMura and Reading met in 2008. Originally conceived as a studio project, the duo began performing live following the release of their self-titled debut album in 2012. Resin Gypsy was an independently released, energetic basement recording produced by DiMura. The group formally disbanded after just eight months, but the pair continued to write and record together.
In September 2014, Dre and Kaleen reentered the studio, this time accompanied by bassist Geena Spigarelli of Austin, Texas whom Reading had worked with in 2010. Featuring three tunes from Resin Gypsy’s repertoire and the brand new song, “Crossfire Child” Lunar Electric is a powerhouse 17-minute barn-burner with enough raw power to send you into a state of panic and euphoria all at once. Between the ultra-tight grooves provided by Reading, Spigarelli’s one-of-a-kind bass lines, and the innovative guitar work of DiMura, this trio’s debut proves distinctive and powerful enough to make even the most jaded stand up and take notice.
The obvious choice would’ve been the first episode from the second season (going by original airdate), “Amok Time,” which is where Spock enters the pon farr, or the Vulcan mating cycle, and winds up fighting a to-the-death battle with Captain Kirk. That’s a classic, no doubt about it, but later-that-season’s “Journey to Babel” is more interesting in terms of the character, giving the background for who he is and how he got to be that way, living in two words and all that, and Leonard Nimoy‘s performance as Spock is of course stellar.
Today marks the passing of Nimoy, who played Spock for the better part of 50 years — most recently in 2013’s reboot sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness — and in many ways was the face of the Star Trek franchise even more than Kirk, whose portrayal by William Shatner remains a landmark in televised and cinematic science-fiction, but about whom, without Spock and Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) to personify his cerebral and emotional impulses, there wasn’t much to tell. A half-human, half-alien hybrid with pointed ears, a funny hand gesture and deeply-buried emotions, Spock became an archetype that would be imitated ceaselessly both in the Star Trek franchise (see also: Data on The Next Generation, Odo on Deep Space Nine, Seven of Nine and Tuvok on Voyager and T’Pol on Enterprise) and outside of it, and the character’s devotion to logic and science served as an analogy for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry‘s hope for humanity. Not that we’d necessarily abandon our emotions, but that we could evolve to a point where we might not be completely ruled by them. Hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a nice thought.
Over the years on television and in films, Nimoy and Spock became seemingly inseparable, to the point that Nimoy‘s two autobiographies, I am Not Spock and I am Spock, addressed the issue directly. Nimoy wrote, directed, was a poet and a photographer, released multiple albums over his career and made more television and voice-over appearances than even IMDB can count, but whatever he did, his role as Spock continued to define him, and particularly, the joy he seemed to take from that role especially in his later years. His tweets often ended with “LLAP,” an acronym for Spock‘s famous salute, “Live long and prosper.”
And since it’s as Spock that Nimoy will always be best remembered, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a human being mourned, not the work he’s done. The work will remain.
Next week, reviews of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Ruby the Hatchet and Blackout. Monday a video premiere from Lunar Electric. Have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.
This is pretty early on for The Hidden Hand. I’m not sure of the venue — The Velvet Lounge, maybe? — but this version of “Desensitized” would’ve just about coincided with the release of the 7″ that broke the song up into two parts and was their first release prior to making their their full-length debut with Divine Propaganda on MeteorCity that same year. There seems to be some discrepancy as to when the first The Hidden Hand show actually was. Respected taper TNTFreedooM, who show this week’s clip and is responsible for many more that have been featured here in the past has it listed that their live debut was March 23, 2003, and yet in the Megabox there are videos dated before that, one from Feb. 2003 and one from New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2002. That’s the earliest show I can find, but whether or not it was actually the first, I can’t be sure.
Last week I posted a mystery wondering if it was Scott Reeder or Guy Pinhas playing with The Obsessed and pretty immediately got schooled in the variations on the two bass players, the upshot being that, indeed, it was Pinhas. I’ve no doubt somebody out there was at the first The Hidden Hand show, whether it was that New Year’s gig or one before it, and would be able to enlighten me and anyone else who might be wondering. Either way, this version of “Desensitized,” preceded by a bit of technical difficulties from bassist/vocalist Bruce Falkinburg that results in two false starts from Wino and drummer Dave Hennessy, is pretty early into their tenure, which would come to an end in 2007 following the release of their third album, The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote.
And of course, “Desensitized” would later be re-recorded for The Hidden Hand‘s second album, 2004’s Mother Teacher Destroyer, which is usually regarded as the high point of the band. It is as signature a riff as The Hidden Hand had, and I hope you enjoy this version and have a great Wino Wednesday:
The Hidden Hand, “Desensitized” Live in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2003
Swiss trio Sons of Morpheus released their self-titled debut last September through Deepdive Records. Earlier this month, they hit Studio Stübio in Luzern to record three songs from that album. Intent on doing it live to best capture the chemistry between guitarist/vocalist Manuel Bissig, bassist Lukas Kurmann and drummer Simon Gautsch, they wound up bringing to life the tracks “Eye of the Storm,” “Sugar Boogie” and “Psilocybin” all in one take. Snakehill Productions, whose Karma to Burn behind-the-scenes videos were recently featured here, was on-hand to tape the proceedings, and I’m happy today to be able to host the premiere of that video.
The clip is 28 minutes long, and accordingly it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think of it as a short live set from the three-piece. “Eye of the Storm” and the aptly-titled “Sugar Boogie” appear next to each other on the Sons of Morpheus album as well, though in the opposite order, and the flow between those songs and “Psilocybin” is palpable. The openers are a catchy, natural-toned pair that work well side-by-side in showcasing the rhythmic fluidity between Kurmann and Gautsch and Bissig‘s penchant for tossing off classic-style leads at the drop of a hat. As they move into the faster “Sugar Boogie,” that dynamic holds, and it does so as well once they get into the more stretched out “Psilocybin.”
It’s a psychedelic jam directly descended from Jimi Hendrix‘s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” On the album, “Psilocybin” stretches over nine minutes, and I think it’s longer than that here, as Sons of Morpheus gradually build from a quiet psychedelia to more propulsive blues rock en route to jamming the whole thing to pieces in an intense final barrage. That too is a pretty classic notion, but whatever familiar elements Sons of Morpheus are working with, they’re right to do it live, because what most distinguishes them is how well the three-piece work together. If you’re not convinced by the end of the Snakehill/Studio Stübio video, I’m not sure what to tell you.
Please find the whole video on the player below (quite a future we live in), followed by some thoughts from the band on recording live and more. Enjoy:
Sons of Morpheus, “Eye of the Storm”, “Sugar Boogie” and “Psilocybin” Live
We all have our own answer regarding the question what it takes for a band to be truly special. The songs? The excess? The looks? All wrong. What makes music special is the life which is pumped into it. The sorcery. The magic. Enter Sons Of Morpheus: Three Swiss musicians, united in wish and goal. “We are a unit following the same thoughts and the same aims”, vocalist Manuel Bissig explains. No words are needed to express what these are. You hear it. Feel it. With their self-titled debut, they evoke a sonic trance between Stoner, Blues, Rock and wavering psychedelia, between the golden aura of yesterday and the expectant hiss of tomorrow. What unites Sons Of Morpheus with the heroes of the sixties and seventies, with all these iconic forefathers of our contemporary riff, is absolute freedom.
That’s why Sons Of Morpheus shows a sense of jamming, of improvising and of courageous edges despite all that groove and Stoner dust. Only all too clear that playing live lies at the very core of their art. “We are a live band, thus we record live”, Bissig states as if this was no big deal at all. Recording with titan Jim Waters (Sonic Youth, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), consequently, was not only a logical step but also the best decision this band could ever make. This record rumbles, it roars, it creaks as if the band was thrashing your living room. “When recording live, this single moment gives birth to something that is feeding on the emotions present in this room. In this moment, only music matters.” And precisely this music is of such a dreamlike power that evokes envy even in the eponymous God of Sleep.
Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris‘ 1988 documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, was among the first genuine cinematic looks at heavy metal subculture that carried little-to-no element of condescension. While the 1986 short Heavy Metal Parking Lot was all spectacle and gags, mocking a group of people by letting them hang themselves with the noose of their own words, Spheeris‘ work chronicling ’80s metal and particularly the Sunset Strip was less judgmental, and for anyone who’s seen it — if you haven’t, consider it recommended viewing — one of its most memorable scenes involved then-WASP guitarist Chris Holmes, who, flanked by his mother and sitting fully clothed on a floating recliner in a backyard pool while downing a bottle of vodka, showcased the loneliness underlying the ultra-masculine braggadocio of metal at that time in slurred, miserable poetry.
For a movie centering around “glam,” it was a particularly human moment once you looked past the surface, and Melbourne four-piece Mammoth Mammoth recreate that scene and parody the excess of the day in their new clip for “Lookin’ Down the Barrel,” complete with back yard pool, floating bottles and mom in a lawnchair beside. It’s tongue-in-cheek, to be sure, and the band — whose new album, Volume IV: Hammered Again, is due out in April on Napalm Records – are no strangers to a boozy reputation themselves. They made their Napalm debut in late 2012 with Volume III: Hell’s Likely, and as “Lookin’ Down the Barrel” proves, the sound of vocalist Mikey Tucker, guitarist Ben Couzens, bassist Pete Bell and drummer Frank Trobbiani has only gotten more raucous. They not only recreate the pool scene from The Decline of Western Civilization Part II, quoting Holmes at the beginning of the clip as Couzens wears a WASP t-shirt just to drive the point home, but right down to the jiggling dancers, they tap into the recklessness that fueled that age and that still holds an appeal some 30 years later.
Of course, the difference is those bouncing ladies end up inflating water-wings for the band, maybe to remind us of the childishness of that kind of fantasy/objectification, but the song’s a hook-laden, heavy-riffed party one way or another, and far be it from me to stand in the way of such a thing. Volume IV: Hammered Again arrives April 7 in North America, and you can find other release dates and the preorder link following the video itself below.
Mammoth Mammoth, “Lookin’ Down the Barrel” official video
A naked, pot-smoking beauty on the cover and song titles like ‘Hammered again’ or ‘High as a kite’ – Mammoth Mammoth definitely won`t turn a good party down! The scruffy Australians deliver the soundtrack mixing dirty hard rock with a healthy dose of stoner: Volume IV – Hammered Again comes roaring down the highway with lotsa fuzz, a raw production and pure force! That`s why this fourpiece is called Mammoth Mammoth – one mammoth ain`t enough for this massive orgy…
Street Date: G/A/S/Europe/AUS 27.03.2015 UK/NO/FR/DK/IT 30.03.2015 SE/ESP 01.04.2015 USA/CAN 07.04.2015
I love this record. Jethro Tull‘s oh-yeah-they’re-the-band-with-the-flute reputation and the sort of over-the-top aspects of Aqualung, whether it’s Ian Anderson‘s vocal delivery or grandiose songwriting too often get the focus when it comes to modern perceptions of Tull, but their early work is a landmark in heavy rock as well as prog, albums like 1968’s debut This Was and 1969’s Stand Up setting the stage for the proggy indulgences that really took hold with 1972’s single-song wonder Thick as a Brick and continued to develop from there. Aqualung, released in 1971, is sort of the middle ground between the impulses of blues rock and prog. You of course have the opening title-track, a great, crashing thing, with its vocal proclamations and guitar-led grandeur, but it’s still the riff that makes it, and later cuts like “Hymn 43,” “Locomotive Breath” and “Wind-Up,” let alone the unmitigated groove of the subsequent “Cross-Eyed Mary,” follow a similar course. Even “Mother Goose,” which is acoustic, follows its central guitar figure. That song is practically flute-less, as is the subsequent quiet contemplation “Wond’ring Aloud,” but perhaps the best blend of Anderson‘s flute and Martin Barre‘s guitar is the expansive side B opener “My God.” There’s an audible switch in the tape when the choral vocals and extended flute solo kick in (it’s 25:03 into the album), and that’s a pivotal moment for the band. The tone of the woodwind instrument changes and the feel becomes more orchestral, brazenly moving away from heavy rock to something with greater aspirations.
Tull would of course head in that direction in the years that followed, forging an influential legacy in classic prog, but Aqualung remains their defining moment and it’s easy to speculate that the reason why is because songs like “Up to Me” refuse to give up their rock and roll swagger in the name of forging a new take on classical music’s technical focus. Of course, “Aqualung” became one of rock’s great characters — do I need to reference “Sgt. Pepper” or “Corporal Clegg”; two military figures, yes, but “Aqualung”‘s veteran status is unknown — but even in its smallest passages, “Cheap Day Return,” “Wond’ring Aloud” or “Slipstream,” Aqualung is afraid to be neither sweet nor sour, and even if Jethro Tull had never released another album, it would be enough to ensure legendary status.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Had a pipe burst this week. It froze. The townhouse we’re in apparently isn’t much for insulation, so much to the surprise of The Patient Mrs. and I on Monday afternoon, steam started flooding the guest room and water started streaming down from the kitchen ceiling. That ceiling, now stained, will need painting. The carpet upstairs, maybe cleaning will do it rather than outright replacement? Took two days to dry out the floor, dehumidifier and box fan and towels. Took the plumber about 20 minutes to fix the busted pipe. Suggested we keep the heat up more on colder nights. It was at 60 when it broke. Also had the plumber back this afternoon to look at our hot water. These are the joys of home ownership. The American Dream: A Year on Unemployment Spending Money on Home Repair. At least it’s supposed to be above freezing this weekend, though as I understand it will rain the whole time.
Oh, I used to go to shows. Now I just stay home and think about the weather. That’s my life now. I’ve canceled my trip to Roadburn in favor of the Northeastern Meteorological Conference in New Haven.
Not really, but it has been a lot about the weather. I’m still going to Roadburn. One must get right with one’s gods, after all.
Seems kind of like I’m checking out early, but what the hell. A particularly efficient day is a welcome change from the norm, and a (lukewarm) shower and a run to the grocery store await. Monday starts with a video premiere from Mammoth Mammoth, and then we get deeper from there. Reviews of Blut and Mansion, and hopefully The Midnight Ghost Train, and a look at the Skunk Hawk tape and a little more of this or that. The early part of this week — like, Monday through Thursday — had a lot of premieres, and I’m into that since it’s basically just a review with some exclusive audio attached, but those don’t always do a lot to whittle down the stuff on the pile. And after the late-2014 50-reviews-in-one-week purge, there’s already a pile built back up. Might have to make “Last Licks” a seasonal thing.
Whatever. Too much music is a good problem to have, and if I can’t keep up, well at least that keeps me busy. Sometimes it’s worth stepping back and realizing how much more I need this than it needs me, I guess is what I’m saying.
On that note, I’ll skip out. Not actually skipping because my foot’s all messed up, but figuratively skipping for the deep, resonant, warm joy I feel inside. Dianetics!
Have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream. If you get the chance to dig into the new podcast, that’d rule as well.