Friday Full-Length: Solarized, Neanderthal Speedway

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Solarized, Neanderthal Speedway (1999)

Primo fuzz the way they used to make it. New Jersey heavy rock, like my beloved Garden State itself, will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’ll confess I never got to see Solarized live. That hasn’t stopped me from over the years periodically taking Neanderthal Speedway or its 2001 follow-up, Driven off the shelf and giving them a spin. And why would it? The albums, the first of which came out on Man’s Ruin Records on April 9, 1999, have a fuzz and personality of their own, but listening back to the 12 tracks of Neanderthal Speedway now, my head is flooded with associations, from the riff of “Solar Fang” being directly tied to Monster Magnet‘s “Zodiac” to the low end work that Lou Gorra was simultaneously bringing to his own band, Halfway to Gone, while doubling alongside Solarized‘s core founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Jim Hogan and drummer Reg Santana, to the smell of sweaty summer nights at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch and the ride back north on the Parkway. Rounded out by guitarist Pete Hauschild on the debut, Solarized were never the highest-profile of the New Jersey heavy underground set, which at the time was being widely picked up by labels big and small in the wake of Monster Magnet‘s commercial success, whether it was Core on Atlantic, Solace on MeteorCity, Halfway to Gone on Small Stone, or The Atomic Bitchwax on Tee Pee.

There was certainly plenty enough rock to go around, and one can hear the punker roots that a lot of the above bands share/shared in Solarized‘s “Psyclone Tread,” but like so many others of their ilk, slowing down (some) and fuzzing out suited Solarized impeccably. They started Neanderthal Speedway at a good clip with “Nebula Mask,” seeming to answer Californian desert rock directly with a decidedly Eastern Seaboard crunch to their guitar tones. Hogan‘s vocals were clean but not overly melodic — another punk trait — and the drive of the tracks on the whole was more geared toward rawness than patience, even when it came around to cuts like “Shifter” on which Ed Mundell and Tim Cronin — both of Monster Magnet at one point, now of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and The Ribeye Bros., respectively — turned in guest appearances on guitar and percussion. Solarized seemed far more comfortable in the middle ground of songs like “Fire Breather,” “Gravity Well” and “Black Light Swill,” digging into hooks and hard-hitting, mid-paced riff-led fare, given to an overarching nod, but not necessarily slow in itself. Even a song like “February Sixth (Anti-Life Equation),” which boasted such rhythmic swing, kept to a solid tempo. Hey, if you’ve got a thing, and it works, go for it.

The four-piece’s original bio for Neanderthal Speedway, which was posted here seven years ago, noted Hogan‘s and Santana‘s connections to Daisycutter, in which Cronin and Mundell also played, as well as The Atomic Bitchwax‘s Chris Kosnik later on, and called Solarized “atomic boogie rock.” Fair enough. To hear “Aftermath,” it’s a decent description, and though Solarized saved the most of their lysergy for when Mundell showed up as on “Cloud King” or the excuse-me-I-believe-you-have-it-backwards instrumental closer “Monolith,” and it worked for them when they broke it out, but their sound was by no means a constant one way or they other. That worked for them too. Here’s the full bio in case you don’t feel like clicking the link:

solarized neanderthal speedway bio

As you can see, it was a pretty easy sell. Fuzz-drenched heavy rock and roll from what was at the time one of the country’s most fertile underground scenes. After Man’s Ruin went under, Solarized hooked up with MeteorCity for Driven — the label had also put out the Jersey Devils split with Solace (discussed here) in ’99 — and then seemed to sort of dissolve by the mid-aughts. Jim and Reg, who share the last name Hogan these days, play together in the punk band Defiance Engine, and Reg has another new outfit called 19DRT who’ll play their first show on April 20 at the Mill Hill Basement in Trenton. Ah, memories of that place.

I guess I’ve got New Jersey on the brain because, you know, I wish I lived there, but whatever the case, as always I hope you enjoy.

If how long it’s taken me to put together this post and how much of the last hour I’ve spent asleep with my head down on the kitchen table is anything to go by, I probably should’ve gone back to bed at some point after the alarm went off at 4:30AM. Perhaps the hint I should’ve taken was when I looked at my phone and it was 4:45 and I’d missed the first two rounds of the alarm. It was not my most fluid of mornings.

But that only feels fair enough since this was the LONGEST FUCKING WEEK EVER. Oh my god damn was this week long. Yesterday, I was sitting in The Patient Mrs.’ car waiting to pick her up from work and I fell asleep with my head on the steering wheel as I tried to calm The Pecan in the back seat, who was screaming like a madman — because he hates when the car sits still, likes it when the car moves. He finally quieted down and we both fell asleep at about the same time with the car idling outside the library on her campus. Some time later there’s a knock on the driver’s side window and I’m shocked awake. I jumped and rolled down the window and told the cop, “You scared the shit out of me,” which is apparently something you can say when you’re 36 years old, so white you’re practically transparent, and driving a Volvo with a baby and a dog in back. I told him I was waiting for my wife and my explanation for why I was unconscious was as simple as pointing to the back seat and saying, “five month old.” He said, “It gets better,” and went on his way.

But still, longest week ever. I can’t believe it’s not next Wednesday yet. Between the Quarterly Review, getting the last bits of the Roadburn ‘zine in place — still working on that — and other writing projects, my big luxury yesterday was stopping to go the bathroom and take a shower. I didn’t have time to do either, really. What a wreck. The Quarterly Review wraps on Monday, which will be a relief, and then it’s back toward some semblance of normality.

Subject to change as always, here are the notes for the week:

Mon.: QR6, Brond track premiere.
Tue.: Rancho Bizzarro EP stream, Green Desert Water video premiere.
Wed.: Shrine of the Serpent track premiere.
Thu.: Hound the Wolves Six Dumb Questions; Greenbeard video premiere.
Fri.: Mirror Queen video premiere.

So yeah, that plus catching up on all the news that slipped through the cracks this week should be a nice break. That’s why I get paid the big bucks. Ha.

On that happy note, I wish you a great and safe weekend. If you need me, I’ll still be here, trying to catch up. Maybe I’ll even answer some email and Facebook messages for the first time in like a week.

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Green Druid Post “Ritual Sacrifice” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

green druid

Anyone remember WinAmp? I’d say I’m at the risk of dating myself, but the truth is I don’t care if you know how old my sorry ass is. Anyway, WinAmp was an audio program that was pretty popular before iTunes came in and swallowed the planet and subsequently gave way to the likes of Spotify and YouTube and Bandcamp and whatever else people use now. It was handy for playing those mp3s you just downloaded off Napster and were going to brag about on you MySpace page. You get the point.

WinAmp had a visualization feature, and golly gosh, the new video from Denver’s Green Druid reminds me an awful lot of what might happen if you set Winamp’s visualization to “cause a seizure” and let it loose. The clip is for “Ritual Sacrifice,” which comes from Green Druid‘s recently-issued Earache Records debut, Ashen Blood and sees release ahead of the band’s performances this May at Brant Bjork‘s Stoned and Dusted fest in Joshua Tree and Electric Funeral Fest in Denver this June. The be-robbed riff worshipers have a couple other dates as well that you can see below, courtesy of the PR wire.

The is, of course, if you make it that far without your head pounding from the flashing lights. Good luck with that.

And enjoy:

Green Druid, “Ritual Sacrifice” official video

GREEN DRUID worships at the feet of the monolithic amplifier and performs holy communion with the tremorous onslaught of murky tones that emanate from its maw. “While our first EP and foray into the world of doom could be viewed as us learning the ins-and-outs of the genre, Ashen Blood is where we really started to hone in on our own voice,” issues the band. “Taking influence from the dark fantasy landscapes of games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, we strove to create a truly doomed psychedelic experience.”

GREEN DRUID will play a handful of area performances including an appearance at Stoned And Dusted and Electric Funeral Fest III with additional shows to be announced soon. See all confirmed dates below.

GREEN DRUID:
4/20/2018 Lion’s Liar – Denver, CO w/ Necropanther, Ghosts of Glaciers
4/26/2018 Bar Bar – Denver, CO w/ Thorr Axe, Giardia
5/26/2018 Stoned And Dusted – Joshua Tree, CA w/ Brant Bjork, The Obsessed, Nebula, more
6/29/2018 Electric Funeral Fest – Denver, CO w/ Speedwolf (reunion show), Spirit Adrift, Aseethe, R.I.P., more

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Friday Full-Length: Unida & Dozer, Double EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Unida & Dozer, Double EP (1999)

Unida and Dozer in 1999. Each with an EP, teaming up to put them out together on CD via a then relatively-nascent MeteorCity. I ask you, what’s not to dig about that? And if you can ever get past the hook of Unida‘s “Red” — no easy feat, mind you — you’ll find the whole release has something to offer as regards peak post-Kyuss-era heavy rock. The Californian desert and Sweden never sounded closer together than they do here.

The Best of Wayne-Gro was the first Unida release, and it was put out by MeteorCity as a standalone in 1998 before being included in this split. Of course, Unida was John Garcia‘s next project after the dissolution of Slo Burn and Kyuss before that, and with the fuzz of guitarist Arthur Seay (now of House of Broken Promises), the bass of Jerry Montano (HellyeahDanzig, etc.) and the drums of Miguel Cancino (also now of House of Broken Promises) behind him, the band was a powerhouse from the start. They’d hold on to some sense of jammy looseness with Garcia‘s “what the fuck?” freakout shouts in “Wet Pussycat,” which finished out their section of the split, and “Delta Alba Plex” before that began to depart somewhat from the more rigid structure of “Red” and opener “Flower Girl,” but one way or the other, Unida offered primo desert rock in this first outing and filled the listener with hope for what they might go on to accomplish together.

The groove was immediate on “Flower Girl,” and Garcia rode on top of it as only he seems to be able to do, his cadence and the guttural push in his voice entirely his own. Unida‘s always been thought of as a “John Garcia band” along with the likes of Hermano and Slo Burn — that is, I don’t know if the group would’ve worked with a different singer, which is likely part of why Seay put together House of Broken Promises and left Unida to reunite as their own thing when the time came in 2013 — but the entire band was on point. Listen to Cancino‘s drumming at the start of “Red.” He’s carrying that entire build himself, moving to his toms and cymbals before taking off on the crash for the chorus. The fuzz features, naturally, and I won’t take away from Seay‘s solo later in the track, but in terms of propulsion, it’s the drums all the way, and they hold together the nod of “Delta Alba Plex” as well before “Wet Pussycat” kind of pulls itself apart at the end after that sweet, laid back roll in its first half. I’m not the first person to say it, and this is by no means the first time I’ve said it, but what a band. What potential. And do you know what the craziest part is? If you put SeayCancino and Garcia in a studio today, they’d absolutely crush it. I’m sure I don’t need to recount for you the story of their lost albumThe Great Divide, which would’ve followed up their 1999 debut, Coping with the Urban Coyote (discussed here). Bottom line: some you win, some you lose. We all lost on that one.

Of course, Unida wasn’t the only act brimming with potential on the release, and like them, Dozer had issued their four-song Coming Down the Mountain EP as a standalone the year prior. Recorded in the band’s native Borlänge, Sweden, it stands as an ultra-early release for them as well, following their 1998 demo, Universe 75 (discussed here), and preceding a why-the-hell-has-no-one-compiled-these-for-reissue series of three splits with fellow Swedes Demon Cleaner that would be released over the course of ’98 and ’99. At the time, Dozer were guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, guitarist Tommi Holappa (now Greenleaf), bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall — the latter two now of Besvärjelsen), and the same lineup would go on to make three full-lengths together, 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here) and 2001’s Madre de Dios on Man’s Ruin and 2002’s Call it Conspiracy (discussed here) on Molten Universe before parting ways with Bäckwall and working with producer/percussionist Karl Daniel Lidén — by then formerly of Demon Cleaner — for 2005’s more aggressive Through the Eyes of Heathens. Here though, they sound raw in comparison to the more experienced Unida, and man does it work for them.

I’m a big fan of what Dozer ultimately became. I think Through the Eyes of Heathens and their 2008 swansong, Beyond Colossal, were nothing short of incredible achievements of individualism in heavy rock, and if you want to know where they might’ve gone next, pick up Greenleaf‘s 2012 album, Nest of Vipers (review here), and go forward from there. That said, early Dozer — along with earliest Natas and just about no one else — offers some of the most natural sounding not-from-the-desert desert rock you’ll ever hear. “Headed for the Sun” is a near-perfect execution of what at the time was barely a genre, and to follow it with the roll of “Calamari Sidetrip” — the watery effect on Nordin‘s vocals almost acting as a tie to Garcia‘s — and the psychedelic guitar work there offset by the all-thrust of the drum-led “From Mars” and the consuming fuzz of “Overheated,” Dozer sound like a young band, to be sure, but their energy is infectious as it would remain throughout their career. Something else they still have in common with Unida? Put these guys in a studio today, and yeah, they’d absolutely destroy.

I thought maybe I’d bug former MeteorCity honcho Jadd Shickler and see what he had to say about it as one of the guys who put it out. Here’s what he had on the subject:

“Within our first year of trying to figure out what the hell it meant to run a record label, we’d managed to open a communication line to ex-Kyuss/Slo Burn singer John Garcia and his new band Unida. We were also on the forefront of exploring the new contingent of Kyuss-inspired bands in Sweden. With the Nebula/Lowrider double EP coming together so beautifully, we wanted to continue on that magic path. Debuting the first recordings anywhere from Unida, which saw a more in-your-face vocal style than anyone had heard from John with Kyuss or Slo Burn, paired with (I think) the first worldwide release from Dozer, who would grow into an internationally-known stoner-rock juggernaut themselves, was perfect synchronicity. The songs were badass, and the sense of significance was palpable. It was pretty much impossible to ever tap into that early sense of trailblazing discovery in quite the same way again.”

The Double EP split has a special place in stoner rock history, and the quality of the material on it is unmistakable and a banner example of the best of its era. MeteorCity reissued it circa 2005, so I think copies still exist someplace on the planet.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I just went for a walk in the parking lot of the townhouse where I live. Back and forth with the little dog Dio. Apparently that’s a thing I do now. It’s quarter-to-six in the morning. I’ve been up since three. Somehow though, if my impressions during semi-conscious rollovers and getting up to go to the bathroom twice (11PM and 1AM, like clockwork) are anything to go by, I think The Patient Mrs. slept even worse. I was out early. I don’t know that it was 8:30PM. Pretty soon I’ll be asleep before the sun goes down. Hell if I care. I’m up before it’s up, so that makes some kind of sense. As much as anything.

I hear next week is the Quarterly Review. Well, I’ve done all of jack shit to prepare for it at this point and I think I just might decide to make it a six-dayer unless at the end of next week I’m so mentally burnt I can’t handle the prospect of going the additional day — which is certainly possible given everything else slated for the week as well. Dig the notes, subject of course to change:

Mon.: QR1, Greenbeard video premiere.
Tue.: QR2, Black Rainbows review/stream.
Wed.: QR3, Gozu review/track premiere.
Thu.: QR4, new Green Druid video.
Fri.: QR5, Rancho Bizzarro EP stream.

My brain aches thinking about it. Also I’ve got family in town this afternoon and tomorrow and I’m going to a Passover Seder tomorrow night at the home of one of The Patient Mrs.’ longtime friends down on Cape Cod. None of my pants fit. None of my shirts fit. If you need me, I’ll be drowning my anxiety in bran flakes and soy milk and sumo oranges. Also meds.

Oh yeah, plus five-month-old. The Pecan had a banner week. Dude’s clean vocals need some work, but he’s a screamer with the best of ’em.

I was in the grocery store the other day though — I grocery shop like every fucking day; it’s a thing to do with the baby and an unfortunate side-effect of eating food — and this leaving-middle-age dude in front of me in line turned around, saw the baby in the car seat in the cart and said, “I did that for 15 years before it was really accepted,” obviously talking about house-husbanding because it was the middle of the day. He had a pretty thick Massaccent, so I didn’t pick up everything he said, but I told him in response that it turns out it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. That’s not really true — I also want to write, all the time — but in terms of work, it’s incredibly difficult and only going to become more so once he’s verbal and mobile, but it beats the living shit out of every single job I’ve ever had. So yeah. Dude looked surprised. I was a little surprised too, I guess.

Then I went home and walked in the parking lot and told the little guy about snow melting and becoming water again. Somehow I doubt that’s the last time I’ll have that conversation.

Times continue to be hard in my head. Really hard. I see things and they set me off, like the dinner jacket that used to be my grandfather’s that I wore to my grandmother’s funeral that will never fit me again, and I get really sad. My nutritionist keeps telling me not to think about my body as a number, i.e. a weight. I’m not. I’m thinking of it as a thing that doesn’t fit into any of its clothes. Given where I was three months ago, it sucks to be where I am now. The doctor took more blood this week. I can’t even remember why.

Alright, I don’t really want to turn this post into a poor-fat-me piss party, so I’m going to leave eating disorder discussion there. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m expecting a call any minute now from The Patient Mrs. for me to go upstairs and change the baby, so that’s something. Anyway, have fun and be safe. Quarterly Review starts Monday and don’t forget the forum and radio stream in the meantime. Thanks for reading.

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Sergio Ch. Premieres “Fuerte Armado” Video; Updates on Next Album From Skulls

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

Sergio Chotsourian, the padrino of modern Argentinian heavy rock, is being somewhat tight-lipped when it comes to his next solo release. One might recall his last outing, the sophomore LP Aurora (review here), worked in a structure of offsetting two massive works of drone with more naturalistic, acoustic-based fare. One can extrapolate from the rather minimal info Chotsourian gave below that From Skulls might follow a similar pattern upon its release sometime later in 2018. Even if there are structural similarities, however, I wouldn’t count on Chotsourian to go repeating himself. Anyone who heard Aurora after his 2015 solo debut 1974 (review here) or who may have followed his career through his days in Los Natas, to Ararat, to Soldati and any of the number of projects he has going now, including cradling an entire continent’s worth of underground heavy with his South American Sludge Records label can tell you: you never quite know what you’re going to get.

All the better, and speaking of Los Natas — if you missed the news earlier this month — that most woefully defunct of power trios has inked a deal to release their classic debut album, Delmar, as an LP through Italian imprint Argonauta Records. That record, originally issued through Man’s Ruin, was something of a watershed moment for desert rock not actually from the Californian desert, and though by the time they were done in 2009/2010, Los Natas had become a very different band — for example, adding the “Los” part to their name where it hadn’t been there to start with — it remains a landmark over 20 years later.

Why bring it up now? Well, for starters it’s not like I can talk about From Skulls since I haven’t heard it yet, and also, if as Chotsourian asserts below that it’s maybe his best album ever, it’s got some tough competition in that regard, but with an assessment like that, I look forward all the more to hearing it when the time comes.

Until then, enjoy “Fuerte Armado” on the player below:

Sergio Ch., “Fuerte Armado” live playthrough

I’ve just finished recording a new solo album. Folk drone. I’m thrilled maybe my best album ever.

12 songs. 7 folk songs, 2 mega drones. Releasing by end of the year.

But recorded a live track as an advance video for it.

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Black Rainbows Post “High to Hell” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black rainbows

As to what it actually means to be high to hell, you’ll have to ask Italian trio Black Rainbows on that one and I’m sure they’d have a good answer for you. Maybe something like, “It’s when you’re really really high,” and if so, fair enough. The song “High to Hell” features second among the nine tracks on the Roma outfit’s sixth album, Padaemonium, which is out next week — because, hello, next week is April — on Heavy Psych Sounds, and offers some of its best fuzz and one of its most memorable hooks. And with lines about living like an astronaut and the end of time, it’s more than solid lyric video fodder. So here we are.

I’m going to have more about Pandaemonium next week — and by that I mean I’ll be streaming it in full with a corresponding album review, on Tuesday if all goes according to plan — so I don’t want to get too deep into what they’re going on any given track, but songs like “High to Hell,” “The Sacrifice,” “Riding Fast Til the End of Time” and so on provide anchors in their hooks that allow guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori the space to reach both out into space and deep into the dirt for earthy fuzz that propels them. Like much of their work over the last several years, it gracefully balances elements and creates something whole and individualized from them, rather than simply pitting one element against another. Hell, I’m reviewing the dam thing in spite of myself.

Alright, gonna stop there. Check back next week for more lavish praise heaped on Black Rainbows and that full stream. In the meantime, enjoy the “High to Hell” lyric video below, followed by more info from the PR wire info.

Dig in:

Black Rainbows, “High to Hell” lyric video

Italy’s stoner rock icons BLACK RAINBOWS unveil a fuzz-driven new track off their sixth album “Pandaemonium”, due out April 6th on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

“High To Hell” is the first excerpt off BLACK RAINBOWS’ new album “Pandaemonium”. The intro riff is a sledgehammer of fuzz and crunch striking the listener from the outset, while Gabriele Fiori’s sharp and hard-hitting vocals echo like a loop that won’t let go of your brain. Everything in this song is addictive. The Italian trio shows us how it’s done, with the fuzziest and fiercest stoner rock anthem you’ll hear this year!

“Pandaemonium” will be released on limited Silver vinyl, Orange Fluo Splatter Multicolor vinyl, as well as CD and digital.

BLACK RAINBOWS is
Gabriele Fiori – Guitar & Vocals
Giuseppe Guglielmino – Bass
Filippo Ragazzoni – Drums

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Friday Full-Length: Valley of the Sun, The Sayings of the Seers

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Not that they haven’t done plenty since, but can you believe it’s coming up on seven years since Valley of the Sun released The Sayings of the Seers (review here)? The Ohio-based heavy rockers issued their second EP in June 2011, and at the time, it was impossible to know what it would signal. I remember getting the vinyl and being so enthralled by the potential. Did it sound like Slo Burn? Shit yeah, but that wasn’t about to stop me from singing along to “Hearts Aflame” or “Riding the Dunes,” and for a band who was so new, they seemed to have their sound so together, so dead on, that — I’ll be honest — I thought they were going to take over the US heavy underground.

In a way, they did. The signal that was impossible to see at the time was just how much The Sayings of the Seers indicated that a new generation of American heavy rockers was on the rise and would take hold of the greater rock consciousness throughout the course of this decade. Ripple Music had gotten rolling in 2010, and certainly a heavy rock label boom followed in the wake of their success — it’s ongoing — but that wouldn’t have happened without an explosion of bands, and Valley of the Sun, if they were concurrent, they were also more cohesive than most at the time. Though its only five tracks long, The Sayings of the Seers presented them as a band whose work was essentially ready to roll out. Like few others in the sphere of US heavy — names like fellow Ohioans Lo-Pan, Portland forerunners Red Fang, Texas’ Wo Fat and Mothership and maybe one or two from a then-nascent scene in San Diego — Valley of the Sun not only represented a generation of heavy rock coming to fruition in the post-Facebook age, but did so at the head of the wave. The next couple years 2012, 2013, and 2014, would see a massive increase in the number of riff-led acts from across the country. Valley of the Sun by no means invented heavy rock and roll, but they sure as shit knew what they were doing when they started to play it.

The evidence of that is as plain as riff on “Hearts Aflame”‘s face. The way that song starts out a rager and subtly builds from there to give a genuine crescendo feel at the end. With guitarist Ryan Ferrier‘s vocals so dead-on in their John Garcia-esque delivery, Valley of the Sun seemed to be speaking immediately to a swath of the converted that most didn’t even know existed. The Sayings of the Seers only got stronger with the momentum-building boogie of “Deep Light Burns,” which gave their future Fuzzorama Records label bosses Truckfighters a run for their money in terms of its energy and seemed to be daring the audience to keep up with it. Later on, “Aquarius” would provide a likewise charge at the outset of side B, but to get there, one first had to brave the hook that was centerpiece “Mariner’s Tale,” which remains seven years later the kind of song one might listen to and say, “Okay, well there’s no way in hell they could possibly come up with anything catchier than this,” and then you hear “Riding the Dunes” close out and have to just throw up your hands and admit defeat. In sound, in the crispness of their production, the clarity of their execution, the vibe born of their tones and the accomplishment of their songwriting, Valley of the Sun wanted for absolutely nothing. At the time, I said, “Provided Valley of the Sun can continue to hone this level of craft and grow into their own as a band, I see no reason they couldn’t stand with a select few others at the forefront of their generation of American heavy rockers.”

A bit of a hyperbolic prediction, I’ll admit — there are many other factors besides quality of work that come into play between one band “making it” and another not; how much they tour, their management choices, their PR, their label, who they play with, when and where, etc. — but it was true enough that there was nothing at that point to indicate Valley of the Sun didn’t have that kind of potential. They’ve only grown bolder throughout their two to-date Fuzzorama LPs, 2014’s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here) and 2016’s Volume Rock (review here), though lineup shuffles around Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer have been a steady issue. Their work may be slightly underappreciated as a result, but they’ve never doled out anything less than ultra-engaging, sharply-turned professional heavy rock. Looking back on it now, The Sayings of the Seers was nothing if not a righteous statement of this intent.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I really, really wanted to sleep until six this morning. I didn’t. I had an announcement that I’d meant to write yesterday for the Freak Valley Festival — it’ll be posted here Monday — that I needed to bang out on European time, so it was a 4AM wakeup, which quite frankly is better than 2:30. After I did the writeup, futzed through some emails and stutter-started this post, falling asleep with my head on the kitchen table all the while, I went back to bed for a bit. Maybe an hour and a half or so. Something like that.

It really only matters because tonight I’m driving to Worcester to see Judas Priest and Saxon, and as I’ll be taking The Patient Mrs.’ car — mine is registered and starts now, but the brakes, not so much — I’d prefer not to fall asleep at the wheel and veer into the woods off the Masspike. It would be just my luck to completely total her car and survive to catch hell about it for the rest of my life.

That possibility notwithstanding, I’ll have a review up of that show on Monday. Monday’s also a pretty special occasion that I’ll be marking, so please keep an eye out for that. Here’s the rest of the notes for the week:

Mon.: Special post, Judas Priest review, Malady album stream/review.
Tue.: Baby Bones track premiere, Black Rainbows video.
Wed.: Sunnata review.
Thu.: T.G. Olson double-review.
Fri.: Soldat Hans review.

Those last three are basically me doing myself a favor pre-Quarterly Review, which is the following week, but they might get moved around. We’ll see.

You’re probably not, but if you’re wondering, eating disorder treatment continues and continues to suck. I’ve hit the point in this process of “getting healthy” where just about none of the clothes I’ve bought or acquired in the last two years fit me — a record label very kindly sent me a t-shirt this week that I’ll never be able to wear — and my favorite flannel — “the wizard flannel,” so dubbed because it’s huge like a wizard’s robe and when you wear it, its magical powers make the world seem less shitty — has gone missing. It’s probably in the basement where the clothes are kept [update: it was], somewhere among the mass of baby clothes and now-too-tight boxer shorts, but frankly, every time I go down there to look and get something to wear, I see the stack of shirts people sent me, from Year of the Cobra to Comacozer to Cosmic Fall, on and on and on, that can’t get around me anymore and it makes me want to veer into the woods off the side of the Masspike. So I try not to go downstairs. Not a sustainable plan, but fuck it. I’m a homemaker. If I wear the same t-shirt three days in a row, as I have with this Ancestors shirt I have on now, the only people who are going to be disappointed in me are myself and Donna Reed. Oh, and I’ve also stopped showering every day because I hate the sight of my own body in the bathroom mirror. “Getting healthy!”

That’s a fun one. Also fun is my anxiety about leaving the house — I’m nervous enough about going to Worcester tonight; Roadburn already has me terrified — and the generic platitudes I get about how much better I’m doing. Some level of some stupid fucking thing in my bloodwork is higher or lower than it used to be, isn’t that great? Who fucking cares? Do I live forever now? “Well, you were miserable at 150 pounds too.” No shit. I’d rather be miserable and have my fucking clothes fit me. I went out last summer and bought three pairs of hippie pants. Real hippie pants. Not that I could get them around my ass if I tried, but I don’t ever want to wear colors again. Let me just fucking do whatever I can do disappear and leave it at that. Like stay home and fall asleep typing and feel bad about not answering emails and Facebook messages fast enough.

So many fucking typos. I’m doing my best to catch them, but I know they’re getting through. It’s because I’m only half-conscious when I’m writing. Now you know.

Wow. Okay. Hard reboot? Delete everything past the notes for next week and start over? Nah fuck it. If you’re interested enough to keep reading this far into a 1,600-word post, you deserve nothing less than the truth about what a wretched wreck (“wrecktched?”) I am. So there it is. This week. And everyone tells me I’m getting better.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I wish I lived in New Jersey. I wish I had money enough to not have to worry about money. I wish I didn’t have to write down every fucking thing I eat in a day so it can be checked over like fourth grade math homework. I sucked at that too.

Thanks for reading. Please don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream, and just to not end on a bummer note, please make sure you check back Monday for that special post. It’ll be the first post of the day and it’s a big one, so yeah, stay tuned. It’ll be fun. I mean it.

Until then, all the best.

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Apostle of Solitude Post “Ruination be Thy Name” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Apostle of Solitude

If Apostle of Solitude wanted to just go ahead and make a clip for each of the non-intro/interlude tracks on their new album, From Gold to Ash (review here), I’d be cool with that. As long as I get to premiere one or two of them. Thus far in giving the record video interpretation, they’ve covered side A (if in reverse order) between their prior clip for the ultra-hooky “Keeping the Lighthouse” (posted here) and the new one below for post-intro opener “Ruination be Thy Name.” That leaves “My Heart is Leaving Here,” “Monochrome (Discontent)” and “Grey Farewell.” I say go for it. Those last couple tracks get pretty morose, but screw it, it’s doom. If you can’t handle being miserable, you’re in the wrong subgenre.

Unlike its darker companion piece inthe prior video, “Ruination be Thy Name” is pretty bright in its (visual) tone, comprised of manipulated green-screen performance footage edited together to the rhythm of the song itself. And it’s a considerable rhythm. Where later on, From Gold to Ash gets into some particularly heart-rending fare, both “Ruination be Thy Name” and “Keeping the Lighthouse” bask in more middle-ground tempos and some of the album’s most resonant hooks. Massive groove abounds, naturally, and “Ruination be Thy Name” seems to be built as much around its nodding riff as the repetitions of its title line. One way or another, it provides one of From Gold to Ash‘s most memorable impressions, and as the de facto leadoff cut, it emphasizes just how much the band has grown in the last several years.

I said in my review that this is one of the year’s best records. Well, since I wrote that I’ve only heard more of the candidates, and I completely stand by the earlier statement. From Gold to Ash shows how much life there can be in so-called traditional doom when a band works so diligently to make those traditions their own. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. That’s about all there is to it.

Enjoy the clip below, followed by more info from the PR wire:

Apostle of Solitude, “Ruination be Thy Name” official video

U.S. Doom Giants APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE have released the official video for “Ruination Be Thy Name,” a track from new album From Gold to Ash.

Cruz Del Sur Music released From Gold to Ash February 23 on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital formats.

CD: http://tinyurl.com/yaty2zet
Vinyl: http://tinyurl.com/ycjz3elg
Digital (album stream): apostleofsolitude.bandcamp.com/album/from-gold-to-ash

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE will host an album release show this Friday, March 23 at Black Circle Brewing in Indianapolis, along with Desert Planet, Devil to Pay and Shroud of Vulture.

A U.S. summer tour is currently in the works, as well as another trip across the pond with the band’s confirmed appearance at the 2018 installment of DOOM OVER VIENNA festival.

Recorded in September 2017 at Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN with studio mastermind Mike Bridavsky, From Gold To Ash offers seven songs of ambitious, aching doom. Largely defined by the heartfelt and emotive dual vocals of Chuck Brown and Steve Janiak, From Gold To Ash covers a wide spectrum of heavy, from raging instrumentals to introspective guitar duos, monolithic doom riffs and reflective, melodic heartache. From Gold to Ash is also the first APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE album to feature bassist Mike Naish (Astral Mass, Shroud of Vulture).

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE is:
Corey Webb – drums
Chuck Brown – guitars, vocals
Steve Janiak – guitars, vocals
Mike Naish – bass

Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

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Scissorfight Premiere “Unfinished Business” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

scissorfight

They’ve made it clear they ain’t leavin’. They’ve warned of the dangers of drinking downstream from where the beavers live. They’ve reminisced about how much better the ’70s were. They’ve even had the devil’s shingle — and I have no idea what that means nor desire to know. Now, with their new single, reactivated New Hampshire plunderers Scissorfight call out their “Unfinished Business.” As to what that business might be, it’s something of a mystery, because frontman Doug Aubin gets pretty growly sometimes, but if I had to guess, I’d say it probably involves riffs, beer, kicking ass and, I don’t know, more riffs? Dudes have plenty of riffs to go around.

“Unfinished Business” is one of several songs the Granite State Destroyers laid down at Converse Rubber Tracks‘ studio last year. “Devil’s Shingle” was another, and they’re Scissorfight - Unfinished Businessbeing put out one at a time in order to keep momentum up between the band’s holy-shit-Scissorfight-are-back 2016 return EP, Chaos County (review here), and their next full-length, which they’ll reportedly get to recording in May. That will mark the first new Scissorfight long-player in 12 years since 2006’s Jaggernaut — not to mention their first with Aubin on the mic and Rick Orcutt on drums alongside original members guitarist Jay Fortin and bassist Paul Jarvis. If the four-piece have shown anything about themselves in the last two-plus years that they’ve been around again, however, it’s that they haven’t forgotten how to kick ass. Their stomp remains incredibly, incredibly mean.

I’m not sure whether “Unfinished Business” will end up on the next Scissorfight record or not — that would make its own business unfinished — but its video is charming and raises some interesting points. Consider that when Scissorfight faded out circa ’06, the “hipster” thing was just really getting started. That generation was just beginning to turn over. Now, “those people” have been going to shows for over a decade — is it really fair to think of them as tourists at this point? They’re the ones buying shirts. Just something to keep in mind as you see the cartoon version of the band — adorable — chase down PBR-snagging fashionistas in a giant, antler-laden monster truck that should be well familiar to any longtime fan. Hell’s bells, maybe they just wanted to start a conversation.

Either way, bonus points for the use of the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter. Gabe Kaplan. Boom-Boom Washington. Classic.

The single is out tomorrow, March 23. Enjoy the video below, followed by a few words from the band:

Scissorfight, “Unfinished Business” official video premiere

Scissorfight on “Unfinished Business”:

These singles we are releasing are kinda one-offs that we recorded at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio last year. Right now we are working out the songs for our next full-length which we go into the studio in May. The video idea has been thrown around for a long time and I finally had some time to pull it off.

Scissorfight website

Scissorfight on Thee Facebooks

Scissorfight on Instagram

Scissorfight on Twitter

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