Monster Magnet Interview with Dave Wyndorf: “An Interesting World”

Posted in Features on August 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

monster magnet 1

I had been looking forward all week to talking to Monster Magnet‘s Dave Wyndorf for the simple reason that, of anyone you might talk to on any given day, chances are he’s the guy who’s going to have the most interesting story to tell and chances are he’s going to get to telling it with the least amount of bullshit possible. We last spoke in 2013 when Monster Magnet released Last Patrol (review here), what was at the time their strongest outing in more than a decade by my estimation, marked by a return to prominence of the band’s psychedelic and space rock influences. In short, they got weird again. And not a moment too soon.

Their prior outing, 2010’s Napalm Records debut, Mastermind (review here), certainly had its moments but ultimately came across as playing to formula both in songwriting and aesthetic. For a band who’d been so brazen earlier in their career on records like their classic 1991 debut, Spine of God, or even 1998’s fourth outing, Powertrip, which set the tone in one way or another for nearly everything Monster Magnet would do until Last Patrol arrived. Prior to that album, it seemed like a changing heavy rock climate had left them behind, and so it was even more encouraging when, instead of pressing ahead after Last Patrol and essentially working under a new formula, Wyndorf and his studio partner, guitarist Phil Caivano, got even weirder, reworking material from Last Patrol, tripping it further out and pushing even deeper into space on last year’s unexpected release, Milking the Stars (review here).

If Milking the Stars proved anything at all, it was that anyone who thought they knew what Monster Magnet were going to do next — fans, critics, whoever — were dead wrong, and the upcoming Cobras and Fire (out Oct. 9 on Napalm; review pending) follows that impulse even deeper. In concept, it does to Mastermind essentially what Milking the Stars did to Last Patrol; it reimagines the songs and gives them a new context. The difference is the songs from Mastermind had a much longer way to go to get to where they are on Cobras and Fire, which between the brand new sleazed-out opener “She Digs that Hole” and the Temptations-gone-Hawkwind cover “Ball of Confusion” makes even the most whacked-out jams on the last album seem tame.

Reworking cuts like “Time Machine” and “The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby” — now just “The Titan” — as instrumentals broadens the context further, but the strength of Cobras and Fire is as much about the quality of what’s there as what’s done with it. “When the Planes Fall from the Sky,” “Gods and Punks,” and “Hallucination Bomb” were strong tracks to start with — had good bones, you might say if they were a house you were interested in buying — but their stretched, twisted, morphed into new identities for themselves and the album as a whole, the headphone-worthiness of which bleeds from every minute of its hour run, right down to the Joe Barresi-assembled mashup, “I Live behind the Paradise Machine,” which rounds out on a boldly atmospheric note, sending Cobras and Fire out not with a bang, or with a whimper, but with the realization that there’s a whole world out there and as much as ever, something about it just doesn’t fit.

Wyndorf has a keen talent for phrasing, as anyone who’s ever read his lyrics can attest. In the interview that follows, he talks as much if not more about the conditions in which artists create today as about these songs or bringing Chris Kosnik in on bass for the live incarnation of the band with lead guitarist Garrett Sweeny, WyndorfCaivano, and drummer Bob Pantella, but I consider it all relevant to not just this record, but to where Monster Magnet are headed from here as they continue to move forward to their inevitable next full-length, next tour, etc. Basically, each ramble is a fucking treasure, and as much as you want to dig in, you can. In the end, if you can’t get down, it’s your loss.

Complete Q&A is 9,200-plus words. It follows after the jump. Enjoy.

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Interview with Kevin R. Starrs: The Creeping Noir

Posted in Features on August 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ester Segarra

When guitarist vocalist Kevin R. Starrs of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats croons, “I know you love murder nights/I know you love death,” on the song “Murder Nights” from his band’s latest LP, The Night Creeper, he might as well be speaking directly to his audience. Uncle Acid‘s fourth outing overall, The Night Creeper (on Rise Above) follows the unmitigated success of 2013’s Mind Control (review here) and 2011’s Blood Lust, as the latest step in a surge of profile that’s seen them go from releasing 100 copies of their Vol. 1 debut in 2010 to featuring at Roadburn in 2013 — for their third show, ever — opening for Black Sabbath, and headlining across the US, which is something they’ll do again in support of The Night Creeper, bringing Ecstatic Vision and Ruby the Hatchet along for the ride (info here).

Not only is it a feat that Uncle Acid have managed to accomplish this, but they’ve done so while vigorously maintaining a mystique that few bands can claim as their own in the age of social media, Instagram ubiquity, cellphone concert videos, etc. I remember wondering how they were able to get such an ethereal, eerie vocal sound until I actually saw them on stage and realized it was Starrs and fellow guitarist Yotam Rubinger — the band is rounded out by bassist/backing vocalist Vaughn Stokes and drummer Itamar Rubinger — singing together. They’ve become the household name of cult compounds, and that’s utterly perfect for the atmospheres they conjure with their tales of murder, vibes transposed from grainy horror VHS tapes, biker movies, bad-trip psychedelia and other ominous, analog threats brought to bear across songs that are correspondingly classic in their structures, melodically rich and at times unbearably catchy.

Where one might expect after Mind Control that Uncle Acid would begin to smooth out their sound as their audience continues to grow, The Night Creeper is their grittiest offering yet. Recorded mostly live at Toe Rag Studio by Liam Watson, cuts like “Pusher Man” and “Melody Lane” — which sounds like it would be a Beatles reference but actually seems to nod at The Rolling Stones in its lyrics; the ol’ switcheroo — demonstrate just how identifiable Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ sound has become over the last half-decade and the impact and influence they’ve already had on heavy rock, while ambient pieces like “Black Motorcade” and the instrumental “Yellow Moon,” as well as the nine-minute hypno-jam “Slow Death” serve notice that as much as their aesthetic has developed to this point, the progression has by no means hit its endpoint.

In the interview that follows, Starrs talks about making The Night Creeper and especially how the advent of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats as a live act has allowed them to grow in the studio.

Q&A follows after the jump. Please enjoy:

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GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a Weedeater T-Shirt and Free Goliathan CD!

Posted in Features on August 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

weedeater-obelisk-admat-FIX

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

Free Weedeater. It’s an idea whose time has come. The North Carolina trio just wrapped an East Coast tour with Kings Destroy in support of their new album, Goliathan (review here), which is their fifth long-player and their first for Season of Mist, and today I’m thrilled to be able to host this giveaway for a Goliathan CD and t-shirt!

You know the protocol by now, just enter by leaving a comment on this post and a week from now (or thereabouts) I’ll dig through and pick a name and an email address at random and notify the winner. It’s not necessarily a formal contest, but if you wanted to name your favorite Weedeater album title puns/wordplays in the comment, that might be taken into account when the winners are chosen. At very least it gives you something to put in the comment.

Just for easy reference, here they are:

  • …and Justice for Y’all
  • Sixteen Tons (not really wordplay, but still a cool title)
  • God Luck and Good Speed
  • Jason… the Dragon
  • Goliathan

All of the above were reissued last year by Season of Mist as well. If you haven’t heard Goliathan yet, Weedeater‘s latest swampsterpiece is a high point in their sludgy assault, new drummer Travis Owen (ex-Artimus Pyledriver) fitting right in alongside bassist/vocalist “Dixie” Dave Collins and guitarist Dave “Shep” Shepherd. Tracks like the weirdo banjo blues “Battered and Fried” and the full-tonal thrust of “Bow Down” find the band toying with expectation like so many beaten livers, and the result across the board is a record both entirely their own and pushed further than ever before into that strange, malevolent world they create.

Sound like something you’d want to win? It is. Have at it. God luck to all who enter, and good speed to Season of Mist for letting me host the giveaway.

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

Weedeater, Goliathan (2015)

Weedeater on Thee Facebooks

Weedeater at Season of Mist

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In the Studio with Rozamov at New Alliance Audio, Cambridge, MA

Posted in Features on August 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Rozamov (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I’d never been to New Alliance Audio before. In operation since 1987, it’s one of the Eastern Seaboard’s best-reputed studios — you’ve probably also seen “Mastered at New Alliance East” on a plethora of releases; that’s right next door — nestled into the heart of Cambridge a couple blocks down from The Middle East in a building that also houses the radio station WEMF and numerous other entities of note. The occasion that finally allowed me to sneak a look was Rozamov putting the finishing touches on their first full-length, and I very much appreciated the opportunity to stop by, even more because I got to hear some rozamov 3 (Photo by JJ Koczan)of their new material than because it granted me a look at the place where they tracked it.

Or tracked most of it, anyway. There was still a bit of work to be done, some vocal overdubs prior to mixing and the like. Guitarist/vocalist Matt Iacovelli met me at the door and gave me directions upstairs — he was stepping out into the August heat for a quick break from recording — and up in the studio itself, I found bassist/vocalist Tom Corino and New Alliance head engineer Jon Taft in the control room past a narrow lobby. The control room itself is spacious enough to record in, a high ceiling, intimidatingly large tape machine, professional-as-hell low wall of preamps, expansive console, ProTools setup, stack of monitors and so on, all dark colors and lights that could probably be turned up if you wanted to make someone uncomfortable or see to clean — unlike many studios I’ve been in, it was clean — and through the window was the recording room itself, which had been arranged to suit the vocals, with partitions arranged to capture the sound just right and give a projected feel. I didn’t get a close-up look at the microphone, but from listening to what came through rozamov 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)it in the control room once Iacovelli came back in and got started, it sounded expensive.

Rozamov, after releasing their first, self-titled EP in 2012 and following it up with a second EP, Of Gods and Flesh, in 2013, joined forces with Midnite Collective earlier this year for a two-track split with Deathkings (review here). I’ve seen them play periodically since 2012, and watched Iacovelli, Corino and drummer Will Hendrix (elsewhere for the afternoon) transition from a four-piece to a trio — former guitarist Liz Walshak now plays in Sea — and step forward as one of next-gen Boston’s fiercest heavy bands. They headed into New Alliance a couple weeks ago to start recording their first full-length, and I’d be hard pressed to imagine a better time. With the experience of their two EPs and that split behind them, as well as veteran status for the 2015 Psycho California fest, an opening spot at a Converse-sponsored show for none less than Slayer and tours both behind and ahead of them. They are nothing if not ready for their next test, which of course is the album itself.

Laughing as they listened to a playback of a song called “Serpent Cult” — not to be confused with the Belgian band of the rozamov 5 (Photo by JJ Koczan)same name — Iacovelli laughed as he pointed out that all their releases so far have had four songs, and the difference this time was that four songs topped 40 minutes. “Serpent Cult” did seem immediately expansive, and the layers of clean vocals he added while I was there — Corino likened them to a harmonized Electric WizardTaft to melody-rich locals The Proselyte — did much to make it all the more so. I wouldn’t cheapen their past output by calling it their most complex work before experiencing a finished product, but the ambition was plain to hear. And coming through the New Alliance monitors, even the unmixed crawl of a cut that had the working title “Super Doom” lived up to its name. Jokes were tossed back and forth through the microphone connecting the control room and the recording space, and Taft and the band (and I as well, obviously, though one tries to keep one’s opinion-expressing to a minimum in those instances) listened through each line to make sure it was where they wanted it to be before moving forward.

And it says something about the work Rozamov have put in up to this point that theyrozamov 4 (Photo by JJ Koczan) have such a grip on what they want to do sonically and that they seemed so comfortable in directing the material. The bulk of the recording was done and would be finished before long. They were still working out lyrics — I think it was “Super Doom” that still needed a line — but there was plenty to do while they worked to nail down the finishing touches, and though the original plan had been to start mixing immediately, already more than half the day was gone and lunch had yet to be consumed, so the conversation quickly turned to pressing matters: sushi, Thai, Indian, etc.

I’d eaten before I got there, so thought it better to excuse myself rather than double-up, but I was grateful for the slice of new Rozamov that I got to hear and I always feel like you never really know a band until you see them work in the studio — laughing through, “That was bad. Do it again,” and so on — so I’ll look forward to the arrival of their debut even more now having been fortunate enough to swing through while it was coming together. As to when that arrival might happen? Between the inevitable pressing delay, label scheduling and whatever else, I wouldn’t think it would show up before 2016, but you never know. Either way, I’ll let you know when I hear more.

Rozamov & Deathkings, Split (2015)

Rozamov on Thee Facebooks

Rozamov on Bandcamp

Midnite Collective

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GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win Refugeeum by Black Space Riders

Posted in Features on August 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Black Space Riders official 2015

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: I’m very sorry but winners have been picked and this giveaway has ended. The post will remain live for archival purposes. Many thanks to all who entered for being a part of it.]

Going out the door today are TWO copies of Black Space Riders‘ fourth album, Refugeeum. Released at the end of last month, the CD features the latest round of exploits from the deeply adventurous German outfit, who depart the spacey thematics of their prior work for more earthbound fare, of course retaining their progressive edge all the while. It’s a difficult one to know what to expect if you haven’t heard their prior outings — or, for that matter, if you have — but the full stream of the record is below if you’d like to get a sample ahead of time, though what you have to lose either way is beyond me.

As opposed to what you have to win, which is a free CD sent to you, no strings attached. So please, enter by leaving a comment on this post. Make sure your email is in the comment form and I’ll get in touch if you’ve won. Good luck and my thanks to all who enter!

Album info and stream follow:

black space riders refugeeum

The new, fourth album by BLACK SPACE RIDERS is here … and it’s called Refugeeum! Refugeeum, as in “refugees” as well as in “refuge.” Deeply moved by what is currently happening on this planet, the band has left its orbital wanderings at least thematically and turned instead to an earthly, eternal issue. The whole album is pervaded by a sublime and uplifting atmosphere that oscillates between dreamy and gripping, sadness and hope, longing and pursuit. The songs are complex, yet catchy, and continue to resonate for a long time after listening.

Lead singers JE and SEB work in harmony in expression, feeling and versatility. The guitars dare to even greater openness and clarity. In every song, there are exciting, and at the same time often unexpected, grooves, a rich bass foundation, and a drumming that develops and drives the song. The band has expanded its original fat riff and space cosmos to encompass anthemic and melodic lead guitars. It integrates playful beats, and trip-hop, dub, and New Wave elements. This makes Refugeeum exciting and varied. An album that’s like a journey. Varied and yet fluent, a unified whole. An album that also takes a stance. Refugeeum sounds great, has something to say, is moving, and also great to listen to!

Black Space Riders, Refugeeum (2015)

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: I’m very sorry but winners have been picked and this giveaway has ended. The post will remain live for archival purposes. Many thanks to all who entered for being a part of it.]

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders on Bandcamp

Black Space Riders website

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GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win Three-Day Passes to North West Hesh Fest

Posted in Features on July 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

[HOW TO ENTER: I’m very sorry but a winner has been picked and this giveaway has ended. The post will remain live for archival purposes. Much thanks to all who entered for being a part of it.]

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be added to the list of sponsors for American Icon Records‘ upcoming North West Hesh Fest in Portland, Oregon, next month. One of the cool things you can do when you’re sponsoring something like a fest is say, “Hey, how about a ticket giveaway?” and not get laughed at. So here we are.

So, enter by leaving a comment on this post — as per usual for giveaways around here — and if you win, I’ll drop you an email. Obviously, the fest being three days next month in Portland, OR, it doesn’t make much sense for anyone either not in or unable to be in the area when it’s happening to enter. If you want to travel, that rules, but neither I nor the fest can really cover your expenses for that. The giveaway is for the passes only.

That said, good luck to all who enter. Weedeater has had to drop off the bill, but American Icon has something in the works for a replacement, and I wouldn’t put it past them to bring in somebody badass. Whoever it is, you can’t beat the price when the price is free.

Info and ticket links follow:

northwest hesh fest

AMERICAN ICON RECORDS***NORTH WEST HESH FEST—-PENTAGRAM-DEAD MOON-YOB-SWEAT LODGE-SCHOOL OF ROCK-FIREBALLS OF FREEDOM-P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.

Dante’s
350 West Burnside, Portland, Oregon 97209

Thursday Aug 27 $25 Pre/ $30 Dos
PENTAGRAM

Friday Aug 28 – $25 Pre/$30 Dos
DEAD MOON-FIREBALLS OF FREEDOM
P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S-THE LAST DANCERS-DRC3

Saturday Aug 29-$20 Pre/ $25 Dos
YOB-TBA-SWEAT LODGE -DIESTO
SCHOOL OF ROCK-DJ NATHAN CARSON

http://clients.ticketbiscuit.com/DantesLive/EventPage.aspx?EID=244489 – PENTAGRAM – HESH FEST DAY 1

http://clients.ticketbiscuit.com/DantesLive/EventPage.aspx?EID=238976 – DEAD MOON-HESH FEST DAY 2

http://clients.ticketbiscuit.com/DantesLive/EventPage.aspx?EID=241982 – YOB-HESH FEST DAY 3

https://www.facebook.com/events/299451473578318/
https://www.facebook.com/NorthWestHeshFest
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanIconRecords
http://americaniconrecords.bigcartel.com

[HOW TO ENTER: I’m very sorry but a winner has been picked and this giveaway has ended. The post will remain live for archival purposes. Much thanks to all who entered for being a part of it.]

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San Francisco Trip, Pt. 3: The Calling

Posted in Buried Treasure, Features on July 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

aquarius records

07.15.15 — 10:10PM Pacific — Wed. night — Hotel California (yes, really)

It occurred to me this evening that I’ve had about two and a half hours of “free time” on this trip and I’ve spent it all record shopping. That’s not a complaint, but I’ve had people offer to meet up and stuff and I haven’t quite had the time I anticipated for such things between work obligations and writing at night. Again, I’m not complaining. I’ve worked for a company for less than two months that’s willing to fly my ass quite literally across a continent and trust me to represent them to the best of my admittedly limited ability at a meeting of potential clients and professional cohorts. I’m remarkably fortunate to be here. I’m also very, very tired.

Still, when it came to it, and I had that little bit of time to spare today, I jumped in the first cab that I saw with its light on and told the dude to make for Aquarius Records. It was payday and I had an itch that only another round of record shopping was going to scratch. I probably could have gone back to Amoeba Music and found more stuff in that giant space, but the smaller, curated vibe of Aquarius was just my speed this evening.

I took my time, thumbed through the CD racks of the San Francisco section, the rock/pop, the metal sections both new and used, eyed up some stuff in the boxes under the used section — two albums by Mammoth Volume there, but I have them already — and reminded myself that between yesterday and today, this has kind of become my celebration of returning to the working world, so yeah, I splurged a bit. I picked up a thing or two that on some other days I might have let go, decided to let it ride and be what it is. The fact that it was also payday might have been a factor. That’s a question for hindsight and I don’t have the proper distance to evaluate.

The haul? Here it is, once more alphabetically:

Aarni, Bathos
Across Tundras, Old World Wanderer
Bedemon, Child of Darkness
Carlton Melton, Out to Sea
Children of Doom, Ride over the Green Valley
Elder, Spires Burn/Release
Elder, Lore
Evil Acidhead, In the Name of all that is Unholy
Holy Serpent, Holy Serpent
Pyramido, Sand
Pyramido, Saga
Slough Feg, Made in Poland
The Warlocks, The Warlocks
White Hills, So You Are… so You’ll Be

aqurius records haulOnce again, all CDs. I know it’s not as cool as vinyl, but fuck it. If any of you vinyl hounds want to sell me your CD collection, let me know. I’ll buy that shit. I’ll be the last dude on earth buying CDs for all I care. Whatever. They’re still making them for the most part, so yeah, I’ll still buy them.

The find of the bunch is probably that self-titled EP by The Warlocks, which came out in 2000 on Bomp! Records and was their debut. It was used and cheap, so that was cool. Two of the bunch I already own, but the Across Tundras was also about $5 and the Bedemon is the newer Relapse Records version, so I figured what the hell. True, I was here last year and stopped by the shop when I was out on tour with the Kings Destroy guys — SF resident Jim Pitts included, while I’m thinking of good people I haven’t had the chance to see — but it’s not something I do every day. I pick up things here and there, mostly online at this point, so to actually be in a store and have the chance to browse and enjoy the process, I wanted to do precisely that.

I know Carlton Melton are local to NorCal, so I grabbed that seeing it on the counter by the register, and Evil Acidhead was one of the staff recommendations — if you ever go to Aquarius Records, pay attention; these people know what they’re talking about — and since I knew it’s a reissue of old recordings by John McBain (Monster Magnet, Wellwater Conspiracy) it seemed like one to grab. Both of those Elder discs I have on vinyl, but I wanted the CDs, and while it would make the most sense to go to Armageddon Shop one of the apparently multiple times of a week I drive past Providence on I-95 and pick them up there, I haven’t actually managed to make that happen. Seeing an opportunity, I took it.

Slough Feg‘s 2011 live record, Made in Poland, was used, so that was a no-brainer, and I ran into both Pyramido albums — their first, Sand, used and a buck, their third, 2013’s Saga, new — on opposite sides of the store and picked them up almost independently of each other, hesitating but ultimately nabbing the recently-reviewed self-titled from Holy Serpent because, fuck it, it’s a RidingEasy release and I don’t see that every day in a store. The White Hills was used and I grabbed it thinking of their set at Roadburn this year and how underappreciated they are generally — not that my buying a disc makes up for that, but you know what I mean.

Two purchases I went into completely blind: the Aarni and Children of Doom. Aarni is a one-man Finnish outfit for whom Bathos served as a debut full-length in 2004, and knowing nothing about it, I saw the cover was all mushrooms and that it was on the Firedoom Music label — actually it’s the first release on the label; catalog number FDOOM001 — so I assumed I would be getting something Finnish, strange and doomed, and sure enough that’s how it’s played out so far. French trio Children of Doom‘s self-released 2009 debut EP, Ride over the Green Valley, won me over both for its cover art and for the written-out description of the album, which rightly compared its tones to namesake act Saint Vitus. I hear a bit of Ice Dragon‘s swaggering fuckall in there as well. No complaints. The band’s debut LP, Doom, Be Doomed, ör Fuck Off, came out in 2011, but if Aquarius had it, it wasn’t in my line of sight.

Back to the hotel after to start writing and get my head around the day. I ate the same thing I had for dinner last night — flautas from the taqueria across the street — while checking email to try and keep up on that. As one might expect, it didn’t really work. Still, at least if I have to be behind on absolutely everything, at least I managed to pick up some good records in the process.

I fly out tomorrow night late on a redeye to Boston that gets in Friday morning. The only way to travel. Maybe it’ll also be five hours delayed and turn into a morning flight. Haven’t slept at an airport in a while anyway.

Children of Doom, “Hangover”

Aquarius Records website

Aquarius Records on Thee Facebooks

Aquarius Records on Twitter

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San Francisco Trip, Pt 2: Cobras and Fire

Posted in Buried Treasure, Features on July 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

amoeba music san francisco storefront

When in Rome, you do as the Romans. When in Cali, you get your ass to Amoeba Music. An Amoeba haul is a special thing. It had been five years — half a decade! — since the last time I set foot in Amoeba‘s San Francisco store, right on Haight Street, more or less the birthplace of American counterculture, or at very least where it moved to from the Midwest because it was okay to be weird there. It is a shop we must remember we are fortunate to still have in existence. Places like Sound Garden in Baltimore, Vintage Vinyl in my beloved Garden State, and the three Amoebas in San Fran, Berkeley and L.A. are treasures. Landmarks. Their preservation may not be government-sanctioned, but they’re no less essential as living monuments of our age.

I’d gotten in after two in the morning. My flight from Boston to SFO was delayed… by five and a half hours. Something about a flat tire on the plane that then wound up requiring an entirely different aircraft altogether. Oh, we sat, and sat. Supposed to be a 5PM flight, took off just after 10:30. What a shitter, but at least it took off at all. I slept about 20 minutes on the plane — remember, with the time zone shift, a 2AM West Coast arrival is still 5AM to my very red East Coast eyes — and then crashed at the hotel, woke up this morning and spent the bulk of they day shaking hands at the convention that brought me out here, trading business cards and the like. All the while, lurking at the back of my mind was Amoeba Music, its call resonating like a dogwhistle nobody else around me could hear. I could’ve cried when I got out of the cab and it was there, just like I remembered.

Seems likely there was more vinyl around than five years ago, though I wouldn’t commit to that 100 percent, not really remembering one way or the other, but in any case, I still found plenty in the CD racks; the notion of traveling with LPs, the general expenditure and desire to actually listen to the music keeping me to the more compressed format, and no regrets. Here’s what I grabbed, alphabetically:

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Black Rainbows, Carmina Diablo
Electric Wizard, Time to Die
Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh
Monolord, Vaenir
Parliament, Motor Booty Affair
Stoneburner, Caged in Flesh
SubRosa, More Constant than the Gods
Swans, To be Kind
Tekhton, Alluvial
Wino & Conny Ochs, Latitudes
Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

amoeba haulOf those, it turns out the Black Rainbows was a double. I suspected as much, but I spotted it at the front of the clearance section and it was a dollar, so I figured even if I had it, another wouldn’t hurt. Getting stuff like the Acid King and Monolord was nigh on mandatory, the former because it’s San Francisco and that album is incredible and the latter because it’s a RidingEasy Records release and while I’m pretty sure that label is headquartered south of here, you don’t find that stuff every day on the Eastern Seaboard.

Conversely, I was looking for a bunch of stuff from Tee PeeMirror Queen, The Atomic Bitchwax, Death Alley — that was seemingly nowhere to be found, and I wondered if geographic distance between myself and the NY-based label didn’t have something to do with it. The rule is you take what you can get, and I was happy to do that. The Horsehunter was also absurdly cheap, I’m not really sure why. Between that and the Black Rainbows, it was much easier to justify paying upwards of $14 for new discs and $20 for the Labour of Love Latitudes session from Wino & Conny Ochs. I was on the phone griping to The Patient Mrs. as I walked around the store that somehow even though compact discs are “out of fashion” prices haven’t come down on them and she reminded me to think of it as a premium for being in a place so awesome. She was, of course, 100 percent right. Issue resolved.

Parliament‘s Motor Booty Affair to feed my continued funk addiction, and Stoneburner mostly because it was there, it’s Neurot and I don’t already have it. The Swans is the three-disc special edition of last year’s To be Kind (review here) that also comes with a live DVD as a bonus. Can’t imagine I’ll ever watch the thing, but it’s nice to have. Speaking of stuff I won’t actually put on, I know for a fact I haven’t listened to the Electric Wizard since I reviewed it (the promo was digital), but I heard something about them having a spat with Spinefarm over money or some such and that the album was subsequently out of print, so I figured better now than five years from now on eBay or Amazon. It will likely stay wrapped, but at least it’ll be in the library.

It’s been six years and I still recall enjoying Tekhton‘s first album, Summon the Core (review here), so to find a copy of the 2009 follow-up to that 2007 debut was cool enough to drive me toward the purchase, and Wovenhand are Wovenhand, which is all the justification that one needs. Speaking of bands who played Roadburn this year, as Wovenhand did, I nabbed 2013’s More Constant than the Gods by SubRosa mostly because I missed them at that festival and they’ve continued to haunt me ever since. I’m not sure if playing the record or having paid for it — like a church bribe — will exorcise that demon, but it seemed worth a shot. I’m sure I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow is more work stuff, starting bright and early and ending less-bright and late. I may or may not make it to Aquarius Records, as had been my hope, but if this turns out to be all the shopping I get to do on this trip, I can’t really complain. And of course, if you’re in SF, get your ass to Amoeba Music.

SubRosa, More Constant than the Gods (2013)

Amoeba Music

Amoeba San Francisco on Thee Facebooks

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