The Electric Highway Announces Inaugural Lineup with Wo Fat, Sasquatch, Nebula & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

A little bit of Cali, a little bit of Texas, a little bit of Portland, Oregon, and a whole lot of locals — the first lineup for The Electric Highway has been unveiled and the Calgary-based festival’s mission would seem to be directed toward kickass heavy and stoner rock. Thus, Sasquatch and Wo Fat headlining with Nebula and Duel also on board. And hey man, if you threw any kind of heavy rock and roll party in the entire nation of Canada — and Canada if frickin’ huge — and you didn’t at least invite La Chinga let alone actually have them play, your ass would just be negligent. That’s a band that’s never gonna do anything but make a strong rock bill stronger.

Calling this the inaugural The Electric Highway is fair enough, since it seems to be working under its own concept — pinball tournament! — but it formerly operated under the banner of the 420 Music and Arts Festival, and had a few years to its credit in that form. Still, a new name is a new name, so alright. Maybe “inaugural” with an asterisk. “Inaugural-ish.”

The PR wire has details. The fest has a hashtag that’s probably good advice anyway:

the electric highway poster

All Roads Lead To The Electric Highway Festival In Calgary, AB, Canada!

#BuckleUp baby, The Electric Highway is excited to announce our inaugural lineup! We wanted to put something special together for our first trip on the Highway and with over 20 bands in two daze, we think we have done exactly that…

Day One, Friday, April 17th Wo Fat from Dallas, Texas will be returning with their brand of Psychedelic Heavy Blues to headline night one, and we are flying in their bro’s in DUEL to share the stage with them that night too! Also laying waste to Friday night are BC’s Buzzard & CHUNKASAURUS, coming all the way from Portland, Oregon we have Hippie Death Cult & LáGoon, joining us from Montreal is PINK COCOON, and representing our amazing local scene will be Father Moon, Locutus, Row of Giants and The WORST.

Then on Day Two, Saturday, April 18th bringing the fuzz from California, we are STOKED AF to welcome back the mighty Sasquatch to headline our whole party and are psyched to have their buds Nebula along for the ride! As for the rest of Saturday, it just wouldn’t be a party without Vancouver’s La Chinga on the bill, along with local faves Gone Cosmic, Bazaraba, and Shadow Weaver from Calgary, Crossfield, Alberta’s Set & Stoned, Hemptress from Kamloops, BC, The Sleeping Legion from Winnipeg and rounding out our first lineup, from Saskatoon, The Basement Paintings.

The Electric Highway is taking place at the Royal Canadian Legion #1 in downtown Calgary, AB, Canada on April 17 & 18, 2020. Tickets go on sale at 10am MDT on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at https://theelectrichighway.ecwid.com/.

The Electric Highway Official Lineup:
Sasquatch (Los Angeles, CA)
Wo Fat (Dallas, TX)
Nebula (Los Angeles, CA)
Duel (Austin, TX)
La Chinga (Vancouver, BC)
Gone Cosmic (Calgary, AB)
Hippie Death Cult (Portland, OR)
LáGoon (Portland, OR)
Buzzard (Victoria, BC)
Chunkasaurus (Victoria, BC)
Bazaraba (Calgary, AB)
Shadow Weaver (Calgary, AB)
Father Moon (Calgary, AB)
Set & Stoned (Crossfield, AB)
Row of Giants (Calgary, AB)
Hemptress (Kamloops, BC)
Pink Cocoon (Montreal, QC)
The Sleeping Legion (Winnipeg, MB)
The Basement Paintings (Saskatoon, SK)
Locutus (Calgary, AB)
The Worst (Calgary, AB)

The Electric Highway 2020 —> www.facebook.com/events/1346173098884903/
The Electric Highway Kickoff Party—> www.facebook.com/events/809469542830729/
The Electric Highway Pinball Tournament —> www.facebook.com/events/2408742202725992/
The Electric Highway Arts Expo & Market —> www.facebook.com/events/476224713238363/

#BuckleUp

“All Roads Lead to the Electric Highway”

www.facebook.com/ElectricHighwayFestival/
www.instagram.com/TheElectricHighway
www.TheElectricHighway.ca

Sasquatch, Live at Ace of Cups, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 8, 2019

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Woodhawk Premiere “Heartstopper” from Violent Nature

Posted in audiObelisk on October 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

woodhawk

Calgary heavy rockers Woodhawk will release their second full-length, Violent Nature, on Nov. 1. Like their 2017 debut, Beyond the Sun (review here), it’s a self-release, and also like their 2017 debut, it’s rife with maddeningly catchy tracks of high-grade straightforward, weighted riffing and rhythmic drive. “Snake in the Grass,” the previously-posted single “Weightless Light” and “Dry Blood” in the opening salvo set the tone for what follows as a showcase of material that feels crafted to the point of having chiseled away the frills, extras and inefficiencies to get to the essential core of what matters most in terms of the songs themselves. At 44 minutes and nine tracks, the new collection is somewhat longer than its predecessor, but as guitarist/vocalist Turner Midzain, bassist/vocalist Mike Madmington and drummer Kevin Nelson return to the studio with Jesse Gander at the helm of the recording and mix (Alan Douches mastered), there’s a sonic consistency between those two outings.

That stands up even as Woodhawk refine their methods toward conveying an emotional undercurrent most especially in songs like the organ-laced “Old Silence” and “Clear the Air” — Gander played keys on the debut and one assumes does here as well — and the later finale duo “As a Friend” and “Our Greatest Weakness,” both of which confront loss and issues of mental health, depression, etc., in a way no less honest and upfront lyrically than the accompanying riffs are musically. The chuggy “Heartstopper” and mid-paced winding groove of the title-track do much to bolster the emotional confrontationalism happening in the songs surrounding, and even as the latter veers into mellow Truckfighters-style bass-and-vocals spaciousness in its second half, there’s a strong sense of sonic purpose to everything Woodhawk do. Violent Nature is very much a gathering of individual pieces, but they’re smoothly arranged with a flow in mind, and the sharpened corners of the song structures only seem to increase the overall impact made.

Quiet moments like the beginning stretch of “Our Greatest Weakness” — not to spoil it, but our greatest weakness is love — and the build across the first half of “Clear the Air” offset some of Violent Nature‘s more frenetic moments, like the shredding solo in “Heartstopper” or the initial barrage of hooks at the record’s outset, but Woodhawk‘s priority is without a doubt conveying a strong sense of songwriting. This is not a band who put together an album while pretending to do something else, like, “Oh yeah, we’ll just write some songs and see what happens.” No. Woodhawk‘s tracks are too clear and firm in their intent for such things, and further, for the kind of heavy rock they play — modern, informed by traditions of more commercial fare but not beholden to them in style — they make ideas like that seem silly. If a band could write songs like this and make an album of them, why the hell would they do anything else?

The underlying implication there is that not every band can write songs like this, and that’s true as well, let alone carry them across with genuine-feeling emotion as Woodhawk do here. That is, with material so structured and so obviously worked through and hammered out, the risk the band might run is to dull the heart behind them, but with upfront lyrics and dynamic performance, the trio and Gander are able to find a sweet spot between professionalism and expression that serves the material first on all levels. As they mark five years since the arrival of their self-titled debut EP — released Halloween 2014 — Violent Nature not only reaffirms the idea that they’ve known what they’re doing all along, but makes it no less plain to hear that they’ve found a way to grow and progress, and indeed get tighter, as they move forward from one offering to the next. What that might mean for them going forward, I wouldn’t guess as to specifics of theme or anything like that, but in terms of a foundation, one couldn’t ask for ground much more solid than that which Woodhawk are building on throughout Violent Nature. It’s no less method than madness.

Woodhawk have a new beer coming out in collaboration with New Level Brewing, and they’ll play a release show for that the night after Violent Nature arrives on Nov. 1. It’s one of several dates lined up for this Fall that you can see under the premiere of “Heartstopper” below, which is also followed immediately by some background on the track courtesy of Midzain.

Please enjoy:

Woodhawk, “Heartstopper” official track premiere

Turner Midzain on “Heartstopper”:

“Heartstopper was the first song we wrote for the album, and was definitely reworked more than anything else on the record. Usually we scrap the first few we write until we find our groove. But this one just stuck. It tells the tale of how I have friends who live in completely different worlds and live totally different lives. One on side, I have this friend who has faced every major health complication someone their age should ever have faced and perceived. But still has the most positive outlook on life. On the other side, the friends who abuse substances and cheat death to the closest point and have no true appreciation for their own life. The juxtaposition in this situation just kind of hit home with all of us.”

Heartstopper off the forthcoming album, Violent Nature 2019.

Written and Performed by Woodhawk
Recorded by Jesse Gander
Mixed by Jesse Gander
Mastered by Alan Douches
Art by Mark Kowalchuck
Animation by Felix von Liska

New album ‘Violent Nature’ out everywhere Nov/1/2019

Woodhawk live:
Oct 25- Vancouver, BC – Railway Club
Oct 26 – Kamloops, BC – Pogue Mahones
Nov 2 – Beer Launch Party – New Level Brewing in Calgary
(New Level Brewing and Woodhawk have teamed up to make a Violent Nature Beer! Come down to New Level Brewing, for the beer launch. Woodhawk will be down there all day spinning records, selling merch and drinking the fine nectars they’ve created with New Level Brewing.)
Nov 8 – Calgary, AB – Palomino (Album Release Show)
Nov 9 – Edmonton, AB – Temple w/ The Wild!

WOODHAWK:
Turner Midzain – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Badmington – Bass, Vocals
Kevin Nelson – Drums

Woodhawk website

Woodhawk on Thee Facebooks

Woodhawk on Instagram

Woodhawk on Bandcamp

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Woodhawk to Release Violent Nature Nov. 1; Stream “Weightless Light”

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

woodhawk

A change in approach to the lyrics to real-world concerns rather than real-world-concerns-presented-as-stories-about-monsters adds a level of intrigue to their new album, Violent Nature, and I’ll be interested to hear how that plays out across the full-length when/if I get the chance to hear it — I’d hope to, but one never knows. I dug their 2017 debut LP, Beyond the Sun (review here), as well, and going by the lead single “Weightless Light” it seems like whatever they’re making the songs about, Woodhawk still bring the same sense of songcraft to their material, which is always good to know. They’ve got preorders up for the sophomore outing, and you can stream the track below. You know the deal, so go to it.

Cool art too:

woodhawk violent nature

WOODHAWK: Calgarian Riffs of Prey Return with VIOLENT NATURE | Stream New Single and Album Pre-order

Violent Nature by Woodhawk is released 1st November 2019

Hailing from the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Woodhawk are undeniable masters of riff rock, harnessing the classic influences of Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy with smooth grooves, cranked-up amps, and hard-hitting drums that coalesce into impressive soundscapes. With lyrical themes that span the imagination and incorporate elements of science fiction, mythicism and the more contemporary struggles of modern times, Woodhawk proudly wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Formed in 2014, following the release of their self-titled EP, the band returned with the critically acclaimed full length Beyond the Sun in 2017. A melodically rich and varied album, steeped in sci-fi vibes catchy riffs, Beyond the Sun cemented Woodhawk’s status as a desert rock band with the kind of potential to power from terrafirma into the great beyond.

Returning to Rain City Recorders in Vancouver earlier this year, Woodhawk worked with Jesse Gander? (ANCIIENTS?, BISON?, 3 Inches of Blood?, JAPANDROIDS?) to record their sophomore album Violent Nature, which is due for official release this November. Over the course of two weeks, Woodhawk tracked their strongest effort yet, producing songs that addressed the struggles of mental health on new material that abandoned the world of fantasy in pursuit of emotional authenticity and self-discovery. Grounded with one foot in the present and another in the future, Woodhawk’s outlook is as boundless as their command of the genre.

Violent Nature by Woodhawk is released 1st November 2019 and can be pre-ordered here – https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com

TRACK LISTING:
1. Snake in The Grass
2. Weightless Light
3. Dry Blood
4. Heartstopper
5. Old Silence
6. Clear the Air
7. Violent Nature
8. As A Friend
9. Our Greatest Weakness

WOODHAWK:
Turner Midzain – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Badmington – Bass, Vocals
Kevin Nelson – Drums

http://woodhawkriffs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WoodhawkRiffs/
https://www.instagram.com/woodhawkriffs/
https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com

Woodhawk, “Weightless Light”

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Premiere: Chron Goblin & Isaak Stream Split Tape in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on September 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

chron goblin

isaak

Today, Sept. 6, marks the arrival of the new split tape from Canadian and Italian outfits Chron Goblin and Isaak. Issued name-your-price through Spikerot Records in a soon-to-be-gone limited edition of only 100 tapes, the offering features one track from each band, each representing something different from them. To wit, Chron Goblin are about to put out their fourth album, Here Before (track premiere here), on Sept. 27 through Grand Hand Records. Isaak, meanwhile, were last heard from with 2015’s Sermonize (review here) on Heavy Psych Sounds. The Chron Goblin track, “Signs,” however, was recorded in 2015 at the same session as their third album, Backwater (review here). The Isaak song, “Taste,” was tracked at the end of last year. So the split arises from some pretty complex circumstances. For one band, it represents a chance to showcase something older as they move onto something newer, and for the other, it marks a return after a few years’ absence from the studio, a kind of refresher for their audience and a reminder of what they do as a group. It’s a fair amount of context to pack into an eight-minute release.

Fortunately, in listening to “Signs” and “Taste,” there’s plenty to dig into for those who’d otherwise, you know, just want to listen to some previously unheard material. Chron Goblin begin with a bit of amp noise and are all-go, soon enough launching into a Roadsaw-style verse that careens through a gang-shout hook en route to a winding slowdown and bluesy solo in thechron goblin isaak split second half. The key moment is when everything but the bass drops out and the nod takes full shape before dropping out to complete the efficient 4:25. Done. Flip tape. Chron Goblin are in and out of “Signs” with an assurance of songwriting that leaves little to wonder why they’d dig up the track four years after the fact and still find it relevant enough to release: because quality songcraft is always relevant.

Isaak‘s answer back in “Taste” by building up over the first minute-plus to finally unleashing a forceful pummel of a riff met with likewise burly vocals. They’ve never wanted for brashness, and “Taste” is no exception to this as the low-end takes central position tonally and they cycle through the verse again as though coming back out of the corner for round two. The tension they manifest turns in the third minute to a more straightforward pop of snare and seems to run a little more forward rather than circular, but the let’s-kick-ass-and-worry-about-the-rest-later vibe remains consistent. They too finish clean. Surprisingly so for having seemed to throw so much sonic mud around, but maybe after a few years it’s just a sense of relief to be back with new material at all. I won’t speculate as to what their plans are without knowing, but Isaak certainly sound like they still have plenty more to say, as they did on their last record too.

And for Chron Goblin, there’s already the advantage of knowing the direction they’d take after recording “Signs,” so yeah, it’s a bit of a different situation from one band to the other, but the bottom line is it’s two tracks of hard-edged heavy rock and roll marked out by zero pretense and an efficient delivery, pressed up to a limited tape that will likely sell out before it even lands on the merch table, so yeah, there’s really no way to lose here. Bonus to anyone who listens to the stream on a Walkman.

Credits follow. Enjoy the tracks:

Link to the store here:
http://bit.ly/ChronGoblin_Isaak

Chron Goblin – Signs
Recorded and mixed by Adam Pike at Toadhouse Studios in Portland, OR in February, 2015
Mastered by Stephan Hawkes at Interlace Audio

Chron Goblin are:
Josh Sandulak
Devin Purdy
Richard Hepp
Brett Whittingham

Isaak – Taste
Recorded and Mixed by Mattia Cominotto at Greenfog Studio in Genoa in December 2018
Mastered by Andrea De Bernardi at Eleven Mastering

Isaak are:
Giacomo Boeddu
Francesco Raimondi
Davide Foccis
Gabriele Carta

Chron Goblin on Thee Facebooks

Chron Goblin on Instagram

Chron Goblin on Bandcamp

Isaak on Thee Facebooks

Isaak on Instagram

Isaak on Bandcamp

Spikerot Records on Thee Facebooks

Spikerot Records on Instagram

Spikerot Records website

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Chron Goblin & Isaak to Release Split Tape this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So Isaak haven’t released anything since 2015’s Sermonize (review here) and Chron Goblin are putting out their new record, Here Before (discussed here) at the end of September. Isaak are in Italy. Chron Goblin in Canada. These seem like two bands in very different situations, and yet this week they’ll team up for a cassette split that’s also the first tape ever to come out through Spikerot Records. You know what? I’d check that out. I like a tape, I like a split, and I’d like to know how these two bands got hooked up in the first place, so yeah, I’ll give this one a listen when the time comes. Why the hell not? Do the circumstances even matter? Of course not. The riffs matter.

Release is coming up quick, so keep an eye out for it. I’ll also be interested to see if it leads to more from Isaak anytime soon, as their last outing was a banger.

Here’s Spikerot‘s post about the tape:

chron goblin isaak

Chron Goblin Vs Isaak. Split Tape through Spikerot Records

Spikerot has been all about Vinyls and CDs so far, but cassettes have dignity too, so why not?

We’re proud to be releasing our first tape ever under the banner of international Stoner Rock with two previously unreleased tracks from Canadian boogie facepunchers Chron Goblin and Italian riffalicious gang Isaak. Those who know each band’s signature sound will not be disappointed, both tracks are sheer energy, pairing melody with groove and distortion for a fresh interpretation of heavy music.

RELEASE DATE: September 6th

TRACKLIST
SIDE A: Chron Goblin – Signs
SIDE B: Isaak – Taste

Artwork by SoloMacello

Chron Goblin are:
Vocals: Josh Sandulak
Guitar: Devin ‘Darty’ Purdy
Bass: Richard Hepp
Drums: Brett Whittingham

Isaak are:
Vocals – Giacomo H Boeddu
Bass – Gabriele Carta
Drums/Vocals – Davide Fox Foccis
Guitars – Francesco Raimondi

https://www.facebook.com/ChronGoblin/
https://www.instagram.com/chrongoblin/
https://chrongoblin.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/isaakband
https://www.instagram.com/isaakmusic/
https://isaakmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/spikerotrecords/
https://www.instagram.com/spikerotrecords/
www.spikerot.com

Chron Goblin, Here Before (2019)

Isaak, Sermonize (2015)

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Chron Goblin Premiere “Slipping Under”; Here Before Due Sept. 27; Touring in October

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

chron goblin

Although Chron Goblin ultimately keep the foundation of classically structured songwriting that has served them well up to this point, there’s no question the mood has shifted somewhat on the Calgary natives’ fourth full-length, Here Before, for which preorders begin Aug. 27. It’ll be out a month later — Sept. 27 — through Grand Hand Records, and while there’s no doubt the four-piece are still having a good time, there’s a little bit of a darker edge to the proceedings that shows up as well in the Here Before cover art, which is way closer to Stranger Things than the stonerly hand-drawing of a nonetheless haunted mountain town that adorned 2015’s Backwater (review here). The 11-tracker digs into some of the most atmospheric work they’ve ever done in songs like “Ghost,” “Giant” and “Slipping Under,” which isn’t to mention the ambience bookending the album in intro “Aurora” and outro “Afterglow,” but even “Giving in to Fun” seems to hold some measure of aggression.

You can hear the premiere of “Slipping Under” at the bottom of this post, and drummer Brett Whittingham offered some comment on the track to coincide with the unveiling of it and the album art and details, as well as tour dates for after the release.

Enjoy:

chron goblin here before

Brett Whittingham on “Slipping Under”:

Slipping Under is one of the more complex arrangements on the album. It starts off with a dark n’ dreamy clean intro, experimenting with some electronic drums and a leslie speaker for the guitar , before it kicks into the heavy bridge and on to the tight n’ groovy verses. The pre-solo section also includes more experimentation with the inclusion of some dirty 808 drops, something we haven’t tried before! This song is a blast to play live with its multitude of changes and dynamics. Mike Fraser mixed this song, along with Ghost, and his take on both tracks added a nice depth and diversity to the album as a whole.

Album Title: Here Before
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Preorders: August 27, 2019
Label: Grand Hand Records

Recorded in July 2018 at Juno Award Winning OCL Studios, ‘Here Before’ is the fourth full-length album from Chron Goblin and will be released and distributed by Grand Hand Records. Produced, recorded and mixed by Josh Rob Gwilliam (Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Ghosts of Modern Man), Here Before demonstrates a new maturity in songwriting and production for the band. From the propulsive singles of ‘Slipping Under’ and ‘Ghost’; mixed by Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Metallica, Corrosion of Conformity), to the hypnotic riffs of ‘Oblivion’ – Chron Goblin has created an intoxicating collection of rock n’ roll.

Track Listing:
1. Aurora (0:22)
2. Oblivion (4:16)
3. Giving In To Fun (3:37)
4. Out Of My Mind (3:49)
5. Ghost (6:04)
6. War (3:51)
7. Giant (4:40)
8. Slipping Under (4:43)
9. Little Too Late (4:46)
10. Waiting (3:53)
11. Afterglow (1:52)
Album Length: 41:57

Chron Goblin live:
October 10 – Lethbridge – Owl Acoustic Lounge
October 11 – Calgary – The Palomino Smokehouse
October 12 – Regina – The German Club
October 13 – Winnipeg – The Handsome Daughter
October 15 – Sudbury – The Asylum
October 16 – Ottawa – House of Targ
October 17 – Montreal – Turbo Haus
October 18 – Toronto – Hard Luck
October 19 – Windsor – Dominion House
October 25 – Edmonton – Temple

Album Band and Live Line Up: Josh Sandulak (vocals), Brett Whittingham (drums), Richard Hepp (bass), Devin ‘Darty’ Purdy (guitar)

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Quarterly Review: Kungens Män, PFUND, Crystal Spiders, The Misery Men, Hubris, Woorms, Melody Fields, Oreyeon, Mammoth Grove, Crimson Devils

Posted in Reviews on March 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

I used to be pretty artsy and write poetry. Let’s give it a shot:

There was an old man who wore no-toe shoes.
He said, I’mma go do 60 reviews.
He was out of his head,
Should’ve gone back to bed,
But he loves him some dirty psych blues.

Years from now, when I link back to this post for a “(review here)”-type scenario, I’m going to see that and I’ll still think it’s funny. The planet’s dying. I’d say a bit of silly is more than called for.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Kungens Män, Chef

kungens man chef

Krautrockers, assemble! Or, you know, whatever krautrockers do — I assume it involves homemade spacecraft that, yes, absolutely fly. Perhaps one of these days I’ll ask Stockholm’s Kungens Män, whose latest outing for Riot Season, simply titled Chef, is an outbound delight of psych-infused progressivism. Beginning with the opening throb of “Fyrkantig Böjelse” and moving into the volume swells, steady drum line and wandering guitar that starts “Öppen För Stängda Dörrar” on side A, its four extended tracks craft otherworldly textures through a meld of organic instrumental flow and waves of synth, the second cut building to a tense wash of distortion all the while keeping that hypnotic march. The two corresponding 10-minute-plus cuts on side B waste no time in offering cosmic boogie in “Män Med Medel” with a more active rhythmic flow, and closer “Eftertankens Blanka Krankhet” — longer than the opener by one second at 11:24 — fades in on meditative guitar and explores a serene minimalism that only underscores the all around joy of the album.

Kungens Man on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records webstore

 

PFUND, PFUND

pfund pfund

The self-titled, self-released debut full-length from Kiel, Germany’s PFUND arrives and departs with a guesting horn section, and while that inevitably adds a bit of grandeur to the proceedings, the bulk of the outing is dedicated to straightforward, semi-metallic heavy rock, held to ground even in the seven-minute “Spaceman” by a considered sense of structure and an earthy drum sound that draws the songs together, whether it’s the classic riff rock in “Sea of Life” or the moodier sway in the earlier “Lost in Rome.” Dual guitars effectively multiply the impact, and the vocals showcase a nascent sense of melody that one imagines will only continue to grow as the band moves forward. At nine songs and 44 minutes, it shows some breadth and nuance in “Exhaustion” and “Paranoia,” the former tapping into an edge of progressive metal, but the primary impact comes from PFUND‘s heft of groove and how it blends with a rawer edge to their production. The Kyuss-referencing centerpiece here might be called “Imbalance,” but that’s hardly representative of what surrounds, horns and all.

PFUND on Thee Facebooks

PFUND on Bandcamp

 

Crystal Spiders, Demo

crystal spiders demo

Three songs, 11 minutes and three distinct vibes from the aptly-titled Demo demo of North Carolinian three-piece Crystal Spiders. On “Tigerlily,” “Flamethrower” and “Devil’s Resolve,” the trio of bassist/vocalist Brenna Leath (also Lightning Born), guitarist/vocalist Mike Deloatch and drummer/backing vocalist Tradd Yancey careen from bluesy spaciousness to hard-driving catchiness and end up — because why not? — in repeating cult-sludge chants, “Come to the devil’s resolve!” like Black Widow trying to lure people to the sabbat, except shouting. If the purpose of a demo is for a new band to try different methods of working and thereby take a first step in discovering their sound, Crystal Spiders are well on their way, and for what it’s worth, there isn’t anything within their scope as they present it that doesn’t work for them. There are edges to smooth out, of course, but that too is a part of the process starting here.

Crystal Spiders on Thee Facebooks

Crystal Spiders on Bandcamp

 

The Misery Men, Deathspiration

The Misery Men Deathspiration

If you’d asked, depending on which part of Deathspiration was on, I’d probably have called The Misery Men a bass/drum duo, but nope, that’s guitar. Tonally one is reminded of At Devil Dirt from Chile, but the Portland, Oregon, two-piece of vocalist/guitarist Corey G. Lewis and drummer Steve Jones are entirely more barebones in their craft, eschewing digital involvement of any sort in the recording or mixing process and sounding duly raw as a result throughout the subtle earworm of “C.W. Sughrue” and the lumbering “Harness the Darkness.” The subsequent “Night Creeps In” brings a Northwestern noise payoff to quiet/loud trades and the near-10-minute closer “Stoned to Death,” well, it seems to meet an end befitting its title, to say the least. As their stated intent was to capture the most organic version of their sound possible, and made a point of working toward that ideal in their recording, one could hardly fault them for the results of that process. They wanted something human-sounding. They got it.

The Misery Men on Thee Facebooks

The Misery Men on Bandcamp

 

Hubris, EP #II Live

hubris ep ii live

Some — not all — of what one needs to know about HubrisEP #II Live is right there in the title. Indeed, it’s their second EP. Indeed, it was recorded live. And indeed, like using a ‘#’ sign with a Roman numeral, there’s something about the way the three included songs from the Toulouse, France-based outfit sound that’s just a little bit off-kilter from what you might expect. “Zugzwang” (7:19), “Tergo” (19:58) and “Biotilus” (27:04) are arranged shortest to longest, and while the opener starts off like Queens of the Stone Age on an Eastern-tinged psychedelic bender, the lengthy jams that follow — the first of them with a fervent drum punctuation, the second a gradual intertwining of synth and guitar with hardly any percussion at all until after its 22nd minute. The instrumental flow that ensues from there is almost like a hidden bonus track, at least until they Hubris get to minute 26 and the whole thing explodes in crash and plod. The underlying message, of course, is that if you think you’re safe at any point, you’re not.

Hubris on Thee Facebooks

Hubris on Bandcamp

 

Woorms, Slake

woorms slake

Lumbering fuckall pervades the debut full-length, Slake, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sludgers Woorms — also stylized all-caps — which incorporates past singles “Find a Meal Find a Bed Find a God” and “Mouth is a Wound” amid the sample/noise barrage of “Our Lady of Perpetually Shitfaced” and the willfully brash “Racist Kevin” that follows. There’s an edge of Melvinsian chug to the proceedings, but Woorms‘ take, though presented in finished compositions, comes across as almost nihilistic rather than making a show of its experimentalism. That is, they’re trying to say they don’t give a fuck, and in listening, they make it kind of easy to believe, but there’s still something about the cohesiveness of “Veni Vidi Fucki” and “Rice Crispy” and the saved-the-best-nod-for-last finale “Sore Afraid” that undercuts the notion even while making the listening experience all the more pummeling, and from the intro “Corpse Corps” through “Urine Trouble Now”‘s echoing shouts and the closer’s unmitigated stomp, there’s still plenty of exploration being done.

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Oreyeon, Ode to Oblivion

Oreyeon Ode to Oblivion

Rebranded since their 2016 debut, Builders of Cosmos (discussed here), from their more phonetically intuitive original moniker, Orion, Italy’s Oreyeon issue a cosmically expansive spacescape follow-up in their six-song/40-minute sophomore outing, Ode to Oblivion, also their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds. Echoing vocals pervade “Big Surprise” after the introductory “T.I.O.” and “Trudging to Vacuity” establish the wide-cast mix and anti-grav rhythmic density, and the nine-minute side A finale title-track runs mostly-instrumental circles around most of what I’d usually call “prog” only after it lays down a sleek hook in the first couple minutes. After “Big Surprise,” the 8:45 “The Ones” trades volume back and forth but finds its breadth at about the sixth minute as the dramatic lead turns on a dime to desert rock thrust en route to wherever the hell it goes next. Honestly, after that moment, everything’s gravy, but Oreyeon lay it on thick with closer “Starship Pusher” and never neglect melody in the face of nod. Worth a deeper dig if you get the chance.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Melody Fields, Melody Fields

melody fields melody fields

Sometimes you hear a record and it’s like the band is doing you a favor by existing. To that, thanks Melody Fields. The Gothenburg psych troupe lace their lysergic flow with folkish harmonies and an open sensibility on their self-titled debut that comes coupled with enough tonal presence to still consider them heavy not that it matters. They break out the sax on “Morning Sun” to welcome effect, and the sun continues to shine through “Liberty” and the garage-buzzing “Run” before “Rain Man” turns water droplets into keyboard notes and Beatlesian — think “Rain” — voice arrangements atop soothing instrumental drift, every bit the centerpiece and an excellent precursor to the acoustic-based “Fire” and the 10-minute “Trädgränsen,” which is the crowning achievement of this self-titled debut, which, if I’d been hip to it in time, would’ve made both the 2018 best albums and best debuts list. They cap with a reprise of “Morning Sun” and underscore the solid foundation beneath the molten beauty of their work throughout. To ask for another album seems greedy, but I will anyway. More, please.

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Sound Effect Records website

 

Mammoth Grove, Slow Burn

mammoth grove slow burn

Okay, look, enough screwing around. It’s time for someone to sign Mammoth Grove. The Calgary natives have been putting out quality heavy psych rock since their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and their latest long-player, the four-song Slow Burn is a righteous amalgam of peace-thru-rock that lives up to its freewheeling vibes in “Seasons” after the methodical opener “Valleys” and rolls out a bit of melodic ’70s biker rock bliss in “Black Meadow” before the side-B-consuming “Gloria” (18:42) asks early if you’re ready to go and then goes like gone, gone, gone, and gone further. Given the analog mindset involved and the heart on display throughout, there’s something fitting about it being pressed up in an edition of 100 hand-screenprinted LPs and 100 CDs likewise, but the more people who could hear it, the merrier, so yeah, some label or other needs to step up and make that happen, and I dare you to listen to the solo that hits past the 14-minute mark in “Gloria” and tell me otherwise. Dare you.

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Crimson Devils, A Taste for Blood

crimson devils a taste for blood

Since pared down to a trio from the four-piece incarnation they present here, Austin’s Crimson Devils first released their debut, A Taste for Blood, in 2017, but gave it a vinyl revisit last year and it’s little mystery why. The record comprises 11 sharply-composed tracks of Small Stone-style heavy rock, taking cues from Sasquatch in modern-via-classic modus, picking and choosing elements of ’70s and ’90s rock to conjure formidable groove and engaging hooks. There’s considerable swagger and weight in “They Get It,” and while opener “Dead and Gone” seems to show an influence in its vocal patterning from Elder, as the album unfolds, it’s more about the blast of “Captain Walker” or the penultimate “Nothing to Claim” and the straight-ahead vibes of “Bad News Blues” and “No Action” than anything so outwardly prog. There’s plenty to dig in the rock-for-rockers mindset, and it’s the kind of offering that should probably come with an octane rating. However such things are measured, safe to say it would not be low.

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Review & Track Premiere: Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gone cosmic sideways in time

[Click play above to stream ‘Deadlock’ from Gone Cosmic’s debut album, Sideways in Time. It’s out April 12 on Kozmik Artifactz.]

Between their moniker and the title Sideways in Time for their debut album, one would almost expect Gone Cosmic to be some noise-soaked psychedelic jam band, plugged-in, tuned-in, turned-on and drifting into oblivion. Well, there’s some noise in “Deadlock,” and “Misfit Wasted” on sides A and B, respectively, but even those longer tracks follow a structural pattern, and on the whole, the Calgary-based four-piece are far more songwriting-based than it might appear on the surface. That’s hardly a detriment to the Kozmik Artifactz-delivered LP, which comprises eight songs and 46 minutes that certainly have psychedelic elements at play, but are perhaps even more likely to make an impression with their more straightforward aspects. Most immediate among those is the vocal performance of Abbie Thurgood (The Torchettes), who from opener “Dazed” onward surges to the front of the mix alongside the alternatingly fuzzed and scorched guitar of Devin “Darty” Purdy (Chron Goblin), the gotta-hear-it bass tone of Brett Whittingham (also Chron Goblin) and the punctuating drum work of Marcello Castronuovo, whose snare distinctly reminds of the first Kadavar record.

Even in the moments when Thurgood steps back from the fore, as in the early going of “Deadlock” or in the mostly-subdued closer “My Design,” her presence remains significant, and she comes through clearly and proffering soulful melodies in the modern-classic fashion. That doesn’t necessarily relegate the rest of the band to a supporting role — guitar rules the day by the end of “Faded Release” and the subsequent “Turbulent” that leads off side B is almost entirely an instrumental in an Atomic Bitchwaxy modus, wrapped around a winding riff that also gives the rhythm section a due showcase. The songs, then, are varied enough to carry through the progression of the whole album, but still well drawn together around the performances and the production of Josh Rob Gwilliam at OCL Studios about a half-hour outside of town, in a more pastoral setting befitting the record’s naturalist vibe.

That production immediately helps the band make an impression as “Dazed” starts off the record at a bounce, smoothly hitting into its first verse and chorus on a sharp-edged mover of a riff with dat-bass-tho nestled in underneath and a flourish of keyboard — I think — melody just beneath that counters the riff and feels like a sonic easter egg waiting to be noticed. The solo section kicks in after a sudden stop at the midpoint and then does so again, seeming to add layers as it moves through, all the while effectively grounded by the bass and drums as Thurgood makes her way back in before they finish and start the process all over on “Deadlock,” which is the first of three tracks over six minutes long. The others — “Misfit Wasted” and “My Design” — are both on side B, but the clear intent of putting “Deadlock” second is to show how far out Gone Cosmic are ready to go. And they go pretty far.

gone cosmic

Purdy‘s guitar howls in kind with the vocals, and there’s a definite atmosphere being constructed, but Whittingham and Castronuovo effectively hold the proceedings to ground and lock in a real-world groove that’s consistent even in the break in the song’s second half before it explodes back to life and finishes, like the opener, with a guitar solo. “Siren” follows at about two minutes shorter and lands with a mellower vibe thanks to a well-percussed but ultimately subdued flow in its verse that of course sets up a more full-on surge during the chorus but ultimately moves from its final solo into last, softly delivered verse ahead of “Faded Release” at the end of side A, which begins in likewise eased-in fashion only to burst to life as it rounds out, the full brunt of its impact hitting in before the two-minute mark and emphasizing the dynamic at work on the part of the band, the guitar holding sway over much of its second half as would seem to be Gone Cosmic‘s modus. They make it hard to argue.

Jet engine guitar introduces the shuffling “Turbulent,” which, again, is the closest Gone Cosmic get to instrumentalism, taking some cues from Earthless along the way as the guitar stretches out for its solo near the midsection. Thurgood adds a few quick lines amid the effects breadth, but the boogie soon resumes its fuzzy shove and, somewhat unsurprisingly, a solo closes out and leads the way into the atmospheric launch of “Misfit Wasted,” which is a highlight and the longest inclusion at 7:10, a point at which the nominal ‘going cosmic’ seems to be taking place. The vocals croon over languid guitar and gradually lead the build toward a more solidified riff, which takes hold at 3:30 and drives the softshoe-ready push thereafter, more righteous bass and drum work underscoring the procession as a lead transitions into feedback and amp noise to close. The penultimate “Bear the Weight” sees fuzzier low end come forward with airy guitar and layered vocals as Gone Cosmic use the second half of the LP to its traditional purpose in branching out their sound.

In that way, it’s a fitting setup to “My Design” at the end, which stays quiet for most of its 6:28 but still offers a suitable payoff, as the band subtly shift their structural approach while keeping the craft at the center of their focus. They end, of course, with a guitar solo that cuts to silence, and in so doing offer a reminder that as cohesive as Sideways in Time is — and it is — it’s the beginning point of their exploration, not the conclusion. When and where they might end up in terms of sound is hard to say, as they could easily end up playing one side or the other between the psychedelic and more straightforward classic songcraft in their work, both, or neither as they move forward. Most important of all, they’ve given themselves the ground on which to build as they do progress, and they’ve given clear signals of their intention to do precisely that, offering clearheaded and memorable material all the while.

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