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.

WOORMS on Thee Facebooks

WOORMS on Bandcamp

 

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.

Oreyeon on Thee Facebooks

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.

Melody Fields on Thee Facebooks

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.

Mammoth Grove on Thee Facebooks

Mammoth Grove on Bandcamp

 

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.

Crimson Devils on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Devils on Bandcamp

 

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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.

Gone Cosmic on Thee Facebooks

Gone Cosmic on Instagram

Gone Cosmic on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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Gone Cosmic to Release Sideways in Time April 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gone cosmic

There’s no audio to go with this post. I even looked for some crappy YouTube clip of Calgary’s Gone Cosmic, who played their first show last May and are set to deliver their full-length debut, Sideways in Time, April 9 through Kozmik Artifactz. Nothing there either. So I guess you’re gonna have to take my word for it this time. I’ve heard the record. I probably wouldn’t post about it otherwise, though the cover art is plenty nifty, a Kozmik Artifactz release comes with a fair amount of trust behind it and the band has members of Chron Goblin involved, so okay, yeah, maybe I would post about it anyway.

But I don’t need to. I’ve heard the record. It’s right on, and once some audio does get out from ahead of the Springtime release, as audio invariably does in this track-premiere-minded universe, I have little doubt you’ll agree. But it’s early, so we’re not there yet. The galaxy wasn’t built in a day. You gotta be patient with this stuff sometimes.

In the interim, here’s that cover and a likewise nifty band bio, plus links where you can keep an eye out:

gone cosmic sideways in time

Gone Cosmic – Sideways in Time – April 9

Sideways In Time, the debut album from Gone Cosmic, was recorded in September 2018 at OCL Studios. Produced, recorded and mixed by Josh Rob Gwilliam, Sideways In Time is a diverse and ambitious first release navigating the celestial highs and primordial lows of gravity-defying anthems. Hypnotic psych-rock pulses meet electromagnetic solar-powered soul on feature tracks such as pummeller ‘Deadlock’, galactic trip ‘Misfit Wasted’, and interstellar odyssey ‘Faded Release’.

Championed by a soaring songstress Abbie Thurgood (The Torchettes), whose boldly evocative tones recall Skunk Anansie chanteuse Skin and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, and accompanied by an agile and aggressive psych-rock outfit, composed of guitarist Devin “Darty” Purdy (Chron Goblin), bass player Brett Whittingham (Chron Goblin), percussionist Marcello Castronuovo (Witchstone), Gone Cosmic has carved out an expansive domain that stretches from sweltering Southern sludge pits to breath-stealing sonic spacewalks.

A blood (orange)-scented breeze that bows the trees, Gone Cosmic chases the infinite haze from the skies and puts it right back in your eyes. Groove-mining breakdowns become the stuff of legend as the four pieces’ floor-thudding tail kick and hellfire halo holler originates a whole that is far more potent than the sum of its individual elements. Meet your new astromancers, the phase-shifting and hard-rocking force that channels the empyreal sounds of heaven on Earth.

Tracklisting:
1. Dazed
2. Deadlock
3. Siren
4. Faded Release
5. Turbulent
6. Misfit Wasted
7. Bear The Weight
8. My Design

Gone Cosmic is:
Abbie Thurgood
Devin Purdy
Brett Whittingham
Marcello Castronuovo

https://www.facebook.com/gonecosmic/
https://www.instagram.com/gonecosmic/
https://gonecosmic.bandcamp.com
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

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Quarterly Review: BongCauldron, Black Helium, Earthbong, Sir Collapse, Alms, Haaze, The Sledge, Red Lama, Full Tone Generator, Mountain Dust

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Not to get off topic here, but it’s December, and god damn, I hate the fucking holidays. Christmas, even if you believe in the religious significance of the day, is pure garbage. I like giving presents well enough, don’t particularly enjoy receiving them, but even if you put aside the whole “oh it’s so commercial ‘now'” thing, like there was a time anyone now living ever saw when it wasn’t, it isn’t fun. The meal sucks. It’s dark. It’s cold. The songs are fucking endless and terrible — yes, all of them — and the whole experience is just a bummer the whole way through. If there was actually a war on it, I wish they’d drop the bomb and incinerate the entire thing.

Take Thanksgiving, make it start in November and end in December. A month-long festival for the season. You can even give gifts at the end, if you want. It could be like Ramadan, or, probably more likely and much on the opposite end of the spectrum, Oktoberfest.

There. Problem solved. Have a great day, everyone. Let’s do some reviews.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

BongCauldron, Tyke

BongCauldron Tyke

Biscuit, Corky and Jay of BongCauldron return less than 12 months out from their Binge LP (review here) with Tyke (on APF), three more cuts of weed-eating, dirt-worshiping, weed-worshiping, dirt-eating sludge, fueled as ever by fuckall and booze and banger riffs — and yes, I mean “banger” as in “bangers and mash.” There’s a lead that shows up in closer “Jezus Throat Horns” and some vocal melody that follows behind the throaty barks, but for the bulk of the three-tracker, it’s down to the business of conveying dense-toned disaffection and rolling nod. “Pisshead on the Moon” opens with a sample about alcohol killing you and works from its lumber into a bit of a shuffle for its midsection before hitting a wall in the last minute or so in order to make room for the punker blast of “Back up Bog Roll,” which tears ass and is gone as soon as it’s there, dropping some gang vocals on the way, because really, when you think about it, screw everything. Right? “Jezus Throat Horns” might be offering a bit of creative progression in closing out, but the heart of BongCauldron remains stained of finger and stank of breath — just the way it should be.

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Black Helium, Primitive Fuck

black helium primitive fuck

Oh yes. Most definitely. From the Sabbath swing behind the chugging “Love the Drugs” and the march of “Wicked Witch” through the what-would-happen-if-Danzig-was-interesting “Summer Spells” and fuzzed-out post-punk shouts of “Videodrone” en route to the nine-minute “Curtains at the Mausoleum,” London four-piece Black Helium make heavy psychedelic songcraft into something as malleable as it should be on their Riot Season debut, Primitive Fuck, holding to underlying structures when it suits them and touching on drone bliss without ever really completely letting go. Opener “Drowsy Shores” is hypnotic. The aforementioned “Curtains at the Mausoleum” is hypnotic. Even the chug-meets-effects-blowout closing title-track is hypnotic, but on the handclap-laced “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight?” or “Videodrone,” or even “Summer Spells,” there are hooks for the listener to latch onto, life-rafts floating in the swirling tonal abyss. The truth? There isn’t a primitive thing about it. They’re not so much lizard-brained as astral-planed, and if you want a summation of their sound, look no further than their name. It’ll make even more sense when you listen. Which you should do.

Black Helium on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Earthbong, Demo 2018

earthbong demo 2018

The immediate association in terms of riff is going to be Sleep. “Drop Dead,” the 10-minute first of two songs on Earthbong‘s debut Demo 2018, rolls out with pure Dopesmoker-ism and follows the model of gradual unfolding of its weedian sludge riffery. No complaints. The Kiel, Germany, trio are obviously just getting their start, and since it’s a demo and not the “debut EP” that so many otherwise demos try to position themselves as, I’ll take it. And to boot, “Drop Dead” ultimately departs its Sleepy environs for altogether more abrasive fare, with Bongzilla-style screams and an increasingly aggressive shove, the drums crashing like the cymbals did something wrong, and feedback capping into the start of “Wanderer,” which is shorter at seven minutes and opens its assault earlier, the vocals no less distorted than the guitar or bass. There’s some space in a solo in the second half, but Earthbong again twist into harsh, crusty doom before letting feedback carry them out to the demo’s finish. Growing to do, but already their violence seethes.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Sir Collapse, Walk to the Moon

sir collapse walk to the moon

Grunge, noise rock and Queens of the Stone Age-style melody-making collide on Walk to the Moon, the debut full-length from German four-piece Sir Collapse, sometimes on disparate cuts, like the noisy intro given to the album by “Lower Principles,” and sometimes within the same song, as in the later “Like Me.” A jangly swing in “Mono Mantra” and the Nirvana-esque hook there soon gives way to the desert-hued thrust of “One Man Show” and the early ’90s fuzz of “Happy Planet Celebration,” while “The Great Escape” leads the way into some measure of evening out the approach in “Like Me,” “Too Late,” “Hey Ben” and “The Family,” unless that’s just the band acclimating the listener to their style. Fair enough either way. Sir Collapse round out with a return to the uptempo push shown earlier, giving their first LP an impressive sense of symmetry and whole-work presentation as layers of vocals intertwine with melody alternately lush and raw, sounding very much like a band who know the parameters in which they want to work going forward. So be it.

Sir Collapse on Thee Facebooks

Sir Collapse on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Act One

alms act one

Organ-soaked Baltimorean garage doomers Alms enter the conversation of 2018’s best debut albums with Act One on Shadow Kingdom, a collection rife with choice riffing, dynamic vocals and a nuanced blend of heft and drama. That a song like “The Toll” could be both as traditional sounding as it is and still modern enough to be called forward-thinking is nothing short of a triumph, and in the stomping “The Offering,” Alms cast forth a signature chorus that stands out from the tracks surrounding without departing the atmosphere so prevalent in their work. “Dead Water” at the outset and “For Shame” build a momentum through side A that the five-piece of keyboardist/vocalist Jess Kamen guitarists Bob Sweeney (also vocals) and Derrick Hans, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans expand in the second half of the record, winding up in the early gruel of “Hollowed” only to resolve the album with speedier swing and as sure a hand as they’ve guided it all along. At six songs and 33 minutes, Act One unmistakably leaves the audience wanting more, and indeed, the plot may just be starting to unfold.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

 

Haaze, Swamp Mama

Haaze Swamp Mama

It is a sharp, biting 27-minute run, but Swamp Mama isn’t just thrown together haphazardly. Alberta-based sludge metallers Haaze build a song like “35 Indians” to a head over the course of a deceptively efficient 4:44, following opening track “Beast of the Bog” with a developed sense of craft underlying the outward negativity of their sound. I’ll give the band bonus points for finishing side A with a song called “Stereotypically Doomed,” but more for the crash cymbal that seems to devour the mix. There’s a trashy undercurrent to the subsequent title-track, and as it finishes its pummel, it relinquishes ground to the acoustic interlude, “The Mechanic,” which I’m just going to assume is named for the Charles Bronson movie. That of course sets up the most extreme cut included in closer “AL,” which layers fierce growls and screams atop a rhythm clearly designed for maximum assault factor. A little more metal than sludge, it nonetheless remains tonally consistent with what comes before it, giving Swamp Mama a vicious ending and a feel that’s all the more lethal for it.

Haaze on Thee Facebooks

Haaze on Bandcamp

 

The Sledge, On the Verge of Nothing

the sledge on the verge of nothing

Copenhagen four-piece The Sledge boasts the three former members of heavy rockers Hjortene in guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Palle, drummer/vocalist Kim and bassist Claus, so while they’ve revamped their identity and gone on to add vocalist Magnus Risby — who appears here on “179 Liars” and “Yet Untitled” — perhaps its somewhat disingenuous to consider their first album under the new moniker, On the Verge of Nothing, a debut. Issued through Kozmik Artifactz, the record collects eight tracks produced by Anders Hansen (who also worked with Hjortene) and mixed by Matt Bayles, and in listening to the cuts with Risby in the lead spot, the vibe taps into a thicker take on late-era Dozer with no less righteous melodicism. That, however, is just a fraction of the total story of On the Verge of Nothing, which taps earlier desert idolatry on “Death Drome Doline” and brings in none other than Lorenzo Woodrose himself for guest spots elsewhere. People in and out of the lineup through different tracks should make the LP disjointed, but as ever, it’s the songwriting that holds it together, and one can’t discount the core band’s experience playing together as a part of that either. Debut or not, it’s an impressive offering.

The Sledge on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Red Lama, Dogma

red lama dogma

One tends to think of serenity and peaceful drift when it comes to Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, but as the seven-piece band quickly turn around follow-up to their 2018 sophomore LP, Motions (discussed here), cuts like opener “Time” and “RLP” unfold with a particular sense of urgency, the former seeming to showcase an acknowledgement of sociopolitical circumstances in Europe and beyond in a way that seems to readjust their focus. That’s a tidy narrative, but if it’s a case of priorities being rebalanced, it’s striking nonetheless. To coincide, “RLP” has a heavier roll in its second half, and while second cut “State of the Art” and closer “Tearing up the Snow” both make their way past the five-minute mark with post-rocking pastoralia and dreamy melodies, there remains a feeling of a tighter focus in the tracks that could portend a new stage of the band’s development or could simply be a circumstance of what’s included here. The next album will tell the tale.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama on Bandcamp

 

Full Tone Generator, Valley of the Universe

full tone generator valley of the universe

Fronted by Andy Fernando of Don Fernando, Full Tone Generator‘s debut long-player, Valley of the Universe, nonetheless bears the unmistakable hallmark of the Californian desert — in no small part because that’s where it was recorded. Fernando and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Brad Young traveled to that famed landscape to record with Bubba DuPree and Brant Bjork at Zainaland Studios, only to have the latter end up playing drums and contributing backing vocals as well to the eight-tracker. Not a bad deal, frankly. The key reference sound-wise throughout Valley of the Universe is Kyuss, particularly because of Bjork‘s involvement and Fernando‘s vocal style, but the slow-rolling “I Only Love You When I’m Loaded,” 59-second blaster “No Future” and the ending jam duo of “Preacher Man” and “Never to Return” make the ground their own, the latter with some surprise screams before it bounces its way into oblivion as though nothing ever happened. They’ve got the vibe down pat, but Full Tone Generator do more as well than simply retread desert rock’s founding principles.

Full Tone Generator on Thee Facebooks

Hurricane Music on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Dust, Seven Storms

mountain dust seven storms

Keys give Montreal four-piece Mountain Dust a tie to classic heavy blues and they use that element well to cast their identity in the spirit of a post-retro modern feel, details like the backing vocals of “White Bluffs” and the waltzing rhythm held by the snare on “Witness Marks” doing much to add complexity to the persona of the band. “You Could” goes over the top in its boozy regrets, but the dramas of “Old Chills” are full in sound and satisfyingly wistful, while closer “Stop Screaming” offers a bit of twang and slide guitar to go along with its sense of threat and consuming seven-minute finish. Tight songwriting and clean production do a lot to give Seven Storms a professional presentation, but ultimately it’s the band itself that shines through in terms of performance and as Mountain Dust follow-up their well-received 2016 debut, Nine Years, they sound confident in their approach and ready to flesh out in multiple directions while maintaining a central character to their sound that will be familiar to the converted enough to be a work of genre while setting the stage to become all the more their own as well.

Mountain Dust on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

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Chron Goblin to Enter Studio this Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, yeah, I know bands say all kinds of things in press releases — ‘we’re from Mars and only breathe hash oil!’ — but I wonder if Chron Goblin actually went to Nepal. I know they really played Desertfest, so that’s true. It’s the kind of thing I’d like to ask them. So I will:

Hey, Chron Goblin! Did you guys really go to Nepal? If so, what for? Did you play? Band field trip? What’s the deal?

Maybe they’ll be kind enough to answer in the comments, or maybe they’re too busy getting ready to head out for a string of shows this week alongside Cancer Bats, Black Mastiff and Iron Eyes ahead of entering the studio this summer to record the follow-up to 2015’s Backwater (review here). Either way, a trip to Nepal sounds pretty badass.

The Alberta natives also played the Calgary 420 Fest this past April with Anciients, Cowpuncher, the aforementioned Black Mastiff and a whole bunch of others, so they’ve been keeping busy.

They sent the latest news down the PR wire:

chron goblin

CHRON GOBLIN TO ENTER STUDIO SUMMER 2018

Chron Goblin booked to record fourth studio album at OCL Studios

Emerging from the dank swamplands of their last album, Backwater (2015 Ripple Music), the acidic blues rock foursome known as Chron Goblin is poised to enter the next chapter of their destiny.

Readily absorbing those warm solar rays and the truths it illuminates, the four friends have achieved some significant milestones over the past 12 months. From scaling the mountain ranges of Nepal to closing out Britain’s Desertfest with a bang, the enlightenment Chron Goblin’s members have received has not always been that which they were seeking, but that element of uncertainty is what makes life’s little twists all the more sweet.

Taking that sense of gratitude and humility first to heart and secondly into the studio, Chron Goblin has generated a fresh crop of potent material based on their greatest triumphs and misadventures. The two facets of existence go hand in hand, not unlike the hard-charging rhythms and cathartic vocals that have come to define the band, along with spot-on percussion, intoxicating swirls of psychedelic stringwork and earworm spawning lyrics that’ll keep you coming back for round after round. Vocalist and lyricist Josh Sandulak describes the album as “an amalgamation and reflection of all the experiences and growth we’ve had as a band and it’s a celebration of that journey.”

Stay tuned for more green-gold nuggets from the hardcore quartet with a penchant for creating arm-out-the-window rock anthems. Chron Goblin will be entering OCL Studios this summer to collaborate with Josh Rob Gwilliam, whose production and engineering skills has led to platinum records and Juno Awards. An incendiary new release is sure to follow.

Upcoming Tour Dates w/ Cancer Bats
May 16 Calgary Dickens
May 17 Red Deer Bo’s
May 18 Edmonton Starlite Room

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

Chron Goblin, Backwater (2015)

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Woodhawk Announce ‘Magnetic North Tour’ Canadian Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

woodhawk (photo Mario Montes)

Canadian heavy rockers Woodhawk seem to have a thing for Star Wars-themed tour posters. I can’t really argue with either the aesthetic or the concept, it’s just always kind of fun to see what they come up with for their next stretch on the road. This time around it’s a Millennium Falcon with a trailer full of gear. Get it? Last time it was Darth Vader looming over the dates. I assume if we wait long enough, some of those adorable little porgs might show up. Or BB-8. Or Force-Hologram Luke. Cute as a button, the whole lot of ’em.

Since you asked, yes indeed, Woodhawk are still out supporting last year’s Beyond the Sun (review here), which had its own Star Wars connections. If you’ve got a daily quota for hooks to get stuck in your head, I suggest you stream the album on the player at the bottom of this post, and should you happen to be in the Great White North this March/April, here are those dates:

woodhawk magnetic north tour

WOODHAWK Announce Canadian “Magnetic North Tour” (AB/SK/MB/ON/QC)

Calgary, AB’s masters of straight ahead riff-rock wizardry WOODHAWK announce their 2018 Canadian “Magnetic North Tour” in support of their latest full length album “Beyond The Sun” released April last year. The tour will see the trio trek across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba plus performing for the first time in Ontario and Quebec (dates listed below).

The band comments: “We’re excited to be hitting the road again and heading out East this time. We haven’t played past Winnipeg yet and we’re stoked to finally make it out there.”

WOODHAWK’s debut album “Beyond The Sun” was produced by the band with Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids) to follow their 2014 self-titled EP. Made of equal parts 1970’s Birmingham and a myriad of 21st century heavy who’s who, WOODHAWK are purveyors of riff-centric rock and roll. Capable and original, the band is able to craft anthemic fist-pumping songs while forgoing tired stoner rock clichés. With time travel tested themes of science fiction, swords and sorcery, the band’s lyrics are born from snowy winters, hot practice spaces and pages of dog-eared paperbacks. While the musicianship reinforces recollections of Black Sabbath, modern influences that have helped you smash air drums or highway speed limits are undeniably present.

‘Beyond The Sun’ album stream available on Bandcamp at https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com.

The album is available on digital, vinyl and CD.

WOODHAWK “Magnetic North Tour” (AB/SK/MB/ON/QC)

March 21 – Calgary, AB – Ship and Anchor
March 22 – Edmonton, AB – Brixx Bar
March 23 – Saskatoon, SK – Vangelis Tavern
March 24 – Winnipeg, MB – The Handsome Daughter
March 27 – London, ON – Call The Office
March 28 – Hamilton, ON – This Ain’t Hollywood
March 29 – Ottawa, ON – House of TARG
March 30 – Toronto, ON – The Bovine
March 31 – Montreal, QC – Quai des Brumes
April 2 – Oshawa, ON – TBA
April 5 – Thunder Bay, ON – Black Pirates Pub
April 6 – Brandon, MB – North Hill Inn
April 7 – Regina, SK – The German Club

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

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

Woodhawk, Beyond the Sun (2017)

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420 Music & Arts Festival 2018: Sasquatch, Brant Bjork, Great Electric Quest, La Chinga, Dopethrone and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

My understanding there’s a whole lot more that goes on at Calgary’s 420 Music and Arts Festival than just bands playing, but golly, there sure are a lot of bands playing. I just hope someone keeps a running tally of what’s on the playlist for Brant Bjork‘s DJ set, because you know that dude is going to both out-funk and out-punk the entire room and I’d pretty much take each track as a recommendation for an album I needed to check out. Oh yeah, DopethroneSasquatchLa ChingaMendozza, and about 20-odd other bands playing are pretty cool too. Not taking anything away from that. Just saying someone needs to write that shit down for me.

The PR wire has all the info:

420 music and arts festival

CALGARY’S 420 MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2018 LINE-UP W/ DOPETHRONE, BRANT BJORK, SASQUATCH, LA CHINGA – TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

Official Festival Poster Artwork by Mike Calhoun / Sketchy Intuitions, Austin, TX

Calgary, AB’s 420 Music & Arts Festival presented by METALHEADS UNITED announces their 2018 line-up for April 19th, 20th, and 21st featuring headliners Dopethrone, Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Vista Chino) (special guest DJ set on 420), Sasquatch and La Chinga along with over 20 other acts ranging from stoner rock/stoner metal, doom, psychedelic and heavy blues.

420 Music & Arts Festival 2018 Line-Up

Thursday April 19

Sasquatch (Los Angeles, CA)
Great Electric Quest (San Diego, CA)
Electric Owl (Calgary, AB)
Gin Lahey (members of Chron Goblin and Witchstone) (Calgary, AB)
RAW (Calgary, AB)
Set and Stoned (Calgary, AB)
Solid Brown (Calgary, AB)

Friday April 20

Brant Bjork (Palm Desert, CA) (DJ sets between bands, spinning rare vinyl and closing the festival night)
La Chinga (Vancouver, BC)
Buffalo Bud Buster (Calgary, AB)
Mendozza (Vancouver, BC)
Bazaraba (Calgary, AB)
Chronobot (Sask)
Black Hell Oil (Saskatoon, SK)
The Mothercraft (Edmonton, AB)

Saturday April 21

Dopethrone (Montreal, QC)
Buzzard (Victoria, BC)
Orbital Express (Regina. SK)
The Electric Revival (Calgary, AB)
Chunkasaurus (Nanaimo, BC)
Heron (Vancouver, BC)
Ogimaa (Winnipeg, MB)
Haaze (Calgary, AB)
Pelican Death Squad (Calgary, AB)

Ticket Info:

Advance festival 3 day passes are now available for $69 CAD (plus applicable service charges) until April 1st then will increase to regular price of $89 (plus applicable service charges).

Limited quantities of individual day tickets will be available beginning March 1st.

Festival passes available online only at the festival store at the following link: http://www.420musicandartsfestival.ca/store-2/

Festival passes give fans entry to Distortion on April 19, 20 and 21 and additional 420 Music and Arts Festival Events to be announced at a later date.

Passes are not transferable between attendees during the event. Passes will be exchanged for wrist bands, which must be worn for entrance to the events.

All passes purchased online will be available for pick up at venue or shipped to choice of mailing address. Physical passes will be mailed out in early February. Any passes purchased for shipping by February 15th, are scheduled to arrive by March 1st. If you do not receive your passes by the listed date, please contact the festival at http://www.420musicandartsfestival.ca/contact/. A shipping confirmation will be sent when passes are mailed.

All ticket sales are final. No refunds will be issued unless full festival cancellation. 420 Music & Arts Festival reserve the right to change the line up as required due to band scheduling and / or other circumstances beyond their control.

http://www.420musicandartsfestival.ca
http://www.facebook.com/420MusicAndArtsFestival
http://twitter.com/420FestivalYYC

Dopethrone, 1312 (2016)

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Woodhawk Canadian Tour Starts Sept. 3; New Video Posted

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

woodhawk-photo-mario-a-montes

Hooks, hooks, hooks, riffs, riffs, riffs, fuzz, fuzz, fuzz, groove, groove, groove. These are the things that Calgary trio Woodhawk will bring with them this Fall when they hit the road in their native Canada for what they’re calling the ‘Woodhawk Strikes Back’ tour. If you’re wondering what the Star Wars connection might be, aside from being stoked for Episode VIII and the forthcoming Han Solo movie that has Hobie Doyle from Hail Caesar! in the titular role, if I’m not mistaken it’s also the second run of Canadian dates Woodhawk are undertaking to support their earlier-2017 full-length, Beyond the Sun (review here), which also had a song on it titled “A New Hope.” So there you go. All has been made clear.

The three-piece also have a new video posted for “The High Priest” from that album that you can watch below, and whether you heard the record when it came out or not, the already-stuck-in-your-head chorus makes a considerable argument in favor of another visit. Some bands just know how to write a song.

Info follows from the PR wire:

woodhawk tour poster

WOODHAWK “Strikes Back Tour” (AB/SK/BC) + Riff-tastic Debut “Beyond The Sun” Out Now!

Calgary’ AB’s masters of straight ahead riff-rock wizardry WOODHAWK will be hitting the road this September for their second Western Canadian tour (AB/SK/BC) (dates listed below) in support of their full length album ‘Beyond The Sun’ released this past April. The album was produced by the band with Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids) to follow their 2014 debut EP. Made of equal parts 1970’s Birmingham and a myriad of 21st century heavy who’s who, WOODHAWK are purveyors of riff-centric rock and roll. Capable and original, the band is able to craft anthemic fist-pumping songs while forgoing tired stoner rock clichés. With time travel tested themes of science fiction, swords and sorcery, the band’s lyrics are born from snowy winters, hot practice spaces and pages of dog-eared paperbacks. While the musicianship reinforces recollections of Black Sabbath, modern influences that have helped you smash air drums or highway speed limits are undeniably present.

The band comments:

“This tour sees us wrapping up our western Canada touring in support of Beyond The Sun. Western Canada is so good to us. A New Hope seeme d to be a lot of people’s favourite song off the album, so we thought it would be funny to pull another Star Wars reference out, with naming the tour Woodhawk Strikes Back.”

‘Beyond The Sun’ album stream available on Bandcamp at https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com.

The album is available on digital, vinyl and CD.

WOODHAWK Strikes Back Tour (AB/SK/BC)
Sept 3 – Calgary, AB – Atlantic Trap and Gil
Sept 8 – Lethbridge, AB – The Slice
Sept 9 – Regina, SK – The German Club
Sept 15 – Golden, BC – The Rockwater
Sept 16 – Vancouver, BC – The Astoria
Sept 23 – Kelowna, BC – Doc Willoughby’s
Oct 7 – Edmonton, AB – UP+DT Festival – Downtown Edmonton Community League

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

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

Woodhawk, “The High Priest” official video

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