Stinkeye, Llantera: Down the Gutter and into Space

Posted in Reviews on August 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye llantera

If Stinkeye have anything in common with the current West Coast heavy psych boom, it’s the possibility that at any moment — any moment at all — it just might be time to boogie. But at the same time, true to their geography, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are a little more inland in their sound, a little more suburban-skatepark-disaffection and garage-rehearsals than they might be were they otherwise basking in the coastal sunshine of San Diego. Issued by Milwaukee Junction Records and Blade RecordsLlantera is the debut full-length from the young three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hosley, bassist Harris Smull and drummer Anthony DeMuro, and though it takes some tonal and tempo cues from the unabashed I-got-this-legally new-school stonerism of Fuzz across its span, whether it’s the Dead Meadow march of post-intro opener “Orange Man,” the Sungrazer-style vocal harmonies of the subsequent “Pink Clam,” the weirdo-born bounce of “No Spoon” or the grunged-out, semi-punk fuckall thrust of closer “Feed,” Stinkeye careen from one influence to another with fluidity more deceptive than the forwardness of their hairy tones and cymbal washes might at first convey.

Including the digital bonus/maybe-hidden track “Fink Ployd,” Llantera checks in at a thoroughly manageable 37 minutes — ready and seemingly waiting for whoever might want to pick it up for a vinyl release to do so — and is the follow-up to the band’s first outing, last year’s Llantera Demos (review here), a four-track demonstration released in October that also featured “Orange Man,” “Pink Clam,” “Llantera” and “Fink Ployd.” If that seems like a quick turnaround between a first demo and a first long-player, it is, and Llantera has its rough edges to be sure, but that ultimately becomes a part of the album’s appeal, as shown in the harsher bite of “Feed” or the manner in which “Bringer of Grief” shifts from its instrumentally jamming first half to the languidly bouncing verses of its second. Youth is very much on Stinkeye‘s side. The energy of their delivery and the sense of exploration at root in the construction of their material both benefit from the freshness of the experience on the part of the band. They’re new to their potential listenership? Well, they’re new to themselves too.

Accordingly, in addition to actually being partially comprised of the same tracks, Llantera carries forward the overarching rawness of the Llantera Demos. Produced and engineered by Dylan Thomas, “Pink Clam,” “No Spoon” and the rest of the cuts bask in a natural vibe and a variable mix that sees Hosley‘s vocals brought to the fore in volume on “Orange Man” and “Pink Clam” and the latter portion of “Bringer of Grief,” highlighting a burgeoning melodic approach that one can only hope the guitarist and the band as a whole will develop as they move forward, and pushed back into echoing trippery to allow the added percussion in “No Spoon” to flourish amid the fuzzy and desert-hued guitar leads while Smull‘s bass — with a ’90s-style funk at its core — provides the grounding force necessary to tie it all together before DeMuro‘s drums lead the way into the slowdown at the end that explodes and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard wash rounds out as the transition into “Feed.”

The smoothness of that transition, as well as that earlier between the 28-second intro “The Calm” — which functions in direct defiance of its title with an immediately abrasive push of guitar noise — and the ultra-welcoming initial roll of “Orange Man,” isn’t to be understated, but this too feels like an element in progress on the part of Stinkeye, something they’ll build on from here for their next release. Still, as righteously paced as their material is throughout Llantera, and as much as they shift from one vibe to the next — the title-track becoming a party of gang shouts and the record’s most shuffling rhythm, much thickened by Smull‘s low end and clearly having a great time getting alternative-universe surf-rock in Hosley‘s guitar over DeMuro‘s steady, handclap-worthy snare before “Bringer of Grief” more fully introduces the edgier single-word shouts foreshadowed in “Pink Clam” that will jab throughout “No Spoon” to follow — the front-to-back impression is hardly lacking flow either way. Repeat listens to the entirety, which are well earned, only make this linearity more resonant.

Add to that little hints of bizarro nuance like a possible lyrical mention of Barbara Bush in “Pink Clam” and the structural departure in “Bringer of Grief,” and Llantera becomes a decisively engaging piece of crafted fuzzy, heavy rock, infused with the sneer of garage and some noisier impulses for good measure. That, as the debut full-length from a relatively new band, it says as much as it does about their potential makes it all the more welcome, but there’s value in the breadth Stinkeye present in the here and now as well, and as much as one looks forward to hearing how they might bridge the sonic/stylistic gaps between “Llantera” and “Feed” as their methods evolve over time, the fact that they can put both of those songs together in relatively close proximity on a short-ish album isn’t to be ignored. And while one suspects that pieces like “Feed” and”Bringer of Grief” and “No Spoon” were already in the works, the quick turnaround between the demo and the long-player bodes well for future productivity too.

Llantera might be a sleeper in terms of the response it gets, but it puts Stinkeye in league with next-generation upstarts like FoggBison Machine, Salem’s BendCloud Catcher and perhaps even Slow Season (among others) in fostering a new breed of American heavy that learns from the past even as it places itself at the cutting edge of what’s to come. Of course, what Stinkeye become as they pass through the next few years is up to them — they could call it quits tomorrow and completely pull the plug on the potential shown here; it’s certainly happened before — but Llantera fills one with hope for what they might be able to contribute to this pastiche and kicks more than enough ass besides to be counted as one of the best debuts of 2017. May they continue to work quickly, may they continue to boogie at will, and may they continue to get weirder as they go.

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

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Spirit Adrift Set Oct. 6 Release for Curse of Conception; Title-Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Spirit-Adrift-photo-Alvino-Salcedo

Due out Oct. 6, Curse of Conception is even more of a quick turnaround behind Spirit Adrift‘s 2016 debut, Chained to Oblivion (review here), when one considers that in the interim the Arizona-based doom outfit has swapped labels and put together a full touring lineup of personnel. That plus new album? Not bad for a year’s time. Founding guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Nate Garrett is joined in Spirit Adrift now by guitarist Jeff Owens and drummer Marcus Bryant, both also of Goya, and Gatecreeper‘s Chase Mason on bass, making for a formidable lineup indeed. Oh yeah, and the new record? Engineered by Sanford Parker. Clearly Garrett isn’t fucking around on any level.

A stream of the title-track, which you can hear under the artwork and copious PR wire information below, confirms this thesis as well as preorder availability:

spirit-adrift-curse-of-conception

SPIRIT ADRIFT: Psychedelic Desert Doom Act To Release Curse Of Conception LP Via 20 Buck Spin; Title Track And Preorders Issued

20 Buck Spin welcomes Arizona’s psychedelic desert doom unit, SPIRIT ADRIFT – featuring members of Gatecreeper, Goya, and others – signing the act for the October release of their second LP, Curse Of Conception.

Curse Of Conception was engineered and mixed by Sanford Parker (Yob, Pelican, Eyehategod) and features artwork by Joe Petagno (Motörhead, Magic Circle, Autopsy). In conjunction with the public announcement of the album details, the album’s title track has also been issued early.

Curse Of Conception will see release through 20 Buck Spin worldwide on CD, LP, and digital formats on October 6th; find physical preorder options HERE, Bandcamp preorders HERE, and iTunes HERE.

While Spirit Adrift made many take notice with their debut album “Chained To Oblivion”, it is on “Curse Of Conception” their stellar second album, and first with new label 20 Buck Spin, that the band has taken a giant leap forward in songwriting prowess, production and confidence. From the Metallica / Priest like opening moments of ‘Earthbound’ to the epic closing of “Onward, Inward”, Spirit Adrift are aiming sky high with burning focus and peak vigor.

The aforementioned ‘Earthbound’ is a standard bearer for album-opening songcraft, leading into the colossal title track, a grungy and twisting radio-ready crawler. ‘To Fly On Broken Wings’ & ‘Graveside Invocation’ continue to show that any of the eight tracks on ‘Curse Of Conception’ could stand as featured singles. Throughout the duration brick heavy riff assembly, somber southern atmospherics and grand melodies entwine flawlessly into perfect metallic majesty, exemplified succinctly and totally in the instrumental ‘Wakien’ for example.

With a host of fantastic albums released by their contemporaries lately, Spirit Adrift has taken their craft to an ascendent new level on ‘Curse Of Conception’ earning their rightful place among the top tier of modern metal bands clawing their way above and beyond the underground scene. Now more than at any time metal has become the lifeblood of rock music and Spirit Adrift offer ‘Curse Of Conception’ as an embodiment of that perseverant vitality.

With widespread touring in support of Curse Of Conception impending, SPIRIT ADRIFT has already booked two release shows for the LP. The first takes place on their home turf in Tempe, Arizona on October 7th alongside Atriarch, Take Over And Destroy, and Divine Hammer. The second release show invades Denver, Colorado a week later, playing October 14th with now-labelmates Khemmis as well as Abrams. Stand by for additional live updates.

SPIRIT ADRIFT Curse Of Conception release shows:
10/07/2017 Yucca Tap Room – Tempe, AZ w/ Atriarch, Take Over And Destroy, Divine Hammer
10/14/2017 The Hi-Dive – Denver, CO w/ Khemmis, Abrams

Curse Of Conception Track Listing:
1. Earthbound
2. Curse Of Conception
3. To Fly On Broken Wings
4. Starless Age (Enshrined)
5. Graveside Invocation
6. Spectral Savior
7. Wakien
8. Onward, Inward

SPIRIT ADRIFT:
Nate Garrett – Vocals, Guitar
Jeff Owens – Guitar
Chase Mason – Bass
Marcus Bryant – Drums

https://spiritadrift.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAdrift
http://spiritadrift.bigcartel.com
http://www.20buckspin.com
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http://www.twitter.com/20buckspinlabel

Spirit Adrift, “Curse of Conception”

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Boris, Sólstafir, Desert Suns & Chiefs, Elara, Fungus Hill

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

the obelisk radio cavum

Some bigger releases going up to the playlist for The Obelisk Radio this time around, and that’s just fine by me. It’s five albums listed here, but there are a few others included as well that you can see listed on the updates page and it’s good stuff all the way around. It was all actually supposed to go up last week, but you know, life is chaos and all that. I hope as always that you manage to find something you enjoy, and if you haven’t heard some of this stuff as yet — I suspect you have, because you know what’s up and I’m perpetually behind on these things; more than just a week, on average — then all the better. Let’s dig in together.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2017:

Boris, Dear

boris dear

If you were Boris and you were looking to celebrate a quarter-century of innovating heavy rock, noise, drone, J-pop, and genreless forays into bizarre sonic delights, how would you do it? If you said, “I’d release 69 heavy-as-hell minutes of rumbling tectonics and progressive scope making for one of the best albums of the year,” you’d seem to be on the money. The Japanese trio’s umpteenth full-length, Dear (on Sargent House in the US/EU and Daymare in Japan), begins with the appropriately-titled “D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise,” setting forth a consuming six-minute onslaught of feedback and lumbering pummel before the SunnO)))-rivaling drone of “Deadsong” takes hold, shifting at its midpoint to a spaciousness all Boris‘ own. Then they chug out galloping riff triplets on “Absolutego” like it ain’t no thing. That’s Boris: the band who named themselves after a Melvins song and then utterly outdid their namesake on every creative level and have continued to do so throughout one of underground music’s most landmark tenures. Dear offers simultaneous melodic breadth and droning depth on its centerpiece duo of “Kagero” and “Biotope” after counteracting minimalist march with explosive crash on “Beyond,” but they’re still just getting started. The seven-minute “The Power” leads off the second of the two LPs and seems to stem upward from the same roots as YOB at their harshest, brutally feedbacking into the dronegaze of the shorter “Memento Mori” before the 12-minute “Dystopia – Vanishing Point” and the nine-minute title-track comprise a side D that’s nothing less than a triumphant lesson in how to meet your audience head-on right before you swallow them whole, setting its stage with keys and tribalist drums quickly before hypnotizing through five minutes of quiet stretch and bursting gloriously to life ahead of one last contrast of empty spaces and crushing tonality on “Dear” that gives way at last to the noise and feedback that’s always been so essential to their process. If Dear is a letter to Boris‘ fans, as they have said, it is also a willful embrace of the wide-open sensibilities that have made the last 25 years of their craft so uniquely their own. They can go anywhere stylistically and remain Boris precisely because they refuse to settle on a single idea that defines them.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris at Sargent House’s website

 

Sólstafir, Berdreyminn

solstafir berdreyminn

Having now passed the 20-year mark since their founding in 1995, Iceland’s Sólstafir continue to reshape melancholy in their own image on their sixth album and third for Season of Mist, Berdreyminn. The Reykjavik-based four-piece keep the significant achievements of 2014’s Ótta (review here) close to the chest throughout the eight-track/57-minute offering, but songs like “Ísafold” have an upbeat push behind their emotional resonance, and even on a brooding piano piece like “Hvít Sæng,” the overarching sense of motion and the dynamic is maintained. The penultimate “Ambátt” — first of two eight-minute cuts in a finale duo — might be Berdreyminn‘s richest progressive achievement, with its lush opening vocal harmonies giving way to a patiently-delivered clinic on texture, build and payoff that borders on the orchestral. Of course, strings and horns to appear on the album, adding to already complex arrangements, but Sólstafir never lose their corresponding human center, and as “Bláfjall” closes with an intensity of thrust hinted at by the cymbal-crash wash of opener “Silfur-Refur” and the post-blackened push of “Nárós” but ultimately on its own level, they underline the realization and poise that is simply all their own. Berdreyminn is the sound of a band doing important work, and with it, Sólstafir only prove themselves more crucial on an aesthetic level, yet it might be their ability to somehow still feel in-progress that most defines what makes them so special. More than two decades on, they still come across like a group exploring their sound and finding new ways to develop their songwriting — which they are and which they do here. That in itself is an accomplishment worthy of every accolade they reap, and Berdreyminn lives up to that standard front to back across its engaging, encompassing span.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Sólstafir at Season of Mist’s website

 

Desert Suns & Chiefs, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-5-desert-suns-chiefs

Ripple Music has made its The Second Coming of Heavy series of split LPs an essential showcase of the variety in underground rock. The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 brings together San Diego heavy psych/blues rockers Desert Suns, who also reissued their debut long-player through Ripple in 2016 and followed it with the single “The Haunting” (review here) in conjunction with Ripple and HeviSike Records, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chiefs, whose 2015 debut, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), arrived on vinyl via Battleground Records and whose five tracks included on side B here cast them among the best Ripple Music bands in the Southwest not currently signed to Ripple Music for their next album. More than some prior installments, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 finds its two featured purveyors complementing each other’s work excellently, as Desert Suns offer three seven-plus minute tracks running from the harmonica-inclusive “Night Train” and the rolling, long-fading “Solitude” with the push of “Heavy” in between and Chiefs — though their individual runtimes are shorter — holding straightforward heavy/desert rock methods at their core in unpretentious fashion across “The Rhino,” the standout “Baron to Chancellor,” “Low Tide,” “Caroline” and “My Last Stand,” nodding initially at ’90s noise rock à la Helmet in “The Rhino” but in the end keeping to their sandy, well-structured mission. As ever, The Second Coming of Heavy asks nothing more of its audience than a basic exploration of the groups included, and certainly both Desert Suns and Chiefs earn that. Whether one takes it on in the context of the prior chapters or as a standalone split release, it delivers a collection of cuts from two outfits with a shared core of quality songcraft and the underlying message that sometimes the straight-line route is the way to go. Right on, once again.

Desert Suns on Thee Facebooks

Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Elara, Deli Bal

elara deli bal

Both sides of Elara‘s PsyKa Records-released debut full-length, Deli Bal, are comprised of one shorter track on either side of eight minutes and one longer one, 12 and 17 minutes, respectively. Between that and the cover art, it should come as no surprise that heavy psychedelic drift is central to what the Stuttgart, Germany, trio of bassist/vocalist Daniel Wieland, guitarist/noisemaker Felix Schmidt and drummer Martin Wieland — who also stylize their name as the bracketed [Elara Sunstreak Band] — get up to in their first offering, but there’s an underlying progressive melodic sensibility as well, and Schmidt‘s guitar seems to have picked up a few lessons from My Sleeping Karma‘s minor-key solo mysticism, so one can hear a sound beginning to take shape early as the leadoff title-track gives way to “Amida,” which swaps back and forth between organ-laden krautrock meandering and fuller-fuzz thrust, and as “Quarantania” reinforces that classic vibe with a warm bass tone from Daniel. Whether you’re listening to the platter itself and switching sides or digitally or on CD, Deli Bal is clearly intended to be consumed as a whole work, and one can hear the vocal melody of “Harmonia” tying back to that in the opener as another example of the underlying structure with which it plays out, despite the broad feel of the songs themselves and the expanses they both intend and actually do cover. The LP has just the four tracks, but the digital version comes with the 9:42 bonus cut “Trimenon,” which builds around a core post-rocking guitar line to come to a fervent apex before receding again to let the listener go gently from Deli Bal‘s total 56-minute runtime; no minor undertaking, but effectively executed and a pleasure in its wandering mind and spirit.

Elara on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records on Bandcamp

 

Fungus Hill, Creatures

fungus hill creatures

This early-2017 psychedelic curio from Umeå, Sweden’s Fungus Hill begins by asking “Are You Dead?” The just-under-nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of the groovy outfit’s four-song, self-released, 28-minute debut Creatures EP doesn’t sound overly concerned with whether the answer is yes or no so much as enacting a serene flow by posing the question over a laid back bluesy vibe. Arrangement? Fluid. With dual vocals from guitarist Gustav Orvefors and percussionist Jenny Isaksson — the five-piece is completed by guitarist Erik Sköld, drummer Nils Mörtzell and bassist Tom Westerlund — Fungus Hill are able to bring variety as they turn to post-Ghost straightforward ’70s chorus-leaning in the first half of “Beware of Evil in the Sky,” prior to a midsection trip outward on subdued shimmy and deceptively complex melodicism. The flute (or keyboard flute sounds) of the jazzy “Evolution” brings Isaksson to the floor with a smoky, even-bluesier feel, and the guitar answers back with fuzzy lead flourish that only enhances the soul on display, while a seven-and-a-half-minute closing title-track delves deepest of all into thicker riffing, a “Na na na na” hook taking hold quickly just in case you weren’t sure it was going to be a highlight. It is. More tonally dense than most retro boogie — and less retro, for that matter — Fungus Hill‘s Creatures nonetheless has its traditionalist elements, but across its individual pieces each one points to a different side of the band’s personality, and from the Alan Watts sample at the beginning of “Are You Dead?” to when we meet the troll later in “Creatures,” each side of that personality utterly shines.

Fungus Hill on Thee Facebooks

Fungus Hill on Bandcamp

 

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Stinkeye Post “No Spoon” Video; Debut Album out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye

Phoenix, Arizona, bringers-of-fuzzy-shenanigans Stinkeye released their debut full-length, Llantera, last month, just prior to hitting the road on a tour along the Pacific Coast to support it. They’ve been selling CDs at shows, tapes can be preordered ahead of an Aug. 5 issue through Blade Records and one can purchase the album via iTunes — it’s not currently on their Bandcamp — but if it’s mainly at shows for now or the three-piece is working out something else for a vinyl release, then fair enough. I dug the hell out of their 2016 four-tracker, Llantera Demos (review here), and Llantera proper is a more than worthy follow-up — not just because it happens to work in all four of those songs, either.

I think you can both hear and see my reasoning in the video below for “No Spoon,” directed by Andrew Hosley. A young band comprised of Hosley on guitar/vocals, Harris Smull on bass and Anthony DeMuro on drums, Stinkeye effectively bring together elements of grunge, fuzz rock and heavy psych, and with a laid back garage-style roll, their vibe is languid and tripped out. The clip follows suit with a weirdo edge that feels like it was born in the ’90s much as the band themselves probably were. Maybe. In either case, whatever’s up with Llantera, officially it’s been put out once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got nabbed somewhere along the line for vinyl issue by this or that label, since the trio groove so fluidly across its span and even in the sphere of West Coast heavy psych, what they’re doing stands out as being less ’70s derived and more about depth than the shuffle. It’s an easy one to dig.

And of course, I hope you do precisely that as regards the “No Spoon” clip, which you’ll find immediately following here:

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

“time slips away, down the gutter, and into space”

Artist: Stinkeye
Song: No Spoon
Album: LLANTERA
Label: Milwaukee Junction Records

Song Produced and Engineered by Dylan Thomas.

Video produced and edited by Andrew Hosley / Filmed by Bailey Price and Morgan Richmeier.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

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Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

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Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

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Godhunter Post Video for “Walking with a Ghost” from Codex Narco

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter

Take a second now and just get ready to have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. “Walking with a Ghost” serves as a surprise and a highlight from Godhunter‘s latest outing, the Battleground– and Baby Tooth Records-released Codex Narco EP (review here), and emphasizes the vast range that manifests in the band’s sound across the still-only-21-minutes. Known for a vicious blend of sludge, metal and hardcore, Godhunter veer deeper than they ever have into atmospherics, dark psychedelic wash, and even synth-laden pop heft.

It’s that latter that comes into focus on the Tegan and Sara cover “Walking with a Ghost.” Placed as the second-to-last track on Codex Narco and featuring guest vocals from Nick Genitals of Methra, it’s a definitive turn from what one might have previously expected of Godhunter‘s sound, taking the poppy hook of the original and blowing out the post-punk riff tonally while keeping the chorus central to the song itself and staying loyal to structure. It’s short at two and a half minutes long, but in that time Godhunter channel Ramones-style simplicity and a deceptively rich tonal stew over which the lyrics are laid. In an alternate universe, there’s an entire league of bands who sound like this and they’re all huge.

In this universe, Godhunter hit with “Walking with a Ghost” on something that’s entirely their own despite it being a cover and not actually their song at its root. Perhaps that duality is part of the appeal as well, but either way, “Walking with a Ghost” more than earns the attention it’s being paid via the band’s new video, which brings its theme of depression to life visually with a narrative embodying the central metaphor: a ghost. You’ll note the inclusion at the end of the text/phone info for the National Suicide Hotline — text 741741 or call 800-273-8255 — as further representation of the underlying purpose of the track and of Codex Narco as a whole. Nothing Godhunter do is an accident.

Enjoy the clip below:

Godhunter, “Walking with a Ghost” official video

Directed by: Mitch Wells (Thou)

Video presented by: DGRK Records, Baby Tooth Records and Battleground Records

“Walking With A Ghost” written by Sara Quin & Tegan Quin (originally performed by Tegan And Sara). All rights reserved by Warner Music Group.

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Battleground Records on Bandcamp

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The Myrrors Release Hasta la Victoria June 30; Track Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the myrrors

The Myrrors‘ new album, Hasta la Victoria, is due out June 30 via Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, and its venerable, purpose-driven psychedelia would seem to exist on that horizon line where the flat desert earth meets the nighttime sky indistinguishable from outer space itself. Can you see it? If not, you might want to check out the winding krautjazz of “Organ Mantra” when the time comes or simply dig into on “Somos la Resistencia” below. The track is streaming ahead of the release and has been for some time, but if you haven’t caught it yet, its neo-psych intensity speaks to some of the urgency of the themes the Tucson-based outfit are tackling with the record while still holding onto the vastness of the landscape that surrounds them. Vibe? Yeah, they got vibe.

Info and audio follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

the-myrrors-hasta-la-victoria

Tucson psych band The Myrrors – new album ‘Hasta La Victoria’ out 6/30 on Beyond Beyond is Beyond

If you turn your eyes to gaze even momentarily at the current state of our shared human environment, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it may be an unusual time to spend much time in consideration of “victory.” The forces that seek to stall progress and the forces that seek to pollute progress are intertwined, the path to progress choked, gasping for the breath of new ideas. It’s against this backdrop that we reconnect with the The Myrrors, and their beautiful, bewildering new album, “Hasta La Victoria.

Of course, you’ll also be forgiven if you’ve not been privy to pay attention to the path of progress pursued by these largely indefinable desert defenders—though it’s not that The Myrrors haven’t given listeners plenty of chances to reflect. “Hasta La Victoria” comes just one year after the band’s previous “Entranced Earth,” and serves as more than an enthralling companion piece. In scope and sound, this group of Arizona arhats has developed their own, altered and all-encompassing definition of “victory.”

On “Hasta La Victoria,” The Myrrors win the fight by largely giving up, so to speak. By almost completely abandoning traditional electric guitar sounds, the band lives to fight another day and sounds all the stronger for it. Minimalist influences perfume the surroundings of the album as a whole, transforming the proceedings into a transformative platter in which sun-soaked dervishes ascend and descend, informed by interlocking influences, and instruments as well. “Hasta La Victoria,” in name and deed, embraces and is endowed by the potency of this unbounded approach, merging the sounds of Arizonan and Afghani heads into a single, satisfying whole.

And yet, not a moment of the album’s thirty-seven minutes ever feels anything short of natural, or even remotely rushed. Indeed, in the best possible way, “Hasta La Victoria” sounds like The Myrrors couldn’t be doing anything else—and by continuing to forge their own path, it’s further proof that the band has never done anything less. Perhaps it’s not the word “victory” in the album’s title that should focus our attention; perhaps it’s the persistent, propulsive “until.”

“Organ Mantra” opens the album in an appropriately mystical manner, ten minutes of The Myrrors shining at their brightest, somehow exhibiting the grace and power of a freely flowing river. “Somos La Resistencia” follows at a fraction of the length, but with no reduction in impact, its declaration that “we are the lost that want truth” understandable in any language. “Tea House Music” and “El Aleph” follow, sister-songs in solidarity with the solidly transcendental terrain traveled on the album. The title track, at nearly fifteen minutes in length, ends the album on a high note – if by “high” you’re referring to the daily waking consciousness of, say, Neem Karoli Baba. Because it brings the album to a close, it’s unfair to call the song the album’s “centerpiece.” But it certainly stands as the album’s emotional and musical core – unrefined, unrestrained and unforgettable.

Throughout “Hasta La Victoria,” the band sounds utterly propelled by an invisible force, by the indelible impression that their actions – as a band, as artists, as people. Be here now or be here later, but there’s little doubt that The Myrrors will be continuing to pursue the path at whatever time you arrive. – Ryan Muldoon

https://www.facebook.com/themyrrors.az/
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http://themyrrors.bandcamp.com/
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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

grey-gallows-underlord

Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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Six Dumb Questions with Godhunter

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on June 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter codex narco lineup

As a basic matter of course, I respect the hell out of Godhunter guitarist David Rodgers. Originally based in Tucson, Arizona, and relocated to Washington, the six-stringer does admirable, passionate work not only in his own band, but in promoting the output of others like CHRCH, Methra, Rozamov and Fuzz Evil (among others) through his label, Battleground Records, and has helmed impossibly righteous festivals in the form of the Southwest Terror Fest, the Austin Terror Fest at SXSW and the Northwest Terror Fest, which is next week in Seattle with Coven and Cephalic Carnage at the top of the bill. He’s someone who pulls no punches in letting you know what he thinks and someone who backs up his beliefs with genuine, real-world effort. The only reason I’ve never interviewed him before in this space is because I was kind of worried he’d tell me to fuck off and call me a lightweight, as he’d be well within his rights to do to at least 90 percent of everybody.

The occasion this time, however, was too much to let slip. Last month, through Battleground and Baby Tooth Records, Godhunter released their latest EP, Codex Narco (review here), a bold and ranging piece of stylistic experimentation and atmospheric post-sludge that it basically took the group falling apart after a 2015 tour alongside Destroyer of Light (live review here) to come up with. With Rodgers, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Davis and drummer Andy Kratzenberg bringing in an array of guests including CHRCH vocalist Eva RoseJosh Thorne of Thorne on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams,” and Methra‘s Nick GenitalsDemon Lung‘s Adam Sage and Mountaineer‘s Clayton Bartholomew on the Tegan and Sara cover “Walking with a Ghost,” Godhunter construct a sound distinct from anything they’ve done before, whether it was on the 2015 Endsville split with Destroyer of Light (discussed here) or their 2014 LP, City of Dust (review here).

In the Q&A below, Rodgers describes the circumstances that brought Codex Narco to fruition and what the EP’s shift in sound may or may not mean for Godhunter going forward, as well as the possibility of future touring and the complexities of coordinating so many contributions outside the core members of the band. Thanks to him for taking the time when he’s no doubt swamped in Northwest Terror Fest business, and double-thanks for not telling me to fuck off, which again, he very easily could’ve done.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

godhunter codex narco

Six Dumb Questions with Godhunter

What happened to the band after the tour with Destroyer of Light in 2015? What was the lineup situation and how did you come to realize you wanted Godhunter to continue and in this form?

Well, the simplest explanation is that life happened. Life is never that simple though. So Matt had moved to Georgia before Endsville even came out, because he works for a huge tech company so they moved him out there and set him up with a house and such, so with his family that was a no-brainer for him. The Endsville sessions was the last time Matt was actually in the same studio or jam room with us. I moved to Washington State before Endsville was released as well, so things were already splintering before we left for that tour. We basically put together a tour set of songs that we could do without Matt, which was harder than it sounds because he plays on every song we’ve ever released except the very first Methra split.

When we got home from tour, both Dick and Jake had family stuff staring them in the face. Dick had a new baby, so it was time to get serious about being a dad and Jake got engaged and got a real job and just decided that touring wasn’t in the picture for him anymore. Let’s be serious here, touring is expensive as fuck and it breaks bands all the time. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to keep their life on track. So we all amicably decided that was the end of that formation of Godhunter.

A couple of months go by, and we (Matt and myself, but mostly Matt) had started working on a couple songs for Josh Thorne. Originally they were going to be Thorne releases, with us doing the programming and such. Matt is a fucking wizard at computers and has done remixes (he did an amazing one for Lament Cityscape) and such before, so it was right up his alley. Once the songs started developing though, we kind of fell in love with them. We started tweaking them here and there. More guitars here. More bass here. It got to a point where they started sounding like electronic Godhunter songs, which is when the proverbial lights came on and we realized we were writing Codex Narco.

It seems like the interludes could have come from studio experiments, but in terms of “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams,” how were those pieced together?

The writing process was very long, for us, because this was the first time we weren’t all in the same room writing together. We’ve never been a band that sends stuff to each other on the internet and shit. Always been more of a hands-on thing. But once we had a stable foundation for those two songs, we just started adding layers and depth using electronic drums and such until we had a “demo” version of them. That’s what we took to the studio and replaced everything electronic with real instruments. We re-amped all the guitars and bass as well.

Then while we were in the studio working on those two, we added all the other stuff around those two main songs. Andy (our drummer) is also in Methra with Nick, and they wrote the intro and outro songs and “Unarmed Combat” and recorded those parts while we were doing the drums and guitars on the other songs. We went into it with the idea of just recording a bunch of stuff we had and then piecing it together afterwards into the EP. I can’t say that we went into this recording process knowing exactly how everything would go. We really wanted to experiment and ignore a lot of the methods we had used on every release before this.

Tell me about assembling the lineup for Codex Narco, bringing in Josh Thorne and Nick Genitals and all the guest spots. When was the decision made to reach outside the core lineup of the band for contributions, what brought it on, and what went into it logistically in terms of making it happen?

This is where it gets really funny. At some point in the recording process, I picked up a serious Steely Dan habit. I have always loved that band, but for some reason I got reinterested and really dove into the band and some of their processes and was reading old interviews and such where they described how they would write the songs, but then get better musicians to play the parts on the album. Neither myself, Matt or Andy can sing like Eva or Josh can. And none of us can play bass anything like Adam does. We don’t have that ear to find those chimey post-rock chords and accents that Clay does. But what we can do is send each of them the songs and ask them to play on them, which is exactly what we did.

Reaching out was easy, as I’ve known Josh since he was a teenager, I grew up with Adam back in New York, Clay is one of my good friends and obviously Eva is on my record label. Nick was the first on board though, as he had already stepped into the bass position in the band, as at the time we were planning on doing some touring (more on that later though…) after the album release. Nick‘s always up for whatever crazy idea I give him anyway. From there it was just a matter of sending the individuals their parts and letting them record in their studios of choice. They sent us back the tracks, and we mixed them in. Pretty simple, all in all, just a timely process.

Where did the Tegan and Sara cover come from? Was there a particular reason that you picked “Walking with a Ghost” to take on?

We’ve always loved cover songs. We’ve covered The Beastie Boys and Nirvana in the past. Once we had the skeletons of this EP built, we needed one more song to round it out, so we figured a cover song would be good for that. For the longest time it was going to be “You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes. That song just has an amazing downbeat push to it that we felt would translate really well to our style and we may still do it one day for the fuck of it. I was just driving down to work one day listening to Tegan and Sara, and I was playing So Jealous, which is one of their older albums, and “Walking with a Ghost” came on and it was like lightning striking. I knew that was going to be the cover song.

I sent it to Matt, who was building all the sound beds in Georgia and I honestly thought he would veto it since we were already elbow deep in the Supremes song but he totally agreed and said it was the right choice so we went with it. It’s a goddamn perfect pop song and so incredibly catchy, so the guitar parts are done in our tunings, but played in the actual key of the song, so it still has a super poppy feel to it. Kinda pop-punkish. We actually had no idea who was going to do the vocals until really late in the game when the Methra album came out and when I heard Nick do the clean vocals on that album, I knew he had to do the vocals on “Walking with a Ghost.” Again, I thought he would say no, but he was totally into it. I love it when my band does whatever silly shit I come up with. Usually turns out fucking great, like this cover.

Codex Narco as a whole represents a pretty significant shift in sound for Godhunter. Do you see the band continuing down this path, or will future releases head elsewhere? Can you talk about what drove you to explore different textures in sound with this material, what inspired you emotionally and sonically?

You know, I have no idea at all what we will do next, to be honest. We’ve never really stuck to a script. Each release is somewhat different than the previous one and we’ve done some really out there stuff before. I know what we are working on right now, and it’s nothing like Codex Narco and nothing like anything previous to that. I think at this point in the band’s evolution, it’s really turned into a vanity project if you will. We’re going to write a lot of weird shit that we’ve always wanted to do and put it out under the Godhunter name because we’re such a small band that it’s not like we’re going to lose a huge fanbase. We’re going to put out stuff that we like. We hope people like it too. If not, cool, there are a lot of other bands out there.

As far as what drives us to explore new sounds, well, that’s just us. At every point of Godhunter it’s always been filled with people with wildly varying likes and tastes as far as music. The more influences you mix up, the weirder shit you end up with. Does the world really need another band trying to sound like Master of Reality or Blues for the Red Sun? In my opinion, the answer to that is fuck no. What we do need is more bands willing to stretch some boundaries and wear their musical heart on their sleeve and show us what they really care about. I know way too many dudes with huge beards and full sleeves and leather vests that love Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s okay, boys. Come to the dork side.

But to the point at hand, Codex Narco is FFO: Jan Hammer soundtracks, Killing Joke, Late-‘90s/early-2000s alt-pop.

Will Godhunter tour again in any form? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I really doubt Godhunter will tour again. We had a bunch of stuff lined up for this year, including a US tour and a couple festival appearances, but once we started adding up the costs of flying people to Tucson for rehearsals and extended absences from good jobs, reality struck and we all realized that this band is probably never going to make enough money for us to slog it out in a van anymore. We’re all really comfortable with where we are in life now too. So in that regard, Codex Narco is sort of an experiment for us. Can we release an album without touring and will people care? Jury is still out on that, but overall people seem stoked about the album so we’re not really feeling any pull to go back to old methods right now.

On a personal level, I run Battleground Records and because of that my outlook on touring has drastically changed over the last few years. I used to think that bands could release a good album, hit the road with it, and win the country over. I think that method is outdated now. The digital world has really changed everything. Now, I think you can release an album, then wait and see if it hits. If it does, and the money is there, then go out on tour without losing your ass on a whim. I think the days of bands coming home broke from tour should be over and if anyone is still doing that, you’re wasting your precious fucking time. Throw that shit on Bandcamp and send it to some blogs and if it’s worth it, you’ll know soon enough. If it doesn’t hit, go back and write something better. Does this mean less bands might be on tour? Yes, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing either.

Godhunter on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records on Bandcamp

Battleground Records website

Battleground Records on Twitter

Battleground Records on Instagram

Baby Tooth Records on Bandcamp

Baby Tooth Records on Thee Facebooks

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