Brant Bjork, Jacoozzi: Guerrilla Wonderland

Posted in Reviews on April 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork jacoozzi

Roll tape. Jam. Repeat. It’s not a new methodology by any means, but it still works, and one imagines the process becomes more complicated when there’s only one person involved. Fortunately for anyone who might find themselves immersed in the Heavy Psych Sounds-issued Jacoozzi, that one person is Brant Bjork, who plays all instruments throughout the release recorded in 2010. It was a productive era for Bjork in the studio and on the road, as the years immediately preceding had seen him touring with his then-band, Brant Bjork and the Bros., as well as putting out LPs at a steady clip like 2006’s serene, acoustic Tres Dias (reissue review here), 2007’s Somera Sól (discussed here) and 2008’s Punk Rock Guilt (though that was recorded in 2005) through his Low Desert Punk Records imprint, and the former Kyuss drummer was still a couple years off from putting his solo career aside to participate in the semi-reunion Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino circa 2011-2013. It would seem to have been during the making of what became 2010’s Gods and Goddesses (review here) that Bjork, apparently frustrated with how the material was coming together, scrapped everything and instead jammed out Jacoozzi with Tony Mason engineering for what has ended up as 10 tracks and 46 minutes of mostly-instrumentalist heavy chill mastery.

And like its cover art with an image of Bjork — ex-Kyuss as noted, also formerly of Fu Manchu and by 2010 already with no fewer than eight solo/bandleader full-lengths under his belt — staring directly at the camera, surrounded by an aura of muted shades like a ’70s wall hanging, Jacoozzi is about as dead-ahead and stripped-down as he’s ever gotten. As an entire work, it oozes vibe, and even the 44-second drum bed “Five Hundred Thousand Dollars” has a sleek groove, but it is definitely a collection of individual movements rather than something written as a single entity. It’s a different process of capturing the moment, then, not about bringing in a collection of pre-written songs and putting them down to establish an overarching feel, but getting there from another direction, piecing together jams one component at a time until finally a song like the mellow highlight “Black and White Wonderland” is built to where it needs to be.

That there are no vocals on the bulk of the material feels on one level like a missed opportunity at times — one imagines an improv rant over the tense wah guitar of “Oui” or a couple verses added to “Lost in Race” would’ve added to the effect rather than detracted from it — but it speaks to the circumstance in which the record was made and the fact that it likely wasn’t intended to be a record at all. It was Bjork expunging ideas in the studio, and getting stuff out of his head either as some kind of catharsis or to save and make into songs later before returning to work on Gods and Goddesses. Thus it is the nature of even the jazzy electric piano in “Mixed Nuts” or the cool-toned mood-setting in opener and longest track (immediate points) “Can’t Out Run the Sun” to be what they are and to feel like ideas waiting to be fleshed out. Jacoozzi isn’t a traditional Brant Bjork record, as much as that exists. At its core, it’s very much a drum album. The first element that enters on “Can’t Out Run the Sun” is a quiet tom progression, and “Mexico City Blues,” “Five Hundred Thousand Dollars” (which is only drums), “Oui,” and vocalized closer “Do You Love Your World?” all lead with drums one way or the other.

brant bjork

The only song that starts with guitar is the penultimate “Polarized,” which swells in with Hendrixian fuzz feedback before its slow ride cymbal backbeat takes hold and continues to wind its way forward in that fashion for all of its four minutes, with keys and bass and drums behind it. Other cuts like righteously on-the-beat “Guerrilla Funk” (premiered here) and the sleek “Mixed Nuts” and “Lost in Race” bring the drums and guitar, etc., in at the same time, but either way, it’s still drums at the foundation of the material, and that’s somewhat inevitable given how it was recorded, essentially constructed on top of improvised drum parts. Given an infinity of time, money and interest, might Bjork have turned all of these jams into full-fledged verse/chorus songs? I don’t know. Does it matter? Jacoozzi works as well as it does precisely because it’s not that, and it gives a different and heretofore largely unseen look at the process by which Bjork creates. It’s a single creative burst from nine years ago. One should not go into it expecting the same kind of fleshed-out songcraft as Bjork featured on last year’s Mankind Woman (review here), but if that bit of necessary context makes Jacoozzi a fan-piece, then the album is only an argument in favor of fandom.

Brant Bjork is no stranger to carrying a record on his own. The majority of his landmark 1999 solo debut Jalamanta (discussed here) was him alone, and certainly other outings along the way have been as well. Of those, it seems to make the most sense to liken Jacoozzi to Tres Dias. Not necessarily in terms of sound, but idea. Tres Dias was a mostly-unplugged collection of songs, some of which were older, some were newer, but all were given a new interpretation in a setting that was as intimate as possible. It was a rawer glimpse of Bjork‘s songwriting process than he’d given before. Jacoozzi functions to do much the same thing, but with a different target. “Do You Love Your World?” might be considered “finished,” but if Tres Dias was showcasing the songs, Jacoozzi is showcasing the jams that birthed them. And while Bjork has done plenty of jamming on recent albums, there’s never been a work so purely based around the idea, and that makes Jacoozzi all the more special of a moment to have been caught on tape, and after being shelved for nine years, its arrival is as welcome as it was awaited. It may be an aside, or a kind of footnote in Bjork‘s ongoing creative progression, but damn is it listenable.

Brant Bjork, Jacoozzi (2019)

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Brant Bjork Announces June & July European Tour Dates; Playing Freak Valley & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Earlier this week, Brant Bjork posted a clip of 2018 European tour highlights that, if you didn’t already want to see Brant Bjork — ah screw it, what am I thinking, of course you did. But the point is it looks like the shows were a blast. All the better timing, then that Bjork and company have a new round of Euro dates on deck, including numerous festival stops beginning with Freak Valley in Germany and wrapping up with Resurrection Fest in Spain on July 4. They’ll be in Belgium, the UK, Greece, Switzerland and Austria as well, so not exactly a minor bit of running around for a 14-show run, but if the video is anything to go by, it’ll be plenty groovy, and maybe even in slow motion!

Brant Bjork is of course about to release the awaited Jacoozzi collection of instrumentals on April 12 — you can hear “Guerrilla Funk” below — through Heavy Psych Sounds after making his debut on the label with Mankind Woman (review here) last year. He’ll once again have Sean Wheeler on the road as he did last time around and on the record.

Sound of Liberation has the dates thusly:

brant bjork tour

We’re glad to tell you that Brant Bjork will be back in Europe in June/July, with special guest Sean Wheeler, as follows:

19.06.19 – Nuremberg | Hirsch (DE)
20.06.19 – Netphen | Freak Valley Festival (DE)
21.06.19 – Nijmegen | Doornrosje (NL)
22.06.19 – Tunbridge Wells | Black Deer Festival (UK)
23.06.19 – Izel | La Fete De La Musique (BE)
24.06.19 – Aachen | Musikbunker (DE)
25.06.19 – Darmstadt | Centralstation (DE)
26.06.19 – Hannover | Musikzentrum (DE)
27.06.19 – Saarbrücken | Garage (DE)
28.06.19 – Düdingen | Bad Bonn (CH)
29.06.19 – Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
30.06.19 – Korinthos | Under The Sun Festival (GR)
02.07.19 – Thessaloniki | Eightball Club (GR)
04.07.19 – Viveiro | Resurrection Festival (ES)

Brant is still promoting his 13th solo album, “Mankind Woman”, which will was released via Heavy Psych Sounds in September.

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Brant Bjork, 2018 EU Tour Highlights

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Stoned and Dusted Announces Full Lineup; Party in the Desert

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stoned and dusted banner

There wasn’t really any doubt, but it’s nice to have confirmation that the lineup for Stoned and Dusted is awesome. So there you have Melvins, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork, King Buffalo, Yawning Man, Acid King, Black Mountain, Lo-Pan, REZN, BigPig, Del-Toros, Sgt. Papers and, oh yeah, Radio Moscow for a bit of the ultra-boogie. I was having a conversation not so long ago with an artist who played last year and was talking about how the sound guy was indeed spaced way the hell out, so when you look at the poster and see “Sound Guy on Acid” listed above the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, you should know they may be speaking literally. No doubt that will only add to the one-of-a-kind experience of the desert’s own heavy party.

The lineup speaks for itself, so I’ll spare you the get-there-if-you-can-get-there rant and just drop the ticket link here for your purchasing and travel planning. There’s also a Spotify playlist below that, while I imagine you’re well familiar with the bulk of these acts, is no less welcome for that, as far as I’m concerned.

Dig:

Stoned and Dusted 2019

The California Desert Wizards Association will hold its second annual members’ gathering on May 25 & 26th, 2019 in the Southern California Mojave Desert, USA.

Total radness on Memorial Day weekend!

On Saturday May 25th we are doing it up at Pappy & Harriet’s, our favorite desert roadhouse and one of the world’s coolest music venues. Get ready for an outside show under the desert skies with Melvins, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork, REZN, (Big) Pig, and lights by the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show.

Our desert party is back and it’s going down on May 26th at a secret location near Joshua Tree, CA with Black Mountain, Acid King, Radio Moscow, Yawning Man (Official), King Buffalo, Lo-Pan, Sgt. Papers, Del-Toros, and the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show.
Limited tickets available, get yours now!

https://cdwa.ticketleap.com/2019-stoned-and-dusted

Poster by Branca Studio
photo by Sam Grant.

Big thanks to Pizza Del Perro Negro and TIMEWARP MUSIC!!

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Brant Bjork, Groundhogs, Child, Yawning Man and More Playing Black Deer Festival in London

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

black deer desertscene banner

Desertscene in London — the same good people who put together Desertfest there and have worked to bring it to New York as well — have paired up with the country/Americana/blues Black Deer Festival to present a stage called The Roadhouse that’ll have custom motorcycles hanging around, camping and a lineup that’s pretty kickass front to back. It’s not exactly like they’re sneaking into the bill, but you’ve got Yawning ManAsteroidBrant Bjork and Groundhogs and King Buffalo and Radio Moscow and Duel and Steak and Child and so on bringing their wares to Edridge Park in Kent and it seems to me you could do a hell of a lot worse than kind of having a mini-Desertfest built into another festival. That’s how you reach a broader audience, by playing for people who maybe haven’t already heard you. Seems likely a few heads will be turned across the three-day event.

The PR wire has info:

black deer fest poster

BLACK DEER FESTIVAL REVEAL MORE NAMES FOR 2019

Another round of carefully curated names have been added to the Black Deer Festival lineup today, making for an impressive second year for the award-winning new event. The three-day celebration of Americana and Country, set in the beautiful Eridge Park in Kent, presents a unique experience combining music, food and Americana culture that can’t be found anywhere else in the UK.

Brant Bjork, the member of two of the most influential 90’s stoner rock bands Kyuss and Fu Manchu, whose desert rock and roots style will resonate from The Roadhouse stage in June. Brant Bjork joins the all American heavy blues contingent of previously announced Left Lane Cruiser, Radio Moscow and The Roadhouse ‘house band’ Steak – all curated by Desertscene for Black Deer.

Completing today’s line up is British blues rock band Groundhogs, who are best known for their 70’s single Cherry Red – a name adopted by one of Britain’s longest standing independent record labels – as well as heavy psych-blues trio King Buffalo, Australian blues-rockers Child, 60’s psychedelic songwriter Roxanne De Bastion, California’s experimental rockers Yawning Man, Country preacher Paul Cauthen, larger than life boatman and bluesman Sonic Gypsy and Hertfordshire’s rock band Redwood.

ARTISTS ANNOUNCED TO DATE (A-Z)
Asteroid, Band of Horses, Brant Bjork, Chance McCoy, Child, Daniel Antopolsky, Duel, Fantastic Negrito, Ferris & Sylvester, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Groundhogs, Hayseed Dixie, Irish Mythen, Jerron Blind Boy Paxton, John Butler Trio, John Smith, Justin Townes Earle, King Buffalo, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, Larkin Poe, Left Lane Cruiser, Lucero, Martin Harley, Morganway, Mountains, Neko Case, Paul Cauthen, Radio Moscow, Redwood, Roxanne De Bastion, Ryan Bingham, Sonic Gypsy, Steak, Stubb, The Black Wizards, The Dead South, The Marcus King Band, The Mavericks, The Sheepdogs, The Staves, The Vintage Caravan, The Wandering Hearts, The Trials of Cato, William Crighton, Worry Dolls, Yawning Man.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tier 1 tickets on sale now and are available from https://blackdeerfestival.com/tickets/
Ticket prices from £105 – subject to booking fees.

Tier 2 tickets will be on sale from 26th February.

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King Buffalo, “Longing to be the Mountain” live in Philadelphia, Nov. 3, 2018

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Brant Bjork Premieres “Guerrilla Funk” from Jacoozzi LP; Preorders Available Today

Posted in audiObelisk on January 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork (Photo Aija Svensson)

Brant Bjork beaming in a nine-year-old seven-minute instrumental jam? Well, around here that’s what we call a good day. The Dude of Dudes will issue Jacoozzi on April 5 through Heavy Psych Sounds, and while his work over the course of this decade — let’s say, across the post-Vista Chino solo-ish records: 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) and 2018’s Mankind Woman (review here) — has seen him increasingly become an ambassador to earth from the California desert and an arbiter of unmatched cool, nine years ago, as he headed toward the release of Gods and Goddesses (review here) coming off the release of the earlier-recorded Punk Rock Guilt in 2008 and 2007’s Somera Sól (discussed here) before that, it seems in hindsight there were a couple different competing impulses happening in his sound. Of course, his signature approach is mellow heavy, smooth, funky, and melodic, at once punk and soul and based around that inimitable desert groove that’s audible as well in the track “Guerrilla Funk” below, but at the time, Bjork was coming off working as bandleader for Brant Bjork and the Bros. and as his style got clearer and fuller in production across the 2007 and eventual 2010 outings, it seems it wasn’t always easy getting there.

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that Bjork got tired one day of ramming his head into the studio wall, rolled tape and brant bjork jacoozzijust jammed his way to what became Jacoozzi. Actual history is always a little more complex than that, but what a great image that is. Classic. Guy’s making a record, not feeling it, and just let’s loose and produces something raw and honest, and as you can hear in “Guerrilla Funk,” it could hardly be more his own if he was actually singing on it. I don’t know how well “Guerrilla Funk” ultimately represents Jacoozzi, since it’s all I’ve heard from the long-rumored, long-awaited offering, but it represents the context of its making beautifully, and seriously, if all 10 tracks included are seven-minute instrumental jams and it turns out to be well over an hour of Brant Bjork just grooving out, it’ll probably be my most-listened-to album this year. Again, I don’t know that that’s what it is, I’m just exploring the possibility.

Either way, you can hear in “Guerrilla Funk” the roots of how Jacoozzi was put together. It’s got a strong backbeat as the foundation and then is built up from there as Bjork jams out guitar, bass and percussion on top of that. Simple enough idea, but Bjork‘s ability to play as a one-man band is highlighted by the completeness of sound here. In the second half of the song, as he moves to a wash on the ride cymbal and the percussion gets more complex, he follows the change on guitar and bass and everything seems to surge forward for a bit before it recedes back into the core bounce of the track. It’s hypnotic to some degree, but most of all it’s funked out, and it gives a better sense of Bjork‘s root songwriting process than just about anything since 2006’s mostly-acoustic Tres Dias (reissue review here), showcasing a genuine exploration of ideas as they happen and the satisfying, engaging results that can yield. It’s worth noting again that, after putting Jacoozzi to tape and resting it on the shelf to be mentioned casually in interviews for years afterward, Brant Bjork went on over the course of this decade to make himself desert rock’s most indispensable purveyor. So, you know, clearly getting it out of his system before moving on was the right call.

Maybe it’s fan-piece, but whatever, I’m a fan, so I’ll take it. I’ll hope to have more once the rest of Jacoozzi shows up hopefully sometime before April, but in the meantime, get your finest boogie footwear on and have at it with “Guerrilla Funk” on the player below, followed by more info off the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Joshua Tree, California, 2010: Brant Bjork has just started to record another solo record. About 4 days into the sessions, the desert rock king decided to abandon the 8 songs he was working on, and told his long time friend and engineer, Tony Mason, to start rolling tape and Brant proceeded to play drums in his natural improv style. After multiple drum track performances were recorded, Brant started layering guitars, bass and percussion in the same improvisational spirit. The former Fu-Manchu and Kyuss-legend essentially decided to “jam” by himself and for the rest of his scheduled sessions.

When the recording session had come to an end, Brant put the 8 unfinished tracks on the shelf as well as his “solo jam session” tracks. “I was much more content with the “jam” tracks as it was a creative release that was needed at that time.“ he says. “I decided to call the collective tracks, Jacoozzi. At the time, it reminded me of the feeling of my first solo recording sessions for my first solo release, Jalamanta….only more “free”.“

BRANT BJORK New album “Jacoozzi”
Out April 5th on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
– Vinyl and CD preorder available: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS097

Brant Bjork – Keep Your Cool reissue preorder: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS098

The ‘Jacoozzi’ tracklist reads as follows:
1. Can’t Out Run The Sun
2. Guerrilla Funk
3. Mexico City Blues
4. Five Hundred Thousand Dollars
5. Black & White Wonderland
6. Oui
7. Mixed Nuts
8. Lost In Race
9. Polarized
10. Do You Love Your World?

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Brant Bjork to Reissue Keep Your Cool April 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

True, we’re just days removed from the announcement that Brant Bjork will issue his long-awaited Jacoozzi album — recorded in 2010 — on April 5, but if you think about it, that there would be a reissue so close to a new offering is consistent with how Heavy Psych Sounds last year handled the arrival of the new studio album Mankind Woman (review here) and the reissues of Local Angel and Tres Dias (both reviewed here) that ran concurrent. Everything seems to be going according to plan. At least somebody’s plan. Hey though, really? If you think I mind writing about two forthcoming Brant Bjork releases in the same week, you are sorely mistaken. And a new edition of Keep Your Cool? To me, that just sounds like a reason to pick up a new edition of Keep Your Cool. Because it exists.

Revamped cover art and PR wire details follow:

brant bjork keep your cool

*** BRANT BJORK – KEEP YOUR COOL (remastered) ***

Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking is really stoked to unveil details and artwork of HPS 098

With ‘Tres Dias’ and ‘Local Angel’, which came out in the Fall of 2018, alongside BRANT BJORK’s latest solo album ‘Mankind Woman’, HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS has just announced to release BRANT BJORK’s hotly anticipated ‘Jacoozzi’ in early April 2019. An album that has already been recorded in an intense jam back in 2010, but never seen the light of day before.

And since we can never get enough of a good BRANT BJORK news, today HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS has proudly announced to continue with the desert rock king’s back catalogue and will reissue a remastered version of BRANT BJORK’s pathbreaking masterpiece ‘KEEP YOUR COOL’ !!!

‘Keep Your Cool’ is the third solo album by the Kyuss- and Fu Manchu-legend, originally released back in 2003 with Duna Records. Full of the soul and funky laid-back grooves BRANT BJORK is known and loved for, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and sweet guitar licks oozing from the great 70’s era vibes, ‘Keep Your Cool’ is still considered as one of BRANT BJORK’s accessible and catchiest records to date. Tracks such as ‘Hey, Monkey Boy’, ‘Johnny Called’ or ‘Gonna Make The Scene’ became classics in the stoner rock scene, taken from an album that belongs to every well-sorted BRANT BJORK record collection.

RELEASE DATE:
April 12th
PRESALE STARTS:
January 31st

AVAILABLE IN:
40 TEST PRESS
250 ULTRA LTD CLEAR BLUE VINYL
600 LTD WHITE SOLID MARBLED BLUE DARK BLUE- CLEAR SILVER VINYL
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK
DIGITAL

TRACKLIST
1. Hey, Monkey Boy
2. Johnny Called
3. Rock-N-Rol’e
4. I Miss My Chick
5. Keep Your Cool
6. Gonna Make the Scene
7. Searchin
8. My Soul

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Brant Bjork, Keep Your Cool (2003)

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Brant Bjork to Release Jacoozzi April 5; Preorders Jan. 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Word has kicked around for a while of Brant Bjork‘s jam-ified solo release Jacoozzi — releases rumored at various times and in various spellings of a funky, soulful outing Bjork recorded all on his own in 2010. He spoke about it here in 2016, for example. Well, the alliance with Heavy Psych Sounds that produced the excellent Mankind Woman (review here) last year as well as a series of reissues digital and physical will continue with the awaited arrival of Jacoozzi on April 5. Sign me up. Simple as that. The picture the PR wire paints below of Bjork scrapping whatever he was working on at the time and building up tracks off the cuff by jamming out drums and then adding parts on top? Pretty much ideal. Plus, it’s got a Brant Bjork song called “Guerilla Funk.” There’s no way on earth that’s anything less than righteous.

Speaking of righteousness, you can see the album art below, which I think speaks for itself in that regard. Other details and whatnot follow:

brant bjork jacoozzi

BRANT BJORK to release new solo album “Jacoozzi” on April 5th via Heavy Psych Sounds Records

After the huge success of his latest, thirteenth solo-record ‘Mankind Woman’, which landed on numerous Best-Of lists in 2018, HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS is proud to release the upcoming new album by desert rock titan BRANT BJORK! ‘Jacoozzi’ has already been captured on tape at a jam session back in 2010, but the tracks never made it on any of Brant Bjork’s solo albums to date. This Spring, April 5th 2019, will finally see ‘Jacoozzi’ to be released with Heavy Psych Sounds!

Joshua Tree, California, 2010: Brant Bjork has just started to record another solo record. About 4 days into the sessions, the desert rock king decided to abandon the 8 songs he was working on, and told his long time friend and engineer, Tony Mason, to start rolling tape and Brant proceeded to play drums in his natural improv style. After multiple drum track performances were recorded, Brant started layering guitars, bass and percussion in the same improvisational spirit. The former Fu-Manchu and Kyuss-legend essentially decided to “jam” by himself and for the rest of his scheduled sessions.

When the recording session had come to an end, Brant put the 8 unfinished tracks on the shelf as well as his “solo jam session” tracks. “I was much more content with the “jam” tracks as it was a creative release that was needed at that time.“ he says. “I decided to call the collective tracks, Jacoozzi. At the time, it reminded me of the feeling of my first solo recording sessions for my first solo release, Jalamanta….only more “free”.“

At that time in 2010, Brant had no formal plans to release any of the music from those sessions….’Jacoozzi’ included. Almost a decade later, Heavy Psych Sounds Records is stoked to finally release this special trip of a Brant Bjork jam!

“After 8 years in the waiting, it’s nice to finally have this recording I call Jacoozzi released.“ Brant Bjork comments. “I feel that the fans of my work will enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed performing and recording it.”

BRANT BJORK New album “Jacoozzi”
Out April 5th on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
– Vinyl and CD preorder available on January 31st –

The ‘Jacoozzi’ tracklist reads as follows:
1. Can’t Out Run The Sun
2. Guerrilla Funk
3. Mexico City Blues
4. Five Hundred Thousand Dollars
5. Black & White Wonderland
6. Oui
7. Mixed Nuts
8. Lost In Race
9. Polarized
10. Do You Love Your World?

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Brant Bjork, “Chocolatize” official video

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The Top 20 of 2018 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

derp

If you’re reading this, congratulations on making it all the way through the existential rollercoaster that was 2018.

I hope you celebrated that year’s end and this year’s beginning in riotous fashion if that’s your thing, and if you’re more the stay-at-home-and-don’t-break-stuff type, I hope that was fun too.

Over the last month, best-of lists have been collected from all around the world and as we move into 2019, it’s time to do the results of the Year-End Poll for 2018.

What a year. As I look back on the lists submitted, of course I can’t help but think how absolutely incredible 2018 was for music. With the world crumbling around, creativity surged, and the quality of output was off the charts. I published my own list last week and was quickly inundated with stuff I forgot or that I missed owing to being robbed earlier this year — I guess I didn’t even realize until the post went up just how much that screwed me — and I’m sure there’s more still out there from what everyone turned in. It’s infinite. It keeps going. Trends change. Sounds change. People change. Creativity flourishes.

But I think if you’re reading this, you know why we’re here. We wound up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 discrete releases submitted. That’s more than five for every day of the year. And they came from 547 people, which is amazing. Accordingly, there should be plenty here to keep you busy for a while.

Not exactly suspenseful as to which was the album of the year, but it’s still interesting to see where stuff landed. Just to remind, there are two lists, one of the raw votes, and one in which a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. Thanks as always to Slevin for the help in setting up the back end functionality and compilation scripts.

Let’s go:

Top 20 of 2018 — Weighted Results

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (1,087 points)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (721)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (478)
4. Earthless, Black Heaven (413)
5. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (408)
6. Windhand, Eternal Return (387)
7. All Them Witches, ATW (373)
8. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (354)
9. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (323)
10. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (315)
11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (285)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (274)
13. Graveyard, Peace (225)
14. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (222)
15. Weedpecker, III (212)
16. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (197)
17. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (189)
18. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (188)
19. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (167)
20. ASG, Survive Sunrise (164)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (150)
Gozu, Equilibrium (148)
Judas Priest, Firepower (148)
Naxatras, III (148)
Forming the Void, Rift (146)

I’m not saying everyone had to love the Sleep record, but there’s no way it wasn’t the biggest underground heavy release of the year. That top spot was established the first day the poll went up and while YOB caught up as both neared 100 votes, there was no doubt how it would ultimately shake out. It was pretty clear early on what people were passionate about, but there are some interesting differences between the raw vote and the weighted results even high on the list, as you’ll see below.

Top 20 of 2018 — Raw Votes

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (263 votes)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (185)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (141)
4. Windhand, Eternal Return (115)
5. Earthless, Black Heaven (109)
6. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (102)
7. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (101)
8. All Them Witches, ATW (95)
8. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (95)
9. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (93)
10. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (77)
10. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (77)
11. Graveyard, Peace (69)
12. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (67)
13. Weedpecker, III (63)
14. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (57)
14. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (57)
15. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (54)
16. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (50)
17. ASG, Survive Sunrise (48)
18. Gozu, Equilibrium (46)
19. Forming the Void, Rift (45)
20. Judas Priest, Firepower (43)
20. Khemmis, Bloodletting (43)
20. Mos Generator, Shadowlands (43)
20. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back (43)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (41)
Domkraft, Flood (40)
Naxatras, III (40)
Thou, Magus (40)

Everything else got fewer than 40 raw votes. Why cap it at 40? I don’t know. Good a place as any. And when a top 20 has 26 releases on it, I don’t imagine there will be too many complaints about not enough stuff being included. One can hope, anyhow. You can see the difference between Sleep and everyone else here as well, a pretty precipitous drop after both them and YOB, and YOB and High on Fire — the top three being well ahead of everyone else in terms of general agreement.

The ‘Respect the Hustle’ Award

Somewhere around the middle of the month, I noticed a massive surge of votes for a band called Entropía and their debut album, Invisible. A bunch of people with lists of 20 just including Entropía. I’ve included them below, you can see them. I didn’t know what was up, whether it was the band spamming the vote or what, so I sent them a message. Turns out they had sent the link to their email list and asked for votes, and that’s how they all got in. Well, okay.

They wound up with well over 750 raw votes (to remind, Sleep got 263), and it didn’t feel representative to have them be album of the year, but hey, I respect the hustle, so they get the award accordingly. Nicely done, folks. I’ve been doing Year-End Polls since like 2010 and that’s never happened before. Their totals were 2,367 points and 777 votes.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading. Whether this is the only post you’ve seen this year or you click ‘Like’ on everything that comes across your Facebook feed, your support is tremendously appreciated. This is the only post that will go up today, but we’ll be back to business as usual tomorrow, and in the meantime, you’ll find everybody’s list included after the jump.

All the best for 2019.

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