Brant Bjork Signs to Heavy Psych Sounds for Reissues & New Music; Headlining Stoned & Dusted in May

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

BB and HPS Agreement Announcement Image-700

One really, really hates to use corporate newspeak buzzwords like ‘gamechanger,’ but this is a pretty big deal. After three releases on Napalm Records —  2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) and 2017’s Europe ’16 (review here) live LP — desert rock pioneer Brant Bjork has inked a deal with Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds.

While it’s not necessarily surprising Bjork would go with another European imprint following the end of his term with Napalm, which is based in Austria, he steps into position as the most recognizable figure on Heavy Psych Sounds and arguably the label’s biggest act. His back catalog from 1999’s Jalamanta (discussed here) through 2010’s Gods and Goddesses (review here) will be reissued as part of the deal, and Bjork will move forward with new releases as well, including the long awaited Jakoozzi album that’s been talked about for years.

I had the pleasure of writing the announcement below, so please check it out and get yourself informed. No timetable yet so far as I know on the reissues, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t start to surface by the end of the year. I wonder if they’ll go in order.

From my keyboard to the PR wire and back again:

brant bjork signing

Brant Bjork Signs to Heavy Psych Sounds

New Album Coming Soon; Back Catalogue to be Reissued; Jakoozzi to Finally See Release

In a union born of a meeting in the desert night, Heavy Psych Sounds could not be prouder to announce the signing of desert rock legend Brant Bjork to its ever-growing roster. Starting immediately, the entire Brant Bjork discography from 1999-2010 is available through the label’s digital platforms: iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Bandcamp, Deezer, and more.

As a founding member of and a main songwriter in Kyuss, Brant Bjork is a pivotal figure in desert rock. His time on drums in Fu Manchu only solidified his position, and when he released his first solo album, Jalamanta, in 1999, he brought new elements of soul to the style and crafted a sound all his own that he continues to develop to this day.

In 2014, Bjork formed the Low Desert Punk Band and released two albums, Black Power Flower (2014) and Tao of the Devil (2016), as well as a live album on Napalm Records. In signing to Heavy Psych Sounds, his much-anticipated collection of funk-influenced material, Jakoozzi, will at long last be released, and the man himself will set to work on his next studio LP.

“Super psyched to sign with Heavy Psych Sounds Records,” enthuses Bjork. “I’m looking forward to making brand new rock, re-releasing my catalog and the long-awaited Jakoozzi album. Most definitely, Heavy Psych Sounds Records are the people to help me do this. I met Gabriele when Black Rainbows supported us in 2016, and then we had him come to the desert to play Desert Generator. Good guy doing good things for rock and roll. Right on.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Brant Bjork,” affirms label head Gabriele Fiori. “Bringing in Brant Bjork is a desert rock dream come true and we can’t wait to help expose a whole new generation to his previous releases and work together for a long time to come on new music as well! Brant will be our top artist and we are looking to work hard with him to bring his music around the globe!”

Brant Bjork — along with his partners Mario Lalli and manager Ryan Jones — are throwing a generator party called Stoned and Dusted which will take place at a secret desert location in Joshua Tree, CA, on May 26 and 27. Brant will headline the event alongside The Obsessed, Nebula, Yawning Man, and many more. Stay tuned for more news from Brant Bjork and Heavy Psych Sounds in the coming weeks and months.

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial
https://www.instagram.com/brant_bjork
https://twitter.com/brant_bjork
http://www.brantbjork.com
http://www.stonedanddusted.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Brant Bjork, Live at Desert Generator 2017

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Friday Full-Length: Brant Bjork and the Bros., Somera Sól

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Never mind what he’s brought to the genre in Kyuss, Fu Manchu, the early Desert Sessions or his brief time in Fatso Jetson, Brant Bjork‘s greatest contributions have been in his solo catalog. From his now-classic 1999 debut Jalamanta (discussed here) through 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), he’s developed an inimitable yet highly influential style that’s become synonymous with desert rock itself. I’ve called him the “godfather of desert groove” so many times at this point my brain hurts from it, but that’s what he is, and of all the former members of Kyuss, I don’t think any of them have done so much to set the course for the aesthetic as Bjork, whatever level of commercial success they may have attained.

There are a couple different ways to look at 2007’s Somera Sól. Bjork has both composed and performed albums entirely on his own and worked with a variety of other players over the course of the last 19 years. Somera Sól was his second and final outing with Brant Bjork and the Bros., and it reunited him with drummer Alfredo Hernandez — the two had previously worked together in the short-lived trio Ché — boasted guest appearances from Olive LalliSean Wheeler on “Freaks of Nature” and Mario Lalli and Vince Meghrouni of Fatso Jetson on funk-fortified closer “Blood in the Gallery” and the penultimate “Lion Wings,” respectively, featured bassist Dylan Roche and guitarist Cortez, production from Mathias Schneeberger, and took a more forward tack than much of what Bjork had overseen in the years prior. To wit, the previous outing with The Bros. behind him, 2005’s Saved by Magic, was a 2CD that, like nearly all 2CD releases, probably would’ve been better served being split up into an actual pair of albums, and while Somera Sól would be his final offering in that incarnation, his interest in playing in a band — the 2002 LP from Brant Bjork and the Operators hadn’t actually featured a full group of players, but after his run with the semi-Kyuss reunion Vista Chino in 2013, he’d form Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band — has always come and gone.

But one might look at Somera Sól as the capstone of this particular era of Bjork‘s “solo” career. The end of The Bros., and it’s a hell of a way to go out, with hooks like “Love is Revolution,” “Freaks of Nature,” “Shrine Communications” and so on. But at the same time, Somera Sól was also a distinct shift in sound for Bjork in general. Or at very least in presentation. I always have a hard time thinking of it outside the context of the immediately preceding 2007 release Tres Dias, which was essentially comprised of solo acoustic recordings of songs new and older — it opened with “Too Many Chiefs” from Jalamanta — and gave an intimate, folkish, sometimes protest-song manifestation to material that would wind up later the same year on Somera Sól like “Love is Revolution,” “Chinarosa” and “The Native Tongue,” making the two records complementary in a way despite a vastly different context of volume and arrangement. But not only was Somera Sól full-on in terms of the complete band (and then some) at work, it was also a marked shift in production method, and cleaner-sounding than anything Bjork had produced up to that point.

This gets to to the heart of where Somera Sól lies and what Somera Sól signifies in the Brant Bjork catalog. More than a complement for Tres Dias and more than the end of the Bros. era, it’s the record that brought the full maturity of Bjork‘s approach to light for the first time. It was clear-sounding, clean-sounding. Its tones still had that laid back spirit and some telltale fuzz — “The Native Tongue” walks by and waves — but the way those came through as part of the listening experience was more professionalized, reaching out to a broader audience than records like 2003’s Keep Your Cool or 2004’s Local Angel (discussed here) could have with their rougher sound. After 2008’s somewhat reactionary Punk Rock Guilt, which was comprised of earlier recordings, it’s a method Bjork would keep to on 2010’s Gods and Goddesses (review here), and when he returned to solo work following the stint with Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino — whose 2013 album, Peace (review here), I’ll still argue is worthy of a follow-up, especially with C.O.C.‘s Mike Dean on bass — he formed the already-noted Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band and released 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) as a predecessor to Tao of the Devil and last year’s Europe ’16 (review here) live offering. Looking back over the last 11 years of his output, Somera Sól seems to be the epicenter from which much of it emanates.

Even if it wasn’t such a choice display of songwriting or characteristic performance on the part of Bjork himself — has the dude ever sounded more like the dude than he does on “Ultimate Kickback” or “Love is Revolution?” — Somera Sól was/is a special moment in Brant Bjork‘s discography, and whether you picked up on his stuff before or after or if this is the first time you’ve ever heard anything he’s done as a solo artist, there’s no question it’s a standout moment and a defining statement of intent that continues to resonate in his work more than a decade later.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

So I went to another doctor last Friday. My two favorite lines from the entire experience? 1: “Well I don’t think you’re going to throw a clot.” Please. My life should be so interesting. 2: “You can put your undies back on.” I had no idea “undies” was a medical term. The EKG was normal, there’s no fluid around my lungs, she gave me a new pill for all the swelling that seems to be taking some of it down — I guess you’d mark it a win. Plus, she’s even further away than my regular primary care physician, so, bonus! I just love travel. Especially in Boston traffic. Best drivers.

I nonetheless spent a goodly portion of this week in a miserable daze. Seriously. Only reason I even knew today was Friday was because I had it in my notes that I needed to do this post. If I look at the calendar again and see it’s Wednesday or something I’m going to feel like a real ass.

You want to hear a nice story that’s not about me hating myself? Yesterday I took The Pecan to a record store. We were headed to the farm in Rhode Island to pick up some chicken — because you’re fucking right I drive an hour to buy chicken, and yes, I buy in bulk — and I wanted to pick up the new Judas Priest and Monster Magnet records, so I looked up where the nearest Newbury Comics — a New England institution no less than Samuel Adams, “local fahkin’ spoahts, khed” and yelling epithets at people out your car window as you pass by — was and hit the mall. I carried the baby in and perused the rock and metal sections for a while, grabbed the Priest, which was on sale. Turned out the Magnet doesn’t arrive until next week — you’d think I’d know that, right? — but I got that new Jimi Hendrix collection because, well, new Jimi Hendrix collection, and it was a good time. The baby was down for being carried around, as he has been of late to the point of screaming like fucking mad every time you put him in one of his 15 chairs, and I haven’t listened to the Hendrix yet — it’s on the agenda for today if I can ever stop putting the new Grayceon on repeat — but the first half of the Priest record rules and that’s good enough for me. It was a nice trip. Then The Pecan and I walked past Victoria’s Secret and I explained to him the importance of respecting your partner’s choices when it comes to “undies” and whatever else. The two middle-aged ladies walking for exercise in the mall were confused as hell as they went the other way by us as we walked, but they smiled anyway, because he’s a baby and that’s what people are biologically programmed to do.

So yeah, yesterday turned out alright. Also did some grocery shopping, which is pretty much standard at this point, though both buying and consuming food kind of disgusts me and there’s like this whole self-punishment aspect I’ve developed to this “refeeding” thing. I spent a lot of time this week wishing I had died when I was (apparently) starving myself. A lot. Oh well. Better luck next time. “I don’t think you’re going to throw a clot.”

As I’ve told everyone — doctors, therapist, nutritionist, my wife, even my father yesterday on the phone — if I was going to kill myself, I’d have done it by now.

The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan are off to town (to Boston, that is) today to be human beings for a while. I’m staying home, essentially to not. I have writing to do which in all likelihood I’ll blow off either to sleep or to read or to watch baseball — or all of them — while trying not to think about food or how swollen my legs still are or whatever. While I keep on keeping on, essentially, and keep listening to the new Grayceon, which fucking rules.

I’m also going to make nut butter in just a little bit. It’s about quarter to six in the morning as I write this. Hi. I’m out of my fucking mind. This time’s blend: Salted and unsalted peanuts, salted and unsalted cashews, salted macadamia nuts. Maybe some almonds if there’s room in the food processor. We’ll see. The race is on though because I expect any minute now to get the call to go upstairs and change the baby’s diaper.

Here’s what’s up for next week, subject to change blah blah blah:

Mon.: Maybe an Aeonian Sorrow review/premiere? Not sure.
Tue.: Mouth review/stream.
Wed.: Ruff Majik premiere.
Thu.: Rattlesnake premiere.
Fri.: Robespierre premiere.

There’s videos and news and such as well, I’m just not there yet on organization. I’ll figure it out. I have some other writing to do this weekend anyway — a new bio for Kings Destroy and a big announcement for Heavy Psych Sounds — so I’ll be on the laptop one way or another.

And if you’re wondering, the next Quarterly Review begins Monday, April 2.

Please have a great and safe weekend. Like I said, I’ll be around writing and likely on the social medias as well, so feel free to say hi. And please don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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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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Here are 40+ New Releases to Look for in the Next Three Weeks

Posted in Features on September 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Starting tomorrow, the next three weeks are absolutely stupid with new albums. Over-the-top, ridiculous. An immediately-go-broke amount of music. Nothing less than an onslaught. We’re under attack.

Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money — also far be it from me not to — but there’s some really killer stuff in here. As to why it’s all landing now? Some of it of course has to do with the timing of when it was recorded, bands hitting the studio in Spring before heading out on the road over the summer, but Fall releases also line up nicely for tours in October and November, heading into the holiday season, when the music industry basically shuts down. This is the last chance for releases to come out in 2017 and be considered for best-of-year lists.

I doubt the likes of Chelsea Wolfe or Godspeed You! Black Emperor or even Kadavar would cop to that as a motivating factor, instead pointing to the timing of Fall touring and so on, but these things are rarely coincidental. You know how there aren’t any blockbusters in January but every movie feels like it’s trying to win an Oscar? Same kind of deal.

Nonetheless, 2017 is laying it on particularly thick these next couple weeks, and as you can see in the lists below, if you’ve got cash to spend, you can pretty much choose your rock and roll adventure. I’ll add to this as need be as well, so keep an eye for changes:

Sept. 22:

Alcest, Souveinirs d’un Autre Monde (10th Anniversary Edition)
Brant Bjork, Europe ’16
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spunthe-flying-eyes-burning-of-the-season
Epitaph, Claws
Faces of the Bog, Ego Death
The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season
Fvzz Popvli, Fvzz Dei
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers
Jarboe & Father Murphy, Jarboe & Father Murphy
Monarch, Never Forever
Nibiru, Qaal Babalon
Process of Guilt, Black Earth
Satyricon, Deep Calleth Upon Deep
Spelljammer, Inches from the Sun (Reissue)
Thonian Horde, Inconnu
Trash Titan, Welcome to the Banana Party
Ufomammut, 8
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead
Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

Sept. 29:

monolord rust
Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy
A Devil’s Din, One Hallucination Under God
Disastroid, Missiles
Jim Healey, Just a Minute More (Sept. 26)
Idylls, The Barn
Kadavar, Rough Times
Lucifer’s Chalice, The Pact
Monolord, Rust
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Radio Moscow, New Beginnings
Scream of the Butterfly, Ignition
Tronald, Tronald (Sept. 30)
Unsane, Sterilize
Wucan, Reap the Storm

Oct. 6:

fireball-ministry-remember-the-storyElder Druid, Carmina Satanae
Fireball Ministry, Remember the Story
Frank Sabbath, Are You Waiting? (Oct. 2)
Himmellegeme, Myth of Earth
House of Broken Promises, Twisted EP
O.R.B., Naturality
Primitive Man, Caustic
Spirit Adrift, Curse of Conception
Spotlights, Seismic
Sumokem, The Guardian of Yosemite
Torso, Limbs
White Manna, Bleeding Eyes

Also:

Oct. 13: Enslaved, Firebreather, I Klatus, R.I.P., Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (reissue), Weird Owl, etc.

Oct. 20: Iron Monkey, Spectral Haze, Bell Witch, The Spacelords, etc.

Something I forgot?

Invariably, right? If you know of something not seen above that should be, then by all means, please leave a comment letting me know. My only ask is that you keep it civil and not call me a fucking idiot or anything like that. I write these posts very early in the day, and if something has been neglected, I assure you it’s not on purpose and I’m happy to correct any and all oversights.

Thanks for reading and happy shopping. Support local record stores.

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Monster Magnet, Brant Bjork, Sasquatch & Lo-Pan to Play Ozzfest Meets Knotfest Preshow

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

With the prior announcement that Orange Goblin would open the Main Stage as their only US appearance for 2017 and word that High on Fire, Kyng and Tombs would take part on the Second Stage, Ozzfest Meets Knotfest offers a bit of intrigue beyond the sheer commercial enterprise. The initial PR wire release called it “the biggest metal festival in North America ever,” which simply isn’t true either in scope or the audience it’s likely to bring in, but along with others like Psycho Las Vegas, it is emblematic that the growth of US fest culture doesn’t just mean eight or 12 bands getting on stage the same day. These are genuine events coming together and with underground heavy as a part of that — even a minor part, as with Ozzfest Meets Knotfest — I’m intrigued to find out what the next few years bring.

Today’s kickass news? It’s right there in the headline: Monster MagnetBrant BjorkSasquatch and Lo-Pan are playing a special free preshow for Ozzfest Meets Knotfest campers on Nov. 3 before the fest proper starts on Nov. 4. Forgive me for saying so, but as I see it, that’s a stronger lineup than either day of the fest itself offers on the Main Stage — much as I love Orange Goblin. But then, I’ve never been much for Eighteen Visions. In any case, good for Sasquatch and Lo-Pan particularly. I hope all parties involved kick ass and make a lot of money on t-shirt sales.

Just in from the PR wire:

ozzfest-meets-knotfest-kickoff-show

OZZFEST MEETS KNOTFEST

WEEKEND KICKS OFF WITH FREE FRIDAY PRE-EVENT CONCERT FOR ALL WEEKEND CAMPERS

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4 (OZZFEST) AND SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5 (KNOTFEST) AT GLEN HELEN AMPHITHEATER AND FESTIVAL GROUNDS IN SAN BERNARDINO, CA

This year’s OZZFEST MEETS KNOTFEST–Saturday, November 4 (OZZFEST) and Sunday, November 5 (KNOTFEST) at Glen Helen Amphitheater And Festival Grounds in San Bernardino, CA–will once again kick off with a special campers only pre-event concert. The exclusive free Friday, November 3 camping kick-off concert will give campers early access to the campsite, allowing them time to prepare for a night of performances from Monster Magnet, Brant Bjork, Sasquatch, and Lo-Pan. VIP camping lines open at 4:00 PM, general camping load in begins at 5:00 PM. Doors to the Friday night camping kick-off party open at 7:00 PM with live music set to kick off at 8:00 PM.

In addition, beginning Tuesday, August 1 at 10:00 AM (PT) a $99 all in bundle two ticket, two day ticket price is available through Saturday, August 5 at 12:59 PM (PT) for the multi-stage, two-day weekend camping event that will include more than 40 acts.

The OZZFEST MEETS KNOTFEST line-up (as of August 1) is as follows:

OZZFEST
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4

MAIN STAGE
Ozzy Osbourne
Prophets of Rage
Deftones
Children of Bodom
Orange Goblin

SECOND STAGES
Kreator
Baroness
High on Fire
Iron Reagan
1349
Havok
Kyng
Tombs
Night Demon
Thrown Into Exile

NUCLEAR BLAST EXTREME STAGE
Possessed
Suffocation
Fallujah
Rings of Saturn

KNOTFEST
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5

MAIN STAGE
Rob Zombie
Marilyn Manson
Stone Sour
Eighteen Visions
Prayers

SECOND STAGES
Testament
Life of Agony
Black Dahlia Murder
Upon a Burning Body
Goatwhore
Death Angel
Code Orange
ONI
Stitched Up Heart
DED

NUCLEAR BLAST EXTREME STAGE
Repulsion
Exhumed
Warbringer
Ghoul

www.Ozzfest.com
www.facebook.com/ozzfestofficial
www.knotfest.com
https://www.facebook.com/KNOTFEST/

Lo-Pan, In Tensions (2017)

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Review & Track Premiere: Brant Bjork, Europe ’16

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

brant-bjork-europe-16

[Click play above to hear ‘Controllers Destroyed’ from Brant Bjork’s live album Europe ’16, out Sept. 22 via Napalm Records.]

One severely doubts it’s a coincidence that a Brant Bjork set would start with “Buddha Time (Everything Fine).” That laid back, instrumental, rolling desert groove speaks to an aspect of Europe ’16 that’s apparent before the needle even hits the wax of the Napalm Records release, and that’s the manner in which Bjork — whose career pedigree in as drummer/songwriter in Kyuss and Vista Chino, drummer in Fu Manchu, guitarist/vocalist in Ché and multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and songwriter in the various incarnations of his solo work from Brant Bjork to Brant Bjork and the OperatorsBrant Bjork and the Bros. and Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band has made him the undisputed godfather of desert rock — directly acknowledges the stoner side of who he is and what he does.

It’s right there on the cover of Europe ’16, which is the first official live album of Bjork‘s nearly-20-year solo career which began with 1999’s Jalamanta (discussed here; also here) on Man’s Ruin, a full-length that continues to resonate and inform his soulful, funk-infused delivery to-date, and while so many others of Bjork‘s ilk, geographical cohort and generation have tried to distance themselves from a “stoner” tag, he’s made it a part of his aesthetic. Some might say an essential part, and it’s become a defining piece of the ultra-laid back, groove-ready persona he showcases throughout Europe ’16, which captures 12 tracks and 85 minutes of Brant Bjork on the road last year with The Low Desert Punk Band supporting his two studio albums for Napalm: 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) — both of which, it’s worth noting, were of a similar leafy theme in terms of their artwork.

Is it fair, then, to think of Europe ’16 as the third in a trilogy of offerings for NapalmBjork has said openly that Tao of the Devil was the final studio outing on his contract for the Austrian imprint, and if one presumes a three-album deal, then it’s quite possible Europe ’16 is the farewell piece. If so, it marks a righteous summary of what Bjork has accomplished as a songwriter and performer over the last few years, returning to solo output after a successful run with Vista Chino following much tumult around touring as Kyuss Lives! and the also-Napalm-backed issue of 2013’s Peace (review here) offering with that band.

Highlighting cuts from Black Power Flower like “Controllers Destroyed,” the aforementioned mindset-setting opener “Buddha Time (Everything Fine)” and the later “Stokely up Now,” and even more from Tao of the Devil in “Humble Pie,” “Stackt,” “The Gree Heen,” as well as the later and more extended jams “Dave’s War/Dave’s Peace” (based on “Dave’s War” from the record) and “Biker No. 2,” Europe ’16 finds Bjork, guitarist Bubba DuPree (formerly of Void), bassist Dave Dinsmore (Ché) and drummer Ryan Güt at the proverbial top of their game in terms of chemistry, and of all the times Bjork could have issued a live album over the last decade-plus, it’s easy to hear why now would be an obvious choice.

brant bjork photo kip dawkins

Joined by guest vocalist Sean Wheeler in the second half of the set, this incarnation of Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band saunter through pieces from Bjork‘s substantial catalog like “Low Desert Punk” and “Lazy Bones/Automatic Fantastic” from Jalamanta, “Freaks of Nature” from 2007’s Somera Sól and “Let the Truth be Known” from 2005’s Saved by Magic, and while live albums rarely exist that don’t make the performing act come out on the positive side — that is, nobody wants to put out a shitty-sounding show — neither does Europe ’16 shy away from the rawer side of the band’s presentation, especially as regards Wheeler‘s vocals in “Biker No. 2” and “Freaks of Nature” and the natural movement and flow of the group’s jams, which unfold beginnings and endings organically here, sounding unretouched and all the more engaging for that. Whether or not it’s the last in a series of three, Europe ’16 is a document of an era in Bjork‘s career that has not only seen a rise in his profile, but resulted in some of the most memorable material he’s ever written.

To wit, songs like “Stackt” and “Humble Pie” not only stand up to the landmark riff of “Automatic Fantastic,” but they underscore the progression that’s played out over time and a span of 11 LPs in Bjork‘s approach, and by embracing a jammier vibe later in the set in “Dave’s War/Dave’s Peace,” “Biker No. 2,” “Freaks of Nature,” “Low Desert Punk” and “Let the Truth be Known,” which includes a finale take on the Rolling Stones‘ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Europe ’16 sets an immersive trajectory that feels true to the live experience. Of course, there’s a big difference between watching a band onstage and soaking in an 85-minute live record, and the latter process is no minor undertaking, but even if one thinks of Europe ’16 as a fan piece, it more than earns its place in Bjork‘s catalog, and the poise with which the band handles its turns and the commanding presence of Bjork at the forefront speak to not only the well-earned maturity of his craft but a showmanship that a studio outing simply wouldn’t be able to bring into focus.

Not saying much in terms of stage banter throughout, the man himself gets on mic before the get-your-ass-stoned advising of “Let the Truth be Known” to thank Berlin specifically after several “dankeschön”s earlier on, and that brings to mind the relationship between desert rock and the EU heavy underground. There’s a bit of irony there, since the Palm Desert scene, as it was in the ’80s and early/mid ’90s and as its legacy has grown in the years since, is so much based on the Californian landscape and American suburban culture, but no question Bjork has become the key ambassador for that movement and for the unique creativity and sound those sands helped to foster.

He’ll head back abroad this fall (dates posted here) to mark the release of Europe ’16 and perhaps take a victory lap with The Low Desert Punk Band before moving on to other projects and ideas (or at least another outlet), but that stint, like this live album built from the last one, should only serve to reaffirm what Black Power Flower and Tao of the Devil continued to establish: that when it comes to desert rock, there’s only one Brant Bjork. Nobody else brings the same level of soul to their sound, the classic feel and the steadiness of vibe that he does, and on Europe ’16, some 17 years after first embarking on a solo career, he continues to show that in new and exciting ways.

Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks

Brant Bjork website

Napalm Records website

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Brant Bjork Announces Europe ’16 Live Album & European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

A Brant Bjork live record feels like a fairly obvious no-brainer. Am I wrong? Dude has been killing it the last few years (or decades, if you really want to put it in context) since putting together the Low Desert Punk Band and offering up the Black Power Flower (review here) and Tao of the Devil (review here) in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and anyone who’s seen him can tell you he absolutely owns every stage he steps on, so yeah, there’s just about no way a live album isn’t gonna work in this instance. It’s called Europe ’16, captures a set from Berlin, Germany, last year, and is out Sept. 22 via Napalm Records. Fair enough. Sold. Easy peasy.

To mark its arrival, Bjork and company — including steady guest vocalist Sean Wheeler — will head out on another European run this Fall. We kind of knew this was coming after he’d been confirmed for fests like Lake on Fire 2017 — which he’ll play next month as part of a shorter run of mostly-festival dates — Up in Smoke 2017 and Keep it Low 2017, but as always, confirmation is welcome, particularly alongside the news of the live release. He couldn’t stop piling up “fucking a” fodder if he tried.

From the social medias and the PR wire:

Brant Bjork – Europe ’16 & The Gree Heen Fall Tour

Welcome back the sweet scent of freedom. Breath in the greeheen! BRANT BJORK has come to revive your spirit: The Kyuss- and Fu Manchu legend has just announced his first live record ever!

From the opening guitar riff of “Europe ’16”, recorded in Berlin, one can sense the buzz of classic rock electricity that transcends into new spheres. This is controlled madness between trippy and doomy, groovy and sludgy!

Set for release September 22nd on Napalm Records, BRANT BJORK has now revealed the cover artwork and track list of his first and highly anticipated live record.

The track list reads as follows and will surely make every low desert punk heart beat faster:

1. Buddha Time
2. Controllers Destroyed
3. Humble Pie
4. Stakt
5. The Gree Heen
6. Lazy Bones-Automatic Fantastic
7. Stokely Up Now
8. Dave’s War-Dave’s Peace
9. Biker No. 2
10. Freaks Of Nature
11. Low Desert Punk
12. Let The Truth Be Known-Jumpin’ Jack Flash

“This record is live. Live records are ugly and they should be. When a band plays live, they let their hair down. Live is all that really matters. There are those moments in life when everything is ok and these are the moments when you are doing exactly what your here on the planet to do. You’re right where you are supposed to be with no shame, no fear, no regret, no envy, no hatred and no apology. I always say this band brings a feeling. The feeling is always primary and the sound, secondary. At least to me. In the book of Tao, there is a passage…”naming is the origin of all particular things”. I use here the term ugly to refer to my naming of my particular relationship with my soundscape. my my my. Why the term ugly? Because its the opposite of pretty. As the popular saying goes, “It is what it is”. As for my music, my band and this live record, I prefer to say, “it is what it isn’t”.” – Brant Bjork on Europe ’16.

Brant Bjork Aug. tour:
Aug 04 Los Almiros Festival, Almyros, Greece
Aug 05 Lake on Fire Waldhausen, Austria
Aug 06 A38 Budapest, Hungary
Aug 08 Sommer in Altona Hamburg, Germany
Aug 09 Universum Stuttgart, Germany
Aug 10 Bad Bonn Düdingen, Switzerland
Aug 12 FESTIVAL AREA DE LANGE MUNTE Kortrijk, Belgium
Aug 14 Palp Festival Rocklette Martigny, Switzerland

Brant Bjork, The Gree Heen Fall 2017 tour:
26.09.17 Stockholm | Debaser Strand
27.09.17 Stavanger | Folken
28.09.17 Oslo | John Dee
29.09.17 Gothenbourg | Sticky Fingers
30.09.17 Copenhagen | KB 18
01.10.17 Hamburg | Logo
02.10.17 Leipzig | UT Connewitz
03.10.17 Bielefeld | Forum
04.10.17 Amsterdam | Melkweg
05.10.17 Eindhoven | Effenaar
06.10.17 Pratteln | Up In Smoke
07.10.17 Aschaffenburg | Colossal
08.10.17 Brussels | Botanique
09.10.17 Rennes | Ubu
11.10.17 Bilbao | Kafe Antzokia
12.10.17 Porto | Cave 45
13.10.17 Lisbon | RCA Club
14.10.17 Madrid | Caracol
15.10.17 Barcelona | Bikini
16.10.17 Marseille | Jas Rod
17.10.17 Torino | Blah Blah
18.10.17 Ravenna | Bronson
19.10.17 Zagreb | Vintage Industrial Bar
20.10.17 Wien | Arena ( with Stoned Jesus + Beastmaker )
21.10.17 Munich | Keep It Low

Poster by: Pol Abran

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial/
www.brantbjork.com
http://label.napalmrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Sound-of-Liberation-UG-183095098426785/

Brant Bjork, “The Gree Heen” official lyric video

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Keep it Low 2017: Colour Haze, Belzebong, The Necromancers and A Great River in the Sky Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2017 banner

I was kind of wondering if the Munich-based Keep it Low festival would add Colour Haze for Keep it Low 2017. The long-running German heavy psych progenitors have played multiple editions of the event and have kind of become a staple of the lineup, so to see them added as they support their new album, In Her Garden (review here), is definitely cool. Joining them in this round of adds are BelzebongThe Necromancers and A Great River in the Sky, and on a bill with Saint VitusBrant BjorkRadio MoscowMars Red SkyConanUfomammutStoned JesusMonolordMos Generator and so on — the list is fucking wild — they only make it stronger and richer.

Of all the Fall fests in Europe — there are many and I won’t take away from what any of them are doing — Keep it Low has been the one I’ve most wanted to see over the past few years. It’s grown into what really seems like a unique vibe between its stages, skatepark, biergarten, and so on, and though they’re promising heavier acts this year and delivering that already with the likes of Ufomammut and Vitus and Conan, etc. — see also Belzebong here — there’s still plenty of heavy psych and rock and roll to be had, and that blend, as we all know, is what it’s all about. Anyway, it looks awesome. It won’t be this year, but I’ll get there one of these days.

It’s presented, of course, by Sound of Liberation, who updated the lineup thusly:

keep-it-low-2017-new-poster

Keepers,
Today we have 4 new band announcements for Keep It Low Festival 2017! We’re happy to present you:

Colour Haze
BelzebonG
The Necromancers
A Great River In The Sky

It has become a kind of tradition that mighty Colour Haze headline Keep It Low’s Friday, so never change a winning team!

Get your 3-day tickets here: http://bit.ly/2lr4hzH and….keep it low!

Line Up:
BRANT BJORK (with Special Guest Sean Wheeler) | SAINT VITUS | RADIO MOSCOW | MARS RED SKY | UFOMAMMUT | STONED JESUS | CONAN | MONOLORD | NAXATRAS | HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES | BEASTMAKER | MOS GENERATOR | USNEA | ELEPHANT TREE | KALEIDOBOLT | MOUNT HUSH | GODSGROUND
+ many more TBA

Limited 3-day tickets available!

October 20 | 21 | 22 2017
Feierwerk München

After an amazing and once again sold out edition in 2016 you can expect 3 days, 27-30 bands, amazing people and good vibes at Keep It Low 2017! For the very first time we will have the “Doom-Frühschoppen” with some HEAVY bands on the last day of the Festival.

https://www.facebook.com/events/201489380309269/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/

Colour Haze, In Her Garden (2017)

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