Heavy Psych Sounds Fest California Lineups Announced

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

heavy psych sounds logo

With a poster that would seem to honor the Frank Kozik heavy rock works of yore — and by “yore,” I mean about 20-25 years ago — Heavy Psych Sounds Fest will return to California for the second time in 2020, bringing the mightiest Golden State trio Earthless as headliners for stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, while none other than desert ultra-pioneers Yawning Man will headline a second night in SF with a totally different lineup at a totally different venue. So it works out to be two nights in San Fran, one night in L.A., and the first San Fran show and the L.A. show are the same four bands — Earthless, DanavaHigh Reeper and Crypt Trip. Meanwhile, as that bill heads south along the coast to L.A., moving into SF is the five-pack of Yawning ManBrant Bjork — who’ll do a solo acoustic show! — Hot LunchTurn Me on Dead Man and recent Heavy Psych Sounds label signees Disastroid.

Not frickin’ shabby, as the kids might (not) say.

You had to know Heavy Psych Sounds Fest would be back in Cali in 2020 after the successful West Coast stint earlier this year, so now where know where and when and with whom it’s happening. Ticket presales are on as of today, so do it up.

Here’s the info:

heavy psych sounds fest california 2020 poster

Earthless, Brant Bjork, Yawning Man and More to Team Up for Heavy Psych Sounds U.S. Festival Dates

Influential Italian Rock ‘N’ Roll Record Label Continues to Expand Its Sphere into North America; Spring 2020 Showcases in Los Angeles and San Francisco Announced

Respected underground rock record label Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to announce details of its 2020 U.S. ‘Heavy Psych Sounds Fest’ live events. Set for March 27 in San Francisco and March 28 in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, the special shows will spotlight an exclusive selection of Heavy Psych Sounds’ blue-chip roster, including live sets from acts such as ex-Kyuss musician Brant Bjork, Yawning Man, High Reeper and Crypt Trip, as well as special guests Earthless, Danava and more.

Headquartered in Rome, Italy, Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in presenting the best artists in the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues and space rock realms, and the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest series is no exception, spotlighting the ever-growing label’s dedication to its craft. Earlier this year, the label launched the U.S. festival series with shows in Austin, Dallas, LA and San Francisco; the events met to shining acclaim.

“We are so delighted to announce the second edition of the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests set for this coming spring in California,” says Heavy Psych Sounds label owner Gabriele Fiore. “We are excited to get so many cool bands on board as these line-ups look incredibly rad. Heavy Psych Sounds Records is so proud to have a growing roster of both trendsetting and up-and-coming U.S. based bands and these special shows will prove exactly why.”

HPS FEST CALIFORNIA

Friday 27 March
San Francisco – Rickshaw Stop
EARTHLESS
DANAVA
HIGH REEPER
CRYPT TRIP

TICKETS PRESALE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/83735662621

Saturday 28 March
San Francisco – Bottom of the Hill
YAWNING MAN
BRANT BJORK solo acoustic show
HOT LUNCH
TURN ME ON DEAD MAN
DISASTROID

TICKETS PRESALE: http://www.bottomofthehill.com/stubmatic/event20200328.html

Saturday 28 March
Los Angeles – The House of Machines
EARTHLESS
DANANVA
HIGH REEPER
CRYPT TRIP
THE FREEKS

TICKETS PRESALE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavy-psych-sounds-fest-california-at-the-house-of-machines-tickets-84274821259

heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Yawning Man, Macedonian Lines (2019)

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Kristonfest 2020 Adds Masters of Reality, Brant Bjork and MaidaVale to Complete Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kristonfest 2020 logo

As will happen from time to time, the announcement info below was run through a major tech company’s translation matrix, so take the actual verbiage with a figurative grain of salt. The important thing to note is that there are five bands booked for Madrid’s Kristonfest 2020 all-dayer next May and not a clunker in the bunch. Truth. I haven’t seen Masters of Reality — something I’d hope to correct sooner or later — but I’ve seen the other four and they’re all awesome. MaidaVale, who’ll open the show, bring classic rock vibes straight out of tomorrow, and of course you don’t at all need me to extol the many virtues of Brant Bjork or C.O.C., and probably not Swans either, as I’m sure you’ve already heard their latest record and know it’s ridiculously good.

And if you’re still on the fence, I have the utmost faith Masters of Reality will be astounding. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a new record from them around Springtime next year. Doing this and Desertfests means perhaps a tour, and a tour is rare enough to make me think a full-length is coming. Fingers crossed.

Here’s that info:

kristonfest 2020 poster

Kristonfest 2020 – May 9 – Madrid

Masters of reality (USA), Brant Bjork & Band (USA) and maidavale (Sweden) Join Swans (USA) and corrosion of conformity (USA) to complete the poster of the kristonfest 2020. Five Bands with a very marked style That will bring diversity and excellence to a new edition in the La Riviera room in Madrid.

The tickets, which are already available through the website of the festival www.kristonfest.com and in Escridiscos, will not vary their price, staying in the 45 € + Distribution Costs announced initially.

Formed in 1981 and led by legendary producer Chris Goss, Masters of reality is a very important band in the history of rock, as it clearly influenced many bands that were springing up in the state of California at the end of the ‘ 80 And principles of the ’90s, coming to create a musical movement with its own name. So much so that bands like kyuss, fu manchu, sleep, Nebula, yawning man, fatso jetson, etc… have openly declared their admiration for masters of reality.

The different stages of masters of reality have counted with relevant musicians, where ginger baker is featured (Cream, hawkwind, p.i.l.), Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the stone age), Mark Lanegan (screaming trees), Dave catching (Queens of The Stone Age, Eagles of death metal, Mondo Generator, etc…. and where the combination of experimenting with hard-Rockers riffs and their tastes for the progressive rock of the ‘ 70 s let their hobby be revealed by King Crimson and Black Sabbath,… so much so the band took its name from the album that these last published in 1971, “Masters of reality”.

The letters of Chris Goss, who is considered the godfather of the whole desert-rock movement, are like reading the Bible of everything that surrounded the birth and development of a scene that was never supported by the great record labels, but that has managed to keep Live thanks to the passion of your followers.

The fourth confirmation is that of Brant Bjork & band, key name of the stoner-rock scene for being the drummer of the legendary kyuss and who has recently reissued one of his best albums, “Jalamanta” (1999). If To this we add that the great Sean Wheeler is part of the band is a news that makes us very excited, since Sean is a key piece of the desert scene for being the leader of throw rag and have collaborated in many projects next to Jesse Hughes, Josh Homme, Chris Goss, Mark Lanegan, etc….

The last confirmation is that of the Swedish MaidaVale, which shines like few in the skies of psychedelia-Rock and heavy-Blues of the last decade. Without a doubt, Mathilda Roth (voice), Sofia Ström (Guitar), Linn Jóhannesson (Bass) and Johanna Hansson (Drums) drink from the influences they left for history the decade of the ‘ 60 s, contributing to their repertoire A more direct, atmospheric and forceful sound.

His passage through festivals such as Sweden rock, desertfest, freak valley and red smoke festival has helped them to build the reputation of live, soulful and charismatic band, so get ready to be captivated by this quartet that has a lot to say.

https://www.facebook.com/events/793147224452006/
https://www.wegow.com/es-es/festivales/kristonfest-2020
http://www.facebook.com/kristonfest
http://www.instagram.com/kristonfest/
https://www.kristonfest.com/

Brant Bjork, Live at Freak Valley 2019

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Desertfest London 2020 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2020 header

Desertfest London 2020 has made its first lineup announcement, with nine acts serving as the foundation of the fray set to take place May 1-3 next year. This one happened a bit ago, concurrent I think to the Desertfest Berlin first announcement, but, well, life happens I guess. Either way, the two festivals will share an artwork theme for the first time, which feels only appropriate — one hopes Desertfest New York does the same next September, if only because I’d like to buy a poster on this theme — as well as a few acts in the likes of Masters of RealityCorrosion of ConformityBrant Bjork, and Orange Goblin.

They may end up sharing more than that, of course, between the bands that each has thus far revealed. There’s always a bit of stagger between one and the other as they add locals — The Brothers Keg and Green Lung and Black Orchids come to mind here — to distinguish themselves and each offer something of its own to attendees. I wouldn’t be surprised, for example, if The Picturebooks and Possessor wound up playing Berlin too, but that hasn’t been announced yet if it’s going to happen at all. You get the point.

The point is Deserfest London 2020 already looks awesome, and if you can make it, you should go. I should go too. We should all go. And hang out. It’ll be fun.

Mark your calendar:

desertfest london 2020 poster

MASTERS OF REALITY, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, ORANGE GOBLIN + 6 MORE ANNOUNCED AS FIRST ACTS FOR DESERTFEST LONDON 2020

For their first UK appearance in five years, Masters Of Reality – Official will make their Desertfest debut as 2020 headliners next May. One of the most influential bands in desert rock history, with the genres very own Godfather at the reins, Masters is the brainchild of legendary producer Chris Goss (Welcome to Sky Valley, Rated R, Blues for The Red Sun, Songs for The Deaf). Their effortless combination of hard-rock blues with an experimentally progressive tinge makes no apologies for not sticking within the stylised box listeners would assume, yet simultaneously provides the perfect lesson in the musical ethos and story-telling of the Palm Desert scene.

Joining them on the bill will be North Carolina favourites Corrosion Of Conformity whose unmistakable Southern stomp is always a welcome addition, OG’s of the Desertfest family Orange Goblin will celebrate 25 years of relentless riffs and the desert daze continues as living legend Brant Bjork is set to bask in psychedelic sunshine.

Elsewhere we see high-octane German party duo The Picturebooks, London based psychedelic doom devotees GREEN LUNG show just why they are on our ones-to-watch-list and more home-grown talent comes in the form of space sludge stalwarts The Brothers Keg, the unhinged ferocity of Possessor and a journey of groove and reflection with the other-worldly soundscapes of Black Orchids.

Weekend tickets are now on sale and with dozens more bands to still be announced we implore you to pick up a ticket sooner rather than later!

Tickets & more info here – www.desertfest.co.uk || https://link.dice.fm/desertfest20 (*you do not need the DICE app to purchase via DICE!)

Artwork by Piotr w. Osburne

https://www.facebook.com/events/464163361105416/
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Corrosion of Conformity, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

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Desertfest Berlin 2020: First Lineup Announcement: Masters of Reality, Brant Bjork, C.O.C., Orange Goblin & More

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

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

I admit, I’m going to miss seeing the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2019 around thee social medias, but if there’s one thing that eases that loss, it’s the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2020. It’s like something out of a cel-shaded JRPG, but, you know, awesome, and an airship is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Will this be the year I finally get my ass to Berlin? I’d be lying if I said that their having Masters of Reality — who’ll also be in London — on the bill wasn’t a significant draw in my head. I’d wonder if they won’t do New York as well, but they don’t do a lot of shows at all, so I’m not going to bank on that. Of course, having Corrosion of ConformityBrant BjorkOrange GoblinPapirMinami DeutschSÅVER, Earth Tongue and Dhidalah certainly doesn’t hurt the argument either, but it’s just the beginning of Spring fest-announcement season, and so there’s much more to get all giddy-hyperbole about to come in the next few months. Hell, they haven’t even held Desertfest Belgium yet.

Bottom line: expect this airship to circle around many more times before May 1.

From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2020 first poster

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/

MASTERS OF REALITY | CORROSION OF CONFORMITY | BRANT BJORK | ORANGE GOBLIN | MINAMI DEUTSCH | EARTH TONGUE | PAPIR | DHIDALAH | SÂVER confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2020!!!

Tickets now on sale at: www.desertfest-tickets.de

Finally, we are thrilled to announce the first batch of (outstanding!) acts for our 9th edition, taking place at the ARENA BERLIN May 1st – 3rd 2020. You may not believe your eyes, but it’s a dream come true: Palm Desert scene icons, Masters Of Reality – Official, are finally playing Desertfest! Fronted by Chris Goss, renowned producer of legendary bands such as Kyuss, Queen of the Stone Age and many more, with their Black Sabbath-inspired sound MASTERS OF REALITY will take you on an unforgettable trip through the desert. A true milestone in the eclectic live history of Desertfest Berlin!

It’s been a dozen years since Southern Rock legends, Corrosion Of Conformity, would reunite with Pepper Keenan to blow the doors off the whole damn scene again. In 2014, after nearly a straight decade traversing the globe as a guitarist with New Orleans supergroup DOWN, Keenan reconnected with the core C.O.C. trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin to hit the road hard. And the long wait is over, we will give them a warm and heavy rocking welcome in 2020!

The Godfather of Desert Rock, Brant Bjork, will return to the Desertfest Berlin stage and revive your spirit! Brant has spent over a quarter-century at the epicenter of Californian desert rock. From cutting his teeth alongside Fatso Jetson’s Mario Lalli in hardcore punkers De-Con to drumming and composing on Kyuss’ landmark early albums, to propelling the seminal fuzz of Fu Manchu from 1994-2001 while producing other bands, putting together offshoot projects like Ché, embarking on his solo career as a singer, guitarist and bandleader, founding his own record label and more, his history is a winding narrative of relentless, unflinching creativity. Expect timeless classics and a new album next Spring, and lay back to get into the groove with the one & only, Mr. BRANT BJORK live at the Arena Berlin!

Widely admired as one of the most ludicrously thunderous and entertaining live bands on the planet, longtime Desertfest comrades Orange Goblin, are on their unstoppable mission to bring us joyous, blood ’n’ thunder metal! With a steady stream of critically acclaimed albums that boldly and gleefully blurred the lines between stoner, doom, black, crust and southern rock, while always fervently saluting the old school heavy metal flag and the sacred Sabbathian code. 2020 will celebrate their 25th anniversary, still ORANGE GOBLIN is an inspiration, full of power and ready to unleash their thunder over Berlin!

Hailing from Japan, kraut rock masters Minami Deutsch have been finally confirmed for the Berlin edition of Desertfest! After their highly acclaimed show at Desertfest Belgium two years ago, desert festers in Berlin will be finally able to witness their unique, mesmerizing live performance. Kraut rock may be alive heavier than ever, but this Tokyo trio proves they are way more than just a revival act. Don’t miss this EXCLUSIVE show of the fantastic MINAMI DEUTSCH!

Sometimes music is supposed to feel weird and indescribable. It’s the moments of clarity within the dense, sonic mess that often feels the most satisfying. That’s the space that New Zealand prog-rockers Earth Tongue occupy. With their 2016- debut EP and a just released full-length album, these guys quickly became one of NZ’s most exciting underground live acts and it wasn’t long until they were playing alongside international touring bands like Red Fang, Beastwars or
Monolord. We are thrilled to welcome EARTH TONGUE live in 2020, taking us all on raw and fuzzy journey into psych-rock with a sound that weaves between melodic and jarring, with unexpected turns leaving us in a disoriented, euphoric haze.

Copenhagen trio, Papir, might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. A band of virtuoso musicians who move between psychedelic rock, jazz and krautrock seamlessly with the ability to hypnotize you at the Arena Berlin; PAPIR are the real deal for fans of bands alike Causa Sui, and could easily become the showboats of the scene!

Dhidalah burst into the fuzz rock scene in 2013, and has hailed from the Tokyo underground as a space rock power trio. The band name derives from the Japanese legend of the Giant Gods — known as the creaters of mountains, lakes and islands. DHIDALAH plays improvisational music performances inspired by various genres from stoner and doom to kraut rock. Give these Japanese Giant Gods a very warm welcome next Spring, when the Arena will be turned into a psychedelic wonderland!

Norway’s hottest underground act, SÂVER, is the new project of Ole Christian Helstad, Ole Ulvik Rokseth and Markus Støle of TOMBSTONES and HYMN. The band delivers an astounding sound of sublime heaviness, shimmering moogs, abrasive vocals and a devastating, gnarly bass. SÂVER’s tunes can be characterized by a strong component of apocalyptic synths and textural electronics hovering above the base of heavy guitars and bass – a mélange that works incredibly well, and has seen SÂVER rising up and being no longer just one of the world’s best kept music secrets!

Friends, we hope you enjoy this first round of bands as much as we do, with many more killer names to come. After last year’s changes of a new sound system, the “Black Box“, that many of you seem to appreciate, we will also again provide a lot more specials, space, and again a chill- and live zone on the ubercool Hoppetosse boat! Don’t miss THE fuzz rock party of the year, at the capitol of the almighty riffs: DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020 is ready to roll!

Tickets & more infos are now available at:
www.desertfest.de

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

Masters of Reality, “Dreamtime Stomp”

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Live Review: Brant Bjork & Ecstatic Vision in New Jersey, 09.20.19

Posted in Reviews on September 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Brant Bjork (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Good coffee at the Debonair Music Hall. Someone there clearly gives a crap about it. The menu advertises it as a custom blend, which can mean anything from they hand-pick the beans at the roaster to they pour two smaller cans of instant into one bigger can, but it came in a small French press and was served with a glass mug that perfectly contained the liquid when poured into it with nothing left to sit too long in its own grounds. Even the little bit of sludge that came through in the bottom of the mug tasted good. It was $3 a cup and worth every penny and then some.

I found this out while sitting upstairs and watching Added Color launch the three-band evening topped by Ecstatic Vision and Brant Bjork. They were more hard rock than heavy rock, and if you don’t think there’s a difference I’m going to guess you haven’t heard much hard rock lately. Just not my thing. They covered Rage Against the Machine‘s “Bulls on Parade” with the drummer and guitarist sharing vocal duties. They were tight, performed well, all the rest of it. Just not my thing. So I went up to the balcony, sat down, and ordered a coffee. No regrets on that.

It was release day for Ecstatic Vision‘s new album, For the Masses (review here), and they celebrated with a good amount of the new album live, including closer “Grasping the Void” and, reportedly for the first time, the especially-wild “Like a Freak.” Line of the night went to frontman Doug Sabolik — joined in the band by bassist Michael Field Connor, guitarist/saxophonist/flutist Kevin Nickles and drummer Ricky Kulp — who, before they ignited into one or the other of their riotous heavy space rock anthems of personal freedom, said, “I called Dave Wyndorf to try and get him to come to the show, but he never takes my calls.” That got a chuckle out of me, and it was backed by the kind of cosmic burst that called to mind Monster Magnet at their most Hawkwindian, as Sabolik switched back and forth between playing guitar and not, seeming to wind up and throw his buried-under-wash, semi-shouted lyrics at the crowd standing up front, who only increased in number while they played.

The new stuff? Killer. The tour had hit Brooklyn the night before with River Cult and It’s Not Night: It’s Space on the bill, and would head down to Ecstatic Vision‘s native Philly the following night, with Heavy Temple opening, but either way, this show was just about halfway through the 16-gig run, and Ecstatic Vision played like it. Smiling on stage, their energy was infectious, and with the flashing lights, Nickles swapping out his guitar for a sax or flute — and yes, he did kick his leg up Ian Anderson-style when the flute came out; how could he not? — and Sabolik‘s nigh-on-perfected Stooges-era-IggyPop-turned-acid-priest preach met by periodic megaphone harmonica or stepping down into the crowd to go over and stand on one of the chairs toward the back of the room, yeah, it was right on. Very much the kind of set an album like For the Masses deserved on the day it came out. It had been a while since I last saw them, but they were pure, righteous mania.

And though it’s a somewhat counterintuitive match on paper, Ecstatic Vision were also a great lead-in for their Heavy Psych Sounds labelmate Brant Bjork. Of course, the desert rock mainstay’s style is more laid back as it would almost have to be, but the vibe was nothing if not warm after Ecstatic Vision played — scorched, more like — so as Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band came out and did a quick line check before hitting into “Swagger and Sway” and “Chocolatize” from last year’s Mankind Woman (review here), “Stokely up Now” from 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and the boogie-down “Humble Pie” from 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here). With collaborator Bubba Dupree on guitar, secret-weapon Dave Dinsmore on bass and Ryan Güt on drums, it was the same lineup that featured on the Europe ’16 (review here) live record, and well, they had it nailed three years ago, so, what, they would have lost it? Hell no. Chemistry full-on, groove full-on, heavy full-on. If you ever needed a reason to visit Teaneck, New Jersey, on a surprisingly balmy Friday, watching Brant Bjork and his band jam out more than an hour of the finest in Low Dez-nod is about the best I could hope to come up with.

I can’t imagine Debonair Music Hall was as packed as either Brooklyn or Philly would’ve been, but shit. The chance to see Brant Bjork play at all is something special, let alone play in my beloved Garden State. And whether or not the building hit capacity, I don’t think anything was going to stop Brant Bjork from delivering his show. “Mankind Woman,” “The Greeheen,” “Controllers Destroyed” and the mellow jam “Somebody” that brought Dupree‘s vocals into the mix emphasized the crucial work Bjork has done over his last couple records, while a particularly dug-in take on “Let the Truth Be Known” from 2005’s Saved by Magic, and “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians,” “Low Desert Punk” and the set-finale “Automatic Fantastic” with its clarion riff prefaced by Dinsmore in the jammy “Lazy Bones” represented Bjork‘s recently-reissued ultra-essential 1999 solo debut, Jalamanta (review here; also discussed here), with due vitality. The classics, alive! By the time they were hitting into “Low Desert Punk,” they owned the room and did not relinquish that until Bjork gradually turned down his guitar feeding back as it rested in front of his cabinet on stage. I called it his Sunn O))) cover, because I’ve always been the clever sort, but the bit of residual noise was welcome either way. You take what you can get.

If you’re reading this — and thanks if you are — I’m going to assume you don’t need me to tell you to go see Brant Bjork when and if the opportunity should present itself. Aside from his legit-legendary pedigree as drummer for Kyuss and Fu Manchu, his founding and underrated work with Ché and the two decades he’s put into building a solo-ish catalog that’s made for more than a few highlights of desert rock as a whole, the set’s a party. There’s no substitute for a good time, and that’s a good time. So yes, go. And have a good time. Buy a shirt when it’s over and tell Bubba Dupree his lead tone is incredible, because it is.

Because it was Teaneck and that’s how North Jersey rolls, I was back at my ancestral homestead about half an hour after the show ended, give or take for a wrong turn or two on the way. Takes a while to get your bearings after something like that, I guess, which is a small price to pay for having “Automatic Fantastic” stuck in my head, I can only hope into perpetuity.

More pics after the jump. Thanks again for reading.

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Brant Bjork, Jalamanta & Keep Your Cool: Desert Documents

Posted in Reviews on August 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork jalamanta reissue

It’s hard to speak about Brant Bjork‘s Jalamanta (also discussed here) in anything other than hyperbole. 20 years on from its original release through Man’s Ruin Records, it has become a defining document not just for Bjork‘s own solo work, but for desert rock as a whole, and the laid back vision of heavy it helped establish has had an impact second to none even when set against Brant Bjork‘s own massively influential releases as a member of Kyuss and Fu Manchu. The alliance between Bjork and Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds that produced digital reissues of all his albums continues to bear fruit in the physical realm as well, as in addition to last year’s new studio offering, Mankind Woman (review here), and earlier-2019’s archival-jam collection, Jacoozzi (review here), Jalamanta and 2003’s Keep Your Cool are next in line to receive a proper reissue treatment on vinyl and CD. Both have new artwork in strikingly different styles by Branca Studio and have been remastered, and Jalamanta is a new mix as well from Bjork and original engineer Tony Mason, and also includes the Blue Öyster Cult cover “Take Me Away” as a bonus track, bringing the total runtime to a gatefold 2LP-worthy 66 minutes.

Keep Your Cool doesn’t go nearly so far in terms of needing a second platter to contain it, but by the time Bjork got around to his third solo full-length in the span of four years, he had clearly figured some things out. Listening to the two records back-to-back — with the acknowledgment that 2002’s Brant Bjork & the Operators was originally released between them — the feel of Jalamanta is more mellow funk and more experimental, whether it’s bringing Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli in to play guitar and sing on “Toot” or riding the clarion riff of “Automatic Fantastic” as a bed for spoken verses, running the into “Lazy Bones” backwards later as “Bones Lazy” and lacing tracks like “Sun Brother,” “Cobra Jab” and closer “Indio” with percussion while “Waiting for a Coconut to Drop” offers standalone guitar and the subsequent “Her Blown Blood” bases itself around a riff as driving as Kyuss ever were at their most forceful. The most memorable impressions Jalamanta made/makes might be in the dug-in grooves found in songs like “Automatic Fantastic,” “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians” and “Defender of the Oleander,” which set just the right balance between tonal presence, rhythmic swing, memorable craft and drifting melody to become essentially the groundwork for Bjork‘s solo career, of which Mankind Woman was the 12th offering.

Around these, Bjork is able to work to one side or the other, whether that’s the subdued meanderings of “Sun Brother” and “Indio” or the shove in “Low Desert Punk” and “Her Brown Blood.” Between those two sides, one finds a jam like “‘Let’s Get Chinese Eyes'” with its winding and uptempo instrumental progression and newly-refined interplay of guitar layers, while the bonus track cover “Take Me Away” fits right in among the hookier and more rolling material. There remains a natural feel to Jalamanta that has been no less course-setting for Bjork than any other aspect of the record, but with Keep Your Cool, the narrative shifts to a more solidified approach to songwriting and a willful-seeming blend of hard funk and heavy rock that became the embodiment of “low desert punk” as Bjork‘s own term for his style as he embarked in the early aughts on releasing albums through his own Duna Records imprint, Keep Your Cool being the second such outing behind Brant Bjork & the Operators, as well as an early reissue of Jalamanta.

brant bjork keep your cool

The question isn’t really of accessibility, since it’s not like Brant Bjork‘s solo work has ever veered from engaging its audience, but even with the kind-of-sad intro “Hey, Monkey Boy” at the outset, there’s no question Keep Your Cool puts its hooks in forward position, with “Johnny Called,” “Rock-n-Rolé” and “I Miss My Chick” following in succession ahead of the title-track’s two-minute departure into guitar-led desert wandering. But even that seems pared down in comparison to Jalamanta; a more straightforward sonic persona emerging, less trying-it-out and more executing a plan. Consider Keep Your Cool as a two-sided album, with “Hey, Monkey Boy” and the title-track as intros for sides A and B, respectively. The track breakdown is even with four and four, and the salvo that “Johnny Called” begins earns the reissue all on its own, with stage-ready memorable songwriting and a sure-headed conviction of method that Jalamanta — despite its many splendors — simply doesn’t have. There’s a tradeoff, because Keep Your Cool is inherently less experimental, but certainly there’s room in Bjork‘s solo catalog for both sides to find expression as they have for the last two decades.

Side B of Keep Your Cool continues the thread where “I Miss My Chick” left it, wah and handclaps filling out a core riff that is no less quintessential Brant Bjork than that of “Automatic Fantastic,” while “Searchin'” delves deeper into funky vibes with more upfront drums and a spacey guitar line later in the proceedings. The chorus may not be as forward, but the palette is expanding efficiently. One could argue that that started on “I Miss My Chick,” but the second half of the album lives up to the tradition of answering the hooks of the first with a broader reach. That remains true as closer “My Soul” finds its ultra-fluid chill and rolls out across nearly seven minutes that go from a straight-ahead verse/chorus to a finale guitar exploration that, indeed, lives up to the name of the track itself.

Brant Bjork would follow Keep Your Cool with Local Angel (discussed here; reissue review here) in 2004 and seem to pick up precisely where “My Soul” leaves off, but the narrative arc of his solo and solo-ish discography isn’t necessarily so linear, with work in and out of bandleader situations — Brant Bjork and the Bros.Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band — as well as his time with groups like the sadly-shortlived Ché and Vista Chino, despite a consistent growth and refinement of his craft that continues unabated. Quite simply, Jalamanta is a top-three all-time desert rock record, minimum. For even the most cursory exploration of the style, it is essential. Keep Your Cool doesn’t have the same kind of legacy behind it, but its songs show the direction Bjork was taking at the time and more than stand up to the 16 years since their original release. Neither accomplishment is insignificant, and if these reissues expose them to a new audience or give established fans another version of the record to chase down, there’s really no way to lose by having them back in print and fresh in mind.

Brant Bjork, Keep Your Cool (2003/2019)

Brant Bjork, Jalamanta (1999/2019)

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Brant Bjork Announces East Coast Tour with Ecstatic Vision

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

I’ve been biding my time waiting to unleash a golly-BrantBjork-is-awesome-type review of the reissues of his first two solo albums that Heavy Psych Sounds has put and is putting out, and mark my words, I’ll get there by the time the Man Himself comes to play my beloved Garden State on Sept. 20. Brant Bjork, in New Jersey? I feel like I have a moral imperative to be there — and so do you, frankly. It’s not the kind of thing that happens every day, month, year, etc., so yeah, mark the calendar for it. All the better that the tour is with Heavy Psych Sounds labelmates Ecstatic Vision, whose new record For the Masses will also be out by then. Sometimes it just works. All of it. And it’s amazing how many of those times seem to involve Brant Bjork one way or the other.

Of course, Bjork and his band were just in Europe playing fests and supporting their earlier-2019 release, Jacoozzi (review here), of archived instrumental jams that followed 2018’s Mankind Woman (review here), his debut on Heavy Psych Sounds after completing a three-album deal with Napalm Records. Not a bummer in the bunch.

Here are the dates as posted by the label:

BRANT BJORK tour

*** BRANT BJORK – US TOUR 2019 ***

+Ecstatic Vision

Our desert rock legend Brant Bjork will tour US in September, supported by Ecstatic Vision !!! Don’t miss them..

BRANT BJORK US TOUR 2019

9/12 – St Louis, MO @ The Firebird
9/13 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Citadel Music Hall
9/14 – Youngstown, OH @ Westside Bowl
9/15 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
9/16 – Columbus, OH @ Woodlands Tavern
9/17 – Buffalo, NY @ Iron Works
9/18 – Boston, MA @ The Middle East Upstairs
9/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Kingsland
9/20 – Teaneck, NJ @ Debonair Music Hall
9/21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
9/22 – Providence, RI @ Dusk
9/23 – New Haven, CT @ The State House
9/24 – Brattleboro, VT @ The Stone Church
9/25 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
9/26 – Detroit, MI @ The Magic Bag
9/27 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
9/28 – Milwaukee, WI @ Walker’s Point Music Hall

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Brant Bjork, Jalamanta (1999)

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Brant Bjork to Reissue Jalamanta Sept. 13 on Heavy Psych Sounds

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

What, you thought Heavy Psych Sounds was going to embark on a series of Brant Bjork reissues and not do the one that started it all? Of course not. Originally released in 1999 through Man’s Ruin Records, Jalamanta (discussed here) is top-five all-time pivotal desert rock releases, if not top three, and its enduring relevance not only to Bjork‘s work but for the slew of others he’s influenced speaks for itself. Presented with a new mix by Bjork and Tony Mason and a fresh master from John McBain, as well as new cover art, it’s just one of the best records ever to come out of the Californian desert. That’s all. No big deal.

Except it is a big deal. Preorders start later this week, as the PR wire tells it:

brant bjork jalamanta reissue

*** BRANT BJORK – JALAMANTA *** Reissue for the 20th Anniversary – remastered/remixed version

RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 13th
PRESALE STARTS: MAY 23rd

It’s been 20 glory years when desert rock icon, BRANT BJORK, released his first solo album Jalamanta.

2019 will see the Kyuss and Fu Manchu- legend celebrate his 20th anniversary in style, when he will re-release his pathbreaking, cult album Jalamanta on September 13rd with Heavy Psych Sounds Records!

Recorded by Tony Mason at Rancho De La Luna, Joshua Tree, California, in February 1999 and produced by BRANT BJORK, Jalamanta still belongs to the most distinctive desert rock records of all time.

“Jalamanta was a life changing record for me. It’s the record that launched my journey as Brant Bjork.“ he comments. “Listening to the tapes 20 years later was amazing. Tony Mason and myself were transported back to that moment in time. Jalamanta was a first for both Tony and myself. My first record as a solo artist and his first record as an engineer. We didn’t think twice about re-mixing it. With our combined experience over the years, we knew we could take Jalamanta to the place we always wanted it to go. And we did. Dig it.“

Jalamanta has been re-mixed by Tony Mason, with a freshly baked re-master by John McBain at JPM Mastering, San Francisco. New cover art by Branca Studio. Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to start the pre-order of this timeless classic on May 23rd, in the following available album formats:

RELEASED IN DOUBLE GATEFOLD VINYL IN :
45 ULTRA LTD TEST PRESS VINYL
250 LTD WHITE SPLATTER RAINBOW VINYL
250 LTD WHITE MARBLED PURPLE VINYL
600 SOLID YELLOW VINYL
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK
DIGITAL

TRACKLIST
1. Lazy Bones
2. Automatic Fantastic
3. Cobra Jab
4. Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians
5. Sun Brother
6. “Let’s Get Chinese Eyes”
7. Toot
8. Defender Of The Oleander
9. Bones Lazy
10. Low Desert Punk
11. Waiting For A Coconut To Drop
12. Her Brown Blood
13. Indio
14. Take Me Away ( Blue Oyster Cult cover )

Brant Bjork live:
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.

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial
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Brant Bjork, Jalamanta (1999)

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