Review & Full Album Premiere: Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Passage to Agartha

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Hotel-Wrecking-City-Traders-Passage-to-Agartha

[Click play above to stream Hotel Wrecking City Traders’ Passage to Agartha in its entirety. Album is out Sept. 25 through Cardinal Fuzz, Evil Hoodoo and Bro Fidelity Records.]

It might not always seem like it, but there’s a delicate balance at play at any given moment for Hotel Wrecking City Traders. Yes, the Melbourne duo proffer just under 90 minutes of new material on the six tracks of their fourth album Passage to Agartha — released through Bro Fidelity, Cardinal Fuzz and Evil Hoodoo — but on an aesthetic level, the two-piece of brothers Ben and Toby Matthews (drums and guitar, respectively) tread a line between crunch-tone noise derived from a punk influence and an expansive take on space rock and heavy psychedelia that they’ve developed over the course of their decade together in the band. Each of their releases has been a step forward in a process of refining and individualizing this approach, and Passage to Agartha follows suit in expanding the mindset of early-2016’s Phantamonium (review here) and adding for the first time overdubs of synth and bass to the live-recorded, mostly-improvised root tracks of guitar and drums.

Thus, on opener “Quasar” (11:04) and the subsequent “Kanged Cortex” (11:55), Hotel Wrecking City Traders not only immediately cast their listener into this ocean of intensity and flow, but they do so with their core energy intact and with new elements put to use in making them fuller in their arrangements — they recently added Josh Beagley (also of Melbourne’s Spider Goat Canyon) to the lineup to handle bass parts live — even as the beginning stretches of “Chasing the Tendrils” (17:00) course through proggy nuance that offerings like Phantamonium, 2014’s Ikiryo (review here), their 2012 splits with Sons of Alpha Centauri and WaterWays (review here) and Spider Goat Canyon, 2011’s collaboration with Gary Arce of Yawning Man (review here), the 2010 single, Somer/Wantok (review here), and their 2008 debut, Black Yolk, have been building toward in one way or another.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s taken Hotel Wrecking City Traders 10 years to “arrive” as they shift into cymbal wash and amp noise passing the midpoint of “Chasing the Tendrils” and come off the harder-thrusting reaches of “Kanged Cortex” with a fluid motion building on some of the more post-rock airiness of the earlier going, just that Passage to Agartha finds them at the to-date pinnacle of their stylistic development. And while it’s easy to be consumed by the length of the thing — I started off talking about balance for a release that’s nearly an hour and a half long; worth noting that the closer “Oroshi” (22:57) is listed as a CD/digital-only bonus track — it’s the progressive will that becomes so palpable throughout these extended cuts that is even more striking. One can still hear the underlying turns of Black Yolk in their sound, in the angularity of some of Toby‘s guitar parts or the shifts in Ben‘s rhythm, the forward push of his playing, but with a number of experimentalist releases behind them at this point, Hotel Wrecking City Traders have never sounded freer than they do in these explorations.

hotel wrecking city traders

The way they move through the crashing, keyboard-laden ending of “Chasing the Tendrils” and into the more serene launch of “Passage to Agartha” (14:43) — arguably the record’s most purely psychedelic cut and a telling moment as the title-track with its siren-esque background synth and hypno-repetitive guitar lines — is their own, and it’s the result of an organic growth captured on Hotel Wrecking City Traders releases long or short. As they make this particular “Passage,” amassing volume and patience of roll as they go en route to midsection churn and an eventual wash that seems to swallow the song entirely before cutting out circa the 12:30 mark to let Toby‘s guitar and synth drift to the finish, it only seems right to think of Passage to Agartha as another landmark in their ongoing creative journey, part of a timeline and a larger process rather than a stopping point in itself.

At least that’s the hope, because while Hotel Wrecking City Traders remain considerably undervalued even in the crowded sphere of the underground in their hometown, their work has proven vital time and again, as it does here. “Ohms of the Cavern Current” (11:40) closes the album proper with a focus on more rumbling low end and a somewhat more plodding march than that of the title-track before it, rounding out by settling into a crash-propelled last push that cuts out to fade on a repeating guitar line. When it comes to it, “Oroshi” is an album unto itself, or an EP perhaps, but either way a definite standalone focal point correctly positioned here as a bonus track. It shares its overarching hypnosis with the preceding material, but centers around a single background drone for its 22-plus minutes and so clearly has its own experimentalist intentions as well, drifting as it does over a fullness of wash that comes to life and shifts toward one last run of intense prog noodling before cymbal washes take hold at about 19 minutes in to signal the end stage of what’s ostensibly a captured-live piece created as it happened.

Toby and Ben, as brothers and as bandmates, have so clearly developed a musical language between them that Passage to Agartha almost seems to communicate in patterns beyond the construction of its riffs and various (and varied) parts, but it doesn’t at all fail to engage its audience either through the subtlety of its reach or the balance of influences it sets in motion across such a formidable span. Even for a group so much on their own wavelength, the sense of achievement Hotel Wrecking City Traders bring to their craft is easy to perceive, and as Passage to Agartha finds them at a new stage of maturity, the patience they demonstrate when they choose to in “Quasar,” or the title-track, or “Oroshi,” is yet another tool to be put to use alongside the fervency that can be so propulsive elsewhere. One never likes to speculate what the future might bring especially for a band so prone to outside collaborations and one-offs, etc., but as they move forward in a three-piece incarnation with Beagley on bass, it seems all the more like Hotel Wrecking City Traders are still just beginning to discover where their passage is taking them. All the better.

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Spider Goat Canyon Release New Album Always the Heavy

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Spider Goat Canyon

Okay, so near as I can tell, Spider Goat Canyon‘s admirably titled Always the Heavy (tattoo it on my fucking forehead) is a 20-page art book that includes four seven-inch platters of the album’s 13 tracks, released through Bro Fidelity Records. How that accounts for a 19-minute piece like “Secret Valley (The Ancestors Mix)” from the digital version of the record, I have no idea. None. If I’m right about the format, I have no idea. What do I know? I know the record sounds pretty cool, and I know it was six years in the making, and the sheer fact that they’ve made it happen after more than half a decade is impressive.

Not the more informative of posts, I know, but I’m working under the theory that nobody reads this shit anyway and everybody skips to the links and the audio. So have at it:

spider goat canyon always the heavy

Spider Goat Canyon ‘Always the Heavy’ [BroFi013]

‘Always the Heavy’ is a record 6 years in the making. The bands last record as a 3 piece, since the departure of guitarist Steve Brick. The record is a fitting end to that era of the band. The basis for what forms this mammoth release was initially tracked 6 years ago, with new additions to the recording and post production from Steve Brick makes for one heavy and exploratory record. The record is comprised of tracks such as ‘The Drudge, ‘Choking the Masses’ and ‘Secret Valley’ which features a frenzied and powerful vocal track from Ryokuchi (Japan) bass player/singer Harada Hidekazu.

This is by far the most wide-spanning SGC record and fans of ethereal space rock in the vein of Farflung and Hawkwind will dig it as much as the more ferocious sounds on offer which will appeal to those who like their metal black and their riffs gargantuan. Echoes of Amphetamine Reptile pedigree and challenging riffs that bend time signatures create a cavalcade of engulfing sounds and sonic texture that one listen does not suffice.

Guitarist Steve describes the theme of the record: ‘The theme is largely modern life in an industrialized society. The album finishes on what I would call a very uplifting track that takes an optimistic long-term view, despite the “heaviness” of the present.’ ‘Always the Heavy’ is a triumphant end to a chapter of a band 10 years into their tenure, spanning all the creativity and execution you could hope for from three guys, who for the last decade have created their own space in a world of heaviness which is captured beautifully on this record.

www.spidergoatcanyon.com
https://www.facebook.com/Spider-Goat-Canyon-10681198763
www.spidergoatcanyon.bandcamp.com
http://www.brofidelity.bigcartel.com/

Spider Goat Canyon, Always the Heavy (2015)

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Hey Colossus and Hotel Wrecking City Traders Split 12″ Coming Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

hey colossus

hotel wrecking city traders

This one sounds like a winner. On Friday, Wild Animal Records and Bro Fidelity Records will release a split between UK outfit Hey Colossus and Melbourne’s Hotel Wrecking City Traders on 12″ vinyl that contains one extended track from each band. Apparently the two acts had been in touch for some time but finally got to play together when the Aussie duo hit Europe for a tour last year, including a slot at Desertfest in London.

I’ll admit I don’t know Hey Colossus nearly as well as Hotel Wrecking City Traders, but the six-piece band released a full-length titled In Black and Gold on Rocket Recordings, and if you know that label, that should be enough to pique your interest. In the meantime, Hotel Wrecking City Traders released their second full-length, Ikiryo (review here), last year just about the time they took off for Europe and followed it up with a single, “Loose Alcoholic,” at the end of 2014.

Split’s out at the end of the week, so here’s some PR wire info if you’d like to prepare:

hey-colossus-hotel-wrecking-city-traders-split

HEY COLOSSUS / HOTEL WRECKING CITY TRADERS SPLIT 12 INCH

This split’s been in the pipeline since 2006, Melbourne’s HWCT + London/Somerset’s HC have been long time talkers, finally meeting when they did some shows together in 2014. The Australian duo tore it round Europe for 3 weeks, HC hooked up for 3 of the shows (including the London Desertfest).

One long tune each.

HWCT go JAM-HEAVY with ‘Droned and Disowned (Pt.2)’, ripping on some mid 80’s NY insistent guitar clang, building and building, being led by the drums, chased by the riffs, 22 smoke filled mins.

HC take it doooooown with ‘Heaven Blows’, a 3am ‘question where you’re going with your life’ come down tune, drones flying about, twinkly dream synths, vocals from outta nowhere.

Split 12 / Download is out July 24th on Wild Animals Records + Bro Fidelity Records, both labels out of Melbourne, 216 copies (Various colored vinyl).

https://www.facebook.com/hotelwreckingcitytraders
https://hotelwreckingcitytraders.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/heycolossus
http://geni.us/itunesblackngold
http://wildanimalsrecords.blogspot.com.au/

Hotel Wrecking City Traders, “Loose Alcoholic” (2014)

Hey Colossus, In Black and Gold (2015)

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River of Snakes Release New EP I Wanna be Your Baby

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

river of snakes

The first sign that all is not as it seems comes toward the end of the opening title-track of Melbourne fuzz-rock trio River of Snakes‘ new EP, I Wanna be Your Baby. The punk-infused three-piece launch the release with about as poppy a movement as one can get, taking cues from the unabashed sunshine of post-grunge ’60s revivalism, but right at the end there’s a moment where another sound kicks in and you wonder if another song just started playing at the same time. Then, of course, they shift into the droned-out “Lightning Rod,” with builds waves of guitar over its 15-minute course that culminate in Earthless-style grandstanding before a cave-in brings silence and a return to noise, the theme seeming to continue into closer “Spill,” even as that song returns to verse/chorus structures in a grittier take than “I Wanna be Your Baby” itself.

Worth the asking price — which is whatever you want it to be — alone for the turn from the first track to the second and then into the third, the breadth of sound River of Snakes show in such a short time without sounding like the material is disconnected, the I Wanna be Your Baby EP is available now to download from the band’s Bandcamp. Announcement of its arrival follows, along with some more bio background:

river of snakes i wanna be your baby

Good Morning freaks!! Here is a free give away EP with two previously unreleased tracks, one is 15 minute epic noise freak out with Ben Wrecker on drums, Recorded at RMIT, the other is a track that we did for “Black Noise” that well, got left aside for this give-away! We will be playing some shows soon, stay tuned. Thanks!!

Two cranked up Fender Bassman amps, two Big-muff pedals on full and aggressive powerhouse drums make up River of Snakes sonic core. This fuzz-demented three piece have been tearing apart stages and splintering ears for over two years now in their hometown of Melbourne, as well as trekking thousands of kilometres to play any (and every) interstate city and regional centre in Australia that will have them. This is a band that thrives on raw spirit and DIY attitude.

The band is made up of Raul Sanchez, best known for his role as guitarist in Magic Dirt and Midnight Woolf, Elissa Rose from the powerful and grungy The Loveless and Ben Wrecker from Hotel Wrecking City Traders. The result is a three-pronged attack of wild punk-rock laced with feedback, noise and pop-hooks.

https://www.facebook.com/riverofsnakes/
www.riverofsnakes.tumblr.com
www.riverofsnakes.bandcamp.com
www.youtube.com/riverofsnakes
http://www.brofidelity.bigcartel.com/

River of Snakes, I Wanna be Your Baby EP (2015)

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders Stream New Album Ikiryo in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on April 2nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

I’ve made attempts in the past to describe the scope that Melbourne, Australia, instrumental duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders cover, but to be perfectly honest with you, I think I’ve fallen a little flat in doing so to date. When I first got a copy of their 2008 Black Yolk full-length debut, it seemed to me that the brotherly two-piece of guitarist Toby Matthews and drummer Ben Matthews were embroiled in a kind of post-punker noise rock. Their edges were sharp, the material angular, almost mathy. The subsequent 2010 Somer/Wantok 7″ single (review here) preceded a 2011 collaborative 12″ with Gary Arce of Yawning Man (review here), and both the pairing itself and the output showed shifting influences, the Wreckers taking on a more progressive, groove-based mindset, smoothing out. In 2012, they again partnered with Arce, this time taking part in a three-way split between his WaterWays project and UK instrumental proggers Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here) that once again expanded the Hotel Wrecking City Traders palette. Now, more than half a decade since their last long-player, the Matthewses return with Ikiryo on their own Bro Fidelity Records and seek to confound those who’d try to simplify their approach by sticking it in one category or another.

Ben and Toby — who also issued the solo album Sounds of Jura in 2013 under the moniker Toby Wrecker — offered a look at some of their present breadth late in 2013 with the one-song, largely-improvised 46-minute live video “Ode to Chunn” (discussed here). It was probably the best extended-form single of last year that never actually got a release, and Ikiryo continues to trace the development of Hotel Wrecking City Traders as a unit of multiple sonic affiliations. Over its vinyl-ready five-track, 36-minute sprawl, Ikiryo touches on Pelican pastoralia (see “Riley”), doomly minimalism (the midsection of opener “Breath”), post-desert joybringing (“Dance the Hempen Jig”), extended builds (the closing title-track), and on “Tetryl,” they seem to fuse the patient atmospherics of who they are now with the crunching riffs they offered in their beginnings while also experimenting either with vocals or something that sounds enough like them to serve that purpose. Likewise, there also seems to be some conversation happening way, way down in the mix of “Breath,” unless that’s just my brain receiving alien transmissions again. It’s vague. Could go either way. The point is, Hotel Wrecking City Traders are pushing themselves, experimenting, refusing to settle into any comfort zone, and for arriving six years after their first album, Ikiryo shows they haven’t wasted their time.

There’s at least six years’ worth of growth evident between the initial rush of “Breath” and the moodier, contemplative launch of “Ikiryo” — though the title cut rounds out with a viciously heavy payoff of its own — and along the way, they hit numerous peaks and valleys, striding out in the centerpiece “Dance the Hempen Jig” for a fuzz highlight memorable enough to be an anchor for anyone who finds themselves rudderless in stretches of linearity without traditional verses or choruses to ground them, Toby‘s guitar metering out airy lead lines over Ben‘s smoothed-out drum pattern. Even here they’re not without purpose or dynamic, and as much as they come to rest in a given part anywhere on Ikiryo, their use of repetition never goes from hypnotic to redundant.

Even now I find that none of this is really doing justice to Hotel Wrecking City Traders‘ heavy and increasingly expansive take. Fortunately, the duo have granted me permission to host a full stream of the album, so that instead of spinning my adjectival wheels to look for alternate uses of “deeply creative,” I can simply direct your attention to the player below and you can hear it for yourself. Score one for the nifty future in which we reside.

Ikiryo is out on CD April 16 as Hotel Wrecking City Traders begin a European tour (info an dates below). Enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Hotel Wrecking City Traders’ (HWCT) first full length LP since 2008’s ‘Black Yolk’. After a series of successful collaborations & splits with Desert Rock forefathers Gary Arce, Mario Lalli (Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson) and a steady bout of touring Australia and Japan, the urge to record as a duo again was something that was important. So was emphasizing the song and the melody and crafting the riff. ‘Ikiryo’ is a more harnessed beast and comprises 5 songs that were written over the course of a 3 month period at the end of 2013. They were recorded in a mere 2 days, in January, 2014. This time working with engineer Jason Fuller at his Goatsound Studios in Melbourne. Jason’s background is well known as being in the heavier more metal realm (Brutal Truth, Blood Duster). The band were sought out by Jason and invited to record, ironically entering the studio with some of the most melodic and concise songs of their existence. The result is a vivid sonic journey over the course of 40 minutes that sees HWCT’s new approach spread across 5 measured sonic explorations. Improvisational aspects are still present but so is a confident and measured velocity. This is evident in the album’s title, suggesting a spirit leaving the body and moving around freely. The album is heavy, mind altering and noisy and still undeniably HWCT.

Ikiryo European Tour April/May 2014
Fri April 18th The Anvil, Bournemouth
Sat April 19th The Hole in the Wall, Colchester
Thu April 24th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Fri April 25th Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol w/The Body, Arabrot, Hey Colossus
Sat April 26th The Desertfest, London
Tue 29th April RockSound, Barcelona
Wed 30th April IncivicZone, Sant Feliu de Codines
Thu 1st May Lion Cafe, Benicarlo
Fri 2nd May La Residencia, Valencia
Sat 3rd May Métrica, Málaga
Sun 4th May Mondongo Bar, Puerto Santa María — Cádiz
Mon 5th May Cruce de Caminos, La Zubia — Granada
Tue 6th May Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid
Wed 7th May El Reino, Cabezón de La Sal
Thu 8th May Sentinel Rock Club, Erandio + MEIDO
Fri 9th May Mogambo, Donostia + ERROMA + MEIDO
Sat 10th May AVV Arrebato, Zaragoza

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders Announce New Album Ikiyro and European Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Australian duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders have announced they’ll release their first long-player in six years’ time in the form of Ikiryo. What will be interesting to hear in the instrumental outfit’s sophomore outing is how much their songwriting will have been affected by their collaborations over the last several years with the like of Gary Arce (review here) and the more psychedelic influence they showed late last year on the live recording “Ode to Guinn” (video here). Their last physical release was a 2012 split with WaterWays and Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here), so really, the Matthews brothers have a wide open range of places they could take their sound, including the crunching noise rock elements that were the driving factor of their 2008 self-titled debut.

Much to look forward to, and if you’re in Europe, a cool chance to see them live. They’ll be at Desertfest in London and more, as the PR wire informs:

HOTEL WRECKING CITY TRADERS ‘ Ikiryo’ (2014)

Hotel Wrecking City Traders’ (HWCT) first full length LP since 2008’s ‘Black Yolk’. After a series of successful collaborations & splits with Desert Rock forefathers Gary Arce, Mario Lalli (Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson) and a steady bout of touring Australia and Japan, the urge to record as a duo again was something that was important. So was emphasizing the song and the melody and crafting the riff. ‘Ikiryo’ is a more harnessed beast and comprises 5 songs that were written over the course of a 3 month period at the end of 2013. They were recorded in a mere 2 days, in January, 2014. This time working with engineer Jason Fuller at his Goatsound Studios in Melbourne. Jason’s background is well known as being in the heavier more metal realm (Brutal Truth, Blood Duster). The band were sought out by Jason and invited to record, ironically entering the studio with some of the most melodic and concise songs of their existence. The result is a vivid sonic journey over the course of 40 minutes that sees HWCT’s new approach spread across 5 measured sonic explorations. Improvisational aspects are still present but so is a confident and measured velocity. This is evident in the album’s title, suggesting a spirit leaving the body and moving around freely. The album is heavy, mind altering and noisy and still undeniably HWCT.

1. Breath (7:40)
2. Riley (4:15)
3. Dance the Hempen Jig (4:49)
4. Tetryl (6:18)
5. Ikiry? (13:39)
BRO FIDELITY RECORDS [BroFi010]

HWCT:
Toby: Guitars
Ben : Drums

Ikiryo European Tour April/May 2014
Fri April 18th The Anvil, Bournemouth
Sat April 19th The Hole in the Wall, Colchester
Thu April 24th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Fri April 25th Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol w/The Body, Arabrot, Hey Colossus
Sat April 26th The Desertfest, London
Tue 29th April RockSound, Barcelona
Wed 30th April IncivicZone, Sant Feliu de Codines
Thu 1st May Lion Cafe, Benicarlo
Fri 2nd May La Residencia, Valencia
Sat 3rd May Métrica, Málaga
Sun 4th May Mondongo Bar, Puerto Santa María — Cádiz
Mon 5th May Cruce de Caminos, La Zubia — Granada
Tue 6th May Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid
Wed 7th May El Reino, Cabezón de La Sal
Thu 8th May Sentinel Rock Club, Erandio + MEIDO
Fri 9th May Mogambo, Donostia + ERROMA + MEIDO
Sat 10th May AVV Arrebato, Zaragoza

www.facebook.com/hotelwreckingcitytraders
www.hotelwreckingcitytraders.bandcamp.com
www.reverbnation.com/hwct
www.brofidelity.blogspot.com
www.wombatbooking.com

Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Ikiryo Euro Tour Promo

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders Unfurl Improv Bliss on “Ode to Chunn”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 18th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Over the last two years or so, Melbourne, Australia duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders have immersed themselves in a Californian desert influence. In 2012, they contributed to a split with the Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson-affiliated outfit WaterWays and Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here), and prior to that, they issued a collaboration with Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce (review here) that found guitarist Toby Matthews and drummer Ben Matthews moving past some of the noise rock elements that typified their earlier work (it doesn’t fit as neatly into my constructed narrative, but they also released a split with Melbourne’s Spider Goat Canyon last year). Listening to the brothers’ 46-minute improv jam “Ode to Chunn,” it’s abundantly clear this basking in heavy psychedelia has had a profound impact on Hotel Wrecking City Traders.

It’s worth noting for an American audience that the PBS in question here is not the Public Broadcasting System, but instead PBS 106.7FM, a Melbourne-based radio station which filmed Hotel Wrecking City Traders playing “Ode to Chunn” live and got a pro-quality sound to match the high definition video. The band had uploaded “Ode to Chunn” in four parts, but I was dying to hear the complete piece, front to back, so I waited until they strung it all together. I had been kicking myself in the ass for not posting it earlier in its components until I finally caught the finished product. Not anymore. This thing is fantastic. A huge demonstration of how far Hotel Wrecking City Traders have come stylistically and an unmistakable glimpse at the musical chemistry the brothers share between them.

Maybe you won’t put it on and watch it front to back, staring at your screen the whole time, but even if you play the audio and check back in periodically over the course of the piece, you’ll no doubt find yourself amply consumed by the flow of the track. My only hope now is that “Ode to Chunn” makes its way to some kind of physical release, whether it’s a 12″ split into two sides or a tape or CD with it contained in its linear entirety. I’d argue in favor of the CD or an extended tape, if only so that the builds and rushes that Toby and Ben enact over the course of the song don’t find their momentum interrupted and that anyone listening isn’t pulled out of the trance for any reason whatsoever. Whatever they do with it, hopefully it’s something. In the meantime, note Toby‘s Mother Teacher Destroyer shirt and enjoy the crap out of “Ode to Chunn” below:

Hotel Wrecking City Traders, “Ode to Chunn” Live at PBS 106.7FM

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Bro Fidelity Records

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