John Garcia and the Band of Gold Self-Titled LP Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

john garcia and the band of gold

With the Jan. 4 release of the self-titled debut/maybe swansong from John Garcia and the Band of Gold, the group’s principle namesake will have issued three solo albums more or less in evolving incarnations. 2014’s John Garcia (review here) was a plugged-in desert rocker credited to the man himself, while last year’s The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) brought Garcia together with guitarist Ehren Groban (War Drum), bassist Mike Pygmie (Mondo GeneratorYou Know Who) and drummer Greg Saenz (The DwarvesYou Know Who) and was mostly acoustic in its unfolding. John Garcia and the Band of Gold leans more toward the former, but features the latter band and also reunites Garcia with Kyuss producer Chris Goss (also of Masters of Reality) — who one recalls had some choice words when Garcia embarked on the partial Kyuss reunion with Vista Chino — sees reworkings of “Kylie,” “The Hollingsworth Session” and “Give Me 250ML” from the last record, turning the latter into a sequel to “Kentucky” from the last Hermano record, now 11 years old, and brings those familiar pieces together with a total 11 new tracks available to preorder now.

On Nov. 29, John Garcia and the Band of Gold make their only US appearance — maybe ever? — at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas, headlining the first night of the Planet Desert Rock Weekend, and then they’re headed to Europe early in 2019. All dates and info follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

john garcia and the band of gold self titled

New Album JOHN GARCIA AND THE BAND OF GOLD out January 4th 2019!

Pre-Order HERE!

JOHN GARCIA, the Kyuss legend returns with his next incarnation of Desert Rock, John Garcia And The Band Of Gold, out on Napalm Records! None other than ex-Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age producer Chris Goss gave this new groovy piece of dust its finishing touches. JOHN GARCIA takes the next step in his almost 30-year career by combining the strengths of his musical past with the achievements of modern times. It’s once again a distinctive JOHN GARCIA album!

JOHN GARCIA on the new album:
“After a year of heavy stress, starting my own studio, shutting it down, hiring and firing, the drama is finally over. Saved by surgeon Chris Goss, this record is finally done. It is unclear if I will ever be doing this again, so this is it. Here it is, proud and loud John Garcia and The Band of Gold record comes out January 4th with supporting tour thereafter. The Vegas jam is my only U.S. electric show and will prove to be something special. I thank my supporters, you keep me going – Big Love from the Garcia res!!”

You can Pre-Order John Garcia And The Band Of Gold HERE!

After starting the stoner rock movement by establishing Kyuss together with Josh Homme (Queens Of the Stone Age, Eagles Of Death Metal), Brant Bjork (ex-Fu Manchu), Nick Oliveri (Ex-Queens Of The Stone Age) in 1990, JOHN GARCIA became one of the most heard voices from the desert in Rock History. No doubt that he had massive impact on the desert rock movement by singing in bands like Hermano, Slo Burn, Unida and Vista Chino. Since his debut album as a solo artist in 2014 via Napalm Records, he has further established his very own trademarks.

JOHN GARCIA And The Band Of Gold live:

After having a meeting between his musical past and present, by playing on one stage with Nick Oliveri (ex-Kyuss), Dave Angstrom (ex-Hermano) and Arthur Seay (ex-Unida) on November 29 in Las Vegas, JOHN GARCIA will return to an extensive tour through Europe with his Band Of Gold:

Special Show w/ Nick Oliveri, Luna Sol, Death in Pretty Wrapping
11.29.18 US – Las Vegas / Vinyl

European Tour 2019
w/ Dead Quiet
23.01.19 FR – Paris / Le Trabendo
24.01.19 FR – Bordeaux / Le Krakatoa
25.01.19 ES – Madrid / Caracol
26.01.19 ES – Barcelona / Razzamatazz 2
28.01.19 FR – Lyon / Le Kao
29.01.19 CH – Zurich / Bogen F.
30.01.19 IT – Milan / Santeria Club
31.01.19 DE – Munich / Backstage Halle
02.02.19 AT – Graz / Explosiv
03.02.19 HU – Budapest / A38
04.02.19 CZ – Prague / Rock Café
05.02.19 DE – Nuremberg / Hirsch
07.02.19 DE – Jena / F-Haus
08.02.19 DE – Berlin / SO36
09.02.19 DK – Copenhagen / Loppen
10.02.19 NO – Oslo / John Dee
12.02.19 FI – Helsinki / Tavastia
14.02.19 SE – Stockholm / Debaser Strand
15.02.19 SE – Gothenburg / Sticky Fingers
16.02.19 DE – Hamburg / Gruenspan
17.02.19 DE – Cologne / Helios 37
19.02.19 BE – Leuven / Het Depot
20.02.19 DE – Aschaffenburg / Colos-Sal
21.02.19 DE – Essen / Turock
22.02.19 NL – Tilburg / 013
23.02.19 UK – London / O2 Academy Islington

John Garcia And The Band Of Gold are:
John Garcia – vocals
Ehren Groban – guitar
Mike Pygmie – bass
Greg Saenz – drums

https://www.facebook.com/JohnGarciaOfficial/
https://www.instagram.com/johngarciasolo/
https://shop.napalmrecords.com/

John Garcia, “Give Me 250ML” official lyric video

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Friday Full-Length: Neurosis, The Eye of Every Storm

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 

So much soul. I have a theory about NeurosisThe Eye of Every Storm — or at very least a kind of fantasy incarnation. It’s basically every song on the album redone by Nina Simone. It would work. Absolutely, not a doubt in my mind, it would work. Think of the arrangements. Think of lines like, “I came to a pile of ashes and sifted through it looking for teeth,” and “So I crawl through the hailstones/My eyes fixed on my return.” It would be amazing, and it would totally, totally work. There is so much soul in this record.

The Eye of Every Storm was released in 2004 as the eighth Neurosis full-length, and it remains a forward-thinking entity unto itself. At that point, the Oakland-based outfit had already blazed a trail through what would continue to become post-metal largely in their wake, records like 1993’s Enemy of the Sun and 1996’s Through Silver in Blood solidifying the progression and approach of 1992’s third outing and pivot away from their hardcore punk beginnings, Souls at Zero (reissue review here), first began. Each of those was crucial in its way, and I’d say the same of 1999’s Times of Grace, but The Eye of Every Storm followed the genre-defining 2001 offering, A Sun That Never Sets (discussed here), and managed to push even beyond that collection’s scope. Comprised of eight tracks for a mammoth and immersive 68-minute runtime, it also was the first pure Neurosis full-length through their own label, Neurot Recordings, though they’d done the two Official Bootleg releases, the Short Wave Warfare live album, and — most relevant — the 2003 collaboration Neurosis & Jarboe, through the imprint as well.

If one looks at Neurosis‘ career as a narrative arc, each album seems to step beyond the last in one direction and/or another. 1990’s The Word as Law built on their 1988 debut, Pain of Mind; Enemy of the Sun built on Souls at Zero, etc. Fine. In that regard, The Eye of Every Storm is another step outward on the part of Neurosis from any sort of delineation of who they “should be.” It was a record that droned as much as it raged, that delivered itself with a patience that even three years earlier was unobtainable, and from the crashing samples Noah Landis brought to opener “Burn,” it was a release of such nuance and sonic detail that 14 years later, one can still listen to it twice and hear something difference each time. Atmosphere of course always played a role in their work, but it was the first time Neurosis were able to make ambience as heavy as the crushing, churning rhythms and tonality that remain a hallmark of their sound.

Following the memorable push of “Burn” and the sweep of “No River to Take Me Home,” the title-track’s near-12-minute reach unfolds a spacious beginning and drops to minimalist bass swells and neurosis the eye of every stormsynth as a bed to execute a build so subtle that one doesn’t even realize what’s happening until it’s already happened. It’s plenty heavy by the finish, but not raging, and though the subsequent “Left to Wander” starts out somewhat manic, after its first minute, it drops to a vast soundscape populated by sparse guitar and a whispered verse. Trades between loud and quiet spaces are common enough in Neurosis‘ style, and certainly in the styles of many of those who’ve taken influence from them, but The Eye of Every Storm smooths the transitions between them to be no more stark than precisely how the band intends: “Left to Wander” lurches to life in its chorus twice before the song hits its halfway point and turns to one of the album’s most outwardly heavy instrumental progressions, marked by tense, rubber-band-about-to-snap-except-it’s-an-arm-tendon toms from drummer Jason Roeder and a wash of guitar noise from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till as Landis on keys and Dave Edwardson on bass seem to hold the proceedings together before the track devolves into a wash ahead of the instrumental “Shelter,” something of a five-minute interlude that nonetheless proves hypnotic early before arriving at a heavier shove in its second half.

I refuse to discount either “Bridges” or “I Can See You” at the end of the album. Particularly the latter is an epilogue that’s essential to the atmospheric impression The Eye of Every Storm leaves behind when it’s over. But for me, the crux has always been in “A Season in the Sky.” As much a narrative poem as it is a song, it begins with, “I had a vision last night…” and from there elucidates a desolation that is nothing short of consuming. The vocals, atop quiet guitar at first, later cutting through undulating riffs, lead initially to a weeping guitar lead that’s the perfect complement to — and here we are — the bare soul on display throughout. The soul. Neurosis are so often misread as cerebral, and while I’ll argue their progression is conscious — I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe a band who’s spent more than 30 years breaking stylistic ground doesn’t also put thought into it — “A Season in the Sky” is so overwhelming precisely because it is a work of raw heart. Every turn is affecting. Every boom of Edwardson‘s bass in its bridge, every in-pocket turn of its groove. It’s all gorgeously arranged and balanced, but it’s all so natural at the same time, and it captures instrumentally the seeking that’s happening in the lyrics in a way that is no less resonant today than when it was released. It’s everything the apex of The Eye of Every Storm should be.

And yes, the stark contrasts of loud and quiet in “Bridges” are a highlight unto themselves — it’s as far as Neurosis go into either on the album — and “I Can See You” ends with a graceful transition between acoustic guitar and a final statement of heft, but I’d argue both still remain informed by the methodical execution of “A Season in the Sky,” as does the rest of The Eye of Every Storm when taken in full.

It doesn’t seem like it now, but it was a long three years before Neurosis returned to issue Given to the Rising in 2007, and by the time they did, they found themselves following a different impulse — still deeply atmospheric, but more intense. I liken it to the album art: grey for The Eye of Every Storm and black for its follow-up.  2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) pushed further along similar lines in its construction, and 2016’s Fires Within Fires (review here) saw the five-piece take a rawer approach in light of passing their prior-alluded 30th anniversary. They continue to tour, in support of that record as well as a series of vinyl reissues of earlier work, and just at the start of this month announced they’ll hit Japan with Converge early in 2019 (dates here). I haven’t heard murmurings of a new album, but it’s early yet, and I wouldn’t ahead of anyone else. Wherever they go next, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

This is a special album to me personally and I think in general. I consider writing about it a gift to myself.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

It’s about quarter after four in the morning. In a couple hours, The Pecan, The Patient Mrs. and I will head south from Massachusetts, first to Connecticut, then to New Jersey. That Pecan turns one year old next week so we’re doing a little family celebration thing tomorrow. It’ll be good to be down there for a couple days, if a long drive to do with the baby in one day. Four or five hours in the car is a lot for him. About double his usual tolerance. We’ll see how it goes.

Need to remember to bring the baby monitor and the white noise machine. We don’t pack light these days, not that I ever did. For a dude who wears nothing but t-shirts, I certainly seem to need a lot of clothes. “What if I’m in the mood for the Slomatics shirt?” as I often am. Also the coffee grinder comes with.

That’s what’s up for the weekend. Should be good and exhausting after a week that was much the same. I had the baby straight through from about 10-5:30 yesterday on my own. He naps and stuff — so do I — but still. Youth, energy, all that. I hear teenagers sleep though, so that’s something to look forward to.

Next week is busy too. I feel like I haven’t done proper notes in a while, so here they are, subject to change blah blah:

Mon.: Bismut premiere/review; The Sonic Dawn video premiere.
Tue.: Vessel of Light review.
Wed.: When the Deadbolt Breaks video premiere.
Thu.: Iron Lamb track premiere.
Fri.: A huge piece on The Wall [Redux] with track premieres and band comments, etc.

That last thing is going to be a monster to put together, but will be awesome once it’s up. Look out for it.

The second episode of “The Obelisk Show” on Gimme Radio airs on Sunday night. Prime time, baby! I still need to do the voice tracks for it, but that’ll happen today at some point. 7PM Eastern, 4PM Pacific at http://gimmeradio.com.

And if you want to hear the first episode, you can sign up for their archive feature. It’s five bucks or something ridiculously cheap like that.

Alright. Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone who’s bought a shirt thus far. I’m still hoping to get hoodies done again at some point, but if these go first, that’ll go a long way toward making that happen. So yeah, thanks. If you want one, they’re here: https://www.dropoutmerch.com/the-obelisk.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Stone Deaf and Salem’s Bend Touring This Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

stone deaf

salem's bend

If these bands aren’t friends yet, one expects they will be by the time they’re done touring together this month. Stone Deaf from Colorado and Salem’s Bend from Los Angeles will hit the road together in about a week’s time, starting out with Stone Deaf doing a date in Vegas alongside Brant Bjork and Mezzoa before the tour picks up a few nights later in Reno and runs through California and back through the desert, finishing Oct. 20 in Tempe, Arizona. Both bands go with relatively new short releases behind them. For Stone Deaf, it’s the covers outing The Bobby Peru EP, with takes on 13th Floor Elevators and David Bowie, and Salem’s Bend have the live-recorded Cold Hand which was tracked while recording the video for the song of the same name.

It’s a relatively quick run, but looks like it’ll be a good time and a chance for both bands to stretch their legs before 2018 starts to wind down. I wouldn’t be surprised if either band had plans in the works for 2019 either for recording or shows or both.

In the meantime, the PR wire:

stone deaf salems bend tour

STONE DEAF/SALEM’S BEND TOUR

Ripple Music bands STONE DEAF and SALEM’S BEND are pleased to announce that they will be embarking on a tour of the United States West Coast next month.

Salem’s Bend commented “We’re stoked to be hitting the road with Stone Deaf- these guys are rad, great tunes and great dudes! We’re also going to hit a couple spots we haven’t played yet this year so we’re excited for that too, reconnect with fans in places we haven’t been to for a while. See ya out on the road!”

Stone Deaf Bandcamp: https://stone-deaf.bandcamp.com/album/royal-burnout

Salem’s Bend bandcamp: https://salemsbend.com/album/salems-bend

Oct 11 – Las Vegas, NV – Count?s Vamp?d *
Oct 16 – Reno, NV – The Saint
Oct 17 – Sonora, CA – Winters Tavern
Oct 18 – Los Angeles, CA – The Redwood Bar
Oct 19 – San Diego, CA – Tower Bar
Oct 20 – Tempe, AZ – Timeout Lounge
* Brant Bjork, Stone Deaf, Mezzoa

https://www.facebook.com/StoneDeafColorado/
https://twitter.com/stonedeafband
http://stone-deaf.com/

http://www.facebook.com/salemsbend
https://salemsbend.com/
http://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/products

Stone Deaf, The Bobby Peru EP (2018)

Salem’s Bend, Cold Hand Live EP (2018)

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Neurosis Announce Feb. 2019 Japan Tour with Converge

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

neurosis-photo-by-stefaan-temmerman

Granted, it’s been a while by now, but I still approach Neurosis from a mindset of remembering that period where they weren’t really a touring band. It was almost 15 years ago now, after they did Ozzfest and were presumably burnt out from that as only bands on the Second Stage could’ve possibly been, and before The Eye of Every Storm came out, around the Neurosis & Jarboe record. I remember going to see them in Philly, and it was an event. They did maybe four shows that entire album cycle? Less than 10 before Given to the Rising landed. Anyway, Neurosis have been on the road again for years now — in the last 12 months, they’ve toured Europe, South America and the West Coast, and if you go back 14 months, the Northeast and Europe (again) as well. Supporting a record that’s two years old already. It still seems counterintuitive to me, but Neurosis have been touring a lot for at least the last five years or so.

Not a complaint, it just still feels kind of weird to me. I can’t think of another band who toured hard, receded and then hit the road again later. At least not a band of Neurosis‘ profile. I’m sure it’s happened, but yeah.

They continue to cover the globe with a Japanese tour in Feb. alongside apparent-buds Converge, with whom they’ve shared the stage multiple times since passing the 30-year mark in 2015.

Details and dates from the PR wire:

neurosis converge tour

NEUROSIS Announces Leave Them All Behind 2019 Tour Of Japan With Converge For February

NEUROSIS continues to book new tours around the globe supporting their acclaimed 2016-released Fires Within Fires LP. Following several major tours with Converge, the two acts team up once again, announcing their return to Japan together with the Leave Them All Behind 2019 tour.

Both NEUROSIS and Converge have a strong connection based on mutual respect and the two acts have been on double headlining tours in America and Europe every year since 2016. The co-headlining Leave Them All Behind 2019 tour sees NEUROSIS returning to Japan for only the second time in their storied career, the first time in 1999, and Converge returning for their first tour of the country in six years.

Booked and organized by Daymare Recordings with Smash, Leave Them All Behind 2019 will run from February 14th through February 17th, with shows in Osaka, Nagoya, and two performances in different sections of Tokyo. Converge will perform a special You Fail Me set at the final concert where NEUROSIS will also perform a different set from the other shows of the tour. Showcasing the current Japanese extreme underground scene, additional support on the first Tokyo show will be provided by Endon and Self Deconstruction, and the second night Palm and Black Ganion.

Advance tickets for all shows will go on sale Saturday October 27th.

NEUROSIS is also confirmed to play at Crucial Fest in Salt Lake City this weekend. Performing as the main headliner, Chelsea Wolfe, Pig Destroyer, Russian Circles, and many more will also play at the two-day event.

Watch for additional NEUROSIS tour dates to be announced in the months ahead.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
Leave Them All Behind 2019 w/ Converge:
2/14/2019 Trad – Osaka, JP
2/15/2019 E.L.L. – Nagoya, JP
2/16/2019 O-East – Shbuya, Tokyo, JP w/ Endon, Self Deconstruction
2/17/2019 Unit – Daikanyama, Tokyo, JP w/ Palm, Black Ganion

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com
http://www.twitter.com/neurosisoakland
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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Friday Full-Length: Fu Manchu, Daredevil

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Fu Manchu, Daredevil (1995)

What’s most incredible about listening to the earliest Fu Manchu albums, whether that’s 1995’s Daredevil or their preceding 1994 debut, No One Rides for Free (reissue review here), is just how vividly the band knew even at that point what they wanted to do. Granted, guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill, bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano had worked together in the prior outfit, Virulence, whose work Southern Lord reissued in 2010 as the collection, If this isn’t a Dream… 1985-1989 (review here), but even so, for all of Fu Manchu‘s reputation as a bunch of aloof, laid back surfer dudes who, I don’t know, just happened to plug in their guitars and help define fuzz rock?, the coherence and the consciousness at work in No One Rides for Free and Daredevil, the sheer songcraft in cuts like “Trapeze Freak,” “Gathering Speed,” “Sleestak,” “Egor” and “Push Button Magic,” the structure of the album — CD era linearity, to be sure, but still vinyl-ready at 11 tracks/43 minutes, and indeed reissued by the band on LP in 2015 via their At the Dojo imprint; it’s up on their Bandcamp page — and the performances themselves leave no doubt that Fu Manchu were aware of the sound they were seeking out. The groove that would so much come to fruition on subsequent outings like 1996’s In Search Of… (discussed here) and 1997’s The Action is Go (discussed here), the Eatin’ Dust 10″ in ’99 and 2000’s King of the Road, was already embedded in their sound, and in its toneand overarching flow, Daredevil shows that without question. It emits that SoCal sense of cool born of skate and surf culture that still resonates nearly a quarter-century later, and not just because kids are walking around in flannels and boots again (hilarious though that is), but because it taps into the timeless notion of American self-determinism; the will and ability to look at what the masses are doing and say, “nah, not for me.” As long as there’s been cool, that’s been it, and listening back to Daredevil now, thinking of it in its world-just-getting-over-grunge-and-wondering-what’s-next context, Fu Manchu were doing precisely that.

As the band continued to evolve into the immediately-identifiable processes it continues to carry out to this day — their latest album, Clone of the Universe (review here), is a winner — so too did the lineup change. Daredevil marked the departure of Abshire from the four-piece with HillRomano and lead guitarist Eddie Glass, and the arrival of bassist Brad Davis, who remains in the lineup. One might then think of it as a bridge between the debut and In Search Of… to come, but that does something of a disservice to the chorus of “Coyote Duster,” the fu manchu daredevilstart-stop riff and Glass‘ solo there, or the shimmy in second cut “Tilt,” which backs “Trapeze Freak” at the outset and, like that track, tosses the name of the record into the lyrics. Certainly at the time Daredevil came out, no one knew Fu Manchu would be back the next year with a genre landmark, and while Daredevil still has its formative elements in terms of their approach, to listen to the semi-spaced push of “Travel Agent” and its ultra-stoned nodder compatriot “Sleestak” and its consciousness-drifting answer in “Space Farm,” the roots of what they’d become are right there in the depth of distortion, the weight of their rhythm and their seemingly endless supply of hooks. “Lug” has some elements of the Southern Cali punk scene that birthed them, and “Egor” and “Wurkin'” back-to-back are solid mid-paced groovers that are no less memorable than anything before them while retaining their edge as more than just exercises in songwriting. Top it off with “Push Button Magic” as a late highlight, and Daredevil winds up as a completely underrated inclusion in the Fu Manchu catalog. It may be the that the Hill/Glass/Davis/Romano lineup were getting their feet under them in these songs, but there’s no question they absolutely did so at some point before they hit the studio to record. Seriously, who’s gonna fight with Glass‘ watery solo in “Space Farm?” Jerks, that’s who.

There’s no denying — and I mean none — what Fu Manchu would go on to create, and I’m not taking anything away from those records. And as Glass and Romano departed in order to re-team with Abshire in Nebula, and a fresh-off-Kyuss Brant Bjork took over on drums and Bob Balch came in on lead guitar, Fu Manchu‘s delivery only continued to smooth itself out to a point of unmatched fuzzy refinement. One could argue that 2001’s California Crossing and 2004’s Start the Machine (the latter their lone release on DRT Records, which at that point was also handling Clutch) took them too far into a commercial direction, but that’s mostly a quibble with production value, since Fu Manchu have always been and remain an immediately accessible listen. Even unto their Century Media years with 2007’s We Must Obey (discussed here) and 2009’s Signs of Infinite Power (discussed here), which beefed up their fuzz considerably, they never had anything approaching pretense in their sound, and their latter-day work on 2014’s Gigantoid (review here) and the aforementioned Clone of the Universe, has found them reopening the conversation with their punk and hardcore roots with a rawer take while retaining an affinity for the heavier elements they helped make so essential in the first place. Classic band? Definitely.

And most importantly, the value of Daredevil extends beyond the academic to the songs themselves. 23 years after the fact, it’s still a gnarly listen, brimming with attitude and a quality of output that, yes, demonstrates clearly that Fu Manchu‘s vision of fuzzy heavy rock was not happenstance, but moreover, simply kicks ass. To my knowledge, they’ve never played it in its entirety live as they have The Action is GoIn Search Of… and (I believe) King of the Road, and I’m not sure they would, as it doesn’t have the same kind of profile as those records, but if any of these tracks made its way into a set, as “Push Button Magic” still does every now and then, I can only imagine feeling lucky to be there to see it.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

If you’re reading this, that at least means I made it to the end of the week enough to get it posted, so you’ll pardon me if I take a second to congratulate myself on that.

Before I get into anything else, I want to say thanks to everybody who listened to the first episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. Can’t even begin to tell you how much that means to me. If you get the chance, it’s re-airing two more times over the next couple days:

Saturday, Sept 29 at 11am ET / 8am PT
Monday, October 1 at 11am ET / 8am PT

If you get to check it out, it’s hugely appreciated.

I’ve already turned in a playlist for a second episode — yes, it starts with YOB — but have to learn how to use their voice-recording dealy before it actually gets to air. We’ll see how it goes. Either way, my plan is to bring on The Patient Mrs. for a guest spot following up on the first episode’s cameo.

And next week I’m also traveling to Norway for the Høstsabbat festival, so I might try to chase down dudes in Asteroid or Elephant Tree, etc., and see if they want to record a couple minutes to air at a later time. That would probably be episode three. Look at me, thinking ahead.

I leave for that on Thursday, get into Oslo on Friday. Fest starts Friday evening, runs through Saturday, starting in the afternoon, and then I fly back on Sunday. Quick, efficient, in and out. My flights have a layover in Copenhagen, but nothing long enough to actually leave the airport. Still, I’ve never been to Denmark. Now at least I can say I was in and out. That’s more than I’ve ever been able to do with Sweden, much to my ongoing shame.

But I’m looking forward to Høstsabbat and incredibly grateful for the chance to get back there. It’s going to be good.

The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I were in Connecticut last weekend, and it was good to get out of the house for a couple days and kind of reset the brain after having to put The Much-Missed Little Dog Dio down. At least not be somewhere where everything reminds me of her, which seems to be the case at home. It’s been rough. I know loss is universal, and everyone goes through it, and it always sucks, but some you feel more than you feel others. This one I’ll have with me for as long as I have anything.

What part of the week I didn’t spend writing or falling asleep against my will, I mostly spent taking care of the baby. Last semester, The Patient Mrs.’ schedule allowed her to come home between classes, feed him before she went back, and at least give me a couple minutes to get a post up or do something crazy like shower or go to the bathroom. The shifts (that is, mine) are longer now and her commitments outside of teaching classes are manifold. Lot of meetings, lot of favors done for colleagues. The Pecan is 11 months old as of earlier this week. He’s walking and babbling, climbing the furniture and getting into absolutely everything, but he’s also a lot, a lot, a lot of fun right now.

He’s had stretches where it’s been hard to take — those early teething stretches were not great — but (fingers always crossed) he’s sleeping through the night, which I know because I’m up for most of it and have the baby monitor on while I write, and he wants to play and read books and mash up blueberries and laugh and have a good time. Sure, we spent all day yesterday watching the Kavanaugh hearing, and that was probably the most screen-time he’s ever had, but even so, it’s a blast to chase him around the room, pick him up, give him his stuffed Porg to play with and so on. A lot of fun. Feels good. Money is super-tight — as in, The Patient Mrs. got paid last Friday and we were broke by the time I finished grocery shopping and buying gas this past Tuesday — but “daddy” is the best job I’ve ever had, hands down.

Emotions.

I’ve got a lot of stuff in the works for next week, including at some point a Wasted Theory video premiere that needs to get placed, but here’s where the notes are at right now ahead of the Norway trip:

Mon.: Megaton Leviathan interview and track premiere.
Tue.: The Exploding Eyes Orchestra album stream.
Wed.: Bourbon album stream.
Thu.: Probably Wasted Theory video premiere or otherwise Windhand review.
Fri.: King Buffalo interview… me.

A word about that last entry: Yes. Drummer Scott Donaldson from King Buffalo wanted to do an interview with me. He sent me questions and I answered them, and I’m going to post that on Friday. It was a fun, silly kind of thing, and it feels super-weird and self-glorifying in a way that makes me really, really uncomfortable, but it gives me another chance to talk about their new record, so whatever. I hate the thought of posting it like it’s some ego trip like who the fuck am I to think anyone gives a shit about anything I say other than “yo, riffs are cool,” but yeah. I’ve told myself I’m putting it up and in all likelihood, unless I can manage to talk myself out of it between now and then — as, rest assured, a big part of me is trying to do — it’ll be up sometime before the fest starts on Friday in Oslo.

Alright, that’s enough. It’s 5AM and time to put up the first of today’s six posts. Woof. Then maybe I’ll have some more coffee and read or go back upstairs and try to crash out for a bit until the baby gets up, which I expect he will within the hour. I was up a few times between when I first fell asleep at 9PM and 2:30AM when the alarm went off, so whether it’s during baby-nap or what, more sleep is probably going to happen today one way or another.

Have a great and safe weekend, and again, thank you for reading. Back Monday, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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Atala Announce November Southwestern Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

atala

With three shows in Arizona, one in New Mexico, one in L.A., and a last one in Mexico, I think it’s fair to call Atala‘s upcoming November tour one of the Southwest, but there are also dates in Salt Lake City, Denver and Wichita, Kansas, so there’s some geographical reach there as well. It’s a nine-date trek, all told, for the desert-dwelling atmosludge three-piece, who go supporting early 2018’s Labyrinth of Ashmedai (review here), released by Salt of the Earth Records, and the tour is presented by the label and Dropout Media. I haven’t heard much about Atala‘s plans for 2019 either way, whether they’ll do shows, write, or record, or lay low and/or continue to herald Labyrinth of Ashmedai, but if they’ve got new material, they’re not shy about showing it off, so there’s always the chance, and either way, I can tell you from experience at both Maryland Doom Fest and Roadburn that they deliver live. The first time Jeff Tedtaotao blows out your eardrums with his crash, you’ll be happy you showed up. I wouldn’t try to steer you wrong.

The PR wire brings the dates and the whathaveyous. Goes like this:

atala tour

CA Desert Doom masters, ATALA, announce West Coast tour

After a short hibernation, ATALA is ready to devastate the west coast when they embark on their upcoming “Destroy Yourself” tour. This string of dates in support of their recent release “Labyrinth Of Ashmedai”(Salt Of The Earth Records) will see the California Hi-Desert natives bringing their brand of dark and heavily emotional doom metal to new areas and regions in an effort to spread the gospel of heavy… in other words, they are firing up the van and bringing the music directly to the people.

No strangers to roadwork ATALA have been featured performers at festivals far and wide such as The Maryland Doomfest, The New England Stoner and Doom Fest, SX Stoner Jam, and the true Mecca of riff worship: ROADBURN (Tilburg, Netherlands)!

ATALA has shared the stage with acts such as The Obsessed, EARTHRIDE, Baroness, Pallbearer, Coven, Buzzard Canyon, Chelsea Wolfe, to name just a few… the time is coming, you have been warned… Do not miss ATALA when they hit a city near you!

November 1st – Los Angeles CA – The Blvd
November 2nd – Salt Lake City UT – TBA
November 3rd – Denver CO – The Bar Bar
November 4th – Wichita KS – TBA
November 5th – Santa Fe NM – Boxcar
November 6th – Flagstaff AZ – The Green Room
November 7th – Tuscon AZ – Hotel Congress
November 8th – Tempe AZ – Yucca Tap Room
November 9th – Nogales Mexico – Roots Bar

ATALA is:
Kyle Stratton (Guitar and Vocals)
Jeff Tedtaotao (Drums)
Dave Horn (Bass)

https://www.facebook.com/ataladesertrock/
https://atalarock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.atalarock.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/

Atala, “Wilted Leaf” fficial video

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High on Fire, Electric Messiah: Sanctioned Annihilation

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

high on fire electric messiah

Raging furies, unmistakable gallop, deceptively inventive rhythms and Matt Pike‘s gutturalist vocals from with in the tempest — Electric Messiah bears all the hallmarks of latter-day High on Fire and then some. It is the Oakland trio’s eighth full-length, their fourth with E1 Music and their third that finds Pike, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensel working with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge, etc.) following 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here). Obviously it’s hard to know at this point whether that relationship between band and producer will continue going forward — hard to think of a reason for it not to unless the three-piece just decided to try someone else at the helm next time — but if one thinks of Electric Messiah as the third installment in a to-date trilogy, then it at very least proves there continues to be life in the collaboration six years after it first got going.

Since High on Fire debuted on E1 in 2010 with Snakes for the Divine (review here) after leaving Relapse Records following 2007’s Jack Endino-produced Death is This Communion (discussed here), the arc of their progression has seen them become more and more of a metal band, trading thickness of tone for a sharper edge to the aggression in Pike‘s riffs and to the presentation of their production. Luminiferous was perhaps the most fervent example of this, though Snakes for the Divine is arguably the cleanest-sounding High on Fire release in terms of the actual recording. Electric Messiah, slightly longer than its two immediate predecessors at 56 minutes and nine tracks, beefs up the tones from Pike‘s guitar and Matz‘s bass and, in combination with the always-vicious impact of Kensel‘s drumming — somehow still an underrated factor in the band 18 years after their debut, The Art of Self-Defense, saw its first release — it makes for some of the chewiest output High on Fire have had in more than a decade going back to Death is This Communion if not 2005’s Blessed Black Wings (discussed here).

That doesn’t mean High on Fire are playing the stoner thrash of their earliest days, but it does mean that to go along with their ripping speed and tight performances, there’s an underlying bombast to songs like opener “Spewn from the Earth,” “The Pallid Mask” and closer “Drowning Dog,” the latter two of which touch on cleaner vocal styles from Pike — who’s long flirted with melody amid his harsher shouts — that adds further dimension to the sound of Electric Messiah on the whole. The well-publicized lead single/title-track, with lyrics written reportedly in homage to Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, to whom Pike has often been compared, is a full-on scorcher as it inevitably would be, and along with the later “Freebooter” and the aforementioned opener, is among the fastest cuts here, but even these songs showcase a heft of tone on the part of the guitar and bass — frankly, the drums don’t exactly lack weight either — that ties them to the march in longer pieces like nine-minute second track “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil” and “Sanctioned Annihilation.”

high on fire

Appearing at the end of side B on the first of the two LPs, “Sanctioned Annihilation” is notable on its face for, at 10:29, being the longest song High on Fire have ever written; they only other time they touched the 10-minute mark was “Master of Fists” from The Art of Self-Defense, which was 10:06. They don’t waste the time, and instead offer one of their most dynamic compositions, moving from a quiet but tense beginning into a raucous double-kick assault before shifting into a triplet-gallop that consumes the track’s middle third and perhaps sees Pike taking some influence from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, who’s made the staccato chugs something of a trademark, though again, it’s an opportunity for Kensel to demonstrate just how special a player he is as he locks step with Matz and Pike on his bass drum and lends a severity that is as much militaristic as it is barbarians-coming-over-the-hill. “Sanctioned Annihilation” moves into further war-drum thud and one of Pike‘s many impressive carbon-burning solos, but remains informed by that rhythmic surge, and as the second LP moves into expanded sonic territory with “The Pallid Mask” and the righteously for-the-converted, HighonFire-being-HighonFire — the band acting as their own aesthetic — “God of the Godless,” the sprawl of “Sanctioned Annihilation” continues to have an effect on the listener.

It is not a minor undertaking at nearly an hour long, and it’s not a minor undertaking in terms of its sound — one could easily get out of breath just trying to keep up with the band even in their slower moments — but each piece on the second LP earns its place, whether its the familiar of “God of the Godless,” which is the kind of track that as one comes back for multiple listens only seems to land harder and harder, or the blistering “Freebooter,” which reinvents Slayer‘s moodier ping-ride-isms en route to an absolute massacre. With both over six minutes, the closing duo of “The Witch and the Christ” and “Drowning Dog” are something of a salvo unto themselves, but the former alternates between nods and headbangs, and the finale, again, “Drowning Dog” almost seems to sneak in its more rock-based approach while still remaining consistent in tone and its noisy affect. It’s not out of place by any means, but put next to a song like “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil,” which isn’t entirely void of melody either in its layers of guitar or later vocals, it’s moving toward a different end.

Such grit isn’t new for High on Fire, but what makes Electric Messiah stand out as it does is how it blends new and old within the band’s particular sound. High on Fire remain one of the most recognizable acts in metal regardless of subgenre, and Electric Messiah reshapes that sphere as it sees fit to best serve the songs. For all its brashness and axe-swinging triumphs, it’s unquestionably the work of professionals on all fronts — that includes Ballou certainly, and Skinner, who did the cover art — and it finds High on Fire marking their 20th year with a reaffirmation of who they are, were and will be not just by trodding out expected elements, but by using them in fresh-sounding and exciting ways. They’re big enough that there will be opinions on all sides, but established fans will have no trouble getting on board with Electric Messiah‘s bludgeoning revelry.

High on Fire, “Electric Messiah” lyric video

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Brant Bjork Posts “Chocolatize” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

Whoever keeps the records of these things, let the record state that when I started the very first episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio, it was with this track. The opener from Brant Bjork‘s new album, Mankind Woman (review here), which was also premiered here over the summer, is a clarion to anyone who’d be so bold as to let a little funk into their heart, and frankly, we should all be so lucky to do precisely that. And of course the video keeps it loose, opening up with Bjork turning on the camera and sitting down next to his record player to check out the test pressing of Mankind Woman, only to pick up his guitar and play along to the song before he, as a full band on drums, bass and guitar, jams out the track in its entirety.

That’s a blast in itself, and of course it ends with him lighting up a joint and shutting off said camera after the song has ended, but there’s more going on in the video than just that. It’s loaded with easter eggs and references. To wit, in the opening shot, when Bjork is sitting in his badass retro living room — look at that lamp! — there are two piles of records in front of the cabinet, and facing out from them are the covers for Bob Dylan‘s 1965 album Bringing it all Back Home, on which the then-folk hero went electric, and the 1970 self-titled debut from Funkadelic, which aside from being one of the best albums ever released by anybody — period — relates to the song via the use of “chocolate,” as that same unit, as Parliament, would soon enough issue 1975’s Chocolate CityBjork might as well be recommending these to viewers, and with Hendrix showing up later on as well, one could hardly argue with his picks.

Note as well the Star Wars action figures in a display case, and the television in the living room where he’s playing bass that has the early Star Trek episode “Shore Leave” on wherein the crew of the Enterprise trips out on some planet’s atmosphere and all conjure various oddities in their mind, for Captain Kirk a certain Cadet Finnegan who used to beat him up at Starfleet Academy. It’s not there for long, but trust me, that’s the episode. Those are both cool inclusions, but perhaps the best of all is the Dylan reference, which continues into the video itself as the song makes its way to the chorus, the trippy visuals of the verse cut out and we see Bjork standing outside switching hats with words from the lyrics on them: “chocolatize,” “right on,” etc. This of course is a nod to Dylan‘s iconic promo video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” much referenced for his holding up signs with the words to the song on them. It’s a smart twist and fits the vibe of the track well. He ends with “love” and “dig.,” respectively. Badass.

One might also spot an open gatefold Black Sabbath LP on a shelf and I’m sure there are numerous others to be found. Either way, this is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year — it’s on that list, to be sure — and the more opportunities to dig into it, the better.

So here’s one. Enjoy:

Brant Bjork, “Chocolatize” official video

After the successful release of his critically acclaimed, thirteenth solo album “Mankind Woman”, BRANT BJORK is now premiering a brand new music video for the track “Chocolatize”. Welcome to Brant’s living room, dive with him into the desert and the psychedelic grooves of his brand new album, your trip starts below!

With an unprecedented sense of groove – the one and only Brant Bjork Groove – “Mankind Woman” is BRANT BJORK’s first ever release on European independent powerhouse Heavy Psych Sounds Records. Already described as his catchiest to date, this 11-track gem presents the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist’s take on 60s and 70s music era. Joined by long-time friend and Low Desert Punk musician Bubba Dupree, Brant Bjork blends the finest of his classic rock, rhythm’n’blues and funk influences to craft a groovy, hook-laden record that adds to a prolific and always heat-warming collection of records from the legendary desert rocker.

Once again, Brant Bjork makes here a record that reminds the listener that it was the ingredients of jazz, blues and funk that makes rock music taste so good.

Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (2018)

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