Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Black Cobra at this point — the most recent was with Lo-Pana couple months back in Cambridge — but I’ve never watched them get on a stage and not subsequently destroy that stage and the room surrounding with a relentless assault of volume and intensity. The news that they’re doing a run down the West Coast with Wolvhammer is nifty, and though I won’t get to see them this time, it’s good to know they’re out there, but the buried lead here is that they’ve begun writing for a follow-up to 2011’s excellent Invernal (review here) and that indeed is something to look forward to.
Not much info on the new record yet, but that progress is even vaguely underway is more than I’d heard to this point, so right on. The PR wire has info:
BLACK COBRA To Headline West Coast December Tour With Wolvhammer; Band Continues To Hatch New Material For Next LP
With the dust settling on the country consequent to the band’s recent full US tour with support from Lo Pan, San Francisco’s most devastating duo, BLACK COBRA, will shred the West Coast this December with support from Midwest cult, Wolvhammer.
As Wolvhammer treks westward on the second phase of Desanctifying North America 2014, they’ll liaise with the mighty BLACK COBRA in Portland, Oregon on December 3rd. From there, the two bands will lay down an extremely diversified but wholly deadly salvo of metallic destruction in Seattle, Eugene, Sacramento, Los Osos, Santa Cruz, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura before the final gig of the tour for BLACK COBRA in San Francisco on December 13th, while Wolvhammer tours back east.
BLACK COBRA West Coast Tour w/ Wolvhammer: 12/03/2014 Rotture – Portland, OR 12/04/2014 Highline – Seattle, WA 12/05/2014 Wow Hall – Eugene, OR 12/06/2014 Press Club – Sacramento, CA 12/07/2014 Sweet Springs – Los Osos, CA 12/08/2014 Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA 12/10/2014 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA 12/11/2014 Complex – Los Angeles, CA 12/12/2014 The Garage – Ventura, CA 12/13/2014 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
While little else from BLACK COBRA is available for public consumption at press time, the band has been slaving away on new material which is being penned for their next full-length album which will be completed in the first several months of 2015 for release later in the year.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’ve got just a minute of your time to give, It’s Casual would like to punch you in the face. The L.A.-based one-man outfit helmed by vocalist/guitarist/bassist/drummer Eddie Solis will release their new album, The New Los Angeles II, on Dec. 16 through Stoked Records. As the title hints, it’s a sequel to 2007’s The New Los Angeles, and even opens with a couple seconds fading out the drum progression of that record’s closer, “EZ Pass.” From there, however, The New Los Angeles II is a different beast, likewise pointed in its social commentary — Solis is vehement in his support for public transit — but turning his attention on real budget issues in Los Angeles. He’s the kind of guy who will run for mayor one day who will make more sense than everyone else and get the least airtime.
To wit, songs like “Less Violence, More Violins,” “Keep the Children Occupied,” “Sharing is Not Caring” and “Their Own Cash” point out the madness of not funding public education — the latter’s only lyrics, “Teachers use their own cash to buy stuff for their class,” are repeated in the Black Flag tradition of emphasizing absurdity through insistence — where “TAP Card,” “WIC” and “California is Not an ATM Machine” take on economic issues via real-world concerns, all the while pummeling a blend of heavy punk and thrash, Solis‘ growl pushing out minimalist lines that leave a maximum impression. The album as a whole is 27 minutes long, and about nine of those are devoted to the instrumental noise rocker “The Gap is Widening,” which leads the way into closer “Kids Having Kids,” so It’s Casual never take too long in making a point, every other track (including the closer, though that also makes room for a hidden bonus cut) under two minutes. The word of the day is “immediacy,” and It’s Casual are well familiar with it.
The New Los Angeles II is It’s Casual‘s fourth full-length, behind a 2009 split 7″ with Bullet Treatment, the first installment, 2004’s Stop Listening to Bad Music and 2002’s Buicregl, and it finds Solis — who also hosts the Los Angeles Nista talk show on AM radio — in his element musically and in terms of the commentary at hand. “Their Own Cash,” likewise true and infuriating, serves as a prime example of the record’s attitude and call to arms, and I’m happy to be able to host the streaming premiere today of it, as well as the Q&A with Solis that follows the player below.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Q&A with Eddie Solis of It’s Casual
On “Their Own Cash”:
It’s really a POSITIVE track. I am trying to bring to light that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and other school districts are suffering from lack of resources. And that causes a trickle-down effect, for instance the music and art programs are cut and that leads to a challenge to keep the kids occupied. However what about the teachers’ perspective? What about their challenges? I have lots of friends and family that are teachers. They are already challenged with a modest salary but what about the ones that use “THEIR OWN CASH” for supplies? The song is a cry for help. It’s a testimony to the teachers who care and it’s also a cry for help. A topic that should be brought to light and should also be targeted and remedied. The lyrics: “Teachers use their own cash, to buy stuff for their class.”
Why The New Los Angeles II seven years after the original?
Seven years later because our album cycle didn’t really start till 2012. The record wasn’t properly distributed worldwide, toured and written about in the press till 2012.
Is the album a statement on sequel culture?
Yes, it is a statement on sequel culture. The New Los Angeles I was about being car-free, and celebrating the rich Los Angeles history through the eyes of a bus rider. However, The New Los Angeles II goes deeper. The New Los Angeles I was about history, culture, geography. Also a car-free lifestyle in a car culture. This The New Los Angeles II is about reporting on what I’m seeing on the buses and subway system. The people that are sitting right next to me. I’m talking about challenges people are facing. The positivity and the negativity, the yin and yang.
Any chance we could get a prequel at some point, something like The Old Los Angeles?
Yes, very possible. It’s realistic because there is a type of person that has been spawned from Los Angeles that is destructive and stunted and I want shed light on the sociology aspect of where this all comes from. Pre-MTA public transportation, L.A. life.
At what point did you know it would be The New Los Angeles II instead of some other title?
I was conscious. The New Los Angeles I inspired me. It was due to the fact that I was so inspired by all the press, shows and the music video that Rick Kosick of Jackass did for “The Redline.” It spawned my radio show Los Angeles Nista which started on internet-only but is now on AM talk radio as well in three major markets: Orange County (1510AM), Inland Empire (1510AM) and San Diego (1450AM). So when I wrote part two, it was about the same thread of commonality but going deeper into the neighborhoods and connecting with people.
Why the long break between albums?
The album cycle to the previous record started in 2012 so it was necessary.
When did the songs start to come together?
June 2012 was the pre-production date. And we tracked mixed and mastered in Aug. 2012, but the tracks started coming together during early 2012. The inspiration and juice came from The New Los Angeles I album cycle in 2012.
What was the recording like in comparison to the original The New Los Angeles?
Very similar. In fact the beginning of The New Los Angeles II starts out the way part one ends. The comparison and common thread is that it is completely is all about Los Angeles and is inspired by being car-free and green.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Neurosis are in Mexico City next weekend for the Bestia festival, and they’ve also just announced they’ll do a trio of California shows to round out 2014, a year that’s already seen them play multiple shows and fests in a kind of gradual return to playing live which, if you’ll recall, they weren’t so much about for most of the last decade. They’ve already confirmed Maryland Deathfest for 2015 and one imagines it won’t be the only gig they wind up playing. If they keep it up, one might almost be tempted to think of them as a touring band again. How that might play into the post-metal progenitors following-up their 2012 studio outing, Honor Found in Decay (review here), is anyone’s best guess, but if time has proven anything it’s that the appropriate course of action is to let Neurosis do whatever the fuck they want at their own pace and excellence will ensue.
The PR wire lets you know how it is:
NEUROSIS Announces Trio Of Year-End California Performances
NEUROSIS has just confirmed three more shows for 2014, set to take place during the final days of the year in California. While the members of NEUROSIS currently reside in numerous areas of the country, the Bay Area will forever remain the land of the band’s origin, and to commemorate one of their most active years performing abroad in their nearly three decades in existence, they’ll unite for a trio of concerts including two shows back where it all began.
The first of the year-end live run will see NEUROSIS playing at The Observatory in Orange County’s Santa Ana on Monday, December 29th. The next two evenings — Tuesday, December 30th and Wednesday the 31st — will see the band back in their native Bay Area lands, with two consecutive shows at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Supporting NEUROSIS on all three of these headlining shows will be an incredibly diverse and destructive lineup, including Portland’s morose d-beat hardcore icons, Tragedy, San Diego-based industrial drone man/machine act, Author & Punisher, and San Francisco’s sludge/noise rock outfit, Kowloon Walled City.
NEUROSIS Tour Dates: 11/19-23/2014 Bestia Festival – Mexico City, MX w/ The Ex, Monogatari, more 12/29/2014 The Conservatory – Santa Ana, CA w/ Tragedy, Author & Punisher, Kowloon Walled City 12/30/2014 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA w/ Tragedy, Author & Punisher, Kowloon Walled City 12/31/2014 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA w/ Tragedy, Author & Punisher, Kowloon Walled City 5/24/2015 Maryland Deathfest – Baltimore, MD w/ Amorphis, Anaal Nathrakh, Goatsnake, Primordial, more
The newly-announced trio of performances comes as NEUROSIS continues their massive 2014 live campaign, as the band has just conquered the Housecore Horror Film Fest in Austin, Texas, as well as Southwest Terror Fest III in Tucson, Arizona, and next week will headline the second annual Bestia Festival in Mexico City, Mexico. The five-day gala, set to run from November 19th to the 23rd, will include performances from The Ex, Monogatari, (SIC), Han Bennink, Terrie Ex, Marc Ribot, Ray Anderson, Bob Stewart and others confirmed, in addition to music workshops, film screenings and more will fill the festival grounds. Additional NEUROSIS concerts for 2015 are aligning, including the band’s return to Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore alongside fellow Neurot acts Ufomammut and Yob, where NEUROSIS plays on Sunday, May 24th with Amorphis, Anaal Nathrakh, Demilich, Goatsnake, Inverloch, Primordial, Winter, Tombs and more.
Following the release of their Live At Roadburn 2007 album and reissues of some of the band’s most seminal recordings — including their Souls At Zero and Enemy Of The Sun LPs and the Sovereign EP — throughout 2010 and 2011, NEUROSIS released one of their most ambitious albums to date, with 2012’s mighty Honor Found In Decay LP, all through their own cultivated Neurot Recordings. The album showcased the band taking their esoteric but leveling and categorization-free style of extreme music to even diverse areas of exploration, and following the record release show for the album, the outfit disbanded with their longtime visuals at their live shows, empowering their grand anthems to their fans in a monolithic, more human approach. Since its release, NEUROSIS has been more active tour-wise than they have since before the turn of the millennium, and seemingly shows no time of ending the campaign any time soon.
Posted in Reviews on November 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
To call Black Power Flower a Brant Bjork solo release would be a misnomer. Undoubtedly he’s the principal songwriter, as each of the album’s 10 tracks bear his penchant for smooth, laid back desert groove, funky turns and ’70s slang — to wit, “That’s a Fact, Jack,” “Hustler’s Blues,” “Buddha Time (Everything Fine)” — but the presence of the other players in the Low Desert Punk Band, of guitarist Bubba DuPree (ex-Void), bassist Dave Dinsmore (formerly of Bjork‘s Ché project) and knocks-it-right-out-of-the-park drummer Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson), and the energy infused into the recording itself gives the record a full band feel worthy of consideration as more than the work of one artist. Add to that the jammy sensibility in a cut like closer “Where You from Man” and it becomes clear there’s more than one player at the heart of the group, however much it may be Bjork calling the shots. The former Kyuss and Fu Manchu drummer’s last solo outing was 2010’s Gods and Goddesses (review here), and though he initially signed to Napalm Records late in that same year, it’s not until now that this follow-up outing is surfacing, Bjork having spent the last several years taking part in the semi-reunion of Kyuss in Kyuss Lives! and Vista Chino, whose 2013 debut, Peace (review here), was also released through the label. As vocalist John Garcia put that project on hiatus to focus on his own solo work, so too did Bjork pick back up with his own new band, though between recording at Thunder Underground and the winding guitar lines of “Soldier of Love,” there definitely feels like there’s continuity between Vista Chino‘s Peace and Black Power Floweras well.
Whatever end of the desert they might come from, the band’s punk roots come through solidly across the album, beginning with the upbeat shuffle of opener “Controllers Destroyed” and the following “We Don’t Serve Their Kind,” which commence a catchy side A on Black Power Flower that keeps momentum driving forward despite fluctuations in pace. The actual opening riff is slow enough to give a surprisingly doomed feel, but driven by Tornay‘s toms and Dinsmore‘s bass, the Low Desert Punk Band soon kick into gear and Bjork arrives for an initial couple lines of vocals sounding very much in command of the proceedings. His singing style, immediately recognizable, has been a major factor in all of his releases, solo or with past backing groups like The Operators or The Bros., and it is on Black Power Flower as well, a semi-spoken delivery finding melody in layers and sitting so well on top of fuzzed-out grooves in later cuts like “Ain’t No Runnin'” or the quiet first half of the penultimate “Hustler’s Blues,” which boasts one of the collection’s most memorable lyrics in the line, “How do you say no to the woman that makes you tea?” Before they get there, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band continue the initial push on “Stokely up Now,” the catchiest hook with a call and response chorus and a title likely namedropping ’60s Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael, though I haven’t seen a lyric sheet to be sure. It would fit with the name of the album itself, and though words are sparse, “Where You from Man” seems to be addressing issues of race as well in its way, echoing cop-impression voices asking, “Hey man, where you from?” etc. “Buddha Time (Everything Fine)” and “Soldier of Love” fit together well after the surge of “Stokely up Now,” both having some of that Vista Chino spirit at their core — Bjork was, of course, a major songwriting contributor to that band and may be again if they decide to do another LP — and the latter seems to set up a conversation about gender taken up on side B with “Hustler’s Blues” with the lyrics “See, these chicks have a way of running this beautiful universe,” followed by something about if you don’t believe it, hold the purse. Not exactly hard-hitting analysis, but it’s catchy.
Bass starts “Boogie Woogie on Your Brain” to open Black Power Flower‘s second half, a somewhat moodier presence in the low-end fuzz and rougher shout from Bjork himself, but the tension built opens up just past the halfway point and the vocals smooth out to match, a satisfying nod emerging momentarily before shifting back into the verse, which closes out and gives way to the wah-soaked funk of “That’s a Fact, Jack,” one of the clearest two-guitar grooves on offer. A rolling riff is established after dual noodling, and the vocals skate easily over the wah, coming in layers for the initial chorus part, which does right to hold back on the title line until the second round through, making the song a standout less driving than “We Don’t Serve Their Kind” or “Controllers Destroyed” but still righteously fuzzed. “Hustler’s Blues” and the jammier “Where You from Man,” the latter also the longest inclusion at 8:13, make a departure of a closing duo, but aren’t out of place with the atmosphere of Black Power Flower overall, “Hustler’s Blues” taking off right around 2:45 for an instrumental second half topped by exploratory leads, heavy and immersive and “Where You from Man” feeling its way through its progression, the vocals seemingly added after the fact or maybe just tossed in off-the-cuff, a subtle nod around four minutes in to the central riff of Kyuss‘ “Green Machine” not lost in the mix but well placed to blend with its surroundings. They end with a noisy wash of a finish on perhaps their most full-band note, showing the chemistry at work in Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band as a unit of players who’ve known each other for years despite this being their first album together under this moniker. With all the flux surrounding Vista Chino and Bjork, Garcia and Nick Oliveri having released solo/semi-solo records in 2014, I wouldn’t dare to predict what might follow Black Power Flower or in what incarnation we might next year from Brant Bjork, but 10 records on from his solo debut in 1999’s Jalamanta, there’s little question he remains the godfather of desert groove and that no one else does it quite like him. He’s in good company here.
Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower Preview
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Now located in Oakland, California, after first coming together in the Midwest, Mondo Drag are preparing to issue their sophomore long-player. Self-titled and due out this winter through Kozmik Artifactz, the record features the rhythm section of Cory Berry and Zack Anderson, both now out of the band and better known as the now-former drummer and bassist for Blues Pills and Radio Moscow. Mondo Drag was recorded right around the time Blues Pills were getting going, and though Berry and Anderson would soon split for Sweden, their presence on the album, especially at what was a pretty tumultuous time coming off their unceremonious departure from Radio Moscow, makes the follow-up to Mondo Drag‘s 2010 debut, New Rituals (review here), an even more enticing prospect.
The PR wire brings a look at the cover art and tells the whole story:
MONDO DRAG sign for new album with Kozmik Artifactz
Heavy psych / prog band MONDO DRAG is proud to announce the release of their second full-length LP which is Self-Titled. The Oakland, CA-based outfit’s heavy-hitting new record will be released this Winter – on CD and vinyl (180-gram, gatefold LP) — via Kozmik Artifactz.
Under the spiritual guidance of the forefathers of heavy psych, prog, and proto-metal, MONDO DRAG has created an amalgamation of sounds the likes of which have not resounded through the atmosphere for decades. The bands unique sound, and rare cohesion probably stem from the fact that core members John Gamino, Nolan Girard, and Jake Sheley actually grew up within a one mile radius from each other, attended the same schools, were part of the same music scene, and have played in bands with each other for 15 years.
The release of New Rituals (Alive Records)in 2010, saw the band headlining numerous U.S tours, appearing at many high-profile fests around the country including several official showcases at SXSW (and a dozen more unofficial ones), and headlining slots at both the Chicago Pysch Fest and the Cincy Psych Fest. You can also find them on the Austin Psych Fest 3 DVD (w/ The Black Angels, The Warlocks, Warpaint, et al.).
After a tumultuous tour in March 2011, Johnnie (drums, vocals) and Dennis (bass) left the band. After looking high and low for a new rhythm section, the band caught a break when Cory Berry and Zack Anderson moved back to Iowa after quitting Radio Moscow. The two came to live with the band, while rehearsing and preparing material for the new album. This transitional period also saw John assume the role of vocalist for the band.
In the Winter of 2011-2012, the band returned to Future Appletree Studios Too (New Rituals was recorded here also) to record with friend and gear guru, Patrick Stolley. Zack and Cory came to stay with the band again, but this time they also brought along with them Elin Larsson. While Zack and Cory were recording with Mondo Drag they were also forming Blues Pills and recording their Bliss EP for Crusher Records.
Utilizing Stolley’s extensive vintage gear library and his expansive knowledge of analog recording, they were able to capture full-band live performances recorded to analog tape. Most of the live tracking was recorded with 1940’s and 50’s RCA ribbon mics and everything recorded on the album ran through tube pre-amps and transformers of the same era.
Shortly after the album was recorded, Zack moved to Sweden and Cory soon followed to pursue their new group, Blues Pills, which was really taking off in Europe. This left the band with still no rhythm section. After much thought, the band decided it was time to move and reform the group so in 2013 they caravanned to Oakland, CA with all of their records and gear.
Since then, the band has picked up a new rhythm section and has quickly become a staple of the bay area’s psych/prog scene playing with bands like Hot Lunch, Lecherous Gaze, Wild Eyes, Once and Future Band, and Hedersleben.
This album features the lineup of John Gamino (vocals / keyboards), Nolan Girard (guitar), Jake Sheley (guitar), and the rhythym section of Zack Anderson (bass), and Cory Berry (drums), both formerly of Radio Moscow and founding members of Blues Pills.
Upcoming shows: 12/12 at Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco W/ Older Sun, Banquet
Posted in audiObelisk on October 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some people get a reputation and spend the rest of their days trying to distance themselves from it, but Nick Oliveri‘s always been a little more punk rock. The former bassist for Kyuss, former bassist/vocalist for Queens of the Stone Age and intermittent member of Dwarves, Bl’ast, Vista Chino and his own Mondo Generator, Oliveri today releases Leave Me Alone, the debut full-length from the new heavy rocking solo-project Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable. Out on Schnitzel Records, it’s an album that should find root with anyone who’s bemoaned the adultification of Queens of the Stone Age, brimming with hard-driven riffing and a sense of danger that’s been a trademark of Oliveri‘s songwriting even down to his acoustic records.
It’s a “solo” album in the sense that Oliveri handles bass, drums, rhythm guitar, vocals and is credited as producer alongside with engineers Trevor Whatever and Harper Hug at Thunder Underground, but it’s also a “solo” album in the sense that there are a ton of people playing solos on it. Dig this track listing:
1. Human Cannonball Explodes (feat. Dean Ween)
2. Keep Me in the Loop (feat. Stephen Haas)
3. Luv Is Fiction (feat. Lightnin’ Woodcock & Marc Diamond)
4. Come and You’re Gone (feat. Marc Diamond & Blag Dhalia)
5. The Robot Man (feat. Phil Campbell)
6. Get Lost (With Me) (feat. Rex Everything)
7. Leave Me Alone
8. The Void (feat. Bruno Fevery)
9. Death Leads the Way (feat. Mike Pygmie)
Of course that’s Dean Ween from Ween, Stephen Haas from Moistboyz, Phil Campbell from Motörhead, Blag Dhalia and Marc Diamond from Dwarves, Bruno Fevery from Vista Chino, and so on. Oliveri even sneaks in for a go himself as his alter-ego Rex Everything. All this has the effect of making Leave Me Alone – an album that, despite its title, thrusts itself in your face at nearly every turn — even more unhinged, Oliveri tackling his infamous run-in with a SWAT team on “The Robot Man” and building a record-spanning momentum that caps with, what else?, “Death Leads the Way”‘s riotous apex, Mike Pygmie of Mondo Generator stepping in to help out.
Oliveri has never left much room for middle-ground reactions, but love him or hate him, Leave Me Alone is about as Oliveri as Oliveri gets. Take a listen if you’re so inclined and find out for yourself:
Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable‘s Leave Me Alone is now available on Schnitzel Records. More info at the links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
San Diego three-piece Heavy Glow have been on tour for the better part of a week now, supporting their new album, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine. That is, of course, unless you count their previous tour, which ended just three days before this one began. How that even splits up tours, I have no idea. Pretty much, when it’s all over, Heavy Glow will have been on the road for a stretch running from September into mid-November. The current run ends Nov. 14. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point they announced a tour starting Nov. 17 and going into December.
Here are the remaining dates and some whathaveyou off the PR wire:
HEAVY GLOW Announces North American Headlining Tour
San Diego Rock Trio Heading Out to the Highway in Support of Celebrated New LP
Electric San Diego rock band HEAVY GLOW has announced a North American headlining tour in support of its new LP Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine. Set to kick off on September 18 in Fort Worth, Texas, the 18 city jaunt will showcase the trio’s unhinged explosiveness, which blends post-millennial blues-rock and haunting, Mowtown-esque hard soul, calling for comparison to The Dead Weather, The Black Keys, Afghan Whigs and Cream.
Led by guitarist / vocalist Jared Mullins, HEAVY GLOW has been called “a bluesy slice of Free-meets-Grand Funk” and “an impressive Hendrix / ZZ Top hybrid that pays homage to other blues masters (Clapton, Cray) and modern-day fuzz tone titans.” Recorded with producers Michael Patterson (Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer) and Nic Jodoin (Spindrift, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine has been hailed as “blistering” and has yielded the crunching cuts “Headhunter” and “Look What You’re Doing to Me”; the latter track’s music video starring actress Mayra Leal of the Robert Rodriguez film “Machete.”
HEAVY GLOW on tour: Oct. 20 Underbelly Jacksonville, FL Oct. 24 Pegasus Lounge Tampa FL Oct. 30 The Hi-Tone Memphis, TN Oct. 31 Daisy Duke’s Nashville, TN Nov. 1 Hangar Bar, Greenville, TX Nov. 6 Tiki Bar Shreveport, LA Nov. 7 Dan Electro’s Houston, TX Nov. 10 Plush, St. Louis, MO Nov. 13 Silver Dollar, Texarkana, AR Nov. 14 Vino’s Brewpub Little Rock, AR
In terms of the sheer “fuck yeah!” factor, Acid King‘s Busse Woods is one of the best stoner rock records ever made. A monster of classic riffage, it was the San Francisco trio’s 1999 sophomore outing after 1995′ Zoroaster debut, recorded by Billy Anderson and released by Man’s Ruin Records. Small Stone rightly stepped in and did a reissue in 2004 prior to releasing the band’s third album, III, in 2005, and with cuts like “Carve the Five,” “Electric Machine,” “Silent Circle,” “Drive Fast, Take Chances” and their eerie take on “39 Lashes” from Jesus Chris Superstar, it remains a paragon of all that is riff-led and virtuous and heavy, rife with timeless nod, warm tone and a dropped-out-of-life atmosphere. My biggest surprise in closing out the week with it is that I haven’t already done so.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the album — now over five years ago — I did an interview with guitarist/vocalist Lori S. in which she talked about the Cook County, Illinois, preserve from which the full-length takes its name and its relation to her own growing up:
Thinking back at Busse Woods or Ned Brown Forest Preserve, it’s hard to believe we weren’t all in prison or dead. This place was where bored suburban teenagers hung out ’cause that’s what we did! Most of my memories are hanging out with my high school pal John Cesak. He was the big drug dealer back in the day and we would go there pull in open the trunk, crank Black Sabbath and sell nickel bags! It was like a flea market for drugs, lids, purple microdot, black beauties HELL YEAH! Hanging out, smoking and playin’ Frisbee. Total Dazed and Confused.
Acid King are set to release a new LP in 2015 through Svart. Also recorded by Billy Anderson, it’ll be their first since III and to say it’s one of my most anticipated releases for next year would probably be short-selling the nerditude with which I’m looking forward to hearing their new songs, some of which they’ve been playing live now for a while. Still, whatever they may have in store, Busse Woods remains an unfuckwithable monument to Sabbath-worship that only gets richer with age.
I hope you enjoy.
No lie, part of my motivation in picking Acid King to end the week was because of the righteous manner in which the San Francisco Giants dispatched the Cardinals to advance to the World Series, but Busse Woods is an album I go back to pretty regularly. Plus, I’m cutting out a little early this afternoon, and as Lori explains above, it’s a great one for slacking off. The Patient Mrs. and I have some friends coming from out of town tonight, and tomorrow is Clamfight, Wizard Eye, Faces of Bayon and Wizard Eye in Worcester, so it should be a pretty full weekend. One which, it would seem, I’m eager to get started.
On Monday, I’ll have a review of that show, and Tuesday a writeup for the new John Wilkes Booth record — and if the timing works out, I’ll have that Lowrider interview up sometime in there too — but Tuesday night, I’m headed out to meet up with the Kings Destroy guys. Their tour with Radio Moscow, Bang and Pentagram begins on Thursday in Chicago, and I’ll be along for the entirety of the trip once again. Very much looking forward to getting back out with those guys and seeing places I’ve never seen before, starting with Chicago, as it happens, which to date I’ve only driven through en route elsewhere.
Like this past Spring, I’ll have my camera and my laptop along for the trip, and writeups on the shows and the travel over the next week-plus as we make our way through the 10 shows in the Midwest and the East Coast. More to come.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend and that if you checked out the podcast that just went up, you enjoy that as well. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
A Day of the Dead-concurrent companion for earlier this year’s Psycho de Mayo fest, Santa Ana, California’s Day of the Shred has assembled an unfuckwithable lineup of East and West Coast acts — go ahead and picture Ancestors and Elder on the same show, or Red Fang and Weedeater headlining with Hot Lunch and All Them Witches jamming out prior — for an all-dayer that promises hearses, skating and volume in good measure. Oh yeah, and Bongripper‘s gonna be there. Fucking hell it’s a solid bill. I don’t know what time they’re getting started on Nov. 1 but there are enough acts included to fill two stages and then some, so if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in that part of the world come the Dias de los Muertos, Day of the Shred seems like one to mark on the calendar. Assuming there are still tickets available by the time the day actually arrives.
All the more staggering is that Radio Moscow will be flying out West from being on tour with Pentagram, Bang and Kings Destroy (the latter of whom I’ll be accompanying on the road) and then coming back east afterwards. No stopping the boogie, it would seem.
Dig the lineup and info for the fest below, courtesy of the PR wire:
From the creators of Psycho De Mayo…THIEF brings to life the first annual DAY OF THE SHRED – an all-day music festival celebrating megalithic riffs, skateboarding, and the souls of the departed. Join us this Dia De Los Muertos as we gather the living and raise the dead.
The forces behind Thief are preparing a bountiful sacrifice for the extinguished souls at this year’s inaugural DAY OF THE SHRED. Paying tribute to the fallen, Earthquaker Devices has teamed up with Thief and Arik Roper to birth an exclusive festival edition fuzz pedal, entitled; “The Grim Reefer.” The cool ghouls over at KR3W are hosting an open air skate jam and giving concert goers the opportunity to shred the dead on their mini ramp. Screen printed textiles both wearable and collectible will be available on November 1st, including a 9-color design by David D’Andrea and additional prints by UK legend, Godmachine. Vintage hearses will consume the blacktop of the Observatory and vagabond moto maidens: Babes Ride Out will also be in attendance morphing into the “Babes Of The Shred.” Thrasher Magazine will serve as the festivals official media partner, while Midnite Collective completes the festival’s ouroboros with a panorama of genres and audiences. On November 1st, these leaders in ceremony will unite to gather the living and raise the dead.
The Observatory in Santa Ana 3503 S. Harbor Blvd Santa Ana, CA
Red Fang Weedeater Windhand Elder Bongripper ASG Radio Moscow The Shrine Danava Graves At Sea Glitter Wizard Ancestors Hot Lunch Arctic Goya All Them Witches (16) Trapped Within Burning Machinery Greenbeard
Posted in audiObelisk on October 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Short of slicing a piece of tree trunk and putting that on your turntable, vinyl is widely regarded as about as natural-sounding as you can get. We’ve seen a lot of analog worship over the last several years as a result, fed into by a movement of ’70s-minded retroists, and while Slow Season definitely have some of those elements at play, what’s more striking about their RidingEasy Records debut and second album overall, Mountains (review here), is the spaciousness of the recording. Particularly as the record was put together without digital means, without hand-picking their reverb from a thousands-long list of plugins, the breadth of their mix lives up to the aspiration of the LP’s title — something large, immobile, and seemingly removed from time.
I said when I reviewed Mountains that Slow Season possess a strong current of Led Zeppelin fetishism, and that’s true of the track “Endless Mountain” as much as the bulk of the rest of the album. You can hear it in the echoing harmonica and in Cody Tarbell‘s stomping, swinging approach to the drums, which lead the march alongside Hayden Doyel‘s bass and the guitars of David Kent and Daniel Rice, the latter of whom is also responsible for the vocals, somewhere between a rawer take on Graveyard and of course the early, riff-riding work of Robert Plant. As a demonstration of the movement and bounce that Slow Season enact over the course of Mountains, “Endless Mountain” is a prime example, the band easing into a swaggering shuffle that starts and stops in the verse and opens well in the chorus without losing its jammy sensibility.
Mountains will be out Nov. 11 on RidingEasy Records (preorder from the label here), and you can check out “Endless Mountain” on the YouTube player below, followed by more info on the release with some comment from Slow Season. Please enjoy:
Slow Season, “Endless Mountain”
SLOW SEASON to release new album via RIDINGEASY RECORDS on 11th November 2014
Press “play” on Slow Season’s second full-length album Mountains (RidingEasy Records), and you might just forget what era you’re in. It could very well be the sixties, seventies, or now. It almost doesn’t matter though because this is hypnotic, heavy, and howling rock ‘n’ roll that defies both musical and temporal categorization.
The Central California quartet – Daniel Rice (vocals, guitar), David Kent (guitar), Hayden Doyel (bass), and Cody Tarbell (drums) – scale new heights, while recognising where it all began.
“I’d love for people to wonder if this record is actually from 1969,” grins Cody. “We wanted to capture that spirit. That was the goal.”
In order to do so, the musicians holed up in Cody’s home studio, which actually doubles as his parents’ garage, and cut Mountain’s ten tracks throughout the course of early 2014. Hayden had just returned home from a short detour at college in Idaho before recognizing he belonged jamming with his brothers. Officially back in the fold, excitement to record proved pervasive. Moving when inspiration struck, they actually recorded the songs live on reel-to-reel tape. Eschewing the digital mindset of today and not even uttering the words “Pro Tools”, everything was caught on analog, giving the music a crackling kinetic energy.
“I like everything associated with reel-to-reel,” Cody goes on. “I love the sound. I like the mojo that comes along with it.”
“Working with the limitations of tape really pushed us to play our best,” adds Daniel. “You have to prioritize your ideas. You can’t layer too much on there. You also have to nail the takes. You don’t get to go back and cut paste. You have to feel it when you’re playing it. When everything comes together, it really shines because we’re all playing together on tape.”
They lock in during the album opener and first single, ‘Sixty-Eight’. It snaps into a bluesy riff and bombastic beat before Daniel lets out a soaring refrain and a screeching solo roars. “We wanted to nod back to Led Zeppelin,” the vocalist says. “We managed to get this really big sound in the garage. It’s very organic and natural. The subject matter is pretty gnarly, and I’d encourage everyone to take a close listen to the lyrics.”
That mystique carries over to the hazy ‘Synanon’, which details the exploits of a mountain cult nearby where the boys reside. Meanwhile, ‘Endless Mountain’ drives forward on robust guitars and propulsive drums. It also reflects the overarching theme inherent within the title.
“Mountains embody a few things,” explains Daniel. “They’re difficult, seemingly insurmountable, and bigger than us. They’re both foreboding and beautiful at the same time. I had been doing a lot of hiking and backpacking in the higher Sierra Nevada. It all fit together. We live right next to Sequoia National Park, and we go up there all the time. We connect with the idea of man versus nature.”
Slow Season first emerged in 2012 with their self-titled debut. Supported by shows throughout California and nationally, they began to garner palpable buzz. Now, Mountains kicks off their next chapter. However, they’ll continue to exist within an epoch of their own.
Daniel leaves off, “I want people to walk away knowing there’s integrity behind the music, the process, the words being sung, and the notes being played. We love what we do, and we hope that listeners do too.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ah, Grief. The band that taught sludge how to hate. Guitarist Terry Savastano will lead a semi-reunited lineup of the seminal Boston extremists working under a moniker taken from the title of their 1994 sophomore outing, Come to Grief,in headlining Deadfest 2015 in Oakland, California. The death/grind fest is set for Aug. 14 and 15 at The Oakland Metro and in addition to Come to Grief – whose lineup also boasts guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones of Long Island stalwarts Negative Reaction (who also have a new album in the works), Come to Grief-era drummer Rick Johnson and bassist Justin Christian formerly of Morgion – will feature the unwaveringly pulverizing likes of Terrorizer, Nausea, Noothgrush and Primitive Man over the course of its steadfastly anti-corporate two days.
Grief, whose last lineup was bassist/vocalist Eric Harrison, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward, drummer Ray McCaffery and guitarist John Heidenreich, played their final show in 2009 after getting back together in ’05 following several years of inactivity. The band’s last full-length was 2000’s …And Man Will Become the Hunted, which was followed by the 2002 Turbulent Times compilation on Southern Lord, culling together rare an previously unreleased track’s from Grief‘s already tumultuous history.
Deadfest announced their lineup thusly:
Deadfest 2015 / August 14th & 15th @ The Oakland Metro / All Ages / $20 Each Day
2 Day D.I.Y Crust/Hardcore/Punk/Grind/Doom/Death&Black Metal Fest
2 Rooms / 4 Floor Stages / 15 Minute Sets
Come To Grief (MA/NH)
Terry Savastano/Guitars (Martyrvore/Goat felch /Founder of Grief ex-Disrupt ex-Warhorse etc……) Rick Johnson/Drums (ex-Grief ex-Slugpuncher) Ken E. Bones/Guitars and Vocals (Negative Reaction) Justin Christian/Bass (ex-Morgion ex-Keen of the Crow) We will be performing mostly early Grief material ( First 7″,Dismal 12″ Come to Grief L.P.)
Terrorizer (LA) Nausea (LA) Capitali$T Casualties Noothgrush (OAK) Excruciating Terror (LA) Endless Demise (LA) Cretin (SJ) Stapled Shut (LA) Cloud Rat (MI) Catheter (CO) Laughing Dog (NM) Backslider (PHILLY) Cave State (LA) Dope Runner (CO) Primitive Man (CO) And Many More T.B.A
Sometimes in listening to Captain Beyond‘s classic 1972 self-titled debut, it’s easy to forget that there were just four members in the band. At times they’re almost orchestral, layers of guitar and vocals making their way in and around winding, still-heavy riffs and grooves. The lineup was considerable even then — vocalist Rod Evans (ex-Deep Purple), guitarist Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt (ex-Iron Butterfly), bassist Lee Dorman (ex-Iron Butterfly) and drummer Bobby Caldwell (who played with Johnny Winter and would go on to form Armageddon) — but no question that Captain Beyond‘s Captain Beyond was more than the sum of its parts. Few records of the era so successfully bridged the then-widening gap between heavy rock and prog, and frankly few have come along since that could excite fans of both. Its bizarre structure, with each side almost a record unto itself with its own themes and progression, makes it all the more complex, but it’s also a remarkably smooth listen, with cuts like “Mesmerization Eclipse,” “Dancing Madly Backwards (On a Sea of Air),” “Raging River of Fear” and “As the Moon Speaks (To the Waves of the Sea)” creating memorable, lasting impressions.
Lasting enough that Captain Beyond has had four decades of cult influence. After hearing Evans sing “Frozen Over,” I don’t think one can put on early Pentagram without hearing a similarity in Bobby Liebling‘s approach — Pentagram also had the lead track on Record Heaven‘s Thousand Days of Yesterdays tribute — and from The Atomic Bitchwax to Mastodon, scores of bands have taken lessons from Reinhardt‘s style of riffing and spaced-out leads, his layering acoustic and electric rhythms and the jazzy punch of the movement in this Caldwell‘s compositions. And Captain Beyond‘s Captain Beyond was truly a moment that wouldn’t come again. By the time a year has passed, Caldwell was out of the band, and replaced on 1973’s Sufficiently Breathless by Marty Rodriguez, with Dorman at the fore as principal songwriter. Sufficiently Breathless was a more than solid follow-up to Captain Beyond, but the group’s legacy continues to be based largely on their accomplishments here and the rare character and breadth that this album brought to bear. It is rightly considered among the most pivotal works of early heavy rock.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
So. Last Saturday, my mother-in-law’s old, sick pekingese got dropped off so The Patient Mrs. and I could take care of it while her mom was on vacation. You can see where this is going. The week started off — first thing Monday morning — with The Patient Mrs. asking me to get up and confirm her suspicion that the dog had died. Sure enough. I checked for a pulse, as if such a thing were possible on so fluffernutter a dog as a pekingese, and declared her suspicion correct. Added surreality came when a structural engineer and a lawyer showed up to look at something with the house (long, irrelevant story) and I had to hurry to pick up the dog and clean up the various leaked-out fluids so they could enter without having to step over the body. I had not yet brushed my teeth.
The Patient Mrs. found a local kennel that also doubled as a crematorium — take a second and let that sink in — so what else to do? I put the dog in a box and we drove over, about 15 minutes in the car. Our own dog, the little dog Dio, we left home to deal with her confusion. There was a form The Patient Mrs. filled out and then the lady behind the counter at the crematorium was like, “Okay, come on,” and directed us to follow her to the furnace, telling us along the way about the state contracts they have with the Mystic Aquarium, the roadkill, etc. All the while we’re on this piece of property back in the woods, walking past the pet cemetery, canopy of trees overhead with grey skies. I was fairly certain that The Patient Mrs. and I were both going to be killed and shoved in the furnace with only the texts I’d sent my family about the ordeal left for detectives to trace the whereabouts of our murderers.
We weren’t, thankfully. We got into an open barn with what was quite clearly the furnace in the middle of the room, ashes and metal trays on the floor, the vague smell of burning in the air, and I began to wonder if it was a do-it-yourself kind of deal. This worry also proved unfounded. The woman directed me to put the box down on a table nearby and we left, chatting pleasantly and awkwardly as we traipsed through the woods back to my car. I knew this dog well, and there wasn’t really much to say anyhow, so that was it. And everything was fine until I started to have these thoughts that what if I was wrong? What if the dog wasn’t really dead, if it had just peed itself and been asleep and breathing too shallow for me to tell? Of course it was dead — the body was limp when I picked it up — but still, I couldn’t shake the image of the dog waking up in that cardboard box on that table, and it stayed with me the last five days. Even now, and we’ve already gotten the call to go pick up the cremains.
That was how the week started. It’ll end in a little while when I head out to see Kind and The Golden Grass in New Bedford at a taco joint. So yeah, a little strange.
Next week, stick around for a review of that show, plus on Monday a stream of the new split between Krautzone and Lamp of the Universe, an Apostle of Solitude giveaway, review of the new Lo-Pan and Electric Wizard and as many other records as I can manage to fit. If you didn’t notice, I tried to cut back on the word counts for reviews because they were getting out of hand again. We’ll see how long it lasts, but at least I’m trying to keep it under control. Sometimes the sentences just keep going.
Go Giants for Acid King, go Orioles for all of Maryland doom. Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Work too hard to make sense of Chrome‘s weirdo transwarp spacepunk and you’re liable to bust a lobe. Quiet for a decade at least in terms of studio output, the San Francisco avant rockers returned last year with a crowdfunded compilation of unreleased material called Half-Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ’79-’80 (review here) covering songs from late founder Damon Edge and guitarist/vocalist Helios Creed, who leads the current incarnation of Chrome on their first album since 2002, Feel it Like a Scientist. Making up for lost time seems to be the order of the day. Feel it Like a Scientist is 16 tracks and 62 minutes long, spread over two LPs or a linear CD of consistently off-the-wall experiments like “Lipstick” and “Brady the Chicken Boy” — with its bok-bok noises and in-studio laughs and forward bassline sounding like an after-the-fact blueprint for early Primus – and synth-drenched New Wave proto-punk freakouts, fuzz guitars intermittently taking the front position to make a track like “Captain Boson” sound even stranger. Recorded over the course of 2012 to 2014, Chrome‘s return channels industrial malevolence in “Big Brats” as easily as keyboard madcap and heavy rock rollout in “Prophecy,” and is every bit as strange and exciting as one could ask.
The historical context of Chrome, begun by Damon Edge, hitting a stride with Edge and Creed working together and then continued on by Creed, stopping and restarting to get to this point — the lineup of Creed, drummer/sampler Aleph Omega, Tommy Grenas on keys/noise, bassist Steve Fishman (Lux Vibratus also features on more than half the tracks), backing vocalist Anne Dromeda and guitarist Lou Minatti – is about as disjointed and difficult to trace as the music on Feel it Like a Scientist itself, but liner notes to the CD provide some direction for how the album came together. What works best about it, though, is that however deep you want to dig, Chrome will meet you on that level. That is, if you feel like putting in research to relating Feel it Like a Scientist to Creed‘s prolific solo output or what one might call Chrome‘s heyday — though that designation would seem to automatically discount the quality of the material here. which isn’t the intent — you can do that and “Something in the Cloud”‘s spaced-out vibes will still resonate, or you can ignore all of it as Anne Dromeda takes the lead vocal on noisy rocker “Unbreakable Flouride Lithium Plastic” and go with the many punches provided. Whatever you want to take into account as you listen, it’s up to you.
That said, by the time one gets down to the wash of vibe that is “Himalayanelimination” and the droning finale that arrives with “Nymph Droid,” Feel it Like a Scientist benefits from knowing something of what Chrome have done in the past, the influence they’ve had one more than a generation of bizarro rockers, and so on. And it can be hard to separate the actual listening experience from the fact that it’s been so long since the last Chrome full-length, but if there’s anything to take away from these 16 tracks, it’s that the outfit has more than academic value, and that the beamed-in progressiveness they display seems to have its (giant, face-consuming) eye turned forward rather than back. This does not sound like a one-off, and it does not sound like a final album. The material is vibrant and comes with a clear sense of the joy of its creation. It’s a spirit as inimitable as the craft on display throughout and no less individualized, and it speaks to the possibilities that lay within the current incarnation of Chrome for where they might next wind-up on this new mission, their minds in a gas cloud and their amps on overdrive. Going by the vast swath of styles they bend to their command on these tracks, that trip is just beginning, and if there’s a destination, it could just as easily belong to another universe as to our own.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Comprised of three extended tracks arranged longest to shortest, Bloodmoon‘s 2013 outing, Voidbound, was as progressive as it was extreme. On a dime, the San Luis Obispo trio might cut from raging blackened sludge on the title-track to ambient drones and airy post-rock, then roll out scream-topped doom building toward a vibrant neo-prog run en route to crushing metal heft. Granted, you’ve got plenty of time to do that when you’re working with a 17-minute song, but still, few bands put that kind of time to such varied use and still manage to come out of it with anything resembling the kind of cohesion Bloodmoon presented on Voidbound. They’ll head out on tour this weekend, starting in Eureka, CA, and heading north before making their way back down, and I wouldn’t know from personal experience, but these guys seem like they put on a hell of a show.
The PR wire has dates and background:
BLOODMOON West Coast Takedown Starts This Week
San Luis Obispo, California’s blackened sludge outfit BLOODMOON is setting out on a West Coast jaunt that begins this Friday, October 3 in Eureka, California.
Gazing into the Void with combined effort since 2010, BLOODMOON have been exploring the musical elements of Sludge, Doom, Stoner, Black and Death Metal with heavy doses of Psychedelia to give themselves a highly distinctive sound of their own. Over the past 2 years, the band has released 2 albums, embarked upon two tours, and played countless shows all over California at any given point in between. Between shows, they are continually writing with the self-imparted directive of releasing new music every year while always experimenting with different ways to bring the heavy in their own way.
10/3 Eureka, CA @ Ink Annex 10/4 Portland, OR @ Slabtown 10/5 Seattle, WA @ Lo-Fi 10/6 Olympia, WA @ The Track House 10/7 Eugene, OR @ Wandering Goat 10/8 Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge 10/9 San Jose, CA @ Caravan
Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Californian desert rockers Fever Dog like to keep things nebulous. Their self-released (for now) sophomore full-length, Second Wind, brings together songs that were issued over the last two years since their 2012 debut, Volume One, as singles and in various other forms and unites them as a complete long-player. The album isn’t solely made up of these tracks, but with “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” (review here) and “The Great Tree” (review here) having previously appeared, almost half the 10-track outing’s runtime is material already aired. How is it then that Second Wind manages to sound so fresh? I chalk it up to the jammy nature of the material itself, the variety the three-piece delivers across the board and the energy of their presentation. While generally a phrase like “Californian desert rockers” serves as little more than a dogwhistle for a Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Ageinfluence, Fever Dog dive much deeper than that, incorporating synthy space rock and drone to immediately distinguish their still-growing sound, winding up closer to Zoroaster than Sky Valley on the quick single “Iroquois” and blending acoustic guitar and swirling keyboard progressions on “Rukma Vimana” to give Second Wind a go-anywhere-at-anytime vibe that serves the band and their songs well. There are moments that feel disjointed — hazards of the trade — but whether it’s the moody grunge-gaze of “The Back of Beyond” or the huge solo that emerges from synth grandiosity in the back half of the nine-minute “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” the trio of Danny Graham (guitar/vocals/theremin), Nathan Wood (bass/noise) and Joshua Adams (drums/organ/backing vocals) never fail to bring the listener into the fold of their complex, rich and spacious sound, giving a Floydian progressive vision of what the genre can be while proffering jazzy rhythmic turns and an unwavering sense of creativity. Yes, it’s desert rock, but it’s also working toward a broader definition of what that means.
This alone makes the immersive 48-minute release admirable, and it proves only more so with an openness of structure. Well-named acoustic/electric guitar intro track “Obelisk” eases the listener into what proves to be a course rife with twists and turns, the title-track taking hold with a drum fill and fuzzy blend of lead and rhythm, Graham‘s verse arriving blown out and bluesy but not overdrone atop insistent riffy push. A shuffling jam emerges, the band never quite departing from and never quite returning to the verse as effects swell in a guitar solo toward the finish of the three-minute “Second Wind,” winding toward “The Back of Beyond” and a cymbal wash and slow strum that announces a different take, more Masters of Reality than perhaps it knows in its wah, but foreshadowing the rhythm that will surface heavier in “Iroquois,” vocals deep in the mix and given an echo that mirrors the guitar. A more solidified structure, but still pretty open, “The Back of Beyond” jams to its end and the six-minute “The Great Tree” swirls an intro to a more extended mostly-instrumental jam, some classic heavy rock edge working its way in early as more virtuoso leadwork gives over to the second half’s drum stomp from Adams and momentum-building push, Wood marking each measure turn with a punchy bassline that plays well alongside the lead guitar. “Iroquois” starts innocently enough but soon shifts into heavy psych chug with a vocal changeup to match, space rock pulse underlying the memorable riffing en route to trades between solo and riff, “One Thousand Centuries” coming on quick with a build-up from Adams that opens to fluid jamming not unlike that of “The Great Tree,” a verse nestling into a quieter section that gets by without coming right out and emphasizing the rush of Second Wind up to this point but making its point via subtlety anyway. Effects signal a transition in the second half of “One Thousand Centuries” — the title-line delivered discernibly through a wash of melody and echo — and the album’s most fervent freakout ensues, double-time drums, guitar soloing and bass runs coming to a head and capping with feedback that ends cold.
“Rukma Vimana” comes without a direct transition from “One Thousand Centuries,” which makes me think that if Fever Dog had vinyl in mind, that would be the point of the side A/B split. The three-minute raga-style cut, with its tanpura-style drone behind, acoustic strum, hand-claps mixed low and keyboard surge makes a fitting intro, though with “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” and “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds” behind it — both over nine minutes long — and 5:33 closer “Nexus” after that, I’m not sure it would all actually fit. Either way, this second half of Second Wind is where the three-piece really unfold their breadth, the longer-form material allowing for further exploration of their jammy ethos, heavy psych, desert rock, nighttime jazz and spaced-out vibing coming together across “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” in warm tones and momentum-driving drums, though it’s the guitar that ultimately leads the way out, solos layered on top of each other atop drone noise, the quiet first seconds of “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds” doing little to portray the song’s actual scope, vocals going a long way to ground it where “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” seemed to float out its run, exciting loud/quiet shifts leading to a cinematic synthesizer movement, hypnotic before Fever Dog snap back to their heavy build, Graham once again leading the way out as backwards guitar marks the change into closer “Nexus,” which is the record’s proggiest stretch, a last-minute change in vibe bringing a bluesy solo and quiet, key-laden verses to a head to a driving apex in the middle third before transitioning to the noisy, droning finish that provides the space rock preceding with a moment of landing before cutting off at the very end. It’s an impressive range that Fever Dog showcase throughout their second outing, revising and putting that previously-released material to its best use, but they also leave themselves room to grow as they continue forward in their songwriting and toying with structure. California’s desert has needed a next generation band to come to the fore stylistically and build on what groups like Fatso Jetson and earliest Queens of the Stone Age accomplished. There are already a few out there, but with Second Wind, Fever Dog position themselves to be right in the discussion in terms of potential torch-carriers for the years to come.