Radio Moscow Sign to Century Media

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

San Diego heavy rock forerunners Radio Moscow have inked a deal to release their next album on Century Media Records. The trio will enter the studio soon to record the follow-up to 2014’s Magical Dirt (review here) with an eye toward a summer 2017 release. Given that everything Radio Moscow have put out to-date going back to their 2007 self-titled debut has come out via Alive Naturalsound, I’ll say this one hits as something of a surprise, and I feel like I haven’t even had enough time to process if it’s a bigger get for the label or for the band. Both maybe? I don’t know.

Either way, Radio Moscow definitely mark Century Media‘s biggest foray into heavy rock to-date in the current swing — lest we forget Fu Manchu were a Century Media band for a minute there — and as they were already one of the hardest-working — and, frankly, one of the best — live acts I’ve ever seen, I don’t anticipate this new label deal will slow their momentum any. Can it really be anything other than a win to push them further into headliner status? Not on any level I can think of.

Just off the PR wire:

radio moscow

RADIO MOSCOW Signs Worldwide Deal with Century Media Records

Southern Californian rock trio RADIO MOSCOW and CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS are proud to announce a worldwide partnership to release the band’s upcoming albums. RADIO MOSCOW already started songwriting and will enter the studio soon to release their fifth full length album in late summer 2017.

Guitarist and vocalist Parker Griggs comments: “Radio Moscow couldn’t be more stoked to be joining the Century Media family! When we met these guys we spent hours nerding out on obscure classics from our favorite era of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1965-1974)…. so we feel right at home! Excited to keep writing and working on the next Radio Moscow release on Century Media. Looking forward to 2017 with a new label and album! Peace n Love!”

Jens Prueter, Head of A&R at Century Media Europe adds: “A beautiful summer night at a club in the middle of Germany, some beers, a nice chat about weird 60s stuff and an amazing sweaty show: that’s a good start for a long time partnership. I’m very happy to welcome this highly talented band that is taking the roots to the roof!”
Trends come and go, but the idea of a bunch of guys getting together in a garage and playing the kind of music that makes the neighbors call the cops – that’s forever. And it’s that idea that’s crystallized in the form of Radio Moscow who took their name from an obscure 60s garage punk novelty single. The power trio led by the Stratocaster genius Parker Griggs have found THE formula: Crunching, heavy Sabbath-style chords topped with fiery solos that earn the right to be called Hendrixian. Radio Moscow plants their flag firmly in the territory where psychedelic rock and cranked-up blues meet. The sound is unabashedly retro (think Cream, Blue Cheer, Led Zep or Jimi Hendrix Experience), so it’s easy to see how it caught the ear of the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who produced Radio Moscow’s 2007 self-titled debut.

With “Brain Cycles”, their second album, Radio Moscow proves that they’re not a cheap time machine but a direct descendant from the golden age of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In 2011, Griggs continued his psychedelic trip with “The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz” followed by “Magical Dirt” in 2014.
Parker Griggs (vocals, guitar), Anthony Meier (bass) and Paul Marrone (drums) hit the road hard in the U.S. and in Europe, touring with the likes of Graveyard, Witchcraft, Joe Bonamassa and Pentagram, followed by an appearance on the legendary German television program Rockpalast.

Coming off of what seems like endless touring proceeding and following the recording of the double-live gatefold “Live! In California”, Radio Moscow is ready to hit the studio again. “Live!…” was recorded absolutely live with no overdubs of any kind; New York Music Daily called it the Best Heavy Psych LP of 2016, proclaiming “there’s nothing that’s been released in 2016 that can touch this.”

The band toured the U.S., Europe, South America, and Australia around the release of the live document, landing at such festivals as Desert Daze (US), the Void Fest (Ger), Electric Funeral (US), Burg Herzberg Fest (Ger), and the Orbital Festival in Santiago, Chile, to name a few.

The live album wrapped up the first chapter of the band’s career, playing highlights from their first four studio albums. As Rolling Stone’s Dave DiMartino cited, “I would be lying if I did not say I have been completely taken with this…The band actively evokes all that was great about hard-rock trios, but does it with such gleeful abandon you’ve got to admire both their spirit and whatever time capsule they rode in on. Great fun.”
The story continues with a new chapter in 2017.
Discography:
Radio Moscow (2007)
Brain Cycles (2009)
The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz (2011)
3 & 3 Quarters (2012), early demos recorded in 2003 by Parker Griggs
Rancho Tehama EP (2013)
Magical Dirt (2014)
Live! In California (2016)

RADIO MOSCOW line-up:
Parker Griggs (vocals, guitar)
Anthony Meier (bass)
Paul Marrone (drums)

http://radiomoscow.net/
www.facebook.com/radiomoscowband
www.instagram.com/radiomoscowband
http://www.centurymedia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia

Radio Moscow, Live in Fullerton, CA, May 21, 2016

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The Top 20 of 2016 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top 20 year end poll results

The poll is closed, the results are counted and the top 20 albums of 2016 have been chosen. Hard to argue with the list as it’s shown up over the course of the past month, so I won’t try. Instead, let me just say thanks to incredible amount of participants who contributed this year.

All told, between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, 612 people added their picks to the proceedings, compared to 388 in last year’s poll. Considering how much that number blew my mind on Jan. 1, 2016, I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about adding another 200-plus lists to the pot. In short, I’m astounded, deeply humbled and so, so, so grateful. I feel like we got enough of a sampling this year to give a genuinely representative showing for where people’s heads have been at, so thank you if you were a part of it.

Thank you as well as always to Slevin for running the poll’s back end and tabulating the results. As ever, the weighting system is one in which a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. You’ll find that list (plus some honorable mentions) below, followed by the raw-vote tally.

And after the jump, as has become the tradition, are the full lists of everyone who submitted, alphabetized by name. I’m in there too. It’s a huge amount to wade through, and even if you thought you heard everything in 2016, it should be more than enough to keep you busy for the next year.

One last note: I’m no statistician. Please allow for these numbers to change over the next couple days on some small level.

Let’s go:

Top 20 of 2016 — Weighted Results

wo fat midnight cometh

1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (375 points)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (368)
3. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (324)
4. Asteroid, III (302)
5. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (295)
6. Gozu, Revival (274)
7. Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (253)
8. King Buffalo, Orion (244)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (238)
10. Conan, Revengeance (232)
11. Cough, Still They Pray (228)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (218)
13. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (213)
14. Truckfighters, V (206)
15. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (200)
16. Khemmis, Hunted (192)
16. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (192)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (181)
18. Witchcraft, Nucleus (174)
19. Opeth, Sorceress (173)
20. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (159)

Honorable mention to:
Causa Sui, Return to Sky (157)
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (157)
Black Mountain, IV (148)
Mos Generator, Abyssinia (144)
Wretch, Wretch (140)

Look at those tallies for number one and two. That race was close all month. Wo Fat kept out front for the most part, but Greenleaf kept it interesting and Elephant Tree’s debut snuck in there at third, which I love to see, both because it’s their first album and because that record was indeed so great. King Buffalo, another debut, also made the top 10, underscoring those two as bands to watch, and though Brant Bjork, Conan, Asteroid, Neurosis, Gozu and Mars Red Sky might be more expected names, they still certainly delivered excellent records, so again, nothing to fight with here. Things flesh out a bit in the 10-20 range, but I don’t think there’s one album on this list you could call is “miss.”

Top 20 of 2016 — Raw Votes

wo fat midnight cometh

1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (109)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (92)
3. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (87)
4. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (82)
5. Asteroid, III (80)
6. Gozu, Revival (76)
7. Conan, Revengeance (73)
8. Cough, Still They Pray (70)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (68)
10. King Buffalo, Orion (67)
11. Truckfighters, V (62)
12. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (61)
13. Khemmis, Hunted (60)
14. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (59)
14. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (59)
15. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (58)
16. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (53)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (49)
17. Witchcraft, Nucleus (49)
18. Opeth, Sorceress (47)
19. Mos Generator, Abyssinia (45)
20. Black Mountain, IV (44)
20. Causa Sui, Return to Sky (44)
20. Wretch, Wretch (44)

Honorable mention to:
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (43)
Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light (43)
Geezer, Geezer (41)
Crowbar, The Serpent Only Lies (41)
Gojira, Magma (37)
Slomatics, Future Echo Returns (36)
Graves at Sea, The Curse that Is… (35)
Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy (33)
Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae (32)
Vokonis, Olde One Ascending (31)

Left a few more honorable mentions in the raw-vote count, just for fun and so you could get more of a feel beyond the top 20 itself, which you’ll notice has a couple ties in it as the raw votes usually do and reorganizes a bit from the weighted results. One and two remain the same, however, and in the same order, and you’ll see Wo Fat was the only album that scored more than 100 votes on its own. As a whole, there were over 2,400 separate entries for albums this year, which is by far the most spread out that the voting has ever been. Frankly, with so many people involved and such a variety of stuff being voted on, I’m amazed anyone managed to agree on anything at all, but of course they did and once again a stellar list is the result.

Well, Happy New Year.

Before I go, thanks again to Slevin for the work put into running the back end of this site and this poll particularly. I show up with the finish lists, but it’s his code that makes it happen, and his efforts are appreciated more than I can say. Dude has never asked me for anything in the nearly eight years I’ve been a constant pain in his ass.

After the jump, you’ll find everybody’s list, alphabetized by name. Please enjoy browsing. I hope you find something awesome, because there’s certainly plenty in there that qualifies, and if you see something that looks like it appears often enough that it should be included in one or both of the counts above, let me know in the comments.

Thanks.

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Truckfighters Announce West Coast Tour Dates with Greenleaf

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Those keeping an eye out have been expecting another round of tour dates from Sweden’s Truckfighters since they made a point to announce ‘Leg 1’ of their US tour (info here) — which will start Jan. 18 in Somerville, Massachusetts, and feature Kings Destroy — but the fact that the West Coast run that begins March 15 features the first US dates that countrymen outfit Greenleaf have ever played seems like an added bonus. Truckfighters of course come over supporting 2016’s V (review here), while Greenleaf break this new ground heralding their Rise Above the Meadow (review here) — both highlights of the year as far as I’m concerned.

We Hunt Buffalo also join in for the Canadian dates, which you can find among the shows listed for both legs below, the tours put on by Tone Deaf. Dig it:

truckfighters tour leg two

LEG 2/LEG TWO!!! USA/CAN we are doing another bunch of gigs in March, West Coast people etc. This time with our friends in Greenleaf. Also We Hunt Buffalo will join us on the western CAN dates! Hurrah!!! It’s going to be a blast!

Truckfighters with Kings Destroy:
01.18 Somerville MA Once Ballroom
01.19 Montreal QC Bar Leritz
01.21 Ottawa ON House of Targ
01.22 Toronto ON Hard Luck
01.23 Pittsburgh PA Cattivo
01.24 Chicago IL Reggies
01.25 Minneapolis MN 7th St. Entry
01.26 Kansas City MO Riot Room
01.27 Tulsa OK Downtown Lounge
01.28 Dallas TX Curtain Club
01.30 New Orleans LA Siberia
01.31 Atlanta GA Drunken Unicorn
02.01 Richmond VA Strange Matter
02.02 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie
02.03 Brooklyn NY Goldsounds

Truckfighters with Greenleaf & We Hunt Buffalo:
Mar 15 Brick by Brick San Diego, CA
Mar 16 Complex LA Los Angeles, CA
Mar 19 Ash Street Saloon Portland, OR
Mar 20 El Corazon Seattle, WA
Mar 21 Rickshaw Theatre Vancouver, Canada*
Mar 24 The Starlite Room Edmonton, Canada*
Mar 25 Amigos Saskatoon, Canada*
Mar 26 The Exchange Regina, Canada*
Mar 28 Moon Room Denver, CO
Mar 29 Low Spirits Albuquerque, NM
Mar 31 Club Red Mesa, AZ
* w/ We Hunt Buffalo

http://www.truckfighters.com
https://www.facebook.com/truckfighters
https://twitter.com/truckfighters
https://www.youtube.com/user/TruckfightersTV
http://www.centurymedia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/tonedeaftouring/

Truckfighters, Live in London (full concert video)

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audiObelisk Transmission 060

Posted in Podcasts on December 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk podcast 60

Click Here to Download

 

Consider this your usual disclaimer that, like any of this site’s coverage of year-end whatnottery, this podcast is by no means attempting to capture all of 2016’s best tracks. It is, however, over four hours long, and frankly that seems like enough to ask. If you decide to take it on and sample what I found to be some of the best material to come down the line over the last 12 months, please know you have my thanks in advance. For what it’s worth, it was a lot of fun to put together, and that’s not always the case with these.

But about the length. I’ve done double-sized year-end specials for a while now. It’s always just seemed a fair way to go. And the last few at least have been posted the week of the Xmas holiday as well, which for me is of dual significance since it just so happens four hours is right about what it takes to drive from where I live to where my family lives, so when I look at this massive slew of 34 acts, from the riff-led righteousness of Wo Fat and Curse the Son to the crush of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and SubRosa to the psychedelic reaches of Zun and Øresund Space Collective (who probably show up in podcasts more than anyone, oddly enough), I also think of going to see my family, which has become my favorite part of the holidays.

Whatever associations you might draw with it, I very much hope you enjoy listening. Thanks for taking the time.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Wo Fat, “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” from Midnight Cometh
0:09:35 Greenleaf, “Howl” from Rise Above the Meadow
0:14:57 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
0:20:49 Brant Bjork, “The Gree Heen” from Tao of the Devil
0:26:27 Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” from Aurora
0:29:44 Child, “Blue Side of the Collar” from Blueside
0:35:31 Geezer, “Bi-Polar Vortex” from Geezer
0:43:59 Zun, “Come Through the Water” from Burial Sunrise
0:49:27 Baby Woodrose, “Mind Control Machine” from Freedom
0:54:11 Curse the Son, “Hull Crush Depth” from Isolator
0:59:31 Borracho, “Shot down, Banged up, Fade Away” from Atacama

Second Hour:

1:05:50 Scissorfight, “Nature’s Cruelest Mistake” from Chaos County
1:09:19 Truckfighters, “The Contract” from V
1:16:30 Spidergawd, “El Corazon del Sol” from III
1:21:24 Fatso Jetson, “Royal Family” from Idle Hands
1:26:13 Worshipper, “Step Behind” from Shadow Hymns
1:30:57 Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, “Y Proffwyd Dwyll” from Y Proffwyd Dwyll
1:39:42 Druglord, “Regret to Dismember” from Deepest Regrets
1:46:34 Moon Coven, “New Season” from Moon Coven
1:52:03 Gozu, “Tin Chicken” from Revival
1:59:49 Year of the Cobra, “Vision of Three” from …In the Shadows Below

Third Hour:

2:06:53 The Munsens, “Abbey Rose” from Abbey Rose
2:14:56 Lamp of the Universe, “Mu” from Hidden Knowledge
2:21:26 1000mods, “On a Stone” from Repeated Exposure To…
2:26:45 Church of the Cosmic Skull, “Watch it Grow” from Is Satan Real?
2:30:43 Vokonis, “Acid Pilgrim” from Olde One Ascending
2:37:35 Slomatics, “Electric Breath” from Future Echo Returns
2:43:02 Droids Attack, “Sci-Fi or Die” from Sci-Fi or Die
2:47:20 King Buffalo, “Drinking from the River Rising” from Orion
2:56:51 Comet Control, “Artificial Light” from Center of the Maze

Fourth Hour:

3:06:37 Øresund Space Collective, “Above the Corner” from Visions Of…
3:22:51 Naxatras, “Garden of the Senses” from II
3:33:14 SubRosa, “Black Majesty” from For this We Fought the Battle of Ages
3:48:23 Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, “Escape Through the Rift” from Tranquonauts

Total running time: 4:07:32

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 060

 

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Hexvessel Post New Live Video and Announce Finnish Tour Dates

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

hexvessel-Photo-by-Bastiank-Sofortbildfotografie

A three-song pro-shot live video from Hexvessel is a pretty easy sell as far as I’m concerned, but it seems like an especially worthy endeavor in this case since it allows the Finnish weirdo-prog forerunners to not only highlight their latest work and Century Media debut, When We are Death (review here), but to tie it back directly to their prior output. That matters because while just their third album, When We are Death represents a significant sidestep and broadening of their aesthetic, so to have them sandwich “Hunter’s Prayer” and “Earth over Us” from the new offering around “Woods to Conjure” from 2012’s No Holier Temple on stage gives their audience — at the show and watching online — a chance to better understand how the band feels the songs intertwine.

I guess that’s a far cry from, “Dude — it rocks!” but that kind of simplicity has never been Hexvessel‘s thing, though I’ll say that some of the tracks on When We are Death strip song structures down to their essential verse/chorus core. But even then, there are layers of melody and mood built on top of it, not to mention the variety in sound across the whole run of the record, that add complexity. One finds in watching this clip that the sense of ritual that has been at the core of Hexvessel‘s approach since their beginning is well intact as they push into these new avenues of expression. True till death, as the metallers might say, but with an expanding (and cosmic) version of the truth that they continue to refine as they go.

Hexvessel will tour in Finland early next year joined by Death Hawks — which, goodness gracious, is a pairing I’d very much like to see — as well as Kairon Irse. They also managed to sneak out a limited tape called Unfurled in 2016 that, sad to say, is already sold out. Too bad.

More info and some comment from the band follow the clip below, courtesy of the PR wire.

And as always, please enjoy:

Hexvessel, Live at Menuo Juodaragis Festival 2016 official video

HEXVESSEL release concert shortfilm and announce Finland headline tour

In January 2016 HEXVESSEL released their 3rd album “When We Are Death”, and were praised by media, worldwide. The band just calls it psychedelic forest folk.

One of the many live gigs in support of the new album was at the Menuo Juodaragis Festival in the national forest of Lithuania. Finnish filmmaker (and former Sentenced drummer) Vesa Ranta filmed this special event with help from Jaime Gomez Arellano (previously worked on the Hexvessel albums as well as producing bands like Solstafir and Paradise Lost) who took care of the audio live mix.

Songs:
Hunter’s Prayer (from the album “When We Are Death”)
Woods To Conjure (from the album “No Holier Temple”)
Earth Over Us (from the album “When We Are Death”)

The band comments: “Our idea was to try to capture a sense of the transcendental nature of one of our live shows, when you set our music to the backdrop of the forest at an event that has great meaning for us spiritually. There are a few events that have enabled this perfect conjuration of what Hexvessel means to happen. Menuo Juodaragis is one of those such magic events. A pagan festival held deep in the wilds of Lithuania on a beautifully lush island surrounded by forests, It is an event which celebrates our culture and heritage and it is utterly unique in Europe. We were so proud to go there and play the main stage and in our own way offer a sacrifice of sound to the great transformation that was taking place within people at the festival. It’s a place where you can feel the ancients breath, you can sense a great unity of spirit and mind and it’s a very warm and inclusive, familiar atmosphere. We were delighted to feel bound and compelled together with people from all parts of the world who had travelled there to get some sense of an old and almost forgotten religion. When you are there, really brought out of yourself and back into your more primitive awareness, you know that the old religion still exists only waiting to be pulled out again from the earth, the ash and the roots of age-old trees. Here you know the real meaning of what it was to truly know the earth and the universe. It was a beautiful and life-changing event that we are very happy to have this visual and resonant memento of.”

Next step? Three enigmatic pioneers of the current and modern psych rock movement in Finland, take to the roads in February 2017!

HEXVESSEL, Death Hawks, Kairon Irse FINLAND 2017 Tour:
02.02.2017 45 Special, Oulu
03.02.2017 Bar 15, Seinäjoki
04.02.2017 Tanssisali Lutakko, Jyväskylä
09.02.2017 Tavastia-klubi, Helsinki
10.02.2017 Suistoklubi, Hämeenlinna
11.02.2017 Olympia-kortteli, Tampere
17.02.2017 Ravintola Torvi, Lahti
18.02.2017 Dynamo, Turku
24.02.2017 Ravintola Kerubi, Joensuu
25.02.2017 Bar Downtown Kouvola, Kouvola

Hexvessel on Thee Facebooks

Hexvessel Tumblr

Hexvessel at Century Media

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Truckfighters Interview with Oskar Cedermalm: Storms and Calms

Posted in Features on November 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

truckfighters-1

Truckfighters‘ ascent to the forefront of European heavy rock is no accident. For over a decade, the Örebro, Sweden, natives have been nearly unparalleled in their efforts both to be heard and to compose and execute material worthy of the attention they’ve demanded for it. Their loyalty to fuzz tones and thick grooves has come packaged with an unflinching dedication to creative growth on the part of the core duo of bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm and guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren, and their live performance remains among the most physically engaged in the genre. More than nearly any other current act, Truckfighters aspire to literally throw themselves into their music.

As their influence has continued to spread — there are an awful lot of bands jumping around Euro club stages these days, it seems — so has the range of their songwriting. This fall, they released V (review here) as their debut in licensed conjunction with Century Media after years working exclusively through their own Fuzzorama Records imprint on prior outings like earlier-2016’s live album, Live in London (review here), 2014’s Universe (review here), 2009’s Mania (review here), 2007’s Phi and their landmark 2005 debut, Gravity X (discussed here), and offered the latest chapter in their ongoing progression. More confident in the sometimes-brooding sensibility that came to fruition on Universe, songs like “Calm Before the Storm,” “The Contract” and “Storyline” nonetheless retained the memorable craftsmanship that has always been at root in Truckfighters‘ work, and only become broader in its emotional and sonic reach.

Like most good things in life, my conversation with Cedermalm happened outside a café in Oslo, Norway. It was the second night of the Høstsabbat festival, which Truckfighters would headline, and the band had finished soundcheck shortly before. We’ve met a few times over the years, but this was my first sit-down with him and I was grateful for the chance to talk about V, some of the controversy that had been stirred by the then-recently-released video for “Calm Before the Storm,” the particulars of the deal with Century Media, their apparent inability to keep a drummer in the lineup, and most importantly, about the creative partnership he shares with Källgren, since that is ultimately what has always been the center of the band.

Fortunately, he was open about all of these things and much more. Seemingly perpetual in their touring ethic, Truckfighters were out through parts of October and earlier this month and are once again on the road to finish off 2016. They’ll continue into 2017 to support V. Here are the remaining current dates:

Truckfighters with Deville & Dot Legacy:
Nov 25 Underground, Koln, Germany
Nov 26 Hublot, Nancy, France
Nov 27 Petit Bain, Paris, France
Nov 28 Le Ferrailleur, Nantes, France
Nov 30 Magasin 4, Brussels, Belgium
Dec 04 Mama Roux’s Birmingham, United Kingdom
Dec 05 King Tuts, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Dec 06 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Dec 07 Thekla, Bristol, United Kingdom
Dec 08 The Ruby Lounge, Manchester, United Kingdom
Dec 09 Islington Academy, London, United Kingdom
Dec 10 Patterns, Brighton, United Kingdom
Dec 27 Sankt Hell Festival, Hamburg, Germany w/ Orange Goblin, Bullet and more

Full Q&A can be found after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Truckfighters, V: Creating the Storm

Posted in Reviews on October 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

truckfighters-v

If you want to look at the trajectory of Swedish heavy rockers Truckfighters, it’s easy to read their catalog as a series of forward steps. There is a clear narrative arc to their work that can be traced right to its latest chapter in their new offering, V. Their 2005 debut, Gravity X, boasts a few tracks that even 11 years later tap into a timeless imperative of desert rock. It established them as a noteworthy presence within the sphere of European fuzz and set in motion a touring and promotion ethic that has gone largely unmatched within that sphere.

Working as a four-piece for Phi in 2007, the Örebro-based outfit began to branch out, but it was with 2009’s Mania (review here) that their progressive side really first showed itself as the path they would follow in songwriting. They hit the road hard in the years that followed, released a feature-length documentary, and began a seemingly endless round of changes in lineup, with the core duo of vocalist/bassist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren joined by an ongoing succession of drummers. On 2014’s Universe (review here), which was preceded by the EP The Chairman in 2013 and followed earlier this year by Live in London (review here), it was Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström, now of Blues Pills. For V, it’s Daniel “El Danno” Israelsson of Dexter Jones’ Circus Orchestra taking up the call, though my understanding is he too is already out of the band.

These shifts around Cedermalm and Källgren seem to have done little to ultimately slow the progression or momentum of Truckfighters, who as well as being one of the heavy underground’s most kinetic live acts have established one of its most immediately identifiable sounds — you know when you’re listening to Truckfighters — have taken another step forward in inking a deal with Century Media for the distributing of the seven-track/47-minute V, licensing through their own Fuzzorama Records, which has been home to each of their prior outings. A shift in profile, if not necessarily aesthetic, but noteworthy all the same in showing the multi-tiered evolution of the band, whose songcraft continues to grow as well. To listen to V front to back from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Calm Before the Storm” to the finisher “Storyline,” the larger portion of what the trio does in the span will be recognizable to those who heard Universe.

Certainly, in tone, their penchant for fuzz has remained consistent. It’s what they do with that fuzz that has changed over time, and a steady development in vocal confidence from Cedermalm combined with an increased comfort with complex modes of expression overall, which on the first two albums simply wasn’t there and in hindsight was only beginning to emerge on Mania, that results in such fluidity throughout V. Credit in setting the mood has to go to “Calm Before the Storm” as well. While V has plenty of upbeat moments of push in “Hackshaw,” “The 1,” “Gehenna,” and “Fiend” — and indeed the opener increases thrust as it builds through its hook — “Calm Before the Storm” is an especially bold choice to lead off for its brooding sensibility, which seems to find complement and emphasis even in the most raucous of moments that immediately follow, be it the winding chorus of “Hackshaw” or the thick-fuzzed push that begins “The 1.”

truckfighters

To an extent, this was true of Universe as well, and with half as much time between Universe and V as there was between Mania and Universe, it’s not surprising the two would share some characteristics, whatever Truckfighters have been through over the last couple years. But the scope has once again broadened, and one can hear that in how smoothly centerpiece “Gehenna” ebbs and flows, how the momentum of “The 1” seems to subside only to rise again, in the melodic reach of the chorus to “The Contract,” which might be V‘s standout moment, and in the poise with which Truckfighters claim such breadths and depths as their own. As much of their persona — which is not to say “brand” — is defined by onstage acrobatics, Källgren‘s madman energy running back and forth, jumping up and down, spinning in circles, etc., on record they seem even more daring how deeply they plunge into contemplative stretches.

The verse to “The Contract” is spacious, the bridge in the second half of “Hackshaw” dizzying but precisely executed, and the interplay of acoustic and electric guitar in “Storyline” a new level of emotional crux entirely. That Truckfighters can be patient and that band who are such a force in a live setting, and that they can ultimately do so without contradicting themselves and having their foundation collapse under them, makes them all the more special as a group contributing to the expansion of their genre. Even the subtlety that shows itself in the midsection of “Fiend,” teasing those acoustics that play a more prominent role after the blown-out push that starts “Storyline,” stands as an example of the delicate balance Truckfighters strike.

And though they then seem to delight in stomping all over that balance, it emerges unscathed. It might be fair to call this the triumph within V itself were it not for the level of songwriting Cedermalm and Källgren bring forth. Fifteen years on from their first getting together and with countless miles under their collective belt, they’ve become one of heavy rock’s most crucial teams, and more encouragingly, while they’ve clearly established a working modus, they refuse to sit still from one release to the next, to rest on past laurels, or to give in to the expectations of others. It is a rare band who, five albums in, can remain defined by their forward potential, and Truckfighters have worked hard to hold true to that reality.

Truckfighters, “Hackshaw” official video

Truckfighters on Thee Facebooks

Truckfighters on Twitter

Truckfighters on Instagram

Century Media website

Fuzzorama Records website

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Hexvessel Post “Drugged up on the Universe” Video; German Tour Starts Tonight

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

hexvessel-photo-by-bastiank-sofortbildfotografie

I had occasion this past weekend to revisit the third and latest full-length from Finnish forest-progressives HexvesselWhen We are Death (review here) — also their debut on Century Media — and I gotta tell you, the songs hold up. All of them. I listened to this record a lot leading up to reviewing it, was genuinely surprised by the turn the band took from the folkishness of their prior two LPs, and it took a while for that to sink in, but the more I put it on, the more the hooks stuck with me, and they still do. I know it’s only been a few months, but you’ll have to believe me when I say that’s more than many, many albums last in rotation on my mental jukebox (it’s an old fashioned one, with neon), particularly front-to-back in such a manner as When We are Death.

So, as the band head out on a quick run through Germany starting tonight and concluding at the Reeperbahn Festival, their new video for “Drugged up on the Universe” lands with welcome. The clip — which seems to feature a lot of the regular kind of drugged up, in addition to the universe — brings to life the track’s nigh-on-maddening hook, duly otherworldly and tripped out, hippie-tastic, but still weird enough to be of Hexvessel‘s own stock. This is the third video from When We are Death behind ones for “When I am Dead” (posted here) and “Cosmic Truth” (posted here), and I think if you want to get a glimpse at the deep variety Hexvessel display throughout, look no further than each of them, as sure enough, those are three very different videos. Hopefully they keep going, as there honestly isn’t a track on the record not worthy of highlight.

Frontman Mat McNerney has some comment on the clip via the PR wire below, where you’ll also find Hexvessel‘s upcoming live dates.

Enjoy:

Hexvessel, “Drugged up on the Universe” official video

HEXVESSEL’s singer Mat McNerney comments:
“The video references the death of the hippie movement, with a Manson-like shamanic figure, or malevolent spirit. Bringing to life 60s/70s counter culture in an Eyes Wide Shut orgy of drugs, the Alice-like central character takes a spiritual journey. Enticed by the spirit, who has entered her expanded consciousness, her mind expands. She is lead outside and discovers there is a wider universe than the one she knows.

It’s a nature mystic metaphor for how that era has influenced the environmental movement which Hexvessel feel a part of. If you let it in, the spirit of nature will find you and expand your consciousness. You don’t need drugs to get high on the nature of the universe! It was directed by Frenchman David Fitt who has previously worked on videos for King Dude for example.”

HEXVESSEL live
09.20.2016 Bamberg (D), Weinstube Pizzini
09.21.2016 Hannover (D), Chez Heinz (w/ Dead Meadows)
09.22.2016 Cologne (D), MTC (w/ Dead Meadows)
09.23.2016 Osnabrück (D), Bastard Club
09.24.2016 Hamburg (D), Reeperbahn Festival
11.04.2016 Dortmund (D), Tapir Media (pre-Leafmeal Festival show)
11.11.2016 Athens (GR), Gagarin (w/ Ornassi Pazuzu)

HEXVESSEL line-up
Mat McNerney – Vox & guitar
Marja Konttinen – Vox & percussion
Jukka Rämänen – Drums
Simo Kuosmanen – Lead Guitar
Niini Rossi – Bass Guitar
Kimmo Helén – Keys/Trumpet/Violin

Hexvessel on Thee Facebooks

Hexvessel Tumblr

Hexvessel at Century Media

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