Abrams Post Video for “Burned”; West Coast Tour Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abrams

We’re nearly a month out from the issue date for Abrams‘ second album and Sailor Records debut, Morning, and the Denver-based trio have newly unveiled a video to herald its arrival. I’m not entirely sure where the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster, bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are driving as they trade back and forth between what looks like a rehearsal space and in-the-van-type shenanigans — maybe to the rehearsal space itself, or the recording studio, or somewhere else in that gorgeous high-desert landscape with the Rocky Mountains behind them — but they look like they’re having a good time, and the song is catchy as all hell, so neither am I inclined to argue.

“Burned” is the name of the track, and it’s the second bit of audio to be released from Morning behind the not-quite-title-track “Mourning” that came with the album announcement. Both cuts acquit the band’s crisp take on progressive and modern heavy well, and if you’re looking to get some representation of the kind of flow Morning has on offer, check out this video first and then go right into the “Mourning,” because it just so happens the appear in that order in the tracklisting. That’s a 10-minute sample of a 43-minute record. Nothing to sneeze at. The video for “Burned” also has the advantage of a dreamy, kinda-sounds-like-SuperMarioWorld guitar-led midsection — at least I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m hearing there; it’s definitely something that was on SNES — and some direct vocal interplay from Iversen and Amster, so all the better to get a sense for where Abrams are coming from this time around.

You can check out the clip for “Burned” via the embed below, followed by more info on Morning from the PR wire and some newly announced tour dates that just came through. Because timing is everything.

Please enjoy:

Abrams, “Burned” official video

Denver, Colorado trio Abrams has revealed the music video for its song “Burned.”

The song appears on Abrams’ sophomore album Morning, to be released June 9th on Sailor Records.

Yearning, driving, and bursting with hooks, the ten songs on Morning summon a soulful version of heavy rock akin to Mastodon, Baroness, and Mark Lanegan. Tracks like “Burned” and the recently-premiered “Mourning” (featuring guest vocals by Phil Pendergast of hometown Denver pals Khemmis) are earth-shakers that veer from bittersweetness to defiance to rage.

Morning was recorded by Andy Patterson (SubRosa, Cult Leader) and Dave Otero (Cobalt, Cattle Decapitation), and was mixed and mastered by Otero.

The cover art and layout are by Samantha Muljat (Earth, Goatsnake).

Look for Abrams on tour all summer. Zach Amster says, “As always, we are excited to head back to the West Coast! Come out and show us a good time. East Coast, see you in August.”

Jun 9 – Santa Fe, NM @ The Underground
Jun 10 – Bisbee, AZ @ The Quarry
Jun 11 – San Diego, CA @ Tower Bar
Jun 12 – Long Beach, CA @ Blacklight District Lounge
Jun 13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Five Star Bar
Jun 14 – Joshua Tree, CA @ Beatnik Lounge
Jun 15 – San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
Jun 16 – San Jose, CA @ The Caravan
Jun 17 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Caffe Pergolesi
Jun 18 – Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge
Jun 19 – Reno, NV @ Shea’s Tavern
Jun 20 – Medford, OR @ Johnny B’s Tavern
Jun 21 – Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s Pub
Jun 22 – Portland, OR @ The Kenton Club
Jun 23 – Seattle, WA @ Lo-Fi Performance Gallery
Jun 24 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Jun 25 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Club X
Jun 26 – Cheyenne, WY @ Ernie November
Jun 27 – Rapid City, SD @ West Dakota Improv
Jun 28 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
Jun 29 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Jun 30 – Des Moines, IA @ The Fremont
Jul 1 – Denver, CO @ The Hi Dive

Lineup:
Taylor Iversen – bass, vocals
Zachary Amster – guitar, vocals
Geoffrey Cotton – drums

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

Sailor Records website

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

Sailor Records on Thee Facebooks

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Abrams Release Morning June 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abrams (photo chanelle leslie)

I can’t really say it’s much of a surprise that Denver, Colorado, three-piece Abrams went back into the studio with Andy Patterson at the helm. Patterson, who also tracked their 2015 debut full-length, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), and has worked with the likes of SubRosa, Iota, Gaza, Black Sleep of Kali, etc., in one or multiple capacities, produces the forthcoming Morning in league with Dave Otero (whom I’ll forever associate with the stellar presence he brought to Cephalic Carnage), and one can hear in the title-track streaming below that production isn’t a minor factor in the trio’s ultra-clear, crisp and progressive delivery.

Getting a sound like that of Abrams to sound as clean as it does and still be heavy is no easy feat, but “Morning” — which also boasts a guest vocal spot from Khemmis‘ Phil Pendergast — bodes well for the rest of the record to come. One looks forward to digging in.

Cover art by Samantha Muljat, album info and audio follow, all courtesy of the PR wire:

abrams morning

ABRAMS: Khemmis frontman guests on track off Denver trio’s sophomore album “Morning”

Denver, Colorado trio Abrams announces new full-length album Morning, to be released June 9th on Sailor Records.

The sophomore album by Abrams, Morning perfects the sound put forth on the 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. Yearning, driving, and hook-laden, the ten songs on Morning summon a soulful version of heavy rock that dwells in the same mountain range as later Mastodon, Baroness, and Mark Lanegan.

Tracks like “Worlds Away,” “18 Weeks,” “Rivers,” “Burned,” and “Morning” (featuring guest vocals by Phil Pendergast of hometown Denver pals Khemmis) are earth-shakers that veer from bittersweetness to defiance to rage. Guitarist Zachary Amster’s simple leads shine majestically over bassist Taylor Iversen’s fuzz and crunch, and drummer Geoffrey Cotton’s tom-heavy propulsion. Amster and Iversen both sing – world-weary yet full of fire. Iversen describes the lyrical themes:

“The concept we put forth with this album is one of duality. Morning and mourning. The songs represent to us a realization that all good things come with eventual bad things. There’s that morning where the sun is bright and the birds are chirping and everything seems possible. At the end of the day, it wasn’t what you hoped it would be. Every day you wake up and hope, and every night you go to sleep and mourn.”

Morning was recorded by Andy Patterson (SubRosa, Cult Leader) and Dave Otero (Cobalt, Cattle Decapitation), and was mixed and mastered by Otero.

The cover art and layout are by Samantha Muljat (Earth, Goatsnake).

Look for Abrams on tour all summer.

Tracklist:
1) Worlds Away
2) At the End
3) 18 Weeks
4) Rivers
5) Can’t Sleep
6) Burned
7) Mourning
8) Die in Love
9) In this Mask
10) Morning

Lineup:
Taylor Iversen – bass, vocals
Zachary Amster – guitar, vocals
Geoffrey Cotton – drums

https://www.facebook.com/abramsrock
https://abramsrock.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.sailorrecords.com/
https://sailor-records.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailor-Records/359148970778780

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Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Announces Corky Laing’s Mountain to Headline

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Acid King and Mountain as headliners? Look, I was pretty much sold on the notion of Electric Funeral Fest 2017 anyway, but it’s not like adding Corky Laing and a bunch of other dudes playing Mountain classics hurts. The festival is set for this June in the Mile High city of Denver, Colorado, and in addition to those two it features a swath of righteous acts from the West Coast, the Midwest, the South and the East, pulling in various kind of heavy from doom to sludge to classic rock and roll in what’s an obviously well curated environment. If I could go, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

Some of the below was posted previously, but I want to reiterate to underscore the point. If you’re in this part of the world, you should fucking go to this. Events like this deserve your support and they deserve to continue to flourish and grow. Don’t suck. Go and have a good time. That’s my piece. I’ve said it.

Info follows:

denver-electric-funeral-fest-2017

“Honored to announce the headliner of Day 1 at Electric Funeral Fest is current iteration of iconic rock band, MOUNTAIN. Original drummer Corky Laing has teamed up with a band to play Mountain hits from the early ’70s. It is a true pleasure to host a legend from the era that started it all.

Electric Funeral will once again be happening in the South Broadway district of Denver. Anyone that is familiar with Denver knows that S. Broadway is one of the greatest neighborhoods this city has to offer. In our second year of this event, we have added a second stage at Hi Dive. Hi Dive is across the street from 3 Kings Tavern and easily one of the greatest places to party in Denver.

There is also no shortage of other great bars and restaurants in the area for attendees to visit if they need a break from head-banging. Although both stages are indoors, this will feel like just as much of an outdoor event as people go back and forth between the two venues that will run simultaneously through both evenings. Hey hey, my my, rock n’ roll sure ain’t fuckin’ dying in Denver!

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 – Friday June 16th & Saturday June 17th
Location: Denver, CO @ Hi Dive & 3 Kings Tavern

LINEUP

Friday June 16
Headliner: Corky Laing’s Mountain
Support: Sourvein, Slow Season, Goya, R.I.P., The Well, Glitter Wizard, Monarch, Muscle Beach, The Munsens, Communion, Lords of Beacon House, Greenbeard, Oryx, Smokey Mirror, High on the Mountain

Saturday June 17
Headliner: Acid King
Support: Electric Citizen, The Heavy Eyes, Destroyer of Light, Crypt Trip, Cloud Catcher, Love Gang, Barrows, Great Electric Quest, Red Wizard, Banquet, Ocelot (performing as Feather Stone), Jagged Mouth, Pueblo Escobar, Urn

Flier art by Christina Hunt
Flier layout by Keith Dreissen

www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
https://www.facebook.com/dustpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1810211735896531/

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Quarterly Review: Unearthly Trance, Heavy Traffic, Saturn, Lucifer’s Fall, Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Scuzzy Yeti, Urn., Nebula Drag, Contra, IAH

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

From harsh doom to urban pastoralism to heavy blues rock to rolling doom nonetheless metallic in its defiance, Day Four of the Quarterly Review spins around a swath of styles and hopefully, hopefully, finds something you dig in the doing. It’s been a long week already. You know it. I know it. But it’s also been really good to dig into this stuff and I know I’ve found a few records that have made their way onto the already-ongoing 2017 lists — best short releases, debuts, albums, etc. — so to say it’s been worth it is, as ever, an understatement. Today likewise has gems to offer, so I won’t delay.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Unearthly Trance, Stalking the Ghost

unearthly-trance-stalking-the-ghost

Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance make a somewhat unexpected reentry with Stalking the Ghost (on Relapse), their sixth album. In the years since 2010’s V (review here), guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky has delved into a wide variety of extreme genres, from the blackened fare of The Howling Wind to the deathly-doom of Serpentine Path, in which Unearthly Trance bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni also shared tenure, but reuniting as Unearthly Trance feels like a significant step for the three-piece, and on tracks like “Dream State Arsenal” and the darkly post-metallic “Lion Strength,” they remind of what it was that made them such a standout in the first place while demonstrating that their years away have done nothing to dull the surehandedness of their approach. At eight tracks/52 minutes, Stalking the Ghost is a significant dirge to undertake, but Unearthly Trance bring pent-up anguish to bear across this varied swath of punishing tracks, and reassert their dominance over an aesthetic sphere that, even after all this time, is thoroughly their own.

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Heavy Traffic, Plastic Surgery

heavy-traffic-plastic-surgery

Probably a smart move on the part of Heavy Traffic spearhead guitarist Ian Caddick and drummer/vocalist Tav Palumbo to swap coasts from Santa Cruz to Brooklyn ahead of putting together their sixth (!) full-length in three years and Twin Earth Records debut, Plastic Surgery. Cali is awash in heavy psych anyway and Brooklyn’s been at a deficit (as much as it’s at a deficit of anything) since space forerunners Naam became one with the cosmos, so even apart from the acquisition of bassist David Grzedzinki and drummer Dan Bradica, it’s a solid call, and one finds the fruits yielded on Plastic Surgery’s dream-fuzzed blend of heft and roll, heady jams like “See Right Through,” the oh-you-like-feedback-well-here’s-all-the-feedback “Broth Drain” and winding “Medicated Bed” finding a place where shoegaze and psychedelia meet ahead of the low-end-weighted closing title-cut and the bonus track “White and Green,” which finishes with suitable push and swirl to mark a welcome and vibe-soaked arrival for the band. Hope you enjoy the Eastern Seabord. It could use you.

Heavy Traffic on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Saturn, Beyond Spectra

saturn beyond spectra

In the second Saturn album, Beyond Spectra, one can hear one of retro rock’s crucial next movements taking place. The Swedish four-piece, who debuted on Rise Above with 2014’s Ascending and return with a periodically explosive 10-track/45-minute outing here, find a niche for themselves in adding dual-guitar NWOBHM elements to ‘70s-style (also ‘10s-style) boogie, as on the scorching “Still Young” or opener “Orbital Command.” They’re not the only ones doing it – Rise Above alums Horisont come to mind readily – but they’re doing it well, and the last three years have clearly found them refining their approach to arrive at the tightness in the shuffle of “Wolfsson” and the creeping Priestism of “Helmet Man” later on. I’ll give bonus points for their embracing the idea of going completely over the top in naming a song “Electrosaurus Sex,” but by the time they get down to closing duo “Silfvertape” and “Sensor Data,” I’m left thinking of the subdued intro to “Orbital Command” and the interlude “Linkans Delight” and wondering if there isn’t a way to bring more of that dynamic volume and tempo breadth into the songwriting as a whole. That would really be far out. Maybe they’ll get there, maybe they won’t. Either way, Beyond Spectra, like its predecessor, makes a largely inarguable case for Saturn’s potential.

Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Lucifer’s Fall, II: Cursed and Damned

lucifers-fall-cursed-and-damned

Measuring its impact between doomly traditionalism and attitudinal fuckall, Lucifer’s Fall’s II: Cursed and Damned (on Nine Records) is a doom-for-doomers affair that tops 55 minutes with its nine tracks, recalling Dio-era Sabbathian gallop on opener “Mother Superior” and landing a significant blow with the slow-rolling nine-minute push of “The Necromancer.” Shades of Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, and the most loyal of the loyalists show themselves throughout, but whether it’s the crawl in the first half of “Cursed Priestess” or the blistering rush of the clarion centerpiece “(Fuck  You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall,” there’s an undercurrent of punk in the five-piece’s take that lends an abiding rawness to even the album’s most grueling moments. One looks to find a middle ground in songs like “The Mountains of Madness” and closer “Homunculus,” but Lucifer’s Fall instead offer NWOBHM-style guitar harmonics and soaring vocals, respectively, only pushing their stylistic breadth wider, playing by and breaking rules they’re clearly setting for themselves rather than working toward outside expectation. As a result, II: Cursed and Damned keeps its fist in the air for the duration, middle finger up.

Lucifer’s Fall on Bandcamp

Nine Records website

 

Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Uptown

trevor-shelley-de-brauw-uptown

Over the course of six-minute opener “A New Architecture,” guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw gradually moves the listener from abrasive noise to sweet, folkish acoustic guitar backed by amplified wavelengths. It’s a slowly unfolding change, patiently done, and it works in part to define Uptown (on The Flenser), the Pelican guitarist’s six-song solo debut long-player. Noise and drone make themselves regulars, and there’s a steady experimentalism at root in pieces like “Distinct Frequency,” the low-end hum and strum of “You Were Sure,” and the should’ve-been-on-the-soundtrack-to-Arrival “Turn up for What,” which unfurls a linear progression from minimalism to consuming swell in eight minutes ahead of the more actively droning 11-minute sendoff “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” but de Brauw manages to keep a human core beneath via both the occasional acoustic layer and through moments where a piece is being palpably manipulated, à la the spacious distorted churn of “They Keep Bowing.” I’m not sure how Uptown didn’t wind up on Neurot, but either way, it’s an engaging exploration of textures, and one hopes it won’t be de Brauw’s last work in this form.

Trevor Shelley de Brauw on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser website

 

Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti

scuzzy yeti scuzzy yeti

Someone in Scuzzy Yeti has roots in metal, and the good money’s on it being vocalist Chris Wells. Joined in the Troy, New Hampshire, five-piece by guitarists Brad Decatur and Jason Lawrence (ex-Skrogg), bassist Wayne Munson and drummer Josh Turnbull, Wells casts a sizable frontman presence across the five-tracks of Scuzzy Yeti’s self-titled debut EP, belting out “Westward” and “BTK” as the band behind him hones a blend of classic heavy rock and doom. The sound is more reminiscent of Janne Christoffersson-era Spiritual Beggars than what one might expect out of New England, and the band amass some considerable momentum as centerpiece “Conqueror” and the shorter shuffle “Knees in the Breeze” push toward slower, lead-soaked closer “Flare,” which finds the lead guitar stepping up to meet Wells head-on. They might have some work to do in finding a balance between the stylistic elements at play, but for a first outing, Scuzzy Yeti shows all the pieces are there and are being put into their rightful place, and the result is significant, marked potential.

Scuzzy Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Scuzzy Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Urn., Urn.

urn urn

The insistent push from punctuated Denver trio Urn.’s self-titled debut demo/EP is enough to remind one of the days when the primary impression of Mastodon wasn’t their complexity, but the raw savagery with which that complexity was delivered. Urn. – the three-piece of Scott Schulman, Graham Wesselhoff and Jacob Archuleta – work in some elements of more extreme metal to “Rat King” after opener “Breeder,” both songs under three minutes and successfully conveying an intense thrust. The subsequent “Stomach” ranges further and is the longest cut at 4:45, but loses none of its focus as it winds its way toward closer “To the Grave,” which in addition to maintaining the nigh-on-constant kick drum that has pervaded the three tracks prior, offers some hints of lumbering stomp to come. As a first sampling, Urn.’s Urn. is a cohesive aesthetic blast setting in motion a progression that will be worth following as it develops. Call it rager metal and try not to spill your beverage while you windmill, you wild headbanger.

Urn. on Thee Facebooks

Urn. on Bandcamp

 

Nebula Drag, Always Dying

nebula drag always dying

2016 found San Diego aggressors Nebula Drag making their self-titled, self-released debut (review here) with a record that seemed to work in willful defiance of their hometown’s psychedelic underground while at the same time occasionally nodding to it. The forebodingly-titled Always Dying three-song EP does likewise, launching with a vengeance on “Crosses” before burying the vocals and spacing out behind the crashes of the more languid-rolling title-track and giving a bit of both sides with the four-minute closer “Flying Fuckers.” It’s almost as if the three-piece of Corey Quintana, bassist Mike Finneran and drummer Stephen Varns, having thus completed their first album, decided to boil it down to its essential stylistic components and the result of that was this 14-minute outing. An intriguing prospect, but it could also be these were leftovers from the prior session with Jordan Andreen at Audio Design Recording and putting them up for a free download was an easy way to give them some purpose. In any case, if you haven’t yet been introduced to the band, Always Dying is an efficient telling of their story thus far.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Contra, Deny Everything

contra deny everything

If their moniker doesn’t have you immediately running through the most legendary of cheat codes, congratulations on being born after 1990. Cleveland burl-sludge metallers Contra make their full-length debut on respected purveyor Robustfellow with the 10-track/41-minute Deny Everything, and if it sounds like they have their shit together – at least sound-wise – it should make sense given the pedigree of drummer Aaron Brittain (ex-Rue), bassist/guitarist Adam Horwatt (So Long Albatross), guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer) and vocalist Larry Bent (ex-Don Austin). Be it established that songs like “Snake Goat” and “Son of Beast” are nobody’s first time at the sludge rodeo. Fair enough. Doesn’t mean Contra don’t establish their own personality in the overarching fuckall and total lack of pretense throughout Deny Everything – hell, seven-minute closer “Shrimp Cocktail” proves that on its own – just that that personality has roots. What Contra wants to do with them still kind of seems up in the air, but something about these tracks makes me think the band likes it that way. See the aforementioned “fuckall.”

Contra on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

IAH, IAH

iah iah

Comprised of four songs tracked live in the trio’s native Córdoba at 440 Estudio, the self-titled debut EP from Argentine trio IAH – guitarist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco and drummer José Landín – would seem destined to catch the attention of South American Sludge Records if it already hasn’t. In the interim, the three-piece have made the instrumental EP available as a free download and its unpretentious heavy psychedelics and edge of rock-minded thrust on opener “Cabalgan los Cielos” and the early going of closer “Eclipsum” more than justify their intention to spread the word as much as possible. Set to a balance of post-rock guitar, the bassline of “Stolas” carries a progressive inflection, and the fuzz that emerges halfway into second track “Ouroboros” shows a desert rock influence that blends well into its surroundings as a part of a richer sonic entity. A nascent but palpable chemistry at work across its 26 minutes, IAH’s IAH could portend expansive ideas to come, and one hopes it does precisely that.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

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Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Announces Lineup; Limited Early Tickets Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Today, Denver’s Electric Funeral Fest 2017 reveals Acid King will headline and the likes of Sourvein, Slow Season, Goya, Electric Citizen, Destroyer of Light, The Well, Cloud Catcher, Oryx and many more will appear. Limited early tickets — there seem to be 40 — are on sale as of right this second.

One headliner is still TBA, but even so, it’s a remarkably ambitious return for Electric Funeral Fest, which had its first showing in 2016. Put on by DUST Presents, it finds hometown representation through The Munsens, Love Gang, Oryx, and Cloud Catcher, likely among others, and reaches far and wide in filling out an impressive roster of acts. To be perfectly blunt about it, it looks fucking awesome.

The fest was kind enough to let me host this initial lineup announcement, and below, organizer Shaun Goodwin gives some background on the area where it will take place across two venues and the vibe they’re shooting for with Electric Funeral Fest 2017.

Dig it:

electric-funeral-fest-2017-poster

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 – Friday June 16th & Saturday June 17th

Location: Denver, CO @ Hi Dive & 3 Kings Tavern

Tickets: www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
– There will be 40 early bird discounted 2-day passes available at $49
– After those are sold, presale 2-day passes are $59
– 1 day passes are $32

Electric Funeral will once again be happening in the South Broadway district of Denver. Anyone that is familiar with Denver knows that S. Broadway is one of the greatest neighborhoods this city has to offer. In our second year of this event, we have added a second stage at Hi Dive. Hi Dive is across the street from 3 Kings Tavern and easily one of the greatest places to party in Denver.

There is also no shortage of other great bars and restaurants in the area for attendees to visit if they need a break from head-banging. Although both stages are indoors, this will feel like just as much of an outdoor event as people go back and forth between the two venues that will run simultaneously through both evenings. Hey hey, my my, rock n’ roll sure ain’t fuckin’ dying in Denver!

LINEUP

Friday June 16
Headliner: TBA
Support: Sourvein, Slow Season, Goya, R.I.P., The Well, Glitter Wizard, Monarch, Muscle Beach, The Munsens, Communion, Lords of Beacon House, Greenbeard, Oryx, Smokey Mirror, High on the Mountain

Saturday June 17
Headliner: Acid King
Support: Electric Citizen, The Heavy Eyes, Destroyer of Light, Crypt Trip, Cloud Catcher, Love Gang, Barrows, Great Electric Quest, Red Wizard, Banquet, Ocelot (performing as Feather Stone), Jagged Mouth, Pueblo Escobar, Urn

Flier art by Christina Hunt
Flier layout by Keith Dreissen

www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
https://www.facebook.com/dustpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1810211735896531/

Goya, “Misanthropy on High” live at Electric Funeral Fest 2016

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The Munsens on Tour Starting this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

THE MUNSENS

If you’re gonna go, go in style. It’s an ethic that riffy Denver trio The Munsens seem to have taken to heart. I don’t know what they’ll be riding around on this West Coast tour supporting their Nov. 2016 EP, Abbey Rose (review here), and that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about playing with some frickin’ awesome bands as they go from town to town. Look at that Long Beach show. Or the last night of the tour in Tempe? What a way to round out. And to have a couple nights in Colorado at the start before dipping to Ciudad Juarez and hooking up with Malahierba? Very cool.

I’d be interested to know what comes together for Vegas — or better yet, if you can make something happen there and help out the band, do it. Put on a good show. They’ve set a pretty high standard with these bills.

Dates follow:

The Munsens’ Abbey Rose tour

Having just turned loose their new EP, Abbey Rose (self-released, Nov. 21), Denver, Colorado’s the Munsens is taking to the road for a 10 day, nine show run through the southwest US, beginning January 12.

Tour dates:
1.12 – Denver, CO – Hi-Dive (w/ Ketch, Matriarch, Night of the Living Shred)
1.13 – Colorado Springs, CO – Triple Nickel (w/ Still Valley, Night of the Living Shred)
1.14 – Juarez, MX – Hysteria (w/ Dizz Brew, Malahierba, Ultimo Trip)
1.16 – Albuquerque, NM – Low Spirits (w/ Hydrant, The Horned God)
1.17 – Las Vegas, NV – TBA
1.18 – San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room (w/ Love Moon, Mesmer, Externs)
1.19 – Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar (w/ Slow Season, Lords of Beacon House, of limbo)
1.20 – Oceanside, CA – Pierview Pub (w/ Red Wizard and special guests)
1.21 – Tempe, AZ – Palo Verde Lounge (w/ Goya, Twingiant, Grey Gallows)

The Munsens made a handful of appearances in Denver during the summer and fall of 2016, and just released their first recordings in nearly two years (Nov. 21) via a 45-minute EP titled Abbey Rose, which preludes their first full-length album, due out in the summer of 2017. Abbey Rose is available on cassette and as a digital download through the band’s Bandcamp page and will supported by two tours in early 2017, in January and in March.

The Munsens is:
Shaun Goodwin
Mike Goodwin
Graham Wesselhoff

facebook.com/themunsens
http://www.themunsensnj.bandcamp.com/

The Munsens, Abbey Rose (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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Quarterly Review: Hornss, Khemmis, Fox 45, Monolith Wielder, No Man’s Valley, Saturna, Spotlights, MØLK, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Moon Coven

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

the obelisk winter quarterly review

2016 ends and 2017 starts off on the right foot with a brand new Quarterly Review roundup. The first time I ever did one of these was at the end of 2014 and I called the feature ‘Last Licks.’ Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that name, but that is kind of how I’m thinking about this particular Quarterly Review. You’ll find stuff that came out spread all across 2016, early, middle, late, but basically what I’m trying to do here is get to a point where it’s not March and I’m still reviewing albums from November. Will it work? Probably not, but in order to try my damnedest to make it do so anyway, I’m making this Quarterly Review six full days. Monday to Monday instead of Monday to Friday. 60 reviews in six posts. Sounds like madness because it is madness. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Hornss, Telepath

hornss telepath

San Francisco trio Hornss debuted on RidingEasy Records with 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here) and further their raw genre blend on Telepath, their half-hour follow-up LP delivered via STB, melding heavy punk and metallic impulses to a noisy, thick-toned thrust on songs like “Atrophic” and the bouncing “Sargasso Heart” while opener “St. Genevieve” and the penultimate “Old Ghosts” dig into more stonerly nod. The latter track is the longest inclusion on the record at 3:26, and with 11 cuts there’s plenty of jumping between impulses to be done, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, bassist/vocalist Nick Nava – both formerly of desert punkers Solarfeast – and drummer Bil Bowman (ex-Zodiac Killers) work effectively and efficiently to cast an identity for themselves within the tumult. It’s one that finds them reveling in the absence of pretense and the sometimes-caustic vibes of songs like “Leaving Thermal,” which nonetheless boast an underlying catchiness, speaking to a progression from the first album.

Hornss on Thee Facebooks

STB Records store

 

Khemmis, Hunted

khemmis hunted

Easily justifiable decision on the part of Denver’s Khemmis to return to Flatline Audio and producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, etc.) for their second album, Hunted. No reason to fix what clearly wasn’t broken about their 2015 debut, Absolution (review here), and on the 20 Buck Spin Records release, they don’t. A year later, the four-piece instead build on the doomly grandeur of the first outing and push forward in aesthetic, confidence and purpose, whether that’s shown in mournful opener “Above the Water,” the darker “Candlelight” that follows, or the centerpiece “Three Gates,” which opens as muddied death metal before shifting into a cleaner chorus, creating a rare bridge between doom and modern metal. Khemmis save the most resonant crush for side B, however, with the nine-minute “Beyond the Door” capping with vicious stomp before the 13-minute title-track, which closes the album with an urgency that bleeds even into spacious and melodic break that sets up the final apex to come, as emotionally charged as it is pummeling.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Fox 45, Ashes of Man

fox 45 ashes of man

In addition to the outright charm of titles like “Doominati,” “Coup d’étwat,” “Murdercycle” and “Urinal Acid” (the latter a bonus track), Rochester, New York’s Fox 45 offer fuzzy roll on their Twin Earth Records debut full-length, Ashes of Man, the three-piece of Amanda Rampe, Vicky Tee and Casey Learch finding space for themselves between the post-Acid King nod of “Necromancing the Stone” and more swing-prone movements like the relatively brief “Soul Gourmandizer.” Playing back and forth between longer and shorter tracks gives Ashes of Man a depth of character – particularly encouraging since it’s Fox 45’s first record – and the low-end push that leads “Phoenix Tongue” alone is worth the price of admission, let alone the familiar-in-the-right-ways straightforward heavy riffing of “Narcissister” a short while later. Very much a debut, but one that sets up a grunge-style songwriting foundation on which to build as they move forward, and Fox 45 seem to have an eye toward doing precisely that.

Fox 45 on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Monolith Wielder, Monolith Wielder

monolith wielder self titled

Double-guitar Pittsburgh four-piece Monolith Wielder make their self-titled debut through Italian imprint Argonauta Records, bringing together Molasses Barge guitarist Justin Gizzi and Zom guitarist/vocalist Gero von Dehn with bassist Ray Ward (since replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Ben Zerbe (also Mandrake Project) for 10 straightforward tracks that draw together classic Sabbathian doom with post-grunge heavy rock roll. There’s a workingman’s sensibility to the riffing of “No Hope No Fear” and the earlier, more ‘90s moodiness of “Angels Hide” – von Dehn’s vocals over the thick tones almost brings to mind Sevendust on that particularly catchy chorus – but Monolith Wielder’s Monolith Wielder isn’t shy about bringing atmospherics to the Iommic thrust of its eponymous cut or the penultimate “King Under Fire,” which recalls the self-titled Alice in Chains in its unfolding bleakness before closer “Electric Hessian” finishes with a slight uptick in pace and a fade out and back in (and a last sample) that hints at more to come.

Monolith Wielder on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

No Man’s Valley, Time Travel

no man's valley time travel

The stomp and clap intro “The Man Who Would be King” casts an immediately bluesy hue on No Man’s Valley’s debut album, Time Travel (LP release on Nasoni), and the Netherlands-based five-piece seem only too happy to build on that from there. It’s a blend outfits like The Flying Eyes and Suns of Thyme have proffered for several years now between heavy psychedelia and blues, but No Man’s Valley find a niche for themselves in the dreamy and patient execution of “Sinking the Lifeboat,” a highlight of the eight-track/33-minute LP, and bring due personality to the classic-style jangle-and-swing of “The Wolves are Coming” as well, so that Time Travel winds up more textured than redundant as it makes its way toward six-minute piano-laden finale “Goon.” Once there, they follow a linear course with a post-All Them Witches looseness that solidifies into a resonant and deeply engaging apex, underscoring the impressive reach No Man’s Valley have brought to bear across this first LP of hopefully many to come.

No Man’s Valley on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Saturna, III/Lost in Time

saturna lost in time

Barcelona classic rocking four-piece Saturna seem to avoid the boogie trap when they want to, as on the more rolling, modern heavy groove of “Five Fools,” and that keeps their World in Sound/PRC Music third album, III/Lost in Time, from being too predictable after the opening “Tired to Fight” seems to set up Thin Lizzy idolatry. They dip into more complex fare on “Leave it All,” somewhere between Skynyrd leads, Deep Purple organ-isms topped with a rousing hook, but keep some shuffle on songs like “Disease” and the earlier “All Has Been Great.” Highlight/closer “Place for Our Soul” seems to be literal in its title, with a more subdued approach and harmonized vocal delivery, and listening to its more patient delivery one can’t help but wonder why that soul should be relegated to the end of the album instead of featured throughout, but the songwriting is solid and the delivery confident, so while familiar, there’s ultimately little to complain about with what III/Lost in Time offers.

Saturna on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

MØLK, Hate from the Bong

molk hate from the bong

Especially with the title of their second EP set as Hate from the Bong, one might be tempted to put Belgian outfit MØLK immediately in the same category of malevolent stoner/sludge metal as the likes of Bongripper, but frankly they sound like they’re having too much fun for that on the five-tracker, reveling in lyrical shenanigans on the politically suspect “Stonefish” and opener “Methamphetamine.” Make no mistake, they’re suitably druggy, but even Hate from the Bong’s title-track seems to keep its tongue in cheek as it unfolds its post-Electric Wizard echoes and tonal morass. That gives the five-piece an honest vibe – they’re a relatively new band, having released their first EP in 2016 as well; why shouldn’t they be having a good time? – to coincide with all that thickened low end and vocal reverb, and though they’re obviously growing, there isn’t much more I’d ask of them from a debut full-length, which is a task they sound ready to take on in these songs.

MØLK on Thee Facebooks

MØLK on Bandcamp

 

Psychedelic Witchcraft, The Vision

psychedelic witchcraft the vision

Italian cult rock outfit Psychedelic Witchcraft have proven somewhat difficult to keep up with over the last year-plus. As they’ve hooked up with Soulseller Records and reissued their Black Magic Man EP (review here), their full-length debut, The Vision, and already announced a follow-up compilation in 2017’s Magick Rites and Spells, the band consistently work to feature the vocals of Virginia Monti (also Dead Witches) amid semi-retro ‘70s-style boogie, as heard on the debut in cuts like “Witches Arise” and “Wicked Ways.” At nine tracks/34 minutes, however, The Vision is deceptively efficient, and though they’re unquestionably playing to style, Psychedelic Witchcraft find room to vary moods on “The Night” and the subdued strum of “The Only One Who Knows,” keeping some sonic diversity while staying largely on-theme lyrically. To call the album cohesive is underselling its purposefulness, but the question is how the band will build on the bluesy soulfulness of “Magic Hour Blues” now that they’ve set this progression in motion. Doesn’t seem like it will be all that long before we find out.

Psychedelic Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records website

 

Spotlights, Spiders EP

spotlights spiders

Following the heavy post-rock wash of their 2016 debut album, Tidals, Brooklynite two-piece Spotlights – bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sarah Quintero and guitarist/synthesis/vocalist Mario Quintero – return on the quick with a three-track EP, Spiders, and set themselves toward further sonic expansion. The centerpiece “She Spider” is a Mew cover, electronic beats back opener “A Box of Talking Heads V2” and the spacious closer “Joseph” is a track from Tidals remixed by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris. So, perhaps needless to say, they hit that “expansion” mark pretty head-on. The finale turns out to be the high point, more cinematic in its ambience, but still moving through with an underlying rhythm to the wash of what one might otherwise call drones before becoming more deeply post-Nine Inch Nails in its back half. How many of these elements might show up on Spotlights’ next record, I wouldn’t guess, but the band takes an important step by letting listeners know the potential is there, adding three wings onto their wheelhouse in three tracks, which is as efficient conceptually as it is sonically immersive.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Spotlights on Bandcamp

 

Moon Coven, Moon Coven

moon coven self-titled

This self-titled second full-length from Malmö, Sweden-based Moon Coven begins with its longest track (immediate points) in “Storm” and works quickly to nail down a far-reaching meld between heavy psych and riffy density. Issued through the much-respected Transubstans Records, it’s a nine-track/50-minute push that can feel unipolar on an initial listen, but largely avoids that trap through tonal hypnosis and fluid shifts into and out of jams on cuts like “The Third Eye,” while centerpiece “Haramukh High” provides a solidified moment before the organ interlude “The Ice Temple” leads into the mega-roll of finisher “White Sun.” What seems to be a brooding sensibility from the artwork – a striking departure from their 2014 debut, Amanita Kingdom – is actually a far more colorful affair than it might at first appear, and well justifies the investment of repeat visits in the far-out nod of “Conspiracy” and the swirling “Winter,” which goes so far as to add melodic texture in the vocals and notably fuzzed guitar, doing much to bolster the proceedings and overarching groove.

Moon Coven on Thee Facebooks

Transubstans Records

 

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