Lo-Pan and Against the Grain Announce Northeast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Before they split out for Europe in April and, presumably once reaching its shores decide never to return, Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan will hit the road like they do with Detroit speedfreaks Against the Grain. The tour will be in the north and northeast, which should be almost thinking about thawing out by then, and is set to start March 12 and run until March 22. For Lo-Pan, they’re out supporting last year’s Colossus (review here), while the oft-touring Against the Grain will have by that time recorded their fourth album, which is set to release later in 2015.

Like I said, after this, Lo-Pan are off to Europe alongside Black Pyramid, but it’s worth noting that this will be their first tour with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, so it should be a chance for them to further solidify before they go. They’ve given themselves a high-energy companion in Against the Grain, who will no doubt keep them on their toes for the duration.

The PR wire brings details and dates, and we all like details and dates, right? Okay then:

lo-pan against the grain march tour 1

Lo Pan & Against The Grain to tour Northeast in March

Columbus riff titans Lo Pan will be pairing up with Detroit neck breakers Against The Grain for a ten date Northeast tour in the month of March in what will be a travelling showcase of two of the heaviest bands going from the Midwest.

Both bands coming off a successful campaigns in 2014 with Against The Grain seeing the release of Motor City Speed Rock on vinyl and nonstop touring throughout the year with dates that included runs with Guttermouth, Koffin Kats and Nashville Pussy and Valient Thorr to close out the year.

Against The Grain start the year doing a two shows with Detroit’s own Koffin Kats in Chicago (Reggie’s) and in Westland, MI (Token Lounge) and a local show with notable punk/metal band Gang Green in the Detroit area (Corktown Tavern).   From there, the four will be spending the month of February recording the follow up to 2012’s “Surrounded By Snakes” at Train – A Comin’ Studios in Mt. Clemens, Michigan which will be slated for a summer release.

Dates:
March 12 – The Loving Touch (Ferndale, MI)
March 13 – Grog Shop (Cleveland, OH)
March 14 – The Lost Horizon (Syracuse, NY)
March 15 – TT the Bears (Boston, MA)
March 16 – TBA
March 17 – TBA
March 18 – Saint Vitus Bar (Brooklyn, NY)
March 19 – Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia, PA)
March 20 – The Pinch (Washington D.C.)
March 21 – 31st St. Pub (Pittsburgh, PA)
March 22 – Spacebar (Columbus, OH)

https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/colossus
https://www.facebook.com/Againstthegraindetroit/
http://againstthegrain-atg.bandcamp.com/
http://selfdestructorecords.bandcamp.com/

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

Against the Grain, Surrounded by Snakes (2013)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 30 of 2014

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-top-30-of-2014

Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t added your list yet, please do.

This was a hard list to put together. The top three have been set in my mind for probably the last month, but trying to work my way backwards from there was a real challenge — what’s a top 10 record, a top 20 record, a top 30, honorable mentions and all the rest. I’ve never done a full top 30 before, always 20, but the truth is there was just too much this year to not expand.

I’m still juggling numbers even as I put together this post, and I’m sure that by the time I’m done several records will have switched places. That’s always how it seems to go. What I’m confident that I have is a list accurately representing critique and my own habits, both what I gravitated toward in listening throughout the year and what I feel is noteworthy on a critical level. This site has always been a blend of those two impulses. It’s only fair this list should be as well.

Before we dig in, you should note this is full-length albums only. I’ll have a list of short releases (EPs, singles, demos) to come, as well as a special list of debut releases, since it seemed to be a particularly good year for them. And since I’m only one person, I couldn’t hear everything, much as I tried.

Okay. Here we go:

30. Orange Goblin, Back from the Abyss

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Released by Candlelight Records. Reviewed on Nov. 17.

The kings of London’s heavy scene offered more powerhouse heavy rock with their eighth album and second for Candlelight, and their rabid and ever-growing fanbase ate it up. Back from the Abyss proved yet again that few can attain the kind of vicious force that seems to come so natural to Orange Goblin, and made it clear their domination shows no signs of losing momentum.

 

29. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

mos-generator-electric-mountain-majesty

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 14.

A darker affair from Port Orchard, Washington’s Mos GeneratorElectric Mountain Majesty still found its core in the songwriting led by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed. They’re a band with some changes on the horizon, and I’ll be interested to hear what hindsight does to these songs. As it was, the hooks and downer vibes may have been in conceptual conflict, but the execution was inarguable.

 

28. Pilgrim, II: Void Worship

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Released by Metal Blade Records. Reviewed on April 15.

Richer in the listening than 2012’s Misery Wizard debut, Pilgrim‘s II: Void Worship nonetheless held firm to the doomly spirit that’s made the Rhode Island outfit such a sensation these last couple years. Its longer songs, “Master’s Chamber,” “Void Worship” and the emotionally weighted “Away from Here,” were particularly immersive, and they remain a bright spot in doom’s future.

 

27. John Garcia, John Garcia

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Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on July 7.

His long-awaited solo debut, John Garcia‘s John Garcia offered memorable tracks culled from years of songwriting from the former Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida and Hermano frontman, performed in the classic desert rock style he helped define. I’m not sure it was worth trading a second Vista Chino record for, but it was hard to argue with “The Blvd” and “All These Walls.”

 

26. Swans, To be Kind

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Released by Mute/Young God Records. Reviewed on May 9.

An overwhelming two-disc barrage from a relentless creativity that, more than 30 years on from its first public incarnation, is still to be considered avant garde. I’m not sure planet earth realizes how lucky it is to have Swans running around unleashing all this chaos, but I hope they don’t stop anytime soon. To be Kind was brutal and beautiful in like measure.

 

25. Sólstafir, Ótta

solstafir-otta

Released by Season of Mist. Discussed Oct. 11.

Icelandic four-piece Sólstafir hit on a rarely attained balance of gorgeousness and melancholy, and while Ótta is expansive, it’s also gripping front to back and is the best execution of its style I’ve heard since Anathema‘s Alternative 4, which is not a comparison I make lightly. A challenging record, but satisfying in kind and universal in its expressiveness.

 

24. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

greenleaf-trails-and-passes

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed on April 25.

The follow-up to Greenleaf‘s stellar 2012 outing Nest of Vipers (review here) brought lineup changes and stripped away many of the textural elements of the band’s sound — guest appearances, arrangement flourishes — in order to get back to a classic heavy rock sound and translate better to the stage. With guitarist Tommi Holappa‘s songwriting ever at the core, it would be unfair to call the process anything but a success.

 

23. Earth, Primitive and Deadly

earth-primitive-and-deadly

Released by Southern Lord Recordings. Reviewed on Sept. 9.

Most of the headlines went to the fact that Primitive and Deadly had vocals, where the generally-instrumental Earth had avoided singers for 18 years prior, but even putting aside Mark Lanegan and Rabi Shabeen Qazi, whose performance on “From the Zodiacal Light” was the high point of the record, presented Earth‘s always progressive tensions in a rawer, heavier production, and was a joy for longtime fans.

 

22. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

ogre-the-last-neanderthal

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed on March 10.

Six years and one breakup later, Portland, Maine, doom trio Ogre returned with The Last Neanderthal, neither afraid to revel in Sabbathian traditionalism or rock out a more upbeat cut like opener “Nine Princes in Amber.” For bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham, guitarist Ross Markonish and drummer Will Broadbent, it was a welcome resurgence of pretense-free heavy riffs and grooves.

 

21. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum

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Released by Candlelight Records. Reviewed on Jan. 30.

Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would be the final outing from this lineup of UK doomers The Wounded Kings, whose guitarist/founder Steve Mills has now reunited with original vocalist George Birch, but Consolamentum was a hell of a closing statement anyway for this era of the band, showcasing their murky, increasingly progressive style still waiting for wider appreciation.

 

20. Floor, Oblation

floor-oblation

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed on April 22.

Wasn’t sure where to put Floor‘s reunion offering, Oblation, on this list at first, since I kind of fell off listening to it as the year went on, but I’ve gone back to it over the last couple weeks and it has held up to the revisit, whether it’s songs like the extended “Sign of Aeth” or shorter, catchy pummelers like “Rocinante” or “War Party.” Floor‘s 2002 self-titled holds an untouchable legacy in heavy rock, but I think the years will prove Oblation a worthy successor. Nobody knew what they had with Floor at the time either.

 

19. Druglord, Enter Venus

druglord-enter-venus

Released by STB Records. Reviewed on Feb. 14.

Little on 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here) or their 2010 demo (review here) prepared for the kind of assault that Druglord‘s Enter Venus brought to bear. Four stomp-laden slabs of tectonic crash and distortion, vocals buried under and calling up from the amp-bred fog. The Virginian trio were in and out on the 27-minute 12″ release, but had enough heavy for a record twice as long, and the tinges of darkened psychedelia made their songs like a lurking presence just on the edge of consciousness, a threat waiting to be unleashed.

 

18. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

ararat-cabalgata-hacia-la-luz

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed on April 4.

For the sheer variety of Ararat‘s third album in rockers like “Nicotina y Destrucción,” “El Hijo de Ignacio,” the experimentalism of “El Arca” and the piano-driven “Los Viajes” and the acoustic closer “Atalayah,” and the assured, flowing manner in which the Argentina trio pulled it all off, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz should be higher on this list than it is. Part of that might be my frustration at my apparent inability to buy a copy, but don’t let that take away from the quality of the material here, which is wonderfully chaotic, memorable and engaging, rushing in some places and stopping to weep in others.

 

17. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt

radio-moscow-magical-dirt

Released by Alive Naturalsound. Reviewed on May 29.

You won’t hear me deny that Radio Moscow‘s primary impact is as a live band, but their fifth album, Magical Dirt, managed to bring forth much of their psychedelic blues presence in “Death of a Queen,” “Before it Burns” and “Gypsy Fast Woman,” the blinding rhythmic turns and wah-soaked guitar supremacy of Parker Griggs front and center throughout. Together with bassist Anthony Meier (also Sacri Monti) and drummer Paul Marrone (also Astra and Psicomagia), Radio Moscow are hitting their stride as one of heavy rock’s most powerful power trios. One never knows what to expect, but hopefully they keep going the way they are.

 

16. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds

apostle-of-solitude-of-woe-and-wounds

Released by Cruz del Sur. Reviewed on Nov. 6.

Four years isn’t the longest time I’ve ever waited for a record to come out, but in the case of Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude, it felt like an especially long stretch. Their third full-length and first for Cruz del Sur, Of Woe and Wounds followed the anticipation-building Demo 2012 (review here) and a couple splits and brought aboard bassist Dan Dividson and guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay), who fit well with drummer Corey Webb and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown to result in a payoff worthy and indicative of the time that went into its making. Hands down one of the finest acts in American doom.

 

15. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean

stubb-cry-of-the-ocean

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed on Nov. 24.

Stubb‘s second long-player, also their debut on Ripple, gets a nod for the sense of progression it brought in answering the potential of the trio’s 2012 self-titled debut (review here), guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist Peter Holland and new drummer Tom Fyfe expanding the scope to include more heavy psych influence and soul along with the fuzz riffs and steady rolling while giving no ground in terms of the level of craft at work. Cry of the Ocean has become one of those albums where all I have to do is look at a title, be it “Cry of the Ocean Pt. I” or “Sail Forever” or “Heartbreaker,” and the song is immediately stuck in my head. With these tracks, that’s not at all a complaint.

 

14. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower

brant-bjork-and-the-low-desert-punk-band-black-power-flower

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on Nov. 10.

Brant Bjork has worn many hats, literal and figurative, over the years, whether it’s drummer in Kyuss or Fu Manchu, producer, solo artist or bandleader. With Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, he steps once again into the latter role, and with guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, presents not only on his heaviest record to date, but what could easily begin a sustainable full-band progression that can go just about anywhere his songwriting wants to take it. “Stokely up Now,” “That’s a Fact Jack,” “Controllers Denied” and “Boogie Woogie on Your Brain” made for some of 2014’s best in desert rock, and Black Power Flower was an stellar return for Bjork to his “solo” work.

 

13. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

dwellers-pagan-fruit

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed on May 22.

An earlier version of this list had Pagan Fruit at a lower number, but I couldn’t live with it not being closer to the top 10. Salt Lake City’s Dwellers pushed deeper into laid back psych and blues on their second album, and in doing so, crafted an atmosphere entirely their own. From “Creature Comfort” down to “Call of the Hollowed Horn,” with triumphs along the way like “Rare Eagle,” “Totem Crawler” (“Ohh, my queen… To whom, I crawl…) and “Son of Raven,” Pagan Fruit became a staple of my 2014, building off their 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here), but presenting their stylistic growth with a confidence and poise that can only come from a band who’ve figured out what they want to be doing and how they want to do it. Front to back, Pagan Fruit sounds like an arrival.

 

12. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

the-golden-grass-the-golden-grass

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed on March 25.

What made Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass‘ self-titled debut such a special released wasn’t just that it was heavy, or that the tracks were catchy, or that guitarist Michael Rafalowich and drummer Adam Kriney could harmonize over Joe Noval‘s warm-toned basslines. That was all great, don’t get me wrong, but what really stood out about The Golden Grass was its irony-free positivity, the way it was able to capture an upbeat, sunshiny feel without having to smirk about it on the other side of its mouth. It was self-aware, to be sure — knew what it was doing — but the way I see it, consciousness only makes the stylistic choices more impressive. Add to that the nuance they brought to ’70s revivalism, and all that stuff about catchiness and the harmonies, and there just wasn’t a level on which the album didn’t work.

 

11. The Well, Samsara

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Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed on Sept. 22.

My appreciation continues to grow for The Well‘s Samsara, which successfully pulled together influences from garage doom and heavy psychedelia while crafting an identity for the Austin, Texas, three-piece at once raw and melodically accomplished, guitarist Ian Graham and bassist Lisa Alley sharing vocals to classic effect on “Refuge” while otherwise trading off lead position to bolster variety in the material. The high point might’ve been the eight-minute “Eternal Well,” on which GrahamAlley and drummer Jason Sullivvan conjured some of their grooviest demons, but the hooks of “Mortal Bones,” “Trespass” and the attitude-laced “Dragon Snort” were no less engaging. One of many strong releases from their label this year — Slow SeasonThe Picturebooks, etc. — they seemed to come ready to serve notice of a stylistic movement underway.

 

10. Montibus Communitas, The Pilgrim to the Absolute

montibus-communitas-the-pilgrim-to-the-absolute

Released by Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Reviewed on Dec. 4.

Peruvian psych adventurers Montibus Communitas more or less blew my mind when I heard their late-2013 offering, Harvest Times earlier this year, and the narrative, conceptual 2014 release, The Pilgrim to the Absolute, is even more of an achievement in its portrayal of improvised exploration, sonic ritualism and open creativity. The weaving of longer pieces against shorter ones with the various steps along the path as presented in the titles, some journeying, some arriving, some descriptive, almost all accompanied by nature in one form or another, gives The Pilgrim to the Absolute an almost impressionistic quality, so that even as you listen to it, you engage it as much as it carries you along its vibrant, breathtaking progression en route to the closing title-track, which is a destination every bit worthy of the journey. This is the most recently reviewed inclusion on this list, but Montibus Communitas‘ latest readily earns its place in the top 10. It is unique in its surroundings.

 

9. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

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Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed on May 14.

Looking back at the last two Fu Manchu records, 2007’s We Must Obey and 2009’s Signs of Infinite Power, it seemed reasonable to expect the groundbreaking SoCal fuzz foursome to put out another collection of big-sounding riffs in a big-sounding production. Nothing to complain about, but probably not a landmark. By going the other way completely — stripping their buzzed-out riffing down to its punkish core thanks in no small part to recording with Moab‘s Andrew GiacumakisFu Manchu served up a raw reminder both of where they came from and how top notch their songwriting remains. Reissuing their earliest work and being on their own label might’ve had something to do with it, but whatever it was, the 35 minutes of Gigantoid was as efficient a heavy rock outing as one could hope from an already legendary band, whether it was the hook-prone opening salvo of “Dimension Shifter,” “Invaders on My Back,” “Anxiety Reducer” and “Radio Source Sagittarius” or the righteous ending jam “The Last Question.”

 

8. The Skull, For Those Which are Asleep

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Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed on Nov. 5.

Given the origins of The Skull — ex-Trouble members Eric Wagner, Jeff “Oly” Olson and Ron Holzner joining with Lothar Keller and a series of other guitarists, finally Matt Goldsborough, working essentially as a tribute band to their former outfit — I think not only did the quality of the material and performance on For Those Which are Asleep surprise, as well as the classically doomed feel that resonates throughout the album, but the sheer heartfelt nature of songs like “Sick of it All,” “Send Judas Down” and the title-track itself. This wasn’t a cynical attempt to make a go of an already set legacy. It was an expression of appreciation both for what they accomplished as Trouble and a desire to continue that work. The Skull‘s whole thing has been that they’re “more Trouble than Trouble,” and in their lineup that’s been true since they brought Olson on board. For Those Which are Asleep demonstrated that the classic spirit of that band is alive and well, its address has just changed. Moreover, it’s the beginning of a new progression for that spirit, and I hope it continues.

 

7. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

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Self-released on CD, LP on PATAC Records. Reviewed on March 24.

Nineteen years after releasing their self-titled debut, New York’s Blood Farmers contended for 2014’s comeback of the year with their sophomore outing, Headless Eyes — a morose, horror-obsessed six-track collection that on “Night of the Sorcerers” owed as much to Goblin as to Sabbath. The closing cover of David Hess‘ theme from The Last House on the Left, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” was a late bit of melodic flourish to add depth, but how could the highlight be anything other than the 10-minute title-track itself, with its samples from the 1971 horror flick The Headless Eyes, bassist Eli Brown in a call and response with lyrics comprised of lines directly taken from the movie? That after playing shows the last several years, Blood Farmers managed to get a record out was impressive enough. That Headless Eyes turned out to be the year’s best traditional doom release was an entirely different level of surprise. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for their third, but Brown, guitarist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Leger gave plenty to chew on with Blood Farmers‘ second. It was better than would’ve been fair to expect.

 

6. Lo-Pan, Colossus

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Released by Small Stone. Reviewed on Oct. 7.

A lot of what you need to know about Lo-Pan‘s fourth album you learn in the first five seconds of opener “Regulus.” There’s no fancy intro, no time wasted, nothing to take away from the directness of the song itself. Tones are crisp — the verse is already underway — and guitar, bass and drums are laser-focused in their forward movement. Even when vocalist Jeff Martin enters the song, roughly six seconds later, his arrival comes with no indulgence, no pomp. Colossus is easily Lo-Pan‘s most immediate work to date, and throughout, Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe (since replaced by Adrian Zambrano), bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz retain that focus no matter where the material takes them, delivering a clinic in how to kick as much ass as possible at any given moment on cuts like “Marathon Man” and “Eastern Seas,” or even bringing in guest vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, who also designed the album cover, for a spot on “Vox.” They had a hard task in following up 2011’s Salvador (review here), but the Columbus, Ohio, unit stood up to the challenge and met it and everyone else head-on.

 

5a. All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door

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Self-released. Reviewed on Sept. 25.

What to do with All Them Witches‘ Lightning at the Door? The Nashville four-piece released the album last fall digitally, but it wasn’t until this September that it saw a physical manifestation. In fact, if you go back, it was included on the Top 20 of 2013 as well. Which is the release date? I don’t know. What I know is that in terms of the sheer amount of time spent listening, I put on Lightning at the Door more than any other record this year. From where I sit, that alone gets it a place in the top five. Yeah, it might be a cop-out to do a “5a,” but sometimes exceptions have to be made, and All Them Witches have proved to be nothing if not exceptional in their still relatively brief, jam-laden history, the psych-blues dynamic between bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes specialist Allan van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler pushing them quickly to the fore of American heavy rock’s innovators, their natural, improv-sounding material feeling brazen and exploratory while reshaping the elements of genre to suit their needs. One can only see this dynamic developing further as they continue to grow as a live band, so Lightning at the Door may just be the start, and that’s perhaps most exciting of all.

 

5. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels

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Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed on Aug. 20.

A beautiful, stunning work made even more powerful by the honesty driving it. Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain completed a trilogy with the Billy Anderson-produced Mobile of Angels that brought about some of the best doom of this young decade, their 2011 return from a years-long hiatus, South of Salem (review here) serving as the foundation for a stylistic progression that continued on the following year’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and onto Mobile of Angels itself as the four-piece’s most accomplished album to date. The reason it feels like such a concluding chapter is because of the departure of vocalist Uta Plotkin, whose voice helped establish Witch Mountain both on stage and in the studio, leaving founders Rob Wrong (guitar) and Nathan Carson (drums) with the sizable task of finding a replacement. That situation will be what it will be, but Mobile of Angels remains a gorgeous, lonely testament. Plotkin gives a landmark performance on “Can’t Settle” and “The Shape Truth Takes,” which in the context of what was happening in Witch Mountain at the time ring with a truth that’s rare in or out of doom, and she seems to have left the band just as they were hitting their finest hour. So it goes.

 

4. Conan, Blood Eagle

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Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on Jan. 22.

In all of heavy, there is no assault so severe as Conan‘s. With their second full-length and debut on Napalm Records, the UK trio solidified the two sides of the preceding 2012 outing, Monnos (review here), in constructing material that, fast or slow, short or long, retained an epic feel melded with their ungodly tonality and memorable songwriting. Their first recording at guitarist/vocalist Jon DavisSkyhammer Studio, it affirmed Conan‘s will to conquer in its two massive bookends, “Crown of Talons” and “Altar of Grief,” and in the High on Fire-worthy gallop of “Foehammer” — a bludgeon commandingly wielded by Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil, the latter to of whom have since left the band to be replaced by longtime-producer Chris Fielding and Rich Lewis, respectively. What effect the changes might have on the band — except apparently more touring, which isn’t a bad thing — have yet to be seen, but Conan are already in the process of writing a follow-up to Blood Eagle, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be all that long until we find out. With Davis still steering the band in songwriting and overall direction, one severely doubts they’ll be fixing what obviously isn’t broken anytime soon. None heavier.

 

3. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

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Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed on June 18.

Dallas riff-rockers Wo Fat have grown steadily over the course of their five albums, from the nascent heavy roll of 2006’s The Gathering Dark, to the hooks of 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), the jamming that started to surface on 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) and was pushed further on 2012’s The Black Code (review here). And their approach has been as steady as the frequency of their releases. In making The Conjuring, the three-piece were simply engaging the next step in their progression, but the material on the five-track/48-minute outing goes further than just that. Putting aside (momentarily) the 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” the other cuts, “The Conjuring,” “Read the Omens,” “Pale Rider from the Ice” and “Beggar’s Bargain” each found a place for themselves in pulling together jammed-sounding elements with a memorable construction, and when guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter did kick into “Dreamwalker,” they hit on not only their longest piece yet, but their most accomplished showcase of the chemistry that has developed between them. That song is a beast unto itself, but as has been the case with Wo Fat each time out so far in their career, there’s nothing on The Conjuring to give the impression the band can’t or won’t continue to keep going on the path that’s worked so well for them on this point. They’ve spent the last eight years on the right track and have yet to waiver. The Conjuring should be played at top volume for anyone who contends there’s no life left in heavy rock and roll.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

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Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

Mars Red Sky‘s second LP and first for Listenable, Stranded in Arcadia was originally supposed to be recorded in the California desert, but visa problems kept the French trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz in Brazil, where they’d previously been touring. Thus, “stranded in Arcadia,” which is basically another way of saying “lost in paradise.” Can’t say the Bordeaux three-piece didn’t make the most of it, though. Songs like “The Light Beyond” and “Hovering Satellites” — not to mention the utter melodic bliss of “Join the Race” — took cues from their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) in terms of memorable songwriting and melodic craft, but added to that heft and tonal richness more of a psychedelic vibe, so that not only was there fuzz and wah, but a spacious world in which the songs took place. With Kinast on lead vocals, the sneaky boogie of “Holy Mondays” became a highlight, and the one-two swing ‘n’ stomp of “Circles” and “Seen a Ghost” were a perfect demonstration by the band of the various sides of their sound, particularly following after the dreamy instrumental “Arcadia,” an echoing jam distinguished by Pras‘ wistful guitar lead and coming before the closing “Beyond the Light,” which reprises the opener’s resonant unfolding. It probably wasn’t the record they intended to make, but Stranded in Arcadia became one of my go-to albums for 2014, and like the best of any given year’s output, I’ve no doubt it will transcend the passage of time and continue to deliver for years to come. Hell, I was barely done with the debut when this one came out.

 

1. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend

yob-clearing-the-path-to-ascend

Released by Neurot Recordings. Reviewed on Sept. 3.

“It’s time to wake up.”

Can’t imagine this is any great surprise. Not only did Clearing the Path to Ascend – YOB‘s seventh album and first for Neurot — produce my pick for song of the year in its sprawling, emotionally weighted 18-minute closer, “Marrow,” but in the three full-lengths the Eugene, Oregon, trio of drummer Travis Foster, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt have released since the latter reformed the band after breaking it up following 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived, all three have been my album of the year. The Great Cessation was in 2009, and Atma was in 2011. Consistency aside, I’ll point out specifically that each of the same three records has earned that position, perhaps Clearing the Path to Ascend most of all for its progressive feel, moving past genre even at its most raging moment, second cut “Nothing to Win,” the chorus of which proved that among everything else YOB could be, they could be anthemic. The cosmic, spiritual questing that has always been present in their songs, that feeling of searching, showed up in opener “In Our Blood,” but even there, it was evident YOB were pushing themselves beyond what they’ve done before, rewriting their own formulas incorporating lessons from their past in among their other points of inspiration. “Unmask the Spectre” could have easily been an album closer itself, with its patient exploration and feverishly intense payoff, but with the melodic progressivism of “Marrow” and the soul poured into every second of that track, every verse and chorus, solo and build — including the Hammond added to the last of them by producer Billy Barnett — YOB created a landmark both for themselves and the increasing many working under their influence. I’ve said on several occasions (bordering on “many” at this point) that YOB are a once-in-a-generation band, and it feels truer in thinking of Clearing the Path to Ascend than it ever has. Without a doubt, album of the year and then some.

 

 

Honorable Mention

First, special note to Colour Haze‘s To the Highest Gods We Know. I’ve decided to count it as a 2015 release since the vinyl will be out in Spring, but otherwise surely it would earn a place on this list. Blackwolfgoat‘s Drone Maintenance also deserves note.

A few other honorable mentions:

MothershipMothership II — It’s hard to argue with a classic heavy rock power trio kicking ass. I won’t try.

AlunahAwakening the Forest — Every time I make a list, no matter what kind of list it is, there’s a band I wind up kicking myself for forgetting about at the time. This is the case 100 percent with why Alunah aren’t in the Top 30. In fact, I might go in and swap them out with somebody.

Ice DragonSeeds from a Dying Garden — Boston experimental psych/garage doomers continue to defy expectation. May their weirdness last forever and continue to produce material so satisfying.

TruckfightersUniverse – I thought at some point I’d go back to Universe again, but never really did. A problem with me more than the album.

SteakSlab City — An impressive debut following two strong EPs.

GodfleshA World Lit Only by Fire — I never got a review copy, so I never reviewed it. Its name is here because I’m a fan of the band and glad they’re back.

ThouHeathen — Just recently purchased this and am only getting to know it, but a ridiculously strong album.

Corrosion of ConformityIX — Everybody who gets a boner whenever Pepper Keenan is mentioned in connection with this band has missed out. This record and the self-titled kick ass.

SpidergawdSpidergawd — Holy shit they’re over here! No they’re over there! No wait over here again! Oh my god I’ve just gone blind!

Monster MagnetMilking the Stars — I wasn’t sure what to do with this since technically it’s not a new album, mostly reworked songs from the last one. I still listened to it a ton though, whatever it is.

SlomaticsEstron — Another one I’m just getting to know, but am very much digging.

Electric WizardTime to Die — People seem to do this thing where Electric Wizard puts out a record, everyone slathers over it for a few months and then spends the next two years talking about how it sucked. I guess I’ll be on the ground floor with not having been that into Time to Die.

PallbearerFoundations of Burden — Had to put their name somewhere on this list or someone would burn my house down. Album of the year for many.

The list goes on: Monolord, Comet Control, Mammatus, Triptykon, Eyehategod, Fever Dog, Moab, Karma to Burn, Atavismo, Grifter, 1000mods, Megaton Leviathan, Wovenhand, Mr. Peter Hayden, Primordial, and many more.

Before I check out and go sit in a corner somewhere to try and rebuild brain power after this massive dump of a purge, I want to sincerely thank you for reading. If you check in regularly, or if you’ve never been to the site before, if you don’t give a crap about lists or if you’re gonna go listen to even one band on here, it’s fantastic to me. Thank you so much for all the support this site receives, for your comments, for sharing links, retweeting, whatever it is. I am a real person — I’m sitting on my couch at this very moment — and being able to do this and have people see it and be a part of it with me is unbelievable. I realize how fortunate I am. So thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

More to come as we close out 2014. I’ll have a list of short/split/demo releases, a year-end podcast, a list of the best debuts, a round up of the best live shows I saw, as much more as time allows. Please stay tuned.

And again, thank you. If I left anyone off the list, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments and contribute your own top albums, however many there are, to the Readers Poll.

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Lo-Pan Welcome New Guitarist Adrian Zambrano

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Following announcements that they’ll take part in next year’s Roadburn festival and the Desertfests in London and Berlin, Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan have made it official that Adrian Zambrano will take over the guitarist position previously occupied by Brian Fristoe. The word came quick and to the point from the band, who’ve spent much of the last five years touring hard on a steadily ascending line in terms of audience and their own approach, steadily becoming a wider known, tighter and more accomplished group. They haven’t done anything the easy way.

Zambrano comes to Lo-Pan via space rocking Columbus natives Brujas del Sol, whose airy tones and synth-heavy sound were last brought to bear on 2013’s Moonliner, on which Zambrano also handled vocal duties. No word yet on whether he’ll back up Lo-Pan‘s Jeff Martin singing, but there can be little question that the dynamic in Lo-Pan will shift with a new player introduced into what was one of the country’s highest-grade fuzz units. Regardless of how Zambrano fits in the band, it’s going to be a change. Lo-Pan‘s advantage at this point is that, if you’re a musician who wants to tour and go to Europe and play shows that people come to see, they’re in the process of making all those things happen.

And by the time next Spring rolls around and Lo-Pan head abroad for the first time, Zambrano will be that much more acclimated to being on stage with Martin, drummer Jesse Bartz and bassist Scott Thompson. Really, if they were going to bring someone in, this was the time to do it. Good luck to the band, to Zambrano, and to Fristoe as well.

Here’s the announcement and the Small Stone stream of their latest album, Colossus (review here), in case you haven’t yet had your ass kicked this morning:

lo-pan

Lo-Pan has parted ways with guitarist Brian Fristoe. We wish Brian all the best in his future endeavors. Taking over guitar duties is Adrian Zambrano of Columbus, Ohio. Adrian is a gifted, dynamic musician with an exciting style. Join us in welcoming Adrian to the party.

https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
https://twitter.com/LoPandemic614
https://www.facebook.com/BrujasdelSol
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/colossus

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

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Lo-Pan Join Lineup for Desertfest Berlin 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hot off the release of their fourth album, Colossus (review here), Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan have been announced as taking part in Desertfest Berlin 2015. The announcement follows a recent schism/split with guitarist Brian Fristoe, and since Lo-Pan are also slated to play Roadburn and have shows booked before then and will be touring Europe as well, one can’t help but wonder who’ll be handling guitar for them going forward. No word has come out yet in that regard, but I’ll let you know when I hear what’s up.

In the meantime, good for the band — who killed when they came through recently with Black Cobra – for getting over to Europe. Feels a little overdue for how hard they’ve slogged it out in the States, but better late than never, and I’m sure they’ll find open arms waiting for them at DesertfestRoadburn and wherever else they might wind up.

lo-pan desertfest berlin

Two-in-one news: first, we are pleased to tell you that fuzz rockers Lo-Pan join the SOL family and will be touring in April! Then, we are proud to add them to our DesertFest Berlin line-up! Stay tuned for more news!

We stoked to announce that fuzz rockers Lo-Pan are now confirmed to kick a good deal of ass at Desertfest Berlin 2015!

With “Colossus”, LO-PAN’s last album – released about a month ago on Small Stone Records – the Columbus’ four-piece have moved beyond their influences and arrived at their own sound – a “style built on aggression without caricature, fuzz without cliché, melody without redundancy and their meanest groove to date.” (The Obelisk)

Do not miss them! DESERTFEST TICKETS available on :
http://woolheads.com/cms/produkt-kategorie/festivalmerchandise/desertfestberlin/tickets-desertfestberlin/
(83€ + shipping)

DESERTFEST BERLIN #4 – APRIL 23th, 24th, 25th 2015
ASTRA KULTURHAUS / F-HAIN/X-BERG BERLIN (GER)

Red Fang + Orange Goblin + My Sleeping Karma + Brutus + Dopethrone + Lo-pan + Mountain Witch + many many more acts

www.desertfest.de
www.soundofliberation.com
https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/colossus

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

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Lo-Pan, Colossus: A Sharpened Edge

Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

lo-pan colossus

I’ll make no attempt to hide my appreciation for Ohio’s Lo-Pan, who over the last six years or so have emerged to take a place among the hardest-working American heavy rock bands out there, slogging back and forth across the country to deliver their fuzz one town, one venue at a time, but the fact of the matter is that if they didn’t have the songwriting to match their work ethic, they wouldn’t have come as far as they have. Plenty of bands tour, and even more bands kick ass. Lo-Pan distinguish themselves not only by what they do, but how they’ve done it and what they’ve gained from it. Since their 2007 sophomore outing, Sasquanaut, which was reissued as their first release on Small Stone in 2010 (review here), the four-piece of guitarist Brian Fristoe, vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz have essentially been grinding themselves down to their essential parts. If one examines the progression from their 2006 self-titled debut through Sasquanaut, the subsequent 2011 full-length Salvador (review here) and their latest, the newly arrived Colossus, the path cut across these records is pretty clear, Lo-Pan moving from a relatively upbeat stoner rock sound to something much more focused, leaner, meaner sounding. Colossus, which at 10 tracks/43 minutes shaves a song and three minutes off Salvador‘s runtime, is their most pointed work yet. Their road time has made them tighter than they’ve ever sounded, and an Andrew Schneider production helps play up a more aggressive feel overall. They are not laying back on Fristoe‘s riffs so much as propelling them forward at the listener, and while pace varies throughout, the overarching whole of Colossus – named in honor of the Colossus of Rhodes, marking a triumph, perhaps simply of the band having come out of the last several years intact — has a breakneck feel and urgency that comes through even more than it did on Salvador, which when this decade is over I’ve no doubt will go down among its best heavy rock albums.

There’s continuity of structure between the two, and Lo-Pan‘s penchant for hooks remains strong, but opener “Regulus” signals the immediacy of Colossus quickly, shifting from the first verse into the chorus all within the first 30 seconds. Like Salvador‘s “El Dorado,” “Regulus” begins an opening salvo of four songs that boasts some of the album’s strongest material, its five minutes gone in breeze and rushing into the tighter, faster “Land of the Blind,” which is marked by a standout performance from Martin in its hook. Lo-Pan‘s singer has never skimped on soul or attitude either on record or from behind the drum kit on stage, but Colossus easily stands as his best recorded output in the band, and the graceful but forceful layering in “Land of the Blind” is among his most effective called-shots here; I’d also add the later call-and-response of “Relo,” “Marathon Man” and the commanding sway of “Eastern Seas” to that list, but it’s true elsewhere as well. Likewise, Bartz, Thompson and Fristoe have stepped up their game, drums picking up the start of “Black Top Revelation” from the end of “Land of the Blind,” a winding riff taking hold as Colossus‘ momentum continues to build. To call the album front-loaded would presume a dip in quality, but no question Lo-Pan bring Colossus up to full speed before throttling back as they did on Salvador‘s “Bird of Prey” with the six-and-a-half-minute “Marathon Man,” which fittingly enough begins with a vehicle — presumably their tour van, but I don’t know that — revving its worn-sounding engine before Fristoe‘s shuffling riff takes hold and the band remind that though the focus has been on push up to now, they still know how to boogie. After four minutes in and satisfying verse/chorus tradeoffs, there’s a turn to a bridge instrumentally that Martin ties to the original chorus well, his layering once again providing a highlight moment with this revamped hook and a play off the initial verse part. Before you can catch up to what just happened with “Marathon Man,” though, Bartz launches “N.P.D.” with another forward surge that slams Colossus‘ first half to a raucous but still controlled finish.

lo-pan (Photo by Meghan Ralston)

If there were any doubts about Lo-Pan‘s confidence or the cohesiveness of their approach, let the knock-you-on-your-ass crispness within the delivery of “N.P.D.” be testimony in their favor. But for the fact that it closes side A, it feels like an afterthought movement following “Marathon Man,” and on most albums it would be an apex. The title-track begins the second half and is a song that Lo-Pan have played live for the last couple years — “Eastern Seas” still to come is another — sounding more reminiscent of the last time out than most of Colossus, though both Thompson‘s place in the mix and the fluidity of Martin‘s integration with the music behind him mark its progress. That’s not to mention Schneider‘s treatment of Bartz‘s snare; as a producer/engineer, the Brooklyn-based Schneider has consistently delivered excellence in drum sounds and Colossus is no exception. Side B feels thicker between “Colossus,” “Vox” and “Eastern Seas,” less of a thrust, but the hooks are still there, and “Vox” delivers in that regard both vocally and in its riff and crash, Martin‘s voice echoing in an open space and Black Black Black‘s Jason Alexander Byers (who also contributed the cover art) coming in for a guest spot later in the track. There’s a ringing sound I can’t quite make out that coincides with the drum roll at the start of “Eastern Seas,” but the song’s prevailing impression is in its more languid rhythm — its first part is the slowest in tempo but still mid-paced by most standards — and bigger groove, Martin still in whatever cave he recorded “Vox.” “Eastern Seas” splits almost evenly in half, everyone else dropping out as Fristoe‘s guitar establishes the riff and then kicking back in soon with a faster pace, vocals layered, Thompson getting a turn to stand alone as they push into a secondary hook and through to repetition of the line “Straight on till morning.” It feels like the end of the album, but isn’t. As “N.P.D.” jumped into action after “Marathon Man,” so does “Relo” punch into gear after “Eastern Seas,” though “Relo” is the more memorable of the two — “N.P.D.” and “Relo” share a 2:28 runtime, if you’d like another reason for the comparison — marked out by Fristoe‘s lead-as-rhythm in the verse and the aforementioned call and response near the end, the uptick in pace effective after “Eastern Seas”‘ slowdown in reinforcing the dynamic within Lo-Pan‘s sound at this point in their tenure.

Another likewise vague sample is inserted at the beginning of closer “The Duke,” which caps Colossus like a victory lap, underscoring much of what has made the album work — the meaner push, Martin‘s accomplished layering, the across-the-board energetic delivery, their attacking the beat — but is distinguished from the rest of the collection by the solo Fristoe takes beginning at 2:37, which comes to the head of the mix almost to the point of abrasiveness and wails over a steady rhythm from Bartz and Thompson, who return about a minute later with Martin to round out with a last hook and crashing end. That solo in particular seems to have been residing in Lo-Pan‘s pocket the whole time; in the context of Colossus as a whole, they seem to have saved it for last. And fair enough — it’s as raging a finish as Colossus in its entirety calls for. Perhaps because so much of the album moves, and moves fast, and shoves the listener along its course, and perhaps because four records deep, Lo-Pan show few signs of stagnating creatively, Colossus feels less like a destination than another point along the way. It’s their tightest, tensest outing, but in scrutinizing it on those terms, one can hear the potential for them to move further on the line of their progression, to continue to dig toward the heart of what it is they’re trying to convey. Still, it’s an album that changes who they are as a band and stands as their most refined, precise collection to date. It captures them at a different moment than did Salvador — one can see that even in the sharpened edges of the logo that appears on the album cover — but showcases a forward step in a pursuit that seems thus far unrelenting. I’ve said before that I consider them one of the finest currently active heavy rock acts in the US, and Colossus only strengthens that opinion.

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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Lo-Pan Premiere “Vox” from Colossus

Posted in audiObelisk on September 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

lo-pan (Photo by Meghan Ralston)

If you’re looking for Lo-Pan, they’re on tour. That’s where you’ll usually find the Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers. They’ve spent the better part of the last five years kicking up dirt across this fair land in pursuit of riffy glory, and the time and effort have paid off. Their new album, Colossus — their fourth overall and second for Small Stone Records – finds them a tighter and more efficient-sounding unit than they’ve ever been, and where their last full-length, 2011’s Salvador (review here), was a pinnacle for their songwriting’s blend of fluid groove, soulful vocals and memorable tracks, Colossus reaps the reward of all that touring in pushing Lo-Pan‘s methods even further.

So it’s a meaner, more precise Lo-Pan this time around — the band is still comprised of vocalist Jeff Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz – but they’re also branching out in terms of what their songs do. That will probably make no sense until you listen to “Vox” below. Lo-Pan have done big songs before, but “Vox” gives a spacious feeling in Martin‘s echoing voice that’s genuinely new for them — not to mention a guest spot near the end from Black Black Black‘s Jason Alexander Byers (also ex-Disengage) — and they blend it well with Fristoe‘s smooth-running riffs, Thompson‘s viscous but always moving basslines and the ever-raucous stomp from Bartz. In its hook, and in its subtle — and not so subtle — rhythmic shifts, “Vox” emphasizes a lot of the progression in Lo-Pan‘s approach, and less surprisingly, kicks a good deal of ass along the way.

Please find “Vox” on the player below, prepare yourself to spend the rest of the day listening to it on repeat, and enjoy:

Lo-Pan recorded Colossus with Andrew Schneider at Translator Audio in Brooklyn and will release the album Oct. 7 on Small Stone Records. Cover art is by Jason Alexander Byers. Lo-Pan have been on tour with Black Cobra since Aug. 28. Remaining dates for the run are as follows:

LO-PAN w/ Black Cobra:
9/04/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA
9/05/2014 Handlebar – Pensacola, FL
9/06/2014 Orpheum – Tampa, FL
9/07/2014 Gramps – Miami, FL
9/08/2014 Back Booth – Orlando, FL
9/09/2014 529 – Atlanta, GA
9/10/2014 The Mothlight – Asheville, NC
9/11/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC
9/12/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/13/2014 The Metro – Baltimore, MD
9/14/2014 Dusk – Providence, RI
9/15/2014 Nectars – Burlington, VT
9/16/2014 TT The Bears – Boston, MA
9/17/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
9/18/2014 Saint Vitus – New York, NY
9/19/2014 Lost Horizon – Syracuse, NY
9/20/2014 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY
9/21/2014 The Outpost – Kent, OH *
9/22/2014 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2014 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
9/24/2014 7th St Entry – Minneapolis, MN
9/26/2014 Replay – Lawrence, KS
9/27/2014 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO
9/28/2014 Burt’s Tiki Bar – Salt Lake City, UT
9/29/2014 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
9/30/2014 The Alley – Sparks, NV
10/01/2014 The Garage – Ventura, CA
10/02/2014 New Parish – Oakland, CA
10/04/2014 Downtown Lounge – Tulsa, OK *
*LO-PAN headlining date/No Black Cobra

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Colossus at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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Here’s a Bio I Wrote for Lo-Pan’s Colossus

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I gotta say, of the several band bios I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to write over the last couple years — for Neurosis, for Conan, for Wo Fat, etc. — the one below for Lo-Pan‘s upcoming fourth album, Colossus, was among the easiest. It required little flourish, as the band’s accomplishments since the release of 2011’s Salvador (review here) speak for themselves, and the record itself is so direct and driving, that to pepper the piece with a bunch of extra descriptors or grandiose language would immediately be overdoing it. And one doesn’t want to overdo it.

Last Friday evening, Lo-Pan announced they’d be supporting Black Cobra for a month on the road ahead of Colossus‘ Oct. 7 release on Small Stone, and you’ll find those dates under the bio below, which I’ll keep in PR wire blue even though it’s my byline, just for form’s sake:

Lo-Pan, Colossus bio:

Lo-Pan’s fourth album, Colossus, is named for the Colossus of Rhodes – a 96-foot statue constructed in 280 BC to mark a failed siege and the indomitable nature of the city of Rhodes itself. No surprise it’s the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece’s most personal album yet and a testament to their growth and survival, as a band and as human beings.

Three years on from their third record, Salvador, Lo-Pan have logged countless miles, crossing the country multiple times over on headlining tours and supporting the likes of Torche, High on Fire, KENmode, Whores, Fu Manchu and Weedeater. They’ve become one of the most ferocious live acts in American heavy rock, and Colossus stands tall to reap the rewards of their experience.

For the first time in nearly a decade together, Lo-Pan knew exactly what they wanted when they hit the studio. They’d road-tested songs like “Eastern Seas” and “Colossus” for over a year, and partnering with producer/engineer Andrew Schneider at his Translator Audio studio in Brooklyn just days after headlining Small Stone showcases in that city and Boston this March, they belted out songs that show just how much they’ve moved beyond their influences and arrived at their own sound – a style built on aggression without caricature, fuzz without cliché, melody without redundancy and their meanest groove to date.

Completed with a cover courtesy of Jason Alexander Byers (ex-Disengage, Black Black Black), Colossus will be supported by numerous tours including a full US stint this fall alongside fellow road dogs Black Cobra and much more to come. Like its namesake, Colossus was built in defiance of gods and men, and while Lo-Pan’s loudest statement has always been made on stage, the material they craft and the power with which they execute it on this album is bound to stand for years to come.

BLACK COBRA US Tour w/ Lo Pan:
8/28/2014 Club Red – Phoenix, AZ
8/29/2014 Sister – Albuquerque, NM
8/30/2014 Conservatory – Oklahoma City, OK
8/31/2014 Doublewide – Dallas, TX
9/02/2014 Red 7 – Austin, TX
9/03/2014 Fitzgeralds – Houston, TX
9/04/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA
9/05/2014 Handlebar – Pensacola, FL
9/06/2014 Orpheum – Tampa, FL
9/07/2014 Gramps – Miami, FL
9/08/2014 Back Booth – Orlando, FL
9/09/2014 529 – Atlanta, GA
9/10/2014 The Mothlight – Asheville, NC
9/11/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC
9/12/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/13/2014 The Pinch – Washington, DC
9/14/2014 Dusk – Providence, RI
9/15/2014 Nectars – Burlington, VT
9/16/2014 TT The Bears – Boston, MA
9/17/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
9/18/2014 Saint Vitus – New York, NY
9/19/2014 Lost Horizon – Syracuse, NY
9/20/2014 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY
9/22/2014 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2014 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
9/24/2014 7th St Entry – Minneapolis, MN
9/26/2014 Replay – Lawrence, KS
9/27/2014 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO
9/28/2014 Burt’s Tiki Bar – Salt Lake City, UT
9/29/2014 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
10/01/2014 The Garage – Ventura, CA
10/02/2014 New Parish – Oakland, CA

https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
http://smallstone.com/

Lo-Pan, “Eastern Seas” Live at Ralph’s Diner

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan Live in Columbus, Ohio, April 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve spent probably an inordinate amount of time these last couple months living vicariously through YouTube clips of the Spirit Caravan reunion. I didn’t get to see the reformed trio during their US run — I expect if they do more dates, I’ll travel to wherever they happen to be that’s closest, be it Rhode Island or New York or wherever — and they’re on the road now in Europe, having first gone over to perform at Desertfest in London and Berlin before starting the US tour with Pilgrim opening, so maybe they’ll come back and do more, maybe not. I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic about it.

In the meantime, there’s no shortage of video documentation of the US tour to wade through. This week’s Wino Wednesday clip was recorded video and audio by Michael “Lucifer Burns” Lindenauer, and it’s the full Spirit Caravan set, more than an hour long, from Columbus, Ohio, at Skully’s Music Diner, from April 9. Pretty much any classic you could ask for — from “Fang” to “Cosmic Artifact” to “Brainwashed” — they’re all in there, and the three-piece of Wino, bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Henry Vasquez were air tight by then, just six days before the tour wrapped at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn.

Spirit Caravan play this weekend at Hellfest in Clisson, France. On Sunday, June 22, they play The Valley stage with Unida and a slew of enviable others. I’m sure I’ll be looking out for video of that too when the time comes. Until then, and without knowing how long the Spirit Caravan reunion is going to go, if it’s going to result in a new batch of songs or just sort of wrap up and dissipate, I’m glad to have videos like this one to tide me over. Hope you enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, Full Set at Skully’s Music Diner, Columbus, Ohio, April 9, 2014

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Lo-Pan to Start Recording Next Month; Touring Starts March 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The three years since Lo-Pan released their landmark third album, Salvador (review here), have gone quick, but more importantly, they’ve gone. Ohio’s heavy fuzz four-piece have done no shortage of touring since that record came out (also before), but the time has come for them to get back in the studio, which they’re slated to do next month to record what’s already been dubbed Colossus for a release later this year on Small Stone. True to form, they’re hitting the road for one last go beforehand, turning the two nights of Small Stone‘s Boston and Brooklyn showcases into a 10-date run to honor their newfound alliance with Tone Deaf Touring.

They’re partnered with Whores for that stint, which starts on March 20, and expect more on the release of Colossus in the months to come. Until then:

LO-PAN: Ohio Riff Rock Perpetrators Enter Studio Next Month; Band Unites With Tone Deaf Touring – Live Takeovers Announced

Ohio riff rock perpetrators LO-PAN, will enter Translator Audio in Brooklyn, New York next month to record their forthcoming new full-length for amplification station, Small Stone Recordings. Titled Colossus, the offering will be mixed and mastered by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, The Brought Low, Keelhaul) with art direction by Jason Alexander Byers (Black Black Black, Disengage). A Fall release is expected.

In related news, LO-PAN recently joined forces with the roadburning heavyweights at Tone Deaf Touring (Corrosion Of Conformity, Weedeater, ASG) and will embark upon a short stint of live abrasions later this month alongside manic noiserockers, Whores. The ten-date motorcade will include two special Small Stone Showcases in Cambridge and Brooklyn. The following month, the band will join reunited iconic stoner rock sorcerers, Spirit Caravan, and the wicked doom bringers in Pilgrim for a performance in Columbus with additional bouts of onstage debauchery to be announced in the coming months.

LO-PAN Spring Takeover 2014:
3/20/2014 The Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI w/ Whores
3/21/2014 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL w/ Whores
3/22/2014 Ruby’s – Columbus, OH Ruby’s w/ Fuck You Pay Me, White Wolves
3/23/2014 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH w/ Whores, Fuck You Pay Me
3/24/2014 The Union – Athens, OH w/ Whores, Horseburner
3/25/2014 Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Whores
3/26/2014 The Depot – York, PA w/ Neon Warship, Black Cowgirl, Witch Hazel
3/27/2014 The M Room – Philadelphia, PA w/ Neon Warship, Skeleton Hands
3/28/2014 Small Stone Showcase @ Middle East – Cambridge, MA w/ Roadsaw, Mellow Bravo, Gozu, Neon Warship
3/29/2014 Small Stone Showcase @ Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY w/ Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw, Neon Warship, Geezer
4/09/2014 Skully’s – Columbus, OH w/ Spirit Caravan, Pilgrim
4/17/2014 Pinned 4 – Columbus, OH w/ Neon Warship, Ride To Ruin, Beggers

Check out the revamped lopandemic.com website for show updates, new merch and other LO-PAN-centric awesomeness.

http://lopandemic.com
http://smallstone.com

Lo-Pan, “Colossus” Live in Portland, OR, Dec. 15, 2012

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jeff Martin of Lo-Pan

Posted in Questionnaire on December 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan have been among the underground’s hardest touring bands for the last several years. In 2011, they reissued their 2009 sophomore outing, Sasquanaut (review here), through Small Stone, and followed it with Salvador (review here), a progressive and soulful look at the shape of riff to come. Last Fall, touring alongside High on Fire and Goatwhore showed increasing profile in the public eye for the four-piece, and stints alongside Torche and Weedeater have continued their momentum in 2013. Though he’s generally found positioned behind drummer Jesse Bartz on stage, vocalist Jeff Martin‘s powerful voice has been essential in pushing Lo-Pan beyond the confines of genre.

Last weekend, the band’s practice space in Columbus was robbed and they, among many others, lost gear in the burglary (info here). Prior to that, Martin answered The Obelisk Questionnaire as follows:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jeff Martin

How did you come to do what you do?

I often wonder that myself. If someone told me at 17 that this would be where I was at nearly 35, I wouldn’t have believed them. I look back and I wonder how it all happened, sometimes. I met this person who introduced me to this person who left me and another person came into my life and whamo… Here I am. Life flies by and you sometimes just have to marvel at it later.

Describe your first musical memory.

My mother was a music teacher and choir director when I was growing up, so music was just always around during my childhood. She gave piano lessons and voice lessons at our house, so the halls were always filled with the sound. Probably my earliest memory would be my mom singing me to sleep. In particular I recall that she would sing “O’ Danny Boy” to me while sitting on the edge of my bed. It always did the trick. My mom has a beautiful singing voice.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

The high point thus far would have to be December 22, 2012. My band played in San Francisco at Slim’s with High on Fire and Goatwhore. It was the end of a 45 day tour for us and it was a sold-out show in one of the best clubs in the country. We played really well for a packed house and it just felt fantastic. That was a special night.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

When I was in high school I believed that the government had the best interest of its citizens at heart. Does that answer your question?

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I suppose it depends on the person. With someone like David Bowie I would imagine it leads to free expression and artistic respect that puts him in the upper echelon of musicians that have ever walked the earth. For someone like me it can lead to despair and total frustration. Progression does not always denote growth. Serial killers progress and their crimes become even more horrid. Artistic progression can lead to unfocused blather if it isn’t tempered by rational argument at some point of the process.

How do you define success?

If you attempt something and it goes as you hoped… that’s success. In any field, any size project. Did you accomplish your goals? Yes? Then you are successful. There are many rungs on that ladder, though. Incremental success is something most people have to come to terms with. Measured success, as opposed to complete success must sometimes be enough.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

One time I came in contact with a musician that I have idolized for many years and he was a total mess. It was gross. He was rude and awful. It changed my opinion of him and of his music. A total bummer.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I would like to learn more tools and fabrication of different materials. I would like to have a talent for building furniture, or other items.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to finishing and actually performing a comedy routine that I have been working on for some time.

Lo-Pan, “Chichen Itza” official video

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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EYE, Second Sight: Into Beyond

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Birthed in a not-at-all cosmic reality known as Columbus, Ohio, the four-piece space rock outfit EYE nonetheless execute their sound with classical majesty on their sophomore full-length, Second Sight. Their first outing, 2011’s Center of the Sun (discussed here and here), was gorgeous enough to get the attention of Kemado Records, who issued it on vinyl in 2012, and the still-quick follow-up comes preceded by a 7″ single (discussed here) and a live tape (review here). Clearly, EYE – who also self-recorded the new long-player — aren’t ones for sitting still, and that sense of movement extends to the music on Second Sight as well, beginning in the gong hits and synth waves that patiently establish the psychedelic course of 21-minute opener “Lost are the Years.” Here EYE begin to unfold not just the first side, but the LP as a whole, and though it’s only been about a year and a half since Center of the Sun was released, the sense is that something ancient has awakened. There is a near-immediate sense of texture to “Lost are the Years,” also the longest track on the 45-minute outing (bonus points), and that comes in large part from the wash of Moog and analog synth effects created by Adam Smith. Guitarist/vocalist Matt Auxier has no shortage of effects on his guitar either, and even drummer Brandon Smith gets in on the ambience with chimes, congas, the aforementioned gong and other percussion in addition to regular old rock drums, so while bassist Matt Bailey would seem to be the one charged with holding the five tracks of Second Sight together, actually it works out more that the four-piece never really lose control. As spaced-out as they go — and they go plenty spaced out — the record keeps a mood that’s calm-ing if not calm-ed, and when they want to, EYE drift with futuristic efficiency into atmospherics that even the first record only seemed to hint at, a song like “Wooden Nickels” retaining some human element through harmonized vocals from Auxier and both Smiths.

Vocals are never really the complete focal point (Amy Michelle Hoffman and Anthony Jacobs contribute as well), but they’re gorgeous anyway and make the band that much richer and more lush-sounding. It is nearly five minutes of build-up before they arrive over bass and acoustic guitar on “Lost are the Years,” signaling the start of the song’s peaceful second movement. Tension is minimal, melody is rampant, and EYE are immediately the masters of the universe they’re exploring. Auxier takes a bluesy, echoing solo over acoustic strum and Bailey‘s bassline, and Adam keeps the texture varied while Brandon seems to rest until about the seven-minute mark a fill leads to the next progression, a more upbeat, distorted and somewhat foreboding swirl. The vocals are deeper in the mix, part of that swirl, not above it, and the swaying riff that backs the subsequent guitar solo calls to mind some of Hypnos 69‘s more recent progressive triumphs. The course of “Lost are the Years” is winding as the third movement builds to a crashing finish and the acoustic strum of the second movement returns, backed by subtle percussion and bathed in mellotron sunshine. It is even more graceful in its Floydian sprawl than when it first appeared, and it shifts fluidly into more exploratory acoustic guitars, a thunder sample signaling the change impending before a full stop brings back the heavier swirl, all channels full and vibrant as they transition into a shuffle led by Brandon‘s drums and soon joined by Adam‘s keys, rising, cresting and receding. They’ve departed the back and forth of one part to another that they’d previously established in favor of an extended jam, the guitars, bass, drums and keys all serving to further the atmosphere, layers of lead and rhythm guitars coming forward for a King Crimson-style push after 16 minutes in even as Auxier is in mid-rip on another solo. A series of hits ensues and backed by a jazzy snare roll, the guitars lead down a psych rock rabbit hole, ending up in a winding line that brings a return of vocals and precedes the key-driven push into the final payoff. It would need to be sizable to answer for all the twists and turns of “Lost are the Years” so far, and it is, but not necessarily any more grandiose than is warranted. Guitar is still are the fore, trading off lead lines and heavy riffing, and they cap with a return to the hits that led the way into the last movement, ending a song that, if you try to consciously keep pace with each of its changes, you’re going to wind up exhausted in the best way possible.

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Lo-Pan, Deadsea, Brujas del Sol & Others’ Practice Space Robbed

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Though in the past I’ve advocated its use in everything from cases of sexual assault to murder to someone cutting me off in traffic, I don’t actually believe in the death penalty. Among the strongest arguments in capital punishment’s favor, however, are people who steal from bands. Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve said it. Steal from corporations. They have money, and the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of shit like the below is nothing to them. To take equipment from people who actually either broke their asses playing out to earn the money to buy it or who balance a dayjob existence with their insatiable need to create something is fucking disgusting. I hope when the cops find whoever did this, they’ve been hit by a bus.

Along with a slew of others robbed early this past Saturday morning in a Columbus, Ohio, rehearsal space, Lo-Pan lost equipment and sent out the following updates via Thee Facebook. Goes without saying that if you’re in that part of the world and you see any of this stuff, do whatever you can to help the bands get it back.

Bummer note to start a week on, but imagine how the bands feel:

Our hearts go out to friends from Brujas Del Sol, Ride to Ruin, Fevernest/Struck By Lightening, Prosanctus Inferi, and others that had gear stolen in the break-in at our rehearsal facility. We also lost items but our lost gear pales in comparison to that of some others.

Be on the lookout for lists of stolen gear from these bands and others and let’s try to help them find their stuff. Mostly lots of guitars were taken and a couple of larger items.

Stealing a bands gear is one of the most low-bottom things you can do. Don’t do that. Just don’t.

A big thank to everyone for the outpouring of interest following the theft of our rehearsal space Friday night/Saturday morning. We had over 240 shares of our status with the gear list in 15 hours…that is amazing. Word has spread far and wide and we thank all of our friends for your assistance.

Let’s keep up the good work and get this equipment back where it belongs. The police are working hard and progress is happening. You may not see specifics regarding leads or suspects in the interest of preserving the investigation but rest assured that work is being done.

Special thanks to the amazing Columbus Arts Community, which has come together in a manor seldom seen. Respect.

Here is an up to date list of all things taken from our rehearsal space last night. PLEASE REPOST THIS EVERYWHERE.

A. Yakuza Heart Attack
Brat Curse – white Japanese Fender Mustang
B. Struck By Lightning/ Earthburner/
200? Gibson Les Paul Custom – Black w/ Gold hardware Lace drop and gain pick ups installed. Dimarzio strap locks. Oversized string gauge set up.
1978 Gibson RD Artist – Vintage Burst w/ Gold hardware Lace drop and gain pick ups installed Chris Krump engraved on the trus rod cover Schaller strap locks Oversized string gauge set up.
60th Anniversary eddition American Fender Telecaster – Tri Burst w/ Black pick guard. Oversized string gauge set up.
Jackson Rhodes – Black. String through body.
1979 Gibson G3 Bass Guitar – Vintage Burst. Missing bridge cover. Oversized string gauge set up.
200? Gibson Les Paul Studio – Black w/ Gold hardware. Neck repair. Dimarzio strap locks.
200? Gibson SG Special – Ebony w/ Chrome hardware. Dimarzio x2n bridge pick up. Dimarzio Air Norton neck pick up. Dimarzio strap locks.
198? Peavy Dyna Bass Guitar – Black Dimarzio strap locks.
Mexican Fender P Bass – Black w/ Black pick guard. EMG active pick ups. Chip on top horn. Dimarzio strap locks.
2 198? Peavy Mark IV Bass Amps. Electrical tape on the front.
Roadrunner RRMBGABS Molded bass guitar case – Black. Monster cables and Mogami cables inside.

C. Bummers/Tight Bros
Fender Telecaster (made in mexico, 3 saddle bridge, brown sunburst with paint chipped off the entire back)
Fender Stratocaster Standard (made in Mexico, black with white pickguard, large amount of sticker residue on body)

D. Lo-Pan
1 off brand custom stratocaster in case…pieced together not really traceable
2 – JBL PA towers 2×15
1- Shure SM 57

E. Brujas del Sol
2002-4 LAKE PLACID BLUE (white pickguard) crafted in japan Fender Jaguar
2009/10 TWO TONE SUNBURST (black pickguard) American Special Fender Stratocaster
2003/04 ALL BLACK Made in Mexico Telecaster
2002-5 Ibanez Omar Rodriguez Pro Model. White with Red tortoise guard.
1988/89 MIJ White Jazz Bass
Warmoth Custom P/Jazz Bass Surf green/Black pickguard. (one of a kind)
2012 Fender Pawn shop Bass XI. Black. Tortoise guard.

F. Magnumb Opus
Fender Deluxe Reverb 1×12 22W Amp (serial on request) – black casing with silver face
A second Fender Deluxe Reverb 1X12X22W Amp (serial on request)
(Bypass switch is missing on this amp on the back panel)
Ibanez AF 55 Art Core Hollow Body Guitar Red – Valued at 450.00

G. Little Professors
1 Fender Deluxe Jazz Bass(most likely Mexican made) Cream body w/ Tortoise pick guard
1 Maroon Hollow body Silvertone Guitar
1959 Danelectro Reissue guitar, black body w/ white pickguard

H. Smoking Guns/Matt Monta
untouched

I. Weight of Whales
Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe
Fender Frontman 212R with a bunch of local stickers on top
Behringer XENYX X1622USB USB Mixer with Effects
Dell Inspiron XPS Laptop
Ibanez 1977 Acoustic Guitar
Wood Fender Ukulele
Black Rogue Mandolin
Black Mexican Fender Stratocaster

J. ROEVY
Pioneer DJM 900 Nexus
Odyssey Black Flight Case

K. RIde to Ruin
Black Gibson Les Paul with three pickups (two gold and one pearl) in an epiphany hardshell case with lots of stickers
White 60’s Gibson Melody maker with a neck repair, one hum bucker in the bridge and one single coil in the neck in a gibson hardshell case (the serial number is painted over)
Green Lotus double cutaway with two humbuckers in a heavy duty flight case with a billy preston stencil on it
Black Epiphone Les Paul with two pickups and very heavy gauge strings in a soft-shell case.
Black Samic Strat copy in soft shell case

L. Deadsea
Modulus Quantum 5 5-string bass with graphite neck- dark green/black (serial number available upon request)
Ibanez Professional Model 2681 blonde guitar with pearl inlay on body and neck (serial number available upon request)
B.C Rich NJ Warbest Deluxe
Ibanez Xiphos XPT700

https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic

Lo-Pan, Live at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3, Brooklyn, July 27, 2013

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Lo-Pan Interview with Jesse Bartz: Living a Good Time Fast

Posted in Features on July 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This Saturday, Lo-Pan will take the stage as headliners at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn, New York. Sharing the bill with the stalwart Ohio road dogs is a litany of heavy rockers worthy of repute, some labelmates on Small Stone, others up and comers playing with a similarly fuzzed, riff-minded style. All told, The Acheron plays host to one of the sickest lineups of the year on July 27, with Lo-Pan at the top alongside Gozu, Supermachine, Black Black Black, BorrachoWizard Eye, Lord Fowl, Geezer and Wasted Theory, whose own drummer, Brendan Burns (interview here), is responsible for booking the fest.

The Stoned Goat gig comes as the latest in a series of righteous happenings for Lo-Pan, whose considerable touring is beginning to pay off with — what else? — more touring. Making their way into Brooklyn as the final in a set of four dates with Gozu, Lo-Pan have been using July as a vehicle for long weekenders, first with Indianapolis-based rockers Devil to Pay, then a handful of shows including last weekend at StaVentfest in Pennsylvania with D.C.’s Borracho — also playing in Brooklyn — following a couple weeks off after spending the first half of June on tour with Torche and KENmode. All this is ostensibly to support a vinyl reissue through Small Stone of Lo-Pan‘s landmark 2009 sophomore outing, Sasquanaut, which also got a CD revisit in 2011 (review here), but really, it’s just Lo-Pan continuing to do what they do best, and that’s hand-deliver some of the finest fuzz being produced in the US, or anywhere else for that matter.

Since this is all going down even as the band continues to write and road test new material for a follow-up to 2011’s will-still-put-you-on-your-ass-two-years-later third album, Salvador (review here), it seemed to me a prime time to get on the phone with drummer Jesse Bartz (not for the first time) for a brief check-in about the band’s latest doings, how they see the effort and time they’ve put in starting to result in shows  like those with Torche or with High on Fire last fall, the timing on when they’ll look to put the next record to tape, and much more. Bartz – joined in the band by guitarist Brian Fristoe, vocalist Jeff Martin and bassist Scott Thompson — was forthcoming and realistic as ever about the work Lo-Pan has done to this point and the work they still have ahead of them.

So, with The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 this weekend, a tour with Weedeater next month, the Sasquanaut vinyl out now and their focus geared toward a European tour in support of their next album in 2014, you’ll find my quick Q&A with Jesse Bartz after the jump.

Please enjoy:

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Jeff Martin’s Lo-Pan Tour Diary — July 6 & 7

Posted in Features on July 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Lo-Pan‘s touring adventures continue. In our last installment, the Ohio heavy rock four-piece stomped their way through Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago, and having covered that ground, this time around they’ve moved on to Madison, Wisconsin, and Indianapolis on their tour with Indy-based Devil to Pay.

Please enjoy, and note that the lead photo here was taken by Devil to Pay‘s own Steve Jankiak:

July 6th and 7th — “Eat a Sandwich”

Did you know Otis Redding was from Madison, Wisconsin? Well, he was. So was Chris Farley. This auspicious town was the locale for our next tour adventure.

We woke up early in Chicago in order to get to Madison by the early afternoon. About a year ago a friend of ours took us to this amazing deli in Madison and hooked us up on some great sandwiches so we always like to revisit that spot when we are in town. Hospitality on tour is like a full tank of gas, or a clean load of laundry — it kind of sets everything back to zero and allows you to start fresh. In my experience, when you go on tour you start out with a plan. I’ve got so many so-and-so’s for so many days and this do-hickey goes in this pocket and that’s where it will be forever. Well, after about eight days, things start to become a little less concrete. Pockets of things change. Things break or get lost. You get hot and tired and you just plain stop caring about those things. After around 15 days you start to degrade into an animal state of instinct and muscle memory. 30 days in, you don’t even remember what home feels like. 40 days and wherever you are is your home. Then, when you go home, it takes a while to adjust. All of this is to illustrate that when you find hospitality — a welcome smile, a great plate of food, a person who lets you enter their home and use it as your own for a little while — all of these things serve to reset the dials, and get you centered to carry on. Madison is such a place for us because it is home to some very hospitable and kind people. It’s one of those places that when you are a few days away you start to hear the mantra, “If we can just make it to Madison, everything will be ok.” So we made it to Madison, our Midwest oasis.

The show was at a bar called Mr. Roberts. We had never played there before so we didn’t know what to expect. We were set to play with a band called The Garza. They are a three piece featuring our friend Nate Bush on bass. We made Nate’s acquaintance a couple of years ago when he was playing bass for Madison band Droids Attack. In addition, the drummer for The Garza [Mike “Magma” Henry] is also in Bongzilla. Hopefully for your sake, Bongzilla need no introduction. The last time we played in Madison was on tour with High on Fire. The show that time was at High Noon Saloon. This was certainly a different situation, but we did see quite a few people at this show that remembered us from the last show. It’s good to see that our travels and work are paying off.

Devil to Pay started off the evening with a killer set. DTP are one of those bands that seem to nail their recorded sound in a live setting, and do it with ease. We played second out of three bands and we decided to change up our set tonight. We were playing Sasquanaut start to finish but on the drive to Madison we decided we would rather play our newer material and that people would just have to deal with it. Whatever! We do what we want! The Garza closed out the night and after some drinks and laughs we packed up and headed to our accommodations for the evening.

Brian is a friend of ours and he owns a tattoo shop in Madison. He let us stay in his posh tattoo studio for the evening. I had an honest-to-goodness couch to sleep on. Jesse slept on his air mattress and Fristoe took up residence on an amazingly adjustable tattoo chair. Skot, however decided to sleep on the floor despite the availability of other tattoo chairs. Skot Thompson is a floor-sleeping sumbitch. He loves it. Got a hardwood, concrete, or tile floor? Skot will sleep on it. Got a dining room table? Skot will sleep under it. And he will sleep well.

We woke up around 9:30AM and tattoo Brian came to take us to breakfast. Nice guy, that Brian. We said our goodbyes and headed off towards Indianapolis.

Indianapolis, Indiana. Indy’s Jukebox Live. Devil to Pay is from Indianapolis. Do you know what else is from Indianapolis? I’m asking because I don’t know. Or maybe I just don’t care. If you have ever driven through Indiana, then you know what a wholly depressing place it can be. Unless you are into extremely flat, corn covered vistas, there is not much outside of DTP to lure you to the Hoosier State. Actually, President William Henry Harrison was from there. I stand corrected.

On the bill for this show were Death Trap and Stealing Volume. Death Trap seemed to be having some technical difficulties during their set. They got off to a rocky start but finally got it dialed in towards the end. It sucks when you are just trying to play some music but you end up wrestling your gear into submission the whole time instead. Stealing Volume was a surprise to me. They had a punchy punk sound and they were very tight. Really good stage presence and delivery. I liked Stealing Volume very much. We played what felt like a good set to a sparse but engrossed audience and Devil to Pay headlined for the home town. After the show we packed up rather quickly and headed for home. Real life loomed large on the horizon, at least for a few days until we pick back up with the DTP boys in Detroit.

Until then…

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Limited Edition Lo-Pan Sasquanaut Vinyl Now Available; Tour Starts this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week, Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan kick off a round of tour dates with Devil to Pay that will begin roughly a month and a half of gigs. Before they even get to that, however, the foursome are marking the first time that 2009’s Sasquanaut – a classic of modern heavy rock if e’er there was one — is released on vinyl.

Previously issued through Small Stone in remixed/remastered fashion in 2011 on CD, Sasquanaut makes its debut on LP today, July 2, in a variety of colors and in a limited edition first 100 copies that come with a signed poster and much more.

Here’s the latest on all of the above:

LIMITED EDITION 180gr VINYL – Deluxe Version – First 100 Only!

Small Stone Records is proud to announce the release of Lo-Pan’s highly acclaimed album “Sasquanaut” for the first time on limited edition 180g vinyl. Remastered for vinyl release, this limited edition LP will be available for pre-order July 2, 2013. The release will be available in five distinct color variations (silver, solid light green, translucent red, translucent green, and classic black). Additionally, each copy of the LP release will come with a download card, redeemable for a digital copy of the album.

Get it while you can. Sasquanaut finally on vinyl. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Help us out. Tell anyone you think might be interested. We are trying to sell 100 of these today!

180 gram vinyl, deluxe jacket and poly-lined sleeves. Limited to 100 Black, 100 Trans Red, 100 Light Green, 100 Silver, 100 Trans Green.

This package includes:
– you choice of color variation
– 12” x 18.7” full color poster signed by the band
– limited edition patch
– lo-pan sticker

Vinyl track listing:

Side Alpha:
Dragline
Savage Henry
Kurtz
Callahan

Side Beta:
Kramer
Vega
Wade Garrett

Catch Lo-Pan live at the following upcoming tour stops:
Jul 4, 2013 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s w/ Devil To Pay, Neon Warship
Jul 5, 2013 Chicago, IL Cobra Lounge w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 6, 2013. Madison, WI Mr. Roberts w/ Devil To Pay, The Garza
Jul 7, 2013 Indianapolis, IN Indy’s Jukebox w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 11, 2013 Detroit, MI PJ’s Lager House w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 12, 2013 Cleveland, OH The Temple w/ Devil To Pay, Venomin James
Jul 13, 2013. Columbus, OH Kobo w/ Devil To Pay, Barely Eagle, the Girls!
Jul 18, 2013 Pittsburgh, PA Howler’s w/ Borracho, Sistered, Supervoid
Jul 19, 2013 Washington DC Rock N Roll Hotel w/ Borracho, Kingsnake, King Giant
Jul 20, 2013 Stroudsburgh, PA The Sherman Theater w/ Borracho, Kingsnake
Jul 21, 2013 York, PA The Depot w/ Borracho
Jul 24, 2013 Worcester, MA Ralph’s Rock Diner w/ Gozu, Birch Hill Dam
Jul 25, 2013 Manchester, NH The Shaskeen Pub w/Gozu, Birch Hill Dam
Jul 26, 2013 Boston, MA O’Brien’s w/Gozu, Black Thai
Jul 27, 2013 Brooklyn, NY The Acheron *The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 w/Gozu, Supermachine, Black Black Black, Borracho, Wizard Eye, Lord Fowl, Geezer, Wasted Theory
Aug 01 2013 Chicago, IL Ultra Lounge w/Weedeater
Aug 03 2013 Nashville, TN Exit/In w/Weedeater
Aug 04 2013 Johnson City, TN Hideaway w/Weedeater
Aug 06 2013 Asheville, NC Broadways w/Weedeater
Aug 07 2013 Charlotte, NC Chop Shop w/Weedeater
Aug 08 2013 Richmond, VA Strange Matter w/Weedeater
Aug 09 2013 Raleigh, NC The Maywood w/Weedeater
Aug 10 2013 Wilmington, NC Soapbox w/Weedeater
Aug 24 2013 Kent, OH The Outpost w/Rebreather, Mockingbird, The Unclean, The Ravenna Arsenal, Vulture, Deathcrawl, Fully Consumed, Venomin James, Super Predator, Showboy

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lo-Pan/130592378248

Lo-Pan, Sasquanaut 2.0 (2011/2013)

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