Midas Stream Still Hungry EP; Touring This Week in Northeast

Posted in audiObelisk on November 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

midas

As they stand on the precipice of their second tape EP release of 2019, and having just played their first gig in March of this year, Detroit classic metal four-piece Midas extend that waste-no-time ethic to their songwriting. Their first offering was March’s Solid Gold Heavy Metal (review here) that found the four-piece with members of Wild Savages and Bison Machine coming together around a shared appreciation for Priest, Maiden and all things NWOBHM and proto-heavy rock raucousness. The follow-up 16-minute four-tracker, Still Hungry, follows a similar course — it’s only been a few months, after all — but seems to be even tighter in its presentation and even more than its predecessor both the triumph and the celebration thereof, the double-guitar four-piece bringing the party and the reason to celebrate in the first place. It’s a fun combination in a way that doesn’t actually take itself as seriously yet as Iron Maiden always seemed to. One hopes they never get to that point, frankly.

The guitars of Casey O’Ryan (lead) and Joe Kupiec (rhythm, also vocals) lead the charge as one would expect, and the sense of gallop on second track “Usurper” tells you nearly everything you need to know about where they’re coming from. Following the winding grandeur of opener “Sands of Time,” the charge midas still hungry tapeof “Usurper” is both the longest cut on the tape at 4:59 and a standout in terms of its pace. Choral vocals echo in the second half over drum thud from Breck Crandell as they make their way back toward the chorus, and whether it’s Anthony Franchina holding together the low-end beneath the head-spinning fretwork from his six-string compatriots or the turn to a more angular, heavy rocking jabs on “Street Knights,” Midas continue to wear their love of heavy metal glories on their sleeve. They call to mind the electrifying early days of Chicago’s Bible of the Devil in terms of their style and energy, and thereby seem to be picking up the torch of a Midwestern metallicism that, well, is the kind of thing that might produce a festival like Alehorn of Power or Legions of Metal, the latter of which Midas will play in Spring 2020.

They close Still Hungry with “White Wolf” and actually dare to hit the brakes momentarily in the process, but soon it’s back to choice dueling leads complemented by some particularly tasty basslines, and they cap with a driving forward riff and a few pow-pow-pow hits before dropping off cold at the finish. Boom, cue applause. You know, for a band in their first year to have such a sense of what they want to do, it basically tells you that they got together with an idea in mind. Midas isn’t a group that just happened to start playing in a room together and produced this grade of dual-axe antics. But even with a firm aesthetic goal, it’s hard to predict where they might go and what they might bring to their sound over the course of a whole album. Interludes, solos, arrangements, and so on. They’ve demonstrated twice now that they know what they’re doing in terms of songcraft, but that’s not the same as fleshing out their personality across a debut full-length. Before they get there, they’re reportedly in talks to bring Still Hungry and Solid Gold Heavy Metal to a compiled CD and LP for next Spring — presumably sometime around Legions of Metal, but who knows — and then I’d guess it’ll be sometime after that they settle down to work on their first proper long-player.

Whenever that shows up, it’ll be one to look forward to, as Still Hungry proves they are most certainly famished, what on earth might it take to sate a sound such as this?

Full Still Hungry EP stream is below, followed by tour dates. Thanks for reading:

And enjoy:

midas still hungry tourMIDAS has followed up ‘Solid Gold Heavy Metal’ with the heavier and more sinister ‘Still Hungry’. Still straddling that line that split the 70s and 80s, they bring bigger and more complex sounds to the feast with their latest release. Tape pre-order will be live on Nov. 11th. Tape release date is Nov. 20 through Hardcore Psychedelia in Detroit. Catch them on tour on the East Coast this November, and at Legions of Metal this spring in Chicago alongside speed metal legends, Exciter.

Still Hungry Tour
Nov. 15th – New York – Sunnyvale*
Nov. 16th – Philadelphia – The Tusk*
Nov. 17th – Baltimore – The Depot*
Nov. 19th – Providence – Dusk
Nov. 27th – Ann Arbor MI – Lo Fi
Nov. 29th – Dayton OH – Blind Bob’s

MIDAS is:
Casey O’Ryan – Lead Guitar
Joe Kupiec – Vox, Rhythm Guitar
Anthony Franchina – Bass
Breck Crandell – Drums

Midas on Bandcamp

Midas on Thee Facebooks

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Review & Full Album Stream: Bison Machine, Seas of Titan

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bison machine seas of titan

[Click play above to stream Bison Machine’s Seas of Titan in its entirety. Album is out Sept. 27 on Small Stone Records.]

It feels like an exceedingly long four years since Michigan classic heavy rockers Bison Machine issued their debut LP, Hoarfrost (review here), through Kozmik Artifactz after first releasing it themselves to significant acclaim. They boogied their way through a 2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and issued the single “Cloak and Bones” (premiered here) the next year, and they’ve done a fair amount of touring between, mostly but not entirely in the Midwest, but as second-record Seas of Titan arrives via Small Stone Records — Detroit(-ish) band, Detroit label, Detroit rock — one seems to greet it almost with an exhale of relief: “ah, finally.” The winding shuffle of “Cloak and Bones” makes an appearance on side A amid semi-vintage stylized jams like the proto-metallic opener “The Tower,” “Knights of the Stars” and the somebody-please-isolate-the-bass-track-and-send-it-to-me shuffler “Echoes in Space,” which indeed trips out its guitar solo from Casey O’Ryan, who’s been in the band for a while now but is still the ‘new guy’ alongside vocalist Tom Stec, bassust/Moog-ist Anthony Franchina and drummer Breck Crandell.

But beyond that, everything on Seas of Titan at least feels fresh in listening to it, which is something of an accomplishment for a band so readily paying homage to the heavy ’70s in atmosphere and method. Brought together by a stellar recording job from Al Sutton and Steve Lehane, the latter of whom also co-produced with the band and handled mixing duties — Chris Goosman mastered, which is how it goes for most Small Stone releases — Seas of Titan comes across as natural to a clearly purposeful degree, taking that organic vibe and using it to bolster a live-feeling sound that further adds to the already considerable chemistry between Bison Machine as players. The tones are warm, the balance of instruments and vocals in the mix just right, and the flow between the songs enough to carry through the eight-track/42-minute run even before you know it’s over.

A sense of movement is essential to what Bison Machine do on their sophomore full-length, and that starts from the galloping guitar and emphasize-the-point snare of “The Tower” and continues one way or another through everything that follows. An echo treatment on Stec‘s vocals proves a uniting factor throughout, but isn’t any more overdone than intended, and as he seems to tap his inner Plant on “The Tower,” the message of what he’s going for comes through clearly. One might say the same of the band’s work on the whole. They inject boogie rock with a much-needed sense of energy and a much-needed sense of danger, not through violent lyrical themes or anything like that, but through the vitality of their swing, of the sharpness of their performance as captured here. Hooky enough to warrant its leadoff position, “The Tower” leads to “Knights of the Stars,” whereby Thin Lizzy‘s boys end up back in town and in a brawl with Cactus, only to resolve their differences peacefully in the song’s languid, solo-enriched second half, which cuts out before its 5:11 are done and gives way to “Cloak and Bones,” which channels biker-style death fetishism in its lyrics and sets it to an insistent rhythm and percussive foundation.

bison machine

Bass and guitar wind their way around the snapping drums, and together with Stec, all seem to be resolved to conveying the same crucial aspects of their performance. Like “The Tower,” “Cloak and Bones” is more proto-metallic than not, but Bison Machine‘s ability to shift the balance between such runs and jams or boogie-downs is a big part of what makes Seas of Titan work so well for the duration. As “Echoes in Space” digs into a mellower softshoe riff, that range becomes that much clearer as a part of the listening experience, and while it’s all still well within a similar-enough vibe to be coherent — that is, Bison Machine aren’t trying to do something just to catch their audience off-guard — neither are they repeating themselves anymore than they want to be doing to nail down the grooves that so well populate the album, and indeed “Echoes in Space,” which picks up its tempo and adds a line of presumably Moog or other keyboard under the broad-sounding guitar solo for which one assumes the song was named in the first place.

So yes, movement. But also warmth. The synth that begins the side-B-opening title-track is an intro for one of Seas of Titan‘s most driving progressions, but even that carries a distinctly human warmth and character, mirroring the chorus of “The Tower” and some of that same burst of energy, but locking into a bluesier chorus as well, reminding a bit of Radio Moscow as it struts into and out of lead sections. “Seas of Titan” is the longest inclusion at 6:10, but not by so much over “Cloak and Bones” (6:02) or “The Tower” (5:46) that it’s out of step with the rest of the record that shares its name — that intro is essentially the difference, but it’s well enough earned.

They follow-it with a build of momentum through “Star Child,” which oddly enough is more Rainbow than KISS in terms of its sound, but a welcome delving into minor-key fretwork either way as O’Ryan‘s guitar swaps channels before the hook comes back through and leads to an effective section of starts and stops and a last push ahead of the already-going-already-gone “Electric Eliminator,” which somehow finds room in its sub-four-minute run for a winding, boogie-dense jam in its midsection that almost seems like it’s going to hold sway for the duration and then turns quickly back to the central riff. That lets the initial strum of closer “A Distant Sun” make an immediately more peaceful impression, but the tempo remains up and fuller fuzz makes its way in, Stec‘s vocals seeming to tap their inner Freedom Hawk past the midpoint just before they ride the last solo into a roundout with the last hook and then end the set with a ringout and fade, their sense of class coming through almost in spite of the grit of their presentation.

One wouldn’t necessarily accuse Bison Machine of reinventing the wheel in terms of aesthetic, but the fact of the matter is their take on boogie rock is presented with an energy and an edge of its own on Seas of Titan, and though acts like KadavarGraveyard, and half the population of San Diego have cut their teeth on ’70s riffage over the last decade, the grit Bison Machine bring to the proceedings — and again, that class underlying — is well on display throughout these songs. I wouldn’t be surprised in the future to find them loosening up the structure a bit — contrary to my usual impulse, I almost found myself wishing “Electric Eliminator” just let itself go without returning to the hook; the band’s songwriting acumen had already been thoroughly established, so why not? — but their tightness here extends to all levels of what they do and it becomes part of the overarching statement Seas of Titan makes, and makes resoundingly. Maybe it’ll be four years until the next one and maybe not, but it’ll be worth waiting for, in any case.

Bison Machine on Thee Facebooks

Bison Machine on Instagram

Bison Machine on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

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Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Bison Machine Announce Seas of Titan Due Sept. 27; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even if you go by when the album came out on Kozmik Artifactz, it’s been four years since Bison Machine released their debut LP, Hoarfrost (review here), and that’s plenty long enough. They’ve done copious touring over the course of their near-decade together, and had other offerings out along the way, but if you believe in due, they’re due for a record. Fortunately, Seas of Titan will see release through Small Stone on Sept. 27 as their sophomore full-length, arriving not a moment too soon as far as I’m concerned. The album art pretty much rules, and I’ve been seeing posts on thee social medias about their widely available new t-shirt designs, so all that makes me think they’ll continue to hit the road as they have all along, and that’s only a good thing. They’re streaming the opening track from Seas of Titan now. I suggest you dig in.

PR wire info follows. I know I worked on this bio, but I think it was an update from what was already there rather than something I wrote from scratch. Kind of hard to keep it all straight in my head.

Either way, here it is:

bison machine seas of titan

BISON MACHINE: Michigan Fuzz Rockers To Release Seas Of Titan Full-Length Via Small Stone This Fall; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Michigan fuzz rockers BISON MACHINE will release their Seas Of Titan full-length via Small Stone this fall.

Since 2010, BISON MACHINE has been plying their trade in the dank, vinyl-smelling basements of Detroit, Michigan, the birthplace of a rock tradition for brashness and all-in physicality to music that the group lovingly upholds. Seas Of Titan is the band’s first album for Small Stone and a record years in the making. Since getting their start in early 2015 with the critically-lauded Hoarfrost, the four-piece have spent time putting out material in drips and drabs — a video here, a split there — all the while honing their craft on stages throughout the greater Midwest and beyond. This has all been in the name of chipping away at the marble that would become an awaited sophomore outing; a long-player from a band whose reputation already precedes them among the converted and who leave nothing unsaid in their sweating-blood approach to rock and roll.

Progressive and intense, the eight smoking tracks that comprise Seas Of Titan finds BISON MACHINE melding the best of classic heavy rock a la Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Captain Beyond, and MC5 with a forward-thinking style that is as much class as it is likely to show up in a loincloth. Rooted now in Hamtramck, Michigan, the band are hungry to the point of starving and bring a spirit to their latest work that serves to remind why they made guitars electric in the first place. Seas Of Titan was recorded by Al Sutton (Five Horse Johnson, Don Cabellero) and Steve Lehane (Sasquatch, Luder, The Black Dahlia Murder) at Rustbelt Studios, mastered by Chris Goosman (La Chinga, Gozu, Acid King, The Glasspack) at Baseline Audio Labs and features artwork by Alan Forbes (The Black Crowes, Lucifer, Earthless, Ghost). 

BISON MACHINE’s Seas Of Titan will be released September 27th on CD and digitally via Small Stone. A limited-edition vinyl edition will also be released through Kozmik Artifacts in conjunction with Small Stone. Preorders are available at the label’s Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION where first single, “The Tower,” can be streamed.

Seas Of Titan Track Listing:
1. The Tower
2. Knights Of The Stars
3. Cloak & Bones
4. Echoes In Space
5. Seas Of Titan
6. Star Child
7. Electric Eliminator
8. A Distant Sun

BISON MACHINE:
Casey O’ryan – guitar
Anthony Franchina – bass, moog
Breck Crandell – drums, percussion
Tom Stec – vocals

https://www.facebook.com/bisonmachinedetroit
https://www.instagram.com/bisonmachine/
https://bisonmachine.bandcamp.com/
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

Bison Machine, Seas of Titan (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Pelican, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Greenbeard, Mount Soma, Nibiru, Cable, Reino Ermitaño, Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

More computer bullshit this morning. I lost about 45 minutes because my graphics driver and Windows 10 apparently hate each other and before I could disable the former, the machine decided the best it could do for me was to load a blank screen. Hard to find the Pelican record on my desktop when I can’t see my desktop. The Patient Mrs. woke up while I was trying to fix it and suggested HDMIing it to the tv. When I did that, it didn’t project as was hoped, but the display came on — because go figure — and I was able to shut off the driver, the only real advantage of which is it lets me use the night light feature so it’s easier on my eyes. That’s nice, but I’d rather have the laptop function. Not really working on a level of “give me soft red light or give me death!” at this point. I may yet get there in my life.

Today’s the last day of this beast, wrapping up the last of the 60 reviews, and I’m already in the hole for the better part of an hour thanks to this technical issue, the second of the week. Been an adventure, this one. Let’s close it out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Nighttime Stories

pelican nighttime stories

Split into two LPs each with its own three-minute mood-setter — those being “WST” and “It Stared at Me,” respectively — Pelican‘s Nighttime Stories (on Southern Lord) carries the foreboding sensibility of its title into an aggressive push throughout the album, which deals from the outset with the pain of loss. The lead single “Midnight and Mescaline” represents this well in directly following “WST,” with shades of more extreme sounds in the sharp-turning guitar interplay and tense drums, but it carries through the blastbeats of “Abyssal Plain” and the bombastic crashes of presumed side B closer “Cold Hope” as well, which flow via a last tonal wash toward the melancholy “It Stared at Me” and the even-more-aggro title-track, the consuming “Arteries of Blacktop” and the eight-minute “Full Moon, Black Water,” which offers a build of maddening chug — a Pelican hallmark — before resolving in melodic serenity, moving, perhaps, forward with and through its grief. It’s been six years since Pelican‘s last LP, Forever Becoming (review here), and they’ve responded to that time differential with the hardest-hitting record they’ve ever done.

Pelican on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Though the peaceful beginning of 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Heavy Seed,” for which the five-song album is named, reminds of Swan Valley Heights‘ Munich compatriots in Colour Haze, the ultimate impression the band make on their Fuzzorama Records debut and second album overall behind a 2016 self-titled (review here) is more varied in its execution, with cuts like “Vaporizer Woman” and the centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” manifesting ebbs and flows and rolling out a fuzzy largesse to lead into dream-toned ethereality and layered vocals that immediately call to mind Elephant Tree. There’s a propensity for jamming, but they’re not a jam band, and seem always to have a direction in mind. That’s true even on the three-minute instrumental “My First Knife Fight,” which unfurls around a nod riff and simple drum progression to bridge into closer “Teeth and Waves,” a bookend to The Heavy Seed‘s title-track that revives that initial grace and uses it as a stepping stone for the crunch to come. It’s a balance that works and should be well received.

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

 

Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Mark Deutrom The Blue Bird

Released in the wee hours of 2019, Mark Deutrom‘s The Blue Bird marks the first new solo release from the prolific Austin-based songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist through Season of Mist, and it’s a 50-minute run of genre-spanning outsider art, bringing ’70s folk vibes to the weepy guitar echoes of “Radiant Gravity” right before “O Ye of Little Faith” dooms out for six of its seven minutes and “Our Revels Now Are Ended” basks in 77 seconds of experimentalist winding guitar. It goes like that. Vocals are intermittent enough to not necessarily be expected, but not entirely absent through the midsection of “Hell is a City,” “Somnambulist” and “Maximum Hemingway,” and if there’s traditionalism at play anywhere, it might be in “They Have Won” and “The Happiness Machine,” which, toward the back end of the album, bring a sax-laden melancholy vibe and a straightforward heavy rock feel, respectively, ahead of the closer “Nothing out There,” which ties them together, somehow accounting for the 1:34 “On Fathers Day” as well in its sweetness. Don’t go into The Blue Bird asking it to make sense on any level other than its own and you should be fine. It’s not a minor undertaking at 50 minutes, and not without its indulgences, but even the briefest of pieces helps develop the character of the whole, which of course is essential to any good story.

Mark Deutrom website

Season of Mist website

 

Greenbeard, Onward, Pillager

greenbeard onward pillager

Austin bringers of hard-boogie Greenbeard reportedly issued the three-song Onward, Pillager as a precursor to their next full-length — even the name hints toward it being something of a stopgap — but its tracks stand well on their own, whether it’s the keyboard-laced “Contact High II,” which is presumably a sequel to another track on the forthcoming record, or the chunkier roll of “WCCQ” and the catchy finisher “Kill to Love Yourself,” with its overlaid guitar solo adding to a dramatic ending. It hasn’t been that long since 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but clearly these guys are committed to moving forward in neo-stoner rock fashion, and their emergence as songwriters is highlighted particularly throughout “WCCQ” and “Kill to Love Yourself,” while “Contact High II” is more of an intro or a would-be interlude on the full-length. It may only be pieces of a larger, to-be-revealed picture, but Onward, Pillager shows three different sides of what Greenbeard have on offer, and the promise of more to come is one that will hopefully be kept sooner rather than later.

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

 

Mount Soma, Nirodha

mount_soma_nirodha

Each of the three songs on Mount Soma‘s densely-weighted, live-recorded self-released Nirodha EP makes some mention of suffering in its lyrics, and indeed, that seems to be the theme drawing together “Dark Sun Destroyer” (7:40), “Emerge the Wolf” (5:50) and “Resurfacing” (9:14): a quest for transcendence perhaps in part due to the volume of the music and the act itself of creating it. Whatever gets them there, the trajectory of Nirodha is such that by the time they hit into the YOB-style galloping toward the end of “Resurfacing,” the gruff shouts of “rebirth!” feel more celebratory than ambitious. Based in Dublin, the four-piece bring a fair sense of space to their otherwise crush-minded approach, and though the EP is rough — it is their second short release following 2016’s Origins — they seem to have found a way to tie together outer and inner cosmos with an earthbound sense of gravity and heft, and with the more intense shove of “Emerge the Wolf” between the two longer tracks, they prove themselves capable of bringing a noisy charge amid all that roar and crash. They did the first EP live as well. I wonder if they’d do the same for a full-length.

Mount Soma on Thee Facebooks

Mount Soma on Bandcamp

 

Nibiru, Salbrox

nibiru salbrox

One might get lost in the unmanageable 64-minute wash of Nibiru‘s fifth full-length (first for Ritual Productions), Salbrox, but the opaque nature of the proceedings is part of the point. The Italian ritualists bring forth a chaotic depth of noise and harsh semi-spoken rasps of vocals reportedly in the Enochian language, and from 14-minute opener “EHNB” — also the longest track (immediate points) — through the morass that follows in “Exarp,” “Hcoma,” “Nanta” and so on, the album is a willful slog that challenges the listener on nearly every level. This is par for the course for Nibiru, whose last outing was 2017’s Qaal Babalon (review here), and they seem to revel in the slow-churning gruel of their distortion, turning from it only to break to minimalism in the second half of the album with “Abalpt” and “Bitom” before 13-minute closer “Rziorn” storms in like a tsunami of spiritually desolate plunge. It is vicious and difficult to hear, and again, that is exactly what it’s intended to be.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Cable, Take the Stairs to Hell

Cable Take the Stairs to Hell

The gift of Cable was to take typically raw Northeastern disaffection and channel it into a noise rock that wasn’t quite as post-this-or-that as Isis, but still had a cerebral edge that more primitive fare lacked. They were methodical, and 10 years after their last record, the Hartford, Connecticut, outfit return with the nine-song/30-minute Take the Stairs to Hell (on Translation Loss), which brings them back into the modern sphere with a sound that is no less relevant than it was bouncing between This Dark Reign, Hydra Head and Translation Loss between 2001 and 2004. They were underrated then and may continue to be now, but the combination of melody and bite in “Black Medicine” and the gutty crunch of “Eyes Rolled Back,” the post-Southern heavy of the title-track and the lumbering pummel of “Rivers of Old” before it remind of how much of a standout Cable was in the past, reinforcing that not only were they ahead of their time then, but that they still have plenty to offer going forward. They may continue to be underrated as they always were, but their return is significant and welcome.

Cable on Instagram

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

Reino Ermitaño, Reino Ermitaño

Reino Ermitano Reino Ermitano

Originally released in 2003, the self-titled debut from Lima, Peru’s Reino Ermitaño was a beacon and landmark in Latin American doom, with a sound derived from the genre’s traditions — Sabbath, Trouble, etc. — and melded with not only Spanish-language lyrics, but elements of South American folk and stylizations. Reissued on vinyl some 16 years later, it maintains its power through the outside-time level of its craft, sliding into that unplaceable realm of doom that could be from any point from about 1985 onward, while the melodies in the guitar of Henry Guevara and the vocals of Tania Duarte hold sway over the central groove of bassist Marcos Coifman and drummer Julio “Ñaka” Almeida. Those who were turned onto the band at the time will likely know they’ve released five LPs to-date, with the latest one from 2014, but the Necio Records version marks the first time the debut has been pressed to vinyl, and so is of extra interest apart from the standard putting-it-out-there-again reissue. Collectors and a new generation of doomers alike would be well advised on an educational level, and of course the appeal of the album itself far exceeds that.

Reino Ermitaño on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Split

cardinals folly lucifers fall split

Though one hails from Helsinki, Finland, and the other from Adelaide, Australia, Cardinals Folly and Lucifer’s Fall could hardly be better suited to share the six-song Cruz Del Sur split LP that they do, which checks in at 35 minutes of trad doom riffing and dirtier fare. The former is provided by Cardinals Folly, who bring a Reverend Bizarre-style stateliness to “Spiritual North” and “Walvater Proclaimed!” before betraying their extreme metal roots on “Sworn Through Odin’s and Satan’s Blood,” while the Oz contingent throw down Saint Vitus-esque punk-born fuckall through “Die Witch Die,” the crawling “Call of the Wild” and the particularly brash and speedier “The Gates of Hell.” The uniting thread of course is homage to doom itself, but each band brings enough of their own take to complement each other without either contradicting or making one or the other of them feel redundant, and rather, the split works out to be a rampaging, deeply-drunk, pagan-feeling celebration of what doom is and how it has been internalized by each of these groups. Doom over the world? Yeah, something like that.

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Temple of the Fuzz Witch

A strong current of Electric Wizard runs through the self-titled debut full-length from Detroit’s Temple of the Fuzz Witch (on Seeing Red Records), but even to that, the outfit led by guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner bring a nascent measure of individuality, droning into and through “Death Hails” after opening with “Bathsheba” and ahead of unveiling a harmonized vocal on “The Glowing of Satan” that suits the low end distortion surprisingly well. They continue to offer surprises throughout, whether it’s the spaciousness of centerpiece “329” and “Infidel,” which follows, or the offsetting of minimalism and crush on “The Fuzz Witch” and the creeper noise in the ending of “Servants of the Sun,” and though there are certainly familiar elements at play, Temple of the Fuzz Witch come across with an intent to take what’s been done before and make it theirs. In that regard, they would seem to be on the right track, and in their 41 minutes, they find footing in a murky aesthetic and are able to convey a sense of songwriting without sounding heavy-handed. There’s nothing else I’d ask of their first album.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Midas Stream Solid Gold Heavy Metal Tape in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on March 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

midas

Well earning their two Flying Vs, Detroit newcomer four-piece make their debut with the Solid Gold Heavy Metal tape, pressed up in an edition of 100 copies and set to release in time for the band’s first live appearance on March 23 alongside Lucifer and Spell in their Motor City hometown. The new group is born out of classic heavy rockers Bison Machine and Wild Savages, who are no strangers to each other having both participated in a split alongside SLO (review here) in 2016. Midas, though, are on a different trip, deep-diving into the NWOBHM with both guitars blazing as Casey O’Ryan and Joe Kupiec (the latter also vocals) remind all with ears that it was denim and leather that brought us together, and Anthony Franchina and Breck Crandell, bass and drums, respectively, hold together the forward charge that seems ready to hijack Iron Maiden‘s private jet and fly it to glory.

Opener “Clash of Steel” is a clarion to the converted, making natural use of the NWOBHM’s Thin Lizzy influence to affect an early-metal atmosphere will still remaining modern midas solid gold heavy metal coverin terms of production value. They’re aware of the influences they’re working under and the style toward which they’re playing, of course, but there’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about Solid Gold Heavy Metal that wasn’t tongue-in-cheek about the genre four decades ago. “Gauntlet” picks up with tales of legendary battles that, you know, may or may not be based on the video game — I’d have to see a lyric sheet to confirm — and “White Lightning” ups the Priestly groove as they lock in a somewhat more mitigated tempo, and that leads smoothly into “Blackened Blade,” which complements the proceedings fluidly and taps into an easier-rolling line of lead guitar to go with its capstone hook, “Curse this blackened blade.” There’s a fifth song, hidden — don’t tell anybody — and it’s a cover, but I’ve been politely asked not to say what it is. I’ll just say it’s a riot and it fits and leave it at that.

Imagine yourself getting the tape, dubbing copies for friends and trading with other people you got in touch with after seeing their trade lists in the back of print magazines. It’s like that. You can stream Solid Gold Heavy Metal using the player below. Have fun with it, because the good times are just getting started.

Enjoy:

Rising from the ashes of two long running Michigan rock bands, MIDAS rides forth bringing SOLID GOLD HEAVY METAL to the world! With a tip of the hat to bands like Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Saxon, and all the late 70s precious metal, their debut promo tape spans the spectrum but is still grounded in a continuation of the progress made during their previous tenure as separate bands. A short tour is in the works for this summer and work has already begun on a full length LP.

MIDAS makes their on-stage debut at Small’s in Detroit MI alongside Sweden’s Lucifer and Canada’s Spell on March 23rd. Copies of the tape will be available at the show and for order on the MIDAS bandcamp page. Limited to 100 copies. Surprise bonus cover track only available with purchase.

MIDAS is:
Casey O’Ryan – Lead Guitar
Joe Kupiec – Vox, Rhythm Guitar
Anthony Franchina – Bass
Breck Crandell – Drums

Photo by Bambi Guthrie.

Midas on Bandcamp

Midas on Thee Facebooks

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Against the Grain Announce Tour with Hank Von Hell for Early 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

against the grain

Dudes just go and go and go. Detroit’s Against the Grain wrap up 2018 with a handful of shows alongside Gwar and Iron Reagan, and then about two weeks after the New Year hits, they’re back out with Hank Von Hell on his US tour, which should well acquaint them with any of the Turbougend set for whom they might not yet be known. That run is put together by Tone Deaf Touring and is the more newly announced of the two, but the basic story here is that Against the Grain tour like bastards. They released Cheated Death (review here) earlier this year on Ripple, and it’s basically astounding they ever manage to come off the road long enough to make an album. They tour. Like bastards. Bastards who keep good company.

Dates follow, and one assumes more will show up for 2019 after these. Maybe Europe? Maybe everywhere:

hank von hell poster

We are getting very excited for our upcoming dates with Gwar and Iron Reagan ending the year. Dates:

12/27 – The Vogue – Indy, IN
12/28 – Bogarts – Cincinnati, OH (SC opens)
12/29 – 9:30 Club – Washington DC
12/30 – North Seventh – Philly, PA
12/31 – The Norva – Norfolk, VA (no IR).

It is with great excitement we get to announce our 2019 tour as direct support for Hank Von Hell (former legendary singer of Turbonegro) for his first Us and Canadian run In years. Dates:

1/15- Atlanta, GA – The Earl
1/16- Richmond, VA – Richmond Music Hall
1/17 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bazaar
1/18 – Philly, PA – Trocadero
1/19 – Cambridge, MA – Middle East
1/20 – Montreal, QC – Bar Leritz
1/21 – Toronto, ON – Lees Palace
1/22 – Detroit, MI – El Club
1/23 – Lombard, IL – Brauerhouse
1/24 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
1/25 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
1/26 – Denver, CO – Oriental Theatre
1/28 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile
1/29 – Portland, OR – Dante’s
1/30 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
1/31 – Los Angelas – Exhoplex
2/1 – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
2/3 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey
2/4 – Austin, Tx – Come and Take It Live
2/5 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall
2/6 – New Orleans, LA – Santos Bar

Against The Grain:
Chris Nowak – Bass, Vocals
Rob Nowak – Drums
Nick Bellomo – Guitar
Kyle Davis – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/Againstthegraindetroit/
https://www.instagram.com/againstthegraindetroit/
https://againstthegrain-atg.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Against the Grain, Cheated Death (2018)

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Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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Against the Grain Release Cheated Death Feb. 9; New Song Streaming

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

against the grain

Should you be surprised when the new track Against the Grain are streaming tears ass out of your speakers like it just robbed the place? No, probably not. At least not if you heard 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) or have gotten down the with Detroit four-piece’s speed-minded fare before. What is distinct about the title-cut from their upcoming long-player, Cheated Death — out Feb. 9 on Ripple — is the underlying groove that accompanies that head-spinning presentation. Over time, Against the Grain have worked both on the road and in the studio to build a steady foundation of quality songwriting for their blazing craft, and it would seem those efforts are continuing to pay off.

You can stream “Cheated Death” at the bottom of this post because, you know, the future, and check out the wide swath of touring Against the Grain will be doing to support the record. That’s kind of their thing. Can pretty much guarantee this won’t be the last run they do this year, either. They go and go and go. And fast.

From the PR wire:

Against the Grain Cheated Death

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Motor City Mad Men Cheat Death Next Month with Ripple Music

Cheated Death is released worldwide on 9th February 2018 on Ripple Music

Living up to the title of their newest record, Against the Grain have proven themselves to be true road warriors. Blazing a trail across the US with their brand of gear-shifting, balls-to-the-wall rock, incorporating all things heavy they practically defy categorization, seamlessly blurring the lines of punk, rock, doom and thrash.

After playing fifty shows in 2009 across their home state of Michigan, their self-titled debut (released that same year) garnered a serious local fan base. Introduced to touring life by Hellmouth and The Meatmen, with their intense live show nailed and energized fan base following in support close behind, Against The Grain quickly transformed into a fully-functioning road act.

Playing seventy-five dates in 2011, they followed their debut with 2012’s Motor City Speed Rock and a further hundred fifty dates in support. Their efforts caught the attention of Self-Destructo Records, who in 2013 released their third full-length Surrounded By Snakes to such acclaim that they rereleased it soon afterward on 10” vinyl. Maintaining a DIY tour ethic, the band has since built a national fan base while quenching their thirst for fast and heavy rock and roll, right across the land. With a combined total of seven hundred and fifty dates under their belts since their formation in 2011, the band has toured alongside an impressive assemblage of notable acts that include Nashville Pussy, Valient Thorr, Bongzilla, Atomic Bitchwax, Mos Generator, Anvil, Night Demon, Church of Misery, The Hookers, Beast in the Field, Lo-Pan and many more.

Against The Grain’s heavily anticipated forth full-length, Road Warriors, was released in the summer of 2015 and pushed them even further into the electrifying realms of rock, metal and punk world. But it’s their soon-to-be released album Cheated Death that’s going to truly push them over the edge. Released this February on the California-based record label Ripple Music – widely regarded as one of the world’s leading record labels for Heavy Rock, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych – you can rest assured that the mad men of Michigan are going to blaze a trial across the US, the world and your mind in 2018.

Cheated Death is released worldwide on 9th February 2018 on Ripple Music

Against The Grain:
Chris Nowak – Bass, Vocals
Rob Nowak – Drums
Nick Bellomo – Guitar
Kyle Davis – Guitar
2018 Tour Dates:

2/2 – Saginaw (MI) – Hamilton St. Pub
2/3 – Indianapolis (IN) – The Melody Inn
2/4 – Grand Rapids (MI) – Tip Top Deluxe (Matinee)
3/22 – Westland (MI) – The Token Lounge
3/23 – Newport (KY) – The Southgate House Revival
3/24 – Nashville (TN) – Exit/In
3/25 – Lexington (KY) – Cosmic Charlies
3/26 – Louisville (KY) – Highlands Tap Room
3/27 – St Louis (MO) – FUBAR
3/28 – Springfield (MO) – Outland Ballroom
3/29 – Wichita (KS) – The Elbow Room
3/30 – Denver (CO) – The Gothic Theatre
3/31 – Grand Junction (CO) – The Mesa Theatre
4/1 – Salt Lake City (UT) – Metro Music Hall
4/3 – Las Vegas (NV) – The Divebar
4/4 – San Diego (CA) – The Soda Bar
4/5 – Santa Ana (CA) – The Observatory
4/6 – Bakersfield (CA) – Pyrenees Cafe and Saloon
4/7 – San Jose (CA) – The Ritz
4/8 – Santa Cruz (CA) – The Catalyst
4/10 – Sacramento (CA) – The Blue Lamp
4/12 – Grants Pass (OR) – Rogue Theatre
4/13 – Portland (OR) – Dantes
4/14 – Seattle (WA) – El Corazon
4/15 – Spokane (WA) – The Pin!
4/16 – Whitefish (MT) – Remington Bar and Casino
4/17 – Bozeman (MT) – Bozeman Eagles Club and Ballroom
4/18 – Billings (MT) – The Pub Station
4/20 – Minneapolis (MN) – Lees Liquor Lounge
4/21 – Green Bay (WI) – The Lyric Room
4/22 – Chicago (IL) – Reggies Rock Club

https://www.facebook.com/Againstthegraindetroit/
https://www.instagram.com/againstthegraindetroit/
https://againstthegrain-atg.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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