Friday Full-Length: earthlings?, earthlings?

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The 11 tracks of earthings? 1998 self-titled debut are a stirring reminder that sometimes the best thing one can be is weird. Among the core lineup of Dave Catching (who’s contributed one way or the other to Queens of the Stone Age, Mojave Lords, Eagles of Death Metal, Goon Moon, Masters of Reality, and many others), Fred Drake (Mark Lanegan, Queens of the Stone Age, and a host of others in various roles), and Pete Stahl (GoatsnakeScreamWool, Orquesta del Desierto), is the name of the Rancho de la Luna studio itself where earthlings? was recorded for eventual release through Crippled Dick Hot Wax and Man’s Ruin Records. The studio itself plays a massive role in the ultimate personality of the record, as songs become willfully bizarre explanations of drones or keys like the otherwise straightforward “Reaper (Don’t Fear This Child)” or seem built of Wonka-esque psychotronic experimentation like “Conversing Among Misfits,” which, by the way, is the centerpiece of the album, because of course it is.

In these pieces as well as in opener “Nothing” and the desert-Velvet Underground take of “Saving up for My Spaceship/Illuminate,” and even the QOTSA-adjacent riff-style of “Stungun” — with Scott Reeder on bass, no less — the feel becomes not unlike another hidden edition of Desert Sessions, with Stahl‘s malleable vocals, Drake‘s keys/vocals/sometimes-drums and Catching‘s guitar/keys/bass/whatever emerging as having been born of a similar sonic adventurism. No doubt tales of, “let’s get everyone in the studio for a few days, do drugs and make records,” have been exaggerated, but it’s worth noting that all three members of earthlings? were indeed involved in Desert Sessions at one point or another, and the vibe of the self-titled bears that out in “The Dreaded Lovelies” and the same goes for the subsequent ambience of “The Icy Halls of Sobriety (I Dare Not Tread)” and the chill finish in closer “Triumphant March of the Buffoons,” which rounds out a farewell salvo like the band blew out its songwriting apparatus on “Stungun” and decided to just roll with the anti-consciousness impulse. Sometimes the best thing one can be is weird.

Drake and Stahl share vocal duties on the punkish “Cavalry” while Adam Maples (Legal Weapon, Boneclub, Orquesta del Desierto) steps in on drums, and the pattern of offsetting more straight-ahead moments with bizarre fare continues as the impressionist “Happiest Day of My Life” arrives based around a piano line and interweaving vocals and keyboard, carrying forth a wistfulness that continues into an ending of traffic sounds and the arrival of the bouncing anythingism of “Conversing Among Misfits,” each song a departure from the one before it much as “Nothing” at the outset stands as a departure from reality. What ties them all together, such as they’re intended to be tied together at all, is the sense of freedom behind their making. The tracks on earthlings?‘s self-titled by and large earthlings earthlingsare not smoothed-over, structured pieces intended to land a hook. Their sense of expression is on a different trip.

In hindsight, the post-rocking drift in the guitar of “Nothing” feels somewhat prescient, even with the launch-countdown over top, but what it conveys most of all is that earthlings? were not formed as a band with limits placed on their sound. They were not going to be “this” kind of band or “that” kind of band. They were going to see what happened. True, they inevitably are lumped into the sphere of Californian desert rock in no small part because of their many associations therewith, but that’s not a limit on what they do. With a first album that appeared shortly after Kyuss disbanded, they showed a different side of the desert, less aggressive and more embodying a kind of we-moved-to-the-middle-of-nowhere-for-a-reason aesthetic libertarianism, unwilling to follow dictates other than those of their own creativity. That would turn out to be plenty, of course, as “Saving up for My Spaceship/Illuminate” tops seven minutes of percussion-addled sand psych before giving way to the return of the drum kit on “Reaper (Don’t Fear This Child),” on which Drake‘s sneering vocal approach should recall for anyone who’s heard it that of Zach Huskey of Dali’s Llama, also long underappreciated.

And maybe that middle finger to convention is part of the desert ideal as well, though it’s hard to assess such things from (1:) across the country and (2:) two decades after the fact without indulging the peculiar gonzo romanticism of American counterculture. I’ll save my breath, if that’s cool, and just note that whatever accidents it might produce, the kind of stylistic individuality one hears on earthlings? is never itself anything but willful, and whatever the album might share in common with other outfits to which Stahl or Drake or Catching played in the years since seems much more born of the fact that it’s the same personality being taken along with them on the way. Those personae, in combination with each other and with Rancho de la Luna itself, produced something in this first earthlings? record that inherently could not be reproduced — the capture of a singular moment in time.

Of course, the self-titled isn’t the only thing earthlings? ever put out. They followed it with Human Beans, which featured an even broader range of guests, including Mark Lanegan, Barrett Martin, Josh Homme and Petra Hayden, as well as a drum spot from Dave Grohl, in 2000, members continuing to contribute to Desert Sessions in between. The death of Drake from cancer in 2002 came shortly after the band released their Disco Marching Craft EP, on which he did not appear, and over the years that followed, earthlings? would release sporadic short offerings like 2005’s Individual Sky Cruiser Theory or 2008’s Humalien EPs, bringing Mathias Schneeberger and a swath of other players into the lineup along the way. It wasn’t until 2016’s Mudda Fudda limited vinyl on Last Hurrah Records that earthlings? issued a third full-length, and I wouldn’t profess to know anything about future plans or anything like that. Still, their work remains delightfully strange and rife with the kind of indulgence one wants to indulge because it’s so much fun to follow along, and 21 years after the fact, earthlings? continues to stand resoundingly alone.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

New episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio today at 1PM Eastern. I’m doing a special on the Kyuss family tree, the research for which I’ll admit also had me digging into this earthlings? record earlier this week. If you get to check that out, it would surely be appreciated.

Listen at: http://gimmeradio.com

And thanks.

It’s very nearly 4AM now. The Patient Mrs. and I had friends over last night. I turned in around 10 and fell asleep immediately, so don’t even know when she came to bed, but I woke up at 1:30 and never got back to sleep. That’s not going to make my day any easier, I think, but “making my day easier” has never been among my specialties.

This week was a fucking mess. The Esogenesi track that went up earlier I actually reviewed back on like Tuesday because I wanted to review the Orange Goblin show Wednesday morning and still be ahead, so wound up doing Esogenesi on Tuesday to go up today so that yesterday I could just do PH and have that go up immediately. Why does it make a difference? I’m not sure. Would it matter if the Orange Goblin review had gone up the next day? To me, maybe. Which I guess is how that dumb crap happens in the first place.

Ah, now it’s 4AM. The alarm on my phone just went off.

If you saw that Orange Goblin review, thanks. I was pretty thrilled with it. I bought a new lens last week as a moving-house present to myself and took it to that show and C.O.C. in Jersey in order to break it in. It’s fun. I’m pleased with it. It’s not a magic bullet to make me a better photographer or anything, but it’s pro-level even if I’m not. There are a few other shows coming up in the next several weeks, so I’m looking forward to getting to know it more.

This weekend? Yeah, I don’t know. The Patient Mrs. is gone at a conference in Washington, D.C., that will mark the longest time she’s been away from The Pecan. I think she’s nervous about that, but fortunately there’s plenty of distraction. The kid yesterday, man. Oof. What a day. Hitting and yelling and whining and pouting and smacking himself in the face and just crying for nothing. Made me want to check him for new teeth. “Bro, what the hell?” and so on. He can have some pretty intense moments, in the true spirit of a toddler. Splatter my brains on the fucking wall. He’ll be two in October. Not there yet.

It’s okay though. I hear it gets much easier from here and all the concerns go away and you just all of a sudden have a person you love a bunch and can talk to about baseballs and various kinds of gouda cheese and heavy metal and it’s all good and then they take care of you until you die. Pretty sure I read that somewhere.

I signed on to do a bio for WarHorse. It was an honor to be asked. I don’t know when they need it or anything, but I’ll probably post it here when the time comes. In the meantime, I’m interviewing Lori from Acid King next week for a streaming chat — those are getting me back on the phone/Skype with people and I like that; transcription had been keeping me away, and I hate setting up email interviews, which is why Six Dumb Questions only has six questions — and I’m supposed to email questions to the guys from a certain bud-loving British band for liner notes for a reissue they’re doing of a landmark album that I haven’t done yet, and I’m supposed to talk to Peder from Lowrider this weekend about their upcoming PostWax release for liner notes for that. I am, in a word, over-fucking-whelmed. But I do these things to myself. I like being asked to do things. I like being a part of things. I appreciate the fact that someone might give enough of a shit about what I say to print it with their record or to send it out as their statement of who they are as a band. Is the weekend when I’m on my own with the kid the time to be thinking about getting anything at all done? Yeah, no. Am I doing so anyway? Clearly.

What a dope.

I guess I’ll leave on that happy note. A few good premieres next week, and the audio of my interview with Jesse Bartz from L0-Pan that I recorded at their show in Jersey, so keep an eye out for those. It’ll be fun.

Alright. Have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream and merch at Dropout.

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New the earthlings? LP Mudda Fudda Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Would seem that earthlings? have added a “the” since their last time out, but considering their last full-length Human Beans, was released in 2000, they’ve had plenty of time to do so. Their new long-player is titled Mudda Fudda and will be pressed in an edition of 500 copies by Last Hurrah Records, which specializes in things of limited and vinyl nature, and somehow if you play your cards right you can get a copy that glows in the dark. That’s what I’m talking about.

If you’re unfamiliar with the desert-weirdness of the earthlings?, no time like the present to get introduced. LP preorder info follows:

Mudda Fudda is the earthlings? new limited edition, full-length vinyl LP on Last Hurrah Records. The earthlings?’s third studio album, Mudda Fudda combines desert rock sensibilities, outer space adventure and modern psychedelics to create a hybrid wave-length that pulsates with excitement. For this intercosmic endeavor, The earthlings? are co-piloted by musical luminaries David Catching (Eagles of Death Metal, Mojave Lords) and Pete Stahl (Goatsnake, Scream) under the star-filled sky over Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California. Other passengers onboard include drummer Adam Maples, the band’s trusty timekeeper, along with a slew of high plains cohorts including Fred Drake, Matthias Schneeberger, Molly McGuire, Brant Bjork, Gene Trautman, Barrett Martin, Franz Stahl and Josh Homme.

The Mudda Fudda jacket features artwork by Dirk Bonsma and a highlighted UV Gloss layer. The record itself comes in two outer space vinyl configurations: Nova and Nebula colors. The run is limited to 500 copies (250 of each color).

Ordering 2 records ensures that you will receive one record of each color.

The “Glow-In-The-Dark Set” includes both Nebula and Nova colored vinyl records plus a 3rd Glow-In-The-Dark record! There are 100 of these sets. There is a special button below for ordering the “Glow-In-The-Dark Set”. All domestic orders are sent media mail with delivery confirmation while International orders are sent airmail.

The Mudda Fudda jacket has UV spot gloss highlights while the record itself comes in two outer space vinyl configurations: Nova and Nebula, both a blend of opaque and translucent colors in addition to haze and splatter mixtures for out-of-this-world visual effects, limited to 500 copies (250 of each color).

Mudda Side
1. Intro (There is Hope)
2. Waterhead
3. Forgotten Memories
4. Individual Sky Cruiser Theory
5. Disconnected
6. Accordingly

Fudda Side
1. Punk Ass Fuck
2. Standby Exciter
3. Mardi Gras
4. Stoner Rock Rules
5. Zazoom
6. Gentle Grace

http://www.lasthurrahrecords.com/earthlings-preorder.html
https://www.facebook.com/earthlings-126518660260/
http://www.earthlingsinfo.com/

earthlings?, “Triumphant March of the Buffons”

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What to Do in Costa Mesa on a Thursday

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 16th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Wish I could say I’d see you there, but I’m basically just posting the flier below in case anyone in that area wants to go (The Obelisk is huge in L.A.), and because I like the art, which unless I’m mistaken, is by $killit. Good stuff, in any case. And if you do want to go, don’t forget to RSVP:

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eBay Rides Again: earthlings? and My Part in Economic Recovery

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

It may not be $789 billion, but newly employed as of today, I’ve already begun to help the struggling US economy by See? He's giving me the thumbs up! He wants me to buy more!spending the money I haven’t yet started making. In my regular eBay carousing, I stumbled across two earthlings? Man’s Ruin promos (one for Human Beans and one for the self-titled) with the apparently irresistible price of $4.99 each — plus shipping, of course — and felt called to the patriotic duty of buying both. President Obama would want it that way.

But even if buying earthlings? and Human Beans didn’t make me a better American — and that’s not an admission that the whole jingo thing is just an excuse for spending money I don’t have, don’t get me wrong — I’m not sure if I would have been able to resist them anyway. Aside from having Pete Stahl (Goatsnake) crooning away on vocals, there’s Fred Frake (co-owner of Rancho de la Luna), Scott Reeder (Kyuss, Goatsnake), Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age) and a ton of other people playing on these records. Who could say no?

Plus, these are the promos, as in “not for sale,” which means that while this dude can get away with charging $30 for the self-titled alone, that album was in a store somewhere. The promo never was. Much rarer at a fraction of the price. I’d be a fool not to buy it!

And the other one too. I’d be a fool not to buy both of them.

After the jump you can read the awesome promo labels from both albums. Hail the desert and writers of witty band biographies. Also be sure to check out the earthlings? site, because they have a new EP for sale.

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