The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 31

Posted in Radio on April 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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The theme for this episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio is pretty straightforward if you listen. It’s comfort songs. You would not necessarily believe that of a playlist that opens with Total Fucking Destruction doing the title-track of an album called To Be Alive at the End of the World, but again, once you listen, it’s actually kind of soothing. There’s a fair amount of instrumental material included, led off by Yawning Man, and I think the part with Vinnum Sabbathi and Forming the Void is probably as heavy as it gets, though that new Elephant Tree track certainly has some roll to it. God damn that’s a good song, not that that’s a huge surprise from those guys.

I haven’t cut the voice breaks for it yet but will do so sometime before this is posted, but I intend to talk a bit about the Om song and my association with their early work and seeing them at SXSW for what I think might’ve been the first time. It was a while ago and it’s hard to remember for a few reasons, but anyway, if I can remember it between typing this and speaking that, I hope to speak to it a bit, because I know that’s not their most soothing stuff by a long shot, but the memory I have of it puts it in that framework for me. Closing with YOB’s “Marrow” was, of course, a given.

Thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy, and if you see this and don’t listen, then thanks for reading. If you’re not reading, well, you’ll never know you were being thanked.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.03.20

Total Fucking Destruction To be Alive at the End of the World To be Alive at the End of the World*
Yawning Man I Make Weird Choices Macedonian Lines
Acid King Center of Everywhere Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Colour Haze Peace, Brothers and Sisters! Colour Haze
BREAK
Pretty Lightning Boogie at the Shrine Jangle Bowls*
Elephant Tree Bird Habits*
Charivari Lotus Eater Descent*
Tia Carrera Layback Tried and True*
Vinnum Sabbathi Quantum Determinism Of Dimensions & Theories*
Forming the Void Manifest Reverie*
BREAK
Om Annapurna Variations on a Theme
YOB Marrow Clearing the Path to Ascend

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is April 20 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Elephant Tree Post “Bird” Video from Habits LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Elephant Tree

From a lyrical standpoint, this might be the most beautiful track on Elephant Tree‘s upcoming second album, Habits. “Bird” tells an out-the-window-perspective story of a sparrow in winter trying to fly high enough to get over the clouds and feel the sun’s warmth, and with lines like “Everything that rises must converge,” and the chorus of, “Fly, rising/Die trying,” accompanied by lush, serene keys, it is a special piece right up to its winding, heavy finish, not the least for its stand-in as a metaphor for parenting. The London-based four-piece were playing it live as early as Fall 2018, and along with the prior-single “Sails” (posted here), it is a standout from Habits even as it plays a larger role in the record’s overarching flow.

Habits is out April 24 through Holy Roar Records and Deathwish Inc., and I have a review set to go up on Monday, April 13, with a track premiere that the band were gracious enough to allow me to host (despite at this point needing press from the likes of me like they need a hole in their head). With that to come, I’ll hold of heaping further praise on the album’s various nuances and heavy/melodic blend and just be glad for the arrival of the video for “Bird” as another excuse to put Habits on this morning. I didn’t really need one, but I’m grateful just the same. I’ll probably spend a decent portion of the day with it on, and no regrets.

There’s some performance footage spliced in here amid the visual effects. You’ll see Pete in his The Young Ones t-shirt, which he’s worn the last two times I’ve seen the band — at this point I hope he has more than one for when this one wears through — and Sam behind the drums, and Jack and John and Pete sharing vocal duties. They’re in there somewhere.

Anyway, enjoy. That’s the point of this whole thing. Enjoy it.

Do that:

Elephant Tree, “Bird” official video

London-based prog-psych-doom artisans ELEPHANT TREE have streamed their new single/video ‘Bird’, taken from their highly-anticipated third album Habits, after four years of honing their sound on the international live circuit.

In the words of the band: “‘Bird’ is about having and raising a child, the innocence and fragility of the child in a sometimes hostile and difficult world. You hope to do right by them but know from experience that fairness is not guaranteed.”

Released April 24th via Holy Roar Records / Deathwish Inc., you can pre-order Habits here: http://smarturl.it/elephanttree

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 27

Posted in Radio on January 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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As I sit and type this, I just recorded (on my phone, because professionalism!) the voice tracks for this episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio, and in the first of them I tried and probably failed to explain that the show’s moving. Instead of every other week on Friday at 1PM Eastern (which it is now), it’s going to be every week, Friday 5PM Eastern. New episodes will still be every other week, but it’s a dedicated spot to The Obelisk Show and that’s that. The Sunday replays will still air. Bullet points:

– Starting Feb. 14.
– Airing every week, Friday 5PM, plus Sundays at 7PM
– New episodes every other week
– Listen to The Obelisk Show at Gimmeradio.com or on the app.
– Thank you

Probably should’ve written that out before I tried explaining it off the cuff on the show itself. So it goes.

There’s a ton of killer, killer, killer new music in this episode, so, you know, business as usual. I know I’m biased. Anyone who says they’re not is playing pretend. I was glad to include new Goblinsmoker here, which I haven’t had the chance to write about yet, as well as Insect ArkThe RiverGrandpa Jack and Godthrymm. Look out for a full stream of the OZO record next Tuesday, if you like what you hear in the title-cut.

Which, of course, I hope you do.

The Obelisk Show airs 1PM Eastern today at http://gimmeradio.com

Thanks if you check it out.

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 01.31.20

Lowrider Red River Refractions*
Elephant Tree Sails Habits*
Brant Bjork Jungle in the Sound Brant Bjork*
Big Scenic Nowhere Glim Visions Beyond Horizon*
BREAK
Orbiter Bone to Earth The Deluge*
Sleepwulf Misty Mountain Misty Mountain*
Grandpa Jack Imitation Trash Can Boogie*
Dirt Woman Lady of the Dunes The Glass Cliff*
BREAK
Goblinsmoker Let Them Rot A Throne in Haze, a World Ablaze*
Insect Ark Philae The Vanishing*
The River Vessels Vessels into White Tides*
Deathwhite Further From Salvation Grave Image*
Godthrymm The Sea as My Grave Reflections*
BREAK
SEA Dust Impermanence*
OZO Saturn Saturn*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Feb. 14. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Freak Valley 2020: Stoned Jesus, Pontiak, Elephant Tree, Daily Thompson, Psychlona and Supersonic Blues Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

freak valley 2020 third announcement header

This is a good one, and I’m not just saying that because I wrote the announcement you can read below. If you find a typo, let me know. In any case, Freak Valley 2020 keeps the thread moving with its next batch of lineup adds, getting bigger and better is the way of such things. If all goes according my plans between now and then — sorry, but until I’m there, nothing’s a sure bet; plans change, fests decide I suck, customs agents decide my passport photo looks too much like someone else to let me through (has happened), planes crash, I accidentally get on a train to Switzerland, etc. — this will be my first year at Freak Valley Festival in Siegen, Germany, and the prospect of seeing Stoned Jesus for the first time ever is a big part of that. You think they’ll let me take pics from the stage? What about Elephant Tree? I’ve spend years staring at photos and videos from this fest. I’m only growing more excited at even the potential I’ll experience it for myself.

As I said, I wrote this announcement, and even apart from the two names above, it’s awesome. Pontiak rule and I’ll be more than thrilled to see Supersonic Blues again as they continue to work toward their inevitable debut album. New stuff coming from Daily Thompson too and Psychlona to boot, and yeah, it’s a winner. I can’t wait to get over there.

Here’s the digs for digging, straight from my own Word doc:

freak valley 2020 third announcement poster

Greetings Freaks!

We hope your 2020 is off to an incredible start. While the rest of the universe was on holiday, we’ve continued to diligently plug away at bringing you the biggest and best Freak Valley yet this June, and to that end that we’re thrilled to present the next round of lineup adds with six more bands!

Please welcome Stoned Jesus, Pontiak, Elephant Tree, Daily Thompson, Psychlona, and Supersonic Blues!

STONED JESUS

Fourteen and a half million (and counting!) YouTube views can’t be wrong when it comes to Ukrainian heavy rockers Stoned Jesus, but what we really love about the Kyiv trio is their refusal to compromise their sound or ever stop moving forward. Every record they do is a progressive step in the direction they’re defining for themselves, and while 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar might be a landmark for so many, we loved 2018’s Pilgrims with its spirit of thoughtful protest and song-construction. Last year they gathered up old demos for release through Napalm Records as From the Outer Space, but it’s what’s coming next from Stoned Jesus that has us most excited. We can’t wait to find out what that is when they join us at Freak Valley 2020!

PONTIAK

If the sheer thought of seeing Pontiak live on the Freak Valley stage doesn’t send chills up your spine, go back and listen again to 2017’s Dialectic of Ignorance. Really, do it. The Virginian three-piece of brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney bring washes of psychedelic classicism and inimitable presence of harmonies to their aural conversation, and amid welcoming tones and visions of rolling Appalachian foothills, they lace an underlying urgency of expression and tone to cuts like “Ignorance Makes Me High” and “We’ve Fucked This Up” that is unquestionably of this chaotic moment. Freakouts to come, and all the better.

ELEPHANT TREE

As we bring London now-four-piece Elephant Tree to Freak Valley, they stand ready to make their debut on Holy Roar Records with their Habits LP on April 24. They recently unveiled the lead single from their new album — their second overall — in the form of a video for “Sails,” and proved once more that there’s nothing like making a great first impression. The whole record brings progressive and psychedelic edge to the warm tones and welcoming grooves one found on their 2016 self-titled debut, upping the complexity of songwriting, instrumental and vocal melody/harmony, while sacrificing neither song nor impact to do so. We can’t wait to hear them play this stuff in-person.

DAILY THOMPSON

Dortmund fuzzbringers are set to finish recording their fourth long-player in early March and they’ve already announced a slew of tour dates to begin almost immediately thereafter. The three-piece harness the unhinged spirit of classic heavy rock without giving in to vintage-style aesthetics, and the result is a now-and-then blend that they’re able to mess with how they see fit, tapping inspiration from past and present to craft a future vision of heavy rock that, frankly, still has us locked into 2018’s third full-length, Thirsty, even as we look forward to hearing how they’ve continued to progress with the new one. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for new-album news. Hey guys (and gal), got any demos you feel like sharing?

PSYCHLONA

There are a few things everyone can agree on, and we here at Freak Valley like to think riffs and kebabs are right up there with the best life has to offer. Tucked away north of Leeds in Bradford, UK, Psychlona unleashed their debut album, Mojo Rising, through Ripple Music and Cursed Tongue Records in 2018 and had us hooked from the opening roll of “Stone” onward. With tone and groove likewise meaty, the four-piece’s up-from-the-depths-of-the-mix vocals added spaciousness to already plenty plus-sized feeling bangers like “Down in the Valley” and though they’re far out from the crowded London scene, they’re also just plain old far out, and that’s just fine by us. We’re happy to introduce our beloved rock freaks to Psychlona at Freak Valley.

SUPERSONIC BLUES

With their sound rooted in the classic style of the heavy ‘70s, Den Haag three-piece Supersonic Blues bring an unpretentious warmth and electricity to their sound that is infectious. You watch them on stage and know they’re having a good time too, and so their set becomes more like a party and everyone’s invited to come in, hang out, enjoy, get crazy or don’t, but find their thing and do that thing. Last we heard the trio were mixing their debut full-length follow two ultra-righteous Guy Tavares-recorded two-songer singles/EPs, and if they’ve got new songs, you bet we’ll be right there in front as they hit stage at Freak Valley for the first time. Don’t sleep on this band.

More to come!

FREAK VALLEY 2020
No Fillers – Just Killers

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Elephant Tree to Release Habits April 24; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Elephant Tree at Saint Vitus Bar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If I can be honest for a second here, I don’t even want to start talking about Elephant Tree‘s new album, Habits, yet because I know that if I do I won’t be able to stop. Let me say this, I know we’re early in the year, but they’ve made their candidacy for the best album of 2020 known, and in following up their 2016 self-titled debut (review here), they’ve blown the doors down in terms of sonic expansion. The new record is more psychedelic, heavier in places, and more progressive on the whole in terms of its sense of craft and clarity of intention. If you are madly anticipating its arrival, you are correct.

I’ll stop there and of course there will be more to come as we get closer to the release, but as the London four-piece unveil the first album details, cover art, tracklisting and video — as well as the preorder link; just go ahead and get it done — I felt it necessary to chime in. All that potential they showed on their first record is starting to come to fruition. I’m your friend out here and I’m telling you: don’t miss out.

Fresh off the PR wire:

elephant tree habits

Prog-psych-doom rockers ELEPHANT TREE announce new album and stream new single

Habits released April 24th via Holy Roar Records

‘Sails’ streaming now

London-based prog-psych-doom artisans ELEPHANT TREE have announced their highly-anticipated third album Habits, after four years of honing their sound on the international live circuit.

Released April 24th via Holy Roar Records, you can pre-order Habits here: http://smarturl.it/elephanttree

The champions of the underground have delivered perhaps their most cohesive record yet, a scintillating blur of prog, stoner, psych, and melodic heavy rock. Opening on a hazy note of foreboding dread on ‘Wake.Repeat (Intro)’, the band explode into life soon after and rarely let up.

Every aspect of ELEPHANT TREE’s previously established sound has been amplified to 11 and fine-tuned to perfection. Their heavy, driving, grooves hold a more calculated rhythmic swing counterbalanced with leads that hold a soberingly clear gentleness. This is all tied together with vocals that possess a charming hedonism to their timbre, sure to win over legions more fans.

Elements of a heavy Pink Floyd, Melvins, and Deftones all combine with exhilarating effect, cementing the status of this group who have already sold tens of thousands of records and streams into the millions.

The union of sonic density and yearning is captured wonderfully, thanks in no small part to the band’s production choice of The Church Studios, famed for the sounds of U2, Nick Cave, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Adele amongst others.

If the sound of Kyuss and Smashing Pumpkins partying with Hunter S. Thompson and Cult Of Luna in an arena sounds like a good time, then this is the album for you. If there’s any justice, 2020 will be the year ELEPHANT TREE bloom out of best kept underground secret into a household name.

Tracklisting:
1. Wake.Repeat (Intro)
2. Sails
3. Faceless
4. Exit The Soul
5. The Fall Chorus
6. Bird
7. Wasted
8. Broken Nails

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Live Review: Magnetic Eye Records Day of Doom in Brooklyn, 11.02.19

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

magnetic eye records day of doom poster

Before the Show

Well, don’t tell anybody, but the dude sitting at the end of the bar DJ’ing is me. Actually, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I don’t care if you tell anybody. At this point, I know most of the seven or eight people in this room right now. But I made a playlist, edited it together so it all plays as one track, and it’s three hours long — like the old podcasts, including a really long song or two along the way — but that’s going, so as far as I’m concerned, sitting here on my laptop is why they asked me to come early. The rest is kind of just waiting around, so at least this way I can look like I’m doing something.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing the review while the show is happening — I’m not committing to posting any of it live, since I’ve never done photos on this machine before when I’m actually in a hurry — but it’s 15-minute breaks between bands, DAY OF DOOM SCHEDULEso it’s going to depend on how I can time it either way. The important thing? That I stress out about it. Obviously.

And oh yeah, I included Earthride on my playlist specifically with the Saint Vitus Bar in mind, because they often play them between bands. My nod to the room. No one cares, but I wouldn’t expect otherwise, so there it is.

This is the Magnetic Eye Records Day of Doom, a nine-band label showcase that will go from at least now — coming on 1:30 — to 10:30 tonight, so yes, a full day of doom, as it were. At very least, if today had a quota of heavy, I suspect it’ll be filled by the end of it and then some.

But we enter now the sit-tight portion of the afternoon, so that’s my plan. Will check in with more either during or after it’s all over.

During the Show

These Beasts

these beasts (photo by jj koczan)

One would not accuse Magnetic Eye Records of easing into the day with These Beasts. Rather, the Chicago three-piece are at this very moment bludgeoning a Vitus Bar live room with an ultra-aggro, thickened noise rock that’s only sense of letting up is in letting up on the letup. By which I mean there is none. It’s somewhat awkward to be sitting here while they’re playing and admit I don’t know their self-titled LP, released earlier this year, but they’re showing me the error of my ways in pummeling fashion. Can hear punk roots coming through amid the intertwining screams and shouts, but there’s a definite heft to the tone and some vocal echo adds atmosphere to go with all that heads-down force. But there’s plenty of that too and it’s the sheer physicality of what they’re playing that’s letting them pull in such an early crowd. To wit, I’m one of like three people in the back bar right now and I’m about to head back in. Clearly they’re doing something right in there.

Leather Lung

Leather Lung (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been weeks, not months, not years — more than days, though — since I last saw Boston’s Leather Lung. Last time? Dudes brought stoner-sludge chicanery to Ode to Doom in Manhattan (review here). This time? The location has changed, but the mission not so much. Vocalist Mike Vickers has had the cast taken off his arm and judging by his onstage mosh-shuffle, all seems to be in good working order, so that’s my official medical checkup, but beyond that, they’re bringing a groove that’s plenty fresh in my memory; sludge played from the heart via the crotch that makes no bones about where it’s coming from — Boston — and no bones about its affection for all manner of inebriating. Their groove has this toughguy edge to it that I can’t quite put my finger on and couldn’t last time either, but I don’t think these dudes want to fight so much as they want to get fucked up and play riffs. Like I said, the mission hasn’t changed much since I last saw them. I’ll check back on them in a bit and hope for no more busted limbs from them or anyone else in attendance, for that matter. “It’s all fun and games, until,” and so on.

High Priest

High Priest (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Chicago’s High Priest issued their Sanctum EP (review here) earlier this year and it was kind of a sleeper, but they were high (pun like 25 percent intended) among my list of anticipated acts for the day. Nothing too complex, but they roll out big-time riffs and dig into some hazy vibes and especially after the nasty nasty nastiness that was These Beasts and Leather Lung back to back, they’re a chance to show off some of the stylistic breadth on Magnetic Eye‘s roster. The kind of label as likely to redux Pink Floyd as Helmet, you know. They’d be a fitting complement to a tour with Elephant Tree, if we’re doing label pairings, but I guess probably there needs to be an album out before one starts nailing down dates. We’re in November now, so kind of fair to look back on some of the year’s highlights, and seeing High Priest live for the first time is a reminder of just how much I dug those tunes this past Spring. I’m apparently learning stuff all over the place today. Fun and educational! They also finished by dissolving into a total wash of noise that was affecting and psychedelic in kind. A pleasure to watch. Can’t say it plainer than that.

Caustic Casanova

Caustic Casanova (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Of the nine bands on this bill, I’m pretty sure Caustic Casanova win the prize for having the most recent release. Their new record, God How I Envy the Deaf, came out on Oct. 18 as their first through Magnetic Eye and they’re playing Vitus Bar as a precursor to hitting the road on the next of their seemingly endless string of tours. This is also the first time I’m seeing them as the four-piece of drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker, bassist/vocalist Francis Beringer, and guitarists Andrew Yonki and Jake Kimberley, the last of whom is a new recruit. For a band on the road as much as they are, I have to imagine finding someone to mesh with wasn’t easy — Caustic Casanova‘s particular take on melodic heavy rock is a big-time beneficiary of the chemistry they’ve built through touring — but they did it, and the match extends to onstage energy, to be sure. How many bands could cover “Wicked World” and make it sound believable? Caustic Casanova played it like they wrote it, and their original material was no less vital. I’ll make it easy: this is a band you should see. They make it even easier by touring their collective ass off, but even if they didn’t, they’d be worth the effort of showing up when possible. Magnetic Eye made a good-ass pickup when they signed them.

Ghastly Sound

Ghastly Sound (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Rivaling Caustic Casanova in the running for most-recent-outing is Vermont trio Ghastly Sound, whose debut full-length, Have a Nice Day, dropped like a sarcastic anvil in September. This was my first time seeing the three-piece, but it’s worth noting they primo position on the bill they’ve received, and I’ll admit that because of that alone, my expectations were high before they went on. Is this the part where I say the band slaughtered those expectations outright, blah blah blah dominance, blah blah blah heavy band destroys minds reaps souls and all the rest? Well, my mind feels pretty destroyed and if I ever had a soul — nope — it’s long gone, but yeah, they delivered in a big spot, taking crossover-style hardcore and leaving the guitar at home, adding melody through vocal effects and reviving a bit of the aggression from earlier in the day. The way they were set up on the Saint Vitus Bar stage made me think there was a guitarist somewhere missing in the building, but nope, and it turned out they didn’t need one, though one hesitates to say such things on a day that has featured thus far and will continue to feature so much choice riffing. A little — or a lot, as in this case — of rumble goes a long way. Also with the shouting and the being really loud. No question the pressure was on, and I know their record was a while in coming, but if I didn’t know they’d just released their debut, I’d say they’d been around much longer.

Horsehunter

Horsehunter (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Okay. Putting together a nine-band bill? Pretty impressive. Doing so and bringing in bands from the UK and Europe? Even more impressive. Doing so and bringing a band from Australia? And that band is Horsehunter? Who I don’t think are really even together at this point? Yeah, that’s some next level shit. The Aus megasludge four-piece put out their self-titled second album (discussed here) and swansong earlier this year — like, earlier than September — and had already been busted up for two years. Should they be broken up? No, they should not. Even if one could manage to put aside the context of seeing them play even just for 45 minutes as being a total once-in-a-lifetime experience, a group of the Melbourne four-piece’s destructive potential should continue to exist. If they were the only band playing today, it would still be a Day of Doom, and in volume and viscosity alike, they’re on a plane of their own amid this lineup. I don’t know what the future might hold for them, as members have already moved onto different projects, but I have to think that if a band is willing to get together and travel to the other side of the planet to play essentially a one-off gig, they’d have to feel motivated to maybe follow that up with something? Or maybe this would be a pinnacle anyway? I don’t know. Either way, it’s clearly a special moment for all involved parties — those in attendance, those playing, and the Magnetic Eye crew, who believed in them enough to release the record even though they were done — and I’m lucky to have been here for it. Biggest big rock finish of the day as well, so bonus points there, as if they needed them.

Domkraft

Domkraft (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This is my second time seeing Sweden’s Domkraft after being fortunate enough to catch them about 13 months ago in Oslo, Norway, at Høstsabbat (review here). They were at that point heralding the release of their second album, Flood (review here), and as they got ready to go on just now I thought back fondly to the positive impression they made that day, blending noise rock, sludge and an almost post-metallic kind of ambience. That’s a fun little narrative, right? Sure it is. Lost in that, however, is the rhythmic undulation of that nod, but man, when they decide to lock that in — and they don’t always, because they’re not a do-one-thing kind of band — they are hypnotic. They had their work cut out for them in following Horsehunter, as anyone would, but guitarist Martin Widholm, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland and drummer Anders Dahlgren captured a feeling of spaciousness that seemed to take all the crush of the mighty performance before them and taffy-pull it into a headier, spacier reach, still deeply weighted, still giving that feeling of surrounding you while you’re standing there in front of it, but at the same time extending outward beyond you, beyond the room — maybe just beyond, period. They’ve been to the States before, having played Psycho Las Vegas, and I guess you could count the show they did last night in Jersey with Solace too, but they feel like a band who are really stepping into themselves, and the identity they’re finding as a part of that process suits them. I’m already looking forward to their next record, and far be it from me to tell you how to live your life, but you probably should be too.

Summoner

Summoner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If you know anything about Magnetic Eye Records, or label founder Mike Vitali (also Black Electric, Ironweed, ex-Greatdayforup, etc.), it’s probably that the label frickin’ loves Boston’s Summoner. I’ve seen them live a handful of times over the years, certainly dug the crap out of 2017’s Beyond the Realms of Light (review here) as I have their material since their days a decade ago operating as Riff Cannon — a name they quickly outgrew and were smart enough to realize it, even though it was a cool moniker to have — and it’s hard to argue. I knew accordingly what to expect going into their set, at least to a degree, but with the recent change that brought Worshipper‘s Dave Jarvis to the lineup on drums — I’m not sure if it’s a permanent or temporary thing; dude was sitting next to me like 15 minutes ago, I should’ve asked — there was an added sense of intrigue to seeing them for what was the first time in a while anyway. However, part of knowing what Summoner do is knowing they do it pro-shop, and as their slot found them positioned right before Elephant Tree at the end of the show, they had an occasion to rise to and they rose to it accordingly, Jarvis sliding right in alongside bassist/vocalist Chris Johnson and guitarists A.J. Peters and Joe Richner, on familiar material while still bringing some of his own swing to it. You won’t hear me disparage the work of Summoner as they were, but if they’re indeed pressing on in this configuration, they’ll be just fine. When Johnson stops smiling on stage, I’ll worry. Didn’t happen at Day of Doom, even after the strap of his bass broke and he had to finish the song with it resting on his knee. That was like two songs in, maybe? No loss of momentum. Pro-shop, front to back.

Elephant Tree

Elephant Tree (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elephant Tree‘s second full-length, which will actually be released by Holy Roar Records at least in the UK — I admit there might be some regional deal worked out with Magnetic Eye that I don’t know about — is reportedly in the mastering stage. At least, that’s what they told me and I’m not sure what would be their motive for lying about it. Last I heard were a couple rough mixes, but that was a while ago, and I’m all-the-way-serious when I tell you that I can’t think of another record that’s been announced for 2020 that I’m anticipating more. The Londoners’ 2016 self-titled debut (review here) has lost none of its appeal for the subsequent three years — just ask Sister Rainbow, who flew from the UK for this show basically just to see them for what I understand is at least the 48th time — and with the progression I heard evident in their performance (again) at Høstsabbat 2018 (review here) and those rough versions, yeah, I feel justified in my high hopes. It wouldn’t have made sense for them to come to Brooklyn and play only new stuff, but as noted, even the cuts from their self-titled were welcome. The fact that even after such a full show they were given a complete hour for their set should tell you something, and basically it should tell you they’re a band just waiting for your loyalty. See them 49 times? Well, I’m up to at least three now and I feel like that’s barely worth calling a start. Also of note, they’re a four-piece now, with John Slattery on guitar and keys and vocals joining the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley, bassist/vocalist Peter Holland (of the green strings) and drummer Sam Hart, so that’s all the more of an occasion for their primo stage banter. They’ve just hit into “Aphotic Blues,” if you’ll excuse me… Yeah, that’s an earplugs-out moment not to be missed. And to have them then follow it by bringing album-engineer/multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/he’s-kinda-in-the-band-but-not-really-anymore-except-I-guess-sometimes-like-tonight Riley “The Wizard” MacIntyre on stage first to scream like mad, then to take over Townley‘s guitar for “Wither” only highlighted how incredible this day has been. What a trip. It’s not over. I mean, it’s mostly over, but they’ve got about 10 minutes left, so I’m going to stow the computer and get back to what’s important and get up front for the end, which is where it feels like I should be.

After the Show

Just past 12:30AM. I left the Saint Vitus Bar at I guess around 10:45PM and got back here a little bit ago, cursing the name of the tech giant whose mappery failed yet again to take into account Lincoln Tunnel traffic in its calculations. Next time, I take the FDR unless it’s visibly on fire.

Elephant Tree finished with their slowed-down take on Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” which given the Brooklyn setting found Holland’s gruffer vocal reminding all the more of Peter Steele from Type O Negative (green strings may have been a factor there as well), and followed that with a new song called “Bird,” the harmonies of which are particularly gorgeous and lush seeming. Mike Vitali Magnetic Eye Records (Photo by JJ Koczan)I can’t wait to hear that album.

Basically I’m keying down from the show, and there was a lot of show to key up. Kind of striking how even the bands whose sounds had common elements were able to stand themselves apart. That was true the whole time. And I stayed the whole time. And I wound up running the playlist the whole time as well, at least until Elephant Tree were done. So I guess that’s a thing. I DJed the show. Wasn’t planned, but I was plugged in and using my laptop anyway, so there you have it. I dug the tunes, anyway. Hopefully I wasn’t the only one.

Thanks to Mike Vitali and to Jadd Shickler for having me on board for that and for putting the thing together generally. This was a pretty astounding feat when it comes to coordination, and those efforts on their behalf were deeply appreciated. Vitali got on stage before Horsehunter went on to thank everybody and it was plain to see it was an emotional night for him as well. It would have to be, frankly.

Thanks to the bands, to everyone who said hi and/or nice things, and thanks to you for reading. Most of all, thanks to The Patient Mrs., who made my being there possible, and who makes pretty much everything that’s possible possible.

Now off to bed.

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Elephant Tree Sign to Holy Roar Records; New Album News Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I don’t want to make it out like I was stalking the Elephant Tree studio process a couple months back when the London band was recording with Riley MacIntyre at the helm, at least occasionally dressed like a wizard, but they certainly made it worth keeping up. The announcement that the four-piece will issue the recording on question with Holy Roar Records is also most certainly progress toward the inevitable release, which one expects will be revealed as being sometime early next year, perhaps ahead of or to coincide with the Spring festival season in Europe. Though if they wanted to make it February, I wouldn’t argue with that either. Frankly, the sooner the better.

This weekend, the Londoners play a co-headlining hometown date with Steak and a fest in Sheffield, and both of those shows come ahead of their impending tour with Steak and Lo-Pan, which in turn is before they return to the States to play Brooklyn for what’s been appointed the Day of Doom and is presented by Magnetic Eye Records, who also put out their 2016 self-titled debut (review here).

Congrats to the band on the signing, and if I haven’t made it plain, I’m very much looking forward to the album when it surfaces.

Here’s their announcement:

elephant tree holy roar

We are happy to announce that we have signed to Holy Roar Records Expect some news on new music soon!

We’re thrilled to be bringing Elephant Tree back to home soil. Holy Roar have shown themselves to be passionate about the music they release and it’s an honor to count ourselves as part of their roster. They’re also close enough to make meetings a valid excuse for pints!

Elephant Tree w/ Steak & Lo-Pan:
26.09.19 The Underworld | London (UK)
27.09.19 Psyched Stoned and Doomed 2 | Sheffield (UK)
04.10.19 Paris | Gibus (FR)
05.10.19 Pratteln | Up In Smoke Festival (CH)
06.10.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
08.10.19 Linz | Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
09.10.19 Freiburg | Slow Club (DE)
10.10.19 Leipzig | Werk2 (DE)
11.10.19 Berlin | Setalight Festival (DE)
12.10.19 Munich | Keep it Low Festival (DE)
14.10.19 Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (DE)
15.10.19 Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
16.10.19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (DE)
17.10.19 Bremen | Zollkantine (DE)
18.10.19 TBA | Desertfest Belgium

Elephant Tree live:
Nov. 2 Saint Vitus Bar Brooklyn NY Magnetic Eye Records Day of Doom
Nov. 8 Soulstone Gathering Krakow PL

https://www.facebook.com/elephanttreeband
http://instagram.com/elephant_tree_band
https://elephanttree.band
http://www.holyroarrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/holyroarrecords/

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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Magnetic Eye Records Announces Label Showcase with Horsehunter, Elephant Tree, Domkraft, Summoner & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Clearly, Magnetic Eye Records is not into half-measures. Any label can put together a tribute. When Magnetic Eye does it, it’s two sprawling collections of bands playing homage to landmark albums and artists’ greatest hits. Any label can put together a showcase. When Magnetic Eye does it, they fly in three international acts, from Australia, the UK and Sweden, to round out the bill. Do you have any idea how insane that is?

It’s quite insane.

They’ve got a Kickstarter up now, as they will, and as rewards for backers they’re letting you preorder which set you’d like to have the recorded version of, because of course they’re also recording the sets. Seriously?

To do otherwise would be a half-measure.

They’re calling it ‘The Day of Doom,’ and in addition to HorsehunterElephant Tree, and Domkraft, they’ll have SummonerLeather LungGhastly SoundHigh PriestCaustic Casanova and These Beasts on the bill. Nine bands at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn on Nov. 2.

Quite insane. Just enough to work:

magnetic eye showcase banner

MAGNETIC EYE RECORDS presents its first ever live label showcase at the legendary Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn this November 2nd!

Check out the Kickstarter to help us make the Day of Doom truly epic and get in on the exclusive live album releases from MER’s flagship bands.

Sure, it’s summer right now, but have you looked around? Seas are rising, animal populations are shrinking, Scott Stapp has a new album, dogs and cats are living together… it’s mass hysteria.

Not the types to fly in the face of impending Armageddon, Magnetic Eye thought we’d expedite the end times by officially declaring our own DAY OF DOOM on November 2nd of this year as the date of our first-ever live label showcase.

Where?

The Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York. Where the hell else?

Who?

No less than nine crushing Magnetic Eye roster bands, headlined by our four flagship acts that have helped shape and define the core of the MER sound:

Summoner
Horsehunter
Domkraft
Elephant Tree

What does this mean for you?

Two things:

1. If you’re anywhere near the New York area (or even if you’re not), you’re going to want to make the pilgrimage to this show. With our biggest and heaviest acts flying in from all over the world, it’s probably no stretch to say we have no idea when or if this will ever happen again. Tickets will be on sale soon directly via the Saint Vitus Bar, and we’ll of course let you know where to get them.

2. Whether you can make this incredible convergence in person or not, you can share in the experience. Magnetic Eye will be recording the four headline bands at Day of Doom for an exclusive set of live album releases, and you can support helping get the bands here for the event and reserve your live records now by jumping on board the Kickstarter for the project at this location.

Look, we’d love to have all of you there with us. But we know it’s not possible for some to make the trip, and we understand. Hell, it wasn’t possible for most of us to attend Woodstock, but at least we have the soundtrack, right?

Check out our Kickstarter now to lock down your exclusive editions of Elephant Tree, Domkraft, Summoner and Horsehunter Live at the Day of Doom New York. It’s going to be absolutely unforgettable. And thanks to these records, you’ll always remember.

http://store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Leather Lung, Lonesome, On’ry & Evil (2019)

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