The duo Wino & Conny Ochs released their second album, Freedom Conspiracy (review here), on Exile on Mainstream at the end of March, and it’s still pretty fresh in mind in terms of the feeling of growth within the collaboration, the uptick in production value and of course the on-point individual performances and more meshed feel of how they work together in each song, but I thought for this week’s Wino Wednesday it might be worth dipping back a couple years to the start of the collaboration between these two very different entities.
To look at them on stage — Wino covered in tattoos with his hair down his back, holding a massive acoustic guitar and periodically kicking into a full-on fuzztone even “unplugged,” and Ochs exuding more traditional singer-songwriter sensibilities, resonating as much emotionally as with his stellar vocals — and they seem like a pretty unlikely pair. Like the rock and roll version of an old sitcom. It’s not until you actually hear it that you realize how well it actually works, that odd-couple melding. Their first album, 2012’s Heavy Kingdom (review here), surprised already with its fluidity. Ochs being the more experienced of the two players in the form, his evident comfort level was maybe less of a surprise, but Wino only had one acoustic solo album out — 2010’s Adrift (review here), still his only one to-date — and he was immediately at home in the two-piece. As they proved on Freedom Conspiracy, that would be even more the case the second time around.
Like I said, for this week, we’re dipping back to 2012, closer to their starting out. This cover of Joy Division‘s “Isolation” was filmed March 5, 2012, in Mutišov, the Czech Republic, and as right on as the audio is, I also picked it for the quality of the video itself, which puts you right in the crowd and captures well the intimate vibe of watching these two play. As always, I hope you enjoy:
Wino & Conny Ochs, “Isolation” Live in Mutišov, Czech Republic, March 5, 2012
Posted in audiObelisk on March 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Like its 2012 predecessor, Heavy Kingdom (review here), the sophomore collaboration between Scott “Wino” Weinrich and German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, titled Freedom Conspiracy, is mostly acoustic but for a couple fuzzy flourishes and there are moments where one or the other of the two of them seems to be at the fore. What’s decidedly changed between the two records, however, is just how blurred those lines get. More than its predecessor, one can get a sense of the Wino & Conny Ochs joint songwriting process, of the joy of it. It’s accounted for in how often one accompanies the other vocally, as on “Foundation Chaos” or the title-track, the harmonies of which reap the benefits of the time Wino and Ochs put in on tour for the last album. A cut like “Time out Blackout” is still more Ochs and “Crystal Madonna” is mostly Wino in the verses, but that proportion is changing. Most of this material is theirs, rather than his or his.
“Crystal Madonna” is an older composition as well, and has been featured in live sets since 2012 (see here and here), but Freedom Conspiracy is all the more exciting for the cohesion between the two performers, for the shift from feeling their way through a new mode of expression to, from the sound of the slide-infused “Drain,” enjoying the renewed partnership. Toward the end of the album, they get downright anthemic, voices soaring with sing-along-worthy abandon throughout “Forever Gone” and “Invisible Bullets” — still drumless, but buzz-toned and as rocking as they get — before the more subdued duet “The Great Destroyer” closes out. There’s a strong bluesy presence, and a sense of brooding, and as tempting as it is to relate the former to Wino and the latter to Ochs, the album just makes it too hard to figure out who is adding what. Another sign of the collaboration’s strength. Cleaner in its production than the debut and leaving nothing behind of folk’s accessibility despite the emotional weight, Freedom Conspiracy is a rare feat, conveying what can at times be gritty or dark thematics with an aura of resonant joy.
The centerpiece of Wino & Conny Ochs‘ second full-length is a song called “Timeless Spirit.” It is a road-song, and its immediate chorus, definitive piano keystrokes, and dual-vocals make it a more than fitting example of what the two parties bring to the table throughout the album. Time-worn but more embracing a transient life than resigning to it, it prefaces some of side B’s grander moments and lives up to the spirit it describes, vital, and, yes, timeless. Like many of the best moments on the record, it has no reservations about inviting the listener to come along for the ride.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Timeless Spirit” for streaming ahead of Freedom Conspiracy‘s impending release date. Please find it below, and enjoy:
Wino & Conny Ochs will release Freedom Conspiracy on March 27 through Exile on Mainstream with US vinyl via Earsplit Distro. More info and preorders at the links below.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Exile on Mainstream and Earsplit Distro have made the second Wino & Conny Ochs full-length, Freedom Conspiracy, available to preorder. It’ll be out March 27 (or maybe March 31?), so if you’re waiting for payday, you’ve still got a minute, but Exile on Mainstream has a deal to get the latest Conny Ochs 7″ tossed in and Earsplit has the exclusive on vinyl for the US so it seemed worth noting one way or another. Not that I’ve heard it or anything, but the record is a gem.
Recorded again at Kabumm Studio with producer Thommy Krawallo, as was their Heavy Kingdom LP, the newest collection of ambitious, harrowing and beautiful music created by Wino & Conny Ochs not only brings forth the same quality of organically conceived folk/rock fans of the previous album should expect, it simply excels in every imaginable aspect. Bearing the title Freedom Conspiracy, the record was written and recorded entirely with Wino & Conny Ochs performing all instruments together, the approach slightly different from Heavy Kingdom as it has been created in a much more organic way with rudimentary ideas brought in by each and then carved into songs by both together. Fusing acoustic and electric guitars and with both artists’ standout vocal styles searing through these thirteen well-crafted brand new hymns, the initial recordings of the album date back to 2013, but even though the songs were done and recorded, these protagonists felt it had been rushed a bit in the end and final touches couldn’t be made with both together in the same room for reasons of other obligations. So it was put to rest and matured several months. In 2014 both went back in and basically stripped everything down to the bare bones, started from scratch, arranging the tracks differently and all of a sudden it clicked and brought forth forty-five minutes of some of the most refined, dynamic and unforgettable folk/rock music in years.
When asked what the album meant to the artists themselves, Conny Ochs states: “Freedom Conspiracy means companionship. It means to have each other’s back. This album is about losing and finding belief. And fighting for it.” Adds Wino on the album: “Shits changin’ fast. With war on every corner, political theatre becoming increasingly more offensive, and Big Brother and the Globalists intensifying their slow takeover, we offer sounds and vibrations of love, death, happiness and pain! With this music and verse we hope the songs will inspire and uplift, and hopefully unite our searching spirits.”
Freedom Conspiracy sees its glorious deliverance on CD, LP and digital download March 27th, 2015. Fans of Woodie Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, The Black Crowes, Scott Kelly, Mike Scheidt and the like should make sure this duo is on your radar.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’d ask you what has two thumbs and is very much looking forward to hearing what Wino & Conny Ochs have in store for their second collaborative record, Freedom Conspiracy, but I think you already know the punchline. The first Wino & Conny Ochs record, Heavy Kingdom(review here), was a joy, reveling in its own “Labour of Love” as the German singer-songwriter and the frontman of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, etc., each seemed to sincerely appreciate what the other was bringing to the duo. They’ve been talking about “the next record” more or less since the debut came out on Exile on Mainstream, and on March 31, the label will release Freedom Conspiracy with US vinyl exclusive to Earsplit Distro.
The PR wire tells the tale:
WINO & CONNY OCHS: Exile On Mainstream Confirms Details For Second Collaborative LP From Iconic Singer/Songwriter Duo
Earsplit Distro To Carry Vinyl Exclusively For The US
It is with extreme pleasure for Germany’s Exile On Mainstream to announce the label’s next priority release, with the second collaborative album by one of the most strikingly natural singer/songwriter duos of these troubled modern times, SCOTT “WINO” WEINRICH and CONNY OCHS.
To backtrack a bit, the union of these two gritty, passionate musicians took place in 2010, as American doom/rock legend, WINO (Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand) was touring Europe on his own first full solo album, Adrift, which had just been released by Exile On Mainstream. Simultaneously, contemporary German solo vocalist/guitarist, CONNY OCHS, was preparing to release his debut solo album, Raw Love Songs, through the same label which saw the two artists billed together on this European trek. From there, an instant bond was formed, both as musicians as well as just like-minded humans. Instantaneously, musical ideas formed within this new brotherhood, which quickly grew into a courageous collaborative full-length studio album entitled Heavy Kingdom, released by Exile On Mainstream in 2012. The album showcased the organic songwriting skills through an incredibly passionate delivery. Heavy Kingdom elevated both artists as top-notch contemporary singer/songwriters in the eyes of the media and fans alike, and saw the duo taking their songcraft to the road heavily across Europe as well as North America.
That was just the beginning, as, since Heavy Kingdom was just seeing release, the pair had already began talking about “what was to come” in reference to new material they’d began plotting together. The time is now, as the second chapter from WINO & CONNY OCHS has recently been completed, the project actually having remained virtually unannounced and taking place behind closed doors over the past few years. With the artists being based on two different continents and remaining busy with their own solo endeavors, an opportune time to convene for some songwriting time never arrived, and the pair began trading ideas via email. This was not something that at all brought forth the magic and mastery which took place the first time, and after months of writing, the idea was scrapped, and last year, WINO voyaged back to Berlin to rendezvous with OCHS.
Recorded again at Kabumm Studio with producer Thommy Krawallo, as was their Heavy Kingdom LP, the newest collection of ambitious, harrowing and beautiful music created by WINO & CONNY OCHS not only brings forth the same quality of organically conceived folk/rock fans of the previous album should expect, it simply excels in every imaginable aspect, and now awaits release in early 2015 through their trusted alliance with Exile On Mainstream. Bearing the title Freedom Conspiracy, the record was written and recorded entirely with WINO & CONNY OCHS performing all instruments together, the approach slightly different from Heavy Kingdom as it has been created in a much more organic way with rudimentary ideas brought in by each and then carved into songs by both together. Fusing acoustic and electric guitars and with both artists’ standout vocal styles searing through these thirteen well-crafted brand new hymns, the initial recordings of the album date back to over a year ago, but even though the songs were done and recorded, these protagonists felt it had been rushed a bit in the end and final touches couldn’t be made with both together in the same room for reasons of other obligations. So it was put to rest and matured several months. Earlier in 2014 both went back in and basically stripped everything down to the bare bones, started from scratch, arranging the tracks differently and all of a sudden it clicked and brought forth forty-five minutes of some of the most refined, dynamic and unforgettable folk/rock music in years.
When asked what the album meant to the artists themselves, CONNY OCHS states: “Freedom Conspiracy means companionship. It means to have each other’s back. This album is about losing and finding belief. And fighting for it.” Adds WINO on the album: “Shits changin’ fast. With war on every corner, political theatre becoming increasingly more offensive, and Big Brother and the Globalists intensifying their slow takeover, we offer sounds and vibrations of love, death, happiness and pain! With this music and verse we hope the songs will inspire and uplift, and hopefully unite our searching spirits.”
With cover art by WINO & CONNY OCHS, Freedom Conspiracy will see deliverance on CD, LP and digital download in the US on March 31st, 2015, both LP and CD versions to be available from Earsplit Distro for wholesale and retail purchase (the LP exclusively) The release will be followed by international touring from the duo to be announced throughout the year. Fans of Woodie Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, The Black Crowes, Scott Kelly, Mike Scheidt and the like should make sure this duo is on your radar.
Stand by for audio samples and further release/tour info from WINO & CONNY OCHS’ Freedom Conspiracy campaign all year.
Freedom Conspiracy Track Listing: 1. Drain 2. Sound Of Blue 3. Foundation Chaos 4. Crystal Madonna 5. Shards 6. Time Out Blackout 7. Timeless Spirit 8. Freedom Conspiracy 9. Dirt Floor 10. Heavy Heart 11. Forever Gone 12. Invisible Bullets 13. The Great Destroyer
Not exactly the most uplifting message ever put into a song, but Wino‘s take on Savoy Brown‘s “Shot in the Head” was nonetheless a highlight of the 2010 acoustic debut, Adrift. That record (review here) came out four years ago this month, and had its fair share of melancholy, with songs like “Whatever” and “Old and Alone,” but despite its foreboding title, “Shot in the Head” was actually more upbeat — frustration rather than depression — and its road-weary lyric fit Adrift‘s personality well, Wino taking the lines, “I’ve had enough of getting shot in the head/I’ve had enough and I wish I was dead,” and presenting them not with a downer woefulness, but something closer to the bluesy humor of the original.
The track opened Savoy Brown‘s 1972 full-length, Lion’s Share, which was the British outfit’s ninth album in six years. Understandable at that point why they might’ve “had enough,” but it’s worth noting that guitarist/vocalist/founder Kim Simmonds has toured and released music ever since, working with well over 60 musicians in various Savoy Brown lineups since starting out in 1967 — up to and including this year’s Goin’ to the Delta — so apparently he was still a ways off from his fill. Wino isn’t quite there in the number of people he’s worked with, though if you count both bands he’s been in and bands with whom he’s guested, he’s got to be over 40, but it’s plain enough to see a correlation there, and he seems to have a good time with the song, doubling his vocals to create a kind of one-man blues chorus and sneaking a plugged-in solo into the second half.
I looked for a live version of “Shot in the Head,” but came up empty. Could’ve sworn I saw him do this song at some point, but there doesn’t seem to be video to back that up. The album version’s plenty raucous, and I hope you enjoy it and have a happy Wino Wednesday:
Posted in audiObelisk on October 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Like their third album, 2010’s Concrete Catalyst, the newest outing from German bass/drum duo Beehoover — titled The Devil and His Footmenand out Oct. 22 through Exile on Mainstream — traffics in sounds both large and peculiar. The two-piece of Ingmar Petersen (bass and vocals) and Claus-Peter Hamisch (drums, recording and mixing) tap into tonal thickness and hairpin turns at any given moment, giving their songs a progressive, unpredictable feel. You never quite know when Petersen is going to switch from his Faith No More-style clean vocal delivery into a searing scream or gruffer shout, or when Beehoover might turn a seemingly straightforward heavy groove like that of “Rooftop” on its head with a barrage of start-stop noise rock.
It’s this very aspect, of course, that makes The Devil and His Footmensuch a satisfying listen and gives it its pervasive sense of originality. Petersen and Hamisch have a decade of experience behind them, so as they move from Helmet-style crunch to oddly atmospheric low end on “Boy vs. Tree” or delight in playing tempos off each other in “My Mixtapes Suck Big Time,” their songs remain fluid and the album never loses its step. Ultimately, Beehoover hit on a particular balance of engaging and challenging that’s using familiar methods — complex drums, weighted tones, alternately harsh and clean vocals — in a manner almost entirely their own. It might take a few listens for the full impact ofThe Devil and His Footmento sink in, but once you’ve been through it a couple times, the elements that at first seem unsettling become exactly what keeps you coming back for more. Even as you’re trying to figure out what’s going on at a given moment, the songs are working their way into your subconscious.
And while that sounds like a warning, the results are undeniably positive. Today I have the pleasure of hosting “My Mixtapes Suck Big Time” for streaming in advance of the record’s release, and it’s a song that exemplifies how well Beehoover are able to craft a linear feel throughout weirdo choruses and a tension that seems to build even as it’s paying off. Unless you spend the rest of your day listening to Beehoover, chances are you won’t hear anything else quite like it.
Check out “My Mixtapes Suck Big Time” on the player below, and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The Devil and His Footmenby Beehoover is out now in Europe and will be available in North America on Oct. 22 via Exile on Mainstream Records on CD and vinyl (limited to 500 copies). More info at the links below:
Hard to determine what’s my favorite thing about this clip of Wino performing the song “Manifesto” live at Substance Record Store in Vienna on his 2010 European tour. He laughs as he breaks a string about two minutes in, and that’s pretty enjoyable — probably less for him at the time — and he takes his guitar and walks out into the crowd, troubadour-style, toward the end. Plus the song itself, which lives up to its name in continuing Wino‘s penchant for socially conscious lyric-writing — something that arguably was most present in the word of The Hidden Hand but has been a factor all along — while the quick acoustic strumming provides a kind of tension that usually comes coated in fuzz where his songwriting is concerned.
Either way, it’s a winner, and for me, even more interesting in context. Toward the end of last year, I posted a video shot on the same tour of the same song, and he did basically the same thing — out into the crowd and all that. That video was shot in Belgium on Oct. 10. This one was Vienna just 10 days earlier, and what’s really great about it is Wino, fresh off a tour with Premonition 13, had been on the road for about two weeks at the time, so basically you get to see him become more comfortable with the idea as you go from the earlier video (this one) to the later one. Maybe that’s me putting a narrative to it, or just a bit of super-nerdery, but it’s pretty cool to see, either way, since by the time October rolled around, it was a spirited protest-song bit of populism and here it’s getting there, but not quite as triumphant yet.
Keep your eyes open for that and the broken string, and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Wino, “Manifesto” live at Substance Record Store, Vienna, Sept. 30, 2010
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
German doomly foursome Obelyskkh left an impression with last year’s White Lightnin’ sophomore full-length (track stream here), and the band just announced the quick turnaround on a follow-up. Titled Hymn to Pan, the third Obelyskkh album is set for release in August in the band’s native Germany and September in Europe and the US. If the last record is anything to go by, Exile on Mainstream (who will be handling this release as they did the last) aren’t kidding when they say it’s “nodding time.”
Get ye informed:
OBELYSKKH thunder growls on the horizon !!!!!
Retrieving their sound in a much more thronging way than ever before Obelyskkh seem to be picking up speed and urgency. And this not only musically but also in their pure existence. Of course, parts are still there – the bridging leads sit enthroned on swarm-like riffage, vocals meander between cutting serenity and harsh shrieks, giving the music enough time to breathe and adding an unusual element to what you would expect from a band coming out of the Sludge/ Psychedelic Rock scene. So far so familiar. But it doesn’t end here. Obelyskkh manage the impossible at ease: maintaining a trademark while simultaneously adding another complexity, another approach, another dimension and thus reaching freedom in a stunning way. It’s a rare treat nowadays and a venture to unbuckle yourself from expectations and strictly focus on an organic creation – especially for a band existing only for a few years (but already having 3 albums under their belt).
Theory aside – beware of a fucking riff-fest! This album contains enough for any other band live on for 10 years. Nodding tyme!
Release Dates: 30 August 2013 (Germany) 2 September (Europe + UK) 24 September (USA)
Hymn to Pan Tracklisting 01 Hymn To Pan 02 The Ravens 03 The Man Within 04 Heavens Architrave 05 Horse 06 Revelation: The Will To Nothingness
The album is released on CD, digital and 2LP, containing 3 sides. Side D is a blank mirror and gives a great tool to adjust your vinyl player’s antiskating properly.
Obelyskkh, “Abysmal Desert Cavern” Live in Leipzig, 2013