Quarterly Review: Swans, Virus, The Re-Stoned, Castle, Spirit Adrift, Robb & Pott, Family, Les Discrets, Liquido di Morte, Witchskull

Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

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Last day. As ever, I am mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted by this process, but as ever, it’s been worth it. Today I do myself a couple favors in packing out with more familiar acts, but whatever, it’s all stuff I should be covering anyway, so if the order bothers you, go write your own 50 reviews in a week and we can talk about it. Yeah, that’s right. That’s what I said. Today we start with A student needs affordable and reliable assignment writing services. Students Assignment Help provides English Paper Sbi Po to students.USA, Australia Swans. Everything’s a confrontation.

Once again, I hope you’ve found something somewhere along this bizarre, careening path of music that has resonated with you, something that will stick with you. That’s why we’re here. You and me. If you have, I’d love to know about it. Until then, one more time here we go.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Swans, The Glowing Man

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Oh fucking please. You want me to try to summarize If you want to dissertation services uk universities, there are some effective tips that will guide you in the right direction to your academic success. The Glowing Man – the culmination and finale of an era of Best homework help sites - 100% non-plagiarism guarantee of. Free Proofreading. It is FREE a safe place for your student. Note: Homework Help Swans that Establish trust among your targeted audience with honest and credible product reviews with the help of our famed product click site Michael Gira began now more than half a decade ago – in a single review? Even putting aside the fact that the record two hours long, the notion is ridiculous. If there ever was a chart, the scope here is well off it. The material unfolds and churns and is primal and lush at once on “Cloud of Forgetting,” genuinely chaotic on the 28-minute title-track, and it ends with a drone lullaby, but seriously, what the fuck? Some shit is just beyond, and if you don’t know that applies to Looking for an academic service that can answer your 'Help With Writing A Dissertation Need' cry for help? Our writers are experts in writing application papers. Swans by now, it’s your own fault. You want a review? Fine. I listened to the whole thing. It ate my fucking soul, chewed it with all-canine teeth and then spit it out saying “thanks for the clarity” and left me dazed, bloodied and humbled. There’s your fucking review. Thanks for reading.

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Young God Records website

 

Virus, Memento Collider

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Oslo trio Learn how we can provide you with all the help that you need to Research Proposal On Childhood Obesity to the highest of standards. Virus have long since established that they’re a band working on their own wavelength. The service offers customers competent writing assistance. It's a place, where a student can choose one of dissertation on marketing strategys. Each order is Memento Collider (on Looking for a safe and trusted way to Photography Institute Assignment 1 Answers? We can handle all of your class writing assignments and more. Karisma Records) is the jazzy post-black metallers’ first album in five years and brings together adventurous rhythms, poetic declarations, dissonant basslines and – in the case of “Rogue Fossil,” the occasional hook – in ways that are unique unto english essay outline research paper on atm services dissertation book manuscript how to write an assignment proposal Virus. Look at this site and see how often I use the word “unique.” It doesn’t happen. Business Plan Template Ontario for Undergraduate, Master's and PhD degree at MastersThesisWriting.com. Buying custom dissertations written from scratch by PhD Virus, however, are one of a kind. Compare Essay Writing Services LondonTremblay Bois Mignault Lemay, cabinet d'avocats, Quebec Avocats specialises: Erreurs/fautes medicales, affaires Memento Collider makes for a challenging listen front to back on its six-track/45-minute run, but it refuses to dumb itself down or dull its progressive edge, bookending its longest (that’s opener “Afield” at 10:41; immediate points) two tracks around jagged explorations of sound like “Steamer” and “Gravity Seeker,” which engage and intrigue in kind after the melodic push of “Dripping into Orbit” and leading into “Phantom Oil Slick,” a righteous affirmation of the angular thrust at the core of read this article composed by professional writers. 100% originality, high quality, on-time delivery guaranteed! Virus’ approach.

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Karisma Records webstore

 

The Re-Stoned, Reptiles Return

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In 2010, Moscow troupe When you find more services and other academic writing papers online help related to any subject by proofreading, editing by professional expert The Re-Stoned issued their first EP, We are offering First_Class cheap paper purchase at most affordable prices. Get Cheap Dissertation Writing Service at flat rates for all Return to the Reptiles, and being obviously concerned with evolution, they’ve now gone back and revisited that debut release with Writing Services Company Reviews - Composing a custom paper is go through many stages Find out basic recommendations how to get a plagiarism free themed Reptiles Return, a reworking of the four studio tracks that made up the initial version – “Return,” “Run,” “The Mountain Giant” and “Sleeping World.” The opener is a straight re-recording, as is one other, where another is remixed and the other two remastered, and Reptiles Return – which is presented on limited vinyl through Clostridium Records and a CD box set with bonus tracks via Rushus Records – pairs them with more psychedelic-minded soundscape pieces like “Winter Witchcraft,” “Walnut Talks,” the proggy “Flying Clouds” and sweetly acoustic “Roots Patter,” that showcase where founding multi-instrumentalist Ilya Lipkin is taking the band going forward. The result is a satisfying side A/B split on the vinyl that delights in heavy riffing for its own sake in the first half and expands the scope in the second, which should delight newcomers as well as those who’ve followed The Re-Stoned along this evolutionary process.

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Clostridium Records website

 

Castle, Welcome to the Graveyard

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It may well be the fate of San Francisco’s hard-touring, ass-kicking, genre-refusing duo Castle to be terminally underappreciated, but that has yet to stop them from proliferating their righteous blend of thrash, doom and classic, fistpump-worthy metal. Their latest outing, Welcome to the Graveyard, arrives via respected purveyor Ván Records, and entices in atmosphere and execution, cohesively built tracks like “Hammer and the Cross” and the penultimate “Down in the Cauldron Bog” finding a balance of personality and delivery that the band has long since honed on stage. The Dio-esque barnburner riff of “Flash of the Pentagram” makes that cut a highlight, but as they roll out the cultish vibes of “Natural Parallel” to close, there doesn’t seem to be much on the spectrum of heavy metal that doesn’t fit into Castle’s wheelhouse. For some bands, there’s just no justice. Four records deep, Castle have yet to get their due, and Welcome to the Graveyard is further proof of why they deserve it.

Castle website

Ván Records

 

Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion

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One can hear a new wave of modern doom taking shape in Chained to Oblivion, the Prosthetic Records debut from Arizona one-man outfit Spirit Adrift. The work of Nate Garrett alone in the studio, the full-length offers five mostly-extended tracks as a 48-minute 2LP of soaring, emotional and psychedelic doom à la Pallbearer, but given even further breadth through progressively atmospheric passages and a marked flow in its transitions. To call it personal seems superfluous – it’s a one-man band, of course it’s personal – but Garrett (also formerly of metallers Take Over and Destroy) brings a palpable sense of performance to the songwriting, and by the time he gets to the 11-minutes-apiece finale duo of the title-track and “Hum of Our Existence,” it’s easy to forget you’re not actually listening to a full band, not the least because of the vocal harmonies. Calling Chained to Oblivion a promising first outing would be underselling it – this is a project with serious potential.

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Prosthetic Records website

 

Robb & Pott, Once upon the Wings

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Unpredictable from the start of opener “Flesh ‘n’ Steel,” Once upon the Wings is a first-time multinational collaborative effort from Robbi Robb of California’s 3rd Ear Experience and Paul Pott of Germany’s The Space Invaders. Its five tracks/42 minutes arrive through no less than Nasoni Records, and provide a curious and exploratory blend of the organic and the inorganic in sound, as one finds the 11-minute “Grass” no less defined by its percussion solo, guitar line and ‘60s-style vocal than the electronic drums that underscore the layered wash of noise in its midsection. Further definition hits with the 16-minute centerpiece “Prophecy #1,” which works in a space-rocking vein, but the shorter closing duo of the catchy “Looney Toon” and darkly progressive “Space Ear” show a creative bent that clearly refuses to be tamed. Robb & Pott, as a project, demonstrates remarkable potential throughout this debut, as they seem to have set no limits for where they want their sound to go and they seem to have the command to take it there.

Robb & Pott on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records website

 

Family, Future History

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Most of the tracks on Brooklyn progressive noise rockers Family’s second album and Prosthetic Records debut, Future History, come paired with interludes. That cuts some of the growling intensity of winding pieces like “Funtime for Bigboy” and “Floodgates,” and emphasizes the generally experimental spirit of the record as a whole, broadening the scope in sound and theme. I’m somewhat torn as to how much this actually works to the 51:50 outing’s benefit, as shorter pieces like “Prison Hymn” and “Transmission,” while adding dynamic to the sound and narrative drama, also cut the immediacy in impact of “The Trial” or closer “Bone on Bone,” but it’s entirely possible that without them Future History would be an overwhelming tumult of raw prog metal. And while the play back and forth can feel cumbersome when one considers how effectively “Night Vision” bridges the gap between sides, I’m not sure that’s not what Family were going for in the first place. It’s not supposed to be an easy record, and it isn’t one.

Family on Thee Facebooks

Family website

 

Les Discrets, Virée Nocturne

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France’s Les Discrets haven’t had a studio offering since 2012’s Ariettes Oubliées (review here), and while they released Live at Roadburn (review here) last year documenting their 2013 set at that festival, there’s little there that might presage the stylistic turn the Fursy Teyssier-led outfit takes on their new EP, Virée Nocturne (on Prophecy Productions). With four tracks – two new, complete recordings, one demo and the last a remix of the opener by Dälek and DeadverseLes Discrets attempt to find a stylistic middle ground between post-rock and trip-hop, and for the most part, they get there. “Virée Nocturne” itself leads off and can be jarring on first listen, but successfully blends the lush melodicism for which the band is known with electronic-driven beats, and both “Capricorni. Virginis. Corvi” and even the demo “Le Reproche” continue to build on this bold shift. The finale remix adds over two minutes to “Virée Nocturne,” but uses that time to make it even more spacious and all the more immersive. For anyone who thought they might’ve had Les Discrets figured out, the surprise factor here should be palpable.

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Prophecy Productions website

 

Liquido di Morte, II

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Presented across four tracks beginning with the 12-minute and longest-of-the-bunch (immediate points) “The Corpse of Dr. Funkenstein” (double points for the reference), II, the aptly-titled second album from Liquido di Morte expands the progressive atmospherics of the Italian four-piece’s 2014 self-titled debut (review here) without losing sight of the performance and spirit of exploration that helped bring it to life. Isaak’s Giacomo H. Boeddu guests on brooding vocals and whispers for “The Saddest of Songs I’ll Sing for You,” which swells in seething intensity as it moves forward, while “Rodents on the Uphill” casts a vision of post-space rock and closer “Schwartz Pit” rounds out with crash and wash that seems only to draw out how different the two halves of II actually are. Not a complaint. Liquido di Morte make their way across this vast span with marked fluidity, and if they prove anything throughout, it’s that they’re able to keep their command wherever they feel like using it to go.

Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks

Sstars BigCartel store

 

Witchskull, The Vast Electric Dark

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Canberra, Australia, trio Witchskull initially released their debut full-length, The Vast Electric Dark, last year, and caught the attention of the cross-coastal US partnership between Ripple Music and STB Records, who now align for a reissue of the eight-tracker. Why is quickly apparent. In addition to having earned a fervent response, The Vast Electric Dark basks in quality songcraft and doomly, heavy vibes, keeping a consistent pace while rolling through the semi-metallic push of “Raise the Dead” or the later rumble/shred of “Cassandra’s Curse.” All the while, guitarist/vocalist Marcus De Pasquale provides a steady presence at the fore alongside bassist Tony McMahon and drummer Joel Green, and what’s ultimately still a straightforward rocker of an album finds a niche for itself between varies underground styles of heavy. Between the balance they strike across their 37 minutes and the energy that courses through their songs, Witchskull’s The Vast Electric Dark proves easily worth the look it’s getting.

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STB Records webstore

Ripple Music website

 

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Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Swallow the Sun, Beesus, Giöbia, Decasia, Sonic Mass, Wolvserpent, Delouners, Dead East Garden, Pearl Handled Revolver

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

The Wednesday of a Quarterly Review is always special to me. In the six, maybe seven, times I’ve done this now, Wednesday has always been the marker of turning to the second half of the week. Hump Day in a bizarre context. That said, I feel good about how it’s gone so far and I feel very good about the stuff that’s being written about in more than just that getting-it-out-of-the-way spirit. Still, we start today with something that should’ve been reviewed months ago, and I’ll admit to being glad to have such a formidable weight off my chest.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Sunn O))), Kannon

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Sunn O))) are without question among the most integral bands of their generation. I don’t feel like it’s going even remotely out on a limb to say that. With the three-song full-length, Kannon (on Southern Lord), they go back to exploring the waveforms and ritualistic atmospheres that helped their influence spread in the first place, after several years of collaborating with others like Scott Walker and Ulver. Kannon is the first Sunn O)))-proper LP since 2009’s orchestral Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), and while I understand any and everything I might have to say about it is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the from-all-sides laudits founding guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have received, its three parts nonetheless demonstrate the fact that with Sunn O))), there is never any backward looking, and that even as they strip away elements that made Monoliths and Dimensions as expansive as it was in favor of the claustrophobic rumble and chants of “Kannon 3,” they move relentlessly forward. They remain necessary.

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Southern Lord Recordings

 

Swallow the Sun, Songs from the North I, II & III

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Hey, I like Swallow the Sun. I’ve dug the Finnish outfit since their debut, The Morning Never Came, but I gotta say, maybe a triple album, which Songs from the North I, II and III is, is a bit much? The concept is awesome – one record of light/dark, one record of light, one record of dark – but in practice it’s about a 160 minutes long and a considerable investment to ask of their audience. When it comes to repeat listens, I can’t help but continually go to Songs from the North III, the most extreme installment, which still has plenty of spacious guitar melodies to go with its death-doom emotional and tonal crush, and while I’m not sure that Swallow the Sun would’ve been doing themselves any favors if they spaced out three separate releases rather than bundling them together as they have, it’ll be years before a release of this scope can be properly digested, if it can at all, and for a band whose work is as complex and often lush as Swallow the Sun’s, one wants to absorb it in a way that such a massive offering doesn’t allow.

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Century Media

 

Beesus, The Rise of Beesus

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Italy’s heavy rock boom continues with the debut album from Roman riffers Beesus. The four-piece nod at desert grunge with “6 Ft. Under Box” and roll out thick, loosely-psychedelic vibes on the opening title-track, but The Rise of Beesus primarily tells its story in its plays of density and spaciousness – see “Waltzer” and the later “Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth” – and one is reminded a bit of Snail circa Blood in that, but a sense of variety brings moments like the quiet opening stretch of “Kusa” and the bass-led thrust of “Mata la Verguenza,” making The Rise of Beesus not as easy to predict as it might first appear. When it does indulge its heft, as on “Beesus in Dope,” it satisfies, but while consistent, it is by no means unipolar. It seems to set Beesus up for future expansion on any number of lines, but as their first outing, it also has a noteworthy sense of itself, carving out an identity from diversity of songcraft and an abidingly chaotic vibe.

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Beesus on Bandcamp

 

Giöbia, Magnifier

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Fall 2015’s Magnifier (on Sulatron Records) is the fourth LP from Italian psych/space rockers Giöbia, who launch with the ominous cosmic thrust of “This World was Being Watched Closely” and make their grandest statement on side B with the 15-minute lysergic noise excursion of “Sun Spectre.” There and elsewhere in “The Pond,” “The Stain” and the closing “The Magnifier,” Giöbia pursue shroomy sonic enlightenment through soaking reverb and wah, Moog, synth, bouzouki and so on – a somewhat kitchen sink approach resulting in a joyous front-to-back wash of spirited energy and engaging depth. The follow-up to 2013’s Introducing Night Sound (review here), Magnifier finds synth-laden prog swing in “Lentamenta la Luce Svanirà” and pushes air with the low end of its finale title-cut, a right-on dripper that’s round enough to make the world seem square by comparison. The place Giöbia inhabit between psychedelia and space rock is fast becoming a planet all their own, and for ambassadorship of their sound, Magnifier thrills.

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Sulatron Records

 

Decasia, Decasia

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Recorded by the band in 2014 and issued in 2015 as their debut EP, Decasia’s Decasia flows more like a long-player, with five cuts that unfold from the tanpura and didgeridoo immersion of opener “Halo,” but I won’t argue. While rawer than what one might commonly expect out of European heavy psychedelia, the French trio nonetheless cull aspects of that sound into their own, so that centerpiece “Blue Love” is right at home with its Hendrixian guitar swing, and closer “Dive” feels within rights to demonstrate a touch of Colour Haze in its initial rhythm, though on the whole Decasia are less laid back and more grunge-informed, resulting in an intriguing blend that, from the burst at the open of “Sherpa” through the crashing finish of “Dive,” shows them as a group able to play to either side at will. They’ve already followed up with the jam “Moodoo Majja,” but I wouldn’t speculate which side will win out as they continue to develop, if indeed any single one does.

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Decasia on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn

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The second long-player from London sludgers Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn… would seem immediately to be positioning itself as punishment. Fair enough – there’s certainly some abrasive aspect to its overriding rawness and liberal feedback – but the huge groove that pays off the build in the second half of “Butcher of Brogdael” is more righteous inclusion than it is masochistic, and even faster, shorter cuts like the blown-out punk of “Biker Satania” or “Toga”’s unhinged dual-guitar thrust feels more about a raucous vibe than putting someone off. In the title-track, they move from a wash of distortion into some caustic feedback by the end, but by then the context of You People Never Learn… is such that the nodding push of eight-minute closer “Quadranoid” is more a celebration than a beating, even if it does round out with two minutes of amp crackle, effects and feedback. If it was coming from a stage, you’d raise a pint to it.

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Sonic Mass on Bandcamp

 

Wolvserpent, Aporia:Kala:Ananta

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Longform material is nothing new for Boise, Idaho-based duo Wolvserpent. Both of their two full-lengths to-date, 2010’s Blood Seed and 2013’s Perigaea Antahkarana, have found the ritual drone-doomers working in extended contexts. However, the newly-issued Aporia:Kala:Ananta EP (on Relapse) pushes that line even further. It is a single-song work running 40 minutes of spacious, sometimes grueling, thrillingly challenging heft, marked by a cinematic sense of drama in its use of violin, blackened extremity and striking depth. Drummer/violinist Brittany McConnell and guitarist/vocalist Blake Green aren’t so much taking any huge stylistic leaps from what they’ve done before, but the scope of “Aporia:Kala:Ananta,” as well as the overarching flow of the piece, its patient execution, and the masterful hand with which they guide it, cannot be called anything but progression. The only question I have is why they’re not calling it an album. Considering both its runtime and its breadth, to consider it anything less feels like selling it short.

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Relapse Records

 

Delouners, Family

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Swapping back and forth between Spanish and English lyrics adds variety to Family, the 13-song/45-minute debut long-player from Uruguayan foursome Delouners, but they weren’t short on it anyway. Spacious, echoing guitars and a languid psychedelia-gone-heavy-blues carry across laid back blowout rolls like “Low” and the more uptempo “Secreto,” and all the more in the side A-ending “Mistery Caravan,” the lazy, hazy, take-it-way-down groove feels derived from an All Them Witches influence. There are more garage rock moments, as on the title-track, the earlier “Los Dormidos,” “Alain Delon” and closer “Mirtha Legrand,” and the shoegazing tropicality of “Sea/Side” furthers an individualized sensibility overall, but that naturalist spirit never departs completely. So be it. Delouners drench this central inspiration in their own sonic persona, and so come off influenced rather than derivative, setting themselves up to branch out their progression as they see fit on whatever they might do next.

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Delouners on Bandcamp

 

Dead East Garden, Dead East Garden

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There are five songs on the self-titled debut EP from Cleveland, Ohio’s Dead East Garden and three of them could be said to have something to do with cars – “Starting Line,” “El Camino Rock” and “Straight Burning Road.” That’s not a judgment, just a statement of fact. From the post-Pepper Keenan chug of opener “The Lurker,” one kind of knows what’s coming from the workingman’s heavy rockers, but “Mother’s Disease” fleshes out a less dudely aggro spirit with a more patient initial roll and satisfying lead work from guitarist Ryan Scheel. The beer-soaked vibes resume as “Straight Burning Road” comes on to close, vocalist Pat Homolish layering spoken and belted-out hooks as bassist John Roach (since out of the band) and drummer R.J. Drenski hold down one more straightforward groove, and Dead East Garden reinforce the plainspoken intent on display across the short release, as light on pretense as it is heavy on testosterone.

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Dead East Garden website

 

Pearl Handled Revolver, If the Devil Cast His Net

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As with their 2013 sophomore outing, This Mountain Waits (review here), the third album from UK heavy blues/classic rockers Pearl Handled Revolver, titled If the Devil Cast His Net, uses synth, Mellotron, electric piano and organ to explore a wide variety of moods, from the soft-guitar blues of “Someone Like You” to the rambling “Absinthe in Adelaide.” All throughout, the band reaffirm their mastery of these styles as they go, be it the boogie shuffle of “Loverman” or the side A closing title-track, which sets forth one of the record’s most engaging bass grooves under gravelly verse before moving into an extended instrumental jam, no less poised than anything preceding or following. That plotted feel is at the core of Pearl Handled Revolver’s approach – nothing is here by accident – and it makes their songcraft all the more inarguable, taking in a post-The Doors bounce on closer “Into the Blue” as they mirror the end of the album’s first half for another striking finish.

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Pearl Handled Revolver website

 

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Family Announce Tour Dates with Beak, Order of the Owl and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 14th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Family Tree FINAL

Haven’t heard much from Brooklyn crunch specialists Family since their 2012 release, Portrait (discussed here), but they’ve obviously spent the two years since it came out making good friends. From Moon Tooth and Weedeater to Lunglust, The Cloth, Beak, Hosoi Bros., Laser Flames on the Great Big News, Order of the Owl and Horseskull, their upcoming tour is rife with badass accompaniment. They’ll alternate between sharing the road time with Order of the Owl and Beak, and that’s already some pretty nifty shakes, but this is one of those lists of tour dates where you go back and check out the acts listed as being played with in each town, since it’s obvious some effort was put into curating each of these bills. Very cool stuff.

The tour starts Nov. 5 out on Long Island and takes off from there around the East Coast and Midwest, with the routing as such:

family tour flyer

FAMILY FALL 2014 TOUR DATES

Wed 11/5 – Long Island, NY – Amityville Music Hall w/Meek is Murder, Bangladeafy, Moon Tooth
Thurs 11/6 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie w/Sunburster, Bardus, The Cloth
Fri 11/7 – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Bar w/Weedeater, Full of Hell, Lazur/Wulf, Tiger Flowers
Sat 11/8 – Cambridge – TT the Bear’s w/Tiger Flowers, Lunglust, Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan
Wed 11/12 – Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s w/Slaves BC, Edhochuli
Thurs 11/13 – Columbus, OH – Ruby Tuesday w/Denounce Your Martyr, All My Friends Are Dead, Silence the Ocean, Asylum Effect
Fri 11/14 – Chicago, IL – Township w/Beak, TBD
Sat 11/15 – St. Louis, MO – Fubar w/Beak, Quaere Verum, Ashes and Iron, Fumer
Sun 11/16 – Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe w/Beak, Hosoi Bros, Hombres
Mon 11/17 – Nashville, TN – Springwater w/Beak, Sheep Shifter, Laser Flames on the Great Big News
Wed 11/19 – Atlanta, GA – 529 w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Dead Register
Thurs 11/20 – Charlotte, NC – The Milestone w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Viajando
Fri 11/21 – Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Mountain Thrower
Sat 11/22 –Raleigh, NC – The Maywood w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Horseskull

www.familyslays.com
www.familyslays.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/family.slays
www.twitter.com/familyslays
www.soundcloud.com/familyslays/sets/family-portrait

Family, Portrait (2012)

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Six Dumb Questions with Family

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on October 16th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

True to their evocative moniker, Brooklyn progressive noisemakers Family arrive not without their share of tumult and dysfunction. Led by founding guitarst/songwriter Steven Gordon and vocalist Kurtis Lee Applegate, the four-piece has already replaced 50 percent of their body ahead of the Oct. 30 release of their debut full-length, Portrait, self-released in the US and on Pelagic Records in Europe with cover art by Eric Diehl.

Guitarist Owen Burley and drummer Phil Sangiacomo, who both played on Portrait, have since had their respective roles in Family filled by Josh Lozano (also Cobalt, Man’s Gin) and Jody Smith, so while the album will no doubt give some sense of the direction they’re headed in, Family‘s sound is destined to be different the next time out. All the more interesting, then, to get an idea of what got the band started and the ideas behind the themes they’re working with on the debut. In a way, the moment has already passed, and that only makes it more awesome to wonder what might come next.

I’ll admit to some trepidation in sending out these questions to Gordon for this emailer. It’s one thing to interview a band and quite something else to interview someone who also writes about music. I felt a bit like Gordon, who scribes for MetalSucks under the pseudonym “Kip Wingerschmidt,” would probably know everything I wanted to ask before the sentences were even over. I’m not exactly trying to trick the dude up, but it puts a little more pressure on me to not make some gross grammatical mistake like, “Where is in your band?” or something like that. Maybe I’m being neurotic.

Either way, the record — some of which you can hear on the ReverbNation player that follows the Q&A — lives up to the band’s motto of “Family slays,” and has already earned some hearty endorsements from the likes of The Ocean‘s Robin Staps, who just so happens to be the brains behind Pelagic. Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

1. Tell me how Family got together? When did you guys start up and how did you wind up bringing Josh and Jody into the band? Has their inclusion changed the songwriting process at all?

A few years ago, I was working on music with a couple difficult guys but furthermore we were having a very hard time finding the right bassist. When that situation fell apart, I began to look for new collaborators and ironically met three solid bassists almost immediately, one of which was Kurt. I didn’t realize at first just how mighty his scream was, but once I heard that power it was apparent that there could be no going back. I had recently moved into a new rehearsal space, having been ousted by my neighbors from playing music in the loft space where I live, so I asked Kurt if he wanted to move his amp into the space and we started auditioning drummers.

Phil appeared pretty quickly thereafter. He immediately grasped all the complex time signature changes and frankly was hilarious and a joy to hang out with, but for some reason kept his chops under wraps initially in lieu of playing more simply, which gave us a bit of pause. So we were initially on the fence about whether it would work. Then he serendipitously cracked a cymbal that belonged to another drummer that we shared the practice space with and needed some time to make the money to pay for it. So we were stuck with the guy! And his amazing skills quickly showed themselves. Best accident ever.

We didn’t start gigging until after Owen joined the band and really rounded us out both personally and musically. That chance to have dual guitarmonies and counter parts helped develop the sound and brought my song structures to life in a more vibrant way. But unfortunately just before we started playing shows Phil decided to leave Family to focus on his other band, Grandfather. Thankfully Jody appeared almost immediately, through a recommendation from a singer/guitarist that both Kurt and I had both been in touch with but never met. Phil and Jody have such different styles that the sound shifted pretty dramatically right away and we began working on new tunes that fit Jody‘s feel a bit more. But overall it was a smooth and rapid transition, and there was no lag time.

A similar thing happened when Owen left the band. Literally the day after he told us, Josh (who we knew from having played with his band Fashion Week) sent me a text simply stating: “I play guitar.” I quickly responded “You sure do, buddy!” and we instantly had a replacement. Ironically he was the only person I thought of before he even sent me that text, so I guess it was meant to be.

Josh and I have only recently started collaborating on guitar parts for newer songs, and despite a natural fretboard kinship and similar work ethic we’re still finding the common musical ground. Josh himself claims to only listen to music from the ‘90s, and I’ve always felt like a lot of Family‘s style derives from classic rock influences, so there’s plenty of room to fill in the gaps between those varying elements. Furthermore Josh is very open to experimenting with different gear and sounds, which I look forward to exploring more together, especially in the studio. The next album will no doubt benefit from his and Jody‘s unique contributions and evolve our sound dramatically.

2. Is there a philosophy behind the band’s name? The word “family” is evocative of so many things, but what does it mean to you in terms of the band and in general, and how are you using the idea as relates to Portrait?

I was looking for a word that meant many different things and was open to wide interpretation, which was no easy feat — on top of it being extremely difficult to find something that fits and communicates the mood you are going for, most words are already taken as band names! I thought of “family” as an option before I even met Kurt, and tried to convince the guys I was playing with prior that we should use it, but the hesitation was always that it was perhaps too soft… In retrospect I realize now that maybe it was more the music we were working on at the time that was too soft, because given how the band sounds now I don’t see it as an issue whatsoever. If we were a jam band the name would be too on-the-nose but for a heavy group the contrast seems to sit well. Frankly, I enjoy that kind of juxtaposition of moods anyway, but obviously there are plenty of dark connotations to the word “family” as well as the sunny, togetherness aspects.

Naturally there is a family within every band, and we are no exception. We bond and bicker at times like brothers, and moreover do our best to bring forth a familial vibe to our audience. The goal is to bring people together through the music, and as a frontman Kurt always makes a concerted effort to communicate with the crowd. Despite the band’s personnel changes, we are still close with our former members and support their bands, and it seems perfectly normal to hang out with our old and new guitarists and drummers. We’re all still in it together.

There’s an obvious kinship between the words “family” and “portrait,” and for me it works on a couple different levels: on one hand, with our first album being anchored by the concept of a dysfunctional family that develops supernatural powers, the title is meant to suggest that we are offering a glimpse into the family members’ lives. From another perspective, this being our debut album, we hope it encapsulates the band’s message from the outset and offers a substantial portrait, if you will, of our sound. Having since changed our lineup, I see the first album as a time capsule of sorts that captures the combination of the initial round of players in the band, and we are all very proud of how it turned out.

3. How did you get hooked up with Robin Staps for the album release, and what does it mean to you to have someone like that interested in putting out your music in Europe? Will you guys tour over there to support the album?

Robin and I met briefly years ago outside the old Knitting Factory during a MetalSucks interview that Editor-in-Chief Vince Neilstein was leading — I may have asked a question or two, but doubt Robin even remembers me from that! Last Fall I was able to help put together a successful Brooklyn show for The Ocean with Family on the bill. That night he mentioned his label Pelagic and when we finished the album a massive email chain began between he and I to discuss all the details.

It is a huge honor to be working with Robin – his band has meant a lot to me over the years and it’s tremendously encouraging to have his stamp of approval. I believe we are the first American band to be signed to Pelagic so hopefully we can help spread the word in the States about what they are doing.

We would love to tour in Europe, so hopefully there will be an opportunity to do so in 2013.

4. Eric Diehl’s paintings seem to be commenting more on suburban or rural life, and with Family being from Brooklyn, how do the two relate for you? Both the front and back covers are kind of undercutting what looks superficially like a serene setting or scene. How did you come to select his works for the album and how do you think the art factors into the overall atmosphere of the record?

I came to Eric with a specific artwork concept in mind for an indoor family dinner scene with cosmic/supernatural elements added to it. But as we discussed the idea further, the more it seemed we’d be better off working with an outdoor, backyard-type setting. When the “family” concept evolved into two different paintings, Eric was essentially presenting two options for the cover artwork but I felt they worked quite well together and couldn’t imagine one or the other being the sole piece we would use. The way I see it is that the back cover painting is more of an abstract representation of the dysfunction and inner emotional turmoil that the family on the front cover is feeling. The rural house is the common thread that links the two paintings.

Suburbia was always the focus, in an effort to portray the nature of heartland Americana as much as possible. I get how that may sound ironic coming from a city-based band, but as much as I wouldn’t want the sound of our music to be pigeonholed into simply having an “urban” flavor I feel similarly about the artwork that represents us. There’s obviously infinite room for evolution in a band’s brand and design, and I for one hope our artwork takes many different forms as we progress.

5. There are so many different facets to Family’s sound. Do you hear anything in particular on Portrait that you know you’d like to develop further in the next round of songwriting? Is there one direction or another you have in mind for where you want to take the band?

Well in a way our sound has organically evolved automatically with the lineup changes, most specifically when we added Jody. As we all know a band is only as good as its drummer, but I also like to think any band is only as distinctive as its drummer as well. Thankfully we’ve had the chance to work with two very unique drummers that sound quite different from each other and that evolution will absolutely be noticeable and even highlighted on our next recording. Chops are one thing (and don’t get me wrong, both Phil and Jody have chops for days), but I’m talking more about style and feel, two elements that often take the backseat to backbone and flash in metal. So it’s exciting to think about already having a new version of our sound that still falls in line with the general vibe of the band. And going back into the studio this shift seems even more crucial than changes to the songwriting – case in point, some of the tunes that will appear on the next album predate Portrait, even…

Having said that, I always think there is room to get more brutal and more beautiful, and varied instrumentation can help open up the sound on recordings, so it’d be great to experiment with that. We are coloring the newer tunes with more complex structures as well as a bit more melody, both of which I think will give the sound a denser feel overall.

6. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

The main plan is to keep moving forward. We are about halfway done with the songs for the next album, and are hoping to go into the studio to record that early next year. It’d be great if some good tour offers came through and we were given the opportunity to spread our wings a bit more. But for now we’re just trying to spread the word and are looking forward to hearing people’s reactions of the album when it comes out. Despite all the work that’s been put into getting this project off the ground, I feel like it’s only just beginning…

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