End Hip End It: Acid King, Elder, Dead Meadow, Josefus & Many More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’m not gonna discount the notion of seeing the likes of Josefus sharing the stage with The Well and Doomstress, or of watching the almighty Acid King roll out their riffly triumphs next to Dead MeadowElderMothership and a megaslew of others, but I think the fact that if you buy a ticket for the second day of End Hip End It you get two slices of pizza speaks volumes to the vibe the Spring, Texas-based festival is going for, and that’s a vibe with which I think just about anybody can get down.

The lineup is varied from Funeral Horse and Switchblade Jesus to King Buffalo and Stone Machine Electric, but there’s a heaping representation of the fertile Texan underground here, and that’s likewise respectable. My understanding is they’ve run into some branding issues — I guess repeating any word in your fest name in Texas is verboten because you’re making fun of SXSW? seems to me SXSW could stand to be taken down a peg or two, but couldn’t we all? — and might rename the event for 2018, but whatever you call it, it looks like a good time to me.

Lineup, other info and ticket link follow:

end-hip-end-it-2017

END HIP END IT MUSIC FESTIVAL

OCT 21 – OLD TOWN SPRING, TEXAS

DAY 1 will feature 25 bands in Old Town Spring, Texas. Preservation Park will have three stages of music as well as many interactive art projects thanks to the Generators Playground.

Stage 1
Dead meadow 12:00 – 1:00
The Bright Light Social Hour 10:40 – 11:20
Golden Dawn Arkestra 9:20 – 10:00
Bayonne 8:00 – 8:40
The deer 6:40 – 7:20
AMERICAN SHARKS 5:20 – 6:00
ROSE ETTE 4:00 – 4:40
VANILLA WHALE 3:00 – 3:40
pyreship 2:00 – 2:30
JODY SEABODY & THE WHIRLS 1:00 – 1:30

Stage 2
Acid King 11:20 – 12:00
ELDER 10:00 – 10:40
MOTHERSHIP 8:40 – 9:20
king buffalo 7:20 – 8:00
eagle claw 6:00 – 6:40
greenbeard 4:40 – 5:20
funeral horse 3:30 – 4:00
SWITCHBLADE JESUS 2:30 – 3:00
WARLUNG 1:30 – 2:00

Stage 3
John Evans Band 8:20 – 9:00
Flower Graves 7:10 – 7:50
The Cuckoos 6:10 – 6:50
Ancient Cat Society 5:10 – 5:50
The Mammoths 4:10 – 4:50
Mantra Love 3:10 – 3:50
Howard & the Nosebleeds 2:10 – 2:40

OCT 22 – WALTER’S DOWNTOWN
SUNDAY at Walter’s Downtown there will be two stages with 13 bands on rotation. Ticket purchasers will receive two drink tickets and two pizza slices!

the well
L.A. Witch
doomstress
amplified heat
space villains*
white dog
josefus
crypt trip
stone machine electric
only beast
concrete heat
daze
shallow

KIP Passes get you…
Entry to both days
backstage access
FREE T-shirt on Saturday
access to hammock hangout
one extra beer on Sunday

At End Hip End It you will find a tightly tucked 20 acre plot of land filled with green grass, craft breweries, interactive art projects, live music, beer tasting events, auctions for charities, Light shows, food trucks, VIP access, local vendors, and more. Interactive art projects will be hosted by Bao Pham of the Generators Playground.

https://www.facebook.com/HoustonPsychFest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/444285199249564/
http://www.endhipendit.com/
http://www.endhipendit.com/tickets
https://www.instagram.com/end_hip_end_it/
http://www.twitter.com/endhipendit

Acid King, Live at Electric Funeral Fest, June 17, 2017

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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Funeral Horse Premiere “Underneath all that Ever Was” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

funeral horse

With their new video, Houston bizarro heavy rockers Funeral Horse are more or less saying goodbye to their 2015 album, Divinity for the Wicked (review here), but true to form, that’s hardly all they’re saying. The clip premiering below for “Underneath all that Ever Was” starts off with a Stranger Things reference, digs into a narrative about a downer bureaucrat — played by drummer Chris Bassett — working a suicide prevention hotline and not caring, cuts suddenly to guitarist/vocalist Walter “Paul Bearer” Carlos on his phone waiting to shoot for his solo, and then goes back to Bassett‘s character drinking at his desk, only to be visited by Death, who very cleverly high-fives him, ending his life, and leaving a slew of distraught people on the other end of the suicide hotline.

Got all that? If so, you’re one up on me. Fortunately, director Larry Czach — who also worked with the band on their video for “There will be Vultures” (posted here) — was on it, but suffice it to say it’s very much Funeral Horse‘s thing to be on their own wavelength, so they’re right at home in “Underneath all that Ever Was” in addition to being part of a longstanding tradition of weirdo Texan noisemakers. The three-piece have a few live dates in the Lone Star State this month at which they’ll introduce new bassist Clint Rater, and then it’s back to preparations for their next full-length, which will presumably be out sometime before the end of the year, likely on Artificial Head Records. I’d make a prediction as to when specifically, but I think both the song and video below bear out the futility of trying to predict anything when it comes to Funeral Horse.

A few words from Carlos and Bassett follow, as well as the tour dates.

Please enjoy:

Funeral Horse, “Underneath all that Ever Was” official video

Walter Carlos on making the video:

Working on this video was an intense experience in that it was more like a movie production. We purposely wanted to make something that had more of a cinematic quality to it rather than standard band footage. At one point, we did have some live shots of the band, but that got scrapped in production in favor of the guitar diva scene. We decided on the song “Underneath All That Ever Was“ because it’s not only one of our favorites to play live, it’s one of our darkest topics… which fit with the theme of the failed suicide prevention consultant from the video.

This marks the second collaboration between the band and Larry Czach –- who produced the video for “There Shall Be Vultures” –- also from the current record. Larry has a long history in the Houston music scene -– going back to 1970 when he ran lights for psychedelic rock bands that came to town.

Chris Bassett on making the video:

It was a blast working on this video! We got to work on a lot of ideas to help bring the story to life. Working with Larry was a breeze. He listened to our ideas but also had some neat tricks up his sleeve for capturing the essence of what the story was all about. I think it worked out quite well.

Funeral Horse January Texas Tour (with Shadow Giant from Louisiana)
01/25 Satellite Bar (Houston, TX)
01/26 Black Monk (Corpus Christi, TX)
01/27 TBA (McAllen, TX)
01/28 Faust (San Antonio, TX)

Divinity for the Wicked preorder

Funeral Horse on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head on Bandcamp

Artificial Head on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016: Frank Huang Posts Videos from Full Lineup

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk all-dayer

No question 2016 has had some highs and some lows, but for me, the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer, held Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, was something truly special. Hardly stress-free, with the broken-down car and assorted this and that throughout the day and evening, but at the end of the show, my head down on the bar while DJ Adzo spun classic heavy rock after Mars Red Sky finished, barely able to stand, it was entirely worth every second of effort and freakout. What a blast.

As I dig into the wrap-up portion of the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what was the real peak moment. I put a book out this year, which is something I’ve daydreamed of doing since I had the cerebral complexity to daydream. There’s always Roadburn. This past weekend sitting around playing video games with The Patient Mrs. was pretty sweet, if I do say so. But I keep coming back to The Obelisk All-Dayer, and I think that might be it.

That whole weekend was so special to me, not even just the show. It was an incredible time and I was humbled to see people enjoying themselves throughout the day, digging on the free tacos (thank you, Steve Murphy), gratified to hang out with good friends and to see excellent performances. It was an honor to play a part in hosting those who came out, including Brooklyn’s premiere videographer Frank Huang, whose work I’m thrilled to feature today.

If you’ve ever YouTubed anything from the Saint Vitus Bar or seen anything from the venue posted here, you know Frank Huang‘s work. Someday they’ll make a documentary about him, but until then I’ll just note that the guy is unparalleled in his dedication to capturing live music, and the quality of what he does has become an essential component of an entire generation of NYC showgoers’ live experience. Even for shows I attend, when I see Frank there, I look up the video afterwards, because inevitably his camera got something I missed. He is an invaluable resource and a gentleman to boot.

Below you can see snippets of varying length from each of the eight bands who played the All-Dayer, which Frank has newly posted with my deepest appreciation.

Whether you were there or not, I hope you’ll dig in and please, please enjoy:

Heavy Temple, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

King Buffalo Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

Funeral Horse, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

EYE, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

Kings Destroy, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

Snail, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

Death Alley, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

Mars Red Sky, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

Once again, thanks to Frank Huang for being on hand to tape these sets, and to the Saint Vitus Bar for letting me put this show on. Stay tuned in the New Year for more info on The Obelisk All-Dayer 2018.

Frank Huang’s website

Saint Vitus Bar website

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The Obelisk All-Dayer — THANK YOU!

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on August 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-all-dayer-thanks

I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so tired. Pure physical and mental exhaustion. By the end of the day I could barely stand up, keep my head up, or down one last cup of coffee while watching Mars Red Sky close out the show. It’s been three days. I’m still not sure I have the mental faculties to write this post.

I hereby dub the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer a success.

The day started with The Patient Mrs.’ car breaking down on I-95 in Connecticut on the way south to Brooklyn and continued through flash floods, the first two bands running late (both got there on time, but my nerves were already frayed from being late myself), my camera breaking – again – during Funeral Horse, Death Alley blowing a tire on their way up from Philly, and so on, but there were tacos, the day ultimately ran on time, and everybody killed.

Absolutely killed. I mean it. Front to back. What a show.

From Heavy Temple bringing it for an early 2:30 start through Mars Red Sky dipping back to their first record for a rendition of “Strong Reflection” that nearly brought a tear to my eye, and everything in between. King Buffalo? Funeral Horse? Fucking EYE? Kings Destroy? Snail? Death Alley’s absolute ownership of the room? There wasn’t a dud in the bunch.

Most importantly, it seemed like everybody there had a good time. The tacos went. We wound up with about 170 people in the door, not counting bands and guests, and with the professionalism of the Saint Vitus Bar staff, the show ran smoothly the whole time, changeovers were easy, and my sincere hope is that everyone who came felt welcome, because they absolutely were.

On that note, I’ll say that I’m not going to review the show. Just doesn’t feel right. But I did want to say thank you to a few people who helped make the day so incredibly special.

First to The Patient Mrs., who not only handled money at the end of the night, but sold posters and patches, kept me sane as we stood on the side of the highway and waited for the tow truck, reminded me to eat, and got me that aforementioned last cup of coffee to get me through the last part of the show. She was there (almost) the whole day and it was deeply meaningful to me to have her around.

Thanks to Walter Roadburn, who left the comforts of home to come and co-DJ the afterparty, sat in traffic with The Patient Mrs. and I on the trip from Boston to Connecticut, Connecticut to Brooklyn, and back again. The time we got to spend talking about music, about what he does with his festival, and his insights on the show are memories that I imagine I will continue to treasure for as long as I can remember anything at all. Highlight of the weekend, without question. And thanks to Esther, who convinced him to come.

Thanks to David Castillo, George Souleidis, Sound Guy Jeff and the staff at the Saint Vitus Bar, which leaves absolutely nothing to question as to why it has the reputation it has. The generosity they showed in welcoming the All-Dayer into their rightly-hallowed space, the accommodation of the weird schedule, and just the sheer slog of the hours put in – all handled with professionalism beyond enviable. Other venues should aspire to run such a ship. It was staggering to see it from the end of someone organizing a show. Thank you so much.

Thank you to Steve Murphy for the endless, thoroughly unjustified belief in my being able to pull this whole thing off, for the tacos and for the support across the board. Thank you for your friendship, your kindness, and for your threat to print up bootleg Obelisk t-shirts to give away at random. I hope that works out.

Thanks to the bands. Mars Red Sky coming from France to play, Death Alley from the Netherlands, Snail from the West Coast, Kings Destroy giving New York due representation with a special set – “Planet XXY?” who knew? – EYE from Ohio, Funeral Horse from Houston, King Buffalo from Rochester and Heavy Temple from Philly. And to Walter and Adam Otracina for helming the afterparty. Whether they were coming from near or far, it really felt like everybody put something extra into the show and I was continually humbled and blown away by what I saw and heard all day and into the night. People loaning each other gear, making adjustments on the fly, starting and ending on time, everything came together better than I could’ve hoped, and it was just wonderful to see. I am deeply grateful.

Thanks to Jaime Traba for recording the audio of the sets. More on that hopefully soon. Thanks to Frank Huang for capturing video. Steve Truglio, Randy Blood, Harry Booth and others for getting photos. Like I said, my camera died, so knowing that there were plenty of others around was a great comfort.

Thanks to Skillit for the amazing poster and logo design, and to Dave from Made in Brooklyn for printing the patches. Thanks to my family, Suze Wright, Andy Wright and Rob Jones, for coming and helping sell merch. Thanks to Slevin and Ralph. Thanks to Liz and Dave from Earsplit and Becky Laverty for the plugs. Thanks to Postman Dan for buying tickets even though he couldn’t make it. Thanks to Randy and Laura Blood, Juan Lopez, Jen Hendrix-Johnson, Kenny Sehgal, Phil Moon, Adam Sawford, Nico Liengme and Laurel Jane May, Earl Walker Lundy, Seibert Lowe, Paul John Shaft, Lisa Hass, Melanie Streko, Ron, Jill Lavilette, Brian Schmidt, Ross Colombo, Alex Jakstas, Natasha Padilla, Tad Proshansky, Zack Kurland, Greg Aramini, and many, many others who came out, everyone who had a kind word about the site, the band selection, my book, everything. I’m quite sure I’ll add to this list as I regain even my usual limited use of my mental faculties, but this is for starters and please know that whether you were there in-person or if you shared a link or saw a post about it and liked it or bought tickets in advance or just read the site generally. Thank you. Thank you all so much. Thank you.

Thank you.

I’m going to take a couple weeks and really think about whether this is something I want to do again, but if I do, I know it won’t be an annual thing. Whatever happens moving forward, I want you to know how unbelievable this night was for me and I hope for everyone who attended as well. One more time, thank you.

I don’t have photos of my own, Steve Truglio was kind enough to send me shots of each band who played, and you’ll find them after the jump.

Read more »

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The Obelisk All-Dayer Countdown: Funeral Horse, “Burial of the Sun” Live in Houston

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features, The Obelisk Presents on August 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk all-dayer

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

Since their inception three years ago, Houston heavy rockers Funeral Horse have proved to have more than enough weirdo edge to match their rolling, classic-style groove. In the fine and long-standing tradition of Bizarro Texas, their material is both strange and familiar somehow, playing smartly off conventions of traditional metal and punk and noise rock, but establishing an experimental undercurrent that assures they’re completely allied to none of the above.

From their first record, 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here), onward, Funeral Horse have willfully defied expectation. At the time I confirmed them for The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar — just EIGHT DAYS AWAY; get your tickets here — I did so in no small part because I thought maybe seeing them live would help explain at least in part just what the hell it is they’re up to. I wound up seeing them this past February and not only did I get a sense of the roots of their offbeat vibe, but was taken aback by their stage presence and the tightness of their performance as well. Bonus.

The song in today’s countdown video is called “Burial of the Sun.” It was filmed in Houston a couple weeks ago and it comes from Funeral Horse‘s impending fourth album, Psalms of the Mourning, which is currently being recorded. I’m stoked beyond all repair to welcome Funeral Horse to The Obelisk All-Dayer and hopefully watch as they blow a few minds and catch a lot of people off-guard, which they’re bound to do even if you think you might know what to expect.

Funeral Horse join Mars Red Sky, Death Alley, Snail, Kings Destroy, EYE, King Buffalo and Heavy Temple on the bill at The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, NYC. For more info and to get your tickets for under the door price, click here.

Enjoy “Burial of the Sun” below:

Funeral Horse, “Burial of the Sun” Live in Houston

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

Funeral Horse on Thee Facebooks

Saint Vitus Bar website

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THE OBELISK ALL-DAYER: Official Poster & Runtimes Revealed

Posted in The Obelisk Presents, Visual Evidence on June 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk all-dayer poster skillit

Buy Tickets Here

Gaze upon its countenance and realize just how fucking awesome this show is going to be.

Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn marks the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer, a one-of-a-kind celebration of things heavy, noisy, psychedelic, progressive, and weird. In addition to being the first New York appearances for French heavy psych mavens Mars Red Sky, Amsterdam-based motor-rockers Death Alley, West Coast riff-rollers Snail and bizarro Texas punks Funeral Horse, The Obelisk All-Dayer will feature food on-hand, full and recorded sets, limited-edition posters and other merch, and an afterparty with DJ Adzo (aka Adam Kriney of Brooklyn’s The Golden Grass) and Walter Roadburn (the man behind the internationally renowned Roadburn festival).

Today the official poster, which will be available at the Vitus Bar in a limited and one-time run of 50, has been revealed. Art is by Los Angeles-based designer Sean “Skillit” McEleny, who has worked with numerous acts across both coasts as well as the header for this site and perfectly captures the strange awe and wonder that the show is certain to elicit front-to-back.

Following the revelation earlier this month of the complete lineup, the set runtimes are now also available:

the obelisk all-dayer logo skillit-700

Mars Red Sky* 10:10-11:40
Death Alley* 8:50-9:50
Snail* 7:30-8:30
Kings Destroy 6:30-7:10
EYE 5:30-6:10
Funeral Horse* 4:30-5:10
King Buffalo 3:30-4:10
Heavy Temple 2:30-3:10
(Afterparty with DJ Adzo & Walter Roadburn* 12-2AM)
* Debut appearance in NYC

Set times are firm. The Obelisk All-Dayer is proud to be giving these bands enough time to flesh out their performances, as opposed to rushing one into the next in a festival. The intent is that the day will be a laid-back party more than a festival, from the start of Heavy Temple‘s cult-worthy riffing through the psych-blues bliss of King Buffalo, the possibly-cape-inclusive doings of Funeral HorseEYE‘s lush progressive rock, locals Kings Destroy‘s aggro noise push and the one-two-three punch of SnailDeath Alley and Mars Red Sky, none of whom has ever played New York before.

Get your tickets immediately.

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

The Obelisk All-Dayer event page

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Total Coverage: Borderland Fuzz Fiesta Night One, Tucson, Arizona, 02.26.16

Posted in Features, Reviews on February 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

borderland-fuzz-fiesta-final-poster

No sleep, no food, no stopping. Heavy rock and roll waits, but why be impolite? I landed in Phoenix after a two-hour flight from San Francisco that put me back on Mountain Time, two hours behind the Eastern Seaboard. Totally livable. I can’t and won’t account for the frayed neurons playing havoc with the various cortices in my brain, but the two-hour drive through the desert from Phoenix to Tucson in my rental car was just enough open spaces to set the mood for Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016, my playlist along the way curated to the best of my admittedly limited ability.

I swung through the Arizona Riverpark Inn to engage in a ceremonious dropping off of stuff. Wasn’t time for much else. It was after 5PM by then and doors at 191 Toole seven minutes up the road were at six. Places to be. A quick hobo bath in the sink would have to do, and I was off, greeted by brothers Joey and Wayne Rudell, of the band Fuzz Evil and the organizers of Borderland Fuzz Fiesta, as well as Todd Severin of Ripple Music, Bucky Brown who writes for Ripple Effect, Randy Blood, Mark Aceves of Zed and others. Luminaries all. Voices put to names and faces from social networking, I was glad to be in good company. The vibe was relaxed and would remain so for the duration.

To follow-up on Elder canceling earlier this week owing to injury and Fatso Jetson taking their place — they rolled in with the dudes and ladies of Yawning Man, who headline night two — psych rockers 3rd Ear Experience called in sick with food poisoning. That left seven bands on the bill, which proved to be plenty enough to riff the evening into oblivion or something close to it and effectively wash away months’ worth of humdrum adultism, stress for work, real life, and so on. It was, I don’t mind saying, much needed.

The esteemed Lance Gordon and his Mad Alchemy crew would be working an oil light show for the entire night, six projectors going resulting in unparalleled psychedelic gorgeousness accompanying the bands while they played. Here’s how it went down, front to back:

Big Mean

big mean 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Among other things, Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016 would mark my first real exposure to local trio Big Mean, named presumably for both beard and riffery. Actually, the three-piece take their moniker from guitarist/vocalist “Big Mean” Maheen who started the band as a solo-project circa 2013. They released their first EP last year and dug into thick, straightforward grooves to start off the show, not without a harder bluesy edge, but still fluid enough to help set the vibe for the evening as they played on one of the two stages, located on the floor next the main stage. The crowd filtered in, and for a moment it seemed half the people there had cameras, but it was an all-ages show, so some genuine kids would show up throughout the course of the night, and Big Mean gave the evening a suitably unpretentious start, some raw volume — the cargo train going by on the tracks behind the venue, for example, could not be heard over them — and a spacier guitar finish that saved their best nod for last. They were way more of a band than a solo-project, and solid at that. Left no room for complaint.

Dead Canyon

dead canyon 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I can’t say Phoenicians Dead Canyon were a complete surprise, as I did check out their 2013 The Lonesome Company Demo to pick a track for the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016 mixtape, but the three subsequent years since that release have clearly brought some changes in their sound. Somewhat slicker thank the openers in their presentation, they got tighter as they went on, guitarist Frank Davenport and drummer Josh Bodnar sharing vocal duties over Roger Willams‘ thick bass tone, resulting in a sound that seemed like it would very easily translate to a long-player. I don’t know if they’re there yet, but they came across like a band with an album out, with touches of classic swing in Bodnar‘s drums and a very distinct sonic identity in development. They kept momentum between their first couple songs with a steady kick drum and stick clicks, stopping for the first time after three cuts, and even then not for long — there was shuffling to do. And they did it right on, with starts and stops that stood them out even on a night chock full of riff-led fare. They’d end the Arizona contingent of the lineup, but represented their home state well.

Zed

zed 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

San Jose four-piece Zed reportedly have a new album due out in August or thereabouts on Ripple Music, and much of what they played came from it. On a weekender with shows in Palm Desert and San Diego in addition to Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016, they also had a fill-in guitarist in the form of Tim Narducci of SPV heavy rockers Spiralarms, who took the place of Greg Lopez alongside guitarist/vocalist Pete Sattari, bassist Mark Aceves and drummer Rich Harris and was well at home running through “Please” from 2013’s Desperation Blues and new cuts like “Royale” and “Blood of the….” (I didn’t quite catch the full title). More aggressive than either Dead Canyon or Big Mean, they reminded me a bit of Dozer live, perhaps not as raging, but still two guitars pushing energetic material that doesn’t so much ask you to follow along as it does shove you in the direction it wants you to go. In any case, they were duly tight, Sattari showcasing punker roots reset in a thicker-riffed context, and if I hadn’t known beforehand that they weren’t playing with their permanent lineup, I wouldn’t have guessed. They closed with the more brooding “The Mountain” in grand style, a subdued feel at first flourished by lead interplay getting larger as it went. Zed sounded like a well-kept secret, and made me look forward to their record.

Funeral Horse

funeral horse 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Look. I like weird bands. I make no apologies for it. As such, Houston’s Funeral Horse were exactly what I was hoping for. First line of my notes? “Can’t spell Funeral Horse without ‘fun.'” They were that, guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer big on personality in leading the trio of himself, bassist Jason Argonaut and drummer Chris Bassett through “There Shall be Vultures” from their 2015 LP, Divinity for the Wicked (review here) as well as “Until the Last Nation Falls” from 2014’s Sinister Rites of the Master (review here) and “Scatter My Ashes over the Mississippi” from their 2013 debut, Savage Audio Demon (review here), along with what may have been a new song or two, all the while running a cohesive balance between blown-out stoner punk and heavy metal. Very clearly up for a good time but not at all a joke. On a personal note, I was already looking forward to having them at The Obelisk All-Dayer in August, but their ability to freak out the room at 191 Toole and actively not give even the remotest of fucks only made me more stoked to see them again. Bearer auctioned off Argonaut before “Scatter My Ashes” — I think the final bid was $20, including the bass — and their whole set was just a blast, a touch of ’90s noise rock more prominent in their sound than I’d previously realized. I was way into it, but hey, I like weird bands.

Fatso Jetson

fatso jetson 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Fatso Jetson‘s set came in two parts. For the first, they played as a five-piece fronted by Sean “The Captain” Wheeler of desert punkers Throw Rag. Wheeler sat in for opener “Trouble Maker,” as well as the mega-boogie “Golden Age of Cell Block Slang” from 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here), their most recent full-length, and “Swollen Offering” from 1998’s Toasted, trading lines back and forth with guitarist Mario Lalli and also backed by guitarist Dino von Lalli, Mario‘s son. Dino was freshly in the band last time I saw Fatso Jetson, three years ago at Desertfest London (review here), but that dynamic between father and son has clearly taken shape, which came out further in the jammier second part of the band’s set, sans Wheeler. Atop the somebody-should-build-a-statue-in-their-honor rhythm section of bassist Larry Lalli (Mario‘s cousin) and drummer Tony Tornay, Mario and Dino alternated leads between frenetic shredding and airier effects, backed each other on rhythms in “Magma” and “Dream Homes” and shared vocals as they pushed “Orgy Porgy” to what felt like it should’ve been well past the breaking point. They may have been a last-minute replacement for Elder, but Fatso Jetson owned the room immediately — locked in from the start and only built momentum as they went. Yeah, they had that split with Farflung (review here) last year, and one with Yawning Man before that, but it’s been too long since they put out a proper record. As they showed in their finishing jam playing off of “Too Many Skulls,” their chemistry is so dead on that it deserves to be captured one way or another. It’s like the whole planet doesn’t even know it’s waiting for them to out-rock it. They were phenomenal.

Blaak Heat

blaak heat 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Los Angeles by way of New York by way of Paris by way of who knows where else three-piece Blaak Heat — who’ve also dropped the “Shujaa” from their moniker in their many travels — had their work cut out for them headlining the floor stage. Playing between Fatso Jetson and Dead Meadow probably counts as the evening’s least enviable task, but the three-piece flourished. They’ll release their third album, Shifting Mirrors, in May through Tee Pee Records (Europe gets it in April), and aside from closing out with “Shadows (The Beast Pt. II)” from their 2013 sophomore outing, The Edge of an Era (review here), everything they played was new. This was particularly encouraging. I’d heard “Anatolia” on the aforementioned mixtape, but in songs like “Shifting” and “Zeta” (likely partial titles), they affirmed their progressive leanings in winding rhythmic complexity, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier an emergent frontman presence and new bassist Henry Evans (ex-Spindrift) and drummer Mike Amster (also Sinner Sinners, Boarchucker and ex-Abrams) seamless in their execution. It was noted on stage that Amster was just back from Europe — as in, the same day — and while I’m sure having just come from a time zone upwards of eight hours ahead of that in Arizona was taking a toll, it didn’t stop him in the slightest from nailing the heavy psych frenzy and stretches of undulating groove. As an initial impression, mostly their new stuff seems like it’s refusing to settle or be tamed. “Sword” (again, presumably a partial title) was a tornado in the desert, a fitting answer to Fatso Jetson‘s own riffy torrents, less jammy perhaps, but furious in its purpose and instrumental focus. I’m going to look forward to that album, “Shujaa” or no.

Dead Meadow

dead meadow 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been half a decade since I last saw Dead Meadow. That was Roadburn 2011 (review here). In the interim, the shoegaze-psych pioneers issued a studio full-length, Warble Womb, in 2013 and toured vociferously to support it. Now 16 years removed from their self-titled debut, Dead Meadow are both massively influential and completely underrated. Once they took stage, there was never any doubt. Drummer Mark Laughlin‘s stiff-armed swing rolled out the swim-in-this-tone bass of Steve Kille and the guitar of Jason Simon, and Simon‘s quiet vocals set a particularly molten vibe. It’s fortunate Mad Alchemy was around, since Dead Meadow are essentially the aural equivalent of a liquid light show. It took me a couple songs into their set to realize what was going on, but it marked a fascinating turn for Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016 to have Dead Meadow end the night. After Fatso Jetson and Blaak Heat, each more furious than the last, Dead Meadow were a sharp turn toward the laid back, and rather than drive the evening’s momentum over this or that edge, they melted the entire evening down and gave everyone an opportunity to bask in the warmth. Through cuts like “I Love You Too,” “The White Worm” and “Good Moanin’,” they were a gentle easing out for the night, all fuzz righteousness and non-aggro heft, effects wash and mellow-out. I wouldn’t try to make rash predictions or anything, but that’s a spirit I’d expect Yawning Man to echo at least in part in closing out Night Two, giving the festival a kind thematic cohesion that resonates as much conceptually as sonically. Either way, Dead Meadow — who’ve already toured South American and the West Coast in 2016 — were a trip into raw psychedelic bliss, which is a trip I just about always welcome taking, and in rounding out the night, they expanded the palette and minds alike. I’m going to try very hard not to let another five years pass before I see them again.

Before Dead Meadow went on, solo act Leonhardt went on near the merch area for a quick set of solo acoustic material. Another last-minute addition, his inclusion demonstrated a growing reach on the part of the fest stylistically. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did more of that kind of thing in the future.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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