Fuzz Evil and Switchblade Jesus Team up for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven

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

This news came in and I realized that somewhere in there I missed a chapter of Ripple Music‘s ongoing The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits. I’ve done my best to cover all of them — been late on almost every one, but still, I’ve gotten there eventually — but when I saw word that Chapter Seven was set to feature Fuzz Evil and Switchblade Jesus my joy at the prospect of some quality rock and roll was tempered by the question nagging at the back of my mind: Hey wait a second, what happened to Chapter Six?

I don’t have the promo for it in my email, which is kind of a bummer, but I’ll assume I did at one point or another or that it got lost in the transition between laptops from the one I called Ol’ Dusty to the one I use now, Big Red. In any case, if I can, I might try to sneak that Kayleth and Favequaid shared offering in at some point while also doing my best to cover Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz Evil, whose installment is set to arrive on Dec. 8, of course on Ripple.

The PR wire has it like this:

the second coming of heavy chapter 7

Switchblade Jesus / Fuzz Evil “Chapter 7: The Second Coming of Heavy” out on December 8 via Ripple Music

Ripple Music sets December 8th, 2017 as official release date for Switchblade Jesus / Fuzz Evil “Chapter 7: The Second Coming of Heavy” split!

Formed in 2014, Fuzz Evil is a chug-heavy 3 Piece that tames the fuzziest guitar and bass tones on the planet and wields them to blast a monolithic speaker-ripping fuzzapocaplyse for your ears and soul. Raw and dirty in “Stooges-like” fashion with soaring soulful vocals. Fuzz Evil released their first single, “Glitterbones” on a 7” split with the California trio Chiefs on Battleground records in 2014. In 2016 they followed up the single with a full self-titled debut release on Battleground records. In the past few year they have gone through a few line-up changes.. The current line-up is Orgo Martinez on drums, Wayne Rudell on guitar and vocals, and his brother Joey Rudell on bass and vocals.

From the depths of Texas, Switchblade Jesus returns with a heaviness and deep grooves that succeed their previous recordings. Mixing southwestern boogie, desert-worn blues, retro-metal assault and fierce rocking into a sound that screams Texas–at times sanguine and starkly beautiful, at others full of damn sexy groove and assaulting violence can only describe the music of Texan power rocking, fuzzed out stoner blues trio, Switchblade Jesus.

Consisting of Eric Calvert (Vox/Guitar) Jon Elizondo (Drums) and new comer Chris Black (bass) to the fold to create a new chapter in Switchblade Jesus, more Doom and Gloom but no lack of the groove that the Texan’s brought in the beginning.

https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
http://www.ripple-music.com

Kayleth & Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy Chapter Six (2017)

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Fuzz Evil Post “Black Dread” Video; Tour with Dandy Brown Starts this Weekend

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

fuzz evil

Ah, the public domain. Someday the greedy, soulless, oligarchical bastards who run our lives will take away that most human of notions — that something created and put into a public sphere belongs, after a time, to that sphere more than to its creator — because royalty checks, but while we’ve still got it, it’s nice to see it being put to good use. “Black Dread” is the second DIY video from Fuzz Evil‘s 2016 Battleground Records self-titled debut (review here) to cull its footage from such sources behind a lyric clip that surfaced in Nov. for “Killing the Sun” (posted here), and it uses creative editing to give a psychedelic impression from old educational cartoons filled with gloriously outdated science about atoms, space and the threat of nuclear annihilation. My mother tells stories about being told to “duck and cover” if the bomb got dropped. I’d say it was a horrifying time to be alive, but when wasn’t?

Anyhoozle, the song “Black Dread,” the title of which refers to one of Aegon Targaryen’s dragons in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire — Balerion, if you’re wondering — may or may not have anything to do with the structure of atoms or humanity’s thanatos drive, but it was one of my favorite tracks on Fuzz Evil‘s Fuzz Evil, so I’m happy for the chance to revisit it. More laid back than the bulk of the record, which found the trio of guitarist/vocalist Wayne Rudell, bassist Joseph Rudell and drummer Marlin Tuttle (the latter since replaced by Daniel Graves) dug into the crisp execution of sans-frills fuzz rockers like “Good Medicine” and “My Fuzz,” it was both the longest track at nearly seven minutes and the finale of that sub-half-hour outing, leaving the audience with a dreamier impression and perhaps a sign of sonic expansion and progression to come from the Arizona-based three-piece, whose desert vibes were writ large one way or another over each groove and the laid back, unpretentious atmosphere of the record as a whole.

Fuzz Evil, it just so happens, head out this coming weekend on a run to support the self-titled, going alongside Hermano‘s Dandy Brown and his band for shows in the Southern Californian desert and in Phoenix and their hometown of Sierra Vista, AZ. You can find those dates included under the video for “Black Dread” below, which it’s my pleasure to host for your streaming enjoyment.

So please, enjoy:

Fuzz Evil, “Black Dread” official video

Music by: Fuzz Evil
Edited by: Joseph Rudell of Fuzz evil

Music written, recorded, and owned by Fuzz Evil
All Footage from The archive.org and in the public domain.

Footage from:
–“Principles of Electricity” – Published 1945 – Usage Public Domain
–“Duck and Cover” by Archer Productions, Inc. – Published 1951 – Usage Public Domain
— “Drug Addiction” by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Inc. – Published 1951 – Usage Public Domain
— “A is for Atom” by Sutherland (John) Productions – Published 1953 – Usage Public Domain

Fuzz Evil live w/ Dandy Brown:
Saturday – 4/15 – San Diego, CA – Tower Bar
Monday – 4/17 – Riverside, CA
Tuesday – 4/18 – Joshua Tree, CA – The Beatnik Lounge
Wednesday – 4/19 – Palm Desert, CA – The Red Barn
Thursday – 4/20 – Pheonix, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
Friday – 4/21 – Sierra Vista, AZ – The Horned Toad

Fuzz Evil on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Evil on YouTube

Fuzz Evil on Bandcamp

LP order page at Battleground Records

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

Posted in Features on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 debut albums of 2016

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Of all the lists I do to wrap up or start any given year, this is the hardest. As someone obviously more concerned with first impressions than I am and thus probably better-dressed once said, you only get one chance at them. For bands, that can be a vicious bite in the ass on multiple levels.

To wit, you put out a great debut, fine, but there’s a whole segment of your listeners who’re bound to think you’ll never live up to it again. You put out a meh debut, you sell yourself short. Or maybe your debut is awesome but doesn’t really represent where you want to be as a band, so it’s a really good first impression, but a mistaken one. There are so many things that can go wrong or go right with any LP, but with debuts, the stakes are that much higher because it’s the only time you’ll get the chance to engage your audience for the first time. That matters.

And when it comes to putting together a list of the best debuts of the year, how does one begin to judge? True, some of these acts have done EPs and singles and splits and things like that before, and that’s at least something to go on, but can one really be expected to measure an act’s potential based on a single collection of songs? Is that fair to anyone involved? Or on the other side, is it even possible to take a debut entirely on its own merits, without any consideration for where it might lead the band in question going forward? I know that’s not something I’ve ever been able to do, certainly. Or particularly interested in doing. I like context.

Still, one presses on. I guess the point is that, like picking any kind of prospects, some will pan out and some won’t. I’ve done this for enough years now that I’ve seen groups flame or fade out while others have risen to new heights with each subsequent release. It’s always a mix. But at the same time, it’s important to step back and say that, as of today, this is where it’s at.

And so it is:

KING BUFFALO ORION

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

1. King Buffalo, Orion
2. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree
3. Heavy Temple, Chassit
4. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
5. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
6. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
7. Wretch, Wretch
8. Year of the Cobra, In the Shadows Below
9. BigPig, Grande Puerco
10. Fuzz Evil, Fuzz Evil
11. Bright Curse, Before the Shore
12. Conclave, Sins of the Elders
13. Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore
14. High Fighter, Scars and Crosses
15. Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion
16. Bellringer, Jettison
17. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Is Satan Real?
18. Merchant, Suzerain
19. Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
20. King Dead, Woe and Judgment

Honorable Mention

There are many. First, the self-titled from Pooty Owldom, which had so much weirdo charm it made my head want to explode. And Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic solo record was technically a debut. And Atala‘s record. And Horehound. And Mother Mooch. And Domkraft. And Spaceslug. And Graves at Sea? Shit. More than a decade after their demo, they finally put out a debut album. And Second Grave‘s full-length would turn out to be their swansong, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the thing. There were a lot of records to consider in putting this list together. As always, it could’ve been a much longer list.

For example, here are 20 more: Swan Valley Heights, Arctic, Blues Funeral, Teacher, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Nonsun, Duel, Banquet, Floodlore, Mindkult‘s EP, Mountain Dust, Red LamaRed Wizard, Limestone Whale, Dunbarrow, Comacozer, Sinister Haze, Pants Exploder, Akasava, Katla and No Man’s Valley. That’s not even the end of it. I could go on.

Notes

It was a fight to the finish. There’s always one, and as late as yesterday I could be found kicking back and forth between King Buffalo and Elephant Tree in the top spot. What was it that finally put King Buffalo‘s Orion over Elephant Tree‘s self-titled? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow and the answer might be completely different.

They had a lot in common. Not necessarily in terms of style — King Buffalo basked in spacious Americana-infused heavy psych jams while Elephant Tree proffered more earthbound riffing and melodies — but each executed memorable songs across its span in a way that would be unfair to ask of a debut. The potential for what both bands can turn into down the line played a part in the picks, but something else they share between them is that the quality of the work they’re doing now warrants the top spots. Orion and Elephant Tree were great albums, not just great first albums.

From there, we see a wide swath of next-generation encouragement for the future of heavy rock, whether it’s coming from Sweden’s Vokonis or Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, or London’s Bright Curse, or Los Angeles duo BigPig. The latter act’s punkish fuzz definitely benefited from guitarist/vocalist Dino von Lalli‘s experience playing in Fatso Jetson, but one hopes that as the years go on his own multifaceted songwriting style will continue to grow as well.

A few offerings weren’t necessarily unexpected but still lived up to the anticipation. High Fighter‘s EP prefaced their aggro sludgecore well. Ditto that for the grueling death-sludge of Massachusetts natives Conclave. The aforementioned Bright Curse, Merchant, Fuzz Evil, Atala, Bellringer, Holy Grove, Wretch and Worshipper all had offerings of one sort or another prior to their full-length debuts — in the case of Bellringer, it was just a series of videos, while Wretch had the entire The Gates of Slumber catalog to fall back on — but each of those albums offered surprises nonetheless.

It would’ve been hard not to be taken by the songwriting on display from the likes of Holy Grove, Year of the Cobra, Pale Grey Lore and Beastmaker, who between them covered a pretty broad variety of atmosphere but found ways to deliver high-quality crafted material in that. Those albums were a pleasure to hear. Put Boston’s Worshipper in that category as well, though they were just as much a standout from the pack in terms of their performance as what they were performing. Speaking of performance, the lush melodies from Church of the Cosmic Skull and classic progressive flourish were enough to make me a believer. Simply gorgeous. And one-man outfit Spirit Adrift shined, if in that matte-black doom kind of way, on an encouraging collection of modern melancholic heavy that seemed to hint at sprawl to come.

As we get down to the bottom of the list we find Pennsylvania ambient heavy post-rockers King Dead. Their Woe and Judgment was released digitally last year (2015) but the LP came out earlier this year, so I wasn’t quite sure where to place them ultimately. I know they got some mention on the 2015 lists somewhere, but while they’re an act who’ve flown under a lot of people’s radar as yet, I have good feelings about how they might continue to dig into their sound and the balance of bleakness and psychedelic color they bring to their material. They’re slated for a follow-up in 2017, so this won’t be the last list on which they appear in the next few weeks.

Like I said at the outset, putting out a debut album is a special moment for any band. Not everyone gets to that point and not everyone gets beyond it, so while a list like this is inherently bound to have some element of speculation, it’s still a worthy endeavor to celebrate the accomplishments of those who hit that crucial moment in their creative development. Hopefully these acts continue to grow, flourish, and build on what they’ve thus far been able to realize sonically. That’s the ideal.

And before I go, once again, let me reinforce the notion that I recognize this is just a fraction of the whole. I’d like it to be the start of a conversation. If there was a debut album that kicked your ass this year and you don’t see it here, please drop a note in the comments below. I’m sure I’ll be adding more honorable mentions and whatnot over the next couple days, so if you see glaring omissions, let’s have ’em.

Thanks for reading.

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Fuzz Evil Begin Lyric Video Series with “Killing the Sun”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 2nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

fuzz evil

A righteous hook is never a bad place to start, and Arizona heavy rock trio Fuzz Evil certainly have that working in their favor as they begin a new series of lyric videos from their self-titled debut (review here). My understanding is that it’s their intent to create a clip to coincide with each of the six tracks on the album, which came out on Battleground Records at the end of September, and they begin with the catchy and uptempo “Killing the Sun.” Among the cuts surrounding, it’s one of the more purely desert rock in theme and execution, and it finds the Sierra Vista three-piece neck-deep in the classic-style chemistry shared between the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Wayne Rudell, bassist Joey Rudell and drummer Marlin Tuttle, since replaced by Daniel Graves.

Joey Rudell took on the responsibility for putting together the lyric video himself, snagging an awesome public domain space cartoon from archive.org and setting the text to it with some creative, rhythmic editing and a retro font to keep the look consistent. The Rudells have shown a genuine DIY streak over the last couple years, in Fuzz Evil and their other outfit, Powered Wig Machine, as well as in their helming the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta festival, so to find them diving into a task of promoting their first Fuzz Evil album with what will (theoretically at this point; sometimes plans change) basically result in a video for each track seems about consistent to their general operating modus. If you haven’t yet been introduced to the LP, the clip is a charming means of accomplishing that, and if nothing else, think of it as an excuse to pay another visit to a cool track from the record. Not that you really need one, but still.

Credits and links follow the video below.

Enjoy:

Fuzz Evil, “Killing the Sun” lyric video

Credits:
Song From: Fuzz Evil 2016 release “Fuzz Evil”
Written, and owned by Fuzz Evil

Footage: “from Destination Earth”
Downloaded from https://archive.org/
by Sutherland (John) Productions
Published 1956
Usage Public Domain
Sponsor American Petroleum Institute
Audio/Visual Sd, C

Edited by: Joseph Rudell

Fuzz Evil on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Evil on YouTube

Fuzz Evil on Bandcamp

LP order page at Battleground Records

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Fuzz Evil, Fuzz Evil: The Good Medicine (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

fuzz-evil-fuzz-evil

[Click play above to stream Fuzz Evil’s self-titled debut in its entirety. Album is out today, Sept. 30, on Battleground Records.]

If Arizona trio Fuzz Evil‘s debut album feels like it’s been a long time coming, it hasn’t. The band based in Sierra Vista — near Mexico, but I don’t know if it qualifies as a “border town” — only formed in 2014, and it’s much to the credit of the impression they’ve made thus far that their first full-length hits with such a measure of anticipation.

Released on Battleground Records, Fuzz Evil‘s Fuzz Evil follows behind two prior short outings: a late-2014 split with Chiefs (review here) that marked their first release, and a single, “Born of Iron” (streamed here), that hit in the middle of last year. Both of those showed considerable promise on the part of the band in pushing forth unpretentious desert-minded heavy rock, straightforward in construction and based around an easy flowing songwriting process putting the brotherly pair of guitarist/vocalist Wayne Rudell and bassist Joey Rudell — also both of Powered Wig Machine and organizers of the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta — at the fore in tone and presentation.

Fuzz Evil, the album, marks the farewell of drummer Marlin Tuttle, who has since been replaced by Daniel Graves (also Powered Wig Machine), and the band’s original lineup goes out much the way it came in: on a foundation of quality songs incorporating influences without being overly indebted to them.

I don’t think they’re the kind of band looking to set the world on fire, but the spirit behind the material across the manageable six-track/29-minute span here is genuine, and for as little as Fuzz Evil ask in indulgences of the listener — maybe a couple jammy minutes at the end of closer “Black Dread”; still not much in the grander scheme of existence — what they deliver far outweighs. Six-string wizard Arthur Seay of House of Broken Promises and Unida puts in a guest spot on lead guitar for opener “Good Medicine,” but even his blazing fret work becomes another part of the total impression the band makes, as does the later organ work of Brian Gold, who also recorded, mixed and mastered the collection at Primrose Studio.

One might say the same of the production itself, since from the sound of the crash-in cymbals of “Good Medicine,” Fuzz Evil have a rawness of sound that persists even as they expand outward from the album’s first four tracks into the longer and jammier final two. By the time “Good Medicine” has seen fit to give way to the subsequent “My Fuzz” — some charming self-awareness paired with a strutting riff — it’s even harder to ignore in light of the band’s name how much Rudell‘s guitar tone actually has in common with old Celtic Frost or even circa-1984 Saint Vitus in its bite, playing to both the “fuzz” and the “evil.”

fuzz-evil

Whether that’s on purpose or not, I wouldn’t speculate, but as “My Fuzz” proffers one of the record’s best hooks, it adds depth to the proceedings overall, and speaks at very least to the band’s ability to evoke a varied response. I could be way off any actual influences, in other words, but “Killing the Sun,” which is more post-Queens of the Stone Age in its construction, has some of that underlying darkness too, bolstered by the fact that the vocals are pushed down in the mix under the guitar and bass.

Remembering this is Fuzz Evil‘s first album, and that it’s short, the momentum the Rudells and Tuttle build across the first four tracks is all the more impressive for its flow from one to the next, “My Fuzz” collapsing into the start of “Killing the Sun,” or “Bring Them Through” picking up on the beat from there with a more forward melody in its hook and a mid-paced tempo that does well in setting up the expansion that begins with “Odin Has Fallen” and continues into closer “Black Dread,” the latter also the longest song on Fuzz Evil at just over seven minutes.

Not that Fuzz Evil are going completely off the rails or anything — they keep a consistent sense of craftsmanship — but they space out some wah on “Odin Has Fallen” and in the second half of the track, Wayne drawls out his vocals in a way that reminds of Electric Wizard‘s Jus Oborn, albeit in a much different context. That track finishes with a crash and organ at the beginning of “Black Dread” immediately provides a signal that the palette has expanded.

The aforementioned prior single “Born of Iron” demonstrated a jammier side of Fuzz Evil‘s style, and with its fluid lead work, effects flourish, keys, and languid rhythmic motion, “Black Dread” seems to be building on similar impulses. By its midsection, it’s conjuring howling psychedelia and is locked into the instrumental jam that will carry through its remaining three minutes, each member of the trio playing their part in a final exhibition of the chemistry they’ve established to this point.

Like most of the record before it, “Black Dread” is smooth and will be accessible for the already converted, but the manner in which it adds to the earlier and more straight-ahead material isn’t to be understated. Especially for a debut, it’s a pivotal turn, and one well made. With a few surprises in its overall sound, roughness, songwriting and front-to-back push, Fuzz Evil‘s first expands on the work they have done in setting it up through their singles and sets in motion a creative progression that could continue in any number of directions. It’s reassuring to hear a relatively new band with such a clear idea of who and what they want to be.

Fuzz Evil on Thee Facebooks

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Fuzz Evil to Release Self-Titled Debut Sept. 30

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

fuzz evil

I’m an easy sell on the prospect of Fuzz Evil‘s debut album. Having been lucky enough to see the trio in their native Arizona this past February, I’ll say they left zero doubt they were up to the task of their first full-length, and the newly-streaming “Killing the Sun” from their upcoming self-titled would seem to back that opinion thoroughly. They’ve got a couple choice guests involved as well — anytime Arthur Seay shows up, it’s a party — and Fuzz Evil‘s Fuzz Evil will be out via respected purveyor Battleground Records on Sept. 30.

If you’ve been paying attention or have seen the new release calendar on the forum, you already know that Sept. 30 is arguably the most crowded release date of the year. No coincidence as it’s when print mags will be starting to get their year-end lists in for consideration. Nonetheless, Fuzz Evil boldly throw their hat in the ring with Brant Bjork, Truckfighters, Alcest, Holy Serpent and Langfinger, as well as probably six or seven others still to come. I look forward to hearing what they’ve come up with for the album as a whole.

West Coast tour dates and the album announcement, from the PR wire:

fuzz evil self-titled

FUZZ EVIL to release debut album on Battleground Records | Embark on US West Coast Tour this October

Fuzz Evil is released on 30th September 2016

Formed in Arizona’s Sierra Vista in 2014, Fuzz Evil is a riff propelled power trio founded by brothers Wayne and Joseph Rudell of heavy desert stoners Powered Wig Machine.

With two singles currently to their name – last year’s ‘Born Of Iron’ and 2014’s 7” split with fellow Arizonans, Chiefs – this September sees the official release of their self-titled debut on the Washington-based label Battleground Records.

Joined by newest member and fellow Powered Wig Machinist Daniel Graves on drums, Fuzz Evil serves up a thunderous blast of rock ‘n’ roll reverie indebted to the likes of MC5, The Stooges, Clutch and Black Sabbath. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Primrose Studio by Brian Gold, from the opening crunch of ‘Good Medicine’ (featuring Unida/House Of Broken Promises’ Arthur Seay) to the progressively harbingered ‘Black Dread’, the album flows like the diaries of a cosmic nomad. Swirling and psychedelically enhanced with storylines spun from the mind’s eye of vocalist Wayne Rudell and his obsession with comic books, science fiction and cult cinema.

Fuzz Evil also embark on US West Coast Tour this October in support of the new album, which will receive an official release on 30th September via Battleground Records. For the full list of dates take a look below.

Fuzz Evil:
Wayne Rudell – Vocals/Guitar
Joseph Rudell – Bass Guitar
Daniel Graves – Drums

Arthur Seay (House Of Broken Promises/Unida) – Lead Guitar on ‘Good Medicine’
Marlin Tuttle – Drums
Brian Gold – Keys

Fuzz Evil Live:
1/10 – Silver Dollar Saloon – El Monte, CA
2/10 – Golden Bull – Oakland, CA
3/10 – TBC – San Jose, CA
4/10 – Starlite Lounge – Sacremento, CA
6/10 – Kenton Club – Portland, OR
7/10 – Valley’s – Tacoma, WA
8/10 – Tim’s – Seattle, WA
9/10 – Sam Bonds – Eugene, OR

Artist: Fuzz Evil
Title: Fuzz Evil
Release Date: 30th September 2016
Label: Battleground Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
All songs written by Fuzz Evil
Recorded/Mixed/Mastered by Brian Gold at Primrose Studio, Sierra Vista, Arizona

Artwork by Joseph Rudell & Carrie Olaje of Ghosttown Graphic Art – facebook.com/ghosttowngraphicart

https://www.facebook.com/FuzzEvil/
https://fuzzevil.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords/
https://battlegroundrecords.bandcamp.com/

Fuzz Evil, “Killing the Sun”

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Crucialfest 6 Announces Lineup; Russian Circles, SubRosa, Mos Generator, Fuzz Evil, CHRCH and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Fucking a, Crucialfest 6. You win this round.

The Salt Lake City-based festival has announced its 2016 lineup, and it’s both all over the place stylistically and awesome, so kudos all around. My understanding is early-bird tickets are on their way to being sold out, and with the likes of Russian Circles, SubRosa, Mos Generator, Form of Rocket, CHRCH, Mammoth Salmon and a slew of others I both have and haven’t heard of, I can’t say it’ll be a surprise when they’re gone. Hell, Ape Machine are gonna be there. You know it’s a party when they show up.

I’m not sure if this is the full roster of bands or if Crucialfest 6 will be adding more, but it’s a killer assemblage as it is, as the PR wire can confirm:

crucialfest 6 poster

Crucialfest 6 lineup announced

Salt Lake City, UT

Russian Circles, Helms Alee, SubRosa, Wizard Rifle, Mos Generator, Theories to headline Crucialfest 6 with historic reunion sets from SLC natives Form of Rocket, Ether, The New Transit Direction

When: June 15-18, 2016
Where: The Urban Lounge, Metro Bar, Kilby Court, The Art Garden
Web: Crucialfest.com
Tickets: bit.ly/1QLqLPN -Early bird discount wristbands still available

Crucialfest announces its most incredible lineup to date with Crucialfest 6! This June 15-18th CF6 brings the heavies to downtown Salt Lake City. Hosting 10 showcases and 50+ bands over 4 days (plus a warm up show June 11th), CF6 promises to deliver high-energy live performances from local and national bands alike, and a memorable experience for all. Crucialfest aims to heat up the local rock/metal scene & the touring environment for Utah bands by putting them on the stage with internationally recognized bands. It revitalizes the local scene with reunion sets from some of Salt Lake’s most influential bands. Info and tickets at: www.crucialfest.com

Confirmed Lineup:
Russian Circles, Form of Rocket, The New Transit Direction, Ether, Helms Alee, SubRosa, Wizard Rifle, Mos Generator, Theories, Gaytheist, INVDRS, The Drip, InAeona, Immortal Bird, Ape Machine, Greg Bennick, CHRCH, Colombian Necktie, Baby Gurl, Elephant Rifle, Heartless Breakers, Fuzz Evil, Mammoth Salmon, Throes, Oxcross, Worst Friends, Mercy Ties, Muscle Beach, Sol, Bereft, Die Off, Handicapitalist, Thunderfist, I Buried The Box with your Name, MKNG FK, Donner Party House, Discoid A, Exes, Moon of Delirium, Turbo Chugg, Cicadas, Wulf Blitzer, Yeti Warlord, Former Tides, The Future of the Ghost, Scary Uncle Steve, Turtle Neck Wedding Dress, Cactus Pharm

bit.ly/1QLqLPN
https://www.facebook.com/crucialfest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1542572209373510/
Crucialfest.com

Russian Circles, Memorial (2013)

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Total Coverage: Borderland Fuzz Fiesta Night Two, Tucson, Arizona, 02.27.16

Posted in Features, Reviews on February 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

borderland-fuzz-fiesta-final-poster

Another night on the Southwestern front. What portion of the day I hadn’t spent writing, I spent huddled up in a tired mass, the hotel curtain drawn to keep out a punishingly hot desert sun. My excuse was I was saving energy for the show, but I think really I might’ve just been afraid of melting in unfamiliar terrain. Before I rolled back into 191 Toole for the second night of Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016, I walked through a little bit of downtown Tucson — or what seemed to be downtown Tucson, anyhow — and grabbed a cup of coffee and an iced tea.

People outside, in shorts, enjoying the weather and each other’s company. Sitting outside of restaurants and markets, speaking English, Spanish, some mixture of the two. Awesome. Families with babies, couples, singles, loners, and me and my coffee lumbering back toward 6th St. Doors were 6:30, first band 7PM. I found fest organizers Joey and Wayne Rudell of Fuzz Evil near the back of the venue in a conversational round with much the same group as yesterday as bands were making their way in. Immediately it was more crowded than night one had been, and only became more so as bands swapped back and forth between the floor and the main stage.

That process was smoother than it had been on the first night of the fest, somewhat expectedly, but I think a big part of that was that everyone showed up. No food poisoning. So it was easier to get a sense of what Wayne and Joey — both sociable, friendly, gracious guys, but with different enough personalities that one imagines they could’ve had some real knock-down-drag-outs as kids — were going for in structuring the lineup, moving from the desert to crunchier fare and finally out among spaces so vast that they might as well be space itself. We’ll get there.

Once again, the show featured the fantastic talents of Lance Gordon and Mad Alchemy. Things seen and heard:

Sounds Like Murder

sounds like murder 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Each night of Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016 featured two bands from Arizona. Phoenix trio Sounds Like Murder lead off the second night of the fest with gritty metallic push. Sounds more like riffs than murder, but they got their point across. Vocalist/bassist Dirty had the low-garble vocal thing going, and he wouldn’t be the last of the night, and could barely be understood talking between songs — in my head I heard David Huddleston call it “authentic frontier gibberish” — but while much of their output came from the post-Down school of dudely chug, they had some funk in their opener that showed there was more going on under the surface. That may have come via Clutch, it was hard to tell from the stage, but either way, the place was more crowded early and the Southern style Sounds Like Murder proffered effectively foreshadowed Switchblade Jesus‘ set later on and Dirty, guitarist Irish Mike and drummer Opie had a strong idea of what they were going for, even going so far as to add some throat singing at the end of “1340,” which was a genuine surprise.

Dandy Brown

dandy brown 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A quick swap in vibe brought up Dandy Brown, guitarist for Hermano, playing with a solo band. A double-guitar four-piece who would share bassist Damien Lautiero with Waxy later on, they ran through a set of fluid desert rock, brought a crowd with them, and emphasized quality songcraft from the very start in swaps between restraint and letting go. Brown himself seemed right at home in classic structures, familiar but not necessarily derivative, and his and the other guitar meshed fluidly throughout the songs, also adding backup vocals on “The Sleeper.” While they were still playing, I wondered if they had records for sale — even better, turned out they had CDs for free; I grabbed two — and though they didn’t have time to get to their planned cover of Floyd‘s “Astronomy Domine,” that spirit came through nonetheless. In front of the stage, kids played while wearing earmuffs, giving the set even more of a wholesome feel as Brown worked in his John Garcia-style croon and the righteously laid back feel of “Santa Fe Trail” before new song “This World” finished out. Hermano reportedly have new stuff in the works, following up on 2007’s underrated Into the Exam Room, but whenever/whether it comes to fruition, that spirit was served and represented well at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016.

Cloud Catcher

cloud catcher 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Denver trio Cloud Catcher damn near ran away with this entire festival. I mean it. I dug the hell out of their debut album, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here and here), and was thrilled to find that the live delivery was no less vigorous. Guitarist/vocalist Rory Rummings, bassist Kam Wenworth and drummer Jared Handman were only on the second night of an 11-show tour, but they were air tight through upbeat twists and tempo changes, dead on grooves culled from ’70s giants transposed onto thick tones and shredding leads, propulsive crash and rumble. When they’re done with this tour, they’ll record a new album — exactly the right time to do it — which they should send everywhere, because frankly I can’t imagine some label wouldn’t want to pick them up based on what I heard. They posted a demo for “Celestial Empress” last month, and that song was aired along with “Visions” and others from the forthcoming release. Watching the crowd have its ass handed to it, I couldn’t help but hope they expand their geographic reach for the sophomore LP, because while Cloud Catcher had the West Coast heavy thing down, set-finale “Righteous Ruin” shifted from its twists and turns into a big, bluesy slowdown that showed they’re bringing even more of themselves to the table. Hands were up for high fives before they even finished playing the song, and rightly so.

Waxy

waxy 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

By the time Waxy — the Palm Desert-dwelling trio of guitarist/vocalist Robbie Owen. Damien Lautiero and drummer Jeff Bowman (Unsound) — took the stage, the momentum of the night was set. Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016 was moving quickly, but smoothly, and Waxy would follow-up on the desert stylizations of Dandy Brown with more solidly constructed desert rock, delving into an earlier Queens of the Stone Age vibe, which of course is nothing to complain about. Their latest album, Without Any Explanation Why (get it? W-A-X-Y?), was released in 2014, and “Motorcade” from it (also from their 2007 debut, Chainsaw Holiday) was a highlight, richly toned and catchy in a Kyuss-style mid-paced push. Laid back until they weren’t, they effectively switched up moods while keeping a steady flow throughout, Lautiero backing Owen effectively despite being a little low in the mix at first. That got worked out as they went on toward “Disaster” from their 2011 self-titled second record, which of course was anything but, as they provided a last look at the desert before the evening dipped into harder-edged fare. I don’t know if they’re planning a new release, but they were an easy sell for the crowd, myself included.

Blackwülf

blackwulf 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Back on the floor stage, Oakland aggro punk-metallers Blackwülf boasted both the weekend’s only umlaut and the weekend’s only standalone frontman (apart from Sean Wheeler guesting in Fatso Jetson) in Alex Cunningham, and even he had a tambourine and some maracas on-hand. They made their Ripple Music debut late last year with Oblivion Cycle (review here), their second offering overall, from which the hook of “Never Forget” stood out thanks in no small part to its fist-pumping riff. Guitarist Pete Holmes, bassist Scott Peterson and drummer Dave Pankenier fostered a tense vibe under Cunningham‘s shouts, sneers and singing, but wanted nothing for tonal heft either in “Faith Healer” or “Acid Reign,” the creeping guitar progression of which felt less “South of Heaven” live than on record. Their set seemed to end abruptly. Not sure if they got cut off for time or were just done quick — seemed like some acts played it looser than others when it came to how much time they spent on stage, as will happen — but it felt short, which I took as an encouraging sign either way. Everything they played came from Oblivion Cycle, and in addition to the accent in their name and the lack of a guitar or bass in Cunningham‘s hands, they were also distinguished by being clearly the angriest band of the fest. They won the title outright, and then, presumably, stomped on it because they were so pissed off.

Switchblade Jesus

switchblade jesus 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Blackwülf may have been the angriest band of the two nights, but Switchblade Jesus I think were the loudest. I didn’t have a dB meter to confirm that or anything, but god damn, the Corpus Christi, Texas-based four-piece were loud. Most notably in Jason Beers‘ bass. The punch of his Gibson Thunderbird came through the 191 Toole room mix in full assault, and the effect was that the dual guitars of Billy Guerra (who played on the dark side of the stage) and Eric Calvert (also vocals) sounded viscous as they conjured dudely chug, nasty and grooving. Burl. All the burl. Songs about whiskey. Drummer Jon Elizondo, encased in shadow behind Calvert, served as the foundation on which all of it was laid, and to go along with “The Wolves” and “Sick Mouth” from their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), which was subsequently reissued via both Kozmik Artifactz and Ripple Music in 2014 and 2015, they had a host of new material in “Snakes,” “Bastard,” the plus-sized nod of “Wet Lungs” and closer “Mountain” to show where they’re at now. Their cap was preceded by Calvert asking the crowd “You want it heavy or what?” The answer was clear as they brought it for “Mountain,” its rolling chorus sure to catch attention when their next record shows up.

Fuzz Evil

fuzz evil 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Before Fuzz Evil started their set proper, brothers Wayne Rudell and Joey Rudell — also the showrunners for Borderland Fuzz Fiesta — took a couple minutes for a guitar and bass jam. Drummer Marlin Tuttle seemed to have loaned some drum hardware to Switchblade Jesus, so the changeover wasn’t as immediate, and while they may have just been filling time noodling, that jam came to inform everything they played thereafter, resulting in a much more psychedelic set than I expected from either their 2015 single “Born of Iron” (streamed here) or prior 2014 split with Chiefs, both of which were more straightforward. That surprise made it for me. It was a thrill to see Joey, his machine-gun bass held aloft, and Wayne, his guitar coated in tone worthy of the band’s name, work side by side to carry across a set of mostly new material. As to when they might get around to a full-length debut, they weren’t forthcoming, but I’ll hope they capture some of that impromptu spirit, because as it blended with their established penchant for fuzzy hooks and driving, straightforward songs — see the swinging “Glitterbones” — it made their time on stage that much richer to experience. They moved the progression of the evening away from the burl of Switchblade Jesus and provided a transition into Yawning Man still to come, but more than that, they gave the assembled crowd, which included Dead Meadow, who showed up to watch, a set worthy of headliners while at the same time not being afraid to smile onstage and actively have a good time. Mirroring their start, they ended with an effects-drenched jam, Wayne twisting pedal knobs while Joey and Marlin held the flow together, so that in addition to having put on a killer show, Fuzz Evil put on a killer show. Go figure.

Yawning Man

yawning man 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Yawning Man before (review here), so in a conceptual sense I knew what was coming, but until I stood there and had the bliss of tone provided by the guitars of Gary Arce and special guests Mario Lalli and Dino von Lalli (both Fatso Jetson) oozing forth from the stage, I don’t think I really had any idea. All three were recognizable, clear in the mix — which, taken with the keys of Malene Arce (also LewdFlesh), the bass of Justine Summer Heaven and Bill Stinson‘s cymbal wash, felt like a friggin’ miracle — and each added something different, Dino holding down rhythms, Mario tearing into leads and Gary finger-plucking strings to emit serenity through his years-in-the-making tone, as signature to the desert as sand and dry air. Long a power trio, as a six-piece, Yawning Man bordered on orchestral, and while parts were definitely recognizable, a good portion of their time was spent moving into, through and back out of open jamming, keys adding to the airy feel and Stinson and Heaven and sometimes Dino marking out a rhythmic terrain and holding firm while Arce and Mario traded adventurous leads. It was glorious. Liquid enough that you wanted to swim in it, warm enough that you wanted to get a sunburn, and raw and creatively vital. Glances from Arce and Mario guided the band through peaks and valleys in new song “Wind Cries Linn” (streamed here), its core guitar lines memorable and built outward on stage, and “Dark Meet” from the band’s 2013 split with Fatso Jetson was the foundation for an extended final jam, Dino keeping a start-stop rhythm line that gave a progressive, languid space rock vibe. The crowd had thinned out by then, but those who remained knew they were seeing and hearing something special. Yawning Man carried that jam up, down and around again, deconstructing it only to put it together again, Mario pulling an ebow out of his pocket and Bill leaning his whole body into his cymbals, which seemed to have moved somewhat away from where they started out. As the four-piece of Gary and Malene Arce, Heaven and Stinson, Yawning Man will reportedly have a new EP out this year, and I can’t wait to hear what spaces they explore next. Like Dead Meadow the night before, they closed out Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016 on an otherworldly note and offered a prime example of why they’re so often given the “legend” tag.

When they were done, I hung around for a few minutes to say a couple goodnights and thank yous, so I’ll do the same here. First, to Wayne and Joey Rudell, without whose support and efforts this trip simply wouldn’t have happened. Thanks also to The Patient Mrs. for her coordinating prowess, to Todd Severin, Randy Blood, Bucky Brown, Mark Aceves, Rory Rummings, Mario and Dino Lalli, Gary Arce and everyone else I was lucky enough to hang out with over this weekend.

In a few minutes, I’ll get the hell out of this hyper-pretentious, Mickey Mouse reggae coffee shop and head to see some desert before I go to the airport. My flight is 11:30PM tonight and puts me into Boston at 6AM, gaining two hours back in the return to Eastern time. I’m looking forward not necessarily to getting back to real life — from which I think I needed a respite even more than I understood — but to seeing The Patient Mrs. and the Little Dog Dio, and that’s enough to get me home.

Thank you for reading. This has been an unreal experience and wouldn’t have happened without your support.

More pics after the jump.

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