The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2015

Posted in Features on December 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top 20 short releases of 2015

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

What’s a short release? Anything that’s not a full-length. I’ve done this list in the past and given a small list — The Top 20 EPs, Splits, Demos and Singles, or whatever — but “Short Releases” seemed more concise, and believe it or not, that’s something I shoot for.

Essentially, what we’re taking a look at here is everything else a band might put out in a given year. No question that albums are where the greatest impact is made over the longer term, but from landmark 7″s to EPs that provide crucial experiments or serve notice of bands solidifying their sound or marking pivotal first impressions, the shorter offerings have tremendous value, and it’s worth considering them on their own merit, rather than in comparison to LPs directly.

I know for a fact that there are releases I’ve missed here. Particularly among the Bandcamp-only demos, there’s just so much out there that for any one person to keep up with all of it is even more impossible than it’s ever been before. Before you berate me immediately with, “Hey you forgot X Band!” and start throwing tomatoes at your computer or mobile device screen, please keep in mind The Obelisk is run by a single individual and there are only so many hours in the day. As always, I do the best I can.

Here we go:

foehammer foehammer

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2015

1. Foehammer, Foehammer EP
2. Mos Generator & Stubb, The Theory of Light and Matter Split
3. Sun Voyager, Lazy Daze EP
4. All Them Witches, A Sweet Release
5. Geezer & Borracho, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 1 Split
6. Fatso Jetson & Farflung, Split
7. Eggnogg & Borracho, Sludgy Erna Bastard Split 7″
8. Shroud Eater, Face the Master EP
9. Bedroom Rehab Corporation, Fortunate Some EP
10. Stars that Move, Demo Songs
11. Wight, Helicopter Mama 7″
12. Thera Roya, Unraveling EP
13. Shatner, EP
14. Cities of Mars, Cyclopean Ritual EP
15. Pyramidal & Domo, Jams from the Sun Split
16. Sandrider & Kinski, Split
17. Mount Hush, Low and Behold! EP
18. Godhunter & Amigo the Devil, The Outer Dark Split
19. Groan, Highrospliffics EP
20. Rozamov & Deathkings, Split

Honorable Mention

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Notes

It’s something of a break in routine for me to put any kind of debut in a top spot (other, of course, than on the list of debuts), but Foehammer simply would not be denied. The Virginia trio’s three-song EP release on Grimoire Records (LP on Australopithecus Records), it was a self-titled that seemed to be telling you the name of the band twice as if in a warning against forgetting it. And that warning was one to heed. Foehammer‘s first outing brought the Doom Capitol region to new heights of extremity, and while at over half-an-hour long it could’ve just as easily have been called a full-length, part of the overarching threat is what the band will bring to bear when they actually get around to their first LP.

A good number of splits included here, with Mos Generator and Stubb‘s The Theory of Light and Matter (HeviSike Records), Geezer and Borracho‘s The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 1 (launching a series for Ripple Music), Fatso Jetson and Farflung‘s joint release (on Heavy Psych Sounds) and Eggnogg and Borracho‘s Sludgy Erna Bastard (on Palaver Records) all cracking the top 10. No coincidence that Washington D.C. heavy riffers Borracho show up twice in that mix. As Pyramidal and Domo‘s blissful Jams from the Sun, Sandrider and Kinski‘s one-two, Godhunter and Amigo the Devil‘s Battleground Records collaboration and Rozamov and Deathkings‘ joint single feature between #11-20, a total of eight out of the full included 20 releases here are splits. Last year it was only five.

Whether that means the form is growing in an attempt to capture fickle social-media-age attention spans while cutting individual vinyl pressing costs, I couldn’t say — likely a combination of the two and more besides — but it’s noteworthy that a split is more than just a toss-off, between-albums castaway at this point, something for songs to later be included on rare-tracks comps. One could easily say the same of EPs as a whole. To that end, Sun Voyager‘s Lazy Daze was a brutal tease for the NY psychgaze outfit’s first album, hopefully out in 2016. And while All Them WitchesA Sweet Release was over 50 minutes long — longer, actually, than their Dying Surfer Meets His Maker LP, which was also issued this year — they considered it an EP/live collection, and that indeed proved how it worked best, immersive though its stretch remained.

Shroud Eater and Bedroom Rehab Corporation both turned in impressive outings that showed marked progression from their last time out, while Shatner‘s first batch of tracks tipped off a songwriting process well-honed and Stars that Move, Cities of Mars, Thera Roya and Mount Hush — I’d put Mount Desert in this category as well — had compelling outings that, like Foehammer at the top, showed much potential at work in formative sounds. Not to be forgotten, Wight‘s Helicopter Mama 7″ gave listeners a heads up on the funkified stylistic turn their upcoming full-length, Love is Not Only What You Know, will take even further, and UK stoner miscreants Groan proved once and for all that, along with logic and reason, a constantly changing lineup can’t hold back their good times.

Like I said — like I always say — if I left something out, let me know about it in the comments. Really let me have it. Call me a jerk. It’s cool. I can take it.

Please note: I can, in no way, take it.

Still, if I left something/someone out, I hope you’ll let me know. And please don’t forget that if you haven’t yet, you can still contribute your list of 2015 favorites to the year-end poll until Dec. 31. EPs, LPs, whatever, however many, it doesn’t matter. All entries are welcome there.

Thanks for reading.

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Godhunter & Amigo the Devil Premiere Video for “Weeping Willow”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

godhunter and amigo the devil the outer dark

If you caught wind of Arizona’s Godhunter via either of their 2014 releases — the full-length City of Dust (review here) or the GH/OST:S split with the newly-signed to Metal Blade outfit Secrets of the Sky (review here) — then cheers, but neither of those is going to do much to give you a context for comprehending the new Battleground Records/The Compound 7″ collaboration with Miami’s Amigo the DevilThe Outer Dark, except perhaps to demonstrate that just about anything is fair game when it comes to the Tucson six-piece, be it hardcore-infused sludge chaos or post-metallic droning malevolence.

The Outer Dark, it’s worth noting, toys with neither, and instead, Godhunter & Amigo the Devil offer two slices of downer neofolk, doomed in spirit, of weighted emotionality, but subdued and brooding rather than aggressive. A sense of atmosphere proves consistent with some of what showed up on the prior split, but essentially, Godhunter are working in a new form, as Danny Kiranos, aka Amigo the Devil, steps in on vocals to add Americana-style dramatics togodhunter amigo the devil “Weeping Willow” and the B-side cover of Nirvana‘s “Something in the Way,” which, being of a certain age, I recall hearing after the finish of 1991’s Nevermind, its moody minimalism just waiting to have all kinds of adolescent importance cast onto it as only the best pop can withstand.

Godhunter & Amigo the Devil have given that cut its due, and next to “Weeping Willow,” the context is completely different. The original composition shifts into classic murder balladry, with Kiranos topping Godhunter‘s arrangement in harmonized layers that add to the full-sounding instrumental backing’s pervasive sadness, a violent turn coming in the second half that, even if you’ve heard Godhunter at their most raging, I doubt you’ll find lacking in heaviness.

Ahead of the Feb. 13 release of The Outer Dark, I have the pleasure of hosting today a premiere for the video of “Weeping Willow.” Put together by the esteemed Frank Huang, its dark Western themes sit well alongside Godhunter & Amigo the Devil‘s own, one atmosphere enhancing the other in a morose symbiosis. More release info follows the video below. Enjoy:

Godhunter & Amigo the Devil, “Weeping Willow” official video

Behind the early 2014 release of their debut album, City Of Dust, and the more recent GH/0ST:S split LP with Oakland’s Secrets Of The Sky, Tucson-based GODHUNTER will now release a collaborative 7” single with AMIGO THE DEVIL, entitled The Outer Dark.

With GODHUNTER’s generally crushing sludge/crust-influenced hardcore grooves here supplying a much more ethereal, organic country/folk influence, the two-song single The Outer Dark 7” sees the quintet joined by one Danny Kiranos, also known as AMIGO THE DEVIL, who supplies his charismatic soulful Americana-based murderfolk vocals. “Weeping Willow” is the A-side track from the collaborative 7″, while the B-side features a cover of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way.” The record was recorded in multiple sessions during the Summer of 2014 at Arcane Digital Studios in Chandler, Arizona, and was produced, mixed and mastered by Ryan Butler.

The Outer Dark will see release through a union of GODHUNTER-co-owned Battleground Records and Earsplit’s label, The Compound in February 2015.

The “Weeping Willow” video was created by Frank Huang @ Pit Full Of Shit.

Lyrics, vocals and Theremin solo by AMIGO THE DEVIL. All music and instrumentation by GODHUNTER.

Godhunter on Thee Facebooks

Amigo the Devil on Thee Facebooks

The Compound website

Battleground Records on Thee Facebooks

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