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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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Buried in Smoke All-Dayer Set for Nov. 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

With 12PM doors and 13 bands on the bill, the Buried in Smoke All Dayer should most certainly live up to its name. The dirt-cheap and dirtier-heavy onslaught is set to take place Nov. 12 at The Bullingdon in Oxford, UK, and along with Desert Storm — who are also directly involved in putting the event and all of Buried in Smoke Promotions‘ shows together — the lineup boasts several noteworthy names out of the UK’s ultra-fertile underground heavy scene. Worth noting that Desert Storm fit right where they are in closing out the night, and to have them joined by Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Grifter, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters and Lacertilia at the top of the bill shows the utter strength of the scene in which this show is taking place.

No less encouraging, however, are the names toward the earlier part of the day: Morass of Molasses, King Goat, Mastiff, The Atrocity Exhibit, Black Skies Burn, The Darkhorse, My Diablo and Crimson Tusk. You’re doubtless already familiar with all of the above (also below), because you’re more in touch than I am and/or you live in the UK, but they would seem to represent a decent cross-section of underground rock and metal, and as always with this kind of gig, it’s as much about seeing the bands you don’t know as the bands you do.

At least that’s how it should work. Full lineup info and links follow here, as hoisted from the social medias:

buried in smoke all dayer poster

Nov. 12 – B.I.S. All Dayer

The Bullingdon
162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE Oxford, United Kingdom

Buried In Smoke promotions present:

Desert Storm
Trippy Wicked
Grifter
Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
Lacertillia
Morass Of Molasses
King Goat
Mastiff
The Atrocity Exhibit
Black Skies Burn
The Darkhorse
My Diablo
Crimson Tusk

Doors at 12pm
£10 on the door

https://www.facebook.com/events/1752579818352918/
https://www.facebook.com/Buried-In-Smoke-Promotions-152851731433057/

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

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Grifter Premiere “Failing Asleep” from Gorilla vs. Grifter Split

Posted in audiObelisk on March 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

GRIFTER (Photo by Sarah Stygall)

On April 15, UK power trios Gorilla and Grifter will team up for the Gorilla vs. Grifter split LP on HeviSike Records. While the title is somewhat adversarial, pitting one band against the other in a bid for some kind of rock supremacy, at least as far as the 12″ platter goes, actually listening to the thing, the battle playing out would seem to make Gorilla and Grifter vs. Bullshit a more accurate title. Neither band has much time for it in their four presented tracks, Gorilla digging into thickened Motörhead-style drive from the start of “Both Barrels” and Grifter grooving out thick and nasty on the harmonica and slide-laden “Hi Waisted,” just one of the locked in riff rollers on offer throughout the 32-minute outing, and if there’s a running theme to be found between their work — aside, you know, from being heavy — it’s the straightforward, frills-need-not-apply attitude and sense of righteousness with which each band executes its material, whether that’s Gorilla asking “how much can ya take?” on “Grind Yer Down” or Grifter coming right out and extending the invitation “kiss my ass!” on closer “Me Love.”

For Gorilla, their portion of Gorilla vs. Grifter follows an appearance in 2015 on Who Can You Trust? Records‘ Sweet Times Vol. 2 (review here) split, which introduced the track “Three Squealer” that also makes a showing here. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Johnny Gorilla (also The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell), bassist Sarah Jane and gorilla-vs-grifterdrummer Ryan Matthews may not ultimately be throwing down with Grifter, but neither does one get the sense they’d back off if it came to blows of any sort, particularly perhaps in some London back alley, shattered glass on the ground, throwing drunken, lurching punches. Their core is in the aforementioned Motörheadery, but second cut “Slay Rider” dips back on the throttle and nestles into a smooth nod, vocals shouted through a dense wall of fuzz, before “Grind Yer Down” picks up the pace once again and careens toward the riotous finish of “Three Squealer,” on held together through the low end as guitars drop out during the verses en route to a winding chorus delivered with punk-rooted abandon, which of course suits Gorilla well, each of their tracks dealing in one way or another with motion, whether it’s blasted out of a shotgun to tearing ass down a highway. Don’t, however, take their palpable recklessness as a lack of songwriting.

When it comes to that — we’re talking about songwriting; keep up — Grifter have long since proven themselves choice purveyors. Their last album, 2014’s The Return of the Bearded Brethren (review here), pushed them past the decade mark, and while their side of Gorilla vs. Grifter is rawer than was that record, it finds them continuing to add to their established, straightforward heavy rock style. That shows itself notably in vocal arrangements. Guitarist/vocalist Ollie Stygall, bassist Phil and drummer Foz have never been shy when it comes to writing hooks as any of their releases will attest, but while the production on “Failing Asleep,” “Paige Turner,” “Hi Waisted” and “Me Love” is more stripped down than was the last record, there’s subtle layering and not-so-subtle backing vocals, especially on “Paige Turner” and the harmonized chorus of “Hi Waisted,” that only make the tracks catchier. Grifter‘s form has never needed screwing with and it still doesn’t, but as they progress beyond their second LP, their sound is vibrant and the growth they demonstrate in these tracks — while still writing songs about porn stars — makes one look forward all the more to where they might go next. Like Gorilla, they are in and out, quickly, efficiently, and without time wasted, but each song offers something to stand it out from the others, and even if it’s a quick check-in from Grifter, that’s well appreciated.

A mastering job by the perpetually-busy Tony Reed (Mos Generator) ties the bullshit-combating Gorilla vs. Grifter together, and today I have the pleasure of hosting the debut of Grifter‘s “Failing Asleep” from the split. You can hear it on the player below, followed by some more info on the release.

Please enjoy:

Gorilla vs Grifter
A new split album from two of the UK’s hottest power trios.
Released 15th April 2016 on HeviSike Records
Artwork by Maarten Donders

Gorilla vs Grifter will be the second in a planned series of split albums released through HeviSike, following 2015’s Mos Generator // Stubb split release.

The album has been mastered by Tony Reed (Mos Generator) and features a unique cover designed by Dutch artist Maarten Donders, known for his poster designs for Blues Pills and Roadburn Festival amongst others.

Available as a limited edition vinyl record in two colour-ways, Gorilla vs Grifter will be available to pre-order from Friday 1st April ahead of its 15th April release date.

Colour vinyl options:
Gold – (limited to 100 copies, hevisike.com exclusive)
Yellow / Blue Marbled

The album will be distributed by Plastic Head Distribution in the UK & Europe and by MVD Entertainment in North America. Gorilla vs Grifter will be available digitally through bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and other digital outlets.

Gorilla on Thee Facebooks

Grifter on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records website

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Gorilla and Grifter Releasing Gorilla vs. Grifter Split Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Some people just gotta turn everything into a fight. Gorilla vs. Grifter, a new split release from HeviSike Records, is due out April 15, and as the title hints, it brings together the titular UK acts for a knock-down drag-out rock and roll brawl the likes of which, well, have probably been seen at some point but will still probably be really cool. The second in an apparently ongoing series, it follows 2015’s HeviSike split between Stubb and Mos Generator, which was high on the list of last year’s finest short offerings. The kind of thing that might want to make you show up for the sequel.

By way of a spoiler, I’ll be streaming one of Grifter‘s tracks this week coming up, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that. Looking like Wednesday, if you want to mark the calendar. I’ve got mine marked for it. Should be a good time.

Till then, here are the preliminaries off the PR wire:

gorilla-vs-grifter

Announcing new split album from two UK power trios Gorilla and Grifter – released 15 April 2016

Gorilla vs Grifter
A new split album from two of the UK’s hottest power trios.
Released 15th April 2016 on HeviSike Records
Artwork by Maarten Donders

GORILLA are no strangers to fans of heavy-as-hell rock n’ roll. The no-nonsense power trio, led by The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell frontman Johnny Gorilla, have released three albums since forming in the late 1990s.

One of the last bands standing from the first wave of UK underground rock, the three-piece have played festivals including Roadburn and Duna Jam and shared the stage with the likes of Fu Manchu, Josiah, Witchcraft and Gentleman’s Pistols. Joining founding members Johnny (guitar & vocals) and Sarah Jane (bass) is new sticksman Ryan Matthews.

English three-piece GRIFTER have made a name for themselves as one of the premier touring acts through frequent live appearances. As well as releasing two albums and two EPs on labels including Catacomb Records and Ripple Music, the trio have performed at Desertfest, Bloodstock, Freak Valley and more plus toured with Orange Goblin.

Formed in 2003, Grifter’s line-up has gone unchanged; Foz on drums, Phil on bass and Ollie on guitar and vocals. The trio consider themselves simply a rock band; drawing influences from across the board, Grifter present a sound that can only be described as loud and heavy hard rock.

Gorilla vs Grifter will be the second in a planned series of split albums released through HeviSike, following 2015’s Mos Generator // Stubb split release.

The album has been mastered by Tony Reed (Mos Generator) and features a unique cover designed by Dutch artist Maarten Donders, known for his poster designs for Blues Pills and Roadburn Festival amongst others.

The two English power trios join the Birmingham-based imprint as special guests at an exciting time following the label’s launch in late 2014. Previous output from the label includes the debut EP from Chicago psychedelic rockers Dead Feathers and albums from Elevators to The Grateful Sky, Prophets of Saturn, Desert Suns and Palm Desert amongst others.

Available as a limited edition vinyl record in two colour-ways, Gorilla vs Grifter will be available to pre-order from Friday 1st April ahead of its 15th April release date.

Colour vinyl options:
Gold – (limited to 100 copies, hevisike.com exclusive)
Yellow / Blue Marbled

The album will be distributed by Plastic Head Distribution in the UK & Europe and by MVD Entertainment in North America.

Gorilla vs Grifter will be available digitally through bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and other digital outlets.

https://www.facebook.com/GorillaRockin/
https://www.facebook.com/GRIFTERROCK/
https://www.facebook.com/hevisike
https://twitter.com/hevisike
http://hevisike.com/

Gorilla, “Three Squealer” official video

Grifter, “Princess Leia” official video

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Skraeckoedlan Headlining Riffslingers Bash this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

snuff lane riffslingers bash banner

Kudos to the UK’s Snuff Lane Promotions on their first anniversary, which they’ll celebrate in style this weekend in Bristol by bringing Swedish bashers Skraeckoedlan over for their first ever show in England, headlining a huge bill that’s been dubbed the Riffslingers Bash. Rightly so with GrifterOld Man LizardTen Foot WizardLacertiliaMother CoronaEarthmassBeggarWren and Cybernetic Witch Cult in the lineup — I’m not really sure what else you’d call such a thing, and while I’ll readily admit that I’m a little bummed out I haven’t yet heard the new Skraeckoedlan album, Sagor, which seems to be out now, I can still heartily support showing up to wherever they might be to check out a set. I’m sure they’ll bring it to Stag and Hounds in Bristol as they headline. Not much choice in the matter, with the company they’re keeping.

Info on the gig follows, courtesy of Snuff Lane as sent down the PR wire. Dig it:

snuff lane riffslingers bash

Snuff Lane Promotions celebrates anniversary with debut Riffslingers Bash

Snuff Lane Promotions is celebrating its one year anniversary with a debut all-day party. Headlining the celebration with an exclusive UK performance will be Swedish fuzzience fiction rockers Skraeckoedlan, who’ll be making their first appearance in the United Kingdom in support of their new release ‘Sagor’.

Snuff Lane are also delighted to be showcasing some of the UK’s finest dirty, doomy, fuzzed-up, psych-prog, stoner rock, sonic maestros known to mankind. Joining Skraeckoedlan will be Grifter, Old Man Lizard, Ten Foot Wizard, Lacertilia, Mother Corona, Earthmass, Beggar, Wren and Cybernetic Witch Cult; showcased across two floors with plenty of party shenanigans for extra messy measures.

Snuff’s dirty, fuzzed-out, Riffslinger bash!
Ten Bands / Two Stages
Saturday 12th September
Stag & Hounds, Bristol

Events: https://www.facebook.com/events/839683822794969/
Tickets: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/328049
Merely £10 for advanced tickets that’s a minuscule £1 a band!

https://www.facebook.com/snuffylane
https://twitter.com/snuffylane

Skraeckoedlan, “2-Wheel Nation” (Acid King cover)

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Revisiting 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums

Posted in Features on December 11th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

tomorrows-dream-REVISITED-Original-etching-by-Wenceslas-Hollar

[PLEASE NOTE: This is not my Top Albums of 2014 list. That’s coming later in the month.]

First of all, the math was wrong. The list went to 42, not 40…

I did two major “stuff is coming out” posts this year. The first was January’s Tomorrow’s Dream: 42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums, and the second was July’s 30 Before ’15: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits. Apparently I have thing for cumbersome titles.

At best, this stuff is a crapshoot. Until something’s just about in your hand, you never really know when or if it’s going to come out. But they’re fun, and it’s exciting to think of good music being released, so you do it anyway. On the whole, I don’t think I did that badly between the two lists. Of course there was stuff that wasn’t anticipated — Colour Haze‘s new album, To the Highest Gods We Know, walks by and waves en route to its Dec. 15 release date — but for what we got, it worked out well.

That’s the general overview, but because I hold myself to a standard of accountability more rigorous than, say, my nation’s torture-happy secret police, here’s a full rundown of the list as it was, now (as then), presented alphabetically and with the titles listed as they were at the time:

42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums — REVISITED!

 

1. Acid King, TBA: Word is Acid King‘s first in 10 years was mastered last month and will be out in Feb. 2015 on Svart.
 

2. Alcest, Shelter: Was way less post-black metal than their prior stuff, and I think it threw a lot of people off. Not a bad record (review here), but worked against lofty expectations.
 

3. All Them Witches, TBA: I remember including this because they said they were going back into the studio. Turned out they were recording the Effervescent EP/jam (review here). No regrets.
 

4. Alunah, TBA: Their new one was their Napalm Records debut, Awakening the Forest (review here). It was awesome. Score one for the list.
 

5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance: Yeah, it was cheating to include this since I was there when it was recorded. Still a killer record though.
 

6. Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley: Ruled. Reviewed and streamed here. Made me want to see them even more.
 

7. Conan, Blood Eagle: What does complete dominance sound like? Sounds like Conan to me.
 

8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited: Was dying to hear what the Brooklyn trio came up with. No word on it yet.
 

9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013: Still don’t have a copy of this. Maybe I can pick one up when I get their forthcoming third studio album, Lore, out early next year.
 

10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA: More like “MIA” than TBA. Anyone heard from these guys?
 

11. The Golden Grass, TBATheir self-titled debut (review here) was one of the finest first-albums I heard all year.
 

12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes: Any Greenleaf is a treat. Trails and Passes (review here) was no exception.
 

13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren: Solid follow-up (review here). Grifter‘s humor and lack of pretense serves them well.
 

14. Hull, TBA: Well, they had the Legend of the Swamp Goat single (review here) to coincide with their Euro tour. Waiting on the album.
 

15. Lowrider, TBA: I wouldn’t mind if this materialized right now. Or now. Or now. Or 2015. Or 2016.
 

16. The Machine, TBA: Might’ve jumped the gun on this. Hopefully in 2015.
 

17. Mars Red Sky, TBA: Easily one of the year’s best records. Stranded in Arcadia (review here) continues to get regular spins.
 

18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty: A highlight of early 2014. Darker record (review here), but inarguable songwriting.
 

19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension NowFitting end to their trilogy and hopefully not their last outing.
 

20. Pallbearer, TBA: Their Foundations of Burden has topped year-end lists already. It’s still on my desktop. I’ve barely listened to it.
 

21. Papir, IIII: Very, very good. They seem to be developing, but IIII (review here) was a satisfying chronicle.
 

22. Pilgrim, TBA: Can’t say II: Void Worship (review here) wasn’t a win for the band since they did a month on the road with Spirit Caravan. Maybe overshadowed by more recent stuff, but a quality record.
 

23. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt: Their incendiary heavy blues was in top form on Magical Dirt (review here). Glad I got to see them live once or twice (or 18 times) as well this year.
 

24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today: Also residing on my desktop. A vocalist switch caught me off guard and I feel like I still haven’t given it a fair shot.
 

25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA: Really? I had Sixty Watt on the list? That seems ambitious. No doubt they’ll have something new eventually, but that was a pretty high expectation it would be out this year.
 

26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos: If this came out, no one told me. Seems like not yet.
 

27. The Skull, TBA: A stunner. As much as I looked forward to it, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) exceeded the excitement.
 

28. Sleep, TBA: Included as wishful thinking. Their The Clarity single (review here) was something to celebrate.
 

29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance: I was really looking forward to this one. Kind of fell off with Digital Resistance (review here) after a while. Hard to argue with Slough Feg though.
 

30. Snail, FeralWaiting on it for 2015.
 

31. Steak, TBAThe London four-piece followed two strong EPs with Slab City (review here), as heartfelt a showing of desert rock loyalty as I’ve heard.
 

Damn, this was a long list.
 

32. Stubb, TBA: I had my doubts it would arrive, but Stubb‘s Ripple Music debut, Cry of the Ocean (review here), found welcome when it did.
 

33. SunnO))) & Ulver, Terrestrials: One of two collaborations SunnO))) would have out in 2014. Heard a lot about it at the beginning of the year. Less now.
 

34. Tombs, Savage Gold: Good band, doing interesting stuff. I have a hard time transitioning from appreciating it to actually being a fan.
 

35. Triptykon, Melana ChasmataSorry, but when Tom G. Warrior puts out a record, you hop to. I didn’t review it to save myself having to buy a copy, but dug it anyway.
 

36. Truckfighters, Universe: I feel like this one picked up steam as the year went on. I didn’t go back to it as much as its predecessor, but Universe (review here) was a logical next step for them.
 

37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk: Nothing to complain about with the Ohio three-piece’s debut (review here) or the effort they put into supporting it throughout the year.
 

38. Weedeater, TBA: Nope. At least I knew it at the time.
 

39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA: Surprised a lot of people when Celestite (review here) was a companion piece for their last record instead of a new album proper, myself included.
 

40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum: 2014 was quite a year for doom, and The Wounded Kings were right there at the start. This lineup may be gone, but Consolamentum (review here) holds up.
 

41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You: Rumor is guitarist Gary Arce has a few projects in the works for next year. Not sure if this is one of them or not.
 

42. YOB, TBA: We certainly know how this worked out, don’t we? If the votes in the Readers Poll are anything to go by, yes. Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) was a landmark, and this won’t be the last year-end list around here on which YOB make a showing.
 

The list from July had a few winners on it as well — Apostle of Solitude, Blues Pills, Bongripper, Brant Bjork, Earth, Lo-Pan, The Well, Witch Mountain, etc. — but I think we’ve probably got enough as it is.

With the year starting to wind down, I’ll be putting together my Top 30 Albums of 2014 in the next week or so. Please keep an eye out for that, and thanks for reading.
 

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Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren: Boogievolution

Posted in Reviews on August 5th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

UK trio Grifter walk a fine line on The Return of the Bearded Brethren. Their second album for Ripple Music, it’s a 10-track collection produced by Rich Robinson, mastered by Tony Reed, that breaks evenly into two 21-minute sides and strongly answers the songwriting prowess the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Ollie Stygall, bassist Phil and drummer Foz showcased on their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) as well as their 2009 mission-statement EP, The Simplicity of the Riff is Key (review here) and its formative 2008 predecessor, High Unholy Mighty Rollin’. It also dares to be dudely. Very dudely. As dudely as the bearded dude on its front cover. As dudely as an unrepentantly straightforward heavy rock album with songs about Guinness and Princess Leia and digging out a bunker for the end of the world can be. And yet, what saves The Return of the Bearded Brethren from being simple masculine caricature, and thus unlistenable, is the willingness to poke fun at themselves, the awareness of how silly dudeliness is in the first place. Not only that, but their ability to be tongue-in-cheek lyrically but still sincere, without giving themselves over to condescending irony, helps Grifter attain a rare balance of personality and intellect in their material. Fortunately, this comes coupled with a penchant for hooks second to very few in Britain or out of it, and songs like “Black Gold,” the evolution paean “Bow down to the Monkey” — with its steady references to Charles Darwin as “Mr. D.” — “Fire Water,” and “Princess Leia” make for memorable standouts on a record void of pretense and thick in quality. The Return of the Bearded Brethren is plenty dudely, but by the end of it, you’d almost believe dudes were actual people.

Front to back, Grifter‘s second brims with motoring tones and rhythmic swing. Foz‘s cymbal work never veers into self-indulgence but provides a subtly complex foundation on which the riffs run, and they do, whether it’s shorter cuts like “She Mountain,” which follows opener “Black Gold,” or side B’s launch point, “Braggard’s Boast,” a 2:22 sprint that gives a look at the trio at their most raucous. That song works, and works well, but ultimately, Grifter are most comfortable dug into a mid-paced groove, quick enough not to be slow, but not fast enough to be aggressive. “Black Gold,” heralding the various attributes of Guinness — see lines like “Nothing else is true,” and “Top o’ the morning!” — works at a decent clip to start a momentum that carries right through to the end of side A. This stretch of five songs and the flow and movement between them is The Return of the Bearded Brethren‘s most lasting impression, “Black Gold” giving way to “She Mountain,” “Paranoiac Blues,” “Princess Leia” and “Bow down to the Monkey” in a fluid succession that’s as natural as one could ever hope of a live set. The scope is largely unflinching on initial listens, but the character of the songs comes out more with repeat listens, the Southern-style slide and stomp on “Paranoiac Blues” providing an engaging first-half centerpiece and an early shift in approach that pays dividends throughout the rest of the full-length. This in combination with the soul-searching and humor of the lyrics to “Princess Leia,” which tackles issues of aging in the context of an enduring crush on the Star Wars character, and the good times rush preceding on “She Mountain” ensure that the transitions on the first half of the album are seamless and that the momentum leading into the back end.

And since they are ultimately a classic-minded band — not at all retro-sounding, but working off classic influences all the same — side B of Return of the Bearded Brethren does expand the breadth of the album somewhat. The party-vibe of “Black Gold” finds hungover complement in side B’s midpoint, “Fire Water,” and after the boogie thrust of “Braggard’s Boast,” a chugging shuffle in “It’s Not Me it’s You” offers a kissoff somewhat more personal than that of the general religion-is-silly commentary of “Bow down to the Monkey.” If that’s Grifter honing their focus to a finer point, the songwriting remains consistent, and on the other end of “Fire Water”‘s less riotous verses and howling solo, the title-track breaks down the fourth wall with a sort of declaration of Grifter‘s purpose and position. Curious they’d bury it so near the conclusion of side B, but maybe they thought after pushing other highlights to the front, they’d hold something back to finish out. It makes sense, though the song itself is somewhat overshadowed by the Black Sabbath cover of “Faeries Wear Boots” that serves as closer. Inevitable maybe, and a somewhat obvious pick on the band’s part — though it’s been a while since anyone in my recent memory saw fit to take on the track, and in being unabashedly honest, it’s consistent with what Grifter do across the board, like an indirect challenge to the barrage of ’70s-worship retro bands trying to out-obscure each other or at least a reminder of what it’s all about — but they do the track justice and deliver a performance as clean and heartfelt as the nine original inclusions preceding, which is really all one might ask of them for it. StygallPhil and Foz presented no shortage of confidence on the self-titled, but there’s been clear growth in their command of their sound, and Return of the Bearded Brethren stands as proof that straightforward classic heavy rock doesn’t need to enmesh itself with needless stylistic extras when the craftsmanship holds up. Grifter are a rare beast, and their second album satisfies both superficially and on closer inspection of its impeccably constructed, thoroughly dudely wares.

Grifter, “Princess Leia” official video

Grifter on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music

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Grifter Premiere Video for “Princess Leia”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 21st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

When I was fortunate enough to be asked, I said yes immediately to hosting the premiere of the new Grifter video for the track “Princess Leia” from their upcoming album, The Return of the Bearded Brethren. My reasons were manifold. I’m excited about the release — it’s out Aug. 11 on Ripple Music as the follow-up to Grifter‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here) — but the song itself also sums up a lot about what I think the UK trio do really well musically and lyrically.

It’s a straightforward song, and Grifter are a straightforward band. They write classic heavy rock hooks, but have a completely modern approach to their sound and perspective. Bassist Phil, drummer Foz and guitarist/vocalist Ollie Stygall have a crisp chemistry. Their material swings, as “Princess Leia” showcases, but it does so always with a forward direction in mind. The lyrics to “Princess Leia” also remind of Grifter‘s ability to couch some pretty personal issues in a humorous package. We’ve heard them do this before, on a song like “Young Blood, Old Veins” from the last album, but by using the frame of a boyhood crush on the Star Wars character, Stygall and company are able to look at getting older through an even cleverer lens.

And make no mistake, that is what they’re doing. The opening line of the song is “I’m a man of a certain age,” and the Orange Goblin-style rush of the chorus abandons all facade and pleads, “Take me back to better times, yeah/Strip the years away.” But rather than simply reflect on bygone days and regrets and the usual midlife blah blah blah, Grifter poke fun not only at themselves, but at the whole notion of mourning the passage of time, and “Princess Leia” — whatever it might be saying or speaking to emotionally — remains a fun, engaging song.

The video likewise. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Grifter is how even at their most gleefully classless — see “Alabama Hotpocket” from the self-titled — they work clean. Princess Leia does indeed appear in the video, and she does indeed boogie down (hilariously by the end of it), but she doesn’t strip, and Grifter don’t give into the gold-bikini impulse. That would be easy, and thoughtless, and Grifter aren’t that band.

The Return of the Bearded Brethren is out Aug. 11 on Ripple Music. Enjoy “Princess Leia” below, as directed by Russell Cleave:

Grifter, “Princess Leia” official video

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