Review & Full Album Premiere: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri Continuum

[Click play above to stream Continuum by Sons of Alpha Centauri in full. Album is out June 1 via H42 Records and Cobraside Distribution.]

Much as one hesitates to use the word ‘unique’ generally, I can’t think of anything quite so fitting to describe the path that’s led UK instrumental four-piece Sons of Alpha Centauri to Continuum, their second album. Released through Cobraside Distribution in the US and Canada and H42 Records in the rest of the world, the eight-track/39-minute sophomore offering — the sophmoffering? — arrives some 11 years after Sons of Alpha Centauri made their self-titled debut (discussed here) and follows a period of multiple collaborations with US-based acts Karma to Burn and Yawning Man — I still regard Yawning Sons‘ 2009 album, Ceremony to the Sunset (review here), as one of the finest atmospheric desert rock albums ever made — as well as splits with A Death Cinematic and Hotel Wrecking City Traders/WaterWays (review here). They also played Desertfest London in 2013 (review here) and have regularly played out, so as I’ve said before, it’s not like the four-piece have been sitting on their ass for the last decade plus.

They just haven’t been putting out Continuum, which is something that guitarist Marlon King, bassist Nick Hannon, drummer Stevie B. and keyboardist/synthesist Blake — actually credited with “textures” — at last correct, bringing together a slow motion whirlwind of patient and progressive instrumentalist execution under the direction of producer/mixer Aaron Harris, formerly of Isis. In returning to work in the context of a full-length, Sons of Alpha Centauri don’t see unaffected by how they spent their intervening years, and one can hear the reach of Gary Arce‘s desert-setting guitar tone from King on “Interstellar” and the A-to-B straightforward heavy rock of Karma to Burn on “Solar Storm” and intermittently early on in 11-minute closer “Return Voyage.” The missing link, then, would seem to be Isis, but with Blake‘s textures on keys, synth, loops and presumably somewhere in there a laptop permeating so much of the record and giving King time to breathe on guitar, there’s plenty of post-metal vibe as well.

Sons of Alpha Centauri, then, would seem to draw from the environments in which they place themselves, and that’s kind of the ideal purpose of collaboration in the first place. More importantly, they sound comfortable shifting the balance from one side to the other and the other, which gives Continuum an all the more multifaceted style. At the same time, there’s a marked sense of momentum that takes hold as intro/opener “Into the Abyss” patiently takes hold, part Vangelis, part Isis, leading directly into the starting drum roll of the subsequent “Jupiter,” which in turn will give over to the more straightforward “Solar Storm.” Even here, the fuzzy, careening central “verse” riff is backed by a consistent layer of synth — not quite a drone, but an ever-present ambient melody — that fills out the sound and adds to the proceedings what the band are ultimately right to call texture.

Sons of Alpha Centauri

There are many ways an instrumental band compensates for a lack of vocals. Lead guitar is one. Not compensating at all has arguably worked for Karma to Burn since, well, since they nixed the idea of a vocalist after their first record. Some others fill out arrangements with varying instrumentation. Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s approach, I suppose, is most like the latter, but the four-piece are more subtle about it than many. Blake‘s work on Continuum might be the factor that ties the tracks’ varying moods together, from the side A intro “Into the Abyss” to the side B intro “Surfacing for Air” and all along as each half of the record that unfurls from there, he enhances the ambience of “Interstellar” and brings progressive flair to “Jupiter” and “Solar Storm” at the record’s heavier post-intro outset. Though even this portion of the record is fairy dynamic, as King leads the way through loud/quiet tradeoffs in “Jupiter” that seem to mirror what will unfold on a grander scale with “Return Voyage” at the end of the record. They’re not quite going back the way they came, but one can read some symmetry there anyhow.

And it’s worth noting that the balance of Continuum, which takes its audience on this journey to Jupiter that the band seems to be making, is on the outward. “Return Voyage,” as the final statement they offer, certainly has its impact and fittingly provides a musical summary to coincide with being the final chapter of the narrative, but with one song about getting back to earth and seven about leaving or having left — the penultimate 2:47 piano piece “Orbiting Jupiter” is about having arrived — there’s little question as to which direction is the band’s priority when it comes to evoking a sense of story. Sons of Alpha Centauri are about the going and having gone. And the results of that, while grounded in their structure and presentation thanks to the foundation of Hannon‘s bass and Stevie‘s drumming, are more directed than your standard everything-hang-loose psychedelia, space is obviously still a factor sonically as well as thematically. The final build in “Return Voyage” as it crosses its midpoint might be the most Isis-reminiscent moment on Continuum, but like the rest of their discernible influences, this too is recontextualized in a sound that is the band’s own.

As, frankly, one would hope for a record having been a decade-plus in the making. I won’t say Sons of Alpha Centauri wasted their years, because they’ve clearly been able to enrich their own style by collaborating with those outside the confines of their own lineup. Rather, the fact that Continuum is their second full-length is somewhat deceptive given all the experience and sense of purpose they’ve been able to garner since their debut, which even then had a fervent progressive streak at its foundation. What Continuum represents, though, is significant growth on multiple fronts for the band, and an awaited moment of declaration of who they are and who they can be in aesthetic and performance terms. Will it be another decade before album number three? I don’t know, but if it is, it will still be worth keeping track of how and with whom Sons of Alpha Centauri choose to spend that time, since invariably they’ll continue to learn lessons that will feed into their own work later. That process has unquestionably worked to their advantage here.

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum teaser

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Sons of Alpha Centauri to Release Continuum June 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri

Space is the apparent theme of Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s sophomore long-player. Continuum is set to release on June 1 through H42 Records and Cobraside, and it follows 11 years after the band made their self-titled debut (discussed here). What have they been doing in all that time? Mostly releasing splits and collaborations. They took part in Yawning Sons with Yawning Man and Alpha Cat with Karma to Burn offshoot Treasure Cat, put out no fewer than three splits with Karma to Burn proper, as well as a split with WaterWays and Hotel Wrecking City Traders and a split with A Death Cinematic.

So they’ve been keeping plenty busy, in other words, just not putting out an album. Well, the eight-track/39 minute Continuum changes that with graceful progressive flourish and more weighted stretches to match its breadth of atmosphere in cuts like “Solar Storm” and “Interstellar.” A science-driven post-rock pulses through “Io” while the penultimate “Orbiting Jupiter” offers reflective piano ahead of the 11-minute closer “Return Voyage.”

Not saying I’ve heard it yet or anything, but it’s an album that covers a lot of ground and well earns its voyaging aspects. Here’s info from the PR wire:

Sons of Alpha Centauri Continuum

Sons of Alpha Centauri announce details from upcoming album “Continuum”

Over a decade since the release of their debut album, UK’s stoner/progressive metallers Sons of Alpha Centauri return for their sophomore album – an epic introspective journey of abrasive and ambient progressive electronic alt rock entitled Continuum.

Over a decade in development, Continuum is driven with a raw infusion of power that only Aaron Harris from ISIS and Palms (which features members from Deftones) could deliver from the producing and mixing helm. Harris has driven his unique and deep understanding of the genre to channel the album to compare against contemporaries such as the debut Palms album and the ISIS masterpiece Panopticon.

This raw and cathartic performance further reinforces that this is Sons of Alpha Centauri at their heaviest with Continuum wrought with dark anthems, intense textures, introspective interludes and tidal waves of immersive distortion.

Having just recently released a boxset of their collaborations with Karma to Burn and their partnership with Yawning Man known as Yawning Sons being widely regarded as a cult act the return of Sons of Alpha Centauri is something to really watch in 2018.

Continuum sees a development of the heavier blended concepts expressed on the debut album and Sons of Alpha Centauri re-emerge with Aaron Harris as the instrumental electronic alt rock titans!

New Sons of Alpha Centauri album Continuum will be released on 1 June 2018. H42 Records – Worldwide and on Cobraside Records – United States & Canada

Aaron Harris from post metal band ISIS and Palms (featuring members of Deftones) has engineered and produced the Continuum.

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofalphacentauri
https://twitter.com/SoAlphaCentauri
https://sonsofalphacentauri.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sonsofalphacentauri.co.uk/
https://www.h42records.com
http://cobraside.com/

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum teaser

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Rattlesnake Premiere New Single “Dirt in My Eyes”

Posted in audiObelisk on March 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

In a collaboration between In for the Kill Records and H42 Records, newcomer New Yorker classic-style Southern rockers Rattlesnake will issue their debut seven-inch in May. The two-tracker boasts brand new material from the four-piece-maybe-turned-trio which features the likes of Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass and La Otracina on drums/vocals, J.P. Gilbert of JP and the Gilberts on guitar/vocals as well as bassist Don Berger, and comes in three different vinyl incarnations, all of course subject to limited pressings. Because that’s how it goes. If you don’t get it, it’s gone.

rattlesnake posterRattlesnake made a not-at-all-quiet entry last year, playing their first show in May and offering the three-song cassette demo, Outlaw Boogie (review here), that served as one of 2017’s best short releases. Its aesthetic seemed locked in, its presentation was professional, and the songwriting was ace in its structure and execution. “Dirt in My Eyes,” the premiere of which you can listen to via the YouTube player below, is no different but takes a step forward in its melodic reach and its meld of boogie and harder-edged impulses. It shares a brightness of perspective with The Golden Grass, but has an edge of its own in its harmonies and uptempo pulse. And yes, if you’re wondering, it’s maddeningly catchy.

In my experience, Kriney isn’t someone who embarks on a new project lightly. It could well be that Rattlesnake was started on a whim after a night of boozing among friends, but I doubt it. The Golden Grass had a plan, a timeline, goals, and given how much effort Rattlesnake puts into “Dirt in My Eyes,” I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they do as well. Fair enough as far as I’m concerned. All that means is we’re likely to hear from them again soon, which I think as you dig into the interplay of bass and airy guitar in the second half of the track before the final “woo!” is delivered, you’ll agree isn’t a negative in the slightest.

You can read more about the three versions of Dirt in My Eyes / Picture Perfect and head to the preorders via the PR wire info below — the test pressing is signed and limited to 20, if that piques your interest– and of course get a preview of “Dirt in My Eyes” via the player immediately following.

Please enjoy:

Rattlesnake, “Dirt in My Eyes” official premiere

Rattlesnake “Dirt In My Eyes”
A-side of the Rattlesnake “Dirt In My Eyes”/”Picture Perfect” 7″ issued on H42 Records/In For The Kill Records May 2018.

For those who dig the heavy strut of Classic Southern Rock, when it dipped it’s country shufflin’ toes into the sweet honey of Progressive Rock & early-Heavy Metal, well you’re gonna find a real treat in this debut 7” from RATTLESNAKE. A rock-solid display, both earnest & creative, overflowing with killer vocal harmonies, powerful guitar solos, tough riffs, devastating bass runs, & tasty drum fills (featuring Adam Kriney of THE GOLDEN GRASS on vocals/drums, JP GILBERT of J.A.C.K. on vocals/guitar & Don Berger on bass/vocals).

*Available in black or yellow or green vinyl. Black vinyl comes in the brown sleeve. Yellow & Green vinyl comes in the green sleeve. Please specify vinyl colour choice in the comments section on the order form!

*Also available in a limited edition of 20 test pressings, with special signed and numbered “skull” sleeves!

*Comes with digital download card.

North American Preorder available via: http://www.goo.gl/GdCuoC

Rest of the World Preorder available via: http://www.h42records.8merch.com/services/store

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Various Artists, Legends of the Desert Desertfest 12″

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

va legends of the desert 4 way split

For the last several years, German imprint H42 Records has partnered with Desertfest to create a special limited split release for in honor of the Spring festivals in London and Berlin. Past editions have included Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri, Raging Speedhorn together with Monster Magnet, and Greenleaf locking heads with Steak — the tracks generally with some measure of exclusivity, be they previously unreleased, a remastered oldie (which I seem to recall was the case with Greenleaf), etc. In 2018, a year where the entire universe has unveiled its conspiracy against humanity to be completely overwhelming, H42 has also decided to up its game, though it does so in particularly serene fashion.

This year’s Desertfest split is titled Legends of the Desert, and in addition to jumping from 7″ vinyl to a full 12″, it also doubles the amount of acts included from two to four, bringing together the interrelated projects Fatso Jetson, Yawning Sons, WaterWays and Mario Lalli und Matthias Schneeberger to each present one cut seemingly representing one aspect or another of the Californian desert that the principle figures involved call home. Speaking of, while there are four groups included on Legends of the Desert, the platter is really telling the story of two key figures of California’s initial low desert rock scene in Mario Lalli and Gary Arce. Arce‘s trademark shimmering surf-derived guitar tone features on two of the four inclusions — Yawning Sons’ “Down in the Street,” and WaterWays‘ “Three Rivers” — while Lalli is aboard for three as a member of Fatso Jetson, WaterWays and of course his solo-project with Schneeberger, whose production work not only for Fatso Jetson but also the likes of earthlings?, Nick Oliveriand Gutter Twins, among many, many others, has made him a crucial presence behind the board in that scene.

As they should, Fatso Jetson lead off the proceedings with “Semi Lost,” which even if it weren’t the only track to include vocals would probably still be the catchiest song here. Aside from their “desert legends” status, which is basically irrefutable more than 20 years into their career, Fatso JetsonMario Lalli on guitar/vocals, Dino von Lalli on guitar, Larry Lalli on bass and Tony Tornay (now also of All Souls) on drums — have retained the experimentalist sensibility of their songwriting. As their last album, 2016’s Idle Hands (review here) reminded, their songwriting process is deeply varied, and as they open side A with “Semi Lost,” it’s a more laid back feel than some of their more forward punk-blasting groovers. Just so happens — total coincidence, I’m sure — that in addition to providing that landmark hook, it suits the vibe of the split really well.

Last I heard, Mario Lalli and Tony Tornay were both in WaterWays as well, featuring as the rhythm section alongside Gary Arce‘s inimitable guitar tone, derived from surf and goth rock but unmistakably of the desert itself. Though the two groups are very different, Arce serves as the uniting force between WaterWays closing out side A with the four-minute just-too-active-to-really-be-drift-but-kind-of-drifting-anyway “Three Rivers,” his guitar tone echoing out spacious as ever and evocative of the desert in a manner that groups from around the world have done their best to emulate and generally fallen flat in the effort. “Three Rivers” is resoundingly hypnotic, despite being just four minutes long, and though it’s twice the length and has a much fuller arrangement owing to the complete lineup of UK progressive instrumentalists Sons of Alpha Centauri, Yawning Sons‘ “Down in the Street” might dip lower in low end tone, but ultimately winds up in a similarly broad sphere, the ambience stretching out comfortably and patiently for the song’s duration, no less trance-inducing leading off side B than “Three Rivers” was in capping side A, though I will readily admit to being a sucker for Yawning Sons as I still consider their lone full-length, 2009’s Ceremony to the Sunset (review here, vinyl review here), among the finest releases Californian desert rock has ever produced. Anything new from them is welcome as far as I’m concerned.

Legends of the Desert ends with a particular note of intrigue in Mario Lalli und Matthias Schneeberger‘s “Spector,” which at 4:17 brings together the clear collaborative elements of the former’s guitar and the latter’s keys, but there are also drums and bass involved and I’m not sure who handled them. If it’s a studio project, it could’ve certainly been either party or someone like Tornay stopping through for the afternoon, but the real question is why “Spector” isn’t a Fatso Jetson song. Sure it’s instrumental, but Fatso Jetson have done plenty of instrumentals over the years, and Schneeberger, aside from producing, has been a regular guest contributor to their work. One can easily imagine, then, it was a conscious decision to adopt the Lalli/Schneeberger banner, and extrapolate from that the curiosity as to whether the two will collaborate directly on some future release apart from Lalli‘s work in Fatso Jetson, and what that might sound like. “Spector,” for what it’s worth, continues in the open-feeling spirit of Yawning Sons and WaterWays before it — a bit darker in tone — and whether or not it’s a harbinger of things to come, it makes a satisfying closing argument to Legends of the Desert, each side of which tells the tale of arid-climate-born fluidity and resonates with a creative force unlike anything from anywhere else. These Legends are still being told, still being shaped, but there’s no question that the impact they’ve had on the worldwide underground is massive, and if that’s what’s being celebrated here, you’ll get no argument from me.

I have the pleasure today of streaming the complete Legends of the Desert 12″, which officially releases May 4. You’ll find it below courtesy of H42 Records and Desertfest, and it is presented with my gratitude to both of them as well as to you for reading and listening.

Please enjoy:

DESERTFEST is just around the corner in May. 2018. For the past three years we contributed in collaboration with the DesertFest team the vinyl for the FEST. We decided to change the format into the 12″ vinyl format this year.

And what fits better to the DesertFest, as an album with bands with a very big relation to the ‘desert’? So we called the album LEGENDS OF THE DESERT (RELEASE MAY 4th 2018). For this fantastic vinyl we could won great bands and musicians, each of them with a previously unreleased song:

FATSO JETSON, YAWNING SONS, WATERWAYS and a solo project under the direction of MARIO LALLI & MATHIAS SCHNEEBERGER. As always ALEXANDER VON WIEDING was responsible for artwork and layout: a slightly variation of the original 7″ art.

Desertfest London website

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

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 2017 to that, please do.

This is the hardest list to put together, no question. Don’t get me wrong, I put way too much thought into all of them, but this one is damn near impossible to keep up with. Every digital single, every demo, every EP, every 7″, 10″ one-sided 12″, whatever it is. There’s just too much. I’m not going to claim to have heard everything. Hell, that’s what the comments are for. Let me know what I missed. Invariably, something.

So while the headers might look similar, assuming I can ever remember which fonts I use from one to the next, this list has a much different personality than, say, the one that went up earlier this week with the top 20 debuts of 2017. Not that I heard everyone’s first record either, but we’re talking relative ratios here. The bottom line is please just understand I’ve done my best to hear as much as possible. I’m only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day. Eventually your brain turns into riffy mush.

With that caveat out of the way, I’m happy to present the following roundup of some of what I thought were 2017’s best short releases. That’s EPs, singles, demos, splits — pretty much anything that wasn’t a full-length album, and maybe one or two things that were right on the border of being one. As between genres, the lines are blurry these days. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Okay, enough dawdling. Here we go:

lo-pan-in-tensions

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

1. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
2. Godhunter, Codex Narco
3. Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead
4. Shroud Eater, Three Curses
5. Stubb, Burning Moon
6. Canyon, Canyon
7. Solace, Bird of Ill Omen
8. Kings Destroy, None More
9. Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam
10. Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme
11. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
12. Rope Trick, Red Tape
13. Eternal Black, Live at WFMU
14. IAH, IAH
15. Bong Wish, Bong Wish EP
16. Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie Demo
17. Hollow Leg, Murder
18. Mars Red Sky, Myramyd
19. Avon, Six Wheeled Action Man Tank 7″
20. Wretch, Bastards Born

Honorable Mention

Across Tundras, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain
The Discussion, Tour EP
Fungus Hill, Creatures
Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven
The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny
Test Meat, Demo
Blood Mist, Blood Mist
Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell
Dautha, Den Foerste
Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti
Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2
Decasia, The Lord is Gone
Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

I can’t imagine I won’t add a name or two or five to this section over the next few days as I think of other things and people remind me of stuff and so on, so keep an eye out, but the point is there’s way more than just what made the top 20. That Across Tundras single would probably be on the list proper just on principle, but I heard it like a week ago and it doesn’t seem fair. Speaking of unfair, The Discussion, Howling Giant, The Grand Astoria and the Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore split all deserve numbered placement easily. I might have to make this a top 30 in 2018, just to assuage my own guilt at not being able to include everything I want to include. For now though, yeah, this is just the tip of the doomberg.

Notes

To be totally honest with you, that Lo-Pan EP came out Jan. 13 and pretty much had the year wrapped up in my head from that point on. It was going to be hard for anything to top In Tensions, and the Godhunter swansong EP came close for the sense of stylistic adventurousness it wrought alone, and ditto that for Year of the Cobra’s bold aesthetic expansions on Burn Your Dead and Shroud Eater’s droning Three Cvrses, but every time I heard Jeff Martin singing “Pathfinder,” I knew it was Lo-Pan’s year and all doubt left my mind. Of course, for the Ohio four-piece, In Tensions is something of a one-off with the departure already of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, but I still have high hopes for their next record. It would be hard not to.

The top five is rounded out by Stubb’s extended jam/single “Burning Moon,” which was a spacey delight and new ground for them to cover. The self-titled debut EP from Philly psych rockers Canyon, which they’ve already followed up, is next. I haven’t had the chance to hear the new one yet, but Canyon hit a sweet spot of psychedelia and heavy garage that made me look forward to how they might develop, so I’ll get there sooner or later. Solace’s return was nothing to balk at with their cassingle “Bird of Ill Omen” and the Sabbath cover with which they paired it, and though Kings Destroy weirded out suitably on the 14-minute single-song EP None More, I hear even greater departures are in store with their impending fourth LP, currently in progress.

A couple former bandmates of mine feature in Tarpit Boogie in guitarist George Pierro and bassist John Eager, and both are top dudes to be sure, but even if we didn’t have that history, it would be hard to ignore the tonal statement they made on their Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam EP. If you didn’t hear it, go chase it down on Bandcamp. Speaking of statements, Supersonic Blues’ Supersonic Blues Theme 7″ was a hell of an opening salvo of classic boogie that I considered to be one of the most potential-laden offerings of the year. Really. Such warmth to their sound, but still brimming with energy in the most encouraging of ways. Another one that has to be heard to be believed.

The dudes are hardly newcomers, but Grief offshoot Come to Grief sounded pretty fresh — and raw — on their The Worst of Times EP, and the Massachusetts extremists check in right ahead of fellow New Englangers Rope Trick, who are an offshoot themselves of drone experimentalists Queen Elephantine. Red Tape was a demo in the demo tradition, and pretty formative sounding, but seemed to give them plenty of ground on which to develop their aesthetic going forward, and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that.

Eternal Black gave a much-appreciated preview of their Bleed the Days debut long-player with Live at WFMU and earned bonus points for recording it at my favorite radio station, while Argentine trio IAH probably went under a lot of people’s radar with their self-titled EP but sent a fervent reminder that that country’s heavy scene is as vibrant as ever. Boston-based psych/indie folk outfit Bong Wish were just the right combination of strange, melodic and acid-washed to keep me coming back to their self-titled EP on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and as Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass debuted his new project Rattlesnake with the Outlaw Boogie demo, the consistency of his songcraft continued to deliver a classic feel. Another one to watch out for going into the New Year.

I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include Hollow Leg’s Murder or not since it wound up getting paired with a special release of their latest album, but figured screw it, dudes do good work and no one’s likely to yell about their inclusion here. If you want to quibble, shoot me a comment and quibble away. Mars Red Sky only released Myramyd on vinyl — no CD, no digital — and I never got one, but heard a private stream at one point and dug that enough to include them here anyway. They remain perennial favorites.

Avon, who have a new record out early in 2018 on Heavy Psych Sounds, delivered one of the year’s catchiest tracks with the “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” single. I feel like I’ve had that song stuck in my head for the last two months, mostly because I have. And Wretch may or may not be defunct at this point — I saw word that drummer Chris Gordon was leaving the band but post that seems to have disappeared now, so the situation may be in flux — but their three-songer Bastards Born EP was a welcome arrival either way. They round out the top 20 because, well, doom. Would be awesome to get another LP out of them, but we’ll see I guess.

One hopes that nothing too egregious was left off, but one again, if there’s something you feel like should be here that isn’t, please consider the invitation to leave a comment open and let me know about it. Hell, you know what? Give me your favorites either way, whether you agree with this list or not. It’s list season, do it up. I know there’s the Year-End Poll going, and you should definitely contribute to that if you haven’t, but what was your favorite EP of the year? The top five? Top 10? I’m genuinely curious. Let’s talk about it.

Whether you have a pick or not (and I hope you do), thanks as always for reading. May the assault of short releases continue unabated in 2018 and beyond.

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Borracho to Release Border Crossing 7″ Dec. 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

borracho

Look carefully into the PR wire info below and you’ll see that on Nov. 20, I’ll be hosting a premiere of the title cut from Borracho‘s new seven-incher, Border Crossing. Pretty nifty if you ask me. The D.C.-based trio have a well-established track record of delivering choice riffs and heavy grooves at no point, and you’d be silly to expect anything less from this new track, which comes accompanied by the Scorpions cover “Animal Magnetism” and will be out Dec. 8 through the esteemed imprints H42 Records and Ripple Music.

Yeah, it’s good news. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking it as an excuse to put on last year’s third full-length, Atacama (review here), and give that another visit just for the hell of it. Man, I dig this record. A lot. I thought Oculus (review here) did some really important work in establishing the group as a three-piece, but there’s so much character in Atacama‘s songs — it seems to really be the point when Borracho became the band they’ve wanted to be all along. I hope their next one pushes even further toward those ends, though I happen to know there’s some other stuff in the works before they get there.

For example, this:

borracho border crossing flyer

BORRACHO’S BORDER CROSSING NEW 7″-Vinyl COMING THIS DECEMBER

A SPECIAL LOW, HEAVY ANNOUNCEMENT

In Summer 2015 Mario came over to us with the idea releasing their both songs ‚Border Crossing‘ and ‚Animal Magnetism‘, a really astonishing Scorpions cover version, on a 7“-vinyl! Now 2 years later we teamed up with the magic Ripple Music and the project comes to an end, and we are happy to announce the baby is born early december 2017. Look Out the presale will start later this month!

Release Date: December 8th
Presale Start on: November 21th. 9 p.m German time
Exclusive Stream of ‘Crossing Border’ on The Obelisk: November 20th
The neon-yellow and the clear-blue and a special limited testpress edition (lim. 20) you can preorder from Nov. 21th (9 p.m German time) in our Shop. The clear-orange edition you can only get from Ripple Music.

Borracho is a three piece heavy rock band from Washington, DC. In the five years since releasing their 2011 debut Splitting Sky, they have become a staple of the Mid-Atlantic — and US — stoner rock scene. 2013’s follow up Oculus highlighted a band in metamorphosis, moving the band forward sonically with a leaner lineup, but continuing their emphasis on song construction and memorable melodies. With a substantial offering in Ripple Music’s 2015 inaugural Second Coming of Heavy, Chapter One, the band showed their continued commitment to the almighty riff, and plenty of variety in their approach, even within only 22 minutes of scathing rock. In 2016 they released their third LP Atacama with our friends in Kozmik Artifactz.

https://www.facebook.com/BorrachoDC/
https://twitter.com/borracho_DC
https://www.instagram.com/borrachomusic/
http://www.borrachomusic.com/
http://borracho.bandcamp.com/
http://www.h42records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records
https://twitter.com/H42Records

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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Avon Premiere New Single “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank”; UK/EU Tour Starts April 26

Posted in audiObelisk on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

avon

Desert rock trio Avon begin their next round of tour dates in the UK and Europe on April 26. Anytime you can write words about a group like, “features former members of Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age/Yawning Man,” that’s a noteworthy opportunity not to be missed, but Avon — which in addition to drummer Alfredo Hernandez, who played in the three landmark acts above at one point or another (as well as Brant Bjork‘s underrated and shortlived Che), also includes English transplant James Childs (Vic du Monte’s Persona Non Grata) and Waxy’s Charles Pasarell — prove to be more than the sum of their pedigree. Having made their debut in 2016 with the full-length Mad Marco on their own Spira Records, the band mark their return trip abroad this spring with a new single on H42 Records, given the righteous title Six Wheeled Action Man Tank.

Should you ever doubt that the roots of desert rock are in a grown-up version of punk: don’t. The hook of Avon‘s “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank,” catchy and as straightforward as it could possibly be, is a fervent reminder otherwise. Unpretentious in tone and straightforward in its structure, the song and its B-side counterpart, “The Kurgan” (like inavon six wheeled action man tank The Highlander!), both stand at right around three and a half minutes long, both are catchy as hell and neither neglects melody in their delivery of that catchiness. Taken one into the next, they demonstrate how unnecessary tonal trickery is when you have quality songcraft, and whether it’s the garage-style push of “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” or the warmer vision of grunge in “The Kurgan,” ChildsPasarell and Hernandez give a quick showing of groove and push in these tracks that, while they probably don’t need to do much convincing anyway, should have no trouble lodging themselves in the frontal lobes of their audiences for the coming run in the UK, Germany and Belgium.

That tour, by the way, includes stops at Desertfest London and Desertfest Berlin 2017, and plenty of clubs besides, so while “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” may or may not actually be about a plastic toy, the three-piece seem to be using it as a standard to live up to as well. Fair enough. May they roll over anything and everything in their path. You know, with rock and roll. Not actually with a tank. That would be weird and probably illegal.

Go ahead and get Avon‘s “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” stuck in your head by streaming the premiere of the track on the player below. I hear tell they’ll have copies on hand from H42 Records by the time they get to Desertfest.

Comment from Childs on the track and the tour dates follow beneath.

Please enjoy:

James Childs on “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank”:

After getting back from our recent Mad Marco tour, right away we knew that we needed to record “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” as the song killed it on every show! We are very excited about H42 Records releasing the track on 7″ limited vinyl and super stoked about being invited to Desertfest both in London and Berlin along with 18 more tour dates for us to smash out!

AVON UK & EU Tour Dates:
April 26 The Old Ham Tree Holt UK
April 27 The Greyhound Midsomer Norton UK
April 28 The Old Road Tavern Chippenham UK
April 29 Desertfest London UK
April 30 Desertfest Berlin DE
May 1 Jagerklause Berlin DE
May 3 Schaubude Kiel DE
May 04 Bambi Galore Hamburg DE
May 5 Chemiefabrik Dreden DE
May 6 Ragga Oelsnitz DE
May 7 Black Label Leipzig DE
May 8 Cosmic Dawn Jena DE
May 9 Alltra Chemnitz DE
May 10 Limes Cologne DE
May 11 Gerber 3 Weimar DE
May 12 Rare Guitar Munster DE
May 13 Freak Show Essen DE
May 14 JH Tijl Diest BE
May 16 Radio Benelux Paal BE

Avon are:
Alfredo Hernández (Ex-Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Che)
James Childs (Vic Du Monte’s Persona Non Grata, Airbus, Little Villains)
Charles Pasarell (WAXY)

Avon website

Avon on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records on Twitter

H42 Records on Bandcamp

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