Review & Full Stream: Harsh Toke, Joy & Sacri Monti, Burnout Split LP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout

[Click play above to stream the Burnout three-way split between Harsh Toke, Joy and Sacri Monti. It’s out June 23 via Tee Pee Records.]

Not to quibble on titles, but it’s way less Burnout than it is ignition. The West Coast heavy psych boom, centered in San Diego but with offshoots up and down throughout California in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, etc., is years underway at this point, and New York’s Tee Pee Records has proven to be among its most crucial documentarians. In bringing together Harsh TokeJoy and Sacri Monti — three San Diego bands who’ve all had albums out on Tee Pee — the long-running imprint has essentially reinforced the arrival of and camaraderie between members of one of the US’ most vibrant underground scenes. If they wanted, each of these groups could have headlined their own three-band split — there’s enough clout between them and enough other acts around to make that happen, easily — but in uniting them together, Tee Pee is going for broke in representing the particular energy and classic-minded shred that typifies San Diego’s explosive sound.

It is likewise no coincidence that Burnout — a six-song 12″ topping out at 26 minutes — should feature covers from each band as well as original material from Joy and Sacri Monti, since so much of what’s happening and what’s already happened in the heavy ’10s has owed its core approach to the heavy ’70s before it, so that to have Harsh Toke take on Roky Erickson for two tracks — something they also did for a full set at Roadburn festival this past Spring in the Netherlands — as Joy tears into “Spaceship Earth” by Road and Sacri Monti into “Sleeping for Years” by Atomic Rooster not only makes sense sonically, but effectively ties together the still-very-much-exploding current movement of bands with the crucial wave that preceded it nearly half a century ago.

I admit, that’s a pretty heady view of the mission here, and to listen to Burnout, the tracks don’t come across nearly so lofty in their aims, whether that’s Harsh Toke‘s drunk-at-the-piano dive into Erickson‘s “Burn the Flames” at the outset or the scorching, organ-soaked boogie drive of Sacri Monti tackling “Sleeping for Years” at the finish. And rightfully so. If it was pretentious or overly self-aware, the whole affair would fall flat, where in the front-to-back execution, it proves to be anything but, with both Joy and Sacri Monti right in their respective elements in both their own material and their cover selections while Harsh Toke prove to be somewhat the outliers as they leadoff the release. Not so much sound-wise — Roky Erickson‘s weirdo formative and massively influential psych isn’t out of context in their swaying reinterpretation — as in the simple concept of Harsh Toke playing songs.

harsh toke joy sacri monti burnout vinyl

Harsh Toke‘s 2016 split (review here) with San Diego scene lords Earthless — who along with Radio Moscow are very much the elephant in the room when it comes to not only the three outfits appearing on Burnout but the wider San Diego sphere as a whole — and their 2014 debut, Light up and Live, were essentially jam-based releases, and their live sets find them working in likewise methods. To hear them push through the fuzzy proto-punk of “Bermuda,” I’m not sure why they so generally avoid vocals, but the fact that it’s something that doesn’t happen all the time would seem to make it all the more of an event, and they are right at home in that track and “Burn the Flames” preceding, giving a sense of Erickson‘s character in the material while presenting it with their own energetic tack. Naturally, on a three-band split there’ are bound to be some stark leaps in sound, between groups — like on any multi-group compilation — but the speedier “Bermuda” also helps make way for Joy‘s “Your Time Ain’t Long,” the longest inclusion here overall at 5:27.

Meting out similar winding riffage to what high-speed-nodded throughout their 2016 third full-length, Ride Along! (review here), “Your Time Ain’t Long” serves as the first original of Burnout and cuts short after three-and-a-half shuffling minutes to a more languid drift, keeping some progressive tension beneath as it moves with deceptive efficiency back toward its hook. The trio count into “Spaceship Earth” for a live-in-studio feel that the raw fuzz of their tonality and echoing vocals backs up that impression. In their own composition as well as the 1972 Road track, it’s the guitar leading the charge, and even as “Spaceship Earth” moves into outside-the-atmosphere noise following an extended stretch of leads, tone provides the fuel for that ascent. Sacri Monti‘s “Over the Hill” follows immediately.

Their original, like that of Joy before them, showcases a fervent-enough ’70s influence to make its transition seamless, but is distinguished through the use of organ and the interplay there between keys and shred-prone guitar as was their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), and as a next step forward from that release, “Over the Hill” bodes well for the development of their chemistry on the whole. Their selection of an Atomic Rooster track is likewise admirable — and one has to acknowledge it must’ve been tempting, when looking at 1970’s Death Walks Behind You, to take on the title-piece — and they give the UK-based post-blues stompers their due while, like Harsh Toke and Joy before them, bringing their own personality to the presentation in a live-feeling onslaught of groove that dares you to keep up with its nigh-on-frenetic turns. It’s over quickly — so is Burnout as a whole — but Sacri Monti‘s cold finish to “Sleeping for Years” makes a fitting end to the split, since as the scene that birthed these bands also seems to do, it leaves one with the feeling of standing in front of the stage yelling for one more song.

And if they had done another, or if any of these groups came back out and did an encore, you wouldn’t find me complaining. Cities like San Diego, Encinitas, Visalia, Oceanside, and so on, have become more and more crowded over the last couple years, and I expect they’ll continue to for at least the next several years as we move toward and beyond 2020, but with the quality of output from Harsh TokeJoy and Sacri Monti both here and on their own offerings, it’s hard to argue with others wanting to pick up and try to capture some of the same vibe that’s presented as being so utterly molten across this split. In playing to their strengths, each of these bands represents some of the best of West Coast heavy psych as a whole.

Harsh Toke on Thee Facebooks

Joy on Thee Facebooks

Sacri Monti on Thee Facebooks

Burnout at Tee Pee Records

Tee Pee Records on Thee Facebooks

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Bow to Your Masters: Thin Lizzy Tribute to Feature High on Fire, Mos Generator, Mothership, Harsh Toke, Egypt and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Not that this one really needs a plug, considering that as of this writing Glory or Death Records‘ Kickstarter campaign for a Thin Lizzy tribute to be titled Bow to Your Masters has hit 274 percent of its fundraising goal, but it’s pretty awesome that as a result of that, the label has added a second LP to the project and announced the first band who’ll take part in it is High on Fire. The way the numbers have played out pretty much underscores the absolute no-brainer, duh-of-course-head-slap awesomeness of the idea in the first place, and among life’s many worthy tenets, “The more Thin Lizzy, the better,” continues to resound as dogma.

Will there be a Volume 2? Will Glory or Death earn enough in the remaining week of the campaign to add a third LP here? Time will tell.

Background info and the latest tracklisting update follow here, courtesy of the label:

Bow to Your Masters Volume 1: Thin Lizzy Set for Winter Release

First Vinyl Release from Glory or Death will be a Tribute Featuring Heavy Underground Heavyweights

Glory or Death Records is extremely excited to announce our first vinyl release, and the first in our series of Bow to Your Masters tribute albums. For this first release we chose a special band to pay tribute to: Thin Lizzy, one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time.

The album announcement comes with a Kickstarter campaign that has already met the original goal, but is still going until 5/30/17. The Kickstarter preorder features limited vinyl and art packages and surprise rewards that will be added in the second half of the campaign. Buying now will grant access to the highly-limited first pressing of Bow to Your Masters Volume 1: Thin Lizzy, which will feature some of the best heavy metal, rock, and psych bands in the business putting their own unique spin on classic Thin Lizzy songs.

The album features bands from innovative labels like Doomentia Records, Riding Easy Records, Ripple Music, Tee Pee Records, and Totem Cat Records.

The 10 bands coming along for the ride are: Mos Generator (Seattle, WA), Egypt (Fargo, ND), White Dog (Austin, TX), Red Wizard (San Diego, CA), Slow Season (Visalia, CA), Mothership (Dallas, TX), KOOK (San Jose, CA), Great Electric Quest (Oceanside, CA), Sacri Monti (Encinitas, CA), and Harsh Toke (San Diego, CA).

**UPDATE-2nd LP announced, High on Fire First Band Added**

LP1 Band/Track Listing
Mos Generator-Massacre
Egypt-Suicide
White Dog-???
Red Wizard-???
Slow Season-She Knows
Mothership-???
KOOK-Thunder and Lightning
Great Electric Quest-???
Sacri Monti-???
Harsh Toke-???

LP2 Band/Track Listing
High on Fire-???
???
???
???

The launch teaser video for the Kickstarter campaign includes a sample of Mos Generator playing a monster cover of Massacre, and there is also a teaser of Egypt’s version of Suicide. The rest of the tracks will be revealed before the end of the Kickstarter campaign. The album will release in late 2017—with a current target of November.
The album cover features art from renowned album and band/poster artists David Paul Seymour and Austin Barrett; the 4-panel cover will feature re-interpretations of classic Thin Lizzy photos and album covers. The Kickstarter campaign has reward tiers that include the 4 original art pieces that make up the cover as well as signed screen-prints of the 4 cover panels.

Details:
Kickstarter Address: http://bit.ly/gloryordeath
Kickstarter pre-order deadline: 5/30/17

http://www.facebook.com/gloryordeathrecords
http://www.instagram.com/glory_or_death_records

Thin Lizzy, Fighting (1975)

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Harsh Toke, Joy & Sacri Monti Announce Burnout Split Due June 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Want. It’s that simple. Want.

If you needed further evidence of San Diego as the American epicenter of heavy psychedelic rock, or of Tee Pee Records‘ absolute on-it-ness when it comes to same — I don’t even care if it makes me sound like a fanboy, it’s true; also, does anyone say “fanboy” anymore? — I humbly submit the forthcoming Burnout split vinyl from Harsh Toke, Joy and Sacri Monti. It’s three righteous acts joining forces on the kind of off-album release that keeps people talking for years. The thing looks killer and I’ve no doubt sounds the same, with Harsh Toke taking on two Roky Erickson covers while Joy tackle Road and Sacri Monti treat listeners to some Atomic Rooster, directly tying the original generation of heavy to the current and up-and-coming one.

Whatever. It’s a want. You shouldn’t need me to tell you that. Already holding a spot for it on my list of the best EPs and splits of the year, because that’s the kind of impartial-ass critic I am. Here’s art and info off the PR wire:

harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout

JOY, HARSH TOKE & SACRI MONTI Team Up on Three-Way Split EP, ‘BURNOUT’

Ever feel like bands that get tagged with the heavy PSYCH descriptor just aren’t very psychedelic? Or heavy? Tee Pee Records is here to save the day with the three-way heavy psych split, BURNOUT. Featuring California kings HARSH TOKE, JOY and SACRI MONTI, BURNOUT brings back the blues and whisks you away to a place where guitar solos reign supreme! The compilation will be released on June 23 in digital and CD formats as well as a limited edition triple 7″ package (pre-order here).

Alongside SoCal godfathers EARTHLESS, HARSH TOKE, JOY and SACRI MONTI are simultaneously skyrocketing a pathway towards the future of molten heavy psych. You’ve heard about all of the noise coming from the red hot California heavy psych scene that is taking the west coast by storm, now experience for yourself the exciting sounds that have everyone talking with BURNOUT!

On BURNOUT, HARSH TOKE serves up two searing Roky Erickson rippers — in homage to the tribute the band paid to the Texas psychedelic icon at the 2017 Roadburn Festival — while JOY and SACRI MONTI shred through a terrific new track apiece, while also paying tribute to legends that paved the way; JOY covering the ROAD classic “Spaceship Earth” and SACRI MONTI blazing through ATOMIC ROOSTER’s “Sleeping for Years”. Each of the three 7″ records features artwork by acclaimed multi media artist, BB Bastidas, and on the back cover, photography by renowned photographer JT Rhoades.

Equal parts atmospheric and anarchic, HARSH TOKE merges raging, blind fury musicianship with unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse. In 2016, the band released a celebrated split EP with labelmates EARTHLESS and the acid rock band’s debut, Light Up and Live, came out in 2014.

The sound of JOY has been described as “a spaced-out sonic groove-ride” and “outer reach freak out”, but that hyperbole alone doesn’t do justice to the group’s measured mode of attack. Featuring Hendrixian guitarist Zach Oakley, JOY puts a premium on establishing both structure and dynamics, its kaleidoscopic flurry and full-throttle riffage is anchored by both subtle detail and surprising textural depth. JOY’s latest release was 2016’s Ride Along!

Roughly translated as “Sacred Mountains”, SACRI MONTI’s music is a searing smorgasbord of muscular rock that boils ’70s guitar rock down to its purest essence. Fingers bleed, eardrums implode and craniums collapse when SACRI MONTI cranks up its bitchin’, blistering buzz.

Track listing:

HARSH TOKE:
1.) Burn The Flames (Roky Erickson)
2.) Burmuda (Roky Erickson)

JOY:
3.) Your Time Ain’t Long
4.) Spaceship Earth (ROAD cover)

SACRI MONTI:
5.) Over The Hill
6.) Spaceship Earth (Atomic Rooster cover)

https://teepeerecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout-triple-7-out-june-23rd?variant=40958685140
https://www.facebook.com/theHARSHTOKEgoons/
https://www.facebook.com/JOYHEADBAND/
https://www.facebook.com/sacrimontiband/

Harsh Toke, Live at Roadburn 2017

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ROADBURN 2017 Day One: Wound of the Warden

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

roadburn banner (Photo JJ Koczan)

04.21.17 – 00.14 — Thursday night — Hotel room

The process of getting up and going to finalize and print out the first issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (download it here) probably couldn’t have been much easier than it was. I credit this entirely to Lee Edwards (of The Sleeping Shaman) and the 013 staff, all of whom expose me for the sulky amateur-hour schlub I am with their sheer professionalism. I continue to be astounded at how lucky I am to work with these people.

coven soundcheck (JJ Koczan)Whilst schlubbing and prior to folding my portion of the 1,000 copies of WCD, I caught a couple seconds of Coven‘s soundcheck, and so knew that was going to be a good time later in the day — not that Roadburn 2017 Day One was light on anticipation. Today actually was my busiest day here. It started intense and ended intense, with a fair bit of back and forth between, and I feel like I’m only being honest when I say I dragged ass for a decent portion of it, despite my best efforts to hyper-caffeinate and pound vitamins, but Roadburn only comes once a year. You stick it out as much as you can.

As such, I was over to Het Patronaat early to catch the start of Wretch. I’d rode in from the airport with the Indianapolis trio just by happenstance, and I knew it would be a quick stop through just to check out part of their set ahead of hoisting myself over to the Main Stage for the start of Crippled Black Phoenix, but the doom called me to the church and it was not to be missed. Before they got going, guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon recalled on stage when The Gates of Slumber played (they had canceled in 2010 owing to that goddamn volcano, only to make the trip a couple years later in 2012), only reinforcing how linked the two bands are, but that’s Wretch (Photo by JJ Koczan)not to take anything away from the presence bassist Bryce Clarke and drummer Chris Gordon bring to the rhythm section or what the new three-piece accomplished on last year’s self-titled debut (review here). Even if it’s grown out of another, it’s a new band.

They made that clear in cuts like “Icebound,” “Running out of Days,” “R.I.P.” and “Drown” from the record, and even managed to sneak in the Judas Priest cover “Winter,” as well as their take on Motörhead‘s “Sweet Revenge.” The hook of “R.I.P.” made it a personal highlight, and The Gates of Slumber‘s “The Wretch” was certainly a fit. I hear tell Wretch are recording a new single while touring the UK with Iron Void on this trip, so hopefully it’s not too long before we hear from them again. In the meantime, I rushed over to catch Crippled Black Phoenix on the Main Stage.

Call it an early headlining set from the by-now-long-ish-running UK avant rock outfit, whose blend of heavy indie, goth, melancholic rock and generally progressive undertone makes them a standout not only on this bill but also generally this planet. Crippled Black Phoenix (Photo by JJ Koczan)They’re simply like no one else. Supporting their latest album, Bronze (review here), they brought in a considerable crowd for it being so light out and managed to cast a balance between life-affirming and crushingly-depressive throughout. To wit, “No Fun” and “Scared and Alone” from Bronze were high points, the latter teased as being their last song without actually being it. They’ve become such an astoundingly different band than they were when they released their debut album, A Love of Shared Disasters, a decade ago, but have manage to lose neither their edge nor their will to push themselves forward. After being a dork for their work for so long, I felt lucky to finally see them play live.

I also knew that I was cool to stay put for the duration of Crippled Black Phoenix, because while much of Roadburn 2017 and indeed every single Roadburn involves bouncing around between stages, Salt Lake City’s SubRosa were hitting the Main Stage next, so I wasn’t going fucking anywhere. The string-laden outfit played the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn last month and they’ll play here again tomorrow at Het Patronaat for a special “SubDued” mostly-acoustic set, but today was a front-to-back performance of 2016’s For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), and as that was my pick for Album of the Year last year when it came out on Profound Lore, they were my most anticipated band of the entire festival. I didn’t cry to miss them in New York because I knew I’d see them in Tilburg.

However, I kind of did cry when they played “Troubled Cells.” At least teared up at the end when they SubRosa (Photo by JJ Koczan)brought out the backing chorus which, if I’m not mistaken, counted Nathan Carson of Witch Mountain among its ranks. Could be wrong, but the Magma shirt was a dead giveaway. Earlier in the set, I’d gone up after taking pictures to the side of the stage to watch from there for a couple minutes, which is something I let myself do only once per Roadburn. Like Crippled Black Phoenix before them, SubRosa carried the air of being early headliners, and at least for me, they most definitely were. If you’d told me I had to go back to the hotel, pack up my gear and get on a plane home when they were done, I’d have been bummed to leave the rest of the fest behind, but I wouldn’t be able to say I didn’t get my fest’s worth out of Roadburn 2017 after watching SubRosa. Yes, they were that unbelievable. “Black Majesty.” Holy shit. I scurried to the merch area when they were done like the beaten fool I was. Gladly.

There was something of a break for me when they were done. My next stop was Cul de Sac around the corner for Harsh Toke. I’d been fortunate enough to catch the San Diego jammers when they played Roadburn in 2014 (review here), and I’d taken due advantage of the lesson of watching them then, which was “Don’t Harsh Toke (sort of) (Photo by JJ Koczan)miss Harsh Toke,” and so I didn’t want to. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, however. I’d made a quick stop at the hotel to drop off my newly-acquired SubRosa merch, my laptop, coffee thermos, Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issues and other detritus from the early part of the day, and though I got to the smaller venue with 20 minutes to spare, it was still too late to get up front and get a spot where I could see. I bought a patch for five euros, took what wound up being the last open spot at the bar — a seat, no less! — and tried to let my head get into the flow. Given their propensity for groove, it wasn’t much of a challenge to catch my breath and chill out for a few minutes at least until the why-haven’t-you-ordered-a-beer stares of the staff got the better of me. I tried and failed to snap a decent picture of the band on my phone and once more sent myself packing back over to the 013, where Wolves in the Throne Room were on the Main Stage.

Didn’t take long to remember what was so easy to appreciate about them, what with their textured blackened approach, which sounded almost orchestral in that huge space. I hadn’t been in the Green Room yet, so I poked my head in to catch a couple seconds of Esben and the Witch — was bummed to see the miniature photo pit from last year was gone; that thing had been a godsend — ahead of Coven starting on the Main Stage. I didn’t know it until about 10 minutes before they went on, but apparently one needed a special photo pass to shoot Coven‘s set. Whoops. Just about everyone else and their cousin Coven (Photo by JJ Koczan)had one, but I guess I missed that memo. I went backstage to try my luck at getting one and was told in no uncertain terms in which direction to fuck (spoiler alert: “off”), so I went out to the front of the house and waited for Jinx Dawson to emerge in her sparkly mask from the coffin that had been placed in the middle of the stage. Not a hardship, but I felt like a dope. Not like I’m shooting pictures for a magazine or anything. It’s just me on here.

Once Coven got going, they dug wholesale into the classic heavy Satanic-ritual pop rock that’s made them the generational influence that they have been, and came across like the blueprint Ghost wish they could follow. Dawson was in complete command of the crowd and the sense of dark worship and drama was palpable. The biggest crowd of the day so far? I wasn’t counting heads in the Main Stage area, but it might’ve been, just by eyeballing it. i thought maybe I’d pop back over to the Green Room to watch Suma get going, but once again my timing was off and the place was packed out before I could get through the door. Would seem to have helped nothing in terms of timing that I left my watch at home this year. Speaking of amateur hour. Woof. One day I’ll have my shit together. Clearly that was not today.

Having thusly flubbed my shot at watching Suma, I lumbered over to Extase in plenty of time to await the start of The Devil and the Almighty Blues, whose second album, II (review here), was still pretty fresh in my mind. That helped — that always helps — but the truth of the matter is that in the energy of their delivery and their instrumental chemistry on-stage, the Norwegian outfit blew the record right out of the water. I looked around from in front of the stage and saw a lot of familiar faces from Roadburns past. Different genres here tend to attract niche portions of the overall crowd, and judging from how the temperature The Devil and the Almighty Blues (Photo by JJ Koczan)jumped in Extase shortly after The Devil and the Almighty Blues went on, the secret’s out. They came out to “O Death” and the mesh of blues and heavy rock they unleashed seemed in direct response to that fact. They were flat-out awesome, and the kind of act that, as an American, I simply don’t get to see anywhere but here. It wasn’t the first time in the day I felt lucky and it wasn’t the last, but the chance even to catch part of their set gave me a new appreciation for what they’re doing sound-wise, and for a band I already dug, the way they brought their material to life only added to their appeal.

My plan for ending the night would require better timing than I’d had all day, but I was relatively certain I’d be able to pull it off if I played my cards right. It meant skipping out earlier than I wanted to on The Devil and the Almighty Blues, but the basic fact of the matter is that particularly as someone who lives in New England, I’m way, way overdue for catching the reformed Scissorfight live on stage. In the back of my head, I’ve been able to justify not going to their local gigs in Massachusetts or their native New Hampshire by saying, “It’s okay; I’ll catch them at Roadburn,” so there was no way I was going to let myself not do that. Plus, it’s fucking Scissorfight. The band wrote “Granite State Destroyer.” “Blizzard Buzzards Bastards.” “New Hampshire’s Alright if You Like Fighting.” Not exactly like one needs to make excuses to show up.

To get to the bottom line of it, my ultimate opinion of the four-piece live wasScissorfight (Photo by JJ Koczan) pretty much the same as of their 2016 Salt of the Earth Records EP, Chaos County (review here), which is that if you miss this band, you’re only denying yourself an outlet of pure, crushingly heavy joy. I’m not saying that as someone who never saw Scissorfight in their original incarnation. In fact, I caught them multiple times with their original lineup, and whether they’re playing old material or new, Scissorfight in 2017 is no less a beast than they ever were. Guitarist Jay Fortin — of whom I remain embarrassed to take pictures, knowing him as an amazingly talented photographer — still has one of the finest tones in New England. Frontman Doug Aubin is absolutely insane on stage as well as off, as he showed by jumping into the crowd several times and starting a rare Roadburn mosh. Paul Jarvis‘ bass is still the source of heft behind their maddening impact, and newcomer drummer Rick Orcutt fits into those grooves with an ease and swing that makes the songs his own even as he does justice to their original incarnations. Shit was so right on. New songs or old, Scissorfight were a steamroller of riffs and growls that flattened the Green Room, and though the lesson that those who whine about this or that person not being in the band anymore are missing out was one I already knew, such fervent reinforcement of same was a pleasure to behold.

Scissorfight are touring with Backwoods Payback, and the latter Pennsylvania-based trio would be my final stop of the night, over in Extase once again. I got there early enough to get a spot up front and watched as Jeff and Kyle from Atala — labelmates all on Salt of the Earth — bonded over mutual desert connections, and kind of parked myself and made ready to round out the night, taking the last of my notes on Scissorfight — they read like, “Duh, they’re killer” — and asking and being shot done to take a photo with Jamie Cavanagh from Anathema, who was working sound at the venue. I’d already told him earlier that I thought their new record is great, which I do, so whatever. There you go. My nerd-out moment for Roadburn 2017 Day One.

Guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson compriseBackwoods Payback (Photo by JJ Koczan) Backwoods Payback at this point, and goodness gracious, what a band. What a band. Late last year, they snuck out the full-length Fire Not Reason (review here), but they were a different level of righteous on stage, and the balance of fury and melody in what they do remains underrated in US heavy rock. I get that they haven’t been the most active group in the States over the last, say, five years, but especially with Larson on drums, they were every bit as tight as that thrash band I saw last night at the Hard Rock Hideout and had a depth of character to offer in their songwriting that most acts just can’t compete with. Heavy, but emotionally resonant, punkish in their execution but with a touch of metallic aggression as well, they not only write a solid hook like that of “You Don’t Move,” but they give that hook a purpose and an underlying sense of humanity. I’ve missed seeing them play live, and though the last time I caught them — I don’t even know what year it was — was a while back and with a different lineup, what’s always worked at their core was exactly what made me so happy I was able to finish the first night of Roadburn 2017 by watching them play. Once again, the Extase was full. That little club has been a fantastic addition to this festival, and it’s where I plan to start my afternoon tomorrow, as it happens.

Plenty to do before then, however. Including sleep, which as we press on past 3AM local time seems like an increasingly good idea.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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Roadburn 2017 Announces Small Stage Lineup, Art Shows & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

roadburn-2017-banner

I don’t even know what to say about Roadburn 2017 at this point, which means the annual pilgrimage must be getting close. There comes a moment every year where I just kind of have to throw my hands up, be in awe of the festival’s scope, and leave it at that. As Roadburn announces the lineup for its annual Hard Rock Hideout and who’ll be at the Cul de Sac venue over the subsequent four days — that Thursday lineup pretty much invites one to camp out there all day, but as ever, Roadburn will mean hard choices in terms of schedule — as well as art shows and other odds and ends for its bill, with more still to come, it’s safe to say we’ve hit that point. Hard to type with your hands thrown in the air, and yet here we are.

Most of the fest is sold out, which is about as surprising as a sunrise, but a few single-day tickets remain for those who want to get whatever piece of the action they can. Can’t say I’d blame you. I’ll be there. If you’re going, say hi. I’m the dude with the beard.

From the PR wire:

Cul-de-Sac line up, art exhibitions and more announced for Roadburn 2017

With weekend and Saturday day tickets already sold out for Roadburn 2017 and other day tickets not far behind, there are only a handful of acts and exhibitions still to announce. Following the below additions, there will be just one further announcement ahead of the festival.

CUL DE SAC & NEW ADDITIONS

In keeping with what has become Roadburn tradition, the festival’s fifth and most intimate stage returns to Cul de Sac. Once again, in collaboration with Never Mind The Hype (an independent Dutch music platform for everything heavy, alternative and deviant), we will focus on bringing you the most promising Dutch and Belgian bands, plus others from futher afield. Positioned just around the corner from the 013 venue, the intimate surroundings of the Cul de Sac mean you can get up close and personal with some of the most exciting bands the underground scene has to offer, squeezed in alongside some established acts too!

In 2017 the band that Roadburn is specifically choosing to showcase to our audience is Utrecht’s LASTER. The spotlight of Roadburn Introduces… this year will fall on this Dutch trio; to call them black metal doesn’t do justice to the complexity of each horrific layer of putridity they heap upon our senses. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

CUL DE SAC LINE UP
Thursday:
Ritual Object
Joy
Harsh Toke
Verwoed
Ortega
Bathsheba

Friday:
Ritual Object
Kuro
Zaum
Telepathy
Jonkoklapper

Saturday:
Laster
Bear
Hedonist
Lotus
Mantis
Slow Crush

Sunday:
Sink
Stone in Egypt
Faal
MNHM
Jaye Jayle
Turia

In addition to the full Cul de Sac programme, two more bands have been added to the main Roadburn programme.

Describing their addition to Roadburn 2017 as “a dream come true”, California’s ATALA will bring their hypnotic riffing to the festival ahead of the release of their new album, Labyrinth of Ashmedai, this Spring.

ANTROPOMORPHIA plan to let the murky brutality of their intricate yet straightforward-sounding death metal to do the trick when they welcome Roadburners to their own home town.

ART EXHIBITIONS

Another Roadburn tradition is a commitment to visual arts alongside musical offerings and 2017 is no different. A diverse selection of artists will exhibit at Roadburn Festival this year.

The Two Worlds of MARALD VAN HAASTEREN: Born in Leiden, The Netherlands in 1970, Marald is best known for his collaborative work with John Dyer Baizley on the images and packaging artwork of Baroness latest album, Purple. Being part of the DIY underground scene since the late 80’s, Marald has also been making art for the likes of High on Fire, Kylesa, and Bolt Thrower to name but a few. His distinctive blend of jaw-dropping craftmanship and delicate, compositional sensibility ranges from black and white ink works to full colour paintings, enhanced by digital media – though the basis for Marald’s stunning technical masterpieces, remains hand drawn imagery.

FURSY TEYSSIER – Exhibition of Drawings: Hailing from France, Fursy Teyssier is a visual artist and composer who has refined his talents over the years to entwine a strong artistic identity with mesmerizing aural creations. Teyssier’s band, Les Discrets, is the culmination of all his artistic endeavours, whether it’s his take on shoegaze, post-rock and, of course, black metal, or his work as an illustrator, painter, or animated film director. The band conveys his art, and in turn Teyssier’s artwork captures Les Discrets’ dream-like approach.

Got No Obvious Direction: A Visual Art Exhibition by GNOD: Established in 2007, psychedelic, anarcho, sonic pioneers GNOD celebrate their tenth anniversary as artist in residence at Roadburn 2017. In conjunction with their musical explorations, there will be outsider art on display at the 013 venue by various GNOD-bods.Since 2009, GNOD have based their operations from Salford’s premiere arts venue, Islington Mill. Being influenced by the static and transient artistic community the building has hosted, some pieces have been featured on the band’s early releases, as well as artwork used for their Tesla Tapes label.

ROLAND SCRIVER – Familiar Ink: Not content with levelling small buildings and causing tectonic shifts via the power of six deadly strings, erstwhile Serpent Venom guitarist Roland Scriver is also a visual wizard who works magickal art under the name Familiar Ink, art with an unexpected lightness – both of touch and imbued within the art itself. Come let the light in with Roland Scriver, AKA Familiar Ink, at Roadburn 2017!

HARD ROCK HIDE OUT

Whilst many Roadburners arrive in Tilburg on Thursday, the first official day of the festival, hundreds more arrive the day before. And to keep them out of trouble, or at least contain it, we’re thrilled to announce that The Hard Rock Hideout, Roadburn’s official pre-show party will return on the Wednesday evening at Cul de Sac.

Forging 80s inspired thrash metal, Holland’s own DISTILLATOR, black’n’roll veterans, HERETIC, and Californian riff masters ATALA – yes, them again – will crack one (or more) open and kick off the festival in style.

Artists already announced for Roadburn 2017 include Coven, Warning (playing Watching from a Distance in full), Artists in Residence – GNOD, My Dying Bride (performing Turn Loose The Swans in its entirety), Ulver, Hypnopaz?zu (David Tibet & Youth), Zeal & Ardor, Mysticum, Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe, and our 2017 curator, John Baizley who will perform with Baroness, plus many more. Roadburn Festival will take place 20-23 April, 2017 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets (and campsite tickets) are on sale for Roadburn 2017 and can be purchased from this link.

4 day – SOLD OUT
3 day (Thu, Fri, Sat) – SOLD OUT
Thursday only – 59 Euro
Friday only – 59 Euro
Saturday only – SOLD OUT
Sunday only – 54 Euro

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

Atala, “Levity” official video

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 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 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

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Roadburn 2017 Adds 24 New Bands: Bongzilla, Disfear, Serpent Venom, Lycus, Ruby the Hatchet, Harsh Toke, Joy and Many More

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

Roadburn 2017 banner

As one has come to expect by now, there’s an awful lot of badassery in this latest announcement from Roadburn 2017. The Tilburg-based festival doesn’t seem to do anything small at this point — though it boasts not one, but two delightfully intimate venues, so take that assertion with a grain of reality’s salt — and that certainly includes this round of 24 lineup additions. For me, particularly notable is the West Coast heavy psych invasion underway with the likes of Joy and Harsh Toke added — Tee Pee labelmates Ruby the Hatchet are no slouches themselves in that regard — and UK doomers Serpent Venom, who, as noted in the expansive update below, are overdue for an appearance at this showcase of showcases. I’ve included the stream of their last album as a refresher of its righteousness, in case you need one.

Also dig Bongzilla added to perform Gateway in its entirety. They’ll be part of a killer Main Stage lineup that day that’s basically untouchable and bound to engender much whining when the schedule is released and is packed as ever in all the other rooms. See also Big Business, Pontiak, Radar Men from the Moon, The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Lycus and so on. In the immortal words of pre-cold-dead-hands Charlton Heston, “it’s a madhouse.”

Check it out:

Twenty-four new additions to Roadburn’s 2017 line up

• John Dyer Baizley adds four new bands to his curated event, plus confirms a live interview at Roadburn 2017.
• Bongzilla confirm their first trip to Roadburn
• Big Business return to Roadburn ten years after their last performance at the festival.
….and more

JOHN DYER BAIZLEY

John Dyer Baizley has confirmed four more bands for his curated event, with the line up now almost complete. In addition, he will also take part in a live interview at Roadburn 2017 as part of the festival’s side programme.

Few others, if any, hardcore bands carry so much weight and impose so much respect outside their own scene as INTEGRITY do, perhaps because they have always transcended their “root” genre, both stylistically and conceptually. Baizley comments: “I hope to see you all there, while Integrity proves to all present that the ferocity has neither dulled nor become disingenuous throughout their career. Reality is bleak, but through darkness we are able to find connectivity and community.”

DISFEAR have been one of the leading lights of the Swedish d-beat scene in the almost three decades they have existed. They might not record of perform often, but when they do, you know it’s going to be something extraordinary, as John says: “I don’t know exactly what to expect from this re-emergence, but I’m sure it won’t be a gentle one. This should be a no-hold-barred, fists-in-the-air, mandatory-circle-pit set, and you better believe I’m not missing a minute of it.”

OATHBREAKER have wowed audiences around the world with the release of their latest album, Rheia. John counts himself among the devoted, commenting of the album: “Therein exists a healthy reverence and understanding of the genres it references; yet it’s a record that is beholden to no style, genre or convention. There are layers upon layers of sound that recall black metal, pop, indie, hardcore, shoe-gaze, you-name-it; yet as I listen, I am aware of none of this – it has been presented so artfully and with such earnest and unpretentious conviction.”

If you trace the history of post-rock, you’ll go all the way down the family tree to find Nathan Means, Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson, the three members of TRANS AM, at the very root of it all. “I have always been a massive Trans Am fan, and I think their performance at Roadburn will be an incredible moment during next year’s festival,” John says, “I’m sure Sebastian will have his work cut out for him, playing two very intense and completely different sets, with both Baroness and Trans Am (Friday and Saturday, respectively). Do not miss this show, it will be a truly incomparable experience during Roadburn 2017.”

John Dyer Baizley will also be participating in Roadburn’s popular side programme, having confirmed that he will take part in a live interview hosted by Ula Gehret. John will talk through his personal and professional highs and lows before taking questions from the audience.

BONGZILLA

In an unparalleled stoner celebration, reformed Wisconsin riffmasters BONGZILLA have been confirmed to perform their classic album Gateway in its entirety at Roadburn Festival 2017. Next year marks 15 years since BONGZILLA originally released Gateway in 2002. Their third album, it indeed was for many listeners a doorway into a new world – a dimension of crust-laden sludge that, in the years since, has gone on to put an entire generation of bands under its influence. Unmatched in its dankness, coated in purple and green tonal wash, Gateway’s weedian righteousness is no less potent today than a decade and a half ago.

BIG BUSINESS

The last time this dynamic duo set foot at Roadburn was way back in 2007, in the company of their Melvins bros, but now, fully grown up and with a bunch more records, experience and exactly the same amount of boundless creativity, they will return on their own, as the singular, unique musical force they are.

WHORES.

Their live shows have a reputation for being way beyond the norm in terms on intensity, so we are super stoked to bring this power trio, WHORES.to Roadburn for the first time. We have the feeling it just might be one of those shows that everyone will talk about for years afterwards, so make sure you don’t miss WHORES. when they play Roadburn 2017 – they have a curious knack for melody that’ll ensure these tunes stay with you long after the bruises have healed up.

ALSO CONFIRMED:

Alaric will deliver a hybrid of post-punk’s tense, angular structures with the size and spread of extreme metal’s most dynamic sonic components.
Author & Punisher heralds the rise of the machines with a unique take on industrial doom.
Cobalt offer atypical excursions through black metal via apocalyptic tribalism, old Americana, and a doom-laden, ritualistic atmosphere.
Fórn bring both soul-crushing lows and groovy assaults at higher moments.
Gnaw Their Tongues have promised “something special” for their Roadburn set. Prepare for aural torture.
Harsh Toke will perform a set comprised entirely of Roky Ericsson covers.
Hedvig Mollestad Trio touch on genre-blurring hardrock and metal riffery as well as the noisier realms of jazz improvisation.
Joy are a San Diego heavy psych power trio, inviting you to ride along with them at Roadburn.
King Woman heavy, dark, emotional, beguiling, confrontational.
Lycus – monolithic, mournful, and massive sounding doom.
Pinkish Black will be making waves and breaking hearts with their chilling synthesiser dirges.
Pontiak are primal and fiery and often fuzzy and psyched out; ready to give a lesson in rock.
Radar Men From The Moon will team up with Roadburn 2017 artist in residence GNOD for a collaborative performance known as Temple Ov BBV, as well as playing their own show.
Ruby The Hatchet invite you to follow them on their kosmiche trip.
Serpent Venom – they’re trippy, they’re heavy, they are long overdue a Roadburn appearance.
The Devil & The Almighty Blues are heavily inspired by Delta blues, and standing at the crossroads of both American and British blues-based rock.
True Widow return with more sultry yet syrupy fuzzed out trips.

Artists already announced for Roadburn 2017 include Coven, Warning (playing Watching from a Distance in full), Artists in Residence – GNOD, My Dying Bride (performing Turn Loose The Swans in its entirety), Ulver and Hypnopaz?zu (David Tibet & Youth) and Zeal & Ardor, Mysticum, Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe, and our 2017 curator, John Baizley who will perform with Baroness, plus many more. Roadburn Festival will take place 20-23 April, 2017 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets (and campsite tickets) are on sale for Roadburn 2017 and can be purchased from this link.

4 day – 195 Euro
3 day (Thu, Fri, Sat) – 172 Euro
Single day ticket, Sunday only – 54 Euro

Thursday, Friday and Saturday single day tickets will be on sale on January 12 priced at 59 Euro.

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)

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Buried Treasure at The Sound Garden in Baltimore

Posted in Buried Treasure on July 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sound garden haul

Try to stay with me on this one. Last weekend was Maryland Doom Fest 2016. I drove down from Massachusetts last Friday to Frederick, MD, for it with The Patient Mrs., dropping her off first at family friends’ outside of Baltimore. We had her car, which, on Sunday, died in the parking spot outside the venue and had to be towed to a garage to receive a new alternator. Okay. That’s step one.

Step two: I had to get back to Massachusetts on Monday to start my new job on Tuesday. As her car would not be ready in time, The Patient Mrs. rented another vehicle and came and picked me up in Frederick and north we went. The repair would end up costing $900, but I made it to work on Tuesday and all went well, so it could’ve been much worse. The snag was that her car remained in that garage in Frederick and the rental would also need to be returned to Maryland, so looming all week was this impending journey back down I-95/I-78 to swap out cars again.

My job is in Rhode Island and gets out early on Fridays. 1PM. After swinging through Frederick to get her car and dropping off the rental, we got to where we were staying Friday night at 11PM. Between that, the fact that I’d survived my first week at a new job while still feeling positive about the experience, and the likewise impending trip back north, there was basically zero fucking chance I wasn’t going to The Sound Garden in Baltimore to do some serious-business record shopping before we hit the road.

So that was Saturday morning. My foot still screwed up, I hobbled toward the Psychedelic section (which had moved since last I was there) and started grabbing discs. Some new, some old, some in between, but The Sound Garden is arguably the best record store I’ve been to on the Eastern Seaboard — my heart will always hold a place for Vintage Vinyl in NJ, of course — so I knew I was going to find plenty.

I don’t record shop the way I used to. It used to be constant, a snag-this-snag-that process to put CDs on the shelf. I’m a little less likely to find stuff now, buy more online and direct from bands, and so on, but though I couldn’t really walk in the early part of the day, I still very much enjoyed digging through the rows to see what there was that needed to get bought. Turned out I did fine:

Maria Bamford, Ask Me About My New God!
Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
Causa Sui, Return to Sky
Comet Control, Center of the Maze
Conan, Revengeance
Death, For all the World to See
Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
Flower Travellin’ Band, Satori
Graves at Sea, The Curse that is Graves at Sea
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Noeth ac Anoeth
The Meters, Look-Ka Py Py
Monolithe, Epsilon Aurigae
The Motherhood, I Feel so Free
The Peace, Black Power
The Pretty Things, S.F. Sorrow
Valley of the Sun, Volume Rock

Some of that was stuff I had to own on principle. How often do you run into a US-based store with El Paraiso Records distribution? Causa Sui, then, was a must. I was likewise surprised and thrilled to see Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Monolithe, so those were musts. The Death record (and documentary) was recently re-recommended to me from a trusted source, so I figured I’d grab that, and then stuff like Graves at Sea, the Earthless / Harsh Toke split, Comet Control, Valley of the Sun and Beastmaker were records I’d written about that I wanted physical copies of anyway. I’m about 80 percent sure I already have a copy of the latest Conan. but thought I’d get it while I was there, and if I wound up with a double, worse things have certainly happened.

From the aforementioned Psychedelic section, a couple treasures in Flower Travellin’ Band‘s Satori, which was also the first of the haul I put on, its hard-thudding krautrock-inspired proggy proto-metal enough to gloriously alienate a room, and The Pretty Things‘ concept album S.F. Sorrow, and The Motherhood‘s I Feel so Free — all ’70s-era outings. The Funk/Soul section yielded The Peace and The Meters, and Comedy/Spoken Word the Maria Bamford, which I picked up in no small part because her show on Netflix, Lady Dynamite, is so remarkably brilliant. If you haven’t yet watched it, do so immediately.

By the time I got through finding Monolithe, Graves at Sea and Beastmaker in the metal section to grabbing the Death record as I walked past it on my way to the register, I was feeling considerable discomfort at standing on my right foot, which was in the same supportive cast — I call it “das boot,” well aware that the actual German word means “boat” — I had on at the fest last weekend. That put something of a rush on the tail end of the shopping experience as I needed to get somewhere I could sit down, but while I probably could’ve spent a few more hours dicking around at The Sound Garden, I don’t at all feel like I missed anything except perhaps a t-shirt from the store, which I’ll grab next time, and for a trip that was made under less than ideal circumstances, I definitely felt as I walked out that I’d made the best of the time I had.

There are all kinds of record shop ratings out there, but if you happen to be in Fells Point or the greater region, The Sound Garden really is one of the best stores I’ve ever been to, and it continues to be a destination in my mind for when I’m around. It made the long drive back north that much easier to endure, which is saying something in itself.

The Sound Garden – Baltimore website

The Sound Garden on Twitter

The Sound Garden on Thee Facebooks

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