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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Earthless & Harsh Toke, Acid Crusher / Mount Swan: Acidic Compounds

Posted in Reviews on May 31st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

earthless harsh toke acid crusher mount swan

Whoever first had the idea to pair up Earthless and Harsh Toke for a split full-length, he or she was correct. Hardly the deepest critical insight I’ve ever had, but there it is. The San Diego longform heavy psychedelic rockers team exceedingly well on the 12″ platter, Acid Crusher / Mount Swan, each band offering a side-consuming single track immersion with a different take on similarly-intentioned righteousness. For the heads who will get it, this review is superfluous. Not only does Acid Crusher / Mount Swan sell itself to the already-converted, but comes across more as a victory lap than a release, Earthless‘ “Acid Crusher” and Harsh Toke‘s “Mount Swan” both taking ‘er easy all over lazy-day lysergics, unleashing instrumental chemistry between them the likes of which few others could claim as their own. That’s true of both bands, by the way, and not just Earthless.

Aside from the sonic commonalities, one reason Acid Crusher / Mount Swan works so well is that it brings together that landmark three-piece — whose last album was 2013’s From the Ages (review here) but who also had a new song out earlier this year on a Scion-sponsored multi-band EP — with a younger outfit who clearly on one level or another are working under their influence and successfully bringing their own personality to their approach. There’s little question that Earthless have been a key factor in the boom of West Coast heavy psych of the last five years or so, and their presence here alongside Harsh Toke both reinforces their position at the fore of that movement and demonstrates some of the best of what’s being done with the impact they’ve had.

It’s worth acknowledging as well that Acid Crusher / Mount Swan might be a listener’s first exposure to Harsh Toke, who made their debut on Tee Pee in 2014 with the grower-listen Light up and Live, touring Europe that same year including a stop at Roadburn and going back last fall alongside labelmates Sunder, and if that’s the cast, then all the better for the impression they give. Their “Mount Swan” clocks in at just a bit under 20 minutes and offers molten psychedelic flow, some early vocals acting as the ground from which the subsequent instrumental breadth takes off. I don’t know how much of it is improvised or plotted out beforehand, outlined or meticulously written out measure by measure, but the flow they enact feeds gorgeously from the laid back motion of Earthless‘ 15-minute “Acid Crusher,” which over on side A pulls back on some of the thrust for which the band is known in favor of a key-and-percussion-laced fusion-style rollout, steady funk groove underlying the straightforward, grounding drum progression from Mario Rubalcaba.

earthless harsh toke acid crusher mount swan vinyl

The fluidity there becomes the theme that unites both tracks, and though Harsh Toke start out with a somewhat foreboding nod, after the initial verses, by the time they’re two minutes in, they set to a for-its-own-sake meandering that defines the rest of the song, starting out with a wash of feedback and noise and tripping on slow-motion cosmic swirl marked by periodic upticks in pace and an increased push of kick drum late. Would be fair enough to call it a payoff toward the end, but “Mount Swan” is less about a linear progression upward than a liquefied spreading outward, and that remains true even as the wheels start to come off near the finish and the dual guitars chug and solo around the central rhythm when the drums have faded out. The guitars fade out too, as it happens, which leads me to believe that somewhere on this planet there exists and even longer version of “Mount Swan” than that which appears here.

I started with the B-side for a reason, and that reason might be that Earthless are almost a given at this point. Rubalcaba, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell (also of Golden Void) and bassist Mike Eginton, hit their 15th year together in 2016, and though they only put out albums sporadically, the mark they’ve left can be heard throughout the West Coast and beyond. With “Acid Crusher,” they make it plain that they’ve by no means finished their exploration. They waste no time getting down to the business of groove with serene key work and fuzzy tones marching in step backed by percussion, flourishes of tambourine and an underlying current of volume swells and other effects, what sound like Echoplex loops but may or may not actually be. As is their wont generally, “Acid Crusher” is entirely instrumental, but it’s more than a jam as well, setting its vibe in the first half and expanding it in the second as Mitchell takes an extended solo at the 10-minute mark and uses it to lead the band to the song’s peak, which subsides in the last minute or so — presumably by then the acid in question has been thoroughly crushed — and they return to the locked-in groove that’s been at the center all along.

In showcasing their nuance and the fact that they can basically go wherever they want and make it work, “Acid Crusher” brings forward a different side of Earthless than some of the more raucous classic-style heavy psych for which they’re known, and Harsh Toke complement that well with “Mount Swan” while also affirming that Light up and Live‘s follow-up will be one worth anticipating. As I said at the outset, there will be many listeners who take on Acid Crusher / Mount Swan for whom its quality will be an absolute given, but even for those who might approach it on less sure footing, the delivery on the part of both acts winds up being pretty inarguable. These are two of the finest in heavy psych that California has to offer. They’re doing what they do.

Earthless, “Acid Crusher”

Harsh Toke, “Mount Swan”

Earthless on Thee Facebooks

Earthless on Instagram

Harsh Toke on Thee Facebooks

Harsh Toke on Instagram

Tee Pee Records

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Earthless and Harsh Toke to Release Acid Crusher / Mount Swan Split LP in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Alright, Earthless. Alright, Harsh Toke. Whatever you guys want. You want to pair up for a split LP out May 27 on Tee Pee? Fine. Just take my money. It’s yours. 35 minutes of unparalleled heavy psych instrumental West Coast madness? Just take it. Take it all. Give me two copies: one to stare at and one to leave on the shelf while I stare at the other one so there can always be a copy on the shelf.

I missed Earthless on their recent East Coast run because I am, well, employed, but their last album, 2013’s From the Ages (review here), continues to resonate, and I recall vividly watching Harsh Toke jam the hell out of a late-night set at Roadburn a couple years back, so yeah, fine. Pair up. You guys win this round. And really all the rounds.

Next round’s on me.

To the PR wire:

earthless harsh toke split

EARTHLESS and HARSH TOKE to Release Split LP May 27

San Diego Heavy Psych Kings Unite for Titanic Team-Up!

Sound-sculpting San Diego heavy psych titans EARTHLESS and HARSH TOKE have joined forces to bring music fans a colossal battle of the beasts! Titled, Acid Crusher / Mount Swan, the two track, 35-minute release will see a May 27 release via Tee Pee Records.

Prepare yourself, as 20,000 volts of concentrated electricity will rip through your speakers as the rampaging, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll flows like molten magma, destroying everything in its path! EARTHLESS brings to life the towering, 15-minute-long song “Acid Crusher”, which collides head-on with HARSH TOKE’s 20 minute creation, “Mount Swan”. Don’t miss this mind-bending, man-eating, winner-take-all mashup of two of modern psych’s most monstrous mongrels!

“Acid Crusher” will tide over EARTHLESS fans until the release of the band’s as-yet-untitled new LP, it’s first since 2013’s epic From the Ages. Fresh off of a sold out east coast headlining tour, EARTHLESS now dives back in to writing for their fourth full-length, which is expected to drop later this year. Formed in 2001 by drummer Mario Rubalcaba, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell and bassist Mike Eginton, EARTHLESS creates energetic, free-thinking instrumental music inspired by an eclectic mix of German krautrock and Japanese heavy blues rock.

“Mount Swan” represents the first new music from HARSH TOKE since the release of the acid rock band’s 2014 debut, Light Up and Live. Equal parts atmospheric and anarchic, HARSH TOKE merges raging, blind fury musicianship with unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse.

Track listing:

1.) Acid Crusher (EARTHLESS)
2.) Mount Swan (HARSH TOKE)

https://www.facebook.com/earthlessrips
https://www.instagram.com/earthlessrips/
https://www.facebook.com/theHARSHTOKEgoons/
https://www.instagram.com/harshtokegoons/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/acid-crusher-mount-swan/id1088915463
teepeerecords.com/products/

Earthless, “Uluru Rock” live in Cambridge, MA, March 16, 2016

Tags: , , , , ,

Desertfest Belgium 2015: Mars Red Sky, Harsh Toke, Black Bone and Vandal X Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2015

Desertfest Belgium 2015 continues to add to its enviable lineup. As in, I’m envious that I probably won’t get to go. Harsh Toke will hit it up as part of their just-announced European tour, and French heavy psych mavens Mars Red Sky are most certainly welcome on any lineup I’m writing about. Black Bone and Vandal X also join the bill, which hey, just for fun, let’s remind that it already featured fucking Goatsnake, Orange Goblin, Fatso Jetson, Ufomammut, Dozer, Greenleaf and Bongzilla.

That list of bands was only going to be like three long and then I kept seeing more. I could’ve kept going. The full list is below. It’s insane:

desertfest belgium 2015 poster

Mars Red Sky, Harsh Toke, Black Bone and Vandal X confirmed for DESERTFEST BELGIUM

European heavy/stoner/doom gathering DESERTFEST BELGIUM has a few more announcements coming this summer, and we’re happy to bring four more bands to the 2015 bill today: France’s finest heavy psych trio MARS RED SKY, San Diego’s cosmic jammers HARSH TOKE, some straightforward rock’n’roll with Eindhoven’s BLACK-BONE, and last but not least, German prog noise duo VANDAL X. Antwerp is set to be borne away by a whirl of fuzz-drenched rock and psychedelia in October!

Bands already confirmed are: Goatsnake, Orange Goblin, Bongzilla Fatso Jetson, Dozer, Moon Duo, Greenleaf, Valient Thorr, Ufomammut, Causa Sui, Siena Root, Monolord, Mars Red Sky, Sourvein, Glowsun, Carlton Melton, Monomyth, Child, Harsh Toke, Planet Of Zeus, Vandal X, Tangled Horns, Psychonaut, The Progerians, Wheel Of Smoke, Sunder, Fever Dog, Black-Bone and 3rd Ear Experience.

More acts to be announced soon…

On the other hand, we are sorry to announce the cancellation of Philly’s psych act Ruby The Hatchet, who won’t be touring Europe this fall due to personal reasons.

DESERTFEST BELGIUM 2015
October 9-11th at Trix Muziekcentrum – Antwerp
3 day tickets (96€) on sale HERE

More infos at www.desertfest.be

https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium
https://twitter.com/desertfestBE
http://www.desertfest.be/

Mars Red Sky, “The Light Beyond” official video

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Harsh Toke and Sunder Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Rules. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been quietly hoping for news of Harsh Toke putting together a follow-up to their 2013 Tee Pee Records debut Light up and Live, but if that’s not forthcoming, word that the San Diego jammers are headed back to Europe for a run alongside their newcomer labelmates Sunder is a more than decent consolation prize. Still wouldn’t mind some album news, but I’ll take what I can get.

Sunder‘s first release for Tee Pee is set to be a flexi 7″ that’s due out Sept. 11. They’ll reportedly have more to follow. They had two records out under their former moniker, The Socks, so they’re not exactly a brand new band, but it should be interesting to hear when the time comes what aesthetic shifts surface to go along with the name change. Their demo (review here) was right on.

Tour info culled from the information superhighway:

harsh toke sunder euro tour

HARSH TOKE & SUNDER // european tour // October 2015

Swamp Booking, Vivarium Music Group, Crusher Records and Tee Pee Records proudly present:

HARSH TOKE and SUNDER on tour
Oct. 01 – Holland, Landgraaf – Oefenbunker
Oct. 02 – Germany, Siegen – Vortex
Oct. 03 – Germany, Mannheim – mohawk club
Oct. 04 – Germany, Kassel – Goldgrube
Oct. 05 – France, Paris – La Mecanique Ondulatoire
Oct. 06 – France, Lyon – Ayers Rock Boat
Oct. 07 – France, Strasbourg – Mudd Club
Oct. 08 – Germany, Köln – Limes
Oct. 09 – Germany, wurzburg -Immerhin
Oct. 10 – Belgium, Antwerp – Desertfest
Oct. 11 – Germany, Berlin – Bassy
Oct. 12 – Austria, Vienna – Arena
Oct. 13 – Germany, Munich – Backstage
Oct. 14- Germany, Lichtenfels – Paunchy Cats
Oct. 15 – Swiss, Horstklub – Kreuzlingen
Oct. 16 – Swiss, Olten – Le Coq D´Or

HARSH TOKE
SAN DIEGO – USA

Psychedelic rockers HARSH TOKE explore sound and space through music. On the San Diego Acid Rock band’s debut album Light Up and Live, loud, heavy guitars, swimming bass lines and smashing drums warp to full throttle, working together to launch the group’s “Haze Maze” of unapologetic psychedelic-blues into interstellar overdrive. Recorded by Brian Ellis (also of the prog-rock band ASTRA) and mastered by Carl Saff (Earthless, OFF!, Unsane)

HARSH TOKE are equal parts atmospheric and anarchic, merging raging, blind fury musicianship with unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse. Tense and surreal, HARSHTOKES’ songs slowly build from hallucinatory haze into grand overtures of noise and feedback; a cosmic buffet of pounding, pummeling and punishing planes of sound. Heavy. Cosmic. Kinetic.

HARSH TOKE lay down sizzling grooves with every needle on the soundboard pinned to the red. If Blue Cheer could be called “Louder than God” in 1968, forty five years later, HARSH TOKE can easily be pegged as “Louder than Satan.” Run for your lives – into the din.

https://www.facebook.com/theHARSHTOKEgoons/
http://teepeerecords.com/bands/harsh_toke/index.php

SUNDER
LYON – FRANCE

The Gods of Rock have seen fit to bestow upon the masses a reincarnation of the psychedelic force previously known as The Socks.

Comprising the same lineup, this incarnation of reverberation that goes by the name ofSunder is destined to sell out stadiums throughout the world, splitting heads through the ears with their brand of thunderous, heavy rock.

Signed to Crusher Records in Europe and Tee Pee Records in the States, Sunder is poised to leave their mark the world over.

https://www.facebook.com/officialsunder
http://teepeerecords.com/pages/sunder

https://www.facebook.com/events/1463924630575826/

Harsh Toke, “Light up and Live”

Sunder, “Deadly Flower” (Demo)

Tags: , , , , , ,