Duel Touring to Descendants of Crom Fest

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

duel

After touring Europe last Fall and appearing earlier this year at the Maryland Doom Fest, kickass Texas four-piece Duel will make their way north this month to Pittsburgh to take part in the festivities at Descendants of Crom 2018. They join a lineup there that features Mos Generator, Come to Grief, Worshipper, Forming the Void, Curse the Son and a vast slew of others, and they go supporting their indelicately-titled 2017 sophomore outing Witchbanger (review here), having also followed that up this past Spring with the live album, Live at the Electric Church (review here).

That live record made a pretty good case for seeing Duel onstage, but they’re quickly and rightly earning a reputation either way, and it seems that the more they tour, the more they should. Being on the road only helped them to solidify their approach between their 2016 debut, Fears of the Dead (review here), and the subsequent offering, and one only hopes the thread of progression in songwriting and performance will only continue as they perhaps work toward a new album in 2019. Pure speculation there, but they’d be due.

Anyway, it’s a quick string of dates around Descendants of Crom and you’ll find them below, courtesy of the PR wire:

Duel septmeber US tour 2018

DUEL ON TOUR

DUEL is heavy psychedelic stoner doom metal from Austin, Texas. Hugely influenced by the darker sounds of early 70’s Proto-metal. Features two ex Scorpion Child (Nuclear Blast)members. Their sound is menacing and brutally old school. Total purists, their tunes cut right to the bone with heavy, deep groove and blistering tone. Tough and Loud! Hard rock as it should be!

Our beloved “apple” rockers DUEL will smash US in 3 weeks, you can’t miss them !!!

Duel live:
25.09.2018 – Growlers / Memphis TN
26.09.2018- Best Friend Bar / Lexington KY
27.09.2018 – 1984 Club / Wilmimgton DE
28.09.2018 – Ortlieb’s / Philadelphia PA
29.09.2018 – Descendants of Crom Fest / Pittsburg PA
30.09.2018 – Little Harpeth Brewery / Nashville TN

DUEL are:
Tom Frank – Guitars / Vocals
Shaun Avants – Bass / Vocals
Jeff Henson – Guitars
Justin Collins – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/DUELTEXAS/
https://duel3.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Duel, Witchbanger (2017)

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Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman: Swagger and Soul

Posted in Reviews on September 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork mankind woman

Strip it down. The central mission of Brant Bjork‘s 12th studio album seems to have been to get back to basics, and that means groove. There’s ultra-funk that runs deep throughout Mankind Woman, and in songs like “Chocolatize” and “Somebody,” the godfather of desert rock crafts his most intimate-sounding release in at least a decade, if not longer. It’s a collection informed by the soulful aspects of records like 1999’s mellow-heavy desert classic Jalamanta (discussed herealso here) and particularly 2002’s Brant Bjork and the Operators, which was made under similar circumstances of close collaboration.

In this case, Bjork worked together with guitarist Bubba DuPree (ex-Void, also of Bjork‘s backing group, The Low Desert Punk Band) to write the material and bringing in recurring guest vocalist Sean Wheeler to take lead vocal spots on side B cuts “Pretty Hairy” and closer “Nation of Indica,” former Kyuss/Vista Chino bandmate Nick Oliveri and Armand Secco Sabal (who’s toured with Al di Meola) for bass spots. The result is an 11-track/38-minute easy-flowing LP that discards much of the aggressive edge of 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) — Bjork‘s two studio full-lengths through Napalm Records, which also issued the live outing, Europe ’16 (review here), last year — in favor of material that is smoother and more laid back.

Sure, the title-track sleeks its way into a Deep Purple (sans organ) boogie in its second half and the fittingly-enough centerpiece “Swagger and Sway” has some element of challenge in the lyrics, “Try to do something about it/I dare you,” but the prevailing vibe on Mankind Woman is more indebted to classic soul and R&B, melded of course with the signature desert rock style that Bjork has made his own over the better part of the last 20 years. Cuts like the shuffling “Lazy Wizards” and “Pisces” early in the tracklisting are straightforward in their style — the latter with a particularly resonant hook — and follow the opener “Chocolatize” (premiered here) in finding a place where something can be heavy and soothing at the same time, empty of pretense but more than a simple run through the motions of Bjork‘s modus.

As Bjork leaves Napalm behind for Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds, it’s easy to read Mankind Woman as the beginning of a new era for his work, and if that’s the case, then so be it. Even Wheeler brings the soul to “Pretty Hairy,” as opposed to the sort of punker spoken declarations of “Nation of Indica” and while funk is ever-present in Bjork‘s style, to hear him directly engage it as he does on “Chocolatize,” “Mankind Woman” itself and “Somebody” is a refreshing readjustment of the balance. It’s the ultimate cliché to say an opener ‘sets the tone’ for the rest of the album, but the chorus, “It’s time to chocolatize our thing/Right on,” seems to be as much a statement of purpose for the collection as a whole as it is a standout hook on its own, and Mankind Woman indeed remains affected by its energy and deceptively complex arrangement of layers.

B-funk? D-funk (for desert)? Either way, as “Lazy Wizards” subsequently unfolds its righteously subdued groove, the impression of “Chocolatize” before it holds firm and makes an underpinning for just about everything that follows, even as “Charlie Gin” dips into garage rock, the later “Brand New Old Times” seems to take on no-frills early-Beatles-gone-fuzz-R&B hookmaking, and the penultimate “1968” unfurls itself with an uptempo swing that would’ve been at home on a second Vista Chino effort, with Bjork himself donning the John Garcia mantle in his vocal approach.

brant bjork

Mankind Woman brings no shortage of sonic variety in moving from track to track, but it’s the overarching fluidity that makes it work so well as a front-to-back listen, the steady flow of the production (helmed by Dupree as well as Yosef Sanborn, who engineered and mixed) helping to unite individualized pieces across the whole work in classic-album form. Not that a record with a song called “1968” on it is exactly missing ties to that era that saw the birth of heavy in rock and roll, but clearly Mankind Woman is speaking to that moment in more than just that one especially upfront manner.

And no complaints for that. With the exception of “Brand New Old Times” — which is the shortest cut included at 2:04 — the songs are by and large longer on side B, with “Somebody” and “Nation of Indica” tapping into the kind of jammy feel that populated some of the longer-form material on other recent long-players, but is quicker in doing so, speaking to the general reining in that seems to be happening throughout Mankind Woman as Bjork effectively resets his methodology. Likely some of it is writing alongside DuPree, but even if Bjork‘s doing so is a one-off rather than indicative of a new direction to be developed over future works, then the point still stands.

Clearly it was time for something different coming off Tao of the Devil, and that’s manifest in these tracks whatever familiar elements they might otherwise contain. For longtime Brant Bjork fans, Mankind Woman should feel like a gift. It taps into a spirit that fell by the wayside as Bjork embraced wider-scale touring — that said, he’s hitting Europe again to support this release — and a more full-band approach, and it does so without moving backwards creatively. It refuses to compromise its soul or dull-down its funkified roll, and it shows Bjork squarely in command of his style, songwriting and performance. Actually, I take that back. There’s nothing square about it.

Brant Bjork‘s legacy doesn’t — or shouldn’t — need to be recounted. From his days drumming and writing in Kyuss to joining Fu Manchu, to the one-off with Ché en route to establishing himself as a solo artist and releasing albums of diverse sound and consistent quality, he’s been nothing short of essential to the process of shaping desert rock into the multinational phenomenon it is today. Mankind Woman is true to this pedigree, but like each of Bjork‘s offerings, it has a personality unto itself and speaks to the ongoing creative growth of an absolute master of the form. Hearing it is only going to make your day better.

Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks

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Brant Bjork on Twitter

Brant Bjork website

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

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Fvzz Popvli European Tour Starts Oct. 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

fvzz popvli

They’re going here, they’re going there. They’re going to Germany, like you do. Italian scuzzrockers Fvzz Popvli are set to release their second album, Magna Fvzz (review here), on Oct. 5 through Heavy Psych Sounds, and the night before, they’ll begin a run of more than three weeks’ worth of shows to support the record. You’ll note that this is the “European Tour Part I,” which means there’s a “Part II” lurking somewhere on the horizon.

I’d guess probably in the Spring if you were going to make me guess — which would be an odd thing for you to do — but it’s further evidence in any case of the band’s will to tour as they have done basically since they got going a couple years ago. They might not stop with “Part II,” either.

The PR wire has it accordingly:

fvzz popvli tour

FVZZ POPVLI – MAGNA FVZZ EUROPEAN TOUR part I

Magical Mistery Van & Heavy Psych Sounds are proud to announce the first leg of the “Magna Fvzz European Tour” from October 4th to 28th in Italy, Germany, Swtizerland, Netherlands, Austria and France. Ready to catch FVZZ POPVLI on the road?!? Check their routing here!

Raised in Rome by Pootchie and Datio in A.D. MMXVI, with the conception of powertrio a direct and rough way for bring heavy fuzzy riffs. Their sound melt Black Sabbath style heavy riffs with the attitude of the roughest garagepunk bands like The Stooges, adding the psychedelia from 70’s getin’ their own style! The band released and promote an “EP” in May 2017 with a tour in Italy, Switzerland and Germany.

In June 2017 them become a part of the Heavy Psych Sounds Records (Brant Bjork, Nick Olivieri, Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man, Nebula, Giöbia, Duel, Black Rianbows.) roster for promote their first album “FVZZ DEI” out in September 2017, the album has brought the band on more than 70 european stages in 8 countries gettin’ the chanche to play in the mysterious DUNA JAM. In June 2018 the band recorded their 2nd album “MAGNA FVZZ”, will be released October 5th !!

04.10.2018 – I – Verona – Stoner Mafia Party
05.10.2018 – A – Graz – Club Q
06.10.2018 – A – Bludenz – Villa K
07.10.2018 – CH – Basel – Renèe
09.10.2018 – CH – Biel – Labiu
10.10.2018 – F – Stuttgart – Keller Klub
11.10.2018 – F – Nancy – The Riveter
12.10.2018 – F – Rouen – Les 3 Pièces
13.10.2018 – NL – Hengelo – The Sound – Innocent
15.10.2018 – D – Osnabruck – Dirty + Dancing
16.10.2018 – D – Dresden – Elbsludge
17.10.2018 – D – Leipzig – Black Label
18.10.2018 – D – Berlin – Toast Hawaii
19.10.2018 – D – Nuremberg – Projekt 31
20.10.2018 – D – Zittau – Bunter Hund
21.10.2018 – A – Wien – Weberknekt
23.10.2018 – D – Rosenheim – Asta
24.10.2018 – CH – La-Chaux-De-Fonds – Lac
25.10.2018 – CH – Geneve – D’urgence Disk
26.10.2018 – F – Roquebrune Cap Martin – Secret Show
27.10.2018 – IT – Parma – Splinter Club
28.10.2018 – IT – Bologna – Mikasa

FVZZ POPVLI ARE:
FRANCESCO “POOTCHIE” PUCCI – Guitar and Voice (BEESUS,The Wisdoom)
DATIO PALATIO – Bass (The Anthony’s Vinyls)
George – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/FvzzPopvli/
fvzzpopvli.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
www.heavypsychsounds.com/

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The Well Headed Back to Europe in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-well-photo-by-david-brendan-hall

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Gee, but didn’t The Well tour Europe just last month?” Correctamundo, your inner-dialogue. That was the Summer tour. This is the Fall tour. And anyway, the thing about going to Europe is once you go, it’s pretty much all you want to do. You get over there and everything’s awesome and old and different looking and they have different cars and not everything is slapped with a corporate logo on it — The Roman Coliseum, brought to you by Supercuts — and yeah, it’s not really much of a mystery why The Well would be headed back so soon. Plus, they’re booked for Up in SmokeDesertfest Belgium and Keep it Low, so who’s gonna argue with their turning it into a three-week run? Jerkwads, that’s who.

They head back over still supporting 2016’s candlelit-good-timer Pagan Science (review here) on RidingEasy Records, and though I was speculating for the summer tour that maybe they’d have a new record out — their debut, Samsara (review here), was released in 2014, so a two-year span between LPs would be on target — I still haven’t heard anything about such doings, so I’ll keep my speculations to myself this time. Lesson (probably not) learned.

Dates and whatnots from the PR wire:

THE WELL TOUR

***THE WELL – EUROPEAN FALL TOUR 2018***

Austin-based power trio The Well blossomed when guitarist/vocalist Ian Graham was fired from his previous band. Determined to redirect his musical focus, Graham hooked up with bassist Lisa Alley and the two began picking out riffs in their east-side garage. Rounding out their sound, they stole drummer Jason Sullivan from Graham’s old band in a tale of vengeance and karma. His solid groove and reckless tribal beat gave the three-piece their ideal primal attack.

Due to their psychedelic doom edge, The Well reap comparisons to Black Sabbath, Sleep, Electric Wizard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. As fans of cult horror films, they embrace the sinister, revel in dark themes and find inspiration in haunting echoes. The dual vocals of Graham and Alley evoke an ancient language that carries a mystic spell..

THE WELL EUROPEAN FALL TOUR 2018:
04.10.2018 IT Roma-Traffic
05.10.2018 IT Pisa-Albatross
06.10.2018 CH Basel-Up In smoke
10.10.2018 FR Lorient-Le Galion
11.10.2018 FR Nantes-La Scene Michelet
12.10.2018 FR Paris-Olympic Café
14.10.2018 BE Antwerp-Desert Fest
15.10.2018 DE Osnabruck-Darty+Dancing
16.10.2018 DE Tubingen-Shedhalle
17.10.2018 CH Basel-Hirschneck
18.10.2018 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
19.10.2018 DE Augsburg-City Club
20.10.2018 DE Munich-Keep It Low Fest
22.10.2018 DE Berlin-Toast Hawaii
23.10.2018 DE Erfurt-Tiko
24.10.2018 DE Frankfurt-DKK
25.10.2018 CH Olten-Coq D’Or
26.10.2018 CH Frauenfeld-Kaff
27.10.2018 CH Rorschach-Treppenhaus

THE WELL ARE
Ian Graham – Guitars / Vocals
Lisa Alley – Bass / Vocals
Jason Sullivan – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/thewellband
http://thewellaustin.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ridingeasyrecords/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/
https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

The Well, Pagan Science (2016)

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The Freeks Announce October Midwestern Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the freeks

With their apropos-of-everything Crazy World (review here) album still fresh in minds hip enough to get down in the first place, The Freeks will leave their Californian confines and head into the Midwest for a five-date run that starts in St. Louis on Oct. 3. The desert-blues-punker-whatever-else rockers go with the hearty encouragement of Heavy Psych Sounds, which issued Crazy World as the follow-up to 2016’s Shattered (review here), which was their third album.

The Freeks have done regular gigs around Los Angeles and the Pacific Coast, but as multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Ruben Romano (ex-Nebula) notes in his comments below, it’s been a little bit since he was last in the neighborhood. All the better then that they’re getting back out.

The PR wire puts it like this:

the freeks midwest tour

*** THE FREEKS – MIDWEST TOUR 2018***

THE FREEKS announce Midwest fall tour; new album “Crazy World” still available on HPS Records!

L.A. heavy rock ’n’ rollers The Freeks have just confirmed five Midwest shows taking place from October 5th to October 9th.

Says head Freek Ruben Romano: “I haven’t played a show in the Midwest since about 2006 when Nebula toured with the Hellacopters. Only this time I’ll be showing up with a bunch of FREEKS! So, Hell Yeah! I’m really looking forward to this and I am so amazed at the venues we got booked into. It’s not just returning to the region to get loud but also to have the pleasure of reuniting with all the great people I have met in the past, with further intentions on meeting many many more. I have always had such a great time in these cities!”

Come and join the party on one of the dates below:

The Freeks Midwest Tour:
03/10 – Fubar – St Louis, MO
04/10 – Reggie’s Music Joint – Chicago, IL
05/10 – The Nightshop – Bloomington, IL
06/10 – The Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
07/10 – Small’s Bar – Detroit, MI

The band recently released their fourth full-length “Crazy World” via Heavy Psych Sounds Records. You can stream it and order it at this location: https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-freeks-crazy-world or https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS077

Los Angeles’ THE FREEKS know that as the Earth revolves, the Sun and the Universe infinitely expand, it must be shared with as many different kinds of life as there are stars. A bold statement coming from a bunch of Freeks. This is not a new concept, however, an ever recurring one, dating back to Ezekiel’s biblical account to even further back with evidence from ancient Egypt and Mayan times. After 4,000 years, the theory continues strong as we enter 2018.

THE FREEKS ARE:
Ruben Romano – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Percussion
Jonathan Hall – Vocals, Guitar, Bass,
Esteban Chavez – Keys, Synth
Ray Piller – Bass
Bob Lee – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/TheFreeks/
https://twitter.com/The_Freeks
http://www.thefreeks.com/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS044

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Review & Track Premiere: Fvzz Popvli, Magna Fvzz

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

fvzz popvli magna fvzz

[Click play above to stream ‘And Let it Die…’ from Fvzz Popvli’s Magna Fvzz. Album is out Oct. 5 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

Roman ‘u’-averse scuzzriffers Fvzz Popvli return on a quick turnaround with their second album for Heavy Psych Sounds, Magna Fvzz. The follow-up to last year’s Fvzz Dei (discussed here) arrives after multiple rounds of touring and an appearance at Duna Jam in Sardinia and finds the fuzz of the masses taking the form of a blender of modern influences from the likes of Kadavar, Uncle Acid, Black Rainbows and Electric Wizard, as well as a swath of US West Coast heavy jams brought through a filter of distance and the three-piece’s other component elements. It’s a fascinating and enticing blend, and Fvzz Popvli — the trio of Francesco “Pootchie” Pucci (see also: Beesus and The Wisdoom), bassist Datio Palatio and drummer Doncalisto — put it all together to emerge with a burgeoning personality of their own on dug-in cuts (cvts?) like “Rvmpletvm” and opener “And Let it Die…,” the total seven-track/39-minute offering rounding out with the 12-minute closer “Magna Fvzz” with Bazu from psych rockers Giöbia sitting in on synth.

That song is led into by “Rvmpletvm” and “Cherry Bowl,” which are the only two other tracks over five minutes long, so there’s a distinct feeling of pushing further along an outward path leading into the finale, and with the uptempo garage dirt in the tones of “And Let it Die…” and the bounce and swing of the subsequent “Napoleon,” the outset of Magna Fvzz is immersive enough to make sure the listener is brought on board for the trip. “Napoleon” more fully unveils a penchant for rolling groove that the more brash leadoff hinted at, and that only lets the trio build a more fervent momentum pushing through one song into the next on the way to the instrumental closer, which, again, is where everything seems to find its far-out limit, as much as there is one, with space being endless and all that.

More than anything else, Fvzz Popvli sound like a band moving in the right direction. They’re headed toward finding a niche between their points of inspiration that is becoming their own sound, and in the meantime, an emerging sense of songwriting and aesthetic craft serves them well on this sophomore outing. Magna Fvzz is somewhat more humble (hvmble? okay, I’ll stop) in its aesthetic than the grandiose title might lead one to believe, but the willful arrogance there, the use of the superlative, doesn’t feel accidental. It speaks to an underlying influence out of classic punk — The Stooges walk by and wave — that Fvzz Popvli manifest amid the grit of Pucci and Palatio‘s tonality and the blown-out effects on the vocals. To wit, the speedy “The Deal” rolls out with bruise-leaving fuckall, its 3:35 run the shortest on the album not for any radical change in structure so much as tempo, and finds Pucci tearing into a solo that’s one of the highlights of the record and perhaps the most direct tie to the Pacific Coast underground; bands like Radio Moscow and Earthless seeming to inform its jammed-out, off-the-cuff vibe.

fvzz popvli

Following “And Let it Die…” and “Napoleon,” “The Deal” seems to be the culmination of this aspect of the band’s personality, as the remaining four-tracks will push into new territory. That’s a classic mullet of an album structure — business up front, party in the back — but Fvzz Popvli wear it like a band-logo trucker hat and bring their sound to life with due vibrancy and naturalism, an organic live feel permeating the proceedings and adding to the flow between the songs as well as the impact of them individually, each seeming to bring something different to the collection as a whole while also offering standout moments like the “na-na-na” hook of “And Let it Die…” or Doncalisto‘s kick into a gallop in the second half of “The Deal.” All of this works together to give Magna Fvzz the feel of being the work of a group in the process of coming into their own, and as with Fvzz Dei and their initial single, Lost in Time (discussed here), before it, the potential for where Fvzz Popvli might end up is writ large in this material.

Perhaps nowhere more than in the centerpiece “Get Me,” which would seem to be the gateway to the back end of Magna Fvzz and with a 4:20 runtime emits a decidedly grunge feel early on, a mellow start with Pucci‘s still-effects-drenched vocals highlighting some melody while enacting a build that launches into fuller tone shortly before the halfway point and continues to build as it goes forward, a buzzsaw lead taking hold just before the three-minute mark seeming to be the culmination of the filth-laden side of Fvzz Popvli‘s sonic persona, and Pucci‘s vocals answer back with a particularly Obornian sneer. The subsequent “Rvmpletvm” is more patient but still plenty grime-caked in its low-end fuzz, though some layered-in acoustic guitar adds nuance and a sense of subtlety one might not expect for an album that has thus far been so pointed in its intent. Thus Magna Fvzz‘s sonic expansion is underway, and “Cherry Bowl” continues it with a more direct vocal melody and swirling guitar over a swinging and hypnotic progression on a long, minute-plus fadeout leading to the title-track’s initial noise-barrage and drum-led unfolding.

I don’t know if “Magna Fvzz” itself is improvised, but even if they went into the studio with a general plan, a good deal of it would seem to be captured live, and that comes through especially with the wash of synth added to the core three-piece’s sound. One almost wishes there were vocals somewhere in its mire to tie it more to the six songs preceding, but neither would I trade the noise-barrage after seven minutes in and the final build that follows from the ground up, a nodding and resonant finish that leads to noise and a cold stop as though everyone just decided they’d gone far enough. I’m not inclined to argue. Fvzz Popvli had an encouraging debut and answer it here with a purposeful sense of creative progression underway. Their greatest impact may still be yet to come — recall the band only formed two years ago; whatever bands their members were in before, they’re still relatively new as a group — but the potential in their scvzz fvzz is right there waiting to be heard.

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The Sonic Dawn Announce New Album Set for 2019 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Whittled down from an apparent glut of material — 30 songs is not inconsiderable — the forthcoming long-player from Danish classic-psychedelic trio The Sonic Dawn will be released early next year via Heavy Psych Sounds. Why the delay? Well, one expects with pressing times, the label’s schedule, putting together art and all the standard pre-album hoopla — preorders, track streams, videos if they go that route, etc. — it would be a few months anyway, and I don’t know how to say this because it seems utterly impossible, but a few months from now is like November/December, and it makes sense that The Sonic Dawn would rather wait until the New Year to get their record out rather than have it arrive around the holiday season when most folks’ minds are elsewhere. It’s a deceptively quick jump between now and early 2019, however much that might sound like the future.

Fortunately, The Sonic Dawn sound a good bit like the past, you know, to balance things out. Yet untitled, their new record follows Spring 2017’s Into the Long Night (review here), which was the three-piece’s first for Heavy Psych Sounds after making their debut in 2015 with Perception (review here), issued by Nasoni Records.

The PR wire brings announcement of work completed:

the sonic dawn

Danish psychedelic trio THE SONIC DAWN completes new album; to be released early 2019 on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

Good news for all fans of the psychedelic sounds! The Sonic Dawn just finished recording their third LP, the culmination of a full year’s labor. Following their first two album releases, the Danish trio has toured Europe more or less constantly, only returning home to focus on this, their most ambitious project to date.

“This past year, we’ve been forced to deal with the shadow side of life. We turned feelings of loss, self-doubt and fear into a deeply personal record, finding hope and strength in the process. You hear a shift from darkness to light in these songs, picked from over 30 tracks we wrote. It’s our biggest work ever.” states Emil Bureau (guitar/vocals).

The Sonic Dawn recorded their new album in The Village, Denmark’s best analog studio, with producer Thomas Vang, coming directly from album sessions with Roger Waters.

While the album title and release date is yet to be announced, it is expected to hit record stores and online platforms in early 2019, followed by an extensive album tour. The Sonic Dawn will release their upcoming record world-wide on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

www.thesonicdawn.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/thesonicdawn
www.instagram.com/thesonicdawn
https://thesonicdawn.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night (2017)

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Brant Bjork, Tres Dias & Local Angel: Easing In

Posted in Reviews on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork tres dias

When Heavy Psych Sounds announced it had signed Brant Bjork, it was unquestionably good news. With California desert precedent success on the label from Nick Oliveri, Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson, it made sense that after Bjork wrapped the three-album deal with Napalm Records that resulted in 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) and 2017’s live album, Europe ’16 (review here), he too would sign on with the emergent Italian imprint. Even better was word that his back catalog from 1999 through 2010 would be reissued by his new label, digitally as well as physically on CD and limited vinyl. Bjork was maddeningly productive during those years, releasing under his own name as well as Brant Bjork and the Operators and Brant Bjork and the Bros, and as he was mostly self-releasing under the banners of Duna Records or Low Desert Punk Records, the albums often went overlooked by a wider audience.

Now, with several years of hard touring in Europe and the US behind him, the time only seems right to get these albums back out to a public that might’ve missed them the first time out. And it’s a fascinating choice to start with late-2006’s Tres Dias and 2004’s Local Angel (also discussed here) since they are, without a doubt, the two most intimate albums Bjork produced during that 11-year/nine-album stretch. In addition to this, both represented a marked shift in approach when they arrived. For Local Angel, it came after the initial few solo outings from the former Fu Manchu and Kyuss drummer, and was still often electric in its foundation, but even more mellow than 2003’s Keep Your Cool, its direct predecessor. It remains a quiet and melody-centered collection of 10 tracks that are less about aggression or even heft than about an easy vibe and sheer aural chill.

Likewise, Tres Dias, which actually begins the Heavy Psych Sounds series, is a mostly-acoustic solo record that landed smack in the middle of the Brant Bjork and the Bros era. The band debuted in 2005 with the double-CD Saved by Magic and would follow that up with 2007’s Somera Sól. Tres Dias departed from The Bros and though it features some older material and would share the songs “Love is Revolution,” “Chinarosa” and “The Native Tongue” with the subsequent offering, the sonic left turn in Tres Dias is immediately palpable. One recalls that when it was first released, Bjork noted the spirit he wanted to capture was taking his guitar to a park and playing under a tree to nobody in particular, just singing songs to enjoy them. That remains a striking image, and the album remains a snapshot of the idea made manifest.

With an anchor hook in the classic protest song “Love is Revolution,” the eight-song Tres Dias imagines a desert folk music that’s Bjork makes his own by putting his vocals at the center with his acoustic and adding flourish in electric wah atmosphere as heard on “Chinarosa.” It was a dark time politically when the songs were written — 2006 seemed to be an abyss of war that would never end; and hey! it didn’t — and in addition to “Love is Revolution,” “Video,” which originally appeared on Keep Your Cool as “Gonna Make the Scene” and even the opener, a revisit of “Too Many Chiefs” from Bjork‘s 1999 Man’s Ruin Records solo debut, Jalamanta (discussed herealso here), would seem to find a different social context for the revisit. The most elaborate arrangement would seem to be for “The Native Tongue,” which has subdued electric guitar and percussion, but it’s no less fluid than anything that surrounds and whether it’s the insistent strum of Saved by Magic‘s “The Messengers” or the riffy groove of “Right Time,” which would become the title-track of 2008’s Punk Rock GuiltTres Dias stripped away everything but the songwriting and performance and allowed Bjork‘s work to shine in a way it never had before.

Brant Bjork Local Angel

Would it exist without the precedent of Local Angel? I don’t know. I also don’t know if it’s the label or Bjork himself picking the order in which the reissues arrive in this series, but certainly with these two back-to-back, it’s easy enough to read the narrative of succession in reverse, though it’s just as likely Tres Dias into Local Angel is a way of easing into the more active material in Bjork‘s 1999-2010 discography. I won’t speculate as to the thought behind it. More importantly, the revisit of Local Angel, along with a marked redux of the artwork, once more highlights the man himself as a songwriter. “Beautiful Powers,” “Hippie,” “Chico” and “The Feelin'” make for a striking opening salvo with the even-funkier “Bliss Ave.” rounding out side A. While “plugged” and drummed, the tracks are subtle in their execution, bringing an organic sensibility that stands out to this day from everything else Bjork has done. Specifically in the context of these reissues, it can be read as a midpoint between other works and Tres Dias, but the truth is that Local Angel stands alone.

The original CD had bonus track covers of “Hey Joe” and The Ramones‘ “I Want You Around” that seem to have disappeared, but the smooth vibes continue on side B with “Fly to Haiti,” the Thin Lizzy-vibing “You’re Alright,” which is also arguably the most active cut on the album, the relatively minimal “Spanish Tiles,” “She’s Only Tryin'” which gives “You’re Alright” a run for its money, and closer “The Good Fight,” which more than earns the rhythmic handclaps in its second half. Even in its most uptempo or full-band-sounding material, Local Angel is gloriously understated. I’ve always found it to be one of Bjork‘s easiest listens and, frankly, have never stopped going back to it periodically in the 14 years since its release. I recognize that doesn’t exactly make me impartial when it comes to assessing the reissue, but if the point is to get these albums back out to people who might’ve missed them or not been around when they landed the first time, Local Angel has definitely more than earned at least that additional look.

One could say the same of Tres Dias and of the rest of Bjork‘s work during this period as well, and not to put too fine a point on it, but as other albums continue to resurface, “one” — me, particularly — probably will. The chance to revisit Brant Bjork‘s solo works is an opportunity not only to hear him shape his own sound, but to hear him help shape desert rock as well. I won’t discount his contributions to the style in Kyuss or anything else he’s done along the way, whether it’s Fu ManchuChéVista Chino, etc., but if you want to know how he got to be the godfather of desert rock that he is, it was this period when it happened, and these reissues are a chance for longtime and recent fans to give those moments their long-due appreciation.

Brant Bjork, Tres Dias (2006/2018)

Brant Bjork, Local Angel (2004/2018)

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