Posted in Reviews on September 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
After a lauded 7″ and much YouTube embedding leading to retro-rock hyperbole, the Britisher-than-thou trio Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell emerge with their cheekily-titled Rise Above (Metal Blade in the States) debut full-length, Don’t Hear it… Fear it!Flourishes of blown-out analog psychedelia persist, and their vintage aesthetique runs (mop-)top to (bell-)bottom, but whether it’s the motor-groove of “Mark of the Beast” or the brash fuzz of “The Last Run,” the Hastings threesome of Louis Comfort-Wiggett (bass/backing vocals), Bill Darlington (drums; also of Gorilla) and Johnny Gorilla (guitar/vocals; also of Gorilla) show there’s more to them than charm and fancy pants.
Liken the album to Atomic Rooster‘s proto-prog, Sir Lord Baltimore‘s ballsy brew or the MC5‘s nigh-on-stunted recklessness — you won’t be wrong; there’s room for all inDon’t Hear it… Fear It!‘s 54-minute course — what I find infinitely more fascinating is that Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell aren’t merely content to pretend that the 40 years between 1972 and now didn’t happen. “Red Admiral Black Sunrise” works in a Melvins-type guitar chug along with Johnny Gorilla‘s brash, almost arrogant, lead work. You can hear a bit of it underscoring the freakout in “iDeath” as well, and even the vocals take on a snotty post-Buzzo cadence in “Scratchin’ & Sniffin’,” so even if the trio’s predominant vibe is vinyl, there’s a bit of cassette tape in there as well.
Of particular note is Comfort-Wigget‘s stellar performance on bass, which makes for an excellent response to Gorilla‘s many shredding solos and renders the Sabbath-ian war pigsery of “Devil’s Island” all the more accurate. The record builds up some considerable momentum and never really relents in terms of pace, so while “The Last Run” and “Killer Kane” don’t bring anything new, they’re shorter than the earlier songs and the performances carry them, particularly in the case of “Killer Kane,” which comes four tracks after the “Killer Kane (Reprise).” Oh, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. So unpredictable!
They round out with seven minutes of quiet that give way to the potent stomp ‘n’ groove of “Bean Stew,” a Buffalo cover that makes their roots even plainer to see. Their name may be awkward (though historically accurate) and the hype around their album may be overblown, but there’s some meat to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell‘s Don’t Hear it… Fear it!that proves worthy of the suggestion that yeah, you should probably do the first part and actually listen to the damn thing. Whether or not you fear it afterwards depends I suppose on the natural levels of terror that classic heavy rock inspires in you.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
This kind of news is always welcome by me, and not just because The Obelisk is mentioned in the press release (though that never hurts). It’s great to see that a killer band like Grifter both have a new album in the works and are so clearly psyched about how it’s coming together. Writing and being happy with what you’re writing is one of the most exciting parts of being in a band, and I’m looking forward to what the UK trio put forth next time out.
Ripple Music sent the following word down the PR wire:
GRIFTER Gear Up for Extended Studio Time to Record Follow-up to Their Critically-Praised Ripple Music Debut
They stormed the stage at Deserfest. They laid wasted to the the ears and minds of the U.K. on tour with Orange Goblin. They created a crater sized hole where the stage used to be at Freak Valley. They were called to lend their brand of hard-rawking, Harley blooze n’ roll to the American television show, Dog, The Bounty Hunter.
Now the story continues.
Following up on a year that found Grifter releasing one of the best albums of 2011 (according to notable rock resources The Soda Shop. The Obelisk. The Ripple Effect. Heavy Planet. Chybucca Sounds, Steaming Heathen, and Sonic Abuse), U.K.’s own oil-and-chain sweat rockers are aiming to take their hard-hitting sound higher and farther than ever before.
In between times sharing the stage with Orange Goblin, Roadsaw, Black Pyramid, Leafhound, Truckfighters, Valiant Thorr, Gentlemans Pistols, Colour Haze, Stubb, and XII Boar (and having a song appear on a recent Stargun British Rock Compilation CD) Grifter have been making time in the studio writing and recording the eagerly anticipated follow-up to their chart-busting debut.
As main Grifter, Ollie tells it, “Writing for the album has resumed in a big way. In the space of one practice we have written a new song that has totally blown my balls off called Fire Water. It’s pretty epic, I think it could be a centrepiece of the new album. We also started jamming ideas for another new tune that should come together very quickly called Big Man Blues which is utterly filthy, you’ll need to take a shower afterwards!!! It’s heavy as hell but all done on slide with a gnarly blues vibe and a stomping beat that could raise John Bonham from the grave.”
That means Grifter will be delievering just what their legions of growing fans are yelling for: more gritty, dirty, and bloozy, hard-driving, riff-mad rock n’ roll!
While the anticipation builds, don’t forget to check out Grifter‘s one-foot-in-the-gutter debut for hard-rock specialty label, Ripple Music. And don’t forget that Grifter’s riff rock first appeared on the Ripple roster on the Heavy Ripples, Vol. 1 compilation with the band contributing two barnstorming, high-octane rock classics!
Comprised of brothers Kelley Juett (guitar/vocals) and KyleJuett (bass/vocals) along with drummer Judge Smith, the Dallas, Texas, trio Mothership self-released their self-titled debut back in June. The album (review here) was recorded by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump and puts Orange-amped fuzz to work in classic heavy homage, ballsing up the tone of Grand Funk boogie and winding it around scorching Sabbathian riffage.
It’s a formula for success in heavy rock, and while they may not be the first to employ it, I dug Mothership‘s Mothershipenough that I wanted to find out more about how the band came to be and where the brothers Juett got their love of rock and roll from. I had a sneaking suspicion it was their father — not an unreasonable assumption when you’ve got two brothers so clearly on the same page influence-wise in a band together — but it was great to get that confirmed from the Juetts themselves.
And in that, this is a little more than the usual six dumb questions, since after the answers came back from Kyle, I asked if he’d get a couple quotes from their dad as well. You’ll find John “Big J” Juett‘s quotes after the Q&A, which is below. Please enjoy.
1. Tell me about getting the band together. What was the timeline on bringing Judge Smith in on drums, and when were the songs for the self-titled written?
We (Kelley and Kyle) started Mothership back in 2010 after the breakup of our previous band. We literally took all of our shit from our old practice spot, drove to our dad’s house and began writing what became Mothership tunes that very same day. A blessing in disguise, if you ask me. We wrote for a few months together before asking our dad to start playing with us. We were tired of sitting around, not playing shows and more importantly looking for a drummer. Since our dad kicks some serious ass on the skins we figured what the hell let’s do it. We had a great time playing biker bars doing four-hour sets covering classic rock and blues songs (tons of B-side shit that really lit up the party), as well as playing original shows all over the state of Texas. We did a one-week tour with Gypsyhawk with our dad on drums – that’s pretty bitchin’ this day in time to have your dad out there jamming with you on the road.
I (Kyle) met Judge around the same time Mothership started in 2010 I would say, maybe a little earlier or later can’t really remember much that far back lol. We met in a bar in Lewisville, TX, shared a common interest in music. We got along, had some of the same friends, took shots, drank beers, had a damn good time every time we hung out. I always watched Judge play drums at this bar with multiple bands some original and some playing covers. He kicked ass every time I saw him play and I could really get a sense that he was hungry for something new.
The dude has an incredible amount of drive and dedication and that really stood out to me. We started heavily talking about Mothership I would say around October of last year during the baseball playoffs. We would go get drunk as piss yelling at TVs and talking about writing records, touring the world, etc., etc. I had some good talks with Kelley and even my dad about bringing Judge on board and they were both very excited to see where the next step would take us. Judge came out to many shows in the previous months leading up to his arrival in the band always very vocal about giving him a chance to show us what he’s got.
Judge joined the band in December 2011 I think our first show with him was January 2012 and we recorded the debut album a month later. We hit the ground kicking ass when Judge joined the band with very little downtime during the transition of drummers, we wrote a couple of songs on the record the first day we ever practiced with him.
As for the songs on the record, four of them were written with our dad on drums (“City Nights,” “Angel of Death,” “Eagle Soars,” and “Win or Lose”) and the other four songs (“Hallucination,” “Cosmic Rain,” “Elenin,” and “Lunar Master”) were written with Judge. “Lunar Master,” the last track on the album, was written in the studio with help from everyone on board including help from Kent Stump, who recorded the album. He came up with some killer vocal arrangement ideas. That was an awesome experience to only have music written for a song and watch it come to life in the studio in that moment, watching all the band members and engineer come together to help write lyrics and vocal melodies was a unifying experience.
2. Where does the family love of classic rock come from?
Our Dad, John “Big J” Juett, without a doubt. The man has boxes upon boxes of vinyl, shit that makes your jaw drop and shit that you have never heard of before but will damn sure make you an instant fan after one pass through. He has a wide variety of different types of music… Blues, classic rock, hard rock, metal, Southern rock you name it he’s either got it or had it.
Most all of the bands we know today come from knowledge that was passed down from him. There are a ton of newer bands coming out so it’s fun to show him new shit and kinda go back and forth. There really is a lot of good music coming out these days from all over there world. Mothership was started on the sole purpose of bringing back rock ‘n’ roll, and with the knowledge passed down from our pops we have come to understand a good amount of the history of where rock n roll began and the direction that it can go from here.
“The gleam of the Mothership in the distant galaxy promised a future to music and mankind alike. Without the intergalactic journey, the legacy of rock music dies.”
3. How was your time in the studio with Kent from Wo Fat? How long did it take to record the album and what was the atmosphere in the studio like?
Kent Stump is not only a talented musician and engineer but one of the nicest and easiest people to work with. An all around awesome dude with great visions, ideas, and really knows how to capture the sound that encompasses who you are as a band. We sent out about seven or eight emails to local producers in the area to see if anyone would show the slightest bit of interest in working with us. The email basically laid it all on the line and we got back a lot of one word responses. Kent however wrote back a two or three page email breaking down why he would be the best candidate, an entire gear list, his credentials, and more importantly why he wanted to take on this project.
We had played with Wo Fat two or three times before recording the album so Kent really had a solid idea of who were as a band, our tones, our energy, and overall direction of the album just from seeing us play live. He had everything mic’d and set up in record time on our first day of recording, the energy and vibes were laid back and very relaxed. Tons of laughing, drinking cold beer, and listening back to the tracks really loud in the playback room. He always gave great feedback and input on certain parts where he knew we needed a little direction. He even laid down a killer solo at the end of the album, just an all around awesome experience!
We practiced for multiple days in a row before entering the studio to capture that “on the road” live sound that we really got on this record. This record is us setting up our gear and playing live with each other in one room. No click tracks, no isolated individual tracks. We had very, very limited time to record this album and we knew we didn’t have a lot of time to fuck around. We recorded all the music in one weekend eight-hour days on a Friday and Saturday, and came back the following weekend to finish up vocals and mix the album. The album is alive and breathes from start to finish, a true journey of where we were that moment in time when you listen to it. We recorded all the music for each of the songs on one take except for “City Nights,” all the solos were recorded live as well.
For a debut record, we think people really get the idea of what we are trying to do and the direction we are headed in. That’s the point of a debut album: “Hey you don’t know who we are, but here is our first album and this is what we’re about. Turn that shit up and climb aboard.”
4. How was the Metroplex Heavy Fest for you guys? It looked like a great weekend. How was your set and what were some of the other highlights for you?
What an awesome weekend indeed, why can’t all weekends be like that? Where to begin… Two nights with 14 bands from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area playing heavy rock ‘n’ roll and loving what they do. So much fun to watch each band perform and show the crowd their brand of heavy rock. We got to see a few bands we had been hearing about but never seen play live, so that was really cool. We met a lot of awesome people that weekend including Pope John The Enforcer and Todd “Racer” from Ripple Music. They are two down-to-earth, dedicated men with out of this world visions that truly love what they do. Really looking forward to running into them again in the future. Jay Brockington put the whole damn thing together, many cheers to him for all the hard work and dedication that went into this thing going off without a hitch.
The crowd during our set was explosive, we were really channeling some awesome vibes coming in our direction. Those types of shows are always the most fun to play, you give us the energy we will bottle that shit up and blast it right back at you. Five or 5,000 people, we play the same show every night, but having a roaring crowd surrounding the stage is hands down one of the best feelings in the world. We brought Dave Sherman up to sing “Ace of Spades” with us on the last song of our set. We really didn’t know how it was gonna go over, we never practiced with Dave let alone met the dude and damn he nailed it! What an awesome way to end the set on a very special night.
The entire set was recorded, the entire fest was recorded so we look forward to taking a listen when it becomes available. Feels really great to have had the honor to share the stage with such kickass musicians in this area and to be a part of such a righteous festival event. Here’s to hoping there will be a round two next year!
5. What exactly does a music video party entail? You’re filming a video August 17, but you’re not the only band on the bill. Is the plan just to rage for a few hours, film it, and let the editor sort it out afterwards? What song will the video be for?
The plan for the music video came out of nowhere, really. One day we just decided, hey, let’s do a video. The album has been out a few months and so we figured why they hell not. This video is going to showcase who we really are and what we are all about in our hometown. We are doing a very basic video with only a few cameras showcasing our live show and our loyal fans right here in the heart of Dallas, TX, at one of the most legendary venues in this area, The Curtain Club. The perfect storm of a night to bust out the cameras and hit record.
We are gonna shoot as much video footage as possible and then have fun editing the footage and placing the audio track over it. The video will be for “City Nights,” the third track on our album, a party song geared towards bands living life on the road and a little of the lifestyle we all three lead in our daily lives here. Hopefully people will really get an honest taste of not only where we come from with this video, but hopefully get a sense of the resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll in this area that has been dormant for far too long.
6. What’s next for the band after the new video? Have you started writing yet for the follow-up to the self-titled, and do you have any idea yet what the next batch of material might sound like?
We are currently working on a good amount of new material for what may or may not be on the next album. We have really raised our level of playing in the past couple of months and have found a great sense of who we are and the sound that has become Mothership. We have an awesome unspoken fourth member of the band, Chris “Ohm” Galt, who is our sound man/engineer. He is currently coming out to all of our practices and recording all of our jams and ideas for new material. He’s our brother and we are very thankful to have him on board with us along this journey.
We take the CDs he makes after every practice home with us and really listen to what we like and don’t like and go from there. Being able to jam at practice and not force riffs down people’s throats in the band really eases the mood at practice and makes writing new material a lot of fun. We all have been in those bands where you have members say “play this, don’t play that,” learn how to jam and others will follow your lead when you have a good riff in mind. I’d say we have a very good mix currently of some heavy groove songs and some psychedelic/blues take you on a journey-type songs which is right in line with what we all love most. That happy balance of heaviness and soul mixed with a little dash of some Texas rock n roll.
John “Big J” Juett on playing drums with Mothership: This has been a very fulfilling experience for me. What started out as a way to spend time with my sons doing what we all enjoy—making or listening to music—turned out to be something much better that I had imagined. It is rare for parents to be able to actually participate in activities that your adult children participate in. I think it speaks to our family relationship, the mutual respect we have for the roles in each other’s life, the similar influences we have share, and the passion for music. For me, it is a late-life endeavor, a second chance to really prepare for something physically demanding, and be able execute live. I constantly play to their tracks, as well as thousands of others on my iPod, just to keep my chops up on a chance that we can find the time to jam, or even play live again in a different light. They are just so good, it’s a challenge to keep bringing it at their level. Once Judge came on board, we all agreed we would still try to find the time to family-jam and experiment with old classics live, just as we have done for last two years. But, the demand for their shows and the phenomenal writing they are doing just takes up all of their time. I’m in a more traditional parental role now of supporter, drum/road tech…and interim financier… ha ha.
John “Big J” Juetton his influences: I remember vividly the beginning of my love of music. I had many 45 singles from the psychedelic ‘60s as a kid. But in the late ‘60s, Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida came out, and closely thereafter, I bought Creedence’s Born on the Bayou, and Grand Funk Railroad’sLive album. I was lost in music from that point on. That was a whole different level, dude. Throughout the decades I have continued to follow major trends in music. As the original Mothership jam sessions began, my grooves from those early periods came through in my play, and I believe helped influence the sounds you hear today in the first Mothership tunes like “City Nights,” “Eagle Soars,” and “Win or Lose.” For a while in 2010 before band really formed, Kelley was living at home for a brief period, and every day after work, he and I honed our chops together, working up our takes on great classic tunes from Johnny Winter, Alvin Lee & Ten Years After, Steppenwolf, Freddie King, Skynard, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Travers, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Sabbath, Ted Nugent, etc. Those bands that were my early influences. Mothership now have about 25 tunes roughed out that my sons and I have performed regularly on extended sets, beyond the original material. Judge knows several more too. The music I love is the music they love… I really dig heavier music, Pantera, Hellyeah, Metallica too, but I’m gonna have to let Judge bring the Vinnie f’n Paul fury on those, haha… I’m just proud we have something in common to share with my sons and Judge, and to look forward to enjoying as we all grow older. Music is our common denominator! These are three very talented, dedicated guys, and great, great, respectful and considerate gentlemen, a character trait which my wife and I are also extremely proud of!
Posted in Reviews on August 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I rolled into Public Assembly like a wheelbarrow full of suck. It was Thursday, and I’d worked late as the fourth day of the kind of week where even when I was ahead of myself, I was still behind (so much so, you might say, that I’m writing and posting this review over the weekend). Morale was low. What I needed was a bit of rock and roll revival, and in that regard, I was lucky it was The Midnight Ghost Train I was on my way to see.
The Kansas rockers you might recall from their stint earlier this year opening for Truckfighters (reviews here and here). They’re out touring — as they do, all the time — in support of their new album, Buffalo(review here), doing a US run before heading to Europe this fall. Simply put, they rip live. I liked Buffaloa lot when I reviewed it, and I still dig that record however long it’s been later (I thought I had it or I’d have picked up a CD at the show — more the fool I), but I know from the four or five times I’ve seen them over the last four years or so that they’re an entirely different beast on stage. Public Assembly paired them with local outfits Reign of Zaius and Eidetic Seeing, the latter of whom was just getting ready to go on as I arrived.
Some bands you can just feel the heat off the their tubes as they play, and that was the case with Eidetic Seeing. I knew nothing about the band — I could’ve easily looked them up beforehand, but frankly, I like going into shows sometimes without knowing what I’m going to get — and was pleased to find them a warm-toned heavy psych jam unit. The three-piece were still pretty clearly getting their bearings sound-wise, but it could’ve been much worse. There were maybe 15 or 20 people there when they got going, but Eidetic Seeing may have had the biggest crowd of the night, and the young lady who stood several feet in front of the stage seemed to love it.
They were, however, too loud for the room — which, if you’re keeping track, I believe makes me too old for the room. I like Public Assembly‘s back room. I saw Windhand and Pilgrim there with Magic Circle a few months back and dug the space, the layout of the darkened room reminding me of any number of dingy spots in and around Manhattan where these kinds of shows have happened throughout the last decade — the difference being that Public Assembly hasn’t been forced out of business as so many others have by the onslaught of corporately-owned or sponsored venues and promotion companies. Lucinda Williams was playing down the block at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Obviously I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but at least on the surface, there seemed to be peaceful coexistence, and the bar between the two venues had live gypsy jazz, which, you know, is fucking awesome.
However, I only know about it because I went outside. Eidetic Seeing‘s wash of noise came through the Public Assembly P.A. as more abrasive than I think it wanted to be, so after several songs, I took my leave and took the air, chatting outside with The Midnight Ghost Train‘s guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss about how the shows were going, mutual acquaintances, and so forth. After a while, I decided to head back in, because I didn’t want to miss Reign of Zaius‘ start, and Eidetic Seeing were just finishing up. They had played a long set. I guess you can do that on a Thursday-is-the-new-Friday in Williamsburg, and they weren’t bad, just not really what I was looking for at the time — that being the aforementioned revival — so I won’t be surprised next time around when Eidetic Seeing and I run into each other and I have a deeper appreciation for what they’re doing.
One thing they had going for them, though, was their bassist. Please try to contain your surprise that I dug the bass tone in an underdeveloped heavy psych trio — something that’s definitely never happened before — but quality low end became a theme for the night. Reign of Zaius bassist Davis followed suit, playing through a fretless and being almost solely responsible for the thickness of his band’s sound. Not that something was lacking in the guitar of Brady, just that the band wasn’t geared on the whole to fuzz or showy about their distortion. They played relatively simple, straightforward heavy-type rock, however, called their frontman Viking and had an impressive, somewhat showy, drummer in the younger Brian.
Like Eidetic Seeing, it seemed watching Reign of Zaius that the band was still working out the kinks in their dynamic. There were a couple noticeable flubs, but nothing major, and overall their songs were inoffensive. The room as uncrowded as it was, it wasn’t going to be anyone’s best night, and as I pointed out in the very first sentence of this review, it wasn’t mine either. Nonetheless, cuts from their self-titled EP like “Cravings,” “White Horse” and “Revelation” gave a decent idea of the lack of pretense in their intent, and “Thick Thighs” had its own kind of charm. No shortage of it. Any band that lists Black Sabbath and the 1988 “Rowdy” Roddy Piper classic They Live among their influences is doing something right, and Reign of Zaius clearly were.
My spirits had picked up some by the time The Midnight Ghost Train had their gear set up. Since the last time they came through, the Topeka outfit jettisoned bassist David Kimmell, leaving Moss and drummer Brandon Burghart — who wore a Truckfighters shirt for their set — to search out a replacement. Before they went on, Moss told me they’d only been playing with Alfred Jordan, from Mississippi, for a few weeks, but watching them on stage, they were still easily the tightest band of the three that played, and Jordan‘s presence on stage, his dreadlocks tossed in several directions at once with each headbang, made a fitting complement for the already established dynamic between Moss and Burghart.
Moss introduced the band in his usual throaty affect, saying, “We’re The motherfucking Midnight Ghost Train from motherfucking Kansas,” pausing for a sip of water before adding, “That’s right, Kansas. Yes, we can read.” The Brooklyn crowd got a laugh out of that, and while I can’t imagine what talking like that with the kind of regularity Moss does so must do to your throat — if you’ve never seen them, think of any number of grizzled 85-year-old Delta blues players, then make it fast, and that’s kind of how Moss talks when he’s on stage — it’s clearly had no effect on his energy level over the course of the time he’s been doing it. The Midnight Ghost Train remain one of the most undervalued quality live acts in their genre, and at Public Assembly, they made a solid case for revisiting Buffalo.
The height of the stage at Public Assembly provides a little distance, and watching them closely, it’s pretty easy to discern the common patterning of The Midnight Ghost Train‘s riffing. They rely a lot on upbeat progressions, cycling through a riff, finishing it with a couple hits, then cycling through again, but what makes it exciting to watch live or to listen to on the album is that you don’t at any point know what they’re going to do with it, and they don’t always do the same thing. They are masters of the sudden stop. Burghart will mute his cymbals, Moss and Jordan will cut the strings, and even if it’s just half a second of silence, the raucousness that ensues following is that much stronger for the pause. Top that with Moss‘ hand-in-the-air raving testimonial vocal delivery, and Buffalotracks like “Henry” and “Foxhole” wind up as exciting to watch as they are to hear.
Still, it was the slower “Tom’s Trip” that was the highlight of their set. Burghart played without a rack tom — his kit just the snare and bass drums and a floor tom, crash, ride and hi-hat — and that got me thinking about the balance for a drummer between stripping things down to force more creative play and oversimplifying. It’s easy for a drummer, provided he or she can afford it, to adorn a kit with extra toms, cowbells, wood blocks, china cymbals and the rest, but Burghart‘s minimal drumset worked to both his interests and those of the songs, and the play from the snare on his left to the floor tom on his right was a big part of what made “Tom’s Trip” so much fun. The song also reaffirmed that as bombastic and vibrant as The Midnight Ghost Train are on any given night, they’re also readily capable of locking in a stoner rock groove and letting it ride where and when they want it to.
All that feeds into the notion of their unpredictability, which is one of their strongest assets. They have a set context for themselves, but within that, you can never be quite sure where they’re headed. Shouts rose up when they finished for one more song, so they encored with “Southern Belle,” Moss rounding out the set by asking how much he should make it hurt, and then they were quickly done. With work in the morning and the drive back to Jersey ahead, I said a quick thanks and goodnight and split out back to my car, not knowing I’d spend the better part of the next hour in Holland Tunnel traffic.
And I won’t lie to you, there was a moment when — stuck in the tunnel after 1AM, having not moved for 10 minutes because of something no one could see or understand, as discordant chorus of car horns and New York-accented shouts rose up all around me — I really thought I was going to die there in that spot. There was a strange sub-harmony to the horns, and their futility — no one even knew what they were honking at — gave the anger driving them a melancholy edge. Sad, hopeless assholes, stuck in a tunnel together. No doubt after 12 hours, the weak among us would’ve been dismembered and eaten; my own flesh stripped off and cured, like bacon, for breakfast around what for the rest of the world would’ve been sunrise. No sunrise for tunnelfolk.
I barely escaped with my hide, and eventually got through to Jersey and back to my humble river valley, the driving rhythms of “Foxhole” still stuck in my head, where they remain. The Midnight Ghost Train were off the next day, and at The Station in Philly the night after (which is Saturday, tonight). All their tour dates domestic and abroad can be found on their website — they put them right out front. If the point hasn’t been made clear, they’re a highly recommended good time, and bound to improve whatever mood you might be in when you first show up.
This one was too cool not to post. Topeka, Kansas, heavy as hell trio The Midnight Ghost Train are once again hitting the road in support of their new album, Buffalo(review here). To promote their Aug. 9 Brooklyn gig with Reign of Zaius and Eidetic Seeing, the band has silkscreened posters onto the backs of PBR boxes. Even as someone who doesn’t drink the beer, I think that’s pretty clever. Click to enlarge:
Check out the full list of The Midnight Ghost Train tour dates (including European shows this fall) at their website.
Posted in audiObelisk on July 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fresh off a three-week tour that ended in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 6, ever-progressing Massachusetts trio Elder — guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto — have already released the follow-up to the sophomore outing they were out supporting. A limited 12″ vinyl (450 copies), Spires Burn/Releasebuilds on the heavy psych intricacies of Dead Roots Stirringwhile keeping the crucial heaviness that has run a thread through Elder‘s work since their 2008 self-titled MeteorCity debut.
Spires Burn/Releaseis the first vinyl to be issued on the new label imprint of Armageddon Shop, which has physical stores in Boston and Providence (I’ve been there a couple times). The move into releasing music aligns Armageddon with the original label tradition — the first record labels were stores that wanted to sell music from artists around them; this is how the distribution model as we know it came about — and as Elder follow a similar aesthetic imprint of looking back for inspiration in their forward thinking, it’s all the more fitting that the two should join forces on this 12″. And at a full 22 minutes with a song per side, it’s not exactly a quiet entry into the market.
Both tracks on the offering, “Spires Burn” and “Release” have a clear path set out, but like with Dead Roots Stirring, Elder do well to obscure their linear structures with flourishes of elements from modern heavy psychedelia. Very quickly, the trio is becoming something that no other American band can quite claim to be, and as acoustics blend into the finishing moments of “Release,” the will for exploration and sonic expansion — not necessarily a surprise at this point in their career, especially after the last album — is nonetheless plain to hear. If they were to embark on a new era of krautrock-fueled progressive heaviness without losing sight of the groove at the base of their rhythms, well, I think that would be just fine.
Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting Spires Burn/Releasein its entirety for an exclusive stream. You’ll find both tracks on the player below, followed by some info on how to obtain the vinyl from Armageddon Shop even if you’re not in the Northeast and a few thoughts from DiSalvo on how it all came out. As always, I hope you enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Spires Burn/Release is, in my opinion, one step closer to our own sound we’ve been cultivating since Dead Roots Stirring. It’s both more “traditionally” heavy at parts and more experimental in ways, incorporating our personal influences of everything from krautrock to doom. Lyrically, the songs take a turn for the darker from DRS as well, and I think the variety of moods conveyed in the songs makes this our most dynamic release to date. — Nick DiSalvo
Elder‘s Spires Burn/Releaseis available now from Armageddon Shop at their online store. The striking cover art (click image above to enlarge) is by Fred Struckholz. Thanks to the band and label for letting me stream the songs.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Congratulations and respect to Indianapolis doom rockers Devil to Pay. Ripple Music announced this morning that it had signed on to release the fourth album from the four-piece, which will follow 2009′s Heavily Ever After. The band will be coming east to take part in this year’s Stoner Hands of Doom fest in Connecticut over Labor Day weekend (more info here), and I look forward to hearing some new material.
Until then, here’s the news:
Ripple Music is proud to announce the signing of acclaimed, hard-hitting American doom rockers, Devil to Pay to their ever-expanding roster!
The band’s fourth, as of yet untitled, album is set for worldwide release on Ripple Music in the coming months and the band will subsequently tour to knock the crowds out of their skulls, including appearances in all the major heavy rock/doom festivals.
Devil to Pay commented yesterday upon the new alliance; “We are stoked to be a part of the Ripple family and to work with one of the most genuine heavy rock labels in the world! Having released our first three albums independently, it’s clear that these guys don’t compromise in terms of putting out creative music and are the true believers of heavy rock. The variety of bands and the sheer quality of music they’ve released speaks for itself. We are very much honored that our music earned its place among their ranks!”
Devil to Pay was formed in the beginning of the millennia as a doom rock band with metal/stoner and rock tangents, effortlessly crushing skulls while simultaneously coaxing them to sing along. The band hails the almighty riff, but unlike many of their contemporaries, the song is still king. That is what separates the great bands from the shoulda/coulda bands. Now celebrating their 10 year anniversary, Devil to Pay has aged like Kentucky bourbon, distilling a culmination of years of sweat, highway miles, cigarette smoke and hangovers into crushing compositions and bone-jarring, heavy musical moments.
With a catalog of underground releases, Devil to Pay gained accolades, awards and a hard earned cult-like status. They have established themselves as the go-to band for those searching out more than just a few killer riffs; a foundation of heavy that will flourish under the Ripple banner.
Posted in audiObelisk on July 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
When guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed (middle above) emailed me last week to ask me if I’d be interested in streaming and hosting a free download of Mos Generator covering the Nirvana rarity “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die,” it was with his usual bullshit-free manner. To paraphrase, “You wanna do this thing?” And yes, yes I did. The recently-reviewed reissue of the first Mos record still gets plenty of spins out by me, and with the band fresh on the brain as much as anything ever is, I thought it was a great idea. And here we are.
This fall, as you can read below in the PR wire info, Mos Generator will release their first album of new studio material since 2007, and if five years doesn’t seem like a long time — there are bands who take that long just on a whim — put it to the scale of Reed‘s prolific output with StoneAxe and the picture of Mos Generator‘s inactivity becomes much clearer. Together with bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson, Reed returns Mos Generator to its priority position in 2012 amid exciting prospects and refreshed creativity.
Originally recorded for a tribute album that was never released, “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die” can be streamed on the player below and downloaded by clicking the link that follows. Please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Thanks as always to Reed for letting me host the stream and download, and to Ripple Music, who will release the new Mos Generator album in the fall and who sent over the following notice:
For five years, fans of Mos Generator have been waiting for an album of new material, and in Fall of 2012, the wait will finally be over! TonyReed has been meticulously turning knobs and fine-tuning the audio aspects of the latest, to-be-named MosGenerator record, making everything sound just right.
But five years has been a long time to wait, and three more months almost feels like a lifetime, so the benevolent souls of MosGenerator are offering up a free download of song that has never been made available before!
“I Hate Myself And I Want To Die” is a Nirvana song that was originally released in 1993 on the Beavis and Butt-Head Experience compilation and the B-side of the “Pennyroyal Tea” single, and it gets the ultimate Mos Generator treatment! This Mos version was originally recorded in 2008 for a Nirvana tribute album that never came out, so now — download, enjoy, and stay tuned for upcoming information on the new Mos Generator album!
Posted in 70 RPMs on July 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
In his third column for the site, Roadsaw bassist Tim Catz takes a look at a few of the “Evil Women” from classic rock’s days of yore. From ELO to Black Sabbath, there never seems to be a shortage of witchy ladies to serve as muse. Please enjoy:
Tim Catz’ 70 RPMs
It is a premise so old and familiar it’s hardly worth mentioning. But for the purposes of this article I’ll explain: The idea is women are evil. They have been since the dawn of time. And the badder they are, the more inspiring they are those who honor them in song, story and art. Just ask Adam about Eve. Shakespeare had Macbeth. Greek mythology had Pandora. And rock ‘n’ roll in the ‘70s had scores of hit records about them.
Probably the most popular was Electric Light Orchestra‘s “Evil Woman.” Taken from their 1975 album Face the Music, it was the band’s first Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. With its sing-song chorus and crazy phasor string breaks, “Evil Woman” very succinctly packed every ELO pop-rock trademark neatly into a four-minute spoonful of pure FM sugar that still gets ample play to this day on “classic hits” radio.
Crow‘s “Evil Woman (Don’t Play Your Games with Me)” may have shared the same name, but not the same music, nor the same popularity. Driven by a muscular bluesy rhythm section, the Minneapolis quartet was quite surprised to find an “enhanced” version of their original “Evil Woman” on their Columbia Records debut. Whether against their wishes or even unbeknownst to Crow members, label bigwigs conspired with the studio engineer and overdubbed a full horn section over the song in an effort to cash in on the wildly popular Chicago/Blood Sweat and Tears sound of the day. And it worked. Crow‘s “Evil Woman” was a Top 20 hit, peaking at #19.
My personal favorite is Spooky Tooth‘s version. Deep on side one of Spooky Two, their nine-minute version of Larry Weiss‘ much covered original finds frontman Gary Wright in prime form, with his ragged voice switching between a pleading growl to high-pitched accusations, all while smashing on organ keys. The entire record resonates with a loose rough ‘n’ ready sound, which is nowhere more evident than on this track. Of course Gary Wright would soon leave the Tooth of Spook and smooth out much of his rough edge in a bid for the Pop charts. “Dream Weaver” and “My Love Is Alive” are evidence of such.
Whether its “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles or “Devil Woman” by Cliff Richards, one thing remains certain even to this day: Bad girls are good for rock ‘n’ roll.
* Black Sabbath recorded a version of Crow‘s “Evil Woman” and released it as their first single. Though it didn’t appear on their Warner Bros. debut in the US, it was on the UK version.
* Before everyone sends terse emails my way, yes, I know both Spooky Tooth and Crow released their versions in 1969. That’s close enough for me…