High Brian Premiere “Cpt. Zepp” Video; Brian Air out March 16

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high brian

The thing about High Brian is there’s no Brian. Brian’s made up. He doesn’t exist. I’m mean, I’m sure he exists somewhere — dudes named Brian abound! — just not in High Brian. The Austro-German-Swedish four-piece are set to release their second album, Brian Air, through StoneFree Records on March 16 as the follow-up to 2017’s Hi Brain (review here) — note that’s “Brain” not “Brian” — and guess what? There’s no airline either.

All the same, High Brian fly some pretty friendly skies with Brian Air, the album’s eight component tracks purposefully tapping into classic post-Beatles psychedelic bounce even as they play through the concept/theme of an outbound flight. The opener, “Welcome to Brian Air,” is an introduction from Captain Zepp himself, and though there isn’t a destination named, the shimmering guitar and airborne drift that follows in “Ikarus” is enough to get the point across. It’s a journey being undertaken. A quick 41-minute flight to who knows where, and as High Brian tip the wing toward krautrock and heavier progressive vibes, there’s little to no actual turbulence to be found on the route, even as “Sth. Odd” engages full-on boogie and the seven-and-a-half-minute side Ahigh brian brian air closer “Frightening Lightning” starts with another message from the good Captain warning of roughness ahead.

“Cpt. Zepp” gives him his own feature moment, and if ‘Brian’ is their Sgt. Pepper, maybe “Cpt. Zepp” is more akin to Col. Mustard. Either way, the track arrives to to start side B after the slowed-down Hawkwindian harmonies of “Frightening Lightning” have subsided, and move from a little bit of rounded-edge Iron Maiden — only appropriate, since we’re talking about a pilot — into a break of smoother, floating guitar and easy rhythmic swing. The fistpump chug comes back, providing symmetry, and if the title “Cpt. Zepp” wasn’t enough Led Zeppelin nod for you, surely the Robert Plant-style “Oooh, baby, baby, babe” that ends that song and feeds directly into “Uhh Baby” will drive the point home. A surprising bit of surf rock actually shows up late in the guitar for “Uhh Baby,” but just when High Brian seem to have gotten off track from their stated theme, the fuzzy “Slow Flight” brings them back to ground — or, you know, not — ahead of 7:36 closer “Strangest Kraut (Brian Air),” which shuffles through its opening into a sax-laced midsection and a seats-and-tray-tables-upright final message from the captain before dual-layers of guitar lead finish “Brian Air” with a last bit of vocal harmony. I kept waiting for the equivalent of “Her Majesty,” but alas.

I’m a perennial sucker for charm, and a video that’s also instructions for making paper airplanes given by one of the band members in stewardess drag, to coincide with a concept album based around flying — well yeah, that qualifies. Plus, in the “Cpt. Zepp” video, it’s a really complex paper airplane being made, so if you’re thinking about trying along with the clip you’ll probably have to watch it through a couple times and pause it along the way. That might not be best for hearing the song, so make sure you do that too. And don’t try to bring a water bottle.

Liftoff:

High Brian, “Cpt. Zepp” official video premiere

“Brian Air” by High Brian is out on March 16th via StoneFree Records.

“Writing an inspired concept album” usually ranks pretty high on a Rock musician’s bucket list. And how could it not? Records like The Who’s “Tommy” or Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” catapulted their creators into the stratospheres of music superstardom. Their creation processes, however, usually involved rather grounding experiences. “Brian Air”, High Brian’s follow-up to 2016’s “Hi Brain”, is no exception: The band ingested near-lethal doses of jet fuel, slaved away under inhumane working conditions to pay for studio fees, and was fired and re-hired by fictional band member Brian.

The end result, however, invites you on board for a very merry ride on the fuzz-plane. Formed in the autumn of 2013, the band’s members hail from Stockholm (Sweden), Hamburg (Germany), Graz, and Linz (Austria). One might be tempted to attribute the different influences that make up “Brian Air” to this amalgamation of backgrounds, but when it comes to High Brian, any conventional reasoning just won’t do. After all, the record feels like a well-crafted, dirty inside joke between the band and the audience.

Their third publication comes along much more progressive and varied than its predecessor, which the band ascribes to working on their airworthiness and swapping their mothers’ basements for an actual studio: “Boarding our previous album ‘Hi Brain’ doesn’t exactly make you feel like you’re taking to the skies, so we practiced like crazy and developed a healthy appetite for Kraut in the process.”

And it shows: If you pay a close listen to the band’s tongue-in-cheek vocal stylings and tasty bass lines, the self-described “heavy-trippy-krauty-quirky sound mix“ will press your body into the seat and make your ears pop with the spirit of psychedelic Rock. “We want people to choose our album over some seats on a cheap flight. After all, ‘Brian Air’ has a lot more legroom!“

TRACK LIST:
1. Welcome To Brian Air
2. Ikarus
3. Sth. Odd
4. Frightening Lightning
5. Cpt. Zepp
6. Uhh Baby
7. Slow Flight
8. Strangest Kraut (Brian Air)

High Brian is:
Benedikt Brands (Guitar, Vocals)
Nils Meyer-Kahlen (Guitar)
Patrick Windischbauer (Bass, Vocals)
Paul Berghold (Drums)

High Brian website

High Brian on Instagram

High Brian on Thee Facebooks

Stone Free Records website

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

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Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks abound throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

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If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

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Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

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The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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