Review & Full Album Premiere: Clamfight, III

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

clamfight iii

[Click play above to stream Clamfight’s III in its entirety. Album is out Jan. 19 on Argonauta Records.]

I’d like to say a few words about Clamfight. As bands go, the South Jersey/Philadelphia four-piece are probably the group of musicians I’ve been closest to personally and known the longest in my life. They are, to a man, beyond quality individuals and I think of myself lucky to call them friends. When I was in a band, we played shows together. Their last album, early 2013’s I vs. the Glacier (discussed here), was released via what was then this site’s in-house label, The Maple Forum, and their prior outing, 2010’s Volume I (review here), remains a sentimental joy for me to hear to a degree that’s probably ridiculous considering I had nothing to do with the actual writing of the songs. In terms of album reviews, impartiality is a myth generally, but perhaps never less so than when I’m talking about Clamfight. I don’t think I could not love them if I tried, and to be quite honest, I have no interest in trying.

Between live sets, demos, studio updates from Gradwell House where they recorded with producer/engineer Steve Poponi, rough mixes, unmastered tracks and so on, I’ve likely heard Clamfight III in every stage of its making. That’s not me bragging like I’m Mr. Super-Insider or anything. I’m just trying to give context to the fact that when I put on the finished product of Clamfight‘s Argonauta Records debut and listen to its five-track/44-minute entirety — the thing: done — I remain blown away each time by its level of accomplishment. It’s not that I thought drummer/vocalist Andy Martin, guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris and bassist Louis Koble didn’t have it in them to do what they do in these tracks; it’s that it would have been unfair to expect a work so progressive to come from a band whose primary drive has always been their intensity.

Although, and of this one can rest duly assured, that intensity remains well intact — as one can certainly hear in the post-Leviathan crashes and shouts of “Selkie” and sundry moments of heads-down chugging and/or righteous bellows such as the beginning of centerpiece “Echoes in Stone” throughout — it’s simply being used as part of an approach that’s grown in new, exciting and dynamic ways. Anchored by its extended opener “Whale Road” (11:14) and closer “History of the Earls of Orkney,” Clamfight III finds its conceptual or at very least lyrically-thematic framing in ongoing archaeological work in Scotland by a team that includes Martin and benefits greatly from this purposefulness of its expression, as it brings solid footing beneath the expansive and progressive structures in the songwriting, which is very much driven by McKee‘s lead guitar.

That element is given more space to flesh out than it’s ever had in Clamfight before, and McKee‘s performance lives up to its spotlight, but groove very much remains central to the band, and while the thudding tom runs under speak immediately to something bound in the earth, it’s the airy intro guitar lines of “Whale Road” that signal Clamfight III‘s defining ambitiousness, not to mention the patience with which they build toward the first verse over the opener’s initial two-plus minutes. Roaring and bombast ensue, to be sure, but as Harris and Koble lock in the core rhythm, it leaves Martin free to explore a range of vocal styles only previously hinted at in their recorded output and McKee to follow suit in showcasing greater reach in the style and substance of his craft. It is telling that of the five tracks, only “History of the Earls of Orkney” and the penultimate “Eynhallow” don’t end with a guitar solo — and “Eynhallow” is a five-minute, mostly-guitar instrumental lead-in for the finale. More often than not, McKee gets the last word.

clamfight photo useless rebel

Nonetheless, it would be inappropriate to think of Clamfight III simply as a showcase for McKee or any other single member. Rather, it is a whole album, and a whole group work. This is underscored as “History of the Earls of Orkney” answers the intro of “Whale Road” with its own leadoff airy meandering as much as in the stomp that emerges in “Selkie” earlier. And not only are Clamfight reaching within to find and manifest aspects of their sound in ways they never have before, they’re also reaching outside themselves, as shown by the guest appearances from Kings Destroy guitarist Chris Skowronski on “Whale Road,” ex-Wizard Eye/current-Thunderbird Divine guitarist/vocalist Erik Caplan, who lends theremin to that opener and “Echoes in Stone,” and vocals from Shroud Eater bassist Janette Valentine and guitarist Jean Saiz on the same song. The latter performances are of course standouts, bringing both melody and further shouting harshness in tow, and after a due throttling from the finish of “Selkie” beforehand and the rolling, growling start of the “Echoes in Stone” itself, their arrival serves to add variety and an unexpected twist to what becomes a crucial moment on the record.

In a way, it’s a shame she couldn’t return even for a few lines on “History of the Earls of Orkney,” as it would allow the closer to truly summarize the breadth of the album’s entirety, but after the subdued contemplation in “Eynhallow,” it’s clear the gears have shifted, and even without that flourish of added symmetry, Clamfight III‘s finishing move serves as a singular moment of triumph for the band. In its sprawl, they not only reaffirm the progressive achievements of the songs before, but continue to build on them. The push forward at the midpoint seems to speak to the ethic of the track as a whole, and the tumult that ensues is underpinned by a control that only makes it more enthralling — the four members of Clamfight all charging in the same direction, straight ahead through two solo sections toward an adrenaline-drenched ending that’s snap-tight and a brutally-earned, cut-cold payoff, as sharp as it is bludgeoning.

Look. I love this band, and I don’t mind telling you that. If that means you need to take this review with the proverbial grain of salt, cool. I don’t really care. The fact remains that when I listen to Clamfight III, I’m proud as hell and deeply appreciative that I even know these guys at all, and whether you ever heard I vs. the Glacier or Volume I or not, it doesn’t matter, because what they’ve done here has thoroughly put them on a new level of execution. It is a special moment of arrival for them as a unit, when a maturity of craft has so clearly taken hold — one that means at very least they’ve outgrown their moniker if they hadn’t before — amid the pummel that’s always been their fuel, and when a resulting effort can strike as much with its scope as its brute force. Even putting aside as much as I possibly can the high esteem in which I hold them as people, I consider myself lucky every time I put this album on, and I plan to put it on for a long time to come. If you don’t, it’s your loss.

Clamfight on Thee Facebooks

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Clamfight on Instagram

Clamfight on Bandcamp

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Six Dumb Questions with Weedpecker (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Six Dumb Questions on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

weedpecker

Today, Jan. 5, marks the official release date of Polish heavy psych rockers Weedpecker‘s awaited third album, III. Also their debut outing through respected purveyor Stickman Records, its tracks have been floating around the interwebs for the better part of the last several months in one form or another, and the whole thing might well have been on YouTube already, I don’t really know, but if you click play below, you can stream it in full courtesy of the band and label, and whether it’s your first time hearing it or not, it’s one I’m thrilled to be able to feature for the wide-spreading wash it enacts and the inviting warmth with which it greets its audience.

Comprised now of founding brothers/guitarists/vocalists Piotr Wyroslaw “Wyro” Dobry and Bartek “Bando” Dobry, bassist Grzegorz “Mroku” Pawlowski, who joined in time for the release of II (review here) and drummer Pan Falon, the Warsaw-based troupe have held firm to a creatively progressive course since their self-titledweedpecker iii debut (review here) surfaced in 2013, but with III, their approach reaches new levels of patience and fluidity. Across the first two of the five inclusions, “Molecule” and “Embrace,” they employ dream-toned otherworldliness wielded with stonerly fascination and exploratory aplomb. Layers are rich but spread wide, allowing the listener to breathe easy as they make their way through toward the cyclonic churn that, prefaced in the second half of “Molecule,” takes fuller hold with album centerpiece “Liquid Sky” and the early going of the subsequent “From Mars to Mercury,” shades of latter-day Elder‘s lush melodies showing themselves amidst the swirl of fuzz and echo.

The full-length rounds out with the nigh-Beatlesian harmonies of “Lazy Boy and the Temple of Wonders,” a stretch of just under nine minutes that builds in linear fashion to a smoothly-executed apex pulled off with class and confidence alike, first swelling in the midsection before drawing back to highlight the Pawlowski‘s bassline as the Dobry brothers weave lines of guitar and (maybe?) Mellotron together for a serenity that thrusts forward circa 5:45 to begin to provide III with its well-earned final payoff. This, naturally, is no less fluid than anything that’s come before it, and III on the whole reveals itself to be a molten joy of heavy psych that finds Weedpecker more come into their own sonic persona than they’ve ever been.

Accordingly, and with the album out today, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to hit the Dobrys up with a few questions about the making of III and their sense of where Weedpecker are coming from generally and where they might be headed. You’ll find the results of that Q&A after the album player immediately following here.

Please enjoy the following stream and Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions with Weedpecker

Tell me about writing III. When did the process start? Was there anything in particular you were looking to accomplish coming off of the last album and going into this one?

Piotr Dobry: We started writing the material for III right after we finished recording II. To be honest, I don’t quiet remember how it went. We were just working hard on upgrading the sound and compositions comparing to II. The experiences we earned from previous records are very precious, we wanted to use them to make the best possible album.

Bartek Dobry: I remember that I was really happy with the sound of II when we left the studio, but later on I started to notice that I don’t like it to be honest. The compositions and the sound. They seemed to be flat and boring. We really wanted not to repeat mistakes we did during the last studio session. I think it turned out okay but still I see lots of things that we can work on in the future.

How do Weedpecker songs take shape? A track like “Embrace” seems to have a lot of interwoven parts – how do they come together for you guys generally? Has this process changed at all over the course of your three albums?

PD: It depends, the whole material is written by me and Bartek, we bring patterns to the rehearsals and then we try to make songs out of them. Sometimes it takes very long for us to finish the song. Like the song is almost done but it needs one or two more patterns which just can’t come to your head, and then you wait even couple of months till you find what you were looking for. After finishing such a song we want to do something spontaneous and just jam something out.

BD: The process definitely changed, we started to put more attention on what patterns are getting in the songs. The selection was really raw. We probably had to give up riffs that could make another LP but they weren’t good enough. Also I’ve never recorded music in home just to register riffs and to work on them, which I did during working on III. It really makes a good work.

What was your time in the studio like for III? How long were you recording? What was the vibe like? Did you have any specific goals for the sound and, if so, what were some of the challenges along the way in making them happen?

PD: We recorded it in freshly built studio of Tides From Nebula fellas. Haldor of Satanic Audio was our recording guy just like on II. We’ve spent very intense week there, we’ve been recording for 12 hours a day and sometimes even more. We’ve smoked literally ton of weed during the session. It was pure pleasure. I love to record and it gives me lots of joy when I hear particular tracks being combined and slowly becoming a song on which we were working for two years. We knew exactly what kind of gear (guitars, amps and the whole rest) we wanted to use on this record. We bought some and some we borrowed from our good friends. On II we didn’t put as much effort.

BD: Special thanks to Cheesy Dude for being our backup sound guy for one night!

How did signing to Stickman come about? The label seems to have such distinctive taste. What does it mean to you to have them backing your record?

PD: It means a lot to us! Personally I love many records published by this label and I was really happy when we got the proposition. Good friend of ours, Nick DiSalvo came to the gig in Berlin, and he said that he’d like to show the material to Rolf [Gustavus], owner of the label. After something about a week we got an official proposition from Stickman.

How do you feel that Weedpecker has grown generally since the first album? Is that something you think about and try to purposefully make happen, or do you just prefer to let the songs take shape as they will and see what comes out? How much of your progression is intentional?

PD: Of course we care about the continuous growth of the band. We want every each album to sound better than the previous one. That means we have to work harder and invest more money each time. Still it gives us lots of pleasure and satisfaction. On each rehearsal we smoke blunts together, play, and talk about stuff.

BD: The progression is partly intentional. As we play more and have more experience with composing and stuff we begin to have more expectations about our music. I want songs to be more complicated and melodic. But still the most important is just to have fun out of playing. If we play the riff and we really feel it during the rehearsal than propably it’s good. Or perhaps it’s shit and we were too high while playing it. You never know.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

PD: Right after releasing III we go on the small tour around the Germany and Poland, and then we will see.

BD: Peace and love brothers and sisters!

Weedpecker on Thee Facebooks

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Stickman Records website

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Naxatras Set Feb. 16 Release for III; Teaser Clip Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Naxatras have announced a Feb. 16 release date for their new album, III, and I could be wrong — it’s certainly happened once or twice before — but I get the feeling I’m not the only one who’s going to be particularly interested to hear from Greek heavy psych trio have come up with for it. The Thessaloniki-based three-piece would seem to have put themselves in a perfect position to make a splash across the greater European underground even more than they already have, and this could well be the outing that takes them from “upstarts” to “forerunners” in terms of their impact.

To wit, their 2015 self-titled debut (discussed here) won ears, hearts and minds with its ultra-organic approach, lightly-funked approach to what might be space rock were it not so wonderfully earthy, and subsequent outings in 2016, the shorter EP (discussed here) and the full-length II (review here) affirmed not only a commitment to and expertise with analog recording methods, but also that the character and chemistry that seemed so resonant in their first outing was no fluke.

They’ve toured pretty hard since putting out that second long-player, so as we prepare for the third, I can’t help but wonder in what ways the band will step forward with III. Any huge changes in arrangement flourish seem like a lot to ask from a group who keeps their focus so attuned to recording and playing live as a guitar, bass and drums trio, but one never knows. The minute-long teaser clip they posted via the social medias does pretty well in piquing my interest in the sound of the record overall, so I guess mission accomplished there, and hopefully there will be more to come to let us know where Naxatras are at before the album actually arrives. Until then, anticipation and whatnot.

Their post about it was short and sweet:

naxatras photo marko devcic

X-Mas Special!
Naxatras “III” will be released the 16th of February (mark the day)!
Recorded on reel-to-reel tape at Magnetic Fidelity!
This will be a 7-track album guaranteed to blow your mind…
Get ready space cadets! ^^

Naxatras is:
John Delias – Guitar
Kostas Harizanis – Drums
John Vagenas – Bass & Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/naxatras/
https://naxatras.bandcamp.com/

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Friday Full-Length: Acid King, III

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Acid King, III (2005)

And you’re welcome.

There are few joys in heavy rock as unfettered as a Lori S. riff. Some guitarists gallop. Some careen. Some cut steep angles. Some nod. And sometimes a Lori riff can sound like it’s being thrown down a flight of stairs in how it seems to tumble out of the speakers, but her perfect blend of tempo, timing, groove, construction, spaciousness, tone and the cyclical nature of her style gives her work in San Francisco’s Acid King an unparalleled molten feel. I won’t take anything away from her echoing vocals, Joey Osbourne‘s roll-ready drumming or what a succession of bassists from Peter Lucas to Dan Southwick to Brian Hill to Guy Pinhas to Rafa Martinez to Mark Lamb have brought to the group in terms of low end, but it is now and has always been the riffs that define Acid King, even dating back to their raw 1994 self-titled EP and 1995 debut album, Zoroaster.

That record would serve as the foundation on which in 1999 the band built a temple and named it Busse Woods (discussed here and here), which — as I seem to say every time I mention it at all — is one of the very best stoner rock albums of all time. It would be six years before the trio, which was then comprised of Lori, Pinhas (also known for his work in Goatsnake and The Obsessed) and Osbourne, issued a proper follow-up. No doubt the dissolution of Frank Kozik‘s by-now legendary imprint Man’s Ruin Records, which released Busse Woods and the subsequent 2001 split EP with Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, played into the delay, but in 2004, Small Stone Records reissued Busse Woods and in 2005, stepped in to offer III — Acid King‘s much-awaited and aptly-titled third full-length.

III was a Spring release, and I remember it seemed pretty close behind the Busse Woods reissue, which may have contributed to the impression that despite the stretch between the two (which seemed long at the time; ha) that the newer album was still operating in the shadow of its predecessor. Nonetheless, with years of hindsight to provide a looking-back lens now, III is an absolute masterwork of riffly meditation. From the fading-in fuzz that begins “2 Wheel Nation” and the unmitigated nod that follows through the patient execution of the singularly righteous “Heavy Load,” “Bad Vision” — which is precisely what I had in mind with the “down a flight of stairs” comment in the first paragraph above — the 12-minute centerpiece “War of the Mind,” the quicker “Into the Ground,” the hook reset of “On to Everafter” and the highlight drum wizardry in finale “Sunshine and Sorrow,” one would be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend 46 minutes of listening time when it comes to groove immersion. Across the entire span, Acid King demonstrate plainly the sheer unfuckwithability of their craft and the utter injustice that their name isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Sleep and Black Sabbath for their pivotal contributions to the form.

Yes, I mean that.

One would be remiss not to note the collaboration between the three-piece and producer Billy Anderson as essential to their overall sound. Anderson, who worked with the band on Zoroaster and Busse Woods as well before helming III, captures the depth of tone and character in Lori‘s guitar and seems to put it in just the right balance with the corresponding bass and drums. The effectiveness on “2 Wheel Nation” is immediate once the song starts — it’s a groove that leaves no one behind as it takes to the road on some souped-up space chopper — and with “Heavy Load” following, the launch salvo for III is unmistakable in its preached message of tonal supremacy, but neither is it void of atmosphere. The repetitions are hypnotic, and shortly, “Bad Vision” snaps the listener back to at least a semi-consciousness state, but while one generally thinks of Acid King as being straightforward in their intentions and sonic impression-making, it’s worth pointing out just how much room is being created by Lori‘s riffs, by the crash of Osbourne‘s cymbals and the thud of his toms, and by the plummeting bass tone with which Pinhas anchors the marching procession. This is reinforced as “War of the Mind” gives III its most gorgeous sprawl, setting itself in an open landscape that seems to stretch like some Western highway populated at dawn by mission-bound hippies in some lysergic American daydream. Even as the lyrics call outright for freedom, the instrumental fluidity behind them seems to find it and bring it wonderfully, glaringly to life.

Is is possible for a band to be so widely hailed and still be underrated? III, which in addition to being concurrent to the reissue of the album before it also arrived at a just-pre-social-media moment of generational shift, would argue yes. Though they toured steadily between, brought together their first two outings in 2006 as their The Early Years compilation, and oversaw reissues of both III and Busse Woods in the interim, a decade passed before Acid King released their fourth long-player in 2015. Aligned to Svart Records and comprised of Lori, Osbourne and Lamb, the triumphantly chanting Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (review here) brimmed with classic Acid King method and personality. With production by Anderson as well as Toshi Kasai, it found the band at their most world-conjuring to-date and marked a surge of international touring and general activity that continues to this day as Lori has revamped Acid King‘s lineup to bring back Martinez (who’s spent years on the road at this point as the drummer for the raging Black Cobra) on bass and new drummer Bil Bowman, replacing Osbourne in the band for the first time and leaving herself as the sole remaining founding member.

The inevitable shift in dynamic there could potentially mean a significant change in Acid King‘s overall chemistry, but with the band having taken six years between Busse Woods and III and 10 between III and Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere, I’m not inclined to predict when their next LP will show up, what shape it will ultimately take, or who will be involved in its making. What matters is that as Acid King approach their 25th anniversary since getting together in 1993, they’ve perhaps never been so ripe for appreciation, and while their catalog over those years isn’t about to challenge Hawkwind in terms of its sheer numbers, each of their albums remains a landmark accomplishment at a level few bands could ever hope to reach.

As always, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Yeah, closing out with Acid King is pretty much me doing myself a favor. After a week of being literally shit on, I kind of feel like I earned it as much as I ever consider myself as having “earned” anything. Either way, I decided pretty early on this week that III would do the job and it’s been a pleasure to dig into it over the last few days, go a little deeper in listening than I sometimes do with this stuff. I woke up early this morning to come downstairs and get started. Alarm went off at 4AM. My idea of a good time.

The Pecan continues to grow. Predictably, he’s become a baby of many names, among them “Rocketass” for his propensity to wait until I’ve got his diaper off to unleash fecal torrents. The Patient Mrs. and I gave him a bath last weekend in the kitchen sink and he also pissed on my Vitamix that I use to make the protein shakes that are now what I eat for dinner roughly six nights a week, so yeah. Took me a couple days to forgive that in theory, but the reality of the situation is I don’t even care anymore. He’s yet to produce anything that can’t be wiped off or put through the wash, etc.

I’m sure we’ll get there. I’m just saying we’re not there yet. In the meantime, lack of sleep? Diaper changing? Trying to get him to take a bottle? Whatever. These are good days. Fatigue is a small price to pay for that.

He’s three weeks old now, and The Patient Mrs. continues to be wonderful as a mother. Never a doubt she would be, but to actually see it manifest as reality is humbling and only further underscores how fortunate I am to exist in her presence, pretty much ever, let alone on the ongoing basis of our relationship, marriage and so on. Stupid lucky. The Pecan has been a little fussy the last couple days — Wonder Weeks says he’s on the verge of a sensory breakthrough, which should be fascinating — and she’s been running point all the way. I’ve cooked and cleaned and done that stuff, but to see her momming it up is fantastic. I love her so much I want to bash my brains in.

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the US — a holiday with a troubled historical foundation but probably my favorite in terms of how it brings loved ones together in a spirit of shared appreciation for each other. We’re getting together with my family and The Patient Mrs.’ family in Connecticut for dinner. I’m already anxious about being around that much food — hi, I have an eating disorder — but even if I end up bringing the blender and the protein powder south for the day, I think it’ll be a good time. I’m looking forward to it.

Not sure how it will affect the timing of posts, but here’s what’s in the notes for next week anyway, subject of course to change without notice:

Mon.: Snowy Dunes album review; Borracho announcement/track premiere.
Tue.: Low Orbit track premiere/review; Pillars video premiere.
Wed.: SubRosa Subdued track premiere. Fuck yes.
Thu.: Maybe a podcast? Don’t expect much, if anything.
Fri.: Maybe Frank Sabbath review. Depends where I’m at post-holiday.

There you have it, and there you have it.

I’ve started to put together the next Quarterly Review already for the end of next month/the beginning of January, as well as the best-of lists, so keep an eye out for all that stuff as we move into December, and we’ll have the best albums poll up as well come Dec. 1. Be ready. I want to make it the best one yet, and last year’s is going to be tough to top.

If you’re still reading, you’re great. Thank you.

Have an excellent, safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Clamfight Set Jan. 19 Release Date for III; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

clamfight

Impartiality be damned, I frickin’ love these dudes. I’ve known Clamfight for well over a decade now, and unlike seafood, they only get better with age. Yeah, I’ve heard III. I heard it while they were still recording. It rules. And if you miss it, it’s your own damn fault. I’ve been posting about how much ass Clamfight kick pretty much since this site started, and if you haven’t caught on by now, I don’t think I can really be held responsible at this point. Shit, I helped put out their last album, so what the hell do you want from me? A written invitation? Should I send you a telegram reminding you Clamfight are badass? Well, consider this post that personal notice. Yeah, I’m talking to you. Directly. It’s the internet, I can do that. I got your info from Equifax.

I’m hearing murmurings of a Clamfight release show in NY in January that I’m very much thinking I might need to travel to be at, but I’ll keep you posted on that once I get any details. In the meantime, Argonauta Records, which signed the four-piece this past summer, has preorders for III available now and has posted the album’s art and tracklisting, as well as a teaser video that shows off some of the harsh and melodic aspects alike of what they’re doing at this point. It’s a minute long and the band only needs about half that time to completely kick your ass.

In all seriousness, these guys are truly special to me and I consider myself fortunate to have watched as closely as I have as they’ve become a truly special band as well. Get yourself informed:

clamfight iii

U.S. Sludgers Clamfight reveal cover artwork and track-list of their highly anticipated new album “III”.

Influenced in equal parts by their dads’ vinyl, that sketchy older kid from woodshop class’ thrash and hardcore tapes as well as touchstone heavy bands like Sleep, Clutch, Neurosis, eyehategod and Mastodon, the band has plied its unique brand of suburban working slob metal up and down the East Coast of the United States since 2005.

CLAMFIGHT “III” will be released in CD/DD by Argonauta Records and available from January 19th, 2018. Preorders run here: http://hyperurl.co/ClamfightIII

A first teaser from the album is available here: https://youtu.be/ZCPkaIZ9T2Y.

TRACK-LISTING:
1. Whale Road
2. Selkie
3. Echoes in Stone
4. Eynhallow
5. History of the Earls of Orkney

www.facebook.com/Clamfight
https://twitter.com/clamfight
https://www.instagram.com/clamfight/
https://clamfight.bandcamp.com/
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/argonautarecords
http://hyperurl.co/ClamfightIII

Clamfight, III album teaser

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Asteroid Premiere Official Video for “Til’ Dawn”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

asteroid

It was a marked bummer earlier this year when Swedish fuzz rockers Asteroid announced in June that the reignition that had led them to produce their most-welcome third album, III (review here), for Fuzzorama Records in 2016 was essentially cutting short in order to return to an immediate hiatus. Health issues were mentioned and that’s about the last that’s been heard from the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse, bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson, and drummer Jimmi Kolscheen, the latter of whom had joined the band in place of Elvis Campbell after the LP recording. Particularly as the full-length offered a newly energized sound and still managed to keep the organic warmth of the Örebro natives’ prior two outings, 2010’s II (review here) and 2007’s self-titled debut (discussed here), it was sad to see them call it quits for some yet-TBD amount of time just when they seemed to have so much momentum on their side heading into the Fall festival season.

So it goes. One can — apparently — sit and lament all day. One can also check out the band’s new video for the track “Til’ Dawn” from III as a refresher of just how righteous that outing was and still very much is. Of course, since they’re not really together at the moment, Asteroid themselves don’t actually appear in the clip, but the band and Fuzzorama partnered with Minneapolis-based production company Know Idea Productions, who also previously created the video for Truckfighters‘ “Calm Before the Storm” (posted here) that proved controversial when it came out that the narrative was based on a true story and hit a little close to home in Sweden. I don’t know if the plotline of “Til’ Dawn” is similarly ‘ripped from the headlines,’ but its nighttime chase atmosphere and fluid slow motion shots resonate with the song itself and lend an emotional depth to the aural proceedings, which seems pretty much like the ideal.

Also noteworthy just how recognizable the cinematography of “Til’ Dawn” was after “Calm Before the Storm.” Even before I looked it up to confirm, I said to myself, “I bet these are the same people who did that Truckfighters video. Sure enough. So kudos on that.

The hope of course is that at some point Asteroid decide to pick back up and continue to move forward in supporting and eventually pushing beyond III. I’ve got no timeline on when or if that might happen, but a new video isn’t nothing and I’m happy to host the premiere of “Til’ Dawn” below, again, as a refresher for anyone for whom it might’ve been a minute since the last time they put on III. To be perfectly honest, it was enough to get me to play not only that record, but then to go back and grab II and the self-titled as well for a runthrough. I’ve kind of made an afternoon of it, and no complaints.

Credits and links follow. Please enjoy:

Asteroid, “Til’ Dawn” official video premiere

The official music video for the Asteroid song “Til’ Dawn” on Fuzzorama Records.

Written & Directed by: Aiden Kangas
Produced by: Kalaia Bouley
Cinematography by: Tony Perkins
Edited by: Joshua Harris Braun & Aiden Kangas
Color Grading: Tony Perkins
Starring: Joshua Harris Braun & Holly Peterson

Know Idea Productions website

Asteroid on Thee Facebooks

Asteroid on Twitter

Asteroid website

Fuzzorama Records webstore

Fuzzorama Records on Thee Facebooks

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Weedpecker Sign to Stickman Records; III Coming Soon; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

weedpecker

Poland’s Weedpecker already have two strong albums under their collective belt in their 2013 self-titled (review here) and 2015’s even more expansive II (review here), but with an endorsement like that of Stickman Records behind the forthcoming III, it seems all the more like they might just be about to hit their finest hour to-date. The Warsaw four-piece are the latest impressive pickup from the German label, which seems to be on something of a spree over the course of the last year-plus, with King Buffalo, Papir and a distro deal with The Heads‘ imprint Rooster Rock, as well as releases by ElderMotorpsycho, OrangoThe Devil and the Almighty Blues, the aforementioned Papir, etc. All the better, as their taste is basically unfuckwithable as far as I’m concerned.

In the case of Weedpecker, they’re yet another band who take familiar sonic elements and turn them into something brazenly individual. With an underlying influence from their now-labelmates Elder, they honed a progressive feel across the still-psychedelic and very much still-heavy II, and based on what Stickman says about it and the track “Liquid Sky” that’s streaming below, I can’t wait to hear what’s in store for III. Good band. Good news. Positive vibes and kudos all around.

Exact release date still to come. Here’s the cover art and the announcement from the label:

weedpecker iii

STICKMAN WELCOMES WEEDPECKER WITH NEW ALBUM “III”!

It’s the year of the roman numeral at Stickman Records, beginning with Papir’s “V” and continuing the trend with our latest addition to the family – Poland’s WEEDPECKER for their third album, aptly titled “III”!

Weedpecker started turning heads with their fantastic debut album in 2013, no small feat in the oversaturated world of drug rock in the 21st century. Mixing grungy riffs with dreamy, psychedelic soundscapes, their heavy and trippy sound is singular and instantly recognizable. Numerous European tours including shows with our own Elder won the Warsaw quartet the kind of quiet reverence that accompanies any underground band who’s just too good to be let out into the mainstream and discovered for all, and the second LP “II” remains a sought-after gem. When we got the chance to work with them for their latest offering, of course we jumped at the chance!

If the band name conjures up images of marijuana haze – as it undoubtedly should – “III” is a whole ‘nother drug; showing no inhibitions in breaking out of the “stoner rock” mold, the extended trips float over the listener with lush keys, beautiful guitar melodies and ethereal vocal harmonies. Borrowing more heavily from the lighter psychedelia a la early Tame Impala, Pond or Morgan Delt, “III” shows the band experimenting and jamming more than ever before with unexpected and wonderful results.

Says Weedpecker: “We are very happy to announce that our new album will be released by Stickman Records! We’re super proud that Elder, Motorpsycho, Papir, Mos Generator, Anekdoten are our label buddies!”

Release date and details to follow soon!

Weedpecker is:
Wyro-guitar
Bartek-guitar
Mroku-bass
Falon-drums

https://www.facebook.com/Weedpecker-349871488424872/
https://weedpecker.bandcamp.com/
http://weedpecker.bigcartel.com/
http://weedpecker.8merch.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/
https://twitter.com/stickmanrecords

Weedpecker, “Liquid Sky”

Weedpecker, II (2015)

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Quarterly Review: Enslaved, Hour of 13, Operators, MaidaVale, Audion, Bone Man, Riff Fist, Helén, Savanah, Puta Volcano

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

I don’t know about you, but I could do this all day. Listening to records, writing reviews, getting things done that I’ve been trying to get done in some cases for actual months of my life — suffice it to say I’m way into this process. Wednesday is always a special day for the Quarterly Review because we pass the halfway point, and as much as I wish this edition went to 60 or even 70 releases, because rest assured even with 50 total there’s way more I could be covering if I had space/time, the good news is there’s still much more awesomeness to come. Today gets into some different vibes once again, so let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Enslaved, Roadburn Live

enslaved-roadburn-live

In their storied and groundbreaking career, Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved have never put out a live record, and it kind of makes sense as to why. The nuance of what they’ve come to do in their studio material doesn’t really lend itself to the rawness of a live album. Accordingly, Roadburn Live (on ByNorse and Burning World Records) feels almost as much of an homage to the event itself as to the performance. Captured in 2015 as Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson co-curated and the band headlined playing a special set of their more prog-focused songs – here more recent material like “In Times,” “Building with Fire,” “Daylight” from 2015’s In Times (review here) and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here) shines along with “Convoys to Nothingness” from 2001’s Monumension, “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights and the requisite “Isa” from the 2004 landmark of the same name, and a special highlight comes at the finale when they cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bring guitarist Menno Gootjes of Dutch proggers Focus out for a guest spot. Roadburn Live might be a step away from the band’s usual modus, but Enslaved have made their career on pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, so why stop now?

Enslaved on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

ByNorse Music website

 

Hour of 13, Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased

hour of 13 salt the dead

An overdue compilation from a band making an overdue return, Hour of 13’s Salt the Earth: The Rare and Unreleased reunites the doomers led by multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis with Shadow Kingdom Records and brings together early demos from 2007 – on which the collaboration between Davis and vocalist Phil Swanson was arguably at its most vibrant as they headed into their self-titled debut full-length later that year – with other previously unissued cuts like three songs with Davis on vocals including the Jason McCash tribute piece “Upon Black Wings We Die” (premiered here) and the original rehearsal demos that introduced Beaten Back to Pure singer Ben Hogg as Swanson’s replacement in the band in 2011 (premiered here). If you want a direct feel for the breadth of the band, look no further than the three versions of “Call to Satan” that appear on Salt the Earth. Widely varied between them in sound and overall feel, they underscore the tumult that has existed since the outset at the core of Hour of 13 even as they provide hope that the band previously laid to rest can revitalize enough to put out a fourth studio offering.

Hour of 13 on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Operators, Revelers

operators revelers

Nearly four years in the making, Revelers is the third full-length from Berlin’s Operators behind 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), and it starts off by smashing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats swing headfirst into Goatsnake riffing on “Leveled Reveler,” the first of its six component tracks. Their arrangements, as ever, are marked by the featured position of organ along with guitar, bass and drums, and whether it’s a more extended jam like that opener, “Messina” or the closing “Rolling Hitch” – which boasts a guest vocal/guitar spot from Wight’s René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered) – or the shorter momentum-building winding course through “Pusher,” “Walkin’ on Air” (I’m not sure what’s happening at the end there, but I’m not about to spoil it) and the winning-at-song-titles “Fuzz Muncher,” Operators function with a maturity of approach that seems to have been earned during the longer stretch between releases. To wit, all the turns and pivots even out in the last movement of “Rolling Hitch” and Revelers caps with a classic heavy rock groove that’s neither in a hurry nor staid – Operators finding crucial balance amidst all their revelry, and much to their credit.

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West

maidavale tales of the wicked west

Blues Pills. There. I said it. Now that the blues-rocking elephant in the room has been acknowledged, perhaps we can get on with Swedish four-piece MaidaVale’s debut full-length, Tales of the Wicked West (on The Sign Records). Yes, the Fårösund-based band owe a bit of their soulfulness to the aforementioned, but the nine-track/44-minute long-player thrives most of all as Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson purposefully meander into psychedelic flashes, as in opener “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” the midsection of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the penultimate Zep-vibing/Bukowski-referencing “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You” and the 11-minute post-“Maggot Brain” closer “Heaven and Earth.” It’s in these moments and the manner in which they blend with the driving rock of “Dirty War,” the bluesy swagger of “Restless Wanderer” and the deft turns of “Colour Blind” early on that MaidaVale’s individualism is beginning to take shape, and if that’s the story that Tales of the Wicked West is telling, then it’s one well worth following through subsequent chapters.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Audion, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-histora-de-abraham

Audion’s debut, La Historia de Abraham, is immediately noteworthy in no small part because it brings the rhythm section of Los Natas back together for the first time since that band’s breakup following 2009’s excellent Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here). Drummer Walter Broide and bassist Gonzalo Villagra join forces in the new outfit with guitarist Dizzy Espeche, and all three contribute vocals throughout at least in backup capacity, adding variety to go with the instrumental breadth that runs from the serene end of “Llegaron Sordos” right into the rush of “La Maquina del Tiempo” and well beyond later as the interlude “Para Rosita” introduces an earthy acoustidelic feel and “El Carancho” explores ‘70s anthemic rock before the fuzz- and horn-laden finisher “Queruzalem” closes out with a surprising progressive wash. Cuts like opener “Clarence,” the title-track and “Colmillo Blanco” can call to mind Villagra and Broide’s previous work, but Audion make a fresh impression on La Historia de Abraham in the variety throughout, and as they make their way through “Lesbotrans” and “Diablo vs. Dios” and into the second half of the album, it becomes increasingly clear how distinct this first offering actually is.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Bone Man, III

bone man iii

To go along with the propulsive rhythm of “False Ambition” and the wash in the payoff of the earlier “These Days are Gone,” there’s a sense of gothic drama to vocalist Marian’s delivery that adds further atmosphere to Bone Man’s III (on Pink Tank Records), and in kind with the cohesive foundation of Arne’s bass, Ötzi’s drumming and his own scorch-prone guitar, that gives cuts like “Cold Echo” and the alternately brooding and explosive centerpiece – layered acoustic and electric guitar filling out the sound further – even more stylistic depth. That moodiness comes perhaps most into focus on the more subdued “Incognito,” but it’s there from the boogie-laced opener “Pollyanna” onward, and in the jagged push of “Years of Sorrow” and the more spacious finale “Amnesia” (still a tightly structured four minutes in length), it lends III a persona stretching beyond what one might think of as the standard genre fare and gives the Kiel, Germany, outfit a presence decidedly their own. It’s their third record, so maybe that’s not a surprise for a band who made their first offering eight years ago, but it serves as a major source of resonance in the material nonetheless.

Bone Man on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Riff Fist, King Tide

riff fist king iii

Going back to 2013, Melbourne, Australia, trio Riff Fist have basically summed up their approach in the eight letters of their name: a tight-knit approach to guitar-led heavy rock, as straightforward as a fist in your face. King Tide is their debut album after three EPs named for the Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy of westerns – 2015’s The Good, the Loud and the Riff, 2014’s For a Few Riffs More and 2013’s Fistful of Riffs (review here) – and it significantly expands their breadth. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute title cut (video premiered here), King Tide covers new, more patient and encompassing ground from bassist/vocalist Cozza, guitarist Casey and drummer Joel than anything they’ve touched on before, and while the subsequent “D.T.U.B.,” fuzz-laden “Fist Bier (Noch Eins)” and even the first half of eight-minute centerpiece “Chugg” bring that all-ahead sensibility back into focus, King Tide remains effectively and engagingly informed by its leadoff impression through its total 33-minute run, which is rounded out as “Beer and a Cigarette” melds the more spacious and atmospheric take with a still-swinging post-Clutch groove. There’s more work to do in tying the various sides together, but King Tide is a rousing introduction to the process through which the band can make that happen.

Riff Fist on Thee Facebooks

Riff Fist on Bandcamp

 

Helén, Helén

helen helen

Hexvessel multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kimmo Helén makes a willfully peculiar and experimentalist self-titled debut with the solo-project Helén via Svart Records, setting a course through melodic indie wash in “Uusi Olento” even as “Jumalan Hullu” threatens in its bounce and the later “Lystia” moves into yet-darker expanses. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar, sax, and of course Helén’s own Finnish-language vocals, there’s very little that feels like it might be outside his comfort zone in terms of craft, and Helén, the album, is just as effective in the plus-cello-acoustic-minimalism of the penultimate “Lopussa” as in the earlier atmospheric breadth of “Puolen Metrin Syvyydessä.” Closing out with the alternately melancholy and dreamy “Kaikki Isä,” the record brings out a full-band feel despite Helén having handled the vast majority of the instrumentation on his own and impresses in that as well as in its range of moods and overarching sense of purpose. May it be a first exploration in a series of many.

Helén on Thee Facebooks

Helén at Svart Records webstore

 

Savanah, The Healer

savanah the healer

I won’t take away from a wah-drenched rocker like “The Healer,” which still jams out plenty before digging into doomier lumbering, but where Austrian trio Savanah’s Stone Free Records debut album, The Healer, really gets its point across is in the fluidity of its longer-form material, whether that’s post-“Intro” opener “Mind,” the ebbing and flowing heavy psych instrumental “Pillars of Creation” or the over-10-minutes-apiece closing pair of the doom rocking “Black Widow” and “Panoramic View of Stormy Weather,” which effectively draws together the multiple aesthetic faces the three-piece demonstrate throughout the record preceding, culling rock, psych and doom into a single riff-driven entity and, most importantly, making it theirs. Guitar leads the way with big, natural fuzz, but the rhythm section is crucial here, and as Benny, Felix and Jakob follow-up their 2015 EP, Deep Shades, they seem to establish a path along which they can flourish and hopefully continue to capture the listener’s attention as they do here.

Savanah on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres

puta volcano harmony of spheres

The kind of release where by the end of the first song you want to own everything the band has ever put out. Don’t let Athens’ Puta Volcano get lost in the wash of bands coming out of Greece these days, because there are many, but if you miss out on the blend of desert-style tones and graceful melodies of “Bird,” it’s to your general detriment. I’m serious. In craft and performance, Puta Volcano’s third album, Harmony of Spheres, takes on unpretentious progressivism in songwriting and blends it with a post-Slo Burn/Hermano sense of freedom from genre. Witness the funky “Zeroth Law” or the later, more subtle post-grunge linearity of “Moebius,” the odd chanting repetitions in closer “Infinity” or the nigh-on-maddening hook of “Jovian Winds.” Really, do it. With the lineup of vocalist Luna Stoner, guitarist Alex Pi, bassist Bookies and drummer Steven Stefanidis, Puta Volcano are onto something special in aesthetic and delivery, and if Harmony of Spheres might be your first experience with the band as it’s mine, it’s one that will no doubt warrant multiple revisits. Consider it sleeper fodder for your year-end list – I know I will.

Puta Volcano on Thee Facebooks

Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

 

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