Friday Full-Length: Unida, Coping with the Urban Coyote

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Unida, Coping with the Urban Coyote (1999)

Among the many branches of the Kyuss family tree, Unida continue to hold a special place. Their story will perhaps forever be one of oh-what-could’ve-been, and though their legacy is marked by the abruptness with which their momentum was cut short, the quality of their debut and only officially released album to-date, Coping with the Urban Coyote resonates perhaps even more now, 18 years after its original release, than it might’ve at the time it came out on Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records. Certainly to listen to the eight tracks and 41-minutes, there’s little to make it sound anything less than vital. With so much time passed and so much that’s happened since, that would only seem to emphasize how special a release it actually is and has been all along.

Unida formed in 1998 and made their debut the next year by including their The Best of Wayne-Gro EP as part of a split with Sweden’s Dozer released by MeteorCity. Later in ’99, Coping with the Urban Coyote would surface on Man’s Ruin as their proper first album. With frontman John Garcia fresh off his time in Slo Burn, whose Amusing the Amazing LP was issued in 1997, the ex-Kyuss singer seemed poised to once again make an impact in the heavy rock underground. And so he did. Joined in Unida‘s Coping with the Urban Coyote lineup by guitarist Arthur Seay, drummer Mike Cancino and bassist Dave Dinsmore — who’d later be replaced by Scott Reeder (ex-KyussThe Obsessed, etc.) — Garcia presented a new outfit that tightened the desert rock approach of Kyuss on songs like “Plastic” and the blasting “If Only Two,” delving into his trademark patterning of repeating lines in his lyrics, pushing out vocals with from-the-gut soulfulness, and capturing the spirit of place that few other vocalists from that region or elsewhere have been able to match since, while also presenting trippier fare on the nine-minute finale “You Wish” and finding a sound that was distinct enough from Kyuss to not simply be recapturing what was lost in a way that Slo Burn seemed at times to be trying to do. Unida may have been working in a similar sphere, but they were their own band already on their first record, even with Garcia‘s strong ties to his own sonic past.

The Unida story has been told many times, both here and elsewhere, and so I don’t necessarily think I need to delve into the details of the fate of their follow-up to Coping with the Urban Coyote, but just as a refresher: what was originally titled For the Working Man and later became known as The Great Divide was tracked by mega-producer Rick Rubin and set to be issued through Rubin‘s American Recordings imprint through Island Def Jam in 2002. The record company shelved it, owned it, and that was basically the end. It’s been bootlegged many times since and accordingly is readily available online, but it’s never been officially released, and the commercial potential it represented in terms of bringing Unida — and really desert rock as a whole, since although they had two records out, Queens of the Stone Age were still about a year away from “happening” on a more widespread level and claiming that forerunner mantle as their own — to a broader audience went unfulfilled. A much, much worse fate than the album deserved, and it was effectively the end of the group. Unida played sporadic shows throughout the years, and notably they got back together to headline Desertfest London in 2013 (review here), and would head to Berlin to play there and tour Australia with Beastwars, also reissuing Coping with the Urban Coyote via Cobraside Distribution in 2014 with a bonus disc of live tracks from their Desertfest performance.

Of course, in the intervening years, Seay and Cancino went on to form House of Broken Promises and would issue the debut long-player, Using the Useless (review here), via Small Stone in 2009. It wasn’t until this fall that release got a follow-up — the Twisted EP came out last week on Heavy Psych Sounds and the band is on tour in Europe to promote it — but with Unida seemingly once more at rest, presumably there’s time for Seay to focus on the other outfit.

That’s nothing to complain about, though, because as much as Unida‘s circumstances and narrative define the band, and as much as Garica‘s presence as frontman leaves an indelible mark on their output, I’d argue gladly that it’s Seay‘s underlying songwriting ability that is the most distinguishing factor, and I think revisiting Coping with the Urban Coyote plainly demonstrates that. To listen to the clear-headed riff that drives “Nervous,” the flourish leads peppered throughout that track or the start-stop swing in opener “Thorn,” the forward thrust of “Black Woman” and the penultimate “Dwarf It” or the mid-paced ease with which “Human Tornado” is brought to bear, and the rolling spaciousness of “You Wish,” even in light of everything that’s happened since (and hasn’t happened since) with this band and its players, the vision of Seay‘s craft is so purposeful in hitting all its marks and yet still comes across as natural and born of the chemistry between himself, Garcia, Cancino and Dinsmore.

I’d also say that’s the key factor that’s allowed Coping with the Urban Coyote to hold up so well over time. Something to keep in mind as you dive in and think about either chasing down The Great Divide via some interwebular chicanery or finding yourself a copy of that Cobraside reissue (which is about where I’m at, honestly), and of course either way, I very much hope you enjoy.

Thanks as always for reading.

I decided to let myself sleep late today, by which I mean the alarm was set for 6AM. I woke up at 5:23AM and decided quickly that I was too conscious to bother with the remaining 35 pre-alarm minutes. Been a stressful few days as The Patient Mrs. and I continue to await the arrival of The Pecan. Her due date is Sunday, but really it feels like it could be any minute now. Today would work. Tomorrow. Whenever. He’ll come when he comes. The catchphrase we’ve been using is “babies are born on their birthday.” I’m sure everyone says the same shit when waiting like this. Few things in life turn out not to be cliches one way or another.

Our families are excited. We had kind of a final pre-baby get-together last weekend in Connecticut and that was really good if also kind of tiring. The Patient Mrs., as one might expect, has been especially beat the last few days, as we’ve gotten invariably closer to the beginning stages of labor, and I can see the change. She went to a couple meetings at work yesterday and was alright when she first got home, but once she had some dinner and keyed down a bit had very clearly hit a wall. We went to bed at about 8PM to lay down and I read for a while to The Pecan from the Star Trek novel I’m currently making my way through. I don’t know how into the adventures of Will Riker among the Romulans this kid will ultimately be, but it seems the least I can do to start him off right, especially while words are just sounds to help bonding. It’s not like he really needs to know what a subspace warp field is at this point.

That’ll come later.

But while we’re already not really sleeping and we’re doing stuff like making sure there’s gas in the car (there isn’t currently) to get to the hospital when the time comes to go, and our bags are packed and we’ve got our for-labor positions and massages all practiced with the doula and the midwife and as much as the stage can be set, the stage is set, the bottom line is we’re really excited to have this baby. Yeah, it’s a huge difference and everything in my life is about to get turned upside down and all the rest of that stuff — diapers and priorities will likewise be changed — but the anticipation of what’s coming is huge at this point. We can’t wait to meet him. Say hi and whatnot. It’ll be cool. I hope he’s not a dick. Ha.

Before I head out, here’s a schedule for next week that’s obviously more tentative and subject to change without notice than ever:

Mon.: The Spacelords review/stream; The Road Miles video premiere.
Tue.: The Age of Truth review/stream; new I Klatus video.
Wed.: Year of the Cobra review/stream; new Bushfire video.
Thu.: Cities of Mars review.
Fri.: Special surprise review/stream that I can’t talk about yet but that is going to rule. I don’t want to give it away, but stay tuned.

I’ve tried to mitigate stuff in light of the impending Pecan, and that’s about as well as I could do to be minimal. If it comes to it and I need to kill news posts to make room, I will, but we’ll see when we get there. Hell, the kid could not come for another week and a half. Who knows?

It’s going to be fun finding out.

Of course I’ll keep you posted when I have news, but in the interim, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please do something fun, enjoy yourself and your time and your loved ones if you can, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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House of Broken Promises Announce European Tour; Twisted EP out Oct. 6

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

house of broken promises

Well, with previous announcements that House of Broken Promises would take part in Desertfest Belgium 2017 in Antwerp (info here) and Keep it Low 2017 in Munich (info here), it seemed only fair to expect a fuller European tour was in the cards, but the news that the Indio, California, three-piece have hooked up with Heavy Psych Sounds for booking a month-long run and the corresponding Oct. 6 release of a new EP, Twisted, is admittedly more than was anticipated.

For one thing, any kind of new studio offering from House of Broken Promises? Yeah, hard to see that coming. It’s been nearly whole eight years since they released their debut full-length, Using the Useless (review here), on Small Stone, and though they’ve spoken for years about a follow-up, just about nothing has surfaced — though did you know they released their set from Desertfest London 2013 as a CD-R through CDBaby? It’s here. Man, nobody told me about that shit. I was at that show. They killed it. Wish I had known that was out.

Anyway, sidetracked. Point is the new EP has some older outtakes and covers and this-and-thats, but it’s still something new from House of Broken Promises and all the more commendable that they’re both putting it out and hitting the road so fervently to support it. Could it mean more new stuff to come in 2018? Hard not to immediately get greedy when it comes to Arthur Seay riffage.

From the PR wire:

house of broken promises tour

Desert metallers HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES to tour Europe this fall; new EP coming on Heavy Psych Sounds!

Indio, CA’s stoner metal veterans HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES have announced their return to the Old Continent, with a full European tour and a new EP coming this fall.
Heavy/stoner rock trio from Indio, California HOPB is back with their new “Twisted” EP, which features two unreleased covers (Black Sabbath and Billy Squire) plus a bunch of outtakes and live songs for a total of 30 minutes of heavy music.

The former Unida musicians reiterate their successful formula with Mike Cancino’s powerful drumming, guitarist and producer Arthur Seay’s wall of riffs, and Joe More wonderful John Garcia-esque vocals. “Twisted” was recorded at Arthur Seay’s studio in Indio, near the Joshua Tree area who inspired so many stoner/desert rock bands. Artwork was designed by Italian artist and HPS favorite Solo Macello.

HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES new EP “Twisted” is out October 6th on Heavy Psych Sounds Records. Presale start September 1st at this location.

HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES EUROPEAN TOUR
29.09.2017 IT Pescara – Scumm
30.09.2017 IT Savona – Raindogs
01.10.2017 IT Parma
02.10.2017 IT Zerobranco – Altroquando
03.10.2017 IT Milan
04.10.2017 FR Chambery – Le Brin Du Zinc
05.10.2017 FR Montpellier – The Black Sheep
06.10.2017 SP Barcelona – Monasterio
07.10.2017 SP Madrid
08.10.2017 SP Santiago De Compostela – Sala Moon
10.10.2017 SP Gijon – Sala Acapulco
11.10.2017 SP Bilbao – Wombat
12.10.2017 SP Saragoza or San Sebastian
13.10.2017 FR Nantes – La Scene Michelet
14.10.2017 BE Antwerp – Desertfest
16.10.2017 DE Koln – Lime*
17.10.2017 DE Munster – Rare Shop Guitar*
18.10.2017 DE Bielefeld – Potemkin*
19.10.2017 CH Basel – Hirschneck*
20.10.2017DE Frankfurt – Yachtklub*
21.10.2017 DE Munich – Keep It Low*
22.10.2017 AT Salzburg – Rockhouse*
24.10.2017 DE Wien – Viper Room*
25.10.2017 DE Dresden – Chemofabrik*
26.10.2017 DE Erfurt – Tiko*
27.10.2017 CH Olten – Coq D’Or*
28.10.2017 DE Siegen – Vortex*
* dates with Black Bone

HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES is guitarist Arthur Seay (Unida, ApeSh!t), bassist/vocalist Joe Mora (HDR, Street Drugs DTLA, The Addicts) and drummer Mike Cancino (Unida, Lynch Mob). Formed on the ashes of Unida (which also featured Kyuss legend John Garcia), their Small Stone Records debut “Using the Useless”, led the charge in a more refined stoner metal approach than the standard stoner rock sound of similar scene bands.

https://www.facebook.com/HOBPMUSIC/
https://twitter.com/HOBPofficial
http://instagram.com/houseofbrokenpromises
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
https://twitter.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUND
https://instagram.com/heavypsychsounds_records/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm

House of Broken Promises, Using the Useless (2009)

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Friday Full-Length: Brant Bjork, Jalamanta

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 5th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Brant Bjork, Jalamanta (1999)

Yeah, I know I’ve written about this record a lot over the years. Some albums you just keep going back to, and for me, Brant Bjork‘s 1999 solo debut, Jalamanta, is one of those. Released by Man’s Ruin Records, it was the first time the then-Fu Manchu drummer had stepped out to do something on his own, and the vibe he captured on these tracks continues to resonate, songs like “Automatic Fantastic,” “Defender of the Oleander,” “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians” and of course “Low Desert Punk” becoming staple examples of what desert rock has become, but the way Bjork builds off those sounds, the low-end funk of “Cobra Jab,” the primo rock of “Toot” (on which Mario Lalli makes a guest appearance), and so on, it makes the listening experience that much richer in taking the album on front-to-back. The Man’s Ruin bio for it called it, “12 tracks of ghetto vibe wonder,” which is fair enough, but it’s the individual mash of influences and Bjork‘s willingness to account for them all while making them his own that results in both the vibe and the wonder, ghetto or not.

Jalamanta has been reissued a couple times through Bjork‘s own Duna Records imprint since the dissolution of Man’s Ruin, and rightfully so. It remains a vital piece of his discography, and the one-man jams he sets up on songs like “Sun Brother” and “Let’s Get Chinese Eyes” go far in setting the course for what his songwriting produces to this day. When it originally came out, in Oct. 1999, Bjork was already several years removed from his tenure in Kyuss, though he’d also appeared alongside former Kyuss guitarist Josh Homme on Desert Sessions Vol. 5 and 6, also released by Man’s RuinFu Manchu, whose ranks he’d joined prior to 1997’s The Action is Go, were just months away from putting out King of the Road, and in 2000, Bjork would unite with Alfredo Hernandez, who replaced him in Kyuss and had just finished playing with Queens of the Stone Age, and Unida‘s Dave Dinsmore in the short-lived trio Ché, whose only album, Sounds of Liberation, presaged some of what Bjork‘s songwriting would manifest with some of his backing bands, be it The Bros. on 2007’s Somera Sól or the currently-active Low Desert Punk Band, whose Black Power Flower (review here) was released this year on Napalm Records and in whose lineup Bjork has reunited with Dave Dinsmore.

For me, Jalamanta has always been a summer album, but I hope you’ll indulge the bit of climatic wishful thinking on my part, and please enjoy.

Quick week, or maybe I’m just still recovering from Thanksgiving last week/weekend. Either way, we’re starting to wind down the year, so in addition to the usual bout of reviews and such — I think I’m going to go see Kind in Allston next week, and I’ll be at at least one of the two YOB shows in Brooklyn next weekend, if not both — I’ll be starting wrapup coverage, lists and such. Putting up the Readers Poll on Monday was just the start, and huge thanks to everyone who’s submitted a list so far for that, but starting next week we’ll dig deeper into what will probably still just be a fraction of how much I’d actually like to do. I also need to get my own top albums of the year together, which I’ve been putting off though I think I have the top five in place and proper order.

I teased a year-end podcast as well, and I’ll have that coming soon too, though it would have to be 10 hours long to cover all the excellent stuff that came out this year — and I promise you I’m not going to do a 10-hour podcast. I’ll whittle it down as best as I can, and even if it’s not next week, it’ll be up sometime soon. Obviously before the New Year, and likely before Xmas as well.

This week, I not only flaked on posting the Alunah interview, because I suck, but reviewing the Wounded Giant/Goya split as well. I’ll attempt to correct, but the stacks of CDs people have sent in sitting on my desk is starting to weigh pretty heavy on my soul as we get down to the wire on 2014, so other stuff might have to take a backseat for a bit. I’d love to find some way to do a roundup and give some cursory glance at records, but I’m not sure what that looks like or how it would come together in a way that doesn’t destroy all of my available time. It’s not something I’ve ever been able to make function, and I’ve tried. I still try from time to time. Not enough hours in the day for all the rock and roll, and though I work against it, I continue to need at least a little sleep each night.

First World problems, I guess, and there’s been plenty lately to remind me of just how privileged an existence I lead, despite all my miserable-bastard mopery. I hope wherever you’re at, you can feel safe.

Be well, have a great weekend and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Here’s Brant Bjork’s First Bio

Posted in Buried Treasure, Where to Start on September 27th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

A while back I purchased a promo of the Man’s Ruin release of High on Fire‘s first album, The Art of Self-Defense, and posted the bio included with that. It didn’t get much of a response, but when I received the promo of Brant Bjork‘s Jalamanta (which I’m certain is exactly the same as the final Man’s Ruin release sonically, though the wah-guitar on “Automatic Fantastic” sounded higher in the mix when I listened this morning), I was interested to read how the album was pitched to the press at the time.

Of course, we think of desert rock now as a given, but in 1999, the idea was still pretty new, at least to those outside the geographic locale. So in coming up with a description for Bjork‘s unique blend of soul, funk, punk and classic rock, the record gets called “12 tracks of ghetto vibe wonder,” which is just awesome. Plus, it’s got different cover art than either the final Man’s Ruin release or the subsequent Duna Records reissue. That’s gotta be worth $15 in itself.

So here’s the bio for your perusal. Click the image to view full-size:

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Interview with Arthur Seay of House of Broken Promises: A Beast of the Bitter Sands

Posted in Features on January 14th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

It’s a formidable statement of intent that Indio, California, desert rockers House of Broken Promises made with their Small Stone debut full-length, Using the Useless. Basically, it went like this: if you’ve got balls, they’re gonna rock ’em right off. No tricks, no bullshit, no extended prog solos to show off musicianship — just heavy rock and roll, all the time. Do one thing, do it loud.

After they made themselves known with the Death in Pretty Wrapping demo and a split with Germany‘s Duster69, there was little doubt Using the Useless would destroy in classic fashion. The band’s lineage traces back to Unida, one of the many acts in the Kyuss family tree, fronted by vocalist John Garcia. Screwed by their label and more or less shut down for good, Unida slowly dissolved as Garcia set about becoming a family and working man (nothing against it; we all have to choose our priorities and a good many times real life wins), leaving bassist Eddie Plasciencia, guitarist Arthur Seay and drummer Mike Cancino bandless. It wasn’t long before Plasciencia took the vocal spot in addition to playing bass and House of Broken Promises was established.

They recorded Using the Useless in Seay‘s own BitterSand Recording studio, and are set to play this year’s Small Stone showcase at SXSW and the Roadburn Afterburner event in The Netherlands as part of a European tour with Texas heavyweights Dixie Witch. In the following interview, an excited Seay discusses the formation of the band, the secrets of the riff, and just whose dog that was in the video they filmed for the song “The Hurt (Paid My Dues).”

Q&A, always, is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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House of Broken Promises Have a New Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

And here it is. Their ass kicking Small Stone Records debut, Using the Useless, is on iTunes now and will be available on CD next month.

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Correction: Arthur Seay Doesn’t Sing Lead in House of Broken Promises

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

PLEASE NOTE: In my recent review of House of Broken PromisesSmall Stone debut, Using the Useless, I attributed The cover once again.lead vocals to guitarist Athur Seay, when in fact, bassist Eddie Plascencia is on lead, and Seay and drummer Mike Cancino handle backing vocals. This is what happens when you rush to get a review done before there’s a bio available. Apologies for any inconvenience the mistake may have caused, and in case you’re wondering how I found out, Eddie was kind enough to send me the following polite corrective email:

Hey H.P. appreciate the review of our upcoming album….correction though. Eddie is actually lead vocalist and Bass player, Arthur and Mike contribute to the back up vocals.
Thanks,
Eddie P.

So there you have it. If I trust anyone’s word on the matter, it’s gonna be the dude from the band’s. In this fast-paced world of internetular reviewism, sometimes the hurry to get something out there trumps rigorous fact-checking. Never believe what you read, kids. Again, unless it’s the dude in the band…

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House of Broken Promises Put the Useless to Work

Posted in Reviews on September 2nd, 2009 by JJ Koczan

There's the house.At the mountaintop of heavy metal clich?s (and quite a mountain it is) sits the mighty ?Formed from the ashes of.? It is the ultimate, beating out the many variations on ?shred? and any use of ?brutal? you can imagine. Imagine any (every) local band press release: ?Formed from the ashes of Three Bands You Never Heard, New Band X is totally shredding brutal?? and so forth. Happens all the time. So when you see it in the next paragraph, please feel free to wink back.

Formed from the ashes of Unida, Indio, CA, desert trio House of Broken Promises make their debut offering in the meaty riffs of Using the Useless (Small Stone), combining accessibility with desert fuzz and a raucous catchiness. At the helm is righteously-bearded guitarist Arthur Seay, and bassist Eddie Pasciencia‘s vocal delivery reminds of one-time Unida frontman John Garcia but comes on unhinged and confrontational where the former Kyuss/current Hermano singer was more controlled. The commonality is largely in using the gut as the launch point for their voices.

Seay?s guitar sounds downright huge from the start of ?Blister? and remains so for the rest of Using the Useless, but fortunately the bass of Plasciencia and Mike Cancino?s drumming are equally massive, so although the songs are clearly based around the riffs, the rhythm section mounts a considerable presence. Both Seay and Cancino contribute vocals as well. Hand-claps, gang shouts and a low in the mix female orgasm permeate ?Obey the Snake,? in the first demonstration of House of Broken Promises? commercial tendencies, which pop up again later on ?Torn,? where the central riff follows a progression similar to Corrosion of Conformity?s ?Shake Like You? while the vocals take a turn in the direction of Skid Row?s ?18 and Life.? If this song doesn?t end up in a video game somewhere, there?s no justice in the universe.

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