Quarterly Review: Total Fucking Destruction, Humulus, The River, Phantom Hound, Chang, The Dhaze, Lost Psychonaut, Liquido di Morte, Black Burned Blimp, Crimson Oak

Posted in Reviews on March 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’ve got a fresh cup of coffee and 50 records that need to be reviewed, so it must be time for… constant distractions! Oh, no, wait, sorry. It must be time for the Quarterly Review. Yeah, there it is. I know there’s a global-pandemic-sized elephant in the room as a backdrop for the Spring 2020 Quarterly Review, but it seems to me that’s all the more reason to proceed as much as possible. Not to feign normality like people aren’t suffering physically, emotionally, and/or financially, but to give those for whom music is a comfort an opportunity to find more of that comfort and, frankly, to do the same for myself. I’ve said many times I need this more than you do, and I do.

So, you know the drill. 10 records a day, Monday to Friday through this week, 50 when we’re done. As Christopher Pike says, let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Total Fucking Destruction, …To Be Alive at the End of the World

Total Fucking Destruction To Be Alive at the End of the World

The long-running experimentalist grind trio Total Fucking Destruction remain a sonic presence unto themselves. Their strikingly apropos fifth LP, …To Be Alive at the End of the World, begins with the five-minute psychedelic wash of its unrepentantly pretty, somewhat mournful title-track and ends with a performance-art take on “The Star Spangled Banner” that shifts into eight or so minutes of drone and minimalist noise before reemerging in manipulated form, vocalist/drummer Richard Hoak (also the odd bit of flute and ocarina), bassist/vocalist Ryan Moll and guitarist Pingdum filling the between space with the blasts and jangles of “A Demonstration of Power,” the maddening twists of “Attack of the Supervirus 1138” and other mini-bursts of unbridled aggression like “Stone Bomb,” “Doctor Butcher” and the outright conceptual genius of “Yelling at Velcro,” which, indeed, is just 20 or so seconds of yelling ahead of the arrival of the closer. In an alternate future, Total Fucking Destruction‘s work will be added to the Library of Congress. In this future, we’re boned.

Total Fucking Destruction on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records store

 

Humulus, The Deep

humulus the deep

For the six-song/51-minute The Deep, Italian three-piece Humulus somewhat depart the beer-rocking ways of 2017’s second LP, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (review here). Sure, the riff of “Gone Again” is pure Kyuss idolatry (not a complaint), and “Devil’s Peak (We Eventually Eluded Death)” brims with drunkard’s swagger, but factor in the wonderfully executed linear build that takes place across the eight-minute “Hajra,” the mellow emotionalism of the penultimate acoustic track “Lunar Queen,” and the two extended psychedelic bookends in opener “Into the Heart of the Volcano Sun” (14:48) and closer “Sanctuary III – The Deep” (14:59), and the narrative becomes decidedly more complex than just “they drink and play riffs.” These elements have been in Humulus‘ sound all along, but it’s plain to hear the band have actively worked to push themselves forward in scope, and the range suits them, the closer particularly filled with a theatricality that would seem to speak to further storytelling to come on subsequent releases. So be it. They called the album The Deep and have dived in accordingly.

Humulus on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

The River, Vessels into White Tides

The River Vessels into White Tides

An atmosphere of melancholy is quickly established on The River‘s third LP, Vessels into White Tides (on Nine Records), and for being the London four-piece’s first album 10 years, it takes place in a sense of unrushed melody, the band rolling out a morose feel born of but not directly aping the likes of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost as the vocals of guitarist Jenny Newton (also strings, percussion) — joined in the band by guitarist Christian Leitch, bassist Stephen Morrissey and drummer Jason Ludwig — make their presence felt soon in opener “Vessels,” which unfolds gracefully with a crash and rumble fading into the beginning of the subsequent “Into White” (15:01) with the four-minute string-laced “Open” and the 9:44 shifting-into-intensity “Passing” preceding closer “Tides,” which is duly rolling in its progression and offers a sweet bit of release, if wistful, from some of the more grueling moments before it, capping not with a distorted blowout, but with layers of strings reinforcing the folkish underpinning that’s been there all along, in even the most tonally or emotionally weighted stretches.

The River on Thee Facebooks

Nine Records store

 

Phantom Hound, Mountain Pass

Phantom Hound Mountain Pass

Mountain Pass, which begins with “The Northern Face,” ends with “The Southern Face” and along the way treks through its on-theme title-track and the speedier “You Don’t Know Death,” catchy “Thunder I Am” and fairly-enough bluesy “Devil Blues,” has its foundations in oldschool metal and punk, but is a decidedly rock-based offering. It’s the debut from Oakland’s Phantom Hound, and its eight component tracks make no attempt to mask their origins or coat their material in unnecessary pretense — they are what they are; the album is what it is. The three-piece dip into acoustics on the instrumental “Grace of an Angel,” which shifts with a cymbal wash into the lead guitar at the outset of the eight-minute title-track — the stomp of which is perhaps more evocative of the mountain than the passing, but still works — but even this isn’t so far removed from the straightforward purposes of “Irons in the Fire,” which stakes its claim to dead-ahead metal and rock, barely stopping along the way to ask what else you could possibly need.

Phantom Hound on Thee Facebooks

Phantom Hound on Bandcamp

 

Chang, Superlocomotodrive

chang superlocomotodrive

Munich-based trio Chang, with clear, modern production behind them, present their debut EP release with the 29-minute Superlocomotodrive, and though it’s short, one is left wondering what else they might need to consider it an album. What’s missing? You’ve got the let’s-jam-outta-here in the six-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Mescalin,” and plenty of gruff riffing to back that up in “Old Rusty Car” and the later title-track, with a bit of Oliveri-era Queens of the Stone Age edge in the latter to boot, plus some psychedelic lead work in “Sterne,” some particularly German quirk in “Bottle Beach” and a massive buildup in tension in the finale “Bombs Whisper” that seems to arrive at its moment of payoff only to instead cut to silence and purposefully leave the listener hanging — an especially bold move for a first release. Yeah, it’s under half an hour long, but so what? The heavy rock terrain Chang are working in is familiar enough — right down to the less-than-P.C. lyrics of “Old Rusty Car” — but there’s no sense that Superlocomotodrive wants to be something it isn’t. It’s heavy rock celebrating heavy rock.

Chang on Thee Facebooks

Chang on Bandcamp

 

The Dhaze, Deaf Dumb Blind

the dhaze deaf dumb blind

Though the grunge influence in the vocals of guitarist Simone Pennucci speak to more of a hard-rocking kind of sound, the basis of The Dhaze‘s sprawl across their ambitious 53-minute Sound Effect Records debut album, Deaf Dumb Blind, is more in line with progressive metal and heavy psychedelia. Bassist Vincenzo La Tegola backs Pennucci on vocals and locks in fluid mid-tempo grooves with drummer Lorenzo Manna, and makes a highlight of the low end in “Death Walks with Me” ahead of the titular trilogy, presented in the order of “Deaf,” “Blind” and “Dumb,” which flow together as one piece thanks in no small part to the synth work added by La Tegola and Pennucci together. Obviously comfortable in longer-form stretches like “Death Walks with Me” or the earlier “Neurosis,” both of which top nine minutes, the Napoli trio bring a fervent sense of variety to their work while leaving themselves open to future growth in terms of sound and playing with the balance between elements they establish here.

The Dhaze on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records store

 

Lost Psychonaut, Lost Psychonaut

Lost Psychonaut Lost Psychonaut

Hailing — because metal bands hail, to be sure — from the Pittsburgh area, newcomers Lost Psychonaut boast in their ranks two former members of sludgers Vulture in guitarist/vocalist Justin Erb and bassist
Garrett Twardesky, who, together with drummer Tristan Triggs, run through a debut LP made up of five tracks that skirt the line between groove metal and heavy rock, tapping-like-flowing-kegs influences from the likes of ’90s-era C.O.C. and others such burl-laced groovers. Tales of day-to-day struggles make a fitting enough backdrop to the riff-led proceedings, which commence with the prior-issued single “My Time” and roll-groove their way into a duo of longer cuts at the end in “Restitution Day” (8:46) and “On a Down” (7:44). Frankly, any mention of the word “Down” at all in a song that feels so outwardly “buried in smoke” can hardly be coincidental, but that nod is well earned. With a couple years behind them, they know what they’re going for in this initial batch of songs, and the clearheaded nature of their approach only gives their songwriting more of a sense of command. There’s growth to be undertaken, but nothing to say they can’t get there.

Lost Psychonaut on Thee Facebooks

Lost Psychonaut on Bandcamp

 

Liquido di Morte, IIII

liquido di morte iiii

I suppose you could, if so inclined, live up to Liquido di Morte‘s slogan, “We play music to take drugs to,” but you’d be shorting yourself on the experience of a lucid listen to their third long-player IIII. Issued in limited handmade packaging by the band, the Milan instrumentalists offer a stylistic take across the late-2019 five-tracker that stands somewhere between heavy post-rock and post-metal, but in that incorporates no shortage of thoughtful psychedelic meditations and even some kraut and space rock vibes. The primary impact is atmospheric, but there’s diversity in their approach such that the centerpiece “Tramonto Nucleare” begins cosmic, or maybe cataclysmic, and ends with an almost serene roll into the floating guitar at the outset of the subsequent “Rebus (6,5),” which is the longest inclusion at 13:40 and an encompassing, hypnotic srpawl that, whether you take drugs or not, seems destined to commune with expanded or expanding minds. The front-to-back journey ends with “The Fattening,” a cinematic run of synth after which a slaughter feels almost inevitable, even if it arrives as silence.

Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks

Liquido di Morte on Bandcamp

 

Black Burned Blimp, Crash Overdrive

Black Burned Blimp Crash Overdrive

Bonus points to Netherlands four-piece Black Burned Blimp for including song titles like “What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Weirder” and “The Good, the Bad and the Fucking Horrific” and, at the start of “Desert Wizard,” the sample from Trailer Park Boys wherein Mr. Lahey declares, “I am the liquor” on their debut LP, Crash Overdrive. Native to a heavy rock legacy that includes acts like 13eaver, 35007, Astrosoniq and Celestial Season, among many others, the band hint toward melodic complexity while remaining focused on raw energy in their songwriting, such that even the drumless, harmonized and minute-long “Flock” seems to seethe with unstated tension for “Robo Erectus,” which follows, to pay off. It does, though perhaps with less of a tempo kick than one might expect — certainly less than the careening “The Good, the Bad and the Fucking Horrific” a few tracks later — but somehow, no matter what speed they’re actually playing, Black Burned Blimp seem to make it sound fast. Vitality will do that.

Black Burned Blimp on Thee Facebooks

Black Burned Blimp on Bandcamp

 

Crimson Oak, Crimson Oak

crimson oak crimson oak

Though their arrival comes amid a German heavy rock underground that’s nothing if not well populated, Fulda-based five-piece Crimson Oak present with their self-titled debut long-player a stylistic take that’s both modern and genuine sounding, finding solid ground in well-crafted songs drawing more from ’90s-era heavy and punk in “Danger Time,” which follows the contemplative “Of My Youth,” the bulk of what surrounds expressing a similar level of self-awareness, up to and including the nine-minute side B opener “Brother of Sleep,” which sets psychedelic guitar against some of the album’s biggest riffs (and melodies). There’s middle ground to be had in cuts like “Displace” and “Sunset Embrace” still to come and “Fulda Gap” earlier, but Crimson Oak seem to touch that middle ground mostly en route to whichever end of the spectrum next piques their interest. At seven songs and 42 minutes, it’s not an insubstantial LP, but they hold their own with confidence and a poise that speaks to the fact that some of this material showed up on prior EPs. That experience with it shows but does not hold the band or songs back.

Crimson Oak on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Oak on Bandcamp

 

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Gaupa Releasing Feberdröm April 3; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

gaupa

The world may be a chaostream of virus panic and canceled shows, tours and festivals, but album releases seem at least to be proceeding on some level, and I don’t know about you, but hell, I appreciate the consistency. Take what I can get at this point. Swedish heavy rockers Gaupa issued their 2018 self-titled debut EP through Kozmik Artifactz last year and they’ll reportedly follow-up in a couple weeks with Feberdröm, their first full-length. Sadly, they seem to have an entire tour planned around the release — I didn’t see a note that they’d canceled it, but neither am I posting the dates because, well… — but one hopes they’ll either be able to do at least some of the shows or re-book it for sometime after our species has recovered from whatever the hell it ultimately needs to recover from when all of these known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns shake out.

Speaking of shaking out, Gaupa have a new song streaming now that’s got “shooting blanks” in its title, so hey, trigger warning for yours truly, amirite? That’s always a fun place to go mentally. Like, every day of my life.

Album’s out April 3, as you can apparently see on the cover art:

gaupa Feberdröm

Gaupa “Feberdröm” Out 3rd April on Kozmik Artifactz

Swedish stoner act GAUPA continue breaking new ground with their unique blend of doom, psychedelia and folk. Hot on the tail of their highly revered self-titled debut, their new full length album ‘Feberdröm’ will not disappointed fans old and new. Eight killer new songs containing forceful tempos, as well as epic soundscapes coloured with pitch-black melancholy.

Feberdröm will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl & CD on the 3rd of April on Kozmik Artifactz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high
performance vinyl at
Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Vakuum
2. Where Emperors Grow
3. Hjulet
4. Grycksbo Gånglåt
5. Mjölksyra
6. Alfahonan (Shooting Blanks)
7. Totemdjur
8. Klarvaken

Gaupa are:
Emma Näslund – Vocals
David Rosberg – Guitars
Daniel Nygren – Guitars
Erik Jerka Sävström – Bass
Jimmy Hurtig – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/gaupaband/
https://www.instagram.com/gaupaband/
https://gaupaband.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Gaupa, “Alfahonan (Shooting Blanks)”

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Lord Loud Announce Timid Beast out Sept. 4; Premiere Title-Track

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

lord loud

Once upon a time, ages ago, before the digital media three-month promotional cycle took hold as the standard form for how albums came to public light, every now and then you’d get a genuine early listen. Maybe a song would be on the radio, or maybe a cassingle would show up to tease something coming later on, whatever it might be. As L.A. heavy garage-fuzzer duo Lord Loud present the announcement that their second album, Timid Beast (cover art on left below), will be released on Sept. 4 through King Volume and Kozmik Artifactz, think of their unveiling the title-track (artwork on right below) as an early listen that portends good things for later this year.

It’s a heads up, ready to catch your ear so that maybe you’ll take the meantime to reintroduce yourself to 2017’s cucumber-cool debut, Passé Paranoia (review here), and in its sun-caked tone and rampant sense of melody and jangle it represents the album well. You can see from the tracklisting below that “Timid Beast” at 3:22 is one of the longer songs on the album that shares its name — though two cuts do reach the four-minute mark — but it still keeps with the two-piece’s garage traditionalism and straight-ahead riffy right-on-itude.

We’re half a year out — two days notwithstanding — from the release, so I’m going to leave it there for now and give the standard “more to come.” Preorders? Yeah, probably at some point. Most importantly though, you can hear the song at the bottom of the post.

Enjoy the early listen and worry about the rest later:

Lord Loud – Timid Beast

The album is called “Timid Beast”, and it drops Sept. 4th (available on digital and custom-color vinyl) out through King Volume Records/Kozmik Artifactz in Europe. This is our second LP, following up “Passé Paranoia”, with the same lineup (Mike Feld on drums/perc, Chris Allison on vox/guitars/other instruments). We recorded/mixed everything ourselves, and are juiced to get these slabs out into the world.

Chris Allison on “Timid Beast”:

“Timid Beast” was recorded almost a year ago. The song’s roots lied in a growing separation that I felt. Social, political, economic, technological. A lot of people have felt it, and have been fighting back or lashing out a bit to try to give themselves some agency in the path we’re on. In that struggle, I caught myself changing in ways I didn’t like. Things like cynicism were let to creep in amongst some of the other changes I was trying to make. As time passes, the rooted sentiment seems to be amplifying. This song will hopefully be one I can look back to constantly question myself: am I fighting the beast or am I becoming the beast.

Tracklisting:
1. Dirty Seeds 03:25
2. Without You 03:12
3. Lady Sunday 02:18
4. Timid Beast 03:22
5. Imaginary 04:16
6. The River 03:07
7. Wherewithal 02:49
8. Glances 03:12
9. Labyrinth 02:55
10. Labyrinth Coda 01:12
11. Turbulence 04:04

Lord Loud are:
Chris Allison – vocals, guitar, etc.
Mike Feld – drums, percussion

http://facebook.com/lordloud
https://www.instagram.com/lordloudmusic/
https://lordloudmusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/kingvolumerecords
http://www.kingvolumerecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.kingvolumerecords.limitedrun.com
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Lord Loud, “Timid Beast” track premiere

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Humulus Announce Spring Tour Dates & Post “Gone Again” Video; The Deep out Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

humulus

You can still preorder Humulus‘ new album, The Deep, but the fact that it is out as of tomorrow, Feb. 28, might actually make it more of an “order” without the “pre-” part — at least in terms of shipping. Either way, it’s not too late. The Italian rockers-of-riff-and-beer have been steadily building toward the release over the last couple weeks, first unveiling a video for the track “Gone Again” as taken from the still-technically-upcoming LP and then just a few days ago putting out word that this Spring they’ll take their message to the people directly, playing mostly in Germany — which seems to be how it goes these days for a lot of bands; I guess you go where the good shows are, but I have to think poor Latvia is getting the shaft, not to mention the Iberian peninsula or Scandinavia up north, or I guess all those parts of Europe that aren’t Germany — but with a couple shows in Switzerland as well. Fair enough. One doubts it’ll be the last round of shows Humulus undertake to support the record anyhow.

Based in Brescia, in Italy, the trio have a release party scheduled for March 7 close to home, and their ties with independent brewery Elav will apparently result in some show there, unless they’re just going drinking — which is possible — but you can find out about all that kind of whatnot on the social medias. The tour dates and that preorder/order link follow here, with the “Gone Again” video at the bottom:

humulus the deep tour

HUMULUS – THE DEEP – 2020 SPRING TOUR

16.04.2020 – CH Basel, Sommercasino Basel
17.04.2020 – CH Winterthur, Gaswerk
18.04.2020- DE Karlsruhe, P8
19.04.2020- DE Leipzig, Ost-Passage Theater
20.04.2020 – DE Frankfurt am Main, Nachtleben Frankfurt
21.04.2020 – DE Dresden, Chemiefabrik
22.04.2020 – DE Berlin, Toast Hawaii
23.04.2020- DE Köln, Mongogo Cologne
24.04.2020- DE Münster, RARE GUITAR
25.04.2020 -DE Jena, Kulturbahnhof Jena

Artwork by ROBS -Dotwork Tattoo-

Massimiliano Boventi on The Deep release:

We are super excited about the release of the new LP. We are very satisfied about the sound of the record and the guys from our label Kozmik Artifactz are doing an amazing job with this new release. The most important thing for us is to find the good combination with the new and the old songs to do the best live show possible. So we are working hard in the rehearsal room for arrive at this point.

When we write new songs we always try something new… we need this to not get bored. So every time we really don’t know how our fanbase can react to the new elements, the new sound etc. This is our way and we hope to satisfy old and new listeners’ expectations.

‘The Deep’ Pre-Order: https://bit.ly/3bV8Itu

Humulus are:
Andrea Van Cleef – Guitar/Vocals
Giorgio – Bass
Massimiliano – Drums

www.facebook.com/humulusband
www.humulus.bandcamp.com
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Humulus, “Gone Again” official video

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Child Post New Single “Free & Humble”; Announce Soul Merda LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

child

Lest one be accused of burying the lede, heavy blues rockers Child are doing dates in their native Australia this week with UK garage-doom forerunners Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. That’s a damn good show, but it’s not a show I’ll be fortunate enough to see, so you’ll pardon me if my self-involved self is more taken with the release of the new single “Free and Humble” from the Melbourne-based trio and the accompanying word of a third long-player, Soul Merda, of which it’s serving as a first four-minute taste. Sign me right up, and if you don’t know why immediately, just listen to the track.

Child haven’t brought out anything but classic-groove right-on-ness since their 2013 self-titled (discussed here), and if you caught wind of that LP, its 2016 follow-up, Blueside (review here), or their 2018’s I EP (review here), you already know that fact well. I’ll assume you have, and therefore turn you over as quickly as possible to the info and the new song, with the thought that, if you saw the headline that said “new Child track,” you’re probably not reading this shit anyway. And fair enough.

So here you go:

child free and humble

CHILD – Free & Humble

The wait is over! Australia’s premier heavy blues act CHILD have surprised us with the first single titled “Free and Humble” from their much anticipated third LP “Soul Merda”. The band have been on a short break since September 2019 and have announced that this album “will be the last from the CHILD you know”. It is not known whether this means the band is expanding, changing direction creatively or returning to the mothership. We do know that this is the beginning of an exciting new path for the band and listeners alike. Remember to stay “Free and Humble.”

Recorded to 2 inch tape by Nao Anzai at Head Gap Studios, Preston Victoria
Mixed and Mastered by Nao Anzai at Rolling Stock Studios, Collingwood Victoria.

“Ball and Chain” artwork by Les Elefant

CHILD Live with UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS:
Feb. 28 The Brightside Brisbane
Mar. 01 Factory Theatre Sydney
Mar. 03 Max Watts Melbourne
Mar. 04 The Gov Adelaide

CHILD is:
Mathias Northway – Vocals/Guitar
Michael Lowe – Drums/Percussion
Danny Smith – Bass Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/childtheband
https://www.instagram.com/childtheband/
http://www.childtheband.com
https://childtheband.bandcamp.com
https://www.youtube.com/childtheband
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/artist/child/

Child, “Free and Humble”

Child, I EP (2018)

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Six Dumb Questions & Video Premiere: Hair of the Dog Talk About It’s Just a Ride

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on February 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

hair of the dog

Hair of the Dog are rockers, so perhaps unsurprisingly, their new song rocks. Their fourth album — which was given the working title of Vol. IV but has in the end been dubbed It’s Just a Ride — is due in the coming months for release through Kozmik Artifactz as the follow-up to 2017’s This World Turns (review here), and the progression the Edinburgh-based three-piece have undertaken in the last couple years is evident in the fuzzy riffs and melodies of the title-track, which balance an insistent rhythm off the vocal float from guitarist Adam Holt. That dynamic would seem to be particularly captured in the six-plus minutes of “It’s Just a Ride” as Adam and drummer Jon Holt continue to bring the sonic dynamic they’ve forged since they were children to fruition in songs only further fleshed out with the right-on bass work of Iain Thomson. I haven’t heard the entirety of It’s Just a Ride as yet, so can’t speak to how the song that shares its name might interact with the material around it, but if the underlying message of the title is maybe to take it easy and not worry about shit you can’t control, well, I’m more than willing to roll with that.

In the video, we see Hair of the Dog, well, rocking. They rock while rocking out, they rock while buttering bread, they rock in the studio with Graeme Young while making the album, the jam room, and while traveling in various vehicles, from tour vans tohair of the dog its just a ride trains and planes. They rock having beers in airports, looking like they’re not sure where they’re headed next, and, presumably, waiting to get on stage and rock. Their shot-on-phone chronicles make welcome fodder alongside their actually performing the song in the rehearsal space, and their travels supporting This World Turns are represented — including some perhaps ill-advised drinking from the fountains of Tilburg, the Netherlands, during their stop at Roadburn Festival — and while if I’m not mistaken some of this footage has been seen before, the new context is obviously an appeal unto itself. That is to say, you’re getting a new song here, so quit complaining. It’s just a ride anyhow, or so said famous Cynical Anti-Establishment White Guy™ Bill Hicks, which I didn’t actually know until I read Adam Holt‘s answers to the interview questions below. See? This is how you learn things. You ask.

That important life-lesson aside, you should know that It’s Just a Ride has indeed been on a voyage headed toward its release for more than a year. While I’m not entirely certain what’s been behind the delay beyond the busy schedule of Kozmik Artifactz and perhaps that of the band as well, one knows from past experience that well-made heavy rock never gets stale, and as it happens, Hair of the Dog specialize in precisely that. I’ll post the exact release date when I have it, but given their scheduling of shows in March and over the early part of the summer, the target would seem to be somewhere in Springtime. Perfect.

Please enjoy the following video premiere and Six Dumb Questions:

Hair of the Dog, “It’s Just a Ride” official video premiere

Six Dumb Questions with Adam Holt of Hair of the Dog

Alright, let’s dive in. The album’s done, in the can. What can you tell me about it? What’s the plan for release? How do the songs compare to This World Turns? Is there anything you’re trying to do differently this time out, or is it just a matter of continuing on the path?

We wanted to take a stripped back DIY approach with It’s Just a Ride. Our debut record, which ultimately lead to us being signed to Kozmik Artifactz and started this incredible ride, was much in that same vein. With this new record, the only help we had was with the recording, for which we headed back to Graeme Young of Chamber Studios here in Edinburgh. The production, mixing, artwork, promo photos and the video were all done by the three of us. This allowed us to ensure the final record was 100 percent our vision.

The other main difference with It’s Just a Ride, was that we wanted to include more of our less obvious influences into the mix. As children we would jam songs by Zeppelin, Hendrix and other bands of that era, these influences are quite apparent in our previous records. However, that was during the late ’90s/early ’00s and we were also big fans of bands such as Rage Against The Machine, The Deftones and Pantera. So the idea for this record was to bring more of the latter influences forward in the sound and keep just the vocals harking back to our more classic rock based influences.

The record was supposed to come out late 2019, but with pressing plant complications regarding the vinyl, we were forced to push this back to early 2020. However, this will work out well as we have been booked for several prominent UK festivals such as Hammerfest, Riffolution and Stonebaked Festival, which will give us a chance to air this new material.

Tell me about “It’s Just a Ride.” It’s the first audio you’re unveiling from the record, so how does it speak to what the rest does in music and theme? What are we seeing in the video?

The record is [also] called It’s Just a Ride which I’m sure many will know is a Bill Hicks quote. This is a mantra of sort that we as a band try to live our lives. With This World Turns the theme was more of a personal reflection of our own lives at that point and how no matter what we’re faced with “life goes on.” This time around, with the world around us in much more dark and uncertain times, I think it’s important that we all stop now and again to remind ourselves that “This is just a ride” – when all is said and done, did you make your ride count?

The video itself is just a homage of our ride as a band, the footage used is various clips from our time as a band from recording records and hanging out, to travelling to places such as Roadburn and other places we’ve played. It’s quite a personal video in that way, like a home-movie that we’ll be able to look back on and show our own children.

How was recording this time out? Did you go into it with any specific sound in mind, or was it just a matter of getting the songs to tape?

As previously touched upon, we went back into Chamber Studios here in Edinburgh with Graeme Young who has recorded all of our records. Graeme is one of Scotland’s top recording engineers, so we knew we’d get a solid recording as a foundation to work on. As always, we record all the music live in the one room, as we would when jamming in our practice space. From there, we took the recordings to my own home studio, where we were able to experiment and indulge without the restrictions of time and budget.

How prepared are you guys when you go in to record? Are the songs absolutely final, or is there some room for improv and rounding things out during the recording process?

We’re always 100 percent ready to record, studios cost a lot of money, so you can’t be wasting time when you are an underground band with limited budget. The songs structures are all final when it comes to hitting record, so the way to think of it is that we lay the foundations down in those first takes. Then we listen back and that’s usually when the music starts to speak to you, you start to hear little counter melodies and harmonies that weren’t there originally – so you start to decorate, shape and bring the whole thing together.

As mentioned, we took the recordings to my own home studio to mix, so we had a lot more time with this record to really go to town with layering the guitars and vocal tracks; as well as adding in different instruments and sounds – one track on the record has a cello solo!

I should also mention that never have lyrics when we come to record. This comes much later in the process for me. Once the mixes are done, I’ll take them into my car when I drive or on my phone to listen to as I walk my dogs, and again I’ll start to hear the melodies and words that the music is brings out of me.

When were the new songs actually written? You toured in Europe for This World Turns. Did that have any effect on the band going into making It’s Just a Ride?

I think we had the beginnings of a few songs as we were waiting for This World Turns to even come out! Once a record is sent off to the label we usually start writing again. We’ve been playing together now for over 15 years, so we’re very in tune with one another, writing new music has never been a problem – even a fun jam during a soundcheck can end up as something we’ll work into a song.

Something we did differently this time though was to go back to our original practice space – which was a summerhouse at Iain’s parents house up in the highlands of Scotland. That was Summer 2018, we took a long weekend off and travelled up. It was a great experience that transported us back to our youth. We just stayed up all night, drinking, jamming and having a laugh; and by the Sunday we had the material for the new record. We documented the whole process in our video diary’s which can be found on our YouTube channel.

When you tour and play with other bands I think it only motivates you more to get back home and start working on some new material. You subconsciously pick up little nuances from other sounds that you liked and those all become part of your make up as a band. With regards to It’s Just a Ride, what we took away from the This World Turns cycle, was simply that we wanted to make things a bit heavier!

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We’ll be playing a string of UK dates in promotion of the record, starting with Hammerfest 2020 in March, then Riffolution Festival and Stonedbaked Festival – we look forward to playing these new songs to our UK fans, with potential European dates to be added.

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Review & Track Premiere: The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The Heavy Eyes Love Like Machines

[Click play above to stream ‘Late Night’ from The Heavy Eyes’ Love Like Machines, out March 27 on Kozmik Artifactz. Preorders available here.]

It’s been quite a first decade for the ostensibly Memphis-based four-piece The Heavy Eyes, whose members actually reside at this point in different states and who careen through the riffs of their fourth long-player, Love Like Machines, with a sans-chicanery fluidity that totally undercuts that distance. By the time they got around to their last album, 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), the then-trio had refined their approach to a remarkable degree, building off the methods and the successes of 2012’s Maera and 2011’s Heavy Eyes, as well as concurrent EPs and other short digital offerings, had toured to support their work and, crucially, had found an audience hungry for more.

And though they took part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ tribute to Jimi Hendrix (review here), also in 2015, and issued Live in Memphis (review here) in 2018, there’s no question that the five-year break between their third and fourth full-lengths changes the context in which Love Like Machines arrives. But fair enough. The band itself has also changed, bringing in longtime engineer Matthew Qualls — who has helmed each of their albums, including this one — on guitar and backing vocals as a fourth full-time member of the band alongside vocalist/guitarist Tripp Shumake, bassist Wally Anderson and drummer Eric Garcia, and recommitting themselves to the prospect of recording and touring as The Heavy Eyes.

Their sonic identity remains based around their songwriting, and though Qualls and Garcia both add percussion here and there, Shumake blends acoustic and electric guitar on opener “Anabasis,” and the later pair of “Bright Light” and the especially catchy fuzzer “A Cat Named Haku” dig into highlight low end and drum compression, the overarching impression Love Like Machines makes — the album’s title line delivered in side A’s “Late Night” — is one that can’t help but be considered straightforward with such a focus on structure and such tightness of their performance. The grooves swing and aren’t shy about it, and Shumake‘s vocals and Southern-tinged lyrical patterns can call to mind ClutchAll Them Witches and Valley of the Sun at any given moment — and that’s before you get to the hyper-Queens of the Stone Age vibes of the penultimate “Vera Cruz” (with guest piano by Carmen Fowlkes) — but if The Heavy Eyes are sending a message in this sharp-dressed 10-track/34-minute outing, it’s that they’re getting down to business.

I don’t know whether they’re feeling the weight of the five years it’s taken to manifest their fourth album or what, but beneath the right-on fuzz in the guitars, the good-times hooks of “Made for the Age” and “The Profession,” and the half-intro purpose “Anabasis” serves with its acoustic/electric blend, there’s a strong sense of purpose behind the songs on Love Like Machines, and an audience engagement that comes across as being as far from coincidental as you can get. These songs, written in parts exchanged digitally over state lines and recorded in more than one session with Qualls and guest guitar appearances from Justin Toland of Dirty Streets on “God Damn Wolf Man” and Justin Tracy, who also appeared on Live in Memphis, on “The Profession.”

the heavy eyes

The latter is of particular note as regards the idea of purpose in what The Heavy Eyes are doing on Love Like Machines, since the profession in question — at least somewhat contrary to where one’s mind might go in associating the title — is rock and roll itself, and that song is nothing if not an example of the band’s pro-shop presentation, crisp and assured in its delivery and interesting to the ear without a hint of indulgence on the part of its creators. Even “Hand of Bear,” which might earn a sideways glance for a verse line like, “Copper-color skin, so you’d best beware,” in recounting a story on a Native American theme, is maddeningly catchy — “Whoa, yeah yeah/Guess he earned his name as the Hand of Bear” becomes a signature hook, backing vocals and all.

It is not necessarily a revolutionary approach that The Heavy Eyes are taking, but neither are they directing themselves to the tenets of genre, instead shaping these to suit the needs of their songwriting. Craft is primary. “Made for the Age” is the longest inclusion at 4:51, and no other song on Love Like Machines even touches four minutes (“Vera Cruz” lists at 3:59), with “Late Night,” “God Damn Wolf Man” and “The Profession” under three. Yet none of these songs or the closer “Idle Hands” at 3:09 lack character or identity.

They are deceptively rich in their mix and able to shift in meter from one to the next while maintaining an overarching flow to the whole that gives the finale a due feeling of spaciousness after the departure of very-Cali departure of “Vera Cruz” and the standout choruses in “The Profession” and “A Cat Named Haku” earlier, and the deeper one digs into the proceedings, the more nuance one is likely to find even in songs that seem so straightforward in their initial purpose. Ultimately, questions of whether or not The Heavy Eyes will be able to gain back some of the momentum that the stretch since He Dreams of Lions may have taken away are secondary.

What matters here, as Love Like Machines expresses so plainly, are the songs themselves and the energy the band have put into constructing and recording them. They leave no question as to who they are as a band or what they want to be doing, and with a decade behind them, they stand mature in their approach but still hungry-seeming, still reaching out to the crowd in front of an imagined stage, still inviting everyone to take a step forward. It would be a hard invite to refuse, frankly, and if one thinks of Love Like Machines as a live set, then it’s pretty clear The Heavy Eyes put on a hell of a show. They’re doing their part here. It’s up to the listener now to get on board, but The Heavy Eyes have only made it as easy and as appealing as possible to do so. That’s all they can do. Well, that and tour like bastards.

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The Heavy Eyes Announce March 27 Release for Love Like Machines

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the heavy eyes

Note that there would be a big, big difference if Memphis heavy rockers The Heavy Eyes had titled their impending LP — which is called Love Like Machines and out March 27 on Kozmik Artifactz — with the first and second words reversed. It’s a more than fine line between “love like machines” and “like love machines.” Kudos to the four-piece for coming down on the correct side of that line.

It raised an eyebrow when The Heavy Eyes were among the first announcements for Keep it Low 2020 that there were clearly stirrings from the band and more in the works. First of all, that’s a Sound of Liberation fest, which means it’s probably not the only one they’ll play — Up in Smoke and Desertfest Belgium are both possibilities, and of course surrounding tour dates the amount of which depends on how long they’ll be over there. Second, if they’re going to make the trip, well, their last release was the 2018 live album, Live in Memphis (review here), and that was cool, but it’s not really an occasion two years later for a European tour. Their last studio outing was 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), so between those factors, yeah, a new studio LP didn’t seem like an unreasonable expectation either.

If you wonder why I post every fest announcement that comes my way, it’s because CONTEXT.

So here we are, with Love Like Machines coming out in March. The PR wire has album details and there’s a song streaming at the bottom of this post:

the heavy eyes love machines

THE HEAVY EYES: Memphis Psychedelic Blues Rock Unit To Release Love Like Machines Full-Length March 27th Via Kozmik Artifactz; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Memphis-based psychedelic blues rock veterans, THE HEAVY EYES, will release their long-awaited new full-length, Love Like Machines, March 27th via Kozmik Artifactz.

Their fourth full-length and first new offering since 2015’s critically lauded He Dreams Of Lions, THE HEAVY EYES continues to deliver their fuzzed out, bluesy, hypnotic riffs, this time with the addition of long-time recording engineer, Matthew Qualls, as second guitarist. Adding a new layer of depth to their groove, Qualls — who’s worked side-by-side with THE HEAVY EYES for many years and has performed with them live in the past — enabled the band to collaborate in a different way exploring new song structures, tones, and attaining a bigger sound overall without stripping any of the grittiness and love of ’60s and ’70s rock that has shaped their sound since inception.

Despite the rabid reception of their first three albums however, Love Like Machines almost never existed. In 2017, the band was put on pause, with each member living in a different state. Spread across the Southwest and Midwest, there were new jobs, new cities, a marriage, and even a kidney disease diagnosis. In short, there was every indication that the pause might become permanent. But by 2019, THE HEAVY EYES had found a second wind and was actively working on new material, exchanging beats, licks, and lyrics long-distance. After two bouts of recording, the record is here, five years in the making.

The ten-track Love Like Machines was produced by Qualls in New Mexico and Memphis and comes shrouded in the kaleidoscopic cover art of Emil Orth.

Love Like Machines will by released digitally by the band with Kozmik Artifactz handling the vinyl edition this spring. In advance of its release, the band is pleased to unveil first album teaser “The Profession.” From the opening roll of the drums to the rip-roaring fuzz of the chorus, THE HEAVY EYES delivers a walloping testament to their take-no-prisoners ethos.

Find Love Like Machines digital preorders at THIS LOCATION where “The Profession” can be streamed.

Love Like Machines Track Listing:
1. Anabasis
2. Made For The Age
3. Hand Of Bear
4. Late Night
5. God Damn Wolf Man
6. Bright Light
7. A Cat Named Haku
8. The Profession
9. Vera Cruz
10. Idle Hands

THE HEAVY EYES is currently booking a European tour for early October 2020 and will appear at Keep It Low Festival in München, Germany with more dates to be announced in the weeks to come.

THE HEAVY EYES Live:
10/09-10/2020 Keep It Low Festival – München, DE

THE HEAVY EYES:
Tripp Shumake – lead vocals, acoustic/electric guitar
Matthew Qualls – electric guitar, percussion, backing vocals
Wally Anderson – bass guitar
Eric Garcia – drums/percussion

Guests:
Justin Toland – guitar tracking, solo (“God Damn Wolf Man”)
Justin Tracy – guitar solo (“The Profession”)
Carmen Fowlkes – piano (“Vera Cruz”)

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The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines (2020)

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