Top 20 of 2010 #9: Yawning Man, Nomadic Pursuits

Posted in Features on December 16th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

When I interviewed Yawning Man guitarist/mastermind Gary Arce earlier this year, he told me that when he was first beginning to develop his tone it was the likes of Bauhaus and Lords of the New Church who were his principal points of inspiration. Listening to Yawning Man‘s latest studio effort, Nomadic Pursuits, it seems an unlikely source for such sonic sweetness, and let there be no question that Arce — one of the most central figures in the birth and growth of desert rock — has made the sound his own over the course of Yawning Man‘s decades together.

Nomadic Pursuits reunited Arce with bassist Mario Lalli (also of Fatso Jetson) and drummer Alfredo Hernandez (also formerly of Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age), and from front to back, it was one of the most complete and engaging atmospheres I heard all year. The album had texture for days. I remember taking it with me up to Vermont when I stayed there July into August, and it was like my fallback position. I must have listened to it every day at least once. “What’s for lunch?” Cheese and Yawning Man. Who could complain?

Of course, Arce is prolific as ever, and 2011 promises offerings from collaborative projects with Sons of Alpha Centauri (Yawning Sons) and Hotel Wrecking City Traders, plus there’s the new Big Scenic Nowhere project with Lalli and Fatso Jetson drummer Tony Tornay, and Arce is also rumored to have moved to Oregon and started working with new players there, so who the hell knows what’s coming next? Whatever it is, and whatever happens with Yawning Man from here on out, the appeal of Nomadic Pursuits is bound to last longer than just this one year.

Tags: , , , ,

Frydee Yawning Man

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 26th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

You know all those other Frydee posts the past couple months where all I did was bitch about how much I didn’t want to spend the weekend doing homework? None of them even compares to this weekend. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing the whole time. To help me find some Friday inner peace after a long work week (even one that was short by a day) is this clip of Yawning Man playing on the street in France. The song is “Blue Foam” from their excellent Nomadic Pursuits record, released earlier this year.

Speaking of excellent records released this year, can you believe it’s almost December? I’ve got a month-long “best of the year” countdown that’ll be starting next Wednesday and running through to New Year’s (holidays included), so definitely stick around for that. This coming week we’ll also wrap up November’s numbers, have an interview posted with Virginia doomly upstarts Cough, and I’ll have the Kings Destroy full-length, And the Rest Will Surely Perish, for sale on Tuesday. The Roareth sold 12 of the total 50 copies in the first 24 hours. Think we can top that?

And, who knows? Maybe that Electric Wizard CD will show up and I’ll finally get to review it. I gave in and ordered a copy from All That is Heavy, which I’m reasonably certain will be here before the one I bought direct from the label, and there were a couple other goodies in there as well, so I’m sure I’ll get a Buried Treasure post out of it one way or the other.

Good fun to come. Have a great weekend and be safe — and don’t forget — Kings Destroy is for sale on Tuesday!

Tags: , , ,

Yawning Man Interview with Gary Arce: The Intuitive Chemistry of the Desert

Posted in Features on September 3rd, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce doesn’t consider his long-running outfit a stoner rock band, but they’ve certainly inspired enough of them over the course of their time together. Their sound, and in particular his pastoral, spacious guitar tone, has launched a thousand riff-happy players on long and sometimes blatantly derivative careers, yet Yawning Man‘s own output has been limited over their over two decades together.

Thus, their 2010 album, Nomadic Pursuits (Cobraside Distribution) is all the more special. Not only does it mark a new beginning in Yawning Man for Arce — who has been plenty prolific outside the band in projects like Dark Tooth Encounter, Ten East and the stunning Yawning Sons — but it also reunites the guitarist with bassist Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson) and drummer Alfredo Hernandez (ex-Kyuss), and their chemistry together makes for one of the year’s most gorgeously woven albums. Stunning to realize, as Arce describes, how much of it was improvised.

When we spoke for the interview, Arce was recently returned from a Yawning Man European tour which Lalli had to sit out owing, as alluded to in the conversation, to health problems. Filling the bassist slot was Zach Slater, who by all accounts held the position as best could anyone other than Lalli himself. As the likes of Billy Cordell (Brant Bjork) have filled that role in the past, he’s in good company.

In the Q&A to follow, Arce discusses writing and recording Nomadic Pursuits, working with and without Lalli and Hernandez, future projects (including a second Yawning Sons release) and the unforeseeable source of inspiration for his signature guitar tone. Please enjoy.

Read more »

Tags: , , ,

Yawning Man Reach Out and Touch Some Sun

Posted in Reviews on July 15th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

With new releases by both Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson (both delivered via Cobraside Distribution), 2010 is shaping up to be a banner year for fans of true desert rock. As in, rock, from the desert. It doesn’t get much more so than the sweetly toned Yawning Man, whose latest album is the quizzically-titled Nomadic Pursuits. In what’s being billed as a “reunion lineup” boasting guitarist Gary Arce, bassist Mario Lalli (also guitar/vocals in Fatso Jetson) and drummer Alfredo Hernandez, the instrumental trio offer a glimpse into generator-party bliss, ringing out reverb into the open air as many bands try to do and almost nobody pulls off this well.

True, it’s been five years since Yawning Man put out the Rock Formations full-length and the Pot Head EP, which were compiled on vinyl in 2008’s Vista Point, but I for one am of the opinion that if Yawning Man happened every day it would lose some of the magic. Yeah, it would be cool to get a fresh batch of jams each year – I know I wouldn’t get tired of hearing Arce’s guitar tone, which if you want to get right down to it is more or less what launched the now-legendary Palm Desert scene those many years ago – but there’s something special about a release like Nomadic Pursuits. It doesn’t happen often, it serves a very specific purpose, and it feels special when you listen. Not every album does that.

And it’s not like we’ve been Arce-less. There was the killer Yawning Sons record last year in collaboration with the UK’s Sons of Alpha Centauri, and there was Dark Tooth Encounter and Arce’s contributions to Ten East and others that have at least somewhat filled a Yawning void. Nonetheless, once you hear the lively interaction between Arce, Lalli and Hernandez on “Far-off Adventure,” you’ll be forced to agree there’s nothing quite like the real deal. At 8:28, that’s the longest cut on Nomadic Pursuits, but not necessarily the most satisfying. The opener, “Camel Tow,” is warm enough to make me long for air conditioning, and as the jam is later revived and mutated on “Camel Tow Too,” it becomes something of a running theme throughout the album. A focal point, almost, but the music carries such a spontaneity and natural feel that to call something that feels like I’m saying it’s contrived, which would be grossly inaccurate.

Read more »

Tags: , , ,