Quarterly Review: Trippy Wicked, Dunbarrow, The Vintage Caravan, Zatokrev & Minsk, Owl Maker, Orbital Junction, Bourbon, Birnam Wood, Wytch Hazel, The Soulbreaker Company

Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

You know how this goes by now, right? Well, okay, except that because I skipped the Quarterly Review that I otherwise would’ve done in September (or, more likely, October), I’m doubling-up this time. 100 reviews instead of 50. Two full weeks of 10 albums per day. Will I survive? Yeah, probably. Will it be completely overwhelming? Already is. Thanks for asking.

I’ll save the summaries of the year that was for list-time, which is fast approaching, but consider the fact that there are well more than 100 albums I could include in this roundup emblematic of just how vibrant heavy rock and doom are in the US, EU, UK, Australia and elsewhere. It’s a universal thing, and accordingly, there’s a whole universe of it to explore. This is just a sampling.

But yeah, time’s a wastin’, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Stakes n Scale

trippy wicked stakes n scale

An acoustic EP from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight — who, let’s face it, were way ahead of the curve when it comes to the UK scene’s thing for long and ridiculous band names — is a considerable departure from where they were two years ago on their split/collaboration with GurT (review here), but those familiar with the band might recall their past penchant for the occasional unplugged cover recorded for YouTube. Chris West (also Crawling for Carrion, Glanville, etc.), who engineered the recording and plays guitar, and vocalist Peter Holland (also Elephant Tree) revamp Trippy Wicked‘s “Up the Stakes” from 2012’s Going Home (review here), and cover “Scale the Mountain” by Stubb, of which both were members when the song was written. Together, they make for a nine-minute showcase for the character in Holland‘s voice and the melodies and craft at root in both tracks, and while its arrival feels like kind of a one-off, it’s certainly no less welcome for that.

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Bandcamp

 

Dunbarrow, II

dunbarrow ii

The novelty of new bands playing through vintage gear in order to capture a heavy ’70s sound may have faded, but like all subgenres, as time goes on, the retro-ist style continues to shift and change as bands like Dunbarrow bring new character to established tenets. Their second LP for RidingEasy is aptly-titled II and sways between honoring the likes of Pentagram and acts like Witchcraft who’ve helped craft that band’s hindsight-founded legacy. Dunbarrow‘s noodly style, restrained rhythmic shove and ride-the-riff melody on “Weary Lady” and the foresty creep of “The Demon Within” capture the vibe well, the latter occurring in a second half of II populated with “The Wolf” and “Witches of the Woods Pt. II,” a sequel to the closer of their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) that here leads to the more severe roll of the finale, “On this Night,” emblematic of the changing character of the band even as it reaffirms in its tense midsection the roots from which they sprung.

Dunbarrow on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

The Vintage Caravan, Gateways

the vintage caravan gateways

With their third record and second for Nuclear Blast, Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan affirm not only their passion for the boogie of old on cuts like “The Way” and the strutting “Hidden Streams,” but secure a place as being worthy of the consideration they’ve been given to a degree by the wider Continental European heavy underground. They are strikingly mature in their approach for still being a relatively young band, and their albums have worked quickly to develop a character that is becoming more and more their own. They do the fests and they tour, and so on, but they seem to be engaged in building their listenership one pair of ears at a time. Having a metal-major label behind them hasn’t hurt their promotional cause, but frankly, they’re not as big as they should be for the level of work they’re doing, and even with songs like “Reset” and “Reflections” and the composed-strictly-for-vinyl-sounding closer “Tune Out” to their credit, they’re still largely a word of mouth band, especially in the US. Well, consider this your word of mouth. If you haven’t heard Gateways yet, you should get on that.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

 

Minsk & Zatokrev, Bigod

zatokrev minsk bigod

Post-metallic powerhouses Minsk and Zatokrev — both of whom hit their 15th anniversary last year — teamed up for a European tour this Fall. To mark the occasion, Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets celebrated with Bigod, a split with two tracks from each band arranged in alternating order — Minsk, then Zatokrev, etc. — intended to highlight the symmetry between them not just of circumstance and root influence in the Neurosis school of atmospheric sludge, but the fact that they share these commonalities despite their origins in Illinois and Switzerland, respectively. Each band opens with a longer track (double points) in Minsk‘s “Invoke/Revive” and Zatokrev‘s “Silent Gods,” each of which push past 13 minutes as likely at any moment to be pummeling as ambient, and follows with two shorter cuts, Minsk‘s “Salvatore” swelling theatrically from its minimalist beginnings while Zatokrev‘s “The Chalice and the Dagger” seems to explode from the foundation the prior band laid out. It must have been a hell of a tour, but whether you saw it or not, the split is a welcome conglomeration from two of post-metal’s strongest acts.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Zatokrev on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

Owl Maker, Sky Road

owl maker sky road

Self-recording guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, ex-Guerra, etc.) leads Connecticut-based three-piece Owl Maker through a complex thematic of Native American folklore and heavy metal classicism. The NWOBHM plays a strong role in his riffing style, but one of the two tracks included on the two-songer single Sky Road, “Owl City,” also veers into more extreme territory with a departure from clean vocals to harsher screaming. All told, it’s about eight minutes of music, but Sky Road nonetheless follows Owl Maker‘s earlier-2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), with an uptick in melodic presence in the vocals of Tuozzoli and bassist Jessie May and progression in the chemistry between the two of them and drummer Chris Anderson, and with the fluidity of their transitions between various styles of heavy, their scope seems only to be growing. To wit, “Sky Road” itself is only 3:42, but still demonstrates a clear-headed compositional method based around storytelling and a subtly encompassing range. Whether it’s early warning for what they do next or a conceptual one-off, its quick run seems just to be begging for a 7″ pressing.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Orbital Junction, Orbital Junction

Orbital Junction orbital junction

The Londonderground continues to produce acts ready and willing to worship at the altar of riffs. Orbital Junction‘s self-release debut EP makes an impression not only because of the markedly pro-shop production by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios and the cover art by SoloMacello, but the hooks to live up to those high standards. “6 ft. 2” follows opener “Space Highway” with a bit of dudely chestbeating — note: I don’t know how tall any of them actually are — but the swing of EP centerpiece “Devil’s Double” and the bounce of “Gypsy Queen” speak for the four-piece’s roots and appreciation of straightforward heavy, void of pretense and tapping into an easy mid-paced fluidity that slows up somewhat on closer “Pagan” without really losing the central groove of the offering overall. They’ll have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves over the longer term amongst London’s burl-fueled hordes, but their first outing shows their instincts headed in the right direction in terms of songwriting, performance and presentation.

Orbital Junction on Thee Facebooks

Orbital Junction on Bandcamp

 

Bourbon, Fuente Vieja

Bourbon Fuente Vieja

Crisp but warm in its tone and presentation, rife with melody and carrying a laid back spirit despite a fervent underlying groove — the bass on “El Sendero” rests well within gotta-hear-it territory — Spanish purveyors Bourbon emobody some of the best of post-Viaje a 800 Andalusian heavy rock and roll on their third LP, Fuente Vieja (on Spinda). Their fuzz makes its presence known early on “Si Véis La Luz, Corred” and continues as a running theme as tracks like “A Punto de Arder” and the side-A-capping title-cut grow increasingly progressive. There’s room for some shuffle, of course, as side B begins with “La Triste Realidad,” and the slower “Hacia el Sol” gracefully blends electrified wah and acoustic guitars beneath a well-timed standout vocal performance, but the highlight might be eight-minute closer “Destierro,” which seems to bring everything else under one roof while tapping into a poppier structure early — acoustics and electrics aligning effectively circa two minutes in — while providing the album with a graceful and fittingly organic-sounding finale.

Bourbon on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records webstore

 

Birnam Wood, Wicked Worlds

birnam wood wicked worlds

Birnam Wood don’t have time for bullshit, but they do have time for a bit of shenanigans. Thus the 1:44 surge of opener “Time of Purification” leads into the sample-laden roller groove of “Richard Dreyfuss” on their as-of-now-self-released Wicked Worlds, and the “Hole in the Sky”-style “Dunsinane” shifts into the more blown-out “Early Warning,” which, by the time its tectonic low end kicks in, is indeed something of a clarion. At seven-tracks/34-minutes, Wicked Worlds is somewhere between an EP and an LP, but I’d argue it as the latter with the flow from “Greenseer” into the massive “A Song for Jorklum” and the seven-minute finale “Return to Samarkand” making for a righteous side B, but either way, it’s a Boston-crafted assault of grit-tone and aggro doom that finds the band not overwhelmed by the heft of their own tones but able to move and manipulate them to serve the purposes of their songs. Those purposes, incidentally, are mostly about kicking ass. Which they do. Copiously.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn

Wytch Hazel II Soujorn

It would not seem to be a coincidence that UK self-aware four-piece Wytch Hazel — guitarists Conlin Hendra (also vocals) and Alex Haslam, bassist Matt Gatley and drummer Jack Spencer nod to Wishbone Ash‘s Argus with the cover of their second LP, II: Sojourn (on Bad Omen). They do a lot of that kind of nodding, with a sound culled from a valiant blend of classic progressive and early NWOBHM styles that makes the point of how closely related the two have always been. “The Devil is Here” starts out at a fervent gallop with just an underpinning of Thin Lizzy, while the later “See My Demons” shifts from its steady roll and rousing hook into an acoustic/electric break that seems to pull from Jethro Tull as much as Scorpions. At 10 tracks/45 minutes, they have plenty of time to flesh out their ideas, and they do precisely that, whether it’s the careful unfolding around the keys and acoustics of closer “Angel Take Me” or the over-the-top instrumental push of “Chorale” or the moodier “Wait on the Wind,” the wah solo of which is a highlight on its own. There are some burgeoning harmonies in Hendra‘s vocals, which is an impulse he should follow as it would only enhance the material, but after making their debut with 2016’s Prelude, II: Sojourn finds Wytch Hazel sounding comfortable and well established in their niche.

Wytch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light

the soulbreaker company sewed with light

Progressive, expansive and engaging, the sixth album from Spanish sextet The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light (on Underground Legends), taps into classically Floydian influences on songs like “The Word, the Blade” while still keeping a foot in heavy rock on the prior “Together,” and setting a quick course into a varied sonic persona via the seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Inner Dark.” Hypnotizing not necessarily with drift but with sheer willful exploration, The Soulbreaker Company work with a variety of key sounds and craft-minded ranging guitar in order to effect an atmosphere of thoughtful songwriting even in their most outwardly trippy moments. The sneering semi-psychedelic rock of “Avoid the Crash” and the more stripped-down roll of “Arrhythmia” (video premiere here) lead the way into closer “In the Beginning,” which marks yet another departure with its grandeur of string sounds and electronic beats leading to a chugging big finale. As with the bulk of The Soulbreaker Company‘s work, it requires an active ear, but Sewed with Light both encourages and well earns consideration as more than background noise.

The Soulbreaker Company on Thee Facebooks

Underground Legends on Bandcamp

 

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Electric Horsemen Announce Return After Seven Years; New Single Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric horsemen

Indeed, seven years. Seven years and a week, if you want to go by the last time I wrote about Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, sludge rockers Electric Horsemen. The occasion was a review of a split they had out with Count von Count (review here), and that was the last I heard from the offshoot of heavy rockers Black Cowgirl until a couple days ago. As it turns out, Electric Horsemen last month posted a single called “Milk Coma.” It was recorded back in 2008, but you can hear it below and it neatly encapsulates the density that was at root in their appeal way back when.

I don’t know where they’re actually at with new material — they say below there are plans to record “sometime this year” — but they’ve got a couple shows booked in Eastern PA next week with Backwoods Payback, and, well, it’s just kind of cool thinking they might get back to it, all hot pickled eggs and whatnot.

Confession time: I’ve never had a hot pickled egg. Not sure I could hang. Mostly these days I eat protein bars and chicken caesar salads without croutons. Rock and roll, y’all.

The band sent this down the PR wire:

electric horsemen logo

Electric Horsemen – Back from Hiatus

Lancaster County Pennsylvania’s Electric Horsemen is ending a 7 year hiatus starting with two shows in February with fellow Pennsylvanians and friends Backwoods Payback. The band founded in 2006 is hoping to get back in the studio to record new material sometime this year. The lineup includes 2 current and 1 former member of Black Cowgirl, former bassist Chris Casse, current bassist Wyatt Kring and vocalist/guitarist Ben McGuire as well as original Electric Horsemen drummer Barry Lupacckino.

The band made a reputation for themselves in the myspace era for playing feedback-laden Crowbar influenced-riffs and being the heaviest band to ever come from Lancaster County PA (there was no competition) as well as having the market cornered in hot pickled egg sales. They are back in action, heavier than ever and filling jars with hot pickled eggs in preparation for their return!

February 17 – The Alternative Gallery (Allentown PA) Electric Horsemen w/Backwoods Payback and more!
February 18 – REX’s (West Chester PA) Electric Horsemen w/Backwoods Payback and more!

https://www.facebook.com/electrichorsemen/
https://electrichorsemen.bandcamp.com/track/milk-coma
https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback/

Electric Horsemen, “Milk Coma” (2017)

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Black Cowgirl Release New Demo Track “The Traveler”

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

From the description Black Cowgirl sent down the PR wire, it sounds like a nightmare scenario that led them to release “The Traveler” as a pay-what-you-want download. The song was originally put to tape as the first cut for their Restricted Release debut. They went in the studio, put “The Traveler” down, took it home unfinished and then never heard from the engineer again. After putting the time in to write the songs, rehearse them, get everything where you wanted it to be, find someone to record, get to the studio, set up, get drum sounds, bass sounds, guitar sounds, vocal sounds, and then actually begin the process only to have it cut off like that — it sounds awful. What a waste.

It’s twice the bummer because the song sounds awesome. Their two-EPs-into-one-full-length self-titled was a cool listen, but already in “The Traveler” it’s clear the Lancaster, PA, four-piece were looking to take their tonal warmth to new heights and build on the steady heavy rock bounce they honed their first time out. I believe they had started working on the album in January, so hopefully they found someplace else to record, because “The Traveler” definitely warrants accompaniment.

For now though, it’s what we’ve got:

New free BLACK COWGIRL song!

Black Cowgirl entered a studio for one day in the dead of winter with the intent to begin recording their follow up their 2013 self titled release on Restricted Release Records. One song was recorded. The band went home that night with a unmixed, unfinished copy of a song called “The Traveler”. The plan was to go back and complete “The Traveler” and then record the rest of the album. Unfortunately the studio engineer mysteriously disappeared. Therefore the song cannot be finished and to celebrate the circumstances Black Cowgirl has made the demo for “The Traveler” available for free on band camp.

http://blackcowgirl.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eS9Afflkvs&feature=em-uploademail
www.facebook.com/blackcowgirl1989

Black Cowgirl, “The Traveler” (2014)

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Black Cowgirl at Work on New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Pennsylvanian heavy rockers Black Cowgirl had a pretty busy 2013, what with getting their own beer, playing The Artie Lange Show, putting out their self-titled debut on Restricted Release and so on, but rather than rest on their laurels — which, though guitarist/vocalist Ben McGuire makes light of them in the announcement below, are considerable — the four-piece have gotten to work on a sophomore outing to be recorded later this winter. The final touches are being put on the songs now, so chances are they’ll break out a couple new ones on Feb. 15 when they play The Depot in York, PA, with Borracho, Backwoods Payback and Kingsnake.

Good bill. Free pizza makes it even better. The PR wire presents details:

Black Cowgirl new album news

Lancaster County Pennsylvania’s practitioners of riffcraft Black Cowgirl are finishing writing their second album and preparing to record it later this winter. The album to be recorded will be the follow up to their self titled LP that received a national release last summer via Restricted Release Records.

2013 was a big year for the band, as Black Cowgirl imposed total domination of the Canadian AM radio charts for a almost a month pushing the legendary Black Sabbath out of the #1 spot for a bit. Last year also saw the release of South County Brewing’s Black Cowgirl Double Black IPA, and the bands first drunk television appearance which took place on The Artie Lange show.

Guitarist/vocalist Ben McGuire of the band had this to say: “If it was the 1970’s when AM radio was still a rock and roll delivery system to be reckoned with and the whole world was Canada and the signature Black Cowgirl beer was released by Miller Light or whatever our Dad’s were sipping on in the Nixon era and it was Black Sabbath vol. 4 that was pushed off of it’s throne and not Rick Rubbinz 13……then we would be quitting our jobs and hitting the road forever, but it is 2014 and I have to be at work in a hour.”

No word on what label will be releasing the next album yet but a vinyl version is expected regardless and shows to follow.

Black Cowgirl will be playing their first show of 2014 at The Depot in York PA February 15th. The show is FREE and will also feature FREE PIZZA! Backwoods Payback, Kingsnake, and Borracho will also be there.

www.facebook.com/blackcowgirl1989

Black Cowgirl on The Artie Lange Show

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Black Cowgirl Self-Titled Coming Soon from Restricted Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Previously issued by Bilocation Records in Europe on vinyl and limited CD, the Black Cowgirl self-titled double EP compilation will see domestic US shelves May 14 thanks to Restricted Release. The band, who’ve spent the last couple years tightening their approach alongside some hefty touring acts while clocking a bit of their own road time, have recorded a new cover of Rory Gallagher‘s “I’m Not Awake Yet” to accompany the new version.

The PR wire sees it like this:

BLACK COWGIRL ALBUM TO SEE NATIONAL RELEASE

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania’s BLACK COWGIRL will see the North American release of their self-titled double ep released via Restricted Release on May 14. The 11-song recording was produced by the band with mixing and recording by Rich Gavalis. The national release of Black Cowgirl has been expanded to include lyrics previously unavailable on the version of the album sold at live performances and the band’s official webstore. It showcases the unique illustration work of Adrian Brouch.

BLACK COWGIRL recently performed at West Chester’s The Note alongside England’s Viking Skull. It was the UK rocker’s final show. BLACK COWGIRL vocalist/guitarist Ben McGuire shares, “the Viking Skull guys have always been great to us. It is a shame it was their last show. We played our first show with them a couple years ago and were honored to play their last, though I won’t be surprised if they come back from the grave down the road.”

Black Cowgirl will also include a recently recorded cover of “I’m Not Awake Yet” by Rory Gallagher. One of the late Irish singer/guitarist’s most popular songs, it is a tough one for any band to tackle. “I’m Not Awake Yet” is one of our favorite Rory Gallagher songs,” notes McGuire. “We talked about recording it for a while because we felt like it fit in with our other songs pretty well. We are all big fans of his mellow songs that are often overshadowed by his blues rock songs. There is just something about the sad, desperate, lonely feeling he captures in some of his low key songs that strikes a chord with what we are trying to do.”

Originally conceived as a one-man instrumental project by McGuire, BLACK COWGIRL’s current incarnation took shape in 2008. Guitarist Nathan Rosenzweig, bassist Chris Casse, and drummer Mark Hanna with McGuire initially united their talents to record six songs. Recorded quickly, three days in fact, the band immediately set out on tour supporting local heros CKY. Drummer Jess Margera was immediately impressed by the band. “BLACK COWGIRL kicks ass,” he says. “The band combines all the best elements of classic rock, groove rock, and even some prog at times.” Since that maiden tour, BLACK COWGIRL has shared the stage with Graveyard, The Company Band, Radio Moscow, Karma to Burn, Black Tusk, Monstro, and many others.

Complete track listing for Black Cowgirl is:
1. Talk of Wolves
2. Roadmaster
3. The Ride
4. Alkaline
5. Dead House
6. Eclipsor
7. Weight of Oblivion
8. Three Seasons
9. Solarizer
10. Becoming Nothing
11.Unio Mystica
12. I’m Not Awake Yet

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Six Dumb Questions with Black Cowgirl

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 31st, 2011 by JJ Koczan

A while back, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, heavy rockers Black Cowgirl let me post one of the tracks off their self-titled EP for streaming (it’s still here, if you want to listen), and I was thrilled to do so, since the four-piece managed to touch on something pretty special with those songs. They were a little hurried-sounding, true, but Black Cowgirl achieved a potent and unexpected blend of riff and melody there — like earliest Fireball Ministry with a rural touch — that was all the more impressive for the lack of time the band had to make them.

The reason they were in such a rush was wanting to have a CD ready to go prior to a 10-date tour supporting CKY. Black Cowgirl managed to get the disc done, the tour was great and they all lived happily ever etc., and since I enjoyed the EP, I thought I’d fire up the old intertubes and see if guitarist/vocalist Ben McGuire (also of Electric Horsemen) had any interest in fielding a few dumb questions. Six or so.

McGuire was only too glad to oblige, and you’ll find the results below. Black Cowgirl is McGuire alongside guitarist Nate Rosenzweig, bassist Chris Casse and drummer Mark Hanna. Please enjoy the following six dumb questions:

1. How did Black Cowgirl get together? Did you know what you wanted it to sound like when you got going?

Back in 2006 I started recording instrumental songs under the name Time Travel Decelerator. I had a fantasy of a instrumental band that I did not have to sing in that was like Wishbone Ash meets Mystick Krewe of Clearlight. I recorded a bunch of guitar and bass songs on my four track and often thought about forming a live band but Electric Horsemen, the other band I play in, was really busy at the time and it never came together. I knew our drummer Hanna from playing shows with Backwoods Payback (great dudes/lady, by the way) when he was drumming for them and we had talked a couple times about playing together someday but we never got around to setting anything up.

In the summer of ‘08 I met our guitarist Nate at a show and we got to talking and by the end of the night I asked if he would like to add some lead guitar on my instrumental songs. Me and Nate live about a hour apart so for the next few months we started sending riffs, demos, and songs back and forth in emails and chatting on the phone like teenage girls for hours about music and guitar and found we had a lot of ideas that went beyond just instrumental songs. We had both been stockpiling ideas for songs that did not fit any of our previous bands for years and we had a ton of material between us to sift through and we decided to start a new band that had vocals as well. We looked for a singer for a while but had no luck and because I had sent Nate demos with me singing on them I became vocalist by default.

Once we had a couple of solid songs we wanted to find a drummer and the first guy we thought of was Hanna, and things came together one night at a party when the three of us jammed for about a hour and basically wrote two songs. Soon after that night we got together at my house and cooked some food and cranked out two more songs in no time. A little bit after that we added Chris on bass who fit in perfectly as he was a great bassist and already playing in Electric Horsemen and playing around with my sister (they are married and of consenting age) so that worked out great. Things went on like that for about a year (band-wise that is… I’d rather not think about the sister stuff which I guess is still going on), we would see each other every couple months, eat a ton of food, write a bunch of songs and talk about how much fun it was but we could never seem to get our schedules to line up long enough to record or play shows. Before the CKY tour we had only played maybe five times in public but the tour finally gave us a great reason to get into full productive mode.

2. Who picked the name Black Cowgirl?

We never thought about what the band should be called until we had our first show and had about a week to think of one. We tossed around a few other names like “Sharkcharmer” and some other terrible ideas until sticking with Black Cowgirl and we almost didn’t use that. For some reason some people thought it was racist which I thought was ridiculous. The name came to me in the middle of the night during a sleepy brainstorm and to me it represented the ultimate rebel. I imagined a black cowgirl who was a mix of ‘70s Pam Grier and Yul Brynner‘s character from the movie West World who would ride from town to town righting wrongs and shooting assholes in the face with her dual nickel-plated Peacemakers and sawed off lever-action shotgun. The ultimate rebel, the ultimate fantasy. So the name is a great litmus test for racists… if you think it is, you are.

3. How does the songwriting process usually work? Do you have something specific you try for going into putting together a song, or does it all come from jams?

There are songs that totally develop from jams that seem to write themselves and a lot of those ones end up being instrumental. We started and ended our set on the last tour with two of these style songs and they were different every night apart from a basic framework and so much fun to play for us because you had no idea where they were going to take you. Then we have songs that begin very structured with a vocal melody and chords but even those songs change drastically once the whole band gets a hold of it and we begin improvising sections. We all take part in writing and arranging. Once in while me or Nate will have a song that is basically done before we all get to hear it but more often than not writing is a collaborative effort. We are also very open-minded as far as trying many different things to see what suits the song best. It is exciting and tons of fun writing songs with these guys, very effortless and very easy to bring any idea you have in your head into reality. The only thing we go for when writing is to make the songs fun to play and trim the fat and filler until nothing is left but a well-balanced hearty riffy meal with a reasonable harmonized snack at the end.

4. Talk about recording the self-titled. Where and when was it recorded, and was there anything in particular you wanted to accomplish in the studio this time around?

We had arranged to record some demos with our friend John Brenner (from the great bands Against Nature/Revelation) early in the year before we knew about the tour. We headed down to Baltimore and did five songs with the amazingly cool-headed John in about 16 hours straight. We were not very picky with our playing and tracking because it was basically just a demo to help us develop our sound. The week after recording that demo we got wind of the tour and realized we needed a CD that was a little more focused that we could bring out on tour. We did not have the heart to put John through another marathon recording session (even though I bet he would have been kind enough to do it!) so we decided to re-record it ourselves and pay someone else to mix and master it. Going to John‘s was totally worth it though, not just because we got to drink a bunch of Mr. Brenner‘s homemade beer and hang out, but we had a better idea of what we wanted to sound like on record. We may put the original versions John did out someday, the guitars are cleaner and have some cool mellotron and organ tracks on some songs.

A couple of days after finding out about the tour we started re-recording for a couple of hours a night for three or four nights in a friends basement studio which is nothing more than a soundproof room we equipped with some mics and Nate‘s little Korg portable studio. Then we took the tracks to Rich Gavalis at The Dome in Royersford, Pennsylvania to record vocals, mix and master. Rich is a cool dude and he did a great job of making what we had recorded sound less like a demo and more like a legit release.

We did not have very much time to mess with tones, sounds, and different instrumentation on the self-titled. It was more about getting it done in the most straightforward way we could, and getting what we sound like across as simply as we could. I think overall we are all pretty happy with it as a first release and we cannot wait to spend more time tweaking and fine-tuning sounds on the next one!

5. How did the CKY tour come about? What were those shows like?

Our drummer Hanna is a longtime friend of CKY/Company Band/Viking Skull drummer Jess [Margera] and he has done work for CKY acting as stage manager for a number of tours and our guitarist Nate plays in Uncle Matt and the Shitbirdz with Jess. CKY had a string of shows coming up and were kind enough to ask us to tag along. I was worried at first that we would not be well received by CKY fans, who are like KISS fans as far as their level of dedication, but we figured Graveyard went over great when they toured with CKY last year and it was a good opportunity for us to play to a lot of people so maybe it would be cool.

Turned out the CKY fans were very kind across the board and we were very well received and had a amazing time, great bunch of people everywhere we went. We got to play a lot of places I never thought we would get to play, I am used to basements and small clubs (which I love, basements especially) but it was awesome to play some bigger places. I hope we get the chance to do it again… and again… and again. We also got to play some all-ages shows, which I had not done it a long time and that was really cool too. It feels good to know somebody likes the band not just because they are 15 beers deep into the night.

6. What’s next for the band? Will you tour more this year or focus on writing or recording?

We are looking for more shows and we are about halfway through writing our full-length. We are also toying with the idea of recording an acoustic CD as well, kind of like a Neil Young Harvest-era style release. We may combine those songs with what we have already and throw them on the full-length or do it as a separate EP, not sure yet. Right now we are just trying to find the time to get everything we want to do done. If the right tour pops up we would definitely be into that and we should have some shows popping up here and there soon. Overall we are just happy to be an active band finally and can’t wait to make more music!

Black Cowgirl’s BigCartel store

Black Cowgirl on ReverbNation

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audiObelisk: New Black Cowgirl Available for Streaming; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in audiObelisk on March 7th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, four-piece Black Cowgirl have just completed recording a new six-song demo (the band was previously put On the Radar for their last release) at Westtown Lake Studios, and to celebrate, have announced a 10-day tour as direct support for long-running mischief-makers CKY. Black Cowgirl was kind enough to give me my pick of the songs to host, and of course I went for the longest — the catchy seven-minute jam “Eclipsor” — which you can stream on the player below.

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The new demo, aptly-titled Black Cowgirl is available for purchase here and at the band’s shows, and I thought “Eclipsor” made a pretty good representation of what they’ve got going on: Melodically-aware and straightforward heavy rock with solid-packed groove, memorable choruses and an eye for letting the parts ride out. The fade-back-in jam at the end is a lot of the difference between “Eclipsor” and the other tracks I’ve heard, but even so, Black Cowgirl change up their sound and put enough of the Pennsylvanian countryside in there to make it pastoral in atmosphere.

Says Black Cowgirl’s Ben McGuire of the song:

“Almost all of our songs come together through collective stream of consciousness. One of us may have a riff or idea but we try to let the songs write themselves as much as we can without interfering then we tweak them. “Eclipsor” was a perfect example of this process. We had a main section and the rest came out on its own. The lyrics came out just the way they are the first time we played it through. We never plan them or pick a topic. The best way to describe how we write is it is like using a Ouija board, we just put our hands on our guitars and hope they take us somewhere cool.”

Demo track listing:
1. Talk of Wolves
2. Roadmaster
3. The Ride
4. Alkaline
5. Dead House
6. Eclipsor

Black Cowgirl on tour with CKY:
03/17 Lancaster, PA Chameleon Club
03/18 Philadelphia, PA Theater of the Living Arts
03/19 New York, NY Gramercy
03/21 Hartford, CT Webster
03/22 Allston, MA Brighton Music Hall
03/24 Asbury Park, NJ Stone Pony
03/25 Morgantown, WV 123 Pleasant St.
03/26 Buffalo, NY Mohawk
03/27 Baltimore, MD Bourbon Street
03/28 Richmond, VA Canal Club

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