Review & Track Premiere: Lewis and the Strange Magics, Evade Your Soul

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lewis-and-the-strange-magics-evade-your-soul

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Out of My Home’ from Lewis and the Strange Magics’ Evade Your Soul. Album is out Oct. 20 via Soulseller Records.]

Somewhere in the vast multiverse of alternate timelines and fluid realities, there’s a late ’60s death disco stage that’s just perfect for Lewis and the Strange Magics. The three-piece — who in this reality are based in Barcelona, Spain — stand on that stage in orange and purple paisley-patterned shirts that seem to be moving even when the band is standing still and run through songs like “Ugly Face” and “Lisa Melts the Wax” and “RMS” from their second album, Evade Your Soul, with twisted smiles on their faces that hint at the cultish spirits lurking beneath the pop bounce and easy, fun-loving melodies. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Lewis P., guitarist/vocalist Javi Bono and drummer Ivan Miguel, Lewis and the Strange Magics marked their arrival with the aptly-titled Demo (review here) in 2014 and were picked up by Soulseller Records for the debut full-length, Velvet Skin (review here), which came out in 2015.

The current of quirk and pop classicism has been a running theme throughout their work all along, and in searching for modern comparison points, one might turn to the garage rock aspects of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and the production and songwriting clarity of Ghost, the latter of whom would also seem to be an influence on vocal arrangements for cuts like “You’ll be Free Forever” (video posted here) and album centerpiece “Out of My Home,” the guitars of which play clean and fuzzy tones off each other directly in strummed chords and riffs and leads before turning to the sanctuary of yet another of Evade Your Soul‘s landmark hooks. Those, too, are a running theme for Lewis and the Strange Magics, and as a keystone of their output to-date, they’ve never been so prevalent as they are across this nine-track/38-minute vinyl-ready span.

And as familiar as some elements with which Lewis and the Strange Magics are working might be — the Beatlesian jive of “RMS” is instantly recognizable in the post-McCartney sphere, for example — the band effectively craft an identity of their own from the entire swath, such that while the organ-topped proto-prog of opener/longest track  “Leaving Myself” (immediate points) purposefully leans into early ’70s vibes, the rolling groove that emerges, the flowing rhythm, the patience of tempo with which it’s played, and the subtle Satano-sleaze of the lyrics belong to Lewis and company more than they ever have. That’s one sign of the band having grown since Velvet Skin as songwriters, but it’s by no means the only one. An overarching aesthetic awareness pervades Evade Your Soul that can be heard in the vocal balance of “Ugly Face,” which is a highlight not only for its memorable chorus and dueling keyboard/organ solos, but for the arrangement of Bono and Lewis‘ singing and the bounce over which that arrangement appears.

lewis and the strange magics

Though they were raw when they started out, Lewis and the Strange Magics have always had a plan as regards style. With Evade Your Soul, they seem to have hit the point of bringing that plan to fruition, and in so doing, carved a niche for themselves that’s as much at home introducing a Mellotron in third cut “TV Monsters” as they are riding that texture along a languid proggy drift in the later instrumental “Escape,” where it cuts in and out among xylophone (or a synthesized approximation thereof), a steady low end tumble and a post-midpoint turn of guitar jangle that brings about a build to a final wash of fuzzy noise that leads the way into closer “Another Lonely Soul (on the Road).” Their songwriting proves varied in mood but is unafraid to have what sounds like genuine fun on “Lisa Melts the Wax,” with its falsetto vampire vocals — another Ghost connection there — and uptempo strum before shifting into a dreamy lead that maintains an underlying oddness worthy of Ween, but once again, decidedly Lewis and the Strange Magics‘ own.

Oh yeah, and then they go ahead and gallop their way into a fuzzed-out ending to lead the way into “Out of My Home,” because obviously by that point — right in the middle of the record — they’ve established they’re free to go wherever the hell they want and make it work. That confidence of execution is a boon to Evade Your Soul front-to-back, no question, and though moments like the verses of “Out of My Home” and the second-half push in “You’ll be Free Forever” are heavier than it might seem on first listen, there are points throughout these songs in which Lewis and the Strange Magics might lose control of their direction or performance in terms of meter or arrangement, where they might get caught up in their own riffing to the detriment of the song, or forget the structure in favor of drifting out more than they want to, etc. — but the truth is they simply don’t.

It still feels appropriate to think of them as a young band, if only because they formed three years ago, but whether it’s the swing that leads into the record in such right-on-let’s-go fashion throughout “Leaving Myself” or the Revolver-style melodicism brought forth for “RMS,” Evade Your Soul shows a burgeoning maturity in Lewis and the Strange Magics in the level of command they show throughout and the completeness and the complexity of their ideas. This is, in other words, the sound of a band beginning to pay off their potential. As they wrap with the tambourine-inclusive boogie of “Another Lonely Soul (on the Road),” Lewis and the Strange Magics reinforce the somewhat unspoken tightness at root in these songs, and as Lewis delivers the last line “nevermore” at the end of the song, he does so over a quick, cold finish that leaves one feeling the trio has much more to say.

That may well be the case, and one can only hope they keep moving forward along the delightfully bizarre path that Evade Your Soul sees them as having chosen, but whatever road they might ultimately take to get them to that late-’60s death-disco somewhere in the vast multiverse, they’re sure to continue to make an impression on their journey. Open up your skull and dance.

Lewis and the Strange Magics, “You’ll be Free Forever” official video

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records website

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Lewis and the Strange Magics Set Oct. 20 release for Evade Your Soul; New Video Posted

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lewis-and-the-strange-magics

Plenty to like immediately about the upcoming second long-player from Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics. Titled Evade Your Soul and set to release Oct. 20 through Soulseller Records, the follow-up to the band’s 2015 debut, Velvet Skin (review here), shows off an immediate uptick in the weirdo factor in a new video for the cut “You’ll be Free Forever.” It’s the first audio to be made public from Evade Your Soul and bodes remarkably well in its balance of sonic clarity and arrangement flourish — the keys, the call-and-response vocals, etc. — in a way that makes me look forward all the more to hopefully getting to experience the whole album sooner rather than later. Like for an advance review maybe? I’m just spitbaling ideas here. Just seeing what sticks.

Hopefully that sticks. This Fall isn’t short on badass forthcoming releases by any means, but standout stuff like this is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Album art by Branca Studio, tracklisting details and that video all came down the PR wire, and Lewis and the Strange Magics are also set to play Cheapstock Vol. 4 in Barcelona next month, about which you can find more info here:

lewis-and-the-strange-magics-evade-your-soul

LEWIS & THE STRANGE MAGICS – New album details and video clip available

Spanish Heavy-Psych-Rockers LEWIS & THE STRANGE MAGICS are back with their second full-length!

“Evade Your Soul” will be released on 20th October 2017 via Soulseller Records on CD, vinyl and in digital formats.

Formed in Barcelona during the summer of 2014 and influenced by a wide range of styles from Black Sabbath to The Beatles, they shortly after released their debut demo which received great reception from audience and critics alike. Only a month later the band signed with Soulseller Records to release the debut LP, “Velvet Skin”, in August 2015.

With their new album “Evade Your Soul” the band offers a heavier and more psychedelic sound, highlighting melodic songs with fuzzy riffs, crazy keys, spiritual lyrics and a lot of groove. It was recored, mixed and mastered by L’Antoine LV at La Musaranya, a studio from Olesa de Montserrat. The front cover and all the artwork has been created by Branca Studio.

A video for the song “You’ll Be Free Forever” is available. Preorders start in September.

Tracklist:
1. Leaving Myself
2. Ugly Face
3. TV Monsters
4. Lisa Melts The Wax
5. Out Of My Home
6. You’ll Be Free Forever
7. RMS
8. Escape
9. Another Lonely Soul (On The Road)

Lewis & the Strange Magics:
Lewis P. – vocals, guitar, keyboard
Ivan Miguel – drums
Javi Bono – guitar, vocals

https://www.facebook.com/lewismagics
https://www.facebook.com/SOULSELLERRECORDS/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com

Lewis and the Strange Magics, “You’ll be Free Forever”

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Cheapstock Vol. 4 Set for Sept. 9-10 in Barcelona; Belzebong, Libido Fuzz, Blaak Heat, Cachemira & More to Play

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

I hope you’ll pardon me if I step back from the precipice of yet another here’s-me-daydreaming-about-being-independently-wealthy-and-spending-my-days-countryhopping-from-one-awesome-European-fest-to-the-next post — I don’t even know how many there have been at this point; frickin’ countless; this isn’t even the first one today — to note instead that along with the more familiar names included in the lineup for Barcelona’s Cheapstock Vol. 4 like Libido FuzzBelzebongBlaak HeatCachemiraLewis and the Strange MagicsAbrahma and Witchthroat Serpent, there are a slew of others with whom I at least am less introduced. EveUdolPazMad MaciusKamadeva, and so on — most of the bottom half of the bill is new to me, and I think that’s awesome. It’s my favorite kind of homework. More music to explore. Whether or not you can make it to the fest, I hope you’ll likewise take advantage of the checklist below.

Cheapstock Vol. 4 — including a bong giveaway and a Kyuss tribute for the aftershow — is put on by Solo Bongs Records and takes place Sept. 9 and 10 at Pineda de Mar in Barcelona, Spain. Doesn’t that sound nice? I think so.

Here’s all the info, including directions how to get there:

cheapstock vol 4

We are glad to announce the fourth edition of the Cheapstock festival, Cheapstock Vol4 is an outdoor festival for lovers of cosmic environments, heavy riffs and loud sounds. As new this year the festival will last two days and will feature camping for the 2-day pass.

We repeat site, in the football field of the foundation, this is the LINE UP for Cheapsock vol4:

Belzebong (Stoner, doom), first time in Spain! Only show!
BLAAK HEAT (Psych, Progressive, Stoner)
Witchthroat Serpent (DOOM)
Libido Fuzz (Heavy Psych/ Stoner)
ABRAHMA (Psychedelic/Atmospheric Heavy Doom Rock)
Cachemira (70’S Retro Rock / heavy psych)
MadMacius (Garage Punk)
Lewis and the Strange Magics (Heavy Psych Occult)
Nerobambola (experimental Jazz, math psychedellic duo)
EVE (Progressive, psych-doom, Rapsodia)
Electric Valley (Stoner)
Kamadeva (Heavy Psych, Stoner)
UDOL (Psych, Doom, Sludge)
Paz (Doom)

Afterparty
BASTARDS OF KYUSS (Kyuss Tribute)

Stands:
Branca Studio
Doom in aeternum
Anskar Tattoo&Piercing
+Tbc

Foodtrucks:
El alma-zen de los montaditos.
+ TBC

Cheapstock does not disgust anyone or anything, so you will be able to attend being under age or accompanied with your pet (or with your faithful bong). As it’s tradition, we’ll giveaway a fucking bong!! Courtesy of maxupixu smokers.

Tickets: https://entradium.com/entradas/cheapstock-vol4-pineda-de-mar

Arrival:
By Train, R1 Pineda de Mar, there will be a carrilet at the station that will take you directly to the festival compound and back.
By Car, by c32 exit 122, until we reach nii and continue direction girona until the exit of the motorway
By Bus, Pineda de mar train station and carrilet to the venue.
For the most adventurous to say that there are about 25 minutes walking from the pineda de Mar station.
BUS NIT:
To get back to bcn at night you need to take the n82
by Solo Bongs
Collaborate jäger music

https://entradium.com/entradas/cheapstock-vol4-pineda-de-mar
https://www.facebook.com/events/432927297064092/
https://www.facebook.com/cheapstockfest/
https://www.facebook.com/solobongs/
http://solobongsrecords.bandcamp.com/

Belzebong, Greenferno (2016)

Blaak Heat, Shifting Mirrors (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Matushka, Tuna de Tierra, MAKE, SardoniS, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Moewn, El Hijo de la Aurora, Hawk vs. Dove

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

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Cruising right along with the Fall 2015 Quarterly Review. I hope you’ve been digging it so far. There’s still much more to come, and I’ve spaced things out so that it’s not like all the really killer stuff was in the first day. That’s not so much to draw people in with bigger names as to get a good mix of styles to keep me from going insane. 10 records is a lot to go through if you’re hearing the same thing all the time. Today, as with each day this week, I’m glad to be able to change things up a bit as we make our way through. Let’s get to it.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #21-30:

Horisont, Odyssey

horisont odyssey

Aside from earning immediate points by sticking the 10-minute title-track at the front of their 62-minute fourth album, Swedish mustache rockers Horisont add intrigue to Odyssey (out on Rise Above) via the acquisition of journeyman guitarist Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery). Their mission? To rock ‘70s arena melodies and grandiose vibes while keeping the affair tight enough so they don’t come across as completely ridiculous in the process. They’ve had three records to get it together before this one, so that they’d succeed isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, but the album satisfies nonetheless, cuts like “Blind Leder Blind” departing the sci-fi thematics of the opener for circa-1975 vintage loyalism of a different stripe, while “Back on the Streets” is pure early Scorpions strut, the band having found their own niche within crisp execution of classic-sounding grooves that seem to have a vinyl hiss no matter their source.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Straphanger / Drone Monger Split

blackwolfgoat larman clamor split

I’ll make no bones whatsoever about being partial to the work of both Blackwolfgoat – the solo experimental vehicle of Boston-based guitarist Darryl Shepard – and Larman Clamor – the solo-project of Hamburg-based graphic artist Alexander von Wieding – so to find them teamed up for a split 7” on H42 Records is something of a special thrill. Shepard’s inclusion, “Straphanger,” continues to push the thread between building layers of guitar on top of each other and songwriting that the last Blackwolfgoat full-length, Drone Maintenance (review here), found him exploring, while Larman Clamor’s “Drone Monger” is an alternate version from what appeared on last year’s Beetle Crown and Steel Wand (review here) and “Fo’ What You Did” digs deep into the swampy psych-blues that von Wieding has done so well developing for the last half-decade or so in the project’s tenure. My only complaint? No collaboration between the two sides. Would love to hear what Shepard and von Wieding could do in a cross-Atlantic two-piece.

Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks

Larman Clamor on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Matushka, II

matushka ii

II is the aptly-titled second full-length from Russian heavy psych instrumentalists Matushka, who jam kosmiche across its four component tracks and round out by diving headfirst into the acid with “Drezina,” a 20-minute pulsation from some distant dimension that gives sounds like Earthless if they made it up on the spot, peppering shred-ola leads with no shortage of effects swirl. In comparison, “As Bartenders and Bouncers Dance” feels positively plotted, but it, “The Acid Curl’s Dance” before and the especially dreamy “Meditation,” which follows, all have their spontaneous-sounding elements. For guitarist Timophey Goryashin, bassist Maxim Zhuravlev (who seems to since be out of the band) and drummer Konstantin Kotov to even sustain this kind of lysergic flow, they need to have a pretty solid chemistry underlying the material, and they do. I don’t know whether Matushka’s II will change the scope of heavy psychedelia, but they put their stamp on the established parameters here and bring an edge of individuality in moments of arrangement flourish — acoustics, synth, whatever it might be — where a lot of times that kind of thing is simply lost in favor of raw jamming.

Matushka on Thee Facebooks

Matushka on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot

tuna de tierra episode i pilot

If a pilot is used in television to test whether or not a show works, then Tuna de Tierra’s EPisode I: Pilot, would seem to indicate similar ends. A three-song first outing from the Napoli outfit, it coats itself well in languid heavy psychedelic vibing across “Red Sun” (the opener and longest track at 8:25; immediate points), “Ash” (7:28) and the particularly dreamy “El Paso de la Tortuga,” which closes out at 4:08 and leaves the listener wanting to hear more of what Alessio de Cicco (guitar/vocals) and Luciano Mirra (bass) might be able to concoct from their desert-style influences. There’s patience to be learned in some of their progressions, and presumably at some point they’ll need to pick up a drummer to replace Jonathan Maurano, who plays here and seems to since be out of the band, but especially as their initial point of contact with planet earth, EPisode I: Pilot proves immersive and a pleasure to get lost within, and that’s enough for the moment.

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

MAKE, The Golden Veil

make the golden veil

Much of what one might read concerning North Carolinian trio MAKE and their second album, The Golden Veil, seems to go out of its way to point out the individual take they’re bringing to the established parameters of post-metal. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but part of that has to be sheer critical fatigue at the thought of another act coming along having anything in common with Isis while at the same time, not wanting to rag on MAKE as though their work were without value of its own, which at this point an Isis comparison dogwhistles. MAKE’s The Golden Veil successfully plays out an atmospherically intricate, engaging linear progression across its seven tracks, from the cut-short intro “I was Sitting Quietly, Peeling back My Skin” through the atmospheric sludge tumult of “The Absurdist” and into the patient post-rock melo-drone of “In the Final Moments, Uncoiling.” Yes, parts of it are familiar. Parts of a lot of things are familiar. Some of it sounds like Isis. That’s okay.

MAKE on Thee Facebooks

MAKE on Bandcamp

SardoniS, III

sardonis iii

To an extent, the reputation of Belgium instru-crushers SardoniS precedes them, and as such I can’t help but listen to “The Coming of Khan,” which launches their third album, III (out via Consouling Sounds), and not be waiting for the explosion into tectonic riffing and massive-sounding gallop. Still the duo of drummer Jelle Stevens and guitarist Roel Paulussen, SardoniS offer up five tracks of sans-vocals, Surrounded by Thieves-style thrust, a cut like “Roaming the Valley” summarizing some of the best elements of what they’ve done across the span of splits with Eternal Elysium and Drums are for Parades, as well as their two prior full-lengths, 2012’s II and 2010’s SardoniS (review here), in its heft and its rush. A somewhat unanticipated turn arrives with 11:46 closer “Forward to the Abyss,” which though it still hits its standard marks, also boasts both lengthy atmospheric sections at the front and back and blastbeaten extremity between. Just when you think you know what to expect.

SardoniS on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Velvet Skin

lewis and the strange magics velvet skin

With their debut long-player, Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics answer the promise of their 2014 Demo (review here) in setting a late-‘60s vibe to modern cultish interpretation, post-Uncle Acid and post-Ghost (particularly so on “How to be You”) but no more indebted to one or the other than to themselves, which is as it should be. Issued via Soulseller Records, Velvet Skin isn’t afraid to dive into kitsch, and that winds up being a big part of the charm of songs like “Female Vampire” and “Golden Threads,” but it’s ultimately the chemistry of the organ-inclusive trio that makes the material hold up, as well as the swaggering rhythms of “Cloudy Grey Cube” and “Nina (Velvet Skin),” which is deceptively modern in its production despite such a vintage methodology. The guitar and keys on that semi-title-track seem to speak to a classic progressive edge burgeoning within Lewis and the Strange Magics’ approach, and I very much hope that’s a path they continue to walk.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

Moewn, Acqua Alta

moewn acqua alta

Basking in a style they call “oceanic rock,” newcomer German trio Moewn unveil their first full-length, Acqua Alta, via Pink Tank Records in swells of post-metallic undulations that wear their neo-progressive influences on their sleeve. Instrumental for the duration, the three-piece tracked the album in 2014 about a year after first getting together, but the six songs have a cohesive, thought-out feel to their peaks and valleys – “Packeis” perhaps most of all – that speaks to their purposeful overall progression. Atmospherically, it feels like Moewn are still searching for what they want to do with this sound, but they have an awful lot figured out up to this point, whether it’s the nodding wash of airy guitar and fluid heft of groove that seems to push “Dunkelmeer” along or second cut “Katamaran,” which if it weren’t for the liquefied themes of the art and their self-applied genre tag, I’d almost say sounded in its more spacious stretches like desert rock à la Yawning Man.

Moewn on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

El Hijo de la Aurora, The Enigma of Evil

el hijo de la aurora the enigma of evil

Since their first album, 2008’s Lemuria (review here), it has been increasingly difficult to pin Peruvian outfit El Hijo de la Aurora to one style or another. Drawing from doom, heavy rock, drone and psychedelic elements, they seem to push outward cosmically into something that’s all and none of them at the same time on their third album, The Enigma of Evil (released by Minotauro Records), the core member Joaquín Cuadra enlisting the help of a host of others in executing the seven deeply varied tracks, including Indrayudh Shome of continually underrated experimentalists Queen Elephantine on the acoustic-led “The Awakening of Kosmos” and the penultimate chug-droner “The Advent of Ahriman.” Half a decade after the release of their second album, Wicca (review here), in 2010, El Hijo de la Aurora’s work continues to feel expansive and ripe for misinterpretation, finding weight in atmosphere as much as tone and breadth enough to surprise with how claustrophobic it can at times seem.

El Hijo de la Aurora’s website

Minotauro Records

Hawk vs. Dove, Divided States

hawk vs dove divided states

Dallas outfit Hawk vs. Dove recorded Divided States in the same studio as their self-titled 2013 debut (review here) and the two albums both have black and white line-drawn artwork from Larry Carey, so it seems only fitting to think of the new release as a follow-up to the first. It is fittingly expansive, culling together elements of ‘90s noise, post-grunge indie (ever wondered what Weezer would sound like heavy? Check “X”), black metal (“Burning and Crashing”), desert rock (“PGP”) and who the hell knows what else into a mesh of styles that not only holds up but feels progressed from the first time out and caps with an 11-minute title-track that does even more to draw the various styles together into a cohesive, singular whole. All told, Divided States is 38 minutes of blinding turns expertly handled and impressive scope trod over as though it ain’t no thing, just another day at the office. It’s the kind of record that’s so good at what it does that other bands should hear it and be annoyed.

Hawk vs. Dove on Thee Facebooks

Hawk vs. Dove on Bandcamp

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Lewis and the Strange Magics Post New Video for “Female Vampire”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 31st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

lewis and the strange magics

Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics will release their debut album, Velvet Skin, Aug. 21 through Soulseller Records. The full-length follows last year’s impressive Demo (review here), which was among my favorite short releases of 2014 and tapped into that Beatlesian Sabbathery while managing to at the same time remain distinct from Uncle Acid, who one could reasonably argue are the foremost practitioners of the form. All three tracks from the demo will appear on the upcoming record, but the new song “Female Vampire” is the first I’m hearing from Velvet Skin and it proves even more individualized than the prior offering, the three-piece dug in deep to a circa-1967 vision of lysergics that, in the clip, meets with circa-1975 horror, the song taking its name from the title of a film released that year.

Performance clips manipulated with psychedelic visuals and copious NSFW ’70s boobage ensues, mining the ultimately familiar terrain of vintage exploitation and sexualized violence. The song itself has a complementary sense of camp to it, the vocals putting on a Dracula voice — think, “I vant to suck your blood,” — to deliver the title line in the chorus. It suits Lewis and the Strange Magics well to take the whole endeavor not quite so seriously as most of their cult-minded peers, who seem hell-bent on making listeners think they spend their nights at blood-soaked rituals and whatever else, and the reason it doesn’t fall into parody is because the songwriting stands up. As will happen, Baphomet shows up by the end, but they rightly conclude with a plug for the new album, which is one I’ll hope to get the chance to check out.

Video below, followed by PR wire info on Velvet Skin. Enjoy:

Lewis and the Strange Magics, “Female Vampire” official video (NSFW)

On August 21st the debut album “Velvet Skin” by Lewis & the strange magics will be released via Soulseller Records on Cd/Lp(lim.300) and Digital!

LEWIS AND THE STRANGE MAGICS was born in Barcelona, Spain, during the summer of 2014. Shortly after they released their debut demo which received great reception from audience and critics. Only a month later the band signed with Soulseller Records to release the debut LP, “Velvet Skin”, during 2015.

The album talks about human perversion, which is developed from dark ambients with 60s and 70s sounds. It was recorded and mixed by Filippo Medda at Algusano Records Studio (Mataró, Spain), mastered by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studio (Athens Vermont, USA), and the artwork was designed by Jo Riou (Paris, France). The band’s musical influences go from Black Sabbath to The Beatles, mixing heavy riffs with pop melodies, all wrapped up in a psychedelic and dark atmosphere, inspired by cult movies and occultism.

Track list:
1. Carbon Wine
2. How To Be You
3. Suzy’s Room
4. Golden Threads
5. Nina (Velvet Skin)
6. Female Vampire
7. Cloudy Grey Cube
8. Your Evil Trip

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

Soulseller Records

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2014

Posted in Features on December 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

top-20-short-releases-of-2014-Samuel-Palmer-1805-1881-Morning-of-Life-1861

Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll. That’s still going on. Please feel free to submit your list.

I did this last year mostly as a result of not having somewhere to put Elder‘s Spires Burn/Release EP in 2012, but it went pretty well, so I thought we’d do another round for 2014. The 2013 list covered demos, singles, EPs and splits — basically everything that’s not a full-length album — and the same rules apply here. It’s a pretty basic idea, but it makes sense to me to consider short releases apart from full-lengths because very often they’re trying to accomplish different things.

For example, if an album is trying to tell a story or describe a central theme, either blatantly in its lyrics or atmospherically through the music itself, a demo might just be the work of a band trying to feel their way into their sound. It doesn’t strike me as fair to judge the two on the same standard. Likewise, if a band releases a single, should that really be judged alongside an hour-long release? Granted, some bands’ singles actually are an hour long, but that’s another category entirely. “The ‘Dopesmoker’ Awards” will be handed out at another date.

No, not really. At least not this year.

If you didn’t see the full-albums Top 30 of 2014, please feel free to check it out and think of this and the year-end podcast as companion pieces, albeit both a little more casual. Let’s get to it:

sleepsingle

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2014

1. Sleep, The Clarity
2. Fatso Jetson/Herba Mate, Early Shapes
3. All Them Witches, Effervescent
4. Cortez/Borracho, Split 7″
5. Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes, 4-Way Split
6. Heavy Temple, Heavy Temple
7. Death Alley, Over Under/Dead Man’s Bones 7”
8. Geezer, Live! Full Tilt Boogie
9. The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues, The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues
10. Demon Head, Demo 2014
11. Gold & Silver, Azurite and Malachite
12. The Proselyte, Our Vessel’s in Need
13. Hull, Legend of the Swamp Goat
14. Lamp of the Universe/Krautzone, Split
15. The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Through the Dark Matter
16. The Heavy Co., Uno Dose
17. Wren, Wren
18. He Whose Ox is Gored, Rumors 7”
19. Lewis and the Strange Magics, Demo
20. Godhunter/Secrets of the Sky, Gh/0st:s
21. Lord, Alive in Golgotha

Some honorable mentions to the Young Hunter/Ohioan split tape (the Young Hunter portion of which was included last year, otherwise it would probably be number two on this list), Inter Arma‘s The Cavern 40-minute single-song EP/LP, Harvest Bell‘s debut EP, Goya and Wounded Giant‘s split, Fuzz Evil and Chiefs‘ split, Cruthu‘s demo, Disenchanter‘s second EP, the White Dynomite/Hey Zeus split 7″, Humo del Cairo‘s EP, The Golden Grass‘ Realisations EP, Dune‘s ProgenitorGodflesh‘s comeback EP, and Blackwitch Pudding‘s reinterpretations/covers EP, Covered in Pudding.

A couple notes: The Sleep single was a given. I don’t think anything could’ve topped it one way or another, even if I hadn’t listened to it 100 times since its release in July as part of the Adult Swim Singles Series. In any case, there was no debate about where to place it. You might notice on the other end the list goes to 21. I thought that being the element of chaos suited Lord well, and since I’m not entirely sure their Alive in Golgotha EP has been officially released, they warranted inclusion just in case.

One thing that struck me in putting this list together was the amount of splits included. You’ll notice Fatso Jetson and Herba Mate‘s Early Shapes right in behind Sleep. That one was an utter joy, as far as I’m concerned, and made me wish both of them would get on putting out full-lengths as soon as possible. Not far behind is Cortez and Borracho‘s split single, which had killer tracks from both bands, and the Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes split from Heavy Psych Sounds that, even with four bands involved, managed to keep a flowing atmosphere front to back, which was impressive enough in and of itself, never mind the individual contributions of those four acts, which were also top quality. The Krautzone/Lamp of the Universe split also provided a considerable psych blissout, and Godhunter‘s split/collaboration with Secrets of the Sky earned extra points for its adventurous spirit and the payoff its risk-taking brought to bear.

Like their Lightning at the Door LP, All Them Witches‘ Effervescent 25-minute jam figured heavily in my 2014 listening habits, as did Heavy Temple‘s self-titled debut EP. Dutch garage/heavy punkers Death Alley earned spins with their debut 7″, a lack of pretense in melding proto-thrash and heavy rock impulses allowing them to quickly find a niche that one hopes they continue to develop. Their debut single, along with Demon Head‘s Demo 2014 (and, indeed, that band’s follow-up single) and the Lewis and the Strange Magics demo were an allay to concerns retro-minded rock might be stagnating.

Geezer featured on the Short Releases list last year as well. I wasn’t sure what to do with their Gage 12″, since it was released in 2013 as an EP and 2014 as an LP, but either way, their Live! Full Tilt Boogie tape effortlessly recalled classic blues rock performances and demonstrated the fluid chemistry at work in the New York trio, I hope it’s not the last live release they do. Along similar bluesy lines, The Heavy Co.‘s Uno Dose found the Hoosier three-piece dipping into heavy jams more than their last full-length, and if that’s the direction they’re headed, you won’t hear me argue. Hailing from Sweden and arriving as an offshoot of Asteroid, the single-song EP from The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues had more than a touch of heavy blues to it too, and made me look forward to that project’s development from here on out.

There’s little I’m going to complain about less than hearing Ed Mundell bust out Miles Davis-inspired solos, so yeah, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s Through the Dark Matter EP gets a nod. Impressive guitar work ran a current through Boston duo Gold & Silver‘s debut EP, Azurite and Malachite, but the proggy feel was what ultimately sold me on the two extended instrumentals included there, whereas with fellow Beantowners The Proselyte, it was the catchy songwriting and variety they showed in just four tracks. The He Whose Ox is Gored 7″ was likewise modern and satisfyingly weighted, though obviously shorter, and last but not at all least, the progressive sludge of Wren‘s self-titled EP seemed to fly under a lot of people’s radar but was a markedly individual take on a well established form that portended of good things to come.

As with everything, I’m sure there’s something in this mix that I forgot. If you’ve got a call you want to make on something, please let loose in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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On the Radar: Lewis and the Strange Magics, Demo

Posted in On the Radar on August 13th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Spanish cult rockers Lewis and the Strange Magics have worked fast. In late June, the Barcelona garage doomers released their debut demo, aptly-titled Demo, with an initial three songs available digitally for those who might have the inclination to check them out. Less than two months later, the band — whose lineup remains a mystery and of whom no photos have surfaced — signed a deal with Soulseller Records to release their first album, on which they’ve already begun work. The Demo itself moves with similar efficiency. Barely 90 seconds have passed into opener “How to be You” before Satan is invoked in a catchy chorus reminiscent of Ghost for its harmonies and The Devil’s Blood for its psychedelic swirl, but rougher in its production than either. Both of those bands owed a considerable debt to ’70s cultistry, and Lewis and the Strange Magics do likewise — see CovenSalem MassBlack Widow, etc. — but a sense of theatricality comes through the subsequent “Cloudy Grey Cube” (also featured in July’s podcast), and it’s more in line with classic Alice Cooper Band than anything so specifically devilish.

There also seems to be a different vocalist on the second of Demo‘s three cuts from that on “How to be You” — the opener also being the longest inclusion; immediate points — but I could be way off on that, and I suppose the nebulous unknown is part of what makes Lewis and the Strange Magics an engaging listen. So far as I know, they’ve done no shows, and while the elephant in the room stylistically here is unquestionably Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, who rode similar garage mystique all the way to an opening slot for Black Sabbath and an impending major market US tour, Lewis and the Strange Magics aren’t so singular in their influence as the construction of their moniker might have you believe. Tonally, Lewis and company delve into vintage-isms, and there are at least two guitars on “Cloudy Grey Cube,” though that could just as easily be tape layering in the solo section before a return to the classic stoner swing of the verse riff that finishes out.

“Golden Threads” rounds out in spooky proto-metal form, a late ’60s Halloween psychedelia persisting in echoing soul vocals and a jangly but threatening intro/chorus riff, a dead giveaway of some underlying metallic influence. The closer opens up to a doomly groove, but never loses its swing, and deftly returns to its verse and instrumental chorus to close the quick 15-minute romp with a hint at darker explorations to come. Whoever they are, Lewis and the Strange Magics have arrived with a strong sense of what they’re looking to accomplish aesthetically, and while I wouldn’t be surprised to find their Soulseller debut a more complex, individualized effort than Demo, the three tracks included here make it easy to understand what all the hubbub is about, trading as they do in a fresh sound and giving another spin on what’s quickly becoming an established subgenre in its own right with garage-influenced doom rock. One way or another, expect to hear more about Lewis and the Strange Magics as they approach their debut proper, since buzz of this sort rarely disappears overnight.

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Demo (2014)

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

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audiObelisk Transmission 038

Posted in Podcasts on July 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

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

As I’ve tried not to do since I started making podcasts again, I kept away from a consistent theme this time around, but I wanted to at least get a blend of bands you’ve probably heard and bands maybe you haven’t. Of course the new Sleep was a given, and new cuts from Electric Wizard and Karma to Burn felt like they needed to be there as well, so they are. But there are a few corresponding inclusions of stuff I’ve been digging that I haven’t had the chance to write about yet — looking at you, USA out of Vietnam, Lewis and the Strange Magics and Deamon’s Child — and while I’ve no doubt you’re already down with those and the rest of what’s included here because you’re on it like that, putting them in here seemed a good way to feature them for anyone not yet exposed who might be interested in checking them out.

If that’s you, please enjoy. The second hour, as usual, is consumed by longer songs, but there are a few in the first hour as well (that Electric Wizard track is over 10 minutes, and the Sleep is close to it), but of the podcasts I’ve put together in the last few months, this one easily flows the best. It was pretty late as I was putting it together last night, so I had the headphones on and was working totally without distraction. I know it’s an unrealistic expectation to think anyone will be able to listen in that manner, but if you get the chance or if you don’t, I hope you have a good time.

First Hour:
Sleep, “The Clarity” from Adult Swim Singles Series (2014)
Electric Wizard, “I am Nothing” from Time to Die (2014)
Lewis and the Strange Magics, “Cloudy Grey Cube” from Demo (2014)
USA Out of Vietnam, “You are a Comet, You are on Fire” from Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (2014)
Serpent Venom, “Lord of Life” from Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)
Deamon’s Child, “Lutscher!” from Deamon’s Child (2014)
Rabbits, “Reek and Ye Shall Find” from Untoward (2014)
Karma to Burn, “Fifty Seven” from Arch Stanton (2014)
The Heavy Co., “One Big Drag” from Uno Dose (2014)

Second Hour:
Wolf Blood, “Dancing on Your Grave” from Wolf Blood (2014)
Frown, “Harpocrates Unborn” from The Greatest Gift to Give (2014)
Merlin, “Lucifer’s Revenge” from Christ Killer (2014)
Causa Sui, “Incipiency Suite” from Pewt’r Sessions 3 (2014)

Total running time: 1:57:27

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 038

 

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