30 Before ’15: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits

Posted in Features on July 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I made this. (Etching by Jacob Strutt 1824)

Before I even start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I want a new Sleep album too. My not including them on this list isn’t due to the fact that I don’t think a new Sleep album is a good idea, but just because I haven’t seen anything about it being recorded or released in the next five-plus months. If it hits on Jan. 1, 2015, I’ll be the happiest Baby New Year you ever saw, but that’s a different list altogether.

Ditto that Om and High on Fire. The latter were writing as of May, and I know Om did some recording way back in January, but I’ve yet to see solid word of new records at all, let alone before the end of the year. Either or both or all three may happen, but until I see some hint of it, all I can go on is the info I can find.

Seriously though, how badass would it be if all three put out albums before the New Year? That excitement is kind of what this list is about. Some of these records I’ve heard, but most I haven’t, so it’s just basic speculation about what I think could be some of the best releases in the next couple months. You’ll note that while there are plenty of dates TBA, nothing listed arrives in November, so as 2014 winds down, there’s bound to be even more quality stuff than appears here.

In fact, I struggled to take things out to get it down to 30. And it still goes to 31! I figured no one would mind. They’re numbered, but the list is in alphabetical order.

If I left something out you’re dying to hear, please let me know in the comments.

Thanks in advance for reading:

 

1. Alunah, TBA (Sept.)

Thee band Alunah. I've used this picture A LOT.
Birmingham’s Alunah, like several others below, are a holdover from the Most Anticipated Albums list back at the start of the year. The difference between now and then is that, while its title still hasn’t been revealed so far as I know, their Napalm Records debut has been recorded, mixed and mastered, the latter by Tony Reed, the former by Greg Chandler of Esoteric, and given a September release date. Two years after Alunah made riffy doom sound easy on their sophomore outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I look forward to hearing how they’ve grown and shifted in their approach to warm-sounding tones and memorable hooks. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

2. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Oct.)

Dudes.
These guys. I don’t mind telling you it was a thrill when Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude were announced as having signed to Cruz del Sur to release their third album, Of Woe and Wounds, this fall. Their second outing, 2010′s Last Sunrise (review here), didn’t get the attention it deserved, but the handful of songs they’ve made public since have shown much promise, and as the first Apostle of Solitude full-length to feature guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay) in harmony with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — the band is completed by bassist Dan Davidson and drummer Corey Webb — this is definitely going to make for a doomly autumn. Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks, Cruz del Sur Music.

3. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance (Aug. 26)

Cartoon Darryl coming soon to Adult Swim. (Art by Alexander von Wieding).
Recorded late last year at Amps vs. Ohms in Boston, the third album from Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat — the prog-drone alter ego of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Roadsaw, etc.) — is the project’s most expansive outing yet, and it seems Shepard is moving more in a song-based direction, rather than some of the building loops of the past two offerings. Of course, there will be plenty of those as well, but watch out for some acoustic guitar, and deep-in-the-mix vocals, as they could easily hint of things to come. Or Darryl could turn it on its head and do a calypso record. Either way, I’m on board with no pretense of impartiality. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp, Small Stone’s Bandcamp.

4. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (Aug. 5)

Lot of this lately.
The much-heralded Swedish/French/American psych-blues conglomeration Blues Pills will make their self-titled debut (short review here) next month, and while it’s probably going to be a bigger deal in Europe than in the States — at least until Nuclear Blast brings them over here for a tour, then the country is going to go apeshit for them — the songwriting and soulful execution of their tracks justifies the hype. There’s a bit of retro posturing to what they do, some Graveyard shuffle (it feels inevitable at this point with a ’70s-influenced band), but the grooves are easy to dig into and the potential is basically limitless for where they want to go. It’s scary to keep in mind, but this is just the beginning. Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.

5. Bongripper, Miserable (July 7)

Frickin' Bongripper.
You may notice something strange about the date above for a list of upcoming albums in that July 7 was yesterday. Well, Chicago’s Bongripper posted their new three-track full-length monster Miserable on their Bandcamp for stream and download ahead of the vinyl’s arrival, and it was just too righteous to leave out. Those seeking landmark riffing need look no further than the 19-minute centerpiece “Descent,” which meters out stomp enough that future “scientists” will study its footprint, and closer “Into Ruin” (28:25) is guaranteed to be the heaviest half-hour you’ll spend today. Miserable feels like a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just because Bongripper have such a propensity for pounding skulls into mush. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, Miserable on Bandcamp.

6. Botanist, VI: Flora (Aug. 11)

Neato.
I feel like I missed a couple numbers from San Francisco-based environmentalist black metal unit Botanist along the way, but they’ll nonetheless issue VI: Flora on The Flenser next month, furthering their marriage of destruction and beauty and insistent percussive expression. The spaces Botanist — a one-man project from Robert Martinelli — create feel ritualistic without the dramatic posturing that pervades much of the genre, and sound, somewhere between raging and mournful, is hypnotic. Whatever your expectation might be, Martinelli seems pleased to use it to their advantage, and ultimately, defy it. Post-human, hammered dulcimer-laden black metal. It would be harder for Botanist to not be unique. Botanist on Thee Facebooks, The Flenser.

7. Brant Bjork, TBA (TBA)

Mr. Bjork, recording.
When Brant Bjork‘s next album might show up, I don’t know. I know he’s signed to Napalm, and I know the photo above was snapped as he finished some vocals before going on tour with his Low Desert Punk band that includes guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, but whether or not the album they made is the funk-inspired Jakoozi that’s been in the offing for a while, or another collection of songs, and if Napalm will get it out before the end of the year remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that for his first “solo” outing post-Vista Chino (that band being on hiatus), Bjork has assembled a new band to work with rather than record multiple instruments himself, but no matter who’s involved, when it’s Brant Bjork writing the songs, it’s gonna be high rock from the low desert. Can’t wait to dig into whatever comes. Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

8. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (Sept.)

Erf.
The headline for Earth‘s new album is it’s the one where they experimented with vocalists. And hey, if you’re going to toy around with the idea, you might as well get Mark Lanegan involved. The former Screaming Trees frontman is one of several singers appearing on Primitive and Deadly, due in September on Southern Lord, and it would appear that Earth‘s sound — always evolving, always somehow changing — is about to take another considerable turn. Fortunately, the Seattle band, led by guitarist Dylan Carlson and now approaching their 25th year, have long since proven worthy of trusting with their own direction. Earth will never be huge, by the simple nature of what they do, but their influence resounds and the quality of their output is unmatched. Earth on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.

9. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (Sept.)

Art by Jus Oborn.
“Wake up baby/It’s time to die.” So goes the title-track hook of Electric Wizard‘s new album and Spinefarm Records debut, Time to Die. As ever, it’s simple, hateful, drenched-in-fuzz misanthropy, and Electric Wizard revel in it accordingly. Their witchcult continues to grow in their native UK and abroad, and while their last two records have divided some listeners, they’ve invariably gained more ground than they’ve lost. A legal dispute with Rise Above finds them on the new label, and if there’s even the slightest chance that change will bring them to the US for a tour, I’ll take it. Expect 66 minutes of glorious filth. Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks, Spinefarm Records.

10. Fever Dog, Second Wind (TBA)

I cropped it.
Palm Desert youngsters Fever Dog have been kicking around the last few years finding their sound in varying elements of heavy rock and psychedelic experimentation. Most recently, they impressed with the single “Iroquois” (review here) taken from their new album Second Wind, and in looking forward to the full-length, I’m eager to learn how their style has solidified and what sort of vibes they conjure over its course. They’ve shown plenty of propensity for jamming in their prior work, so hopefully there’s a bit of that on hand as well. I’ve said before they’re a trio of marked potential, and nothing I’ve yet heard has dissuaded me from that impression. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.

11. Goat, Commune (Sept. 23)

Okey dokey.
Somehow, a band from Sweden who dress up in tribal costumes (problematic) and play Afrobeat psychedelia became a very, very big deal. I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to, and I won’t try, but I know that when Sub Pop releases Goat‘s second album, Commune, it’s going to be to a flurry of hype and heaps of critical fawning. It would be tempting to call Goat a novelty act, but their 2012 debut, World Music (discussed here), showcased a legitimately creative musical approach to go with the visual aspects of their presentation, and I find the fact that I have no idea what to expect from Commune to be refreshing. Goat on Thee Facebooks, Sub Pop Records.

12. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren (Aug. 11)

I guess the bearded brethren forgot their shirts.
UK heavy rockers Grifter will make a welcome resurgence on Ripple Music with The Return of the Bearded Brethren, an album that builds on the straightforward, catchy sounds of their 2011 self-titled label debut (review here) and takes their infectiousness to new places lyrically, such as exploring issues of aging via an ode to Princess Leia from Star Wars. That particular brand of humor and is writ large on Grifter‘s second Ripple outing, and the trio set to work refining their take without losing the engaging feel of their self-titled. It feels like a long three years since that record hit, and I’ll be glad to have a follow-up in-hand. Grifter on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

13. Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz, New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future (TBA)

Aaaaaaaart.
Unclear at this point whether Boston outfits Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz collaborated on New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future, or if it’s a split. Either way, the prolific acts make a sound pairing. Both are vehemently creative and exploratory, psychedelic and progressive each in their way, and if what’s presumably a single finds them working together, all the better, but even if not, new material from either is nothing to balk at, particularly when topped off by such gorgeous artwork. Neither act is ever long from putting something out, so to have them come together one way or another makes a weird brand of sense, which I’m relatively sure the songs will as well. Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks, Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks.

14. Ides of Gemini, Old World New Wave (Sept. 16)

Will make a good tape.
Ides of Gemini‘s 2012 Neurot Recordings debut, Constantinople (discussed here), established the three-piece as freely inhabiting either side of the imaginary line between ambience and heaviness, J. Bennett and Kelly Johnston providing sometimes minimal, sometimes consuming foundations for vocalist Sera Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman, also Black Mare) to cast ethereal melodies. What Old World New Wave will hold sound-wise, I don’t yet know, but Ides of Gemini‘s otherworldly resonance and ultra-patient approach makes it well worth finding out. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

15. John Gallow, Violet Dreams (Aug. 4)

Art by Costin Chioreanu.
Frontman of Blizaro and Orodruin guitarist John James Gallo adds a ‘w’ to his last name and steps out solo on the I, Voidhanger Records release, Violet Dreams, the title hinting at some of his on-his-sleeve affinity for Italian psych-doom master Paul Chain and Swedish legends Candlemass. Gallo‘s work in Blizaro has a tendency to lean toward the progressive and cinematic, but as John Gallow, the focus is more on classic doom riffing and darkened metallurgy. As one would expect, he’s well in his element on the hour-long album, and I hope he decides to call the next one Ancient Theatre. Also note the incredible artwork of Costin Chioreanu. John Gallo on Thee Facebooks, I, Voidhanger Records.

16. John Garcia, John Garcia (Aug. 5)

Are there rams in the desert?
A long-discussed solo debut for the former Kyuss frontman following a stint alongside Brant Bjork in Vista Chino, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) finds the singer right in his comfort zone, topping desert rock riffs with his trademark guttural vocals. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d trade a second Vista Chino outing for it if given the choice — that band seemed to be on course for a sound of its own, separate from Kyuss‘ legacy, and that struck me as worth pursuing — but these songs have a similar enough production style that it’s easy to think of the one as an offshoot of the other, and of course Garcia calls his shots well throughout. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

17. King Buffalo, TBA (TBA)

Pretty sure this is a t-shirt design.
Including King Buffalo here was pretty speculative on my part, but I dig the Rochester, NY, outfit and didn’t want to leave the prospect of their STB Records debut long-player out. It probably won’t land until 2015 — the future! — but their demo (review here) still gets regular plays around these parts, and I’m very much looking forward to catching them with similarly-minded Nashville blues rockers All Them Witches when they tour together next month. Whatever King Buffalo‘s recording/release plans might be, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on in the back half of this year. King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.

18. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy (TBA)

Kangs Deestroy.
Love these guys, love this band. I make no bones about it. Their third record, self-titled and produced as the last two were by Sanford Parker, is as close as they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound, and while they’ve yet to nail down an exact release date, they have a couple very cool tours in the works for this fall, including dates next month with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger, that will make a fitting lead-in to their best outing yet. I’ve heard this and had the chance to see some of the material live, and they’ve outdone themselves again, which, considering the esteem in which I continue to hold their 2013 sophomore full-length, A Time of Hunting, is really saying something. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.

19. The Kings of Frog Island, V (Fall)

Thee ol KOFI.
Easily one of the LPs I’m most eager to hear over the next few months, and specifically on vinyl. The Kings of Frog Island have shown themselves to be so dedicated to the format that their early-2013 album, IV (review here), was presented as two bundled sides even digitally. They recently gave a taste of what their fifth album will in-part hold via a video for “Sunburn” and I’m told more jamminess ensues elsewhere to complement that track’s easygoing flow and platter-ready hook. All the better. The Kings of Frog Island on Thee Facebooks, The Kings of Frog Island on YouTube.

20. Lonely Kamel, Shit City (Sept. 9)

But that's not the way it happened.
I’d be lying if I said part of my immediate interest in Oslo heavy rockers Lonely Kamel‘s fourth record wasn’t due to the cheeky title, but it’s been three years since the Napalm Records four-piece released their last album, Dust (track stream here), and as they’ve put in plenty of road-time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go into this time around with elevated anticipation. I’m not sure you could get away with calling an album Shit City unless you meant business. Got my fingers crossed that’s precisely the case with Lonely Kamel. Lonely Kamel on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

21. Lo-Pan, Colossus (Oct. 7)

Nice. (Art by Jason Alexander Byers) (Oct. 7)
Fucking a. Doing the research for this list was the first I’d seen the Jason Alexander Byers cover art for Lo-Pan‘s fourth album, Colossus, or its Oct. 7 Small Stone release date. I haven’t heard the tracks yet — they recorded in Brooklyn back in March, and while I got 2012′s Salvador (review here) pretty early, the Columbus four-piece seem to be keeping a tighter lid on the follow-up — and I can’t help but feel like that’s my loss. Judging by what I’ve heard of the material live, Lo-Pan have dug further into their individual brand of riff-led soulful heavy, and I’ve got a high wager that a few months from now, Lo-Pan‘s latest will make an appearance on another list. More to come. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

22. Novembers Doom, Bled White (July 15)

Pretty dark for something so white.
One of doom’s most fascinating and largely ignored progressions is that of Chicago melancholists Novembers Doom, who, when they started out 25 years ago, did so largely as a death metal band, and then moved on to pioneer an American interpretation of what’s commonly thought of as European doom, until, over their last several records, as they’ve started to move back to a more extreme, double-kick-drummed style. Bled White, on The End Records, continues along this path, but especially in the cleaner vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr there remain shades of the morose emotionality that typified what’s now become their mid-period doom idolatry. Unheralded, Novembers Doom keep exploring deeper, darker terrain. Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks, The End Records.

23. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Aug. 19)

I requested a copy of this yesterday. A download. The email was ignored. Nice to be put in your place every now and again.
Foundations of Burden is unquestionably among the second half of 2014′s most anticipated albums. Arkansas-based doom four-piece Pallbearer will mark its release with extensive European and North American tours, and where their 2012 Profound Lore debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), came out and caught listeners off-guard with its unabashed emotional core, their sophomore outing finds them positioned at the forefront of American doom. Already the hype machine is rolling out the red carpet for the Billy Anderson-produced Foundations of Burden, but no one can say these guys haven’t put their work in, and the record is indeed one to look forward to. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

24. The Skull, TBA (TBA)

Thee Skulle.  (Photo by Ty Klingsick)
For The Skull to put out an album of original material is a unique challenge. Their earlier-2014 first single (stream/review here) found them standing up to it on the new song “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” but at least half the point of the band since its inception has been to pay homage to legendary doomers Trouble, from whence vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson come. For their Tee Pee Records debut full-length — yet untitled and hopefully out before 2015 — it’ll be most interesting to see how guitarists Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) rise to the occasion of building off some of doom metal’s most celebrated tones. Fingers crossed on this one. The Skull on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.

25. Snail, Feral (TBA)

Also not the album cover.
Nothing has been formally announced yet, but on Small Stone Records‘ website, they list Snail‘s Feral among their upcoming releases. It would make a suitable pairing, the West Coast riffers having previously worked with MeteorCity on their 2009 post-reunion outing, Blood (review here), prior to independently releasing 2012′s Terminus (review here), and Small Stone seems like a good home for their fourth overall record and return to form as a trio, which was their original incarnation before their original dissolution circa 1994. How they expand on the heavier crunch of Terminus remains even more a point of fascination, and surely their cult following will be glad to find out. I know I will. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

26. Steak, Slab City (Sept. 9)

Comics and such.
After two strong EPs in 2012′s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013′s best-title-ever-boasting Corned Beef Colossus (review here), it’s time for London stoner rockers Steak to step up their game for their Napalm Records debut full-length. The four-piece headed to the Californian desert to record Slab City, and so it’s fair to think some of that atmosphere may have worked its way into the material. Would be an awfully long way to go, otherwise. In either case, Steak have showcased considerable songwriting chops already, now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a full album’s runtime and keeping enough variety in their approach. I have no doubt they’re ready for this next step. Steak on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.

27. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean (TBA)

Obviously not the cover, this is Tony Reed's mastering sheet.
It is with simple, unabashed warm feelings that I look forward to hearing Cry of the Ocean, the second long-player and Ripple Music debut from UK riffers Stubb. They’ve traded out drummers since 2012′s self-titled (review here), bringing aboard Tom Fyfe with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, but I’m excited to hear what changes and shifts in sound Cry of the Ocean might have in store to match its provocative title. Goes without saying the photo above isn’t the final artwork, but instead Tony Reed‘s mastering sheet from back in May when he worked on the tracks. No solid release date yet, but hopefully soon. Stubb on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.

28. Torche, TBA (TBA)

Rock. (Photo by Janette Valentine)
Torche‘s new album and Relapse Records debut was originally slated for the end of the summer. Given that no official word has come out about a title or anything like that and the members of the band have been busy with other projects, it seems unlikely as of now that they’ll hit that target, but after something of a break so frontman Steve Brooks could focus on the resurgent trio Floor, Torche are in fact getting going again, beginning with their first tour of Australia this fall. Maybe their LP will be out by the time they go and maybe it won’t, but word on the street is that whenever the thing arrives, it’s gonna be heavy, which I have no problem believing. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.

29. The Well, Monomyth (Late Summer)

Not the final art. At least I don't think it is. I guess it could be.
I’ve been waiting since the March announcement that Austin trio The Well signed with RidingEasy Records for further word of their debut full-length, Monomyth (pretty sure that’s not the cover above), but thus far to no avail. Their 2012 single, Seven (review here), was a repeat-listen thriller, and anticipation abounds for what sort of psychedelic garage riffing they’ll conjure up for the album itself. It’s been a couple months at this point, and maybe it’ll be 2015 before Monomyth gets out, but screw it, a boy can hope. The Well on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

30. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (Sept.)

Not final cover art replaced with band photo.

Please note: The original cover art with this post was not final and has been replaced with the above band photo.

Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain have spent much of the two years following their 2012 third LP, Cauldron of the Wild (review here) on tour in the US and abroad, playing fests, headlining, supporting, but generally putting in a lot of time. As such, Mobile of Angels, which will be out on Svart in Europe and Profound Lore in North America, comes as the end product of a considerable touring cycle. Has all that gigging worn Witch Mountain into the ground, or will they rise above it with metal-loving doom-blues supremacy? They’ve got a vinyl-ready 38 minutes on tap for September and if they’ve ever been in a position to make their case, it’s now. Watch out for the killer sway in “Can’t Settle,” the title of which seems a fitting theme for the band. Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.

31. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (Sept. 2)

Well yeah. Duh. (Art by Orion Landau)
Yet again — as was the case back in January — alphabetical order forces me to end with YOB, whose seventh full-length and Neurot debut might just be my most anticipated of all on this list. The recently-unveiled Orion Landau cover speaks to a brooding sentiment, and from the one time I was fortunate enough to hear it to-date, the four-track album from the Eugene, Oregon, natives corresponds to its visual side in being a more aggressive push than was 2012′s Atma (review here), but also more exploratory and contemplative in its approach. Now statesmen in American doom and the forebears of a cosmic-minded sound, YOB stand ready to showcase a creative progression that has yet to find its end point. YOB on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

Other Notable Mentions

Just a couple of these I’d be remiss if I didn’t note. Some were carried over from earlier this year, others just come up along the way. Not sure on all the release dates, but these are worth keeping an ear out for:

Acid King — Were listed in January, but their record has a Feb. 2015 release date.

Bright Curse — Second album recorded at Skyhammer Studios.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — My understanding is the album is done and they’re waiting to secure a label. Seems like a good occasion for Southern Lord to step forward, if not Profound Lore or Neurot.

Eggnogg — Not sure if it’s their full-length, You’re all Invited, or something else that’s coming, but whatever. More stoner-funk riffing needs to be had.

40 Watt Sun — There was some word of this early in the year, but nothing since.

Godflesh — Their first in 15 years, A World Lit Only by Fire, will be out Oct. 7. A fuckup not including them on the list proper.

It’s Not Night: It’s Space — Eagerly awaiting the Small Stone debut from this instrumental outfit, but it might be next year.

Karma to Burn — New album, Arch Stanton, out in August. I emailed for a review promo and never heard back. Always a great feeling.

Larman Clamor — Solo-project from Alexander von Wieding has a new one in the can, but I’m not sure on the release schedule.

Lowrider — They’re working on it, but don’t hold your breath to have it out by December.

The Machine — Kind of a slow year for Elektrohasch, but the new one from these Dutch fuzzers would be a nice way end up.

NachtmystiumCentury Media releases their final album, The World We Left Behind, on Aug. 5.

Orange Goblin — Seriously debated putting them on the list, since I know they’ve recorded, but they seem to be promoting a recent reissue of 2007′s Healing through Fire and their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus rather than their new album, so unless news comes out about it like this week from Candlelight, I wouldn’t expect it until early in 2015.

Pink Floyd – Believe it when I see it, but I honestly couldn’t care less either way if I tried.

Ruby the Hatchet — Their full-length Tee Pee debut is due sometime in the next couple months.

Sun Voyager — Upstate NY youngsters had hinted at new recordings.

Again, if I forgot anything — and I’m sure I did — please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: Small Stone Boston Showcase with Mellow Bravo, Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Gozu, Roadsaw and Neon Warship, 03.28.14

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve had some pretty landmark good times at Small Stone showcases over the last 10 or so years. Some of them — admittedly, the more recent ones — I’ve even remembered. The last one in Massachusetts was 2012 at Radio in Somerville (review here) was a monster, and as my first time in the upstairs room at the Middle East in Cambridge, I can’t imagine a more fitting occasion. A six-band bill with a shared love of riffs and a record label in common, it was a front-to-back night of volume, distortion, and groove, and from Neon Warship through Roadsaw, Gozu, Lo-Pan, Wo Fat and Mellow Bravo, there was no letup. No moment when you’d want to go outside and smoke or get some air. No moment when the place to be wasn’t in front of the stage.

That’s rare enough when three acts are playing, let alone twice as many. The same lineup minus Mellow Bravo and plus Geezer would play the next night at St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn, but as I had family coming north Saturday and zero dollars for gas, this was my fix. Parking in Cambridge on a Friday night is a singular joy between what’s campus housing for this or that elite-perpetuation factory and other sundry restrictions, but I found a spot and made it into the Middle East well enough in advance of Neon Warship starting off the night. Here’s how it went down from there:

Neon Warship


Of all the acts who’d take stage Friday night, Neon Warship were the most recent addition to the label’s roster. Picked up late in 2013, the Dayton, Ohio, three-piece gave a taste of Small Stone to come with their steady rolling riffs and the post-The Sword vocal stylings of guitarist Kevin Schindel, who when he hit into his higher register made up for some of Freedom Hawk‘s absence from the bill. It was my first exposure to them live, though their 2013 self-titled debut had made an impression, and though they’ve been a band for three years, they came across initially as still getting their feet under them on stage. They were well received by what was rightly a friendly crowd, however, and flourished as their set progressed, getting more comfortable as they went on. It was short sets for everybody, however, so just as Neon Warship were hitting their stride, they were also wrapping up. I doubt it’ll be my last encounter with them, and I’d be interested to see them go longer and have more of a chance to engage the audience. They seemed to be headed in that direction.

Roadsaw

I knew when I left the house that it was going to be an evening of top-notch guitar work. What I didn’t realize was that Ian Ross of Roadsaw was going to meet the quota on his own. Don’t get me wrong — situated as early headliners no doubt to bring in the local crowd early and get them drinking; a nefarious plot that worked wonders — all of Roadsaw was on fire, including new drummer Kyle Rasmussen (Phantom Glue) who recently came aboard to replace Jeremy Hemond for reasons yet undisclosed, but Ross seemed particularly to rise to the occasion that the night presented, and whether he was tearing ass through “The Finger” from 2001′s Rawk ‘n’ Roll or leading the way through the undulating stonerism of “Black Flower,” if it wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen him play, it was certainly close. They finished out with two from their 2011 self-titled (review here) — which at this point is begging for a follow-up — “Long in the Tooth” and “Weight in Gold,” and were nothing if not in headliner form, frontman Craig Riggs sharing a mic with bassist Tim Catz after swinging his enough to dislodge its cable and all four bringing their still-too-short set to a monstrously noisy finish. Sometimes earplugs just don’t matter.

Gozu

Never say never in rock and roll, but at least for the time being this night marked the end of Gozu‘s three-guitar experiment. Lead player Jeff Fultz, who’d pull double-duty with Mellow Bravo, is reportedly on the move out of the area, so there goes that. And while his farewell with Mellow Bravo would be drunker/more emotional later on — he’d been in Mellow Bravo five years, a few months playing with Gozu — it was nonetheless a stellar sendoff. For me, they seemed to affirm the potential for Gozu as a five-piece they showed when I saw this lineup make its debut at the Great Scott back in January (review here), songs like “Irish Dart Fight” and “Meth Cowboy” benefiting both from the extra heft and and still nascent dynamic between Fultz and Doug Sherman‘s soloing. Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney brought his own edge via a Gretsch hollow-body guitar — I don’t play, but if I had the money to spend I’d buy one just to look at it — and Joe Grotto, his foot up on the monitor, was duly animated holding down the low end, while still-relatively-new drummer Mike Hubbard made himself comfortable in the slower, more swinging terrain of “Alone,” the closer from 2010′s Locust Season (review hereand a rare enough inclusion in the set that I don’t think I’d ever seen them play it before. Certainly not since 2013′s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) was released, anyway. They didn’t get to “Meat Charger,” but “Ghost Wipe” had been a raucous enough opener that all was well. They’re ready to hit Europe next month.

Lo-Pan

Oh, it had been too long. Too long. Not quite a year since they headlined the third Eye of the Stoned Goat fest in Brooklyn (review here), but still, that’s too long to go without seeing Lo-Pan. They played a set comprised almost entirely of new material, songs from the fourth album, Colossus, they’re recording with Andrew Schneider in Brooklyn this week, some I’d heard — “Colossus,” “The Duke” — others that were completely new. Hearing a runthrough of something once live is no way to judge how it will sound on record, but as guitarist Brian Fristoe nestled into the open, winding grooves of his own riffs backed by bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz while vocalist Jeff Martin soul-man crooned behind, Lo-Pan sounded like Lo-Pan, and yes, I mean that as a compliment. It means the Ohio four-piece have established their sound and know what sides of what they do they want to develop and they’ve set to the work of that. I pulled my earplugs about halfway out for “El Dorado” from 2011′s Salvador (review here), but even the stuff I hadn’t heard before was easy to appreciate. As the hardest-touring band on Small Stone, Lo-Pan lack nothing for presence on stage, and though I almost got cracked in the head by Thompson‘s bass once or twice and when the night was over, I’m pretty sure it was Bartz‘s crash cymbal ringing in my ears, they silver-plattered a reminder of how vital an act they are. It would be premature to say their best days are ahead of them since Colossus is just now in progress, but they showed the room at the Middle East that anything’s possible, even topping Salvador.

Wo Fat


Getting to see Texas trio Wo Fat play a packed room was one of the highlights of my Roadburn 2013 (review here), and with their second Small Stone outing (fifth overall), The Conjuring, on the way, brief as it was, their set was no less enjoyable here. At the same time they’re probably the best advertisement for Texan tourism I can think of, it’s probably also a good thing they’re from so far away, otherwise I’d probably wind up saying something like, “Oh, it’s only 10 hours. That’s not too far to drive to see Wo Fat again.” The TSA had rifled through guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump‘s gear, so they had to set everything up from scratch before they got going, but once they did, it was a weekend’s worth of fuzz condensed and served in a three-song can. Bassist Tim Wilson was dug in deep for “The Conjuring,” which took hold following a noisy transition from “Nameless Cults” from their 2013 Cyclopean Riffs split LP with Egypt (review here) and in turn shifted via jam into “Sleep of the Black Lotus” from 2012′s The Black Code (review here), the whole set coming across as one consistent riff and fuzz fest, grounded by the plod of drummer Michael Walter. Wo Fat are masters of getting the most out of a slow stoner groove and pushing it into or out of a faster rush (“The Conjuring” does this really well), and the swamp-voodoo lyrical themes they’ve paired with their Fu Manchu-worthy tonality fits perfectly. They don’t have Lo-Pan‘s road experience, but like their Ohio compatriots, Wo Fat clearly know what works in their approach. They wrapped up with a big rock finish — no other way to do it, really — and suddenly the night seemed too short…

Mellow Bravo

…But the fact of the matter is when you want to round out a party in Boston, Mellow Bravo are the way to go. As noted, it was guitarist Jeff Fultz‘s last show with the band, and they were in top form to say goodbye. Irrepressibly outspoken frontman Keith Pierce warned the audience that they were going long in his honor, and while the local six-piece left the room thoroughly entertained — aside from borrowing my camera to take a house-lights-up shot of the crowd, I also saw Pierce at the bar at one point, and he finished the set in the audience — it was readily apparent that for them this was more than just another show or even a label showcase. For Pierce, keyboardist/vocalist Jess Collins, guitarist Andrew Doherty, bassist/vocalist Seager Tennis and drummer Dave Jarvis, they were losing a bandmate and a friend and paying him bittersweet tribute. That’s how it felt watching, anyhow. I’ve seen Mellow Bravo a few times at this point, as well as Collins and Pierce in their acoustic side-project, Tastefulnudes (live review here), and while this was hardly the tightest, crispest set I’ve watched from them, they gave the night a suitable finale, more or less starting an afterparty while they were still playing. To say the very least of it, it was worth sticking around for.

Other bands had started to pack up, but there was still a good deal of milling about, drinking, band-bonding, etc. going on. It was just hitting two in the morning, which had the bar in get-the-fuck-out mode, so I hiked the several blocks back to my car made my way home, more than a little bummed to know what I’d be missing the next night in Brooklyn but feeling fortunate to have been able to see the show I did.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Lo-Pan to Start Recording Next Month; Touring Starts March 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The three years since Lo-Pan released their landmark third album, Salvador (review here), have gone quick, but more importantly, they’ve gone. Ohio’s heavy fuzz four-piece have done no shortage of touring since that record came out (also before), but the time has come for them to get back in the studio, which they’re slated to do next month to record what’s already been dubbed Colossus for a release later this year on Small Stone. True to form, they’re hitting the road for one last go beforehand, turning the two nights of Small Stone‘s Boston and Brooklyn showcases into a 10-date run to honor their newfound alliance with Tone Deaf Touring.

They’re partnered with Whores for that stint, which starts on March 20, and expect more on the release of Colossus in the months to come. Until then:

LO-PAN: Ohio Riff Rock Perpetrators Enter Studio Next Month; Band Unites With Tone Deaf Touring – Live Takeovers Announced

Ohio riff rock perpetrators LO-PAN, will enter Translator Audio in Brooklyn, New York next month to record their forthcoming new full-length for amplification station, Small Stone Recordings. Titled Colossus, the offering will be mixed and mastered by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, The Brought Low, Keelhaul) with art direction by Jason Alexander Byers (Black Black Black, Disengage). A Fall release is expected.

In related news, LO-PAN recently joined forces with the roadburning heavyweights at Tone Deaf Touring (Corrosion Of Conformity, Weedeater, ASG) and will embark upon a short stint of live abrasions later this month alongside manic noiserockers, Whores. The ten-date motorcade will include two special Small Stone Showcases in Cambridge and Brooklyn. The following month, the band will join reunited iconic stoner rock sorcerers, Spirit Caravan, and the wicked doom bringers in Pilgrim for a performance in Columbus with additional bouts of onstage debauchery to be announced in the coming months.

LO-PAN Spring Takeover 2014:
3/20/2014 The Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI w/ Whores
3/21/2014 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL w/ Whores
3/22/2014 Ruby’s – Columbus, OH Ruby’s w/ Fuck You Pay Me, White Wolves
3/23/2014 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH w/ Whores, Fuck You Pay Me
3/24/2014 The Union – Athens, OH w/ Whores, Horseburner
3/25/2014 Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Whores
3/26/2014 The Depot – York, PA w/ Neon Warship, Black Cowgirl, Witch Hazel
3/27/2014 The M Room – Philadelphia, PA w/ Neon Warship, Skeleton Hands
3/28/2014 Small Stone Showcase @ Middle East – Cambridge, MA w/ Roadsaw, Mellow Bravo, Gozu, Neon Warship
3/29/2014 Small Stone Showcase @ Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY w/ Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw, Neon Warship, Geezer
4/09/2014 Skully’s – Columbus, OH w/ Spirit Caravan, Pilgrim
4/17/2014 Pinned 4 – Columbus, OH w/ Neon Warship, Ride To Ruin, Beggers

Check out the revamped lopandemic.com website for show updates, new merch and other LO-PAN-centric awesomeness.

http://lopandemic.com
http://smallstone.com

Lo-Pan, “Colossus” Live in Portland, OR, Dec. 15, 2012

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Visual Evidence: Posters for Small Stone’s March Showcases Revealed

Posted in Visual Evidence on January 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

They’ve been out for a minute at this point, but I had to get these up. Small Stone Records will host showcases in Boston and Brooklyn March 28 and 29, respectively. Roadsaw, Lo-Pan, Gozu, and Neon Warship will play both in Boston at the Middle East and in Brooklyn at the St. Vitus bar, and both shows also mark the Northern debut of Texas fuzz-giants Wo Fat! The Dallas trio will be touring to herald the coming of their fifth album, due in June. If you couldn’t tell by the exclamation point, I’m excited to be seeing them again.

Mellow Bravo (whose lead guitarist, Jeff Fultz, will now be pulling double duty as a member of Gozu) also feature in Boston, while Geezer will add some New York heavy blues to the Brooklyn lineup. Both posters come courtesy of Chris Smith, whose DeviantArt page is here. As you can see below, the two posters are set up to complement each other, and the Boston one is angrier. That more or less sums up the relationship between Boston and NYC as I currently understand it. Extra kudos to Smith for the subtle social commentary.

Click either poster to enlarge, and check out the lineups and other sundry information about both shows below, along with the Bandcamp stream of Wo Fat‘s The Black Code (review here), just for the hell of it:

Small Stone Showcase Boston- March 28th

THE MIDDLE EAST RESTAURANT & NIGHTCLUB
www.mideastclub.com/
472-480 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

Mellow Bravo
Wo Fat
Lo-Pan
GOZU
Roadsaw
Neon Warship

$10

https://www.facebook.com/events/466657083440347/

 

Small Stone Records / Electric Beard Of Doom / Wendigo Productions, LLC. presents the Small Stone NYC Showcase 2014!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Featuring for the first time in NYC… all the way from Tejas… the MIGHTY Wo Fat!

also featuring:
GOZU
ROADSAW
Lo-Pan
Neon Warship
Geezer

More info to follow as things develop… dig!

https://www.facebook.com/events/264203310398369/

Wo Fat, The Black Code (2012)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jeff Martin of Lo-Pan

Posted in Questionnaire on December 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan have been among the underground’s hardest touring bands for the last several years. In 2011, they reissued their 2009 sophomore outing, Sasquanaut (review here), through Small Stone, and followed it with Salvador (review here), a progressive and soulful look at the shape of riff to come. Last Fall, touring alongside High on Fire and Goatwhore showed increasing profile in the public eye for the four-piece, and stints alongside Torche and Weedeater have continued their momentum in 2013. Though he’s generally found positioned behind drummer Jesse Bartz on stage, vocalist Jeff Martin‘s powerful voice has been essential in pushing Lo-Pan beyond the confines of genre.

Last weekend, the band’s practice space in Columbus was robbed and they, among many others, lost gear in the burglary (info here). Prior to that, Martin answered The Obelisk Questionnaire as follows:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jeff Martin

How did you come to do what you do?

I often wonder that myself. If someone told me at 17 that this would be where I was at nearly 35, I wouldn’t have believed them. I look back and I wonder how it all happened, sometimes. I met this person who introduced me to this person who left me and another person came into my life and whamo… Here I am. Life flies by and you sometimes just have to marvel at it later.

Describe your first musical memory.

My mother was a music teacher and choir director when I was growing up, so music was just always around during my childhood. She gave piano lessons and voice lessons at our house, so the halls were always filled with the sound. Probably my earliest memory would be my mom singing me to sleep. In particular I recall that she would sing “O’ Danny Boy” to me while sitting on the edge of my bed. It always did the trick. My mom has a beautiful singing voice.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

The high point thus far would have to be December 22, 2012. My band played in San Francisco at Slim’s with High on Fire and Goatwhore. It was the end of a 45 day tour for us and it was a sold-out show in one of the best clubs in the country. We played really well for a packed house and it just felt fantastic. That was a special night.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

When I was in high school I believed that the government had the best interest of its citizens at heart. Does that answer your question?

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I suppose it depends on the person. With someone like David Bowie I would imagine it leads to free expression and artistic respect that puts him in the upper echelon of musicians that have ever walked the earth. For someone like me it can lead to despair and total frustration. Progression does not always denote growth. Serial killers progress and their crimes become even more horrid. Artistic progression can lead to unfocused blather if it isn’t tempered by rational argument at some point of the process.

How do you define success?

If you attempt something and it goes as you hoped… that’s success. In any field, any size project. Did you accomplish your goals? Yes? Then you are successful. There are many rungs on that ladder, though. Incremental success is something most people have to come to terms with. Measured success, as opposed to complete success must sometimes be enough.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

One time I came in contact with a musician that I have idolized for many years and he was a total mess. It was gross. He was rude and awful. It changed my opinion of him and of his music. A total bummer.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I would like to learn more tools and fabrication of different materials. I would like to have a talent for building furniture, or other items.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to finishing and actually performing a comedy routine that I have been working on for some time.

Lo-Pan, “Chichen Itza” official video

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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Lo-Pan, Deadsea, Brujas del Sol & Others’ Practice Space Robbed

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Though in the past I’ve advocated its use in everything from cases of sexual assault to murder to someone cutting me off in traffic, I don’t actually believe in the death penalty. Among the strongest arguments in capital punishment’s favor, however, are people who steal from bands. Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve said it. Steal from corporations. They have money, and the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of shit like the below is nothing to them. To take equipment from people who actually either broke their asses playing out to earn the money to buy it or who balance a dayjob existence with their insatiable need to create something is fucking disgusting. I hope when the cops find whoever did this, they’ve been hit by a bus.

Along with a slew of others robbed early this past Saturday morning in a Columbus, Ohio, rehearsal space, Lo-Pan lost equipment and sent out the following updates via Thee Facebook. Goes without saying that if you’re in that part of the world and you see any of this stuff, do whatever you can to help the bands get it back.

Bummer note to start a week on, but imagine how the bands feel:

Our hearts go out to friends from Brujas Del Sol, Ride to Ruin, Fevernest/Struck By Lightening, Prosanctus Inferi, and others that had gear stolen in the break-in at our rehearsal facility. We also lost items but our lost gear pales in comparison to that of some others.

Be on the lookout for lists of stolen gear from these bands and others and let’s try to help them find their stuff. Mostly lots of guitars were taken and a couple of larger items.

Stealing a bands gear is one of the most low-bottom things you can do. Don’t do that. Just don’t.

A big thank to everyone for the outpouring of interest following the theft of our rehearsal space Friday night/Saturday morning. We had over 240 shares of our status with the gear list in 15 hours…that is amazing. Word has spread far and wide and we thank all of our friends for your assistance.

Let’s keep up the good work and get this equipment back where it belongs. The police are working hard and progress is happening. You may not see specifics regarding leads or suspects in the interest of preserving the investigation but rest assured that work is being done.

Special thanks to the amazing Columbus Arts Community, which has come together in a manor seldom seen. Respect.

Here is an up to date list of all things taken from our rehearsal space last night. PLEASE REPOST THIS EVERYWHERE.

A. Yakuza Heart Attack
Brat Curse – white Japanese Fender Mustang
B. Struck By Lightning/ Earthburner/
200? Gibson Les Paul Custom – Black w/ Gold hardware Lace drop and gain pick ups installed. Dimarzio strap locks. Oversized string gauge set up.
1978 Gibson RD Artist – Vintage Burst w/ Gold hardware Lace drop and gain pick ups installed Chris Krump engraved on the trus rod cover Schaller strap locks Oversized string gauge set up.
60th Anniversary eddition American Fender Telecaster – Tri Burst w/ Black pick guard. Oversized string gauge set up.
Jackson Rhodes – Black. String through body.
1979 Gibson G3 Bass Guitar – Vintage Burst. Missing bridge cover. Oversized string gauge set up.
200? Gibson Les Paul Studio – Black w/ Gold hardware. Neck repair. Dimarzio strap locks.
200? Gibson SG Special – Ebony w/ Chrome hardware. Dimarzio x2n bridge pick up. Dimarzio Air Norton neck pick up. Dimarzio strap locks.
198? Peavy Dyna Bass Guitar – Black Dimarzio strap locks.
Mexican Fender P Bass – Black w/ Black pick guard. EMG active pick ups. Chip on top horn. Dimarzio strap locks.
2 198? Peavy Mark IV Bass Amps. Electrical tape on the front.
Roadrunner RRMBGABS Molded bass guitar case – Black. Monster cables and Mogami cables inside.

C. Bummers/Tight Bros
Fender Telecaster (made in mexico, 3 saddle bridge, brown sunburst with paint chipped off the entire back)
Fender Stratocaster Standard (made in Mexico, black with white pickguard, large amount of sticker residue on body)

D. Lo-Pan
1 off brand custom stratocaster in case…pieced together not really traceable
2 – JBL PA towers 2×15
1- Shure SM 57

E. Brujas del Sol
2002-4 LAKE PLACID BLUE (white pickguard) crafted in japan Fender Jaguar
2009/10 TWO TONE SUNBURST (black pickguard) American Special Fender Stratocaster
2003/04 ALL BLACK Made in Mexico Telecaster
2002-5 Ibanez Omar Rodriguez Pro Model. White with Red tortoise guard.
1988/89 MIJ White Jazz Bass
Warmoth Custom P/Jazz Bass Surf green/Black pickguard. (one of a kind)
2012 Fender Pawn shop Bass XI. Black. Tortoise guard.

F. Magnumb Opus
Fender Deluxe Reverb 1×12 22W Amp (serial on request) – black casing with silver face
A second Fender Deluxe Reverb 1X12X22W Amp (serial on request)
(Bypass switch is missing on this amp on the back panel)
Ibanez AF 55 Art Core Hollow Body Guitar Red – Valued at 450.00

G. Little Professors
1 Fender Deluxe Jazz Bass(most likely Mexican made) Cream body w/ Tortoise pick guard
1 Maroon Hollow body Silvertone Guitar
1959 Danelectro Reissue guitar, black body w/ white pickguard

H. Smoking Guns/Matt Monta
untouched

I. Weight of Whales
Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe
Fender Frontman 212R with a bunch of local stickers on top
Behringer XENYX X1622USB USB Mixer with Effects
Dell Inspiron XPS Laptop
Ibanez 1977 Acoustic Guitar
Wood Fender Ukulele
Black Rogue Mandolin
Black Mexican Fender Stratocaster

J. ROEVY
Pioneer DJM 900 Nexus
Odyssey Black Flight Case

K. RIde to Ruin
Black Gibson Les Paul with three pickups (two gold and one pearl) in an epiphany hardshell case with lots of stickers
White 60′s Gibson Melody maker with a neck repair, one hum bucker in the bridge and one single coil in the neck in a gibson hardshell case (the serial number is painted over)
Green Lotus double cutaway with two humbuckers in a heavy duty flight case with a billy preston stencil on it
Black Epiphone Les Paul with two pickups and very heavy gauge strings in a soft-shell case.
Black Samic Strat copy in soft shell case

L. Deadsea
Modulus Quantum 5 5-string bass with graphite neck- dark green/black (serial number available upon request)
Ibanez Professional Model 2681 blonde guitar with pearl inlay on body and neck (serial number available upon request)
B.C Rich NJ Warbest Deluxe
Ibanez Xiphos XPT700

https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic

Lo-Pan, Live at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3, Brooklyn, July 27, 2013

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Visual Evidence: Freedom Hawk, Gozu, Lo-Pan, Luder & The Brought Low Headed to Detroit Oct. 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Well established that I’m a sucker for a cool rock show and a cool rock poster, so when greeted by both, I’ve little choice in the matter of posting it. Enfectious Erf out of Memphis concocted the classy design below for what was previously announced taking place a week earlier as Small Stone‘s Detroit fall showcase and now seems to be less that than just another killer show with bands on the label, though it will also serve as the release party for Detroit-native progressive heavy rockers Luder‘s new album, Adelphophagia. In town for the night will be Freedom Hawk, Gozu, The Brought Low and Lo-Pan, so whether or not it’s an official showcase is immediately secondary to how much ass the night is going to kick. The Brought Low rarely get out that far, so Midwesterners take note, and any time Lo-Pan and Gozu get together, trouble is made. Very loud trouble.

Here’s the poster for the show, which you can click to enlarge if its current size isn’t big enough:

Small Stone Records Presents:
Freedom Hawk, Gozu, Lo-Pan, Luder, The Brought Low

7pm – All Ages – Tickets $10

Advance Tickets: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3722674

https://www.facebook.com/events/643001622377153/

Luder, Adelphophagia (2013)

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Rebreather, Lo-Pan, Vulture, The Ravenna Arsenal and More Playing Blackout Cookout IV

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Generally notable for its sick lineup culling together some of Ohio’s best in heavy from the rarely-seen Rebreather on through Mockingbird and Venomin James, the roster of acts for The Blackout Cookout IV gains even more traction for being one of the last shows Pittsburgh’s Vulture will play prior to their recently-announced disbanding. Between that and reported bevvy of smoked meats, it doesn’t seem like there’s really any way to lose out. Blackout Cookout IV is set for Aug. 24 at The Outpost in Kent, Ohio.

The PR wire sends urgings:

Here we go again! It’s time for another drunken summer bash at The Outpost. We have some new comers to the lineup this year along with some bands returning to fuck shit up once again. Aaron Schultz (Schultzs Smokin Pit) will be BBQing a ton of food for all of us to eat. Presale entry is available at ticketfly.com for $10.00 or at the door day of show for $13.00. You do not want to miss this show. Good times will be had by all. Get to the Post!!!

On August 24th in Kent, OH we will be throwing The Blackout Cookout IV. It is a party at The Outpost that has grown every year since its creation. Last year we had KEELHAUL and LO-PAN, VULTURE, and many other great sludge and doom bands.

This year we have LO-PAN returning along with REBREATHER, MOCKINGBIRD, THE UNCLEAN, THE RAVENNA ARSENAL, and VULTURE! What makes this year special is it is the first of VULTURE’s last two shows ever.

Schultzs Smokin Pit smokes meat all day to eat and 12 bands will be alternating on 2 stages. This year’s lineup is…LYCOSA, SUPER PREDATOR, SHOWBOY, VENOMIN JAMES, FULLY CONSUMED, DEATHCRAWL, VULTURE, THE RAVENNA ARSENAL, THE UNCLEAN, MOCKINGBIRD, LO-PAN, and REBREATHER.

Anyone from the area or anyone who would like to travel should come check out this great food and music. If not at least help spread the word.

https://www.facebook.com/events/439888349430810/

The Ravenna Arsenal, Live at Blackout Cookout III, 2012

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Live Review: The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn, 07.27.13

Posted in Reviews on July 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Though most of the acts were out-of-town imports, there was a strong familial vibe at The Acheron even before The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 got started. Not knowing what traffic wonders awaited on a Saturday evening — could be nothing, could be armageddon — I headed into Brooklyn early so as to catch the start of the nine-band bill and got there well in advance of commencement. Plenty of time to sit outside and chat with fest organizer Brendan Burns, who’d later take the stage with his band Wasted Theory, Pat Harrington of Geezer and the Electric Beard of Doom podcast — who were among the presenters of the show along with The Obelisk, Small Stone Records, Wendigo and Burns‘ own Snakecharmer Booking — the cats from Lo-Pan and plenty of others coming through.

It was still sunny out with a few hours of daylight to come, but people were beginning to assemble. Word of the show had spread pretty well, so although people came and went throughout the evening and seemed to split their time between The Acheron‘s venue room and The Anchord Inn, which occupies the other half of the space, there wasn’t any point where I’d say it cleared out, and right up to when Lo-Pan took the stage as headliners, there was a steady build of heads filling the room. The bar next to the stage was certainly busy all night.

Soon enough, though, it was time to go inside as the night started to get underway with Philly merchants of stone, Wizard Eye. From there, it was a one-after-the-next succession of heavy. Here’s how it all went down:

Wizard Eye

They’re veterans of Eye of the Stoned Goat by now, but where the second installment earlier this year in Delaware had them teamed with fellow Philadelphia natives Heavy Temple, Thee Nosebleeds and Clamfight, in Brooklyn, they were on their own in representing the City of Brotherly Love. Not only that, but it was their third show with new drummer Mike in the trio with the dreaded guitarist/vocalist Erik Caplan and bassist/backing vocalist Dave. If there was any anxiety on their part, they didn’t show it. Wizard Eye seemed as comfortable as ever as they nestled into their thick, air-pushing Sleep-style stoner grooves, Caplan moving from his guitar to the theremin at just the moment when it seemed the former wouldn’t deliver anymore wail than that which had already been extracted from it. My overarching impression of the band remains the same as when I saw them in February — they need to get an album out. It’s time and even being 33 percent new, their presentation was tight enough to make me think they’re more than ready to go. Hopefully soon.

Geezer

If Wizard Eye were the stonerly start, then NYC’s Geezer were the answer for anyone looking for a taste of blues, guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington working in a liberal use of slide while bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Turco filled out a heavy rocking stomp behind the classically fuzzed distortion and gravelly vocals. The band is still fresh off the release of their impressive 2013 Gage EP (discussed here), and they brought that jammier sensibility to their set, seeming right at home in slower progressions that they made move when they needed them to and offering unpretentious drinkin’ man’s music well met by the getting-started crowd. Harrington‘s was among the most believable “whiskey-soaked” style singing that I’ve heard in years, and he and Villano (who also play in Gaggle of Cocks together) obviously had years’ worth of chemistry working in their favor, despite Geezer being a relatively recent advent. Closer “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” was a highlight, and as they’re reportedly working on a vinyl release for Gage, they seem to be building some momentum going into whatever they have in the works for after that. A solid blues-based heavy rock jam is something I’ll never argue with, and Geezer had that in spades.

Wasted Theory


Up from their home in Bear, Delaware, double-guitar unit Wasted Theory handled themselves well on The Acheron‘s stage, as Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 organizer Brendan Burns sat back for drums behind guitarist/vocalist Jackson, lead guitarist M. Kramer and bassist J., the four-piece striking hard on a balance of post-Down Southern metal and more driving stoner fare. They seemed in good spirits after having performed about a month ago at the Moving the Earth festival in Baltimore, and as they hit into songs off this year’s GodSpeed EP and Jackson swung his guitar around his back, they seemed to have come far even since I got my first glimpse of them earlier this year, locking in some fervent Pepper Keenan-style chugging on guitar while J. gave the riffs a thick foundation to rest on. They were energetic and engaged the whole way through, and though they didn’t pull in the biggest crowd of the night, they capped off with a motor-boogieing new song, Jackson half on guitar, that positioned them well coming out of GodSpeed. By the time they were done with their short set, the fest seemed like it was moving along quickly.

Borracho


I’d reviewed it the day before, so I don’t think Borracho‘s second album, Oculus, would’ve been any fresher on my mind if I’d listened to it on the way to the show. The D.C.-based trio had been out the weekend before for a set of four gigs with Lo-Pan, so I expected they’d be pretty tight and they did not disappoint. Owing to time constraints, they only played three or four songs, starting out with “Empty” and “Stockpile,” the opener and centerpiece from Oculus. Guitarist Steve Fisher has taken to the vocalist role well, and he seemed right at home on both of the Oculus cuts, the set as well giving me a whole new appreciation for the richness of bassist Tim Martin‘s tone. Dense and packed with low end push, it created the waves on which Borracho‘s slower grooves rode, punctuated and given further physicality during the jammier stretches of “Stockpile” by drummer Mario Trubiano. Dipping back to their 2011 debut, Splitting Sky, the trio capped off with the quick burst of “Concentric Circles,” Fisher showing no hesitation to deliver the lines shouting up into a dangling microphone, Motörhead-style. The earlier sets were all pretty short — 25 minutes for the first couple bands, then 30 for the next several — but Borracho had enough time to pack in maximum riffage and give anyone there who’d never seen them before a good idea of where they were coming from as a three-piece.

Lord Fowl

Here’s where I’m at with New Haven, Connecticut, four-piece Lord Fowl. They’re so tight and so professional that on stage they look like they could be playing one of those all-day amphitheater commercial radio shows with a goofy name. You know the ones: “WFUK presents the Summer Fling this Saturday at the Giant Corporate Bank Park,” and so on. Only snag is Lord Fowl don’t suck and all those bands do. It’s been over two years since I first saw them, and while they may not have the same kind of surprise factor going as they did that night, my enjoyment for what they do has only increased as they’ve gotten signed to Small Stone and last year released, Moon Queen (review here). Opening with the same wow-that-cop-is-saying-some-racist-shit sample that starts the song on the album, they kicked into the funk-riffed “Dirty Driving” as guitarists Vechel Jaynes and Mike Pellegrino traded off vocal parts, setting the tone for the rest of their all-too-short set. “Split” and “Hollow Horn” were welcome inclusions, bassist John Conine and drummer Don Freeman locking in with the starts and stops of the latter, balancing classic rock and modern heavy off each other with born-to-do-it ease. I asked Jaynes afterwards and he said a new record’s in the works, which was some of the best news I heard all night.

Supermachine

To my knowledge, no such award was handed out, but if Eye of the Stoned Goat wanted to start handing out prizes for the prettiest guitars, one would almost certainly have gone to Supermachine‘s Jay Fortin. I don’t even play guitar and the sight of his gold-trimmed, hollow-body Gretsch had me in awe, both in look and sound. As Fortin, bassist Dave Jarvis, drummer Mike McNeil and vocalist David Nebbia stepped into the New Hampshire biker rock groove of “Buffalo,” I could hear a touch of the tonality Fortin and Jarvis brought to their prior outfit together, Scissorfight, and while I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to listen to Supermachine and not consider that context — which isn’t really fair to the band, who are going for a different style altogether; it’s also why I’ve not to date reviewed their self-titled debut — there’s no doubt they’re a crisp, clear-headed and heavy four-piece who can put together a dead-on, ballsy set. “Crutch” was absurdly catchy and correspondingly full sounding, new song “Broiled Alive” was, well, also those things, and I came away from their set glad I had seen them before and had some sense of what to expect, since it allowed me more of a chance to relax and take Supermachine in on their own level. That being the case, I wondered if maybe repeat exposure would continue the trend, and if so, I could think of far worse things.

Black Black Black

The first two words in the page of notes I took during the Black Black Black set were “holy” and “shit.” The only New York band on the bill besides Geezer — also the only other act playing Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 besides Geezer that I hadn’t seen live before — Black Black Black took the stage in unassuming-enough fashion and proceeded to demolish the space around them. It was like they decided to bring their self-titled debut (see here, here and here) to life and then punch everyone in the face with it. “Light Light Light” crushed in a manner that threw down a gauntlet that dared Gozu and Lo-Pan to match its weight, and “Pentagram On,” “Wisdom, Knowledge and Fucked,” the raging “ReDeath” and “Son of Bad” brought a zero-genre-allegiance sonic versatility that was lethal in kind to the band’s presentation of the material. As their time wore on — it went quickly, make no mistake — and guitarist Jacob Cox manipulated feedback to add atmosphere to the pummel, I tried to think back to the last time I got a recommendation as good as when Jesse Bartz from Lo-Pan put me onto them. I couldn’t come up with anything. With no loss of energy or assault in their delivery, Black Black Black – Cox, vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, bassist Jonathan Swafford and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher – included two new songs near the end, the latter of which offset a shuffling riff with vocals that bordered on airy before they shifted into their final round of intense bludgeoning. It was, in short, a fucking delight.

Gozu

It made a strange kind of sense to me as I watched Boston’s Gozu load onto the stage that, last weekend, I should be in Boston watching The Brought Low at a show which members of Gozu were attending just to hang out, while this weekend, I’m in New York watching Gozu, who are from Boston, and here’s Ben Smith from The Brought Low, come to check out the gig. I feel like there’s some element of symmetry there and I just don’t have a brain able to process mathematics complex enough to enjoy it. Nonetheless, at The Acheron, Gozu played the heaviest set I’ve ever seen them play. Whether it was “Bald Bull,” the thrashing “Charles Bronson Pinchot” or the boogie-ready “Snake Plissken” from this year’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), or “Regal Beagle” from their 2010 Locust Season debut, everything they played seemed to pack some extra bite, and particularly in the case of drummer Barry Spillberg, the band hand-delivered a rager that set back some of their soul influence in favor of showing off hardcore roots, closing out with “Mr. Riddle” from Locust Season, which had thrust enough to its groove alone to justify Gozu’s place on the bill. I don’t generally think of Gozu as putting such an emphasis on heaviness — yeah, they’re a heavy rock band and guitarists Marc Gaffney and Doug Sherman and bassist Jay Grotto obviously have heft to their tones — but this was a different league entirely. They were almost metal, but if metal pulled its head out of its ass and remembered how good it felt to groove every now and again. Whatever symmetry I may have enjoyed in seeing them in New York this weekend, that was trumped easily by their actual performance, which was downright threatening.

Lo-Pan

It had been a long day. Lo-Pan were slated to hit the stage at midnight, and by the time they did — give or take a few minutes, but basically on time — I was long since beat, but already eight bands deep, there was no way I was missing anything the Ohio fuzz rockers had to offer. And I was even gladder I didn’t cut out early once they actually started playing; the setlist was packed with new material. “Eastern Seas” and “Colossus” were aired — familiar titles from recent shows — but “Hunters,” which if I’m not mistaken Jeff Martin said was being played for the first time (don’t quote me), brought out guttural, soulful shouts from the singer powerful enough to cut through the volume of the three players — bassist Scott Thompson, drummer Jesse Bartz and guitarist Brian “It’s His Tone, We’re Just Living in It” Fristoe — positioned in front of him. Light moshing occurred, which I guess is what happens when people 25 and under show up to gigs. New songs were joined by the familiar rush of “Deciduous” and “Generations” from 2011′s there’s-no-hyperbole-left-for-me-to-use-so-I’ll-just-say-it’s-fucking-awesome Small Stone debut, Salvador (review here), but Lo-Pan returned to new material to close out, ending off their set with “The Duke,” on which Martin‘s voice was presented sort of answering itself in delay. The final locked-in groove of that song justified its position as the finale, but when Lo-Pan were done, the shouts of “one more!” were immediate. Bartz had already gotten off the stage, but he came back up and Martin said they’d only do one more if someone bought Scott a shot of whiskey. It arrived during the first verse of “Kurtz” and was fed into his mouth as he played. More moshing ensued — heathens! — and Lo-Pan capped a killer night with a spectacle well worth sticking around to see. Until next time.

The efforts of Brendan Burns in making Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 happen are worth reiterating and commending. The Acheron also made an excellent host for the show — the sound straight through left nothing wanting in either volume, devastation or clarity — and each of the bands stepped up to deliver a fitting answer to the one in front of them, starting with Wizard Eye and ending with Lo-Pan. I got out of Brooklyn on the quick since it was already pushing 1AM, got back to my humble river valley a little after two and crashed out, satisfied that there was no more I could’ve asked of the night.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Lo-Pan Interview with Jesse Bartz: Living a Good Time Fast

Posted in Features on July 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This Saturday, Lo-Pan will take the stage as headliners at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn, New York. Sharing the bill with the stalwart Ohio road dogs is a litany of heavy rockers worthy of repute, some labelmates on Small Stone, others up and comers playing with a similarly fuzzed, riff-minded style. All told, The Acheron plays host to one of the sickest lineups of the year on July 27, with Lo-Pan at the top alongside Gozu, Supermachine, Black Black Black, BorrachoWizard Eye, Lord Fowl, Geezer and Wasted Theory, whose own drummer, Brendan Burns (interview here), is responsible for booking the fest.

The Stoned Goat gig comes as the latest in a series of righteous happenings for Lo-Pan, whose considerable touring is beginning to pay off with — what else? — more touring. Making their way into Brooklyn as the final in a set of four dates with Gozu, Lo-Pan have been using July as a vehicle for long weekenders, first with Indianapolis-based rockers Devil to Pay, then a handful of shows including last weekend at StaVentfest in Pennsylvania with D.C.’s Borracho — also playing in Brooklyn — following a couple weeks off after spending the first half of June on tour with Torche and KENmode. All this is ostensibly to support a vinyl reissue through Small Stone of Lo-Pan‘s landmark 2009 sophomore outing, Sasquanaut, which also got a CD revisit in 2011 (review here), but really, it’s just Lo-Pan continuing to do what they do best, and that’s hand-deliver some of the finest fuzz being produced in the US, or anywhere else for that matter.

Since this is all going down even as the band continues to write and road test new material for a follow-up to 2011′s will-still-put-you-on-your-ass-two-years-later third album, Salvador (review here), it seemed to me a prime time to get on the phone with drummer Jesse Bartz (not for the first time) for a brief check-in about the band’s latest doings, how they see the effort and time they’ve put in starting to result in shows  like those with Torche or with High on Fire last fall, the timing on when they’ll look to put the next record to tape, and much more. Bartz – joined in the band by guitarist Brian Fristoe, vocalist Jeff Martin and bassist Scott Thompson — was forthcoming and realistic as ever about the work Lo-Pan has done to this point and the work they still have ahead of them.

So, with The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 this weekend, a tour with Weedeater next month, the Sasquanaut vinyl out now and their focus geared toward a European tour in support of their next album in 2014, you’ll find my quick Q&A with Jesse Bartz after the jump.

Please enjoy:

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Small Stone Records Announce Date for Fall Detroit Showcase

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is just the preliminary of the preliminary announcements, but a Small Stone label showcase is always a good time — seriously, I’m the most miserable bastard you could ever hope to (not) meet and I have a blast whenever I’m fortunate enough to attend one of the things — so I figured better to get the word out early so anyone interested in making the trip could mark the calendar now. The lineup for this year’s Detroit gig is still coming together, but already you’ve got Gozu, Lord Fowl, Lo-Pan and Luder on the bill, so for a whopping $10, it officially qualifies as what I believe the kids might call a “sick show.”

Oct. 12 is the date, The Magic Stick is the place. Here it is from the source:

Date: 10/12/2013
Venue: The Magic Stick
Location: Detroit, MI
Line Up: Gozu, Lord Fowl, Lo-Pan, Luder, TBA (most likely Freedom Hawk or Sasquatch).
Doors: 7:30 – All Ages
Price: $10.00

Small Stone Records

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Jeff Martin’s Lo-Pan Tour Diary — July 6 & 7

Posted in Features on July 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Lo-Pan‘s touring adventures continue. In our last installment, the Ohio heavy rock four-piece stomped their way through Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago, and having covered that ground, this time around they’ve moved on to Madison, Wisconsin, and Indianapolis on their tour with Indy-based Devil to Pay.

Please enjoy, and note that the lead photo here was taken by Devil to Pay‘s own Steve Jankiak:

July 6th and 7th — “Eat a Sandwich”

Did you know Otis Redding was from Madison, Wisconsin? Well, he was. So was Chris Farley. This auspicious town was the locale for our next tour adventure.

We woke up early in Chicago in order to get to Madison by the early afternoon. About a year ago a friend of ours took us to this amazing deli in Madison and hooked us up on some great sandwiches so we always like to revisit that spot when we are in town. Hospitality on tour is like a full tank of gas, or a clean load of laundry — it kind of sets everything back to zero and allows you to start fresh. In my experience, when you go on tour you start out with a plan. I’ve got so many so-and-so’s for so many days and this do-hickey goes in this pocket and that’s where it will be forever. Well, after about eight days, things start to become a little less concrete. Pockets of things change. Things break or get lost. You get hot and tired and you just plain stop caring about those things. After around 15 days you start to degrade into an animal state of instinct and muscle memory. 30 days in, you don’t even remember what home feels like. 40 days and wherever you are is your home. Then, when you go home, it takes a while to adjust. All of this is to illustrate that when you find hospitality — a welcome smile, a great plate of food, a person who lets you enter their home and use it as your own for a little while — all of these things serve to reset the dials, and get you centered to carry on. Madison is such a place for us because it is home to some very hospitable and kind people. It’s one of those places that when you are a few days away you start to hear the mantra, “If we can just make it to Madison, everything will be ok.” So we made it to Madison, our Midwest oasis.

The show was at a bar called Mr. Roberts. We had never played there before so we didn’t know what to expect. We were set to play with a band called The Garza. They are a three piece featuring our friend Nate Bush on bass. We made Nate’s acquaintance a couple of years ago when he was playing bass for Madison band Droids Attack. In addition, the drummer for The Garza [Mike "Magma" Henry] is also in Bongzilla. Hopefully for your sake, Bongzilla need no introduction. The last time we played in Madison was on tour with High on Fire. The show that time was at High Noon Saloon. This was certainly a different situation, but we did see quite a few people at this show that remembered us from the last show. It’s good to see that our travels and work are paying off.

Devil to Pay started off the evening with a killer set. DTP are one of those bands that seem to nail their recorded sound in a live setting, and do it with ease. We played second out of three bands and we decided to change up our set tonight. We were playing Sasquanaut start to finish but on the drive to Madison we decided we would rather play our newer material and that people would just have to deal with it. Whatever! We do what we want! The Garza closed out the night and after some drinks and laughs we packed up and headed to our accommodations for the evening.

Brian is a friend of ours and he owns a tattoo shop in Madison. He let us stay in his posh tattoo studio for the evening. I had an honest-to-goodness couch to sleep on. Jesse slept on his air mattress and Fristoe took up residence on an amazingly adjustable tattoo chair. Skot, however decided to sleep on the floor despite the availability of other tattoo chairs. Skot Thompson is a floor-sleeping sumbitch. He loves it. Got a hardwood, concrete, or tile floor? Skot will sleep on it. Got a dining room table? Skot will sleep under it. And he will sleep well.

We woke up around 9:30AM and tattoo Brian came to take us to breakfast. Nice guy, that Brian. We said our goodbyes and headed off towards Indianapolis.

Indianapolis, Indiana. Indy’s Jukebox Live. Devil to Pay is from Indianapolis. Do you know what else is from Indianapolis? I’m asking because I don’t know. Or maybe I just don’t care. If you have ever driven through Indiana, then you know what a wholly depressing place it can be. Unless you are into extremely flat, corn covered vistas, there is not much outside of DTP to lure you to the Hoosier State. Actually, President William Henry Harrison was from there. I stand corrected.

On the bill for this show were Death Trap and Stealing Volume. Death Trap seemed to be having some technical difficulties during their set. They got off to a rocky start but finally got it dialed in towards the end. It sucks when you are just trying to play some music but you end up wrestling your gear into submission the whole time instead. Stealing Volume was a surprise to me. They had a punchy punk sound and they were very tight. Really good stage presence and delivery. I liked Stealing Volume very much. We played what felt like a good set to a sparse but engrossed audience and Devil to Pay headlined for the home town. After the show we packed up rather quickly and headed for home. Real life loomed large on the horizon, at least for a few days until we pick back up with the DTP boys in Detroit.

Until then…

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Jeff Martin’s Lo-Pan Tour Diary — July 4 & 5

Posted in Features on July 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ohio fuzz foursome Lo-Pan are currently on the road alongside Devil to Pay supporting the vinyl release of their 2009 album, Sasquanaut. Frontman Jeff Martin has agreed to give us the inside track with a tour diary as the shows play out, and in this first installment, the band is starting out in Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois.

Lo-Pan is Martin on vocals, guitarist Brian Fristoe, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz. Enjoy:

July 4th &5th – “Doing Crunches”

I am back on the road yet again with Lo-Pan. We started off in Dayton, Ohio, at Blind Bob’s with our old friends Devil to Pay (minus guitar man number two, Rob Hough). For some strange reason, Rob decided not to join the band for this show. We have toured many times with DTP and Rob’s absence is noticeable and strange. He will pick back up with us tomorrow in Chicago but it was Indy’s finest as a three-piece, with Dayton bands Close the Hatch and the always-entertaining Neon Warship set to play.

This show fell on Independence Day. The 4th has to be the A#1 holiday for Lo-Pan. We celebrate and revere our freedom every day and this is the culmination of that mindset. All of our ‘Merica, flag-waving bravado is sure to be on full display. Marvel at and fear us! We weren’t sure what to expect on July 4 in Dayton. Would it be a barren wasteland or would Dayton show up and represent for rock music? Well I am proud to announce that Dayton – and more importantly, Ohio – showed up in full force.

This is not to suggest that we didn’t encounter our fair share of oddballs in Dayton. We always seem to attract the strangest and most out-there people in any town. I am trying to determine which weirdo takes the cake on this particular occasion; perhaps the drunken co-ed who bought a Lo-Pan t-shirt and then appointed herself merch girl extraordinaire and proceeded to bully passers-by into purchasing copious amounts of merchandise? Maybe it was the equally drunk townie and his French companion who decided to share with me his outlandish and less than racially conscious opinions on the President of the United States? Certainly one of the most bizarre unsolicited encounters in recent memory. I think drunken townie takes the taco in this contest for the sheer fact that I can’t stop thinking about the incident.

All in all the show went very well. It feels good to be back on the road and it feels even better to be playing some songs we haven’t played in a very long time. Small Stone Records has rereleased our album Sasquanaut on vinyl and to celebrate that, we are playing the whole album start to finish each night. Some of these songs we haven’t played in more than three years. So it’s nice to revisit some old material and to feel the differences between older songs and new. All the bands in Dayton were great. Devil to Pay sounded great, even as a three-piece. Neon Warship is a powerhouse and Close the Hatch was heavy and deft. I really couldn’t ask for a better way to start off the tour.

At the end of the night we were offered a place to crash by one of the guys in Close the Hatch. We stayed in a recording studio around the corner from the venue. We slept amongst drums and guitars and for some reason there were also many bikes all over the place. I slept on a couch in the control room of the studio and the other guys were scattered around different corners of the recording space. I put my little fan up on a practice amp and passed the hell out. It was surprisingly comfortable. Anytime I am blessed with a couch to sleep on, I consider myself lucky. Many people think that tour is replete with hotels and luxury. I am here to tell you that this is NOT the case. I have laid my head in some of the foulest locales out of sheer necessity. It’s a small price to pay for the ability to do what you love on your own terms.

We woke up around nine the next morning and set off for Chicago. The drive to Chicago featured an unusual event for us. We actually listened to music during the trip. Normally we do not listen to music in the van because we all have such varied tastes, we can never agree on anything to listen to. For some that have joined us on the road, this silence has been jarring. For us it seems to work, though. Today we listened to Bob Seger followed by Clutch. I think tomorrow we are likely to return to silence, however. In addition on the drive we ate snacks… or as we call it, “doing crunches.”

Chicago has always been one of our favorite cities to play. We have met a boatload of great people that are either from there or who currently reside there. We had quite a few people in attendance this evening from other bands we know and even some people from home (Columbus) that happened to be visiting. That sort of dynamic always makes the shows very fun.

This show featured Marmora, a young band with some very talented dudes. We met them a couple of years ago and it’s always enjoyable to see how they become seasoned professionals – a little more each time. Tonight Rob from Devil to Pay was back with the guys and DTP sounded phenomenal. Steve Janiak is a great singer and the house sound guy had him dialed in.

We played third and our set felt ok. Personally, I messed up some of the lyrics to “Wade Garrett.” It’s just been so long since I have had that song committed to memory. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to knock the dust off of these older tunes. Other than that we played pretty well to my way of thinking. After us a last-minute addition to the show, All Hail The Yeti from Los Angeles, played. They were a little out of line stylistically for the rest of the bill, but they were good at what they do. They had some animal skulls on stage with them. That was pretty odd. Outside of Norwegian black metal, you don’t really see that too much.

The Cobra Lounge, the venue for the Chicago show, has an apartment upstairs for performers to sleep in, as well as a locked parking area for our van – “Van Halen.” This is really a welcome situation. It’s a little worse for the wear for the sheer number of acts that roll through each month, but when all is said and done, a free place to stay is a free place to stay.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for the first couple of days of tour. Stay tuned…

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Limited Edition Lo-Pan Sasquanaut Vinyl Now Available; Tour Starts this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week, Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan kick off a round of tour dates with Devil to Pay that will begin roughly a month and a half of gigs. Before they even get to that, however, the foursome are marking the first time that 2009′s Sasquanaut – a classic of modern heavy rock if e’er there was one — is released on vinyl.

Previously issued through Small Stone in remixed/remastered fashion in 2011 on CD, Sasquanaut makes its debut on LP today, July 2, in a variety of colors and in a limited edition first 100 copies that come with a signed poster and much more.

Here’s the latest on all of the above:

LIMITED EDITION 180gr VINYL – Deluxe Version – First 100 Only!

Small Stone Records is proud to announce the release of Lo-Pan’s highly acclaimed album “Sasquanaut” for the first time on limited edition 180g vinyl. Remastered for vinyl release, this limited edition LP will be available for pre-order July 2, 2013. The release will be available in five distinct color variations (silver, solid light green, translucent red, translucent green, and classic black). Additionally, each copy of the LP release will come with a download card, redeemable for a digital copy of the album.

Get it while you can. Sasquanaut finally on vinyl. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Help us out. Tell anyone you think might be interested. We are trying to sell 100 of these today!

180 gram vinyl, deluxe jacket and poly-lined sleeves. Limited to 100 Black, 100 Trans Red, 100 Light Green, 100 Silver, 100 Trans Green.

This package includes:
– you choice of color variation
– 12” x 18.7” full color poster signed by the band
– limited edition patch
– lo-pan sticker

Vinyl track listing:

Side Alpha:
Dragline
Savage Henry
Kurtz
Callahan

Side Beta:
Kramer
Vega
Wade Garrett

Catch Lo-Pan live at the following upcoming tour stops:
Jul 4, 2013 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s w/ Devil To Pay, Neon Warship
Jul 5, 2013 Chicago, IL Cobra Lounge w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 6, 2013. Madison, WI Mr. Roberts w/ Devil To Pay, The Garza
Jul 7, 2013 Indianapolis, IN Indy’s Jukebox w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 11, 2013 Detroit, MI PJ’s Lager House w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 12, 2013 Cleveland, OH The Temple w/ Devil To Pay, Venomin James
Jul 13, 2013. Columbus, OH Kobo w/ Devil To Pay, Barely Eagle, the Girls!
Jul 18, 2013 Pittsburgh, PA Howler’s w/ Borracho, Sistered, Supervoid
Jul 19, 2013 Washington DC Rock N Roll Hotel w/ Borracho, Kingsnake, King Giant
Jul 20, 2013 Stroudsburgh, PA The Sherman Theater w/ Borracho, Kingsnake
Jul 21, 2013 York, PA The Depot w/ Borracho
Jul 24, 2013 Worcester, MA Ralph’s Rock Diner w/ Gozu, Birch Hill Dam
Jul 25, 2013 Manchester, NH The Shaskeen Pub w/Gozu, Birch Hill Dam
Jul 26, 2013 Boston, MA O’Brien’s w/Gozu, Black Thai
Jul 27, 2013 Brooklyn, NY The Acheron *The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 w/Gozu, Supermachine, Black Black Black, Borracho, Wizard Eye, Lord Fowl, Geezer, Wasted Theory
Aug 01 2013 Chicago, IL Ultra Lounge w/Weedeater
Aug 03 2013 Nashville, TN Exit/In w/Weedeater
Aug 04 2013 Johnson City, TN Hideaway w/Weedeater
Aug 06 2013 Asheville, NC Broadways w/Weedeater
Aug 07 2013 Charlotte, NC Chop Shop w/Weedeater
Aug 08 2013 Richmond, VA Strange Matter w/Weedeater
Aug 09 2013 Raleigh, NC The Maywood w/Weedeater
Aug 10 2013 Wilmington, NC Soapbox w/Weedeater
Aug 24 2013 Kent, OH The Outpost w/Rebreather, Mockingbird, The Unclean, The Ravenna Arsenal, Vulture, Deathcrawl, Fully Consumed, Venomin James, Super Predator, Showboy

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lo-Pan/130592378248

Lo-Pan, Sasquanaut 2.0 (2011/2013)

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Lo-Pan: Sasquanaut Vinyl Pre-Orders Coming; Tour Update

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

At this point, I don’t even know what I’d do if a week went by and I didn’t have some news to post about Ohio four-piece Lo-Pan, who just wrapped a tour alongside Torche and KENmode and will head out over the course of July and August with the likes of Borracho, Devil to Pay, Gozu and Weedeater. Their second album, 2009′s Sasquanaut, is about to receive the vinyl treatment for the first time, so along with that and an excuse to put all their upcoming gigs in one place at the same time — at least those that have been to this point announced — there was no way I could resist.

Plus, all the whatnot about pre-orders and that gives me an excuse to post the stream of the album, which is an automatic win:

Lo-Pan Sasquanaut Vinyl + Tour Info

Small Stone Records is proud to announce the release of Lo-Pan’s highly acclaimed album “Sasquanaut” for the first time on limited edition 180g vinyl. Remastered for vinyl release, this limited edition LP will be available for pre-order July 2, 2013. The release will be available in five distinct color variations (silver, solid light green, translucent red, translucent green, and classic black). Additionally, each copy of the LP release will come with a download card, redeemable for a digital copy of the album.

Priced at $30, the first 100 deluxe pre-order packages will receive:
– choice of color variation
– 12” x 18.7” full color poster signed by the band
– limited edition patch
– lo-pan sticker

The tracklist for the “Sasquanaut” LP is:

Side Alpha
Dragline
Savage Henry
Kurtz
Callahan

Side Beta
Kramer
Vega
Wade Garrett

Catch Lo-Pan live at the following upcoming tour stops:

Jul 4, 2013 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s w/ Devil To Pay, Neon Warship
Jul 5, 2013 Chicago, IL Cobra Lounge w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 6, 2013. Madison, WI Mr. Roberts w/ Devil To Pay, The Garza
Jul 7, 2013 Indianapolis, IN Indy’s Jukebox w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 11, 2013 Detroit, MI PJ’s Lager House w/ Devil To Pay
Jul 12, 2013 Cleveland, OH The Temple w/ Devil To Pay, Venomin James
Jul 13, 2013. Columbus, OH Kobo w/ Devil To Pay, Barely Eagle, the Girls!
Jul 18, 2013 Pittsburgh, PA Howler’s w/ Borracho, Sistered, Supervoid
Jul 19, 2013 Washington DC Rock N Roll Hotel w/ Borracho, Kingsnake, King Giant
Jul 20, 2013 Stroudsburgh, PA The Sherman Theater w/ Borracho, Kingsnake
Jul 21, 2013 York, PA The Depot w/ Borracho
Jul 24, 2013 Worcester, MA Ralph’s Rock Diner w/ Gozu, Birch Hill Dam
Jul 25, 2013 Manchester, NH The Shaskeen Pub w/Gozu, Birch Hill Dam
Jul 26, 2013 Boston, MA O’Brien’s w/Gozu, Black Thai
Jul 27, 2013 Brooklyn, NY The Acheron *The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 w/Gozu, Supermachine, Black Black Black, Borracho, Wizard Eye, Lord Fowl, Geezer, Wasted Theory
Aug 01 2013 Chicago, IL Ultra Lounge w/Weedeater
Aug 03 2013 Nashville, TN Exit/In w/Weedeater
Aug 04 2013 Johnson City, TN Hideaway w/Weedeater
Aug 06 2013 Asheville, NC Broadways w/Weedeater
Aug 07 2013 Charlotte, NC Chop Shop w/Weedeater
Aug 08 2013 Richmond, VA Strange Matter w/Weedeater
Aug 09 2013 Raleigh, NC The Maywood w/Weedeater
Aug 10 2013 Wilmington, NC Soapbox w/Weedeater
Aug 24 2013 Kent, OH The Outpost w/Rebreather, Mockingbird, The Unclean, The Ravenna Arsenal, Vulture, Deathcrawl, Fully Consumed, Venomin James, Super Predator, Showboy

Lo-Pan, Sasquanaut 2.0 (2011)

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