Solace Complete Recording; Confirm Tracklisting for New Album The Brink (Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits)

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

This is the second post I’ve made where it says Solace have finished recording their new album. Here’s the first. Sue me. Last time around, it was basic tracks that were done. This time, all the overdubs, vocals, solos, etc. are finished and the record, which might be called The Brink, or might be called The Brink (Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits), or might be called Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits, is ready to move onto the mixing stage. They’re slated to go back into the studio in March — if I’m in NJ when they go, I hope to be there for at least part of it — and work on that, but if you think that after nine years since they dropped the most excellent 2010’s offering, A.D. (review here), I’m going to be making any guesses as to how or when or what their new record is going to sound or look like when it’s done, you’re missing out on one of the great joys of Solace, which is their unpredictable, whirlwind nature.

This is also the second post where I’m including a tracklisting put up by the band for the album. This one has 11 songs where the last one had 10, and the difference is in a track called “Shallows Fade.” Could be nothing more than an interlude recorded when the overdubs were being done, or it could be an entirely new song they decided they couldn’t leave out. Again, you never really know, and that’s why it works.

Solace play New England Stoner & Doom Fest II in Connecticut this May. Here’s their update from the social medias:

solace

It’s official: 11 new tunes are finished. Just some minor tweaking and mixing and the new Solace album “The Brink” (Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits) will be on its way to the masses!

It’s the last time we will be recording at this place. As of March first Trax East is officially sold and new owners are coming in and taking over. Been recording here since around 1991. It’s an end of an era…. gotta figure out how and where we will finish this new SOLACE record now….

1- Breaker Of The Way
2- Desert Coffin
3- Dead Sailors Dream
4- Waste People
5- The Light Is A Lie
6- Crushing Black
7- Bird Of Ill Omen (Remix)
8- Shallows Fade
9- The Brink
10- Until The Last Dog Is Hung
11- Dead Sailors Reprise

Hang in there and stay tuned!

https://www.facebook.com/SolaceBand/

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Friday Full-Length: Monster Magnet, Superjudge

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Monster Magnet, Superjudge (1993)

Lest we forget that as the West Coast was laying the groundwork for what would become the signature desert style over the next several years, back east, Monster Magnet were kissing the mouth of the scorpion with some of the finest drug rock ever created. Superjudge, released 25 years ago in 1993, was the New Jersey-based band’s second full-length, arriving behind Spine of God (discussed here; reissue review here), which saw its US release the previous year. That album is a classic and I’m not about to take anything away from it, or the Tab…25 EP (reissue review here; discussed here) that came out after, but Superjudge was a moment of several milestones and pivotal moves for the group, who by then were already working distinctly under the direction of frontman and principle songwriter Dave Wyndorf.

First, it was their debut outing for A&M Records, a major label. Their earliest non-demo releases came out through Glitterhouse in Europe and Caroline in the US, but signing to a major would not only bring them to a wider sphere of listeners, but turned attention to a heavy underground boom taking shape in Central Jersey at the time. Second, it was the band’s first album with Ed Mundell on lead guitar, which was a position he would hold until 2010. Mundell took the spot previously held by John McBain (also brilliant), and his arrival would help solidify Monster Magnet‘s burgeoning approach to songcraft and his playing became an essential facet in not only the absolutely molten feel of Superjudge tracks like “Dinosaur Vacume,” “Twin Earth,” “Superjudge” and the effects-soaked Hawkwind cover “Brainstorm,” but in the developing persona of the band on subsequent offerings Dopes to Infinity (discussed here) in 1995, Powertrip in 1998, God Says No in 2001, 2004’s Monolithic Baby!, 2007’s 4-Way Diablo and 2010’s Mastermind (review here). During this era, his presence in the group would be second only to that of Wyndorf in terms of defining who Monster Magnet were and what they were about.

In 1993, they were about freaking the fuck out. They broke out some sitar on closer “Black Balloon,” and backed by the rhythm section of bassist Joe Calandra and drummer Jon Kleiman, captured fuzzy forward drive on “Twin Earth” with a swing that even a quarter-century after the fact bleeds its swagger from the speakers. The power of Superjudge isn’t just in its atmosphere — though there’s plenty of that in the layers of effects and kitchen-sink instrumentation used — it’s in the band. With Spine of God, the record’s brilliant. Utterly brilliant. For the title-track alone, it should be taught in middle schools across the planet as to how you rock and roll in order to expand minds. What Superjudge did was to take that studio vibe and show how it could be sustainable, monster magnet superjudgeshow how it could be done on stage, and begin to solidify it as a developing creative process. As much of a haze seemed to surround the title-track, or the watery acoustics in “Cage Around the Sun,” which followed, with its percussion, Eastern inflection and sitar drone, there was a straightforward, structured undercurrent to the material. That was true on some of Spine of God as well, but Superjudge moved the balance ever so slightly. In its aforementioned cover of Hawkwind and take on Howlin’ Wolf-via-Cactus in “Evil,” it drew a line directly to ’70s vibes in a way that was an aberration for the era, and even in the subsequent blowout “Stadium” or the ultra-hairy “Face Down,” it demonstrated the songwriting modus that would become Monster Magnet‘s own all the more over time.

But Superjudge is more than a bridge from Spine of God to Dopes to Infinity, and its 11 tracks hold up brilliantly to the passage of time. The backbeat of “Brainstorm.” The swirl and cosmic declarations of “Elephant Bell.” The raw tonality of “Twin Earth.” Superjudge continues to read like a blueprint for how to do heavy psychedelia and make it rock. Like if The MC5 and The Stooges decided they wanted to go Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Maybe the cover art tells the whole story. If you look at the background, it’s trippy and colorful and the logo and title are all “I’m gonna eat a mountain of pills,” but then you look at that picture of the band’s kinda-mascot, the Bullgod. He’s pissed. There’s an aggression there. It’s mean. Superjudge has that intense side to it. It’s not always what’s up front, because the record is still dynamic and it goes any number of places in its songs, but that clenched-teeth, ring-through-the-septum immediacy can’t be faked. It’s either in there or not, and one of the most powerful aspects of Superjudge is that at any given moment, it might absolutely explode in your face. I don’t care how laid back “Cyclops Revolution” sounds at the outset, it still caps with the line, “I’ve got mine, fuck you.”

That component in Monster Magnet would help them for years be wrongly classified as so many were as a metal band. True enough they were heavy — still are — but metal? Come on. Even Mastermind, which was about as big-of-tone as they’ve been interested in getting to-date, wasn’t really metal. On Superjudge, they’re a psychedelic heavy rock band. They’d move on from the lysergic elements over the course of Powertrip and God Says No, but in the change from Mastermind to 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), they brought back some of those weirdo impulses, and pushed them further in the screw-around-with-past-work of 2014 and 2015’s Milking the Stars (review here) and Cobras and Fire (review here) — redux versions of Last Patrol and Mastermind, respectively, that only emphasized Monster Magnet‘s ability and willingness to do whatever the hell they wanted at any given time. See also 2018’s Mindfucker (review here), which, in case you missed it, was called Mindfucker. Take that.

Aside from their hailing from my beloved Garden State and being the stewards of the Mid-Atlantic heavy underground in a way that New York — nifty though it is — was always too punk rock to be, Monster Magnet went a long way toward defining themselves on Superjudge, and it remains an album that shows just how on their own plane they were at the time. Fortunately, that is something that has continued to be the case throughout their career.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Okay. We’re there. Next week my top 30 of the year goes up. Blamo. This weekend on Gimme Radio, ‘The Obelisk Show’ also has a kind-of-sort-of-some-of-the-best-of-2018 thing going. Really, that’s what it’s called. Monster Magnet are on it. You should listen. Sunday, 7PM Eastern. On the internet.

Also next week, a review of the Mansion album, which rules. I guess that’s the short version. Stay tuned for the long one. Also Deep Space Destructors, a couple snazzy video premieres, a bunch of news I need to catch up on, and all that good stuff.

Thanks for reading that 100-album Quarterly Review if you did. My desktop still has a bunch of records on it, but it was good to get through that stuff. Some of it had been waiting a while. I hope you found something you dug. I did.

I’d love to stick around and bum everyone out by bitching about whatever, but the truth is I’ve got a fucking ton of writing to do — a lineup announcement for Freak Valley that will have already been posted by the time this is and liner notes for the Elder PostWax release — so you’ll pardon me if I check out and get to it. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please don’t forget the forum and radio stream and merch and year-end poll.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Monster Magnet Post “When the Hammer Comes Down Video; Announce 2019 European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

Since Sept. 28, NJ’s Monster Magnet have been out on a US tour supporting their latest album, Mindfucker (review here). You can’t accuse them of not getting out. While their last couple records have seen the long-running stalwarts of heavy psych and rock mostly focus on Europe, their current run started out in Toronto as they quickly made their way to the West Coast and throughout this month, they’ll continue to work back eastward, finishing in Boston on Oct. 28. To follow-up, they’ve got a second run of Europe announced for January, and I can’t help but think either another US tour or a trip to Australia or South America (paging Abraxas) could be in the works thereafter. That is, they don’t seem like they’re done.

Which, as a fan, is only all the better. Mindfucker is their last outing in their contract for Napalm Records. I won’t claim to know the future of the band, but either they’re doing it up for a blowout or they’re showing other labels they’re interested in putting in the work of promoting what they do. Could go either way, I guess, but what it rounds out to in any case is the same: Go see Monster Magnet. I’d love to get to one of these shows and I don’t know that I will, but wherever you are, if that’s where they are, then that’s where you should be. Simple math.

They’ve got a video up for “When the Hammer Comes Down” from the record that’s kind of a lyric video, kind of a regular video, and true enough to Monster Magnet in that it has little interest in being classified along the same lines as everyone else. You’ll find that at the bottom of this post. I don’t have any PR wire info for the newly-announced tour, but you’ll find the dates for that and the one they’re on now below. Here goes:

monster magnet euro tour 2019

Monster Magnet Tour Dates

Current US tour remaining dates:
10/10: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
10/12: San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
10/13: Sacramento, CA @ Aftershock Festival*
10/15: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
10/16: San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
10/17: Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
10/19: San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
10/20: Dallas, TX @ Canton Hall
10/21: Houston, TX @ White Oak (Upstairs)
10/23: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
10/24: Nashville, TN @ Basement East
10/26: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
10/27: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
10/28: Boston, MA @ The Sinclair

2019 European tour:
12.01.2019 NOR, Trondheim Byscenen
13.01.2019 NOR, Oslo Parkteatret
14.01.2019 DEN, Aarhus VoxHall
16.01.2019 GER, Hamburg Grosse Freiheit 36
17.01.2019 GER, Berlin Huxleys Neue Welt
18.01.2019 GER, Osnabrück Rosenhof
19.01.2019 SUI, Zürich Dynamo
21.01.2019 GER, Krefeld FuFa
22.01.2019 GER, Leipzig Conne Island
23.01.2019 GER, Hannover Capitol
24.01.2019 LUX, Esch-sur-Alzette Kulturfabrik
26.01.2019 BEL, Kortrijk Concertzaal de Kreun
27.01.2019 BEL, Hasselt Muziekodroom
28.01.2019 BEL, Sint-Niklaas Concertzaal de Casino
29.01.2019 GBR, London Electric Brixton
31.01.2019 GER, Karlsruhe Substage
01.02.2019 NED, Eindhoven Effenaar
02.02.2019 FRA, Magny Le Hongre File7
03.02.2019 GER, Frankfurt Batschkapp
05.02.2019 AUT, Dornbirn Conrad Sohm
06.02.2019 HUN, Budapest Durer Kert
07.02.2019 CRO, Zagreb Culture Factory

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “When it all Comes Down” lyric video

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Friday Full-Length: The Atomic Bitchwax, The Atomic Bitchwax

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The Atomic Bitchwax, The Atomic Bitchwax (1999)

I think it’s high time the ’90s era of heavy rock — the original run of stoner rock, that is — started to get tagged with the term classic. It’s been 20 years or more for most of it, after all. Think of bands like Monster Magnet, Kyuss, Acid King, Fu Manchu, Nebula, and so on, and to that list I would most definitely add New Jersey trio The Atomic Bitchwax. The band formed in 1993 but it would be six years before their self-titled debut came out on Tee Pee/MIA Records. It was kind of a side-project at first. Bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik was at the time a member of Godspeed, who were signed to Atlantic during the same era that saw Core and a few others picked up in the wake of Monster Magnet‘s burgeoning wider success, and they made a run touring with Black Sabbath and appearing on the first Nativity in Black tribute to Sabbath with Bruce Dickinson sitting in on vocals. When Godspeed split, it was basically into The Atomic Bitchwax and Solace. Kosnik, guitarist Ed Mundell, also then of Monster Magnet, and drummer Keith Ackerman, who also played in and would later rejoin Solace for a stretch, set to work on their first record, and they came out with a scorcher.

The Atomic Bitchwax‘s The Atomic Bitchwax runs a deceptive 11 songs and 53 minutes. It’s deceptive because they trade back and forth between instrumentals like the opening “Stork Theme” — which also seems to nod at Sabbath with a beginning noise that reminds of “After Forever” — and “Crazed Fandango” and “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Hang Me in My Home,” “The Last of the V8 Interceptors” and 10-minute closer “The Formula” and hook-laden tracks like “Birth to the Earth,” “Hey Alright,” “Hope You Die,” “Gettin’ Old” and “Shit Kicker,” as well as their cover of Core‘s “Kiss the Sun,” which would be a staple in live sets for years to come. The two modes of working are interspersed throughout the tracklisting — they might most come together on the bluesier, throttled-back “Gettin’ Old” — and that helps the trio of Kosnik, Mundell and Ackerman keep the listener off-balance as they build a working momentum from front to back across the release. That, coupled with what has become a signature style of winding riffs, a decent amount of speed in their tempos, a couple samples at the start of “Last of the V8 Interceptors” and “Shit Kicker,” and the extra percussion in “Crazed Fandango” earlier, all give the record a sense of variety that, especially on first listen, can be hard to keep up with. The Atomic Bitchwax has for the most part been a band that dares its audience to hold their pace. On the self-titled, that true in terms of style as well as tempo.

Stoner band being stoner in the era of stoner? Yeah, maybe. But to my ears what makes The Atomic Bitchwax a classic album is the fact that the band are so tight and so loose at the same time. the atomic bitchwaxThat The Atomic Bitchwax could conjure the sharp, head-spinning turns of “Stork Theme” and still be fuzzed-out and have an overarching groove in the process. Or that they could be so locked in on “Hope You Die” with Kosnik‘s bass comes forward in the hook and still toss out the lyric “Total. Freedom.,” and have it sound utterly natural. It’s not effortless, but it’s not intended to be. They remain the kind of band who should have someone walking through the crowd collecting tips while they play — “Hey folks, these guys are working hard up there” — but for the frenetic changes in “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Hang Me in My Home” and the MC5-worthy gallop of “Shit Kicker,” nothing The Atomic Bitchwax do on their first full-length takes precedent over the song itself. Even the instrumentals each have a personality of their own. Hell, “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Hang Me in My Home” is the centerpiece. Those tracks are crucial the mission of the record overall, right down to the touch of psychedelia worked into the midsection of “The Formula” at the end of the album. They not only highlight the prowess of the band technically, but complement the songwriting of “Birth to the Earth” and “Hey Alright,” etc., making the band a richer listening experience the whole way through, giving flashes of punk immediacy here and there, but ultimately ending up with an unquestionable place in heavy rock and roll.

That a record could be so laid back as it punches you in the face. That’s The Atomic Bitchwax. Still, almost 20 years later.

And quite a 20 years it’s (nearly) been. The KosnikMundellAckerman lineup would follow the self-titled with II the next year, also on Tee Pee, and then have the Spit Blood EP on MeteorCity in 2002 before dissolving. Kosnik and Ackerman pressed forward by recruiting Core guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan for the 2005 album, 3 (discussed here), and thereby embarking on a new era of the band. The Jack Endino-produced EP Boxriff followed — proud to say I did the liner notes for it — coupled with a live set recorded in Seattle, and after losing Ackerman on drums, Kosnik and Ryan welcomed Bob Pantella, also of Monster Magnet, on drums for 2008’s TAB4 (aka T4B), issued first by MeteorCity and then by Tee Pee, which The Atomic Bitchwax rejoined and on whose roster they remain. 2011 brought the all-instrumental, single-song LP, The Local Fuzz (review here), and with that out of their system and a resurgence as a touring act, 2015’s Gravitron (review here) and 2017’s Force Field (review here) marked not only a period of productivity, but a maturity of approach that somewhat ironically dipped back to the modus of their earliest work but made it tighter and even sharper in the delivery.

Speaking of irony, for a band that was so long considered a side-project because of Mundell‘s involvement in both groups — he of course relocated to the West Coast earlier this decade and embarked on The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic — the last several years have found Kosnik playing bass in Monster Magnet in the rhythm section with Pantella. I don’t think anyone’s calling them a side-project at this point though. Classic, maybe. I certainly think so.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

We put the Little Dog Dio down on Monday. The pain from her bone cancer was becoming less and less manageable by the hour. We ended up giving her a percocet Monday morning and she ate nine string cheeses and some chicken after that and she got up to greet The Patient Mrs. when she and the baby got back from running an errand, but she was still clearly in agony, despite also being stoned out of her gourd.

I miss her. So much. I keep looking for her. Thinking about her in her places. The spots that were hers in the house. I’ve been telling Dio stories all week on Facebook. I have so many but I’ll probably do one more tomorrow and leave it there. It’s been hard.

We had a vet come and do it at the house. They do that now, apparently. I’ve had dogs my whole life and been a participant in two euthanasias prior to this one. Dio was different. Special. She woofed at the door when the vet came. She was healthy but for the cancer eating away at her. I figure we got robbed of at least two good years with her. I’d happily shave that time off my own lifespan if I could make a trade to get her back.

I brought her bed from the upstairs bedroom down to the kitchen and laid a sheet on it for her to be on while the vet administered the drugs. High dose of opiates, something else to knock her out, then the pink shit. Always the pink shit. The Patient Mrs. and I sat with her and cried — I’d spent the last four hours just petting her and telling her I loved her — and we were with her through the end. The vet was about to deliver the pink shit and I asked her to let me do it. She did. I did it. Me.

But you want to know the truth? The confession? I wouldn’t have done it on my own. The Patient Mrs. and I had talked it out and we both knew it was time, but even an hour before the vet came I was saying maybe we should call it off. And if she’d said okay, I would have. I wouldn’t have gone through with it. I’d have been selfish and kept my poor sweet Dio in pain just to have a couple more days with her. A little more time. I’m a terrible person.

I cried and cried and cried. When it was finally done, I wrapped her in the sheet and carried her out to the vet’s van, where a bag was waiting. She’ll be cremated and we’ll get her ashes back in the mail next week. I want to be buried with them when I go.

The rest of the last five days has been a blur of grief and baby feedings. I said goodnight to her pillow before I went to bed last night.

I have notes ready for next week front to back but I’m going to keep it to myself. It’s a cool week, busy, but I just don’t have it in me to run through it. Also, by way of a heads up, the next Quarterly Review begins Oct. 8. Nobody cares. I know.

If you get the chance though, I have a show debuting on www.gimmeradio.com this Sunday at 5PM Eastern. Prime time! It’s called “The Obelisk Show” and I host it and talk awkwardly about records and this and that. The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan both make a cameo. It turned out to be a lot of fun to put together and I promise it’s not sad. It’s free to sign up and there’s no subscription or anything, so if you get to check it out, I’d appreciate it. Here’s a poster they made.

jj gimme radio

That says it all, I guess. I’m just happy they spelled my name right. We’ll see if they let me do a second episode.

While you wait with bated breath for that to start, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Hold your loved ones close, have fun, and please don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

 

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Monster Magnet Getting Ready to Mindfuck North America

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

I really want to see Monster Magnet on this tour. Not just out of appreciation for their latest album, the gleefully-titled Mindfucker (review here) or of what they’ve done before, but because I think this tour — this one, with the dates below — is a special moment for the band. Yeah, it kind of looks like a standard major market North American run. Couple dates in Canada, shows spread across both US coasts, a stop at Aftershock Festival in Sacramento. Fair enough. But Monster Magnet‘s last US run was cut short when the band’s frontman, Dave Wyndorf, caught the flu, and though they’ve been to Europe a bunch of times, including just last month to make headlining stops at the Desertfests, a full American stint is rarer.

And with the lineup around Wyndorf of guitarists Garrett Sweeny and Phil Caivano, bassist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella (the latter two both also of The Atomic Bitchwax), it just seems all the more like now’s the time to show up. So I’m going to do my best to absolutely do that.

Oh, and if you need another argument in favor, Electric Citizen are supporting. So right on.

Info from the PR wire:

monster magnet tour poster

MONSTER MAGNET Announces North American Tour

March of 2018 saw the release of the latest MONSTER MAGNET masterpiece “Mindfucker” (Order and Stream The Album) on Napalm Records. Following three exclusive Northeastern US shows, the band headed across the pond for a European headline tour. Now they are ready to return to North America for a full headline tour this Fall.

The band will hit the road in North America on September 28th in Toronto, ON. The tour will run through October 28th in Boston, MA. Support on the tour will come from Electric Citizen and Dark Sky Choir. A complete list of dates can be found below.

A message from MM frontman Dave Wyndorf:

“Can’t wait to hit North America with the MINDFUCKER tour! Warning: This is REAL ROCK music, made loud to be played loud! A Monster Magnet show is a face melting celebration of electric madness made all the better and fueled to peak intensity by the attendance of excitable human beings. Hope you’re part of that equation! See you soon!

Monster Magnet:
9/28: Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
9/29: Pontiac, MI @ The Emerald Theatre
9/30: Louisville, KY @ Louder Than Life Festival*
10/2: Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
10/3: Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze
10/5: Denver, CO @ The Bluebird Theater
10/6: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
10/8: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
10/9: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
10/10: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
10/12: San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
10/13: Sacramento, CA @ Aftershock Festival*
10/15: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
10/16: San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
10/17: Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
10/19: San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
10/20: Dallas, TX @ Canton Hall
10/21: Houston, TX @ White Oak (Upstairs)
10/23: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
10/24: Nashville, TN @ Basement East
10/26: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
10/27: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
10/28: Boston, MA @ The Sinclair

*Festival Appearance

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” official video

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Solace Finish Recording New Album Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

solace

Someone needs to sign Solace immediately. I’ll brook no delay in hearing their new album, tentatively titled Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits. Eight years is long enough. The long-running New Jersey outfit teased the possibility of a new record in 2017 with the cassingle Bird of Ill-Omen (review here), which marked the studio debut of the new lineup of the band with drummer Tim Schoenleber and vocalist Justin Goins alongside guitarist Justin Daniels and founders Tommy Southard (guitar) and Rob Hultz (bass), and aside from proving that the band still existed, that tape kicked total ass, so yeah, get that album out as soon as humanly possible. Right from the master to the press to my greedy hands, please.

Solace have been playing shows and mostly making appearances at various fests in the Northeast region since returning to the stage in 2015, but whatever it winds up being called ultimately, their fourth long-player will be the first since 2010’s brilliant A.D. (review here), which came out via Small Stone some seven years after its predecessor, 2003’s 13 (discussed here), which itself was preceded by their 2000 debut, Further. I don’t know how much they’ll play out in support of this upcoming collection, but Solace remain badass on a level few could hope to attain let alone hold onto for any amount of time. Whatever happens in terms of live performances, the point is new Solace. New fucking Solace. Shit, I don’t even care if it’s mixed. Just plug it into my ears as loudly as possible.

Tracklisting and whatnot follow. The album was recorded at Trax East in South River, NJ:

solace studio setup

Intense couple of days tracking the new SOLACE record.

Tentative title “Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits”

10 songs tracked.

1-Breaker of the way.
2-Crushing black.
3-Waste people.
4-The light is a lie.
5-The Dead sailors dream.
6-Husk of darkness.
7-Desert Coffin.
8-Bird of ill omen.
9-Until the last Dog is hung.
10-Dead sailors Reprise.

Can’t wait to finish. More dates to follow! We will keep you posted!

Expect some healthy doses of Heavy 70’s Riff Rock, NWOBHM Riffing, Drunken Sea Shanties, Weighty DOOM, and a smidge of 90’s Noise. You’ve been warned…..

https://www.facebook.com/SolaceBand/

Solace, “The Crushing Black” snippet

Solace, A.D. (2010)

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Friday Full-Length: Solarized, Neanderthal Speedway

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Solarized, Neanderthal Speedway (1999)

Primo fuzz the way they used to make it. New Jersey heavy rock, like my beloved Garden State itself, will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’ll confess I never got to see Solarized live. That hasn’t stopped me from over the years periodically taking Neanderthal Speedway or its 2001 follow-up, Driven off the shelf and giving them a spin. And why would it? The albums, the first of which came out on Man’s Ruin Records on April 9, 1999, have a fuzz and personality of their own, but listening back to the 12 tracks of Neanderthal Speedway now, my head is flooded with associations, from the riff of “Solar Fang” being directly tied to Monster Magnet‘s “Zodiac” to the low end work that Lou Gorra was simultaneously bringing to his own band, Halfway to Gone, while doubling alongside Solarized‘s core founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Jim Hogan and drummer Reg Santana, to the smell of sweaty summer nights at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch and the ride back north on the Parkway. Rounded out by guitarist Pete Hauschild on the debut, Solarized were never the highest-profile of the New Jersey heavy underground set, which at the time was being widely picked up by labels big and small in the wake of Monster Magnet‘s commercial success, whether it was Core on Atlantic, Solace on MeteorCity, Halfway to Gone on Small Stone, or The Atomic Bitchwax on Tee Pee.

There was certainly plenty enough rock to go around, and one can hear the punker roots that a lot of the above bands share/shared in Solarized‘s “Psyclone Tread,” but like so many others of their ilk, slowing down (some) and fuzzing out suited Solarized impeccably. They started Neanderthal Speedway at a good clip with “Nebula Mask,” seeming to answer Californian desert rock directly with a decidedly Eastern Seaboard crunch to their guitar tones. Hogan‘s vocals were clean but not overly melodic — another punk trait — and the drive of the tracks on the whole was more geared toward rawness than patience, even when it came around to cuts like “Shifter” on which Ed Mundell and Tim Cronin — both of Monster Magnet at one point, now of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and The Ribeye Bros., respectively — turned in guest appearances on guitar and percussion. Solarized seemed far more comfortable in the middle ground of songs like “Fire Breather,” “Gravity Well” and “Black Light Swill,” digging into hooks and hard-hitting, mid-paced riff-led fare, given to an overarching nod, but not necessarily slow in itself. Even a song like “February Sixth (Anti-Life Equation),” which boasted such rhythmic swing, kept to a solid tempo. Hey, if you’ve got a thing, and it works, go for it.

The four-piece’s original bio for Neanderthal Speedway, which was posted here seven years ago, noted Hogan‘s and Santana‘s connections to Daisycutter, in which Cronin and Mundell also played, as well as The Atomic Bitchwax‘s Chris Kosnik later on, and called Solarized “atomic boogie rock.” Fair enough. To hear “Aftermath,” it’s a decent description, and though Solarized saved the most of their lysergy for when Mundell showed up as on “Cloud King” or the excuse-me-I-believe-you-have-it-backwards instrumental closer “Monolith,” and it worked for them when they broke it out, but their sound was by no means a constant one way or they other. That worked for them too. Here’s the full bio in case you don’t feel like clicking the link:

solarized neanderthal speedway bio

As you can see, it was a pretty easy sell. Fuzz-drenched heavy rock and roll from what was at the time one of the country’s most fertile underground scenes. After Man’s Ruin went under, Solarized hooked up with MeteorCity for Driven — the label had also put out the Jersey Devils split with Solace (discussed here) in ’99 — and then seemed to sort of dissolve by the mid-aughts. Jim and Reg, who share the last name Hogan these days, play together in the punk band Defiance Engine, and Reg has another new outfit called 19DRT who’ll play their first show on April 20 at the Mill Hill Basement in Trenton. Ah, memories of that place.

I guess I’ve got New Jersey on the brain because, you know, I wish I lived there, but whatever the case, as always I hope you enjoy.

If how long it’s taken me to put together this post and how much of the last hour I’ve spent asleep with my head down on the kitchen table is anything to go by, I probably should’ve gone back to bed at some point after the alarm went off at 4:30AM. Perhaps the hint I should’ve taken was when I looked at my phone and it was 4:45 and I’d missed the first two rounds of the alarm. It was not my most fluid of mornings.

But that only feels fair enough since this was the LONGEST FUCKING WEEK EVER. Oh my god damn was this week long. Yesterday, I was sitting in The Patient Mrs.’ car waiting to pick her up from work and I fell asleep with my head on the steering wheel as I tried to calm The Pecan in the back seat, who was screaming like a madman — because he hates when the car sits still, likes it when the car moves. He finally quieted down and we both fell asleep at about the same time with the car idling outside the library on her campus. Some time later there’s a knock on the driver’s side window and I’m shocked awake. I jumped and rolled down the window and told the cop, “You scared the shit out of me,” which is apparently something you can say when you’re 36 years old, so white you’re practically transparent, and driving a Volvo with a baby and a dog in back. I told him I was waiting for my wife and my explanation for why I was unconscious was as simple as pointing to the back seat and saying, “five month old.” He said, “It gets better,” and went on his way.

But still, longest week ever. I can’t believe it’s not next Wednesday yet. Between the Quarterly Review, getting the last bits of the Roadburn ‘zine in place — still working on that — and other writing projects, my big luxury yesterday was stopping to go the bathroom and take a shower. I didn’t have time to do either, really. What a wreck. The Quarterly Review wraps on Monday, which will be a relief, and then it’s back toward some semblance of normality.

Subject to change as always, here are the notes for the week:

Mon.: QR6, Brond track premiere.
Tue.: Rancho Bizzarro EP stream, Green Desert Water video premiere.
Wed.: Shrine of the Serpent track premiere.
Thu.: Hound the Wolves Six Dumb Questions; Greenbeard video premiere.
Fri.: Mirror Queen video premiere.

So yeah, that plus catching up on all the news that slipped through the cracks this week should be a nice break. That’s why I get paid the big bucks. Ha.

On that happy note, I wish you a great and safe weekend. If you need me, I’ll still be here, trying to catch up. Maybe I’ll even answer some email and Facebook messages for the first time in like a week.

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Review & Track Premiere: Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet mindfucker

[Click play above to stream the premiere of the Hawkwind cover ‘Ejection’ from Monster Magnet’s new LP, Mindfucker, out March 28 on Napalm Records.]

For about the first seven seconds of its opening track, Monster Magnet‘s Mindfucker is indistinguishable from a Ramones record. Over a howl of feedback, the drums count-in quickly and with the ringing-out of a first power chord and a “let’s go!” from founding frontman Dave Wyndorf, the 3:30 “Rocket Freak” is underway, almost immediately giving the forward position to the album’s stated mission of proto-punk simplicity meeting heavy rock drive. Wyndorf can’t resist an excursion or two into space — nor should he, frankly — as the ranging seven-minute “Drowning” shows, or the mid-paced warnings in closer “When the Hammer Comes Down,” but with a crux in impactful, forward-thrusting cuts like “Soul,” “Mindfucker,” the take on Hawkwind‘s “Ejection,” “Want Some” and “Brainwashed,” even the penultimate “All Day Midnight” balances its melancholia with stage-ready energy in its delivery, and even in comparison to the long-running New Jersey troupe’s recent output, 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), the two let’s-weird-’em-up redux specials — 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), which took on Last Patrol, and 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here), which did likewise for 2010’s Mastermind (review here) — Mindfucker sounds invigorated, genuinely rooted in the place where punk and heavy rock meet, and is of course rife with the lyrical nuance of Wyndorf‘s written and spoken voice as a keystone presence.

Yes, Monster Magnet sound like Monster Magnet. To expect otherwise 30-some years after the band began to take shape seems, frankly, like a ridiculous notion. But as ever, they’re also working to twist that meaning and expand their overarching context, so that even as they sound like themselves, with some drum contributions from producer Joe BarresiWyndorf and guitarist Phil Caivano worked largely alone in the studio — the live band is rounded out by guitarist Garrett Sweeny, drummer Bob Pantella and bassist Chris Kosnik (the latter two also of The Atomic Bitchwax) — to reshape, and for lack of a better phrase, fuck with that definition, expanding it in new and interesting dimensions.

Two items to note in the interest of full disclosure here. First, I’m a Monster Magnet fan. I grew up in New Jersey, and I’d admired the band’s work throughout the various stages of their career. Their albums aren’t always perfect, and there have been times when it’s seemed like they’ve put out records almost to antagonize the expectations of their fanbase — oh, you wanted Superjudge? well here’s 4-Way Diablo — but even that speaks to a creative will I find admirable. Second, I was hired by Napalm Records to help write the bio for Mindfucker, which I hope to post here sooner or later, and compensated for that effort. I don’t believe that affects my impartiality about Mindfucker‘s 10-track/49-minute run, because I don’t think I had any to start with, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. There. Now it’s out of the way.

Chiefly, what Mindfucker does is work toward a long-stated goal on the part of Wyndorf to tap into the raw ’70s power of bands like MC5 and The Stooges, the early punk of the aforementioned Ramones and others of a more garage-ly ilk. Its production remains modern — Milking the Stars and Cobras and Fire experimented with some true retro stylization, and it worked, but Mindfucker‘s are too high-energy to give up their aural clarity in such a way — but it’s interesting to note that Monster Magnet and long-running Danish garage acolytes Baby Woodrose have perhaps never sounded so similar from this end as they do on “Ejection,” “Brainwashed” or even the more melancholy “All Day Midnight,” which retain a character of performance less outwardly speeding-at-night-punked than “Rocket Freak” or the subsequent “Soul” at the outset, but prove no less memorable in their hooks, while songs like “I’m God” and “Mindfucker” itself continue the social commentary of Last Patrol, with Wyndorf positioning himself as the “living among the clouds” observer of the downward spiral that modernity seems perpetually to be riding.

“I’m God,” lyrically, imagines a new flood of sorts, while “Mindfucker” couches the totality of the daily news cycle in the standout hook of its chorus: “You’re a mindfucker baby, look what you done to my head/You’re a mindfucker baby, settin’ fire to my bed/Soul crushin’ love child, deep inside of my brain/You’re a mindfucker baby, beautiful and insane,” putting the world in which we live in the position of the proverbial crazy significant other. And fairly enough so.

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

“Mindfucker” itself is maddeningly, almost unfortunately, catchy. This is an aspect it shares with “I’m God,” “Want Some” and “Ejection,” the latter of which is perhaps unsurprisingly about as pure a classic rocker as the band offers throughout. As the side B leadoff, it mirrors somewhat the push of “Rocket Freak” at the start of side A, but with even more choice lead guitar work, flourish of tripped-out effects and lyrics that, instead of celebrating the “Rocket Freak” — “She’s my rocket freak and it’s the end of the world” — see space as an inevitable place of escape from the woes of the day. I don’t want to paint Mindfucker as being overly political, since it’s not like Wyndorf is calling for legislation banning assault weapons or writing anti-Republican protest songs, but there’s an underlying awareness of the absurdity in which America, and indeed the world, exist on a day-to-day basis that seems to be the undercurrent lyrical theme tying the record together in the places where it does.

That comes through certainly in “Brainwashed,” which leads the way into the closing duo of “All Day Midnight” and “When the Hammer Comes Down,” which seem to break away a bit from some of the moves the rest of Mindfucker is making. Less so “All Day Midnight” the elevator of which gets off right at the 13th floor and knows exactly where it wants to head, but much as “Drowning” — the longest cut on the album at 7:21 — offered a melancholy and contemplative finish to side A, “When the Hammer Comes Down” at the very least makes no attempt to hide the dire nature of its point of view, which can be summarized in the final lines, “You tapped a supernova when you left the truth to drown/The universe will do you right, when the hammer comes down,” which, in the context of the earlier, “Karma’s a bitch, people/I hope you bought a nice bed,” would seem to leave little to question as to what Wyndorf sees as the direction in which humanity is headed.

However, much as the album isn’t overly political in an obvious way — you can put it on, rock out, and not think once about rising ocean levels, mass shootings, #metoo moments or the social media misadventures of a commander in chief culled from reality television — neither is it a downer. Quite the opposite. Though its lyrical skepticism is pervasive, and its very title — which I admit elicited a “really dude?” from me at first as well, as would seem to have been at least part of Wyndorf‘s intention toward his audience — is somewhat abrasive, Mindfucker‘s multifaceted tracks build significant momentum between them and the long-player as whole pushes forward with only a bare minimum of letup to allow for dynamics to play out.

It is continually satisfying to be unable to predict where Monster Magnet and Wyndorf as the auteur thereof will head on a given release — one still hopes for more go-back-and-screw-with-it revisionist works eventually for records like 2001’s Monolithic Baby! and the aforementioned 4-Way Diablo, let alone the potential to play up the bizarro aspects of these cuts — and Mindfucker indeed presents a sonic turn even from Last Patrol as it veers away from the psychedelic aspects on display there and toward more bare-bones structures and direct, stage-ready presentation. What’s unflinching, however, and wherever the band goes at any given point, is genuine lyrical genius, and a conceptual foundation that challenges its audience to actively engage with it even as the songs themselves are classic-pop catchy and unabashed in being centered around memorable hooks.

Any Monster Magnet release is going to provoke strong opinions on multiple sides of their now-multigenerational fanbase, and with a certain amount of confrontationalism even on the most superficial of levels, Mindfucker will be no different in that regard. But what remains true is that even as they approach the 30-year mark since their founding in 1989, they continue to be moved by an unrelenting creative spirit, and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon, regardless of the direction any individual release might take. As vast an influence as they’ve had, Monster Magnet are still one of a kind, and as Wyndorf asks the question in the title-track here, “Why you gotta fuck with my head?,” yeah, he’s summarizing the social strata in which we currently exist, but also he surely does so knowing that in the balance of the band’s years and decades, he’s given as good as he’s got in terms of mindfuckery.

Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” official video

Monster Magnet website

Monster Magnet on Thee Facebooks

Monster Magnet on Twitter

Monster Magnet on Instagram

Monster Magnet at Napalm Records

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