Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Anytime you’re ready to get weird, Jason Simon is already there. To the best of my knowledge, Familiar Haunts is the Dead Meadow frontman’s first solo album since his 2010 eponymous debut came out on Tee Pee, and even as he jumps styles from psych-outlaw to fuzzy drift, it might be even harder to keep up with all the labels involved putting the new one out. I count four between Tekeli-Li, Cardinal Fuzz, Burger Records and Blind Blind Tiger, but there might be one or two more in there — I wouldn’t make a promise either way. Understandable to get a bunch of support behind it, both because of Simon‘s pedigree and the swagger of the 11-minute “Wheels Will Spin,” which seems to sum up the mindset of the whole release while also spacing out in a satisfyingly meandering jam.
Admittedly, I’m a little behind on the release, so you can stream the album in full on the player below and hear “Wheels Will Spin” and the rest of it for yourself before you dive into picking a label and/or format for your purchase. Info from the PR wire:
Familiar Haunts by Jason Simon
Jason Simon, best known for his work as the guitarist and singer for the seminal heavy psych band Dead Meadow, releases his new solo record Familiar Haunts on Cardinal Fuzz / Tekeli-Li Records. Cassettes available from Blind Blind Tiger and Burger records. For Familiar Haunts Jason takes his love of the haunting Appalachian banjo playing of Dock Boggs and old time Americano Folk music to create a heady mix where wheezing organs come up against Maestro like drum machines and delivers on the weirdness inherent in old folk/country and blues tunes.
All the various strains of Cosmic Psychedelia that run through the grooves here you can find as you dip into the opening cut “The People Dance, The People Sing” as a twanging droning raga like guitar eventually slides into wild tangles of heavy swirling clouds of psych bliss. Tracks drift from the heady to the etheral to churning and heavy deserty dirges as Jason Simon emerges from the eerie haze.
Tracklisting: 1. The People Dance, The People Sing 04:28 2. Without Reason or Right 03:54 video 3. Now I’m Telling You 03:44 4. Pretty Polly 03:24 5. Seven Sisters of Sleep 04:11 6. Hills of Mexico 06:05 7. Wheels Will Spin 10:59 8. I Found the Thread 03:36
Jason Simon : guitar and vox Scott Seltzer : Bass Jon Randono : organ, synth, electric balama James Acton : percussion
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Haven’t heard this one yet, but I’m looking forward to it. The Freeks‘ last outing, 2013’s Full On (review here), was a barnburner of heavy rock righteousness and I’d expect no less from the Los Angeles five-piece’s Heavy Psych Sounds debut (third album overall), Shattered. No tracklisting or audio yet, but the cover art for the CD/LP has been unveiled, a Nov. 11 release has been announced, and preorders have been made available for those who like to take care of these things early.
If that’s you, you’ll find the link below, as graciously sent along the PR wire:
California’s blazing hot punk’n’rollers THE FREEKS to release third album on Heavy Psych Sounds this fall!
Prepare for an unprecedented earthquake, world! Los Angeles explosive rock’n’rollers THE FREEKS have announced the release of their new album “Shattered” this November 11th on Heavy Psych Sounds.
With an inextinguishable fire, Californian five-piece THE FREEKS brilliantly fuses high-octane rock’n’roll, the raw energy of punk rock and hints of psychedelic bizarrerie. Just as if The Stooges had met Hawkwind. With former members of Fu Manchu or Nebula in its ranks, the band is anything but a newbie in the US rock scene. After two albums (“The Freeks” in 2008 and the widely acclaimed “Full On” in 2013), THE FREEKS are back with a blazing new effort to be released on Heavy Psych Sounds this November.
THE FREEKS – New album “Shattered” Out November 11th on Heavy Psych Sounds //Pre-order
Everything has a beginning, whether it is by accident or design. A journey consists of trials and errors until finally reaching a full circle… ever evolving, revolving over and over again. Set in constant motion, the gathering of speed reaching ultimate vibrations until it’s all “Shattered” This can also be said in regards to Los Angeles, CA based quintet THE FREEKS, as they return from yet another complete orbit with their third full-length “Shattered”. What started as an accident brought on a thought, which then began a project that grew into a solidified unit of sonic purification! Led by Ruben Romano, the band has consistently moved upward since their formation in 2007 and have gracefully matured since their first self-titled LP released in 2008 on Cargo Records Germany. While the initial project collaborated with players from around the world, in 2010 Romano gathered together a more local unit of musicians, all baked under the L.A. heat, to achieve a consistent flow of creation. This was followed by their critically acclaimed sophomore LP “Full On” (2013) released on the band’s own label Freek Flag Records.
Now in 2016, THE FREEKS prepare to sling shot and extend the trajectory of their already existing orbital path by joining forces with Heavy Psych Sounds to release this latest revolution, fully ready to shake it until it’s all shattered!
THE FREEKS ARE Ruben Romano – Guitar & Lead Vocals Jonathan Hall – Guitar & Vocals Tom Davies – Bass & Vocals Esteban Chavez – Synths, organs, electric pianos Bob Lee – Drums
Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is always a kind of nervewracking moment, sitting here in my chair as I do every couple months and introducing the next Quarterly Review. Between now and Friday, somehow, some way, I’ll post 50 reviews in batches of 10 per day. It will cover more ground than, frankly, I yet know, and by the time it’s done it’s going to feel (at least to me) like way more than a week has passed, but hell, at this point I’ve done this enough times to be reasonably confident I can get through it without suffering a major collapse either of heart or brain. I’ve taken steps beforehand to make it easier on myself and listened to a lot, a lot, a lot of music in preparation, so there’s nothing left to do but dive in and actually kick this this thing off. So let’s do that.
Quarterly Review #1-10:
Sumac, What One Becomes
With their second album, What One Becomes (on Thrill Jockey), post-metal trio Sumac move forward from what their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), established as their crushing and atmospheric modus. Starting with a wash of blown-out noise in “Image of Control,” the collective of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (ex-Isis), bassist Brian Cook (Russian Circles) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) eventually settle into a barrage of chug and inhuman lumber over the course of the five-track/58-minute progression, testing tolerance on the 17-minute march “Blackout” and tapping into a satisfying moment of melody in centerpiece “Clutch of Oblivion” that, by the time it arrives, feels a bit like a life raft. There are stretches that come across as part collections, but the whole seems to be geared toward overwhelming, consuming and devastating, and ultimately What One Becomes accomplishes all of those things and more besides, finishing closer “Will to Reach” with the sense they could easily keep going. I believe it.
Prior to making their full-length debut, Dunsmuir issued a series of 7” singles, so if you picked up any of that, the straightforward pulse running through the 10-track self-titled will probably be familiar. Likewise if you’d previously caught wind of The Company Band, the supergroup in which vocalist Neil Fallon (also Clutch), guitarist Dave Bone and bassist Brad Davis (also Fu Manchu) previously joined forces. Here they’re joined by drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, etc.), and the material is suitably metallic in its aftertaste, but while Fallon’s presence is irrepressible and it’s the songwriting itself that shines through in cuts like “Our Only Master” and “…And Madness,” both barnburner riffs in classic metal fashion, where the later “Church of the Tooth” draws back the pace to add sway leading into the mid-paced closing duo “The Gate” and “Crawling Chaos.” Not many surprises, but with the ingredients given, knowing what you’re getting isn’t anything to complain about.
Across a span of 12 tracks and 72 minutes, Swiss heavy progressives Monkey3 unfurl the massive scope of Astra Symmetry, their fifth album and the follow-up to 2013’s The 5th Sun. It is an immediately immersive listening experience and does not become any less so as it plays out, the generally-instrumental four-piece frontloading early songs like “Abyss,” “Moon” and the nodding, synthed-out “The Water Bearer” with vocals and backing that with “Dead Planet’s Eyes” on the second LP for good measure. Delving into Eastern-style melodicism gives Astra Symmetry a contemplative air, but Monkey3’s heavy psychedelia has always provided a free-flowing vibe, and as “Astrea,” “Arch,” “The Guardian” and “Realms of Lights” roll through ambient drones toward the album’s smoothly delivered apex, that remains very much the case. Taken as a whole, Astra Symmetry is a significant journey, but satisfying in that traveling atmosphere and in the hypnosis it elicits along the way.
Big progressive step from London four-piece Oak on their second self-released EP, Oak II. They follow last year’s self-titled (review here) with four more tracks that build on the burl established last time out but immediately show more stylistic command, vocalist Andy “Valiant” Wisbey emerging as a significant frontman presence and the band behind him – guitarist/engineer Kevin Germain, bassist Scott Masson and drummer Clinton Ritchie – finding more breadth, be it in a nod to djent riffing in “Mirage” or more melodic post-Steak desert rock in “Against the Rain.” In addition, “A Bridge too Far” showcases a patience of approach that the first EP simply didn’t have, and that makes its build even more satisfying as it hits its peak and goes quiet into the stonerly swing of “Smoke,” which ends Oak II with due fuzz and some social commentary to go with. Sounds like more than a year’s growth at work, but I’ll take it.
One word for Swedish one-man outfit Lightsabres? How about “underrated?” Since the 2013 Demons EP (review here), it has been nearly impossible to keep a handle on where John Strömshed (also Tunga Moln) might go on any given song, and his latest offering, the full-length Hibernation (on HeviSike with a tape out on Medusa Crush) works much the same, rolling out a melodic mellowness on the opening title-track before topping off-time chug with garage vocals on the subsequent “Endless Summer.” Elsewhere, “Throw it all Away” marries swallow-you-in-tone riffing with a surprisingly emotionally resonant lead, and “Blood on the Snow” offers a downtrodden vision of grunge-blues like what might’ve happened if Danzig had never gone commercial. It’s all over the place, as was 2014’s Spitting Blood (review here) and 2015’s Beheaded, but tied together through a wintry theme, and anyway, variety is the norm for Lightsabres, whose reach seems only to grow broader with each passing year.
Knowing the context of Helen Money’s Become Zero having been written by cellist Alison Chesley following losing both her parents, and knowing that songs like the 10-minute “Radiate” and the effects-less “Blood and Bone” (which features pianist Rachel Grimes) deal directly with that loss, only makes it more powerful, but even without that information, the sense of melancholy and loneliness is right there to be heard. Chesley, who released the last Helen Money album, Arriving Angels (review here), in 2013, once again brings in drummer Jason Roeder (Sleep, Neurosis) to contribute, and his work on the title-track and the later churn of “Leviathan” make both standouts, but whether it’s the empty spaces of “Vanished Star” or the ambient wash of “Radiate” – I don’t even know how a cello makes that sound – the emotional force driving the music is ultimately what ties it together as a single work of poignant, deeply resonant beauty.
It has been nearly three years since desert-dwelling rockers Dali’s Llama celebrated their two-decade run with the Twenty Years Underground vinyl (review here) and almost four since their last proper full-length, Autumn Woods (review here), was issued. For them, that’s an exceedingly long time. One can’t help but wonder if the band – now a five-piece, led as ever by guitarist/vocalist Zach Huskey and recorded as ever by Scott Reeder – went through a period of introspection in that span. After some stylistic experimentation with darker and more doomed influences, the seven tracks of Dying in the Sun would seem to reaffirm who Dali’s Llama are as they approach the quarter-century mark, bringing some of the gloom of Autumn Woods to extended centerpiece “Samurai Eyes” as easily as “Bruja-ha” seems to play off the goth-punk whimsy of 2010’s Howl do You Do? (review here). The fact is Dali’s Llama are all these things, not just one or the other, and so in bringing that together, Dying in the Sun is perhaps the truest to themselves they’ve yet been on record.
Making their debut on Napalm Records, Berlin five-piece Suns of Thyme exhibit immediate sonic adventurousness on their second album, Cascades, melding krautrock and heavy psych keys and effects with a distinctly human presence in the rhythm section, engaging in songcraft in the new wave-ish “Intuition Unbound” while topping shoegaze wash with organ on “Aphelion.” It’s a vast reach, and with 14 tracks and a 55-minute runtime, Suns of Thyme have plenty of chance to get where they’re going, but the dynamic between the psych-folk of “Val Verde” and the drift of closing duo “Kirwani” and “Kirwani II” and the push of the earlier “Deep Purple Rain” impresses both in theory and practice alike. The task ahead of them would seem to be to meld these influences together further as they move forward, but there’s something satisfying about having no idea what’s coming next after the proggy sway of “Schweben,” and that’s worth appreciating as it is.
Two huge, side-consuming slabs of primordial improvised heavy psychedelia making up a 45-minute LP with a pun title and enough wash throughout that I don’t even feel dirty looking at it? Yeah, there really isn’t a time when I don’t feel ready to sign on for weirdo exploratory stuff like that which Seattle’s Fungal Abyss elicit on Karma Suture. Available as a 12” on Adansonia Records, the album brings together “Perfumed Garden” (22:12) and “Virile Member” (23:22), both sprawling, massive jams that launch almost immediately and are gone for the duration. Way gone. I won’t discount the consumption that takes place on side A, but I think my absolute favorite part of Karma Suture might be the guitar lead on “Virile Member,” which about eight minutes in starts to lose its way and you can actually hear the band come around and pick it back up to an exciting swing. It’s moments like that one that make a group like Fungal Abyss exciting. Not only are they able to right their direction when they need to, but they’re brave enough to put the whole thing on record: as raw and genuine as it gets.
It’s an encouraging and unpretentious start that Malaysian four-piece Wicked Gypsy make on their self-titled, self-released three-song EP. In the 22-minute span of “Wicked Gypsy,” “Heavy Eyes” and “Gypsy Woman,” the band – vocalist/guitarist Mahmood Ahmad, bassist Mohd Azam, keyboardist Azyan Idayu and drummer Ahmad Afiq – bring together influences from modern doom and classic heavy rock, Idayu’s keys providing a distinct ‘70s flair to the opener while Azam’s wah bass and of course a liberal dose of rifffing from Ahmad lead a proto-metallic charge in “Heavy Eyes,” topped with gritty vocals reciting lyrics about smoking weed, black magic, the devil, etc. What one really hears in these tracks is Wicked Gypsy’s initial exploration of dark-themed doom rock, and while the going is rough in its sound, that adds to the appeal, and the drum solo/progressive flourish worked into “Gypsy Woman” speaks well of where they’re headed as they walk the Sabbathian path.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It looks like a total of 250 copies of Thief‘s debut album, Thieves Hymn in D Minor, have been printed. That doesn’t seem like very many at all, and even fewer when one considers the breakdown between red and black vinyl. Seems to me that if it’s the kind of thing one might be into, one might be inclined to get on it before the getting is no longer good. Available through Lay Bare Recordings — also responsible for recent outings by Yawning Man and the European distro for Seedy Jeezus & Isaiah Mitchell‘s collaboration — 100 copies will come with a special silkscreen art print as well, further sweetening the pot.
Lay Bare had this to say via the PR wire:
New Lay Bare Recordings release THIEF – THIEVES HYMN IN D MINOR
Laid Bare from the city of Angels, THIEF, an ambient electronic project from DYLAN NEAL (hammered dulcimerist from the experimental black metal band Botanist). Seven haunting hymns on two vinyl editions.
LBR015, Two vinyl editions 1. 100 copies on Oxblood Red vinyl 2. 150 copies on black vinyl 3. With both color variations a special silkscreen printed art by Comaworx (http://www.comaworx.com/ ) can be ordered as a special indulgence for this release, only 100 printed!!
THIEF is a dark electronic project based in Los Angeles. Mixing a delicate relationship between choral and electronica – the sacred and the future – and featuring two live members of the highly acclaimed experimental black metal band Botanist, THIEF creates a new haunting story in the search for spirits in the machines.
THIEF’s debut LP Thieves Hymn in D Minor throws away the use of synths and pads and is crafted almost entirely out of manipulated sacred orthodox music. Its seven electronic tombs beautifully unravel over distorted beats creating a lush, shimmering atmosphere. Mixing electronica, trip hop, and experimental sounds together, Thieves Hymn in D Minor will be available on vinyl through Lay Bare Recordings.
In the studio, it is a one-man project, but live it also features R. Chiang (the other live hammered dulcimerist in Botanist) on drums and Chris Hackman on bass.
THIEF is: Dylan Neal – All music, vocals, production Robert Chiang – Drums Chris Hackman – Bass, Vocals
Goatsnake remain the standard by which a rolling groove should be judged. Rare are the instances in the last 50 years in which something that might be deemed heavy has been less fuckwithable than it is on their first two albums, I (discussed here) and Flower of Disease. Arriving in successive years in 1999 and 2000, they were an enema of riffs for a rock and roll that had been directionless since grunge ended and a heavy metal that was in the process of losing its way into dudely posturing and splintering into the overthought subgenres that now comprise it. And here comes Goatsnake, driven by the massive rhythm section of bassist G. Stuart Dahlquist (ex-Burning Witch, now The Poisoned Glass) and Greg Rogers (The Obsessed), and they just blew it all away. They weren’t the only heavy rock band emerging at the time, of course — we’re already years past Sleep’s Holy Mountain at this point, Man’s Ruin Records (which released this and the first record) was going strong, and this was the same era in which Orange Goblin, Acid King, Dozer and Electric Wizard were hitting their stride sound-wise — but Goatsnake were a different beast from them as well. To wit, the drearier stoner doom of “The Dealer,” or the nod of the opening title-track. Led by the riffs of Greg Anderson (who’d go on to find a generation’s worth of critical acclaim in SunnO))) and as the head of Southern Lord Recordings) and with Pete Stahl‘s soulful and quirky vocals out front, Goatsnake were able to cast a personality that no one else before or since has been able to touch.
And even apart from its predecessor, Flower of Disease delivers on every level. The swinging hook of “A Truckload of Mamma’s Muffins,” the this-is-a-lifestyle sleaze of “Easy Greasy,” the dated-but-still-charming attitude in “Prayer for a Dying,” the blues harp in “El Coyote” that seems both completely out of place and completely perfect and the way that song launches its faster push, Stahl spitting out lyrics about the House of the Moon and who knows what other bluesy righteousness — all of this comes together with a glorious lack of pretense to make Flower of Disease even more special. Guest appearances from Petra Haden, Dave Catching, Chad Essig and Mathias Schneeberger add depth in violin, piano, the aforementioned blues harp, etc., but at the core remains the largesse of groove that closer “This River” summarizes so well after the quicker “Live to Die.” A nod that was more lucid than Acid King‘s but somehow no less potent, Goatsnake‘s style is one that on this record became entirely their own as much as it couldn’t be Sabbath‘s, which made it twice the bummer that Flower of Disease was their final album, or at least seemed to be for more than a decade.
Followed by the 2004 Trampled Under Hoof EP, which included Scott Reeder (ex-Kyuss, now Fireball Ministry) on bass, it would be 15 years before Goatsnake issued another full-length. Even by the standard of their reunion (discussed here with Anderson), which started in 2010, it was a considerable wait for last year’s Black Age Blues (review here), and though that album left its audience with a mixed impression — I think some were thrown off by the fact that maybe Goatsnake had grown in the decade and a half — what made them such a landmark act to start with remained wholly intact. I don’t know about you, but I was left hoping it wasn’t a one-off return, as I think heavy rock needs Goatsnake more than the band actually knows, and Flower of Disease is a clear demonstration of why.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Oh boy, this week. Frustrating. Multi-tiered frustration, capped off by absolutely losing my shit last night when the takeout spilled in my car. Slamming doors, yelling so hard my jaw hurt on the rest of the ride home, polluting my wife’s disposition as I all too often do with my negative bullshit. Frustrating. There’s a new Nick Cave record out today. I preordered it and it’s set to arrive this afternoon, but I’m honestly not sure I can handle it at this point. Need a major realignment of my perspective.
Which is basically the goal for this weekend. We’ll see how it goes. Given the neck-deep mindset in which I’ve spent the last weeks (months, two, three years?) wading, I have a hard time seeing the walls of the tunnel let alone any light ahead. Nonetheless, one moves forward because that’s the only direction one can move, if you want to think of it in board game terms.
It looks like this Oslo trip next week is(?) happening. I’m in NYC on Wednesday and Thursday for work either way, so the question is basically whether or not I go from there to Norway for Høstsabbat or I spend a couple days in NJ seeing family and then head back north with my need-a-good-rock-show tail between my legs. We’ll see how it shakes out.
Accordingly, the plans for Thursday and Friday are kind of up in the air, but lot of good stuff coming up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nonetheless. Monday, a stream from Burn Pilot with an album review, Tuesday same deal from Katla, and Wednesday, fingers crossed for a lyric video premiere and album review from a certain desert rock legend who has a new album release at the end of this month. Don’t even want to jinx it by saying his name, but I’m obviously hoping it comes together. A few cool videos and announcements to catch up on as well.
Also need to start putting together the next Quarterly Review, which is a continually humbling experience. Some “bigger” releases in there this time, stuff I just haven’t gotten to yet — Sumac, Blues Pills, etc. — that’s been sitting on my desktop. I might have to push it to the first week of October because my personal schedule the next couple weeks is so hectic, but the more of a jump I can get on it, the better. Need to log mail for the first time in a while.
So if you need me, tomorrow my plan is to sleep as late as circumstances allow, watch as much baseball as circumstances allow, listen to good music and clear my head to the best of my ability before the alarm goes off Sunday morning and it’s time to get ready for the week ahead. I hope you enjoy these waning days of summer, I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and I hope you’ll take the time to check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
You might recall Los Angeles heavy rockers Salem’s Bend hit the road on the West Coast earlier this year alongside Kind. That hardly felt like a coincidence at the time, so it makes sense that the trio would find themselves labelmates now to their once-tourmates on Ripple Music, which will issue Salem’s Bend‘s Salem’s Bend, on Oct. 7. The song “Balshazzar” is streaming to bolster the announcement of the release, and if you head over to the three-piece’s Bandcamp page linked below, you can hear the record, which was originally issued in late 2015, in its entirety.
From the PR wire:
Ripple Music to release debut album from LA-based trio SALEM’S BEND | Stream and share new song ‘Balshazzar’
Salem’s Bend is released worldwide on 7th October 2016 via Ripple Music
Ripple Music is thrilled to announce that this October will see the official release of the self-titled debut album from LA-based rock trio Salem’s Bend.
Cutting their teeth in various outfits around LA through the years, after idly deciding to crawl into a garage together one day, three unassuming dudes emerged into sunlight as a mighty hard rock triumvirate skilled in the execution of maximum Sabbath, Priest and Zeppelin worship… For on this day, Salem’s Bend was born.
Running an aural gamut of ’70s sounding classic rock alongside the influence of melodic heavy-hitters from the contemporary realms of desert, doom metal, psych and stoner rock, the band coalesced in the summer of 2014 with the intention of turning heavy riffs into the catchiest of tunes. With seven songs eventually making the cut on what would become their self-titled debut, the trio earnestly self-released the album via Bandcamp in December of last year and in doing so caught the ear of Ripple Music. Garnering some early praise one reviewer commented on just how well the band managed to, “forge their own searing, raucous guitars; intense, deep bass; and athletic, punctuated stickwork around some of the most intelligently interesting melodies to float through the stonersphere in quite some time.”
Thanks to the good folk and fellow Californians at Ripple, the album in question – Salem’s Bend by Salem’s Bend – will receive an official worldwide release on 7th October.
Track Listing: 1. Balshazzar 2. Queen Of The Desert 3. Silverstruck 4. Losing Sleep 5. Sun And Mist 6. Mammoth Caravan 7. A Tip Of Salem
Artist: Salem’s Bend Title: Salem’s Bend Release Date: 7th October 2016 Label: Ripple Music Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Posted in Reviews on August 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Desert rock has become many things over the last 25-30 years. It’s gone psych, or classic rock, or jammy, or commercial, and it’s spread to an international heavy underground that continues to flourish from roots in weighted groove and sandy vibes. Rarely has it gone punk as effectively as newcomer duo BigPig take it on their sort-of-self-titled, self-released debut full-length, Grande Puerco, and while intensity of youth is a definite factor in that — both members of the band are somewhere on either side of 20 — that drive is something that the style had at its very roots that has at least to some extent dissipated with age.
Perhaps it’s hard to separate BigPig from this larger context because guitarist/vocalist Dino von Lalli is the son of Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli and also plays in that band with his father — they have a new album, Idle Hands, out this fall on which Dino participates in the songwriting — but in BigPig, the edge von Lalli brings to that established group comes right to the fore as he and drummer/vocalist Benny Macias tear into a raw and vibrant 10 tracks/42 minutes, starting with the outright sleaze of “Flesh Drive” and dipping into the angst of “Designer Drugs,” “Aldini Lopez” and “Mr. Cool” before the engagingly weird “The Last Red Baron Pizza,” also the longest cut at 8:31, underscores the notion of Grande Puerco as the initial stages of an exploration of what it means to be a songwriter, what material can and should do and how as artists BigPig want to get where they’re going.
In terms of this record, they get there with some noteworthy help. Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Leeches of Lore, etc.) recorded and produced, and it’s a suitably beefy fuzz he harnesses from von Lalli‘s guitar and a likewise crisp and full drum sound from Macias‘ kit as heard in the rush of the later “Don’t Think,” bolstered by a mix from Mathias “Schneebie” Schneeberger (earthlings?, producer for Fatso Jetson, Masters of Reality, etc.), so there’s pedigree here as well as lineage.
Nonetheless, BigPig admirably work to establish an identity of their own in these songs, bringing in influences from the more progressive modern heavy on cuts like “Sunny Side Up” to lead into the post-Queens of the Stone Age guitar work of “C-.” As noted, the album starts with “Flesh Drive,” which can seem crass at points — the line, “You look better glazed” is a standout — but boasts an undeniable midpaced groove that’s deftly misleading in the expectations it sets for what follows.
Clearly BigPig have a sense of mischief underlying their intentions, and that serves them well as “Sunny Side Up,” “C-” and the frenetic gallop of “King Baby” pick up at a speedier clip, since essentially they’ve written their own set of rules and then immediately, gleefully broken them. The swaggering “Lorde of the Deep” pulls back on the throttle but feels all the more thickened in its chug, and the vocals play to that well, leaning into a potent nod before room-mic drums start “Designer Drugs,” more reminiscent of something Mondo Generator might come up with, though perhaps not as outwardly aggressive. Still, raw.
“Designer Drugs” hits into a slowdown about halfway through, conveying an addled sensibility and a burgeoning dynamic between Macias and von Lalli, but picks up somewhat in its last section, which leads into the particularly punkish “Don’t Think.” Like “C-,” there’s an undercurrent of Queens of the Stone Age‘s style of riffing, but BigPig are bringing more to it than most already, and in about two and a half minutes, they demonstrate how they take that influence and inject it into something of their own, sans frills, sans pretense, sans bullshit. Backwards, maybe sampled speech begins “Aldini Lopez,” manipulated into a swirl that builds to a head just as the angular central riff of the track kicks in.
If there’s anywhere on Grande Puerco that BigPig seem to draw a direct line to Fatso Jetson, it might be “Aldini Lopez,” which though the tones are dirtier could easily be said to be in conversation with that band’s 1995 debut, Stinky Little Gods, in its ability to find the swing in what in most hands would be a progression that didn’t groove at all. That’s not intended as speculation as to a direction BigPig will ultimately follow — though they could do far worse, obviously — but just to say that if they’re representing an actual next generation of desert rock, they’re doing so in a way mindful of the scene that was and still is.
The penultimate “Mr. Cool” has a particularly memorable hook and seems to find a comfortable pace while still leaving room to weird out in its bridge, and “The Last Red Baron Pizza” offers growling oddities and fuzzy insistence, pushing further into angularity, and even stepping out — boldly, in terms of the actual transition — into sparser atmospherics on guitar, which after a return to the push serving as the apex, which seems to straighten itself out as it hits near the seven-minute mark, is also how they end the album.
Difficult as it is to hear Grande Puerco without considering who made it — and that’s not at all to minimize the contributions of Macias here either on drums or vocally — it’s even more difficult to make one’s way through the album and not appreciate the potential BigPig show, playing to both a sense of tonal fullness and a barebones mindset that suits their two-piece construction. With these songs, they begin the work of hammering out a songwriting process, and one only gets the feeling that they’ll continue to grow more expansive as they move forward.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Preorders are available now for Fatso Jetson‘s upcoming full-length, Idle Hands. Heavy Psych Sounds, which will release the album on Oct. 7 and co-present the Italian leg of the band’s upcoming European tour, has also posted two new songs on their Bandcamp page that you can and (I probably don’t need to tell you) should stream below. As previously noted, this is Fatso Jetson‘s first new LP since 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here), and is well due for the fanfare it seems to be receiving. Not that I’ve heard it or anything, but it’s awesome and the collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli and his son, guitarist Dino von Lalli, is at the core of a righteous breadth of intensity and spaciousness.
It’s also been announced that Idle Hands producer Mathias Schneeberger will sit in on bass for Larry Lalli for the European tour in the rhythm section with drummer Tony Tornay. Not minor shoes to fill as regards groove, but if anyone’s up to the job, he’d seem to be the guy.
Copious info follows:
HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS is proud to offer you a new incredible title: ***FATSO JETSON-IDLE HANDS***
Cover Artwork by Kelly Keith Produced by Mathias Schneeberger and Mario Lalli Recorded at Rancho de la Luna June 2016 Mixed and Mastered by Mathias Schneeberger
Tracklist Vinyl: A 1 WIRE WHEELS AND ROBOTS A 2 PORTUGUESE DREAM A 3 ROYAL FAMILY A 4 THE VINCENT LETTER A 5 THEN AND NOW B 1 LAST OF THE GOOD TIMES B 2 NERVOUS EATER B 3 48 HOURS B 4 IDLE HANDS
Tracklist Cd: 1 WIRE WHEELS AND ROBOTS 2 PORTUGUESE DREAM 3 ROYAL FAMILY 4 NERVOUS EATER 5 SEROQUEL 6 IDLE HANDS 7 LAST OF THE GOOD TIMES 8 THEN AND NOW 9 THE VINCENT LETTER 10 48 HOURS 11 DREAM HOMES
RELEASE DATE OCTOBER 7th in SINGLE 12″ LTD CLEAR BLUE VINYL / SINGLE 12″ BLACK VINYL / CD / DIGITAL.
Mathias Schneeberger (Masters Of Reality, Gutter Twins, earthlings) will be the bass player on this tour.
Fatso Jetson Italian tour: 23.10. IT Pisa/Livorno – Stones from the Hill 24.10. IT Zerobranco – Altroquando 25.10. IT Torino – Blah Blah 26.10. IT Roma – Init 27.10. IT Cagliari – La Cueva Rock 28.10. IT Sassari – The Hor 29.10. IT Parma-Mu / HPS Fest 3 30.10. IT Erba – Centrale Rock 31.10. IT Savona – Raindogs