Sasquatch Recording New Album for 2020 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

This past weekend, mostly Los Angeles-based heavy rockers Sasquatch entered Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts, to begin recording the yet-untitled (so far as I know) follow-up to their 2017 LP, Maneuvers (review here). That album was issued, appropriately enough, by Mad Oak Records, as both the imprint and the studio are owned by drummer Craig Riggs, also vocalist for Roadsaw and Kind and drummer for White Dynomite — and obviously the not-L.A. contingent in the trio. Riggs, guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs and bassist Jason Casanova are working with producer Andrew Schneider, who mixed Maneuvers, on the recording, and they’ve finished basic tracks and are currently en route through guitar overdubs, vocals and additional keys courtesy of Dave Unger (also White Dynomite).

I was fortunate enough to see Sasquatch when they came through with Nebula in September (review here), and they were nothing less than on fire. Any rock and roll euphemism for holy-shit-that’s-awesome you want to apply, go ahead and apply it. The basic fact of the matter is they kicked ass. And having spent so much of this year on the road — not mention the time they were in Europe last year, touring the year before, and so on — their hitting the studio is nothing if not well-timed. I could go on and on about various aspects of how good this band are, but I’ll level with you: if you’re into rock and roll and you’re not looking forward to a new Sasquatch record, you’re fucking up. That’s all there is to it.

Their 2020 calendar already has a few confirmations. They’ll be back in Europe, for one thing, to play Sound of Liberation‘s 15th anniversary shows in Germany and Resurrection Fest in Spain, and one can only imagine a tour will be unveiled in the coming months. They’re also set for April 17 in Calgary at the Electric Highway Festival alongside Wo Fat and many others. Seems like it’ll probably be another busy year. All the better, then, they’ll be supporting a new album.

Here’s a pic of them with Schneider (L-R it’s RiggsGibbsSchneider and Casanova) enjoying some tasty-looking beverages to celebrate the completion of basic tracks — guitar, bass, drums — for the record:

sasquatch and andrew schneider

Basics are done! Time to celebrate with a round of Mai Tais! 10 songs. Moving on to guitar overdubs. Then vocals. And then Dave Unger comes in to add some keyboard flavor.

We are tracking right through this week. Hopefully done and ready to mix.

www.sasquatchrock.us
www.facebook.com/sasquatchrocks
http://store.sasquatchrock.us/
http://www.madoakrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MadOakRecords/
www.soundofliberation.com

Sasquatch, Live at Ace of Cups, Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 8, 2019

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Snail Recording Pink Floyd Cover “Fearless”; New LP in the Works

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

snail in studio

As 2019 starts to wind down, it’s time to start looking ahead at some of what next year will offer, and I can pretty much tell you right now that if a new Snail full-length actually materializes, there’s just about no damn way I’m not going to spend a lot of time telling you to listen to it. Now then, the three-piece based in Los Angeles and Seattle aren’t quite recording the LP yet — that starts next month. But they’re currently tracking a take on Pink Floyd‘s “Fearless” as well as a new song called “Nothing Left for You” that will feature alongside it on a precursor single. Digital release seems to be how it’s going to happen, given the timing, but of course they’re open to a 7″, because why wouldn’t they be, should someone be up for releasing. Can’t imagine there wouldn’t be a taker there.

So we’re not to titles or release dates for the album yet. Hold your horses and I’ll do the best to do the same, but realizing it will have been five years since 2015’s Feral (review here) was released by the time the new one arrives, well, I think you’re almost justified in letting the anticipation run wild. It’s officially “a while in the making” as far as I’m concerned.

Bassist/vocalist/recording engineer Matt Lynch — pictured above with drummer/vocalist Marty Dodson this past weekend, while vocalist/guitarist Mark Johnson will track his parts in the Pacific Northwest — was kind enough to give an update on the proceedings:

We are recording Pink Floyd’s Fearless and a song I wrote that has lyrics partially inspired by Fearless [“Nothing Left for You”]. We have been wanting to cover Fearless for over 20 years now and feel the time is finally right. This will be released as an advanced digital single for the coming LP. Unless of course someone wants to put it out on a 7”, which would rule.

Currently no working title for the LP. We want to release this advance single for the new year, so early January. We are recording the rest of the basic tracks for the LP the second week of January. The material’s direction is similar to Feral in that it is varied with a wide range of sound and influences. There is melodic psych and heavy doom. Straight up Camaro stoner rock to galloping metal.

These two [tracks] Mark will do his parts from home in Seattle. The rest of the LP we will all do together at [Mysterious Mammal Recording/All Welcome Records] as much as possible with continued overdubs for Mark’s parts at home as usual.

SNAIL IS
Mark Johnson – Guitars, lead vocals, keys
Matt Lynch – Bass, keys, vocals
Marty Dodson – Drums, percussion, vocals

www.snailhq.com
www.facebook.com/snailhq
https://www.instagram.com/snail_hq/
www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

Snail, “Nothing Left for You” drum recording

Snail, Feral (2015)

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest California Lineups Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

heavy psych sounds logo

With a poster that would seem to honor the Frank Kozik heavy rock works of yore — and by “yore,” I mean about 20-25 years ago — Heavy Psych Sounds Fest will return to California for the second time in 2020, bringing the mightiest Golden State trio Earthless as headliners for stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, while none other than desert ultra-pioneers Yawning Man will headline a second night in SF with a totally different lineup at a totally different venue. So it works out to be two nights in San Fran, one night in L.A., and the first San Fran show and the L.A. show are the same four bands — Earthless, DanavaHigh Reeper and Crypt Trip. Meanwhile, as that bill heads south along the coast to L.A., moving into SF is the five-pack of Yawning ManBrant Bjork — who’ll do a solo acoustic show! — Hot LunchTurn Me on Dead Man and recent Heavy Psych Sounds label signees Disastroid.

Not frickin’ shabby, as the kids might (not) say.

You had to know Heavy Psych Sounds Fest would be back in Cali in 2020 after the successful West Coast stint earlier this year, so now where know where and when and with whom it’s happening. Ticket presales are on as of today, so do it up.

Here’s the info:

heavy psych sounds fest california 2020 poster

Earthless, Brant Bjork, Yawning Man and More to Team Up for Heavy Psych Sounds U.S. Festival Dates

Influential Italian Rock ‘N’ Roll Record Label Continues to Expand Its Sphere into North America; Spring 2020 Showcases in Los Angeles and San Francisco Announced

Respected underground rock record label Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to announce details of its 2020 U.S. ‘Heavy Psych Sounds Fest’ live events. Set for March 27 in San Francisco and March 28 in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, the special shows will spotlight an exclusive selection of Heavy Psych Sounds’ blue-chip roster, including live sets from acts such as ex-Kyuss musician Brant Bjork, Yawning Man, High Reeper and Crypt Trip, as well as special guests Earthless, Danava and more.

Headquartered in Rome, Italy, Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in presenting the best artists in the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues and space rock realms, and the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest series is no exception, spotlighting the ever-growing label’s dedication to its craft. Earlier this year, the label launched the U.S. festival series with shows in Austin, Dallas, LA and San Francisco; the events met to shining acclaim.

“We are so delighted to announce the second edition of the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests set for this coming spring in California,” says Heavy Psych Sounds label owner Gabriele Fiore. “We are excited to get so many cool bands on board as these line-ups look incredibly rad. Heavy Psych Sounds Records is so proud to have a growing roster of both trendsetting and up-and-coming U.S. based bands and these special shows will prove exactly why.”

HPS FEST CALIFORNIA

Friday 27 March
San Francisco – Rickshaw Stop
EARTHLESS
DANAVA
HIGH REEPER
CRYPT TRIP

TICKETS PRESALE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/83735662621

Saturday 28 March
San Francisco – Bottom of the Hill
YAWNING MAN
BRANT BJORK solo acoustic show
HOT LUNCH
TURN ME ON DEAD MAN
DISASTROID

TICKETS PRESALE: http://www.bottomofthehill.com/stubmatic/event20200328.html

Saturday 28 March
Los Angeles – The House of Machines
EARTHLESS
DANANVA
HIGH REEPER
CRYPT TRIP
THE FREEKS

TICKETS PRESALE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavy-psych-sounds-fest-california-at-the-house-of-machines-tickets-84274821259

heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Yawning Man, Macedonian Lines (2019)

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Floral Fauna Set Dec. 9 Release for Debut Album Pink & Blue

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Call it a win for social media advertising, I guess, but I was dicking around Thee Facebooks earlier this week and saw King Volume Records‘ sponsored post for the debut album from Floral Fauna releasing on Dec. 9 and decided to check it out based on nothing more than the imprint putting it out and the awesome-looking cover. Still value in catching the eye. Anyhow, fortunately, my click-twice efforts were rewarded with two streaming tracks from the impending Pink and Blue, the title-cut and the snarky “When You Smile,” as both dig into classic ’60s garage rock vibes and meld these together with neo-psychedelic reach and production value. The mood is liquid, if liquid is a mood — it is — and the expanse of reverb is subtle but definitely there for something that still might be called “garage.” I don’t know how many cars it holds, but it definitely holds a mighty pedalboard.

The central figure here is Chris Allison, whom you might recognize from his other band, Lord Loud, who released their debut LP, Passé Paranoia (review here), on King Volume in 2017. He’s joined by a range of guests as fleshed out in the album details below.

Streaming tracks follow as well. Enjoy:

floral fauna pink and blue

Floral Fauna – Pink & Blue

Floral Fauna is a seed planted in fertile soil by Chris Allison. Following in the footsteps of psych contemporaries, Floral Fauna’s sound has retro sounding roots. But its vines are grasping out for new, sonic footing. Like leaves throughout the seasons, this debut album contains a plethora of colors and sounds.

It playfully skips around from lush organ/synth/string pads to crunchy and dead garage riffs. Guest musicians helped with the harvest; big names like Julian Porte (Levitation Room), Geoff Halliday (Hands), Julian Medina (Nadu), Emily Howard (Human Behavior) and even Michael Feld from his other heavy psych band Lord Loud. Floral Fauna couldn’t be more excited for this sunrise. It’s going to be a beautiful bloom!

Releases December 9, 2019.

Tracklisting:
1. Pink and Blue
2. Over and Over
3. Wah Hoo Hoo
4. Left Behind
5. Great White Silence
6. Pages of Time
7. When You Smile
8. Red Anxiety
9. Herds of Jellyfish
10. Awoke One Morning
11. Velvet and Jade

Floral Fauna is:
Geoff Halliday – drums (1-5, 7, 10)
Jim Wimberly – drums (9, 11)
Michael Feld – drums (6)
Julian Medina – drums (8)
Emily Howard – clarinet (9)
Noam Goldstein – flute (7)
Julian Moon – piano (6)
Chris Allison – other instrumentation, vocals

Mixed by Chris.
Mastered by Adam Boose at Cauliflower Audio.

https://www.facebook.com/floralfaunaband/
https://floralfauna.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/kingvolumerecords
http://www.kingvolumerecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.kingvolumerecords.limitedrun.com

Floral Fauna, Pink & Blue (2019)

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High Priestess: New Album Recording Underway for 2020 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Los Angeles atmospheric doom three-piece High Priestess toured Europe for most of May earlier this year supporting their 2018 self-titled debut (review here) on Ripple Music, making well-received stops at Desertfest London and elsewhere on the continent before seeming to have set about putting the finishing touches on material for their second long-player. That album is currently in progress according to a pair of thee social medias updates, one from the band and one from bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel. They entered the studio this past Tuesday and plugged away at getting the instrumental tracks done ahead of returning for vocals, with guitarist/vocalist/organist Katie Gilchrest helming the proceedings.

As the trio of Fiel, Gilchrest and drummer Megan Mullins had one of the best debuts of the year last year, it should go without saying the follow-up is right up there with the slew of anticipated outings for 2020. Ripple will once again stand behind the work, and while there’s no targeted release date set and obviously it all depends on when they get in to finish the rest of making it, plus mixing, plus mastering, a Spring release doesn’t seem entirely unlikely. That would put them back on track for another trip abroad as well, were they inclined to travel.

I also asked the band if they had anything they wanted to add about the record to what was posted and they gave an awesome update. Here’s what they had to say:

high priestess

High Priestess on new album recording:

We recorded the second album in our practice space where we did our first album. The room itself sounds great and there is something about playing in there closely together that conjures a special energy. Magic is created, from song creation to completion and we love setting mics up and capturing essentially a live performance. Katie owns Mythology Mastering, a music production company, and used her mobile recording setup to do the job.

Percussion, vocal, guitar and keyboard overdubs are following this week. We made sure to have a ritual beforehand with a High Priestess candle to set intentions for the recording and what follows. We channeled the balance of light and dark energies, creating heaviness while keeping it ethereal.

The album will begin with an eerie call of the elements in a ritualistic setting and from there, we slowly take you on a journey into the depths of an inferno with our most enchanting music yet. We can’t wait to unveil it to the universe!

– We started unloading around 11 AM, had mics set up around 1:45 PM, by 7:30 PM we opened up the bubbly to celebrate the recording of the instrumental parts of our new album, to be released in 2020 by Ripple Music.

– The only casualties today were while trying to tune back to E my tuning peg took a dump. Luckily there was an unused bass laying around *cough* thanks Josh *cough* to record the last song. Super stoked about today though, bass issues aside, it went seamlessly… the energy was perfect and I couldn’t be more grateful to have mega multitalented Katie not only laying down the heavy riffs and solos galore, but also setting and coordinating all the mics and making sure the sound was perfect and Megan laying down the thunder of doom on the drums.

High Priestess is:
Katie Gilchrest – guitars, vocals, organ
Mariana Fiel – bass, vocals
Megan Mullins – drums, percussion

https://www.facebook.com/highpriestessmusic/
https://www.instagram.com/highpriestessmusic/
https://highpriestessmusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

High Priestess, High Priestess (2018)

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Mondo Generator Premiere “When Death Comes”; As Good as it Gets (Fuck It) out Feb. 14

Posted in audiObelisk on October 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mondo generator

Nothing says ‘love’ like a little Mondo Generator on Valentine’s Day. The Nick Oliveri-fronted bringers of desert chaos — with Mike Amster (Nebula, Abrams) on drums and Mike Pygmie (You Know Who, John Garcia and the Band of Gold) on guitar — will release their new album, As Good as it Gets (Fuck It), through Heavy Psych Sounds on Feb. 14, just as they’re digging into the midst of a massive European tour. The announcement of the concurrent release date wasn’t unexpected, but is certainly welcome just the same, as is the opening of preorders which by astounding coincidence also starts today for the record. Sometimes these things just work out.

As one would dare to hope, OliveriPygmie and Amster conjure due madness with “When Death Comes,” the first audio to make its way to the public from As Good as it Gets (Fuck It), and in well under three minutes’ time, theymondo generator as good as it gets fuck it reconfirm the sense of punk rock danger that’s been at heart in Mondo Generator since their debut, Cocaine Rodeo, in 2000, and in Oliveri‘s work even before that in Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. As that first full-length turns 20, it’s only fair that Mondo Generator should remain so unpredictable, and while “When Death Comes” might find Oliveri tempering his trademark vicious scream to a degree, there’s simply no telling at this point what the rest of As Good as it Gets (Fuck It) might hold in nodule-inducing abrasion.

Or, you know, not. Again, you can never really be sure what’s coming.

Obviously I haven’t heard the entirety of As Good as it Gets (Fuck It) yet, or I suppose I would, but it’s early days yet with preorders just launched and the artwork newly posted and all that kind of stuff. Plenty of time for these things as we get closer to next Feb. 14, but of course if you’re the type who likes to get your roses in advance, this would be an entirely different kind of gift to consider.

Enjoy “When Death Comes” below:

When Death Comes is the first single taken from the brand new Mondo Generator album As Good As It Gets (Fuck It).

The band is coming back after 8 years with a new line up: Nick Oliveri (ex Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age), Mike Pygmie and Mike Amster. The album will see the light February 14th via Heavy Psych Sounds.

The pre-order for this album (as well as a “lost” record from 2010 as well as the new Nick Oliveri N.O Hits At All Vol. 666) start today:
www.heavypsychsounds.com

The band will be also touring Europe during February and March 2020, including HPS Fests in Paris, Antwerp, London and Deventer.

*** MONDO GENERATOR EUROPEAN TOUR 2020 ***
05.02.2020 IT Roma-Traffic
06.02.2020 IT Pescara-Scumm
07.02.2020 IT North East Tba
08.02.2020 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk
13.02.2020 IT Ravenna-Bronson
14.02.2020 IT Cagliari-La Cueva Rock
15.02.2020 IT Parma-Splinter
16.02.2020 IT Cecina-Spazio Live Ritmi
17.02.2020 IT Torino-Blah Blah
18.02.2020 IT Erba-Centrale Rock
19.02.2020 FR Chambery-Le Brin Du Zinc
20.02.2020 CH Olten-Coq D’Or
21.02.2020 DE Siegen-Vortex
22.02.2020 DE Oldenburg-MTS Record Shop
23.02.2020 DE Hamburg-tba
24.02.2020 DE Berlin-Zukunft**
25.02.2020 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik**
26.02.2020 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
27.02.2020 AT Innsbruck-PMK
28.02.2020 IT Bozen-Pippo Stage
29.02.2020 DE Wiesbaden-Kreativefabrik
01.03.2020 DE Karlsrhue-Jubez
02.03.2020 DE Augsburg
03.03.2020 LU Luxembourg-tba
04.03.2020 FR Nantes-Le Ferraieur
05.03.2020 FR Paris-Glazart “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
06.03.2020 BE Antwerp-Trix “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
07.03.2020 UK London-Underworld “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
08.03.2020 NL Deventer-Burgerweeshuis “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
09.03.2020 UK Nottingham-Albert’s*
10.03.2020 UK Bristol-Exchange *
11.03.2020 UK Manchester-Star&Garter*
12.03.2020 UK Glasgow-Nice n’ Sleazy*
13.03.2020 BE Diksmuide-Music Club 4AD
14.03.2020 NL Rotterdam-Baroeg
w/t ALUNAH*
w/t DUEL**

All tickets available soon via www.heavypsychsounds.com

MONDO GENERATOR ARE:
NICK OLIVERI – bass + vocals
MIKE PYGMIE – guitars
MICHAEL AMSTER – drums

Mondo Generator on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Total Fucking Destruction, Hippie Death Cult, The Cosmic Dead, Greenthumb, Elepharmers, Nothing is Real, Warish, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Those Furious Flames, Mantra Machine

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to find the jerk who decided that the week I fly to Norway was a good time for the Quarterly Review. That, obviously, was a tactical error on my part. Nonetheless, we press on with day four, which I post from Oslo on CET. Whatever time zone you may find yourself in this Thursday, I hope you have managed to find something so far in this onslaught of whatnot to sink your chompers into. That’s ultimately, why we’re here. Also because there are so many folders with albums in them on my desktop that I can’t stand it anymore. Happens about every three months.

But anyhoozle, we press on with Day Four of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, dutiful and diligent and a couple other words that start with ‘d.’ Mixed bag stylistically this time — trying to throw myself off a bit — so should be fun. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Total Fucking Destruction, #USA4TFD

Total Fucking Destruction USA4TFD

Who the hell am I to be writing about a band like Total Fucking Destruction? I don’t know. Who the hell am I to be writing about anything. Fuck you. As the Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth)-led Philly natives grind their way through 23 tracks in a 27-minute barrage of deceptively thoughtful sonic extremity, they efficiently chronicle the confusion, tumult and disaffection of our age both in their maddening energy and in the poetry — yeah, I said it — of their lyrics. To it, from “Is Your Love a Rainbow”: “Are you growing? Is everything okay? Are you growing in the garden of I don’t know?” Lines like this are hardly decipherable without a lyric sheet, of course, but still, they’re there for those ready to look beyond the surface assault of the material, though, frankly, that assault alone would be enough to carry the band — Hoak on drums/vocals, Dan O’Hare on guitar/vocals and Ryan Moll on bass/vocals — along their willfully destructive course. For their fourth LP in 20 years — most of that time given to splits and shorter releases, as one might expect — Total Fucking Destruction make their case for an end of the world that, frankly, can’t get here fast enough.

Total Fucking Destruction on Thee Facebooks

Give Praise Records website

 

Hippie Death Cult, 111

Hippie-Death-Cult-111

Issued first by the band digitally and on CD and then by Cursed Tongue Records on vinyl, 111 is the impressively toned debut full-length from Portland, Oregon’s Hippie Death Cult, who cull together heavy rock and post-grunge riffing with flourish of organ and a densely-weighted groove that serves as an overarching and uniting factor throughout. With the bluesy, classic feeling vocals of Ben Jackson cutting through the wall of fuzz from Eddie Brnabic‘s guitar and Laura Phillips‘ bass set to roll by Ryan Moore‘s drumming, there’s never any doubt as to where Hippie Death Cult are coming from throughout the seven-track/42-minute offering, but longer, side-ending pieces “Unborn” (8:24) and “Black Snake” (9:06) touch respectively on psychedelia and heavy blues in a way that emphasizes the subtle turns that have been happening all along, not just in shifts like the acoustic “Mrtyu,” but in the pastoral bridge and ensuing sweep of “Pigs” as well. “Sanctimonious” and “Breeder’s Curse” provide even ground at the outset, and from there, Hippie Death Cult only grow richer in sound along their way.

Hippie Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store

 

The Cosmic Dead, Scottish Space Race

The Cosmic Dead Scottish Space Race

Heavyweight Glaswegian space jammers The Cosmic Dead present four massive slabs of lysergic intensity with their eighth long-player, Scottish Space Race (on Riot Season Records), working quickly to pull the listener into their gravity well and holding them there for the 2LP’s 75-minute duration. As hypnotic as it is challenging, the initial churn that emerges in the aptly-named 20-minute opener “Portal” clenches the stomach brutally, and it’s not until after about 12 minutes that the band finally lets it loose. “Ursa Major,” somewhat thankfully, is more serene, but still carries a sense of movement and build in its second half, while the 12-minute title-track is noisier and has the surprising inclusion of vocals from the generally instrumental outfit. They cap with the 24-minute kosmiche throb of “The Grizzard,” and there are vocals there too, but they’re too obscured to be really discernible in any meaningful way, and of course the end of the record itself is a huge wash of fuckall noise. Eight records deep, The Cosmic Dead know what they’re doing in this regard, and they do it among the best of anyone out there.

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Greenthumb, There are More Things

greenthumb there are more things

With just three tracks across a 20-minute span, There are More Things (on Acid Cosmonaut) feels like not much more than a sampler of things to come from Italian post-sludgers Greenthumb, who take their name from a Bongzilla track they also covered on their 2018 debut EP, West. The three-songer feels like a decided step forward from that offering, and though they maintain their screamier side well enough, they might be on the verge of needing a new name, as the rawness conveyed by the current moniker hardly does justice to the echoing atmospherics the band in their current incarnation bring. Launching with the two seven-minute cuts “The Field” and “Ogigia’s Tree,” they unfurl a breadth of roll so as to ensnare the listener, and though “The Black Court” is shorter at 5:37 and a bit more straight-ahead in its structure, it still holds to the ambient sensibility of its surroundings well, the band obviously doing likewise in transposing a natural feel into their sound born of landscape real or imagined.

Greenthumb on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records on Bandcamp

 

Elepharmers, Lords of Galaxia

Elepharmers Lords Of Galaxia Artwork

Riffy Sardinians Elepharmers set themselves to roll with “Ancient Astronauts” and do not stop from there on Lords of Galaxia, their third LP and debut through Electric Valley Records. There are some details of arrangement between the guitars of El Chino (also bass, vocals and harmonica) and Andrea “Fox” Cadeddu and the drums of Maurizio Mura, but as Marduk heralds his age on second cut “Ziqqurat,” the central uniting factor is g-r-o-o-v-e, and Elepharmers have it down through “The Flood” and into side B’s classic stoner rocking “Foundation” and the driving “The Mule,” which shifts into laser-effects ahead of the fade that brings in closer “Stars Like Dust” for the last 10 minutes of the 47-minute offering. And yes, there’s some psychedelia there, but Elepharmers stay pretty clearheaded on the whole in such a way as to highlight the sci-fi theme that seems to draw the songs together as much as the riffage. More focus on narrative can only help bring that out more, but I’m not sure I’d want that at the expense of the basic songwriting, which isn’t at all broken and thus requires no fixing.

Elepharmers on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Nothing is Real, Only the Wicked are Pure

nothing is real only the wicked are pure

How do you recognize true misanthropy when you come across it? It doesn’t wear a special kind of facepaint, though it can. It doesn’t announce itself as such. It is a frame. Something genuinely antisocial and perhaps even hateful is a worldview. It’s not raise-a-claw-in-the-woods. It’s he-was-a-quiet-loner. And so, coming across the debut album from Los Angeles experimentalist doom outfit, one gets that lurking, creeping feeling of danger even though the music itself isn’t overly abrasive. But across the 2CD debut album, a sprawl of darkened, viciously un-produced fare that seems to be built around programmed drums at the behest of Craig Osbourne — who may or may not be the only person in the band and isn’t willing to say otherwise — plays out over the course of more than two hours like a manifesto found after the fact. Imagine chapters called “Hope is Weakness,” “Fingered by the Hand of God,” and “Uplift the Worthy (Destroy the Weak).” The last of those appears on both discs — as do several of the songs in different incarnations — as the track marries acoustic and eventual harder-edged guitar around murderous themes, sounding something like Godflesh might have if they’d pursued a darker path. Scary.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Warish, Down in Flames

warish down in flames

The fact that Warish are blasting hard punk through heavy blowout tones isn’t what everyone wants to talk about when it comes to the band. They want to talk about the fact that it’s Riley Hawk — of royal stock, as regards pro skateboarding — fronting the band. Well, that’s probably good for a built-in social media following — name recognition never hurts, and I don’t see a need to pretend otherwise — but it doesn’t do shit for the album itself. What matters about the album is that bit about the blasting blowout. With Down in Flames (on RidingEasy), the Oceanside three-piece follow-up their earlier-2019 debut EP with 11 tracks that touch on horror punk with “Bones” and imagine grunge-unhinged with “Fight” and “You’ll Abide,” but are essentially a display of tonal fuckall presented not to add to a brand, but to add the soundtrack to somebody’s blackout. It’s a good time and the drunkest, gnarliest, most-possibly-shirtless dude in the room is having it. Also he probably smells. And he just hugged you. Down in Flames gets high with that dude. That matters more than who anyone’s dad is.

Warish on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Split

It’s a double-dose of New England doom as Connecticut’s Mourn the Light and Boston’s Oxblood Forge pair up for a split release. The former bring more material than the latter, particularly when one counts the digital-only bonus cover of Candlemass‘ “Bewitched,” but with both groups, it’s a case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Both groups share a clear affinity for classic metal — and yes, that absolutely extends to the piano-led drama of Mourn the Light‘s mournful “Carry the Flame” — but Oxblood Forge‘s take thereupon is rougher edged, harder in its tone and meaner in the output. Their “Screams From Silence” feels like something from a dubbed-and-mailed tape circa ’92. Mourn the Light’s “Drags Me Down” is cleaner-sounding, but no less weighted. I don’t think either band is out to change the world, or even to change doom, but they’re doing what they’re doing well and without even an ounce of pretense — well, maybe a little bit in that piano track; but it’s very metal pretense — and clearly from the heart. That might be the most classic-metal aspect of all.


Mourn the Light on Thee Facebooks

Oxblood Forge on Thee Facebooks

 

Those Furious Flames, HeartH

those furious flames hearth

Swiss heavy rockers Those Furious Flames push the boundaries of psychedelia, but ultimately remain coherent in their approach. Likewise, they very, very obviously are into some classic heavy rock and roll, but their take on it is nothing if not modern. And more, they thrive in these contradictions and don’t at all sound like their songs are in conflict with themselves. I guess that’s the kind of thing one can pull off after 15 years together on a fifth full-length, which HeartH (on Vincebus Eruptum) is for them. Perhaps it’s the fact that they let the energy of pieces like “VooDoo” and the boogie-laced “HPPD” carry them rather than try to carry it, but either way, it’s clearly about the songs first, and it works. With added flash of organ amid the full-sounding riffs, Those Furious Flames round out with the spacey “Visions” and earn every bit of the drift therein with a still-resonant vocal harmony. You might not get it all the first time, but listening twice won’t be at all painful.

Those Furious Flames on Thee Facebooks

Vincebus Eruptum Recordings BigCartel store

 

Mantra Machine, Heliosphere

mantra machine heliosphere

This is what it’s all about. Four longer-form instrumentalist heavy psych jams that are warm in tone and want nothing so much as to go out wandering and see what they can find. Through “Hydrogen,” “Atmos,” “Delta-V” and “Heliosphere,” Amsterdam-based three-piece Mantra Machine want nothing for gig-style vitality, but their purpose isn’t so much to electrify as to find that perfect moment of chill and let it go, see where it ends up, and they get there to be sure. Warm guitar and bass tones call to mind something that might’ve come out of the Netherlands at the start of this decade, when bands like Sungrazer and The Machine were unfolding such fluidity as seemed to herald a new generation of heavy psychedelia across Europe. That generation took a different shape — several different shapes, in the end — but Mantra Machine‘s Heliosphere makes it easy to remember what was so exciting about that in the first place. Total immersion. Total sense of welcoming. Totally human presence without speaking a word. So much vibe. So much right on.

Mantra Machine on Thee Facebooks

Mantra Machine on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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