Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

Pendejo on Thee Facebooks

Pendejo webstore

 

Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

Witch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Witch Hazel on Bandcamp

 

CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

CBBJ on Thee Facebooks

CBBJ on Bandcamp

 

Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

Seedium on Thee Facebooks

Seedium on Bandcamp

 

Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

Vorrh on Thee Facebooks

Vorrh on Bandcamp

 

Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

Lost Relics on Thee Facebooks

Lost Relics on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Bandcamp

 

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Lightsabres to Release A Shortcut to Insanity Dec. 30; Preorders up Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The cover art and tracklisting for Lightsabres‘ upcoming LP, A Shortcut to Insanity, has been floating around since March when the Swedish mostly-one-man outfit signed to DHU Records for the album’s release. One imagines then it’s been a long year for Lightsabres waiting for it to come out. Preorders though will begin this week for a still-2018 release on Dec. 30, and as with Lightsabres‘ past outings — the most recent full-length was 2016’s Hibernation (review here) — it’s no doubt well suited to the dark winter hours that accompany the coming of a New Year. I’ll be happy to confirm that when I’ve heard it.

Release announcement comes through the PR wire:

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

LIGHTSABES ~ A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY (DHU031)

Here we have for you the final release of 2018 by DHU Records, the details, pre order date, official release date and download for reviewers for the Lightsabres ~ A Shortcut to Insanity Limited Edition vinyl!

Pre orders will start Friday November 16th at 7PM CET

Official release date December 30th

Recorded and mixed by Anton Nyström at BD Pop Studios, Luleå, Sweden. Mastered by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Recording Co.

Tracklist

Side A:

A1. From the Demon’s Mouth
A2. Breathing Fire
A3. Cave In
A4. Sweet Oblivion of Sleep
A5. Shot in the Head

Side B:

B1. Tangled in Barbed Wire
B2. With Horns
B3. No Light
B4. Shark Eyes
B5. Born Screaming

Available in the following Editions:

FROM THE DEMON’S MOUTH EDITION
DHU EXCLUSIVE

Limited to 90 copies
Gatefold Jacket
Flooded in Black
Spotfoil on the cover
Black polylined innersleeves
Artwork by MIDORI HAYASHI
A4 poster by Shane Horror
Hand numbered DHU Exclusive Card
Housed in a PVC Sleeve
Comes on White/Green Cornetto Effect 12″ vinyl

Lightsabres is:
J. Strömshed: Guitar/Bass/Vocals
Anton Nyström: Session Drummer

https://www.facebook.com/lightsabres
https://lightsabres.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Lightsabres, tracks from split with Blissfull Stream (2017)

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Lightsabres Sign to DHU Records; A Shortcut to Insanity Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Swedish genremasher John Strömshed, now in his fifth year of operation under the moniker of Lightsabres, has inked a deal to release his next full-length through DHU Records. After a series of outings through STB Records, HeviSike, Medusa Crush and others, DHU will release the forthcoming A Shortcut to Insanity, which is a title that may or may not be final but serves as a reasonably fitting description of what it’s like to try and follow along with Strömshed as he careens between styles, leaving his stamp on them as he goes.

Admirably prolific, Lightsabres issued a split with Blissful Stream last year to follow-up on 2016’s Hibernation (review here), and seems to be on a continuous mission to confuse the crap out of anyone who’d try to slab a label on his work one way or another.

The PR wire made it official:

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

DHU RECORDS – !!! NEW SIGNING !!!

DHU Records is damn excited to announce the signing of Luleå, Sweden’s own one man stoner punk enigma LIGHTSABRES!

Having released a handful of albums under many great labels, DHU Records will not hold back on this one!

Formed in 2013 with a total DIY ethic John Strömshed set out to make some of the most gnarliest lo fi stoner punk much akin to the sound of 80s and 90s Black Metal, even using a font that is similar as most bands of that genre.

The music however is more like the early punk bands of the 80s, combined with stoner riffage and heavy metal melodies, distinguishing himself and creating his own signature sound.

DHU Records is ecstatic and honored to be working with and releasing LIGHTSABRES new album tentatively called A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

Presented here is the artwork created by MIDORI HAYASHI for LIGHTSABRES new album A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

Tracklist
1. From the Demon’s Mouth
2. Breathing Fire
3. Cave In
4. Sweet Oblivion of Sleep
5. Shot in the Head
6. Tangled in Barbed Wire
7. With Horns
8. No Light
9. Shark Eyes
10. Born Screaming

As always with DHU Records you can expect some wild colored Limited Editions to compliment the release. More details and info coming soon.

LIGHTSABRES
J. Strömshed: Guitar/Bass/Vocals
Anton Nyström: Session Drummer

https://www.facebook.com/lightsabres
https://lightsabres.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Lightsabres, tracks from split with Blissfull Stream (2017)

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Duuude, Tapes! Lightsabres, Spitting Blood

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on January 7th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

lightsabres-spitting-blood-tape-case-and-patch

 

Like Lightsabres‘ late-2013 debut, Demons (review here), the second full-length, Spitting Blood, is a deceptively complex outing. Released as a limited tape in an edition of 50 copies by HeviSike Records — 25 translucent red cassettes, 25 opaque red, with a foldout j-card and included patch — and already through its second vinyl pressing since releasing in Sept. 2014, it pulls together ranging impulses from garage rock, goth drama, heavy riffing, raw punk and more across its 13-track span, all songs clocking in at around or under two minutes long. A quick listen, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist John Strömshed (who also recorded and doubles in Tunga Moln) takes listeners through an otherworldly passage not quite as dark or extreme as the cover of the tape might indicate, but certainly fitting enough with the notion of cutting to the bone. The buzzsaw guitar tone that pervades “I Can’t Feel It,” which sounds like a hypothetical garage-recordedlightsabres-spitting-blood-inside-j-card Queens of the Stone Age demo circa 1991, and the later post-punk boogie of “Like Shit” slices and dices through the raw mix with little concern, for skin or otherwise.

That is, ultimately, what Strömshed uses to cloak the sonic diversity of Lightsabres. In another dimension, he’d be exploring ever deeper arrangements in limitless budgets of instrumentation and production style, but on Spitting Blood, it’s the mood and stylistic range that’s being explored, pushed outside of the comfort zone of genre. His take on the Misfits‘ “Hybrid Moments” (a personal favorite) is authentic to the original, and somehow, it fits smoothly between the would-be-nihilistic-if-it-wasn’t-such-a-hook of “Fuck Tomorrow” and the head-down low-end punk of “Sonic Death” near the end of side 1. To further the delightfully confounding nature of the tape, each half ends with a sweet, ambient moment of guitar melody, “Dark Matter” wistful and folkish, and album-closer “I Dream of Space” an experimental-feeling brush with psychedelic minimalism at least in part presented backwards. Coming off a song like “No Cash,” which is the longest inclusion on Spitting Blood at 2:36 and toys with drumless pop drama in a near-abrasive blown-out wash of fuzz, it is particularly effective in highlighting just how deep Strömshed goes in his lightsabres-spitting-blood-side-1pursuit of… whatever the hell it might be that he’s after.

But it’s the rawness that makes it all consistent. Like earliest Six Organs of Admittance — and at the same time, not at all like it — Lightsabres‘ consuming rough edge gives even an angrier punker like “Pigs” an underlying intimacy, almost a personalized feel, that works greatly toward lending further individuality to what would in many other contexts be a loosely familiar or at very least more straightforward offering. Coupled with a core of songwriting that will be apparent even on the most superficial of listens as the catchiness of these songs reaches up from the dense tonal swamp in which they reside to bash the listener over the head, that still-developing individualism makes Spitting Blood both a worthy successor to Demons and an enjoyable reveling in proto-grunge that, in a world of cult themes that it eschews, proves legitimately cult worthy. A project of which people will no doubt continue to take notice, and rightfully so.

Lightsabres, Spitting Blood (2014)

Lightsabres on Bandcamp

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records

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Duuude, Tapes! Lightsabres, Demons

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on June 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It is deceptively hard to get a handle on where Luleå, Sweden, rockers Lightsabres are coming from. Their debut tape, pressed and then re-pressed in limited edition by 808 New York (mine is #50 of 80), is called Demons, and while it’s quick at about 17 minutes long, and blown out in the lo-fi sense, it’s not to be mistaken for a demo. Eight tracks are presented four on each side, both sides start with an intro piece — “Fangs” and “Teeth,” respectively — and there’s cohesion and flow enough in what Lightsabres do that even if they weren’t working with a label to release it (there’s also vinyl out on Hink Inc.), to call it a demo would be selling it short. From the psychedelic ambience they pull off in the intros and side two’s closing “Demons,” the distorted stonery of side one opener “Black Hash,” and the stripped down punkish sneer of its side two counterpart “Born to Die,” Lightsabres tie together disparate elements with natural-sounding ease and come out of the release with a highly individualized garage-grunge that makes the memorable songwriting of “Fly Like a Bird” seem like fortunate happenstance.

Maybe it is, I don’t know. Maybe the members of Lightsabres — evidently content to remain nameless — showed up, pressed record, and that’s what came out. Either way, the heavy-pop bounce of that track is something most bands would have to work at. It’s as accessible as they go and well placed at the end of side one, following the rawer push of “Eyez,” on which the vocals come across even rougher than “Black Hash.” An unexpected turn, but one they pull off with apparent ease, and side two’s more psychedelic vibing affirms that Lightsabres have a broad creative range to go along with the effectiveness of their presentation. Post-rock guitar wisps begin “Teeth” only to be joined by air-moving bass fuzz, and while “Born to Die” strips away some of the prettier, melodic aspects, its half-time drums and noisy lead wash later on can’t cover up a basic heavy rock feel. Perhaps the most punkish moment of Demons is the first half of the Ty Segall cover “Caesar,” which breaks just before the first of its two minutes into manipulated, floating notes moving backwards and forwards in hypnotic motion toward the closing title-track, which takes a more minimal, spacious approach and finds dual vocal layers coming together for a moment of crooning before flipping the whole thing backwards to maximize an experimental, anything’s-possible sense of uncertainty.

The edit on the tape of “Demons” is different than that on the digital version, and the download also has an extra track, “Red Light,” that serves as a centerpiece between the two sides, so if cassettes aren’t your thing, Lightsabres still have something to offer for your pay-what-you-will. There’s also reportedly a follow-up to Demons called Spitting Blood due out shortly, and the band seems to have some shared membership with psych rockers Tunga Moln, so expect to hear more from this promising outfit one way or another.

Lightsabres, Demons 

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

Lightsabres on Bandcamp

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