Friday Full-Length: Natas, Delmar

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 20th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Natas, Delmar (1996)

I know there are those who swing other ways when it comes to Natas, the formative Argentinian desert rockers who’d later add a Los to the front of their name, but to my ears, their debut Delmar is one of the most gorgeous albums I’ve ever heard. Seriously. I have affection for that record over most. If you’re more into the second one, Ciudad de Brahman, or maybe Corsario Negro or something they did thereafter, that’s awesome too. I’m certainly on board for the whole discography — my most recent welcome addition was the Rutation collection of previously unreleased material — but tonight, with how sweltering hot it’s been all day, it had to be Delmar to close out the week. It’s like I can hear the heat bearing down on me. Or maybe that’s sunstroke.

My alarm was set for 5 this morning, but I woke up at 4:57AM and agonized for two minutes before preempting it at 4:59. I wanted to get to work early in no small part to post the Carpet review and that interview with Steve Janiak from Devil to Pay. No regrets, but holy fucking shit I’m tired. At noon, The Patient Mrs. — who was coming up to Boston anyway to attend a wedding tonight — met me at my office and we split out to try to beat traffic northbound. Six-plus hours of traffic and intermittently cutting out A/C later, the little dog and I checked into the hotel where we’re staying after dropping The Patient Mrs. off at the aforementioned nuptials. I was tired then. Then I went and saw Hey Zeus, The Scimitar and The Brought Low at Radio. I’m even more tired now as we push toward 1:30AM. Go figure.

Next week though, a review of that show — spoiler alert: it was killer — and writeups on the new Trouble, The Flying Eyes and Black Willows records, one way or another. Also want to get something up on the Black Mare tape which is a solo-project from Sera Timms of Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini that’s ambientastic. Also a Lo-Pan check-in with drummer Jesse Bartz (always good to talk to him) ahead of next weekend’s The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn and I’m gonna put this one all in bold because I want it to stand out so someone might actually read it:

There’s a big surprise coming on Tuesday. I can’t say what it is yet but I think and hope you’ll dig it. Nothing’s ever 100 percent and things fall through, but I’m way stoked.

Speaking of things falling through, my housing plans. While we’re in Boston anyway, since we’re moving to Massachusetts in, oh, a week and a half, maybe it’s high time The Patient Mrs. and I found a place to live. After that house we were going to buy shit the proverbial bed — or at least poisoned it with carcinogenic gasoline additives — we now need to find a rental, and quick. Tomorrow’s the day. The truck and the movers are booked for next weekend. It’s tomorrow or it’s… well, Sunday, I guess. But definitely tomorrow’s preferable. The sooner the better.

So while we’re doing that, I hope like crazy you have a safe, terrific weekend. I’ll be back on Monday with more typo-laden riff worship.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Album of the Summer of the Week: Brant Bjork, Jalamanta

Posted in Features on July 23rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

When Man’s Ruin Records was getting ready to put out 1999’s Jalamanta, the first solo album from former Kyuss and Fu Manchu drummer Brant Bjork, they said in the album bio that it was “Psychedelic, soulful, organic, sexy…” and that “Man’s Ruin considers this one of their most interesting releases to date,” citing the likes of War as inspiration. Throughout the years and many subsequent solo offerings since, funk has always remained an essential part of Brant Bjork‘s work, and that ultra-grooving, ultra-warm low end is part of what makes Jalamanta a perfect summertime record, as well as the quintessential desert rock release.

The other part is the laid back vibe that Bjork constructs out of that low end. From the very start of “Lazy Bones” and “Automatic Fantastic,” Jalamanta bleeds cool. It’s a record that’s had untold influence on the current heavy rock scene — especially in Europe; one can hear shades of jams like “‘Let’s Get Chinese Eyes'” or “Defender of the Oleander” across a wide swath of bands — and its psychedelic elements only added mystique to the sun-baked atmosphere. Not to discount anything Kyuss did, but Jalamanta sounds even more purely of the desert, and if the song “Low Desert Punk” is anything to go by, Bjork knew exactly what he was doing and the sound he was embodying when he made it.

And while Brant Bjork would go on to become the godfather of desert rock and Jalamanta would in large part define the course of his career as a solo songwriter — a career that seemed to be sidetracked following a label deal with Napalm Records last year by the emergence of Kyuss Lives!, whose fate remains uncertain pending litigation — the album’s appeal isn’t necessarily limited to its geography. Sure, it’s low desert punk, but for example, right now it’s so humid outside my office that if you moved your arms the right way you could do a breast stroke through the air, and Jalamanta proves a perfect fit for Jersey’s perma-haze as well.

The album was reissued on Bjork‘s own Duna Records in 2003 (minus the Mario Lalli-fronted “Toot”) and again by his next label incarnation, Low Desert Punk (with that track restored and a bonus Blue Öyster Cult cover) on vinyl in 2009, and the original is out there on the secondary market, so Jalamanta is around, but if like me you’re too paralyzed by the heat to move and check it out, here’s “Too Many Chiefs… Not Enough Indians” courtesy of the YouTubes:

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Wino Wednesday: Sons of Otis Covers Saint Vitus’ “Born too Late”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 14th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Happy Wino Wednesday, y'allIf the Nation of Doom (as opposed to the Legion of Doom) were to have a national anthem, there’s no question it would be Saint Vitus‘ “Born too Late.” The title-track of the first album of the band’s Wino-fronted incarnation, “Born too Late” sums up the doomer mentality as concisely and as clearly as possible: “I’ll never be like you/And I don’t want to be like you.” Can’t get any less ambiguous than that.

Canadian outfit Sons of Otis are among the most stoned of the stonerly, and they have been since their Spacejumbofudge debut in 1996. They meld a range of spaced-out effects, monstrous fuzz and doomed-out plodding to craft a dankness worthy of Bongzilla without the abrasion. Vocals come gurgled in from infinite echoes believed to have their origins in guitarist Ken Baluke, and when they covered “Born too Late” for their Man’s Ruin Records debut sophomore outing, Temple Ball, in 1999, they followed through on the song’s bullshit-free ethic by naming the track simply “Vitus.”

The idea is beautiful, but they might as well have called it “Life,” since “Born too Late” is nothing if not biographical. I know this is the first Wino Wednesday clip that doesn’t actually feature Scott “Wino” Weinrich at all, either in the main lineup or in a guest spot, but in their own, fully-baked way, Sons of Otis nail “Born too Late” on “Vitus,” and it shows that more than a decade after the fact, the “They don’t know the things I know” ethic had already proved as timeless as it seems today.

Enjoy Sons of Otis‘ “Vitus,” and happy Wino Wednesday:

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Buried Treasure and the Patterns in the Stars

Posted in Buried Treasure on October 17th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

A bit of personal trivia: Alabama Thunderpussy‘s Constellation was the first Man’s Ruin Records album I ever bought. It was released in 2000 and I made my purchase directly from the band on their website — it might also have been the first time I did that — sometime after the release of 2001’s also-excellent Staring at the Divine, which was their Relapse debut. I didn’t know much about the label or the band at that point, other than (as per the poster above) they stomped ass and it was worth $10 of my money.

I’ve chronicled my Man’s Ruin buying adventures here pretty extensively, but Constellation has always had a soft spot in my heart, for being the first and for its fearless blend of sentimentality and burly heavy Southern rock. It’s not just any band that would put “Six Shooter” and “15 Minute Drive” on the same record. Still, I probably hadn’t listened to it in a few years even before ATP broke up after releasing the more metallic Open Fire in 2007 with Kyle Thomas from Exhorder on vocals, and as has happened a couple times by now (see here, here, here and here, for starters), finding the promo for sale on the relative cheap provided a good chance to reintroduce myself to the album.

The first thing that sticks out about it — especially in the context of what’s come since from Virginia and the surrounding area — is how forward thinking it is. A lot of the distinct guitar crunch from Erik Larson and Asechaih Bogdan and the sans-reverb vocals of Johnny Throckmorton you can hear in the sludge coming out of that area now from the likes of Lord and a few like-minded acts also not shy about bringing melody into the mix.

As much as cuts like “Ambition,” “Burden” and the organ-infused “Foul Play” rock as straightforwardly as possible, the acoustics of “Obsari” and the more airy feel of “1271-3106” do more than just change things up. There’s a direct effect on mood and the overall tone of the album that lasts right into the intro of “Keepsake” and the extended weird-out jam of “Country Song.” I guess it’s not necessarily that I didn’t realize these things were happening on the record before, although I’d believe that too, but with the additional time since its release — it’ll be 12 years come March — there’s been a real chance for the record to ferment. Constellation goes down like fine aged moonshine, and proves no less blinding.

If you’re interested, click the picture on the left above to enlarge it and read the bio. Believe it.


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Mundee Mass

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 4th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

I didn’t get the chance to close out the week before I had to leave work Friday, and internet connection was spotty all weekend where I was staying (in Maryland; no real big mystery, was visiting some family friends) until last night, so I figured I’d just hold off and start one week instead of closing another. If you’re reading this and you’re American, happy July 4. If you’re reading this somewhere else in the world, hope work is good.

German Man’s Ruin obscurios Mass seemed as good a way to launch this week as any, and since where I sit in the home office is right next to the “M” section on my recently-decimated shelves (actually, it was way more than one in 10 I removed and put into storage to make room), it happened to catch my eye. I’d have just put the album on and enjoyed it that way, but the CD player is otherwise occupied.

You see, even as I sit here and type this, I’m ripping the tracks for what will become the previously-promised podcast, which I’ll have up before midnight tonight. Hopefully well before that, actually. There’s some not-in-front-of-the-computer stuff I need to take care of this afternoon, but I’m optimistic that I’ll have time for both real life and podcast-making. It’s worked out that way for the better part of the last 18 months, anyhow.

And if there’s any real sacrifice to get aOT17 made, it’s that I’m not spending this entire afternoon listening to the new YOB, which along with releases by Ancestors and probably two others, will be reviewed this week. I’ll also have Six Dumb Questions with Sons of Alpha Centauri about their collaboration with Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce (the project being Yawning Sons) and Karma to Burn, as well as sundry other happy-fun-time posts.

For now, let me get back to work on this beast. Hope you have a great week, and if you’re boozing and fireworks-ing today, please try to keep the blown-off fingers to a minimum.

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Buried Treasure: When the Stoner Rock Highway was the Jersey Turnpike (aka Here’s Solarized’s First Bio)

Posted in Buried Treasure on March 4th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Of the sundry stoner/riff-heavy bands that emerged from my beloved Garden State in the wake of Monster Magnet‘s run at major label success, one of the most often and most unfortunately overlooked is Solarized. They had two albums in 1999’s Neanderthal Speedway (Man’s Ruin) and 2001’s Driven (MeteorCity), a split with Solace, and they appeared on a couple compilations, but then they faded into the swamps. The scene links were there — guitarist/vocalist Jim Hogan and drummer Regina Santana were in Daisycutter with Tim Cronin (The Ribeye Bros.) and Ed Mundell (now ex-Monster Magnet), and in and out of the band at different points were Halfway to Gone‘s Lou Gorra and Lee Stuart, the latter who went on to form A Thousand Knives of Fire — but that wasn’t enough to get Solarized much past 2003. Their last reported lineup was Hogan, Santana, bassist George Pierro and second guitarist Dave Topolenski.

I was doing my usual bit of late night eBay dicking around last week when I spotted an original Man’s Ruin promo for Neanderthal Speedway (the kind with the bio attached that’s been posted about before, and before, and before) and decided to snap it up for the listed $7 and use posting the bio as an excuse to revisit the album, which I already owned. It’s a friendly listen, some psychedelia spread throughout, and Hogan‘s vocals are gruff but not forced, and buried under his ultra-fuzzed out guitar. The Atomic Bitchwax‘s first record, which also came out in 1999, but on Tee Pee, is a decent point of reference, but something about Solarized is more assured and confident in its sound. Both Tim Cronin and Ed Mundell turn in guest appearances throughout Neanderthal Speedway, and listening to it now that the stoner scene has grown internationally and splintered so much, it’s kind of a return to simpler times, which, as someone who wishes people didn’t get offended at the term “stoner rock,” I can appreciate every now and then.

The bio may not be as thrilling as Brant Bjork‘s or Goatsnake‘s, but here it is anyway. Click the image to make it bigger in a new window/tab:

For what it’s worth, I was happy to get the chance to listen to Neanderthal Speedway again. Granted, I could have done so without spending any money by taking the disc off my shelf at any given point, but screw it, it was $7 and “February Sixth (Anti-Life Equation)” rules and the riff of “Solar Fang” is close enough to “Zodiac Lung” to give me a fix, so I don’t feel like I lost out on anything. I was still in high school at the time and knew squat about stoner rock, but it would have been something to run into Solarized at a show. I suppose I still feel that way now.

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Frydee Tummler

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 14th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

I thought rather than hold off and wait for either later tonight or tomorrow to end the week, I’d cut out early. I’m supposed to be interviewing “Dixie” Dave Collins of Weedeater at 7PM Eastern, and after that I’m off to pretend I’m a human being with The Patient Mrs. at a social-type gathering. One can only assume I’ll either fall down and hurt myself or end up swearing loudly near a group of small children. That’s usually how it goes.

This week caps off with Tummler, who ruled. They put out Queen to Bishop VI on Man’s Ruin in 2000, Early Man (which predated the band of the same name) on Small Stone in 2002, and were never heard from again. Good band. If I remember right — and there’s a chance I don’t — I either got to see them live at a SXSW or an Emissions from the Monolith somewhere along the line. A little “hey whoa momma yeah” in the vocals, but still cool. I haven’t had any Man’s Ruin-worship on here in a while, anyway. Fuzz on.

My semester starts next Wednesday, the thought of which is grueling. I believe the phrase I used when The Patient Mrs. reminded me the other day was “kill me in the face.” That is still very much how I feel about it. Somehow, some way, though, I’m still planning on posting my interview with Laura Pleasants of Kylesa, and maybe we’ll have some more goodies as well of the listening-to variety.

Until then, be safe and enjoy the weekend. Remember that the forums never close, and we’ll see you back here for more fun times on Monday.

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Here’s Goatsnake’s First Bio

Posted in Buried Treasure on November 18th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I’ve posted bios from the backs of original Man’s Ruin Records promo CDs already for High on Fire and for Brant Bjork, and though I didn’t really get any response off either of them, I thought especially in light of today’s SunnO))) announcement from Roadburn, I’d put the one that came in the mail yesterday with Goatsnake‘s classic I album (an eBay find) up for the great silent majority out there who might think it’s cool.

Or maybe it’s just me who thinks it’s cool. That’s fine too. I do get a nerdy pleasure out of seeing the first biography for Goatsnake, before anyone had heard of Greg Anderson and when Greg Rogers and Guy Pinhas from The Obsessed were the big draw to the band. By way of a little context, 1999 was the year The Grimmrobe Demos were first released, so no one yet knew the serious and drone-laden madness that was about to befall American doom.

Click the image below to make it bigger, and enjoy.

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