The Top 15 of the First Half of 2014

Posted in Features on June 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s custom around here to do a Top 10 of the First Half of the Year, in advance of doing a Top 20 of the Year in December. The idea is that the later list will basically build on the earlier one. That’s never really how it works out — albums always drop off or appear unexpectedly depending on what gets listened to most, what gets reviewed late, etc. — but it always works out to be a good time anyway, and that’s really what it’s all about.

The difference this year is that instead of doing a Top 20 in December, I’m planning on expanding to a full Top 30, so to do a Top 10 of the stuff from January until now makes less sense. So here we are with a Top 15. A slightly longer list, but still the same basic idea as years past otherwise. These are albums I’m expecting will turn up again at the end of the year on the final Top 30, and though some will and some won’t and almost all of them will move around, there are more than a handful — particularly if we’re counting by fingers — of essential records released over the last six months recounted here.

If you missed something, I hope it’s something cool you get to check out, and if I missed something (as I inevitably did), I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Please note that this is full albums only, no EPs, splits, singles or demos.

Enjoy:

 

15. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed April 25.

I’ll freely admit I was more than a little thrown off by the change in approach on Greenleaf‘s fifth album. Where prior outings like 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here) and 2007’s megatriumph Agents of Ahriman had been lush heavy rock affairs helmed by Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa with a slew of guests on vocals, organ, etc., Trails and Passes dialed back the “extras” in favor of a more stripped down, stage-ready approach. Holappa‘s songwriting alone would likely be enough to have Greenleaf on this list one way or another, and Trails and Passes is one of the year’s best. The turn was just unexpected and I feel like I’m not caught up to it yet.

 

14. Druglord, Enter Venus

Released by STB Records. Reviewed Feb. 14.

Initially put out in a limited tape run in late 2013 (review here), the Enter Venus full-length from Richmond-based sludgers Druglord codified the noisy murk of their prior outings into one devastating wave of lurching riffage and echoing shouts. The Virginian three-piece recorded with Garrett Morris of Windhand and the STB vinyl topped off with artwork by W. Ralph Walters, making for a package both visually and sonically devastating, and though it’s short for an album at under a half-hour, the 12″ still earns the nod for the unmitigated heft its four songs carry. It’s one you can either dig or miss out, but Druglord show there’s more room for invention in sludge.

 

13. Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

Released by Deathwish Inc. Reviewed May 15.

There really isn’t much left to say when it comes to Wovenhand and their driving force, frontman David Eugene Edwards. Their first for Deathwish Inc., Refractory Obdurate is the latest document of one of this generation’s most accomplished songwriting progressions. It follows a brilliant record in 2012’s The Laughing Stalk (review here) and likely precedes one in whatever they decide to do next, and the enduring fascination on Edwards‘ part with tonal weight and groove continues to push Wovenhand into a creative territory that is without genre. Nobody else comes close.

 

12. Papir, IIII

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Quick-working Danish jammers Papir made a strong impression with IIII early in the year, offering a progressive take on the style of heavy instrumental jamming that has flourished throughout Europe over the last half-decade or so. Immediately individualized, the Copenhagen three-piece carried across four intricately constructed pieces, most open with the 21-minute “III” but never lacking for twists and turns that were an utter joy to follow. A band that has already collaborated with the even-jammier Electric Moon and who’ve aligned themselves with Causa Sui‘s El Paraiso Records, they seem like a safe bet to continue to grow into reliable purveyors of high-quality instrumental heavy psychedelia.

 

11. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed March 10.

Its arrival was heralded by the righteousness of a Lego video for “Nine Princes in Amber,” though even that was little preparation for the classic doomery that would take place on the return long-player from Portland, Maine’s Ogre. The trio of guitarist Ross Markonish, bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham and drummer Will Broadbent broke up in 2009, got back together in 2012, and with their fourth album, they made it clear they still had plenty to offer those who worship trad-style riffing, Sabbathy grooves and the kind of hooks that stay with you for days. The Last Neanderthal had plenty of those, and “Warpath,” the aforementioned “Nine Princes in Amber,” “Bad Trip” and “Son of Sisyphus” tapped into what makes the best of doom so ready for repeat listens.

 

10. Floor, Oblation

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed April 22.

Another reunited trio, Floor had it tough coming into their first album in a decade, Oblation. The legacy of their 2002 self-titled would loom large over anything they put out, and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks had since gained a huge following as the spearhead of Torche, but four years after they started playing shows again, Floor met the challenge head-on with Oblation‘s 14 tracks, showing a natural progression from where they left off so long ago without seeming like they were trying to recapture a past that inevitably would prove irretrievable. Instead, they’ve set themselves on a course for continuing to develop as a band, and though Torche have a new album expected out this summer on Relapse and doubtless that will take some time and focus away from Floor, hopefully they keep pursuing that growth.

 

9. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed March 14.

I’ll claim no impartiality when it comes to Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock purveyors Mos Generator or the craftsmanship of guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, but if half the point of a list like this is to nerd out over albums you dig (and I’ll gladly argue that it is), then Electric Mountain Majesty is right where it should be. Reed, bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson are clockwork-reliable when it comes to putting out high-grade material, and their second record since getting going again after Reed‘s few years in Stone Axe pushed beyond the considerable accomplishments of 2012’s Nomads (review here) and brought their sound to new and at times surprisingly doomed places while still keeping their core in a love of classic heavy rock songwriting. From where I sit, new Mos Gen is never one to pass up.

 

8. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

Self-released. Reviewed March 24.

Not that I didn’t expect a new Blood Farmers release to be cool, but Headless Eyes was still a surprise when it arrived earlier in 2014. Who was to say what the New York trio would concoct after a 19-year studio absence? Of course, what they came out with was dead-on horror-loving doomly plod, cuts like the instrumental “Night of the Sorcerers” and the deceptively catchy “Headless Eyes” not only worthy of Blood Farmers‘ substantial legacy but building on it. Void of pretense, Headless Eyes resonated with a brooding atmosphere capped by the surprising closer, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” a cover of the theme from The Last House on the Left and positioned the three-piece of vocalist Eli Brown, guitarist/bassist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Léger among the fore of traditional doom’s practitioners.

 

7. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 25.

After seeing them live late last year (review here), digging their 456th Div. tape (review here) and putting their debut single on the best short releases of 2013 list, I had little doubt that their self-titled debut full-length would deliver a satisfying listen. Sure enough, the five-tracks of the quality-over-quantity release did precisely that, the Brooklyn three-piece harnessing unashamed positive vibes to mesh with a burgeoning psychedelic feel, catchy hooks and classic-style road songs serving as a reminder of the good times that rock and roll both provides and complements. Now that summer is here, I expect to revisit The Golden Grass plenty of time over these sunny, hot months, since it would seem the year has finally caught up with the band’s warmth and day-long spirit. The Golden Grass are reportedly headed to Europe later this year, so more to come on them for sure.

 

6. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed April 4.

Every time I think I’m out, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz pulls me back in. The third full-length from Argentina trio Ararat seems to hit me with a different song each week. This week, it’s the six-minute “El Hijo de Ignacio,” with the insistent, punkish drums from Alfredo Felitte, backing noise and later keyboard eeriness from Tito Fargo and the low bass rumble of Sergio Chotsourian (ex-Los Natas), whose vocals seem to hover over the rest of the mix as though piped in from someplace else entirely. The whole album had a hypnotic effect that pulled the listener away from how diverse it actually was, moving into and out of heavy psych atmospherics with expert smoothness, but the more attention you paid, the more rewarding the experience became, as Ararat defied any expectations that might have come from their 2012 sophomore outing, II (review here), and boldly pushed toward new avenues of progression.

 

5. Conan, Blood Eagle

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Jan. 22.

Who’s heavier than Conan? The superlative UK trio have spent the two years since the release of their full-length debut, Monnos (review here), solidifying their dominance, and their first album for Napalm Records plays out like a victory lap over the skulls of lesser riffs. Opening with the near-10-minute lumber of “Crown of Talons,” Blood Eagle solidified the two-sidedness of Monnos into a back-breaking doom assault, and their pummel remains unparalleled as they continue to grow as players and songwriters. This year has also seen producer Chris Fielding join the band on bass, and as badass as Blood Eagle is — one would rarely think of a song called “Gravity Chasm” as being so aptly-named — I can’t help but look forward to hearing what Conan do from here and how they continue to refine one of doom’s most bludgeoning approaches.

 

4. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed May 22.

It’s the songs. I really, really dug Dwellers‘ 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here) as well, and I won’t say a bad word about that album, but Pagan Fruit is in a different class altogether. And you know, it’s not just the songs. It’s how the songs play next to each other, the mood they create, and the hooks that Dwellers bring to the table with so much stylistic poise, calling the bluffs of any number of heavy psych blues rockers on “Totem Crawler,” or “Creature Comfort,” or “Son of Raven” or “Spirit of the Staircase.” The Salt Lake City-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis brought new levels of cohesion to their sound throughout Pagan Fruit and it remains an album that I have yet to get enough of hearing, one that seems to offer more each time I put it on and let my mind drift to its patient, open spaces.

 

3. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed May 14.

From here on out, on any given day, any one of these is my album of the year. What a thrill it was to put on Fu Manchu‘s first album in five years, Gigantoid, and have it roll out such a tight-knit collection of heavy rolling excellence. The West Coast stoner riff gods of gnarl stripped down their production inspired in part by a reissue campaign of their earlier work on their own At the Dojo Records label, and the punkish feel suited them better than even they likely could’ve expected. With its opening four-song punch, the no-frills shot of “No Warning” and the closeout jam at the end of “The Last Question,” Gigantoid felt like more than one could’ve reasonably asked from a Fu Manchu long-player 20 years on from their debut, but the vitality they showed in its tracks, paired with the efficiency with which the songs were executed, showcased a timeless, perpetual appeal. They know what they’re doing and how they want to do it, and just because there was no doubt going into Gigantoid doesn’t make the end product any less of a payoff.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

I’ve gone on at some length about what I find so appealing in the second full-length from Bordeaux trio Mars Red Sky, so even putting aside the deft hand with which they incorporated further heavy psych soundscapes into their songwriting, let me just focus on how memorable Stranded in Arcadia actually is. That was true as well of Mars Red Sky‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but these songs are more ambitious, from the eight-minute opener “The Light Beyond” to the gorgeous melody-wash in the chorus of “Join the Race” and the stomp in the de facto closer “Seen a Ghost” before the leadout/refrain “Beyond the Light” calls all the way back to the first track. The development of Mars Red Sky‘s take isn’t necessarily such a surprise — the debut had its psychedelic, jammy feel as well — but the fact that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz managed to elicit such development while remaining true to the warm tones and humble, unpretentious vibe of the debut only makes Stranded in Arcadia more remarkable. I wouldn’t stop listening to it if I could.

 

1. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed June 18.

It wasn’t easy to hold off on reviewing the fifth album from the Texas power trio for as long as I did, but I thought the record was too good to jump the gun on, and so yeah, it’s a pretty recent writeup, but I feel comfortable putting The Conjuring at number one here because I’ve actually had a while to live with these songs. Or maybe “live in” them would be a better way to say it, since the dense wall of fuzz and jammed-out distortion Wo Fat create across this record is basically thick enough to take up residence. Recently back from a European tour, Wo Fat hit the road supporting their finest work to date, and as the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter are more or less self-sustaining in their own Crystal Clear Sound studio in Dallas, there’s no reason they can’t just keep developing along the path they are. The Conjuring boasts their best jams yet but also holds firm to the already-planted-in-your-consciousness hooks that Wo Fat have long since established a penchant for, and one could just as easily put the band at the fore of traditional heavy rock riffing as of American heavy psych jammers. Any way you look at them, they’re at the top of their class.

Quick honorable mention goes to Radio Moscow, The Wounded Kings, 1000mods (review forthcoming), Eyehategod, Abramis Brama, Truckfighters, Valley of the Sun, the live Causa Sui record and Alcest. Been a hell of a year so far, and I’m already putting together a list of anticipated records for the next six months, so there’s much more to follow.

Thanks as always for reading.

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VIDEO PREMIERE: Mars Red Sky, “Hovering Satellites”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I couldn’t be more thrilled to host the premiere of the new Mars Red Sky video for the track “Hovering Satellites.” Stranded in Arcadia, the Bordeaux fuzz-roller trio’s second album and Listenable Records debut from which the song comes, is easily among the best records I’ve heard this year (review here), refining the ultra-warm tones of Mars Red Sky‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and complementing them with a far-out heavy psych expansion. I can’t think of another album that’s come along in 2014 that I’ve gone back to as much even since doing the review, so yeah, pretty much any chance I get to talk about how awesome it is, I’m gonna take it.

The new video is directed by Colin Manierka and it blends live footage (captured by Bartosch Salmanski) with psychedelic color work, space scenes and wave patterns, all feeding into the atmosphere of the song itself. We do indeed get to see the satellite hovering in orbit, as well as some artful details of Mars Red Sky — guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz – on stage, but of course the highlight is the song itself, which perfectly encapsulates Stranded in Arcadia‘s accomplished melodic sensibility, heavy grooving and memorable songcraft. I’m a total nerd for the album, but the video makes my day anyhow.

Mars Red Sky recorded Stranded in Arcadia with Gabriel Zander in Brazil following their visas being denied by US customs — they had originally planned to put it to tape in the California desert — and the band is just off tour in Europe and preparing to head out again in June with appearances slated at Hellfest in Clisson and Germany’s Stoned from the Underground festival. Dates below.

Stranded in Arcadia is available now in Europe and out June 10 in North America on Listenable Records.

Enjoy:

Mars Red Sky on Tour:
06.01.14 – PARIS (Fr) La Cigale ***
06.20.14 – CLISSON (Fr) HELLFEST OPEN AIR
06.26.14 – SALLES-ABRUISSANNAS (Fr) Willstock Festival
06.27.14 – VIC LE COMTE (Fr) Festival Alambic
06.28.14 – ÉVREUX (Fr) Le Rock Dans Tous Ses États Festival
07.11.14 – ERFURT (Ger) STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND FESTIVAL
10.02.14 – PARIS (Fr) La Maroquinerie

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky’s webstore

Listenable Records

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audiObelisk Transmission 036

Posted in Podcasts on May 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

It was getting on two in the morning last night and I was yet again trying to figure out how to get the audio editing software I use to make podcasts to work on this laptop. Numerous failed downloads later, I decided screw it, I had nothing to lose, and I zipped up the directory containing the program on my old computer, WeTransfered it to myself, and unzipped it on the newer machine. Frickin’ worked. I couldn’t believe it. Proof that sometimes the stupidest solution of all is the way to go.

This is the first new podcast in a long time, I know. There’s been a lot of really cool stuff coming out in the last few months, but I wanted to still keep it as recent as possible. Some of this is out now and has been for a couple weeks, some of it isn’t out yet. I think it’s a good mix or I wouldn’t have uploaded it, and it gets pretty heavy for a while there, so watch yourself. Figured a good couple of rockers to open wouldn’t meet any complaints either, and hopefully that’s the case. Please enjoy.

First Hour:
Fu Manchu, “Radio Source Sagittarius” from Gigantoid (2014)
Radio Moscow, “Death of a Queen” from Magical Dirt (2014)
Abramis Brama, “Blåa Toner” from Enkel Biljett (2014)
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, “Spoonful” from Through the Dark Matter (2014)
Boris, “Heavy Rain” from Noise (2014)
Eyehategod, “Robitussin and Rejection” from Eyehategod (2014)
Serpentine Path, “House of Worship” from Emanations (2014)
Triptykon, “Boleskine House” from Melana Chasmata (2014)
Wovenhand, “Field of Hedon” from Refractory Obdurate (2014)
Been Obscene, “Memories of Salvation” from Unplugged (2014)
1000mods, “Reverb of the New World” from Vultures (2014)
Electric Citizen, “Light Years Beyond” from Ghost of Me b/w Light Years Beyond (2014)

Second Hour:
Mars Red Sky, “The Light Beyond” from Stranded in Arcadia (2014)
Salem’s Pot, “Creep Purple” from Lurar Ut Dig På Prärien (2014)
Black Bombaim, “Arabia” from Far Out (2014)
Dopelord, “Pass the Bong” from Black Arts, Riff Worship and Weed Cult (2014)
Holly Hunt, “Prometheus” from Prometheus (2014)

Total running time: 2:01:21

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 036

 

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Mars Red Sky Premiere “The Light Beyond” from Stranded in Arcadia

Posted in audiObelisk on April 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Among the highlights of 2014 so far, Mars Red Sky‘s Stranded in Arcadia (review here) is out next week in Europe on Listenable Records (June 10 in North America). The album is the second from the Bordeaux trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz (his first), and it was put to tape in Brazil late last year after plans to tour the West Coast of the US and record in the California desert were undone by American visa troubles. Presumably the TSA saw Kinast‘s beard and assumed he was a terrorist, but I don’t know that for sure.

Either way, listening to Stranded in Arcadia – as I can’t seem to stop doing — the three-piece leaves little doubt that they made the most of their situation. Like their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and subsequent 2013 EP, Be My Guide (review here), there’s a humility in the sweet melodies that complement the huge fuzz riffs of songs like “Hovering Satellites” and “Seen a Ghost,” but as opener and longest cut at just over eight minutes “The Light Beyond” shows, Mars Red Sky have greatly expanded their sound to include more psychedelic atmospheres. Production-wise, Stranded in Arcadia unfolds gracefully into a sprawl the largesse of which not only serves to make the tones come across thick and/or echoing, but also to provide the landscape in which the next stage of the band’s songwriting can develop, coming into focus like an old Polaroid photo as “The Light Beyond” bursts to wah-soaked life from its soft, ambient intro.

Like “Join the Race,” “Seen a Ghost,” and the more swaggering “Circles,” “The Light Beyond” is a highlight of Stranded in Arcadia, but for anyone who heard the first record or its follow-up EP, the song also offers firm evidence of how Mars Red Sky have grown in the last couple years. More than that, it’s the kind of track that feels like it’s swallowing you whole as it eases between its verses and jammed-out vibing. Taking both into consideration, there was no way I wasn’t going to stream it when the opportunity arose.

Find and enjoy “The Light Beyond” on the player below, followed by info about Mars Red Sky‘s special May 15 release show in Bordeaux and other tour dates:

Into The Mars Red Sound » may 15th in Bordeaux!

On the occasion of the release of their new album ”Stranded In Arcadia” in Europe on April 28th, MARS RED SKY announced a release party in their hometown Bordeaux on May 15th. The band will perform a classic live set alongside Russian rockers The Grand Astoria, as well as an experimental video and sound creation featuring Julia Al Abed.

Mars Red Sky on tour:

04.26.14 – SAINTES (Fr) Coconut Party
05.06.14 – ESCH SUR ALZETTE (Lux) Rockhal ***
05.07.14 – LAUSANNE (Swz) Les Docks *** w/ Detroit
05.08.14 – AMIENS (Fr) Le Cirque Jules Verne ***
05.15.14 – BORDEAUX (Fr) Barbey, Release Party “Into The Mars Red Sound”
05.17.14 – ANGOULÊME (Fr) La Nef
06.01.14 – PARIS (Fr) La Cigale ***
06.20.14 – CLISSON (Fr) HELLFEST OPEN AIR
06.26.14 – SALLES-ABRUISSANNAS (Fr) Willstock Festival
06.27.14 – VIC LE COMTE (Fr) Festival Alambic
06.28.14 – ÉVREUX (Fr) Le Rock Dans Tous Ses États Festival
07.11.14 – ERFURT (Ger) STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND FESTIVAL
10.02.14 – PARIS (Fr) La Maroquinerie

Preorder Stranded in Arcadia at Listenable Records

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records

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Mars Red Sky Announce Stranded in Arcadia Release Show

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The North American release date for Mars Red Sky‘s stellar sophomore full-length, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), is June 10. In Europe, it’s out April 28. I guess in setting up their release show, the French fuzz trio decided to split the difference. On May 15, they’ll play their native Bordeaux on a bill that includes Russian progressive heavy rockers The Grand Astoria as openers and a live video/audio collaboration with Julia Al Abed. It’s an evening they’ve billed as “Into the Mars Red Sound.”

As one would have to imagine, there’s a video teaser that gives a closer look at the event, and you can find that below, included for the double reason that it also provides an audio sample of opener “The Light Beyond” from Stranded in Arcadia, which is easily among the best albums I’ve heard thus far into 2014, with a sound that builds on the rolling fuzz of Mars Red Sky‘s first album and furthers a lush heavy psychedelia without sacrificing the humanity at the core of their approach. No easy feat — they just make it sound that way.

Dig it:

Into The Mars Red Sound » may 15th in Bordeaux!

New Album : April 28th for Europe & June 10th for North America.

On the occasion of the release of their new album ”Stranded In Arcadia” in Europe on April 28th, MARS RED SKY announced a release party in their hometown Bordeaux on May 15th. The band will perform a classic live set alongside Russian rockers The Grand Astoria, as well as an experimental video and sound creation featuring Julia Al Abed.

Infos and presales available here :
http://www.rockschool-barbey.com/conc…

Music : Julia Al Abed (fields recording) / Mars Red Sky : “The Light Beyond” From the album “Stranded in Arcadia” (Listenable Records) Recorded and mixed by Gabriel Zander in Rio de Janeiro.

Teaser : Colin Manierka

https://www.facebook.com/events/1420580848195545/
http://www.facebook.com/marsredsky
https://twitter.com/#!/marsRedSky1
http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com
https://marsredsky.net
http://www.listenable.net/

Mars Red Sky, “Into the Mars Red Sound” teaser

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Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia: Light in Orbit

Posted in Reviews on March 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There can be little question that Stranded in Arcadia is not the album that Mars Red Sky set out to make, or at very least that it wasn’t made under the intended conditions. The best laid plan of the forerunning French heavy psych rockers was to do a week of shows in South America before heading north to the California desert to track their second full-length and Listenable Records debut, but the usual visa issues (what my country has against importing quality guitar tone, I’ll never know) kept them in Rio de Janeiro for that week instead, and rather than go home without a record done, they hit Estúdio Superfuzz to put to tape with Gabriel Zander what eventually became the eight-song/45-minute long-player that takes its title from the circumstances of its creation. Stranded in Arcadia sounds better in any case than “stuck in Rio” would have, and speaking as someone who’s become a fan of the band since the 2011 release of their self-titled debut (review here), it’s hard to argue with the results in the finished product. Even from last year’s Be My Guide EP (review here), Stranded in Arcadia marks audible progress in the psychedelic, airy feel from guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz, who makes his proper debut here after first appearing on part of the shorter 2013 release.

What has made Mars Red Sky such an utter joy on the ears to this point has been the smoothness with which they tie that heavy psychedelia to both a melodic sweetness and a huge-tone desert rock groove. Listening to Stranded in Arcadia tracks like “Hovering Satellites” the later “Seen a Ghost” and the ultra-swinging “Holy Mondays,” on which Kinast joins Pras for vocals in the verse only to take the lead for the chorus — something also done on the self-titled’s “Marble Sky,” but achieved more confidently here — I’m glad to find these elements are enhanced if anything, and that while there’s more impact to the tones and the notes seem to land with more of a thud than the prior LP or EP, that comes at no sacrifice of melody. Indeed, on “Join the Race,” Mars Red Sky are their most unabashedly blissful yet, tapping a psych-era Beatles influence for one of Stranded in Arcadia‘s most effective hooks. Those are not in short supply, incidentally. Where the self-titled nestled into the rolling grooves of “Way to Rome,” “Strong Reflection” and the extra dreamy “Up the Stairs,” the second outing seems to build on these accomplishments with the expansive but efficient craft of “Circles,” “Join the Race” and opener and longest track at 8:04 (immediate points) “The Light Beyond,” which explodes from an initial far-off guitar line into otherworldly vocals and elephantine plod, only then to unfold the first of Stranded in Arcadia‘s highlight choruses in tones more weighted but no less patient than one could hope given the band’s work up to this point.

If I seem locked into comparing Stranded in Arcadia with its predecessor releases from Mars Red Sky, perhaps that’s because there’s so little else one might relate in terms of the band’s methods. Mars Red Sky have very quickly, very masterfully become a singular act within heavy psych, and quite frankly there’s nobody else so able to maintain their balance of lush melody, tonal heft, jammy sensibility, memorable songwriting and unmistakable groove. That Stranded in Arcadia held firm to these is triumph enough, but to hear “Hovering Satellites” kick in with Matgaz‘s double-bass drumming and send its quicker roll headfirst into the wide-open chorus easily positions the album among the most satisfying I’ve heard thus far into 2014. An already fervent appreciation deepens as “Hovering Satellites” moves into a wah-soaked guitar-led jam, only to have the instruments drop out as Pras begins a return to the chorus with just his echoing vocals, setting up a build that will play out over the remaining 90-plus seconds. “Holy Mondays” is the shortest of the actual songs here — closer “Beyond the Light” is a two-and-a-half-minute reprieve of “The Light Beyond” — but solidifies around the dually-delivered singing of Kinast and Pras to set in stone a specific point of progression on the part of the band and one I hope they continue to develop going forward, Kinast‘s lower register approach meshing well with Pras‘ higher range, which gets further showcase  on the aforementioned chorus of “Join the Race,” which follows.

Read more »

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Mars Red Sky Sign to Listenable Records; New Album Due in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There wasn’t really any doubt that Mars Red Sky, who toured the world more or less as an independent band, were going to end up on some label, just a question of which and when. Those questions have been answered by the announcement this morning that the Bordeaux trio have inked a deal with Listenable Records in time to have their second full-length out in April, preceded by a limited 7″ with exclusive material. Good news all around, and most importantly, it gets the album here sooner than later. Should make for a good spring soundtrack.

O! PR wire! Sing unto me of fuzz and laid back groovy rock and roll!

MARS RED SKY sign to Listenable Records; new album released this Spring.

France’s stoner rock emblematic trio MARS RED SKY just inked a deal with European record label Listenable Records, on which the band will release its brand new full-length as well as a 7’’ EP, both set for release this spring.

Considered as one of the greats of the European stoner rock scene, France based MARS RED SKY have gained international recognition thanks to a unique sound imprint based on thick infectious grooves and melodic aerial guitar riffs. This is truly a one of a kind experience, wrapped up by Julien Pras’ ethereal vocals, Matgaz’ powerful rhythms and Jimmy Kinast’s pachydermic bass lines. Somewhere between doom metal and 70’s psyche pop, the Mars Red Sound intrigues to begin with, after which it irremediably attracts the masses to celebrate this cosmic ritual of solar burning fuzz and reverberated atmospheres.

Driven by the huge success of their eponymous debut record, which was recorded in Spain’s mystic Bardenas desert and released in 2011, the Bordelais were quickly invited to play on the largest European stages with Kyuss Lives!, Dinosaur Jr, Sleep, and popular festivals such as Eurockéennes de Belfort (Fr), Roadburn (NL), London and Berlin Desertfest, Sziget Festival (Hun), SXSW (USA), leading them to play in more than 20 countries.

With their incredibly heavy and hypnotic performances, MARS RED SKY have been considered as one of the most thrilling live acts among the international stoner rock scene. In 2012, they paired up with French doom metal monsters Year Of No Light to release a 3-track split record, which sold out in a blink of an eye.

The release of their EP “Be My Guide” in the spring of 2013 prophetically opened the path for an extensive tour across Europe, then across the Atlantic Ocean for a few exciting gigs in Latin America, where they recorded their new album, due out in April 2014 on LISTENABLE RECORDS (Ghost, Gojira, Behemoth…).

A limited edition 7” EP containing exclusive material will be released in March, more details coming shortly.

MARS RED SKY upcoming tour dates:

Feb. 05 – La Roche Sur Yon, Le Fuzz Yon (Fr)
Feb. 27 – Larissa, Stage Club (Greece)
Feb. 28 – Thessaloniki, Eightball Club (Greece)
Mar. 01 – Athens, Six D.O.G.S (Greece)
Mar. 21 – La Teste de Buch, Le Zik Zak (Fr)
Jun. 20 – Clisson, Hellfest Open Air (Fr)

http://www.marsredsky.bigcartel.com/
http://marsredsky.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband
http://www.listenable.net/

Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide (2013)

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums

Posted in Features on January 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Getting ready to type this list is like standing on the precipice of a canyon. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea. Last year was an all-out assault of music. I couldn’t have heard it all even if I’d wanted to, and while it’ll probably be June before I feel like I’m sufficiently caught up on 2013, the new-car-smelling rush of 2014 is already underway.

And the only thing to do is press on — though I’ve tried on several occasions, I can’t seem to stop time and review everything that I’m fortunate enough to encounter — and that means glancing ahead to what’s coming in 2014. I know I said so before, but once again, Happy New Year.

One of my favorite things to do is to look forward to a new album. I consider it a sign of the endurance of the human spirit not only that new creative works are being completed and distributed at such a constant rate, but that we can still anticipate the resonance of those works upon their arrival. I don’t mind telling you this is the largest of any such list I’ve ever written for this site. Even as I start it, I’m finding more to add, and I’m sure when it’s done it won’t be complete. So it goes.

There’s more to say, but I’ve delayed enough. We’ll go alphabetically, which is only unfortunate because it puts YOB last. Thanks in advance for reading.

 

1. Acid King, TBA

We start the same place we started in 2013, with Acid King. The San Francisco giants have sworn up and down they’ll have a new record out this year, and while I’ve yet to see any solid word of its coming manifest, I remain hopeful that it happens. Of course, that was also pretty much the case going into 2013, but they toured Europe last fall and even came out to the East Coast for a show and played some new material (review here), so if it’s to be that III finally gets a follow-up some nine years later, it’s worth keeping an eye out ahead of time. Acid King on Thee Facebooks.

 

2. Alcest, Shelter

To be released this coming week on Prophecy Productions, the fourth Alcest full-length, Shelter (review here), is billed as a major sonic turn away from the France-based outfit’s black metal influences toward brighter sonic fare. It is that, but the nostalgic melodies and crucial emotionality that has always been the root of Alcest’s sound remains intact. It will be interesting to see what the response is upon its release, but Shelter is an early point of fascination for 2014. Alcest on Thee Facebooks.

 

3. All Them Witches, TBA


I’m not sure what they’re doing in the studio, if it’s a single, an EP or a full-length album, but this past weekend, on Jan. 11, Nashville heavy psych rockers All Them Witches posted the above picture with the simple tagline “Recording.” Fair enough. It seems soon for them to have another LP after 2013’s excellent Lightning at the Door (discussed here), but that album seemed to arrive soon after 2012’s Our Mother Electricity (reissued by Elektrohasch in 2013; review here), so who knows? It’ll be fun to find out either way. All Them Witches on Bandcamp.

 

4. Alunah, TBA

UK doomers Alunah will make their debut on Napalm Records with yet-untitled third album. With wider distribution at their disposal than that received by their 2012 outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alunah really leave a mark on 2014, but more fascinating to me than how many people get to hear it is how the band — who’ve swapped out bassists since their last outing — will follow-up the tremendously memorable songs on White Hoarhound. No doubt they can do it, it’s just hard not to be impatient. Alunah on Thee Facebooks.

 

5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance

I was fortunate enough to be invited down to Amps vs. Ohms in Boston when Blackwolfgoat (aka Darryl Shepard, also of Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, ex-Hackman, Roadsaw, etc. and a new project I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about yet) was tracking the follow-up to 2011’s Dronolith, which was released on this site’s in-house label, The Maple Forum. Raw tracks can sometimes prove to tell little about the finished product of an album, but each piece on Drone Maintenance that I heard had a distinct atmosphere, and “Cyclopean Utopia” was heavy enough on its own to warrant inclusion here. Rumor also has it that Black Pyramid offshoot The Scimitar will release a studio debut this year. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp.

 

6. Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley

Holding the promise of over 90 minutes of live-recorded material from the 2013 Freak Valley festival in Germany, Causa Sui‘s Live at Freak Valley will see release through the band’s own El Paraiso Records and should provide further insight as a companion piece to their 2013 studio full-length, Euporie Tide. As that album boasted such an engaging live and progressive feel, successfully meshing desert and krautrock influences, I’d expect no less from the live outing, which though they’ve put out studio jams before — their three-volume 2008-2009 Summer Sessions is a joy worthy of the season — is their first official concert recording. El Paraiso Records website.

 

7. Conan, Blood Eagle

Six devastating tracks that both continue Conan‘s sonic dominance and usher in a new era for the band. Not only is their second full-length, Blood Eagle, their debut on Napalm Records, but it’s also the first Conan LP to be recorded at Skyhammer Studios, which was built and is owned by guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis. Producer Chris Fielding worked with the band previously on 2012’s Monnos (review here) and 2010’s Horseback Battle Hammer EP (review here), and Blood Eagle benefits from that now familiar collaboration, bridging the gap between the faster, catchy sides of Monnos and the complementing ultra-plod of its longer tracks. Album opener “Crown of Talons” also ranks among the heaviest things they’ve ever done, and “Foehammer” takes it’s name from Gandalf’s sword, Glamdring, so I don’t know what more you could ever ask of a full-length than that. Conan on Thee Facebooks.

 

8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited

With the addition of bassist Corey Dozier to the rhythm section with drummer Jason Prushko, Brooklynite doom-funk stompers Eggnogg have been able to move vocalist Bill O’Sullivan to guitar from bass, giving Justin Karol a chance to act all the more as a lead player. How this new four-piece dynamic might play out on You’re all Invited — or even if Dozier played on it — remains to be seen, but from what I’ve caught live, it’s turned them into a thicker, fuller-sounding band, and on new material and old, Eggnogg are coming into their own. They’re still a better band than they know, and one hopes they can get some road time in as well as release the LP to continue to refine their approach. Eggnogg on Thee Facebooks.

 

9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013

Granted it’s been available through Burning World Records digitally since last November, but Elder‘s Live at Roadburn 2013 is set for physical issue early this year through the label, and having stood in front of the stage to witness the set myself at Het Patronaat in Tilburg and then seen the line running outside the venue and down the block, I can tell you it’s a beast. Put it on vinyl with cover art by Adrian Dexter and maybe a photo or two by yours truly and you’ve got a good way to get a preview for what their sets at the two Desertfests might hold this year. Elder on Thee Facebooks.

 

10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA

Speaking of Roadburn, emotive UK doomers 40 Watt Sun are set to make a return appearance at the fabled fest in the Netherlands, and the word was they’d do so with material from the follow-up to their 2011 Metal Blade debut, The Inside Room (review here), which established the band, led by guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (Warning), as a deeply affecting act with a rich sonic texture. No word of an exact release date for the sophomore effort yet, but one expects it will receive no shortage of fanfare prior to and upon its arrival. 40 Watt Sun on Thee Facebooks.

 

11. The Golden Grass, TBA

Brooklyn trio The Golden GrassOne More Time b/w Tornado debut single was one of the best short releases of 2013, and the sunshiny classic heavy rockers will look to follow it with a first long-player this year. Recording is completed — the tracking was helmed by Andréa Zavareei, who also did the 7″ — and so is mixing, done by Jeff Berner (Naam, etc.), so with mastering in progress, hopefully it’s not too long before The Golden Grass can offer a right-on cure for wintry blues. It will be interesting to hear how they sustain and work within their positive vibes over the course of a complete LP. The Golden Grass on Thee Facebooks.

 

12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

Trails and Passes will be Greenleaf‘s first outing since 2003’s Secret Alphabets not to be fronted by Oskar Cedermalm (also of Truckfighters) and also finds the Swedish unit both with a new drummer (hello, Sebastian Olsson) and down from two guitars to one. It was five years between their third album, 2007’s Agents of Ahriman and 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here), so with a quicker turnaround and a stripped-down songwriting approach that seems geared more toward a live-sounding heavy rock presentation, Greenleaf could easily be positioning themselves as a full(er)-time touring act. The more the merrier. Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks.

 

13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren

UK power trio Grifter surprised some with the quality of songwriting on their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), the lacking pretense of which was in proportion to its classic heavy rock influence, but The Return of the Bearded Brethren, which is set to release on Ripple Music, won’t have the advantage of sneaking up. If they’re throwing down a gauntlet, the confrontational pose of the shirtless tattooed beardo on their LP cover would seem to indicate it’s a considerable one indeed, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Grifter made following up on their self-titled sound as easy as they made infectious hooks sound the last time out. Grifter on Thee Facebooks.

 

14. Hull, TBA

Down from a five-piece to a foursome after having lost one of their three guitars since the release of 2011’s stellar second LP, Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here), 2014 marks an interesting point for singular Brooklyn post-thrashers Hull. With a Roadburn appearance slated and a limited vinyl reissue of their 2007 Viking Funeral debut EP in hand, they’ll look to bring their conceptual songwriting into a new presentational arc, and while that’s a fascinating prospect, I’m also looking forward to their new album because it promises to be heavy as fuck whenever it happens to arrive, hopefully by the end of the year. Hull on Thee Facebooks.

 

15. Lowrider, TBA

Were this list numbered in anticipatory rather than alphabetical order, Lowrider would be much closer to the top than lucky number 13. The Swedish four-piece will be recording their first outing since 2000’s genre-landmark Ode to Io this year after reuniting on stage at Desertfest 2013 — they’ll return to London next month with Dozer — and while I don’t know if it’ll be out by the time 2014 is done, I do know that the sheer prospect of a new Lowrider makes this year much better than it would be otherwise. I already invited myself to Sweden for an in-studio. More to come. Lowrider on Thee Facebooks.

 

16. The Machine, TBA

A couple weeks back, Dutch heavy psych rockers The Machine — whose split with now-defunct countrymen Sungrazer (review here) was my favorite short release last year — held a poll on their Thee Facebooks page to name their upcoming fifth album, which will follow 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here) on Elektrohasch. My suggestion? Come to Light. It has the advantage of sounding psychedelic with an undertone of enlightenment to speak to the band’s continuing progression and it keeps with the prior album in being a reference to The Big Lebowski. No word on whether or not they’ll use it, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. The Machine’s website.

 

17. Mars Red Sky, TBA

Currently in the mixing stage, the second Mars Red Sky long-player will arrive on the heels of 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) and the Bordeaux fuzz trio’s self-titled 2011 debut (review here) and a host of tours and festival appearances. While their plans to record in the California desert reportedly didn’t pan out, the trio put much of the album to tape over the course of a week in Brazil following dates in South America, so it should boast plenty of sunshine either way. The album is due for release in April — a pro-shot live video of the new song “Satellites” was recently unveiled — and Mars Red Sky will also play at Hellfest in their native France in June. Mars Red Sky on Bandcamp.

 

18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

The Washington trio’s first album for Listenable Records and their second since picking back up after several years of inactivity while guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed concentrated on Stone Axe, Electric Mountain Majesty is done and mastered as of Jan. 5. Recorded by Reed himself, it will follow a pair of live outings in 2013 (reviews here and here) and 2012’s infectious return, Nomads (review here). I am fully prepared to have these songs stuck in my head for most of 2014, so bring it on. A March release has been floated, which would come ahead of an appearance at Freak Valley in late May. Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks.

 

19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension Now

Triumphantly creative Finnish cosmic doomers Mr. Peter Hayden will complete a trilogy with Archdimension Now that began with 2010’s Faster than Speed (review here) and 2012’s single-song 68-minute LP, Born a Trip (review here). Crushing tones and a formidable scope don’t seem like unreasonable expectations, though what really interests me is how the Satakunta five-piece will expand on the sound of their last album, which still seems to reveal something new each time I put it on. Their new single “We Fly High,” was streamed here recently and bodes well. Mr. Peter Hayden on Bandcamp.

 

20. Pallbearer, TBA

Pallbearer have toured hard since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), hit a nerve with doomers across the globe, and the four-piece from Arkansas are set to begin recording their next LP (presumably) for Profound Lore in February. If that puts a release for sometime in late Spring/early Summer, I would imagine it will come coupled with no shortage of live dates, since the band seems most at home on tour. Should be intriguing to have a document of how all that stage time has manifested in solidifying and adding confidence to their approach, and this is another one preceded by much anticipation. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks.

 

21. Papir, IIII

It would seem I have some purchases to make in order to catch up with Danish heavy psych jammers Papir. Aside from their recent collaboration with Electric Moon, the upcoming IIII will sure enough be their fourth album. Available now to preorder through El Paraiso Records, it is a vinyl-ready 47 minutes of smoothly shifting transitions between lush atmospherics and driving fuzz-heavy rock, ready to stand in line with progressive European instrumentalists like 35007, My Sleeping Karma and indeed their label honchos, Causa Sui. I had caught wind of 2013’s III previously, but deeper back catalog investigation is definitely warranted. Papir on Thee Facebooks.

 

22. Pilgrim, TBA

Just before they left to tour Europe with Windhand, Providence, Rhode Island, doomers Pilgrim recorded their sophomore full-length at Moonlight Mile Recording in scenic Jersey City, NJ. After the huge response garnered — and, I should say, earned — by their 2012 debut, Misery Wizard, the band jumped from Alan Averill of Primordial‘s Metal Blade imprint, Poison Tongue Records, to Metal Blade proper for the new one, which along with Pallbearer, 40 Watt Sun, Serpent Venom and The Wounded Kings (and no doubt others) makes a prospect for a thoroughly doomed 2014. So be it. Pilgrim on Thee Facebooks.

 

23. Radio Moscow, TBA

As I type these words, heavy rockers Radio Moscow are mixing their yet-untitled fourth album (fifth if you count 2012’s 3 & 3 Quarters, which was comprised of early unreleased material) at Big Fish Recording in Encinitas, CA. Details on the release are sketchy at best at this point, and by that I mean nil, but at least there’s progress being made, and since it’s still January, it seems entirely likely the album will surface one way or another in the next 11 months, barring disaster. The bombastic blues jammers led by Parker Griggs toured Europe last fall and rumor is there’s a run in the works for the US at the end of February into March. Radio Moscow on Thee Facebooks.

 

24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today

What’s not to like about a new Sigiriya album? The UK four-piece premiered “Tribe of the Old Oak” from Darkness Died Today here last month, and in addition to the considerable pipes of new vocalist Matt Williams, the track showcased a somewhat moodier psychedelic vibe from the band, who continue to distance themselves from Acrimony, of which bassist Paul Bidmead, guitarist Stuart O’Hara and drummer Darren Ivey were members, while also exploring new avenues from those of Sigiriya‘s debut, 2011’s Return to Earth (review here). I haven’t heard the whole thing yet, but they set a high standard last time. Sigiriya on Thee Facebooks.

 

25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA

Reason to Live, was released by Spitfire Records (remember them?) in… wait for it… 2002. Some 12 years ago. Now, these dudes have been kicking around in other bands since Sixty Watt Shaman sort of melted away in the manner that underrated bands often unfortunately do, but with the announcement of their appearances this year at Desertfest (info here) in April and The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 in May (info here) came word of a new studio release. EP or LP unknown at present. As killer as Reason to Live was, it just doesn’t seem fair to expect Sixty Watt Shaman to be the same band they were more than a decade ago. As such, I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m keen to find out. Sixty Watt Shaman on Thee Facebooks.

 

26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos

The 2011 debut from upstart Swedish heavy-hitters Skraeckoedlan, titled Äppelträdet (review here), was recorded by Oskar Cedermalm of Truckfighters and had much of that band’s fuzzy compression in blend with their own Mastodon-ic plod. It was a combination that worked so well I thought for sure the young outfit would return to Studio Bombshelter for their next outing, but no dice. As a result, I’m not sure what to expect from Gigantos, but I dug what I heard in a recent live video from them, so we’ll see how it turns out when the LP is done and I’m not about to judge either way until then. Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks.

 

27. The Skull, TBA

I have no interest in downplaying any of the original members of Trouble‘s contributions to that legendary Chicago doom band (nor the work they’re doing now or those contributing to it), but there can be no question that Eric Wagner‘s voice is a signature element, and right now, that’s something The Skull has over the outfit from whence they sprang. Add to that Ron Holzner‘s bass and Jeff “Oly” Olson‘s drums and you’re well on your way to some foundational heavy. Among the best signs is that The Skull were recording with Billy Anderson (Sleep, the Melvins, Acid King, etc.), who obviously knows his shit and is likely to capture their sound as it should be: Completely doomed. Also keep an eye out for Wagner‘s side-project, Blackfinger, who have an LP coming. The Skull on Thee Facebooks.

 

28. Sleep, TBA

This would be the mother of them all, I guess. A new Sleep album. In addition to hinting at new studio outings by his own three-piece Om and Matt Pike‘s High on Fire, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros let it slip casual-style in an interview somewhere that Sleep were working on new material, thus snapping my Thee Facebooks feed in half. Fair enough. Working on material doesn’t mean we’ll see a record this year, or at all, but obviously if there’s a chance a new album might happen (I’ve been nerding out about the idea for a while; see here and here), it would be proof of justice in the universe. Seems an obvious thing that Billy Anderson would record this as well, and all the better. Can the Sons of Sabbath prove there’s life after Dopesmoker? For now, only the Antarcticans know. Sleep’s website.

 

29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance

Slated for release through Metal Blade — they’re taking preorders — what if I’m not mistaken is the 32nd Slough Feg LP is due on Feb. 18. As much as I’m looking forward to the release of the record itself, having very, very much enjoyed 2010’s The Animal Spirits (review here), I’m even more interested to see if I finally get up the gumption to interview guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi. Something about a dude who doubles as a philosophy professor and who’s been putting out records in his band since I was nine and long before anyone gave a shit I’ve always found intimidating. We’ll see if I’m up to it this year. @Slough_Feg.

 

30. Snail, Feral

Last summer, West Coast riffers Snail announced the departure of guitarist Eric Clausen, which means that their fourth outing, Feral, will be their first as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson since their 1993 self-titled debut full-length (reissue review here). Should be interesting to see how the shift to their original lineup changes the tenor of Feral as opposed to their two albums with Clausen, 2009’s comebacker Blood (review here) and 2012’s Terminus (review here), but as the first audio from the record begins to surface, Snail‘s sound seems to still very much have its core intact. Terminus brought in something of a rawer heavy metal influence coming off the languid, dreamy Blood, but as they’ve been back together now for going on half a decade, no doubt a few more twists are in store. Snail on Thee Facebooks.

 

31. Steak, TBA

Quickly emerging at the fore of London’s enviable up and coming heavy rock scene — and, in the case of guitarist Reece Tee, helping shape it as one of the architects of DesertfestSteak are set to debut this year on Napalm Records with what will be their first full-length following two EPs, 2012’s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013’s Corned Beef Colossus (review here). They’ve put in time on tour — they’ll play in Spain with Monster Magnet and in London with Lowrider and Dozer in February — and seem to be ready to take the next step in releasing an album, and after the conceptual elements of both EPs, I’m eager to see where the next chapter of their story goes. Steak on Bandcamp.

 

32. Stubb, TBA

Tracking is to begin a few weeks from now for Stubb‘s second album at Jon Davis of Conan‘s Skyhammer Studios. After the release of their 2013 single, Under a Spell (review here), and the departure of drummer Chris West, guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland acquired Tom Fyfe to fill the position, and subsequently found a label home on Ripple Music. It’ll be a different Stubb than they were on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), but the fuzz runs strong in them however the changes might manifest in the finished product from the studio, and I can’t even think of “Under a Spell” without hearing the chorus in my head, so yeah, I’m on board. Stubb on Thee Facebooks.

 

33. SunnO))) & Ulver,Terrestrials

A collaboration between drone lords SunnO))) and Norwegian post-black metal progenitors Ulver probably isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to make you crush a beer can on your forehead and call your bros to come over and check it out (actually, I don’t know what kind of music does that, but it probably sucks), but Terrestrials has the potential to be one of 2014’s most unique releases all the same. After Ulver‘s delving into orchestral minimalism on 2013’s Messe I-IX, it’s really anyone’s best guess what this will sound like when it comes out on Feb. 4. SunnO))) explored some cinematic ground with 2009’s Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), but still, to speculate seems like setting myself up to be a fool later. Southern Lord Recordings website.

 

34. Tombs, Savage Gold

For their third album for Relapse, Brooklyn three-turned-four-piece Tombs headed south to Florida to record with Hate Eternal‘s Erik Rutan. If vague Thee Facebook posts are anything to go by, the resulting LP is 57:18 and titled Savage Gold. I’m not sure when it’ll be out, but as the follow-up to 2011’s widely and loudly lauded Path of Totality, whatever it’s called and whenever the new Tombs shows up, chances are it’s going to receive as much extremity as it doles out. Tombs on Thee Facebooks.

 

35. Triptykon, Melana Chasmata

Heirs to the black, shiny and probably spiky throne of Celtic Frost, ultra-dark metallers Triptykon will answer 2010’s Eparistera Daimones (review here) with Melana Chasmata, which though it’s somewhat easier to type is no doubt even more gleefully excruciating a listen. As with the debut, they’ll mark the release with an appearance at Roadburn (info here). No audio has surfaced yet, but with a release date set for April 24, that can’t be too far off. Will Tom G. Warrior push Triptykon further away from their Celtic Frost lineage? I don’t know, but if there’s beauty in darkness, he’s the one to find it. Triptykon on Thee Facebooks.

 

36. Truckfighters, Universe

Feb. 4 is the stated release date for Universe (review here), the fourth album from Örebro fuzzdudes Truckfighters. The Swedish three-piece explore ground that at the same time is more emotionally complex than their last outing, 2009’s Mania (review here), and also more straightforward in the songwriting, resulting in a collection of tracks not necessarily as upbeat as some of what they’ve done in the past, but ultimately working toward a different kind of realization. No doubt hard touring will follow throughout the rest of this year, so if you want to catch Truckfighters, you’re likely to get your chance. Truckfighters on Thee Facebooks.

 

37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk

Like Truckfighters, Midwestern heavy rockers Valley of the Sun will issue their new album, the somewhat cumbersomely-titled Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk on Fuzzorama Records, and the two acts are slated to tour together in Europe from Feb. 8 through March 14 ahead of Valley of the Sun‘s April 1 release date. If you contributed to their crowdfunding campaign, you might already have a copy of Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk on vinyl, but either way, the official release is worthy of note, particularly for as much growth as the full-length (their debut) shows from 2011’s already-impressive The Sayings of the Seers (review here). Valley of the Sun on Thee Facebooks.

 

38. Weedeater, TBA

Not certain how to tell you this, but I’m not sure we’re going to see a new Weedeater album this year. Between the North Carolina sludgers’ busy tour schedule and Season of Mist reissuing their other four albums, it seems like an awful lot for Weedeater to then also write and record a follow-up to 2011’s Jason… the Dragon (review here). I’m not saying it can’t be done — hell, for all I know they’ve finished writing and the studio is booked — but if a new Weedeater arrives, although it was mentioned with their West Coast tour dates that start this week, right now it seems like it would be later in 2014 or maybe early 2015 by the time it gets here. Hey, I could be wrong. I’d prefer it that way. Weedeater on Thee Facebooks.

 

39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA

They put out BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini last year as a kind of holdover release, but last month brought news of new songs for 2014, which would be Wolves in the Throne Room‘s first since Celestial Lineage in 2011. They toured their heaviest yet that record, so a bit of a break wasn’t necessarily out of order, but for an act who inspire the kind of loyalty that Wolves in the Throne Room do, three years can be a long time. Not much by way of specifics on the new release, whether it’s a full-length or not, when they might record, where, or when it might surface, but we know they’ve got new material, and that’s a step. Wolves in the Throne Room’s website.

 

40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum

Due Feb. 24 on Candlelight, Consolamentum is the fourth long-player in the tumultuous career of British progressive doomers The Wounded Kings, who despite a seemingly endless series of lineup shifts have managed to release their four albums in a span of six years. With guitarist/founder Steve Mills at the core and the eerie but powerful vocals of Sharie Neyland over top, The Wounded Kings have tapped into a doom quick to separate itself from the pack, and Consolamentum conjures some of their most oppressive atmospherics yet, with expansive cuts like “Gnosis” and “The Silence” fed into by ambient passages and interludes. The Wounded Kings on Thee Facebooks.

 

41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You

Desert legends Yawning Man released a split with Fatso Jetson in 2013 — only appropriate, since the two acts share Mario Lalli — but Gravity is Good for You, like whatever Acid King might have in store, is a holdover from last year’s list. Guitarist Gary Arce of the long-running and hugely influential instrumental jammers has reportedly been in the studio with Lalli and Third Ear Experience drummer Erik Mouness (video surfaced), but there’s yet to be concrete word on when Gravity is Good for You, reportedly a double album and the band’s follow-up to 2010’s Nomadic Pursuits (review here), might be finished. Got my fingers crossed it’s this year. Yawning Man on Thee Facebooks.

 

42. YOB, TBA

Feels like a terribly long way to go only to get to one of the albums I’m most looking forward to hearing, but the alphabet works in mysterious ways sometimes. On Jan. 7, Eugene, Oregon, überdoomers YOB posted the following on their Thee Facebooks: “Had an amazing YOB practice. The new songs are fully in focus. 2 mega DOOM bludgeoners, one “faster” song, and the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written to close. 4 songs, 55 minutes.” Last I heard, they were to begin recording for their seventh (man, time flies) LP this week with a release in the months to follow, and since YOB haven’t put out an album since 2004 that I didn’t pick it as my Album of the Year, you can bet your ass I’m looking forward to what they do next. Particularly that part about “the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written.” Sold. YOB on Thee Facebooks.

Others to keep an eye on, some mentioned above, some not:

Ararat, III (Another 2013 holdover)
The Atlas Moth, The Old Believer (Out in June)
Brant Bjork, Jakoozi
Blackfinger, Blackfinger
Godhunter, City of Dust
Ice Dragon (Some older releases are being physically pressed and new stuff is never far off)
King Buffalo (Their demo ruled)
King Dead (First audio just surfacing, but holds promise)
Lo-Pan (Been a while in the making at this point, hopefully 2014)
Pet the Preacher, The Cave and the Sunlight
The Proselyte (EP coming on Gypsyblood Records)
Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean
Saint Vitus (Began writing last Fall)
Salem’s Pot, Lurar ut dig på prärien
The Scimitar (Debut from Black Pyramid offshoot)
Seedy Jeezus (Recording in Australia now with Tony Reed)
Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen
Spirit Caravan (Nothing announced but you never know)
Various Artists, Songs of Townes Van Zandt Pt. II
Wino & Conny Ochs (Maybe, maybe not)
The Wisdoom, Hypothalamus
Wo Fat (New album recorded)

I’m quite positive that the first thing to happen after this is posted is that someone will chime in with something I forgot. At least I hope that’s what happens. As large as this list has turned out to be (much, much larger than I thought it would be when I started taking notes for it), there’s no way it could cover everything, and I hope if there’s an upcoming release in particular that you’re looking forward to, you’ll please let me know in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading and for all of your support. Here’s to an amazing 2014.

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Mars Red Sky Announce New Album Release for April; Touring Spain and Greece

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster


When it’s released in April, I’ll be even more interested to hear how Mars Red Sky‘s second album has turned out. The French inner-peace-through-fuzz-tone gurus were set to record the follow-up to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) in the Californian desert to coincide with a West Coast tour following a run last fall in South America. It would seem the Dept. of Homeland Security had other ideas.

As I understand it, Mars Red Sky wound up spending a week in Rio de Janeiro (clearly a hardship, judging by the photo above) and did some work at Estúdio Superfuzz with Gabriel Zander before returning to France and presumably finishing it there. Not at all what they had planned, and though it seems to have worked out, I can’t imagine it wasn’t viciously frustrating at the time. Another heavy band falls victim to the fascist American security state.

To lead the way for the new record, the title of which has yet to be revealed, Mars Red Sky will issue a 7″ with a studio version of the track “Satellites,” which you can hear live below, coupled with an instrumental captured at Desertfest 2013 in London. I remember that. It was awesome.

They’ve also got some tour dates lined up for Spain and Greece, but here’s just a sliver of news about what’s easily one of my most anticipated records for this year:

New album for us in April and a first 7′ for march (including this song called “Satellites” in a studio version + an instrumental live track from London Desert Fest. as B Side). Thanks so much for your support !

Feel free to share and spread, we re almost 10000 on this page ! Next shows :

01/23 DONOSTIA (Sp) Mogambo
01/24 BARCELONA (Sp) Rocksound
01/25 ZARAGOZA (Sp) Pub Eccos
01/26 MADRID (Sp) Wurlitzer Balroom
02/05 LA ROCHE SUR YON (85) Le Fuzz Yon
02/27 LARISSA (Gr) Stage Club
02/28 THESSALONIKI (Gr) Eightball Club
03/01 ATHENES (Gr) Six D.O.G.S
03/01 LA TESTE DE BUCH (33) Le Zik Zac
06/20 HELLFEST !!!!!!!!

More shows to come soon !

All records available on streaming : http://marsredsky.bandcamp.com/
Webshop : http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband

Mars Red Sky, “Satellites” Live in Mariehamn, Nov. 30, 2013

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 EPs, Demos and Singles of 2013

Posted in Features on January 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve been trying to get this one on the page for a couple weeks now — really since last year if you want to go back that far — and I finally just decided to do it. Granted, it’s already 2014, but I’m pretty used to being behind the times, so I hope you’ll indulge me on this one.

The thing is, of course we already did the Top 20 Albums of 2013, but that leaves an awful lot out in terms of quality shorter releases. Demos, singles, EPs, splits — whatever it might be — there’s a lot more to the story of a year in music than who’s putting out what full-length. That might be true now more than ever, with digital releases and artists having the ability to more or less give a song-by-song feed of new material should they so choose. Since this is the first time I’ve done this list, I’ve kept the presentation pretty basic, but there’s a lot to dig into here anyway in terms of the quality of the music and what people were able to accomplish in, in some cases, just one or two tracks.

My basis for judgment here is basically the same as with the full-albums list, and by that I mean how much I listened to something played a huge role, and it’s not just how important I think an EP or a split or a demo was that got it included on this list — though of course that stuff matters as well. Like spelling, repeat listens count. And it goes without saying these are my picks and have nothing to do with the Readers Poll, the results of which are here.

Okay, let’s do this:

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2013

1. The Machine/Sungrazer, Split
2. Dozer, Vultures
3. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide
4. Black Thai, Seasons of Might
5. Wo Fat/Egypt, Cyclopean Riffs Split 12″
6. Young Hunter, Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain
7. Shroud Eater, Dead Ends
8. Steak, Corned Beef Colossus
9. Geezer, Gage
10. The Golden Grass, One More Time b/w Tornado 7″
11. Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Underground
12. King Buffalo, Demo
13. Groan, Ride the Snake
14. Crypt Sermon, Demo MMXIII
15. Stubb, Under a Spell b/w Bullets Rain 7″
16. Salem’s Pot, Watch Me Kill You Tape
17. Undersmile/Coma Wall, Wood and Wire Split
18. Second Grave, Antithesis
19. Sinister Haze, Demo
20. Olde Growth, Owl

Honorable mention has to go to the Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man split, C.O.C.‘s Megalodon EP, which was right on but which I didn’t really hear enough to include. The Gates of Slumber‘s Stormcrow as well.

Just a couple notes: In the case of Olde Growth, putting them last was actually more about not being sure when the official release date of Owl was than anything else. I actually listened to that quite a bit, and “Tears of Blood” remains my favorite work of the duo’s to date. In terms of demos, it was a good year for doom debuts, with Crypt Sermon and Sinister Haze both showing some malevolent classicism, and King Buffalo‘s demo grew on me almost immediately upon hearing it and right away made me look forward to whatever might come next from them.

I was a little hesitant to put a split in the number one spot, but The Machine‘s riff for “Awe” alone made it necessary. I’ve kept this disc on my person for almost the entire year and continue to have no regrets in doing so. For Dozer, yeah, it was a collection of older material, but I still enjoyed the crap out of it. Both Mars Red Sky and Black Thai signaled considerable creative growth in four-song EPs, and the Wo Fat and Egypt split more than lived up to its mission. The riff lives in bands like that, and as we get further into stylistic nuance and subgenre development, it’s those groups who are holding on to the Heavy.

Young Hunter are one of the most promising bands I’ve heard in the last three years. Flat out. Killer release. Ditto that in a much different context for Shroud Eater, whose take on heavy only got more sinister and more effective with Dead Ends. Steak emerge as tops among the five British bands — a quarter of the list! — here. Their Corned Beef Colossus also had the best title I heard all year, and though Trippy Wicked, Groan, Stubb, and Undersmile/Coma Wall (the latter earning bonus points for putting out a split with themselves) all thrilled, Steak‘s potential got them that spot. Time for a full-length, guys.

Not to leave out New York — though the geographical alignment is a coincidence — Geezer‘s Gage tapped into a jammier feel that I thought suited the band remarkably well, and The Golden Grass‘ debut single offered one of the most charming irony-free good times I’ve heard in a long while. The Salem’s Pot cassette was one of my most-listened-to tapes this year, last mentioned but not at all least, Second Grave‘s Antithesis probably would’ve clocked in higher if I’d had more time with it, but was definitely one I wanted to put in here anyway.

As I said, a lot of really astounding shorter outings, and worthy of attention in their own right. If I missed anything, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments.

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Mars Red Sky Winter Tour Starts Nov. 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Don’t get me wrong, it’s very cool that inner-peace-bringing French heavy psych rockers Mars Red Sky are heading out on another European tour starting this month and have already booked a slot at next year’s Hellfest. That’s awesome. I’m stoked that a lot of people will get to see them and I hope the shows are packed. What I’d really like to see, however, is an update about the recording of their second full-length album, which took place early in October at Thunder Underground in California, following a handful of shows in South America. How was the studio? Is it finished? How do the mixes sound? Is it mastered yet? Can I hear it? Can I hear it now? How about now?

The last three questions I consider the most pressing.

I guess it’s not mixed yet, so okay, it’s awesome that the trio are hitting the road again this winter and spending the cold months on tour. Here are the dates and the gorgeous Johan Jaccob tour poster, courtesy of the PR wire:

MARS RED SKY European winter tour to kick off on November 20th.

French stoner rock trio MARS RED SKY just announced the tour dates for their European winter tour across eleven countries.

On November 20th, fuzzed-out psychedelic Frenchies will embark on a two weeks tour across Northern Europe, after what they’ll soon hit the studios for the mixing of their new full-length record (recorded in Brasil earlier this year). Early 2014 will see the band head South for a few dates in Spain and Greece. More dates coming soon, stay tuned!

MARS RED SKY on tour
2013
11/20 LIEGE (B) La Zone
11/21 BRUSSEL (B) Salle Rogier + Naam
11/22 ERFURT (D) Stadtgarten + Monkey 3
11/23 BERLIN (D) White Trash + Monkey 3
11/24 WARSAW (Pl) Harenda Club
11/25 RIGA (LVA) Nabaklab
11/26 TALLIN (EST) Snakehouse
11/27 JYVÄSKYLÄ (Fin) Lutakko
11/28 HELSINKI (Fin) Bar Loose
11/29 TURKU (Fin) Klubi Ilta puoli
11/30 MARIEHAMN (Fin) Dino’s Bar
12/01 VÄXJO (SWE) Cafe Deluxe
12/02 KOPENHAGEN (Dk) Dødsmaskinen
12/03 BREMEN (D) Römer TBC
12/04 REIMS (Fr) L’Appart Café
12/05 BREST (Fr) La Carène

2014
01/23 DONOSTIA / SAN SEBASTIAN (Sp) Mogambo
01/24 BARCELONA (Sp) Rocksound
01/25 ZARAGOZA (Sp) Pub Eccos
01/26 MADRID (Sp) Wurlitzer Balroom
02/14 ATHENS (Gr)
02/15 LARISSA (Gr)
02/16 THESSALONIKI (Gr)
06/20 HELLFEST OPEN AIR (Fr)

www.facebook.com/marsredskyband
marsredsky.bandcamp.com
marsredsky.bigcartel.com

Mars Red Sky, “Clean White Hands”

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Make it Sabbathy #1 Teaser for Mars Red Sky & Glowsun in Bordeaux Unveiled

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be pretty happy to see Mars Red Sky anywhere. London, Tilburg, maybe somewhere on their recently-announced West Coast stint following the recording of their second album in the Californian desert, or maybe in the back yard. I’m not picky. Wherever. But to see them in their native Bordeaux, with fellow French fuzz countrymen Glowsun sounds particularly awesome. The band in conjunction with a slew of others are presenting a series of shows over the next couple months called “Make it Sabbathy” — sound advice — and they’ve just revealed a trailer for the first installment, which indeed finds them paired with Glowsun — VvvV will also be on the bill — whose song “Dragon Witch” provides the score for the teaser below, which also features a dancing lady and the square carting her around. Certainly a more apt visual metaphor for stoner rock vs. society than I could ever put together. Good fun.

Also a good reminder to revisit that Glowsun album, which I didn’t give its due attention owing to that whole I-hate-digital-promos thing. They’re my square in the driver’s seat.

Here’s the trailer and show info, should you be lucky enough to be in Bordeaux anytime over the next few months:

Make it Sabbathy! #1 teaser

MRS Red Sound is proud to present the first monthly heavy and psychedelic shows in Bordeaux, France : MAKE IT SABBATHY !
On September 18th, French stoner references MARS RED SKY and GLOWSUN will be the first guests of this fuzzy rendez-vous, along with local progressive krautrock sensation VvvV.

We concocted some wild asphalt-burning teaser on this occasion, so it would be much appreciated if you could share this on your website ! For the love of heavy riffs and stoned atmospheres…

? MAKE IT SABBATHY shows ?
September 18 – Mars Red Sky + Glowsun + VvvV
October 8 – Dead Meadow + Black Jaguar’s Revenge
November 18 – Samsara Blues Experiment + Dätcha Mandala

Find us on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/make.it.sabbathy

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Mars Red Sky Announce New Album Recording Plans, South American, West Coast US and European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Bordeaux fuzz rockers Mars Red Sky have a busy few months coming up. Next week, the trio will do a few shows in their native France, including sharing the stage in Paris with Dead Meadow, before flying to South America to play five shows in Argentina and Brazil. After that, Mars Red Sky will head north, to the Californian desert, where they’ll spend a week putting their second full-length to tape at Thunder Underground in Palm Springs — where the likes of Vista Chino, Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri, Dwarves, Waxy and others have recorded — also playing a show at The Hood in Palm Desert in the meantime.

That would probably be enough for exhaustion, but while they’re on the West Coast anyway, Mars Red Sky will embark on their second tour of the region after playing SXSW in Austin, Texas, last year and doing a string of gigs afterwards (The Patient Mrs. saw them in Portland). They’ll be joined by Ancient Warlocks for those shows, which are dubbed the “For the Record” tour, and because hey, why not?, Mars Red Sky have also lined up some shows in Finland, Germany, Belgium and France for November and December. Like I say, a busy few months.

Makes sense that the three-piece would head to the desert to record, though. Their self-titled debut (review here), which was one of the best albums released that year, was put to tape in Spain in a similar landscape, and even their earlier-2013 Be My Guide EP (review here) honed in on similar atmospheres and laid back heaviness. Though I’d disappointed to have these guys in the country and not get to see them play (maybe a Boston show to break up the flight back to Europe?), I’ll look forward very much to hearing how the second album comes out when it’s finished.

Here are the tour dates:

Very happy to announce “FOR THE RECORD” Tour & Recording Project for the 2nd Album !

September :
09.18 BORDEAUX (F) “Make it Sabbathy #1!”
09.20 POITIERS (F) Le Plan B
09.21 ANGERS (F) Psych-Fest – Lévitation
09.22 PARIS (F) Le Point FMR with Dead Meadow
09.24 BUENOS AIRES (Ar) Uniclub
09.25 PORTO ALEGRE (Br) Black Bull Pub
09.27 SAO PAULO (Br) Club Inferno
09.28 RIO DE JANEIRO (Br) Mofo (Lapa)
09.29 BELO HORIZONTE (Br) Matriz

October :
10.01 to 10.08 Recording @ Thunder Underground Studio (Palm Spring, CA)
10.04 PALM DESERT, CA The Hood
10.09 SAN DIEGO, CA The Saloon in Encinitas***
10.10 LOS ANGELES, CA 5 Star Club***
10.11 SAN FRANCISCO, CA TBA***
10.12 PORTLAND, OR Ash St.***
10.13 SEATTLE, WA Shop Suey***

November :
11.20 LIEGE (B) La Zone
11.21 BRUSSEL (B) with Naam
11.23 BERLIN (D) White Trash with Monkey Three
11.27 JYVÄSKYLÄ (Fin) – Lutakko
11.28 HELSINKI (Fin) Bar Loose
11.29 TURKU (Fin) Klubi – Ilta puoli

December:
12.05 BREST (F) La Carène

*** = shows with Ancient Warlocks from Seattle.
More shows to be announced soon….

https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband

Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide EP (2013)

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Mars Red Sky to Record New Full-Length this Fall; Shows this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

French fuzz rockers Mars Red Sky will start a five-day run of gigs tonight in Dijon with White Fence before meeting up with Glowsun for a couple nights and playing on the 30th with Dinosaur Jr., which sounds like a cool way to spend an evening in Bordeaux should you happen to be out that way. This run kicks off the trio’s summer of shows in support of the new Be My Guide EP (review here), the rest of the dates for which you can find below, joined by the excellent news that Mars Red Sky will be recording a new full-length in the coming months and that they’re hoping to return to the US for a few West Coast dates later this fall, as well as hit South America for the first time.

As I don’t live in any of those places (perhaps most regrettably Bordeaux), the new record is what has my interest piqued, but take a look at the update the band sent down the PR wire and see where you’re at:

MARS RED SKY – News

Please find some infos about MRS !

- Next Shows :
05.22 DIJON (21) Le Deep Inside with White Fence
05.23 STUTTGART (D) Keller Club with Glowsun
05.24 ST GALLEN (CH) Rümpelturm with Glowsun
05.25 GRIES AM BRENNER (A) Floiten Jam with Glowsun
05.26 GRENOBLE (38) Drak-Art
05.30 BORDEAUX (33) Le Krakatoa with Dinosaur Jr
07.07 AUBANGE (Bel) Festival Wave
07.18 LILLE (59) La Péniche
07.20 WARSAW (PL) Day of Ceremony Festival
08.02 OR 03 STAMSRIED (D) Void Fest
08.10 GEEL (Bel) Yellowstock Festival
08.23 SANTA MARIA DEL PARAMO (SP) Taberna Belfast
08.24 MOLEDO (Pt) Sonic Blast

http://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband

- We’ll record the new album in a few months and do some shows this next fall in Europe.

- We also working on a tour project in South America and West Coast of the US for end of sept/beg of october.
Feel free to propose / share some cities / clubs / contacts….

- EP Vinyl still available here : http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com/

Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide EP (2013)

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Various Artists, Kept in a Cave Vol. 1: The European Union of Fuzz

Posted in Reviews on May 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t know how many times I’ve said so – probably at least once for each time I’ve actually brought myself to do it – but I hate reviewing compilations. For most of them, there’s no flow between the tracks, being that it’s different artists, different recordings and sometimes different genres, and even when you get a gem, a non-album track or something like that, there’s no real context for being able to enjoy it, because once it’s over, you’re swept abruptly off to the next thing. Most of the enjoyment I get out of them is in hindsight, years later, when that non-album track is legitimately rare and hard to track down, or the alternate version has never appeared anywhere, or when the comp itself has built up some mystique as a landmark moment – those are even fewer and farther between, but it happens sometimes – either for an artist or the genre. Even if they’re alright to listen to, reviewing them is terrible. You’re either promoting the release outright – “hey, these people are doing good work and you should spend your money on it” – or doing little more than listing the bands involved – “this comp is cool because it has so-and-so involved and they do this song, whereas this band does another song,” and so on. I’ve never been able to find a middle ground in comp reviews and while I do genuinely think there are people out there putting in significant effort to promote artists they believe in, the pain in my ass that reviewing a compilation becomes is enough that I generally try to avoid it as much as possible.

So this is the part where, post-disclaimer, I tell you the case is wholly different with Kept in a Cave, Vol. 1, the 13-track mining operation of Europe’s heavy underground undertaken by Stonerrock.eu, right? Sort of. Kept in a Cave certainly gets a flow going, thanks in part to the similarities in fuzz and jam-minded process of the bands that make up its midsection – Sungrazer into The:Egocentrics into Been Obscene into Electric Moon works rather well and with a healthy dose of Elektrohasch and Elektrohasch-style heavy, there’s not much room for stuff to be out of place – but I still find myself in the position of wanting either to run through the tracklist or just promote it because I respect the effort on their behalf in making the release and its four-panel digipak with giant-mantis artwork happen. To counteract the first, here’s the rundown of artists and songs in its entirety, taken directly off the back of the package:

1. Grandloom, “Larry Fairy” (7:07)
2. Under Brooklyn Palms, “Restlessness” (6:20)
3. Mars Red Sky, “Sadaba” (5:07)
4. Kosmic Elephant, “Bloot Pilot” (6:38)
5. Sungrazer, “Wild Goose” (5:19)
6. The:Egocentrics, “Lost and Found” (4:54)
7. Been Obscene, “Endless Scheme” (6:55)
8. Electric Moon, “Triptriptrip” (8:45)
9. Samsara Blues Experiment, “Hangin’ on the Wire” (5:30)
10. Stonehenge, “Concrete Krieger” (7:36)
11. The Machine, “5 & 4” (6:14)
12. DxBxSx, “Problemkind” (2:16)
13. Sahara Surfers, “Gas” (6:00)

All this adds up to a 79-minute front-to-back listen, about as much as a single-CD will hold. Of the included artists, Sungrazer, Been Obscene, The Machine and DxBxSx are signed to Elektrohasch, and certainly familiar acts like Mars Red Sky, Samsara Blues Experiment and Electric Moon fit aesthetically with that fuzzy, jammy sound as well, so though it’s long, Kept in a Cave makes for a decent listen if you’re going to take it on as a whole, put it on for a party – I’m told music at parties is something human beings do – or whathaveyou, and even the likes of Grandloom, Under Brooklyn Palms (who, yes, are German), Kosmic Elephant, Stonehenge and Sahara Surfers fit on a sonic level. Nothing here is really out of place and obvious consideration has been given to how one song is met by the next – for emphasis, I’ll cite putting the punkier DxBxSx as the second-to-last cut, giving a short burst of energy after the fuzzfests preceding – so the project becomes even more admirable.

Read more »

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