Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Makes Massive Lineup Announcement; Slo Burn, Vhöl, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe, Melvins and Many More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Take a deep breath before you dive into the new lineup announcement from Psycho Las Vegas 2017. With 35-plus bands added, it officially qualifies as huge, and considering who those bands are — Slo Burn for a US-exclusive, plus bringing over the likes of Elephant Tree to play alongside SummonerHollow LegGatecreeper and others — it can be a lot to take in. If you haven’t had a meal yet today, you might want to eat something. Make sure you’re hydrated. Basically I want to avoid anyone fainting as a result of reading the list of bands. If you’re sensitive to flashing lights… you’re probably okay. But otherwise, check to see you have something soft to land on nearby, should you need it.

I missed Psycho this year owing to a new job and a general lack of funds. I’m not sure I can do the same in 2017. This one might just be a gotta-go kind of scenario. Fuckin’ Slomatics are gonna be there.

There are still more than 40 bands to announce, including headliners, whose names will be out at random points over the next 30 days.

Jeebus.

To the PR wire:

psycho las vegas 2017

Psycho Las Vegas 2017

August 18, 2017 – August 20, 2017
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas

Psycho Las Vegas today announces over 35 new additions to its massive 2017 lineup. The festival has quickly become the premier event in the US for underground heavy rock, psych, doom, alternative and beyond, and as the roster grows for this year’s edition, they’re clearly looking to push their boundaries even further.

Headliners remain TBA, but joining previously-announced generation-defining acts like Neurosis, Swans and French prog lords Magma, come UK grind legends Carcass, whose reunion continues to bring gruesome tales of dissections and unparalleled.

They’ll be in good company with Norwegian black metal legend Abbath, formerly of Immortal, who released a raging self-titled debut album under his own name this year, New York’s Myrkur, whose own debut, M, disrupted black metal genre convention on nearly every level, and USBM innovators Wolves in the Throne Room, who continue to refine a style they helped establish more than a decade ago.

Look for the Melvins to boggle brains with their brand of heavy rock – still unique unto itself after more than three decades – as well as for the new project Crystal Fairy with Buzzo and Dale from the Melvins, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Mars Volta) and Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) to bring to life their debut album, which releases in February on Ipecac Recordings.

This latest announcement also brings sludge-laden chaos from the pair of Weedeater and Buzzov*en, and Chelsea Wolfe to emit a darkness that even Las Vegas in the summer won’t be able to hold at bay.

The reunited Slo Burn (vocalist John Garcia’s first project post-Kyuss) will play an exclusive US show at Psycho, and a special highlight performance from psych-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke is open eyes, ears and minds alike as he celebrates a career spanning more than 50 years.

Also added have been long-running mischief-makers Murder City Devils, alt-rock legends Echo and the Bunnymen, progressive thrashers Vhöl (members of YOB and Agalloch), Pelican, Cult of Luna, Psychic TV, and as it did with the landmark 2016 edition, the fest digs deep into the heavy rock underground once again to unearth the best of up-and-coming bands from the States and beyond. Along with the already confirmed riff-crushers Windhand, Blood Ceremony, Slomatics and Domkraft, Elephant Tree (UK) have signed on alongside fellow fest-newcomers Khemmis, Sumac, Gatecreeper, Snail, North, Cult Leader, Hollow Leg, Summoner, Floorian, Wizard Rifle, Merlin and Morne.

Further lineup announcements will follow in the New Year — including headliners — so stay tuned for more from the best and biggest heavy festival the US has ever seen.

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Confirmed lineup:
MURDER CITY DEVILS
NEUROSIS
MULATU ASTATKE
SWANS
CARCASS
WOLVES IN THE THRONEROOM
CRYSTAL FAIRY
MAGMA
CHELSEA WOLFE
SLO BURN
CULT OF LUNA
ABBATH
SUMAC
MYRKUR
PELICAN
WEEDEATER
ZEAL & ARDOR
SLOMATICS
OATHBREAKER
VHOL
COUGH
BLOOD CEREMONY
INTER ARMA
THE SKULL
WINDHAND
BUZZOVEN
MINSK
CODE ORANGE
KHEMMIS
GATECREEPER
NORTH
CULT LEADER
SNAIL
WIZARD RIFLE
MERLIN
FLOORIAN
DOMKRAFT
ELEPHANT TREE
MORNE
HOLLOW LEG
SUMMONER

http://www.vivapsycho.com/
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/psycho-las-vegas-2017-tickets-27758793298
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1636267026703732/
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas/
https://twitter.com/psycholasvegas

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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Dale Crover Releases Skins Limited Edition 12-Sided Five-Minute LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 2nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Okay, collector types. Feast your hungry eyes on this. Bound to be so rare it’s ridiculous and I can only imagine the silliness of the prices it will fetch on the secondary market. It’s Dale Crover from the Melvins, with 12 solo tracks all of which are under a minute long, split up into six separate records pressed to both sides of a single LP, hand-pressed to clear vinyl. Even Joyful Noise Recordings, which helmed the project, seems to admit that the technology involved produced a pretty rough sound, but let’s face it, if you’re buying this thing, you’re not buying it because you’re gonna slap it on your turntable and play it until the needle digs through to the other side. You’re buying it to take pictures and brag on social media that you got one of the 127 copies in existence. And I honestly don’t think I could fault you for that, given how gorgeous it actually looks and the clear passion that has gone into making it.

For sale at $100 a pop, they’re already gone.

From the PR wire:

dale crover skins-700

Dale Crover (the Melvins) Releasing 12-Sided Record ‘Skins’ via Joyful Noise Recordings

Watch Instructional Video (on how to play “the most impractical record of all time”)

Dale Crover, best known as the drummer of the Melvins, teamed up with Joyful Noise Recordings to create a 12-sided record called Skins. The first release of its kind, the unique art object was hand made by lathe virtuoso Mike Dixon and is limited to 127 signed copies. Each record features six spindle holes, which correspond to twelve short songs written by Crover (six on side A and six on side B.) Joyful Noise created an instructional video demonstrating how to access each track.

This unique format required Crover to work within a highly constraining framework, creating individual pieces of music that almost mimic haikus. Each piece is less than 30 seconds in length, and these distinct works ultimately became the seed for Crover’s upcoming full-length album, slated for release in 2017.

Because each record was individually cut using 1940s technology (on a 1942 Presto 6N record lathe), these are lo-fi, mono records that will not possess the same fidelity as a modern record. Each of the 127 copies available required more than an hour of work to produce. See below for additional notes on playing the record.

Turntable Setup: Lathe-cut records have more shallow grooves than pressed records, which can make them difficult to play. Adjustments to your standard turntable setup may be required. If the only turntable you own is a Crosley, do not buy this record. Not only will it not play on your setup, but you’ll likely damage the record in the process. Due to the multi-spindle-hole design, we cannot guarantee that this record will be playable on all turntables.

A note about the price: Yes, it would be totally insane to pay $100 for 5 minutes of audio. But music is not all you are buying here. This is one of the most unique records ever made in the history of music. Each of the 127 copies required over an hour of work to make, not to mention the countless hours that were put into the design, composition and recording. If you cannot afford this art object, feel free to wait for Dale’s full-length. But to those who can, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that in the not-too-distant future, this record will be sold on eBay for a far more obscene amount of money.

TRACK LISTING
01. Slide On Up (0:27)
02. The Short Con (0:26)
03. Our Supreme Leader (0:16)
04. String Bean (0:32)
05. Why Not? (0:11)
06. Prismo (0:15)
07. Trick Dirt (0:29)
08. Chicken Ala King (0:30)
09. Vulnavia (0:30)
10. None No More (0:31)
11. Horse Pills (0:30)
12. Just Walk Around (0:29)

https://www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com/products/skins
https://www.facebook.com/joyfulnoiserecordings

How to Listen to Dale Crover’s Skins

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Melvins Post “Hideous Woman” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

melvins

I’ll admit I’ve become less of a Melvins fan over time. The Seattle mainstays-of-riff are well over the 30-year mark at this point, and you won’t in the least find me denying the massive impact Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover — as well as a series of bassists; six on their new album, Basses Loaded (see what they did there?) — have had on underground rock and roll especially over the last two decades or the fact that they absolutely slay live, but they’re impossible to keep up with, Buzzo‘s a dick to press in the Jello Biafra/Henry Rollins tradition and frankly, no matter who’s playing on it or whatever, there’s a lot of what they do at this point that I think comes from the same place. Even the chug of “Hideous Woman” from the new record should be pretty familiar to anyone who’s listened to any given amount of their material over the last 10 or 15 years.

So why am I posting about the Melvins? Because I respect the shit out of them. Look at that list of tour dates below and ask yourself how many groups have been around for that long and still have that kind of drive to do what they’re doing. True, they’re making a living off it and at this point it’s easy to imagine they don’t know how to live any other way, but even so, the sheer factor of the Melvins having trudged back and forth across the planet, again and again, while putting out albums at a continually impossible rate, means that yes, I still think they’re worth posting about even if I’ll just about never actually put on one of those albums.

There you go. An honest post about the MelvinsBasses Loaded CD is out now on Ipecac. Vinyl on Friday.

Video is below for “Hideous Woman.” Whatever, go to a show. Then watch Bob Hannam‘s documentary. Or watch the documentary first. Either way.

Alright:

Melvins, “Hideous Woman” official video

The Melvins, who recently wrapped up their latest European tour, debut a video for “Hideous Woman” from their recently released album, Basses Loaded (Ipecac Recordings).

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR HIDEOUS WOMAN, DIRECTED BY DAVID HALL

The 12-song album features six bass players: Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, Redd Kross’ Steve McDonald, Butthole Surfers’ J.D. Pinkus, Big Business’ Jared Warren, Mr. Bungle/Fantomas’ Trevor Dunn (aka Melvins Lite) and Melvins’ drummer Dale Crover swapping the drum kit for bass in the Melvins 1983 iteration.

The Melvins return to U.S. highways this summer, launching a seven-week tour on Aug. 3 in Las Vegas. The touring line-up features Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Steve McDonald.

U.S. tour dates:
August 3 Las Vegas, NV Backstage Bar & Billiards
August 4 Flagstaff, AZ The Green Room
August 6 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
August 7 Ft. Collins, CO Aggie Theatre
August 9 Sioux Falls, SD The District
August 10 Fargo, ND The Aquariaum (Dempsey’s Upstairs)
August 13 Eau Claire, WI Eaux Claires Music Festival
August 14 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Company
August 15 Des Moines, IA Wooly’s
August 16 Lawrence, KS The Bottleneck
August 17 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
August 18 Louisville, KY Headliners Music Hall
August 19 Indianapolis, IN The Vogue Theatre
August 20 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
August 22 Columbus, OH A&R Music Bar
August 23 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theater
August 24 Buffalo, NY Iron Works
August 26 Syracuse, NY The Westcott Theater
August 27 Northampton, MA Pearl Street
August 28 Hamden, CT The Ballroom at the Outer Space
August 29 Providence, RI Fete Ballroom
August 31 Baltimore, MD Ottobar
September 1 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle
September 3 Cookeville, TN Muddy Roots Music Festival
September 5 Athens, GA 40 Watt Club
September 6 Charlotte, NC Amos’ Southend
September 7 Charleston, SC Music Farm
September 8 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbits
September 10 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
September 11 Jackson, MS Duling Hall
September 12 Memphis, TN Hi-Tone
September 13 Little Rock, AR Metroplex
September 14 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballroom
September 15 Oklahoma City, OK The ACM @ UCO Performance Lab
September 16 Norman, OK Opolis
September 17 Austin, TX The Sidewinder
September 18 San Antonio, TX Paper Tiger
September 20 El Paso, TX Lowbrow Palace
September 21 Tucson, AZ Club Congress
September 24 Long Beach, CA Music Tastes Good Festival

Basses Loaded is available now via the Ipecac webstore, Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes. The vinyl release arrives on July 1.

Melvins on Thee Facebooks

Melvins on Twitter

Melvins Instagram

Melvins at Ipecac Recordings

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The Colossus of Destiny Melvins Documentary Kickstarter Launched

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the melvins

People sure do like the Melvins. Like, enough to make a documentary about them, which is a lot when you think about what actually goes into producing a film like Bob Hannam and Ryan Sutherby‘s The Colossus of Destiny, which is due out early next year. The pair have launched a Kickstarter to help cover the costs of putting the movie together, and in about 10 days they’ve managed to raise $53,000 of their total $75,000 ask, which is significant. If you haven’t seen it yet, the donation rewards are pretty sweet as well, from t-shirts and posters to — since it’s the Melvins, there would have to be — a deluxe edition, 3-DVD set of the movie that comes housed in a wood box. Pretty badass.

If you’re feeling generous, the PR wire offers a worthy cause:

the colossus of destiny a melvins tale

MELVINS’ DOCUMENTARY, “THE COLOSSUS OF DESTINY – A MELVINS TALE,” LAUNCHES KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

RELEASE NEW TRAILER

The filmmakers of the forthcoming Melvins’ documentary, “The Colossus of Destiny – A Melvins Tale,” have launched a Kickstarter campaign featuring artwork donated by Haze XXL, Brian Walsby, Arik Roper, Skinner and Mackie Osborne (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/26674096/the-colossus-of-destiny-a-melvins-tale).

The film, which is currently under production with an anticipated early 2016 release, is the creation of Bob Hannam and Ryan Sutherby. The pair, who met through a mutual affection for the Melvins, began work on the officially authorized documentary in late 2014.

“We kept asking ourselves why no one had ever made a film about the Melvins,” explained Hannam. “What an incredible story and twisted tale both Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover have taken. There aren’t many bands who can say they’ve influenced some of the most popular artists of our generation and done it in every instance according to their own rules, still as important, if not more so, some 32 years after forming.”

“The Colossus of Destiny – A Melvins Tale” follows the band’s journey, from the backwards waters of the Chehalis River in Washington, through the Golden Gate of Northern California and finally, into Los Angeles where Osborne and Crover both reside. The film features lengthy interviews with Osborne and Crover as well as present and ex band members, collaborators and many other musicians from bands such as Mudhoney, The Jesus Lizard, Soundgarden, Butthole Surfers, Sleep, Babes In Toyland, Neurosis and Redd Kross to name but a few.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/26674096/the-colossus-of-destiny-a-melvins-tale
www.melvinsmovie.com
www.facebook.com/melvinstale

The Colossus of Destiny Trailer

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If You Only Buy 24 Records Between Now and May 1…

Posted in Features on March 12th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

…Yeah, I know, 24 is a buttload of records to buy in the span of about a month and a half. To do the division, it would mean buying a new album every 2.04 days. Probably not feasible in terms of time, let alone budget, but hell, it’s a nice thought and seeing the onslaught of new stuff coming between now and the end of April, I thought maybe a list would help keep it all straight. Even if I’m only helping myself, I could probably spend my time in worse ways.

Worth noting that even with 24 albums, presented below in order of release, I feel like there’s stuff I’m forgetting. Frankly, it’s an overwhelming amount of material, so if I’ve missed something or there’s something you’d like to see added to the list, as always, that’s why there’s a comments feature.

Okay. These are numbered just for fun, but listed by date:

1. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Fans (March 12)

My understanding is that London’s foremost doom scoundrels, none other than Orange Goblin, have been selling copies of A Eulogy for the Fans since starting their US tour with Clutch on March 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but today is the official release date, and I can think of no better place to start than with the four-piece’s ferocious performance at the 2012 Bloodstock festival, captured audio and video in all its bloodsoaked glory. Not to be missed or taken lightly because it’s a live record. Album review here.

2. Borracho, Mob Gathering 7″ (March 13)


Even though it’s comprised of older tracks, the new Mob Gathering 7″ from Borracho is welcome by me for two reasons: I’ve never heard the songs before and Borracho rocks. The Washington D.C.-based riffers recorded “Mob Gathering” and “Short Ride (When it’s Over)” in 2009 and are set to release the cuts on a limited platter in black and orange swirl through Spain’s Ghost Highway Recordings and Germany’s No Balls Records. They’ve been playing live as a mostly-instrumental outfit while guitarist/vocalist Noah is out of the country on what I can only assume is an awesome spy mission, so if you need a Borracho fix — and it’s obvious from the way your hands are shaking that you do — this might be the way to go. More info here.

3. Inter Arma, Sky Burial (March 15)


Like Windhand below, Inter Arma are recent Relapse Records signees from Richmond, Virginia, and Sky Burial will serve as their first release for the label. Literally and figuratively, the album is expansive, topping 69 minutes and pummeling the whole way through with a genre-transcending concoction of bleakness that’s not so much aligned to any particular heavy aesthetic so much as it is set to its own atmospheric purposes. Through this, Inter Arma emerge terrifyingly cohesive where many others would falter, and their second LP behind 2010’s Sundown (review here) leaves a progressive impression despite an almost complete lack of sonic pretense. Mostly, it’s fucking heavy. Track stream and info here.

4. Clutch, Earth Rocker (March 19)


If 2013 ended tomorrow, Clutch‘s Earth Rocker would be my album of the year. That’s not saying the situation will be the same nine months from now when I actually start putting that list together (already dreading it), but as of March 12, it’s the cat’s pajamas and no foolin’. The long-running Marylanders outdid themselves and put together a surprisingly fast, energetic collection of songs that don’t forsake the bluesy tendencies of their last album, 2009’s Strange Cousins from the West, so much as they put some of the jamming on lockdown in favor of all-out pro-grade heavy rock and roll. The velocity is crucial and the wolfman is out, but it feels like the party’s just starting. Look for them on tour sometime between now and forever. Album review here.

5. Black Mare, Field of the Host (March 20)


Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini frontwoman Sera Timms (who’s also recently collaborated with Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce in the new outfit Zun) steps further out on her own with the solo-project Black Mare, from whom Field of the Host is the first album. Due March 20 on LP through The Crossing and on cassette through Breathe Plastic, limited in both cases and sure to be gone shortly after release if they’re not already taken through pre-orders. Fans of Timms‘ past works will be glad to hear the misty wash of melody and dreamy, somehow sad, languid roll of “Blind One,” for starters. Audio and info on the forum.

6. Kvelertak, Meir (March 26)


Short of setting themselves on fire, Norwegian triple-guitar six-piece Kvelertak did just about everything they could to get noticed in support of their 2010 self-titled debut LP (review here), and sure enough, their work paid off in getting signed to Roadrunner Records for all territories outside their native Scandinavia (where Indie Recordings holds sway) and trumpeting up a wave of anticipation for their second full-length, Meir. Their energetic, genre-crossing approach might not be for everybody, but the band have turned a lot of heads and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find them on bigger tours this year with Roadrunner behind them. More info on the forum.

7. Black Pyramid, Adversarial (April 2)


This is actually the first time the Eli Wood cover art for Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial has been seen in full, so you know. The Hydro-Phonic Records release of the third Black Pyramid album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard along with bassist David Gein and drummer Clay Neely punctuates the beginning of a new era for the Massachusetts trio. If the advance listen to closing track “Onyx and Obsidian” is anything to go by, they could very well be at their most potent yet, and though I’d hardly consider myself an impartial observer, as a fan of the band, this is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. More to come. Track stream here.

8. Moss, Horrible Night (April 2)


I’ve yet to hear the complete album, but UK trio Moss seem poised to surprise with a cleaner vocal approach on Horrible Night, their first offering since 2008’s impressive Sub Templum LP and two EPs in 2009, so in addition to wondering how they’ll pull it off, the level of the shift remains to be seen. That is, how big a deal is it? Should I call my mom? Is this something grandma needs to know about? Time will tell, but for it having been five years since the last time a Moss record reared its doomly head, it seems only fair to give the band a little breathing room on their evolution. More info and video here.

9. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide EP (April 8)


How glad am I that French fuzz rockers Mars Red Sky have a new EP coming? Well, I’m not as happy that it’s coming as I am that it’s frickin’ awesome. The trio keep the weighted bass tones that gave so much depth to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but they’ve also clearly set to work expanding the formula as well, adding stomp to second track “Seen a Ghost” and an eerie repetitive sense to side B closer “Stranger,” while also broadening their melodic reach and taking claim of whichever side of the line they want between fuzz rock and heavy psychedelia while remaining so much more to the ears than either genre descriptor can offer to the eyes. At half an hour, my only complaint with it is it’s not a full-length album. Video trailer and info here.

10. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era (April 9)


A sample of the poet Ron Whitehead — who also featured on Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s late-2012 debut EP for Tee Pee Records, The Storm Generation (review here) — comes to clarity just in time for the gonzo Boomer poet to let us all know that, “America is an illusion” (that may be, but it’s an illusion with an army of flying killer robots), and from there, the youngin’ desert transplants embark on a low-end-heavy freakout topped with sweet surf rock guitars and set to use in intricate, sometimes surprisingly jagged, rhythmic dances. Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson guests, Scott Reeder produced. Review is forthcoming, but till then, there’s more info here.

11. Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse (April 9)


Fate is Your Muse serves not only as Indianapolis rockers Devil to Pay‘s Ripple Music debut, but also as the double-guitar foursome’s first outing since 2009’s Heavily Ever After. With tales of lizardmen attacks and the alleged end of the world, it’s got its fair share of personality, and set to the chugging riffs, melodic vocals and straightforward heavy grooves, that personality still goes a long way. I’ll have a review up before this week is out (I hope), but still, I wanted to make sure to include Devil to Pay here too, since their songs command both attention and respect. To wit, I just can’t seem to get “This Train Won’t Stop” out of my head. Video and info here.

12. Cough & Windhand, Reflection of the Negative Split (April 15)


Virginian doomers Cough and Windhand share a hometown in Richmond, a love of volume, a bassist in Parker Chandler and now a label in Relapse Records, so yeah, a split makes sense. Reflection of the Negative will be Windhand‘s first release through Relapse ahead of their sophomore full-length, scheduled for later this year (info here). For Cough, this split marks their first outing since 2010’s An Introduction to the Black Arts split with UK masters The Wounded Kings (review here), and they’ll present the 18-minute “Athame,” while Windhand bring forth “Amaranth” and “Shepherd’s Crook.” More info here.

13. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control (April 15)


What the last Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats album, 2011’s Blood Lust (semi-review here), did so well was capture the atmosphere and the grainy imagery of late ’60s/early ’70s psychedelic horror and put it into audio form. For that, Blood Lust earned massive praise, but I still think that without the central core of songwriting underneath the genre trappings, it would’ve fallen flat. When it comes to Mind Control, the question waiting to be answered is if the band wants to stick to the blueprint they’ve established or go brazenly into uncharted weirdness. I’m not really sure they can lose, either way. Info and music here.

14. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar (April 16)


Their debut on new label Nuclear Blast and the quick-arriving answer to my pick for 2012 debut of the year, Abra Kadavar arrives with plenty of anticipation leading the way. The retro-rocking German trio have their work cut out for them in following that self-titled, but however it turns out in the comparison, it will be fascinating to learn how Kadavar develops the band’s sound and whether or not they prove able to push the boundaries of their aesthetic while simultaneously setting a new standard for promo photos. New video here.

15. Spiritual Beggars, Earth Blues (April 16)


I guess when it comes to these long-running Swedes, everybody’s got their favorite lineup, their favorite tunes, etc., but for me, I’m just impressed that Michael Amott — now more than 20 years on from starting Spiritual Beggars as a side-project while still in grindcore pioneers Carcass — still has any interest in keeping the classic rock Hammond-loving outfit grooving. Their last outing, 2010’s Return to Zero (review here), was the first to feature vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, formerly of Firewind, and though those songs were solid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more settled in on Earth Blues when it drops via InsideOut Music on April 16. More info on the forum.

16. Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire (April 19)


Alternating between periods of brooding intensity and all-out crushing heaviness, the second full-length from New Zealand’s Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire, is nasty, nasty, nasty. It’s nasty when it’s quiet and it’s nasty when it’s loud. It’s the kind of record you put on and you’re like, “Damn that’s nasty.” And you’re not wrong. The four-piece — touring shortly with Unida — upped their game even from 2011’s self-titled debut (review here), and for anyone who heard that record, you know that’s saying something. I’m still in the “getting to know it” phase, but so far all that nasty feels pretty right on. More info here.

17. Ghost, Infestissumam (April 19)


Man, this one just kind of happened, huh? I suck — and I mean S-U-C-K suck — at keeping up with band hype. I’m the dude who hears the record three months later and goes, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool,” as countless reviews here can attest, including the one for Ghost‘s 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, but with the Swedish cult heavyweights, all of a sudden I turned around and blamo, major label deal, semi-name change to Ghost B.C., and enough slathering over the impending Infestissumam to make the first album seem like less than the hyperbole it was treated to initially. Funny how that happens. Out in April? I’m sure I’ll review in June and go, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool.” More info on the forum.

18. One Inch Giant, The Great White Beyond (April 19)


Now signed to Soulseller Records, Swedish heavy rockers One Inch Giant will unveil their debut full-length on April 19 and as three of my favorite words in the English language are “Swedish heavy rockers,” I’m excited to find out how this Gothenburg four-piece follow-up their Malva EP, and if they can capture some of the extreme dynamic they brought to their live show when they toured the US last summer — a run of shows that included a stop at SHoD. Hard not to pull for a band after they come over to play club dates. More info and music here.

19. The Heavy Co., Midwest Electric (April 20)


It was actually the other day writing about The Heavy Co.‘s Midwest Electric that I had the idea for this feature, so however high the profile might be for some of these albums — Ghost walks by on their way to cash a check — it was these unpretentious Hoosier rockers and their new outing, Midwest Electric, that started me off. From what I’ve heard so far, the new collection sounds a little more confident in exploring psychedelia than did the trio’s 2011 debut EP, The Heavy (Please Tune In…) (review here), so I’m looking forward to hearing if and how that plays out over the course of the whole thing. Video trailer here.

20. Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (April 23)


I have an interview slated for later this week with Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and I’m even more excited for this time than I was when we last spoke, around their 2009 Small Stone debut, Locust Season (review here), since in everything but its goofball song titles, the sophomore outing marks a huge developmental step in the band’s melodic reach and songwriting chemistry. Stay tuned for that interview and check out the Bandcamp stream included with the album review here.

21. Yawning Man & Fatso Jetson, European Tour Split 7″ (April 26)


Note: I don’t actually know that April 26 is the day that what’s sure to be 2013’s most desert-rocking split is due to arrive, I just know that it’s Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man‘s European tour split, and that’s the day the Euro dates start — with performances at Desertfests London and Berlin, to be more specific. Given both the greatness of Fatso Jetson‘s last record, 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here), and of Yawning Man‘s own 2010 outing, Nomadic Pursuits (review here), the bands’ shared lineage and the relative infrequency of their touring, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope that, even for a single, they pull out all the stops. And starts. And riffs. More info on the forum.

22. Serpent Throne, Brother Lucifer (April 29)


Philly-based instrumental heavy rockers Serpent Throne will follow-up 2010’s White Summer/Black Winter (review here) with Brother Lucifer, and while no one can ever really know what to expect, it’s a safe bet that the dual-guitar outfit will have the solos front and center once again. Having seen them do a couple new songs back in December, I can’t blame them in the slightest. Looking forward to letting these songs sink in for a while and having those solos stuck in my head. Track stream here.

23. Melvins, Everybody Loves Sausages (April 30)


Hey wow, a Melvins covers album. Finally, an opportunity for the band to let their hair down and go wild a bit, right? I mean, at long last, they can really feel free to indulge a little and explore their musical roots in a free and creative way. Okay, you get the point. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty cool idea and anything that teams the Melvins with Scott Kelly to do a Venom song is probably going to be a worthy cause. The most amazing part of it is they haven’t already done a version of “Black Betty.” More info on the forum.

24. Revelation, Inner Harbor (April 30)


Their most progressive outing yet and their first album since 2009, Revelation‘s Inner Harbor (review here) is bound to surprise some who thought they knew what to expect from the Maryland doom stalwarts who double as the classically rocking Against Nature. Good thing Inner Harbor had a digital release last year through the band’s Bland Hand Records to act as a precursor to this Shadow Kingdom CD issue. Rumor has it vinyl’s on the way as well, so keep an eye out, since John Brenner‘s guitar tone should be heard on as natural-sounding an apparatus as possible. More info here.

Okay, so you’re saying to yourself, “Golly, that’s a lot of stuff.” You’re absolutely right. But even as I was typing up this feature, I got word of a new Queen Elephantine full-length coming in April, so even as much as this is, it’s not everything. And that’s not even to mention May, which will bring a new Shroud Eater EP, a new Kylesa record and a new Mark Lanegan collaboration, among however much else. Tons of stuff to keep your ears out for, and like I said way back at the top of this thing, if you have something to add, a comment’s always appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

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Duuude, Tapes! The Melvins, Stoner Witch

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on December 19th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It’s been a full 18 years since Stoner Witch was released as the second of three albums the Melvins would put out through Atlantic Records, and I still feel like there’s just no keeping up with it. The quick turns in “Sweet Willy Rollbar,” the immediate throwoff of “Skweetis,” the before-it-was-cool Morricone whistles of “Roadbull,” the Side Two weirdness of “Shevil,” and “Lividity.” It’s probably not the best album from this era of the band — I’d give that title to 1993’s Houdini — but Stoner Witch is one of those records that has a language all its own, an album that you can walk up to someone, go, “Dude, Stoner Witch!” and know immediately by their reaction if you’ve got a new friend.

Listening to Stoner Witch on tape — similar I suppose to listening to it on vinyl, but cheaper and boxier — it’s easy to lose track of the parts, so that as you come around to the slow progression and creepy whispers of “At the Stake” at the end of Side One, it’s from a mash of early ’90s avant heavy rock. The tape, which is clear — awesome — was worth the five bucks I paid before I even put it on, and though I’ve owned Stoner Witch on CD for many years now, the inherent compression of the format makes a big difference in the actual listening experience, as the high and low ends seem pushed together as King Buzzo‘s vocals, zit-like, are forced to the surface of the songs.

I guess this is “commercial” Melvins as much as something like that ever existed, but let’s face it, without the push Atlantic gave them and the work they did supporting Houdini, Stoner Witch and 1996’s Stag, they wouldn’t be the band they are today, touring 50 states with a new live record out what seems like every six weeks or so. That’s not to say the Melvins weren’t working on their own terms at all times — to think that the abrasive noise at the start of “Magic Pig Detective” came out on a major label is fucking astounding — but these full-lengths, along with others along the way in their massive discography and 30-year tenure, helped define the band they’d become. Whichever you pick as your favorite, and whichever format your hear it on, Stoner Witch is a classic.

And should you happen to stumble into the tape as I did, hopefully you also enjoy getting lost in it all over again. If the future’s more your taste, here’s this:

Melvins, Stoner Witch (in full)

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Melvins Lite, Freak Puke: Proving the Melvins are the Melvins, Even When They Aren’t

Posted in Reviews on March 8th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The thing about the Melvins — nearly 30 years into their career and too many releases to count when you factor in live records, compilations, splits, tour-only specials, elaborately-presented box sets, etc. – is that you can really only compare them to themselves. And even that’s not fair, because their progression over all this time has been relentless — and never mind the fact that guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover have for a long time anchored a fluid lineup of bassists, second drummers, outside collaborators and other contributing artists — studying the path of those two alone is fodder enough for a two-year Masters program in the sludgy arts. They are among the most influential active bands in the heavy underground the world over, and they boast a cult of followers like none other, ready at a moment’s notice with hyperbole and open wallets for whatever brilliance the Melvins are able to churn out next at a rate that continues to be astoundingly prolific. Their latest outing – a full-length complemented by a Scion-sponsored EP called The Bulls and the Bees – comes under the moniker of Melvins Lite, and finds Osborne and Crover partnered with bassist Trevor Dunn for a collection of 10 tracks charmingly titled Freak Puke.

Dunn is no stranger to the Melvins. He’s played with them before, and both he and Osborne were members of the much-revered Mike Patton-fronted avant garde outfit Fantômas. Dunn also traces a pedigree back to Mr. Bungle (also with Patton), and has worked with the likes of John Zorn, Secret Chiefs 3 and his own Trevor Dunn’s Trio-Convulsant. What’s unique about his appearance here alongside Osborne and Crover is that the band took the time to signify that Freak Puke (released, as most of their records are these days, through Ipecac Recordings) is separate from the ongoing lineup Melvins lineup of the two mainstays and bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis. Indeed, that four-piece Melvins incarnation appears on The Bulls and the Bees, so is clearly ongoing, and one might look at Melvins Lite as a side-project still under the umbrella of the band’s output. In that way, it’s not so different from Melvins past collaborations with Lustmord or Jello Biafra, separated mostly from them by the name – which seems more suited to any number of the bands the Melvins have influenced along their way than to their own output in whatever form it might come. Whatever shifts in the band’s songwriting processes may have come into play with Dunn’s involvement, there are still a few characteristically Osborne riffs on display, from the sleepy groove of opener “Mr. Rip Off” to the single-worthy album highlight “A Growing Disgust,” on which Dunn seems to have switched from the bowed upright of the earliest cuts to a more standard rock approach.

He makes his presence felt early, though, and maintains it throughout, standing up every bit to Crover’s percussive mastery and the personality that always seems to ooze from whatever Osborne touches. Introduced with a big rock crash, “Inner Ear Rupture” is essentially two minutes of Dunn freaking out with his bow that’s led into excellently by the finish of “Mr. Rip Off.” The two tracks don’t run one right into the next (at least not on the promo download), but work well together in establishing Freak Puke’s breadth early. It’s the Melvins, even if the “Lite” in the moniker refers to their being a trio and not a four-piece, so they could and do take the album anywhere they damn well please, but it’s still good to make that clear at the outset, even if some of the strongest moments on the record are the most straightforward. To that end, “Baby, Won’t You Weird Me Out” seamlessly integrates Dunn’s bass runs with a righteously fuzzed solo from Osborne and handclap-ready snare hits from Crover before a chorus revival leads to a rhythm section-only showoff. Crover and Dunn are paired well, and the rocking stomp at the beginning of “Worm Farm Waltz” further shows the variety they’re capable of, moving from riff-led chugging into a more open chorus and back again before the titular waltz aspect kicks in. Dunn leads the charge amid double-layered vocals and tom hits from Crover, and if it sounds odd, well, that’s pretty much the point. Welcome to the Melvins.

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New Melvins Live Album Due in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 22nd, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Call me crazy, but I feel like I’ve used that headline before. Entirely possible, since The Melvins are among the most prolific creative forces known to man, and their constantly-expanding discography requires the utmost attention to be kept up with. One might have thought they’d record some of the shows from their recent residency at Spaceland in Los Angeles for their next live installment, but as the PR wire informs, only fools assume when it comes to The Melvins.

Check it:

The Melvins‘ latest offering, Sugar Daddy Live, a 13-track live recording, will see a May 31 release on Ipecac Recordings. Recorded at The Busta-Guts Club in Downey, California, the album features fan favorites such as “Boris,” “A History of Bad Men” and “The Kicking Machine.”

The band recently completed a month-long residency at Los AngelesSpaceland and are currently in New Zealand with a forthcoming round of Australian dates as part of the Soundwave Festival. The Melvins were in Christchurch when the Feb. 21 earthquake struck but escaped unscathed and are due to resume their tour later this week.

Sugar Daddy Live tracklisting:
1. Nude with Boots
2. Dog Island
3. Dies Iraea
4. Civilized Worm
5. The Kicking Machine
6. Eye Flies
7. Tipping the Lion
8. Rat Faced Granny
9. The Hawk
10. You’ve Never Been Right
11. A History of Bad Men
12. Star Spangled Banner
13. Boris

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