Friday Full-Length: Egypt, Egypt EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

First issued in 2005 by the band themselves, Egypt‘s four-song self-titled demo was picked up first by Lyderhorn Records in 2007 and then by MeteorCity for release as a debut EP (review here) in 2009. That latter version, coming at a time when the label was under new ownership and revamping its lineup with bands like Freedom Hawk, Elder, Leeches of Lore, Olde Growth, WhiteBuzz and New Keepers of the Water Towers, seemed to find an audience that has stayed consistently loyal to it over the last decade, and Egypt, who had already disbanded, wound up getting back together as a result. A reboot! Oh what a difference distribution can make.

Egypt formed circa 2003 in Fargo, North Dakota, and as the trio of bassist/vocalist Aaron Esterby, guitarist Ryan Grahn and drummer Chad Heille, they’d embark on their debut EP very much as an initial demo. In fact, the only things that really make it an EP at all are the quality of Heille‘s 2004 recording/mix/master and the fact that it was later released as one. Otherwise, the four-track 31-minute outing could just as easily be called a demo and left at that — while we’re at it, you could also call it a full-length if you wanted to; it’s long enough and there’s nothing in particular lacking to hold it back from being an LP. At least nothing lacking by accident. There is one pervasive lack that defines in no small part the release as a whole: the lack of bullshit. You’ll find none in catchy, on-that-wah bass of opener “Valley of the Kings,” the massive-sounding “Queen of All Time (Red Giant),” the smoky stoner blues roll of “Dirty Witch” or the fuzzy jam-out in “Touch Ground.” Tone and groove, verses and choruses — Egypt‘s Egypt took the approach of slowing down and revamping classic heavy rock swagger as a languid, flowing thing, not necessarily prone to jams in the finished product, as even “Touch Ground” touched ground eventually, but representative of the take of a new generation of heavy rock playing off that which MeteorCity helped define in the post-Kyuss mid- and late-’90s. Each riff, rumble and crash was made to count for maximum impact, and in a changing rock underground marked by the rise of take-it-with-you social media listening experiences and word of mouth, Egypt thrived at a time when, effectively, they were already dead. Put it in your ‘Go Figure’ file; I know you have one.

The shortest song on Egypt‘s Egypt is “Dirty Witch” at 7:27. That, “Touch Ground” and “Valley of the Kings” all hover around seven and a half minutes, while “Queen of All Time (Red Giant)” tops nine. Why that matters is it means each track has enough time to establish its own presence. The songs aren’t just about building up to a hook or an instrumental exploration, they’re a place to dwell, at least for a time. To be sure, “Valley of the Kings” has its chorus, but it’s also got its fuzz-caked gradual unfolding, a stick-click leading into the egypt egyptwah-bass bounce and the flowing vibe that Egypt keep holy throughout the entire release. What was the *new* stoner rock at the time did not lack for self-awareness, but there’s consistently something organic about the listening experience of Egypt‘s self-titled, which was less sludgy than some of their later output would become and proffered a kind of heavy blues that ran concurrent to the work of an act like Texas three-piece Wo Fat with whom Egypt would share the Cyclopean Riffs (review here) split in 2013.

A sometimes gruff character in Esterby‘s vocals was offset by the warmth of the guitar and bass tone surrounding and even in “Queen of All Time (Red Giant),” where the band married together Sleep-style riffing with a vintage-heavy mentality, engaging a hugeness of nod neither to be understated nor discounted. The ’70s flair came forward more on “Dirty Witch,” with its classic rock misogyny playing off notions of Deep Sabbath (or would it be Black Purple?) might’ve been, and “Touch Ground” dug into a more patient motion that made its impact all the more vital upon its arrival after a long, mellow intro. The short version? Egypt killed it. They absolutely did. What was their demo did more in terms of sound than a lot of first records, and did so with an overarching natural feel that became central to its whole character. It was like they plugged in, hit record, and went for it, threw a bird on the cover and were done. It’s never that simple in real life, of course, but especially when the finished product continues to sound so good even a decade/decade-plus later, it’s nice every once in a while to pretend otherwise. If you want to call that escapism, so be it.

The aforementioned Cyclopean Riffs split with Wo Fat came out just a couple months after Egypt‘s return from the abyss/debut album with guitarist Neil Stein, Become the Sun (review here), and that began a run that would find the band increasing their reach domestically and abroad for the next five years until they called it quits in 2018. During that time they were consistently productive, following Become the Sun with the split as well as two more LPs in 2015’s Endless Flight (review here) and 2017’s Cracks and Lines (review here), which showed them continuing to grow in terms of style without letting go of the central heft that that seemed always to be so essential to their process. A cover of Thin Lizzy‘s “Suicide” would be the capstone included on Glory or Death Records‘ tribute compilation, and since the second breakup, Heille and Stein have gone back to their prior instrumental outfit, El Supremo, which Heille founded in 2008, to issue the debut album, Clarity Through Distortion, this summer.

One tries never to say never in rock and roll in any situation, but whether or not the second Egypt disbanding will hold, I honestly couldn’t say. They managed to put out three killer records and made it to Europe in 2015, touring with Tombstones and playing Freak Valley Festival, so if they were the type to tick off boxes, they certainly ticked off a few good ones, but on the other hand, Cracks and Lines seemed to leave a few things unsaid, so I don’t know. Whatever happens in the future, the band never seemed to forget the initial impact their self-titled had in getting them going again. They’ve reissued it a couple times and have CDs available through Bandcamp for a whopping $5, presumably while they last. Which reminds me…

As always, I hope you enjoy.

To answer your next question, yes, I really did just buy that CD. I know I have the MeteorCity version and I may or may not have the original CD-R from the band, but screw it, the price was right and it’s early so impulse control is low.

Kind of an up and down week, but whatever. I ate a lot of garlic, I hung out with The Pecan, watched some baseball. The Patient Mrs. started her new job. This weekend is Nebula, Sasquatch, Mirror Queen and Geezer at the Saint Vitus Bar and the show’s going to be so good I’m actually kind of nervous for it. I’ll have a review up Monday, but hell’s bells, how am I supposed to even talk about something like that? “Duh, bands are awesome,” for like 1,500 words. What a wreck. If I have a brain left, I’ll see what I can do.

Also a couple premieres next week, from V, Alunah, Fire Down Below, and reviews of Monolord and High Fighter. An interview with Lori from Acid King that’s scheduled for tomorrow that was originally supposed to happen on Wednesday, which was The Patient Mrs.’ first day of classes, which meant I was on toddler-duty full-on and therefore by 2PM ready to bash my brain into the wall and very much not ready to give due attention to the 20th anniversary of Busse Woods. I love that record. I’d rather not fuck up the interview, if I can avoid it. Fortunately, Lori was kind enough to reschedule.

Look for the audio of that to come. I don’t know if anyone actually listens to those things — should I maybe break them up into parts? — but they’re fun to do. I like talking to people about their work, I just don’t have the will 15 years later to transcribe that conversation, nor the money to pay someone else to do it. That’s also time I could be reviewing something, and the hours of my day are limited and precious. I’d rather be writing about a record than misquoting someone talking about one. Call me crazy.

So anyway, more streaming interviews, I guess. Parker Griggs from Radio Moscow has a new band that I think I’ll be talking to him about, and I’ve floated Alunah and Heavy Temple as future possibilities. I wouldn’t mind hitting up Monolord either, frankly. Or Ufomammut, if I could make it happen.

I also need to write a piece about the art showings at Høstsabbat sometime in the next week or so that I have no idea yet how I’m going to frame. These things are complicated in my head sometimes. I’ll get there. Will I get there before I do the Lowrider PostWax liner notes or the Acrimony liner notes I need to do? I don’t know. I’m trying my best.

Alright, I’m gonna go read for a couple minutes before The Pecan wakes up and sets about dismantling the world around him, one choking hazard at a time. Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream and get a t-shirt from Dropout if you haven’t yet.

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Friday Full-Length: Elder, Dead Roots Stirring

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So yes, I’ve been thinking about what are some of the best heavy records of the decade. We’re almost halfway into 2019, it’s time for a bit of reflection on what the heavy ’10s have wrought. I’ll probably do a poll at some point in the next couple months instead of my own list — frankly, I’m more curious what everyone else thinks — but I have to imagine Elder‘s 2011 second album for MeteorCity, Dead Roots Stirring (review here), belongs somewhere in that discussion. I don’t think it’s album of the decade, or even the greatest achievement Elder have had in the last 10 years, but it was an important moment for the Massachusetts then-trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto, when they began to really show who they were becoming as a band and how their songwriting process was beginning to realize a more progressive vision. Their prior 2008 self-titled debut (discussed here) made its impression via riffs and grooving largesse. Dead Roots Stirring, at the time, was an entirely different level of achievement for Elder, and it set them on the path toward not only emerging as a touring band, but becoming an essential voice of progressive heavy rock and an influence for others to follow.

That’s hindsight, so I’ll stress that when it came out, no one knew that was going to happen. Elder had played some outside of their native Boston and gained a reputation for blowing much older bands off the stage, but I can remember vividly putting on Dead Roots Stirring for the first time, making my way through “Gemini” and the 12-minute title-track that follows it, and being fairly blindsided by the leap in their sound. Now, that’s just what they do, right? Every album is a considerable step forward from the one before it. They’ve done it four times. But Dead Roots Stirring was the first leap, and I still feel the impact of that when I listen to the record. The turn to acoustics in the intro to the instrumental “III” and the graceful build-up from there; the way they embraced not only the longer-form work of the debut, but shifted that to tell a story with the music as well as the lyrics. Elder‘s songwriting process has long since defied conventional logic. That is, they’ve never really been a verse-chorus-verse-chorus band. It’s always, “We’ll take this part and put it next to this part and sometimes we’ll maybe repeat a part and it’ll be awesome because Matt half-times the drums or something.” And why the hell should that work? Aside from Couto half-timing the drums, because I’m sorry, but that’s always going to be great. But seriously, Elder manage to turn a part played once into a hook, and one can hear that throughout Dead Roots Stirring, on “Dead Roots Stirring” itself, certainly, so elder dead roots stirringthat when a riff does come back around, its effect is all the more highlighted. It’s dumbfounding. It shouldn’t work. Other bands do it, and it just sounds like part-mashing. Elder do it and it’s brilliant.

I won’t take away from the opening salvo of which that title-track is part. “Gemini” into “Dead Roots Stirring” is probably one of the strongest one-two punches a heavy rock record has offered in the last 10 years — and yes, I mean that — but “III,” “The End” and “Knot” showed even more how far their reach had expanded in the three years since their debut. Already noted was the poise of “III,” which not only served its individual function, but fed into the overarching flow of the entire album as its centerpiece, leading to the tumbling fuzzout of “The End,” which was probably the most guitar-led of an album that’s still very much guitar-led. Peppered throughout with leads and backed by a solid groove, the song moved through a long instrumental passage at its end to cap with undulating volume swells and give a direct transition into close “Knot,” which was just a few second shy of the title-cut’s 12 minutes. The finale showed rare swagger on the part of the band, much bolstered by Donovan‘s bass, and swung its way into a overload wash of noise at the end, something Elder‘s cleaner tones on subsequent work would never really allow them to do again. I recall hearing a lot of Colour Haze in Dead Roots Stirring at the time, and I hear some less now, but there’s no question Elder were already pulling from more than just the conventional heavy-rock-riffout playbook even eight years ago. This was something special. Still is.

And of course, Elder have continued to build on it to a point where they’ll be back on tour in Europe starting next week (click here to pop out tour banner). I was fortunate enough to see them two weeks ago headlining the inaugural Desertfest NYC (review here), and they were every bit the headlining act, professional in their delivery but still clearly passionate about what they do and with the kind of draw to anchor a festival lineup. Their last two albums, 2015’s landmark Lore (review here) and 2017’s Reflections of a Floating World (review here), have pushed them further along the progressive path, growing increasingly clearheaded in their purposes as they step forward from what Dead Roots Stirring and its 2012 companion EP, Spires Burn/Release (review here), accomplished, and their profile has only grown to match. The last album was doubly notable for being the point where they added a fourth member in guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg, and allowed themselves a little more room to explore different textures touching on psychedelia and jamming in ways they never had before. They’re slated to release a new EP along those lines called The Gold and Silver Sessions of instrumental work — kind of a one-off — but it will be interesting to hear when they embark on a fifth full-length if and how that plays into their sound.

Because if Elder‘s output over the last 11 years been anything, it’s been a narrative thread of progress, with each offering using the one before it as a springboard to new modes of expression. I won’t guess where their next record will take them in terms of sound, but I’ll be glad to find out when the time comes, just as I was that first time I put on Dead Roots Stirring years ago.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Oh, my aching head. Whenever I get a real-deal toothache, I think of that scene in Cast Away where Tom Hanks goes DIY-dentist on his mouth with an ice skate. Something on the stage left side of my mouth has been giving me similar impulses all week, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a distraction from writing. Last night I was up a few times overnight from the combined pain of the toothache plus the inevitable jaw clenching I do in my sleep because, well, unresolved trauma, I guess? I don’t know. Anyway, it hurt like a bastard to the point that 2AM found me downstairs digging the tube of Orajel out of the couch cushion to numb it up. Good fun.

So yes, this week, as American democracy develops yet-more cracks in its imitation-Roman marble and the UN says like a million species are dying because humans exist, I’ve been busy thinking about my hurty tooth. Is it the worst thing that’s every happened to anyone in the existence of mankind? Yes. It is. Sorry. It’s the worst.

It’s been two weeks since I properly closed out a week. Whoops. Two weeks ago was Desertfest NYC. That was fun. Last week was the New England Stoner and Doom Fest, and though I didn’t end up going — family matters; it happens — I didn’t really pull the plug on it until Friday afternoon, and as I was already in the car and driving, just didn’t have the opportunity to put something together. I only mention it because it was noted in a comment. If you’ve been aching for a Friday Full-Length, I thought Elder would probably do the job nicely. I hope that’s the case.

This past weekend was The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. The 15th episode. I’ve been talking this week to the program director, Brian Turner, about swapping out for a weekday shift, since apparently the Thursday replays have been going well. I think that’s pretty nifty. I didn’t really imagine doing the radio thing would last this long. I thought it would be a couple episodes, the audience would be like, “This isn’t Dave Mustaine — screw you!” and I’d get summarily shitcanned. Not to say it couldn’t still happen, but it hasn’t yet. I’ll keep you posted when the next episode is going to go live, but it looks like maybe Friday the 24th at 1PM Eastern? We’ll see if that’s final. I need to email Brian back, which I’ll do as soon as I finish writing this.

Neat either way, though, and twice as encouraging, because basically with that show I’m trying to play so much new stuff. I don’t know. It feels good to do a thing and have it be well received. That’s all. Give me my moment. I know it won’t last.

Next week is packed. I’ve been getting to the point where people hit me up for coverage and stuff and I’ve had to issue flat turn-downs. Not because I don’t want to cover whatever it is, just because everything’s already slated. It’s madness, I tell you.

Here are the notes, subject to change blah blah:

MON 05/13 LAMP OF THE UNIVERSE REVIEW
TUE 05/14 ETHEREAL RIFFIAN VID PREMIERE; LANGFINGER LIVE ALBUM TRACK PREMIERE
WED 05/15 SLOMATICS PREMIERE
THU 05/16 KALEIDOBOLT TRACK PREMIERE
FRI 05/17 VALLEY OF THE SUN ALBUM STREAM

There might also be another video premiere on Monday if I can properly coordinate it in time. If not, maybe later in the week? I don’t know. This week was oddly light on news, but I’ve already got stuff slated for Monday — friggin’ Truckfighters are putting together a festival in Stockholm; thanks guys, I was gonna do that! — so that’s good. I feel better when I’m playing catchup.

But seriously, new Slomatics, Kaleidobolt, Valley of the Sun and Langfinger next week? All premieres? And a new Ethereal Riffian video? Even if nothing else happens, that’s a pretty badass week right there. I’m stoked to be doing a Slomatics premiere. Their new album frickin’ fantastic. Likewise Valley of the Sun. Two year-end-listers for sure.

Alright, this post has gone on long enough and I won’t delude myself into thinking anyone’s still reading, but if you are, thanks for doing so. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and I hope you check out the forum, radio stream and merch over at Dropout.

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Friday Full-Length: Unida & Dozer, Double EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Unida & Dozer, Double EP (1999)

Unida and Dozer in 1999. Each with an EP, teaming up to put them out together on CD via a then relatively-nascent MeteorCity. I ask you, what’s not to dig about that? And if you can ever get past the hook of Unida‘s “Red” — no easy feat, mind you — you’ll find the whole release has something to offer as regards peak post-Kyuss-era heavy rock. The Californian desert and Sweden never sounded closer together than they do here.

The Best of Wayne-Gro was the first Unida release, and it was put out by MeteorCity as a standalone in 1998 before being included in this split. Of course, Unida was John Garcia‘s next project after the dissolution of Slo Burn and Kyuss before that, and with the fuzz of guitarist Arthur Seay (now of House of Broken Promises), the bass of Jerry Montano (HellyeahDanzig, etc.) and the drums of Miguel Cancino (also now of House of Broken Promises) behind him, the band was a powerhouse from the start. They’d hold on to some sense of jammy looseness with Garcia‘s “what the fuck?” freakout shouts in “Wet Pussycat,” which finished out their section of the split, and “Delta Alba Plex” before that began to depart somewhat from the more rigid structure of “Red” and opener “Flower Girl,” but one way or the other, Unida offered primo desert rock in this first outing and filled the listener with hope for what they might go on to accomplish together.

The groove was immediate on “Flower Girl,” and Garcia rode on top of it as only he seems to be able to do, his cadence and the guttural push in his voice entirely his own. Unida‘s always been thought of as a “John Garcia band” along with the likes of Hermano and Slo Burn — that is, I don’t know if the group would’ve worked with a different singer, which is likely part of why Seay put together House of Broken Promises and left Unida to reunite as their own thing when the time came in 2013 — but the entire band was on point. Listen to Cancino‘s drumming at the start of “Red.” He’s carrying that entire build himself, moving to his toms and cymbals before taking off on the crash for the chorus. The fuzz features, naturally, and I won’t take away from Seay‘s solo later in the track, but in terms of propulsion, it’s the drums all the way, and they hold together the nod of “Delta Alba Plex” as well before “Wet Pussycat” kind of pulls itself apart at the end after that sweet, laid back roll in its first half. I’m not the first person to say it, and this is by no means the first time I’ve said it, but what a band. What potential. And do you know what the craziest part is? If you put SeayCancino and Garcia in a studio today, they’d absolutely crush it. I’m sure I don’t need to recount for you the story of their lost albumThe Great Divide, which would’ve followed up their 1999 debut, Coping with the Urban Coyote (discussed here). Bottom line: some you win, some you lose. We all lost on that one.

Of course, Unida wasn’t the only act brimming with potential on the release, and like them, Dozer had issued their four-song Coming Down the Mountain EP as a standalone the year prior. Recorded in the band’s native Borlänge, Sweden, it stands as an ultra-early release for them as well, following their 1998 demo, Universe 75 (discussed here), and preceding a why-the-hell-has-no-one-compiled-these-for-reissue series of three splits with fellow Swedes Demon Cleaner that would be released over the course of ’98 and ’99. At the time, Dozer were guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, guitarist Tommi Holappa (now Greenleaf), bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall — the latter two now of Besvärjelsen), and the same lineup would go on to make three full-lengths together, 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here) and 2001’s Madre de Dios on Man’s Ruin and 2002’s Call it Conspiracy (discussed here) on Molten Universe before parting ways with Bäckwall and working with producer/percussionist Karl Daniel Lidén — by then formerly of Demon Cleaner — for 2005’s more aggressive Through the Eyes of Heathens. Here though, they sound raw in comparison to the more experienced Unida, and man does it work for them.

I’m a big fan of what Dozer ultimately became. I think Through the Eyes of Heathens and their 2008 swansong, Beyond Colossal, were nothing short of incredible achievements of individualism in heavy rock, and if you want to know where they might’ve gone next, pick up Greenleaf‘s 2012 album, Nest of Vipers (review here), and go forward from there. That said, early Dozer — along with earliest Natas and just about no one else — offers some of the most natural sounding not-from-the-desert desert rock you’ll ever hear. “Headed for the Sun” is a near-perfect execution of what at the time was barely a genre, and to follow it with the roll of “Calamari Sidetrip” — the watery effect on Nordin‘s vocals almost acting as a tie to Garcia‘s — and the psychedelic guitar work there offset by the all-thrust of the drum-led “From Mars” and the consuming fuzz of “Overheated,” Dozer sound like a young band, to be sure, but their energy is infectious as it would remain throughout their career. Something else they still have in common with Unida? Put these guys in a studio today, and yeah, they’d absolutely destroy.

I thought maybe I’d bug former MeteorCity honcho Jadd Shickler and see what he had to say about it as one of the guys who put it out. Here’s what he had on the subject:

“Within our first year of trying to figure out what the hell it meant to run a record label, we’d managed to open a communication line to ex-Kyuss/Slo Burn singer John Garcia and his new band Unida. We were also on the forefront of exploring the new contingent of Kyuss-inspired bands in Sweden. With the Nebula/Lowrider double EP coming together so beautifully, we wanted to continue on that magic path. Debuting the first recordings anywhere from Unida, which saw a more in-your-face vocal style than anyone had heard from John with Kyuss or Slo Burn, paired with (I think) the first worldwide release from Dozer, who would grow into an internationally-known stoner-rock juggernaut themselves, was perfect synchronicity. The songs were badass, and the sense of significance was palpable. It was pretty much impossible to ever tap into that early sense of trailblazing discovery in quite the same way again.”

The Double EP split has a special place in stoner rock history, and the quality of the material on it is unmistakable and a banner example of the best of its era. MeteorCity reissued it circa 2005, so I think copies still exist someplace on the planet.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I just went for a walk in the parking lot of the townhouse where I live. Back and forth with the little dog Dio. Apparently that’s a thing I do now. It’s quarter-to-six in the morning. I’ve been up since three. Somehow though, if my impressions during semi-conscious rollovers and getting up to go to the bathroom twice (11PM and 1AM, like clockwork) are anything to go by, I think The Patient Mrs. slept even worse. I was out early. I don’t know that it was 8:30PM. Pretty soon I’ll be asleep before the sun goes down. Hell if I care. I’m up before it’s up, so that makes some kind of sense. As much as anything.

I hear next week is the Quarterly Review. Well, I’ve done all of jack shit to prepare for it at this point and I think I just might decide to make it a six-dayer unless at the end of next week I’m so mentally burnt I can’t handle the prospect of going the additional day — which is certainly possible given everything else slated for the week as well. Dig the notes, subject of course to change:

Mon.: QR1, Greenbeard video premiere.
Tue.: QR2, Black Rainbows review/stream.
Wed.: QR3, Gozu review/track premiere.
Thu.: QR4, new Green Druid video.
Fri.: QR5, Rancho Bizzarro EP stream.

My brain aches thinking about it. Also I’ve got family in town this afternoon and tomorrow and I’m going to a Passover Seder tomorrow night at the home of one of The Patient Mrs.’ longtime friends down on Cape Cod. None of my pants fit. None of my shirts fit. If you need me, I’ll be drowning my anxiety in bran flakes and soy milk and sumo oranges. Also meds.

Oh yeah, plus five-month-old. The Pecan had a banner week. Dude’s clean vocals need some work, but he’s a screamer with the best of ’em.

I was in the grocery store the other day though — I grocery shop like every fucking day; it’s a thing to do with the baby and an unfortunate side-effect of eating food — and this leaving-middle-age dude in front of me in line turned around, saw the baby in the car seat in the cart and said, “I did that for 15 years before it was really accepted,” obviously talking about house-husbanding because it was the middle of the day. He had a pretty thick Massaccent, so I didn’t pick up everything he said, but I told him in response that it turns out it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. That’s not really true — I also want to write, all the time — but in terms of work, it’s incredibly difficult and only going to become more so once he’s verbal and mobile, but it beats the living shit out of every single job I’ve ever had. So yeah. Dude looked surprised. I was a little surprised too, I guess.

Then I went home and walked in the parking lot and told the little guy about snow melting and becoming water again. Somehow I doubt that’s the last time I’ll have that conversation.

Times continue to be hard in my head. Really hard. I see things and they set me off, like the dinner jacket that used to be my grandfather’s that I wore to my grandmother’s funeral that will never fit me again, and I get really sad. My nutritionist keeps telling me not to think about my body as a number, i.e. a weight. I’m not. I’m thinking of it as a thing that doesn’t fit into any of its clothes. Given where I was three months ago, it sucks to be where I am now. The doctor took more blood this week. I can’t even remember why.

Alright, I don’t really want to turn this post into a poor-fat-me piss party, so I’m going to leave eating disorder discussion there. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m expecting a call any minute now from The Patient Mrs. for me to go upstairs and change the baby, so that’s something. Anyway, have fun and be safe. Quarterly Review starts Monday and don’t forget the forum and radio stream in the meantime. Thanks for reading.

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Friday Full-Length: Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel EP (1999)

To my ears, Spirit Caravan is the blues, plain and simple. Like the best of the classic blues, it could be, but didn’t always have to be dark or depressing or aggressive in order to be heavy or to convey a sense of weight. It’s been a couple years at this point, so if you don’t remember, you’re certainly forgiven, but I used to run a regular weekly feature around here called Wino Wednesday. I quite literally did 200 of them. And yes, Spirit Caravan‘s 1999 Dreamwheel EP (on MeteorCity) was discussed as part of that series, but as we move toward Springtime, it’s hard for me not to go back to this band and this short release in particular, precisely because it’s that combination of hopeful and heavy that’s so rare, not only in the canon of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, but in the wider sphere of heavy as a whole. And where there is happy heavy, it’s almost never done so well or to such a degree of each as it felt natural for Spirit Caravan to represent. They hit the balance just right.

And yeah, I could have closed out the week (and probably will at some point close out a week) with Spirit Caravan‘s landmark 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun (discussed here), or that record’s 2001 follow-up, Elusive Truth, or even their 2003 swansong compilation The Last Embrace, but Dreamwheel has a special feel about it. I won’t take anything away from Jug Fulla Sun, and if we’re picking favorite Spirit Caravan records, that’s my pick, but for the fact that Dreamwheel clocks in at under 20 minutes long, has five easy-rolling tracks, and asks nothing more of its audience than a bit of nod, I just feel like it’s the sonic equivalent of an unexpected compliment. Right? Like someone coming up to you and saying something nice out of the blue. “Oh, here’s Dreamwheel,” and instantly your day is better. I don’t know a lot of releases, full-length, EP, or otherwise, that can pull that off in the kind of lasting way that Dreamwheel does, beginning with the six-minute opening title-track’s examination of spirituality, bouncing groove, aliens or who knows what else is going on in there. I won’t profess to, but it rounds out with the line, “You’ve got to dream and keep on rollin’,” and as rock and roll sentiments go, that’s a tough one to beat. As happens with a lot of short releases (and albums, for that matter), Dreamwheel becomes in large part defined by its titular cut. Not only is “Dreamwheel” the longest inclusion (plus opener equals immediate points), but the tone it sets plays into the following “Burnin’ In,” the cymbal-abrasion-into-guitar-led-scorch of “Re-Alignment / Higher Power,” and into the closing pair of “Sun Stoned” and “C, Yourself” as well.

Through it all, Wino, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Sherman (who’d shortly move on to his first release with Earthride) and drummer Gary Isom showed with no small thanks to the Chris Kozlowski recording job their utter mastery of that righteous, potent brew that was their own and that has never been anyone else’s, even among other “Wino bands,” whether that’s The ObsessedThe Hidden HandWino (actually, the shortlived Wino band came closest), Premonition 13 or whoever. All at the same time, it’s a sound that’s classic in its construction and influence, modern in its presentation, natural in tone, laid back, heavy, consuming but accessible, at once of Maryland doom tradition and working in defiance of it. That scene — and please don’t take this as a slight against Maryland doom, which if you read this site, ever, you know I hold dear — has never produced another band like Spirit Caravan, and Spirit Caravan only made one Dreamwheel EP.

It’s a moment in time that never came again. As they moved on to Elusive Truth in 2001, their sound took on a doomier feel, and in 2002, Spirit Caravan would call it a day as Sherman went on to focus on EarthrideWino joined Place of Skulls for a time and launched The Hidden Hand, whose debut, Divine Propaganda, arrived in 2003, and Isom floated between a host of acts, among them NitroseedValkyrieUnorthodox and Pentagram. Of course the band got back together, first with the original lineup, and then not, in 2014 and played live shows and started to work on new material, but would disintegrate again as that reunion transitioned into one for The Obsessed, whose new LP, Sacred, is out next week on Relapse Records with a recording lineup of WinoSherman and drummer Brian Costantino, who had replaced Isom in Spirit Caravan‘s final to-date incarnation.

Got all that? Bottom line is Dreamwheel, while short, is a record of which it’s worth basking in every minute. There is no moment on it that does not satisfy or does not enrich the listener, and I hope that as you make your way through it, you have the experience I referred to above, and you come out of it feeling better than you did going in. Think of it as my way of saying something nice.

Even if you don’t get there, as always, I hope you enjoy.

I took today off work. One doesn’t want to oversell it by calling it the best decision I’ve ever made, but it certainly is glorious. Don’t get me wrong, most days, I don’t hate my job. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. But as I roll steadily into middle age — I’m 36 in October — I realize more and more that office life, working for someone else, corporate or small company, isn’t what I want to be doing with my days.

As a kid, I watched my father sweat and travel and stress for a series of jobs he hated because he felt like it was what he needed to do to support his family. He wanted to die. Literally. For years. Part of that is chemical, as I know from my own experience, but as I sit in my kitchen on this morning off and watch the sun come up across my backyard, I know that while on some levels he was right — my family wouldn’t have gotten by in the same way on my mom’s public school teacher’s salary — there’s another kind of value at play as well, and that’s the value of making your existence bearable. Because when you’re miserable like that, it bleeds into everyone around you. I know this.

So yeah, I don’t want to work anymore. Not in an office. Not full-time. It might take me years to make something else happen, but that change is something I need to do to make my life what I want it to be, because I’ll tell you, right now I have the greatest job I’ve ever had and probably the greatest job I’ll ever have and there are still plenty of days in the week where I wake up dreading going to it. The commute, the air, the loud people, the commute back. All of it. It’s just not where I want to be. I don’t even feel like a person some days. I counted minutes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday to get to this morning.

And I know we need money even though we’re broke no matter how much we bring in, but I also feel like I owe it to The Patient Mrs. not to be so god damn wretched all the time. That’s where my head is at.

Appreciating the day, then, and trying to make it as weekend-y as possible. I’ve got my huge YOB shirt on (I call it “my weekend YOB shirt,” and rest assured, I’ll be wearing it until Monday) and my lined pajamas and my warm socks (those I’ll change), and I’m listening to the new Siena Root for the first time and sipping my coffee. The dog’s in her bed in the corner and life is good and restorative, and moments like this are what it’s about. In a while The Patient Mrs. will come downstairs and have breakfast and I’ll make another pot and put some protein powder in one of the cups, and we’ll talk about the day to come. It’s going to be a good one. I can feel it already.

We’re heading into April; deeper into 2017. I hope you’re doing well.

Thanks if you got to check out any of the Quarterly Review this week. That means a lot to me, and I appreciate it when people can put eyes to things like that. I know 50 reviews is a lot to keep up with — believe me — but if you found something you dig, that’s awesome.

Next week is slammed as well as of now. Here’s what’s on tap, subject to change as always:

Mon.: Closet Disco Queen review/EP stream and Elder Druid video.
Tue.: Lord Loud review/premiere, Greenbeard video premiere.
Wed.: Ides of Gemini Six Dumb Questions, The Obsessed review, maybe Cultura Tres video.
Thu.: Arc of Ascent review/track premiere, Beastwars video (NZ day!)
Fri.: Electric Moon review, other stuff.

Truth be told, I’ve got reviews and premieres planned through the better part of April already. I know what I’ll be doing every day between now and Roadburn, and there’s some stuff locked in already for May and more to come, so yeah. Plenty going on. Things are getting full earlier, which is validating in a way, but as I finish one Quarterly Review I’ve already started to think about the next, and there are times where it’s overwhelming. Mostly Tuesdays, oddly. Tuesday’s always my roughest day.

A note about The Obelisk Radio: We’ve been running on the backup server for the last several weeks since the hard drive crashed. I bought a new drive — it’s 4TB, so eventually there will be even more space to work with — and Slevin is in the process of switching everything over, but it’s taking a really long time because the old busted drive apparently has a shit-ton of bad data. Turns out maybe running it 24 hours a day/seven days a week took a toll in some way? Crazy, I know. In any case, it’s still going to be a while. I have another round of radio adds slated for April 10 and I’m not sure if we’ll be back on the full playlist by then, but it’s a work in progress and if you listen regularly, I appreciate your patience with it.

Alright. Can’t imagine I haven’t gone on long enough. If you’re still reading this, thanks.

I hope you have or have had a wonderful day, depending I suppose on your time zone, and that you enjoy a great and safe weekend. See you back here on Monday for more, and in the meantime please check out the forum, the (backup) radio stream, and the new The Obelisk page on Thee Facebooks.

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Snail Post Live Video of “Blood” from The Obelisk All-Dayer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

snail at the obelisk all-dayer

If you’ll allow me a sentimental moment: I remember quite clearly standing in front of the stage at Kimo’s in San Francisco in 2010 and singing along with Snail‘s Mark Johnson and Matt Lynch to the titular hook of their 2009 return album, Blood (review here). It was among the greatest joys of the day to do so again this past August at The Obelisk All-Dayer at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Some time passed between the two events, obviously, and Snail have put out two more records in the meantime in 2012’s Terminus (review here) and 2015’s Feral (review here) and shifted from a four-piece back to the original trio of Johnson on guitar, Lynch on bass and drummer Marty Dodson, but still, it was something special.

When I announced The Obelisk All-Dayer was a thing that was happening, Snail were among the first acts who got in touch with me, offering to make their way across the continent for what would be their first East Coast appearance ever in a history that stretched as far back as their 1993 self-titled debut (review here). The generosity of that gesture was unbelievable, but the truth of the matter is I’d already dreamed of having Snail involved in the show, as Feral was so decisively their best album to-date and those songs ones I very, very much wanted to see brought to life onstage. I’m hardly an impartial observer at this point, but they were even better in Brooklyn than they’d been six years earlier in California.

The video below for “Blood” was recorded at The Obelisk All-Dayer and takes footage captured by the esteemed Frank Huang and Jennifer Hendrix and manipulates it with some additional psychedelic weirdness suited to the overall vibe. But listen to the sound as well. Snail were so on-point that I was just blown away, and as I watch “Blood,” I can only keep my fingers crossed they follow this up with a companion clip for “Thou Art That,” or, you know, a tape release of the whole set. Either way. No pressure. Ha.

I’ve included the full-stream of Feral at the bottom of this post also. I know you’ve heard it, but hell, you should hear it again.

And please enjoy:

Snail, “Blood” at The Obelisk All-Dayer official live video

Happy New Year! The high point of 2016 (for us) was getting to play The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn. Matt combined footage from a variety of sources and the board tracks and created a really trippy video of our performance of ‘Blood.’ Check it out! See if you can find the footage of a person giving blood at a blood bank…

Video and Sound Production: Matt Lynch
Footage courtesy of Frank Huang and Jennifer Hendrix. Photos by Jennifer Hendrix.

Special Thanks to: Jennifer Hendrix, Frank Huang, JJ Koczan and The Obelisk and all the folks who came to rock.

Snail, Feral (2015)

Snail on Thee Facebooks

Snail website

Snail at Small Stone Records

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Friday Full-Length: Nebula & Lowrider, Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Nebula & Lowrider, Split (1999)

A full 17 years after the fact, it’s hard not to romanticize a release like the 1999 split between California’s Nebula and Sweden’s Lowrider. Hard not to look at the Arik Roper cover art — so goddamn righteous as it is — or to hear the (mostly) Jack Endino production on Nebula‘s tracks or the blatant post-Kyussism of Lowrider‘s “Lameneshma” and not say to yourself, “This is when stoner rock was stoner rock.” That designation is ultimately meaningless. Aesthetic was no less malleable back then than it is now, and the “stoner rock” of the mid-to-late ’90s was nothing if not part of a changing face of underground heavy that was already around for a quarter-century at that point and persists now, nearly 20 years later — still changing, still remaking itself, still moving forward. That, however, does not preclude a release like this one from representing a special moment within that process.

Issued in April 1999 by MeteorCity, the split followed roughly a month after Nebula‘s Sun Creature EP on Man’s Ruin Records — the tracks from which would be compiled with those from this release and a couple new songs on 2002’s Dos EPs, which I’ll feature around here one of these days, no doubt — and only about four months before their debut album, To the Center (discussed here), came out on Tee Pee. Meanwhile, for Lowrider, it served as an introductory moment for what must’ve at the time seemed like a next step in the kind of desert rock worship that Dozer were offering on their earliest records. And listening to the sweet fuzz proliferated on the instrumental “Upon the Dune,” which closes out the release, maybe it was, but in context of the time of its arrival, they had yet to follow it with the watershed moment of 2000’s Ode to Io (discussed here) and were just a new band paired with a Californian act that had some dudes who used to be in Fu Manchu in it.

Yeah, it’s weird to think of Nebula that way as well, both because as they went on through To the Center and subsequent albums like 2001’s Charged, 2003’s Atomic Ritual, 2006’s Apollo and 2009’s Heavy Psych (review here) they’d craft their own legacy so distinct from that of the band from whom they brought on board bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano (now guitarist/vocalist in The Freeks), and because over those same years the lineup would change so much around guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass. Since their sort-of-breakup in 2010 (see here and here, in that order), Nebula‘s name has been the one that seems to be more glaringly missing from the constant roster of reunions. Think about the bands from that same era who’ve come back. Some like Fu Manchu never left, but to have DozerSpirit Caravan and indeed Lowrider at least get back to playing shows and Nebula continue to be MIA, the attitude-laden swing of “Anything from You” and “Back to the Dawn” feels all the more like a vacant space since no one else has been able to capture it in quite the same way since their fadeout. I’ve heard rumors of various sorts about the state of the band and some of them just kind of make me sad, but in these tracks they hit with maximum vitality and their absence makes appreciating them seem all the more worthwhile.

With social media in its relative infancy at the time, at least compared to how it’s swallowed our collective current horror-show reality, the number of people who picked up on what Lowrider were doing with their included four cuts was probably nowhere near where it should’ve been. You could easily say the same of Ode to Io a year later, but here they revel in an even warmer production than on the subsequent debut. One can hear the difference from the start of “Lameneshma” and in the fuzz-laden nod of “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun.” They were, like DozerColour Haze and a select few others, years ahead of their time, and though much of the impact and enduring influence they’d have would come from Ode to Io, in hindsight, these songs became a kind of complement to that. Sure, they were released first, but no question that “Shivaree” and “Upon the Dune,” when taken as the other crucial (and just about only) component in the Lowrider catalog, add something to the mix that makes the LP an even richer experience. How no one has done a complete discography release with these tracks, the album tracks, the version of “Lameneshma” from Lowrider‘s 1997 split 7″ with Sparzanza (review here) and any other odds and ends is well beyond me.

I’m also still hopeful that one of these days will bring word of a new Lowrider studio release. It’s coming up on four years now since they started doing sporadic festival gigs — they played Desertfest in 2013 (review here), will do so again in 2017 (info here) — but that remains wishful thinking on my part until something is confirmed. Nonetheless, like with Nebula‘s songs, Lowrider‘s inclusions on this split seem all the more precious for the relative dearth of public material they’ve issued compared to how vast their influence has been. It would’ve been hard to recognize this as a milestone at the time — 1999 was like The Year of Magical Riffing — but it was, and as worldwide heavy continues its constant outward expansion, it’s all the more reason to dig in and get a fuller picture of from whence that comes.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Speaking of magical, I took this past Monday off work, and it was absolutely incredible. A real day off. No travel, no running around in a panic doing weekend errands that I know I won’t be able to do during the week, no dragging my ass off the couch to clean in the limited daylight hours. Just sitting on ass, listening to music, writing, and hanging out with The Patient Mrs. To say it was everything I want my life to be — with the recognition that I’d have chores to do eventually — would be underselling it. I felt genuinely refreshed as a human being in a way I rarely, rarely do.

So nothing else to do but dive into stuff like the Top 20 Debuts list that went up yesterday, last-minute album streams and fest writeups and putting together back end of the impending Top 30 — which, spoiler alert: actually goes to 50 this year — that’ll be posted on next Tuesday and become completely overwhelmed all over again, right? Right? Right.

Oh and then the week after Xmas is the Quarterly Review. Who decides this shit?

If I didn’t so much enjoy the process of grinding myself into the ground, I’d almost think maybe it wasn’t good for my general sense of well-being.

I posted on Thee Facebooks about a sponsorship deal for the site. It’s happening. Starts in January. More info to come.

In the meantime, here’s what’s in the notes for next week, all tentative of course:

Mon.: Review/full stream of the new Necro, new video from Bright Curse.
Tue.: The Top 30 of 2016.
Wed.: Sgt. Sunshine review.
Thu.: Surya Kris Peters review.
Fri.: Either a track premiere or album stream from Larman Clamor, still TBD.

There’s a lot of news already to catch up on as well, which is good because I expect it’ll be a light week with the impending holiday and all. All the better as it’s more time to set up for the Quarterly Review and get that rolling. Did I mention I’m thinking of adding a sixth day this time? Well I am. We’ll see.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and I hope you’ll please take the time to check out the forum and the radio stream — and if you haven’t yet, to enter your best-of list into the 2016 Year-End Poll. Thanks again for reading.

The Obelisk 2016 Year-End Poll

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Friday Full-Length: Solace, 13

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Solace, 13 (2003)

None more Jersey. With the not-always-underlying current of hardcore punk in their sound, their ‘Die Drunk’ mantra, the sheer force of their delivery, and the absolute dogshit luck that has plagued them since their inception, Solace are about as Garden State as Garden State gets. Born of the same Red Bank/Long Branch-area heavy scene (oh, I do remember some shows at the Brighton Bar… vaguely) that ignited the likes of Monster Magnet, Core, Drag PackThe Atomic Bitchwax, The Ribeye Brothers, Halfway to Gone, Daisycutter, Solarized, Lord Sterling, on and on, Solace started life as Godspeed and like Core, were picked up by Atlantic Records, for whom they’d release one album. Guitarist Tommy Southard and bassist Rob Hultz — the latter now also in doom legends Trouble — recruited singly-named, massively-talented and no-you-can’t-see-my-lyrics vocalist Jason and ran through a slew of drummers during the period of their 1998 self-titled EP and subsequent split with Solarized, which led into their 2000 debut, Further. Released by MeteorCity, that was an album ahead of its time, and it would be another three years before Solace were able to make the follow-up that would ultimately embody the tumult that has in large part always defined them: 2003’s 13.

Southard, Hultz, Jason and no fewer than four drummers — John Proveaux, Keith Ackerman, Bill “Bixby” Belford and Matt Gunvordahl — combined across, sure enough, 13 songs to make a record of near impossible cohesion. The kind of album one puts on, listens through, hears cuts like “King Alcohol,” “Common Cause” (with its Wino guest appearance from before that was a thing people did), the opening classic/modern meld of “Loving Sickness/Burning Fuel,” the raw aggression of “In the Oven,” the swinging Pentagram cover “Forever My Queen” (again, from long before everyone had their own version), the languid initial roll of “Try,” the conquering individualized blend that surfaces in “Rice Burner,” and so on, feels like they have a good understanding of, then gets through the end of bonus track “Shit Kisser” and is in a the-hell-did-I-just-witness daze for the rest of the day. Like few before or since, Solace have been able to bend chaos to their will. Part of that is personality — if you’re fortunate enough to know Tommy, it makes more sense — but part of it also originates in an inimitable complexity of songwriting that still comes through clear in its intent toward kicking ass, and with its punker roots, is never in danger of losing its way in a wash of pretentious technicality. Metal, punk, classic heavy and more all seemed to be in Solace‘s wheelhouse on 13, and over the course of the unmanageable, CD-era hour-plus runtime, Solace pivoted between them and drew them together in a ferocious, vibrant attack that no one, in Jersey or out, has been able to match, on stage or in studio. Sorry. No one.

True to form, it would be seven years before 13 got its own follow-up. They released two EPs, Hammerhead and The Black Black, in 2004 and 2007, respectively, with the lineup solidified around SouthardHultzJason, guitarist Justin Daniels and drummer Kenny Lund, but it still wasn’t until 2010 that their third full-length, A.D. (review here), arrived as their ultimate, and to-date final, triumph. No doubt it’ll be featured in this space at some point as well, but it was my pick for Album of the Year that year, and I stand by that entirely. At the time, it seemed Solace were back and ready to roll. I talked about it as the beginning of a new era for the band. Well, in 2012 they broke up, so there you go. They played what was to be their last show headlining at Days of the Doomed II (review here) in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and then were done until a semi-reunion brought SouthardDaniels and Hultz together with drummer Tim Schoenleber and vocalist/keyboardist Justin Goins for an appearance at 2015’s Vultures of Volume II (review here) in Maryland, playing on the bill directly under their one-time compatriots in Spirit Caravan, on their own reunion.

As to what the future holds, I wouldn’t dare to predict. The new incarnation of the band were in the studio as recently as this summer and fall working on new material, though to what end, I don’t know. Chaos remains a factor never far from the center of what they do, but I’ll note that we are coming up on seven years since A.D. in 2017, which would match the span between that and 13 before it.

Whether it’s new to you or old, I hope you enjoy 13. I’ve been a fan of the band for a long time, played shows with them, seen them more times than I could or would like to count and still pronounce their name “sol-ah-chay” in the spirit of Puny Human frontman Jim Starace (R.I.P., four years this month), but I can still hear new things in this album, and my sincere wish is that you do as well.

Thanks for reading.

Had to be something from New Jersey to close out this week, since I’m down here visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I don’t get to see my people that often, at least not en masse, and as I’ve gotten older and as the physical distance has settled in over the past few years since The Patient Mrs. and I moved north, I’ve come to miss them dearly. My nephews are growing up and I don’t get to be a part of it in the way I otherwise would. It makes me sad, and it makes me appreciate the chances I do get to be with them all the more. They’re eight (going on nine, he’d want me to note) and six now. The years fly.

If you’re in the States, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, however you marked the day. Like a lot of stuff about this country, it has a pretty fucked origin, what with all that genocide of the land’s native people and culture — ongoing; look at DAPL — but at least it’s become a holiday less about cashing in and more about sitting down to a meal with loved ones, whatever rampant consumerism might happen the day after. It’s a little easier for me to take that than the holidays about selling greeting cards or candy or whatever else. Anyway, hope you enjoyed yours as I enjoyed mine.

Tonight, we head back north, The Patient Mrs. and I. Exhausting, but worth it in order to wake up at home tomorrow in our own bed. I will make myself an entire pot of coffee, as is my wont, and drink it leisurely as I begin to put stuff together for next week and play the Final Fantasy V remake on my cheapie tablet. Here are my current notes for what’s coming up:

Mon: Comacozer LP review and Year of the Cobra video premiere.
Tue: Akris review and Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters video premiere.
Wed: Megaritual LP review and Black Moon Circle video.
Thu: The 2016 Readers Poll goes live. Yup, it’s Dec. 1 already. Also Backwoods Payback review.
Fri: Right now it’s a Child review, though that might shift depending on what else comes through.

Some of that still needs to be organized, but it’s a basic running plan anyhow. It’s a start. Whatever it winds up being, I appreciate you taking the time to read.

Please have a great and safe (holiday) weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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Jadd Shickler Joins Magnetic Eye Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

I’ve been in touch with MeteorCity co-founder Jadd Shickler since I was a sniveling college kid sending out cold-call emails looking to get labels to send me CDs to play on my dinky stoner rock radio show. When he sold off the label and its All That’s Heavy webstore to the crew from StonerRock.com, it was legitimately the end of an era that brought great records from the likes of NebulaUnidaSolaceLowrider and many more, and as such, it’s great to see him step back into the game in joining forces with Mike Vitali as part of Magnetic Eye RecordsShickler has been writing for The Ripple Effect for a while now, and as a next stage of re-involvement in heavy rock, this seems like an awesome way to go.

The news came down the PR wire, as I expect much more will continue to do from Magnetic Eye from here on out. Cheers to Shickler and Vitali and all the best of luck:

jadd-shickler

MeteorCity founder joins Magnetic Eye

Through an unexpected cosmic confluence of entrepreneurial ambition and musical obsession, a significant addition has been made to the MER core team: original MeteorCity and All That’s Heavy co-founder and former label boss Jadd Shickler has joined Magnetic Eye as Director of Label Operations.

You may remember MeteorCity’s string of milestone releases from Nebula, Spirit Caravan, Solace, Dozer and Blind Dog, not to mention the first music released anywhere from scene icons like Unida, Lowrider, The Atomic Bitchwax, and Sixty Watt Shaman. Needless to say, Shickler’s instincts and experience are certain to help push Magnetic Eye to even greater successes going forward.

“We actually have Elephant Tree to thank for this,” Shickler says. “I’d been writing for a couple music blogs, and among all the new stuff coming my way in early 2016 was this massive record from a truly amazing band. I got to work on an Elephant Tree piece for The Ripple Effect, which brought me in touch with Mike Vitali at their label. It turned out he’d done the Solace/Greatdayforup split when I still had Solace signed, so that helped me appreciate where he was coming from. After signing off on the sale of MeteorCity in 2008, I stayed away from the music biz for a while, eventually landing in digital marketing. But working in music was my first professional love, and I’d been itching to get back to it – I just needed to wait till the moment felt right. When Mike made it known that he was looking to expand his team, the moment felt right.”

One of the first things Shickler has done since coming on board is to get MER’s retail distribution on track by leveraging existing partnerships and establishing new ones. Beginning with our MEANTIME [Redux] release in September, your favorite record shops across North America and the United Kingdom (Brexit be damned) will be able to bring in Magnetic Eye’s glorious limited edition LPs and digipak CDs via our distribution partners The Orchard (USA) and Plastic Head (UK), not to mention All That’s Heavy.

“I had become more serious about partnerships and growing the label,” Vitali says, “so when Jadd and I connected over his Elephant Tree piece for Ripple, I realized it was a once in a lifetime moment. I had been a huge fan of MeteorCity and All That’s Heavy, and truly believe that teaming up with him is one of the best decisions I’ve made since starting out. These first five years have really been a lot of trial and error, so with Jadd bringing all his experience to the table, I feel like we’re ready to apply what we know to help make a real impact for both the bands and the fans. I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him.”

http://www.merhq.net/
store.merhq.com
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords/

Various Artists, Meantime [Redux]

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