Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Cool bands playing good shows, there’s nothing not to like about New York blues rockers Geezer heading out for a run of gigs alongside Michigan four-piece Bison Machine. The tour is five dates and it starts in Pittsburgh on May 26 with Sinister Haze on the bill, and wraps in Brooklyn on May 30 with The Golden Grass and Wolf Blood. Right on.
Geezer recently parted ways with bassist Freddy Villano and added Richie Touseull to the lineup, so they’ll no doubt be looking to continue to refine the new trio chemistry between Touseull, guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington and drummer Chris Turco following a weekender April 24 and 25 alongside D.C. heavy rollers Borracho, who are also Geezer‘s compatriots in the first installment of Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits. That’s out in June.
For Bison Machine, they’ll head out from their native Hamtramck (and why isn’t there a band called Hamtramck?), MI, to support their early 2015 release, Hoarfrost, which was put out by the band digitally in February but will be released in Spring on Bilocation Records. They’ll play the release show for the Bilocation vinyl as part of the tour, on May 27 at Small‘s in Detroit.
The always-on-point Pat Harrington shared the following info and super-stoner-rock-booby-lady show poster via the PR wire:
Geezer/Bison Machine Tour
We’re real excited about this upcoming excursion, which we dubbed the Mind Over Mountain Tour. Highlights include Bison Machine’s vinyl release party in Detroit and a killer lineup to close out the week with Wolf Blood and The Golden Grass at Lucky 13 Saloon in Brooklyn! All the bands along the way are sick, but we are especially jazzed about sharing the stage with Wizard Eye and Sinister Haze!
It’s the first proper tour (longer than a weekender) for both Bison Machine & Geezer. Geezer has been working out a bunch of new material since the arrival of our new bass player Richie Touseull and we’ll be taking this opportunity to try it all out live. We also will be playing songs from our upcoming split with Borracho, The Second Coming Of Heavy: Chapter One, which is slated for release in June through Ripple Music.
Tuesday May 26th @ 31st St Pub, Pittsburg, PA w/ Sinister Haze & TBA Wednesday May 27th @ Small’s, Detroit, MI w/ Wild Savages & SLO (Bison Machine: Hoarfrost vinyl release party) Thursday May 28th @ Blind Bob’s, Dayton, OH w/ Grand Mammoth & Zuel Friday May 29th @ The Living Room, Stroudsburg PA w/ Wizard Eye Saturday May 30th @ Lucky 13 Saloon, Brooklyn, NY w/ The Golden Grass & Wolf Blood
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before they split out for Europe in April and, presumably once reaching its shores decide never to return, Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan will hit the road like they do with Detroit speedfreaks Against the Grain. The tour will be in the north and northeast, which should be almost thinking about thawing out by then, and is set to start March 12 and run until March 22. For Lo-Pan, they’re out supporting last year’s Colossus (review here), while the oft-touring Against the Grain will have by that time recorded their fourth album, which is set to release later in 2015.
Like I said, after this, Lo-Pan are off to Europe alongside Black Pyramid, but it’s worth noting that this will be their first tour with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, so it should be a chance for them to further solidify before they go. They’ve given themselves a high-energy companion in Against the Grain, who will no doubt keep them on their toes for the duration.
The PR wire brings details and dates, and we all like details and dates, right? Okay then:
Lo Pan & Against The Grain to tour Northeast in March
Columbus riff titans Lo Pan will be pairing up with Detroit neck breakers Against The Grain for a ten date Northeast tour in the month of March in what will be a travelling showcase of two of the heaviest bands going from the Midwest.
Both bands coming off a successful campaigns in 2014 with Against The Grain seeing the release of Motor City Speed Rock on vinyl and nonstop touring throughout the year with dates that included runs with Guttermouth, Koffin Kats and Nashville Pussy and Valient Thorr to close out the year.
Against The Grain start the year doing a two shows with Detroit’s own Koffin Kats in Chicago (Reggie’s) and in Westland, MI (Token Lounge) and a local show with notable punk/metal band Gang Green in the Detroit area (Corktown Tavern). From there, the four will be spending the month of February recording the follow up to 2012’s “Surrounded By Snakes” at Train – A Comin’ Studios in Mt. Clemens, Michigan which will be slated for a summer release.
Dates: March 12 – The Loving Touch (Ferndale, MI) March 13 – Grog Shop (Cleveland, OH) March 14 – The Lost Horizon (Syracuse, NY) March 15 – TT the Bears (Boston, MA) March 16 – TBA March 17 – TBA March 18 – Saint Vitus Bar (Brooklyn, NY) March 19 – Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia, PA) March 20 – The Pinch (Washington D.C.) March 21 – 31st St. Pub (Pittsburgh, PA) March 22 – Spacebar (Columbus, OH)
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Heavy rockers Bison Machine will release their debut album, Hoarfrost, in 2015 via Bilocation Records. The Detroit four-piece get down on some serious boogie, as the check-out-our-vinyl-master sample track “Cosmic Ark” — not to be confused with the Mos Generator song of the same name — showcases, shuffling Graveyard style to do a wild roundabout back to ’70s Detroit influences: Detroit to Örebro to Detroit. Their impending Spring 2015 tour, with dates yet to be unveiled, may or may not take them that far, but it’s a cool sound one way or another and Bison Machine seem towield it well.
The PR wire saw fit to provide the details and a bit of background on the band:
BISON MACHINE are signing with Bilocation Records
Detroit’s finest heavyrockers BISON MACHINE signed for a vinylrelease with Bilocation Records. Their album ‘Hoarfrost’ will be out during 2015 on limited high performance 180g vinyl.
“Conceived in a single family wigwam on the far eastern reaches of the city of Detroit, and thrust from the birth canal in a dusty basement in Hamtramck, Bison Machine giveth and Bison Machine taketh away.
No Prisoners; no one survives. Liveshows are things of wonderment. Volume, blues, saturation. That is the prevailing ethos. Hamtramck’s own rock spectacle, heavy and melodic. Things are broken, blood is spilled, clothes and loin cloths are rent from bodies, antler and hides are prevalent.
Picture a small child raised on the delta blues since birth, then force fed Zeppelin and Sabbath til they could no longer move, then beaten and whipped with Kyuss, Pentagram, Earthless, Dead Meadow, Willie and Waylon, Queens of the stone age and Thin Lizzy, until one day, the child rears its ugly bruised and mishapen head perched upon its grizzled, muscular, agromegalic body rippling with virility, shrugs of it’s chains, and runs down Jos Campau naked, riding a sabertooth tiger.
This is the music that poor soul would be singing.
…and no one survives.”
John deVries- guitar Breck Crandell- drums Tom Stec- vox Anthony Franchina- bass
In the time since Ann Arbor, Michigan, heavy rockers Blue Snaggletooth released their 2011 debut, Dimension Thule (review here), guitarist/vocalist Chris “Box” Taylor has changed out the entire lineup of the band other than himself. As they are now on the newly-released sophomore outing, Beyond Thule, Blue Snaggletooth is comprised of Taylor as the principal songwriter, with guitarist Casey O’Ryan bassist Joe Kupiec and drummer Mike Popovich. There’s some continuity in the references of their song titles — “Ahamkara” is a dragon in the video game Destiny and “Nameless Cults” comes from Lovecraft, etc. — but the vibe on the new record comes across tighter than on the debut, and that’s what really matters.
Their new video for relatively brief album closer “Transmutation” is similarly tight, or at very least a straightforward affair. One by one, the band walks into a building — you’ll note it’s drummer Mike Popovich who gets there first; right on time — and once inside, they proceed to jam the hell out of the song, and then they leave. It might be the quickest practice they’ve ever had, but it makes for a cool clip, bathed as they are in blacklight and surrouded by posters responsive to same. There’s a break in the middle where they touch visually and sonically on psychedelia, but the song’s primary impression clicks somewhere between punk and heavy rock, and Taylor is well suited to his position as bandleader.
I’ve been trying all week to get a second to get the clip posted, and I think once you put it on, the appeal speaks for itself. Beyond Thule is available now on clear vinyl from Blue Snaggletooth‘s Bandcamp, where the full album is also streaming.
Blue Snaggletooth, “Transmutation” official video
From the band’s latest release Beyond Thule, Transmutation. Recorded at Metro 37 Studios, Mastered by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Sound.
Video Production: The Garage Auteurs Shot by: Brad Torreano + Robert Felts Directed / Edited by: Brad Torreano
BST is: Chris Taylor – vocals, guitar Casey O’Ryan – guitar Joe Kupiec – bass, vocals Mike Popovich – the drum kit
I managed to buy just one CD while on tour recently and it was the new live album from Michigan instrumental destroyers Beast in the Field. Recorded in 2012 as an in-studio performance at the Kalamazoo-based radio station WIDR, it’s been given the cumbersome title The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne and coupled with a sans-dialogue comic book featuring the band’s two members, guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr. At first I thought I might’ve had it wrong it and it was a DVD because of the case, but no, it’s a CD. After seeing even half of the band’s amplifier stack in Lansing, it became quickly apparent they don’t do anything small.
Like their five studio albums, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne is out on Saw Her Ghost Records, which has overseen everything the two-piece has done since their 2007 debut, Goat Isle Seance. That record is represented here by “Deep in the Caves,” which follows a noisy solo by Pries, and is preceded by “The Destroying Angel” and followed by closer “Through the Fires in all of Hell,” both of which come from 2011’s Lucifer, Bearer of Light. That would’ve been Beast in the Field‘s newest album at the time, though interestingly, the first three cuts they played at WIDR were “Hollow Horn,” “Altar Made of Red Earth” and “Wakan Tanka,” which also appear in that order following the intro “Great Watcher of the Sky” on 2013’s stellar The Sacred above, the Sacred Below (review here, stream here). Whether Pries and Jahr had recorded by then or were hammering out the flow of the album in a live setting, I don’t really know, but in hindsight it makes for some sound continuity from the record to the live outing and gives some sense of how the duo relate shows and studio work.
Unsurprisingly, they kill it. I’d be interested to know how many cabinets they didn’t bring to the radio station that day, but whatever balance they found, the audio is clear on both guitar and drums — or at least no more blown out than sounds cool — and the sheer density of their tone and impact of their crash are both captured. Speaking of “captured,” that’s pretty much the plot of the comic book as well. Pries and Jahr load up their gear and are in their van headed to, wouldn’t you know it, Kalamazoo, when all of a sudden they’re kidnapped by naked-lady demons and taken to some approximation of an underworld where they’re torn apart and fed to a skeletal version of a four-horned goat beast. I won’t spoil the ending, if they get out of it or not. With art by Mark Rudolph, it’s an engaging complement to the recording itself, and puts The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne in different category of releases than it might otherwise reside in were it just a live album. It may still be a stopgap en route to whatever Beast in the Field do next, but there’s enough presence and force behind the band’s sound that whatever they’ve got, it’s bound to turn a few heads. Just far enough to hear a pop.
With bonus points earned for the smiling cartoon depictions of Pries and Jahr, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne is further proof of how ready Beast in the Field are for recognition outside regional borders. For now, they remain a secret kept all too well.
Beast in the Field, Live at Dirt Fest, Aug. 9, 2014
Posted in Features on October 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
10.27.14 — 2:27PM — Monday afternoon — En route to Cleveland
“She’s not real pretty, but she’s rich.” – Postman Dan, on Senator Dianne Feinstein
I snapped the above picture last night before the show of the sunset in Michigan. If it looks peaceful or serene in any way, then please just imagine the exact opposite for how the rest of the night played out after the show ended. As ever, the party was at Postman Dan’s place — the Postmansion — which is an old converted church that he’s essentially corrupted in the name of riff worship and nuanced horticulture. Radio Moscow, who’d been hanging out at the show, came back as well, and Travis from Hydro-Phonic and two of the other members from Dan’s band Cruthu, and of course Mama Jo, Connie, Jim Pitts and I. Made for a crowded kitchen, but there were drinks flowing and Elonkorjuu playing through Dan’s kitchen setup — Swedish heavy prog as party music: awesome — and it escalated quickly. Charm-laden debauchery. Loud voices. Blatant social interaction. Enjoyment of good people and good times. Terrifying.
Dan had set me up with a bedroom, but once I’d charged the camera battery and dumped the pics from the show, I abdicated to Steve to let him sleep in a bed and said I’d go crash in the van. Great idea. Believe it or not, it wouldn’t be the first time I slept in a van in Postman Dan’s driveway. I think the third. It was about 3:30 in the morning by then and I was ready to crash out, so I went into the driveway. It wasn’t quite at the freezing point, but it was certainly cold enough that Carl remarked this morning that the beer left out here overnight was still chilled. I set up on the back bench with my hoodie on and my bookbag for a pillow and Mystery Science Theater 3000 playing and managed to crash for about an hour, but by 4:45, I was awake and too cold to really go back to sleep, so I decided to see if I could find someplace in the house that wasn’t yet occupied.
My mistake was thinking the festivities would’ve ended by then. Dan, Scott from Cruthu and Paul from Radio Moscow were up playing pool. I couldn’t see them at first through the window and the front door was locked and my phone was dead, so I had a moment of panic that I was going to be stuck outside for the night, but they were there and Dan let me in, wondering why I wasn’t upstairs asleep. Music still playing, though they’d moved on from Elonkorjuu to something else heavy ’70s. Fair enough. Dan took me up to his room and told me to take his bed, he’d sort something out and it was 5AM and I was too cold and tired to argue. I could still hear the music coming up from downstairs, but I nodded off for about an hour and a half and then set to work sorting pictures around 6:30, which I’d find out later was when the last stragglers fell out. I started writing the show review but was nodding off again soon enough and slept for maybe another hour between seven and eight. I’ve been up since.
No shower on the way out, but breakfast at the Fleetwood Diner in Lansing hit the spot — try the Hippie Hash — and we got on the highway shortly thereafter to head for Cleveland. The tour resumes tonight with Kings Destroy, Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Bang and the show is at House of Blues, so should be more like Minneapolis than Grand Rapids, though I’ll take it either way. I expect by the end of the night I’ll smell even worse than I already do, and there are some vicious sleepytime farts floating around the mostly-napping rear portion of this van. Might need to air that out at some point as we roll toward the cruel inevitability of the Ohio Turnpike.
Posted in Reviews on October 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Michigan’s capital city has always been good to me. I’ve been to Lansing five or six times at this point and I’ve continually found it a cool place utterly void of investment. That is to say, if anyone gave a shit or had money to spend, Lansing would be like Stroudsberg, PA, or Portland, Maine, in the ranks of those post-industrial towns that the creative types have moved to and opened brewpubs. The Avenue Cafe on Michigan Ave., which is being positioned as an alternative to the long-running Mac’s Bar down the road, has a vibe that speaks to the potential of Lansing overall. It has space, people who obviously care deeply about it and a prevailing sense of having gone it alone, no doubt reflecting the reality of the situation.
It was a night off from Kings Destroy‘s tour with Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Bang, and they joined with three Michigan locals in Cruthu, Hordes and Beast in the Field for one of the shows I’ve been most anticipating om this tour and one that, in the interest of full disclosure, I had a hand in putting together at least so far as making the intro between Kings Destroy and Cruthu guitarist and all-around excellent guy “Postman Dan” McCormick, and asking Dan if there was any shot at getting Beast in the Field out for it. I mark it an even bigger win that there was that chance now that I’ve seen them play.
They were completely different than I expected. What I knew of Lansing’s own Hordes came courtesy of their split tape with Bert, and it was drawn out and droney and more noise than song. Seems at some point Hordes got a drummer and that’s had some grounding effect on what they do, which is a blend of industrial and noise rock impulses. There was a lot of Godflesh in there, right down to how guitarist A. Hudson stands and shouts into the microphone, but some rawer crunch, and the live drummer made a huge difference alongside bassist Jon Howard‘s rumble. I was a little thrown off, to the point of wondering until I saw that tape at their merch table if I was thinking of the same band, but indeed, Hordes were Hordes. Once my mind made that jump — and I’m pleased to note it happened much more efficient than the explanation of it — their churning and chugging came together well throughout their set and made me eager to hear what they bring to their next recording.
I always get nervous writing about friends’ bands — I’ve known Postman Dan for a decade at this point — but with Cruthu, the issue was avoided in the best way possible in that they were actually good. As I understand it, this was their second show, and you could tell they were just getting going on stage, still feeling things out in terms of relating to each other in the material, but it was still easy to get a sense of where they were headed, the vocals of Teri Brown and McCormick‘s clean guitar tone nestled right into the heavy ’70s style, Brown belting out lyrics with a powerful push. She backed off the mic at times, and it just emphasized how little she actually needed it in the first place for how well you could still hear her standing out front. Bassist Scott Lehman added copious wah to his bass and joined in on vocals for the closer, and drummer Matt Fry kept the laid back grooves moving straight through. There were a couple awkward transitions and things to tighten up, but that’s why you play out in the first place. Cruthu had already surpassed their Creation demo (review here), recorded earlier this year, in pulling off the right mix of vibe, groove and tonal presence.
Allowed a somewhat longer set as the evening’s headliner and the only touring band of the four playing, Kings Destroy took advantage and stretched out to include some stuff not yet aired. “A Time of Hunting,” the title-track from 2013’s sophomore full-length, was played for the first time ever — and supposedly the last according to both vocalist Steve Murphy and guitarist Chris Skowronski, though I have my doubts — and they opened with “XXY” from the first album and threw in “Dusty Mummy” too, clearly relishing the chance to change it up on the small Avenue Cafe stage. Actually, I’m pretty sure the only reason Murphy was on stage at all was because the mic cable wasn’t long enough to let him leave it. He found plenty to do anyway, wrapping his scarf around his face for “Turul,” which ended the set paired well with “Embers” before it, and making shadow impressions on the wall. “Smokey Robinson” was the highlight, and is a song for which I’ve got only growing affection, but the whole set was a thrill, and it was fun to watch Skowronski, Murphy, guitarist Carl Porcaro, bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik make the most of the gig. There were people there — hell, even Radio Moscow showed up — but I wouldn’t call the place crowded. If it was a set Kings Destroy were playing for their own enjoyment (and at one point Murphy did say something about masturbation), then at least that enjoyment was infectious.
Beast in the Field
One of the biggest problems with internet criticism is that there’s so much hyperbole out there and it comes out so readily that when you actually happen into something special like Beast in the Field – the duo of guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr – there almost isn’t a language to convey how righteous what you’re seeing is. One almost wants to be like, “Okay, but really guys, this is where it’s at.” Pries and Jahr played in front of what I hear tell is half their usual amount of amps, but it still made for a formidable wall, and rendered earplugs all but useless against the tonal onslaught. Doing headbanger calisthenics during the deceptively catchy “Wakan Tanka” from last year’s The Sacred above, the Sacred Below (review here), Pries looked like he was trying to shake his skull off, and Jahr made each tom thud count in following along with the wrecking ball of riffs slamming through the cabinets behind him. I had been very, very much looking forward to seeing them play, and Beast in the Field wound up surpassing my expectation. Like staring at a single-color canvas painted with volume. Superlatively heavy. I’ve bought one record this whole tour so far and it’s their new live album/comic book, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne: Live at WIDR. I’m itching to check it out but need my ears to stop ringing first.
The party, and by then it was one, moved to Postman Dan‘s, less than a mile away, with most of his band, Kings Destroy, Radio Moscow, Travis from Hydro-Phonic and so on. I stayed upstairs for the most part and wound up sleeping in the van for a bit before I got too cold — Michigan at the end of October, might want to bring a blanket next time, buddy — and had to come back inside. I guess I’ll probably have more on that later on.
Posted in Features on October 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
10.26.14 — 3:30PM Eastern — Sunday afternoon — White Swan B&B, Gowen, MI
“He had twice devised the perpetual motion machine.” – Phil Jackson
I drove from the venue last night through some Michigan back roads. Steve had found this place on Airbnb that he said was a lake house with four bedroom that has bands stay on the cheap, and I was expecting something pretty deluxe, but I don’t think I imagined the kind of space this actually is, all wood floors, granite counters, old photographs on the walls. And as if it needed to be more idyllic, there’s a puppy running around. They call it the White Swan B&B. The guy who owns the house was a rock photographer for years and still takes pictures around here. Easy to see why and how one would be able to keep busy in such a way. Beautiful. I spent some time outside last night after we rolled in, breathing chilly air and just tilting my head back to zone out in the quiet. A few lights around, but the Milky Way easily visible bifurcating the sky. At one point the count was even between shooting stars and vehicles passing around the road out front of the house. Short of putting on YOB, which I only didn’t do because some fucker stole my iPod out of my car before I left to come on this tour, it was about as close to communing with gods as I come. Very, very cool, and very restorative.
When I came down into the basement last night to sleep on the couch, I found a turntable with Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick on it, which I took as an even better omen since that’s been played a couple times and sung even more in the van. Conked out around 3:45 and woke up this morning a little before breakfast, which was likewise lush and prepared by the couple who own the house, Mary Jo and Ray. Unreal. Bacon, spinach and tomato frittata, potatoes, fresh coffee. Afterwards some of the guys went out on a pontoon boat, Lincoln Lake just feet away from the back door. I didn’t go, had stuff to catch up on, but a little quiet time was good too. The last couple days have been so much rushing around that the chance to stay still for a couple hours feels like twice the luxury, though here it actually is. Radio Moscow and the two ladies they’re traveling with, Mama Jo (no relation to Mary Jo) and Connie came through as well and Steve, Carl and Ray went to the grocery store to buy grillables for a barbecue and to refill the growlers the KD guys got from Hammerheart Brewing the other day, two of which were kicked last night. I asked Steve to get me an orange pepper and he did — it was glorious. I could feel the life returning.
The plan seems to be to barbecue, hang out for a bit and then hit the road to Lansing, which is about an hour away. Show tonight is with Cruthu, Beast in the Field and Hordes, all of whom I’m looking forward to seeing. Kings Destroy are headlining and have been looking forward to playing a longer set than they have been, and I’m dying to see Cruthu and Beast in the Field. I’m not sure where we’re staying tonight yet — I don’t think we’ll be back here since it’ll be an hour in the wrong direction from Cleveland, which is where the Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Bang and Kings Destroy tour picks back up tomorrow, but I wouldn’t mind another look at that night sky if one were in the offing. Or, you know, a lifetime considering this is pretty much my ideal of paradise, right down to the ducks out on the lake talking smack to everyone standing and sitting on the deck with the two grills, one gas, one charcoal, fired up with burgers, sausages, steaks, asparagus, kebabs, more peppers, portobello mushrooms and so on. There have been a few tough rides, but it’s not exactly like this trip has been roughing it sleeping on shitty punk rock basements or anything — there’s wifi in the van — but this place is legitimately wonderful, and there’s been music on just about the whole time we’ve been here.