Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
As you can see in the photo above, the flood that ravaged Small Stone Records‘ offices two weeks ago (if you missed that news, see here) is being dealt with. Progress is being made, but of course there’s still a ton to do. The fundraiser has gotten an awesome response and has been about as visible as anyone could ask, so thanks to everybody for helping to get the word out and of course for donating. Please keep it going.
Label honcho Scott Hamilton took some time out and sent some pics of the damage being repaired and updated on the progress being made:
We would personally like to thank everyone who has generously kicked in… It has been beyond helpful (lifesaving) and we are very thankful to any and all involved. We are now finally clean and dry… We still have a long way to go in terms of getting this up and running again, but here is a quick pic of the progress thus far.
90% of my time has been taken up with restoring all the above… i think i have been to home depot over 40 times in the last 2+ weeks
bottom line… this fundraiser has been saving my ass… the last time i was at home depot like this was 14 years ago when we first moved in… holy shit is everything way more expensive then it used to be!
So there you have it. A lot of work being done and a lot more still to come. It’s been amazing watching this community come together to support Small Stone and help Scott get back to where he needs to be, and thanks to folks like Ripple Music for hosting a charity auction, The Heavy Co. for donating all the proceeds of their new live album, and Seb from Abrahma for putting together a series of charity auctions as well. All of this is huge and it shows Scott there’s a reason all the work he’s putting in is worth the effort.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was painful last week to see the pictures of the Small Stone Records offices, flooded out from powerful storms that tore through the Detroit area. Still sealed label product floating through dirty water, files and CDs, the fruit of countless hours of work on the part of label owner Scott Hamilton, simply ruined. In one of the pictures, however, you can also see a floating vacuum cleaner, and that’s also important, because it reminds us that more even than being where kickass riffs come from, this is somebody’s home.
Scott is somebody whose tastes and whose efforts have helped greatly to shape the course of American heavy rock in the last decade-plus. Whether you’re a fan of Dixie Witch or Roadsaw or Sasquatch or Wo Fat or anyone else on his enviable roster, chances are even if you don’t listen to those bands, someone in a band you listen to does. Small Stone has become the standard-bearer, and you can see the influence it has had not only in bands going for “that Small Stone sound,” but also in labels who have come up in the last several years wanting to support the music they’re passionate about in a similar way.
But again, this is about more than music. It’s Scott‘s house too, and that’s why it’s so important that this community comes together to help him out. You and I are part of a worldwide subculture. Don’t believe me? Go to a show anywhere and look around you. It’s the same every place you go, and that’s no mistake. One of our own — someone who’s directly participated in making this weird, ongoing thing to which we belong — needs our help. Frankly, that should be enough to make you want to get involved.
Donations are being taken through the middle of next month, but since it’s a water cleanup process and there’s the ever-present threat of mold, time’s a factor. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.
In August 2014, bad storms dumped flood waters all through the Detroit area, including into the offices of Small Stone Records, the label home of Sasquatch, Wo Fat, Greenleaf, Lord Fowl, Dixie Witch, Roadsaw and so many others.
Gear and product were both destroyed and insurance in Michigan is crap, so we’re coming together to help Scott from Small Stone with some of the massive expense of cleaning up from this flood.
Scott’s support for heavy music over the last 19 years that he’s run Small Stone has never wavered and this is a chance to help somebody who’s helped us by enriching our lives with great bands and great riffs.
Every bit helps. Thank you for your support.
–Please note that YouCaring.com takes no fees from donations and unlike other sites, ALL THE MONEY YOU DONATE GOES DIRECTLY TO HELP SCOTT.
Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess this is the part where I complain about lack of time, blah blah blah. Last week was a mess, it’s true, as were the last couple days, but what it comes down to is I do what I can when I can. That’s been my policy all along. A couple of these discs – Cruthu, Deamon’s Child — are my own rips as well from discs that were sent in, and as ever, there’s more that went up than just what is listed here. So one way or another, activity abounds. I need to find out how close I am to filling the three terabytes of the hard drive used for the server, but until then, the additions will continue unabated. It’s good to keep busy.
The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2014:
Sleep, “The Clarity”
To call the first new Sleep track since Dopesmokeran “event” would be underselling it. “The Clarity” arrives via the Adult Swim Singles Series not only as the Iommian legends’ first outing since that landmark release, but also their debut recording with drummer Jason Roeder and their first studio work since guitarist Matt Pike and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros went on to destroy/expand minds in High on Fire and Om, respectively, for the last decade-plus. A near-10-minute stonerly sprawl finds Sleep‘s central methodology intact. Grown up some from what it was 20 years ago, expectedly, but loyal to what they were without trying to recapture a magic that’s gone with that time. Cisneros has taken some flack for not roughing up his vocals à la Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but from where I sit, his cadence and cleaner style only makes “The Clarity” more honest, and if lyrics like “Iommic life complete” and “The dealer is my refuge” are easier to understand, you won’t find me complaining. They jam out most of the song’s second half, and ultimately “The Clarity” collapses in a sudden cut, leaving you to wonder if it ever happened at all — until of course you go back to the start for another glorious hit. If this portends more to come, I’m even more excited about the prospect of new Sleep than I was before the single arrived. Sleep on Thee Facebooks, Adult Swim Singles.
Deamon’s Child, Deamon’s Child
Even before you get to the dolphin sample in “Delfine,” and the garage thrashiness of the subsequent “Alles Bio, Immer Bio,” German trio Deamon’s Child give some hints that there’s more to what they do than the standard heavy noise rock. Comprised of guitarist Sven “Missu” Missulis (aka John Reebo of Reebosound, also ex-Psychedelic Avengers), bassist/vocalist Ana Maija Muhi (who also contributed to Reebosound‘s 2010 outing, This is Reebosound) and drummer Tim Mohr (also WhiteBuzz), Deamon’s Child debuted last year with an engaging demo and follow it with a self-titled debut of increased complexity and a sound that’s varied without the pretense, culling together punk, grunge, heavy rock and noise to create songs that feel like they could turn in any direction at once. The production plays up the frayed edges, and Muhi‘s layered vocals on a chugger like “Lutscher!” sound all the more Melvins-esque. Deamon’s Childis loaded with surprises, but doesn’t feel any more haphazard than it’s meant to, and while it may take a couple listens to catch up to it, the songs are consistent in their invitation for repeat visits. Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Red Fang, TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang
A free Red Fang acoustic EP — who’s going to argue with that? Not me, though the cumbersome and corporate-style title leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, once you get through all the namebrandery, what you come out with are acoustic renditions from Red Fang of “Failure” from late 2013′s Whales and Leechesand “Malverde” and “Human Herd” from the preceding 2011 outing, Murder the Mountains(review here). Hearing guitarist Bryan Giles soften up his usually-rough vocal approach on “Malverde” is interesting, given how much of the album version of that track is about the impact of the thing, but “Failure” becomes a brooding plea rather than the threat it is at full thrust, and “Human Herd” a kind of meditation that makes for the highlight of the whole release. One tries not to read too much into what was clearly a one-off thing, but it would be cool to hear what an acoustic album track from Red Fang might sound like. Their songwriting clearly translates, and between Giles and bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam – let’s not forget guitarist David Sullivan or drummer John Sherman – they prove here they can pull it off sounding confident and comfortable. Kind of an unexpected turn from the chicanery-fueled rock we’re used to from Red Fang, but they’re as easy to dig as ever on (deep breath) TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang. Red Fang on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
The Jackpine Snag, The Fire Tower EP
Tonally, Michigan’s The Jackpine Snag seem rooted in punk, but a strong undercurrent of the weirdo runs throughout the songs on their new EP, The Fire Tower, and whether it’s the shouting on “With Wings” or “The Missaukee Strut” or the motoring noise of closer “Gonna Wreck My Life,” the trio present an individualized approach to bruiser expression. The Fire Toweris their longest outing yet at seven songs following a four-track 2013 debut 7″, but they have no trouble changing up their take enough to hold interest, while also keeping the tracks themselves relatively lean and concise. Maybe what the EP does best is balance that efficiency with a loose, tossoff-punker vibe, but The Jackpine Snag – guitarist/vocalist Joe Hart, bassist Jason Roedel and drummer Todd Karinen – show a keen awareness of how far out they want to go and how oddball they want to get in their ragged, grungy craftsmanship. No doubt that will serve them well should they decide next to tackle a debut full-length. The Jackpine Snag on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Cruthu, Creation Demo
The debut release from Lansing, Michigan’s Cruthu, the Creation Democulls together an initial three tracks that sound somewhat raw but hold significant stylistic promise, blending a heavy ’70s psych-blues mentality with drearier rock tendencies and analog worship. Frontwoman Teri Brown provides a soulful lift to “S.O.S.,” as guitarist Dan McCormick leads bassist Scott Lehman and drummer Matt Fry through a subtly doomed murk, but pushes into rawer, strained-throat vocalizing on “Walk with Me” that immediately stands the Creation Demoapart from much of what claims to have been recorded live in terms of sheer honesty. And to Cruthu‘s further credit, I don’t think the tracks were recorded live. Particularly in “Separated from the Herd” and “Walk with Me,” which closes, Cruthu find some room for instrumental exploration along with Brown‘s vocals, and the path they’re on suits them well as the demo plays out. I’d be interested to hear them branch out further instrumentally, get weird with some percussion or strings or psychedelics, but there’s time for such things, and they’re off to an evocative start. Cruthu on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
This coming weekend, Detroit’s Small Stone Records hosts two label showcases on the East Coast. The first takes place Friday night at the Middle East in Boston and the second is Saturday at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar (info on both here). With Gozu and Freedom Hawk and Wo Fat headed overseas and new releases to come in 2014 from Dwellers, Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, Greenleaf, Wo Fat and Lo-Pan, it’s arguable that Small Stone has never had as much of an impact as it’s having now. A foray into the vinyl market seems to have paid off, and with acquisitions from across the pond like France’s The Socks, Italy’s Isaak and Portugal’s Miss Lava, the imprint’s reach only seems to be growing.
In 2015, Small Stone marks 20 years since its inception. It has succeeded against odds, trends and, frankly, logic, thanks to the vigilance and keen ear of its founder and owner, Scott Hamilton, who also plays guitar in the prog/psych rock outfit Luder. As a curator, Hamilton‘s ear is second to none, and his passion for searching out the underground’s best has led to landmark heavy rock from the likes of Dixie Witch, Sasquatch, Dozer, Los Natas, Halfway to Gone, Roadsaw, Acid King and many more. I sometimes feel like a nerd for covering as much Small Stone stuff as I do, but it’s inevitable. There’s no getting around the quality of the work being fostered by Hamilton‘s steady hand.
So I’ll probably keep going with it.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott Hamilton
How did you come to do what you do?
I have been obsessed with music for my entire life (both as a fan and as musician), so I am pretty sure that obsession led me into what I do now. I knew in my high school and college years that I wanted to do music in some form for a career (plus you had the added bonus of not needing cut your hair or work in a stuffy office environment), but I had no clue or connections to point myself in the proper direction to make it a reality. After many an odd job in the early ’90s at various music related gigs (playing in bands and working at record stores, radio stations, major record labels, etc.), I discovered that I both wanted and needed to start a record label. Small Stone was born out of this.
Describe your first musical memory.
This is easy… It was my Dad blasting Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, James Brown and Santana in the house on his very vintage hi-fi system. I think by the time I was three, I was actually spinning the records from his collection myself, and mostly likely ruining a few of them in the process… Shortly thereafter, discovering bands like KISS and Aerosmith also have had a very lasting effect on me too.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
There are too many… so I will list my top five:
1. Seeing The Cult in 1985 on the Love Tour when I was a Junior in High School. To this day, one of the best concerts I have ever been too.
2. Playing in my first band in high school was awesome, even if it was the ’80s. It was great discovering that thing my bandmates and I used to call “the buzz.” The buzz is when you and your fellow musicians all lock in, everything clicks, and you go on this crazy spiritual high where the hair on the back of your neck stands up. It is was and is the ultimate feeling that every musician and music fan is always looking for. I sometimes get it with my current band Luder when we are rehearsing and working on new material from time to time.
3. Purchasing my first KISS album… It was KISS Alive, by the way. My mother still says that KISS ruined my life.
4. About eight years ago when I had shitty day job for Live Nation, I got to stand behind Joe Perry’s rig for the majority of the concert, and that was a big deal for me… It also helped that setlist was 95 percent pre-’80s Aerosmith, and for as lame as the band is now, they were fantastic on that evening.
5. Jane’s Addiction… I must have seen them 10 times between 1988 and 1991, and that band had the magic, and also gave that “buzz” I was talking about.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
I think that this happens on a monthly basis. It is just part of living, growing, and moving forward. It is usually not a fun experience, either…
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
I think it leads to greatness down the line for any individual that is creating something, be it music, art, whatever. A creative person will always feel the need to keep exploring and learning new things to better sharpen their skill sets. If I had more time, I would spend it writing riffs and melodies, and improve on any and all basic skills when it comes to a guitar, but I have limited time to do that since I have a family and a business that must come first. With that said, I am always humming something in my head, and I will sneak off to the basement for about 30 minutes per day when I can to make some music.
How do you define success?
To me, success means that I get to do what I want for a vocation versus wearing a suit at some soul-sucking corporate job. In that sense, I have great success. But on the other hand it would be nice to break a band on the roster and help get them to a level of a band like Clutch. But that has not happened as of yet, so I just keep on keeping on until I obtain that level of success in the future.
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
In 1989 I was driving on the freeway about 20 miles west of Hartford, CT (on my way back to MSU from a Summer working on Nantucket). This convertible Corvette cam flying past me, and seconds later it somehow rear-ended the pickup truck in front of me. The Vette flew up in the air, flipped over the pickup and landed on on the freeway with his roof facing down — but the convertible top was down. The Vette driver was killed, blood, brains, and flesh all over the freeway. That vision has stuck with me ever since.
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
I would love to be involved in creating a timeless album — a classic if you will. Something that has the staying power of Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zep IV, etc., and more realistically, I would love to create a very large swimming pool in my backyard.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
There are few enough unfuckwithable albums in all of creation and The Stooges put out at least two of them. The Ann Arbor four-piece would come over the years to help define the grit and anti-refinement arrogance at the core of punk and American rock in general, but their early works are psychedelic masterpieces as well. In light of the March 15 passing of founding drummer Scott Asheton, it seemed only fair to kick this week off with a prime bit of Rock Action. Hence Fun House.
It’s the second of the three ultra-necessary Stooges original-run albums, preceded by their 1969 self-titled debut and followed in 1973 by Raw Power. Asheton along with his brother Ron, who died in 2009, reunited with legendary frontman Iggy Pop in 2003 for shows and in 2007, The Stooges released The Weirdness to mixed but ultimately favorable reception. Scott Asheton suffered a stroke in 2011 and final work with the band that defined a good portion of his public life was 2013′s Ready to Die, though it will always be the first three records that serve as the band’s legacy.
I can’t claim to be any kind of expert on The Stooges or anything else, but Scott Asheton was someone whose creativity fostered and mentored that of many in his wake, and the most fitting tribute to one who kicked so much ass seemed to be kicking more ass, and if Fun Houseis guaranteed to do anything, it’s that. Hope you enjoy.
The reason this didn’t go up Friday was because I didn’t get home until 3:30 in the morning. I’d gone to see Ogre‘s CD release show with Eldemur Krimm in Portland, Maine, and well, that’s a solid two-hour drive. Lesson learned? Nah, probably not. Was a very cool time, and I’ll have a review up today just as soon as I get enough caffeine in my system so that my eyes are all the way open instead of all squinty like they are now. 3PM or so, let’s say. Maybe 4.
That live review aside, I’ve decided sort of unofficially — though how I’d make something like this official, I don’t even know; is there paperwork I should fill out? — that this week is Vinyl Week. I’ve got enough of a backlog of records waiting to be reviewed that I can do one each day and that way I get caught up and everybody likes vinyl. I might try to sneak a tape review in there as well — the Young Hunter/Ohioan split did me right for the late night drive back from Portland the other night — but no CDs this week, regular reviews are on hold for the time being, and I’m making vinyl the priority. Sounds crazy? Well it just might work.
So look out for writeups on Eidetic Seeing, White Dynomite, Bushfire and hopefully one or two others. It’ll be fun. Even more if my turntable holds up.
Tomorrow I’ve also got a From Beyond track premiere set to launch. You might remember their 2012 single, “The Dead Still Ride” (streamed here) was good times.
Hope this is the start of a tremendous week. I know I usually say it for the weekend, but please check out the forum and the radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If I’ve learned one thing in this still-pretty-new New Year, it’s that there’s going to be a ton of shit going on all the time, and on that level, kudos to Detroit four-piece Against the Grain for putting their hats and beards in the ring. The dudely duders who released their third full-length Surrounded by Snakeslast year (review here) and subsequently hit the road alongside Church of Misery will once more take it to the people starting next month, hitting the Midwest and the East Coast before heading back for a hometown release show for the forthcoming Self-Destructo Records 10″ vinyl issue of their 2012 Motor City Speed Rockrelease.
That EP is available to preorder now, and the link for that and tour dates follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:
Against The Grain announce tour – Re-release of “Motor City Speed Rock” 10″
Against The Grain announce three week tour across Mid West/East Coast.
10” re-release of Motor City Speed Rock out this February via Self Destructo Records. Pre-order activated right now through the link below. Limited quantity of 500 pressed on both coke clear and black vinyl, each one hand numbered and hand stamped by Self Destructo Records.
Pre-order up and running right now, all are hand numbered and stamped. Comes in coke clear and regular black 10” and all pre-orders through www.shopturbojugend.com come with an exclusive patch designed for this release.
Detroit’s own Motor City Madmen – Against The Grain start off 2014 with a two month trek across Middle America and the Eastern Seaboard in support of their vinyl re-release of Motor City Speed Rock. Originally released in 2012, it was the album that laid the foundation for their presence in the heavy music community in their city of Detroit and neighboring states alike and opened doors for them to play alongside the likes of The Dwarves, Valient Thorr, Zeke, Holley 750, Riverboat Gamblers and The Meatmen.
Self Destructo Records released their third LP entitled “Surrounded By Snakes” in 2013, which catapulted the band full on into the world of stoner rock/doom. Following the release of Surrounded By Snakes, opening slots in Detroit for Saint Vitus, Orange Goblin and a tour with Japanese doom veterans Church of Misery ensued.
Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a brief but intense catalog of miseries that Detroit double-guitar five-piece Temple of Void emit on their 2013 debut release, Demo MMXIII. It is a demo, obviously, and self-released in an initial CD pressing of 200 — reportedly there’s a repress in the works — and it comprises just three tracks that total 22:15 between them, with “Beyond the Ultimate” and “Exanimate Gaze” hovering around six minutes each while closer “Bargain in Death” extends the lurch to 10:36, rounding out with cyclical riffing that more or less could go as long as the band wanted it. Aggressive, tonally weighted and dark in its atmosphere, Demo MMXIII is on the sludgier end of doom, but follows a course derived in no small part from extreme metal — death metal, particularly — and vocalist Mike Erdody, also of the live incarnation of Acid Witch and formerly of Borrowed Time, is a big part of what situates them as such. His vocals aren’t unipolar in the sense of just being low-register growls, but there’s no clean singing to be found in any of the three tracks, so Temple of Void wind up with a newer-school feeling take on death-doom. The tones of guitarists Eric Blanchard and Alex Awn are oppressively heavy, but not overly concerned with adhering to a classic approach, and though “Exanimate Gaze” speeds up some toward its end, the demo by and large makes its sonic impression with a thunderous plod thickened and pushed forward by bassist Brent Satterly and drummer Jason Pearce, and presents its extremity in a manner both professional and vicious.
Production quality comes into play quickly with Demo MMXIIIin that it would be a much different release if recorded dirtier. I guess that’s universally true — if things were different, they would be different — but it comes into relief with Temple of Void in that where their moniker might lead a listener to expect cave echoes and direct-to-Maxell rehearsal-room quality in the recording, “Beyond the Ultimate” dispels that idea before even the first verse has begun. Erdody sets the tone with a welcoming growl over a nasty, hulking riff, and by the time they’re a minute deep, Demo MMXIIIhas established a course far from the dictates of doomly trend. That is to say, there’s nothing cultish in their temple. Sure, the lyrics of “Beyond the Ultimate,” which come included with the CD version but are also available online, talk of “Haunting, cryptic visions,” and sacrificial summonings, but the vibe is utterly terrestrial and rather than try to creep you out with its vibe, it takes the (admittedly, more efficient) route of bludgeoning you with a hammer. The actual words to the song are largely indecipherable through Erdody‘s growls — at least until you’re reading along — and the aggression in his style is the stuff more of modern deathcore than most of what one runs into even in death-doom, where playing ultra-low growls and clean vocals or spoken parts, Novembers Doom-style, is the expected norm. Both for that reason and the sheer fact that the band sound so pissed off, I’m more inclined to think of Demo MMXIIIas death-sludge, but its foundations are unquestionably metal and the result is brutal and poised in like measure.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Am I posting this update from Saw Her Ghost Records because if gives me an excuse to put up the video for Beast in the Field‘s “Wakan Tanka” again? Yes, absolutely. Is that my only motivation? Not really. While word of an impending vinyl release for 2013′s hyperbolically heavy The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below (review here) is certainly welcome and the more people who hear about it and hear that album the better off we as a civilization will be, the news of a Temple of Void LP forthcoming is definitely also welcome, as is the rest.
So dig it and dig in:
Beast In The Field COLOR VINYL
Regarding the 2xLP version of Beast In The Field ‘The Sacred Above The Sacred Below’: We encountered some legal issues with the original vinyl masters which are in contention in court. We decided that we’ve waited too long to get this sorted out, so we have gone ahead and had new masters cut. We should get the new tests in mid January and hopefully have the records done by the first week of February. We apologize for the massive delay, but it was honestly out of our hands. We appreciate your patience and guarantee that those who have preordered this will receive everything they’ve ordered plus some extras that we are drumming up right now. We will be doing at least 100 of the first pressing on color (most likely green). All of those who preordered and will preorder will get color if they want it. If for some reason you do want black, just say so in the instructions section of your PayPal thingy.
Konkeror ‘The Abysmal Horizons’ LP is available now for $15 ppd. The first pressing is on purple vinyl and comes with a digital download card. Touch Of North America’s untitled 7″ is available as well. Hand stamped labels, digital download card, and 4 rip roaring explosions.
The new year is shaping up nicely for Saw Her Ghost. We are releasing the posthumous swan song 7″ by ROUGH ROPE. The SUN MYTH ‘A.M. Sky’ CD/2xLP is ready to go to press. We’re preparing for the LP release of the mighty TEMPLE OF VOID. BEAST IN THE FIELD’s live CD/COMIC BOOK is still happening. There will also be a HELLMOUTH/BEAST IN THE FIELD split 7″. And our latest addition is a 7″ by Chicago’s THE FIREBIRD BAND, which features Chris Broach of Braid. Yeah, that’s right.
They’re a new band with some classic influences, and on their debut demo tape, Thirst for Misery, Lansing, Michigan, five-piece The Swill blend heavy ’70s rock, garage thrash and early metal into a stew that’s sonically their own and almost surprisingly vital. The five-songs on Thirst for Misery– a play on Black Flag/Saint Vitus‘ “Thirsty and Miserable” — were recorded and mixed by Kevin Kitchell and Matt Preston, and the band boasts within its ranks vocalist Matt “War” Watrous (Wastelander), bassist Rob Hultz (ex-Solace and currently in Trouble), guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick (ex-The Fallopian Dudes and one of the best people you could ever hope to meet), Preston (Borrowed Time) also on guitar/keys, and drummer Rael Andrews (Bert). With everyone having been involved in an assortment of other bands over the years and being kind of a mash of different elements, The Swill is probably as self-effacing a moniker as one could ask.
Hultz is based in Chicago, so Derek Kasperlik (Mountain Goat) plays live. Thirst for Misery is pro-pressed and hand-numbered to 50 copies (I got number five) with a four-panel J-card and Brad Moore artwork. For their first release, The Swill probably could’ve just thrown together a dubbed demo in a line-drawn cover, but take it as a sign of the players’ experience they didn’t. Likewise, the songs themselves give off a similar mature feel. It’s a raw recording, but opener “You are Alone,” which shared side 1 with “Demons and Rust,” has a classic heavy rock stomp to its verse before taking off on a NWOBHM gallop in the second verse, Watrous‘ vocals at the fore until the guitars take hold for a quick, metallic solo. They nestle into a swaying groove with Preston adding some keys, though it could be Andrews as he’s credited with them as well, but they draw back to the central and more upbeat progression for a last run through the chorus before a sample from the 1982 documentary Another State of Mind.
Listening digitally, you know that’s at the end of “You are Alone” and not the beginning of “Demons and Rust,” but on the tape it’s harder to tell where one ends and the other begins. Once “Demons and Rust” gets going though, it’s slower, groovier, a fatter riff at its core with plenty of leads around it, almost a waltz if it isn’t one, and Watrous is more restrained vocally. The whole first part of the track is a build, and the second half pays it off, so side 1 gets a suitable finale, but when you turn the tape over, “Deeper Dungeons” is off in a rush of sleazy metal, a winding guitar line given further intensity by blastbeats and over-the-top metal vocalizing that rounds out with a fervent Tom G. Warrior grunt just before the guitar solo kicks in. “Deeper Dungeons” goes more or less apeshit and the delay-soaked interlude “Analysis Paralysis” offers a momentary breather before closer “The Void and the Vision” takes hold to finish out Thirst for Miseryon The Swill‘s most realized note yet. The band moves fluidly through tempo shifts and hit into the tape’s catchiest chorus, the winding lead guitar line being no less of a hook. They go big, get loud and end off in a suitable burst of energy, dropping to silence immediately after the last hit.
With that kind of precision and a more swaggering heavy rock influence working in tandem, I’ll be interested to hear how The Swill grow into their sound, but for now, the demo’s worth a listen either way and on tape, it sounds like something you’d be happy you traded for when it showed up in the mail. If pay-what-you-will downloads are more your thing, they’ve got that going too at their Bandcamp.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even if you told me it was just Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor playing with Beast in the Field and Electric Citizen, I’d still call it a hell of a gig, but Echo Fest 4 pushes genre lines in melding swirling psych with blistering noise and a lot more. The show is set to take place Nov. 16 in Detroit — Spindrift plays the pre-party on the 12th — and aside from the fact that there’s a band playing called Oblisk, it seems to be a cool assemblage of creative Midwestern acts. Dig the PR wire info below:
DETROIT PSYCH-ROCK BAND SISTERS OF YOUR SUNSHINE VAPOR ANNOUNCE THE 4thANNUAL ECHO FEST AT THE LOVING TOUCH IN FERNDALE, MI ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16TH, FEATURING 12 BANDS FROM DETROIT AND THE MIDWEST.
ECHO FEST IS AN 18-AND-UP SHOW FEATURING THE BEST OF THE MIDWEST’S PSYCHEDELIC SOUNDS September 26, 2013 — (Detroit, MI) — Detroit psych rock band Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor are very excited to announce their 4th annual ECHO Fest, to be held at The Loving Touch in Ferndale, MI on Saturday, November 16th at 6:00PM. Formed and curated by the band, ECHO Fest showcases Detroit’s and the Midwest’s burgeoning and varied psychedelic music scene, including psych rock, shoegaze, garage and more. Mixed with its trademark visuals and mood-filled lighting it has become an event that stands on its own. The night will be filled with swirling lights, fuzzed out guitars, and of course so much delay that time travel may become possible.
After three successful years at PJ’s Lager House in Detroit, ECHO Fest’s steadily growing popularity has required the organizers to move it to a more spacious venue. This has allowed us to not only include more bands but also to expand the overall vision. This year’s ECHO Fest will feature 12 bands on two stages from across the Midwest, half of which are from the Detroit area. Also, for the first time, ECHO Fest is an 18-and-over show. This year’s line-up includes ECHO Fest organizers Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, Beast in the Field (Mt. Pleasant, MI), Electric Citizen (Cincinnati, OH), Heaven’s Gateway Drugs (Ft. Wayne, IN), Moss Folk (Milwaukee, WI), Oblisk (Detroit, MI),Haunted Leather (Grand Rapids, MI), and more.
ECHO Fest tickets are on-sale now for $8 through TicketWeb.com. Doors will open at 6PM and the first act will start at 7PM. To encourage folks to get there early, the first fifty audience members through the door will receive a screen printed ECHO Fest record bag full of swag from the bands and our sponsors, and The Loving Touch will be offering early drink specials.
ECHO Fest Pre-Party: Los Angeles spaghetti-western psych rock veterans Spindrift will be kicking off the festival with a pre-party at PJ’s Lager House in Detroit on Tuesday, November 12th at 9:00PM. They will be touring in support of their new album, Ghost of the West, available October 22nd on Tee Pee Records. They will be supported by local acts PALACES and Electric Lion Sound Wave Experiment. This show is 21+ and admission is $7.
Sponsors: We are currently still accepting sponsorships. If there are any local businesses or organizations who would like to have their name attached to this event please let us know and we can work out the details.
ECHO Fest 4 Where: The Loving Touch 22634 Woodward Ave Ferndale, MI 48220 When: Saturday, November 16th, 2013. Doors at 6:00PM, Music at 7:00PM How Much: $8 in advance, and at the door Event:https://www.facebook.com/events/567226530002906
ECHO Fest 4 Lineup: Beast in the Field (Mt. Pleasant) Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor (Detroit) Electric Citizen (Cincinnati, OH) Heaven’s Gateway Drugs (Ft. Wayne, IN) Moss Folk (Milwaukee, WI) Wasabi Dream (Detroit) Oblisk (Detroit) Haunted Leather (Grand Rapids) Brujas del Sol (Columbus, OH) 3FT (Detroit) The Philter (Detroit) VS TR S (ex FUR / Warhorses) (Detroit)
ECHO Fest Pre-Party Where: PJ’s Lager House 1254 Michigan Avenue Detroit, MI 48226 When: Tuesday, November 12th, 2013. Doors at 9:00PM, Music at 10:00PM How Much: $7 at the door
Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Detroit four-piece Luder made their debut with 2009′s Sonoluminescence on Small Stone. A band born from tragedy in that it was the death of Slot guitarist Billy Rivkin that led that band’s bassist/vocalist Sue Lott and drummer Eddie Alterman — the latter replaced by Novadriver‘s Eric Miller before the first album was released — to enlist guitarists Phil Dürr (Big Chief) and Scott Hamilton in the renamed outfit, they nonetheless immediately set about exploring a vast sonic scope on Sonoluminescence(review here), and in a few key ways, the sophomore outing, Adelphophagia, follows suit. Aside from being likewise syllabically cumbersome, the second Luder album picks up in some respects where the debut left off, pushing forth stylistically open and progressive vibes tied together through brisk melodicism and Lott‘s varied singing. Songs on the nine-track/62-minute full-length are mostly extended, with opener “Never Liked You” being the only one to dip below the five-minute mark, and the chief difference between Adelphophagiaand Sonoluminescencelies not necessarily in a dramatic shift in approach — certainly there’s stylistic growth evident, but it doesn’t feel forced or the result of some master plan — but in the warmth of the tones and the foursome’s willingness to explore the textures they’ve created. Longer pieces like “One Eye” (7:33), “Heartfelt” (8:57), “Dirge” (9:48) and the closer “Remember What I Said” (9:19) make use of the room in their runtime to allow Hamilton and Dürr the space to enact a rich tonal wash, and with a kick drum less forward in the mix and excellent balance of Lott‘s voice in the mix — you can hear it particularly on “Remember What I Said,” but it’s true of the album as a whole as well — Adelphophagiahits a remarkable mixture of heavy psychedelia, progressive rock, and ’90s-style riffy crunch, coming across on the whole as less aggressive than its predecessor, but all the more aesthetically accomplished for that because of the sense of flow within and between the songs included.
Not to speak for anyone else, but I think there’s a certain reticence on the part of reviewers to gush when it comes to Luder because of Hamilton‘s involvement in the band in addition to his being the head of Small Stone Records. That’s fair enough. While Luder don’t sound like anything else on the Small Stone roster, between their Detroit roots and the underlying heavy rock sensibility – Lott‘s bass is thick the way you think of Michigan snowfall as a blanket — I can see that side of the argument. Nobody wants to appear as being in someone else’s pocket. Frankly, I don’t either, whether it’s Small Stone or anyone else. The validity of critique relies on the illusion of impartiality — and yes folks, it’s an illusion. At the same time, Adelphophagia‘s achievements stand worthy of praise regardless of who’s in the lineup, and in fact the effects Hamilton brings to the mix alongside Dürr‘s leads are a big part of what makes the record so immersive and easy to get lost within as “Never Liked You” — the lyrics of which cast an immediate indictment that stands in line as a follow-up to “Selfish and Dumb” from Sonoluminescence– transitions into the slowly churning groove of “Astrolabe,” an early one-two shot of progressive heft further distinguished by the underlying heft of Lott‘s bass and the smoothness which which their choruses are launched. A dreamy but solidified course for Adelphophagiais set, “Astrolabe” building instrumentally to a formidable crescendo before ringing out into the languid guitar intro of “One Eye,” which in like form sets about rising from the bed its made itself. There are verses and choruses, but the central riff is a hook unto itself, building tension but staying in control even as the second chorus gives way to the more raucous crashes that launch the instrumental build that brings “One Eye” to its greatest wash, guitars embroiled alternately in leads and sustained, hard strums echoing in a plod of their own while Miller‘s drum fills add a sense of chaos before the quieter ending cuts to the start of “Heartfelt,” similarly minded in its scope, but even airier and more fluid in its transitions.
Posted in Radio on August 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Somebody in Blue Snaggletooth collects Star Wars merchandise — or at very least has a firm appreciation for the absurd. The Ann Arbor, Michigan, four-piece take their name from a rare 1978 mailorder-only action figure, and between that, their touting themselves as “D&D rock” and songs like “Swords of Atlantis” (a Conan reference), “Sector 7″ (given its dreamy psychedelic sprawl, I’m more inclined to think it’s based on the Korean sci-fi flick rather than the Transformers comic book series), “Fireball Island” (anyone else remember that game?) and “Death of the Time Lords” (Doctor Who) if there’s geek cred left to be proven, I have no idea where.
And sure enough, the title of their 2011 debut, Dimension Thule, is a D&D reference — Thule is a Greater Deity whose symbol is a burning hammer made of ice — but even if you were to listen to Blue Snaggletooth without the internet’s (or your own) decades-spanning compendium of human nerdery at your disposal, Dimension Thule offers plenty to followers of the riff, whether it’s the brash classic metal that opens and closes with “Swords of Atlantis” and “Fireball Island,” respectively, the stoner rock garage fantasy storytelling of “Zweihänder” (a German two-hand sword), or the ’70s shuffle of “Star Flight,” on which guitarists Chris “Box” Taylor (also vocals) and Jess Willyard (also backing vocals) duke it out at a mid-paced boogie that steps away from some of the metallism of the other songs in favor of a more classic heavy. You don’t have to be a geek to groove, is what I’m saying.
What on the vinyl version of the album is side A steps down with each track until the twanging opening of “Insomnia” gives way to grander Southern ideas, but each song also seems to be coming from someplace else stylistically. Usually this leads me to think there are multiple songwriters in the band — and there may well be –but with Taylor, Willyard, bassist Ian Harris and drummer Ian Sugiersky, Blue Snaggletooth still only has four people, and I seriously doubt they hired out for someone to compose the stonerly “Death of the Time Lords” or “Recollection Blues,” which start out side B en route to the spacier instrumental “Sector 7″ and the raging drum-solo-and-AA-batteries-included “Fireball Island” finish. Those who know both bands might observe some similarities between Taylor‘s vocals and those of Groan‘s Andreas Mazzereth, but I’m inclined to think it’s coincidence, and in any case, Dimension Thule would’ve come before Groan really began to dip into classic metal on 2012′S The Divine Right of Kings.
Being two years old, it’s way too long since the release for me to give it a full review, but the album has something to offer a variety of listeners, so adding it to The Obelisk Radio was a no-brainer. They’ve reportedly sold out of the vinyl edition of Dimension Thule, but in addition to hearing it on the Radio playlist as of today, you can also check it out and download it through the Blue Snaggletooth Bandcamp, which is also where I grabbed this player:
If you had a lot of time, you could probably compile a list of all the things Michigan instrumental duo Beast in the Field are heavier than, but you’d be busy for a while. The two-piece released the hyperbole-exhaustingly heavy The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below(review here) in March on Saw Her Ghost Records. It’s been getting steady plays since I heard it was out and bought a copy, but I’m not even sure yet if I have my head around it. The sound guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr have honed over the course of their five albums is more their own than it might initially seem, and The Sacred Above, the Sacred Belowis one of those rare albums that actually captures a feeling like you’re standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.
Beast in the Field‘s new video for “Wakan Tanka” from the latest record blends performance footage with some kind of forest ritual. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but it starts out with a quote from Laguna Pueblo poet Leslie Marmon Silko and the in-the-woods portions seem to fit the ideas Silko‘s lines present, if in metaphor. I guess they’re open to interpretation, but that’s how I took it, anyway. The song is about six minutes long, so you’ve got time to make your mind up about it should you want to do so.
The clip was directed by William Saunders and if you haven’t yet had the chance to see/hear what Beast in the Field are all about, you owe it to yourself to take the bruises sure to come once the intro — taken from album opener “Great Watcher of the Sky” — gives way to the pummel of the song itself.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is just the preliminary of the preliminary announcements, but a Small Stone label showcase is always a good time — seriously, I’m the most miserable bastard you could ever hope to (not) meet and I have a blast whenever I’m fortunate enough to attend one of the things — so I figured better to get the word out early so anyone interested in making the trip could mark the calendar now. The lineup for this year’s Detroit gig is still coming together, but already you’ve got Gozu, Lord Fowl, Lo-Pan and Luder on the bill, so for a whopping $10, it officially qualifies as what I believe the kids might call a “sick show.”
Oct. 12 is the date, The Magic Stick is the place. Here it is from the source:
Date: 10/12/2013 Venue: The Magic Stick Location: Detroit, MI Line Up: Gozu, Lord Fowl, Lo-Pan, Luder, TBA (most likely Freedom Hawk or Sasquatch). Doors: 7:30 – All Ages Price: $10.00
Posted in Radio on July 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bouncing Motörhead via Zeke influence off thicker heavy rock tonality and periodic bouts of metallic shuffle, Against the Grain storm out of the proverbial gate with Surrounded by Snakes. The 12-track collection released via Self Destructo Records is the Detroit-area outfit’s second in as many years, coming hot on the heels of last year’s mission statement debut, Motor City Speed Rock, and front to back on its 31-minute crash-course, it’s a rager. Vocals switch up going from post-earliest Metallica thrash-style (see “Get Ready”) to a more punkish speed-delivery system (see “Outta Touch), but musically, but for the relatively extended later cut “Last Breath” — which reaches up to a sprawling four minutes! — Against the Grain keep their heads down and their motion forward, touching on the “Ace of Spades” riff no fewer than three times, on “Surrounded by Snakes,” “Comin’ Home” (also some Maiden in there), and “Padded Cell,” but nods to Slayer on “Livin’ a Lie” and the earlier Black Flag boogie of “Get in the Van” do much to expand the scope of the short, intense full-length.
“Under Attack” calls out “The Four Horseman” blatantly enough that it has to be on purpose, but comes across distorted enough to the band’s own nefarious ends that it remains consistent with the rest of Surrounded by Snakes, the opener of which, “Raise Your Glass,” sets an upbeat party vibe that Against the Grain seem only too glad to keep going, their punk not quite ready to grow up yet because it still seems to be having too much fun. Although it’s not always jibing with my particular tastes, I have a hard time holding Against the Grain‘s enjoyment of what they do against them, and as “Padded Cell” hints at grungier territory and the most striking impression of “Last Breath” is how I keep hearing Uncle Acid riffs in my head once it’s over (they’re still coming from someplace completely different vocally), I get the feeling the book isn’t yet closed on Against the Grain‘s growing their aesthetic. For what it’s worth, they seem no less capable enacting the dual-guitar leads that cap “Last Breath” than they are with the ultra-catchy, ultra-stripped down thrust of “Raise Your Glass,” and as “Extinction” ends off with a touch of organ after a post-halfway slowdown, there’s a lot more to Surrounded by Snakesthan shows itself at first.
But at 31 minutes, if you’re not careful, you’ll miss it. The idea behind adding them to The Obelisk Radio wasn’t so much to showcase the nascent stylistic diversity taking root in their sound as to give just a quick sampling to those who might happen on them in the stream and dig what they do while also providing counterpoint to some of the more plodding or morose fare surrounding. Against the Grain have also made a sampling of the songs from Surrounded by Snakesavailable to stream via Bandcamp, and that player is below. Enjoy:
Against the Grain, Surrounded by Snakes (2013) Sampler