Review & Full Album Stream: Beesus, 3eesus

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

beesus 3eesus

[Click play above to stream 3eesus by Beesus. Album is out Friday on Go Down Records, More Fuzz Records and New Sonic Records.]

As the title hints, 3eesus is the third full-length from Roman heavy fuzz rockers Beesus. Also their first offering through long-established Italian imprint Go Down Records as well as More Fuzz Records and New Sonic Records, the seven-song excursion spreads languid and loose across 40 minutes that are alternately spaced and driving and swinging and rolling, with guitarist/vocalist Francesco Pucci, bassist/vocalist Emiliano Gianni and drummer/vocalist Adriano Bartoccini putting a clear priority on sonic diversity throughout. Consistency is maintained through the tones of the guitar and bass — that is, the fuzz is thorough — but after the push of opener “Reproach” and the spacier “Sand for Lunch,” third cut “Suffering Bastards” offsets its hooky nodder chorus with verses of spoken word on the way to a jammier second half marked out by airy soloing and unbridled groove.

Having all three members of the band ready and willing to contribute vocals adds to the band’s ability to build more complex arrangements, and even as the wall of fuzz overwhelms the shouts of centerpiece “Sleng Footloose,” those shouts clearly arise from different sources and are themselves something of a shift from what’s come before. Those who’ve followed Beesus across their two prior outings, 2015’s The Rise of Beesus (review here) and 2018’s Sgt. Beesus… & the Lonely Ass Gangbang! will find the elements at work to be familiar, particularly with the latter, which expanded on the more straight-ahead approach of the debut, but while it wouldn’t feel appropriate to go so far as to call 3eesus experimental, there’s no question the band are actively working to push their sound in multiple directions, thinking of the album on its own terms with individual cuts serving a larger purpose within the whole. Those efforts are successful across the 40 minutes of 3eesus, right down to how “Sand for Lunch” teases some of the more psychedelic aspects of side B’s “Flags on the Sun,” “Gondwana” and the scorching closer “Sacoph.”

In some ways, whether it’s the interwoven layers of synth in the opener or the overarching Fu Manchu-style groove they offset, 3eesus reminds of some of fellow Romans Black Rainbows‘ melting-pot take on grunge, fuzz and psychedelia, but Beesus bring a more terrestrial sound on the whole, and the multi-vocalist aspect is a distinguishing factor that, along with the persistent sonic changes from one track to the next, helps distinguish PucciGianni and Bartoccini from the arguably forerunning counterpart three-piece. Beesus are nonetheless well at home in the psychedelic flourish of “Sand for Lunch,” calling to mind a ’90s drift without being shoegaze or post-rock, letting the bass and drums carry the guitar across the chasms of its own making, like a river cutting through a canyon.

beesus

beesus 3eesus gatefold

The elements at work in “Sand for Lunch” are exceedingly well balanced without purposefully sounding like it, and the band are able to affect a laid back atmosphere and a looseness of rhythm even though they’re very clearly pushing the song ahead toward its break before the five-minute mark at which point a more solidified low-end riff takes hold and the three players lock into the progression and ride out through the final chorus. That song, surrounded on side A by “Reproach,” “Suffering Bastards” and “Sleng Footloose,” is something of a triumph for 3eesus, and it’s doubly fortunate that it acts as a precursor to some of what the second half of the record brings with the final three tracks. The more the merrier, as it were. That’s not to discount what they do across the rest of side A, which is to bring more than just a feeling of variety to the work in terms of quality, whether it’s the structural play of “Suffering Bastards” — the chorus lyric, “We’re never wrong,” repeated as an anchor for some of the LP’s most out-there fare — just to point out the success on the part of the band in terms of tying the material together despite the shifts that take place particularly early in the proceedings.

And when it comes to the massive groove of “Sleng Footloose,” well that’s just good fun, and all the more as 3eesus‘ centerpiece. “Flags on the Sun” follows immediately as the longest individual song at 7:29 with a Doors-y night-in-desert — the time of day somewhat ironic given the sunny title — openness of tone and a relatively patient unfolding compared to some of what comes before; a clear indication of the shift taking place from side A to B, even in the digital realm. Deceptive in its melody, the track moves with marked fluidity and a gradual forward progression, not building to a huge payoff, but instead bringing in (seemingly) all three players on vocals toward the finish and capping with a somewhat understated flourish of drums behind distorted strumming guitar, the arthouse-grunge vibe palpable. “Gondwana,” which takes its name from the Neoproterozoic supercontinent made up of India, Arabia, Australia, South America, Africa and Antarctica, revives some push in its second half while also calling back to the spoken word of “Suffering Bastards,” but still draws atmospheric impression from “Flags on the Sun” prior and even as it moves through its shouts just prior to six minutes in, it does so with the current of effects/synth running alongside swirling to the inevitable fade at the conclusion and arrival of “Sacoph,” which, in contrast, seems to be named for a grocery store. Go figure.

The final cut begins with a righteously slow nod and some scorcher lead work from Pucci, and that sets the tone for what follows as the band with three singers decides to go it instrumental at the end, letting the guitar ring out into open space with a clarion shimmer underscored by the weight of the bass and accompanying fuzz. There’s a kick of tempo in the second half, but they end slow and dramatic and that feels well earned after all the various turns preceding, both within and between the songs. As much as that’s a somewhat inevitable focal point of 3eesus, the greatest effect it has on the band’s work overall is to emphasize the cohesion with which Beesus are able to unite the material. I don’t know whether the tracks were recorded live or not, but the feel of band-in-a-room is palpable, and it’s that singular energy that most comes through in drawing songs together as a singular presentation. It enhances the various strengths of the trio and only makes the listening experience richer and more consuming, which would seem to have been precisely their intent for it.

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Beesus to Release 3eesus on April 3; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

beesus

It’s their third album. They called it 3eesus. It’s clever. And all the more appropriate that it’s coming out through three different labels. The latest work from Roman trio Beesus will be presented through France’s More Fuzz Records as well as respected Italian purveyors Go Down Records, and New Sonic Records on April 3. The band, by then, will be en route to Germany from France as they embark on a tour to support the release. I’ll go ahead and assume More Fuzz is in some way affiliated with putting the shows together, since most of them are happening in France, but it nonetheless looks like a good time and there are some dates that may or may not be filled in as they go — would a couple days off between Lorient and Limoges really be the worst? — as they wrap up April 18 in Nice. You can make your own pun there, I’ll preserve what little dignity I have left.

This is the first of a three-leg European tour — speaking of puns — so you can expect more to come. To wit, preorders start next Friday from all three labels and they’ll reportedly have a new song up then as well. So yes, worth keeping an eye out as you will.

Here’s what’s up in the meantime:

beesus 3eesus gatefold

BEESUS – 3eesus

BEESUS are proud to announce their third album “3EESUS” will be released next April the 3rd 2020 via More Fuzz Records (F), Go Down Records (I) and New Sonic Records (I).

Embellished by Max Ernst’s “Europe After The Rain II” (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT) on the cover artwork, the vinyl version will be ready to spin in Black and in marbled Rusty/Light Blue editions.

After “The Rise of Beesus” (2015 Goodfellas/New Sonic Records) and “Sgt. Beesus…& the lonely ass Gangbang!” (2018 New Sonic Records) the three Romans are ready to unveil 3EESUS!

TRACKLIST:
– Reproach
– Sand for lunch
– Suffering Bastards
– Sleng Footloose
– Flags on the Sun
– Gondwana
– Sacoph

From April the 1st the band will be touring Europe for three legs that will touch most of the continental Europe.

Here is the first:
01.04.2020 – I – Secret show
02.04.2020 – F – LYON – Le Farmer
03.04.2020 – D – LANDAU – Sudstern
04.04.2020 – B – GAND – Den Drummer
05.04.2020 – B – HERENT – De Loft
07.04.2020 – F – PARIS – L’International
08.04.2020 – F – RENNES – Le Méliès
09.04.2020 – F – NANTES – La Scène Michelet
10.04.2020 – F – LE MANS – Le Lézard
11.04.2020 – F – LORIENT – Le Galion
15.04.2020 – F – LIMOGES – Espace El Doggo
16.04.2020 – F – TOULOUSE – Les Pavillons Sauvages
17.04.2020 – F – MONTPELIER – The Black Sheep
18.04.2020 – F – NICE – La Matrice

BEESUS are:
Francesco Pucci – guitars, vocals
Emiliano Gianni – bass, vocals
Adriano Bartoccini – drums, vocals

https://www.facebook.com/beesusindope/
https://www.instagram.com/sgt.beesus/
https://beesus.bandcamp.com/
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https://morefuzzrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/GoDownRecords/
https://www.godownrecords.com/
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https://newsonicrecords.bandcamp.com/

Beesus, Sgt. Beesus… and the Lonely Ass Gangbang (2018)

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Stone from the Sky Premiere “Animal” Video; Break a Leg out May 3

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stone from the sky

Stone from the Sky release their third album, Break a Leg, through More Fuzz Records on May 3. And once their video for the song “Animal” from the record gets to the point where the plane lands near the field of elephants in the African countryside, you immediately get a sense of where things are headed. They’re headed to dead elephants. Break a Leg is comprised of six tracks and runs 45 minutes of exploratory heavy post-rock instrumentalism, and yet there’s nothing standing in the way of its blatantly emotional expression, and where so much in the style seems to get lost in its own head — one could argue that’s the nature of it — and winds up cerebral to the point of emotional sterility.

Working its way in on a long fade of backwards guitar, animal noises and sparse percussion, “Vena Cava,” the opener and longest track (immediate points) of Break a Leg, readily counteracts that stereotype. Like Red Sparowes before them, Stone from the Sky take a personal approach to greater issues of environment and humanity’s place within it, but their sound isn’t always half as blatant as the video for “Animal” makes it seem, and as “Vena Cava” winds through loud/quiet tradeoffs with airy guitar and earthy bass working to fluidly counteract each other while serving the larger purpose of crafting the spaces in which the rest of the album plays out. “Agger,” which follows, is faster and more active in its forward push — also less than half the runtime at 4:17 — but still works with a similar tonal resonance that the leadoff lays bare and which becomes a running theme throughout the entire LP.

There’s some psychedelic reconciliation in “Therapsida,” stone from the sky break a legthe side A closer and second of three inclusions over nine minutes long — the last is closer “Rataxès” at 9:07 — but its percussive opening and turns to and from a fuller, fuzzier style of riffing tie it to a heavy rock that sits well alongside the floating notes in the quieter stretches. They have no trouble moving back and forth between them, and make their way in the second half of the song through a lysergic meander and back to the central “chorus” riff that has served them ably to that point, more slowed-down Karma to Burn than anything that might be called post-rock, but still consistent in tone and mood.

“Animal” leads off side B with another patient opening and does a particularly effective job of bringing together a harsher sense of noise and drifting guitar, like a more biting My Sleeping Karma, but distinct for how far into the wash Stone from the Sky are willing to go. They work from shortest to longest on the second half of the record, letting “Animal” lead into “Atomic Valley” (7:38) and the aforementioned “Rataxès” with a suitable feeling of moving farther and farther out, the former resolving in a massive wall-of-fuzz nod and the latter taking a jammier-sounding approach initially but revealing its linear course later as it works to payoff its own stretch and that of Break a Leg as a whole; a task in which it is ultimately successful.

I don’t think anyone will accuse the Le Mans, France, trio of revolutionizing heavy post-rock, but neither should they be discounted for whatever elements of their work might prove otherwise familiar. Their ability to evoke a sense of purpose in their material alone is a distinguishing factor, let alone the manner in which they put those otherwise familiar elements to use, and they maintain a balance between the head and the heart in their work that is malleable while also being very much their own. A deep-dive conscious listen or two will unveil some of Break a Leg‘s more subtle individualism, and prove all the more rewarding for those willing to engage with the record on the level it demands.

Clip for “Animal” is below. Heads up if you don’t want to see dead elephants.

Otherwise, enjoy:

Stone from the Sky, “Animal” video premiere

Stone from the Sky on “Animal”:

Stone From The Sky stands against this cruel and useless practice that is hunting. Elephant poaching for the ivory trade is one of its most vile expressions. Getting together the exaltation of our dirtiest instincts, the murder of animals, the pleasure of the ultra-rich and the exploitation of local populations only to destroy their own environment.

When one of the most majestic species of this planet will have been annihilated, what gadget are we gonna invent to justify the murder of other rare wild animals?

Stone From The Sky is proud to reveal its new clip in anticipation of the release of their upcoming 3rd album, “Break A Leg” which will be out on More Fuzz Records on May 3rd.

Even if Stone From The Sky is a pure instrumental band, this doesn’t avoid them to transmit their opinion about our current society in their music. And with this clip of the song “Animal”, they’re clearly stating they’re against what is currently happening in Africa with the killing of thousands of Elephants to get their tusks and after sell them on the Chinese market.

Most of the footage you’ll see in this clip has been taken from a Netflix documentary called “Ivory Game” which depicts this horrible situation. Don’t hesitate to watch it entirely to get a sense a of the problem, and how some people are trying to protect those endangered species.

“Break a Leg” is currently available to pre-order on LP & CD on More Fuzz Records webshop and on Digital on Bandcamp.

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Review & Full Album Stream: Red Sun Atacama, Licancabur

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red sun atacama Licancabur

[Click play above to stream Red Sun Atacama’s Licancabur in full. Album is out June 29 on More Fuzz Records with vinyl to follow this summer.]

Usually when a band puts a place-name at the end of their moniker, it’s because they’re from there and there’s probably another band with the same name who perhaps had it first. Before you go thinking otherwise, Red Sun Atacama are not from the Atacama Desert in Chile, which is noted as being the driest place on earth. They reside a continent away in Paris, France, which last I heard still gets plenty of rain. Comprised of the trio of bassist/vocalist Clément Màrquez, guitarist Vincent Hospital and drummer Robin Caillon, the French fuzzers make their debut with Licancabur, a six-track/35-minute long-player issued through More Fuzz Records that takes its title from the volcano located in said desert traditionally worshiped as sacred by the Atacameños people who live nearby. The album’s structure is somewhat quizzical, with a quick intro leading to a bookend of two larger songs with two shorter tracks between and one even-shorter track between that. Just for an easy visual, here’s the tracklist:

1. Intro (0:36)
2. Gold (10:38)
3. Red Queen (5:51)
4. Cupid Arrows (1:46)
5. Drawers (4:20)
6. Empire (11:57)

See what I mean? If you put aside the intro, you get five tracks that even sort of look like a mountain peak when written out. I can’t help but wonder if, since they named the record after a volcano, if that wasn’t on Red Sun Atacama‘s mind as they put the hard-driving, desert-rocking release together. Even if you keep the “Intro” — which taps into Morricone-style Western acoustic strum and folkish flutes before the leadoff riff of “Gold” quickly enters to begin the album in earnest — or consider that the vinyl breaks into two three-song sides, the basic idea holds up of climbing a peak to the punk-sprint of “Cupid Arrows” and then making one’s way down through “Drawers” and out into the long plain of “Empire,” which closes side B. May or may not have been intentional, but sure doesn’t feel like an accident.

Crucially, to coincide with this structural nuance, Licancabur has a front-to-back flow which, from that opening riff to “Gold” onward, finds the three-piece careening through high-energy desert riffing, making standout elements from bass and lead guitar interplay as they move toward the midsection of that opening track after the initial verses/chorus thrust and just before they pull back and drop out at around 4:30 to more laid back unfolding. “Gold” has a long instrumental break, keys included, but ultimately returns to vocals later, and even in this and in “Empire,” which is more insistently drummed to close out the offering but still has its own section reserved for a lengthy jam, there’s a consuming fluidity that carries the listener along with it. Red Sun Atacama border on hypnotic, but never seem on their debut to relinquish control into all-out drift, and so when they snap back to the forward push that plays such a significant role in their sound, they don’t necessarily have as far to go as they otherwise might. They keep that flow steady across the entire record.

red sun atacama

A lack of pretense and/or self-indulgence always helps when it comes to desert rock sincerely working, as Licancabur does, to speak to the origins of the genre, which are punk at their heart. It certainly does Red Sun Atacama sonic favors, but part of that too might just stem from the fact that they don’t seem keen (yet) on wandering too far. Could be they’re worried about getting lost in the dry sands, but in “Gold” and “Empire” as well as in “Red Queen” and “Drawers,” they keep their momentum straight ahead of them and throttle back on tempo here and there, break to guitar, drums, whatnot, but by and large run fast and high-energy through the songs. Hooks provide landmarks in “Red Queen,” which might be the most purely Kyuss-ian riff included, and “Drawers” has an even more manic feel, holding together a tense vibe even as the guitar wahs out a lead in the middle and they make their way back to the slams and swings of the last verse, taking turns on bass, guitar and drums by measure to mark the transition into the outro. It’s a head-spinner, overriding control is maintained.

That control turns out to be one of the most impressive aspects of Licancabur, and nowhere more so than on the side B opener/mountain peak “Cupid Arrows,” which is the shortest inclusion at the 1:46 noted above, but still has an essential role to play in being the most furious moment of desert groove on the album. Much to their credit, Red Sun Atacama are off and running speedily and reference The Stooges on their way even as they seem to nod to a more echoing incarnation of earliest Dozer in the sort-of centerpiece, which is the apex of their momentum, thickly toned enough to be consistent with its surroundings and yet an immediate standout for its all-go-no-stop acceleration. If there is anywhere on Licancabur that Red Sun Atacama are in danger of losing their grip on their craft, it’s in “Cupid Arrows,” and they absolutely don’t. They execute the track at full speed like it ain’t a thing and then are dug into “Drawers” before the listener even has a chance to process what they just heard. Right on.

It’s a particularly encouraging facet of Red Sun Atacama‘s first offering — apart from the 2015 demo Part.I on which “Gold” (then “The Gold”), “Red Queen” and “Cupid’s Arrows” appeared — that they’re able to hold it all together with such apparent ease and smoothness, and where they’ve left themselves room to grow is in terms of patience and in the jammy moments like those in “Gold” and “Empire.” One can’t help but wonder if Red Sun Atacama‘s next offering might find them digging even further into these psychedelic landscapes, their fingers bare in exploratory dirt, but for now, while they might want to add an “of” to their moniker, they nonetheless provide a welcome, cohesive kick in the ass through classic-style desert rock and roll and leave one anticipating what they might do next. One could ask nothing more of their first album.

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Review & Full EP Stream: Decasia, The Lord is Gone

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

decasia the lord is gone

[Click play above to stream Decasia’s The Lord is Gone EP in its entirety. It’s out tomorrow, May 5, on More Fuzz Records.]

Parisian heavy psych rockers Decasia make their first offering through countryman imprint More Fuzz Records with The Lord is Gone. Preceded by a pair of digital singles over the last year-plus, it’s also their second short release behind a 2015 self-titled (review here), though honestly, the thing is 33 minutes long and if you wanted to make the case for it as a three-song full-length, I don’t think I’d be inclined to argue. That was much the case with their last outing as well, though, and it stems as much from the flow the trio of guitarist/vocalist Maxime Richard, bassist Fabien Proust and drummer Geoffrey Riberry conjure across the two-sided salvo of extended pieces “Eden” (9:45), “Sun Kingdom” (9:25) and “The Ancient” (14:22), as about the runtime itself. Recorded analog, their material is pointedly organic in its construction and delivery, yet comes across as more than a simple collection of jams. No question that’s what’s at root — one can hear it from the opening roll and rumble of “Eden” as the guitar feedbacks its own introduction alongside — but Decasia are building songs from that foundation, not simply leaving parts to hit their listener in raw form succession, one after the next as whim dictates.

That’s not to take anything away from the sphere of European heavy psych jammers out there — there are many, and they do good work — just to say that Decasia are on a different trip, taking cues from coherent heavy psychedelic songcraft that holds true to a languid vibe as it makes its way into and through the verses of “Eden,” toying with drift and crunch in like measure, playing loud and quiet stretches off each other and letting the low end and the drums hold together instrumental passages that let the guitar wander into and out of leads or riff out as best fits where they are in the track. By the time RichardProust and Riberry are about five minutes in — there’s a break in “Eden” where Proust‘s gloriously fuzzed tone takes full hold; it’s not to be missed — the mood is set for much of what the release as a whole will move toward: a sound thick with presence but still bright in its overall feel, more validating than down, and with enough built-in motion that when Decasia decide it’s time to move into more shimmering territory momentarily or to start a build like that which leads into the apex of “Eden” before the track ends with a quiet final verse and last-second measure of push, they’re able to make these turns gracefully, without bringing the entirety of The Lord is Gone down on their own heads.

decasia

With a fading-in march of tom roll from Riberry, “Sun Kingdom” briefly teases a more intense thrust before nestling into another open, echoing verse. There is a more jagged feel as the track progresses, thanks to starts and stops in the riff, and the drums hold to some of their initial tension, but even when Decasia seem like they’re about to let “Sun Kingdom” completely boil over — first at around the 2:30 mark — they instead maintain their control and direct the song into a driven section of push-riffing that leads to a spacious psychedelic solo from Richard, brief but effective in adding to the atmosphere before the vocals resume. Then it’s time to get heavy. A stop and quick vocal line brings about a section of dense crash and thud, Proust‘s bass no less essential in thickening these proceedings than it was “Eden,” and when they make their return to the hook of “Sun Kingdom,” the attitude of the execution has changed, so that the contrast between the earthbound and the ethereal in the song — and make no mistake, those are the two sides playing out — is starker than on the opener, the track overall seeming less patient as it moves through its sixth minute, just waiting to take off again, which of course it does into a doomier roll at about 6:40, leading to another air-toned lead, a stop and then a surprising shift in tempo just past 7:45 that brings a faster ending section about that will consume the remaining runtime in a burst of energy that, as it turns out, is what all that back and forth was moving toward all along.

Because they sort of blindside the listener with that end part in “Sun Kingdom,” it’s a little more difficult to predict where Decasia might ultimately go with closer “The Ancient,” and that’s clearly the intent. As they weave their way through, the band effectively reinforce the atmosphere of the first two tracks through a consistency of approach and tone, but more over, they expand the scope as well, pushing the boundaries they’ve thus far established on both ends — the heavy and the psych. “The Ancient” is arguably the most of both. It doesn’t move as fast at its most forward as did the capstone movement of “Sun Kingdom,” but it hits a similar energy level circa four minutes in. Then it uses that as a launch-point to move into an ultra-liquefied psychedelic jam — broad minimalism the likes of which simply can’t be found anywhere else on The Lord is Gone; more patient than “Eden” and marked out by cymbal washes and echoing tom stomp from Riberry. They bring in an acoustic strum behind Richard‘s vocals and eventually make their way back toward electrified fare, returning to full-fuzz-push at 11:10 or so as “The Ancient” hits its crescendo and shifts back into its dream-toned, thoughtful last verse to end out on a sweet line of standalone guitar. All of that movement only stands to emphasize the fluidity Decasia accomplish throughout The Lord is Gone, which befitting the watery theme of their artwork does seem to be their greatest sonic asset — but I wouldn’t count out the progression of their songcraft either. The bottom line is that if they’re pitching these three tracks as an EP, one can only wonder what level of immersion awaits when they finally get around to a debut long-player.

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Leafy, Leafy: Go Fuzz Go (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

leafy-leafy-700

[Click play above to stream Leafy’s self-titled debut in full. Album is out Dec. 9 on More Fuzz Records.]

Because they’re so effective when they lock into a forward drive like that in the chorus of second cut “Can You See Them,” it’s easy to lose sight of the largesse in atmosphere and the wall of fuzz that Norwegian heavy rockers Leafy bring to their More Fuzz Records self-titled debut. But that largesse is there and is a constant in tying the six-track/33-minute offering together, the band’s post-Truckfighters momentum-minded grooves propelled through by guitarist/backing vocalist Josh “Mr. Yoshi” Bisama, whose riffing is front and center throughout with support from bassist Enyeto Kotori (since replaced by Marcus “Marco el Róbalo” Billington), drummer Per “Señor Pedro” Arne Solvik and vocalist Ryan “Mr. Leafy” Matthew Moen, whose nicknames would seem to underscore the point of the Örebroan influence but don’t wholly lose themselves in a single-mindedness of approach.

Make no mistake, they’ve got heavy rock on their minds, and that’s the core of their execution. The six songs on Leafy bring forth high order, weighted, modern desert rock thrust with efficiency, but they also reach out as much as they hammer down. Particularly with Moen‘s burly, semi-bluesy vocal style, Leafy remind of London’s Steak, whose 2014 debut, Slab City, worked in similar function to bring a Kyuss-style desert symposium to fruition while casting their own persona through the interpretation. And as their first outing, Leafy give a sense of where they’re coming from in the Orange Goblin-esque alcoholic regret of “No Gnome” and the broader progression of extended closer “Felt Like Dying.”

One might get the sense that Leafy are preaching to the converted, and they may well be. Especially with Leafy being their first album, I don’t necessarily have an issue with that. It’s how genre tropes are developed and how audience habits are reinforced; how the substance of a style takes shape. Clearly the Kristiansand rockers are in the process of figuring out where they want to be within heavy rock, and in addition to forcing one’s hand in thinking of groups like Wo Fat1000mods, and a next-gen band like the aforementioned Steak as influential in league with more established groups like Orange Goblin, these tracks brim with a density of fuzz and thrust that one hears just as soon as opener “Wild Cherokee” kicks in from its quieter intro. Right away, Moen and Bisama work fluidly together on vocals, right away the audience is acknowledged — “we hope you will enjoy the show” — and right away guitar establishes itself as the engine that makes the band go.

“Wild Cherokee” introduces many of the moves Leafy will make throughout, and certainly brings the listener into their tonal world, but if side A has a highlight, it’s “Can You See Them.” The second longest cut on Leafy at 6:20 it careens and shuffles at a faster clip and boasts a memorable dual-vocal interplay in its hook and a fullness of sound — credit to Kotori and Solvik for thickening and making it move, respectively — and is among the most striking impressions the record makes, even unto its big finish, which successfully conveys the this-is-something-you-should-watch-on-a-stage vibe that, for a group like Leafy, is probably just what they should be telling those checking out the album at this point. The subsequent “Puzzled Skin” reinforces the energy in “Can You See Them” and rounds out the intended side A with another push further distinguished by its quick solo in the back half.

leafy

And if there was any doubt that Leafy had vinyl symmetry in mind with the album’s structure, the subdued guitar intro of “No Gnome” should answer it handily. Missing only the count-in stick clicks from Solvik that began the opener, it seems to be in direct conversation with “Wild Cherokee” — it also happens to be the exact same length at 3:54, but it’s hard to imagine that’s not a coincidence; bands rarely write songs down to the second in my experience — though it builds more fluidly from that beginning and ultimately finds its own path, entering full tonal presence after about a minute in but moving back to a bluesier and more open feel for the next verse. Lyrically, it’s a booze story, and perhaps more than any of the other cuts, it’s a showcase for Moen‘s vocals, which can be harrowing for a singer the first time out. He approaches the task with apparent confidence over the softer proceedings behind him and that makes the song’s later payoff even more satisfying as it sets up the quiet finish of “No Gnome” and transitions into the drum/bass-led beginning of “Fallen Leaf.”

Maybe it’s an expected uptick in the dudely vibrancy from the track before it that takes its time getting going — a nascent patience in development — but it still ultimately works to revives the momentum of “Puzzled Skin” effectively, playing between chugging tension in its verse and a chorus release before a righteously crashing ending, and with the eight-minute “Felt Like Dying” closing out Leafy behind it, makes sense in its place. For its added length, the four-piece’s finishing move doesn’t ask much by way of indulgence on the part of the listener, instead rewarding those who’ve stuck it out with another highlight hook and a more open-feeling plotted jam in the back half that builds into the last chorus payoff and ends cold on guitar squibblies that seem to say the “show” to which listeners were being welcomed on “Wild Cherokee” is over.

Fair enough. In the end, Leafy‘s Leafy comes across less geared toward innovation than capturing the moment at which the band get their feet under them, sonically speaking. But it does capture that moment, absolutely, and considering Leafy have only been together for a year, it’s all the more an impressively cohesive collection that only benefits from the clearheadedness of its intent. That is to say, Leafy very obviously came into their first release with ideas about who they are as a band and what kind of ruckus they want to make. The task before them now is to grow from the solid foundation they’ve laid down in these tracks and to continue to refine the identity they convey through this material, and in that, to hopefully hold fast to this self-titled’s lack of pretense.

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Leafy Sign to More Fuzz Records; Self-Titled Debut out Dec. 9

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

Norwegian four-piece Leafy are pretty clearly keyed in on an oldschool stoner rock aesthetic, but the closest comparison point I can think of in listening to the streaming tracks “Can You See Them” and “Felt Like Dying” from their impending self-titled debut — the latter is the finale; no minor giveaway — is London’s Steak, who took similar influence from the desert on their first record and worked to make it their own through songcraft and various nuances. In the case of “Felt Like Dying” particularly, that comes through in Truckfighters-style fuzz (one assumes that Swedish troupe are also an influence on the “Mr.”-style nicknames) met with just a touch of grunge, but there are any number of lines to be drawn as the cycle of straightforward European heavy rock seems to be resetting itself through a new generation of acts.

Something to continue to watch for in the months (and years) to come. Meanwhile, Leafy‘s self-titled debut will be out Dec. 9 on More Fuzz Records. I put together the following from the label’s announcement and the band’s bio, if you’d like to be informed:

leafy

Leafy from Norway sign to More Fuzz Records

As you’ll be able to hear on the blog, they have a strong Northern Europe Stoner Rock sound that will hook you in instantly! Think burning fuzzy riffs with high Temperature Level ala early-Truckfighters or Dozer.

After several live performances on the southern Norwegian local scene, this hard hitting band quickly made a name for themselves and planted a seed. Leafy, fronted by Ryan Matthew Moen on vocals delivers unpolished Stoner Rock that takes you back to the original Nothern Europe style. With an array of pedals, guitarist Josh Bisama creates an atmospheric pressure while loudly leading over the groovy fuzz-laced bass, handled by Marcus Billington.

The musical energies combined from these four free-spirited individuals could not be arranged without the heavy rhythm section controlled by Per Arne Solvik. Inspired by observations, interactions and experiences, the lyrical aspect is often aimed at society, its inhabitants and a possible revival of the lost connection, delivered soulfully by the lead singer. Follow us on the journey, as we unfold the flower of life, from a single seed!

This is so cool, the family is getting bigger ;)

Mr. Fuzz

Releases December 9, 2016.

Leafy are :
Ryan “Mr. Leafy” Matthew Moen – Vocals
Josh ” Mr. Yoshi” Bisama – Guitars & Vocals
Per “Señor Pedro” Arne Solvik – Drums
Marcus “Marco el Róbalo” Billington – Bass
Enyeto Kotori – Bass (on the album)

https://www.facebook.com/weareleafy/
https://leafy420.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.instagram.com/leafy.official/
https://www.facebook.com/morefuzzrecords/
https://morefuzzrecords.bandcamp.com/

Leafy, Leafy (2016)

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Augustine Azul, Lombramorfose: At the Beginning of the Journey (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

augustine-azul-Lombramorfose

[Click play above to stream Augustine Azul’s Lombramorfose in full. Album out Aug. 16 on More Fuzz Records.]

There’s a jagged current to the rhythmic changes of Brazilian newcomers Augustine Azul, but the trio set considerable momentum throughout the six tracks of their debut full-length, Lombramorfose, released by the also-newcomer More Fuzz Records with a number of digital bonus items. Based in João Pessoa along the country’s coastline, the band is comprised of guitarist João Yor, bassist Jonathan Beltrão and drummer Edgard Moreira, and their progressive structuring, angularity and natural chemistry remind right away on opener and longest track (immediate points) “Amônia” of Fatso Jetson in how the music seems to be truly spontaneous. I don’t know what the exact recording circumstances were for Lombramorfose, but I’d assume just from how the songs play out that it was at least in some measure tracked live.

The band produced at Estúdio Peixe Boi and had a hand in the mixing and mastering as well, so while it’s their first record and they’re clearly just beginning a longer journey into what their sound can become, there’s also the sense that when the guitar comes forward on “Amônia” and then steps back to let the low end lead the groove on the subsequent “Jurubeba,” there’s something more than happenstance at play. That underlying consciousness — the fact that while they may sound like they’re just plugging in and going for it, they actually have plotted direction — makes Lombramorfose more enticing in terms the band’s future prospects, but it’s via the chemistry between them that they make their most resonant impact, their quick turns and noise-jazz semi-psychedelic rock — fuzzed out and brimming with energy looking to expand — executed with subtle precision across the board.

It’s also telling that the record is so short. Clocking in at 30 minutes flat, Augustine Azul‘s first outing seems to acknowledge the ask that some of its proggier stretches are making of its audience’s attention, and that too speaks to the band reaching out to their listenership in meaningful ways. Later cuts like “Pixo” and closer “Intéra” have some boogie to their rhythm, but it’s not like Augustine Azul are playing raw ’70s rock. Their arrangements are fairly stripped down — guitar, bass, drums — as they were on their 2015 debut EP, simply titled EP, but as “Amônia” pushes past the seven-minute mark with Earthless-esque solo swirl and start-stop lines that cut right into the fuzzier start of “Jurubeba,” Augustine Azul make it clear they’re looking to establish themselves as a progressive heavy rock act. And they do.

augustine azul

“Cogumelo” rounds out the first half of Lombramorfose with a shorter but more psychedelic and exploratory vibe, some airier guitar atop a still-solid rhythm, but by then the primary modus for the band is well established and it really just becomes a matter of continuing to build on the strong foundation they almost immediately put forth. This is accomplished via the transitions between the songs, so that by the time “Cogumelo” gets funky in its second half, Augustine Azul have already nailed down a fluid momentum for the first 15 minutes (-ish) of the album, and that will be something they continue to build on as the bluesy opening strains of “Mamatica” take hold to launch side B, immediately expanding the stylistic context of what’s come before, but doing so in a way taht makes sense and doesn’t seem at all out of place.

It’s worth taking the time to highlight Yor‘s guitar playing as being particularly stunning at points. Beltrão and Moreirap prove more than capable of holding their own, as the bounce beneath the soloing of “Mamatica” demonstrates, but in place of vocals, it’s the guitar entrusted to carry the melodic crux and set the mood of these tracks, and Yor shines in that forward role. His dynamic as a lead player bolstered by the rhythm section is perhaps the most classic thing about Augustine Azul‘s approach, but to go with the technically-minded shred at the end of “Pixo,” which follows “Mamatica” as the penultimate inclusion here, there’s a preceding moment of quiet, as though the band were gearing up for the charge still to come, so it’s not as though the entirety of Lombramorfose is just about one player.

Rather, as “Intéra” picks up with Augustine Azul‘s version of what might otherwise be motor-ready riffing, the trio as a whole seem to be the focus, and while Yor takes a quick noodling solo in the foreground, it’s Beltrão‘s bassline that really shines between what might be the verses if there were vocals to accompany. A break of airier-toned guitar gives way to a last thrust, but the band ultimately ends quietly, finishing the at-times intense rush of Lombramorfose with a sort of sonic asterisk as if to remind listeners they’re just getting going. That’s fair enough given some of the loud/quiet tradeoffs preceding, and while I wouldn’t necessarily speculate as to how the trio would continue to develop, they do strike as a band interested in pushing forward into real progression of their sound. However that might play out in the longer term, it will be working from a solid start.

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