All Them Witches, ATW: When the Process of Becoming Becomes the Process

Posted in Reviews on September 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

all them witches atw

It’s been a quick turnaround to get All Them Witches to their fifth album. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the four-piece have barely held still since the release of their 2012 debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here), issuing what would become a landmark in their second album, 2013’s Lightning at the Door (review here), and then becoming a touring band, signing to New West Records and continuing to press forward to bigger rooms, longer tours and an ever-present slew of digital one-off EP — the latest of which, the Lost and Found EP (review here), arrived earlier this year — singles, live recordings, and so on. Following up 2015’s predominantly mellow and melancholy Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), the band broke with their LP-per-year tradition and released their fourth full-length in last year’s Sleeping Through the War (review here). Though signature elements have been retained — the restless drumming of Robby Staebler, the bluesy jams led by guitarist Ben McLeod, the strong use of Rhodes piano and other keys, the creative basslines and increasingly confident vocals of Charles Michael Parks, Jr. — no two All Them Witches records have sounded alike, and Sleeping Through the War was again a departure.

Produced by Dave Cobb, it was an elaborate production involving background singers, guest instrumentation, and a broader scope than anything the band had yet produced. In their fifth long-player, the 56-minute ATW, they have offered a willful contradiction. McLeod takes the helm as producer — Grant Husselman recorded and Rob Schnapf mixed — and the eight resultant tracks are a distinct pivot toward a more stripped-down, naturalist approach. They eschew choral vibes in favor of the raw boogie of “Fishbelly 86 Onions,” launching the album with a couple telling seconds of show’s-about-to-start noise before kicking into the song itself. Indeed, most of what follows, from the winding turns of “1st vs. 2nd” into the dreamy and jammy reaches of the closing salvo “Harvest Feast,” “HTJC” and “Rob’s Dream,” feels built for the stage, whether it’s uptempo and relatively straightforward like “Half-Tongue” or the memorable and Western-slide-tinged second track “Workhorse,” All Them Witches still manage to cast a varied atmospheric impression while pulling the arrangements back to ground.

No doubt at least a portion of the credit — a fourth, maybe? — for that goes to new keyboardist Jonathan Draper, who here steps into the role formerly occupied by Allan Van Cleave. Those are not minor shoes to fill. In addition to having been a founding member, Van Cleave‘s Rhodes melodies added to the dreamy psychedelic stretches of All Them Witches‘ jams and made their blues all the more resonant. Even more to his credit, Draper lives up to the task, and from the wildman organ in “Fishbelly 86 Onions” and the subtle background tone of “Workhorse,” he makes his presence felt as an essential component alongside Parks, McLeod and Staebler in a fashion that makes the familiar aspect his own. The personality in his playing can be heard in “Half-Tongue” and the post-midsection sprawl of “Harvest Feast,” which tops 11 minutes and follows the moody highlight “Diamond” in order to lead into the back end of the record, and though there’s a sense of his integration still being in-process — that is, one gets the feeling that he’ll have even more to say in the arrangements next time around — he steps into a collection of tracks that stand on the strength of their songwriting and performance and plays a crucial role in letting them do just that.

all them witches

From everyone in the band, there’s a gleeful sense of defiance here. All Them Witches have always enjoyed contradiction — Lightning at the Door was heavy, so Dying Surfer Meets His Maker wasn’t, etc. — but ATW might be their most purposeful one to-date. It is the band reclaiming their identity. No coincidence McLeod is producer on it. After their more elaborate production to-date, they’re keeping it in-house, holding firm to the approach that’s gotten them to where they are and, through these songs, making a statement of what they want to be as a band and how they want their material to function. Granted, that’s an awful lot of narrative to read into it, and it’s not like they have a song called “We’re All Them Witches and You Can Kiss Our Collective Ass” or anything like that, but through the focus on their performance and the sheer will with which they execute “1st vs. 2nd,” “Diamond,” the experimental-feeling “HTJC” — which for much of its run is just Parks‘ vocals in folkish form backed by bass and a gradual, acoustic-laced build — it’s not a stretch to hear that All Them Witches, either consciously or not, are doing the work of regrounding themselves, reaffirming their methods and their desire to play not just in a certain style or styles, but however they want, whenever they want, wherever they want.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was hired to write the bio for the album and spoke to Parks as a part of that process about the songwriting and recording process. But even so, in listening, I keep going back to “Fishbelly 86 Onions.” It’s not like anything else the band brings to ATW, and inarguably their most active moment on the record. As the opener, it’s also an outlier, but in the howl leading into Draper‘s organ solo before the song hits the two-minute mark, there’s so much revelry in the spirit of the track that it’s almost like a breaking out. They’ve busted through whatever confines they were in and are running full sprint toward, what, themselves? I don’t know, but hearing Parks count from one to 20 as part of the lyrics, the fuzz in McLeod‘s guitar and the jazzy swing in Staebler‘s cymbals, there’s a torrential feeling of chaosmaking that’s just so much fun-as-a-statement that it affects everything that follows. The rim-ticks of “Workhorse,” the aggression at root in “1st vs. 2nd,” the storytelling in “Half-Tongue,” the progressive tension in “Diamond,” bluesy range of “Harvest Feast,” glorious wash in the payoff of “HTJC” and meld of psychedelia and classic heavy rocking starts and stops in “Rob’s Dream” — they all seem to draw from the plentiful energetic well of “Fishbelly 86 Onions,” and there’s enough left by the final moments of “Rob’s Dream” that All Them Witches jam their way through an upbeat payoff that finds all four members of the band at the height of their powers, still not overstated, but playing through with the deceptive class and chemistry that, as much as anything else, has become a hallmark of their sound.

Even unto its title, ATW is indicative of the intent on the part of the band to stake their claim on who they are. And it’s not even a full self-titled. It’s the acronym. Nothing extra, nothing more than it wants to be. Of course, they’re still a deeply nuanced band as they’ve always been, and there’s growth in their craft and in their performance, as there’s always been, but that’s all part of what makes All Them Witches who they are. I don’t know whether McLeod will produce their sixth offering or if they’ll once again look to someone outside themselves, if that record will expand on what’s here or draw even further back. One thing it’s never been safe to do is predict where All Them Witches will end up, because while they’ve never stopped moving forward, that “forward” is a path that seems likewise to veer in multiple directions at once. The passion that drives them is not only evident in ATW but key to the album’s overall success, and it’s refreshing to hear a band who, five records deep into their tenure, can sound both mature as a unit and like they’re still only beginning their exploration.

All Them Witches, “Diamond” official video

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

All Them Witches on Instagram

New West Records website

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Here’s the Bio I Wrote for All Them Witches’ ATW

Posted in Features on August 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

all them witches

A couple months back, I had the distinct pleasure of being asked to write the bio for the next All Them Witches album. Titled simply ATW, it’s a marked shift in approach from the preceding Sleeping Through the War (review here) not only in that it marks the introduction of Jonathan Draper on keys, but also in terms of overall production. Helmed by guitarist Ben McLeod, it’s the first time the Nashville four-piece have recorded themselves for a full-length offering. It pulls back on some of its predecessor’s more elaborate, “produced” feel and instead captures the natural interplay between the four members of the band. In short, it’s a more live-sounding, stage-ready album. And obviously I jumped at the chance to write the bio for it.

ATW is out Sept. 28 on New West Records. You can stream the opening track “Fishbelly 86 Onions” at the bottom of this post, and thanks for reading:

all them witches atw

All Them Witches – ATW

By most bands’ fifth LP, the sound is pretty set. Parameters established. Refinement dissipated in favor of formulaic execution of what’s worked in the past. Fair enough. All Them Witches take a harder route.

In 2017, the Nashville four-piece offered what might’ve otherwise become their own template in their fourth album, Sleeping Through The War. Their second for New West Records following 2015’s mellow-vibing Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, Sleeping brought larger production value to dug-in heavy psych blues jamming with oversight from producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson).

After exploring new ground on 2013’s Lightning At The Door and 2012’s Our Mother Electricity as well as Dying Surfer, with Sleeping the band had arrived at something new, something sprawling, and grander-feeling than anything before it.

So naturally, in a year’s time they’ve thrown that all to the Appalachian wind, turned the process completely on its head and reversed paths: recording in a cabin in Kingston Springs, about 20 miles outside of Nashville on I-40, with guitarist Ben McLeod at the helm. Take that, expectation.

The result, mixed by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Kurt Vile), is the most intimate, human-sounding album All Them Witches have ever recorded and another redefinition of the band. Introducing keyboardist/percussionist Jonathan Draper to the fold with McLeod, bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler, the new eponymous record isn’t self-titled by mistake. It’s the band confirming and continuing to develop their approach, in the shuffle of “Fishbelly 86 Onions,” the organ-laced groove of “Half-Tongue,” the tense build of “HJTC” and the fluid jam in closer “Rob’s Dream.”

It’s a reaction to being a “bigger” band. To playing bigger shows, bigger tours, etc. From the sustained consonants in Parks’ vocals to McLeod’s commanding slide in “Workhorse” and drifting melancholy at the outset of “Harvest Feast,” All Them Witches is there laying claim to the essential facets of their identity. And the urgency of these tracks – fast pushers and sleepy jams alike – is among their greatest strengths.

It’s a rawer delivery, as stage-ready as the band itself, and as ever, it captures All Them Witches in this moment. Is it who they’ll be tomorrow? Who the hell knows? Check back in and we’ll all find out together. That’s the whole idea.

TRACKLIST:
Fishbelly 86 Onions
Workhorse
1st vs. 2nd
Half-Tongue
Diamond
Harvest Feast
HJTC
Rob’s Dream

All Them Witches is:
Charles Michael Parks, Jr
Ben McLeod
Robby Staebler
Jonathan Draper

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, ATW (2018)

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Howling Giant Touring in August; Playing Psycho Las Vegas and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Let’s face it, August pretty much belongs to Psycho Las Vegas. There’s other stuff going on, as there always is, but the festival is something of an epicenter around which the rest of the month revolves, and an awful lot of tour routings, album releases, etc., are geared toward supporting what’s happening there. For good reason. What’s happening is arguably the biggest heavy underground fest in the States, and accordingly it’s all the more fitting that bands like Howling Giant should get out and tour as a part of making the trip. The Nashville progressive heavy rockers also toured up the East Coast earlier this year supporting their 2017 EP, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (review here), and they’re streaming now their contribution to Magnetic Eye Records‘ impending two-part Pink Floyd tribute compilation.

The PR wire invites you to dig it:

howling giant (Photo by Josh Dagenais)

Psych-Metal Road Dogs HOWLING GIANT to Tour Southwest En Route to August Psycho Las Vegas Appearance

Nashville trio preps for a quick string of blistering dates before and after their set at the massive Vegas festival next month, also leads off the upcoming Best of Pink Floyd release from Magnetic Eye Records.

Interplanetary riff-rockin’ powerhouse HOWLING GIANT hits the road again this August for a run of shows leading them to and from a coveted slot at that annual maelstrom of stoner/doom/psych bliss, Psycho Las Vegas.

Their “Arcane Ritual” tour includes the following stops:
Aug 15: Wichita Falls, TX – Iron Horse Pub
Aug 16: El Paso, TX – RCBG
Aug 17-19: Psycho Las Vegas
Aug 20: Scottsdale, AZ – Rogue Bar
Aug 21: Albuquerque, NM – Launch Pad
Aug 22: Las Cruces, NM – The Warehouse
Aug 23: San Antonio – The Mix
Aug 24: Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room
Aug 25: New Orleans, LA – Santos
Aug 26: Birmingham, AL – The Nick 42nd Street Tavern
Howling Giant are also confirmed as the album-opener to the much-awaited Best of Pink Floyd LP, Magnetic Eye Records’ companion album to its massively-anticipated The Wall [Redux] release. Both albums land this November and can be pre-ordered here.

Formed by self-proclaimed nerds, Howling Giant is a perfect marriage between pulpy sci-fi themes and blistering riff-psych. Fans of Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, early Baroness, Summoner and The Sword will immediately latch onto Howling Giant’s spaced-out, cosmically-informed songcraft and lyrics that span sea voyages to space flight to androids with a bloodlust for camels.

howlinggiant.bandcamp.com
twitter.com/howlinggiant
www.facebook.com/howlinggiant/

Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (2017)

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All Them Witches Finish Recording New Album; Tour Starts May 3

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

In less than a month’s time, All Them Witches will head out on their summer tour supporting Primus and Mastodon. The time crunch would seem to be on for the Nashville four-piece to put the finishing touches on their next album for New West Records by then — you know, little things like mixing and mastering, etc. — but the band has announced that they’ve completed the basic tracking process for the record, which is untitled as of now, and moved on at least to the mixing stage. I don’t know the timing on the release, so whether it gets out around September or sometime early next year, I suppose it could go either way, but after last year’s spectacular Sleeping Through the War (review here), you can bet I’m keeping an eye out.

That said, one never really knows what to expect from All Them Witches, and if you heard Sleeping Through the War and the preceding 2015 LP, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), back to back, I’m sure you know what I mean. So while I wouldn’t try to predict what’s coming in terms of sound or vibe, the fact that All Them Witches are coming up on their fifth full-length and the fact that no matter what they’ve done so far they haven’t delivered a clunker yet makes me inclined to believe the band when they say, “Have a feeling you guys will like this one” in their brief announcement that the recording is complete.

Find that below, followed by the upcoming tour dates, because one likes to be thorough:

all them witches parks

new album is tracked and headed to mixing! Have a feeling you guys will like this one…stand by

ALL THEM WITCHES Tour Dates:
MAY 3 • Rose Music Hall • COLUMBIA, MO
MAY 4 • Slowdown • OMAHA, NE
MAY 6 • Red Rocks Amphitheater • MORRISON, CO ^
MAY 8 • The Criterion • OKLAHOMA CITY, OK ^
MAY 10 • South Side Ballroom • DALLAS, TX ^
MAY 11 • Austin 360 Amphitheatre • DEL VALLE, TX ^
MAY 12 • Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion • ROGERS, AR ^
MAY 14 • BJCC Concert Hall • BIRMINGHAM, AL ^
MAY 15 • Nashville Municipal Auditorium • NASHVILLE, TN ^
MAY 16 • Fox Theatre • ATLANTA, GA ^
MAY 18 • Portsmouth Pavilion • PORTSMOUTH, VA ^
MAY 19 • Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater • CHARLOTTE, NC ^
MAY 20 • Red Hat Amphitheater • RALEIGH, NC ^
MAY 22 • Diamond Credit Union Theatre • READING, PA ^
MAY 23 • Artpark Amphitheater • LEWISTON, NY ^
MAY 25 • Cool Insuring Arena • GLENS FALLS, NY ^
MAY 26 • Bold Point Park • EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ^
MAY 27 • Maine State Pier • PORTLAND, ME ^
MAY 29 • Blue Hills Bank Pavilion • BOSTON, MA ^
MAY 30 • Penn’s Landing – Festival Pier • PHILADELPHIA, PA ^
JUN 1 • Stone Pony Summerstage • ASBURY PARK, NJ ^
JUN 2 • Pier Six Pavilion • BALTIMORE, MD ^
JUN 3 • Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk • BROOKLYN, NY ^
^ w/ Primus and Mastodon

All Them Witches is:
Charles Michael Parks, Jr. – Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Mellotron, Percussion
Ben McLeod – Guitar, Bass, Mellotron, Percussion
Robby Staebler – Drums, Percussion
Allan Van Cleave – Rhodes, Organ, Piano, Mellotron

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, Lost and Found (2018)

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Howling Giant Announce East Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

howling giant

As they prepare to take the stage this August at Psycho Las Vegas, Nashville progressive heavy rockers Howling Giant have announced a round of tour dates for May supporting their 2017 release, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (review here). What was, of course, a sequel to 2016’s Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (review here) and also followed 2015 self-titled helped the trio further their case for a more expansive sound. Still reveling in the occasional forward groove and off-kilter moment, the songs showed a growing sense of sonic persona that, contrary to what one might expect, did not make the sequel seem weak in comparison to the original.

Will there be a third installment of Black Hole Space Wizard, and if so, when? How the hell should I know. Why don’t you go to one of these gigs and ask the band yourself? Sheesh.

Tour details from the PR wire:

howling giant tour poster

HOWLING GIANT Hit the Road

Nashville riff-psych trio take their DIY sci-fi heaviness on northeast US tour in May, debut new Pink Floyd homage in advance of release alongside Melvins, Pallbearer, ASG, Mark Lanegan.

This May, Howling Giant heads back on tour in support of their latest self-released record, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2 (August 2017), with stops throughout the northeast and a coveted slot at Psycho Las Vegas to close out the summer.

To launch this run of dates with due fanfare, Howling Giant will preview their futuristic update of early Pink Floyd obscurity Matilda Mother, which Magnetic Eye Records will include as part of its colossal The Wall [Redux] / Best of Pink Floyd release extravaganza that has been building in scope and anticipation since early 2017 and features a range of new scenesters and established heavyweights.

Formed by three self-proclaimed nerds, Howling Giant is a perfect marriage between pulpy sci-fi themes and blistering riff-prog. Fans of Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, early Baroness and Summoner will immediately latch on to Howling Giant’s spaced-out, cosmically-informed songcraft, with lyrics spanning sea voyages to space flight, not to mention androids with a bloodlust for camels (because, again, why not?).

Howling Giant on tour in May:

5.10 – Chicago IL @ Reggies
5.11 – Cincinnati OH @ Cameleon Pizza
5.12 – Pittsburgh PA @ Howler’s
5.13 – Buffalo NY @ Mohawk Place
5.14 – Off
5.15 – TBA
5.16 – Easthampton MA @The Ohm
5.17 – TBA
5.18 – Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
5.19 – York PA @ The Depot
5.20 – Frederick MD @ Guido’s
5.21 – Off
5.22 – Baltimore @ The Depot
5.23 – Washington DC @ Atlas Brew Works
5.24 – Raleigh NC @ Slim’s
5.25 – Wilmington VA @Reggies 42nd Street Tavern
5.26 – Asheville NC @ Sly Grog
August 17-19 – Psycho Last Vegas

howlinggiant.bandcamp.com
twitter.com/howlinggiant
www.facebook.com/howlinggiant/

Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (2017)

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Quarterly Review: All Them Witches, Anthroprophh, Orphan Gears, The Watchers, Grajo, Mythic Sunship, Empress, Monads, Nest, Redneck Spaceship

Posted in Reviews on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Well, we’ve reached the end of the week if not the end of the Quarterly Review itself. That’s right: after hemming and hawing all week and going back and forth in my silly little brain, I’ve decided to extend this edition to a sixth day, which will be Monday. That means 60 reviews in six days, not 50 in five. Honestly, I could probably keep going for three or four more beyond that if I had the time or inclination, and I may get there someday, but I’m definitely not there now.

But hey, there have been a couple comments left along the way, so thanks for that. I appreciate you taking the time to read if you have. Here’s the last for the week and we’ll pick back up on Monday.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

All Them Witches, Lost and Found EP

all them witches lost and found ep

If Nashville four-piece All Them Witches put together the free-download Lost and Found EP simply as a means of getting their take on the folk song “Hares on the Mountain” out there, it was worth it. In the hands of vocalist/bassist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Rhodes specialist/violinist Allan Van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler, the traditional tune becomes a wide open dronescape, bristling and vague like memory itself. It’s beautiful and a little confusing in just the right way, and it comes accompanied on the short release by the Fleetwood Mac cover “Before the Beginning,” an even-more-subdued take on “Call Me Star” from 2015’s New West Records debut, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), and a dub redux of “Open Passageways” – called, of course, “Dub Passageways” – from the same album. Might be a stopgap between full-lengths, but still, at 18 minutes, it’d make a more than worthy 10” release if they were looking for something new for the merch table.

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

 

Anthroprophh, Omegaville

anthroprophh omegaville

Next time you feel like, “Hey man, I’m so freaked out and weird and wow man whatever blah blah,” just take a second to remember you live in a dimension where dudes from The Heads have side-projects. Paul Allen and Anthroprophh – his trio with Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb, otherwise known as the duo Big Naturals – are a freaked out freakout’s freakout. The stuff of psychedelic mania. And that’s only on the first disc of the 2CD Omegavlle (Rocket Recordings). By the time they get around to the three-song second disc and dig into extended trips like “Omegaille/THOTHB” (14:48) and the subsequent finale, “Journey out of Omegaville and into the…” (20:57), they’re so far gone into noise and captured, manipulated audio that who the hell knows where we’ve ended up? At 88 minutes, the limits of manageability are long left behind, but to get some of the Velvet Underground-in-space vibes of “Maschine” in trade for undertaking the undertaking it’s well worth letting go of the rigidity of things like time, place, etc.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Orphan Gears, Rat Race

orphan gears rat race

I’m pretty sure Orphan Gears used the Super Mario Bros. font for their logo on the cover of their latest EP, Rat Race, and for that, they should be saluted. The gritty-riffing semi-punker London four-piece offer five tracks and 20 minutes of workaday, boozy grooves, blowing off steam after putting in a shift at this or that crappy job. They are null as regards pretense, and ask little more of their audience than perhaps a beer from the stage or whatever else might be on the menu that night. They share initials, but unlike much of the London underground, they share little ultimately with Orange Goblin in terms of style, despite the shuffle of “Tough Luck, BJ” or the harmonica at the end of “Bitch-Slapped Blues,” and by the time they get to the classic strut of the title-track, they seem to be dug into AC/DC-style groove in the verse while blending in modern heavy rock impulses around it. They clearly save their best for last.

Orphan Gears on Thee Facebooks

Orphan Gears on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Black Abyss

the watchers black abyss

An immediately cogent, professional debut full-length is about what you’d expect from The Watchers, the San Francisco four-piece with members of SpiralArms, Orchid and Black Gates in their ranks, particularly after their prior EP, Sabbath Highway (review here), but that doesn’t stop the songwriting from impressing across the eight-song long-player, Black Abyss (on Ripple Music). The band’s presentation is crisp and pro-shop all the way through, from the soloing on “Oklahoma Black Magic” to the keyboard-laced TonyMartin-era-Sabbathism-meets-tambourine of “Suffer Fool” later on, and with the opening salvo of the title-track and “Alien Lust” right behind it, The Watchers set a quick expectation for hooks and a high standard of delivery that, thankfully, they show no hesitation in living up to for the duration, the chug-and-roll finale “Seven Tenets” satisfies in mood and efficiency, departing into airy guitar meditation and making its way back for a suitably rocking sendoff. Dudes know what they’re doing, where they’re headed and how they want to get there. All the listener needs to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Grajo, Slowgod II

grajo slowgod ii

A sequel to their 2015 full-length, Slowgod II (on Underground Legends Records, Spinda Records and DHU Records), sees Córdoba-based four-piece Grajo dug into a deep-toned psychedelic doom. There are flashes of Eastern influence on “Malmuerta,” with frontwoman Liz crooning over the minor-key guitar noodling of Josef, the forward motion in Félix’s drums and the heft of Pistolo’s bass. That dynamic works across Slowgod II, from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Altares” through its closing eight-minute counterpart “Malstrom,” which moves from early crunch through spacious volume swells in its middle only to regain composure and offer a heavy post-rock payoff that, somehow, still isn’t that atmospherically removed from the swinging “Horror and Pleasure” right before it or the similarly speedier “Queen Cobra” that follows “Altares” at the outset. Definitely one for the converted, Grajo deliver tones thick enough to stand on and engaging melodicism without falling into any real traps of sonic redundancy, varying their pace effectively and conjuring consuming plod on “ER” while still holding to that notion of breadth that seems to unite all their material here.

Grajo on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Mythic Sunship, Upheaval

mythic sunship upheaval

It just so happens this is exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. After releasing their Land Between Rivers (review here) LP through El Paraiso Records last year, the Copenhagen four-piece of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen, collectively known as Mythic Sunship, return with four more slabs of exploratory bliss on Upheaval. Either completely or partially improvised, “Tectonic Beach” (12:42), “Aether Flux” (10:55), “Cosmic Rupture” (6:44) and “Into Oblivion” (13:56) flow together like the work of masters, and with shades of patient space rock at their core, the tracks are infused with life even beyond the spontaneity of their creation. Heavy jams. Heavy, spacy jams. Molten. Swirling. Badass. Even the shorter and more forward “Cosmic Rupture” is headed out of the atmosphere, and when they come around to the noisy payoff deep in “Into Oblivion,” it’s abundantly clear they’re not joking around when it comes to the title. You can get onboard with Mythic Sunship, or you can miss out. Bands like this separate the hip from the squares.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records webstore

 

Empress, Reminiscence

Empress reminiscence

Those who miss the days when Mastodon or Baroness howled their shouts into a landscape of crunching tonal largesse might do well to dig into what Vancouver, British Columbia’s Empress have to offer on their late-2017 debut EP, Reminiscence. The 27-minute five-tracker isn’t without its sense of melody – there’s plenty of room in eight-minute second cut “Immer” – but guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco, bassist Brenden Gunn and drummer Chris Doyle make their primary impression via the impact of their material, and as they swap back and forth between shorter tracks and longer ones, a sense of structural playfulness results that moves through the bass openings of “Baptizer” (2:50) and “They Speak Like Trees” (9:27) into the ambient guitar finisher “Dawn,” and the feeling is that, like their stylistic forebears in at the time what was thought of as a new take on sludge metal, Empress will only grow more progressive as they move forward from this first outing. One hopes they hold firm to the tectonic weight they present here that so many others seem to have given up along the way.

Empress on Thee Facebooks

Empress on Bandcamp

 

Monads, IVIIV

monads iviiv

Released some six years after Monads’ 2011 debut, Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem, the Aesthetic Death Records-issued IVIIV was, according to the Belgian five-piece’s own accounting, in the works for most of that time in one way or another. One might say, therefore, that its creation does justice to the glacial pace of some of its slowest moments, the crawling death-doom extremity of pieces like “To a Bloodstained Shore,” or the lurch before the gallop takes hold in “Your Wounds Were My Temple.” At four songs and 50 minutes, IVIIV is indicative enough of the style, but Monads legitimately showcase a persona of their own in and out of those genre confines, the melancholic atmosphere and expanded arrangement elements (piano, etc.) of 15-minute closer “The Despair of an Aeon” creatively used if familiar, and the smoothness of the transitions in opener “Leviathan as My Lament” setting a tone of scope as well as downward emotional trajectory. Not sure I’d count on a quick turnaround for a follow-up, but if half a decade from now a new Monads record surfaces, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.

Monads on Thee Facebooks

Aestehetic Death Records website

 

Nest, Metempsychosis

nest metempsychosis

Rolling from its untitled intro through its untitled outro through a barrage of charred-black, bludgeoning sludge extremity, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Nest, Metempsychosis (on Sludgelord Records), refers in its title to a transmigration of the soul, an inheritance almost as much as reincarnation. The band may be talking about themselves or they may be working on a theme throughout the record’s seven proper tracks, I don’t know, but if the idea is destruction and rebirth, they certainly sound more interested in the former. Songs like “Heretic” seethe and scour, while the lumbering and spacious closer “Life’s Grief,” capping with abrasive noise, would seem to be a mission statement in itself. Individual pieces like “Jewel of Iniquity” and the preceding atmosphere-into-mega-crush “Diving into the Entrails of Sheep” – of course the centerpiece of the tracklisting – are shorter unto themselves, but like everything else that surrounds, they feed into an overarching ambience of disgust and chaos.

Nest on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Redneck Spaceship, Grand Marshal Ape

redneck spaceship grand marshall ape

There are some issues as regards the balance of the mix pushing the vocals forward ahead of the guitar to work out, but Moscow’s Redneck Spaceship impress all the same with the intent and execution of their late-2017 self-released debut, Grand Marshal Ape. In riffs and songcraft, their influences stem from the classic days of stoner rock, but from opener “The Sands of Dakar” and the later “That Sounds Nuts,” one gets a vibe of underlying punk influence, while the twang in harmonized highlight “On the Roadside” and slide guitar of “Maverick” lends a Southern, bluesy swing that the penultimate “Enchained” answers back later ahead of the sample-laden psychedelic jam-out closer, “Antariksh,” which strikes as a far cry from the ultra-straightforward presentation earlier on “Empty Pockets,” but speaks to an immediate scope in Redneck Spaceship’s sound. One hopes they continue to meld elements as they progress beyond Grand Marshal Ape and bridge the gap between one side of their moniker and the other.

Redneck Spaceship on Thee Facebooks

Redneck Spaceship on Bandcamp

 

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All Them Witches Release Lost and Found EP; New Album to be Recorded this Spring

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Nashville’s All Them Witches have released a new free download digital EP and announced they’ll record their next full-length in April. As far as good news goes, it’s hard to fuck with that. Of course, the heavy psych/blues rockers have a long track record of dropping digital outings with little warning — hell, before they signed to New West ahead of 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), it was their primary method of release — and over the years, they’ve kept in steady touch with their audience via outings like A Sweet Release (review here), the “George ‘Dubya’ Kush” single (discussed here), their cover of “Born Under a Bad Sign” (discussed here), the Effervescent EP (review here) that later wound up on vinyl, and numerous other live outings and one-offs.

The aspect all these releases share in common? Eventually they go away. That means that if you want the just-released four-tracker Lost and Found — which sees the foursome revisit a couple of the tracks from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker with an alternate version of that album’s opener “Call Me Star” and a dub redux of “Open Passageways,” as well as covering Fleetwood Mac with “Before the Beginning” and putting their stamp on the traditional folk song “Hares on the Mountain” — then you want it now. Because if you wait, it might not be there the next time you look.

After All Them Witches are done in the studio this April, they’ll hit the road in May to tour with Primus and Mastodon. You’ll find those dates below along with their announcement of the new release, the recording info, and of course the thing itself, which you can download right from the Bandcamp player here if you’re so inclined.

And you should be so inclined.

Dig:

all them witches lost and found

Suprise, Suprise! It has been a year since we have released anything. Stoked on this. Enjoy these tunes for FREE.

ATW update, we are hitting the studio in April to record a new full length. Hope this EP holds you over till then.

Thank you for listening and please share. Produced By Ben McLeod. Mixed by Ben McLeod. “Dub Passageways” dubbed by Grant Husselman. Mastered by Mikey Allred at Dark Art Audio. Album art/layout: Robby Staebler. Courtesy of New West Records

Released February 26, 2018.

Tracklisting:
1. Hares On The Mountain 05:46
2. Before The Beginning (Fleetwood Mac) 03:42
3. Call Me Star 04:12
4. Dub Passageways 04:21

ALL THEM WITCHES Tour Dates:
MAY 3 • Rose Music Hall • COLUMBIA, MO
MAY 4 • Slowdown • OMAHA, NE
MAY 6 • Red Rocks Amphitheater • MORRISON, CO ^
MAY 8 • The Criterion • OKLAHOMA CITY, OK ^
MAY 10 • South Side Ballroom • DALLAS, TX ^
MAY 11 • Austin 360 Amphitheatre • DEL VALLE, TX ^
MAY 12 • Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion • ROGERS, AR ^
MAY 14 • BJCC Concert Hall • BIRMINGHAM, AL ^
MAY 15 • Nashville Municipal Auditorium • NASHVILLE, TN ^
MAY 16 • Fox Theatre • ATLANTA, GA ^
MAY 18 • Portsmouth Pavilion • PORTSMOUTH, VA ^
MAY 19 • Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater • CHARLOTTE, NC ^
MAY 20 • Red Hat Amphitheater • RALEIGH, NC ^
MAY 22 • Diamond Credit Union Theatre • READING, PA ^
MAY 23 • Artpark Amphitheater • LEWISTON, NY ^
MAY 25 • Cool Insuring Arena • GLENS FALLS, NY ^
MAY 26 • Bold Point Park • EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ^
MAY 27 • Maine State Pier • PORTLAND, ME ^
MAY 29 • Blue Hills Bank Pavilion • BOSTON, MA ^
MAY 30 • Penn’s Landing – Festival Pier • PHILADELPHIA, PA ^
JUN 1 • Stone Pony Summerstage • ASBURY PARK, NJ ^
JUN 2 • Pier Six Pavilion • BALTIMORE, MD ^
JUN 3 • Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk • BROOKLYN, NY ^
^ w/ Primus and Mastodon

All Them Witches is:
Charles Michael Parks, Jr. – Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Mellotron, Percussion
Ben McLeod – Guitar, Bass, Mellotron, Percussion
Robby Staebler – Drums, Percussion
Allan Van Cleave – Rhodes, Organ, Piano, Mellotron

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, Lost and Found (2018)

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All Them Witches to Tour with Primus and Mastodon

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ALL THEM WITCHES

As Joe Biden once leaned over on mic and told Barack Obama: This is a big fucking deal.

Continuing to support what was my pick for 2017 album of the year in Sleeping Through the War (review here) on New West Records, Nashville four-piece All Them Witches head out beginning May 3 to pick up a few nights later and serve as the support slot for no less than Primus and Mastodon. Let’s be honest, this is a fucking incredible gig to get, and All Them Witches have been putting in their time the last couple years touring at home and abroad and releasing killer records all the while to make it happen, so all the best and nothing less to them. There isn’t a doubt in my mind they’ll absolutely kill it on this tour and turn a lot of heads among those who show up early to see either of the two acts above them on the bill, appealingly individualized and still heavy as their style is.

Yeah, I’m sorry. There’s just no way this doesn’t rule. I doubt they’ll see this but on the off-chance they do: congrats guys. Hope to catch you in Providence, Boston or NJ. Or, you know, maybe all three. Ha.

News came through the PR wire:

primus mastodon poster

ALL THEM WITCHES – Primus and Mastodon Tour Announced

We are going on tour with Primus AND Mastodon May 6th – June 3rd!
Tickets are on sale now.

For a full list of tour dates, head over to AllThemWitches.org

Upcoming Tour Dates:
MAY 3 • Rose Music Hall • COLUMBIA, MO
MAY 4 • Slowdown • OMAHA, NE
MAY 6 • Red Rocks Amphitheater • MORRISON, CO ^
MAY 8 • The Criterion • OKLAHOMA CITY, OK ^
MAY 10 • South Side Ballroom • DALLAS, TX ^
MAY 11 • Austin 360 Amphitheatre • DEL VALLE, TX ^
MAY 12 • Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion • ROGERS, AR ^
MAY 14 • BJCC Concert Hall • BIRMINGHAM, AL ^
MAY 15 • Nashville Municipal Auditorium • NASHVILLE, TN ^
MAY 16 • Fox Theatre • ATLANTA, GA ^
MAY 18 • Portsmouth Pavilion • PORTSMOUTH, VA ^
MAY 19 • Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater • CHARLOTTE, NC ^
MAY 20 • Red Hat Amphitheater • RALEIGH, NC ^
MAY 22 • Diamond Credit Union Theatre • READING, PA ^
MAY 23 • Artpark Amphitheater • LEWISTON, NY ^
MAY 25 • Cool Insuring Arena • GLENS FALLS, NY ^
MAY 26 • Bold Point Park • EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ^
MAY 27 • Maine State Pier • PORTLAND, ME ^
MAY 29 • Blue Hills Bank Pavilion • BOSTON, MA ^
MAY 30 • Penn’s Landing – Festival Pier • PHILADELPHIA, PA ^
JUN 1 • Stone Pony Summerstage • ASBURY PARK, NJ ^
JUN 2 • Pier Six Pavilion • BALTIMORE, MD ^
JUN 3 • Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk • BROOKLYN, NY ^

^ w/ Primus and Mastodon

All Them Witches is:
Charles Michael Parks, Jr. – Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Mellotron, Percussion
Ben McLeod – Guitar, Bass, Mellotron, Percussion
Robby Staebler – Drums, Percussion
Allan Van Cleave – Rhodes, Organ, Piano, Mellotron

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-through-the-war
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, “Bulls” official video

All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War (2017)

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