It’s a scientific fact that Connecticut-based heavy rocking foursome Lord Fowl have enough cool on hand at any given moment they could rent it out to other bands running low. I think what I like best — aside from the star-wipes — about the double-guitar slinging outfit’s new video for the title-track of 2012′s Moon Queen sophomore full-length (review here), also their debut on Small Stone, is that every time I watch it I could swear I’ve somehow just slipped back in time and I’m watching something I taped off local access circa 1991.
Between the vintage effects, the soundstage look and the stacks of amps behind, it hits all its marks in much the same way Moon Queen did when it dropped last year, so all the better. In case you missed the news a little while back, Lord Fowl are heading out on the road later this week with Irata and their fuzz-loving Virginian labelmates in Freedom Hawk, which makes the timing on the new video coming out even better. You’d almost swear these things were planned out ahead of time.
So as Lord Fowl prepare to hit up SXSW, Fuzzed Out! fest and more, here’s the clip for “Moon Queen,” followed by the tour dates:
Freedom Hawk, Lord Fowl & Irata: SXSW & More 03/08 Chapel Hill, NC @ Nightlight w/ Collossus 03/09 Murrell’s Inlet, SC @ Rockin Hard Saloon 03/10 Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern w/ Carolina Chupacabra 03/11 Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge w/ Savagist, Guzik 03/12 Birmingham, AL @ Nick w/ Aethenoth 03/13 Lake Charles, LA @ Luna Live w/ Large Marge 03/14 Austin, TX @ Headhunters – Small Stone SXSW Showcase 03/15 San Antonio, TX @ Nightrocker Live – SXSA Small Stone Showcase w/ Wo Fat & Las Cruces 03/16 Austin, TX @ Scoot Inn – Converse/Thrasher “Deathmatch” @ SXSW – The Power of the Riff – Free Day show 12-4pm. 03/16 Fort Worth, TX @ The Grotto – Fuzzed Out! Fest w/ Wo Fat and Southern Train Gypsy, Ape Machine, Been Obscene, Mothership 03/17 Nashville, TN @ TBA
Posted in Reviews on January 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Based out of New Haven, Connecticut, fuzzy trio Crooked Hook were a rarity for East Coast heavy rock. During their time together, they put out a self-titled demo EP (2006) and a follow-up full-length, called The Captain Will be Your Guide (2007), garnering some considerable appreciation among the faithful, but not really fitting in with the heavy rock of the day. There were a few others around of their ilk — Pennsylvania’s Pearls and Brass come to mind most readily — but Crooked Hook had more classic rock swagger mixed with their blues, and their tones were straight-up vintage ’70s in a way that hadn’t really caught on yet as a viable approach. In the end, they faded following the release of The Captain Will be Your Guide and haven’t been heard from since.
Safety Meeting Records, which initially issued the 28-minute demo as well as the subsequent album on CD, is revisiting Crooked Hook‘s beginnings with a reissue of the former. Pressed to 150 gram, 45 RPM vinyl (a CD is also included), they are limited to 100 copies and duly faithful to the sweet, organic tonality of the original release. In fact, with a similarity in packaging that goes right down to the thick cardboard stock of the LP sleeve and the stamped design on the front cover — the CD came in the same style package, but obviously smaller — everything about this seven-years-later version of Crooked Hook‘s Crooked Hookharkens back to when these songs first appeared. The only difference is the format and the fact that in 2013, one can listen to the five tracks in a totally different context.
The difference? Well, in the last seven years, what was an oddball approach from Crooked Hook as early adopters of the post-Witchcraft vintage ethic has become a mainstay element of underground heavy. It’s always easy (and often fun) with a reissue to imbue an album with posthumous import, as though simply because it’s removed now from its original sonic ecosystem, it matters more, but there’s little question in my mind that the band were ahead of their time. In fact, that was probably the problem. If Crooked Hook were kicking around the seven-minute “I Just Might Crack” today, they’d be right in line with some of Tee Pee Records‘ best echoey retro heavy psychedelia. Their songs were catchy and straightforward enough to be readily accessible, thick enough in bassist RickOmonte‘s tone and imbued with a grooving nonchalance by guitarist Joey Maddalena‘s vocals that “cool” became as much an instrument as anything else. Even on the closing jangle of “Slow Sun,” on which drummer Jason Bates thumps out a blues stomp beneath more open guitar, they seem to presage the big-sky Americana that’s currently working its naturalist way into US heavy psychedelia.
Posted in Reviews on August 29th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
You know what they say about the ladies in orbit. They really get around.
In the opening title-track of New Haven, Connecticut, foursome Lord Fowl’s Small Stone debut, Moon Queen, there appears the line, “I’m in love with a satellite lady.” Read that again: “I’m in love with a satellite lady.” If you’re wondering perhaps what the hell that could possibly mean, then you’ve taken the wrong approach to Moon Queen, and like a choose-your-adventure book, you need to turn around and start over. The dually-fronted outfit is comprised of guitarist/vocalists Vechel Jaynes and Mike Pellegrino, bassist/engineer Jon Conine and drummer Don Freeman, and like the line “I’m in love with a satellite lady,” there’s a lot about the record (their second overall behind the impressive 2008 release, Endless Dynamite) that doesn’t seem to make sense at first but ultimately requires being approached on its own level. You have to be willing to go along with it, and when you do, you’ll find the trip more than justified in that Moon Queen works in several thematic. Movement is one of them. Space is another. Issues of love, sex, masculinity all crop up throughout the 12 tracks/47 minutes of the album, and very often, one song bleeds directly into the next, as “Moon Queen” does into “Touch Your Groove,” the lyrics to which contain a clear reference to the titular character described in the opener. Because this progression continues throughout the lyrics to most of the songs – including the Iron and Wine cover “Woman King,” which starts the second half – the temptation is to think of Lord Fowl working in some kind of narrative arc, but if that’s so with the lyrics, the songs themselves and the music those lyrics rest over don’t immediately seem to have the same kind of feel. That is, when things make the turn from “Quicksand”’s relationship-as-paingiver lyric to the defiance against that in “SOS,” the music remains consistent behind it without the kind of changes in mood that would connote Moon Queen having been composed entirely as a concept record in the traditional narrative sense. Still, Jaynes and Pellegrino mention flying, breaking free, driving, running, moving and going – so motion in general, transience, is a prevalent, persistent theme. In that, the music does follow suit, because if Moon Queen does anything at all, it moves.
Shades of KISS and Mötley Crüe make themselves known in songs like “Moon Queen” and “Split,” but at its heart, Moon Queen is an American-style heavy rock record. Put to tape by Conine and mixed in the Small Stone tradition by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, MA, it’s right in line with the label’s growing next-gen roster, sharing some classic soul influence with Gozu and a laid back grooving thickness with Wo Fat without losing hold either of its own identity or the personality of Lord Fowl themselves, which doesn’t shy away either from ‘70s rock suggestiveness (“Touch Your Groove,” “Hollow Horn”) or a bygone element of craft in the songwriting. Their methods are retro and their presentation is modern, in other words. Moon Queen touches on psychedelia – it would almost have to – in closer “Pluto,” which revives the space theme of the opener and thus rounds out the album nicely, but that’s a far cry from the ‘80s speed anthem “Streets of Evermore,” which might be as close as Lord Fowl get to metal in its intro but holds both to the band’s penchant for melody and has a hook too strong to be anything but accessible. Songs are well within radio range if radio was in the range of them, and despite the emphasis on tying their individual pieces together lyrically, there’s nothing pretentious in the band’s approach whatsoever, “Moon Queen” starting off introducing upbeat, fuzzed-out heavy rock with engaging riffs and a start-stop chorus highlighting both vocalists. Conine’s bass is an asset, and in both “Moon Queen” and “Touch Your Groove,” Freeman’s drums fill muted space nicely – never showy, always in service to the song, adding a little stomp to the bridge and verse of “Touch Your Groove” than only enhances its already formidable swagger. Because you can’t write a song about sex without low end, Conine’s basslines toward the halfway point also provide ample potency, while the lines, “Don’t you come too soon/She’s the queen of the moon,” leave little to the imagination as to the topic of discussion.
And if I’m focusing heavily on lyrics throughout this review, let that be a testament to the impression left from Pellegrino and Jaynes’ vocals, which are confident both on their own and all the more effective when used in combination, as on “Touch Your Groove.” The handclap-ready snare beats of “Split” lead to a faster rush in the riffing of the chorus, but again, both singers prove essential in conveying the song’s atmosphere, which is both intricate, Conine joining Freeman in the verse and bridge where the guitars cut in and out, and righteous on the surface – much like the album itself. One fuzz guitar, then two begin “Mutate” before the vocals kick in, and it’s an immediate cut in tempo from the song preceding, but already with Moon Queen, Lord Fowl have shown they can pull off such changes, and so the more open feel in the guitars and echoing vocals are far from out of place. But for the opener, “Mutate” is the shortest track on the album, but there’s still room for a reverbed Southern rock solo under which Freeman tosses in some choice fills, and for the lyrics to turn the “gotta fly” from “Split” into the “float away” as they are here before flight is once again taken on “Streets of Evermore.” It’s hard to pick a single of the record’s many hooks to reign as the defining one, but “Streets of Evermore” makes an excellent case, an infectious chorus topping lead guitar and releasing the tension built during the verse near perfectly as the song keeps hold of the “riding,” “driving” ideas that play both into the sex of “Touch Your Groove” and the overarching ideas of movement all across the record. Whether it’s superlative will depend on the listener, but the song has an energy all its own and is a definite standout, meandering a bit in its ending section before finally coming apart altogether, crashing into amp noise to lead into the police dispatch transmission sampled at the beginning of “Dirty Driving.” The song, which has the lines “If you’d like to call a spade a spade/Then you better understand that a pig is a pig,” closes out side A with Moon Queen’s only overt treatment of race – it’s hard to hear through the hits at the beginning, but I’m pretty sure that cop is dropping slurs while talking about shotguns in Watts – but even that is put into the context of driving, of moving, perhaps an answer to “Ridin’ Dirty” as filtered through soulful classic rock. The falsetto backing vocals in the chorus make it, and the dual guitar lead in the song’s second half ties it together with “Streets of Evermore” and the more Thin Lizzy-style bop of “The Queen is Not Impressed” still to come.
New Haven, Connecticut, purveyors Curse the Son got their start a few months after the untimely end of guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore‘s prior outfit, Sufferghost. Sufferghost guitarist Tony Buhagiar was inflicted with a burst aortic aneurysm in 2007, and though he survived, that was more or less the end of the band. Together with bassist Cheech and drummer Rich Lemley, Curse the Son is now among the brighter hopes for doom in the Land of Steady Habits. The trio self-released their first full-length, Klonopain, late last year and are actively trying to ignite the Connecticut scene, playing host to the inaugural CT Fuzzfest on June 4 at Cherry St. Station in Wallingford.
It’s a formidable lineup joining Curse the Son on the CT Fuzzfest bill (you can see it below; all that’s missing is When the Deadbolt Breaks to bring in some ultra-doomed atmosphere), and I wanted to get a sense from Vanacore about what his hopes were for Curse the Son and the scene as a whole. Klonopain draws influence from a host of thick-riff purveyors, and aside from an understanding of the timeline between moving from Sufferghost to this project, I was hoping to find out what was driving Vanacore stylistically and in terms of keeping Curse the Son its own entity musically.
The guitarist was happy to cooperate, and I’m proud to say that of all the email interviews ever conducted for this site (and that’s plenty), this is the first one to have ever been done via private messages back and forth on the forum. I don’t know how you feel about that, but I think it’s awesome.
So thanks to Vanacore for taking part and please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:
1. After Sufferghost ended, how did you decide to start over again with Curse the Son? Are you still in touch with Tony? What’s his current condition?
It was not a decision that came easy. When Sufferghost ended, I was so devastated that I just stopped playing music altogether. You see Tony and I have a really cool relationship. There is this unbelievable chemistry between us. There were never any disagreements…we genuinely love and respect each other’s riffs, lyrics and ideas. I’ve never been in a situation like that where two guys are literally in the same head space all the time… It was incredible!
But when it ended so suddenly, it was a shock to the system. I couldn’t even go into the band room anymore, it was to depressing knowing it was over. I think it was about six months later, Tony and I were talking and he told me that I needed to play again. That is when I began writing material for Curse the Son.
As far as my relationship with Tony now, we talk all the time. He moved back to his hometown of Hayward, California, a couple years back. After a lot of hard work, he is back playing guitar again! His new band is called Tuco Ramirez and they rule. Good old ‘70s style hard rock. It makes me so happy to know he is playing again, I miss him dearly and hope that one day he returns to the East Coast so we can pick up where we left off.
2. What are some of the differences stylistically between Curse the Son and Sufferghost? Is there anything specific you wanted to do differently in this new band?
Stylistically, I view Curse the Son as a flip of the Sufferghost style. With Sufferghost it was classic stoner with doom accents. The Curse the Son sound is much doomier without losing the sense of melody and cohesion Sufferghost had.
Tony is a much better guitar player than I could ever hope to be. The dude has the chops. I am a much more rhythm based guitar player. So I play to my strengths… the riffs and the groove.
3. Has your songwriting process changed at all with the switch? How do you come up with riffs, and how do the songs come together from there?
The very first time me and Tony jammed I recorded it. It was such a good jam that we ended up with all the riffs for three out of the four songs on our Leave the Church EP! Most of our tunes came from jamming.
The process changed dramatically as Curse the Son began. It was me and my 8-track. Get stoned and write riffs for hours. Then hash out the quality ideas and start putting the song together. It was an abstract process but I’m pretty fortunate that I have the ability to hear a “finished song” way before it’s actually finished.
Initially there was no band, it was just my vision. I had no idea what I was going to do with the music. I just wanted to create something that was crushingly heavy and would honor my friend.
4. Tell me about recording the songs for the full-length. How do the album versions of the tracks that were originally on the EP compare to the originals?
The basic tracks for our CD Klonopain were recorded live. Just the three of us in the same room vibing off each other. It was a very cool, stress free experience. We recorded it at Underground Sound here in Connecticut. The owner Chris DelVecchio, is a good friend of mine and he gave me free rein over the place. We started recording on a nice sunny day in mid-May 2010, and didn’t wrap it up until December! I took my time with it because I could. Klonopain is the first record I’ve ever been a part of where I am 100 percent happy with everything about it.
As far as the Globus Hystericus EP goes, you have to remember that I recorded all the instruments myself. The intention was to have a product that I could use to promote the Curse the Son name and sound. Soon after its release I started to look for likeminded musicians to play with.
It was Cheech (bass) and Rich (drums)’s idea to rerecord those four songs. I was hesitant at first, but I’m really glad we did it because the new versions just bury those EP tracks, no question.
5. I know about the Redscroll Records store and Cherry St. Station in Wallingford and a couple other places around, but is there a Connecticut scene at this point? Are there other bands you especially enjoy playing with, or is everyone up in Massachusetts?
There is actually something starting to happen again in the New Haven scene. Mostly this is due to a couple friends of mine, Opus (Dead by Wednesday) and Eric Morton (Big E Promotions) who have been booking metal nights at places like Cherry St. Station in Wallingford and Bix’s Cafe in Branford. Toad’s Place has turned a blind eye towards metal for the most part, which sucks. The CT scene is weird, it comes and goes every 5-10 years or so.
Most of the bands we play with are very different from us, but we seem to fit in on any bill and we usually stand out which is always cool. I didn’t think there were any other stoner/doomy type bands around here but I was wrong!! They are just spread out all over the place and have never unified. I am hoping to give that a boost with CT Fuzzfest 2011 which takes place at Cherry St. Station on June 4. As far as I know there has never been any type of show featuring all bands like us here. I hope it gives the whole genre a kickstart around here. It’s time for Connecticut to get on board!
The lineup for the gig is: Sea of Bones
Curse the Son
King of Salem
6. What’s next for you guys? Any plans for shows around or outside of Connecticut or more recording before the end of the year?
The next step is to begin writing for the next release. I have a bunch of riffs ready to go, and look forward to jammin’ with the fellas.
We would love to play out of state, if we can find the right gigs, right bands and the right venues. Touring is probably not a reality as of now, but if the right opportunity came, hell yeah!
I hope to get the band back in the studio by late fall and have the next CD out in early 2012.
Thanks to your readers who have responded with such excitement and purchased the CD. To purchase Klonopain, it is $5 shipped (US) $10 (UK). Core9@netscape.net is our contact email and Paypal address.