Monster Magnet Getting Ready to Mindfuck North America

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

I really want to see Monster Magnet on this tour. Not just out of appreciation for their latest album, the gleefully-titled Mindfucker (review here) or of what they’ve done before, but because I think this tour — this one, with the dates below — is a special moment for the band. Yeah, it kind of looks like a standard major market North American run. Couple dates in Canada, shows spread across both US coasts, a stop at Aftershock Festival in Sacramento. Fair enough. But Monster Magnet‘s last US run was cut short when the band’s frontman, Dave Wyndorf, caught the flu, and though they’ve been to Europe a bunch of times, including just last month to make headlining stops at the Desertfests, a full American stint is rarer.

And with the lineup around Wyndorf of guitarists Garrett Sweeny and Phil Caivano, bassist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella (the latter two both also of The Atomic Bitchwax), it just seems all the more like now’s the time to show up. So I’m going to do my best to absolutely do that.

Oh, and if you need another argument in favor, Electric Citizen are supporting. So right on.

Info from the PR wire:

monster magnet tour poster

MONSTER MAGNET Announces North American Tour

March of 2018 saw the release of the latest MONSTER MAGNET masterpiece “Mindfucker” (Order and Stream The Album) on Napalm Records. Following three exclusive Northeastern US shows, the band headed across the pond for a European headline tour. Now they are ready to return to North America for a full headline tour this Fall.

The band will hit the road in North America on September 28th in Toronto, ON. The tour will run through October 28th in Boston, MA. Support on the tour will come from Electric Citizen and Dark Sky Choir. A complete list of dates can be found below.

A message from MM frontman Dave Wyndorf:

“Can’t wait to hit North America with the MINDFUCKER tour! Warning: This is REAL ROCK music, made loud to be played loud! A Monster Magnet show is a face melting celebration of electric madness made all the better and fueled to peak intensity by the attendance of excitable human beings. Hope you’re part of that equation! See you soon!

Monster Magnet:
9/28: Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
9/29: Pontiac, MI @ The Emerald Theatre
9/30: Louisville, KY @ Louder Than Life Festival*
10/2: Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
10/3: Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze
10/5: Denver, CO @ The Bluebird Theater
10/6: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
10/8: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
10/9: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
10/10: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
10/12: San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
10/13: Sacramento, CA @ Aftershock Festival*
10/15: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
10/16: San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
10/17: Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
10/19: San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
10/20: Dallas, TX @ Canton Hall
10/21: Houston, TX @ White Oak (Upstairs)
10/23: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
10/24: Nashville, TN @ Basement East
10/26: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
10/27: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
10/28: Boston, MA @ The Sinclair

*Festival Appearance

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” official video

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Solace Finish Recording New Album Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

solace

Someone needs to sign Solace immediately. I’ll brook no delay in hearing their new album, tentatively titled Broken Bodies and Suffering Spirits. Eight years is long enough. The long-running New Jersey outfit teased the possibility of a new record in 2017 with the cassingle Bird of Ill-Omen (review here), which marked the studio debut of the new lineup of the band with drummer Tim Schoenleber and vocalist Justin Goins alongside guitarist Justin Daniels and founders Tommy Southard (guitar) and Rob Hultz (bass), and aside from proving that the band still existed, that tape kicked total ass, so yeah, get that album out as soon as humanly possible. Right from the master to the press to my greedy hands, please.

Solace have been playing shows and mostly making appearances at various fests in the Northeast region since returning to the stage in 2015, but whatever it winds up being called ultimately, their fourth long-player will be the first since 2010’s brilliant A.D. (review here), which came out via Small Stone some seven years after its predecessor, 2003’s 13 (discussed here), which itself was preceded by their 2000 debut, Further. I don’t know how much they’ll play out in support of this upcoming collection, but Solace remain badass on a level few could hope to attain let alone hold onto for any amount of time. Whatever happens in terms of live performances, the point is new Solace. New fucking Solace. Shit, I don’t even care if it’s mixed. Just plug it into my ears as loudly as possible.

Tracklisting and whatnot follow. The album was recorded at Trax East in South River, NJ:

solace studio setup

Intense couple of days tracking the new SOLACE record.

Tentative title “Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits”

10 songs tracked.

1-Breaker of the way.
2-Crushing black.
3-Waste people.
4-The light is a lie.
5-The Dead sailors dream.
6-Husk of darkness.
7-Desert Coffin.
8-Bird of ill omen.
9-Until the last Dog is hung.
10-Dead sailors Reprise.

Can’t wait to finish. More dates to follow! We will keep you posted!

Expect some healthy doses of Heavy 70’s Riff Rock, NWOBHM Riffing, Drunken Sea Shanties, Weighty DOOM, and a smidge of 90’s Noise. You’ve been warned…..

https://www.facebook.com/SolaceBand/

Solace, “The Crushing Black” snippet

Solace, A.D. (2010)

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Vessel of Light Announce Woodshed Album Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

vessel of light

Last month when Vessel of Light announced the title of their Argonauta Records debut full-length as Woodshed, I, in full internet-snark mode, cast my bet that there was some murder going on in that backyard. You know what? Called it. If nothing else, Nathan Opposition likes working on a theme.

Vessel of Light, of course, is the Ohio-based Opposition (see also Ancient VVisdom) teaming up with New Jersey guitarist Dan Lorenzo (see also Hades, The Cursed), and they issued their self-titled debut EP (review here) through Argonauta last year, setting an initial tone of drugs, killing and psychosis that it seems the forthcoming long-player is only too happy to follow-up.

Vessel of Light‘s Woodshed is out Sept. 21.

From the PR wire:

vessel of light woodshed

VESSEL OF LIGHT reveal new album details

US Doom Metallers VESSEL OF LIGHT (featuring Nathan Opposition of ANCIENT VVISDOM and Dan Lorenzo of HADES) reveal cover artwork and track-list of their highly anticipated album “Woodshed”.

About the album concept, Nathan says: “Woodshed is a twisted plot involving a torturer and his numerous victims, his devious plan to kill in the name of God, and the mental breakdown that follows. The consequences of murderous actions that tell a tale of ritualistic sacrifice, homicide/ suicide, offerings to “the holy Lord”, and the truth behind the lies of reality. The content is dark and cold. A drugged out murder spree by a man haunted by the voices of the dead.”

By commenting this new album, Dan Lorenzo said: “Woodshed is a title that has intrigued me for a while now. I consider myself a songwriter more than a true musician. I know serious musicians will say they are ‘woodshedding’ or practicing a lot. In the winter when it’s cold out in New Jersey, I definitely pick up a guitar more than I do in the summer..not to ‘practice’, but to write new music. The woodshed in American culture has traditionally been a place where someone goes to work on something often secretly. In the old days it might be where a parent goes to give their child a beating. Sometimes the woodshed could be used to hide nefarious things that nobody is supposed to find out about. Nathan took this concept and created lyrical genius. It’s fucking dark as hell man.”

VESSEL OF LIGHT teamed-up with renowned Italian artist Marco Castagnetto (www.zenpunkart.com) to give their visions a proper form by realizing a stunning cover artwork.

VESSEL OF LIGHT “Woodshed” will be released on CD/LP/DD by ARGONAUTA Records and available from September 21st, 2018.

More details and preorder info available soon.

TRACK-LIST:
1) Woodshed
2) Part of My Plan
3) A Love So True
4) Son of Man
5) Watching The Fire
6) Beyond The Cellar Door
7) One Way Out
8) Man’s Sin
9) Day of Rest
10) End It All
11) Pray For A Cure

Nathan Opposition Vocals, drums, lyrics, melodies, keyboard
Dan Lorenzo Guitar, bass, music, backing vox on Part Of My Plan
Michael Jochum guitar solo One Way Out

https://www.facebook.com/vesseloflightband
www.instagram.com/VesselOfLightMusic
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/ArgonautaRex

Vessel of Light, “Son of Man” official video

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The Atomic Bitchwax Touring Europe in July & August

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the atomic bitchwax

The moral of the story would seem to be it’s a busy summer coming up for The Atomic Bitchwax. The New Jersey-based stalwarts of headspinning riffery had already announced a North American run in June with The Sword, and now it seems that once that’s over, they’ll go home for a couple weeks and then head back out, this time to Europe, where they’ll take part in gigs alongside Yawning Man and 1000mods as well as the SonicBlast Moledo festival and others. The North American tour is presented by Tone Deaf, the European by Sound of Liberation.

They go, of course, in support of late-2017’s Force Field (review here) on Tee Pee Records, their seventh album and prove that the ferocity of their approach remains steady and that the three-piece have only grown tighter with all the road time they’ve put in over the last couple years. I could go on and on about that, but the bottom line is these guys are on fire right now, and if you miss them it’s at your own peril.

Here’s dates and such from the PR wire:

the atomic bitchwax tour

The Atomic Bitchwax – European Tour 2018!!

Still promoting their latest (and most badass!) album “Force Field”, released in December 2017 via Tee Pee Records, New Jersey’s The Atomic Bitchwax will return to Europe this summer!

Check-out the dates below, and plan your vacations accordingly! You don’t want to miss them if they come near your town!

The Atomic Bitchwax w/ The Sword:
6/07 Albuquerque NM @ Launchpad
6/08 Tucson AZ @ 191 Toole
6/09 San Diego CA @ Belly Up
6/11 Portland OR @ Wonder Ballroom
6/12 Bellingham WA @ Wild Buffalo
6/13 Vancouver BC @ Venue
6/15 Calgary AB @ Marquee
6/16 Edmonton AB @ Union Hall
6/17 Regina SK @ The Exchange
6/18 Winnipeg MB @ Pyramid
6/19 Chicago IL @ Thalia Hall
6/20 Cincinnati OH @ Bogart’s
6/22 Pittsburgh PA @ Mr Smalls Theatre
6/23 Washington DC @ Rock N’ Roll Hotel
6/24 New York NY @ Irving Plaza
6/26 Johnson City TN @ Capone’s
6/27 Nashville TN @ Exit/In
6/29 Hot Springs AR @ Maxine’s

The Atomic Bitchwax European tour:
20.07.18 (D) Cottbus | Zum Faulen August
21.07.18 (D) Siegen | Vortex
22.07.18 (NL) Leeuwarden | Welcome To The Village
23.07.18 (D) Karlsruhe | Alte Hackerei
25.07.18 (HUN) Budapest | A38
26.07.18 (CRO) Zagreb | Vintage Industrial Bar
27.07.18 (A) Ebensee | Kino Ebensee
29.07.18 (D) Munich | Backstage (*with 1000Mods)
30.07.18 (D) Dresden | Ostpol
31.07.18 (D) Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (*with Yawning Man)
01.08.18 (D) Berlin | Cassiopeia (*with Mammoth Mammoth)
02.08.18 (D) Hamburg | Hafenklang
03.08.18 (D) Beelen | Krach am Bach
04.08.18 (GR) Almiros | Los Almiros Festival
06.08.18 (UK) Coventry | The Phoenix
07.08.18 (UK) Glasgow | Audio
08.08.18 (UK) London | The Black Heart
09.08.18 (UK) Bristol | The Exchange
10.08.18 (B) Kortrijk | Alcatraz Festival
11.08.18 (PO) Moledo | Sonic Blast Moledo

http://www.theatomicbitchwax.com/
https://www.facebook.com/The-Atomic-Bitchwax-86002001659/
http://teepeerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/teepeerecords/
www.soundofliberation.com/the-atomic-bitchwax

The Atomic Bitchwax, “Hippie Speedball” official video premiere

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Vessel of Light to Release Woodshed in Sept.; New Video Posted

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

vessel of light

Druggy heavy death rockers Vessel of Light have announced their first long-player, titled Woodshed, will be released in September by Argonauta Records. Anyone wanna guess what’s happening in that woodshed? Is it the neat organization of a host of useful tools and gardening equipment? Maybe. Is it where they keep the lawnmower? Maybe. Is there murder? Oh most definitely.

The duo of Ancient VVisdom frontman Nathan Opposition and Hades guitarist Dan Lorenzo made their debut in 2017 with their self-titled EP (review here) and worked quickly to establish a foothold in a sound fueled by Lorenzo‘s weighted riffage and Opposition‘s drug-praising murder poetry lyrics. Together, they made the hooks of songs like “Dead Flesh and Bones” almost unfortunately catchy — let’s face it, that’s not the kind of thing you want to go around singing on a crowded train; or maybe it is — and the newly unveiled song “Son of Man” would seem to have followed suit.

“Son of Man” shows an immediately more balanced mix for Vessel of Light, which is encouraging, and I’m pretty sure that footage of Strawberry Alarm Clock from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls used in the video. Hey, if you’re not gonna appear in your own clip, that’s probably the footage you want to use, so right on.

Details are pretty minimal for the moment, but I’ll hope to have more on Woodshed as we get closer to the release, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, you’ll find “Son of Man” below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Dig:

Vessel of Light, “Son of Man” official video

US doom metallers VESSEL OF LIGHT (featuring Nathan Opposition of ANCIENT VVISDOM and Dan Lorenzo of HADES) release their new single taken from the forthcoming full length.

The song “Son of Man” is an impressive step forward compared to the already highly acclaimed self-titled EP. Opposition handles both drums and vocals and Lorenzo plays guitar and bass on Son of Man.

This is the third video for the duo who also released two lyric videos off their self-titled debut on Argonauta.

“Son of Man” is taken from the forthcoming full “WOODSHED”, to be released by ARGONAUTA Records on CD/LP/DD in September 2018.

Dan Lorenzo (Hades, Non-Fiction, The Cursed) teamed up with Nathan Opposition (Ancient VVisdom) to form a musical project called Vessel Of Light. The duo entered Brainchild Studios in Cleveland to record their debut during Summer 2017.

Vessel of Light on Instagram

Vessel of Light on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

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The Atomic Bitchwax Premiere Video for “Hippie Speedball”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the atomic bitchwax

There’s a moment at about 1:40 into the 2:26 ‘Hippie Speedball’ where founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik of The Atomic Bitchwax lets loose this quick run that will absolutely, 100 percent knock you on your ass. Should you be surprised? Hells bells, no. Shifting their audience out of an upright position — i.e., relocation to “on ass” — has become standard practice for the long-running New Jersey trio of Kosnik, guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella. Ever since their 2011 riff-splurge, The Local Fuzz (review here), and most definitely once they came around to 2015’s more aggressive Gravitron (review here), they’ve been recharged and completely on the attack. Late 2017’s Force Field (review here) is just the latest manifestation of this impulse that’s been at the heart of the band since their 1999 debut.

It may, however, also be the most badass manifestation. The Bitchwax have been around long enough that given fans are going to have given favorite records. Hey, that’s cool. But as the three-piece move forward with Force Field and get ready to hit the road supporting The Sword — funny, I recall seeing the two bands together in Jersey opening for Kyuss Lives! and The Atomic Bitchwax had Dave Witte filling in on drums; Black Cobra also played that night; weird show, but awesome — they do so at their most progressive moment. They seem at this point not only to be challenging themselves physically, as in, “Can we possibly play faster than this?,” but also as songwriters: “Can we write songs that speed by listeners in a blur but are still somehow memorable?” The answer, at least on Force Field, is a resounding yes.

To wit, “Hippie Speedball” is an unbridled beast of a track. Placed right at the open of Force Field it’s primed to shake even the least shakable of posterior chains, and the new video for the track, with clips out of old sci-fi movies, the band jamming out and good fun all around, could hardly do more to represent some of what works best about the record as a whole: excellent band, all cylinders, killer tune, hitting the road. How could you call that anything but a win?

I consider pretty much any time I get to post about The Atomic Bitchwax a favor to myself, so I’m extra thrilled today to be able to host the premiere of the “Hippie Speedball” clip, which you’ll find on the player below. The tour dates with The Sword and more info off the PR wire follow.

Enjoy:

The Atomic Bitchwax, “Hippie Speedball” official video premiere

Recorded at the Freakshop in Keyport, New Jersey, mixed at The Panic Room in Ocean, New Jersey and mastered by Alan Douches (CHELSEA WOLFE, TOMBS, THE OBSESSED), “Force Field” sees THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX’s high energy, scale-based guitar mangling hitting astronomical levels, with full stack amps pushing out dangerous levels of blown-out metallic mayhem. An awe-inducing tumult of head-down forward drive and top tier hard rock, “Force Field” mashes sci-fi and hi-fi, rocketing THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX into the outer reaches of the modern-day heavy music universe.

The Atomic Bitchwax w/ The Sword:
6/07 Albuquerque NM @ Launchpad
6/08 Tucson AZ @ 191 Toole
6/09 San Diego CA @ Belly Up
6/11 Portland OR @ Wonder Ballroom
6/12 Bellingham WA @ Wild Buffalo
6/13 Vancouver BC @ Venue
6/15 Calgary AB @ Marquee
6/16 Edmonton AB @ Union Hall
6/17 Regina SK @ The Exchange
6/18 Winnipeg MB @ Pyramid
6/19 Chicago IL @ Thalia Hall
6/20 Cincinnati OH @ Bogart’s
6/22 Pittsburgh PA @ Mr Smalls Theatre
6/23 Washington DC @ Rock N’ Roll Hotel
6/24 New York NY @ Irving Plaza
6/26 Johnson City TN @ Capone’s
6/27 Nashville TN @ Exit/In
6/29 Hot Springs AR @ Maxine’s

The Atomic Bitchwax on Thee Facebooks

The Atomic Bitchwax website

Tee Pee Records on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

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Friday Full-Length: Solarized, Neanderthal Speedway

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Solarized, Neanderthal Speedway (1999)

Primo fuzz the way they used to make it. New Jersey heavy rock, like my beloved Garden State itself, will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’ll confess I never got to see Solarized live. That hasn’t stopped me from over the years periodically taking Neanderthal Speedway or its 2001 follow-up, Driven off the shelf and giving them a spin. And why would it? The albums, the first of which came out on Man’s Ruin Records on April 9, 1999, have a fuzz and personality of their own, but listening back to the 12 tracks of Neanderthal Speedway now, my head is flooded with associations, from the riff of “Solar Fang” being directly tied to Monster Magnet‘s “Zodiac” to the low end work that Lou Gorra was simultaneously bringing to his own band, Halfway to Gone, while doubling alongside Solarized‘s core founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Jim Hogan and drummer Reg Santana, to the smell of sweaty summer nights at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch and the ride back north on the Parkway. Rounded out by guitarist Pete Hauschild on the debut, Solarized were never the highest-profile of the New Jersey heavy underground set, which at the time was being widely picked up by labels big and small in the wake of Monster Magnet‘s commercial success, whether it was Core on Atlantic, Solace on MeteorCity, Halfway to Gone on Small Stone, or The Atomic Bitchwax on Tee Pee.

There was certainly plenty enough rock to go around, and one can hear the punker roots that a lot of the above bands share/shared in Solarized‘s “Psyclone Tread,” but like so many others of their ilk, slowing down (some) and fuzzing out suited Solarized impeccably. They started Neanderthal Speedway at a good clip with “Nebula Mask,” seeming to answer Californian desert rock directly with a decidedly Eastern Seaboard crunch to their guitar tones. Hogan‘s vocals were clean but not overly melodic — another punk trait — and the drive of the tracks on the whole was more geared toward rawness than patience, even when it came around to cuts like “Shifter” on which Ed Mundell and Tim Cronin — both of Monster Magnet at one point, now of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and The Ribeye Bros., respectively — turned in guest appearances on guitar and percussion. Solarized seemed far more comfortable in the middle ground of songs like “Fire Breather,” “Gravity Well” and “Black Light Swill,” digging into hooks and hard-hitting, mid-paced riff-led fare, given to an overarching nod, but not necessarily slow in itself. Even a song like “February Sixth (Anti-Life Equation),” which boasted such rhythmic swing, kept to a solid tempo. Hey, if you’ve got a thing, and it works, go for it.

The four-piece’s original bio for Neanderthal Speedway, which was posted here seven years ago, noted Hogan‘s and Santana‘s connections to Daisycutter, in which Cronin and Mundell also played, as well as The Atomic Bitchwax‘s Chris Kosnik later on, and called Solarized “atomic boogie rock.” Fair enough. To hear “Aftermath,” it’s a decent description, and though Solarized saved the most of their lysergy for when Mundell showed up as on “Cloud King” or the excuse-me-I-believe-you-have-it-backwards instrumental closer “Monolith,” and it worked for them when they broke it out, but their sound was by no means a constant one way or they other. That worked for them too. Here’s the full bio in case you don’t feel like clicking the link:

solarized neanderthal speedway bio

As you can see, it was a pretty easy sell. Fuzz-drenched heavy rock and roll from what was at the time one of the country’s most fertile underground scenes. After Man’s Ruin went under, Solarized hooked up with MeteorCity for Driven — the label had also put out the Jersey Devils split with Solace (discussed here) in ’99 — and then seemed to sort of dissolve by the mid-aughts. Jim and Reg, who share the last name Hogan these days, play together in the punk band Defiance Engine, and Reg has another new outfit called 19DRT who’ll play their first show on April 20 at the Mill Hill Basement in Trenton. Ah, memories of that place.

I guess I’ve got New Jersey on the brain because, you know, I wish I lived there, but whatever the case, as always I hope you enjoy.

If how long it’s taken me to put together this post and how much of the last hour I’ve spent asleep with my head down on the kitchen table is anything to go by, I probably should’ve gone back to bed at some point after the alarm went off at 4:30AM. Perhaps the hint I should’ve taken was when I looked at my phone and it was 4:45 and I’d missed the first two rounds of the alarm. It was not my most fluid of mornings.

But that only feels fair enough since this was the LONGEST FUCKING WEEK EVER. Oh my god damn was this week long. Yesterday, I was sitting in The Patient Mrs.’ car waiting to pick her up from work and I fell asleep with my head on the steering wheel as I tried to calm The Pecan in the back seat, who was screaming like a madman — because he hates when the car sits still, likes it when the car moves. He finally quieted down and we both fell asleep at about the same time with the car idling outside the library on her campus. Some time later there’s a knock on the driver’s side window and I’m shocked awake. I jumped and rolled down the window and told the cop, “You scared the shit out of me,” which is apparently something you can say when you’re 36 years old, so white you’re practically transparent, and driving a Volvo with a baby and a dog in back. I told him I was waiting for my wife and my explanation for why I was unconscious was as simple as pointing to the back seat and saying, “five month old.” He said, “It gets better,” and went on his way.

But still, longest week ever. I can’t believe it’s not next Wednesday yet. Between the Quarterly Review, getting the last bits of the Roadburn ‘zine in place — still working on that — and other writing projects, my big luxury yesterday was stopping to go the bathroom and take a shower. I didn’t have time to do either, really. What a wreck. The Quarterly Review wraps on Monday, which will be a relief, and then it’s back toward some semblance of normality.

Subject to change as always, here are the notes for the week:

Mon.: QR6, Brond track premiere.
Tue.: Rancho Bizzarro EP stream, Green Desert Water video premiere.
Wed.: Shrine of the Serpent track premiere.
Thu.: Hound the Wolves Six Dumb Questions; Greenbeard video premiere.
Fri.: Mirror Queen video premiere.

So yeah, that plus catching up on all the news that slipped through the cracks this week should be a nice break. That’s why I get paid the big bucks. Ha.

On that happy note, I wish you a great and safe weekend. If you need me, I’ll still be here, trying to catch up. Maybe I’ll even answer some email and Facebook messages for the first time in like a week.

Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet mindfucker

[Click play above to stream the premiere of the Hawkwind cover ‘Ejection’ from Monster Magnet’s new LP, Mindfucker, out March 28 on Napalm Records.]

For about the first seven seconds of its opening track, Monster Magnet‘s Mindfucker is indistinguishable from a Ramones record. Over a howl of feedback, the drums count-in quickly and with the ringing-out of a first power chord and a “let’s go!” from founding frontman Dave Wyndorf, the 3:30 “Rocket Freak” is underway, almost immediately giving the forward position to the album’s stated mission of proto-punk simplicity meeting heavy rock drive. Wyndorf can’t resist an excursion or two into space — nor should he, frankly — as the ranging seven-minute “Drowning” shows, or the mid-paced warnings in closer “When the Hammer Comes Down,” but with a crux in impactful, forward-thrusting cuts like “Soul,” “Mindfucker,” the take on Hawkwind‘s “Ejection,” “Want Some” and “Brainwashed,” even the penultimate “All Day Midnight” balances its melancholia with stage-ready energy in its delivery, and even in comparison to the long-running New Jersey troupe’s recent output, 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), the two let’s-weird-’em-up redux specials — 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), which took on Last Patrol, and 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here), which did likewise for 2010’s Mastermind (review here) — Mindfucker sounds invigorated, genuinely rooted in the place where punk and heavy rock meet, and is of course rife with the lyrical nuance of Wyndorf‘s written and spoken voice as a keystone presence.

Yes, Monster Magnet sound like Monster Magnet. To expect otherwise 30-some years after the band began to take shape seems, frankly, like a ridiculous notion. But as ever, they’re also working to twist that meaning and expand their overarching context, so that even as they sound like themselves, with some drum contributions from producer Joe BarresiWyndorf and guitarist Phil Caivano worked largely alone in the studio — the live band is rounded out by guitarist Garrett Sweeny, drummer Bob Pantella and bassist Chris Kosnik (the latter two also of The Atomic Bitchwax) — to reshape, and for lack of a better phrase, fuck with that definition, expanding it in new and interesting dimensions.

Two items to note in the interest of full disclosure here. First, I’m a Monster Magnet fan. I grew up in New Jersey, and I’d admired the band’s work throughout the various stages of their career. Their albums aren’t always perfect, and there have been times when it’s seemed like they’ve put out records almost to antagonize the expectations of their fanbase — oh, you wanted Superjudge? well here’s 4-Way Diablo — but even that speaks to a creative will I find admirable. Second, I was hired by Napalm Records to help write the bio for Mindfucker, which I hope to post here sooner or later, and compensated for that effort. I don’t believe that affects my impartiality about Mindfucker‘s 10-track/49-minute run, because I don’t think I had any to start with, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. There. Now it’s out of the way.

Chiefly, what Mindfucker does is work toward a long-stated goal on the part of Wyndorf to tap into the raw ’70s power of bands like MC5 and The Stooges, the early punk of the aforementioned Ramones and others of a more garage-ly ilk. Its production remains modern — Milking the Stars and Cobras and Fire experimented with some true retro stylization, and it worked, but Mindfucker‘s are too high-energy to give up their aural clarity in such a way — but it’s interesting to note that Monster Magnet and long-running Danish garage acolytes Baby Woodrose have perhaps never sounded so similar from this end as they do on “Ejection,” “Brainwashed” or even the more melancholy “All Day Midnight,” which retain a character of performance less outwardly speeding-at-night-punked than “Rocket Freak” or the subsequent “Soul” at the outset, but prove no less memorable in their hooks, while songs like “I’m God” and “Mindfucker” itself continue the social commentary of Last Patrol, with Wyndorf positioning himself as the “living among the clouds” observer of the downward spiral that modernity seems perpetually to be riding.

“I’m God,” lyrically, imagines a new flood of sorts, while “Mindfucker” couches the totality of the daily news cycle in the standout hook of its chorus: “You’re a mindfucker baby, look what you done to my head/You’re a mindfucker baby, settin’ fire to my bed/Soul crushin’ love child, deep inside of my brain/You’re a mindfucker baby, beautiful and insane,” putting the world in which we live in the position of the proverbial crazy significant other. And fairly enough so.

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

“Mindfucker” itself is maddeningly, almost unfortunately, catchy. This is an aspect it shares with “I’m God,” “Want Some” and “Ejection,” the latter of which is perhaps unsurprisingly about as pure a classic rocker as the band offers throughout. As the side B leadoff, it mirrors somewhat the push of “Rocket Freak” at the start of side A, but with even more choice lead guitar work, flourish of tripped-out effects and lyrics that, instead of celebrating the “Rocket Freak” — “She’s my rocket freak and it’s the end of the world” — see space as an inevitable place of escape from the woes of the day. I don’t want to paint Mindfucker as being overly political, since it’s not like Wyndorf is calling for legislation banning assault weapons or writing anti-Republican protest songs, but there’s an underlying awareness of the absurdity in which America, and indeed the world, exist on a day-to-day basis that seems to be the undercurrent lyrical theme tying the record together in the places where it does.

That comes through certainly in “Brainwashed,” which leads the way into the closing duo of “All Day Midnight” and “When the Hammer Comes Down,” which seem to break away a bit from some of the moves the rest of Mindfucker is making. Less so “All Day Midnight” the elevator of which gets off right at the 13th floor and knows exactly where it wants to head, but much as “Drowning” — the longest cut on the album at 7:21 — offered a melancholy and contemplative finish to side A, “When the Hammer Comes Down” at the very least makes no attempt to hide the dire nature of its point of view, which can be summarized in the final lines, “You tapped a supernova when you left the truth to drown/The universe will do you right, when the hammer comes down,” which, in the context of the earlier, “Karma’s a bitch, people/I hope you bought a nice bed,” would seem to leave little to question as to what Wyndorf sees as the direction in which humanity is headed.

However, much as the album isn’t overly political in an obvious way — you can put it on, rock out, and not think once about rising ocean levels, mass shootings, #metoo moments or the social media misadventures of a commander in chief culled from reality television — neither is it a downer. Quite the opposite. Though its lyrical skepticism is pervasive, and its very title — which I admit elicited a “really dude?” from me at first as well, as would seem to have been at least part of Wyndorf‘s intention toward his audience — is somewhat abrasive, Mindfucker‘s multifaceted tracks build significant momentum between them and the long-player as whole pushes forward with only a bare minimum of letup to allow for dynamics to play out.

It is continually satisfying to be unable to predict where Monster Magnet and Wyndorf as the auteur thereof will head on a given release — one still hopes for more go-back-and-screw-with-it revisionist works eventually for records like 2001’s Monolithic Baby! and the aforementioned 4-Way Diablo, let alone the potential to play up the bizarro aspects of these cuts — and Mindfucker indeed presents a sonic turn even from Last Patrol as it veers away from the psychedelic aspects on display there and toward more bare-bones structures and direct, stage-ready presentation. What’s unflinching, however, and wherever the band goes at any given point, is genuine lyrical genius, and a conceptual foundation that challenges its audience to actively engage with it even as the songs themselves are classic-pop catchy and unabashed in being centered around memorable hooks.

Any Monster Magnet release is going to provoke strong opinions on multiple sides of their now-multigenerational fanbase, and with a certain amount of confrontationalism even on the most superficial of levels, Mindfucker will be no different in that regard. But what remains true is that even as they approach the 30-year mark since their founding in 1989, they continue to be moved by an unrelenting creative spirit, and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon, regardless of the direction any individual release might take. As vast an influence as they’ve had, Monster Magnet are still one of a kind, and as Wyndorf asks the question in the title-track here, “Why you gotta fuck with my head?,” yeah, he’s summarizing the social strata in which we currently exist, but also he surely does so knowing that in the balance of the band’s years and decades, he’s given as good as he’s got in terms of mindfuckery.

Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” official video

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