Posted in Whathaveyou on April 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
New Jersey-based heavy psychedelic four-piece Eternal Fuzz are getting ready to release their sophomore full-length. Titled Nostalgia and officially listed as “coming soon” by the band, the record is reportedly due out in a couple weeks, though exactly what form it will take — LP, CD, CS, DL, some other two-letter combinations I can’t think of — is as yet unclear. Nonetheless, Nostalgia will be the follow-up to a self-titled debut Eternal Fuzz put out in 2012, which also had a cover of time-lapse star photography, and a demo released in 2011 (review here) that showed marked promise for their brand of heavy groove, and yes, fuzz.
So far, two new songs have been released off Nostalgia — “Closer (Slugnaut) Fleet” and “Astral Tractor Beam” — both of which showcase a fullness of sound and clarity of approach that seem an immediate step forward for the band from where they were with the self-titled, less melodically assured and tapping partially into a Baroness-style of heavy to some degree. With its slow march and multi-layered vocals, “Closer (Slugnaut) Fleet” still has some of that modern progressive edge, but seems to bend it to suit a slower, more rolling purpose. They toy some with pacing, but the central feel is patient and engrossing, and that suits Eternal Fuzz well in name and concept.
“Astral Tractor Beam” works in similar form, its big-riff focus reminiscent almost of Snail, but it ties to “Closer (Slugnaut) Fleet” by its melodic awareness and the fluidity of its loud/quiet tradeoffs. Both songs bode remarkably well for the album to come, whenever it does. Nostalgia was recorded in Fall 2014 with the lineup of Joe, Kyle, Mike and Luke, and you can hear both of the new tracks from it below, hopefully with more to follow:
“Nostalgia” will be available in roughly two weeks! In the meantime, hope you enjoy one more teaser-track up on bandcamp… Astral Tractor Beam
Posted in audiObelisk on April 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It would be wrong to say The Atomic Bitchwax‘s sixth album, Gravitron, is a return to the form of their early days, if only because it would somehow imply that the record — which is out tomorrow on Tee Pee — is backward-looking. The New Jersey-based outfit released their self-titled debut in 1999, and the only remaining member from that record is bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik, so it’s not like The Atomic Bitchwax are trying to hearken back to some glory-days ideal from 16 years ago. Frankly, they don’t need to. The material across Gravitron‘s 10 tracks blazes in the best way possible, Kosnik, guitarist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella tearing into what’s become the band’s signature winding riffage and delivering it at a head-spinning pace on instrumental cuts like “Down with the Swirl” and “War Claw” (a tribute to Wroclaw, Poland, maybe?) and the early rager “No Way Man.” The Bitchwax‘s last outing, 2011’s The Local Fuzz (review here) was more of a concept piece than an album — a single extended track of riff-barrage, almost mocking the idea of “it’s all about the riffs,” and to considerable effect. With Gravitron, they reincorporate what’s always been their truest strength: Songwriting.
And they do so with considerable intensity. The first moments of opener “Sexecutioner” tell the tale — Gravitron begins at full blast and offers precious little letup until the penultimate “Roseland” transitions to the slower groove of closer “Ice Age Hey Baby.” It’s a tumult of head-down forward drive, Kosnik, Ryan and Pantella, maybe having benefited from getting “The Local Fuzz” out of their system — a grand purging — getting immediately down to business. For those who came aboard with The Atomic Bitchwax since the release of 3 in 2005, which was Ryan‘s first in the band, Gravitron will easily be the heaviest, meanest album encountered. The trio is tight, the turns are crisp and the flow of the album is thrust along with momentum that only builds as they dig into the catchy, classic Bitchwaxian “It’s Alright,” Ryan and Kosnik putting on a Rushy technical clinic without showing off or making the fact that they can play like that the point of the song while Pantella translates their twists into an accessible, memorable groove that’s one of the high points of the album. Add to that the momentary slowdown of “Coming in Hot,” which closes out side A with another on-fire jam, this one shifting out of the chorus with a drum solo that the guitar and bass join seamlessly in a manner fitting for the chemistry The Atomic Bitchwax have developed on stage in recent years. Killing it, in short. The trend continues on side B.
Proof that we’re dealing with a more confrontational Bitchwax? How about “Fuck Face?” Punctuated by a jabbing snare and led by the guitar and bass simultaneously through an under-three-minute instrumental run soaked in wah, it’s nonetheless a fast-swinging barnburner and not the first or the last. “Porto World” follows and while it’s the first song to touch the four-minute mark — only “Ice Age Hey Baby” is longer, at 4:45 — it still rages, with Kosnik warning, “I hope you brought your battle axe” as they run at a sprint into a cowbell-inclusive groove before trading back to the next verse and hook, the cowbell returning again as a bridge before a final chorus closes out, quickly, classically-structured but still brimming with energy, which is all the more fitting for “Down with the Swirl”‘s jazzy turns and solo-topped build. They barely stop to take in the view as they reach that mountaintop in “Down with the Swirl,” but the song provides emphasis on the newfound vitality of the trio anyway, not so different ultimately from some of what “The Local Fuzz” had to offer, just in a different, more upbeat context, like a disgruntled In Rock-era Deep Purple raised on Red Bank burgers and fries. While “Porto World” and “War Claw” could easily be Euro-minded, “Roseland” is purely regionalist homage, taking its name and lyrical basis from the long-running venue in Manhattan (my grandmother danced there in the 1930s) turned into luxury condos just in case anyone needed a convenient example of how New York City has degraded itself in pursuit of profit post-9/11 and the financial collapse of 2008. The Atomic Bitchwax take a more sentimental view, bidding the big room goodbye with due sentiment and thud in what seems like a landmark hook until the handclaps start on “Ice Age Hey Baby.”
As they close out their sixth album, they seem to have learned the best lesson of their fourth, 2008’s TAB4, which caught some flack for being poppier and more slickly produced even than 3 or the 2006 Boxriff EP, but had more than a couple of gems to its credit as regards songwriting. That record finished with “Wreck You,” one of the band’s most infectious works to date, and “Ice Age Hey Baby” works in similar form, a rolling bassline and simple rhythm backing Kosnik‘s sing-along-ready chorus, displayed immediately and readily throughout the song, departing only to give Ryan some time to bust out a psychedelic lead. After the hit and run nature of most of Gravitron, the closer’s something of a breather, but well placed and well appreciated, mirroring and upping the game from “Coming in Hot” while reminding one last time that no matter how fast the Bitchwax might decide to go, and no matter how many jumps they might make here and there within a track, they’re still serving a bigger purpose. “Ice Age Hey Baby” is an outlier, and it’s positioned to leave a lasting impression when the record is over. No big surprise it succeeds at just that. While Kosnik and Pantella both play in Monster Magnet, still obviously going strong, with the likes of Solace, Halfway to Gone, Ryan‘s former band Core, and many others gone, The Atomic Bitchwax are sort of the last-band-standing from what was once a fertile Central Jersey heavy rock scene, based around Red Bank, Long Branch, etc. Their reach and their focus have gone well beyond their hometown, which is likely a major contributor to their survival, but to think of all the acts who’ve either outright broken up or transitioned into periodic gigging while Kosnik, Ryan and Pantella stand at the ready to tour Europe for another month and release a triumph of a record like Gravitron makes their having not only lasted but thrived all the more impressive. Whatever else they do from here, Gravitron will be a landmark.
They release the album tomorrow and hit the road in Europe starting at Desertfest in London on April 24. Please find the full stream of the album below, followed by the current tour dates, courtesy of Sound of Liberation. Enjoy:
New Jersey’s legendary, riff-centric power trio THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (aka TAB) returns with gargantuan riffs and jaw-dropping psych sonics on its sixth full length LP, Gravitron. Now featuring TWO members of MONSTER MAGNET — bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella — alongside shred-tastic gunslinger Finn Ryan, the band has perfected its unique style of NYC hard rock that High Times appropriately tabbed, “thunder-boogie”. On Gravitron, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX’s Rush-like riff mazes and carpal-tunnel-inducing riffs are on full display; every note bleeds with urgency.
On Tour: 24.04.15 LONDON, UK DESERTFEST 25.04.15 BERLIN, D DESERTFEST 26.04.15 WARSAW, POL SKWER 27.04.15 DRESDEN, D OST POL 28.04.15 BREMEN, D ROEMER 29.04.15 BIELEFELD, D FORUM 30.04.15 JENA, D KULTURBAHNHOF 01.05.15 MAASTRICHT, NL TIMMERFABRIEK 02.05.15 LONGLAVILLE, FR CRYSTONER FEST 03.05.15 GEEL, BEL JH DE BOGAARD 04.05.15 DÜSSELDORF, D PITCHER 05.05.15 AACHEN, D MUSIKBUNKER 06.05.15 THESSALONIKI, GR EIGHTBALL 07.05.15 ATHENS, GR AN CLUB 08.05.15 FRANKFURT, D DAS BETT 09.05.15 SIEGEN, D VORTEX 10.05.15 LUCERNE, CH SEDEL 11.05.15 MUNICH, D FEIERWERK 12.05.15 ZURICH, CH KINSKI 13.05.15 MILANO, IT LO FI 14.05.15 NICE, FR LE VOLUME 15.05.15 BARCELONA, SP ROCKSOUND 16.05.15 BILBAO, SP KRISTONFEST 17.05.15 PORTO, POR CAVE 45
Posted in Reviews on April 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day four. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling it, but you know, that’s what caffeine is there for. If I push past the day’s quota of mental energy, fine. Hasn’t stopped me yet, and there are only 20 reviews of the total 50 left. Not quite the home stretch, but it’s up there on the horizon. Some cool stuff today, and that always helps as well.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
Leather Nun America, Buddha Knievel
Though they’re mostly indebted to a Wino-style Maryland doom sound, San Diego three-piece Leather Nun America touch on more dramatic fare late into their fifth album, the awesomely-titled Buddha Knievel (on Nine Records). Pairing the acoustic-led instrumental “Gloom” and 7:51 “Winter Kill,” which swirls its way to an apex of lead guitar from John Sarnie with some subtle touches of extreme metal from drummer Sergio Carlos, they expand beyond a riff-and-groove ethic – though of course they do that well too. Sarnie and bassist Francis Charles Roberts (also of Old Man Wizard) offer familiar structures but satisfying tones, cuts like “Into Abyss” taking a darker turn on some of Spirit Caravan’s road-ready groove. An intro (“Prologue”) and subsequent interludes offer further depth, but the heart of “Burning Village” and Buddha Knievel as a whole is in the three-piece’s take on doom rock, and some of the record’s most satisfying moments come from precisely that, even unto the surprisingly boogieing closer “Irish Steel.”
Seems longer than three years since Virginia’s Corsair made their self-titled full-length debut (review here), but with the fervent support of Shadow Kingdom Records, they return with One Eyed Horse, an album much sweeter than its somewhat disturbing cover art might indicate, the four-piece of guitarist/vocalists Marie Landragin and Paul Sebring, bassist/vocalist Jordan Brunk and drummer Michael Taylor gracefully delving further into progressive heavy rock textures in cuts like “Shadows from Breath,” which though it winds up in blastbeats, never loses its sense of pose. That’s emblematic of the masterfully-handed twists and turns One Eyed Horse presents throughout its 45 minutes, highlights like “Sparrows Cragg” soaring and immersive while elsewhere “Brothers” reminds that sometimes it’s important to just get down to business and rock out. Corsair remain a well-kept secret, and one wonders while listening to the harmonies and post-rock bliss of “Royal Stride” just how long they can stay that way. Gorgeous, heavy and definitively their own, there’s nothing one could ask of One Eyed Horse that it doesn’t deliver. And yes, I mean that.
“Seer,” “Moros” and “Chronos” are the first three tracks to be released by Boston newcomer post-metallers Sea, but already their Demo showcases an impressive atmospheric breadth. Churning riffs from guitarists Liz Walshak (who also drew the cover; ex-Rozamov) and Mike Blasi (Rhino King) are given added depth from bassist/vocalist Stephen LoVerme (Olde Growth), and propelled ahead by drummer/engineer Andrew Muro, though there’s room left in each cut for ambience as well, “Seer” trading off, “Moros” beginning a linear build, and “Chronos” finding a middle-ground in switching between harsh and clean vocals before a slowdown brings about the chugging, memorable finale. Opening with its longest cut (immediate points), Demo proves an ambitious first release, but there’s nothing Sea set out to do on it that they don’t accomplish, and I take it as a particularly encouraging sign that in three cuts, there’s just about no structural repetition to be found. That bodes well in the classic demo sense, but more than what’s to come, these songs are already worth hearing.
Aggressive Sabbath-style doom with East Coast roots – The Munsens recorded at Moonlight Mile with Mike Moebius (Pilgrim, Kings Destroy) in NJ – Weight of Night finds the trio amidst the legal flora of Denver, Colorado, which is a fitting enough setting for the three riff-led cuts they offer on the tape. Of them, side one’s “Slave” is the most decidedly Iommic, a layered solo rounding out after “Under the Sun”-style descent — it also opens with a sample of Julie Newmar as the devil from The Twilight Zone — but both “Weight of Night” and side two’s 11-minute “The Hunt” boast the root influence as well, though the latter is invariably a standout for its crawling progression, almost Pallbearer-esque, that pushes up the tempo in its second half, arriving at a driving pace that’s even farther from where it started than the runtime would have you believe. The opening title-track works somewhat similarly, but ends with a piano interlude, and the shouting, metallic vocals hold back later on “The Hunt,” making its lumbering all the more hypnotic.
Philly trio Gondola waste just about no time showing off primo guitar antics on their Budro Records-released Get Bent LP, a penchant for jamming underscoring a lot of the wah-drenched movement on opener “Brain Ghost” and its side A compatriots “Psychic Knife,” “Poison Path” and “The Hornet.” There’s a decidedly stoner influence, vocals gaze-out Dead Meadow-style on “Psychic Knife,” but a Naam jam in “Brain Ghost” and the Fu Manchu drive of side B highlight “Electric Werewolf” offer plenty of variety within that sphere, guitarist/vocalist Rocky Rinaldi, bassist/vocalist Jordan Blumling and drummer Tim Plunkett finding space to make their own thanks in no small part to a palpable chemistry between them. Heavy rock and roll, and a damn good time, Get Bent comes across more as a suggestion than an imperative by the time the arm’s returned after “Life Cult” but either way, Gondola’s jam-laden push and brainmelter leads make this one a howler not to be missed, and just because it vibes hard doesn’t meant the songs don’t move.
Consistently unpredictable and reliably prolific, Boston outfit Space Mushroom Fuzz – spearheaded by Adam Abrams of Blue Aside – isn’t through opener “Let’s Give Them Something to Hate About” before a sampled bong and sickly-sweet solo interwine with a progressive psychedelic jam. One never really knows what’s coming from Space Mushroom Fuzz, and on Future Family, it seems to be a blend of traditional songwriting with the project’s long-established weirdo sensibilities. “A Day in the Strife” is particularly Floydian, but even that has a structure, and “Saving all My Love for U2” has just about the heaviest, most straightforward push I’ve heard from Abrams in this context, even though there’s plenty of freakout to be had as well. What holds the release together is the persistent anything-goes vibe, which is maintained even unto the acoustic-led swirl of closer “L’Americana,” not quite fully departing an underlying cynicism, but escaping sonically the irony in some of the album’s titles in a manner that’s sincere whether or not it wants to be.
The key to Deep Aeon’s Temple of Time (released on H42 Records) is in the momentum the German four-piece commence to build on opener “Element 24” and how utterly unwilling they are to relinquish it at any point over the release’s 29-minute span. Even six-minute closer “River” has a shuffle – and handclaps. Vocalist Marcel Röche keeps a gruff edge to his voice throughout, but that could just as easily be from keeping up with guitarist Alexander Weber, bassist Axel Meyer and drummer Nikolaj Marfels. Songs like “Floating” and side-B launch “With that Priest on the Back Seat” offer straightforward fuzzy heavy rock, but rhythmically, Temple of Time swings and swings and swings and there’s just no getting away from it. If the record was 50 minutes long, I’m not sure it would be sustainable – someone’s bound to need to catch their breath, band or listener – but for being in and out in under half an hour, Deep Aeon make a clean, efficient run with little use for letup. Bonus points for the Alexander von Wieding artwork.
“Come with me, let’s go get high,” urges Teepee Creeper guitarist/vocalist Jon Unruh on “Rainbow Sex Glow” from his band’s seven-track/33-minute Ashes of the Northwest full-length, recorded by Mos Generator’s Tony Reed, who also drums and whose band released a split 7” with Teepee Creeper last year (review here). I won’t say “let’s go get high” sums it all up, but a lot of it. Riffs rule the day, and deservedly so, on tracks like “Far Far Away,” the live-tracked “Crushing the Gods of Men” and “The Raven’s Eye,” which caps with a particularly righteous roll. Rounded out by bassist Jeremy Deede – no slight presence in the mix – and now featuring drummer Ian Hall, Teepee Creeper seem to get better the higher the volume goes, the impressive and open-sounding tones surrounding the listener on the aforementioned “Rainbow Sex Glow” like a meaner version of Texas’ Wo Fat, and yes, that is a compliment. The album may or may not reduce their native region to ashes, but it’s bound to turn some heads in their direction.
How right the umlaut-happy Hellräd are when the Philly sludge slammers posit that Things Never Change. Their destructive, blown-out grime makes its nihilism plain in songs like “Homegrown Terrorist,” “My Jihad Against My Own Mind,” “Dopefiend Jesus,” and of course “Smoke More Crack,” weighted, lumbering grooves switching off at a clip with full-speed punker fuckall. Guitarist Mike Hook, noisemaker/vocalist Dirty Dave (not the same Dirty Dave from The Glasspack), bassist Herb Jowett and drummer Robert Lepor get down to all-out bludgeonry from the start of “Street Zombies,” the opener and longest track (immediate points) at 6:55, but there’s just something about the rolling groove of “Fuck Up (All I’ll Ever Be)” that hits home. Probably not as primal in its making as the energy with which it’s conveyed might lead one to believe, the ultra-nasty 38-minute debut full-length is nonetheless likely to leave a dent in your skull. Or have your skull leave a dent in something else. A wall, maybe. Or another skull.
Working in longer form on the four original tracks included on Dead Sun Worship, their full-length debut, Dublin four-piece Venus Sleeps make an atmospheric centerpiece out of the Syd Barrett cover “Golden Hair,” which in the context of what surrounds it is almost an interlude. Shades of Electric Wizard show themselves on the howling “I am the Night,” but the opening duo of “Ether Sleeper” and “Dawn of Nova” is more progressive, the guitarist/vocalist Sie Carroll, guitarist/backing vocalist Steven Anderson, bassist Seán O’Connor and drummer Fergal Malone exploring a psychedelic blend of doom and heavy rock riffing that comes to the fore again on 11-minute closer “Age of Nothing,” despite that song’s healthy dose of wah. The range they show in the original material seems only bolstered by the cover, and especially as their debut, the ambition and scope Venus Sleeps showcase is admirable. There are moments when the production seems to contract when a given part wants it to expand, to sound bigger, but Dead Sun Worship lacks nothing for clarity in purpose or execution.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not that I’ve heard it yet or anything, but I think The Atomic Bitchwax‘s impending sixth full-length, Gravitron, is going to surprise a lot of people who believe they know what to expect from the stalwart New Jersey trio. Set for release April 21 via Tee Pee and available now to preorder, Gravitron has the kind of tight-knit, winding riffs one has come to identify as signature Bitchwax, but the production is heavier and crisper and the whole band seems to hit harder — suffice it to say, it’s a kick in the ass. And for those who think they’ve got a pretty good idea of what the three-piece do, the album shows that book’s not really closed yet.
And hey, they named the record after my favorite ride at the fair, so that rules too. They’ll launch Gravitron with slots at Desertfest in London and Berlin. Below, the PR wire offers album details and that preorder link:
THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX to Release New Album Gravitron April 21
New Jersey Rock Icons and Monster Magnet Members Ready Sixth Full Length LP
New Jersey’s legendary, riff-centric power trio THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (aka TAB) will release its long-awaited, sixth full length LP, Gravitron on April 21 via Tee Pee. Filled with gargantuan riffs and jaw-dropping psych sonics, Gravitron was recorded at Shorefire Studios (Blondie, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi) in Long Branch, NJ and was mastered by Alan Douches (Motörhead, Tombs).
Gravitron is available for pre-order purchase now atthis location.
Since its formation in 1993, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX has inspired hundreds of developing rock and metal bands, but no group of musicians has come close to matching TAB’s unique style of fun, frenetic and formidable R’N’R! Now featuring TWO members of MONSTER MAGNET — bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella — alongside shred-tastic gunslinger Finn Ryan, the band has perfected its unique style of NYC hard rock that High Times appropriately tabbed, “thunder-boogie”.
On Gravitron, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX’s Rush-like riff mazes and carpal-tunnel-inducing riffs are on full display; every note bleeds with urgency. There’s far too much exuberant energy on the record to lazily tag this as “Stoner Rock”; this is high-octane, ’70s-based hard rock infused with stabs of psychedelia and landslides of Tommy Bolin-inspired guitar heroics?! Gravitron is an A-level masterclass in bad ass Rock ‘N’ Roll? and cements the THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX as an undeniable force in today’s heavy music landscape.
Gravitron track listing:
1.) Sexicutioner 2.) No Way Man 3.) It’s Alright 4.) War Claw 5.) Coming in Hot 6.) Fuckface 7.) Proto World 8.) Down With the Swirl 9.) Roseland 10.) Ice Age “Hey Baby”
More information on THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX’s Gravitron, including new music, will be issued soon. Stay tuned toTeePeeRecords.com
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Beginning tonight, New Jersey heavy rock stalwarts Monster Magnet hit the road for a return trip to Europe in support of 2014’s Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol (review here), which took tracks from 2013’s Last Patrol (review here) and twisted them in different directions, whether it was mixing out the guitar, adding Hammond B-3, redoing the vocals, pretending it’s 1968, and so on. Monster Magnet‘s last tour in North America — also their first in more than a decade — was late 2013 heralding Last Patrol and wound up being canceled before it was finished owing to illness on the part of frontman Dave Wyndorf. No word on if they’ll tour again in the States, but Athens is the launch point for a month on the road and it’ll be March by the time these guys get home.
The PR wire invites you to let the circus burn:
MONSTER MAGNET – NOW ON TOUR IN EUROPE!
MONSTER MAGNET is Rock ‘n’ Roll at its best, Rock ‘n’ Roll in its strongest propagation, loud & flashy Psychedelic Rock! Right at the raging psychedelic maze: Front man Dave Wyndorf, is a dazzling figure of light and leading figure in personal union.
MONSTER MAGNET are now on tour all over Europe! Germany, Belgium, UK, Sweden, Norway, Denkmark – to name just a few stops! Catch them live on the road & check all upcoming tour dates here:
30.01.2015 GR – Athens / Stage Volume 1 31.01.2015 GR – Thessaloniki / Principal Club Theater 02.02.2015 CH – Lausanne / Les Docks 03.02.2015 DE – Frankfurt / Batschkapp 04.02.2015 DE – München / Backstage 06.02.2015 AT – Vienna / Szene 07.02.2015 CH – Lyss / Kufa 08.02.2015 DE – Oberhausen / Turbinenhalle 10.02.2015 NL – Deventer / Burgerweeshuis 12.02.2015 BE – Antwerp / Trix 13.02.2015 UK – Nottingham / Rock City 14.02.2015 UK – Glasgow / Garage 15.02.2015 UK – London / Electric Ballroom 17.02.2015 DE – Saarbrücken / Garage 18.02.2015 NL – Eindhoven / De Effenaar 20.02.2015 DK – Arhus / Voxhall 21.02.2015 SE – Gothenborg / Sticky Fingers 22.02.2015 NO – Oslo / Parktheatret Scene 23.02.2015 NO – Stavanger / Folken 25.02.2015 DE – Bremen / Schlachthof 26.02.2015 DE – Hannover / Capitol 27.02.2015 DE – Dresden / Reithalle 28.02.2015 NL – Rotterdam / VanNelle Fabriek
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Tomorrow here in the US it is Thanksgiving, which has some questionable origins but in practice is actually one of our less-abominable holidays, with a focus on togetherness, good food, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Today, the day before, is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year while people get to wherever they’re going. Even if you don’t manage to find it until after the holiday is over, it seemed only fitting to make a new podcast so that anyone who might want to take it along for the ride would be able to do so.
My head has started to get into year-end wrap-up mode, so don’t be surprised if one or two or three of these bands show up in subsequent “Best Of” coverage. Maybe even four, looking at the list. It’s been a crazy good year, and as it starts to wind its way down and we make our way into the next one, I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to these podcasts and hopefully discovered something you wouldn’t have heard otherwise. That’s really the whole idea.
If you’re traveling by road, rail, or air, I wish you a pleasant journey, and even if you’re staying put, the same applies.
Stubb, “Heavy Blue Sky” from Cry of the Ocean
Murcielago, “Way too Far” from Murcielago
Dune, “Of Blade and Carapace” from Aurora Majesty
The Skull, “Send Judas Down” from For Those Which are Asleep
Elephant Tree, “Attack of the Altaica” from Theia
Renate/Cordate, “Laudanum” from Growth
Mothership, “Serpents Throne” from Mothership II
Space Guerrilla, “Event Horizon” from Boundless
Monster Magnet, “End of Time (B-3)” from Milking the Stars
Memnon Sa, “Megalith” from Citadel
Soldat Hans, “Meine Liebste; Sie Zerbricht Sich” from Dress Rehearsal
Atavismo, “Meeh” from Desintegración
Øresund Space Collective, “Remnants of the Barbonaeum” from Music for Pogonologists
Posted in Reviews on November 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
For Monster Magnet fans, there are two things to like about Milking the Stars: The concept and the execution. The long-running New Jersey outfit seemed to be making a turn to come full-circle on 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), bringing in a more psychedelic feel for the first time in over a decade, not quite trying to recapture their brilliance in early albums like 1991’s Spine of God, 1993’s Superjudge and 1995’s Dopes to Infinity, but definitely making a departure from the hard rock sound they’d developed since then on 1998’s landmark Powertrip, 2001’s God Says No, , 2004’s Monolithic Baby!, 2007’s 4-Way Diablo, and 2010’s Mastermind (review here), their sound becoming more straightforward and — though the 2010 outing was probably the “biggest” they’ve ever come across on tape — increasingly formulaic. Last Patrol boldly turned that progression on its head, daring to brood on songs like “Paradise” and “I Live behind the Clouds” and jamming out righteous wah-soaked space rock on “Last Patrol” and the driving “End of Time.” Particularly for those who’d been longing for such a step from the band, it was the best Monster Magnet outing in 15 years’ time and one of the highlight releases of 2013. With Milking the Stars (out on Napalm Records), the full title of which is Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol, frontman, founder and principal songwriter Dave Wyndorf pushes himself further into satisfying a weirdo trippy impulse, reworking cuts and including material not included on the original Last Patrol to get something new from them and create a record that, even if you didn’t hear the first one, stands on its own, its John Sumrow cover art dogwhistling its companion status to the album before it.
The reason I say the concept should be pleasing to Monster Magnet fans is because what it shows is that Wyndorf — joined at this point in Monster Magnet by guitarists Phil Caivano and Garrett Sweeney, bassist Chris Kosnik (who makes his recorded debut with the band on a couple live bonus tracks), and drummer Bob Pantella — is not only in a place feeling creative enough to take on the material of Last Patrol and give it a thorough screwing with, which is something that’s never been done before in Monster Magnet‘s 25-year history, but also that he’s making it weirder. Some of Milking the Stars‘ cuts, like “End of Time (B-3)” and “I Live behind the Clouds (Roughed up and Slightly Spaced)” don’t depart as much from their original incarnations — though neither will I downplay how much of a game-changer that Hammond is on “End of Time” — but in “No Paradise for Me” Wyndorf takes the moody original to a more open-sounding place and changes the lyrics to more directly address his disappointment with pop modernity: “I guess I’ll have to make up what I want to see.” And so he does. That’s basically what this album is, but that only makes it a more honest work. Opener “Let the Circus Burn” (also the longest cut at 7:26; immediate points) tweaks, slows down and spaces out the original “Last Patrol,” and “Mindless Ones ’68” pulls back on the heavy rocking original for a more garage-rock interpretation, bright lead guitar forward in the mix, tambourine and organ taking the place of snare stomp and a wailing solo. The title-track, “Milking the Stars” was left off Last Patrol and it’s easy enough to speculate why. At 7:26, it would’ve pushed that album to nearly an hour long, and while it has an effective linear build and might’ve bridged a gap between “End of Time” and “Last Patrol” and some of that record’s shorter, more verse/chorus-minded cuts, it makes a better focus cut than secondary player, even if its title can give the idea that the band are simply “milking” their last album for more material — a notion that no doubt occurred to them in picking the title and was taken on with tongue in cheek.
And as for the execution, while I’m not prepared to say Milking the Stars is a better or worse album than Last Patrol— the two are best considered in league with each other — several of the songs are markedly improved here from their originals. “Hallelujah (Fuzz and Swamp)” even more calls Larman Clamor to mind in its blown-out revivalism, “Stay Tuned (Even Sadder)” lives righteously up to its parenthetical, and the drum track and extra guitar that appear in closer “The Duke (Full on Drums ‘n’ Wah)” give that song a personality beyond what one could’ve expected from the first incarnation. Not only are these particular cuts well conceived, but the reality of the listen proves just as satisfying as the idea, and Milking the Stars works as a whole front-to-back listen, rather than a collection of one-off reinterpretations, like a remix record or something. It’s not that. “Reimagining” sounds ambitious, but it’s as close to the fact of what’s taking place here as anything I can come up with, and works all the better perhaps in conveying the adventurous spirit behind the motivation in making the album in the first place. Last Patrol was a brazen step, but Milking the Stars makes it seem like just the beginning of a new phase in Monster Magnet‘s ongoing evolution. As someone who’s a fan of the band, and a fan of Last Patrol, it’s all the more exciting to think that Wyndorf and company might approach songwriting with such an anything-can-happen creative sensibility a quarter-century on from the group’s start. It makes the prospects for where they might go next all the more vast, considering if they can take on Last Patrol and remold it into Milking the Stars, there’s really no telling where they might go from here. All the better. What seemed like it might’ve been Monster Magnet‘s final round looks instead to have become the catalyst for a new phase in their career, and my only hope is they keep getting weirder from here on out.
Nothing against SPV Records — their reissue of Spine of God and other earlier Monster Magnet albums was fair game as they were out of print and unavailable to a bunch of fans who came aboard during the band’s more commercial hard rock era — but if you want to listen to Spine of God, you really need to go for the original. Caroline Records, in a jewel case, some of the finest heavy psych rock ever crafted. Still ahead of its time. We’re still playing catchup to where Spine of God is at. We’ll get there one of these days, then we’ll all crack our skulls doing airplanes and get our heads just right and so on. Cover me with skin and hair. Fucking a.
Spine of God is more than a great Monster Magnet record — they’ve got a few by now — but an absolute landmark. In New Jersey, the state in which I was born and raised, an entire generation of bands came up in the wake of Monster Magnet‘s branching out, and that scene is still going, moving forward. So are Monster Magnet, albeit with a much different lineup than they had 23 years ago, but to go back and look at the development of Red Bank, NJ, as a center in which heavy rock flourished on the East Coast in bands like Godspeed, Core, The Atomic Bitchwax, Solarized, later Halfway to Gone, Solace, The Ribeye Bros., and on and on, Monster Magnet are a big branch on that bizarre family tree, and Spine of God, which was their debut — to mix metaphors — was the root for a lot of what came after. Add to all that it’s an absolute masterpiece, and yeah, I’m gonna close out the week with it.
I’ll further admit that while it was ultimately the classicitude of Spine of God which made me break it out on this late night/early morning, a close second in motivation was the band’s upcoming Milking the Stars, the November release of which was announced earlier this month. I’ve been spending a lot of time with that record, which is comprised of reworked tracks from Monster Magnet‘s 2013 opus, Last Patrol (review here), as well as the previously unreleased title-cut and some other odds and ends, and almost as much as I dig what frontman/songwriter/founder Dave Wyndorf did in remaking the songs, I think the adventurous spirit of the album and the willingness to screw with work that by most definitions would be “finished” already emphasizes a lot of what’s made Monster Magnet so great all these years, and bodes ridiculously well for their proper follow-up to Last Patrol, since basically they can go anywhere at this point. I’ll have a review up of Milking the Stars sometime in the next month or so, but it’s on my mind already.
Enjoy Spine of God. It’s one of my favorite records.
Is is really three in the morning? Ah jeez. I rolled in not at all long ago from seeing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Danava in New York. Quite a night. I was going to go to Boston last night, but as I mentioned on Thee Facebooks, it was my 10th wedding anniversary — the only holiday about which I give even the remotest of fucks — and, well, 10 years isn’t nothing. Kind of a big deal. If it was seven years, or some other in-between number, I might be able to get away with that. But 10? Nah. As of Sunday, The Patient Mrs. and I will have been together for a total of 17 years, which is more than half of both of our lives. Wild to think about. How stupid lucky I am.
Next week though I’ll review the Uncle Acid gig, and I’ve also got a new track from Eternal Tapestry going up on Monday. If I’m up to it Sunday, I might put up the first recorded demo from Righteous Bloom, which is the new spinoff band from Beelzefuzz. And of course there’s the podcast. Thanks if you got to check that out. Apparently I’m up to 40 of them. Got a thing for round numbers lately, I suppose.
Obviously there’s a lot more than that to come, but I have no idea what it might be. The Patient Mrs. and I are in Connecticut for the weekend, celebrando, so at least I didn’t have to go all the way back to Massachusetts tonight. Felt good to be back in New York. Even Manhattan on a Friday night, which is nightmare of inflated ego, inflated bank accounts and terrifying hawtness. Good to go a show there, I guess. City still smells like pee. I had some point about being in Connecticut. It’s long gone. God damn this Monster Magnet record is awesome.
Have a great and safe weekend. PLEASE check out the forum and radio stream.