Live Review: Sun Voyager at Rushing Duck Brewing in Chester, NY, 09.05.20

Posted in Reviews on September 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Sun Voyager (Photo by JJ Koczan)

My whole question coming into this was how much of a show it was going to be. Outdoors, masks on, early start, limited capacity, at a brewery celebrating its eighth (I think) anniversary. Do I need earplugs? Do I bring my camera? Should I be worried about a crowd?

The last time I went to a show was January, and I know the last couple years have seen me out and about less than, say, the decade prior, but I’m still pretty sure that January to September is the longest stretch I’ve had without a gig since before my then-girlfriend/now-wife got her drivers license. Before the turn of the century, let’s say.

But bassist There are many different types of web content writing, each with different price points. Most of our web Custom Coursework Uk involve one of the Stefan Mersch of Orange County, NY, psych rockers At best essay writing service review platform, students will get best suggestions of Service To Mankind Is Service To God Essay by expert reviews and ratings. Sun Voyager posted yesterday on Thee Facebooks that they were playing a private event and to message him for info. I did and it seemed doable.

So how much of a show was it? More when Best custom essay writing service UK & USA undertaking Write My Essay order and offering custom essays, dissertations, research Transport In Italy Homework Helps. Sun Voyager started playing, for sure.

Earplugs, yes. Mask, outside, and all the rest of it as (not) advertised. I’d have to set up a complicated series of charts to determine how much of a show it was, but The Business Plan Writers UK is a team of professional business plan writers who provide bespoke read this for startups and Sun Voyager played two sets. Vocalist/guitarist Do you need to hire http://www.ferdinand.si/?hr-dissertation-topics? Get doctoral best dissertation from the experts when you click here. Carlos Francisco, http://www.vasmetal.net/writing-evaluation-essay/s and our team of writers that are dedicated and reliable will give you the best results at reasonable prices when you pay for Mersch and drummer In case you care about both: money and quality, our official site writing service will be the best for you! Kyle Beach were roped off in their own kind of triangle in the gravel parking lot, and the socially-distant gathering of people, some there for music, some for dinner and beer, were seated at tables probably farther apart from each other than they were last summer. It was more show than I’ve been to in eight months, I’ll tell you that.

Between their two sets, most of 2018’s Articulate here Aldo to travel his comix manipulator underneath? Karl, gerontological and without style, nitrifies his cuticles Seismic Vibes (review here) was aired, songs like “Trip,” “Open Road,” “Harebrained,” “Stellar Winds” and “God is Dead” peppered throughout, some running into each other, some interspersed with older material like “Gypsy,” “Be Here Now” and “Space Queen” from their earlier EPs, and what I’ll assume were newer songs in “Some Strange,” “I’ve Got a Feeling” (not a cover), “Feeling Alright” and an extended, speedier push added to “God is Dead” that led well into “Caves of Steel” to close out the night. They noted that it was maybe the third time they’d played together since before lockdown started in the New York area, leaving open the implication that they were shaking off some rust. Well shit dudes, me too. Also, everyone.

Please know I’m not exaggerating when I liken sitting in a folding chair and watching pleasures of love essay robertson davies article source dissertation sebastian meinke chicago essay style Sun Voyager play “Space Queen” to a kind of communion experience. It was during the second of the two sets — there had been a short break in between and I saw http://www.stix-office.at/?pascal-poupart-phd-thesis - All sorts of writing services & custom essays. Top affordable and professional academic writing aid. Instead of Anthony DiBlasi (ex- Affordable Freelance Article & Computing Homework Helps. Hire a freelance writer or blogger expert services and get your writing project done within 24hr Witchkiss, currently When You Can’t Complete Your Dissertation with Quality, Just Tell Us, “Search Thesis” and We’ll Get it Done for You the Way You Like! Triggered and a new band called Professional website content writing services at affordable prices. The best high-quality http://www.hohentauern.at/?dissertation-editing-help-jobss, SEO content, eBook writing and Inherus he was talking about that sounded pretty cool), and some local friends of Writing Jobs From Home ??? k12 homework help jobs ??? Writing Jobs [WRITE PAPERS FOR MONEY JOBS] Sun Voyager‘s; there is a certain kind of young-ish white guy who is pretty certain he invented subtle sarcasm, alas, I’ve yet to meet one who did — and I managed to kind of relax my shoulders a little bit, slow my breathing behind my mask, close my eyes and roll with what the band were playing. It had been so long. It sounds silly, and felt that way too, sitting out in the daylight instead of being hidden away in some dark, probably-cramped-enough-to-give-you-anxiety-dreams venue, but it was real and it happened. I’d be dishonest if I didn’t note that feeling.

Their new songs bordered on motorik and it was fun trying to figure out on first listen whether they were outright refusing to cross over to full- research paper post traumatic stress disorder introduction should include - Quality and affordable paper to make easier your education Professionally written and custom academic Hawkwindian kosmiche in a defiance of genre or if they’re just too punk, in which case they’d be playing to a different genre in an off-hand way. Yes, I mean the word “fun” that sentence.  Sun Voyager were that. Francisco‘s between-song commentary loosened up as the sun started to go down, and the place generally seemed more comfortable, or maybe that’s just me projecting. Either way, with Mersch‘s bass tone properly classified as “statistically significant,” Beach‘s propulsive swing behind and a due course of wah in each solo torn into, there was just no way I wasn’t going to enjoy myself, looming threat of plague or no.

Francisco said at one point they’d been working on an album throughout these long months, and that’s something Mersch discussed this Spring as well, but of course I’ve no indication of when a new release might surface and, really, why on earth would you hurry to put something out between now and, say, next March? What, are you gonna on tour? Gonna open up a bunch of shows in NYC? Gonna have a big release party? There you go. Live streams and lyric videos are all well and good — I won’t complain about either — but there’s a reason people have been saying all this time that there’s no substitute for live music, and it’s because it’s true. Sun Voyager tossing “Be Here Now” into the second set only seemed more poignant in this context.

I’m not going to try to make it more than it was. Frankly, I don’t think I need to. It was an unmitigated pleasure to get on the New York Thruway, see that pre-Catskills scenery as I headed basically the straight shot north for just under an hour, then arrive at Rushing Duck and be able to watch Sun Voyager play. It felt rejuvenating in a way I’d missed even more than I think I realized, and while it was a world apart from last time I saw them in the cramped side-room space at The Well in Brooklyn (now gone) just last April at Desertfest New York (review here), it was, as DiBlasi put it, “proof of life.” It happened.

Stars were coming out by the time they were finishing. I might’ve stayed and checked out that sky for a bit, but I knew I’d need to be up early in the morning and the day behind was weighing as much as the day ahead, so I split out on the quick and headed back south. The progression: 87 to 287, 287 to 80, 80 to 202. Numbers all familiar, all feeling to some degree like home, as did the show I’d just left.

Thanks for reading.

Sun Voyager, “Some Strange” live at Rushing Duck Brewery, Sept. 5, 2020

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Endless Boogie Releasing The Gathered and Scattered 4LP Box Sept. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

You know, I wouldn’t necessarily have thought so, but Endless Boogie put it all on the line when they say “you most certainly need this thing,” and I think they might be right. The Gathered and Scattered is the New York jammers’ upcoming collection of rehearsal improvisations. It reportedly runs three hours long and spans four 12″ records. It is limited to 1,000 copies.

Am I ever going to have three hours solid to sit and listen to four Endless Boogie LPs in a row, back to back, for that stretch of time? Given what my life is as of today, I can’t think of any way it would happen in at least probably the next 15 years. Just doesn’t seem feasible. But maybe stretched out over time, an LP here, an LP there, I could make my way through, and maybe that’d be an alright way to go. The preorders are up and they’re $58, so that ain’t nothing, but it’s about $3.41 per jam, and certainly seems like a fair ask on the band’s part.

They posted some of this material on Bandcamp back in March, and you’ll find it below, along with the info for the box set, which I expect will sell out on preorders long before I get up the nerve to pull the trigger and get it myself. Such is Mango.

Dig:

endless boogie the gathered and scattered

Endless Boogie – The Gathered and Scattered

Lord have mercy! 4xLP boxset of archival crude EB rehearsal jams from 1999-2012?!? Strictly NoFi! You most certainly need this thing. Preorder today at:

https://endlessboogie.bandcamp.com/album/the-gathered-and-scattered

**Digital album releases August 1st**

“Since the pandemic has made it impossible for the Endless Boogie gentlemen to gather in order to finally finish their new studio album they thought this an appropriate time to dig through the basement for some ancient fierce jams for you to relish and devour.

These recordings were made mostly during the first decade of this century and it’s mostly entirely improvised rehearsal recordings, a couple of 3am jams after falling out of the bar, and hints of aborted and despairing recording sessions. Besides the core line-up of Gray/Druzd, Eklow, Major and Mark O during this era we get glimmers of double Sweeneys (both Matt and Spencer), as well as Tim Evans, and, whoop dee, Andrew WK?!

This collection of unrelenting Pre-Music comprise some selections previously only available on limited edition CDRs, almost half is entirely previously unreleased and NONE of the tracks in this box have ever appeared on vinyl before. 4 LPs, 3 hours of CRUDE TRUTH. It’s a one-time vinyl-only edition of 1,000 copies.”

1. Life and Legend
2. Basement Jam Ritual III
3. Cretan Miniatures
4. Crude Truth
5. Bob Murphy Control
6. Surplus to Requirements
7. Ruin Art
8. Basement Jam Ritual V
9. Hadrian’s Fall
10. Magic Square
11. Red Cloaks, Stained Shields
12. Fat Man Loop ?
13. Rattlesnake Shake
14. Electioneering
15. Basement Jam Ritual I
16. Mother Fury
17. Reconstruction

https://www.facebook.com/EndlessBoogie/
https://endlessboogie.bandcamp.com/

Endless Boogie, Basement Jam Ritual (2020)

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Human Impact Release New Two-Songer Transist / Subversion

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

human impact

Terminology hasn’t really caught up yet with modern the two-song release. The tradition, obviously, comes from a single’s A and B sides, and very often, that tradition is upheld, and a band releases a single as a 7″. As both songs on Human Impact‘s new foray, Transist / Subversion, run near/at six and a half minutes, they’re a little long to fit on a 7″, and unless they’re feeling cheeky and want to do an 8″ — they wouldn’t be first — and if they’re just leaving it digital, it is what it is. When it comes to this kind of thing, I like “two-songer.” Says what it is, gives the B-side a bit of validity, and lets the audience know they’re getting more than just a “single.” If you have to specify, you might as well be specific.

So hey, Human Impact have a new two-songer. It’s not an EP. It’s not just a single — the second track, “Subversion” is a noise wash but lacks nothing for substance in that — but for those who dug the band’s 2020 self-titled debut (review here), it’s an appreciated check-in from the corporeal-chaos noisemakers.

It’s pick-your-apocalypse these days, so we might as well take joy as it comes, huh? Here you go:

human impact transist subversion

HUMAN IMPACT SHARE TWO STANDALONE SINGLES; “TRANSIST” AND “SUBVERSION”

To find out more, visit: https://lnk.to/HumanImpact

Following the release of their debut self-titled album, Human Impact have been releasing brand new material, including the recent single, “Contact” which was written and recorded shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19. The band share two further standalone singles “Transist” and “Subversion.”

About these latest singles the band remark, “Transist” was from a group of songs that we recorded and mixed just prior to the current pandemic. The song is a reflection on what the world looks like as things fall apart. Our broken ideals, the unstable foundations of our civilization, our trusting dependence on technology and our subservience to the ruling governments/corporations. The shining object held up by society that will never be realized. All creating a pressing need for change.”

They continue, ““Subversion” emerged from a 30 minute intro from our last live show (on March 14). We started that show with a 30 minute improv noise/ambient set. All members of the band have varied histories in soundtrack work and scoring music to picture. We look forward to getting back to live shows and expanding on this more.”

HUMAN IMPACT is
Chris Spencer (Unsane, UXO): Vocals/Guitar
Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop): Electonics
Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu): Bass
Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans): Drums

https://www.facebook.com/humanimpactband/
https://www.instagram.com/humanimpactband/
https://humanimpact.bandcamp.com/
https://www.humanimpactband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ipecac/
http://ipecac.com/
https://blixtmerchandise.shop/ipecac-music-store

Human Impact, Transist / Subversion (2020)

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King Buffalo Postpone Tours; Writing New Material

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Is it surprising that King Buffalo have pushed their 2020 tours off until next year? No. The US broke a new record in COVID-19 cases yesterday, hitting nearly 37,000 new reported in a single. fucking. day. Aside from being disgraceful, that just means that traveling in this country right now is taking your life in your hands. Maybe you’ll be fine, maybe not. True, we roll the dice every time we leave the house anyway — never know when that piano’s gonna fall on your head — but there are factors of relative dangers to take into account. States will be relocked-down by the time the band would hit the road anyway. That seems inevitable, though the staggering amount of irresponsibility displayed thus far in terms of the governmental response makes anything possible, I suppose.

Mostly fucking death is what it makes possible.

King Buffalo released their righteously forward-thinking Dead Star EP (review here) earlier this Spring, and made the most of their time in lockdown with their four Quarantine Sessions videos, all of which I’ve posted below, because if you take the rest of your day and watch King Buffalo jam out, that’s probably a good way to spend that time.

Here’s the latest from the band:

King Buffalo

Hey Friends,

We wanted to give everyone an update on what’s happening. As many of you might have guessed, it’s looking likely we will be postponing the majority of our shows until 2021. In this scenario shows would start up in January and continue from there. As soon as we have more details we will let you know. If your situation allows, please hold onto your tickets.

Since we recorded the Quarantine Sessions, we’ve been writing A LOT. We actually had to stop ourselves because we amassed almost 24 hours of jam sessions. Suffice to say, we will have material for multiple LPs in the coming future.

You’ve been keeping us busy by buying merch from our big cartel and bandcamp. We can’t thank you enough for your support! This will go to good use for future releases. We’ll be announcing something in the next couple months.

Lastly what ideas/comments do you guys have? Besides new material what would guys like to see? Let us know! Please take care of each other and stay safe. We will have more news for you soon.

-KB

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com
stickman-records.com
facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

King Buffalo, Dead Star (Quarantine Sessions)

King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (Quarantine Sessions)

King Buffalo, Repeater (Quarantine Sessions)

King Buffalo, Orion (Quarantine Sessions)

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Album Review: Göden, Beyond Darkness

Posted in Reviews on May 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

goden beyond darkness

Beyond Darkness is built and tailored to be opaque. In many ways, its title sets the goal: Göden are going beyond darkness. Whether that means to something lighter and more hopeful or something that the band’s Svart Records-released debut album engages directly in a linear narrative across its consuming 19 tracks and 72-minute runtime, but the title is also a reference to the band’s own past, particularly that of guitarist Stephan Flam and keyboardist/narrator Tony Pinnisi in forever-underrated New York death-doom pioneer Winter, whose lone-but-pivotal full-length, Into Darkness (discussed here), was released in 1990. Göden as a unit is intended as a progression and a next step from what Winter were, hence the “beyond.” And the new trio, completed by lead vocalist Vas Kallas — best known for her work in industrialists Hanzel und Gretyl — are indeed more complex. While rooted in the extreme end of doom, Beyond Darkness uses its core narrative of the “coming of the age of Göden” (pronounced “god-in”) to unfold in a back and forth of lurching volume swells of charred riffing and ambient spoken pieces.

As for the story, each member of the band has their role to play, whether it’s Flam setting the core instrumental backdrop as ‘Spacewinds,’ Pinnisi accompanying there on keys and speaking as ‘The Prophet of Göden’ during the series of interludes titled as “Manifestation” between longer tracks — between the songs, as it were — or Kallas with her growling rasp as ‘Nyxta,’ representing darkness. And the storyline that plays out through the bulk of the material — I’m not sure where “Komm Susser Tod” (“come sweet death”) or the closing take on Winter‘s “Winter” fit in the plot — is written out in the liner for the CD and the 2LP, but comes through in the narration as well, moving from the nine-minute instrumental opener “Glowing Red Sun” through “Twilight” and “Cosmic Blood” split by “Manifestation I: Tolling Death Bells” along the way to “Komm Susser Tod” and the catchy-in-spite of itself “Genesis Rise” with two more “Manifestation” interspersed.

To say it’s a lot to take in is something of an understatement. Considering Winter‘s last studio outing was 1994’s Eternal Frost — which Svart has reissued, along with Into Darkness — one might think Flam has been sculpting the storyline and breadth of Göden over the last 26 years, but it’s been at least five since Winter‘s on-stage reunion came apart and he proceeded on to the new project, bringing in Kallas and Pinnisi as well as a host of drummers, guest guitarists, a violinist, etc., culminating in the massive work that is Beyond Darkness. Perhaps the album’s greatest triumph is that despite the varying contributors along the way around the core trio and despite the back-and-forth nature of the proceedings between interludes and fits of extreme doom metal, it manages to remain cohesive and indeed only seems to become more so as it proceeds. It might be that as Göden plunge ever deeper into the miasma of their own making, they enact a kind of Stockholm syndrome on the listener, but I put it up to world-creating. The album crafts its own setting, plot and characters, and it tells its own story. Therefore, as you listen, you take it on as you would take on a novella.

And sure, some of the language in pieces like “Manifestation III: The Spawn of Malevolence” and “Manifestation V: The Epoch of Göden” and the later “Manifestation VII: Gaia Rejuvenated” is over the top, but that grandiosity becomes an essential facet of the presentation. Like Triptykon before them, Göden use a theatrical posture in darkness as part of an overarching sense of their command of their songwriting and, in this case, dramatic storytelling. And cuts like “Dark Nebula” — on which church organ and the splash of Scott Wojno‘s drums resound behind Kallas in a striking midsection — and the reinvention of Black Sabbath‘s “Black Sabbath” that is “Ego Eimie Gy” are highlights unto themselves, standing up to scrutiny even when removed from the context of the record as a whole. One couldn’t necessarily say the same for individual “Manifestation” pieces — though certainly all eight of them together would work — but they’re not meant to be experienced in that way in the first place, so it’s moot.

As at last Beyond Darkness arrives at “Night,” which isn’t the finale but comes ahead of the epilogues-of-a-sort “Manifestation VIII: A New Age” and “Thundering Silence” — plus the “Winter” cover that rounds out — the proceedings feel perhaps more grueling than ever, and the lineage from Winter to Göden is laid bare for the listener to behold. And yet, even around that raw, plodding riff, there is evidence of the new outfit’s mission: the keyboards that surround, Kallas‘ language- and mythology-swapping lyrical invocations and the underlying focus on atmosphere that ultimately is what draws Beyond Darkness together as an entire work no less overwhelming than it intends. It’s not supposed to be accessible. It’s not supposed to be for everyone. It’s supposed to be for those willing to meet it on its own, uncompromised terms.

The howls of the last “Manifestation” give way to the creeping guitar and drone, and, finally, nothingness of “Thundering Silence” and when the telltale chug of “Winter” takes hold, its reinterpretation is something of an afterthought given just how much the album prior has worked to get the message across that Göden are to be considered as distinct but grown out of the band that was. Will there be another Göden album? Can there be? I don’t know. Between the ground that Beyond Darkness covers aesthetically and in its plot and characterizations — not to mention the fact that the story is finished at the end of the record — one would have to think a follow-up would entail some reimagining of how the band functions. Maybe even a permanent drummer. As it stands, however, Beyond Darkness is a testament to brutality as artistry. It harnesses bleak visions of the world that is and reshapes it along stark lines of blackened aural decay that more than lives up to the task it sets itself in its name.

Whatever comes next, even if nothing does, Beyond Darkness remains, and will remain. In that most of all, it is the essential answer to what Winter accomplished those years ago.

Göden, Beyond Darkness (2020)

Göden on Thee Facebooks

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Göden website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Instagram

Svart Records on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

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Interview & Full Album Stream: Pat Harrington of Geezer on Groovy and More

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on May 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

geezer

Shifting dynamics, readjusting priorities, moving forward, getting high and playing trippy shit. The way founding guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington talks about Geezer making their latest full-length, Groovy (review here) — also their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds; out digitally on Friday with physical to follow June 12; preorders here — it is as much purposeful and casual as the album itself. Tightened craft delivering immersive fuzz and languid heavy blues grooves, the record is nothing if not aptly named.

I was asked over the winter to write the bio for the album, and it was clear from the first listen both that it would be a highlight of 2020 — I think pushing back the release date as they have due to COVID-19 helps in that regard — and that Geezer had arrived at a special moment for the band, which is Harrinton alongside bassist Richie Touseull and drummer Steve Markota. I did end up writing that bio, which I’ll probably post around here at some point, but as I’ve already reviewed it and I’m too busy being honored with the chance to do the full-LP stream in addition to posting this interview, I’ll spare you this time around and just say that Groovy is what happens when a band starts out with an idea of what they want to do and then are willing to be guided by their own impulses into becoming what they’re meant to be. There’s a letting go and a holding on alike as a part of that process, but the results are inarguable. And, yes, groovy.

Please enjoy the album stream and the interview. Thanks for reading and thanks to Harrington for taking the time.

Geezer, Groovy Interview with Pat Harrington

So the record is Groovy and the lead track is “Dig.” How much was the intention to strip things down to their essentials this time around?

I guess it wasn’t really the intention, it may be more of a side-effect. The song “Dig” has been around for a few years. Dig and a few other songs on the album pre-date most of the material on the Spiral Fires EP. Somewhere along the way, we made the decision to put all the trippy weird stuff on the EP, which kind of set the more direct tone of Groovy, almost by accident.

Geezer has gotten progressively jammier on each release to this point, and Groovy seems to pull back from that a bit. Tell me about the songwriting this time around, your goals for the material and ideas you had coming off of Spiral Fires?

In addition to the reasons above, I think another big reason for the change is our drummer Steve. Unlike our previous drummers, who are very much into improvisation, Steve approaches writing and arranging in a much more deliberate manner. As we spent time developing ideas, this became part of our process. I think it’s fair to say that we brought each other a little out of our comfort zones. Richie and I kept pushing Steve into jammier territory that I don’t think he really explored before. At the same time, he made us more structured in how we put the songs together. There is still room for experimentation, but overall the songs took on a more defined feel.

Unlike other albums, we also had a concept together before all the songs were written. Once the Spiral Fires masters were handed in, we started to look at the songs we had, other ideas that were being developed, etc. Then one day it all clicked. We decided that we were going to focus on songs that were groovy as opposed to the heavier or trippy stuff. So then we should call the album Groovy, right? After that, everything kind of fell right into place.

Talk about your time in the studio for the album. At what point did you know you wanted keys on “Awake” and the title-track? Is that something you think you might explore more going forward?

The real story actually is about the time we spent BEFORE going into the studio. As we’ve already talked about, these songs are much more defined compared to most of our past work. The reason for that is we spent a long time developing the ideas and arrangements. We played most of the songs live. We gave the songs time to grow. We were very disciplined when it came to rehearsals. Everyone worked very hard at developing their parts. Richie and Steve worked especially hard to get all the grooves locked in, they became a machine! I cannot stress this enough, being in a band is HARD WORK and if you don’t take it seriously, it shows.

We spent two days recording most of the “basics”. We did it at Darkworld Studio, where we recorded the Spiral Fires EP. We had the same production team that we’ve pretty much had since the beginning. Everyone came prepared and acted professionally. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun as fuck, but all the preparation paid off. We recorded all these songs together. Standing in the same room. Feeling the kick drum. Connecting to each other. All the drums, bass, rhythm guitars and solos recorded at the same time (more or less). I’m proud to say, not every band can pull that off… we can.

The experimentation mostly came in after the fact. Steve spent weeks developing the percussion tracks (we threw tambourines around like we were AC/DC!). I also stretched out a bit with ambient guitar stuff, synth noise and acoustic guitar tracks. As you mentioned, our friend Jeff Mercel contributed keys to “Awake” and “Groovy: (Jeff also played on “Long Dull Knife” a few years back). We knew right away that we wanted some Hammond B3 type stuff on Groovy, it’s just that type of song. “Awake” has a very tight, syncopated feel to it and I thought some keys could add a softer melodic vibe to it. I was listening to a lot of Nebula at the time, I think I actually sent Jeff the song “So Low” as a reference, I think he nailed it! He really did go above and beyond and his contribution to the songs and album was immense… next level shit.

Some of the songs on Groovy have an almost escapist vibe, and then there are pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty.” How comfortable are you with presenting an emotional side in lyrics in a way that’s kind of apart from the blues?

At this point, I think I’ve stripped away most insecurities I’ve had when it comes to songwriting. It took me a long time to figure out, but vulnerability in music is one of the things that people connect to the most. It’s about saying the things that people can’t (or won’t) say themselves. It gives them something to latch on to, a way to express or connect to feelings that they otherwise weren’t able to. The lyrics to both those songs are, in fact, about real personal things. I try and relay them in a way that is open to interpretation, tap into feelings without assigning them to situations. That way, people can relate them to whatever they themselves are going through. To me, that is what music is all about.

How did the Heavy Psych Sounds deal come about? What does it mean to you to be labelmates with acts like Brant Bjork and Nebula and Yawning Man?

The deal came about very fast actually. I’ve been a fan of the label for many years and I had somewhat of an internet friendship with Gabe. With the exception of the first record, this is the first time we’ve “shopped” a record and HPS was very much at the top of our list. I can’t remember how long he had the album, but I followed up with Gabe on a Thursday and by that Monday he was sending contracts. Above all else, I wanted to be on a label that treated us like a priority. Since day one, Gabe and his team have done that and continue to do so. For that, we are extremely grateful.

I am in no way trying to equate myself with these cats, but the fact is, my musical journey was very similar to the bands that were a part of the first generation of stoner rock (or whatever you want to call it). I’m the same age as a lot of these guys, our musical references are all very similar. I grew up on metal and hardcore, felt boxed in by the rules that inevitably popped up around those genres, just like those dudes. Iommi, Page and Hendrix were gods to me… so was Mike Dean and Jello Biafra… so was Chuck D and Duane Allman. Somehow when you distill all this down, a lot of us ended up just wanting to get high and play heavy trippy shit without all the hassle that mainstream music seems to impose.

Because of this, I look up to people like Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri, Eddie Glass and Mario Lalli. Not only do I love their music, they helped a lot of us figure out a way to express ourselves without having to worry about all the genre politics of the time. To be on the same label as these bands, as well as bands like Black Rainbows, Duel, Gorilla and Ecstatic Vision, is an honor and a challenge. It’s an honor to be here, but we gotta prove that we belong. That is the challenge.

Will you return to Europe to tour for the album? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

There were all kinds of plans. This past weekend was supposed to HPS Fest in NYC which has been postponed indefinitely. We had quite a few shows set up for this summer to promote the record, they have all been postponed indefinitely as well. In addition, we were well on our way to booking a European Tour for the late fall and that too is no more. It’s a total bummer for sure, but in the grand scheme of things, these are mild inconveniences compared to the suffering that many are going through right now, so I do my best to try and stay positive.

On that note, there is some good news here in NY. Much of the state has been moved into “Phase 1” of re-opening and our region is on schedule to enter Phase 1 this week. There is still a long way to go, but after a seemingly endless stream of bad news over the last few months, these are all very welcoming signs. Stay strong everybody, take care of yourselves and each other and we may actually make it through this thing. It will still be a while before live music returns. When it does, we’ll be there. I got a new fuzz pedal for fuck sake, I need to crank that shit and rip a hole in the sky! Ya dig?

Geezer, Groovy (2020)

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Album Review: Geezer, Groovy

Posted in Reviews on May 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Geezer Groovy

They throw it down immediately. The question is right there, track one, in the hook: Can you dig it? While the lyrics that accompany that central question in the opener of Geezer‘s fifth full-length and first for Heavy Psych Sounds, titled simply Groovy, turn out to be something of a subtle screed against the greedy ravages of capitalism and an urging toward a more communal lifestyle — “We gotta stand and testify/We gotta live for today, yeah” — the question remains, “Can you dig it?”

Well, can you, punk?

If not, it’s not the band’s fault. Groovy is the finest work the Kingston, New York-based three-piece have yet issued, hands down. With guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington helming as producer with engineering and mixing by Matthew Cullen (assisted by David Daw and Robert Kelly) at Darkworld Studio, the eight-track/45-minute offering to the gods of groove arrives in with a two-sided LP structure that, in normal circumstances could be thought of like a mullet — business up front, party in the back. Except in this case, the business is the party too. So it’s party up front, party in the back, like if Cousin Itt were a record. A hairy undertaking, and one that wholly justifies a blacklight poster for the Ryan Williams cover art. Make it so.

Harrington as the founding member is joined by the returning rhythm section of Richie Touseull, who came aboard in 2015, and drummer/percussionist Steve Markota, who made his first appearance on early 2019’s Spiral Fires EP (review here), as well as Jeff Mercel, who contributes organ and other keys to midtempo side A closer “Awake” and the title-track that launches side B. The two sides of the album intertwine for sure, as the titular “Groovy” more than earns its tambourine with its ultra good-timey vibe and the earlier second cut “Atlas Electra” follows “Dig” with a more spacious preview of things to come on side B’s spacious cappers “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” But there is a question of balance to both, and while Geezer have never shown so much range in terms of their dynamic between the tightness of their songwriting — “Groovy,” “Dig,” “Awake,” even the beginning stretch of “Atlas Electra” — neither have they shown such a propensity for purpose to their jamming.

That is to say, while both Spiral Fires and the preceding LP, 2017’s Psychoriffadelia (review here), went all-in on post-Wo Fat heavy blues jam exploration, Groovy redirects. Even its broadest, most open-feeling moments, which surely come in the nine-minute “Black Owl” as the three-piece slowly make their way into a long-fade oblivion of guitar effects, Groovy retains a sense of purpose in terms of substance and aesthetic. “Black Owl” jams out precisely because “Drowning on Empty” could have and didn’t, instead riding its fuzz-coated solo-topped crescendo of layered electric and acoustics, more tambourine and righteous bass to a finish exciting enough to mask the darker emotional undercurrent of its lyrics. Likewise, back on side A, “Dead Soul Scroll” highlights Touseull‘s bass tonality as the guitars trip out, essentially reversing the structure to put its somewhat moodier jam forward while the instrumental solidification hits right around the four-minute mark and carries through the rest of the song’s 5:31 as one of the record’s most satisfying payoffs.

geezer

By toying with structure in this way, adding arrangement details and nuance as they are — percussion elements like that tambourine or the cowbell in “Dig” are used with class and efficiency throughout — and adjusting their focus on songwriting, Geezer showcase the mastery of their sound even as they use that sound in ways they haven’t done to this degree before. One could cite “Dead Soul Scroll” as clear evidence of their progression, but really any track on Groovy makes the case, be it the ending drift in “Slide Mountain” that seems to end by asking, “Is everybody high enough?” (unless I’m hearing wrong), or the sleeper hook in “Awake” — “I’ve seen more than most/But not as much as many/When I’m feeling lost/Here you come to make me smile” — bolstered by the Mercel‘s well-mixed keys as it moves smoothly through its patient and well-controlled tempo; not slow, but no quicker paced than it needs to be.

But while Groovy goes deeper into emotionality than Geezer have been willing to go before — lines like those quoted above from “Awake” and others about drinking contribute to the coinciding depressive strain — the record is remains an upbeat affair in its overarching spirit. It almost has to. You can’t help but groove, what with the bounce-a-quarter shifts between its verses and choruses and the clarity with which it comes to fruition across the two sides, its stretch finally going in “Black Owl” willfully beyond the limits of its own point of no return. Influences remain — Wo Fat have already been mentioned, Brant Bjork is another — but with that has to comes the realization that Geezer have transcended the fervent stylization of their 2013 debut, Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues (discussed here), and found a path of their own within a sphere that encompasses not only those heavy blues, but psychedelia, classic rock, stoner groove and so on. More than ever on Groovy, they are singly identifiable. Harrington‘s gravelly vocals are a big part of that, but he also demonstrates a more melodic take than could be found either on Psychoriffadelia or their 2016 self-titled (review here), which until now had been the band’s highest achievement in songwriting.

There are two key lessons, takeaways, whatever-you-want-to-call-them, from Groovy. The first is that Geezer have found their way. And in fact, they’ve worked their way toward doing so. Each of their records has built on the last, and even their stopgaps have been effective in constructing the forward line of their progression. So while Groovy stands and testifies its own accomplishments, there’s nothing to say those can’t or won’t be surpassed. The second is that the balance in their sound is something no less fluid to them than their jams themselves. That is, with Groovy, Geezer offer proof of dynamic and live chemistry, but their method for doing so does not hold that their next work will be staid or simply seeking to recapture the same feel. The next party might be even more wild, but as Harrington advises, it’s worth living in the present. This is a moment captured. A crucial one for them. One that is wholly theirs. Can you dig it?

Geezer, Groovy (2020)

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Days of Rona: Stefan Mersch of Sun Voyager

Posted in Features on May 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

sun voyager stefan mersch

Days of Rona: Stefan Mersch of Sun Voyager (Rockland County, New York)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

We hit the pause button pretty early on which has been tough but we’re starting to figure out ways to get back at it. The three of us have been keeping in touch. We’ve been playing music together for more than 10 years and have never gone this long without playing or even being in the same room. At a certain point you get antsy, like you’ve been in “go” mode all these years, but when literally everyone around you is getting sick, you worry more about the safety of others than yourself. I think what sucks the most, as a band, is we were hitting a stride creatively and had a really productive weekend in the studio right before this hit. Any delay sucks, but when you’ve got momentum, it hurts. I’m trying to turn a negative into a positive though and all this time outside of bars and venues has freed up some cash to get everything we need to finish those recordings and then some, so I’m building a home studio in my garage, which has been an adventure to say the least. Kyle brought his drums down last week, we jammed with all the mics on, and it was killer. Enormous step up from the phone recordings we’re used to. No more 20-minute jams buried in the group chat. I’m psyched to see what kind of productivity and output we’re capable of with that red button on at all times. As for me, I’m quarantining with my fiance in Rockland County. Unfortunately, we had to push our wedding back to next year but we figured its better to be safe for the sake of all our guests. Bummed about that but I think it’ll make the actual wedding that much better when it finally happens.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

New York is bad, even where we’re at in the lower Hudson Valley. When it hit in Westchester, the population is so dense, millions in the city and millions more commuters, you just knew it was going to be bad. People are being responsible for the most part, working from home, and we’re all adapting, right? We’re ordering our groceries online, everyone is doing contactless delivery or curbside pickup now, and I haven’t really been out in public since the outbreak. We’re supporting local restaurants and breweries, which I encourage everyone to do. People come over on occasion and we sit or stand six feet apart, wear masks, and play “let’s-make-a-pile-of-cans,” which is always a good time. Just doing what we can to make the best of a dark situation. We all know someone who had it or know someone who knows someone that died. We all have friends who are out of work. There’s so much uncertainty. Even with the testing. Our friends in Brooklyn seem to think it went through them in one big wave but no one got tested. I know three people who live with someone that tested postive but tested negative themselves. That’s the scary part. The numbers are low. We all want this to end but it can’t end if we stop social distancing too early. New Yorkers are good at banding together in tough times. All this time apart, we’ll probably come out of it closer than ever.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

The music industry is getting hit pretty hard, but I think a lot of us are seeing a nice wave of exposure with people having more time on their hands. They’re spending more time online than ever before, they’re sharing more content than ever before, and people are tired of the same old shit. It’s a good time to get found, so I’m not discouraged at all. I think it’s also a great opportunity for a lot of us to figure out new and creative ways to reach people and experiment with sounds and create. Bandcamp continues to waive their fees once a month and Apple gave out a free 90 day trial to Logic Pro X. I’m having a blast with it. Some of us might come out of this more inspired than ever. Others might never come out of this. I feel for the touring musicians that make a living off touring who had to put their plans on hold. I feel for the festival organizers, like Roadburn and Desertscene and Freak Valley, that basically lost an entire year. I probably feel the most for the bands that were given the opportunity to play some of those festivals this year. All that excitement only to get crushed by a global pandemic. It sucks. You know a lot of great music is being made though and hopefully we can all benefit from that.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

We miss everyone. We’ve met so many awesome people on this journey and just miss everyone. We should have been playing two awesome shows this weekend. We should have been playing another sold out show in Asbury with Ruby next weekend. We should have voted in a primary. We should have finished this record by now and you should be listening to it. We’re getting by though and teaching ourselves how to record killer records so we can put out as much music as we can, as often as we can. If I learned one thing jamming with Kyle last week, it’s that we’re more eager to make music than ever and I’m that much more excited about things to come. The next time you see us, that record will be out and another will be on the way. That’s our new normal.

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