Posted in Whathaveyou on November 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
A couple interesting points about the new Sun Voyager track, “God is Dead.” It is declarative (or at least without punctuation) where the Black Sabbath song of the same name from last year’s 13 full-length was an interrogative. Neither is the first to use the title, though, and looking at the lyrics to Sun Voyager‘s cut, it doesn’t seem to be in conversation with the other. Fair enough. It’s also a preview of Sun Voyager‘s forthcoming full-length, which is now slated to release in Jan. 2015 on King Pizza Records, and it arrives as part of a compilation from the label, which specializes primarily in punk, and on which it is the longest song at 4:28.
It also brings word that Sun Voyager will have a split tape out in a couple weeks with Greasy Hearts, who are labelmates and also featured on the same compilation, which is titled Surfin’ on Pizza Lightning, because of course it is.
NEW SONG PREMIERE ON NEW KING PIZZA COMP
We’re not going to bore you with a too lengthy of an update today….
BUT WE HAVE A NEW SONG.
It’s on King Pizza Records’ new compilation titled “Surfin’ On Pizza Lightning,” which features songs by a bunch of our friends including a song by Greasy Hearts which will be on our SPLIT. Yea, that’s right. We have a split coming out in about 2 weeks. It’s with Greasy Hearts and it’s rad. Can’t wait for you guys to hear it. This song, which is called GOD IS DEAD, is not on the split but it WILL be on the full length along with Gypsy Hill and will be released in January.
“I know some of you people like to dance And I know some of you people just like to roll and rock And roll and rock So come on honey, it’s alright We’ll do whatever YOU feel like…”
— Cactus, “Whatever You Feel Like”
The exact recording dates, I’m not sure, but Cactus‘ second album, 1971’s One Way… or Another, was put to tape at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan sometime after the release of their 1970 debut, and listening to Tim Bogert swagger out the second “roll and rock” in “Whatever You Feel Like,” no question Jimi Hendrix was a presence in mind at the time. All that’s missing is a little “uh huh” after “rock.” Considering the studio opened in Aug. 1970 and Hendrix was dead less than a month later, it seems only fair to think Cactus would’ve been working with some of his influence in following up their first record, their fluid tempo shifts on “Rock and Roll Children” and the wah/acoustic layering on “Song for Aries” are easy enough to see in that light as well, though of course Cactus were foremost indebted to blues rock, and there’s plenty of that to be had on One Way… or Another as well.
Immediately, as it happens. One Way… or Another opens with the Little Richard cover “Long Tall Sally,” also done by Elvis and The Beatles and many, many others. But Cactus take the original and slow it down to a vicious, sleazy groove, guitarist Jim McCarty basically giving bassist Tim Bogert — who usually handled backup vocals to Rusty Day‘s leads, but took the fore on “Whatever You Feel Like” (Day got his moment in a harmonica solo) — and drummer Carmine Appice all the room they could ever ask for to swing through and then some. Cactus‘ Cactus was a little more unhinged, a little more dangerous overall, but the fullness of sound and tonal satisfaction that One Way… or Another provides isn’t to be understated. That’s not to say “Big Bad Mother Boogie” doesn’t have its edge, just that if you listen back to their take on “Parchman Farm” from the first record it sounds like the song is about to fly out from under them.
Their take on Chuck Willis‘ “Feel so Bad” gives a bluesy start to a side B that branches out soon with “Song for Aries” and hits possibly its most righteous note in “Hometown Bust,” a heavy return that’s as huge as anything that might’ve been called metal at a later point in the decade, McCarty wailing out a lead that, yeah, there’s Hendrix again, and killing it in the process while Day throws in some chops on harmonica. The closing title-track rests on an up-down nod of a riff not frantic but still maddening in its turns, Bogert and McCarty playing off each other brilliantly before the last chorus return, Day‘s vocals doubled for maximum effect en route to the last, all-too-quick fade.
Cactus had one more album, 1971’s Restrictions, with the same lineup, though the changes that would result in lineup shifts for 1972’s ‘Ot ‘n’ Sweaty – bringing in Leaf Hound‘s Peter French to replace Rusty Day — were already taking root. I’m not sure which I’d pick over the other, Cactus or One Way… or Another, but both are heavy rock classics and definitely the sophomore record makes some compelling arguments in its case, the upped Hendrixery among them.
Hope you enjoy.
In case you’re also wondering, no, I have no idea where November went. Next week is Thanksgiving, which is another one of those US holidays celebrating a fiction — this one about peace between European colonists and the native people being colonized — like Xmas or Columbus Day or Labor Day, and so on and so on, but screw it, a day off is hard to argue with. The Patient Mrs. and I are heading south for the occasion — I know you’re shocked — to New Jersey. I expect family time will consume the bulk of the week, but I’ll have some posts along the way where and when I am able as well, including a new podcast on Wednesday, so if you’re traveling for the holiday, or just sitting on your ass (it works either way), you might want to grab that when it’s up. I’m gonna shoot for Wednesday morning, but we’ll see how it goes.
Also look out for a Murcielago review hopefully on Monday and something or other on Tuesday to fill time while I pack to head to Jersey on Tuesday night. I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends and, if I’m honest, to not being in the house for a while but also knowing where I’m going, ever. After a year of where-the-hell-am-I-what’s-the-fastest-way-to-the-highway-and-which-highway-do-I-want-anyway, it’s starting to wear a little thin. Novelty fades. Inconvenience is forever.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll be mentally preparing myself for the onslaught of the holidays by sitting as quietly and as still as possible. It’s like meditation except it involves watching hours of Star Trek episodes at a time.
Be well, and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Here’s a fun fact: I fucking hate videos I’m in. Photos too. Really anything. If I can go without seeing, hearing, reading myself, seeing my name, feeling like I exist, escaping for 20 seconds from crippling neurotic self-awareness, whatever, that’s the way to go. The conundrum here is that even by saying that, I’m pointing out the fact that I’m in this video, but I think even if you didn’t know it was me and you watched it, you might be wondering to yourself, “Who’s the longhair dick up front taking pictures?” I’m that dick. That’s the guy. Get him.
I didn’t write about it in the tour report, but before the doors opened at The Met in Providence, I was sitting at the bar with The Patient Mrs., and one of the dudes who works there or owns the place or whatever came up and started asking where we got our passes all in an accusing tone of voice and shit, like we broke into the Pentagram show and stole them off the table or something. I was like, “The guy standing next to you gave them to us,” and then asked him if he wanted to fight about it. Got a winner of a look for that one — and rest assured, if he or the dude with him had wanted to fight, I’d have gotten my ass handed to me — but whatever. By then I’d been 12 nights out of 12 nights on that run and wasn’t ready to greet dickitude with anything other than the same.
Hope you enjoyed the digression. The mind makes these associations, event with place, place with time, song with season, and so on. To the best of my achingly limited understanding, this is the first video of Kings Destroy playing the song “Smokey Robinson.” It comes from that Providence show and was filmed by Pentagram drummer Sean Saley. I’m happy to report that even though I pollute the thing early on with my existence, the giant head that shows up right in front of the camera at the end belongs to someone else. We have to take our victories where we can get them.
Kings Destroy‘s next show is Dec. 12 at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar with YOB and Tombs. I am hoping to attend. “Smokey Robinson” will be featured on their third album, which will be out next year, and has been stuck in my head for the better part of the last three weeks even though I know about one-third of the words, and that’s being generous. It’s not something I’m posting because I feel obligated, or to fill space, or whatever. It’s a quality song and I had something to say about the video, so fucking there you go.
Kings Destroy, “Smokey Robinson” Live at the Met, Providence, RI, Nov. 2, 2014
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Considering that by the time they hit the road in May to support their latest album, To be Kind (review here), they were already playing new material, it’s probably safe to figure Swans will have progressed significantly when February rolls around, and that if they’re still around, “Frankie M.” and “Don’t Go” will be much different than they were when they started out. Or at least a little different. Probably angrier. Okay.
The Michael Gira-led troupe had previously announced an initial batch of 2015 dates that I didn’t get to post because I suck at this and they’ve just added some more for March and April. My trouble is debating whether I want to go north to Portland or south to Providence to see them in February. Maybe I’ll just drive to Albuquerque. That seemed like a nice town.
Swans will release a new digital EP called Oxygen with a few different versions of the To be Kind track of the same name on Nov. 25. You should buy it because when Swans sell things they use the money to make more music.
Swans add March and April dates to 2015 N. American touring
Swans have commenced the sixth leg of a year-long world-wide tour celebrating the release of their 2 CD set To Be Kind, the third studio album from this outfit since their reactivation by band primum mobile Michael Gira in 2010 after a 14 year hiatus. In addition, on November 4 they re-issued their 1983 debut album Filth on vinyl for the first time in decades. In addition on November 25 they release a digital EP of “Oxygen” from To Be Kind, featuring four different versions: an edit of Oxygen by Mute founder Daniel Miller, a live version from Primavera, an early version recorded at Gira’s home and an acoustic version recorded at StudioMute.
The touring line-up is: Michael Gira – guitar, voice (original Swans); Norman Westberg – guitar (original Swans); Christoph Hahn – guitar (mid period Swans and most Angels Of Light); Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, dulcimer etc etc (final Swans tour and most Angels); Chris Pravdica – bass and gadgets (Flux Information Sciences / Services/ Gunga Din); Thor Harris – drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, keys, etc etc… (Angels / Shearwater). I’m hoping you’ll consider advancing this show with a feature, CD review or advance blurb.
To Be Kind was produced by Michael Gira, performed by the touring line-up, recorded by the venerable John Congleton at Sonic Ranch, outside El Paso Texas; further recordings and mixing were accomplished at Congleton’s studio in Dallas, Texas. Gira says of the new album, “A good portion of the material for this album was developed live during the Swans tours of 2012/13. Much of the music was otherwise conjured in the studio environment.” The album debuted at #37 on Billboard’s Top 200 sales chart and has garnered a huge amount of ecstatic coverage from a host of impressive outlets.
SWANS North American Tour Dates 2015 2/17/2015 Portland ME Port City Music Hall 2/18/2015 Providence RI Columbus Theatre 2/19/2015 Montreal QC Theatre National 2/20/2015 Toronto ON Phoenix Concert Theater 2/21/2015 Chicago IL Thalia Hall 2/23/2015 Grand Rapids MI The Pyramid Scheme 2/24/2015 Cincinnati OH Woodward Theater 2/25/2015 Cleveland OH Beachland Ballroom 3/23/2015 Philadelphia PA Union Transfer 3/25/2015 Baltimore MD Baltimore Soundstage 3/26/2015 Richmond VA The Broadberry 3/27/2015 Carrboro NC Cats Cradle 3/28/2015 Atlanta GA Terminal West 3/29/2015 Knoxville TN BIG EARS Festival 3/3/12015 Jacksonville FL Jack Rabbit’s 4/1/2015 Saint Petersburg FL State Theater 4/2/2015 Pensacola FL Vinyl Music Hall 4/3/2015 New Orleans LA One Eyed Jacks 4/4/2015 Dallas TX Trees 4/6/2015 Austin TX The Parish 4/9/2015 Albuquerque NM Sunshine Theate
If you haven’t seen them, the fluid bluesy grooves emitted by New York trio Geezer are best consumed live. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Chris Turco have a marked, well-developed chemistry that comes across onstage, and while their latest, here-today-gone-immediately vinyl EP, Gage (review here), did well in capturing it, sometimes you just need to go to the source. To that end, the band present Live! Full Tilt Boogie(also stylized as LiVE! FULL Tilt Boogie), a limited cassette release of a live show recorded May 31 at their regular haunt, The Anchor in Kingston, NY, with five songs and a clear glimpse at their penchant for heavy rolling groove.
Live! Full Tilt Boogie is mostly a digital release, but the band pressed up 25 tapes and tossed them in what they cleverly dubbed the “Full Tilt Baggie,” also including a download card, band sticker, STB Records button, Geezer patch and a sticker for Harrington‘s regular podcast, the Electric Beard of Doom. There are still a couple left through Geezer‘s Bandcamp, but as one might expect, the highlight of Live! Full Tilt Boogie is the boogie itself, i.e. the music, which thrives off the raw live sound and gives even newcomers to the band a vital representation of what they do, Harrington‘s throaty delivery topping the faster bounce of the opening title-track and the memorable starts and stops of “Pony,” taken from Geezer‘s 2013 Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues debut full-length, slide guitar winding around the steady bassline and cycles of drum fills.
“Long Dull Knife,” which closes out side one of the tape, is introduced as “a new one” and is a tale of wuh-muhn problems set to a nodding stoner riff and peppered with wah/whammy effects around a catchy chorus. Side two gets underway with driving push of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” which on the debut boasted a harmonica but here is given a more straightforward rock presentation as it makes its way toward a jam that emphasizes one of Geezer‘s great strength both live and recorded. Pacing is part of it, but the band’s songwriting eases the listener so smoothly into these quiet stretches, some brief, some long, some exploratory, some plotted, that one almost wakes up inside wondering how they got there. In the case of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” the chorus soon returns to deliver the blindside blow, but “Ancient Song,” which closes the set and thus the tape, is more stretched out, topping nine minutes of languid, unfolding jamming. From where I sit, “Ancient Song” is Geezer‘s best work to date, honing not only what’s best about their style — the slow nod, bluesy riffing, blend of jam and hook, etc. — but also their perspective. These guys aren’t coming out of the gate trying to sound like kids. “Ancient Song” is grown up, with a sense of self-awareness that works well alongside its fuzz and liquefied rhythm.
Probably not a major release for the band, but a pleasant stopgap anyway that shows off their live chemistry and gives a look at some new material besides, Live! Full Tilt Boogie is both a merch-table curio and an example of the lack of pretense at the hear of what’s appealing about Geezer in the first place. They’ve worked quickly over the last couple years to develop this affinity for pushing heavy rock and blues into sharing a sonic space, and I think we’re just getting to the start of hearing what that sounds like as interpreted by the band. If Live! Full Tilt Boogie is your first experience with Geezer, you’ll still find they’re worth the look.
Posted in Features on November 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
11.02.14 — 2:56PM — Sunday afternoon — In van, en route to Providence, RI
“And what will you miss…?” — Bobby Liebling
Had a couple minutes before we had to hit the road from Steve’s place, and took a couple pictures of the band out among the trees and all that. I’ve never been much for promo photos, or photos in general really, or anything, but something to do, anyway. Tour closes out tonight in Providence. I think everyone’s geared up for it — I know I am — and feeling good with some decent rest and a slow start this morning/afternoon, not needing to rush to get to Rhode Island, which is way closer than, say, Burlington, Vermont. Or Minneapolis to Grand Rapids. That was not a short drive. Compared to that, this is like a trip to 7-Eleven.
Radio Moscow are reportedly back tonight. They’re continuing on the East Coast, playing New York, Boston, etc., after this tour is over, so I have little doubt they’ll make it, but it has to be exhausting traversing seaboards like that. I give them credit for even attempting it. This tour waited more than six months between doing West Coast and East Coast. Radio Moscow are doing it in a day. Pretty wild.
The Patient Mrs. is also coming to the show tonight. It’s been more than a week since I’ve seen her, though we spoke more this tour than last time out, I’ll be glad to grab dinner with her and hang out during the show. I’m traveling with the band, so it’ll be back to NY tonight and then back up to MA in the morning — gonna try to leave early, but we’ll see how it goes — and will then sort out the rest of the week from there. Starting to think about getting back to real life, much as I have one, and not thinking about the drive to the next town or whatever. It’s a bit of a transition. Was last time too.
But I will be glad to get home, see The Patient Mrs., the little dog Dio, eat a salad and drink some more homemade iced tea, do laundry and find a place to put one of the posters Jim Pitts set aside for me from along the way, maybe the Philly one or the one with the Halloween masks. I’ve got time to decide, and another day to go before I get there anyway, but I’m excited. It’s been a good run, and the sun is out today and a couple of the guys went home last night — Aaron and C-wolf — so people are relatively well rested, myself included, and ready to kick it out one more time to finish the tour.
Posted in Reviews on October 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Long Island heavy rockers John Wilkes Booth will mark their first decade together next year. 10 years. The band — who, if you’re wondering, took on what I think even they’d tell you (perhaps while smirking) is a lousy name in order to capture something universally hated — made their full-length debut in 2008 with Sic Semper Tyrannis (review here) following a split with 12 Eyes and my former band, Maegashira, and a 2006 self-titled EP, and five years later, they answer their long-player with the eight-track/34-minute sophomore outing, Useless Lucy, which both beefs up the production overall and delves into darker noise rock terrain on cuts like “From the North” and “Masturbation Song” while tapping various veins of ’90s alt rock in “Six One” and the later “Ladder and Vacuum,” at least before the latter switches to its crunching hook, Tool-style bleaker prog riffing from guitarist Jason Beickert winding out a resonant chorus that consumes much of the three-minute song’s second half, vocalist Kerry Merkle recounting an everyman tale of woe overtop, somewhat ironically (and again, perhaps smirkingly) following the parental love-letter “Soaking the Perimeter.” The Booth have always had something of a progressive drive, musically and vocally, and Merkle does well in changing his approach here from gutting out the start-stop chorus in “Masturbation Song” and the verses in “13 Years” to more cleanly riding the funk-rock push of “Ladder and Vacuum,” bassist Harry Vrooman and drummer Christian Horstmann stepping up the bounce there where in the midsection of closer “Family Crest” they smoothly hold together a post-bridge jam as Beickert embellishes an exploratory-sounding lead.
To make a prior allusion explicit, I’ve known the John Wilkes Booth guys for years, played shows with them, collaborated on releases, and so on, so I’m not about to claim a measure of impartiality when it comes to appreciating what they do. They are one of those bands. Nestled into their geography out on Long Island, separate from the entirety of the country with the morass of New York traffic between, they rarely get out, have never toured for any length of time, but have continued to hone their craft at familiar local spots, have kept a consistent lineup because they must genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and have put together a solid album of new material written not with the rush of an impending touring cycle, but with time taken to fully embrace the process of hammering out parts and making the songs sound the way they want them too. Would they be a bigger, more solidified unit if they’d hit the road six years ago and never looked back? Probably. Or they might’ve broken up. Who the hell knows? The point is that when it comes to Useless Lucy and the Booth in general, what you see is what you get. They might cop an experimental vibe here and there — with its slower progression and foreboding vibe, opener “From the North” is probably the farthest they veer from their more straightforward norm — but by and large they traffic in unpretentious heavy rock and roll, vibed out with various echoes in the guitar and vocals and made stronger by the chemistry of the rhythm section. They’re not looking to be a huge band or to “get a buzz going” in any other than the beery sense of the phrase. As I’ve always seen them, their motives are pure. They create because they feel joy in the expression. That’s kept them going for a decade so far.
And somewhat more astoundingly, they do so without really ever pushing into self-indulgence. Even the penultimate “Intro 2 (Lick My Spacesuit),” which is essentially 90 seconds of an effects buildup leading the way into “Family Crest,” serves a purpose in adding to the atmosphere of the album overall and giving the listener a breather after “Ladder and Vacuum” and before the finale. Earlier, “Six One” showcases an airier sensibility than either of the opening duo in front of it, but neither that nor the rolling fuzz of “13 Years” which follows, fail to convey a well-developed songwriting process, and everywhere John Wilkes Booth go on Useless Lucy, that’s what remains most consistent. They’ll never be a big band — even the phrase “I like John Wilkes Booth” pushes the boundaries of taste; they prefer “F the Booth” as a slogan — and they’ll probably never quit their jobs and go on perma-tour, get big press and whatever else, but frankly, the fact that they’re going to do what they do regardless makes them all the more admirable in my eyes. There’s nothing insincere about Useless Lucy, or that feels cynical or like it’s just there because it’s what’s popular. It’s not what’s popular. If it was they’d sound like Graveyard or Uncle Acid. Instead, they sound like the Booth. It won’t turn heads, and the album’s not perfect by any stretch — Merkle‘s voice comes across high in the mix in places, and the recording is clean more à la modern rock than heavy rock — but it’s honest, and going into a band’s new record with the expectation of honesty is a rare and not-to-be-understated delight.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The track “Oxygen” from Swans‘ 2014 album, To be Kind (review here), is a fitting example of the way that record just kind of whams you in the face with sound. Edited by Mute Records founder Daniel Miller, it’s an even-more-pointed thrust and a quicker summary of the rhythmic insistence on hand throughout. I doubt that’s why it was chosen for release as a digital EP on Nov. 25 through Michael Gira‘s Young God Records anymore than the edit was done so they’d have a three-minute version to send to radio — the likely motivation is the usual; Swans put out a short or limited release in order to fund whatever they want to do next — but it winds up that way anyhow. That edit will be one of four versions of the track on Oxygen when it arrives at the end of next month.
Swans – who also put on one of the best shows I’ve seen all year — will also be reissuing their first album, 1983’s Filth, on vinyl Oct. 28. The PR wire invites us all to get schooled:
SWANS RELEASE “OXYGEN” – DIGITAL EP, NOVEMBER 25
SWANS release a new EP, “Oxygen,” out digitally on November 25 2014. Featuring an edit of “Oxygen” by Mute founder Daniel Miller, a live version from Primavera, an early version recorded at Gira’s home and an acoustic version recorded at StudioMute, the title track of the four-track EP is taken from their latest album, ‘To Be Kind’, out now on Young God (Mute outside of North America).
Swans recently confirmed their biggest UK headline show yet, at London’s historic Roundhouse, on May 21 2015 plus an appearance at Drill : Brighton festival on Sunday December 7. Drill festival, curated by Wire, will include a one-off collaboration between Wire and Swans – full details over at www.drillfestival.com, this appearance follows the Michael Gira / Swans curated Mouth To Mouth festival in Utrecht on November 22 which Wire are also appearing at, full details over at http://leguesswho.nl/
In addition, Swans round off an incredible year which has seen the release of their critically acclaimed album, ‘To Be Kind’, with a remastered vinyl edition of their debut studio album, ‘Filth’, out on October 28 2014.
Swans, led by Michael Gira, formed in 1982 and, after disbanding in 1997, returned with the critically acclaimed albums ‘My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky’ (2010), ‘The Seer’ (2012) and this year’s ‘To Be Kind.’
Swans are Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica.
OXGYEN EP TRACKLISTING Oxygen (Edit) Oxygen (Live at Primavera) Oxygen (Early Version) Oxygen (Acoustic Version)
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Just days after returning from a month-long European tour, Brooklyn four-piece Naam have effectively announced they’re calling it quits. The heavy psych/space rock forerunners have left the door open — or maybe that’s just wishful thinking — to regrouping at some point, but their headlining slot at the previously-announced Sludgefeastnext month will serve as their final live appearance. No word as yet on whether the members of the band, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lee Lugar, bassist John Preston Bundy, drummer Eli Pizzuto and keyboardist John Weingarten, will pursue other projects. I guess it’s early for that kind of thing.
Naam made their debut in 2009 with the Kingdom EP (review here), which sounds raw now compared to what the band would become over the course of their tenure but is nonetheless a landmark in the development of Brooklyn’s heavy scene. Signing to Tee Pee Records, Naam released their self-titled debut full-length later that year (discussed here) and through years of work on the road, positioned themselves both among the label’s best acts and among Brooklyn’s most quality exports.
They’d go on to put out a 7″ of Nirvana covers, another EP in 2012’s The Ballad of the Starchild (review here) and a follow-up full-length in last year’s Vow (review here), which affirmed their status at the fore of American heavy space rock, the addition of Weingarten‘s keys not only distinguishing Vow from its predecessor, but becoming a crucial element in the band’s sound. More touring ensued — I think the best show I ever saw them play was at Desertfest London in 2013 — and Naam pushed their sound even further into cosmic manipulations earlier this year on a split with The Flying Eyes, Black Rainbows and White Hills (review here). At the time, that seemed to herald continued growth and a new experimental bent in their approach that one hoped would continue on their next album.
Whether or not Naam regroup at some point, their legacy is set in their two albums and slew of other releases — they have a physical pressing of their Live in Berlin EP coming next year — but also in the grind they did on the road, touring for a month at a clip either in Europe or the US, pushing themselves to and apparently past the brink in an effort to get their music to as many people as possible. Their greatest statement was always made on stage, and as much as it’s a bummer to think they won’t have another studio outing anytime soon, the thought of not seeing them live again is even more of a downer. Brooklyn’s brand of heavy would not be what it is today without Naam‘s example to follow.
They announced the end thusly:
We regret to inform you all that we have decided to take a very long hiatus and will not be performing or writing for many years and possibly ever again. We love all of you and greatly appreciate all of the support and good times you have given us over the years.
We will be playing our final show on November 15th in Brooklyn, New York at Sludgefeast with our buddys White Hills. We suggest buying your tickets now at the link below. We plan on going out with a bang.
Thanks again for everything and we will see you around. Peace.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve been hoping for solid word of an LP release from New York heavy psych rollers Sun Voyager for a couple months now. Originally slated as a summer 2014 issue through King Pizza Records, their upcoming debut seems more likely for 2015 at this point, what with Fall’s big slowdown leading to Winter’s dead stop ahead, November fast approaching (sorry, I completely missed the point when August became September, let alone September becoming October) and December not far behind. It’s a traditionally lousy time for bands to put out albums, though some rebellious types invariably do, and with the swath of live shows Sun Voyager have slated, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re into the New Year before their full-length surfaces. I think if you take a listen to the demo version of “Gypsy Hill” below, you can get a sense of why I’m feeling impatient to find out what these cats can do over the course of a while album.
They sent an update on gigs down the PR wire, as they tour through the Hudson Valley and beyond in NY:
Sun Voyager Fall Update
WHAT’S GOING ON EVERYBODY! Been a while… We miss you… And thank you so much for supporting us.
First off.. Here are a couple links where you can continue with your awesome support by clicking and following or liking or listening. Stay tuned for new music that will be released VERY soon.
Next WE HAVE QUITE A FEW SHOWS THIS MONTH
10/8 – The Cake Shop, New York, NY 10/10 – Brazen Head Pub, Monroe, NY 10/11 – Quinn’s, Beacon, NY 10/14 – Bowery Electric, New York, NY 10/18 – Radio Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY 10/23 – Unofficial CMJ Showcase @ Don Pedro, Brooklyn, NY 10/24 – Snug Harbor, New Paltz, NY 10/25 – Bard College, Annendale-on-Hudson, NY 10/26 – Arlene’s Grocery, New York, NY 10/31 – King Pizza Halloween Bash @ Don Pedro, Brooklyn, NY
Posted in On Wax on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Way less of a surprise when you put it on paper than when you hear it, but it’s amazing what an impact an additional 14 minutes of music can have on a release. Primo New York blues rockers Geezer issued their Gage EP last year digitally, but aligning with STB Records, they’ve made it available as a full 36-minute 12″ in limited pressings — the only one left at this point is the OBI strip version, and its availability is due to a manufacturing holdup; STB‘s witchcult grows — with notably gorgeous orange and red splatter work and a striking front cover from Alexander von Wieding. It’s a beautiful package, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s followed the development of the label, but just as noteworthy is the sound of Gage itself, which has gone from a loose collection of jams — the last of them, “Dude, it’s Molecular,” was recorded live — to a genuine LP.
Gage distinguished itself immediately from Geezer‘s Handmade Heavy Blues full-length by showcasing a more languid, heavy psych approach from guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Chris Turco. They were still plenty bluesy — the die-hard edition of STB‘s release of Gage was pressed to black 190g vinyl to evoke a vintage 78rpm feel, and the music justifies that — but “Ancient Song” and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” unfolded a jammy spirit, easy-moving and grooved out, that the first album didn’t yet have, playing off the long-established chemistry between Harrington and Villano inGaggle of Cocks but moving in a distinct direction. “Ancient Song” and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” opens and close side A, respectively, with the shorter slide-guitar blues number “Thorny” in between, a fuzzy distortion vague and buried in the background behind Harrington‘s surprisingly smooth vocal, a departure from his generally gruff, whiskey-soaked delivery.
“Thorny” has a bit of psychedelia to its echo, but the context of the track is completely different when one considers “Ancient Song” before it and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” after, the two longer jams fleshing out heavy vibes and, in the case of the latter, unfurling a heavy rock hook of a cadence that reminds of Halfway to Gone‘s “Great American Scumbag” while reveling in its own wall of fuzz on the way to its jammed-out payoff. Over on side B, “Tales of Murder and Unkindness” (14:27) doesn’t so much distinguish itself for how psychedelic it is, but how far-ranging. It’s almost three songs in one, with a spaced-out beginning, more straightforward play of verses and chorus, a chugging jam, riff-out and final hook marked out by the lines, “And when we come for you/There will be blood.” “Tales of Murder and Unkindness” manages to successfully flow from one movement to the next, ending with an Echoplex swirl that gives way on the LP to the live guitar noise that begins the jam “Dude, it’s Molecular,” a rolling groove emerging that the trio carries to a natural conclusion.
For anyone who might have heard Gage in its original incarnation, “Tales of Murder and Unkindness” gives the STB version a much different personality, fortunately without pulling away from the laid back vibe of the self-release, however foreboding the extended track might at times be. If anything, it signifies how much Geezer are still in the process of discovering their sound, and refining their approach to be more than just a blues side or a psychedelic side. I’d be interested to know when it was written in relation to, say, “Ancient Song,” but that’s only so I might be able to cheat and make a more educated guess as to where they might be headed next. I was intrigued to find out before, but with the vinyl of Gage, the plot’s just gotten that much thicker.
Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The tour had started two nights prior at Underground Arts in Philadelphia. The night before, they were in Boston, and it would’ve been a much shorter drive to hit that show, but it was my 10th wedding anniversary. A drive down to New York to pop into Manhattan and catch Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats with Danava at Bowery Ballroom didn’t seem unreasonable. Traffic on the way down, on the other hand, was. I still managed to get to the venue before they opened the doors to the upstairs room where the show was actually happening — I’d never seen a line inside the downstairs bar before — so though I felt like I was going to be late the whole time, I still managed to get a spot up in front of the stage. Doomly serendipity.
Portland, Oregon’s Danava, who are veterans of Kemado Records, were the lone openers. A double-guitar foursome, they weren’t unknown to me, having made a somewhat less than favorable impression at Roadburn in 2012. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing them, to be quite honest. I don’t even remember what it was about their Roadburn slot that had me so irked — maybe just the simple fact that they were on before Conan and the room was so crowded– but by the time their set was three songs in, it was clear I was the one with the problem and not the band, who boogied down on winding ’70s-style riffage like they were born to do it, bangs-sporting guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny trading riffs with Pete Hughes, also of Sons of Huns, in a flurry of shuffle and push met head-on by the bass and drums, not quite retro but definitely skipping a couple decades in its influence.
It was a sold-out show, and people came early, so Bowery Ballroom was plenty packed for Danava‘s set. “Shoot Straight from a Crooked Gun” and “White Nights of Murder” from their most recent album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, were both aired, but the primary impression I had of them was mostly of my own jackassery after our paths last crossed. Again, not sure what my deal was or where the distaste came from, but they were more than solid and held the fickle attention of a Friday night Manhattan crowd. For that alone they deserve some measure of credit. I guess one of these days I’ll have to go back and dig into their records, but at least I know for the next time they come through that it’s worth showing up. Lesson learned.
Old tube televisions, one or two with built-in VCRs — there was a time when these things were a premium — were spread throughout Uncle Acid‘s amp backline, and they’d flicker on and off with static as part of the UK outfit’s lightshow, otherwise minimal. Guitarist/vocalists Kevin “Uncle Acid” Starrs and Yotam Rubinger and bassist/backing vocalist Dean Millar were backlit, their faces obscured, as the lights above switched colors from red to blue to green, orange, yellow, etc., each song in the set seeming to come with its own hue. Light-up cat’s eyes were attached to cymbal stands on either side of Itamar Rubinger‘s drum kit, and they remained on for the duration, feeding into the band’s schlock horror cultistry and malevolent mystique, the crowd eating it up from the start of “Mt. Abraxas” onward.
For a band to sell out a place like Bowery Ballroom is not an inconsiderable achievement, and NYC is far from the only city on the tour to receive the band thusly, but that it’s Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ first run through the US only emphasizes the passionate response they have received. In the UK, they toured with Black Sabbath, and after a couple shows in London, they made their official live debut at Roadburn in 2013 with a slot on the Main Stage curated by Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard. Their two latest albums, 2011’s Blood Lust (review here) and 2013’s Mind Control (review here), are among the most lauded records in this half of the decade, and their influence is already being felt in a burgeoning movement of garage doom that one expects will only continue to grow. They’ve got a lot riding on their next full-length, but Uncle Acid are already a big fucking deal, and they were greeted accordingly in Manhattan, the audience roaring like something off a live record as the first recognizable strains of “I’ll Cut You Down” emanated from the stage.
I wouldn’t dare understate the power behind that song’s foreboding swing, murderous threat and otherworldly melody, but it was one highlight among several, “Crystal Spiders,” new single “Runaway Girls,” “Death’s Door,” “13 Candles” and “Mind Crawler” doling out rapturous hooks in Starrs‘ and Rubinger‘s vocals. They finished the regular set with “Withered Hand of Evil” and made an encore out of “13 Candles,” “Desert Ceremony” and the thudding “Devil’s Work,” a catchy finish but subdued in comparison to a lot of what preceded. No doubt this was by design, as was the entirety of the presentation, but the scale and realized sensibility with which Uncle Acid conjured up their demons and those of the multitudes in attendance — who almost to a head stuck through until the end — seemed to show a band rising to the occasion of the fervency they’ve induced. That is, while their ascendancy was already well underway by the time they started playing out, they’ve more than caught up with it. It would not be a surprise if on their next US tour, they play on even bigger stages.
Walking back the couple blocks to my car, it felt good to be back in New York. It had been a full year to the day since I last went to a show in Manhattan, which I think was the longest stretch I’ve had in more than a decade. I stopped into a cafeteria with some fantastic smelling Middle Eastern food and got a bottle of water for the road and then hit it, back up the FDR and toward the drunk-driver nightmare that was I-95 North heading into the weekend.
More pics after the jump. Special thanks to Jon Freeman for making this one happen and thanks to you as always for reading.
New Paltz final-frontiersmen It’s Not Night: It’s Space released their debut and most recent full-length, Bowing Not Knowing to What (review here), back in 2012. They were announced as having signed to Small Stone at some point last year and their new album is reportedly in progress, but no solid release date has been given yet. One imagines the instrumental trio will get there sooner or later, and in the meantime, Bowing Not Knowing to Whatstill has plenty of cosmic delights to offer those who’d take it on, as the new video for “The Gathering” demonstrates.
The clip, which appropriately enough features a slug laced in with spaced-out B-roll, was put together by John Lutomski, brother of It’s Not Night: It’s Space drummer Michael Lutomski, and like the song itself, it’s a peaceful but increasingly foreboding build, cinematic in the sense of having grandeur, but ultimately weirder than you’d find in most movies. “The Gathering” does well in blending natural elements — flute, percussion — and a steady effects wash as it builds up, which makes sense considering it’s the leadoff on Bowing Not Knowing to Whatand the introduction to the rest of the album, but the languid ritualism is what carries through most of all, and in that it’s a fitting representation for what It’s Not Night: It’s Space have to offer.
That record, as well as the band’s 2011 debut EP, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is available as a name-your-price download through Bandcamp, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get acquainted if you’ve yet to do so. It’s Not Night: It’s Space is Lutomski, bassist Tommy Guerrero and guitarist Kevin Halcott. and their new LP was recently performed in full at the New Paltz Rocks Fest over Labor Day weekend. More to come on the release, I’m sure.
Until then, enjoy “The Gathering” on the player below:
It’s Not Night: It’s Space, “The Gathering” official video
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Very interested to hear what Orange County, NY, heavy psych rockers Sun Voyager come up with for their debut long-player. Their 2013 demo, Mecca(review here), had a loose, laid back groove that neither came at the expense of songwriting nor felt like a put-on, so I’m eager to see where they take their sound with more room to flesh out ideas and maybe mix in some variety of atmosphere, effects experimentation, etc. The album, as yet untitled, was originally slated for a summer release on King Pizza Records vinyl, but that’s been pushed back to the fall.
In other news from the upstarts, they’ve parted ways with one of their guitarists and will proceed into the recording process as a full-length. They also sent word of upcoming shows around the New York area and more along via the PR wire.
Check it out:
Sun Voyager Summer Update
We hope your summer has been grooving smooth. Thanks for all the support over the last year and a half! It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve got some exciting things on the way that we wanted to share with you.
First a list of upcoming shows:
July 24 w/ Greasy Hearts, Big Huge & Jacques le Coque – Brooklyn – Silent Barn July 25 w/ Ma, Oneironaught, & Sex Dream – Brooklyn, NY – Big Irv’s Gallery August 1 w/ It’s Not Night: It’s Space – New Paltz, NY – Snug Harbor August 9 w/ Julian Fulton, Francie Moon, & more – Rahway, NJ – The Rail House August 15 w/ SULTAN BATHERY – Brooklyn, NY – Don Pedro’s September 11 w/ The End Men – Albany, NY – The Low Beat
Next (we’ll give you the bad news first), we’re not sure if all of you know this but Steve is no longer with the band. We wish him all the best but will be continuing as a three-piece. Don’t worry though. We’ve been rocking just as hard without him.
NOW THE GOOD/GREAT NEWS…. We’re wrapping up in the studio this weekend and are almost ready to give you some new music!!! King Pizza Records will be putting out our first full-length on 12″ VINYL and we’re super excited to part of such an awesome label that wants to do this for us. It will be 8 songs in length and should be out this fall. We put a rough version of one of the songs up on bandcamp and might have something else for you very soon…
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I had both of these bands on my “gotta see in 2014″ list, so I’ll be glad to kill two birds with one stone and catch All Them Witches touring with King Buffalo in the Northeast. There are just a handful of shows, and while I’m sure both will tour again and hit more towns that, say, aren’t a four-hour drive, the chance to see them now, and together, makes these gigs something special.
For Rochester, NY, heavy rockers King Buffalo, the tour is more their home turf. They’ll be out supporting their late-2013 three-song demo (review here), which showed their growth out of half the band’s former outfit, Velvet Elvis, and toward a more atmospheric approach, varied and tonally warm even on demo recordings. That demo was one of the best short releases of 2013, and King Buffalo were picked up by STB Records for the release of their first full-length as a result. The album is expected before the end of the year.
The recently-interviewed All Them Witches released a new single on June 15 called “Effervescent” that offered the strongest look yet at their jammier side. Heavy psychedelic blues made languid and sprawled over 25 minutes made an engaging follow-up to 2013’s excellent Lightning at the Doorfull-length, and as they promise to have vinyl with them on the tour, even though they don’t say vinyl of what, I can’t imagine it won’t be welcome by anyone who passes by the merch table.
All Them Witches will play a few shows in the south before the tour starts in NYC. Their full schedule goes like this:
Got some summer dates confirmed. We will have VINYL.
7/30-Atlanta, GA – The Drunken Unicorn 7/31-Chattanooga, TN – JJ’s Bohemia 8/1-Birmingham, AL – Secret Stages 8/21-New York, NY – Mercury Lounge w/ KING BUFFALO 8/22-Philadelphia, PA – MilkBoy Philadelphia w/ KING BUFFALO 8/23-Stroudsburg, PA – Sherman Theater Living Room w/ KING BUFFALO 8/24-Richmond, VA – Strange Matter w/ KING BUFFALO 8/26-Ithaca, NY – The Dock w/ KING BUFFALO 8/27-Rochester, NY – Bug Jar w/ KING BUFFALO 8/28-Nashville, TN – TBA!!!!!!!!