Feature: King Buffalo Interview… Me…?

Posted in Features on October 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo

Before we get to anything else, I want to say this: I am really, really, really uncomfortable with this whole idea.

I mean it. I’ve been kicking myself in the ass since it was brought up. King Buffalo are about to putout their second full-length, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), on Oct. 12, and the record’s just great. 2018 has produced a glut of fascinating, exciting and kickass albums, but especially when it comes to potential lasting appeal, I’ll put King Buffalo up against any of them, including Sleep. Big words, I know, but I’m serious. At this point, I’ve been doing this long enough to know when a release is going to stick.

So it’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t get to do a track premiere for Longing to Be the Mountain or the album stream, which I assume will be on some cooler site with a wider reach next week. Okay. That happens to me all the time, and the truth is, King Buffalo neither owe me anything nor are exactly an unknown quantity around these parts. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you might recall their early-2018 EP Repeater had a track stream with the review, and I hosted the premiere of their debut LP, Orion, when that came out in 2016. I’ve also covered them in live reviews, their 2016 digital live release Live at Wicked Squid Studios (review here), their 2015 split LP with Lé Betre (review here) and their 2014 demo (review here), and it goes back further than that if I felt like searching out more links. But I think I’ve made the point. In terms of reaching an audience, King Buffalo have “done” The Obelisk. They’re a known quantity, and with a record like Longing to Be the Mountain, which has the potential to catch ears not already familiar with the band, it deserves as much of a chance as possible to do that.

This interview, where drummer Scott Donaldson asks me questions and I answer instead of how it should be, which is the other way around, was not my idea. It wasn’t. Please know that. It was pitched to me and I was hemming and hawing on it until I spoke to my wonderful and brilliant wife, The Patient Mrs., and she told me in her sweet, diplomatic way to get over myself and do it. I did the latter, obviously not the former, and I still feel a little bit like my fragile writerly ego is being placated for the stream I didn’t get to do. I don’t deserve to be interviewed — least of all on this site! Jesus. It feels so self-indulgent. I’ve had a couple rare occasions where I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone want to talk to me about what I do, and that’s always massively appreciated, because absolutely, I’ll run my mouth (or at least my fingers on the keyboard) if you’ll let me. But to have to then post it myself? Oof.

That’s a bummer way to start a piece that’s actually pretty fun, with silly questions and silly answers and whatnot, but all I can do is be honest about where I’m coming from, and even after I did the interview and sent it back, the thought of putting it up on my own, here, has continued to feel weird and self-indulgent. They call me “important.” Cringe.

So I’ll throw The Patient Mrs. under the bus. It was her idea.

Thanks for reading. Here’s the Q&A, which I titled myself:

jj obelisk

Longing to Be Relevant: A Wrong-Sided Conversation with King Buffalo

So in an exciting twist, I (Scott from King Buffalo) have the privilege to interview one of the most important gentleman in the entire stoner, psych, and doom etc. community, Mr. Obelisk himself, JJ Koczan. If you don’t know JJ, then you’ve probably been listening to your Spice Girls cassette on repeat and should stop reading now. For everyone else, on to the interview……..

Besides “The Pecan,” what do you view as your greatest achievement?

The truest answer I can give you is my relationship with my wife. We’ve been together since I was 15 years old. It’ll be 21 years in about a week as I write this, and I’m so incredibly lucky to have her in my life. Through high school and college and into professional life, through grad school — which for her was about a decade-long process — and beyond, she’s this amazing, brilliant, beautiful person and she’s absolutely the core around which the rest of my existence revolves. To see her in a new way this past year as she’s become a mother to The Pecan has been even more astounding, but there was never a doubt in my mind she’d nail it, because that’s what she does. She’s kind and sincere, far more patient with me than I deserve, and she says things like, “I think you should go to Norway,” which is about as much as I could ever ask of a partner in life.

More to the point I think of what you’re asking, probably best of all as relates to The Obelisk is the fact that people tell me words I’ve written have mattered to them. Usually that’s in the form of, “Hey dude I found such and such band on your site thanks!” and I really dig that and feel incredibly fortunate for it, but every now and then someone actually says something about the writing itself and that means a lot to me because such a big part of that project is that the voice it all comes from is my voice. I’m writing like I speak. I interrupt myself all the time. I jump from thought to thought. I have run-on sentences. I think in repetitive lists, etc. When that touches somebody and they feel strongly enough about it to let me know, whether it’s an email or a note on social media or coming up to me at a show, that’s a pretty astounding feeling.

If you could go on tour with one band, during any time period, dead or alive, who would you choose?

I’ll give you two that could’ve actually happened. I had a chance to tour Australia and New Zealand with Kings Destroy and Radio Moscow a couple years ago and I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have the money. It’s someplace I’ve always dreamed of going and the KD guys are good friends and I’ve been on the road with them and Radio Moscow before, so it’s all a familiar group to be with, and I just couldn’t get the cash together for a flight. I’ve never made much money, and I have no savings or anything like that, so it just wasn’t an option. They got to meet the cats from Beastwars and to see Arc of Ascent — I’m a huge fan of Craig Williamson (also of Lamp of the Universe and Datura), so that would’ve been amazing — but it just didn’t happen. My understanding from the guys afterward was it was a pretty rough tour, but I still regret it. A lot. Just to go there, in that context.

A year or two later, there was a chance The Patient Mrs. was going to get a grant to go to Australia and do research — she’s a college professor — and it looked like a lock. I got in touch with the guys from Hotel Wrecking City Traders and they put together like this whole festival thing in Melbourne that I presented because I was going to be there and everything, and again, the trip fell through. I missed that show. It was put on because I was coming and I didn’t make it. Still stings.

When Lo-Pan played Roadburn a few years ago and they had Adrian Zambrano on guitar, there was some talk about me joining them on the road for a week or two in Europe after. I could hardly think of a more righteous opportunity, but again, money. That’s the reason I haven’t been to Desertfest in a half-decade, it’s the reason I missed SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal and Freak Valley in Germany this year, both of which I was invited to — see also: baby — but yeah. I don’t make any money from The Obelisk and it’s times like that where it really hits home.

What’s the worst band name you’ve ever heard?

Any of them that I’ve forgotten. There are a lot of generic stoner-band names out there, but I actually don’t mind that, because it’s part of a whole aesthetic. It’s like fuzz riffs, or kind of slower rolling grooves. It’s part of the thing. There are a couple shitty names out there — I got called a “whinny liberal” (sic) on Instagram once for saying Black Pussy was a shitty name. Since then, I’ve wanted to start a band called Whinny Liberal, but am restrained, as ever, by lack of both talent and time.

Marry, Fuck, Kill – Lemmy, David Bowie, Prince and why?

Fuck Prince. Obviously. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Plus he was like a Seventh Day Adventist or something, so he was probably a total freak in bed. Isn’t that how it always goes with fundamentalists? They don’t celebrate Xmas, but they’ll break out the sex-swing and make a holiday of any occasion?

Marry Bowie. If you’re getting married, you want stability, and Bowie and Iman stood the test of time.

Kill Lemmy. HOWEVER. After you kill him, you take his brain and put it in a cyborg Lemmy so he can live forever and still never quite reach the microphone on stage. Who keeps making those things so tall?

Who’s the most underrated singer / lyricist of all time?

Paul McCartney. He’s also the most overrated.

You’ve been tied to the railroad tracks by Boris Badenov, and there’s a train hurtling towards you. You’re surrounded by your music collection, and you’re able to break loose, but only have time to save 5 albums. What albums do you save?

I would certainly hope to be saved by Moose and Squirrel before the train hits, but if we’re talking my collection, I’d take mostly stuff that was gifts. I’ve got a signed Enslaved CD that was sent to me by Nuclear Blast because they weren’t getting a lot of press in the States at the time. That has sentimental value. I’ve got a bunch of Sabbath and Beatles bootlegs and a couple Type O Negative bootlegs that I bought decades ago that I’d save. I’d save the copy of Saint Vitus’ Lillie: F-65 that Season of Mist used my quote on the front-sticker for, I’d save whatever of the Man’s Ruin Records stuff I could grab, and I’d save the original copy of Alice in Chains’ Dirt I swiped from my older sister when I was like 10. I don’t know if that’s five or 50, but it’s some of the stuff I have that has value to me beyond whatever cash I may have paid for it.

Why do people say “cheese” before being photographed?

Traditionally I think because to say “cheese” stretches out the sides of the mouth and provides a natural smile. It’s not true, though. In my experience — and this may just be my own bitchy resting face — saying cheese draws the sides of the mouth downward, so you’re not smiling for the camera, you’re just looking like you’re having your face pulled. But who the hell smiles for a camera anyway when you can make a weird face or just be metal and scowl. That’s probably my preference.

A monkey is shot into space and comes back to earth with all the knowledge of the cosmos. He will only talk to you, and will allow you to ask one question. What is it?

Why bother? Fuck that selfish monkey. He should probably get a press conference together and start unraveling the mysteries of the universe to everyone instead of one question to my ass. You know what my one question would be? “Why are you such a prick that you’re unwilling to share this vast knowledge you’ve acquired?” Monkey should be too busy in a lab somewhere curing cancer and on the fucking senate floor saving democracy from imperial populism to answer my shitty question in the first place. “Hey monkey, how ‘bout those riffs, huh?”

A lot of websites, blogs, magazines and livejournals have come and gone since The Obelisk’s inception. What drives you to be able to continue on this journey?

Compulsion. I need it so much more than anyone else needs it that it’s laughable. I started The Obelisk after the magazine I worked for went under and I wanted to keep my contacts and I still had a stack of stuff to review and nowhere to put it. So my buddy Slevin put together a WordPress for me and I stumbled through learning how to use it. Since then, it’s consumed such a major portion of my identity that I don’t know what I’d do without it. I’m “JJ from The Obelisk” for so much of my day. At this point, it’s what I schedule my life around. I wake up at two or three in the morning to write before the baby gets up so I can get work in before I have to go be daddy, and if I don’t, I’m out of my mind the entire day. I have a very, very compulsive personality. It makes me a complete asshole in many situations, but it means that when I do something like this, I do it all the way. I’m dedicated to developing a critical aesthetic and all that, and I believe strongly in the music and whatever role I play in talking about it as I do, but the simple truth is I need it. It’s been long enough and it’s a big enough part of my life that I can’t really be who I am without it.

If you could form a supergroup out of any musicians from the past and present, who would you pick?

Nah, you never really know how a supergroup is going to work out, and I feel like if you pick a band with “stars” from other bands, often it’s ego-driven and kind of falls flat. I’ll just take my Shrinebuilder record and the Munchen Sessions from when Los Natas jammed with Stefan Koglek from Colour Haze and be happy with that.

Crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

Fun fact about me: I love peanut butter. You nailed this question. Peanut butter anything — I’m in. It’s the fastest way to my heart. These days I grind my own from dry roasted, unsalted peanuts — because I want to taste peanuts, not salt — and I usually stop the food processor before it’s all the way smoothed out. It’s not “crunchy” like in the Jif or Skippy sense, where there’s like half a nut just mysteriously inserted into otherwise smooth peanut butter, but if I can get it to where it’s got a bit of texture and still get the good oils out from the peanuts and bring out that flavor, I’m happy. I also recently started grinding almond butter as an alternative. Different process, takes longer, but also yields satisfying results.

You’re the smartest man alive, you’ve just built a machine that can travel through time and teleport you to any destination. Where do you go, and why?

I’d travel to a dimension outside of conventional hours and give myself more time to write

Then I’d go back to when I was like 15 and tell myself to go see Kyuss and White Zombie on tour together. And Sleep whenever.

Lastly, if you had to describe how awesome King Buffalo is in one word, what word would you choose?

As regards your new album, “breakthrough” is the single word that most comes to mind, but I think generally the forward step you’ve taken has been to make your sound more your own while also developing your songwriting, upping the level of presentation via production, and generally showcasing the lessons you’ve learned both from Orion and from the touring you’ve done since that record came out. These are some of the things I think can be most admirable from a band going from one LP to a follow-up. I knew you guys were onto something the first time I heard the demo, but Longing to Be the Mountain is a special album. You should be proud of it.

In all seriousness though, thank you so much for all you do JJ. Most outlets overlook upcoming bands. It’s because of your ears and fingers that I’ve been turned on to a lot of great music. I look forward to seeing who you find next. –Scott (The guy that hits stuff in KB)

In all seriousness, Scott, this feels weird and I’m not entirely comfortable talking about myself in this way on this site. It feels like a total ego trip and I’m not into it. But I’m doing it because it’s you, and because it’s King Buffalo and because when I told The Patient Mrs. about it and said I probably wasn’t going to do it, she said I should.

Alright, the baby’s waking up. I gotta go. Thanks for taking the time.

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

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Kayo Dot Sign to Prophecy Productions; Playing Prophecy Fest in Brooklyn

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

As Prophecy Productions continues its ascent as a US-based entity, one can hardly argue with its selection of targets. The latest pickup from the German-expat imprint is New York’s post-everything avant garde troupe Kayo Dot. Led by founding frontman and principal crafter-of-whatnots Toby Driver, the band is now some 15 years removed from their 2003 debut, Choirs of the Eye — and thank you very much, that’s my “you are old” reminder for the day; gotta have at least one — and continue their commitment for fiercely progressive fare and a will toward experimentation with varying styles and sounds. Their latest album, 2016’s Plastic House on Base of Sky, came out in 2016.

Not sure whether this deal extends as well to Driver‘s solo output. He issued Madonnawhore last year, which collected a series of brooding and ambient tracks that would likewise be a fit on Kayo Dot‘s new label, but either way, Kayo Dot will be appearing at Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn this November, alongside 1476AlcestYear of the Cobra and others. Details on that are here.

And here’s the announcement of Kayo Dot signing, via the PR wire:

kayo dot

AVANT-GARDE POST-ROCK BAND KAYO DOT JOINS PROPHECY PRODUCTIONS

*BAND TO PERFORM AT “PROPHECY FEST USA” IN BROOKLYN, NY IN NOVEMBER*

The critically acclaimed New York based avant-garde post-rock band Kayo Dot has officially joined the roster of Prophecy Productions. The news comes in advance of the band’s upcoming performance at the inaugural 2-day Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn, NY at Knitting Factory on November 2nd. Tickets are available here: https://bit.ly/2M3SpgB

“I’m very happy and optimistic about working with Prophecy going forward. Forming a relationship with Prophecy and also becoming more closely connected with some of the major players in the European metal scene has brought up a lot of feelings that, although I haven’t engaged with in many years, still feel like home and family. We’re extremely excited to have this opportunity to bring our music to a wider audience and contribute to this universe in a positive, unique, and progressive way, and we thank Prophecy and everyone involved for believing in us, and we thank Jonathan at The Flenser for encouraging us to make this move.” – Toby Driver

The endlessly eclectic project, spearheaded by composer and producer Toby Driver, was formed in 2003 by the members of the legendary ethereal metal band, Maudlin of the Well, marking a giant, inspired evolutionary leap. Since then, Kayo Dot’s muse has shown its face through slow and massive cascades of guitars and violins, avant-garde jazz and fusion, post-rock, experimental metal and psychedelia – soaring and exploring through all facets of their music.

Kayo Dot’s members and collaborators come from a huge range of backgrounds; DIY punk kids to the most erudite conservatory-educated New York performing musicians. Frontman Toby Driver’s list of collaborators includes names like Randall Dunn (WITTR, Myrkur, Sunn 0))), Secret Chiefs 3 (Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle), John Zorn, G. Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch, Asva), among many others. The diversity of collaborators feeds Kayo Dot’s ability to twist and turn, leaving a listener wanting more with no limits on how it will evolve, all the while creating sounds that are both timeless and contemporary.

http://www.kayodot.net/
https://www.instagram.com/kayodotofficial/
https://twitter.com/kayodotofficial
https://www.facebook.com/kayodot.official/
https://kayodot.bandcamp.com/
http://en.prophecy.de/

Kayo Dot, Plastic House on Base of Sky (2016)

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King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain: Storm with Eyes

Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo longing to be the mountain

From the echoing sounds of birds that begin ‘Morning Song’ to the final drifting guitar lines of ‘Eye of the Storm,’ King Buffalo‘s Longing to be the Mountain is nothing less than a band taking their approach to a new level. The Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson teased this progression earlier this year with the Repeater EP (review here) and its sprawling title-track, but even that 13-minute opus didn’t quite give away the full reach of the second long-player to come. Now some five years removed from their 2013 demo (review here) and having also released a split with the defunct Lé Betre (review here) in 2015, the three-piece follow-up 2016’s Orion (review here), which was the best debut released that year, by taking a progressive step forward in songwriting and performance.

Longing to be the Mountain benefits from the time King Buffalo spent on tour not only in consideration of these factors, but in its very makeup — it was recorded with All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod producing (Grant Husselman engineered, McVay mixed, Bernie Matthews mastered), with whom King Buffalo have toured more than once, and its cover art is by Adrian Dexter, who is also known for his work with Elder, with whom King Buffalo are Euro-labelmates on Stickman Records as well as former tourmates. Even before one hits play and McVay‘s bluesy guitar sleeks its way into “Morning Song,” the value of experience shows itself, and in the graceful patience of the 10-minute opener, with McLeod‘s acoustic and McVay‘s electric layers intertwining, there’s a sense of serenity at the beginning of the six-song/42-minute journey that seems to last much longer in the best way possible, even as Reynolds adds further heft to the melody and Donaldson‘s bouncing hi-hat assures there’s a sense of motion to underscore all the methodical heavy psychedelia surrounding. It is a dynamic the first album more than teased, but which King Buffalo now deliver with earned confidence, and along with the memorable craft they show throughout the shorter, post-opening salvo of “Sun Shivers,” “Cosmonaut” and “Quickening,” and the breadth in the final pair of the title-track and the aforementioned “Eye of the Storm,” both of which also top 10 minutes in length, that chemistry between the three of them helps to make Longing to be the Mountain one of the best albums of 2018.

Each of the three longer-form cuts — that is, “Morning Song,” “Longing to be the Mountain” and “Eye of the Storm” — makes its way to a rousing payoff, but there are distinctions nonetheless in the personalities among them. “Morning Song” makes the turn somewhat drastically, with the guitars and drums dropping out to let Reynolds present the nodding groove on his own before the full band returns to surge forward. The title-track moves from its synth beginnings through a build of proggy noodling into a sort of pre-apex midsection before receding and pushing forth again in its eighth minute, while “Eye of the Storm” begins with immediate motion thanks to Donaldson‘s drumming and maintains that active feel through crunchier riffing in the first half that carries through a heavier jam into a final build and then the payoff that pulls back to let the album quietly make its way out led by the gotta-hear-it bassline. These subtle differences in structure belie the superficiality of Longing to be the Mountain having two modes of working — i.e. longer and shorter songs — and make it plain that the band are engaged not in the execution of one formula or another, but the exploration of varied ideas and modes of expression.

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

McVay‘s emergence as a frontman is notable for the performance he gives on guitar and vocals throughout, conveying emotion and poise alike on “Morning Song” and being no less at home riding the cascading riff of the subsequent “Sun Shivers” or giving a human presence to the psychedelic wash late in “Cosmonaut,” but the truth is Donaldson and Reynolds are no less crucial to the impact of the material, and even McLeod‘s acoustic guitar seems essential in “Cosmonaut” for providing an earthy underpinning to all of McVay‘s ethereal, floating tone. As the psych-via-grunge of that track gives way to “Quickening,” the band showcase a proggier style of composition, with a tense line of guitar and a resultant fluidity that comes across as something of an answer to All Them Witches‘ “Alabaster,” and give an especially hypnotic push en route to the album’s best stretch of lead guitar, singing out with a heightening melodic awareness and adding to the overarching impression of creative growth at hand. It’s quick perhaps in comparison to some of the stretches to come in the title-track and “Eye of the Storm,” but not at all to be discounted for its depth of songwriting. Again, a new level for King Buffalo.

And they back it up with two songs that, together, comprise nearly half the runtime of the album as a whole. “Longing to be the Mountain” makes a hook of the titular lyric, and expands the ideology of “Quickening” with an underlying rumble and spacious synth/keyboard added to not only provide an introduction, but to flesh out the dual-layer post-midpoint solo just ahead of a stop from which the band — McLeod included — pivot to the rhythm that will carry them through the crescendo and out, via fading feedback, to the more active start of “Eye of the Storm.” Its title delivered in the first verse, the closer feels more immediate, but with hints of vocal harmony from McVay and a gradual movement from one part to the next, there’s still an element of the patience of “Morning Song” and “Longing to be the Mountain” at work.

The double-payoff keeps it from being simply an afterthought following the title-track, and perhaps telling, the jam at the end — again, Reynolds‘ bass; yes — sounds more or less like it could keep going rather than wander into its fadeout as it does. I’m not sure I’d say that’s an intentional message saying there’s more to come, but it gets the point across either way that the evolution they’ve undertaken as a unit isn’t necessarily finished, and like Orion before it, Longing to be the Mountain is both a significant achievement on its own and a herald of what may yet be in store from King Buffalo. Whatever the future brings, for the smoothness of its flow between varied songs marked out by choice performances, for its deep-running sound and resonance of tone and emotionalism, and for the obvious heart that’s been poured into every second of its making, Longing to be the Mountain is a search that seems to find that what it’s looking for was there all along. It is a record that feels like home.

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

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Shadow Witch Seeking Drummer; New Album to be Recorded

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Kind of an odd situation for Shadow Witch, but Shadow Witch are kind of an odd band, and that’s part of their appeal. The Kingston, New York, four-piece are getting ready to record the follow-up to their sophomore full-length, Disciples of the Crow (review here). They’ve given the new album the title Under the Shadow of a Witch, and they’ll record with drummer Doug “Beans” Thompson, but then after that, Thompson‘s leaving the band and they’re looking to bring someone else in.

So what Shadow Witch need is a drummer not to play on the album, but to pick up with live shows thereafter and, presumably, record with them next time around. If you’re a drummer, that gives you the chance to get to know the other guys in the band before rather than stepping into a situation where they have a bunch of completed songs and you have to catch up to them. It’ll require learning the material, but it would anyway. Like a lot of what Shadow Witch does, it makes a weird kind of sense.

Replacing Thompson in the lineup won’t be easy, but as fascinating a band as Shadow Witch are, especially live, I have no doubt they’d be able to find someone.

Here’s their announcement:

shadow witch

New York’s SHADOW WITCH are sadly on a search for a new drummer. Doug “BEANS” Thompson (MURPHY’S LAW, BROOKLYN) with whom the band recorded and toured their second release DISCIPLES OF THE CROW, is having to leave the band for personal/family reasons.

The band is currently working on their next release “UNDER THE SHADOW OF A WITCH,” an album singer/lyricist Earl Walker Lundy says was written during an intense and torrid affair.

“All the songs are thematically tied to love as witchcraft, with obsession, addiction and loss as the outcome. We’re recording the album with Doug, but are in need of a replacement of his caliber to follow up with touring, and to move forward with the band. It’s an enormous challenge.”

SHADOW WITCH is:
David Pannullo (bass)
Doug “Beans” Thompson (drums)
Earl Walker Lundy (vocals, mellotron, samples)
Jeremy H. Hall (guitars)

https://www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band/
https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Shadow Witch, Disciples of the Crow (2017)

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King Buffalo Announce Oct./Nov. Touring; Post “Quickening” Video

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

Well, King Buffalo are currently wrapping up their pre-release tour for the upcoming Longing to be the Mountain, which they’ll release Oct. 12 on their own in the US and through Stickman Records in Europe, so I guess the only thing left to do is announce the dates for the post-release tour. That will start Oct. 27 in Montreal and run through the first couple weeks-plus of November. They haven’t yet announced plans to head to Europe in support of the new record, but I’d expect that to follow not too long behind, maybe early 2019 or so.

And if you want to hear a particular example of the sonic progression between Longing to be the Mountain and its 2016 predecessor, Orion (review here), take a listen to the solo late in “Quickening,” the video for which is posted at the bottom here. The level of melodic engagement from guitarist Sean McVay, not to mention the confidence in his vocals, is an absolute standout on the record. And the record, as well, is an absolute standout among 2018’s releases. I’ll have a review up sometime in the next couple weeks.

Here are the dates from the PR wire:

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

KING BUFFALO: psych-rockers premiere “Quickening” video, announce 2nd leg of North American tour

New King Buffalo track “Quickening” has made its debut today, in the form of an animated video.

The song appears on the Rochester, New York trio’s sophomore album Longing to Be the Mountain, out October 12th (self-released in the US, Stickman Records in Europe.)

Longing to Be the Mountain is a feast of haunting vocals, hypnotic grooves, mounting tension and explosive finalés, earning more than a few comparisons to Pink Floyd. It was produced by All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod.

Pre-order the album (vinyl and digital):
http://kingbuffalo.com/

The band is currently on tour in North America and has revealed a second leg of North American tourdates, kicking off October 27th in Montreal:

Sep 12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Sep 13 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Sep 15 – Toronto, ON @ Bovine Sex Club

Oct 27 – Montreal, QC @ Montreal Zombie Walk
Nov 1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Nov 2 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Nov 3 – Fawn Grove, PA @ South County Brewing Co.
Nov 4 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
Nov 5 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Nov 6 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Nov 7 – New Orleans, LA @ Santos Bar
Nov 8 – Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s
Nov 9 – Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas
Nov 10 – Fort Worth, TX @ Lola’s Saloon Sixth
Nov 12 – Nashville, TN @ The End
Nov 13 – Indianapolis, IN @ White Rabbit Cabaret
Nov 14 – Louisville, KY @ Jimmy Can’t Dance
Nov 15 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Nov 16 – Detroit, MI @ PJ’s Lager House
Nov 17 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
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King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

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Swans Reissuing Soundtracks for the Blind Through Young God Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

You know, I’ll admit it. Sometimes I just post about Swans stuff to torture myself. Because the truth is, when it comes to the landmark, groundbreaking, etc., etc., New York avant garde, way ahead of the curve on the whole go-fuck-yourself thing outfit Swans, I’m a novice at best. At best. They’re an easy band to appreciate, but always a challenge. So when I see stuff like, “Oh here’s a 4LP set of Soundtracks for the Blind, I say to myself, “Well I’m definitely going to post about that, because I sure would like to own it.” But all the Swans stuff — and yes, I mean all of it — sells out before I even get there. It’s all super-limited runs and basically it stops when Michael Gira says so, and that’s well before I manage to save my pennies. So as they’ve done to so many over their decades, Swans leave me in the dust. Continuously. So it goes.

Soundtracks for the Blind was the last Swans record before the dissolution of the band, and it would be 14 years after its release before they managed to put out another album. Imagine that purge. Yikes.

Since it’s a reissue, it’s streaming now from the band’s Bandcamp page, which apparently exists. It’s at the bottom of the post, where one often finds those kinds of things around here.

From the PR wire:

swans soundtracks for the blind

Swans – “Soundtracks For The Blind” deluxe reissue

Much requested by Swans fans, the vinyl package will consist of four LPs in jackets enclosed in a box with a poster, insert and download card. The box set will be a limited edition of 4,000 copies worldwide and once sold out will be followed later in 2018 by a gatefold LP version. The album will also be reissued on CD featuring a repackage of the original digipak for the 1996 Atavistic release plus a bonus disc of the contemporaneous Die Tür Ist Zu EP (a German language version of some of the material from Soundtracks that also includes unique material) recently released for the first time on vinyl in the USA for Record Store Day 2018. Outside of the USA Die Tür Ist Zu EP will be released as a limited edition companion piece double vinyl set, also on 20th July.

“This album has everything in there – all the ideas from Swans’ initial 15 years of work. There’s some contemporary recordings of the band as it existed in ’96/7, with Larry Mullins on drums/percussion, Jarboe singing and playing keyboards, Vudi playing electric guitar, and Joe Goldring playing bass and electric guitar, and me singing and playing electric and acoustic guitar, but there’s also a huge amount of sounds and recordings that Jarboe and I collected over the years. These are reassembled, looped, mangled, and in many cases overdubbed upon to create new pieces of music… I really set my own trap, dug my own grave on this one. There was SO MUCH material to deal with, to sift through (whole trunks full of decomposing, moldy cassettes and discs with samples and sounds), and the task of making it into something coherent was at times debilitating. Really like climbing up a mountain of sand. I don’t remember why I set this goal for myself, to somehow incorporate such a ridiculously disparate amount of material. I think maybe it was so I could justify throwing all that crap into the local dump, which is what I did when I finished the album. But in the end, after centuries of picking at this huge iceberg of material with a toothpick, my trusty engineer Chris Griffin and I managed to sculpt something out of it. It actually breathes, seems to live, in most places I think. … When I decided to reform Swans in 2010 Soundtracks was what I referred to as a starting point” – Michael Gira / Swans 2018

Available for pre-order now at the Young God web store: https://bit.ly/2jHU3Ir

Michael Gira has also announced a short West Coast run of solo acoustic dates this Fall. Support on all dates will be Swans guitarist Norman Westberg. Dates are as follows:

9/27/2018 Los Angeles CA Regent Theatre
9/29/2018 Berkeley CA The UC Theatre
10/4/2018 Portland OR The Old Church Concert Hall
10/5/2018 Seattle WA Columbia City Theater

NYC show to be confirmed soon

“Now that this last phase of Swans is over, I’m not quite sure it actually happened. It’s already fading, like most things. I think we achieved something there though, and it was good after shows to go out and meet people and get a sense of how the music has affected them, either that night or through the years. I’m always touched when I hear the music has had a salutary effect on someone, since it’s had the same effect on me – which is why I do it. So, even if the details are increasingly hazy, I feel we’ve left something positive behind, and perhaps contributed something worthwhile.

Now, as is natural, I’m looking towards what comes next. I’m currently writing new material for the next phase of Swans, some of which I’ll perform on my upcoming solo tours. Sitting there alone on stage with a dead piece of wood and some wires and just my voice is a challenge I set for myself a number of years ago, trying to fully inhabit the same thread that’s run through the music all along, with the simplest of means. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it over time. I play the guitar my own way. I’ve never really learned how to play it conventionally and I don’t care to do so. I could just as easily be hitting two rocks together. It provides a context for the voice and words, and just as in the music of Swans, when all the elements (known and unknowable) combine, it can lead to something beyond itself, which is always the place I’d like to go: somewhere else. I hope to see you there.”
– Michael Gira / Swans 2018

http://www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial
https://swans.bandcamp.com
http://www.younggodrecords.com/

Swans, Soundtracks for the Blind (1996)

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Hollow Leg & Witchkiss Touring in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg

witchkiss

Last time I heard from Florida’s Hollow Leg, it was this Spring when they announced they’d begun work on their next record. I don’t know what their recording process is like off the top of my head, but I’m going to guess that the album is probably done. Since they’re teamed up with New York’s Witchkiss to tour their way out to Doomed and Stoned Fest in Indianapolis — where Hollow Leg are set to play Oct. 6 — and back eastward after, and since Witchkiss‘ 2018 album is called The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes, and since the tour is called “The Austere Civilizations Tour,” I’ll further guess that not only is the new Hollow Leg record done, but the title in some way involves the word “civilizations.” Maybe that’s all it’s called. I don’t know, folks, these are just guesses.

If you’re looking for harder news, well, there’s the tour dates for starters. They’re right here, as per the PR wire:

hollow leg witchkiss tour

HOLLOW LEG/WITCHKISS ANNOUNCE TOUR

HOLLOW LEG and WITCHKISS are pleased to announce that they will be teaming up for a short East/Mid-western tour of the United States this fall. The tour will also include a stop at the Doomed and Stoned festival in Indianapolis. (Hollow Leg only)

Hollow Leg commented “Hollow Leg are really looking forward to this upcoming run with our labelmates in Witchkiss as well as appearance at this year’s Doomed and Stoned fest! Cities like Chicago we’ve been looking to play for a while and our festival appearance is giving us a chance to get there this time around.”

Witchkiss further commented “We are super stoked to be doing this run with Hollow Leg in early October. Getting to play with our Argonauta labelmates who’s music we love in all of these new cities is a dream come true! We might even be playing a new song for y’all too!”

More information can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/295316921230835/

HOLLOW LEG/WITCHKISS AUSTERE CIVILIZATIONS TOUR DATES
Oct. 3rd – Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge
Oct. 4th – Memphis, TN @ Growler’s
Oct. 5th – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
Oct. 6th – Indianapolis, IN @ Doomed and Stoned Fest (HL only)
Oct. 6th Canton, OH @Buzzbin (Witchkiss only)
Oct. 7th – Charlottesville, VA @ Golden Pony
Oct. 8th – Baltimore, MD @ The Depot
Oct. 9th – Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s
Oct 12th- Richmond, VA @Wonderland (Witchkiss only)

https://www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl
https://hollowleg666.bandcamp.com/

http://facebook.com/witchkissband
https://witchkiss.bandcamp.com/

www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Hollow Leg, Murder (2017)

Witchkiss, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (2018)

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King Buffalo Announce New Album Longing to be the Mountain out Oct. 12; Touring This Month; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

Rochester’s King Buffalo have spent a good portion of the last couple years on the road and they’re back with a sprawling new collection they’ve dubbed Longing to be the Mountain that showcases the willful growth they’ve undertaken. Really. You know I loved Orion (review here). Still do, in fact. Longing to be the Mountain, in its performance and in the writing of the material itself is absolutely on a different plane of achievement. It’s a top-ten kind of album, and it distinguishes King Buffalo‘s mode of expression as having become all the more their own. I’m dead serious. It’ll be the kind of review that I’ll end with “recommended,” and you know I don’t break that one out often.

They’re streaming a new single now to give a taste, and you can check it out at the bottom of this post. Longing to be the Mountain was produced by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches and features cover art by Adrian Dexter, also known for his work with Elder. The appearance of neither is a coincidence, since King Buffalo have toured extensively with both groups.

And speaking of touring, they’re on the road this month to Psycho Las Vegas, as the PR wire informs:

king buffalo longing to be the mountain

KING BUFFALO announces sophomore album “Longing to Be the Mountain”; first single streaming; North American touring begins this month

King Buffalo announces the October 12th release of its second full-length album, Longing to Be the Mountain.

From Rochester, New York, King Buffalo is the trio of vocalist/guitarist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds, and drummer Scott Donaldson. Since forming in 2013, the self-proclaimed “heavy blues” band has made its name via debut album Orion, follow-up EP Repeater, and tours with the likes of The Sword and All Them Witches.

Sophomore album Longing to Be the Mountain is an enthralling piece of work that sees King Buffalo fulfill its promise. In six songs, clocking in at 42 minutes, the band cements the style initiated on previous releases. Sure to delight fans of psych, stoner, and krautrock, Longing to Be the Mountain is timeless rock music, greater than any one genre.

Donaldson’s clean, sturdy drumming and Reynolds’ hypnotic basslines lock into grooves that propel the songs, traveling from cool, spacious zones into all-out explosive finalés. Frontman McVay mesmerizes with a haunting vocal style that commands full attention despite its sedated tone – early Pink Floyd is a reference point. Within each song, he showcases a palette of vivid guitar playing, from jangly rhythms to ripping solos.

Some songs make their point in 4 minutes or less, others sprawl out above the 10-minute mark. In either case, there is no fat to trim. King Buffalo moves with purpose. Reynolds names British Invasion bands like The Animals as an influence on him during the making of Longing to Be the Mountain, noting how he came to respect simplicity – “just playing the right notes in the right places.” With the three members in sync, songs progress steadily and fluidly, from world-weary lulls into squalls of transcendence.

King Buffalo’s music and lyrics are in harmony, both painting pictures of traveling, questing, evolving. Of the lyrics, McVay says, “The album is about searching for meaning. It’s a story about finding one’s place in an increasingly turbulent and chaotic world.” We, the listeners, are lucky to witness King Buffalo’s journey as they cruise onward and upward, leaving behind an amazing soundtrack as they go.

Longing to Be the Mountain was produced by All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod. It was recorded at Main Street Armory in Rochester by Grant Husselman, mixed by Sean McVay, and mastered by Bernie Matthews. Acoustic guitar throughout the album was played by McLeod. The artwork was created by Adrian Dexter. The album will be released on vinyl and CD, and digitally.

King Buffalo embarks on a North American tour in August, including a stop at Psycho Las Vegas and numerous Canadian dates. More touring will follow in the fall.

King Buffalo on tour:
Aug 15 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Aug 16 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
Aug 17 – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
Aug 18 – Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater
Aug 19 – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
Aug 21 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
Aug 22 – Los Angeles, CA @ Five Star Bar
Aug 24 – San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
Aug 25 – Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver
Aug 27 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Loading Dock
Aug 28 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Aug 29 – Spokane, WA @ The Pin
Aug 30 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
Aug 31 – Seattle, WA @ Highline
Sep 1 – Vancouver, BC @ Astoria
Sep 2 – Kamloops, BC @ Grind House Cafe
Sep 4 – Calgary, AB @ Palomino Smokehouse
Sep 5 – Edmonton, AB @ Bohemia
Sep 6 – Saskatoon, SK @ Capitol Music Club
Sep 7 – Regina, SK @ Cloud 9
Sep 8 – Winnipeg, MB @ The Handsome Daughter
Sep 9 – Fargo, ND @ Aquarium
Sep 11 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Sep 12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Sep 13 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Sep 15 – Toronto, ON @ Bovine Sex Club

Tracklist:
1) Morning Song
2) Sun Shivers
3) Cosmonaut
4) Quickening
5) Longing to Be the Mountain
6) Eye of the Storm

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

Discography:
Longing to Be the Mountain (self-released, 2018)
Repeater EP (Stickman Records, 2018)
Orion (self-released, 2016)
Electric Ladyland Redux compilation (Magnetic Eye Records, 2015)
Split w/ Le Betre (STB Records, 2015)
Demo (2013)

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
twitter.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com

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