Live Review: Droids Attack and Kings Destroy in Brooklyn, 06.04.10

Posted in Reviews on June 7th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I guess I’d never seen Williamsburg on a Friday night before. I would’ve thought at some point I must have, but as I rolled down Bedford Ave. and bore witness to the hedonistic hipster fashion show — like something out of Valley of the Dolls, but sucky and pretending to be environmentally conscious at the same time — I swear I’ve never seen anything like it. Next-gen aristocrats everywhere pretending to be edgy for each other. The whole place smelled like sex, alcohol and axle grease. Get me the fuck out.

My timing was meh. I walked into the Charleston first as the band before was on and second after Droids Attack‘s set had already begun (I went to hide my head in the meantime; here I’ll point out that my terror was all the worse in my surroundings because I wasn’t drinking). The “stage” was basically just the end of the room in the basement, which, as far as I’m concerned, rules. If there’s one redeeming value about a small show in New York, whether it’s at Lit Lounge, the Delancey, or back at Club Midway when they put on shows — and at countless others, I don’t doubt — is that the show is downstairs while the assholes are upstairs. I’ll take that every time.

The sound is never great in a basement, what with all the concrete, but the sound is never great anywhere and Droids Attack certainly made the most of it, guitarist/vocalist Brad Van playing through a new Orange amp as well as the Dr. Z you can hear on their Must Destroy album. Van had a couple extended solos and there was a sizable jam at the end of the set — take that, Mr. “This Is Your Last Song” Sound Guy — and bassist Nate Bush and drummer Tony Brungraber locked down killer grooves throughout the proceedings. The vibe was good times, irony and bullshit free, and Droids Attack rocked out with clear love for what they were doing. By the end of the set, I was up front.

It was getting late and I had a two-hour drive ahead of me (as opposed to the prior two-hour drive it took me to get to the Charleston in the first place), but Kings Destroy were quick in setting up their gear, so I managed to stay for their whole set and barely a minute longer. This was, I believe, their third show — remember the first? — and just between the two I’ve seen they already seem more established on stage. Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski, both on guitar, played a little slower than in Hoboken, giving an ultra-doom feel to the songs they didn’t have last time I heard them. I recognized a good portion of the material, which if I didn’t say this in my last review bodes well for the full-length to be recorded this summer, and though I wanted them to be a little louder (they were un-miked and competing with two guitar and bass amplifiers as well as the P.A.), Rob Sefcik‘s drums turned out to make the night. Not too many frills in his playing, but a steady hand and some enticing fills that did well accenting Steve Murphy‘s vocals, which also felt more confident over the songs.

If I haven’t mentioned him yet, it’s only because bassist Ed Bocchino was a little lower in the overall mix than I would have liked — doom needs rumble — but that could just as easily be caused by the concrete eating the low end as by an amp needing to be turned up. I also noticed it with Nate Bush during Droids Attack‘s set, so it very well could have just been the room.

When I was over I shook hands and was out quick to hit the road. It was well past one in the morning and I’d be lucky to make it to Connecticut before three — which, luckily, I did — but even taking that into account, and even with the hipster douchery surrounding, I don’t regret having gone to the show. Smaller gigs like that are my favorite, being neither especially friendly nor able to see the charm in having beer spilled on my sandaled feet. The Charleston may have been beset on all sides, but the basement was like a fallout shelter and I was only to happy to soak up whatever sanctuary I could.

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Kayo Dot Create Another Subgenre, Again

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 12th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Say what you will about experimentalists Kayo Dot, their music is always two things: atmospheric and interesting. I don’t even think I heard 2008’s Blue Lambency Downward, but the band are back now with a new one called Coyote through Hydra Head, and it just might be time for me to catch up. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Toby Driver is also curating the month of February at NYC performance space The Stone, and the band will be doing a bunch of shows there with a bunch of varying lineups. More specific info on that is here. Here’s the PR wire goods on the album, which is due out April 6:

Coyote, Kayo Dot‘s fourth studio album, is a single, narrative-driven, long-form composition written with story and text provided by a close, terminally-ill friend of the band, Yuko Sueta, in the final stage of her life. Coyote was once again engineered by Randall Dunn (SunnO))), Earth, Six Organs of Admittance) in Seattle, Washington, forging a new genre of “goth fusion” which combines elements of early Cure, Faith and the Muse, and Bauhaus with Herbie Hancock‘s psychedelic album, Sextant, and Scott Walker‘s recent album, The Drift. The lyrics and story were constructed with deliberate melodrama to pay homage as well to the intended gothic vibe, expressing the protagonist’s loneliness and longing to be in a better place, and her journey through her own personal looking-glass through a hallucinatory world of fear and wonder.

The musical objective this time around was to create a piece of music that uses the sonic aesthetic of this specific era of gothic art-rock integrated with a more modern-classical approach to form and architecture. To achieve this, Kayo Dot has put together a new instrumentation, which features trumpet (provided by former Candiria trumpet player Tim Byrnes) and alto saxophone at the lead, backed up by violin, keyboards, piano, organ, bass guitar, percussion, and a pronounced lack of guitar across the album. This album also marks the return of former Kayo Dot member, Terran Olson, whose contributions were heard on the band’s 2003 debut, Choirs of the Eye, as well as with Kayo Dot‘s alter-ego, Maudlin of the Well. The music is also more rhythmically-driven than any previous Kayo Dot work, and being a performance-oriented composition, it was recorded mostly live (similar to 2006’s Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue). Coyote also brings back some of the aggression absent from 2008’s Blue Lambency Downward.

Tracklist for Coyote:
I. Calonyction Girl
II. Whisper Ineffable
III. Abyss Hinge 1: Sleeping Birds Sighing in Roscolux
IV. Abyss Hinge 2: The Shrinking Armature
V. Cartogram out of Phase

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Stare at this Flier for a While, Then Go to the Show it’s Promoting

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 28th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

The following flier was handed to me at the Eyehategod show the other night at Europa in Brooklyn, and it’s too cool not to post. I figured since the show depicted is tomorrow night, better to get it up now than not at all. Check out the painted van:

Dude, I'd totally drive that van.

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12 Eyes Interview: Exeunt Omnes — or am I??

Posted in Features on August 27th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Worship.When I proposed to 12 Eyes guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lynch the interview that follows, I pitched it to him as an exit interview, like human resources does when you leave a corporate job, to find out how your experience was working there. I wanted to know how 12 Eyes, now that they were leaving it, felt about the scene in their native NYC. With Lynch in the city proper and drummer Joe Wood (also of long-running sludge rockers Borgo Pass) and bassist Joe Rega out on Long Island, their perspective on Manhattan and beyond was bound to be worth investigation.

Sure enough, I was right. Lynch, whose relocation to New Mexico has put the band on hiatus if not actually broken it up, took the time to reflect on some of 12 Eyes‘ glories and follies. Having seen them more than several times myself and been lucky enough to consider each member of the band a friend, I can attest that the good-time vibe to which he alludes on behalf of himself, Wood and Rega is true and was always a big part of what made a 12 Eyes show so unique. No irony, no bullshit, no posturing, just a bizarre positivity cloaked in doomed-out riffs and blood-curdling cackles. They were like Bongzilla if Bongzilla drank three cases of Red Bull and started making up songs as they went along.

Their MySpace page still in tact and their current status unknown — which is somehow fitting their laid back, see-what-happens ways — The Obelisk proudly presents this interview with one of New York‘s few quality bands. Q&A is, as always, after the jump. Enjoy.

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Weekend of Doom, Pt. 2: Zoroaster and The Gates of Slumber in NYC

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

This was the deal.NOTE: Yeah, I know I didn’t write part one yet. I’m starting with Pt. 2. If you don’t like it, get your own damn website and number posts however you see fit. Now then…

It was under an appropriately darkening and threatening dusk that I — having slept until 1:30pm and spent most of the day wandering around semi-conscious and reeling from the night before — drearily made my way into Manhattan to catch the North America is Doomed Tour with SerpentCult, The Gates of Slumber and Atlanta mavens Zoroaster headlining. I left the house at about 8pm hit little to no traffic and pulled into a parking spot directly across the street from Webster Hall at 9:05. From outside, I could hear The Gates of Slumber riffing the start of their set. No one stopped me when I went and pulled on the wrong door of the venue.

The show was downstairs in a space they called The Studio. I’d never been in it before, but it was basically a smaller club apart from the larger ballroom. I love rooms like that. Like the Tap Bar at the old Knitting Factory. Every time I go to one I immediately start booking a multi-stage festival in my head. Upstairs I’d get High on Fire and Pentagram to headline while in The Studio I’d bring over Dozer and put them on with someone more local like Unearthly Trance or maybe Solace. Awesome. Just don’t ask me how I’d pay for it.

By the time I was inside, The Gates of Slumber were nearly done with what I hope was the first song they played. I checked the merch area for copies of their older Sir.albums, 2004’s The Awakening and 2006’s Suffer No Guilt, to no avail. Though 2008’s Conqueror didn’t do much for me in terms of repeat listens, my understanding was such that the two that came before were the way to go. Has yet to be seen (or heard, I suppose). In either case, the trio surprised the hell out of me by kicking all sorts of unholy trad doom ass on material both new and old, highlighting Conqueror cuts like “Trapped in the Web” while simultaneously promoting their forthcoming Rise Above debut, Hyms of Blood and Thunder (split your lungs therein). Skulleted guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon pulled emotive solo notes to new song “Descent into Madness” shortly after saying how glad he was people had come down to the show because he didn’t think anyone would show up, and if I wasn’t a fan before, I certainly was one by the time they were done with “The Ice Worm’s Lair.”

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Something to Look Forward to from The Brought Low

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 7th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Grabbed this one from the news section and figured I’d put it here in case anyone didn’t see it there. Okay, basically it’s an excuse to put up a Brought Low video. Sue me. These guys rule. Can’t wait to hear the obligatory slow jam.

In case you forgot, they’ve got two new songs on their MySpace. Go get ’em.

KVLT!Loading in to Andrew Schneider‘s studio this afternoon to begin setting up and getting sounds for Brought Low record numero tres basics recording.

70`s Les Paul with Super Distortion pickups? Check. Goldtop with P90s? Check. Telecaster? Check. Buncha funky pedals Bob makes fun of that probably won`t get used that much? Check. Vintage wood drumkit? Check. Ibuprofen? Check. Ford F150? Check. Tones? For days, brah.

Am psyched. Started in theory as our acoustic Zeppelin 3 then wrote a bunch of fast punk rock songs and then slowed it down and got more riffey. A little something for everyone plus the obligitory slow jam.

Should be fun. Will post updates as magic happens.

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Midnite Snake Strike in the Early Afternoon

Posted in Buried Treasure on July 24th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

This is the place.Though anytime I’m standing on the island of Manhattan, my mind automatically maps out the best possible route to Generation Records, the conditions that had me there yesterday — those being a day in the city with The Patient Mrs., as though an afternoon with my grumpy, lumbering ass is some kind of reward or break for her — prohibited it. A compromise in my head was a quick stop at Academy on 18th St., which I have it on good (and confidential) authority is where Spin sells their unwanted promos. I was hoping to catch an advance copy of that Six Organs of Admittance record I found out about the other night, and thankfully, she acquiesced.

No such luck on the Six Organs, but the thing about Academy is there’s always something in there, and apart from rarities, it’s all priced used. They’ve reorganized somewhat, splitting their CDs by genre in addition to alphabet, which is probably a good move in the long run if more of a pain in the ass to maintain. Flipping through the wares, I picked up the Neurot reissue of Tribes of Neurot‘s Adaptation and Survival insect experiment, the fancypants edition of the last Opeth record, which, boring though it was once past its novelty, is still Opeth, Prometheus by Emperor, and an accidental second copy of Dopesmoker. It’s the Music Cartel issue of Jerusalem I wanted. This was the Tee Pee This is the album.digipak, which I already own. Easy mistake. Honestly I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before and wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again. Damn Sleep for being so desirable.

More of a surprise, however, was a brand new, still wrapped copy of Shaving the Angel by Midnite Snake on Birdman Records, which I’ve been eying over that the All That is Heavy webstore for some time now — and not just for the mammary-inclusive cover art, provocative though it is. The Pittsburgh instrumental trio play a San Franciscan freak rock that’s downright abrasive at times and alternates between tripping balls psychedelia and speed-fueled riffing. Oh yeah, then they have “Supermodifed,” which is a 25-minute cycle through what I can only assume is an avant stoner interpretation of how Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory might have turned out had Charlie gone to Slugworth‘s instead. Whether you’re putting a “d” or a “v” in between your “hea” and your “y,” you’re right.

I probably wouldn’t have bought it had I not encountered it in person, or at least not until I purchased every other wish list entry and impulse buy (which might as well be never at this rate), so for me, Midnite Snake was the find of the day. I’m pretty sure I won’t listen to it on repeat for the rest of my life, but when they finally show up to film that? remake of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in my living room, I’ve got the soundtrack cued up and ready to go, and finding it only caused the slightest blemish on the whole “time together” thing. Everyone wins.

This is the band.

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Moth Eater to Play First Show in NYC

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 26th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

You have to wonder where they found such a colorful wall.And that’s not just their first NYC show, it’s their first show ever, which just happens to be in NYC. If you missed it, Moth Eater were interviewed here a little while back. They’ve since gotten a singer and have begun the grand process of playing out. Good stuff, here’s the info:

June 5
Great Jones Street
New York Rock City
10:00 PM
$10 To Enter
21 & Over (Get A Fake ID)
Bring Your Drinking Shoes — It’s Going To Be? A Party

Exclusive Merch — ONLY 50 Shirts Made To Celebrate This Event

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