Posted in Features on October 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
10.23.14 — 4:47PM Central Time — Thursday afternoon — Reggie’s upstairs balcony, Chicago, Illinois
“You guys are dorks.” — Jim Pitts, in response to copious whistling of Peter Frampton’s “Show Me the Way”
Rolled into Reggie’s a couple minutes ago, a lot of handshaking, smiles and how-ya-doins. A lot of these guys kept in touch after the spring tour, so there’s already a familiarity to the proceedings, at least between the Pentagram camp and the Kings Destroy guys — Radio Moscow isn’t here yet but I’m sure they’ll be along — though I also met Bang and they seem like friendly cats. There’s a kind of happy-anxiousness in the room, but Reggie’s is a cool space, and there’s a balcony, so I’ve more or less already planted here while Pentagram does a soundcheck.
Got into (Walt) Clyde, Ohio, in time last night to watch the end of the second game of the World Series. Guys had beers and whatnot, and as there are some tough drives ahead, it was good to crash out relatively early and get up this morning, hit the road leisurely and finish the drive to Chicago. A couple bathroom breaks, a lot of gags in the van, gas station coffee — and, in Rob’s case, gas station hard-boiled eggs — and we still got into town early. I’ve never actually been in Chicago before, just driven through on the highway, which cuts into the city but above the streets. It’s the kind of place you’d have to spend years in to feel like you’d know it, like any city, but at least I can say I’ve been here at this point and not feel like I’m exaggerating.
Because it’s a band traveling, a trip to Chicago’s famous heavy metal burger joint, Kuma’s Corner, was in order for lunch. I had the Kuma Burger, which I guess is the house standard — essentially a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg on top — and a salad on the side. There were a bunch of burgers named after bands, which is kind of their thing. Aaron had the High on Fire. Had peppers on it and I don’t know what else. Jim Pitts bought a sweatshirt. The place played Pentagram and Weedeater over the P.A. after a bunch of grindcore and black metal. Cool vibe with some vinyl on a rack, Chicago represented by Minsk, Indian and so on. I dug it, and if you’re ever going to be in a burger coma, Weedeater’s God Luck and Good Speed isn’t a bad way to go.
It was countered in the van by Tony Orlando and Dawn, Cheap Trick power ballads, Frampton, and “Dream Weaver.” Take that, heavy metal. We found Sean and Greg from Pentagram playing basketball in the alley behind the venue when we pulled in, but they and Victor Griffin have started soundchecking now. Bobby Liebling is around here somewhere, he’s been back and forth. I think everybody’s ready to get the tour started, or maybe that’s just me projecting. Either way, I’m glad to be here.
Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ll make no attempt to hide my appreciation for Ohio’s Lo-Pan, who over the last six years or so have emerged to take a place among the hardest-working American heavy rock bands out there, slogging back and forth across the country to deliver their fuzz one town, one venue at a time, but the fact of the matter is that if they didn’t have the songwriting to match their work ethic, they wouldn’t have come as far as they have. Plenty of bands tour, and even more bands kick ass. Lo-Pan distinguish themselves not only by what they do, but how they’ve done it and what they’ve gained from it. Since their 2007 sophomore outing, Sasquanaut, which was reissued as their first release on Small Stone in 2010 (review here), the four-piece of guitarist Brian Fristoe, vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz have essentially been grinding themselves down to their essential parts. If one examines the progression from their 2006 self-titled debut through Sasquanaut, the subsequent 2011 full-length Salvador (review here) and their latest, the newly arrived Colossus, the path cut across these records is pretty clear, Lo-Pan moving from a relatively upbeat stoner rock sound to something much more focused, leaner, meaner sounding. Colossus, which at 10 tracks/43 minutes shaves a song and three minutes off Salvador‘s runtime, is their most pointed work yet. Their road time has made them tighter than they’ve ever sounded, and an Andrew Schneider production helps play up a more aggressive feel overall. They are not laying back on Fristoe‘s riffs so much as propelling them forward at the listener, and while pace varies throughout, the overarching whole of Colossus – named in honor of the Colossus of Rhodes, marking a triumph, perhaps simply of the band having come out of the last several years intact — has a breakneck feel and urgency that comes through even more than it did on Salvador, which when this decade is over I’ve no doubt will go down among its best heavy rock albums.
There’s continuity of structure between the two, and Lo-Pan‘s penchant for hooks remains strong, but opener “Regulus” signals the immediacy of Colossus quickly, shifting from the first verse into the chorus all within the first 30 seconds. Like Salvador‘s “El Dorado,” “Regulus” begins an opening salvo of four songs that boasts some of the album’s strongest material, its five minutes gone in breeze and rushing into the tighter, faster “Land of the Blind,” which is marked by a standout performance from Martin in its hook. Lo-Pan‘s singer has never skimped on soul or attitude either on record or from behind the drum kit on stage, but Colossus easily stands as his best recorded output in the band, and the graceful but forceful layering in “Land of the Blind” is among his most effective called-shots here; I’d also add the later call-and-response of “Relo,” “Marathon Man” and the commanding sway of “Eastern Seas” to that list, but it’s true elsewhere as well. Likewise, Bartz, Thompson and Fristoe have stepped up their game, drums picking up the start of “Black Top Revelation” from the end of “Land of the Blind,” a winding riff taking hold as Colossus‘ momentum continues to build. To call the album front-loaded would presume a dip in quality, but no question Lo-Pan bring Colossus up to full speed before throttling back as they did on Salvador‘s “Bird of Prey” with the six-and-a-half-minute “Marathon Man,” which fittingly enough begins with a vehicle — presumably their tour van, but I don’t know that — revving its worn-sounding engine before Fristoe‘s shuffling riff takes hold and the band remind that though the focus has been on push up to now, they still know how to boogie. After four minutes in and satisfying verse/chorus tradeoffs, there’s a turn to a bridge instrumentally that Martin ties to the original chorus well, his layering once again providing a highlight moment with this revamped hook and a play off the initial verse part. Before you can catch up to what just happened with “Marathon Man,” though, Bartz launches “N.P.D.” with another forward surge that slams Colossus‘ first half to a raucous but still controlled finish.
If there were any doubts about Lo-Pan‘s confidence or the cohesiveness of their approach, let the knock-you-on-your-ass crispness within the delivery of “N.P.D.” be testimony in their favor. But for the fact that it closes side A, it feels like an afterthought movement following “Marathon Man,” and on most albums it would be an apex. The title-track begins the second half and is a song that Lo-Pan have played live for the last couple years — “Eastern Seas” still to come is another — sounding more reminiscent of the last time out than most of Colossus, though both Thompson‘s place in the mix and the fluidity of Martin‘s integration with the music behind him mark its progress. That’s not to mention Schneider‘s treatment of Bartz‘s snare; as a producer/engineer, the Brooklyn-based Schneider has consistently delivered excellence in drum sounds and Colossus is no exception. Side B feels thicker between “Colossus,” “Vox” and “Eastern Seas,” less of a thrust, but the hooks are still there, and “Vox” delivers in that regard both vocally and in its riff and crash, Martin‘s voice echoing in an open space and Black Black Black‘s Jason Alexander Byers (who also contributed the cover art) coming in for a guest spot later in the track. There’s a ringing sound I can’t quite make out that coincides with the drum roll at the start of “Eastern Seas,” but the song’s prevailing impression is in its more languid rhythm — its first part is the slowest in tempo but still mid-paced by most standards — and bigger groove, Martin still in whatever cave he recorded “Vox.” “Eastern Seas” splits almost evenly in half,everyone else dropping out as Fristoe‘s guitar establishes the riff and then kicking back in soon with a faster pace, vocals layered, Thompson getting a turn to stand alone as they push into a secondary hook and through to repetition of the line “Straight on till morning.” It feels like the end of the album, but isn’t. As “N.P.D.” jumped into action after “Marathon Man,” so does “Relo” punch into gear after “Eastern Seas,” though “Relo” is the more memorable of the two — “N.P.D.” and “Relo” share a 2:28 runtime, if you’d like another reason for the comparison — marked out by Fristoe‘s lead-as-rhythm in the verse and the aforementioned call and response near the end, the uptick in pace effective after “Eastern Seas”‘ slowdown in reinforcing the dynamic within Lo-Pan‘s sound at this point in their tenure.
Another likewise vague sample is inserted at the beginning of closer “The Duke,” which caps Colossus like a victory lap, underscoring much of what has made the album work — the meaner push, Martin‘s accomplished layering, the across-the-board energetic delivery, their attacking the beat — but is distinguished from the rest of the collection by the solo Fristoe takes beginning at 2:37, which comes to the head of the mix almost to the point of abrasiveness and wails over a steady rhythm from Bartz and Thompson, who return about a minute later with Martin to round out with a last hook and crashing end. That solo in particular seems to have been residing in Lo-Pan‘s pocket the whole time; in the context of Colossus as a whole, they seem to have saved it for last. And fair enough — it’s as raging a finish as Colossus in its entirety calls for. Perhaps because so much of the album moves, and moves fast, and shoves the listener along its course, and perhaps because four records deep, Lo-Pan show few signs of stagnating creatively, Colossus feels less like a destination than another point along the way. It’s their tightest, tensest outing, but in scrutinizing it on those terms, one can hear the potential for them to move further on the line of their progression, to continue to dig toward the heart of what it is they’re trying to convey. Still, it’s an album that changes who they are as a band and stands as their most refined, precise collection to date. It captures them at a different moment than did Salvador — one can see that even in the sharpened edges of the logo that appears on the album cover — but showcases a forward step in a pursuit that seems thus far unrelenting. I’ve said before that I consider them one of the finest currently active heavy rock acts in the US, and Colossus only strengthens that opinion.
Posted in audiObelisk on September 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re looking for Lo-Pan, they’re on tour. That’s where you’ll usually find the Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers. They’ve spent the better part of the last five years kicking up dirt across this fair land in pursuit of riffy glory, and the time and effort have paid off. Their new album, Colossus — their fourth overall and second for Small Stone Records – finds them a tighter and more efficient-sounding unit than they’ve ever been, and where their last full-length, 2011’s Salvador(review here), was a pinnacle for their songwriting’s blend of fluid groove, soulful vocals and memorable tracks, Colossusreaps the reward of all that touring in pushing Lo-Pan‘s methods even further.
So it’s a meaner, more precise Lo-Pan this time around — the band is still comprised of vocalist Jeff Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz – but they’re also branching out in terms of what their songs do. That will probably make no sense until you listen to “Vox” below. Lo-Pan have done big songs before, but “Vox” gives a spacious feeling in Martin‘s echoing voice that’s genuinely new for them — not to mention a guest spot near the end from Black Black Black‘s Jason Alexander Byers (also ex-Disengage) — and they blend it well with Fristoe‘s smooth-running riffs, Thompson‘s viscous but always moving basslines and the ever-raucous stomp from Bartz. In its hook, and in its subtle — and not so subtle — rhythmic shifts, “Vox” emphasizes a lot of the progression in Lo-Pan‘s approach, and less surprisingly, kicks a good deal of ass along the way.
Please find “Vox” on the player below, prepare yourself to spend the rest of the day listening to it on repeat, and enjoy:
Lo-Pan recorded Colossus with Andrew Schneider at Translator Audio in Brooklyn and will release the album Oct. 7 on Small Stone Records. Cover art is by Jason Alexander Byers. Lo-Pan have been on tour with Black Cobra since Aug. 28. Remaining dates for the run are as follows:
LO-PAN w/ Black Cobra: 9/04/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA 9/05/2014 Handlebar – Pensacola, FL 9/06/2014 Orpheum – Tampa, FL 9/07/2014 Gramps – Miami, FL 9/08/2014 Back Booth – Orlando, FL 9/09/2014 529 – Atlanta, GA 9/10/2014 The Mothlight – Asheville, NC 9/11/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC 9/12/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA 9/13/2014 The Metro – Baltimore, MD 9/14/2014 Dusk – Providence, RI 9/15/2014 Nectars – Burlington, VT 9/16/2014 TT The Bears – Boston, MA 9/17/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA 9/18/2014 Saint Vitus – New York, NY 9/19/2014 Lost Horizon – Syracuse, NY 9/20/2014 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY 9/21/2014 The Outpost – Kent, OH * 9/22/2014 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA 9/23/2014 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL 9/24/2014 7th St Entry – Minneapolis, MN 9/26/2014 Replay – Lawrence, KS 9/27/2014 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO 9/28/2014 Burt’s Tiki Bar – Salt Lake City, UT 9/29/2014 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV 9/30/2014 The Alley – Sparks, NV 10/01/2014 The Garage – Ventura, CA 10/02/2014 New Parish – Oakland, CA 10/04/2014 Downtown Lounge – Tulsa, OK * *LO-PAN headlining date/No Black Cobra
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
So, get this. In the span of eight days — just over a week’s time — Ohio trio Valley of the Sun will get to play Desertfest Belgium, share the stage with the likes of Conan, Monkey3and Mars Red Sky, and then go play the Keep it Low festival in Munich. I’m sure the rest of the tour — which is their second run in Europe this year, by the way — will be awesome as well, but that’s a hard stretch to beat right there. Think of it in terms of “good weeks you’ve had,” and I think you’ll probably see what I mean.
Cool times for the Cincinnati three-piece after issuing their Fuzzorama Records debut LP, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk(review here), in Europe at the start of the year and in the US over the summer. After a somewhat lengthy process getting the album into public hands and ears, all the better that they get to enjoy the fruits of their labors (which, incidentally are just more labor, but awesome labor).
Dates as follow:
VALLEY OF THE SUN TO EUROPE AGAIN!!!
WE promised you an update with tourdates for the hardhitting OHIO trio, here you go! The band promise some new merch so don’t miss the shows ;)
Alright hard rockers, got a list of tour dates and links for you. Some off dates are still in the works so keep checking for updates, but here’s what’s on the books so far:
10.10.14 Antwerp, BE Desert Fest 11.10.14 Oelsnitz, GE Ragga 12.10.14 Berlin, GE Bassy Club with Mars Red Sky 13.10.14 Hamburg, GE Hafenklang with Conan 14.10.14 TBD 15.10.14 Jena, GE Kulturbahnhof with monkey3 16.10.14 Cologne, GE Sonic Ballroom 17.10.14 Frankfurt, GE Sky High Festival 18.10.14 Munich, GE Keep It Low – Festival (afternoon set) 18.10.14 Siegen, GE VORTEX Musikclub (evening set) 19.10.14 TBD 20.10.14 TBD 21.10.14 Pratteln, CH Z7 with Monkey3 22.10.14 Karlsruhe, GE Alte Hackerei with Monkey3 23.10.14 Lucerne, CH The Bruch Brothers 24.10.14 Innsbruck, AUS TBD 25.10.14 Brescia, ITA Latteria 26.10.14 TBD 27.10.14 Strasbourg, FR Mudd MuddClub 28.10.14 TBD 29.10.14 Dresden, GE Ost Pol 30.10.14 Cottbus, GE Blue Moon Festival 31.10.14 TBD 01.11.14 Munster, GE Rare guitar
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I gotta say, of the several band bios I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to write over the last couple years — for Neurosis, for Conan, for Wo Fat, etc. — the one below for Lo-Pan‘s upcoming fourth album, Colossus, was among the easiest. It required little flourish, as the band’s accomplishments since the release of 2011’s Salvador (review here) speak for themselves, and the record itself is so direct and driving, that to pepper the piece with a bunch of extra descriptors or grandiose language would immediately be overdoing it. And one doesn’t want to overdo it.
Last Friday evening, Lo-Pan announced they’d be supporting Black Cobra for a month on the road ahead of Colossus‘ Oct. 7 release on Small Stone, and you’ll find those dates under the bio below, which I’ll keep in PR wire blue even though it’s my byline, just for form’s sake:
Lo-Pan, Colossus bio:
Lo-Pan’s fourth album, Colossus, is named for the Colossus of Rhodes – a 96-foot statue constructed in 280 BC to mark a failed siege and the indomitable nature of the city of Rhodes itself. No surprise it’s the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece’s most personal album yet and a testament to their growth and survival, as a band and as human beings.
Three years on from their third record, Salvador, Lo-Pan have logged countless miles, crossing the country multiple times over on headlining tours and supporting the likes of Torche, High on Fire, KENmode, Whores, Fu Manchu and Weedeater. They’ve become one of the most ferocious live acts in American heavy rock, and Colossus stands tall to reap the rewards of their experience.
For the first time in nearly a decade together, Lo-Pan knew exactly what they wanted when they hit the studio. They’d road-tested songs like “Eastern Seas” and “Colossus” for over a year, and partnering with producer/engineer Andrew Schneider at his Translator Audio studio in Brooklyn just days after headlining Small Stone showcases in that city and Boston this March, they belted out songs that show just how much they’ve moved beyond their influences and arrived at their own sound – a style built on aggression without caricature, fuzz without cliché, melody without redundancy and their meanest groove to date.
Completed with a cover courtesy of Jason Alexander Byers (ex-Disengage, Black Black Black), Colossus will be supported by numerous tours including a full US stint this fall alongside fellow road dogs Black Cobra and much more to come. Like its namesake, Colossus was built in defiance of gods and men, and while Lo-Pan’s loudest statement has always been made on stage, the material they craft and the power with which they execute it on this album is bound to stand for years to come.
BLACK COBRA US Tour w/ Lo Pan: 8/28/2014 Club Red – Phoenix, AZ 8/29/2014 Sister – Albuquerque, NM 8/30/2014 Conservatory – Oklahoma City, OK 8/31/2014 Doublewide – Dallas, TX 9/02/2014 Red 7 – Austin, TX 9/03/2014 Fitzgeralds – Houston, TX 9/04/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA 9/05/2014 Handlebar – Pensacola, FL 9/06/2014 Orpheum – Tampa, FL 9/07/2014 Gramps – Miami, FL 9/08/2014 Back Booth – Orlando, FL 9/09/2014 529 – Atlanta, GA 9/10/2014 The Mothlight – Asheville, NC 9/11/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC 9/12/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA 9/13/2014 The Pinch – Washington, DC 9/14/2014 Dusk – Providence, RI 9/15/2014 Nectars – Burlington, VT 9/16/2014 TT The Bears – Boston, MA 9/17/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA 9/18/2014 Saint Vitus – New York, NY 9/19/2014 Lost Horizon – Syracuse, NY 9/20/2014 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY 9/22/2014 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA 9/23/2014 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL 9/24/2014 7th St Entry – Minneapolis, MN 9/26/2014 Replay – Lawrence, KS 9/27/2014 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO 9/28/2014 Burt’s Tiki Bar – Salt Lake City, UT 9/29/2014 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV 10/01/2014 The Garage – Ventura, CA 10/02/2014 New Parish – Oakland, CA
I’ve spent probably an inordinate amount of time these last couple months living vicariously through YouTube clips of the Spirit Caravan reunion. I didn’t get to see the reformed trio during their US run — I expect if they do more dates, I’ll travel to wherever they happen to be that’s closest, be it Rhode Island or New York or wherever — and they’re on the road now in Europe, having first gone over to perform at Desertfest in London and Berlin before starting the US tour with Pilgrim opening, so maybe they’ll come back and do more, maybe not. I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic about it.
In the meantime, there’s no shortage of video documentation of the US tour to wade through. This week’s Wino Wednesday clip was recorded video and audio by Michael “Lucifer Burns” Lindenauer, and it’s the full Spirit Caravan set, more than an hour long, from Columbus, Ohio, at Skully’s Music Diner, from April 9. Pretty much any classic you could ask for — from “Fang” to “Cosmic Artifact” to “Brainwashed” — they’re all in there, and the three-piece of Wino, bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Henry Vasquez were air tight by then, just six days before the tour wrapped at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn.
Spirit Caravan play this weekend at Hellfest in Clisson, France. On Sunday, June 22, they play The Valley stage with Unida and a slew of enviable others. I’m sure I’ll be looking out for video of that too when the time comes. Until then, and without knowing how long the Spirit Caravan reunion is going to go, if it’s going to result in a new batch of songs or just sort of wrap up and dissipate, I’m glad to have videos like this one to tide me over. Hope you enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:
Spirit Caravan, Full Set at Skully’s Music Diner, Columbus, Ohio, April 9, 2014
These are a little later than I’d prefer, but if I ran everything on time around here as much as I wanted to, it would probably take me 24 hours a day. Sometimes you have to go to the post office, or to The Patient Mrs.‘ workplace to scam free printer paper. I’m just saying things come up that can alter the course of your planned afternoon. One can either be flexible or go insane.
So, better (perpetually) late than never, and I hope you’ll agree with me that this stuff was worth waiting for.
Adds for June 17, 2014:
Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket, In a Dutch Haze
Behold the megajam: The jam that launched a thousand jams, and insert further hyperbole here, because this one earns it. At Roadburn 2012, the illustrious lineup of J. Mascis (Witch, Dinosaur Jr.) and his Heavy Blanket bandmate Graham Clise (also Witch and Lecherous Gaze) joined forces with Earthless‘ rhythm section, bassist Mike Egington and drummer Mario Rubalcalba for a one-time-only, off-the-cuff instrumental jam that has since become the stuff of legend. Yes, a legend two years later. Now dubbed “Paradise in a Purple Sky,” that hour-long one-track excursion into pure heavy psychedelic bliss is available as Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket‘s In a Dutch Haze, and the vibe is less that of a live album than a historical document. Call it lightning in a bottle, call it any other cliche you might want, but chances are In a Dutch Hazeis going to be the best live release you hear this year, and if the echoing intertwining guitar solos and unhindered thudding groove — immaculately captured by Marcel van de Vondervoort — aren’t enough to stir your soul and drive you to creation, then I’ve got nothing for you. This is heavy psych at its most vibrant and righteous. Burning World Records, Outer Battery Records.
Thine, The Dead City Blueprint
The Dead City Blueprint (out on PeacevilleRecords) is actually the third full-length from UK-based Thine, but it’s also their first since 2002, so the feel winds up somewhat like a debut anyway. What happened in the interim? Well, drummer Dan Mullins from the two-guitar five-piece has doubled in My Dying Bride since 2006, so that could at least partially explain the delay. Whatever else may have caused the stoppage, Thine make up for the years with 10 deep explorations of dark, melancholic rock. “Out of Your Mind and into a Void” is almost singularly indebted to Damnation-era Opeth, and opener “Brave Young Assassin” finds Thine somewhere between a less keyboarded Katatonia and a more active version of Anathema at their moodiest, but “The Precipice” provides an early peak to The Dead City Blueprintwith a surprise reinterpretation of NWOBHM guitar intricacy and wonderfully arranged vocals from Alan Gaunt, whose performance takes the piece to someplace entirely the band’s own. Winding, airy lead lines in “The Rift” will be a dogwhistle to those in the know, but the piano-inclusive apex of “Scars from Limbo” and ambient finale “Adrift through the Arcane Isles of Recovery” speak to an individuality in development, and if Thine get a follow-up out sometime before 2026, I wouldn’t be surprised to find them grown further into their style. Thine on Thee Facebooks, Peaceville Records.
Dwellers, Live at Bar Deluxe 29-04-2014
As the title hints, Live at Bar Deluxe 29-04-2014 is a new live release from Salt Lake City heavy rockers Dwellers, recorded in their hometown at the end of April. That puts it prior to the street date for their second album, Pagan Fruit (review here), but two cuts from that — “Rare Eagle” and “Totem Crawler” — make appearances anyway alongside highlights drawn from the first Dwellers offering, 2012’s Good Morning Harakiri (review here). Both those records were on Small Stone, but this 34-minute set is a self-release free download, essentially a band-endorsed bootleg to be spread around. The audio quality is definitely in the “audience recording” vein, but clear enough to let the spaciousness of “Old Honey” sink in as it flows out of “Ode to Inversion Layer,” and as this is as close as I’ve yet come to seeing Dwellers – the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis – live, I’m more than inclined to take it. Hearing Toscano nail the chorus to “Totem Crawler” as well as he does here only emphasizes how much I need to catch a gig sooner rather than later. Maybe it’s a fan piece, but screw it, I’m a fan. Dwellers on Thee Facebooks, Dwellers on Bandcamp.
Fever Dog, “Iroquois”
Just a quick look from these jammy Palm Desert youngsters at what their forthcoming sophomore full-length, Second Wind, will hold, but “Iroquois” bodes well, and in its two-minute span one can hear space rock ideals beginning to make themselves felt amidst a still tonally weighted push, the band’s confidence emerging as their sound continues to expand. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/thereminist Danny Graham, bassist/noisemaker Nathan Wood and drummer Joshua Adams (also synth), Fever Dog show they have a clear dedication to being more than a heavy rock band, and as brief as “Iroquois” is, the immediateness with which it enacts a vibe puts Second Wind on my list of most anticipated albums for the second half of this year. Lot of potential for the desert’s next generation. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.
Electric Lucifer, Coming to the Mountain
Not to be confused with Cincinnati’s Electric Citizen, Cleveland-based triple-guitar stoner rollers Electric Lucifer get down to some post-Electric Wizard idolatry on their Dec. 2013 Coming to the Mountain three-track EP. The nod is central and effective, and with three guitars at work, riffing is obviously half the point, though the leads mesh naturally with well-held grooves on “Electric Lucifer,” which leads off, and the subsequent “Phantoms from the Outer Rim” and “Red Wizard,” the last of which finds Electric Lucifer at their most blown-out, proffering stoner rock for stoner rockers with a clear passion for the tenets of the genre. There isn’t much fancy about it, but with a reemerging interest in straightforward Sabbath worship and a subsequent full-length released shortly after from Electric Lucifer, easy to think the five-piece would hit a nerve for heads already converted and looking to nod out. Electric Lucifer on Thee Facebooks, Electric Lucifer on Bandcamp.
Also added this week were releases by John Garcia and Swedish stoner punkers Lightsabres. For the full list of updates and more, check out The Obelisk Radio updates page.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Touring is imminent for Heavy Glow in support of their new album, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine. And by “imminent,” I mean tomorrow. The Cleveland-born trio release their somewhat poppier and professionally constructed sophomore effort today and begin a run of shows tomorrow in San Diego that will take them through the Southwest and into the Midwest. They’ll head out with the CD and digital versions available, while the vinyl is still to come and expected early next month. Good food takes time.
The three-piece have made the entirety of Pearls and Swine and Everything Fineavailable for streaming in honor of the release. It’s down there under release announcement, so feel free to dig in:
NEW HEAVY GLOW ALBUM DROPS TODAY
‘Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine’ is out today!
Produced By Michael Patterson (Trent Reznor) And Nic Jodoin (BRMC) Available on iTunes and cd!
You can also pre-order vinyl on 180 gram (Available around July 7th**approximately)
Cleveland, OH, June 3, 2014 — The new Heavy Glow album titled, Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine, was recorded with producer team Michael Patterson and Nic Jodoin. The full album will stream on the band’s websitewww.heavyglowmusic.comall day today for fans.
Heavy Glow Tour Itinerary (all dates may be subject to change): Wednesday, June 4th at Soda Bar in San Diego, CA Thursday, June 5th at Rogue Bar in Scottsdale, AZ Friday, June 6th at Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, AZ Saturday, June 7th at Leftwoods in Amarillo, TX Sunday, June 8th at The Boiler Room in Dallas, TX Monday, June 9th at Record Bar in Kansas City, MO Tuesday, June 10th at Firebird in St. Louis, MO // CANCELED! Wednesday, June 11th Washington in Burlington, IA Friday, June 13th at Wisco in Madison, WI Saturday, June 14th at Elbo Room in Chicago
This week brings even more radio adds than I expected. I had kind of a hard time whittling it down to figure what I wanted to write about, to be honest with you, but we got there in the end, and I’m thrilled to have another batch of additions to the playlist for this week. Doing this seems to have quickly become a Friday ritual for me, and frankly, I can think of worse ways to spend the afternoon than listening to and writing about a bunch of records. Like just about everything else, for example.
Adds for May 30, 2014:
Iron Man, The Passage & Generation Void
Two brand new vinyl reissues from Shadow Kingdom Records. Digital promos are particularly useless in the case of badass LPs, and I’m pretty sure both of these albums by Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man, 1994’s sophomore outing, The Passage, and it’s 1999 follow-up, Generation Void, are already on the Radio playlist, but screw it, it’s Iron Man. If the chances of hearing an Iron Man song go up with each file added, then it’s worth tossing both of these records on the server. Generation Voidis a full-on lost classic of doom, and if you don’t already own it, I’d imagine the vinyl of The Passagejustifies picking it up based on the artwork alone. Either way, you’re never gonna lose when it comes to these guys, and Shadow Kingdom‘s loyalty in following up its CD reissues with LP versions is commendable. On Thee Facebooks, Shadow Kingdom website.
Electric Citizen, Sateen
Led by guitarist Ross Dolan and vocalist Laura Dolan, this Cincinnati four-piece traffic in high-order retro-minded Sabbathisms that keep in mind just how much boogie went along with all that darkness. To wit, the shuffle at the heart of the organ-laced “The Trap” and “Burning in Hell” or the push in the earlier “Magnetic Man.” Sateen, the band’s debut on RidingEasy Records, features riffs and leads heavily, and Laura‘s croon never strays from the forefront in delivering a barrage of hooks through the ’70s-worship production, but as with Sabbath themselves, the foundation of what Electric Citizen accomplish in these memorable, immediately familiar tracks is built on a foundation of rhythmic excellence in the bass and drums, here provided by Nick Vogelpohl and Nate Wagner, respectively. That organ ain’t half-bad either. The album arrives with no shortage of hype, but it’s a shockingly cohesive debut in style and performance, and the songwriting more than earns its way. On Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
Disenchanter, On through Portals
The Sept. 2013 Back to Earth demo from Portland, Oregon, doom-blues metallers Disenchanter has been sitting on my desk for an embarrassingly long time. That release is added to the playlist as well, but on the early-2014 follow-up, On through Portals, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Sabine Stangenberg, bassist Joey DeMartini and drummer Jay Erbe stretch out the form somewhat. Both arrive as EP-style releases, but On through Portals tops half-an-hour and executes a darkened psychedelic flow over its three extended tracks — “Journey to Abydos/Moon Maid” (12:15), “Invoke” (7:38), and “Into Darkness” (11:20) — so it could just as easily pass for a short album. Either way, the partial shift in aesthetic suits Disenchanter well, and what seems to have been in-process on their first demo comes closer to fruition here. Songs are patient and lumbering, but never boring, and Stangenberg‘s vocals layer effectively at the front of the mix to give the impression of a consummate frontwoman in the making. I won’t declare their development finished, but On through Portalsis a big and interesting step for Disenchanter to take. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Junior Bruce, The Nomad
Just two tracks on this latest release from Southern heavy rockers Junior Bruce. The Nomad is the second of two (to date) digital releases following Junior Bruce‘s 2012 debut full-length, The Headless King, and intended as a complement to last year’s TheBurden. Fair enough. Taken as such or on their own, The Nomad‘s two cuts, “The Promised Sleep” and “Nomad,” offer unpretentious heavy rolling groove from the Floridian five-piece fronted by Scott Angelacos and featuring bassist Tom Crowther, both also of Hollow Leg and formerly Bloodlet and Hope and Suicide. Molasses riffs from guitarists Nate Jones and Bryan Raymond and steady crash from drummer Jeff McAlear further distinguish “Nomad” in the Southern tradition, and the single/EP is twice as intriguing in the context of Hollow Leg‘s most recent recording, “God Eater” (discussed here), which moved in a more rocking direction as well. Itseems to work for both bands. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Anuseye, Essay on a Drunken Cloud
Cuts like “J R” and “Wrong Blues” take ’90s crunch and heavy rock vibes to heart, but where Italy’s Anuseye really distinguish themselves on their Vincebus Eruptum Recordings debut — other than with their somewhat unfortunate moniker — is in the weirdo jamminess of “Push Magic Button” or the psychedelic exploration of “Earthquake.” Essay on a Drunken Cloud boasts a few riffs and effects-laced stretches like that in “Cursed Pills” that might call to mind guitarist Luca Stero and vocalist/guitarist Claudio C.‘s and prior work together in That’s all Folks, but Anuseye has a personality of their own here, with bassist Michele V. and drummer Antonello C. keeping step with the strange vibes every step of the way. The balance shifts effectively between psych rock and noisy post-punk, but songs like “Demon Pulse” and the penultimate “S.S. Abyss” find an engaging and unexpected middle ground on which to make an impression. And then they do. For those days when you feel like you’re heard everything a riff can do, Essay on a Drunken Cloudmight just convince you there’s still territory to be discovered. On Thee Facebooks, at Vincebus Eruptum.
For the complete list of this week’s adds, click here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Neil Krug cover art for Ohio four-piece Electric Citizen‘s RidingEasy Records full-length debut has been revealed, and the July 1 release of the album is confirmed. Electric Citizen, who showed up ahead of the game in terms of getting their shit together, are currently on tour with Fu Manchu and the anticipation leading to Sateen coming out is palpable. I haven’t heard the record yet, but if their 2013 debut EP was anything to go by, it’s one to keep an eye out for this summer. Should be interesting as well to see the response after this tour.
For more, the PR wire checks in with the following:
Debut Album by ELECTRIC CITIZEN – Sateen LP (RidingEasy Records) Released 01/07/14
Following on from the premiere of ‘Burning In Hell’ on VICE’s Noisey earlier this year and limited edition releases on The Crossing and Breathe Plastic Records, the winners of this year’s Best Rock Band honour at the 2014 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards release their hotly tipped debut this July.
Formed just over a year ago by guitarist Ross Dolan, vocalist Laura Dolan, Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums) Electric Citizen have had a busy year turning heads and ears onto their dark and esoteric style of haunting and unhallowed ’60s West Coast rock, and decidedly British-influenced heavy psychedelia.
Like records by similarly late 60s/early ’70s-possessed anti-modernists Blood Ceremony, Wolf People and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, over nine tracks Sateen provides a blueprint for long term appreciation. Recorded and produced by fellow Ohioan and local stalwart Brian Olive (The Greenhornes, Soledad Brothers) the album draws on sounds synonymous with the roots of early ’70s proto-metal from groups such as Sir Lord Baltimore, Pentagram, Cream and the daemonic spirit of Amon Düül. Not to mention the comparisons it draws with the rock ‘n’ roll ceremony of forgotten acts like Frumpy and Shocking Blue when held up against the spellbinding light of high priestess Laura Dolan’s enigmatic voice and live presence.
From the cloudy and mystical swirl of ‘Hawk Nightingale’ to the shades of folk metal on ‘Shallow Water’, Electric Citizen pitch scholarly interpretations of the old guard in new and electrifying ways and not always from the vaults of forgotten masters. Take new single ‘Light Years Beyond’ with it’s swirling and ferocious concoction of guitars and drums or ‘Magnetic Man’ with its unabashed nod to Heart and classic Black Sabbath. Just a handful of many songs here that showcases just how good the band is at dropping sonic needles into the grooves of records that all serious rock ’n’ roll lovers hold dear.
After performing recent shows with Dead Meadow, Spirit Caravan and The Sword the band are currently on the road as official support to stoner rock Gods Fu Manchu on their North American tour.?? ‘Light Years Beyond’ is released on 20 May 2014 and paves the way for Sateen which will be officially released via RidingEasy Records on 1 July 2014.? The artwork for the album has been created by acclaimed artist Neil Krug who has previously worked with The Horrors, Lana Del Ray and Boards Of Canada).
Already tipped by some as one of the year’s most exciting debuts it marks the start of a promising journey for a band you need to hear.
Electric Citizen: Ross Dolan – Guitar Laura Dolan – Vocal Nick Vogelpohl – Bass Nate Wagner – Drums
Live Dates: 14 May – GROG SHOP, Cleveland, OH (w. Fu Manchu) 16 May – LEE’S PALACE, Toronto, ON (w. Fu Manchu) 17 May – CABARET MILE END, Montreal, QC (w. Fu Manchu) 19 May – MERCURY LOUNGE, New York, NY (w. Fu Manchu) 20 May – THE SINCLAIR, Boston, MA (w. Fu Manchu) 21 May – BARBARY, Philadelphia, PA (w. Fu Manchu) 23 May – ROCK & ROLL HOTEL, Washington, DC (w. Fu Manchu) 24 May – KINGS, Raleigh, NC (w. Fu Manchu) 25 May – EARL, Atlanta, GA (w. Fu Manchu) 27 May – RED 7, Austin, TX (w. Fu Manchu) 28 May – GAS MONKEY, Dallas, TX (w. Fu Manchu) 31 May – PUB ROCK LIVE, Mesa, AZ (w. Fu Manchu) 1 June – TBA, Albuquerque, NM 2 June – BLACK SHEEP, Colorado Springs, CO 3 June – RIOT ROOM, Kansas City, MO
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bit of confusion on my part here, since I thought Ohio trio Valley of the Sun released their Electric Talons of the ThunderhawkLP (review here) back at the end of January in time for their European tour with Fuzzorama label heads Truckfighters. That’s not counting the copies of the vinyl that went out prior to that to those who supported their (obviously successful) crowdfunding effort to make the recording happen. But between those two, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawkstill remains unreleased in the US, and as the PR wire informs, that’s a situation set to rectify on June 10. So far as I understand, it’ll still be on Fuzzorama Records, and while for a band as accomplished-sounding as Valley of the Sun it’s odd to think of it as such, this will still be their debut full-length release. So congratulations. Now go make another.
Here’s me quoting the PR wire quoting me:
VALLEY OF THE SUN to Release “Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk” June 10
U.S. Heavy Hitters Sign to Fuzzorama Records for Release of Highly Anticipated Debut LP
Cincinnati “Volume Rock” power trio VALLEY OF THE SUN will release its debut full length LP Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk on June 10 via Fuzzorama Records, the label owned and operated by Swedish rock band Truckfighters. Recorded at Nada Studios in New York, the album is the follow up to the band’s 2011 EP The Saying of the Seers, which led hard rock mecca The Obelisk to state, “there’s no question that Valley of the Sun are placing themselves at the forefront of the new generation of American heavy rock.” Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk is available for pre-order purchase now at this location.
Featuring 10 electric tracks of confident, concentrated heavy music that hits hard with downtuned riffing, stadium-sized hooks, powerful artistic muscle and the take charge roar of guitarist / front man Ryan Ferrier, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk positions VALLEY OF THE SUN as a buzz band to watch. Relentless road dogs that have shared stages worldwide with friends and peers such as Truckfighters, Priestess, The Sword, Karma to Burn and more, VALLEY OF THE SUN has distilled the vigor and vibrancy of its triumphant live performances to tape, perfectly capturing their epic tone, rhythm, talent and attention to dynamics on the new record.
“The new record shows how we’ve grown as a band over the last couple years,” said VALLEY OF THE SUN drummer Aaron Boyer. “It’s been a lot of fun writing, recording and playing live in support of it. We’re really excited for our fans to be able to pick it up soon and let us know what they think.”
Track listing: 1.) Worm Teeth 2.) As Earth and Moon 3.) Maya 4.) Nomads 5.) Laser Vision Intermission 6.) Within the Glare 7.) The Message Is Get Down 8.) The Sleeping Sand 9.) Gunslinger 10.) Centaur Rodeo
As it’s written on the album cover, the title of the new Heavy Glow record is Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine. Phonetically, I have no issue. With lists, traditional grammar constructs would have you put a comma, so it’s “pearls, swine and everything…” (the Oxford comma is a matter of a whole different debate, I use it situationally), but it’s obvious the Cleveland heavy rocking trio are toying with long-standing aphorisms, and the double “and” is playful. What gets me about it is the ampersand.
Not that they use it. I tend not to except in headlines if I’m feeling particularly saucy — it’s embarrassing how true that is — but I’m cool with Heavy Glow using it in their title, especially on an album cover where space is limited. What makes the lid on my editor’s eye twitch is the use of the ampersand and then the use of “and.” Basically they’re saying “and” twice, but doing it once with an ampersand and once with the actual word. These guys are a good band going by everything I’ve heard from them, and I’m not sure I can explain why it bothers me in a way that doesn’t immediately lead to some kind of self-diagnosis, but to have the ampersand there and then “and” itself, well, it’s got my nerves in a bundle.
All the better, I suppose, that the latest track from what I’ve just decided I’m going to call Pearls and Swine and Everything Fineis “Nerve Endings,” and that its catchy, classic rocking stomp will soothe the aching brain. Heavy Glow‘s new album is out on June 3, but they’re taking preorders now on their Bandcamp, and “Nerve Endings” is just the most recent reveal in a series that can be tracked through their YouTube channel.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The three years since Lo-Pan released their landmark third album, Salvador (review here), have gone quick, but more importantly, they’ve gone. Ohio’s heavy fuzz four-piece have done no shortage of touring since that record came out (also before), but the time has come for them to get back in the studio, which they’re slated to do next month to record what’s already been dubbed Colossus for a release later this year on Small Stone. True to form, they’re hitting the road for one last go beforehand, turning the two nights of Small Stone‘s Boston and Brooklyn showcases into a 10-date run to honor their newfound alliance with Tone Deaf Touring.
They’re partnered with Whores for that stint, which starts on March 20, and expect more on the release of Colossus in the months to come. Until then:
LO-PAN: Ohio Riff Rock Perpetrators Enter Studio Next Month; Band Unites With Tone Deaf Touring – Live Takeovers Announced
Ohio riff rock perpetrators LO-PAN, will enter Translator Audio in Brooklyn, New York next month to record their forthcoming new full-length for amplification station, Small Stone Recordings. Titled Colossus, the offering will be mixed and mastered by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, The Brought Low, Keelhaul) with art direction by Jason Alexander Byers (Black Black Black, Disengage). A Fall release is expected.
In related news, LO-PAN recently joined forces with the roadburning heavyweights at Tone Deaf Touring (Corrosion Of Conformity, Weedeater, ASG) and will embark upon a short stint of live abrasions later this month alongside manic noiserockers, Whores. The ten-date motorcade will include two special Small Stone Showcases in Cambridge and Brooklyn. The following month, the band will join reunited iconic stoner rock sorcerers, Spirit Caravan, and the wicked doom bringers in Pilgrim for a performance in Columbus with additional bouts of onstage debauchery to be announced in the coming months.
LO-PAN Spring Takeover 2014: 3/20/2014 The Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI w/ Whores 3/21/2014 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL w/ Whores 3/22/2014 Ruby’s – Columbus, OH Ruby’s w/ Fuck You Pay Me, White Wolves 3/23/2014 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH w/ Whores, Fuck You Pay Me 3/24/2014 The Union – Athens, OH w/ Whores, Horseburner 3/25/2014 Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Whores 3/26/2014 The Depot – York, PA w/ Neon Warship, Black Cowgirl, Witch Hazel 3/27/2014 The M Room – Philadelphia, PA w/ Neon Warship, Skeleton Hands 3/28/2014 Small Stone Showcase @ Middle East – Cambridge, MA w/ Roadsaw, Mellow Bravo, Gozu, Neon Warship 3/29/2014 Small Stone Showcase @ Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY w/ Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw, Neon Warship, Geezer 4/09/2014 Skully’s – Columbus, OH w/ Spirit Caravan, Pilgrim 4/17/2014 Pinned 4 – Columbus, OH w/ Neon Warship, Ride To Ruin, Beggers
Check out the revampedlopandemic.comwebsite for show updates, new merch and other LO-PAN-centric awesomeness.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fast-moving L.A. upstart imprint EasyRider Records continues a quick ascent since starting last year, this time signing Ohio retro rockers Electric Citizen for the release of their debut album, Sateen. The record is due out July 1, and the four-piece have a handful-plus of shows booked to precede it, some including the Mad Alchemy light show, which is sure to be a good match for Electric Citizen‘s heavy psychedelics.
Release info and a stream of the new track “Burning in Hell” follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:
Electric Citizen sign with EasyRider Records To Release Debut Album
EasyRider Records, the LA based label responsible for releases by the likes of Monolord, Sons of Huns and Salem’s Pot this week announced the signing of the heavy psychedelic outfit Electric Citizen.
Following on from limited edition vinyl/cassette-only releases on The Crossing and Breathe Plastic Records, the winners of this year’s Best Rock Band honor at the 2014 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards will release their debut album, entitled Sateen on 1 July 2014.
Taking their name from a song by the legendary Notting Hill Gate set the Edgar Broughton Band, Electric Citizen is the brainchild of guitarist Ross Dolan, enigmatic vocalist Laura Dolan, Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums).
Despite only forming last March the band has had a busy year turning heads and ears onto their dark and esoteric brand of haunting ’60s West Coast folk and quintessentially British sounding rock. Recorded and produced by fellow Ohioan and local legend Brian Olive (Greenhornes, Soledad Brothers) at The Diamonds, Electric Citizen follow in the footsteps of other, similarly 1970s obsessed anti-modernists Blood Ceremony, Wolf People, Graveyard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Drawing on influences and eras synonymous with the heaviest of heavy psychedelic rock and archaic ill vibes, and music by bands such as Shocking Blue, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Black Widow and Amon Düül II.
The band takes to the road over the next few months ahead of Sateen’s official release on 1 July 2014 via EasyRider Records (www.easyriderrecords.com).
Tour Dates: Wednesday, March 19 – Double Door (Chicago) w. Mad Alchemy Thursday, March 20 – Pyramid Scheme (Grand Rapids) w. Mad Alchemy Friday, March 21 – Corktown Tavern (Detroit) Saturday, March 22 – Happy Dog (Cleveland) Friday, April 4 – Northside Tavern (Cincinnati) w. Valley Of The Sun Wednesday, April 9 – w. Spirit Caravan (Columbus) Saturday, April 26 – Milwaukee Psych Fest Wednesday, May 7 – MOTR (Cincinnati) w. Aqua Nebula Oscillator
Posted in Reviews on February 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The central question that emerged from Valley of the Sun‘s 2011 second EP, The Sayings of the Seers (review here), was whether or not the Cincinnati three-piece could maintain the level of energy, of sonic movement, of professionalism in songwriting and production over the course of a full-length album and still offer enough variety to keep tracks from sounding redundant. Their cumbersomely-titled debut long-player, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, released through Fuzzorama Records — the imprint helmed by former and once again Valley of the Sun tourmates Truckfighters – answers that question with a simple yes. Yes, they can. And they do. After a successful crowdfunding campaign and an initial vinyl pressing for contributors, the trio show on the 10-track/44-minute outing that the support they received coming off of The Sayings of the Seerswas not misplaced, and that the crisp, cognizant and engaging presentation of that outing would serve as the foundation of an even bigger assemblage of ideas this time around. Recorded, mixed and mastered by John Naclerio (who also helmed the EP) at Nada Studios in New York, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawkis slick in its layers but expertly handled to craft a sense of space that guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier, bassist Ryan McAllister (who also handled the cover art and layout) and drummer Aaron Boyer work within throughout the songs. In its front-to-back flow and its individual pieces, it is as smooth and balanced an execution of heavy rock as you’re likely to hear. Valley of the Sun come across as tasteful but edgy, produced but natural and in cuts like “As Earth and Moon,” “Nomads,” “The Message is Get Down,” and “Centaur Rodeo,” they offer memorable, classy hooks that long outlast the album’s runtime.
Opener “Worn Teeth” begins at a half-echo blues before unfurling its full crunching breadth, but the central ideas around which Valley of the Sun seem to work are still based in desert rock. Kyuss are a central influence, and Ferrier seems to shift skillfully between the inflections of John Garcia and peak-era Chris Cornell — yes, that is a compliment — but both through their being a Midwestern act and via what seems to be their own creative will, Valley of the Sun present familiar riffing methods with their own take. Heads will find much recognizable as the easy roll of “Worn Teeth” kicks into the full-run of “As Earth and Moon,” but the momentum they build and the flow of Electric Talons of the Thunderhawkdelivers more than desert affectations. McAllister also shares a tenure in the rhythm section of Kentucky’s Moonbow with Hermano drummer Steve Earle, and some of Hermano‘s …Into the Exam Room seems to serve as a guide for how Valley of the Sun‘s debut plays out, whether it’s the funk-swinging starts and stops of “The Message is Get Down” or the push-to-apex groove of the penultimate “Gunslinger.” “The Sleeping Sand” would seem to pay shuffling homage to a desert landscape, but on side A, “Maya” and “Nomads” seem less geographically loyal, the former showing early richness in the bass while Ferrier‘s vocal clarity steps forward in the chorus as a defining element of the album. Like a lot of the record, the structure of “Maya” is straightforward, but as various layers of guitar rise up and drop out, as Boyer‘s thudding toms poke through the mix en route to the last chorus, there’s more than enough to keep the audience hooked for the duration of the two sides into which Electric Talons of the Thunderhawkis very much broken, the first ending with the two-minute acoustic “Laser Vision Intermission,” and the second starting with the fade-in rush of “Within the Glare.”