Enhailer to Release Dumb Enough to Care Dec. 11; Teaser Now Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enhailer

With a telling misanthropic sample culled from 1988’s Deadbeat at Dawn — ‘I hate people and I don’t fucking care,’ etc. — Akron, Ohio’s Enhailer unite once again with Blackseed Records, this time to release the single-song EP Dumb Enough to Care on Dec. 11. The track itself is something of a beast at 18 minutes long, but for all its professing to not give a shit, it also shows some considerable growth from where Enhailer were even just last year on their debut album, Grisaille. Whatever incongruity there might be between an anarcho-murder-spree point of view and a band willfully progressing their sound, the song is ridiculously heavy and lurches with revel-worthy glee, and could possibly portend of even harsher vibes to come.

There’s a teaser at the bottom of this post, along with the Bandcamp stream of Grisaille, should you want a refresher. Info follows from the PR wire:

enhailer dumb enough to care

Enhailer – Dumb Enough to Care – Blackseed Records

Blackseed once again teams up with Akron, Ohio’s Enhailer, offering an eighteen minute track via CD and cassette ‘Dumb Enough To Care’. It may seem a release this length would be considered short, but once your ears tune in, it serves up a delectable feast to entice hard doom lovers and progressive stoner rockers alike. This presents a darker, more abrasive Enhailer. Vocals added in just the right places give variance from their initial, almost fully instrumental debut.

‘Dumb Enough To Care’ is officially available as of Monday, December 11th, 2017. Enhailer will soon confirm its release party in their home town, as well as Pittsburgh, PA (the home of Blackseed Records) in early winter. Dumb Enough to Care Artwork by Fred Grabosky.

Enhailer is a “mid-paced, sludge, experimental, stoner, doom metal, progressive, misanthropic dirt rock” outfit based in Akron, Ohio. They’ve been together since 2014 and produced their first record, Grisaille (gri-sigh) in the summer of 2016. Filled with instrumental arrangements that simultaneously destroy and restore your faith in sonic healing, the band sold out of their self-produced debut CD in short order while playing out in a number cities with bands such as Goatwhore, Eyehategod, Black Breath, Lo-Pan, Childbite, Ringworm, Weedeater, and became a crowd favorite packing spots like Ralph’s (MA), The Grog Shop (OH), and the 31st Street Pub(PA).

Enhailer is: Mike Shea, Matt Snyder, Chadd Beverlin, and Michael Gilpatrick

https://www.facebook.com/enhailer/
https://enhailer.bandcamp.com/
http://www.blackseedrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/blackseedrecords

Enhailer, Dumb Enough to Care teaser video

Enhailer, Grisaille (2016)

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THAL Sign to Argonauta Records; Reach for the Dragon’s Eye Due in 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Ohio heavy rockers THAL, whose name is an acronym for The Heathens are Loose, are the latest pickup by Argonauta Records, which has been on an absolute international tear in the process of establishing its release schedule for 2018. Look for THAL‘s next long-player, Reach for the Dragon’s Eye to hit as a part of that swath alongside outings from ZOM, Supernaughty, Clamfight and Greyfell, among others.

For THAL, Reach for the Dragon’s Eye follows 2016’s Glitter, which you can stream at the bottom of this post, and will be their second full-length overall. The band also has a handful of digital singles and a name-your-price split with Hashishian that came out this past February, if you’re up for digging in.

Word came through the PR wire:

THAL

THAL sign to ARGONAUTA RECORDS

We’re excited to welcome to Argonauta Records family U.S. Heavy Rockers THAL.

THAL (The Heathens Are Loose) is a collaboration between John “Vince Green” Walker and Kevin Hartnell. THAL was originally Green’s solo effort, but while recording wytCHord’s 2016 debut album “Death Will Flee” (another band in which Vince and Kevin play with guitarist David Jones) he quickly realized that Kevin’s barbaric drumming and multi-instrumental abilities would make the next THAL album something special.

“Kevin is a very busy musician and in high demand, but I couldn’t not ask him to collaborate. I was really excited when he said yes.” says Green. Although they live two hours apart, they passed song ideas and sound files back and forth online for a year; almost daily as “Reach For The Dragon’s Eye” quickly took shape. The album is a true collaboration. “This album was inspired by a life changing event last fall and the subsequent personal journey as the world continued devolving around us. In other words, the heaviest material THAL has put to tape.”

THAL confronts the ugliness of daily life with a dose of pessimism processed through an esoteric filter. Stories of despair put to one hell of a riff.

About the label deal: “Argonauta is one of the finest providers of heavy music in the industry today. Every release is consistently great. We are honored to be given the opportunity to contribute to that legacy.”

THAL “Reach for the Dragon’s Eye” will be released in CD/DD during 2018, a huge album briefly described as the perfect blend between CLUTCH, DANZIG and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE.

http://www.facebook.com/thalheavyband
https://thal.bandcamp.com/
www.facebook.com/argonautarecords

THAL, Glitter (2016)

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Pale Grey Lore Self-Titled LP Due Dec. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

pale grey lore

I was a big fan of the self-titled first full-length from Ohio heavy rockers Pale Grey Lore (review here) when it was released last year by the band on their own. Enough so that I considered it one of 2016’s best debut albums, and I’ll happily stand by that a year after the fact. Right out of the gate, the Columbus natives showcased an ability to craft memorable songs that were about more than just their hooks, but still delivered those with righteous efficiency. Their material was tight, mature in a way that undercut the fact that it was their first album, and wholly unpretentious. There was, in short, a lot to like.

On Dec. 1, Kozmik Artifactz offshoot Oak Island Records will release Pale Grey Lore‘s Pale Grey Lore as a limited LP. The band has a release show booked in their hometown at The Spacebar and preorders are set to start soon. If you didn’t dig into the album when it came out last year, no time like the present to get caught up. You’ll find it streaming in full at the bottom of this post.

Dig:

pale-grey-lore-pale-grey-lore-lp

Originally released on CD and digital download in June of 2016, Pale Grey Lore’s self-titled debut album is slated for vinyl release on December 1st 2017 via German label Kozmik Artifactz’s imprint Oak Island Records. Featuring cover art by Joel Chastain, the album was recorded and engineered by Andy Sartain and mastered by Harold LaRue.

Melodic vocals and tasteful harmonies echo alongside thunderous drums, while fuzz-drenched reverberating guitars push demon-haunted vintage amplifiers to the brink. Spanning the genres of psych rock, doom metal, post-punk and drone pop, the album’s nine tracks are refreshingly diverse, yet part of a remarkably coherent whole that adds up to much more than the sum of its parts.
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The vinyl release party will take place on Friday December 1st at The Spacebar in Columbus Ohio and will feature special guests Matter of Planets (from Columbus) and Pillärs (from Cleveland).

https://www.facebook.com/palegreylore/
https://twitter.com/palegreylore
http://palegreylore.bigcartel.com/
http://palegreylore.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng

Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore (2016)

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Vessel of Light Premiere “Dead Flesh and Bones” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

vessel of light

Vessel of Light release their self-titled debut EP via Argonauta Records on Nov. 3. The six-song/21-minute offering is the first fruit borne of the collaboration between Ancient VVisdom frontman Nathan Opposition and Hades guitarist Dan Lorenzo, and as Lorenzo tells the tale below, it all started out innocently enough. A basic correspondence between two players respecting each other’s work has yielded tracks of deeply mood-fueled heavy doom rock, and finding songs like “Where My Garden Grows” and “Dead Flesh and Bones” working around murderous themes or the depressive fare offered throughout “Living Dead to the World” and the decidedly metallic “Descend into Death,” there’s a balance being struck across the songs that draws influence from the pasts of Lorenzo and Opposition alike.

Whether that comes through in the bluesy underpinning to the central riff of vessel of light vessel of light“Descend into Death” or the rolling doom that unfurls itself throughout “Meant to Be,” the consistent element tying the material together is the overarching grimness of spirit and the violent tendencies played out so vividly in the lyrics. Even the eponymous closing track, with its druggy focus and chorus, “LSD has got a hold of me,” and so on, has more than a small measure of threat behind its promise to “make your nightmares come true.” And certainly as that song proclaims in manipulated screams that the speaker is a vessel of light, one gets the sense that it’s way more a vessel of the post-Manson sense than one who might actually offer a level of peace. Unless, you know, you think of being murdered as peaceful.

Lyrics are a focus throughout Vessel of Light‘s Vessel of Light, so it seems only fitting that the duo should unveil the track “Dead Flesh and Bones” with a mind directed specifically toward them. The words may be about burying someone in the garden, but it’s also worth noting that the song is catchy as hell, and amid the red-tinted imagery and striking nature of brutalism, that aspect is not at all lost.

You can see the video below, followed by more info on the EP, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Vessel of Light, “Dead Flesh and Bones” lyric video

Dan Lorenzo (Hades, Non-Fiction, The Cursed) teamed up with Nathan Opposition (Ancient VVisdom) to form a musical project called Vessel Of Light. The duo entered Brainchild Studios in Cleveland to record their debut during Summer 2017. Lorenzo has issued the following update:

“I decided to write about the band in NJ’s Steppin’ Out magazine and I mailed Nathan Opposition (Ancient VVisdom’s singer) a magazine and I think an old Hades CD. We started communicating by email and then on the phone. I had no intentions of asking him to write with me because my musical career is long over. I’m considerably older than him and I honestly wasn’t playing guitar much, but when Nathan asked me if I wanted to write together I couldn’t say no.”

Nathan Opposition says, “Lorenzo and I became friends due to my inability to not be susceptible to flattery. Turns out he’s a really cool guy who writes awesome riffs too. Randomly one day I ask him about the band we are starting in joking fashion. I guess it was the right timing and the right person because we immediately agreed we should actually start a project. Before I knew it he was sending me CDs of riffs and I had lyrics flowing like a faucet.”

Vessel of Light on Thee Facebooks

Vessel of Light on Instagram

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records on Twitter

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Ancient VVisdom Sign to Argonauta; 33 out Oct. 13; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Just days after the announcement that frontman Nathan Opposition‘s new project, Vessel of Light, would make their debut this Fall on Argonauta Records comes word that Opposition‘s main outfit, the darkly, doomly and folkish Ancient VVisdom, have also aligned to the same imprint for the release of their impending fourth album, 33. The follow-up to 2014’s Sacrificial will also be out digitally through Magic Bullet Records and on vinyl through DHU Records, and there’s a quick glimpse of the band’s moody approach to be sampled as of today in the new track “Light of Lucifer,” which you can hear at the bottom of this post.

Opposition offers comment on the signing and the upcoming record below, via the PR wire. Dig it:

ancient vvisdom

US Occult Rockers ANCIENT VVISDOM inked a deal with ARGONAUTA Records to release their highly anticipated new album “33”, following their previous paths “A Godlike Inferno” (2011), “Deathlike” (2013) and “Sacrificial” (2014).

From the band, Nathan Opposition says: “Forging ahead, I have kept the all seeing eye on the fallen angel to keep my faith in his works. This album is a work made of worship songs to our Lord and Master Satan. The collective efforts of our unholy Trinity Lucifer, Satan and The Devil. In light of darker times, I find it necessary to express myself in a way that teaches on a higher level.”

On the record deal: “I’m very excited to release Ancient VVisdom’s 4th album “33” with 3 different amazing record labels! Argonauta Records in Italy for CD version, Magic Bullet Records out of Oceanside California doing our digital release, and DHU Records from the Netherlands is going to be doing some sick vinyl colors. It’s a collective. All excellent people, working hard to release underground and independent music. I’m a fan of many different artists and musicians, it’s quite rewarding to see everyone in an underground culture take the initiative and make things fucking happen for all of us, as fans of music and for the ones making music as well.

About the new album: “33 is a master number. It is also the age Christ was crucified. 33 is the age of the peak of existence. It is the age I am. 33 is the answer. I’ve been fortunate enough to do the devils work and continue to spread the message to the masses. This album is very important to us. It has symbolic meaning and melody that serves the words purposefully. My brother Michael and I are grateful and are pleased to give you “33”. This is our favorite offering to date and we hope you all enjoy it.”

The first single “Light of Lucifer” is out today and available here.

ANCIENT VVISDOM “33” will be released worldwide on CD edition by ARGONAUTA Records and available from October 13th, 2017. Preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2wPAOUV

TRACK-LIST:
1. Ascending eternally
2. Light of Lucifer
3. In The Name Of Satan
4. True Will
5. The Infernal One
6. Summoning Eternal Light
7. Rise Fallen Angel
8. 33
9. The Great Beast
10. Lux
11. Dispelling Darkness

https://www.facebook.com/AVVFB/
https://twitter.com/ancientvvisdom
https://www.instagram.com/officialancientvvisdom/
https://ancient-vvisdom.bandcamp.com/
http://bit.ly/2wPAOUV
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
argonautarecords.com

Ancient VVisdom, “Light of Lucifer”

Ancient VVisdom, Sacrificial (2014)

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Vessel of Light Debut EP Coming Nov. 3 on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Much like yours truly, Hades guitarist Dan Lorenzo is a Jersey boy with roots in print media. Hell yes I remember when he got together with Overkill vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth, bassist Jon ‘Job the Raver’ Nardachone from Murder 1 and his own former Non-Fiction bandmate, drummer Mike Christi, to form The Cursed and release their lone full-length, Room Full of Sinners, 10 years ago. Are you kidding? Hell, I still have the Evil, in the Bag demo! I saw them play at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan. It ruled. We’ve been in touch on and off for years and he’s always been a good dude and absolutely cordial — a pro through and through. That’s not something I’ll say about everybody.

As such, it’s cool to hear Lorenzo has a new project in the works, and doubly fascinating to learn it’s with Nathan Opposition of Ancient VVisdom. There’s no audio yet from Vessel of Light that’s been made public, but I feel like given the sonic histories of these two, their debut EP is among the least-predictable releases I can think of for the remainder of this year. It’s pretty wide open as to what the hell they might come up with together, but that’s cool by me. I’ll hope to get the chance to find out sometime ahead of the Nov. 3 issue date.

They’ve signed to Argonauta for the release, because that’s what you do, and the EP tracklisting and more background follow here, as per the PR wire:

vessel of light

We’re excited to announce we inked a deal with supergroup VESSEL OF LIGHT, formed by Dan Lorenzo (HADES, NON-FICTION, THE-CURSED) and Nathan Opposition (ANCIENT VVISDOM).

“For the last decade since I recorded The Cursed cd (with Bobby Blitz from Overkill)” Lorenzo said “I haven’t really felt the desire to jam music with anybody. I’ve had offers to join a few bands, but I’ve always considered myself more of a songwriter than a “real” musician. I never wanted to join somebody else’s band. A few months ago that all changed when I heard the songs “The Opposition” and “Deathlike” by the band Ancient VVISDOM.”

Nathan Opposition said: “Lorenzo and I became friends due to my inability to not be susceptible to flattery. Turns out he’s a really cool guy who writes awesome riffs too. Randomly one day I ask him about the band we are starting in joking fashion. I guess it was the right timing and the right person because we immediately agreed we should actually start a project. Before I knew it he was sending me CDs of riffs and I had lyrics flowing like a faucet.”

The track listing of songs recorded by the duo are:

Where My Garden Grows
Dead Flesh and Bone
Meant To Be
Descend Into Death
Vessel of Light
Living Dead To The World

On the record deal: “Although we conceded to the fact that signing to a label was improbable, I sent music to one of my former record labels and an Italian label I found that I thought was right for us: Argonauta Records. When Gero from Argonauta replied I knew it was the right call. The right label. Somebody who knew and respected my past and Nathan’s currency. I am so happy that thanks to Argonauta the world will soon hear the magic Nathan and I have captured with Vessel Of Light.”

VESSEL OF LIGHT debut ep will be released on CD/DD and available from November 3rd, 2017. A lyric video will be posted by the end of this month.

https://www.facebook.com/vesseloflightband
www.instagram.com/VesselOfLightMusic
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/ArgonautaRex

Ancient VVisdom, “The Opposition” official video

The Cursed, “Evil, in the Bag”

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Friday Full-Length: Red Giant, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Red Giant, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound (1998)

Next year will make it a full 20 since the release of Cleveland heavy rockers Red Giant‘s blazing second album, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound. If you were a denizen of the Emissions from the Monolith Festival, held in Youngstown, OH, between 2000 and 2004, you’re probably already familiar with the record and its Derek Hess classic-pulp-sci-fi cover art, but otherwise you might be forgiven. Issued by Tee Pee Records in 1998, it’s a strikingly effective blend of post-Fu Manchu heavy groove with elements of punk, unmitigated stoner rock riffing and space-bound psychedelia brought to bear over the course of a 66-minute runtime that now seems unmanageable but was indicative of the (about to be waning) CD era in which it was released. The band, led by guitarist/vocalists Alex Perekrest and Damien Perry — the former lead vocals and the latter lead guitar — trace their roots back to 1990 and self-released their debut full-length, Psychoblaster and the Misuse of Power, in 1995, and while I admit it’s been a while since I last heard that one, the second record is where it’s at.

Marked out by the guitar interplay between Perry and Perekrest — whose shared taste in hairstyling always made them look like brothers on stage, as I recall — and the fluid drum work of Chris Gorman, the 12-track Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound showed no hesitation in its approach, whether it was in taking on the cosmic-grunge riffery of “Saturn Missile Battery” or getting positively cacophonous in “Pervert” ahead of the fuzzy deep-dives that followed in “.865 (The Battle for Longitude),” the nine-minute “Ring of the Acid Pope” and the seven-minute roller “Devils of the Fall,” which hit in immersive succession and built on the molten impression of opener “1960 Starchief,” drawing on influence from classic heavy rock as much as its of-the-day practitioners on the West Coast like Nebula and the aforementioned Fu Manchu, but adding a decidedly Midwestern crunch beneath that keeps its feet on the ground even as songs like “Blue-White Supergiant” and “When Sirius Rises” seem to issue a call well outside the stratosphere. Raw in its production in a way that would probably be lush if it was recorded today, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound is in part an artifact of its era, but stands out all the more for that since aside from the likes of the sludgier Rebreather and arguably the more post-hardcore Disengage, there were very few acts in Ohio at the time playing heavy rock at all in the fashion that Red Giant were.

That’s evident in the drifting “Floor Girl” as much as the sample-topped winding peak of “Ring of the Acid Pope,” as Red Giant‘s scope expanded despite a feeling of impatience in their execution that worked to unite the material. Compared to the scorching solos of “Saturn Missile Battery” earlier, “When Sirius Rises” turned out to be a relatively straightforward affair, but as Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound pushed onward through the far-ranging “Thread” and the Zeppelin-styled, acoustic-inclusive “Kill for Condors” toward its finish with the righteously stomping “Another Dying Admiral” (plus a hidden track), their breadth steadily kept growing, such that what began an hour earlier showing itself as a multifaceted, hook-laden but immersive heavy rocker lived up to that promise and then some, rewarding those whose attention span, whether through natural inclination or chemical assistance of one sort or another, allowed for Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound‘s complete unfolding front-to-back. Not a minor undertaking, but not without justification for its stretch either.

If it was being made today, again, it would likely be a much different record. That’s part of the appeal though, and I note how long Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound is in relation to modern, made-for-vinyl 38-minute full-lengths and keep in mind that Red Giant‘s last album, 2010’s Dysfunctional Majesty (review here) — you’ll see it’s the same character on the cover art, though the later LP’s execution is tackier, much as I love Alex von Wieding — was also 67 minutes. Part of that might have been the fact that it had been six years since Red Giant had released their third offering, Devil Child Blues, as their debut on Small Stone, though that album was only 49 minutes and it had been more than half a decade since Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound as well. Maybe some bands just want to make 2LPs. Fine. At this point, seven years after Dysfunctional Majesty, I wouldn’t argue with another hour-plus from these cats.

To that point, there’s been no indication of a fifth album from Red Giant one way or another, but they have continued to play shows over the last several years, working as the four-piece of PerekrestPerryGorman (who was out of the band for a while, then back) and bassist Brian Skinner, and they have one booked for the Agora in Cleveland on Oct. 14 with The Great Iron Snake with an event page on Thee Facebooks here for anyone who might be able to make it. So while they’re still active, I guess one never knows until one shows up to the gig whether or not they might have something brewing.

Either way, I hope you enjoy Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound, and thank you as always for reading.

It’s coming up on six in the morning as I write this and prepare to wrap up the week. I’ve got the back door of my kitchen open to outside, where it’s not yet reached the 150 degrees kelvin it’s supposed to be this afternoon, and the birds are chirping as the sun is up. I missed most of the sunrise, but that’s cool. It happens on the other side of the house. If I was in Connecticut and not Massachusetts this weekend, I might be bummed about not having caught it.

I’m not in Connecticut this weekend though. The choice basically became whether to spend the money on gas to get there or groceries for the next week, so yeah, we’re home this weekend. The good news is I got approved to take photos on Sunday at Clutch and Primus in Boston. It’ll be the first non-fest show I’ve been to in I don’t even know how long, and to say I’m very much looking forward to it is an understatement. I’ve been very, very anxious about going out to gigs basically since my ankle was screwed up and I’ve fallen out of the habit. The drives seem longer — the drive into Boston being particularly miserable and taking upwards of 90 minutes at any hour doesn’t help — and between knowing fewer people here, worrying about being early enough to get up front and take pictures, shitty lighting at just about every Boston venue except Royale (which should have a photo pit and doesn’t), being sober, and the massive effort and little reward of putting together live reviews afterward, I’ve chickened out of more shows than I can count. I missed The Atomic Bitchwax and Mirror Queen last week. I’ve missed The Obsessed a couple times. Lo-Pan. The list goes on. I get bummed out about it, but the truth is I miss New York.

Still, I’d like to get a couple shows in before The Pecan arrives in October — you should see The Patient Mrs.’ bump; I’ve yet to say so out loud, but I’ve taken to calling it Sleep’s Holy Mountain because she’s also tired all the time — and Clutch and Primus is a cool way to come out of hibernation. I bought the last Primus album, Green Naugahyde, shortly after it came out in 2011, because I’ve been a fan since I was like 10 years old, but never really dug into it. Will give an extra listen before Sunday, and there are some new Clutch songs floating around on the YouTubes as well that I’ve been digging on. I’m excited to see the gig. It’s been a while since I felt that way. I’ll probably get there and have no credentials at the box office. Ha.

The Patient Mrs. is coming with me too for that. I’m counting it as The Pecan’s first show. Extra stoked on that level. Hopefully the classy bass licks of Dan Maines and the funky punch of Les Claypool reverberate in his still-forming brain and lead to a lifetime of appreciating how utterly essential quality low end is to rock and roll. That would be nice.

But that’s Sunday. In a little while, The Patient Mrs. will get up and we’ll head to the grocery store and start the day for some early productivity. Not much on tap in terms of big plans for the day; she’s out later for a thing, so I’ll watch PBS NewsHour and Mystery Science Theater 3000 this evening to pass time, maybe put together a podcast this afternoon while checking out last night’s Yankees game, if only because they won and it was on too late to see live. We’ll see.

It’s a full week next week though already. Here’s what’s in the notes, subject to change as usual:

Mon.: Clutch & Primus live review; Snail video from The Obelisk All-Dayer.
Tue.: The Judge review/track premiere; maybe podcast.
Wed.: Radio Adds; Marius Tilly video premiere.
Thu.: Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree review; Six Dumb Questions w/ Tim Granda about Planet of Doom; ZOM announcement.
Fri.: Youngblood Supercult review.

Like I said, pretty jammed. Monday and Tuesday are also just about full for news as well, so yeah. Space and time are at a premium these days, and each week seems to bring more six-post mornings and afternoons. Not gonna complain about it. I’m going to do as much as I can, when I can. Same as always.

I’ve gotten some right-on records to review in the last couple weeks of things that are coming out this Fall. Paradise Lost, Monolord, that Slomatics live album, Argus, Pagan Altar, The Quill, another one from an East Coast band that I can’t really name yet, plus Blues Funeral, Ruby the Hatchet, and so on. Really killer stuff. The next few months are going to be fun as I rifle through all of it for coverage. I look forward to it and hope you do too.

And of course I hope you have a great and safe weekend as well. Rock and roll, have an awesome time whatever you’re up to, and we’ll see you back here Monday for more shenanigans. Please check out the forum and radio stream, and thanks as always for reading and listening.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Review & Track Premiere: Five Horse Johnson, Jake Leg Boogie

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

five-horse-johnson-jake-leg-boogie

[Click play above to stream ‘Hard Times’ from Five Horse Johnson’s Jake Leg Boogie, out June 30 on Small Stone Records.]

The world in which Jake Leg Boogie takes place is one of grit, sneak-around-the-back-door blues, cheap hooch and the kind of swagger that can only result from the imbibing thereof. Issued via Small Stone, it is the eighth album from Toledo, Ohio’s Five Horse Johnson and the first since 2013’s The Taking of Black Heart (review here), and though that world might feel like a pipedream compared to some of the grim realities of modern existence, there are few acts who can sell the idea as well as the five-piece. They reunite here with original drummer Tim Gahagan, and after 22 years, their love of heavy rock and blues continues to be the core aspect that defines their work. With the rough-edged vocals of Eric Oblander out front, the riffing of Brad Coffin (also vocals) and Phil Dürr defining the course and the righteous classic rockery of bassist Steve Smith in the rhythm section alongside Gahagan‘s swing and push, Five Horse Johnson are as they should be throughout the 39-minute 10-tracker: Kicking ass, taking names, and fostering no regrets in the process.

Through cuts like “Magic Man,” “Little Lonely” and “Daddy was a Gun,” they weave tales of sleaze and professional-grade troublemaking, starting off with the Southern-style ruckus of the hook of the opening title-track, which is among the shorter songs at 2:40 but gets down to business almost immediately with a bouncing riff, room for a harp solo from Oblander and what sounds like a bit of slide on the guitar. One way or another, Five Horse Johnson are up to no good, and that sounds just about right. “Magic Man” brings together ’70s rock and blues in a fluid push that continues to build momentum from the opener, setting its place in Springfield, Missouri, and no doubt referring to a real-life incident involving some “bad company” that’s probably best not inquired after.

For a lot of what Jake Leg Boogie will do stylistically, the ground is already set. Five Horse Johnson aren’t a band known for nuance so much as getting drunk and still blowing everyone else off the stage, but the stomp and attitude they bring to the material here as “Cryin’ Shame” rears its riff back and lurches it forward again aren’t to be understated, and neither is the quality of songcraft that lies beneath them. Like both “Jake Leg Boogie” and “Magic Man” before it, “Cryin’ Shame” complements its boozery with a righteously and unabashedly welcoming chorus, and even as the opening salvo shifts into the slower-strummed, more-subdued “Ropes and Chains” — acoustics and electrics seeming to run side by side — Five Horse Johnson refresh their audience with an engaging verse/hook interplay before turning just past three minutes into a more boogie-laden instrumental finish to provide transition into the uptempo side A finale, “Hard Times.”

Thus far, the band has worked quickly and efficiently in offering true-to-their-nature heavy blues rock, but “Hard Times” is a standout for its craftsmanship and for the classically motoring riff at its center. It is very, very American. Chevys, whiskey spelled with the extra ‘e’, consciously ogling a lady standing right next to her dude — it’s all right there. “Hard Times” pushes through its four minutes so sure of itself and its place that one almost has trouble believing the lyrics, which of course are about hard times, but as it ends the first half of Jake Leg Boogie, it also marks the shift into the ultra-effective midsection of the album, which continues its up-jumped shuffle with “Smoke Show” before moving into the longest inclusion here, “Little Lonely.”

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It’s worth nothing that “longest” in this context means 4:53. No matter where Five Horse Johnson head on Jake Leg Boogie, they don’t lose sight of the album’s core mission in delivering sans-frills heavy blues. After the scorching leads on “Smoke Show,” “Little Lonely” draws back on the pace somewhat but makes up for it with a sing-along chorus and sleek groove, setting up the faster return of “Overload,” which offers more primo harp from Oblander, and the semi-finale of “Daddy was a Gun” — thereby making the speaker of the song a “son of a gun,” if it’s not obvious. Perhaps the clearest blues preach on offer, “Daddy was a Gun” also speaks to the closeness between Five Horse Johnson and Clutch, with whom Oblander has guested on tour and whose drummer Jean-Paul Gaster sat in on the last Five Horse record.

Still, they retain the consistency of their approach as they move toward the end of the record, which comes with the turn of the appropriately-named “Last Song,” a surprisingly quiet and sentimental short bookend to “Jake Leg Boogie” — the opener and the closer are the only cuts under the three-minute mark — that departs from some of the swagger in favor of an airier atmosphere, still soaked by Southern humidity but with an on-the-porch blues noodling guitar line and a tambourine as its only percussion, it’s a definite change nonetheless, and after all the brash crotchal thrust they’ve brought to bear across Jake Leg Boogie, they end on a note of understatement, as though to reaffirm we-didn’t-mean-no-harm sensibility that’s behind a string of nine liquor store robberies represented by the preceding tracks. “Boys will be boys,” said the cops.

More than two decades on, Five Horse Johnson have little to prove, and Jake Leg Boogie is accordingly less about taking over the world than about the band doing what they’ve always done well in affecting a controlled but still boozy tumult. With the return of Gahagan on drums, and consistency in presentation from working with longtime producer Al Sutton at Rustbelt Studios and cover artist Mark Dancey, the band are very much in form, and the world they create for and through these songs is as inviting as it is raucous.

Five Horse Johnson on Thee Facebooks

Five Horse Johnson website

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records website

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