Valley of the Sun, Old Gods: What Faith Brings

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

valley of the sun old gods

They nailed it. Absolutely. That’s as simple as I can say it. Cincinnati, Ohio-based heavy rockers Valley of the Sun bring new character and dimension to their core approach in fuzzy riffs and classic desert-style groove, and with their third album, Old Gods (on Fuzzorama), the four-piece answer both the potential of their earliest work and the development that took place over their first two LPs. Led by the founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer, with Josh Pilot on guitar and Chris Sweeney handling bass and keys, the band present 11 tracks in a sharp-turning 41 minutes, tying together around a theme of greater instrumental variety and songcraft executed with airtight efficiency and purpose. In following up 2016’s Volume Rock (review here) and 2014’s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here), Valley of the Sun sound like a band who know when to take their time — closer “Dreams of Sands,” for example — and when to tear-ass through the speakers, as on the sub-tw0-minute scorcher “Firewalker.”

That maturity and self-realization very much suit their basic sound, which has always been professional at its foundation, going back to their first two EPs, 2011’s The Sayings of the Seers (review here, discussed here) and the prior year’s Two Thousand Ten, but has never quite had the reach it does on Old Gods. The album is quick to showcase that with the mellow guitar intro to the opening title-track, but it comes out all the more in the series of interludes peppered through the tracklisting. Named on-theme to the title of the record itself, “Gaia Creates,” “Shiva Destroys” and “Buddha Transcends” do an incredible amount of work in terms of diversifying and bolstering the surrounding material, taking the mid-paced nod and catchy rush of “Old Gods” and the subsequent post-QOTSA careener “All We Are” and lending depth and a more complete-album feel, despite the variety between them, with “Gaia Creates” dipping into sunny folk acoustics, “Shiva Destroys” a suitable percussion interplay, and “Buddha Transcends” an effective delve into meditative minimalism.

“Gaia Creates” is the longest of them at 2:16, and yet the effect they have on the songs around them is palpable, perhaps nowhere more than in “Dim Vision,” which sits as the only cut in between “Gaia Creates” and “Shiva Destroys.” It’s as much a quintessential Valley of the Sun track as one could ask for, even more than the opening duo of “Old Gods” and “All We Are,” but with the lead-in and lead-out, it’s given a special focus that seems to highlight its execution. On paper, it’s nothing overly fancy — basically an instance of what the band at their best have been all along — but “Dim Vision” is emblematic just the same of the progression they’ve undertaken over the course of the last nine years in the studio and on tour. Like the aforementioned “Firewalker,” it’s a song that sounds like it was made to be played live, and to have these tracks appear in such proximity to each other feels purposeful as well, with side A moving smoothly through a course that would be deceptive in its complexity if it didn’t just lay it all out there and still manage to ease the listener through its changes, whether it’s the kick in tempo between “Old Gods” and “All We Are,” or the head-spinning shifts from “Gaia Creates” to “Dim Vision” to “Shiva Destroys” to “Firewalker.”

valley of the sun

It’s worth noting as well how quickly those changes take place. The last four tracks on side A don’t add up to the total runtime of the first two. It would be an easy place for the band to lose control of Old Gods‘ flow, but they never do. Instead, they bring “Firewalker” to a crisp finish and mirror the beginning of the album with “Into the Abyss” on side B, which also begins with a stretch of mellow guitar, runs a moderate pace and gives an immersive, rolling progression for the listener to dive into, made all the more so by a laid back vocal from Ferrier, who only moments ago, was in full-on belt-out mode for “Firewalker.” Especially listening in a linear format (CD or DL), it’s not at all the first striking shift on Old Gods, but it’s another one Valley of the Sun make sound much easier than it actually is.

Fuzz comes to the fore in the relatively brief but effective “Faith is for Suckers,” a hooky, cowbell-infused desert riffer with a driving volume tradeoff, and “Buddha Transcends” resets the mood to quiet ahead of “Means the Same” and “Dreams of Sands” at the finish. With “Into the Abyss” and “Dreams of Sands” — the latter of which is perfectly placed as a memorable closer — as six-plus-minute bookends for side B, “Faith is for Suckers,” “Buddha Transcends” and “Means the Same” play out in a kind of parabolic fashion, both in energy and runtime; longer-to-shorter-to-shortest, and back up, though “Faith is for Suckers” and “Means the Same” surround the centerpiece interlude with arguably a more active spirit than “Into the Abyss” and “Dreams of Sands.” But if that’s the case, it’s only because the longer pieces are more ambitious in their scope, and “Dreams of Sands” not only serves as payoff for side B, but for the record as whole, rewarding the risks taken on side A and the structural turn of side B with a scope of its own that, as analogy for the entirety of Old Gods pushes beyond what Valley of the Sun have done in the past, ending on a long fade as if to return the listener to wherever they might’ve been before the quiet beginning of the title-track first cropped up.

Old Gods brings Valley of the Sun‘s take to a new level, pushing aside preconceptions of who the band are by using its theme to tie the material together instrumentally and structurally, and leaving one to wonder where they might go from here, whether it’s in integrating the acoustics and percussion of the interludes to their songwriting — would be fair enough ground to cover — or continuing to progress in some other, unexpected way. Perhaps most telling of all, listening to Old Gods, one feels less concerned about what shape the inevitable ‘new gods’ might take than the achievements brought to bear here. This is what Valley of the Sun have been moving toward for the last nine years. This realization. For now, it seems most crucial to understand that and appreciate the work on its own merits. Where it might lead is a concern for another day, but if you’re worried about it, have a little faith.

Valley of the Sun, Old Gods (2019)

Valley of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Valley of the Sun on Bandcamp

Fuzzorama Records

Fuzzorama Records on Thee Facebooks

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Ancient VVisdom Announce New Album Mundus Due This Fall; “Human Extinction” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Ohio cultists Ancient VVisdom were holed up earlier this year in Mercinary Studios putting together what will be their follow-up to 2017’s 33, which was their label debut on Argonauta Records that also saw release through DHU Records and Magic Bullet Records. In the two years since, AVV frontman Nathan Opposition has made a go of it alongside Dan Lorenzo of Hades in the band Vessel of Light, and that also-righteous cause taken up a bit of time that otherwise might’ve gone toward Ancient VVisdom‘s dark and disturbing psychedelic mindfuckery, but the announcement that the band will return with a new album through Argonauta bodes well (bodes grim?) as a sign of things to come.

The album is called Mundus, and they’ve got a new video for the track “Human Extinction.” The album is due out in Fall, and the announcement of it is fresh off the PR wire:

ancient vvisdom

ANCIENT VVISDOM return with brand new album this Fall on Argonauta Records; + premiere first single ‘Human Extinction’!

A dark, enlightening foresight into the future of humankind dictated by singer/songwriter Nathan Opposition. Ancient VVisdom was founded in Austin, TX in late 2009 with the order consisting of Nathan Opposition (ex-integrity drummer 2005-2010), Justin “Ribs” Mason (iron age bassist) on second acoustic guitar, and Nathan’s brother, Michael Jochum (ex-integrity guitarist 2003-2010) on electric guitar. This Fall, Ancient VVisdom will finally return with a brand new album on Argonauta Records!

To shorten your wait, the band is already sharing with us a first track, Human Extinction. Just exclusively premiered on Revolver Magazine, you can now watch Ancient VVisdom brand new video HERE!

Band mastermind Nathan Opposition comments: “Our new album is titled Mundus. We put our heart and soul into this. This album speaks volumes both sonically and philosophically.

Engineered by Noah Buchanan, mastered by Arthur Rizk, artwork by Karmazid and music by Ancient VVisdom, we had quite the amazing team of talented individuals who helped shape what is now our favorite AVV album to date! Thank you all very much for your help.

The world we live in is so fucked up and there is so much to write about, its sad for me to see how many artist these days have the amps and the platform but nothing to say. The lyrics on Mundus have something very powerful to say. The music, the message, the vision and the voice. I hope in years to come the music community can come together, be enlightened, and take a stance against the hypocrisy, the bigotry, the hate, the injustices of our modern society. We all have a voice now lets band together and use it to change the world. Extinction is the rule, survival is the exception.“

https://www.facebook.com/AVVFB/
https://ancientvvisdom.bigcartel.com/
https://www.instagram.com/officialancientvvisdom/
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Ancient VVisdom, “Human Extinction” official video

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Lo-Pan, Subtle: Everything Burns

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan subtle

It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s been nearly five years since Lo-Pan last released an album. The Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers issued Colossus (review here) through Small Stone in Fall 2014, and subsequently dove headfirst into a succession of years of touring and tumult. About a month after Colossus, they announced guitarist Adrian Zambrano (Brujas del Sol) taking over for Brian Fristoe; touring followed in the familiar ground of the US and on the then-uncovered territory of Europe throughout 2015. Talk began of a new record and the band hit the studio even as more touring ensued in 2016, and then Zambrano left and Chris Thompson joined, making his debut appearance in 2017 at The Blackout Cookout 7 in Kent, Ohio. The material that Lo-Pan recorded with Zambrano, meanwhile, was released in early 2017 as the In Tensions EP (review here) and would be that year’s best short release.

Again, Lo-Pan went on tour, the four-piece of Thompson, vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz running hard in 2017 only to step back last year and write and record what would become Subtle with their new lineup. Like In Tensions, the band’s fifth full-length releases through Aqualamb Records, and it arrives as they once again make ready to hit the road hard and tour at home and abroad before the end of 2019. Their commitment to what they do is admirable. In the midst of chaos and clashing personalities, Lo-Pan emerge to put forth 11 tracks/47 minutes of cohesive and few-frills songcraft. The songs, rooted in riffs and compositions by Thompson and/or Thompson (who are not related), feel as though they’ve had everything extraneous chipped away, leaving the essential components of expression.

That’s not to say Subtle is raw — far from it. With production by James Brown (GhostNine Inch Nails) in New York, the band have arguably never sounded so melodically accomplished. That’s mostly evident in Martin‘s stellar and soulful vocal performance, but it’s there in the guitar and bass as well, and even Bartz‘s crash seems to have a tunefulness about it. At the same time, structurally, songs like the opener “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day” and the later and suitably rolling “A Thousand Miles” channel powerful verses and strong hooks to a sense of urgency that Colossus brought to the fore but that’s smoothed out here in its tone and less outwardly aggressive in its overall affect. Of course, “Bring Me a War” still has its edge of confrontationalism, and likewise the early highlight “Savage Heart” and closer “The Law and the Swarm,” but the guitar tone is warmer, and that makes a difference.

The balance between these various sides and impulses, as well as the dynamic range in the massive crash of “Everything Burns” and the quieter midsection build of the penultimate “Butcher’s Bill” — I’ve always been a sucker for those moments when Lo-Pan hit the brakes on tempo — helps the band add a feeling of scope to Subtle, and as a bid for one of the best albums of 2019, it’s a blend of songwriting and performance that stands them out among would-be peers in heavy rock and roll. Though it’s anything but, Subtle is the output of a band who have mastered their approach and who still see fit to push themselves to new ground. Whether it’s the relentless shove of songs like “Sage” or the chug-into-happytime-chorus centerpiece “Old News” or even the more brooding “Khan!,” Lo-Pan stand triumphant in this material, and though it sounds hard-won, that only seems to make the victory sweeter.

lo-pan

It’s easy enough to read Subtle as a touring album in cuts like “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day,” “A Thousand Miles,” “Butcher’s Bill” “Sage” and “Bring Me a War,” on one level or another, as well as the cover art that seems to draw the eye to the desert sunset like moving down a highway laced with rows of shark teeth, but if Lo-Pan are chronicling the last few years of changes in the band and in their own lives at least in some degree within this material, then fair enough. Whether or not that’s the case, I don’t know (the finished vinyl and art-book editions include a lyric sheet), but if it is, then even in the slower “Butcher’s Bill,” they don’t sound anymore bogged down than is intended by the song itself. The album is not a minor undertaking at 47 minutes, but it’s not meant to be a minor undertaking. Even with its general lack of indulgence — as a guitarist, Thompson doesn’t take particularly sprawling solos, and Martin keeps layering to a relative minimum, saving harmonies for “The Law and the Swarm” and double-tracking for emphasis elsewhere — Subtle wants nothing for substance.

I’ll readily cop to being a fan of the band live and on record. Does it matter? I don’t know. I doubt it. As I understand it, the thing about Lo-Pan in how they function as a band is that they’re all very different people. I can’t speak to how often they hang out on weekends when they’re not touring, but in terms of the group itself, they’re able to channel that friction or that personality-clash into something special. Lo-Pan have been and remain one of America’s best heavy rock bands for the last decade-plus. Their second album, Sasquanaut (review here) — first released in 2009, then picked up by Small Stone in 2010 — and their third album, 2011’s Salvador (review here), were formative but pivotal works that helped establish the methods that Colossus and In Tensions and Subtle have refined and built on. They write and perform with soul that bleeds through every riff, bassline, drum hit and soaring vocal, and despite the ups and downs the last few years have wrought for them, Subtle stands tall and clean, having conquered a mountain of bullshit.

So yes, one of 2019’s best heavy rock albums. Fine. What seems more important is that Subtle finds Lo-Pan having come through so much without being derailed from what they do — “Ten days inside/Won’t break my stride,” Martin intones on the opener — and their central process remains vital even after being so tested leading up to this record. This is a band worth appreciating while they’re there to appreciate and the immediacy of these songs begs a likewise fervent response. Get into it.

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Lo-Pan on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb on Thee Facebooks

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Blackout Cookout 10 Confirms Full Lineup; It’s Pretty Insane

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the blackout cookout 10 art

Congrats to Ohio’s The Blackout Cookout on making it to their Xth edition. That’s 10, in case you were wondering. Doing anything for 10 years in a row these days is pretty admirable. And I’m not just saying that because this site also started in 2009, but because it’s true, and whether it’s something that’s a passion project like putting on this festival — because I imagine nobody’s yet gotten rich off basically hosting an annual barbecue with friends and other cool bands — or just staying at the same job, a decade is a long time. Most people get high and wander off somewhere long before that mark is reached.

Blackout Cookout X however has a badass celebratory lineup, with Inter Arma and Big Business in headlining spots for its two-day run, and Ohio-based regular-types like Bridesmaid and Lo-Pan and the reactivated Rebreather slated to appear. Look out for Caustic CasanovaBrujas del SolAlbum and of course KENmode as well. Bottom line is it’ll be a good time, and it’s a party, and I guarantee there will be people there who’ve been to all 10 Blackout Cookouts, but if you’ve never been before and you show up and, like, don’t know where the bathroom is or something, I bet they wouldn’t be a dick about it. They’d just be like, “Yeah, it’s over there” and point you on your way. People helping people. The stuff of life.

Here’s the full lineup, as seen on the social medias:

the blackout cookout 10 poster

The Blackout Cookout 10 – Sept. 6 & 7

Westside Bowl
2617 Mahoning Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio 44509

The Blackout Cookout is an annual celebration of heavy music, friends and BBQ at Westside Bowl in Youngstown, Ohio.

Friday Sept. 6
INTER ARMA
Brain Tentacles
Homewrecker
ALBUM
Bridesmaid
Something Is Waiting
Caustic Casanova
Wallcreeper
DAGGRS
Modem

Saturday Sept. 7
Big Business
KEN mode
Lo-Pan
Rebreather
Fully Consumed
Microwaves
Brujas del Sol
Goosed
Persistent Aggressor
Matter of Planets
Lake Lake
Black Spirit Crown
Cheap Heat

Poster by Chris Smith.

https://www.facebook.com/events/324565261529821/
https://www.facebook.com/theblackoutcookout/

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Relaxer Announce Japanese Tour Dates; “The Endless Slope” Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

To mark the occasion of their Japanese tour, Ohio four-piece Relaxer will issue a new split with Boris (yup, Boris), Crypt City and Lisa Bella Donna (of Buckeye proggers EYE). That’s some considerable company to keep, and Relaxer keep it well with the track “The Endless Slope” that they’re streaming now. It’s down there, bottom of the post, as usual, and well worth the couple minutes of a quick listen for its classic rock vibe and overlaid melodic modernity. I wouldn’t call it progressive, but neither are they pretending to be dumb, and I like that.

The split they’ll have with them on tour, and I assume whatever’s left when that’s done will be for sale on the ol’ interweebs there, so keep an eye out. I think it you listen you’ll find it’s easy enough to get on board. I did.

Have at you:

relaxer

Relaxer is headed to Japan to tour with Boris. Making music for the sake or art or commerce is a multi-dimensional, engrossing prospect. It requires time, tenacity and emotion conjured from conscious and subconscious wellsprings.

At some point in their vibrant evolution, Relaxer’s sound began to take a mysterious shape, and members of the group tapped into new areas of their triune brain, setting free their once captive reptilian complex. In the interest of allowing their lizard group think to reap cognitive and aural havok, Relaxer are putting the finishing touches on a split with storied Japanese underground metal heroes Boris.

Invigorated the change in direction – from “passive progressive” and cinematic to atom-smashing, Middle Earth-borne, stoned-out frenzy — the agile, amplifier worshiping Ohio headbangers join their split-mates on an EarthQuaker Devices sponsored tour of Japan in May 2019.

Previously, Relaxer released their seven-song Unreal/Cities LP, which was recorded by engineer Ben Vehorn (Strand of Oaks), in 2016. The collection of psychedelic rippers featured contributions from Steve Clements (Six Parts Seven, Royal Bangs), and was followed by a run of west coast tour dates, including a performance at The Reverberation Appreciation Society’s (members of The Black Angels and friends) sixth LEVITATION music festival in Austin, Texas.

Unreal/Cities was preceeded by the band’s debut LP, 2014’s Lasers, which was engineered by Chris Koltay (Akron/Family, Electric Six, Tyvek) and mastered by Heba Kadry (Slowdive, YOB, Bjork), and a split 7” with Cloud Nothings released via Mind’s Eye/Square Records on Record Store Day 2013.

Relaxer is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Joe Scott, guitarist Jamie Stillman, bassist Corey Haren, and drummer Brad Thorla who previously performed with a variety of celebrated underground acts including The Party of Helicopters, Harriet The Spy, White Pines, Teeth of the Hydra, Sofa King Killer, Drummer (with Pat Carney of The Black Keys), etc.

DATES
5/26 Tokyo Shindaita FEVER
5/27 Nagoya APOLLO BASE
5/28 Osaka CONPASS
5/29 Hiroshima CLUB QUATTRO
5/30 Fukuoka INSA

OPEN/START (5/26) – 17:00/17:30
OPEN/START (for the other dates) – 18:00/18:30

TICKETS
Ticket Pia http://w.pia.jp/t/eqd2019/
ePlus https://eplus.jp/eqd/
Lawson Ticket https://l-tike.com/earthquakerdevices

Relaxer is:
Corey Haren: Bass
Joseph Scott: Vocals/Guitar
Jamie Stillman: Guitar
Bradley Thorla: Drums

http://www.facebook.com/RelaxerSystem
http://www.instagram.com/relaxerband
https://relaxersystem.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relaxerband.com/

Relaxer, “The Endless Slope”

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Lo-Pan Post “Ten Days” Video; Touring with C.O.C. & Crowbar

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan

It’s been too damn long since the last time I saw Lo-Pan, but that’s something I’ll rectify at least twice as they head out in support of their new album, Subtle, due through Aqulamb on May 17. They’ll be at Maryland Doom Fest in June and then touring with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar in July/August. See you at Starland Ballroom, gents. Speaking of “been a long time…”

Anyhoozle, I’ve got Subtle slated for review on May 9 currently. Might move it depending on what comes along, but that’s where we’re at now, and so I’ll hold off getting too deep into the record, but the clip for opening track “Ten Days” tells a good portion of the Lo-Pan story. They have gone, and they go. Rain, sleet and snow. Their tour history is exhausting even to consider, let alone what’s ahead of them in heralding Subtle, but they are a live band to be sure. I won’t take away from their studio work at all, because golly their records kick ass up to and including the new one, but if you’ve ever caught them at a show, you know what I mean. They have a force to their delivery that is among the most potent I’ve caught in at least the last decade.

In addition to the shows below, they’ve also been announced for Up in Smoke and Keep it Low in Europe this October, so I expect more tour dates will be forthcoming, as those fests in Switzerland and Germany, respectively, run on consecutive weekends. I wouldn’t rule them out for Desertfest Belgium, which is Oct. 18-20 this year, either, but nothing has been announced. We’ll see. Either way they’ll be back over there in the Fall, and I don’t imagine the stint this summer with C.O.C. will be their only round of US touring either. Still the West Coast to hit, maybe in Winter or next Spring, depending on their timing. You never really know.

Until the announcement comes down the PR wire. Then you know.

But “Ten Days,” in addition to having a fervent thud and a brainmelter of a hook, captures a lot of the on-the-beat live energy Lo-Pan bring to Subtle. I’m a fan of the band and I won’t pretend otherwise either here or in the review to come, but even with what little objectivity I can muster, I’ll say that it’s righteous and they know it.

Clap your hands.

And enjoy:

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

The first single from respected hard rock band Lo-Pan’s new album “Subtle”, due May 17th via Aqualamb. Pre-order the new full-length LP now at http://aqualamb.bandcamp.com

“‘Ten Days” is a song about my ability to thrive just about anywhere with little or no preparation,” vocalist Jeff Martin says. “I have always felt that if you can survive 10 days of any uncomfortable situation, you can adapt, and adjust, and persevere. This song is a sort of reminder for me to follow through on my own bluster in that way. I talk a lot of shit. And sometimes I need to force myself to walk it like I talk it.”

This May, Lo-Pan will perform live as one of the featured acts at the 2019 Stoned and Dusted Festival, set for May 25-26 in the Southern California Mojave Desert. At the special gathering, Lo-Pan will share the stage with Black Mountain, Brant Bjork, King Buffalo, Yawning Man, Melvins and more. For full details, visit this location.

In additional news, Lo-Pan has announced a summer North American tour with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar. Set to launch on July 26 in Poughkeepsie, NY, the month long tour will criss-cross the country, running through August 25 in Providence, RI.

Lo-Pan tour dates:

May 26 Joshua Tree, CA Stoned and Dusted Festival
June 21 Frederick, MD Maryland Doom Fest

Lo-Pan w/ Corrosion of Conformity & Crowbar:
July 26 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
July 27 Syracuse, NY Westcott Theater
July 29 Kitchener, ON Dallas Nightclub
July 31 Louisville, KY Mercury Ballroom
August 1 Grand Rapids, MI Elevation
August 2 Milwaukee, WI The Rave II
August 5 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe at Old National Centre
August 6 Sauget, IL Pop’s
August 7 Omaha, NE Slowdown
August 10 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
August 11 Grand Junction, CO Mesa Theater
August 13 Boise, ID Knitting Factory Concert House
August 14 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
August 16 Tucson, AZ Encore
August 17 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theater
August 19 Austin, TX Come and Take It Live
August 21 Jacksonville , FL 1904 Music Hall
August 22 Jacksonville, NC The Tarheel
August 23 Virginia Beach, VA Elevation 27
August 24 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
August 25 Providence, RI Fete Music Hall

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

Lo-Pan website

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb Records website

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

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Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

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DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

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CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

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Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

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Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

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Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

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Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

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Electric Citizen Announce European & UK Touring; Playing Desertfest, Esbjerg Fuzztival, Muskelrock and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

electric citizen

Ohio heavy rockers Electric Citizen have been on the Desertfest bills for a while now, London, Berlin and New York, and it was known as well they’d be in Denmark for the Esbjerg Fuzztival, so it’s not really much of a surprise they’re stringing those appearances together with a tour, but, you know, it’s nice to have the wheres and whens on that actually happening. They’ll head abroad in time for a May 1 show in Bristol, UK, after hitting Psycho Smokeout in L.A. and the aforementioned Desertfest in NYC, and then continue to make their way onto mainland Europe after Desertfest London and go for the next month, finishing out in Copenhagen on June 1. There are some days off, as will happen, but it’s still a pretty significant tour, and course the band go supporting their third album, last year’s Helltown (review here), which came out as ever through RidingEasy Records.

The PR wire brought the awesome poster and dates accordingly:

electric citizen tour

Electric Citizen announce EU & UK tour dates, plus Psycho Smokeout 4/20 in L.A. and DesertFest NYC 4/27

Also includes DesertFest London, DesertFest Berlin

Electric Citizen announce UK & EU festival and headlining tour dates for Spring 2019 in support of their recently released third album Helltown (RidingEasy Records.) They kick off the overseas trek with performances at the inaugural Psycho Smokeout Festival in Los Angeles on April 20th and DesertFest in Brooklyn, NY on April 27th. Please see all dates below.

ELECTRIC CITIZEN TOUR 2019:
04/20 Los Angeles, CA @ Psycho Smokeout Festival
04/27 New York, NY @ DesertFest NYC
05/01 Bristol, UK @ The Lanes
05/02 Newcastle, UK @ Trillans
05/03 London, UK @ DesertFest London
05/04 Liege, BE @ La Zone
05/05 Berlin, DE @ DesertFest Berlin
05/08 Malmo, SE @ Plan B
05/09 Stockholm, SE @ Undergangen
05/10 Esbjerg, DK @ Esbjerg Fuzzfestival
05/11 Gothenburg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska
05/13 Oldenburg, DE @ MTS LP Store
05/16 Olten, CH @ Coq’D’Or
05/17 Munster, DE @ Rare Guitar
05/18 Cottbus, DE @ Zum Faulen August
05/22 Koln, DE @ MTC Club
05/23 Karlsruhe, DE @ Alte Hackerei
05/24 Innsbruck, AT @ PMK
05/25 Bolzano, IT @ Pippo Stage
05/26 Monastier di Treviso, IT @ Krach
05/27 Munich, DE @ Backstage
05/28 Vienna, AT @ Arena
05/29 Linz, AT @ Kapu
05/31 Alvesta, SE @ Muskelrock Festival
06/01 Copenhagen, DK @ Lygtens Kro

www.electriccitizenband.com
www.facebook.com/electriccitizen
www.twitter.com/electriccitizen
www.instagram.com/electriccitizenband
ridingeasyrecs.com

Electric Citizen, “Hide it in the Night” official video

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