Participating in The Blackout Cookout has become something of a tradition for Lo-Pan. I don’t know if they play every year at the Kent, Ohio-based fest put together by Kenny Royer, also of The Ravenna Arsenal, but they’ve done it multiple times over and have always spoken highly of the experience. This year was The Blackout Cookout 7, and Lo-Pan, from Columbus, OH, headlined — topping a bill that also included Sofa King Killer, The Ravenna Arsenal, Bridesmaid, Horseburner and others. It looked like a pretty good show. It always does.
There’s some added intrigue to seeing live footage of Lo-Pan from The Blackout Cookout 7 in that, held on Aug. 13, it was also their first show with guitarist Chris Thompson, who joined the band last month. They’ve since embarked on a tour alongside The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets, put together by Tone Deaf, that will lead them to Psycho Las Vegas this weekend, where they join the lineup of everyone and their mother at the Hard RockHotel and Casino. Not a minor introduction for a new member of the group. Probably closer to trial by fire, particularly when you factor in the desert heat.
But Thompson, who’s joined in Lo-Pan by bassist Scott Thompson (no relation), drummer Jesse Bartz and vocalist Jeff Martin, has clearly held his own so far, as you can see in the clip below for “Pathfinder.” The footage comes courtesy of Pittsburgh native and all-around top-notch individual Randy Blood, and if you’ve seen Lo-Pan in the last year, you probably recall the song. Last time I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure was in March and though it was my first time seeing or hearing “Pathfinder,” the immediate impression from it was that it’s one of the best things Lo-Pan has ever written, and I think that holds up here as well.
And it looks like Thompson is gonna be just fine on guitar, in case you were worried.
Enjoy the “Pathfinder” clip below, followed by Lo-Pan‘s remaining live dates:
Lo-Pan, “Pathfinder” live at The Blackout Cookout 7, Aug. 13, 2016
Lo-Pan with The Atomic Bitchwax & Dirty Streets: 8/24/2016 Grizzly Hall – Austin, TX 8/25/2016 Rail Club – Ft. Worth, TX 8/26/2016 Ned’s Bar – Albuquerque, NM 8/27/2016 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ 8/28/2016 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Just over a month after announcing the addition of guitarist Chris Thompson to their lineup in place of Adrian Zambrano, Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan will head out on an inaugural tour with the new lineup. I’ve already seen video of them performing at this year’s Blackout Cookout in Kent, OH, where they’re a regular fixture, and the feel was right on. I’d expect them to get even tighter by the time this run is over, and a particularly noteworthy stop-off at Psycho Las Vegas should make for a pretty solid first-tour highlight for Thompson. “Welcome aboard, by the way, we’re playing with Alice Cooper this weekend.” Not too shabby.
Lo-Pan will be out with The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets. I told you I’d post these dates again:
LO-PAN: Ohio Riff Wielders To Kick Off Tour With The Atomic Bitchwax This Week; Band To Appear At Psycho Las Vegas
Ohio riff wielders LO-PAN will take to the streets again for a short run of live dates later this week supporting The Atomic Bitchwax on a portion of their tour through August 27th. Additional support will be provided by Dirty Streets. Set to commence this Friday, August 19th in Charlotte, North Carolina, LO-PAN’s latest trek includes a performance at Psycho Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino alongside the likes of Alice Cooper, Blue Öyster Cult, Electric Wizard, Sleep and many others. It also marks the four-piece’s first tour with new guitarist Chris Thompson.
Comments drummer Jesse Bartz, “The train don’t stop! New guitarist Chris Thompson has us practicing some older stuff too. We will be playing a wide variety of material from our previous recordings as well as some new material. Really stoked to be able to tour with The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets. Both are top notch not to be missed rock bands. We cannot wait to see some of our favorite bands of all time at Psycho Vegas!”
LO-PAN w/ The Atomic Bitchwax, Dirty Streets: 8/19/2016 The Milestone – Charlotte, NC 8/20/2016 The Tavern – Hattiesburg, MS 8/21/2016 Siberia – New Orleans, LA 8/22/2016 Limelight – San Antonio, TX 8/23/2016 White Oak Music Hall – Houston, TX 8/24/2016 Grizzly Hall – Austin, TX 8/25/2016 Rail Club – Ft. Worth, TX 8/26/2016 Ned’s Bar – Albuquerque, NM 8/27/2016 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ 8/28/2016 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Vegas
LO-PAN continues to tour in support of their critically lauded Colossus full-length, released via Small Stone. Produced and engineered by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Rosetta, East Of The Wall et al) at his own Translator Audio in Brooklyn, New York and named for an ancient statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun, Helios, the record continues to raise the eyebrows of fans and media globally.
My understanding is that the release date for EYE‘s long-awaited third album — actually not that long, it just feels that way — has been pushed back to November. When it arrives, Vision and Ageless Light will be the Ohio space-psych rockers’ first outing for new label home The Laser’s Edge, following 2013’s Second Sight (review here) and their 2011 debut, Center of the Sun (discussed here and here).
The trailer premiered below marks the first audio to be made public from Vision and Ageless Light, as well as the debut of the cover art, and it comes so far ahead of the release date in honor of the band’s appearance at The Obelisk All-Dayer, THIS SATURDAY, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Five days from now. If you’re not excited for it yet, I double-dog-dare you to click play below and not buy a ticket immediately to witness this Moog-y majesty in person.
EYE were the final band to be added to the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer, and what they bring to the lineup is something distinct from every other group involved. Their lush, melodically rich progressive psychedelia is utterly spaced in its atmosphere, but still maintains an emotional crux, as the swirling synth and guitar, vocal harmonies and contemplative rhythms display across their first two albums leading up to this one. If I wanted to, I don’t think I could be more thrilled to have EYE as a part of this show, and the fact that they come on the eve of issuing their new album with the prospect of playing new material only enhances that enthusiasm.
Joining EYE at The Obelisk All-Dayer are Mars Red Sky, Death Alley, Snail, Kings Destroy, Funeral Horse, King Buffalo and Heavy Temple, as well as DJs Adzo and Walter Roadburn, who’ll handle aftershow duties. It’s going to be incredible. Don’t miss it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ll be honest. These guys dropped me a line, caught me at the right moment, I checked out the record and dug what they were doing and that’s why I’m putting up a post about the album being released when it was over a month ago. Because I think the release is worth noting, and if you, like me, hadn’t yet checked out Ohio trio Pale Grey Lore and their self-titled debut, currently available digitally and on CD, then, well, you might want to go head and get yourself introduced.
The band was kind enough to give me some background on who they are and what they do and while I’ve still got digging in to do before I’ll be ready to review it properly, I think the description of their mission provided sums up the scope of the record pretty well, particularly when it comes to words like “psych” and “concise.” On early impression, it is strikingly efficient for a first album. I dig it.
Info, links and audio:
Pale Grey Lore debut album
Pale Grey Lore began as a collaboration between brothers Michael (guitar, vocals) and Adam Miller (drums), with Donovan Johnson (bass) joining up in the summer of 2014. Drawing upon elements of psych, doom, sludge, post-punk, and garage rock, Pale Grey Lore create groove-laden, fuzzed-out songs that are spacey yet concise. Their debut self-titled album, released in June of 2016, was engineered by Andy Sartain at Mindfield Recording and Mixing and mastered by Harold LaRue.
Conceived as a series of surreal vignettes, each track depicts allegorical scenes from a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world in which the lines between science and the occult, technology and superstition, are hopelessly blurred.
Guitar, vocals, theremin – Michael Miller Drums – Adam Miller Bass – Donovan Johnson
Music by Pale Grey Lore Lyrics by Michael Miller Recorded, engineered and mixed by Andy Sartain Mastered by Harold LaRue Cover art by Joel Chastain
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
A couple months ago, while out on a run with The Obsessed and Karma to Burn — Tone Deaf is killing it with the package tours this year — bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik of The Atomic Bitchwax sustained an injury to his arm that forced the band to cancel about half the dates. Sierra filled in, but still kind of a bummer for the stalwart NJ trio, whose 2015 Tee Pee Records album, Gravitron (review here), was among the year’s finest.
No doubt they’d get back out, and this time they’ll be headlining a coast-to-coast stint with Ohio’s Lo-Pan and Memphis blues rockers The Dirty Streets. For Lo-Pan, it will mark the four-piece’s first tour with new guitarist Chris Thompson, who was just announced as having joined the band earlier this week. They’re on the tour from Aug. 19 through Aug. 27 only, it looks like, so presumably the next night will serve as their stop at Psycho Las Vegas. The Dirty Streets, on the other hand, have an off-night as the Bitchwax and Lo-Pan roll into Tucson on Aug. 27, so I guess that’s when they’ll be playing the Vegas megafestival.
In any case, glad to see The Atomic Bitchwax heading off again and continuing to keep excellent company. Dates were posted by the band:
USA!! Arm is healed up so let’s try this again!!
THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (ALL DATES) W/ LO PAN (8/19-9/27) and THE DIRTY STREETS (8/19-9/10 excluding 8/27) 08/19/2016 Charlotte NC The Milestone w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/20/2016 Hattiesburg MS The Tavern w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/21/2016 New Orleans LA Siberia w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/22/2016 San Antonio TX Limelight w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/23/2016 Houston TX White Oak Music Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/24/2016 Austin TX Grizzly Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/25/2016 Ft Worth TX Rail Club w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/26/2016 Albuquerque NM Ned’s Bar w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets 08/27/2016 Tucson AZ Flycatcher w/ Lo-Pan 08/28/2016 San Diego CA Soda Bar w/ The Dirty Streets 08/29/2016 Los Angeles CA Viper Room w/ The Dirty Streets 08/30/2016 San Francisco CA Elbo Room w/ The Dirty Streets 08/31/2016 Portland OR Dante’s w/ The Dirty Streets 09/01/2016 Vancouver BC Biltmore w/ The Dirty Streets 09/02/2016 Seattle WA El Corazon w/ The Dirty Streets 09/03/2016 Bellingham WA Shakedown w/ The Dirty Streets 09/06/2016 Minneapolis MN Grumpy’s w/ The Dirty Streets 09/07/2016 Chicago IL Double Door w/ The Dirty Streets 09/08/2016 Cleveland OH Grog Shop w/ The Dirty Streets 09/09/2016 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie w/ The Dirty Streets 09/10/2016 Brooklyn NY Black Bear w/ The Dirty Streets
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been under two months since Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan announced the departure of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, who was added to the band late in 2014 following the release of their fourth album, Colossus (review here), via Small Stone. They’ve now posted word that Chris Thompson has joined in Zambrano‘s stead, and though they’ve said they’re already writing new songs, they’re still playing it close to the chest on the status of the tracks they recorded when Zambrano was still in the group, among them the absolutely stellar “Pathfinder,” which they brought to stages earlier this year on their tour with Bongzilla (review here).
The timing is noteworthy because Lo-Pan, who it seems are never off the road for long, are confirmed to play Psycho Las Vegas next month. I don’t know how much of a factor that has been for their making a decision on a quick turnaround, but it’s a chance to be part of arguably the best heavy-festival lineup that’s ever been put together in the US, and I think if you were going to find a guitarist in time for any gig, that would probably be the one. I doubt Lo-Pan would hire a guitarist who isn’t at this point, but if Thompson is up for touring, it seems likely the four-piece will announce more dates in the weeks or months to come for before the end of the year and likely into 2017, when a new album — whenever it’s recorded and whoever might be playing on it — would be released.
That’s all speculation, of course. And speculation on top of speculation.
In any case, good luck to Thompson — who also plays in Sleepers Awake and shares his last name with bassist Scott Thompson; I thought perhaps there was some relation, but the band confirmed not — and of course to the rest of Lo-Pan as well, the lineup rounded out by drummer Jesse Bartz and vocalist Jeff Martin. Hope to see the new incarnation soon.
Here’s there announcement and the ceremonial photo:
Please help us welcome our new guitarist Chris Thompson. Chris is a very talented guy and we are lucky to have him. Lo-Pan is back in action and we are already working on new material. Lots of good stuff coming soon including a new release and, as always, more tour dates. Stay tuned.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This September, Ohio heavy rockers Valley of the Sun continue their Euro-minded focus with a tour supporting their latest album, Volume Rock (review here). That record, released by Fuzzorama, has come out since the band was last on European turf earlier this Spring, and not that it necessarily needed to, but it reaffirmed Valley of the Sun‘s general kickassness, marking the next step in the progression of their songwriting while holding onto the crisp presentation that has made their work to-date so refreshing sounding.
They’ll team up with Parisian rockers Dot legacy — who from what I hear have a new album of their own currently in progress — for the tour, which is presented by Total Volume Agency. Whenever it might arrive, their next outing will be the follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), which was issued on Setalight Records.
Valley of the Sun offered some comment on heading abroad once again. Find that followed by the dates below:
“We’re really excited to be headed back to Europe to continue the support of our latest album, Volume Rock, hitting a lot of territories we missed last Spring. We’re equally as excited that our good friends in Dot Legacy will be along for the ride!” — Valley of the Sun.
Tour booked by Total Volume Agency: 22/09 UK Manchester / Rebellion 23/09 UK London / TBA 24/09 UK Bristol / TBA 26/09 AVAILABLE 27/09 BE Malle / Jeugdhuis Babylon 28/09 BE Gent / Kinky Star 29/09 FR Caen / La Demeurée 30/09 FR Nantes / La Scène Michelet 01/10 FR Paris / Espace B 03/10 FR Poitiers / Le Cluricaume 04/10 CH Olten / Le Coq d’Or *EXCLUSIVE SWISS SHOW* 05/10 AVAILABLE 06/10 DE Berlin / Urban Spree 07/10 DE Halle (Saale) / Rockpool eV 08/10 DE Chemnitz / Zukunft 09/10 AVAILABLE 11/10 RO Cluj-Napoca / The Shelter 12/10 RO Bucharest / Fabrica Club 13/10 BG Sofia / Mixtape 14/10 GR / TBC 15/10 GR Athens / Death Disco
Valley Of The Sun: Aaron Boyer – Drums Ringo Jones – Bass Chris Harrison – Guitar Ryan Ferrier – Guitar, Vocals
Posted in Reviews on June 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Perhaps it’s hard to believe Cincinnati riffers Valley of the Sun are only on their second LP because the band came out of the gate so assured in their approach. Since their early going with a 2010 demo and the 2011 EP The Sayings of the Seers (review here), the group — with the core duo of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer now joined by bassist Ringo Jones and guitarist Chris Harrison — have given the impression of knowing exactly what kind of band they want to be. Some groups flounder early, finding themselves, and I won’t knock that, but through The Sayings of the Seers and the 2014 debut LP, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here), Valley of the Sun have left no question as to their intent.
They excel at delivering driving, fuzzed-out heavy rock and roll marked by quality songwriting, clever shifts in tempo and feel, and a crispness to their presentation. Their second album, Volume Rock — out, like the debut, on Fuzzorama Records — continues the thread and brings a new batch of material that has already seen them back on the road in Europe, growing their reputation among US riff exports. Like its predecessor, Volume Rock traffics in air-tight structures and demonstrates a clear sense of control on the part of the band — it may or may not have been recorded with just Ferrier and Boyer, I don’t know; they’re the only ones in the pictures — who begin by showing something of a playful side with stick clicks at the start of opener “Eternal Forever” before unfolding a varied but uniformly well executed push of riffs and desert-style vibes.
“Eternal Forever” is an energetic launch to Volume Rock, immediately earning the album’s title, but also a setup when taken in combination with the subsequent two tracks, “Wants and Needs” and the shorter “The Hunt” (video premiere here). All three are barnburners, Valley of the Sun careening at top or near-top speeds through, building momentum as the hook of “Eternal Forever” and the handclaps in “Wants and Needs” and Ferrier‘s vocals leave impressions behind from the blur. That momentum hits a peak with “The Hunt,” which is perhaps the most efficient inclusion here at a speedy, lean 2:19, but it pairs with “Land of Fools,” the longest cut at 5:45 which reimagines the central start-stop rhythm of Truckfighters‘ “Monte Gargano” during its verse and signals a clear shift into Volume Rock‘s next phase.
There’s an instrumental bridge in the second half, but much of the additional runtime comes just from Valley of the Sun riding the chorus, which they’re right to do. The entire track is a hook, and one of the record’s best, and followed by the slower, bigger-sounding “I Breathe the Earth,” which enacts its nod early and doesn’t let go for its duration, weaving through solos early and late amid well-positioned verses, non-lyric vocals following the riff, and call and response thrust along by Boyer‘s crash. Momentum from the opening salvo continues to carry Valley of the Sun forward, even as they begin to push outward from the directness of, say, “Wants and Needs,” but anyplace they go, they never fail to invite the listener along for the trip, and that accessibility proves to be one of Volume Rock‘s greatest strengths.
In accordance with that, Volume Rock is also the most identifiable as themselves that Valley of the Sun has ever sounded. Their beginnings drew heavily from tipping a balance to one side or another of Kyuss and Fu Manchu, and Ferrier‘s vocals still have some of that John Garcia gut-push, but the subtle shift of these elements into something more of the band’s own is evident in the starts and stops and melody of “Speaketh the Shaman,” a mid-paced, catchy groover that opens fluidly in its chorus. The roots from which they’re working are still discernible, but no less discernible is what Valley of the Sun are adding of themselves to that mix. “Beneath the Veil” returns to the kick-in-the-ass ethic of the album’s start, leading to a gradual slowdown with “Solstice” and “Empty Visions,” which closes out on a note akin to “Breathe the Earth,” but suitably placed as the finale for Volume Rock as a whole.
As they make their way out with one last hook brought to its apex, Valley of the Sun offer reinforcement of their progression, the soul in their approach that’s there despite its clean presentation, and the utter lack of pretense that has defined them for the last six years. When I first heard The Sayings of the Seers, I tagged them as having the potential to be one of the best of an upcoming generation of heavy rock. They’ve had lineup shifts since then and have turned their focus toward touring Europe exclusively, but in terms of the quality of their material, the raw craftsmanship of it, they continue to excel. And at this point, still just two albums deep, it only seems fair to expect no less.