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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan have announced the departure of guitarist Adrian Zambrano from their lineup. Zambrano joined the Columbus-based four-piece late in 2014 to fill the role initially occupied by Brian Fristoe, and accompanied the band on their inaugural European tour last year as well as US dates earlier in 2016 with Black Cobra, Bongzilla and Kings Destroy (review here).
His leaving is a genuine surprise. Lo-Pan have most if not all of a new album recorded as a follow-up to their fourth outing, 2014’s Colossus (review here), and Zambrano‘s departure, which the band notes is amicable, leaves it to question what’s to become of those songs and those recordings of them in particular. Of course, the bigger and more immediate issue is who’s going to take over that spot in the band — riffs aren’t exactly a small part of what they do — but the future is yet uncertain or at least unannounced for what would have been and may still be his studio debut with Lo-Pan, now also a swansong for this incarnation of their lineup.
Zambrano, who also plays in Brujas del Sol, excelled in the guitarist position while he had it. I was fortunate enough to see Lo-Pan with him twice and both times he added a presence and energy alongside drummer Jesse Bartz, bassist Scott Thompson and vocalist Jeff Martin that only added to the force of their stage delivery. Should probably go without saying, but good luck to him and good luck to the band in finding somebody to handle guitar. When and if I hear more about their next release, I’ll let you know.
Lo-Pan are currently slated to play Psycho Las Vegas in August. Here’s the statement from the band:
Our guitarist Adrian Zambrano has decided he needs to walk away from Lo-Pan at this time to focus on some other important parts of life. We would like to emphasize that this is an amicable split and we wish him all the best. We are currently on the hunt for a new guitarist and we hope to see you all again as soon as possible. Stay tuned for announcements and new music.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The forthcoming Longing for Infection is reportedly one of two long-players that filth-coated, lock-up-the-meds Ohio sludgers Fistula will issue this year, to be followed by The Shape of Doom to Cumm))) this fall, which will also correspond to a return trip to Europe in October. Knowing the festival of festivals happening in Europe during that time — Up in Smoke, Desertfest Athens, Desertfest Belgium, Keep it Low — I can’t help but wonder if they might get picked up for any of them. The Desertfest(s) would seem the most likely candidates, but you never know.
In any case, Longing for Infection will be out July 15 and lead track “Too Many Devils and Drugs” is streaming now. Unsurprisingly, it sounds completely fucked.
From the PR wire:
FISTULA: Ohio Kings Of Sludge-Fueled Miserycore To Release Longing For Infection Full-Length; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available
Long-running Ohio volume abusers, FISTULA, will self-release their Longing For Infection full-length this Summer. The scathing follow-up to the band’s critically-adored 2014 sludge opus, Vermin Prolificus, Longing For Infection was recorded and engineered by Dave Johnson (Midnight, Incantation, Soulless) and features the return of FISTULA founding member Bahb Branca on second guitar, furthering the band’s already torrid brand of sonic violence.
Set for mass contamination on July 15th, 2016, the first pressing of Longing For Infection will be limited to one-thousand copies housed in digipak packaging bathed in the abysmal artwork of Jason Barnett. Preorders are currently available atTHIS LOCATION.
Longing For Infection Track Listing: 1. Too Many Devils And Drugs 2. Morgue Attendant 3. The Big Turnout 4. Destitute 5. Smoke Acid Shoot Pills 6. Loyal To The Foil 7. Detox
Nearing two decades of ear bleeding, FISTULA remains the kings of doomed-out “miserycore.”
2015 saw the band at its creative peak, headlining the Het Patronaat stage at Roadburn Festival and recording the Destitute demo as well as the new full studio album Longing For Infection. In addition to Roadburn, FISTULA recently played the Haunted Hotel 13th Anniversary Fest as well as the Berserker III Fest. FISTULA will return to Europe (Bloodshed Festival) in October 2016 to bring their ultimate onslaught of pure, unbridled hatred, and negativity. FISTULA will release another full-length this Fall coinciding with the tour on Totem Cat Records. Entitled The Shape Of Doom To Cumm ))), the record will feature guest guitarist David Szulkin from Blood Farmers and Church Of Misery. Stand by for details.
Personnel responsible for all that racket: Corey Bing – guitar/backups Bahb Branca – guitar/backups Dan Harrington – vocals Buddy Peel – bass Jeff Sullivan – drums
Posted in Reviews on May 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Like several others often lumped into a retro categorization with a mind toward aesthetic longevity, Electric Citizen have modernized. To be fair, the Cincinnati four-piece’s 2014 RidingEasy Records debut, Sateen (review here), did indeed tap into a vintage feel, but while the second album, Higher Time, might still draw influence from brash ’70s heavy rock, the sound is full, modern and built on a foundation of air-tight, lean songwriting and a stellar performance from vocalist Laura Dolan, who positively owns this material. Prior to its release, Electric Citizen — Dolan and husband Ross Dolan on guitar as well as bassist Randy Proctor and drummer Nate Wagner — put out word they were looking for a full-time keyboardist, and listening to Higher Time cuts like “Evil,” the shaker-inclusive “Misery Keeper,” “Devils in the Passing Time,” “Ghost of Me,” “Crux” and “Two Hearted Woman,” it’s easy to understand why they might.
Performed here by Andrew Higley and Yusef Quota (the latter on “Ghost of Me”), organ and/or whatever more specific keys do a lot of the work in keeping Higher Time in league with a traditional sensibility as much as it wants to be — Ross‘ riffs deserve some credit there as well — but what’s even more striking about Electric Citizen‘s sophomore outing is the level of progression it has shown from where the band was two years ago. That’s not an accident, of course. Electric Citizen busted their collective ass and have been on the road in the US and more recently Europe pretty much since their inception, touring on their own and with Pentagram and Fu Manchu, among others. That tour-work feels evident in the brisk performance Laura delivers on vocals, which is a defining feature of the album as a whole.
Granted, it couldn’t be without the songwriting behind it, so maybe there’s something of a two-fold narrative when it comes to Higher Time, which marks both Dolan‘s emergence as a frontwoman and a pivotal signal of intent when it comes to the band’s songcraft. I was not kidding above when I called the writing lean. That might be understating it. While definitely produced-sounding, cuts like “Evil,” “Social Phobia,” “Devils in the Passing Time,” and even side B’s “Ghost of Me” and “Natural Law” — which offer a one-two punch of Sabbathian intent, nodding at “Children of the Grave” and “Wheels of Confusion,” respectively — have almost zero wriggle room; nothing that might for one second pull the listener out of the song. Even the title-track, which is the longest inclusion here at 5:36 appearing toward the middle of the tracklisting and presumably the start of side B, holds itself together through swirling guitar and keyboard effects as it makes ready to shift into a sci-fi atmospheric spoken word part leading to a build back into a solo from Ross, who shines in his role leading the instrumental trio behind Laura.
That said, as with the best classic-styled heavy rock, Proctor and Wagner are the foundation on which the Dolans are able to stand so tall, Wagner‘s drums propulsive on “Social Phobia” and “Ghost of Me” and no less a standout for the swing brought to the particularly memorable “Misery Keeper” and “Devils in the Passing Time,” two landmark-feeling impressions pushed toward the front of the record so that the swagger of the latter can add to the bluesy delivery of Laura‘s vocals, almost pouting but soulful. Ross adds far-back soloing to the verses in “Golden Mean,” which ends the album’s first half, and assures that momentum is on Electric Citizen‘s side as they push into the second, through “Higher Time,” and “Ghost of Me” and “Natural Law,” which follow.
A side-split structure is important to the overarching impression the album makes. It’s kind of a tenet of the heavy ’10s that a full-length would be divided into two component halves — at this point it would be stranger if Higher Time were set up linear-style, like a CD — but while clearly given to a flowing two-sided listening experience, it’s no less important to keep in mind that Higher Time is a collection of songs. It’s not a front-to-back concept album, it’s not a series of interconnected jams — it’s a precisely executed 40-minute offering comprised of 10 individual pieces that come across as though they’ve been fine-tuned either on stage or in the studio, but to a degree at which there isn’t anything left to chip away to get at the essentials of heavy rock. The grooving penultimate take, “Crux,” is hardly Higher Time‘s most essential cut — that might be “Evil” or “Devils in the Passing Time” — but even it has purpose behind its Uncle Acid-style bounce, and it serves to expand the palette of the album as a whole while still keeping consistent with its surroundings in terms of style.
I won’t decry the songwriting ability Electric Citizen showed on Sateen at all, but in addition to growing into a bigger sound, they’ve also grown into a unit with more chemistry and force behind their thrust. So it is that Higher Time builds on what they accomplished last time without being held back by a sense of subgenre. There are elements of it that are unabashedly, unashamedly pop-minded, and that suits Electric Citizen well and hasn’t come at the expense ether of their sonic heft or stylistic nuance. No question they are more themselves on Higher Time, and with Laura‘s voice tying together the various moods between the songs, Electric Citizen follow-up their first album with one that shows no less potential for where they might go and what they might do next.
Today I’m ridiculously pleased to announce that lush progressive heavy psych rockers EYE will play the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer on Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, NY.
By the time Aug. 20 gets here, EYE will have very likely issued Vision and the Ageless Light, their third full-length and first for The Laser’s Edge. The album arrives following a grueling three-year wait since EYE‘s last release, 2013’s Second Sight (review here), and features new guitarist Jon Finley and new bassist Michael Sliclen alongside founders Lisa Bella Donna (synth) and Brandon Smith (drums), embarking on an expansion of the melodically resonant poise they showed last time out and on their 2011 debut, Center of the Sun (review here).
I’ve been fortunate enough to see EYE live, and their flowing, patient, heavy and thoughtful material is a perfect fit for The Obelisk All-Dayer. If you haven’t been introduced, their latest outing was 2014’s Live at Relay (review here), which brought together two massive, 19-minute cosmic explorations captured, as the title indicates, completely on the move. The textures they’re able to create on those songs push through atmospheric boundaries to create something as spaced-out as it is plotted, and EYE steer their ship with a rare grace as they move further and further away from terra firma.
Bella Donna had this to say about playing: “We are equally excited to rip some music as well as listen during the festival. We are very big fans of The Obelisk and our full intention is to celebrate that energy and the momentum that JJ has already elevated. We have a lot of new sounds and vibes flowing in our music, so we’re excited to bring them to the already great host of music we’ll get the opportunity to listen and party to.”
EYE join the previously announced Mars Red Sky, Snail, King Buffalo and Funeral Horse on the bill for The Obelisk All-Dayer. Tickets are available now. Three more bands still TBA.
The Obelisk All-Dayer is Aug. 20, 2016, at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York, and will feature full sets, after-show DJs, food truck on-hand, live recordings, limited edition merch and much more. Stay tuned for announcements to follow.