Troubled Horse Post Video for “Bring My Horses Home”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

…Like two weeks ago.

I usually like to think of myself as being pretty up to date on this kind of thing, but Troubled Horse‘s new video for “Bring My Horses Home” slipped through the cracks, I guess. Not sure why. Not like I’ve had a lot going on lately or anything like that.

Anyway, better late than never. You could probably say the same thing for the video itself, as it’s been two years since Troubled Horse‘s full-length debut, Step Inside (review here), was released on Rise Above Records. If I’m working behind the times (which I am, always), at least I’m not the only one, but actually, making a video — it was directed by Jonas Wahlstrand — so long after the album came out basically has the effect of reminding listeners of how badass that record was in the first place. Two years later, one might not reach for Step Inside with the same regularity as when it first hit, so along comes “Bring My Horses Home,” and wham, the “Whoa-oh-oh” chorus gets stuck in the head again like it never left.

Because god damn, this song is catchy. The Örebro band’s ties to Witchcraft‘s retro-rocking glory days notwithstanding, frontman Martin Heppich carries the chorus with perfect drunkard’s swagger, and as Troubled Horse are reportedly getting ready to unveil details of their second long-player, a reissue of their original 2010 single — which just happened to have “Bring My Horses Home” as its A-side — provides further occasion to revisit the track ahead of their next outing.

So it’s off to the woods, then. Filmed as a four-piece, though they’re are apparently five of them now if the photo above is anything to go by, “Bring My Horses Home” is dark and engaging and only leaves the question about where that organ sound is coming from so deep in the forest.


Troubled Horse, “Bring My Horses Home” official video

Troubled Horse on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

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Blues Pills Self-Titled Debut Coming Aug. 5 on Nuclear Blast

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

For a band to bring together members from four different nations is complicated enough, but Blues Pills, who seem to have settled in Swedish retro/heavy rock hotspot Örebro (home to Truckfighters, Witchcraft, etc.), make a fluid debut with their self-titled. The record is set to land on North American shores on Aug. 5 via Nuclear Blast (July 25 in Europe), and it follows the Devil Man EP and a Live at Rockpalast recording issued on the label last year, a buzz having more or less build around the four-piece since their demo surfaced in 2010 and their first single arrived in 2011.

They’ll play the Totem Psych Fest on July 25 in Italy, will play other fests all summer and have tour dates booked this fall around appearances at Desertfest in Belgium and the Up in Smoke and Keep it Low fests in October. More to come, I’m sure. Here’s the album info off the PR wire:

Multicultural Rock Band BLUES PILLS to Release Self-Titled Debut August 5

Örebro, Sweden-based blues rock force BLUES PILLS will release its debut LP Blues Pills on August 5 via Nuclear Blast Records. The stunning young American-Swedish-French quartet, featuring vocalist Elin Larsson, drummer Cory Berry, bassist Zack Anderson and 17- year-old guitar phenom Dorian Sorriaux, are wise beyond their years, creating unique, intense and extraordinary rock music fueled by the timeless greats. The highly-anticipated follow up to 2013′s Devil Man EP, Blues Pills was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden with producer Don Alsterberg (Graveyard, Horisont) and is advanced by the release of the blowback lead single “High Class Woman”.

Led by sensational Swedish songstress Elin Larsson, whose powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs, BLUES PILLS is a true musical experience; one we thought was long gone, lost forever in time. Larsson’s incredible, soul-filled vocals and siren-like presence recalls Hall of Fame heroines such as Etta James, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, impressively guiding and corralling the group’s deep dynamics; driving bass lines, tasty, fiery guitars and overarching hard edge that call for comparison to early hard rock and heavy metal greats such as UFO, Rainbow, Fleetwood Mac, Cream and the kingly Led Zeppelin.

Simply stated, BLUES PILLS create a beautiful and powerful mix of both old and new, mashing the sounds of legendary rock and soul pioneers while incorporating their own distinctive marks. The end result is impeccable, nearly-timeless blues-based power rock. Hearing is believing!

The album’s cover art was created by world renowned artist and musician Marijke Koger-Dunham, hailed as the mother of psychedelic art. Koger-Dunham designed clothing for The Beatles and Cream, created custom-painted instruments for John Lennon, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, printed posters sold at the counter culture shops of the day and was commissioned as a muralist to exercise her talents in large format for The Beatles’ Apple Boutique on Baker Street. Her striking artwork was chosen by the band because, in their own words, “it is a representation of the balance of life, as shown in all the symbolism of natural duality such as darkness and light, sun and moon, life and death. It shows how opposite forces are interconnected and compliment each other to form a whole. Besides that, it looks absolutely amazing!” Can you dig it?

Track listing:
1.) High Class Woman
2.) Ain’t No Change
3.) Jupiter
4.) Black Smoke
5.) River
6.) No Hope Left for Me
7.) Devil Man
8.) Astralplane
9.) Gypsy (Chubby Checker cover)
10.) Little Sun

Blues Pills is available for pre-order purchase now at this location.

Blues Pills, “High Class Woman” from Blues Pills (2014)

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Friday Full-Length: Asteroid, Asteroid

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Asteroid, Asteroid (2007)

I didn’t hear the 2007 self-titled debut from Swedish fuzz rockers Asteroid until two years later, but even half a decade after that, it remains a record I’ve gone back to over time when the situation calls for something brilliantly laid back, heavy, fuzzed out and catchy. There’s a band now from Ohio called Doctor Smoke; the closing track on this album is where they got their name. And while at nearly an hour long, the Örebro trio made their first outing a considerable undertaking, that song makes an excellent place to wind up as the journey rounds out.

And it is that. For all its stoner rocking charm, Asteroid‘s debut has a psychedelic flow underlying that would come more to the fore in 2010 with the delightfully jammy II (review here), but can be heard in the funky groove in the verse of “Panoramic Telescope,” and elsewhere of course. One of the album’s chief strengths, however, is its sense of flow, how easy the material leads you along the full-length course, how smooth Asteroid sound. Impressive for a band of any experience, let alone for a debut. On summer nights, I’ve sat and looked at the stars with this album, and I’ve used it like a blanket in winter. There’s no time that “The 13th Witching Hour” doesn’t feel just right.

Asteroid released a 7″ late in 2012 (review here), and word got around last year they had signed to Small Stone, but nothing has surfaced as yet. I consider myself lucky to have heard them jam out some of this material at Desertfest London in 2012, and though Fuzzorama, who initially released both albums, just put out a new pressing of the second one, hopefully it’s not too long before Asteroid‘s jammy take gets another studio installment. Got my fingers crossed.

Also my eyes are crossed, but that’s just from being tired. I doubt it’s been a major consideration in your life either way, but if you were wondering at all where I’ve been the last two days, I’ve been getting ready to move. Yesterday, The Patient Mrs. and I closed on a condo in East Bridgewater — 16 minutes away as I timed the trip last night. We went there yesterday to start taking some stuff over and to clean. We’ve been packing for the better part of the last 10 days. Today was cleaning all day, from morning to night, and getting the internet set up. We’re back at the other place now, in Abington, and I’m pirating signal off one of the neighbors. Thanks and sorry to whoever it is.

The closing was originally supposed to be today. It’s good we bumped it up a day, with so much cleaning to do. People never vacuum. Fucking cruelty. It was hot over there and sleeping on an aerobed with two people sucks, and we still had more stuff to pack, so we came back here. Movers come in the morning. The Patient Mrs. leaves for Greece for a month tomorrow night at 10:45. Get ready for some classic “I miss my wife”-type shit, as I expect I’ll be there by the end of next week. No central air and no Patient Mrs. is gonna be a rough July, I expect.

But at least while I’m sitting in the new place all next week (and presumably the subsequent three weeks), unpacking, etc., at least I’ll have plenty of time to write, which I didn’t this week. Monday, look out for that Wo Fat instrumental stream. Was supposed to go up today, but there were 10 hours of vacuuming and dusting to do, so there you go. I’d also like to do a batch of radio adds, and I should be able to transcribe that Lowrider interview as well, so keep an eye out for that. It was a doozy.

So, moving tomorrow, more cleaning, saying goodbye to The Patient Mrs. for a month, etc., but hopefully things will be workable by Monday. Whatever you’re up to this weekend, I hope it’s a great time. It’s hot out there. Don’t forget to hydrate.

And please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Truckfighters, Universe: Call to Order

Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

When Swedish three-piece Truckfighters debuted in 2005 with Gravity X, it was clear they had a firm grip on the traditions of fuzz rock. That album bristled with desert and stoner influence; Kyuss, Fu Manchu, flourishes of countrymen acts like Dozer. There were flashes of brilliance in cuts like “Desert Cruiser” — which still opens all their shows with its clarion riff — and “Manhattan Project,” “In Search of (The)” and elsewhere.On 2007′s Phi, lineup changes brought a second guitar and though the output was quality, the dynamic didn’t work quite as well as the debut. Phi and subsequent touring led them to 2009′s Mania (review here), which seemed like the capstone on the decade of quality semi-revivalist fuzz. Progressive in songs like “The New High,” “Majestic” and “Con of Man,” the trio of vocalist/bassist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren and drummer Oscar “Pezo” Johansson proved there was more to their sound than riff worship and that they indeed had something to offer that even their Californian influences couldn’t at that point match: A future. It’s been four years since Mania – twice as long as all the other breaks between albums — and after years of road time across Europe and the US and losing Johansson to Witchcraft only to replace him with Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström, the trio from Örebro make a return with the long-awaited Universe on their own Fuzzorama Records. Self-sustaining between the label and recording in their own Studio Bombshelter, Truckfighters are a more mature band than they were four years ago, but they keep both the roots in fuzz from their earliest work and the progressive mindset of Mania intact on the 44-minute/seven-track Universe, resulting in a vinyl-minded flow that in longer cuts like “The Chairman” (7:54), “Get Lifted” (7:55) and closer “Mastodont” (13:54) pushes the boundaries of what Truckfighters have done before and blends that with catchy hooks and strong riffing on the shorter opener “Mind Control” (3:57), on “Prophet” (4:47) and the penultimate “Dream Sale” (4:30).

The tracklisting is ordered in alternating fashion, shorter song into longer, into shorter, and so on. Anomalous in this is standout and (what I imagine is) side B opener “Convention,” which clocks in at 1:40 and arrives before “Dream Sale” and “Mastodont.” One might expect an interlude or throwaway filler based on its runtime, but they actually launch and completely payoff an instrumental build in that time and manage to provide a hook as well. A lesson in efficiency, then. It’s not the first on Universe. From the gritty-to-full launch of “Mind Control” on through its signature Truckfightersian tonality and chorus, there’s little waste to be found. Cedermalm sounds clear, comfortable and dynamic as a vocalist and as the layers in the chorus of “Mind Control” illustrate, Truckfighters are continuing to do something they’ve always done: Making complex ideas sound easy. He pushes himself vocally throughout, perhaps most of all on “Get Lifted,” but between touring with Truckfighters and his tenure in Greenleaf supporting their 2012 outing, Nest of Vipers (review here) — he’s since left the band — there’s clearly growth evident in his approach and comfort with harmonies, as displayed both in “Mastodont,” which very much is the culmination of Universe, and in “Prophet,” which feels almost in direct conversation with the unceasing movement of “Monte Gargano” from Mania. Second cut “The Chairman,” which also served as the title-track for a late-2013 EP released by Fuzzorama and Last Hurrah Records, offers a glimpse  at Truckfighters‘ more exploratory tendencies, with Cedermalm starting on vocals before Källgren and Kvarnström join in and lead the way toward the first verse. The tone is fuzz but there’s an underlying thud to “The Chairman” in the bass and drums that works exceedingly well to give it a sense of gravity, and though they hold back on delivering the chorus, that only serves to make it all the more satisfying upon its arrival, Källgren soloing past the halfway point to a boogie break that leads to a payoff that is both a landmark within the album itself and a foreshadow for what “Get Lifted” and “Mastodont” will continue to build upon.

It’s worth pointing out that for as much as Universe was intentionally structured to feed shorter songs into longer ones, it has already mounted considerable momentum by the time “The Chairman” is done, getting quiet and wandering a bit in layers of acoustic and electric guitar with steady drum thump and subdued vocals before exploding into its apex just before seven minutes in, and positioned as it is, “Prophet” only keeps that push going. Kvarnström is steady on his kick for a desert rocker with a restrained verse with open guitar and underscoring bass rumble, and the song solidifies around its chorus, which is one of Universe‘s strongest. A full stop around the three-minute mark gears into full-on fuzz riffing for the bridge that builds, stops, repeats, and the drums circle around to establish the transition back to a final chorus, ending cold with a ringing cymbal that gives way to the silence from which “Get Lifted” fades in its bassline. Were it not for the level of execution shown in “Mastodont” and the diversity within that song, “Get Lifted” would be the high point of Universe. Its build is masterful, its hook infectious, and its linear construction only highlights how far Truckfighters have come as songwriters and how seamlessly Kvarnström has blended with the founding and core duo of Cedermalm and Källgren, being a player of both power and character. He’s rarely driving the material here — that’s mostly left to the guitar or bass — but in moments like that bridge in the back half of “Prophet” and in his transitions throughout “Get Lifted,” he’s no less fluid than either of the other two members, and at 2:25 when “Get Lifted” launches from its quiet start to full-breadth, full-weight rocking, he doesn’t oversell it, doesn’t overplay it, just rides the groove with class. Like “The Chairman” before it, “Get Lifted” teases its chorus before it actually unveils the thing, but they get there around the halfway point and though Cedermalm‘s vocals are deep in the mix as if to suggest he’s being swallowed by the fuzz emanating from his and Källgren‘s amps, you just know in listening that a bigger payoff is soon to arrive.

Read more »

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Video Premiere: Truckfighters Unveil New Clip for “Prophet” from Universe

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

While I wouldn’t expect the track to be any more indicative of the overall scope of Universe than “Monte Gargano” was when it came to the expansive sound the band presented on 2009′s Mania, it’s good to hear Truckfighters‘ fuzz once again, and “Prophet” has me anticipating the new album’s arrival even more than I already was. True, it was pretty recently that the riff-rocking trio from Örebro — who one gets the sense are just beginning to make their mark on North American shores — unleashed their EP based around “The Chairman” (video here), but a full-length release is a different beast entirely and I can’t wait to hear the context that surrounds “Prophet” when the time comes. It’s going to be a fuzzy start to the New Year.

Truckfighters Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm on bass/vocals, Niklas “Dango” Källgren on guitar and Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström on drums — will issue Universe through their own Fuzzorama Records on Feb. 4. They’re taking pre-orders through PledgeMusic now, and one can expect they’ll support the album with a massive run of touring. They’ve been to the US a couple times the last few years (the latest was this summer), and that was before even The Chairman got released, so that’s an awful lot of work to put in not to return and hopefully reap the reward. Until they make their appearance at SXSW next year, we’re left with drips and drops ahead of the new long-player, and as the first audio from Universe made public, “Prophet” shows some of the moodier side of the band.

Not at all surprisingly, they’ve kept the desert rock tonality that’s made their recorded output so essential, but Mania saw them expand their emotional and atmospheric reach with those tones, and “Prophet” seems to be continuing that progression. See for yourself as they quite literally get screwed in the video below, which was directed by Joerg Steineck (who also helmed the feature-length documentary about the band with Christian Maciejewski), and please enjoy:

TRUCKFIGHTERS to Release New Album “Universe” February 4

Swedish Hard Rock Buzz Band Sets Sights on North American Takeover Including Major Touring, Appearance at SXSW 2014

Scandinavian power trio TRUCKFIGHTERS will release its fourth studio LP Universe in North America on February 4 via Fuzzorama Records. The spectacular Swedish band, who Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme has called “not just the best band I’d ever heard, but the best band that ever existed” and who has created some of the best stoner rock records of the last decade, describes the new album as simply “the ultimate fuzz.” Universe supercharges the riff-heavy roots of TRUCKFIGHTERS’ signature sound while charting a more progressive, challenging path — a hybrid of fuzz and prog — with an increased focus on textures and dense arrangements loaded with engaging melodies and outstanding musicianship. These advancements don’t come at the expense of the catchy and heavier aspects of the group’s sound, rather it shoots TRUCKFIGHTERS psychedelically-tinged rock into rich and rewarding new dimensions. Universe is available for pre-order purchase now at this location.

With Universe, the ideas TRUCKFIGHTERS have offered since 2001 — a colossal, airtight rhythm section, psychedelically-tinged guitarmonies, teasing maneuvers/crushing payoffs and pure climactic catharsis — are realized with purpose and aim. From the sonic high arc of the opening cut “Mind Control” to the fuzzy riffs, vocal hooks and proggy passages of the leviathan-like “The Chairman” to the monstrous groove of “Convention” and through to the album-closing, tongue-in-cheek nod to buddies Mastodon (“Mastodont”), TRUCKFIGHTERS’ Universe is a definitive mission statement and an accurate portrait of a band that has molded its veracious desert session anthems into chiseled hard rock monoliths.

1.) Mind Control
2.) The Chairman
3.) Prophet
4.) Get Lifted
5.) Convention
6.) Dream Sale
7.) Mastodont

TRUCKFIGHTERS will tour North America extensively this spring in support of Universe, bringing its explosive energy and contagious enthusiasm to as many cities as possible. The band is also planning an appearance at the 2014 South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival, this coming March in Austin, TX. This, you won’t want to miss.

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Truckfighters to Release Universe on Feb. 4; Tracklisting and Details Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Not really much of a surprise that Truckfighters are coming back to North America to support the Feb. 4 release of their fourth album, Universe, but it’s nice to see it made official anyway. The Örebro trio will hit up SXSW and presumably a bunch of other cities as well, and hopefully some of the roadtime they’ve put in since the release of Mania in 2009 will pay off. That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Universe is pretty high on my list of gotta-hear records for 2014, so any news about it is good news as far as I’m concerned.

Can’t stop the PR wire today:

TRUCKFIGHTERS to Release New Album “Universe” February 4

Swedish Hard Rock Buzz Band Sets Sights on North American Takeover Including Major Touring, Appearance at SXSW 2014

Scandinavian power trio TRUCKFIGHTERS will release its fourth studio LP Universe in North America on February 4 via Fuzzorama Records. The spectacular Swedish band, who Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme has called “not just the best band I’d ever heard, but the best band that ever existed” and who has created some of the best stoner rock records of the last decade, describes the new album as simply “the ultimate fuzz.” Universe supercharges the riff-heavy roots of TRUCKFIGHTERS’ signature sound while charting a more progressive, challenging path — a hybrid of fuzz and prog — with an increased focus on textures and dense arrangements loaded with engaging melodies and outstanding musicianship. These advancements don’t come at the expense of the catchy and heavier aspects of the group’s sound, rather it shoots TRUCKFIGHTERS psychedelically-tinged rock into rich and rewarding new dimensions. Universe is available for pre-order purchase now at this location.

With Universe, the ideas TRUCKFIGHTERS have offered since 2001 — a colossal, airtight rhythm section, psychedelically-tinged guitarmonies, teasing maneuvers/crushing payoffs and pure climactic catharsis — are realized with purpose and aim. From the sonic high arc of the opening cut “Mind Control” to the fuzzy riffs, vocal hooks and proggy passages of the leviathan-like “The Chairman” to the monstrous groove of “Convention” and through to the album-closing, tongue-in-cheek nod to buddies Mastodon (“Mastodont”), TRUCKFIGHTERS’ Universe is a definitive mission statement and an accurate portrait of a band that has molded its veracious desert session anthems into chiseled hard rock monoliths.

1.) Mind Control
2.) The Chairman
3.) Prophet
4.) Get Lifted
5.) Convention
6.) Dream Sale
7.) Mastodont

TRUCKFIGHTERS will tour North America extensively this spring in support of Universe, bringing its explosive energy and contagious enthusiasm to as many cities as possible. The band is also planning an appearance at the 2014 South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival, this coming March in Austin, TX. This, you won’t want to miss. Or as Josh Homme said, “Beatles, Schmeatles; Rolling Stones, Rolling Bones. Truckfighters: that’s the good shit.”

Truckfighters, “The Chairman” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Witchcraft, Witchcraft

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Witchcraft, Witchcraft (2004)

I know the retro thing is getting kind of played out at this point with a lot of bands trying their best to sound like the heavy ’70s, and that even Witchcraft themselves moved on from the sound with last year’s Nuclear Blast debut, Legend (review here), but man, when their self-titled debut came out in 2004, it was a fucking revelation. It’s funny to think of a record that was trying to sound like classic albums becoming one, but I think you can point to the first Witchcraft as a major contributor to kickstarting the retro rock scene in Europe in the middle of the last decade. The 2005 follow-up, Firewood, would smooth out the aesthetic somewhat, but even that has to be a factor, and although so much has come along since one way or another working in a similar vein, these songs still have a swing to them that very few others have been able to capture. They were both behind the times and ahead of them.

Thanks to everyone so far who’s added a list to the Top 20 of 2013 Readers Poll! We’re over 120 contributions already and it’s hugely appreciated. I can’t wait to see which record comes out on top. Seriously. I’m such a nerd for this it’s ridiculous.

As George Carlin once asked, “What the hell am I doing in New Jersey?” It’s a fair question. I came down from Massachusetts on Wednesday night to see a couple shows and handle some work stuff that couldn’t be done remotely. Last night was Mountain God and Eggnogg in Brooklyn, tonight’s The Golden Grass and Weird Owl, also in Brooklyn. I wanted to close out the week before I headed into the city, and I might try to grab some dinner before I cross the river, which I don’t doubt will make the whole evening a more pleasant experience. Gotta get all my Jersey eats in while I can, even if it means more driving.

Tomorrow morning I’ll split out as early as I can stand it (and stand up) and head back north. I was thinking about trying to make the drive tonight, but it seems like that might be a false economy. Getting home so I can crash out until sometime tomorrow afternoon certainly has its appeal, but I’m pretty sure I’d be tired through the next week if I did that, then once you get into the holidays everything’s only more of a mess — one that, indeed, will include a trip south on I-95 — so maybe conserving energy as much as I can is the better course. Turns out I’m not 20 years old anymore. Funny how that works.

Next week I’ll be seeing both Monster Magnet and Queens of the Stone Age, so I should have reviews up accordingly. I’ll also have one for tonight’s The Golden Grass show, which I’ve been much anticipating, an overdue look at some Tia Carrera vinyl from Small Stone, I’m sure a bunch more fest news, and whatever else rears its head. This trip’s been such constant movement. It’ll be good to get back home.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whatever you might be up to.  Thank you again. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Truckfighters to Release New Album Universe on Jan. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s Truckfighters‘ universe, we’re all just living in it. The fuzz forerunner trio from Örebro already have a new EP, The Chairman, available, and they’ve backed that up with the announcement below that they’ll release a new full-length, titled Universe, in January 2014. This will be the first Truckfighters long-player since 2009′s spectacular third offering, Mania (review here), and it’s already high up on my gotta-have list for the New Year. Awesome.

The news just came down the PR wire:


It’s been almost five years since last time around but we are now delighted to announce the release of our fourth studio album, due Jan 24th, 2014.We’ve been working on this piece of art that we named ”Universe” the last year and more and are now satisfied to 100%.

We are so much looking forward to sharing our new music with you. Inspired by our touring over four continents, this album is the deepest and widest one we’ve done so far. Simply the best songs we’ve ever made. We feel confident you will like it a lot! Start the countdown, the fuzzy tones will open up a new Universe.

“Universe” will be released on Jan 24th, 2014, in Germany / Switzerland / Austria / Scandinavia & Finland, rest of the world to follow on Jan 27th / 28th onwards.


Universe will come with many many special incentives – so don’t miss it!

Pre-orders of the new album can already be placed through PledgeMusic:

This system is a fan friendly way to purchase the longplayer, but to also having it bundled in some special deals and w/ cool stuff associated with the new album. You can buy stuff here that you can not buy in any store, not even in our webshop. It also gives a percentage of profits to a charity organization.

We decided to donate our share (after reaching the campaign’s goal / 100%) to LIFEWATCH, a Swedish foundation that supports research targeting autism and cancer.

So not only you will purchase exclusive items nowhere else available, but also will purchase this for a good cause. We thaught this is an honorable way to offer out the album and all its exclusives. And – among those things we are offering – there is also a gig at your very own place!!!

+++ LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! +++

Just home from the Chairman Central European tour, we are alrady preparing for weekends in Sweden, Russia, and Norway the coming month.
Nov 01 KlubbFuzz – Gavle, Sweden
Nov 02 Dynamo – Norrköping, Sweden
Nov 16 Mod St. – Petersburg, Russia
Nov 17 Plan B Club – Moscow, Russia
Nov 27 Union Scene – Drammen, Norway
Nov 28 Hulen – Bergen, Norway
Nov 29 Checkpoint Charlie – Stavanger, Norway
Nov 30 Trashpop – Kristiansand, Norway
Dec 27 Sticky Fingers – Goteborg, Sweden

Greece is also on the map in January 2014:

Jan 10 An Club – Athens, Greece
Jan 11 Eightball – Thessaloniki, Greece

Big thanks to everone who came out to the shows in October. We hope you had a super good time just as we did. See you next time around! That next time around is not too far away from now. We can already alert you that the Truck from Örebro, Sweden, will conquer Europe in February / March 2014 again, more details on exact cities and venues to follow soon! Also, there are likely to be other continents on our roadmap in 2014, so stick around, we will alert you soon!!!

Please always check for exact live dates!

Truckfighters, “The Chairman” official video

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Truckfighters’ The Chairman Special Edition EP Available to Preorder; Band on Tour in Europe

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Attention fuzzdudes and fuzzladies: The new Truckfighters EP is available to pre-order. If you’re having trouble receiving this message, then check your fuzztenna. Repeat: TruckfightersThe Chairman EP can now be pre-ordered in a special edition through Last Hurrah Records — who, it should be noted, have also gone suitably all out in the packaging, what with the 12″ 45RPM vinyl and the variations on the colors with mixtures of opaque and transluscent. I’m not sure what the difference between “Desert Sunset” and “Desert Sunrise” might be, but I don’t mind the excuse to pick up an extra copy and find out.

Truckfighters are on tour in Europe now — dates below — and the EP is limited to 500 copies in the Last Hurrah edition. Check it out:

Pre-orders are now available for the Truckfighters The Chairman Special Edition EP multi-colored vinyl 12-inch. Sweden’s Truckfighters blaze an incendiary trail through high desert plains and mountains of stoner rock. Presented at 45 RPM for best possible sound quality, The Chairman Special Edition contains over 30 minutes of power “fuzz” and features the title track plus three live songs recorded on tour in Australia earlier this year.

The jacket cover artwork has spot UV gloss, spot PMS, and silver metallic ink designed by artist Lindsey Kuhn.

The 12-inch vinyl comes in two different vinyl colors: Desert Sunset and Desert Sunrise, each a mix of oqaque and translucent colors, limited to 500 copies (250 of each color).

Pre-order available here and should start shipping on October 31.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the record to arrive, check out the video for the title track “The Chairman” below…

Truckfighters European Tour Dates
02.10.13, [DE] LEIPZIG – UT Connewitz
03.10.13, [DE] ASCHAFFENBURG – Colos Saal
04.10.13, [DE] Dortmund – FZW (Visions Westend Festival)
05.10.13, [CH] Pratteln – Z7 (Up In Smoke Festival)
07.10.13, [FR] Nantes – Le Ferraeulier
08.10.13, [LX] Luxembourg – Rock Box
09.10.13, [NL] Rotterdam – Baroeg
10.10.13, [BE] Antwerp – Trix
11.10.13, [NL] Groningen – Vera
12.10.13, [DE] Siegen – Vortex
13.10.13, [DE] Karlsruhe – Alte Hackerei
15.10.13, [AT] Innsbruck – PMK
16.10.13, [IT ] Milan – Lo-Fi Club
17.10.13, [IT ] Bolzano – Point
18.10.13, [AT] Linz – Stattwerkstatt
19.10.13, [DE] Munich – Feierwerk
20.10.13, [DE] Bremen – Römer

Truckfighters, “The Chairman” official video

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Truckfighters Unveil “The Chairman” Video; New Tour Dates

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Where there are big rigs and fuzz, one must not be surprised to encounter Truckfighters. Sweden’s foremost deliverers of high-octane fuzz, fresh off a US tour, have today posted a new video for the eight-minute jammer “The Chairman,” from their upcoming EP of the same name. It’s the band’s first release in four years, so even more interesting to hear how they’ve progressed in that time from the riffy contemplations of Mania, and “The Chairman” finds the Örebro trio working in jazzy noodling guitars with the expected blast of energetic groove and underlying melody.

Seems like wherever these guys go sound-wise, they always manage to make it a good time. “The Chairman” will reportedly be joined by live tracks on the EP, but if this is the only taste we’re getting of new Truckfighters heading into 2014, which will hopefully bring a studio full-length, at least it’s a substantial one.


Truckfighters, “The Chairman” official video


Us being lazy? Don’t you dare even thinking of it. We just finished a full EP, featuring the video track “The Chairman”. It does feature a fuzzy live recording of “Desert Cruiser” (taped in Australia this year) and will be released on a nice heavyweight 10″ vinyl outside the US. Release date is Oct 4th outside North America.

In the US, the EP will come as a 4track 12″ vinyl, carrying 3 lengthy live tracks along “The Chairman”. The US version will be out later in October as well.

The digital EP always comes with 4 tracks and is available by Oct 4!


King Kurt called it the road to rack’n’ruin back in the 80s … Well, we just call it our living room. This is where we feel at home: on stage.

Join us for our “Chairman-Tour” in October, conquering almost 20 places and cities.

02.10.13, [DE] LEIPZIG – UT Connewitz
03.10.13, [DE] ASCHAFFENBURG – Colos Saal
04.10.13, [DE] Dortmund – FZW (Visions Westend Festival)
05.10.13, [CH] Pratteln – Z7 (Up In Smoke Festival)
07.10.13, [FR] Nantes – Le Ferraeulier
08.10.13, [LX] Luxembourg – Rock Box
09.10.13, [NL] Rotterdam – Baroeg
10.10.13, [BE] Antwerp – Trix
11.10.13, [NL] Groningen – Vera
12.10.13, [DE] Siegen – Vortex
13.10.13, [DE] Karlsruhe – Alte Hackerei
15.10.13, [AT] Innsbruck – PMK
16.10.13, [IT ] Milan – Lo-Fi Club
17.10.13, [IT ] Bolzano – Point
18.10.13, [AT] Linz – Stattwerkstatt
19.10.13, [DE] Munich – Feierwerk
20.10.13, [DE] Bremen – Römer

Still not enough truckfighting live-mania?

Well, we will play sweden and Norway in November as well, Russia, too. And for next year, we promise you a totally filled calendar full of Truckfighters dates around the globe. Keep checking with and with the newsletter!

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Live Review: Truckfighters, Kings Destroy, Iron Tides and Mirror Queen in Brooklyn, 08.19.13

Posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

A four-band bill at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar after a full workday with a drive to Massachusetts afterwards lurking on the horizon, moving ever closer to reality — I will say immediately that attending the opening night of Truckfighters‘ latest US tour was probably the least responsible decision I’ll make all week. Well, maybe not, but still: Resoundingly irresponsible. Part of doing it was proving to myself that I could, and sure enough, I came out of it on the other end alive, despite the best efforts of I-95′s endless stretch to claim my heavy eyelids as part of its likewise endless stream of trophies. Behold, the living dope.

But if you have to be an eternal sucker, at least an act like Truckfighters put on a show to make it worth your while. The Swedish trio of bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren and drummer Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström were joined by NYC locals Kings Destroy, Iron Tides and Mirror Queen on a surprisingly diverse and at times surprisingly aggressive lineup at the Vitus, and the night proved quickly to have been worth the commute there and back again. Mirror Queen, who were fresh back from a European jaunt with Tee Pee labelmates Earthless and The Atomic Bitchwax that included a stop at Stoned from the Underground sounded crisp and tight, and since the last time I saw them was on the Rocks off Concert Cruise in June, part of the fun this time out was watching their set not get toppled by the choppy waters of the East River.

Not that that wasn’t its own kind of excitement, I’m just saying it’s a little easier to get a sense of the chemistry between lead guitarist Phi Moon and guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal when they can stand up and play. That chemistry, as it happens, is formidable and was in top form at the Vitus bar, Moon tearing into technically and spiritually engaging press-me-to-8-track classic rock solos on the right side of the stage while Sehgal, bassist James Corallo and drummer Jeremy O’Brien jammed out on “Into the Nebula” from the band’s 2011 outing, From Earth Below. A contingent of (apparently Australian?) bros in the front of the stage wearing red Truckfighters tanktops quickly let it be known they were going to be the biggest douchebags in the room for the duration, and much sweaty man-on-man-but-supposedly-not-at-all-homoerotic moshing and grabassery did ensue.

That didn’t impede enjoyment of Mirror Queen, however, who round out as they did the last time I saw them with a jam on Captain Beyond‘s “Mesmerization Eclipse.” It’s a bouncing groove that’s always welcome in my cranium, but it did little in the end to foretell the aggression that would come with Brooklynites Iron Tides, who arrived with their own floodlites and an assortment of homemade-looking amps and cabinets — but for the Verellen heads behind bassist/vocalist Markus — to remind of the raw volume and power of earliest Zoroaster while keeping an underlying touch of New York noise in the jagged playing of guitarist Matt. They were loud, angry and, well, let’s go with “loud” again. Drummer Michele locked in impressive grooves throughout, and though Iron Tides had an EP for sale in the back (got it) that came out last year mixed and mastered by Hull drummer Jeff Stieber, most of what they played was reportedly new.

It was easy enough to guess that by Markus‘ remembering on stage who started what song, which gave their set a bit of humor and charm to go with its aggressive churning and tonal push. Their lights triggered by foot-switches, Iron Tides were nonetheless cohesive in their aesthetic and tight through the more angular aspects of their sound, which were complemented by stretches of ambience driven by Matt‘s guitar, sometimes seeming to nod at earlier Isis but never fully giving itself over to the heavy/atmospheric tradeoffs that have by now become post-metal cliche. Though their sound was obviously much different, I’d put Iron Tides in a similar category to Brooklyn heavy acts like Blackout and Polygamyst, who also take various familiar elements and seem to be making efforts to craft something of their own from them. Their effort in this regard and overall fervor were appreciated.

Kings Destroy hit probably the angriest set I’ve ever seen them play. Tossing in older cuts like “The Whittler” and “Dusty Mummy” alongside the newer “Blood of Recompense,” “The Toe” and “Turul” from this year’s A Time of Hunting (go buy it), they only seemed to get more pissed off after the aforementioned tanktop brigade — who, by the way, all matched — got into some hooliganry with vocalist Steve Murphy as he came down from the stage. I noted when one of them tried to pull him off again, the result was a fast as-he-was-jumping-to-the-floor kick square to the chest — no doubt a move leftover from Murphy‘s days in Uppercut. Laughed a bit at that.

Despite the shenanigans, Kings Destroy were tight and heavy as ever, made only more malevolent for the meanness that seemed to accompany their delivery. By the time they got around to “The Whittler,” it was like they were throwing the songs at you. They’re probably the single band I’ve seen most over the last two-plus years (live reviews here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and I already look forward to seeing them with Pelican in October if I don’t run into them between now and then — they’re playing Vitus again on Thursday with Caltrop, should you happen to be in town – so please take it as coming from the voice of experience (oh yeah, their first record also came out on The Maple Forum, so there’s that) when I say that it wasn’t a put-on, or “show-anger.” Whatever it was, they played like they were fucking pissed off and it came through in the songs. Even “Turul” at the end was nastier than I’ve ever heard it, and while it’s always had a certain undefinable sneer, with the quiet riffing from guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and the everyone-together-now timed hits driven by bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik there isn’t much room for all-out belligerence. They made room.

There seemed like a long break between Kings Destroy and Truckfighters, but once the latter got on stage, they were hard to miss. The crowd seemed to know the opening riff to “Desert Cruiser” was coming even before Källgren started playing it, and once Cedermalm and Kvarnström joined in, they locked in immediately from the start. I knew from seeing them at Desertfest in April that even with the new drummer addition they were as riotous as ever, and even though Kvarnström is a quieter presence behind the kit than was Oscar “Pezo” Johansson, now of Witchcraft, “Desert Cruiser” and longer jams like “Chameleon” from 2007′s Phi and “Last Curfew” from 2009′s Mania were as unbelievably tight as one could ask, the band stomping a sneaker print in the line between technical precision and showmanship as few can. I think Källgren alone put more energy into his performance than 90 percent of the entire bands I’ve seen this year, not including his own of course, jumping up and down, running back and forth, headbanging and all the rest.

And that’s the thing about Truckfighters. Because if they were just a band who got crazy on stage, you’d go, “Well okay, that’s cool,” and move onto the next thing. But not only are they out of their collective mind when they play, but over the years they’ve become increasingly progressive songwriters, so that a riff as epically memorable as that opening and comprising much of “Desert Cruiser” can exist next to a cut like “Majestic” from Mania, the sprawl of which outlasts even its 13-minute runtime, and they don’t miss a beat going from one to the next. Cedermalm tipped the mic into the crowd for the opening track, at one point Källgren jumped off the stage and made his way through to the bar in back of the Vitus, playing the whole time — I think it was during the jam on “Monte Gargano,” but don’t quote me on that — and when the set was over, Cedermalm also got off stage to add to his already considerable bass cacophony by running his strings on the torso of some kid in a Big Lebowski t-shirt. They’re fun to watch, but if they didn’t have the songs to back them up — which I’m glad to argue they do — they wouldn’t get beyond the novelty factor.

In the end, they obviously did, and I think they wore out the crowd in the process. I had competing impulses of exhaustion and dehydration fighting it out, but though I knew it was the wrong choice on a practical level, I didn’t at all regret inconveniencing later-me to see the show. Catching Truckfighters again as they started this tour was obviously the onus for my being there, but front-to-back it was a killer show. I didn’t make it all the way back to Massachusetts, but stopped in New Haven, CT, to crash for a few hours before resuming the trip this morning. I’ve felt like I got my ass kicked all day, but this one was well worth a beating.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Truckfighters Announce Release of The Chairman EP; US and Euro Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hope you’re ready for fuzzy times. Örebro-based megafuzzers Truckfighters are heading back to the States for a coast-to-coast run that starts in Brooklyn with Kings Destroy at the St. Vitus bar, and from there will head westward where they’ll perform with the likes of Fatso Jetson (in L.A.), Valley of the Sun (in Ohio) and a slew of other killer acts. In addition to that, the trio just announced a follow-up European tour for October that will coincide with the arrival of their new EP, The Chairman, which will be the first Truckfighters release since 2009′s golly-gee-whiz-that’s-a-good-record Mania (review here).

I had to cull the news from a couple different sources to get it all in for both tours, but what the hell, it’s Truckfighters. If they’re anywhere near as good at these shows as they were at Desertfest in London earlier this year, they’re going to leave scars:


Örebro, Sweden fuzz frontrunners TRUCKFIGHTERS have announced a U.S. headlining tour in support of their forthcoming new EP The Chairman. The highly respected trio – called “the best band that’s ever existed” by QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE frontman Josh Homme – will kick off the U.S. trek on August 19 in Brooklyn, NY. The two week trek will hit Philadelphia (August 20), Chicago (August 24), Los Angeles (August 27), Tucson (August 31) and more showcasing TRUCKFIGHTERS incredibly fuzz-tastic and electric live performance.

The band from Örebro (SWE) just announced its limited 10″ vinyl EP “THE CHAIRMAN” (also available as download) will be released on October 4th, once again via their very own and highly regarding label Fuzzorama Records!

Check out the EP’s cover art designed by Swedish artworker Jerker Josefsson! TRUCKFIGHTERS just revealed it.

(** The Chairman EP in the US will come in a different artwork and as a 12″ vinyl, also featuring a different tracklist than in the rest of the world **)

This release will be accompanied by an extended European tour, presenting the trio in its prime element: Live!
Please see the dates below :

TRUCKFIGHTERS U.S. tour dates:
August 19 New York, NY Saint Vitus Bar
August 20 Philadelphia, PA KungFu Necktie
August 21 New York, NY ** Secret Show **
August 22 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s bar
August 23 Rock Island, IL RIBCO
August 24 Chicago, IL Reggies Rock Club
August 24 Chicago, IL Bash On Wabash Street fest
August 25 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club
August 26 Cedar Rapids, IA Chez Beavun’s Garden of Fuzz
August 27 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite
August 29 San Diego, CA The Griffin
August 30 Palm Desert, CA The Hood Bar
August 31 Tucson, AZ The Rock
September 1 Indio, CA Indio Performing Arts Center

TRUCKFIGHTERS European tour dates:
02.10.2013 (GER) Leipzig, UT Connewitz
03.10.2013 (GER) Aschaffenburg, Colos Saal
04.10.2013 (GER) Dortmund, FZW (Westend-Festival)
05.10.2013 (CH) Pratteln, Z7 (Up In Smoke Festival)
07.10.2013 (FR) Nantes, Le Ferrailleur
08.10.2013 (LUX) Luxembourg, RockBox
09.10.2013 (NL) Rotterdam, Baroeg
10.10.2013 (BEL) Antwerp, Trix
11.10.2013 (NL) Groningen, Vera
12.10.2013 (GER) Siegen, Vortex
14.10.2013 (GER) Karlsruhe or Mannheim, venue tba
15.10.2013 (AT) Innsbruck, PMK
16.10.2013 (IT) Milano, Lo-Fi Club
17.10.2013 (IT) Egna / Bolzano, Point
18.10.2013 (AT) Linz, Kapu
19.10.2013 (GER) Munich, Feierwerk
20.10.2013 (GER) Bremen, Roemer

Truckfighters, New Song Live in Poland, 2013

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Vidunder Post Video for “Into Her Grave” — Debut LP Now Available

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kind of an interesting turn here as regards Swedish retro trio Vidunder, whose self-titled debut was released this week on Crusher Records, since the heavy classic rockers not only take influence from the usual heavy ’70s suspects — your earliest Pentagram, Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Budgie — but also from the league of European bands who’ve already come up under that influence. Most particularly in Vidunder‘s case, it’s Graveyard and Kadavar.

They’re not the first act to come along with a flair for the modern end of the retro aesthetic, but it’s fascinating to see that happening across the last year or so as more bands crop up in this vein. Invariably, this will lead to the continued evolution of the sound — I think last year’s Legend already proves Witchcraft were bored of ’70s vintage-isms — as the forebears of the style search out new modes of expression, while newcomers like Vidunder here help affirm the notion of classic heavy as a modern subgenre and not just a couple acts who have a thing for bellbottoms.

Whether or not that’s how it plays out, I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I’ll take some catchy Graveyard-style rock in the interim, and Vidunder certainly have that going on. It’s going to be a sad day when disco comes to Örebro:

Vidunder, “Into Her Grave” from Vidunder (2013)

Vidunder on Thee Facebooks

Crusher Records

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Asteroid, Move a Mountain/One Foot in the Grave 7″: The Single Stands Alone

Posted in Reviews on March 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Relatively speaking, there hasn’t been much word out of Swedish fuzz rockers Asteroid‘s camp since they signed to Small Stone about a year ago. They played Desertfest (review here) and did other shows as well, but after losing drummer Elvis Campbell in 2010, the focus seems to have been on resolidifying the trio with new percussionist Henrik Jannson alongside guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse and bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson. If that seems like a while to get things hammered out, then weigh that time against the organic nature of Asteroid‘s approach and it will probably make more sense — purveyors of laid back groove and whole-grain fuzz that they are, one imagines it takes some time to get the vibe just so, like trying to make sure a painting is even on all sides. Toward the end of last year, Asteroid issued their first offering with the Jannson/Hirse/Nilsson lineup, a self-released, limited 7″ single featuring the songs “Move a Mountain” and “One Foot in the Grave.” Strictly speaking, it’s the first Asteroid studio output since 2010′s much-loved II (review here) dropped courtesy of Fuzzorama, and as quick as it is, the new tracks are nonetheless a welcome arrival, hopefully heralding a new full-length to come, if not this year than sometime sooner rather than later.

It is short, though. “One Foot in the Grave,” a straightforward, heavy rocking B side less jammy than some of Asteroid‘s material, is reportedly the shortest thing the Fuzzorama alums have ever done, and I tend to believe it. Even the bluesier “Move a Mountain” feels relatively frill-less, though Hirse still finds room for an engaging solo in an instrumental break. It’s a blues, not 12-bar, but of a similar descending construction, and the three-piece sound at least as organic as they did on II, the vinyl’s compression only pushing forward the richness in Nilsson‘s tone and the rush of the guitar. As ever, the dual vocals from Hirse and Nilsson are a distinguishing factor (more on side B), and their approach remains neither completely aligned to a straightforward heavy rock take nor to Sweden’s oh-so-prominent post-Graveyard retro set. It’s mainly the open space in their songwriting that allows them to distinguish themselves so, and Jannson has made himself right at home in the groove of “Move a Mountain,” punctuating the bassline while Hirse strums out a teasing lead line near the song’s midpoint before a dead stop brings about a return to the verse. Hard to imagine this jam wouldn’t be longer live, but there’s only so much room on a 7″ single and they do well working efficiently anyhow, highlighting the catchiness of their blues and the lack of pretense with which they present it as the structure once again gives way to an instrumental break, Jannson‘s cymbals playing as much of a role in the build as Hirse‘s guitar and Nilsson‘s bass — the trio ideal.

The driving groove they elicit as the “Move a Mountain” peaks (get it?) bodes well for the dynamics they might be able to bring to a full-length, and on the other side of the platter, “One Foot in the Grave” is more of a shuffle — not necessarily in a rush, but an uptempo, classic groover that Nilsson and Hirse top with quick verses that leave little room for instrumental explorations. More than “Move a Mountain,” “One Foot in the Grave” is a departure, but it’s not necessarily out of character either with what Asteroid did on II, though were it to appear on that record, it would probably be more developed. The temptation is to read some change into it that might show up on a subsequent full-length, but really, it’s just the B side of a limited single and if Asteroid are signalling a shift in approach or some development of their style, likely that won’t come at the expense of any of the tonal warmth that has typified both of their full-lengths or their earlier debut split with Blowback. These guys arrived with a good sense of what they wanted to do, and “One Foot in the Grave” is enough in line with that so as not to be jarring so much in its approach — they’re not all of a sudden ripping out black metal screams or something — as it is for the sheer fact that it’s faster and shorter. It’s a fun experiment, and if Asteroid work in some higher-tempo material on their next record, the variety can really only make it a stronger offering.

Really, from my standpoint, that’s what Move a Mountain/One Foot in the Grave is accomplishing: It’s Asteroid signalling that despite the lineup change, the personality of the band remains intact and they’ve been working on getting themselves back up to speed, so to speak, perhaps with incorporating some new elements along the way. As a special release for fans to enjoy who might seek it out, the 7″ gets that message across well and revives some of the momentum Asteroid had coming off of II ahead of the potential III, which, the sooner it gets here, the better.

Asteroid’s website

Asteroid on Thee Facebooks

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At a Glance: Troubled Horse, Step In

Posted in Reviews on December 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

After making a splash at Roadburn 2010 on the strength of their “Bring My Horses Home” single and after about a decade of writing material and playing shows, Sweden-based ’70S aficionados Troubled Horse have made their full-length debut in the form of Step In, on Rise Above/Metal Blade. The album has already met with a sizable and welcome reception, and Witchcraft comparisons have abounded for songs like “All Your Fears” and “Sleep in Your Head.”

This is probably to be expected. While fronted by Martin Heppich, whose presence is strong throughout Step In‘s 10 component tracks/36 minutes — even on the record, he’s very much a frontman — the rest of Troubled Horse traces a lineage directly back to the aforementioned forebears of Örebro retro rocking. Bassist Ola Henriksson is still a member and can be heard on Witchcraft‘s 2012 outing, Legend (review here), while guitarist/backing vocalist John Hoyles and drummer Jens Henriksson (Ola‘s brother) both used to be in the band, Jens having left after playing with them in their early days and producing the first two records while Hoyles stayed aboard for The Alchemist before leaving to focus on Troubled Horse and his other band, Spiders.

On Step In, which sounds no less inviting than its title might imply, the four-piece sound as experienced as they are, and though cuts like the aforementioned “Bring My Horses Home” and “All Your Fears” are highlights, it’s songs like the brash “Shirleen” that actually do the brunt of distinguishing Troubled Horse from either Witchcraft or anyone else in Sweden’s densely populated retro set. Heppich contributes guitar as well alongside Hoyles, and while it’s the riffs setting a course throughout, the all-Henriksson rhythm section is culls rich, classic grooves on the Blue Cheer-esque “As You Sow,” laying a strong foundation for Heppich‘s vocals, which are a standout element thanks in part to movement into and out of a Bobby Liebling-style delivery that plays up familiarity while introducing new context.

It’s also worth mentioning that while there is a current of heavy ’70s lovin’ running throughout Step In – in places it feels like Witchcraft decided to stop sounding like Witchcraft, so Troubled Horse stepped in (ahem) to pick up the slack — the production seems to be neither postured tape for tape’s sake nor overtly retro-minded. The post-Morricone spaghetti western guitar line in the verse of “Don’t Lie” is organic, but it’s bringing the past to meet the present rather than taking pretending the last 40 years of advances in production never happened. It’s a bigger difference than one might think, and on Step In, it’s the difference between Troubled Horse being a toss-off in a crowded scene and finding their individual mark in the balance they strike between clarity of ideas and fullness of sound.

Principally though, Step In works because of the songs; the swagger Heppich puts into his cadence on “Another Man’s Name,” and the circus atmosphere the organ brings out in closer “I’ve Been Losing,” the super-catchy chorus of which — “Yes, I’ve been losing/But the winds begin to change/And this over/I have the upper hand” — provides ample culmination for the record, wrapping up a swirl first introduced in Jens‘ steady snare on opener “Tainted Water,” shades of late-’60s psych as reinterpreted à la Baby Woodrose beginning to show themselves. If Step In really is the result of 10 years’ work, I wouldn’t call the time misspent.

That said, one does wonder what Troubled Horse would/will be able to do with a shorter songwriting span, as in, if it’s not another decade before they put out another record. But I suppose those are questions for another time. For now, the brash insistence of “Shirleen,” the proto-metal chug and stomp of “Tainted Water” and Heppich’s brazen, soulful hooks are more than enough.

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