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.
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:
BACK IN THE GAME. NEW ALBUM ”UNIVERSE” TO BE RELEASED IN JAN 24TH, 2014
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.
+++ PLEDGEMUSIC CAMPAIGN ON NEW ALBUM +++
Universe will come with many many special incentives – so don’t miss it!
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!!!
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: Truckfighters‘ The ChairmanEP 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).
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
NEW MUSIC: “THE CHAIRMAN” EP OUT IN OCTOBER
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!
ON TOUR !
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 withtruckfighters.comand with the newsletter!
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 Phiand “Last Curfew” from 2009′s Maniawere 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.
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:
CELEBRATED SWEDISH ROCK BAND TRUCKFIGHTERS ANNOUNCE U.S. TOUR DATES
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
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:
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 Graveis 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 IIahead of the potential III, which, the sooner it gets here, the better.
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 Inreally 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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Word just came down the PR wire of Graveyard 2013 US tour dates. The band are not to be missed live, and I for one am looking forward to hearing how they bring their new album, Lights Out(review here), to life on stage.
See you in Philly:
GRAVEYARD: U.S. TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED!
FINALLY: People in the States can stop complaining about not having some real goddamned rock ‘n’ roll shows to go to. Plus, our neighbors to the north & south have good reason to grab their passports and head for their borders.
Rejoice Faithful Disciples of the Scuzz and Fuzz of Analog Sound for I say unto you that Sweden’s finest, GRAVEYARD, are coming back to headline in the U.S. to support their new album, Lights Out, due out in North America on November 6th!
Launching on January 23rd in Boston, Massachusetts, the tour will feature special appearances in Seattle, Washington and Houston, Texas from The Devil’s Blood and Royal Thunder.
Confirmed tour dates are:
01/23/13 Royal Boston – Boston, MA 01/24/13 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA 01/25/13 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY 01/26/13 Black Cat – Washington, D.C. 01/27/13 Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY 01/29/13 The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC 01/30/13 Exit/In – Nashville, TN 01/31/13 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA 02/01/13 The Hi-Tone Café – Memphis, TN 02/02/13 The Firebird – St. Louis, MO 02/04/13 The Shelter – Detroit, MI 02/05/13 Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL 02/06/13 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN 02/08/13 Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO 02/09/13 Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT 02/11/13 The A Club – Spokane, WA 02/12/13 Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR 02/13/13 Neumos – Seattle, WA *featuring The Devil’s Blood and Royal Thunder* 02/15/13 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA 02/16/13 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA 02/17/13 El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA 02/18/13 The Casbah – San Diego, CA 02/19/13 The Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ 02/21/13 Emo’s East – Austin, TX 02/22/13 Granada Theater – Dallas, TX 02/23/13 Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX *featuring The Devil’s Blood and Royal Thunder*
Additional shows will be announced soon.
With legions of devoted fans, you’d best buy your tickets ASAP ‘cause these dates WILL sell out.
Posted in Features on March 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a big world out there, and no one in it rocks quite like Truckfighters rock. Their fuzz is just a little warmer, their deserts a little sandier, and where so much of capital ‘h’ Heavy the underground comes up with arrives sluggishly at the sacrifice of energy, the trio from Örebro carry across their material — especially on stage — with apparent ease and an upbeat pulse that only subsides when they direct it elsewhere.
Now embroiled in their second-ever US tour and also their second in less than a year’s time, Truckfighters have seen a boost in profile since their last album, 2009′s Mania, thanks in part to a feature-length documentary from filmmakers Joerg Steineck and Christian Maciejewski (review here), that has led to Tee Pee Records picking up the band for a digipak reissue of Mania that’s due out May 8.
Although their 2005 debut, Gravity X, saw North American release in conjunction with MeteorCity, this new issue of Mania (original review here) will be the first time Truckfighters are really entrusting a label with the distribution and promotion of one of their records, and it’s a bolder step considering the record in question has already been out for going on three years. Still, with the run of US shows they did last summer and the current follow-up, the timing couldn’t be better to bring Mania back into listeners’ consciousness, and considering they’re in the States and I didn’t even have to dial international to get guitarist Niklas ”Dango” Källgren on the phone for the following interview, the timing couldn’t have been better for that either.
They were in Chicago when we spoke, having played what he characterized as a good set the night before in Dayton, Ohio, alongside tour and travelmates The Midnight Ghost Train, who came aboard last minute as a replacement for Karma to Burn. In our relatively brief conversation, Källgren discussed how that switch was made as well as the tumultuous booking of these shows, how he and bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedarmalm feel about the end result of the documentary, the revolving door tenure of drummer Oscar “Pezo” Johansson (which is chronicled in one of the most entertaining sections of Steineck and Maciejewski‘s movie and who now also plays in Witchcraft), signing with Tee Pee, progress on their next album, and — as the headline above hints — much more.
Please find the complete Q&A after the jump, and enjoy.
I guess I never got the email or whatever — or else I’ve posted the clip three times by now and just forgotten — but at some point Örebro fuzz heroes Truckfighters put out a video for “Con of Man” from Mania, and it’s hitting the spot perfectly tonight. What I like best about it is it’s not their most accessible track, not their most immediate single, but I dare you to not have it stuck in your head after even one listen. The underlying political implications of the video I consider a bonus.
Thanks to everyone who downloaded the podcast this week and who entered the contest to win the Moth Eater/Black Thai split. The running for that is over, and I fully plan on selecting names out of a hat to get the winners list this coming Monday, so that should be fun. For the time being, it’s been a tiring week in terms of work and class, and I’m glad to see it come to an end.
It was also my birthday this week (please don’t say “happy birthday”) and I always have trouble with that, but that really was only one factor to add to the overall stress. It was a relief tonight to come back to the valley after work, go to dinner with The Patient Mrs., drink some wine and enjoy the evening. I know it was something, but I honestly don’t even remember what was happening this evening in Brooklyn, and I’m just fine with that. Sometimes life turns out to be what we most need it to be at that moment. I’ll take it.
Again, appreciation to everyone who checked in this week. Starting Monday, I’ll be taking a look at records from Generation of Vipers, Morbid Wizard, The House of Capricorn and Ogressa. I’ll also hopefully have my interview with Black Cobra posted by the end of the week, and barring disaster, on Tuesday we’ll have a new track premiere from Rue as well, so stay tuned for that. It’s interesting to see the hierarchy of blog prominence come into play with that kind of thing — at some point, I’d like to write an essay about it, but I probably won’t — but I’ll continue to have new audio as often as possible to the best of my dictated ability. I guess some sites’ hipster cred has to pay off somewhere. Ha.
But anyhoo, this curious fuckall corner of the interwebs wishes you the best and safest of weekends. I hope if you choose to alter your consciousness, you do so in a wholesome and friendly environment, with appropriate aural accompaniment. See you in the Dingerhaus and back here on Monday for more silliness.
Posted in Features on December 20th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before I actually knuckled down and bought it, I was kind of annoyed Fuzzorama Records wouldn’t send me a finished copy of Swedish fuzz rockers Asteroid‘s masterpiece second album, II. Entitled prick that I am, I thought maybe I’d earned it with all the sucking off I did of the release between my extensive review, interview and other posts. Hell, II was my number one pick for the first half of 2010! I recall it being with some resignation that I finally made the purchase.
Then I got the thing, and if you haven’t picked it up, then you don’t know, but the packaging is beautiful — it’s this gorgeous die-cut digibox fold-out kind of thing with the panels as part of the artwork itself. Suddenly it made sense. I wouldn’t give that shit away either! Fuck that. Let the reviewers buy it. Score one for Fuzzorama.
Actually, score two for Fuzzorama, because the album itself is magnificent. The only reason I mention the artwork now is because I really think I’ve exhausted everything else there is to say about Asteroid‘s second outing; the increased jam feel, the stunning vocals, the memorable songwriting and much more all well documented by now in the annals of searchable Obelisk lore. It may not have ended up in the top five at the end of the year, but I have the feeling when/if this list gets revisited in 2011, I’ll still be rocking II while others have fallen by the wayside. It’s a keeper in every sense. I’m glad I bought it.
Posted in On the Radar on November 9th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
A trio made up of two-thirds Asteroid and one-third Dead Man, it’s a safe bet that whatever Hexan does, it’s going to be space-licious and ultra-Swedish. Such proves to be the case with the three tracks the new outfit/side-project have posted over on their Facebook page. The songs are instrumental and classically jammed out, less like the interludes on Asteroid‘s brilliant II album than one might think. Rather, it seems guitarist Robin Hirse and bassist Johannes Nilsson are genuinely exploring a different musical side of the jam. It’s less about fuzz and more about exploration.
It’s an admirable turn for Nilsson and Hirse to make, and drummer Jonas Askerlund proves equally able to keep up and take the lead on “Baba Yaga,” deftly adding wide-spaced cymbals to the noodling guitar and bass, grounding the song and emphasizing its twists at the same time. Nilsson‘s tonal warmth is a standout on that track as well, and as the only vocals present are a shouted-out “alright!” I can’t help but agree.
If, like me, you’ve spent the better part of this year worshiping at the foot of Asteroid‘s II, then you could only be doing yourself a favor in checking out Hexan. The third of the three tracks from the Örebro trio, “Hexuba,” proves the most Asteroid-esque, with Hirse‘s guitar driving the song in a manner similar to “Edge” from the aforementioned numerically-titled record. As that album was jammier than its predecessor, it’s not really a surprise to hear Hirse and Nilsson go off in that direction, and with Askerlund as a suitable companion, I can only eagerly await Hexan‘s first release. Till then, feel free to dig on the tracks in the player below.
Posted in Features on June 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
A quick search on this site and you’ll see almost immediately that I’ve barely been able to even mention the word Sweden in the last, oh, seven or eight months, without accompanying it with the word Asteroid. Very quickly, the Örebro trio have become a touchstone to which I compare almost every act from their home country, fairly or unfairly — it certainly applies more to Blowback than Barren Earth — and because I’ve gone back to it for more repeat listens than anything else in 2010, their second album, II, is my number one pick for the first half of the year.
Even after reviewing the disc and interviewing bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson, I’m blown away by the natural feel of the record. If you take the time to listen to II, the songs begin to seep into your consciousness, and I think a big part of that comes from how well balanced the production is. Songs like “Edge” and “Time” might sound simple your first time through, but examine the depth of the arrangements, the vocal interplay between Nilsson and guitarist Robin Hirse, the personality behind the drumming of Elvis Campbell and the flowing but distinguishable jams that permeate the tracks, and you’ll hear an organic clarity that few bands can affect on a recording. Asteroid make it seem easy.
It’s a cliche among music fans: “I haven’t taken it out of my player since I got it.” Obviously that’s not true or there’d be a serious dearth of reviews around here, but safe to say that Asteroid‘s II has gone back in said player more times than anything else in 2010. After finally buying a full copy of the record and seeing the gorgeously intricate cut digipak packaging, my appreciation went even further. Every part of this album is uniquely Asteroid, from the music on.
What it all boils down to is that my enjoyment of II has only increased with the number of times I’ve heard it. It’s far from the highest profile release in terms of the promotional machine, but for me, it’s the richest, most satisfying listen I’ve come across this year, and since it came out in January, I’ve had plenty of time to get tired of it and it hasn’t happened yet. Had II not been my number one pick, this whole list would be a sham.