Holy Grove Finish Work on New Album Holy Grove II

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Portland, Oregon, heavy rockers Holy Grove announce the completion of their second full-length. The four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis already toured the West Coast this year after announcing in January they’d signed to Ripple Music for the follow-up to their 2016 self-titled debut (review here), which was released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Like that record, the new one was tracked with Billy Anderson, but it’s immediately apparent Holy Grove aren’t looking to repeat themselves this time out.

In the update/announcement that follows here, Holy Grove talk about coming together as a band as a result of touring — that’s how it happens — and working out the material both on the road and in their rehearsal space. I look forward to hearing the record not just for its special guest appearance from a checkered-shoe doomer who gets to remain nameless, or for Anderson‘s production, but to hear where Holy Grove‘s songwriting has carried them in the wake of the self-titled being so well received and offering such a string of memorable tracks. Going by what I read in the update below, it seems like they’ve genuinely put the effort forward to make the best album possible at this time. If you can find an argument against that, I’d be interested to hear it. Except not really.

I’ll hope to have much more to come as we continue to move closer to the release, but for today, cheers to Holy Grove on finishing Holy Grove II and here’s to the anticipation of actually digging in.

Photos by Alyssa Herrman, an update from the band, and the album’s tracklisting all follow here:

holy grove 1 (Photo Alyssa Herrman)

We started tracking basically the day after we returned from our West Coast tour in April, and spent about four days tracking at Hallowed Halls in Portland. We then spent an additional couple of days tracking at Everything Hz. We really enjoyed being back in the studio. We felt prepared, focused and really excited about the new material, especially after playing the songs live nightly for a few weeks on tour. Billy (Anderson, engine-ear supreme) was fired up and invested and inspired us to push ourselves in getting the takes we wanted, and obviously crucial in getting the sounds we wanted on tape.

This time around we were able to demo the songs as a band in our practice space. We put a lot of effort into revising and massaging songs to get them to sound the way we heard them in our heads. Demoing allowed the four of us to work through all our ideas and make the necessary changes before heading into the studio, so we went in with a clear picture of what we hoped to achieve. The second biggest difference was being able to tour the record beforehand. Prior to Eben joining in June of 2017, we were rarely in a position where we could tour. In March we embarked on our first West Coast tour and spent the entire time becoming more comfortable with the songs, working out kinks and figuring out what was working and what wasn’t. Knowing the material and being able to hammer it out in a live setting allowed us to bottle that energy and bring it to the studio.

To us, the album to represents turning a page and crossing a threshold musically and emotionally that wasn’t available or apparent before. We’re a different band then we were when we made the first record and it was important to us to reflect that in the songs. We made it a point to listen to our gut during the entire writing and recording process, but still allowed the songs take on a life of their own and let them dictate where to go with them, if that makes sense… The songs are darker, more epic (there are five songs on this record but the overall runtime is longer than our first album, which had seven), and more emotionally reflective of what the band has been through in the last 3-4 years. Andrea’s vocals are more emotive and powerful and her lyrics darker and more personal. Trent immersed himself in his playing and has evolved immensely as a player. Eben and Gregg have become the rhythm section they both always wanted to be a part of. It’s a pretty exciting time for all of us, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.

Holy Grove II tracklisting:
Blade Born
Aurora
Valley of The Mystics
Solaris
Cosmos

Holy Grove is:
Andrea Vidal – Vocals
Trent Jacobs – Guitar
Gregg Emley – Bass
Eben Travis – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/holygroveband/
https://twitter.com/holygroveband
http://holygrove.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Holy Grove, Holy Grove (2016)

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YOB Announce European Tour Dates Supporting Our Raw Heart

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yob (Photo James Rexroad)

It a little bit broke my heart to miss YOB when they came through last week. They were in New York, I was in Connecticut. It would’ve been at least 90 minutes in the car, but at the end of that trip, I’d have seen YOB on their first run through supporting their new album, Our Raw Heart (review here), with direct support from Bell Witch and Philly’s own Heavy Temple rounding out the bill. That’s a fucking awesome show. But, you know, baby stuff. I’d been to a fest the weekend prior. Taking care of my wife’s sister’s kids. So on and so forth. But yeah, that one stung a little bit to miss. I don’t feel that way nearly about as many shows as I used to, but I for sure did about that one.

YOB, of course, have a fuck-ton of tour dates coming up, and more are being added. They’ll wrap up the stint with Bell Witch next week, then there are shows in September with Acid King and CHRCH which is a bill so righteous it makes me want to price flights to Albuquerque, and then a full European tour with Wiegedood that picks up in October. Then they’re at the West Coast Decibel Metal and Beer Fest in Los Angeles in December. Next year? Probably more touring, if I had to guess. Anyone remember when YOB didn’t tour? That used to be a thing. Now they’re like a Relapse band or something. Ha.

Overwhelming list follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

yob euro tour

YOB: Announce Fall European Headlining Tour Dates

Our Raw Heart is out now on CD/2xLP/Deluxe 2xLP Boxset/CS/Digital

Oregon cosmic trio YOB announce Fall European headlining tour dates throughout October and November. The band will be touring in support of the recently released full-length album Our Raw Heart. Belgium’s Wiegedood will provide direct support throughout the tour. A full list of confirmed tour dates is available below.

YOB’s Our Raw Heart is out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Physical packages are available via Relapse.com HERE and Digital Downloads / Streaming Services HERE.

YOB w/ Bell Witch remaining dates:
July 04 Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
July 06 Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theatre
July 07 Detroit, MI @ El Club
July 08 Chicago, IL @ Reggies
July 10 St. Paul, MN @ Club
July 11 Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge
July 12 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre
July 13 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
July 14 Boise, ID @ Neurolux

— All Dates Sept 6 – Sept 15th w/ Acid King & Chrch —
Sep 06 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s
Sep 07 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst Atrium
Sep 08 Pioneertown, CA Pappy & Harriet’s
Sep 09 Los Angeles, CA Teragram
Sep 12 Albuquerque, NM Sister
Sep 13 Phoenix, AZ Club Red
Sep 14 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick
Sep 15 Oakland, CA Metro

YOB FALL EUROPEAN TOUR DATES w/ WIEGEDOOD:
Oct 05 Karlsruhe, DE Jubez
Oct 06 Nijmegen, NL Soulcrusher Festival
Oct 07 Bristol, UK The Fleece
Oct 09 Glasgow, UK Stereo
Oct 10 Leeds, UK Brudenell Social Club
Oct 11 Manchester, UK Gorilla
Oct 12 London, UK The Garage
Oct 13 Antwerp, BE Desertfest Belgium (No Wiegedood)
Oct 14 Koln, DE Gebaeude9
Oct 16 Hamburg, DE Molotow Club
Oct 17 Copenhagen, DK Vega
Oct 18 Gothenburg, SE Sticky Fingers
Oct 19 Stockholm, SE Kraken
Oct 20 Oslo, NO Bla
Oct 21 Helsinki, FI Tavastia (no Wiegedood)
Oct 23 Paris, FR Petit Bain
Oct 24 Feyzin, FR L’Epicerie Moderne
Oct 25 Cenon, FR Le Rocher De Palmer
Oct 27 Porto, PT Hard Club
Oct 28 Madrid, ES Caracol
Oct 29 Barcelona, ES Boveda
Oct 31 Langenthal, CH Old Capitol
Nov 01 Milan, IT Santeria Social Club
Nov 02 Bologna, IT Freakout Club
Nov 03 Martigny, CH Caves Du Manoir
Nov 04 Bregenz, AT Between
Nov 06 Vienna, AT Arena
Nov 07 Budapest, HU Robot
Nov 08 Leipzig, DE UT Connewitz
Nov 09 Warsaw, PL Hydrozagadka
Nov 10 Krakow, PL Soulstone Gathering Festival
Nov 11 Berlin, DE Musik & Frieden
Nov 13 Athens, GR Kyttaro Live Club (no Wiegedood)

Dec 01-02 Los Angeles, CA Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

www.yobislove.com
www.facebook.com/quantumyob
www.twitter.com/quantumyob
www.instagram/com/quantumyob
www.relapse.com
www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

YOB, Our Raw Heart (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: Pushy, Hard Wish

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

pushy hard wish

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Blacktop’ by Pushy. Their debut album, Hard Wish, ships in July from Who Can You Trust? Records and is available to preorder now.]

Classic heavy rock played with conviction, heart and an obvious appreciation for the finer things in life when it comes to riffs — there’s a lot to like immediately about Pushy‘s debut album, Hard Wish. Delivered like their prior split 12″ with Ragged Barracudas (review here) through Who Can You Trust? Records, the awaited release from the Portland, Oregon, outfit conjures a fuzzy vision of ’70s heavy that does more than just boogie, though of course there’s plenty of that as well. From earliest AC/DC to Thin Lizzy, to ZZ TOP, to King Crimson, to a sudden turn from stripped-down KISS strut into an atmospheric prog-out on “If I Cry,” it’s record that makes a point of going where and doing what it damn well pleases, and it even manages to include a wah-drenched revamp of their catchy original demo, “El Hongo” (discussed here) and its eight-track/40-minute run makes for an engaging, organic, live-sounding listen that makes the advice “take it easy” seem like time-honored wisdom.

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Adam Burke (formerly of Fellwoods), who’s also responsible for the paintings on the front and back of the LP, as well as having done art for this site and a universe of others, Crag Dweller‘s Travis Clow, Neal Munson of Billions and Billions and Ron Wesley of Hosmanek, the four-piece set an easygoing vibe from the very first crashes and shuffling grooves of opener “Fanny’s,” and while they might careen from one influence to the next and offer a bit of zleaze (yup, spelled with two ‘z’s) here and there, it’s all in good fun and Hard Wish succeeds in casting its own identity from the varied elements that make it up, whether that’s the gallop of “Nasty Bag” or the arena-rock grandiosity in the beginning of “If I Cry.”

And there’s a flow at work. Wrapping up side A after “Fanny’s” and second cut “Nasty Bag,” with its nyah-nyah-nyah opening and street-rocking swing, “Blacktop” offers a first glimpse of Pushy‘s progressive side, digging back to the first King Crimson record like it ain’t no thing and pairing that with a proto-burl riff that in most hands would be repelled from the prior stretch like magnets refusing to touch but is absolutely made to work here. By the time they’re rushing through delivering the title-line, Pushy have expanded the context of “Blacktop” an album’s worth, and the fuzzy nod that emerges from there and turns back to the central riff is pure gravy. Only then does “If I Cry” build on the prog edge of “Blacktop” with its own relatively patient beginning and midsection break, the guitars leading the way through about a minute of instrumental exploration that gives way to silence before a volume-swelling solo emerges to wind the way back to the central rhythm, which gets topped with its own victory-lap of a lead before they noodle their way to the end. From that somewhat hypnotic finish, “El Hongo” eases its way in to start off side B with room for a bit of its own psychedelic meandering amid a landmark-feeling hook that’s a standout from the album as a whole.

Pushy 2018

The boogie is writ large over the secondary leadoff, but at five minutes, it’s not necessarily a mirror of “Fanny’s” at the start of the record, which had a shorter clocktime and more straightforward structure without the midsection departure that some of the longer songs make. In that regard, “If I Cry” is something of a foreshadow for the 10-minute closer “Lay of the Land” that follows “El Hongo,” “Lonesome Entry,” and “I’ll Be Gentle,” the latter two of which are also of the shorter variety. No doubt that vinyl considerations came into play when putting together the tracklisting with four songs per side, getting the runtimes close, and so on, but it’s worth pointing out that it works exceedingly well in terms of the front-to-back, with “Fanny’s” setting the tone literally and figuratively while smoothing the way into “Nasty Bag” and the three tracks that follow before “Lonesome Entry,” which is the shortest of the bunch at 2:27, ignites a speedy Cactus-style brashness with Burke‘s vocals hitting a higher register to match the more frenetic pacing of the verses.

Naturally, those are offset by more midpaced transitional sections and though it’s the shortest inclusion at 2:27, Pushy still squeeze in those tempo shifts before the before the cold ending brings on “I’ll Be Gentle” brings forth more boogie vibes and hooks in both its verse and chorus. There’s a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the lyrics — if I’m not mistaken there’s a reference to a “velvet hand” — but the classic feel of the songwriting and the live-style vibe of the recording come through just the same as on “Lonesome Entry” and really everything else before it. And it’s fitting that the two shorter cuts should give way to “Lay of the Land” at the end of the record, which not only makes the most of its two guitars but brings the rhythm section as well to some of its finest moments.

It’s an unenviable task to summarize what Hard Wish has thus far brought forth in its scope of formative heavy, but most if it appears within the more extended finale, from the patient and progressive opening to the subdued verses and the greater build and release that happens later on. Some parts seem to be begging for organ accompaniment, but I guess one has to leave some ground to cover on a sophomore outing, and as their debut, Hard Wish basks in its inspirations without falling into boogie rock cliché — except where it wants to, as on “I’ll Be Gentle” — and sets up a balance of straight-ahead and more exploratory movements to be toyed with from here on out. It’s a sound that, should Pushy be interested in such things, they can keep growing and expanding, since as we know the realm of classic heavy rock is by no means relegated to the past, and the chemistry between players on display throughout Hard Wish is of the sort that can’t be faked, least of all in such a stage-born-sounding context. From a Pacific Northwest so bent on partying, Pushy bring just a touch of class to the proceedings and remind that not all good times need to be overblown to be memorable.

Pushy on Thee Facebooks

Pushy on Instagram

Pushy on Bandcamp

Who Can You Trust? Records on Thee Facebooks

Who Can You Trust? Records website

Who Can You Trust? Records on Bandcamp

Pushy LP preorders from Who Can You Trust? Records

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YOB, Our Raw Heart: Rise in This Moment

Posted in Reviews on June 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yob our raw heart

One sincerely doubts the band thinks about it this way, but YOB‘s eighth album, Our Raw Heart, arrives at a pivotal moment for the band. Not only does it mark their debut on Relapse Records after outings on Neurot Recordings and Profound Lore — one might argue it’s their highest-profile release since 2004’s The Illusion of Motion and 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived (discussed here), which was issued via Metal Blade — but it’s the point at which they must answer the question of where to go after 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), which was not only a landmark for the Eugene, Oregon, three-piece themselves, but for the genre as whole.

It was the moment when YOB pushed beyond even the groundbreaking, crushing and ethereal cosmic doom of their two prior offerings, 2009’s The Great Cessation (review here) and 2011’s Atma (review here), and into new territory of emotionalism and aesthetic individuality. Simply put, it was one of the best if not the best record of the decade, so how the hell do you follow that up? If you’re YOB, the answer turns out to be pretty easy: you keep moving forward.

Our Raw Heart comes accompanied by the narrative of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt coming through a potentially life-threatening bout with diverticulitis that required emergency surgery and a long recovery afterward, and it’s easy enough to read that story and reflection on that into the lyrics of the seven-track/73-minute outing. Even as songs like “In Reverie,” the short and punishing “Lungs Reach” and longest track and immediate focal point “The Beauty in Falling Leaves” — which feels like a natural answer to “Marrow” (discussed here) from the last record and the latest in a tradition of YOB epics going back 15 years to the early declaration of their second album, Catharsis, and their preceding 2002 exploratory debut, Elaborations of Carbon — bleed directly into each other in a natural flow, something here feels unsettled, shaken. As reflective as Our Raw Heart gets, it’s still right that it includes “raw” in the title, as it seems there’s very little distance between the expression and the experience.

At the same time — and somehow not in contradiction — Our Raw Heart is also YOB‘s most expansive-sounding collection yet. Produced by the band, which is the steady lineup of Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg (also of Norska) and drummer Travis Foster, with Billy Barnett at Gung Ho Studio in their hometown, it’s patient and graceful. It maintains elements that are signature YOB, whether it’s in Rieseberg‘s foundational low end throughout, Foster‘s propensity to make even a quiet drum part like the quiet fade at the end of “Beauty of Falling Leaves” swing, or Scheidt‘s style of riffing on opener “Ablaze” and the galloping chug of the subsequent “The Screen,” but it also pushes ahead along the steady pattern of progression that YOB have tread since making their return nearly a decade ago after splitting up following The Unreal Never Lived.

And even before that. The entire trajectory, from one album to the next, has been a progression of always-developing sonic ideas, and as much as Our Raw Heart may be centered around Scheidt processing and coming to an understanding of what he’s been through — never mind the psychological and emotional implications of facing one’s own mortality; or better, don’t — the story of who YOB are as a band lies in that factor. Like Neurosis before them and few others on this planet, they’re the kind of band whose eighth album you look forward to because you can trust it will bring the next stage of their creative evolution, and certainly Our Raw Heart lives up to that promise.

yob photo by jimmy hubbard

Songs like “Original Face” and and even “The Screen” seem to share some sonic kinship with Atma, and certainly a closing title-track with a stretch of quiet guitar at the beginning is familiar enough ground, but for all three players and for the group as a single entity, these cuts and the rest demonstrate that the larger narrative of YOB is one of an ongoing advance, and the most pivotal accomplishment Our Raw Heart makes in terms of its sheer sound is in pushing beyond its predecessor as fluidly and naturally as that album did its own. Our Raw Heart is the point at which YOB affirm not only the sustainability of their sound as a mature band, which Clearing the Path to Ascend seemed to lay out, but also their unmistakable drive to go deeper into their approach and find a new level of enunciation for who they are and what they do.

This journey is as gorgeous as it is grueling and as beautiful as it is painful. The scope from the lumbering march of “The Screen” to the immersive breadth of “Beauty in Falling Leaves,” or from the momentary extremity and crunching atmosphere of “Lungs Reach” — which at 5:40 is the shortest YOB song ever — and the epilogue of push in “Original Face” and apex wash in the title-track, during which the lead guitar seems to sing through its surroundings almost like a joyous bagpipe on a fadeout that, even after 73 minutes, seems to end the record too soon. Worth noting that while it features the shortest cut they’ve ever written — as its centerpiece, no less — Our Raw Heart is also the longest album YOB have ever produced.

That’s here or there to the listening experience itself, as once you’re in it, you’re in it, but a testament nonetheless to the basic amount of, well, everything put into it. While the title begs the question of who “we” are — the band? the band and audience? the whole of humanity? — YOB make perfectly clear the personal tone of the album, and whatever it might mean to anyone who’d take it on, it obviously holds great meaning for them. Still, looking at it in the context of their arc as a whole, it is the continuity that’s most striking. ScheidtRieseberg and Foster seem to hit turning points almost each time out, and Our Raw Heart is no exception to that, but it’s also the logical next step from where they were four years ago, and as much as it may be fueled and motivated by what Scheidt went through over the last couple years, in its songwriting and execution it continues the band’s progression and says more plainly than ever before that it will not stop.

For as long as YOB go, they will keep growing. I don’t know if it was a question, but if it was, it isn’t anymore, and the answer is that while their style remains one of the most immediately identifiable in doom, and while their influence spreads over an up and coming generation of heavy acts looking to reach expanses of their own, YOB will still refine who they are, still push beyond their collective comfort zone, and still work to arrive at a changing realization of their sound. If Our Raw Heart isn’t a contender for the best album of 2018, I’ve got nothing for you, but more important than where it appears on a given list and more important than any fawning the press might throw its way, it’s the latest stage of YOB‘s resonant and perpetual manifestation, and another landmark along their own expressive path.

YOB, Our Raw Heart (2018)

YOB website

YOB on Thee Facebooks

YOB on Twitter

YOB on Instagram

Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

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Mirrors for Psychic Warfare to Support Godflesh; New Album in the Works

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I was fortunate enough to catch Mirrors for Psychic Warfare live once, and the blend of elements from Scott Kelly‘s guitar and Sanford Parker‘s noisemaking mystery desk of, one assumes, a laptop, various manipulators, samplers, synth, etc., was like a physical presence in the room. One that put a hand right on your solar plexus and applied a steady pressure, with ebbs and flows, to be sure, but a pressure that, if you weren’t careful, could move you a step back. Their self-titled debut (review here) came out in 2016 via Neurot Recordings, and they have a follow-up said to be due this Fall. I for one think that would be just nifty.

They’ll also support Godflesh twice this summer, playing in Chicago and New York with the legendary industrial innovators. Talk about knowing your audience.

The PR wire puts it like this:

godflesh poster

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE: Scott Kelly/Sanford Parker Collaboration To Play Two Special US Shows With Godflesh; New Record Due This Fall Via Neurot

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE, the collaboration between Neurosis’ Scott Kelly and Buried At Sea’s Sanford Parker, will play two very special shows this August supporting industrial titans Godflesh! Set to take place in Chicago and New York City respectively, the August 24th appearance includes additional support from Harm’s Way and Ledge while the August 25th show features additional support from Tombs and Body Stuff. Tickets go on sale this Friday. The two performances come in advance of MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE’s next chapter of sonic anxiety set for release this fall via Neurot Records. Further details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE w Godflesh:
8/24/2018 Metro, Chicago – IL w/ Harm’s Way, Ledge
8/25/2018 Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY w/ Tombs, Body Stuff

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE released their self-titled debut via Neurot in 2016. A audio manifestation of insomnia, complete with the tossing, turning, and perennial dread that comes with facing a new day, the five songs that comprise Mirrors For Psychic Warfare lurch and pulsate across a sullen, desolate landscape with an almost curious obsessiveness.

https://www.facebook.com/mirrorsforpsychicwarfare
http://www.mirrorsforpsychicwarfare.bandcamp.com
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare (2016)

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Pushy Debut Album Hard Wish Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Pushy 2018

With a July 16 ship date, preorders are up for the awaited full-length debut from Portland, Oregon, classic heavy rockers Pushy. Dubbed Hard Wish in apparent homage to just how much I’d like my seven-month-old son to take his morning nap right now, the album follows a 2016 split with Germany’s Ragged Barracudas (review here), as well as an earlier 2015 two-songer, If I Cried, named in apparent — and prescient! — homage to that same seven-month-old’s question that if he just screams for 45 solid minutes, will it be enough to make me go upstairs and end his apparent torture. In answer: no.

Anyhoozle, I’ve been waiting for Pushy‘s debut since I heard their demo (discussed here) in 2014, and the group sound like they’ve got their boogie in fine working order on the first public audio to come from Hard Wish, which is second track “Nasty Bag,” which you’ll find streaming at the bottom of this post, along with the preorder link preceded by a snazzy bio.

From the PR wire:

pushy hard wish

Pushy – Hard Wish

Have you ever watched the 1977 video of Ram Jam playing “Black Betty” in somebody’s front yard and asked yourself, “Why don’t we have bands who party like that anymore?” And after the very first time you witnessed a young bellbottomed James Gang set up their gear in the Mexicali desert and riff through “Laguna Salada” during the opening credits to the 1971 film Zachariah, did you ask yourself, “Are there even any bands this good today?” Or what about that time you laid virgin eyes upon the gatefold to ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres and took in a panoramic photograph that could only be described as a taqueria orgy? Did you ask, “Why can’t a newer style band make me feel this special?”

The answer to all these questions lives and pulses within the four musicians who comprise the Portland, Oregon based hard rock quartet, Pushy. If your ears have yet to be seduced by the God-hammered choogle of Pushy, it’s not too late for you. Their debut album Hard Wish has been captured in the band’s natural element and then released into the wild by the good people of Who Can You Trust? Records – a label that knows how and where to mine the rich ore of timeless rock ‘n’ roll. If the hot buttered distortion of the opening song “Fanny’s” (with its saucy boogie and howling guitar leads) doesn’t put an electric strut in your butt, there’s a pretty good chance that rock ‘n’ roll may be none of your business.

John Fogerty once sang that the people on the river are happy to give. But if you listen closely to the hard and heavy stomp of “Nasty Bag,” it sounds like the people on the river are waiting to kill you. Pushy have the power of rock surging through their veins and sometimes this power channels stories and spirits to help move you into parallel dimensions. Take “El Hongo” for instance – between Ron Wesley coaxing a gold top Les Paul to scream and wail through a tweed Victoria Bassman, and Adam Burke crooning for us to take it easy and close our eyes, there could never exist a reason why we would ever want to not keep on chooglin’. And when Travis Clow and Neal Munson kick off the album’s bookend jam “Lay of the Land” with their callused hands working a well-oiled rhythm section, you can almost smell the grease burning on the gears as the bass and drums pump out a loose and juicy groove that’s just begging for the guitars to rain riffs like there’s a storm in hell and we’re all invited to hang out and drink their beer.”

-Eric Shea (Hot Lunch/Sweet Chariot)

Pushy is: Travis, Ron, Adam, Neal

https://www.facebook.com/SOPUSHY/
https://www.instagram.com/pushyrockgroup/
https://pushy.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Who-Can-You-Trust-Records/187406787966906
whocanyoutrustrec.wordpress.com
whocanyoutrustrec.bandcamp.com
https://whocanyoutrustrec.bigcartel.com/product/pushy-hard-wish-lp-pre-order

Pushy, “Nasty Bag”

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Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain: Burning and Rebuilding

Posted in Reviews on May 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain

Let’s be honest: Losing a singer like the singer Witch Mountain lost is a worse fate than a band should have to endure. In 2014, following three each-better-than-the-last records in 2011’s South of Salem (review here), 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and 2014’s gorgeous and sad Mobile of Angels (review here), frontwoman Uta Plotkin left the Portland, Oregon, doomers, and for a minute there, it looked like it might be the end. At least from the outside. But Witch Mountain existed before Plotkin — founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson released the band’s debut, Come the Mountain (discussed here), in 2001 — and it would continue to exist after.

In a matter of months, the band was reformed in early 2015 with Wrong (who now also plays in The Skull), Carson, bassist Justin Brown (formerly of underrated trio Lamprey) and new vocalist Kayla Dixon, a transplant from Ohio with a background in the more straightforward metal outfit Demons Within, but whose voice was powerful enough to make one believe in fate. Tours with EnslavedThe SkullSaint Vitus and others followed, and in releasing their fifth album overall, first with the new lineup and first on Svart in North America as well as Europe, Witch Mountain‘s naming their latest LP Witch Mountain feels like a declaration in and of itself.

Or perhaps a victory lap, because what they came through and the manner in which they did is not to be understated. And the five-track/35-minute collection that’s resulted from three years of work on stage and an obviously thoughtful songwriting process is less about meeting the expectations of their audience than about making a definitive statement of who they are. Witch Mountain‘s Witch Mountain did not happen by accident.

From the first slogging riff and on-the-bell ride hits of opener “Midnight,” that’s readily apparent, and Dixon is about two lines into the first verse before she gives a first glimpse at the throat-ripper of a scream that seems a constant threat to be unleashed amidst her soulful melodic delivery. As a showcase of range and arrangement for her, the opener also boasts a choice solo from Wrong and gives Brown a chance to establish himself as indispensable on the low end. Witch Mountain has been through a succession of bassists but as the march of “Midnight” slams to starts and stops under Dixon‘s soaring voice, he proves an excellent fit with Wrong and Carson, and when they roll into a scream-laced hook in the second half of the track, the bass is all the more essential in setting the groundwork for that turn and the shift into the memorable Spirit cover “Mechanical World.”

The bluesy lyrics and vibe are an excellent fit for Witch Mountain‘s style of doom, Wrong adding subtle flourish around the central riff as Dixon again showcases her breadth as a vocalist, the song moving into manic thrust from its verse just for a minute before running into an even slower, minimal stretch of open, vocal-led atmospherics. If one thinks of “Midnight” as an introductory statement, and “Mechanical World” as helping to set the tone and range for the album as a whole, then the seven-minute side A closer “Burn You Down” is where Witch Mountain really seem to dig into the proceedings.

witch mountain photo whitey mcconnaughy

Dixon is nigh-omnipresent save for solo spots but not overbearing in the mix, and the drums and bass behind do well in setting up a build just past the midpoint where layers of backing choral vocals push her forward to set up a section of vitriolic screams and growls and spiteful lyrics. Wrong likewise tears into another echoing solo as Brown and Carson plod away behind, and “Burn You Down” lumbers to its finish and comes apart to silence at the close of the record’s first half.

As much as the narrative of Witch Mountain is invariably going to be based around the band pressing forward after what would have been the undoing of many acts — and not unreasonably so; that’s the story here and not a minor accomplishment — the truth is that happened three years ago and what’s even more striking is the movement and command within these songs. “Burn You Down,” inarguably the angriest track on the record, still keeps its sense of control as it shifts from one part to the next, and its motion is consuming.

There’s less time for swapping out vibes, but 2:23 acoustic-based side B opener “Hellfire” finds Dixon backed by a simple guitar line and cymbal washes, some piano, as she becomes an entire gospel choir and backs her own central lyric with professional-level ease. There’s a pause as if to say, “Okay, you just let that sink in,” and then the far-back guitar of howl of 14-minute closer “Nighthawk” arrives, complemented by a drum build and bass rhythm that slams into the fullness of its slow push. The band trades back and forth in volume and Dixon drawls out early verses and at the three-minute mark gorgeously matches notes with the start of a short solo from Wrong before the next verse.

A linear build is underway subtly, and the Dixon choral layers reemerge as the band approaches five-minutes in and pick up the tempo ahead of another open stretch and highlight vocal performance, self-harmonies and all. At about 8:20, the guitar takes the fore again and leads the transition into a section of tom fills, chugging riffs and growls and screams working in unison. There’s a break from the onslaught about two minutes later as the guitar seems to nod at fellow Oregonians and former tourmates YOB, but the churn fades back in and soon enough they’re back to destruction-mode. The final break is just after 12 minutes in and sets up a crescendo of spoken and sung vocals, full-on riffing and dirge march behind until the last wash of cymbal and fading feedback signals the end.

I’ve said as much before, but it bears repeating: They did it. They pulled it off. There’s no question in listening to Witch Mountain‘s Witch Mountain that the band is aware of who they are and what they want to be, but as much as one might argue the album is a reset, it’s not at all a step backward. They’ve set themselves on a new course that holds over elements of who they were before and will allow them to continue to progress as an outfit, and while for sure there will be some who doubt, once or twice through the album is enough to vaporize any question whatsoever. The statement is made. This is Witch Mountain. Long live.

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R.I.P. Announce Headlining Tour Starting this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

rip

Portland, Oregon’s R.I.P. play as support tonight in their hometown on the last of three dates for some little band you may have heard of called Electric Wizard. Not a bad gig to get by any means. The four-piece released their second album, Street Reaper (review here) last Fall, and in addition to the gigs with Electric Wizard, they’ve got a headlining run coming up beginning May 31 that will take them all the way out to the East Coast before they turn back around and hit up Electric Funeral Fest III in Denver alongside an impressive host of compatriots. One expects by then they’ll either be totally sick of each other or absolutely on fire when it comes time to play. Probably some combination of the two.

The PR wire has all the info you need:

rip tour poster

R.I.P tour West Coast with Electric Wizard this week, announce summer headlining dates

Portland Street Doom band’s Street Reaper album out now on RidingEasy

Portland, OR ‘Street Doom’ quartet R.I.P. announce their first full U.S. headlining tour to kick off on May 31st. Please see complete dates below.

R.I.P.’s sophomore album Street Reaper is available to hear and share via YouTube and Bandcamp.

When R.I.P. came crawling out of the sewers of Portland, OR last year, their grimy, sleazy Street Doom was already a fully formed monstrosity that quickly infected the minds of everyone it encountered. Now, borne from the band’s declining state of mental health and increasing focus on songwriting, Street Reaper is an even more unhinged and menacing album than their 2016 debut In The Wind.

Borrowing equally from 80s Rick Rubin productions and Murder Dog magazine aesthetics, Street Reaper is a streamlined, yet brutally raw manifesto of heavy metal ferocity hearkening to the era when both metal and hip hop were reviled as the work of street thugs intent on destroying America’s youth.

Throughout, Angel Martinez’s guitar and John Mullett’s bass are inextricably interlocked, sounding like a massive sonic steamroller, while drummer Willie D keeps the beat solid and simple for the most powerful impact. And, the band’s extensive touring and excessive virgin sacrifices have clearly endued singer Fuzz with evermore agile vocal chords to drive it all home with extreme precision.

Operating on the belief that doom is not tied to a tuning or a time signature, but rather a raw and terrified feeling, R.I.P. eschews well trodden fantasy and mysticism tropes of the genre and focuses on conveying the horror and chaos inherent in the everyday reality of the human mind. With several years of touring under their heavily studded belt, R.I.P. has distinguished themselves from the interchangeable hordes of bands trying to play heavy metal by crafting an aesthetic and a sound all their own, focusing on the things that make metal heavy rather than adhering to the formulaic confines of a particular sub-genre.

Street Reaper opens with the knockout punch of “Unmarked Grave” and the rest is just sheer bludgeoning for bludgeoning’s sake as the album echoes the grimy vibe of legends like Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Motorhead, with the no b.s. aesthetic of the early Metal Massacre compilations.

Street Reaper is available on LP, CD and download as of October 13th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records.

R.I.P. LIVE:
05/31 San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room
06/01 Reno, NV @ The Hideout
06/02 Las Vegas, NV @ Double Down
06/03 San Diego, CA @ Tower Bar
06/04 Long Beach, CA @ Blacklight
06/05 Flagstaff, AZ @ Green Room
06/06 Phoenix, AZ @ Tempe Tavern
06/07 Tucson, AZ @ Loudhouse
06/08 El Paso, TX @ Cigar Bar
06/09 Austin, TX @ Lost Well
06/10 San Antonio, TX @ The Mix
06/11 Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s
06/12 New Orleans, LA @ Poor Boys
06/14 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
06/15 Washington, DC @ TBA
06/16 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
06/18 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
06/19 New York, NY @ Saint Vitus
06/20 Boston, MA @ O’Briens
06/21 Brattleboro, VT @ TBA
06/22 Pittsburgh, PA @ Rock Room
06/23 Canton, OH @ The Buzz Bin
06/25 Dayton, OH @ Forces House
06/26 Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge
06/27 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
06/28 Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
06/29 Denver, CO @ Electric Funeral III
06/30 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Beehive

facebook.com/R.I.P.P.D.X
instagram.com/R.I.P.P.D.X
braveinthegrave.bandcamp.com
ridingeasyrecords.com

R.I.P., Street Reaper (2017)

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