Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman: Swagger and Soul

Posted in Reviews on September 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork mankind woman

Strip it down. The central mission of Brant Bjork‘s 12th studio album seems to have been to get back to basics, and that means groove. There’s ultra-funk that runs deep throughout Mankind Woman, and in songs like “Chocolatize” and “Somebody,” the godfather of desert rock crafts his most intimate-sounding release in at least a decade, if not longer. It’s a collection informed by the soulful aspects of records like 1999’s mellow-heavy desert classic Jalamanta (discussed herealso here) and particularly 2002’s Brant Bjork and the Operators, which was made under similar circumstances of close collaboration.

In this case, Bjork worked together with guitarist Bubba DuPree (ex-Void, also of Bjork‘s backing group, The Low Desert Punk Band) to write the material and bringing in recurring guest vocalist Sean Wheeler to take lead vocal spots on side B cuts “Pretty Hairy” and closer “Nation of Indica,” former Kyuss/Vista Chino bandmate Nick Oliveri and Armand Secco Sabal (who’s toured with Al di Meola) for bass spots. The result is an 11-track/38-minute easy-flowing LP that discards much of the aggressive edge of 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) — Bjork‘s two studio full-lengths through Napalm Records, which also issued the live outing, Europe ’16 (review here), last year — in favor of material that is smoother and more laid back.

Sure, the title-track sleeks its way into a Deep Purple (sans organ) boogie in its second half and the fittingly-enough centerpiece “Swagger and Sway” has some element of challenge in the lyrics, “Try to do something about it/I dare you,” but the prevailing vibe on Mankind Woman is more indebted to classic soul and R&B, melded of course with the signature desert rock style that Bjork has made his own over the better part of the last 20 years. Cuts like the shuffling “Lazy Wizards” and “Pisces” early in the tracklisting are straightforward in their style — the latter with a particularly resonant hook — and follow the opener “Chocolatize” (premiered here) in finding a place where something can be heavy and soothing at the same time, empty of pretense but more than a simple run through the motions of Bjork‘s modus.

As Bjork leaves Napalm behind for Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds, it’s easy to read Mankind Woman as the beginning of a new era for his work, and if that’s the case, then so be it. Even Wheeler brings the soul to “Pretty Hairy,” as opposed to the sort of punker spoken declarations of “Nation of Indica” and while funk is ever-present in Bjork‘s style, to hear him directly engage it as he does on “Chocolatize,” “Mankind Woman” itself and “Somebody” is a refreshing readjustment of the balance. It’s the ultimate cliché to say an opener ‘sets the tone’ for the rest of the album, but the chorus, “It’s time to chocolatize our thing/Right on,” seems to be as much a statement of purpose for the collection as a whole as it is a standout hook on its own, and Mankind Woman indeed remains affected by its energy and deceptively complex arrangement of layers.

B-funk? D-funk (for desert)? Either way, as “Lazy Wizards” subsequently unfolds its righteously subdued groove, the impression of “Chocolatize” before it holds firm and makes an underpinning for just about everything that follows, even as “Charlie Gin” dips into garage rock, the later “Brand New Old Times” seems to take on no-frills early-Beatles-gone-fuzz-R&B hookmaking, and the penultimate “1968” unfurls itself with an uptempo swing that would’ve been at home on a second Vista Chino effort, with Bjork himself donning the John Garcia mantle in his vocal approach.

brant bjork

Mankind Woman brings no shortage of sonic variety in moving from track to track, but it’s the overarching fluidity that makes it work so well as a front-to-back listen, the steady flow of the production (helmed by Dupree as well as Yosef Sanborn, who engineered and mixed) helping to unite individualized pieces across the whole work in classic-album form. Not that a record with a song called “1968” on it is exactly missing ties to that era that saw the birth of heavy in rock and roll, but clearly Mankind Woman is speaking to that moment in more than just that one especially upfront manner.

And no complaints for that. With the exception of “Brand New Old Times” — which is the shortest cut included at 2:04 — the songs are by and large longer on side B, with “Somebody” and “Nation of Indica” tapping into the kind of jammy feel that populated some of the longer-form material on other recent long-players, but is quicker in doing so, speaking to the general reining in that seems to be happening throughout Mankind Woman as Bjork effectively resets his methodology. Likely some of it is writing alongside DuPree, but even if Bjork‘s doing so is a one-off rather than indicative of a new direction to be developed over future works, then the point still stands.

Clearly it was time for something different coming off Tao of the Devil, and that’s manifest in these tracks whatever familiar elements they might otherwise contain. For longtime Brant Bjork fans, Mankind Woman should feel like a gift. It taps into a spirit that fell by the wayside as Bjork embraced wider-scale touring — that said, he’s hitting Europe again to support this release — and a more full-band approach, and it does so without moving backwards creatively. It refuses to compromise its soul or dull-down its funkified roll, and it shows Bjork squarely in command of his style, songwriting and performance. Actually, I take that back. There’s nothing square about it.

Brant Bjork‘s legacy doesn’t — or shouldn’t — need to be recounted. From his days drumming and writing in Kyuss to joining Fu Manchu, to the one-off with Ché en route to establishing himself as a solo artist and releasing albums of diverse sound and consistent quality, he’s been nothing short of essential to the process of shaping desert rock into the multinational phenomenon it is today. Mankind Woman is true to this pedigree, but like each of Bjork‘s offerings, it has a personality unto itself and speaks to the ongoing creative growth of an absolute master of the form. Hearing it is only going to make your day better.

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Brant Bjork, Tres Dias & Local Angel: Easing In

Posted in Reviews on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork tres dias

When Heavy Psych Sounds announced it had signed Brant Bjork, it was unquestionably good news. With California desert precedent success on the label from Nick Oliveri, Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson, it made sense that after Bjork wrapped the three-album deal with Napalm Records that resulted in 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) and 2017’s live album, Europe ’16 (review here), he too would sign on with the emergent Italian imprint. Even better was word that his back catalog from 1999 through 2010 would be reissued by his new label, digitally as well as physically on CD and limited vinyl. Bjork was maddeningly productive during those years, releasing under his own name as well as Brant Bjork and the Operators and Brant Bjork and the Bros, and as he was mostly self-releasing under the banners of Duna Records or Low Desert Punk Records, the albums often went overlooked by a wider audience.

Now, with several years of hard touring in Europe and the US behind him, the time only seems right to get these albums back out to a public that might’ve missed them the first time out. And it’s a fascinating choice to start with late-2006’s Tres Dias and 2004’s Local Angel (also discussed here) since they are, without a doubt, the two most intimate albums Bjork produced during that 11-year/nine-album stretch. In addition to this, both represented a marked shift in approach when they arrived. For Local Angel, it came after the initial few solo outings from the former Fu Manchu and Kyuss drummer, and was still often electric in its foundation, but even more mellow than 2003’s Keep Your Cool, its direct predecessor. It remains a quiet and melody-centered collection of 10 tracks that are less about aggression or even heft than about an easy vibe and sheer aural chill.

Likewise, Tres Dias, which actually begins the Heavy Psych Sounds series, is a mostly-acoustic solo record that landed smack in the middle of the Brant Bjork and the Bros era. The band debuted in 2005 with the double-CD Saved by Magic and would follow that up with 2007’s Somera Sól. Tres Dias departed from The Bros and though it features some older material and would share the songs “Love is Revolution,” “Chinarosa” and “The Native Tongue” with the subsequent offering, the sonic left turn in Tres Dias is immediately palpable. One recalls that when it was first released, Bjork noted the spirit he wanted to capture was taking his guitar to a park and playing under a tree to nobody in particular, just singing songs to enjoy them. That remains a striking image, and the album remains a snapshot of the idea made manifest.

With an anchor hook in the classic protest song “Love is Revolution,” the eight-song Tres Dias imagines a desert folk music that’s Bjork makes his own by putting his vocals at the center with his acoustic and adding flourish in electric wah atmosphere as heard on “Chinarosa.” It was a dark time politically when the songs were written — 2006 seemed to be an abyss of war that would never end; and hey! it didn’t — and in addition to “Love is Revolution,” “Video,” which originally appeared on Keep Your Cool as “Gonna Make the Scene” and even the opener, a revisit of “Too Many Chiefs” from Bjork‘s 1999 Man’s Ruin Records solo debut, Jalamanta (discussed herealso here), would seem to find a different social context for the revisit. The most elaborate arrangement would seem to be for “The Native Tongue,” which has subdued electric guitar and percussion, but it’s no less fluid than anything that surrounds and whether it’s the insistent strum of Saved by Magic‘s “The Messengers” or the riffy groove of “Right Time,” which would become the title-track of 2008’s Punk Rock GuiltTres Dias stripped away everything but the songwriting and performance and allowed Bjork‘s work to shine in a way it never had before.

Brant Bjork Local Angel

Would it exist without the precedent of Local Angel? I don’t know. I also don’t know if it’s the label or Bjork himself picking the order in which the reissues arrive in this series, but certainly with these two back-to-back, it’s easy enough to read the narrative of succession in reverse, though it’s just as likely Tres Dias into Local Angel is a way of easing into the more active material in Bjork‘s 1999-2010 discography. I won’t speculate as to the thought behind it. More importantly, the revisit of Local Angel, along with a marked redux of the artwork, once more highlights the man himself as a songwriter. “Beautiful Powers,” “Hippie,” “Chico” and “The Feelin'” make for a striking opening salvo with the even-funkier “Bliss Ave.” rounding out side A. While “plugged” and drummed, the tracks are subtle in their execution, bringing an organic sensibility that stands out to this day from everything else Bjork has done. Specifically in the context of these reissues, it can be read as a midpoint between other works and Tres Dias, but the truth is that Local Angel stands alone.

The original CD had bonus track covers of “Hey Joe” and The Ramones‘ “I Want You Around” that seem to have disappeared, but the smooth vibes continue on side B with “Fly to Haiti,” the Thin Lizzy-vibing “You’re Alright,” which is also arguably the most active cut on the album, the relatively minimal “Spanish Tiles,” “She’s Only Tryin'” which gives “You’re Alright” a run for its money, and closer “The Good Fight,” which more than earns the rhythmic handclaps in its second half. Even in its most uptempo or full-band-sounding material, Local Angel is gloriously understated. I’ve always found it to be one of Bjork‘s easiest listens and, frankly, have never stopped going back to it periodically in the 14 years since its release. I recognize that doesn’t exactly make me impartial when it comes to assessing the reissue, but if the point is to get these albums back out to people who might’ve missed them or not been around when they landed the first time, Local Angel has definitely more than earned at least that additional look.

One could say the same of Tres Dias and of the rest of Bjork‘s work during this period as well, and not to put too fine a point on it, but as other albums continue to resurface, “one” — me, particularly — probably will. The chance to revisit Brant Bjork‘s solo works is an opportunity not only to hear him shape his own sound, but to hear him help shape desert rock as well. I won’t discount his contributions to the style in Kyuss or anything else he’s done along the way, whether it’s Fu ManchuChéVista Chino, etc., but if you want to know how he got to be the godfather of desert rock that he is, it was this period when it happened, and these reissues are a chance for longtime and recent fans to give those moments their long-due appreciation.

Brant Bjork, Tres Dias (2006/2018)

Brant Bjork, Local Angel (2004/2018)

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John Garcia Postpones European Tour to 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

john garcia and the band of gold

Well, they’ll miss this year’s Fall festival season, but something tells me the month-long stint rescheduled for Jan.-Feb. 2019 won’t be the last time John Garcia and the Band of Gold tour Europe in support of their impending new album. I’m curious as to whether or not Garcia‘s new outfit will release that album via Napalm Records or through another outlet. Garcia‘s Kyuss/Vista Chino bandmate Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band recently finished their three-album deal, and I think this would make three releases for Garcia on the same label behind last year’s The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) and his 2014 self-titled solo debut (review here), so it would make sense. But the nature of plans is to change, as evidenced by the fact that the tour’s been rescheduled in the first place, so who knows?

Not me, in any case. But through ups and downs with the aforementioned Kyuss and Vista Chino, as well as his sundry other outfits Slo BurnUnida and HermanoGarcia‘s proven he’s nothing if not a survivor. I look forward to hearing John Garcia and the Band of Gold‘s debut LP, however and whenever it might arrive.

Rescheduled tour dates follow here, as hoisted from thee social medias:

john garcia and the band of gold tour poster

JOHN GARCIA & THE BAND OF GOLD reschedule all European headline shows to 2019. The performances at Desertfest, Up In Smoke and Into The Void are cancelled. Dates in Zürich (CH), Gothenburg (SE), Leuven (BE) and Tilburg (NL) were added to the touring schedule.

JOHN GARCIA states:
“Although the Ocotober / November has been postponed, I’m pleased to announce the release of the new dates and shows in January and February of 2019. It was essential for the health of my new record which will be out this fall that we postponed the tour. I will never give up on my band, my team and the love of music for a lack luster record. Myself and my Band of Gold have big plans for 2019 and it all starts with this tour. Stoked and shaka till death!!”

All purchased tickets remain valid for the re-scheduled dates. If anyone can’t make it to the new dates, please contact your place of purchase.

John Garcia and the Band of Gold tour dates:
01.23 Paris FR Le Trabendo
01.24 Bordeaux FR Le Krakatoa
01.25 Madrid ES Caracol
01.26 Barcelona ES Razzamatazz 2
01.28 Lyon FR Le Kao
01.29 Zurich CH Bogen F.
01.30 Milan IT Santeria Club
01.31 Munich DE Backstage Halle
02.02 Graz AT Explosiv
02.03 Budapest HU A38
02.04 Prague CZ Rock Cafe
02.05 Nurnberg DE Hirsch
02.07 Jena DE F-Haus
02.08 Berlin DE SO36
02.09 Copenhagan DK Loppen
02.10 Oslo NO John Dee
02.12 Helsinki FI Tavastia
02.14 Stockholm SE Debaser Strand
02.15 Gothenburg SE Sticky Fingers
02.16 Hamburg DE Gruenspan
02.17 Cologne DE Helios 36
02.19 Leuven BE Het Depot
02.20 Aschaffenburg DE Colos-Sal
02.21 Essen DE Turock
02.22 Tilburg NL 013
02.23 London UK 02 Academy Islington

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John Garcia, “Kylie” official video

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Brant Bjork Premieres “Chocolatize” from Mankind Woman; Preorders up Today

Posted in audiObelisk on July 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

One of desert rock’s principal architects, Brant Bjork will release his new album, Mankind Woman, on Sept. 14 through Heavy Psych Sounds and I couldn’t possibly be more thrilled to host the premiere of the first audio from the record. Preorders go up in about two hours’ time through the labels website. “Chocolatize” is the opening track of the 11-song outing, which could easily be considered the beginning of a new era for Bjork, who’s spent the last five-plus years signed to Napalm Records, resulting in two studio LPs in 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) as well as the 2017 live outing Europe ’16 (review here). In addition to the forthcoming Mankind Woman, his new label home has hopped on board for reissues of his entire catalog from his 1999 solo debut Jalamanta (discussed herealso here) to 2010’s  Gods and Goddesses (review here), bringing new artwork and new vinyl to albums that have long gone underrated as Bjork has, along with his Low Desert Punk Band, jammed his way into hearts and minds throughout the US, Europe and elsewhere, earning consideration as one of the Californian desert’s chief practitioners of groove. I’ve called him the Godfather of Desert Rock more times than I can count, but I’ve yet to come up with anything more fitting for the position he holds in the genre.

Because it’s not just about riffs with Brant Bjork, and I think you can hear this in “Chocolatize.” Since the days of Jalamanta — now nearly 20 years ago; wow — he’s been more about the vibe. He’s got elements of punk and psychedelia and classic heavy rock, to be sure, but all of this is in conversation with influences from funk and soul, drawing from an entirely different kind of heavy ’70s. He’s toyed with this side of his sound to varying degrees throughout his career, but even his most subdued outings — 2007’s mostly acoustic Tres Dias, for example, which will begin Heavy Psych Sounds‘ reissue series — carried that foundation in soul. His signature riffing style, his smooth vocals, the sleek and swinging rhythms he brought to drumming in Kyuss and Fu Manchu: all of it comes together to create something that is Brant Bjork‘s own and largely inimitable, however broad his influence may have an in fact has become over the last two decades. One looks forward all the more to Mankind Woman with “Chocolatize” as a quick preview of what might be in store in terms of a natural production and a more intimate mood than some of what the last couple records have had on offer.

I won’t delay further, except to say that I’m looking forward to putting up a full review of the album closer to the release in September. Brant Bjork has European tour dates scheduled to begin in November that include a stop at the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, which is being held this year in Austria. You can find all of those below, as well as some more particulars about Mankind Woman, which, again, is due Sept. 14.

Please enjoy. Then put it on repeat and enjoy again.

And again:

Focusing on personal sensitivities, elite hypocrisies, racism, sexism and the daily struggle to find peace, love and understanding in today’s American society. Once again, BRANT BJORK created a record that reminds the listener that it is the ingredients of the jazz, blues and funk, that makes rock music taste so good. A must-have for all collectors, genre-fans and beyond!

BRANT BJORK New album “Mankind Woman”
Out September 14th on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
– Vinyl and CD preorder start July 3rd here

TRACK LISTING:
1. Chocolatize
2. Lazy Wizards
3. Charlie Gin
4. Mankind Woman
5. Pisces
6. Swagger & Sway
7. Somebody
8. Pretty Hairy
9. Brand New Old Times
10. 1968
11. Nation Of Indica
Album Art by Robin Gnista

“Mankind Woman” will be available in the following formats:
– 50 Test Pressing Vinyl (Only on Heavy Psych Sounds webshop)
– Limited edition “Colour in Colour” Brown in Orange Vinyl (Only on HPS webshop)
– Limited edition “3 colours A/B side Burst” Yellow / Red / Brown Vinyl (Only on HPS webshop)
– Limited edition “3 Colour Segment” Orange / Purple / Yellow Vinyl (Only on HPS webshop)
– Limited edition “Splatter Version” Transp. Background / Yellow, Purple, Orange, Red, Brown
– Black Vinyl
– CD Digipak and Digital Download

BRANT BJORK EUROPEAN TOUR 2018
02.11.18 NO Drammen |Union Scene
03.11.18 SW Stockholm | Debaser Strand
04.11.18 SW Göteborg | Sticky Fingers
05.11.18 SW Malmö | Kulturbolaget
06.11.18 DE Hamburg | Fabrik
07.11.18 NL Amsterdam | Melkweg
08.11.18 BE Leuven | Het Depot
09.11.18 UK London | Garage
10.11.18 FR Paris | Petit Bain
11.11.18 NL Tilburg | O13
12.11.18 DE Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
13.11.18 CH Zürich | Rote Fabrik
14.11.18 CH Martigny | Caves Du Manoir
15.11.18 IT Turin | Spazio 211
16.11.18 AT Innsbruck | Hafen (Heavy Psych Sounds Festival)
17.11.18 DE Munich | Feierwerk
18.11.18 AT Vienna | Arena
19.11.18 DE Dresden | Beatpol
20.11.18 DE Berlin | Festsaal Kreuzberg

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Brant Bjork Local Angel Reissue Due Sept. 28

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

I gotta say, I think it’s frickin’ awesome that Heavy Psych Sounds is starting with the two mellowest Brant Bjork albums as it makes its way through reissuing his catalog from 1999-2010. His fifth album, the mostly acoustic Tres Dias, was announced just over a week ago as being set for release on Sept. 21, and one week after that, the second in the series will be his fourth album, the also-way-subdued Local Angel (discussed here). Originally released in 2004, it’s a record to which I still return on not infrequent occasions, and as it’s going to be available with new artwork by Maarten Donders, it’s even more of a win than it would’ve been anyway. Available in two versions seen below (click them to enlarge), I think you’ll agree it looks pretty badass.

Info from the PR wire:

BRANT BJORK TO RE-RELEASE ‘LOCAL ANGEL’

COMING THIS SEPTEMBER ON HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS!

Local Angel is the fourth solo album by desert rock musician Brant Bjork. It is considered his most intimate and laid back record, mixing acoustic guitars and simple melodies. Produced by Brant Bjork and Tony Mason. Engineered by Tony Mason.
Recorded and mixed at Rancho de la Luna, February 6-15 2004. Mastered by Mathias Cornelius von Schneeberger at Donnor & Blitzen. All songs and music written, arranged, and performed by Brant Bjork.

Front cover angel by www.mistercartoon.com. Layout Bunker/Bjork for Dunart.

Reissue by Heavy Psych Sounds Records in September 2018. New reissue Art by Maarten Donders.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Too Many Chiefs…
2. Love Is My Revolution
3. Chinarosa
4. The Native Tongue
5. Video
6. Right Time
7. The Messengers
8. The Knight Surrenders Today

New artwork by Marcello “Rise Above” Crescenzi

BRANT BJORK has spent over a quarter-century at the epicenter of Californian desert rock. From cutting his teeth alongside Fatso Jetson’s Mario Lalli in hardcore punkers De-Con to drumming and composing on Kyuss’ landmark early albums, to propelling the seminal fuzz of Fu Manchu from 1994-2001 while producing other bands, putting together offshoot projects like Ché, embarking on his solo career as a singer, guitarist and bandleader, founding his own record label and more, his history is a winding narrative of relentless, unflinching creativity.

Catch the BRANT BJORK live on the following dates in Europe this Fall, with very special guest Sean Wheeler:

EUROPEAN TOUR 2018
02.11.18 NO Drammen |Union Scene
03.11.18 SW Stockholm | Debaser Strand
04.11.18 SW Göteborg | Sticky Fingers
05.11.18 SW Malmö | Kulturbolaget
06.11.18 DE Hamburg | Fabrik
07.11.18 NL Amsterdam | Melkweg
08.11.18 BE Leuven | Het Depot
09.11.18 UK London | Garage
10.11.18 FR Paris | Petit Bain
11.11.18 NL Tilburg | O13
12.11.18 DE Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
13.11.18 CH Zürich | Rote Fabrik
14.11.18 CH Martigny | Caves Du Manoir
15.11.18 IT Turin | Spazio 211
16.11.18 AT Innsbruck | Hafen (Heavy Psych Sounds Festival)
17.11.18 DE Munich | Feierwerk
18.11.18 AT Vienna | Arena
19.11.18 DE Dresden | Beatpol
20.11.18 DE Berlin | Festsaal Kreuzberg

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Brant Bjork, Local Angel (2004)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

[Click play above to stream Yawning Man’s new album, The Revolt Against Tired Noises, in its entirety. It’s out July 6 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

The California desert is fortunate to have Yawning Man as its soundtrack. For over 30 years in varying forms and degrees of activity, the instrumentalist outfit have been an entity unto themselves. Their sound today seems like the foundation for the laid back groove that is essential to desert rock as a style even in its most aggressive forms, and the tone of founding guitarist Gary Arce is a monument to open spaces. Together with bassist Mario Lalli — also guitarist/vocalist for Fatso Jetson, who are no slouches themselves when it comes to being desert rock legends — Arce resides at the foundation of the style, bringing elements of indie, punk, goth rock and more together into a brew that’s still potent these decades later. They’ve spent the better part of the 2010s touring periodically through Europe, and offered a surprise release in 2015’s Historical Graffiti (review here), which was something of an anomaly studio session in South America with an expanded lineup, but also the band’s first full-length since 2010’s Nomadic Pursuits (review here), so certainly more than a one-off or stopgap in reality.

Their new album, The Revolt Against Tired Noises, is their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds, which also issued Fatso Jetson‘s 2016 LP, Idle Hands (review here), and while its title is confrontational, the revolt Yawning ManArce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson — are ultimately leading is peaceful, rife with serene melodies in the guitar and unmitigated fluidity rife with purpose but carrying nonetheless an air of spontaneity, the in-deep-jam feeling that a track like side B opener “Violent Lights” can and will go anywhere its chemistry will allow, which is just about anywhere, period. The Revolt Against Tired Noises also includes vocals for the first time on a Yawning Man album from Lalli on the side A closer “Grant’s Heart” and the later “Catamaran” — the latter which was never recorded by Yawning Man but covered by Kyuss on 1995’s …And the Circus Leaves Town, thus codifying Yawning Man‘s influence on that seminal act. The singing turns out to be something of a footnote in the sphere of the entire eight-song/39-minute release, but it’s one more nuance to their work and provides listeners an anchor to each half of the album, so as not to simply drift into the ether, carried away by otherworldly tones and engaging, hypnotic rhythm.

Much of what’s included is nothing less than gorgeous. With Mathias Schneeberger (Fatso Jetson, Goatsnake, earthlings?, Earth, Yawning Man, The Obsessed, so many others) helming the recording, opener “Black Kite” provides a genuine shimmer leading into the record, and even has a bit of an instrumental hook in its later going, its long fadeout giving way to the title-track, which seems to work in subtle layers but brings Lalli‘s bass and Stinson‘s drums forward along with the guitar, so that all three players stand toe-to-toe in the mix. That has an effect of making “Revolt Against Tired Noises” (which seems to have dropped the “the” from the name of the album) a heavier overall sound, but it’s still consistent with the rest of its surroundings in tone and overall approach, including a midsection that’s as trance-inducing as I’ve ever heard Yawning Man get and an evocative finish that emerges, bringing one back to semi-consciousness for the start of “Skyline Pressure,” which is an extended redux of the title-track to Yawning Man side-project Ten East‘s 2016 album (review here), though also has its origins in Yawning Man proper. At 7:40, it’s the longest inclusion on the record and builds to a head just before four-minutes in — I’d swear I hear keys in there too; anything’s possible — and then drops out to cycle through again, the second journey different and even more pleasing than the first as the song meanders to its ending.

yawning man

As noted, there are two songs with Lalli singing on them, and they just happen to be the two shortest tracks on The Revolt Against Tired Noises: “Grant’s Heart” (3:18) and “Catamaran” (3:03). On linear formats — CD/DL — they appear with the six-minute “Violent Lights” between them, but they were clearly divided up to be included one on each vinyl side as well. Whether the origins of “Grant’s Heart” go back as far as those of “Catamaran,” I don’t know, but neither piece is out of place, and Lalli‘s voice is hardly jarring when it shows up, either for those who know the context of who these players are and what they do or for those who don’t. As riotous as Fatso Jetson can sometimes be, Yawning Man‘s vocals are more subdued, holding a melodic kinship to the guitar beneath them, and in “Grant’s Heart,” giving way to that guitar at about two minutes in, only to return in the fadeout a minute later. And while “Catamaran” will be familiar to desert rock heads from the John Garcia-fronted version, in Lalli‘s hands, it still has its chorus kick, but is more about flow than crunch, and very much Yawning Man‘s own, which is odd to say because it was their own in the first place. Especially coming out of the engrossing “Violent Lights,” which has some sense of foreboding in the low end around its halfway point but is otherwise much more about its howling wisps of floating guitar, “Catamaran” is something of a grounding force, but still coherent atmospherically with its surroundings.

“Misfortune Cookies,” which follows, isn’t much longer at 3:31, but reignites the album’s wandering-but-not-lost spirit and brings the guitar back as the center of the melody. An improvised-sounding jam, its run is linear and stretches outward, a long fade leading one to wonder just how much longer it might’ve gone before actually petering out. It leaves like a dream giving way to consciousness as it is, and as Stinson‘s drums start closer “Ghost Beach,” there’s all the more a sense of interaction between the real and the unreal. The Revolt Against Tired Noises may be fostering some kind of rebellion, but it’s doing so with the approach that Yawning Man trademarked a long time ago, and even if it takes them to new places, the paths they use to get there will be familiar and welcoming to longtime listeners and newcomers alike, the bouncing bassline of “Ghost Beach” and Arce‘s wailing, echoing leads both punctuated by the snare as the finale works its way toward dropping out the drums and letting Lalli‘s bass and Arce‘s guitar close out the last minute on their own, which is fair enough. Yawning Man have been perpetually underrated for 30 years. Any acclaim that The Revolt Against Tired Noises can bring them, they’ve long since deserved, but the album is more than just a showcase of legacy. It proves not only that Yawning Man‘s sound is timeless, but that it’s still growing, and that turns out to be its most righteous aspect.

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Yawning Man Add Dates to European Megatour; The Revolt Against Tired Noises out July 6

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

On July 12, instrumental desert rock legends Yawning Man will play the release show for their new album, The Revolt Against Tired Noises, which officially lands next week via Heavy Psych Sounds. The gig is at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, California. Out in the desert, which is about right. It’s the last of a couple shows in California around the release date for the record, two of which will be with Dead Meadow and all of which precede an utterly massive European tour set to kick off on July 25 in the Netherlands. Seven weeks. Not a minor stint. They’ve got killer dates lined up with slots at Lake on Fire, Riff Ritual and a whole bunch of other festival-type doings, but of particular note as well are some of the UK dates like Bristol, where Yawning Man will hook up with instrumentalist compatriots Sons of Alpha Centauri, with whom guitarist Gary Arce has collaborated in the past as Yawning Sons.

Does that mean it’s going to happen this time? Not necessarily, but Sons of Alpha Centauri might bring Arce out on stage during their set or something like that. It’s an intriguing possibility, in any case.

Updated dates for the tour follow here, as posted by Sound of Liberation on the social medias. Still a couple TBAs in there, so there might be another update before they head over:

YAWNING MAN NEW TOUR POSTER

Desert-rock legends Yawning Man will hit the European roads for a 7-week tour! They will be supporting their upcoming album “The Revolt Against Tired Noises”, which will be released in July via HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS!

New dates have been added lately, so check-out the updated list below:

YAWNING MAN in California:
7/5 CASBAH, San Diego CA with Dead Meadow
7/6 CAFE NELA, Cypress Park LA
7/7 TERAGRAM BALLROOM, LA with Dead Meadow
7/12 PAPPY and HARRIETS, Pioneertown CA

YAWNING MAN in Europe:
25.07 (NL) Utrecht – Db’s
27.07 (UK) Manchester – The Rebellion
28.07 (UK) Bristol – The Louisiana
29.07 (UK) London – The Black Heart
30.07 (FR) Paris – Glazart (NEW DATE!)
31.07 (D) Wiesbaden – Schlachthof
03.08 (IT) Osoppo – Pietra Sonica Festival
04.08 (A) Waldhausen – Lake On Fire Festival
05.08 (PL) Chorzow – Red & Black
06.08 (PL) Warsaw – Chmury
07.08 (D) Berlin – Toast Hawaii (NEW DATE!)
08.08 (SWE) Malmö – Norra Gränges (NEW DATE!)
09.08 (DK) Copenhagen – KB 18 (NEW DATE!)
11.08 (A) Döbriach – Sauzipf Rocks
13.08 (IT) Brescia – Festa Radio Onda D’Urto
14.08 (IT) Treviso – Benicio Live Gigs (NEW DATE!)
15.08 (IT) Porto Recanati – Copacabana Pulp Beach
16.08 (IT) Pescara – Frantic Fest
17.08 (IT) Molfetta – Eremo Club (NEW DATE!)
18.08 (IT) Galatone – Sagra Del Diavolo
19.08 (IT) Potenza – Pipistrello Pub (NEW DATE!)
21.08 (IT) Savignano – Sidro Club (NEW DATE!)
22.08 (IT) Como – TBA (NEW DATE!)
23.08 (IT) Vinadio – Balla Coi Cinghiali Festival (NEW DATE!)
24.08 (CH) Luzern – Sedel
25.08 (IT) Bolzano – Mountain Sessions
27.08 (HU) Budapest – Robot (NEW DATE!)
30.08 (GR) Thessaloniki – Street Mode Festival
31.08 (RO) Timisoara – Reflektor (NEW DATE!)
01.09 (RS) Belgrade – Atom Akademija (NEW DATE!)
02.09 (BU) Sofia – Mixtape 5
03.09 (HR) Zupanja – MKC
04.09 (SI) Ljubljana – Dvorana Rog
06.09 (FR) Clermont-Ferrand – Raymond Bar
07.09 (FR) Montpellier – Le Black Sheep
08.09 (SP) Barcelona – Riff Ritual fest
09.09 (SP) San Sebastian – Dabadaba
10.09 (SP) Gijon – Sala Memphis
11.09 (PO) Porto – Woodstock 69
12.09 (SP) Madrid – Wurlitzer Ballroom
13.09 (SP) Bilbao – Maritime Museum Bar

YAWNING MAN IS
Gary Arce – Guitar
Mario Lalli – Bass
Bill Stinson – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/yawningmanofficial/
https://yawningman.bandcamp.com
http://www.yawningman.com/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/yawning-man
https://www.facebook.com/Sound-of-Liberation-UG-183095098426785/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Yawning Man, Revolt Against Tired Noises album trailer

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Brant Bjork to Reissue Tres Dias Sept. 21 on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork (Photo Aija Svensson)

Well, it’s been several minutes — upwards of eight! — since the last time I posted an update about the many doings of desert rock legend Brant Bjork, so it seems only fair that news should come down the PR wire heralding word that, one week after the release of his new album, Mankind Woman (info here), he’ll be reissuing 2007’s Tres Dias through Heavy Psych Sounds as the beginning point of a series that will see his entire catalog from 1999 through 2010 — that’s Jalamanta (discussed here) through Gods and Goddesses (review here), by my count — to the general benefit of humanity at large. Interesting that the series would start with Tres Dias, which is the largely-unplugged predecessor to 2007’s Somera Sól (discussed here), since it is arguably Brant ‘s most minimal and intimate record, but I guess it’s more fascinating than either starting at the beginning and working up or starting with the newest one and going back. Mix and match. Should be fun.

And of course, Bjork will head over to Europe for a sizable tour this Fall, the dates for which you can also see below, along with the revamped Tres Dias cover art.

Dig:

brant bjork tres dias

BRANT BJORK to reissue “Tres Dias” album on September 21st through Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Heavy Psych Sounds Records is proud to start the reissuing of BRANT BJORK’s solo back catalogue from 1999 to 2010! First reissue is “Tres Dias”, coming along a brand new artwork and special and limited vinyl editions.

“Tres Dias” is the fifth solo album released by the godfather of desert rock BRANT BJORK. The album was recorded in Joshua Tree, California, before Christmas 2006. This 8-track album is a mix of old and new tracks.

BRANT BJORK has spent over a quarter-century at the epicenter of Californian desert rock. From cutting his teeth alongside Fatso Jetson’s Mario Lalli in hardcore punkers De-Con to drumming and composing on Kyuss’ landmark early albums, to propelling the seminal fuzz of Fu Manchu from 1994-2001 while producing other bands, putting together offshoot projects like Ché, embarking on his solo career as a singer, guitarist and bandleader, founding his own record label and more, his history is a winding narrative of relentless, unflinching creativity.

For someone so outwardly laid back, he’s never really taken a break. And while BRANT BJORK has shown different sides of himself on an album like his 2007’s mostly-acoustic Tres Dias, when you’re listening to Brant Bjork, you know it, because there’s no one else who sounds quite like him. He comments: “Been a long time since i celebrated these recordings. Couldnt think of a better time to re-release. Fresh art to represent “brand new old times”. Enjoy!”

“Tres Dias” was produced, recorded, and mixed by Tony Mason at Back of the Moon Studios, Joshua Tree, CA in 2007. The original artwork has been designed by Bunker/Bjork, the re-issued artwork comes by Marcello “Rise Above” Crescenzi.

The “Tres Dias” reissue on HPS Records will be available as:
– 30 Test Press (only on HPS webstore)
– 250 LTD Vinyl in Green/Yellow Quad (only on HPS webstore)
– 500 LTD Vinyl in Gold
– Black Vinyl
– CD and digital

BRANT BJORK “Tres Dias” reissue
Out September 21st on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
– Vinyl and CD preorder start July 3rd here

TRACK LISTING:
1. Too Many Chiefs…
2. Love Is My Revolution
3. Chinarosa
4. The Native Tongue
5. Video
6. Right Time
7. The Messengers
8. The Knight Surrenders Today

Catch the BRANT BJORK live on the following dates in Europe this Fall, with very special guest Sean Wheeler:

EUROPEAN TOUR 2018
02.11.18 NO Drammen |Union Scene
03.11.18 SW Stockholm | Debaser Strand
04.11.18 SW Göteborg | Sticky Fingers
05.11.18 SW Malmö | Kulturbolaget
06.11.18 DE Hamburg | Fabrik
07.11.18 NL Amsterdam | Melkweg
08.11.18 BE Leuven | Het Depot
09.11.18 UK London | Garage
10.11.18 FR Paris | Petit Bain
11.11.18 NL Tilburg | O13
12.11.18 DE Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
13.11.18 CH Zürich | Rote Fabrik
14.11.18 CH Martigny | Caves Du Manoir
15.11.18 IT Turin | Spazio 211
16.11.18 AT Innsbruck | Hafen (Heavy Psych Sounds Festival)
17.11.18 DE Munich | Feierwerk
18.11.18 AT Vienna | Arena
19.11.18 DE Dresden | Beatpol
20.11.18 DE Berlin | Festsaal Kreuzberg

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial
https://www.instagram.com/brant_bjork
https://twitter.com/brant_bjork
http://www.brantbjork.com
http://www.stonedanddusted.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Brant Bjork, Tres Dias

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