Friday Full-Length: Hermano, …Into the Exam Room

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hermano, …Into the Exam Room (2007)

In the vast catalog of vocalist John Garcia, which includes Unida, Slo Burn, Vista Chino, three solo records, Zun and more guest appearances than I can count in addition to his time fronting the formative desert rockers Kyuss, Hermano‘s third album, …Into the Exam Room, is the most undervalued. Issued in 2007 by Suburban Records, it was recorded in no fewer than six studios, featured writing contributions from Garcia as well as guitarists Dave Angstrom and Mike Callahan, bassist Dandy BrownChris Leathers completed the lineup and I’m sure came up with his own parts — and Sean Bilovecky, who was one of the 10 engineers credited working in geographic locales like Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and indeed, Palm Springs, California. At that point, is it even fair to call …Into the Exam Room a desert rock album? Therein lies the appeal. It is desert rock, and so much more.

Hermano‘s earlier work on 2002’s …Only a Suggestion (discussed here) and 2004’s Dare I Say… was straight-up desert-style songcraft, following in a tradition Garcia helped create. Though it must have been a logistical nightmare to put together, let alone to mix — I think this was the first time I interviewed Garcia; he was working as a vet tech; he mostly spoke about being a family man and was driving his family to a basketball game at the time? pretty sure that’s how it went — …Into the Exam Room blew down the doors of genre. Absolutely, songs like “Left Side Bleeding” and “Hard Working Wall,” “Adoption Boy,” the penultimate “Our Desert Home” and even opener “Kentucky” had desert rock on lockdown. No question. The push, the tonal weight, and of course Garcia‘s vocal style — yes. It was all there. But …Into the Exam Room‘s 12 tracks went so far beyond that as to make it just one more element at their disposal, to be used at moments when it might be most effective, for example, with “Left Side Bleeding” taking off at a sprint from the finish of the acoustic “Dark Horse II.” Garcia’s last crooned line in that song was, “I’m so much more,” and …Into the Exam Room was the record where he proved it.

Not just on mostly-unplugged cuts like “Dark Horse II,” “Bona Fide” or “At the Bar” — which itself appeared ahead of the mega-hook in “Our Desert Home” — but on the unmitigated heavy funk rock of “Exam Room” itself, or the loose-feeling but still tightly constructed “Out of Key, But in the Mood” or even “Don’t Call Your Mama,” with its relatively dead-ahead start and memorable chorus, which ended up reiterated by Garcia alone for the final minute as the instruments largely dropped out behind him. Through complex arrangements and nuanced sonic dhermano into the exam roometailing, these songs pushed well beyond anything Hermano had done before, and that extended even to the in-the-studio atmosphere given to the tracks by the inclusion of short intros, even just toss-off gag lines and things like that. I don’t think one would get away with including the inflected lisp at the beginning of “Our Desert Home” these days without being called out for it — at least I hope not — but whether it was the quick bit of guitar noise at the start of “Hard Working Wall,” the far-away dream vocals that begin “Dark Horse II” or the revving motor that set the album in motion in “Kentucky” and the reference to “Dueling Banjos” that ended that opener, these little moments added to the inherent diversity of the material and helped set a wide-open creative sphere in which the record took place. They gave it more personality, and in the case of “At the Bar,” the recorded child’s voice of Calliope Brown — presumably the progeny of Dandy Brown — set up the closer “Letters from Madrid” two tracks later, which featured Angstrom‘s daughter and son, Audrey Angstrom and Evan Angstrom, strumming an acoustic guitar and repeating the line, “Everyone still believes in you but you” before ending with both kids saying “I love you, daddy.” Tearjerker.

And maybe that’s what Hermano were doing on …Into the Exam Room. I recall Garcia at the time noting that the title referred to looking at one’s life, and certainly the semi-title-track “Exam Room” lived up to that — “Well you’ve got 40 more years to go drown in your tears/And the little hand’s slower than the big hand, honey” — so perhaps this work, spread from one end of the country to the other and recorded in a manner so complicated I can even pretend to have a grasp on how it happened, is Hermano with the advent of middle age, with home life. Maybe it was supposed to be a blowout. I don’t know. Whatever it was, …Into the Exam Room was a mature vision of style that legitimately did desert rock in a way it had never been done before. And it kinda flopped.

Maybe it was the wrong moment? Maybe if it came out today it would do better? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that …Into the Exam Room was the last record Hermano released — though they were playing new material three years ago, so when I say “last,” take the potential impermanence of that into consideration — and that Garcia subsequently went on to form Garcia Plays Kyuss in 2010, which became the semi-reunion Kyuss Lives!, which in turn became Vista Chino. In some ways, I look at …Into the Exam Room like Vista Chino‘s lone 2013 album, Peace (review here, also discussed here). It was a way to move forward. Still acknowledging the past, but not necessarily dwelling in it. I thought Vista Chino had a real chance to build something new, but I think it was another case where they didn’t get the public response they wanted, so went their separate ways.

Same thing here, though the complex logistics very well could’ve also played a part. Still, Dandy Brown does solo work. Angstrom has stayed involved with Garcia on the songwriting front, Garcia dutifully delivers desert rock with his Band of Gold, and Hermano kind of disintegrated at least until their onstage reunion a few years back at Hellfest in France. Entirely possible they’re working quietly on a follow-up fourth LP, but even if they are, that doesn’t change the fact that …Into the Exam Room has languished for 12 years as a ridiculously underrated album. What should’ve been a springboard to Hermano stepping out of the shadow of Garcia‘s past in Kyuss instead became their final record. A loss for sure in terms of the potential, but listening back to …Into the Exam Room more than a decade after the fact, I can’t help but feel lucky we got this record in the first place.

This one’s for Slevin. As always, I hope you enjoy.

I got unceremoniously fucked out of an audio premiere this week. Brutally. It happens all the time that PR companies and record labels decide to do streams with a bigger outlet, and hey, I get it. They’re getting paid to get shit in front of as many eyes as possible, and just because I might write some hyper-wordy piece about how crucial a band’s work is doesn’t mean I have the same reach as Revolver or Kerrang or whoever. I get it. I’ve been involved one shape or another in the music industry for 15 years. People have dumb hair and wear t-shirts, but at the end of the day, it’s a business. Not personal.

Usually I let it go. This is a low-stakes thing. We’re not solving climate change here. This one hurt though primarily because of the people involved, and because it was something that had been committed to me that was when taken away for ostensibly a bigger outlet (I’m not even sure that it is, but I’m not going to name names, and obviously it was neither of the mags above). I was set to go, and after arranging it like a month ago, this week it got pulled. It’s one of the year’s best records, from band I’ve been writing about for seven years, on a label I’ve been covering voraciously since before this site started 10 years ago, and yeah, I just got straight-up fucked over. As I said, brutal.

That, combined with ongoing tooth pain, kind of colored my week in a distinct hue of “everybody fuck off.” I went saw the Deep Space Nine documentary with The Patient Mrs. on Monday in an opiate fog of leftover percocet from some medical procedure or other, and was still holding my aching head in my hands by the end. I finally got to the dentist on Tuesday afternoon and they indeed found an infection that had spread to multiple teeth and decided I needed an emergency root canal as well as antibiotics. Super duper. So they numbed me up and let me sit there and wait 45 minutes before starting the procedure — dentist had two patients with the same appointment and was next door fitting a crown, as I could hear through an open doorway — then came back, found I wasn’t numb enough when they started digging through my tooth and it was excruciating. Another three shots of novocaine, the last two right in the nerve, which hurt. Significantly.

Eventually I was numb enough that I couldn’t feel the dentist scraping the nerve out of my tooth. He left it open so the infection could drain — yup, gave me a big ol’ hole-in-the-tooth; still got it — and I have to go back Monday so they can finish the procedure. I fainted at the counter making my next appointment. Fell over and everything. Ker-plunk. They put me on the couch and gave me one of those little plastic rinse cups of water. I felt old, and sad, and alone.

So yeah. My mouth still hurts, though nowhere near the constant infected throb it was last weekend. Just enough to still be there.

Here’s what’s up for next week:

MON 05/20 WOLF PRAYER VID PREMIERE; KANDODO3 TRACK PREMIERE/REVIEW
TUE 05/21 VALLEY OF THE SUN REVIEW
WED 05/22 ABRAHMA FULL ALBUM STREAM
WED 05/22 TOUR ANNOUNCE; SLEEP LIVE RECORD REVIEW
FRI 05/24 SLOUGH FEG PREMIERE/REVIEW (MAYBE)

That Slough Feg is going to happen, it’s just a question of whether it happens next Friday or some other time. The rest is pretty much locked in, as much as anything. Subject to change blah blah, as usual.

The process of moving south back to New Jersey has begun as The Patient Mrs. and I have started packing. Home Depot moving boxes haven’t changed much in the last half-decade, it seems. Old t-shirts and stuff go first, I guess. I’ll do records sooner or later. I’d prefer sooner, just to get it done, but who the hell knows. It’s going to be a long, busy summer on the I-95 corridor, I think. Good thing I’m not doing anything crazy like flying to Ireland next week.

Oh wait.

Yeah, that’s happening. The Patient Mrs., in one of her final acts as full-time faculty for Bridgewater State University, here in not-at-all-scenic Southeastern Massachusetts, is taking students on a study-abroad trip from I guess this Thursday through June 3. It’s madness, I tell you. I’m going basically to provide childcare, as I did in London last year. I don’t know how that will affect posts or whatever during travel days. I’d like to buy a throwaway cheapie 11″ laptop rather than risk traveling with this one, which is huge and has like my whole life on it, but I don’t think the money is there for such things.

Oh, and tonight’s like a going-away party The Patient Mrs. is throwing with two of her friends at our place that maybe like 30-50 people are coming to? Strangers to me, mostly. I didn’t invite anyone because I don’t have any friends in real life and I expect to be sad and then to go to sleep early without saying goodnight. Because that’s who I am. I’m the guy who faints at the counter in the dentist’s office.

Fuck it. I’m gonna premiere Kandodo3 and Slough Feg next week. Life is awesome.

Have a great and safe weekend. Please hit up the shirts and such at Dropout Merch, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Yawning Man Set June 14 Release for Macedonian Lines; Preorder Up & Video Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

yawning man heavy psych sounds

Yawning Man are working on a quick turnaround from 2018’s The Revolt Against Tired Noises (review here) to release their new LP, Macedonian Lines, in June on Heavy Psych Sounds, but listening to the album only confirms the experimentalist approach that’s let them do so. Exploring some moodier atmospheres with keys and their inimitable tones, the pivotal desert rock three-piece will use the long-player’s release as the launch point for a European tour in June, so the timing works on multiple levels. They’ve got a video posted for the title-track that shows some of where they’re coming from in terms of sound this time around, and it’s a twist on the established Yawning Man approach that’s made them so widely influential. Take a second and check it out.

Cover art and PR wire whatnot follow, as well as the preorder link, should you want to get in on that.

And you probably should:

Yawning Man Macedonian Lines

YAWNING MAN share details + stunning video off new “Macedonian Lines” album on Heavy Psych Sounds; preorder available now!

YAWNING MAN continue to establish their exceptionally unique approach to rock music on the bands latest album “Macedonian Lines” (Heavy Psych Sounds Records). The follow up to the critically acclaimed “Revolt Against Tired Noises” shows a further maturing of melody, dynamics and emotion in the bands songwriting. Yawning Man’s roots lay at the foundation of the desert rock and stoner rock sub-genres, however the music the band creates is truly organic and visceral, conjuring a flowing imagery and a emotional response. On this release, the band has a darker and massively heavier sound than past recordings as most of these tracks were developed in live performance and then fully realized in the studio. YAWNING MAN returned to Gatos Trail Studio in the Joshua Tree CA desert to record this album and the space and beauty of the surroundings is ever present in every track. Heavy, beautiful, and delicate. Gary Arce, Mario Lalli and Bill Stinson continue to expand and dig deep with every track.

Mario Lalli (bass) says about the new record: “Macedonian Lines represents the spirit of this band beyond the sound and composition. All the elements of this song were created in live improvisations during Yawning Man’s last European tour. The band refined the ideas night after night in front of live audiences. By tour’s end, the composition is what your hear on the new LP…. truly organic. The title comes from the band’s experiences crossing the Eastern European borders during this turbulent time of refugee migrations and political discord, while the music tends to add beauty to these observations.

‘Macedonian Lines’ will be available June 14th in the following formats; preorder at this location: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS105

– 30 Test Press vinyl
– 250 LTD Orange vinyl
– 650 Yellow splatter/Purple/Red vinyl
– Black vinyl
– CD and digital

YAWNING MAN New album “Macedonian Lines”
Out June 14th on Heavy Psych Sounds

TRACK LISTING:
1. Virtual Funeral
2. Macedonian Lines
3. Melancholy Sadie
4. Bowie’s Last Breath
5. I’m Not A Real Indian (But I Play One On TV)
6. I Make Weird Choices

YAWNING MAN LIVE:
13.06.19 Amsterdam | Melkweg
14.06.19 Achterhoek | Manana Festival
15.06.19 Liège | La Zone
16.06.19 Bristol | The Lane
18.06.19 Manchester | Rebellion
19.06.19 Glasgow | Audio
20.06.19 Coventry | The Phoenix
22.06.19 Tunbridge Wells | Black Deer Festival
25.06.19 Hamburg | Markthalle
26.06.19 Köln | Sonic Ballroom
27.06.19 Karlsruhe | Alte Hackerei
29.06.19 Vitoria | Hell Dorado
02.07.19 Barcelona | Rocksound
03.07.19 Bilbao | Satelite T
04.07.19 Bordeaux | Astroshøw Open Air
06.07.19 Leuven | Sojo
10.07.19 Cottbus | Zum Faulen August
11.07.19 Wien | Arena
12.07.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse
13.07.19 Erfurt | Stoned From The Underground
14.07.19 Pleszew | Red Smoke Festival
23.07.19 Munich | Free & Easy Festival
25.07.19 Breitenbach | Burg Herzberg Festival

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.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Yawning Man, “Macedonian Lines” official video

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Yawning Man Announce New Album Due in June on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Yawning Man will release a new album in June through Heavy Psych Sounds to coincide with their previously announced European tour. Info on the record is pretty sparse at this point, as regards title and songs and so on, but preorders start next week and there’s reportedly audio to come then as well, so I assume this preliminary announcement will be followed up with more news next week. Suits me just fine. I don’t know if you heard it, but 2018’s The Revolt Against Tired Noises (review here) was an absolute gem, and it’s awesome that the band are following it up so quickly. Don’t forget they also toured in the US earlier this year, so it’s quite a bit of productivity for the band who count their origins as well over 30 years ago and who still have never quite gotten their due. A sense of urgency suits them. Can’t wait to hear the record.

Fresh off the PR wire:

yawning man heavy psych sounds

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS is stoked to announce that our desert rock godfathers YAWNING MAN are coming back with a brand new album in June !!!

PRESALE STARTS: APRIL 16th

Formed in the late 1980’s, the lineup of Gary Arce, Mario Lalli, and Bill Stinson rounds out their yearlong active recording and touring schedule. Arce and Lalli’s background together date back to the start of Yawning Man with Stinson’s background steeped in the SST Records world through performing and recording with Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski of Black Flag for several years. Yawning Man is acknowledged and recognized throughout the underground heavy music community as a key piece in the developments of the desert/stoner rock subgenres. While their contemporaries gravitated toward the heavy riffs of grunge, and post punk, Yawning Man leaned in another direction with their unique and organic, cinematic compositions and psychedelic improvisations…the perfect soundtrack to encompass the spacious moonscape atmosphere of the well documented “generator parties” of their area in the late 1980’s.

It was at these gatherings where they developed this distinctive style and sound by enchanting spectators with their seemingly endless free form instrumental sessions, which echoed through the beautiful deserts, mesas, and landscapes of the Coachella Valley. As time passed, their legend grew with notable names of the Palm Desert music scene paying homage to the group through mention and praise, notably with legendary desert band Kyuss (Joshua Homme, Brant Bjork, John Garcia, Scott Reeder) doing their own rendition of the Yawning Man track “Catamaran” on the 1995 Elektra release ..And The Circus Leaves Town. Festival appearances include Hellfest (FR), Azkena Fest (ES), Reverence Fest (ES) Desertfest London, Desertfest Berlin, Up in Smoke (CH), Psycho Las Vegas (US), Stoned & Dusted I & II (US), and various others. The recent documentaries on the Deserts unique music scene Lo Sound Desert and Desert Age give light on Yawning Man’s influential impact on underground rock music.

13.06.19 Amsterdam | Melkweg
14.06.19 Achterhoek | Manana Festival
15.06.19 Liège | La Zone
16.06.19 Bristol | The Lane
18.06.19 Manchester | Rebellion
19.06.19 Glasgow | Audio
20.06.19 Coventry | The Phoenix
22.06.19 Tunbridge Wells | Black Deer Festival
25.06.19 Hamburg | Markthalle
26.06.19 Köln | Sonic Ballroom
27.06.19 Karlsruhe | Alte Hackerei
29.06.19 Vitoria | Hell Dorado
02.07.19 Barcelona | Rocksound
03.07.19 Bilbao | Satelite T
04.07.19 Bordeaux | Astroshøw Open Air
06.07.19 Leuven | Sojo
10.07.19 Cottbus | Zum Faulen August
11.07.19 Wien | Arena
12.07.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse
13.07.19 Erfurt | Stoned From The Underground
14.07.19 Pleszew | Red Smoke Festival
23.07.19 Munich | Free & Easy Festival
25.07.19 Breitenbach | Burg Herzberg Festival

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.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Yawning Man, Live at Bovine Sex Club, Jan. 20, 2019

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Yawning Man Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

yawning man

Yawning Man recently finished a plenty-extensive North American tour — I saw them in Brooklyn; they ruled — and were in Europe as recently as last September, so it’s safe to say they’re in high gear at the moment, though one might not know it from the ultra-serene sounds that actually emanate from the stage when they play. The Californian desert rock forebears will return to Europe this summer in genuine working-band-making-a-go-of-it fashion as they continue to support 2018’s The Revolt Against Tired Noises (review here), and we already know that after this run, which features stops at Black Deer Fest in the UK, as well as Stoned from the Underground in Germany, Red Smoke in Poland and Burg Herzberg in Germany, among others, and before they even go, they’ll be in CA this May to appear at their label’s first-ever US edition of its Heavy Psych Sounds Fest. To say they’re keeping busy would be understating it.

But they are. Keeping busy.

I’ll be interested to see what their Fall plans are, if they’ll do another US run or maybe put themselves in full album-cycle mode and start writing again ahead of more touring in 2020. I guess we’ve got some time before we get there. But right now, it seems like Yawning Man are the most active they’ve ever been, and for a band with more than 30 years’ history, that’s saying something.

Sound of Liberation posted the Euro dates thusly:

yawning man euro tour

Yawning Man will be back in Europe next summer! Here are the first dates! More will be added soon.

13.06.19 Amsterdam | Melkweg
14.06.19 Achterhoek | Manana Festival
15.06.19 Liège | La Zone
16.06.19 Bristol | The Lane
18.06.19 Manchester | Rebellion
19.06.19 Glasgow | Audio
20.06.19 Coventry | The Phoenix
22.06.19 Tunbridge Wells | Black Deer Festival
25.06.19 Hamburg | Markthalle
26.06.19 Köln | Sonic Ballroom
27.06.19 Karlsruhe | Alte Hackerei
29.06.19 Vitoria | Hell Dorado
02.07.19 Barcelona | Rocksound
03.07.19 Bilbao | Satelite T
04.07.19 Bordeaux | Astroshøw Open Air
06.07.19 Leuven | Sojo
10.07.19 Cottbus | Zum Faulen August
11.07.19 Wien | Arena
12.07.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse
13.07.19 Erfurt | Stoned From The Underground
14.07.19 Pleszew | Red Smoke Festival
23.07.19 Munich | Free & Easy Festival
25.07.19 Breitenbach | Burg Herzberg Festival

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.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Yawning Man, Live at Bovine Sex Club, Jan. 20, 2019

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Friday Full-Length: Fatso Jetson, Toasted

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

If Nietzsche went beyond good and evil, then surely Fatso Jetson exist beyond weird and normal. They’re often credited as one of the principal founding acts of desert rock, and fair enough, but they’ve also always held a spot on a wavelength of their own, no less comfortable in strains of bizarre prog, manic surf-jazz or punk than in floor-of-hot-coals boogie. Their third album, Toasted, was recorded in 1998 for release through Bong Load Custom Records and was their first outing not to be issued by SST, whose founder Greg Ginn (also Black Flag), as legend has it, signed them on the strength of their first show for their 1995 debut, Stinky Little Gods and its 1997 follow-up, Power of Three. The latter title sums up an essential component of Fatso Jetson‘s strength, as it’s the power of the players involved in the band that’s always made them so head-spinningly good. Others have come and gone over time including family and friends, but the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli (also Yawning Man), bassist Larry Lalli and drummer Tony Tornay (now also of All Souls) has remained at the foundation of Fatso Jetson for the last quarter-century, and they remain an act unto themselves in style and substance alike.

Plenty of bands talk about being open in terms of creativity. Anything goes. Far fewer actually bring that to life in their output, but listening to Fatso Jetson immediately separate wheat from chaff in their listenership as Toasted opener “New Age Android” turns to biting freakout robot sounds on (I think) guitar, or the subsequent swinger “Magma” and the maddening multi-layered solo that would round out if they weren’t actually in control enough to turn back to the chorus at the end, the band make it plain right away that their scope isn’t one to be limited. Not that they’re inconsistent — Toasted, which was produced by the band with Chris Goss of Masters of Reality, flows easily from one song to the next — but that there’s a naturalistic component to what they do and the instrumental chemistry so much on display between the Lalli cousins and Tornay is a key uniting factor in their craft. Through the weighted garage thrust of “I’ve Got the Shame” and into the instrumental “She’s So Borg” that seems to complement “New Age Android” — the lyrics of which could be argued as prescient of the rise of mobile social media culture; self-as-product and all that — Fatso Jetson go where they want to go and have the means to get there, but even the fact that “She’s So Borg” is in conversation with the opener, without actually including words, while hinting toward it in the titles demonstrates just how conscious the band were at the time of what they were doing. Fatso Jetson always had a master plan, it was just on a wavelength all its own.

fatso jetson toastedAt their most frenetic, they are blindingly intense, and even when they lock into a groove as on “Swollen Offering,” they have the ability to utterly blindside their audience with changes. Toasted skronks out with some spoken word in the second half of “Swollen Offering” and pushes into full-on what-the-fuckery before the instrumental “Tutta Dorma” presents a bit of chill, which of course is a setup for “Rail Job” to sprint through its sub-two-minutes with maximum drive, leading to the mid-paced semi-stomp-into-psychedelia of “Procrastination Process” and the return to fits and starts of the instrumental finale “Too Many Skulls.” It’s a side B dense enough to be an entire full-length for most bands, but Fatso Jetson emerge, sweaty perhaps, but otherwise unscathed, and seem to look around after “Too Many Skulls” crashes into its finish and ask, “Okay, so what’ve you got for that?”

That’s pretty much the challenge Fatso Jetson are putting out there, especially in their earlier work — the first three records. Here’s who we are, what’ve you got for it? Though they did plenty of them along the way — including, in this era, with Fu Manchu, The Bloodshot and Fireball Ministry — they do not sound like a band with whom one would want to release a split, because contrary to the narrative of the laid back ideal of desert rock, Fatso Jetson are right in your face, and Toasted has a confrontational aspect to the music that’s unmistakable in its intent. Think of jazz soloists trying to outdo one another, and that might be Fatso Jetson on a bill with whoever. And as amorphous as it is, their style has always been recognizable, and no matter where they’ve taken it, they’ve done so with that core chemistry and no shortage of rough-hewn class that, even in their most willfully abrasive moments, serves as another crucial uniting factor. Plus, man, fuckin’ Tony Tornay on drums? God damn.

After recording Toasted, Fatso Jetson released Flames for All on Man’s Ruin Records in 1999 and Cruel and Delicious on Rekords Rekords (an imprint belonging to Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age) in 2001. They’d put out Live in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here) that they had another studio album, and though splits followed with Yawning ManHerba Mate (review here) and Farflung (review here), and Toasted saw reissue in 2012, their next full-length was 2016’s Idle Hands (review here) on Heavy Psych Sounds. They’ve grown to meld psychedelic impulses and astro-jazz into their whatever-the-hell-they-want-to-do maturity of craft, and the last album found them bringing in Dino von Lalli (son to Mario; also of BigPig) on guitar to round out a four-piece lineup. As Mario Lalli splits time with Yawning Man and Tornay hit the road last year with All SoulsFatso Jetson have been playing here and there but largely quiet since a late-2016 split with del-Toros (discussed here) in terms of studio work. I wouldn’t call them dormant, since they’ve toured regularly, but there’s been little word of new material kicked around and it may be a few years yet before they get another record together. Or it might be next month. 25 years later, who dare to predict Fatso Jetson?

Thanks for reading, and as always, I hope you enjoy.

I have some cool stuff coming up next week — track premieres for Green Lung and Straytones and a video from Doctor Sax — but there’s other stuff I can’t talk about yet too, so you’ll hopefully indulge me if I don’t do proper notes this week. Keeping secrets, I guess. Not that anyone’s waiting with bated breath to know what I’ll be writing about, but please take my word for it when I say it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.

On Monday morning, The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I hightailed it out of New Jersey. There was supposed to be a snowstorm that would’ve maybe kept us there an extra day — I wouldn’t have complained — but it dusted, and then was cold, and that was it. Don’t get me wrong, it was pain-in-the-ass cold, but it’s January and you have to live with that possibility. I loaded the car and off we went early in the morning, The Patient Mrs. doing the first shift of driving so I could finish putting together the news posts for the day, because that’s how I do.

She went back to work this week, did The Patient Mrs., for the start of classes for the Spring semester. She’s got tenure coming through this term, which is just the latest of many examples of her next-level utter goddamn brilliance, but it’s academia, so there are all kinds of hoops she’s had to jump through and it’s like a months-long wait for it to actually happen. These people wear robes and do everything slow as hell. It’s like if Sunn O))) could grant degrees.

The Fightin’ Dronies.

That’s what that university’s team would be called.

Anyway.

So we’re back in Massachusetts. I won’t lie, it was nice to come back and get the last four weeks’ worth of mail, but beyond that I’m hardly stoked at the return to New England. Seeing that Pecan get to know my family more and start to interact more with them and just have more space to run around and climb on stuff — which he does constantly; we have to overturn the chairs in the kitchen or he’ll be up on the table; he’s 15 months old today — was a joy. We’ll be back down there for spring break (woo!) in March and then again for at least most of the summer, but yeah. Kind of isolated up here.

At the same time, while I haven’t been looking forward to The Patient Mrs. going back to work, because, you know, I love her and enjoy spending time with her and all that, I have been excited to have more one-on-one time with the baby. He’s a monumental pain in the ass, like, wow, but fun. We read books together and go places and I get him out of the house and he gets me out of the house and some parts are challenging and some parts are a good time and some parts are boring and some parts are heart-racing — did I mention he’s a climber? — but I can’t ignore the fact of how lucky I am to be able to stay home with him, and I feel very much like what I’m doing now in terms of writing as much as I can and balancing that with daddy-time is the kind of work I was meant to be doing all along. He’s a madman, and there are definitely times where I just need to check out for a coupe minutes and get my head back, but that’s all part of the thing. Plus I get to make jokes — mostly to myself — about “dad rock,” and that’s fun too.

Well, it’s about quarter after five, and I expect he’ll be awake before six, so I’m going to punch out and get the day’s first post live before he’s up. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and thanks again for reading. Really, stay tuned for next week. It’s going to be special.

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John Garcia and the Band of Gold, John Garcia and the Band of Gold: Kentucky and Beyond

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

john garcia and the band of gold self titled

The 2014 self-titled solo debut from John Garcia (review here) was at least 15 years in the making. He followed it in 2017 with the mostly acoustic The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here), and with the self-titled LP from John Garcia and the Band of Gold, he completes a cycle of three records in five years that he has already hinted will mark his last run. That in itself gives the 11-song/40-minute John Garcia and the Band of Gold a different context, but it’s also worth noting that as he’s made his way through these offerings — the latest of which would presumably complete a three-album deal with Napalm Records — he’s also presented a different side of himself each time out. True, the first and third LPs share plenty of aesthetic commonalities, but Garcia stepping into more of a bandleader role with The Band of Gold behind him comprised of guitarist Ehren Groban (War Drum), bassist Mike Pygmie (Mondo GeneratorYou Know Who) and drummer Greg Saenz (The DwarvesYou Know Who) is a distinguishing factor.

Much has been made as well of the involvement of producer Chris Goss, the frontman of Masters of Reality who once upon a time helmed the Kyuss recordings that would help solidify desert rock in the mid-’90s. That’s not a minor consideration, and if there’s an effect of Goss‘ contributions here — which, as I understand it, came after the basic tracks were recorded — perhaps it can be heard in the extra heft of a track like the rushing “Popcorn (Hit Me When You Can)” or the low-end push behind Garcia‘s crooning in the quieter parts of second cut “Jim’s Whiskers” earlier on. That’s speculation, but even the association between the two parties should be a draw for fans, who might also note the similarity in cover art between John Garcia and the Band of Gold and Vista Chino‘s 2013 outing, Peace (review here; discussed here), both done in a graffiti-on-concrete style. If there’s an intended relationship between those two LPs, I don’t know, but in addition to having appeared on The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues as “Give Me 250ml,” “Kentucky II” would seem to be a sequel in title to “Kentucky” from Hermano‘s 2007 full-length, …Into the Exam Room. One way or another, there is plenty throughout John Garcia and the Band of Gold for longtime fans to dig into.

“Kentucky II” is one of three songs shared between the last album and this one, actually, with “Kylie,” on that showing up as the penultimate “Cheyletiella” on this and “The Hollingsworth Session” revamped in fully-plugged fashion as “Don’t Even Think About It.” There’s something to be said for the continuity tying the two releases together, but highlights of John Garcia and the Band of Gold like “My Everything” and “Lillianna” are both new and help comprise the central impression of the tracklist as a whole, which is fresh in performance and cognizant of the desert it’s inhabiting, whether it’s through the introductory spaciousness that rolls out in “Space Vato” before that 2:44 instrumental kicks into higher gear and moves quickly into the bouncing groove of “Jim’s Whiskers,” or “Softer Side,” which finds Garcia singing quietly over a wide landscape of psychedelic guitar somewhat reminiscent of his work alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce in Zun.

john garcia and the band of gold

His voice — naturally a central feature on an album that bears his name — has always been well suited to that ultra-laid back vibe, but neither can one take away from the power in his delivery of “My Everything” or the successful middle ground built up in “Chicken Delight,” a sense of tension coming to a head that the swinging “Kentucky II” pays off in its righteous and familiar shuffle. “Popcorn (Hit Me When You Can)” arguably provides the hardest thrust of John Garcia and the Band of Gold, but “Apache Junction,” which immediately follows, is both the heaviest and the most intriguing as regards arrangement, with guitars echoing out late after slamming out a central riff that’s replete with sonic detailing, bass chugging away beneath effects-laced background vocal layers between lyric lines, and the balance of the mix such that Garcia‘s voice is given an opportunity to cut through the tonal presence surrounding, something that he’s been doing in oft-imitated fashion for over two decades. Unsurprisingly, he nails it.

So will John Garcia and the Band of Gold really be his last record? Yeah, probably not. Even if it’s his last “solo” album for some time, he’s proven restless enough in the past that it’s easy to think maybe he’d work again with Dave Angstrom in Hermano or follow-up on the several reunion gigs Slo Burn did in 2017 with more there. Of the litany of projects he’s been involved in throughout his career, new material would be welcome from just about any of them — which isn’t to mention the perpetually-unfinished business with Unida, a band once stifled by contract woes from releasing what would’ve been their breakthrough album. If John Garcia is going to run out the thread on tour for this release and call it a career, though, what a career to call it. It probably doesn’t help pay the mortgage, but the guy’s legitimately a legend who’s influence has thus far spanned two generations, and John Garcia and the Band of Gold finds him in top form, arguably in better control of his craft than he was when Vista Chino made Peace for the intervening years of writing, touring and singing.

If it’s how he wants to go out, he certainly doesn’t owe anyone anything. But the question, ultimately, is a distraction, and a negative one if it takes anything away from appreciating John Garcia and the Band of Gold on its own level. Among the most crucial statements Garcia makes with the third LP under his name comes from that change in identity. He’s still searching. He’s still trying to find just that right place to inhabit that’s not only his own, but as much about the future as about his storied past. If fronting John Garcia and the Band of Gold is what lets him do that, fine. It worked for his one-time bandmate Brant Bjork for a while when he led Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, also on Napalm Records. And if John Garcia and the Band of Gold does make that happen, it’s even less likely this self-titled will be their last outing. But, just like how at any second his voice might punch the listener upside the head with belted-out desert grit, his future is wholly unpredictable.

John Garcia, “My Everything”

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Yawning Man Announce North American Touring with Mondo Generator & Freedom Hawk

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yawning man

Desert soundtrackers Yawning Man will hit the road right after New Year’s in order, presumably, to bring a bit of warmth to some of the harshest hours 2019 will present. The genre-shaping Californian outfit released The Revolt Against Tired Noises (review here) earlier this year, and it’s a record that has endured even as others have come and gone since, and typical of the band’s work, one expects it will continue to unfold sides of itself over a longer term than a mere matter of months. Recall this is a band who were practically legends before they had an album out. Still, in their 30-plus-year history, they haven’t ever been especially huge on touring, so even as they become a more cohesive studio outfit, they’re complementing that with a live incarnation. They were in Europe this past summer, and have already gotten a first East Coast stint under their collective belt. As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier.

They’ll have Nick Oliveri and his Mondo Generator outfit along for the first stretch of dates, then pick up shortly thereafter with Virginian fuzzers Freedom Hawk, which is badass on multiple levels that you probably already know. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the longest stint Freedom Hawk will have done in the States as well.

Dates follow, as dutifully transcribed from the tour poster by me, for reasons of compulsion:

yawning man tour poster

Yawning Man US / Canada Tour Dates !!

Yawning Man on tour:
01.02 Phoenix AZ Rebel Lounge*
01.03 Albuquerque NM Sister Bar*
01.04 Dallas TX Gas Monkey
01.06 Austin TX Come and Take it Live*
01.07 Lafayette LA Freetown Boom Boom Room*
01.08 New Orleans LA Santos*
01.09 Nashville TN Little Harpeth Brewing*
01.10 Atlanta GA 529
01.12 Asheville NC 27 Club**
01.13 Charlottesville VA The Southern**
01.14 Richmond VA Richmond Music Hall**
01.15 Philadephia PA Kung Fu Necktie**
01.16 Cambridge MA Middle East Upstairs**
01.17 Brooklyn NY Saint Vitus**
01.18 Montreal QC Bar LeRitz**
01.19 Ottawa ON Mavericks**
01.20 Toronto ON Bovine Sex Club**
01.21 Detroit MI The Sanctuary**
01.23 Chicago IL Empty Bottle**
01.24 Kansas City MO Record Bar
01.25 Denver CO Hi Dive
01.26 Salt Lake City UT Loading Dock
01.27 Boise ID The Olympic
01.29 Vancouver BA Astoria
01.30 Seattle WA El Corazon
01.31 Portland OR High Water Mark
* w/ Mondo Generator
** w/ Freedom Hawk

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.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
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Yawning Man, “Ghost Beach”

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John Garcia and the Band of Gold Post “Chicken Delight” Lyric Video; Playing Planet Desert Rock Weekend Nov. 29

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

john garcia and the band of gold

Later this month, John Garcia and the Band of Gold take the stage headlining the first night of the inaugural Planet Desert Rock Weekend. Put together by Vegas Rock Revolution, it’s an impeccably curated evening celebrating what’s a rare onstage US appearance for Garcia, with performances by Nick Oliveri, Luna Sol which features Hermano‘s Dave Angstrom, and Death in Pretty Wrapping, which has Arthur Seay also from Unida (and House of Broken Promises) on guitar. The idea is everyone kind of gets together and rocks out at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel in Vegas, joining Garcia onstage to play tracks from his past outfits and so on.

There’s also a whole weekend of insanity planned (info here), but no question that for US concertgoers, seeing Garcia these days isn’t something that happens all that often. Since Vista Chino went their separate ways, he’s focused heavily on Europe with acoustic tours and festival appearances, and fair enough given that market.

So far as he’s said, this will be his only US show for the upcoming John Garcia and the Band of Gold album.

That album, self-titled, is due out Jan. 4, 2019, via Napalm Records, and they’ve newly unveiled a lyric video — kind of standard procedure at this point — to introduce one of the tracks. Dubbed “Chicken Delight,” the song is not one of the several redux’ed from Garcia‘s last outing, which was 2017’s mostly-unplugged The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here), but instead is all-new and thus far exclusive to this album. Though it’d work acoustic as well. Those curious as to how the reunion might sound between Garcia and producer Chris Goss, who once upon a time produced genre-defining LPs for Garcia‘s band Kyuss, go ahead and take note, because that’s what’s happening here.

A month-long stretch of European tour dates has been announced to follow shortly after the album’s release. You might recall that tour was initially supposed to happen this Fall but was rescheduled to allow for the recording to be done, because, well, let’s face it. If you’re going on tour for a month and you’re about to finish a new record, you probably want to be able to take it along with you. The Jan.-Feb. stint will allow for that.

Those dates as well as more info follow the clip here, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

John Garcia and the Band of Gold, “Chicken Delight” official lyric video

Desert Rock frontman extraordinaire, JOHN GARCIA, has just released”Chicken Delight”, the first single of the new album John Garcia And The Band Of Gold. Today the Kyuss legend unveils the official lyric video for the relaxed groover straight out of the desert!

“Chicken Delight”is the perfect beginning of your California desert trip that opens out to a new album that melts down the whole subgenre to the core! It’s the perfect mix of his trademarked voice and the groovy, laid back and dusty sound that lies within every chord that makes your mind fly away. Over the last almost three decades, JOHN GARCIA’s voice has set the standard for the sound of the California desert and “Chicken Delight” takes it one step further.

Pre-order “John Garcia And The Band Of Gold” here: http://smarturl.it/JGATBOG

Out January 4th

John Garcia And The Band Of Gold Live:
After having a meeting between his musical past and present, by playing on one stage with Nick Oliveri (ex-Kyuss), Dave Angstrom (ex-Hermano) and Arthur Seay (ex-Unida) on November 29 in Las Vegas, JOHN GARCIA will return to an extensive tour through Europe with his Band Of Gold:

Special Show w/ Nick Oliveri, Luna Sol, Death in Pretty Wrapping
29.11.18 US – Las Vegas / Vinyl

European Tour 2019
w/ Dead Quiet
23.01.19 FR – Paris / Le Trabendo
24.01.19 FR – Bordeaux / Le Krakatoa
25.01.19 ES – Madrid / Caracol
26.01.19 ES – Barcelona / Razzamatazz 2
28.01.19 FR – Lyon / Le Kao
29.01.19 CH – Zurich / Bogen F.
30.01.19 IT – Milan / Santeria Club
31.01.19 DE – Munich / Backstage Halle
02.02.19 AT – Graz / Explosiv
03.02.19 HU – Budapest / A38
04.02.19 CZ – Prague / Rock Café
05.02.19 DE – Nuremberg / Hirsch
07.02.19 DE – Jena / F-Haus
08.02.19 DE – Berlin / SO36
09.02.19 DK – Copenhagen / Loppen
10.02.19 NO – Oslo / John Dee
12.02.19 FI – Helsinki / Tavastia
14.02.19 SE – Stockholm / Debaser Strand
15.02.19 SE – Gothenburg / Sticky Fingers
16.02.19 DE – Hamburg / Gruenspan
17.02.19 DE – Cologne / Helios 37
19.02.19 BE – Leuven / Het Depot
20.02.19 DE – Aschaffenburg / Colos-Sal
21.02.19 DE – Essen / Turock
22.02.19 NL – Tilburg / 013
23.02.19 UK – London / O2 Academy Islington

John Garcia And The Band Of Gold are:
John Garcia – vocals
Ehren Groban – guitar
Mike Pygmie – bass
Greg Saenz – drums

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