Brant Bjork Announces Europe ’16 Live Album & European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

A Brant Bjork live record feels like a fairly obvious no-brainer. Am I wrong? Dude has been killing it the last few years (or decades, if you really want to put it in context) since putting together the Low Desert Punk Band and offering up the Black Power Flower (review here) and Tao of the Devil (review here) in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and anyone who’s seen him can tell you he absolutely owns every stage he steps on, so yeah, there’s just about no way a live album isn’t gonna work in this instance. It’s called Europe ’16, captures a set from Berlin, Germany, last year, and is out Sept. 22 via Napalm Records. Fair enough. Sold. Easy peasy.

To mark its arrival, Bjork and company — including steady guest vocalist Sean Wheeler — will head out on another European run this Fall. We kind of knew this was coming after he’d been confirmed for fests like Lake on Fire 2017 — which he’ll play next month as part of a shorter run of mostly-festival dates — Up in Smoke 2017 and Keep it Low 2017, but as always, confirmation is welcome, particularly alongside the news of the live release. He couldn’t stop piling up “fucking a” fodder if he tried.

From the social medias and the PR wire:

Brant Bjork – Europe ’16 & The Gree Heen Fall Tour

Welcome back the sweet scent of freedom. Breath in the greeheen! BRANT BJORK has come to revive your spirit: The Kyuss- and Fu Manchu legend has just announced his first live record ever!

From the opening guitar riff of “Europe ’16”, recorded in Berlin, one can sense the buzz of classic rock electricity that transcends into new spheres. This is controlled madness between trippy and doomy, groovy and sludgy!

Set for release September 22nd on Napalm Records, BRANT BJORK has now revealed the cover artwork and track list of his first and highly anticipated live record.

The track list reads as follows and will surely make every low desert punk heart beat faster:

1. Buddha Time
2. Controllers Destroyed
3. Humble Pie
4. Stakt
5. The Gree Heen
6. Lazy Bones-Automatic Fantastic
7. Stokely Up Now
8. Dave’s War-Dave’s Peace
9. Biker No. 2
10. Freaks Of Nature
11. Low Desert Punk
12. Let The Truth Be Known-Jumpin’ Jack Flash

“This record is live. Live records are ugly and they should be. When a band plays live, they let their hair down. Live is all that really matters. There are those moments in life when everything is ok and these are the moments when you are doing exactly what your here on the planet to do. You’re right where you are supposed to be with no shame, no fear, no regret, no envy, no hatred and no apology. I always say this band brings a feeling. The feeling is always primary and the sound, secondary. At least to me. In the book of Tao, there is a passage…”naming is the origin of all particular things”. I use here the term ugly to refer to my naming of my particular relationship with my soundscape. my my my. Why the term ugly? Because its the opposite of pretty. As the popular saying goes, “It is what it is”. As for my music, my band and this live record, I prefer to say, “it is what it isn’t”.” – Brant Bjork on Europe ’16.

Brant Bjork Aug. tour:
Aug 04 Los Almiros Festival, Almyros, Greece
Aug 05 Lake on Fire Waldhausen, Austria
Aug 06 A38 Budapest, Hungary
Aug 08 Sommer in Altona Hamburg, Germany
Aug 09 Universum Stuttgart, Germany
Aug 10 Bad Bonn Düdingen, Switzerland
Aug 12 FESTIVAL AREA DE LANGE MUNTE Kortrijk, Belgium
Aug 14 Palp Festival Rocklette Martigny, Switzerland

Brant Bjork, The Gree Heen Fall 2017 tour:
26.09.17 Stockholm | Debaser Strand
27.09.17 Stavanger | Folken
28.09.17 Oslo | John Dee
29.09.17 Gothenbourg | Sticky Fingers
30.09.17 Copenhagen | KB 18
01.10.17 Hamburg | Logo
02.10.17 Leipzig | UT Connewitz
03.10.17 Bielefeld | Forum
04.10.17 Amsterdam | Melkweg
05.10.17 Eindhoven | Effenaar
06.10.17 Pratteln | Up In Smoke
07.10.17 Aschaffenburg | Colossal
08.10.17 Brussels | Botanique
09.10.17 Rennes | Ubu
11.10.17 Bilbao | Kafe Antzokia
12.10.17 Porto | Cave 45
13.10.17 Lisbon | RCA Club
14.10.17 Madrid | Caracol
15.10.17 Barcelona | Bikini
16.10.17 Marseille | Jas Rod
17.10.17 Torino | Blah Blah
18.10.17 Ravenna | Bronson
19.10.17 Zagreb | Vintage Industrial Bar
20.10.17 Wien | Arena ( with Stoned Jesus + Beastmaker )
21.10.17 Munich | Keep It Low

Poster by: Pol Abran

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial/
www.brantbjork.com
http://label.napalmrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Sound-of-Liberation-UG-183095098426785/

Brant Bjork, “The Gree Heen” official lyric video

Tags: , , , , ,

Queens of the Stone Age Announce New Album Villains

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

queens of the stone age

Yesterday, Queens of the Stone Age started the process of teasing the release of their next album by putting up a minute-long YouTube clip in which a manipulated version of frontman Josh Homme‘s voice said the word ‘gold’ over and over again. Today, they follow by announcing the title of their seventh full-length will be Villains and that to record it, the five-piece has teamed with producer Mark Ronson, whose credits include the pop-superstar likes of Paul McCartneyAmy Winehouse Adele, and many, many others who sell a lot, a lot, a lot of records to a lot, a lot, a lot of people. In the video below, among the other names, one will find Duran Duran. So there’s that.

Playing to mass-market pop is nothing new for Queens of the Stone Age, of course. 11 years after breaking through to mainstream consciousness with what’s now a heavy rock landmark in 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, the band issued their most recent outing, 2013’s …Like Clockwork (review here) — they also had two records in between in 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze and 2007’s Era Vulgaris — and songs like “If I Had a Tail” and “Smooth Sailing” still don’t need much more than the recitation of the title to get stuck in the head of anyone who heard them. In announcing Villains in the skit below directed by Liam Lynch (Tenacious D) they give a snippet preview of a track called “Feet Don’t Fail Me” that would seem to work toward a similar danceability as the latter. Again, fair territory for them at this point.

More as I hear/see it. For now, here’s the clip and the band’s upcoming tour dates:

Queens of the Stone Age, Villains announcement

Directed by: Liam Lynch

Queens of the Stone Age on tour:
06/22-25 – Montebello, QC Amnesia Rockfest
07/13 – Auckland, NZ Logan Campbell
07/16 – Darwin, AU Convention Center
07/19 – Sydney, AU Horden Pavilion
07/20 – Melbourne, AU Festival Hall
07/22 – Byron Bay, AU Splendour in the Grass
07/28-30 – Naeba, JP Fuji Rock Festival
08/11-13 – San Francisco, CA Outside Lands Festival
09/15-17 – Chicago, IL Riot Fest

Queens of the Stone Age on Thee Facebooks

Queens of the Stone Age on Twitter

Queens of the Stone Age on Instagram

Queens of the Stone Age website

Tags: , , , , ,

Yawning Man North American & European Touring Kicks off this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

yawning-man-Photo-by-River-Arce

Busy few months coming up for desert instrumentalists Yawning Man. On March 15, they begin a round of North American dates supporting Sweden’s Truckfighters in the role that Greenleaf had to pull out of last month. That’ll take them through the rest of March. In April, they feature at the Stoned and Dusted pre-show for Brant Bjork‘s second Desert Generator fest. Then in May, it’s off to Europe to appear at Heavy Psych SoundsSonic Ritual fest for two nights in a row as part of a tour presented by the Italian label in conjunction with Sound of Liberation.

That runs through the better part of June, and then, after heading back to the West Coast, they play the pool party pre-show in August at Psycho Las Vegas alongside Conan, Pentagram, Sasquatch and an impressive slew of others. I’m kind of exhausted just looking at the schedule, to be honest with you. Hope they have some way of getting laundry done on the road.

They head out supporting last year’s Historical Graffiti (review here) on Lay Bare Recordings, which captured a short-lived lineup of the band live one night in Buenos Aires and can be heard in full at the bottom of the post. It’s a cause well worth getting out for, but as someone in a geographic region where they’re not hitting this time around, my only hope is they put some of their new t-shirts for sale somewhere online. Fingers crossed.

Here are the dates:

Yawning Man – Tour Dates

Yawning Man is beyond excited to be touring the United States and Canada, for the very first time! If you don’t already live on the West Coast or up North/Canada, then this will be a ‘destination’ tour for you all, our friends. So you’ll want to get some of your buddies together, pack yourselves in a van (or whatever roadworthy ride you have) and make a road trip for these shows. We will be touring with Truckfighters. We can’t wait to see you!!!
We love you all.

SOL & HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS are proud to announce the first bunch of European tourdates in 2017 for the legendary Yawning Man (Official)! Get your tickets early & enjoy the imaginary trip to the boundless vastness of the Californian desert!

DATES:

MARCH (w/ Truckfighters)
15 San Diego CA Brick by Brick
16 Los Angeles CA Complex
17 San Francisco CA Bottom of the Hill
18 Sacramento CA Starlight Lounge
19 Portland OR Ash St. Saloon
20 Seattle WA El Corazon
21 Vancouver BC Rickshaw Theatre
23 Calgary AB Distortion
24 Edmonton AB Starlite Room
25 Saskatoon SK Amigos
28 Denver CO Moon Room
29 Albuquerque NM Low Spirits
30 Tucson AZ The Flycatcher
31 Mesa AZ Club Red

APRIL
7 Pioneertown CA Stoned & Dusted at Desert Generator

MAY
17 Torino | Blah Blah
19 Athens | An Club “Sonic Ritual Fest”
20 Mezzago | Bloom “Sonic Ritual Fest”
21 Viareggio | Gob
22 Zerobranco | Altroquando
23 Bologna | Freak Out
24 Pescara | Scumm
25 Roma | Whishlist
26 Savignano | Sidro
27 Cagliari | La Cueva Rock
30 Paris | Gibus Live
31 Brussels | Magasin 4

JUNE
01 London | Black Heart
03 Deventer | Burger Weeshuis
04 Amsterdam | Winston Kingdom
06 Nantes | Le Ferrailleur
07 Bordeaux | Void
10 Olten | Coq D’or
11 Wuerzburg | Immerhin
12 Prag | Klub Famu
13 Budapest | Aurora
14 Zagreb | Vintage Industrial Bar
15 Ljubljana | Klub Gromka
16 Wien | Das Bach
17 Cottbus | Zum faulen August
18 Berlin | Badehaus (with Mothership)
19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (with Mothership)
20 Malmö | Plan B
22 Kopenhagen | KB18

AUGUST
17 Las Vegas NV Psycho Las Vegas

Yawning Man photo by River Arce.

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

Yawning Man, Historical Graffiti (2016)

Tags: , , , ,

Here’s a Bio I Wrote for Brant Bjork

Posted in Features on March 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

At this point in what might be generously called my ‘career,’ I’ve written biographies for the likes of Neurosis, Electric Citizen, Kings Destroy, Gary Arce of Yawning Man, Alunah, Mondo Drag, Conan, Egypt, Lo-Pan, Wo Fat, Alexander von Wieding, and countless others when one considers things like festival announcements and press releases and other such and sundries I’ve put together. It’s extra work, but I enjoy it. For one thing, it’s nice to be thought of and asked. For another, it’s a chance to cross an editorial boundary and directly help an artist tell their own story, as opposed to trying to stand back and analyze it from as much distance as possible, as one might with a standard review. What does this person want to say about who and where they are creatively, and how can I bring that out in words?

I’ve posted numerous bios I’ve written here before, but it was a singular honor to be asked to compose a biography for Brant Bjork ahead of what looks to be a busy 2017 for him, between his Desert Generator fest (info here), recently-announced US tour (dates here), and the inevitable further activity that will surface as he continues to support last year’s excellent Tao of the Devil (review here) on Napalm Records. The chance to explore what might be desert rock’s most pivotal singular legacy — really, when you look at his raw discography, it’s staggering — was an opportunity to be relished, and having turned it over and gotten approval for a finished draft, I thought I’d share it with you.

A moment of self-indulgence on my part, probably, but I thank you as always for the allowance and for reading. If you have any thoughts on it, any and all comments are welcome.

It starts after the picture:

brant bjork

Brant Bjork Bio 2017

With Tao of the Devil, Brant Bjork reconfirms his position as the Godfather of Desert Groove. Across sprawling jams and classic rockers, the multi-instrumentalist frontman celebrates the other, the self and the Californian landscape he calls home, following 2014’s Black Power Flower – his first album for Napalm Records – with an even more resounding execution of memorable songcraft and inimitable, heavy vibe. In the company of The Low Desert Punk Band, he brings to bear the fruits of one of rock and roll’s most storied careers and, as he always does, pushes forward in ongoing, seemingly unstoppable growth.

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 Bjork has shown different sides of himself on albums like his funk-laden 1999 solo debut, Jalamanta, the mellow Local Angel (2004), 2007’s mostly-acoustic Tres Dias, and heavier rockers Somera Sól (2007), Gods & Goddesses (2010) and the two most recent outings with The Low Desert Punk Band, he’s maintained a natural representation of himself in his material, whether that’s coming across in the Thin Lizzy-isms of the faux-full-band 2002 release Brant Bjork and the Operators (actually just Bjork playing mostly by himself) or the weedy, in-the-jam-room spirit of “Dave’s War” from Tao of the Devil. When you’re listening to Brant Bjork, you know it, because there’s no one else who sounds quite like him.

That fact and years of hard touring have positioned Brant Bjork as an ambassador for the Southern California desert and the musical movement birthed there in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. As underground interest has surged in recent years, Bjork has been a pivotal figurehead, realigning with his former Kyuss bandmate John Garcia to drum and write in Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino, celebrating and building on that legacy while giving a new generation of fans the chance to see it happen in real-time.

Having told his story in films like Kate McCabe’s Sabbia (2006) and the documentaries Such Hawks Such Hounds (2008) and Lo Sound Desert (2015), he’s represented desert rock at home and abroad with no less honesty than that which he poured into the music helping to create it. The same impulse led to the founding of his Desert Generator in 2016, an annual festival held in Pioneertown, CA, with an international reach capturing the intimacy and timeless aura of the desert culture, including music, a van show in conjunction with Rolling Heavy magazine, the Stoned & Dusted pre-show in the wilderness, and an evolution that looks to continue into the foreseeable future.

Bjork’s work, with any project, has always had a rebellious sensibility. He’s always walked his own path. But more, his career through Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Ché, Vista Chino, and his crucial solo work has been about freedom through rock and roll, attained by the truest representation of the person and the place as art. This, along with a whole lot of groove, is what has helped Brant Bjork define desert rock as a worldwide phenomenon, and whatever comes next, it is what will continue to make him its most indispensable practitioner.

Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks

Brant Bjork website

Desert Generator fest website

Napalm Records website

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Brant Bjork Announces Full US Tour with Royal Thunder and Black Wizard

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

If you thought the recently-announced Desert Generator fest already looked like an unreasonably good time, sit tight. As it happens, Brant Bjork‘s appearance at the second installment of the festival he’s curating — as well as the pre-party out in the desert the night before, for which Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli is reportedly bringing the generator to provide power — will serve as the launch point for a coast-to-coast US tour alongside Royal Thunder and Black Wizard.

Bjork, in the company of The Low Desert Punk Band, was in Europe this past Fall, and he heads out in the US supporting 2016’s most-righteous Tao of the Devil (review here), on Napalm Records. If you’re reading this post and haven’t heard that album yet, sorry, but you’re fresh out of excuses. Get on that shit.

Dates follow here as well as the poster by Branca Studio, courtesy of the PR wire:

brant-bjork-us-tour-poster

BRANT BJORK to Launch US Tour at Desert Generator Fest

Support from Royal Thunder & Black Wizard; East Coast dates with Pentagram

Look what the cat dragged in: Low Desert Punk Brant Bjork, king of the sweetest flow and forever kissed by the burning sun of Southern Cali! As the founder of Kyuss, the singer / guitarist / drummer might be the ultimate icon the Desert Rock scene has to offer – but despite all this praise and worship, Brant’s only concern rests in supplying the planet with unpretentious laid-back rock, adorned with hefty jam-outs! Tao Of The Devil is more focused than its predecessor Black Power Flower and boasts a more song-oriented and groovy stoner sound, with a healthy dose of 70s style greatness.

BRANT BJORK: TAO OF THE DEVIL TOUR
with Royal Thunder & Black Wizard

04/07 Mojave Desert CA Stoned & Dusted
04/08 Pioneertown CA Pappy & Harriet’s Desert Generator
04/09 Sacramento CA Blue Lamp
04/10 San Francisco CA Slim’s
04/11 Portland OR Hawthorne Theatre
04/12 Vancouver BC SBC
04/13 Seattle WA El Corazon
04/14 Boise ID The Shredder
04/15 Salt Lake City UT In the Venue
04/16 Denver CO Marquis Theater
04/17 Kansas City MO Riot Room
04/18 Chicago IL Beat Kitchen
04/19 Cleveland OH Agora Ballroom
04/20 Baltimore MD Soundstage*
04/22 New York NY Le Poisson Rouge*
04/23 Boston MA Middle East*
04/25 Atlanta GA Masquerade
04/26 New Orleans LA Siberia
04/27 Austin TX Barracuda
04/28 Dallas TX Gas Monkey
04/29 Albuquerque NM Launchpad
04/30 Mesa AZ Club Red
05/01 Los Angeles CA Echoplex
* with Pentagram

Poster by Branca Studio.

www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial
www.brantbjork.com
http://www.desertgenerator.com/
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Brant Bjork, “Luvin'” official video

Tags: , , ,

John Garcia Announces European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Prior to hitting stages at Freak Valley 2017, Desertfest London and Berlin, and Psycho Las Vegas this Spring/Summer with the reunited Slo Burn, desert rock’s iconic frontman John Garcia will embark on a European tour next month supporting his first-ever acoustic solo album. Released last month on Napalm Records, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) blends new original material with fresh arrangements of classic Kyuss tracks like “Gardenia,” “Space Cadet” and “Green Machine” — staples of Garcia‘s nigh-unmatchable body of work. Since the record was born out of European “evening with”-style tour, it seems only fair he’d return abroad to support it, even as one of multiple international trips being made this year.

The run has been dubbed, fittingly enough, “Coyote Unplugged.” Dates and more info follow:

john garcia

JOHN GARCIA: Coyote Unplugged Tour 2017!

Kyuss, Slo-Burn, Unida, Hermano, Vista Chino – yes, desert crooner John Garcia may rightfully be considered the ultimate incarnation of stoner rock. His first solo album and opus eponymous from 2014 is followed roughly three years later by The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues, a comparatively relaxed and purely acoustic affair! “Better late than never”, Mister Garcia himself comments on the rather lengthy period of time he invested in his new baby. Offering chilled out renditions of some well-known classics as well as John Garcia’s solo work, The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues seamlessly merges past gems with future, howling hits like ‘The Hollingsworth Session‘ – all you need now is a crackling fire!

John Garcia comments satisfied: “This record is one of the most important of my career, difficult and challenging to do, but worth every minute of sweat!”

Recorded and mixed by Steve Feldman and Robbie Waldman, mastered by Gene “The Machine” Grimaldi at Oasis Mastering in California, ‘The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues’ offers an emotional acoustic ride through John Garcia’s solo work as well as songs by Kyuss in new arrangements like you have never heard before.

Acoustic guitar: Ehren Groban
Percussions: Greg Saenz
Bass: Mike Pygmie

JOHN GARCIA – Coyote Unplugged Tour 2017
14.03. CH – Bern, ISC Club
15.03. GER – Munich, Backstage
16.03. CRO – Zagreb, Vintage Industrial Bar
17.03. SLO – Nova Gorica, Mostovna
18.03. GR – Athen, AN Club
20.03. PL – Wroclaw, Carpe Diem
21.03. PL – Warsaw, Beerokracja
22.03. DK – Kopenhagen, Loppen
24.03. NL – Hilversum, De Vorstin
25.03. GER – Bielefeld, Heimat + Hafen
26.03. NL – Breda, Mezz
27.03. B – Arlon, L’Entrepôt

www.facebook.com/JohnGarciaOfficial
https://twitter.com/johngarciasolo
www.napalmrecords.com

John Garcia, “Kylie” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues: Finding the Dose (Plus Lyric Video Premiere)

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on January 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

john garcia the coyote who spoke in tongues

[John Garcia releases The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues via Napalm Records on Jan. 27. Please enjoy a lyric video premiere for ‘Give Me 250ml’ by clicking play above.]

It’s hard to say exactly how long John Garcia‘s acoustic album has been in the works. Granted, if we’re talking about this release, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, which teams the singer whose voice inarguably most typifies California’s desert rock movement with guitarist Ehren Groban (War Drum), bassist Mike Pygmie (Mondo Generator, You Know Who) and percussionist Greg Saenz (The Dwarves, You Know Who), it’s a more recent affair, following up on Garcia‘s fully-plugged 2014 self-titled solo debut (review here). But the notion of a Garcia acoustic record goes much further back.

In 1998, after the demise of his former band Kyuss and as the late ’90s stoner rock movement he helped inspire was taking shape — which Garcia would further solidify on the West Coast in Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano and by contributing to other groups and projects in the early ’00s — he provided the closing track on MeteorCity‘s first release, the Welcome to MeteorCity compilation (discussed here) under the guise of J.M.J., with the song “To Believe.” Just to do some quick math for emphasis, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues arrives 19 years later and finds Garcia an entirely different presence, having long since cemented his legacy in the aforementioned acts and pushed ahead through further work with Hermano, the Garcia Plays Kyuss/Vista Chino semi-reunion of Kyuss, who released their lone album to-date, Peace (review here), in 2013, and his ensuing solo outfit. His vocal approach, guttural at times in the true sense of coming from the gut, but able to be sweetly melodic in its croon, has influenced a generation of heavy rock singers while remaining inimitable.

This nine-track/39-minute offering finds him at the top of his game and seemingly delivering as much for his fans as for himself. It brings together the new material in opener “Kylie,” “Give Me 250ml,” “The Hollingsworth Session,” “Argleben II” — an apparent sequel to “Argleben” from Garcia‘s self-titled — and instrumental closer “Court Order” with Kyuss classics “Green Machine,” “Space Cadet,” “Gardenia” and “El Rodeo,” which of course are reworked to suit the acoustic context. Garcia is right to keep the scale weighted on the side of newer songs, and not that they needed to, but the Kyuss cuts earn their place as well owing to the fact that Garcia played them on his acoustic European tour. In any case, one doubts he’ll get many complaints. On The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, they appear in the order in which I just listed them, with “Green Machine” following “Kylie” at the start of the record and introducing the listener to the notion that, while familiar at their root, the arrangements are fair game when it comes to the older stuff; the signature riff of “Green Machine” becomes a sentimental intertwining of string plucks and Garcia‘s verse vocals — practically shouts on the original — are a subdued croon that well earn the late flourish of keyboard after the last chorus.

The pair “Give Me 250ml” and “The Hollingsworth Session” follow, with the former providing a considerable groove for Garcia to ride as he will — a forceful strum and some backing vocals layered in that make it easy to imagine a full-on heavy version. It’s the shortest track here at 2:58, but leaves an upbeat impression that carries into “The Hollingsworth Session,” which stands as the most complex of the pieces making their first appearance here in its back and forth trades of “loud” and “quiet” — all things relative, right? — and proffers a hook that stands up to the triple-shot block of Kyuss songs that immediately follow. Its layered chorus, prominent bass and energetic start-stop groove lead to a winding guitar solo finale that fits well as a lead-in for the album’s well-deserved centerpiece, “Space Cadet.”

Of all the Kyuss one might include on an acoustic outing, “Space Cadet” probably makes the most sense, since the quiet track from 1994’s mega-crucial Welcome to Sky Valley (and yes, before you get all internet-clever, I know it’s officially a self-titled) was practically unplugged to start with, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It just needs less rearranging as compared to the more driving “Green Machine,” or “Gardenia,” which follows. What seems to be a far-back inclusion of organ or keyboard adds to the forward guitar strum, but it’s Garcia himself carrying “Space Cadet,” which is as it should be, and he makes it a highlight. But for the lyrics, “Gardenia” is hardly recognizable for the hypnotic picking of strings, punctuating percussion and quiet, meditative spirit it’s given. “Hear a purring motor and she’s a-burnin’ fuel/Push it over baby/Makin’ love to you” never sounded more romantic.

Just before two and a half minutes in, the vibe picks up a bit with some slide guitar added to the song’s more bouncing end progression, but like “Green Machine” before it, “Gardenia” gets a considerable reworking for The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, while “El Rodeo,” which begins with a foreboding moment of piano before its guitar introduction, seems to allow itself to be a little more fun. Strings or key-strings back the verse, which Garcia doles out in full-force despite the lack of distortion behind him, letting loose in a cadence that brings together the layered lines of the original in an effective, stage-style presentation. Percussion from Saenz backs the section of instrumental pauses in the second half, and the repetitions of the title bring “El Rodeo” to a vibrant finish, leading to the more atmospheric “Argleben II,” which brings piano to the fore alongside the guitar and seems to pull together and swell with each run through its chorus, making for a quick five-minute stretch. It ends on a fade, leading to the closing meditation of “Court Order,” which may or may not actually be included as a result of one.

Somewhat surprising for Garcia — who’s known entirely for his vocals — to cap his first acoustic solo LP with a quick three-minute instrumental, but it may well be that desert rock’s greatest frontman is sending a message of branching out and letting his audience know they should do likewise in terms of what they might expect from him. Given that, as noted, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues has been nearly two decades in the making in one form or another, one hesitates to think of what a follow-up might bring, but one thing to note is that with a catalog as vast as his has been, if he’s looking to blend new material and old on records like this, there is a wealth of songs ripe for reinterpretation. Thinking of tracks like Slo Burn‘s “Muezli,” “Hermano‘s “Brother Bjork” or Unida‘s “Slaylina,” or even Vista Chino‘s “Adara,” there would seem to be little reason a conversation between Garcia and his fans in this manner couldn’t be ongoing. There are numerous contingencies to consider there, including the Slo Burn reunion happening this year — will that result in a studio album? — and persistent rumors of a new Hermano record, which would be their first in a decade, so one can’t necessarily guess where Garcia might be headed following this release. But that’s part of what makes it enjoyable as a moment finally captured, and the realization of The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues should be considered a landmark in one of heavy rock’s most pivotal careers.

John Garcia on Thee Facebooks

John Garcia on Twitter

Napalm Records

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Ten East, Skyline Pressure: Benefits of Happenstance

Posted in Reviews on November 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ten-east-skyline-pressure

It happened one day in the Netherlands. Actually it was a night. And Yawning Man were getting ready to play the 2014 edition of Mañana Mañana Fest, but guitarist Gary Arce and drummer Bill Stinson found themselves in need of a bassist. Well, it just so happened that Erik Harbers, one of the festival’s organizers, plays bass in Automatic Sam, so he and co-organizer/guitarist Pieter Holkenborg stepped in to fill the spot. They’d never played together, let alone on stage in front of a fest crowd. But it worked, and one can rightly think of Ten East‘s Skyline Pressure as an outgrowth of that experience.

Bringing the same four parties back — Arce, Stinson, Harbers and Holkenborg — to record in a studio setting with Harper Hug at Thunder Underground, the attempt is capture the same kind of spontaneous chemistry that they wound up showing that night two years ago. The result? Eight tracks and a sprawling 58 minutes marked out by two particularly extended pieces in opener “Daisy Cutter” (13:03) and the later “Sonars and Myths” (14:33) that very much have their root in what Yawning Man do in their desert-defining instrumental soundscaping atmospherics, but arrive somewhat beefed up thanks to the second guitar and a fervent rhythmic push from Stinson and Harbers in the rhythm section.

It’s worth noting that in addition to having taken part in the recently-issued Fatso Jetson collaboration with France’s Hifiklub (review here), this is the third full-length, in three separate outfits, Arce has appeared this year, between Zun‘s Burial Sunrise (on Small Stone; review here) and Yawning Man‘s Historical Graffiti (on Lay Bare; review here), marking the continuation of what might just be his most productive year ever in terms of output.

Not bad for someone who’s been helping shape the scope of desert rock for the better part of the last 30 years. Of those other offerings, Skyline Pressure is probably best compared to the Fatso Jetson/Hifiklub release, since Hifiklub guitarist Nico Morcillo sits in here for side A’s “Planet Blues,” the penultimate serenity of “Stalactite Dip” and closer “Tangled Forest.” But just about anything Arce does is going to be measured in terms of Yawning Man, and that seems all the more fair since Skyline Pressure shares Historical Graffiti‘s title-track, thereby providing a direct line from one offering to the other.

Moreover, it gives a genuine opportunity to examine some of the differences. Ten East, for whom this is their third full-length and first since 2008’s The Robot’s Guide to Freedom, on which Arce and Stinson were joined by Scott ReederGreg GinnMario Lalli, etc., is a different project than Yawning Man. That is quickly established on Skyline Pressure and reinforced throughout.

ten-east-1

Even as songs like “Eye Soar” or the title-track or the highlight dream-jazz of “Sonars and Myths” veer into otherworldly ambience led my Arce‘s inimitable tone, Ten East remain prone to a more weighted thrust and a heavier undercurrent. Part of that is Harbers‘ personality as a bassist, and part of it is Holkenborg on second guitar — not to mention Morcillo on third — but these factors come together to make it clearer why Skyline Pressure would end up a Ten East record and not a Yawning Man record. However recognizable their origins, quite simply, they’re a different band. It’s true from “Daisy Cutter” — which also has its origins in Yawning Man — onward.

Actually, the initial thrust of “Daisy Cutter” goes a long way in defining Skyline Pressure as a whole, and though the album seems to open to broader terrain especially as it shifts into the back half of the tracklist, with the title-cut, “Sonars and Myths,” and “Stalactite Dip” setting up a bookend return to push in “Tangled Forest,” the places Ten East go are measured in part by from where they came.

“Daisy Cutter” has a wash as those familiar with Arce‘s work might expect, but remains forceful for the bulk of its 13 minutes and finishes noisy, and though the subsequent “Eye Soar” is more soothing, the effect of the opener resonates through it and through “Historical Graffiti”‘s shifts in volume and ending build. I’d say the same applies to “Sonars and Myths,” though the later extended track emphasizes the other side of what Skyline Pressure accomplishes in its fluidity and patience, also grown out of Yawning Man‘s core approach but keyed into a particular joy for experimentation that distinguishes it outright. Both are worth bringing forward at one point or another, and ultimately, both play into Skyline Pressure‘s success in following up what proved so special about that Yawning Man set in the Netherlands.

Whether or not Ten East will continue this collaboration in this form, I don’t know. One still waits for a second Yawning Sons album, and Ten East‘s lineup has always been fluid at least in terms of who sits in with Arce and Stinson for a session. It seems to be a if-it-happens-it-happens kind of scenario. But even for that, it’s fortunate that this incarnation of Ten East were able to come together for Skyline Pressure and capture as much material as they did — it’s not a short journey by any means, either in bringing Harbers and Holkenborg to California to record or in a listener making their way through the nearly-hour-long album — since it’s so rare that moments which seem like they’ll never come again manage to do just that.

Ten East, Skyline Pressure (2016)

Ten East on Thee Facebooks

Ten East on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,