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The end of any year always brings a barrage of best-ofs. Lists, radio shows, award ceremonies, and even podcasts. What no one tells you about any of them is there’s no fucking way they can ever be comprehensive. My Top 20 list? It was damn good and I worked really hard putting it together, but was I toiling under the delusion that it was going to be an accurate and complete representation of everything 2013 had on offer? Hell no. That’s why we have the Readers Poll, the Albums Unheard list (still to come) and all the rest of the wrap-up stuff.
So as you check out this happens-to-be-the-last-of-2013 podcast, please keep in mind that though it does feature a sampling of some of 2013′s most killer songs from some of its most killer albums, it’s not at all intended to be a total roundup of this year. It’s a part of it, and I’m cool with that if you are.
It’s Xmas Eve as I put this together, and it’s looking like this’ll be my only post for today, so I’ll take another opportunity to wish you a happy holiday if you’re celebrating. Please be safe and enjoy time with family, gift-giving, and of course, good music. I don’t know if grandma would really get down to some Phantom Glue, but seems like it’s worth a shot.
Clutch, “D.C. Sound Attack” from Earth Rocker (2013)
Monster Magnet, “Last Patrol,” from Last Patrol (2013)
Church of Misery, “Cranley Gardens (Dennis Andrew Nilsen)” from Thy Kingdom Scum (2013)
Phantom Glue, “Bow in the Dust” from A War of Light Cones (2013)
Pelican, “The Tundra” from Forever Becoming (2013)
Young Hunter, “Trail of Tears” from Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain (2013)
All Them Witches, “The Death of Coyote Woman” from Lightning at Your Door (2013)
Black Thai, “Doors to Nowhere” from Season of Might (2013)
Gozu, “Charles Bronson Pinchot” from The Fury of a Patient Man (2013)
Geezer, “Ancient Song” from Gage EP (2013)
T.G. Olson, “Unsung Everyone” from Hell’s Half Acre (2013)
Fuzz, “One” from Fuzz (2013)
Wooden Shjips, “Servants” from Back to Land (2013)
Fever Dog, “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” from Lady Snowblood (2013)
Samsara Blues Experiment, “Brahmin’s Lament” from Waiting for the Flood (2013)
Vista Chino, “Planets 1 & 2” from Peace (2013)
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Valley of the Dolls” from Mind Control (2013)
The Golden Grass, “One More Time” from One More Time b/w Tornado (2013)
Beelzefuzz, “Lonely Creatures” from Beelzefuzz (2013)
Posted in Reviews on October 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
On the televisions in the back of the Great Scott, the Boston Red Sox were working their way into the World Series, so the air was tense at first and jovial later on as Pelican came north from two Brooklyn CMJ shows for a sold-out gig with Kings Destroy and Boston’s own Phantom Glue: A bill of three bands I’d very much been looking forward to seeing. Pelican‘s Forever Becomingwas still fresh in my head from reviewing it last week, so I was excited to see some of those songs live, and with memories of the mastery they displayed last year at Roadburn, it was all the better to catch them in a smaller space. Kings Destroy had an added element of intrigue for me, catching them out of their native NYC habitat, and since Phantom Glue were pretty high on my Boston-bands-I-gotta-see list (which, frankly, I can’t believe I haven’t made a post of yet), there was no way to lose. It had been a great day and it would be a great night.
As I’d learned the last time I was at the venue, it was dark. That seems to be how it goes. O’Brien’s, P.A.’s Lounge, Radio, Great Scott. All very cool places with no lights on. Fair enough, I guess. Nobody’s putting on shows for the people who show up with cameras, so there you go. Hardly impeded my enjoyment of Phantom Glue, who, again, I’d been anticipating a live encounter with more or less since I moved. Their vinyl-only summer ’13 outing, A War of Light Cones(review here), was a beast, and live, songs like “Perils” and “Biocult” only came across as meaner and rawer, the dueling barks of guitarist Matt Oates and bassist Nick Wolf tempering noise rock cruelties with modern metal sense of growl. It quickly became apparent that I was right to have high expectations for their set.
In a way, their t-shirts said it all. Wolf had Disfear, Oates had Karp, guitarist Mike Gowell had Harvey Milk and in back, drummer Kyle Rasmussen bore the logo of a demolition derby. So between them all, you had d-beat hardcore punk metal mixed with West Coast noise, unhinged creative doom and sheer destructive mechanical force for its own sake. I highly doubt the four guys in the band got together and were like, “Okay, tonight we’re going to go with the band-summation wardrobe,” but I’ll be damned if it didn’t work out that way anyhow, and for what it’s worth, their identity seemed to have been long since carved from these elements. They were comfortable on stage, delivered a powerful (and loud) set, and they’re a local act I’m very much looking forward to getting to know better. For even just a first time seeing them, though, they impressed.
And to have them go on right before Kings Destroy as well emphasized a clear difference in my mind — namely that between aggression and confrontation. Phantom Glue were aggressive; a heavy, move-the-air kind of band that lacked nothing in presence. Kings Destroy, their New York hardcore pedigree seeping through in a way that you’d say was in spite of them if they didn’t seem to enjoy it so much, are confrontational, directly challenging their audience. In Brooklyn, which is by far where I’ve seen them most, one almost takes this as a given. In Boston, when vocalist Steve Murphy jumped off the stage and went into the crowd at the end of “Blood of Recompense” from this year’s A Time of Hunting, it was more of a surprise. That’s not to say New England doesn’t have its own hardcore lineage — you can’t walk through Harvard Square without being spin-kicked at least twice — just that the approach is different.
Kings Destroy loved it, and speaking of kicks, guitarist Carl Porcaro got one from fellow six-stringer Chris Skowronski to wake him up as the solo in “Medusa” went long. They were loose, having played with Pelican in New York the night before, but dead on all the same, bassist Aaron Bumpus playing through a Sunn head I’ve seen smoke rise from the back of before with a tone that only made the already-full room more temperate. As ever, I fucking loved “The Toe,” which I’d argue is the transitional moment between the more straightforward riffery of the Maple Forum alums’ first album and the gleeful weirdness of cuts like “Shattered Pattern” and “Turul” from the second, taking cues from multiple impulses and setting them to drummer Rob Sefcik‘s steady groove. “Turul” wasn’t aired at Great Scott, but “Shattered Pattern” followed “Old Yeller” as the second song they played, which seemed bold for how quiet parts of it are, but “The Toe,” “Casse-Tête” and “The Mountie” set a steady roll that continued from there on out as they got more and more riotous toward their finish.
I’ve never regretted watching them play — their confrontationalism fascinates all the more outside New York; it’s fun to watch them catch people off guard – and by the time they were done, monitors had been toppled, P.A. speakers pushed, and Murphy had gone so far into the crowd that a path had to be cut for him to put the mic back on the stage. Not that Pelican needed it, being instrumental, but one doesn’t want to wander off with these things either. I don’t remember exactly when the grand slam put the Red Sox ahead of the Tigers, but I’m pretty sure it was between Kings Destroy and Pelican, and since that fits my narrative of the night better, I’m gonna go with it. Whenever it was, a cheer went up in the back of the venue and celebration — by that I mean more drinking — began. Despite a shared backline, Pelican took a while to get going. When they did, it seemed like the place was pretty well sauced. Not a complaint.
Also jammed. I old-man reminisced about seeing Pelican at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan nearly a decade ago (another dude up front said he’d been there as well, which was cool), but when I turned around, the room was heads the whole way back. Sure enough, a sold out show. The Chicago four-piece of guitarists Trevor de Brauw and Dallas Thomas, bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg got underway with “The Creeper” from 2009′s What We all Come to Need (review here), but it was the one-two-three of “Deny the Absolute,” “The Tundra” and “Immutable Dusk” from Forever Becomingthat hooked the crowd, myself included, with a tonally rich and unrepentantly heavy thrust that seemed to revel in its own dynamic of chugging, locked-in nod and periods of pastoral ambience. Though it’s a “duh” kind of thing to say for a band who’s been around for roughly 13 years, they were noteworthy in how tight they were, and though de Brauw got on a mic a couple times to thank the crowd for coming out and near the near the end of the set said it meant a lot to the band to sell out the place after not coming to town for so long, most of their time on stage was an undulating sea of open-feeling grooves.
Whatever else you can say about Pelican, they’ve never stopped doing things on their own terms — remember that time they found a singer and became the biggest band in the world? Nope, you don’t — so the loyalty engendered in their listeners makes sense, and justify by continuing to develop their approach over the years. One can trace their sound through the bevvy of splits and EPs and use their five full-lengths to date as a landmark, but live, it becomes more about the experience of where they are than how they got there. They dipped back to 2007′s City of Echoesto close out with “Dead between the Walls,” but that was as far back as they went. Last year’s Ataraxia/TaraxisEP (review here) was represented with “Lathe Biosas” and “Parasite Colony,” which like the three from Forever Becoming, appeared in succession as though to demonstrate that the flow of Pelican records is intended to mirror that of the live show and vice versa, and returning to the new album, “The Cliff” rested comfortably on Bryan‘s bassline as the airier guitars moved easily into the emergent churn of “Strung up from the Sky.”
By then, if you weren’t lost in it, you probably had called it a night already. I watched the end of Pelican‘s set further back, on the edge of the crowd swell, and found it no less immersive than it had been in front of the stage. “Strung up from the Sky” gave way to the galloping “Dead between the Walls,” breaking to atmospherics before building to a satisfying final churn and crashing noisy into its final moments. There was a requisite snap back to reality after the amps got shut off, and I watched as the crowd streamed out of the Great Scott and into the vomit-strewn baseball-loving Saturday night Allston street that awaited, got on line to pick up a CD of Forever Becoming– also buying a double of 2009′s Ephemeral EP, the title-track of which they’d played — and then likewise headed out.
Extra thanks to The Patient Mrs., Jaime Traba, Steve Murphy, Trevor de Brauw, and you for reading. This one was a special kind of night. Like I said, it was dark, but there are a few more pics after the jump.
Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re left wondering by the title of Phantom Glue‘s second album, A War of Light Cones, exactly how one might wage such a war, the Boston four-piece lead by example on the seven-track collection. They attack swiftly, efficiently, brutally and with crushing effectiveness. A War of Light Cones, which also serves as their label debut on Black Market Activities, follows a similar ethic to their 2009 self-released, self-titled first outing (reissued by Teenage Disco Bloodbath in 2010; review here) in that the newer outing was recorded by Kurt Ballou of Converge and clocks in under 30 minutes — they’re close at about 29 — but more important is the stylistic progression the band has undergone. Front to back, A War of Light Cones feels less concerned with genre than did its predecessor, and though by now the recordings are upwards of two years old, there’s a fresh sensibility to them for the impact both in the tones and the noise-fueled bombast Phantom Glue craft seemingly at will, the hardcore-ish rush that opens centerpiece “Bow in the Dust” given depth by fleet time changes and the kind of tightness and intensity that Ballou has been able to convey in records by High on Fire and Black Cobra over the last couple years. The former act was a specific point of comparison for the self-titled, and that’s something I stand by almost three years to the day after reviewing it, but A War of Light Cones presents a Phantom Glue much more assured of their own sound and direction, and while one can hear elements of post-Mastodonic progressive noodling in the dual guitars of Matt Oates (also vocals) and Mike Gowell in some of the album’s longer cuts — thinking of songs like “Neurolizard” and even brief flourish sections of “Biocult” — but between the insistent push they enact in “Captain Keith Pierce” and the nod-worthy chugging groove to be found buried in the noise of the later “Arboreal,” there’s little left to question that at some point between 2009 and 2011, Phantom Glue started to come into their own in a big way.
Part of that might be the addition of drummer Kyle Rasmussen (ex-Black Thai, Whitey) to the rhythm section alongside bassist Nick Wolf (also vocals), but it’s a growth that pervades every level of the listening experience for A War of Light Cones, so although Rasmussen gives an excellent, creative performance throughout the tracks, able to punctuate the bludgeoning of opener “Perils” just as well as the moodier, slower vibes of closer “Test Pattern,” I’m inclined to attribute it to more than just the personnel shift. And it’s important to remember that this progression is conveyed in a short, short 29 minutes. For that, though, A War of Light Conesdoesn’t feel at all incomplete — neither did the self-titled — it just feels lean in a punkish sense not so much fulfilled by the tones of Oates and Gowell or the shouts of Oates and Wolf, but that lies beneath the surface as a stylistic nuance all the same, ready to rear its head when called upon, as on the aforementioned “Captain Keith Pierce,” which when taken with “Perils” directly preceding, makes for a blistering introduction to Phantom Glue‘s ethic this time out: something like “destroy first, leave it to someone else to ask the questions.” So be it. The flashes of airier Akimbo-ism on “Biocult” come packaged with the album’s most blistering solo work, so there’s plenty for anyone so inclined to chew on should it come to that, and for all the to-the-pointery going on, neither does A War of Light Conesfeel rushed. The balance suits the band really well, the mix is stellar as harsh vocals slice through overbearing guitar and bass tones and as “Test Pattern” patiently stomp-sways the album to its finish, Phantom Glue sound crucial and cruel, a Melvins influence lurking somewhere in the intensity that’s teased behind a last-minute guitar solo but never really brought to as complete an onslaught as one might expect from the rest of the full-length before it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A few interesting things about the new Phantom Glue track, “Perils,” which comes from the forthcoming A War of Light Cones LP — the first record on Black Market Activities for the band, who released their self-titled debut in 2010 (review here). First, the song itself is a ripper, a basher and a punch-you-in-the-face-er. Second, it was recorded by Kurt Ballou in April and August 2011, nearly two full years before its release date of July 16.
Perhaps it’s my inquisitive nature (I don’t have one), but I wonder what was behind the delay in getting the album issued. Two years is a long wait for a band, especially a good one. Maybe it was just finding the right label. Either way, it must be a relief for the Boston band to know that A War of Light Conesis finally coming out. Good for them. If “Perils” is anything to go by, they’re no strangers to catharsis.
You like heavy, right? Here’s some:
PHANTOM GLUE: Lovecraftian “avalanche of distortion” on upcoming BMA album
Black Market Activities presents the release of Phantom Glue’s second album, A War of Light Cones, set for a July 16th release.
Boston, Massachusetts crushers, equally versed in sludge, doom, and noise rock, Phantom Glue churn out their self-proclaimed “avalanche of distortion” with nods to Neurosis, Trouble, and The Jesus Lizard throughout. Colossal drums and bass charge forth while twin guitars cast evil spells.
Beneath the music lies a heavy H.P. Lovecraft vibe, conjured through the supernatural lyrics and cover art of vocalist/guitarist Matt Oates. Oates describes A War of Light Cones specifically as “a nightmare/occult alternate history of Colonial America”. A perfect sample of Phantom Glue’s sound and vision, lead track “Perils” tells the tale of a trapper catching a creature whose pelt grants psychic gifts.
Phantom Glue’s second album and their first for BMA, A War of Light Cones was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studio (Torche, Today Is The Day). Ballou’s connection to Phantom Glue dates back to the 90s when he and Matt Oates were bandmates in The Huguenots.
Phantom Glue’s lineup is completed by guitarist Mike Gowell, bassist/vocalist Nick Wolf, and drummer Kyle Rasmussen.
A War of Light Cones‘ tracklist is as follows:
1) Perils 2) Captain Keith Pierce 3) Neurolizard 4) Bow in the Dust 5) Biocult 6) Arboreal 7) Test Pattern
The album will be available as a color vinyl 12″ LP, with digital download, and can be pre-orderedhere!
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Way to go to Boston-based crushers Phantom Glue. Word came down just a bit ago that the four-piece have signed with Black Market Activities, the Metal Blade imprint helmed by Guy Kozowyk of The Red Chord. Phantom Glue‘s 2010 self-titled debut (review here) was a rager, so hopefully their new alliance gets them some roadtime as they prepare to unleash their second album, A War of Light Cones early next year.
The PR wire tells it thusly:
Black Market Activities signs PHANTOM GLUE
Black Market Activities officially announces its newest signing: Phantom Glue. BMA will release the band’s new album, A War of Light Cones, in early 2013.
From Boston, Massachusetts, Phantom Glue name The Jesus Lizard, Neurosis, and Trouble as key influences, pounding out what Exclaim Magazine has termed “a heated bastion of caustic riffs and unearthly girth”.
Beneath the band’s self-proclaimed “avalanche of distortion” lies a rich conceptual foundation where lyrics and artwork combine to evoke a Lovecraftian universe. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Oates, also the band’s lyricist and resident cover artist, describes new album A War of Light Cones as “a nightmare/occult alternate history of Colonial America”. Standout track “Perils”, for example — released in August on alt weekly The Boston Phoenix’s Born of Fire, Vol. 2 compilation, alongside other Boston bands like Doomriders — tells the tale of a trapper catching a creature whose pelt grants psychic gifts.
Phantom Glue’s second album and their first for BMA, A War of Light Cones was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studio (Converge, Cave In, Today Is The Day). Ballou’s connection to Phantom Glue dates back to the 90s when he and Matt Oates were bandmates in The Huguenots.
Phantom Glue’s lineup is completed by guitarist Mike Gowell, bassist/vocalist Nick Wolf, and drummer Kyle Rasmussen.
BMA boss Guy Kozowyk states, “We are proud to welcome Phantom Glue into the BMA family. As someone who grew up in Boston and still lives in the area, it means a lot to me to have a strong New England contingent on BMA. With the recent Hivesmasher album and now Phantom Glue, we’re helping represent some of the exciting stuff going on here right now.”
Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are no credits included with Phantom Glue’s self-titled Teenage Disco Bloodbath Records debut. Just lyrics and artwork. Usually when a band does this kind of thing – the most prevalent example I can think of when it comes to willfully withholding information is Black Cobra, but lots of acts do it – you’re not missing much. Recorded by their friend in a basement, blah blah, thanks to the bands we play with, blah blah. In the case of Phantom Glue’s Phantom Glue, however, the Boston, Massachusetts, outfit recorded with Converge’s Kurt Ballou at Godcity Recording Studio in Salem, had the record mastered by Nick Zampiello, and guitarist/vocalist Matt Oates handled the disturbing album art himself. One would think they’d want this information out there. Why attach names of the caliber of Ballou and Zampiello to a project and then not tell anyone about it?
The chief audio comparison point for Phantom Glue is going to be High on Fire all the way. Oates and bassist N. Wolf (who also contributes vocals) are rougher in their delivery than latter-day Matt Pike, and the music sometimes launches into Sunlight Studios-style death metal guitar theatrics (as on “Brainbow”) with Oates and fellow guitarist M. Gowell duking out harmonics in the grand Entombed tradition. They also mark Electric Wizard as a comparison point, I think for the slower moments on the record, like the first half of closer “Scabman,” the title track, or perhaps most appropriately, “Blacktar,” which is legitimately centered around a riff that’s pure stoner doom despite the bombastic chaos happening around it.