Lyric Video Premiere: LáGoon, “Draculove”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan


Oregonian two-piece LáGoon will release their 2018 EP, L’affaire des Poisons — which follows their 2018 debut LP, Grim Ripper — in October through Deckhead Records (tape) and Norwegian Blue Records (vinyl). The Portland-based duo put out the six-tracker on their own digitally in July, and with it further showcased their raw, garage doom sneer, PNW skate fuckall and a bit of sass thrown in for good measure. The latter can most certainly be heard on “Draculove,” the lyric video for which is premiering below, but the EP also digs into punkier fare on the subsequent closer “Distant Enemy” and offers a particular dirty take on classic stoner riffing in “Kill the Messenger,” somewhere between Fu Manchu and Helmet where opener “Street Freaks” unfurls creeper-doom aggression and a central groove that persists throughout the entire release no matter where an individual song might go stylistically.

Holding the material together on L’affaire des Poisons — as opposed to “L’affaire des Poissons, which would be about fish — is the prevailing nastiness in the recording and a quirky sense of songwriting. It gets weird quickly and stays that way. Part of that is the vocal approach of guitarist Anthony Gaglia, which seems to revel in the feeling of being more than a bit off-center. It’s not necessarily all irony and tongue-in-cheek, though I don’t think one writes a song like “Draculove” without a sense of humor, but Gaglia‘s vocals — almost like Dali’s Llama‘s Zach Huskey taken to more of a semi-spoken extreme and melded with Jus Oborn‘s abiding disgust with humanity — are a defining element throughout L’affaire des Poisons, which uses just two and a half minutes for “The Affair of Poisons,” a tale that could easily be taken as a sequel to Penatagram‘s “Forever My Queen” about a love that leads to murder.

Songs are short, which is another tie to punker roots, and largely straightforward in their structure, but cuts like “Head Tripper,” “Kill the Messenger” and “Draculove” offer hooks to stand behind all that weirdo sensibility. Coupled with some shifts in pace and a prevailing sense of doomed foreboding, L’affaire des Poisons is deceptively skilled in putting the listener in the mindset and mood it’s determined for them, and its presence is is both eerie and fun in kind, like a horror movie that lets you laugh with it.

You can stream the full EP — that whole “released in July” thing — at the bottom of this post, but for a quick sampling and some clever wordplay, the lyric video for “Draculove” follows immediately here.

Please enjoy:

LáGoon, “Draculove” lyric video premiere

Lyric video for the song ‘Draculove’ off our recent EP, ‘L’affaire des Poisons’. Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Sam Lay in Portland, Oregon.

All the edited footage in this video was taken from Tod Browning’s ‘Dracula’ (1931).

LáGoon live:
Sep 11 Tonic Lounge Portland, OR
Sep 28 Peter’s Room, Roseland Theater Portland, OR

LáGoon is:
Guitar/Vocals – Anthony Gaglia
Drums – Brady Maurer

LáGoon, L’affaire des Poisons (2018)

LáGoon on Thee Facebooks

LáGoon on Instagram

LáGoon on Bandcamp

Deckhead Records on Bandcamp

Norwegian Blue Records webstore

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Megaton Leviathan Set Oct. 26 Release for Mage; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

megaton leviathan

I write about a lot of killer records on this site. Doing so keeps me as close to sane as I get. Take my word for it when I tell you this one is something special. I’m not bragging and I’m not claiming any insight or anything like that, but the basic fact of the matter is I hear a lot of music. A lot. And Megaton Leviathan‘s new LP, Mage (on Blood Music), is a standout, in style and substance alike. It’s a work of deep-running psychedelic heft that not only expands the reaches of the band’s prior outings, but does so in inventive and soulful fashion. In its atmosphere and its realization, it’s not to be missed. Something special. I don’t know how else to put it. Hopefully I come up with something before I sit down to review it, or it’s gonna be a pretty short writeup.

I’ve got till Oct. 26 on that one, so a bit of time, but Megaton Leviathan are streaming the opening track “Wave” now, and it’s as good a place to dig in as I can think of, though it doesn’t necessarily represent the entire scope of the offering. They’d basically have to stream the whole thing to do that, and, well, it’s early for that. I’m sure they’ll get there.

Release announcement came down the PR wire with the Earth-esque cover art and the aforementioned track:

Megaton Leviathan Mage

Megaton Leviathan announce new album “Mage”, stream new single “Wave”

Megaton Leviathan have released new details behind the release of their new album, “Mage”. The five track album, a follow up to 2014’s “Past 21: Beyond the Artic Cell”, will be released worldwide via Blood Music on October 26. Pre-orders for the album are available here.

Megaton Leviathan are streaming the first track off “Mage”. The single, “a sprawling, emotional, trippy and ultimately memorable track” titled “Wave” is streaming now.

Regarding the new track, singer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa Reuscher comments, “It’s about coming to peace and healing a broken heart. I was on a beach in Aptos doing some astral work/meditation and saw a pretty damn vivid waking vision of the goddess ISIS spread out across the horizon … she gave me this song.”

The artwork and track list for “Mage” is as follows:

Track List
1. Wave
2. Take The Fire
3. Mage
4. The Belldog
5. Within The Threshold

In the three years since MEGATON LEVIATHAN released the critically acclaimed Past 21: Beyond The Artic Cell, multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa Reuscher and fellow musician/producer Mort Subite have been diligently creating new material. Their aim is to meet and exceed MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s reputation for fusing disparate elements into new, borderline narcotic compositions.

The resulting offering from the re-envigorated band is their new album Mage, due to be released this October via Blood Music. The album is a concoction of the band’s very own blend of heavy rock, psychedelia, and shoegaze, with heavy synths and orchestral leanings.

Borne out of a personal catharsis for Reuscher, Mage incorporates themes of evolution and enlightenment. Recording took place in-house, with Mort Subite at the helm for mixing, and Billy Anderson handling mastering.

Several new members were drafted for the creation of Mage, including ex-Lord Dying drummer Jonathan Reid, vocalist and concert violinist Andrea Morgan, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Travis Hathaway, and bassist Trejen. This new and diversely talented cast inspired unexpected creative influence in the studio and will no doubt entrance live audiences when MEGATON LEVIATHAN hit the road.

Megaton Leviathan, “Wave”

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Ramprasad Stream Debut EP Ruinenlust in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on August 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan


Portland, Oregon, instrumentalist duo Ramprasad are gearing up for the Sept. 1 release of their debut EP, Ruinenlust, through Anima Recordings. The three-song offering from the two-piece band finds them dug into post-sludge riffing with a willful focus on atmosphere. It’s only about 20 minutes long, and nearly half of that goes right to the 9:45 opening title-track, but is both deceptively patient and purposefully crushing in its tonality. With journeyman guitarist Aaron D.C. Edge — of Lumbar, IamthethornBible Black TyrantMinor Fret and a nearly endless string of others — and the also-pedigreed drummer/noisemaker David Fylstra, it’s not really a surprise they would come into the project with an idea of the sound they want to conjure, though I’d also be willing to believe the two started to work together and Ramprasad was simply what came out.

The songs have a formative, naturalist flow from one into the next, “Ruinenlust” into “Essence of Illusion” (8:26) into the grammatically problematic noise/drone assault “The Woods, She Calls” (1:53) — unless the woods aren’t actually doing the calling there; one could imagine any number of scenarios — and that too feels like more than happenstance. Whether it was written all as one piece and split up in the recording, I don’t know — there’s a stop after “Essence of Illusion” before the sharp, high-pitched frequency that starts the closer takes hold, but even that transition seems surprisingly organic considering the inhuman nature of what follows — but it all comes together to create an overarching impression of oppressive tones and head-down rhythmic pummel.

ramprasad ruinenlustIt’s fucking heavy, is what I’m saying, and it could hardly be more fitting that Edge and Fylstra got together following a recording session for another one of the former’s bands, since that’s kind of how it goes with him. Aaron Edge, despite an MS diagnosis five years ago, has a long string of projects either conceived as one-offs or that simply turn out that way in the end. My mantra with his work is pretty much “appreciate it, but don’t get attached.” Late last year, he unveiled Bible Black Tyrant‘s debut album, Regret Beyond Death (discussed here), which first brought him together with Fylstra, whose sonic history isn’t quite as long but goes back through outfits like Canadensis and Wasting Seasons over the last several years.

Ramprasad might be seen as an extension of some of Bible Black Tyrant‘s grim tonality and bludgeoning mindset, but the shift to Fylstra playing drums instead of guitar and vocals — he and Edge share bass duties — and the elements of noise throughout are distinguishing factors. Coupled with the viciousness of chug and the angular, sharp corners of “Essence of Illusion,” Ruinenlust takes on a controlled-feeling torrential feel, a conscious and thoughtful work but still a collaboration that sounds like it’s just getting started, even if coherently. Will Edge and Fylstra continue to work together, either in Ramprasad or Bible Black Tyrant? Far be it from me to speculate, but the fruit of their work together in these tracks is rich and deep in its mix, and in their full-on brutality and more ambient stretches — thinking of “Essence of Illusion” around the five-minute mark, before the concrete riffing returns — they come across as a vital unit beginning a longer exploration.

After all, the German-language title Ruinenlust does indeed translate to “lust for ruin.” A kind of death wish, maybe? In any case, that feeling of foreboding certainly carries into “Ruinenlust” itself and the sweeping, abrasive consumption of “The Woods, She Calls.” You can stream all three cuts ahead of the Sept. 15 release now on the player below. More background on the recording follows, as well as some word from Edge on plans for the band, courtesy of the PR wire.


Ramprasad is the collaboration of Portland, OR musicians Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Bible Black Tyrant, Iamthethorn, etc.) and David S. Fylstra (KVØID, Folian, Canadensis, etc.). The duo met when Aaron came to David’s home studio to record vocals for his Minor Fret project. Just within the weeks to follow, the two were in a small practice space writing music together. Ramprasad was formed in April of 2016.

Ramprasad’s debut effort “Ruinenlust” takes us on a short, yet daringly adventurous and impactful sonic journey. The instrumental music within these three tracks manages to merge elements of metal, sludge, hardcore, doom, and electronic noise. Drums were recorded by Zak Kimball at Nomah Studios in Portland. All other music recorded and finally mixed by David at Candlewolfe Sound in Portland. It was mastered by Zach Weeks at Godcity Studio in Salem, MA.

“Ruinenlust” will be released digitally and on cassette via David’s label Anima Recordings.

Aaron Edge on Ramprasad’s future:

Until two years ago, and since late 2012, my MS had kept me from playing live music with a drummer. It just wasn’t possible. I was confined to writing and recording records in my home studio, passing tunes ’round with other folks from around the country — projects that I could spend months on, slowly and without wasting money and band member patience — projects that were important for my creative drive and sanity. But, with the help of proper meds, I now have a grip on my chronic hand pain (I suppose there’s a pun there). I’m able to stand and play guitar with a live drummer and it’s huge.

Now, the suffering is worth it in a way, there is not only a release of my sonic historic significance… there is also a live release of energy, volume and emotion. David and I aren’t going anywhere, and though I’ll always work on other musical projects (both Yama-Uba and Canyon of the Crescent Moon to be released this year), Ramprasad is a visual, full-time beast. We have a full-length wrapped up as well, just needs to be mastered, and we are hoping that Ruinenlust is a teaser of what we can’t wait to share. I love Dave like a brother, he’s been very patient with my progress and one of the best musicians I’ve worked with since first strumming in the mid-’80s. He shines here, and though my story is heavy, it’s only made possible by his donation of blood, sweat, tears and bombastic behavior.

Aaron D.C. Edge – guitar
David Fylstra – drums, noise
(bass on “Ruinenlust” performed by Aaron and David)

Ramprasad on Thee Facebooks

Ramprasad on Bandcamp

Anima Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Anima Recordings on Twitter

Anima Recordings on Bandcamp

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Lord Dying Sign to eOne; New Album Due in 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Please don’t get me wrong, Lord Dying are a cool-ass band, and their last album, 2015’s Poisoned Altars (review here), was pretty much brilliant in its oppressive and doomed extremity, but isn’t that precisely why this is kind of a surprise? I mean, sure, Crowbar and High on Fire and others on the eOne roster are heavy, but aren’t Lord Dying just that extra touch more brutal? They seemed right at home on Relapse, touring their asses off as always, and reaching more people than ever. I don’t know the dudes at all, so maybe the change isn’t as sudden as it seems at all, but I was kind of taken aback to see the announcement come through the PR wire. I guess I just thought Lord Dying were a more vicious-sounding band than a label like eOne would seek out. Credit to both label and band that I was mistaken in that supposition, I guess.

Bottom line: right on. No one can say Lord Dying didn’t earn what they’ve got.

Here’s what the label had to say about it:

lord dying



Entertainment One (eOne) has signed Portland, Oregon’s LORD DYING to a worldwide deal with plans to release an all-new LP next year. Hailing from a region of the country that’s abundant with purveyors of the heavy riff, both parties are eager to get started.

“We are very excited to announce our signing with eOne,” says guitarist and vocalist Erik Olson. “We’re in good company here with the likes of Crowbar, High on Fire and Black Fast.”

LORD DYING will head into the studio next week with producer/engineer Mike Plotnikoff (Fear Factory/In Flames) at West Valley Recording Studios.

“We’re excited to start working on our third album with Mike. We’ve been working tirelessly the last couple years on this album and in some ways, it’s one Chris and I have wanted to make for the last 15+ years.”

The new, yet to be titled LP will serve as the follow up to Poisoned Altars released in 2015.

Lord Dying, “A Wound Outside of Time” official video

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Ape Machine: New Album Darker Seas Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ape machine

Underrated road-dogger rockers Ape Machine have a new record coming out Sept. 7 called Darker Seas, and as one might guess, it’s working through some tough times on the part of the band. Ups and downs, at the very least. That’s all detailed below, but when perusing the PR wire info below, consider as well the part that notes the upcoming as the band’s fifth long-player and not only that it was recorded with Poison Idea‘s Steve Hanford, who’s also joined the band, but that it has some elements of sonic progression as well, a bit more of a mind perhaps on arrangement beyond the straightforward riffy fare — nothing wrong with it, particularly given the level of their songcraft — that Ape Machine have thus far proffered. One has to wonder if they’ll keep up their tour-heavy ways supporting this new release, but we’ll find that out eventually I’m sure. Meanwhile, we’re already less than a month out from the album landing, so you know, time’s a crunch.

Here’s info from the PR wire:

ape machine darker seas

Ape Machine to Release New LP, ‘Darker Seas’, September 7

Portland, OR power rock band, Ape Machine, will release its new LP, Darker Seas, on September 7 via Ripple Music. The group’s fifth and latest album was recorded with punk legend Steve Hanford, producer and former Poison Idea drummer, who has since joined Ape Machine on drums. Darker Seas is described by the band as “heavier and more progressive than previous records but also more structured and cinematic.”

Along with fellow Portland, OR-based heavyweights Red Fang and Danava, the high-powered quartet Ape Machine has been making its modern take on vintage hard rock for the better part of the past decade. Formed by singer Caleb Heinze and guitarist Ian Watts, the group self-released their first album, entitled This House Has Been Condemned, in 2010. The name APE MACHINE is a nod to the days of reel-to-reel magnetic tape audio recording; a fitting moniker as the band plays through vintage tube amplifiers and lays down its songs using exclusively throwback quality studio equipment.

The making of the new album, Darker Seas, saw the band experience death and rebirth in more ways than one. During the making of the record, Caleb and Ian lost a mother and father respectively, and Brian experienced the birth of his first child, a son. The band went nearly bankrupt from relentless touring and untimely vehicle failures, but ultimately developed an unshakable determination and resolve to deliver the message of the music. Musically, Darker Seas reflects the personal struggles of the band and its members but also the patience developed by living through it all.

“Sonically, ‘Darker Seas’ takes on new territory for the band with use of vocal harmonies, melodic guitar harmonies and even some Cello on “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester),” says Watts. “The songs paint a picture of trial, hardship, pain and optimism all at the same time.”

Track listing:

1. Damned, Their Bones
2. Into The Shredder
3. Piper’s Rats
4. Watch What You Say
5. The Fall
6. Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)
7. The Contract
8. All Hands Gathered To The Mast, We’re Going Down
9. Bend Your Knee
10. Push It Away
11. A Many Things

Ape Machine features Caleb Heinze (vocals), Ian Watts (guitar), Brian True (bass) and Steve Hanford (drums).

Ape Machine, Live at the Tonic Lounge, May 28, 2018

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BlackWater HolyLight Post “Wave of Conscience” Video; Touring West Coast Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

blackwater holylight

Portland, Oregon, four-piece BlackWater HolyLight made their self-titled debut (review here) earlier this year with the formidable backing of RidingEasy Records. But, you know, as any given year goes on, a lot of really killer records that came out in the first half — Winter albums certainly, but early Spring ones too — are lost in the shuffle when it comes to considering the year’s best. That’s part of why you always see so many records released in September. That way they’re fresh in mind for list time. Also of course involves touring cycles and things like that, but you get the idea. It’s not the only factor, but it’s definitely a piece of it. Just because a record came out in February or April doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered alongside one of October’s finest outings.

As to what the hell that has to do with BlackWater HolyLight, I’m getting there. One of the ways a band can counteract this temporal phenomenon is by putting out music videos. Another is touring, and vocalist/bassist Allison Faris, guitarist/vocalist Laura Hopkins, drummer Cat Hoch and synth player Sarah Mckenna are doing a bit of both. They have a new video for the ultra-catchy, Witch-worthy fuzz of “Wave of Conscience” (originally premiered here) and they’re going to be touring mostly in California for a week next month. Along with songs like the buzz-happy “Sunrise” and the synth-laden lower-end rollout of “Slow Hole,”  “Wave of Conscience” is an easy pick-out as a highlight of BlackWater HolyLight‘s self-titled, and they give its hook due presence with the visual accompaniment, mining the public record for nature footage of a black widow spider laying and hatching an egg.

The clip — spoiler alert — ends with hundreds of baby black widows trolling around their mom’s web, and the jumpy creep of their movement could hardly be better suited to the band’s sound. It’s an effective reminder to put the record on and provides a fervent case for showing up to one of the gigs should they happen to be hitting your town. To wit, awesomeness.

You can check out the “Wave of Conscience” video below, followed by those tour dates and more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

BlackWater HolyLight, “Wave of Conscience” official video

Portland, OR quartet BlackWater HolyLight share the first video from their breakout debut album today. Watch and share “Wave of Conscience” via YouTube.

BlackWater HolyLight also announce West Coast tour dates starting August 3rd. Please see current dates below.

BlackWater HolyLight was recorded by Cameron Spies at Gold Brick Studios and The Greenhouse, and with Eric Crespo at Touch Tourcher Recording in Portland. The album is available on LP, CD and download, released April 6th, 2018 via RidingEasy Records on LP & CD at and digital at

08/03 Nevada City, CA @ Cooper’s
08/04 Oakland, CA @ Elbo Jack London
08/07 Las Vegas, NV @ Bunkhouse
08/08 Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon w/ Zig Zags
08/09 Oceanside, CA @ Pourhouse w/ Red Wizard
08/10 Fresno, CA @ Full Circle
08/11 Arcata, CA @ Alibi

BlackWater HolyLight on Instagram

BlackWater HolyLight on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

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Holy Grove Finish Work on New Album Holy Grove II

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

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

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

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

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

holy grove 1 (Photo Alyssa Herrman)

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

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

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

Holy Grove II tracklisting:
Blade Born
Valley of The Mystics

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

Holy Grove, Holy Grove (2016)

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Review & Track Premiere: Pushy, Hard Wish

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

pushy hard wish

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

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

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

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

Pushy 2018

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

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

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

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