Review & Full Stream: Nick Oliveri, N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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[Click play above to stream Nick Oliveri’s N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 in its entirety. CD/LP out Oct. 20 via Heavy Psych Sounds.]

As he informs in screaming fashion on the penultimate “Country as Fuck,” Nick Oliveri is here to drink, fuck, and fight. Would anyone expect less? That song is by a group called Plan B fronted by Oliveri and featuring guitarist Steve Soto, drummer and Joey Castillo, and guitarist Troy van Leeuwen — the latter two former Oliveri bandmates in Queens of the Stone Age — and it’s one of six cuts, each by a different group featuring Oliveri, included on N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3, the third installment of a Heavy Psych Sounds-backed series of “lost,” previously unreleased or otherwise hard to chase down tracks from the former Kyuss bassist.

Of course, Oliveri‘s alias identities include being the frontman of Mondo Generator, his own Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable solo band, his Death Acoustic solo work, performing with Dwarves, a stint in Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino, bassist in BloodclotBl’astSvetlanas, on and on. His reputation for drug-fueled riotousness precedes him — 2011 police standoff, rifle, prison, amphetamines; easy to recall — and sure enough, N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 tears un-P.C. ass through its 17-minute stretch, blasting off punker violence as it goes with Oliveri‘s recognizable throat-searing shouts and unmatched attitude serving as the factors to tie it all together. He may or may not actually be country as fuck, but he certainly makes the above-noted mission statement sound like a genuine expression of intent.

Cohorts and accomplices are a big part of the appeal on N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 as well. Oliveri joins Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins) in her Hand of Doom solo Black Sabbath covers project for a take on “The Mob Rules” that seems to revel in how far from the Dio-fronted original version it is, while also reminding of how propulsive that original actually was. Dwarves and a side-project for Dwarves guitarist He Who Cannot Be Named both show up, the former with second cut “Luv is Fiction,” which finds Oliveri on vocals under his own name while also playing bass under the guise of Rex Everything. The esteemed Josh Freese (Suicidal Tendencies, Ween, A Perfect Circle, Guns ‘n’ Roses, indeed Dwarves, among many others) may or may not be playing drums on “Luv is Fiction,” which together with He Who Cannot Be Named‘s “Medication,” comprise just about the most outwardly accessible inclusions on the record.

When Dwarves is as close as you get to “audience friendly,” you know some shit is going down. And fair enough. So much of Oliveri‘s sonic personality is based around being unhinged, the wild man, etc., it only seems fair that even as “Luv is Fiction” moves into semi-spoken verses, it should still serve as a reminder of the edge and sense of danger that Queens of the Stone Age have arguably been missing for the last 12-plus years, and by the time they come around, “Country as Fuck” and “The Mob Rules” at the end only underscore the point of the kind of torrent Oliveri can bring to a piece of material and still hold it together to the degree he does, which, naturally, varies.

nick oliveri

And now that the lead has been thoroughly buried, N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 features two seeming exclusives of particular note. The first is opener “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw,” a cover of Rose Tattoo‘s 1978 single by the Oliveri-fronted Royale Daemons, a project idea kicked around a few years back that featured Joey Castillo on drums and Scott “Wino” Weinrich (The ObsessedSaint VitusSpirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, and so on) on guitar. The notion of an Oliveri/Wino collaboration was enough to turn heads in that trio’s direction with the sheer announcement of its existence, but apart from a show or two, this recording and one featured on the previous installment of this series earlier this year, so far as I know nothing else has come of it, and as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw” has never been previously released, it’s definitely something special for N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3.

Same could be said of side B leadoff “Kyuss Dies,” by a trio incarnation of Kyuss Lives! without vocalist John Garcia that consists just of Oliveri, drummer Brant Bjork and guitarist Bruno Fevery, on which Oliveri essentially tells the tale in punker fashion of the lawsuit that brought that project to an end and saw the birth of Vista Chino, which of course also led to the departure of Oliveri from the group. Over a raw and fuzzy recording, Oliveri intones “Here come the suits and ties/Kyuss dies,” while brazenly declaring, “So long my friends/I’m gone.” So he would be, but it’s worth noting that “Kyuss Dies” is the only studio recording ever made public under the moniker of Kyuss Lives! — it’s also the longest track here at 3:42 — so is something of a historical footnote in the timeline of that group as well, which would seem to have been shortlived and more or less doomed from the outset.

As with any such interplay of characterization and persona, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to seeing Oliveri as the one-man wrecking crew he’s reputed to be, but along with his screams, his scathing vision of what punk rock should do, he’s also someone who can craft a landmark hook, and even “Kyuss Dies,” which sounds like a studio tossoff jam, is maddeningly catchy, to say nothing of “Luv is Fiction” or “Country as Fuck.” These things he seems to take with him wherever he goes, and if N.O. Hits at All, Vol. 3 continues to prove anything, it’s that the dude gets around.

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Queens of the Stone Age, Villains: Casting Roles

Posted in Reviews on August 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

queens of the stone age villains

Who are the rockstars of our age? Whither thou the dearly departed Bowies, the Lemmys, the Frank Zappas and the Led Zeppelins of modernity who might otherwise be teaching the next up and coming generation how to not suck. Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme would seem to have made it his mission to step into this role, and one might argue that Villains — the band’s second offering through Matador Records following 2013’s resurgent …Like Clockwork (review here) — is his highest-profile attempt to-date. I don’t know whether the proverbial “kids” are attuned at all to its frequency when it comes to getting the point — at 44, he might simply be part of a generation that’s too old (also too loud?) to have that kind of impact — but it’s something that wouldn’t shake out for another 10 to 15 years anyway, so we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, the seventh QOTSA full-length comprises nine songs and 49 minutes of Homme‘s choice-as-ever songcraft, delivered with a sense of answering the record prior that extends even to the return of artist Boneface for the cover, as well as the stated intention of danceability that (almost) immediately bears out on opener “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” as Homme‘s guitar and vocals take check-out-this-hook stance atop a bounce from the returning lineup of keyboardist/guitarist Dean Fertita, guitarist Troy van Leeuwen, bassist Michael Shuman — all three of whom also contribute vocals — and drummer Jon Theodore in the ultra-pop, ultra-clean production by Mark Ronson, noted for his work with pop megastars like Bruno Mars, Adele, and Amy Winehouse, among others.

If this is the company Homme is looking to keep, it’s entirely possible he’s found the right moment to do so. Without the label-reinforced pay-to-play structure of radio promotion as in decades past, pop culture is sorely lacking in rockers — though it seems to be getting along just fine without, and rockers seem to be doing the same in more underground spheres. The question becomes whether Homme‘s Warhol-esque willful adoption of style as substance as presented throughout Villains is the right message to send that inevitable next generation of would-be actual-guitar heroes, and that, of course, is an entirely different debate.

While there’s something inherently cloying about the process of appealing toward mainstream legitimacy — Homme wants that next number-one chart position, wants the thus-far-elusive Grammy — it’s worth noting that Queens of the Stone Age are doing so on their own terms. The first lines of opener “Feet Don’t Fail Me” come from Homme speaking about being born in the desert, and whether it’s the frantic “Head Like a Haunted House” with its playful call and response of “You okay?” and “I’m fine,” or the handclap-laden shimmy and buzzsaw tone of “The Way You Used to Do,” Villains feels in no small part built from similar impulses that drove the swaggering but still ironic “Smooth Sailing” from …Like Clockwork. A key difference between that record and this one, however, is in the narrative crux and the urgency of expression. The story there was Homme had nearly died in surgery, had just gotten through suing his former Kyuss bandmates and was making a return to Queens of the Stone Age after several years away that included releasing the self-titled debut from supergroup power trio Them Crooked Vultures (review here). The story here is, as the guitarist has said, he’s over all that and just wants to dance.

Not exactly compelling, but fair enough. Add to that the fact that where …Like Clockwork wasn’t shy about bringing in guests like Sir Elton John, Nine Inch Nails figurehead Trent Reznor and even former Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri (also Mondo Generator, Vista Chino, etc.) for guest appearances, Villains is a completely in-house affair for the five-piece, which even with the measure or two of Oliveri-esque screams that someone — presumably Shuman, but don’t quote me — adds to the end of the maddeningly catchy “Domesticated Animals” positions Homme all the more as the defining presence in the band. Whatever else van Leeuwen — who is otherwise the longest-tenured member of the band, having joined 15 years ago around the release of 2002’s ultra-seminal Songs for the DeafShuman, Fertita or Theodore add to the mix, Villains finds the group more about Homme than ever.

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He’s more than capable of carrying the band, but after the slow build into the wistfully poppy “Fortress,” which proves to be a highlight of the album as a whole after the these-are-the-singles opening salvo of “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” “The Way You Used to Do” and “Domesticated Animals,” and the aforementioned thrusting centerpiece “Head Like a Haunted House,” Villains — almost following the structure of the preceding album in a way that 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze was in direct conversation with Songs for the Deaf before it — moves deeper into its second half, marked by the longer songs “Un-Reborn Again,” “The Evil Has Landed” and the finale “Villains of Circumstance,” each of which tops six minutes. Again, …Like Clockwork functioned similarly, with pieces like “Kalopsia,” “Fairweather Friends” and “I Appear Missing” (which weren’t all necessarily longer, but were broader nonetheless) before a subdued closing title-track. “Un-Reborn Again” stomps and struts behind a keyboard line and buzzing guitar as Homme taps his inner Elvis even as he references Georgia Satellites in the lyrics and is the longest cut on Villains at 6:41, but stays even in its bounce and offers little in terms of build or emotional resonance.

A more melancholy vibe that persists in the shorter “Hideaway” (4:21), again marked by the heavy use of Fertita‘s keyboards, would seem to be filling this role, but the earlier “Fortress” did so in more memorable fashion and with greater nuance of melody and arrangement. It functions to bring Villains back to ground after “Un-Reborn Again,” but feels as much about setting up the turn into “The Evil Has Landed,” which feels intended as the rocking finish before the emotive epilogue “Villains of Circumstance” plays to ’80s pop and New Wave the way the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things was so chock full of nostalgia for a time that only debatably earned it. Indeed, “The Evil Has Landed” has its moment of drive toward the end, but works in three stages to get there, swaying through bopping early verse/chorus trades and a somewhat meandering solo section before shifting back into the hook and bridging to a faster push that, while marked by Homme crooning “Here we go” after a punctuating drum stop, still feels restrained in its tonal impact compared to some of the group’s time-to-go-all-out moments in the past, whether that’s “A Song for the Deaf” or even “Suture up Your Future” from 2007’s Era Vulgaris.

Longtime listeners of the band hoping Homme might “go back” to his roots and the modus of LPs like Queens of the Stone Age‘s 1998 self-titled debut, 2000’s Rated R or Songs for the Deaf that’s proven to have so wide an influence on desert rock around the world are dreaming. That time, that lineup, and those motives are long gone, and there’s very little in Villains that won’t feel toothless to anyone who approaches it looking for them, up to and including the ending of “The Evil Has Landed” and “Villains of Circumstance,” the relatively scorching guitar of “Domesticated Animals” or the rhythmic focus of “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and “The Way You Used to Do.”

What Homme and company present instead is a successful realization of their stated mission — to dance — and a collection of ultra-crafted songs that reimagine pop as something that just might not shy away from rocking out every now and again. I have no idea if it will get them a Grammy, or top whatever chart it might be aiming for, or cast Homme as a generation-defining rockstar of his age — one could easily argue this already happened a decade and a half ago — but on a basic level of craft, Queens of the Stone Age continue to be a singular presence in rock’s broadest sphere, and Villains offers plenty to remind its audience of how they got there.

Queens of the Stone Age, “The Evil Has Landed”

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Queens of the Stone Age Post Video for “The Way You Used to Do”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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As a people, a collective and a universe constantly in flux, we’re inching closer to the Aug. 25 official release date of Queens of the Stone Age‘s new album, Villains, on Matador Records. The record, which was announced back in June, has carried a sense of production value as a forward-facing theme since the outset — even the announcement was a well-directed and clever video — and with the emphasis on the recording by Mark Ronson (Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, etc.) plays into that as well. So to it would seem does the new clip for the uptempo leadoff single “The Way You Used to Do.” Nothing quite like being on theme.

I say “it would seem” as regards the new video though because all I’ve seen of the thing is the teaser clip below. Queens of the Stone Age released it exclusively through Apple Music, and while I’m sure it’ll make its way to YouTube in short order if it hasn’t by the time this post is live, the notion of paying to watch a music video in 2017 strikes me as more than its fair share of ridiculous. Most bands can barely give away a video, and while I’ve already reconciled myself to writing about it and subsequently purchasing Villains when it comes out — I used to be cool enough to get promos of their stuff to review; this one’s got me chasing down leaks like I’m the dag-nab Attorney General — you’ll pardon me if I try and hold onto some measure of propriety, at least, you know, until I don’t.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all heard the record by now and have your own opinions on it. I’ll have a review up I think next week for it if all pans out the way I’m hoping it does, and then the universe will proceed on its merry way, catchy songs and whatnot.

Here’s the teaser for the video and more info from Matador‘s website:

Queens of the Stone Age, “The Way You Used to Do” teaser

“Dancing and headbanging are truly individualistic expressions of losing oneself fully in appreciation of music—who better to combine these things into a singular vision than someone who’s directed Madonna and Lady Gaga videos–and also happens to have been a member of Bathory?”—Joshua Homme

“The Way You Used To Do,” the recently released first single from Queens Of The Stone Age’s ominously approaching seventh album ‘Villains’, has been realized as a fever dream Satanic dance ritual extravaganza—featuring QOTSA founder and frontman Joshua Homme lighter on his feet and darker in his soul than ever before.

Conceived by Homme, directed by Jonas Akerlund and produced by Serial Pictures, “The Way You Used To Do,” somehow fit its multiple sets, wardrobe changes and intricate dance routines into one day of shooting August 8th in Los Angeles. Considering potential reactions to the sinister shuffle of “The Way We Used To Do” being translated into a panoramic soul-selling dance trip, Homme says “It’s our way of paying tribute to Cab Calloway and the film Hellzapoppin’. I fully realize that may be a little more than some are open to, and that’s perfectly fine with me. There’s the door. If some of the more close-minded are gently pruned, that just leaves more room on the dance floor for the open-minded ones to get loose. That’s been the spirit of Queens Of The Stone Age and the space we’ve worked to create from day one.”

‘Villains’ is co-produced by Mark Ronson and will be released worldwide on August 25th.

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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

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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Nick Oliveri Announces Acoustic European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

nick oliveri

As he continues to support the solo album Leave Me Alone (streamed here) released under the moniker of Nick Oliveri and the Uncontrollable, the persistently raucous Oliveri is set to embark in July on a month-plus of European touring, acoustic style. This incarnation of the former Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age bassist — whose resumé also includes The Dwarves, his own Mondo Generator and a slew of contributions to others, up to and including Vista Chino — is dubbed Death Acoustic after a 2009 album of the same name (review here), and Oliveri will begin the tour with a slot at the Stoned from the Underground festival in Erfurt, Germany.

Still not sure what’s up with Oliveri‘s rumored collaboration with Wino in Royale Daemons, but when and if I hear of anything in that regard I’ll let you know. In the meantime, the PR wire brought this announcement:

nick oliveri leave me alone

Nick Oliveri embark on summer acoustic tour across Europe in support of his new album Leave Me Alone, dates and festival appearances announced.

Nick Oliveri is one of the most dexterous and versatile journeyman musicians in the underground rock scene. His work with such bands as Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age and Mondo Generator has made him an iconic figure in the heavy music scene while his persona as long time Dwarves bassist Rex Everything and current bass playing duties with newly reformed hardcore act Bl’ast have anchored him as a force to be reckoned with in the punk/hardcore realm. His songwriting has appeared in landmark albums such as Wretch and Blues For The Red Sun (Kyuss) and Rated R and Songs For The Deaf (Queens Of The Stone Age).

His body of work and catalog is vast and respectable with contributions to such artists as Turbonegro, Eagles Of Death Metal, Mark Lanegan Band, Winnebago Deal, Rollins Band, Masters of Reality and the legendary Desert Sessions recordings.

From July till mid August, Nick will be travelling across the Old World on a special acoustic tour in support of his latest release entitled Leave Me Alone that was recorded by his new project and debut solo effort (he literally played every instrument on the album, minus some guest appearances) called Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable. The tour kicks off in Erfurt (Germany) at the long running Stoned From The Underground festival alongside the likes of Electric Wizard, his old friend John Garcia, Radio Moscow and Danava and concludes August 16th at Leperfest (Belgium) where he’ll share the stage with hardcore icons Sick Of It All, doom pioneers Pentagram, and cult-like Brujeria.

He’s coined the name of his acoustic tours as “Death Acoustic” tours and they’ve always been an intimate experience with him and his fans, where he ‘s known to interact with the audience directly in the middle and between songs throughout the his sets, take requests and invite the whole audiences to get involved with the set, rowdy or not!

Full list of dates:

July 10th: Stoned From The Underground Festival (Erfurt, GER)
July 11th: Panic Room (Essen, GER)
July 12th: Fleece (Bristol, UK)
July 13th: Gypsy Rose (Dublin, UK)
July 14th: Voodoo (Bellfast, UK)
July 15th: Audio (Glasgow, UK)
July 16th: Portland Arms (Cambridge, UK)
July 17th: The Corporation (Sheffield, UK)
July 18th: The Boston Music Room (London, UK)
July 19th: Moon Club (Cardiff, UK)
July 20th: Glazart (Paris, France)
July 21st: Le Ferrailleur (Nantes, France)
July 22nd: TBC
July 23rd: Raindogs (Savona, Italy)
July 24th: Sunride Festival (Pesaro, Italy)
July 25th: Zara Spiaggia Bar (Pescara, Italy)
July 26th: Nano Verde (Follonica, Italy)
July 27th: Festa Dell’ Unita (Canonica, Italy)
July 28th: Freak Out Club (Bologna, Italy)
July 29th: Parco Della Musica (Padova, Italy)
July 30th: Vintage Industrial Bar (Zagreb, Croatia)
August 1st: Viper Room (Vienna, Austria)
August 3rd: Backstage (Munich, GER)
August 4th: Rockhouse (Salzburg, Austria)
August 5th: Jagerklause (Berlin, GER)
August 6th: Ostpol (Dresden, GER)
August 7th: La Casa (Cottbus, GER)
August 8th: TBA (Bucarest, Romania)
August 9th: Chez Heinz (Hannover, GER)
August 10th: Hafenklang (Hamburg, GER)
August 11th: DB’s (Utrecht, NL)
August 12th: Gebr De Nobel (Leiden, NL)
August 13th: De Pul (Uden, NL)
August 14th: The Lane (Oostburg, NL)
August 15th: De Hip (Deventer, NL)
August 16th: Leperfest (Leper, Belgium)

Leave Me Alone by Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable is out now on both regular LP/CD and collectible leather sleeve LP through Schnitzel Records and is available for streaming at the link here.

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Nick Oliveri, “Green Machine/Another Love Song/Outlaw Scumfuc/Won’t Let Go” Acoustic

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Friday Full-Length: Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 6th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age (1998/2011)

I try not to write about Queens of the Stone Age too often. They’re kind of a given. But every now and then I break out their 1998 self-titled debut, and sometimes there’s just nothing else that will do. As we head into a summery-feeling weekend after a long, chaotic, but still really good week, it’s one of those moments when this record fits perfectly and it feels like as long as I keep it on the sun will stay up.

Now 16 years old and every bit the snotnosed punk, Queens of the Stone Age‘s Queens of the Stone Age was Josh Homme‘s first real outing as a frontman. Yeah, they had done the split with his former band, the desert rock pioneers Kyuss, and the Gamma Ray recordings, but it was these songs that really first shone the light on his vocals — and in hindsight how much he was really feeling his way through becoming a singer — and the approach and style of lyric-writing that would become a staple over the course of QOTSA‘s albums, influencing more bands worldwide than anyone could reasonably be asked to count and bridging the generally mile-wide gap between underground and commercial viability. To listen to “Mexicola” or “You Would Know” or “Avon” now, it’s nowhere near as elaborate as the band’s sound would become — Homme is the sole remaining founder, he sang and played bass and guitar on the self-titled while Alfredo Hernandez (also Kyuss, Yawning Man) drummed — but the songwriting is still waiting for something to stand up to it more than a decade and a half later.

There are those who are Kyuss loyalists, and with the back and forth legal action and animosity between ex-member camps, get caught up in some argument of who’s right and who’s wrong and whatever. I’m not into picking one or the other and to choose sides and only listen to Queens of the Stone Age or Kyuss or Vista Chino or Brant Bjork or John Garcia seems to me a silly way of denying yourself good music on either end. The self-titled Queens of the Stone Age is a record that I’ve listened to and loved for years. To me, that seems more important than whatever litigation may or may not be undertaken.

Hope you enjoy. Note: This is the 2011 reissue version, so you get “The Bronze,” “These aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For” and “Spiders and Vinegaroons” in addition to the original tracklist.

I had that record on last night on the tail end of the ride back to Massachusetts from New Jersey. If you noticed a general lack of posts this week as compared to “normal,” it’s because The Patient Mrs. and I were back and forth a lot, seeing family and friends and trying to get in as much quality time as possible. Also my car broke down and that added some measure of complication. Whatever. Point is it all worked out and I’m pretty sure that had I not been singing along to “If Only” last night at the time, I’d have driven right into the median on I-93.

Before I put the laptop down and go to the grocery store to pick up dinner makings, I want to extend one more tremendous thank you to Diane Farris of Jersey City’s legendary WFMU for having me on her show yesterday afternoon. It was such an unbelievable pleasure to be there and to pick tracks and get to talk about music and this site on the air. If you didn’t hear it, the full playlist, comment board and audio archive is available here: http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/55937

Diane’s Kamikaze Fun Machine is on every Thursday from 12PM-3PM, and she does her Peer Pressure guest segments from 1PM on. Obviously I recommend listening.

Thanks as well to everyone who checked that out yesterday and left a comment to say hi or ask a question. It felt extra awesome to know people I knew were taking part in the show and hopefully enjoying doing so. Made me miss doing radio, which is something I haven’t really felt since I graduated college a decade ago.

Next week, reviews of Godflesh and the new split between Naam and Black Rainbows and White Hills and The Flying Eyes, as well as Deville‘s stop in Worcester and maybe a C.O.C. interview if it comes together in time. I’ve got some emailing to do to put that together, but I’m working on it.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Live Review: Queens of the Stone Age in Boston, 12.13.13

Posted in Reviews on December 16th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I’d never seen Queens of the Stone Age before. Had plenty of chances to, for sure, but I was always worried that going to a show would make me like the band less. It wasn’t until earlier this year when I sat, transfixed, and watched the online broadcast of the band playing the entirety of 2013’s …Like Clockwork (review here) as well as other selections from their catalog that I finally said to myself, “Well maybe now’s the time.” The band around guitarist/vocalist Josh Homme — guitarist/backing vocalist Troy Van Leeuwen (who seems to set a standard of wardrobe for the others to match), guitarist/keyboardist Dean Fertita, bassist Michael Shuman and drummer Jon Theodore — sounded so tight and the …Like Clockwork material was so dead-on to how it came across on the album, I decided that at the risk of coming out of it less of a fan of the band than I went in and generally not liking arena shows either as a concept or reality, it was worth showing up.

That was back in May. This past cold Friday night at Boston University’s Agganis Arena found Queens of the Stone Age no less righteous in their execution, most especially of the newer songs, but also in general. They put on a crisp, professional-grade show. Opening act The Kills were chic enough that I felt like a hick looking at a magazine ad for a product I couldn’t afford and that almost certainly wouldn’t fit anyway, but another example of the malleable nature of a Stooges influence if nothing else, though vocalist Alison Mosshart‘s strut was pure Jagger more than Iggy Pop, so take that for what it’s worth in my assessment of influence. There were four percussionists behind them — so far away on a big arena stage — but a drum machine going as well, which I didn’t understand, but whatever. I’m not sure they were doing anything rhythmically that a single drummer or two wouldn’t have been able to handle, but the contrast of spectacle with minimalism seemed to be part of the fun. Fair enough.

Not my thing as much as I have one, but neither am I inclined to call a dogwhistle broken just because I can’t hear it. To The Kills‘ credit, they managed to bring an intimate vibe — albeit one highly stylized — to a venue that boasts of holding 7,200 people. In that sense, they served well to warm up the crowd for Queens of the Stone Age, who arrived on stage following a 60-second countdown and launched their set with a firm one-two-three punch in “You Think I ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire” and “No One Knows” from 2002’s Songs for the Deaf and plunging into the upbeat first single from …Like Clockwork, “My God is the Sun,” arguably the most “desert rock” moment on the latest album and a decent fit alongside the older material for its forward rush and sand-dune thematic. Not surprisingly, “No One Knows,” which was arguably the mega-single that broke the band commercially, garnered a huge response.

As one would have to expect with its relevance and commercial success, …Like Clockwork featured heavily in the set, with eight of the total 10 tracks being aired — only “I Appear Missing” and opener “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” were shelved, much to my dismay in the case of the former — and as it would have to, that came at the expense of other songs. Can’t do “Mexicola” if you’re doing “If I Had a Tail.” No room for “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” if you want to push “Smooth Sailing.” Fine. As huge as the record was, I couldn’t really begrudge the Elvis-wiggling Homme and the rest of the band wanting to play new songs. If I wanted to see “Mexicola,” maybe I should’ve showed up a decade ago when I was hemming and hawing about it — or, you know, two years ago when they toured playing that whole album in honor of the reissue. And both “Monsters in the Parasol” and “Better Living through Chemistry” from 2000’s sophomore outing, Rated R, were included, so there was a nod to the beginnings of the band there.

“Better Living through Chemistry” was especially potent in its druggy and meandering way, snapped back to reality at the end as an early example of the scope of Homme‘s songwriting. At the show, it followed after “Fairweather Friends,” a highlight cut from  …Like Clockwork‘s B-side not the least because of Sir Elton John‘s guest appearance, which in turn was positioned after “Make it wit Chu” and “Sick, Sick, Sick” from 2007’s Era Vulgaris. Kind of a strange sequence there, but I wouldn’t argue if you told me that was the whole point. Though it was more subdued, the progression of “…Like Clockwork” into Lullabies to Paralyze (2005) brooder “I Never Came” made sense as it started to pick up into “If I Had a Tail,” but “Kalopsia” might’ve been the high point of the whole night. The band more or less sounds like it was constructed in order to be able to pull off that track. I know that’s not the case — Van Leeuwen and Shuman have been on board for years, even if Fertita and Theodore are relatively new — but that’s how it sounded. And of course they nailed it, even down to the dreamy midsection peppered with lighthearted delivery of the song’s title. All systems functional.

When they kicked into “Go with the Flow” to put the cap on the pre-encore portion of the set, the charge was so fast that I didn’t even recognize it at the first line. That could’ve been an effect of where I was sitting, but I managed to catch up before the verse kicked in. That would wind up being the final highlight, as the encore of “The Vampyre of Time and Memory,” an extended “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” and “A Song for the Dead” seemed uneven. Maybe it was the immediate jump from Homme sitting at a piano asking, “Does anyone ever get this right?” to namedropping drugs that didn’t quite work, but Queens of the Stone Age seemed to be working off two different impulses — one a mature arena rock professional delivery, cold if ably done — and the other a more chaotic and dangerous entity, stumbling around stage and assaulting with feedback, drawling out a chorus of “Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol.” I felt like I was at Sesame Street trying to puzzle through “one of these is not like the other.”

Of course, when “A Song for the Dead” kicked in, it didn’t matter. Standing on top a short stack of amplifiers, Homme was every bit stewing in the wash of noise the band created, and the rush was irresistible; despite the size of the room, the space on the stage, the “no bags” rule at the Agganis Arena and anything else, there was an element of danger that had reared its head a couple times throughout. Then the show was over and it was time to go sit in the underground parking lot for half an hour waiting to make my way back to Comm Ave. I was still home before midnight, and no less a fan of the band than when I’d left.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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