The Well Return to Europe & UK in January

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

The only question with The Well is whether they’re more undervalued or taken for granted. “Oh, The Well are popping back over to Europe to tour again? Ho-hum.” Yes, the Austin, Texas, trio are pretty well traveled, no less so to support this year’s righteous Death and Consolation (review here), but just because they’re out there now doesn’t mean they always will be. And hey, I get it, life gets in the way sometimes and you can’t make it to every show. It’s like the story of my existence right now. But if you can’t at least show respect for a band who put in the kind of work that results in a list of impending tour dates like the below — with just nine days between finishing one run in Salzburg, Austria, and starting the next in El Paso, Texas, then what the hell are you pretending to care about anything for? If that doesn’t matter to you, what does?

Songs and performance, you say? Style and substance, you say? Well fucking The Well have that too. Record and their latest video are at the bottom of the post. Take some time and really listen. Shit is awesome. How people aren’t all over The Well‘s collective junk, I just don’t know.

That’s my piece. I’ve said it.

To the PR wire:

the well

The Well announce winter tour dates in North America, EU and UK supporting new album Death and Consolation

Austin trio The Well announce yet another round of North American, EU and UK tour dates in support of their critically acclaimed new album Death and Consolation (RidingEasy Records.) The band has spent much of the year on tour, and now continue the trek into 2020, sharing some US dates with label mates Zig-Zags and R.I.P. These will be The Well’s first ever tour in the UK, having only played London’s DesertFest in 2019, and fans’ first opportunity to see the band performing songs from the new album. Please see all dates below.

Death and Consolation is available on LP, CD and download as of April 26th, 2019 via RidingEasy Records. Orders are available HERE.

THE WELL TOUR 2020:
01/22 – Milan, IT @ Ligera
01/23 – Bologna, IT @ Freakout
01/24 – Turin, IT @ Ziggy
01/26 – Lille, FR @ La Bulle Cafe
01/27 – Tours, FR @ Le Canadian Cafe
01/28 – Nantes, FR @ La Scene Michelet
01/29 – Bordeaux, FR @ Les Voutes
01/30 – Dijon, FR @ Peniche Cancale
01/31 – Rennes, FR @ Le Melies
02/01 – Paris, FR @ Espace B
02/03 – Brighton, UK @ Hope & Ruin
02/04 – Milton Keyes, UK @ The Craufurd Arms
02/05 – Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
02/07 – London, UK @ Black Heart
02/08 – Bree, BE @ Ragnarok
02/09 – Berlin, DE @ Zukunft am Ostkreuz
02/10 – Salzburg, AT @ Rockhouse

02/19 – El Paso, TX @ Monarch
02/20 – Phoenix, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
02/21 – San Diego, CA @ Til Two Club *
02/22 – Oceanside, CA @ The Pourhouse *
02/23 – Los Angeles, CA @ Permanent Records Roadhouse *
02/25 – San Francisco, CA @ The Knockout
02/26 – Nevada City, CA @ The Brick
02/27 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark +
02/28 – Seattle, WA @ Substation +
02/29 – Vancouver, BC @ TBA +
03/02 – Kalispell, MT @ Old School Records
03/03 – Missoula, MT @ TBA
03/04 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
03/05 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
03/06 – Denver, CO @ Streets of London
03/07 – Albuquerque, NM @ The Launchpad
* w/ Zig-Zags
+ w/ R.I.P.

http://www.facebook.com/thewellband
https://www.instagram.com/thewellband/
http://thewellaustin.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ridingeasyrecords/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/
https://www.instagram.com/easyriderrecord/

The Well, “Raven” official video

The Well, Death and Consolation (2019)

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The Goners Premiere “World of Decay” from Debut LP Good Mourning

Posted in audiObelisk on December 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the goners

What do we know about The Goners? Well, what do we really know about anything? In an age of malleable truths, alternative facts and flat earths, suddenly not being 100 percent on the origins of a band seems only too appropriate, but in some measure — I believe at least in the case of Nate GoneThe Goners are born out of Swedish alt rockers Yvonne and the apparent demise of the riffly Salem’s Pot, and in relation to the semi-costumed witchy ’70s horror/sexploitation doom of that outfit, they present a marked turn of aesthetic. Not just in the lack of fancy dress — though while we’re generalizing, aren’t we all just wearing costumes all the time? are we all not impostors of ourselves? — but in terms of sound as well, The Goners cast off Salem’s Pot‘s lumbering riffage in favor of a rawer approach on their debut release, Good Mourning, out in March on RidingEasy Records.

Think ’60s more than ’70s, garage and surf more than doom, and reverb more than fuzz and you’re probably on your way to wherever it is The Goners are headed — the answer, seemingly, is to “gone.” Good Mourning comprisesthe goners good mourning 10 tracks, the last of which is the Dead Moon cover “Dead in the Saddle,” and though there’s a bit of residual Electric Wizardry in “Evil (Is Not Enough),” but “Good Ol’ Death” offers immediate counterargument, reminding of some of Kadavar‘s more recent wistful Western meanderings, and the bulk of Good Mourning in general is on a more stripped trip, with opener “Are You Gone Yet?” asking the essential question like some lost Death Alley demo reminding of a day when every single from an album was released as a 45RPM and played with a never-changed needle that seemed to be digging its own grooves because it was.

Cuts like the slower second inclusion “High, Low and in Between” and the subsequent Thin Lizzy swaggerer “World of Decay,” seem to find even footing in establishing some diversity of approach, but later on, The Goners seem to take extra delight in the brash two-minute squibbly-laced distortion blast that is “The Sickening,” and the subsequent “Down and Out” echoes out some maybe-horns at the start of its second half, just to throw a wrench into the gears of expectation. So it goes, goes, gone. “You Better Run” is noteworthy for its proto-riffly nod backing synth weirdness — too earthy to be space, but delightfully weird — and the last of the originals, “The Little Blue,” feels like a side B’er with a bit of flash in the guitar betraying Good Mourning‘s modern origins without necessarily contradicting the proceedings as a whole. And a reverby, handclap-inclusive Dead Moon cover on top of all that? Yeah, go ahead and count me in on the fun.

Good Mourning by The Goners is out in March through RidingEasy. It’s a standout on the record in terms of style, but “World of Decay” is a damn good time, and you can stream the premiere on the player below.

Have at it and enjoy:

Rock bottom. A place you have to throw yourself over the edge and burn all your bridges to reach. A place where the devil is laughing as a constant reminder of everything that went to shit. A place where you owe.

As the echoes of the past get louder and the forget-me-now’s no longer work, you have to pick up the remaining pieces and try to make them fit. You can only wake up in an unknown bed with aching intestines and a throbbing noise inside your skull, still craving more, so many times until you realize that your life didn’t quite turn out to be what you expected it to be. The killing floor is crowded and when the smoke starts to clear you start to notice just how bad you’ve been letting yourself go. It’s Monday. You are on your own now.

And even as you start to do the right, start paying your dues and bills, doing the 9 to 5 and saying your sorries, you’re still standing there like a sack of dead meat in a stinkin’ world of decay where nobody cares. Gone but still aware. Ain’t that something! Ain’t that grand!

There’s no remedy, no working cure but at least you got loud guitars, thumping bass and bashing cymbals to ease the pain. And as you stumble into your thirties, scorched earth policy-style, you can at least smile at the fact that you finished first. At last you succeeded in something. Now you can just lay back, back where the sun doesn’t shine and ask everybody else ”aren’t YOU gone yet?”.

Don’t worry, you soon will see that Gone is just a four-letter word. We’re all heading south and again, no one really gives a fuck.

It’s Sunday. Join us.

Tracklisting:
01. Are You Gone Yet?
02. High, Low and Never In Between
03. World of Decay
04. Evil (Is Not Enough)
05. Good Ol’ Death
06. The Sickening
07.. Down & Out
08. You Better Run
09. The Little Blue
10. Dead In The Saddle (Dead Moon)

The Goners are:
Mick Dagger
Nate Gone
Vic Odin
Timo Tinto
Grave Dave

The Goners on Thee Facebooks

The Goners on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

RidingEasy Records on Instagram

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

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The Well Post “Raven” Video; Touring to Levitation Festival

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the well (photo by Cecilia Alejandra Blair)

We’re getting into November this week, which as far as I’m concerned means two things. 1: The holidays are coming, and man, fuck the holidays. 2: It’s getting to be year-end list time. For your consideration, Austin dark heavy psych three-piece The Well humbly submit the clarity of a 4K ultra-high-def video for the track “Raven” from their 2019 album, Death and Consolation (review here). Released this past April in a continuing alliance with RidingEasy Records as the band’s third full-length, it was yet another argument for them as an underrated outfit, the dual vocals of guitarist Ian Graham and bassist Lisa Alley — the three-piece completed by drummer Jason Sullivan — growing as an ever-more-prevalent standout factor of their approach. They’ve done no shortage of road time since their 2014 debut, Samsara (review here), and are currently touring the Eastern Seaboard with a stop in Puerto Rico before heading home to play Levitation Fest early next month. In the New Year, it’ll be the UK & EU — whatever configuration they might be in at that point; the nation-states, not the band — followed by the West Coast in February and March, so yes, they’re keeping plenty busy.

But as we get down to the nitty-gritty end-of-year business around these parts, The Well are a band who clearly deserve some manner of recognition, and if you want to hear/see why, they’re basically presenting their case in the clearest manner available in the “Raven” video. If you can watch the clip in 4K, you should, because it looks cool and is almost too real in its smoothness, but however you check it out, it’s easily worth the four minutes of your time, with its stonerly riff engaging a classic heavy rock nodder mindset even as their vaguely cultish leanings come through in the vocal melody. It’s never been about reinventing the wheel with The Well, but their radness is pervasive and multifaceted, and their approach has grown with each offering they’ve made. Death and Consolation is the kind of record you can put on regardless of mood and get into it. No pretense, quality craft, deep mix to lose your head in, and a heavy groove to march you right to oblivion. The only thing it asks is you take a little time to dig it.

So dig it:

The Well, “Raven” official video

Austin trio The Well share a new video from their recently released album, Death and Consolation (RidingEasy Records). Watch & share the 4K UHD video for album track “Raven” which was directed, shot and edited by William Orendorff HERE.

The band has spent much of the year on tour, and continue the trek now into November. Early in the new year, The Well return to headline shows in the EU & UK, followed by West Coast dates with labelmates Zig-Zags in February 2020. Please see all dates below.

Death and Consolation is available on LP, CD and download as of April 26th, 2019 via RidingEasy Records. Orders are available HERE.

THE WELL TOUR 2019:
(remaining dates)
10/28 – Atlanta, GA – 529
10/29 – Gainesville, FL – Hardback Cafe
10/30 – St Petersburg, FL – The Bends
11/01 – Puerto Rico – Club 77
11/03 – Austin, TX @ COTA F1 Races
11/09 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival – RidingEasy stage

THE WELL TOUR 2020:
EU/UK – January/February (dates TBA)
02/19 – El Paso, TX
02/20 – Phoenix, AZ
02/22 – Oceanside, CA *
02/23 – Los Angeles, CA *
02/25 – San Francisco, CA *
02/26 – Arcata, CA *
02/27 – Portland, OR *
02/28 – Seattle, WA *
02/29 – Vancouver, BC *
03/02 – Kalispell, MT *
03/03 – Missoula, MT
03/04 – Boise, ID *
03/05 – Salt Lake City, UT *
03/06 – Denver, CO *
03/07 – Albuquerque, NM *
* w/ Zig-Zags

The Well, Death and Consolation (2019)

The Well on Thee Facebooks

The Well on Instagram

The Well on Bandcamp

The Well website

RidingEasy Records website

RidingEasy Records on Instagram

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

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Mondo Drag Announce West Coast Touring

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

mondo drag

Hey, remember back in August when Mondo Drag said they were working on their fourth album and the follow-up to 2016’s The Occultation of Light (review here)? Yeah, that was pretty sweet. I was into it. They were playing a show then too, and it seems that the return to live activity will continue throughout this Fall as they make their way inevitably toward a 2020 recording/hopeful release of that new record. Perhaps the tour will allow them to road-test some new songs? I don’t know how they’d want to do it, but they’re playing with Witch a couple times over the course of the next week-plus and that’s a winning combination, and then they’ll hit the road out to Texas before turning band west and north for stops in Portland, Bellingham — where they’ll play with RidingEasy labelmates Blackwater Holylight — and Seattle.

True, I wouldn’t mind seeing them again, but at least for now, I’m just happy they’re doing anything. Hell, maybe the record’s done and in the can and this is their way of celebrating. Or maybe it’s not written yet. Whatever the status, more Mondo Drag shows isn’t going to make life worse for anyone.

And that’s my hard-hitting analysis. Stay tuned for more crucial perspective.

From the PR wire:

mondo drag fall tour

Mondo Drag announce U.S. tour dates for October-November 2019

San Francisco’s heavy-Krautrock-psych band returns

Bay Area heavy-Krautrock-psych band Mondo Drag hit the road later this month for tour dates around the Western U.S. in October and November, including a performance at Levitation Fest in Austin. Please see all dates below.

The band will have more to announce regarding new music soon.

MONDO DRAG LIVE 2019:
10/13 San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel w/ Witch
10/16 Felton, CA @ Felton Music Hall w/ Witch
10/18 Sonoma, CA @ Sonoma Redwood Barn w/ Witch
11/01 Los Angeles, CA @ House of Machines
11/02 Oceanside, CA @ Moose Lodge
11/04 Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
11/06 Taos, NM @ Monolith Brewing
11/07 San Antonio, CA @ Hi-Tones
11/08 Austin, TX @ Volcom House – Levitation Party
11/09 Dallas, TX @ Armoury DE
11/10 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar
11/29 Portland, OR @ Kenton Club
11/30 Bellingham, WA @ The Shakedown w/ Blackwater Holylight
12/01 Seattle, WA @ Substation

Mondo Drag are:
John Gamino – Keyboards & Vocals
Nolan Girard – Guitar & Synthesizer
Jake Sheley – Guitar
Ventura Garcia – Drums
Conor Riley – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/mondodrag/
http://www.instagram.com/mondodrag
https://mondodrag.bandcamp.com/
https://www.mondodrag.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ridingeasyrecords/
https://www.instagram.com/easyriderrecord/

Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Total Fucking Destruction, Hippie Death Cult, The Cosmic Dead, Greenthumb, Elepharmers, Nothing is Real, Warish, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Those Furious Flames, Mantra Machine

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to find the jerk who decided that the week I fly to Norway was a good time for the Quarterly Review. That, obviously, was a tactical error on my part. Nonetheless, we press on with day four, which I post from Oslo on CET. Whatever time zone you may find yourself in this Thursday, I hope you have managed to find something so far in this onslaught of whatnot to sink your chompers into. That’s ultimately, why we’re here. Also because there are so many folders with albums in them on my desktop that I can’t stand it anymore. Happens about every three months.

But anyhoozle, we press on with Day Four of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, dutiful and diligent and a couple other words that start with ‘d.’ Mixed bag stylistically this time — trying to throw myself off a bit — so should be fun. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Total Fucking Destruction, #USA4TFD

Total Fucking Destruction USA4TFD

Who the hell am I to be writing about a band like Total Fucking Destruction? I don’t know. Who the hell am I to be writing about anything. Fuck you. As the Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth)-led Philly natives grind their way through 23 tracks in a 27-minute barrage of deceptively thoughtful sonic extremity, they efficiently chronicle the confusion, tumult and disaffection of our age both in their maddening energy and in the poetry — yeah, I said it — of their lyrics. To it, from “Is Your Love a Rainbow”: “Are you growing? Is everything okay? Are you growing in the garden of I don’t know?” Lines like this are hardly decipherable without a lyric sheet, of course, but still, they’re there for those ready to look beyond the surface assault of the material, though, frankly, that assault alone would be enough to carry the band — Hoak on drums/vocals, Dan O’Hare on guitar/vocals and Ryan Moll on bass/vocals — along their willfully destructive course. For their fourth LP in 20 years — most of that time given to splits and shorter releases, as one might expect — Total Fucking Destruction make their case for an end of the world that, frankly, can’t get here fast enough.

Total Fucking Destruction on Thee Facebooks

Give Praise Records website

 

Hippie Death Cult, 111

Hippie-Death-Cult-111

Issued first by the band digitally and on CD and then by Cursed Tongue Records on vinyl, 111 is the impressively toned debut full-length from Portland, Oregon’s Hippie Death Cult, who cull together heavy rock and post-grunge riffing with flourish of organ and a densely-weighted groove that serves as an overarching and uniting factor throughout. With the bluesy, classic feeling vocals of Ben Jackson cutting through the wall of fuzz from Eddie Brnabic‘s guitar and Laura Phillips‘ bass set to roll by Ryan Moore‘s drumming, there’s never any doubt as to where Hippie Death Cult are coming from throughout the seven-track/42-minute offering, but longer, side-ending pieces “Unborn” (8:24) and “Black Snake” (9:06) touch respectively on psychedelia and heavy blues in a way that emphasizes the subtle turns that have been happening all along, not just in shifts like the acoustic “Mrtyu,” but in the pastoral bridge and ensuing sweep of “Pigs” as well. “Sanctimonious” and “Breeder’s Curse” provide even ground at the outset, and from there, Hippie Death Cult only grow richer in sound along their way.

Hippie Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store

 

The Cosmic Dead, Scottish Space Race

The Cosmic Dead Scottish Space Race

Heavyweight Glaswegian space jammers The Cosmic Dead present four massive slabs of lysergic intensity with their eighth long-player, Scottish Space Race (on Riot Season Records), working quickly to pull the listener into their gravity well and holding them there for the 2LP’s 75-minute duration. As hypnotic as it is challenging, the initial churn that emerges in the aptly-named 20-minute opener “Portal” clenches the stomach brutally, and it’s not until after about 12 minutes that the band finally lets it loose. “Ursa Major,” somewhat thankfully, is more serene, but still carries a sense of movement and build in its second half, while the 12-minute title-track is noisier and has the surprising inclusion of vocals from the generally instrumental outfit. They cap with the 24-minute kosmiche throb of “The Grizzard,” and there are vocals there too, but they’re too obscured to be really discernible in any meaningful way, and of course the end of the record itself is a huge wash of fuckall noise. Eight records deep, The Cosmic Dead know what they’re doing in this regard, and they do it among the best of anyone out there.

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Greenthumb, There are More Things

greenthumb there are more things

With just three tracks across a 20-minute span, There are More Things (on Acid Cosmonaut) feels like not much more than a sampler of things to come from Italian post-sludgers Greenthumb, who take their name from a Bongzilla track they also covered on their 2018 debut EP, West. The three-songer feels like a decided step forward from that offering, and though they maintain their screamier side well enough, they might be on the verge of needing a new name, as the rawness conveyed by the current moniker hardly does justice to the echoing atmospherics the band in their current incarnation bring. Launching with the two seven-minute cuts “The Field” and “Ogigia’s Tree,” they unfurl a breadth of roll so as to ensnare the listener, and though “The Black Court” is shorter at 5:37 and a bit more straight-ahead in its structure, it still holds to the ambient sensibility of its surroundings well, the band obviously doing likewise in transposing a natural feel into their sound born of landscape real or imagined.

Greenthumb on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records on Bandcamp

 

Elepharmers, Lords of Galaxia

Elepharmers Lords Of Galaxia Artwork

Riffy Sardinians Elepharmers set themselves to roll with “Ancient Astronauts” and do not stop from there on Lords of Galaxia, their third LP and debut through Electric Valley Records. There are some details of arrangement between the guitars of El Chino (also bass, vocals and harmonica) and Andrea “Fox” Cadeddu and the drums of Maurizio Mura, but as Marduk heralds his age on second cut “Ziqqurat,” the central uniting factor is g-r-o-o-v-e, and Elepharmers have it down through “The Flood” and into side B’s classic stoner rocking “Foundation” and the driving “The Mule,” which shifts into laser-effects ahead of the fade that brings in closer “Stars Like Dust” for the last 10 minutes of the 47-minute offering. And yes, there’s some psychedelia there, but Elepharmers stay pretty clearheaded on the whole in such a way as to highlight the sci-fi theme that seems to draw the songs together as much as the riffage. More focus on narrative can only help bring that out more, but I’m not sure I’d want that at the expense of the basic songwriting, which isn’t at all broken and thus requires no fixing.

Elepharmers on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Nothing is Real, Only the Wicked are Pure

nothing is real only the wicked are pure

How do you recognize true misanthropy when you come across it? It doesn’t wear a special kind of facepaint, though it can. It doesn’t announce itself as such. It is a frame. Something genuinely antisocial and perhaps even hateful is a worldview. It’s not raise-a-claw-in-the-woods. It’s he-was-a-quiet-loner. And so, coming across the debut album from Los Angeles experimentalist doom outfit, one gets that lurking, creeping feeling of danger even though the music itself isn’t overly abrasive. But across the 2CD debut album, a sprawl of darkened, viciously un-produced fare that seems to be built around programmed drums at the behest of Craig Osbourne — who may or may not be the only person in the band and isn’t willing to say otherwise — plays out over the course of more than two hours like a manifesto found after the fact. Imagine chapters called “Hope is Weakness,” “Fingered by the Hand of God,” and “Uplift the Worthy (Destroy the Weak).” The last of those appears on both discs — as do several of the songs in different incarnations — as the track marries acoustic and eventual harder-edged guitar around murderous themes, sounding something like Godflesh might have if they’d pursued a darker path. Scary.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Warish, Down in Flames

warish down in flames

The fact that Warish are blasting hard punk through heavy blowout tones isn’t what everyone wants to talk about when it comes to the band. They want to talk about the fact that it’s Riley Hawk — of royal stock, as regards pro skateboarding — fronting the band. Well, that’s probably good for a built-in social media following — name recognition never hurts, and I don’t see a need to pretend otherwise — but it doesn’t do shit for the album itself. What matters about the album is that bit about the blasting blowout. With Down in Flames (on RidingEasy), the Oceanside three-piece follow-up their earlier-2019 debut EP with 11 tracks that touch on horror punk with “Bones” and imagine grunge-unhinged with “Fight” and “You’ll Abide,” but are essentially a display of tonal fuckall presented not to add to a brand, but to add the soundtrack to somebody’s blackout. It’s a good time and the drunkest, gnarliest, most-possibly-shirtless dude in the room is having it. Also he probably smells. And he just hugged you. Down in Flames gets high with that dude. That matters more than who anyone’s dad is.

Warish on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Split

It’s a double-dose of New England doom as Connecticut’s Mourn the Light and Boston’s Oxblood Forge pair up for a split release. The former bring more material than the latter, particularly when one counts the digital-only bonus cover of Candlemass‘ “Bewitched,” but with both groups, it’s a case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Both groups share a clear affinity for classic metal — and yes, that absolutely extends to the piano-led drama of Mourn the Light‘s mournful “Carry the Flame” — but Oxblood Forge‘s take thereupon is rougher edged, harder in its tone and meaner in the output. Their “Screams From Silence” feels like something from a dubbed-and-mailed tape circa ’92. Mourn the Light’s “Drags Me Down” is cleaner-sounding, but no less weighted. I don’t think either band is out to change the world, or even to change doom, but they’re doing what they’re doing well and without even an ounce of pretense — well, maybe a little bit in that piano track; but it’s very metal pretense — and clearly from the heart. That might be the most classic-metal aspect of all.


Mourn the Light on Thee Facebooks

Oxblood Forge on Thee Facebooks

 

Those Furious Flames, HeartH

those furious flames hearth

Swiss heavy rockers Those Furious Flames push the boundaries of psychedelia, but ultimately remain coherent in their approach. Likewise, they very, very obviously are into some classic heavy rock and roll, but their take on it is nothing if not modern. And more, they thrive in these contradictions and don’t at all sound like their songs are in conflict with themselves. I guess that’s the kind of thing one can pull off after 15 years together on a fifth full-length, which HeartH (on Vincebus Eruptum) is for them. Perhaps it’s the fact that they let the energy of pieces like “VooDoo” and the boogie-laced “HPPD” carry them rather than try to carry it, but either way, it’s clearly about the songs first, and it works. With added flash of organ amid the full-sounding riffs, Those Furious Flames round out with the spacey “Visions” and earn every bit of the drift therein with a still-resonant vocal harmony. You might not get it all the first time, but listening twice won’t be at all painful.

Those Furious Flames on Thee Facebooks

Vincebus Eruptum Recordings BigCartel store

 

Mantra Machine, Heliosphere

mantra machine heliosphere

This is what it’s all about. Four longer-form instrumentalist heavy psych jams that are warm in tone and want nothing so much as to go out wandering and see what they can find. Through “Hydrogen,” “Atmos,” “Delta-V” and “Heliosphere,” Amsterdam-based three-piece Mantra Machine want nothing for gig-style vitality, but their purpose isn’t so much to electrify as to find that perfect moment of chill and let it go, see where it ends up, and they get there to be sure. Warm guitar and bass tones call to mind something that might’ve come out of the Netherlands at the start of this decade, when bands like Sungrazer and The Machine were unfolding such fluidity as seemed to herald a new generation of heavy psychedelia across Europe. That generation took a different shape — several different shapes, in the end — but Mantra Machine‘s Heliosphere makes it easy to remember what was so exciting about that in the first place. Total immersion. Total sense of welcoming. Totally human presence without speaking a word. So much vibe. So much right on.

Mantra Machine on Thee Facebooks

Mantra Machine on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter: Moonlit Daylight

Posted in Reviews on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

blackwater holylight veils of winter

About a year and a half ago, Portland, Oregon’s Blackwater Holylight released their RidingEasy Records-delivered self-titled debut (review here), and thereby immediately brought new character to Pacific Coast psychedelia, something distinct from Caliboogie and Douglas-fir meditations, yet drawing from those and a host of other sonic micropockets for a drifting take on what might otherwise just simply be a classic garage style. On the band’s quick-turnaround follow-up, Veils of Winter (also RidingEasy), it isn’t “just” or “simply” anything in terms of aesthetic, as the five-piece of bassist/vocalist Allison “Sunny” Faris, guitarist/vocalist Laura Hopkins, synthesist Sarah McKenna, guitarist Mikayla Mayhew and drummer Eliese Dorsay ignite a swath of heavy pulsations and drifting progressions, showcasing a patience for craft on cuts like “Daylight” that leaves one scratching their head at how it’s only been a year(-plus) since the first record.

Their dynamic, range and confidence in vocal harmonies have all progressed to a marked degree, and even with the new personnel involved, Veils of Winter feels very much like a moment in which Blackwater Holylight are becoming the band Farris set out to be in when she started the project. That includes setting a broader scope between the lumbering buzz of opener “Seeping Secrets” and the almost-surf bounce of the subsequent “Motorcycle,” which in its back half manages to offer some of Veils of Winter‘s heaviest bass, feeling all the more weighted for the ethereal line of synth floating overtop.

That’s to say nothing of the later soundscaping triumph of the penultimate “Lullaby” — okay, so maybe there’s some Cascadian forest worship happening after all as the title-line of the album is delivered — but one way or the other, what’s happening across the eight-track/40-minute offering is that Blackwater Holylight are harnessing their influences and stepping out in front of them in righteous fashion, whether that’s the foreboding, nigh-on-doomly plod of “The Protector” or the brighter, folk-infused melodies of closer “Moonlit.” Through hypnotic rhythm and engaging harmonies, Veils of Winter establishes Blackwater Holylight among the more essential US-based heavy psych purveyors, both accomplished in the work they’ve done to-date across their two LPs and still rife with potential.

As a whole, Veils of Winter is nothing less than a clinic in molten heavy psychedelia. It has an overarching flow that, if you’re not careful, is consuming to the point of losing oneself in the drift. Whether it’s Farris‘ languid vocal delivery or the depth and warmth of the tones surrounding — or, most often, both — Blackwater Holylight unite their songs through this natural presentation such that even a relatively straightforward rocker like the three-and-a-half-minute “Spiders” on side A, with a quieter verse and a takeoff in the chorus and a Halloween-style spooky riff that I’ll call fun and mean it 100 percent as a compliment, has a sense of presence both within itself and in the context of the surrounding material. Seemingly set up with vinyl in mind, Veils of Winter ends its initial salvo with “Spiders” following the yes-yes-yes rumble at the outset of “Seeping Secrets” and the likewise fluid groove of “Motorcycle,” both of which prove deceptively heavy for having so much of a sleepy mood.

blackwater holylight

The same could be said of what follows, but the direction taken shifts some with “The Protector,” and that serves as a transition to side B’s generally longer-form, more open-feeling pieces. The ending of “The Protector” is especially crucial, as the song seems to come apart even as it’s in the midst of riding out its last nod, leaving a stretch of silence — the vinyl flip if you’re listening to the 12″ — before the standalone guitar of “Daylight” takes hold. That moment of silence helps to convey the sense of going from one place to another, which, within the sphere of the album’s entirety, is essentially what has happened between the two tracks. “Daylight” is slower to take hold, more patient in its build, but resoundingly tense in its prominent keys and darker tonal undercurrent; affecting the sound of a gathering storm while remaining minimally theatrical in terms of the outward delivery. This as well is no minor feat.

More over, it is the lead-in to side B’s purposefully broader range. Think of it this way: side A has one song over five minutes long (“The Protector”), side B has one song under. And that track is “Death Realms,” at 4:43, which follows “Daylight” and answers its consuming morass with a revived sense of movement that nonetheless remains ethereal in its later wash of keys and guitar and a melody and vocal patterning that seems to swap out grunge for dark new wave in effective fashion as Blackwater Holylight toy with the new conventions of genre. What follows in “Lullaby” and “Moonlit” is simply some of the most beautiful psychedelic rock I’ve heard in 2019, encompassing in sprawl but still intimate feeling thanks to moments like the standout guitar line right after the vocal line at 3:33 into “Lullaby” or the sweet and winding keyboard line harnessing classic acid-folk past the halfway point in “Moonlit,” just when that song seems to be moving into the build that finds payoff in a forward guitar solo to come at about the 5:30 mark and the return to the central riff with added crash that caps off.

Veils of Winter, even in its most relatively earthbound moments on side A — and that’s some serious relativity there — is full of these nuances and details, flourishes of arrangement that are more than simple indulgences for what they do in serving and enriching the lush front-to-back listening experience. Blackwater Holylight made it clear with their first record that they were bringing to life a specific aesthetic idea, and Veils of Winter answers that with a more complex manifestation that feels even closer to an initial vision hinted at by its predecessor. At the same time, it is unquestionably a forward step in terms of songwriting and performance, and shows the dynamic the five-piece have been able to harness on tour over the last year. Given the work they’ve done here, it feels greedy to hope they keep pushing themselves in this direction, but I do anyway. It’s hard not to with a band making records this exciting.

Tune in, switch on. Recommended.

Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter (2019)

Blackwater Holylight on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Holylight on Instagram

Blackwater Holylight on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

RidingEasy Records on Thee Facebooks

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Psycho Smokeout 2.0 Set for April 18; Weedeater, Acid King & More Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hey Psycho Smokeout 2.0 — sick fuggin’ lineup. With one headliner still TBA next month Psycho Entertainment and RidingEasy Records pair up to present the likes of Weedeater, Acid King, The Obsessed, Cough, Mondo Drag, Heavy Temple, The Well, Holy Grove, Salem’s Bend, and on and on, all on one day — April 18, 2020. Considering there are 19 acts confirmed, let’s assume there will be multiple stages going. I don’t know what that’ll do to the schedule — certainly possible to alternate — but however it happens, it’s a badass assemblage and there’s more to come. Tickets are on sale now, because seriously, why the hell wait?

So yes. Why wait?

From the PR wire:

psycho smokeout 2.0

PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 To Take Place April 18th, 2020; Lineup Includes Weedeater, The Obsessed, Acid King, Cough, And More + Early Bird Tickets On Sale Now!

Behold! PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 will make its annual descent upon Los Angeles’ multi-level Catch One Riff Compound April 18th, 2020!

Brought to you by Psycho Entertainment and RidingEasy Records, this year’s day-long puffathon features performances from nearly two-dozen artists including North Caroline stoner metal goliaths Weedeater, Maryland doom icons The Obsessed, California stoner rock veterans Acid King, and Virginia sludge bringers Cough, with the final headliner to be unveiled later this fall. Spread across three stages, the glassy-eyed gala will include a massive vendor market and more surprises to be announced in the weeks to come.

Early bird tickets for PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 go on sale Thursday September 19th. The limited early bird tickets are a cool $39 plus fees and are expected to sellout within 48 hours of being announced. The next tier will be $49 plus fees. The final tier will be $59 plus fees. Don’t sleep on this!

Nab your tickets today at THIS LOCATION.

PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 is a 420 friendly, 18 and over event.

Psycho Entertainment & RidingEasy Records Presents:
PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0
April 18th, 2020
Catch One Riff Compound
Los Angeles, California

Lineup (in alphabetical order):
Acid King
Casket Raider
Cough
Deathchant
Great Electric Quest
Heavy Temple
Holy Grove
India Tigers In Texas
Leather Lung
Mondo Drag
Mother Iron Horse
Mountain Tamer
Pale Mare
Salem’s Bend
The Munsens
The Obsessed
The Well
Vaelmyst
Weedeater

http://www.vivapsycho.com/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com

Holy Grove, II (2018)

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