Orodruin Post Ruins of Eternity Cover Art; Set Feb. 2019 Release Date

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Hey, crazier things have happened, but to call a proper sophomore full-length from Rochester, New York, doom loyalists Orodruin long-awaited is underselling it. The former four-piece/now-trio will be past the 20-year mark when and if in fact their second album, Ruins of Eternity arrives in Feb. 2019, as guitarist John Gallo (also Blizaro, solo work, etc.) has newly reconfirmed. Their last EP, In Doom was issued in 2012 — one remembers getting a copy at Days of the Doomed II (review here) in Wisconsin that year — but their lone long-player to-date is 2003’s Epicurean Mass (discussed here), and that was 15 years ago.

They’ve been a well-kept secret in doom ever since, in 2004 issuing the collection Claw Tower …And Other Tales of Terror and sporadic other outings along the way but mostly playing periodic shows with other bands coming through or hitting fests like the aforementioned Days of the Doomed. Even that was some years ago at this point though, and I have to wonder what a new Orodruin might sound like 15-16 years after Epicurean Mass, just how much of the Paul Chain/Goblin influence from Gallo‘s solo work will have made its way into the proceedings, if any. And just the basic construction of it. More than a decade and a half later, if Ruins of Eternity is an hour long, you’d have to say that’s justified.

Well, we might find out in February. I wouldn’t mind. Shadow Kingdom Records, which is home also to Pale Divine and Iron Void among other choice trad doomers, has reportedly signed on to do the release, and fair enough. The band actually posted the cover a while back and said the record would be out in February, but I happened to catch Gallo putting it out again with the mini-update on the status you see below, so it’s good to keep track of where they’re at. Here’s the art and the quick word:

orodruin ruins of eternity new cover

“It is planned to be released February of 2019. Wrapping up vocals then mixing.”

Orodruin is:
Nick Tydelski : Guitar
Michael Puleo : Bass, Vocals, Drums
John Gallo : Other Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/orodruinofficialband/
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords
https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/

Orodruin, Epicurean Mass (2003)

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Feature: King Buffalo Interview… Me…?

Posted in Features on October 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo

Before we get to anything else, I want to say this: I am really, really, really uncomfortable with this whole idea.

I mean it. I’ve been kicking myself in the ass since it was brought up. King Buffalo are about to putout their second full-length, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), on Oct. 12, and the record’s just great. 2018 has produced a glut of fascinating, exciting and kickass albums, but especially when it comes to potential lasting appeal, I’ll put King Buffalo up against any of them, including Sleep. Big words, I know, but I’m serious. At this point, I’ve been doing this long enough to know when a release is going to stick.

So it’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t get to do a track premiere for Longing to Be the Mountain or the album stream, which I assume will be on some cooler site with a wider reach next week. Okay. That happens to me all the time, and the truth is, King Buffalo neither owe me anything nor are exactly an unknown quantity around these parts. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you might recall their early-2018 EP Repeater had a track stream with the review, and I hosted the premiere of their debut LP, Orion, when that came out in 2016. I’ve also covered them in live reviews, their 2016 digital live release Live at Wicked Squid Studios (review here), their 2015 split LP with Lé Betre (review here) and their 2014 demo (review here), and it goes back further than that if I felt like searching out more links. But I think I’ve made the point. In terms of reaching an audience, King Buffalo have “done” The Obelisk. They’re a known quantity, and with a record like Longing to Be the Mountain, which has the potential to catch ears not already familiar with the band, it deserves as much of a chance as possible to do that.

This interview, where drummer Scott Donaldson asks me questions and I answer instead of how it should be, which is the other way around, was not my idea. It wasn’t. Please know that. It was pitched to me and I was hemming and hawing on it until I spoke to my wonderful and brilliant wife, The Patient Mrs., and she told me in her sweet, diplomatic way to get over myself and do it. I did the latter, obviously not the former, and I still feel a little bit like my fragile writerly ego is being placated for the stream I didn’t get to do. I don’t deserve to be interviewed — least of all on this site! Jesus. It feels so self-indulgent. I’ve had a couple rare occasions where I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone want to talk to me about what I do, and that’s always massively appreciated, because absolutely, I’ll run my mouth (or at least my fingers on the keyboard) if you’ll let me. But to have to then post it myself? Oof.

That’s a bummer way to start a piece that’s actually pretty fun, with silly questions and silly answers and whatnot, but all I can do is be honest about where I’m coming from, and even after I did the interview and sent it back, the thought of putting it up on my own, here, has continued to feel weird and self-indulgent. They call me “important.” Cringe.

So I’ll throw The Patient Mrs. under the bus. It was her idea.

Thanks for reading. Here’s the Q&A, which I titled myself:

jj obelisk

Longing to Be Relevant: A Wrong-Sided Conversation with King Buffalo

So in an exciting twist, I (Scott from King Buffalo) have the privilege to interview one of the most important gentleman in the entire stoner, psych, and doom etc. community, Mr. Obelisk himself, JJ Koczan. If you don’t know JJ, then you’ve probably been listening to your Spice Girls cassette on repeat and should stop reading now. For everyone else, on to the interview……..

Besides “The Pecan,” what do you view as your greatest achievement?

The truest answer I can give you is my relationship with my wife. We’ve been together since I was 15 years old. It’ll be 21 years in about a week as I write this, and I’m so incredibly lucky to have her in my life. Through high school and college and into professional life, through grad school — which for her was about a decade-long process — and beyond, she’s this amazing, brilliant, beautiful person and she’s absolutely the core around which the rest of my existence revolves. To see her in a new way this past year as she’s become a mother to The Pecan has been even more astounding, but there was never a doubt in my mind she’d nail it, because that’s what she does. She’s kind and sincere, far more patient with me than I deserve, and she says things like, “I think you should go to Norway,” which is about as much as I could ever ask of a partner in life.

More to the point I think of what you’re asking, probably best of all as relates to The Obelisk is the fact that people tell me words I’ve written have mattered to them. Usually that’s in the form of, “Hey dude I found such and such band on your site thanks!” and I really dig that and feel incredibly fortunate for it, but every now and then someone actually says something about the writing itself and that means a lot to me because such a big part of that project is that the voice it all comes from is my voice. I’m writing like I speak. I interrupt myself all the time. I jump from thought to thought. I have run-on sentences. I think in repetitive lists, etc. When that touches somebody and they feel strongly enough about it to let me know, whether it’s an email or a note on social media or coming up to me at a show, that’s a pretty astounding feeling.

If you could go on tour with one band, during any time period, dead or alive, who would you choose?

I’ll give you two that could’ve actually happened. I had a chance to tour Australia and New Zealand with Kings Destroy and Radio Moscow a couple years ago and I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have the money. It’s someplace I’ve always dreamed of going and the KD guys are good friends and I’ve been on the road with them and Radio Moscow before, so it’s all a familiar group to be with, and I just couldn’t get the cash together for a flight. I’ve never made much money, and I have no savings or anything like that, so it just wasn’t an option. They got to meet the cats from Beastwars and to see Arc of Ascent — I’m a huge fan of Craig Williamson (also of Lamp of the Universe and Datura), so that would’ve been amazing — but it just didn’t happen. My understanding from the guys afterward was it was a pretty rough tour, but I still regret it. A lot. Just to go there, in that context.

A year or two later, there was a chance The Patient Mrs. was going to get a grant to go to Australia and do research — she’s a college professor — and it looked like a lock. I got in touch with the guys from Hotel Wrecking City Traders and they put together like this whole festival thing in Melbourne that I presented because I was going to be there and everything, and again, the trip fell through. I missed that show. It was put on because I was coming and I didn’t make it. Still stings.

When Lo-Pan played Roadburn a few years ago and they had Adrian Zambrano on guitar, there was some talk about me joining them on the road for a week or two in Europe after. I could hardly think of a more righteous opportunity, but again, money. That’s the reason I haven’t been to Desertfest in a half-decade, it’s the reason I missed SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal and Freak Valley in Germany this year, both of which I was invited to — see also: baby — but yeah. I don’t make any money from The Obelisk and it’s times like that where it really hits home.

What’s the worst band name you’ve ever heard?

Any of them that I’ve forgotten. There are a lot of generic stoner-band names out there, but I actually don’t mind that, because it’s part of a whole aesthetic. It’s like fuzz riffs, or kind of slower rolling grooves. It’s part of the thing. There are a couple shitty names out there — I got called a “whinny liberal” (sic) on Instagram once for saying Black Pussy was a shitty name. Since then, I’ve wanted to start a band called Whinny Liberal, but am restrained, as ever, by lack of both talent and time.

Marry, Fuck, Kill – Lemmy, David Bowie, Prince and why?

Fuck Prince. Obviously. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Plus he was like a Seventh Day Adventist or something, so he was probably a total freak in bed. Isn’t that how it always goes with fundamentalists? They don’t celebrate Xmas, but they’ll break out the sex-swing and make a holiday of any occasion?

Marry Bowie. If you’re getting married, you want stability, and Bowie and Iman stood the test of time.

Kill Lemmy. HOWEVER. After you kill him, you take his brain and put it in a cyborg Lemmy so he can live forever and still never quite reach the microphone on stage. Who keeps making those things so tall?

Who’s the most underrated singer / lyricist of all time?

Paul McCartney. He’s also the most overrated.

You’ve been tied to the railroad tracks by Boris Badenov, and there’s a train hurtling towards you. You’re surrounded by your music collection, and you’re able to break loose, but only have time to save 5 albums. What albums do you save?

I would certainly hope to be saved by Moose and Squirrel before the train hits, but if we’re talking my collection, I’d take mostly stuff that was gifts. I’ve got a signed Enslaved CD that was sent to me by Nuclear Blast because they weren’t getting a lot of press in the States at the time. That has sentimental value. I’ve got a bunch of Sabbath and Beatles bootlegs and a couple Type O Negative bootlegs that I bought decades ago that I’d save. I’d save the copy of Saint Vitus’ Lillie: F-65 that Season of Mist used my quote on the front-sticker for, I’d save whatever of the Man’s Ruin Records stuff I could grab, and I’d save the original copy of Alice in Chains’ Dirt I swiped from my older sister when I was like 10. I don’t know if that’s five or 50, but it’s some of the stuff I have that has value to me beyond whatever cash I may have paid for it.

Why do people say “cheese” before being photographed?

Traditionally I think because to say “cheese” stretches out the sides of the mouth and provides a natural smile. It’s not true, though. In my experience — and this may just be my own bitchy resting face — saying cheese draws the sides of the mouth downward, so you’re not smiling for the camera, you’re just looking like you’re having your face pulled. But who the hell smiles for a camera anyway when you can make a weird face or just be metal and scowl. That’s probably my preference.

A monkey is shot into space and comes back to earth with all the knowledge of the cosmos. He will only talk to you, and will allow you to ask one question. What is it?

Why bother? Fuck that selfish monkey. He should probably get a press conference together and start unraveling the mysteries of the universe to everyone instead of one question to my ass. You know what my one question would be? “Why are you such a prick that you’re unwilling to share this vast knowledge you’ve acquired?” Monkey should be too busy in a lab somewhere curing cancer and on the fucking senate floor saving democracy from imperial populism to answer my shitty question in the first place. “Hey monkey, how ‘bout those riffs, huh?”

A lot of websites, blogs, magazines and livejournals have come and gone since The Obelisk’s inception. What drives you to be able to continue on this journey?

Compulsion. I need it so much more than anyone else needs it that it’s laughable. I started The Obelisk after the magazine I worked for went under and I wanted to keep my contacts and I still had a stack of stuff to review and nowhere to put it. So my buddy Slevin put together a WordPress for me and I stumbled through learning how to use it. Since then, it’s consumed such a major portion of my identity that I don’t know what I’d do without it. I’m “JJ from The Obelisk” for so much of my day. At this point, it’s what I schedule my life around. I wake up at two or three in the morning to write before the baby gets up so I can get work in before I have to go be daddy, and if I don’t, I’m out of my mind the entire day. I have a very, very compulsive personality. It makes me a complete asshole in many situations, but it means that when I do something like this, I do it all the way. I’m dedicated to developing a critical aesthetic and all that, and I believe strongly in the music and whatever role I play in talking about it as I do, but the simple truth is I need it. It’s been long enough and it’s a big enough part of my life that I can’t really be who I am without it.

If you could form a supergroup out of any musicians from the past and present, who would you pick?

Nah, you never really know how a supergroup is going to work out, and I feel like if you pick a band with “stars” from other bands, often it’s ego-driven and kind of falls flat. I’ll just take my Shrinebuilder record and the Munchen Sessions from when Los Natas jammed with Stefan Koglek from Colour Haze and be happy with that.

Crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

Fun fact about me: I love peanut butter. You nailed this question. Peanut butter anything — I’m in. It’s the fastest way to my heart. These days I grind my own from dry roasted, unsalted peanuts — because I want to taste peanuts, not salt — and I usually stop the food processor before it’s all the way smoothed out. It’s not “crunchy” like in the Jif or Skippy sense, where there’s like half a nut just mysteriously inserted into otherwise smooth peanut butter, but if I can get it to where it’s got a bit of texture and still get the good oils out from the peanuts and bring out that flavor, I’m happy. I also recently started grinding almond butter as an alternative. Different process, takes longer, but also yields satisfying results.

You’re the smartest man alive, you’ve just built a machine that can travel through time and teleport you to any destination. Where do you go, and why?

I’d travel to a dimension outside of conventional hours and give myself more time to write

Then I’d go back to when I was like 15 and tell myself to go see Kyuss and White Zombie on tour together. And Sleep whenever.

Lastly, if you had to describe how awesome King Buffalo is in one word, what word would you choose?

As regards your new album, “breakthrough” is the single word that most comes to mind, but I think generally the forward step you’ve taken has been to make your sound more your own while also developing your songwriting, upping the level of presentation via production, and generally showcasing the lessons you’ve learned both from Orion and from the touring you’ve done since that record came out. These are some of the things I think can be most admirable from a band going from one LP to a follow-up. I knew you guys were onto something the first time I heard the demo, but Longing to Be the Mountain is a special album. You should be proud of it.

In all seriousness though, thank you so much for all you do JJ. Most outlets overlook upcoming bands. It’s because of your ears and fingers that I’ve been turned on to a lot of great music. I look forward to seeing who you find next. –Scott (The guy that hits stuff in KB)

In all seriousness, Scott, this feels weird and I’m not entirely comfortable talking about myself in this way on this site. It feels like a total ego trip and I’m not into it. But I’m doing it because it’s you, and because it’s King Buffalo and because when I told The Patient Mrs. about it and said I probably wasn’t going to do it, she said I should.

Alright, the baby’s waking up. I gotta go. Thanks for taking the time.

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

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King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain: Storm with Eyes

Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo longing to be the mountain

From the echoing sounds of birds that begin ‘Morning Song’ to the final drifting guitar lines of ‘Eye of the Storm,’ King Buffalo‘s Longing to be the Mountain is nothing less than a band taking their approach to a new level. The Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson teased this progression earlier this year with the Repeater EP (review here) and its sprawling title-track, but even that 13-minute opus didn’t quite give away the full reach of the second long-player to come. Now some five years removed from their 2013 demo (review here) and having also released a split with the defunct Lé Betre (review here) in 2015, the three-piece follow-up 2016’s Orion (review here), which was the best debut released that year, by taking a progressive step forward in songwriting and performance.

Longing to be the Mountain benefits from the time King Buffalo spent on tour not only in consideration of these factors, but in its very makeup — it was recorded with All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod producing (Grant Husselman engineered, McVay mixed, Bernie Matthews mastered), with whom King Buffalo have toured more than once, and its cover art is by Adrian Dexter, who is also known for his work with Elder, with whom King Buffalo are Euro-labelmates on Stickman Records as well as former tourmates. Even before one hits play and McVay‘s bluesy guitar sleeks its way into “Morning Song,” the value of experience shows itself, and in the graceful patience of the 10-minute opener, with McLeod‘s acoustic and McVay‘s electric layers intertwining, there’s a sense of serenity at the beginning of the six-song/42-minute journey that seems to last much longer in the best way possible, even as Reynolds adds further heft to the melody and Donaldson‘s bouncing hi-hat assures there’s a sense of motion to underscore all the methodical heavy psychedelia surrounding. It is a dynamic the first album more than teased, but which King Buffalo now deliver with earned confidence, and along with the memorable craft they show throughout the shorter, post-opening salvo of “Sun Shivers,” “Cosmonaut” and “Quickening,” and the breadth in the final pair of the title-track and the aforementioned “Eye of the Storm,” both of which also top 10 minutes in length, that chemistry between the three of them helps to make Longing to be the Mountain one of the best albums of 2018.

Each of the three longer-form cuts — that is, “Morning Song,” “Longing to be the Mountain” and “Eye of the Storm” — makes its way to a rousing payoff, but there are distinctions nonetheless in the personalities among them. “Morning Song” makes the turn somewhat drastically, with the guitars and drums dropping out to let Reynolds present the nodding groove on his own before the full band returns to surge forward. The title-track moves from its synth beginnings through a build of proggy noodling into a sort of pre-apex midsection before receding and pushing forth again in its eighth minute, while “Eye of the Storm” begins with immediate motion thanks to Donaldson‘s drumming and maintains that active feel through crunchier riffing in the first half that carries through a heavier jam into a final build and then the payoff that pulls back to let the album quietly make its way out led by the gotta-hear-it bassline. These subtle differences in structure belie the superficiality of Longing to be the Mountain having two modes of working — i.e. longer and shorter songs — and make it plain that the band are engaged not in the execution of one formula or another, but the exploration of varied ideas and modes of expression.

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

McVay‘s emergence as a frontman is notable for the performance he gives on guitar and vocals throughout, conveying emotion and poise alike on “Morning Song” and being no less at home riding the cascading riff of the subsequent “Sun Shivers” or giving a human presence to the psychedelic wash late in “Cosmonaut,” but the truth is Donaldson and Reynolds are no less crucial to the impact of the material, and even McLeod‘s acoustic guitar seems essential in “Cosmonaut” for providing an earthy underpinning to all of McVay‘s ethereal, floating tone. As the psych-via-grunge of that track gives way to “Quickening,” the band showcase a proggier style of composition, with a tense line of guitar and a resultant fluidity that comes across as something of an answer to All Them Witches‘ “Alabaster,” and give an especially hypnotic push en route to the album’s best stretch of lead guitar, singing out with a heightening melodic awareness and adding to the overarching impression of creative growth at hand. It’s quick perhaps in comparison to some of the stretches to come in the title-track and “Eye of the Storm,” but not at all to be discounted for its depth of songwriting. Again, a new level for King Buffalo.

And they back it up with two songs that, together, comprise nearly half the runtime of the album as a whole. “Longing to be the Mountain” makes a hook of the titular lyric, and expands the ideology of “Quickening” with an underlying rumble and spacious synth/keyboard added to not only provide an introduction, but to flesh out the dual-layer post-midpoint solo just ahead of a stop from which the band — McLeod included — pivot to the rhythm that will carry them through the crescendo and out, via fading feedback, to the more active start of “Eye of the Storm.” Its title delivered in the first verse, the closer feels more immediate, but with hints of vocal harmony from McVay and a gradual movement from one part to the next, there’s still an element of the patience of “Morning Song” and “Longing to be the Mountain” at work.

The double-payoff keeps it from being simply an afterthought following the title-track, and perhaps telling, the jam at the end — again, Reynolds‘ bass; yes — sounds more or less like it could keep going rather than wander into its fadeout as it does. I’m not sure I’d say that’s an intentional message saying there’s more to come, but it gets the point across either way that the evolution they’ve undertaken as a unit isn’t necessarily finished, and like Orion before it, Longing to be the Mountain is both a significant achievement on its own and a herald of what may yet be in store from King Buffalo. Whatever the future brings, for the smoothness of its flow between varied songs marked out by choice performances, for its deep-running sound and resonance of tone and emotionalism, and for the obvious heart that’s been poured into every second of its making, Longing to be the Mountain is a search that seems to find that what it’s looking for was there all along. It is a record that feels like home.

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

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King Buffalo Announce Oct./Nov. Touring; Post “Quickening” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Well, King Buffalo are currently wrapping up their pre-release tour for the upcoming Longing to be the Mountain, which they’ll release Oct. 12 on their own in the US and through Stickman Records in Europe, so I guess the only thing left to do is announce the dates for the post-release tour. That will start Oct. 27 in Montreal and run through the first couple weeks-plus of November. They haven’t yet announced plans to head to Europe in support of the new record, but I’d expect that to follow not too long behind, maybe early 2019 or so.

And if you want to hear a particular example of the sonic progression between Longing to be the Mountain and its 2016 predecessor, Orion (review here), take a listen to the solo late in “Quickening,” the video for which is posted at the bottom here. The level of melodic engagement from guitarist Sean McVay, not to mention the confidence in his vocals, is an absolute standout on the record. And the record, as well, is an absolute standout among 2018’s releases. I’ll have a review up sometime in the next couple weeks.

Here are the dates from the PR wire:

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

KING BUFFALO: psych-rockers premiere “Quickening” video, announce 2nd leg of North American tour

New King Buffalo track “Quickening” has made its debut today, in the form of an animated video.

The song appears on the Rochester, New York trio’s sophomore album Longing to Be the Mountain, out October 12th (self-released in the US, Stickman Records in Europe.)

Longing to Be the Mountain is a feast of haunting vocals, hypnotic grooves, mounting tension and explosive finalés, earning more than a few comparisons to Pink Floyd. It was produced by All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod.

Pre-order the album (vinyl and digital):
http://kingbuffalo.com/

The band is currently on tour in North America and has revealed a second leg of North American tourdates, kicking off October 27th in Montreal:

Sep 12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Sep 13 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Sep 15 – Toronto, ON @ Bovine Sex Club

Oct 27 – Montreal, QC @ Montreal Zombie Walk
Nov 1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Nov 2 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Nov 3 – Fawn Grove, PA @ South County Brewing Co.
Nov 4 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
Nov 5 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Nov 6 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Nov 7 – New Orleans, LA @ Santos Bar
Nov 8 – Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s
Nov 9 – Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas
Nov 10 – Fort Worth, TX @ Lola’s Saloon Sixth
Nov 12 – Nashville, TN @ The End
Nov 13 – Indianapolis, IN @ White Rabbit Cabaret
Nov 14 – Louisville, KY @ Jimmy Can’t Dance
Nov 15 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Nov 16 – Detroit, MI @ PJ’s Lager House
Nov 17 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
twitter.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

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King Buffalo Announce New Album Longing to be the Mountain out Oct. 12; Touring This Month; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

Rochester’s King Buffalo have spent a good portion of the last couple years on the road and they’re back with a sprawling new collection they’ve dubbed Longing to be the Mountain that showcases the willful growth they’ve undertaken. Really. You know I loved Orion (review here). Still do, in fact. Longing to be the Mountain, in its performance and in the writing of the material itself is absolutely on a different plane of achievement. It’s a top-ten kind of album, and it distinguishes King Buffalo‘s mode of expression as having become all the more their own. I’m dead serious. It’ll be the kind of review that I’ll end with “recommended,” and you know I don’t break that one out often.

They’re streaming a new single now to give a taste, and you can check it out at the bottom of this post. Longing to be the Mountain was produced by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches and features cover art by Adrian Dexter, also known for his work with Elder. The appearance of neither is a coincidence, since King Buffalo have toured extensively with both groups.

And speaking of touring, they’re on the road this month to Psycho Las Vegas, as the PR wire informs:

king buffalo longing to be the mountain

KING BUFFALO announces sophomore album “Longing to Be the Mountain”; first single streaming; North American touring begins this month

King Buffalo announces the October 12th release of its second full-length album, Longing to Be the Mountain.

From Rochester, New York, King Buffalo is the trio of vocalist/guitarist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds, and drummer Scott Donaldson. Since forming in 2013, the self-proclaimed “heavy blues” band has made its name via debut album Orion, follow-up EP Repeater, and tours with the likes of The Sword and All Them Witches.

Sophomore album Longing to Be the Mountain is an enthralling piece of work that sees King Buffalo fulfill its promise. In six songs, clocking in at 42 minutes, the band cements the style initiated on previous releases. Sure to delight fans of psych, stoner, and krautrock, Longing to Be the Mountain is timeless rock music, greater than any one genre.

Donaldson’s clean, sturdy drumming and Reynolds’ hypnotic basslines lock into grooves that propel the songs, traveling from cool, spacious zones into all-out explosive finalés. Frontman McVay mesmerizes with a haunting vocal style that commands full attention despite its sedated tone – early Pink Floyd is a reference point. Within each song, he showcases a palette of vivid guitar playing, from jangly rhythms to ripping solos.

Some songs make their point in 4 minutes or less, others sprawl out above the 10-minute mark. In either case, there is no fat to trim. King Buffalo moves with purpose. Reynolds names British Invasion bands like The Animals as an influence on him during the making of Longing to Be the Mountain, noting how he came to respect simplicity – “just playing the right notes in the right places.” With the three members in sync, songs progress steadily and fluidly, from world-weary lulls into squalls of transcendence.

King Buffalo’s music and lyrics are in harmony, both painting pictures of traveling, questing, evolving. Of the lyrics, McVay says, “The album is about searching for meaning. It’s a story about finding one’s place in an increasingly turbulent and chaotic world.” We, the listeners, are lucky to witness King Buffalo’s journey as they cruise onward and upward, leaving behind an amazing soundtrack as they go.

Longing to Be the Mountain was produced by All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod. It was recorded at Main Street Armory in Rochester by Grant Husselman, mixed by Sean McVay, and mastered by Bernie Matthews. Acoustic guitar throughout the album was played by McLeod. The artwork was created by Adrian Dexter. The album will be released on vinyl and CD, and digitally.

King Buffalo embarks on a North American tour in August, including a stop at Psycho Las Vegas and numerous Canadian dates. More touring will follow in the fall.

King Buffalo on tour:
Aug 15 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Aug 16 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
Aug 17 – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
Aug 18 – Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater
Aug 19 – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
Aug 21 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
Aug 22 – Los Angeles, CA @ Five Star Bar
Aug 24 – San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
Aug 25 – Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver
Aug 27 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Loading Dock
Aug 28 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Aug 29 – Spokane, WA @ The Pin
Aug 30 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
Aug 31 – Seattle, WA @ Highline
Sep 1 – Vancouver, BC @ Astoria
Sep 2 – Kamloops, BC @ Grind House Cafe
Sep 4 – Calgary, AB @ Palomino Smokehouse
Sep 5 – Edmonton, AB @ Bohemia
Sep 6 – Saskatoon, SK @ Capitol Music Club
Sep 7 – Regina, SK @ Cloud 9
Sep 8 – Winnipeg, MB @ The Handsome Daughter
Sep 9 – Fargo, ND @ Aquarium
Sep 11 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Sep 12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Sep 13 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Sep 15 – Toronto, ON @ Bovine Sex Club

Tracklist:
1) Morning Song
2) Sun Shivers
3) Cosmonaut
4) Quickening
5) Longing to Be the Mountain
6) Eye of the Storm

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

Discography:
Longing to Be the Mountain (self-released, 2018)
Repeater EP (Stickman Records, 2018)
Orion (self-released, 2016)
Electric Ladyland Redux compilation (Magnetic Eye Records, 2015)
Split w/ Le Betre (STB Records, 2015)
Demo (2013)

kingbuffalo.com
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instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
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kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com

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King Buffalo Announce West Coast Tour with The Sword

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Rochester trio King Buffalo recently sold through the test pressings of their latest EP, Repeater (review here), at their BigCartel store — I mean, they were there and then they were gone, just like that — and I assumed it was because the psych rockers were looking to get together funds ahead of an impending return trip to Europe to once again tour alongside Massachusetts heavy prog forerunners Elder on a stint that includes stops at Desertfest Berlin and Desertfest London, but it seems that was only part of the story.

Newly announced today is the fact that King Buffalo will hit the road on the West Coast to tour with Austin, Texas, riff veterans The Sword. Not to take anything away from the stints King Buffalo have done in the US with All Them Witches or anyone else, but I think this qualifies for sure as the highest-profile US touring they’ve done to-date, and of course one wishes them all the best as they continue to turn heads everywhere they go. Dudes are killing it.

Dig the specifics:

King Buffalo on their upcoming tours:

KB from the outset was always determined be a touring band. In the four years since our creation we’ve never been to the west coast. Something for whatever reason always seemed to elude us. We’re excited to be making our maiden voyage with some absolute legends in The Sword.

King Buffalo w/ The Sword west coast tour:
3/21 Austin, TX – Mohawk
3/23 El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls
3/24 Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
3/25 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey
3/26 San Francisco, CA – Fillmore
3/27 Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
3/29 Seattle, WA – Neumos
3/30 Spokane, WA – The Pin
3/31 Boise, ID – Neurolux
4/2 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall
4/3 Grand Junction, CO – The Mesa Theater
4/4 Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre (Englewood)
4/6 Lincoln, NE – Bourbon Theatre
4/7 Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theatre
4/8 Milwaukee, WI – The Rave II
4/9 Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
4/10 Memphis, TN – 1884 Lounge
4/11 Baton Rouge, LA – Varsity Theatre

King Buffalo w/ Elder European tour:
24.04.2018 DK – Copenhagen, VEGA
25.04.2018 SWE – Stockholm, Undergången
26.04.2018 NOR – Oslo, Parkteatret
27.04.2018 NOR – Bergen, Landmark Bergen
28.04.2018 NOR – Stavanger, Folken
30.04.2018 SWE – Gothenburg, Sticky Fingers // Göteborg
01.05.2018 GER – Hamburg, Hafenklang
03.05.2018 PL – Kracow, TBA
04.05.2018 PL – Warsaw, Klub Hydrozagadka
05.05.2018 DE – Berlin, Desertfest Berlin
06.05.2018 UK – London, Desertfest London
07.05.2018 B – Brussels, Ancienne Belgique – AB
08.05.2018 NL – Haarlem, Patronaat Haarlem
09.05.2018 CH – Winterthur, Gaswerk
10.05.2018 F – Gueret, Festival Metal Culture(s) VIII
12.05.2018 ES – Madrid, Kristonfest
18.05.2018 IS – Reykjavik, Gaukurinn

http://kingbuffalo.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/kingbuffalolives/
http://www.twitter.com/_kingbuffalo
http://www.instagram.com/_kingbuffalo
http://kingbuffalo.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/

King Buffalo, Repeater (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: King Buffalo, Repeater EP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

King Buffalo Repeater

[Click play above to stream ‘Centurion’ by King Buffalo. Their Repeater EP can be preordered as a 12-inch vinyl as of Jan. 5.]

The question of how Rochester, New York, heavy psych upstart trio King Buffalo will follow-up their debut full-length, Orion (review here), is answered in the form of the three-track Repeater EP. In the year-plus since the album’s first, (self-)release in 2016, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson signed to Stickman Records and oversaw an official issue of the record and have toured Stateside with All Them Witches and in Europe alongside labelmates Elder, and the EP brings three new cuts that represent the first new music they’ve produced following this productive time.

It is 24 minutes of material, and more than 13 of that resides within the opening title-track (also the longest of the set; immediate points), but in terms of flow and conveying a sense of how their progression is unfolding, Repeater feels like the first chapter in a larger story more than a standalone offering. That is to say, the vibe is more mini-album than single-song showcase for throwaways or “extras” from a recording session.

Part of that may of course owe to the fluidity in King Buffalo‘s approach overall, which was certainly a factor on Orion and just as certainly hasn’t at all been diminished by the stretches of time they’ve spent on the road, but there’s a perceptible resounding in the molten aspects of “Repeater,” “Too Little too Late” and “Centurion” that underlines the purposefulness with which King Buffalo engage such an open feel in what they do. Jamming is a crucial part of it at their foundation, but as far out as they go, their chemistry is put to use in servicing a song, even in something as vast as “Repeater” itself, which is their longest single track to-date.

Nearest competition in that regard is “Providence Eye,” which appeared both on their first demo in 2013 (review here) and on the subsequent 2015 STB Records-issued split with now-defunct Swedish troupe Lé Betre (review here) and in its longer incarnation topped 11 minutes, so the intrigue around “Repeater” is immediate. The song sounds like it was born on the road, and the lyrics, about repetition, about monotony, with a kind of hurry-up-and-wait undertone of theme, could easily be about touring life (I don’t have a lyric sheet to confirm that), but more importantly, its graceful, patient unfolding around an initial drone and subdued build of drums and guitar leads to a progression that feels as though on any given night, at any given show, it might sound just a little different.

Some nuance might change. Some flourish of guitar might be added, or the drums might tick in a different direction, or Reynolds‘ bass — which make no mistake is the root holding King Buffalo‘s songs together — might add a complementary run to the open-strummed echo of McVay‘s effects. The first verse ends with the line repeated, “Every day is the same” and a move into psychedelic drift around a gorgeous guitar tone worthy of comparison to Sungrazer at their best — yes, I mean that — and before the listener has blinked, the trio are four minutes deep and into a second verse en route to a semi-jam in the midsection from which they return to set “Repeater”‘s build in motion across the second half, the guitar signaling an uptick in tension before an explosion of fuzz just past the eight-minute mark brings them to the next stage, rolling out a thickened, full-volume riff and crash executed in dynamic form.

king buffalo

They pull back momentarily circa 10 minutes in, but are soon enough knee deep once again in this sonic heft, McVay‘s guitar howling atop the low end rumble from Reynolds and the shoving, insistent plod of Donaldson‘s drums. A residual hum finishes that fades to amp noise for the last minute or so, and a volume swell bleeds directly (on the digital version, anyway) into the beginning of “Too Little too Late,” the two songs tied together very much as they might appear on a proper long-player.

That decision does not and should not feel like a minor signal on the part of the band in terms of the work Repeater is doing for them on the whole, signaling their audience that the potential for growth Orion represented was indeed no fluke and that that work has been duly undertaken. “Too Little too Late,” the shortest inclusion at 4:43, is an instrumental piece based around a central drum figure topped by one-two hits, fluidic effects noise, spaced-out swirl, feedback and a generally hypnotic execution.

In its third minute, it devolves from what up till then was its central figure and casts itself out into minimalist drone rumble, a helicopter-esque feedback noise rising and fading to silence ahead of the more clear-headed guitar line that begins “Centurion.” Once again, with Reynolds‘ bass in the underscore position, McVay sets what sounds increasingly like a signature King Buffalo-style opening progression even before the arrival of Donaldson‘s drums, and as the first verse leads to the hook, the easy transition to the chorus highlights how natural their motion has become over such a short period of time.

This ultimately speaks to how loaded with potential King Buffalo are on the whole at this stage in their career — their material is welcoming to listeners and friendly in its tone, but immersive and characterized by a depth that, whether in the subdued beginning moments of “Centurion” or following the volume thrust at the halfway point, feels like an exploration undertaken by audience as much as performer. “Centurion” hits its peak loudness and carries a layer of washing guitar lead across for good measure as its apex serves the entirety of Repeater as much as its own flow, and moves into its final minute with a resolve that seems very much like, again, on any given night, at any given show, King Buffalo might just shove it outward for an indeterminate amount of time; whenever a head-bob or hand signal is given to change, in other words.

Here, they skillfully follow that last change and cut back to the initial bounce of the verse for a measure or two and then end cold, the signal coming through clearly that Repeater is more than ready to live up to its name and go another round. I don’t know and won’t try to speculate where King Buffalo might go with their sophomore full-length when the time comes for it, how they might continue to grow, what they might push toward in terms of arrangements or execution or general sound, but Repeater finds them brimming with confidence both as individuals and as a unit, and their songwriting here hits a new level of craftsmanship that only raises one’s hopes even after such an impressive debut long-player. The question isn’t so much whether King Buffalo are prepared for their next step as it is whether their audience is ready to realize the special moment playing out in front of them.

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King Buffalo Announce Repeater EP out Jan. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Rochester, New York, three-piece King Buffalo spent an admirable portion of 2017 on the road supporting their 2016 debut album, Orion (review here), which was issued by Stickman Records, including runs that took them to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and a European tour alongside formidable labelmates Elder that just recently wrapped. Somewhere along the way, they found time to put some new material to tape, and the resulting Repeater EP — named for its sprawling, 13-minute-long opening title-track — will arrive just after the first of the year, right in time to be the first inclusion in my notes for the best of 2018’s short releases. Funny how that works out.

They don’t have any of it streaming publicly yet, but vinyl preorders for the self-release are up now through their BigCartel store, where one can also find a digipak CD pressing of their initial demo and loads of other goodies audible and wearable. They sent the following announcement along the PR wire:

King Buffalo Repeater

KING BUFFALO RELEASE EP, REPEATER, ON JAN. 5

King Buffalo, the Rochester three-piece whose discography includes, a 2013 EP titled Demo, a 2015 split 12” with Le Betre, a 2016 debut album Orion, will self-release their newest EP, Repeater, on January 5th.

The three-song release has vinyl preorders available via: (http://kingbuffalo.bigcartel.com).

“Repeater is something we spent a lot of time with,” drummer Scott Donaldson explained. “We originally envisioned it being part of our sophomore full length, but soon realized it was a release of its own. These three songs developed organically in our practice/recording space in early 2017. They flow through a cohesive vision and form a complete thought like Orion. It wouldn’t have made sense to us, to have them released in any other way. They’ve become some of our favorite songs to play live and you can really sense that from the recordings. We look forward to seeing what people think, and we’re beyond excited on how it all turned out.”

In discussing the EP, Nick DiSalvo of Elder said “Repeater is a spacious, warm sounding record — and as the title implies, it’s deceptively repetitious: the songs breathe, bloom organically and envelop the listener while still being hypnotized by its groove. Somewhere between psychedelic, fuzz rock and shoegaze King Buffalo claim their sonic turf, and it’s not hard for me to imagine this is what big sky country sounds like.”

King Buffalo is Scott Donaldson (drums), Sean McVay (guitar/vocals/synth) and Dan Reynolds (bass/synth).

Repeater track list:
1. Repeater
2. Too Little Too Late
3. Centurion

http://kingbuffalo.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/kingbuffalolives/
http://www.twitter.com/_kingbuffalo
http://www.instagram.com/_kingbuffalo
http://kingbuffalo.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/

King Buffalo, Live at Wicked Squid Studios (6.16.16)

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