Friday Full-Length: Snowy Dunes, Snowy Dunes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Snowy Dunes, Snowy Dunes (2015)

It does not take long for Snowy Dunes‘ 2015 self-titled debut to demonstrate why it has been so continuously well-received by the heavy rock underground in and beyond Europe. Released by the band digitally and issued via Rock Freaks Records as a gatefold 2LP, the nine-track/51-minute first offering from the Stockholm, Sweden, feels like something special at the outset, and the fact that the four-piece of guitarist Christoffer Kingstedt, bassist Carl Oredson, drummer Stefan Jakobsson and vocalist Niklas Eisen traveled to Los Angeles to record with Dead Meadow bassist Steve Kille only reinforces this position. Their psychedelic blues, whether portrayed in the 90-second harmonica-and-voice of “Watch out for Snakes,” the ultra-Hendrixian purple-haze-all-in-the-brain funk of “Electric Love,” or the nine-minute swaggering jam that follows on “Diablo” and finds Eisen calling out the moves the band will make in the second half of the song — “Alright we’re gonna do this for you, do some harmonies,” and then they do — is a right-on-target preach to the converted, and the sense of righteousness it finds in its execution is even more prevalent for the live-sounding feel behind it. That is, Snowy DonesSnowy Dunes goes far out — way far out — and all the while it sounds like, hey man, these songs just happened. Could’ve been different on any other day. The vague possibility that that’s actually the case would seem to make the record something even more vital, but it’s really just the starting point of an ultra-organic breadth that unfurls across its extended but immersive runtime.

When one thinks of the generational surge of heavy psychedelia throughout Europe that’s taken place over the last five or 10 years, it’s usually the post-Colour Haze bringers of tonal warmth who come to mind, or the slew of groups embroiled in even jammier fare, improvised or not. Lately, neo-psych influenced by space rock has emerged to converse with the Californian post-Earthless swirl set and the massive influence of Australia’s King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, and that will no doubt continue to reshape the underground in the next few years to come, but Snowy Dunes set themselves apart with their self-titled. While they for sure have their psychedelic aspects, and their jammy side comes to such a prevalence particularly later in the record that one wonders if Eisen isn’t making up his lines on the spot for a song like “Bad Wolf,” and whether he is or not is ultimately secondary since that’s the vibe the band are giving off. In terms of modern comparison points, Snowy Dunes have way more in common with Australia’s Child or a super-slowed-down Radio Moscow than they do the bulk of what’s coming from even the bluesiest corners of Europe, let alone Sweden, although one could just as easily argue that the classic mentality behind “Tranquil Mountain Lake” or “Dawn” is born just as much of Swedish retro rockism as of any outsider heavy blues. At a certain point, this becomes splitting hairs and the important factor — the deep sense of identity imbued within Snowy Dunes‘ material on their debut album — is lost. If it’s one or the other, I’d rather listen to the songs.

And Snowy Dunes certainly make that easy. Whether you’re flipping the vinyl platters over as you go or making your way through digitally, their Snowy Dunes brings its tracks to life with a rare level of flow, and while at 51 minutes, it borders on what one would generally think of as unmanageable — or at least less-manageable than standard single-LP length — there’s no more redundancy in “Turn Around,” “Watch out for Snakes” or “Desert Cold” — the latter as close as they come to naming a song after the band — than is intended, and the bring-the-listener-into-the-studio feel of the tracks as the recording progresses becomes one of the greatest assets with which Snowy Dunes works, though I won’t discount Eisen‘s easy-flowing soul or the bass tone Oredson uses to anchor the material without actually holding Kingstedt‘s wah-laced tonality down from meandering where it will (worth noting that the last thing you hear on the record is Oredson being introduced by Eisen). That dynamic emerges almost immediately on “Tranquil Mountain Lake” and remains firm across the bulk of the tracks, but amid the ebbs and swells of “Desert Cold,” and the blowout at the end of “Turn Around,” there’s plenty of heft brought to bear as well; Snowy Dunes just keep it baked perfectly so that whether they want to boogie on “Bad Wolf” or let loose one more time in closer “The Light” with starts and stops filled out by a croaking voice from Eisen, they can. Hell, by the time they get to that point, Snowy Dunes have shown pretty clearly that, wherever they’re looking to travel in a given path, they know just how they want to get there.

Snowy Dunes got a mention in my list of the best debut albums of 2015, but especially having had the chance recently to revisit the vinyl edition, it’s held up remarkably well. Early 2016 brought word of a concept album follow-up, Atlantis, and a 19-minute first installment thereof streaming at their Bandcamp page. Updates have trickled out since, including cover art this past May, but I’ve yet to catch wind of a firm release date for it. Part of that, perhaps, is Snowy Dunes sorting out a label situation for the release, but either way, whenever it arrives, Atlantis has a considerable task ahead of it in following-up Snowy Dunes, which has only continued to flourish where many of the other “best debut albums” on that list linked above have fallen by the wayside. Some records just grow on you over time, I guess.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading and listening.

Spent a pretty decent portion of this week out of my head, and not really in a good way. You might recall last Friday, my wonderful, now 32-weeks-pregnant wife The Patient Mrs. and I headed to New Jersey because my 102-year-old grandmother had been taken to the hospital. No one ever found out how she broke her hip, but it wound up requiring surgery. They put in two rods, like she was gonna get up and start running laps afterward. They said physical therapy. Uh huh. Then the lady had a stroke the next night and that put the kibosh on that.

As of this writing, she’s still alive. I guess you don’t get to be 102 and then just drop dead suddenly — clearly at that point you’re working on your own scale as regards time. She can’t swallow water, won’t eat, but took in some ice cream the day before yesterday — so fucking typical for my family — and yesterday she was moved to a hospice facility out of the hospital. They’re not going to do any physical therapy for the hip. They’re not going to think she’s really coming back to full consciousness at any point from here on out. They’re going to let her be, give her as much ice cream as she wants/is willing to take, and wait. We’re all waiting. Death limbo.

102 years old. There is no dignity at the end of life. You can die in a famous glorious battle and still shit your pants when you go. I’m not looking her to have a righteous, graceful departure. Wouldn’t be her style anyway. But she’s 102, and her body, acting on the purest, most unthinking of instinct, still can’t bring itself to let go and not squeeze every single last second out of her life. The arrangements are made, everything’s in order. It’s like she’s late to her own party. Obviously I’m sad to see her die — she’s been a major presence in my life for my 35-plus years and especially when I lived in NJ and after I got married and was a bit more of an adult, we got to be pretty close — but I also know there’s no way in her conscious mind she’d want to go on the way she is. And my poor mother. Ugh.

The Patient Mrs. and I came back to Massachusetts last weekend, said our goodbye and made our way back north, but I’ve been in touch with my family all week and gotten a steady string of updates, been conferenced in with doctors and so on. We wait. Excruciating. And I feel guilty for living five hours away from them, which I do anyway, but even more in situations like this.

Anyway, that’s my vent. Thanks for letting me have my moment.

This weekend is the baby shower in CT for The Pecan, who again, is due in October near to my own birthday. I don’t know who’s coming, but I know we’ll be there. Then on Wednesday I fly to Ireland for the Emerald Haze fest (info here) that I still can’t believe I’ll be fortunate enough to attend. The Patient Mrs. is also traveling this week — to San Francisco for a conference; she’s not even going to have time to go to Amoeba Music, much to my vicarious dismay — so plenty of chaos abounds. I’ve got a couple extra days on the back end of my trip to see Dublin slated as well, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting, but there are reviews to write so I’ll get stuff done anyway.

What will I do if Gramma dies in the interim or while I’m away? Cross that bridge when I come to it.

To put it another way, the notes for next week? They’re even more “subject to change” than usual. Here they are anyhow:

Mon.: Motorpsycho track premiere; Vision Éternel video premiere.
Tue.: Ruby the Hatchet review; new video from Cosmic Fall.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with Destroyer of Light; Ufomammut review.
Thu.: Biblical track premiere.
Fri.: Emerald Haze coverage.
Sat./Sun.: Emerald Haze coverage.

Much to do, much to do. The Obelisk stuff has been good because it’s given me something to focus on and deflect stress into. Gotta listen to this, gotta write about that, etc. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate you reading and being a part of this site, how much it means to me to have this be a conversation. Thanks to everyone who checked out that Ozzy piece earlier this week, or shared the Earthless news, or who commented on the Queens of the Stone Age review on Thee Facebooks, or who entered the Vokonis giveaway. Turned out to be a pretty killer week, even if I was distracted for most of it. If you’re reading, that’s on you, so yeah, thanks.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Mountains Sign to Rock Freaks Records; Dust in the Glare Vinyl out this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mountains

Though it starts off showcasing some thickened All Them Witches-style psych-blues influence in its opening cut, what unfurls from there on Mountains‘ debut album, Dust in the Glare, digs into a crisp and progressive take on heavy rock by the time its gone from “Everglades” to “Towards the Woods.” An efficient delivery throughout veers toward the aggressive on “Fortess” and the closing title-track — also the only cut to cross the other side of the four-minute mark — but there’s a steady sense of atmosphere as a complement, and Dust in the Glare thereby avoids the chestbeating that so much of London’s underground can’t seem to escape.

The short full-length was originally released in March as a digital offering direct from the band — you can stream it via their Bandcamp on the player at the bottom of this post — and has been newly picked up by the Freak Valley fest-associated Rock Freaks Records for a vinyl pressing this Fall, which will also find Mountains playing shows around town with Green Lung and Wychhound.

As the PR wire confirms:

mountains dust in the glare

From the ale-swamps of the South come London based heavy-trio Mountains. Comprising of David Jupp (guitar/vocals), Chris Randall (bass) and Josh Hussey (drums), the band finalised their line-up in 2015 and began work on their debut album. In the summer of 2016 Mountains entered Rogue Studios in London to record the eight songs that would make up ‘Dust in the Glare.’

Mastered by Ed Woods (The Who, Ghost of a Thousand, Reuben) and released digitally on March 24th 2017, the record garnered great reviews from some of the big names in the scene. This momentum culminated in August 2017 with Mountains signing to German label Rock Freaks Records (Freak Valley Festival) for a run of heavyweight vinyl across white, marble and splatter variants. The release will be issued in the autumn to coincide with Mountains fall tour with Wychhound and Green Lung.

Tracklisting:
1. Everglades 03:13
2. Lonely Cities 03:59
3. Towards the Woods 02:57
4. Ten Paces 03:42
5. Keep Watch 03:04
6. Fortress 02:43
7. Ithaca 02:03
8. Dust In The Glare 04:24

Mountains live:
Sat Sept 30th – The Devonshire Arms – Camden / London
Sat Nov 11th – The Big Red – Holloway / London
Sat Nov 18th – Scream Lounge – Croydon / London
Thu Dec 14th – The Black Heart – Camden / London

Mountains are:
David Jupp – Guitar/Vocals
Chris Randall – Bass
Josh Hussey – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/mountainsuk/
https://mountains-uk.bandcamp.com
http://mountainsofficial.uk/
https://twitter.com/Mountains___
https://www.facebook.com/rockfreaksrecords/
http://www.rockfreaks.de/

Mountains, Dust in the Glare (2017)

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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Seedy Jeezus Release Limited Live at Netphen, Freak Valley 2015 LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Seems to me like time’s kind of short on this one, so I won’t waste a lot of yours. Melbourne heavy psych rockers Seedy Jeezus have issued a one-time-pressing, limited-to-300-copies vinyl edition of their set from the 2015 Freak Valley festival. Titled Live at Netphen, Freak Valley 2015, the LP is a crisp 40-minutes that found the Aussie trio making friends and making waves across Europe that was clearly a landmark moment for them — shit, just look at that pic on the cover; you’re gonna tell me they’re not into it? — and worthy of the deluxe treatment they’re giving it for this for-fans release, tapestry and all.

Yeah, that’s right, tapestry. Dig it:

seedy-jeezus-live-at-netphen-freak-valley-2015

Seedy Jezeus – Live at Freak Valley 2015 ( x300 Limited Edition Vinyl)

Available on Rock Freaks Green Vinyl.

Hidden in a forested valley in Netphen, Germany, The Freak Valley Festival is a well-loved event that celebrates at its heart: good bands, good people and definitely good times!

In 2015, sharing the bill with the likes of Blues Pills, Orchid, Electric Moon and Earthless, Seedy Jeezus took to the stage on a gloriously sunny afternoon in June with a large curious crowd, interested to see the first Australian band to fly the flag at Freak Valley. It was Seedy’s second show on their first tour of Europe.

Seedy Jeezus were supporting their acclaimed self-titled debut album and they showed everyone that they can pull off their own form of crushing heavy psych rock live, just as well as they can in the studio.

Their Freak Valley Festival performance was recorded and is now presented on vinyl as Seedy Jeezus: Live at Netphen, Freak Valley 2015. The full 40 minute set captures a mixture of their most popular tracks from their debut self-titled album plus the captivating instrumental opus Three Million Light Years. The tracks are a manifestation of the studio versions but have been stretched, jammed and reinterpreted to highlight the frenetic pace of a Seedy Jeezus live set containing mammoth riffage, psych freak outs and sci-fi soundscapes.

Seedy Jeezus during their 40 min set won the crowd over and made alot of new friends and fans who have continued to support and follow the bands progress with each release. Part of the bands performance was also shown on the local German news that night.

Seedy Jeezus, Live at Netphen, Freak Valley was mixed and mastered by Jason Fuller at Goatsound in Melbourne, Australia from multitrack recordings, this album sounds as rocking and brutal as can be expected of any live Seedy set.

Track List:
Chasing the Dragon’s Tail
Wormhole
Three Million Light Years
Pick Up
How Ya Doin
Sun in my Car

Seedy Jeezus Live at Freak Valley will be limited to only 300 copies worldwide on vinyl with no intention of being repressed once it is sold out.

Blown Music in Australia will be releasing as part of the 300 pressings, 50 Deluxe Editions. The deluxe edition will contain the album on Rock Freaks green vinyl with the embossed Deluxe edition seal, a large 80s style fabric wall hanging, 5 promo photos of Seedy Jeezus all contained in a very cool limited edition Freak Valley Festival tote bag…. available from Seedy Jeezus website. Check the links below.

Front cover photo by Laurent Remazeilles / desert-rock.com. All other photos by Ange Strangis , Clemens Mitscher and Lex Waterreus.

http://shop.rockfreaks.de/de/
http://www.seedyjeezus.com

Seedy Jeezus, “Chasing the Dragon’s Tail”

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The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues Post 7″ Teaser

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 31st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the sun the moon and the witchs blues logo

It’s been a quick year since Swedish outfit The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues made such an intriguing debut with an 18-minute single-song self-titled EP. Then working as the duo of Robin Hirse (also Asteroid) and Jonas Ljungkvist, they affected a heavy psych and blues atmosphere across the hypnotically-engaging track, seeming to serve notice of an arrival in the making. Even playing it back now, its organic flow and rich tonality leave a positive and encouraging impression, which is to say, it leaves me wanting more.

The band — now apparently a five-piece with Hirse on vocals or vocals and guitar, Ljungkvist on guitar as well as guitarist Tobias Eriksson, bassist Joakim Kohlscheen and drummer Jimmi Kohlscheen — will make their first physical offering in the form of a debut 7″ through Rock Freaks Records sometime sooner or later in 2016. Basically nothing about the release is known at this point in terms of what songs will be included, how many will be pressed and when it will be out, but a teaser has been posted that features a dreamy chorus and that’s enough for me to go on. After they hit the studio this Spring and Fall, I’d been wondering what would come from it. Nice to have some idea on that one.

Also curious to see how Hirse winds up splitting time between The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues and the recently-reunited Asteroid, and how the two projects will coexist going forward. I guess we’ll find out. For now, if you listen to the teaser like six times in a row, it’s almost like a whole song. Not saying I’ve tried that or anything. You know.

For your brief enjoyment:

The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues, 7″ Teaser

Excerpt from the upcoming 7″ by The Sun, The Moon & The Witch’s Blues. Out 2016 on Rock Freaks Records.

The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues on Thee Facebooks

The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues on Bandcamp

Rock Freaks Records

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Godsleep Release Thousand Sons of Sleep Vinyl on Rock Freaks Records

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

godsleep

Greek heavy rockers Godsleep have released their debut LP, Thousand Sons of Sleep (review here), on vinyl through Rock Freaks Records. The album was initially offered up by the band earlier in 2015 digitally and on CD, and the pickup by Rock Freaks, which is the record label associated with Freak Valley festival, has some pretty obvious implications as to how the Athens foursome might be spending at least part of their summer. Maybe that’s jumping the gun, as, admittedly, I’m prone to do in this kind of case, but whether they wind up on that fest or not, Godsleep‘s debut showed considerable promise, and right down to its artwork, earned a vinyl release all the way. Kudos to the band and label on joining forces.

Rock Freaks had the news and release particulars like this:

godsleep thousand sons of sleep

Rock Freaks Records proudly presents the 2nd label release: Godsleep – THOUSAND SONS OF SLEEP!

With their debut these guys from Athens, Greece, created a mixture of powerful throaty vocals colliding with thick-sounded, fuzz fuelled heavy rock, accompanied by extended solos.

Poaching in the deep covert of sludge, stoner and psychedelic rock this foursome leads you from the muddy woods of Lousiana to the dusty sands of Arizona. This sounds crazy. And it is crazy. Available now on heavy 180gr vinyl and inside-out print you can choose between three colors: traditional black (limited and handnumbered to 150 pieces), silver (130) and gold (110).

Get your special „die-hard-edition“ next saturday at the FREAK-VALLEY-X-MAS showcase including the golden vinyl plus a ROCK FREAKS RECORDS patch. The black edition is available at GODSLEEPS show on saturday 19th in Athens.

All colours available next week in our shop and on the forthcoming GODSLEEP-tour. There are still dates for april 2016 available, so if you want them to stop by or if you know a cool place that they should fill with some heavy tunes, please contact Stef : stef@totalvolumeagency.com.

www.rockfreaks.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley/
https://www.facebook.com/Godsleepband
http://godsleep.bandcamp.com/releases

Godsleep, Thousand Sons of Sleep (2015)

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