The Heads Announce UK Live Shows in Nov. & Dec.

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Is it a full tour? Nope. Week of UK dates? Nope. One might in Manchester and one night in London? Yuppers. Still, it’s The Heads, so when they announce a weekender like the one below, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, two nights only, it’s news as far as I’m concerned. Anytime The Heads do just about anything, it’s good for the universe in general, so while I won’t get to see them, I’m still glad they’re getting out. They’re touring in support of the 2CD/3LP compilation RKT! on their own Rooster Rock imprint and are promising more reissues to come, which is fine by me. I wouldn’t mind a new album either, but sometimes people have real lives and that’s a thing that happens instead of recording sessions. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, The Heads are easily among the best live psychedelic acts I’ve ever seen, and should you happen to be in their path for either of these shows, consider yourself lucky.

Dates follow from the PR wire:

THE HEADS

THE HEADS announce two new UK shows!!

Bristol’s Heads set up a brace of UK shows at the end of the year… following on from well received appearances at this years Roadburn, Bristol Psych Fest and others already this year, its time to do a couple of club shows, a first time at the 100 Club and a welcome return to Manchester.

This year also saw the release of the 3LP/2CD set RKT!, which compiled the band’s late 90’s / early 2000 releases for the then fledgling label Rocket Recordings, many of which now fetch ridiculous amounts on various record trading sites.
The Heads are a mainstay of outsider psychedelic rock, they have been together since the early 90s, and constantly buck trends by ploughing their own path.. Britpop tried to thwart them, Stoner rock tried to adopt them.. they just kept turning up their amps and digging deep into a library of obscure kraut rock and early 70’s heavy rock to inspire their riffs and playing.

The four members, Paul Allen, Wayne Maskell, H O Morgan, Simon Price continue playing as the Heads alongside their day jobs, and other band commitments (Anthroprophh, Loop, Kandodo, Karen, etc ). They have taken back control of all of their catalogue and have been working to remaster it all and reissue it on their own label Rooster. In their 25th year together with this line up, it seems the Heads will keep rolling……

The Deaf Institute, Manchester. Friday, 30 Nov 2018
Doors Open: 7:00 PM
Starts: 7:30 PM
£16.50
Buylink: https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-heads/the-deaf-institute/1250899

100 Club, London. Saturday, 01 Dec 2018
Doors Open: 7:00 PM
Starts: 7:30 PM
£16.50
Buylink: https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-heads/100-club/1251017

https://www.facebook.com/The-Heads-282801075465/
https://theheads1.bandcamp.com/

The Heads, “Longest Gone”

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The Heads RKT! Reissue out This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Some day, in some universe, some kind soul will put together a comprehensive discography for The Heads. It will feature all the UK heavy psychedelic pioneers’ releases — albums, splits, EPs, singles, live records, etc. — in the order of their original release, and note the labels, the different versions, the limited editions, the subsequent reissues, and so on, as well as some comment from the band itself on each offering. I expect this would be a book-length project for whatever kind soul took it on, and no doubt it would require a substantial government grant of some sort to happen. And perhaps a team of interns working in shifts.

Until we get to that magical day in that magical universe, we can enjoy The Heads‘ discography for the wonderfully confusing thing it is and perhaps even draw a parallel between their otherworldly and molten sounds and the impenetrable murk that is their catalog. They have a new reissue out this Friday. And the thing about The Heads? They’re amazing.

No, really. Amazing.

From the PR wire:

the heads rkt

THE HEADS latest reissue release “rkt!” on Rooster Records is out next Friday (25th May).

Latest volume in the long running Rooster reissue series, “rkt!” is a timely reissue of the first 3 releases The Heads put out on the ROCKET label.

OUT NEXT FRIDAY (May 25th) in the UK (June 1st in USA) on Limited 3LP format (2CD delayed..sorry..) The Heads – RKT! …(all the stuff they released on Rocket Recordings in the late 90s, in unedited form / one handy package!) And on the digital “sites” for the first time too… Remastered by Simon Price and Shawn Joseph (Optimum Mastering) for sonic dissonance of the highest order…this is bucketbonged sike at its rawest and most enrapturing…

To celebrate that, they have unleashed a “studio” version of live staple “KRT” in its glorious repeato-tripped out 46 minute plus glory…on all the digi places…check it out on the Spotify below…yes, a “Spotify” single from the Heads…tuck in…

Tracklist:
1. Spliff Riff (Conga’d Out)
2. Neu75!
3. Disappear Into Concrete And Meat
4. Filler
5. Jellystoned Loop
6. Planet Suite
7. Longest Gone
8. krt (all of it)

Latest in the long running Rooster (The Heads own label) reissue series, the latest volume is a timely reissue of the first 3 releases The Heads put out on the ROCKET label, from their first split 7” release (with Lilydamwhite) in 1998 to their much lauded SESSIONS 2 freakout 12” from 2002, all long sold out and highly collectable releases in their own rights.

Compiled here by Simon Price and remastered by Shawn Joseph…this release finds the band in fully relaxed glory; The Heads we quite prolific back in the late 90s / early 00’s, and in between the Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere album and Undersided album they released their jams and raw rehearsals via the burgeoning ROCKET Label.

Compiled here with extensive sleeve notes from Rocket founder Simon Healey, this limited 3LP (1000 copies) and 2CD (1000 copies) set captures the band at their most laconic and free…psychedelic sprawling morass of sound and aural distortion grooves akin drawing from their wide influences…also from simply plugging in and letting go…

Spotify KRT stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/0M4gtqM1PcGZ62T11mzgs7

iTunes full album pre-order (and stream for KRT): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/rkt/1383320753

https://www.facebook.com/The-Heads-282801075465/
https://theheads1.bandcamp.com/

The Heads, Burning up With… (2016)

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Friday Full-Length: The Heads, Relaxing With…

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The Heads, Relaxing With… (1996)

A little post-Roadburn worship for The Heads, and well earned. Some 22 years after making their debut via Relaxing With…, the UK psych lords remain thoroughly untamed — their sound rife with searing freakouts and a sense of what might’ve happened if the UK had put garage rock on the Voyager probe and then had it return to earth warped by the very fabric of the universe. To listen to the wah attack of “Woke Up” or the bit of ’60s-style boogie thrown into “U33,” it’s clear The Heads — guitarist/vocalist Simon Price, bassist Hugo Owen Morgan, guitarist Paul Allen and drummer Wayne Maskell — at least had some sense of what they were doing at the outset. That’s not to intimate the opposite applies to “Chipped” or “Slow Down” or “Widowmaker,” but just that there’s a decent amount of Relaxing With… that seems to have been purposefully left to chance and that exploration of sound has always been a crucial element of who they are as a band. Don’t believe me? “Coogan’s Bluff.”

Perhaps with the exception of the grungey “Taken too Much,” which is placed right before the closer, almost none of Relaxing With… sounds any more dated than it wants to, and rather than simply adopt the stylistic tenets of space rock, or psychedelia, or heavy rock, or garage, etc., The Heads took all these things and made them their own in a potent sonic brew running a brisk 44 minutes of tripped out, freaked out thrust, like the pent-up energy of a collapsing star about to go nova — one great big “pop” in the galaxy emitting gravity waves that continue to ripple. With Price‘s yeah-I’m-stoned-what’s-the-problem vocals adding a persistent laid back factor over Maskell‘s thud and push and Morgan‘s low end fuzz adding weight to the outward thrust of Price and Allen‘s guitars, The Heads were even in their beginning stages a complete band, each member complementing the others’ work in effort to create a more consuming whole.

That effort pays off all across Relaxing With…, from the wash of noisy swirl that starts opener “Quad” to the switched-on bizarro vibes that persist from there. Was this the birth of what people seem so eager now to dub “neo-psych,” as if psychedelia ever went away? Rest assured, I have no idea, but more than two decades on, The Heads‘ initial salvo of “Quad,” “Don’t Know Yet” and the somewhat thicker “Chipped” still hits like a rogue asteroid in the Russian wilderness. “Slow Down,” appropriately enough, eases on the throttle and brings Price‘s vocals forward but holds onto a threat of explosion in its post-midsection thud, even if what materializes is another verse and some backwards guitar before a couple shouts and the winding final measure of guitar solo arrive. Morgan‘s bass begins “U33” and makes a highlight of it, and at just over two minutes, “Television” scorches out garage fuzz with a punkish intensity and basks in its hookish vocal pattern.

The dirt-poetry of the lyrics is punctuated by the drum stomp, and as the song opened with a “Wow!,” so too does it close with one, a quick sample leading to the freakout of “Woke Up,” which is no less all-go than the preceding cut, but stretches a minute further and takes more of a traditional rock feel, and “Widowmaker” holds to it, despite feeling more molten even in its moments of blasting-forward intensity, which come and go but seem alway to be purking thanks to the tension in Maskell‘s cymbal work. “Widowmaker” is a highlight of the record, paying off in assaulting volume before a long-fadeout toy-piano sample leads into the strum and jangle that starts “Taken too Much,” moving quickly into more drastic quiet/loud tradeoffs marked by the post-Nirvana feel in the low end and the particularly druggy lyrical thematic. Maybe it’s with a bit of irony that “Taken too Much” is positioned right ahead of the “You only pass through this life once, jack, you don’t come back for an encore,” sample that begins “Coogan’s Bluff,” but whatever the intent was, it works.

One of the aspects of Relaxing With… that works so well is that the album happens in quick shots. While modern psych is given to these long, sometimes indulgent excursions, only two of the album’s first nine tracks pass four minutes in length. That makes “Coogan’s Bluff,” which uses every second of its 11:35, all the more a standout. The jam feels all the more massive for the tightness of the songwriting preceding, and as The Heads shove their way through solo after solo, groove on top of groove, they stand tall as new warriors on the edge of time, breathing life into a genre that, again, was thought dead when it never actually was. The dynamic between Allen, Maskell, Morgan and Price is by then long established but perhaps not displayed anywhere else as clearly as it is on “Coogan’s Bluff,” as the band moves ahead into vast reaches yet uncharted and delivers a gradual comedown, hitting the apex in another shit-hot lead that ends in the second half and gives way to consistent toms and noise that lets the listener make their way slowly back to reality, such as it is.

I’m not sure it’s possible for a band to be massively influential, critically lauded, have a consistent loyal fanbase and a number of offshoot projects while still being underrated, but if it is, The Heads are. I’ll say they’re not really a band I got until I saw them on stage and felt the full force of their delivery and volume, how they not only play this music, but execute it on a physical level. I don’t mean they’re thrashing around or anything, just that there are four members of The Heads and the sound they make when they come together is enough of a presence to be counted as a fifth. To think of Relaxing With… as their debut and to imagine hearing it for the first time when it was released before the turn of the century, it’s no wonder they’ve become who they are. Thankfully, that spirit of outward-directed exploration and ongoing creative development has never left them, and they still sound keen to try something new each time, as their hyper-populated and nearly impossible to track discography proves. That only makes them all the more special, and as Relaxing With… was the nexus of that ongoing process, it’s a moment well worth celebrating.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Interesting week, coming back and coming down from the aforementioned Roadburn fest in the Netherlands — to see all the coverage of Roadburn 2018, click here — and returning to whatever it is that passes for normalcy these days. I’ve had some good baby-time with The Pecan, so that’s been excellent. Six months on, he’s just starting to crawl and getting to the point where he’s more than a glob of human need, so playing has become more than basically showing him things and having him not be able to hold them. I’ve been singing him SubRosa, Anathema and Alice in Chains songs. He can sit up. He’s getting a bit of personality. Seems only a matter of time before he calls me a prick for something or other.

Busy week though. I apparently completely screwed up the scheduling this week on some stuff. That only makes life more difficult for me — also The Patient Mrs., so also me again — but it means I’m doubled up Monday and while I want to take a few days next week and get caught up on reviews I’ve been meaning to write, there’s still a lot going on that needs covering. I’m still getting caught up on news from being away and from before I went away, so I hope you’ll bear with me on that. Here’s what’s in the notes for next week, tentative as ever:

Mon.: Trevor’s Head full stream, Tusmørke track premiere.
Tue.: Sleep review.
Wed.: Grayceon review.
Thu.: Abramis Brama review.
Fri.: Track premiere/announcement from Cursed Tongue Records.

Some stuff still needs to be filled in, but again, I’m way behind on news and I think Amorphis put out another video. I might review that record next Friday and keep with the week’s apparent theme of things I think kick ass, but we’ll see how it goes, how much time there is and whatnot.

Speaking of, I’m pretty limited on time at the moment as the baby has a doctor’s checkup this morning and needs a bath before so he doesn’t show up like a crustpunk, and I still have another news post to put together for today — the one about Yawning Man signing to Heavy Psych Sounds — so I better wrap on the quick, but before I do, I just want to say thanks again if you got to check out any of the Roadburn coverage.

It was a little weird being there this year and missing the baby, and even weirder feeling like I was holding back from talking about that in the posts — what does it mean when I don’t feel comfortable having an open and fully honest conversation in the space that’s supposed to be my sole outlet for such a thing? — but you have to believe me when I say I understand how unbelievably lucky I was to be there in the first place and that it was a gift, as always. I have no doubt that, at the end of 2018, Roadburn will once again have been the center of it.

On that note, I’m out. I have two bios to write this weekend — an update for Kings Destroy and one for Small Stone’s next release that I’m woefully late on — and two reviews to write for Monday as noted above, so yeah, I’ll be around. In the meantime, thanks for reading as always and have a great and safe weekend.

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Kandodo McBain, Lost Chants/Last Chance: Unsafe at any Speed

Posted in Reviews on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kandodo-mcbain-lost-chants-last-chance

It’s an exceedingly clever idea, but that wouldn’t matter in the slightest were the execution not so utterly brilliant. As the phonetics of the title indicate, Lost Chants/Last Chance works strongly off ideas of duality. The late-2016 Rooster Rock offering from Kandodo McBain, pairs Kandodo3 — an offshoot of UK psych legends The Heads featuring guitarist Simon Price (who also operates solo under the moniker Kandodo), bassist Hugo Morgan and drummer Wayne Maskell from that band with guitarist John McBain, formerly of Monster Magnet and Wellwater Conspiracy. These two parties, each a psychedelic powerhouse on their own, come together across two sets of tracks recorded in two separate places — Bristol and San Francisco — and offer two distinct vibes on the 2CD/2LP Lost Chants/Last Chance by changing nothing more than the playing speed of the songs themselves.

To explain, if you get the Lost Chants/Last Chance CD, it comes with two discs — one with five songs at 45RPM speed, and a second with the same songs at 33RPM speed. The digital version on the Kandodo Bandcamp changes the names so that “Megladon’t” becomes “Megladon’t Ever” and “Chant of the Ever Circling Last Vulture” becomes “Chant of the Ever so Slowly Circling Last Vulture,” etc., but in runtime as well as mood, Lost Chants/Last Chance emphasizes the role that tempo plays in a given song’s feel while offering — at both speeds — wonderfully immersive, hypnotic psychedelic drift as only true masters of the form can provide. Front to back across the 10-track entirety, it tops an unmanageable two hours and 10 minutes, but whether listening in a single go, breaking it in half by material-version, or however else one might want to take it on — part of the joy of the thing is its utter amorphousness — Lost Chants/Last Chance lives up to being about more than just its conceptual objective in terms of showcasing the instrumental dynamic between these players, and thereby becomes all the more special.

Resonance abounds from the initial drifting guitar figure that begins “Blowed Out” — which later becomes “Really Blown Out,” naturally — and continues on from there. I tend to use words like “molten,” “fluid,” liquefied,” and so on to describe the sonic flow of heavy psychedelia. Tracks like “Blowed Out,” which earns immediate points for being the longest on Lost Chants/Last Chance at 15:43 in its 45RPM version as well as the opener, are the reason why. Even in its faster incarnation, it holds a languid spirit well past the 10-minute mark, keys adding melodic flourish to an anchoring guitar line that maintains its presence throughout and sets up a key factor in Kandodo McBain‘s execution: blending memorable instrumental hooks with ultra-expansive jamming. Its back third changes up the drums to a more tense use of toms, but the ending finds peace in guitars intertwining gorgeously. This sets up the pair of seven-minute slabs “Holy Syke” and “Megladon’t,” the former of which continues the mellotron-ic flow initially only to find spacier forward thrust at about 90 seconds in, setting up a build that becomes noisier — or is it “blowed out?” — as it moves through crafting another somehow-catchy impression, and the latter which relies on Maskell‘s thudding toms as the foundation for accompanying bass bounce and resonant guitar noodling.

What will seem to be the song most affected by the change in playing speed, “Megladon’t” brings about push without insistence and showcases an extended guitar lead as it heads through its midsection, turning shortly after five minutes in toward a fuzzier riff around which the four-piece will congregate until the fadeout brings on “Chant of the Ever Circling Last Vulture,” a 13-minute unfurling with an immediately space-rocking vibe — like Hawkwind on a preflight countdown — that holds percussive tension beneath swirling effects and key work.

Even after the drums fade down in the mix — McBain mixed and mastered — Morgan‘s bassline holds steady, and when Maskell returns shortly before the 10-minute mark, it gives solid ground beneath all that float from Price and McBain, a righteous turn that, if it came from a stage, would almost certainly prompt applause. On record, an agreeing nod will likely do. Siren loops from some kind of tonal submarine arrive late and set in motion the hum and fade-in of “Pelagic Blue Haze,” the 11:57 closer of the 45RPM segment, the patient unfolding of which offers something of a transition for those about to embark on the slower incarnations of these same tracks. It’s fair play that Kandodo McBain would save their most willfully hypnotic cut for last, but around 7:45, when the drums cut out, they shift into guitar drones and sort of residual melodies with just a hint of noise, as if to remind there’s more to come.

And so there is. Of course, with the slower playing speed, Lost Chants/Last Chance becomes about a third longer at 33RPM, going from 55:41 to 1:15:13. The shift also puts “Really Blown Out” over the 20-minute mark. Time, however, stops mattering by about 30 seconds in, and as so much of the groove presented earlier will, “Really Blown Out”‘s flow seems all the more graceful in its more downtempo showing. I don’t know if the 33RPM versions are mixed differently, but the mellotron reads as more of a forward presence in the opener, and the resulting immersion is a delightful dreamstate that continues as “Holiest Syke” enacts a familiar but modified push just before it hits two minutes. Both it and “Megladon’t Ever,” which on the 45RPM disc were relatively quick compared to their surroundings, benefit from the tempo change, but again, “Megladon’t Ever” might be the single piece most changed by the swap to 33RPM. Maskell‘s drums, particularly the steady hits of ride cymbal, emerge with a ritualized sensibility one only hears in hindsight on “Megladon’t” proper. That makes the song’s shift into noise all the more of a march to oblivion and nothing short of glorious for that, and between “Chant of the Ever so Slowly Circling Last Vulture” at 17:53 and “Deep Blue Pelagic Haze” at 16:09, the final two cuts on Lost Chants/Last Chance comprise an album unto themselves.

Along with the somewhat more grueling stomp of toms, the underlying drone in “Chant of the Ever so Slowly Circling Last Vulture” is a defining factor, but really, if you’re not lost in what Kandodo McBain are doing at this point, heavy psych might not be your thing. The penultimate slab oozes into and through a wash of noise and those same sirens — only slower — lead into the more foreboding-sounding drone that starts “Deep Blue Pelagic Haze.” It’s interesting to note that in changing the titles between the 45RPM and the 33RPM versions, Kandodo McBain emphasize an idea of “more.” Granted the tracks are longer inherently, as noted, but it goes further than that as well in there being an increased expressiveness that comes through. One can hear it in the sweet guitar figures of “Deep Blue Pelagic Haze,” which bring the entire project full circle in the otherworldly but memorable vibe they create, as well as in Maskell‘s hi-hat — even that becomes part of the overarching wash. A long trail into the titular haze and a likewise long fadeout follow, capping Lost Chants/Last Chance with the sense of having journeyed to another plane, arrived there, and departed again for someplace yet to be discovered. It is a trance that lasts even after the actual audio stops, and so seems fair to call genuinely affecting.

One of the aspects that most stands out about Lost Chants/Last Chance when viewed from some measure of distance, is that if Kandodo McBain had chosen to release either of the 45RPM or 33RPM versions of these tracks on their own, one would hardly be able to sort out which were the originals. That is, if one heard the “Megladon’t Ever” without having heard “Megladon’t” before it, the likelihood of their going, “This sounds like the slowed-down version of another track” is just about nil. Both listening experiences are believable, and each creates its own soundscape and sets its own course using the same music, and while it’s an experiment that just about everybody with a turntable has tried at one point or another in their lives, to put out a full-length album of jams that specifically promotes the change in rotation speed is admirably bold, and Kandodo McBain pull it off entirely through the scope and strength of the material itself, rather than just the novelty of the initial exercise. Cool concept, yes, but it’s the songs that make all the difference.

Kandodo McBain, Lost Chants/Last Chance (2016)

Kandodo on Thee Facebooks

Kandodo on Bandcamp

Kandodo McBain at Creepy Crawl Records

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