The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

This is the hardest list to put together, no question. Don’t get me wrong, I put way too much thought into all of them, but this one is damn near impossible to keep up with. Every digital single, every demo, every EP, every 7″, 10″ one-sided 12″, whatever it is. There’s just too much. I’m not going to claim to have heard everything. Hell, that’s what the comments are for. Let me know what I missed. Invariably, something.

So while the headers might look similar, assuming I can ever remember which fonts I use from one to the next, this list has a much different personality than, say, the one that went up earlier this week with the top 20 debuts of 2017. Not that I heard everyone’s first record either, but we’re talking relative ratios here. The bottom line is please just understand I’ve done my best to hear as much as possible. I’m only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day. Eventually your brain turns into riffy mush.

With that caveat out of the way, I’m happy to present the following roundup of some of what I thought were 2017’s best short releases. That’s EPs, singles, demos, splits — pretty much anything that wasn’t a full-length album, and maybe one or two things that were right on the border of being one. As between genres, the lines are blurry these days. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Okay, enough dawdling. Here we go:

lo-pan-in-tensions

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

1. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
2. Godhunter, Codex Narco
3. Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead
4. Shroud Eater, Three Curses
5. Stubb, Burning Moon
6. Canyon, Canyon
7. Solace, Bird of Ill Omen
8. Kings Destroy, None More
9. Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam
10. Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme
11. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
12. Rope Trick, Red Tape
13. Eternal Black, Live at WFMU
14. IAH, IAH
15. Bong Wish, Bong Wish EP
16. Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie Demo
17. Hollow Leg, Murder
18. Mars Red Sky, Myramyd
19. Avon, Six Wheeled Action Man Tank 7″
20. Wretch, Bastards Born

Honorable Mention

Across Tundras, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain
The Discussion, Tour EP
Fungus Hill, Creatures
Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven
The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny
Test Meat, Demo
Blood Mist, Blood Mist
Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell
Dautha, Den Foerste
Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti
Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2
Decasia, The Lord is Gone
Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

I can’t imagine I won’t add a name or two or five to this section over the next few days as I think of other things and people remind me of stuff and so on, so keep an eye out, but the point is there’s way more than just what made the top 20. That Across Tundras single would probably be on the list proper just on principle, but I heard it like a week ago and it doesn’t seem fair. Speaking of unfair, The Discussion, Howling Giant, The Grand Astoria and the Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore split all deserve numbered placement easily. I might have to make this a top 30 in 2018, just to assuage my own guilt at not being able to include everything I want to include. For now though, yeah, this is just the tip of the doomberg.

Notes

To be totally honest with you, that Lo-Pan EP came out Jan. 13 and pretty much had the year wrapped up in my head from that point on. It was going to be hard for anything to top In Tensions, and the Godhunter swansong EP came close for the sense of stylistic adventurousness it wrought alone, and ditto that for Year of the Cobra’s bold aesthetic expansions on Burn Your Dead and Shroud Eater’s droning Three Cvrses, but every time I heard Jeff Martin singing “Pathfinder,” I knew it was Lo-Pan’s year and all doubt left my mind. Of course, for the Ohio four-piece, In Tensions is something of a one-off with the departure already of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, but I still have high hopes for their next record. It would be hard not to.

The top five is rounded out by Stubb’s extended jam/single “Burning Moon,” which was a spacey delight and new ground for them to cover. The self-titled debut EP from Philly psych rockers Canyon, which they’ve already followed up, is next. I haven’t had the chance to hear the new one yet, but Canyon hit a sweet spot of psychedelia and heavy garage that made me look forward to how they might develop, so I’ll get there sooner or later. Solace’s return was nothing to balk at with their cassingle “Bird of Ill Omen” and the Sabbath cover with which they paired it, and though Kings Destroy weirded out suitably on the 14-minute single-song EP None More, I hear even greater departures are in store with their impending fourth LP, currently in progress.

A couple former bandmates of mine feature in Tarpit Boogie in guitarist George Pierro and bassist John Eager, and both are top dudes to be sure, but even if we didn’t have that history, it would be hard to ignore the tonal statement they made on their Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam EP. If you didn’t hear it, go chase it down on Bandcamp. Speaking of statements, Supersonic Blues’ Supersonic Blues Theme 7″ was a hell of an opening salvo of classic boogie that I considered to be one of the most potential-laden offerings of the year. Really. Such warmth to their sound, but still brimming with energy in the most encouraging of ways. Another one that has to be heard to be believed.

The dudes are hardly newcomers, but Grief offshoot Come to Grief sounded pretty fresh — and raw — on their The Worst of Times EP, and the Massachusetts extremists check in right ahead of fellow New Englangers Rope Trick, who are an offshoot themselves of drone experimentalists Queen Elephantine. Red Tape was a demo in the demo tradition, and pretty formative sounding, but seemed to give them plenty of ground on which to develop their aesthetic going forward, and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that.

Eternal Black gave a much-appreciated preview of their Bleed the Days debut long-player with Live at WFMU and earned bonus points for recording it at my favorite radio station, while Argentine trio IAH probably went under a lot of people’s radar with their self-titled EP but sent a fervent reminder that that country’s heavy scene is as vibrant as ever. Boston-based psych/indie folk outfit Bong Wish were just the right combination of strange, melodic and acid-washed to keep me coming back to their self-titled EP on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and as Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass debuted his new project Rattlesnake with the Outlaw Boogie demo, the consistency of his songcraft continued to deliver a classic feel. Another one to watch out for going into the New Year.

I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include Hollow Leg’s Murder or not since it wound up getting paired with a special release of their latest album, but figured screw it, dudes do good work and no one’s likely to yell about their inclusion here. If you want to quibble, shoot me a comment and quibble away. Mars Red Sky only released Myramyd on vinyl — no CD, no digital — and I never got one, but heard a private stream at one point and dug that enough to include them here anyway. They remain perennial favorites.

Avon, who have a new record out early in 2018 on Heavy Psych Sounds, delivered one of the year’s catchiest tracks with the “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” single. I feel like I’ve had that song stuck in my head for the last two months, mostly because I have. And Wretch may or may not be defunct at this point — I saw word that drummer Chris Gordon was leaving the band but post that seems to have disappeared now, so the situation may be in flux — but their three-songer Bastards Born EP was a welcome arrival either way. They round out the top 20 because, well, doom. Would be awesome to get another LP out of them, but we’ll see I guess.

One hopes that nothing too egregious was left off, but one again, if there’s something you feel like should be here that isn’t, please consider the invitation to leave a comment open and let me know about it. Hell, you know what? Give me your favorites either way, whether you agree with this list or not. It’s list season, do it up. I know there’s the Year-End Poll going, and you should definitely contribute to that if you haven’t, but what was your favorite EP of the year? The top five? Top 10? I’m genuinely curious. Let’s talk about it.

Whether you have a pick or not (and I hope you do), thanks as always for reading. May the assault of short releases continue unabated in 2018 and beyond.

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Rope Trick Release Red Tape EP; Touring East and West Coasts

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

After premiering the 11-minute opening track here late last year, psych-ritualizing two-piece Rope Trick have made their debut EP, Red Tape, officially available for public consumption. They’ll have CDs before the end of the month, and that timing makes sense since the Queen Elephantine-affiliated duo are set to tour between the Northeast and the West Coast over the course April and May. Wasting no time, they play tonight in New Hampshire and on March 30 are in their half-native Providence, Rhode Island (they also claim roots in Philly, where they’ll be April 1), in the significant company of Baltimore drone-wash joyspreaders Darsombra.

Dates and other info came in off the PR wire, and you can check out the full stream of Red Tape at the bottom of the post:

rope trick

ROPE TRICK: ‘Red Tape’ + East & West Coast US Tour Dates

ROPE TRICK, a new psych rock duo from Providence/Philadelphia, USA is supporting its new self-released album Red Tape with tours on both East and West Coasts of the US. They share the stage with, among others, Darsombra, Owl, Heavy Temple, Weird Owl, Aboleth, and Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, the psych project of Monster Magnet’s Ed Mundell.

You can listen here: https://ropetrickband.bandcamp.com. The album will also be available March 30th on CD, iTunes, and Spotify.

ROPE TRICK is the term given by physicist John Malik to “the curious lines and spikes which emanate from the fireball of certain nuclear explosions just after detonation.”

ROPE TRICK SPRING 2017 TOUR DATES
East Coast

3/24 – Rollinsford, NH, Sue’s
3/30 – Providence RI, AS220*
3/31 – Brooklyn NY* Don Pedro*
4/1 – Philadelphia PA, Shred Shed*
4/2 – Baltimore MD, The Crown*
5/17 – New York NY, Arlene’s Grocery
5/27 – Brooklyn NY, Cobra Club
*w/ darsombra

West Coast
4/14 – Seattle WA, Blue Moon Cafe
4/15 – Portland OR, High Water Mark
4/16 – Eugene OR, Black Forest
4/18 – Sacramento CA, Starlite Lounge
4/19 – San Francisco CA, El Rio
4/21 – Los Angeles CA, Cafe NELA
4/23 – Anaheim, CA, Doll Hut

Rope Trick is:
Indrayudh Shome: guitar + vocal
Nathanael Totushek: drums

ropetrickband.com
ropetrickband.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/ropetrickband
https://www.instagram.com/ropetrickband

Rope Trick, Red Tape (2017)

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Rope Trick Premiere Demo Track “Vivid”; East and West Coast Tours Announced

Posted in audiObelisk on December 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

rope trick logo

Comprised of Queen Elephantine members Indrayudh Shome and Nathanael Totushek, one shouldn’t be entirely surprised to find that the new duo Rope Trick have some experimental underpinnings. There’s only so much one can or even should bother trying to fight that impulse, frankly. But while Shome and Totushek‘s other outfit is known for droning meditative sprawl, fully ritualized and spacious as heard on their latest outing, Kala (review here), which came out this fall through Argonauta Records and a slew of others, Rope Trick‘s three-song debut demo, Red Tapes, finds them a little more down-to-business and feels aimed more toward exploring direct instrumental and rhythmic chemistry than sonic spiritualism — though one could easily argue they’re the same to some degree when done right. And fair enough. Its half-hour run through the songs “Vivid” (10:32), “Soothsayer” (7:07) and “Comedown” (12:28) is marked by low-end groove and swells of volume and thrust — see the emergent lurch of the finale’s ’90s-style chug — and Shome‘s layered chant. Nobody’s credited with bass, and indeed there might not be any, but you’d never know that hearing the material itself, which is duly thick and forceful in its presentation in spite of a raw recording fitting to a demo aesthetic.

While they’re quite clearly just starting out with these songs, feeling their way through an initial release and crafting material after what seems to have been a process of stripping projects like Queen Elephantine and Throne in the Void of the Hundred Petal Lotus down to their essential cores, Shome and Totushek unquestionably benefit from their prior time playing together. And if that wasn’t the case, you’d know it almost immediately between the duo format of Rope Trick and the rough edges the demo provides. But listening to the rollout of “Vivid,” which invites listeners along with its bounce of drums and flourish of almost surf-style guitar, topped by drawn-out vocals from Shome — a track that’s gradually developing but not moving slowly by any means — the experience and knowledge from each party of how the other works makes transitions like that circa three minutes in, when they switch to the starts and stops and embark on a forward build from there, is what’s making the whole thing go. It’s no less true on “Soothsayer” or “Comedown,” and especially as their first outing, it’s a crucial component that one hopes will continue to be a key expression of the band as they move on from here in developing the ebbs and flows like that which bring “Vivid” to a standstill in its second half only to have it rise again and drive more intensely toward its conclusion; jazzy, loose-swinging, but never without a sense of direction behind it. Maybe even a little funky? Maybe.

To go with the debut demo release of Red TapesRope Trick are announcing tour dates on both coasts. They’ll be joined on the stints by It’s Not Night: It’s Space and River Cult and Darsombra, so good company kept all around, and you’ll find the dates included under the player below, by means of which you can hear the premiere of “Vivid” now.

I hope you enjoy:

rope trick tour dates

ROPE TRICK has put out a demo dubbed “Red Tapes” and announced US tour dates for Spring 2017. They are looking for a label to sign their first album and have ambitions to tour Europe as well as Asia in the Summer.

They have an East Coast US tour coming up in January with It’s Not Night It’s Space, an East Coast US tour in the works for March, and a West Coast tour in April.

JANUARY
01/04 – Boston MA, O’Brien’s*
01/05 – Dover NH, Needful Things*
01/06 – Poughkeepsie NY, Darkside Records**
01/07 – Brooklyn NY, Cobra Club**
01/08 – Providence RI, Aurora**
01/14 – Providence RI, AS220 – Live Film Scoring Festival
01/15 – Philadelphia PA, Kung Fu Necktie*
*w/ It’s Not Night: It’s Space
**w/ It’s Not Night: It’s Space + River Cult

MARCH-APRIL
03/23 – Boston, MA (TBC)
03/24 – Northampton, MA (TBC)
03/25 – Montreal, QC, CAN (TBC)
03/30 – Providence RI, AS220*
03/31 – Brooklyn NY (TBC)*
04/01 – Philadelphia PA, Kung Fu Necktie*
04/02 – Baltimore MD (TBC)*
04/14 – Seattle WA (TBC)
04/15 – Portand OR, High Water Mark
04/16 – Eugene OR, Old Nick’s
04/18 – Sacramento (TBA)
04/20 – Oakland CA, Golden Bull
04/21-22 – Los Angeles CA (TBA)
*w/ darsombra

Rope Trick is:
Indrayudh Shome: guitar + vocal
Nathanael Totushek: drums

Rope Trick on Bandcamp

Rope Trick on Thee Facebooks

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