The Legendary Flower Punk Announce Spring European Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Psych-prog weirdos The Legendary Flower Punk will head out in April on a tour through Germany, the Czech Republic, and, well, more Germany. There’s a date in Poland and a date in Lithuania, but clearly the target here is German territory, and that’s fair enough, since their new album, Wabi Wu (review here), is due to release Feb. 21 through Tonzonen, which is based there. The band have a few shows in their native Russia booked as well, and they’ll be back through Poland on the way to Germany once more in August, this time to play the Aquamaria Festival. I wouldn’t be surprised if more touring surfaced around that appearance either, but then, I also wouldn’t be surprised if The Legendary Flower Punk put out another record this year, because being unpredictable is kind of how they do. They’re good at it.

There was a live video premiered here a little while back for the Wabi Wu title-track, but they’re also streaming the studio album in its entirety as of late last year, so I’ve included both below, because being thorough is how I do. I’m not as good at it as they are at being unpredictable, but I try.

From the PR wire:

the legendary flower punk

Psychedelic Rockers THE LEGENDARY FLOWER PUNK Announce European Live Dates!

New Album Wabi Wu out 21 February.

Started in 2012 as an obscure side project of Kamille Sharapodinov (guitarist of established Russian heavy psych proggers The Grand Astoria), The Legendary Flower Punk quickly became a beast of its own. The band mixes psychedelia, space rock, funky fusion and electronics in a joyful manner like no one else in the scene. Krautrock, Japanoise, and Jazz are also no stranger words in the vocabulary of the band.

The Legendary Flower Punk knows no boundaries. The unique sound of the Russian trio combines pure Psychedelic Rock with classic Prog Rock elements.

To celebrate the brilliant varied and exciting mix that is Wabi Wu, The Legendary Flower Punk is out in clubs to play it live on these dates:

15.03.2020 – “Les”, St.Petersburg (RU)
09.04.2020 – “Empty Brain Resort”, Vilnius (LT)
10.04.2020 – “2Kola”, Warsaw (PL)
11.04.2020 – “Tief”, Berlin (DE)
12.04.2020 – “KuZe”, Potsdam (DE)
13.04.2020 – “Werft”, Dresden (DE)
14.04.2020 – “Klubovna”, Prague (CZ)
17.04.2020 – “Divadlo Pod Lampou”, Plzen (CZ)
18.04.2020 – “P8”, Karlsruhe (DE)
19.04.2020 – “Space Meduza”, Berlin (DE)
20.04.2020 – “Anemone Studio Session”, Halle (DE)
22.04.2020 – “Dirty Dancing”, Osnabruck (DE)
23.04.2020 – “Potemkin”, Bielefeld (DE)
24.04.2020 – “Ruinebauer”, Bremen (DE)
25.04.2020 – “Sputnikhalle”, Munster (DE)
26.04.2020 – “Bar 227”, Hamburg (DE)
16.05.2020 – “Solar Systo Festival, St.Petersburg (RU)
28.05.2020 – “Massolit”, Moscow (RU)
29.05.2020 – “Papin Garage”, Yaroslavl (RU)
07.08.2020 – “Amore del Tropico”, Poznan (PL)
08.08.2020 – “Aquamaria Festival”, Plattenburg (DE)

https://www.facebook.com/thelegendaryflowerpunk
https://thelegendaryflowerpunk.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Tonzonen/
https://www.instagram.com/tonzonenrecords/
https://www.tonzonen.de

The Legendary Flower Punk, Wabi Wu (2020)

The Legendary Flower Punk, “Wabi Wu” live at Galernaya 20

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Quarterly Review: Mos Generator, Psychic Lemon, Planet of Zeus, Brass Hearse, Mother Turtle, The Legendary Flower Punk, Slow, OKO, Vug, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to hope y’all know the drill by now. It’s the Quarterly Review. We do it (roughly) every quarter. The idea is 10 reviews per day for a Monday to Friday span, running 50 total. I sometimes do more. Sometimes not. Kind of depends on the barrage and how poorly I’ve been doing in general with keeping up on stuff. This time is ‘just’ 50, so there you go. You’ll see some bigger names this week and some stuff that’s come my way of late that I’ve been digging and wanting to check out. It’s a lot of rock, which I like, and a few things I’m writing about basically as a favor to myself because, you know, self-care and all that.

But staring down the barrel of 50 reviews over the next few days has me as apprehensive and how-the-hell-is-this-gonna-happen as ever, so I think I’ll just get to it and jump in. No time to waste.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Mos Generator, Exiles

mos generator exiles

Worth it just for the Sabbath cover? Most definitely. As Mos Generator take on “Air Dance” from Never Say Die as part of the Glory or Death Records LP compilation release, Exiles, they blend the proggy swagger of later-’70s Iommi leads with the baseline acoustic guitar fluidity that makes those final Ozzy-era records so appealing in hindsight. It’s just one of the six reasons to take on Exiles however. The A side comprises three outtakes from 2018’s Shadowlands (review here), and guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed‘s Big Scenic Nowhere bandmate Bob Balch sits in on “Battah,” while a duly manic reworking of Van Halen‘s “Light up the Sky,” the Black Sabbath track and a live version of Rush‘s “Anthem” from 2016 make up side B. It’s a quick listen and it’s Mos Generator. It may be a stopgap on the way to whatever they’re doing next, but if you think about it, so is everything, and that’s no reason not to jump in either for the covers or the originals, both of which are up to the band’s own high standard of output.

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

 

Psychic Lemon, Freak Mammal

psychic lemon freak mammal

The distorted wails of Andy Briston‘s guitar echo out of Freak Mammal — the five-track/46-minute third LP from London’s Psychic Lemon — like a clarion to the lysergic converted. A call to prayer for those worshiping the nebulous void, not so much kept to earth by Andy Hibberd‘s bass and Martin Law‘s drums as given a solidified course toward the infinite far out. Of course centerpiece “Afrotropic Bomb” digs into some Ethiopian groove — that particular shuffling mania — and I won’t take away from the lower buzz of “Free Electron Collective” or the tense hi-hat cutting through all that tonal wash or the ultra-spaced blowout that caps six-minute finale “White Light,” but give me the self-aware mellower jaunt that is the 13-minute second track “Seeds of Tranquility” any day, following opener “Dark Matter” as it does with what would be a blissful drift but for the exciting rhythmic work taking place beneath the peaceful guitar, and the later synthesized voices providing a choral melody that seems all the more playfully grandiose, befitting the notion of Freak Mammal as a ceremony or at very least some kind of lost ritual. Someday they’ll dig up the right pyramid and call the aliens back. Until then, Psychic Lemon let us imagine what might happen after they return.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Drone Rock Records website

 

Planet of Zeus, Faith in Physics

PLANET OF ZEUS FAITH IN PHYSICS

There’s a context of social commentary to Planet of ZeusFaith in Physics that makes one wonder if perhaps the title doesn’t refer to gravity in terms of what-goes-up-must-come-down as it might apply to class hierarchy. The mighty, ready to fall, and so on. Songs like the post-Clutch fuzz roller “Man vs. God” and “Revolution Cookbook” (video premiere here) would seem to support that idea, but one way or the other, as the later “Let Them Burn” digs into a hook that reminds of Killing Joke and the dense bass of eight-minute closer “King of the Circus” provides due atmospheric madness for our times, there’s a sense of grander statement happening across the album. The Athens-based outfit make a centerpiece of the starts and stops in “All These Happy People” and remind that whatever the message, the medium remains top quality heavy rock and roll songcraft, which is something they’ve become all the more reliable to deliver. The more pointed perspective than they showed on 2016’s Loyal to the Pack suits them, but it’s the nuance of electronics and arrangements of vocals and guitar on cuts like “The Great Liar” that carry them through here. If you believe in gravity, Planet of Zeus have plenty on offer.

Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brass Hearse, Oneiric Afterlife

brass hearse oneiric afterlife

Experimentalist keyboard-laced psychedelic goth your thing? Well, of course it is. You’re in luck then as Brass Hearse — an offshoot of once madly prolific Boston outfit Ice Dragon — unveil three new songs (plus an intro) with the Oneiric Afterlife and in 10 minutes work to unravel about 30 years of genre convention while still tying their material to memorable hooks. “Bleed Neon,” “Indigo Dust” and “Only Forever” seem simple on the surface, and none of them touch four minutes long, let alone “A Gesture to Make a Stop,” the 26-second introduction, but their refusal of stylistic constraint is as palpable as it is admirable, with a blend of folk guitar and dark-dance-party keys and percussive insistence on “Bleed Neon” and a ’60s Halloweeny rock organ line in “Only Forever” that’s complemented by low-end fuzz and a chorus that would rightly embarrass Ghost if they heard it. In comparison, “Indigo Dust” is serene in its presentation, but even there is a depth of arrangement of keys, guitar, bass and drums, and the skill tying it all together as a cohesive sound is not to be understated. A quick listen with a lot to unpack, it’s not going to be everyone’s thing, but those who get it will be hit hard and rightly so.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Brass Hearse on Bandcamp

 

Mother Turtle, Three Sides to Every Story

mother turtle three sides to every story

The first of three tracks on Greek progwinders Mother Turtle‘s fourth LP, Three Sides to Every Story, “Zigu Zigu,” would seem to cap with a message of congratulations: “You’ve listened to three musicians indulging themselves with some kind of weird instrumental music.” It then goes on to question its own instrumentalism, because it has the words presently being spoken, continuing in this manner until a long fadeout of guitar leads to the funky start of the 15-minute-long “Notwatch.” Good fun, in other words. Mother Turtle maybe aren’t so weird as they think they are, but they are duly adventurous and obviously joyful in their undertaking, bringing chants in over drifting guitar and synth swirl in “Notwatch” before building to a crescendo of rock guitar and organ, ultimately dominated by a solo as it would almost have to be, before intertwining piano lines in 16:46 closer “A Christmas Postcard from Kim” lead to further shenanigans, vocal experimentation, plays on metal, holiday shimmer, and a fade into the close. At 38 minutes, Three Sides to Every Story doesn’t at all overstay its welcome, but neither is it an exercise looking for audience engagement in the traditional sense. Rather, it resonates its glee through its offbeat sensibility and thus works on its own level to craft a hook. One can’t help but smile while listening to the fun being had.

Mother Turtle on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

The Legendary Flower Punk, Wabi Wu

The Legendary Flower Punk Wabi Wu

It is something to consider, perhaps as you dive into the nine-minute “Prince Mojito” on The Legendary Flower Punk‘s Wabi Wu, that the band started as a psych-folk solo-project. Currently working as a core trio plus a range of guests, the Russian troupe make their debut on Tonzonen with the brazenly prog seven-tracker, totaling just a 44-minute run but with a range that would seem to be much broader. Alternately jazzy and synth-laden, technically intricate but never overly showy, pieces like the bass-led “Azulejo” and the penultimate “Trance Fusion På Ryska” present a meeting of the minds with founding guitarist Kamille Sharapodinov at the center of most compositions, he and bassist Mike Lopakov and drummer Nick Kunavin digging into nothing’s-off-limits textures from fusion onward through New Wave and dub. The abiding rule followed seems to be whatever moves the band about a given track is what they roll with, and though The Legendary Flower Punk has evolved well beyond its origins, there’s still a bit of flower and still a bit of punk amid all the legends being made. Good luck keeping up with it.

The Legendary Flower Punk on Bandcamp

Tonzonen Records website

 

Slow, VI – Dantalion

Slow VI Dantalion

With the follow-up to 2018’s V – Oceans (review here), Belgian duo Slow rattle off another 78 minutes of utterly consuming, crushing, atmospheric and melancholic funeral doom like it’s absolutely nothing. Well, not like it’s nothing — more like it’s a weight on their very soul — but even so. Issued through Aural Music, VI – Dantlion brings the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist/drummer Déhà and bassist/lyricist Lore B. once again into the grueling, megalithic churn of self-inflicted riff-punishment that’s so encompassing, so dark, so deep and so dramatic it almost can’t help but also be beautiful. To wit, second track “Lueur” is a 17-minute downward journey into ambient brutalism, yet as it moves toward the midsection one can still hear melodic elements of keyboard and orchestral sounds peaking through. There is letup in the lush finale “Elégie,” but to get there, you have to make your way through “Incendiaire,” which is possibly the most extreme movement of the seven inclusions. Though frankly, after a while, you’re buried so far down by Slow‘s glorious miseries that it’s hard to tell. The world needs this band. They are what humanity would sound like if it was ever honest with itself.

Slow on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music on Bandcamp

 

OKO, Haze

oko haze

Adelaide, Australia, newcomers OKO present their debut EP in the form of Haze, a 14:44 single-song outing that sees the instrumental three-piece of guitarist Nick Nancarrow, bassist Tyson Ruch and drummer Ash Matthews tap into organic heavy psych vibes while working cross-planet with Justin Pizzoferrato (known for his work with Elder, among others) on the mix and master. The resulting one-tracker has a clarity in its drum sound and clean feel that one suspects might speak of more progressive intentions on the part of OKO in the longer term, but as they are here they have a sense of tonal warmth that serves them well across the unpretentious span of “Haze” itself, the winding riff inevitably bringing to mind some of Colour Haze‘s jammier work but still managing to find its own direction. I hear no reason OKO can’t do the same, regardless of the influences they’re working under in terms of sound. Further, the longform modus suits them, and while future work will inherently develop some variety in general approach, the natural exploration they undertake on this first outing easily holds attention for its span and is fluid enough that, had they wanted, they could have pushed it further.

OKO on Thee Facebooks

OKO website

 

Vug, Onyx

vug onyx

Vug are not the first European heavy rock band to blend vintage methods with modern production. They’re not the first band to take classic swagger and drum urgency and meld it with a pervasive sense of vocal soul. I’m not sure I’d tell them that though, because frankly, they’re doing pretty well with it. At its strongest, their Tonzonen-released sophomore outing, Onyx, recalls Thin Lizzy via, yes, Graveyard, but there’s enough clarity of intention behind the work to make it plain they know where they’re coming from. Such was the case as well with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and though they’ve had some lineup turnover since that first offering, the self-produced four-piece bring a character to their material on songs like “Tired Of” and the penultimate boogier “Inferno” before closing with the acoustic “Todbringer” — a mirror of side A’s “On My Own” — that they carry the classic-style 39-minute long-player off without a hitch, seeming to prep the heavy ’10s for a journey into a new decade.

Vug on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Ultracombo, Season 1

Ultracombo Season 1

As the title hints, the Season 1 EP is the debut from Italy’s Ultracombo, and with it, the five-piece of vocalist Alessio Guarda, guitarists Alberto Biasin and Giordano Tasson, bassist Giordano Pajarin and drummer Flavio Gola work quickly to build the forward momentum that brings them front-to-back through the 23-minute five-track release. “Flusso” and opener “The King” feel particularly drawn from an earlier Truckfighters influence, but Guarda‘s vocals are a distinguishing factor amidst all that ensuing fuzz and straight-ahead drive, and in “Sparatutto” and the closer “Il Momento in Cui Non Penso,” they seem to strip their approach to its most basic aspects and bring together the tonal thickness and melodicism that’s been at root in their sound overall. The subtlety, such as it is, is to be found in their songwriting, which results in tracks that transcend language barriers through sheer catchiness. That bodes better for them on subsequent outings better than a wall o’ fuzz ever could, though of course that doesn’t hurt them either, especially their first time out.

Ultracombo on Thee Facebooks

Ultracombo on Bandcamp

 

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The Legendary Flower Punk Premiere “Wabi Wu” Live Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the-legendary-flower-punk

What began as a side-project from The Grand Astoria‘s Kamille Sharapodinov has and clearly still is expanding, as The Legendary Flower Punk has gone from exploring hippie psych textures to full-band-and-then-some progressive space rock. This Fall, the outfit will release Wabi Wu through Tonzonen Records, the follow-up to 2016’s Zen Variations, which will feature not only Sharapodinov and Michail Lopakov, who founded the project together, but a range of others including a swath of guests on keys and other arrangement elements. I haven’t heard the full thing yet — I don’t even know if it’s done — but they’ve got a live-in-studio video of the band as a four-piece playing the instrumental title-track “Wabi Wu,” and it sounds pretty awesome as far as album-teasers go.

You ever want to see what a locked-in band looks like? Just watch The Legendary Flower Punk play “Wabi Wu” in this clip. They’re not putting on a show. There’s no audience. This is just about four players in the room, facing each other, headphones on, experiencing the joy of something they’re making together. As regards the video, it’s a little unclear at first where Sharapodinov is in relation to the rest of the band, but it works out sooner or later, and indeed, it’s everybody just playing through the song. But look at their faces as they go. They’re concentrating, to be sure, but they’re also having an absolute blast. It makes the funky prog groove that much more infectious to see them so dug into it, and it’s an utter pleasure to watch someone so much enjoy what they’re doing. If you were going to be in a band, you would want to feel this way about it.

I don’t know how much “Wabi Wu” will ultimately speak for the album that bears its name when that arrives, but its sub-seven-minute uptempo push is right on and ready for digging, so do like they’re doing and enjoy it for what it is. When I hear more about the album release, I’ll post accordingly.

“Wabi Wu” was filmed at Galernaya 20 Studio in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Have fun:

The Legendary Flower Punk, “Wabi Wu” live at Galernaya 20 premiere

Filmed on 17.01.2019 at Galernaya 20 studio by Julia Melikhova.
Live version from the album “Wabi Wu”
To be out in November 2019 via Tonzonen Records (Germany).

The Legendary Flower Punk on Thee Facebooks

The Legendary Flower Punk on Bandcamp

Tonzonen Records on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records on Instagram

Tonzonen Records website

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Weltesser to Release Crestfallen Jan. 27 on Prosthetic Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The lumbercrush of Weltesser‘s aptly-titled Demo tape has been sold out since I don’t know how long from its 2015 release, but the news that the cave-echoing Floridian trio have been picked up by Prosthetic Records to release their impending debut album, Crestfallen, in January, wants little for justification. One can imagine the wash of low end from “Rats” or “Hate Worshiper” filling any number of small rooms throughout the unsuspecting Southeast over the last couple years and demolishing what a given audience might’ve thought they were getting from a live set, and as Prosthetic continues to wade into things slow and low — see also Spirit Adrift, past rockin’ experience with The Tower, Castle, and so on — the Saint Petersburg three-piece bring an extremity to the mix in which they’ve not yet basked.

Stream and download that demo below, name-your-price style. Here’s the info from Prosthetic:

weltesser

PROSTHETIC RECORDS SIGNS METALLIC DOOM TRIO WELTESSER

Band announce Jan. 27 release for debut album “Crestfallen” & upcoming appearances

PROSTHETIC RECORDS are pleased to reveal the signing of metallic doom trio WELTESSER to their ever expanding roster. Fueled by sour diesel and misery, WELTESSER is comprised of Ian Hronek (Rotting Palms, Landbridge) Nate Peterson (Rotting Palms, Sky Burial) and Mike Amador (Landbridge), who formed the band in Saint Petersburg, FL over Sabbath worship and Monolord. Roughly a year after their inaugural demo release – a syrupy four track cassette – WELTESSER are excited to announce the release of their debut full-length album “Crestfallen” with PROSTHETIC RECORDS on January 27, 2017.

The band collectively commented on the signing and what to expect from their debut stating, “We are super humbled, and honestly very excited, to be working with Prosthetic. We’ve all been working very hard on our music for years. Once we all got together and started Weltesser, it was the most fluid we’ve ever played, but I think we were all pretty surprised about anyone taking interest in helping with putting out an album so early in the band’s life. “Crestfallen” is refinement and growth, we wanted to have the same depressive emotions that were in the demo, but branch out and pull some new sounds into it. Our music is very much about redundancy, not so much the repeat, just bringing you back to the same feelings from the beginning to the end. We are happy about how it came out and are excited about writing more music”

Self-produced and engineered by Dan Byers, “Crestfallen” is six tracks clocking in at 30 minutes of sickening, metallic doom. Having shared the stage with bands such as Primitive Man, The Body, Jucifer, Celeste and many more, they quickly became the go-to unsigned band in Florida for nationally touring acts. Their sound is inspired by Dystopia, His Hero is Gone, and Laudanum, lending a humble maturity beyond three years.

UPCOMING TOUR DATES
11/18-19 Saint Petersburg, FL – Destroyer Fest (w/ Cough, set and setting, Shroud Eater)
12/17-18 Orlando, FL – Florida is Loud Fest (w/ Yautja, Knife Hits)

www.facebook.com/weltesser
https://weltesser.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords
prostheticrecords.com

Weltesser, Demo (2015)

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The Grand Astoria, La Belle Epoque: Snakes in Paradise

Posted in Reviews on January 14th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the grand astoria la belle epoque

Russian heavy rockers The Grand Astoria have only gotten more progressive and more prolific. La Belle Epoque, which was released last month by Setalight Records, is their first long-player since 2013’s Punkadelica Supreme (review here) and their fifth overall, but in the time between the two albums, the Saint Petersburg-based outfit have unleashed a barrage of outings, including singles, EPs, splits and live releases, plus side-projects from guitarist/vocalist Kamille Sharapodinov (The Legendary Flower Punk) and lead guitarist Igor Suvarov (Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds). Their increasing tendency toward exploration has led them to a more metallic approach on La Belle Epoque, and what seemed on their earlier works like a defining core of stoner rock and punk has become only pieces of a puzzle to which, apparently, more is being added. Their first three records, 2009’s I (review here), 2010’s II (review here) and 2011’s Omnipresence (review here), showed an increasing tendency to look outside the band itself — a rotating lineup around Sharapodinov and Suvarov has been part of that; near as I can tell, keyboardist/floutist/vocalist/metallophonist Danila Danilov is the only other returning player from Punkadelica Supreme — and La Belle Epoque further extends that impulse stylistically. It is their proggiest work to date, though at seven-tracks/43 minutes it’s not like they’ve gotten so indulgent as to surpass an easy vinyl fit, but the range of their material and their ability to fluidly bring listeners along for the ride throughout is indicative of their growth. As much as it is exploring, La Belle Epoque is also a mature, not-at-all-confused offering.

Opener “Henry’s Got a Gun” makes a surprising first impression in calling to mind Faith No More sonically, and I find the more I listen to La Belle Epoque, the more that band fits as a comparison point. Not always in sound — The Grand Astoria aren’t limited to aping one group or genre at this point, if they ever were — but in method. The likeness comes more from the ability to translate experimental tendencies into traditional or semi-traditional forms of songwriting; that is, to take the experiment and develop it into a fully-realized song. Be it the slight country touch of guest banjo in “The Answer,” the Metallica groove early in “Gravity Bong,” the Devin Townsend-style harmonies and prog-metal range of the 14:05 “Serpent and the Garden of Eden” or the sweet melodicism of the clarinet-inclusive title-track and the brief, positive moment provided in closer “Charming,” each song offers something different, but La Belle Epoque does not overbake its ideas or push too far in one direction or another, instead keeping a balance sound-wise and through Sharapodinov and Danilov‘s vocals that guides the listener across the various movements on hand. Overarching flow winds up one of the great strengths of the CD — the vinyl presumably splits just before “Serpent and the Garden of Eden” — though that’s not really a surprise given it’s The Grand Astoria‘s fifth full-length. The tonal quality is a bit more of a surprise, the guitars having more bite and bassist Eugene Korolkov and drummer Vladimir Zinoviev following them on runs like those of “Lisbon Firstborn”‘s instrumental first half, which shifts after four minutes to an acoustic homage to Lisbon that in turn builds to organ-topped classic rock groove and soloing to finish out.

the grand astoria

In many other contexts, such shifts might come across as manic or disjointed, but by the time they get around to “Lisbon Fuzzborn,” The Grand Astoria have bent the rules far enough that they can more or less squeeze through whatever they want. Of course, at 14 minutes, “Serpent and the Garden of Eden” is a focal point, and from its grandiose opening build through the metallic tension that arises early, the tight groove, psychedelic vibe in Suvorov‘s first-half solo, and progressive changes and turns made from there on out, winding up in a second-half payoff for song and album alike, it’s a singular achievement in the band’s discography in its arrangement and execution. As an example of how far they’ve come since their debut six years ago, I don’t think there’s much more one could ask of it, though one could just as easily say the same of “La Belle Epoque” itself, which clocks in at a much shorter 3:19. So it’s not just about how they’ve written a long track, or found a metal-sounding production. It’s about how La Belle Epoque demonstrates a progression hard won through constant evolution of songwriting and work on the road. Most satisfying of all is how increasingly these elements belong solely to The Grand Astoria, and how they’ve carved an identity for themselves in their willful searching for their sound. They’re only going to keep moving forward, and while La Belle Epoque features their familiar cow-skull mascot on its cover by Sophia Miroedova, the tracks on the album itself are anything but repetitive. If anything, this is one in a series of ambitious adventures that character has had, and I’d be very surprised if it’s all that long before the next one arrives.

The Grand Astoria, La Belle Epoque (2014)

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

Setalight Records

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On the Radar: Sex Type Thing (RU)

Posted in On the Radar on February 2nd, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Not to be confused with an alternative rock band from San Francisco, the Sex Type Thing in question hail from Saint Petersburg (much different), in Russia, and play a straightforward type of heavy/stoner rock that they adopted in 2007 after years of development, lineup and style changes. Their first album, Southern Dreams from Northern Reality, came out in 2009, and in March, they’ll follow it with Checked up by Time, snippets from which are available for listening on the Bandcamp player below.

I suppose one doesn’t name a band after a Stone Temple Pilots song and not have some measure of ’90s commercial rock influence, but for anyone who’d care to visit their MySpace to hear tracks off the first album, Sex Type Thing filter any grunge leanings through a riff-heavy approach that’s aiming for something different entirely. The vocals of Michael Chigidin come across a little too forward in the mix on the older material — “Long Way Home Blues” and “Freeway Ride,” for example — but judging by the snippets, that seems to have been at least somewhat taken care of on the new cuts. Hey, at least he can sing.

Straight-ahead European-style stoner rock is nothing new by this point, but Russia‘s burgeoning scene (bands like The Re-Stoned and The Grand Astoria) is only now starting to make itself known internationally, so it’s worth a look and listen to acts like Sex Type Thing to hear what kind of influences are at work. Or, if you’d rather just groove on it, that’s fine too.

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Distorted Space and Literary Appreciation with The Grand Astoria

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

With their origins in the chilly Russian climes of Saint Petersburg, The Grand Astoria are bound to bring something unique to their take on stoner rock, and sure enough, with their appropriately-titled second offering, II (R.A.I.G.), they do just that, eschewing a fuzzy sound for a harsher, noisier distorted jamming that occasionally goes full-cosmic. While some of the material on last year’s self-released self-titled effort seemed punkish, II comes from a less hurried place and shows The Grand Astoria as unafraid to experiment within their sound, adding samples or feedback to the mostly instrumental material as a way of engaging their audience.

Immediately noticeable about II is the way it’s organized. In terms of track length, the five songs that comprise the album would make a ‘U’ were you to graph them. Opener “Enjoy the View” reaches furthest at 14:50, then the cumbersomely-named “The Inner Galactic Experience of Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath” (Plath was referenced on the self-titled as well) clocks in at 7:40. “Visit Sri Lanka” gives a Siena Root-esque moment of Subcontinental Asian influence at 2:44, then it’s back to the longer material with “Wikipedia Surfer” at 9:02 and closer “Radio Friendly Fire” at 12:18. What was behind The Grand Astoria arranging the tracks this way I don’t know, but II does have a rich and smooth flow to it and “Visit Sri Lanka” breaks up the surrounding tracks in a way as to make the second half of the album as refreshing as the first, so no complaints.

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