Posted in Whathaveyou on January 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
San Diego-based trio Heavy Glow will have a new album out this year on Purge Records. To herald its coming as the follow-up to 2011′s MidnightMoan, the band have a new 7″ ready and they’ll be taking off on a 15-date West Coast tour starting next Thursday, with Michael Amster of Blaak Heat Shujaa filling in on drums.
As science has proven time and again, people who go to shows in January rule. Here’s the info:
Heavy Glow is officially announcing the following West Coast U.S. Tour Dates in support of an upcoming 7″ Vinyl Release. They will be joined by Michael Amster of Tee Pee Record’s recording group Blaak Heat Shujaa:
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Classic rocking troublemakers Radio Moscow are headed back to Europe at the end of January. For the month-plus run, the trio led by guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs will once more be given psychedelic visual accompaniment by Mad Alchemy and the tour also marks the return of drummer Paul Marrone alongside Griggs and bassist Billy Ellsworth.
Radio Moscow also have a new 7″ single past the mixing stage that’s set to feature the songs “Rancho Tehama Airport” and “Sweet Little Thing,” which they’ll also reportedly be bringing with them on the road. Here’s the latest and the dates so far from their Thee Facebooks:
European 2013 winter tour dates so far! Gonna be an awesome tour with our buddy Paul Marrone back on drums, the brand new “Rancho Tehama Airport” single ready just in time and an awesome liquid light show from Mad Alchemy!
28/01/13 Bordeaux, France @ Rocher De Palmer w/The Datsuns 30/01/13 Porto, Portugal @ the Hard Club 31/01/13 Madrid, Spain @ La Boite 01/02/13 Bilbao, Spain @ kafe antzokia 02/02/13 Barcelona, Spain @ Apolo 2 03/02/13 TBA 04/02/13 TBA 05/02/13 TBA 07/02/13 Montpellier, France @ TAF/Secret Place 08/02/13 Angouleme, France @ La Nef 09/02/13 Sainte-Brieuc, France @ La Citrouille 10/02/13 Le Havre, France @ Mac Daid’s 11/02/13 TBA 12/02/13 Arlon, Belgium @ L’Entrpot 13/02/13 Nijmegen, Netherlands @ Merejin 14/02/13 Charleroi, Belgium @ Le Vecteur 15/02/13 Leeuwarden, Netherlands @ Podium Asteriks 16/02/13 Deventer, Netherlands @ Burgerweeshuis 17/02/13 Lille, France @ La Boite a Musique 19/02/13 Paris, France @ Nouveau Casino 20/02/13 Lyon, France TBA 21/02/13 Geneve, Switzerland @ L’Usine 22/02/13 Lucerne, Switzerland @ Freibhum 23/02/13 Antwerpen, Belgium @ Trix 24/02/13 TBA 25/02/13 TBA 26/02/13 TBA 27/02/13 Savona, Italy @ Reins Club 28/02/13 Rome, Italy @ INIT 01/03/13 Bologna, Italy @ Covo Club 02/03/13 TBA 04/03/13 TBA Turkey 05/03/13 TBA Turkey 06/03/13 TBA Turkey 07/03/13 TBA Turkey 08/03/13 TBA Greece 09/03/13 TBA Greece
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
The first time I listened to Astra‘s The Black Chord (review here) was on the plane over to see Desertfest in London and Roadburn this year, and I think probably as a result of that, I’ll always associate the album with the feeling of ascending, climbing into the sky and watching the ground recede below. I like that about the album, and I think the San Diego outfit’s multifaceted approach is suited to that wide open sensibility and the feeling that at any minute it can all come crashing down. Lush but still ultimately fragile.
Word just came down that Astra will make their second Roadburn appearance in 2013 as part of the Afterburner, for which tickets are still available, unlike the fest itself, which sold out within 24 hours. Check it:
Astra confirmed for Roadburn Afterburner
Roadburn are delighted to announce that San Diego’s psychedelic / progressive rock outfit Astra, will return to Roadburn on Sunday, April 21th (The traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
Deeply influenced by the European prog rock bands from the 60s and 70s, Astra blew people away with their Roadburn 2010 performance in support of The Weirding (their much acclaimed debut album) released on Rise Above Records.
Astra have continued to expand their style and grow as a band — as showcased on their sophomore album, The Black Chord — by employing some impressive gear (from Mellotrons to Moogs and Oberheims, and from Hammonds to flutes and 12-string guitars) to back up their intricate songwriting.
With prog rock making its way back, we can hardly wait to welcome Astra back to Roadburn, to massage our ears with their harmonious, melodious and heavenly combination of psychedelia and progressive rock.
Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. Tickets for the Afterburner are still available!
Posted in Reviews on April 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
With critics and listeners seemingly already in their corner, San Diego classic space/prog five-piece Astra make a Moog-heavy sophomore outing in the form of The Black Chord. Astra won many ears to their side with 2009’s Rise Above debut, The Weirding (review here), on which they offset retro King Crimson-style melodies with a sense of modern urgency that indeed also shows up throughout the six tracks of the second album. It’s Astra’s balance of old and new that makes their recorded output so fascinating, and as the US has become even more enamored of all things taggable as progressive and/or psychedelic in the last three years – at least in an underground sense – The Black Chord arrives at just the right time and in just the right place for the band to be able to make the most of their songwriting. A returning lineup of Richard Vaughan (vocals/guitar/Moog/mellotron), Conor Riley (mellotron/Moog/organ/piano/vocals), David Hurley (drums/percussion/flute), Brian Ellis (Moog/lead guitar) and Stuart Sclater (bass) is tighter and shows significant growth from the first album, which is appropriate given that in progressive rock one expects a certain amount of progress. That comes in part in the confidence and clarity with which they now handle the melodies, and where The Weirdingfelt at times like it was trying to throw everything at you all at once, The Black Chord is more patient in its execution and all the more majestic-sounding for that.
In addition, The Black Chord clocks in at a vinyl-ready 47 minutes, where The Weirding topped more than a full hour, so that also lets the songs establish more of their own character without overwhelming a listener’s attention, however fickle it may or may not be. With heavy emphasis on their keys – the Moogs, mellotrons, organs and piano are as much if not more essential to Astra’s sound here as the two guitars – and a solid rhythm section in Sclater and Hurley, The Black Chord is overall striking in its cohesion and flow between songs. Side A is comprised of instrumental opener “Cocoon” (8:43) and the title-track (14:58), which between the two of them account for half the album’s runtime and much of its breadth. One expects from the grandeur with which “Cocoon” gradually unfolds that Astra’s self-indulgence is perhaps going to take over and rule the material, but though both the guitars and the keys enjoy movements of prominence, those come largely in service to the songs themselves rather than any show of technicality. The opener’s groove gradually speeds up, carried forward by the guitar and a synth line of building intensity, but Sclater’s bass maintains a casual feel even as a chase ensues. That’s the first of Astra’s several visits to the Court of the Crimson King on The Black Chord, but they’re likewise enamored of Floyd and that comes through in some of the quieter stretches of the title cut.
Relatively speaking, it’s not long before the vocals kick in on “The Black Chord,” topping piano and bass and establishing a verse progression that’s among the album’s best. At just under 15 minutes, “The Black Chord” is the record’s longest song by more than five, and has a scope to match, showing some eclecticism in its rhythmic bounce – the sounds and jazzy pops of Hurley’s drums account for a decent amount of King Crimson comparisons in themselves – but it’s still the melodies, sudden stops and semi-blown-out “21st Century Schizoid Man”-style vocals that drive the point home. As much as they’ve clearly taken influence from those first couple Crimson records, though, it’s important to note that Astra have worked those elements into something their own even more so on The Black Chord than on The Weirding, a guitar-led passage giving way to an organ solo backed by mellotron washes and a tradeoff between players that’s smooth and natural-sounding. A large instrumental “break” accounts for much of “The Black Chord”’s sprawl, but perhaps in a mode more conscious of their audience, Astra return to the verse and sweet key bounce before developing a kind of routed jam that carries through the last four minutes with a build and payoff worthy of closing out the first half that continues its momentum in the opening “Quake Meat,” which begins to set the tone of side B’s methodology of shorter tracks and a crisper approach of conveying musical ideas. At 6:40, it’s extended compared to some other bands, but in relation to what’s preceded on The Black Chord, it’s practically a radio single.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kudos to San Diego retro prog weirdos Astra for going with an orange color scheme. The Frippertastic mellotron-loving five-piece will release their new album, The Black Chord, on March 27 via Rise Above/Metal Blade, and have made available the new track “Quake Meat” for high-def YouTube streaming. Check it out, followed by a little hot PR wire lovin’:
The new track from The Black Chord, “Quake Meat,” can be heard now over at metalblade.com/astra. The Black Chord will be available in North America on March 27. Astra will be hosting an album release show in San Diego on March 16. The show will be at The Casbah with DeadMeadow, TheLoons and Joy. The show will also feature visuals by Operation: Mindblown. For more info, check out astratheband.com.
Posted in audiObelisk on January 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
With riffs for a week and a ’70s-boobage EP cover that’s bound to get them in trouble on one or all social media networking sites, San Diego trio Ride the Sun are flying high the flag of genuine stoner rock. Hard not to dig into their debut Ride the Sun EP. I bought some mp3s from the Doommantia store (kinda thought I was buying a disc, but for $5, I’ll take what I can get), and while that puts it in the “not gonna review this” pile, I still wanted to give interested parties a chance to listen and check out a band who are clearly worth the time.
Fortunately, Ride the Sun has posted the whole EP on their Bandcamp site. In the spirit of spreading the word and blogaraderie, here’s Ride the Sun‘s Ride the Sun EP.
Posted in On the Radar on September 28th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
How there wasn’t already a band called Ride the Sun before these San Diego stoner bruisers came along, I’ll never know, but I guess they hit on the right niche name-wise. Guitarist/vocalist Lydell A. seems to have a streak going in that regard, as he was in Countach and Red Desert while living in Minnesota. Given his proclivity toward all things sandy and expansive, I’m sure he’s more at home in San Diego, which may not be Indio, but is sure as shit a lot closer in both climate and proximity than Minneapolis.
You may have heard the name Ride the Sun in association with the Doom in June fest that happened earlier this year (I think it was sometime around April…). The band play a straightforward and heavy style of stoner rock. The desert’s definitely an influence — you can hear no shortage of Kyuss influence in Lydell‘s vocals — but musically they’re more in line with early Fireball Ministry. Big guitar, big bass, big drums. Their self-titled EP is available for previewing on MySpace in suitable preview quality, and though the digital hypercompression makes some of Dominic Caltagirone‘s drum sounds hard to take and Kip Page‘s bass just hard to find, songs like “Livin’ Wrong” and “Compadre” should still give some idea of what Ride the Sun is all about: the rock, by all accounts.
They recently took part in the praiseworthy Cowbells and Cobwebs compilation from Planetfuzz, and their Ride the Sun EP is available now on something called iTunes (never heard of it). As they’ve already played what’s arguably the biggest American stoner fest of the year, I don’t know when we’ll be hearing from Ride the Sun again, but from what I can tell of these five tracks, they’re definitely worth keeping on the radar for the days you’re feeling like something extra-beardly but still accessible.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
My theory on San Diego/Tee Pee Records epic instrumental rockers Earthless is they play the parts of the ’70s live jam everyone liked best. You know the part where “the song” was like half an hour ago and the band has gone totally apeshit on one guitar solo for like 15 minutes, Dio has left the stage and Ritchie Blackmore looks like the muse just gave him brain damage? Yeah, that’s where Earthless live pretty much all the time. Only thing is the song never kicks back in and Earthless just keep jamming. Forever. That’s how they do, and apparently, they’re about to head over and do it in Europe. Quoth the PR wire:
Earthless are set to kick off a two week tour with Russian Circles! The band will also be performing at the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, Holland.
Earthless w/ Russian Circles
Apr 6 Hafenklang – Hamburg, Germany
Apr 7 Patronaat – Haarlem, Holland
Apr 8 Thekla – Bristol, UK
Apr 9 Brudenell – Leeds, UK
Apr 10 Captain’s Rest – Glasgow, UK
Apr 11 Islington Mill – Manchester, UK
Apr 12 Rock City Basement – Nottingham, UK
Apr 13 Underworld – London, UK
Apr 15 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, NL
Apr 16 Impetus Days Festival – Lausanne, Switzerland
Apr 17 Sidecar – Barcelona, Spain
Posted in Reviews on June 26th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
Any fans of King Crimson‘s earliest days and/or the modern mellotron antics of Steven Wilson-era Opeth or Belgian rockers Hypnos 69‘s extra-proggy last record, The Eclectic Measure, will want to catch up with San Diego retro prog (henceforth to be referred to as “reprog” in these pages) containment unit Astra. Their shroomy Rise Above Records debut, The Weirding is a sweetly melodic, intricately-arranged excursion into the ’70s when the ’70s were young and the excesses arena rock had yet to take hold. There are some heavier moments peppered in the longer tracks, mostly arriving after sizeable buildups, but even so, it’s countryside prog all the way.
The five-piece (I can’t even remember the last time I wrote about a band with that many people in it on this site) outfit capture a specific moment in the development of their genre, when certain among the set of acid rockers decided that simply wasn’t smart enough for them, made a left turn and landed square in the midst of technically proficient psychedelic self-indulgence. Guitarists Richard Vaughan (also vocals, mellotron and echoplex), Conor Riley (also vocals, mellotron, “arp odyssey” and organ) and Brian Ellis (also vocals and moog) don’t go overly tech in their six-string work, but Astra, with their abundance of synth atmosphere and encompassing, engaging sound, could easily fall into the category of a kitchen-sink kind of band.
Posted in Reviews on May 22nd, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
Heavy on the noise, heavy on the proclamations, heavy on the vocals and just plain heavy, the self-released (through their Black Rabbit Rebellion imprint) third album from The Long and Short of It, Caw!: An Unkindness of Ravens follows a path of classic hardcore abrasiveness from its very first second, in which singer Ben Johnson (also of Hostile Comb-Over) — who spends much of his time so prominent in the mix that it’s hard to hear what’s going on behind him — demands to know, “Hey, are you receiving me?!”
Loud and clear, buddy.
His band’s transmissions emanating from San Diego with a specifically West Coast skatepunk mentality, Johnson is a creature sans subtlety. Most vocalists sing on disc and front on stage, but there’s no doubt about who’s fronting The Long and Short of It here. The riffs behind him would stand out with a Helmet kind of memorability, delivered in palettes from guitarist Matthew Strachota, but like a younger Jello Biafra less concerned with being annoying than being heard, Johnson is never dominated in the mix. His vocals stand separate from the rest of the band and the music becomes a backdrop for his wordy (which I can appreciate) ranting.