Brume Headed to Europe This Weekend; Playing with High on Fire and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

BRUME

San Francisco three-piece Brume hit the UK last Spring in time to play Desertfest London 2017 and toured with Gurt on that trip, so I guess everyone got along well enough since they’re doing it again. Not Desertfest, the touring part. This time it’ll be a couple shows in the Netherlands together and one at The Black Heart — which is a great place to hang out, so long as you don’t try to bring your baby — in addition to Brume appearing at a fest in Austria and playing a gig in Budapest alongside fellow Bay Area denizens High on Fire, which sounds like an utter blast. Oh, and Elephant Tree are on that Black Heart show too, so all the better. If you get to talk to them, please send my best.

Brume released their debut full-length, Rooster (review here), last year through Doom Stew and DHU Records. Dates and a couple quotes from the band follow here for your perusal:

brume european tour poster

BRUME // EUROPEAN TOUR // AUGUST // 2018

It’s tour season and we’re hitting the bricks. Austria, Budapest, Netherlands, UK. Here we come…

Susie: “Music is life. Europeans understand that better than anybody else in the world. We can’t wait to be reunited.”

Jamie: “We are crazy excited about Europe. We’ve played out a lot this year but this these dates will be the cherry on the cake and a chance to try out some new material. Getting back on stage with Gurt is always the most fun too, London will be a PARTY.”

Brume European tour:
11 – Aug / Sauzipf Rocks Festival Dobriach, Austria
12 – Aug / Durer Kert Budapest, Hungary w/ High on Fire
16 – Aug / Studio de Veste Leiden, Netherlands*
17 – Aug / Butchers Tears Amsterdam, Netherlands*
18 – Aug / The Black Heart London, UK* w/ Elephant Tree
* Dates with Gurt

Brume are:
Susie McMullin – Vocals/Bass
Jordan Perkins-Lewis – Drums
Jamie McCathie – Guitar

https://www.brumeband.com/
https://brumesf.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/brumeband/
http://brume.bigcartel.com/
https://www.doomstew.com/
http://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Brume, European tour trailer

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Quarterly Review: CHRCH, Bongripper, King Chiefs, Bonnacons of Doom, Boar, June Bug, Tired Lord, Bert, Zen Bison, Wheel in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

You know the deal by now, I’m sure: 50 reviews this week between now and Friday, in batches of 10 per day. It’s an unholy amount of music, but those who really dig in always seem to find something cool within a Quarterly Review. Frankly, with this much to choose from, I’d certainly hope so. I’m not going to delay at all, except to say thanks in advance for coming along on this one. It’s got some core-heavy and some-not-really-core-heavy stuff all bundled next to each other, so yeah, your patience is appreciated. Okay. No time like the present. Let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

CHRCH, Light Will Consume Us All

chrch light will consume us all

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the songs are long. Blah blah blah it’s heavy as whatever kind of construction equipment you could want to name. What’s even more striking about Los Angeles doomers CHRCH’s Neurot Recordings debut, Light Will Consume Us All, is the sense of atmosphere. The follow-up to 2015’s massively well-received Unanswered Hymns (review here) is comprised of three songs presented in descending time order from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Infinite” (20:41) to centerpiece “Portals” (14:50) and closer “Aether” (9:29) and it finds CHRCH refining the unremitting patience of their rollout, so that even when “Aether” explodes in its second half to charred blastbeating and abrasive screams, the ambience is still dense enough to feel it in one’s lungs. CHRCH keep up this level of progression and soon enough someone’s going to call them post-something or other. As it stands, their second album builds righteously on the achievements of their debut, and is a revelation in its bleakness.

CHRCH on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings website

 

Bongripper, Terminal

bongripper terminal

Pressed up as ever in DIY fashion, Bongripper’s Terminal presents two gargantuan slabs – one per vinyl side – that only seem to highlight the strengths in the Chicago instrumentalists’ approach. The tones are huge, the grooves nodding, the impact of each kick drum forceful. Repetition is central, that feeling of aural mass and destructiveness, but neither is Terminal – comprised of “Slow” (25:11) and “Death” (18:15) – lacking a sense of atmosphere. After 21 minutes of grueling pummel, “Slow” devolves into droning layers of noise wash and quiet guitar to finish out, and “Death” seems to hold onto an echoing lead in its closing minutes that accomplishes much the same thing in broadening the atmosphere overall. I don’t know if the two songs were composed to fit together –the titles would hint yes – but they invariably do, and as “Death” unleashes a more insistent punch before turning to a post-YOB gallop, it reconfirms Bongripper’s worship-worthy place in the stoner doom milieu, how their sound can be so familiar in its threat and yet so much their own.

Bongripper on Bandcamp

Bongripper webstore

 

King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet

King Chiefs Blue Sonnet

Born as Chiefs ahead of their 2015 debut album, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), Arizona-based four-piece King Chiefs make their own first outing in the form of the easily-digestible desert rocker Blue Sonnet (on Roosevelt Row and Cursed Tongue Records), comprised of 10 tracks running just under 40 minutes of older-school laid back heavy, swinging easy on cuts like “Surely Never” and “Drifter” while still finding some Helmeted aggressive edge in the riffs of “Slug” and “Walk the Plank.” The overarching focus is on songwriting, however, and King Chiefs hone in cleverly on ‘90s-era desert rock’s post-grunge sensibility, so that their material seems ready for an alternative radio that no longer exists. Such as it is, they do just fine without, and hooks pervade the two-guitar outfit’s material in natural and memorable fashion all the way to five-and-a-half-minute closer “Shrine of the Beholder,” which embraces some broader textures without losing the structural focus that serves so well on the songs before it.

King Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Roosevelt Row Records website

Cursed Tongue Records website

 

Bonnacons of Doom, Bonnacons of Doom

bonnacons of doom bonnacons of doom

Heavy psychedelic experimentalism pervades the Rocket Recordings-issued self-titled debut album from Liverpool collective Bonnacons of Doom, rife with tripout ritualism and exploration of sound as it is, all chasing light and getting freaky in any sense you want to read it. Five tracks, each a voyage unto itself – even the bass-fuzzy push of shortest cut “Rhizome” (5:55) is cosmos-bound – feed into the larger weirdness at play that culminates in the undulating grooves of “Plantae” (8:39), which is perhaps the most solidified cut in terms of choruses, verses, etc., but still a molten, headphone-worthy freakout that pushes the limits of psychedelia and still holds itself together. If the album was a to-do list, it would read as follows: “Eat mushrooms. Get naked. Dance around. Repeat.” Whether you do or don’t is ultimately up to you, but Bonnacons of Doom make a pretty convincing argument in favor, and I don’t generally consider myself much of a dancer. Among the most individualized psych debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

Bonnacons of Doom on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Boar, Poseidon

Boar Poseidon

Poseidon, at six songs and 39 minutes, is the second long-player from Finnish four-piece Boar. Released on vinyl with no shortage of backing — Lost Pilgrims Records, Dissonant Society, Impure Muzik, S.K.O.D., Rämekuukkeli-levyt – it hurls forth a High on Fire-informed vision of noise rock on its opening title-track only to take on a slower roll in the subsequent “Shahar’s Son” and dig into massive crashing on “12.” Using echo to add a sense of depth all the while, they scream in tradeoffs à la Akimbo and boogie in “Featherless” and seem to find a post-metallic moment on “Dark Skies” before closing with the alternately brooding and scathing “Totally out of This World,” the song sort of falling apart into the feedback and noise that ends the album. There’s a persistent sense of violence happening, but it’s as much inward as outward, and though some of Boar’s most effective moments are in that rawness, there’s something to be said for the contemplation at the outset of “Shahar’s Son” and “12” as well.

Boar on Thee Facebooks

Boar on Bandcamp

 

June Bug, A Thousand Days

June bug A Thousand Days

Seemingly unrestrained by genre, the Lille, France-based duo June BugJune on vocals and multiple instruments and Beryl on backing vocals and multiple instruments – dig into some post-punk nudge on early cut “Reasons” from their debut album, A Thousand Days (Atypeek Music) after the folkish melodies of opener “Now,” but whether it’s the fuzzy indie vibes of “Freaks” or the harmonies, electronics and acoustic guitar of “Let it Rest,” or the keyboard-handclaps, lower tones and poppish instrumental hook of centerpiece “Mama,” there’s plenty of variety throughout. What ties the differing vibes and richly nuanced approach together is the vocals, which are mostly subdued and at times hyper-stylized, but never seem to fail to keep melodicism as their central operating method. That remains true on the subdued “Does it Matter” and the beat-laden “Silenced” at the album’s finish and brings everything together with an overarching sense of joy that holds firm despite shifts in mood and approach, making the complete front-to-back listen as satisfying as it might seem all over the place.

June Bug on Thee Facebooks

Atypeek Music website

 

Tired Lord, Demo

tired lord demo

Released by the band last year, the four-song Demo by San Francisco outfit Tired Lord has been picked up for an official cassette issue through From Corners Unknown Records and will reportedly be the only release from the black metal/sludge genre-benders. Presumably that means they broke up, rather than just refuse to ever record again, though the latter possibility intrigues as well and would be meta-black metal. Spearheaded by guitarist Bryce Olson, Tired Lord effectively bring a thickness of tone to charred riffing, and a balance between screams and growls brings a cast of general extremity to the material. So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to regret their dissolution and wish they’d do a proper release. Fair enough for the brutal chug in “Serpent’s Ascent” and the 7:51 closer “Astaroth,” which one wouldn’t mind hearing fleshed out from their current form. Failing that, one of the 30 tape copies pressed of Demo seems like decent consolation. At least while they’re there for the getting and before Tired Lord go gleefully into that black metal demo tape ether where so many seem to dwell.

From Corners Unknown Records on Thee Facebooks

From Corners Unknown Records website

 

BerT, Relics from Time Zero

bert relics from time zero

Lansing, Michigan, trio BerT – bassist Phil Clark and brothers Ryan (guitar) and Rael (drums) Andrews – broke up. They even put out a posthumous rare tracks release in 2017’s The Lost Toes (review here), so what’s left? Well, another album, of course. Intended as a sequel to the sci-fi narrative of the never-released long-player Return to the Electric Church, the five-track/35-minute Relics from Time Zero is unfinished, sans vocals where they might otherwise be, and basically a look at what might’ve been had the band not dissolved. For those prior-exposed to the once-prolific heavy rock bizarros, some of the proceedings will seem familiar: riffs are plentiful and fluid in their tempo changes from driving rock to droned-out stomp, and there seems to be about 1.5 of them in the four-minute “In the Cave of the Batqueen,” so but for the fact that it’s not done, I’d just about call it business as usual for BerT. I know they’re done and all, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing these songs with some lyrics, let alone the record this one was intended to follow-up. Either way, even defunct, BerT remain on their own wavelength.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

BerT on Bandcamp

 

Zen Bison, Krautrocker

zen bison krautrocker

Classic-style heavy rock riffing pervades opener “Blow My Mind” (5:47) and the subsequent “Backseat Lovers” (5:15) – somewhere between Stubb and Radio Moscow — on Zen Bison’s debut LP, Krautrocker, but as the five-track/42-minute self-release moves into the 11-minute title-track, guitarist/vocalist Philipp Ott, bassist Steffen Fischer and drummer Martin Konopka – joined by organist Hans Kirschner and percussionist Bobby Müller –move into deeper-grooving and more psychedelic fare. That turn suits the mostly-live-recorded outfit well on the longer instrumental piece, and that leads to a side B with the likewise-sans-vocals “La Madrugada” (9:56) and the closing cover of Don Nix’s blues rocker “Going Down” (10:24), jammed out at the end in its middle and end with quick return to the chorus between. There isn’t much on Krautrocker one might actually consider krautrock in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly plenty of rock to go around on the impressive and varied first offering from the Rostock trio.

Zen Bison on Thee Facebooks

Zen Bison on Bandcamp

 

Wheel in the Sky, Beyond the Pale

wheel in the sky beyond the pale

From opener “Rivers of Dust” onward, Wheel in the Sky’s second album, Beyond the Pale (on The Sign Records), proffers classy and classic digs, informed by a heavy ‘70s uptempo spirit on its title-track and moving into more complex volume and arrangement shifts in “Burn Babylon Burn” (video premiere here) and a poppy, goth-informed hook on “The Only Dead Girl in the City,” all the while held together through a quality of songwriting that even the band’s 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), seemed to hint toward. It’s a mover, to be sure, but Wheel in the Sky execute their material with poise and a sense of clear intention, and no matter where they seem to go, their tonality and natural production assures the listener has an easy time tagging along. Might be a sleeper for some, but there are going to be people who really, really dig this album, and I’ve got no argument with them.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records website

 

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Acid King Announce Northeastern Shows in Philly and Brooklyn

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Hell’s bells, I know you don’t need me to tell you to go see Acid King whenever you get the chance. You already know that. Still, isn’t it all the more worth reinforcing the point when the long-running San Fran trio are coming east for all of two — count ’em: one, two — shows at the end of this month? And sure, their dates at new hotspot The Kingsland and prior-established hotspot Kung Fu Necktie happen to coincide with the same two nights Sleep will be in Brooklyn, but seriously, what the hell? You go to one one night and the other the other. It’s called logistics. I’m not making this shit up.

Acid King, with the new, partially-not-new lineup of founding guitarist/vocalist Lori S., returning bassist Rafa Martinez (see also: Black Cobra‘s drum madness) and drummer Bil Bowman will also head out on a tour of the Southwest as the only not-all-caps band alongside Oregonian cosmic doom forerunners YOB and L.A. doomcrafters CHRCH, and while personally I think they should change their name to ACID KING for the duration, that tour is the stuff of legend either way. Enough that I just asked The Patient Mrs. if we could fly out to Albuquerque to see it. No. No, we can’t. Nice thought though.

One is also expecting an imminent European tour announcement from Acid King, who’ve already been confirmed for Desertfest Belgium, Keep it Low and the Up in Smoke festivals this Fall in Antwerp, Munich and Pratteln, Switzerland, respectively. Worth keeping an eye out, as always.

What’s so far confirmed follows here, snagged from social media:

acid king

Acid King East Coast Shows in July! Philadelphia and New York only.

07.27 Kung Fu Necktie Philadelphia PA w/ Green Meteor
https://www.facebook.com/events/203608440235832/

07.28 The Kingsland Brooklyn NY w/ Geezer, Devoidov
https://www.facebook.com/events/522575644805795/

Yob + Acid King + CHRCH announce West/SW tour this September !

Thu 9/6 Harlow’s – Sacramento
Fri 9/7 Catalyst – Santa Cruz
Sat 9/8 Pappy & Harriet’s
Sun 9/9 Teragram Ballroom – LA
Tuesday 9/11 Hi-Dive Denver *Acid King only *
Wed 9/12 Sister – ABQ
Thu 9/13 Club Red – Phoenix
Fri 9/14 Brick By Brick – SD
Sat 9/15 Oakland Metro

Acid King is:
Lori S. – Guitar & Vocals
Rafa Martinez – Bass
Bil Bowman – Drums

www.facebook.com/AcidkingSF
www.acidking.com

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (2015)

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Grayceon, IV: The Slow Burn

Posted in Reviews on May 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

grayceon iv

I have no problem admitting when I’m a fan of a band, and I’m a fan of San Francisco trio Grayceon. In 2011, the group led by cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez Gratz — once of the vastly underrated Amber Asylum, also a contributor to Neurosis, Agalloch, Om and I don’t know how many others — released their third full-length, All We Destroy (review here; discussed here), on Profound Lore, and seven years later, it’s a record I still break out for periodic listens at least a couple times a year. Thus the prospect of a new LP from Perez Gratz, guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell was one I approached with some trepidation.

It can be difficult when you feel an attachment to a record to accept a group’s “next one.” As I put on the Translation Loss-released IV — obviously named after the Goatsnake LP (that’s a joke) — and began to make my way through opener “Sliver Moon” at the outset of an eight-song/40-minute course that moves swiftly and gracefully between head-down thrash intensity spacious post-heavy and doomed march, my concerns were as much soothed away as they were set on fire. Seven years hence (though to be fair, they had the Pearl and the End of Days EP in 2013 as well), Grayceon has returned with an album that justified the expanse of time it took for it to arrive — a blazingly progressive offering of dare-you-to-keep-up complexity that changes tempos and methods while landing memorable hooks in “Scorpion,” “Let it Go,” “Slow Burn” the closer “Dreamers” while remaining atmospheric in both its moments of intensity and slower marches.

For Jackie Perez Gratz, it’s an utter triumph of performance almost immediately. “Sliver Moon” establishes her as the driver of much of the melody throughout, and she drives counterfigures off Doyle‘s chugging riffs and meets him to join forces on winding transitional lines in a way that makes IV seem absolutely woven. The percussion opening “By-the-Wind Sailors,” handled by Pearl and Pepper Gregory in addition to Farwell sets a tense bed for the sustained cello notes and plucked guitar notes, and with a scream as it approaches the midpoint, the song bursts into one of the album’s most extreme moments, with frenetic blasting from Farwell and likewise speedy guitar and cello to match.

The lines, “We’ve had our time/Time of our lives/We’ve had our time/You and I” sound in context as though they could apply as much to a personal relationship as to that between the human species and the planet on which we live, and the chorus sprints through again before Grayceon settle into a gallop and crash into a momentary respite before the thrashing resumes to close out and lead into the immediate start of “Scorpion,” which finds a middle ground in its early going between the two sides that “By-the-Wind Sailors” seemed to offer; the cello-led metallurgy and the sections more concerned with ambient breadth and melodic storytelling.

grayceon

Upon reaching the three-minute mark, the track stops and shifts into a doomly march that carries it outward with some shifts of cello and melody. Cello as the last remaining element gives way to the quiet open of “Let it Go,” which might serve as the standout track on IV with its likewise slower march, patient delivery and memorable chorus, screams directly contradicting melodic vocals in representation of an inner emotional struggle — “let go” vs. “don’t let go” — as it relates to love itself. A mournful cello line picks up after the final chorus and leads the way out to silence and the fast, intricate picking from Doyle that begins side B with the quick intro to “Slow Burn.”

It’s here and in songs like “Dreamers” still to come that Grayceon show how dynamic they can be, not only writing one kind of song or another, loud or quiet, claustrophobic or spacious, but in putting tempo contrasts smacked against each other in a single piece. “Slow Burn’ opens from its galloping start to a crashing stomp that’s one of the record’s most fervent, and a verse that sets the stage for a slower, richly melodic apex topped with the lines, “What if you knew what you know now?/What would I have said to change your mind?/What if you knew what you know now?/What do you have to say?” that repeats with slight changes in the words but is beautiful and sweeping and painful all at the same time, cutting to an immediate, companion-feeling run of toms to start “The Point of Me,” which exhibits a depressive hopefulness in its melodic verses, and in just over three minutes, puts forth a prog-metal chug of deceptive complexity that cuts to silence as a line of sweet guitar and soothing cello start the penultimate “Pink Rose,” the vocals begging “Please mama, take me home” with subtle background voices behind the sweet and sad forward melody; the most soothing moment on IV, if still somewhat emotionally desperate.

At 2:31 and marked by its lyrical repetition, “Pink Rose” is the shortest track on IV and it gives way to silence before the angular guitar line opens “Dreamers” punctuated by drums and cut through by the cello before the three come together to charge ahead into the first verse. It will get slower as it moves toward its finish, but the crescendo of “Dreamers” happens after a long-held vocal note and the line at 4:21 “we are dreamers,” that winds down at the end like a tape running out before the guitar lurches back in to lead the cello and drums through the the last double-kick march. This instrumental progression consumes the last two minutes of “Dreamers” and ends on a long fade but a not-at-all overdone sense of fanfare.

Certainly Grayceon could’ve put one last burst into IV, but by ending as they do — dug into a groove, all three players putting in clear physical effort but not overselling it — makes IV less about any single moment and more about the affecting listening experience of the album as a whole. “Dreamers” is no less successful in this than is the entirety of IV in conveying its emotional and aural range. Seven years after All We Destroy, which seemed to mourn an entire generation’s war, IV comes through as more personal, but whether they’re looking outward or inward, Grayceon‘s work remains both poised and deeply human. I’ll look forward hopefully to whatever they do next.

Grayceon, IV (2018)

Grayceon on Thee Facebooks

Grayceon on Bandcamp

Translation Loss Records webstore

Translation Loss Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: All Them Witches, Anthroprophh, Orphan Gears, The Watchers, Grajo, Mythic Sunship, Empress, Monads, Nest, Redneck Spaceship

Posted in Reviews on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Well, we’ve reached the end of the week if not the end of the Quarterly Review itself. That’s right: after hemming and hawing all week and going back and forth in my silly little brain, I’ve decided to extend this edition to a sixth day, which will be Monday. That means 60 reviews in six days, not 50 in five. Honestly, I could probably keep going for three or four more beyond that if I had the time or inclination, and I may get there someday, but I’m definitely not there now.

But hey, there have been a couple comments left along the way, so thanks for that. I appreciate you taking the time to read if you have. Here’s the last for the week and we’ll pick back up on Monday.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

All Them Witches, Lost and Found EP

all them witches lost and found ep

If Nashville four-piece All Them Witches put together the free-download Lost and Found EP simply as a means of getting their take on the folk song “Hares on the Mountain” out there, it was worth it. In the hands of vocalist/bassist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Rhodes specialist/violinist Allan Van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler, the traditional tune becomes a wide open dronescape, bristling and vague like memory itself. It’s beautiful and a little confusing in just the right way, and it comes accompanied on the short release by the Fleetwood Mac cover “Before the Beginning,” an even-more-subdued take on “Call Me Star” from 2015’s New West Records debut, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), and a dub redux of “Open Passageways” – called, of course, “Dub Passageways” – from the same album. Might be a stopgap between full-lengths, but still, at 18 minutes, it’d make a more than worthy 10” release if they were looking for something new for the merch table.

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

 

Anthroprophh, Omegaville

anthroprophh omegaville

Next time you feel like, “Hey man, I’m so freaked out and weird and wow man whatever blah blah,” just take a second to remember you live in a dimension where dudes from The Heads have side-projects. Paul Allen and Anthroprophh – his trio with Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb, otherwise known as the duo Big Naturals – are a freaked out freakout’s freakout. The stuff of psychedelic mania. And that’s only on the first disc of the 2CD Omegavlle (Rocket Recordings). By the time they get around to the three-song second disc and dig into extended trips like “Omegaille/THOTHB” (14:48) and the subsequent finale, “Journey out of Omegaville and into the…” (20:57), they’re so far gone into noise and captured, manipulated audio that who the hell knows where we’ve ended up? At 88 minutes, the limits of manageability are long left behind, but to get some of the Velvet Underground-in-space vibes of “Maschine” in trade for undertaking the undertaking it’s well worth letting go of the rigidity of things like time, place, etc.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Orphan Gears, Rat Race

orphan gears rat race

I’m pretty sure Orphan Gears used the Super Mario Bros. font for their logo on the cover of their latest EP, Rat Race, and for that, they should be saluted. The gritty-riffing semi-punker London four-piece offer five tracks and 20 minutes of workaday, boozy grooves, blowing off steam after putting in a shift at this or that crappy job. They are null as regards pretense, and ask little more of their audience than perhaps a beer from the stage or whatever else might be on the menu that night. They share initials, but unlike much of the London underground, they share little ultimately with Orange Goblin in terms of style, despite the shuffle of “Tough Luck, BJ” or the harmonica at the end of “Bitch-Slapped Blues,” and by the time they get to the classic strut of the title-track, they seem to be dug into AC/DC-style groove in the verse while blending in modern heavy rock impulses around it. They clearly save their best for last.

Orphan Gears on Thee Facebooks

Orphan Gears on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Black Abyss

the watchers black abyss

An immediately cogent, professional debut full-length is about what you’d expect from The Watchers, the San Francisco four-piece with members of SpiralArms, Orchid and Black Gates in their ranks, particularly after their prior EP, Sabbath Highway (review here), but that doesn’t stop the songwriting from impressing across the eight-song long-player, Black Abyss (on Ripple Music). The band’s presentation is crisp and pro-shop all the way through, from the soloing on “Oklahoma Black Magic” to the keyboard-laced TonyMartin-era-Sabbathism-meets-tambourine of “Suffer Fool” later on, and with the opening salvo of the title-track and “Alien Lust” right behind it, The Watchers set a quick expectation for hooks and a high standard of delivery that, thankfully, they show no hesitation in living up to for the duration, the chug-and-roll finale “Seven Tenets” satisfies in mood and efficiency, departing into airy guitar meditation and making its way back for a suitably rocking sendoff. Dudes know what they’re doing, where they’re headed and how they want to get there. All the listener needs to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Grajo, Slowgod II

grajo slowgod ii

A sequel to their 2015 full-length, Slowgod II (on Underground Legends Records, Spinda Records and DHU Records), sees Córdoba-based four-piece Grajo dug into a deep-toned psychedelic doom. There are flashes of Eastern influence on “Malmuerta,” with frontwoman Liz crooning over the minor-key guitar noodling of Josef, the forward motion in Félix’s drums and the heft of Pistolo’s bass. That dynamic works across Slowgod II, from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Altares” through its closing eight-minute counterpart “Malstrom,” which moves from early crunch through spacious volume swells in its middle only to regain composure and offer a heavy post-rock payoff that, somehow, still isn’t that atmospherically removed from the swinging “Horror and Pleasure” right before it or the similarly speedier “Queen Cobra” that follows “Altares” at the outset. Definitely one for the converted, Grajo deliver tones thick enough to stand on and engaging melodicism without falling into any real traps of sonic redundancy, varying their pace effectively and conjuring consuming plod on “ER” while still holding to that notion of breadth that seems to unite all their material here.

Grajo on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Mythic Sunship, Upheaval

mythic sunship upheaval

It just so happens this is exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. After releasing their Land Between Rivers (review here) LP through El Paraiso Records last year, the Copenhagen four-piece of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen, collectively known as Mythic Sunship, return with four more slabs of exploratory bliss on Upheaval. Either completely or partially improvised, “Tectonic Beach” (12:42), “Aether Flux” (10:55), “Cosmic Rupture” (6:44) and “Into Oblivion” (13:56) flow together like the work of masters, and with shades of patient space rock at their core, the tracks are infused with life even beyond the spontaneity of their creation. Heavy jams. Heavy, spacy jams. Molten. Swirling. Badass. Even the shorter and more forward “Cosmic Rupture” is headed out of the atmosphere, and when they come around to the noisy payoff deep in “Into Oblivion,” it’s abundantly clear they’re not joking around when it comes to the title. You can get onboard with Mythic Sunship, or you can miss out. Bands like this separate the hip from the squares.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records webstore

 

Empress, Reminiscence

Empress reminiscence

Those who miss the days when Mastodon or Baroness howled their shouts into a landscape of crunching tonal largesse might do well to dig into what Vancouver, British Columbia’s Empress have to offer on their late-2017 debut EP, Reminiscence. The 27-minute five-tracker isn’t without its sense of melody – there’s plenty of room in eight-minute second cut “Immer” – but guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco, bassist Brenden Gunn and drummer Chris Doyle make their primary impression via the impact of their material, and as they swap back and forth between shorter tracks and longer ones, a sense of structural playfulness results that moves through the bass openings of “Baptizer” (2:50) and “They Speak Like Trees” (9:27) into the ambient guitar finisher “Dawn,” and the feeling is that, like their stylistic forebears in at the time what was thought of as a new take on sludge metal, Empress will only grow more progressive as they move forward from this first outing. One hopes they hold firm to the tectonic weight they present here that so many others seem to have given up along the way.

Empress on Thee Facebooks

Empress on Bandcamp

 

Monads, IVIIV

monads iviiv

Released some six years after Monads’ 2011 debut, Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem, the Aesthetic Death Records-issued IVIIV was, according to the Belgian five-piece’s own accounting, in the works for most of that time in one way or another. One might say, therefore, that its creation does justice to the glacial pace of some of its slowest moments, the crawling death-doom extremity of pieces like “To a Bloodstained Shore,” or the lurch before the gallop takes hold in “Your Wounds Were My Temple.” At four songs and 50 minutes, IVIIV is indicative enough of the style, but Monads legitimately showcase a persona of their own in and out of those genre confines, the melancholic atmosphere and expanded arrangement elements (piano, etc.) of 15-minute closer “The Despair of an Aeon” creatively used if familiar, and the smoothness of the transitions in opener “Leviathan as My Lament” setting a tone of scope as well as downward emotional trajectory. Not sure I’d count on a quick turnaround for a follow-up, but if half a decade from now a new Monads record surfaces, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.

Monads on Thee Facebooks

Aestehetic Death Records website

 

Nest, Metempsychosis

nest metempsychosis

Rolling from its untitled intro through its untitled outro through a barrage of charred-black, bludgeoning sludge extremity, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Nest, Metempsychosis (on Sludgelord Records), refers in its title to a transmigration of the soul, an inheritance almost as much as reincarnation. The band may be talking about themselves or they may be working on a theme throughout the record’s seven proper tracks, I don’t know, but if the idea is destruction and rebirth, they certainly sound more interested in the former. Songs like “Heretic” seethe and scour, while the lumbering and spacious closer “Life’s Grief,” capping with abrasive noise, would seem to be a mission statement in itself. Individual pieces like “Jewel of Iniquity” and the preceding atmosphere-into-mega-crush “Diving into the Entrails of Sheep” – of course the centerpiece of the tracklisting – are shorter unto themselves, but like everything else that surrounds, they feed into an overarching ambience of disgust and chaos.

Nest on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Redneck Spaceship, Grand Marshal Ape

redneck spaceship grand marshall ape

There are some issues as regards the balance of the mix pushing the vocals forward ahead of the guitar to work out, but Moscow’s Redneck Spaceship impress all the same with the intent and execution of their late-2017 self-released debut, Grand Marshal Ape. In riffs and songcraft, their influences stem from the classic days of stoner rock, but from opener “The Sands of Dakar” and the later “That Sounds Nuts,” one gets a vibe of underlying punk influence, while the twang in harmonized highlight “On the Roadside” and slide guitar of “Maverick” lends a Southern, bluesy swing that the penultimate “Enchained” answers back later ahead of the sample-laden psychedelic jam-out closer, “Antariksh,” which strikes as a far cry from the ultra-straightforward presentation earlier on “Empty Pockets,” but speaks to an immediate scope in Redneck Spaceship’s sound. One hopes they continue to meld elements as they progress beyond Grand Marshal Ape and bridge the gap between one side of their moniker and the other.

Redneck Spaceship on Thee Facebooks

Redneck Spaceship on Bandcamp

 

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Wooden Shjips Announce Tour Supporting New Album V.

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Do I wish Wooden Shjips‘ newly-announced tour was bringing them somewhere near me? Yeah, I do. But I also kind of wish I lived or at least had a rental property in any number of the cities listed that they are hitting, so, you know, take it with a grain of whatever kinds of grains you take. The psychedeliciosos are set to issue their new album, the apparently punctuated V., on May 25 via Thrill Jockey, and by then they’ll already be well into the process of heralding its arrival, which they’ll continue to do into June as they play Huichica Music Festival and more.

Album preorder link and tour dates are below courtesy of the PR write along with the stream of the single “Staring at the Sun,” so really I’m not sure what you’re still doing up here. Go on. Go dig in.

Go on:

wooden shjips

Wooden Shjips Announce North American Tour Dates

V., First New Album In Five Years, Out May 25th on Thrill Jockey

West Coast psychedelic pillars Wooden Shjips recently announced V., their first album since 2013, which shows the band acting in opposition to the dark vibes of contemporary American life in favor of an optimistic, bright mood. The band has now announced an extensive string of North American dates, bringing their peaceful resistance to cities around the continent early this summer. Legendarily powerful in the live arena, Wooden Shjips perfect their hypnotic grooves on stage.

Wooden Shjips previously shared “Staring At The Sun,” a nearly 8-minute track that was written while singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson watched a wildfire threaten his home outside of Portland, OR.

Wooden Shjips Tour Dates:
April 13 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
April 14 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown
April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing
April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main
April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival
May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile
June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar
June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge
June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

Pre-order V. from Thrill Jockey: thrilljockey.com/products/v-wooden-shjips

Wooden Shjips, “Staring at the Sun”

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Carlton Melton UK Tour Starts This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

carlton melton

If you live or will happen to find yourself in the UK sometime in the next week, you might just have a good excuse here to freak the fuck out. Carlton Melton, San Franciscan lysergic experimentalists if ever there were any, are headed over this week to begin a tour in London that will take them up into Scotland and loop back down to finish in Leeds after an eight-show stretch supporting their new album, Mind Minerals (review here), which came out Feb. 2 via Agitated Music. So that’s the good news.

What’s the bad news? Nothing. There is no bad news this time. Isn’t that nice?

Carlton Melton had a couple of shows previously booked for Belgium and the Netherlands that I’ve included below just in case they’re still on, though the press release this time was only about the UK run. Better safe than sorry, but if you’re thinking about heading to Antwerp or Nijmegen, you might want to check those are actually still a go. Fair warning.

From the PR wire:

carlton melton tour poster

CARLTON MELTON UK TOUR DATES

CARLTON MELTON are bringing their futurescape soundtrack to the UK….

20/02 – London – The Shacklewell Arms
21/02 – Todmorden – Golden Lyon
22/02 – Glasgow – Nice n Sleazy
23/02 – Manchester – Soup Kitchen
24/02 – Brighton – Hope & Ruin
25/02 – Salisbury – The Winchester Gate
26/02 – Northwich – The Salty Dog
27/02 – Leeds – Wharf Chambers

Previously announced live dates:
28/02 BE Antwerp – Het Bos
03/03 NL Nijmegen – Doornroosje

New album “Mind Minerals” out now on Agitated Records

Searing guitar piercing the drone with relentless power, the core trio of Carlton Melton; Andy Duvall (drums/guitar), Clint Golden (bass guitar), and Rich Millman (guitar/synth), have some alchemical bond that’s helped them create a post-rock / psychedelic / freeform organic slab of American Primitivism / space drift , this is unashamed head-music from the melting pot of Northern California.. 5 decades ago this album would have been released on the ESP Disk Label or even Apple.. .there would have been no helter skelter if the desert Hippies had locked onto these vibes, plug in, turn on, tune out..float free.. Carlton Melton can provide your own aural microdose to reset your Mind / Psyche!!

http://www.carltonmeltonmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Carlton-Melton-band-page-142609689122268/
https://www.facebook.com/AGITATEDRECORDS/
http://agitatedrecords.com/

Carlton Melton, “The Lighthouse”

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Six Organs of Admittance Post “Things as They Are” Video; Iberian Tour this Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/2017/03/08/six-organs-of-admittance-adoration-song-video/

To be honest with you, a new Six Organs of Admittance video is well cool buy me because it gives me an excuse to revisit the 2017 album, Burning the Threshold (review here) and the track “Things as They Are” begins the record as paired with the subsequent “Adoration Song” (video posted here), so all the better a place to begin to dig in. And as Ben Chasny prepares to take Six Organs on the road in Portugal before returning to the US Southwest in Spring, it’s also a chance to stop and take stock of just how things are. To wit:

As I write this, it’s just after 7AM Eastern time. I don’t know if it’s Daylight time or the other one at this point and I don’t suppose it matters. I’ve been up since a little after 1AM. I keep falling asleep while to get the posts done. Like right in the middle of that sentence, I nodded off again, and my eyes are already closed once again. I haven’t slept well lately and apparently that’s enough to make me feel like I’m totally off my nut. Hey, wake up. Wake up. The drums just kicked in on “Taken by Ascent.” Wake up.

That, the laundry in progress downstairs the coffee in the pot, The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan upstairs. That’s things how they are. Tons of work to do no time to do it. A string of ‘w’ that spans line after line because it’s where my hand went to dead weigh. I don’t get paid to do this. I probably never will. But I love it and I can’t stop. That’s how things are. Maybe I should get a standing desk.

If you recognize the style of the video here, with the slow motion and artsy black and white shots and all that, Elisa Ambrogio directed the “Adoration Song.” Consistency is a good thing, even for a project as amorphous as this one. Enjoy the video below:

Six Organs of Admittance, “Things as They Are” official video

Anytime is a good time to release a Six Organs of Admittance video, album release cycles be damned. Burning the Threshold brings a wealth of Six Organs-styled lightness into one of his sweetest musical meditations yet and that should be reminded every day.

The residual grace and allure radiates out from the video for “Things As They Are” a song examining the life of poet Wallace Stevens. In 2017, Ben composed music for a theatrical work about Stevens’ life that debuted on stage in Cleveland.

Directed by Elisa Ambrogio, the empathetic waves generated by this song resonate throughout her keen visuals, giving a new dimension to the music of Six Organs of Admittance. Watch the video below and gaze over the newest tour date offerings from Professor Chasny, with European tour dates beginning in Portugal this February.

LIVE DATES:
22/2/18 at Salao Brazil in Coimbra, Portugal
24/2/18 at GNRation in Braga, Portugal
25/2/18 at GNRation in Braga, Portugal*
26/2/18 at Teatro Maria Matos in Lisbon, Portugal*
27/2/18 at Teatro Maria Matos in Lisbon, Portugal
282//18 at Sola X in Seville, Spain
1/3/18 at Moby Dick in Madrid, Spain
3/3/18 at Teatro das Figuras in Faro, Portugal
26/4/18 at Sister in Albuquerque, NM %
27/4/18 at Valley Bar in Phoenix, AZ
284//18 at 191 Toole in Tuscon, AZ
9/618 at Wilbur Theatre in Boston, MA

*Hexadic System Workshop
% w/ OM
^w/ Bonnie Prince Billy

Six Organs of Admittance website

Six Organs of Admittance on Twitter

Six Organs of Admittance at Drag City

Drag City webstore

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