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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Wooden Shjips to Release V May 25; New Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

WOODEN SHJIPS

This is one of those releases where I could say absolutely anything and it wouldn’t matter. Seriously, how high do you think the stakes are for my opinion about the next Wooden Shjips record? Pretty god damn low. As in, nil. This band gets covered by major corporate print outlets — the paper of record, and so on — and hey, I know my place. I might get a promo download, or worse, a stream, and I have no doubt that V, which is out May 25 via Thrill Jockey will be good enough to make me want to buy it, like everything else the San Francisco band has ever done, and I won’t have the money to do so and it will just be a bummer so I’ll either not actually listen or put it in the Quarterly Review so I can link back to something later when I drool about how good the band is when they announce tour dates or put up a new video or whatever it might be. It’s like my version of the “album cycle.”

But yeah, I could pretty much say anything about this record and no one will give a shit. Best of the year. Worst of the year. Doesn’t matter. The stakes couldn’t be lower if this was an episode of Voyager and Harry Kim was getting kidnapped on the holideck.

With that happy thought, here’s the PR wire:

WOODEN SHJIPS v

Wooden Shjips Announce New Album V.

Hear Expansive Lead Single “Staring At The Sun”

Album Out May 25th

West Coast psychedelic quartet Wooden Shjips will release V., their fifth album, May 25th on Thrill Jockey. Inspired by the tumult of the modern world, and the desire to offer a contrasting vision of peace, the band has created a record that filters their trademark hypnotic grooves through an optimistic lens, resulting in music that is bright and vital.

The band has shared the album’s first single “Staring At The Sun,” a track that clocks in at almost 8 minutes and was written by guitarist and singer Ripley Johnson as he watched wildfires ravage the Pacific Northwest during the summer of 2017. V. follows their acclaimed 2013 album Back To Land.

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

Wooden Shjips – V.
(May 25th, Thrill Jockey)
1. Eclipse
2. In The Fall
3. Red Line
4. Already Gone
5. Staring At The Sun
6. Golden Flower
7. Ride On

Wooden Shjips, long-time leaders of the contemporary psychedelic movement, expand their sound with V. The quartet of Omar Ahsanuddin, Dusty Jermier, Nash Whalen and Ripley Johnson augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. The songs were written during the summer of 2017 by singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson as an antidote to the pervasive anxiety both political and natural. As Ripley tells it, “We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.

The first single “Staring At The Sun” is a nearly 8 minute laid back, slowly building narrative, whose lyrics tell of a gentle push and pull between the desire for sun and escape and the tug of anxiety, with peaceful resistance winning the day and guiding the tone. The restless traveler Johnson gives us a few of his signature traveling songs such as “Eclipse,” and “Red Line,” both showcases for the stellar rhythm section of Omar Ahsanuddin and Dusty Jermier. Their unparalleled sense of groove and restraint leaves ample room for Nash Whalen’s keyboard flourishes. There is movement and urgency in these tracks without aggression, a rolling foundation of rhythm over which Johnson’s voice floats and elongated melodic guitar lines soar.

Each song shimmers with a distinctly Wooden Shjips sound, a relaxed summer vibe. This was a conscious choice, an atmospheric goal that influenced nearly every detail: the tones, the delay types and reverbs used, as well as the synthesizer elements that color the songs. The basics were recorded by Jason Powers at Types Foundry Studio in Portland. The guitars and vocals were largely recorded in Ripley Johnson’s comfortable home studio. The album was mixed by Cooper Crain (Cave, Circuit Des Yeux) who the band has formed close bonds with on tour. The instructions were simple “We told Cooper to keep it really fat but to feel free to play around with the other elements, make a nice headphone mix with a lot of movement,” said Ripley, “I wanted it to be floaty because that’s kind of where my headspace was at the time.”

The band’s members collectively share a love of classic rock from the Velvet Underground to Neil Young, as well as more overt love of the San Francisco scene of the 60’s. This commonality in their formative musical years binds them even as they live in different cities. V. finds Wooden Shjips embracing the emotions behind those sounds; peaceful defiance and opposition, while creating a sound and counter narrative to today’s hostilities that is wholly their own. Wooden Shjips has with V. created the most concise, laid back songs of their career. Their music is a balm of sorts, a respite from the insanity that, through its regenerative abilities, empowers continued, calm resistance. A reminder of the simple power of peace and beauty. Wooden Shjips, through V., have demonstrated the power of beauty and the power in creating it even while experiencing overwhelming dread. It is the perfect summer album, brimming with optimism and a peaceful energy, aptly timed for release at the height of spring.

https://www.facebook.com/woodenshjips/
https://twitter.com/woodenshjips
http://www.woodenshjips.com/
http://www.thrilljockey.com/artists/wooden-shjips

Wooden Shjips, “Staring at the Sun”

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Turn Me on Dead Man Touring Europe in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

San Franpsychsco weirdos Turn Me on Dead Man head abroad in February to support their latest outing, Heavymetal Mothership (review here), which came out just a couple months back as though beamed in from a time warp via Heavy Psych Sounds. That same imprint is behind the booking for the tour and has the swath of dates in Italy to prove it, but it’s hard to imagine that wherever the band goes they won’t be greeted as liberators of mind and spirit.

Of course, they’re early for Spring or Summer fests, but one never knows — they could be testing the ground for follow-up run this Fall, and well, there’s fests then too, and in the meantime, a run to herald the album’s arrival is pretty awesome on its own. I wouldn’t mind seeing Torino this time of year, at least.

The PR wire has all the details:

turn me on dead man euro tour

TURN ME ON DEAD MAN – EUROPEAN TOUR 2018 !!!

TMODM are a heavydelic space rock band from San Francisco. Turn Me On Dead Man combines Heavy Metal and Psychedelia to forge a music that is both transcending and unforgettable. The songwriting plunges listeners into the heavydelic landscapes of 60’s experimentalism and 70’s bombast, creating a disc that is enthralling, imaginative, hugely entertaining, and incredibly hard rocking!

The group have been creating their unique brand of lysergic-soaked rock since their inception in 2000, gigging extensively throughout the San Francisco bay area and garnering praise from all over their home turf and the country, spurred on by heavy rotation at the influential WFMU station in New Jersey. Alternative Tentacles founder Jello Biafra was suitably impressed by the band’s spaced-out, glammed-up, turned-up brand of audio mayhem enough to re-release their first epic record, “God Bless the Electric Freak” on A.T.!

Live, Turn Me On Dead Man is a spectacle of epic proportions; a visceral sonic boom that spans the spectrum from the meanest, most gorgeous anthems of rock to the exotic ragas of modern psych, creating an explosive and diverse stage performance as energetic as it is uncommon. Simply put, Turn Me On Dead Man plays Heavy Crush Bliss Rock breaking the sound barrier on their own private Lear Jet headed straight to HELL!

***TURN ME ON DEAD MAN EUROPEAN TOUR 2018***
09.02.2018 IT Pescara-Scumm
10.02.2018 IT Castel Fidardo-On Stage
11.02.2018 IT Pastrengo-Fabemolle
12.02.2018 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando
13.02.2018 IT Torino-Blah Blah
14.02.2018 DE Sruttgart-Goldmark
15.02.2018 CH Olten-Coq D’or
16.02.2018 AT Bludenz-Villa K
17.02.2018 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk
18.02.2018 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
19.02.2018 DE Dresden-Ostpol
20.02.2018 DE Berlin-Jagerklause
21.02.2018 DE Weimar-Gerber3
22.02.2018 DE Leipzig-Black Label
23.02.2018 DE Mannheim-7Er
24.02.2018 DE-TBA

Turn Me on Dead Man:
Mykill ZIggy: Guitars, Vocals, Synthesizers, Bass, Phasers and Lasers
Nick Doom: Guitars and Music Theory
Christopher Melville Lyman: Drums, Percussion, and Vocals
Attis Ngo: Bass, Keyboards

https://www.facebook.com/TurnMeOnDeadManSF/
https://www.instagram.com/turn_me_on_dead_man/
https://tmodm.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
www.heavypsychsounds.com

Turn Me on Dead Man, Heavymetal Mothership (2017)

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The Watchers Announce New Album Black Abyss out March 9; Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the watchers

You might recall San Francisco heavy rockers The Watchers hit the studio in early summer 2017, just prior to embarking on a tour that took them to the East Coast for the first time in order to appear at the Maryland Doom Fest. By the time they make their return appearance at that event for 2018, they’ll be doing so on the heels of that full-length debut. Mixed by Max Norman, whose discography extends well beyond having helmed Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, not that it necessarily needs to, and originally slated to release in Sept. 2017 — which seemed ambitious at the time — the album has been given the rather grim title Black Abyss and is set for a March 9 issue. A special celebratory gig is booked for March 31 to mark its arrival in Redwood City, California, with Swamphammer and Burn River Burn also taking part.

Before the release show hits, The Watchers, which features Tim Narducci and Cornbread from SpiralArms and White Witch Canyon, drummer Carter Kennedy from Orchid and guitarist Jeremy Epp from Black Gates, will also play alongside labelmates The Hazytones, War Cloud, Zed and Blackwülf at Ripplefest II at Thee Parkside in their hometown. One assumes they’ll break out the big guns in terms of new material for the showcase, and if you can make it out Feb 3, that seems like a hell of a way to spend an evening and get a preview of Black Abyss to come.

There aren’t any full tracks from the record posted yet, but the band put out a quickie teaser with a tasty bit of riffing that you can hear at the bottom of this post. Event page links, album cover and basic announcement follow here, dutifully cut and pasted from the social medias:

the watchers black abyss

Here’s to a Heavy 2018! Black Abyss March 9th 2018 – Mixed by the legendary Max Norman!

The Watchers live:
FEB 3 Ripplefest ll Thee Parkside San Francisco, CA w/ Blackwülf, War Cloud, The Hazytones, ZED

https://www.facebook.com/events/1637628336300054/

MAR 31 “Black Abyss” Record Release Show Club Fox Redwood City, CA w/ Swamphammer & Burn River Burn

https://www.facebook.com/events/175685246352911/

JUN 22 Maryland Doom Fest Cafe 611 & Guidos Speakeasy Frederick, MD

https://www.facebook.com/events/165208904035534/

The Watchers are:
Tim Narducci Vocals
Jeremy Epp Guitars
Cornbread Bass
Carter Kennedy Drums

www.facebook.com/bandofwatchers
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
http://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/sabbath-highway

The Watchers, Black Abyss teaser

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