Zed Announce July 26 Release for Volume; Stream “The Other Kind”

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

zed

New Zed is a ripper, which definitely makes it kin to old Zed. The album, out in July, is called Volume, and fairly enough so, and the track they’re streaming from it — available for listening at the bottom of this post, among other places — is called “The Other Kind.” If you want to think of it as a kind of check-in to let all interested parties know that Zed haven’t lost the chip on their collective shoulder since 2017’s Trouble in Eden (review here), I think that’s probably reasonable. Dudes know how to both turn and knock heads.

They’re fresh off their first excursion to European soil for a quick run that wrapped at Desertfest London 2019, so it’s hard to imagine the record announcement coming at a better time in terms of momentum. Their second album, Desperation Blues (discussed here), was also reissued by Ripple earlier this year, so you know, full calendar and all that. Busy busy.

Details come via the PR wire:

zed volume

ZED return with VOLUME on RIPPLE MUSIC | Stream and share new song ‘THE OTHER KIND’

Volume by ZED is officially released on 26th July 2019

Making their roaring presence felt in the Bay Area rock scene since 2007, with heavy footprints and sonically indelible marks are San Jose earth shakers ZED. With a sound based on the core principles of blues, heaviness and groove, this quartet is the genuine article. No bell bottoms, wizard sleeves or hip huggers for this crew. Instead, it’s a barrage of head-bobbing, air-guitaring, hip-shaking, blues-driven riffage as delivered by the true bastards of rock and roll.

From their inception ZED made a name for themselves with their crushing live shows and incessant grooves. Having played together in various projects since 1998, including releasing several albums with the band Stitch for Prosthetic and Metal Blade Records, guitarist/vocalist Peter Sattari and bassist Mark Aceves joined up with guitar wizard Greg Lopez and drummer extraordinaire Sean Boyles to create a sound that was uniquely their own. Drawing from their varied influences, ranging from classic ’70s rock to punk and hardcore, by way of metal and old school funk, ZED write music fuelled by nasty grooves. The band has even been called, “a pissed off Led Zeppelin with Chris Cornell meets Ian Astbury on vocals.”

In recent years the band’s momentum has exploded, signing to Ripple Music and growing into a household name in the stoner rock community. Their hard-grooving live show has seen the band perform as headline support at Maryland Doom Fest and numerous SXSW events. They recently capped off their first European tour with a benchmark performance at Desertfest Lodon, where Kerrang! Magazine caught their set and said, “Their booze-drenched blues’n’roll almost breaks into a riot as both band and audience raise the roof and plenty of Hell in the process, leaving the most triumphant first impression.”

Volume by ZED is officially released on 26th July 2019 on Ripple Music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. The Other Kind
2. The End
3. Wings of The Angel
4. Hollow Men
5. Take Me Home Again
6. Chingus
7. Poison Tree
8. The Great Destroyer
9. Time and Space
10. The Troubador

Zed is:
Pete Sattari- Guitar/Vox
Sean Boyles – Drums
Greg Lopez – Guitar
Mark Aceves – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/zedrocknow/
https://zedisded.bandcamp.com/
http://www.zedisded.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

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KOOK Premiere “Escape Velocity” Lyric Video; KOOK II out March 26

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kook

Man, get ready for a trip. Due out March 25, II is the aptly-named second full-length from likewise aptly-named San Jose desert-style noise kooks KOOK, and it’s a far-out blower with an underpinning of the bizarre, earthy psychedelia born of Californian sands with just a bit of urbane crunch to its tones. Like if Queens of the Stone Age moved to Oakland, kept their edge and got weird, or if Fatso Jetson nixed the boogie and added more angry and a bit of Faith No More at their least predictable. The six-tracker runs 44 minutes and seems destined to be A research subject for years to come on the relative potency of edibles. Delivered through Glory or Death Records, it commences with “Escape Velocity,” which serves as an eight-minute barrage of you in the future asking what the hell just happened, and only ups the volatility factor with “Chains” and “Left Behind,” which offsets its languid groove and hook with a sense that at any moment it might haul off and punch you upside the head. Does it? Yeah, and a suitable reeling racket of noise follows as though KOOK also need to recover.

They don’t, but you might. Those three tracks are side A of the thing and they’re beastly in their scope and conjuring of ’90s bizarro threat rock and under-influence suggestion. “Escape Velocity” seems to tip hat to the Melvins in Karl Larson‘s guitar and the out-for-a-walk bassline of Jeff Wilson, but kook iithe punctuation of Erik Wilkins‘ drumming makes for sharper corners, and Troy Aschenbrenner‘s vocals are way out there on another plane, covered in hair, if you know what I mean. Still, they hold together this first of two cuts on II over eight minutes long — “Left Behind” is the other one, and it’s just a bit longer — and with the aggro strut of “Chains,” they preface the fuzzed swing of “Human Container” at the setoff of side B, which turns beastly in a second-half slowdown that devolves into a noise wash sustained in effects on a long fuckall fade ahead of “Frequency 8,” which underscores the you-are-not-in-control-but-they-might-be vibe while casting another assault of tone and coming out of it somehow making sense en route to closer “Chased by Monsters,” where they line up tense chug and subsequently tap into their inner Primus carnival manifestation. Shit gets wild. Shit starts wild, and then gets wilder. And then they end by thrashing out because fucking of course they do.

Being a gentleman of a certain age, I remember when the Heaven’s Gate cult warned that Planet Earth was about to be recycled and the only way to avoid that grim fate was to hitch a ride on the UFO hiding behind the passing comet Hale-Bopp. KOOK sample audio and imagery from Heaven’s Gate’s leader, Do — whose writings you can still find online, if you’re up for falling down a hole — and the somewhat futuristic but also completely off the rails thematic could hardly suit them better. It’s high time someone took on the subject matter, and KOOK would seem to be the perfect band to do it. It’s a riotously colorful niche of cultism.

Ahead of the official release next month, KOOK hit the road (they’ll have copies of the album at the merch table) and play alongside many righteous bands in and around appearances at SXSW, the stoner revival of which has not gone unnoticed. Nonetheless, it’s a schedule busy enough to suit KOOK‘s sound, and before they go, they’re giving another glimpse at the weirdo triumphs II has in store. Preorders for the record are up if that’s your thing, and you can check out the “Escape Velocity” lyric video below, with all the Hale-Bopp you need and some dizzying rocket footage to boot.

Dig and enjoy:

Kook, “Escape Velocity” lyric video premiere

The third lyric video and song released from KOOK’s upcoming album, II, available (digital, vinyl, tape, and CD) via Glory or Death Records 3/26/29 at http://wearekook.bandcamp.com. A song for those who follow the blind into the unknown and find only darkness.

Headed out to Texas this March to play some shows at SXSW and touring to California to celebrate the release of our second album, II. Playing with amazing bands along the way we can’t list them all, but come see a show if we pass near you!

kook tourKOOK live:
MAR 14 Austin, TX Spider House Cafe and Ballroom Wicked Bad Stoner Jam
MAR 14 San Antonio, TX The Mix
MAR 15 Arlington, TX Division Brewing
MAR 16 Austin, TX Kick Butt Café Gravity Fest
MAR 17 El Paso, TX The Rockin’ Cigar Bar & Grill
MAR 18 Albuquerque, NM Moonlight Lounge
MAR 20 Tempe, AZ Palo Verde Lounge
MAR 21 San Diego, CA The Bancroft
MAR 22 Los Angeles, CA 5 Star Bar
MAR 23 El Monte, CA Silver Dollar Saloon

KOOK is:
Karl Larson-Guitar
Troy Aschenbrenner-Vocals
Eric Wilkins-Drums
Jeff Wilson- Bass

KOOK, II (2019)

KOOK on Thee Facebooks

KOOK on Instagram

KOOK website

Glory or Death Records on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Instagram

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

Glory or Death Records webstore

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Zed Announce European Tour Dates to Desertfest London 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

zed

There’s a lot of repetition in what I do, inherently. You cover the same kinds of bands, use a lot of the same phrasing, and when it comes to the news stuff, that part of it, there are a few different kinds of stories you generally run into. Band has new album. Band doesn’t have new album. Band is touring. Band breaks up. Band has a new member. And so on. Of all the categories for stories I see on a week-in-week-out basis, this might be my favorite: Band is going to Europe for the first time.

In this case, it’s San Jose heavy rockers Zed, who’ll bring their straightforward, hard-hitting craft to stages in Belgium, Germany and France alongside Ripple Music labelmates Plainride ahead of an appearance at Desertfest London 2019. And maybe if I was European I’d feel the same way about bands touring the US for the first time, but it’s a special level of achievement for a group to get out and go abroad, to make that happen, and I’m glad to see the cats from Zed making the trip. It’s a feelgood story. So feel good. Then go rock out.

They go on the heels of a reissue for 2013’s Desperation Blues (discussed here) that came out last month on Ripple and are sure to make a boatload of new friends along their way. Awesome.

The social medias has it like this:

zed plainride tour

Zed – European Tour Dates 2019

Europe, we’re finally gonna bring the rock to you! Stoked to get out there with our bros in Plainride and capping it off with Desertfest London!

April 27 Ghent BE Den Drummer
April 28 Hamburg DE Bar 227
April 29 Volmerange-les-Mines FR No Man’s Land
April 30 Dresden DE Chemiefabrik
May 1 Cologne DE Stereo Wonderland
May 2 Brussels BE Jeudhuis de Schackel
May 4 London UK Desertfest London 2019 (Zed only)

Replete with new album artwork and bonus material (previously unheard first time around) Desperation Blues is an honest collection of blood, sweat, Desperation Blues was officially re-released on 18th January 2019 through Ripple Music. Order the album now at www.ripple-music.com.

Zed is:
Pete Sattari- Guitar/Vox
Sean Boyles – Drums
Greg Lopez – Guitar
Mark Aceves – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/zedrocknow/
https://zedisded.bandcamp.com/
http://www.zedisded.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Zed, “Halo” official video

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Zed Premiere “Halo” Video from Desperation Blues Reissue

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

zed

I can’t give away too much at this point, but this Spring, Zed are going to Europe. The San Jose-based heavy rockers this month will oversee a reissue of their 2013 Desperation Blues album, billed through Ripple Music as Desperation Blues Deluxe and including refreshed art and bonus tracks culled from the band’s 2010 debut, The Invitation. The four-piece have been building momentum over the last several years on tour and with the signing to Ripple for the release of Trouble in Eden (review here), their third LP, and after doing gigs on both coasts — they’ll make a return in 2019 to the Maryland Doom Fest as well — the initial incursion abroad seems nothing if not earned. One expects they’ll be well received.

It would seem on an initial reading that the lyrics of “Halo” are all the more relevant in today’s climate of political unrest, troubling surges of populism and crumbling international relations, but the truth is the US has been at war since before Zed put out The Invitation nine years ago, and lines like, “So confused, so afraid/What if the pigs come back today?/All I’ve worked for, all I’ve saved, so easily taken away,” aren’t so much finding new meaning as simply still applicable to the same degradation. The video premiering below works on similar ground, pitting footage of protesters engaging riot police alongside shots of the band playing live, the wobbly closed-circuit effect giving unity to the two as though to underline the notion of expression as an inherent act of defiance in a system of oppression. That is, if you want to piss someone off, make good art.

Though in that regard, throwing shit at cops works too.

Some would say that is art.

In any case, the spirit of the video suits the track’s workmanlike chug and subtle undertone of aggression, and the song remains catchy and well-composed without getting weighed down by its theme. Putting it in the context of what Zed would do on their two to-date subsequent outings, it’s a strong indicator of the band they would become — the band that will make themselves ambassadors of US heavy in a few months’ time — and shows how songwriting has been at their core all the while through their career, along with no small supply of swagger. That also continues to serve them well.

Safe travels to come, Zed. I’m looking forward to the tour announcement.

Desperation Blues Deluxe is out Jan. 18 on Ripple Music. Enjoy the video. It’s not the last one they’ll have for the reissue:

Zed, “Halo” official video premiere

Zed on “Halo”:

Wanted to make a video that honors the spirit of the song which is about how there is so much unrest and strife in the world and it doesn’t matter whether you are right or left leaning, there are movements and machinations at the highest levels of government that are being done to further oppress, devalue and control the common man. Yet the human spirit is unstoppable and will stand up even when the odds are stacked high against it.

Music Video for the song Halo off of “Desperation Blues Deluxe” the Ripple Music re-issue of ZED’s critically acclaimed self-released album.

Replete with new album artwork and bonus material (previously unheard first time around) Desperation Blues is an honest collection of blood, sweat, Desperation Blues will be officially re-released on 18th January 2019 through Ripple Music. Pre-order the album now at www.ripple-music.com.

Zed is:
Pete Sattari- Guitar/Vox
Sean Boyles – Drums
Greg Lopez – Guitar
Mark Aceves – Bass

Zed on Thee Facebooks

Zed on Bandcamp

Zed website

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

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Zed Post “Skin + Bones” Video; Desperation Blues Reissue Due Jan. 18

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

zed

San Jose heavy rockers Zed will reissue their 2013 album, Desperation Blues, on Jan. 18 through Ripple Music. And if the band are feeling somewhat sentimental for what was their second album following 2010’s The Invitation, that’s certainly fair enough. It was the record that solidified their approach in hard-hitting, semi-aggro heavy rock and roll, as well as the one that led to their signing with Ripple Music for the follow-up, Trouble in Eden (review here), in 2016. Well worth a special place in the band’s heart, I should think.

With an eye toward marking the occasion and an apparent backlog of images to share, Zed have posted a kind of collage reminiscence video for the song “Skin + Bones” that has photos included from their last several years of shows. Of particular note was the excursion that took them to the East Coast where they played the first night of Maryland Doom Fest 2018 (review here). They have shots with the organizers of the fest, other bands, and even one of yours truly if you’re quick enough to see my dopey mug pass by en route to the next pic. I usually charge a licensing fee for my image, but since it’s Zed, I’ll let it go this time around.

I was glad to catch the four-piece at that fest, as I was to see them for the first time at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta in 2016 (review here). They’ve grown as songwriters, as I think Trouble in Eden showed, but Desperation Blues captured the root of their sound in terms of conveying their passion for straightforward, direct-line heavy rock with more than just a chip on its shoulder. I don’t know what else they might have in the works for the New Year, but if they’re running at an every-three-year pace, they’re due for a new studio release at some point.

In the meantime, a bit of nostalgia.

PR wire info follows the video below. Please enjoy:

Zed, “Skin + Bones” official video

Blasting out onto the San Francisco Bay Area rock scene in 2007, ZED quickly made a name for themselves with their crushing live shows and incessant grooves. Having played together in various projects since ’98 (including releasing an album with the band Stitch for Prosthetic/Metal Blade Records), guitar player/vocalist Peter Sattari, drummer Rich Harris and bassist Mark Aceves joined up with guitar wizard Greg Lopes to create a sound that was uniquely their own. A sound with the sole purpose to rock with no concerns for genre classifications and idle labeling.

Showcasing equal appeal to fuzz-box mercenaries, ’74 Chevy van-driving stoners and horns-thrusting metalheads, ZED truly made their mark in May 2013 with the self-release of Desperation Blues, an album which, with the help of the Californian label Ripple Music gets an official worldwide reissue on CD/LP this January.

Replete with new album artwork and bonus material (previously unheard first time around) Desperation Blues is an honest collection of blood, sweat, Desperation Blues will be officially re-released on 18th January 2019 through Ripple Music. Pre-order the album now at www.ripple-music.com.

Zed on Thee Facebooks

Zed on Bandcamp

Zed website

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

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Epicenter Fest 2017 Set for Sept. 16; High on Fire, Mos Generator, Big Business, Holy Grove & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

When Epicenter Fest 2017 says it’s carefully curated, I have no trouble believing it. The inaugural edition of the San Jose, California-based all-day event is set for Sept. 16 and would seem to have undertaken the mission of setting West Coast heavy to task in celebrating some of its own finest purveyors. High on Fire headline, as they should, and the lineup flows from there with groups varied in geography and style, from the brash catchiness of Big Business to the rolling grooves of Holy Grove, the straight-ahead classicism of Mos Generator, and upstart outfits BrumeKOOK and Mesmer, as if to underscore the point that the Pacific region’s growth is still very much in progress.

A standout name on the bill not included in the paragraph above is Future Usses, which features guitar manufacturer Sacha Dunable (also Intronaut) and is a new outfit making its live debut at the fest. Even without the Bill and Ted reference in the moniker, that’d be a band to keep an eye on. So do that. I’ll do the same.

Fest info follows, along with ticket links and whatnot. Looks awesome even from the entire other side of the country:

epicenter fest 2017

OSKAR BLUES PRESENTS: EPICENTER HEAVY MUSIC FESTIVAL-2017

Honoring the Past, Present, and Future of Bay Area Heavy Underground Music Featuring High on Fire, Big Business & 7 more great bands

Heavy San Jose is bringing a festival unlike anything San Jose has ever seen. High on Fire, who got their start in San Jose in a practice studio just a couple of blocks from The Ritz, will headline this nine-band monster show. Epicenter Heavy Music Festival was designed to shake the Bay Area to its foundations.

The carefully curated lineup of nine bands represent nine different genres of heavy music. In addition to High on Fire, heavy music stalwarts Big Business, will also grace the Ritz stage with more earth-shaking sound than should come from a two-piece. Mos Generator (Seattle), and Holy Grove (Portland), will descend from the northern wilds to bring furious wrath and heavy-metal vengeance. Future Usses (Los Angeles) is a new band fronted by Sacha Dunable (Intronaut/Dunable Guitars), and Epicenter will be the first live taste of their loopy psych-doom. The line-up also features three up-and-coming local bands: KOOK (Glory or Death Records) from right here in San Jose, Brume (DHU/Doom Stew Records) from San Francisco, and Mesmer (Wicked Lester Records) from Oakland. There’s at least one more band not yet announced (but already booked) and more surprises in the works.

This festival is all about shining a light on the unique musical history of San Jose and the greater Bay Area, bringing a one-of-a-kind event to heavy music lovers, and putting the spotlight an amazing venue in San Jose (The Ritz). The Bay Area birthed some of the most influential bands in heavy music, starting with Blue Cheer in the late 60s, continuing through the thrash era in the 80s with Metallica, Exodus and Testament, and the birth of stoner/doom in the 90s with Sleep, High on Fire and Neurosis. New amazing heavy underground bands are constantly forming in the Bay, and it’s Heavy San Jose’s mission to highlight them, as well as provide an artist-friendly environment for touring bands in the heavy underground.

The event will showcase as much great local flavor as possible, featuring local artists and businesses (Martin Roberson, owner of Lucky Stars Tattoo in San Jose created the show poster). Sponsorships, are still available (contact info above). We’re offering VIP and General Admission tickets, and we’re expecting a sellout (capacity at the Ritz is just over 500). VIP tickets (only 50 available) are on sale now, with GA tickets going on sale Friday July 14th at 10:00am pacific.

Bands Performing (see below for band bios):
High on Fire (San Jose/Oakland)
Big Business (Los Angeles)
Mos Generator (Seattle)
Holy Grove (Portland)
Future Usses (Los Angeles)
Brume (San Francisco)
KOOK (San Jose)
Mesmer (Oakland)

Event Details:
When: September 16, 2017 5:30 PM – 1:30 AM
Where: The Ritz – 400 South First Street, San Jose, CA
Cost: General availability tickets are $45 with VIP tickets priced at $75 (early access to the venue, access to a private VIP area, limited edition screen printed show poster, and other fun surprise perks).

Tickets: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1523269?utm_medium=bks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1971651789739169

www.heavysj.com
www.facebook.com/heavysjc

High on Fire, “Devilution” live at Roskilde 2017

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Lord Mountain, The Giraffes, Saint Vitus, Långfinger, Soggy

Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

It’s been a long time. Long enough that I’m not even going to link back to the last time I did a round of Radio Adds. Life happens, and with the Quarterly Review, I guess my focus went elsewhere. Well, I just did a Quarterly Review, and that actually kind of inspired this, since I found there was yet more records that wanted covering even after that over-full round of 60 that closed out 2016 and opened 2017. So here we are.

There are, in fact, more than 50 albums being added to The Obelisk Radio playlist today. I can’t promise I’ll do Radio Adds weekly like I once did, or monthly, or again in 2017, or ever, but the opportunity presented itself and it seemed only right to take advantage. This stuff all came out last year, so it’s all readily available, and audio samples are included, because, you know, music and such.

Let’s dig in:

Lord Mountain, Lord Mountain

lord-mountain-lord-mountain

Of all the styles under the vast umbrella of “heavy,” traditional doom is among the hardest to execute – especially, I’d think, for new bands. You need a balance of atmosphere and lack of pretense, a classic vibe, riffs, and groove. On the surface, you’re playing to the past, but if you put out something that just sounds like Sabbath and bring nothing of yourself to it, you’re sunk. Santa Rosa, California’s Lord Mountain – vocalist/guitarist Jesse Swanson, guitarist Sean Serrano, bassist Dave Reed and drummer Pat Moore – would seem to have it figured out on their self-titled debut EP. Released by King Volume Records on limited tape, it brings forth four tracks in 21 minutes that are no less comfortable playing to the downer riffing of Candlemass – opener “Fenrir” – than to the epic chanting of Viking-era Bathory – “Under the Mountain” – and that find distinction for themselves in nodding to one side or the other as they make their way across the bass-y Sabbathism of “Dying World” and into the concluding solo-topped gallop of “Tomb of the Eagle” (more Dio-era there, but effectively translated tonally). As an initial offering, its presence is more stately than raw, and part of that is aesthetic, so I still think Lord Mountain will have growth to undertake, but their EP shows marked potential and brings a fresh personality to doom’s rigid traditionalism, and there’s nothing more one could reasonably ask of it. A CD would probably be too much to ask, but it’s hard to believe no one’s snagged it for a 10” release yet.

Lord Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Lord Mountain on Bandcamp

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

The Giraffes, Usury

the giraffes usury

Behold the winding, self-directed narrative of underrated, underutilized and underappreciated New York heavy rockers The Giraffes, who issued Usury via Silver Sleeve Records in Jan. 2016, on the cusp of their 20th anniversary and with it welcomed back frontman Aaron Lazar (also a one-time contributor to The Book of Knots, speaking of underrated) to the fold alongside guitarist Damien Paris, drummer Andrew Totolos and bassist Josh Taggart. Comprised of just six songs with a 28-minute runtime, it nonetheless holds to a full-album sentiment, with songs like the tense “Washing Machine” working in a vein not dissimilar to their righteous 2008 offering, Prime Motivator (review here), while the preceding “Facebook Rant” and “Product Placement Song” bask in a social commentary that one can only hope the ensuing decades make dated and the subsequent “White Jacket” has a melancholy danceability that one might’ve related around the time of The Giraffes’ 2005 self-titled debut related to System of a Down, but now just sounds like an enrichment of their approach overall. Usury gets off to a slow start (not a complaint, given the groove) with “Blood Will Run,” which seems to shake off its dust initially before commencing its real push and chug circa the halfway point, but by the time they get down to eight-minute finale “How it Happened to Me,” the sudden conclusion of the jam leaves one to wonder where they went and when they’ll be back, which presumably is the whole idea. Behold a band who did it before it was cool, should’ve been huge, and still kept going. The story is more complicated than that, but there are few tales more admirable.

The Giraffes on Thee Facebooks

The Giraffes website

 

Saint Vitus, Live Vol. 2

saint-vitus-live-vol-2

The first Saint Vitus live album – Live – surfaced in 1990 via Hellhound Records and captured the band in Germany in 1989. Its 2005 reissue on Southern Lord played a large role in introducing the pivotal doomers to a new generation of fans. Live Vol. 2 follows some 26 years later via Season of Mist and likewise documents a crucial era in the four-piece’s existence, having been recorded in 2013 in Luxembourg following the release of their 2012 album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), with the lineup of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez. It’s a 59-minute set, all told – one suspects some of Chandler’s stage rants between songs were shortened or removed – and among the most striking impressions it makes is how seamlessly Lillie: F-65 cuts “Let Them Fall,” “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste of Time” fit in alongside classics like the speedy “War is Our Destiny” and “Look Behind You” or the more grueling “Patra (Petra)” and galloping “White Stallions.” Of course, the anthemic “Born too Late” closes out, with Chandler’s wash of feedback and all-low-end tone at the start the ultimate hallmark of what Saint Vitus have always been – a middle finger to square culture unlike any other. This era of the band may be over, with original vocalist Scott Reagers stepping back into the frontman role, but as one continues to hope for another studio album, Live Vol. 2 proves more than a stopgap and takes an active role in adding to the band’s legendary catalog.

Saint Vitus on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Långfinger, Crossyears

langfinger-crossyears

After two successful full-lengths in 2010’s Skygrounds and 2012’s Slow Rivers, next-gen Swedish heavy rockers Långfinger join forces with Small Stone Records for their 10-song/46-minute third album, the crisply-executed Crossyears. Like their countrymen labelmates in Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, the Gothenburg three-piece bring modern edge and production to what a few years ago might’ve been purely retro ‘70s boogie rock, as tracks like “Fox Confessor,” “Say Jupiter,” the more languid “Atlas” and “Caesar’s Blues” bask in a showcase of tight, natural performance with a clean production style that still highlights same, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Victor Crusner, guitarist/backing vocalist Kalle Lilja and drummer/backing vocalist Jesper Pihl proving the maturity of their songwriting while still delivering the push of “Silver Blaze” and closer “Window in the Sky” with a sense of energy behind them. Their approach so solidified, Långfinger don’t seem to leave much to chance in their sound, but Crossyears engages heavy rock tradition effectively while bridging a gap of decades across its run, and that, frankly, seems like enough for any one record to take on.

Långfinger on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

 

Soggy, Soggy

soggy soggy

Soggy’s self-titled LP, released in this edition by Outer Battery Records (see also Arctic, Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket), is a reissue of a 2008 collection of tracks from a span of years that find the blown-out French punkers paying direct homage to The Stooges with a cover of the seminal “I Wanna be Your Dog,” immediately drawing a line to what seems to have been the band’s most prominent influence. Some 35-plus years after they were initially put to tape, Soggy’s tracks continue to feel dangerous and raw in their frenetic proto-punkery, and that would seem to be exactly what the Soggy LP is looking to convey, digging into the vast trove of lost artifacts in heavy and punk rock and finding a treasure ripe for hindsight appreciation. As much as it just makes me want to put on the self-titled Stooges record or Fun House, I can’t argue with the success of Soggy’s Soggy or not admire its mission, even if some of its blows land harder than others.

Soggy on Bandcamp

Outer Battery Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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Friday Full-Length: Operator Generator, Polar Fleet

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Operator Generator, Polar Fleet (2001)

There is an essential truth in Operator Generator‘s 2001 debut, Polar Fleet, and if you’ll indulge me for a minute or two, I’d like to explore it. The San Jose, California, four-piece of vocalist Mitchell French, guitarist Tom Choi, bassist Joe Tucci and drummer Michael Parkinson released the eight-track outing in 2001 during the latter days of Man’s Ruin Records — it’s catalog number MR-2008, which means it came after the label’s ill-fated 1999 distribution alignment with Artemis Records, so that makes sense — and even beyond the basic fact of its quality riffing, or of its groove, to me it represents a clear marker in the march of generations of heavy rock. I’ve talked about this a lot, in Friday Full-Length posts, in reviews, and so on, but while it’s by no means the only example — Man’s Ruin alone remains a treasure trove of now-obscure pre-social-media heavy, from SuplecsBottomBegotten and Drunk Horse to the rawer Mass and Greenmachine, let alone anything anyone else put out on a label or independently — Operator Generator remains a perfect example of a record that, now, it’s almost too easy to view as being ahead of its time.

Granted, they had a direct line to Sleep via Choi, who previously played guitar in Asbestosdeath as part of a lineup that also included Matt PikeAl Cisneros and Chris Hakius, but to listen to the post-Sleep’s Holy Mountain chug of “Infinite Loop” and any number of acts who send me the Bandcamp links to their “debut EP” — a demo by any other name — on a weekly basis, you would in many ways think the last 15 years never happened. I’m not saying these bands aren’t allowed to take influence from the past. Far from it. One could and probably should quite easily argue that representing aesthetic traditionalism is half the point of working within any genre — the other half, hopefully, being originality — but as listeners, I feel like we have a responsibility to dedicate ourselves to understanding where those traditions come from, and so that’s why I tend to go on at such lengths about the days before Facebook and Instagram brought a new wave of bands particularly from the US, Europe and Australia. That might sound like I’m advocating a dry, academic approach to listening to music, and I’m not — at least not to the extent that cold analysis would trump actual enjoyment — but part of moving a style forward, or moving anything forward, is exploring the history that birthed it. Enjoying the output of new bands is one of the greatest joys the planet has to offer, and it’s one I feel can only be enriched by a fuller framework.

What’s the fucking point? The fucking point is riffs weren’t invented in 2006. Or 2001. Or 1995. Or 1969. Or 1955. Or 1928. The impulse to create something of meaning and presence goes back to cave drawings and probably long before that. Listening to Polar Fleet, whether it’s the forward push the title-track or the on-theme vibes of the later “Arctic Quest,” I’m reminded of just how crucial it is that as creative people — and both hearing and making records can be creative acts, make no mistake — attempts are made to engage with history. Not at the sacrifice of the present, but toward its future. Operator Generator had two releases out in their time in this long-player and a prior self-titled EP on 12th Records, and if either showed up in my inbox today, I might note the dated sound of the drums on “Museum’s Flight,” but I’d be just as likely to offer high praise to the psychedelic expansion of closer “Soil of Lavamore,” and if I didn’t know the album’s origin, I’m sure I could be convinced it was brand new. I invite you to put it next to any number of current releases and see if you don’t get where I’m coming from. The more time passes, the more records like this one become important, and the more important it becomes to realize the effect they’ve had on the development of heavy music worldwide. Context matters.

Polar Fleet has an impending reissue by Twin Earth Records — which, if you want the context, is headed by Ric Bennett, of high-grade Sabbath worshipers Starchild and Stars that Move. More on that as I hear it.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I appreciate your indulging the preach, but as we come down to the wire on 2016 and lists start to come out and stuff like that, I can’t help but feel like there are an awful lot of not-that-new ideas being celebrated as revolutionary. That’s the nature of things, I suppose, and end-of-year critical hyperbole is a fact of life — I’ve certainly been guilty of it as well — but I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting old. I remember being 22 and starting to seriously dig into heavy rock — hardly ground floor; this is circa 2002-2003 — and it all sounded so fresh, when even bands like Operator Generator were feeding off what came before them. Dudes who saw Kyuss in 1992, or for that matter Mountain in 1971, were probably shaking their heads and wondering what the big deal was. Like I said, nature of things.

This weekend is the Xmas holiday. If it’s one you celebrate for either religious or secular reasons, I hope it’s a good one for you. Family, gift-giving, food, the whole bit. The Patient Mrs. and I will head south, first to her family in Connecticut and then to mine in New Jersey — not that her family isn’t my family and my family isn’t hers, I’m just categorizing by blood relation; love abounds from all sides and I feel remarkably fortunate for that — but should return to Massachusetts on Monday following the revelry. Not certain on the exact timing yet, but it’s hardly our first time at this rodeo, so we’ll figure it out, and as I’ve discovered time and again, I can run a decent enough hotspot from my phone on the I-95 corridor to get posts up from my laptop while on the road.

That’s good, because Monday starts the Quarterly Review, which will take us into the New Year as it’s six days this time instead of the traditional five. I’m thinking of it as kind of a wrap-up for 2016, so there’s a lot to cover. It could’ve been two full weeks, but I’d lose my mind. I’ll be plenty busy as it is. Here’s a tentative look at the week-plus:

Mon.: Quarterly Review day one; comment from Geezer on touring Europe.
Tue.: Quarterly Review day two; track premiere from Michael Wohl.
Wed.: Quarterly Review day three.
Thu.: Quarterly Review day four.
Fri.: Quarterly Review day five.
Sun.: Year-End Poll results out.
Mon.: Quarterly Review day six.

Yup, look for those results on New Year’s Day, and the last batch of Quarterly Review writeups — 10 records per day, as usual — that Monday. Starting on the first, I’ve also got a new sponsorship deal for the site being tried out that I’m excited for, and of course there’s plenty of news and videos and other stuff peppered throughout the week that still needs to be sorted. It will be busy and require much coffee, and that’s apparently how I like it.

But as I sign off even momentarily — because really I’m just about to get back to work on the aforementioned Quarterly Review; not actually going anywhere — let me please wish you once again a happy holiday. Be safe, have a great time, and listen to awesome music. If you missed it, there’s a four-hour podcast that went up yesterday that might help in that endeavor. Just saying.

All the best and back Monday. Thanks for reading, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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