Quarterly Review: Avon, The Discussion, Alms, Vessel of Light, Enojado, Mother Mars, Southfork, Gypsy Sun Revival, Valhalla Lights, L.O.W.

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

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is the part of each Quarterly Review when I begin to question my life choices. Otherwise known as ‘the beginning.’ I still haven’t decided if this is going to be a five-dayer or a six-dayer, but one way or another, between now and whenever it ends, at least 50 records will be reviewed in batches of 10 per day. It’s completely insane. Completely. Every three months or so I remind myself of this by doing it again, and every time it ends up being worth the insanity. I’ve no doubt that will be the case here as well, but looking across the next five days at placeholders where reviews need to be, well, yeah. It’s pretty insane.

So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Avon, Dave’s Dungeon

avon daves dungeon

Dave’s Dungeon is the second full-length from Californian desert rockers Avon, and with it they make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds. Peppered with varied songwriting across alternately garage rocking cuts like “Yello,” “On Fire” and “Red Barn” (video premiere here), languid psychedelic excursions in “Space Native” and the subtly proggy “Hero with a Gun,” and the classic desert crunch of “Dungeon Dave,” “Mace Face” and “Terraformations,” the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist James Childs, bassist Charles Pasarell (also Waxy) and drummer Alfredo Hernández (ex-Kyuss, Yawning Man, etc.) have no doubt garnered attention due to the participation of the latter, but all three manage to leave their mark across the 10 tracks, particularly Childs. His English-accented vocals become a defining element in “Hero with a Gun” and “Yello,” and whether fast or slow, the rhythm section offers air-tight accompaniment. Straightforward in their approach but not without some flourish, Avon bring their own touch to the classic desert style and offer memorable songs in the process. Nobody loses.

Avon on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

The Discussion, European Tour EP

The Discussion European Tour Ep 2017

Issued to coincide with an initial string of Fall 2017 European shows, the aptly-titled Tour EP serves as the debut offering from The Discussion, and its five tracks mark the return of guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants, not heard from since the end of her prior outfit, Kylesa. With “A Gesture/Other Side,” Pleasants and company commune with post-rock and atmospheric stretch, where “Like Rain” and “Surf Jesus” channel New Wave and Blondie pop with an underlying heft of low end to add presence. Through it all, Pleasants’ vocals prove a patient and melodic element, and as “Before We’re Gone” brings in a moody krautrock sensibility and finale “Cuts Like a Knife” engages louder and more forward riffing in its final minute payoff, the message that The Discussion has only begun comes through loud and clear. Tour EP sounds like the beginning stages of a larger process of experimentation and creative growth, and one hopes it proves to be precisely that.

The Discussion on Thee Facebooks

The Discussion on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Demo Vol. 1

alms demo vol 1

Modern heavy rock groove meets classic metal guitar on AlmsDemo Vol. 1, which, as it turns out, is more of a sampler than an actual demo, comprised as it is of two rough mixes from the band’s forthcoming debut album. The result of this mesh on “The Offering” and “Dead Water” is somewhere between Uncle Acid swing and Iron Maiden twin lead work, and the five-piece do well immediately to own the combination and make it cohesive sonically. Traditional doom play more of a role in “Dead Water,” and the keys of vocalist Jess Kamen – joined by guitarist/vocalist Bob Sweeney, guitarist Danny McDonald, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans – and while I don’t know what label it is that’s going to pick them up (I’d believe anyone from Ripple to Shadow Kingdom to Season of Mist, depending on how much they want to tour), but if these two songs are anything to go by, they’ll be lucky to get them.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Alms on Bandcamp

 

Vessel of Light, Vessel of Light

vessel of light vessel of light

Collaborating between Ohio and New Jersey, Vessel of Light brings together vocalist Nathan Opposition of Ancient VVisdom and guitarist Dan Lorenzo of Hades. Their self-titled five-tracker EP (on Argonauta) melds bluesy metallic riffing with tales of murder and drugs on cuts like “Dead Flesh and Bones” (video premiere here) and its eponymous closer, which emphasizes a hook based around the lines, “LSD has got a hold on me/I wanna show you all the things that I’ve seen.” It goes like that. For Lorenzo, parts recall the groove he brought to short-lived heavy rock outfit The Cursed, but with Opposition’s lyrics and the periodic delving into harsher vocals, there’s a moodier and more aggressive edge to the songs that helps define the personality of the duo as a band. How often they’ll work together remains to be seen, they make a murderous introduction with this EP and there’s plenty of fodder here for further exploration should they get there.

Vessel of Light on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Enojado, Mist and Thunder

enojado mist and thunder

German trio Enojado was founded by guitarist/vocalist Stephan Kieserling circa 2002, and though he’s been through numerous lineups since, with bassist/vocalist Thomas Schnaube and drummer Till Junker, he’s put together the band’s first release since their 2014 The Chain is Loose LP was issued by Setalight. At under half an hour and six tracks plus an intro, late 2017’s Mist and Thunder offers solid heavy rock songwriting with a straightforward approach bordering on the metallic in its tone but never quite departing a heavy rock context in rhythm, even in the starts and stops of “Notorious.” The obvious standout in heft is the seven-minute “Coma,” which seems to add weight to everything around it, from “The Truth About Gold” earlier to “I Saw the Sun,” which follows, and the finale in “Queen of Heaven,” which brings a quick payoff to the release and leaves a residual echo and drone/guitar minimalism for its last two minutes. Less derivative than it at first seems, Mist and Thunder might take multiple rounds to sink in, but proves worth the effort of a dedicated listen.

Enojado on Thee Facebooks

Enojado on Bandcamp

 

Mother Mars, On Lunar Highlands

mother mars on lunar highlands

It’s kind of rare for a band to sound like they’re making fun of their own music as they play it, and yet, “Lost Planet Airmen” from Mother Mars’ fourth full-length, On Lunar Highlands, does precisely that. The Aussie trio led by multi-instrumentalists Frank (drums, synth, Clavinet) and Paul (guitar, bass, synth, banjo-mandolin, keys) Attard – who also produced together – and featuring the bluesy stylings of vocalist Dave Schembri, did not make the 11-tracker a minor undertaking. Rather, at 69 minutes, it pushes through stoner boogie on “Thought it Best to Cut You Loose” and still has room for heady jams on extended pieces like “The Stalwarts of Stalwart Castle” (9:31), “Woodhollow Green” (12:55) and the penultimate title-track (8:35), which leads to the far-out banjo shenanigans of closer “The Heavy Hand of the Destroyer.” Needless to say, madness ensues. Interludes like “Bean Stalkin’” and “Bean Stalkin’ Again” and the experimental “The Working Mind of the Creator” add anything-can-happen flair, and the weirder On Lunar Highlands gets, the more it satisfies. It gets very, very weird.

Mother Mars on Thee Facebooks

Mother Mars on Bandcamp

 

Southfork, Through a Dark Lens

southfork through a dark lens
Two decades after their founding in 1997, Stockholm’s Southfork returned late last year with their first album since 2001’s Straight Ahead, the seven-track Through a Dark Lens, which itself is nearly five years in the making. Opening with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 7:59 “Already Gone,” the bass-heavy approach the band takes is indeed emblematic of an era now easily thought of as classic, but one could hardly call it dated for that. Rather, tracks like “Into the Deep” and “Tomb of the Mirror Men” flow easily from one to the next and the record reveals in the strut of “Seventosix” and the answer-back closer “Nowhere Gone” just why someone might put almost half a decade of effort into realizing it. Whether you remember Southfork’s original run or not, Through a Dark Lens offers immersive tone and songwriting and as Southfork have already followed it up with what seems to be a compilation release, it may signal a return to fuller activity on their part.

Southfork on Thee Facebooks

Southfork on Bandcamp

 

Gypsy Sun Revival, Journey Outside of Time

Gypsy Sun Revival Journey Outside Of Time

Production by Kent Stump (Wo Fat). Mastering by John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet). Released through Nasoni Records. Sure enough, the second album from Texas heavy psych rockers Gypsy Sun Revival, Journey Outside of Time, wants nothing for the quality of its associations and with the Hendrixian guitar work of Will Weise and the bluesy classic frontman approach of vocalist Mario Rodriguez, they earn that pedigree through and through. Tyler Gene Davis’ contributions on organ only further the ‘70s vibes on “To the Sky” before Weise takes a wah-soaked solo backed by Lee Ryan on bass and drummer Ben H., and the later two-part “Pisces” combines with closer “Departure” to create a thrilling jammed-out side B that takes the more structured craft of “Indigo” and catchy opener “Cadillac to Mexico” earlier and pulls them through an interdimensional haze that only does more to evoke the album’s title. Between Journey Outside of Time and Gypsy Sun Revival’s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), one is left wondering how long we’ll be able to think of them as a well-kept secret of Texas’ fertile heavy underground.

Gypsy Sun Revival on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Valhalla Lights, My Gracious Highway

valhalla lights my gracious highway

There’s a commercial sense of clarity to Valhalla LightsMy Gracious Highway, which seems to have been originally issued by the band in 2016 but is being given a renewed international push. It’s a crisp 13-track/45-minute long-player, marked by solid songcraft and the forward performance of vocalist Ange Saul, who takes the place of departed original singer Phoebe Black, who passed away in 2015 just prior to guitarist George Christie, bassist Brent “Badger” Crysell and drummer Deon Driver – all formerly of heavy rockers FORT – entered the studio to record their debut release. Songs veer toward Queens of the Stone Age-style groove on “Hammer the Witch” and closer “Punk,” and there’s enough variety of mood between the brooding “Beautiful,” showcase centerpiece “The One” and “Darker Side of Love” and the all-go rockers “Rise Above,” “Crucify” and “Someday” to carry the listener through smoothly with an abiding sense of professionalism. Will be too clean for some listeners, but is largely inarguable in its execution.

Valhalla Lights on Thee Facebooks

Valhalla Lights website

 

L.O.W., Bones EP

low bones ep

Located in the northwest of Poland, the acronymic four-piece L.o.W. debut with the Bones EP, which hurls forth three extended works of extreme sludge led into by an atmospheric intro. The band – the lineup of vocalist Adam, guitarist Marek, drummer Witold and bassist Micha? belong to the post-Primitive Man sphere of viciousness, but “Tear Me Open” offers some respite in its closing moments, pulling back on the massive plunder and switching from guttural growls to spoken vocals. With just a touch of Electric Wizard swirl, “Almost Like God’s,” renews the onslaught, offering a break in its middle from the Eyehategod-style sway while saving its most brutal growl for last, and at just under 10 minutes long, the title-track rounds out Bones with bass and drums unfolding a progression soon topped by guitar noise that lets the listener know they’ve just entered another level of punishment. There are moments of impulse toward stonerism that show themselves in Marek’s guitar work, but the primary mission on Bones seems to be assault, and the band has no problem living up to that intent.

L.o.W. on Bandcamp

L.o.W. on Thee Facebooks

 

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The Discussion Announce Inaugural European Tour Dates this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the discussion laura pleasants

Former Kylesa guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants recently announced the formation of a subsequent project, The Discussion, and it seems that she’s diving headfirst into the new band. Though no music has yet to surface from the outfit, which consists thus far of Pleasants alone in the studio but will perform as a live three-piece including bassist Derek Lynch and drummer/sampler Richard Adams, a first live incursion has been announced that’s set to take place over the bulk of Fall 2017 across a considerable swath of Europe.

A band’s first tour covering a span of three months on a route of multiple countries on foreign shores? Some might prefer to test the waters with a weekender here or there, but hitting the road hard is nothing new for Pleasants, who did so for years as a member of Kylesa. And with that band’s increasingly progressive output leading up to their 2015 swansong, Exhausting Fire, which you can hear in full below, I have the feeling I won’t be the only one interested to find out where Pleasants takes The Discussion sound-wise. All the better she’s taking the project out to get it into as many ears as possible.

Dates, many of which are still to be announced, follow here, as posted on the social medias:

the discussion euro tour

The Discussion – European Fall Tour 2017

Updates are happening all the time, so please keep checking with us!

Wed 6/9: Hamburg, DE @ Hafenklang
Thurs 7/9: Stockholm, SE @ Undergången
Fri 8/9: Gothenburg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska
Sat 9/9 Oslo, NO @ Revolver
Sun 10/9 Copenhagen, DK @ Beta
Mon 11/9 Berlin, DE @ Tiefgrund
Tues 12/9 Leipzig, DE @ AKKO
Wed 13/9 TBC
Thurs 14/9 Vienna, AT @ Das Bach
Sat 16/9 Budapest, HU
Sun 17/9 Belgrade, RS
Thurs 21/9 Sofia, BG
Fri 22/9 Thessalonik, i Greece
Sat 23/9 Athens Greece
Sun 24/9 Ioannina Greece
Thurs 28/9 – 7/10 : ITALY TBA
Sun 8/10 Lyon, FR
Tues 10/10 Barcelona, ES TBC
Wed 11/10 Castellón, ES
Thurs 12/10 Madrid TBC
Fri 13/10 Langreo, Asturias, ES
Sat 14/10 Bilbao, ES TBC
Tues 17/10 Paris, FR TBC
Thurs 19/10 UK TBC
Fri 20/10 UK TBC
Sat 21/10 UK TBC
Sun 22/10 UK Stonehenge
Tues 24/10 Ghent or Antwerp, BE TBC
Wed 25/10 Amsterdam, NL TBC
Thurs 26/10 NL TBC
Fri 27/10 NL TBC
Sat 28/10 Belgium or Germany TBC
Sun 29/10 Belgium or Germany TBC
Tues 31/10 Karlsruhe, DE Dudefest
Wed 1/11 Switzerland TBA
Thurs 2/11 Munich TBC
Fri 3/11 Leanna’s b-day / off
Sat 4/11: TBC Southern Germany

The Discussion is:
Laura Pleasants – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, etc
LIVE:
Richard Adams – Drums, Percussion, Samples
Derek Lynch – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/thediscussion.laurapleasants/
http://www.kylesa.com/

Kylesa, Exhausting Fire (2015)

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Kylesa Set April 22 Release for Live at Maida Vale Studios

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kylesa

I know this is probably the least-relevant measure that’s ever been applied to the band, but I’ll take a Kylesa live performance 150 times before I go see Mastodon. The two groups, who pretty much have in common Georgian lineage and a move from the heavier end of sludge thrust into more progressive and melodically conscious fare — not nothing — aren’t really comparable at this point, with Mastodon having gotten a major label push a significant-enough difference to make them largely apples and oranges and Kylesa pretty much having broken up (at least for now) last year following the release of the apparently-aptly-titled Exhausting Fire through Season of Mist in 2015, but still. I’m just saying. Kylesa were fucking awesome live every time I saw them.

They’ll release Live at Maida Vale Studios on April 22. It’s their fourth outing for Season of Mist, which makes me wonder what the terms of their contract with the label might’ve been after three studio outings in Exhausting Fire, 2013’s Ultraviolet (review here) and 2010’s Spiral Shadow (review here). For some reason, three-album deals and five-album deals seem more likely in my head than four-album deals, which of course Live at Maida Vale Studios would fulfill. Odd.

Okay. Whatever happens with Kylesa in the future, remember they never stopped progressing. PR wire has art and details:

kylesa-live-at-maida-vale-studios

KYLESA release Record Store Day exclusive, “Live at Maida Vale Studios”

Savannah’s genre-defying heavy rock group KYLESA will see the release of ‘Live at Maida Vale Studios’ as part of Record Store Day 2017. ‘Live at Maida Vale…’ captures KYLESA’s February 2014 BBC Radio 1 Rock Show session in its entirety, and has never been commercially available before. The session was recorded with BBC DJ Daniel P. Carter for the BBC program “Rock Show with Daniel P Carter”.

The track list for ‘Live at Maide Vale…’ is:
1. Quicksand
2. Long Gone
3. Don’t Look Back
4. To Forget

‘Live at Maida Vale…’ is a one time pressing of 1500 12″ LPs, 1000 CDs, and 150 cassettes and will be available on April 22 2017 at independent record stores worldwide. A full list of confirmed Record Store Day special releases and more can be found here.

Maida Vale Studios is a complex of seven BBC sound studios in London.The historic set of studios have seen musical performances dating back from 1946 to the present. Past performances have include music from legendary rock icons such as DAVID BOWIE, LED ZEPPELIN, JIMI HENDRIX and many more.

KYLESA’s most recent studio release is their critically acclaimed record ‘Exhausting Fire’. ‘Exhausting Fire’, which is available across several CD and LP formats at the Season of Mist E-Shop. The album is streaming via Bandcamp, and is also available on Spotify.

https://www.facebook.com/KYLESAmusic
https://twitter.com/kylesamusic
https://www.instagram.com/kylesa_band/
https://kylesasom.bandcamp.com/
https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=kylesa

Kylesa, Exhausting Fire (2015)

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Black Tusk Releasing Pillars of Ash Jan. 29; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

black tusk

The forthcoming Pillars of Ash by Savannah, Georgia, trio Black Tusk represents their final recorded work with bassist/vocalist Jonathan Athon, who passed away a year ago following a motorcycle accident. The hard-touring outfit — who’ve since recruited Corey Barhorst, formerly of Kylesa and who just released a new record called Heading East (review here) with his other band, Niche, as their third member — will no doubt hit the road in the New Year to support the new album, but preorders are up now and nothing has yet been announced for shows.

Jan. 29 is the release date, Relapse is the label, Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust the producer. Details and the new song “God’s on Vacation” follow from the PR wire:

black tusk pillars of ash

BLACK TUSK ANNOUNCE ‘PILLARS OF ASH’ LP & PREMIERE NEW SONG

Savannah, GA’s Black Tusk have established themselves as one of the hardest working bands in rock since their formation over 10 years ago. After four full-lengths, numerous splits and EP’s and thousands of shows under their belts, the punk/metal power trio was faced with an immense and unexpected tragedy in late 2014 when founding bassist/vocalist Jonathan Athon passed away after a motorcycle accident in his hometown. Now, as a testament to his profound and lasting legacy on the heavy music scene, the band are releasing Pillars of Ash, their final recordings with Athon, on January 29th, 2016 via Relapse Records. Recorded with Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind behind the boards and featuring gorgeous artwork by Jeremy Hush (Skeletonwitch, Rwake), Pillars of Ash is the culmination of three brothers-in-arms’ blood, sweat and tears, and is Black Tusk’s finest accomplishment to date.

Formed in 2005 by Athon, guitarist Andrew Fidler and drummer James May, Black Tusk hit the ground running and toured relentlessly on their first EP, When Kingdoms Fall. They kept up a manic pace, recording two more demos (2006’s untitled demo and 2007’s The Fallen Kingdom). Hyperrealist signed on to release their debut LP, 2008’s Passage Through Purgatory, and 2009 saw them churn out a trio of splits with the likes of The Holy Mountain, ASG, and Fight Amp. Soon after, the band signed to Relapse and formed a partnership that lasts to this day, first collaborating on their 2010 breakthrough Taste the Sin and then on their highly ¬anticipated 2011 follow up, Set the Dial. Since then, Black Tusk have released a pair of EP’s—2013’s Tend No Wounds and the digital¬-only 2014 EP Vulture’s Eye—and kept pounding the pavement in the United States, Europe, and the UK alongside bands like Red Fang, Kvelertak, Down, Municipal Waste, Fu Manchu, Inter Arma, Intronaut, and so many others, as well as being hand¬picked to appear on Metallica’s Orion Festival in 2012.

In 2014, Black Tusk hit the studio with their old friend and accomplished audio engineer, Joel Grind, to work on Pillars of Ash. Before they could get their new record into stores and jump back up in their big white tour van, though, the band suffered a setback beyond what most could even imagine. In November, mere weeks before the band was due to kick off their biggest tour yet, Athon was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Several days later, on November 9, 2014, he passed away at the age of 31, leaving behind hundreds of friends, family members, and his beloved dog Cutter as well as his brothers in Black Tusk. Support poured in from fans, friends, and fellow musicians from around the world; stunned, Andrew and James laid down their instruments and tried to process the loss. For a few weeks, the band’s future was uncertain, but ultimately, the remaining duo made the difficult decision to soldier on and carry on in Athon’s memory. Athon himself could have chosen no better successor than Corey Barhorst, a longtime friend and veteran musician who heads up his own project, Niche, and previously held down the low end for Kylesa. Barhorst initially joined the band as a live member in time for their European tour with Black Label Society, but after that, was welcomed into the fold as a full-blooded member of Black Tusk.

Black Tusk have lived through the kind of hardship and heartbreak that would cripple a lesser band, but it’s that dedication, gumption, and pure bullheaded stubbornness that’s taken them around the world and as far away from the lacey Spanish moss and sweltering streets of Savannah than any of them could’ve dared dream.

Look for Pillars of Ash to be available January 29th, 2016 and stay tuned for more news coming soon.

Pillars of Ash, track listing:
1. God’s On Vacation
2. Desolation of Endless Times
3. Bleed on Your Knees
4. Born of Strife
5. Damned in the Ground
6. Beyond the Divide
7. Black Tide
8. Still Not Well
9. Walk Among the Sky
10. Punk Out
11. Leveling

http://www.relapse.com/blacktusk/
https://blacktusk.bandcamp.com/album/pillars-of-ash
https://www.facebook.com/BlackTusk/
https://www.instagram.com/tcbt/
https://twitter.com/blacktusk

Black Tusk, “God’s on Vacation”

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Niche Premiere “When I’m Gone” from Heading East

Posted in audiObelisk on November 6th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

niche (photo by Andrew Von Goellner)

The prevailing vibe is vibe, and the vibe is its own excuse for vibing. In the first 20 seconds of their third album, Heading East, Savannah, Georgia’s Niche offer a glimpse at Thin Lizzy meeting up with Queen for summertime harmonies. Plus heavy. Plus Mellotron. Really, it’s the kind of launch that so immediately soothes, there’s little to do but throw up your hands and admit to yourself you’re hooked for the duration. Fortunately, Niche do not disappoint from there. Instead, they build on the pastoral feel with liberal doses of organ and a persistence of melody that comes not in contrast to tonal or rhythmic weight, but in collusion with it.

Dual-guitar leads from Justin Dick (also vocals) and Kristopher Maedke-Russell (also also vocals) ring through a crisp classic heavy rock dogwhistle to those clued in to the aforementioned Irish pioneers, but with the organ/key work of Corey Barhorst and the fluid rhythms of bassist Michael Redmond and drummer Lee Vallier, a song like “When I’m Gone” digs into its own creative space, sounding rich but not overcooked as it meanders through an extended instrumental jam in which all five parties involved take advantage of an opportunity to shine. “When I’m Gone” is one of two longer (over eight-minute) inclusions on Heading East — they’re arranged one per side; the other is closer “Days to Come” at 9:21 — and as far out as it goes, it leaves room to come back to the chorus at the end, Niche keeping songwriting at the fore even as they deliver highlight performances.

“On Down the Line” is a reminder of how Steely Dan‘s hits happened, an niche heading eastinviting vocal arrangement at the forefront, but like with the guitars of “Exiled to Islands,” Barhorst‘s keys do much to enrich the proceedings. Barhorst is a former Kylesa bassist (currently also in Black Tusk), and Heading East was recorded by that band’s Philip Cope at The Jam Room in Colombia, South Carolina, and released on Kylesa‘s Retro Futurist Records imprint, but there’s little sonic comparison between the two to be made. Niche‘s sound is progressive in its way, but the earthy psychedelia they exude as “On Down the Line” Mellotrons its way toward the conclusion of side A is geared toward establishing an organic, classic-styled flow.

And while vinyl is the clear intent in the album’s structure, “Sweet Dear Anne” picks up with a logical continuation of the spirit of “On Down the Line,” moving into even more peaceful stylizations, reminiscent of some of what Night Horse did on their second record in terms of patience with a core of memorable craftsmanship behind it, but the pace gets a boot in the second half and that sets up “Tough and Mean” still to come. They never go so far as to start issuing threats, but Niche get a big thicker on the six-track offering’s penultimate cut, shifting from the quiet final measures of “Sweet Dear Anne” into a swell of lead guitar and cymbal wash that builds over the course of its first minute into the bed for a proto-metallic chug. They’re still having a good time, but the mood is a discernible turn from the song preceding, and in true side B fashion, it expands the context of the album overall, even as it underscores a lot of what has tied the whole release together in a toss-off reference to “the boys” as it winds to its ending.

Somewhat grander in its purposes, “Days to Come” closes out more in a classic prog vein, the early vocal melody in league with late-period Hypnos 69 likely by coincidence, but still, and seems less of a mind to provide a summary of what’s come before it than to expand on it with something even more lush. The one works just as well as the other might, honestly, given how in control of their sound Niche have been all along. The essential difference between “When I’m Gone” and “Days to Come” is that the closer doesn’t make that return to the verse, instead thrusting into more open spaces on propulsive soloing in an entirely instrumental second two-thirds that builds in pace and energy until an inevitable big rock finish brings “the set” to a close. Even in that moment, Niche remain wholesome, and if the last 15 seconds or so of their record is a bit of an indulgence, it’s one well-earned by Heading East‘s 38 minutes prior.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting “When I’m Gone” from Heading East as a track premiere. Please find it on the player below, followed by more about the record from the PR wire, and enjoy:

With two previous self-released albums under their belt — So Be It and The Other Side Of The End, which were both recorded by their good friend Chris Adams — in December 2014, NICHE went to The Jam Room in Colombia, South Carolina to record their third album with longtime friend Phillip Cope of Kylesa at the helm of producing the album, the first release with their current lineup. Titled Heading East, the album catapults six new tracks with nearly forty minutes of mega rich, perfectly hazy, psychedelically-induced classic rock fueled and jacked-up for modern times, completed with beautiful, kaleidoscopic artwork by Samantha Muljat.

Offers NICHE’s Michael Redmond about the new release, “The music scene in Savannah has always been a family to me; we work, play, live, love, cry and party together. We help and support each other. I could not be happier that something I’m so proud of will be released by friends and musicians here in Savannah.”

Heading East will see release through Retro Futurist on digital and CD November 13th with a vinyl pressing to follow in early 2016.

NICHE Live:
12/11/2015 The Jinx – Savannah, GA w/ Caustic Casanova

Niche on Thee Facebooks

Niche on Bandcamp

Retro Futurist Records website

Retro Futurist on Bandcamp

Retro Futurist on Thee Facebooks

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Kylesa to Release Exhausting Fire on Oct. 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

kylesa

Yeah, yeah, Kylesa have a new album coming, that’s very cool. Look at that frickin’ list of tour dates! Kylesa don’t need to be touring like that at this point. I mean, there are breaks in there, but if they wanted, the Savannah, Georgia, outfit could probably take it down a little bit in terms of the road work. People know who they are, have a pretty good idea of what they do — as much as one can as regards Kylesa from one album to the next — so it’s not like they’re going door-to-door-punk-rock spreading the word two ears at a time. Point is it looks like a lot of shows. I guess they’ve found a way to make it sustainable. Not everyone does.

And while the album title Exhausting Fire — which is the follow-up to 2013’s Ultraviolet (review here) — doesn’t do much to capture the energy they bring to the stage, no doubt it will prove of its own merit, Kylesa having yet to stagnate in what seems a creative progression as unrelenting as their touring cycle.

The PR wire brings album details, tour dates and the new song “Lost and Confused” for previewy enjoyment:

kylesa exhausting fire

KYLESA announce new album, ‘Exhausting Fire’

Savannah’s genre-defying quintet KYLESA have announced a new album titled ‘Exhausting Fire’, to be released by Season of Mist on Oct. 2. The band are streaming the first track from the new record titled “Lost and Confused.” Pre-orders for ‘Exhausting Fire’ will be available across several CD and LP formats at the Season of Mist E-Shop.

Regarding the new album, KYLESA vocalist/guitarist Phil Cope comments: “‘Exhausting Fire’ is an album we really put our hearts on our sleeves for. We’ve always done that, but emotionally, it’s probably the most honest and raw album we’ve ever done.”

Guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants continues, “No band sounds like us and we don’t sound like any other band. After all these years of experimenting with different styles and sounds, we’ve really developed our own thing and I can faithfully say that we sound like us. With this album, we’ve successfully made a record that incorporates all the elements we’ve always played with into a record that works on its own.”

The album artwork and track list for ‘Exhausting Fire’ can be found below:

Track List:
1. Crusher
2. Inward Debate
3. Moving Day
4. Lost and Confused
5. Shaping The Southern Sky
6. Falling
7. Night Drive
8. Blood Moon
9. Growing Roots
10. Out Of My Mind
11. Paranoid (bonus track)

KYLESA have announced a tour across the U.S. The tour, which begins on August 29 sees the band traveling throughout August and September, before concluding in Seattle on November 22.

KYLESA tour dates:
8/29 Durham, NC @ Motorco
8/31 Charlottesville, Va @ The Southern
9/1 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
9/2 Montreal, QC @ Cafe Campus
9/3 Toronto, ON @ Mod Club Theater
9/4 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
9/5 St. Louis, MO @ Ready Room
9/6 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
9/7 Augusta, GA @ Sky City
10/6 St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre
10/7 Miami, FL @ Grand Central
10/8 Orlando, FL @ The Social
10/9 Savannah, GA @ Jinx
10/10 Asheville, NC @ New Mountain
10/13 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
10/14 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
10/16 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
10/17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
10/19 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
10/20 Philadelphia, PA @ Black Box @ Underground Arts
10/23 Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
10/24 Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
10/25 Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn
11/6 Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
11/7 Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre
11/8 San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
11/10 San Diego, CA @ The Irenic
11/11 Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red
11/13 Austin, TX @ Red 7
11/14 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
11/15 Dallas, TX @ The Prophet Bar
11/17 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
11/18 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
11/19 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
11/20 Boise, ID @ Neurolux
11/21 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
11/22 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
11/6 Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
11/7 Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda Theater
11/8 San Francisco, CA @ The Filmore
11/10 San Diego, CA @ The Irenic
11/11 Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red
11/13 Austin, TX @ Red 7
11/14 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
11/15 Dallas, TX @ Prophet Bar
11/17 Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep
11/18 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
11/19 Salt Lake City UT @ The Complex
11/20 Boise, ID @ Neurox
11/21 Portland, OR @ Hawthrone Theater
11/22 Seattle, WA @ Crocodile

http://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/predefined-search?id_list=65
https://www.facebook.com/KYLESAmusic
http://season-of-mist.com/

Kylesa, “Lost and Confused”

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Kylesa, Ultraviolet: Grounded in Drift

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Almost nothing is certain, and when it comes to doubly-drummed Georgian progressive sludgers Kylesa, even less than that. Yet when it comes to approaching their sixth full-length and second for Season of Mist, the 11-track Ultraviolet — or really any new Kylesa album — the one thing the listener can be sure of going into it is that it will be a step beyond its predecessor. At this point, I don’t think the band would release a record that wasn’t. Ultraviolet‘s predecessor was 2010’s Spiral Shadow (review here), which changed their course from jagged, crunching sludge to a more smoothed out and progressive sound — a shift that they’d built toward on 2009’s Static Tensions (review here) in some ways but come nowhere near materializing as completely — and one that, as ever, divided their fanbase into those who could get on board and those who couldn’t. This seems to happen on a nearly per-album basis with the Savannah natives.

While we’re talking about expectation, I’d anticipate no less for Ultraviolet in the long run, but Kylesa have never had a problem picking up new fans along the way to fill the spots of those who couldn’t get past one period or another of their ongoing progression; they’ve maintained a reputation as a hard-touring band for years and rightly so. Rooted in the work of guitarists/vocalists Phillip Cope (also theremin and production) and Laura Pleasants, there are consistencies of sound to be heard between full-lengths, and sure enough between Spiral Shadow and Ultraviolet as well, but save for very few moments throughout the latest, the band would be all but unrecognizable to anyone who jumped from 2005’s To Walk a Middle Course or 2006’s Time Will Fuse its Worth right to it, and no doubt that’s the intent: Progress. Joined by drummers Carl McGinley and Eric Hernandez and bassist Chase Rudeseal (the latter of whom may or may not have actually played on the recording), Pleasants and Cope have never failed to draw a distinct line from one outing to the next, and though it’s an outgrowth of elements from Spiral Shadow like the pop hook of “Don’t Look Back” or the dreamy ambience underlying “To Forget,” that’s no less true of Ultraviolet than it has ever been.

Single-word titles on five of the 11 cuts on the 39-minute album — namely opening trio “Exhale,” “Unspoken,” “Grounded,” and closing duo “Quicksand” and “Drifting” — would seem to hint at some stripped-down sensibility or simplicity of approach, but the fact is Kylesa have never been so melodically switched on or engaged. Cope and Pleasants trade vocal parts immediately and effectively on the insistently-riffed “Exhale,” chugging distortion creating a jabbing tension topped by call and response shouts before a swirl takes hold that the drums(s) underscore with a thud less frantic than it has been in the past, but still indicative of two players at work. I suppose on a structural level, Ultraviolet‘s opening salvo is somewhat simplified, but the atmosphere becomes more complex as “Unspoken” opens with subdued guitar and a wash of effects, Cope coming in as the song kicks off with a semi-spoken line that Pleasants — whose ascent as a vocalist continues unabated — answers back with layered melodies. The most memorable stretches of Ultraviolet are still to come, but the momentum “Unspoken” helps create and its prog-toned guitar solo in the second half act as a precursor to some of the album’s most intriguing moments, giving way to the familiar winding structure of “Grounded”‘s central riff, readily accessible to anyone who’s followed the post-Mastodon course of Southern US heavy metal, Pleasants handling the verse and Cope taking what probably would be the ensuing chorus if it was ever repeated. Instead, they build on the instrumental for a bit and round out with layers of Pleasants‘ vocals, ending with just her voice to set up the shift to the more thickly toned and aggressive “We’re Taking This.”

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Kylesa Announce First Tour in Support of Ultraviolet

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Bringing with them the diverse bill of mystic doomers Blood Ceremony, cult psych heroes White Hills, and Atlanta-based instrumental spazzoids Lazer/Wulf, Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa are starting what will most likely be a lengthy tour cycle in support of their new album, Ultraviolet. Expected May 28 on Season of Mist, Ultraviolet is Kylesa‘s first record of new material since 2010’s Spiral Shadow, which saw them greatly expand their melodic reach and progressive sensibilities.

As much as I’ve been looking forward to hearing the LP, Kylesa have always been an excellent live act, so it’ll be great to catch the Ultraviolet songs in-person as well. The PR wire has info and the rather considerable list of dates:

KYLESA ANNOUNCE SPRING TOUR

ULTRAVIOLET PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW

Kylesa kick off their first North American tour in support of Ultraviolet (May 28, Season of Mist) on May 10 in Gainesville, Fla. at the High Dive.

“It’s been a while since we’ve done a headlining tour in the US or Canada,” explained singer/guitar player Laura Pleasants, referring to the near two-year gap since the Savannah band’s last run. “We are looking forward to doing a proper tour supporting Ultraviolet. It will be good to see friends and fans (old and new) and hit these once familiar landscapes again. “

Spin premiered “Quicksand,” a new song from the 11-track album, earlier this week (http://www.spin.com/articles/kylesa-quicksand-ultraviolet-stream) describing the song “joins the melodies of ‘90s shoegaze with the churn of modern sludge.” Ultraviolet pre-orders are available now via Season of Mist’s e-shop (http://e-shop.season-of-mist.com/en/predefined-search/37879).

Tour dates:
April 19 Savannah, GA The Dollhouse (Free show)
May 10 Gainesville, FL High Dive
May 11 Orlando, FL Backbooth
May 12 Miami, FL Churchhill’s
May 13 Tampa, FL The Orpheum
May 15 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s
May 16 Houston, TX Walters
May 17 Dallas, TX Trees
May 18 Austin, TX Mohawk
May 20 Albuquerque, NM Blackwater
May 21 Denver, CO Marquis Theater
May 22 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
May 24 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst
May 25 San Francisco, CA Slim’s
May 27 Portland, OR Star Theater
May 28 Seattle, WA Chop Suey
May 29 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl
May 31 Calgary, AB Dickens
June 1 Regina, SK The Exchange
June 2 Winnipeg, MB The Pyramid
June 3 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social Club
June 4 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s Oasis
June 5 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge
June 6 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme
June 7 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
June 8 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups
June 9 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlies
June 11 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
June 12 Ottawa, ON Maverick’s
June 13 Montreal, QC Il Motore
June 14 Brooklyn NY Northside Fest (Music Hall of Williamsburg)
June 15 Albany, NY Bogie’s
June 16 Boston, MA Middle East Downstairs
June 18 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
June 19 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel
June 20 Asheville, NC Asheville Music Hall
June 21 Atlanta, GA The Earl
June 22 Savannah, GA The Jinx

Opening for Kylesa will be Blood Ceremony, White Hills and Lazer/Wulf. “I think the package will deliver the goods as well; a little mix in the stew for everyone who digs our sound,” commented Pleasants. Tickets are available next week.

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