Posted in Reviews on April 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
From the very start of opener “El Memorioso,” the self-titled El Paraiso Records debut from Psicomagia is an album that makes short work of assumptions. In both their sound and in their situation, the four-or-five-or-six-piece offer surprises throughout the four tracks/39 minutes of Psicomagia, veering seemingly at will across stylistic borders. To look at their name, the fact that all the song titles are in Spanish and considering they’re on El Paraiso, one almost expects them to be European, but no, they’re based in San Diego, and while they cast off a lot of the heavy psychedelic swirl one might find in West Coast space rockers Mammatus, the jammier Harsh Toke and the ever-glorious Earthless — of the many things Psicomagiaare, you would not call them “gnarly,” at least on record — they maintain a progressive mindset that shows up in the crisp execution of these cuts. Comprised of “El Memorioso” (5:19), “El Congreso Pt 1″ (14:37), “El Congreso Pt. 2″ (12:36) and “Simplõn” (6:20), Psicomagia present a rational and a symmetry even unto the album’s structure that’s mirrored in their fitting sonic balance. At times, their guitar-less blend of Tyler Daughn‘s keys and organ, the tenor sax of Brian Ellis (also of Astra), the drums of Paul Marrone (also of Astra and Radio Moscow), Trevor Mast‘s bass and Bernardo Nuñez‘s spoken word can be dizzying, but they are never without a sense of texture or melody, and the depth of organ tone fills the place where a guitar would no doubt otherwise loose an apparently needless barrage of solos.
So if you think looking at the cover or seeing the tracks that you might know what you’re going to get from Psicomagia, be prepared to be delightfully wrong. While they retain a deep sense of creativity throughout — the rhythmic block hits that start “El Memorioso” give a cinematic beginning to the engaging atmosphere that unfolds — they are never out of control, and while parts may have been developed in jams, they’ve since been purposed into precision jolts of switched-on jazz. Ellis‘ sax and Daughn‘s keys often work in tandem effectively on bop runs while Marrone and Mast lock in heady foundations, and even in a freaked out movement like that which begins “El Congreso Pt. 1,” they retain a sense of direction if not to-the-second plotting. Most of the album is instrumental, but Nuñez‘s delivery — he’s credited in the liner of the digipak with “Poetry,” and the band further credit Daniel Guttierez with “words” online while listing only “…” with the disc — adds to the personality, his voice even for someone who doesn’t speak Spanish giving a human anchor to the musical leaping and cavorting of the instruments behind. Psicomagiais not the kind of album that happens without a consistent and fervent level of confidence behind it, but even as “El Congreso” moves in its immersive reaches between its two parts, none of the indulgence feels unwarranted. It seems like no matter which instrument one might choose to focus on at any given point, there’s something happening that’s worth paying attention to. That could just as easily fall flat, but for how well the musicians worth together.
My understanding is that the version of Colour Haze‘s 2004 self-titled seventh full-length album is the 2007 reissue. I figured any Colour Haze‘s Colour Hazewas the right choice. The difference is that the original CD edition was about 55 minutes long. Too much for a single LP, obviously, so the CD closer, “Flowers” is gone, as is “Mountain,” from side A. I’ll miss the latter more than the former, but as the album that’s come in a big way to define Colour Haze‘s sound as one of the most distinct in the European underground over the 10 years since its release, this clip — which was also the best quality available — wasn’t a loss either way. I don’t have this on vinyl. Maybe I should. I’d be lying if I said putting it on full-screen and watching the record spin with the cover propped up behind wasn’t a good sell.
It’s hard to pick a winner between Colour Hazeand its 2006 follow-up, Tempel, also released through Elektrohasch. Usually I’ll abdicate the responsibility. I’ll say that I remember when I got the CD of the self-titled and put it on, it was one of those moments where you can feel your blood get warmer. Particularly for arriving so soon after 2003′s Los Sounds de Krauts, it was a different vibe than that 2CD, fuzzier, more assured, jammier. Again, I don’t really have a favorite from Colour Haze, but this one is as essential as any you might want to put next to it. One interesting thing the vinyl seems to do is keep “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!” intact, timing-wise. A 22-minute B-side is nothing to scoff at, and every nuance leading to it is a joy. For “Love” alone, it’s one of the best heavy psych records ever made.
Tonight is the Small Stone Records showcase at the Middle East in Boston, and I’ll be hitting that up. I didn’t anticipate having the energy to close out the week afterwards, so it seemed prudent to do so beforehand. Monday I’ll have a review of that showcase and a full-stream of the new Causa Sui live album, Live at Freak Valley, with an accompanying review. Probably not the smartest thing I ever did to book both of those on the same day, but hell, not like I have a job, right? If I spend my afternoon furiously typing alternate descriptors for “heavy,” well at least I wasn’t in bed with my head buried under pillows dwelling on what a spectacular failure my decade in the music industry was. Gotta stay busy!
Also next week, look for a full-album stream from Hotel Wrecking City Traders, whose new one is killer. I’m in the process of working out a premiere for Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus too, because I think that’s worth hearing for people who may not be familiar with the band — I also didn’t really appreciate what they were doing until I heard it for myself and sat with it a while — but I’m not sure if it’ll be next week or sometime thereafter. I’ll figure it out one way or another.
You might notice an awful lot of Kyuss and Black Sabbath (also Colour Haze, and Grails and a bunch of Small Stone stuff) on the radio stream. It’s the backup server. The main server was at my now-former office in Jersey, and this week I asked Slevin to run by and pick it up, which he was kind enough to do. It’s being brought north by my family, who are coming up tomorrow for a visit (“uh, hey guys, can you bring this computer and also a bunch of food?” — classy), and I’ll hope to have it running at some point over the weekend. Until then, Kyuss and Sabbath hardly seems like a downer.
Have a great and safe couple of days and I’ll catch you back here Monday for more wild adventures. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fresh off a tour alongside Truckfighters that took them through SXSW before heading out west, Pennsylvania’s Crobot have announced they’ll release their new, self-titled EP through Wind-Up Records on May 13. The four-tracker was recorded by Machine, whose largesse-capturing handiwork one might remember from Clutch‘s 2013 outing, Earth Rocker, and after a gig in Texas tonight — one of two this week; I’ve been lagging in keeping up with the news — they’ll meet up with Kyng and Kill Devil Hill at the end of next month, presumably to explore where the line between heavy rock and roll and something remotely viable to a wider audience exists. Intrepid work, gents. Best of luck.
As ever, the PR wire asks the hard-hitting questions:
WHO THE F**K IS CROBOT?
FIND OUT WHEN THE DIRTY GROOVE-ROCKERS RELEASE THEIR SELF-TITLED EP MAY 13
ON TOUR NOW, DATES WITH KYNG AND KILL DEVIL HILL ANNOUNCED, PLAYING ROCK ON THE RANGE
Central Pennsylvania band Crobot will release their self-titled four-song EP on Wind-up Records May 13, 2014. Tracks include “Legend of the Spaceborne Killer,” “Nowhere to Hide,” “La Mano de Lucifer” and “Skull of Geronimo” and were produced by famed producer Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes). Machine and the band are finishing up their debut album which will be released later this year. “Legend of the Spaceborne Killer” will be available April 1 for download and streaming but fans can go to crobotband.com now and unlock #TheLegend to get a free version of the song. “Nowhere to Hide” is going to rock radio on Cinco de Mayo – May 5.
So who the f**k is Crobot?
The band embodies a mixture of groove-heavy riff-rock that will want to make you bang your head and shake your ass. Think of them as Wolfmother’s American cousins who smell like leather (they make leather-scented air fresheners!) and whose music scorches your ears like hot sauce to the taste (yes, they even have their own hot sauce!). You can’t help but feel that you are taken into another dimension and back again with the songs of Crobot.
Crobot will be on tour in select cities across the United States in 2014 doing solo shows, touring with Kyng and Kill Devil Hill and at Rock on the Range (dates below). More dates will be announced soon.
Crobot is Brandon Yeagley (Lead Vocals, Harmonica), Chris Bishop (Guitar, Vocals), Jake Figuroa (Bass) and Paul Figuroa (Drums).
EP TRACK LISTING: “Legend of the Spaceborne Killer” “Nowhere to Hide” “La Mano de Lucifer” “Skull of Geronimo”
TOUR DATES: Mar 28 Corpus Christi TX Zeros Hardrock Club Apr 28 Atlanta GA The Masquerade With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill Apr 29 Wilmington NC Ziggy’s By The Sea With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill May 2 Winston-Salem, NC Ziggy’s With Kill Devil Hill May 6 New York NY Marlin Room @ Webster Hall With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill May 7 Springfield VA Empire With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill May 9 Syracuse NY Lost Horizon With Kill Devil Hill May 10 Lancaster PA Chameleon Club With Kill Devil Hill May 11 Worcester MA The Palladium (upstairs) With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill May 15 Flint MI The Machine Shop With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill May 17 Columbus OH Rock on the Range May 20 Joliet IL Mojoes With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill May 21 St. Louis MO The Firebird With Kyng and Kill Devil Hill May 25 Lubbock TX Lonestar Amphitheater FMX Big Purple Party
Posted in audiObelisk on March 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
At 33 minutes, the self-titled and self-released debut from Pennsylvania instrumentalists King Dead sits right between an EP and a full-length outing. The trio’s sound is similarly nebulous, hovering between psychedelic post-rock, heavier amplified push and Morricone-via-Earth soundscaping, and as their first five songs showcase, they come equipped with a formidable scope. Shades of Pelican show up in the payoff to the cumbersomely-titled “As One Plows and Breaks up the Earth, so Our Bones Have Been Scattered at the Mouth of the Grave,” and when closer “God Makes a Lot of Fucking Promises” launches from its Dustbowl swirl into lumbering crashes and more vicious churn, Neurosis‘ “Times of Grace” seems a ready comparison-point, but King Dead – the Stroudsburg-based trio of four-string bassist Kevin Vanderhoof, six-string bassist Will McGrath and drummer Steve Truglio (the latter of whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known and worked with for years) — do well to incorporate these into a still-forming cohesion, boldly captured live on this self-titled.
They recorded in Stroudsburg’s Living Room on Jan. 25, so the material is pretty fresh, and whether it’s the Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method-style sustained nod of opener “Ghosts along the Riverbank” or the loose-string jangle of centerpiece “Length of Rope,” their contemplation comes metered out in weighted bottom-end and patient timekeeping. The middle cut strikes as the smoothest in its transitions and the fullness of its course, a build taking place over the 6:42 run while parts are intertwined, refrained and deconstructed. It happens subtly, but when the high end drops out before the four-minute mark and McGrath and Truglio carry the atmosphere on their own, the return is clearly the beginning of an apex that, save perhaps for that of the more jagged closer, is the most satisfying to be had on King Dead‘s King Dead. And while the follow it with the shortest and most uptempo song on the release, “Drowning in Dust,” even there they continue an impressive grip on the ambience, some whistling arriving late to introduce a gallop straight out of the Spaghetti West.
Tracks also work smoothly one into the next, but to give a general idea of where King Dead are at their first time out and where they might subsequently progress, “Length of Rope” finds them in an engaging balance of driving push and tidal sway. King Deadwill be available on CD starting April 19. Please find “Length of Rope” on the player below, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
King Dead have been conspicuoulsy haunting the Stroudsburg PA area lately. Bass players Will McGrath and Kevin Vanderhoof, recruited New Jersey Transplant Steve Truglio on drums last summer, and have begun to wander around the NEPA/NJ area. Their debut record on the cusp of release, was recorded LIVE in their practice and performance home venue at The Living Room in Stroudsburg by Dave Reiser of ROCK HARD STUDIOS. They definitely have their own sound.
Call it sludge, doom, or what we like to say is spaghetti western doom sludge, it sure doesn’t sound like yer typical heavy 3 piece band these days. With virtually no vocals, aside from one song(not on the record) and a whistle solo in another, its all about dynamics and the building tempos. Creepy, dreary, sleepy and melodic riffs layered over deep bottom and pounding drums. A good soundtrack for any lethal injection event.
Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
What sets Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass apart from the hundreds of bands the world over who cull the bulk of their influence from the heavy rock of the early ’70s and/or the original psychedelic era is a relentlessly positive mindset. Where the current retro rock movement — and because of the modern production on the three-piece’s self-titled Svart Records full-length debut, I’d hesitate to even call it “retro” — spearheaded by the likes of Graveyard and the first couple Witchcraft outings has resulted in a slew of acts pretending to worship both the Devil and Jinx Dawson with due candles, incense and pomp, The Golden Grass turn that formula on its head and delight in a boogie free from these thematic constraints and the inherent moodiness they bring to classic rock sound. This was evident from their 2012 debut single, One More Time b/wTornado,and the limited 456th Div.tape (review here), and the upbeat vibes remain consistent throughout The GoldenGrass‘ farthest-out, most wandering moments, which arrive in the 12:51 penultimate jammer “Wheels,” a side B standout on a 36-minute LP that in no way overstays its welcome. As they did for the prior single, guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze), bassist Joe Noval and drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney (La Otracina) recorded with Andrea Zavareei at Urban Spaceman Studio, and Jeff Berner mixed at Galuminum Foil, and it’s a collaboration whose dividends show themselves in the crisp but natural feel of the songs and the balance that highlights organic tones without sacrificing the clarity of the vocal arrangements.
Those arrangements are a big part of what gives The Golden Grass‘ The Golden Grassits personality. There’s laughter on the album, and though its songs are heavy and relatively extended — the shortest is opener “Please Man” at 5:23 — it’s a friendly, inviting listen that even at its most driving, heading toward the finale of closer “Sugar ‘n’ Spice,” in the early verses of “Wheels” or eliciting the riffy bounce of “One More Time,” the initial single which makes a reappearance here as the centerpiece of the tracklist, is never outwardly aggressive. Rafalowich and Kriney trade off in the lead spot, but whoever’s out front, the other is never far off, and as “Please Man” emerges with a drum fill from its build-up intro wash of psychedelic guitar, it’s not long before the two are working together to get the most out of their harmonic range. The balance of straightforward, catchy rock and psychedelia is something else that shifts fluidly throughout the proceedings, and when they want to, The Golden Grass are well capable of playing one side off the other. “Please Man” does this in Rafalowich‘s opening and subsequent solo sections, as well as the slow, dreamy ending that gives way to the uptempo push of “Stuck on a Mountain,” the call and responses of which seem to be begging for a sing-along. There’s more engaging vocal interplay and Noval offers no shortage of texture in matching and side-stepping the riffs, but the real payoff in “Stuck on a Mountain” is when a build opens up to the chorus and The Golden Grass still don’t get mad.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Should you happen to be feeling lucky, Bilocation Records and Switchblade Jesus are giving away one of the three test pressings for the band’s self-titled full-length (review here), which would make a nifty pickup for some fortunate heavy rocker. Apparently the test pressings worked as well, since the label went ahead and pressed Switchblade Jesus‘ album in varying editions of colored 180g vinyl and has made them available for preorder now, hand-numbered gatefold style.
The CD version of the album, which was self-released last year, has sold out quickly enough, and it wouldn’t be much of a shock if the LP followed suit upon its release next month.
Details and links come courtesy of the PR wire:
SWITCHBLADE JESUS – Switchblade Jesus LP
Hailing from the land of oil and tar Switchblade Jesus is a 5 piece equivalent of a heard of elephants slamming into a brick wall. Jamming together since 2010 they had a killer ride so far – playing live nearly every week they were forged to a unbreakable live unit. They played a shitload of shows with great bands – just to name a few: Kylesa, Orange Goblin, The Sword, Wo Fat, Egypt, Baroness.
Asked what the fans can expect of the band, the guys state: “Loud alcohol fueled heaviness laced with fuzz and slight hallucinations of tube amps piercing your mind.” That is a word!
- 100x transparent green vinyl (EXCLUSIVE MAILORDER version incl. A3 poster & silkscreened card signed by the band) – 200x spooky clear/black marbled vinyl – 100x black vinyl – all high-quality heavy 180g vinyl pressed in Germany – matte laquered 300gsm gatefold cover – handnumbered
A1. Into Nothing 2:19 A2. Bastard Son 5:31 A3. The Wolves 3:45 A4. Sick Mouth 4:52 B1. Equinox 3:15 B2. Renegade Riders 4:38 B3. Copperhead 4:49 B4. Oblivion 6:26
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
By the time they split at the beginning of 2013, it was starting to get a little silly how much I dug Toronto slow-psych aficionados Quest for Fire. Their second album and swansong, 2010′s Lights from Paradise (review here), I still consider top notch, gotta-have heavy psych for those unstirred by the bulk of the post-Dead Meadow fuzzgaze set, and when bassist/vocalist Chad Ross released the 2011 debut from his Nordic Nomadic solo-project, Worldwide Skyline (review here), I was right on board with the folkier vibes as well. What Comet Control, which reunites Ross with former Quest for Fire guitarist Andrew Moszynski — as well as bassist Nicole Howell and drummer Jay Anderson — might portend sound-wise, I don’t know, but you can be damn sure I’m interested in finding out.
Comet Control will make a self-titled debut via Tee Pee Records on May 20. The PR wire offers the following:
COMET CONTROL to Release Debut Album “Comet Control” May 20
From the Ashes of Celebrated Rock Band QUEST FOR FIRE, A New Shooting Star Rockets Towards the Heavy Psych Scene
COMET CONTROL is the new band from Andrew Moszynski (guitar) and Chad Ross (vocals/guitar), formerly of Canadian psych rock champions QUEST FOR FIRE. The powerhouse musicians are joined in COMET CONTROL by Nicole Howell (bass), Jay Anderson (drums) and Christopher Sandes (keys) and the group’s eight song self-titled debut is nothing short of stunning. Comet Control will drop on May 20 via Tee Pee Records.
COMET CONTROL extends the dark, bass-driven washes of sound that QUEST FOR FIRE fabulously produced and drenches it in majestic bursts of pastel post-rock guitars and bright, breezy vocals. Recorded at Toronto’s Candle Recording (Fucked Up, Sebastien Grainger) and mastered by Carl Saff (Bass Drum of Death, Earthless), the album exceeds expectations, delivering a driving, dreamy sound that will lodge itself in your ears and refuse to let go. Simultaneously heavy and sunny, COMET CONTROL rocket to the forefront of today’s dark psych scene and deliver a modern classic with their triumphant debut. Out-of-this-world, futuristic cover art and packaging for Comet Control, designed by far-out artist SIGNALSTARR (known for his work for the 20th Century Fox film “Prometheus”) adds to the potent push of the record’s searing scope.
“After Quest for Fire broke up, Andrew and I still had a lot of songs in the works,” commented Ross. “We are very excited about how things turned out. Everything clicked really fast with the new band, and the songs have taken a step in a fresh, new direction.”
Track listing: 1.) Blast Magic 2.) Future Forever 3.) Ultra Bright 4.) The Soft Parade 5.) Century 6.) Hats Off to Life 7.) Fear the Haze 8.) Master
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I had hoped to head to Baltimore this coming weekend to cover the Moving the Earth festival down that way, with Sixty Watt Shaman, Supervoid, Wasted Theory, Foghound and others on the bill (details here), but it doesn’t look like I’m going to be so fortunate as to get there. Among my reasons for wanting to, however, is/was Black Lung — whose drummer, EliasSchutzman,and guitarist, Adam Bufano, can also be found in psych rockers The Flying Eyes — and a live video for the song “The Ghost,” which comes off their impending self-titled debut full-length, isn’t making me feel any better about missing their set. Such are the rigors of (low) finance.
Black Lung‘s Black Lungis set for release in June, as the announcement below informs. Stay tuned for more on these cats. I’m digging the vibe:
Conquering the long, bitter winter of 2014, a new player emerges from Baltimore’s underground music scene. Dueling guitars and heavy-hitting drums form the backbone of Black Lung, a 3-piece coalition of local forces.
In the spring of 2013, multi-instrumentalist Dave Cavalier jumped at the chance to collaborate on a stripped-down rock n’roll project with Adam Bufano and Elias Schutzman from psychedelic rock group “The Flying Eyes.” Once peers in their local music scenes, these three friends now toe the line between sonic pain and psychedelic bliss.
With influences ranging from the raw blues-rock of early Black Keys to the stoned out riffage of Sleep, Black Lung skillfully forges a sound that is as heavy as it is soulful. Their self-titled EP is to be released via CD and Cassette June 3rd on Grimoire Records (US), with CD and Vinyl coming June 6th on Noisolution (EU).
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
To those who might bemoan the miniscule reemergence of tapes as a cheap physical alternative to vinyl — which, as I understand it, everybody really enjoys looking at while continuing to stream music off their phones, laptops, etc. — there are few arguments to be made in terms of relative audio quality, but as in the case of Brisbane, Australia-based stoner foursome Lizzard Wizzard, there are instances where cassette releases provide an opportunity for creativity in packaging that other formats don’t, doubtless in no small part because they’re cheaper. Lizzard Wizzard, who’ve teamed with newcomer Los Angeles tape-specialist imprint Houdini Tapes, have issued their 2013 debut self-titled demo (review here) in a deluxe package that includes not only two pre-rolled smoking cones in a plastic container, but a 20-sided die and patch as well. For eight bucks.
Whatever else cassettes do, whatever formats they might be inferior to in some ways and superior in others, they offer a different experience of an album than CDs, than vinyl or digital media, and for that alone, never mind the options that a less costly production opens up, I consider them a valid alternative. Vinyl’s great, don’t get me wrong, and there are no shortage of purveyors doing interesting, creative things with that packaging as well, but I guess I don’t see why it needs to be a competition between one or the other instead of people being glad that a band like Lizzard Wizzard, still getting their start, can provide their followers with a product that fits their sonic personality that neither does the audio an injustice nor prices anyone on either side out of the market.
Not to get preachy, it’s just unfortunate to see cool releases and ideas get the shaft because of party lines being drawn between one format and another. Here are the specs on Lizzard Wizzard‘s Lizzard Wizzard, which you can also listen to and download below:
HDNI-001 LIZZARD WIZZARD “S/T”
7 tracks of dungeon crawling, bong ripping, tail losing and then regrowing, stoner doom from Brisbane, Australia.
For fans of Eyehategod, Electric Wizard, Sleep/Asbestos Death
Package Includes: – 7 Track Cassette – Translucent Green D20 die – Green tube with 2 Empty Pre-rolled Smoke Cones – Screen printed patch
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Confession time: I’ve been looking forward to reviewing The Golden Grass‘ self-titled debut for a while now, and seeing the artwork today with the official tracklisting and release date reveal has only made me more so. The Brooklynite feelgood trio will issue the five-track The Golden Grasson May 9 via respected purveyors Svart Records.
Of course, before that, they will have already played shows this spring alongside White Hills, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Blackout and Aqua Nebula Oscillator, so hit up their Thee Facebooks if you want to get fully caught up on their doings. The PR wire sends over plenty to dig into as well:
THE GOLDEN GRASS set release date for SVART debut
The glory of American hard rock has returned with the debut eponymous album by THE GOLDEN GRASS, set for international release on May 9th via SVART RECORDS. This Brooklyn-based power-trio is the real deal, and their LP harkens back to the golden age when heavy rock music was upbeat, skillfully played, energetic, edgy, and bursting with goodtime sunshine vibes. They come hard with a strong backbone of deep-pocket funky flare and an earnest/uplifting southern/country/mountain rock vibe, layered with waves of psychedelic textures that explode into jaw-dropping proto-metal moves. And throughout their progressive arrangements and timeless grooves are lush and powerfully delivered vocals, stacked with gorgeous harmonies and maddeningly catchy verses and choruses singing the tales of real-life loves, losses, and the drive to keep on keepin’ on! Cover and tracklisting are as follows:
Tracklisting for THE GOLDEN GRASS’ The Golden Grass 1. Please Man 2. Stuck On A Mountain 3. One More Time 4. Wheels 5. Sugar N’ Spice
THE GOLDEN GRASS formed in early 2013, and before they had even played their first show, they were signed to Svart Records. Their debut 7” was issued in October of that, as a split release with US label Electric Assault Records. Since playing their first show in September of 2013, they’ve shared the stage with an impressive and eclectic range of rock and metal groups, including Windhand, Natur, Ramming Speed, Serpent Throne, Wolf People, and an appearance at the Cincy Psych Fest.
What truly sets THE GOLDEN GRASS apart from the pack of modern ’70s-inspired music is their relentlessly upbeat, soulful energy and feel-good vibe, which is a welcome departure from the faceless sea of proto-metal/doom bands currently drowning the underground scene. This catchy five-track album will make you dance, smile, and catch yourself singing along! This album is a sure treat for fans of classic underground hard rock such as Truth and Janey, Dust, and Josefus as well as fans of classic UK psychedelia such as The Move, The Pretty Things, and Mighty Baby. THE GOLDEN GRASS will also greatly appeal to folks into the contemporary sounds of Danava, Horisont, Graveyard, and Dead Man.
The album was recorded by Andrea Zavareei at Urban Spaceman Studio in Brookly, New York where many seminal early La Otracina albums were also tracked. The album was mixed by Jeff Berner at Galuminum Foil Studio in Brooklyn. Jeff has also recorded albums by Naam, Heliotropes, and Weird Owl, among others, at this studio, and he is also a member of Psychic TV. The album was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. The artwork was constructed by Niko Potocnjak of Seven That Spells. The collective experiences and talents of all involved were of utmost importance to the creation of this album.
THE GOLDEN GRASS is: Adam Kriney – drums/vocals (also of LA OTRACINA and past tour member of NEBULA/CULT OF YOUTH/CASTANETS/CLOUDLAND CANYON) Michael Rafalowich – electric guitar/vocals (also of STRANGE HAZE/WHOOPING CRANE and past tour member of TAV FALCO’S PANTHER BURNS) Joe Noval – electric bass
Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a big world and there’s a lot to review in it, so I won’t do much to delay. This time around covers both coasts of the US as well as Europe and even Australia, proving once again that heavy knows no borders and seems to be at home wherever it goes. It’s a pretty varied batch this time as well, but should provide some fun along the way.
Billing themselves as “Seattle’s only rock duo” — which is charming if unlikely — guitarist/vocalist Ben Harwood and drummer Jeff Silva self-release their second album as Hobosexual (I see what you did there…) in the aptly-titled 12-tracker, II. It’s a record that brims with attitude from the chugging, semi-Melvinsian opening of “Switchblade Suburbia,” but there’s a depth of tone and swagger to back up the smacktalk in their songwriting. The 38-second “Ghettoblaster” is Hendrix-style feedback and soloing, playing directly into “Hostile Denim”‘s lead-obsessed Rolling Stones hook ‘n’ push. Topped off with striking artwork from Adam Burke of Fellwoods, IIproves very much of its Pacific Northwest origins — a magical land where everybody has a beard and they all listen to stoner rock — and while the tongue-in-cheek snark of “Sex Destroyer” might be over-the-top to some, Hobosexual avoid the minimalist aesthetic some duos use as a crutch for lazy songwriting, make old riffs new again and showcase some melodic depth in Harwood‘s vocal layering, positioning songs like “The Black Camaro Death” and the penultimate “BMX” highlights arguing against style over substance amid party-ready riffing and don’t-have-a-fuck-to-give panache. Their 2010 self-titled debut worked in similar stylistic parameters, but IIstrikes as more confident overall, and it’s a record that you’re either going to fall prey to its sleaze or shoot down early and go about your night. If the album’s a party, I feel at times like my invite must have gotten lost in the mail, but Hobosexual provide a decent reminder nonetheless that there are those capable of turning heavy rock into a good time and put it on the listener to ask why they should take it so seriously in the first place. FOAD: Fuck off and dance.
Strange things are afoot throughout Italian four-piece Midryasi‘s third album, Black, Blue and Violet. The multifaceted heavy outfit run a gamut from Pentagram-esque riff doom to Pink Floyd-infused progressive texturing, all the while keeping a clarity of sound that can likely be traced to the metallic roots of bassist/vocalist Convulsion, who aside from having played in DoomSword can be traced to a number of more extreme outfits. His brother, DoomSword vocalist Deathmaster, shows up on opener “The Counterflow,” but Black, Blue and Violet never goes quite so far into one subgenre or another, the keyboard work of Umberto Desanti always adding an edge of prog to whatever else might be happening, whether it’s the otherwise doomed “Diagonal” or the dramatic verses of the title-track. Released through My Graveyard Productions, Midryasi‘s third ultimately finds its atmospheric crux in an intelligent construction, but perhaps feels somewhat distant in its performance, coldly executed. That’s an inherent tradeoff for the complexity of its arrangements, maybe, and there’s something to be said in argument for the skillful calculation at work across these seven tracks that run smoothly with the underlying drum work of Sappah and fluid guitars of Paolo Paganhate and hit their high-point with the rumbling “The Nuclear Dog,” which provides the most memorable hook of the long-player and seems to revel most in the psychedelic and progressive weirdness that the whole album moves within. The six-and-a-half-minute “Hole of the Saturday Night” closes out with a heavy rock riff and vocal delivery from Convulsion that moves in some of the same (stone) circles as Venomous Maximus, though that’s likely a coincidence of common influence between the two, and with a smooth, consistent production, Midryasi wind up sounding most of all like a band working on its own level. And successfully.
Raucous Berlin six-piece Operators made an impression in 2012 with the unabashed new school stoner rock of their self-titled debut (review here) now a little older, a little wiser, a little more drunk, the band returns with Contact High, a record that wears its influences on its sleeve in much the same manner as the Satellite Beaver, Neume and Stonehenge patches grace the varsity jacket of the figure on the album’s cover. “Kiss of De Ath” resides at the end of side A of the eight-track/39-minute offering and offers some of Operators‘ most satisfying boogie as Konni‘s organ and the guitars of Jacky and Dirk align for an intricate but still-rolling groove of a midsection build while Stonehenge‘s Enni steps in as a guest singer, but it’s vocalist Eggat who makes the first impression on opener “Terra Ohm,” setting up a strong hook for the rest of Contact High to live up to. The album plays out unpretentious and riotous in kind, and while they haven’t necessarily settled down since their first outing, it’s easy enough to hear Operators as having solidified their approach somewhat. Konni‘s keys work just as well alongside the rhythm section of bassist Dän and drummer Säsh as with the guitars, and Eggat proves a formidable enough presence on cuts like “If I Burn,” “Bring on the Spice” (I don’t know whose guitar solo that is, but kudos) and the driving “Contact High” to reign the rest into cohesion. The six-and-a-half-minute “Arrows” shows a more subdued side that, somewhat surprisingly, never quite explodes into the noisy chicanery found elsewhere. Could it be that Operators are growing up right before our ears? I don’t know, but the results are fascinating and display more even potential from these Desertfest veterans.
Grand soundscaping, an underlying sense of ritual, and a pervasive experimental bent — it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Spain’s Pylar boasts some manner of allegiance to forward or at least side-to-side thinking doomers Orthodox and the avant extremists Blooming Látigo, but the unit’s Knockturne Records debut, Poderoso Se Alza en My, strikes as a decidedly more conceptual work, with one song spilling into the next, religious themes crossing through minimalist atmospheres and a periodic lurch emerging that’s as much a trip aurally as mentally. Two longer cuts, “El Pylar Se Ha Alzado” (13:49) and “Al Fin Te Contemplo Entre las Ruinas del Tiempo (Pentagrammaton)” (12:11) sandwich five not-quite-as-extended segments as the opener (the longest on the record; immediate points) and closer of the 68-minute behemoth, which one would be thoroughly mistaken to dub a “compact” disc. It is, instead, expansive and challenging, rife with droning tension, vague shouts in Spanish seeming to describe some torment either physical or spiritual amid art-jazz percussion in another dimension’s time signatures. Will not, will not, will not be for everyone, but Pylar‘s first is a fascinating and dense work that one could easily spend any number of months dissecting, only to still come up with an incomplete picture of its scope, and for those with a high tolerance for the experimental and indulgences of noise, the intense swell of “La Gran Luminaria” could easily prove essential as the culmination point for what seems to be an album-long drive toward enlightenment and the sundry terrors it might carry with it. If you think you’re bored of the mundane, Poderoso Se Alza en Myis ready to pull back the veil and toy for a while with what you used to think of as “your” consciousness.
I remain a sucker for Aussie heavy. System of Venus guitarist/vocalist/graphic designer Fatima Baši? gets into a doomly melodic range that reminds at times — as on “Dancing in Hell’s Garden” — of Alunah‘s Soph Day, but the rough edges in her guitar and Amanda‘s bass add a more distinct ’90s feel to the seven-track/36-minute proceedings on their full-length debut and first release, as the crunch in “Monster Ego” will further attest. Drummer Matt Lieber shows himself comfortable with the quick tempo changes in that song and elsewhere on the self-titled, self-released offering, and though the centerpiece “Dr. Dumb” works quickly to earn its position in the CD’s tracklist, ultimately the opener “Blackrock” and the closing duo of “Nothing” and “Beast” are the strongest statements the album has to make in showcasing the diversity nascent in System of Venus‘ approach, “Beast” rising to an apex that though satisfying feels somewhat shortlived in providing the payoff for the record as whole while “Nothing” holds to a quieter, brooding sentiment that plays off the foundational bassline of “Gannets Drive,” giving what might’ve otherwise easily turned out to be a demo an LP’s overarching flow and speaking to an early awareness of quality construction from the Melbourne trio, though “Gannets Drive” seems to cut out early, building to a hit that’s snapped mid-crash, so perhaps there remain some kinks to work out one way or another. All the same, taken as a whole, System of Venus‘ System of Venussatisfies as the debut of a band feeling out where they want to be sonically, and bodes well for where they might grow their sound somewhere between grunge, doom and heavy rock.
Posted in Reviews on March 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Initially a 2013 self-release by the band on CD, the self-titled debut full-length from Corpus Christi, Texas-based heavy rockers Switchblade Jesus gets another look in 2014 thanks to a vinyl issue courtesy of Bilocation Records. The 35-minute album was greeted with a flurry of hyperbole upon its first arrival, so one expects an LP edition to be a welcome advent. The eight-track offering marks the last appearance in Switchblade Jesus of vocalist Pete Quarnstrom, his duties having since been taken over by guitarist Eric Calvert, joined in the now-four-piece by guitarist Billy Guerra, bassist Jason Beers and drummer Jon Elizondo, and finds the burly rockers engaged in comfortably-paced post-Pepper Keenan-era C.O.C. Southern-style heavy riffery, straightforward structures led by the guitars being underscored solidly by the rhythm section from “Bastard Son”‘s easy sway to the highlight closer “Oblivion,” which offers a more complex take. Much of what they have to offer throughout will be familiar in a songs-about-whiskey vein, shades of Clutch showing up on “The Wolves” while a Down influence seems to march hand in hand with a markedly unfortunate tinny snare sound on “Renegade Riders.” Quarnstrom, who vacated after a mini-tour in support of the album, mostly lets the riffs be his guide and is less “hey whoa mama yeah” than some I’ve heard in the I’m-a-bluesy-white-dude pastiche, but it winds up almost too easy to stick him in that category anyway, his approach aligning neatly with a staple trope within the current sphere of American heavy rock that one has been able to find in bands from all over the country, not just Texas or the South.
If that’s a sticking point for you, then Switchblade Jesus‘ Switchblade Jesusis going to take all the more exposure to find favor despite, though I wouldn’t say it’s incapable of doing so. Following the opening introduction “Into Nothing,” “Bastard Son” sets much of the tone for what’s to follow in aesthetic and pace, songs like “The Wolves” and “Sick Mouth” changing their pants, sonically speaking, but essentially moving on the same legs. There are touches of boogie to be had in “Sick Mouth,” and the tempo is somewhat quicker, but there’s an element of a comfort zone being established across the board here in booze-fueled riff rock that’s all well and good since they make it work, but also bound to be familiar to listeners who’ve encountered this kind of dudely groove before. I’m not inclined to rag on a relatively new band — formed in 2010 — for not having developed a complex stylistic take on their first outing; it just doesn’t seem fair. If Switchblade Jesus are setting themselves up for future creative development, then fine. I get some sense of that from “Oblivion,” but songs like “Equinox” and “Copperhead” show less of a tendency to shift atmosphere or mood, and Switchblade Jesuscomes off less varied for it. The acoustics on “Into Nothing” and the sort of cinematic soundscaping that accompanies lead one to expect a certain amount of ambience that the rest of the album seems to have no ambition to fulfill, instead burrowing into a well-worn brand of heavy rock that’s endearing enough to get them through the relatively brief 35 minutes of their debut, but will want more variety moving forward. If switching Calvert to a vocalist/guitarist role helps expand Switchblade Jesus‘ songwriting methodology, then it can only be a change for the better on the part of the band.
Posted in Reviews on February 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are two ways to approach the self-titled debut from French four-piece The Socks. You can say, “Oh, it’s retro,” and immediately make your comparisons to Kadavar, to Graveyard, etc., and either write it off or dig in as you will based on your opinions on those bands and heavy ’70s devotees in general. Or you can listen to the thing. Life is short, and frankly, either is a valid-enough way to go, but I’ve found the latter to be the more satisfying route. There’s no taking away from the fact that songs like “Some Kind of Sorcery” and “The Last Dragon” have a strong earlier Graveyard influence, but “Next to the Light” goes right to the Sabbathian source to bounce vocalist Julien Méret‘s lead guitar off of “War Pigs,” and throughout the album, on that track, on “Gypsy Lady,” closer “The Last Dragon” and on “Holy Sons,” The Socks distinguish themselves through the keyboard work of rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud, who adds Mellotron and organ sounds to add melodic depth to the fluid rhythms of bassist Vincent Melay and drummer Jessy Ensenat. When they boogie — and they do — there’s plenty familiar about it, and if that were all The Sockshad to offer, the album would be almost entirely redundant, but there are more than a few turns between parts, cuts in tempo or launches into speedy shuffle, that serve to showcase The Socks as a dynamic songwriting act in their own right.
Couple that with a production more modern than either of the aforementioned touchstones of the style, and the Lyon foursome seem to be headed somewhere else within the classic heavy framework. In both their speedier material — the rush of “Some Kind of Sorcery,” though met with an impressive slowdown in its middle third, is immediate and indicative of The Socks at their fastest here — and in the more languid grooves of songs like “Holy Sons,” on which Ensenat effectively propels the build with organic-sounding kick, the band is confident, well assured of where they want pieces to go. Structurally traditional, songs have their hooks, but don’t come across as being written solely to get stuck in the audience’s head. “Electric War” finds Méret and Baud working well together on vocals in what sounds like a dynamic that will continue to develop as The Socks progress, but catchy as that track’s chorus is, the more lasting impression is leaves comes from the stomp in its midsection and the ease with which the band plays one rhythm off the other. They’ve been a band for half a decade (if you’re interested in reading their bio, I wrote it), and a grip on time changes like theirs doesn’t develop without considerable stage time, but it still feels like early mastery of pitting slowdowns and speedups against each other — that is, something they brought to the table initially instead of something that evolved over the course of their two prior EPs, 2011′s Side Aand 2012′s Bedrock, and the songwriting for the self-titled. Either way, it’s there, and it’s a big part of the album’s appeal.
Posted in Radio on February 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Stoner riffs and doomed vibes. Blown out amps and follow-the-nod vocals. A sample from Alucarda. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think Polish five-piece Bitchcraft are doing much that’s never been done before, but sometimes in this age of microgenre you just want something that shirks off the complexity in favor of beating you over the head with the things that made you love the style in the first place. Bitchcraft‘s self-titled is little concerned with nuance, but takes post-Electric Wizard unbridled Sabbath riff worship almost too the bone over the course of its four tracks and 32 minutes. Songs roll out in doomy lurch topped with Julia Konieczna‘s vocals in straightforward verses and choruses, and they never really get above what most would probably consider a crawl throughout “Not the One,” “Mouth of a Cave,” “Acid Dream” and “Stoned One” (spoiler alert: they’re all the stoned one), but they don’t need to. The two guitars offer some lead/riff interplay, but really, the crux of Bitchcraft‘s Bitchcraft is in the thick grooves and the hazy vibes derived therefrom.
“Not the One” is probably the catchiest of the bunch, but Konieczna‘s voice offers more variety on “Mouth of a Cave,” touching on some of the same early-Acid King melodicism that Alunah has so skillfully made their own. The production surrounding the vocals is rough, but no more than it should be. The bass still has plenty of thickness distinct from that of the guitar on “Mouth of a Cave” and the subsequent “Acid Dream” — the middle pair being shorter than the bookends at 7:43 and 7:18, respectively — though the fuzz in the two guitars seems to get even hairier on the third cut, which is consistent in pace but so sonically dense that at any speed it would still sound slow. It’s the kind of tone that, if you had to pee in a cup after hearing it, you’d fail the drug test. Later on, the roll gets bigger and badder on the way to smoked-out leads that set up “Acid Dream” as the high point (ha!) of Bitchcraft, but the fivesome rounds out with the nine-minute “Stoned One,” which earns its way through channel-panning feedback that soon enough looses a riff worthy of as much of the song as it consumes. Righteously stoned.
Bitchcraft get better and more consuming the more volume is added, and as their self-titled comes on the heels of a 2012′s Evil Thing, which was of similar length — I’d call Bitchcrafta 32-minute LP, two songs on two sides — they may well still be feeling out their sound, but if it’s a wall of rumble they’re looking to create, they’ve got that more or less set. Not a bad place to start if they want to kick into creative expansion, though when it comes to what they do here, there’s nothing that seems to be crying out to be fixed.
Check out Bitchcraft‘s Bitchcraftnow as part of the 24/7 stream on The Obelisk Radio and get a taste on the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in audiObelisk on January 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess if we’re talking about side B of French retro rockers The Socks‘ self-titled debut LP, then that would make “Gypsy Lady” a deep cut. The foursome from Lyon are getting ready to release their eponymous long-player on Small Stone on March 18, and where the prior-leaked “Some Kind of Sorcery” from the record showcased a vintage-minded boogie almost singularly indebted to Graveyard — at least for the part of it that wasn’t indebted (as we all are) to Sabbath — “Gypsy Lady” shows that’s not the only tool that The Socks have at their disposal, using organ to pepper a kind of stutter groove that’s as much Alice Cooper Band as it is modern heavy psychedelia.
Vocalist/guitarist Julien Méret solos fluidly over fellow six-stringer/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud‘s keyboard work as drummer Jessy Ensenat sets the march and bassist Vincent Melay runs around and through the riffs in heavy ’70s tradition. If “Gypsy Lady” has anything in common with “Some Kind of Sorcery” — other than being the same band on the same album, duh — it’s a righteous slowdown, this one arriving after two minutes into the track’s total five, marked out by insistent wah in the guitar and a classically doomed stomp in the rhythm section, giving way to a screaming lead and tense build back up to the original shuffle.
Add to this a potent hook and I’m not sure what else one could reasonably ask of The Socks that they’re not delivering. Elsewhere, their self-titled delves further into psychedelic influences, further broadening their creative spectrum, rounding out with the six-and-a-half-minute “The Last Dragon,” which sadly is not a cover of the theme from the 1985 Berry Gordy-produced film of the same name, but for now, “Gypsy Lady” should give enough of a sense ofThe Socks’ take on analog vibes and the organic way in which they present a nascent but already widening sonic perspective.
Please find “Gypsy Lady” on the player below, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The Socks‘ The Socksis due out March 18 on CD and LP through Small Stone Records. The band are also set to play the Stone Rising festival in Lyon this April and are booking other dates for the Spring. More info at the following links.