Sundrifter Post “Sons of Belial” Video; Playing SXSW and More

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sundrifter

For those who think desert rock has to come from a desert, let alone any specific desert, Boston’s Sundrifter would stand in ready contradiction to such geographic prejudice. The trio issued Visitations (review here), through Small Stone Records last year as their label debut and second album overall, and its atmosphere, combination of laid-back roll, weighted tones and melodies — read: fuzz, fuzz, fuzz — situate it well within the parameters of a desert style. Shit, they’ve got desert rock in Finland. You can’t tell me it can’t come from the East Coast.

That said, one of the most fascinating aspects of Sundrifter‘s Visitations, which earns a revisit with the band’s new video for opening track “Sons of Belial,” is the band’s defiance of their climate. I’m not just talking about miserable Boston weather — though people in the area do, at length, as though they’re continually surprised by it — but also the greater Northeastern tendency toward an intensity of delivery. Visitations has its moments of push, as in “Lightworker” or parts of “Targeted,” which follows on side A, but even these are carried out with a sense of melody and serenity behind them, and at their most forward-directed, Sundrifter owe far more to Queens of the Stone Age than even to their Beantown forebears in Roadsaw. Coupled with the sense of atmosphere manifest from guitarist/vocalist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan, that mellow-ish overarching vibe does much to enrich the listening experience overall. It’s not that they’re lacking energy, they’re just not using that energy to shout shit at you from a moving vehicle.

They’ve reportedly started writing new material, which is plenty nifty, but Sundrifter will head out of New England as well as 2019 gets underway, hitting up SXSW in Austin, Texas, this March to play Small Stone‘s return showcase, dubbed ‘The Finest in Fuzz,’ alongside Tia CarreraDwellersIrataLa Chinga and The Cold Stares. I have no doubt they’ll be made to feel duly welcome in that environment, even as they convey one so seemingly disparate from that which they left behind. More shows are reportedly to be added this Spring, so stay tuned.

And of course you can enjoy “Sons of Belial” on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Dig:

Sundrifter, “Sons of Belial” official video

“Sons Of Belial” [is] the latest video from New England-based desert rock trio SUNDRIFTER. The track comes by way of the band’s Visitations full-length released via Small Stone last fall.

Notes the band of the fittingly trippy performance clip, “The video for ‘Sons Of Belial’ was filmed at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Massachusetts. The space used to be an old Masonic Temple later converted into an orchestral recording studio. We have been fortunate enough to be able to use the space for tracking both our albums Visitations and Not Coming Back. The space has a certain feel and most importantly an incredible live sound for drums/ For the video, we wanted to glow the entire room red, similar to our live shows. The red glow can put us in a certain state of mind, and it creates an atmosphere which allows a complete experience for the audience. We strive to create imagery through song writing and set certain vibes for the listener and this video for ‘Sons Of Belial’ tries to capture that experience.”

In related news, SUNDRIFTER will play Small Stone’s special SXSW showcase this March alongside Tia Carrera, Irata, La Chinga, Dwellers, and The Cold Stares with additional live performances to be announced in the coming weeks.

SUNDRIFTER:
3/13/2019 Small Stone SXSW Showcase @ Lamberts – Austin, TX

Sundrifter, Visitations (2018)

Sundrifter on Thee Facebooks

Sundrifter on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Tia Carrera to Release Visitors / Early Purple March 22; Playing SXSW

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

tia carrera

On March 13 at Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue, Austin’s own Tia Carrera will jam into oblivion as headliners of Small Stone Records‘ return SXSW showcase, topping a bill that includes The Cold StaresDwellersSundrifterLa Chinga and Irata. It’s been a while, but Small Stone showcases at SXSW are like a battle royale: Band vs. band. Volume vs. ears. Booze vs. liver. Those nights are the stuff of legend, and as the label girds its loins to revive the tradition, the hometown natives likewise make a return, this time with their first album since 2011’s Cosmic Priestess (review here). The off-the-cuff three-piece have brought in Dixie Witch bassist Curt Christenson, and Visitors / Early Purple will be out March 22, though preorders are up and you can stream the 16-minute side B cut — that’s “Early Purple” — right now. Of particular note is the fact that there isn’t a CD version being done; it’s vinyl and digital-only. Fascinating.

Info for the Small Stone showcase is here on Thee Facebooks, and info on the album follows:

tia carrera visitors early purple

Visitors / Early Purple by Tia Carrera

What can you say about Tia Carrera? Longevity, stamina, power, grace, sensuality, and telepathy? Don’t forget bone shakingly loud, always impressive and truly psychedelic.

Jason Morales (guitar) and Erik Conn (drums), each with a reputation in ATX for their shredness, are now pushing 20 years together as Tia Carrera with zero signs of slowing down. They’ve recruited longtime friend and legendary bass wizard, Curt Christenson (Dixie Witch/Crimson Devils) as a permanent member, in a move made a few years ago that has emboldened the band’s sound and dynamic, telepathic talent, and steadfast trajectory of heavy-psych-blues-bliss exploration.

The band is mysteriously and famously selective about what they officially release to the public. With every performance unique by the improvisation of their music, they’ve amassed quite a collection of recorded material, both live performances and private studio recordings.

Culled from the latter are the blistering plight of “Visitors” and muscle-car groove of “Early Purple,” both of which can be heard on Tia Carrera’s forthcoming release on Small Stone Records in Spring 2019.

Tia Carrera continue to gain new fans, influence their peers, ignite the legend worldwide, and are more respected and relevant than ever as veterans known to take their listeners on a journey of tripped-out and high energy proportions. It’s clear to anyone in earshot the band still loves what they do. And when they play, they’re loud enough that just about everyone is in earshot.

Releases March 22, 2019.

Tia Carrera is:
Jason Morales: guitar
Curt Christenson: bass

Recorded at the BBQ Shack, Austin, TX.
Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova.
Artwork by Tim Kerr.
Layout by Alexander von Wieding.

http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com

Tia Carrera, Visitors / Early Purple (2019)

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Friday Full-Length: Dozer, Through the Eyes of Heathens

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

Part of the magic of listening to Dozer is being able to say, no matter which of their five albums you put on, that, yes, this was the moment when they came into their own. Even going back to their 2000 debut, In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here), as their sound was so highly influenced by the desert rock coming out of California, they inevitably brought their own spin to those established elements. 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens was their penultimate album ahead of 2008’s Beyond Colossal (discussed here), and it was their first release through Small Stone Records in the US, which became their home after moving from Man’s Ruin Records to their own Molten Universe imprint. They were, of course, an absolute monster of a band by then, and given the swath of early and later splits and singles they released and the touring they did, it’s easy to forget that only five years separate their first and fourth long-players. But that momentum can be heard as well across the 10 songs on Through the Eyes of Heathens, and it sounds utterly unstoppable.

From the very start of “Drawing Dead” through the memorable lead line in the slower-paced closer “Big Sky Theory,” Dozer assembled a work of impeccable songwriting and deep-rooted character. In the arc of their career, every record was another step forward, and just as 2001’s Madre de Dios built on the debut and 2003’s Call it Conspiracy (discussed here) built on that, so too did Through the Eyes of Heathens pick up from where its predecessor left off. Its sound was still rooted in a heavy rock feel, but Dozer were able to translate that into something more aggressive when they wanted — their sound had bite as well as lumber, and while a cut like “Born a Legend” could be traced back to their desert-minded beginnings in its basic structure, by the time it was finally executed, it was something else entirely. Working with the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, guitarist Tommi Holappa (see also: Greenleaf), bassist Johan Rockner (now of Besvärjelsen), the band had parted with drummer Erik Bäckwall (also now in Besvärjelsen) after the third LP, and they brought in Karl Daniel Lidén to fill in behind the kit.

No minor change. Lidén had played in Greenleaf with Holappa as well as in Demon Cleaner, and was already by then well into honing his craft as a producer/engineer. On drums for Through the Eyes of Heathens, he added to the propulsion of songs like “From Fire Fell” and the underlying intensity of “The Roof, the River, the Revolver,” while holding together the airy groove in the volume-surge chorus of “Days of Future Past.dozer through the eyes of heathens” His approach to the riffs was to meet them head on, such that every turn of “Blood Undone” seems punctuated and “Man of Fire” seems to run at a clip trying to convey putting itself out. His work, alongside Holappa‘s leads and riff construction, Nordin‘s ultra-distinctive and ever-more-confident vocals, and Rockner‘s classic you-guys-just-go-ahead-and-have-fun-if-you-need-me-I’ll-be-here-being-the-foundation-of-these-songs style of bass, helped bring the pointed energy of Through the Eyes of Heathens to live, such that it wasn’t just heavy, or grooving, or loud, or whatever else. It was vibrant. On a sheer delivery level, Dozer evoked a sense of shove that spoke to the urgency of its own creation. Putting it on was like having Arnold Schwarzenegger hold out his robot hand and say, “Come with me if you want to live.”

And while, yes, definitely some of Through the Eyes of Heathens‘ highlight moments were found in its intense push, there was never a lack of atmosphere. Sure, flourish of piano, organ, percussion, etc., helped with that, but most of it was owed to the breadth of the guitar tones and to Nordin‘s ease of melody. His shouts in “Born a Legend,” and the standalone lines in “Until Man Exists No More” — which almost made the guest vocal spot on that track from Mastodon‘s Troy Sanders feel superfluous — made for an essential presence throughout, and as much reach as there was in the songs, Nordin‘s performance was one more standout factor tying the material together. One could say the same of Holappa‘s work on guitar. I already said it about Rockner on bass, and the same applied to Lidén‘s drums. It was everything in these songs. There was no “miss” anywhere on the album.

Which is what it came down to. It was the songs. There was a memorable line, or a riff, or just something about the way it was played, to go with every single track on Through the Eyes of Heathens. It’s a 44-minute record, so not short — though the standard has gotten shorter in intervening years with the vinyl resurgence and so on — but a cut like “Omega Glory” seemed to move from hook to hook to hook, and even in the eight-minute stretch of “Big Sky Theory” at the end or in the quieter verses of “Days of Future Past,” there was ultimately nothing spare about it.

There are arguments to be made for each of Dozer‘s full-lengths as being their best work. Through the Eyes of Heathens, for me at least, seems to summarize much of what made them so rich and hard-hitting as well as the individualized sensibility of their material. I won’t take away from anything they did before or after — their last offering, 2013’s Vultures (review here), was the compiled pre-production demos for this album — but I still find myself going back to Through the Eyes of Heathens not infrequently and it feels each time like not only does it still have something new to offer, that it’s not just nostalgia, but also that it stands up to the time since it first came out with an ease that makes almost a decade and a half seem like nothing at all. Maybe that is nostalgia in itself. Fine, and well earned. True front-to-back releases are rare. They don’t happen every year, contrary to what hyperbole and promospeak tell you. Through the Eyes of Heathens is a blueprint for how to make an album last longer than its runtime.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I went last night and saw Yawning Man and Freedom Hawk in Brooklyn. First club show in a while. I get too anxious these days in crowds. Fests I can kind of get away with it, because usually I’m going back and forth from one thing to the next, taking pictures, writing notes, whatever it is, but just standing around at a gig waiting for a band to go on, I feel like I’m losing my mind. It was a good show though, even though The Drunkest Guy in the Room kind of accused me of being a CIA agent. I guess because I looked stiff and was standing in the back? I don’t know. I was just glad he didn’t stab me in the throat with a piece of the glass he subsequently broke. New Yorkers, such as there are any, delude themselves in thinking that a kind of charm.

The baby was up this morning by the time I was done writing about Dozer. 5:30 or thereabouts. Brutal. I got in a little after midnight from the show, which ended a bit before 11, and was up at 4. My alarm had been set for 6. Just up. So it goes. Got some writing done, grabbed the baby, read books — One Fish Two Fish, Hop on Pop, and whatnot — and had breakfast. Gave the baby a bath and put him down for a nap, which The Patient Mrs. rightly decided also to take.

I meanwhile did the voice tracks for Sunday’s episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio, answered some email to the best of my limited ability, and settled in for this. We’ll see if I can finish by the time The Pecan awakes.

Seemed silly to post about it, but this week I put up the 11,000th post on this site. Not bad. They’re not all gold, but you know, it’s a pretty significant number anyway.

So Monday will be the Yawning Man/Freedom Hawk live review. Here’s what else I’ve got in the notes. There’s plenty:

MON 01/21 Yawning Man live review; Hollow Leg album stream.
TUE 01/22 The Sabbathian album stream.
WED 01/23 9Doorsopen track premiere; Benthic Realm video premiere.
THU 01/24 Thermic Boogie track premiere; Sundrifter video.
FRI 01/25 Swallow the Sun review.

Subject to change something something blah blah.

It’s a lot of cool stuff, and it means I won’t just be spending this weekend filing my secret undercover CIA report about the vape-quotient at the Yawning Man show and instead will have plenty of writing to keep me busy. Seriously, what the hell would the CIA be doing at the Vitus Bar? I would love to know what the reason would be. Why would they be there? What’s the operation? Testing the effects of the sustained awesomeness of Mario Lalli’s bass-playing on the fragile human psyche?

Again, I was glad to not be stabbed.

Or slashed.

Alright, I’m gonna punch out so I can go read reviews of the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery season two before I actually watch it so I can sound smart when I make “observations” about canon connections to The Patient Mrs. Don’t tell her.

Have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Here’s the Bio I Wrote for Iota’s Tales Reissue

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was just a couple months ago that I was last heaping retrospective praise on Iota‘s Tales full-length, which was originally released by Small Stone Records in 2008. Needless to say, then, that when the label came around and asked if I had anything to say about a vinyl reissue in the works, I mashed my forehead into my keyboard until a bunch of nonsensical fanboyism could be deciphered by a trained team of baboons, syllable by syllable. Something like that. It may have been orangutans.

The important factor, more even than the fact that this is a “Thing I Wrote” post, which are always a little jolt to my fragile-manchild ego, is that said LP edition of Tales will be out on March 15. In my head, this will play out to massive fanfare and the discovery of a kickass band with untold potential being discovered by a new generation of fans, leading to a reunion, a vital new album and a tour on — why not? — a comfortable bus, maybe shared with Monster Magnet or someone like that. Sounds good? Sounds good to me.

Maybe that’s how it goes. Maybe if you tell two friends and they tell two friends and they tell two friends we’ll all invent the internet. I don’t know. But it’s been 11 years and Tales is still due more acknowledgement than it’s gotten.

Here’s the bio I wrote as circled back through the PR wire with the release info:

iota tales 2019

IOTA: Small Stone Recordings To Release Tales Full-Length From Cult Stoner Metal Collective On Limited-Edition Vinyl This March; Preorders Available

When IOTA’s Tales was first released more than a decade ago, it immediately heralded a change in the scope of heavy rock ‘n’ roll. From the hard punch of its opening duo “New Mantis” and “We Are The Yithians,” it departed into three extended cuts that drew together already-classic elements of weighted riffs with a doors-thrown-open sense of space and jammed into scorched-solo psychedelic oblivion. With Joey Toscano, who’d go on to form Dwellers, on guitar and vocals, the suitably wizardly Oz on bass, and recording engineer Andy Patterson, who soon enough would join SubRosa, IOTA raised a monolith of singular intent and showed throughout Tales a potential that was entirely their own.

The Salt Lake City trio had been around for over five years by then, having formed in 2002 and released two demos before the album as they earned local praise and found themselves supporting the likes of Brant Bjork, High On Fire, Black Cobra, Eternal Elysium, The Sword, and others. And that’s all well and good, but it would be Tales that defined them, whether it was “The Sleeping Heathen” started off at a sprint on its ten-minute run, “Opiate Blues” sure enough finding room for some harp alongside its dirt-covered riffs and foresight-laden heavy blues pulsations, or the massive sprawl of the twenty-two-minute “Dimensional Orbiter” that dream-jammed its way toward the outer reaches of cosmic sensation. Tantric, broad, and a gorgeous showcase of a dynamic ready to storm the earth, it helped earn Iota a cult following that persists over ten years later.

And along with anyone else who might be fortunate to stumble upon it, that cult, quite frankly, deserves to have Tales on vinyl. This is the first official LP release of the album, so call it a reissue or don’t. It doesn’t matter. Music this good exists out of time, and whether IOTA’s Tales is new to a listener or a well-kept secret regarded as a classic unto itself, it still sounds as far-reaching as it did when the band unfurled it the first time around. It wasn’t to be missed then. It’s not to be missed now [words by JJ Koczan].

Small Stone Recordings will release IOTA’s Tales full-length on vinyl for the first time ever on March 15th. Limited to 500 units in a clear with black swirl color combination, Tales was remastered for vinyl by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio in Ann Arbor, Michican with the original running order of the album slightly altered to fit on the LP format.

For preorders and to stream Tales in its entirety go to THIS LOCATION.

Tales Track Listing:
Side A:
1. New Mantis
2. The Sleeping Heathen
3. Opiate Blues
Side B:
4. Dimensional Orbiter
5. We Are The Yithians

IOTA is:
Joey Toscano – guitars, vocals
Oz – bass
Andy Patterson – drums

http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

Iota, Tales (2008/2019)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: La Chinga, Beyond the Sky

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

la chinga beyond the sky

[Click play above to stream La Chinga’s Beyond the Sky in its entirety. Album is out Sept. 7 on Small Stone Records.]

It’s tempting to say that if your van’s not rockin’, don’t bother knockin’ on La Chinga‘s second album for Small Stone and third overall, Beyond the Sky, but the truth is that just about everybody is invited to come dig on what the Vancouver, B.C., buds have put together this time out. It’s a collection of 11 tracks topping 45 minutes that makes the most out of big, unabashed hooks and a classic party-rocking sensibility, from the opening “Woo!” in “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” into the ’70s-styled “Wings of Fire” and the proto-metal-turns-stoner-mellow-solo-jam “Mama Boogie,” which may or may not be a sequel to “Boogie Children” from their 2013 self-titled debut (discussed here) and which you’d best believe brings back its chorus at the end, it brims with energy well beyond what might qualify as “electric” and sounds in true Small Stone fashion not like it’s mining its influences for parts to reorder and recreate in vintageist loyalty, but instead like it’s engaging with the legends and rockers of yore — Nazareth, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and a host of others among them — to hone a modern interpretation of what they did those generations ago.

The result is an ass-shaking good time that plays itself out high on professionalism and void of pretense as the everybody-sings three-piece of guitarist Ben Yardley, bassist Carl Spackler and drummer Jason Solyom make their way through the opening salvo of the aforementioned three cuts and into the mid-paced “Black River,” no less catchy but with a shift in vocals that marks a transition into the next stage of the release. Their 2016 Small Stone debut, Freewheelin’ (review here), worked in much the same aesthetic territory, but where Beyond the Sky distinguishes itself is in its songwriting. “Mama Boogie,” with that midsection jam-out, is the longest inclusion at 5:35, and the Southern-styled centerpiece “Keep on Rollin'” is the only other cut that tops five minutes, but even those feel taut in their construction, like they’ve been hammered out — not flat, or dry in their delivery at all, but worked on, ironed free of their inefficiencies, and built with a genuine will to engage their audience as they otherwise might on stage, “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” a signal that festivities have begun that feels hand-made to start a live set.

Lyrics like “Hey mama/Hey mama boogie!” from that song and “Freedom, alright” from “Keep on Rollin’,” as well as some of the declarations in what would seem to be the self-descriptive “H.O.W. (Are You Ready?” — the acronym standing for “Hell on Wheels,” which if you’re into Fu Manchu is no big deal — and the closer “Warlords” might require a grain of salt, but while La Chinga are most certainly all about having fun, they’re not so tongue-in-cheek that they either lose sight of the importance of the songs’ structure or that they feel insincere in their delivery. To be clear, Beyond the Sky is a blast. On point in its pro-shoppery, boozy in all the right ways but not so tipsy that Yardley can’t bust out a succession of blinding solos, and never out of line with the central mission, it nonetheless carries just an undercurrent of danger as the listener makes their way through the front-to-back, if only for the “how can they keep this up?” factor. They do keep it up, though.

la chinga

Side B cuts like “Killer Wizard” and “Death Rider” and “Feel it in My Bones” would be filler on many records — and many records of this ilk; vinyl-ready but more CD length and linear-feeling in its flow — but La Chinga allow for no dip in quality as “Killer Wizard” builds its chorus around choice riffing, “Death Rider” elicits a groove so righteous they just as easily could’ve named it “Papa Boogie” to correspond with “Mama” earlier, and “Feel it in My Bones” proffers yet another masterful hook en route to the closing duo. There are changes in mood throughout, but never a turn from the band’s central purpose of craft, and the spirit of the material they bring to bear throughout Beyond the Sky is as much about the high level of its execution as the who’s-up-for-a-cocktail vibe. For an offering that sounds so studio-made — that is, crisp in the production of Jeremy Koch at Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, and with such an overarching clarity of sound — the vitality that SpacklerYardley and Solyom bring to the proceedings is no less infectious than the choruses they seem to have in such endless supply.

I don’t know if I’d say that’s the greatest accomplishment of Beyond the Sky — take your pick between that and the songwriting itself — but it’s certainly a noteworthy aspect of the listening experience and it serves La Chinga well throughout. In their harmonies, standout guitar work and sunshiny vibe, their energy comes through even the quieter or slower stretches of the songs, and it’s not so much a push as in something being inflicted on the listener as it’s an invitation. Hey, we’re out back and we have some beers — come hang. Whether an individual gets down with what the band are tossing out is of course up to them — nothing is universal — but La Chinga make a strong case for themselves in these tracks, and offer a reminder that a band doesn’t need a ton of experimentalism or heady prog to entice an audience; they just need to make it sound like they’re where it’s at.

And from their ass-shaking grooves to their stories about wizards and warlords and death riders and Mama Boogie herself — all things one might find painted on the side of a van that either is or isn’t rockin’ when you come knockin’ — La Chinga most definitely do that. They’ve been kicking around for six years now and have steadily made a name for themselves since the self-titled and have only continued to refine their approach since then. It’s easy to hear songs like “Black River” and “Death Rider” and the DeepPurple-minus-organ drive of “Warlords” at the end and pine for some mystical bygone age of heavy rock and roll, when “men were men” and the west was wild and jeans were tight and blah blah blah. Bullshit. Fact of the matter is La Chinga aren’t happening 45 years ago. They’re happening right now, and the lessons they’ve learned may be from a formative era but what they’re doing with them is as much of this moment as anything else belonging to this bizarre, bizarre time. It’s a challenge to think we might be in a heavy rock heyday. La Chinga make it a little easier.

La Chinga, “Wings of Fire” official video

La Chinga on Thee Facebooks

La Chinga on Twitter

La Chinga on Instagram

La Chinga on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Sundrifter Sign to Small Stone Records; Visitations Reissue Due Oct. 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sundrifter

Boston space-grunge trio Sundrifter have inked a deal with Small Stone Records and will issue their debut album, Visitations (review here), through the label on CD and LP Oct. 19 — an increasingly packed release date that will also see records arrive from Brujas del Sol, Castle, Black Lotus and Moab, probably among others, as well as the tickets on sale for Roadburn 2019. How then does a band like Sundrifter stand out? See that part in the first sentence where it says “space-grunge?” Ain’t nobody playing it quite like Sundrifter are playing it. They released Visitations on their own earlier this year and Small Stone has the leadoff track, “Sons of Belial,” streaming now, and if you didn’t dig into it yet, you probably should. It’ll answer any other questions you might have.

Oh hey, and it turns out I wrote the bio below. Wonders never cease.

Here it is as it appears on the label’s Bandcamp page:

sundrifter visitations

Sundrifter – Visitations – Small Stone

Born out of a Boston rock underground teeming with history and riffs alike, Sundrifter capture the essence of tonal weight with their Small Stone debut, Visitations. Their second album overall behind 2016’s Not Coming Back, the nine-track long-player harnesses spaciousness and heft alike and soars with melodic vibrancy in a way most acts simply can’t balance. Shades of Soundgarden and Queens of the Stone Age appear, but they’re just shades, and Sundrifter’s vision of heavy is their own, someplace between grunge, doom, psychedelia and classic heavy rock.

Sundrifter is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Craig Puera, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan, and Visitations was engineered, mixed and mastered by Dan Schwartz at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Massachusetts. The space the record captures isn’t of the Hawkwind, pulsating rhythm variety, but instead one that oozes with planetary motion, one that rolls along a chaotic cosmic path, not at all afraid to smash one asteroid off another before crashing to the surface, which, as we all know, is how life began in the first place.

Releases October 19, 2018.

Tracklist:
1. Sons Of Belial
2. Death March
3. Lightworker
4. Targeted
5. Till You Come Down
6. Hammerburn
7. Sky Peoples Son
8. Fire In the Sky
9. I Want To Leave

Sundrifter is:
Craig Peura: guitars & vocals
Patrick Queenan: drums & percussion
Paul Gaughran: bass

http://www.facebook.com/sundriftermusic
http://www.twitter.com/sun_drifter1
http://www.sundrifterband.com/
https://sundrifter.bandcamp.com/
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com

Sundrifter, Visitations (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: Iota, Tales

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

What a record. I’ve mentioned Iota here and there over the years, mostly when talking about other bands, but it’s now been 10 years since the Salt Lake City-based trio released their debut and apparent swansong, Tales, on Small Stone, and it seems high time the album got a revisit. In hindsight, it was a collection ahead of the curve in its blend of straightforward heavy rock riffing and more open-feeling jams, and even when it came out, it was clear the band were onto something special. I was still working print mags at the time and I remember calling it “like Kyuss in space,” and I stand by that to some degree. Under the mountain-filled skies of Utah, Iota harnessed a style that was as comfortable in the high-rolling lead guitar strut deep into the seventh minute of “The Sleeping Heathen”‘s total 10 as it was tearing through the opening duo of “New Mantis” and “We are the Yithians,” neither of which was half as long. Those two tracks, however brief, were utterly crucial to the overall impression made by guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Oz Yosri and drummer/engineer Andy Patterson in what followed.

To wit, with “New Mantis” (4:40) and “We are the Yithians” (3:37) at the outset, Tales subsequently launched into three cuts that would comprise roughly 84 percent of its runtime. “The Sleeping Heathen” (10:42), the sprawling “Dimensional Orbiter” (22:56) and closer “Opiate Blues” (8:14) shot outward from where Tales began, but the context of the two opening tracks gave a straightforward edge to even the most dug-in jams of “Dimensional Orbiter,” which as it hit the five-minute mark, pivoted from its hook and the gritty vocal delivery of Toscano into a consuming instrumental rush that continued until after 19 minutes in, when a slowdown brought the vocals back atop masterful crashing and more wah-drenched lead work. “Dimensional Orbiter” was and remains a gorgeous demonstration of the potential in Iota‘s sound, but the basic elements from which it was crafted are right there in “New Mantis” and “We are the Yithians.” From the furious chug and snare punishment that started the former to the tension of its verses and the takeoff into a solo before the first half was done, to the hook that emerged through the barrage of high-desert tonality and ethereal who-the-hell-knows-what-they’re-talking-about lyrics, and into the semi-metallized slower-thrash riffing of “We are the Yithians,” catchy, quick, efficient as it was, the sense of Iota careening from one movement to the next was palpable even before “The Sleeping Heathen” took hold.

And once it did, it was the beginning point of an entirely different stage of the album. I’d call it a transition point, but it really wasn’t. While “The Sleeping Heathen” picked up at a sprint from “We are the Yithians” and would turn fluidly into “Dimensional Orbiter” on the other end, its place on the record was hardly just about making the shift from one side of the band’siota tales personality to the other. That’s part of what made Tales so special. There was of course a flow between — and plenty within — its tracks, but a huge part of the reason it all worked so well was simply that Toscano, Yosri and Patterson had the confidence to pull it off. Toscano was a grounding presence as a frontman, and the importance of his leading the band through the return to structure in the final minutes of “Dimensional Orbiter” isn’t to be understated for the work it did in establishing Iota‘s songwriting as central. Yeah, they jammed way, way, way out, but they didn’t let the track end without bringing it back either. That was the job of “Opiate Blues,” with its harmonica-laced wash of fuzz and all-gone-not-coming-back vibe. But all the more, then, what “Dimensional Orbiter” did was to show that Iota were conscious of what they were doing in the material. It might sound like they were getting lost in the vastness of their own making, and maybe they were for a while, but they weren’t about to actually stay lost. I’ll happily maintain that Iota‘s Tales was one of 2008’s most exciting albums, and if it showed up now, a decade later, I’d still be dying to hear what the band did next.

A lot’s changed in 10 years, of course, but you take my meaning. Consider the vinyl revival. Tales, as the runtimes and track placements were on the original disc, wouldn’t work on vinyl. You’d probably have to drop off “Opiate Blues” and lose that harmonica-jam finish to close with “Dimensional Orbiter” as a standalone cut on side B. Side A would work with “New Mantis,” “We are the Yithians” and “The Sleeping Heathen” as they are, but the linear aspect of the record would be gone and it would be a marked change in the overall affect. Maybe it would be cool, but I’m not sure sacrificing the closer to fit on a 12″ would be a fair enough trade. But 2008 was a different time. It was a moment of transition in the social media landscape, but even more than that, consider that Texas’ Wo Fat, who’d made their debut in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, would release Psychedelonaut the next year and embark on a similar course of blending straightforward rock with jammier fare. Their take was bluesier, and they certainly went on to do it more than once, but it stands as another example of how new the idea was at that point. Iota were right on the cusp of that movement waiting to happen.

Then nothing happened. They played SXSW a couple times and would talk about new material for a while, but by the second half of 2009, Toscano was beginning to establish his new outfit, Dwellers, and they’d go on to release two records also through Small Stone to-date, while Patterson would take hold of the drums in SubRosa and continue to build his reputation as a producer. Careers took different paths, and gradually Iota became a footnote and a case of what-coulda-been-style potential unrealized. I heard as recently as last year they had some new jams, but nothing has come to the surface as yet, and in the meantime, everyone seems plenty busy otherwise. SubRosa‘s For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here) was the best album of 2016, and Dwellers, whose 2014 outing, Pagan Fruit (review here), continues to get periodic revisits, have reportedly started hammering out material for a third LP, to which one looks forward. Yosri was playing with Bird Eater alongside members of the crushing Gaza, but they broke up in 2014. Iota had early demos with different personnel in the rhythm section, but Tales stands alone as the document of what they accomplished during their time. And 10 years after the fact, it still kicks unreasonable amounts of ass.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

We were getting ready to leave Connecticut the other day — prepping for the by-now-so-familiar-The-Pecan-doesn’t-even-really-mind-it-anymore trip south to New Jersey for a final week here before the semester starts and we have to go back to Massachusetts to hunker down for the winter ahead. I was packing the car. I had a laundry basket full of clean clothes coming south, and the baby didn’t want to be put down. He’s got three teeth, working on numbers four and five already, and has been hair-trigger pretty much daily for the last three weeks running. Brutal. I said, “You wanna go for a ride in the laundry basket?” and he gave me a look like, “The fuck kinda question is that chief OF COURSE I wanna go for a ride in the laundry basket,” so I loaded him in, he held onto the sides and I marched out to put the basket in the car. Fine.

I think it must have been when I pulled the basket up onto the back bumper so I could open the hatch on The Patient Mrs.’ car that my back went out. Brutally out. This was Wednesday early on and it’s Friday morning as I write this and I’m still considerably uncomfortable. I’ve spent the last two days with heating pads and ibuprofen and I’m better than I was by Wednesday evening when we got here and I couldn’t really move, but very clearly something was pulled. Something necessary for basic functions. It has sucked, and it continues to suck. Yesterday I could pick the baby up, but couldn’t really hold him long. Just to kind of put him from one place to the other. No way to live.

My father always had chronic back pain. My sister as well, for years. Real genetic lottery winner, this one.

So that’s kind of peppered my last couple days, and by “peppered” I mean “been excruciating and frustrating.” But so it goes. In addition, I’ve been up in the middle of the night doing Obelisk stuff so that I can be available during the day to watch the baby so The Patient Mrs. can work. Working the overnights. “Four-shift crew rotation, Riker. Get it done.” I don’t actually mind that. I can relax and not be as rushed to get things done, but it does pretty much necessitate a nap later on. And every now and then I cry a bit.

–Wow. So I just went fucking apeshit and typed out a whole miserable screed about depression and pills and being a wreck. I deleted it, it’s gone, but it was there. It sucks that I’m not really comfortable enough to post that kind of thing here anymore. I used to feel like I could say anything at any time. Now, it’s setting myself up for bullshit.

Bummer.

Let’s do the notes instead. That’ll be productive. Did you listen to that Moab track today? That record smokes, so I hope so. Here’s what’s up for next week as of now:

Mon.: Clutch review; The White Swan track premiere.
Tue.: Fvzz Popvli track premiere/review; news catchup.
Wed.: Constant Lovers track premiere.
Thu.: Juicer track premiere.
Fri.: Ramprasad EP full stream.

Busy busy, as ever. Probably Monday we’ll head back north to Connecticut and then follow-up with a return to Massachusetts thereafter. The Patient Mrs. has to go be brilliant as she will at a conference in Boston next weekend, so I’m on baby duty for the duration there, which is fine. I should be able to move by then.

Which reminds me: ibuprofen.

I’m gonna finish downing this coffee, fire off an email or two and go back to bed hopefully for 90 minutes or so until The Pecan wakes up. If you need me this weekend, I’m on the social medias and checking in as much as I can getting ready for next week. That Clutch review is going to be a fun one to put together.

Alright. Great and safe weekend, please. And please too, forum and radio:

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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La Chinga Announce Sept. 7 Release for Beyond the Sky; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 

la chinga

Canadian heavy rockers La Chinga are getting ready to follow-up their 2016 Small Stone debut, Freewheelin’ (review here) with Beyond the Sky, and suitably enough, the first word one hears on the new album is “woo!” That exclamation arrives at the beginning of opening track “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do,” which is streaming now to mark the opening of preorders through Small Stone‘s Bandcamp page and serves an immediate reminder of La Chinga‘s songwriting prowess and aesthetic inspired by classic heavy. In under three minutes, it earworms its way into the brain and sets up residence for a much longer haul. Certainly Freewheelin’ had similar catchiness working in its favor, but it’s nice to know that hasn’t diminished in the interim. As a teaser for the rest of the record, it bodes well.

Oh, and the Alexander von Wieding cover art is awesome. The song, that cover and the album details all came down the PR wire lookin’ like this:

la chinga beyond the sky

LA CHINGA: Hard Rock Power Trio To Release Beyond The Sky Full-Length This September Via Small Stone; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Hard rock power trio LA CHINGA will release their impending new full-length, Beyond The Sky, via Small Stone this fall.

The follow-up to LA CHINGA’s 2016 critically-lauded Freewheelin’ full-length was captured at Vancouver’s fabled Warehouse studio with no-less-fabled producer Jamey Koch (DOA, Copyright, Tragically Hip). Opening track “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” sets the agenda for Beyond The Sky’s forty-five minutes of sublimely confident freedom rock, sometimes meaty and beaty (“Mama Boogie,” “Death Rider”), sometimes glam-handed (“Killer Wizard”), and occasionally even dirtbag pretty (“Keep On Rollin’). When it all melts into a puddle of phased goo in the final bars of “Warlords,” the listener has been rolled, boogied, and otherwise supernaturally conveyed well beyond the sky, maybe even beyond ridiculous.

LA CHINGA’s Beyond The Sky will see release September 7th, on CD, LP, and digital formats via Small Stone. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION where “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” can be streamed.

Beyond The Sky Track Listing:
1. Nothin’ That I Can’t Do
2. Wings Of Fire
3. Mama Boogie
4. Black River
5. Beyond The Sky
6. Keep On Rollin’
7. Killer Wizard
8. Death Rider
9. Feel It In My Bones
10. H.O.W.
11. Warlords

LA CHINGA was forged in 2012, although in reality it was conceived about a year earlier when bassist/vocalist Carl Spackler was surfing in Southern California and his Chicano beach buddies kept hailing each other with the mysterious phrase: “La chingaaaaa!” It was then that Spackler’s dream of a hard rock power trio built on erogenous funkadelic rhythms and a devotion to life’s more sublime pleasures — chief among them: tequila — was now embodied inside a beautifully obscene two-word incantation.

Drummer/vocalist Jay Solyom and guitarist/vocalist Ben Yardley — also a noted professor of Theremin — were conscripted shortly after, both veterans of Vancouver’s notoriously dead-end music scene, both beautifully obscene in their own right. LA CHINGA’s self-titled debut record was rushed out of a makeshift studio in 2013 on nothing but fumes and the liberating force of not giving a shit, landing like a hairball crossed with a stink bomb inside a world of yoga pant commerce, condo developments, and Macbook “musicians.” This was a revolutionary act, or maybe a devolutionary one, at least.

Meanwhile, Spackler was busying pouring all off his demented ’70s obsessions into wild three-minute homemade music videos, finding the visual language of fuzz itself inside shitty horror films as he furnished the great infernal drive-in of his mind. Somehow, miraculously, this charming brew conspired to make LA CHINGA the hottest bunch of stoned ape groovers to hot wheel out of the Pacific Northwest since forever. Freewheelin’ followed in 2016 on Small Stone, and so did unhinged tours of Europe, more year-end accolades, and festival slots (420 Fest, Sasquatch). In late 2017, LA CHINGA entered Vancouver’s Warehouse studio with producer Jamey Koch. The result is Beyond The Sky, available this fall via Small Stone. This is how it feels to get chinga’d, amigos. Surf’s up.

LA CHINGA is:
Jason Solyom: drums, percussion, vox
Carl Spackler: bass, vox
Ben Yardley: guitar, vox, theremin

http://www.facebook.com/La-Chinga
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

La Chinga, Beyond the Sky (2018)

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