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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Review & Video Premiere: Black Elephant, Cosmic Blues

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on June 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black elephant cosmic blues

[Click play above to stream the video premiere for ‘Walking Dead’ by Black Elephant. Their album, Cosmic Blues, is out July 20 on Small Stone Records.]

Though they stay pretty much within the sphere of heavy rock throughout, the actual sound of Italian four-piece Black Elephant is much more nuanced in its refusal to simply do or be one thing. Within the first three tracks of Cosmic Blues, their second album and debut on the ultra-respected purveyor Small Stone Records, the band bounce around between hard-hitting riffs, psychedelic spaciousness, noisy crunch and meandering jams. Only then do they break into the three-minute riff-winding boogie and straight-ahead drive of “Walking Dead.” And yet, as the opening semi-title-track “Cosmic Soul,” the not-at-all-a-cover “Helter Skelter” and the 1:44 instrumental “Chase Me” play out, there’s nothing particularly jarring in the transitions wrought by guitarist/vocalist Caravelli Alessio, guitarist Giacosa Massimiliano, bassist De Stefanis Marcello, and drummer Brunzu Simone.

Particularly with Alessio belting out the vocals as he does on the swinging “Baby Eroina” later, or in the more subdued verses of “Cosmic Soul,” for that matter, there are elements of classic Swedish heavy rock at play in terms of style — that foundation in classic heavy rock melded with a post-’90s grunge groove — but Cosmic Blues is quick to establish its own identity in the sonic meld and thorough in its expansion thereof. The outing totals a relatively quick seven tracks/34 minutes, but that’s more than enough time for Black Elephant to convey their variety of influence, and it’s worth noting that while they seem to make a point of changing up their take throughout, doing so never seems to come at the expense of an individual song itself. From “Cosmic Soul” onward, they go pretty far out, and yet by maintaining a firm commitment to underlying structure, their feet never seem to leave the ground.

A striking balance, and it speaks to the eight years Black Elephant have been a band that they should be able to roll out the languid solo-topped nod early in “Baby Eroina” and move into and through the boogieing midsection of the 7:31 track — that’s the longest on the record, with “Helter Skelter” pretty close at 7:04 — and back to the central riff with such smoothness. Sure, Cosmic Blues has its jarring moments. Following the penultimate also-semi-title-track “Cosmic Blues for Solitary Moose,” the opening push of closer “Inno” hits like a slap to the face, but that’s what it’s meant to do, and this too becomes part of Black Elephant‘s overarching purpose. There’s a strong commitment to vibe throughout, and to be sure, the record has a front-to-back flow that holds firm throughout, but as many wandering solos as there are — they include a particularly resonant one in “Inno,” as one might expect for the finale — the band seem to have an eye on the overarching impression they leave behind them.

black elephant

It’s a positive one, gaining from the different faces Black Elephant show throughout and the efforts they make toward consistency in line with that. Hard not to consider the two longer tracks as highlights. With the extra room in “Helter Skelter” and “Baby Eroina,” Black Elephant flesh out stylistically. In the earlier cut, that means knocking out a noise rock riff early and taking it into a heavier groove before shifting via wah-drenched lead work into its jammed-out midsection, gradually getting more and more minimalist as it goes, only to build excitingly back to the chorus and end with some added crunch. “Baby Eroina” — funny how I keep wanting to put an ‘h’ in front of the second word — is looser in its march overall, but saves its trippiest guitar work for its ending, instead putting out thick distortion and funky vibes in its early moments before launching into its mostly-instrumental second half.

Those are by no means the only highlights of Cosmic Blues — I’ll take nothing away from the effectiveness of “Walking Dead”‘s momentum-maximization at the album’s center or the effectiveness of the brief “Chase Me” before it in capitalizing on a will toward sonic adventure — but they’re striking as focal points just the same, and like “Inno,” they do well to summarize the most important aspect of Black Elephant‘s methodology, which is that rather than jump from one sound to the next, they bring this diversity of ideas into their own approach. The difference is ultimately one of coalescence. Black Elephant are able to shift into and out of parts of songs without losing either their forward momentum or, in the case of some of the jammier moments, themselves in the process. This is what makes the album flow instead of having it be disjointed the whole way through. The intent is writ large throughout Cosmic Blues, but in kind with the album’s variety is that strong sense of identity that feels crafted with such care, and that’s what makes the collection work so well and ties the songs together, longer or shorter.

While Black Elephant don’t necessarily go anywhere that heavy and/or psychedelic rock hasn’t gone before, they do an excellent job of finding their niche in the genre and do even better in tipping the balance in their aesthetic to one side or the other. Some will dig it for its variety. Some will dig it for its familiarity. And some will just dig it because riffs. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and the varied appeal speaks to Black Elephant knowing their audience — as with many bands in the genre, they play with a fan’s love for it — and knowing how to communicate their ideas through sound. Eight years will no doubt help that effort, but Cosmic Blues stands on its own outside of the time it took the band to realize it, and instead, calls back to its influences and inspirations and invites them, and everyone else, to check out how it all came together in the end. It would be hard to argue against doing so, and I find I’m not inclined to try.

Black Elephant, “Cosmic Soul”

Black Elephant on Thee Facebooks

Black Elephant on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

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Abrahma Recording New Album Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

abrahma

It seems like a really long time since Abrahma released their second album, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here), but the truth is it’s only three years. That record, also their second for Small Stone behind 2012’s Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives (review here), also followed its predecessor by three years, so actually the pace is pretty consistent. Maybe it just feels like a long time to me because I’ve been talking about their third album since Oct. 2016. Maybe I just can’t fucking do math. I don’t know. Point is: hasn’t actually been that long.

And in that time, I don’t even know how many players founding guitarist/vocalist Sebastien Bismuth has been through. At least one full lineup, and I think another one minus a guitarist? In any case, today’s news that Abrahma will record their third long-player — which had the tentative title In Time for the Last Rays of Light when it was first announced but may or may not be called something else by now — will be recorded next month at Orgone Studios in Bedfordshire, UK, with Jaime Gomez Arellano (Orange Goblin, Ghost, Paradise Lost, etc.) at the helm would seem to indicate that the current five-piece incarnation of the band will be the one captured on tape. Fair enough, and here’s looking forward to what comes out of the session, since while it hasn’t actually been that long since their last one, I’ve still been anxious for new Abrahma for three years running.

The band sent the following down the PR wire:

ABRAHMA LOGO

Long time without news from us… But after many up and down we’re delighted to announce that our third album Will finally be recorded in July with Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone Studios.

This new album Will contain 7 songs and some surprises…

It took 3 years to give birth to this album and we really hope you’ll enjoy the fruit of this long work…

Stay tuned for more info….

Tracklisting:
– Lost.Forever.
– Lucidly Adrift
– Eclipse Of the Sane pt.1: Isolation Ghost
– Last Epistle
– Wander in Sedation
– Eclipse of the Sane part.2: Fiddler of the bottle
– There Bears the fruit of Deceit

Sébastien Bismuth – Vocals, Guitars
Florian Leguillon – Guitars, Vocals
Benjamin Carel – Guitars, Synths & Effects
Romain Hauduc – Bass, Vocals
Baptiste Keriel – Drums, Vocals

www.abrahmamusic.net
www.facebook.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
www.twitter.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC

Abrahma, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (2015)

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Friday Full-Length: Roadsaw, Rawk n’ Roll

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

It’s easy to argue that Roadsaw‘s third album is more relevant today than 16 years ago when it was initially released. Both moments represent a general flourishing of heavy and stoner rock(s), but to listen to Rawk n’ Roll — which originally came out in 2002 via Luna Records and which Small Stone reissued in 2007 (also maybe there was a Tortuga release in 2000?) — its tracks seem even more of this moment than that one. Roadsaw were never the “let’s make a record about weed and space” band. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen them on multiple occasions and even share the stage once or twice, and they’re a heavy rock hailstorm: riffs that leave dents in the roof of your car. And likewise, they’ve never wanted to be the most intense band on the planet, but to listen to opener “Right on Through” or the rampaging “Blackout Driver,” the undercurrent of punk is right there to be heard. Still, with bassist Tim Catz‘s classically-influenced writing style, Ian Ross‘ heroics on rhythm and lead guitar, drummer Hari Hassin‘s bending of time on the aforementioned “Blackout Driver,” all-out thrust on “The Finger,” strutting groove on “Bad Ass Rising,” quiet timekeeping on “Your Own Private Slice of Hell” and grounding the nod of “Hoof,” which pulls the band into previously undiscovered spaces, they could hardly be tighter or more electric in their delivery. And in the current moment where it’s more accepted that not every “stoner” band actually spends their days dropping out of life with bong in hand, a sans-bullshit record like Rawk n’ Roll, were it coming out now, could only possibly be greeted as a liberator.

Like the best of Roadsaw‘s work throughout the years, Rawk n’ Roll is dynamic, masterfully composed and structured, and executed with a precision that borders on the scary. With frontman Craig Riggs — who started out on drums when they released their debut, One Million Dollars, in 1995 — so firmly in command of the material, Roadsaw‘s range was able to flourish both from album to album and within the records themselves. Consider the spring of “Disconnected” and the organ and guitar showcase instrumental “That’s Mr. Motherfucker to You,” or the hook of “Bad Ass Rising” and the thickened shuffle of “Buried Alive,” the Hammond-infused midpaced classic vibe in “Foot” and the acoustic-based “Planet Caravan”-style spacer “Burnout,” and the range of Roadsaw‘s craft is all the more the star of Rawk n’ Roll. While acting as a tight, crisp and vibrant unit, they’re able to affect a broad range of material while still keeping an central current of righteousness throughout thanks to the quality of their songwriting, Riggs‘ presence as a frontman, and the focus they demonstrate across the entire album, no matter where an individual song might head. In other words? Really good fucking band and really good fucking album. If Rawk n’ Roll hit inboxes today, the heavy rock blogosphere, myself included, would crap its collective pants, and rightly so.

I guess that’s the other point. It’s been 16 years, maybe more, since Rawk n’ Roll first came out, and it’s timeless. It’s not so much that the genre of heavy rock hasn’t moved on, but that it’s moved on to a place even more suited to Roadsaw than “their day” in the late ’90s and aughts. Their material is straightforward without a lot of the dude-for-dudes chestbeating that permeated so much of the riff-based mindset a few years ago, and their songwriting is top notch to a degree that it could and should be used as a blueprint for others to follow. “Oh, Roasaw did it this way? Cool. That’s what I’ll do.” If only. I talk about it a lot here, especially in these week-ending posts, it seems, but Roadsaw belong in that class of pre-social media heavy that, at this point, doesn’t nearly get the recognition it deserves, though part of the reasoning behind that is obvious: it’s been seven years since they last put out a record.

The shame of that is that 2011’s Roadsaw (review here) was brilliant. No loss of edge, but a more mature band doing what they did best in terms of kicking ass and taking names. Like the preceding outing 2008’s See You in Hell!, it came out on Small Stone, and its hooks were as furious as ever. They did some touring for it, but mostly members have spent the years since developing other projects. Catz and Riggs have the suited-punker troupe White Dynomite, and Riggs also went back to drumming, this time in L.A.’s Sasquatch, making them a cross-country outfit. Ross released a self-titled debut (review here) in 2014 with the Maine-based Murcielago, and then-drummer Jeremy Hemond eventually found himself out of the lineup. Roadsaw signed to Ripple Music in 2016 and of course at that point there were discussions of their next album, but nothing has yet to surface. They’ve continued all along to play regional live shows, doing a weekender last Fall with the reactivated Scissorfight.

Their latest post, from February, on thee social medias reads, “The new Roadsaw record sounds great! Can’t wait for you all to hear it,” so it’s hardly like there isn’t any hope the thing will eventually come out, it’s just a matter of when. In any case, Roadsaw are a band who deserve to be embraced by the generation of heavy listeners who’ve come up in the last half-decade-plus, and nothing’s going to make that happen like a new album. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they get there, and so should you. If you need to know why, listen to Rawk n’ Roll again from the start. It’s not a punishment; you’re only doing yourself a favor.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Massachusetts on the brain. Because I’m leaving. Not permanently, but as of this coming week, The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I will be setting up shop to spend most of the summer splitting time between New Jersey and Connecticut, trying to give the baby as much exposure to both sides of his family as possible, familiarize himself with his older cousins, aunts, uncle, grandmothers. It’s important, and though the house where we’re staying needs a new kitchen — tear! down! that! wall! — I’m also looking forward to getting back to my beloved Garden State and feeling a little bit more like I belong where I am, which I never really have in the five years I’ve lived on the South Shore of MA. I know good people in and around Boston. A lot of them. But while I certainly enjoy the occasional Dudesbrunch (TM) or hanging out with Johnny Arzgarth once or twice a year, I don’t exactly have much going on here. Anyway, I’ll be back around up here periodically — my therapist is here, if nothing else — so I’m not moving, but the base of operations will change until probably later in August, sometime post-Psycho Las Vegas.

This weekend we’re making an initial run. There’s some stuff to bring down — I don’t even know what as of this writing, but stuff all the same; probably baby clothes and toys, maybe my giant Batman action figure. Again, I don’t really know. But I’ve got a few hours to figure it out, so yeah. And if I forget something, well, I’ll be back in MA on Monday, so there’s plenty of opportunity to forget again.

I woke up this morning at 1:30AM. The last couple days I’ve been running a science experiment on myself wherein I forego my evening dose of anxiety medication, which I originally started taking because, well, I was losing my mind. All the time. Anyone remember January? Not me. Anyhow, they’re not the kind of thing that I really think of as a long-term solution, so yeah, I was trying to pull back a bit. Lesson learned? Maybe. I’m going to give it another couple days and if I continue not to sleep, I’ll have my answer. Should make for an interesting weekend though, regardless of the geography. Hell, I’ll probably go back to bed in a bit and read a Star Trek book until I fall asleep, which will be all of 30 seconds. It’s quarter after three as I type this, in case you’re wondering.

While I’m bitching: I also have half a cold, which is delightful if you like sore throated coughing, congestion and sinus pressure. At least I got it traveling.

Notes for next week? Yeah, I have some. With the given that amid all the back and forth over the next five days — running around Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then back to CT, then back to NJ for what we’re thinking of as the actual start to summer on Thursday or Friday, weathepermitting — but here’s what I’ve got so far:

Mon.: Churchburn review. Holy shit that’s heavy.
Tue.: Pelagos review/album stream. Svart weirdness. Also a post about that 18-minute Sleep single.
Wed.: YOB review. That’s a day in itself.
Thu.: Orange Goblin review. Also have an interview done that will run soon.
Fri.: TBD. I’m sure something will come along.

I’m also waiting for my new camera and laptop to show up. According to FedEx, the camera was due yesterday, so I’m hoping it’s here today, and the laptop is supposed to be here early next week. I anticipate it’ll be pretty much an entire day to set that up to my specifications and preferences — no notifications for anything, as little as possible in the startup, remove intrusive and ineffective bundled “virus protection,” install VLC, PhotoShop, etc. — as Windows 10 has a mind of its own in addition to being a data mine. Also, that day will probably take place over the course of three days, because baby.

Baby. Man, I had that Pecan all day Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Best job ever, but definitely exhausting. The Patient Mrs. was at a social justice colloquium, because she’s fucking brilliant and that’s the kind of awesome shit she’s into, so it was me and The Pecan pretty much straight through the morning and afternoon each day until we went and picked her up on campus. Coming off the London trip, where the situation was much the same, it was no big deal — like, not something scary at this point — but he’s crawling and pulling himself up to standing, and yeah, it’s baby-chasing time for sure. He’s a good dude though. The other night I sang him to sleep with Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell,” so yeah. He stays.

Oh, and yesterday we went to this baby music class thing. Like a bunch of babies and toddlers in some very nice guitar-playing lady’s basement, an entire brigade of housewives and yours truly, sitting there in my faded-as-hell Earthless t-shirt with my son, singing “Wheels of the Bus.” Life takes you to unexpected places. The kid liked it though, and it’s an introduction to music more than what he hears me playing in the house all the time and what The Patient Mrs. and I sing to him, plus socialization for an only child who clearly already enjoys engaging with other kids, so I mark it a win.

Jeebus, think this post is long enough? Time to cut my losses and get the hell out for a bit. We’ll be on the road in a few hours, I imagine — everything these days seems to depend and center around naptimes — but I’m going to try to catch up on some email this weekend and Facebook messages and all that stuff. It’s the communication factor that’s really taken a hit since The Pecan was born. I used to be really good at that stuff, but there are only so many hours in the day and it’s the actual writing that I need.

Anyway, point is I’ll be around. Please have a great and safe weekend. It’s June now, so coming on Summer here in the States. If you can see this, I hope the weather’s good where you are and you can enjoy it. That’s what I’m hoping for as well.

All the best and thanks for reading. Back Monday. Forum and Radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Black Elephant Release Cosmic Blues July 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black elephant

Took me frickin’ forever to write the bio below for the Black Elephant record. Like, two months. Just ridiculous. I finally banged it out after I got back from Planet Roadburn last month, but yeah, it was embarrassingly long in the making. Not the record’s fault by any means. You can hear in opening track “Cosmic Soul” that the Italian outfit have their game together on their third record, Cosmic Blues, so yeah, the lag was all on my end. Turns out I just suck. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Lehman, was right all along.

Second grade was a real killer.

Anyhoozle, Black Elephant‘s Cosmic Blues, complete with a bio by yours truly, is out July 20 and available now to preorder from the ultra-venerable Small Stone Records. The PR wire brings release info, art, and some familiar words — which is doubly fortunate, since the document with the bio was on my stolen laptop. “Hooray for cloud backups,” he said far too late.

I just made myself sad twice in the span of one post. Quitting while behind:

black elephant cosmic blues

BLACK ELEPHANT: Psychedelic Fuzz Rock Unit To Release Cosmic Blues Full-Length Via Small Stone This July; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Italian psychedelic fuzz rock unit BLACK ELEPHANT will release their third full-length, and first under the Small Stone Records banner, titled Cosmic Blues, this July.

One would be hard-pressed to come up with a better descriptor for BLACK ELEPHANT’s Cosmic Blues full-length than the title of the album itself. Based in Savona, Italy, the four-piece have conjured ghosts of ’70s heavy fuzz and ’90s riff mongering offering up a sonic brew that’s both potent and thoroughly modern. Cosmic Blues follows 2014’s Bifolchi Inside and 2012’s Spaghetti Cowboys (get it?) and marks their debut on Small Stone Records. Comprised of lead vocalist/lead guitarist Alessio Caravelli, rhythm guitarist Massimiliano Giacosa, bassist Marcello Destefanis, and drummer Simone Brunzu, BLACK ELEPHANT makes their mark in their home country’s booming heavy rock underground with memorable songs and a sound that’s just as comfortable getting funky on “Chase Me” as it is reimagining Soundgarden as a riff rock outfit à la peak-era Dozer, rolling out huge grooves en route to “Cosmic Blues For Solitary Moose,” loaded with fuzz and scorching solos.

Given a brisk, live sound in its production – fitting for a group with hundreds of shows under their collective belt – Cosmic Blues comes across natural and at times maintains the intensity of BLACK ELEPHANTS’ earlier work (closer “Inno” walks by and waves), while simultaneously exploring more spacious realms in the not-a-cover “Helter Skelter” and the takeoff jammer “Baby Eroina,” which eases into and out of its nodding rhythm with a smoothness worthy of a group’s third album and a fluidity that typifies the record’s entire thirty-four-minute run. Leaving their own tracks in the footsteps of bands like Small Stone’s own Isaak, BLACK ELEPHANT hits a new level of craft with Cosmic Blues, and if the righteous drive of opener “Cosmic Soul,” the flowing progression of the LP that ensues, and the name they’ve given the whole affair are anything to go by, they know it for sure. All the better.

BLACK ELEPHANT’s Cosmic Blues was recorded and mixed by Giulio Farinelli, mastered by Maurizio Giannotti, and cames wrapped in the cover design of Robin Gnista. The record will see release on July 20th on CD, digitally, and limited edition purple vinyl.

For preorders, go to the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION where you can also sample opening track, “Cosmic Soul.”

Cosmic Blues Track Listing:
1. Cosmic Soul
2. Helter Skelter
3. Chase Me
4. Walking Dead
5. Baby Eroina
6. Cosmic Blues For Solitary Moose
7. Inno

BLACK ELEPHANT is:
Alessio Caravelli – lead vocals, lead guitar
Massimiliano Giacosa – rhythm guitar
Marcello Destefanis – bass guitar
Simone Brunzu – drums

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

Black Elephant, “Cosmic Soul”

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Green Desert Water Premiere “The Deepest Sea” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

green desert water

If your ears don’t automatically perk up on hearing the phrases ‘classic-style heavy rockers’ and ‘on Small Stone Records‘ in the same sentence, well, to put it mildly they should. Thus we find Spanish classic-style heavy rockers Green Desert Water making their debut on Small Stone Records with their second album overall, Solar Plexus. Quick to make an impression and earn immediate points with the opener and longest track “Open Your Wings,” the band trio channels earliest AC/DC on the swinging heavy blues of “Souls of the Woodland,” and offers a fluid dose of fuzz in “Chaman,” demonstrating a propensity both for hooks and for adding modern flair to the core heavy ’70s influence. The shuffle that emerges near the midsection of “Chaman,” for example, or the tambourine-laced jam in the penultimate “Mother Moon.” These are well-established methods, but as Small Stone has endeavored in recent years to demonstrate, a balance can surely be struck between the classic and the modern. Green Desert Water do this exceptionally well.

Solar Plexus breaks neatly into two vinyl halves, with three cuts on either side: two longer and one shorter to finish. Side B concludes with the Green Desert Water Solar Plexustitle-track, only about a minute shorter than “Souls of the Woodland” or “Mother Moon” before it, but the difference is more striking on Side A, where “The Deepest Sea,” which is the shortest inclusion overall at 4:44, follows “Open Your Wings” and “Chaman,” both of which are more extended. “The Deepest Sea,” however, is an effective condensation of many of the record’s other impulses, with a strong hook, a perfect tempo, and an easy rhythmic swing that’s neither forced nor overstated. It engages quickly and asks little of the listener in terms of indulgences. These traits it shares in common with its surroundings, and while it may not be as long as “Open Your Wings” or “Mother Moon,” there’s no question the song accomplishes its task and represents the album well for its natural-sounding structure, modern production style and energetic delivery.

The three-piece is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Kike Sanchís, bassist Juan Arias García and drummer/backing vocalist Javi Gonzalez and Solar Plexus is out April 27, once again on Small Stone, which has preorders up now. Below, you can see the video premiere for “The Deepest Sea” and get some more background on the band from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Green Desert Water, “The Deepest Sea” official video premiere

After getting their feet wet in a molten pool of heavy blues on their 2012 self-titled debut EP, GREEN DESERT WATER is ready for their next conquest. The Oviedo, Spain-based three-piece have been making a name for themselves as one of the best-kept-secrets of the Iberian heavy underground, and with Solar Plexus – their second LP – they’ve never sounded readier to let the cat out of the proverbial bag. And by “cat out of the bag,” we mean unleashing classic power trio grooves – all primo, all soul, but heavier and thicker and more modern than the first record.

Solar Plexus was recorded and mixed by Pablo Martínez Pérez at Ovni Estudio, mastered by Kike Sanchís at Green Desert Mastering and comes wrapped in the cover art of Héctor Castañón. The six-track offering will see release on CD, digital, and limited edition vinyl formats on April 27th via Small Stone.

GREEN DESERT WATER:
Juan Arias García – fuzz bass
Javi González – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Kike Sanchís – guitars, vocals
Additional guitar on “The Deepest Sea” by Pablo Martínez Pérez.

Green Desert Water on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Green Desert Water to Issue Solar Plexus April 27 on Small Stone

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The eight-minute psychedelic swirly ‘Open Your Wings’ is the leadoff cut on Green Desert Water‘s second long-player and first for Small Stone Records, April’s gonna-be-here-before-you-know-it Solar Plexus. Not that I’ve heard it or anything — actually, I don’t think it matters in this case, since I also wrote the bio below, so yeah, I’ve heard it — but the record is an excellent blend of classic rock and psychedelic impulses, and like the best of what Small Stone over the label’s many years, its sound is modern nonetheless. Pretense is nowhere to be found, the basstone is gotta-hear-it, and there’s a resonant sense of soul that comes through from vocalist Kike Sanchís that recalls a heavy blues spirit without being directly attributable to one influence or another.

That’s my little take, anyhow. Again, I also wrote the bio below, but here it is circled back through the PR wire:

green desert water solar plexus

GREEN DESERT WATER: Iberian Stoner Rockers To Release Solar Plexus Via Small Stone; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

With the purple sun, the hermit was introduced into the wild, through the mountains and the long desert to back home….

After getting their feet wet in a molten pool of heavy blues on their 2012 self-titled debut EP, GREEN DESERT WATER is ready for their next conquest. The Oviedo, Spain-based three-piece have been making a name for themselves as one of the best-kept-secrets of the Iberian heavy underground, and with Solar Plexus – their second LP – they’ve never sounded readier to let the cat out of the proverbial bag. And by “cat out of the bag,” we mean unleashing classic power trio grooves – all primo, all soul, but heavier and thicker and more modern than the first record.

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Kike Sanchís, bassist Juan Arias García, and drummer/backing vocalist Javi González, GREEN DESERT WATER sinks its teeth into hellacious boogie on songs like “Open Your Wings” and find the place where Black Sabbath and Mountain could’ve met on “Souls Of The Woodland” – and when it comes to the title-track? Well, at least you know where they’re going to hit you. With six songs split up over two glorious vinyl sides, GREEN DESERT WATER’s Solar Plexus indeed puts itself right in the center of attention – refusing to commit to one single vibe or another as it captures the best energy of classic heavy rock and brings it forward to a modern era where it’s so desperately needed.

Solar Plexus was recorded and mixed by Pablo Martínez Pérez at Ovni Estudio, mastered by Kike Sanchís at Green Desert Mastering and comes wrapped in the cover art of Héctor Castañón. The six-track offering will see release on CD, digital, and limited edition vinyl formats on April 27th via Small Stone.

Solar Plexus Track Listing:
1. Open Your Wings
2. Chaman
3. The Deepest Sea
4. Souls Of The Woodland
5. Mother Moon
6. Solar Plexus

GREEN DESERT WATER:
Juan Arias García – fuzz bass
Javi González – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Kike Sanchís – guitars, vocals
Additional guitar on “The Deepest Sea” by Pablo Martínez Pérez.

https://www.facebook.com/greendesertrock
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/solar-plexus

Green Desert Water, Solar Plexus

(2018)

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Friday Full-Length: Greenleaf, Secret Alphabets

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

As we approach 15 years since its 2003 release, there’s something ironic about listening to Greenleaf‘s second full-length and Small Stone Records debut, Secret Alphabets, and it very much has to do with their relationship to Dozer. After the band, founded by Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa, Demon Cleaner drummer Daniel Lidén and producer Bengt Bäcke who had worked with both outfits on their early material and came aboard to play bass, released their oh-someday-it-will-be-mine self-titled EP in 2000 with Lowrider‘s Peder Bergstrand on vocals, the first of many lineup changes found them bringing in Dozer‘s Fredrik Nordin to front the band for their first LP, 2001’s Revolution Rock (discussed here), which of course he did handily. The second album, like any decent record, marked both the beginning and the end of an era. It was the start of Greenleaf‘s collaboration with Small Stone, which would see the band release not only Secret Alphabets, but the subsequent 2007 outing, Agents of Ahriman (vinyl reissue review here), 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here) and 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here) under the imprint’s banner before signing to Napalm for 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here), and it was also the last time Nordin would be in the lead-singer role full-time, though he’d show up for guest appearances as Bergstrand does for the moody “One More Year” here.

More than that, and even more than bringing in Demon Cleaner guitarist Daniel Jansson to play alongside HolappaSecret Alphabets represents an important step in Greenleaf‘s progression in defining its personality apart from DozerHolappa‘s songwriting has borne certain markers throughout his now-lengthy career in both bands (though it’s been more than a decade since the last time Dozer put out a record), among them a penchant for riffs and a tendency to make memorable tracks by updating classic-influenced methods with a modern production and energy. Secret Alphabets does this through and through, whether it’s “Black Black Magic” and “Never Right” bringing to mind KISS via the performance of guest singer Singe, the outright thrust of post-intro opener “10,000 Years of Revolution,” or the let’s-go-a-wanderin’ Monster Magnetic psychedelia of side A finale “The Combination.” The material has character and a welcome sense of push behind its delivery, a crisper production than one found on Revolution Rock (though Bäcke helmed both recordings) and a pervasive sense of craft that gives little idea just how much of a transition point it actually was for the band.

In 2003, Dozer put out Call it Conspiracy (discussed here), and in so doing, brazenly moved beyond the post-Kyuss desert rock impulses of their first two long-players and early singles. That this happened roughly concurrent to Greenleaf issuing Secret Alphabets represents something of a crossing point between the two bands, who would both head ultimately in different directions. Dozer became more aggressive with 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens and 2008’s to-date swansong (one can always hope) Beyond Colossal (discussed here), and ultimately fell by the wayside as Greenleaf was joined by Truckfighters‘ Oskar Cedermalm for Agents of Ahriman and Nest of Vipers, becoming more or less a full-time touring band after the latter, as current frontman Arvid Johnsson grabbed hold of the singer role and worked quickly to make it his own despite the considerable shoes to be filled. One might then think of Secret Alphabets and Call it Conspiracy as the intersection point between the two bands on their respective paths. One doubts that Holappa, who’s the key figure in all of this riffy intertwining, thought of it on that level at the time, but a decade and a half later, it’s perhaps a bit easier to have that perspective on what was going on creatively with Holappa as a songwriter and the direction of both his groups. In fact, if anyone out there can honestly say as regards where Dozer and Greenleaf each wound up, “Yeah I called that shit in 2003,” including any of the band members, I’ll gladly tip my hat in their direction.

So there’s no question that Secret Alphabets was a pivotal moment for Greenleaf as a band, but that leaves out one essential detail of the record itself: it frickin’ rocks. From the funk in “Witchcraft Tonight,” to the raw Fu Manchu fuzz of the instrumental “The Spectre,” to the sleek groove in “Masterplan” and the two-parter finale in “No Time Like Right Now!,” it’s a brook-no-argument roller that does “classic” right. I know for a fact that many Greenleaf fans argue in its favor as the band’s best album to-date, and while I’m not sure anything can take the special place Agents of Ahriman holds in my heart, the stomp of “Never Right,” the spaciousness in “One More Year” and the underline-the-point vibing of “Masterplan” make a more than solid case.

Wherever you land in that debate, as always, I hope you enjoy.

I was in New Jersey all week. We were supposed to go down last Sunday but we left a day early because the power had gone out owing to I don’t know wind of more than 20mph and lack of infrastructure spending? Blah blah blah, more government subsidy, less corporate dominance. Lot of family time. I had been anxious about it but it worked out really well and I was glad we went. They had cleared out the house formerly occupied by my grandmother and done it up nice to give us a place to stay, bought a pack-and-play for the baby and a bed for the dog — really went all out. It was appreciated and a nice reminder of what life can be like when you have any kind of support system whatsoever. You know, feeling supported and all that.

So of course about two feet of snow fell on Wednesday and the power — because infrastructure! — went out down there as well. We stayed Wednesday night because trees were coming down almost as hard as the snow itself, and took off back to Massachusetts yesterday morning. In August it will be five years that we’ve lived up here. All this trip south really did for me was emphasize how at home I continue not to feel here. Don’t get me wrong, I know good people here and I’ve had some good times in the last half-decade, but it ain’t home. Everything’s an hour away from where I live except The Patient Mrs.’ job, and when I think about what’s keeping us here, that’s pretty much it. She likes her job. I’m glad. And I’m glad I don’t have a job and can take care of the house and the baby and write and all that, but when I think about vacuuming this kitchen floor vs. the several righteous shag rugs down in Parsippany, well, it ain’t even really a contest. There’s a reason I keep calling it “my beloved Garden State,” and it’s not just because they put in a Wegman’s close by.

Though that’s nice too.

That it was The Patient Mrs.’ spring break made the trip south feasible — The Pecan did pretty well in the car, if you were wondering — and we had to be back for this morning because I have yet another appointment with yet another doctor. This one is in Brookline which is — you guessed it — a fucking hour’s trip each way from where I live. It’s cool though, I’m sure it won’t just be a they-take-blood-and-totally-waste-my-time kind of deal or anything. This is the doctor I’m going to because my nutritionist thinks my PCP doesn’t take my eating disorder seriously enough. He doesn’t, but who cares? So it’s “drive two hours to go to this doctor who’s going to take your blood then make you come back again to hear all the same shit I’ve been telling you for the last two months.” Won’t that be fun? Like I said, no way it’s a total waste of my fucking time or anything. Pas de chance.

Oh and though they gave me pills to mitigate, I’m still bloated as fuckall, though I’ll say that after upping my antidepressant dose on my own this week because I decided I was too lazy to cut pills — seriously? cutting pills? what is this, fucking 1930? — my general mood has improved, though this too could just as easily be a reaction to seeing my four-month-old son held in the arms of his laughing, Zelda-obsessed, about-to-be-awkward-as-hell cousin, which is, frankly, among the rawer examples of joy that I’ve experienced.

So yes, I’d like to move back to New Jersey. I also need a haircut. And to lose 50 pounds that kind of showed up out of nowhere. Ha.

Plan for next week, subject to change:

Mon.: Sammal album stream; Dollar Llama video.
Tue.: Et Moriemur track stream.
Wed. Merlin review; Black Salvation video premiere.
Thu.: Choral Hearse video premiere, maybe an Earthless review. That’d be fun.
Fri.: Desertfest Split 12″ stream and review.

Might head to Connecticut with The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan tomorrow, might take advantage of a day on my own to write like a bastard and get a jump on next week. We’ll see. In any case, whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s a good time. Stay safe, be well, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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