Wrapping up 2014: The Year in Darryl Shepard

Posted in Features on December 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

darryl shepard

I knew already when I moved to the Boston area that Darryl Shepard was an exceedingly good guy. We’d been in touch for years at that point and I’d helped press up the CD run of Blackwolfgoat‘s second album, Dronolith, plus been a fan of his work in that one-man outfit as well as past bands like MilligramRoadsaw, and so on. What I didn’t know was how universally respected he is. It’s not a celebrity thing, and part of that I’ll attribute to his own down-to-earth sensibility, but whether it’s people showing up to watch him play, peers in other bands, musicians he plays with or just people he knows from having been around the city’s rock underground for as long as he has, there’s a deep-running appreciation for who he is and what he does. The only person I’ve ever heard talk shit about Darryl, is Darryl, and even he’s doing it for laughs.

He’s had a busy 2014, between releasing albums with The Scimitar and Blackwolfgoat, recording Kind‘s first demo, playing shows and so on, and it seems only fitting to wrap up “The Year in Darryl” (not literally in him, in a Martin Short/Inner Space kind of way, but at very least in his work) by giving a rundown of the things he’s done over the last 12 months. Here goes:

Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance

blackwolfgoat drone maintenance

After Dronolith, I knew I probably wouldn’t get to review Drone Maintenance, Shepard‘s third outing under the Blackwolfgoat moniker (released by Small Stone) since I was still pretty close to it, only one record removed from direct-ish involvement in its making, but don’t think for one second that’s a statement about the quality of Drone Maintenance itself. To be honest, the third record blows the second one out of the water. In cuts like “Sunfall,” “White Hole” and the relatively brief “Night Heat,” his tendency toward songwriting comes out, and structures begin to show themselves amid tracks that are varied in mood and feel while still largely instrumental — he vocalizes bleak, feedback-laden closer “Cyclopean Utopia” in a vaguely black metal kind of way — and tied together by three spoken interludes that foster Drone Maintenance‘s underlying concept: The drone is broken, and Shepard is the repair man sent to fix it, as portrayed in Alexander von Wieding‘s cover art. Though the plotline works out otherwise, Shepard fixes the drone in wonderfully progressive fashion, an experimental feel pervading the material that — miraculously, given the context — avoid pretense even at its most ambient moments. I was lucky to be invited to the studio while it was being recorded, and could tell then that Darryl had something special on his hands and that the first two Blackwolfgoat releases were just scratching the surface of what he was looking to accomplish with the project. To hear the finished product after the release party at O’Brien’s in Allston was to see that realization affirmed. Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.

The Scimitar, Doomsayer

the scimitar doomsayer

Though it was released on gorgeous clear/bone vinyl by Hydro-Phonic Records (also digipak CDR and a name-your-price download from the band’s Bandcamp), it seemed for a minute there that The Scimitar was over before Doomsayer could get started, having been effectively derailed when bassist Dave Gein moved to the West Coast, his last show with the band coming at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 (review here) in early May. This supposition was, in a word, mistaken. True to their slaughterhouse doom sound, the trio of ShepardGein and drummer Brian Banfield wouldn’t be so easily ended. Doomsayer‘s seven tracks earned their centerpiece Motörhead cover, both continuing the warrior mentality Shepard fostered when he stepped into the guitarist/vocalist role alongside Gein in Black Pyramid for 2013’s Adversarial (review here) and branching out to distinct triumphs on songs like “Void Traveler” and “World Unreal,” finding a balance between the catchy and the brutal that, even on their first outing, The Scimitar made their own. Gein being on the opposite side of the country may have made weekly practice unlikely, but The Scimitar played both Northeastern shows to support the release with a stand-in bassist and, earlier this month, traveled out west for a weekender in California with the album’s lineup. It would seem they’re hardly done, and all the better for the chance to get more of both the raw explosiveness of “Babylon” and the exploratory heavy of Doomsayer instrumental closer “Crucifer” as The Scimitar continues to come into their sound. The Scimitar on Thee Facebooks, Hydro-Phonic Records.

Kind

kind (Photo by Doug Sherman)

I’ve been fortunate this year to see Kind play twice (reviews here and here), and both times have been markedly different. The roots of the project go back (I’m pretty sure) to late last year, when Shepard and Elder drummer Matt Couto began to jam with an intent toward not much more than that. Bassist Tom Corino of Rozamov was brought in to handle low end and vocalist Craig Riggs of Roadsaw rounded out the four-piece, whose style still finds its basis in those wide-spaced jams. They’ve recorded a demo, with Benny Grotto at Mad Oak, from which the 10-minute “Hordeolum” has surfaced, showcasing both their heavy psych and more forward-driving tendencies, the balance they find and seem to gleefully upset between the two. I hear a full-length is in the works for a summer release via a respected American outlet who, since it hasn’t been announced yet, shall remain nameless, but until that happens, Kind will continue to hone their live sound regionally, opening for Karma to Burn next month at Geno’s in Portland, Maine. Not sure if it will ever be anyone’s main project — ElderRoadsawRozamov and Shepard‘s bevvy of other bands make for some significant commitments — but Kind have quickly found a stylistic niche for themselves and I’m interested to find out what they do with it on their debut. Kind on Thee Facebooks.

Solid-Color Demos

roadsaw 98 demos

There are many for whom three active bands would be enough projects, but in the middle part of 2014, Darryl also found time to release a slew of accumulated recordings from over the years, all as name-your-price downloads via Bandcamp. Each recording — most were demos, but a Milligram radio appearance (review here) was also included — was given a different solid color as a cover, and a total of six have made their way out to date, including a completely solo acoustic album (with vocals) recorded by Andrew Schneider in 1998, the aforementioned Milligram performance, some Roadsaw demos also from ’98 (first streamed here), the final three songs tracked by instrumental outfit Hackman, early ’90s demos from Deslok and various collected four-track demo/experiments from the early ’00s on which some of the roots of Blackwolfgoat can be heard. These weren’t put out for any kind of profile, just made available for anyone who might want to explore them, but in both the stylistic variety and the performance value Shepard brings to each project, there’s much to dig into. Perhaps most impressive of all is that, though they cover a considerable swath of ground, they’re still just a fraction of Shepard‘s total output. Hopefully he has more tapes/hard drives in a closet somewhere and the series can continue, or maybe even get added to with newer material over time. Just a thought. Darryl Shepard on Bandcamp.

Looking Ahead

darryl shepard by alexander von wieding

Well, despite Gein living in California and drummer Clay Neely living in Georgia while Shepard continues to reside in Massachusetts, Black Pyramid will once again spring to life in 2015. They’re already confirmed for Desertfest in London and Berlin alongside Lo-Pan, and from what I hear, they’ll have a new 7″ on Hydro-Phonic to mark the occasion. There’s a mysterious Soundcloud demo called “Donor Kebab” by an outfit named Iron Malden, and who knows what that portends. As noted, Kind will also continue to play shows ahead of their full-length debut release, tentatively set for the summer, and one imagines Darryl will continue to keep busy otherwise gigging and recording as he always seems to do, his work ethic as admirable as the results it produces.

Keep up at the following:

Darryl Shepard on Thee Facebooks

Darryl Shepard on Soundcloud

Darryl Shepard on Bandcamp

Black Pyramid on Thee Facebooks

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Freedom Hawk Added to Freak Valley 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

freedom hawk

Now a trio after parting ways this year with guitarist Matt Cave – his brother, Mark, still handles bass — Virginia Beach heavy rockers Freedom Hawk have been announced as the latest addition to the 2015 Freak Valley festival in Germany. Their appearance at Freak Valley 2015 follows a quick run through parts of Europe this past spring that included a stop at the Roadburn festival in the Netherlands. Freedom Hawk also recently were in the studio recording for the follow-up to their 2011 Small Stone label debut, Holding On (review here). No word on a release date yet or whether the Freak Valley gig will be part of another round of European tour dates, but there’s time yet for such things to align and be revealed. In any case, if you’re keeping a running list of stuff to look forward to in 2015, Freedom Hawk isn’t a name to be left out.

Freak Valley put it thusly:

freedom hawk freak valley 2015

We are stoked to announce that Virginia Riff-Wranglers FREEDOM HAWK will play Freak Valley Festival 2015 !!

Hailing from the barrier dunes of Virginia, this quartet blends heavy riffs, a rolling groove, and soulful guitar melodies to produce the sound that is Freedom Hawk. Their brand of heavy rock coupled with a high energy live show, leaves many wondering if they’ve stepped through a time warp that has taken them to rock’s heyday of the 70’s by the power of their dark music fueled by the sun.

FREEDOM HAWK’s sound is large, like trying to force an elephant to fit in a closet. It’s also melodic for such heavy-handed playing. Walls of guitar riffs were pushed out heavy, soaring and moving like swells and waves at the same time.

Mindblowing cover art by Antoine Defarges // Headbang Design

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL – 4th-5th-6th June 2015

FVF tickets are selling like Blues Pills vinyls already – get yours in time – the first 3 editions have been sold out early!!
We are selling tix to all parts of this planet!!

Tickets: www.freakvalley.de | Only 66€ for 3 days incl. Camping!!

Hardtickets now @ our onlineshop: http://shop.rockfreaks.de/

Also: http://kozmik-artifactz.com/ | Kozmik Artifactz

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL: No Fillers – Just Killers

Goatsnake – Earthless – Crippled Black Phoenix – The Vintage Caravan – Electric Moon – Gas Giant – Monkey3 – Danava – Egypt – Siena Root – Bröselmaschine – Sigiryia – Kamchatka – Purson – Dead Man – Freedom Hawk – Mountain Witch – Tuber – Valley of the Sun – Tombstones – more tba soon!!

https://www.facebook.com/freedomhawkmusic
http://freedomhawk.net/
https://freedomhawk.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley

Freedom Hawk, Holding On (2011)

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Saturday Full-Length: Sasquatch, II

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sasquatch, II (2006)

At the time, I was still so hung up on Los Angeles trio Sasquatch‘s 2004 self-titled debut that I don’t think I properly appreciated the classic-rock-is-ours-now feel and heaviness of “Let it In,” “The Judge,” the vinyl-style symmetry of “Nikki” and “Catalina” and the rawness of character on display. Where the first album is kind of an outlier now in terms of sound for them, made formative by hindsight where at the time it seemed nothing if not accomplished — their songwriting was always top notch — II became more of the model with which they’d work, their ’70s-meets-’90s vibe running a riffy current through the tracks. Both 2010’s III (review here) and 2013’s IV (review here) built off what they did here, and their craft has never wavered.

They played one of Small Stone‘s by-then-legendary SXSW showcases as well during this era, and it was the first time I got to see the band, which only solidified my fandom. They haven’t been out east much — though they hit the Uninvited festival this year in Brooklyn; from what I hear it was a “Pleasure to Burn” — but I’ve been fortunate enough to see them once or twice more over the years and they’ve always delivered. II is a work of straightforward, perpetually-underrated heavy rock, and it’s easy to look at a band like Sasquatch and think about “oh, if X and Y and Z, these guys would be huge,” and I wouldn’t begrudge them making a ton of money or anything, but these guys make for an excellent underground secret too, like a litmus for those who know.

Small Stone put this one out on vinyl not too long ago, but I’m pretty sure they’re gone by now. Not bad for a record eight years later to continue to inspire such devotion, and I’ve no doubt that II will continue to do so no matter how high Sasquatch‘s numbers end up going. Please enjoy.

So, why a day late? I left home yesterday at 12:30PM to go to Brooklyn and see the first of YOB‘s two nights at the St. Vitus bar. I got to the venue around 6PM. That’s usually a four-hour trip. I was utterly fried after the show — turns out that not eating or drinking anything all day was the wrong choice; I was dizzy and nauseous in the packed room and stayed up front through “Marrow” but had to move back after that and get some water — and then afterwards, there was a solid hour of traffic getting to the Lincoln Tunnel. Got in to Jersey at about two in the morning. It was far less thrilling than the show itself, which was fantastic. I’ll be going back for round two tonight.

More year-end stuff next week. Look out for a list of the year’s best debuts at some point, and maybe one of the best live gigs and some other stuff. I’ll also be reviewing these two nights at the Vitus bar, and anything else I might have time for. I feel like I say this all the time, but if you’re waiting on a review of something, I’m sorry. I’m one person. Most other sites have a staff of writers working on stuff, or at least a few people. I have me. If something takes me longer, or if I don’t get to it, I wholeheartedly and sincerely apologize. I’m doing the best I can to do as much as I can. If I had eight of me, it would be easier. As it is, I can barely answer email.

But anyway, I hope you dig the Sasquatch and I hope you have a great and safe weekend, wherever you’re at. Thanks for checking in, and please don’t forget to hit up the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Lo-Pan Welcome New Guitarist Adrian Zambrano

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Following announcements that they’ll take part in next year’s Roadburn festival and the Desertfests in London and Berlin, Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan have made it official that Adrian Zambrano will take over the guitarist position previously occupied by Brian Fristoe. The word came quick and to the point from the band, who’ve spent much of the last five years touring hard on a steadily ascending line in terms of audience and their own approach, steadily becoming a wider known, tighter and more accomplished group. They haven’t done anything the easy way.

Zambrano comes to Lo-Pan via space rocking Columbus natives Brujas del Sol, whose airy tones and synth-heavy sound were last brought to bear on 2013’s Moonliner, on which Zambrano also handled vocal duties. No word yet on whether he’ll back up Lo-Pan‘s Jeff Martin singing, but there can be little question that the dynamic in Lo-Pan will shift with a new player introduced into what was one of the country’s highest-grade fuzz units. Regardless of how Zambrano fits in the band, it’s going to be a change. Lo-Pan‘s advantage at this point is that, if you’re a musician who wants to tour and go to Europe and play shows that people come to see, they’re in the process of making all those things happen.

And by the time next Spring rolls around and Lo-Pan head abroad for the first time, Zambrano will be that much more acclimated to being on stage with Martin, drummer Jesse Bartz and bassist Scott Thompson. Really, if they were going to bring someone in, this was the time to do it. Good luck to the band, to Zambrano, and to Fristoe as well.

Here’s the announcement and the Small Stone stream of their latest album, Colossus (review here), in case you haven’t yet had your ass kicked this morning:

lo-pan

Lo-Pan has parted ways with guitarist Brian Fristoe. We wish Brian all the best in his future endeavors. Taking over guitar duties is Adrian Zambrano of Columbus, Ohio. Adrian is a gifted, dynamic musician with an exciting style. Join us in welcoming Adrian to the party.

https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
https://twitter.com/LoPandemic614
https://www.facebook.com/BrujasdelSol
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/colossus

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

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Lo-Pan Join Lineup for Desertfest Berlin 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hot off the release of their fourth album, Colossus (review here), Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan have been announced as taking part in Desertfest Berlin 2015. The announcement follows a recent schism/split with guitarist Brian Fristoe, and since Lo-Pan are also slated to play Roadburn and have shows booked before then and will be touring Europe as well, one can’t help but wonder who’ll be handling guitar for them going forward. No word has come out yet in that regard, but I’ll let you know when I hear what’s up.

In the meantime, good for the band — who killed when they came through recently with Black Cobra – for getting over to Europe. Feels a little overdue for how hard they’ve slogged it out in the States, but better late than never, and I’m sure they’ll find open arms waiting for them at DesertfestRoadburn and wherever else they might wind up.

lo-pan desertfest berlin

Two-in-one news: first, we are pleased to tell you that fuzz rockers Lo-Pan join the SOL family and will be touring in April! Then, we are proud to add them to our DesertFest Berlin line-up! Stay tuned for more news!

We stoked to announce that fuzz rockers Lo-Pan are now confirmed to kick a good deal of ass at Desertfest Berlin 2015!

With “Colossus”, LO-PAN’s last album – released about a month ago on Small Stone Records – the Columbus’ four-piece have moved beyond their influences and arrived at their own sound – a “style built on aggression without caricature, fuzz without cliché, melody without redundancy and their meanest groove to date.” (The Obelisk)

Do not miss them! DESERTFEST TICKETS available on :
http://woolheads.com/cms/produkt-kategorie/festivalmerchandise/desertfestberlin/tickets-desertfestberlin/
(83€ + shipping)

DESERTFEST BERLIN #4 – APRIL 23th, 24th, 25th 2015
ASTRA KULTURHAUS / F-HAIN/X-BERG BERLIN (GER)

Red Fang + Orange Goblin + My Sleeping Karma + Brutus + Dopethrone + Lo-pan + Mountain Witch + many many more acts

www.desertfest.de
www.soundofliberation.com
https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/colossus

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

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Lo-Pan, Colossus: A Sharpened Edge

Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

lo-pan colossus

I’ll make no attempt to hide my appreciation for Ohio’s Lo-Pan, who over the last six years or so have emerged to take a place among the hardest-working American heavy rock bands out there, slogging back and forth across the country to deliver their fuzz one town, one venue at a time, but the fact of the matter is that if they didn’t have the songwriting to match their work ethic, they wouldn’t have come as far as they have. Plenty of bands tour, and even more bands kick ass. Lo-Pan distinguish themselves not only by what they do, but how they’ve done it and what they’ve gained from it. Since their 2007 sophomore outing, Sasquanaut, which was reissued as their first release on Small Stone in 2010 (review here), the four-piece of guitarist Brian Fristoe, vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz have essentially been grinding themselves down to their essential parts. If one examines the progression from their 2006 self-titled debut through Sasquanaut, the subsequent 2011 full-length Salvador (review here) and their latest, the newly arrived Colossus, the path cut across these records is pretty clear, Lo-Pan moving from a relatively upbeat stoner rock sound to something much more focused, leaner, meaner sounding. Colossus, which at 10 tracks/43 minutes shaves a song and three minutes off Salvador‘s runtime, is their most pointed work yet. Their road time has made them tighter than they’ve ever sounded, and an Andrew Schneider production helps play up a more aggressive feel overall. They are not laying back on Fristoe‘s riffs so much as propelling them forward at the listener, and while pace varies throughout, the overarching whole of Colossus – named in honor of the Colossus of Rhodes, marking a triumph, perhaps simply of the band having come out of the last several years intact — has a breakneck feel and urgency that comes through even more than it did on Salvador, which when this decade is over I’ve no doubt will go down among its best heavy rock albums.

There’s continuity of structure between the two, and Lo-Pan‘s penchant for hooks remains strong, but opener “Regulus” signals the immediacy of Colossus quickly, shifting from the first verse into the chorus all within the first 30 seconds. Like Salvador‘s “El Dorado,” “Regulus” begins an opening salvo of four songs that boasts some of the album’s strongest material, its five minutes gone in breeze and rushing into the tighter, faster “Land of the Blind,” which is marked by a standout performance from Martin in its hook. Lo-Pan‘s singer has never skimped on soul or attitude either on record or from behind the drum kit on stage, but Colossus easily stands as his best recorded output in the band, and the graceful but forceful layering in “Land of the Blind” is among his most effective called-shots here; I’d also add the later call-and-response of “Relo,” “Marathon Man” and the commanding sway of “Eastern Seas” to that list, but it’s true elsewhere as well. Likewise, Bartz, Thompson and Fristoe have stepped up their game, drums picking up the start of “Black Top Revelation” from the end of “Land of the Blind,” a winding riff taking hold as Colossus‘ momentum continues to build. To call the album front-loaded would presume a dip in quality, but no question Lo-Pan bring Colossus up to full speed before throttling back as they did on Salvador‘s “Bird of Prey” with the six-and-a-half-minute “Marathon Man,” which fittingly enough begins with a vehicle — presumably their tour van, but I don’t know that — revving its worn-sounding engine before Fristoe‘s shuffling riff takes hold and the band remind that though the focus has been on push up to now, they still know how to boogie. After four minutes in and satisfying verse/chorus tradeoffs, there’s a turn to a bridge instrumentally that Martin ties to the original chorus well, his layering once again providing a highlight moment with this revamped hook and a play off the initial verse part. Before you can catch up to what just happened with “Marathon Man,” though, Bartz launches “N.P.D.” with another forward surge that slams Colossus‘ first half to a raucous but still controlled finish.

lo-pan (Photo by Meghan Ralston)

If there were any doubts about Lo-Pan‘s confidence or the cohesiveness of their approach, let the knock-you-on-your-ass crispness within the delivery of “N.P.D.” be testimony in their favor. But for the fact that it closes side A, it feels like an afterthought movement following “Marathon Man,” and on most albums it would be an apex. The title-track begins the second half and is a song that Lo-Pan have played live for the last couple years — “Eastern Seas” still to come is another — sounding more reminiscent of the last time out than most of Colossus, though both Thompson‘s place in the mix and the fluidity of Martin‘s integration with the music behind him mark its progress. That’s not to mention Schneider‘s treatment of Bartz‘s snare; as a producer/engineer, the Brooklyn-based Schneider has consistently delivered excellence in drum sounds and Colossus is no exception. Side B feels thicker between “Colossus,” “Vox” and “Eastern Seas,” less of a thrust, but the hooks are still there, and “Vox” delivers in that regard both vocally and in its riff and crash, Martin‘s voice echoing in an open space and Black Black Black‘s Jason Alexander Byers (who also contributed the cover art) coming in for a guest spot later in the track. There’s a ringing sound I can’t quite make out that coincides with the drum roll at the start of “Eastern Seas,” but the song’s prevailing impression is in its more languid rhythm — its first part is the slowest in tempo but still mid-paced by most standards — and bigger groove, Martin still in whatever cave he recorded “Vox.” “Eastern Seas” splits almost evenly in half, everyone else dropping out as Fristoe‘s guitar establishes the riff and then kicking back in soon with a faster pace, vocals layered, Thompson getting a turn to stand alone as they push into a secondary hook and through to repetition of the line “Straight on till morning.” It feels like the end of the album, but isn’t. As “N.P.D.” jumped into action after “Marathon Man,” so does “Relo” punch into gear after “Eastern Seas,” though “Relo” is the more memorable of the two — “N.P.D.” and “Relo” share a 2:28 runtime, if you’d like another reason for the comparison — marked out by Fristoe‘s lead-as-rhythm in the verse and the aforementioned call and response near the end, the uptick in pace effective after “Eastern Seas”‘ slowdown in reinforcing the dynamic within Lo-Pan‘s sound at this point in their tenure.

Another likewise vague sample is inserted at the beginning of closer “The Duke,” which caps Colossus like a victory lap, underscoring much of what has made the album work — the meaner push, Martin‘s accomplished layering, the across-the-board energetic delivery, their attacking the beat — but is distinguished from the rest of the collection by the solo Fristoe takes beginning at 2:37, which comes to the head of the mix almost to the point of abrasiveness and wails over a steady rhythm from Bartz and Thompson, who return about a minute later with Martin to round out with a last hook and crashing end. That solo in particular seems to have been residing in Lo-Pan‘s pocket the whole time; in the context of Colossus as a whole, they seem to have saved it for last. And fair enough — it’s as raging a finish as Colossus in its entirety calls for. Perhaps because so much of the album moves, and moves fast, and shoves the listener along its course, and perhaps because four records deep, Lo-Pan show few signs of stagnating creatively, Colossus feels less like a destination than another point along the way. It’s their tightest, tensest outing, but in scrutinizing it on those terms, one can hear the potential for them to move further on the line of their progression, to continue to dig toward the heart of what it is they’re trying to convey. Still, it’s an album that changes who they are as a band and stands as their most refined, precise collection to date. It captures them at a different moment than did Salvador — one can see that even in the sharpened edges of the logo that appears on the album cover — but showcases a forward step in a pursuit that seems thus far unrelenting. I’ve said before that I consider them one of the finest currently active heavy rock acts in the US, and Colossus only strengthens that opinion.

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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audiObelisk Transmission 040

Posted in Podcasts on September 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

This one’s beamed in from a universe of all good times. I don’t want to walk around tooting my own horn like I actually did anything, but you’ll pardon me if I say that once you get on board here, you might not want to jump back off. The flow is up and down, alternately drawn out and rushing, and right up to the last song which is a bit of a return to earth, the second hour is the most spaced out it’s ever been around these parts. I’m way into it. I hope you’re way into it.

Like last time, I tried to get a mix of excellent stuff upcoming with other recent items you might’ve missed. One of these days I’m gonna do another one of these where I talk, but this is straight-up track into track the whole way through and I think it moves really well that way. Please feel free to grab a download or hit the stream and dig in and enjoy.

First Hour:
The Melvins, “Sesame Street Meat” from Hold it In (2014)
Fever Dog, “One Thousand Centuries” from Second Wind (2014)
Lo-Pan, “Eastern Seas” from Colossus (2014)
Witchrider, “Black” from Unmountable Stairs (2014)
Alunah, “Awakening the Forest” from Awakening the Forest (2014)
Craang, “Magnolia” from To the Estimated Size of the Universe (2014)
Slow Season, “Shake” from Mountains (2014)
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, “Guillotine” from The Shining One (2014)
The Proselyte, “Irish Goodbye” from Our Vessel’s in Need (2014)
Flood, “Lake Nyos” from Oak (2014)
Lord, “Golgotha” from Alive in Golgotha (2014)

Second Hour:
My Brother the Wind, “Garden of Delights” from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (2014)
Spidergawd, “Empty Rooms” from Spidergawd (2014)
The Myrrors, “Whirling Mountain Blues” from Solar Collector (2014)
Witch Mountain, “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)” from Mobile of Angels (2014)

Total running time: 1:54:28

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 040

 

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Isaak Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

isaak (Photo by Jessica Matri)

Italian heavy rock four-piece Isaak are getting ready to tour in Europe once again. They released their Small Stone label debut, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound, last year, and are currently working on a follow-up, though what stage it’s actually in remains a mystery. Still, if you, say, had a post-it note with impending 2015 releases on it so you could remember them for later when you wanted to put together some kind of larger list/feature on the subject, Isaak‘s next record would be another one to add.

Not that such a post-it note exists or is already becoming overcrowded or anything. I can neither confirm nor deny, and so on.

Here’s the news:

isaak logo

*ISAAK* on tour ( Small Stone Records / HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS)

Isaak , born from the ashes of Gandhi’s Gunn, immediately signed a worldwide contract for two albums with the American label Small Stone Records: the critically acclaimed debut “The Longer The Beard The Harder The Sound” released in 2013 and a second one that is going to be recorded very soon. “Having the chance to release two albums for an American label and reaching metal fans all over the world it’s a great honor but also a confirmation: we always thought we had an international sound since the beginning. And you will hear it even more in the new album.”

We also managed to tour in Europe for the first time this year. Thanks to this growth and to our love for bands like Clutch, Big Business, Torche, Red Fang the sound of our next album will be something really special. With the first single “The Frown” from the imminent new album, we tested the reaction of our fans receiving amazing responses. So we realized this was the right direction to follow”.

Isaak, who developed from a stoner rock into a promising international power sound band, are ready for the challenge, determined and strong just like their music. Are you ready?

04/12/2014 IT Rome-Init “HPS Rec Label Party”
06/12/2014 IT Milano-LoFi
07/12/2014 CH
08/12/2014 D
09/12/2014 D Augsburg-Blue Box Skate Park
10/12/2014 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk
11/12/2014 CH
12/12/2014 CH Mühledorf Niedergösgen-No Mute Bandraum
27/12/2014 IT Savona- Officine Solimano Christmas Show

www.heavypsychsounds.com
www.facebook.com/isaakband
https://www.facebook.com/events/577755778996510/
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/the-longer-the-beard-the-harder-the-sound

Isaak, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound (2013)

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Thank You to Everyone Who Took Part in the Small Stone Fundraiser

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

small stone records office

Look, I could tell you how much I appreciate everyone giving up a little bit of their hard-earned to help out Small Stone in the label’s time of need, but the fact is it’s not about me. It’s about Scott Hamilton, who runs the label, being able to continue putting out some of the finest heavy rock and roll the world has to offer, him worrying more about getting the Lo-Pan pressing back from the plant in time for the October release rather than if his basement is going to have mold in it leftover from the flood. Priorities. Getting things to where they need to be.

All told, the Small Stone fundraiser brought in over eight thousand dollars, and that wouldn’t have been possible without your help, so thank you. If you donated, that’s amazing. Some gave $100 at a clip, some gave $5, but what really matters is that when it came to it and someone who has been a major contributor to this weird, pan-global community required assistance, people stepped up and pulled together and showed they were willing to support somebody who needed it when they needed it. I know there have been crossover bands and every now and then some mainstream entity deigns to not completely ignore this genre, but heavy rock and roll is still a very underground phenomenon, and if we don’t help each other, it’s not like there are a million people lined up outside to pick up the slack.

So thank you for being a part of this. Even if you didn’t get to donate and you just spread the link around, that’s huge. I know Scott‘s repairs are ongoing after the flood, but the water’s gone and he’s got a desk and a shelf for label product and his amps and gear set up down there, and that’s definitely a start. As somebody who’s spent years nerding out on Small Stone‘s output, I’m just happy to know I’ll be able to keep doing that.

Now bring on the Snail record!

Small Stone Records

Small Stone on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone on Bandcamp

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Live Review: Blackwolfgoat Album Release with Bedroom Rehab Corporation, Sea and Shutup!! in Allston, 09.12.14

Posted in Reviews on September 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

blackwolfgoat

It was just over a month ago I last saw Blackwolfgoat, in Portland, Maine, opening for We’re all Gonna Die‘s final reunion gig, so I’d say the stuff was pretty fresh in my brain, even aside from listening to the new album, Drone Maintenance, for an I’ll-get-there-I-swear-I-will review, but this was the release show for that record and sometimes you feel like maybe you need to show up. Another chance to scope out Connecticut duo Bedroom Rehab Corporation was added appeal, and it was the live debut from Sea, which boasts bassist/vocalist Stephen LoVerme of Olde Growth and guitarist Liz Walshak, formerly of Rozamov, so put that together with noise-riff duo Shutup!! opening, and yeah, it’s a night. A Friday, in Allston, in September. College kids, hip youngsters, and me, rolling down Harvard Ave. like a forest troll looking for parking. Around and around and around Allston’s designed-for-the-crowded-populace-of-1700 blocks I went, ducking drunk undergrads and Bruins fans. There were other shows around town. I knew where I wanted to be.

O’Brien’s was much as I left it whenever the last time I was there was. Low, red lights, equipment along the wall. They played Floor between bands, which was a nice touch, and people shuffled in and out over the course of the evening in various degrees of stupor. It wasn’t a rock show entirely, but there was a bit of that going on. Here’s how it all went down:

Shutup!!

Shut Up (Photo by JJ Koczan)

One of the issues with going to see drone live is that the crowd, especially after a couple minutes in, invariably starts to chatter, and you hear it over the performance, still very much in progress. The guitar/bass two-piece Shutup!! avoided this issue neatly by being so fucking loud you could barely hear yourself think, let alone transmit those thoughts verbally to another human being. Clever. Bassist Aarne Victorine is set to debut with another band, UXO (featuring Steve Austin of Today is the Day and Chris Spencer of Unsane), next year, but paired with guitarist Jon Christopher in Shutup!! the modus was forceful low-end rumble all the way. They were on as I was walking into O’Brien’s and clearly audible from outside, tossing in a few lumbering riffs to go with the massive wash of amp noise, feedback and effects that seemed to bite right past one’s earplugs — the cheap foam kind, but still. It was a short set, less than 20 minutes, but I doubt anyone there would argue they didn’t get their point across. Exploratory but vicious, heavy drone not for the faint of heart or the weak of tolerance.

Sea

sea (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It is a cruelty to judge a new band or anything they do by their first show, so I won’t, but don’t take that to mean newcomer four-piece Sea didn’t come across well or like they knew what they were going for. With a blend of flowing doom and some post-metal churning inflection, as well as a strobing desk lanp on top of guitarist Mike Blasi‘s amplifier timed to be’chopped drummer Andrew Muro‘s kit, Sea seemed to be on their way toward solid construction and an aesthetic in the making. LoVerme varied his vocals between post-Mastodon shouts and more subdued melodies, and Walshak and Blasi added ambient sprawl to quieter sections to contrast and complement the heavier push. Their songs, as I understand, are as yet untitled, but one could hear an oceanic theme at work, and while the project is nascent, there seemed to be potential at work as well. They were the fullest band of the night with twice as many members as anyone else, but received a warm welcome that, especially for a debut gig, didn’t seem like it could’ve left them disappointed. Will be interesting to see where they go as they continue to hammer out their sound (and light show).

Bedroom Rehab Corporation

Speaking of good bands getting better, the night also re-confirmed for me how far ahead of their 2013 debut, Red over Red (review here), are bassist/vocalist Adam Wujtewicz and drummer Meghan Killimade of Bedroom Rehab Corporation. After seeing them for the first time earlier this summer, this was already apparent, but no less so in Allston, the New London, CT, twosome engaging in varying doomly methods, Melvins-style crunch and a bit of noise punk to boot, the gruff shouts of Wujtewicz adding a sense of burl to the set. He announced their intention to record with Justin Pizzoferrato, who also helmed Red over Red as well as past and upcoming efforts from Elder and many others, in the coming months, and though they’ve worked together before, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next Bedroom Rehab Corporation is a much different affair than was the first. They seem to be in the process of discovering their sound and that only makes watching them play, even the older material with its seafaring thematic — New London is on the no-less-ambitiously-named Thames River, and is a town with a port history — more enjoyable.

Blackwolfgoat

blackwolfgoat

After stints in recent years in HackmanBlack PyramidThe Scimitar and most recently KindBlackwolfgoat seems all the more like the vehicle through which guitarist Darryl Shepard can express unmitigated joy in his craft. He’s all alone up there — wasn’t at this show, but we’ll get there in a second — looping guitar pieces on top of each other and feeling out the spaces his tones create. The project has proved more progressive over time. His first album on Small Stone, 2010’s Dragonwizardsleeve (review here), was rife with darkened noise, while the subsequent 2012 outing, Dronolith (CD released by The Obelisk’s in-house label, The Maple Forum), branched out to more varied atmospherics. With the new Drone Maintenance, the release this show was celebrating and a record I was fortunate enough to see in the makingShepard again pushes himself toward traditional songwriting ideology, but maintains a full-headed sense of purpose to each piece, each one accomplishing a goal of its own feeding into the larger whole of the album. At O’Brien’s, new works like “Axxtrokk” and “White Hole” led to Shepard bringing up his Kind bandmate Matthew Couto (also Elder) for an entirely improvised jam that ended the set in a chaotic swirl of effects noise that refused to be grounded, either by Couto‘s drumming or the crowd’s expectation. Having seen Kind recently, I had some sense of what to expect from the collaboration, but the results were still the highlight of the evening and something special that hadn’t been done before. If that jam foretells a direction Blackwolfgoat might take, it’s one of any number possible for the wide open creativity on display.

Turns out Allston hadn’t gotten any less fucked up while I was inside O’Brien’s, but I mowed down zombies with video-game accuracy and grooved out to the Masspike without further incident. A couple close calls here and there, but easily a trip worth the risk.

Few more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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It’s Not Night: It’s Space Launch New Video for “The Gathering”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

it's not night it's space

New Paltz final-frontiersmen It’s Not Night: It’s Space released their debut and most recent full-length, Bowing Not Knowing to What (review here), back in 2012. They were announced as having signed to Small Stone at some point last year and their new album is reportedly in progress, but no solid release date has been given yet. One imagines the instrumental trio will get there sooner or later, and in the meantime, Bowing Not Knowing to What still has plenty of cosmic delights to offer those who’d take it on, as the new video for “The Gathering” demonstrates.

The clip, which appropriately enough features a slug laced in with spaced-out B-roll, was put together by John Lutomski, brother of It’s Not Night: It’s Space drummer Michael Lutomski, and like the song itself, it’s a peaceful but increasingly foreboding build, cinematic in the sense of having grandeur, but ultimately weirder than you’d find in most movies. “The Gathering” does well in blending natural elements — flute, percussion — and a steady effects wash as it builds up, which makes sense considering it’s the leadoff on Bowing Not Knowing to What and the introduction to the rest of the album, but the languid ritualism is what carries through most of all, and in that it’s a fitting representation for what It’s Not Night: It’s Space have to offer.

That record, as well as the band’s 2011 debut EP, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is available as a name-your-price download through Bandcamp, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get acquainted if you’ve yet to do so. It’s Not Night: It’s Space is Lutomski, bassist Tommy Guerrero and guitarist Kevin Halcott. and their new LP was recently performed in full at the New Paltz Rocks Fest over Labor Day weekend. More to come on the release, I’m sure.

Until then, enjoy “The Gathering” on the player below:

It’s Not Night: It’s Space, “The Gathering” official video

It’s Not Night: It’s Space on Thee Facebooks

It’s Not Night: It’s Space on Bandcamp

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Lo-Pan Premiere “Vox” from Colossus

Posted in audiObelisk on September 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

lo-pan (Photo by Meghan Ralston)

If you’re looking for Lo-Pan, they’re on tour. That’s where you’ll usually find the Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers. They’ve spent the better part of the last five years kicking up dirt across this fair land in pursuit of riffy glory, and the time and effort have paid off. Their new album, Colossus — their fourth overall and second for Small Stone Records – finds them a tighter and more efficient-sounding unit than they’ve ever been, and where their last full-length, 2011’s Salvador (review here), was a pinnacle for their songwriting’s blend of fluid groove, soulful vocals and memorable tracks, Colossus reaps the reward of all that touring in pushing Lo-Pan‘s methods even further.

So it’s a meaner, more precise Lo-Pan this time around — the band is still comprised of vocalist Jeff Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz – but they’re also branching out in terms of what their songs do. That will probably make no sense until you listen to “Vox” below. Lo-Pan have done big songs before, but “Vox” gives a spacious feeling in Martin‘s echoing voice that’s genuinely new for them — not to mention a guest spot near the end from Black Black Black‘s Jason Alexander Byers (also ex-Disengage) — and they blend it well with Fristoe‘s smooth-running riffs, Thompson‘s viscous but always moving basslines and the ever-raucous stomp from Bartz. In its hook, and in its subtle — and not so subtle — rhythmic shifts, “Vox” emphasizes a lot of the progression in Lo-Pan‘s approach, and less surprisingly, kicks a good deal of ass along the way.

Please find “Vox” on the player below, prepare yourself to spend the rest of the day listening to it on repeat, and enjoy:

Lo-Pan recorded Colossus with Andrew Schneider at Translator Audio in Brooklyn and will release the album Oct. 7 on Small Stone Records. Cover art is by Jason Alexander Byers. Lo-Pan have been on tour with Black Cobra since Aug. 28. Remaining dates for the run are as follows:

LO-PAN w/ Black Cobra:
9/04/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA
9/05/2014 Handlebar – Pensacola, FL
9/06/2014 Orpheum – Tampa, FL
9/07/2014 Gramps – Miami, FL
9/08/2014 Back Booth – Orlando, FL
9/09/2014 529 – Atlanta, GA
9/10/2014 The Mothlight – Asheville, NC
9/11/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC
9/12/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/13/2014 The Metro – Baltimore, MD
9/14/2014 Dusk – Providence, RI
9/15/2014 Nectars – Burlington, VT
9/16/2014 TT The Bears – Boston, MA
9/17/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
9/18/2014 Saint Vitus – New York, NY
9/19/2014 Lost Horizon – Syracuse, NY
9/20/2014 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY
9/21/2014 The Outpost – Kent, OH *
9/22/2014 Howlers – Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2014 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
9/24/2014 7th St Entry – Minneapolis, MN
9/26/2014 Replay – Lawrence, KS
9/27/2014 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO
9/28/2014 Burt’s Tiki Bar – Salt Lake City, UT
9/29/2014 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
9/30/2014 The Alley – Sparks, NV
10/01/2014 The Garage – Ventura, CA
10/02/2014 New Parish – Oakland, CA
10/04/2014 Downtown Lounge – Tulsa, OK *
*LO-PAN headlining date/No Black Cobra

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Colossus at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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Small Stone Records Updates on Flood Cleanup; Fundraiser Continues

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Thee basement.

As you can see in the photo above, the flood that ravaged Small Stone Records‘ offices two weeks ago (if you missed that news, see here) is being dealt with. Progress is being made, but of course there’s still a ton to do. The fundraiser has gotten an awesome response and has been about as visible as anyone could ask, so thanks to everybody for helping to get the word out and of course for donating. Please keep it going.

http://www.youcaring.com/helpscott

Label honcho Scott Hamilton took some time out and sent some pics of the damage being repaired and updated on the progress being made:

Says Scott:

We would personally like to thank everyone who has generously kicked in… It has been beyond helpful (lifesaving) and we are very thankful to any and all involved. We are now finally clean and dry… We still have a long way to go in terms of getting this up and running again, but here is a quick pic of the progress thus far.

90% of my time has been taken up with restoring all the above… i think i have been to home depot over 40 times in the last 2+ weeks

bottom line… this fundraiser has been saving my ass… the last time i was at home depot like this was 14 years ago when we first moved in… holy shit is everything way more expensive then it used to be!

So there you have it. A lot of work being done and a lot more still to come. It’s been amazing watching this community come together to support Small Stone and help Scott get back to where he needs to be, and thanks to folks like Ripple Music for hosting a charity auction, The Heavy Co. for donating all the proceeds of their new live album, and Seb from Abrahma for putting together a series of charity auctions as well. All of this is huge and it shows Scott there’s a reason all the work he’s putting in is worth the effort.

Once again, please keep it going.

http://www.youcaring.com/helpscott

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audiObelisk Transmission 039

Posted in Podcasts on August 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

This one’s a couple minutes shorter than the last few have been, but lacks nothing for substance, and particularly after YOB‘s “Marrow,” anything I put at the end would’ve just been filler to meet some imaginary obligation on my part. If you feel like you’re lacking the four minutes, give me a call and we’ll chat about records for the rest of that time. It’ll be a hoot. In any case, I think there’s plenty here to sink into — stuff that for a lot of people, myself included, will be on year-end lists and albums for which 2014 will be remembered when all is said and done. Two of my four current contenders for Album of the Year are featured, first and last.

Parts of this podcast are gorgeous, parts are ugly, but I think everything here holds up in terms of quality and listening back, I like the way this one gets immersive with a mix of longer tracks and shorter ones, slower and faster, etc. As always, I hope you enjoy, and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to check it out.

First Hour:
Lo-Pan, “Regulus” from Colossus (2014)
Steak, “Liquid Gold” from Slab City (2014)
The Well, “Mortal Bones” from Samsara (2014)
Orange Goblin, “The Devil’s Whip” from Back from the Abyss (2014)
Kvlthammer, “Hesh Trip” from Kvlthammer (2014)
Snailking, “To Wonder” from Storm (2014)
Earth, “From the Zodiacal Light” from Primitive and Deadly (2014)
Pallbearer, “Watcher in the Dark” from Foundations of Burden (2014)
Sorxe, “Her Majesty” from Surrounded by Shadows (2014)

Second Hour:
Humo del Cairo, “Tres” from Preludio EP (2014)
Joy, “Miles Away” from Under the Spell Of… (2014)
Megaton Leviathan, “Past 21” from Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell (2014)
Bong, “Blue at Noon” from Haikai No Ku – Ultra High Dimensionality LP (2014)
YOB, “Marrow” from Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)

Total running time: 1:53:47

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 039

 

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Small Stone Records Fundraiser Launched

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was painful last week to see the pictures of the Small Stone Records offices, flooded out from powerful storms that tore through the Detroit area. Still sealed label product floating through dirty water, files and CDs, the fruit of countless hours of work on the part of label owner Scott Hamilton, simply ruined. In one of the pictures, however, you can also see a floating vacuum cleaner, and that’s also important, because it reminds us that more even than being where kickass riffs come from, this is somebody’s home.

Scott is somebody whose tastes and whose efforts have helped greatly to shape the course of American heavy rock in the last decade-plus. Whether you’re a fan of Dixie Witch or Roadsaw or Sasquatch or Wo Fat or anyone else on his enviable roster, chances are even if you don’t listen to those bands, someone in a band you listen to does. Small Stone has become the standard-bearer, and you can see the influence it has had not only in bands going for “that Small Stone sound,” but also in labels who have come up in the last several years wanting to support the music they’re passionate about in a similar way.

But again, this is about more than music. It’s Scott‘s house too, and that’s why it’s so important that this community comes together to help him out. You and I are part of a worldwide subculture. Don’t believe me? Go to a show anywhere and look around you. It’s the same every place you go, and that’s no mistake. One of our own — someone who’s directly participated in making this weird, ongoing thing to which we belong — needs our help. Frankly, that should be enough to make you want to get involved.

Donations are being taken through the middle of next month, but since it’s a water cleanup process and there’s the ever-present threat of mold, time’s a factor. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

http://www.youcaring.com/helpscott

In August 2014, bad storms dumped flood waters all through the Detroit area, including into the offices of Small Stone Records, the label home of Sasquatch, Wo Fat, Greenleaf, Lord Fowl, Dixie Witch, Roadsaw and so many others.

Gear and product were both destroyed and insurance in Michigan is crap, so we’re coming together to help Scott from Small Stone with some of the massive expense of cleaning up from this flood.

Scott’s support for heavy music over the last 19 years that he’s run Small Stone has never wavered and this is a chance to help somebody who’s helped us by enriching our lives with great bands and great riffs.

Every bit helps. Thank you for your support.

–Please note that YouCaring.com takes no fees from donations and unlike other sites, ALL THE MONEY YOU DONATE GOES DIRECTLY TO HELP SCOTT.

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