The only thing I don’t get about the new video for the title-track of Dead Rock Commandos — the 2012 Small Stone debut from long-running Greek rockers Nightstalker — is the kidnapping. Okay, so Nightstalker are getting chased through the woods by mysterious gasmasked paramilitary forces. I got that. But then they get kidnapped, the hoods over their heads and the whole bit, and marched single-file to an also-mysterious white room with instruments… and they start rocking out.
So the part I don’t get is, weren’t Nightstalker going to rock out anyway? Why would these commandos need to bring them into this room? And what is the room? Could it be that the volume from their heavy riffing output is being harvested to power some kind of sinister death ray? Or worse, that Nightstalker are being set up as some kind of exhibit in a terrible post-apocalyptic rock and roll zoo? Truly, there are many questions still to be answered.
What’s way clearer in watching “Dead Rock Commandos” is that Nightstalker have the stoner thing on lockdown. The video premiered today, and Nightstalker will bring the rock directly to the people starting May 31 with Ape Machine supporting. Dates follow the clip below:
Nightstalker, “Dead Rock Commandos” official video
Including an appearance at the 2013 Freak Valley Festival, Nightstalker will be heading out on a European tour in support of 2012′s Dead Rock Commandos. The ultra-catchy riff-fest was released by Small Stone last year and found the long-running Athens outfit right at home in classic heavy fuzz ‘n’ roll.
Nightstalker tour dates: May 31 Munster, DE Rare Guitar Jun 1 Netphen, DE Freak Valley Festival Jun 2 Antwerpen, BE Antwerpen Music City Jun 4 Paris, FR Les Combustibles Jun 5 Leuven, BE Rockbar Jun 6 Wild Rover Aachen, DE Jun 7 Hasselt, BE Carpe Diem Jun 8 Wurzburg, DE Immerhin Jun 9 Salzburg, AT Rockhouse Jun 11 St. Gallen, CH Rumpeltum Jun 12 Feldkirch, AT Graf Hugo Jun 13 Erfurt, DE Stadtgarten Jun 14 Berlin, DE White Trash
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was wondering the other day what Ohio-based fuzz rockers Lo-Pan might have up their always-busy sleeves to follow their tour with High on Fire, and then all of a sudden, here’s an announcement that they’re hitting the road for two weeks in June with Torche and KENmode. That’s a pretty badass bill, three distinctly different takes on heavy that should make for a decent complement to each other as Lo-Pan continues to refine new material like the song “Colossus,” which you can check out footage of below.
JUST ANNOUNCED! Lo-Pan will be hitting the road with our buddies Torche and KEN mode for a couple of weeks in June. All current dates listed below.
Sat/06-01 Milwaukee – The Cactus Club Sun/06-02 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird Mon/06-03 Cincinnati, OH – The Taft Tue/06-04 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups Wed/06-05 Cleveland, OH – The Grog Shop Thu/06-06 Detroit, MI – The Magic Stick Fri/06-07 Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme Sat/06-08 Toronto, Canada – Lee’s Palace Sun/06-09 Syracuse, NY – Lost Horizon Mon/06-10 Boston, MA – Sinclair Wed/06-12 Providence, RI – AS220 Thu/06-13 West Chester, PA – The Note Fri/06-14 – TBA Sat/06-15 Washington, DC – Rock and Roll
Posted in audiObelisk on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a proposition that has beguiled scientists for decades now, but Italian stoner metallers Isaak have finally aligned the proportion data and determined that The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound. So proud was the Genoa foursome of this discovery that they took their central theorem as the title of their 2012 record. The band, who went by the name Gandhi’s Gunn at the time, released their debut full-length, Thirtyyeahs(semi-review here), in 2010.
Needless to say, the reverberations through the scientific community since Isaak‘s discovery have been rippling outward ever since. Word reached the ears of Small Stone Records, who added the band — vocalist Giacomo H Boeddu, guitarist Francesco Raimondi, bassist Massimo Perasso and drummer Andrea Tabbì De Bernardi — to its ever-increasing roster of European heavy rockers, so that their riffy, burly jams might enlighten others to the complex mathematics within the driving grooves of “Breaking Balance,” the moody ’90s stomp of “Flood,” or the final resonant psychedelic proof of the 10-minute closer “Hypothesis,” on which Isaak add further distinction via balancing sitar lines and massive, modern riffery.
This new version of The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundis set for a June release and includes four bonus tracks: The Pink Floyd cover “Fearless,” the Iron Maiden cover “Wrathchild,” and two more originals, “The Right Time” and “Isolation 2.0.” You’ll find those as well as the rest of the original album ready for consumption on the player following. Please enjoy.
Full stream ahead:
Isaak, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Small Stone will release Isaak‘s The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundthis summer. More info at the links below.
Ahead of the April 23 CD release of their second full-length, The Fury of a Patient Man — now available for pre-order through the Small Stone Bandcamp — Boston soul riffers Gozu have a brand new video for the track “Bald Bull.” The clip was directed and produced by none other than Roadsaw‘s Tim Catz, and it’s got all the milk-dripping-through-beard action you could ask for. Also head-sawing!
Mark it a win for that and of course for the song itself, a highlight of the album (review here) that Gozu will support with two nights at Radio in Somerville May 3 and 4 ahead of making a stop in Brooklyn this July for a slot at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 at The Acheron (more info here). Here’s “Bald Bull,” followed by the flyer for the Radio gigs with each night’s lineup. Enjoy:
Gozu, “Bald Bull” Official Video
On May 3, Gozu will be joined by Streight Angular (whose name is somehow so hard to type it hurts), Mellow Bravo and Birch Hill Dam. The next night, it’s Cocked ‘n’ Loaded, Black Pyramid, Thunderbloods and Hey Zeus. Either way, you can’t really go wrong:
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I love a bit of fuzz in the springtime. Okay, really any time of the year, I’ll take it when I can get it, but either way, I’m glad to read the news that Texas trio Wo Fat are heading overseas to act as fuzz ambassadors. Following gigs at SXSW and the inaugural Fuzzed Out! fest in Fort Worth, they’ll stamp their passports and hit up Roadburn, Desertfest London and a slew of other European outlets. Living the dream as it were. Always glad to see things coming together for bands who kick ass, which Wo Fat most certainly do.
They sent an update down the PR wire:
Upcoming Spring Gigs!
Wo Fat has got a number of great shows coming up and we wanted to make sure you knew about them. In March we will be doing a weekend Texas tour that will start with a performance at the Small Stone Records showcase at SXSW in Austin with a killer lineup of our labelmates, followed by a mini Small Stone showcase in San Antonio with Freedom Hawk, Lord Fowl and doom masters Las Cruces. Then we’ll finish up the weekend at the first annual Fuzzed Out! Fest in Fort Worth, which features a great lineup of bands that are part of the new wave of stoner rock, including Ape Machine, Mothership, Freedom Hawk, Lord Fowl and Been Obscene.
Coming up in April is our “Lost Highway Across Europe Tour” which includes stops at Roadburn and Desertfest London. We won’t be able to hit as many places in Europe as we would have liked this time around due to commitments at home, but we hope to do a more extensive European tour in the future.
Check out the dates below. We hope to see you at one of our shows!
Mar 14, 2013 – Small Stone Records SXSW Showcase – Headhunters, Austin, TX with Mellow Bravo, Supermachine, Luder, Freedom Hawk, Lord Fowl and Suplecs Mar 15, 2013 – Small Stone San Antonio Showcase – Nightrocker Live, San Antonio, TX with Lord Fowl, Freedom Hawk, Las Cruces and Maneaters of Tsavo Mar 16, 2013 – Austin Heavy Music Showcase – Special afternoon show at the Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin, TX. Wo Fat plays at 1:15pm. Mar 16, 2013 – Fuzzed Out! Festival 2013 – The Grotto, Fort Worth, TX The new wave of Stoner Rock with Lord Fowl, Wo Fat, Freedom Hawk, Southern Train Gypsy, Ape Machine, Been Obscene and Mothership April 12, 2013 – Boiler Room, Dallas, TX with Mothership, Hawk Vs. Dove and Mount Salem Apr 20, 2013 – Roadburn Festival – 013, Tilburg, Netherlands Apr 21, 2013 – White Trash Fast Food, Berlin, Germany with Abrahma Apr 22, 2013 – Vera, Groningen, Netherlands Apr 23, 2013 – Les Combustibles, Paris, France with Witch Mountain, Cough and Abrahma Apr 24, 2013 – L’Usine, Geneva, Switzerland with Abrahma Apr 25, 2013 – Vortex, Siegen, Germany with Maserati and Abrahma Apr 26, 2013 – De Pit, Terneuzen, Netherlands, Terneuzen is On Fire Pre Party with Abrahma, Swamp Machine and Idealus Maximus Apr 27, 2013 – Desertfest London, The Underworld, Camden, United Kingdom
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Leading to a performance at this year’s Desertfest in London, Swedish heavy rockers Deville have announced a run of shows that will take them around Western Europe in support of their new album, Hydra. Their debut on Small Stone (third album overall), Hydra also reportedly has a vinyl issue coming from the Detroit imprint, which sent over the dates and info below:
Sweden’s Deville will be hitting the road starting April 9th in Berlin Germany @ White Trash. The three week tour will also include stops in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, and a UK date at Desertfest London on April 26th. In the meantime, do yourself a favor an go get their brand new album Hydra, It is rather fantastic. And yes, there will also be 180g ltd vinyl version available in a few months, but the cd and digital download versions are now available.
Deville on tour 04/09 Berlin, Germany White Trash 04/10 Vienna, Austria The Shelter 04/11 Hohenems, Austria ProKonTra 04/12 Sull’arno, Italy Santa Croce Rock City 04/13 Vercelli, Italy Officine Meccaniche 04/14 Treviso, Italy Punkyreggae pub 04/15 Torino, Italy United Club 04/16 Bologna, Italy Distilleria 04/17 Pescara, Italy Qube 04/18 Milano, Italy Ligera 04/19 Lyon, France Trokson 04/20 Aix-en-Provence, France Le Korigan 04/21 Barcelona, Spain Rock Sound 04/22 Madrid, Spain Sala Barracudas 04/23 Iluntz Taberna Guipuzcoa, Spain 04/24 Paris, France Le KLub 04/25 La Louviere, Belgium La Taverne du Theatre 04/26 London, UK Desertfest UK 04/27 Den Helder, The Netherlands De Engel
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
You can’t hope to stop Backwoods Payback from touring. You can only hope to contain them. Actually, you can’t really hope for that either, but the important thing is you tried. Or something. Not really.
Whatever. Point is that West Chester’s own merchants of the mud are hitting the road once more, and they’re playing some killer live shows, and if you can, you should go see them. They’ve also got a new EP out digital-like called Live 2012, and you’ll never guess how and when the tracks were recorded. Yes, live. Yes, in 2012. Way to call it.
The kicker is that the EP features some new songs not yet released in studio form, so it’s a glimpse at where Backwoods Payback might be headed as they follow-up 2011′s riffy Momantha, hopefully later this year. Oh, and it’s free. And you can hear it below. So there you have it.
Word from the source:
Small Stone Records recording artists and purveyors of the riff BACKWOODS PAYBACK will hit the road once again this March bringing their vision to the masses.
The US tour kicks off March 7th in Delaware and sees the band sharing the stage with friends and contemporaries such as Pilgrim, Lo-Pan, Inter Arma, Royal Thunder and Batillus along the way. A few acoustic sets thrown in for good measure ensures none of these dates are to be missed. In preparation for the tour the band has released a Live EP available now on their bandcamp site FOR FREE thru the duration of the trip. The EP includes old favorites as well as brand new songs, not yet released.
Posted in Reviews on January 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
When Boston rockers Gozu made their debut in 2010 with Locust Season, the album was greeted with no shortage of hyperbole within the heavy rock set. Their strong sense of songwriting, ballsy riffing, diversity of approach and penchant for melody made the four-piece an immediate standout among a crowded scene, and they came out of the gate with the professionalism of a band putting out their third album, not their first. Locust Season (review here), however, was a first album, and so it’s not necessarily surprising to find that on the sophomore outing, The Fury of a Patient Man (Small Stone), Gozu seem to have undergone some shifts in sound in the three years since their last time out. The above-listed elements, thankfully, remain consistent, and if you were someone who heard and upon whom the debut made an impression, there will be little doubt when you put on The Fury of a Patient Man that you’re listening to Gozu. Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney has the same soulful sensibility in his voice, a little melancholy but still able to keep pace with fellow six-stringer Doug Sherman’s riffing (bass duties are split throughout by Jay Canava and Paul Delair; Joe Grotto has since joined as a permanent bassist), and Barry Spillberg’s drums are likewise at home punctuating movements either stomping, as on “Disco Related Injury” or rife with a more furious galloping, as on “Charles Bronson Pinchot.” Gozu’s penchant for joke and/or referential song titles – another piece of the puzzle returned from the first album – winds up undercutting some (not all) of the emotionality on display throughout, as on the later “Ghost Wipe” and “Traci Lords” or even opener “Bald Bull,” but the 10 component tracks on the 62-minute album nonetheless convey a range of moods, from the earlier more rocking swagger of “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” (sorry boys, on the show it was “Signed, Epstein’s Mother”) to the echoing largesse of 24-minute closer “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” and no matter what heading they’re given, the songs do a lot of speaking for themselves. I’m not sure if the tradeoff of grabbing attention with a clever play on names like “Charles Bronson Pinchot” is worth the distraction from the contents of the track, but it’s moot. They are what they are, and what matters most from the point of launch is the strength of the material.
In that department, Gozu deliver a record to justify the three-year wait since the debut. However seriously they may or may not wish to present the superficial trappings of their band-dom, Gozu are no joke. Their arrangements are rich and complex without being pretentious, and immediately from the deft switches to and from falsetto in the verse of “Bald Bull,” Gaffney leads the charge through material that shows just how much growth the band has undertaken. “Bald Bull” and “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” make a strong opening duo and effective summary of Gozu’s approach on the album – both three and a half minutes long, perfect for hard rock radio in some alternate universe – balancing soulful layering and harmonies against top quality stonerly riffing and driving heavy groove. There is just the slightest undertone of metal, and certainly “Charles Bronson Pinchot” ups that with a High on Fire-type riff that Spillberg meets with thrashy aplomb, nestling into the quickened chug clearly in his element and winding up no less at home in the increasingly dreamy midsection of the song as it develops with airier guitars and a slow build. It’s a switch from the more grooving heavy rock of the first two tracks, but that’s clearly the idea. Gozu are shifting the expectation of their audience – putting listeners where they want them – and in terms of the album as a whole, it’s the right move. Because the material is still basically accessible and “Charles Bronson Pinchot” catchy and not out of line vocally with what Gaffney brings to either “Bald Bull” or “Signed, Epstein’s Mom,” the listener is more apt to go along with the change, and likewise as “Charles Bronson Pinchot” gives way to the quirky verse of “Irish Dart Fight,” more alike to some of earlier Queens of the Stone Age’s start-stop progressions, but given different context by the vocals and the fuller payoff in the chorus. Sherman and Gaffney don’t spend much time playing off each other on guitar, but the solo in the second half of “Irish Dart Fight” sounds all the more accomplished for the backing rhythm, and it seems that altogether Gozu are tighter as a unit in terms of their performance than they were three years ago. Progress has been made.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
You can’t argue with pretty, and Wo Fat‘s The Black Codevinyl is most certainly that. The Dallas-based riffers have their Small Stone debut (review here) available on LP as of now, and they’ll be playing a release show on Dec. 8 with fellow Texan upstarts Venomous Maximus and Mothership. More info on that is here, and in addition to sending on word about the vinyl release, Wo Fat also updated on the progress for their Kickstarter campaign to find their European tour, which includes a stop at next year’s Roadburn.
Black Code vinyl has arrived!
We now have “The Black Code” on vinyl available in theWo Fat Hoodoo Shop. It is of the finest quality 180 gram vinyl and comes in a beautiful gatefold sleeve. You have 3 color choices for the vinyl: Black, Opaque Orange and Transparent Blue. Take a look at the photo below. If you buy the vinyl directly from Wo Fat, it comes with a download card for a free download of the album (you don’t get this anywhere else). Get yours now while they last.
Also, we’ve got 20 days left in our Kickstarter Campaign that is raising funds to help us cover the cost of going to Europe for a tour next spring. This tour is being entirely funded by the band, which is why your help is so important and tremendously appreciated. You can reserve an autographed copy of vinyl through the kickstarter page if you like. Yes, it costs more, but that donation will go directly to cover the costs of airfare. There are also other bitchin’ rewards for your donations that are available only through this campaign.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
…Because really, if you’re going to start the biggest tour of your career to date, you don’t want to do it on a Monday. Lo-Pan head out beginning Nov. 13, this coming Tuesday, to meet up with High on Fire and Goatwhore in Austin. From there, the three bands and periodically others like Mastodon/Brutal Truth-offshoot Primate and C.O.C. – whose Eye for an Eye reissue came out this week — will storm the countryside, and as if the tour wasn’t long enough, Lo-Pan have some off-dates booked as well.
If you have even a passing interest in American heavy rock, you probably don’t need me to tell you how crucial Lo-Pan is at this point. Just go to the show and make sure you get there early.
This from the PR wire:
LO-PAN: Ohio Road Burners To Kick Off North American Tour With High On Fire
Ohio road burners, LO-PAN, are readying for their next round of live assaults supporting heavy metal juggernauts High On Fire. The full North American takeover will commence on November 15 in Austin, Texas and is slated to run through December 22 in San Francisco, California. Additional support will come from Goatwhore as well as special guests Primate (featuring Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth) and Corrosion of Conformity on select dates. Additionally, LO-PAN will be picking up a few off dates in surrounding cities. Check the full itinerary below.
Don’t miss LO-PAN on their final dates of 2012!
LO-PAN Tour Dates 2012: 11/13/2012 Buccaneer – Memphis, TN 11/14/2012 Downtown Music – Little Rock, AR 11/15/2012 Emo’s – Austin, TX w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 11/16/2012 Korova – San Antonio, TX w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 11/17/2012 Tree’s – Dallas, TX w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 11/18/2012 Happy Hippie – Lake Charles, LA w/ Large Marge 11/19/2012 One Eyed Jacks – New Orleans, LA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 11/20/2012 Vinyl Music Hall – Pensacola, FL w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 11/21/2012 Jinx – Savannah, GA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 11/23/2012 Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 11/24/2012 Sinclair – Boston, MA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 11/25/2012 The Bug Jar – Rochester, NY w/ Primate 11/26/2012 Opera House – Toronto, ON w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 11/27/2012 La Tulipe – Montreal, QC w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 11/28/2012 Port Street Music Hall – Portland, MA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 11/29/2012 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 11/30/2012 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 12/01/2012 Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, Primate 12/03/2012 Mohawk – Buffalo, NY w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/04/2012 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/05/2012 Aces of Cups – Columbus, OH w/ High Ow/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/06/2012 Firebird – St. Louis, MO w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/07/2012 Double Door – Chicago, IL w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/08/2012 Turf Club – Minneapolis, MN w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/09/2012 High Noon – Madison, WI w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/10/2012 The Riot Room – Kansas City, MO w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/11/2012 Bluebird – Denver, CO w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/12/2012 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT 12/13/2012 Nerolux – Boise, ID w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/14/2012 Neumos – Seattle, WA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/15/2012 Dante’s – Portland, OR w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/16/2012 The Venue – Vancouver, BC w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore 12/18/2012 The Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, C.O.C. 12/19/2012 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, C.O.C. 12/20/2012 Slidebar – Fullerton, CA Slidebar w/ Goatwhore 12/21/2012 Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore, C.O.C. 12/22/2012 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA w/ High On Fire, Goatwhore
Posted in Reviews on November 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was the night of a thousand riffs. At very least 100-150 very well purposed. A Small Stone Records showcase is always an occasion and this year’s Boston to-do was no exception. The scene was the Radio bar in Somerville, and though The Brought Low dropped off at the last minute owing to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the lineup boasted nine bands — Boston natives Mellow Bravo stepped in to fill the hole, playing earlier than the NYC trio would have — and it was front to back quality between them, Blackwolfgoat, who opened and also played in between sets, Supermachine, Infernal Overdrive, Lord Fowl, Freedom Hawk, Roadsaw, Lo-Pan and Gozu.
What do you do with a night like that? Well, you drink. And I did. Hard. I have a tradition — someone choosing their words less carefully might call it a “habit” — going back nearly a decade at this point of showing up to Small Stone events and promptly getting obliterated. At last year’s Philly showcase (review here and here), I played it cool for the most part. Less so this weekend. Maybe it was just that it was Saturday and I knew I had Sunday to recover, maybe it was the fact that I still didn’t know if the power was on back home yet. Whatever it was, I opened a tab and didn’t look back. My storm-refugee ass needed a night of reckless abandon.
After being dropped off in front of Radio by The Patient Mrs. as though I was on my way to my first day of kindergarten — schooled indeed — I walked in to find Darryl Shepard of Blackwolfgoat early into his set. Downstairs in the basement, a matinee of three sets of Beatles covers would soon give way to a sweaty, smelly night of punk rock. Seems as good a jump-off point as any, so here goes:
With a cocktail straw in his mouth and a bounce in his step (minus the bounce), Blackwolfgoat‘s lone resident, Darryl Shepard — also of currently of Black Pyramid and Milligram and formerly of Hackman, Roadsaw and no shortage of others — showed off some of the latest wares from his one-man act. Shepard would soon adjourn to Radio’s semi-balcony off to the left of the stage, where he’d sit at the ready and wait to drone out a tune or two between other acts, but before he got there, he played some material from last year’s Dronolithand some newer stuff. The newer songs find him using more dynamic loops, setting a droning bed for himself and then launching into — in at least one instance — a grandiose classic rock solo over it. It was awesome to see, and the melody in that solo and around it proved just one more way the project is expanding sonically. He’ll reportedly be recording soon, and of course that’s something to look forward to. Pretty much any day you get to see this dude play guitar is a good day. If you get to see him do a full set to start a show and a bunch of mini-sets between seven or eight other acts, well then, all the better.
There was an interesting mix of stage presences when it came to Boston’s own Mellow Bravo. The first full band on the bill was also the newest to Small Stone‘s roster save for Supermachine, who followed, and they released their self-titled debut album (review here) on the label via a Mad Oak Recordings imprint earlier this year. In the case of charismatic vocalist Keith Pierce and guitarist Andrew Doherty, they seemed birthed of Boston’s formidable hardcore/metalcore scene, whatever soul records they may have dug into since those days, keyboardist/vocalist Jess Collins came off more on the heavy metal end, while guitarist Jeff Fultz (ex-Seemless) had the lead licks and enviable hair of a modern classic rocker. Mix all that with the rhythm section of sunglasses-clad bassist Seager Tennis and drummer Dave Jarvis, and it’s a strange six-piece stew resulting from Mellow Bravo‘s recipe. Nonetheless, they were resoundingly cohesive, putting on a professional show — staged in parts, like when Collins came out from behind the keyboard to front “Ridin’” — and looking like a band who should and expected to be paid for their work. “Love Hammer” was a highlight, but really just one of the memorable songs on their debut that the band did well bringing to life.
There are few phrases that will earn respect in my book as quickly as “ex-Scissorfight.” In the case of label newcomers Supermachine, bassist Paul Jarvis and guitarist Jay Fortin were founding members of that most excellent New Hampshire outfit — both also played in Mess with the Bull – and so interest in what they might be doing musically was automatic, especially as this was my first time seeing them or hearing any of their songs. Joined in the four-piece by drummer Mike McNeill and vocalist David Nebbia, there was a moment where I stood in front of the stage at Radio and was reminded of hazy afternoons and evenings at Room 710 on Red River in Austin, Texas, at many a Small Stone showcase years back there, when I was still relatively just getting my feet wet in terms of appreciating and being exposed to this kind of music. If that’s a long way around to saying Supermachine sounded fresh, so be it. Their performance was organic and unpretentious — though there was no question which of them was the lead singer, even before they got on stage — and while they seemed to still be feeling out their identity as a band, they gave a good first impression.
True enough, I’d had some beers by the time Infernal Overdrive started playing, maybe visited the basement Beatles show downstairs to weird everyone in the room out by singing along to “Can’t Buy Me Love” way louder than was called for. I nonetheless recall being entirely of sound mind when I scribbled my first note about Infernal Overdrive‘s performance. It was as follows: “New shit is right on.” I stand by that 100 percent. They might need to hit the road for a while to really step into what and where they want to be as a band, but short of that, they’ve got their aesthetic down. No less so at Radio than at Stoner Hands of Doom XIIin September. Part of me wants them to just go ahead and get the next record out so they can start closing with “Viking” already, but as the room was beginning to fill up, the Jersey/Massachusetts-native double-guitar foursome treated an eager and thirsty crowd to “Motor” and “The Edge” from their Last Rays of the Dying Sun2011 debut full-length (review here) and those songs rested well alongside newer cuts like “Quints Revenge” and “Ride to the Sun.” As ever, they tore through their set, capping with the cowbell/fuzz swiftness of “I-95,” which set the stage well for Connecticut’s Lord Fowl, who followed.
Continue to impress. Despite an apparently ongoing throat problem for guitarist/vocalist Vechel Jaynes — I actually take it as a sign of someone giving a shit both about what they do and what I think about what they do when artists tell me about their various injuries, illnesses, aches and pains; that kind of thing can be good to know sometimes, though Jaynes‘ trouble did little to hold back Lord Fowl at Radio — the New Haven, Connecticut, four-piece dove headfirst into material from their Moon Queenlabel debut (review here), rising to the occasion of directly following Infernal Overdrive and making me remember why I like this kind of shit so much in the first place. They also gave a fitting sequel to when I saw them at SHoD XII, guitarist/vocalist Mike Pellegrino comfortable as he always seems to be fronting the band alongside Jaynes while bassist Jon Conine and drummer Don Freeman locked in grooves thick and slick in equal measure. “Streets of Nevermore” was a highlight, and the one-two punch of “Quicksand” and the insistent swirl of “SOS” was no less engaging on stage than it was late into Moon Queen. I wondered a bit what their next album might bring, if they’d keep to a thematic, semi-psych heavy rock approach or branch out elsewhere as they move forward, and then The Patient Mrs. showed up looking all fine and I got distracted. Ha.
Quietly, more than a year had passed since I last caught Virginia’s fuzz buzzards live, but Freedom Hawk were the most in their element at Radio that I’ve ever seen them. The songs from their Holding On 2011 label debut (review here) have cooled and tightened into a fine, viscous ooze, and the set had more than a few killers to it, including the recent video track “Indian Summer.” They’re a good band, and fresh on my mind as I’d just that very afternoon acquired their first demo in a haul of old promo material (more on that tomorrow), so I was glad to have our paths cross again at last. A less raucous delivery than either Lord Fowl or Infernal Overdrive – both of whom put on a hell of a show — Freedom Hawk were nonetheless in the right place at the right time. The crowd was boozed and well warmed up, and Freedom Hawk‘s “all fuzz, no bullshit” was right at home, guitarists TR Morton (also vocals) and Matt Cave leading with ’90s-style stoner rock riffing while bassist Mark Cave and drummer Lenny Hines provided weight and pulse to the rolling groove. I don’t know if someone thought they were being clever by playing Ozzy before they went on (Morton‘s vocals being geared in that direction), but Freedom Hawk showed they’re moving more toward becoming their own outfit and incorporating whatever influence it might be — Ozzy, Fu Manchu, Kyuss, etc. — into a sound more fully theirs. Worth noting that at this point there hadn’t yet been a band whose next album I wasn’t stoked at the thought of hearing.
In true showcase fashion, Roadsaw delivered a set that not only showed why they’re the godfathers of Boston’s heavy rock scene, but ran a gamut through their own catalog — opening with “Look Pretty Lonely” from 2008′s See You in Hell!, and also including “Keep on Sailing” and “Thanks for Nothing” from 1997′s Nationwide — on which Shepard joined on lead guitar from his spot on the balcony — “Buried Alive” and “Disconnected” from 2007′s Rawk ‘n’ Roll, “Monkey Skull” from 2012′s Roadsaw EP, and “Weight in Gold” and “Long in the Tooth” from their 2010 self-titled full-length. I said earlier this year at London Desertfest that I wanted to see them on their home turf, and I was glad to have the opportunity at last. If it’s any indicator of how it all went down, they delayed the start of their set to get another round of drinks. Yes, it was that kind of party. The stage at Radio wasn’t as small as that at the Small Stone showcase in Philly last year — it was somewhere between that and the more spacious at the El ‘n’ Gee in Connecticut, where SHoD was held, and which Roadsaw also played — so I didn’t think vocalist Craig Riggs was about to bean bassist Tim Catz or guitarist Ian Ross with his spinning microphone (ever-shirtless drummer Jeremy Hemond being well out of range), but they made short work of it nonetheless, and even went so far as to bring up Infernal Overdrive guitarist/vocalist Marc Schleicher for an encore of “The Gentle Butcher,” from Nothing that a Bullet Couldn’t Cure by the band Antler, of which he, Ross, Catz and Riggs were a part. As ever, they were in classic form.
A scant two weeks before leaving for a tour with High on Fire and Goatwhore that will have them playing in the biggest venues of their career to date, Columbus, Ohio’s Lo-Pan looked ready. I think they’ve already discovered that the reward for the hard work they’ve been putting in over the last couple years is actually just a bunch of even harder work, but they seemed hungry nonetheless. It had been more than a year since I’d seen them as well, and along with a new shorter haircut for guitarist Brian Fristoe, they had two new songs in the set alongside cuts from 2011′s brilliant-and-yes-I-fucking-mean-brilliant Salvador(review here). Both “Eastern Seas” and “Colossus” had Fristoe‘s steady progressive-edged fuzz, made thicker by Skot Thompson‘s basslines, but seemed to push vocalist Jeff Martin farther into his range as well as Jessie Bartz — front and center as always — tied it all together on drums. As I told Bartz when they were done, I’d like to hear them 85 or 87 more times before I make final judgment, but they sounded pretty dead on, and fit well with “Kurtz” from 2009′s Sasquanaut(which Small Stone reissued) and “Chichen Itza,” “Deciduous,” “Bird of Prey” and set closer “El Dorado” from Salvador, all of which remain as powerful in a live setting as they were the first time I saw them. Lo-Pan was my only real headbang of the show. When they were done, I stumbled my drunk self around the side of the building and threw up barely a fraction of the beer I’d drank, taking care to keep it out of my hair and beard, then went back inside, washed up downstairs while trying to ignore the stench of punker sweat, lest I retch again, and headed back into civilization in time for the start of Gozu, who rounded out the night. I’d been a wreck despite having my last beer sometime during Roadsaw, but with just one band still to go, there was no turning back now.
Much to his credit, it was Gozu guitarist Doug Sherman – he of the perilously short guitar strap — who put the whole gig together. From the second I was walking into the venue, way back before anyone played other than Blackwolfgoat, before all the beer, the barbecue, the more beer, the rock and roll and the more beer, Sherman was outside greeting people, there the whole time, and he and his band very quickly showed by they were just right to close out. Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney (above, left) has a subdued presence on stage, quiet and reserved — a good balance for Sherman‘s energy — and his performance has been spot on every time I’ve seen him, making vocal up and down vocal dexterity look easy while also joining Sherman on guitar and driving the songs forward with driving riffage. Bassist Joe Grotto was a new addition to the band since I saw them in March — also at Radio, as it happens — but he fit right in the rhythm section with drummer Barry Spillberg, and being revived following my ritualistic purge, I was in decent enough shape to appreciate their even-thicker take on “Meat Charger” and “Meth Cowboy” from their 2010 Locust Seasondebut (review here), on which they were joined by Ian Ross of Roadsaw (above, on right guitar). Their sound is too thick to really be a boogie, but that forward motion is there, and Gaffney brings a sense of drama to their choruses that stood them out from everyone else on the bill at Radio. They had a couple new songs as well, and whatever they do next, it’ll be a welcome arrival.
I know I post a lot of shit about Small Stone bands. I go see them play when I can, I review the records, I do interviews, post tour news, posters, and so forth, but the fact of the matter is this: That’s not coincidence. It’s a short list of American labels contributing anything of merit to the genre of heavy rock — by my estimation there are maybe five, with a few others who’ve glommed onto this or that trend within the sphere of Riff — and Small Stone are right there at the top. From the label’s days providing a haven to bands like Acid King and Sons of Otis in the wake of Man’s Ruin‘s demise, to fostering its own upstart acts like Sasquatch (not that they’re upstarts now, but they were when their debut was released), Infernal Overdrive, Gozu, Lo-Pan, Sun Gods in Exile, and Lord Fowl, while still keeping a commitment to what he does best, label head Scott Hamilton has patronized some of the best American heavy rock out there today, to the point where “the Small Stone sound” is an influence unto itself for bands around the world to pick up on. To be perfectly honest about it, it’s a cause I feel is worth supporting.
Small Stone’s next showcase is in Detroit at the Magic Stick on Dec. 1. More info here.
When the show was done, I was so tired I thought I’d fall asleep walking to catch a cab back to the hotel. There were goodbyes to be said, tales of hurricane survival to regale with and be regaled by, and a bar tab to close out, but I was quick about it, and before too long, The Patient Mrs. generously corralled me into a taxi. I was more lucid than I had been at several points in the evening by then, but still, sleep came as quick and as heavy as the riffs still stuck in my head. We had to drive back to Jersey on Sunday and figure out if the lights were back on yet after the storm (they were as of that afternoon), but if that was to be the finale of “refugee living,” I didn’t make out so bad.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve never been to a Small Stone showcase in Boston before. Sure, I was at both nights of the Philly one last year (review here and here) and I caught Gozu and Infernal Overdrive together at Radio this past March (review here), and looking at the list, the only band on it I’ve never seen is Supermachine — and I saw Scissorfight, from whence they come — but still, Boston’s a different beast. To tell you the truth, every time I hit the town, I feel a little bit like I’m going to get my ass kicked.
Perhaps then, it would be wise for me to hit the warm-up show slated to happen one day before the showcase proper. Elder (who so far as I know are not on Small Stone) and Infernal Overdrive will play at the taqueria No Problemo in New Bedford at 10PM. If you’re north of there, Gozu and Freedom Hawk will be on a bill at Asylum in Portland, ME. Drummer Mike Bennett of Infernal Overdrive posted the following notice and flyer:
Tomorrow night there will be a few warm up gigs starring some of your favorite Small Stone bands….
Asylum -Portland, ME w/ GOZU, Freedom Hawk, Murcilago and Whitcomb No Problemo – New Bedford, MA w/ Infernal Overdrive and Elder….. All leading up to the big event Sat. !!!
And then of course there’s the showcase itself on Saturday at Radio in Somerville. As awesome an assemblage of Small Stone acts as I’ve had the privilege to see. Here are the details, courtesy of the Thee Facebooks event page:
Nov. 3rd-Radio, Boston Small Stone Showcase 10 dollars!!! Dudes- BEER-PETTING ZOO!! Purchase Tickets HERE:
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
What’s that you say? A really fucking cool European tour with a good bunch of bands playing in awesome cities across a beautiful continent that I’d love to see? Well, I guess it’s another day in riffy paradise. To be honest, that’s a scenario that plays out so often these days, I’m not even sure how this qualifies as news, but screw it. Tour dates is tour dates.
And if you gotta have tour dates, Brain Police, Greenleaf, The Graviators and Mirror Queen (featuring Thomas Bellier of Blaak Heat Shujaa) is good tour dates to have. Ignore my didn’t-get-the-Fulbright bitterness and dig this:
BRAINBANGERS BALL II
Brain Police (ICE) Green Leaf (SWE) -feat. members of Dozer & Truckfighters - The Graviators (SWE) Mirror Queen (NYC/USA) Expect an ass kicking night of Heavy Rock, Riffs & Beers….
09.10.12 GER Berlin, Lido 10.10.12 GER Frankfurt, Bett 11.10.12 GER Stuttgart, Zwoelfzehn 12.10.12 GER Munich, Feierwerk 13.10.12 GER Dresden, Groovestation 14.10.12 AUT Linz, Kapu 16.10.12 AUT Wien, Arena 17.10.12 AUT Innsbruck, PMK 18.10.12 CH Geneva, L ´Usine 19.10.12 CH Winterthur, Gaswerk 20.10.12 GER Altenkunstadt, Nepomuk 21.10.12 BEL Brussels, Magasin 4 22.10.12 GER Köln, Underground 24.10.12 GER Hamburg, Molotow 25.10.12 GER Jena, Rose 26.10.12 GER Siegen, Vortex 27.10.12 GER Osnabrück, Westwerk
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
My reasons for posting the news that fuzzly Texas trio Wo Fat have been added to the lineup for Roadburn 2013 are triple-fold: First, Wo Fat kick ass, as their new album, The Black Code(review here), so clearly demonstrates. Second, it’s Roadburn news, and posting it is something I very much enjoy. Third — and this one’s the kicker — the poster is probably the best use of a comic-style dialogue bubble I’ve seen since my days slobbering over the latest issue of Batman. Well played, Roadburn.
And congratulations to the band on being added. When last I interviewed Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, he said European touring was something they very much wanted to do, so way to go on making that happen and all the best to him and the band.
Here’s the news (and that poster):
Wo Fat Confirmed For Roadburn 2013
We are very pleased to welcome Texas riffmasters Wo Fat on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 with their blues-infused version of psychedelic doom. Tearing through the speakers like a swamp monster summoned from some dark cosmic morass, they rose from the deep and began their psyche-doom-adelic quest in 2003, with the goal to make music that remained within the paradigm forged by Black Sabbath, Hendrix, ZZ Top and the other greats of the 70?s, but that was also crushingly heavy and at the same time stayed true to the haunting blues that moan and wail deep within their souls.
Through their sonic journeys, they have managed to find a compelling balance between monolithic, cyclopean riffing and spaced out, psychedelic jamming. Structure and improvisational freedom being equally important elements to their music.
Three albums and nine years later, Wo Fat has joined the Small Stone Records roster and is offering up a new epic album, The Black Code, which contains five hefty slabs of classic Wo Fat analog fuzz, but this time with a more sci-fi related motif, full of cyber-visions of evil code and premonitions of digital horror and is maybe their heaviest work to date. It’s heaviness in groove, sound and feel as well as riff. This is organic, earthy metal. This is a pure, expertly cultivated, homegrown strain of Texas riffage.
Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
Posted in Reviews on September 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Previously known only as V, the lone contributor to Larman Clamor’s boogie-ready assault of darkened Americana has pulled back the veil of mystery and revealed himself to be none other than Hamburg-based artist Alexander von Wieding, whose work has graced album covers from Karma to Burn, Trouble, Cortez and Nuclear Assault as well as Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Mangoo, Sun Gods in Exile, Infernal Overdrive and countless others from the Small Stone Records discography. It should probably come as little surprise, then, that Small Stone (who’ve hit a point in their regularity of releases as to be more or less a permanent fixture around here) has signed on for the release of Larman Clamor’s second full-length collection of weirdo psych blues, Frogs. The album follows last year’s course-setting Altars to Turn Blood LP (review here) and self-titled EP (review here), and though I wrote the same in the bio for the release, I have no hesitation to note that it’s von Wieding’s best and most atmospherically solid collection yet. To his and the album’s benefit, the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist keeps it short, but over the course of Frogs’ 31 minutes and 11 tracks, he nonetheless develops a full-length flow — more even than the last time around – while also keeping the songs memorable within themselves. The unquestionable standout of the bunch is “The Mudhole Stomp,” which is as fitting a description of the Larman Clamor sound as I’ve heard, but von Wieding’s alternate-universe garage swamp blues makes for several such highlights, shifting into a moody midsection only to revive the barnyard boogie later on in the album’s second half. Greater incorporation of gritty electric guitar soloing amid the sometimes central, sometimes companion acoustic grooves and the perpetual threat of a far-back organ melody make Frogs just as dangerous as anything Larman Clamor has released to this point, and though the depth of arrangement has deepened, the project has maintained the sense of rawness central to the authenticity of its presentation. That is, if Larman Clamor went prog, it wouldn’t work. It needs to be this stripped down. It needs to sound like there’s one man behind it, hooked up to however many noisemaking contraptions he might be.
That said, one wonders what even a song like the opening title-track might sound like with some layer of unexpected percussion behind it – some pans being banged on, for example, or even the smack of two bricks into each other – in time with the track’s irresistible get-down pulse. The rhythm is no less effective for their absence, von Wieding leading the way (his own way, that is) with a George Thorogood-esque start-stop guitar and sundry grunts about the frogs coming into his house. I had no idea Hamburg had amphibian issues, but climate change is a bastard and at this point I’ll believe anything. Like all of Larman Clamor’s output to date, “Frogs” effectively contrasts its urban origins with countrified swagger, and in any case, von Wieding isn’t the first city boy in the world to sing about the swamp. He does it well, and “Seven Slugs o’ Mud” might not bring Frogs past five minutes into its total runtime, but the opening duo has enough movement in it to break a sweat nonetheless, quickly establishing and pushing forward within a heavy momentum punctuated by tambourine and a continuingly appropriate thematic of all things slimy, cold-blooded and found in or around pondscum. “Seven Slugs o’ Mud” is fuller sounding, bordering on some of von Wieding’s appreciation for Tom Waits – the organ would put it over the top on that regard, but it’s not to be – and makes a solid setup for the contrast that the instrumental minimalism of “Mill Wheel Alchemy” provides, acoustic guitar providing both melody and rhythm in a series of taps and strums that lead to thicker, fuzzier electrics, loosely, vaguely riffed behind a mounting solo that one imagines played through a busted old amp in the woods, far away from any ears but those of the tape machine onto which it was recorded. If Frogs establishes anything, it’s von Wieding’s prowess as a guitarist. As the sole instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter in all of Larman Clamor, he leaves himself room to handle a bit of soulful lead work in the record’s more atmospheric stretches, “Mill Wheel Alchemy” being one of them, before “The Mudhole Stomp” offers Frogs’ most potent take on the bizarre balance in the band’s sound between gravely-delivered blues and psychedelic grooving.