Sons of Otis to Release Live in Den Bosch LP Nov. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sons of otis

Science has proven time and again the in depth equation that any new Sons of Otis is good Sons of Otis. If we see the long-running Toronto ultra-stoners as object A, then we can truly posit that A to the power of n equals G times infinity. It all looks like this:

An = Gi

You can’t argue with the math.

Totem Cat Records last week announced it would offer a previously-tour-only compilation from Bongzilla and said at the time there would be another announcement following shortly. Live at Den Bosch will be limited to 300 LP copies — if they’re not already gone on preorders, certainly they will be soon — and is a one-time pressing of Sons of Otis playing live in the Netherlands in 2011. Again, the mere fact of its existence is a positive, and whether you manage to snag a copy or not, you should take heart in knowing that it’s out there.

Of course, the band’s last studio outing was 2012’s Seismic (review here) on Small Stone, and as they hit Europe this past summer playing Hellfest and more, they also noted that a new album was in the works. I think we already know how the numbers play out on that issue.

The band passed the 25-year mark in 2017, and 2019 would be seven years since Seismic, so if you believe in due, they’re due. But one way or the other you’ll probably want to chase this down if you can. There are two versions up for preorder now through the label, with the official release slated for Nov. 15:

sons of otis live in den bosch

[NEW RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT] Sons of Otis – Live In Den Bosch

Live recording from 2011 in The Netherlands. One-time pressing of only 300 vinyl.

TRACKLIST :
1 – I’m Gone
2 – Bad Man
3 – Lost Soul
4 – Haters
5 – Cosmic Jam
6 – Far From Fine

Preorders start October 30. Official release on November 15.

Cover art by Flog Diver | Illustration & Design

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofotis/
https://www.reverbnation.com/sonsofotis
https://www.facebook.com/totemcatrecords/
http://totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/

Sons of Otis, Live at Hellfest 2018

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Friday Full-Length: Various Artists, Emissions from the Monolith

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan


I’ll admit, it was thinking of the festival itself rather than this compilation in particular that brought Emissions from the Monolith to mind. The festival, which ran annually the last weekend in May in Youngstown, Ohio, between 2000 and 2006 (there was also one in Chicago in 2001) before its final installment in Austin, Texas, in 2007, was a pioneer of heavy festivals in the US. At that point, outside of showcase events like SXSW and the roughly-concurrent Stoner Hands of Doom fest, which started in 1999 and ran until 2013 in various cities, there wasn’t a ton happening in terms of heavy underground gatherings of its level. Run by Greg Barratt, then also of Tone Deaf Touring, it was a celebration of sludge, noise, doom and everything else heavy whose early lineups read like pages out of riffy history. Imagine seeing Penance and Bongzilla and Spirit Caravan in 2000, or Pale DivineWitch Mountain and Dragon Green in 2001. To-date, the 2006 Emissions fest is the only show Colour Haze have ever played in the US, and while its commitment to the deep underground was unquestionable in supporting bands like Test-SiteWooly Mammoth and Kung Pao, and its aesthetic would continue to expand, its foundation always seemed to be in raw, visceral and heavy noise rock.

Which brings us to the 11-track compilation at hand. The 2003 lineup for Emissions from the Monolith featured the likes of Acid King, The Hidden Hand, Pelican, Dixie Witch, Halfway to Gone, Erik Larson, Solace, Mastodon, The Atomic Bitchwax and Floor, and yet it’s telling that on the Maduro Records assemblage Emissions from the Monolith, it’s groups like Acid Ape, JJ Paradise Players Club, Meatjack — who featured Brian Daniloski, now of Darsombra, and who once upon a time did the best Melvins cover you’ve ever heard — Volume and Fistula. Some bands featured, like Kung Pao or Rebreather, didn’t actually play that year, but were staples enough that it didn’t really matter. Rebreather in particular, whose primo roller “Earthmover” is included as the second track on the CD, were the quintessential Emissions band, and as regards trivia, they were the first act on the stage at the first edition in 2000. Others, like Pennsylvania’s instrumental heavy jazz experimentalists Stinking Lizaveta were on their own wavelength almost entirely, but still kept that overarching sense of rawness to their approach, while Southern sludge riffers like Burnout and Ohio pill-popper sludge eternals Fistula brought attitude and scathe in kind. Kung Pao‘s “D is for Denim” reads like a mantra and also featured on their 2000 full-length, Bogota (see also: that album’s cover art) — their second record was also a gem — and “The Ballad of Sisyphus MacDuff” by The Rubes began a seven-minute loadout with throat singing before a showing of soulful heavy rock the likes of which still makes me want to break out their 2001 Underdogma Records long-player, Hokum.

Over the last couple years, I’ve talked a lot about pre-social media heavy and many bands lost in that shift from one generation to the next, who maybe had one record out, maybe two, maybe three, and then Facebook happened and they missed the party. Looking at the 2003 Emissions lineup, there are plenty who survived — The Atomic Bitchwax, Weedeater, Mastodon, Acid King, etc. — but others like Dixie Witch, Tummler, All Night, RPG and Abdullah, while they may or may not have stayed active, didn’t quite make the same kind of transition. Though they came back later thanks to the enduring affection for their self-titled, I’d put Floor in that category as well. And listening to the echoing forward drive of Volume‘s “Colossus Freak” on the Emissions from the Monolith comp, it’s not at all like these acts didn’t have anything to offer listeners, or like they still don’t some 15 years later. It really was just a matter of timing. Others, like Sons of Otis, who close the comp with the 10-minute drone-into-riff spectacular “Big Muff,” seem to have an audience just waiting for their next offering to arrive, but some of these bands are gone to parts unknown, and especially considering that, the importance of this collection is unassailable.

Emissions was a special event and The Nyabinghi in Youngstown, where it was held, was a special place. A regular stop on the Tone Deaf circuit in no small part because Barratt owned it, for one weekend every year it became a druggy paradise of barbecue, riffs, booze and volume. You can still see the hotel where everyone stayed from Rt. 80 on your way west, and it’s easy to imagine the scars left behind in that building from the years of stoner abuse it took. I’m sorry to say that there’s much of the 2006 edition I don’t even remember, less for the passage of time than the ridiculous amount of beer consumption the weekend brought. I remember seeing Colour Haze (changed my life; ask me about it sometime), and I remember there was some drama with SunnO))). I remember sheepishly handing Barratt a copy of my band’s demo and being “voted off the island” by a group of friends standing outside in back of the place — I actually had to leave and go back inside — and I remember being poorly hydrated. Thinking back on it now, I kind of wish I’d had my head together more. Story of my life.

But the point is that there was only one Emissions from the Monolith, and though US heavy festival culture is currently undergoing a boom, from Stumpfest and Electric Funeral Fest to Descendants of Crom to Maryland Doom Fest to New England Stoner and Doom Festival, the moment that was Emissions won’t come again. Of course, each of these newer fests is making its own contributions, but thinking back on what Emissions was and listening to this compilation particularly, one can hear the undercurrent of barebones fuckall that typified the time, the place and the room. For those who were there and those who weren’t, it remains a happening worthy of document, and as Emissions from the Monolith works to document even some piece of one year of it, it’s all the more worth preserving.

I sincerely hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

The week started off with punk rock guilt at all the shows I didn’t go to over the last couple weeks that I wanted to see and featured a canceled trip to Portugal for SonicBlast Moledo next weekend — surprise, I was going, now I’m not; that’s a week’s worth of suckage in itself, even with Psycho Las Vegas still to look forward to — so yeah, I kind of rolled with the punches as they came. Was bummed at the lack of response the Sleep live review got — I posted three pics from the show on Thee Facebooks the next day and those got a big reaction, so I guess that’s where it went instead of the actual review. I was really happy with the piece though, so I take comfort in that and if anyone else read it, that’s awesome. Making Clutch’s crab cakes was fun and I was glad I got to post that All Them Witches bio. The week kind of ends on a downer with that Ancestors review — the album is awesome, I’m just sulky because I wasn’t cool enough to premiere a track with it — but it was fun to get on a little nostalgia trip about Emissions from the Monolith above. Ups and downs, I guess.

Also had a lot of time with The Pecan this week, and baby-time is good time. He’s getting closer to walking — we’re thinking first steps in the next couple weeks — and he’s got a couple consonants he breaks out if suitably prompted. “Ba,” “ma,” “da,” “la” and the like. That’s fun. I feel lucky to be able to be home with him, especially seeing other parents I know go to work. Less over the summer — I seem to know a lot of teacher-types — but in general. I don’t know. He’s a pretty great little guy, and we got a baby-gate to keep him away from the Little Dog Dio’s food and water dishes, so all the better.

Other shit persists in follow-the-bouncing-ball fashion. I’ve been trying to be mindful of things like my general state, depression and so on. I was trying to stay off my meds for a couple weeks, working pretty hard to make a go of it, but I just flat-out failed, and yes, I recognize the language puts it on my effort when it’s not necessarily about that. Thank you, inner therapist voice which sounds remarkably like The Patient Mrs. Still, it’s been upwards of eight months now and every time I sit still for more than five minutes I continue to just absolutely fucking disgust myself. Even sitting here at the keyboard, I feel my arms at my sides and want to crawl out of my own skin. Part of that is I didn’t get to shower yesterday — grunge parenting — but I know part of it runs deeper and I still have more work to do. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those self-actualized I’m-okay-you’re-okay types, but it would be awfully nice to make it through an afternoon without feeling like I’m going to have an aneurysm. Whatever. Who fucking cares. The pills help, I guess?

Ugh.

Ups and downs. Strikes and gutters. Some you win, some you lose.

He’s a good kid.

Let’s do the notes for next week. Subject to change blah blah blah:

Mon.: The Crazy Left Experience review/video premiere; The Skull lyric video.
Tue.: Jody Seabody & The Whirls track premiere.
Wed.: Mr. Plow full album stream.
Thu.: Mountain Tamer track premiere.
Fri.: The Machine review.

There are a bunch of other videos I need to sort through and decide what I’m actually going to put up, so I didn’t list them other than The Skull, but Weed Demon, Ape Vermin, Black Space Riders and Windhand all have new clips out, so there’s plenty to plug into the week in whatever order I wind up feeling like doing so. I’ll sort it out over the weekend. Have another bio to write anyway, so I’ll be on the laptop one way or the other.

It’s almost six-thirty and I hear The Pecan waking up in the next room, so I’d better leave it there. Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thank you as always for reading and please don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Sons of Otis Working on New Album; Touring Europe this Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I really don’t even remember where, but I read something on the interwebs last week about Sons of Otis having new material in the works and that was enough for my brain to be like, ‘Holy crap, you need to go bother Sons of Otis immediately!’ So I did. The band’s been kicking around a little more actively of late — they played Psycho Las Vegas last year, for example — and as it will have been six year’s since their sixth album, 2012’s Seismic (review here and here), by the time a new one gets out, they’re nothing if not due.

Granted, the long-running Toronto trio did reissue their 2001 album, Songs for Worship, last year on Concrete Lo-Fi Records, and you won’t find me saying that’s not awesome or anything like that, but a new long-player from these drown-you-in-tone stalwarts would most certainly be a win. The more Funkadelic-referential jams, the better. Or maybe they could just do a 40-minute version of “Maggot Brain” as a one-off. That’d work too.

Ken Baluke, who is the man behind OxFuzz pedals, was kind enough to give me an update on the next studio outing from Sons of Otis — which will reportedly be out through Totem Cat Records — an impending live record, and a summer European tour for which the dates are still TBA, but which at least runs from Hellfest in France on June 22 through Stoned from the Underground in Germany on July 14. When I hear how the time between those two will be filled in or get any other details, I’ll let you know.

Until then, this:

sons of otis

Sons of Otis Update from Ken Baluke:

Yep we still climbing this mountain of fire 26 years later. It’s true, we have been working on new tracks and hope to get an album out this year. The new songs are very intense and cathartic. Also we’re touring Europe this summer with Bongzilla and Dopethrone.

So needless to say….it’s gonna get heavy. High LIVE’N Dirty.

We also have a live album in the works from our Euro tour back in 2011. Hopefully that will also come out this year.

Sons of Otis live:
June 22 Hellfest Clisson France
July 13 Red Smoke Fest Pleszew Poland
July 14 Stoned from the Underground Erfurt Germany

Sons of Otis is:
Ken Baluke – Guitars, Vocals
Frank Sargeant – Bass
Ryan Aubin – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofotis/
https://www.reverbnation.com/sonsofotis
http://clfrecords.com/
http://facebook.com/clfrecords

Sons of Otis, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2017

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Desert Survival: How to Do Psycho Las Vegas on a Budget

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2017 banner

Hey, if you’re going to go broke, let’s face it: You’re not likely to run into many causes as worthy as the lineup culled together for Psycho Las Vegas. It ain’t cheap — any event that advertises a payment plan obviously knows it’s a considerable ask — but whether you’re going to see Slo Burn for their only US gig or King Diamond doing Abigail or Mulatu Astatke because going to see Mulatu Astatke is a life-event, the arguments in favor are plentiful and convincing. Whatever else you want to say, Psycho Las Vegas is the first annually-held American festival with a focus on heavy and underground rock to really establish itself as world class.

That in itself is a reason to support the cause, whether it’s through a day ticket or a pass for the entire weekend, but it doesn’t necessarily lesson the expense of making the trip or staying in one of the US’ most lucrative tourist traps, let alone things like band merchandise, meals and the occasional adult beverage if you’re inclined to have one. The thought of seeing NeurosisSleep and Carcass share a stage over the course of a weekend or watching Conan, the new trio-incarnation of Pentagram and Yawning Man poolside or from the balcony of a room in the Casino Tower is incredible, and after hearing stories from those who undertook the journey in 2016 or attended the prior Psycho California in 2015, the idea wants nothing for appeal. Fiscal issues can be a bummer. By the time August rolls around, I’ll have been out of paid work for two months. I know how it goes.

And I’m hardly the most responsible person when it comes to money, but the truth of the matter is there are ways to mitigate costs for travel, lodging and other concerns, and if the thing preventing you from picking up a ticket to the show has been the seeming impossibility of affording a stay at the Hard Rock or of finding a cheap-enough flight to get there, maybe it’s worth trying to shift finances around to make it happen. Music is important, and when debt collectors are spamming your phone it’s hard to think about the non-cash value of life experiences, but the fact is the bills you need to pay will still be there. The bill with Corrosion of Conformity in a lineup alongside Kylesa‘s Laura Pleasants, Domkraft, Swans, Elephant Tree and Heavy Temple? Much less so.

Here are a few pointers that hopefully can save you a couple bucks. Some of it’s day-one stuff, but things like hotel picks and transportation nuances are good to know either way.

Check it out:

psycho-las-vegas-2017-poster

Flying In
• Buy tickets on a Tuesday for the cheapest rates.
• Use a discount flight search.
• If you can, fly in on Thursday and leave on Monday for better rates, search different days and times to come in and leave.
• Book early. Rates go up in the summer.

Getting There
• Ride apps cost less than cabs.
• The Hard Rock is less than a mile from the airport. Cheap trip anyway.
• There are free shuttles from most Vegas hotels to the strip and tourist attractions.

Staying There
• This one is huge… don’t stay at the Hard Rock if you can’t afford it! Alexis Park, RUMOR, Red Roof Inn are all across the street and cheap. Scope out a position on a map if you need to; that’s what Street View is there for.
• Partner up to share rooms. You’ve got social media and it’s not like you’re going to do more than sleep and (hopefully) shower there anyway. Might as well join forces and save expense where you can.

Drinks
• BYO. Vegas has open-container laws. If you think hooch is too expensive at the Hard Rock, get loaded on the sidewalk before you go in.
• One way or another, hydrate. You’re staying in the desert in August. Don’t be stupid.

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Lineup
Abbath, Ace Frehley, Black Anvil, Blood Ceremony, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Buzzov*en, Carcass, Celeste, Chelsea Wolfe, Cirith Ungol, Cloud Catcher, Code Orange, Conan, Corrosion of Conformity, Cough, Cult Leader, Cult Of Luna With Julie Christmas Diamond Head, Domkraft, Earthless, Elephant Tree, Eternal Tapestry, Fister, Floorian, Gatecreeper, GEQ, Gojira, Gost, Graf Orlock, Heavy Temple, Hollow Leg, Inter Arma, Khemmis, King Diamond, Laura Pleasants & Special Guests, Magma, Manilla Road, Merlin, Minsk, Morne, Mothership, Mouth of the Architect, Mulatu Astatke, Murder City Devils, Mustard Gas & Roses, Myrkur, Neurosis, North, Oathbreaker, Pelican, Pentagram, Psychic TV, The Rods, Ruby the Hatchet, Sasquatch, Saturndust, Sleep, Slo Burn, Slomatics, Snail, Sons of Otis, Sumac, Summoner, Swans, The Skull, Toke, Urchin, Usnea, Vhol, Weedeater, Windhand, Wizard Rifle, Wolves in the Throne Room, Yawning Man, Year of the Cobra, Youngblood Supercult, Zeal & Ardor.

http://www.vivapsycho.com
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

Pentagram, “Relentless / Broken Vows” Live in Richmond, VA, 2017

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Psycho Las Vegas Completes Lineup: Ace Frehley, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Corrosion of Conformity, Sasquatch, Mothership, Ruby the Hatchet, Heavy Temple & Many More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The Psycho Las Vegas lineup wasn’t exactly lacking in ‘holy shit’-factor before, but, uh… holy shit. The poster below is so god damned packed it’s got me wondering if they’re going to sneak in an extra day to fit it all. Well, I guess they are if you count the pre-party — a fest unto itself with the additions of Ruby the HatchetSasquatch, ConanYawning Man and Great Electric Quest — but to see acts like EarthlessCorrosion of ConformityDiamondheadLaura Pleasants of KylesaMothershipSaturndust, Heavy TempleToke and so many others added to the bill for the fest proper, it borders on the overwhelming. Sons of OtisYear of the CobraEternal Tapestry? I take back that part about “borders on.” Shit’s giving me the vapors.

Swoon.

Blah blah blah tickets, blah blah blah on sale, blah blah blah how much you don’t need me to tell you this is probably the best heavy lineup the US has ever seen. Also Ace Frehley will be there.

Full lineup follows:

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS

Psycho Las Vegas 2017

-CONFIRMED LINEUP-
KING DIAMOND (USA 2017 Exclusive)
THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE
ACE FREHLEY
GOJIRA
SWANS
NEUROSIS
MAGMA
SLEEP
MELVINS
CARCASS
MURDER CITY DEVILS
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
SLO BURN
DIAMONDHEAD
CIRITH UNGOL
ABBATH
CHELSEA WOLFE
CULT OF LUNA WITH JULIE CHRISTMAS
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
MULATU ASATKE
PSYCHIC TV
EARTHLESS
SUMAC
MANILLA ROAD
CELESTE
WINDHAND
PELICAN
BLOOD CEREMONY
CODE ORANGE
WEEDEATER
MINSK
COUGH
VHOL
ZEAL & ARDOR
OATHBREAKER
MYRKUR
BUZZOV-EN
THE SKULL
INTER ARMA
SLOMATICS
GOST
YOUNG AND IN THE WAY
GATECREEPER
MOTHERSHIP
CULT LEADER
LAURA PLEASANTS & SPECIAL GUESTS
MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT
SONS OF OTIS
SNAIL
MORNE
DOMKRAFT
KHEMMIS
ETERNAL TAPESTRY
JEX THOTH
FISTER
NORTH
WIZARD RIFLE
USNEA
ROYAL THUNDER
YOUNGBLOOD SUPERCULT
TOKE
SATURNDUST
HEAVY TEMPLE
SUMMONER
BLACK ANVIL
FLOORIAN
HOLLOW LEG
YEAR OF THE COBRA
MERLIN
ELEPHANT TREE
CLOUD CATCHER

PSYCHO PRE-PARTY:
PENTAGRAM
CONAN
YAWNING MAN
SASQUATCH
MUSTARD GAS & ROSES
GRAF ORLOCK
RUBY THE HATCHET
URCHIN
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 is set for Aug. 18-20 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Tickets are available at https://www.vivapsycho.com

http://www.vivapsycho.com
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

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Sons of Otis: LP Preorders Available for Songs for Worship Reissue

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready for some new Sons of Otis. Summer 2017 will make it five full years since their sixth album, Seismic (review here and here), came out via Small Stone, which by any measure is far too long to go without the Toronto trio’s megarolling, tone-crushing psychedelic stoner drift. Concrete Lo-Fi Records has stepped up to provide some means of relief for this by means of an LP revisit of their 2001 third offering, Songs for Worship, that’s available to preorder now ahead of a May release. At this point, I’m inclined to take what I can get.

Songs for Worship — the original version of which you can hear below because, unlike 1999’s Templeball, it’s on YouTube in its entirety; something I mention because I feel like I’ve had my eye out for months for somebody to upload that earlier record so I can close out a week with it — had the circumstantial misfortune of being released on Sept. 11, 2001. Not that they or their label, which was The Music Cartel, knew it at the time, but if you had to pick the worst release date of this century so far, that’s probably it. That bit of trivia aside, the album is easily worth the reissue, so pending any generation-defining terrorist attacks on May 1, keep an eye out.

For those not looking to take their chances, Concrete Lo-Fi have preorders available now. Info follows:

sons-of-otis-songs-for-worship

Sons Of Otis – Songs For Worship – Concrete Lo-Fi

SONS OF OTIS are pioneers of the lethargic heavy blues that fell from space in the early 90s. Along with Sleep in the US and Electric Wizard in the UK, Sons of Otis laid the foundation for a new stoned doom sound.

We are proud to present the Sons of Otis 2001 classic, Songs For Worship, on vinyl for the first time. Remastered with care by Golden Mastering and sequenced for vinyl by the artist.

Expected release May 1st. All editions include download card.

Sons of Otis is:
Ken Baluke – Guitars, Vocals
Frank Sargeant – Bass
Ryan Aubin – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofotis/
https://www.reverbnation.com/sonsofotis
http://clfrecords.com/
http://facebook.com/clfrecords

Sons of Otis, Songs for Worship (2001)

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Friday Full-Length: Sons of Otis, Spacejumbofudge

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 16th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Otis, Spacejumbofudge (1996)

What’s not to like about Sons of Otis? Putting on the Toronto trio’s 1996 debut LP, Spacejumbofudge, is like listening to Monster Magnet at half-speed — an engrossing murk of tone and gurgling heavy psychedelia that feels like it’s swallowing audience and universe alike. The core of the band’s sound has always been slow, lurching riffs and expansive fuzz, the bellowed vocals taking a back seat to the all-consuming low-end. Their nod is primal, and as Spacejumbofudge proves, that’s been the idea the whole time.

Man’s Ruin Records picked up the band for the 1999 release of their second album, Templeball, and did a reissue of Spacejumbofudge with Frank Kozik art and a partially revamped tracklist the next year. When that label folded, Sons of Otis issued their third album, Songs for Worship, via The Music Cartel on Sept. 11, 2001 — timing is everything — and were one of several acts to be picked up by Small Stone, in good company with Acid KingDozerNatas and (The Men of) Porn. Their fourth, X, followed in 2005, and 2009’s Exiled (review here) and 2012’s Seismic (review here) affirmed their reign among the most stoned of the stoners, guitarist Ken Baluke‘s branded Oxfuzz effects swirl making an impression wholly distinct from the rising tide of heaviness around them.

Some six albums earlier, it’s maybe not such a shocker that Spacejumbofudge is rawer than the likes of Seismic, but a lot of what would typify Sons of Otis‘ sound over the better part of the next two decades is right there on the first album, even if it’s not as jammed out. Baluke, bassist Frank Sargeant and drummer Ryan Aubin are reportedly no longer with Small Stone, but there’s nothing to necessarily indicate they’re done as a band. While it’s been three years already since Seismic was first issued, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find Sons of Otis rising again sooner or later with another massive wall of fuzz built up behind them. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Now, I don’t believe in fate or the tempting thereof, but last Friday, spiritually exhausted and physically injured, I had the gall to say this: “What happens next? What shitty misadventure awaits? I don’t know and I don’t really care.”

Once again, I don’t believe in tempting fate, but Friday evening I started getting reports that Ed Barnard of Doommantia had died, I put together a tribute to the guy and the reports turned out on Monday to be wrong — I’m glad he’s still alive, and I certainly felt like a jackass for saying otherwise — and in the interim, I got call Friday from my family in New Jersey that my 99-year-old grandmother was in the emergency room, in and out of lucidity and I should probably think of heading down.

It had been less than a week since I was last in New Jersey, and if you’re not from this part of the world, let me explain to you that it’s a minimum four-hour ride from where I live in Massachusetts. A not inconsiderable trip, despite the frequency with which I make it. I’m not 20 years old anymore. I get fucking tired. But it’s my grandmother who, again, is 99, so what am I going to do? Be like, “No, I’m beat and I can barely walk and I’m staying home?” Of course not.

Last Saturday morning, The Patient Mrs. and I hightailed it to Jersey, and I spent two nights at the hospital, Saturday and Sunday overnight, with about two hours of sleep between them while my grandmother, not recognizing me or my sister who also stayed, accused us of stealing from her and redoing her house — it was the hospital room — without her permission. It feels like a complete-enough review of the experience to say it sucked. Monday she went home and has been receiving in-home care since. The Patient Mrs. — who was brilliant and set up said in-home care and is wonderful and whom I’m so lucky to have in my life — and I were at her house, and grandma still didn’t know who I was. “Who do I have in my family that’s an editor and has a beard and hair like yours?” I could only point to myself.

What a shitter.

I slept as hard as I’ve ever slept in my adult life on Monday night, and Tuesday we came back to Massachusetts because The Patient Mrs. was — news to me as of the day before — flying to Austin, Texas, to visit a friend early on Wednesday. Probably better she didn’t tell me, to be honest, because it just would’ve been one more thing to worry about. In a welcome home fitting to my entire experience living in this area, I got a ticket en route to the airport in an empty (apart from the officer and I) speed-trap highway tunnel where the limit dropped to 35 miles an hour. Fucking perfect. I didn’t even answer the cop when he gave me the thing, just rolled up my window and proceeded on to terminal B. She comes back tomorrow, does The Patient Mrs., and I shit you not I haven’t left the house since I got back Wednesday afternoon except to get mail and take out and bring back in the recycling containers. I’m 33 years old. I’d blame the weather, which is shit forever, or the fact that I’m broke, but that’s not even it. I just don’t have anywhere to go. Unless, of course, you count New Jersey.

In Lord of the Rings, in one of the appendices it talks about how Arwen goes into the forest, I think at Cerin Amroth, and just sits there long enough that she becomes a tree. I feel like I’m about to become my couch. Like father, like son, but that’s a whole different story.

Not looking for sympathy on any of this, just trying to tell you what’s up and clear my head. A while ago I asked on Thee Facebooks about longer vs. shorter reviews and some guy said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m reading your diary. Less of that.” Ha.

Hey, seven posts today! Look at that. Have a great weekend. Smiley face.

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Buried Treasure and the Tales of Massacoit

Posted in Buried Treasure on December 12th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

About two weeks ago, I visited the “Not Just” Rock Expo outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and while I found some pretty killer stuff there, one thing I didn’t pick up was the 2007 Concrete Lo-Fi Records split CD between Queen Elephantine and Sons of Otis. The dude wanted $20 for it and that was more money than I had left to spend. I was bummed out about leaving it behind, and all the more so since I couldn’t find a copy on the interwebs once I got back home and tried looking. Seemed like I was going to have to let it go, at least for the time being, and maybe keep an eye on eBay or Amazon or hope to randomly run into it at Armageddon Shop somewhere down the line.

Well, a couple days ago, Indy Shome from Queen Elephantine dropped a line and said he was sending a copy over. It showed up today and it’s been the perfect thing to get me through an overtired fuckoff of an afternoon. The split is comprised of three songs, two from Toronto stoner lords Sons of Otis and one from Queen Elephantine, totaling just under 44 minutes, and comes complete with Adrian Dexter artwork and vibe to spare. For Queen Elephantine, it’s one of their earlier releases, after they made their 2006 debut on a split with Elder, but before they released their first album, Surya, and for Sons of Otis, it arrived two years after their Small Stone debut, X, and two years before its follow-up, Exiled.

Sons of Otis go first, their “Tales of Otis” embarking on an eight-minute march that seems to slow time along with it. There’s little more to it than thud and vague riffing, but somehow it manages to be grooving anyway. There are no vocals on either of the Canadian band’s inclusions, and interestingly, both songs include drums, though only bassist Frank Sargent and guitarist Ken Baluke are listed as playing on it. Could be a loop, I guess. Both “Tales of Otis” and the subsequent “Oxazejam” are repetitive enough in their rhythms to have that be the case (and that’s not a knock on them), the latter also a slow-burning jam that keeps the smoked-out feel of “Tales of Otis” going as Baluke‘s guitar seems to sort of wisp into and out of lead progressions. They’ve always excelled that that kind of ultra-chilled semi-consciousness, and in the six years since this release, that hasn’t changed at all.

Unless I’m mistaken, Shome, who handles guitar and vocals in Queen Elephantine and is the only remaining member from this incarnation — the band having since parted ways with bassist Daniel Quinn, drummer Michael Isley and percussionist J. Alexander Buck — was based in New York at the time this split was issued. He gets around, be it to Providence, Rhode Island, or Hong Kong. In any case, the band’s 26-minute exploration “The Battle of Masscoit (The Weapon of the King of Gods)” is a fitting precursor to the types of jammed-out contemplative psychedelic experiments Shome has been leading even up to this year’s Scarab (review here), albeit somewhat less expansive in the sonic ingredients used and the overall atmosphere. The will to drone is there, however, and it serves Queen Elephantine well as the piece unfolds, molten and held together somewhat by the drums but by no means beholden to them.

Because the idea entertains me, I’ll use the phrase “ambient as fuck,” but let the point be that Sons of Otis and Queen Elephantine worked remarkably well side-by-side on this release, and both give ample opportunity to let your mind wander in their psychedelic and engrossing haze. I’m glad I got to hear it on disc, and I’ll look forward to future sonic escapes like the one it provided me today. Sometimes you just gotta check out for a while. May I suggest:

Queen Elephantine, “The Battle of Massacoit (The Weapon of the King of Gods)”

Sons of Otis on Thee Facebooks

Queen Elephantine on Bandcamp

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