Wet Cactus Announce Dust, Hunger & Gloom out March 15; Premiere Title-Track

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

WET CACTUS

Despite the somewhat downer title, Spanish four-piece Wet Cactus sound positively vibrant on their impending second full-length, Dust, Hunger & Gloom. The follow-up to their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) is set to release March 15, and the band today premiere the title-track from the new album ahead of the release. I think it makes my case pretty clearly. If they’re talking about the desert, as the cover art would indicate, then fair enough, but that hardly accounts for the bounce in a classic heavy rocker like “Full Moon Over My Head” or its Sabbathian undertones, or the fluid jamming in “Aquelarre.”

If that’s gloom, I’d love to catch Wet Cactus‘ version of upbeat sometime. All the same, there is a bit of melancholy to the start of “Dust, Hunger & Gloom,” the song, which shows the patience that’s developed in the band’s sound over the last couple years and their attempts to fuse psychedelia, classic boogie, consuming fuzz and so on into a sound all their own. They’re young, and they still sound young, but that only helps them throughout the five-track/37-minute offering, which is represented well in the nod of its titular work.

You can and should stream the song at the bottom of this post. You’ll find it down there following the artwork and announcement of the release.

Dig it:

wet cactus dust hunger and gloom

WET CACTUS – DUST, HUNGER & GLOOM – MARCH 15

Wet Cactus is a Stoner Rock and psychedelia band with progressive hints created in the summer of 2013 in Suances, a surfer village located on Cantabria´s west coast (Spain). Formed by four pals born in the early 90s: Daniel Pascual Salvador (93, Bass and vocals), Ernesto Díez Otí (94, Guitar), Óscar Sánchez Marcano (93, Guitar and vocals) y Jaime Pérez Herrera (92, Drums). The local Auditorium was the place where they started to worship a genre which they had been polishing and personalizing throughout time with every single ritual.

Their first album’s sound is clearly influenced by Palm Desert bands as well as influences of other genres of that time (Grunge, Hardcore, Metal…).

These desert dwellers have been nourishing from the 70s and 90s essence. Dry and open mouths are common in their concerts, where they used to start off with incendiary jams to simply burst the stage.

Just about releasing their second studio album and once the basis of their identity are established, they keep going with experimentations: Pink Floyd´s cover, macabre games full of FX … all inside in a huge bong where they could hardly see each other.

Charming and humble music that makes you escape from pollution and not to turn into a fly to feed frogs.

“Dust, Hunger & Gloom” Tracklist:
1. So Long
2. Full Moon Over My Head
3. Aquelarre
4. Dust, Hunger & Gloom
5. Sleepy Trip

Wet Cactus is:
Daniel Pascual Salvador – vocals/bass
Jaime Pérez Herrera – drums
Ernesto Díez Otí – guitar
Óscar Sánchez Marcano – guitar/vocals

https://wetcactus.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wetcactus/
https://www.instagram.com/wetcactusband/
https://www.facebook.com/wombatbooking/
wombatbooking.com

Wet Cactus, “Dust, Hunger & Gloom”

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The Dry Mouths New EP When the Water Smells of Sweat Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the dry mouths

Some bands — one or two labels. Frankly, one is impressive. I know I post all the time about bands getting signed and it’s a thing that happens every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Bands and imprints both put in a shit-ton of work, and then they need to find each other, coordinate something everyone can agree on, make a release plan, on and on and on — it can be an agonizing, anxious process.

I mention it because as you look through the PR wire info below about The Dry Mouths‘ forthcoming EP, When the Water Smells of Sweat, you’ll notice there are no fewer than seven different labels standing behind the release. Seven. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that many parties standing behind a single offering. And it’s not even a full-length! I mean, don’t get me wrong — listening to the six-and-a-half-minute closer “Doomental VI: Law Far Low Par,” I get it — but still. That’s a pretty considerable gathering. Imagine getting seven people to agree on anything. Ever.

On the other hand, The Dry Mouths manage to cover a pretty wide swath of sound on the short release, so maybe it’s a case of everyone hearing something different. Whatever got the job done, kudos.

Here’s info off the PR wire:

the dry mouths when the water smells of sweat

After 12 years touring around Spain, and five studio albums, The Dry Mouths have made a name for themselves in the Spanish Underground Music Scene.

Over the years, The Dry Mouths have evolved and played their cards between different styles, from psycho rock to alternative rock or stoner. As a result, they bring us “When The Water Smells Of Sweat” (2018), a 6-track EP recorded, produced and mixed at their recording studio, Desert City Studio, and containing the singles “Catalonian Cream” and “Doomental VI: Law For The Law Par”.

“When The Water Smells Of Sweat” is released on 12″ and CD thanks to seven indie record labels: Aneurisma Records, Spinda Records, RadiX Records, Cosmic Tentacles, Surnia Records and Zona Rock Productions from all over Spain, and Tim Tam Records from Germany. The awesome artwork is by local artist Ivan Carreño, who brings the visual experience to the next level, closer to psychedelia.

ALBUM: When The Water Smells Of Sweat
YEAR: 2018
FORMAT: EP/MinilP. 12″ Vinyl and CD
LABELS (Co-Edition): Aneurisma Records, RadiX Records, Cosmic Tentacles, Spinda Records, Surnia Records, Tim Tam Records, Zona Rock Productions

TRACKUST,
1. Low Clouds (2:13)
2. Catalonian Cream (4:34)
3. The Whip (3:35)
4. When The Water Smells Of Sweat (1:13)
5. This Could Be The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship (3:54)
6. Doomental VI: Law Far Low Par (6:33)

Produced by The Dry Mouths
Recorded and Mixed at Desert City Studio
Mastering by Mario G. Alberni (Kadifornia)
Artwork by Ivan Carreno
Music and Lyrics by The Dry Mouths

MEMBERS:
Christ O. Rodrigues: Guitar & Vocals
Andy Reyes: Bass, Backing Vocals, Synth, Sax
Josh Morales: Drums, Backing Vocals

www.thedrymouths.com
FACEBOOK.com/thedrymouths
YOUTUBE.com/thedrymouths
thedrymouths.BANDCAMP.com

The Dry Mouths, “Doomental VI: Law Far Low Par”

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Fuzz Forward to Release Out of Nowhere in March; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

fuzz forward

To herald the arrival of their debut album, Out of Nowhere, Barcelona-based heavy rockers Fuzz Forward are streaming the new track ‘Despairs’ as the first audio to come from the four-piece. Sure enough, it’s pretty fuzzy, but the name-your-price single has more going on than the guitar tone of Edko Fuzz in Juan Gil‘s post-Alice in Chains vocal melodies and an overarching grunge-style feel to the groove from bassist Jordi Vaquero and drummer Marc Rockenberg. Whether or not or to what degree “Despairs” might represent Out of Nowhere as a whole, I don’t really know, but the track has its house in order to be sure, and if the remainder of the LP is nearly as cohesive in its approach, it’ll be one to watch for as we move out of winter.

The PR wire brings background and streaming audio:

fuzz forward out of nowhere

FUZZ FORWARD new song Despairs!

Fuzz Forward was born as a trio in Barcelona by mid-2016 with Jordi (Boveda del Sol, Mindust) on bass and brothers Edko (El Yeti, Rags to Riches) on guitar and Marc (El Yeti, Valiumbitch) on drums. After a few months trying out singers, the band found in Juan the singer to seal a stable line-up by early 2017. Writing songs took the front seat in the band’s schedule and it was during 2017, that the eight songs that will be part of their debut album, “Out of Nowhere” (due for release next March of 2018), came to their final shape. During that stint, the band also started playing live with bands like Sasquatch, Mammoth Mammoth and Electric Monolith.

The music of Fuzz Forward has its roots in 70s hard rock, the alternative sounds of the 90s and the stoner rock of the last decades. These are the ingredients for a strange and exquisite mix with crushing riffs, dark melodies and a touch of space psychedelia.

Produced & Recorded by Fuzz Forward
Mixed & Mastered by Jordi Vaquero

Fuzz Forward is:
Juan Gil – Vocals
Jordi Vaquero – Bass
Marc Rockenberg – Drums
Edko Fuzz – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/fuzzforward/
https://fuzzforward.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/RedSunBarcelona/

Fuzz Forward, “Despairs” from Out of Nowhere (2018)

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Grajo to Release Slowgod II on DHU Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

grajo

Certainly Spanish doom rockers Grajo have their classic-style elements in play, as they showed on their 2016 self-titled debut, but there’s a touch of nuance there as well, and as we’re still in the first week of 2018, they’re the second pickup confirmed by DHU Records, which has sent along the info for the vinyl release of the second Grajo album, Slowgod II. No set issue date as yet — put it in the “coming soon” file — but along with Son of the Morning, Grajo join a building roster of acts for the emergent imprint, which already seems to be looking to make a mark on the New Year.

Art and info follow:

grajo slowgod ii

Grajo ~ SLOWGOD II (DHU025)

Sophomore album released through DHU Records in 2018!

DHU Records is proud to announce to once again collaborate with the mighty GRAJO from Cordoba, Spain to release their second album SLOWGOD II on limited edition vinyl!

As with their first Self Titled album GRAJO is known to experiment with more sounds than just the mighty riff pounding you relentlesly, by using the Theremin, for instance, to create more atmosphere yet retaining a massive wall of Doom to pull the listener in and captivate mesmerically. So it is no wonder that they continue to dive off the deep end and rough up the ordinary to pull you into their brand of Heavy Psych Doom Metal.

The artwork will once again be provided by Antonio Ramírez Mentes de Ácido who did the artwork for the first Self Titled record.

GRAJO ~ SLOWGOD II (DHU025)
Tracklist:
A1. Altares 8:38
A2. Queen Cobra 4:37
A3. Malmuerta 4:53
B1. Er 7:12
B2. Horror And Pleasure 4:53
B3. Malstrøm 8:05

As with all DHU Records releases SLOWGOD II will be released on limited edition vinyl:

SLOWGOD Edition
DHU Exclusive
Limited to 90 copies
Gatefold jacket
Black poly-lined innersleeves
Hand numbered DHU Exclusive card
Comes on Clear/White Half/Half w/ Purple Splatter 12″ vinyl

Queen Cobra Edition
Limited to 150 copies
Gatefold jacket
Black poly-lined innersleeves
Comes on Milky Clear w/ Orange, Blue and Purple Splatter 12″ vinyl

SLOWGOD II will also be released on CD through Underground Legends Records

GRAJO
Liz: Voices
Pistolo: Bass
Félix: Drums
Josef: Guitars/Theremin

https://www.facebook.com/grajorockband/
https://grajo.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Grajo, Grajo (2016)

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Telescope, Telescope: Truth and Revision

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

telescope telescope

It’s a question of timing. We hear a lot about what’s commonly considered the Psychedelic Era, which ran roughly from 1966 to 1970 and could be considered the ground out of which the first movement of heavy rock was subsequently born. The succession isn’t so clean, of course. It wasn’t one right into the next. But trends came and went and different sounds were picked up at different times enough for a narrative to emerge, so that’s what it is. The Psychedelic Era.

Newcomer Barcelona duo Telescope offer a reminder with their three-song debut short release that the story is never quite that plain, and that each detail has the potential to be hiding its own devil. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Esteban Garós and Luis Pomés — the latter also of Lewis and the Strange Magics — the two-piece have an immediately deceptive modus, rife with aesthetic specificity that seems geared toward capturing the very moment when the British Invasion and the subsequent movement of pop-rock first began to take on psychedelic overtones.

In other words: when The Beatles started smoking pot. There’s proto-lysergic elements at work in Telescope‘s three initial tracks — “With Your Truth,” “Adrift” and “Not Your Game” — but no hint of anything like a bad trip taking place and Garós and Pomés, who also self-recorded while Pomés handled mixing and mastering, never lose the sunshiny pop flair that lies beneath the resonant fuzz of their tones.

The result of this effort may only be 11 minutes long, and it may ultimately lie somewhere between a demo and an EP when it comes to the actual reality of how it will relate to their work going forward — that is, one doesn’t want to read too much into it with the project being so new — but it’s a significant stylistic achievement that nestles itself warmly into a sonic place few bands inhabit or would dare to try inhabit. Telescope do this without snark, without irony, and with a sense of character in their songcraft strikingly developed for it being their first offering.

One might give partial credit as regards that songcraft to Pomés‘ prior experience in Lewis and the Strange Magics, whose twisted take on classic garage rock isn’t entirely divorced from the semi-retroist vibes Telescope bring to proto-psych in these three cuts, but in comparing approaches, the new duo is far less theatrical, and by focusing sonically on the years closer to ’64-’66 rather than ’67-’70, they also position themselves in a fascinating niche as regards how rock and roll began to use the studio itself as an instrument.

telescope

The drums on the straight-off-Help! bouncing closer “Not Your Game” are particularly Ringo-esque and sound recorded live, but along with that and the running bass, there’s a later flourish of synth and the vocal harmonies over top there and the Mellotron that pops up in the swinging “Adrift” speak to what were the very beginnings of studio experimentation that, in just a few years’ time, would produce records like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Are You Experienced? and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. That sensibility begins on “With Your Truth,” which opens and is also the longest track (immediate points) at 3:55.

A gentle guitar line swirls in backed by bright-tone fuzz and sets itself to easy-dreaming a quick verse that seems to hop into the volume swell of the hook, with a strut of low end that continues the smooth and crisp groove into the next verse and chorus, after which a short solo takes hold, leading back to the chorus and toward the couple quick instrumental measures that close. It is so forward, so traditionalist in its structure and so sincere and gimmick-free in its execution that one can’t help being swept up by it, and as “Adrift” cleanly takes hold with its opening bassline and the aforementioned Mellotron, the more blown-out vocals over the laid back instrumental progression give a feeling of variety to the EP that is no less subtle than the nuance of their style, Garós and Pomés showing an early chemistry between them in terms of performance as much as writing.

And I don’t know that I ever thought I’d find myself using a phrase like “the tambourine makes it,” but as regards “Not Your Game,” it also happens to be true. It is precisely the kind of touch that lets the listener know just how schooled in what they’re doing Telescope are, which seems all the more crucial their first time out, and it’s one more nod to the pre-psych age that also allows the band to sneak in more modern elements and weirdo touches, giving them, in essence, a familiar foundation on which to build a sound of their own. That they do so with yet another hook of such quality is all the more to their credit, but in line with the cheerful and sunshiny mood of the release overall and the temporal thematic, that quality is an additional aspect tying the EP’s tracks together.

In thinking of how a debut long-player might take shape, it’s important to keep in mind just how tight records from this (that) era were. As “Not Your Game” fades out, one is reminded of strong-handed producers keeping things radio-friendly with editorial tape-cutting and so on. A question Telescope will have to answer for themselves as they move forward from this debut EP is just where they want to put themselves in that balance, and how they can still manage to bring diversity of songwriting to a release while keeping individual pieces to such brevity.

Certainly it’s been done before — that’s the whole point. I’d love to hear Garós and Pomés take on a sentimental ballad, or an unabashed love song, or even the stuff of a mega-catchy toss-off single. There’s so much potential in their debut EP that it’s difficult to imagine the various directions in which they might grow, but they’ve set the task in front of them and they push through this introductory statement in such a manner as to make one think that wherever they end up, it will be a joy to follow along. Here’s looking forward to looking back.

Telescope, Telescope (2017)

Telescope on Thee Facebooks

Telescope on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Hallatar, Alastor, The Dead-End Alley Band, Hair of the Dog, Soup, Kungens Män, Smoke Wizzzard, Highburnator, The Curf, Ulls

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, gathered for round four of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review. After the technical issues with the site for the last couple days, I’m glad to have everything back up and running, and one more time I thank Slevin and Behrang Alavi for making that happen. Though I have no idea what it might actually entail, I don’t imagine switching hosts on the fly for a site with as much content as this one has is easy, but they of course killed it and it is thoroughly appreciated. We move forward, as ever, with 10 more records. So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

Finland’s Hallatar was formed after the passing of Trees of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge, life partner of guitarist and songwriter Juha Ravio (also Swallow the Sun). In the new outfit, Ravio pays homage to Starbridge with the debut long-player No Stars Upon the Bridge (on Svart) by using her poems as lyrics, samples of her voice reading on “Raven’s Song,” “Spiral Gate” and the piano-backed centerpiece “Pieces,” and by bringing in Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick to complete a trio playing nine tracks/40 minutes of deeply mournful/beautiful death-doom. The extremity of lurch in “The Maze” late in the record is matched by the gorgeousness of the chants and shimmering guitar on closer “Dreams Burn Down,” and from the opening strains of “Mirrors,” the emotion driving No Stars Upon the Bridge is sincere and affecting. Cuts like “Melt” and the mostly-whispered-until-it-explodes “My Mistake” have a sense of the theatrical in their delivery, but that makes them no less genuine, and though one wouldn’t wish the circumstances leading to the band’s formation on anybody, there’s no question that with Hallatar, Ravio turns tragedy into a lush, resonant catharsis.

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

Cultish echoes pervade Black Magic, the debut album from Swedish doom-rolling four-piece Alastor, and it’s not so much that the initials-only four-piece of guitarists H and J, bassist/vocalist R and drummer S take influence from Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it’s what they do with that influence that’s most striking. Black Magic is made up of three extended tracks – “Enemy” (11:51), “Nothing to Fear” (7:42) and “Black Magic” (14:27) – and with a deep tonal engagement, each one embarks on a huge-sounding sprawl of doom. Yes, the guitars owe the swirl in “Nothing to Fear” to Jus Oborn, but the echoes behind R’s voice there and the melody have an almost New Wave-style feel despite the “all right now!” drawn right from the Ozzy playbook. In other words, Alastor are preaching to the converted, and that holds true in the snowblinded Luciferian spaciousness of the title-track’s early going as well, but the converted should have no problem finding the gospel in what they’re hearing, and as “Black Magic” rounds out with its chanted feel, Alastor affirm the potential to progress within this sound and to continue to develop it into something even more their own than it is now. Familiar superficially, but sneaky in the details, so watch out.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

Lima-based four-piece The Dead-End Alley Band aren’t far into opener “Red Woman” before the dark-psych vibe and languid groove have properly emphasized just how much the guitar of Leonardo Alva and the organ of Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (also vocals) complement each other. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and drummer Jafer Diaz, Storms is the third album from them behind 2015’s Odd Stories (discussed here) and 2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night (review here), and it continues to blend fuzz and classic garage doom impulses on songs like “Headstone Fortress” and the shuffling “Thunderbolts and Lace,” the latter of which wah-trips to the max around a stirring boogie before “The Clock has Stopped” weirds out on extra vocal echoes and nine-minute closer “Waiting for the Void” brings in the progressive touches of pan flute and percussion. Even in the earlier, shortest track “Need You (It’s Enough),” The Dead-End Alley Band bring no shortage of personality to the proceedings, and confirm that the rough edges of their early outings have matured into essential aspects of who they have become as a band, completely in control of their craft and able to conjure an atmosphere both classic and individual.

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

hair-of-the-dog-this-world-turns

Making their debut on Kozmik Artifactz, Scottish trio Hair of the Dog give their guitar-led compositions plenty of time to flesh out on This World Turns, their third album, as they demonstrate quickly on the nine-plus minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points), but one would hardly call their songwriting indulgent there or anywhere else as “This World Turns” flows easily into the following seven-minute push of “Keeping Watch over the Night” in a resolute one-two punch that soon gives way to the shorter and more driving “Ctrl-Alt-Del,” touching on influences from Thin Lizzy and Scorpions en route as well as modern practitioners like Kadavar, whose stamp can also be heard on side B launch “The Colours in Her Skin.” That’s not to say Hair of the Dog — guitarist/vocalist Adam Holt (interview here), bassist Iain Thomson and drummer Jon Holt – don’t leave their own mark as well, just that their blend stems from multiple sources. A bit of Lynottism surfaces in the penultimate “In Death’s Hands” as well, which has a more subdued feel despite fervent rhythmic movement underlying, and closer “4AM” soars with enough vigor and soul – and a little falsetto – to give This World Turns a suitably smooth and vibrant finish.

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

With ties to Motorpsycho through guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, Soup issue their sixth long-player in the five-track lush melodicism of Remedies, which feels particularly aptly named for the immersion the wash that opener “Going Somewhere” is able to elicit. That is, of course, just the first of the spacious, semi-folk-infused progressions, and it’s with the longer-form “The Boy and the Snow” (11:33) and the psychedelic purposeful meandering of “Sleepers” (13:35) that Remedies truly unveils its considerable breadth, but the Crispin Glover Records release holds a sense of poise even in the two-minute centerpiece church organ interlude “Audion,” and the harmonies of “Nothing Like Home” bring to mind peak-era Porcupine Tree patience and fluidity while holding fast to the bright, orange-sunshiny warmth of the atmosphere as a whole, instruments dropping out just before three minutes in to showcase the vocals before returning to embark on the march to the final crescendo, not at all overblown but with just a touch of extra volume to let listeners dive deeper into the moment. Remedies feels quick at 42 minutes, but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

Prolific psych-progging Stockholmers Kungens Män return with Dag & Natt, a 2CD/2LP issued through Kungens Ljud & Bild (CD) and Adansonia Records (LP) that overflows with jazzy fluidity and gorgeous immersion. The band’s last studio outing was late-2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and whether it’s 13-minute pieces like opener “Morgonrodnad” and the even-more-krautrocking “Aftonstjärnan” or the seemingly complementary inclusions of the kosmiche-minded “Dag” and wonderfully drifting “Natt,” the album as a whole is a joy and a boon to anyone looking for an extended psychedelic meander. The saxophone of Gustav Nygren on the aforementioned leadoff and “Natt” makes a particularly striking impression, but with a steady, languid wash of guitar, synth and warm bass throughout, Dag & Natt wants nothing for flow, and the gentle, classy spirit is maintained even as the penultimate “Vargtimmen” ups the sense of thrust leading into the finisher payoff of “Cirkeln är Slut.” As of now, Kungens Män should be considered a too-well-kept secret of Scandinavia’s psych underground, though listening to Dag & Natt, one wonders just how long they’ll stay that way.

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

Whether it’s through the striking and gruesome cover art or through the lumbering post-Sabbath, post-Cathedral stoner-doom nod contained within, Smoke Wizzzard’s five-song self-titled debut LP thoroughly earns its third ‘z’ – and, for that matter, its second one – with played-to-form thickness and a tonal push that starts with 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Astro Lord” and continues to swagger and swing with due viscosity through “Reptiles” after the minute-long punker curveball “Soul Train.” The highlight of the Pittsburgh trio’s first outing might be “The Pass,” which has a hazy patience and some rightly-featured bass tone, but as “Run with the Wolf” moves from its early Electric Wizard muckraking to cap with piano and included howls for a doomier feel, it becomes clear Smoke Wizzzard have yet to play their full stylistic hand and the real highlights may still be yet to come. Fair enough. Something tells me getting stranger is only going to be a boon to Smoke Wizzzard’s approach on the whole, so bring it on.

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

If you hit up Highburnator’s Bandcamp and download their name-your-price Keystoned State EP, you might note the fifth and final inclusion is the entire live-recorded, 28-minute release presented as a single track. No doubt the Pennsylvania three-piece intend the four-song outing to be taken just that way. They begin with the “mad as hell” speech sampled from the 1976 film Network and from there unfold a potent riffly brew met head on with harsh East Coast hardcore-style vocals and more metallic growls. That’s nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Brass Rail,” and it sets the tone for what follows on the eponymous “Highburnator” before “Desert Funeral” and the Sleep-style nod of “Peaking at the Coffin” push into even more stonerly vibes. This melding of pissed-off disaffection and mid-paced heavy rock groove is particular to the sludge of the Eastern Seaboard – think of it as regional fare – but Highburnator find space for themselves in the rawness of their riffs and the charm of their puns, and by the time they’re through the four songs, it makes sense why they might want to present the full onslaught as a single entity, essentially giving it to their listeners on one overflowing platter. Got the munchies? It’s right there waiting.

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

Greek psych-doomers The Curf made their debut in 2007 with I and then went radio silent until last year’s Royal Water EP. Their sophomore full-length, Death and Love, then, arrives via Fuzz Ink Records with some amount of intrigue behind it, but either way, the sans-pretense heavy roll the band unfurls on “Dark Hado,” and the more uptempo “Smoke Ring,” the dig-in low end of “Lunar Lair” and the scream-topped start-stoppery of “California” present a varied take brought together through heft as well as the crispness of production and delivery, such that when it wants to, Death and Love can bite down hard, but as on the closing title-track or the earlier “Order ‘n’ Sin,” it can rumble out spaciousness as well. Whatever might’ve taken The Curf so long to put together a second album beats the hell out of me, but if they were looking to make an argument for a third one, they do so convincingly across these nine songs, which hold firmly to their overarching flow despite the emergent stylistic range.

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

For now, Ulls is the solo-project of Barcelona-based David Trillo, formerly guitarist/vocalist for the heavy progressive trio Lord Summerisle, but the hope seems to be to build a full band at some point in the future. The I EP might rightly be called a demo, then, but for the professionalism and cohesiveness of sound with which its three songs are presented and the clarity of intent behind them. With Trillo rumbling away on bass beneath, six-minute opener “Inhumat” fleshes out its arrangement with organ alongside guitar swirl and sets up the classically swinging strut of “Llot Convuls,” on which the drums post-midsection lead the way through starts and stops à la a restless King Crimson and the guitar joins with no less angularity. Eight-minute closer “L’Emersió de l’Executor” brings about a thicker overall tone, but holds to a similar mood through its first half, Trillo finding room after about the four-and-a-half-minute mark for a standout solo executed with the bass running fluidly alongside that carries the song to its fading finish just before seven minutes in, at which point a residual drone takes hold to lead the way out. That ending is telling when it comes to various impulses that might show themselves in Ulls going forward, but as an initial demonstration, suffice it to say that I makes it plain Trillo shouldn’t have much trouble finding other players to come aboard the band with him.

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Lewis and the Strange Magics, Evade Your Soul

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Out of My Home’ from Lewis and the Strange Magics’ Evade Your Soul. Album is out Oct. 20 via Soulseller Records.]

Somewhere in the vast multiverse of alternate timelines and fluid realities, there’s a late ’60s death disco stage that’s just perfect for Lewis and the Strange Magics. The three-piece — who in this reality are based in Barcelona, Spain — stand on that stage in orange and purple paisley-patterned shirts that seem to be moving even when the band is standing still and run through songs like “Ugly Face” and “Lisa Melts the Wax” and “RMS” from their second album, Evade Your Soul, with twisted smiles on their faces that hint at the cultish spirits lurking beneath the pop bounce and easy, fun-loving melodies. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Lewis P., guitarist/vocalist Javi Bono and drummer Ivan Miguel, Lewis and the Strange Magics marked their arrival with the aptly-titled Demo (review here) in 2014 and were picked up by Soulseller Records for the debut full-length, Velvet Skin (review here), which came out in 2015.

The current of quirk and pop classicism has been a running theme throughout their work all along, and in searching for modern comparison points, one might turn to the garage rock aspects of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and the production and songwriting clarity of Ghost, the latter of whom would also seem to be an influence on vocal arrangements for cuts like “You’ll be Free Forever” (video posted here) and album centerpiece “Out of My Home,” the guitars of which play clean and fuzzy tones off each other directly in strummed chords and riffs and leads before turning to the sanctuary of yet another of Evade Your Soul‘s landmark hooks. Those, too, are a running theme for Lewis and the Strange Magics, and as a keystone of their output to-date, they’ve never been so prevalent as they are across this nine-track/38-minute vinyl-ready span.

And as familiar as some elements with which Lewis and the Strange Magics are working might be — the Beatlesian jive of “RMS” is instantly recognizable in the post-McCartney sphere, for example — the band effectively craft an identity of their own from the entire swath, such that while the organ-topped proto-prog of opener/longest track  “Leaving Myself” (immediate points) purposefully leans into early ’70s vibes, the rolling groove that emerges, the flowing rhythm, the patience of tempo with which it’s played, and the subtle Satano-sleaze of the lyrics belong to Lewis and company more than they ever have. That’s one sign of the band having grown since Velvet Skin as songwriters, but it’s by no means the only one. An overarching aesthetic awareness pervades Evade Your Soul that can be heard in the vocal balance of “Ugly Face,” which is a highlight not only for its memorable chorus and dueling keyboard/organ solos, but for the arrangement of Bono and Lewis‘ singing and the bounce over which that arrangement appears.

lewis and the strange magics

Though they were raw when they started out, Lewis and the Strange Magics have always had a plan as regards style. With Evade Your Soul, they seem to have hit the point of bringing that plan to fruition, and in so doing, carved a niche for themselves that’s as much at home introducing a Mellotron in third cut “TV Monsters” as they are riding that texture along a languid proggy drift in the later instrumental “Escape,” where it cuts in and out among xylophone (or a synthesized approximation thereof), a steady low end tumble and a post-midpoint turn of guitar jangle that brings about a build to a final wash of fuzzy noise that leads the way into closer “Another Lonely Soul (on the Road).” Their songwriting proves varied in mood but is unafraid to have what sounds like genuine fun on “Lisa Melts the Wax,” with its falsetto vampire vocals — another Ghost connection there — and uptempo strum before shifting into a dreamy lead that maintains an underlying oddness worthy of Ween, but once again, decidedly Lewis and the Strange Magics‘ own.

Oh yeah, and then they go ahead and gallop their way into a fuzzed-out ending to lead the way into “Out of My Home,” because obviously by that point — right in the middle of the record — they’ve established they’re free to go wherever the hell they want and make it work. That confidence of execution is a boon to Evade Your Soul front-to-back, no question, and though moments like the verses of “Out of My Home” and the second-half push in “You’ll be Free Forever” are heavier than it might seem on first listen, there are points throughout these songs in which Lewis and the Strange Magics might lose control of their direction or performance in terms of meter or arrangement, where they might get caught up in their own riffing to the detriment of the song, or forget the structure in favor of drifting out more than they want to, etc. — but the truth is they simply don’t.

It still feels appropriate to think of them as a young band, if only because they formed three years ago, but whether it’s the swing that leads into the record in such right-on-let’s-go fashion throughout “Leaving Myself” or the Revolver-style melodicism brought forth for “RMS,” Evade Your Soul shows a burgeoning maturity in Lewis and the Strange Magics in the level of command they show throughout and the completeness and the complexity of their ideas. This is, in other words, the sound of a band beginning to pay off their potential. As they wrap with the tambourine-inclusive boogie of “Another Lonely Soul (on the Road),” Lewis and the Strange Magics reinforce the somewhat unspoken tightness at root in these songs, and as Lewis delivers the last line “nevermore” at the end of the song, he does so over a quick, cold finish that leaves one feeling the trio has much more to say.

That may well be the case, and one can only hope they keep moving forward along the delightfully bizarre path that Evade Your Soul sees them as having chosen, but whatever road they might ultimately take to get them to that late-’60s death-disco somewhere in the vast multiverse, they’re sure to continue to make an impression on their journey. Open up your skull and dance.

Lewis and the Strange Magics, “You’ll be Free Forever” official video

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

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Soulseller Records website

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Lewis and the Strange Magics Set Oct. 20 release for Evade Your Soul; New Video Posted

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lewis-and-the-strange-magics

Plenty to like immediately about the upcoming second long-player from Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics. Titled Evade Your Soul and set to release Oct. 20 through Soulseller Records, the follow-up to the band’s 2015 debut, Velvet Skin (review here), shows off an immediate uptick in the weirdo factor in a new video for the cut “You’ll be Free Forever.” It’s the first audio to be made public from Evade Your Soul and bodes remarkably well in its balance of sonic clarity and arrangement flourish — the keys, the call-and-response vocals, etc. — in a way that makes me look forward all the more to hopefully getting to experience the whole album sooner rather than later. Like for an advance review maybe? I’m just spitbaling ideas here. Just seeing what sticks.

Hopefully that sticks. This Fall isn’t short on badass forthcoming releases by any means, but standout stuff like this is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Album art by Branca Studio, tracklisting details and that video all came down the PR wire, and Lewis and the Strange Magics are also set to play Cheapstock Vol. 4 in Barcelona next month, about which you can find more info here:

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LEWIS & THE STRANGE MAGICS – New album details and video clip available

Spanish Heavy-Psych-Rockers LEWIS & THE STRANGE MAGICS are back with their second full-length!

“Evade Your Soul” will be released on 20th October 2017 via Soulseller Records on CD, vinyl and in digital formats.

Formed in Barcelona during the summer of 2014 and influenced by a wide range of styles from Black Sabbath to The Beatles, they shortly after released their debut demo which received great reception from audience and critics alike. Only a month later the band signed with Soulseller Records to release the debut LP, “Velvet Skin”, in August 2015.

With their new album “Evade Your Soul” the band offers a heavier and more psychedelic sound, highlighting melodic songs with fuzzy riffs, crazy keys, spiritual lyrics and a lot of groove. It was recored, mixed and mastered by L’Antoine LV at La Musaranya, a studio from Olesa de Montserrat. The front cover and all the artwork has been created by Branca Studio.

A video for the song “You’ll Be Free Forever” is available. Preorders start in September.

Tracklist:
1. Leaving Myself
2. Ugly Face
3. TV Monsters
4. Lisa Melts The Wax
5. Out Of My Home
6. You’ll Be Free Forever
7. RMS
8. Escape
9. Another Lonely Soul (On The Road)

Lewis & the Strange Magics:
Lewis P. – vocals, guitar, keyboard
Ivan Miguel – drums
Javi Bono – guitar, vocals

https://www.facebook.com/lewismagics
https://www.facebook.com/SOULSELLERRECORDS/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com

Lewis and the Strange Magics, “You’ll be Free Forever”

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